Thursday, February 6, 2020

Guitar Lessons at Aureus Academy

I remember Steffi would often strum some notes on the old guitar that my mother-in-law brought over for the kiddos to play with, and ask me to guess the songs. I was rather surprised she could play a few tunes, but later learnt that YouTube was her resource. What else one cannot learnt from the internet these days?
 
 
It seems she also has guitar lessons in her school, but then she would have to compete with rest of the entire class for the teacher's attention. It is not exactly the most conducive environment to learn how to play music instruments, but there is only that much time a school can allocated for music. It so happened that a review collaboration with Aureus Academy opened up and they had a branch over at AMK Hub too. That made everything really convenient for us and we enrolled Steffi for her private 30min weekly guitar sessions with her teacher, Mr Hazriq, much to her happiness.

 
Now more than half a year into her lessons, Steffi is still enjoying her time at the academy, under the caring guidance of Mr Hazriq. I had noticed on numerous occasions while waiting to fetch her from her lessons, that Mr Hazriq looked and sounded like the most patient music teacher I had met. In comparison, my primary school music teacher was a terror.
 
 
He would update me on Steffi's progress without fail whenever I turned up, and share with me on the songs or techniques that he is coaching her on. I would also remind Steffi that she should be enjoying the whole experience and never to feel obligated because I know schoolwork is tough enough. We signed her up not for her to become a musician, but for her to get better at something she enjoys doing, and I am glad to report that she is still loving every moment for now! I am also looking forward to singing to her music lor.
 
 
With their many schools in Singapore, I am pretty sure you would be able to find one Aureus location suitable for your little ones. You can check out their website for more information and to book your free trial so as to gauge its suitability for your kiddo.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sudio Fem

[Review]

I was introduced to my first pair of wireless earbuds last year when I tried out Sudio Tolv. I personally found the sound quality really good and it served me really well. I do have a concern though, and that was losing the earbuds somehow!

The Sudio Fem came in a nice CNY package!

We are nevertheless, really happy to try out Sudio's latest true wireless Fem, which was just launched last December. And here's my take on the latest product that we got to try out for the past couple of days!

My Sudio Tolv is in black while the white is the Fem!

It looked really modernistic, comes in white, black, blue and pink, and even thought the name is Fem (sounds like feminine to me), the casing and buds looked bigger than the Tolv. At first I was kinda worried that they may not fit well but hey, I was wrong because they felt more snug then my Tolv!

Easy to carry everywhere I go!

Battery life is good and one charge can last me a couple of days as I mainly use them on my daily commute. A full charge of the carrying case would require about 90 mins and the fully-charged buds can last about 6 hours. However the carrying case can charge the buds a further 2 more times with the full charge!

The kiddos trying out the Sudio Fem but it was a little too big for Leroy.

Just like the Tolv, pairing the Fem with my handphone was as simple as can be. One just needed to turn on bluetooth, find the Sudio Fem, pair it and viola it's done! As simple as ABC! I do not have the ears of a musician, but I find the sound quality really decent and it felt immersive too lor!

Hahaha... need some music to cancel out the noise of these little ones!

I seldom exercise lah but I can imagine how comfortable it would be wearing these buds and going about jogging with the music playing! No worries about sweat or rain also, because the buds sweat and rain "tolerant".

The Sudio Fem comes with a special CNY package and pouch too! No mandarins though!

There is a CNY promo happening right now till 14 Feb. Get a special CNY package + crossbody pouch + buy any 2 sets for 10% off. But if you use my code: THEPERFECTFATHER15, you get an extra 15% off, for a total of 25% off! So hop over to http://www.sudio.com/sg/ and get your Sudio Fem with free worldwide shipping and 18 months warranty now! You are still in time to get a pair for Valentines lor! 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Gentle Giants Wildlife Tour

[Media Preview]

Wildlife Reserves Singapore offers a variety of guided tours across its parks that allows visitors to have a special behind-the-scene experience with the animals and their keepers. What I love about these tours is how strictly they stick to their policies regarding animal shows or contacts with humans. In short, the shows or tours are always about education and conservation, and not the usual "pay for photo with drugged / mouth-taped / domesticated / trained animals" that one often encounter while overseas.

The kiddos were asking about the whereabouts of the elephants in the photo.

The really lucky kiddos got to experience a preview of the latest Gentle Giants Wildlife Tour that will only be starting on 16 November, way before everybody else, and were treated to a very exclusive and intimate one-hour session with the keepers and the five Asian elephants in the Zoo. Let me share a little with you on what you can expect during the tour!

Hopped on the buggy to start the tour!

The first thing you get to do on the tour, would be meeting your guide at the entrance and getting onto the buggy to be ferried to the elephant show area. Along the way, you will pass by various animal exhibits and your friendly guide (in our case, Sean) would be glad to answer your burning questions on the animals you see. In fact, you need not ask, because he provided a very wonderful commentary and would ask you questions related to the animals instead. That surely entertained and educated the kiddos.

Louie had fun feeding the elephants!

The friendly keeper did an awesome job keeping the kiddos entertained and educated at the same time!

Feeding the elephants snacks will be the next order of the day. However it is not only about feeding the gentle giants, but learning more about the humongous residents from the keepers as well. Get to know their habits and hear a little more about the history of the individual animals from the keepers. There will of course be photo opportunities and the keeper would be more than happy to get the elephant to strike a pose for your group!

So how does an elephant eat a coconut?

This is how pills are washed down its mouth if medication is required.

A pedicure in progress!

Finally you get to the back-of-house of the elephants, which I had been told, was the first time the zoo is opening up the area to the public. There will not be tricks performed by the magnificent creatures, but instead, you will be get to see how the keepers communicate and train them to do what is required of them, so that medical procedures such as pill-feeding, temperature-taking and physical examinations can be performed safely and without stress to the animals.

Look at all those bananas! I was tempted to eat one too!

The jack fruit is meant for the elephants as well (but I would gladly eat too), probably as a treat!

The kiddos also got into the air-conditioned "food shed" where all the elephant food is stored, be it fresh fruits or dry rations and it is pretty amazing how much food the keepers need prepare for the animals daily. I tell you hor, the animals are really well taken care of, even getting exotic fruits such as jack fruits as well, and the fruits looked even better than those sold at some fruit stalls lor!


Some of the prehistoric creatures are already visible to the public!

That's because they are so big that they have nowhere to hide!

This paid tour ($98/adult & $65/child) is only one of the many activities happening at the Zoo when its "A Mammoth Adventure Back in Time" programming (16 Nov - 29 Dec) starts this school holidays. Get to know the giant prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth following the extinction of the dinosaurs and earn limited edition pins when you complete the trails! Best thing is, local residents get 15% off admission fees when tickets are purchased online, while kids who dressed up as Cave Kid (think Flintstones) gets free entry on 23 and 24 Nov! Don't say never say!

Thank you to the WRS team for the swell time we had this morning!

So do not hesitate further, check out the Zoo's official website for more information to mark the dates and thank you Wildlife Reserves Singapore for the invitation for the family!

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Gingerbread Man

[Media Invite]

It has been a while since we last watched a production by Singapore Repertory Theatre at KC Arts Centre. But it was our very time attending a media event at the place last weekend, and it included a meet-and-greet with the cast from The Gingerbread Man.

Great morning with fellow parents!

The kiddos with Ryan, Natalie and Alyssa!
 
Getting to know the characters before the show!
 
I really do not know how the performers do it, but I do not think I can ever bring myself to sing and dance so exaggeratingly for the audiences, which made the entire production so entertaining, especially for the little ones! I think it was also our first time seeing audiences dancing and singing along too.
 

 
I am honest, to me as an adult, the storyline was so-so only lah, because damn simple and predictable mah but if the success of a musical is how much the kiddos enjoys and remembers, then I must say the cast did a great job! I am still hearing my kiddos singing "elec-tri-city, let's make some energy!" out loud every now and then! I even remind the siblings about teamwork lor! Catch it with your kiddos, and you will know what I mean! The production will only run till 04 Dec 2019 and you can get your tickets here.
 

Once again, many thank you Singapore Repertory Theatre for hosting our family at the meet-and-greet and also having us for the performance!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Under Armour for Youth!



The name Under Armour only evoked images of adult sportswear in my mind, as I had seen them worn by athletes at many sporting events we attended. The brand is well-known and its logo is readily recognizable, but we were recently introduced to its Youth collection quite recently. Oh by the way you should check out their HOVR Collection if you are an avid runner who tracks your run data like speed, distance, cadence, and stride length. 

Leroy the Spider Boy on top of the unmistakable Under Armour logo.

My kiddos are not really particular about the clothes they wear and many a times it is yours truly who asks them to change into something else instead because they kept wearing the same attire every time we go out for events! They pick whatever they fancy and feel comfortable in!

I love their poses in their new hoodies and pants! Look really cool right?

My little models!

In any case, we hopped over to Under Armour's online shop to browse through their Youth collection and found some pretty nice clothings for the kiddos. It is only a pity that there wasn't really much meant for Louie as the collection is really meant for 8 - 11 year olds.

Louie with Leroy's hoodie looking a little too big for him for now.

The kiddos were ecstatic when they tried on their clothes and looked pretty much the part of cool little rappers as they struck their awesome poses for me. I must also add that the kiddos complimented that they felt really comfortable and confident in their new clothes, except that Steffi mentioned there were quite a lot of labels inside though. 

New tees for the girl's sporting events!

I am really honest here, kid's clothings can be pretty expensive when you compare them to adult's and their Youth collection can really lighten one's wallet, especially when one has multiple kiddos! But the quality more then make up for it and I am pretty confident that they will last from my first child to my fifth without any problems, unlike your pasar malam clothes lah!

Check it out! 

It will soon be our Japan winter trip come December and their new clothings will definitely come in really handy, keeping the kiddos warm while looking cool at the same time! Thank you for sending these awesome clothing for the kiddos Under Armour Singapore!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fighting Haze with Dyson Pure Cool

The Facebook feed of the average Singaporean is once again inundated with photos of blurry skylines with the keys words "haze", "Sumatra Fire" and "PSI". All of a sudden, it was like we were back in Genting, albeit minus the cool air but bundled with extra smoky flavour instead. It is so true that one often never appreciate what is available until it is gone. Wherefore art thou fresh air?

We know the general advisory for all of us when the haze gets bad, is to stay indoors. By saying that, it means one will also have to keep all the windows and doors pretty much closed to prevent the particulates in the air from getting into the house. That also meant you would probably rely on the fan or air-conditioning to stay sane. The filters in the fan coil units are really just meant to prevent too much dust from getting into the fan coils and does not remove particulates from the air!


The condition of the air may seem to be better indoors as compared to the open, but I am suspecting that it could simply mean human lungs are already filtering the particulates instead, if there isn't any air purifiers in the house! So the obvious thing one can do to improve the situation indoors, would be getting an air purifier to filter out the contaminants within the house. For that, we were lucky to have our latest addition in the house, our new Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Tower Fan TP04!



Ease Of Installation

I had only recently started using the Dyson Pure Cool a few days ago and it was all because of the hazy situation here in Singapore but here’s my take on this very intelligent piece of equipment after my few days of usage.

The Glass HEPA Filter.

The Inner Carbon Filter.

Simply put them together and fix it to the body. 

Came with a small remote control, but I had been using the app to control the unit since day 1 though.

First and foremost, it was really easy to fix up and I only referred to the printed manual after fixing up the different parts, just to double confirm. It is almost intuitive to install, only requiring user to fix the filter parts and outer casing, and without any need for screws etc. Everything just fits in perfectly.



Dyson Link App

All electronics these days are SMART and often required WiFi connection and this is no difference. The real-time monitoring and remote access control ability when it is connected to my home WiFi was really cool. The app is able to report the temperature, humidity and the contaminants present in the house, in real time, wherever I may be.

This is how the control looks like in the app.

These days, knowing how bad the air is in my house, I will switch it on remotely so that by the time we get home from work, the air would become much cleaner in our room. While this is great, but knowing the exact level of particulate matter (PM10), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the house can take its toll on health freaks by stressing them out!

The air quality can be pretty bad even though it is indoors. You can slowly see how it improves when the unit is switched on and we can sleep peacefully in the green zone.

But I am loving how the app also have the step-by-step instructions on how to use the machine, do simple maintenance or replacements and even shows you when you needed to change the filters!



Performance

While I have no doubts on its ability to detect and remove  air contaminants effectively in the room, one can be a little disappointed with the strength of the air flow if one expects the same feel from your conventional bladed fans.

Sleek modern look that most would appreciate.

It definitely cools but it certainly does not blow me (or my hair) away with its breeze, and can even get a little noisy when turned on at the highest power. Having said that I would still choose this over any of my current fans anytime for its air purification and safety, after having caught my youngest Starri trying to poke her fingers through my old fan cover more than once!

Bladeless and thus very safe indeed.

I do have an air-purifier at home but it is just a basic branded model that one just turns on and just assume it to be working. It doesn’t give me the type of control nor provide me with the detailed data that the Dyson Link app does, for me to have the peace of mind that I am providing the best for the kiddos and for the family.



Our Verdict

We had been living with repeated haze situations for the longest time and are generally quite foolhardy. It is almost like what we don't know, won't hurt us. But I really cannot say the same for the little ones whose lungs are not even fully developed or those with compromised health due to illnesses.

There are many brands of air purifiers in the market of varying prices, but if cost is not a concern, this would be the recommended product for any house. It is afterall a premium product (as if any product from Dyson isn't?) and having checked out the functionalities myself, is price-justified as well.


I just checked out their online store and found out that you can get $300 off when you purchase the bundle of 2 x Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Tower Fan TP04 which seems like a pretty good deal especially when one unit is not enough for the family anyway! You should check out on the deal here.



Disclosure: We received a unit of Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Tower Fan TP04 for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all views and images remains ours.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Toy-Catching: My Addiction

The purpose of this entry is really my own rationalization for my addiction and something to remind myself on the need to exercise more self-control. A note to self. You would have noticed a proliferation of claw machines popping up everywhere these days. From single machines at neighbourhood shophouses, to rows of colourful blinking lights along walkways beckoning one to try, and now we have a few operators becoming anchor tenants at the shopping malls! So what is happening here?

Just a quick snap of a small portion of my few months of playing.

This scene was reminiscent of what happened more than a decade ago, when some HDB shophouses were rented solely to house claw machines for customers to play and they were doing a really bustling business "selling" cheap China-made soft toys at prices way beyond what any normal person would reasonably pay for at the retail shops. But people were still happy to patronize, maybe because some operators were really friendly or the lure of the next catch was strong but most importantly, the excitement when one is playing. There is a also a slim chance of you getting it cheaper than what the toy is actually worth. In other words, it is a gamble and the thrill is deadly.

I was already addicted once back in 2008 when Steffi was barely a few months old but stopped after a year or two and that was followed by the decline in toy-catching craze and the closure of many small operators. So what we are seeing now in year 2019, is a resurgence and they are back in full force. Some operators go the mass market way of cheap non-licensed items that are easily caught while others go the premium route of having authentic products but with harder game plays that cost much more.

From my own experience, it is usually the case whereby one is lulled into easy wins at the pasar malam stores before progressing to the "expert" levels. All being equal, having prior experience with the same setup, thinking out of the box at times, plus knowing your physics does give one an advantage. But you need to know the hard truth is, whether one is able to catch anything from the machines, really lies in the hand of the one who sets up the machines. To many, I may seem like an "expert" toy-catcher but I must quantify that I only play more than most people, and am totally not an expert at all, because the real expert knows when to stop, especially on days when the set up is for players to fail due to earlier payouts.

I am really a miser when it comes to spending money for anything and would calculate and ensure the best value for money before making any purchases. And yet I am such a loser now, paying so much for some of the toys that one can buy cheaper off the racks just for the thrill at the moment. The feeling is so much akin to playing those jackpot machines. I know, because I was once very much addicted to gambling at the casinos. I console myself that when I lose at the casino, I lose everything but for toy-catching, I would at least bring back some toys. 

However I find it really alarming that I am spending way too much money these days on these machines and feels very ashamed now, hence this post. I know I needed to stop but the excitement and adrenaline rush when playing the machines kept me going back for more. The worst thing is, there are even toy-catching apps for the days I cannot be out physically. I needed to stop. Period. 

It is all fine and dandy if one only passes by these machines occasionally and spends a few dollars just for the fun of it. However when one reaches my level of addiction and is always thinking about playing, then help is needed. So please stop me if you happen to see me at the arcades and tell me off in my face! But if you are just as addicted as me, always thinking of playing but yet not knowing what to do with all the toys, and often feel sad when tallying up all the money spent, let's do it together and stop! Toy-catching is really not as innocent as it may seem.