A Bearrific 4th Birthday at Build-a-bear!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Caden turned a grand old age of 4 on the 6th of January.

So I've been officially a Mum for 4 years... and what an experience it has been! From the first time I held the little boy in my arms, life has never been the same again. He's made me not only a different person, but a better one, because I find myself somehow more forgiving, patient, and friendly. He's also 'settled me down' a great deal, made me a lot more contented, and learn to take life as it comes. He's shown me how wonderful it is to love unconditionally, and be loved in return.

This little boy, once dependent on me for a great deal of things - is growing up right before my eyes. It's a bittersweet feeling when he hits little milestones in life. He makes me so very proud, but tears a little piece of my heart each time, knowing that soon enough, he will not need me so much anymore.

I love you more today than yesterday, and less than tomorrow.

Happy 4th birthday, our little one.

We celebrated Caden's birthday at Build-a-Bear workshop this year. We wanted a gathering with close friends, and Caden picked the people he would like to share his happy day with. We didn't have a large party (read: no extended family involved!) this time round, and it left me free to plan an activity which the kids will enjoy without having to worry too much about entertaining, accommodating and feeding the older adults!

We're not into that gender specific thing, and I didn't care that bears or stuffed toys are generally associated with girls. I thought that it will be fun for the boys and girls to make their own stuffed creation, and it will be so different from picking one up off the shelf.

The possibilities are endless!

I like that the Build-a-bear party packages are no-frills and with no hidden costs whatsoever. You only pay for what you choose - so the entire party, inclusive of a party host to keep the kids entertained - is considered complimentary. It's as good as purchasing a toy to stuff in store, multiplied by the number of kids.

The party host kicked off the celebrations by encouraging the kids to play some games, and participating in a little story telling session.

They were then taken to the 'pick a best friend' station, where they are free to choose whichever toy they like.

The birthday boy was kept very busy with deciding exactly which bear he wanted. He initially chose a rainbow bear, but changed his mind at the last minute, proclaiming that he thinks the rainbow one is 'better for girls'!

So he chose a camo bear instead, and told me he is reminded of machine guns when he sees 'Igor'.

The kids were then taken to the stuffing centre, where they decided on names for their new friends. They were also given little stuffed hearts to insert into their friends, to bring them to 'life'.

Their friends were then stuffed, with each kid pressing on the stuffing pedal to determine how much cotton goes into their friends. If they want them softer and more huggable, less stuffing is pumped in.

The toys were then sewn up and secured.

I was hoping Caden would take the pony!! No such luck. He barely even gave them a glance :( The long suffering husband then whispered to me: "I get one for you?"

Er... tempting! But AFTER the party, lest I look like the one who wouldn't mind a build-a-bear birthday myself. That said, the adults actually seemed to have had fun, too! We were all attempting to influence the kids of their friend choice, with the only thing stopping us from forcing our choices on them being that we should all behave like mature, responsible adults. :)

After the stuffing was done, they were told to shower and groom their friends. They were given little bear brushes to get rid of all the stray cotton or fluff on their newly minted friends.

They were then tasked to clothe their friends. With an array of outfits ranging from Superheroes to princesses, they were spoiled for choice!

Caden first chose an army uniform to go with his 'machine gun' bear, but changed his mind when he realised that the starchy feel of it means that Igor wasn't as huggable as he prefers him to be.

The bears were then given their own 'condos' to keep them safe.

And here are the kids with their new friends, made even more special because they were made with love!

Caden and his cousin Atienne. 

Here's Aden, whose Mum, Diana, is The Domestic Goddess Wannabe. She shares totally awesome recipes, kitchen tips and tricks on her blog!

Winston, the Blogfather, and Liza, Mother of Xander, are parents to Xander and his little sister Yvie.

Jordan loves all things pretty and girly and sweet. Her two brothers, Evan and Dylan, prefer to remain anonymous. Her mum, Shereen, never ever puts all her diapers in one diaper bag!

One bad thing about a party at Build-a-bear is the fact that they do not allow food or refreshments within the store for hygiene reasons. I find this totally acceptable given that they are a retail store. However, they are able to make an allowance for packed drinks, snacks and a birthday cake to be put out and consumed near the entrance of the store.

We opted to host lunch elsewhere, because what's a party without real food? None of those fancy cakes or finger foods for me - I'm extremely particular about the fact that all our guests have to be fed well regardless the time of the party. It's the least a host can do to thank the guests for taking the time to attend! 

After our fill of fries, wings, pizza and pasta at Modesto's, Caden got to cut and enjoy his strawberry shortcake - which happens to be his favourite cake. Not any strawberry shortcake - but one from a particular Japanese bakery, which admittedly is worth the calories involved!

...and once our back was turned, he started smooth talking Jadelyn.

Thanks to everyone who came and made Caden's 4th birthday a fabulous one. It was great to catch up, and we hope that everyone had as much fun as we did!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post nor an advertorial. Caden and his friends had a truly fun time at Build-a-Bear workshop, and we'd like to share it with you!
Thank you to Adeline of ABSOLUTE, and Packrat of Diaperbag - for some of the pics featured here.

Listen! (Do you want to know a secret)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sunday evening, 10.40pm.

I just want to remind all of you single men (and women) out there that sometimes, dominating a conversation not by your wit or wisdom but by the amount of syllables coming out of your mouth is such a total turn off.

Not only does it make you look self centred, it will also make you seem totally incapable of sensitivity. The world does not revolve around you... and a person who talks too damn much about themselves simply shows a lack of intelligence - especially when it comes to human and social interaction.

A good listener is so much sexier.

Perhaps it may be that still waters run deep - but that's the general idea, people! On the other hand, keeping too quiet and intensely brooding would just simply show a lack of interest, or worse still, it may make you seem 'coy' or that you're trying too hard to make an impression.

Some people know how to maintain that perfect balance. Others don't. Perhaps that's the distinguishing factor between the people who can always pique and intrigue anyone they so choose, as opposed to some who would just be automatically excluded from any gatherings, or written off after that first date.

The bad guys (and girls) usually have this trick placed down pat. It may be 'manipulative' to a certain extent - but hey - when it comes to humans and our social interactive skills, who isn't? Maybe only those who are simply content to sit back and watch the world go by from the back of the room.

When you listen well, many people will open up to you. 
You will then always have the upper hand.


Volvo XC90 - Make a Bold Statement.

Monday, 10 November 2014

This is not your typical car review. If you are expecting exciting car specs and technical features of the Volvo XC90 T5 R-Design, then you've come to the wrong place. I wouldn't know how many horses it takes to drive this car, nor would I know how fast it takes to accelerate from 0-100km/h. I'm clueless about chassis, gearboxes, and brake distribution. I wasn't listening when the husband droned on and on excitedly about these.

I was simply enjoying how the car rolls. How comfortable it is to travel in an almost velvety silence, without being bothered by bumps and uneven roads. How wonderful it is to have the kid nap every.time. the drive lasts more than ten minutes. I'm big into aesthetics. And fierce, muscular, boxy cars. I don't want to delve into things which I wouldn't really bother about if I drive a car.

This Volvo experience is, after all - written by a woman.


I've always had a thing about Volvos. I'm not sure if it started when my father told me way back when I was in Primary school, that Volvo in Latin means 'I roll'. Since then, every time I see a Volvo, I expect it to just roll - smoothly, silently, over hill and over dale.

Volvo cars always scream understated chic to me. They aren't as ostentatious as another luxury brand, which is the preferred choice of gold wearing businessmen, nor as flashy as those which most 80s and 90s yuppies choose to drive. I tend to associate Volvos with men who are in serious professions yet have a quirky side; they aren't content with just telling everyone that 'they have arrived'.

I think there's something about Volvos being a 'man's car'. Very rarely do we see ladies drive them - maybe because they are too 'sharp' to lure females.

Top: The Volvo 700. Bottom: Volvo 850 Estate

I remember my Mum told me about her friend who refused to sit in her husband's Volvo Estate because she thought it was a morbid looking thing, and her husband had to buy another car just to appease her (methinks it was just a ploy). I wonder if she would think the same way now if he came home with this:

Talking about a 'manly' car, even their models have always been about alphanumerics. No cutesy names which seem to be de rigueur in Japanese car models. V40, V70, S60, XC70, XC80, XC90 - starkly simple, yet functional, perhaps in reverence to the fact that most men are bad with names!

Seriously though - I absolutely love how HUGE this car is. It's muscular yet debonair, thanks to the clean lines which flow seamlessly, much like a photoshop effect. It definitely is designed to provide that 'WOW' factor, take your breath away, yet allows you to recover it in time to bundle 4 - 6 kids in with relative ease. This 7-seater is designed to be a people mover, and is an urban Mum's dream!

Child proof, inside AND outside.
When driven as a 5-seater, the spacious boot accommodates even the bulkiest stroller (or two), along with bric and bracs needed for a day out at the beach, road trips, or carting cakes without any worry about spoiling their frosting! (ok that was so random, but it just seems like the perfect solution for all the times I have had to carry boxes of cupcakes with icing on my lap!)

How many Cadens does it take to fill the boot?
The 2 extra seats fold in to create ample space, but easily pops up when there are additional passengers. Nifty!

Now you see it, now you don't!
Whilst we are on the subject of seats, Volvo has touted their seats to be the 'most comfortable in the world', thanks to consultation with orthopaedic surgeons in order to bring us the most ergonomically designed seats, which is perfect for long distance trips. I was sceptical at first, thinking that the seats look pretty standard - but I was proven terribly, terribly wrong.

You know that sense of satisfaction when you find a perfect, comfortable position as you curl up on a chair or a couch? When your whole body relaxes and allows itself to be moulded onto the seat. That's the feeling I get every time I settle in the car. Regardless whether I sat in the front seat, back seat, or the additional boot seats. It's almost instinctive... like my body sending signals to my brain: "Hey, how's this for comfort?!"

In addition to that - those leather seats were not only comfortable, they did not trap heat. Even when the car has been parked under the blazing sun for hours, they remained cool to the touch. The car's interior also remained comfortably cool despite the heat outside. I don't know what the people at Volvo did (I did not detect any visible window coating), but whatever it was - it works!

The Small (but very necessary) details

1. The entire car can be turned into a mobile phone. 

Using a simple bluetooth technology, you can keep your eye on the roads, and be able to answer or make urgent phone calls using just the keys within reach on the dashboard.

2. One touch control via the dashboard

Gone are the days when you have to manually check child locks, adjust air con vents, and turn down the music just to please one passenger. These can all be done by simply activating a few buttons on the dashboard. So useful for Mums on the go!

Other driving details necessities are a thumb touch away.

3. Individual features to please each and every passenger

Direct air con vents on the back seat which can be adjusted to any angle. Individual down lights (a la plane cabins!), speaker volume selection and cup holders. Ample leg room at the front and back. Now that's really pleasing everyone!

4. Night time drive

When the kid asks me to find his dropped toy in the car at night, it drives me nuts. Groping around dirty car mats isn't my idea of fun after a long hard day at work, and it's worse when it's a stray cookie crumb or cracker which I absolutely have to find there and then to avoid pest infestation!

That's why I appreciate that Volvo has designed a car with attention to all these little details. It's a car made for families, with enhancing features to make every ride easier and safer for all.

One bulb closer to world domination!

5. It puts kids to sleep.

I have no idea why, but Caden has fallen asleep every time he sits in it over the weekend. He totally forgets about playing games on Mummy's phone, singing songs at the top of his voice to terrorize his parents, and asking incessant questions to stump his Mummy. He goes all quiet, looks out of the window, and falls asleep.

I know that kids usually sleep in cars and trains and moving vehicles, but I suppose the comfort and smooth drive, on top of the lulling motion - proves too irresistible for the kid. 

Other details (which the husband thinks is necessary)

1. It performs amazingly on slopes and steep inclines.

"It's effortless, and I don't even have to rev the engine in the slightest bit!" 

Amazing cruise control. You betcha!

2. It's a very stable all terrain car, with the bonus of a turbo powered engine.

We went for a joyride round Singapore's expressways, with Rock of the Ages blaring on the stereo, the kid oblivious to the noise, the rain pelting down, thunder and lightning in the distance and the husband absolutely enjoying the drive.

Need I say more?

3. Prudent fuel consumption for its 2.5l engine

My in laws stay in the East, we stay in the West. Caden's school and day care is near my in laws' place, and my husband's office is in Ubi - so this involves us having to drive long distances every morning and evening, When we look for a car, one of the most important determining factors is its fuel consumption, and the XC90 fulfils that criteria fabulously. It's pretty amazing given its size and bulk, and we were expecting it to be a guzzler of an SUV.

After a weekend drive all round Singapore, going up and down expressways, to the East, West, North and Southernmost tip of the island - the gauge showed barely under 1/2 of a tank used! 

Now, this is the thing which strikes me most about the XC90. It's muscular and a huge hulk of a monster car. Yet there's a softness about it, somehow... in the way that the interior envelopes you in comfort, and you somehow feel safe, cocooned in its luxurious interior. It's a rugged car, but it doesn't feel a need to boast about its prowess, preferring to let you get used to it, and then you make subconscious comparisons when you sit in other cars.

I like the Volvo XC90. I think you will, too.


Disclaimer: This post is made possible by Volvo Singapore. All opinions are our own, including having to deal with the kid who misses the 'awesome car' the most.

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