Monthly Archives: June 2014

Baby Dior!

Andrew: Because of Dear’s frequent visits to (and purchases from) the Dior outlet in Ion, we got invited to the opening of Baby Dior in Marina Bay Sands!

Jasmine: Nonsense, actually I only own the oui ring which Dear bought for me, and the Diorling handbag which I use daily… or for now, whenever I’m allowed out of the house, that is. I like to think it’s more because I struck up a friendship with Mona, the grande vendoir at Dior Ion, over our admiration for the fantastical designs of Dior jewelry. Her (and Dior salespeople’s) service has been exceptional, inviting us to movie premieres, giving me coffee-table books and now this! In fact, our invitation to the Baby Dior store preview, a French-inspired card, was delivered to our doorstep- how charming and wonderfully old-fashioned!

Andrew: We were really excited because we were informed that Dylan will get to try on some of the clothes and there will be a (free) photoshoot for him. Seriously, how many photo-shoots has this little boy been on? This would be his 5th – and he’s less than 2!

We were greeted with this very pretty display when we arrived – which we later realised wasn’t just for display, but was for us to feast on! More on that later.

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Andrew: I have to say that the service was really top-notch at Baby Dior. They had scheduled us such that there were at most 2 customers during each 2 hour slot and there were at least 10 staff around, giving you your fullest attention – from giving you a tour of the shop, talking about the merchandise, playing with your baby, serving you drinks and food, taking photos. It was a surreal experience, almost dream-like – it was like we had entered a little joy-filled bubble of luxury and pampering!

We were guided through the collection upon arrival and I immediately pointed out this cardigan, which I thought looked really nice. (Jasmine; Was really surprised that Andrew asserted himself so quickly in the area of baby high fashion!) Soon after, the sales associates went to pick out a selection of BabyDior clothes for Dylan to wear, incorporating that cardigan.

Dylan really got royal treatment! He had two sales associates helping him change up, though of course Daddy needed to be around since he was rather afraid… (Mummy was too caught up perusing the girls and newborn clothes with the boutique manager– that she only came in 10 minutes after)

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Poor Dilly!

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Finally all dressed and handsome, silenced by the Woody figurine!

Andrew: This changing room was actually very well-equipped with a full range of toys from Toy Story figurines to a miniature version of Crocodile Dentist – so old-school! I remember playing that when I was young.

They even had a make-up artiste for him – we didn’t want to put any blush on his face, because of his eczema, so what she did was just help style his hair. He looks rather apprehensive here… I have to say though that the staff were extremely patient, bubbly and evidently loved kids. They knew how to handle him well and were all over him, as you will see later when he warmed up. This little boy’s a real charmer!

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The final look! Hope there would be nicer shots taken by the professional photographers…

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Of course, the parents’ father’s needs were not neglected too as there was free flow of drinks – champagne for the dad and juices for mummy. There was also non-stop flow of little sweet treats like lemon meringue tarts, opera cake and dark chocolate tarts.

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Andrew: We initially thought the macarons were just for display, but were later informed that we could consume them and that they were from Laduree! Oh – I didn’t hold back and ate at least 5 of them… the flavours were Liquorices (black), Rose (red with white centre), Raspberry (red with red centre) and Vanilla (white). My favourite was Vanilla, followed by Rose. Dear was still chomping on these macarons, even as we left the store.

Jasmine: The sales associates, as Andrew has said, were exceptional. Not only did they create a lifestyle experience for their adult customers, charming us with little stories about the brand’s heritage and inspiration/ workmanship for the decor and apparel, they managed to entertain Dilly for a full half an hour. Free babysitting by Dior staff leh! We should just go every weekend haha. And us? We just lounged around eating macarons and cakes and for Andrew, drinking champagne. Closet alcoholic!

A picture with just some of the wonderful staff!

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After taking quite a few photos, Dilly started to warm up and became very smiley and happy around the store!

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Rubbing nose with ‘Emilie’ the bunny rabbit

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Stylishly posing next to Gabriel the Bear (apparently Gabriel travels all around the world whenever a new Baby Dior outlet opens!)

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Lovingly patting the dog…

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Jasmine: As you can see, it’s total photo overload but we just couldn’t decide which photos to choose, coz he looked so cute! The outfit is all Baby Dior from head to toe, down to the high-top sneakers- the lovely sales associates offered him costume changes but we declined as he seemed so miserable being stripped. Well, not only did Dilly get his hair volumised and styled by the makeup artist, he also had a photographer following him around, taking photos of him (and us) in different corners of the store.

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Running around the store like it’s his little playground and getting very comfortable with the sales associates! The classical furniture, scaled down to kid size, and oversized stuffed toys, made the store more welcoming for its little customers!

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This sales associate, Ashini, was his favourite! He kept pointing to her and even let her carry him a few times!

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Andrew: Now, I shall leave Dear to give her extensive description of the decor and merchandise. She even wants to adapt certain elements for our home *shudder*.

Jasmine: As with the Taka and Ion flagships, the Baby Dior boutique at Sands is modelled after Christian Dior’s own apartment, and done up in the brand’s sgnature dove gray. However, the Baby Dior boutique is a touch more whimsical and homely. Check out the faux fireplace below:

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And Dior-related mementos on the fireplace panel:

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The store is divided into three main zones, the changing area, which you’ve seen previously, the children’s boutique, and the baby boutique. This is the children’s boutique.

The girls’ clothes feature stunning craftsmanship and (of course) high-quality materials. As Junita, the store manager, was bringing me through the store (or actually, was she following while I excitedly ruffled through the racks? haha), she mentioned that Dior’s philosophy was not to create “mini-mes”, but to adapt Dior designs for little children, that are stylish but still comfortable to move about it. Many of the dresses have alot of swing, which little girls love to twirl in.

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Girls’ couture dresses on display:

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And the baby boutique for younger tots (tip: ask for newborn clothes and blankets, which are nestled in the drawers). I spent a good amount of time admiring the newborn mittens, made of linen and embellished with the most delicate gold lacework I’ve ever seen. Apparently, this century-old lace company used to manufacture lace for European royalty before Dior took ownership.

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The baby boutique area was even cozier and looked like a personal walk-in wardrobe. The faux window supposedly has a view of Granville, where Christian Dior used to stay during summer vacations.

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I fell in love with this little swing dress with a rosebud print, which is Dior’s favourite flower… (But fortunately or unfortunately, sizes only start from 6 months up so I couldn’t buy anything for baby girl!)

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As well as this pink dress with woven silver Lurex thread – the glam version of the rosebud print above! I also really liked the way the pieces were framed, like keepsakes—methinks I can do that with Dilly and baby girl’s special outfits in future, and put them up in Ikea shadowboxes!

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This being Dior, they sweat even the small stuff. The detail on the confetti knob and handcrafted beaded wire hanger are so quaint!

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One more look at my future walk-in wardrobe!

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And a picture with Mona, the lady who made it all possible!

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All baby visitors were given a souvenir (which I’m holding)- a colouring pad of Dior figurines and fashions that you can cut out, colour pencils and organic cookies!

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We were invited to the store’s preview for existing Dior customers. I believe that it has since officially opened its doors to the public. We didn’t buy anything, of course, but it was such an escapist way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Light Play at Blue House

Jasmine: We brought Dylan to a class at Blue House! The description seemed really interesting- about playing with light to investigate properties of objects. Of course, Andrew had to come coz it’s almost impossible to bring Dylan out on my own now, what with the tummy and contractions. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do much for the hour that we were there- just sit down and be with Dylan while Andrew did all the chasing!

The class proceeded at a very relaxed pace- there was welcome and singing of nursery rhymes, followed by two light-related activities, and closure with bubble-blowing and farewell. We’ll let Dylan take over this post, since the activities were planned for him!

Dylan: I was just sleeping soundly in the car-seat, which had finally been turned front-facing after my whining for a few months, when Mummy and Daddy rudely awakened me to bring me to a ‘blue house’ – hmm, didn’t know houses were described by colours! Ours can be called the ‘White House’ then, since our door is white!

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Dylan: As usual, Mummy demands a shot with me, when I’ve just been woken up and have my bedhead. I bet it’s just to hide her tummy! No Mummy, I’m not looking at the camera or giving you a smile – of course though, any look I give at this point of time is still considered cute!

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Activity 1: Baby Introductions

The first activity required all parents (actually, only mummies! – Daddy felt kinda left out- hence you see him only behind the camera throughout) to sit round in a circle while this lady in the middle sang songs to introduce us to each other! I was the first she mentioned… Yay! Mummy and Daddy desperately tried to get me to wave my hands, but I just wanted to chew on my maracas… Nom nom nom!

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We sang some familiar songs after that, like incy-wincy spider, which Granny and  Mummy had taught me before – so I had an edge over everyone else, even though they were older! Yay!

Activity 2: Projector Light Show

Dylan: After that, we moved into a corner of the room, where… I’ll let Mummy do the describing of activities. [Mummy: It was the  projecting of a video in a darkened area.] Erm Mummy, that’s it?? I could have said that myself.

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Mummy: actually Dylan, do you remember that the teacher encouraged you children to interact with and name these high-contrast images?

Dylan: Oh ok.. a wall full of pancakes!

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That’s a nice boat – but my submarine at home is way better!

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I’m seeing stars!

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Ooh… what is this… black with two pointers…

Oh no, it’s a bug! Do something Daddy instead of just clicking away on yr phone… Oh no, there’s a bee too!

Activity 3: Light Table

Dylan: So, after being terrorised by the insects, we went on to the light table area, which I previously loved! This time, it was made even more fun with all these little balls of water! There were even juice bottles around, much like Mummy’s sensory bottles, which I haven’t seen in ages – think Daddy asked Mummy to keep them after I kept biting on them.

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Here’s me – practising what Mummy calls my ‘pincer grasp’…. They were fun to bounce and smash too!

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But what really zapped my brain cells was doing some transferring! Don’t be fooled by all these tender mother-son pictures, yo, I was doing all the hard work and Mummy was just sitting back most of the time, hoping this activity would last all day.

The beads looked so glowy and yummy I had to try some of them – after all, the cup they came from said ‘Food Republic’.

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Oh man, they look just like the pearls in Daddy’s bubble tea – Daddy, can you add these into my milk later? That’ll be 1 Similac Total Comfort with pearls, sugar level 100% – thanks!

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Hmm, one container of pearls might not be enough for my milk. Let me transfer some over from the other.

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I’ll just take the whole tray anyway – perhaps we can save these pearls for my night feed later!

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Ah, since nobody wants, I’ll do everyone a favour and take both trays then!

Final Activity – Bubble Gun

Dylan: Anyway, turns out those ‘pearls’ were not edible. They were waterbeads from the gardening section at Daiso. Found out when I tried to stuff some in my mouth and everyone started screaming for me to stop. Chill everyone – I’m just a baby, putting things in my mouth is what I do! Anyway, so much for the excitement about my milk with pearls.

We went on to the final activity, which was the bubble gun! Now granny had played this with me before, but the bubbles were nowhere as big – excuse me teacher, may I have this instead of the pearls?

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I couldn’t hit any of the bubbles and ended up having only one ‘pop’ on my head!

After the final activity, all the other kids left as the atelier was closing, but as Mummy and Daddy had to settle some payment – actually mainly, Daddy… I got to play a bit more! There was fogging outside too, which meant… UNLIMITED PLAY!

There were some of my old favourites, like the mirrored tent. This beats my Ikea mirror at home, now I can check my appearance in three directions at once! Bet Daddy would like one of this in his toilet, eh?

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Wonder where my own Yakult pit went to. I just can’t understand Mummy’s concept of storage…

IMG-20140620-WA0026Dylan: Enjoyed myself so much that I didn’t want to go off in the end… kept running back to see the play area and the lovely teachers there. Daddy had to drag me away. Mummy and Daddy, bring me back again some day!

Oh, Mummy is itching to say something, so I’ll let her end off this post!

Jasmine: Since we last came last year, Blue House has also switched out quite a few of its learning areas. I guess this is easier and cheaper to do so at Blue House since many of its learning materials are upcycled, such as repurposing cardboard boxes and egg cartons as shape sorters! Apparently, the founders had been inspired by a study trip to Reggio Emilia province in Italy to revamp some of its learning spaces as well as design new classes, such as this one on light.

There is now a nature/ wilderness corner, complete with tent and natural materials, quintessentially Reggio…

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And a basket of fabric scraps with a clothesline nearby. Not sure how this is meant to be used- probably as make-believe and also for exploring textures and “weaving” with fabric, perhaps? A nice open-ended play area with so many possibilities!

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And lastly, a cool wooden board with hooks, for hanging or lacing activities, which is great for toddlers’ fine motor development.

photo(28) Dylan was really quiet and engaged, especially with the light table activity. He was the last one to leave the area and had to be carried away. This may seem trite but it’s such a joy seeing him grow and overcome his stranger anxiety: he was so helpful and helped the teachers pack the books and plastic containers away. Then after we left the atelier, he ran back to the door and stared in longingly while the teachers looked up and waved byebye to him again.

Blue House has this Infant and Toddler Atelier, but they also have kindergarten programmes based on Reggio Emilia, with emphasis on creative expression, outdoor play and community. No flashcards or worksheets in this preschool- exactly what I’m looking for! If it weren’t so out of the way and expensive, I’d totally put him in preschool there 🙂

Our Second Maternity Shoot: Behind the Scenes

Jasmine: With weeks to go before baby girl arrives, we arranged for a maternity cum family shoot. We wanted to keep it simple, so we opted for a 2-hour shoot. and planned for most of it to be done indoors, in air-con, so that it’d be more restful.

Here’s Andrew, not to be outdone, getting his hair styled by my wonderful makeup artist, Chris. It was meant to be just hair and makeup for me but Chris was nice enough to blow-dry and style Andrew’s hair too. (Andrew: Took the opportunity to get some tips on everyday hairstyling too!)

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Jasmine: Dylan and Daddy wore matching vests. Andrew’s vest and pants were tailor-made during our Shanghai trip, while Dylan’s vest was a gift from my mum (sale somewhere).

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We chose the woven brown fabric for Andrew’s tailored vest and pant combi coz we wanted something different from the abundance of black, navy and gray in his wardrobe but still refined and gentlemanly. And of course, I’m totally biased, but Dylan looks cute in anything he wears. [Andrew: Totally agree! The moment my little boy tottered out of his room in that vest, my heart just melted! He was so so so cute!!]

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Kudos also to Chris, my makeup artist… If you remember, I bought this oversized floral accessory from Phuket, Thailand, which everybody hated. Chris cleverly turned it upside down and positioned it on the side of my head, so that it wouldn’t be too outstanding. [Andrew: Okay, so Chris’ fee was well-spent, for making THAT thing look good.]

Yup, that’s the look Andrew gave me. But I still bought it anyways.

The final look – as styled by Chris!

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Andrew: As always, Chris did a great job with Dearie’s make-up and she looked absolutely gorgeous!

Jasmine: Anyway, Dilly and Andrew were dressed in brown to complement my maternity gown, which I customised from Etsy- I requested a gown with different lengths of fabric, and that the innermost layer of fabric (which was originally beige) be swopped out with a deeper shade of mocha for more dimension.

This silly dress gave me a lot of headaches coz I ordered it express, but instead of taking the 5-6 days (including tailoring from scratch and international shipping) as promised, it took almost 2.5 wks, which meant I had to postpone the shoot by a week. Thankfully we managed to reschedule with our makeup artist and photographer- I just hope the dress photographs well, for all that trouble! It looks a tad too bright (the peach layer) and dishevelled here…

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Coaxing little Dilly to smile – this photo was standing between him and
his milk feed!

Without even asking, Chris styled my hair so that I could have two looks in one shoot- the illusion updo above, which I then let down in the car and released the waves for a more casual bob:

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Jasmine: This was the most chill photographer we’ve worked with. Thomas didn’t give us any direction except “let’s keep posing down to a minimum” and “treat it as a family outing, I’ll shoot like a family friend”. In fact, these shots taken with our phone cameras are probably even more posed than the shots taken by our photog!

We weren’t quite sure what the shots looked like even at the end of the shoot, but we are trusting that all will turn out well as we really liked his online portfolio! Fingers crossed!

family shoot singapore, the peeping thom,

Andrew: I guess that’s why he calls himself Peeping Thom! Didn’t even feel like we were at a photoshoot this time, honestly. For our first maternity shoot, we were really going for more of a ‘home’ feel, as we wanted to showcase everyday moments at home, with the two of us just enjoying each other’s company and the arrival of our little one. With this second shoot, it was more about enjoying a chill day out and having fun with Dylan and our second one. Dilly was good throughout the shoot and surprisingly, he even managed to nap on the way to our final location. We can’t wait to see the photos!

House Tour: Our Bedrooms

Jasmine: So it’s been two years since we moved in, so I thought we should probably photograph our first home for memories’ sake.

I didn’t take pictures at the start because I feel a house needs to be lived in and real. The public areas of our home are still works in progress (Andrew: So when will they stop being work-in-progress??), so I’m just showing the two bedrooms which I am (mostly) done with for now.

We were going for a whimsical fairytale theme. We didn’t have an interior designer as we thought it would be more fun and authentic to do it ourselves- I have seen pictures of ID-led home renovations and I find them too similar, over-designed and with way too many built-ins.

Our Master Bedroom

In architecture, there is a hierarchy of privacy where the most private rooms are accessed last or at the back of the house. However, our master bedroom door was right where this white branch mural used to be, opening onto the living room and very near the front gate. Hence, our first step was to move the doorway further from the front gate.

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This then allowed us to build in a bank of full-height wardrobes. For a seamless feel, we opted to have floor-to-ceiling doors instead of splitting them up- this technology only became available a year before we moved in. Due to space constraints, we wall-mounted our Sony Bravia TV- which can swivel to face the bed or be pushed flat against the wall.

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We fixed the crystals to the chandelier ourselves. (Andrew: Yes, Dearie actually personally conceptualised the design of this chandelier and well, I was just the labourer.) It casts some really nice, almost tree-like shadows on our walls.

We wanted it to be a relaxing sanctuary with hints of a woodlands feel, so we went with this Ikea wrought-iron bed, and lots of lilac.

We saved on a lot of things by sourcing them ourselves, but we wanted a quality mattress and bedsheets, because a good night’s sleep is essential! Thankfully, my uncle got us 40% staff discount off the King Koil mattress, and I usually buy 500-threadcount sheets when they’re on sale, which means a set could cost us just $60 instead of the usual $300. (Andrew: And because there was some credit card offer going on, I got our Ikea bedframe for only $69 dollars! Another great thing about this bed-frame, which Dearie isn’t too pleased about actually, is that it’s so convenient to just ‘hang’ stuff on it, like plastic bags, clothes etc. I’m all for functionality!)

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To ensure a good night’s sleep, blackout blinds are the best but they are pricey to make, so we just chose a dark, opaque curtain, and a coordinating sheer one to further block out the light from the glass door of the bathroom. They are in chocolatey shades to balance the more feminine tones of lilac and white.

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This is my dressing area. It is safe to assume that a bit of tidying up has been done. Haha. I just moved the carpet in last night, and I really love how it is the perfect size for the dressing area (whereas previously in the living room it looked abit lost), and makes it look like a jewel box. It’s hand-loomed from silk, so it’s both plush yet cool underfoot, unlike the chevron rug from Pier21, which feels kinda rough. A wonderful everyday luxury! I was concerned about having a Persian carpet in the house with a baby, much less putting it outside the bathroom where it might get wet, but in the last 18 months it has only been subject to one coffee stain. Carpets are made to withstand a lot more than bathwater and babies, so just go for it! [Andrew: I LOVE that corner now that there’s a carpet in there – it makes that corner have a hotel-like feel. I was even thinking of converting that corner into Dylan’s second play area – only issue is that the ventilation is not so good there.]

The coat rack is from my student days in Edinburgh, Scotland. It functions as a catch-all area with the dustbin, weighing scale and Andrew’s weights below. Ideas for improving this area are welcome!

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When Andrew saw my dressing area, he immediately asked for one of his own… So we hung up a 1940s mirror that we found in New Zealand. The smaller mirror is actually a magnifying mirror and has some storage behind. [Andrew: Unfortunately, I hardly ever use it now because a man’s ‘dressing area’ needs to have a sink nearby and this one is nice, but impractical.]

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Our toilet is quite small.

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We were lucky enough to fit in a carved mirror as well as an oval sink and shower area. I’d love to add a pink mosaic backplash behind the mirror. 

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Shopping list:

Bedframe: Ikea ($69 with Andrew’s credit card!)

Bedlinens: Intero bedsheets, quilt coverlet from Nex

Andrew’s bedside table, Jasmine’s dressing table and mirror, bathroom carved mirror: King & King Wong

Andrew’s boat lamp: Air

Chandelier: Random shop along Balestier

Wall mural and Jasmine’s “book” bedside table: Etsy, with her own books piled on top

Jasmine’s storage stool: Furniture Mall

Persian carpet: Arab Street

Coat rack: Edinburgh, Scotland

Vintage 1940s mirror: Auckland, New Zealand

Dylan’s Nursery

Jasmine: We knew that this would be a children’s room when we moved in, and would have to grow with them, so we deliberately minimised built-in cabinetry and chose the gender-neutral  mint green. I don’t really like to have too many built-ins but prefer to let the space evolve according to our needs, so when we moved in, it was essentially a bare room.

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We opted for a striped wall and slowly bought the rest of the furniture, but still in keeping with the fairytale theme, albeit in a more exuberant color scheme. I trimmed the Roman blinds with turquoise washi tape and slipcovered the rocking chair with an apple-print fabric.

The iPad is not for Dylan to play with, though he tries reaching for it sometimes. It’s strictly used as a lullaby and white noise machine, heh.

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Dylan’s changing station.

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And the wardrobe with two sliding doors, which take up less space than fronted doors. If you look carefully, you can see the subtle glossy swirl finish on the wardrobe. The height chart was designed by Andrew’s boys and goes so well with the decor theme! [Andrew: This was a really great gift from my boys – so meaningful! It’s covered in plastic too, so that we can mark the various height mile-stones. I’ve still been trying really hard to get Dylan to stand by the height chart, so I can take a cute picture of him taking his height, but he just won’t stand still. No wonder they have to take his weight with him lying down in the clinic.]

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Finally, Dylan’s bookshelves. We installed these before I learnt about Montessori and the principle of having toys easily accessible to the child. These shelves hold the children’s pop-up books I’ve collected over the years and other knick-knacks, such as his first gift of baby shoes, a wooden train set from my boss that her son used to play with, his jiu jiu’s beloved Le Petit Prince tile from Vietnam and toothboxes from his man yue cake. [Andrew: Not to forget – a picture of me as a kid, which had been displayed in my house for more than 20 years!]

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I plan to have a children’s table and chairs below these shelves, or maybe a play kitchen set when he and his baby sister are older.

Shopping list:

Crib, light pendant, diaper trolley and book ledges: Ikea

Painting: art market in Bali

Rocking chair and footstool: Mothercare, with custom slipcovers

Beanbag bear: Etsy

Mirrored dresser: King & King Wong

Shopping for Maternity Clothing

Jasmine: One of the key differences between this pregnancy and the last – where I previously couldn’t wait to try all the maternity fashions, I am now trying to stay in my regular clothes as long as possible. This was possible until the end of the second trimester, but now that I am heavily pregnant, I have little choice but to wear maternity clothing- and I am grateful for the added give that specialised maternity wear provides, through gathers/ pleats and longer fronts to accommodate a growing belly.

I previously wrote an entry on renting maternity clothing, especially if they are one-off pieces that you need for travelling or special events, and we were so surprised by how popular it was! It’s still one of our top three posts of all time, so strange! Anyhow, encouraged by that, here are some of my favourite, most-frequently worn maternity dresses and how I went about sourcing them. Almost all were recycled from the first pregnancy and cost less than SGD$40 🙂

1. ASOS Maternity

This was my first stop when I found out I was preggie for the first time! I went on a crazy rampage and bought at least ten dresses from the sale section, each costing between maybe SGD$20-40. [Andrew: Oh yes, I remember the two whole boxes of clothes that arrived. Thankfully they were good buys as good maternity clothes are not easy to come by locally.] However, do scrutinise the product information closely. For instance, I didn’t realise that this double-layered chiffon dress had a sheer back, which meant that I had to wear a tube underneath, when your basal body temperature is already higher during pregnancy. This minor inconvenience was fine when I was working in aircon all day at MOE HQ, but now that I’m moving about in a warm classroom, having to wear additional layers definitely isn’t practical. [Andrew: Ah what a waste – this pink dress is one of my favourite!]

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Another ASOS buy. I like the lace flutter sleeves and cheery yellow! There are many maternity body-conscious styles available on ASOS, but I’m not really one for showing off the bump too much (except when I need a seat on the train), so I stick with more flowy silhouettes like this.

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My favourite ASOS dress, which can be layered for colder weather, but also smart enough for cocktails and canapes at the Shangri-La (or maybe they just close one eye for pregnant women).

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What’s great about ASOS is that alot of the prints and fabrics from the regular sections have also been used for maternity styles, so no worries about looking like a frump! While I’m glad for the low prices and au courant prints, I probably would not buy from ASOS Maternity again as the maternity dresses cannot be worn for breastfeeding.

Come to think of it, I could probably write a whole post on breastfeeding fashion heh… But suffice to say that if you are a preggie mama with the intent to breastfeed, do look out for button-down or surplice/ wrap dresses so that you can nurse discreetly and conveniently in them in future.

2. Raid your mother’s closet.

Well, I guess this depends on your mother’s style and size, but my mum had quite a few loose sheath dresses that she lent me. I’ve held on to this blue swallow dress through both pregnancies, even while travelling in Tasmania!

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[Andrew: Interestingly enough, I bought a matching swallow-print shirt when I was in Tasmania! Unfortunately, this unglam pic of me with the ‘shower cap’ at the chocolate factory in Bali is the best shot of that swallow t- shirt:

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3. Normal dresses that can be used as maternity wear

Jasmine: If you are determined to stay in “normal” clothes but not inclined towards wearing workout/ yoga gear everywhere, look for dresses that are empire-waisted and elastic-waisted. The skirt should be at least knee-length, so that it will not become  too short as your tummy expands.

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Do also keep an eye out for breathable, stretchy materials like jersey or cotton.

We found this dress in a vintage cum Korean shop in Compasspoint for $39.90, and it met all the above criteria… so I bought it.

4. When travelling, scour the summer sales, especially in beachwear boutiques.

During my first pregnancy, I found quite a few dresses in the surf shops in Australia/ Tasmania! The sizing tends to be more generous to suit Caucasian ladies’ frames, while typical surfwear styles like billowy tanks or airy drawstring dresses are actually quite perfect for pregnancy clothing!

I scored this maxi dress on sale at one of said surf shops, and wore it for our fine dining lunch at Peppermint Bay…

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[Andrew: Dearie looks really beautiful in this dress!]

As well as our newborn shoot for Dylan. It’s got some sequin detail on the V-neckline that you can see up close:

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5. Just buy la, especially if the dresses pull double duty for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Jasmine: Anything to boost your preggie/ postpartum self-esteem :p

Spring Maternity does a great range of maternity wear with nursing access- I bought quite a few pieces when I was preggie with Dylan and am still wearing them for this second pregnancy, including this owl-print dress with hi-lo hemline:

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I have surprised even myself by buying only two dresses this pregnancy: the black and grey striped one in Point 3, which was just too comfy to pass up, and this lavender knot dress from Seraphine:

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I actually eyed it during my first pregnancy, then was quite put off because Kate Middleton bought two of these dresses, which meant that 1) it became too ubiquitous (I prefer wearing stuff that no-one else has) and 2) the “Kate effect” meant that the dresses were sold out everywhere online and our local maternity stores did not stock this brand. I actually stalked the Seraphine UK website for months before suddenly discovering that this dress was back in stock, in my preferred colour and size!

What’s a preggie mama to do?? When the universe gives you a sign, whip out your (husband’s) credit card.

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Where almost all my other dresses featured in this post are under SGD$40, this one rang in at SGD$100. I try to justify the price tag by noting how comfortable it is, and how flattering the knot front is to my bump. The tie at the back is also useful as I can adjust it during postpartum weight loss, so it won’t be too baggy on me then. Lastly, this dress has a deep V-neck which can be pulled aside for breastfeeding, so I believe it’s a piece I’ll be getting alot of wear out of for several more months, judging from how often I wore my other pregnancy-cum-breastfeeding dresses the last time around! That means my cost per wear will be lowered! [Andrew: That’s Dearie’s philosophy for shopping for clothes and how she justifies buying so many clothes.]

Fathers’ Day Feature 2: Becoming a Father

Andrew: I’ve been meaning to write this piece for quite a while, but I didn’t quite know how to angle it or if what I’d be writing would just be trite and cliched. Nonetheless, I thought I would just note down my journey as a father thus far, as it’d be something interesting to look back on in a few years time to see how things have changed (or not).

Pre-Dylan

Before Dylan came along, Jasmine and I were excited about his arrival, yet at the same time, I was filled with trepidation and fear, not knowing how I would handle a child of my own and if I was up to the task. Much of the advice given then was ‘You’ll just learn along the way!’ or ‘Nobody is ever ready to be a parent, you just do it!’ and one of the best advice, which I still hold on to right now is, ‘You can read many books and hear so many different pieces of advice, but at the end of the day, trust your own instincts as a parent’

Honestly speaking, we were not the kind of parents too who wanted to go for pre-natal classes or read up extensively on child birth and child development. Yes, I did buy the book What to Expect when Expecting, but beyond the first few chapters, it just got too much for me. The only book we kept reading was Praying Through Your Pregnancy, which became a very good prayer guide for us – very comprehensive in praying for health, against past bondages/hurts, for emotional wholeness, even your child’s future partner! One thing we were very conscientious about was to read Psalms/Proverbs to Dylan and to pray for him and talk to him every night. Honestly speaking, we’re less attentive to our second one right now and take it as part of the bedtime routine we do for Dylan. Dear used to read up from the web on how baby was developing each week and we’d pray for him and talk to him.

Dylan’s Arrival

After hearing many stories of long labours, I was surprised when just after 2 hours of labour, our dearest son was born! Was amazed at how delicate and small he was, however, I was just also in a state of numbness (as I’ve told Dearie before) – not quite knowing how to feel or what to do.

It was only the next day, when they pushed Dylan in after cleaning him up and he looked so small, so vulnerable and so sweet that my heart was filled with joy at the arrival of a child we could call our own. Then, the journey began of us learning how to take care of him.

Our very first family photo

I still recall the first time I had to change his diapers in the hospital and how I fumbled clumsily through it! The nurse had just left the room and within 10 minutes, BabyD started bawling and crying. I checked him and there was a distinct, foul smell that I immediately recognised! However, I had never put on diapers for a baby before – what should I do? Will I hurt him, like break his back, if I do it wrong? As Dearie was resting, it was up to me to do it, so I just went ahead to do it. Opened his diaper delicately…. pulled out the wet wipes and then wiped his ass as gently as possible, so I needed to wipe a few times – back then, my impression of babies were that they were so fragile. He was crying and kicking a little! Then I wrapped up the diaper in any manner I thought useful, and put on his new diaper slowly, not knowing which was the correct way at first, then trying to find the sticky-ends. After about 10 minutes, I completed it and my heart was practically racing! Talk about Murphy’s law – just about then, the nurse came in… and she said, ‘Oh, you changed his diapers? Well done!’.

During our time at the hospital, they taught us some basic skills like how to bathe the baby, swaddle the baby and for Dear, how to breastfeed. It just seemed to pass so quickly and soon enough, it was time to go back and we were on our own!

Bringing Dylan home and the first few months

As first time parents, we were so anxious for him at everything – he had jaundice, diaper rash, cradle cap + eczema and all these small things kept me so worried, especially the eczema as we went to the doctor and tried various soaps and treatments for it, most of them temporary. We were so anxious too when Dylan had to be warded to undergo light therapy for his jaundice – it felt like he had just been with us for a few days, then we had to be separated again.

Angry Dilly, after being sunned to treat his jaundice

At the same time, I was trying to hone the various skills needed. Bathing was only done by our confinement nanny when she was here, so it seemed like something that not everyone could do. I was similarly fearful when I first had to do it and I do recall there were times when my hand accidentally slipped and Dylan just cried out loud, causing me to panic and get rather anxious. Looking back, it just seems silly to be so nervous about bathing. Heh. I remember a lot of running around to get stuff, like 0-6 infant formula when Dear’s milk flow hadn’t yet stabilised and then being befuddled by the range of brands out there.

Of course, in the midst of the stress, there was also much joy in the house now, as we laughed and celebrated all the small moments with this new life. Lots of photo-taking and posting of cute moments on Facebook too!

Learning how to put him to sleep was another learning curve for me, but I was determined from the start to learn all these things. Still remember the early days of me carrying him in my arms and walking back and forth, while singing worship songs to him, before he gradually fell asleep and I would then pop him in the bednest and quickly to go sleep before waking up at 4/5 a.m. for his night feed. These were memorable moments as I saw them as father-son devotional time too – his favourite song was ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ and ‘Still’. I would often use these times as personal worship time to praise the Lord too.

Honestly speaking, Dylan’s sleep patterns were relatively good as he only woke up once at night, so I could help with the night feed and still sustain myself at work, without being too tired. I remembered it was only around the 3rd month or so, when I started to realise, ‘Hmm, maybe this isn’t so hard after all?’.

Something that signified to me that my life was different was interestingly, my IPPT (a fitness test that all Singaporean men have to go through) – which I took soon after Dylan was born because my window was closing. Throughout the 2.4km run, I found that I had new motivation to run and to do well, because I knew that I was keeping fit and persevering for the sake of my family. This was the first moment that I did realise that I had entered the emotional journey of fatherhood.

Resuming our normal lives

Post confinement, it was time to return to our normal lives of church, family gatherings, socialising… It was also about time as Dear was bored stiff just being confined in the home mostly, though technically she wasn’t as she still had rather regular trips to NEX.

We have shared numerous posts before on how we’ve ‘integrated’ Dylan into our lives, so I won’t go into the practical things we did. However, what was more important was the idea that Dylan was now becoming truly a part of our lives, instead of previously where we ‘stopped’ our lives just to focus on him for a while. So many different things to think about now whenever you go out – you usually try to dress more casually to make the carrying of baby and his stuff out easier, you ensure that you choose locations with convenient nursing venues or not too crowded places, as far as possible you schedule outings around his nap-time. Basically, there was a whole new set of considerations to think about.

Bringing Dylan to Biennale 2013

Yet at the same time, there was a sense that things were the same. It’s a bit of a strange feeling – Dearie has asked this question to me before, “How much has having a child changed our lives?” (Yes, we do discuss such geeky questions, but it’s only during staycations or holidays when we have time to slow down and really chat). Honestly, yes, we have much more to think about right now, but fundamentally, we still do feel that we are doing the same things as before, while now having another companion with us. Yes, we no longer have the flexibility of flying off on a holiday whenever we want to or going off to midnight movies on a whim – in fact, movie-watching is kind of a rarity now. However, there’s now a deeper dimension to all that we do, because it is no longer just about us, but also about enjoying life together with our son and role-modeling to him through our lives at home and beyond.

Having Dylan has also deepened my wife and my relationship as we now really serve as ‘partners’ at almost every moment, supporting or relying on each other’s strengths at various points to manage Dylan and take care of him. There has been much more need for us to communicate clearly, understand each other and to work together to ensure Dylan, and both of us too, are well taken care of. Of course, as much as it can be a source of joy, having a child can also be a source of strain in the relationship when you disagree or when you’re both tired and one has to sacrifice to take care of your son. Nonetheless, these have also been opportunities for us to work on our communication issues. Being good fathers and mothers and building a strong marriage do go hand in hand, but ultimately, there still needs to be intentional effort to build the marriage, and that’s something I’m hoping we can continue to work on.

As for whether having a son has changed me, I can honestly say that it has – seems like quite an obvious statement as I’m sure all parents will say so. He has taught me to be more expressive and crazy, since babies respond mostly to extravagant and outward shows of emotion. He has taught me more patience too, especially over things that aren’t logical or beyond my control – I’d have to admit I lost my temper a few times when he just kept crying and refused to be comforted, and this still happens from time to time now. Always thought I was quite patient, but I guess not. Heh.

Most important of all, my son has taught me the importance of appreciating life, slowing down and not letting small moments pass you by. Every small thing that he does, that we often take for granted, becomes such a great moment of joy and celebration – from him learning to grasp an object, to flipping over, to crawling, to his first steps. There’s just such excitement when these happen and even, a great sense of pride that he’s growing so well. A simple meal with your son becomes an opportunity to interact with him, play with him and see him grow in his grasp and hand-eye coordination. For someone who was previously used to rushing through life, doing many things a day, just slowing down to appreciate time with my son has been refreshing.

I am even considering buying a much better camera so that I can properly ‘document’ all these moments with my wife and son. Recommendations are welcome. Part of the reason why we revived this blog too was also to capture these memories and I can’t wait for the day when Dylan can also start contributing to the blog – it’d be so cool – a family blog!

Jasmine: Andrew is a really great dad. There are times when I’m on bedrest and he will bring Dilly to church on his own and put Dylan in the carrier and run errands for us. Once, my pastor saw him and Dilly in church, and remarked to me later, “Wah, Andrew is quite good ah?” I can see how fatherhood has grown him –-not just in patience and endurance, as he was already much better with those two traits than me—but in being expressive, affectionate and letting his fun and playful side come out more.

Looking ahead

Andrew: 14 months on, I can honestly say many of the fears and anxieties I faced are no longer present. I’m more confident as a father, but I do honestly feel that the journey has barely begun.

Right now, the care Dilly requires from me is more practical and more in terms of ‘entertaining’, yet as he grows older, there will then be more needed for me in terms of growing him spiritually, in his character and conduct as well as, helping him to navigate the various phases of life, from school to work. Not to mention of course the additional challenge when Dilly has a new sibling! Wow, just 1 year on and Dilly is already going to be a big kor kor – it’s crazy.

Photo: At the clinic, i. asked Dilly to smile and he gave me this sweet little look... :)

Bringing Dylan for a jab

Honestly, parenthood has been a tough and challenging journey, but the rewards are immense. I’m looking forward to more adventures as Dear and I learn how to build a loving family together!

Father’s Day Feature 1: Men’s Grooming Products

Andrew: I’ve thought of a series of posts to write this Fathers’ Day weekend, as my way of doing things I enjoy.  One of my favourite activities of all is writing – more specifically, blogging! The Father’s Day features will be on topics pertaining to manhood, fatherhood and of course, my family!

This post was actually prompted by my Dearie, and I was initially hesitant as I wasn’t quite sure if there was much to write about (in reality though – it became one of the longest posts I’ve written!). In addition to doing product reviews, thought it’d be fun to link these products back to memories or specific moments in my life. Should be quite a fun post coming up – to write, at least.

Jasmine: You will be surprised but Andrew is actually quite vain! Or concerned about his appearance, at least. I remember that when we first started dating, he was still wearing imitation Ralph Polo tees from Batam with oversized horses on them, but I told him I didn’t want to change a thing about him (I was  young and foolish then haha). And he actually told me that he was disappointed, because he had hoped that I would make him over!

Facial Products

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1. CLARINS MEN Face Moisturiser

Andrew’s Review: Honestly speaking, Dearie was the first person to introduce me to men’s facial products properly and emphasise the importance of taking care of your skin. I do have eczema and dry skin in general. I still recall the first time Dear used face moisturizer on me, she told me it was evident that my skin was dry because it was just ‘drinking up all the moisturiser’. This is supposed to brighten the skin, but I can’t see the difference (honestly). However, what I can attest to is that my skin does feel softer and smoother, it also helps to ease a bit of the ‘burn’ on the skin post-shaving. 

Besides Clarins, I’ve also tried Biotherm’s Aquapower (after reading a recommendation in Augustman), but it’s thicker and tends to leave a rather sticky feeling after applying. It doesn’t go on as smoothly as the Clarins gel above. This is superficial, but the Clarins gel feels great when applying too, because it has a cooling sensation. Have tried samples from Clinique and Lab Series, but they don’t work as well. Been using this for 4 years now, so I do think it’s one of the best out there. 

Jasmine’s Review: This has become a staple in Andrew’s grooming routine and I think it is worthy of the inclusion. It does not leave a greasy sensation, yet is moisturising enough such that I can feel Andrew’s skin get plumped up and softened almost right after applying it. I recall too that there were quite a few times that this product went out of stock, so if you are looking for a Father’s Day gift, this may be nice, especially if Clarins has promotion sets (which is how Andrew got to try the facial wash, below).

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: In our dating days when I hadn’t started buying my own grooming products, Dear would sometimes pamper me after a long tiring day by helping me apply some of her products. Before events like formal dinners etc., she would help to style me and also apply some of these facial products, like a facial of sorts! That was her way of pampering me and showing me love. (Jasmine: Oh he probably doesn’t want me to mention this, but I used to offer to tweeze his brows for him before special occasions. I called it “shaping” and “removing stray hairs” so it would not sound so feminine and thus off-putting to him.)

2. CLARINS MEN Eye Cream

Andrew’s Review: Eye cream was another product that I started using early in our dating days as my beginning teacher days were tiring and long, resulting in me having less sleep and evident dark eye circles. Of course, most women will say that men don’t need eye cream, because signs of ageing are less evident and not as important to men. That’s not true!

Anyway, the first ever eye-cream I used was Biotherm’s High Recharge Eye Shot, which was so aptly named and designed for a man (Do check out the pic!). One thing I’m quite amazed by for men’s products is the branding, which comes through the naming. Same product, but named in such a macho way… I still recall how hand cream for men was branded as ensuring you give the best hand-shake, as opposed to women where the branding is always about ensuring delicate skin, protecting your hands from the ravages of the environment.

Anyway, back to the Biotherm eye cream, it made applying eye cream so easy – and once again, had such a cooling, relaxing sensation on the eye because it was like an ‘eye’ massage. However, I stopped using it after a while, because it didn’t quite seem like it was having an effect.

Andrew: I’ve also tried the Kiehl’s Eye Alert, following recommendations from Augustman again, but just didn’t quite like it again, because it would leave a sticky feeling around my eyes after a while.

Finally, came back to Clarins again! I don’t use it as regularly, but it’s been the most effective thus far – or maybe I’m just resting more.

Jasmine’s Review: What Andrew is trying to say is that the Biotherm eye cream has a metal-tipped applicator. Also, I think it’s the other way round, dear- it stopped having an effect because you stopped using it 😀 But seriously, Andrew does have dark eye circles and we have yet to find a product that will combat this.

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: There are many funny memories I have of my wife  (then girlfriend) teaching me how to apply eye-cream and me failing badly because of my clumsy and brutish actions. LOL! Apparently, you’re supposed to gently dab the area around your eyes with the eye-cream, not use your finger to apply it on – which I sometimes end up doing anyway. I mean, if it’s that good, it should work any way you put it on, right? Occasionally, Dear will pamper me with her high quality eye-cream from… Hmm, what brand was that again, Dear? Cutely enough, before I started buying my own eye-cream, Dear used to spare small portions of the eye cream to me, using little make-up canisters (the one she bought me even had a cute penguin on it!). The portion she gave me was supposed to last one week, but sometimes I finished it within 3 days.  (Jasmine: Oh my… I had a few heart attacks reading this para. Well, I would apply my Lancome eye cream for Andrew, being careful to dab it on instead of just smearing it roughly, as that will stretch your delicate skin and leave it prone to further fine lines and wrinkles. However, it being a women’s eye cream, I always warned him that the effect might not be as strong for him. As for the penguin canister, that was hand-drawn by me… I think we might have accidentally thrown it away during one of our earlier decluttering crazes though!)

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3. Body Shop Maca Root Shave Cream

Andrew: Products (3) and (4) came slightly later on during our married days.

Walk down memory lane: Prior to using this shaving cream, I had been using an electric shaver for the longest time due to convenience and gentleness on skin. Even when I did use the shaving razor, the only brand I had used was Gilette, which was good enough for me. However, there was once during my Reservist days when my electric shaver just broke down and I asked my wife to get me the cheapest razor and shaving gel available – needless to say, she didn’t, and got me this Body Shop Shaving Cream instead and I’ve been using it since and not turned back to the electric shaver or Gilette!

Now, I have to say that Dear is also growing in her knowledge of the complexity of men’s products (yes, it’s complex too!) – in our earlier dating days, I told her that I was thinking of getting some after-shave. She secretly went to get me something from Clarins, only to realise later that it was shaving cream and not aftershave! I used it, so as not to put it to waste, but didn’t quite like it as much.

Andrew’s Review: Anyway back to the product itself – I think many times these grooming products thrive on psychological effect too. This shaving gel is very smooth, and after each shave, there’s a calming sensation on the skin, which makes shaving a more enjoyable experience than mechanically using an electrical shaver (the one I used was a low-end one). Best part is that it contains a mild cleanser, that helps me skip a step, as I can’t be bothered with the whole facewash, cleanser, toner regime.

Jasmine’s Review: After doing some research-on-the-go (e.g. walking to Watson’s while googling on my phone) for best shaving creams for sensitive skin, this came up in quite a few editor’s picks and had good consumer reviews as well. Plus, it was reasonably-priced. I understand that Dear has since bought a second tube! (Andrew: Third – actually.)

4. Clarins Facial Wash

Walk down Memory Lane: Not much of a memory for this one as it was merely me seizing on good deals at the airport as they sold both the Clarins moisturiser and this facewash in one package. The only memory would be Dearie’s Just buy it! response, when I asked her if I really do need it. Heh. That’s indeed her own philosophy. (Jasmine: It was going for the same price as the moisturiser alone, and you needed a facial wash back then…)

Andrew’s Review: The biggest benefit of this facial wash is that it’s soap-free, hence not drying on the skin. It’s very gentle on the skin and leaves me feeling refreshed after each wash.

As you can deduce, Clarins MEN is my favourite series. I even used to be a big fan of their handcream, until they stopped producing it. It was the only non-medical hand cream that helped moisturise while not worsening my eczema. Now, what I use is Physiogel A.I, which is specifically aimed for sensitive skin.

Jasmine’s Review: Forgettable. When it comes to men’s grooming, I tend to pick my battles and only zoom in on what Andrew really needs, instead of doing a three-step routine or whatever.  In fact, I was (happily) shocked that this entry was so long! I thought his only grooming essentials were moisturiser, shaving cream and hair wax!

Hair Products

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5. REDKEN Fiber Cream

Walk down memory lane: I have indeed come a long way from the days of Brylcream and ‘sticky’ hairgel, to using hair wax and clay and also being more aware of the techniques of hair-styling as I now get my haircut at salons, as opposed to $10 QB. This is actually the most recent grooming product I’m trying, and this is another instance of me asking Dearie to go to get me my hair wax, because I’d left it at our staycation venue, but her, being the attentive wife, immediately went to google good hair products and bought this for me – adding that this was actually not her top choice! I have to admit that for me, I just rely on what the hair-dresser recommends and affordability. Can’t really be bothered to google and read through product reviews.

Andrew’s Review: Was rather unused to initially as it’s more gel-like, as opposed to the usual dry cream that has to be rubbed on. This one can be more gently applied, but for now I’d have to say it helps to hold up the shape of the hair well, makes it look more natural and feels gentler on the hair.

Good buy, Dearie! Actually, it seems like a good trick to use if I’m too lazy to choose products now is to ask her to buy stuff for me. What should I get her to buy next…. New shampoo, body soap would be good, Dear – thanks! 

Jasmine’s Review: As Asian hair tends to be coarser than Caucasian hair, it’s important to narrow down the reviews to those which pertained to Asian men. I was actually looking for TIGI Bedhead Men Matte Separation Wax to pamper Andrew (usually he just buys some uncle hair wax from Econ minimart, to my horror), but due to time constraints, I just popped by a hair salon and asked for Redken. The hairstylist recommended this Fiber Cream as it is a texturiser more so than a wax, which means it gives a natural look which works especially well on men with shorter hair, and lends itself well to spiking etc. Also, it being a salon-grade hair wax, a little goes a long way.

Cologne

5. Davidoff Champion

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Andrew’s Review: Looking at the pic above, I’m sure you can tell why I was attracted to this Davidoff Champion cologne! Heh.  This was the first cologne I’d bought during our dating days. Love the light citrusy notes of the cologne, without being overly powering. That tends to be my preference for cologne in general.

They have since come up with Davidoff Energy, which is the same packaging but in red – which I don’t like as much.

Jasmine’s Review: Andrew was drawn to this coz of the “macho” packaging. I didn’t know it had citrusy notes (he must have googled that haha), but it does smell very manly without coming across too strong. I also taught Andrew how to just spray himself once or maximum twice from a distance, then walk through the mist, so that when he’s with people, it won’t feel like Hurricane Men’s Cologne has just walked through the room.

Walk down memory lane: This was the cologne I wore during many lovely dates with Dear during our dating days and even after we got married. In fact, this was the cologne I wore on our wedding day too!

6. John Varvatos ‘Artisan’

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Andrew’s Review: This was another DFS buy, recommended first by Dear, because she was drawn to the design. What a contrast to the more manly, modern look of the Champion bottle – this one’s more vintage and crafted. Scent-wise it’s lighter than Champion – I would say this cologne is more suitable for a more formal dinner at a classy venue, as opposed to Champion, which packs a bit more of a punch. 

Jasmine’s Review: I really adore this scent on Andrew, and prefer it to the Davidoff one, as it is subtler yet still woodsy and masculine. The packaging is also rugged yet earthy, which compliments the cologne perfectly. And I see Dear has taken the effort to photograph it with my garlic basket behind. Heehee!

My Little Grooming Corner

Andrew: To end off this post, one of the decisions we had to make when moving to a new house was obviously, where I would do my man-grooming each morning before going off to work! Dearie has her own dresser, which I obviously can’t use and it makes me feel less ‘manly’ using a dresser. So, we settled for using the guest bathroom, with this very basic stainless steel mirrored bathroom cabinet:

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We got this from one of the furniture stores near ABC Brickworks market and it was perfect because I liked it and the dimensions were perfect too, for the relatively small space we had. Obviously, it’s usually less tidy than this. Heh.

Wow, this post took longer than expected to write and was more meaningful than I thought it’d be. 🙂

Jasmine: Yes, do assume that the space has been neatened up prior to the photo! I just checked a few days ago (to see what hair wax Andrew needed me to replenish) and it was rather disheveled! But I didn’t say anything about it because it was his space and it’s all hidden from sight.

Actually, when Andrew saw how cozy my dressing area in our room was, he asked for an area of his own. So I hung up a vintage mirror with built-in cubby in my our dressing area, but it did not provide enough storage for his burgeoning collection, as you can see. Hence, hubby’s stuff had to be moved to the guest bathroom!

Babymoon @ Shangri-La Valley Wing

Jasmine: With the contractions and risk of early labour, we decided to play safe and not travel out of the country this June hols. However, we still wanted a babymoon to recharge ourselves, so we splurged on a staycation at the Shang!

We were initially booked in for a staycation at the Garden Wing, but upon check-in, we were offered a $75 upgrade to the Valley Wing. Now, Shang has 3 wings, each with its own feel and branding- the Tower Wing is catered to business travellers, the Garden Wing more for couples and families who want a lush oasis in the city, and the Valley Wing is the premier wing, where VVIPs stay, including President Barack Obama.

This was what our package included:

  • Complimentary all day bites and drinks (coffee/ tea/ juices/ wines), including afternoon tea (until 11 p.m.)
  • Breakfast: either international buffet at The Line or fine dining at Summit Room
  • Champagne, cocktails and canapes from 5-7 pm
  • $50 dining credit, to be used at any of the Shang restaurants or for room service
  • Hourly shuttle to and from Orchard Road

Enough explanation… We’ll let the pictures do the talking!

Our Room

Our room was the most spacious one in  its category, located on the 12th floor with a view of the pool and small putting green.image

View from our room of the Garden Wing, where we almost stayed

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A well-stocked stationery drawer for business executives e.g. not us…

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The room even had a dressing area with lit vanity!  

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A walk-in wardrobe area leading to the bathroom

IMG_5706 Andrew walked into my walk-in wardrobe picture…

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And the marble-clad bathroom, which my photograph does not do justice to.

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Exclusive to the Valley Wing: L’occitane toiletries. The bathrobes are also monogrammed with VW for Valley Wing.

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All day bites

Jasmine: What a wonderfully pampering concept. We both agreed that our $75 upgrade was well spent as we had breakfast, two lunches (actually afternoon teas) and dinner (actually cocktails and canape hour) there! (Our original package at the Garden Wing would have included international breakfast buffet only but not the fine dining breakfast option that we took at the Valley Wing).

Andrew: Now, when the receptionist offered us the upgrade and told us there will be all day ‘snacks’, I was thinking of chips, chocolates and the likes – little did I know that their snacks would be things like tarts, cakes, free flow sandwiches etc. I even asked a swa-koo question of whether the snacks would be in the room. Needless to say, I was a very happy man!

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Jasmine: All our meals were served at the wonderful Summit Room, which I really liked, because it was stately and yet calming at the same time. A circular room provides better flow, and half the room was done up in Chinoiserie panelling, while the other half had floor-to-ceiling windows which opened up onto a view of the greenery and pool. I entertained the thought of a small 10th wedding anniversary celebration here (Andrew: She’s completed her planning for the 5th wedding anniversary and gone on to planning the 10th…), but was told by our kindly waiter that this room is not bookable for events, it’s only used as a breakfast room for Valley Wing guests. That’s how exclusive it is… sigh.

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We opted for the fine dining breakfast option at the Summit Room as we had experienced international breakfast buffets elsewhere…

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In addition to the healthy buffet spread (this pic below shows less than half of it), we could also place orders for anything we wanted.

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Andrew: The rest of the breakfast buffet was the usual croissants, breads and muffins, which obviously we didn’t want to waste our stomach space for, since we had free flow cooked breakfast options! There were so many things to choose from the menu that we were spoiled for choice.

Jasmine: We designed our own three course breakfast menu. First course, appetizers of ricotta cheese with wild honey and some of the sweetest, fleshiest mangoes we’ve tasted (props to our wonderful waiter who also suggested seasonal dishes and foods that weren’t on the menu)…

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Second course, Eggs Benedict (but you can choose any style, really), which we could add an unlimited number of sides to, such as the tomato polenta cake, asparagus, tomatoes on the vine, portobello mushrooms and hashbrown. I also had a milk-fed cod fillet on the side (right), while Andrew had both a lamb chop and filet mignon (left)! (Andrew: You know it’s a super luxurious break when you have lamb chops and steak for breakfast! The waiter was even tempting me to get more meat! Honestly speaking though, the eggs benedict was only so-so. Fullerton’ Bay’s ones were much better, but I’m not complaining!)

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Third course, french toast with caramelised pears for Andrew and banana waffles for me (I requested a half portion as I was too stuffed at this point)!

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Andrew: I was completely stuffed by the end of this meal, but I just had to have French toast. Wonder if dads also get cravings during their wife’s pregnancies… Heh. (Jasmine: That’s fine, but nobody’s sending me out to buy French toast for you!)

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Jasmine: We of course also had both hot and cold drinks to wash all this rich food down- cafe latte and freshly-squeezed watermelon juice for Andrew, and ginger honey tea and iced chocolate for me!

Andrew: One thing I’d also have to add about the experience at the Summit Room was the great service! The service staff were attentive and friendly, very willing to customise the dishes to our preferences and suggesting good dishes for us. They would go up to you once you’d finished getting your stuff at the buffet and help bring your plate to the table. They also actively engaged us in conversation and made us feel very relaxed and well taken care of.  I really have to say that it’s great service that makes all the difference!

Service at Shang in general is top-notch – the lady who served us at the Garden Wing was also very friendly and personable, offering us free flow of their welcome tea (apple and osmanthus), which Dearie gladly took. Compared to the other hotels we’d stayed in, I’d say this was the best service we have experienced so far.  (Jasmine: completely agree, even the receptionist who did our check-out seemed so genuinely apologetic when I told her that I wished the hotel would have a selection of pregnancy pillows. She even rushed out to bid us farewell when Andrew drove up.)

Jasmine: We also did not one but two afternoon teas there.

We could help ourselves to all day bites from the bar, which included fig lychee tart, cranberry oatmeal cookies, an assortment of Shangri-la truffles (I kept going back for the crispy ones) and chocolate cake…

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And our very own (refillable) afternoon tea cake set. Warm, buttery scones with clotted cream, berry jam and marmalade were also served separately.

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I also had peppermint tea and mango juice, while Andrew had champagne… Seriously, who drinks champagne at 2pm?? Only at the Shang!

Result: happy like bird!

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Finally, cocktails and canapes! Also note the intricate Chinoiserie panelling- a wonderful nod to Shang’s tradition of fine Asian hospitality, the most important aspect of which is pampering their guests with food! I also overheard the receptionist say that Singapore’s Shangri-La is the very first in the world and is 43 years old, but I guess glamorous opulence never goes out of fashion…

Now, the only other place we have had Club privileges at was Hotel Intercontinental, which trust me, had nothing on Shangri-La in terms of their cocktail hour. We did not expect such a variety of sweet and savoury canapes…

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In addition, the waiters served hot snacks from the kitchen, such as mini beef rendang pies, mini fish fingers and chicken buns. My personal favourites, though, were the cream cheese and chive choux puffs, and the chocolate-encased lemon meringue tart.

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Andrew: This was my first platter below…

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Roasted beef with Asparagus Rey Crouton, Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel, Smokced Chorizo Cornichorn on Farmer Bread and Herb Cream Cheese Choux

I loved loved loved the cream cheese choux so much that I went back for more, even while they were clearing the trays. Such a tasty yet light and healthy spread. I could definitely have done with one more day of such pampering.

Jasmine: Cocktail-wise, I couldn’t take alcohol, but the waiter mixed up Shangri-La’s signature Lily of the Valley drink for me. He was quite secretive about the ingredients, so I had to ask him twice, but he told me it includes guava, lemon, mango juice and a dash of grenadine syrup! Very nice tropical drink- slightly bitter edge but light and refreshing!

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We’ve been to Fullerton Bay and St Regis and enjoyed their live pianists… But of course Shang had to top them all by having… a HARPIST. I felt like I was in heaven.

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We actually just wanted to grab a few quick snacks before heading off for our dinner reservation at Salt Grill, but the cocktail and canape spread was so extensive that we ended up eating “dinner” there and cancelling our reservation! In fact, as the bar closes at 11pm, we also came back after our shopping trip for a second Lily of the Valley for me and pinot noir for Andrew!

And for those who were wondering, this is the other international buffet breakfast option at The Line (note: we didn’t actually eat there but just strolled through it)…

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Buns and bread baking right before our eyes!

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And a variety of gelatos, ice creams and toppings for those of us with a sweet tooth! For breakfast, they varied it and used this ice-cream counter for their yoghurts and bircher muesli. Creative!

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$50 dining credit

Andrew: We were hoping to use the dining credit for in-room dining, but turns out most of the dishes there didn’t look too appetizing and grossly over-priced. I wasn’t going to pay $18 for a mushroom soup… So, with our $50 dining credit, we went to The Line bakery!

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Jasmine: Nope, we didn’t buy this penguin cake for Dylan, who was doing his own staycation at the Skang (Granny’s house in Sengkang, which also offers all day bites of free flow muffins and milk, plus live pianists aka Ee Ee)…

Just ordered a couple cakes, a sausage roll, frozen berry yoghurt and a box of 12 chocolates for my family…

IMG-20140609-WA0024Chocolates from Shang, paired with Ben & Jerry’s 

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The pomme cake was our favourite- it was their cake of the month, a cross between a cake and a tart, made of stewed apples sandwiched between layers of mascarpone cheese. Surprisingly, it was light and zesty!

Andrew: Unfortunately the rest of the pastries/cakes were rather typical, but we’re not complaining since we got to use our credit. They do seem to do rather good personalised cakes though!

Facilities

Jasmine: We also booked a pregnancy massage for me at the famed Chi Spa while Andrew used the gym facilities.

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Actually, Chi Spa does not offer prenatal massage, but they customised one for me based on a light Swedish massage. Ask and you shall receive…

This was one of their massage rooms.

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And after the massage, the therapist brought me to their Relaxing Lounge, gave me warm ginger tea, spread a blanket and told me to rest as long as I wanted. It was absolute bliss. After spending the 90-min massage awake and visualising renovations, I could just feel my mind emptying out and de-stressing in this lounge. Heh.

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Andrew: The gym was huge, with a wide range of machines and weights not seen even in the more luxurious hotels we’ve stayed in, who honestly often place very low emphasis on the gyms. The gyms at Raffles Hotel and Fullerton Bay were tiny and ill-equipped. This gym at Shang had equipment I’d not seen in other gyms like kettle bells, elliptical trainers, indoor rower, weights machines targeting the obliques etc. You name it, they have it! And even with all this, it was very spacious.

Shopping

Jasmine: And since we were only 10 min drive from Orchard, we just had to squeeze in a bit of shopping for the family!

Some Eric Carle books for Dilly and a pair of Fred Perry shoes for Andrew (he made some excuse about there being a 20% off with my credit card so I paid for that)…

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Jasmine: And I was looking for a bag as my previous had given way a month ago and I was still trying to make do by knotting the strap onto the bag…

All my bags are under $200 and I typically carry one bag, everyday, for months until it breaks. So this time I really wanted to indulge in a high-end designer bag that would last for years.

I checked Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and finally wandered into Dior, where I bought this Diorling bag in less than an hour. (Andrew: Am always surprised at how decisive Dearie is when it comes to shopping.)

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Hrmm.. I know these are signature to the brand but I don’t care much for the letter charms that spell Dior. Ah well, I suppose it will be useful as a travel sensory toy for Dylan.

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The wonderful salespeople, James and Mona, also happened to be the same lady and gentlemen who served us last year when we bought the Dior Oui ring, and they recognised us this time! The last time, Mona, the Grand Vendoir of the Dior boutique at Ion, actually showed me a coffee-table book and regaled me with stories about Dior’s stunning jewelry designs and her trip to Paris to meet the designer, Victoire de Castellane! This time, she gave me two coffee-table books about Dior jewelry and invited us to the opening of the Baby Dior boutique at MBS! You can’t get these books in Singapore, even if you tried, and on Amazon the blue book retails for $75 USD! What a wonderful gift!

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I know I don’t look great here but since I have been so lax in taking bump pix, here is one of me at 33 weeks pregnant. Although this Diorling bag is small, it’s made of butter-soft calfskin, and has three compartments, which are roomy enough to fit all my stuff. I also love the candy pink colour and am surprised that the colour somehow seems to match most of my outfits, perhaps thanks to the bag’s contrasting neutral sides!

Ending with a selfie of us!

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Hands down, the most indulgent staycation ever!

Andrew: What I really enjoyed and appreciated was the quality time with Dearie. At home now with our dear son Dilly, we barely have much time to set aside to just talk and spend time with each other. After Dilly goes to bed, I’m sometimes so tired that I also can’t focus on having a proper conversation with her. This Shang staycation was so perfect as it gave us so much time, in such luxurious and relaxing settings that we could just have great connection time, talking about geeky topics like politics and all. Indeed, the best staycation ever!

Dylan Reviews Hipster Cafes

Dylan: So I heard Mummy and Daddy used to be quite ‘hip’ and always visited many cool restaurants and cafes before I was born. Well, they are trying to revive that lifestyle again, but I’m going to tell you exactly what I think – instead of Daddy’s usual boring write-ups on the food and Mummy’s lengthy descriptions of the decor *yawn*… (Andrew: Well said Dylan – except the part about my boring write-ups! Those are thoroughly researched alright….)

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Dylan: When Daddy told me, we were going to a coffee place, I thought it was just the coffee shop downstairs.. so I dressed just like one of those uncles you see at the coffee shop. Check out the pic below – in my uncle-y shorts, loose t-shirt and the belly scratching!

Mummy says the shirt is from a classy French baby clothing brand, Petit Bateau, and it feels sooo soft, even after repeated washes. Okay Mummy, so it’s a classy uncle shirt!

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Dylan: Little did I know that it was actually going to be this upmarket place with many ang mohs as well as youngsters who looked Singaporean but talked in such funny faux American accents! There was a group of three Aussie girls sitting right in front of me and of course, they were amused by how I was happily clapping and nodding along when Mummy was saying grace. Before we left, this middle-aged auntie also kept playing with me, saying how cute I was… I’m such a babe magnet. (Mummy: you call that auntie a babe??)

One thing I don’t like about these cafes is how squeezy they are…. totally not Dylan-friendly! The good thing is that Tiong Bahru Bakery has baby chairs. Daddy hates crowds and squeezing amongst people, so he wasn’t in a photo-taking mood and didn’t take any photos of the food they bought.

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Mummy took one picture of this burnt bun above, with vegetables inside. Wonder why we had to drive so far just to eat a burnt bun… Isn’t burnt food Mummy’s specialty, according to Daddy? Mummy loved it though. (Mummy: Actually Dilly, this was a squid ink bun, and its distinct  flavour contrasted the umami taste of the  smoked salmon, parma ham and pesto.) Whatever Mummy – it was burnt!

Daddy ordered a ham and cheese baguette, but kept complaining about how hard the baguette was. Seriously, Daddy, don’t you have like…. five times more teeth than me? After eating about a quarter of it, he started to tear pieces of the baguette for me to chew on. Am I not the luckiest baby ever – I get Daddy’s leftovers! I kept chewing on it, even twenty minutes after leaving the cafe:

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If you can see clearly, I’m still holding the piece of bread in my hand. Wonder what Daddy was complaining about it being too tough… I loved it lots – was great for teething!

[Andrew: We didn’t take any photos of the food, but we enjoyed their classic croissant, the kouign aman (try the Mandarin one, if you want something different!) the lemon tart as well as the vanilla millefeuille.]

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

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Dylan: The next place Daddy brought me to,  I dressed more stylishly – in my hip Uniqlo terry romper with car prints now, showing off my fleshy thighs! Isn’t that the in thing now… like hot pants? (Mummy: baby, I don’t know what Daddy’s been teaching you about fashion, but hot pants are never in.)

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Didn’t quite like this place cos they didn’t have baby chairs and it was all bar-seating. Daddy actually knew about that beforehand, because he made the effort to call the cafe, but he still wanted to bring me here, with the stroller as my high chair. This is how determined he is to revive his ‘hipster’ lifestyle…

Oh but one really cool thing about these places! I always get served the exact same porridge in the exact same porridge pot (Mum calls it Tiffany blue polka dot, but I prefer to call a pot a pot)! It’s like someone knew I was coming and made it for me beforehand… magic!

Daddy and I are kind of wearing matchy clothes – my clothes have prints of cars on them, whereas Daddy’s has prints of little pieces of gold and mining picks! Gold-digger.. get it??

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I was just hidden behind the bar counter, without a view of the baristas…. so I whined a little and Daddy had to carry me while eating his French toast – just like old days where he used to carry me with one hand while he ate! Ah, such great memories of old times.

Mummy and Daddy did enjoy the food here, but obviously these places weren’t meant for little people like me, so we didn’t hang around much. Also, Mummy wasn’t fond of the bar stools- something about sitting making her back and ribs ache. I feel your pain Mummy, I have to sit in the stroller all the time whenever you shop.

Apparently, Mummy and Daddy used to spend hours sitting around in cafes like these two, drinking coffee and listening to strange foreign jazz without any rhythm at all! I heard they called such times “dates” but my playdates are so much better…

Is that an adult’s idea of fun?? Bring back the playgyms, I say!

What Nobody Tells You About Post-Partum

Jasmine: With weeks before baby girl is born, I have decided to make a list to remind myself of all the things I learnt from giving birth the first time round. It is not all photoshoots and baby showers. Heh. (Andrew: Really – it isn’t?)

1. Expect to leave the hospital looking 6 months pregnant. It took 9 months for your uterus to expand to accommodate a baby, so 6 weeks for it to shrink back is actually considered pretty fast!

And I never understood why, but expect people to make mean comments about your post-partum figure. Someone said at the man yue that I “still looked six months pregnant” and three months after giving birth, someone else remarked that I still looked three months pregnant. It has never been ok to comment on a woman’s body, let alone a woman’s body after giving birth- those passing comments might not mean anything to you but post-partum women are VERY SENSITIVE. Keep your comments to yourself- the only acceptable comment is “You look great!” 

(If you want, however, I recommend the Belly Bandit- after my jamu massage, I wore this daily and it  (along with breastfeeding, this helped shrink the uterus back) helped to get my tummy back in shape. I suppose it will come in useful after buffets too, haha.

2. Expect a lot of blood. Incontinence sheets will save your bed linens.

3. Recovery is not easy. It could take 7-10 days for a normal delivery and up to a month for a C-section. I’ve seen superwomen up and about hours after giving birth; I am not one of them. I remember everything was painful- changing sides, getting up from the couch, and sitting? Oh my word.

4. Your milk doesn’t actually come in until Day 4, so don’t worry if baby is getting enough to eat or if he is crying a lot. Tune out those people who ask those questions, too. Until the milk comes in, the baby will be adequately nourished by the colostrum your body produces.

5. Baby is quietly alert in the first 60-75 min after birth. Ask the nurses to wait to wash and measure him. Put him to your breast immediately and enjoy the first precious hour of parent bonding.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being a new parent is life-changing and you will need time to adjust. Consult friends and Lactation Consultants for breastfeeding support- some LCs will pay you home visits for a fee. Hire a confinement nanny or ask your mum/ MIL to come to help out with baby so you can nap. If you don’t have a confinement nanny, stash lots of frozen foods or take up the offer of kind friends who are willing to cook or babysit.

Most importantly, your husband will be your best friend. He may have to help you with unglamorous tasks like taking the nanny marketing, or buying incontinence sheets, or exchanging maternity bras at the store. On Day 4, due to loss of pregnancy hormones, you may be inexplicably weepy- he will have to bear the brunt of it. Lean on him but also encourage him to gain confidence in taking care of baby by learning to change his diaper, bathe him, put him to sleep or even just carry him, and doing at least one of the abovementioned things for baby daily. Research shows that the messier and more unpleasant the task, the greater the bonding between caregiver and child… so delegate diaper duty to Daddy!

Andrew: Oh yes, I definitely do remember how awkward it was for me to accompany our confinement nanny to the market on Sunday morning – given that I have almost hardly ever stepped foot into a market, much less to do grocery shopping.

Well, for husbands, the attentiveness to your pregnant wife’s needs continues after she gives birth. You’ll be absorbed in quite a lot of admin duties like ensuring the birth cert is done, ensuring the house is well-stocked with necessary stuff for the confinement nanny, your wife and the baby, but do not neglect your wife’s emotional needs too at this point. Stand by her, support her, affirm her and be there for her when she needs you.

Am very thankful for the 5 days paternity leave that we have and my cousin even encouraged me to take another week of leave – just to be with her. Your wife will struggle with breast-feeding if she’s a new mum, so just be there next to her and don’t pressurise her in any way, but just encourage her that she’s doing well. The first few weeks when the new baby arrives is indeed an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs, especially for the wife, and your role as a husband (as always) is to be your wife’s stability. Things do get better gradually! 🙂