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Thursday, October 23, 2014

An Indulgent Day Away - Sunday Garden Party

As parents of younger kids, we would often dream about going away on a vacation, being away from the usual shopping malls we visit and just chilling on the beach. And having to plan the vacation with a 3 year old and 1 year old in mind, putting together the endless packing list of diapers, milk powder, first aid kit, just in case medication, meal plans, clothes for the little ones for outdoor play, for indoor play, for the beach – it seemed like mission impossible. In fact, it stresses me out too much before even making the trip.

How does a garden party by the sea with a sumptuous spread of fresh seafood, grilled meats and decadent dessert sound to you? Top that with entertainment for the kids and water play after, all on our sunny island! Here’s our day away at Sunday Garden Party at Atmosphere By The Sea in Shangri La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa. It’s almost like a day trip for us.

Driving into Sentosa, and arriving at Shangri La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, we headed directly towards Atmosphere by The Sea. There were both indoor and outdoor seating and with two kids who are bound to perspire in the afternoon sun (and us as well, from fussing over them), we went for indoor seating. It was truly a relaxing and nice view from our dining area as most tables were facing the sea view. 

Walking through the line of food, all meticulously prepared and displayed, I was in awe. I went for the fresh seafood first as I was attracted by the seafood tower overflowing with king crab legs, lobsters, prawns and oysters. This was my favourite and I went back for more. The king crab legs were so succulent and sweet, and the prawns and lobsters all tempted me go for more servings. Just look at this spread. 

There was a live carving station, with succulent roasts, in the outdoors by the waterfront. 

And a comprehensive array of appetisers, soups, pastas.

Here's the selection of over 12 types of gourmet cheese imported from France.

Especially for the kids, there was a special buffet corner including hotdog buns, nuggets and fries, waffles and pancakes as well as spaghetti bolognaise. How thoughtful. Although these weren’t the most healthy options but they sure kept the kids happy. I love the fries and nuggets too and stole some from their plates. 

Always leaving room for dessert, I could not decide which not to go for. Just look at their presentation. We ended up trying a little of everything and I especially like their macarons and cheese cake.

There was also an ice cream station for the kids to personalize their own ice cream flavors and toppings. I was impressed by the very attentive and caring service staff throughout, how they greeted us at the door, arranging for the utensils and drinks for the kids and helping them at the buffet line. 

There was a live music performance, and for the kids, a magic show and balloon sculpting by the sea. This gave us a breather when the kids participated in the activities. 

We went to chill by the sea before making our way to water play in the resort. 

The Sunday Garden Party includes complimentary access to the resort’s natural water swimming pool, children’s slides and splash pad so do remember to pack your swim suits. Simply check with the restaurant staff for your wrist tag to access the water area. What a great idea, to burn off the calories and for the kids to enjoy water play. 

It was a truly indulgent day away for us and we would recommend this for families with young kids as it was very family friendly, almost 80% of the diners were with kids. The restaurant staff were all really good with kids and they came by frequently to check if we needed anything. Parking was also just by the water play area so it was convenient for us to bring our strollers and still be able to access the car if we forgot anything. Free parking is available on a first come first served basis, ask for your parking coupon before you leave the restaurant. 

Totally exhausted after a fun-filled day
The Sunday Garden Party at Atmosphere by the sea is available at S$138++ per adult. One child below 12 years dines free with every paying adult, and S$28++ applies for each additional child (including free-flowing soft drinks and juices). It is available from 12pm – 3pm so do call early for reservations to avoid disappointments.

For reservations or enquiries, please call (65) 6371 1966 or e-mail

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Shangri La’s Rasa Sentosa. All opinions are ours.

What are you scared of Mummy?

I am scared of cats. When there's a cat standing in the way of my path, I will make a big detour just so we will not cross paths. When a cat comes to our table at dinner, I will lose my appetite worrying about it brushing against my legs. My hair will stand and even typing about it now. I do not dislike cats and I can't explain why but I fear them and I know they can sense it as they often give me a stare and a hostile meow, like they are asking me to back off or they will come to me.

After having kids, I feel that I have to put on a brave front so as not to influence them to be scared of the things I have fear for. And very often, cats are the first animals kids learn to identify so they get all excited, calling out to the cats and attempting to touch them. When they start walking, the kids also try to be friendly and get real close to the cats and asking me to snap photos with my jelly hands.

Good luck to me now that Ava's first words are 'cat cat' and she enjoys going on a cat hunt in the evenings.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reviewed: Recaro Monza Nova car seat

Being an active advocate of using car seats, I have heard varied accounts of how my friends’ kids would reject their car seats. It seems to be an impossible task to entice/force/coax the little ones to climb onto one. Parents need all the help they can get, and luckily, we discovered that the amazing Recaro Monza Nova car seat can make our lives much easier.

Aiden weighs around 20kg and is tall for his age, which meant that he has to use the booster seat (group II/III). For quite some time, he was using the Maxi Cosi Rodi Airprotect. We loved it for the sleekness and relative comfort, and above all its speed of installation. It was the Volkswagen of car seats - nicely designed, comfortable and quick.

When Mums & Babes sent over the Recaro Monza Nova car seat for a long term review, little did we know that it was the Rolls Royce of car seats! Just go through the list of features and you will understand why.
  • Extra-stable anti-static side pads reduce crash-generated forces to the head, neck and shoulders by up to 30%
  • Additional foam padding protects the side and head areas
  • Special crash and ventilation slots in the side wings
  • Extra-firm armrests for even greater protection in the event of a side impact
  • Seatfix locking arms anchor to the car’s Isofix holders
  • Depth-adjustable headrest prevents the child’s head from falling forward while sleeping
  • Ventilated foam for excellent seating ergonomics
  • Innovative Recaro Air Circulation System ensures that air always circulates freely, ensuring a pleasant seating climate.
  • Recaro Sound System with integrated speakers and MP3 player pocket
  • Eleven-point height-adjustable headrest
At this point, you should be doing a double take of the list and saying “What???? MP3? Integrated speakers?!?!”

Yes, the Recaro Monza Nova allows you to connect your kid’s entertainment devices and play the audio through the seat’s integrated speakers at a safe volume that is just loud enough for them. Yes, you no longer have to sing along to Barney’s “I love you, you love me…”, because you can’t really hear it from the driver’s seat.

Although it is quite a hassle to install it, even with isofix (the car seat is quite hefty), you would love the solidness of the car seat. One tip would be to get a seat protector or place a small towel underneath the car seat to avoid permanently damaging your seat leather. Recaro is a brand that is synonymous with highly supportive racing seats, and you could see that they put their expertise into good use here. The headrest height is highly adjustable, and the side protection is thick but non-intrusive. With the Maxi Cosi, I always have to worry about Aiden dozing off in the car, as he will often lean excessively to the sides or even to the front. Comparatively, it is never a problem with the Recaro Monza Nova. The side cushion keeps him in the right place/position.

If you ask the little ones, they will love it for the comfort and high seating position. I think the combination of the materials used and the innovative air circulation system makes the Recaro Monza Nova a super comfortable place to be, even for an active/always sweating boy like Aiden. The relatively high seating position also makes it easier for kids to look out of the car. Not that they need the extra distraction from outside though. They are probably busy singing to the music coming out of the car seat anyway. Or busy catching a nap!

The Recaro Monza Nova car seat is available at Mums & Babes and retails for $568 (promo price).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Losing it

Aiden has always been a competitive kid. Be it pressing of the lift button, or the racing of his toy cars, or simply running from point A to B, he always wanted to be first and has always found it upsetting to lose. He would get mad, cry, shout, and even ask you to stop whenever he is losing.

When I told him about the many competitions that I had won in the past, he insisted that I take the trophies and medals out from the storeroom and show it to him. He was fascinated as I explained to him what the trophies and medals were for, and I could see the sparkle in his eyes. For some reason, he preferred winning trophies to medals. Maybe bigger is better to him.

As much as I was happy to see him looking up to me, I was very concerned that he could not handle failure. Not everyone can be a winner and I wasn’t going to give him prizes just for participating. Besides EQ and IQ, I feel that it is important for Aiden to develop his AQ - Adversity Quotient. Since young, we told him to try to win, but the most important thing is to have done his best. We also make it a point to praise his efforts (regardless winning or losing) and encourage him to try again whenever he fails at something.

We weren’t sure how he would react in a proper race against strangers, so we were really looking forward to the Baby & Junior Race organised by eXplorerkid at Downtown East Pasir Ris last week. Secretly, I was hoping that he would lose so that I could use it as an opportunity for him to learn about losing. I was apprehensive leading up to the race though, as he kept on asking about whether there will be trophies to win there.

The race involved running short distances to collect puzzle pieces, and then using those pieces to build a structure that mirrors a random picture. Parents were not allowed to touch the child or the puzzle pieces but could give instructions. So difficult!

As there were many heats in our age category, there was plenty of time for me to observe how other teams handled the race. There were kids who were competitive, and there were kids who didn’t seem to know that they were in a race. Many couldn’t finish the puzzle within the time limit of 3 minutes, while some decided to go freestyle and make their own design. Disturbingly, some parents scolded their child for not being able to complete the puzzle, and some left looking visibly frustrated.

I told Aiden that our strategy was for him to pick up two puzzle pieces each time with both hands to save time. I also explained that he must mirror the picture exactly with the puzzle pieces. Just before our turn came, I reminded him to try his best. And then I prayed that we didn’t win.

I was so glad that it went according to plan! He completed the race in just over a minute and came in second in the heat. I was beaming with pride because he followed my instructions and was so focused on the tasks! He did ask whether he won but we told him we would have to wait for the results. We didn’t stay for the overall results as it was getting late and headed straight for lunch.

I thought he was upset about the race, as he didn’t ask about the trophies after lunch. After dinner, I couldn’t wait any longer.

Me: Aiden, do you want to know if you won a trophy today?

Aiden: <silence>

Me: Actually, you did well in our heat, but there were many other kids in the same category and you didn’t win the race.

Aiden: <silence>

Me: How do you feel? Are you sad?

Aiden: ... No.

Me: But you didn’t win a trophy. You are ok?

Aiden: ... It is ok.

Me: Why do you think it is ok?

Aiden: I tried my best!

I have never found so much joy in brainwashing people. Well done my dear Aiden. Looking forward to seeing you up a podium to collect your first trophies!
Friday, October 3, 2014

Stylish Boots For Baby & Kids: Dr. Martens A/W 2014 Kids' Collection

Looking for a stylish first pair of boots for baby or your active toddler? Now, parents who love the original Dr. Marten's range of boots need not look further. The brand well known for setting standards for comfort, durability, design and its trademark look since 1960, has its own line of baby and kids shoes. Check out their A/W'14 Kids' Collection, available in three age groups: babies, toddlers and juniors. 

Auburn in Small British Camo T Canvas & Vintage Garden Softy T

The baby booties make such unique baby shower gifts as they are packaged in a miniature version of a traditional Dr. Martens shoe box with a ribbon and gift tag. They are made to replicate a 1460 8-eye boot but with a soft sole and attention to detail - the famous sole pattern is replicated on the base of the booties, the yellow stitch and fabric heel tab at the back.

Stand out from the crowd with these must haves for your kids' wardrobe to give their outfits an extra ooomph and to boost the mini fashionista look. We visited their store at Orchard Central to check out the new range and had a hard time deciding on the styles and the classic leather or unique prints.

Here are our choices for Aiden and Ava.

On Aiden:
Bruiser Junior Capper Boot 
Material: Softy T, Price: $139

An exact replica of the original Capper Boot, this pair of boots has the distinctive contrast stitch, the yellow and black heel loop and gold branding on the side. There's also a side zip for ease of use by small fingers. Love the light weight soft leather, which helps Aiden get used to wearing boots. It's definitely comfortable to run about and jump in, judging from the way he does, with Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole. We went with the classic black as it is not easy finding the right pair of black foot wear. This gives an edge to the outfit he's wearing and goes perfectly well with his new hairstyle too.


On Ava:
Brooklee Infant Lace Boot (Green Camo)
Material: Em Small British Camo Waxy, Price: $99

This 4 eyelet infant boot in green camo print is an unusual choice for a girl. We wanted to steer away from the girly prints and to add a twist to Ava's outfits with this pair of boots. This also comes with the classic attributes of yellow stitch, heel loop, Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole and a side zip for little fingers. She loves playing with the heel loop now and this keeps her occupied during car rides.

Good things do come in small packages.

Dr. Marten's A/W '14 Kids' Collection ranges from $79 for the Auburn Lace Bootie to $159 for the Delaney Juniors Lace Boot. The collection is now available at Dr. Martens stores in Singapore. Visit them to browse the various designs and for a size fit. As some pieces are limited, do visit them soon to avoid disappointments! 

Dr. Martens Stores
Orchard Central #03-05, 181 Orchard Road Singapore 238896 (Tel: 6884 7578)
Wheelock Place #02-17A, 501 Orchard Road Singapore 238880 (Tel: 6737 6278)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Better late than never: Making time for the kids

When I was still at my full time job, the only time spent with Aiden (who was then our only child) was a few hours each night, usually after dinner and bedtime. As a brand manager in a multi-brand retail concept in the beauty industry, there was never a dull moment at work. I love what I was doing and never felt that it was a chore even when I had to work into the night for event set-up, going to work on weekends for a consumer event. I brought my work laptop home almost every day as I try to have dinner with Daddy Darren and spend time with Aiden before his bed time (which is not very early, usually after 10pm) before I get back to my emails & reports.

We were always looking out for interesting activities to do with Aiden, interesting places to bring him over the weekend for quality bonding time. I enjoy bringing him for swims, going to the parks and beaches to get closer to nature and have picnics which he enjoyed. We definitely brought him out often, to the malls, to the zoo, to the aquarium, to indoor playgrounds and on play dates.

With Ava, we realized we hardly go out as a family of four as we did not want to deprive her of quality sleep which she does indulge in quite a bit even now at 10 months old. She can take 3 naps ranging from half an hour to almost three hours in a day and her bed time is around 10pm. It was also more tedious going out and there were activities or places we wanted to bring Aiden which was not so suited for babies. As a result, we often have my parents care for Ava while we bring Aiden out.

After going full time for PriviKids in August and opening our first retail store, I have been spending substantial time at the store and have lesser time for the family especially the kids. One key reason for going full time for the business is to have better work life balance and to spend more time with Aiden and Ava and the initial months are tough.

Nowadays I get to steal little brackets of time on weekdays to fetch Aiden earlier from day care and either spend time playing with him at home or bringing him out for a nice treat or water play, and on some days, springing a surprise visit to Ava and bringing her & my mum out to the malls or taking her for a walk. The smiles on their faces and the connection we enjoy during these one on one sessions serve as a reminder to me, for the bigger goal we have.

I find myself trying to pry my fingers off my laptop and handphone to reply to one last email and keep my promise to play cars with Aiden and to snuggle up with Ava. Despite not spending a lot of time with Ava, she's really loving and sweet whenever she sees me and this reminded me that it's never too late. I may regret not having spent time with her in the past few months but every time we play together, it helps strengthen our bond.

This journey is not going to be easy and smooth sailing. I am enjoying every bit of it while trying my best to strike a balance with family time. I guess each role has its set of challenges in trying to achieve work-life-personal balance.

Caught this picture of Ava and myself while taking we-fies with her and love how she looked at me. Her eyes lighting up as though encouraging me on this journey and I know I will work hard and work smart to be a role model and inspiration to both my kids.
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