Nov 26, 2014

My New-found Freedom

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For as long as I can remember, I have been wearing spectacles. I cannot be exactly sure but I think I became four-eyed when I was in Primary 4. The thing is, it has been such a long time that the spectacles has become part and parcel of my life.

 And while some people had remarked I look better in my frames - actually I think so too - but truth be told, it was really inconvenient having to wear them. When I was in the army and had to stand still in a parade, it was utterly irritating to feel my spectacles sliding down my nose but yet I was powerless to do anything about it. When the monkies came along, the first thing that they always love to grab was my spectacles. Even when I brought them to swimming, I was rendered blind when I had to remove my frames. And don't even get me started on the wrestling matches on the mattress with the boys... suffice to say, I had to replace quite a few pairs of glasses since then.

How about contacts, you ask? Well believe it or not, I have never ever worn contact lenses in my entire life. Somehow, I did not like the idea of probing my eyeballs and inserting something foreign into my eyes. So yes, it was all rather ironic when I finally decided to do something about my myopia and allow a machine to do the probing of my eyeballs.

The thing was, I was getting tired of being restricted to wearing spectacles all the time. Well, that and the fact that I always face restrictions when it comes to buying sunglasses. So when I heard about the new LASIK technology, known as ReLEx SMILE, I grabbed the opportunity.

Over the years, LASIK has been simplified to just less than 15 minutes of surgery and everything is relatively fuss-free. Problem was, there were also some horror stories that I heard from a friend's friend who heard them from a friend's aunty's friend's uncle's friend. So my suggestion to you if you are thinking of going for LASIK is to just simply go down to the clinic and find out more on your own.

After all, that was what my first consultation at the clinic in Paragon was all about. The consultation was to assess my suitability to undergo LASIK, and also to allow me to find out more about the various LASIK procedures available currently.

After watching a video on LASIK, I was called into various rooms for my eye exam. And when I say eye exam, that is an understatement. The whole exam took about an hour and consisted of just about every conceivable thing you could ever imagine anyone ever doing to your eyes. They did the basic eye exam, where they ask you read certain lines of text.

They then examined my eyes using various machines, like blowing a puff of air into my eyes to test the pressure of my eyes. Those were pretty okay but the last part where they dilated my pupils was rather uncomfortable. As with most people I reckon, this was actually the first time I ever had my eyes dilated via some eye drops. My eyesight went blurry, and bright light was shone in my freshly dilated eyes to test for more stuff I presume.

In any case, here's a tip if you are going to have your eyes dilated on your first LASIK consultation - DO NOT drive. Having dilated eyes means your eyes will be ultra sensitive to light, so driving in the day can be extremely blinding and dangerous.

After my eye exam, I was whisked off to see the doctor and this was where things got a bit technical. Before the consultation, I never knew that there were so many different types of procedures on the market.

For the uninitiated, LASIK (Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) involves the creating of a corneal flap and allowing laser excimer ablation to reshape the corneal surface so that refractive errors can be treated.

While this procedure is tried and tested, and relatively safe, the main disadvantage of LASIK is that flap-related complications may arise.

As I’ve mentioned earlier about ReLEx Smile, the doctor briefed me on this new procedure which is a bladeless, flapless, and micro incision refractive eye procedure that corrects visual problems including short-sightedness & astigmatism.

Unlike other methods of laser vision correction that ablate corneal tissue, the primary advantage is that there is no need for the creation of a corneal flap. It is a less invasive procedure and there are no fears of flap-related complications.

So I guess I do not have to tell you which procedure I chose.

And so, onto the day of my surgery. The wifey accompanied me since I was told not to drive on the day of the surgery. I did not admit to her then, but I was a nervous wreck before my surgery! Let's face it - no matter how many people told me the procedure would not hurt or that it was going to be the best decision I will ever make, I was still a little scared.

Well, there was to be no backing out in any case so I bravely entered the waiting room, where I was briefed on the procedure once again and the post-surgery aftercare.

I then donned the usual surgical gown and headgear, and I was all ready! But first, let me take a one last selfie with me in my spectacles.

I was then led into the surgery room which was predictably filled with expensive-looking machines. After I made myself comfortable on the table-like bed, numbing eye drops were applied and then, a gentle suction device was then used to engage my eye.

The laser treatment was initiated and took about 30 seconds to precisely create the refractive lenticule, with a micro incision of about 4 mm being created. The eye surgeon then extracted and removed the refractive lenticule through the micro incision.

And that was about it really. Extremely fast, like fast food.

Throughout the procedure, I felt nothing except some slight pressure on my eyes when the doctor was removing the refractive lenticule. But it was entirely painless and I was told that the micro incision will self heal without requiring any stitches.

As I sat up, my eyesight was blurry and my eyes were tearing. But I could instantly make out the chair at one corner of the room - something that I was not able to do before that without the aid of my spectacles.

The surgeon proceeded to check my eyes using a scope to see if it was a success. And since mine was (thank goodness!), I was brought back to the waiting room. I was given a post surgery care kit which included anti-biotic eye drops, normal eye drops, some sleeping pills, and a pair of eye shields which I had to wear during sleep for the first 3 nights. I was told to take the sleeping pill once I get back home and sleep for 4 to 6 hours. This would allow my eyes time to heal and help me get through the uncomfortable phase after the numbing drops wear off.

True enough, the numbing effects started to wear off on the way home and everything seemed so bright, and I was tearing uncontrollably. So I followed the doctor's advice once I got home... not before obliging Ale for a quick selfie, who called me a giant housefly by the way.

The first morning post-surgery, everything was much clearer. My vision was still rather blurry but compared to my pre-surgery eyesight - my degree was 450 in case you are wondering - it was such a welcome change!

It has been slightly over a month since I went for the ReLEx Smile procedure and my vision is still not perfect. My eyesight fluctuates and it is still rather blurry when I try to make out smaller words on the computer screen or smartphone. At my first month review session, my doctor has reassured me that the eyes need time to heal and will take at least 3 months before normal vision resumes.

But overall, I am glad I got it done. It is so refreshing not to have to worry about spectacles! I love being able to read the time on the clock when I open my eyes in the morning, or to be able to fall asleep while watching TV without having to worry about crushing my spectacles. The procedure is definitely far less scarier than what most people make it out to be and while the recovery time for me can be a bummer for now, I still love the new-found freedom of being spectacles-free!

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Nov 24, 2014

Must-have Big Hero 6 Toys + Baymax GIveaway!

Product Review

It looks like Disney - or is it Marvel - has done it again. Just like Guardians of the Galaxy, it has taken a relatively obscure line of comics called Big Hero 6 and turned it into a huge hit appealing to the masses... and kids, because they are the ones who ultimately chooses which movie to watch during the school holidays, no?

If you have not seen the movie, I strongly recommend at least one viewing. The kids will no doubt love it, that's for sure but this is one animated movie that has something for everyone - even adults. For me, I loved this movie. Loved, loved, loved it! It is easily one of the best animated movies I have seen in a very long time and I can’t wait to see it again.

It is full of laughs but yet, it checks all the emotional boxes for a Disney film. It made me guffaw and also had me feeling sad a couple of times. In the end though, I walked away feeling really satisfied with a moving and action-packed story. All these, while getting to enjoy this roller-coaster of emotions with my monkies is what Disney movies are good at and Big Hero 6 does not disappoint.

And in Baymax the healthcare robot turned superhero fighter, he is so lovable, funny, and tugs at the heartstrings like only the best Disney characters can that every child will be clamouring for a piece of him after the show. And something tells me that the folks at Bandai know this all too well.

Baymax did not originally look like a gigantic huggable marshmallow though. This was how Baymax looked like in the comics, in both original and suit-up armour modes.

Not so cute, right? And so after being given the Disney treatment, Baymax turned out to be such an irresistibly endearing nursebot.

And with Baymax Armor Up Action Figure, I can safely guarantee kids will love re-enacting the armor-up moment when Baymax prepared for battle!

The figure comes with over 20 pieces of armor that fit over his existing body to armor up the 6” Nursebot Baymax figure and construct a powered-up version 8-inch figure with a 14-inch wingspan that's ready for action! This is not a case where you have to disassemble the main figure and then plug in new parts. The pieces form a shell that fits around him so kids will love suiting Baymax up over and over again.

Or if you would like to re-create the movie with the kids, then the 6" Action Figures of Baymax and Fred will do nicely too.

But if your child - admit it, it's actually you - who wishes to relive great scenes and moments from the film, then the Projection Baymax is the one to fist bump with this Christmas.

Smooth and fun to touch, the vinyl Baymax has a projector feature inside, allowing fans to view 8 images from the movie by pulling Baymax's arm down to advance the film images. All with sound effects to boot!

In need of more action? Then the Deluxe Flying Baymax takes the cake... or at least that was THE toy to the monkies squabbled over when we unboxed it.

At 11 inches tall and 20 inches across with its wings fully extended, the Deluxe Flying Baymax is one huge toy. Although Baymax sports 22 points articulation, the toy really feels very solid and impressive-feeling when held in the hands. He also comes with a launching rocket first, which can be easily fired off with a press of a small button.

But the coolest feature has got to be the lights and sonds that Baymac emits. Along with a light in his head, he makes a number of robot sounds that thrilled Ale. Pop Hiro that comes together with Baymax, and it gets a whole lot more fun! Thanks to the power of magnets, Hiro is able to ride on Baymax's back and unlock a different set of sounds in the process.

Relive a few voice clips from the show and move Baymax up or down to activate different flying sound effects. Even the boys were got a kick out of playing with it!

Ale, on the other hand, preferred to relive the show by becoming Baymax! All thanks to the Baymax Mask and Baymax Rocket Fist. Yes, the Rocket Fist launches by the way.

But to her, none of the toys endeared as much as the Baymax Talking Plush! This has now become her favorite bedtime toy. And he even talks to her. Give him a soft squeeze and he asks, ”Are you satisfied with your care?” among other phrases and sounds - including one of him letting out air. Too cute!

So... how about winning one for your child?


Thanks to Sheng Tai Toys, I have FIVE Baymax Talking Plush worth $49.95 each to give away!

To take part, simply follow the following steps:

1. LIKE Sheng Tai Toys Facebook Page HERE, if you have not done so.

2. Email Sheng Tai Toys at with the following details:

Subject Header: BIG HERO 6 GIVEAWAY
Name of Parent:
Facebook Name:
Mobile Number:
Name of Child:
Child's Date of Birth:

3. Leave a comment either in THIS blog post or on our Cheekiemonkies' Facebook corresponding post HERE to let me know once you have completed the 2 steps above.

Important: You have to complete all three steps in order to be eligible for the draw.

This giveaway is open to all residents in Singapore. Giveaway ends on 2 December 2014, 2359 hours. Good luck!

Or if you prefer to win one out of 6 highly Limited Edition Gold Baymax, simply spend $50 and above on Bandai Big Hero 6 merchandise at Toys R Us to for a chance to win it!

Big Hero 6 toys are retailing at Toys 'R' Us stores and all major departmental stores.

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Nov 23, 2014

Gardens by the Bay Just Got More Interactive

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Media Invite

I may be wrong but to me, plants are not exactly the most exciting living things on this planet. I mean I love bringing the family to the parks for strolls, and especially Gardens by the Bay for the wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants. But the truth is, every time the monkies ask me about a certain plant I am stumped.

Not anymore.

Not when I have the new Gardens by the Bay mobile app downloaded into my smartphone or tablet.

The app, which is available FREE on both Android and iOS platforms, serves as a practical multimedia guide, providing an introduction to the vast collection of plant life throughout the Gardens. Available in five languages – English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and Japanese, the app also offers nuggets of information relating to the diverse habitats around the world. 

Using GPS and way-finding technology, the app offers an interactive map and encourage visitors to explore various locations, ranging from the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest to the open areas in Gardens by the Bay.

The monkies got a preview of the mobile app last week, where they were tasked to go on a mini Treasure Hunt around the Gardens using the app.

And as you can probably guess, they were hugely enthusiastic... until I had trouble keeping up with them!

Their enthusiasm largely stemmed from the fact that they were able to earn virtual rewards by looking for spots marked in the interactive map and completing scavenger-like challenges at the various locations.

Botany Hunt saw them using a photo and a map hint while attempting to locate five different plants and scan a special QR code in order to learn a fun fact about them.

Hidden Secrets then had them scanning the area with the tablet so as to look for five virtual plants related to a section of the garden with an Augmented Reality challenge.

Build Your Garden was the most relaxing game of the lot as the monkies just needed to rebuild part of the garden in a simple puzzle game. Which also meant I was able to rest my legs too!

When all 3 games were successfully completed, a fourth game will be unlocked - Where in the World, which the boys navigated with ease by answering a few trivia questions.

By completing more challenges, the boys were able to grow their own Tree of Knowledge which came loaded with fun and interesting facts about the plants in that section of the Gardens. Nothing like an electronic walking encyclopedia to answer the questions on my behalf!

Our past visits to Gardens by the Bay usually see us breezing through the plant exhibits but this time around, the boys took a genuine interest in wanting to learn more about the plants featured in the mobile app which definitely made this visit more engaging and enriching.

So the next time you bring your kids down to Gardens by the Bay, be sure to arm your smartphone or tablet with the Gardens by the Bay mobile app beforehand. Because not only will you be able to navigate the Gardens easily with the geolocation-enabled map, the kids will get a kick in growing their own Tree of Knowledge by completing augmented reality challenges and engaging mini-games!

You can download the Android version HERE or iOS version HERE.

Oh, and be sure to check out Gardens by the Bay's Yuletide in the Flower Dome display too!

Get chilly in a wintry wonderland with temperatures to match, as a glistening tower gleams in a realm of dreams. Admire a charming little town adorned with poinsettias and Christmas trees, then learn more about how plants adapt to survive winter on its Garden Trail. And did I mention Miffy will be making an appearance too? Check out all the details HERE.

It is truly, starting to look a lot like Christmas. :)

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Nov 21, 2014

Sweet Season of Giving at AMK Hub

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So what if Singapore is hot all year round? Who cares if there is not even the slightest chance of snowing in Singapore? The festive season is round the corner and it is the one period in the calendar year that everyone in the cheekiemonkie family looks forward to the most.

But if there is one thing I dread whenever Christmas rolls along, it has got to be the insane human traffic along Orchard Road. Luckily though, one can always count on the heartland malls for great festive deals too and if you are intending to fill up Christmas stockings at AMK Hub, you are in luck - there is an amazing selection of holiday-themed offers, rewards and magical fun waiting to be discovered!

Located in the heart of Ang Mo Kio, did you know that it offers a whopping 48,250 square metres of shopping space with an attractive tenant mix of over 200 shops? All these, spread over four-storeys and three basement levels! No wonder the mall was a hive of activity when I paid it a visit over the weekend to do some early Christmas shopping.

Do you spy the number grid on the right side in the above photo? You will do well to remember that, especially if you spend $80 (or $160 at FairPrice Xtra) at AMK Hub from now until 28 December 2014. Just pop over to the Information Counter at Basement 1 with your receipt/s and try your hand at the Instant Festive Wins. Simply match 3 of the same Christmas icons and you might just win one fantastic prize! Prizes include a TAKA Jewellery Diamond Pendant, AMK Hub Vouchers, Dreams Collage Timepieces , 42" LG Smart LED TV, Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and even an OSIM uDiva! The wifey will definitely be eyeing the latter for sure.

Even greater news if you are a Plus! Member and/or Citibank Cardmember, as you only need to spend $60 (or $120 at FairPrice Xtra) to have a go at the Instant Festive Win. Do note, however that the Instant Festive Wins is limited to 1 chance per shopper per day.

And since Christmas is not really Christmas without the act of giving, shoppers will be able to receive a Sweet X'mas Dreams neck pillow for FREE when they spend $150 (or $300 at FairPrice Xtra). Four designs will be released periodically from 21 November 2014 onwards, and they are strictly available while stocks last.

Again, lucky Plus! Members and Citibank Cardmembers need to spend only $120 (or $240 at FairPrice Xtra) to redeem one free neck pillow... which is also limited to one piece per shopper by the way.

I managed to snag the pink-striped neck pillow for Ale but guess who hogged it in the end?

In Ayd's words: "It was just too comfortable to resist!"

I don't think he will be able to resist too if I told him about Candy X'mas Photo Contest, where he could just win $100 AMK Hub vouchers for himself! Taking part is super easy - just use your phone to snap a photo of yourself or your kids with any Christmas decorations at AMK Hub.

Upload the photo onto either Facebook or Instagram. If you are using Facebook, post your photo to AMK Hub’s Facebook timeline. Using Instagram? Then tag your photo with the hashtag, #amkhubcandyxmas. Remember to set your photos to public mode so that your entries can be viewed by the judges!

The 10 most Candy Luscious photos will win $100 AMK Hub Vouchers each. You have until 28 December 2014 to enter the photo contest but my suggestion is to submit your entry early because we all know how procrastination can be such a bummer sometimes.

Of course, what's a Christmas celebration without Christmas shows and plenty of activities for kids? So do stay tuned as I zoom in on some of the most entertaining activities in my next post. Think roving performances, Meet & Greets, a Candy Factory House and even Magical Snow & Bubbles!

*Terms and conditions apply for the promotions mentioned above. For more information, visit AMK Hub's website and stay updated with all its promotions at its Facebook page HERE.

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Nov 20, 2014

10 Reasons Why Samsung KidsTime Rocks

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Product Review

It has been more than 2 months since the monkies first came into contact with Samsung KidsTime. And if they were not already in love with it then, they sure are now! I have noticed all three of them have - whether consciously or sub-consciously - shunned the regular game apps that they have been playing prior to Samsung KidsTime and spent more time on the educational apps designed for kids in mind.

Samsung KidsTime is a child-friendly learning platform developed by Samsung with games and e-books and it uniquely teaches and motivates children aged between 3 and 7 years old to learn and be more proactive with kids-safe curated content. So what this means for parents is they can be sure that the games and ebooks present in Samsung KidsTime have been carefully handpicked to reflect the various educational aspects crucial in a child's development.

And after spending much time on Samsung KidsTime (as well as having the opportunity to sneak in a few plays myself), I have come to the conclusion that it is the best child-centric and child-friendly app that any parent can find in the app market today. And here's why:

1. Effective Time Management

For starters, parents will be able to set the amount of play time a child can play, up to a maximum of 60 minutes. Beyond this, the entire tablet is locked and will require parents to use a passcode to unlock it. Definitely great for teaching kids the importance of using technology responsibly through effective time management!

2. Individual Profile

Each child will be able to create his/her own profile and personalised avatar within Samsung KidsTime, which then serves as a record of the amount and content of play that he/she has enjoyed.

3. Wide Array of Educational Content

With over 80 edu-tainment apps and eBooks available for download, this has got to be one of the strongest points in the monkies' eyes. In fact, as you would have probably read in my previous post, the boys were initially at a loss at which game app to begin playing when they launched Samsung KidsTime for the first time!

Not only do the educational apps evolve around themes such as math, literacy, science, and creativity, the eBooks featured highly interactive content as well... which suited Ale just fine as she is now slowly ebbing into the learning-to-read phase.

4. Monthly refresh of New Games and Books

See the apps in the above screen grab that are not accompanied by a 'green tick'? Those are the new games that were just released into the Samsung KidsTime database. So yes, expect to have monthly updates from curated publishers... and incessant clamouring from your kids to download the new games and eBooks.

5. One Monthly Price

But fret not, there is no extra price to pay for the extra content as parents need only pay a flat monthly subscription fee of S$6.50. That's it really - Access to ALL content - there is no need to pay extra, and definitely no bill shock from the credit card company.

6. Safe Environment

Besides fearing that kids go on an app-downloading spree, the other culprit for a huge bill shock is usually one that has to do with in-app purchases. With Samsung KidsTime, parents need worry as the kids-safe curated content contains absolutely zero in-app purchases or advertisements. So parents can be at ease as their kids will not spend ridiculous amounts of cash while they use the app. 

Besides, parents need to key in a passcode before any new downloads can take place so this effectively rules out any unauthorised downloads.

7. App Lock Feature

As an extension to the passcode feature, the 'App Lock' feature prevents children from leaving Samsung KidsTime without the passcode. This helps to avoid binge play and more importantly, access to other unauthorised apps, like YouTube.

8. Parent Tools Feedback

Personally, this is the best benefit to come out from Samsung KidsTime from a parent's point of view. Parents will have access to a monitoring dashboard, which allows them to see which apps their children are using most of the time. This way, we parents can not only keep tabs on the little ones’ activities, but also have a comprehensive view of their interest.

Depending on the child's interest, the app also recommends apps that would supplement holistic learning. So for Ayd who has been playing games that are geared towards Math for the past week, it will recommend apps that dabble more in Science and Linguistic learning.

Over time, I believe the feedback gained from the Parent Tools function will help parents to better understand their kids' interests better and in turn, help monitor their growth in a more holistic manner.

9. Spend Quality Time Together

I have to admit - some of the games in Samsung KidsTime can be hugely addictive... and educational without the monkies actually realising it. In fact, the boys have learnt basic polar coordinate geometry, percentages and fractions through some of the games! Although I had to sit and guide them through the first time they played those games, it gave me the perfect excuse to get closer to them while learning together AND getting to know their interests too. So full of win, if you ask me!

Another thing that I noticed for Ayd from his Progress Path pie chart was he had been heavily focused on educational games that were related to Math. And the thing about kids is that they tend to play the games they are genuinely interested in or feel that they are good at. So Samsung KidsTime gave me the opportunity to pinpoint certain areas like Science and Language where he had not shown a keen interest in and in the process, played through some of the games together and increasing his confidence in these subjects!

10. FREE to Download and Try

But perhaps, the most compelling reason for parents to try out Samsung KidsTime immediately is for the simple reason that it is FREE to download on your Samsung devices! And what is even better, you ask? The FIRST month is free to use so what this means is your child will have access to ALL of the Games and eBooks for free in the first month!

Even if you do not want to continue with the S$6.50 per month subscription after the first month, you will still have access to 5 free eBooks and 5 free Apps, as well as the parent reports and safety controls.

By the way, see the educational game that Ayd is playing in the photo above? Of all the games in the Samsung KidsTime inventory, this turned out to be the boy's current fave. The game app in question? Montessori 1st Operations.

Simply put, this is one awesome math app that focuses on the key concepts of basic math operations: addition and subtraction. The app also lays the foundation for multiplication and division by introducing key concepts such as how to differentiate between odd and even numbers, and how to determine the halves and doubles of a number. The games include recognizable Montessori characteristics - kid-friendly explanations of math definitions and concepts - and Montessori materials, such as red and blue number rods and counters.

But perhaps the most compelling part of the game is the inclusion of the funny and cute Montessori-monsters, who make their biggest appearance at the monster lab - a bonus game where kids can exchange their collected points with monster parts, which can then be assembled like a puzzle. Trust Ash and Ayd to keep solving arithmetic problems just so that they can finish assembling their monsters!

Even Ale wanted to piece together her own monster, with her practising addition and subtraction subconsciously by thinking aloud, “How many points do I need to buy this arm?” or “How many points will I have left if I buy this eye?”. A definite sure-winner game, in my eyes!

Ultimately with the sheer number of kids’ apps available in the market these days, it can get a tad overwhelming and challenging for parents like me to filter and identify safe and age-appropriate educational apps for the kids. And even then, we parents will want to ensure that time spent in swiping or tapping screens is truly beneficial for our kids, mentally stimulating them while keeping them occupied at the same time.

I have always believed that a child learns most effectively through play and while I remain a strong advocate for outdoor play, I also recognise that kids of today cannot afford to shun technology. Like it or not, smartphones and tablets are here to stay but as parents, we can show our kids the right way to embrace technology in an effective and responsible manner.

Obviously, Samsung KidsTime gives me 10 good reasons to enjoy a peace of mind while knowing that my monkies' sessions on an electronic device are safe. But most importantly, it has proven to be more than just a normal gaming app because the time spent on it is only only meaningful but well-spent.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out what other Parent Bloggers, Klessis and Edmund, have to say about KidsTime too!

To download Samsung KidsTime for FREE, visit Google Play store now and get your one month free access to one of the best apps for kids now! For more details, please visit

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