Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Visit to Gardens By The Bay (Tulipmania)

It was supposed to a normal Sunday evening while my wife is still under confinement and where Steffi should be attending her dance classes while the rest of the kids should be at home watching cartoons in the morning.  Steffi was able to continue going for her classes thanks to Aunty Christina and hubby who had been helping the family out by ferrying Steffi to and fro her dance and swimming classes on weekends!  Otherwise time would be a little stretched for me.

Anyway Jessie, a good friend primary school friend of mine decided to treat the kids to a day out to Gardens By The Bay (GBTB) yesterday as she wanted to visit Tulipmania with her mommy too!  Initially we decided that only Leroy go, but lucky Steffi got to tag along too due to a last minute change and boy was she happy! So off we went, the two kids and me to revisit the gardens!
Steffi and Leroy posing before we got into the Flower Dome.
I am sure the tulips looked magnificent in the photos that had been splashed in the social media and the displays are sure colorful and nice.  But it is not exactly that big or grand and one should never have to high expectations.  EVERYONE had to take photos with / of the display at flower dome because that's the reason why one came in the first place right? No?  There were lots of selfie enthusiasts who smiled for their handphones or cameras with their outstretched hands and it's really not easy to get that "PERFECT" shot one would have wanted as there were people everywhere, left, right, front and back but I guess it was fun too!

Here's a selfie of the kids and myslf, for the fun of it! :)
Steffi and Leroy with the prop that the staff handed out.
My friend Jessie trying to take a photo from the top.  Well, that's the main display!
BTW, there is an Instagram competition going on right now, and KLM had sponsored a pair of adut air tickets to Amsterdam for the winner to savor the sights of the real Tulipmania!  It's gonna be a tough competition as they will be lots of people attracted by the grand prize and many professionals BUT I still took part anyway! Lol...

Jessie took this photo for us for the competition, look at that monkey's expression! :)
The kiddos in a photo together with Aunty, Jessie's mommy.  Hope the kids were behaving alright!
Just walking through the flower dome took us almost 3 hours, inclusive of photography time, resting and snacking time and the feast-your-eye-with-flowers time.  Luckily it was fully air-conditioned, if not, we would not have lasted beyond 1 hour!  But that's not all as we still have tickets for The Cloud Forest too and we visited the great waterfall next.  The kids had lots of fun posing for weird photos in front of the giant waterfall and walking through mists of water!

The two trying out our favorite past time, taking "levitation" shots!
We took around another 2-3 hours walking through the exhibits and I was particularly drawn to the awesome looking pitcher plants, one of my all-time favorites!  Here's just a little bit of what we got to see!  Ain't they pretty looking?  Pretty deadly to insects too!

Here's Steffi with a montage of some of the different species we saw.
Before we knew it, we had breezed through both exhibits in about 5 hours plus and it was time to head back home so that I could get the kids bathed and be ready for dinner.  But Steffi reminded me that there was still an art-and-craft session outside the entrance that they wanted to take part.  They had seen the booth earlier and I was secretly hoping they would forget about it but well...  So we stayed back and both Leroy and Steffi got to make their own paper windmills, for free!  
Leroy showing off his caterpillar on his windmill!
Both Steffi and Leroy, happy with their handicrafts and can't wait to get home to play with their Lego figurines.  Both windmill already have their own owners and one of them was Emmet. :)
It was a great day out with the two kids and I hope that the two kiddos brought some laughter and joy to Jessie and her mommy!  I thought I was just feeling a little tired and having a little body ache yesterday, but it turned out that I caught a flu somehow and is now under MC, resting at home typing this out and feeling a little drowsy from the medications.  Hoping to get well ASAP and be back to work tomorrow! Gambatte!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Good Diapers For A Good Night’s Sleep (Review)

Having 4 kids in the family, we try to save on our expenses whenever we can and we usually sourced for the cheapest diapers and kept a look out for promotions etc.  In short, we were not brand loyal but price conscious.  Because we do change brands sometimes, the fitting may be different across the brands and that had led to leakages at times.  My 29 months old Stacci still wears her pull-up pants at night when she sleeps.  Just last month alone on 2 separate occasions, we had her waking us up in the middle of the night to complain that she wet her bed, our bed!  Was it excessive urination, improper fit or did our regular pull up pants actually get thinner?

When accidents happen, all of us (both kids and adults) are affected as we sleep in the same room, on the same bed.  We have got to wake the kids up or carry them elsewhere so that we can change the bed sheets and quilt covers.  But this is not the end of the troubles as this is very often followed by tantrums and crying later in the morning when we wake them up for childcare.  Sleep is a very precious thing for working parents and even more crucial for mommies during confinement.  Having cranky kids early in the morning really spoils everyone’s mood and makes one wonder if the savings at the expense of our sleep, were really worth all the trouble?

However this time round our lucky little Louie received a gift of love from Procter & Gamble as daddy managed to get some Pampers Baby Dry (Size 1) for him to try out.  Besides being gifted the odd packs by friends when they visited our newborns, this would actually be our very time trying out Pampers on a more “regular” basis.  As with most brand leaders, their products are not exactly the cheapest in the market but I am guessing that there must be something really right that the company is doing in maintaining its market share.  I mean, how many times does one hears of the words pampers and diapers being used interchangeably?  Very often I would guess and I think Pampers must be good but I had to test it out on Louie to confirm.

The best assurance I got came from a lady with 5 solid years of experience in taking care of 6-8 newborns every year.  She is none other than our confinement lady, Aunty Kam, whom we employed recently to take care of mommy and my little 10-day old Louie.  I had to employ one this time because I needed to give my wife the rest she deserves, especially when this is likely to be her last pregnancy.  Aunty Kam’s eyes went wide open when she saw me home with the 5 packs of Pampers Baby Dry and when I asked her if this brand is good, she replied “of course lah!” without any hesitation.  But she added that it is not cheap, even in Malaysia.

Aunty Kam actually highlighted an overlooked feature of the diapers, and that is the wetness indicator.  I had read every single word on the packaging and researched online but there were nothing official on the wetness indicator on Pampers Baby Dry diapers, which made me wonder if it was a recent new improvement for local market.  Anyway it is a single yellow line that runs across the diaper vertically from the front to the back and turns to blue the diaper gets wet from urine (it doesn’t change color from coming in contact with stool though).

The selling point of Pampers Baby Dry diapers would be its 12 hours overnight protection with its additional sleep layer (making it a 3-layered diaper as compared to 2 in most other brands), as well as its wide ultra-absorb area.  One can always try to avoid waking up for night feeds by (1) putting the baby to sleep later, (2) trying to feed baby more for the last feed or even (3) supplementing the last feed of the day with milk formula (if baby is on full breast milk) so that baby will be fuller and less likely to wake up.  But all these efforts will come to naught when you have to wake up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby due to wet diapers, or the need to change bed sheets due to leakage!  Best tip for a good night's sleep would be babies donning GREAT diapers. Not all diapers are made the same, and some supermarket house brands are so HORRID that I do not ever want to be reminded of again.

No hard-selling because this is only the fourth night that baby Louie is using Pampers Baby Dry diapers, however I am glad to report that we encountered ZERO accidents so far and Louie’s bottoms are still looking as healthy as can be!  For more information on Pampers and its range of products, do visit their official website here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Winner Annoucement - Name Our Baby Boy Contest! (12 Mar - 12 Apr 2014)

Dear all,

Thank you for taking part in my first ever contest.  It was a really tough decision deciding on a suitable name for our little prince.  I had lots of consultation with his elder sisters and brother and had considered Loki, Lewis and Linus seriously.  Finally we are pleased to announce that -

After getting to know him a little better for the past few days, we found that this name suited him well and was just as cute as he is to us.  Unfortunately there were no exact match for this name amongst the entries.  However as Louie is a derivative from Louis (and other names that sounded like it), we will still award the headphone to one lucky winner who suggested that.

And the winner who fulfilled ALL the criteria is KokHui Lovedimsum!  Congratulations to you and hope to hear from you on the prize collection soon!  A big thank you to the rest of you for all your participation and sharing that made this a success!!!

We still have an on-going contest here!  Join before 07 May 2014 to win 2 months' supply of Bepanthen ointment and a limited edition Bepanthen diaper clutch for your little ones too!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Newest Addition to Our Family (Warning - Bloody Photos)

14 April 14 was the birthday we chose our newest family member.  Life would never be the same again for all 5 of us in the family and how can I not blog about it?  Although this is the fourth time that my wife and myself is going through the process, it is still rather nerve-wreaking for my wife as it's still a major operation and even I have my own fears that the baby may not turn out to be how I envisioned him to be.  Still, I needed to be the stronger partner. 

We didn't get to sleep until after 3am that morning as my wife was still packing the bag for the hospital stay and I was also cleaning out the room meant for the newborn and the confinement lady we employed.  We couldn't afford a family car and my wife actually suggested that we take a bus to the hospital over taking a taxi as it was still early!  I dunno how many wives would allow that, but someone told me it's blasphemy to even think about doing that!  But not my wife, the ever virtuous, understanding and considerate one and here's our selfie just before reaching Thomson Medical Centre!  

Everything was rather expected for both of us since it was our fourth time and everything was anticipated.  Registration was a breeze at the hospital and I even had the time to get my wife to pose "accurately" for photos.  Look at the photos below,  the photo on the left was taken before Stacci's delivery while the right one was recent.  She had deliberately wore the same attire and I think my wife didn't change a bit!

Before long, I got dressed up in my $11.13 protective clothing as usual so as to witness the arrival of our 2nd prince while my wife was being wheeled into the operating theater.  Although she was all smiles and posed so cutely for a photo even right before the operation, but I can feel that she was still terrified inside.  I mean who wouldn't be? 

I was welcomed by one of the friendliest anesthetist ever when I finally got into the operating theater.  She came across to me like a grandmother-like figure and when she saw me trying to take a selfie with my wife, she asked to take over my camera and took a whole lot of photos for us!  It wasn't like an operation, but rather like a casual chat between the gynae, anesthetist, wife and myself.

I tried my luck asking if I can take photos of the operation itself but kept getting rejected.  However, this is the first time that they ever allowed me to take photos of the baby BEFORE he got cleaned up.  The nurses were rather apprehensive at first, probably afriad that I would faint at the sight of the blood but I reassured them that I was a butcher before.  This is also the first time I took so many photos of the going-ons in the theatre and I finally got to cut the umbilical cord of my baby.  As this is probably the last time I will get to witness the entire process, I took as many photos as possible.  As parents, it's always a relief to see the baby healthy and looking alright at birth.  Viewer discretion is advised - some of the photos might cause discomfort as they show blood but this is as real as it gets.  The other regular photos that one usually gets to see are too sanitized.

Having to carry a baby 38-40 weeks each time and getting one's tummy cut up and stitched back over her own fear, BUT yet doing this four times over 6 years (with a smile no less) is truly amazing.  With this, I dedicate the above to my wife of 12 years and mother to our four beautiful children.  Happy mother's day in advance and we owe what we have to your personal sacrifices all these years. 

Here's to many more years of diaper-changing and maybe sibling rivalries or squabbles, but let's enjoy the love and family bliss that comes with the kids as well!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bepanthen Nappy Rash Ointment (Review)

Being a hands on father 3 times over, and always having a baby or toddler in the house since 2008, I had my fair share of diaper changing and the problems that comes with it.  But as they always say, practice makes perfect.  Being wiser, I no longer encounter the novice problems of leakage or wrongful / untimely discharge of bodily waste during “change parade” now.  There is however, still one thing that I really hate, and that is nappy rash.  Seeing the little ones with their delicate skin inflamed is bad enough, but that also meant I have to get my fingers messy trying to smoother babies’ privates with a thick coat of smelly nappy rash cream while they struggle. 

Personally I hate any lotion or cream that has fragrance in it, be it moisturizers, sunblock lotions or even mosquito repellents.  That’s why I would never put these stuff even on myself as the metallic smell (from zinc oxide?) really puts me off.   I hate nappy rash because even though I hated applying creams and lotions, I could never bear to see my little ones suffer from it and would have to apply creams on them no matter how much I hated the feeling.   The rash can present itself from anything such as a mild discomfort to extreme itchiness or even pain.  With my youngest child Stacci at 29 months old, it has actually been quite a while since I last had to apply anything to alleviate nappy rash for anyone. 

Earlier last week, I was actually given some sample tubes of Bepanthen Nappy Rash Ointment which I had initially planned on using on my fourth child if need be.  But coincidentally Stacci complained to me that she has gotten some rash around her privates about 2 days after I got the samples.  It was due to our lateness in changing her pull-up pants and thus I ended up using using the ointment on her instead.  The ointment felt relatively oilier on my fingers as compared to usual creams due to its composition, but that also meant I only had to apply a thin layer onto her skin too!  Fortunately there was no unpleasant smell at all and I managed to wash away any residue of the ointment on my fingers with just a tiny bit of hand soap.  Viola, I checked on Stacci the very next day and is glad to report that her rash had already cleared up quite a fair bit after using the ointment and she was back to her usual happy self!

Being free from any fragrances, colorants or preservatives, Bepanthen ointment can also be used to protect or heal cracked nipples during breastfeeding.  I know how bad sore nipples can be, cause I experienced it myself during the route marches in Army.  Hee hee, perhaps the Army can even consider a small tube of this ointment as part of its standard issue.

For me, there is no need to apply a thick layer of cream anymore to cure or prevent nappy rash now.  Bepanthen ointment also contains pro-vitamin B5 which accelerates the natural healing of the skin.  So no fear and happy diaper changing everyone! "  There is an ongoing Guardians in-store exclusive of a Free Munchkin teether with every purchase of two (2) tubes of Bepanthen Ointment (30g) till 31 May 2014.  You can also request for a free sample here to try out first like me but remember to enter "OMYB1" under the promo code though.

Enter our FB contest to win 2 months' supply of Bepanthen and a limited edition Bepanthen diaper clutch for your little ones too!  Like this post and follow the instructions!  Contest ends on Wed, 07 May 2014 at 2359hrs.  Remember to follow us at The "Perfect" Father FB page for the results! Good luck to all!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

How I Lost 12 Kilograms in 12 Weeks

Have you been thinking about losing some extra weight that you had been carrying around, but do not know how to go about doing so?   How does being provided breakfast, morning break, lunch and afternoon break for 3 months at no charges, and getting paid to lose weight sounds? If your BMI is over 27, the study I just went through recently might be right for you.

The fat blob above is how I looked like just before a colleague introduced me to a research study called "Effect of 12 weeks consumption of Palatinose compared to sucrose on Body Fat Composition and Body Weight in overweight and obese subjects" by Singapore Institute for Clinical Science.  I participated in this research study because I had always wanted to lose weight and the prospect of getting paid for it sealed the deal.

If you are selected for the study, you will be provided ALL meals for a full 12 weeks, except for dinner which you would have to stick to healthy options.  You need to take before and after photographs of all the food you consume during this period and to go down to the research centre 5 times in total.  You will be reimbursed $25 per trip and at the end of the 12-week period, you also get a lump sum of $200.

I just completed my 12-week cycle on 08 April 2014.  I had managed to lose 11.8kg in total, reduced my BMI to 22.6, lost 7.2% in body fat and 3 inches off my waistline, just by sticking to the diet provided.  I also got a detailed report which showed a reduction in my cholesterol level as well as my blood pressure level.  Losing weight is a given in this study as you will be given a lower calories diet but I managed to lose so much only because I had terribly bad habits to start off with. Soft-drinks were my only liquid intake then and I would only consume meat, the fatter the better.

Staying healthy is of paramount importance to me now that I have dependents and I will have to work doubly hard to maintain healthy eating now.  PM me know if you are interested to take part in this ongoing study and I will link you up with the researchers!  Meanwhile, stay off sugar if you could, you would probably lose a few kilos just by reducing the intake.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Virgin River Safari Trip for the Family

We finally brought the kiddos to River Safari on Sun, after postponing the trip for the longest time due to work and other activities.  Actually I must really take my hats off to my wife as she was the one who suggested bringing the kiddos there, despite the C-section already being planned for in 8 day's time.

To most fish-keeping hobbyists, many of the fishes displayed are rather commonly found and not that interesting.  However the kid were rather awed by the sheer sizes of some of the gigantic carps and catfishes and I must say that the display of the Mekong River Catfishes and giant rays was quite nicely done up. 

The manatee enclosure was impressive with the many specimens of varying sizes being displayed together in the giant enclosure.  It is however quite difficult to get any decent photos due to the dim lighting but as we moved up along the enclosure, we could catch the feeding actions of the "sea cows" from the top instead.

Lastly, how can we forget about the main attractions of the place? They are non other than the two giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia.  Steffi and Stacci got to see the red pandas up close first before seeing the two main "monochrome" bears.  The red pandas are equally adorable I should say and looks rather friendly too. 

Kai Kai and Jia Jia were housed separately and luckily for us, they were rather active when we were there, at least for Kai Kai and we managed to get a few shots of the kids with them, albeit from quite a distance.  No chance of a family shot too as there was quite a big crowd gathered viewing the pandas.  I half suspected that it was also because the enclosures here was fully air-conditioned and provided a relief to everyone in the scorching sun!

We skipped the boat ride at Wild Amazonia because probably only Steffi and myself could take the ride due to height restriction and physical condition and I would really rather view animals leisurely on foot, which I erroneously thought I could.  I only realized that one HAVE to take the boat ride to view the monkeys, tapirs, capybaras and jaguars.  So that means paying an additional $5 per adult and $3 per kid on top of the park admission fees of $25 per adult and $16 per kid. 

I guess the River Safari is good for a first time visit but having to pay over $100 (inclusive of boat rides) for my family of four, I think I would rather go to the main Zoo instead.  The kids would probably enjoy the Rainforest Kidzworld more than watching the giant panda chew bamboos.  Luckily for us, the tickets were prizes courtesy of TLK Confinement Nanny and we are thankful for that!  The kids have had fun and we ended the day happily with a family photo with the mascot.