Friday, May 18, 2018

Glowing for My Birthday!! ✨

Finally managed to get a little hair trim last weekend!! Nothing too drastic as I'm trying to grow my hair out... but just wanted to trim and neaten my wild mane a bit before my birthday hehehe..

It's been a rather hectic time recently at work, with Lil Pumpkin's exams and celebrating a few birthdays {Lil Pumpkin's, hubby's and my daddy's!} and Mother's Day the past weekend.

I'm all for fun family time, good food and company, but as an extroverted introvert {yes, I believe that's a thing..}, I also have moments where I long for quiet time to recharge, refresh and reflect alone.

And that's what I intend to get. We carry so much love in our heart for others, we must not be afraid to give some to ourselves too and as per my past birthdays, I'm "getting off the grid" and heading on a solo birthday trip.

"If you want to give light to others, you must glow yourself."

I'm going away to chillax & find my glow again... and I think I know just the perfect place to bask in lots of happiness & golden sunshine get it. See you all when I return a year older, a little wiser and hopefully a lot brighter! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

P.S. Special thanks to the boy for understanding and being such a loving, hands-on dad with Lil Pumpkin so that I can travel without worries (♥ω♥ ) ~♪

Friday, May 11, 2018

Chic, Gender-Neutral Personalised Baby & Toddler Gifts

When I saw My Baby Gift's new gender-neutral white & black collection, I screamed with delight and immediately thought of my sister and niece #auntylovesyou

Let's be honest. Not every parent like the traditional pink or blue for their little girls/ boys because it may seem too "loud" or too stereotypical. My sister is one of them and prefers muted, cool neutrals like white and grey when shopping for my niece.

I'm usually more of a "vibrant colours" kinda person but I must admit that a neutral palette makes everything seem more stylish, chic and contemporary. Plus, when you do add bright colours as accents, it makes the colour more dramatic & pop even more!

Unfortunately though, when searching for newborn or baby gifts, a lot of them come in those colours.

Even My Baby Gift started out with personalised newborn & baby gift hampers for girls and boys in pink and blue, which we did get for Baby J {girl} and Baby R {boy} previously to welcome them to the world, but I'm glad they've added this new white & black unisex collection to their online boutique.

It will certainly appeal to parents like my sister, or even to those that wish to gift a hamper to would-be parents who do not know the gender of their kids yet!

Oh, Alissa told me that sometimes she personalises baby gifts with the family name, rather than the name of the child, so that it may be kept as a family heirloom and future siblings can use it too. I think it's a brilliant idea and would certainly work well with this classic, gender-neutral white & black collection!

Lil J isn't a newborn or a baby {although she always will be to my sister like how Lil Pumpkin is to me?! heh} but a cute little toddler coming to 3 years of age.

She will be attending preschool childcare full-time soon and I reckon that getting her some personalised gifts with her name from My Baby Gift will come in handy because of, you know, lost prevention... hahaha (⌒▽⌒ゞ

Every parent knows to label their child's personal items once they start going to school. Stick-on labels can get torn off or drop off after some time, and even permanent ink smudges or fade, but with My Baby Gift personalised items, the child's name {maximum 10 characters} is carefully embroidered on the gifts, and not just "printed" or "embossed" on as some personalised gifts are... which in turn makes them more long-lasting especially after multiple washes.

Note: The default embroidery thread colour for the gender-neutral collection is black. However, if you'd like to have the child's name embroidered in another colour, it is possible at no extra charge.  

Her specially-curated hamper came with the award-winning personalised Multi-Stars Blanket, a matching personalised Multi-Stars Pillow, a personalised Towel Bib, and another of their best seller - the Birthday Bunny with Lil J's name and birth date!

Yes, the Birthday Bunny now comes in chic white & grey as well to match the gender-neutral collection. I hope that this sweet, fluffy friend will keep my niece company and provide comfort for her in the new environment

If you remember, Lil Pumpkin has one as well and was quick to snuggle up to Lil J's bunny when I opened to check the hamper. The bright girl was also quick to point out that this new bunny's ears didn't squeak when pressed like the earlier version she has. Didn't notice until she mentioned hehe.. 

My Baby Gift personalised blankets, pillow, towels are big enough for toddlers aged 3-4 years old too!  Since Lil J usually wears long pants and socks at her childcare due to her eczema, she doesn't need a very thick blanket... but something lightweight and compact to pack in her sleeping bag daily.

The 100%  cotton Multi-Stars Blanket really is made of a beautiful quality - breathable, light and soft. Very gentle and suitable for Lil J's sensitive skin. I can see why Harper Bazaar raved about it to be super-soft and even gave it an award!

I like that the grey colour will not show dirt or stains easily too. Same goes for her pillow which has a 100% cotton cover that's easy to remove and wash.

This is the 3rd time we've gotten stuff from My Baby's Gift and as usual, I'm pleased and amazed at their fast and efficient service. Just 2 working days from order to delivery of lovely, personalised gifts! 

However, if you require next-day, same-day or weekend deliveries, that is possible too with extra charge.  They also deliver overseas via TNT and that takes about 1-2 working days. Find out more information about their personlised gifts and hampers from My Baby Gift website. Be sure to check out their sale page for a good deal!! You can use the flash promo code below for extra discounts too.

They just revamped their website to make it more user-friendly, and added new items like personalised jumpsuits, body suits with pants sets, burp cloths etc. to their shop. My Baby Gift really is one of my go-to places when I need to get something unique and memorable for family and friend's dear newborns, babies and toddlers. I just wish I knew of them while Lil Pumpkin was still a wee bub herself!! (*^▽^*)

Promo: Quote "NEWSHOP" for S$10 OFF any purchase from My Baby Gift to celebrate the launch of their new website. Valid even for sale items, until 31 May 2018 only.  

Friday, May 4, 2018

Happy Start of May! ❤

This is my fave family photo at the moment - taken in Harajuku, Tokyo during our family trip there last year. It was just after we bought Lil Pumpkin her first vintage namesake jewelry piece {which she's holding} that she chose for herself. Her daddy said we should have just named her "Uniqlo"... so much cheaper haha.

As you probably know, May is my fave month of all since young. Mostly because it's my birthday month, but now also because ALL our birthdays are in May!! Yup, the boy, Lil Pumpkin and I are all May babies!!! o((*^▽^*))o

Every time May rolls around, I get the same sort of excitement and warm, fuzzy feeling I get when Christmas is coming. Everything seems lovely, everything seems merry, everything seems peaceful.. except that from this year onwards, we have that one little glitch called "Mid-year Exams" aka "Semester Assessment 1 {SA1}" to get around. Le sigh.

I don't deal with exam stress very well, although I must say that Lil Pumpkin is one chill little girl when it comes to exams haha.. good for her. She doesn't seem fazed or stressed at all. Every time I ask "Are you ready?" she'd answer positively. After the exams I'd ask, "How did it go?" and she'd say "Good" (ノ≧∀≦)ノ

Can't wait until it is all over next week so that we can get the birthday celebrations rolling!!! I really hope that her exams never fall on her actual birthday on 12 May... that would really suck.

My lovelies have already prepared an early birthday present for me. Oooooh I can't wait to open it!!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Creative HansVision Chinese Exam E-Dictionary PX2131 Review

Last Thursday we bought the Creative HansVision PX2131 Chinese electronic dictionary for Lil Pumpkin. Apparently students in Primary, Secondary and JCs are now allowed to use e-dictionaries during the compo paper for PSLE, GCE N(T), N(A), O and A-Level Examinations so schools allow them for use during class and school exams too.

However, exactly when they can start using them in class and during school exams will depend on the school. Some schools only allow kids to use them from P4/P5 onwards, while others, like Lil Pumpkin's school, lets them use them from P3 onwards.

It is not a necessity. Students are still allowed to use the traditional paper dictionaries to help them write compositions like before, but given this time and age where kids nowadays are more geared towards technology like mobile-phones, tablets and computers, they would probably be more comfortable using e-dictionaries compared to paper dictionaries {which I still personally prefer!} where it is quicker and more convenient to bring around.

However, for paper dictionaries, you have to be precise in knowing the number of strokes or exact hanyu pinyin for each Chinese character. There is no "auto-correct" or any intuitive help that an electronic dictionary provides.

I guess that can be the reason why you would or wouldn't start your child on an electronic dictionary. It doesn't "force" them to count the number of strokes or know the hanyu pinyin before they need to check the meaning of the words. So, it is thus useful for a child who struggles in this area, and yet it provides no motivation for them to improve on them either.

Anyway, I'm not going to discuss whether to get a paper or e-dictionary in this post. Maybe another time.

But since I posted  on my Facebook page & Instagram that we got Lil Pumpkin the PX2131, a few parents requested for a review on this particular model so I'd focus more on that here instead.

Background of Chinese e-dictionaries in Singapore for use in exams
Since 2007, the Ministry of Education {MOE} allowed the use of electronic CL-CL dictionaries during examinations for all levels from PSLE to pre-University starting 2007.

There's a list of approved Chinese e-dictionaries compiled by Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board {SEAB} for PSLE. Approval for use in national examinations is valid only for 5 years for a specific edition/version starting from the examination year following the year of application. Vendors need to apply for an extension of the validity period of the approved dictionaries, which they do so don't be afraid to get one now even if your child's PSLE is after the current approved period.

From this list, you can see that there's only 3 major players in the market - Besta, Creative and ZZ. A quick check online shows that Besta and Creative are the more established brands, while ZZ is a new company and their dictionaries were only added into this list from this year. All 3 are local, Singapore companies {but ZZ originated from China}.

The first approved Chinese e-dictionary {HansVision PX2051} was a collaboration between Creative and Ministry of Education for our students. Then Besta started their All Pass series targeted for students to bring into exam halls and ZZ was established in 2016 and started selling their versions last year.

Why did we get Creative HansVision Chinese E-Dictionary PX2131?
We bought Lil Pumpkin her Chinese e-dictionary the night we found out that she could use it for her P3 compo exam paper, which was a week later. We wanted to get it fast so that she'd have time to get used to the e-dictionary in time for her exams.

Just so you know, we didn't really have much time to do a comprehensive comparison of all the available models out there. I assume that the internal software {Chinese dictionary, vocabulary bank, Chinese idioms list, hanyu pinyin search functions etc.} is about the same across the board. However, I asked around, read some reviews and we narrowed down to the model we wanted to get her based on some factors that were important to us.

Firstly, the e-dictionary had to have a handwriting input function as that's the main way Lil Pumpkin searches for words in the dictionary app she uses at home. At the moment, she rarely searches for words with hanyu pinyin mainly because 1) most of the times she already doesn't know how to read the characters, that's why she needs to search haha, and 2) it is just quicker to write it out then to type out the hanyu pinyin.

Basically with this factor, it eliminated almost all of the Creative HansVision models except for PX2131 as that's the only one that has a handwriting input function. Even the latest PX2181 model that was released this year does not have a stylus / handwriting input function {see comparison table at end of post}!!

Besta All Pass 3 {the older versions are out of production and not in sale anymore} and ZZ models were still in the game though.

Secondly, we wanted something compact and light for her to bring to and fro school. Creative HansVision PX2181 and Besta All Pass 3 fit this criteria. ZZ e-dictionaries are apparently modified car navigation devices. They are newer, touchscreen, coloured, have bigger writing surfaces, use built-in batteries but are also heavier, bulkier and require frequent charging {and they also didn't have the Wildcard Search function - see below for details}.

Thirdly, we wanted to buy from an established brand because it's for use during exams. I mean, I don't want her to bring it to exams then suddenly it conks out and won't work!

Although I like that ZZ e-dictionaries are touchscreen, coloured & have a bigger writing surface, there is not much track record on how long they can last without charging, how they heat up, how they will hold up against kids bringing them around in their school bags or kids inevitably dropping them from their desk every now and then {fyi, their screens are made of glass, compared to plastic for Creative & Besta} and whether their resolutions will distort or become pixelated over time... like how quite a number of parents complain about Besta All Pass e-dictionaries, even up to recent months for All Pass 3.

{image from a parenting forum}
{image from Besta Facebook page}

Yup, even with the clam-shell case design, some parents complain that their kids' Besta e-dictionary screens crack or have black lines across. And the stylus doesn't have a slot in All Pass 3 e-dictionary itself {it's stored in the provided case} plus the handwriting input function isn't as sensitive as Creative HansVision PX2131...

So with all these in mind, we chose Creative HansVision PX2131 as Lil Pumpkin's first Chinese e-dictionary!! *throws confetti*

I say "first" because I expect to have to buy a few times in the course of her studies haha since parents say these e-dictionaries don't last thaaaaaat long {2 years tops?}, she might lose it and better versions will be out by the time she takes her PSLE. But still, I hope that this e-dictionary will last her a couple of years.

Quick Review
You can see the full specifications in the table above or from Creative HansVision's website. The English and Chinese manual is available here. See comparison between PX2131 and PX2181 {2018 model} below.

1. Box set & accessories
One unit comes with Creative HansVision PX2131 e-dictionary, a retractable stylus, black earphones, a mini paper cleaner, 1-year warranty card and 2x AAA batteries. Cost is S$59.

Hard cover case {black only} can be purchased from Popular bookstore at $6.90 or Creative HansVision at S$5. Additional stylus can be purchased from Creative HansVision at S$3. For purchase from Creative HansVision, you may call to order & have it delivered to you, or buy direct from their service centre: A Genuine Technology, 1 Rochor Canal Road #05-67 Sim Lim Square.

2. Design
I was surprised that Creative HansVision PX2131 e-dictionary is so small haha... like a mini calculator? Some say like a BlackBerry phone. But good that it's light and compact for Lil Pumpkin to bring around.

Buttons are pretty small for adults, or those with fat fingers hehe, but for kids like Lil Pumpkin they are reasonably easy to press. For the screen, I would prefer it to be bigger as sometimes the complicated characters seem too cramped and she is not able to distinguish the different strokes properly. However, it is big enough for her to write her characters and read most of the time. Back-light is a hit too.
Unfortunately, it does not come with a cover. You have to purchase a hard protective case separately. However, the PX2131 seems pretty hardy and unless the kid is going to sit on it or drop it face down, it doesn't really need the cover for protection. The on/off button is also not protruding like the rest of the buttons so it's not likely to get switched on accidentally too.

There is a stylus slot for the accompanying stylus at the back, and a headphone jack at the side. It's a very simple, no-frills design which I actually like so that Lil Pumpkin won't get distracted when using it to study. With her phone dictionary app, it's easy for her to lose focus and start fiddling around with other apps or games. 

3. User-friendliness
Lil Pumpkin {currently P3 student} spent less than half an hour to learn how to operate the basic functions from her daddy.  She would need more time to practice using it efficiently though.

This is a Chinese-to-Chinese dictionary so there's no English meanings given and even the buttons are labeled in Chinese. It is daunting {even for me!}, but in a way I'm glad as it "forces" Lil Pumpkin to recognise and widen her vocabulary. Basic knowledge of Chinese words like 开关 {on/off}, 目录 {menu}, 说明 {help}, 输入法 {input method} etc. required. There's English help if you press 【说明】.

4. Pronunciation Function
You can check the pronunciations of just the character{s} searched, but the full reading of the meaning{s} or examples of use is not given. It would definitely be useful to have the latter.

The voice is clear, and only works when listened to with earphones though.

5. Search functions
Press 【电子词典】->【输入法】->【拼音】or【部首】or【手写】
a. Hanyu Pinyin Search - Type in hanyu pinyin of the character{s}
b. Initial Consonant Input - Type in first letter for each character e.g. mmhh and 马马虎虎 pops up.
c. Wildcard Search - Type in * for unknown characters e.g. 不*不* and 不慌不忙,etc. pops up
d. Cross-referencing Search - Highlight & search within explanation
e. 部首 {bushou} Search - Use Chinese radicals or strokes to search
f. Polyphonic Character Search *new* - Find all pronunciations & corresponding explanations
g. Handwriting Input Search *new* - Using a stylus to write on the screen surface

Very handy to have so many different ways to search for the Chinese words meanings and readings, for single and multiple characters. However, at her current Chinese language level, Lil Pumpkin will not likely use all now. The Wildcard Search is extremely helpful, but I suspect 部首 Search will be used the least. If it lasts {and hopefully it does!}, this e-dictionary will be even more useful at higher levels and is acceptable for use at O' & A' Levels too. 

6. Special Handwriting Input Feature
The screen is relatively sensitive i.e. you don't need to press too hard for it to pick up your writing & you can write without a stylus. However, Lil Pumpkin still writes her Chinese characters quite big and slow and sometimes she needs to do it a few times to get the correct words because after she finishes writing the radical, pause to check, then write the second part of the word, the dictionary suggestions would have already popped up and may not contain the word she was looking for.

Do note that this e-dictionary does not have a "true touchscreen". It's useful only for writing the characters, but you cannot choose options or navigate by touching the screen. I hope they improve on this for later models though. 

7. Battery Life
Hard to say since we got it just a week ago but since it has just a black & white screen and simple blue back-light, I don't expect it to eat a lot of battery power. The screen will stay lit when it is powered on, and the e-dictionary will automatically power off if there's no activity for 20 mins. 

Anyway,  2 x AAA batteries can be easily changed from the back.

8. Value-for-Money
We paid S$65.21 {S$59 + S$6.90 less 10% for Popular members, no discount on PX2131 as it is NETT price}. It is not terribly expensive as an electronic teaching aid, and with the functions it comes with, plus I expect Lil Pumpkin to use it for at least 2 years, I reckon it is value-for-money.

If you buy in school, or during their roadshows it might be even cheaper. 

Initially, I was surprised that the PX2131 was so low-tech, even though it's one of their latest models #firstworldproblems But then again, the exam e-dictionaries are meant to be low cost, most likely to make them accessible to all students from all family income levels. You can see that all of them are around S$50-100 each and at this price range, so I can't expect a whole lot of applications or functions like how I might be used to with a smartphone.

9. Does the child like it??
As you can see from the video above, Lil Pumpkin likes her new e-dictionary because she finds it helpful, and also because I think it's a novel study toy for her haha.. Yesterday, Lil Pumpkin had her P3 Chinese compo exam and she said that she used it, mainly for checking how to write words using hanyu pinyin input.

Her classmate has the Besta All Pass 3 which she played around with and liked that design too because "it can open and close", and "has a small box at the bottom to write in".

That "small box" is actually smaller than PX2131's writing surface and not as sensitive though, according to some users. I told her that if they improve on their technology & flaws, we can consider getting it next time as I prefer their clam-shell case design too. My old JP-EL e-dictionaries from Casio were like that too.

For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:

For tips on P1 preparation:

P.S.  I heard from some parents that there are no display models at Popular bookstores for Creative HansVision e-dictionaries. Only for Besta e-dictionaries which has their own counters {promoters only work 1pm - 9pm though} in Popular. 

However, we bought ours from Marine Parade Central's Popular and they had display models for customers to play around with for PX2131 and the latest PX2181. From what I gather, main difference is PX2131 has the handwriting input, while PX2181 doesn't but has the newest function of inputting the four tones of classical Chinese phonetics (四声) and non-stress voice (轻声) for a faster search. E.g. cheng2jiu4 will get the result 成就

If you wish to try out all Creative HansVision models, then go to their main office at 63 Hillview Avenue #03-09 Lam Soon Industrial Building. I called their office a few times to ask questions about the products and they seem quite friendly.

*Note: This is not a sponsored post or advertorial. All opinions are my own.