Happy Teachers’ Day

Today is a school holiday in our country in appreciation of all our teachers who work tirelessly for the children. Teaching is a tough yet fulfilling job and though I’m no longer an educator now, I consider myself a teacher still to my own child. Hopefully, in years to come, I could still go back to teaching (I love it).

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It’s my first year doing something for the teachers of Faith since it’s her first year of schooling. They are nothing fanciful, just something that I enjoy doing like baking. I had wanted Faith to chip in but I guess she could do so the following year. This time round, perhaps just let the Mama do the work?

Happy Teachers’ Day. We really appreciate all the hard work that you put in.

Thank you!

It’s been a tough week

Faith @ 33 MO

Baby @ 33 weeks

This week was tough.

Faith was evidently more rebellious these days and on several occasions, refused to obey what we had asked her to do. The worst part? Disobeying seems to be a fun thing to her and even when we had put her at the quiet corner and used other disciplinary measures, she came back, unrepented.

It got really exhausting to have to face such a situation. At many junctures, I questioned why I gave up my job to be a SAHM, to have my own flesh and blood drive me up the wall. If I was still working, at least I could have a break from her nonsense. And at the very least, I could have a few minutes of silence, to reconnect with myself. Being home with her, I was posed with endless questions and to have to engage her with conversations. The little one doesn’t like silence; she loves to chat with her Mom.

It’s exhausting.

At the same time, I questioned my self-worth and cannot help but feel that I have lost touch with the society. When I saw fellow moms having a good time at work and looking splendid in their dressing, envy started to well up. Don’t judge me please. I know I shouldn’t compare and that I should fix my eyes on things above but….

All these emotions (hormones as well) overwhelmed me and it got to a point that I broke down and wept uncontrollably, in front of the kiddo. She was confused, obviously, and cried. Why did Mama cry?

I shudder to think of the challenges ahead, of having to deal with two young children. How do you moms do it? I’m not sure if I could still stay calm and patiently explain things to them. I anticipate losing my temper more and that the volume of my voice will increase by a few decibels.

I need to surrender this to the Lord, the fear of the uphill tasks ahead. Surely God is faithful and He will bring me through. At the same time, I must remember that the tasks that have been given to me are not just ‘any’ tasks but are important ones. What I’m doing now will impact my children’s lives and many others who have contact with them. What I am doing IS important.

And I have to be fair, because there are indeed MORE sweet moments than bad ones.

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Say, for instance, meal times. There are more occasions in which she enjoys her food and gobbles whatever I have prepared for her. Her chopsticks’ skills have improved and there are significantly less mess on the floor now.

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Eating out with her can sometimes be a torture but 70% of the time, she behaves herself and is polite and courteous to the servers.. Just don’t bring her out when she is tired and cranky…

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She {still} loves school and each day, she would tell me that she enjoys herself in school, BSF or Sunday School. It gives me great joy to know that she is adapting well and likes to learn.

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At one stage, i was worried that she would just communicate in English. Alas, over the last few weeks, she spoke more in Mandarin with me (as long as I speak to her in that language) and could recite the 儿歌 (songs) she has learnt in school and from listening to the CDs at home. Sometimes, she even speaks with a certain Chinese accent. I wonder who she caught that from. 

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She remains a bubbly and cheerful girl and would find ways to make us laugh.

I guess as long as I don’t focus on the difficult situations in parenting, they won’t look like giants that cannot be overcome. In fact, such challenges are opportunities to exercise faith and to experience God at a higher level. Amen?

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I’m also thankful for the opportunity to bake 100 cookies for a sweet baby girl (gift packs)because it makes me happy just to be able to do that. Maybe I should make my own gift packs for the newborn’s full month eh?

How has your week been? Hopefully, it has been good!

Update:

The baby in the womb is 1.8kg and is still in breech position. I’m not looking forward to C-section so I’m going to pray against that. He seems to be a skinnier baby as compared to Faith. I guess I must eat better from now on so that he could get all the necessary nutrients.

Wt of mom: 57.7kg

BP: 119/58

Awesome August

August started off on a sweet note for me. I received an email in July from a lady asking me if I could bake for her daughter’s first birthday. To set the record straight, I bake for family and friends and seldom do I take up offers from people whom I do not know simply because I could not handle big orders and that I bake for fun, for hobby.

I don’t know why I agreed to bake for this lady, SP, and as we continued in our discussion, more stuff was added and before I knew it, I was to bake cupcakes, cookies, madeleines, smash cakes, birthday cake and a surprise cake for her niece. I must have calculated the timing wrongly and thought I was still in my second trimester which translates to having the energy still to bake and decorate. Alas, nearer the date, I realised I was in my third trimester already! Oh oh!

But it was all good. SP was a very nice lady to chat with and as we went through the details, I was challenged to come up with designs that could suit her theme and also make cakes that I would normally not make. I must say that I caused much disappointment for her two smash cakes as the colours condensed and bled ( I placed them in the fridge) but she was magnanimous enough to forgive me! What a wonderful lady!

IMG_20150808_063640This was the dessert table that SP created for her daughter, Chloe. I contributed some of the baked goods in the picture and when she sent me this image, I felt all the hard work has paid off. It was beautiful and I’m inspired to have a dessert table for my daughter and newborn too.

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This two-tier cake is made of an 8″ lychee sponge cake and a 6″ rainbow vanilla sponge cake. On the actual day itself, I took the whole of the morning and afternoon to do up the decoration since there was very little I could do beforehand. The horses had to be hand-painted and dried and thankfully all was well. It was undoubtedly a very heavy cake!

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Three flavours of cupcakes were requested to match the colour theme. Here we have chocolate-mint, strawberry and blueberry-flavoured ones.

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SP loves madeleines and she specially requested for lavender ones and I’m more than happy to bake these treats for her because Faith also loves them.

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Cookies for the guests. I can’t afford the time to use royal icing to decorate the cookies but I hope the fondant ones will do the job. ;)

20150801_152259 (2)This is the surprise cake that is meant for her niece who also turned 1YO around the same time as her daughter. This is a 6″ red velvet cake with minimal decoration except for the name and three owl figurines!

20150801_154446 (2)This is the part that I love most. To see the completed product and waiting for them to be delivered is really a joy in itself. And I definitely heaved a sigh of relief when they were all delivered safely!

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A week after that, i was to bake a 6″ lychee owl cake for SP’s niece. It was challenging not because of the amount of work but because it was raining cats and dogs on that day and if you have experience dealing with fondant, you will know that that is not the most ideal circumstance – the fondant perspired! I was racing against time and had to place the cake back and forth into the box that is filled with drying agents just so that the fondant will stay the way I wanted it to be.

Thankfully, the ‘owl’ was cooperative and stayed the way it was till cake-cutting.

It was indeed a wonderful first two weeks in August making these sweet treats and thanks, SP, for the opportunity to work with you!

8 Gift Ideas for Teachers’ Day

Teachers’ Day is round the corner and since the girl is in school, that means that there are teachers to appreciate. I could remember the many gifts that the pupils gave to me on that special day but the more memorable ones were those drawings and cards made personally by the pupils. One doesn’t have to spend a bomb on Teachers’ Day gifts (anyway, we cannot accept expensive gifts) but I thought the following are good gift ideas.

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Most teachers need a lot of caffeine to keep themselves awake throughout the day. We keep sachets of coffee and tea in our drawers and we wouldn’t mind coffee such as the above.

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Some teachers prefer tea to coffee and I thought this is a nice way to package the tea bags. Get your child to help make the ‘tea cup’!

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I know teachers are busy and at times, they skip meals just to catch up with marking and preparation of the lessons. If you are into baking, cookies are always welcome. You can always reuse jam jars and place the cookies in it or you can even use the CD envelope to package them! I know Daiso sells nice jars!

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If you want to go an extra mile and decorate the cookies, these are beautiful ones and they are sure to cheer the teachers up! These are sugar cookies decorated either using royal icing or fondant. Get the child to help!

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This is another wonderful gift idea. Teachers need energy throughout the day and these snacks will surely help!

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How about baking cupcakes for the teachers? Involve your children in the baking and wrapping of the cupcakes and they will be super proud as they present these sweet treats to their teachers.

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Fancy gifting the teachers a personalised mug with your own designs and wordings on it? The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM), set up in 2005 by Gethsemane Bible Presbyterian Church, is a Gospel outreach (non-profit & self-sustaining) to those who are enslaved in the bondage of drug addiction. The Ministry serves to improve the life of the residents by providing livelihood and preparing them to integrate back to society. Recently they expanded their line of service (from disposal, removal, painting, cleaning, transport)  to high resolution Photo Mug Printing services. The prices of the customised mugs range from $7 to $11 and are meaningful gifts for teachers.On top of that, your patronage of the services offered by TGCM will go a long way in helping this ministry stay viable and effective. To engage their service, you may call 62816356.

You may read more about the experience of Mummy Ade who had engaged their services.

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As I have mentioned, nothing beats a card that is handmade by the pupil himself (but that’s just me) and you could perhaps add these gift tags which serve as great bookmarks!

Now, what should I get or make for Faith’s teachers?

Quekling II @ 31 weeks

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Quekling II jumped to 1.56kg at the last gynae visit and I put on 2kg within a span of 2 weeks which was rather alarming! I must have eaten quite a fair bit and I think I should watch what I eat from now on. If the food is of quality, then there’s no cause for worry but….

Wt of mom: 57kg

These days see me getting restless and lethargic more easily. It can truly be a struggle at times dealing with a very active toddler. It’s the last lap and I have to hang in there. There are still things to be done.

I posted the list of things that I need to do within the next few weeks (in another account) and I shall record them here.

In no order of priority. ..

1. Continue to talk to F about the arrival of the second one. I know how the first one reacts depends on her maturity level and the real emotions will come when the baby arrives. But there is no harm in preparing her. I remember how as a 4YO, I felt so jaded by my own mom when my sis arrived and I don’t really want that to happen to F.

2. Install a ceiling fan in the living room. This is my fault. The hubs wanted to install fan during renovation but I didn’t want. I regretted.

3. Go through the piles of clothes given by friends for the baby and then need to wash and allocate space for them. [DONE]

4. Go through Faith’s clothes and to give away since we have no more space! [DONE]

5. Send baby mattress, pillow, bumper to my mom’s place to sun. Our place is just pathetic with very little sunlight. [DONE]

6. Check if my breastpump still works. Crossing my fingers! This is such an important item to me!

7. Start preparing and freeze meals like sauce, broth, meatballs, etc.

8. We need to set up the cot but we still haven’t decided on the sleeping arrangement when the little one comes.

9. Looking forward, we might need part time help. Need to source for one if that is the case.

10. Buy baby stuff like shampoo, diapers, wet wipes but for these, I will shop online. No longer have the energy to carry so much stuff.

11. Orientate the hubs to the market since he will need to bring the confinement nanny there to do grocery. Also need to teach him the parts of certain meat so that he will buy correctly.

12. Need to get the hubs to drive more often as he will need to send F to school.

13. Buy confinement stuff like the bathing things and herbs. Thankfully, Mom said she would help me get the wine, sesame oil and herbs before she goes for her hols. Thank God fot her!

14. Pack hospital bag. Not very important.

15. Read up on contractions and newborn sleep pattern. I have completely forgotten.

16. Wash and sterilise milk bottles and breastmilk containers.

17. Fumigate the car. It’s very dusty and dirty!!!

18. Buy nursing bra. I forgot where i bought previously!!!

19. Borrow car seat from a friend.

20. Get stroller back from mom’s place.

21. Settle CDA for both?

The Violin (小提琴)

This short video shows a little of the history of Singapore. Brilliantly written, I thought.

Circa late 1930s, Boat Quay, Singapore. A young boy receives an old violin as a gift out of kindness from a foreign trader. It becomes a treasured possession as he teaches himself to play the instrument over several years, until it was lost during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. After the war, the violin was found by a man working for the British Military Administration and given to his young daughter. The girl learns to play it and becomes a renowned violinist over the decades. She eventually passes the instrument on to her grandson, an accomplished violinist himself, who restores it and performs in a concert by the Singapore River, where the violin started its unexpected journey nearly 80 years ago.

Over the 16-minute film, the violin graces different stages of Singapore – both figuratively and literally – as we see a young country’s landscape change from the bustling 1930s to the dark days of the Japanese Occupation, followed by the sweeping political changes in the 60s that led to its independence and finally, present day.

Link: The Violin (小提琴) from Robot Playground Media on Vimeo.

National Day Celebration 2015

Yesterday, F’s school celebrated its Sports Day in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th birthday. I was excited because it is the first time I’m attending NOT as a teacher but as a parent!

Our family members were clad in red and white and we set off to the Sports Hub in the morning with high spirits. Upon reaching, Faith was on her skate-scoot and when she saw the crowd before her, she tensed up. In the end, I had to be in the line with her.

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Since she is one of the shortest kids in her class, she had to be in the front and I, too. I was a tad embarrassed (can you see my expression) but I had to stand beside her since she would make a fuss when I stepped out. Sigh!

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In the end, I sang the national anthem and recited the pledge with the kids, all thanks to the little girl. I’m still trying to understand her personality. While she could be so friendly with a stranger on a one-to-one basis, she is a totally different character when it comes to a crowd.

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The sports meet was next and after watching and cheering for the other classes, it’s the N1 pupils’ turn! Many of the children were shy and wanted their parents to take part with them. Of course, the parents obliged.

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It’s the hubs’ turn when it comes to sports now and I certainly hope that both of them had fun. Faith looked relieved after the match was over.

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Singing National Day songs…

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There was a short break in between the photo taking session and the hubs got her interested in getting the ants to climb onto the twig. She definitely was more interested in this activity and was captivated for a good amount of time.

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But the highlight had to be snack time because that’s when her eyes lit up. She was active and alert all of a sudden and was in her cheerful mode again. So, you know what will make her happy now?

;)

Baking with a toddler | Blueberry muffins

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Young children are fickle-minded when it comes to food. Sometimes, they might like a certain food to bits and then all of a sudden, they declare that they hate it. Faith used to be able to gobble up a bowl of blueberries all by herself and then one fine day, she rejected them. It’s frustrating, to say the least. And I so wanted her to appreciate this fruit again.

So, to get her to consume them again, I have to hide the blueberries. Since we were running out of food for breakfast, I thought I might as well bake a batch of blueberry muffins.

The recipe is taken from Hummingbird Bakery whose Red Velvet Cake I like. However, I replaced the sugar with raw sugar and cut down the amount to 1 cup. The end result is that the muffins aren’t too sweet but that’s fine by me. ,

I also find that the toddler is more willing to eat what she has helped to bake and when she consumed the muffin this morning, she was happy and exclaimed that it was delicious. Effort paid off!

This batch yields about 18 muffins and they are obviously too much for our small family. Well, we can always freeze the rest for future consumption. The next time I bake these muffins, I might add a tablespoon of lemon zest just to enhance the taste. ;)

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2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
70g unsalted butter, melted
2 cups of blueberries

Yields about 18 muffins if you are using a standard-sized cupcake tin

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed.
  3. Put the buttermilk, egg and vanilla into a bowl and mix to combine. Slowly pour the flour mixture and beat until just IMG_3231incorporated.
  4. Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter has just been incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the dough is even and smooth.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon until even dispersed.
  6. Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool.

July in summary

July is a month in which faith was built up and strengthened. We started off with the attendance of JDOP, a day when we came together as a body of Christ to pray. It was by faith that we signed up for the tickets as it would be rather challenging to bring a toddler along and expect her to maintain her discipline for three hours. On that day, I forgot to bring our tickets and I panicked since admission was strictly by that means. Thankfully, a CG-mate came to our rescue and passed us the tickets that we needed. Hallelujah!

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As we sat among the sea of red (for our church members), I couldn’t be more thankful to be able to be among believers, singing praises to our Lord God and talking to Him. We had the privilege of having our Prime Minister gracing the event and we also said a prayer of blessing for Him. Faith was indeed disciplined throughout and I’m so thankful to the Lord for that.

BSF resumed in July and I was glad to be back basically because it got me into a routine of reading the Word of God in more detail. Faith was also back in class and I’m sure she’s in good hands. School also started for her and she was in high spirits when she got back. This semester onwards, she stayed back in school for one more hour for Chinese enrichment because (1) I needed her to be more exposed to Mandarin, and (2) I needed to rest more since I am in the last lap for my pregnancy. Initially, she struggled because she didn’t like the change and was not used to the teacher who was conducting the enrichment class. However, after a week, she was fine and came out, exclaiming, “I enjoyed myself!” Thank God for that!

The hubs and I signed up for Alpha Marriage that is conducted in our church. Ok, I need to maintain that our marriage is not on the rocks but we signed up, anticipating that we could benefit from the lessons. It is strongly advisable that we do not bring the kid along and thankfully, our CG-mates stepped up to help. Each week, while we were away, Faith would be looked after by different families and my in-laws and we were indeed thankful to them. Faith had a good time of bonding with the CG-children and even had the opportunity to learn about the armour of God during one of the sessions!

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The Alpha Marriage course did us some good. It provided a time for us to be alone and communicate. I know this is hard to believe but each day, the hubs and I could only spend at most 15 minutes to talk on a one-to-one basis since he is the one to put Faith to bed and in so doing, he retires for the day too. During the course, we discussed some pertinent issues on marriage and parenting (no doubt) and it’s just awesome to be able to chat like we used to. I recommended this course for any married couples!

ndpK managed to get us tickets to the NE show (rehearsal for National Day) and we were seated at the grand stand. I love attending the parade live as compared to watching it on TV and I thought it would be a wonderful experience for Faith. Alas, she was cranky throughout and was probably frightened by the loud noise and sudden short outbursts of fireworks.

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Just look at her sullen look. She didn’t enjoy herself and kept urging us to leave. We persisted until the last part – the splendid display of fireworks which everyone was looking forward to. But we had to leave. She was crying and we didn’t have any more energy either. On the way to the train station, she turned and asked me, “Are you okay, Mama? Next time we come again?”

Clearly she knew I was upset because I was sulking and complaining to the hubs. I turned and gave her an upset look. Oh well…

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Mid-July and the hubs checked us into a hotel for a staycation. It was most thoughtful of him but honestly, we didn’t enjoy ourselves. The little girl was rather bored and occasionally threw her tantrums. Since we were sharing the bed, yup, all three of us, I found myself staying awake most of the time to fend off her kicks lest she hurt the baby in the womb. As a result, the staycation was none too restful, I regret to say.

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We did have moments of fun in the pool and I’ve learnt a little more about the Peranakan culture and to wrap a dumpling well.

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My brother and his family came back for a visit and we had an awesome time dining at Changi because we had the sea view and the food prices weren’t too expensive either. The kids had a great time playing together and even the adults joined in the fun.

20150727_131514Kids hanging out together again!

On other news, I invited my mom to an Chinese evangelistic concert and she went up to receive Christ in her heart after a pastor beckoned her to do so. Personally, I wasn’t sure if she did it on her own free will but I guess I just have to continue to pray for her.

So, here you go. That’s July for us. How’s yours? ;)

ME -Time for Mommies!

ME-time is a concept that I have learnt to appreciate when I became a mom. I mean, before that, I had so much pockets of time to myself whether I was a single or as a wife that it didn’t seem like a great deal. After being a mom, I realised that it is crucial for me to have some time off to myself because it can be so easy to be sucked into the demands of being a mom and a wife.

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It wasn’t easy in the beginning. If you are a new mom, you would have felt the same guilt that I had of leaving your baby behind just so that you could have some peace and sanity. I was reluctant to do so but the hubs insisted that I go out and take a breather.

So I started with an hour or two to myself and normally, I would visit a {nearby} cafe to have a cup of latte and a book on hand. On other days, I would go for a slow jog, just to regain my stamina.

As the little girl grew older and was more manageable, I’ve learnt to let go and placed her in the care of my parents or in-laws while I attended some courses. I needed interaction with adults and if you are a SAHM, you would realise how much your language and vocabulary can deteriorate (or does this only happen to me??).

These days, however, I prefer to stay at home and do the things that will perk me up.

You see, Faith is at the stage when she can talk non-stop. She loves to ask questions and engage me in a conversation. As much as I rejoice over the fact that she is talking more, it does get to me (most of the time). In the end, I just want some quietness and peace in the house.

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Now that she is in school for a few hours, I prefer to come back home and chill. Playing some soothing music in the background, I would normally spend some time reading the Bible and allow the Word of God to speak to me and recharge me or experimenting with some cake recipes and designs.

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You would probably find me at the park jogging or cycling if I wasn’t pregnant for those are the activities that I love in the past. Now, I just need to learn to slow down and develop my other interests which always lift me up.

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It’s therapeutic doing these things without a child calling out to you ALL THE TIME. No, the cakes don’t always taste delish but that’s all right. What’s more important is that I feel recharged and refreshed after that.

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I cannot stress enough the importance of taking time off to nourish your soul because you return to your responsibilities with renewed strength and much cheer. Everyone in the family will benefit from a happy mom and wife, no?  And ME-time is not about running errands! It’s really doing something that will uplift you. ;)

So, what do you do during your ME-time?

Mummy's 'Me-Time'
This post is part of a blog train initiated by Danessa of Prayerfull Mum where a group of mommy bloggers share their thoughts on ME-time.
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feliciaNext up on the blog train is Felicia Tan. A homeschooling mama of two,  she aspires to nourish the heart, mind, body and soul of her family. “The world is our school” is her mantra so be it a stroll to the market nearby or a vacation to Europe, she encourages curiosity and inquiry from her children. Her passion for cooking and healthy living drives her to churn out nutritious but easy-to-prepare meals so you can expect to see some healthy recipes on her blog. She also shares her parenting thoughts and learning activities as she goes about her journey and discovery as a homeschooling mama of Princess and The Rock.. Click on the link to her blog to read her take on mommy me-time!

Quekling II @ 29 weeks

29 weeksHello! I’m officially 29 weeks pregnant with Quekling II. I’m starting to get tired easily and have to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. Backache’s starting to kick in and cramps in the legs too. Oh well. It’s the last lap, so just bear with it!

Quekling II has been really active all of a sudden and he keeps exercising in the womb. It can really get irritating! I hope he will not be too much of an active child when he comes out. :p

My weight right now is 55kg and that means I have only put on 0.5kg over the course of 3 weeks. Not that ideal, eh? But Quekling II seems to be of the right weight!

Blood pressure: 111/58
Weight of baby: 1.06kg
Weight of Mom: 55kg

Wordless Wednesday: Owl Cupcakes

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A good friend has just given birth and I thought of making these cupcakes for her, just for her to take a look. Yes, I’m cruel, I know. ;p

I’m entering into the third trimester and my energy level has dipped. I’m mindful that I cannot control life and all I can do is to pray that the baby in my womb will grow to full term and that he will be a normal and healthy one.

Yes, I worry but I need to learn to trust in the Lord because He is the one who gives life and He definitely is in control, no matter what the circumstance is.

You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. -Isaiah 26:3

And I will always bear the following scripture verses in mind.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14

Linking up with

Flowery Fun Times at Gardens by the Bay

The weekends’ here!

If you haven’t visited the Flowery Fun Times at Gardens by the Bay, perhaps you might want to visit it before it ends on 19th July. Our family went down during the June holidays and I must say the floral display was beautiful. I bore an ulterior motive, of course, and that was to get the little one to learn more about the nursery rhymes that she has been learning both at home and in school.

Pardon me for the many photos posted in this post. They are for memory. ;)

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Be sure to bring along a jacket because it is cold in the flower dome. I found myself shivering!

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Please don’t ask me what nursery rhymes these refer to. I have forgotten!

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Gigantic bees! Flee!

IMG_3139The old lady in her shoes?

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Which is the picture that belongs to Mary and her little lamb?

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Tis I know! It’s Humpty Dumpty! Even Faith could identify…

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gardensbythebay

If you are not into floral display, erm… like da man, maybe you won’t enjoy that much. But there are 
 other things to do in Gardens by the Bay. The water play area will be an exciting play area for the children! Have a good weekend!

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It’s my sis’ birthday tomorrow and I thought that I should bake her a birthday cake since mom’s cooking dinner this evening. Naturally, the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake came to mind because my nephews love strawberries and our family prefers light cakes anytime. Thankfully, I have strawberries and whipped cream in the fridge so it makes decision making easier.

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I went ahead and used the traditional sponge cake method. 6″ cake pans were used since I did not want a big cake. That said, I do have a tall 6″ cake in the end.

(A)
4 eggs
120g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour (sifted)

(C)
70g melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended.

3. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the greased pans. Bake at 180C for about 20 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes. Remove them from the pans immediately when done and let cool.

I’m used to using IMBC and was rather hesitant about using whipped cream because my kitchen is really warm. Since there is no harm in experimenting and because it’s really for family, I decided to give it a try. Using 300g of whipped cream, I used the balloon whisk and whisk it till stiff peak. Preferably, the metal bowl should be cold but I forgot to keep it in the fridge before that. But hey, it still works. And I’m pleasantly surprised that it holds well even when it’s kept out of the fridge for half an hour (before the cake cutting).

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My folks said the sponge cake is rather light but I think it can go lighter. The next time I experiment with it, I might use cake flour and add a little glucose to see the difference it will make. Also, the whipped cream is a tad thick so I should just reduce it by a wee bit.

familypic (2)In any case, I’m glad to have baked this cake. It’s been a while since I last baked a cake for a birthday celebration. And more importantly, it warmed my heart to see the folks enjoy this dessert.

A dress for Faith, sewn with love

My mum was a seamstress and growing up, I was surrounded by different types of sewing machines that were used to piece the various parts of a shirt. And whenever those machines were not in use, I would try my hands on them, much to the annoyance of my mom (but she gave up stopping me in the end). Thus, sewing isn’t something too daunting for me.

My mom, though an extremely busy woman herself, would find time to sew dresses for me and now as a mother, I find myself wanting to do so for my daughter too. I contemplated getting a sewing machine but was afraid that such passion is, but temporary, and eventually it would turn into a white elephant. Moreover, I’m not sure if I’m still skillful enough to do a good enough job. After all, it has been many years since I last touched a sewing machine.

Thankfully, a dear friend, Amy, approached me and offered to teach me how to sew a sundress. How timely! She conducts sewing classes herself and what I needed to do was to give her the measurement of Faith according to a size chart and choose the fabric design that I want and I’m all ready to get started!

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While Faith was in school, I went for my sewing tutorial with much excitement. Amy first introduced me to the sewing machine that I would be using and went through the fundamentals with me. The sewing machines these days are so light and portable, unlike the ones that my mom used which are the big, heavy-duty ones.

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After trying out the sewing machine for a short while, I was down to serious work. I spent the next three hours pressing the seams using the iron, pinning and sewing them. Initially, the workmanship was bad and I had to unpick some of the seams and re-sew. But it sure got better after a while.

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I find sewing therapeutic as I got the hang of it, all thanks to the patience of my dear friend. She was very encouraging and even when I made a mistake, I know it could be easily rectified.

20150701_102047 (2)Towards the end, I got a little too excited because I wanted to see the finished product. Oh, that anticipation! But I have to remind myself to go slow lest I make mistakes again!

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Last few steps: sewing the zip! I’m almost there!

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You cannot imagine how happy I was when I completed the sundress. This is my first dress for Faith and I have fulfilled a small, small wish of mine. Finally! Then I thought of my mom. I could not understand why she would bother to make dresses for me and my sis especially when she had tons to do but now I think I know. It’s really simple. It’s love. That is how she expressed her love for us, by doing what she’s best at to bless us, just like how she would always  prepare homecooked food for us.

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I was a proud mom the day when Faith put on this dress. Obviously, it is much easier and convenient to buy one off the rack but this one is special. It is made with love and I know there would not be many pieces out there. This particular one fits Faith to a tee and it looks great on her. I love the design of the fabric which is imported from the U.S. and overall, it’s cheaper than buying a quality dress from the shops (workmanship not included, of course. It’s made with love, after all).

I’m hooked. Shall I buy a sewing machine?:)

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Amy and her friend, Karen, conduct sewing workshops on blouses, skirts and dresses. The fees start from $80/pax for a 3-hour session which include all workshop materials and choice of premium fabrics. If you are interested, do browse their website for more information. They even hold classes for kids!

Sew into it
Website: http://www.sewintoit.com.sg/
Facebook: Please click here
IG: sewintoit_sg

Quekling II @ 26 weeks

Yay, so I have passed the glucose screening!

Had my gynae appointment yesterday and this was a piece of good news given to me. I have also put on a decent amount of weight – 1.2kg- over the course of these three weeks. He weighs 768g which doc said it was a decent weight. However, compared to Faith, he seems to be a tad lighter but we will see.

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I was telling Doc that there wasn’t much activity from Quekling II for the past few days and he suggested that I track his movement from 9am to 9pm. As long as there is movement, be it slight or obvious, that would be considered one tick and at least ten movements are needed. Goodness! I’m not sure if I want to do that because I’m constantly on the move and I probably won’t be able to detect it.

Another to-do item checked: We have booked the hospital. Yay….

Next things to do before I get lethargic in the third trimester: Set up the cot, wash baby clothes, buy the cleaning stuff (shampoo, body wash, lotion, detergent, etc) for the baby and checking if the breast pump still works. The last item is sooooo crucial!

Weight: 54.5kg

Making pizza with a toddler

As a parent, I’m very mindful of NOT doing everything for the little one. She has to chip in for household chores and I learnt that she will willingly do those tasks because she wants to do what the adults are doing, which is good news to me! Obviously, such work is fun and play to the little one and when she knows she is co-labouring with her mama, she gets immense satisfaction.

For now, Faith helps to mop the floor with me and keeps get the clothes from the dryer. She is learning how to fold her clothes, and this not without a degree of difficulty. But she will get there.

And whenever possible, I would get her to be involved in cooking and baking because it’s something that she likes to do since she often sees her mama working hard in the kitchen.

Pizza! It’s such a simple thing to do with a toddler.

20150615_175817I cheated and used pre-made pizza crust. If you are diligent like my friend, you would make your own bread dough but I’m lazy on that particular day. Other ingredients include tomato paste, honey baked ham, mushroom, peppers (red, green and yellow), spinach leaves and cheeses.

Well, you can definitely use chicken or beef or pork but you would have to cook them for a while before using them as toppings on the pizza. I wanted to minimise work and thus used ham. Moreover, I find the meat a tad tough for Faith once they go through the baking.

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You can definitely get the little one to cut the ham or other ingredients into smaller pieces which he/she will love doing. Thereafter, lay all the ingredients and get them to spread the tomato paste and place the toppings on the crust. You will expect mess, definitely, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Cooking or baking is good for teaching procedural text, ya know? Ok, I will not delve into that.

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Look at that facial expression? Faith told me she couldn’t eat leaves when she was asked to place the spinach leaves as toppings. She has associated the spinach leaves with the fallen leaves she found on the ground. Ah…hilarious.

20150615_181601All ready to be placed in the oven! Bake at 200C for about 10 minutes (or follow instruction on the pizza crust package) or until the cheeses turn a wonderful golden.

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Comfort food that got snapped up within minutes. It’s really that simple to make and good to eat.

20150615_183145For a thinner crust, I used wraps which do an awesome job. I prefer a thin crust anytime!

A busy June hols

The month of June was a busy one for me and I’m sure it was, for many parents. It’s the one-month school holiday after all and we had to make sure that our children were potentially engaged with activities lest they got bored at home and caused more headache for us. The hubs, knowing that it would be more challenging to handle the little one daily, offered to take leave twice a week so that he could relieve me during those days. With him around, I was definitely willing to be more adventurous and go on outings together as a family.

Here’s a post to record the many things that happened in June!

jurongbirdpark@ Jurong Bird Park with her playmate

gardensbythebayLearning about nursery rhymes @ Gardens by the Bay

fatheranddaughterFather and daughter bonding

Outdoor activities! We love it! Farm visits, Jurong Bird Park, Gardens by the Bay, Tanjong Pargar Railway Station, Jacob Ballas, East Coast Park, SEA Games Carnival at the Sport Hub, Hortpark were some of the places we visited. With the hubs around, he could do the wild things with Faith while I rested. It was fun going on trips but it could get tiring too. It came to a point when I asked the little one what she wanted to do the following day and she replied, “I don’t want to go out. I want to stay home.” So much for planning activities for her eh?

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Perhaps, the more exhausting thing is not about going out but having to answer Faith’s endless questions. She became really chatty all of a sudden and asked so many questions that she tested my patience. I couldn’t answer her with ‘ok’, ‘hmm’, or a ‘yes’ but I have to continue the conversation with her. Goodness! It is a good problem, no doubt, I really needed a break from her!

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F gifted with Chinese books and enjoying pool time!

I’m thankful too that friends asked me out for meetup during this period. It was good catching up with good old friends over meals and naturally we would talk about our children and their progress in school. For one group, Faith was the youngest among the group of children and when friends shared about the challenges they faced, the issue of the Chinese language would always be brought up. It got me a bit uptight and I wonder if I should really step up my effort in getting Faith to be more conversant in Mandarin. Oh, that’s really stressful!

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Apart from the many activities, pregnancy itself was uneventful. Friends started asking if we need baby clothes and stuff of which we would need since we have given some essential items away (didn’t really expect to have a second one initially). Thankful for these kind souls as we wouldn’t want to spend too much on these items. I went for my Pilates classes as usual and since my back was starting to ache, prenatal massage is a good temporary relief. We have just settled for confinement nanny services through the previous agency that we engaged and hopefully we could get back the same lady.

I wish I could tell you that I love spending 24/7 with Faith but I don’t. I realised I needed time to myself, to do the things that I love like baking and cooking or just taking the time off to chill with a good read. I got a little, just a little downcast having her around all the time and felt a little lost. It sounds weird, I know but I don’t know how to explain this kind of feeling. During that moment, I was encouraged by what I read from ‘Desperate: Hope for the mom who needs to breathe‘…

The God who gave you your gifts and talents is the same God who gave you souls to bring up, train, invest in, and disciple….Scripture is filled with admonitions for a mama to make her home her focus and bring up her children. A mama’s primary domain is her home. This doesn’t mean you don’t have another purpose that God wants you to fulfill while you’re breathing on this earth, but your first and main purpose is to deeply invest in the souls He’s given you, and you will struggle immensely if you do not have resolve regarding your role as a mother.

This para spoke to me and gave me strength to move on. Somehow, I was able to focus on my family and at the same time, started to pick myself up to do the things that I like and one of the most awesome stuff was to be able to learn how to make the rice dumplings from two experienced mothers. God must have known that I’m struggling and sent these angels to liven me up! Simple joy!

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cheesecake
So I started to busy myself in the kitchen again and baked a Japanese Cheesecake for the cell group and got Faith to work on Lavender Madeleines with me. She loves baking and I love to impart such skills to her!

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All in all, I guess June turned out well. It was definitely busy but I must say we did enjoy ourselves. How was your June holidays?
All ready for July?

TGIF and friends

As you grow older, do you find that it is so much harder to make friends? I’m not referring to those whom you meet once in a blue moon (they are precious nonetheless); I’m talking about those who share the same struggles and situation as you and whom you can confide in and share your deepest fears without being judged.

When I was in Boston, I remember saying a prayer, asking the dear Lord to bless me with friends who could share the same interests as I and those who could encourage me in this journey of faith. He did bless me with a group of sisters and we loved to share recipes, cook, bake and even window-shopped for kitchen applicances. Though we are continents apart now, we still catch up with one another whenever possible.

Now as a SAHM, life can be lonely at times. Again, I asked God for like-minded mothers to grow together. Without fail, he granted my request. And today, I was blessed by one of them who decided to serve me and another mother to celebrate her birthday. What a meaningful thing to do!

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I must stress that this friend, Tri, is 34 weeks pregnant but because she has such passion for cooking, she doesn’t mind preparing a scrumptious brunch for us. The fact that her ktichen is filled with Le Creuset cookware and dishware is another treat for me. ;)

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She even bothered to bake bread for us. So much love!

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This is our all day’s breakfast. I think if we aren’t pregnant, we can really look forward to poached eggs!

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The spread

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While the mommies were having a good brunch, the kids were eating merrily too and enjoying some play time!

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Since Tri is good in Chinese, we got her to read books to the toddlers and they got to learn some Chinese words too!

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Half a day was gone like this. Some days, I have it easy like today and got to enjoy the company of other SAHMs. Time passes very quickly as we chat and share our problems with one another. However, most days, I am just going through routines which can be boring. In any case, I’m thankful for a Friday such as today and definitely precious friends whom the Lord has blessed me with.

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15 Stations at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

I’ve only taken train rides from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station twice and both times, it’s a deliberate choice over the other modes of transport because I wanted to experience how it was like to take the KTM trains into Malaysia.

I recalled that the railway station wasn’t as crowded or vibrant as the other stations that I have been to in other countries. There weren’t many locals and most of them were made up of Malaysian passengers. There weren’t many train services available and thus it was a hassle-free experience travelling up north.

Railway station_malvina tanPhoto courtesy of Malvina Tan

Unfortunately, railway operations at the station ceased from 1 July 2011 and the station became a national monument of Singapore and is only open to the public on public holidays in the hope that more people will use the opportunity to visit the historical monument for strolls, take photos or to partake in its history.

Now, for a limited period (17 June through 4 July 2015), the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is open to the public as one of the O.P.E.N.‘s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project which provides visitors the opportunity to experience a unique and interactive memory tour of the station.

15 Stations, as it is called, allows visitors to meet the people – from the past and the future – whose lives were connected by the railway line through a downloadable application on their smartphones. There are three curated routes – Reflect, Connect and Imagine –  and they draw on archival materials and animation to weave their own stories about the relationship between the station and those who have passed and will pass through its doors.

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Our family turned up at 7pm and we started off at Route #1 with the PROLOGUE, along with 5 other stations.

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Some of the videos at the stations come with audio so visitors are advised to bring along their earphones. Take your time to slowly wander, view the videos, reflect upon what was shared and connect with the people and stories in the videos. On top of that, enjoy the architecture of the building which is in a richly ornamented Art Deco style. The exterior of the building, for infomation’s sake, are four marble statues, allegories of Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport.

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You might think these visitors were all taking pictures of the ticket counters but nope, they were actually viewing and listening to the videos. At this point, my girl was getting restless and started to tour the main hall. How I wish she was older so that we could learn and share historical facts together.

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So, she might not be able to fully appreciate the exhibition but we sure could create some wonderful memories of the place as a family!

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We proceeded to Route #2 (my favourite) where five stories would emerge from scanning the different QR codes displayed on the stands. At this point, the little girl got a tad interested in the stories and listened to them intently.

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But her attention span was just too short and minutes later, she went to disturb her Papa and they went onto the tracks for some fun while I stayed on at the departure platform to complete the stories.

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F was excited to be walking on the tracks but she saw no trains!

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Route #3 consists of three stations which envision a future created by NTU students who never had the chance to set foot in the station during its heyday.

Each memory route is in English and takes about 30 minutes and in all, one would spend about 90 minutes at the railway station. The O.P.E.N. will provide 30 sets of Samsung Note 4 and 20 sets of Samsung Tab S, with earphones, on site. Alternatively, you may want to download the 15 Stations app (downloadable for free from 16 June to 4 July 2015) on your smartphones and enjoy the audio commentary with your personal earphones.

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I must say it’s quite a unique experience learning more about The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station through this augmented reality memory tour. I only wish that we had visited it in the day time so that we could have more beautiful pictures! Oh well…

15 Stations (The O.P.E.N.’s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project)
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Opens 18 June through 4 July 2015
Tue-Sat: 12 noon – 10pm
Sun: 12 noon – 6pm
Mon: Closed

FREE ADMISSION with O.P.E.N. Pass
Limited single entry tickets ($11 each) are available at the door

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to tour 15 Stations. No monetary compensation was given. 

3rd year as a Dad

How has it been being a father for three years? I certainly hope that you are enjoying the journey. image I just want to tell you that you are an awesome dad…image Happy Father’s Day!

A morning spent at a terrarium workshop

“Oh no! I’m late! I’m late!”

I was panicking as I drove to Hortpark. There was a traffic jam caused by an exit closure due to the SEA Games and I had to think of an alternative route to get to my destination. Alas, there was still heavy traffic along the way and I contemplated turning back home. However, the little girl was adamant on going and kept insisting that she wanted to go to the garden. Thankfully, I heeded her advice. Because both of us had great fun that morning. image Faith and I were invited to a terrarium workshop by the good folks at Actualyse. The workshop itself was conducted by Cath of The Plant Story. By the time we reached the indoor open concept cafe, we were half an hour late and we went straight to making our own terrarium.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

In simple term, a terrarium is a low-maintenance indoor garden in a glass container and is ideal for people who don’t have the time to care for a garden or just don’t have a “green thumb” like yours truly. What you would need is a clear glass container and plants suitable for terrariums. To start making the indoor garden, you would need gravel or small pebbles, charcoal pieces, potting soil and some decoration pieces.

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Initially, I was a bit worried that Faith might not not be up for the job and would create a mess instead but decided that I should just let her try. I must say, she did well! She was careful at every step, perhaps sensing her mama’s anxiety and in the end, she created and decorated her own garden without much mess!

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Obviously, she received help from me who was actually clueless as to what I should do. Thankfully, I met very helpful participants and fellow moms who guided me along.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

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Photo: Actualyse

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This is the end product and I must say the little girl was proud of her work!

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Please don’t drop it!

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Photo: Actualyse Can you sense my joy and pride?

It was a short one hour session (minus our half-an-hour lateness) but both Faith and I had a good time of bonding through working on the terrarium. If you are interested, you should definitely find out more about this workshop whose DIY kit starts from $35/- and workshop fee is at $10/pax or $20/pax for a private session. You can also have the option to add a hand-made Murano glass animal to further personalise your gardens. Everything is provided for. You just need to get ready to play with dirt and not mind the mess (not a lot actually).

image Photo: Actualyse

Through that session, I got to understand Faith a tad more. That she can be an orderly person and is capable of understanding and following instructions and attempting more difficult tasks (at her age). I should never underestimate a 2.5 years old girl! It is much like what the founder of Actualyse, Isabelle Loo, believed in, that each one of us has a unique blend of capabilities and skills, and in setting up actualyse.com, a one-stop education and learning resource portal, she hopes to help people discover the best ways to nurture and unleash that talent.

It’s a reminder to me as a mom, to respect Faith as a unique individual, and to help her discover and nurture her talent(s).

image Photo: Actualyse

It was indeed an enriching and fun session, thanks to the good people of Actualyse who organised it for us. You could get yourself updated on the latest news, information and trends on education and learning via the Catalyst Library at actualyse.com and perhaps, for a start, register and find out your own unique strengths smarts through their simple Multiple Intelligences quiz?

image Photo: Actualyse

The Plant Story HortPark, Singapore. 33 Hyderabad Road (Off Alexandra Road) #01-01 (Beside the Lawn) Singapore 119578 Opening hours: 10am to 7pm daily. Closed on Wednesday and major public holidays.

SEA Games 2015 and thoughts on sports

Our nation hosted the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this year and we came in second, bagging a total of 84 goals, a record for the country! What a joy! And obviously, we took the opportunity to participate as spectators and attended the carnival held at the Sports hub.

20150604_101120 I’m pretty sure that many families have brought their children to the carnival. There were stations for the kids to try out the various sports and activities. I was hoping Faith would enjoy the carnival but the fact is she didn’t. 20150604_103130 It was terribly hot that day we went down and she wasn’t in the mood to try out anything which was a real pity. The other kids who were with us enjoyed sweating it out and I could only envy them. 20150604_110345 In the end, she was contented with just the colouring activity. How interesting. I have always thought that she is an active child who loves running around and trying out new stuff. I would very much prefer that she likes the outdoors because her mom is one who adores being in the open. I am hoping that she would eventually develop a love for triathlon or marathon because these are sports which I was crazy about at one point in my life (now still am but I have to reserve them for later years). 20150604_125640

Just look how ‘stoned’ she was while trying out hockey. *Faint*

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I’m still trying to figure out what she is good at at this point in time. At the very least, I would try to expose her to all kinds of things, whether it be an indoor or outdoor activity. And definitely, I would allow her to follow her passion once she finds it.

Growing up, I did not have the opportunity to develop myself in other areas except in the academic domain. The only sports that my mother got me to learn is swimming because she believes that everyone must learn how to swim since we are surrounded by water. I soon got quite good at it and my coach even assured my mom that I would be able to achieve much if I continue to train. As a 7YO child, that was the highest compliment one could give me. Sadly, my mom decided that studies were more important than passion and stopped me from pursuing it. Isn’t it sad?

I hope I would not follow my mom’s footsteps. I don’t deny that academic education is important but if a child shows talents in other forms, we should allow him to shine in those areas too, no?

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That’s us supporting the waterskiiing and wakeboarding events.

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 I guess it is still too early to tell if she is a sporty kind of girl or one who loves to be indoors or both. We just need to give her the opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of activities and see if she is keen in any area.

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More importantly, it is our desire that she would pursue God first above all others. ;)

Quekling II @ 23 weeks

It seems that Queking II is of a smaller size than Faith. As I compared him to her, he weighed about 400g at this point as compared to Faith’s 500g in the same period. My overall weight didn’t increase a lot. In fact, three weeks had passed and I have only gained 0.3kg instead of the 1.5kg which I’m supposed to put on. I blamed it on the Glucose screening in which I was asked to fast from 10pm the night before ;p.

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Other than that, Quekling II seems fine.

Meanwhile, I have been exercising a fair bit from the household chores that seem endless. Not that I mind; I do derive enjoyment from fulfilling them at times. On top of that, I have been going for Pilates lessons regularly to stretch and strengthen those muscles and climbing of stairs. I think the least I can do for myself and my family is to take care of my own health. No?

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I’m hoping I will pass the glucose screening. Arghhh…

We have also been blessed by a dear friend who passed us baby clothes, baby cot, rocker and bumbo chair and other necessity for Quekling II. We didn’t keep a lot ourselves since (1) we are not hoarders; (2) I didn’t expect that I would want another kid when we gave away all those items and (3) we are certain that people would pass baby stuff to us if we are expecting another child. Muahahhah…. we have faith in our friends!

Weight: 53.3kg

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (#junehols2015)

By now, you would have known that I am a great supporter for the outdoors. If our country is blessed with the woods, jungles and mountains, you bet we would have gone for some trekking or camping by now. Thankfully, we have nature reserves, reservoirs and gardens for the children to roam and the next stop for us is Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

Again, this was not the first time that we visited this garden. It was our third visit and this time round, the hubs was around to explore the garden with Faith. Hopefully, he would enjoy it!

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The garden is really not very big but each time we visited this garden, we couldn’t fully cover it because the weather was basically too hot and in the end, we would end up at the fountains. So, if you intend to visit Jacob Ballas, always bring along your waterplay equipment!

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Experiential learning at the garden!

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When Faith was younger, she was scared stiff with this swinging suspension bridge but now I saw an improvement! She wasn’t rooted to the bridge anymore but gamely walked across it with her Papa.

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Who can forget this treehouse that is fully equipped with slides and ladders. For the previous two occasions, I wouldn’t even think of getting her to go on the slide. She was too young anyway but this time round, she agreed to go on the slide. Could you sense my excitement and pride?

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I know it is really no big deal for many of you but to me, it is. It shows how she has grown and developed over the months and how she is willing to attempt things that are out of her comfort zone. She went on the slide, not just once, but four times and we had to ask her to stop because the adults were bored. Hah!

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Doing the balancing act with Papa

20150606_085512There were really a lot more to explore in this garden but we were just sapped by the heat. We went through the Fantastic Forest, Photosynthesis Exhibit, Sandpit and Sensory Garden with much speed and finally ended up with the water play area which Faith looked forward to.

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With the hubs around, I could rest more and took on the role of the photographer. It’s so wonderful watching both of them spend time and have fun together. We should do more of such activities!

20150606_164824Back home, we worked on some playdough fun. The little girl has been hooked on playdough for the past month and I thought it would be good to have her work on stuff related to the garden. I found the gardening and growing playdough mat via this website and Faith had fun working on them. There are many free printables available so if your child is into playdough, you might want to take a look, print and laminate those mats!

20150531_170417To get her to continue to work on her beginning sounds, I got Faith to use playdough to create the letters (on the mat) and at the same time, practise the sounds together with her. Such activities can take up to one hour when she has the interest. No kidding!

Obviously, you can make your own playdough too but I’m just too lazy.

Some useful resources:

:: For playdough mat for counting to 10, click here.

:: Playdough mats of all sorts, from letters to shapes to numbers. Click here.

Farm visit (#junehols2015)

When I was younger, my ambition was to be a farmer. I like the idea of tending to the farm animals, growing my own crops and living a simple life in a rural setting. The fact that I had just returned from a very relaxing New Zealand trip helped to seal the decision then.

Of course, that didn’t materialise. But that will not stop me from visiting farms, will it?

And so I did. Last week, we brought the little one(s) to have some close encounter with the farm animals and though it was tiring (because of the heat), it was well worth it.

Our first stop was The Animal Resort. It was our second visit to this farm and we love how close we could get to the animals. This time round, I purchased the feed at $2 for 3 assorted packs for different kinds of animals so that the kiddos could get to experience feeding the rabbits, guinea pigs and the birds.

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For the past two terms, Faith has been learning the names and songs related to animals and when she saw this rooster, she instantly told me about that particular song taught by her Chinese teacher. I love how her face was lit up!

20150602_132448 Happy gal!

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For a while, I thought she was just so brave a girl until…

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…these 2-legged creatures came swarming towards us as I fed them and she hid behind me and shouted, “Go away!”

The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798061
Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am to 6pm
We stopped by a mushroom farm since it is located near The Animal Resort. Mycofarm is Singapore’s only specialist mushroom grower. Alas, when we were there, we were told by the staff that they have just harvested the mushrooms and all we could see were the logs. They kindly obliged us by having us view the Grow Rooms as they didn’t want to disappoint the kids!

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Faith loves mushrooms A LOT but she definitely didn’t like the smell in this room.

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We were treated to samples of warm mushroom soup and mushroom Bak Kua as we returned to the office. The ladies in the office were so hospitable and we left the farm with a few packets of mushroom soup and a few dollars poorer. ;p
Mycofarm Pte Ltd
9 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798057
Opens daily
The next day (yes, we spilt our farm visit into two days), we went to the other end of Singapore to visit the Kranji Countryside. There are many farms that we could visit but obviously we had to be selective. We visited the Hay Dairies but we didn’t manage to catch the milking of the goats which is actually the highlight if you are to visit this farm. So, we were out within minutes.
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I had wanted to visit the Jurong Frog Farm because on our last farm outing with Faith’s playmates, we didn’t make a reservation with them and couldn’t tour the farm. This time round, the timing wasn’t good for both parties and in the end, we had to give it a miss as well. But we’ll be back!
Off we went to Bollywood Veggies for some veggies tour and refueling at the bistro. I have personally been here for a few times (for food) but this was my first time touring the farm. I wish the weather was a tad kinder but the sun’s rays were beating on us mercilessly and we had to cut the tour short.
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Managed to pose for me!
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Look, Mama, it’s a banana plant!
Our last stop was Qian Hu Fish Farm because the girl just loves to watch the fish swimming in their habitat and the hubs wanted to try the fish spa. The little girl got to experience fishing (but caught none), feeding the fish and was fascinated by tortoises.
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After a few days of venturing out, the little girl had quite enough of it and wanted to stay at home. The learning journey to the farm would not be complete if there isn’t any follow-up activities! Haha!
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Reading is definitely an activity we cannot do without and I love the Usborne farm storybooks and colouring books. Faith loves to find out what’s under the flaps and I enjoy the information I read from the books too!
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Reinforcing vocabulary words through the colouring book in which she could learn the words of the various farm animals. Obviously, I have to read them out to her.
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Then, I got her to bring out her farm animals set and the word cards which I have made for her when she was younger. Now, she came and asked me what the words were and placed the animals accordingly. Goes to show that she understands that words have meanings attached to them.
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It’s time for some art! I wanted to teach Faith about the hooves of some of these animals and then she went on to pretend play. Oh well…
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The completed work
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We continued to work on the beginning sounds. Using corrugated paper for the letter, Faith was able to trace it using her finger and I searched words with that beginning sound and those that were related to the farm theme.
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We also revised some Chinese words that she has learnt in school lest she forgets all of them during the school holidays!
Hmm… where shall we be heading to next?

First MTP session (May 2015)

Last Friday, i met up with Faith’s teachers to discuss her progress in N1.

So it seems that she has adjusted well to school and is well-liked by all. She could share and take turns and has an eye for details. Ms V cited the example of the colour sorting task that requires the pupils to concentrate in matching the related colours. It is a rather advanced work for pupils her age but she could manage it well.

imagesFaith is also independent and prefers to do things herself rather than relying on her teachers. When she’s in doubt, she will ask the teachers. For language, it seems she knows her sounds and I’m advised to continue to revise the letter sounds during the school holiday. Maths’ wise, I need to continue to get her to understand that the symbols 1 -10 have meaning and to continue to practise working on that at home.

In terms of Chinese, Faith has to catch up (as compared to English). According to teacher L, she doesn’t want to speak the language during the lesson although when she was encouraged by the teacher to do so, she would. Teacher L told me that the little girl was actually listening in class but was afraid to speak up. She could name the items in Mandarin when she was assessed and that’s good. Well, I guess I would need to continue to speak with her in Mandarin. Our environment is really not conducive for learning Chinese!

IPuIVses4oOgCdYnqYySWe received her portfolio and progress report. All artwork are now displayed in her room which she is proud of. And, just look at how detailed the progress report is. Every area is noted by the teachers and as parents, we would be able to know how to help our children at home. Hats off for preschool teachers!

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So my current major concern for her is the Chinese language and I wasted no time. We happened to pass by a book fair organised by the Asian Festival of Children’s Content during the weekends and when I saw the Chinese books on display, I couldn’t resist! In the end, I bought a few sets of readers for the little girl because I would need to read to her more and to get her to recognise the Chinese words (though the latter is not so urgent).

20150603_203916I know I will be really busy during this school holiday. ;p

Chinese and Japanese Garden

This June holiday, I hope to bring Faith out to enjoy as many outdoor activities as possible. I would love to get her to explore the environment that she is in so that she could stay inquisitive and learn along the way; I just hope I have the patience to share with her! Building sweet memories, that’s part of the plan too. Initially, the family had wanted to go on a trip to Taiwan but that did not materialise in the end. No worries, we will tour our city-state instead!

This morning, we decided to visit the Chinese and Japanese Garden located at Jurong East. I had been there when I was a kid myself and another time when I was participating in a run while the hubs has not visited these gardens. It would be a good change from the usual gardens that we have visited.

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We reached the Chinese Garden at around 8am as we knew that it would be really killing to stroll in the heat if we had arrived later. We are also early risers so this timing is actually good for us. We had wanted to get Faith to skate-scoot in the garden but were told that that is not allowed. ;(

20150601_082309I’m rather impressed by the interior. It is well-kept and scenic and Faith was really engaged by the things that she saw along the way.

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My only complaint? The heat. But there is nothing we can do about it but to bear with it. Thankfully, the little girl didn’t complain at all.

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Bringing the little one to be in the outdoor as much as possible is something that I would do intentionally. Personally, I’m not one who loves to stay indoors because I believe she could learn more and be stimulated about the environment when she is in the outdoors. Getting her to appreciate nature is something I’m very mindful of and we could talk about God’s creations as we explore. Also, I don’t like her to be sheltered in air-conditioned areas for too long. It’s just not healthy.

20150601_083841The dragon girl with her Papa

20150601_083633And she willingly posed for us.
“Ouch! i’m bitten by the snake!”

IMG-20150601-WA0025We reached the Japanese Garden as we crossed the connecting bridge. There was this area where we saw a girl feed the fish and at that moment, I regretted not bringing some stale bread! Faith was really interested in feeding them but well, we didn’t have any food for them!

20150601_085132Beautifully sculpted plants. So zen…

20150601_085433She spotted squirrels and stayed in this spot for quite a while.
“Squirrels, where are you? Come down…NOW!”

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After walking for an hour, the little one was visibly tired and as she descended from a flight of stairs, she lost her balance and fell down, sustaining bruises and scratches on her right hand and face. Oh, poor girl. My heart ached for her but I have been trained to remain calm because if I had responded in panic, she would too. It must have hurt and she cried out. But thankfully, she was all calm after a minute. I really do think she has a high threshold of pain after all those episodes of falling. ;)

20150601_090740All is well again. No big deal right?

20150601_090817Manja queen.

We departed from the gardens in 2 hours’ time. It was a nice walk, really but I wish that the weather can be cooler. Of course, one shouldn’t compare these gardens with the actual ones in China and Japan. It’s a far cry to be honest but still, these gardens are a refreshing change as compared to the ones in our neighbourhood.

It would be good to pack some snacks along the way and definitely refreshing drinks are essential!

Chinese and Japanese Garden
Main Garden : 6am – 11pm (daily)
Bonsai Garden & Garden of Abundance: 9am – 6pm (daily)
Admission: Admission to main garden free.
Location: 1 Chinese Garden Singapore 619795

Children’s Season: Masak Masak 2015 @ National Museum of Singapore

We started our June holiday programme with Masak Masak, the annual Children’s Season at the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) on its opening day. It returns for the second edition from 30 May to 10 August 2015, Last 20150530_211540year, we attended with Faith’s playmates and although she was just 18 months at that time, she had fun going through the various stations. So you can imagine how happy I am that Masak Masak is back!

This year, the exhibition is made up of 10 installations which features playgrounds of the past and offers a host of activities and engaging exhibits by Singapore artists as well as internationally renowned ones.

Allow me to guide you through the various exhibits! And do make sure that you are equipped with this storybook (right) which helps to guide you through Masak Masak as you share some bonding moments with your kids at each installation.

 photo 20150528-MasakMasak-144_zpslmvg0ds8.jpg:: Playgrounds on the Lawn
Photo: National Museum of Singapore Collection

Remember these familiar playgrounds that we used to play when we were younger? Now they are back in the form of bouncy playgrounds on the lawn of NMS and they pay tribute to the familiar mosaic playgrounds designed by the Housing and Development Board for Singapore’s public housing estates in the 1980s. Do note that they are open for play on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-12pm (very hot) & 4pm-6pm.

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:: Spectrum of Paper

As you enter the main entrance of the museum, you will be greeted by a rainbow wonderland at the Rotunda. This colourful origami suspension is an installation by Mademoiselle Maurice who draws inspiration from the ancient Japanese legend that promises to grant the wish of anyone who folds a thousand cranes. As you look up, ask your children if they can spot any boats or planes!

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:: Spectrum of Paper

Mademoiselle Maurice’s Spectrum of Paper continues at The Salon with more intricate origami creations in the form of flowers and animals. It is her response to local artist, Jeanette Aw’s illustration of Sol* holding onto a string tied to a bird in flight.

* Sol is a character in Jeanette Aw’s latest illustrated book, Sol’s World: Somebody to Love. This book is available for sale at $19 at the Museum Label shop at Level 1. 

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I thought this is a good time to pay a minimum sum of $2 for some materials to teach the little ones to appreciate the art of paper folding in this inspiring setting. Erm, of course, I think Faith needs a lot of guidance!

20150530_093000:: Queen of the Forest

As you proceed into the Salon, you will see local artist, Jeremy Hiah’s response to Sol exploring nature with his adaptation of a local children’s folktale, Queen of the Forest. The scheduled performance is presented via specially created puppets. Faith has some fun creating her own puppets too with the materials that she purchased earlier.

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So I think the little girl doesn’t have the concept of how it works but such an exposure should suffice for now. ;)

20150530_093131:: Simple Pleasures in Life

I think kids love this wall mural which is specially created for Masak Masak 2015. Here, they can pick up a crayon and fill the wall with their favourite colours, bringing the drawing to life. Ahh… simple pleasures in life indeed. How often can our kids colour on the wall? ;p

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Our little girl definitely enjoyed this part of the exhibit.

20150530_101134:: Dancing Solar Flowers

At the concourse, the children can be engaged with a few activities. This Dancing Solar Flowers installation is a good platform to question children about our current use of energy and to think about sustainable energy sources for the future since they use solar energy to move. It’s a bit too abstract for Faith, I think .

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::Garden Games: Hello, Hello?; Flag Attack

If you have older kids, this area would be absolutely fun. The giant flower above is inspired by the tin can telephone and challenges us to figure out which cans are connected amid a tangle of coloured strings. And who can forget flag attack? I played this when I was in Primary School and had great fun! So I got Faith to play with me and obviously she didn’t quite get it. Arghh… no fun!

20150530_100743:: Garden Games: Can or Not?
Faith cannot toss a ring around the coloured bottles. No prize!

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:: Garden Games: Tilt
Navigating a ball out of the maze is highly difficult, even for the Mama!

20150530_094201:: Wanderlust

This is Faith’s favourite as she got to enjoy herself in this enchanting forest which is created from simple materials such as crepe paper! Explore this forest with your kids and get down on all fours. This is a good place to play hide-and-seek and imagine the thrill the kids could get as they crawl under overhanging branches and navigate low terrain, burrows and narrow thicket passageways.

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Erm, we definitely could get more adventurous than this. Ahem!

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:: Memory Stations

Another exhibit that Faith enjoyed is this group of 11 stations where one could take a walk down memory lane to learn about life in Singapore in the 1950s and 60s through the prints from woodblock printing. The children could get their hands on creating their own prints with the stamps provided. This is definitely a task that Faith could handle!

Luma-City by Lim Kim and Alfred Lim (National University of Singapore Division of Industrial Design) photo 20150528-MasakMasak-230_zpso4uixltu.jpg:: Luma-City
Photo: National Museum of Singapore Collection

Faith didn’t get to go through this last exhibit because there were too many children inside the Perform @ Play. Also, it was rather dim and the little girl wasn’t too comfortable with it. However, the older kids were having a whale of a time as they got the opportunity to play with the larger-than-life toy vehicles. All they needed to do was to give the toys a little push and they could watch the luminescent trails that appear and gradually fade beneath their feet.

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Besides these exhibits, there are also some special programmes such as the shadow puppetry workshop which is held on every Saturday in June at 10.30am (note that this workshop requires ticket) and puppetry performance by Singaporean artist, Jeremy Hiah (selected Saturdays). Oh, yes, don’t miss the Momolato at the Front Lawn every Saturday and Sunday from 30 May to 28 June (10am to 6pm). We missed that and it’s such a bummer. I’m sure the special gelato flavour will be a hit with most and do try their award-winning SG50 flavour, Good Old days, as well as other exciting ice cream and popsicle flavours!

Oh, wait! I think we are going back again. ;)

National Museum of Singapore
Children’s Season: Masak Masak 2015
Saturday 30 May to Monday 10 August
Daily, 10am to 6pm
Free Admission

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to the media preview of Masak Masak 2015 on its opening Day. No monetary compensation was given. 

(Gluten-free) Lavender shortbreads

For a while now, I have been reading up on gluten-free recipes and how the different ingredients work together when it comes to baking. This came about when a friend challenged me to bake a gluten-free cake for her since she is gluten intolerant.

I must say it isn’t easy for me to comprehend the endless combination of different flours, some of which are not used in my kitchen. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut explanation of the types of flour to use when and in what quantities, unlike the more conventional types of baking recipes that I’m used to. Many gluten-free recipes and books put me off until I came across this particular one – The Gluten-free Baker by Hannah Miles. The pictures are attractive enough and the recipes are straight-forward. This is exactly what I need to start my gluten-free baking adventure.

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I decided to try something simple to minimise failure. Cookies, aren’t they simple enough? We all started off with cookies, didn’t we? So I chose the lavender shortbreads since I have a good supply of culinary lavender in my pantry. Don’t waste!

For gluten-free baking flour, I choose to work with Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose baking flour. Granted that you can mix certain types of flours (such as tapioca flour, potato and rice flour) to make your own gluten-free flour but they are too complicated for me at the moment so I choose the ready-combined ones. In my recent baking, I have also switched to using organic raw sugar as compared to caster sugar whenever possible. The following is the adapted recipe.

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Ingredients

115g unsalted butter, softened
50g organic raw sugar
85g gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, finely ground
85g ground almond
a little milk, if required

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and add the lavender and ground almond. Bring together to a dough with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk t moisten it ( I didn’t have to do that).

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3. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, roll the dough into a long sausage shape with about 4cm diameter. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. At times, I prefer to use the freezer.

image 4. Once the dough is firmed up, cut into 1-cm thick slices and arranged on the prepared baking sheet, each at a small distance apart (they will enlarge when they are being baked). Press the back of a fork down into each shortbread to make ridges (for a nicer look but I forgot to do that!)

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet before serving.

:: These shortbreads will keep up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.

I was pleasantly surprised at how tasteful the shortbreads are. The cookies truly smell delicious as you remove them from the oven. If you are into gluten-free baking, this is one recipe you might want to try!

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