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Spying with my ‘little’ eye – Fatherkao’s review of the D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera + a completely easy to set up guide

July 18, 2017
[Guest post – review by Fatherkao]

I’ve never thought of installing cameras at home. Until I got kids.

Suddenly, I was scrambling around looking for options, exploring the different types of CCTVs, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and similar options at baby shows and IT shows and trying to memorize all the specifications as if they meant something. Truth be told, all those wonderful specifications of different cameras meant nothing because I did not understand a single thing. Who could tell the difference between a centralized IP and a decentralized IP camera system? Say what? I just needed something simple to set up and something that worked so I could check on my kids often.

In the end, I settled for a video baby monitor which gave me a limited range of a room in their early years. Towards their toddler years, a baby monitor was no longer good enough so a friend lent me his IP camera to try out but the setting up was really frustrating. Not to mention the available support for mobile apps was so limited. It was a total nightmare and I eventually gave up.

I was glad when the folks at D-Link sent us a D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera to review so I can see how much things have or have not changed since my last contact with an IP camera.

It changed my mind about IP cameras and I can now declare that technology has evolved!

Cameras are now getting better. The DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has great features which users will appreciate and the best part is its quick and simple set up steps.

It’s also compact, sleek, extremely unobtrusive (not clunky or ugly) and very easy to position anywhere in the house.

The DSC-936L camera features a wide-angle lens which covers a 120° view angle (no panning required!) and the live 720p (1280 × 720) HD video during the day or night is sharp. The camera can be rotated to suit your preferred viewing angle and the video quality is excellent while the built-in microphone captures audio rather well.

I placed it just beside my fish tank to test out the audio and I could hear the faint burbling sounds of water quite clearly. Combined with the good live video quality, it was like those fish aquarium screensavers we used to have on our desktops! However, I do find the night vision mode overly sensitive on auto mode. You will also need to get used to the clicking sound every time it switches mode.

You can take great stills directly with mydlink phone app and store them on your phone or you can connect the camera to your D-Link network-attached storage (NAS) and store the stills and videos there. For me, I’m using both mydlink phone app and NAS.

There is also a MicroSD slot which can house a 128GB card. This means you can have up to 72 hours of continuous recording and much more based on where the camera is located. The camera features both motion and sound detection so you can always be assured of the responsive recording.

You can also adjust the sensitivity level for both motion and sound detection when the camera is set up.

The sound detection sensitivity level can be adjusted based on real-time information from the camera. This makes it very easy for users to adjust the detection level based on the ambient noise in the placed location.

For more technical specifications, you can refer to them here.

The box set comes with the camera, the power adaptor, 2 mounting screws, a Quick Installation guide and a Quick Install card.

The setting up of the camera caught me completely by surprise. It was so easy that I resisted the greatest impulse to run out and buy some more cameras to outfit my entire house. The Quick Install card is a must as it contains all the important information you will need to set up the camera. You will need to register a mydlink account using the mydlink Lite mobile app or on the mydlink website. Once you have successfully registered an account with mydlink, you can set up the camera with the following steps:

  1. Select “Remote” and not “Local”.
  2. Scan the QR code found in the Quick Install card after you click “Add a New Camera”.
  3. The app will locate the camera and a notification that the camera is connected will show at the bottom of the phone.
  4. Select the home wi-fi network for the camera to connect to. (I did not use the WPS function on the router as I was not sure what it would do.)
  5. Key in the camera wi-fi password found in the Quick Install card.
  6. It will then link the camera to your ‘mydlink’ account.

And it’s done.

Configure the camera to your heart’s content.

Fatherkao’s Verdict:

The D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has certainly changed my mind about the ease of setting up an IP camera. The camera is packed with features and style which users would appreciate. And every noob would definitely love the plug and play features; you don’t have to know much technicalities to install one, for sure.

I have found this camera to be very reliable with no disconnectivity or over-heating issues and would definitely trust this little camera to spy on my children.

Disclosure: D-Link sent across this camera for the purpose of the review. All opinions here are our own, and we only share what we think, in utmost honesty!

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Worry-free luxury for a holiday – Review of Original Sprout (again)

July 6, 2017

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When you tell me that a brand believes in an ethical philosophy of promoting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, I am definitely one happy user. I love sustainable brands and products.

And I want my children to love them and make supporting them part of their lifestyle when they start making consumer decisions as they get older.

Which is why while on our UK holiday last month, the kids got to enjoy their baths and the best skincare with Original Sprout. We were acquainted with the brand when the Kao kids were younger (we fell in love with the Miracle Detangler, and have been using it ever since) and now it was only befitting that I would lug the Original Sprout Natural Shampoo, Deep Conditioner, Miracle Detangler, Scrumptious Baby Cream and Hair & Body Babywash all the way to London and Scotland where the weather was colder, the air was drier and worry-free luxury in baths (and post bath, for skincare) was what the entire family could benefit greatly from while away from home.

Enjoying daily bubble baths with the Babywash in the tubs in our AirBnB apartment

Enjoying daily bubble baths with the Babywash in the tub in our AirBnB apartment

Becks using the Miracle Detangler religiously every morning and after every bath

Becks using the Miracle Detangler religiously every morning and after every bath

For effortless combing

For effortless combing

Applying to dry skin - our skin wasn't too used to the harsher water and colder weather, especially when we were in Scotland

Applying to dry skin – our skin wasn’t too used to the harsher water and colder weather, especially when we were in Scotland

I love it that Original Sprout was the brainchild of a mom who loved her daughter so much she had to create a product that could effortlessly detangle her daughter’s hair, and that it’s a brand that believes in utilising ingredients that are free from synthetic hormone disruptor, oestrogen disrupting ingredients, sulphate and parabens.

I have to say if you have a daughter with long hair or thick hair or tough curls, this Detangler (definitely Original Sprout’s bestseller) works instant magic. I never needed to go through another day where I have to hear Becks scream ‘ouch’ whenever I comb her hair, or when she tries to work through the hair on her own, even though she already has pretty fine hair to begin with since this Miracle Detangler came into our lives.

Happy to share that Original Sprout is back, and is now available at Watsons, Guardian, Kiddy Palace, Motherswork and 1010 Mothers & Child Essentials. Alternatively, you can purchase Original Sprout online on at www.originalsprout.com.sg.

Happy to have lugged them all in our luggage last holiday and pampered ourselves with worry-free luxury.

~~~

Disclosure: We are users of Original Sprout since we did a review for the brand when it first launched in SG back in March 2014. Original Sprout sponsored the products we packed in our luggage and all opinions here are our own. Unless we love it, we won’t share it. We’ve loved it since the day we used their products!

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Add surprise to your shopping – Lazada GSS Sale: 3 more days to go!

June 3, 2017

I’ve been a mother for the last 8 years which also means one thing: I’ve been shopping online mostly for the past 8 years too. It’s amazing, the amount of browsing and “screen” shopping I do while tucking the kids in bed.

I’m super thrilled to learn that Lazada Singapore is having one of our biggest sales of the year in June and to celebrate the annual Great Singapore Sale, they’ll be bringing back the “Surprise Boxes” which received overwhelming response during their Birthday Sale earlier in March.

I got my firsthand experience receiving the Lazada x Beautiful Me Mum & Bubs Box lately, and by golly.

It was a surprise, alright; it was a huge one!

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (35) - Copy

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (40) - Copy

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (45) - Copy

Each surprise box consists of a range of exciting products from brands such as Maybelline, Logitech, Laneige, Blackmores, Philips Avent, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Sennheiser and Nature Republic, just to name a few. Each box is customised to who you are and your choice of preferred lifestyle, so to speak – are you a health and beauty junkie? a gaming couch potato? a techie? a parent with young bubs? – and features a specific category of products.

No surprises here, what my choice of category was.

And my little reviewers picked and chose what they like from the nine items we received from the “Surprise Box”.  Love it how they have a mind of their own now, and are helping me to partially reveal what you’ll get in a Lazada x Beautiful Mums & Bub Box.

Aveeno Baby Lightly Scented Natural Oat Extract Wash & Shampoo

So the little girl loves anything that would prettify her. She picked the Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo that’s soap-free, tear-free, paraben-free and allergy-tested. She lathered it on her hair and skin for a gentle wash and came out smelling fresh and fragrant, like any girl who loves a good bath and hair wash would.

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Loved it that a brand like this cares for sensitive skin. First time hearing of Aveeno Baby, though definitely not the last if I can be ordering it from Lazada.

Blackmores Kids Fruity Fishies

Fish oil is something I can never get my kids to eat. They say they hate the aftertaste if they burped.

The packaging with the cute fishy face and the capsules in the bottle looking like cherry tomatoes managed to convince Nat to take it on as its reviewer.

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Well, he was a little apprehensive at first, when I told him something’s gonna burst in his mouth, and had to calm his own nervousness with his fidget spinner (hurhurhur). But as soon as the burstable capsule released some orange-raspberry flavour, he was all smiles and said it was yummy. Yay!

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy development in children but too many kids these days don’t eat enough fish to get sufficient omega-3s from their diet (tell me about it – fish is expensive here ok). One burstable capsule contains 500mg of  concentrated omega-3 triglycerides-fish oil, and is naturally-flavoured and tooth-friendly,

Happy to be giving one to every kid since it’s passed the test of taste with the youngest!

Bioglan Kids Smart Vita Gummies

I make the kids eat elderberry supplements often but I never knew this was available in the market as a gummy. Black elderberry is an excellent immunity booster and the kids have been taking them in chewable tablet form every time I sense a cough and cold coming.

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This was much loved by everyone – who wouldn’t like chewy gummies that would pack a punch of zinc, vitamin C and elderberry juice?

The kids wouldn’t be saying no, for sure, and they loved it that the Bioglan elderberry gummies were found in the “Surprise Box”.

~~~

With participation from so many awesome brands, there’s bound to be a “Surprise Box” tailored for everyone. We hear that this GSS, there’ll be flash deals every 2 hours and items going for up to 90% off. If you’re a mum with bubs like me, you can go straight for the Mum & Bubs box, and go find out what else awaits you besides what we’ve revealed. I’m sure the health & beauty or gaming or home & living boxes wouldn’t disappoint too in terms of surprises, and you can definitely look forward to shopping with a twist this GSS from 6 – 8 June 2017 for your surprise boxes!

Gonna be upfront here too, to suggest that you use my affiliate link so I can get some good stuff from Lazada too, heh. And if you’d like more discounts, check out with this voucher code*: GSSLIZ18  so you can get more for less!

Happy shopping, this GSS!

~~~

More details:

During the GSS, each Lazada Surprise Box consists of items worth a minimum of $100 and goes for $29 nett. The voucher code GSS LIZ18 is applicable from 6th to 8th June for new customers, 18% off capped at $8 with no minimum spend required.

Disclosure: We’ve been invited onboard the Lazada Affiliate Programme, and received this box courtesy from Lazada Singapore. No monetary compensation was received and all reviews done by the Kao kids are feature our own honest opinions. 

 

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Solution to tracking after-school routines: the 3M Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface [Review]

April 15, 2017

I need a way to keep track.

Of my kids, and what they need to do at home, that is. 

Every day, while I am busy at work, my kids would call me on my mobile (and sometimes they sound so like one another) and ask if they could watch tv / go to the playground / go downstairs to scoot / play catch at the stairwell and I have no way of checking if they have followed the routine I set for them – which includes completing their school work, doing at least 30 minutes of homelearning and packing their room and study area.

And when one says (and sometimes I need to ask: Who am I speaking to? because they sound so alike!) “I’ve done my homework!” and I say, “Ok, you can head to the playground for an hour”, it usually means that ALL THREE of them ascend into the playground madness WHETHER or not ALL THREE of them have actually finished their homework.

And because I am not physically home to ensure the home routine is followed and my helper is usually busy with other more important things like laundry and dinner prep, the Kao kids have found a way to circumvent the after-school routine which I have set by just getting the one that’s done what he/she is supposed to do to call Mama to ask for tv time or play time.

Which also leaves me with a huge headache when I come home because I would check school bags (for Ben and Becks) and find worksheets undone, spelling not learned and revision of tests/quizzes totally not part of their after-school discipline.

I’m trying to get some things automatic here – like checking school bag for homework and completing it before play. It’s a good discipline to have and keeps the school-going ones doing at least the bare minimum for consistent academic work.

All this long-windedness to say one thing: HALLELUJAH for this timely delivery!

My favourite brand sent me this lately and it was in such appropriate timing to solve my present woes. The 3M Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface was a simple yet effective tool to help me keep track of the after-school routine.

This was how we did it:

Find an empty surface for an instant, flexible whiteboard solution - in our case, we have a wall space

Find an empty surface for an instant, flexible whiteboard solution – in our case, we have a wall space

Slowly and gently remove the backing so that the self-stick film can stick onto the wall - Nat (the shortest in the brood) needs to be the gauge for the height limit

Slowly and gently remove the backing so that the self-stick film can stick onto the wall – Nat (the shortest in the brood) needs to be the gauge for the height limit

Smoothen out bubbles with the 3M cloth provided

Smoothen out any bubbles with the 3M cloth provided

Line the borders with tape so that writing does not go beyond

Line the borders with tape so that writing does not go beyond

Remind children where the writing can start and where it must stop

Remind children where the writing can start and where it must stop

Allocate and task-check corner (I used black tape to create a table); and give instructions - every day after school check for (1) school work to be done (2) home learning revision to be done AND then put a smilely face in the box once completed

Allocate a task-check corner (I used black tape to create a table); and give instructions – every day after school check for (1) school work to be done (2) home learning revision to be done AND then put a smilely face in the box once completed

Declare the rest of the surface a doddle and practice corner. Becks immediately practises ting-xie words!

Declare the rest of the surface a doddle and practice corner. Becks immediately practises ting-xie words!

And this was how I solved my tracking problem by making it somewhat self-regulated; every school day there must be accountability for these two areas – school work and homelearning. And all by using a flexible whiteboard on an available wall space in the house.

So far, it’s been proving to be quite effective. Except I must say I am beginning to hate the marker dust bits settling everywhere and the kids have to be nagged all the time to wash their hands after every session  of scribbling on the wall.

Oh well, hopefully someday, someone invents a dust-less marker.

For now, some parts of the wall is also stained with marker stains, which is a little annoying. Although they aren’t writing on the wall, their enthusiasm when erasing things with a duster (think using broad arm strokes) sometimes cause some staining here and there at the edges.

Other than that, I am quite happy that such a sight is found daily in the evenings when the kids are winding down before going to bed:

Playing tic-tac-toe

Playing tic-tac-toe

Doodling and self-expression - notice how each kid has associated his/her favourite things by drawing them under their names

Doodling and self-expression – notice how each kid has associated his/her favourite things by drawing them under their names

…And I am happy to put up with some marker dust and a stained-markered wall in exchange for sibling moments like these.

Hopefully the self-regulated tracking doesn’t lose its momentum too!

~~~

More details:

3M introduces its first flexible whiteboard solution, the Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface, designed to transform ordinary surfaces into instant work and collaborative spaces. Utilising a proprietary dry erase coating, 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. It is light-weight and able to be stuck on painted dry/steel walls, finished wood, glass or existing dry erase/chalk boards. It also features a stain-proof writing surface that provides smooth writability and erasibility, and is less susceptible to scratching.

Utilising the Post-it® Super Sticky adhesive, the Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface does not require tools for installation or wall repair after removal.

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The Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface (60.9cm x 91.4cm) retails at $55.95 (w/ GST) and is available in selected Popular bookstores. The Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface will retail at a special price of $39.90 (w/ GST) at the Popular Book Fest that will be happening from 2-11 Dec at Suntec City.

Disclosure: The Kao kids received this flexible whiteboard last month for the purpose of this review; no monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own. 

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Getting good light wherever – Review of 3M’s LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light

March 11, 2017

Do you have this problem? You get the kids a study table and then they draw and do their work everywhere else EXCEPT at their study table.

And then you go on and custom make a pretty study area with some personalisation here and there for each kid and they continue do their everything – drawing, reading, writing – everywhere EXCEPT there.

And the study area you’ve painstakingly designed and built, with all the good lighting and proper seating, becomes just another place to dump all kinds of things.

True story.

I’ve given up on asking my kids to sit at their desks to do their work. Over the years it has been just too daunting to nag them to go there – sit down – do work. 

So I stopped, and I invited them to consider different parts of the home to do their work or to read a book. It could be at the dining table, on the floor, on the beanbag and even on the master bed, which they love to hang out at.

But I always had one serious problem: lighting.

Whenever they are everywhere, it always feels like they are casting shadows over what they are looking at.

I need a solution and I am so glad to have found it.

Enter 3M’s latest colour-change polarizing lamp, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light.

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It’s everything I need for my kids to make everywhere a work and reading space – it’s cord is long enough to bring from where it’s plugged to where they are and it’s fully adjustable and rotational.

Best of all, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is adaptable enough to function in any space at any time of the day (not just at a desk, but when the kid is on the floor, seated on the sofa, wherever!) and allows you to customize the light colour via a touch control. Offering 5 colour selections – cool white to warm white – users can adjust the colour of the lamp according to the time of day, or their mood levels.

Which means you can switch the colour of the lamp to a ‘Cool White’ in the mornings for increased alertness and change it to a ‘Warm White’ when winding down for the day.

In addition, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also an extremely versatile lighting solution. Using the same touch control, you can perform a myriad of tasks under sufficient light intensity.

More intense or detailed activities such as studying or knitting often require higher lux levels, while activities like watching the television require lower light levels. The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light has 5 levels to choose from, with the highest providing focused illumination at 1000 lux and the lowest providing a softer glow of 200 lux.

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained - all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained – all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on - bright and comfortable enough!

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on – bright and comfortable enough!

To top off it’s versatility, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also fitted with 3M’s Polarizing Filter Technology, which consists of a 3M proprietary optical film to reduce glare by up to 80%. Such rays occur when harmful light bounces off surfaces and creates reflective light (glare), a by-product when light bounces off a glossy surface material which actually is a main cause of strain on the eyes. While most other lamps allow normal light rays comprising both comfortable and harmful light to enter, the 3M polarizing optical film – which is what 3M is really great for! – only filters comfortable light through; at the same time, it converts the harmful rays into optimal lighting which means that only optimal light reaches the eyes.

Which is great for the kids as there is minimal immediate eye strain for them and they can work more productively and safely when the light is used, improving their psychological health as well.

Becks doing her homework at night - it's great that the light cuts out the glare and there's no shadow cast on her paper

Becks doing her homework at night – it’s great that the light cuts out the glare and there’s no shadow cast on her paper

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The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light eliminates multiple shadow with its 3M Air-Guide Technology as well

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids' ears at night too!

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids’ ears at night too!

By providing effective illumination, constant task work is made more comfortable and better in the long run for protecting their eyes.

It’s amazing that 3M constantly upgrades its products to allow users to achieve optimal experience, and taps on its patented technology to enhance the well-being of its users. We’re certainly beneficiaries of good technology, and it’s great that as a mom, I’ve finally found the lighting solution for my kids who love to do their constant work and reading everywhere except their study table.

It’s now ‘Go there – sit down – do work – WITH the Polarizing Light, kids!’ and when that instruction is followed, it really doesn’t matter if they are found at the study table or not.

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~~~

More details: 

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light retails at SGD289 (w GST), and is available in two colors – Pure White and Solid Black, at all Popular bookstores and selected Best Denki and Challenger outlets.

A good investment that goes a long way, in my opinion!

Disclosure: The Kao Kids received the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light from 3M for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are our own. If you’re hard and fast about kids sitting right at a table, this light has a diameter of 16 cm and uses only 7.5W. Make space for it, and it will be a worthwhile investment! 

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Handy helpers with their handy helper – Review of the new Dyson V8 Fluffy

August 12, 2016

Apart from that time when we were maidless in the Kao household, my children have never volunteered themselves to do any form of cleaning.

My helper has been with us for her third year now, and I haven’t had the need to write any more maid woes related posts (phew) because she’s been super amazing. Except that it leaves me with one problem.

She does everything so well and quick that there isn’t any need for my kids to learn to clean up after themselves.

The living room’s messy with 964 Lego bricks in all shapes and sizes scattered everywhere… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

The craft trolley’s in a huge mess and we’ve spilled glue and glitter and cut up lots of teeny weeny bits of yarn… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

We’re shredding paper cos’ it’s so fun and Mama lets us do lots of sensory play with dough and water babies and all the bubble wraps and we’re so tired we can’t clean up… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

But one fine day last month, something changed.

Ok, only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

Ok, so only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

This came into our lives on a fateful day in July and took permanent residence in the Kao household. And now, the default “person” to call isn’t Aunty A anymore, but Fluffy.

And can I say something? Fluffy’s arrival has changed my children. FOR THE BETTER.

You see, this amazing Fluffy has turned my kids into handy helpers overnight and got them suddenly interested in doing housework. These kids, especially Ben, are cleaning floors, picking up dirt after craft and doing a great job keeping our walls and floor spotless. Even the fans are largely dust-free these days, thanks to them and Fluffy.

Unwrapping Fluffy

Unwrapping Fluffy

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Fixing up our handy helper

Mr James Dyson, I already adore you for inventing the bladeless fan that’s been keeping those little curious fingers in my brood safe. Now I love you even more for trying 5127 times getting this V8 out in the market and making little helpful troopers out of my children.

We learned from the box that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

We learned from the box which Fluffy came in that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

You’re a genius.

And here – just for you, I’ve listed 5 reasons why the new Dyson V8 Fluffy is amazing, all thanks to Mr Dyson, freeing my helper’s hands and keeping my children’s hands busy.

Here’s why it’s really great to have one, and why we all love this vacuum cleaner.

1. The new Dyson V8 Fluffly gives a whole new meaning to lightweight.

Fluffy weighs 2.6kg. ONLY. Inside the cord-free Dyson V8 Fluffy, key components like the motor and battery are positioned near the hand. This shifts the centre of gravity, making the cleaning end of the vacuum much lighter, so it’s easy to clean up top and down below.

Which is why even a 4-year-old can pick it up and help with the cleaning.

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

2. It looks like a really cool weapon which Ben uses while pretending to be a super hero = it’s great to be cleaning up while using it for pretend play 

Fluffy has no cord. So there’s nothing to unravel, plug in, drag around and restrict your reach. Equipped with a docking and charging station, you can grab and clean whenever you need to. Much like going to a weapon room and picking up a weapon to exterminate the bad guys to satisfy every boy’s fantasy like Iron Man.

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

That’s what Ben thinks, at least. Dust, hair and eraser shavings are the ‘bad guys’ these days.

Eraser shaving attack!

Eraser shaving attack!

So easy! So fun!

3. Its dirt ejector makes it so easy to handle dirt.

So once upon a time, I was a paranoid mother when my children picked up brooms and vacuums. I’ll worry that dirt would fly into their respiratory systems and make them cough/sneeze/wheeze and give them clogged pores.

Fast forward to today, after welcoming Fluffy.

Fluffy features a new bin emptying mechanism that’s never been seen in any other. As the bin is emptied, a rubber collar slides down the shroud, scraping dirt off. This enables the user to hygienically drive out trapped dust and debris in a single action, with no need to touch the dirt. Additionally, the bin has higher capacity than previous generation machines.

Side profile of Fluffy's dust ejector - you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Side profile of Fluffy’s dust ejector – you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Plus, Fluffy has a whole machine HEPA filtration, which means that it captures and retains more dust using patented 2 Tier Radial™ cyclones. 15 cyclones, arranged across two tiers, generate powerful centrifugal forces to spin dust and dirt out of the airflow. Any remaining particles are captured by the post motor filter – including allergens and bacteria as small as 0.3 microns.

And because the entire system is engineered to be sealed, the air that leaves the machine is cleaner than the air you breathe.

Speak English, you say.

This just means that if you’re near the vacuum cleaner, it is filtering air for you and you are breathing cleaner air than if you were away from the vacuum. Geddit? 

Kids, use Fluffy all you want, anytime, all the time! Mama is paranoid no more about dust!

4. It’s so quiet nobody knows you’re vacuuming (playing with it).

Now, in our household, we’ve been through vacuum cleaners over the years that look like R2D2 on the loose and tell the whole world you are vacuuming the house with the loud, driveyoubatshitcrazy-kind of motor.

What I particularly like about this fella called Fluffy is that it purrs. So UN-loudly.

Which means sometimes, I don’t even realise my son is engaging in his Iron Man fantasies exterminating dirt and dust because it doesn’t tell the world he’s with a vacuum in the house. Or my daughter sneaking Fluffy into the room and pretends to play house with it. Fluffy never gives her away.

Dyson invests heavily in optimising the acoustics of its technologies. Where more power typically translates to more noise, the Dyson V8 makes only a light reverberating sound despite its powerful suction.

That’s the kind of quiet cool I like.

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

5. Versatility, uninterrupted + drop also never mind.

Strong materials with durable and lightweight properties were chosen in the construction of the Dyson V8. The polycarbonate clear bin is made from the same durable material as riot shields.

And have I mentioned that Fluffy is extremely versatile?

Fluffy excels at picking up both large debris and fine dust particles at the same time

Due to their design, many conventional cleaner heads are unable to suck up fine dust and large debris simultaneously. In order to suck up large debris, a large gap is required between the cleaner head and the floor. This gap can allow suction to escape, and fine dust is left behind on the floor surface and in crevices. To remove fine dust from the floor surface and crevices, a cleaner head needs a tight seal with the floor to prevent suction power from leaking. A tight seal means that large debris is pushed along the floor.

Frustrated with the limitations of conventional cleaner heads, Dyson engineers went back to the drawing board to design a new kind of cleaner head that was effective at picking up both fine dust and large debris at the same time. Instead of a brush bar with bristles, the Dyson V8 Fluffy cordless vacuum has a roller covered entirely in soft woven nylon. This traps large debris, whilst four rows of anti-static carbon fibre filaments remove fine dust.

English please, again, you say?

Just means that it’s sturdy and clever and can use to clean practically anything VERY EFFICIENTLY.

Real solid, this fella.

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Now, if I can have my way to influence Mr Dyson’s next invention, or an improved version of Fluffy, may I suggest the following?

I’d like Fluffy to be able to pick up wet things too. Because my children put milk in their cereal and accidents always happen at breakfast, I really hope for once that they can settle their own mess without needing an adult to go on all fours with a cloth.

I’d like Fluffy to go longer than 40 minutes (Fluffy works hard for 40 minutes when fully charged). 40 minutes doesn’t seem enough if you have kids multiply by 3 who love to sharpen their pencils and erase non stop, leaving a trail of shavings from coloured pencils and charcoal erasers AND who like to take turns indulging their own weaponry fantasy while cleaning up.

Other than that, all’s good.

You absolutely need to get one to get your kids started.

I probably need to have 3 to have peace at home, because everyone’s fighting over Fluffy now.

More details:

The Dyson V8 is now available in major departmental stores and electrical multiples. The machine includes a 2 year warranty on parts and labour and retails at SGD 1, 099.

Disclosure: The Kao kids new handy helper was given to us by Dyson for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions, including my utmost adoration for Mr Dyson and my son’s deep love for Tony Stark are our own. And we’ve got nothing against R2D2 looklalikes, by the way.

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Clicking and creating – Miclik construction fun [Review]

April 11, 2016

The kids love to build. They love to build and demolish; and then build and build and build some more. We’ve amassed a whole lot of building toys from blocks to Lego bricks, including the Duplo, as well as Playmobil sets and a whole bunch of rods and magnetic balls for creating and constructing for hours on end.

As part of my work at Trehaus, I recently got to meet the youthful and enterprising people behind Explorer Junior. These folks take entrepreneurship to a whole new level – they started this enrichment enterprise wholly believing that every child is a curious explorer and unique in his own way. Their keen interest in early childhood led them to create programmes to engage little hands and minds in topics like science, history and current affairs. And they started this while being undergraduates in NUS. Woah. I was only looking for internships as an undergrad.

Talk about getting a headstart, these enthusiastic folks.

Clearly, I am already impressed! So when they approached me to review these construction toy called Miclik from Barcelona, I know my kids would be thrilled.

Miclik (5)

Other than its really hard to pronounce name, Miclik is a bundle and burst of colours. Every box comes with 48 connectors in four different colours. A girl like Becks was terribly excited to see construction toys come in hot pink at last and it made me very happy to see her beam and think that she could now at last create a world of princess possibilities.

And made she did:
Miclik (2)
Miclik (3)

Miclik (7)

The boys took their favourite colours – Ben yellow and Nat green – and created dragons that could fly and monsters, barricades and snakes. It’s funny how they threw the suggestions from the Miclik instruction booklet out of the window (not literally) and embarked in creating things long and beast-like.

Miclik (4)

Miclik (1)

Boys.

I found the Miclik plastic connectors a pleasure to hold and use. There are no sharp corners and every piece is of the same shape and size – a huge reprieve from all those Lego bricks I have been constantly stepping on and finding in odd corners. It’s easy to pack and keep, and perfect for an OCD mother to sort. However, I must say, it didn’t have as much mileage as the huge bag of unsorted Lego we have. The kids were a bit challenged after a while. Because the dragons and beasts need to be slayed by wizards and knights and they needed to go back to their Lego minifigures. And guess what happens when they open up their Lego bag? They forgot what they wanted to do with their Miclik creations.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure building with Miclik. I guess the little girl had the most fun. At least until the pink pieces ran out.

Miclik is sold exclusively at Explorer Junior (here for more details) at SGD 49.90, and in my opinion, makes a great gift for birthdays and Christmas. It’s extremely kind for little hands that are 3- 6 years (and even older), especially if these hands are not ready for Lego yet. I hear too, that Miclik is designed and produced with the philosophy of being “respectful to the environment” and “safe and honest with the materials” in mind (source). Ok, more reasons to buy this as gifts, and for our little ones!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The folks at Explorer Junior are giving away 3 boxes of Miclik to keep three pairs of little hands engaged and busy with building and creating! Participate in the giveaway through Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends 30th April 2016 (12am).

Disclosure: We were given two sets of Miclik for the purpose of this review. All opinions here, especially on OCD, Lego constuction and a little girl’s preference are all my own.

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Foot Reflexology by Air [Review of OSIM’s uSqueez Air]

June 24, 2015

I am a complete subscriber to the idea that the areas of the foot correspond to the areas in the body and can be counted as one of the regulars at the foot reflexologist’s. When I was younger and not a fan of fruit, the solution for constipation was always a good foot rub with my parents in JB. Before the kids came, one of our couple weekly routines included going for a good, strong rub for a deeper night’s sleep, which always worked well for me and the husband.

Did you know that the areas of the feet correspond with organs in the "zones" of the body?

Did you know that the areas of the feet correspond with organs in the “zones” of the body?

So for the longest time, I have always preferred the human touch, because I believed that only the trained reflexologists can regulate the qi in my body. Which also means whenever I walked past OSIM in a mall, I’d stick my nose high in the air and say, ‘Nah, they can never be as good as the human touch.’

But after last week, I could – unfortunately – no longer do that.

As part of being the Family Ambassador for the OSIM Sundown Marathon (happening next Saturday evening) and Sundown with Love , I was invited for a session at OSIM at ION Orchard to pamper those tired muscles which have been training hard for the marathon (which doesn’t apply to me because (a) I am doing the 5-km fun run, and (b) I DID NOT TRAIN, hurhurhur). I was introduced to the OSIM uSqueez Air, which got my skeptical nerves up immediately because I went, Sure or not, foot massage with AIR?! For a regular like me who used to be frequently found at the foot reflexologist’s, how satisfied would I be with a foot massager, much more one that uses air?

The new OSIM uSqueez Air which looks like a pair of boots

The new OSIM uSqueez Air which looks like a pair of boots

It probably doesn’t have the kind of strength I am used to, nor the firm human touch that applies the correct pressure for the qi to flow properly, was what I thought.

The sales supervisor, Edward, must have read my thoughts, because he had me recline on a comfortable seat, selected the ‘Reflexology’ button on the ‘Strong’ mode, lifted the entire uSqueez Air (only 5 kg) onto a foot rest, asked me to close my eyes and said, ‘Enjoy!’

Just like I would at the reflexologist’s.

The OSIM uSqueez Air has a modern design and is lightweight and portable.

The OSIM uSqueez Air has a modern design and is lightweight and portable.

He later learned that I was a regular at the foot reflex and confidently assured me that the OSIM uSqueez Air could do the same and more, because it would be at the comfort of the home and at one’s own time and pleasure. Which gives it an edge over the human touch.

And I ended up having to keep those skeptical antennae in check because it was indeed – like it claims to be – capable of delivering a powerful reflexology like what I was used to getting. There were those protruding nodes inside the uSqueez Air that could stimulate vital reflex points by firmly pressing onto the arches of my feet. The strategically positioned airbags also move in a choreographed sequence to hug my feet, calves and ankle, giving them firm squeezes rhythmically.

The rollers simulate the massage of a trained reflexologist and relieves pressure built up in the arches of the feet

The rollers simulate the massage of a trained reflexologist and relieves pressure built up in the arches of the feet

Full coverage for calves, ankles and feet for improved circulation and alleviation of muscle aches

Full coverage for calves, ankles and feet for improved circulation and alleviation of muscle aches

As shiok as I would feel at the foot reflexologist’s. Strong. Firm. Good amount of pressure, the way I liked it.

Plus without the cloying Nivea cream.

I subsequently tried the other massage programmes which varied the intensity and rhythm of the kneading and squeezing and found another favourite in the ‘Sleep’ programme. It’s tempting to want to have one of these now and include a massage as a bedtime routine with the ‘Sleep’ programme. If not for the strong lights at the ION store, I would have caught forty winks.

The 5 specialised lifestyle massage programmes designed by Yoko Tatsumi, Japanese Osteopathic Massage Expert

The 5 specialised lifestyle massage programmes designed by Yoko Tatsumi, Japanese Osteopathic Massage Expert

Ok, these massage boots changed my mind about the massager as an alternative to the reflexologist, and I am now officially putting this on my wish list.

Buying one would be akin to kidnapping a reflexologist, an idea I totally wouldn’t mind given the hectic schedules we have these days which make visits to our favourite foot reflex places far and few between.

Plus, it is suitable for tired little feet too, I hear – using just its gentle ‘air’ mode! The kids might be great friends with these boots, and I have secret plans to trap them with the OSIM uSqueez Air and getting each one to keep still (15 minutes per programme) and buying myself some quiet time at home.

Sounds like a plan.

The OSIM uSqueez Air retails for SGD428 (promotion for Sundown at SGD399 with POSB/DBS cards) at OSIM stores islandwide.

***

In other news, the Sundown with Love Movement is still going on, and you can help make a difference by supporting the Sundown with Love Ambassadors and change the lives of many by supporting their cause. Not only will you go the distance to cross the finishing line, but you’ll also be helping those in need because a little contribution goes a long way. I’m doing the 5-km Fun Run on 4 July with Ben and Fatherkao for Sanctuary House, a non-profit organisation that provides foster care to children deprived of family care for various social reasons as well as support to families where children are at risk of being separated from their families.

You can click this link to donate here:

http://www.giveasia.org/movement/sundown_with_love_elizabeth_for_sanctuary_house

***

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored conversation on behalf of OSIM as part of my ambassadorship with the OSIM Sundown Marathon. All opinions here are my own.

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Yummy gummies in our tummies

May 1, 2015

I’ve always brainwashed my children about sweets and how they, though delectably tasty at first, would come back to haunt them in the form of tooth decay and indigestion. It works, by the way. But also because I satisfy their sugar cravings with gummy-fixes in the morning after breakfast.

And their gummies are vitamins and supplements in disguise, really. They load up on calcium, mutli-vits, Vitamin C and Omega-3 in the form of naturally-flavoured chewy sweets.

We’re not a stickler for brands, but I generally choose these gummy vitamins that are from reputable sources from the pharmacy. And most importantly, as the one in-charge of distributing these every morning, I read the labels carefully and ensure that:

  • Each child takes the recommended dose 

My children only start ingesting these supplements after they turn 3. They get the recommended quantity every day and not any more throughout the course of the day. I make sure they chew them slowly and swallow them. They are to respect these candies-in-disguise as vitamins and NOT candies. Large amounts of vitamins A, C and D, as well as large amounts of iron, can be toxic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if children associate these gummies with sweet treats they can have on a free flow basis.

  • The vitamins are kept in a safe and cool place

Gummy vitamins may require constant temperatures and refrigeration to prevent spoilage. Heat can cause these gummies to melt and Vitamins B and C and other water-soluble vitamins to disintegrate.

  • They should never replace a balanced diet

Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not a good substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. The kids are to have their milk and breakfast every day before consuming their gummies. If they don’t eat well throughout the day, they might see some gummies taken out from their mini cups the next day, and would be forced to load up on their fruits and veggies. I usually have no problems with the kids on that. They love all kinds of food in moderate amounts.

We’ve had the privilege of trying out the new supplements for children by Guardian recently, and my three little reviewers have never been happier to be acquainted with new shapes and flavours.

170317 GUARDIAN GUMMIES FOR KIDS MULTIVITAMIN + MINERALS 60's

Guardian Multi-Vitamin + Minerals Gummies (SGD 23.90)

170316 GUMMIES FOR KIDS GUARDIAN OMEGA 3 60's

Guardian Omega-3 Gummies (SGD 23.90)

I like it that there is no gelatin and preservatives, and the fact that ingesting all those 4 gummies (two for each)  a day meant that they are getting important nutrients for their immune health, energy levels and vision, as well as 50mg of DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids, which support healthy vision and brain functions.

I’m happier that Omega 3 fatty acids didn’t come with any fishy taste – the naturally-flavoured gummies masked that all – and that they get their nutritional boost and sugar fix!

Guardian Gummies 01

Cheers!

Guardian Gummies 02

This is the way we pop our “pills”

Guardian Gummies 03

Yummy yummy, we got love in our tummy!

Guardian Gummies 04

And Becks said, Only TWO of each!

More details:

Guardian’s competitively-priced supplements are manufactured in the United States, employing the safest and most stringent processes. Its carefully formulated, tasty supplements contain high quality ingredients that provide the head start every child needs for healthy development. The vitamin gummies are now available in all Guardian Healthy & Beauty outlets.

Disclosure: We received the mentioned products for review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own.

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Hey, Mom! We’re in a storybook! [Review: Kid Hero Stories]

April 15, 2015

I’ve never really had a problem getting my children to love reading. I’ve written about how to raise a reader in earlier posts here, here and here and I’m all for surrounding my children with books, books and more books, as well as reading to them and with them.

And on some days, I think it will be really great if these kids can take a break from the animals, the prince and princesses, the good and bad little boys and girls and the magic from the books they’ve been reading (or rather the books that are read to them) and enter into a wholly different experience.

I’m talking about being in the stories they read.

Thanks to Kid Hero Stories, my children got to enjoy a totally new reading experience during the March holidays. It was an experience complete with A LOT of laughter, and it was indeed A LOT of fun. They saw themselves in the story and laughed so hard!

Ben, Becks and Nat appeared as Ben, Becks and Nat in the Kid Hero Stories, going on adventures and doing fun things.

Like going to a birthday party…

KidHeroStories 01

Playing an egg and spoon race (which gave them ideas for games, by the way!)…

KidHeroStories 02 Fishing – and catching a smelly boot (this made everyone laughed so heartily!)…

KidHeroStories 03

And being so, so smart in the stories…

KidHeroStories 04

How cool is that?

My children thoroughly enjoyed the three stories, titled The Treasure Hunt, Message in a Bottle and The Birthday Party, that were emailed to us in PDF format, which I printed and bound for the ‘storybook feel’. All I did was to allow Kid Hero Stories to grab the pictures of my smiling children from my blog, and the good folks did up the personalisation under the ‘Sibling Series’.

KidHeroStories 05

KidHeroStories 07We huddled together to read the stories together, and even acted some parts out, like shouting, “It’s a fish! Ben has caught a big shiny fish!”, which left us all in stitches at the end.

And it was a whole new level of reading for Nat, who’s now 3 and an emergent reader, pointing to letters of the alphabet and associating letters with pictures. He was most excited with the stories.

And that excitement for those personalised stories continued after storytelling time was long over.

KidHeroStories 08

Takes reading to a whole new level, and boy, am I glad the littlest is also sharing his siblings’ love for books and for reading.

This is such a brilliant idea to get children to start reading, and continue reading!

More details:

Kid Hero Stories create fun, interesting and affordable collectible stories that kids look forward to receiving and reading. The subscription service of FOUR adventure eBooks starts from USD 7.90 per month. You can also order these eBooks as gifts for friends and family. More details of the types of books and rates on their website here. Or connect with them via their FB Page or Pinterest.

***

P/S: The stories can be viewed on a laptop or iPad because they are sent as soft copies. This mother here happens to be one of those who is strict on screen time and prefers the traditional way of reading, which includes feeling paper.

Disclosure: We were given three stories by the folks at Kid Hero Stories which in turn gave us a really precious afternoon together. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are my own.