Monday, April 24, 2017

Bookyboo - Personalised Books for Family & Children

We've read countless books but how amazing is it to be part of a story where you are the main character and hero??! It must be such a magical feeling and Bookboo personalised books helps to bring that magic alive for families and children.

Based in Singapore, they are the first ever book that can be personalised for any family with 1 or 2 children, even twins and single parents. The story takes the kid{s} on a jungle adventure where the kid{s} rescue their own parents from the cruel Evilor. The story is designed to help children enhance their vocabulary and inculcate life values of kindness, love and courage

Last month, hubby and I ordered the Fun Family Bookyboo book for Lil Pumpkin and her cousin, Lil J. When the book arrived earlier in the week, Lil Pumpkin was really excited to read it to Lil J so we went over to my sister's home yesterday to chill and for the kids to play together..

It's really such a sweet sight to see Lil Pumpkin reading to her little cousin (*^▽^*)

Since young, she always loved being the "big jie jie" and taking care of younger kids whether in the family, in school or at the playground.. I've no doubt that if blessed with the opportunity, she would definitely be a wonderful, caring older sister.

And that opportunity came along with Lil J (/^▽^)/

Although both of them are just cousins, we hope that they will both grow up to be close like real sisters and go on many adventures through life together. This book will be a precious reminder of the bond they share with one another and a way for the children to discover the power of a strong family and sibling love!

To order the book, just go to Bookyboo's website and key in some simple details like the kid{s} name{s}, gender{s} and you can even customise the book for twins or those with single parents.

The illustrations, characters and story will differ slightly based on your customisations. For example, if you put in 2 kids' names, there will be 2 kids as heroes in the story. If you put in 1 kid's name, there will be 1 kid and his pet dino who will go on the adventure in the story.

Unfortunately, you are not able to customise the "look" of each character e.g. hairstyle, hair colour, race, outfit etc. and I hope that Bookyboo will have this option available in the future.

There is only 1 storyline too where the heroes go into a jungle to fight the villian. I reckon it would be more fun if there were seasonal stories you can choose from too e.g. going to a winter wonderland during Christmas to fight a snow monster haha and hopefully Bookyboo will look into this too. 

However, can I just say how impressed I am with the website? It is so clean, easy-to-use and loads fast. You can even preview the whole book for free before purchase! Here are some examples with the different customisation options,

Fun Family Bookyboo for twins, 1 boy and 1 girl, with both parents

Fun Family Bookybook for brothers of different ages

Fun Family Bookybook for single child and single parent

And if having your name all over the book and being the hero of the story isn't good enough, you also get a printed personalised message on the first page too! ♥ Hubby and I wrote a special, individualised message for each of the girl's book.

The Fun Family Bookyboo is printed on rich, thick, textured paper. Each page opens up to panoramic full-spread illustrations. Designed for the little ones' easy reading and sharing, each bookyboo is A4 landscape size {297mm x 210mm}.

Fun Family Bookyboo is recommended for kids aged 3-9 years old, and is definitely easy enough for a child like Lil Pumpkin {who is turning 8 next month by the way!} to read by herself. The text is in simple English using fun rhymes.

Delivery time is estimated to be 12 to 15 working days from the order date. You can check the exact shipping days at the time of checkout. For more information or to make your own personalised book, go to Bookyboo website or Facebook page.

P.S. Bookyboo also has another book called My Adventure where it is personalised for the letters of the child's name. I ordered that for a friend's newborn baby but it will arrive later. I'll review that when it comes in a few more weeks' time (≧∇≦*)

Promo: 10% OFF on the second book, and 15% OFF on the third book onwards. These books must all be in one order and have a common shipping address {discount will be automatically calculated in your cart}. Overseas shipping available, and free delivery to addresses in India, Malaysia and Singapore.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We are doing all right... ❤

In exactly 1 month's time, Lil Pumpkin will be turning 8 years old.. yes, our little bundle of joy if fast becoming a little tween!! #wheredidmybabygo

I can't help but be a little emo about it, so forgive me if I suddenly look wistful or even start bawling if you happen to meet me in the coming month haha..

Everyday for the past 8 years, I've wondered if I was a good mother, or if I could ever be a good enough mum for her. Every. Day.

I wonder if she has enough to eat, I wonder if she has enough sleep, I wonder if I'm spending enough time with her, I wonder if I'm being too harsh on her, I wonder if I'm teaching her good manners, I wonder if I should read more to her, I wonder if she has enough help with her school work, I wonder if she has too little time to play, I wonder if she is being bullied, I wonder if SHE is the bully... sigh. I'm sure all parents can relate??

I can't even keep a plant alive. How do I raise a little human being with no prior experience, no training, and no real control on life's curve-balls?

Some days, motherhood can be hard and I find myself sobbing hard and feeling like such a failure.
Some days though, I feel that I'm doing all right.

Days like the ones where I receive small but significant messages like these below..

I always tell the boy not to buy me flowers during Valentine's Day as I think it's a huge waste of money what with the exorbitant jacked-up prices.

This year, the boy messaged that Lil Pumpkin actually used her own money & bought flowers for him, so that he can give them to me and make me happy!!!  Oh what did I do to deserve such a sweet, darling daughter??!

And then over the weekend, her classmate's mummy told me how sweet and caring Lil Pumpkin was to her friend when she was sick in school the previous day. Aww.. it really made my heart swoon with love and pride for Lil Pumpkin!! ❤

Yes, I may not be a perfect mother, but I must be doing something right to raise such a sweet, kind and loving girl.

Actually, WE.. the boy and I, are doing something right together as her parents. The boy doesn't speak of it much, but I know sometimes he does have doubts over his fatherhood skills too.

I just want him to know that he is an awesome dad, and I would never be able to survive this parenting jig without him. He is my support, and my strength on the toughest days and I'm really grateful that he's always been hands-on and involved in taking care of Lil Pumpkin from Day 1. Thank you for loving the both of us so, so much.

We're doing all right as parents, Poogeo... we're doing all right. Our dear Lil Pumpkin is living proof of that.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fitness Diary :: Home Gym Equipment from Primero Fitness Singapore

Since my last post on our 3M Post-It Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface "instant whiteboards" where I showed a sneak peek of our home gym, some friends have asked on what equipment we have, where we got our equipment, how we fit it into the room etc etc..

I'll do a proper room tour of our home gym later, but first I'd like to introduce one of the shops we got our equipment from - Primero Fitness. We looked at many different fitness equipment shops, both local and overseas, before deciding on what equipment to get for our needs based on quality and value-for-money.

Primero Fitness is an online fitness equipment shop based in Singapore. You won't find big global brand names like Rogue, Eleiko or York equipment in their store, but they specialise in providing durable equipment at the most affordable prices. Whether it is dumbbells, barbells, or other fitness equipment, the products they sell are designed in-house, adapted for use in Singapore and are guaranteed home-safe.

Building a home gym usually takes a lot of money. My personal trainer, Superman, spent almost S$10K just on his Eleiko {used in the Olympics} weightlifting platform, barbell {only 1, mind you!} and bumper plates for his home gym. That's not including the amount spent on his other floor mats, rack, bench, other barbells, dumbbells, bumper plates etc. As a dedicated fitness professional, he really wanted top of the range equipment to provide the best training environment for his clients so didn't mind investing so much money on it.

However, for most of us who are just average Joes looking to get some basic equipment at home to work out at home and save time on going to a crowded commercial gym, I really don't think we need to spend that much money or bother about getting "branded" equipment that cost a bomb to ship in from overseas as long as they are still standardised and made well.

If you think the same way as me, then Primero Equipment is a good place to start to buy fitness equipment for a basic home gym that caters to all kinds of gym users.

Depending on the type of exercises you intend to do and the space you have in your home gym, Primero Fitness offers good value-for-money home bundles to get you started such as the 2 above. You can also customise your own bundle and ask them for a quote.

In Home Bundle A, you get a 20kg Dumbbell / Barbell Combo where the dumbbell hand pieces can actually combine and convert into a barbell! This saves you money and space in keeping an additional barbell, which is pretty ingenious.. of course, a regular weightlifter won't use such a barbell to lift heavy weights but for a casual gym user, this is really handy.

Home Bundle B is more for amateur / intermediate users that want separate dumbbells and barbells. Some programs may require you to use both in a single workout so having them separate is more convenient too. The straight barbell in this set is reinforced to carry more weights and the weight plates provided are interchangeable between the dumbbells and barbell.

Actually all the weight plates sold in Primero Fitness are interchangeable with all their bars because they have designed all the plates to have a standard 28mm hole. That means that we do not have to buy extra weight plates to fit the dumbbell handles, barbell or ez-bar that we have from them.

Their plate increments come start from 0.5kg to 15kg. The larger and heavier plates have a Tri-grip design allows you to carry and load weights easily. It's worth getting a few lighter weight plates too so that you can progress consistently.  Smaller weighted exercises are going to need smaller weight increments for a good progression scheme. We only got plates from 2.5kg onwards though and need to order some 0.5kg and 1.25kg plates from them soon. Forgot about those hehe..

One thing to note is that the weight plates from Primero Fitness uses virgin rubber. Most of the rubber weight plates you see in commercial gyms or other gym shops use recycled rubber, hence you tend to see them cracked or flaky after a while. Recycled rubber does that - their life span is only around 2 years and they crack easily from exposure to temperature changes and regular impact.

Virgin rubber has a much better quality, is highly shock absorbent and feels smooth and consistent. Unlike recycled rubber, there's also no / faint rubber smell which you can barely notice. It is supposed to expand / contract easily, and last for at least 10 years.

Of course, we haven't used Primero's weights for that long so can't vouch on that long-lasting quality, but there is a 10-year warranty on Primero weight plates and it does have that consistent, smooth rubber coat and barely-noticeable smell from virgin rubber.

Space is definitely a premium in any home and even though the boy and I have a dedicated room for our home gym, we still need to maximise the space.

The Compact Weight Rack has a sturdy base, is space-saving and organises our weight plates and bars neatly in a corner {as compared to just laying them on the floor! Unsightly and dangerous!}. It can hold 2 bars, and at least 6 plates of different sizes. The boy assembled it pretty fast too. 

Primero Fitness sells 2 types of straight bars - 5kg {1.5m} and 6kg {1.8m} bars. They are reinforced steel electroplated with thick chromium plating and I reckon are good enough for casual to intermediate gym users.

The boy and I are considered advance gym users and lift pretty heavy. We use standard 20kg bars in our training, so the 5kg Primero Fitness bar is not suitable for us. However, I think that it's perfect for Lil Pumpkin to practise her CrossFit Kids training where they are just starting out to use reeeeeally light weights.

The 5kg bar is easy enough for her to handle, and the ergonomic, not-too-thick bar is just nice for her small hands to grip comfortably. That's her lifting 10kg by the way, under her daddy's watchful eyes. Don't worry, she has been taught never to touch the weights in our home gym unsupervised, even if she has done the exercises before. 

Lil Pumpkin doing Bicep Curls with the empty dumbbell handles hehe. If I'm not wrong, they should be about 1.5kg each?

Primero Fitness dumbbell handles have 4 layers of chromium plating over a solid steel core to resist corrosion and increase hardness. The middle portion is covered with a comfortable, ergonomic anti-skid rubber grip and like the bars, it uses a spin-lock system for easy loading of the weights.

The boy and I use the dumbbells in our workouts and they can carry up to 40kg of weights. Currently, I can only do shoulder presses of up to 17.5kg so that's more than enough for me hehe.

We ordered an EZ Curl Bar from them too as it's much more comfortable doing biceps curls, lying triceps extensions and even upright rows on an EZ bar compared to a straight bar because you can use a slightly more neutral grip, and a more natural hand position, that's less taxing on your wrists and elbows.

It also has 4 layers of chromium plating over a solid steel core to resist corrosion and increase hardness and the knurling isn't too rough.

Other than strength and conditioning equipment, Primero Fitness also sells mobility equipment like foam rollers in various densities, textures and sizes. Using a roller that is too soft can provide inadequate pressure while a foam roller that is too hard can cause bruising and trauma, which can result in pain and have a negative effect on your performance.

The one Lil Pumpkin is lying on above is the Fascianator II, which is one of the hardest foam rollers around in the market. It has high density and deeper "spikes", ridges and knobs to provide more precisely targeted massage to work out knots in your muscles.

I'd say it's more for intermediate to advanced athletes who have been foam-rolling for some time as it can be quite painful to use.

I've mentioned how important foam-rolling is before in breaking up the tight muscle knots, releasing trigger points, increasing blood flow and circulation without relying on anybody. The boy and I try to do it every single day as an important part of our training because recovery, healthy muscles and mobility are important factors in workout performance.

Especially with my bad back and knees, foam-rolling does help a lot in reducing the aches I get in those areas.

I even have a mat and roller in my office for me to stretch and roll whenever I can hehe..

This green roller is the Centenarian and has a multi-grid design that is suitable for all muscle groups. It is hard due to the high-density foam too, but is much more comfortable to use because of the smoother, and more even pressure.

I'd recommend this to someone just starting out in foam-rolling too. No point getting something too soft as it's not "shiok" or provide any pressure to do what it's supposed to do haha.. it's also a good portable size for you to bring along to the office or out to your own gym.

The mat is their NBR Exercise Mat, which is made from a mixture of PVC foam and nitrite rubber, making it more durable and tear-resistant than PVC. It has an anti-slip backing and I love that it is extra thick {15mm, as compared to a typical 6mm exercise mat} as it's so much more comfortable when I do any floor exercises or stretching. It makes for a pretty decent make-shift bed for my lunch-time naps in the office too hehe..

If you want a mat for yoga, I think you should get their TPE Yoga Mat instead as this would be too slippery. That mat has a double-sided non-slip texture for better grip and a Body Alignment System: which alignment lines to help users to concentrate while adjusting hands and feet to precise position.

Our home gym is still a work-in-progress actually but it is fast becoming our favourite family room haha.. Fitness plays such a big part of our lives now that it was a natural "progression" to have this in our family home.

It is not only more convenient for the boy and I to fit in our workouts now {although we still train outside at our club, CrossFit box and with my PT}, but also to not just role-model, but include Lil Pumpkin in our fitness lifestyle as well as kids are well, not typically welcome in commercial gyms.

As a full-time working mum, there are times when I feel lazy and want to just give up... give up exercising, give up meal-prepping, give up being conscious of making healthier, sometimes harder choices.. But then, I remember who is watching me. Being healthy isn't just for us. It's to inspire our kids to take care of their bodies and make that a priority in their lives too. Healthy kids are raised by healthy parents!

Anyway, check out Primero Fitness website for more information on the fitness and gym products they provide and contact them directly for any questions. Self-collection and free local delivery for purchases above S$150.

I've been communicating with one of their staff, Jordon, for our equipment from them and I must say that their customer service is really excellent - polite, prompt replies and even goes out of the way to check the equipment before delivery and replace them when he thought they weren't up to standard, even without me asking. Helps that they are based in Singapore too so works according to our time and returns / replacements, if any, can be easily done :) 

More on my Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training


Friday, March 24, 2017

Home Living | 3M Post-It Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface

I first saw the 3M Post-it Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface in stores a few months ago and thought they were pretty cool.

All you needed to do was to just peel and stick, and you can transform any ordinary surface into “instant whiteboards”. No extra tools needed and no worries about destroying walls!

Using a proprietary dry erase coating so that it erases cleanly every time from whiteboard markers, the Post-it Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface is a rolled, self-stick film product that easily adheres to horizontal or vertical surfaces, converting them into a pristine, dry erase board.

You can apply them to painted walls, steel, finished wood, glass and even existing chalkboards. Unlike some cheaper versions, the stain-proof writing surface makes it easy to write and erase smoothly, and is less susceptible to scratching or marker stains.

I like that it can easily cut-to-size to create customized whiteboards or fun doodling surfaces. Think about the possibilities!! If you ever thought of getting one of those hipster blackboard walls for your kids to unleash their creativity at home but cringed at the thought of painting a whole wall black and cleaning up the chalk-dust {I sure did haha}, you should really consider getting the 3M Post-it Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface.

You can cover a whole wall with it, or even tables and chairs, and let your kids draw freely to inspire and encourage a nature of creativity or even do school work on. If after some time you feel like redecorating, you just have to peel it off and reuse it somewhere else. No need to repaint any walls at all!

Personally, we've peeled if off a few times to adjust / realign the surfaces and our walls seem fine. We've been using 3M tapes for years and I usually find that they do not damage my walls but do note that results may vary for you, depending on the type of walls you have as well.

At home, we use it in our mini gym {yes we have one.. used to be Lil Pumpkin's kiddy room haha. More on that later!! You can read about our basic equipment from Primero Fitness first} for the boy to write out his WODs and fitness goals.

Why write down fitness goals? Well, if you have a set clear, written goals for the future, you will make specific plans to transform your dreams into realities :) It's highly motivating and all committed athletes do it.

With them clearly out on the Post-it Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface, it's highly visible and motivating!

Since it’s flat and doesn’t jut out to take out any extra space like a traditional whiteboard, we don’t have to worry about hitting it with any of our bars or gym equipment when lifting weights too.

I think children get a reaaaaaaal real kick out of writing/ drawing on walls haha and Lil Pumpkin does like to use it to doodle and practice her spelling or maths sums too.

It doesn’t come with any accessory holder for the markers and whiteboard eraser, but no biggie - you can buy it separately. I do hope that they come out with a magnetic version soon though so that we can also stick notes and messages on it too.

3M Post-it Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface {60.9cm x 91.4cm} retails at S$55.95 {w/ GST} and is available in selected Popular and leading bookstores.

Promo: 15% OFF retail price in Popular and selected Self-fix outlets for the entire month of April 2017.

 *Disclosure: This is a review for 3M Singapore. All opinions are my own.