Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jawbone UP is in Singapore

Even with all the hype and hoopla around wearable technology these days, I wasn't really interested about these devices until my husband told me about Jawbone UP. He was blatantly hinting about wanting it for Christmas last year but there was a glitch with the first edition and they had to do a recall and test it all over again. Still, that didn't deter me. It seemed such a holistic device - it can track your sleep patterns, your eating habits and your exercise and movement and churns out super sexy data (yes, data can be sexy) so you can figure out what you need to change with your habits so you can sleep, eat, exercise more and generally, live better.

Below are images from the Jawbone UP website:

And good news, it's now available in Singapore - look for it in Apple resellers (we got ours at iStudio in Novena Square), but it only seems to be available here in Black and Blue (which depending how you look at it can either be classic or boring). Retail price is SGD189, just slightly more expensive than US retail price, but then you'd have to figure out how to ship to Singapore which might be a bit of a hassle for some.

Here are pics of the actual Jawbone UP.

Great design idea - having the plastic fit guide as part of the packaging (see that oval-shape above) so you can measure your wrist without needing an actual tape measure.

My husband demonstrating the Jawbone UP in action.

Discreet label which is actually hidden from view, so the Jawbone UP just looks like a trendy rubber bracelet.

Can't wait to see how it works, especially the sleep tracker, my husband is such a light sleeper and can get quite grumpy when he hasn't had enough sleep so we're hoping this will help. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our 3D Visuals

After several meetings with the interior designer, a couple rounds of revisions to the 3D design, and visits to suppliers to choose tile and flooring; sink and taps and other bathroom fixtures; hob, hood and oven combo for the kitchen as well as lights for the whole apartment - we are finally ready to start the renovation. 

It is both exhausting and exciting at the same time. I can tell you nothing tests your communication and negotiation skills as husband and wife than going over design details. We argued over the choice of tiles for the bathroom; the brand of hob, hood and oven we would get; the brand of refrigerator - basically everything    . I'm just glad we sorted everything out and ready to now see the design come to life.

To be honest we weren't really going for any kind of theme and just wanted something modern-looking, minimalist and relaxing with the color palette mainly neutral tones - gray, white, black and some light and dark woods thrown in for good measure.     

Living Area/Dining Area/Play Space: This is actually a very long, rectangular area, with the dining area near the door, living room near the middle and play space at the other end where the windows were located. The picture above focuses mainly on the living room though because the design just needed to show what type flooring would be used (light wood but not as yellow as the picture, a bit more natural-looking) and whether it would mesh well with the built-in TV feature wall and console. We chose light flooring and will probably paint the walls white to have a more bright, airy feel to the area. There will also a red brick wall behind the sofa but isn't shown here as the designer said the brick wall effect doesn't really translate well in 3D drawings.

Kitchen: Originally I wanted an all-white kitchen but the realities of life and heavy cooking would render that kind of kitchen very hard to maintain and so we ended up having a darker tone for the area. I still have white cabinets though so part of the dream is still alive. A little to the right of the picture, beyond the sink, will be the trash chute area and I'm wondering whether we could set up a vertical garden somehow just above the trash chute. It will be near the window and will have access to sunlight and far away enough from the main cooking area - but will see how it goes. It will have to be a DIY project though since we're trying to keep to a budget here.

Common bathroom: We didn't really want a fancy bathroom, in fact, this bathroom is reminiscent of the bathroom in our old apartment in Moulmein - just white tile and dark gray flooring and yet it feels very relaxing. There was one thing hubby and I agreed on and that was getting the rainshower showerhead. The picture doesn't show but there are actually large industrial pipes to the left of the sink. We're trying to think of what color to paint the pipes. White seems to be the obvious color but black seems to be quite trendy right now as a color for bathroom fixtures so that's an idea too.  

 Bedroom: The flooring will be as is and we'll just sand and varnish the flooring so it looks new so the main change in the bedrooms will be the addition of built-in cabinets.

Hacking of the flooring and existing cabinets start next week. Here's hoping the renovation goes well.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back to Nature

Just some pics from recent jaunts to Botanic Gardens and MacRitchie Reservoir.

Andi is actually eating blueberries, not her fingers

Andi proving she's not camera-shy

Lexi eating strawberries. And yes, she eats like a monkey, storing extra servings in her mouth.

Lexi's lovely smile

Lexi on her Radio Flyer bike which her Daddy got for her at a ridiculously low price, secondhand through craigslist. Yes, I converted my husband and now we're both craigslist junkies.

Lexi at MacRitchie

Lexi at the water's edge

Lexi against a tree (I'm wondering where's Andi? I'm pretty sure he took both of them on this little excursion.) 

Lexi on the grass (Cannot find any pictures of Andi at all. Note to Daddy: Two kids = two sets of photos. Always, lest we be accused of favoritism.)

Fab new find: Magnetic playbooks

You know that feeling you get when you know you've done something right as a parent? Chosen that after-school class or extracurricular activity your kid just absolutely loves, bought that toy on a whim which in turn becomes her most favorite or found a new way to spice up story book time. I've experience that over the weekend when I found these super magnetic playbooks. 

First off, let me say that as a parent, I've been actively promoting my child's love of books, and I feel I've been pretty successful. But the challenge for me has always been finding new books for her to immerse herself in. I try not to introduce individual stories or books but try to find authors or a book series that she can like so when she does get interested in something, I can just go out and buy more of the same, at least until she's ready for something different. So far, I've found and introduced her to Jamie Lee Curtis, Eric Hill and the Spot book series, Karen Katz, and Dora the Explorer. 

She's currently in her Dora phase right now and we have about 20 books at home right now. My husband has forbidden me to buy more and I also think it's time for something different. Just in time, I found these fairy tale classics at the mall recently and they're illustrated very well, retold in a slightly more politically-correct way and now more interactive. Each book is hardbound and magnetic. As you read it with your child   there are questions/instructions at the bottom of the page and your child is supposed to respond by putting the accompanying picture magnets in selected scenes within the book. My daughter loves it!  

A slightly modern retelling of classic fairy tales 

Beautiful illustrations and you can put magnets on each scene

We have 4 books (these were the only ones available at the time)

And you can store the magnets afterwards so you can read and play with them again and again

Unfortunately, I bought these in one of those roving bookstore set-ups at the mall so I can't mention a physical bookstore for you to go to, but if you do chance upon this, buy them up and buy as many titles as you can. Guaranteed that kids will love this. 

Hooked on puzzles

My daughter is currently hooked on puzzles. While other children have stories at bedtime, we actually do a combo of puzzles and story books. Every night. And not just one puzzle, mind you, we do about 4 puzzles each. She likes it when she and Daddy or Mommy (whoever turn it is to put her to bed that night) work on the puzzles separately but she likes it more when she finishes her puzzle early and she gets to help out Daddy or Mommy finish theirs. 

I mentioned before in a previous blog post. that we started out buying puzzles so she could practice at home since she was doing them at school. These were the starter puzzles, 5 in a box, with differing number of pieces, starting from maybe 6 pieces all the way up to 10. But now a few months later, she can already work out 48 piece puzzles on her own.

If you have a child that's in preschool or even in school this would be a great activity to do at home. 

According to sensory edge, which is an online resource for anything related to children, the following are skills enhanced by playing with puzzles: 

Cognitive skills: Puzzles improve a child's problem solving and reasoning skills. It helps them to see whole-part relationships, increase their visual spacial awareness.

Fine motor skills: Puzzles are a fun way to improve fine motor skills. Fine motor manipulation is key for writing but children start learning this skill long before they can hold a crayon or a pencil.

Hand-eye coordination: As a child places each piece in the puzzle they are manipulating it to see if it fits. Their hand-eye coordination is enhanced through this trial and error process.

Social skills: Puzzles can be done alone but also a great way to foster cooperative play.

Of course, you still need to find the appropriate puzzles for your child though you don't necessarily need to strictly adhere to the age recommendation on the box. For example, we realized when we bought the starter box that she could already do all the puzzles in one go and so a week later we already moved our daughter up to 24 piece puzzles. 

Age isn't the only consideration, you need to check for quality of the material as well. Most will be in sturdy cardboard but for younger children, wood-based puzzles are better since they're only starting to manipulate objects and might handle puzzles roughly.

Design is also another area to consider. My favorite puzzles show not just pictures of cartoon characters but show the alphabet and various fruits and vegetables. So she can also learn something new while she's doing her puzzle.

Below are some of our daughter's puzzles:

 Fairy Floor Puzzle with large-size pieces bought from prologue.

Set of 4 puzzles based on Disney characters, 24 piece puzzles, wooden material and comes in a box bought from Toys'r'us.

Alphabet and Fruit and Vegetable puzzles, 48 pieces each bought from Robinson's. 

Ravensburger 3-in-1 puzzle set, 25- 36- and 49-piece puzzles. Winnie the Pooh design.

It's actually quite mentally stimulating and way more interesting than reading Dora books out loud for the nth time. A win win situation for both children and parents.