Review: The bigger and better Agape Babies + Discount Code

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If you don't already know, I am pretty well-known for shopping online. This is especially important for mommies like me who are pretty much stuck at work which has crazy hours or with the kids and have hardly any time to shop at the brick and mortars. For the last couple of months, I have been trying to curb this obsession. Mainly because we were staying with the in-laws and I didn't want to appear to be a spendthrift. However, it was tough. It's tough enough to have 7 people squeezed in a tiny space, and it's tougher to detox from my favourite hobby. I needed my sanity to be in check. Parcels over parcels came and soon, even my mother-in-law was getting me to give her advice on online shopping! She recognised that there were certain items where we could get cheaper online and it is so convenient as it was just a click of the mouse!

So I was browsing for a pair of food scissors for my little ones. It has been bugging me that we couldn't even make a 5minute trip to the nearest mall to get a pair of scissors due to our tight working schedules. A quick search and I realised that Agape Babies now carry my favourite brand 3M! And , they had the 3M Scotch portable food scissors which I had been wanting to get! This was my first pair of scissors which unfortunately got confiscated during one of our trips as the husband had forgotten to take it out from our handcarry and it was taken away from us during customs check. Since then, I had purchased some other brands which unfortunately rusted after a few months. I was reluctant to get 3M again. Firstly because I couldn't quite find it in the malls nearby and secondly, when I do find it, it is expensive -- Approximately $15! So when I found that it was going for only $12.50 on Agape Babies, I had to grab!

A quick browse and I realised that Agape has increased its product range. Namely, it has included the current IT bag for mommies -- Jujube! If you haven't check that out, please do as they are having a promotion currently. They have over 200 items under Jujube! Totally exhilarating when you browse the catalogue! The designs are so attractive, I am trying to find an excuse to add it to my collection! It makes diaper bags a whole lot more sleek and organised. 

They have approximately 296 items under Jujube

Their product selection has increased and apart from hot brands like Jujube and 3M, they now carry over 250 brands and 6000 products over 10 categories! Plus, look out for their weekly deals every Wednesday! 

Now, if you are a first time customer, you can choose between two free gifts - Mustela Trial Kit (worth $10) or Bellamy Milk Tin ($25.95)!  And these together with all your other purchases will be delivered to your abode in a jiffy! Speaking of delivery, I had excellent experience with Agape. I ordered some items in the wee hours of the night, and the next day, an email was sent to me informing me that items are being prepared for shipping! Before I knew it, the parcel was right by my door step within 3 working days! This could be a life saver if you need that tin of Bellamy's pronto! I knew I had to rely on such efficiency when Big K was on Bellamy's when she was below 2yo. Being an advocate of breastfeeding, I am also very happy to see Agape Babies house brands like Freemies, Medela, Spectra and Unimom. In addition, they also sell Feenugreek (a supplement which was a lifesaver during my breastfeeding days) and is priced reasonably cheaper than at retail outlets. 

And before you think that it is a site only for moms, hang on! The kids are in for a treat too under their Toys section! They house over 500 items under their Toys category. Amongst them are popular brands like Disney, Skiphop, Melissa & Doug, Y-volution, Parklon, Trunki and many more. I couldn't resist but to pick up a couple of items for the kids. If you need to get that last minute birthday present for a little one, this is the site to go! And if you can't wait, there is self-collection option at 3 convenient locations -- Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels enjoy 72 pickup locations! Details here.

The entire shopping experience was great as it was smooth and more importantly I was browsing everything via mobile. It is now mobile optimised such that it feels like an app. One can also enjoy the one-step checkout and one-click sign! I love that! I detest it when you are near the finishing line and trying to checkout but the site needs you to fill in a 101 pages before transporting you to the payment page!

Right now, I have a great deal for you! For my readers only, you are entitled a 5% discount! Just quote: mmm5%. This promo is valid for only 3 weeks (10 Aug - 31 Aug) and excludes Jujube items, milk, diapers, wipes, medela breast pumps, sale and clearance categories.

Don't forget to follow Agape Babies on Facebook or on Instagram (@agapebabies) for giveaways and updates on promotions!


Disclaimer*I was gifted shopping credits from Agape Babies to purchase some of the items featured. Any excess sum was paid out of my own pocket. No additional monetary compensation has been received and I do not stand to gain any commission arising from sales using the discount code given to my readers. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. 

Heguru, a right brain experience

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

People who know me well enough, would know that I am an advocate of right-brain training. Way before when i was pregnant with Big K, I had already been reading up. Big K attended a certain famous centre in Singapore briefly but I wasn't too impressed with the school. For one, the teachers were trained locally and it was a sit on chair, behind tables kindof setting. Aren't kids suppose to be unrestraint to a certain extent? Then life got a little tricky and I was blessed with a second pregnancy. It was very challenging for me to bring K to lessons every week with a big tummy. What's more, I spent half the lesson chasing her, getting her to sit on her chair instead of climbing onto tables. The teachers explained that even though they may be running about, they are still absorbing. And, sometimes, it could be that they find the activities boring as they already know. Regardless of the reason, it was becoming a chore to sit through and also pai seh (embarrassing) for me as all the rest of the kids seemed to be able to sit still 90% of the time! Once Big K started to move around, the rest would follow! *slaps forehead. The strange thing was, Big K isn't a hyper active girl. So I'd like to think that she knew everything or was absorbing as she monkeyed around.

So after I had given birth to Small K and got readjusted to things, I decided to embark on the right-brain journey for him as well. This time, I did more research and chose Heguru. Heguru is a renowned right brain development school in Japan with more than 30 years of extensive research. Heguru has proven to be an effective early childhood education programme which focuses on developing your child's creativity and critical thinking through effective use of images, sounds, rhythms, movement and lighting. Yes, movement was the bit which attracted me! No more sitting on chairs and tables! And, Small K being a boy, naturally I am inclined to think that he would be more active than the sister. Hence Heguru was my choice as it has a good balance of physical as well as discipline. 

We are currently attending the toddler class at Citysquare mall, which spans across 50 minutes. They have classes all the way to Primary levels. The branch we patronise is strategically located in a mall. I love the location as there are several amenities under one roof! I could have a bit of shopping rendezvous after class at Daiso without feeling guilty; bring Small K to Toys r Us for some free 
stimulation; or do some grocery shopping at the huge NTUC or the newly opened SONG FISH. 

There is endless perks for the mommy on the retail front basically. Ok, that apart, on a more serious note, I am impressed by how passionate the teachers are over at this place. Oh, did I mention, their teachers all have to be trained and sit for different levelled exams in Japan? Every year, the teachers are sent to Japan for training. That definitely sounds like they are serious about educating the next generation!

Heguru education has 5 purposes:

  1. Enlarging "vessel" for the brain.
  2. Drawing out multiple talents from the children's personalities. 
  3. Giving children self-confidence and exploiting potential hence developing the love for learning. 
  4. To cultivate the power of the mind (EQ)
  5. Cultivation of genuine thinking power. 

Our brain is split into two sections: the right and left. Left brain is of linguistic function which  I believe most kids wouldn't have any problems as we talk to them all the time plus once they enter school, left brain activities are predominant. The left brain deals with single pieces of data one by one at a low speed, understanding them little by little using words and processing them in actual consciousness. Hmmm..that doesn't sound like it was going to do a child who is in the rat race any good! I mean, low speed? Seriously? The right brain on the other hand, is sometimes known as the image brain. It automatically processes at a high speed, large amounts of data by using potential consciousness.  Automatic. Now, that, I like! It is especially important to develop both sides to the fullest extent. The brain grows at its fastest when one is young. After age 3, the development of the right brain decreases and stagnate at around 6. This is when most Singaporean children enter Primary school and will see their left brain activities escalating. The best time to expand the brain capacity of children is from age 0 up to 6yo. At Heguru, lessons focus mainly on inputting. Through various activities like linking memory, peg memory, super flash cards, rhythms, ESP, Nummerkasten and many more, the child will be receiving various stimulations to stretch his brain. Some may find that ridiculous, but I am really hoping that it will make K's learning journey in future a little easier with the encyclopaedic information I am trying to input into him at this moment. It really isn't about what he is able to remember at this moment but more of how he is able to find it familiar in future subconsciously and hence develop a greater learning interest. Already, I am seeing the output. I have severely neglected this boy on the learning front. I mean, coping with two without a helper plus working full time and running a business isn't quite a breeze. So, when he could recite his ABCs as well as recite the Tang Dynasty Poems before the age of 2, I was impressed! Particularly since my Chinese isn't quite fabulous and half of the poems he recited sounded alien to me! So well done, my boy! 

Here is Small K at 22mo, reciting the Tang poems! #proudmamamoment

Look how happy he is! Every week when I asked if he would like to go for his Heguru lessons, he would always be beaming from ear to ear and giving me an excited YES!

Should you be interested in learning more about this programme, feel free to drop me a note or approach the friendly teachers at Citysquare mall. They will be able to do a consultation and give you some insight to the class. In my next instalment, I will be sharing with you some of the activities that are conducted in Heguru, so stay tune!

Follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website for more details!

Imaginarium 2016 at SAM

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I can't believe how time flies! I thought we visited Imaginarium just last year and it's back again! This year is flying too quickly. Does that happen when a person ages?

This year's theme is "Over the Ocean, Under the Sea". It is the sixth edition of SAM's children-focused annual exhibition. This time round, we delve into the deep and are invited into the watery realms of the Earth as seen through the eyes of contemporary artist. Over the Ocean, Under the Sea presents tactile and interactive works that encourage discovery through exploration and play. 

This installation is so meaningful. No doubt it is just a bunch of plastics, but it gave me the opportunity to explain to Big K how important it is to recycle and not be using too much of these non-biodegradable materials. 

We navigated into another room and made the acquaintance of mysterious denizens of the deep. This room features works of Krit Ngamsom. His kinetic sculptures are tongue-in-cheek references to iconic artworks that changed definitions and assumptions about art through their use of ready made objects. The fountain on top of the whale for example is made of tiny urinals! I wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't read the description. Issues concerning the oceans is also covered in this room. I asked Big K how would she feel if she was like the shark trapped in a glass tank and it made her ponder. 

In this next room, we discovered ADA. ADA is an interactive art-making machine. It is an installation with PVC balloons, helium and charcoal. This "creature" glows with the bioluminescence of denizens of the deep. The giant sphere has charcoal studs affixed to her surface and it makes great interactive fun for the kids. The number of people entering is limited each time, so you don't have to worry about your child being crushed by the ball. 

Where is Mogus? Mogus is an imaginary octopus monster, which is artist Mulyana's alter ego. The various corals and sea creatures were laboriously crocheted from yarn. It's really a wonderful sight which invites the young to frolic amidst the whimsical sea monsters. The artist hopes to encourage play, imagination and exploration and my kids sure did all three!

My favourite room has got to be the Underwater Labyrinth as it is constructed by none other than me! Janice Wong! No la, we just happen to have the same name and surname but hey, i noticed, people with this name seem to have something in common -- artistic! or so I'd like to think that I have that in me! :P 
This installation is created with isolate, chocolate, LEDs and acrylic stands. The colonies of corals which encrust the sides pf the gallery are meticulously crafted. Sparkling in the day and luminescent at night, artist-chef Janice Wong's Underwater Labyrinth invites visitors to discover the wonders of a re-created deep-seabed. Wish I could get my hands on those marshmallows!

The Submaroom is probably Big K's favourite as she got to learn how to create various types of sea creatures using Origami. There are two tables with instructions on them and pieces of paper to entice the little ones to do a little folding. No one is there to guide them however so that probably explains why it is not a popular room when we went. 

The Imaginarium is held at SAM at 8Q till 28 August 2016. If you'd like to have some respite from the afternoon sun and at the same time find a fun way to discuss about the how the oceans and seas are susceptible to abuse and degradation, this is the place to head to!

SAM is located at 71 Bras Basah Road and you would probably need to park at nearby carparks along Queen Street, NTUC Income Centre, Manulife Centre, Hotel Grand Pacific or Singapore Management University. It is also a short 2-minute walk from Bras Basah MRT station. 
Opening hours:
MOndays to Sundays 10am to 7pm
(Last admission at 6:15pm
Fridays 10am to 9pm

Home series: Furniture shopping

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sourcing for the right furniture is an arduous job. This is especially so when you have kids in tow and a work to run! The furniture could make or break the whole look and feel of your home. Hence I took it very seriously and went to several places to check things out. Our theme is skewed towards Scandinavian modern with probably some elements or industrial. Below are some of our sharings:

Our ID brought us to this place called Next Phase at Kaki Bukit Road, Enterprise One. It houses a collection of Korean inspired furniture called Daaz. They are simple and practical and we really liked what we saw. Only problem was the price tag. This three-seater sofa for example could set you back by $3980. It was hard to resist its sleek, minimalist design though. You could check out their website here for more inspirations.

We ventured next door at Enterprise One and chanced upon this store which sells a nice collection of wooden furniture. I love the quality of the wood. It is teak and is imported from the forests of Thailand and each piece is unique as their grains will be different. The prices however is a little hard to swallow. I believe the table itself is a whopping $5000?

City Extendable Dining Set. Great for parties as I can extend it! 

Atelier TV stand

I have been seeing a couple of ads on Facebook and decided to check out this place called Nook and Cranny. As much as I enjoy clicking the mouse and browsing through tons of photos, I still feel unsettled if I can't see the actual item. So I decided make a trip down to their brick and mortar shop. They are located at Blk 514 Chai Chee Lane #02-07 and have a good range of furniture. From Chinese antique furniture to industrial furniture range. A handful of home accessories are also available to help create a unique representation of your individuality. We managed to settle our dining set by getting the City Extendable Dining Set. It is priced at $1499! Pretty reasonable I would say! We also got a matching Atelier TV stand for $899. In order to save money plus to reduce fixtures, we didn't want to custom make a TV console hence had been searching for a long while for a suitable piece that was long enough to sit in our living room and THIS was simply perfect. Most of their bulky items has to be preordered, so do take note of the waiting time.

A hidden gem is Tan Boon Liat Building. If you haven't heard about it, it is located at Outram Road. This factory building houses a handful of furniture shops. The following are some which we have found: 

Journey East. You can find an eclectic range of furnishings of reclaimed teak wood furniture and hand-selected vintage furniture pieces here. 
Address: 315 Outram Road, #03-02, Tan Boon Liat Building 

This company gets their inspiration from its environment. They redefine materials to create sculptural pieces. Unique. You may find industrial and contemporary pieces here.
Address: 315 Outram Road, #03-09/10 

They are a supplier of environmentally friendly teak wood furniture. They have good designs and caters to a wide range of interior styles.

The below is yet another shop which I saw online -- Castlery. It was popping up so often on FB, it was hard to miss. Once again, I needed to visit their brick and mortar shop at Delta House to check out the quality. The staff were very helpful and their selection was totally in sync with what we were looking for. 

We placed an order for the William Sofa in Dark Gray some time in March and had to wait for a few weeks before it arrived. No hurries since our place wasn't ready. However, when we unveiled the sofa, the colour was a stark different. (See above photo). It is supposed to be dark grey but it looked like it was more green than grey! I have since feedbacked and they have since sent someone to assess. And my hunch was right! The one we received was in Charcoal whilst the one we ordered was Dark grey. They are still in the midst of sorting things out with production. It has been a week now and things have not been sorted out at the time of print. In addition to that, we bought a standing lamp and was dismayed to find that light bulb holder had melted! See below photo. That spells Fire Hazard! We have tried to look for a similar light bulb holder but to no avail. We have since gotten a holder which doesn't fit well and had to use masking tape to adhere it. Their recovery was to either to do an exchange for a different piece or a full refund for the item. This, however, has shaken our trust in the product. I mean, shouldn't it be checked and tested before it was sent to us?  We had previously bought a bed frame cum side tables from them and had no issues. This time round, we were dismayed.

Next up, is one of my favourite place to shop -- TAOBAO! the largest online shopping mall from China! Seriously, everything comes from China these days so don't judge. However, there is a huge risk especially when importing big items. Quality is questionable. When people hear the words "Made in China", automatically a stigma is formed. Most buyers are resigned to a certain degree of risk when they shop for stuff which they have not touched or seen in person and hence have to accept that some flaws are part of the cheap deal. What I end up doing at times is to sell them away if I really don't like it. Shipping wasn't too bad as I consolidated my items and went via sea mode to save on costs. If you have more stuff, you could use freight forwarders who will charge by cubic metres. It is more economical for bulkier products to be charged by CBM. Wooden furniture sold on Taobao tends to be heavy due to the material used, so if you were to go by weight, it would definitely cost you. If the items aren't too heavy, you could consider using agents such as ezbuy (formerly known as 65daigou), Peeka, Etrove and many others. The list is endless and the process of shopping on this China eBay is addictive! You can find anything from a Nordic European Sofa, to a piece of sponge for your home! Below are some of my buys:

Majorly pleased with our bar stools! We could even choose the colour of the wood! Item came 90% close to the picture.

Adding an industrial touch to my study room. It was quite hellish drilling the holes though. Fortunately, the hubs is quite a handy man and with the right tools, it was up in a jiffy. 

This was another beauty from TB. My study table. There was a great selection of colours and the wood grain is lovely. Similar ones in Singapore could set me back by more than $600. This beauty was approximately $450 with shipping. The only problem we had with this was its depth! We were too engrossed in making sure the length was right that we forgot to check its depth! It couldn't enter my main door! It couldn't be dismantled either! I had thought that most furniture would come in pieces and that we had to assemble them somewhat like Ikea items. But this particular table wasn't quite like that. The frame was fixed so there was no way to unscrew things. Lesson to self: Check with the seller how it will be packed and ask for extra protection before purchasing! Our solution: to take down our fire rated main door and squeeze it in! Mind you, a fire rated door is extremely heavy! Thank goodness for helpful neighbour who came to the hub's rescue. Hub was trying to be hero and I was no help at all considering the weight and all. Another issue I have with the table is that the drawers have not rollers and hence are tough to pull in and out. You got to be careful not to pull it all out lest the entire drawer comes off! That said, I still love how the table matches my study room. 
If you are interested, the link for the study table is here

My Eames inspired chair. Love it! A steal at approximately $30! Link here.

So there we have it. Furniture shopping more or less done. Next up, I will share with you how I jazz up my little abode with little knick knacks! Stay tune!

Homelearning: Teaching sight words

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I am a big fan of sight words. Phonics is important in early childhood education but should the child be able to read by sight, wouldn't that be faster? Big K's repertoire of sight words is pretty vast. I try to introduce a word a day in three to four days. Several activities will be prepared for her to ingrain the word into her brain. Ideally, I would love to introduce 3 - 5 unfamiliar words at a time every other day as I believe it is manageable for her age. But sadly, I am always behind schedule. As the child gets more advance, you might expand the number of words you work on in each lesson.

Through trial and error, I have figured that there are a few techniques which worked for us:

1) See and Say: Repetition does help. Paste the words in various fonts all around the house and get the child to identify and read.

2) Spell reading: get the child to spell out the letters and then read the word again.

3) Air Writing: The child is to write the letters in the air.

4) Table Writing: The child writes the letters on a piece of paper.

5) Bring it to reality: This is one of our favourites as it gives the child empowerment that they know the world! When you come across a word on an advertisement or the bus, point it out to your child, you will see how her eyes light up!

6) Games: Kids love games and if you turn it into one, they will be exhilarated. Below are some which you could try:

I bought these cards some time back and it makes a great thing to bring along when we are out. What I usually do is to say out the word and if she knows which card it is, she takes it and scores a point. Things can be made more challenging when you play it with her. Take turns to shout out the word and snap it. She doesn't have to know that you know all the words :P

These eggs were painstakingly cut out by yours truly. A similar game as the above except that I would incorporate a spatula and get her to flip the eggs as I read the word. 

Caption: Photo credit:
This is a great activity as it trains not only sight but motor skills. 

Photo credit: Pinterest

Decorate the sight words with stickers, poms poms or whatever you could find around the house! One of my favourites as it requires so little preparation time!

Photo credit: coffeecupsandcrayons

This activity is soooooo cool!!! I hope to do it one day with Big K! It kills two birds with one stone! You get to practice sight word recognition by using them to build 3D shapes using play dough and craft sticks.

Remember tic tac toe? Well, why not do it with sight words?

Photo credit: Learningiftoff
Bring sight words outdoors. Your child will love it! Toss your marker, read the word it lands on and hop to it! 

Photo credit: giftofcuriosity

If writing on paper is too boring for you, why not try various mediums like shaving cream, salt or coloured rice? A bit of sensory action goes a long way!

There are a host of other activities which you can do with your little one. If you are ever stuck on ideas, head down on to Pinterest. The suggestions are endless! Have fun!