Category Archives: review

Special Review and Offer: MyMessyBox (ideas for indoor play on hazy days!)

After almost a month away on an extended work trip, I left a land of clear blue skies to return to a hot and hazy Singapore, in time to vote in the 2015 General Election. What a difference a few weeks makes.

As a mom, I became more intentional about play since B was around four months old – and I still am, even though he’s almost four now.  We would host messy, artsy playdates at home and look forward to discovering kindred spirits or new places that offered similar activities.  Messy-sensory play is a great way for kids to engage their senses and learn through exploration, discovery and meaningful play.

MyMessyBox provides our children, who are natural explorers, with the opportunity for observation and manipulation through a hands-on learning experience with play tools and materials that encourage sensory exploration. The monthly boxes make it easy to conduct purposeful, sensory play in the comfort of your own home.  Read on to find out more, and if you’re interested:

  1. Join this month’s MyMessyBox giveaway at this Rafflecopter link
  2. Get a 5% discount off your own MyMessyBox orders by using “FM5

Here’s what came in the “Way Up High” themed box that we received to review.  Quite appropriate too, as this has been a busy travel period for the family, and for mama especially.  IMG_4218

There are currently 13 themes for the individual boxes, involving a different theme per month, ranging from Under Construction to the Whimsical Garden.  One of these will be offered in this month’s giveaway.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.56.23 pmIn the box, you’ll receive three packs supporting the theme, thoughtfully curated for active, creative and explorative play.  Each pack is accompanied with suggestions on self-contained activities that are easy to follow as long (or brief) as you like. Or if you’re like us, you can leverage what they provide to combine and create your own project.

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MyMessyBox runs on a subscription basis:  Monthly (for S$34), 6 months (for S$192) and 12 months (for S$360).  The box also contains specially sourced tools for explorative play, i.e. a basic toolkit (for 6 months subscriptions) or a premium toolkit (for 12 month subscriptions).  Here’s the premium toolkit which came neatly stored in a plastic box:

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As I was making arrangements for B to join the first leg of my work trip (i.e. to Tokyo), we used this opportunity to learn about Japan. Utilising the Explorative and Active Play materials, referencing a library travel book with some guidance from mama, he made a collage of what impressed him about Japan – the red Tokyo Tower, tall skyscrapers (my office is in the Mori Tower), sakura (cherry blossoms) and Mount Fuji.  Can you spot them below?

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We also took advantage of the two theme-based craft included in the Creative Play pack, both were easy and entertaining enough to keep our 3.5 year old busy for a good 45 minutes … freeing mama to do some packing!

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Intently painting his airplane coinbank

There was also a wooden airplane base that involved some rather sticky stuff that B normally wouldn’t play with. At first he poked at it with the pincer (from the toolkit), and then, his index finger, and finally, got used to it enough to complete the project. While simple, this was a good reminder on why early sensory play benefits kids – as it helps them make sense of different stimuli and information.

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While we let everything dry, B “played with water” aka mopped the floor. Score for mama!

Given the daily 100+ PSI levels, our review is proving quite timely if you’re cooped up indoors all week. Why not try something different (i.e. no screens, no loud playgrounds, no malls) that’s fun for kids and keeps them occupied?

For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  Views expressed here are solely my own.  We received a complimentary MyMessyBox for purposes of this review. 

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Special Review and Offer: Pure Beginnings by Vines and Roots (15% off)

Hubby and I have fond memories of Africa. Beyond its immense beauty, nature, culture and history, it also has personal significance for us as we conceived naturally – after years of trying – upon returning from our South Africa roadtrip.  So it’s with much delight that I can share a little bit about Vines and Roots on this blog, with a special offer for our blog readers (details below).

Vines and Roots was founded by a mom who wanted to bring a touch of Africa to Singapore through organic body and skincare products. Made from natural ingredients with proven effectiveness, these products involve no animal testing, no preservatives, are biodegradable and sourced ethically to support fair trade in Africa. They recently launched a new line – Pure Beginnings – which is specially developed for little ones (safe from newborn on).

We had a chance to use and review five Pure Beginnings products:

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B lining up our Pure Beginnings samples

1. Insect Repellent:  Raining almost every day? Dengue fears again?  We’ve tried almost every (organic and normal) mozzie patch and spray. Sadly, most are rather ineffective for my bug magnet boy.  Worse, some of the cheaper brands smell terrible and leave a nasty, chemical or oily feel. Not this one! The Pure Beginnings repellent is 100% natural, DEET FREE, lightly scented with citronella, lemon eucalyptus, neem and lemon bush. It’s also thoughtfully designed as a roll-on tube so you don’t get your fingers dirty yet can still concentrate which area of skin to apply on for maximum effect.

2. Baby Berry Toothpaste: Featured in the Parents World 2014 Best Organic and Natural Products Awards, this Pure Beginnings toothpaste is excellent!  It’s fluoride-free with xylitol, safe to swallow and tastes great too – errm, yes I’ve tried it (I try anything that my son consumes, intentionally or accidentally).  B basically brushes his teeth 3x a day – when he wakes or after breakfast, before mid-day nap, and before bedtime.  He had no trouble switching from his regular off-the-counter toothpaste to this, and while he now knows how to gargle and spit, he’s also “tasted” Baby Berry and told me that he likes the raspberry flavour!

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3. Baby Bum Cream: I usually carry several creams in my bag for sensitive skin, occasional rashes, cuts and bites. With Pure Beginnings, I’ve found a multi-purpose cream that can treat diaper rash, insect bites and stings – saving money AND space! The Baby Bum Cream contains baobab, olive, lavender and tea tree oil, which give it natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The use of baobab is a nod to its unique African roots whose trees are associated with longevity, oil from its seeds used as moisturisers, and extract of the fruit delivers pre-biotics and antioxidants.

4. Baby Wash and Shampoo: Mild, rosemary and geranium scented, this all-in-one baby wash and shampoo also contains baobab extract, a common ingredient in the Pure Beginnings line. After using this for 2 weeks, we’ve yet to see any dry, rough patches on B’s skin – which he’d normally get with regular soap as he inherited my sensitive skin.

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5. Bamboo Baby Wipes: Most wipes are alcohol-based which dry or aggravate sensitive skin. In contrast, these Pure Beginnings wipes are quite gentle due to their organic aloe and baobab extract content. There’s also a slight soapy quality to it too – handy in a mess, especially with younger babies who still drool a fair bit, can’t reach or use regular sinks or aren’t potty trained yet.

Given my own history with ezcema, I was very keen to find affordable yet natural products for B in his early years.  I’ve scoured the net and malls comparing and testing most bath and body brands in Singapore. If you look beyond the marketing, many of them contain chemicals, synthetic fragrances, dairy, soy, nuts and gluten which may trigger allergies or aggravate rashes.  As such, I appreciate Vines & Roots efforts to be pure and transparent, with clear labels and active use of ingredients such as baobab extract,  lemon, citronella, lavender and tea tree. The Pure Beginnings line is a wonderful addition with its natural range of kid-friendly, effective and appealing products.

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Thumbs up to Pure Beginnings!

Just for our readers:  Vines & Roots is offering an exclusive 15% discount for all  purchases using our blog code “FINALLYMAMA”.  Keen to try but don’t know where to start?  Check out the various gift combinations available such as this sample travel set below.

A 100ml baby wash and shampoo, 100ml baby body lotion, a 50ml baby bum cream, and an embroidered cotton facecloth, lovingly selected in this lovely compact pack

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Special Review and Giveway: Six Karen Katz Lift The Flap Books (Bilingual)

Your boy is playing with his favourite bus/water gun/thingy.  His friend eagerly comes over and tries to snatch it away.  “B, please share?” “No!  Don’t want!” Tantrum ensues. Sound familiar?

Toddler hitting, screaming, biting and throwing are common behaviours that they’ll need to (un)learn – but that process can be challenging! Karen Katz offers some help with a series of delightful little books filled with adorable, true-to-life illustrations, and clear, simple and repetitive text. Thanks to Read With Me Mommy, this series is available in a compact set of six bilingual books in English and Chinese: I Can Share (我可以分享), No Hitting (不打人), No Biting (不咬人), Excuse Me (对不起), Best Ever Big Brother (最好的大哥哥), Best Ever Big Sister (最好的大姐姐).

Complete set of 6 bilingual books
Complete set of 6 bilingual books

What we like: It’s bilingual!  So you get a double 2-in-1 deal – reinforce behaviours AND learn key phrases in English AND Chinese as you enjoy reading it over and over together 🙂 As with other Karen Katz books, the text is separated from the pictures, each in their own page, making it easier for kids who are learning to read. Many tots actually memorise the story or conversation based on pictures, which is a great start to language development, but books like these take it one step further by helping them to focus on and recognise words, letters and characters. The whole page flaps cleverly reveal the right response, which usually involves “magic words” for proper manners or positive redirection for sticky situations like sharing and self-control. Note: This is best for 18 months to 4 years as it’s not in a board book format, so turning the pages and lifting flaps require a bit more control (and care).

As a bonus, the set also includes two books on growing up from the perspective of a 哥哥 or 姐姐, ideal for older siblings who are adjusting to a new baby at home. But even if you don’t have a sibling (yet – like us), it’s still relevant for your tot to read about big boys or girls who eat, sleep, read and go to the potty on their own 🙂

I'm a big sister
I’m a big sister

Read With Me Mommy is a user-friendly online bookstore which is conveniently organised by age (0-3 years, 3-6 years, 6-10 years, 10+ years) and book type (sets, board books, cloth books, etc.). There is currently a 5% discount promo for all DBS/POSB cardholders and free local mail delivery for ALL purchases.

As a special giveaway, Finally Mama readers stand a chance to win a brand new complete set of 6 bilingual lift the flap books worth SGD$24.90 with FREE local delivery.  Giveaway closed!  Just CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway and follow these steps:

1) Like Finally Mama on Facebook
2) Like Read With Me Mommy on Facebook
3) Comment below on who you’d like to get this for and why!