Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas 2017 | 6 Gift Ideas for Kids Always On-the-Go

Today the boy reminded me that there's less than 2 weeks to Christmas!! Yippee yay!!! πŸŽ„πŸŽ…

Pretty pleased that I've got most of our family Christmas presents out of the way early thanks to some {rare} forward planning and our recent trip to Japan... but I still have some gifts for friends to cover. And their kids!!! Oh my! In the past year it seems like the number of children in my circle of friends have doubled!! haha...

Which is, of course, a good situation to have, but unfortunately, it means that my usual repertoire of go-to gifts of books & toys is pretty much exhausted and I've been forced to look for new and meaningful gifts for the little bundles of joy in our lives.

Kids nowadays seem to always always be on the move whether for school, work or play, and I thought gifts to help them make their journey more comfortable or entertaining would be useful.
If you're still Christmas shopping for the young ones, here's 6 Gift Ideas for Kids Always On-the-Go which have caught my eye and I hope you'd find this list useful too!  🎁

1. MiFold Grab-and-Go Booster Seat {S$99}
This was actually what I got for my own niece, Lil J. There's an important, but overlooked, traffic rule in Singapore: For safety reasons, juniors under 1.35m {usually kids aged 7 and below} need appropriate restraints or booster seats in private hire cars. However, most of these private hire cars in Uber or Grab are equipped with booster seats and it's actually good to have your own.

However, any parent going out with their young kid, nappy bag, pram / carrier etc. knows that its already tedious enough, so who wants to carry a bulky car booster seat around too?? The MiFold is pretty amazing as it's really compact like a large wallet {25cm x 12cm x 4cm}, weighs just about the same as a small bottle of water {750g} yet sets up in 30s to do the same job as a bulky traditional car booster seat. Perfect for those that usually need to take cabs or car-pool with kids!

A regular booster seat lifts a child up to be in the position of an adult in the car, but the portable MiFold adjusts the adult-sized seatbelt to hold it down and securely fit a child. I like that it will "grow" with Lil J and has 3 settings that will allow her to use it until she is about 12 years old {36kg/ 150cm} too, if need be! Find out more on how it works & order from MiFold U.S. website or you can purchase it in Singapore here.

P.S. Even Grab Singapore uses MiFold in their GrabFamily service. It comes in 6 colours.

2. Minejima Chalk-It Book {S$38.50}
This is something I would totally get for myself actually haha. The Chalk-it Book is a 10-page, portable chalkboard book that comes with four colorful dust-free chalks that are smudge-resistant but comes off easily with water. It also has a plastic chalk-holder so those tiny hands don't need to have direct contact with the chalk, and the chalk actually stays in one solid piece heh. All these are kept tidy in a built-in zip pouch in the book.

Some of the pages are printed with dots to join or other puzzles, and the pages are easily cleaned with a wet wipe. There's 6 fun designs for the plastic book covers {I personally like Origami} and it seems like a great gift to encourage kids to doodle, write and think creatively. Purchase them directly from Minejima website, and there's free delivery for orders over S$65.

3. Yumbox Bento-style Lunchboxes {S$32 - S$49}
Getting kids to eat well can be hard at times. Getting kids to eat well on-the-move... well, you need all the help you can get! Yumbox is a kids-friendly lunchbox featuring a removable, dishwasher-safe insert, single leak-proof lid and easy latch lock. It seals all food wells individually so that food won’t touch or leak outside of the box, and comes in 4 sizes.

Yumbox’s pre-portioned illustrated trays guide you to packing healthy and hassle-free lunches. They encourage balance, taste, nutrition and also importantly, variety, while making this little box more of an adventure in good nutrition than just plain old packed food!

I like the fun inserts that illustrate the key food groups that you should be packing for your child: fruit, vegetable, grains, protein & dairy, and a small well that you can use for dips, sauce or a small treat. Kids can also use this as a guide to pack their own healthy lunchbox and make healthy food choices of their own. Find out more on how it works from Yumbox website and purchase them in Singapore here. You can also get personalised versions from Stuck On You Singapore.

4. The Journey Journal World Edition {S$25.11}
These are great for kids to remember every detail of a family vacation in his or her own way - be it the things they see, or the things they want to do.. they’re all amazing memories, and they deserve to be preserved in a really cool journal.

The journal's front features a map of the world. You can use the round fasteners {6 included} that come with the journal and punch them on your destinations and track the journey with the string provided. There's enough pages for a 13-day trip, but any longer I guess you can get another book.

Each of the 13 day pages includes space to write down: date, place, temperature, plans, noteworthy moments, reflections, encounters, a drawing space, etc. and at the end there's a page for after thoughts and a nifty compartment so you can safely store all the treasures you collect on your trip.

I'm keeping this in mind for Lil Pumpkin's next vacation actually, and if you like, purchase it from Cracked Designs online shop here. You can also request a custom order and have something made just for your specific trip.

5. JBL Kids On-Ear Headphones {S$39.90 corded /S$79.90 wireless}
We have the older version for Lil Pumpkin and she still uses it at times, especially when we fly because the airline earphones don't fit kids that comfortably, even for those that have a children's version e.g. Singapore Airlines.

The new version was released this year and there doesn't seem to have much internal update, but externally it actually looks less kiddy, and more sturdy? Safe, lightweight and sized for kids, the JBL headphones deliver up to 12 hours of playtime for the young music fans. Headphones are designed to ensure the volume is always below 85dB to protect hearing and easy controls can be operated without any help. Kids listen in comfort with custom designed soft padded headband and ear cushions for a feathery fit.

They will also enjoy the ability to customize the headphones with the available stickers. Corded {JBL JR300} and wireless {JBL JR300BT} versions are available. Read more about its specs on JBL website and purchase them online or at the local retailers.

6. Oh Happy Fry Wooden Toy Camera {S$36}
I've always been a sucker for wooden toys and these wooden toy cameras are the perfect accessory for pretend play when on-the-move, plus they help to keep those curious little hands off your expensive camera gear.. hopefully!

Designed and made in Australia, the cameras are equipped with a movable dial and lens and have a small view finder for little eyes to look through. They are made from natural pine timber, then sanded smooth and carefully hand-painted. Each comes with a cotton strap for a soft finish and are packaged in a lovely little calico drawstring bag. There are currently only 4 colours available and you can purchase them from Oh Happy Fry webstore directly. They also have a Wood Toy Camera Teether {S$23} for little babies to grasp and chew!

Oh, if you don't mind waiting, you can get a personalised wooden toy camera {S$33.06} from Beige Bois that's based in Greece. Made of unfinished basswood and beechwood, you get to customise the wooden camera with a name and choose the colour of the elastic camera strap. There's a cute little screen frame at the back that you can put your own pictures to display.

What other ideas do you have for children's Christmas gifts?
Been to any interesting local or overseas destinations this holiday season?

P.S. Check out my 20 Christmas Tree Festive Food Ideas for your holiday parties and 10 Favourite Gift-Wrapping Ideas to make your presents stand out!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Back to Japan for Winter Hols / 冬休み! ❄

Yay by the time you read this we are back in lovely Japan for our winter holiday!! ❄ Been 1.5years since our last visit in summer 2016... ok, not too long for most I guess but I miss it so and I'm really glad the family loves to be back here too.

To be fair, I can't remember the last time we were here during winter though!! Maybe in 2012 to celebrate the new year?? The boy prefers to come Japan in cooler Spring or summer months because there's less bulky winter clothes to pack and the seasonal clothes sold in stores are more suited to our Singapore weather haha.

It's a very, very familiar country and I don't need to search for things to do or plan any itinerary whenever we travel here. Although, there is one must-do item this trip - go Tokyo Disneyland. We promised Lil Pumpkin that we'd bring here this holiday ❤

You'd think that we'd be so bored coming back to Japan almost every year but nope, there's always something new to discover here in Japan. 
As usual, I'd be taking time of the blog to recharge and be present with my family. Would likely post some updates on my other social media platforms for friends and family back in Singapore, so if you'd like to keep up with our Japan travels, do connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat.

Enjoy your December holidays too and see you all when we are back! xox

Read more about our Japan travels here
Also see the Sakura at Yoyogi Park, Sakura at Ueno Park.
If you like theme parks, read about Tokyo One Piece Tower and Asakusa Hanayashiki

Friday, November 24, 2017

P3 Parenting: Bromin Ergonomic & Light School Bags for Kids

Ergonomic, affordable, well-designed AND light school bags for kids?? That's like the unicorn of school bags i.e. perfect yet mythical, because usually you only find two... maaaaaybe three factors in one school bag, never really all four.

However, with the new Bromin ergonomic and light backpacks for kids, you just might catch that unicorn.

School bags are a necessity for schooling kids. We often try to find one with the factors I mentioned above for when kids go to school, but often neglect the fact that the kids also have activities and enrichment classes outside of school. And sometimes the time carrying bags for those after-school / weekend activities and classes can be longer than when they go to school.

But then, how often are they using ergonomic bags to keep their backs healthy for those activities and classes? Do your kids clear their ergonomic bags meant for school, and use them to carry their books and stuff for outside school? Or do they usually use a random bag you had lying around, or the free bags that come with the classes with you sign up with them?

Honestly, Lil Pumpkin ends up doing the latter haha as it's just too troublesome to clear our her school bag each time to use for outside-school!! #oops

As someone who has been living with backaches and pain for most of my adult life, keeping my and my family's backs healthy is very important to me.

I made sure that Lil Pumpkin has an ergonomic bag with good back support for school {which is still going strong & she still loves!}, but it was only in the last few months that I realised that hey, she should have another ergonomic bag for her gym, Chinese and Maths enrichment classes, or when she goes to the boy's clinic or my mum's home too as she needs to carry her own bag considerably often then too.

Not to mention with the erratic weather, it's good to have a spare bag in case her usual schoolbag gets drenched in the rain!

I recently came to learn of Bromin, a Singapore-based bag maker and importer, that has launched a new series of light-weight ergonomic school backpack for kids.

The Bromin backpack promotes better spinal health for school children and weighs just under 0.7kg {ergonomic school bags from other brands usually weigh 0.9kg}, are currently priced affordably under S$90 and have a lifetime warranty.

There are currently 2 designs - Bromin Lite and Bromin Tech, that are available in Sporty Blue and Fuchsia Pink. No guesses on which colour Lil Pumpkin went for, obviously heh..

Bromin Lite Ergonomic Backpack has the following features,
  • Weighs just 665g, which is even lighter than her current ergonomic schoolbag
  • Really roomy - measures 38cm high x 25cm wide x 21cm deep 
  • Made of water-resistant high density nylon
  • Plush back-support cushioning for extra comfort
  • Waist and chest straps to even out the weight of the bag
  • Flip-top cover with G-hook buckle for quick access
  • "Box" design with with a wide, drawstring opening for easy access to the contents. You can see everything when it's open!
  • Segmented inner compartment {inside the bag} with detachable option to adjust the compartment size
  • Side utility pouch {inside the bag} for storage
  • Large front pocket that extends inward into the bag, keeping it compact even with a full load
  • Huge mesh outer pockets for pencil cases, water bottle, tissue packets etc.  
  • 4 plastic knobs at the bottom of the bag to help it stand upright at all times, even without support
  • Reflective light strips for extra safety
Bromin Tech Ergonomic Backpack has the following features,
  • Weighs 675g, a negligible 10g heavier than Bromin Lite
  • Really roomy too, but less deep than Bromin Lite - 38cm high x 25cm wide x 21cm deep
  • Made of water-resistant high density nylon
  • Plush back-support cushioning for extra comfort
  • Waist and chest straps to even out the weight of the bag
  • Zipper opening that opens up the front
  • Less compartmentalisation compared to Bromin Lite, but also has inner back and front pockets {inside the bag}
  • Large front pocket is flatter and not as spacious as Bromin Lite, but has extra inner compartments and a detachable key holder
  • Huge mesh outer pockets for pencil cases, water bottle, tissue packets etc. 
  • Does not have any "bag feet" so bag might be wet if placed on a wet floor, but will still stand upright even when the main compartment is open
  • Reflective light strips for extra safety

When I showed Lil Pumpkin both bag designs, she was immediately drawn to Bromin Lite because of its flip-top cover and metal G-hook I reckon. Something novel for her haha. Personally, I like that boxy design too as it reminds me of Japanese randoseru {ランドセル} school bags which I adore.

Also, the very spacious main compartment is a huge plus point. Depending on the quantity of books and supplies needed for each class, sometimes she also needs to put in a packed lunch, a change of clothes, and other extras. For this reason, I like her bag with multiple compartments, including a large central chamber, a second section for folders and other paper, an exterior pouch for pens and writing materials, and side pockets for her water bottle, tissue paper etc. 

However, I'm not that keen on the clear plastic buckles used for the big round bag feet. Not sure how lasting that would be and would they become brittle after some time to crack and break? Also, if she dumps her bag that's heavy with books etc. on the floor, would it break from the impact? Hmmm..

BUT having said that, the good thing about having the bag feet as plastic is that it's easy to clean, light, water-proof and will not rust.

Lil Pumpkin wanted her cousin, Lil J, to have the Bromin Tech bag so that they can be matchy-matchy together :)

When my sis saw the bag, she said that it was such a bright pink!! But she also said, "Ya, good so that we can spot the girls easily and they won't get lost!!" hehe..

Bromin Tech is less bulky than Bromin Lite and I reckon would fit kids with a smaller frame better. It's still too big for Lil J and she's not able to make full use of its ergonomic functions now, obviously, as the bags are recommended for kids aged 6-10 years old, but she's still able to carry it comfortably and use the spacious bag to hold all her clothes, books, toys and accessories when she goes to preschool / childcare. And she loves having a similar bag to Lil Pumpkin too!

Oh, and they also come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing faults and defective parts. Just remember to register upon purchase.

If you're looking for a new school bag for the coming school year, do check out Bromin ergonomic and light school bags on Bromin website, and at Tom & Stephanie stores located at Eastpoint Mall {Simei}, West Mall {Bukit Batok} and One KM Mall {Katong}. I suggest going to the physical stores to let your child try the bags first before purchasing though.. 

Promo: 20% OFF Bromin ergonomic school bags for kids. Bromin Lite costs S$88 {U.P. S$108} and Bromin Tech costs $68 {U.P. S$88}. At these prices, I reckon you can still get two ergonomic bags for school, and outside-school activities, and they would still cost you less than a lot of ergonomic bags in the market nowadays. Not to mention, they are currently the lightest ergo schoolbag you can buy!! Valid until 31 Dec 2017 only. 

For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:

For tips on P1 preparation:

*Disclosure: This is a review for Bromin Emporter. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish Party for Girly Fun!

It's school holiday time!!! *throws confetti* Lil Pumpkin's school actually ended their term one week ahead of the official MOE school calendar so she's actually been enjoying herself for the past week already haha..

Last weekend, she opened her own little "beauty salon" and bonded with her cousin, Lil J, over a sweet Nail Polish Party with Miss Nella Kids Nail Varnish for some girly fun!

Lil Pumpkin has always been a true girly-girl at heart, like her mama (⌒▽⌒)☆

Yes, sometimes she isn't your typical little lady and likes her zombies, ghouls and vampires, tumbles & rumbles in dirt and plays with "boys' toys" like swords, cars and Nerf guns, but give her the opportunity to dress up, accesorise or play with make-up, and she's happy as a lark!

But with Lil Pumpkin's eczema condition {which thankfully hasn't flared up for a while!}, we've to be really careful about what she touches or puts on her skin though.

Miss Nella brings innocent and whimsical nail painting safely to kids of all ages and is great for all those little princesses, like Lil Pumpkin, that like to emulate mummy in getting creative with their nails.

Let's not talk about adult nail polishes, but in case you didn't realise, not all children's nail polishes are safe for kids either. The toxic trio of Dibutyl Phthalate {DBP}, Toluene and Formaldehyde dominate many children's nail polishes currently on the market. Such chemicals are banned in Europe due to their links with cancer, birth defects and other illnesses but you will not find a trace of these harmful substances in Miss Nella nail polishes.

Miss Nella kids' nail polishes are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, odourless, and peels off easily! It uses a water-based formula so unlike most nail polishes, it's comes off easily... which is good for kids since you don't need to use any smelly or harsh nail polish remover, and they can also play with it during term time over the weekends and not be worried about heading to school with their funky coloured nails hehe.

For Lil Pumpkin, she usually gets bored with the colours / patterns on her nails pretty fast so I'm not too sure how long they would last without actually removing them since she likes to peel them off just after a day haha. But I reckon two coats of nail polish will last maybe 3-4 days without chipping?

Miss Nella kids nail polish range comes in 23 jolly colours and includes solid and shimmer glitter shades.

Lil Pumpkin obviously likes her bling bling nail polish glitter colours the most o(≧∇≦o) and has a very decent collection of the colours, so enjoys going crazy trying out different nail-art patterns and mixing colours..I bought her some cheap but super cute nail stickers from Daiso to use too.

Isn't the packaging for each nail polish just adorable?! The bottle is small and light enough for tiny hands to handle, and the cap screws on tightly to prevent any leakages when closed properly.

The bottles are pretty full so I've to remind Lil Pumpkin not to tilt the bottles when opening them.. would be good if they had an anti-leakage system of some sort when the bottles are open.

Lil Pumpkin takes about 2 strokes to cover her nails completely. She's no pro and colours out of her fingernails most of the time, but good thing is that the nail polish peels off easily even when applied on the skin so she has no problem fixing it.
I'm rather impressed with Miss Nella nail polish pigment.. Colour goes on smooth, is true to the color in the bottle, and dries super-quick.

Miss Nella also sells a Funky Monkey Nail Dryer. Simply paint your nails, gently press the banana button and this cheeky chap will blow a stream of cool air onto your nails until they're dry!

There's feedback from other customers that the airflow output is not that good. True, the stream of cool air is really very light but like I mentioned earlier, the nail polish dries super-quick, plus kids' nails are tiny/small, so you don't really need a strong wind for the nail polish to dry.

But I think that it complements the nail polishes well and brings more life to the make-belief scenario of "being like a little grown-up putting on nail polish". It is very cute and appealing to the kids and to be honest, even I find it cute and want one for myself!

If I'm not wrong, there is not many, if any, nail dryers for kids so even if it doesn't work well, it still works good enough for kids as a toy. Parents should not have any expectation of them working like a "normal" adult nail dryer. No, it is a pretend-play toy nail dryer made for kids, and should be treated as such. 

So much joy on her face! (⁎⚈᷀᷁▿⚈᷀᷁⁎) Love this girl so much.. she worked really hard for her first-ever major exams and I'm gonna make sure that she enjoys this school holidays to the fullest!

Lil Pumpkin had fun choosing the colours and helping Lil J apply the nail polish too haha...

Lil J had a go at it herself as well!! Way to help her improve her motor skills! Although, she DID get the nail polish mostly on her hands and her Funky Monkey Nail Dryer.. instead of on her fingernails (*≧∀≦*) Good thing they are safe for her baby-soft skin and clean off easily..

As she picked up each nail polish bottle, it was really cute to hear her say the name of each colour haha.. who knew nail polishes made for a good learning tool too?? (*′☉.̫☉)

In Singapore, Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish is found exclusively in TΓΌnΓΆnim online children's boutique, which also sells children’s apparel, accessories and other fantastic household products that are safe, stylish and comfortable for your kids.

Promo: TΓΌnΓΆnim imports Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish direct from the UK. Currently, they are having a promotion and each bottle of nail polish cost S$11.50/bottle {U.P. $13.90}, and the Funky Monkey Nail Dryer cost S$16.50/piece {U.P. 18.90}. International delivery is available, and free delivery to Singapore addresses for orders S$80 and above.

*Disclosure: This is a review for Miss Nella Singapore. All opinions are my own.