iHerb purchase #2

*Evil laugh*

Hubby’s colleague recently went to the US and we decided to take advantage of his cargo load access to get “some” stuff from iHerb yet again. We bought 12 items weighing a total of 3kg+ comprising vitamins, toiletries, cream and teas.

The parcel

Because the purchase came up to more than US$40 and was delivered to an address in US, the delivery cost was free! That’s quite a bit of savings there, considering the products themselves are already discounted and rather cheap. For instance, the Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Third Trimester Tea (US$4.79) which I have been sipping since the beginning of my third trimester is almost 3 times cheaper compared to Malaysia (RM14.85 vs RM41.90)!

Here’s what I bought (from left to right):

My 2nd loot

1. Alba Botanica SPF 45 Natural Sunblock (Green Tea) – For me!
2. Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash – For mm
3. Alive! Whole Food Energizer Multi-Vitamin – For Hubby (180 tablets can last him 3-4 months for around RM98 per bottle)
4. Rainbow Light Prenatal Once Food-Based Multivitamin – For me throughout breastfeeding months (150 tablets can last me 4 months for around RM98 per bottle)

5. Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Third Trimester Tea – For the last few weeks of pregnancy
6. Dr. Woods Soothing Lavender Castile Soap – Body wash for all
7. Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Always good to keep a jar of VCO around
8. XyliWhite Kids Toothpaste Gel Strawberry Splash – For E
9. Animal Parade Gold Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamin & Mineral – For E
10. Florasone Eczema Topical Cream – For E…it’s homeopathic
11. Motherlove Sitz Bath Spray – For post-partum recovery
12. Hyland’s Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids (not in pic) – For E…it’s homeopathic

That should be all we need from iHerb…for now 🙂

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My pregnancy portraiture by AzmirKhalid Photography

By AzmirKhalid Photography

Hot off the oven! Here’s the rather complete set of my pregnancy photos, taken at 34 weeks at our home sweet home. Okay, I am not sharing ALL 25 final photos that Azmir gave me (but definitely more than what I have uploaded in my Facebook) because some really didn’t make Joey’s quality control because…I look constipated! 🙂

We signed up for Azmir’s Buy 1 Free 1 – Package A (RM600) comprising:

– 1 session of pregnancy portraiture
– 1 session of newborn photoshoot
– 1 hour shoot each
– Usage of photography equipment
– 10-20 high resolution edited photos for each session

We are happy with Azmir’s prompt service and work so far. Prior to the shoot, I did my homework, searched Pinterest for compilations of great maternity shots and shared them with Azmir on that day. He was not only accommodating and adventurous, but also tried his best to produce the desired effects. He was receptive to trying out new things, spent over two hours at our house and gave us the edited photos within the time frame promised. The only downside is, it would be better if he’s a little more assertive in correcting poses/postures/imperfections and making his clients smile naturally. Striking a balance, that is! 😀

Our favourite of all!

This looks weird as it was supposed to portray the “Ready to pop!” concept but Hubby blew the balloon a little too big. Perhaps chewing gum would be a better bet!

What do you think?

I’m looking forward to the newborn shoot, scheduled a week after mm arrives!

2011 family vacation – Perth, Australia

Here’s a post-dated travel review about our holiday experience in Perth last year. This article was first published in Babytalk Magazine December 2011 issue.

Having had a wonderful farmstay experience during our honeymoon in New Zealand a few years back, we vowed to repeat the experience one day. So when E turned one in March, we started planning for our first overseas family holiday. He had a huge fascination with animals and always loved books that illustrate graphics of animals particularly sheep, horse, cow, duck and cat. The song ‘Old MacDonald’ worked like magic in catching his immediate attention every single time. The decision to go for a farmstay came naturally.

The relatively short plane ride of 5.5 hours as well as the similar time zone were the prime reasons we settled on Perth as our destination. As E wasn’t exactly a very good traveller or easy sleeper, the itinerary had to be free and easy and planned around his schedule.

Upon reaching Perth International Airport, we headed towards Swan Valley with our pre-booked rented car. We basked in the scenic countryside view as we drove past hills, vineyards and green pastures with sheeps and cows grazing the grass contentedly.

ACCOMMODATION

Settlers Rest at Swan Valley

Located just 25 minutes from the airport, the self-contained cottage of Settlers Rest Farmstay exuded the charm of a classic Victorian home set amidst a large private farm. According to the owner, Corrine Reside, the 100-year old house was rebuilt and restored to resemble the true Australian architectural farm cottage of the 20th century. This unique country home was tastefully decorated with yesteryear furniture, photos and antique pieces, complemented by the comfort of modern amenities. Don’t be alarmed to see a rusty treasure chest box and a coal-fired stove adorning the ambience around the house. On cold nights, the authentic wood fireplaces in the living area and master bedroom worked well to keep us warm.

Step out of Settlers Rest cottage and indulge in the beautiful countryside view

For a city folk like me, I found the historical home setting a tad too eccentric at first but as the hours passed, the strangeness turned into ease as I embraced the cosiness of the cottage. The dining room overlooked the beautiful farm and made waking up for a hot breakfast more than rewarding.

FACILITIES

Settlers Rest – Victorian-style bedroom

The rural cottage came with three bedrooms that accommodate up to eight guests. Cooking is possible here as the kitchen was completely equipped with everything you need to prepare a meal. Feeling adventurous, we drove to the nearest Coles supermarket at Midland Gate Shopping Centre situated approximately eight kilometres away to buy some food supplies and whipped up a simple yet sumptuous dinner.

Settlers Rest – There’s a fireplace in the living room to keep the cold nights warm

Other child-friendly amenities in Settlers Rest included bathtub with non-slip bathmats, bed rails, baby cot, high chair, DVD player, night light, electric blankets for the cold months and air-conditioner for warm days. There were also rubber boots for the little ones to wear when exploring the farm as well as a children’s playground just a few steps away from the cottage. With a washing machine and dryer at no extra charge, we could pack light and do our laundry there. The only downside was, the bathtub did not come with a detachable shower head which made cleaning the younger ones a little challenging.

ANIMALS IN THE FARM

E enjoyed feeding the animals throughout our stay at the farm

We woke up to the beautiful sound of chirpy birds singing happily the next morning. After a hearty breakfast, we headed to the horse stable outside the cottage. Upon seeing us, the goats rushed towards us for a treat of carrots. The horses and sheeps nearby got equally excited and started an animal choir to rally for attention. Amazed from seeing these animals in real compared to what he had always seen in the books and on TV, E stood there and stared at them for the longest time. Soon, three handsome llamas appeared to check us out. With huge adorable eyes and thick furry coat, they looked every bit cuddly but beware, these creatures are very cautious of strangers and would spit whenever one tries to feed them. According to Corrine, their observant and cautious traits made them reliable farm guards to ward off stray dogs and foxes from attacking the sheep and chickens.

The tame horses around the farm greeted us as we approached their paddocks

We took a leisurely stroll down the farm as we went from paddock to paddock feeding more horses. You won’t be able to miss Xena, the most friendly cow we have ever met. We were also lucky to be given a chance to meet Blonde, the 43-week pregnant mare whose foal was due the following weekend. I secretly wished that she would pop before we leave. Corrine explained that Blonde had previously mothered two other foals which went on to win many horse show awards.

At the end of the farm was a calm river amidst an Australian bushland – a perfect stop for picnic! Before making our way back to the cottage, we stopped by the chicken coop to pick up some freshly laid eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast and said hello to Racheal the rabbit. As the evening comes, relax and listen up for kookaburras calling in the distance.

OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS
Being Western Australia’s oldest wine growing region, Swan Valley caters more than just for wine enthusiasts and is a perfect destination for families and couples alike. Among the kids-friendly attractions include:

Caversham Wildlife Park houses over 200 species of animals, birds and reptiles in an environment closest to their natural habitats. Expect koala bears, wombats, wallabies, dingos, possums, owls and more. Feed the laid-back kangaroos and see little joeys snuggling up in their mummies’ pouches. The park is stroller-friendly.

An Australian marsupial, a wombat weighs between 20 – 35 kg
Getting upclose and personal with kangaroos at the Caversham Wildlife Park
Playing dead. Spot the joey’s leg sticking out of its mother’s pouch

Cuddly Animal Farm is great for kids! They get to pet, feed and interact with baby farm animals such as ponies, donkeys, lambs, calves, ducklings, chicks and more.

The Maze in Bullsbrook is a timber maze that also features a look-out tower, supa-slide, walk-in aviary and more small resident animals.

Margaret River Chocolate Factory is a must-go. Watch the manufacturing of chocolates, sample them and shop for delicious souvenirs. Before you leave, don’t forget to try the irresistible iced chocolate milk.

Oggies Ice-Creamery offers a mouth-watering selection of Australian ice-cream!

Windarra Honey’s products make thoughtful gifts for the parents and in-laws back home. Don’t forget to ask the owner which one is the queen bee in the bee-keeping box.

Shopping From K-Mart and Target to Big W and Myers, shopping for baby items in Australia can be an exciting experience. With a huge variety to choose from, we found that selected toy brands are cheaper compared to those sold locally, so don’t forget to hunt for great bargains there!

A native to Australia, the kookaburras are well-known for its laughing call

The trip opened up E’s eyes to the world of knowledge and brought much joy to him. From calling a horse ‘neigh neigh’ for the past few months despite our repeated attempts to correct him, he magically named it accurately for the first time ever during the trip. He has also learned to differentiate between varying temperatures, telling us it’s ‘cold’ whenever he touches a chilly surface now.

Although travelling with a child requires lots of advance planning and bulks of energy (plus some patience!), it was nonetheless a vacation to cherish in years to come. We thoroughly enjoyed the free and easy, self-drive trip and the wonderful Australian culture, nature and food. Most of all, it was about taking some time off from the mundane working life and spending quality bonding time as a family. We can’t wait for another vacation next year!

WHILE IN PERTH…
If you have a few more days to spare and would like to venture out of Swan Valley, these places are worth visiting too:

Freemantle Located only 30 minutes from Perth’s city centre, Freemantle offers an eclectic mix of art, food and architecture. The vibrant weekend market offers fresh fruits, vegetables, art and crafts, and local goods.

Besides arts and crafts, the Freemantle market offers fresh local foods too

Mandurah Situated around 45 minutes away from Perth’s city along a beautiful coastline, Mandurah is known for its protected waterways, beaches and boating and fishing activities. Sign up for a one-hour canal cruise and catch a chance to see wild dolphins in action. To complete the visit, stay a night at the luxuriously affordable Seashells Mandurah at approximately A$163 per night.

Breathtaking views of the ocean at Seashells Mandurah
The complete amenities in the one-bedroom apartment of Seashells Mandurah

VISITING PERTH WITH KIDS…

It’s useful to know that…

► Infants below one are allowed to sit on their parents’ laps while travelling in a taxi. For toddlers, they are required to sit at the back passenger seat using a seat restraint.

Medina Executive Barrack Plaza

► When travelling with children, it’s best to stay in self-contained accommodations such as serviced apartments. Besides privacy, you can pack light and bring along fewer clothes as they usually provide a washing machine and dryer in the room at no extra charge. Some come with laundry powder as well. The Medina Executive Barrack Plaza at Perth’s city centre is an ideal choice in terms of location, comfort and affordability (from A$162 per night).

► High chairs are widely available in restaurants and cafés, except in certain low-end ones such as Chinese take-away/dine-in and McDonald’s – so you may leave behind your baby’s booster seat.

► In a nutshell, Perth is a very child-friendly destination with baby changing facilities available almost everywhere.

► If you plan to self-drive, some car hiring companies offer the rental of GPS, car seat, baby stroller and portable DVD player to entertain the little ones during a long journey. Rental charges for these items start from A$2 to A$5 per day. We particularly like the one-stop services provided by Burswood Car Rental.

► Don’t forget to drop by the famous Corica Pastries (106 Aberdeen St Northbridge) for the most delicious apple strudels in town. One bite is never enough!

ddmm’s first possession!

Look what we got for ddmm recently?

A pre-loved Maxi Cosi Cabrio carseat!

We snapped this almost-new carseat/carrier during Kiddy Preloved Bazaar‘s three-hour online sale at RM450, around 50% off its original price. We figured that a pre-loved is more than adequate, since it will be used for a maximum of eight months only.

The blog owner, Yan, patiently guided me through and answered all my endless questions before the deal was finally sealed. We are very happy with the purchase as the carseat is as described – in tip-top condition with no tears, scratches, bobbles, rips or stains. The only downside is, Hubby had to make a 40-minute trip down to Kajang to collect it.

Thinking that it would be a waste of money considering how short-lived these infant carseats can be, it didn’t come across our mind to get a travel system during E’s time. Maybe it’s just E or maybe it’s the carseat, we reckoned that our current Group 0+ convertible carseat (suitable for newborn to 4 years) is a little too spacious for newborns, thus preventing them from feeling snuggled up and safe during a car ride. E was a small newborn at 2.9kg and seeing him in the big car seat was hilarious! Even the shoulder pads looked bigger than his head!

The ONLY time he slept in the car as a baby…when he was 1 month old

“Haiya, put pillows or towels to fill up the space la”, you say? Haiya, don’t like that la, let me buy mah…every mum needs their retail therapy okay! 🙂

That was how we arrived at the decision to get a Maxi Cosi this time around, with the hope that ddmm can feel more comfortable and sleep in the car. Better still, sleep everywhere we go…so we can just carry and run…and oh, drink our English tea in style 🙂

Pre-natal yoga in Petaling Jaya area

Here’s to share a summary of pre-natal yoga classes available around Petaling Jaya area:

SURYA YOGA
Instructor: Jo
Class duration: 1 hour
Fees: RM35 for one-time walk-in; RM250 for 10 passes (no expiry)
Schedule: Tuesday 10.30am – 11.30am; Wednesday 7.00pm – 8.00pm; Saturday 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Address: C-1-9 Jalan PJU 1/45 Aman Suria
Contact: 016-202 7417

Remarks: This is probably the busiest yoga studio I have ever come across so far. They conduct many classes at the same time in different rooms. Occupying the second floor of a shoplot within the hectic business vicinity of Aman Suria, it is easily accessible with plenty of parking spots after working hours and on weekends. Don’t forget to bring some coins for meter parking. I was expecting noise of cars honking and smell of food cooking from nearby restaurants but surprisingly, this is not the case for this studio.

The pre-natal yoga instructor is a mother herself and very approachable. While I feel that the room is a little crowded to accommodate six expectant mums, the class itself was rejuvenating and energizing. It gave me a really good stretch and the much-needed workout from my sedentary lifestyle of working in an office all day long.

There is also a one-time RM30 registration fee.

TRE YOGA
Instructor: Z
Class duration: 1.5 hours
Fees: RM120 for 4 classes; RM220 for 8 classes
Schedule: Sunday 11.00am – 12.30pm
Address: D3A-9 Dana 1 Commercial Centre, Jalan PJU1A/46
Contact: 016-602 6368
Email: treyoga@gmail.com

Remarks: I attended Tre Yoga’s Iyengar yoga’s classes for three months before deciding that the class was getting a little too crowded for me (I was literally rubbing shoulders with people!) and switched to another studio. Getting there was a challenge for me as traffic tend to be rather congested after working hours. However, parking is a aplenty as the Dana 1 business centre is still relatively new. It comes with two exercise studios complete with full-size mirrors.

Overall, I like both Carol’s and Z’s (can’t remember her full name) teachings as their instructions were clear and precise. Iyengar yoga uses supporting props such as ropes, blocks, blankets, chairs and belts to achieve the right postures and poses. However, I have yet to try out their pre-natal yoga classes.

UPWARD YOGA
Instructor: Ninie
Class duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Fees: RM50 for single drop-in; RM150 for 4 classes (validity: 1 month)
Schedule: Saturday 4.00pm – 5.15pm
Address: Bungaraya Complex, Persiaran Golf, Saujana Resort
Contact: 019-345 7600
Email: info@upwardyoga.com

Remarks: I first joined the yin yoga classes here and absolutely loved it. The instructor (can’t remember her name again) is a German lady who has a naturally soothing aura that calms those whom she teaches. I once fell asleep in her class – that’s how relaxing it was! Yin yoga focuses a lot on the lower half of our bodies and is said to increase fertility. I reckon that it probably helped me conceive too.

I switched to their pre-natal yoga upon discovery of my pregnancy. The instructor is Ninie, a very petite Malay lady who owns the studio and is also a strong advocate of everything natural and organic. However, things didn’t work out for me there due to the consistency of classes. I lost the momentum of attending the class after having them cancelled for three consecutive weeks. Recently, they announced that the studio will be closed for the entire month! I opted to burn part of the fees I have paid for 😦 They should have a replacement teacher for days like that, instead of just calling it off. To me, staying fit requires commitment and regularity.

ZEA YOGA
Instructor: Zoe
Class duration: 1 hour
Fees: RM300 for 10 classes
Schedule: Tuesday 11.45am – 12.45pm; Saturday 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Address: A-1-42A (1st Flr), Block A, Jln PJU 1/43, Aman Suria
Contact: 012-209 5464 / 012-576 5091
Email: zeayoga@gmail.com

Remarks: I have never checked out nor attended any of Zea Yoga’s classes but only know more about their pre-natal class through email enquiry. There’s a first-time registration fee of RM30.