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June 2013

Everyday fun! Going Out! Homelearning fun Learning fun!

Oh, what a month!

June 30, 2013

Ah, June! The month we threw routine out of the window and embraced spontaneity!

We checked out EatPlayLove Café, had a crazy time crafting (more like playing with glue) and making a huge mess…

EatPlayLove Craft Cafe 2

We took the MRT to Lavender and Bus 107 from the bus-stop along ICA for 2 stops. EatPlayLove Cafe is at 28 Aliwal Street, #01-07 Aliwal Arts Centre, Singapore 199918.

EatPlayLove Craft Cafe 3

Blast from the past at EatPlayLove! All the candies and snacks I used to love as a kid!

EatPlayLove Craft Cafe 1

Craft materials were aplenty at the crafting corner: Ben, Becks and Nat got busy with cutting, glueing, threading pasta shells and colouring!

Went to the zoo to say hello to Inuka and spent some time drawing at his new Frozen Tundra enclosure…

Inuka, the first polar bear to be born in the tropics at the Singapore Zoo

Inuka, the first polar bear to be born in the tropics at the Singapore Zoo – oh, how we ♥ this beautiful boy!

Had a happy time at Happy Willow

Getting our indoor playgym fix!

Getting our indoor playgym fix!

Met Barney & Friends

We said hi to Barney, BJ and Baby Bop at City Square Mall

We said hi to Barney, BJ and Baby Bop at City Square Mall

Tried out FoodArt at Nutriville

FoodArt at Nutriville

Nutriville is a social entreprise that is focused on helping the aged in our community. They’ve just started their FoodArt programme for the young which encourages inter-generational bonding, and we were invited to a hands-on session at their pre-opening. More on that on the blog soon!

 Becks also attended her first Chinese Language enrichment at Chengzhu Mandarin Centre (review coming up in July) and finally started speaking some Mandarin.

Becks was invited to the holiday programme at Chengzhu Mandarin Centre from 10 - 14 June

Becks was invited to the holiday programme at Chengzhu Mandarin Centre from 10 – 14 June

We also stayed at the biggest deluxe room we’ve ever seen that gave us the most awesome view of our city skyline…

Staycation at Marina Bay Sands

Staycation at Marina Bay Sands

And checked out the world’s first green library for kids at the National Library

My Tree House at the Central National Library

My Tree House at the Central National Library

We had to stay indoors for a week because of the haze and watched so many episodes of Word World till we lost count, read (and read some more!), played with jigsaw puzzles and coloured on giant colouring sheets…

Reading, playing with jigsaws and colouring

Reading, playing with jigsaws and colouring on giant colouring pages
(Why the giant ones? According to Mama, they can occupy us longer!)

Played with our toys and games like Honey Bees Hive and Snort!

Vroom vroom vroom!

Vroom vroom vroom!

Stuck indoors, but still having fun playing games!

Stuck indoors, but still having fun playing games!

Helped Mama clean the house when we got bored

Little helping hands: much needed when the haze hit to keep house clean

Little helping hands: much needed when the haze hit to keep house clean

And geared up to look this cool when PSI hit 321 to go to the supermarket!

Looking cool this haze season!

Looking cool this haze season!

Now that the skies are clear again, and the month of July is approaching, we’re back to more homelearning and more fun times ahead outdoors. June has been good to us, but July’s gonna be so much better, with ballet and swimming lessons coming up, and a colourful birthday party for a special someone turning three!

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Perfectly diapered by Drypers

June 27, 2013

I know exactly what I want in a diaper and what a diaper at each stage of my baby’s growth must do. As a mother who’s birthed three children in four years and changed at least 9657 diapers for all three kids put together (and still counting), I think I qualify somewhat as a diaper expert here.

Here is my very own list of what I think the perfect diaper must possess.

The multitasking diaper

If you asked me if I’ve found the diaper of all diapers that has all of the above 10 qualities, I have.

Before that, I’ve tried diaper brands of almost every kind in the market and requested for samples at every opportunity. In my first stint as a newbie mother, I was perpetually in search of the perfect diaper that would meet the diapering needs of my baby as he grew. When Ben did the explosive poop on me and the diaper leaked, I switched brands in the hope of finding something that’s leak-proof from poop bombs. When he started getting nappy rash, I started searching for something that could keep his skin dry and moisturised at the same time. When my baby started to flip and crawl around like Speedy Gonzales on the loose, I was on the hunt again for comfortable yet absorbent pull-ups. When he finally slept through the night, I needed diapers that could last him through at least 10 hours and not have him waddle in a pool of pee.

The search didn’t stop even when I thought I’ve found a good brand to stick with. I discovered what worked for Ben might not work for Becks, and what works for the either of them might not work for Nat. We’re talking particularly about the way each child’s skin takes to the material of the diaper and the cutting and sizing fit for the shape of his or her bum here. With every new addition to the family, the search for “the one” for each child begins all over again.

Ever since Drypers launched a new and improved Drypers Wee Wee DRY and Drypers DryPantz, the search is officially over. Both the Wee Wee DRY and DryPantz are the variants of the multi-tasking disposable diaper, fully capable of delivering #1 to #9, and also #10, with its value for money in each pack, on my list.

As of now, Ben is fully toilet-trained in the day, so he doesn’t require diapers at all. Becks is toilet-trained (finally). After more misses than hits, we’ve finally gotten off to a good start this year. I still make her wear her Drypers DryPantz when she goes out, simply because I hate having to bring her to public toilets. Even I hold pee in as much as I can when we’re out. I like it that the Drypers DryPantz can hold a lot of her pee and I usually don’t have to change it for many hours.

It also fits her snugly and doesn’t leave ugly elastic band marks on her waist. Best of all, she moves with ease in her Drypers DryPantz. Her fitting pull-ups have never given way even when she rolled and tumbled during gym classes or played wildly at playgrounds.

It comes with a cute kangaroo design too, which is always a welcoming thing to look at when you have to diaper a child. Unlike other brands which says plainly “front” and “back” to indicate how to wear the pull-up (and which requires a child to be able to read), the DryPantz does a no-brainer with this, so Becks can easily put this on on her own:

Drypers DryPantz

As for Nat, well, he is just happy to be naked.

Butt Naked Nat

I’m kidding. He wears whatever’s available to him most of the the time. Because the Drypers DryPantz costs a little more than the Drypers Wee Wee DRY, his pull-ups are usually reserved for going out.

Nat in Wee Wee Dry

At night, all three kids wear their disposable diapers to bed. My toilet-training philosophy for the night is simple: Show me the first dry diaper in the morning, and we will begin. Until then, diapers please! It used to be that we were set on a particular brand to be used as night diapers because the whole world said it was the best in the market that keeps baby dry through the night.

Until we put the new improved Drypers Wee Wee DRY to the test.

Drypers Wee Wee Dry

Along the way, we’ve had a few incidents, and I initially thought that Drypers Wee Wee DRY Zip Dry Core™’s claim to absorb and lock urine doesn’t hold water (couldn’t resist the pun here). I was on the verge of switching back to everybody-says-it’s-best-for-night brand, when I realised that the wet beds usually happen when the kids had a little more milk or water than the usual the night before. So now, I just make all of them empty their bladder after their milk feed before diapering them, and I’m happy to say, Drypers Wee Wee DRY hasn’t failed us one bit as our night diaper.

Colour coded Wee Wee Dry

So yay, I’m breathing easy now that I’ve found what I want in a diaper for ALL three kids. I’m glad Drypers made all the improvements to their diapers cos’ thanks to that, I don’t have to keep switching brands to try and asking for samples everywhere I go. Got better things to do, you know. Like watching my babies walk around in cute diapered bums.

Disclosure: We’ve been regular users of Drypers since June 2012. Becks and Nat received four packs of Drypers DryPantz and four packs of Drypers Wee Wee DRY respectively for the purpose of this review, and Motherkao was compensated to put these diapers on for them. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

This is the first in a series of sponsored conversations on behalf of Drypers Singapore. 

Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up Nat Kao

Letter to my littlest #6

June 26, 2013

To my dearest Nat,

It was worth the wait, baby love. You finally uttered the sweetest sound I’ll ever hear in my entire existence. Totally worth waiting for, after 16 months.

‘Mmmm-maa-maa’, you now say when you see me, and when you’re looking for me. It’s music to my ears.

I make you say this to me every day. Close to 10 times in any given day. I love the way you drag the ‘Mmm’ and say ‘Mmmm-maa-maa’.

Nat at 16 months

At 16 months, you’re the most responsive toddler we’ve ever had. I don’t remember Ben and Becks being like that. Perhaps it’s because you watch kor kor and jie jie every day and imitate their every move. You can jump lifting both legs off the floor (and that’s really fast). You can crash onto the mat from the sofa’s height, and then tumble and roll (that’s really the craziest daredevil stunt you can pull on us). You can indicate where you’re hurting when you fall, “say” sorry and express remorse, and even tell us what you want to eat and what you don’t want to, with the sounds you make. You shake and nod and babble non stop in gibberish we do not understand. It makes you soooo funny.

You’re the resident clown and comedian, and the king of total randomness. I’ll be reading to all three of you and you would walk away suddenly only to return with a basket over your head. You’ll gladly carry Becks’ bags, wrap yourself in a towel and take off your clothes. Yes, all for no reason. You take the cane and bombombom me like a gun because you saw your brother do it with his huge paper roll. You smile for the camera by tilting your head to one side just because I say ‘cheese’ this way. When I tell you I love you, you frantically blink your eyes (Eye love you, geddit?) and wait for my laughter and nonstop smothering of kisses with anticipation.

Nat at 16 months with Becks' bag

You love to make us laugh. You love to make me laugh.

And the more I laugh, the more I fall in love with you.

Nat at 16 months_Coy

Loving you so much,

Mama

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Lynn’s Money Adventures [Book review + Giveaway]

June 25, 2013

If you have kids between 7 and 14 years of age, you can teach them about financial literacy and how to manage their money with this book that’s new in stores:

Book-3D-FINAL3-242x300

Written by Kelvin Ho, a local author and educator for 10 years, Lynn’s Money Adventures is a guide for tweens and pre-adolescents to help them take charge of their financial future by learning how to manage money in a smart and practical way. This book follows Lynn and her sisters as they explore issues of money and how to manage it. Lynn learns about her own money attitude, how to allocate her allowance wisely so she can buy an iPod Touch, how to be cured of the “common money disease” and what’s the difference between her needs and wants.

At the end of each chapter, there are  tips and activities called Money Workout so your child can relate to the story and develop essential lifeskills to make, spend and save his own money.

The book also comes with online Parents’ Notes which parents can use to explore and further simplify big money concepts for their kids. Kelvin believes that when it comes to teaching financial literacy, the parents’ role of modeling is extremely important. If parents and caregivers are able to inculcate, encourage and reinforce positive mindsets and values about money, they will be equipping their children to make good, informed decisions about their finances.

The book is easy to follow and thoughtfully written for the local context, and is a good way to introduce money sense to the young who are already exposed to and aware of the concept of money, especially if they have their own allowance to manage. A lot of financial literacy books are not pitched at this level and are not contextualised for the Singapore reader, so Kelvin does a good job introducing good money habits and the right money mindset to his target audience.

Lynn’s Money Adventures is available at Popular bookstores and retails at S$15. Visit Kids’ Money Adventures to read a sample chapter, or check out the very informative and educational resources available on the website. (The last I checked, I learned about the history of credit cards and watched a cartoon MTV telling me where money comes from. Economics 101 for me!)

*Giveaway*: I have 3 sets of Lynn’s Money Adventures to give away to 3 readers! Simply leave a comment here with your name and email address by 1 July if you wish to receive a complimentary copy. We’ll be picking 3 winners at random on 2 July.

**UPDATE**: And… EVERYONE’S A WINNER IN THIS GIVEAWAY! Kelvin has kindly agreed to sponsor ALL 17 copies of his book to all of you who commented! Thank you for participating and hope this book would help guide your kids along as they learn how to manage money!

Disclosure: I received the book from Kelvin Ho and interviewed him for the purpose of this review. All opinions are Motherkao’s own.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Family life as we know it The darndest kid quotes and antics Thunderstorm days

Out of the mouths of babes

June 25, 2013

The prayers that were said during the haze crisis, by Ben and Becks:

18 June: The haze descended and PSI hit 155. We rushed out to buy one of the last 6 units of air cleaners at Courts Tampines before confining ourselves at home.

“Dear Heavenly Father, make the haze go away. We want to go out and have fun.”

19 June: PSI soared from 190 to 290 in less than an hour, and all of us watching TV thought we read a typo.  Who would have known that this was the beginning of bonker-dom indoors? The scramble for the N95 masks begins.

“Dear Lord Jesus, it’s very hazy outside our window and we have to close the windows now. We pray the haze will go away. Amen.”

Haze

20 June: PSI went way past the hazardous level to 371. Smoke got in our eyes.

“Dear Lord, send a GIANT pour of rain to wash away all this haze here and the fires in Indonesia. We want to go out and play!”

21 June: PSI hit 400 and we never knew it could be soooo bad. Choking on smog already. *Cough cough*

“Dear Heavenly Father, if You can’t send rain, can you send the wind to blow this smokiness and smell away?”

(Ben also asked God if he could kill the bad people in Indonesia. I laughed very hard for a few seconds, then told him I’m glad he’s not God.)

22 June: The skies miraculously cleared. We start to see blue again. Breathing better now too. We headed out for Baskin Robbins and bubble tea.

“Thank you, Jesus, for a beautiful day. You sent a big wind to blow all our haze away! It’s nice we can go out today. Amen.”

23 June: Our skies are clear for two days running, and the worst seems to be over. Indonesia has begun cloud-seeding, we hear. But the PM2.5 concentrations are still high, so we’re not taking our chances.

“Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for a big rain to wash away the haze particles we cannot see. Mama says after a huge rain washes all the little things away, we can go to the zoo or Bird Park or Sentosa. Can you send us a huge rain? “

24 June: Visibility has returned but there sometimes is that lingering burning smell. Or has the stench of smog lodged itself permanently in my nose?

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the wind that is blowing everything away. Do you know there’s no rain so we cannot go to the zoo? There’s only wind, so we go to the library. Thank you, God, for a beautiful day that we can go out, but we still haven’t go zoo, you know?”

– Tonight’s prayer by Becks, who clearly prefers the zoo to the library

The National Environment Agency said the improved air quality is due to a change in wind direction over Singapore, from south-westerly to southerly since Saturday night.

I say our good God hears our prayers and answers them.

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Fun at Happy Willow

June 22, 2013

The kids are big fans of indoor playgyms although I’ve always insisted that they do more outdoor than indoor play, because a bit of sun is always good for them (and also because it’s free and bringing 3 to an indoor playground costs a bomb). But with the haze shrouding our skies, we’ve deserted all parks, promenades and playgrounds and have taken to hiding indoors.

Earlier this month, we were invited to Happy Willow at Fusionpolis to check out their playgym.  Needless to say, the kids were excited and didn’t even mind being dragged out of bed at 8 in the morning to travel from northeast where we lived, all the way to the west. We took the circle line from Bishan to one-north, and arrived at the playgym all ready to play by 10 in the morning.

The experience

When we arrived there, Ben was a little disappointed. He’s always loved exploring huge spaces and his favourite has got to be the new Kidz Amaze at Safra Toa Payoh. The size of the play structure at Happy Willow didn’t wow him much, but I didn’t mind it being small actually. Although it wasn’t jaw-dropping, the place felt cosy and welcoming enough for the kids to plunge right into play. Without the need for adult company (yay!).

Happy Willow 1

Off they went to explore!

The kids checked out the entire place all by themselves and didn’t bug me to climb up and down the play structure with them, and I could happily plonk myself onto one of those couches outside the Kids’ Den that were bidding me invitingly to come rest thy exhausted self. Nat also fell asleep when we arrived, so I was just glad to be sitting around, watching the kids play, and catching up with other mom bloggers who were also there that day.

Happy Willow 2

Comfortable sofas and chairs for the adults to chill

The playgym also has a small toddler’s turf which had some stacking blocks, a small ball pit and those big semi-circle cushions. Not much to engage the littler ones, I must say. When Nat awoke, he spent a few minutes there and was bored quite quickly. He preferred the bigger ball pool with the slide at the kids’ play area, and wanted to spend time playing with Ben and Becks there.

At the bigger (better) ball pool

At the bigger (and better) ball pool

When Ben and Becks were done with the playgym, they zipped over to the pretend-play area where they did some cooking, gardening and mega-bloking. And when they were done with that, they hopped to the reading corner which had a nice tuft of artificial grass and interesting collection of children’s books. After reading (or rather, trying to read) some books there, they explored the art materials at the tables in the reading room, and spent some time playing with stencils and colouring away.

Becks playing with Mega Bloks, gardening and colouring

Becks playing with Mega Bloks, gardening and colouring

The reading corner: there was even a storytelling session that day we were there!

The reading corner: there was even a storytelling session that day we were there!

And after they were done with all these, they went back to the playgym again for another round of fun.

What we liked

I liked that Happy Willow is a play area with activity “booths” of sorts to keep the kids constantly entertained despite its size. The kids were always up to something new – Let’s go colour now! Let’s go ride the rocking bull! Let’s play supermarket! Let’s make pizza! Let’s go back to the slide again! Let’s go colour one more picture! – and it was difficult to call it a day. We stayed there the entire morning, and even had our takeaway lunch (from Pastamania upstairs) there. The folks from Happy Willow were too kind – they took our orders, collected our packed lunch and allowed us to eat in so the kids could continue playing (my kids were zipping in and out of the playgym after every mouthful of pasta).

We finally left when the little one was too cranky to be playing at 3 in the afternoon. All in all, it was a fun day out worth getting up early for!

More details:
  • Happy Willow is located at 1 Fusionopolis Way, Fusionopolis, Connexis Tower, #B1-06, Singapore 138632
  • Admission fees: $18 per child (2 years old & above) and $10 per child (9 months – less than 2 years old) for Weekdays 3-hour play; $18 per child (2 years old & above) and $10 per child (9 months – less than 2 years old) for Weekends (Sat, Sun & PH) 2-hour play
  • Like Happy Willow’s FB page to stay updated on their storytelling and craft sessions and promotions

Disclosure: The Kao kids and I were invited by Happy Willow to have some indoor fun this holidays for the purpose of this review. All opinions here are my own.

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Cloudy with a chance of smog balls

June 21, 2013

I’m glad we did our staycation at Marina Bay Sands on Father’s Day before everything in our polluted air hit the hazardous level.

Last Sunday which was Father’s Day, the skies were somewhat clear, and the view of the Marina skyline was still unmarred by the haze from our super huge deluxe room and the infinity pool. Which had an awesomely breathtaking view.

MBS_View from the infinity pool

We finally jumped into the infinity pool, and on the 57th floor, we waddled, laughed and played. We swam and we swam – after lunch when we checked in, after dinner in the cool of the night, and after breakfast before checking out. When we left the pool that Monday morning, the smog was beginning to shroud the skies and the burning smell was starting to intensify. Any later than Monday and we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy our staycation at all!

MBS_Infinity pool 1

MBS_Infinity pool 2

MBS_Infinity pool 5

MBS_Infinity pool 3

MBS_Infinity pool 4

I’m really thankful that we had a good time last week. Now can we please have our blue skies back. It’s just not right to be spending our June holidays this way.

P/S: Our MBS staycation was complimentary when we bought an expresso machine from Philips Saeco. We were not compensated in any way, and this is not a review.

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Rockin’ the kitchen with the all new Philips Jamie Oliver Food Processor

June 20, 2013

I’m a big fan girl of the Naked Chef, and I’ve been one happy girl these days spending time in the kitchen with him.

Mr Jamie O in da'house!

Mr Jamie O in da’house!

Well, ok, not exactly him, but close enough.

Philips JO Food Processor

The all new Philips Jamie Oliver Food Processor

Ever since the Philips Jamie Oliver Food Processor came into my life, it’s found a permanent spot in the kitchen and in my heart. I can’t even start describing how awed I am by this cool kitchen tool. It is truly, in the words of Mark Bittman, a “virtuoso one man band”.

Since it came, it has allowed me to finally chop onions without tearing, dice shallots and garlic like a pro, shred potatoes finely to make rosti, mince pork, shrimps and water chestnuts to make ngoh hiang, juice oranges without my arm muscles getting knotted up, serve homemade sorbet and cake pops for dessert (much to my kids’ delight) and transform egg whites into meringues in seconds.

(clockwise) Diced onions and water chestnut for pork rolls, frozen banana ice cream, balloon beaten eggwhites for meringue, thinly stripped potatoes for rosti, and minced beef and shallots for meatballs

(clockwise) Diced onions and water chestnut for pork rolls, frozen banana ice cream, balloon beaten eggwhites for meringue, thinly stripped potatoes for rosti, and minced beef and shallots for meatballs

Specially designed by the man himself and developed by Philips, the new range of Jamie Oliver electric kitchen tools ranging from the food processor to the hand blender is meant to be easy to use so food preparation becomes effortless, and to be shown off – yes, you heard that right, shown off! – with its pretty splash of cornflower blue.

When I first got the huge box, I must admit I was a little overwhelmed unpacking the various individual accessories that came with the 3.4L food processor. I’m someone who is easily plagued by the disease called gadget-phobia, but I’m here to tell you this dude is really easy to figure out, easy to clean, and delivers in every aspect. So take my word for it if I say it’s really, really idiot-proof. If I can do it, anyone can too.

Philips JO Food Processor Parts

Looks daunting but it’s really easy to assemble and figure out!

And the best thing is, the kids are now welcome in the kitchen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chased Ben and Becks out when I’m trying to whip up a meal, but these days, I’m roping them to help pulse and throw ingredients in because this food processor is safe even for my little ones to use. Talk about being designed for busy parents!

Ben and Becks helping me shred potatoes and make strawberry & blueberry sorbet

Ben and Becks helping me shred potatoes and make strawberry & blueberry sorbet

Just how safe is it? For one, the Philips Jamie Oliver food processor has a sturdy base with four very powerful yet easy-to-release suction feet to help keep the tool fixed on the table top.

Very strong suction from these feet, I say!

Very strong suction from these feet, I say!

In addition to that, it also has a safety function that locks the lid in place before it can be turned on to pulse. I found that out when I couldn’t turn it on a couple of times, and realised that it was because I hadn’t secured the cover properly. Same thing happened when I first used the citrus juicer. For a while, I thought my machine went wonky!

Safety lock feature: I'm pretty sure they were designed with busy parents who would rope in their kids for food prep in mind!

Safety lock feature: I’m pretty sure they were designed with busy parents (who would rope in their kids for food prep) in mind!

I also like the fact that it only has two pulse speeds (just 1, and 2!) and that just simplifies everything and keeps the kids out of mischief. Imagine one that has speeds from 1 to 10. I can so imagine my kids trying out every single speed on the dial just to see what it’s like to pulse their Oreos or juice their oranges. I wouldn’t be sending them too near such a machine, that’s for sure!

Juicing their own orange, and having fun!

Juicing oranges, and having fun!

With this new tool in the house, and extra pairs of hands to help, it’s been a breeze churning out tasty treats. Ben and Becks are always asking, “What are we going to have today with the white monster-machine?“, and I find myself looking forward to rummaging the fridge and larder to throw random things in to make snacks and treats of every kind. This is a monster-machine, alright. With it, we could really make almost anything we want – from scratch with little fuss! And we’re having so much fun while at it.

The Philips Jamie Oliver Food Processor impresses with its effectiveness, simplicity and affordability. If this is as close to Jamie O as I can get, this fan girl’s definitely not complaining!

Keep life simple with the PHILIPS | Jamie Oliver range which includes a food processor (S$268), handblender (S$128) and blender (S$108). Available at leading electronics and departmental stores.

Disclosure: I received this dude for the purpose of writing this review. This post is the first in a series of sponsored conversations on behalf of Philips Singapore. All opinions are my own.

P/S: I say it’s safe but I never let my children go unsupervised in the kitchen. Just so you know. Please do the same!

Family life as we know it

Keeping well in this haze

June 19, 2013

We didn’t think we ever needed an air purifier. We have a humidifier that keeps us quite happy in air conditioning, the reed diffuser when the house smells bad (especially after deep frying fish), and the Delphin vacuum cleaner that keeps our house and bedding sufficiently dust free. We didn’t feel we needed to purchase one even when the realty folks decided to construct an EC next to us and construction dust was everywhere, or when the incense and joss papers burned for nights and days every seventh month, turning our estate into a smoky set for a horror flick.

We didn’t think we ever needed an air purifier, until now. This haze has made us think twice and acted almost immediately when the PSI hit 190 today. This week alone, we cancelled plans to visit Sentosa for the PLAYful Moments with Play Mobil and shelved our excursion to the Bird Park and the zoo. No way are we gonna risk three kids being outdoors in this lethal smokiness, (no) thanks to the smog from the fires from Sumatra blown here by the southwest monsoon wind.

I learned a lot just by googling “air purifiers” and talking to salesmen the last two days, and here is something I’ve compiled for the uninitiated, just in case you’re also gonna hit the stores to get one soon. Many models are out of stock, and the only ones left in the stores are higher end models with prices starting from $899. Major departmental stores have their stock come in over the weekends, but the sales folks say the air purifiers are literally grabbed from the shelves and sell out quicker than you can say “Purify my air, please”.

Here are some terms you need to know before getting an air cleaner / air purifier this haze season:
1. HEPA filter
HEPA filters are made up of randomly arranged fibres and are effective at trapping allergens and particles as small as 0.3 microns. They usually come with a rating (99-99.99%) known as the filter unit capacity  and need to be replaced once every 3 to 5 years. In short, the HEPA filter is the Venus flytrap in your machine.
2. Carbon filter
This is effective in clearing smoke, odours, chemicals and even gas from air. Activated carbon filters have tiny absorbent pores that chemically react to pollutants as they pass through the filter. This reaction causes the pollutants to bond with the carbon and become trapped. However, carbon air purifiers do not trap allergens and bacteria.
3. Ozone air filter
This filter is good for clearing odours but it does not clear allergens or chemical pollutants from the air. However, large amounts of ozone gas can potentially cause harmful health consequences when inhaled.
4. Ioniser
Ionic filters do not work on odours but are able to remove very small pollutants from large spaces. Ionic air purifiers work by giving particles in the air a negative or positive electrical charge, and then draw the particles to plates within the air purifier. Like the ozone air filter, ionic filters are controversial as well because one of the byproduct of the electrical charge is ozone gas.
5. Ultraviolet light filters
UV light filters destroy bacterial micro-organisms, but are not effective against allergens, odours, smoke or chemical fumes. Simply put, germs, viruses and bacteria are killed when they come in contact with UV light.

Some factors to consider buying an air cleaner / air purifier:

1. How much air purification coverage does the unit provide? Are you buying a unit to cover air purification for a room or the larger part of the house? Buy a unit that can cover an area larger than what you need.

2. What are the filter types and how often do you need to replace the individual filters? How much do the replacements cost? Be sure that replacement parts are readily obtainable and within budget.

3. What are the functions and capabilities that you need? What are the functions – does it only purify air, or can it sanitise and sterilise air, and discharge ions as well? Knowing the functions of what your unit provides is essential so you match its capabilities with what you need.

4. Is the unit noisy? A mechanical fan type air cleaner can be noisier than an electronic one. Needless to say, the higher the fan speed the more noise you’ll get.

On top of getting ourselves a unit today (which we are quite happy with considering our budget and many models being out of stock), we also do the following to keep well in this haze:

  • Taking Propolis (a natural remedy with antimicrobial properties used for strengthening the immune system)  and Chuan Bei Pi Pa Gao (a herbal syrup for chronic cough, wind heat or accumulation of heat in the lungs)
  • Popping one multivitamin a day
  • Nebulising with saline every night before bed to flush our sinuses clean

For now, I guess it’s time to turn on our Xbox Kinect since going outdoors would have to wait till the skies clear and our PSI return to acceptable levels again.

Nebulised Ben

Mama says this haze is so bad I gotta take in deep breaths of saline mist every night!

What? PSI is now 290 after my Mama published this post?

What? PSI is now 290 after my Mama published this post? And it’s 321 at 10pm today?!

 

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Pampering sensitive skin with Comfort Ultra Pure

June 18, 2013

My skin erupts into itchy bumps whenever I sit on old upholstery or wear clothes with hardened fibres. Random parts of my body break out into red, hive-like patches and I start clawing myself silly till I am all bones.

Because of my sensitive skin, I am very particular about what I use to wash my clothes, blankets and bed sheets. I hate washing detergent that leaves me with a scratchy, harsh feeling, and softeners that have overpowering scents. In this heat where we live, the last thing you want to be feeling is itchy, uncomfortable, and smelling like a public toilet that’s just been washed with strong chemicals.

Plus, full-time motherhood is already tough as it is. There’s no way I’m going to be spending every day deprived of the luxury of sweet-smelling, soft clothes to wear, and enjoying the cool feeling of my clothes caressing my skin. Which is why I insist that all my clothes must be laundered with a gentle detergent and fabric softener.

Yes, it really doesn’t take much, or cost much, to pamper a labouring mother like me.

When I was introduced to the new Comfort Ultra Pure Fabric Conditioner, I was sold. I dare say, after trying a couple of softeners in the market, this is the best brand I’ve used by far, simply for three reasons.

1. It smells fresh and light.

My main complaint with softeners is that the smell can sometimes be so overpowering that when the clothes are laundered and hung on bamboo poles, the scent just permeates through the entire house, which can be pretty nauseating after a while. Comfort Ultra Pure has a fragrance so light and so fresh, it makes you want to inhale the mild scent that’s filling the house whenever there’s fresh laundry and take in the smell of lingering freshness on your clothes, again and again.

Nice smelling clothes

2. It cares for sensitive and delicate skin.

Comfort Ultra Pure is the first fabric conditioner in the market specially formulated for people with sensitive skin like mine. It can also be used for delicate skin, and the first ever to be dermatologically tested safe even for the delicate skin of a baby’s! That’s just great news because now my kids’ and baby’s clothes can all be laundered together with mine, with this softener. And we can now say goodbye to hardened fibres for good.

3. It makes me feel I am wrapped in pure love.
Adding Comfort Ultra Pure to our washing load makes me feel like I’m all wrapped in a gentle softness. No more scratchy scratchy. What lingers throughout the day is the cool caress of my clothes against my skin, and the feeling of comfort through and through. As a stay-home mom working so hard, I so deserve to be wrapped in pure love this way.

Comfort Ultra Pure for freshness and comfort

Comfort Ultra Pure’s mild formulation delivers amazing softness and total comfort all day long. It protects my sensitive skin, and my three babies’ delicate skin too, and it’s all simply accomplished through a few drops of heavenly goodness!

How about getting some pampering done for yourself and the kids today?

Comfort Ultra Pure is available in 2 sizes (800ml & 1.8L) at all major supermarkets.
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Disclosure: The kids and I were sponsored to smell fresh and feel cool with Comfort Ultra Pure. All opinions are Motherkao’s own.