Sunday, September 27, 2015

So, what's best for the kids?

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I had always been the outgoing, fun-loving one in the relationship whereas my wife, she was the no-nonsense, quiet, introverted one. I smoked, I drank, I partied and was the typical “Chao” Ah Beng you would find in the 1990’s. Fire and Sparks rings a bell to anyone? She was the studious type who you would imagine going to the library after school, or hanging out with the rest of the classmates with homework in tow. We were as different as day and night. In fact friends were shocked that we decided to tie the knot when we were barely 24, and it wasn’t even a shot gun marriage lor!

We were young, it was all about you and me. That was until she, he, she and he came along.
I guess in our case, the opposite attracts and it was pretty smooth sailing when it involved only us. Differences were easily reconciled, with just some fights and shouting involved at most. Things are no longer as simple when the kids are involved though (one better not fight in front of the kids!). And now that Steffi is already in primary school, it is even worst! I always felt that kids should have a real childhood, not one that only involves tuition and schoolwork, an idealist. My wife would be the realist, and places great importance on school education and enrichment classes. At times I do wonder if it was really her interest, or the kids (I am so going to get it from her after this).

This would be my idea of fun and what's best for the kids at their ages now! Wouldn't it be nice if it's all play, whenever possible?
You see, I love my kids and would like to see them play and enjoy themselves. I would bring them to places and get down and dirty with them whenever I can. My own childhood was all about running about the neighborhood and playing with friends after school. School work was the least of my worries then, or even now. On the other hand, my wife would get terribly upset whenever the kids' schoolwork suffers and would even tutor Steffi late into the night sometimes, not allowing her to sleep. And then there was once when Steffi come back home with a test result of 13 out of 20. While I was already happy that she passed, my wife obviously thought otherwise. Does she love her?

Fun day in the park over homework back home anytime!
Even though this daddy was all about fun and play, he does have his "dark" side too. He is hot-tempered and can get really angry when the kids misbehaves or are rude, and will even smack them on their buttocks in extreme cases. You can say I practice the old-school type of discipline. The wife on the other hand, would often play the good guy after my tirade, much to my displeasure of course. Do I love the kids when I mete out corporal punishment on them?

Caning? Can or not? Anyway, I never use the cane one la. Louie was not harmed for this shot.
I am also the pragmatic (or stingy) father when it comes to buying stuff for the kids. There are so many items that one can buy for the kids, but are all these absolutely necessary? We all know how the kids can get tired of toys within days but my wife would still happily buy them toys, and often upon their requests. That’s how she shows her love. We may be able to afford these, but I always think that saving for rainy days and saving for the kids would be my gift of love to them! So who loves the kids more? When I never gave them the best I could afford, am I short-changing them? Sorry, cannot help but think of all the hand-me-downs that the kids had to use.

To be fair, I do send the kids to art classes too but I always make it a point to ask if they would like to attend them in the first place.
We definitely have differing view when it comes to raising our 4 kids and showing our love for them (and even to each other too). And I had a very thought-provoking conversation with someone I spoke to recently. She used to be a hairdresser in a shopping centre filled with lots of schools offering enrichment classes and she would get to talk to these kids when cutting their hair. Sometimes the kids would appear really tired and she would tell them to go back home to rest after the haircut. But very often, they would need to rush off for even more classes such as music or swimming classes. When asked why they signed up for so many classes, the reply would always be because their parents wanted them to. Never once had she heard of any kids saying that the classes were something they chose to attend. Are we as parents, showing love or simply making our kids live up to our aspirations? Deep down inside, you know better don't you? We all want the best for the kids.

Hijacked Steffi for her views immediately after her bath. She clarified after this one take, that she understood both daddy and mommy wanted the best for her. Very politically correct I must say!

This post is brought to you by Nestlé, and you can join us and the rest of the parents at Nestlé Baby Club Facebook page where you can find baby nutrition, parenting tips, hacks, promotions and of course, giveaways too! To win one of two sets of Nestlé products worth $50 each, all you need is to share this Facebook post publicly and comment "done" and 2 random winners will be chosen! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

AIR+ Smart Mask

[Review and Giveaway]

Even Leroy and Stacci longed to get outdoors and now they can, with their AIR+ Smart Masks!
Every year around this same time, we get same haze problems again. I remember it vividly because I was going different places trying to find masks for my kids. It was either the shops had their N95 masks stocks completely wiped out or they started selling them at crazily inflated prices! And the best thing is, that even when I got the masks finally they didn't really fit well on their small faces! And as much as I hated breathing in the haze, taking the mask off after prolonged use would bring me much relief too. For it was really stuffy and uncomfortable breathing in all the carbon dioxide and moisture over and over again in the mask.

The mask fits even Steffi's small and slender face. Keeps her well-protected on the way to school.
I am not going to beat around the bush (fire) but this new AIR+ Smart Mask is really just what our family needed in this hazy season. The smart masks offers N95 class protection and comes in 3 different sizes, suitable for kids 7 years onwards. The masks fitted nicely on the kids, unlike our past experiences with various other brands. And the best thing is, this product is produced by Innosparks Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of our very own ST Engineering! Quality guaranteed. 

The small and light AIR+ micro ventilator and the accompanying USB cable to charge it. 
The AIR+ or the micro ventilators comes with a cable for charging, needed no batteries and is especially recommended for children, as it helps significantly with the removal of exhaled carbon dioxide, as well as humidity and heat. Think of it like a mini computer cooling fan and you will get the idea. I had the kids try on the masks with their ventilators and they went on their usual businesses without any fuss. There's a light humming sound from the rotating blades when in operation but it's totally safe for the kids. I know because I had tried using my finger to stop it. 

AIR+ Smart Masks are available exclusively at all Watsons stores and the last I heard, they were literally flying off the shelves. Please check AIR+ Smart Mask FB page for updates on their availability and restocking schedules.  But for goodness sake, don't panic! There are sufficient stock for everyone! Please DO NOT fall prey to unscrupulous re-sellers online who created this artificial "out-of-stock" situation! I have some insider news that there will be HUGE quantities of stock delivered to the stores within the next couple of days. Keep calm and breath on! [Edit: The masks and ventilators are now available at all Guardian and Unity stores too!]

I had also been receiving quite a few queries after I posted the video above of Leroy and Stacci with their new masks and here are some of the commonly asked questions with our answers to all of them -

How often do we have to replace mask? 
These are disposable mask and meant for up to 8hrs of continuous usage. But here, we mostly use it for commutes, and hence you can safely use it over a couple of days, especially since our haze is not registering really high PSI. Just keep them in a clean ziplock bag when not in use. A good gauge on when you need to replace the mask would be when it feels increasingly hard to breathe through. It means that the material is clogged and you need to change a new one.

How to maintain the Micro Ventilator (MV)?
The MV can be wiped with a wet tissue on its surface. You can spray some surgical spirit using an atomiser to disinfect the blades etc. Spray into the fan of the micro ventilator and switch it on. The liquid will sanitize, and disinfect as it evaporates.

How long does the MV last? 
A full charge will take around 1 hour, although 30mins should get it to almost 80% charged already. It will last for 2 - 2.5hrs after a full charge, and the MV will last up to 2 years if not abused.

How to gauge the size to buy?
Check the measurement gauge at the side of the box, measure chin to eye and pick the nearest size. You can also check out this FB video. Although it is meant for kids 7 years and onwards, but it really depends on the facial profile of the kids. It is however not recommended for kids aged 1-4 years old to wear any masks at all because their lungs are not as well developed enough to support breathing through masks. Hence MOH advisory is to limit exposure and keep the young ones at home. 

The micro ventilators ($29.90) sounded expensive to me at first, as compared to just buying the masks at $7.20 (per box of 3). But it is this very device that makes the mask truly wearable, and bearable. We are so happy with the masks that I immediately dropped the company an email to request for some sets to give away to you, our dear readers!

I am pleased to inform that we have 3 sets, comprising of 2 boxes of S-sized masks, 2 boxes of M-sized masks plus 2 x Micro Ventilators each to be given away to 3 lucky readers! Just complete the steps in the Rafflecopter by 2359hrs on Sat, 19 September 2015 for your chance to win a set for you and your little ones!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

DC Justice League Run

[Media Invite]

The inaugural DC Justice League Run in Singapore took place on Sun, 30 Aug 2015 (thankfully before the arrival of the haze) at the State of Fun, Sentosa. And runners had a choice of which hero they would like to represent. One can choose to be Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern or Wonder Woman. There may be a few garang runners who really dresses up for the other runs that we had been to, but for this super fun run, everyone was dressed up as a hero. There were even a few elaborate cos-playing running Jokers (pun intended) around! The kiddos enjoyed the interactions with the many heroes and villains very much! Leroy even asked one Bane if his mask supplied him with oxygen during the run! 

The run took us through Siloso beach, up the forest, pass the Merlion, pass POLW, Tangong beach and ending back at Palawan beach. Basically all the beaches lah, and because Stacci was complaining quite a fair bit during the race (even though it was her idea that die die she wanted to join us), my wife ended up falling out at near POLW so that Stacci (and Steffi) could rest while I continued the rest of the run with only Leroy beside me. Was really proud that Leroy went the extra mile with me and completed the 5KM run for the first time. Although we took 1hr 24m 23s while the average runner took only 31mins, we were happily picking up rubbish and taking in the sights as well as photos with our leisurely gait,

I would definitely recommend this run to anyone who wishes to have fun, and keep fit at the same time. Kids would be so happy meeting all the superheroes, and it is also one run where adults can let loose and be the hero they have always wanted to be, without feeling out of place! There are thousands of other heroes on the run anyway! We are already looking forward to the second installation! Thank you so much for having us DC Justice League Run!

My own little "Super Kid" at the registration! Look how "into" she was then!
The whole family was ready to chiong ah! 
This is just the beginning of the fun run and we are already walking.
All still cheery except for Stacci who wondered what she had gotten herself into.
The first KM and the two was already asking how many more to go!
The second KM and they are already getting a little tired.
The kiddos with their much needed rest at the water point. The run was well-organized and everything went without a hitch!
At the third KM and only there's only Leroy left with me.
Leroy at the fourth KM point and still psyching himself on. Proud of him!
Well, he got really exhausted!
My joker Leroy with his many funny antics. 
Almost at the finishing line and he wanted a photo with the hardworking staff guiding the runners along.
Finally a nice photo with him at the finishing line, taken by a kind runner!
He had asked for his photo to be taken at the end of the race. See how "onz" he was.
The kiddos got to meet the super heroes and villains after the run!
One of the highlights for Leroy would be getting carried by Superman no less.

The kiddos with their well-deserved medals (for Leroy at least)
Look who photobombed the kiddos' photo with Superman?

Monday, September 14, 2015

I lost my phone, but got back my daughter.

Two days ago, I lost my phone. No thanks to a phone call which I answered in the toilet cubicle, which subsequently led me to leaving it on the toilet paper dispenser in the cubicle. I realized that like almost immediately but it was already gone when I when back to the toilet within 30 secs. I hope the uncle in blue striped polo-tee have fun playing with my half-spoilt, password protected phone. It gets incredibly hot when I charge it sometimes, don’t know when it would burst in flames! Yay, sorry, cannot help it lah, damn fed up with his dishonesty. 

The stolen phone was a birthday gift from my wife 2 years back.
Now, this was something I never really thought would come out from Steffi’s mouth when she heard that I lost my phone. She was actually happy that my phone got stolen! She went like, “Yay, now you cannot play your game anymore and can spend more time with me!” That hit me so hard. I knew I loved playing my game on the phone whenever I had the free time because that to me, is my only “me time”. I thought that she would be a little empathetic on my unfortunate phone loss but I never saw that coming! 

I was angry, very angry for the loss because I am such a stingy person who would try to save that few cents and dollars whenever possible. In fact, my wife had been asking me when I am going to change my phone because it was already going bonkers. But I just wanted to use it till it “dies”, just to save on buying a new one and also because it was her birthday gift to me. I still mourn the loss of my precious phone, the photos as well as my just-reloaded (that same morn!) EZ Link card worth $45.25, and also pained by the $7.50 replacement fee for the EZ Link card. But you know what? I also gained! 

I gained wisdom and I gained back my daughter and her siblings. I shall no longer be a prisoner to my smartphone and I shall spend more time with my kids and family from now on. Let my loss be something for you to ponder over. Have you been spending way too much time on your smartphone like I did before?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Should Daddies Stop Bathing Daughters? When?

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I had been bathing my firstborn, Steffi since she was a baby (and the rest of her siblings that followed) and I am proud of it. I thought that it was just the natural thing to do, helping out the wife as well. As she grew older, her long hair got dry and wispy from the frequent swims we went and she would also request that I help her put on hair conditioner so that it would become soft and silky after the wash. But then,suddenly my little one became not so little anymore.

How time flies! This is a photo of Steffi and Leroy years back! I asked for Steffi's permission to post this and she said, "huh, embarrassing leh." When she realized that I wasn't asking her to pose like the photo now, she went, "Cheh, ok lah, that one baby photo only."
You always hear the same thing from other parents, that the kids grow up too fast. I never really knew what that meant, or how it felt, till I became a father myself. I can't say I am a great father, but I am definitely a hands-on one and not even these disgusting things can faze me. In the blink of an eye, she turned 7 and is already in primary school now. I still gave her the occasional bath when need be, especially when the wife is not around and Steffi requested me to. Never gave much thoughts to that till the wife remarked one fine day, that I shouldn't be doing that anymore as she is already a big girl.

I still bath the kids now, sometimes individually and sometimes altogether. I asked Steffi if she minded me bathing her and she gave me a reassuring no.
To be honest, I was rather hurt initially as I thought I did nothing wrong, but there were also lots of questions in my mind. I clarified with my wife on why she said that, and she explained it was the "gender awareness" thingy and that others might "gossip". For me, I had always had the simple thinking that yes, Steffi should and would one day be fully capable of bathing on her own, and she probably would be able to do just that even now. But if she would like me to help her once in a while, I would gladly do that too. At the back of my mind I was thinking about Japanese families who even took baths together. I thought that would be a sign of a close-knit family.

So I went around asking friends about this and what they felt about me bathing my girls. Some said it was okay (but continued with a disclaimer), some were against the idea while others were simply amazed that dads actually knew how to bath the kids!

What is your take on this matter? This is a real scenario in my family where my wife and myself have differing views and I would love to hear about your thoughts on it. Leave me your responses as a comment below in this blog post, or you can also leave a comment in this Facebook post. Go ahead and blast me, or support me with your own views (as well as your spouses') on daddies bathing their daughters, or even mommies bathing their sons for that matter.

Three lucky commenters will each stand to win $50 worth of Nestlé products, so start typing now! Giveaway ends at 2359 hrs on Fri, 25 Sep 2015.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hegen PCTO™ Feeding Bottles

[Product Review]

I went to the launch of Hegen a while ago, with an interest to find out more about this new local brand of bottle. There was much sharing of personal experiences by parents as well as the founder of the brand, Ms Yvon Bock who also happened to be a mom of four! I was wondering how different or “revolutionary” can a milk bottle be? But the square shaped bottle definitely piqued my curiosity. 

Happy to meet up with the mommas from Bubba & Mama and Mommy Chuck!
So what was my takeaway from the launch? Beside hearing about the importance of breastfeeding all over again, it would have to be “PCTO” which is acronym for Press-to-Close, Twist-to-Open. To close the bottle, one just needs to push down the cap and to open, one just needs to give the cap a twist. Little Louie was also gifted some feeding bottles to try out from the lovely peeps from Hegen after the official launch. 

Hmm how come didi's bottle is square one huh?
I wonder if you had heard about young boys having a fascination with all things round such as wheels etc? I know my Louie loves turning the dial on my old school safe box and playing with wheels and I heard from some other daddy bloggers that it was the same case for their boys. As such, although Louie took to the teat well and had no problem feeding off Hegen bottle, he didn’t want to hold on to the bottle on his own. 

The following are the plus points I found from using the Hegen bottles – 
  1. PCTO – The easy closing and opening was great, for there was no chance of me screwing the cap on wrongly / inaccurately and screwing things up with horrible milk spills! Even Leroy can do it! 
  2. Easy Cleaning – The hard-to-reach corners inside regular milk bottles would be a pain to wash but not for these Hegen bottles where even all my fat fingers can reach. You do not even need any special cleaning apparatus!
  3. Space Saving – The square bottles meant that one can easily stack the bottles. Be it storing of breastmilk in the freezer / fridge or empty bottles in your cabinets. 
  4. Flexibility – This is not just a feeding bottle or storage bottle for breast milk. With a change of the cap, it would become a handy container for food / snacks and what nots. Think cereals or your baby’s favorite titbits. 
The bottles are available online at Motherworks or at their retail outlets, and at Level 4, Takashimaya Department Store as well

I personally love the idea of the square bottle, as well as the ease of cleaning and storage. However to date, I am still unable to get Louie to hold onto the bottle the way he would for his other “normal” bottles. Otherwise, the Hegen bottles would just have been perfect!

Pricing of Hegen PCTO™ Feeding Bottles and Teats are as follows:

Product / Description / Price
Hegen PCTO™ 150ml / 5oz Feeding Bottle / $24.80
Hegen PCTO™ 150ml / 5oz Feeding Bottle (2-pack) / $42.80
Hegen PCTO™ 240ml / 8oz Feeding Bottle / $26.80
Hegen PCTO™ 240ml / 8oz Feeding Bottle (2-pack) / $46.80
Hegen PCTO™ 150ml / 5oz Breastmilk Storage (6-pack) / $49.80
Hegen Slow Flow Teat (2-pack) / $12.80
Hegen Medium Flow Teat (2-pack) / $12.80
Hegen Fast Flow Teat (2-pack) / $12.80
*The prices listed above are in Singapore dollars.

Watch the official video below -

Hegen Launch Video
Posted by Hegen on Monday, August 3, 2015