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Friday, May 1, 2015

Pazzion Matchy-Matchy Mother-Daughter Shoes

Recently we went down to Pazzion to check out their matchy-matchy mother-daughter shoes. We've matching slippers, sandals and sneakers.. but not really dressy shoes.

New shoe designs came in for the upcoming Mother's Day {next Sunday by the way!} and I liked the Almond Perfect Ballerina for me, and matching Almond Lovely Baby Flat for Lil Pumpkin.

I thought that they matched the modern cheongsam with gold polka dots and her pending party dress with gold polka dots {still looking for a nice one!} that we're going to wear for her birthday party perfectly :P

The shoes feature laser cut lambskin leather with intricate detailing of lustrous crystals and diamantes covering the entire silhouette. So bling bling!! The crystals and beads are individually strung and sewn on as well so seem rather sturdy, compared to those that are just glued to shoes.

There's also an extra cushioned insole for padded comfort. Lil Pumpkin's pair comes with an elastic strap to keep the shoes secure, especially useful for younger kids, but if you don't like it, you can cut it away too. The straps give it a sweet Mary Jane look though :)

I wanted to keep Lil Pumpkin's pair until her birthday but she insisted on wearing them out the day after we got them with her pretty cheongsam haha.. Not a bad look actually! The light tan almond colour makes it really easy to match anything.

The shoes needed some breaking in though and at the end of the day, Lil Pumpkin had blisters at the back of her ankles :( It's kinda inevitable with new shoes, but I should have put on plasters for her first to prevent them. I heard applying deodorant or Vaseline helps to create a barrier and reduce friction with the shoes to prevent blisters too. Anyone tried this method?

The shop's website shows mostly the latest collection for the kids range, but there are really many options for dazzling matchy-matchy mother-daughter shoes at the physical Pazzion stores!

Lil Pumpkin was very excited and kept trying on shoes {such a girly-girl!} and I was very tempted to choose other designs but in the end we did walk away with the pairs I initially wanted.

The other shoes that caught my eye are these red ones with a bejeweled heart which I thought were perfect for Chinese New Year haha and these nude ones with a simple rose {my fave flower!} at the vamp for casual day outs.

Lil Pumpkin liked the pink, of course, flats with butterfly embellished with glittering gems. 

Pazzion stores look very elegant, and one tends to forget that its a homegrown label especially since you can find them in so many countries like Japan, Mauritius, South Korea, Thailand, even Turkey and Russia. 

Born in 2001, Pazzion caters to the modern, sophisticated trend-setter with an uncompromising standard for taste and quality. They offer a wide range of footwear from casual sandals to classic heels to ensure that any lady will find the perfect shoe for any occasion. I posted about our new shoes on Instagram and Facebook and found that actually, quite a number of my friends like and wear Pazzion shoes too!

If you're thinking of pampering yourself or a mum you know this Mother's Day, support local and consider getting a pair of matchy-matchy mother-daughter shoes from Pazzion :) Prices start from S$79 for ladies {size Euporean 34 - 41} and S$69 for girls {aged 18 months - 7 years old}. It's on the higher end, but I guess it's because all their footwear are crafted from genuine calf leather or lambskin, so would definitely last longer and be more comfortable than those made from synthetic leather, and also feature a lot of crystals, diamentes and exquisite bead-work.

Check out where their shops are located or shop online on Pazzion's website. Free delivery to all Singapore addresses and international shipping available. Also, look out for Pazzion's Facebook Mother's Day giveaway below, starting next week!

P.S. If you like going matchy-matchy with your kids but aren't sure how, see my tips on how to work the matchy-matchy mini-me trend and some of our matchy-matchy outfits here.

* Disclosure: This is a review for Pazzion shoes. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Singapore Playgrounds - Braddell Heights Community Hub | Week 14

Where is this week's playground?
Braddell Heights Community Hub, 264 Serangoon Central {next to NEX shopping mall}

FUN Factor?
7/10. Clean and good number of easy-to-use play structures
that are evenly spread out so not that cramped.
Be careful of the metal see-saws though as they are kind of heavy.
Suitable for kids of all ages.

Play is important for children to her to learn, grow and discover the world we live in.
As we visit as many fun, nostalgic and even quirky playgrounds as we can this year,
I hope to inspire you to make play an even bigger part of your kids' lives and
explore much more of our beautiful Singapore!

This photo is part of the 52 Weeks Singapore Playgrounds series.

Sakura Haruka's wordless wednesday
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Swim Progress: Levelling Up

Since Lil Pumpkin missed her swim test in end March due to our trip to Japan, she took her Starfish Level 2 swim test last weekend. She has been with Coach Ronnie for 4 months.

He tested them on the required skills like kicking and swimming freestyle with the noodles. Lil Pumpkin can already swim freestyle without the noodles for about 15m but since that is a higher-level skill, she wasn't tested on that.

For Starfish Level 2 the kids also had to show that they can cannonball-jump into the pool, and retrieve an object from the bottom of the pool.

Overall, I'd no doubt that Lil Pumpkin would pass.. but what surprised me was that she did well enough to skip Starfish Level 3, and move on to the level after that in her swimming school's programme - Sailor Level 1!! Woohoo!! Well done dear! #proudmama

Coach Ronnie coaches Starfish Level 3 kids together with kids learning in Starfish Level 2, like Lil Pumpkin. Here's the Starfish Level 3 program syllabus:

Basic Stroke Fundamental:
1. Front-crawl breathing exercises {Breathing arm/ bubble arm drill}
2. Coordination of kicks, arm recovery and front-crawl breathing exercises
3. Swim front-crawl with breathing for 10m

Fitness Enhancement:
1. Flutter kicks for 10 x 10m {Laps Swim}
2. Swim front-crawl for 5 x 10m {Laps Swim}
3. Swim and recover objects in water 5 x 10m

Basic Water Survival:
1. Floating and breathing for 1 min {1.2M}
2. Survival on floatation aids/Personal Floatation Device {PFD} for 3mins {1.2M}
3. Recovery from PFD

I guess he covered with Lil Pumpkin what's needed in Starfish Level 3 and finds her proficient enough to let her skip a level up :)

Sailor 1 is her swim school's start of the SwimSafer programme that was rolled out by the National Water Safety Council in July 2010.

The six-stage programme - comprising 12 hours of lessons per stage - seeks to impart essential skills that enable children to save themselves if they face dangerous situations in the water. At the end of each stage, each child will receive a stage completion certificate indicating his/her individual skill achievements. A badge will be awarded upon the completion of each stage.

In addition, each child will be awarded a coloured pin upon completion of each stages 4 to 6.

I heard that each Primary school kid has to complete at least Stage 1 in the SwimSafer programme by taking compulsory swim classes during P.E. lessons or after school, unless they are unable due to medical conditions. If they are taking swim classes outside of school, they can show the SwimSafer certs they receive to exempt them from the school's swim classes. Hmm.. is this true?

Whatever it is, I think the sooner Lil Pumpkin learns to swim properly and gain more confidence in the water, the better. At least if something happens in the pool or at the beach *touch wood*, she has the water-survival skills to take care of herself.

This is what she'll be learning in Sailor 1 {aka SwimSafer Stage 1}:

1. Back Glide {5m}
2. Front and Back Float {5m}
3. Submerge and Blow bubbles {without goggles}
4. 10m Backstroke
5. 20m Front crawl
6. Correctly fit a PFD with clothes, jump in water and exit from wall
7. Safety knowledge {theory}

Coach Ronnie will be taking on more of a management role so he won't be taking as many swim classes as he does now and may not be Lil Pumpkin's swim coach for the next level. So sad! I think he's a pretty good coach :/ 

If all goes well, Lil Pumpkin might actually finish Sailor 3 {SwimSafer Stage 3} by the end of the year!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Japan 2015 | Tokyo One Piece Tower {東京ワンピースタワー} Theme Park

Tokyo One Piece Tower {東京ワンピースタワー} is Japan's latest theme park that just opened in March 2015. If you like manga, comics, anime etc.. and of course One Piece, this theme park will definitely appeal to you!! But be prepared though, this theme park isn't what most people think of in terms of amusement parks - there's no rides, it's completely indoors and it's only as big as 3 floors of a building.

And oh, you should be prepared that since 95% of the visitors are Japanese, most instructions for games and attractions will be in Japanese with no English translation. I'll try to list down what the various games are asking of you in this post though so that you'll have an idea of what's happening, even if you don't know any Japanese :)

One Piece needs no introduction but in case you're living under an anime / manga rock, it is an extremely popular Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. It started in 1997 and the story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a guy whose body gains the properties of rubber after unintentionally eating a Devil Fruit, and his Straw Hat Pirates crew as they explore the oceans in search of the world's ultimate treasure known as "One Piece" so that Luffy can become the next Pirate King.

To date, series has over 345 million volumes in circulation worldwide, making it the best-selling manga series in history. One Piece Tokyo Tower was opened to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the anime produced by Toei Animation in 1999.

I decided to go to the theme park with Lil Pumpkin on that morning itself so didn't buy the advance tickets in time. You can save some money if you buy advance tickets from 7-11 Japan stores but you can only get them up until the day before you visit.

I was scared that there won't be tickets if you bought from the theme park booth itself but luckily there were. Phew! You never know as the Japanese can go quite crazy over their anime :P It was a Monday that we went but it was still so very crowded!

You can choose to buy a package to go into the One Piece Tokyo Tower theme park and main observatory {with a discount of 100 yen off total price}, or you can choose to go just for the theme park.

We wanted to go just for the theme park since we've been to Tokyo Tower many times, so headed straight to the theme park entrance and ticket booths at Level 3. If you want to purchase theme park and observatory package, buy your tickets from the ticket booths at the main entrance to Tokyo Tower.

The background story of this theme park is that the Straw Hat Pirates from One Piece found a new triangle-shaped island called "Tongari Jima" {Chestnut Island} in Tokyo. This island is in fact Tokyo Tower.

Once you enter theme park on Level 3 of Tokyo Tower, you will see manga strips projected on the walls. When you walk past of touch it, there's some special effects like Nami's tears or the sky behind Usopp will change colour.

Further in, there are some wall art pieces and a scene from Tongari Port where the Straw Hat Pirates crew are having a feast!

A lot of photo opportunities with the statues! There are no One Piece character mascots walking around or meet-and-greets so these are the next best thing I guess.

At the end of Level 3 is a small souvenir shop {Narikiri Corner} selling hats, T-shirts, cosplay sets and passport {ticket} holders. I wanted to get the passport holders but thought they would sell them at the bigger souvenir shop on Level 1, which I intended to go to just before we went home.

So wrong as they only sell the passport holders in the in-park souvenir corner!! Sigh...

The exit is near the souvenir corner, but don't go out though. Go up the escalators to Level 4 and 5 for more One Piece fun and action!

Level 4 is where all the games and attractions are. The queues are horrendous though and only started to lighten up after dinner time. For each game, we had to queue for at least 60 minutes and sometimes even 90 minutes :(

Thank goodness we had our unlimited wifi access from our Changi Recommends wifi router {more on that in a later post} to keep us entertained while queuing. There's only so much story-telling and colouring Lil Pumpkin can do in a queue...

Here's a rundown of what games / attractions are available:

1. Chopper's Thousand Sunny Tours {attraction}
How it works:
Walk and explore the Thousand Sunny {second and current ship of the Straw Hat Pirates, built after the Going Merry was destroyed} with Chopper. Look out for hidden characters and fun surprises! Photo-taking and video is allowed, except in some sections.

Quite fun for the small kids as there's a lot of things they can touch and experience. We went twice.

2. Brooks's Horror House {attraction}
How it works:
Walk through a dark maze filled with not-that-scary monsters and ghouls! The staff will give you a "salt ball" at the beginning and you have to put it in the mouth of a zombie to escape the maze.

More funny than frightening, and ok for the small ones too.

3. Franky's Ball Run {game}
How it works:
Put 500 yen into a pinball machine to win a small prize. The mega rare General Franky is up for grabs.

We didn't try this as the queue was super long! But it works like a gashappon machine and at least everybody wins something.

4. Robin's Finding Poneglyph {game}
How it works:
Use a Transponder Snail machine to go around the whole theme park {excluding the interiors or games/ attractions} to find hidden Poneglyphs {boxes inscribed with a secret language} on the walls. The more you find, the higher your score. There's a time limit of 30 mins.

We queued 1 hour to play this game! But, guess it's worth the wait since Lil Pumpkin thoroughly enjoyed this "scavenger hunt" game and was very serious in looking for them! Make sure that your button turns green and your snail makes noise before you remove it from the Poneglyph to make it count.

At the beginning you've to take a photo and this is made into a "Wanted" poster with your score {i.e. the bounty on your head}. You can print it our as a memorabilia at Franky's Photo Store for 1,000 yen. Since we queued so long for this game, I had to get something out of it and so bought the photo heh.

5. Nami's Casino Castle {game}
How it works:
There are 4 coloured buttons for your to choose and place your bets for 3 games. In the first game, guess who will win the race. In the second game, guess which colour the roulette will stop at. In the third game, guess what effect Nami's Clima-Tact staff will have when she uses it. There's no ultimate winner but if you win over 30,000yen in the game, you get a Gold Credit Card.

This was no doubt, hands down, Lil Pumpkin's favourite game. We played it 5 times!! Thank goodness the queues shortened considerably after dinner and we could go in quite easily with a 10 - 15 minutes wait. She liked it so much because she wanted to win the Gold Credit Card.. I don't know why but you know she has a thing for toy cashiers so I guess she wanted to use it in her play??

With each try, the results are different and its hard to guess the correct answer. Alas, we didn't win the Gold Credit Card. I even asked if they sold the card but nahhh... sorry Lil Pumpkin!

6. Usopp's Road to Sogeking {game}
How it works:
Shoot mini cannonballs at targets and through holes with a sling. If you complete the game, you get a prize. There's a time limit of I think 1 minute.

It is not easy at all! Kids as young as Lil Pumpkin can try, but she couldn't shoot anything, even with the help of park staff :P

7. Zoro's Soul of Edge {game}
How it works:
In a private room {one per player}, slash through cannonballs and a Big Boss with an inflatable sword to gain points. 

This was easily the most popular game at the park. We queued for around 90 minutes for this! But luckily, through the wait there's an interesting display of swords used by the different One Piece characters. Lil Pumpkin liked this game too and a camera snaps a photo of you during the game to print out at Franky's Photo Store. The design wasn't that nice and it was quite an unglam shot so I didn't buy a print.

There's also Franky's Cola Bar, a small food kiosk on Level 3 selling light snacks and drinks.

But don't worry if you're really hungry as your passport allows you to go in and out of the theme park as well and there's a One Piece-themed coffeehouse, Café Mugiwara, and a proper One Piece-themed restaurant, Sanji's Restaurant at Level 1 of Tokyo Tower. For 2,000yen/adult or 1,500 yen/kid aged 6-12 years old, there's a buffet option at the restaurant. See the buffet menu here.

Level 5 has more photo opportunities with Trafalgar Law and Bartholomew Kuma's big hand or you can be a captured pirate in a jail cell!

This is where the auditorium for the theme park's exclusive, high-energy and interactive One Piece show is performed too. I highly recommend it!!

You have to get show tickets printed beforehand first {included in your theme park price} at a small machine in front of the auditorium with your park ticket and each visitor can only print the show ticket once. We wanted to print and watch again but couldn't :(

Tickets are released an hour before each show, or if the show's tickets are "sold out". Whichever comes first.

Luffy's Endless Adventure is also located on Level 5. Pretty trippy especially with the fun-house mirror mazes as well as the spinning fire room. At the end you get to watch a short clip with some fights from the anime that are recreated with CGI with special effects like rain and wind.

Even though the theme park is relatively small {compared to say Universal Studios or Disneyland}, we still spent the entire day there!!

If I didn't drag Lil Pumpkin away to go to the souvenir shop, I think we would have stayed there until closing time too haha.

Even though the shop officially closes at 10pm, last entry was at 9.30pm and we barely made it! They set up a barrier to stop people from coming into the shop too late and I think the security officer took pity on me with Lil Pumpkin so let us in even though it was just past 9.30pm :P

It was one of the biggest Mugiwara stores I've seen {there's another at Shibuya's Parco One} and they have heaps of One Piece merchandise and food.

I wanted those that are One Piece Tokyo Tower 限定 though and didn't bother much on others that I can find in other Mugiwara shops.

The boy wasn't in Japan when we went so I bought him these One Piece Tokyo Tower stuff. He's watches One Piece and thanks to him, Lil Pumpkin is interested in the anime too.. that's why I bothered to go down. I'm not that interested in One Piece actually haha.

But overall, I really enjoyed my day there with Lil Pumpkin. Just the two of us and it was no bother at all handling her the whole time :) Wished the boy was there to enjoy it too but probably next time we're in Tokyo. I know he also wanted to check out J-World Tokyo, the world’s first theme park dedicated to Shonen Jump manga like Naruto, One Piece, Dragonball-Z, at Ikebukuro too.

  • Save money and buy advance tickets online or from 7-11 Japan at least one day before your visit. It will cost 3,000 yen {adult}, 1,500 yen {kids aged 4-12 years old}.
  • Prams / strollers are possible in the park but there's no designated parking space for them at the attractions. 
  • No nursing rooms but there are diaper-changing beds in the toilets.
  • Park staff will always say "Tongari!" to you. That's their greeting within the theme park.
  • Remember to get your show tickets from Level 5.
  • Arrive at the show at least 15 minutes before it starts. Sitting inside is first-come-first-served.
  • If you want to purchase passport {ticket} holders, they are available only in the in-park souvenir corner on Level 3. 
  • Check on the closing time for the souvenir shop at Level 1. Last entry 30 minutes before closure.
  • Spend over 2,000 yen at the souvenir shop at Level 1 for a lucky draw chance.
  • You can't get tax exemptions from the souvenir shops. No duty-free items.
  • Ask staff to help you to take photos. Tripods and selfie sticks are not allowed.  
  • No pets allowed, except for guide dogs. 

Tokyo One Piece Tower {東京ワンピースタワー}
Tokyo Tower Foot Town, 4-2-8 Shiba-koen, Minato, Tokyo
Nearest station:  JR Hamamatsu-cho station {Yamanote line}, Akabanebashi station {Oedo line}, Kamiyacho station {Hibiya line}, Onarimon station {Mita line} and Daimon station {Asakura line}
Opening hrs: 10am - 10pm daily
Fee: 3,200 yen {adult}, 1,600 yen {kids aged 4-12 years old}. Free for kids aged 3 and under.
Website: http://onepiecetower.tokyo/

Read more about our Japan travels here
Also see the Sakura at Yoyogi Park and Sakura at Ueno Park.