Review: We are flipping with joy with Flip For Joy!

REVIEW

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Liza. She was a naughty little girl who loved jumping over longkangs (Malay translation of drains), plucking weeds and drawing into her sisters’ textbooks. She also hated Chinese with a passion because she thought all Chinese teachers were scary and possibly sent from Hell to punish her with 听写 every week. Her Chinese teacher was so confident in her incompetence in the language that she told Liza’s daddy she was sure to stay back a year because Liza will never be able to pull her marks up in time. What a warm and wonderful woman she was eh?

One day, Liza decided she had enough of The Chinese Teacher’s rubbish and told her daddy they needed to go shopping. “Buy what?” her daddy asked. “I want to buy Aaron Kwok cassette tape!” Liza shouted. “Who??” her daddy asked again while scratching his head. “Hong Kong singer. Everybody have. I also want!” Liza insisted. Why did it have to be THIS GUY? The guy sang with such a heavy Cantonese accent that it was impossible to know what he was singing without referring to the lyrics. The most unbelievable thing happened a few months after that. Liza’s grades went from F9 to C6! Amazeballs!

But what is the point of this story? For a start, Xander is not the only one who struggles with the Chinese language. His laobu did too at his age. I would have definately failed my PSLE if not for an unorthodox learning method. Also, I thought I completely rid myself the need to bother with Chinese forever after I left school but fate is cruel: We are blessed with 2 children and therefore must go through it 2 more times. Ermahgerd…

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Since my last post, I received a lot of really good tips and tricks from our friends as well as words of encouragement that we are not alone in our struggle. The most common advice I got was to get my kids Chinese books. Nothing beats a good, engaging/entertaining paperback but Chinese books? I didn’t even know where to start.

Enter Flip For Joy 乐翻天, a Singapore-based online children’s bookstore.

What is so different about Flip For Joy 乐翻天?

1. They are book recommendations from a parent to another.

All the books were carefully picked by the owner, Meiru, who was an ex JC Chinese language teacher. A lot of time and effort have been spent on searching for books that are fun, exciting and engaging. She even do “test runs” of the books with her 6 year old before writing the sypnosis and recommendations in both Chinese and English so as to help parents choose the best for their children.

2. The books have categorized into 3 main categories: Flip for FUN, KNOWLEDGE, LOVE

Flip for FUN books are highly interactive and a whole lot of fun!
Flip for KNOWLEDGE are insightful and have rich elements of story-telling.
Flip for LOVE books help children love the important values in life.

3. Many of their books are not only bilingual, they are also best-sellers and award-winning titles.

You can find popular titles such as Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, The Giving Tree etc.

4. Free delivery.

They offer free local standard mail for all orders and free courier delivery to your doorstep for orders S$50 and above.

I found it easy to browse for books based on the 3 categories and quickly picked a few I think the kids would enjoy. A couple of days later, the books arrived together with a few additional titles chosen by Meiru who felt will be just as great for them as well. Ex JC Chinese language teacher chose one leh! Sure good one!

Let’s take a look at what we received in the mail.

Flipping for Joy
Some of these books were selected by me, the others by Meiru.

Yvie’s favourite has to be 这是谁的声音?动物系列(4册) because these are sound board books. Almost indestructible and it come with animals sounds. What’s not to love about them? She loved them so much that the horse has turned hoarse. Geddit? Hoarse horse?


婴儿绘本馆(3) is a collection of 9 short stories. Much like almost all books that are catered for children ages 3 years and below, the stories cute and relatable. The 2 audio CDs that came with the set were also great for car rides. 动物狂欢节 (a Chinese translation of a French children’s story) was easy enough for C6 level Mummy to decipher and we had fun trying to predict what the animals would be dressing up as for the carnival.

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动物狂欢节 – Some light reading before lunch.

袋鼠也有妈妈吗 (picture board book) is the Chinese version of popular author Eric Carle’s “Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? Of course they do — just like me and you!” Same trademark illustrations just in a different language. The simple rhyming and repetitive phrases were fun to read to the little girl. The boys had a lot of fun with 我把妈妈变成了鳄鱼 as you can see in the video below. For optimum effect, you need to get into character when you read this book folks because once you do, it is really quite hilarious. Of course lah! Mocking your mother is always hilarious mah.  

Mummy struggled and sweated a little while reading 十万个为什么(幼儿版,4册)经典童话系列(5):西游记(10册) and 老虎来喝下午茶 because my Chinese is really, ridiculously lousy. When I got tired from checking what the words are with my smartphone app the 124th time, I decided to anyhowly pronounce it the way I see fit. I thought the boy won’t know the difference but eventually even my conscience couldn’t tahan my nonsense. I really need to brush up on my Chinese. *gulp*

I also chose 勇气 Courage and 亚洲辛香宝贝(4册套装)Asian Spice Kids (box set) because these are bilingual books and thought if he got intimidated by the Chinese bits, the English text might come in handy. He ended up reading only the English parts when I left the room. Sigh. Alriiiight… We shall try these again another day then.

In conjunction with Flip for Joy’s 4th anniversary in October, 

1. Flip for Joy will be offering 10% storewide discount for the month of October (until 31 October, Saturday 2359 hours)
2. Every $50 spent in October earns you one chance in their anniversary draw – four lucky winners will each receive a $50 book hamper. Open to readers worldwide.
3. To celebrate Children’s Day, Flip for Joy will pledge $5 per order placed in October to Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (http://www.cpas.org.sg) to “help uplift the lives of needy clients, whose families face financial hardship and have difficulty providing for the special needs of their disabled children.”

So many reasons to shop at Flip for Joy and you will be doing a really good deed at the same time. Visit their website and check out their Facebook page as well won’t ya?

Flip For Joy Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flipforjoy

Disclaimer:
Mother of Xander received some books courtesy of Flip for Joy for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own. 

Health Detective Day by Parkway East Hospital

MEDIA INVITE

How many times have you nagged at your child the importance of washing their hands before meals or eating healthy? Too many to count, I know. Sometimes I felt like recording my nags into my phone just so I can play it back it to Xander whenever required. How to teach them good habits then? Benjamin Franklin had the perfect answer.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

We were invited to participate in Parkway East Hospital’s Health Detective Day two weekends ago and it was certainly different from the previous Doctor for a Day we attended last year. Not only did Xander had the opportunity to learn and role-play the different occupations in a hospital, his grandmother (my mummy) also got to learn a tip or two about healthy eating, muscle strengthening exercises and she also had a cataract screening by experienced eye specialists. It would’ve been a real 3 generation discovery experience except that we didn’t participate in the Superchef Challenge. It didn’t matter because we all had fun anyway.

KIDS HEALTH DETECTIVE EXPERIENCE

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When you have children, getting to events on time is relatively unheard of. At least for my family. This time, we had the timing pat down yo! Even managed to have a nice lunch before the session. When its too good to be true, it usually is. When we reached the venue, I was wondering why was it so quiet and where were the rambunctious kids? As it turns out, we were at the wrong hospital 🙁 *facepalm*. A quick call and a 15 minutes drive later, we finally arrived at the right place, Parkway East Hospital (formerly East Shore Hospital).

Xander was reminded about the importance of personal hygiene and about those nasty germs and viruses in the General Practitioner’s room. The kids had to relearn how to wash their hands properly: front, back, between fingers, fingertips, etc. Pretty straightforward but the kids preferred the other 2 rooms more: Dietician and Radiologist.

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All hell broke loose when the little detectives were told to find food they think gives them energy in the dietician’s room.
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Burgers are good what. Got meat, got veggie, ok mah?

The Dietician room was a clear favourite among the kids because it was filled with so many props and they had to decide what are healthy foods and what are not. Thankfully, most of them had the right answers and the others, well, they had fun waving enormous pictures of burgers.

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I love the props in the radiologist’s room!

I was pretty tickled to see the mini MRI scanner in the Radiologist’s room. It was absolutely adorable! The little detectives were so excited to be given the opportunity to scan their patients and make sure they were in the pink of health.

ADULT HEALTH DETECTIVE EXPERIENCE


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Since we were the only participants for the Adults Health Detective experience that day, (the rest eventually turned up later), we all sat in for the session with Grandma and the nutritionist. She taught us about the food pyramid and went through with us what kind of portion for the different food groups is recommended based on the food pyramid.

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The young ladies in the Mobility room showed Grandma some simple exercises she can do at home to get those joints movin’ groovin’. It was like a mini dance class and she looked like she had fun 🙂

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Lastly, she was given a cataract screening by experienced eye specialists from the Eagle Eye Centre. According to the description of the screening given, “Eye cataract screening include visual acuity to establish one’s visual capabilities, intra-ocular pressure to detect glaucoma and eye health to evaluate the ocular health of one’s eye.”

My mum knew she needed some TLC (Tender Loving Care) done on her eyes so the diagnosis did not come as a surprise to her. However, The Husband and I felt the specialist could have been more sensitive with the delivery of his words. He wasn’t nasty or rude. Neither did he exaggerate her condition. He was just very blunt. I wish when dealing with elder patients, he could have been a little gentler and not keep repeating lines like “It is really really bad yah? You know right?” I felt so sorry for my mummy. Of course she knows its bad lah but it doesn’t mean she likes it. She kept a brave front and nodded at everything he said. Sigh. I attempted to diffuse the mood with nonsense like “Ya Mummy, after the surgery hor, you can see your 4D numbers a lot clearer liao wor! You will see more winning numbers even! Good ah? Good ah?” My own eye specialist (from Eye Hospital some more) is also blunt like that with me. He insisted “a chunk of tissue missing from your cornea” was just a medical term. *rolleyes* Lucky I young, I can take it and I shot back with a “That’s not funny”.

Anyway, I’m sure not everyone in the medical profession is like that and I have met some very warm, compassionate and with good “bedside manners” ones before. These 2 are just the rare few. I hope.

The Graduation (for the kids’ session)

Parkway East Health Detective Group Photo

At the end of the kids’ session, they were ushered into a closed room for their graduation photo and certificate. I was standing outside the room wondering why take so long and sounded like they took many times. THEN they ran out and I dug for the photo in Xander’s goodie bag. I burst out laughing when I saw it. He is such a ham in front of the camera! This has to be the best photo he has taken in an event this year. Haha!

After the phototaking, we paid a quick visit to the carnival / organic market on the ground floor. There was also a health forum where members of the public could ask the specialists questions about various general health issues.

My thoughts

Xander enjoyed himself tremendously and it was certainly very different from the one he attended last year. He also remembered quite a bit of the information he was taught during the day and reminded me “Rice is energy food and I need to eat some now because I used up all my energy running around just now.” Orh, ok lor.

The programme is recommended for kids between 5-10 years old and if you want to participate in their future programmes, do visit their Facebook page for regular updates.

Disclaimer

We were invited by Parkway East Hospital for the event but all opinions are my own. 

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Diwali!

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To all our Indian friends and family, Happy Diwali! May the light of Diwali bring you peace, joy and prosperity in the new year!

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Side note, Xander’s school celebrated Diwali/Deepavali last week with everyone in either Indian costumes or party clothes, some henna painting and they also got to eat some traditional snacks. A simple party no less but at least this very Chinese school made the effort to teach the young ones a little more about the festival.

Dr Lily’s All Natural Aloe Vera Gel: Review and Giveaway

Review

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, aloe vera was like the go-to plant for all sorts of problems:

Kena splattered by oil from frying chicken wings despite standing 2 metres away and holding up the wok cover? Grab an aloe vera leaf!

Longkang (Malay for drain) appeared from nowhere and swallowed you in thus causing scraped knees? Aloe vera!!

Fell asleep at the beach while listening to Jason Dovonan serenade you on your discman and you kenah very ugly and painful sunburns? *loud chants* ALOE! ALOE!

Such a versatile and underrated plant, this aloe vera. 🙂

I was introduced to Dr Lily’s All Natural® Aloe Vera Gel by a friend 2 years ago when I complained on my Facebook wall that Xander’s persistent eczema was bothering me. Although his rashes weren’t terrible, they just didn’t seem to go away. My friend said instead of relying on steroid creams constantly, why not give Dr Lily’s aloe vera gel a try because it is all natural and contains no harmful preservatives and chemicals. I bought a tube, tried it and the rashes went away quite quickly.

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MUMMY! So itchy! *sobs*

Fast forward 2 years and a new baby later, the dreaded eczema problem popped up again. Poor Yvie inherited our sensitive skin gene and she will break out into rashes all over her face and body quite quickly whenever the weather is hot or when we carry her in the baby carrier a little too long. My friend reminded me “Oi! Use the Dr Lily’s aloe vera gel lah! Babies can use also!” Oh yah hor?

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The aqueous, clear gel is very easy to apply and this is especially awesome when you have a very squirmy baby who wriggles away at any chance. Squeeze a good amount in the hand and slap it on the baby before she make a run for it. I could never do this with other skin care cream because they don’t spread as easily and I would often have more cream on the bed than on the baby. We would normally apply the gel on Yvie after her bath and I will apply the excess onto my embarrassingly ugly and dry elbows and knees. Don’t waste good stuff mah.

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Would you like to try Dr Lily’s All Natural® Aloe Vera Gel for yourself?

Especially for all readers of Mother of Xander from 1 to 7 September! (Giveaway has ended)

Dr Lily’s is giving away 1 set of goodies to ONE LUCKY READER! It includes the following items:

  1. 1 x 100ml Dr Lily’s aloe vera gel
  2. 3 x mini jars of Dr Lily’s aloe vera gel with random essential oil
  3. 1 x Dr Lily’s recycle bag

How to win?

Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below. Come back again for the results on 8 September.

UPDATE (8 September 2014)

Congratulations Yu Meiyi! I will be contacting you via email today. Thank you everyone for your support!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s not all!

If you can’t wait to get your hands on a tube of Dr Lily’s All Natural® Aloe Vera Gel, all readers of Mother of Xander can enjoy 15% discount* off your total order amount! When you send your orders to friends@drlilys.com, please remember to quote ‘Mother of Xander‘ in order to enjoy the discount!**

Validity of discount code ends on 30 September 2014.
**A flat $5 courier fee will be chargeable regardless of the the number of items purchased.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!

Disclaimer: We received 2 tubes of Dr Lily’s All Natural® Aloe Vera Gel for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.

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Dr Lily’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/DrLilysUSA
More about Dr Lily’s at http://drlilys.com/4401.html
More about Dr Lily’s All Natural® Aloe Vera Gel at http://drlilys.com/4201.html

Let’s go to… the Singapore Garden Festival 2014

One of my friends had texted me a few weeks ago to ask if we were interested to visit the Singapore Garden Festival because they had a couple of tickets to spare and thought of us. How sweet right? I thought since I haven’t seen this friend in a long time, we arranged to go to the festival together on the 1st day.

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We saw all sorts of flowers that day. Rare flowers, common flowers, big flowers, teeny tiny flowers and even Old Flower Eyes (老花眼. Chinese translation of Presbyopia). I was told many of the exotic flowers were specially flown in just for the event and designers from top garden shows around the world were invited to create special themed displays during the festival as well.

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Visitors were especially attracted to the Orchid Extravaganza which housed several award winning orchids in the Flower Dome. Everybody wanted to get closer to the orchids and take multiple macros of the same bloom in the same position. They were also waiting to get into the 10-metre column which I heard had a nice surprise insideThe line into the special area was so long that we had to give it a miss. I mean, we can still see it from the perimeter. Just not close enough to take nice macro shots of the gorgeous blooms. All of these special blooms were on loan from private collectors and external vendors. There were even medals and plaques displayed quite prominently next to the flowers. Next to these medals and plaques, you will see Do Not Touch signs. In fact, these signs can be seen all over the Flower Dome. Even the hardy succulent zones had signs to remind visitors not to pelt the poor plants with the stones that were scattered around them. People don’t understand these cactuses can DIE one. I saw a kid threw some small stones at the plants for fun and his parents did nothing. So irritating.

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You would think at the Orchid Extravaganza area with so many ‘caretakers’ and signs people will understand right? Nope. I saw a guy trying to pull some orchids closer to his wife so she could use her puny iPhone to take shots of it. Come on. Don’t act blur when told you are not supposed to touch the flowers ok? A simple Sorry or Ok is good enough. Don’t pretend and say “Oh I nair say the sign” or “I was just taking photos” or worse “No, I nair touch!” You so big size, how not to see your big burly hand tugging on the delicate flower leh? Look! It was still swinging from side to side when you suddenly let go of it lor. *rolleyes* Luckily, the ‘caretakers’ were very polite and friendly, unlike me, so there was no drama after minor confrontation.

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We were wandering around the tents in The Meadow and came across some students showcasing their works made from recycled materials. One in particular caught our eye and we went closer to take a look. While we were watching the student demonstrate how she used a plastic bag to make into a flower, a lady decided she NEEDED to record the entire process on video with her camera. She shoved Xan (who was standing right next to me) aside saying “I want to take a video of this.” HARLOW? I told her “Hey! He was here first, don’t shove him around!” It was as though I was invisible because she didn’t seem to care at all. I wanted to tell this auntie her camera has this thing called the Zoom Lens and that if she looked down she will realize she has feet and can use them to move around my child to take her video. Why must be at that particular spot leh? Wah lau. *grumblegrumble*

I wished I was able to spend more time to see all the flowers properly especially the 10-metre column. It would’ve been nice to take a picture of the inside. Oh well. Kids and babies are not made for long walks in crowded spaces. Maybe next time I should go on my own. It is impossible to take clear photos with a wriggly baby strapped in front of you.

Today is the last day of the festival and in case you decide to go take a look (I highly recommend you should), here are some tips I want to share with you:

  1. Try not to bring your strollers. It will be very crowded and trying to manoeuvre your tank through the sea of people will be tricky. If you simply have to bring it, bring lor. Don’t say I never tell you ah.
  2. There are very few resting spots at the festival so if you are bringing your elderly parents (such fillial chewren you are! *clap clap*), go slow and seek refuge inside the air-conditioned tents frequently.
  3. Bring a hat and sunglasses because it might get really hot and sunny.
  4. Limited carpark lots. You might be better off taking public transport.
  5. Don’t touch the flowers if they tell you not to touch them! Some of the plants are very sensitive to the oils on your hands and will DIE! Admire the flowers with your eyes and cameras only please ok?

Do hop over to Cheekiemonkie and Princess Dana Diaries to read about their experiences at the festival.

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Venue: Gardens by the Bay (in case you didn’t know)
Show Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Conservatories Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm daily

SGF 2014 Ticket Pricing

Let’s go to… Dong Po Colonial Cafe

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I was having the strangest cravings the night before and really really needed to get myself a slice of old school butter cream cake. I normally avoid butter cream at all costs because it tastes so…buttery. I guess all the breast feeding had caused me to have weird cravings for fattening, sugary treats that I don’t normally like.

I’ve read about Dong Po Colonial Cafe from a couple of blogs like ieatishootipost and A Juggling Mum so I knew the retro cafe serves very affordable treats ($2 per slice of cake!) and most importantly, butter cream cakes! Since we had some time before dinner, we headed there for a quick bite.

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Look at the table!

As I was laying everything on the table, a kid from the next table saw that we had also bought the same cookie she had moments ago. She turned around, looked at me dead in the eye and said “It tasted like medicine.” Xander nodded enthusiastically and I was slightly embarrassed. Her mother also chipped in and said “Kids can’t lie.” Oh boy…

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Clockwise from top to bottom: 3 Hole Cookie (Xan calls it the Traffic Light cookie), Almond Finger, Apple Aloe Slice Cake, Strawberry Butter Cream Cupcake and Bread and Butter Pudding.

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I’m no food expert but I will tell you how I feel about our experience at the cafe. The kids were right, I wasn’t a fan of the cookie. I did however enjoy the cakes. They weren’t exactly the old school type I was hoping for but they didn’t taste too bad.

When we were there, it was quite busy and the air-condition wasn’t very strong. I was sweatin’ buckets while drinking my teh peng (iced milk tea). Yvie wasn’t too happy either so she was fussing quite a bit until The Husband had to bring her out for a wee walk until she fell asleep. Pampered lah my kids. We always have the air-con turned on full blast at home. 😛

Never mind them. I enjoyed myself nevertheless and will go back again to try the other stuff during their off peak hours.

Oh yes! These posters were the ones I was referring to in my earlier post that inspired my new blog look. I forgot to take a shot of it myself lah.

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There is always time for a brother sister photo.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe
56 Kandahar Street
6298 1318
S198904 
Tue-Thurs 930am-830pm
Fri-Sun 930am-930pm
Closed on Monday

FOX Little Fashionista Styling Workshop

Earlier this month, we received an invitation to attend the FOX Little Fashionista Styling Workshop with fashion stylist Evon Chng. I was super excited and told The Husband “Let’s do this! Sounds fun!” You might be asking “Kids need styling meh? Chin chye wear something comfortable and easy can already mah.” True but why not wear something comfortable, easy AND stylish at the same time? I’ve been a fan of FOX for a long time so I know the clothes not only look cute but also super comfortable. I used to buy a lot of FOX tees and pants for Xander when he was a lot younger and he would wear them almost everyday. Besides, it won’t hurt to pick up a tip or two from a professional stylist.

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Evon sharing some fashion tips.

Evon and her team had already set aside some outfits for both Xander and Yvie (as well as for the other kiddie participants) beforehand. She had selected some really cute pieces from FOX’s latest Fall Collection and showed us how to mix and match them to create different looks. Psst! I tell you a secret! I am lousy at mixing and matching. My solution for the kids’ style is very simple: must have prints and no ironing required. Why MUST have prints? If the kids get themselves into a mess, it won’t look too obvious mah. Ya lah. Lazy style lah. But you must admit its true. There is nothing more irritating than a milo stain on a nice plain yellow tee. Can’t bleach it, can’t hide it, can’t stand it. I’m a bit OCD that way. Sorry I digress. Back to my fashionable chewren.

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Here are the kids all styled up. Not bad huh?

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So what did we learned at the end of the session?

1. There is more to life than MONOCHROME.

Sometimes it is good to mix it up with 2 to 3 colours at the same time. Not too many colours ok? You want to turn heads not rolled eyes.

2. Pile up in LAYERS.

Evon taught us that similar to adult fashion, with kids’ fashion we can not only mix and match colours, we can also try layering different textures together. Xan wore a plain white long sleeved tee under a bold orange, short sleeve tee and the classic berms.

As for Yvie, Evon matched her nautical inspired tee with a pair of grey leggings and layered that with a pair of denim skorts. She later added the Minnie Mouse sweater from the Fall collection to create yet another look. So cute can?

3. SIZING it up

When your clothes don’t fit well, you won’t look good. Kids grow really fast and parents tend to buy clothes 2 sizes bigger so that they will last longer. I get that. But when your kid is swimming in his outfit he will end up looking really sloppy. Simple logic. Get the right size and your kid will look a heck lot better.

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Xan and his skateboard.
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Yvie with her gummy smile.

Do check out Fox Fashion (Singapore)‘s Facebook page for regular updates, promotions, fashion and parenting tips.

Disclaimer: We received these 2 sets of outfits for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.

Feeling very blessed

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The kids enjoying a special moment.

Yes I’m feeling a little maternal in the middle of the night so I’m sharing 2 videos of the kids here with you.

I need to count my blessings to have these 2 little rascals in my life. They drive my blood pressure up, run my patience low but most of the time they bring us so much joy we have never thought possible. The way a child’s face lights up when they see you is enough to make any parent forget about whatever was troubling them that day. You feel on top of the world because of that one bright smile. Correct or not, Parents?

The video above was taken by The Husband’s niece on the day Yvie was born. He was sooo gentle with her I almost cried with pride.

Xander has been a really good big brother to little Yvie so far. Even though he is petrified of her supersonic screams and unbelievably pungent poopy diapers, he understands she is just doing what all babies do. He rarely complains about her, sometimes even tries to soothe the screaming banshee when Mummy and Daddy’s hands are full. You know, the little boy makes it a point to plant at least 1 kiss on his sister every morning before he leaves for school, 1 when he sees her after school and 1 before he goes to bed. He loves his little sister and I pray they will continue to love each other long after we kick the bucket.

This is KorKor entertaining the little one right before bedtime.

For the parents with more than 1 child, do your kids get along? I know mine are still in the “honeymoon” period so I am enjoying this while it lasts. With lots of pictures and videos of course!