Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shopping on TaoBao

I recently discovered a shopping haven in the form of TaoBao. I've heard of it sometime back but the first time I tried navigating the website (which is entirely in Chinese), I was so lost, I gave up. But this time, I was determined to score some good buys, so I tried harder. Pleased to say that it wasn't all that difficult after all.

You can either try shopping thru an agent like daigou or shop direct with TaoBao. With an agent, all you need to do is to browse on TaoBao, copy and paste the URLs of the items you'd like to daigou, and let daigou do the ordering and shipping for you. Payment is handled by daigou (you pay them, they pay taobao), correspondences with the sellers are handled by daigou, and shipping to Singapore is also handled by them. What this means is, the exchange between you and daigou can be done in English. In exchange, you are charged an agent fee.

Alternatively, you can cut out the agent, and shop direct on TaoBao. Now that I am more familiar with taobao, this is what I do to save money. If there are no issues with the order, well and good. No correspondences needed. But if there are issues, you'd have to contact the seller yourself, and most of them only understand Chinese. The easiest way to get in touch with them is through Aliwang chat. If you are using a Mac, you can just download the app from the AppStore. It is a live chat platform and many of the sellers are usually available so you can hit them with questions or even ask for a discount! I usually type my questions in han yu pin yin and have google translate open. When their replies get too complicated for me to understand, I use google translate. :P

I shall not go into detail about setting up a Taobao account since there are many people who've already wrote detailed instructions on this. You can check out A Singaporean's Guide to Shopping on Taobao. It can seem intimidating at first, but setting up the account and payment arrangements is just once off. Subsequently, you'll be able to skip these troublesome steps.

And now, the question that everyone likes to ask... What does a mom with 3 young kids buy from Taobao. Sharing my favourite finds...

Oxford Reading Tree Books
If you are familiar with Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy, you'd be familiar with ORT. I bought the entire set of readers (levels 1 to 9 - over a hundred books) from TaoBao. Shop here!

Stephen Joseph Wallets
I was looking for a kid-sized wallet for my son who'll be going to Primary 1 next year, and was so happy to find this. It has compartments for dollar notes, coins and a few cards. Just what I was looking for! Shop here! 

Stephen Joseph Pencil Cases
I was putting together goody bags for 5 to 8 year olds. Managed to find these cute pencil cases. Pretty and functional. I messaged the seller to tell her that I was planning to buy 40 pieces, and asked if she was able to give me a discount. She readily agreed to a pretty generous discount. Shop here!

Name Stamps
We received name stamps as Christmas presents last year and my boys were so delighted. I decided to give these as birthday party goody bag gifts... I am guilty of throwing away sweets, lollipops and such from the birthday goody bags that my boys bring home from school and make it a point never to give these sweet stuff. I hope his friends found these useful. While at it, I made a set with just my boy's name in english and chinese characters (without the cartoon characters )for labelling Primary 1 textbooks and exercise books. Shop here and here!

Luggage Tags
I like hanging these tags on my boys bags so they can differentiate theirs from their friends... especially when the whole class is using the same school bag. Comes in all sorts of cute designs. We also gave these away as birthday goody bag goodies. Shop here!

Clothes for Mommy
After giving birth to Nico, I could no longer fit into my old clothes. Boo hoo! I was so glad to find miancun.taobao.com. They sold Zara like clothes at TaoBao prices. Best! Their clothes change with the seasons though. So if you are looking for clothing items for our tropical climate, you'd have to shop in the first half of the year. This simple denim dress I bought actually came with a Zara tag. Shop here!

What are your favourite TaoBao finds? Share with me... share the joy... and the savings!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hegen Revolutionary Feeding Products

When I first heard about Hegen's unique one-hand close milk bottles, I was really keen to try. There are days when Nico just wants to be carried when I am making a bottle of milk for him. Hegen's bottles makes this task (that usually requires two hands) possible with its press-to-close bottles.

Here is Nico enjoying his morning cuppa...

Hegen's square shaped bottles are stackable, which makes storing breast milk so much easier. They nestle together when empty, making it easy to store them away when not in use.

Source: Hegen

The other thing I like about Hegen is its wide neck. I can wash the bottles without a bottle cleaning brush!

Source: Hegen

Now that Nico is older, I use Hegen bottles to store baby biscuits when we are out and about. The lid shuts tightly and I do not have to worry about spillage. Happy baby = Happy mommy.

Hegen is available at Mothersworks and Takashimaya. Check out Hegen's Official Website for more information.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nathan is 6!

We just celebrated Nathan's 6th birthday. A mini celebration in school a week before the actual day, followed by a special day out on the actual day, and then a birthday party with some of his friends from school.

Looking at the photos below, I am reminded of how God has blessed us so richly. Nathan has brought us so much joy. I do miss the toddler him, with chubby cheeks and all, and can't believe that he will be going to Primary 1 next year.

I told Nathan that he gets to choose anything he wants to do on his special day out. He wanted to go swimming and cycling and we were all looking forward to it. Unfortunately, we had to shelf outdoor activities due to the haze, and think up alternatives. We ended up watching Inside Out at the theaters (it was Nico's first movie), having a nice Japanese lunch, playing laser tag and then having fun at the Slides & playgrounds in T3. So thankful that our boys are easy to please. We had so much fun even though we didn't manage to do what we originally planned.

Nathan's birthday is during the Sep school holidays. Last year, we asked him whether he wanted to celebrate with a short holiday abroad or have a birthday party with his friends. It is a difficult choice but Nathan's pretty decisive. Last year, he opted for a holiday and we went to Legoland Malaysia. This year, he decided that he wanted to have a party... Since it was his last year in kindy, I thought it was good to get together with some of his school friends... After much deliberation, we decided to hold the party at The Rock School. We had a blast!

Our party host, Faizal did a great job! He managed 14 feisty kids well and everyone who attended enjoyed themselves.

I got him to fill up a "birthday interview" and was quite amused with some of his responses...

So there, my first born is now 6 years old. He still enjoys taking afternoon naps though I am trying to get him used to not having one since we might not have that luxury once he goes to Primary 1. He is a really sweet older brother and tends to give in to Noah, though he can get cheeky and likes irritating his brothers too. It warms my heart when I catch my two boys huddled in one bed past bedtime, whispering secrets to one another... He enjoys LEGO, rock climbing, playing the piano and swimming. He is looking forward to Primary 1 and all that comes with it... Like getting pocket money and buying his own food.

Dear Nathan,
We thank God for you everyday and continue to pray that you'll grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. As you grow older, you'll sometimes find that doing your best isn't good enough to get you the results you desire. Know that mommy & daddy will always be behind you. We pray and trust that God will go before you as you enter Primary 1 next year.
Lots of love,
Mommy & Daddy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sew Fun!

I had the opportunity to attend Sew Fun's Baby Knits class and had fun making a bib and t-shirt for Baby Nico. It was an abridged version of their Sewing Knits: Ready for Baby class. The class was just three hours long on a Saturday afternoon. I was amazed that we could finish making a t-shirt from scratch in such a short time, given that many in the class were first timers. The class is suitable for beginners. So do not fear if the last time you touched a sewing machine was during your home economics class years back.

I enjoy working with the sewing machine although I am not really good, particularly cos I never really learned to do everything the proper way. I love pretty fabrics and I love being able to turn them into the things I want. Noah is now wearing Nathan's clown costume that I made a few years back and my Hungry Caterpillar Pillow Mattress is still being used. 

It was my first time working with knits. Always stayed away because I thought the stretchy nature was hard to handle. I was glad to learn that it wasn't all that difficult, and I need not stick to woven materials all the time.

The instructor started off by introducing us to the sewing machine and teaching us how to thread the machine. Perfect way to start for beginners. Then we went about our first project - a bandana bib.

My sewing machine for the session

It is a simple project to get us acquainted with the machine. Mostly straight lines. Pretty forgiving. Not too daunting.

Bib in progress

Ta dah! A bandana bib for Nico.

Nico's new bandana bib

In the second half of the class, we worked on our t-shirts. No more pictures of the t-shirt in progress cos I was too busy sewing (and unpicking)! But here's the final product...

The class gave me an opportunity to work with knits and I learned that sewing that t-shirt wasn't as difficult as I imagined it to be.

I think it's about time I sweep off the dust on my sewing machine and start using my fabric stash.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hello Baby Nico!

Dear Baby Nico,

You arrived to much fanfare on the 1st day of the lunar new year. At week 38, mommy was getting quite impatient but you seem to be really comfortable in the safe confines of my womb. Carrying you felt tougher than when I was carrying your two kor kors. Probably because mommy's getting older and also because of all the running around I still had to do with your dear brothers. Boy, we were so glad when you finally decided to come out and meet us. We checked into the hospital on the eve of CNY, at about 10pm after tucking your brothers in bed, and you were born shortly before 2am. Daddy didn't even get a chance to warm up the companion arm chair in the labour ward. The labour proceeded swiftly. I remember experiencing excruciating pain and wishing with all my might that it'll be over. I think God knew exactly how much pain I could tolerate, and brought you out to see the world in His time. You ended up being the first baby born by natural birth in the Year of the Goat.

While I managed to write birth stories for your kor kor, and chronicle their first year month by month,  it is a rather daunting task now that there are three of you. BUT, you have the love, hugs and kisses of two loving and protective kor kors, and I'm sure you'd grow up well with their company.

So here's your first six months in pictures...

At birth

1 week old

2 weeks old

3 weeks old

Thank you card for Aunty Fong

Sleeping thru at 10 weeks old

10 weeks old

3 months olds

Celebrating Aunty Liza's Birthday

4 months old

Reading with kor kors

5 months old

Flipped from tummy to back

First foods

Celebrating Singapore's 50th

Canon Ball?

6 months old

The first month went by in a blur for mommy... you woke up every 2 to 3 hours to feed and the sleep deprivation took a toil on me. When Aunty Fong came, she took care of the night feeds and I got more rest at night. She was such a blessing. Thankfully, you stopped needing to be fed at night shortly after she left, though you still woke up once or twice almost every night, and needed to be soothed back to sleep. It is so much fun when you started smiling and babbling. Your brothers kept asking to hold you and readily helped to care for you. You've brought us so much joy and we can't wait for you to start walking, talking and joining in your brothers' adventures.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,

Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy 50th Singapore

We celebrated Singapore's birthday a few days ago. Being her 50th, the country had much more planned than in previous years. The boys celebrated with their friends in school...

We went for picnic / carnival at Marina Barrage where there were bouncy castles, train rides, motorized animal rides...

And watched the Black Knights perform in the rain.

We went to a LEGO exhibition...

And watched the fireworks at Fullerton the day before the actual parade.

On National Day itself, we watched the parade from home, though we'd very much like to watch it live, we didn't manage to get any tickets and Nico probably won't be able to appreciate it as much this year. Hopefully we'll get tickets next year.

There were several establishments offering free / discounted entries and we decided to go for a free cable car ride. The rides were supposed to start at 9am. We arrived shortly past 8am, thinking that we'd be early. As it turned out, the queue was snaking long, and the estimated wait time was 1.5 hours! We abandoned the idea of queuing and bought the family pass together...

The boys enjoyed the cable car ride and we checked out the Sands of Time Exhibition and the new Fort Siloso tower.

By the end of the long weekend, my legs were aching from all the walking (probably aggravated cos I was carrying Nico), but we had wonderful memories of a long weekend spent with loved ones and friends.

I am thankful for this country we call home. Thankful for good governance, for safety, for clean air, fresh water and good healthcare, for playgrounds, parks and good schools. Thankful for yummy hawker food that's available almost anytime in the day. Thankful of this place we call home. God bless Singapore!