Dear Daniel (@ 4 months old)

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Dear Daniel

You turned 4 months old today! And mama realised that she hasn’t been recording much of your development. It’s not that you are less precious than your sister. It’s just that Mama is learning how to handle both of you and the learning curve is super steep. Now that things have gotten better, I’d better lock some of those memories here.

I remember during your first month, I asked the confinement lady if she was tired since she had to wake up in the middle of the night to bottle-feed you and her reply was,”He’s easy to take care of. Cry so softly and it’s like whimpering unlike some of the babies who scream. He’s considered gentle to me.”

I laughed at her comments but it’s so true. I have not really heard you cry that loudly. The only few times that you did was when you were hungry in the car and when I showered you. Since then, I make sure that you have your fill before we go places.

You take to the bottle well which is a relief for me since Papa is doing the night shift and that means I do not have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed you. I hope you are not giving him a difficult time! He has to work in the daytime, you know? But he has graciously offered to do the night shift because he knows I need the sleep or maybe he’s worried that I would harm you and Jie Jie if I don’t have enough rest? *Just kidding* On the average, you wake up 2 times for milk according to Papa and we didn’t bother to sleep train you since by doing that, you might wake Jie Jie up who has school the next day. We certainly hope you will grow out of it in due time, just like your Jie Jie.

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I want you to know that you have an awesome sister who treasures you a lot. Whenever Mama asks her to look after you, she would never refuse me because she just wants to spend time with you and take care of you like a good Jie Jie. She wishes that you would grow up quickly though because she can’t wait to play with you.

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You are very predictable and adhere to the same routine each day. You nap every 2 hours and have a longer 3-hour nap in the afternoon before retiring for the day at 7pm each day. In terms of bedtime, I must say you are much better than your sister. I don’t have to sing you songs or rock you to sleep. You just, well, fall asleep. Because of that, I could spend the evening with your sister. What a wonderful brother you are!

Today, you flipped and I missed you in action as your sister was asking me to play with her. I got distracted. Sigh! But it’s a neat surprise when I turned to see you in that “flipped” position! I was quite sure your neck was not strong enough since I didn’t really conduct tummy time often enough for you. So, I was surprised and literally cried for joy.

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Mama likes the way you observe your surrounding and this shows that you have a curious mind (colloquially we term it as ‘kaypoh’) and I absolutely love it when you flash that smile of yours whenever we chat you up. So adorable. Stay that way, will you?

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Mama will try to record your milestones and development diligently from now on. It has not be an easy 4 months but I’m reminded that I can always count on the Lord for strength daily. May you grow up to love the Lord and seek Him always.

Love
Mama

Be present

I’ve been quiet on this space. Fact is, I have been busy…with the kids.

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It started off with this cake, the first cake I made on the first Friday of January. I was mighty pleased with it but it did take a bit longer to make as compared to the other cakes, just because I couldn’t fully concentrate on working on it since I have two other human beings to take care of.

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I love making figurines and these took me two nights to complete after the family has retired for the day. I spent another afternoon baking the cake and working on the Italian Meringue Buttercream before assembling it. It was fun but I have to admit that it was rather stressful as well. I couldn’t give my full attention to the kids and the cake. As a result, the older girl became difficult to manage and needless to say, frustration gripped me.

The cake was delivered but the heart was unsettled. I enjoy making cakes and appreciate the extra ‘pocket money’ that comes with it. Till now, having no income still needs to get a little used to.  Baking cakes for others gives me a certain amount of self-worth. Of course, I know my identity is in Christ and not in these cakes but …

I know that being a SAHM is a calling and boy, it is so difficult and challenging. I was handling a lot of things at one time and that got me short-tempered and exhausted. I was always in a hurry and when Faith does things slowly, it got to me. Some of the common phrases she would hear from me are “Hurry up!”, “Wait,” “I’m busy. Can you be patient?”

Then I came across this article which spoke to me. It couldn’t be more timely. It’s a wake-up call for me to “be present”. I may physically be in the same room as the kids but my mind is elsewhere. Most times, it would be in the kitchen. Other times, it could be found tangled up in the to-do list.  The kids are smart beings and could catch that no matter how interested I may act.

The day I decided to “be present”, things started to turn for the better. I became more relaxed and started to play (I mean, really, I play) with Faith. She must have sensed that change in me and her usual sweet demeanor returned. We could work on a lot of homelearning stuff together because there is no need to spend time on disciplining her. It’s that wonderful.

I really ought to reflect on myself when I see changes in the kids’ behaviour. More often than not, it is a result of our own attitude and behaviour towards them. If they feel loved and secure, I’m sure they will bloom.

Because of my decision to “be present”, Faith’s emotional tank was filled and she could leave me to cook in the kitchen in peace while she busied herself with her own work. I didn’t have to tell her to do that. Sometimes, she even helped to entertain Dan!

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Then a most wonderful thing happened. I’ve decided to be bold and get the girl to take off her diaper when she goes to school. Her school teachers had told me that she was ready to be potty-trained some time back but I didn’t have faith in her ability to do that. All these while, she would wet her pants at home and I would fly into a rage, thereby frustrating her in the process. This time round, I was all cool and the amazing thing was there had been no “accident” at all except on one occasion when she was too engrossed in play when we were attending a workshop. You have no idea how elated I am and I’m praying that she could continue to keep this up. Perhaps by being relaxed, I have indirectly helped to potty-train her?

These past two weeks have been great. Faith gained back her confidence and was joyful all the time. Even the teachers and principal have given me positive feedback. It’s true to a great extent that the children are a reflection of how the parents treat, nurture and develop them. At least, it’s true in my case. I’m a happier mom and wife now and this also translates into a happy family.

I have had victories but I am very aware that there are still challenges ahead and I need to guard myself lest I fall prey to tiredness, frustration, worldly desires and bad thoughts planted in my mind. Pray…and pray unceasingly.

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[via]

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4: 8

Great start!

How’s your first week of 2016?

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For us (at least for me), it has been progressing well. The girl went back to school and she was so happy! There wasn’t any problem for her to get up each morning because she was so looking forward to meeting her friends and teachers. We started exercising as a family on the first Saturday of 2016 and hopefully, we could make this a regular activity. On the weekdays, Dan and I worked out too! After dropping F off at school, I would return home to work on #bbg or go to the park for a 30 minute brisk walk with Dan. He would then be on his tummy for some muscle strengthening! Our exercise plan seems to be working well. We are definitely taking baby steps!

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Since school started, F has been acting more independently though at times, she still whines and wants someone to play with her. These days, she picks up materials that she wants to work on thus releasing me to do my own stuff or to take care of Dan. There are even times that she helps look after the brother while I busy myself in the kitchen. She’s slowly becoming my good helper and Dan’s companion!

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I’m also getting better at food preparation, all thanks to the thermal cooker (this warrants another post). Faith gets really hungry after school and on the way back, she would ask me if the food is cooked. Thankfully, I have it all prepared and the food is ready once we reach home.

It’s been a good week overall and hopefully, the second week will continue to be one that is bright and cheery!

Hope your week’s been a good one too!

What’s up for 2016?

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Happy New Year, everybody!!

I’m one of those who makes resolution every year because I like the challenge (crazy me) and also it serves to remind me of my focus for the year. So here goes. I have eight main ones.

#1 Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) has done the family a great help in understanding His word better. All of us have been in the programme for the past 2 years and last year the hubs got more involved by serving in an area. That also translates to more time away from the family. But I think it’s good for him to continue to serve in that capacity and I’m sure the Lord will strengthen both adults to deal with whatever come our way.

This year, we should still be in BSF studying the book of Revelation. Yup, all 4 of us and we aim not to miss any lesson!

That includes Dan of course and I’m praying real hard that there will be a place for him (the infant class has been full since last year). I’ll continue to pull the girl out from school on the day when there’s BSF because to us, knowing God is ultimately more important than having more academic knowledge.

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#2 I’ll continue to prepare home cooked food and to add to that, to prepare Bento for the hubs to bring to office. Erm, I think he needs to watch his weight and therefore his diet because he has been expanding horizontally since coming back from Boston. Granted that it’s because of the nature of his job and there’s no time for him to exercise since he will be helping me with the kids when he comes back from work. Plus he works night shift (taking care of Dan) so the least I could do is to help him with his diet.

We want to be healthy and not fall sick right, don’t we? So eating right is crucial. It’s more important that exercising although you need both to have optimum results.

Please note that I’m not talking about dieting which is a different thing altogether. I don’t encourage dieting because more often than not, it won’t work in the long run.

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#3 Cook a variety of dishes. Okay, I think I need more variety in my food. I purchased a few cookbooks but I’ve no time to experiment with the recipes. So I hope to be able to cook a few new dishes and add them to the repertoire of meals that I prepare for the family. And every year, I resolve to learn to cook Peranakan dishes and every year, I failed to do that. Is it really that difficult, Lynn?

#4 Exercise together with the hubs. The hubs and I decided that we would still go ahead with #bbg. I’ve taken a look at NTC and Popsugar training Apps but because I’m lazy to design a training plan for ourselves, I think following #bbg is the way to go. It’s tough (oh, so tough!) but I think we must learn to persevere. Personally, I want to run a 5km and then 10km race this year. Who’s interested?

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Did my first run in 2016!

Would love to do a kids dash with Faith. Either GE or SCM ones.

#5 This year, I resolve to enrol F in music class. I don’t know if she will like it but I should at least expose her. If she doesn’t like it in the end, then it’s okay. I didn’t have any music lessons when I was young because my mom doesn’t see the benefits of it even though I wanted to learn. Till now, I’m a bit sore about it. Hahaha..

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Update: Got her enrolled and she started the lesson today!

I will also make swimming a weekly thing and teach F the sports. Not sure if I want to enrol her in a class since I can ‘teach’ but we’ll see how.

I had wanted to put her in some Chinese enrichment class last year but since we put her in school for an additional one hour for Chinese lesson, I don’t see the urgent need to do so. She really enjoys her Chinese lessons in school which is really good.

#6 Do not take more than 1 cake order per month. Much as I enjoy making cakes for others, I have to say that each cake takes up a lot of time and usually it eats into the time which I could spend with Faith and working on resources for her. Also, I compromised on family time during the weekends when there are orders and the hubs has to take care of the kids. Though it’s so kind of him to do that because he wants to support my passion, I think it’s rather unfair to him.

So this year, I will be taking fewer orders but bake more for leisure which makes me happier. There are really a lot to learn. This year shall be a year of learning for me.

#7 Meet up with friends and extend help where necessary. In other words, SERVE. I think I am really poor at this. In 2015, friends asked me out more than I asked them. I’m not exactly an introvert but I think I’ve decided not to make the first move because I wanted time for myself – ME time. But there is value in meeting up with friends to refresh and to be refreshed. Also, I’ve received so much practical help from friends in 2015 that I think the Lord is telling me to do likewise. “Get out of your comfort zone!”

#8 Take care of myself. You know, as a SAHM, we don’t really see the need to dress up cos we are often at home and dressing up (when we need to go out) takes too much of our time. At times, we don’t have time to erm… brush our teeth or clean our face because the kids wake up when we are in dreamland and we have to start ‘working’. In the end, we forgot about cleaning ourselves. I know this sounds yucky but it happened to me once! Then slowly I realised I prefer to dress in t-shirt and shorts and then look like a typical auntie.

Gua gua leh (Goodness gracious me!)

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Btw, this skin brush is really superb! Cleans the face so well!

So as a second time mother now, I make it a point to take care of myself. Skincare is important because I’m getting old and I really ought to put in effort in taking care of my skin. I should take the time to dress well too. I know confidence comes from within but looking good gives extra boost of confidence instantly.

I must also remember that I’ve a toddler girl who is observing and learning everything from me, from how I treat others to how I take care of myself. So I’d better buck up.

So, there you have it. Quite achievable right?

What’s yours? ;)

How’s your 2015?

It’s the last day of 2015 and I’m not sure what to think of it. What have I achieved this year?

I was just telling the hubs the other day that I felt I have done nothing much and 2015 seemed like a very plain year and he exclaimed, “You gave birth to a baby!”

Oh yes, I forgot about that.

I guess that day was one of the many bad days I have had in December.

Faith was down with cough since the beginning of this month and I was exhausted by the experience. We tried both the western and eastern medication and it caused much stress for me. To add to that, she was difficult to deal with and I found myself having to discipline her EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s really a tough battle. I know it’s not easy for her, she having to deal with the cough and then rashes and to have to share her parents with her brother. I wish I could empathize with her but only Mr Anger showed up.

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Non-stop coughing

This Christmas, I couldn’t feel the cheer at all and let it pass by silently.

Since today is the last day of 2015 and things have gotten better this week, I thought I should pen down some thoughts and reflections.

The beginning of this year saw Faith entering school for the first time and I was relieved and thankful that throughout this year, she has expressed joy in attending school and loves her principal, teachers and friends. This holiday, she has asked me (countless times) when school will reopen. Soon, my dear, soon! During the last Parent-Teacher-Meeting, her report was stellar and it’s really a joy to see her grow in all aspects.

Because I had three and eventually four hours to myself while the girl was in school, I could accept more cake orders. I started taking orders from strangers and the experience had been enriching and satisfying.

Obviously, the highlight for this year is the birth of Daniel. I’m thankful for an uneventful pregnancy and that I could experience a natural birth for him. And you thought that things would be all right for me since I have experience with the firstborn but this time round, I was completely caught off-guard.

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It isn’t that Daniel was a difficult baby. On the contrary, he’s easy to take care of. It’s Faith. I wrote about this in an earlier post and things got so bad that I started disliking her. How is this possible? It happened to me. I was overwhelmed with having to deal with all things related to the home and a baby and the last thing I want is her tantrums. I found myself shouting at her which I wouldn’t need to in the past (she was really a very cooperative and obedient child). All of a sudden, I feel that I’m a terrible mom which resulted in me having a depressing December.

Things got better this week. Perhaps, I just need to get the hang of things and have a routine of sorts. I have chosen not to engage any external form of help with the household chores and I have to learn to work more smartly around the house. With just a child, it’s easy. Now with a toddler and a baby, it calls for swift work and at times, a compromise on cleanliness. I can’t go for perfection anymore. I have also learnt to give more personal time to Faith which isn’t easy since my priority would be for the baby.

Three months. I learnt these in three months and I fully expect that there’re lots more to learn in the coming months… and years.

I hope things will be more positive when Faith goes back to school. I guess there will always be challenges along the way and that’s how we grow as parents. It’s really a tough job. Brace up, fellow parents!

Christmas at the Queks, 2015

Gingerbread cookies

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It seems that the images of gingerbread cookies would pop up each time I went into IG or FB and this spur me to bake my own gingerbread cookies. It was timely too since I have just read The Gingerbread Man story to Faith and I had wanted to have a baking session that is related to the story.

I only know one recipe for such a cookie and that is from Dorie Greenspan. Her speculoos’ recipe is awesome and I know I will not need to look any further. Speculoos are crisp brown-sugar cookies whose predominant spice is cinnamon. Eating them will definitely make you think of Christmas.

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This recipe yields about 24 large cookies and the rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

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  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 98g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to get rid of any dry spots.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until you have a circle that’s about ¼ inch thick. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t have rolling creases in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days)

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Choose a cookie cutter and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (or 12 minutes in my case for large cookies), or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.
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I got the little girl to decorate the gingerbread man using sprinkles after I have piped the border using Royal Icing. While in the midst of doing it, the baby decided to poo BIG time and I had to leave the job to Faith while I bathed him. When I came back, she had taken the piping bag and piped on two cookies.
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These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.

Christmas cheer for the kids

It started off with a simple plan of getting a few kids to learn baking since a friend’s daughter wanted to learn how to bake a cupcake. I didn’t want to mess up my own kitchen and asked her to book a function room in her condo. Then we thought we should just extend the invitation to the rest of the kids in our CG and in the end, from three girls, we had 12 children and 2 babies.

It’s highly ambitious to get the children to do hands-on baking and in the end, I decided that I should just do the demonstration and get them to decorate the cupcakes themselves, with the help of their mothers. The cupcakes were baked and the Italian Meringue Buttercream made the night before. I probably could use the cupcakes baked on the spot but since I have not tested the oven, I decided not to risk and bring along the cupcakes as a form of a back-up plan.

For this post, I will list some of the things to look out for when planning such a programme for the children.

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:: If possible, check that the oven is in working condition and get familiarised with it before the actual day.

:: Choose a recipe that is straight-forward and easy to follow, for the sake of the kids.

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:: Randomly pick the kids to help in the various stages, especially the ones who look bored. Since they can’t do the hands-on themselves, just getting them to help a bit here and there would sustain their interest.

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Before the kids decorated their cupcakes, I did a demo with one cupcake so that they would know exactly what was expected of them.

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:: If it helps in classroom management, rearrange the kids in their seating positions. Familiarity with each other (for the kids) may not be good for the facilitator. Get the older kid to sit with the younger one so that the former could render assistance.

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So pleased with their work!

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I had wanted to go on with decorating the gingerbread cookies which I had baked the day before but in the end, I abandoned that idea. I was getting tired! In the end, I just hand out the cookies to them so that they could bring home and eat. And yes, they devoured the cupcakes on the spot.

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We went on to get the children to work on craft using styrofoam cones and pipe cleaners and pom pom balls, all sponsored by a fellow mom.

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You would have thought that the children were tired after the cupcake decorating session but nope, they were more energetic than ever. Thankfully, this backup plan worked! Look at how motivated they were in completing their Christmas trees.

:: Always plan backup activities apart from the main one.

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What an expression! This girl doesn’t like to be posing in front of the camera anymore!

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After the craft, our lunch had not arrived yet. The kids were getting restless and thankfully, I had a book with me and fished it out and read to the kids. It’s the nativity story.

:: Always bring along a book for it will always come to be of good use. Reading is fun!

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Lunch came just as I finished reading the book. Thank God! The kids went for a short waterplay session at the kids’ pool outside after lunch and then headed home after that.

I felt so refreshed after hosting this gathering with my CG-mate. In a way, I want to return the favour to all the mothers present because they have blessed me in one form or another.

It is really more blessed to give than to receive.

 

[Foodie Fridays] Mango Chia Seeds Pomelo

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One of my favourite dessert is the Mango Sago Pomelo dessert and it is not difficult to make at all. To make a healthier version, I replaced the sago with Chia Seeds and since I don’t fancy the idea of drinking evaporated milk, I substituted it with coconut milk and pasteurized milk. I guess I could make it even healthier by using almond milk but I suspect the taste would be a tad different from the original. For now, I quite like how this version turns out – it’s somewhat the same as the one I like.

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I managed to yield 6 portions from this recipe.

200ml coconut milk
200ml milk
4 tbsp chia seeds (though I think 3 tbsp is sufficient)
400ml mango juice (I used Marigold’s Peel Fresh Tropical Mango)
3 mangoes

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  1. Combine both coconut milk and milk together and add in the Chia Seeds to allow them to bloom. Set aside in the fridge.

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2. Remove the flesh from the mango. Set aside some for garnishing later.

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3. Using a handheld blender, blend the mango flesh together with the mango juice until it is well-mixed.

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4. Add in the chia seeds + milk mixture to the mango mixture and stir until they are mixed well.

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5. Peel the pomelo and remove the flesh, breaking them up into smaller portions. I only used about half of the pomelo. Store the rest in the fridge.

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6. Pour the mango mixture onto a glass and top it up with mango bits and pomelo.

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This is best served chilled and I reserved a few bottles in the fridge and ate them a day later. Still mighty good. I don’t usually make this dessert but because I saw both the main ingredients for sale in the supermarket and decided to make it.

Really pleasurable!

[Motivational Monday]Minus Calories: The 30-minute workout + Giveaway

It has always been my goal to gain back my stamina and fitness level after my pregnancy. From my previous experience, I know that life after a baby can be busy and my own health could be ignored if I don’t intentionally set aside time to exercise. Now with two children, it’s even worse.

I know that it’s probably wise to start slow because my body is still recovering from the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth and I would need some time for it to be ready for a more vigorous workout. So, after my confinement period, I did stretching and toning exercises at home and then I was invited to try out Minus Calories at Active Hive.

Minus Calories? What’s that? I had that exact question when I heard of that name.

It is basically a 30-minute workout that specifically targets fat burning, detox and helps to tone and firm the body. The workout incorporates innovative technology to intensify one’s rate of fat burning and improve one’s fitness. It optimises calories reduction and could burn calories more than 5 times faster than the normal workouts – at least 500 calories in that 30 minutes!

As a person who has used the gym before and exercised regularly, I know it is highly difficult to burn that amount of calories in 30 minutes. With a curious and skeptical mind, I went to check it out.

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On my first visit, I was given a body composition analysis before an anti-cellulite and body sculpt cream was applied on my arms, tummy area, thighs and calves. Thereafter, I spent the next 30 minutes on the elliptical machine with the presence of Infrared and Ionised Air technology while watching some (cooking) videos on Youtube. On that very first session, I burnt 586 calories.

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I found myself looking forward to the next few sessions as I was told that they could programme the workout such that I could burn more than 1000 calories since my stamina wasn’t that bad. It seemed like a challenge that I like! Moreover, I absolutely love the juice that was freshly squeezed and which I drank with much pleasure. It’s so refreshing!

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The subsequent sessions saw me burning more calories and by the end of the 5th session, I burnt 1506 calories in 45 minutes. The infrared technology enabled  me to burn that much because it heats the skin to make it perspire more and the calorie burning process is sped up. There is also a whole range of benefits that the infrared technology gives such as stimulating collagen production, reducing body aches or pain and improving our immune system. Each time after the workout, I felt rejuvenated rather than exhausted. Besides the infrared technology, the ionized air also supplies purified oxygen to rejuvenate the skin cells and improve the respiratory system. Although I didn’t feel tired or experience aches after the workout, you can be sure that I slept very well that evening.

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3rd session: Love the glow and obviously the juice!

Here’s what I appreciate about the Minus Calorie at Active Hive:

  1. Each session is by appointment only and that means you have the privacy to work on those muscles. You wouldn’t need to be bothered by the stares of anyone because there’s only you in the room.
  2. I could multi-task in the sense that I could watch videos on the screen while working out. It’s definitely a luxury for me because I don’t have time to watch TV at home. No kidding!
  3. Minus Calories uses the elliptical machine which is kind to my knees.
  4. I don’t feel the soreness on my legs even though I have burnt so much calories. On the contrary, I feel good and refreshed after each session and all ready to assume my responsibilities when I get back home.
  5. It’s a time-saver as I don’t have to spend too long on the exercise and yet yield maximum results. This is an important point (time-wise) as I need to get back home to feed the baby or pump (I’m currently breastfeeding).
  6. I share the same beliefs as Active Hive in that they advocate right nutrition through making better choices of quality food along with juicing.
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Some of the health food (superfoods) available at Active Hive

To me, the time to work out on Minus Calories is really a great ME time. I got to unwind and recharge after each session. There is no calling of “Mama”, “Mama”, just sounds from the videos that you are watching.

In that two and a half weeks, I lost an inch both at the waist and hip but more importantly, my muscle mass has increased which is what I wanted.

The Minus Calories 30-Minute Workout is only available at Active Hive (65 Ubi Road 1 #02-88, Oxley Bizhub, Singapore 40872 | Tel: 6385 2758).

If you are interested to find out more, you can book a trial workout with complimentary body composition analysis at only $38 (UP $103) with them. They can be reached at 63842758/ 92364678 or email them at activehive@gmail.com

OR

Participate in my GIVEAWAY!

THREE readers will stand to win 2 workout sessions* with Body Composition Analysis and Post Workout Juice worth $178.

All you need to do is to LIKE and SHARE this post (Sharing is caring!) and comment on this blog why you would want to win these workout sessions.

Do visit Active Hive’s Facebook Page to find out more on Minus Calories.

*These sessions do not include the Body Firming and Anti-Cellulite cream.

CLOSING DATE: 21st December 2015

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Mango Chia Seeds Pomelo Pudding

Disclosure: I was invited to five sessions of the workout and was given one more since it wasn’t programmed properly on one particular session (but l I managed to burn off 580 calories in 50 minutes).  I was also given a pack of Quinoa seeds to try them out and I went on to purchase the Chia seeds (above) using my own pocket money. No other forms of monetary compensation is given and opinions above are truly mine. 

ABM_1450770592Update! Congratulations to these 3 beloved ladies! You will be notified by Active Hive regarding the 2 workout sessions soon! Have fun sweating it out!

[Foodie Friday] Hokkaido Milk Bread

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The other day I was shopping at the supermarket at I12 and saw packets of Hokkaido milk for sale. My first thought was to use it to bake the Hokkaido Milk Bread and it was weeks later that I got to bake it.

This recipe is taken from the video above and it uses the Tang Zhong method which promises a soft bread texture. I used about 250g of the bread dough to make red bean buns since Faith and I love red bean anything. This time round, I used the paste from the can but the next time I bake them, I’ll make sure to make it from scratch.

For the Tangzhong
250ml water
75g all purpose flour

For bread dough
375g all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast (2.5 tsp)
125ml Hokkaido Milk
1 egg
145g tangzhong
3 tablespoons butter, melted

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1.    To prepare the tangzhong.  In a medium heat pan, combine water and flour mixture until it thickens like a paste.  Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

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2.    To prepare the dough, sieve the flour and combine with sugar, salt, and yeast in the mixer bowl.  In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, butter to the egg and whisk to combine.

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3.    Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix for 1 minute.  Add 145g (1/2cup) of the tangzhong and continue to mix until a dough is formed. The texture should be smooth and sticky. Store the remaining amount of TangZhong in the refrigerator for at most 3 days.

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4.    Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to proof until double the size, about 1 hour.

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5.    Sprinkle some flour on the counter surface.  My dough weighs about 780g and I set aside 250g of the dough for my red bean buns. Divide the remaining dough into 4 equal pieces and use a circular motion to shape them into balls.

6.    Using a rolling pin, roll dough into an oval shape disk about 1cm thick, fold the edges to the middle and roll again into 1cm thick.  Roll to form a tube like shape

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7.    Place 4 rolls seam side down into an oiled loaf pan. I used a silicon one.

8.    Let it rise again until double in shape for another 30 minutes to an hour.

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9.    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Do an egg wash on the surface of the dough and bake the loaf for about 15-20 minutes in total.  When you see that the loaf turns golden brown, cover the bread with foil to prevent over-browning.

10.    When the bread is ready, let it cool for 5 minutes and shake it off the pan and place it on the cooling rack.

For the red bean buns, I weigh five 50g bread dough and roll them into balls. Thereafter, I divide the can of red bean paste into 5 portions. Each ball of dough is flattened and then the red bean paste is wrapped inside it. Then put it into the muffin pan with the seam side down.

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Bake the red bean buns together with the Hokkaido Milk Bread for the same amount of time.

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A word of caution though. Look at the bun that has ‘exploded’? That’s because I put too much red bean paste in it. And you are right. I didn’t divide the paste properly so when it came to the last bun, I tried to stuff as much paste as possible. ;(

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The Milk Bread is truly soft!
Try it when you are free.
;)

Book Study -One Smart Cookie

[This post is first published in the Asian parent]

Reading is one of our favourite past time and recently, I decided to plan learning activities based on the stories that we have read. One of the titles is ‘One Smart Cookie’ and boy, did we have fun!

I must say that the content of this story is a tad difficult for a 3-year-old but we can always improvise. I like it that the illustration is clear and that there are values that we can learn from the story. We read the story once through before the commencement of each activity. Don’t worry, the kiddo doesn’t mind rereading the book.

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One smart cookie : bite-size lessons for the school years and beyond
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Available in NLB
Call Number: English ROS

Practical Life

Faith and I had a baking session after reading this book. Since it is about cookies, I got the girl to help me bake a batch of buckwheat cookies. During the process, I introduced her to the names of the various equipment as well as the ingredients. The little girl was proud to be able to assist her mother and definitely enjoyed the cookies after they came out of the oven!

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Values

One of the words in the story that I want to highlight to Faith is ‘Kindness’ and that means giving some of the cookies to her friends. I got her to pack them in a bag and give it to a family whom we were visiting the other day. The word literally came alive!

Art & imaginative play

Faith loves to play with playdoh and it would be fun to get her to cut out various shapes from the cookie cutters and decorate the cookies herself. It was followed by a time of pretend play in which she ‘baked’ the cookies in her own kitchen oven and then offered the baked goods to her furry friends, the soft toys. So much conversation was taking place!

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Math

Numbers and counting can be boring on paper. Why not use food to make it more interesting? After printing out pictures of cookies, I laminated them and have Faith count and put the specific number of M & Ms needed onto the cookies. There was so much energy and motivation from the little girl. Who says Maths is boring? ;)

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Language arts

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me

Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C

After reading the story, I got Faith to think about words that start with C and to revise the initial sound ‘C’ with Faith.  Scaffolding is needed and I thought the video on C is for Cookie helps to set the stage for this activity.

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What would the next title be, I wonder?

[Motivational Monday] The gifts

The hubs took leave today to spend my birthday with me.

We didn’t plan anything grand. In fact, it was just another ordinary day for us. But I’m thankful…

…thankful that I can spend a slow breakfast with my family.

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…thankful that I could do grocery in the supermarket because without the hubs, it would be a highly challenging task for me with the two kids around.

…thankful that Dan is growing well.

20151207_112922Dan’s 2-month checkup.
Wt: 5.1kg
Ht: 57cm

… thankful that Faith is a caring sister to Dan and has many good qualities in her although there are still a lot of areas she has to work on.

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Wanted to buy this set of baking equipment for her but she didn’t want, explaining that she had already. Self-control in action and I really ought to learn from her.

…thankful that the hubs agreed to attempt BBG with me and today, we did out first set. Yay! More to go?

… thankful that I could prepare meals for my family and that they like the food.

… thankful that I could squeeze in time to bake to appreciate someone who helped us even though he may not know us personally.

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To be able to spend time with the family and do the things I love are gifts for me on this somewhat special day. There is really no need to ask for more because I have everything I need and I’m blessed.

 

Cardboard Christmas tree

A Christmas tree set up in the home gives a very warm and cozy feel and the spirit of that festival is immediately felt. Alas, our apartment is too small for a real tree but we can manage a small one all right. So I got Faith to work on one using cardboard.

While she was at the church camp, I got my materials out and all I needed to do was to cut the cardboard and green felt cloth in the shape of a Christmas tree.

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This set of materials could be packed in the busy bag for the kid to work on.

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This is really a simple craft. All Faith needed to do was to get the double-sided tape to paste the balls onto the tree and the star on top of it. Since she knew how to handle the scissors and the tape, I left it to her to complete the task.

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This requires a certain level of concentration though.

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I tried very hard not to interfere with how she decorated the tree.

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This is her completed tree, all done in 15 minutes. Notice the two red balls at the bottom of the tree? I really did control myself by not readjusting them.

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The Christmas tree, sitting proudly on top of the piano.

CoCoICHIBANYA, Japanese curry lovers’ paradise

[Food review]

Are you a Japanese curry rice lover? If you are, you would be in for a treat.

CoCoICHIBANYA, the world’s most famous curry house, opens its fifth outlet in Singapore, and this time it’s at Plaza Singapura. This outlet follows the modern bistro concept of the fourth one in Westgate and provides a cozy joint for the diners.

On invitation, our family went down to try out the food at CoCoICHIBANYA. To be honest, I was a tad apprehensive. I love Ramen, Sashimi and Sushi but Japanese curry rice is not an item I would usually order. My impression of the curry rice is tarnished by those instant curry mixes which are loaded with saturated fat, MSG and preservatives. To put it simply, I’m not a fan. Besides, my daughter, Faith, has not tried curry before and I’m not sure how she would take to it?

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We were among the first few diners that day and were seated near the glass window which gives a paramount view of Orchard Road.  We went with a stroller and I’m thankful that there is sufficient space for us to park it. The server was helpful and settled us in without much fuss.

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I just need to warn you, that there is a wide selection in the menu (from various renditions of chicken to beef prepared in different styles as well as a variety of seafood and vegetarian options) and if you are like me, who cannot decide quickly on the spot, it might help that you browse the menu prior to dining at CoCoICHIBANYA. But no stress, really. You can always consult the friendly servers!

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Apart from the variety of choices in the menu, there is also an option to customise my own curry rice. I can choose to adjust the amount of curry, rice, spiciness level or add any number of toppings. This is certainly helpful since I don’t consume a lot of rice and I prefer spicy food.

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The hubs ordered the Pork Cutlet Omelette Curry Rice while I had the Kimchi one. On top of that, we also tried the Spring Baby Horse Mackerel Karaage and Salmon Cream Croquette.

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It’s no surprise that the hubs ordered the Pork Cutlet Omelette Curry Rice because he could have the best of both worlds. I took a bite of his dish and found that the omelette went well with the curry though I wish that the pork cutlet could be more tender.

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I had the kimchi one and liked it. The meat was tender and the kimchi taste, strong. I had the dish at level 3 for the spice level and my tongue was burning a little. Not sure if the spiciness was contributed by the kimchi or the level 3 (extra hot) curry. You’ve been warned.

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What about the girl? So, this is really the first time that Faith was introduced to curry (I don’t cook curry at home) and I wasn’t sure how she would respond to it. Initially, she looked at her dish pensively before tasting the curry and … she seemed okay with it. Oh yes, do ask the server for the clinically-looking bib for your child. Eating curry could be a messy business for young children.

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Before you knew it, she was on her way to finishing up her portion. It’s always a delight to see your child enjoying her meal.

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If you intend to order side dishes, may I recommend the Spring Baby Horse Mackerel Karaage and Salmon Cream Croquette? Both were cooked well and truly delicious. Faith enjoyed the Mackerel Karaage a lot and I had to stop her from eating more lest there was none for us left.

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We had an enjoyable lunch at CoCoICHIBANYA at PS. I’m thankful that there was no loud thumping music that drove diners to complete their meals quickly and we could have our meals in peace. The baby slept through lunch (except for once when he needed to be cradled) and there was no complaint from the toddler.  It was all pleasurable and we appreciate the prompt service.

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We had the chocolate crepe cake for dessert and it was wiped out in an instant. Enough said.

Would I dine at CoCOICHIBANYA again? You bet. The food is served with a decent portion and is value for money. I find that the curry is pleasantly mild and yet at the same time rich, unlike the ones I had previously which were too rich for my liking. But then again, taste differs from person to person. Nope, I’m not a convert to Japanese Curry Rice yet but there is always the spaghetti and salad if I feel like it. There are still a lot more on the menu that I have not tried and I’m already eyeing the Seafood Basket and Wagyu Beef Steak Curry the next time I visit.

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CoCoICHIBANYA is now having a promotion for the students. If you have kids who are school-going, they could enjoy 15% off upon presentation of their student card between 3 – 6 pm on Mondays to Fridays. However this will not be valid with other promotions. Do enquire with the service staff before ordering. ;)

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Thank you, Agnes & CoCoICHIBANYA for the invitation. Our family had a wonderful lunch and we are hoping for an outlet in the eastern part of Singapore. ;)

CoCoICHIBANYA
Opening hours for all outlets:
Sun-Thur: 10am to 10pm
Fri – Sat: 10am to 11pm
Website: www.cocoichibanya.com.sg

Christmas wreath, 2015 edition

December is here! And that means Christmas is approaching! Similar to the previous year, I would be busy scouting for craft ideas for Faith and the first craft that we did was the Christmas wreath.

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For the 2014 edition of the wreath, all Faith needed to do was to tear some papers into pieces and paste them onto the round cardboard using double-sided tape. This year, I got her to use the glue and wrap the cardboard using green and red origami paper.

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The materials are all recycled and I used whatever stuff I have in my craft bag.

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So Faith just needed to follow the red, green, red, green pattern to complete her share of the wreath which was an easy task, I feel. Thereafter, I got her to flatten some small cupcake cases and paste it on the cardboard.

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Her part. Completed.

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Next, I used a brown string and encircled the wreath with it, followed by attaching two bears at the bottom of the wreath. The wreath would look better with brown bears but those are the ones we have. It’s better than nothing!

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These bears will welcome you if you visit us. I’m hoping I could read more stories about Christmas to Faith and spend some time working on more craft. Let’s just see how things will progress. ;)

Coconut bread roll

Last week, my friend, T, invited us to her place and got the little ones to help with baking bread roll. I must say it was fun and the bread delicious and the thick-skinned me got her to share the recipe with me. She got it via a Chinese app and since my Chinese isn’t that good, she translated the ingredients and their quantity for me. I finally got down to baking it this morning so here’s a record of it.

Bread dough

250g bread flour
30g castor sugar
2g salt
3.5g yeast
40g egg
50g whipping cream
75g milk (slightly warm so that it can activate the yeast)
15g unsalted butter at room temperature

I didn’t have the bread maker and did the dough using the standmixer with the dough hook. Basically place all the ingredients together except for the butter and mix together. When they are mixed well, add in the butter and continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixer bowl. Then run the window pane test.

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Once it’s ready, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let it proof for about 40 min to 1 hour or until it has increased to double the volume.

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While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the next set of ingredients – the coconut spread.

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70g coconut flakes (from Cold Storage)
40g egg
25g castor sugar
15g milk powder
10g unsalted butter at room temperature

Mix all the above ingredients together except for the coconut flakes.

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The recipe given recommended using a cake tin that measures 27.6 x 17.8cm but I just use whatever tin or baking tray I have.

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Roll the dough into a rectangular shape and spread the mixture onto the dough.

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Sprinkle the coconut flakes on top of the mixture evenly and then roll the dough from the furthest end to the one nearest to you.

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Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place them onto the baking tray.

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After this, let it proof for about 20 minutes. Do allow some space in between each roll as they will expand when they are being baked. Meanwhile, switch on the oven to 180C.

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Before placing the tray into the oven, I did an egg wash with the remaining amount of egg. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

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So, that’s lunch for today. Thanks, Trisa for sharing the recipe! I hope I have translated correctly!

Some photos from that day…

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;)

 

[Motivational Monday] It takes discipline

Three weeks have passed since my last entry on Motivational Monday and it has not been smooth sailing in terms of my exercise plan.

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It started off well, actually. We and another family went to the beach and did some exercises on one weekend. Faith could ride on her skate-scooter and I could do a slow jog with the stroller alongside her. The pace was good and I felt awesome and sincerely planned to do such a jog when F was in school during the weekdays. But it didn’t happened.

5th week postpartum and things started to get rough. I was trying to establish a routine and I realised it’s not easy with two kids now. I had difficulty dealing with Faith as she threw tantrums and whined over the slightest thing and then Dan needed to be soothed and carried. Just dealing with these two children took up much time and I realised I need to work smarter in the kitchen. So whatever free time I have in the morning (while Faith was in school), it was used to prepare lunch and dinner and to do the other household chores. By the time those were done, it was time to pick Faith up from school. My planned exercises didn’t materialise as a result.

20151124_120609Now that Faith is having her school holidays, things get even trickier. I tried to squeeze in dips and planks whenever I could and climb the eight flight of stairs whenever the kids are not with me. Thankfully, I was invited to try out a machine called the Calorie Burner which helped me eliminate at least 500 calories in half an hour ( I will do a review on that in another post) and that is the only exercise that I was consistent in for the past 2 weeks. Apart from these, exercises were reduced to a bare minimum unless you count household chores as a form of workout.

It’s December come tomorrow and I have targetted to start #bbg this month.  My gynae has given me good report on my health during my 6th week postpartum checkup and I believe my body can accept more vigorous workout.

Now I just need to be more disciplined and stop popping those Ferrero Rocher into my mouth whenever I feel stressed out dealing with the two kiddos.

Oh, Mr Discipline, please visit me!

de4ed212ab72b797e2837a455747596f[via]

Opening party for Sew Into It

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking some sweet treats for the opening party of Sew Into It, a one stop sewing workshops and fabric store in Singapore. If you can recall, I sewed my first dress for Faith under the guidance of Amy, my friend whom I have met in Boston and one of the two partners who started this enterprise.

Initially, I wasn’t keen to bake since I wasn’t sure if I could cope with two kids now. But I couldn’t find any other baker friends who could bake for them and in the end, I decided that I should just try. Part of me wanted to play a part too in their opening party. ;)

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Karen, the other partner, requested for 50 cupcakes and a vanilla sponge cake with the party logo on it. Without the kids, I would have been able to bake and manage all these in a day. Now, it took a few days, including the buttons that were made from fondant. Thankfully, the sweet treats were completed by the stipulated timing.

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Welcome to the party!

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This is Amy who taught me how to sew the dress. When she shared with me her vision for Sew Into it, I was happy for her. She has wanted to use her skills to reach out to the less privileged which is really typical of her.

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Blessing others through Sew Into It.

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Sew Into It has courses for the young ones. So if you are thinking of getting your kids to acquire some skills in sewing, you might want to check out their website for relevant workshops?

Erm, Faith was just posing here. She is a bit young for sewing.

All the best for your venture, Amy and Karen!

[Wordless Wednesday] Featured

Mid-week.

Was dealing with some domestic affairs and was obviously flustered and frustrated when a friend whatsapped me and asked if the following was my creation.

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So it is.

I wasn’t surprised since the bride has told me about it and asked how I wanted to be mentioned.

Nope, I don’t want to be mentioned. I’m just glad to be given this opportunity to make this wonderful cake. It’s been a pure joy and working with an easy-going bride made it even more enjoyable.

It’s been a rather tough afternoon today but I’m encouraged by this.

Read the full text here.

Faith turns 3

Dear Faith
You turn 3 years old today and Mama is blessed to have you as my daughter. You are truly a gift from God.

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You have grown to be more independent as the days passed, preferring to do things yourself instead of having us help you. You have an inquisitive mind and love exploring and asking questions to the point of irritating me. I remember I was once fearful that you were the quiet sort or that you had speech delay and before I knew it, you were chatting non-stop. During the recent Parent Teacher Meeting, all your teachers sang praises of you, commenting that you are independent, sociable, learns fast and are well-liked by all and I’m comforted that you truly love learning.

However, you do know that I had a difficult time with you recently, eh? You have always been my little companion and I like doing things with you. But nowadays, I would have to spend some time with your brother since he’s still quite helpless in a lot of ways and would need me. I thought you knew that before he came out of my womb. For the first two weeks since he was born, you were really sweet and I thought you would have no problem in adjusting to your new role but apparently, I was wrong. You began to throw tantrums, big ones, and cry for no good reasons. Mama was completely caught off-guard. “What on earth is happening to you?”

You didn’t listen to us and went ahead to do what you wanted which really upset both Papa and me. When you couldn’t get your way, you cried out really loudly and hysterically, kicking your legs to show your frustration. You really tested my patience. I am human after all and there is only so much I can handle. Taking care of both you and Dan is a challenge when there is no help. The last thing I want from you is your tantrums. I find myself scolding you so much to the point that I just want to stay away from you. And when I did that, I could see the sense of abandonment in your eyes and my heart broke when you cried out helplessly to me, “Mama!”

To be honest with you, I feel resentment slowly welling up in my heart. I was exhausted and it didn’t help that you were not cooperative. I felt like a total failure at times because I didn’t know how to handle you all of a sudden. Where is the Faith that I knew all along? The sweet and caring girl, the one who came rushing up to me when I puked and asked,”Are you ok, Mama?” when I was carrying Dan during the first trimester. Where, oh, where has she been?

Faith, I love you. You should know that. You don’t have to act up to get my attention. You definitely don’t have to take the cue from Dan and cry so that I would tend to you. In fact, the more you throw your tantrums, the more I want to get away from you. I know you feel insecure right now but your fear is unfounded.

I’m sorry that I hit you out of anger that day. I know it’s wrong and that’s why I want to stay away from you lest I respond in anger again.

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Despite all these, I’m immensely thankful that you have been treating Dan with great care and I can totally sense that you are proud to be a big sister to him. Whenever we go out, you would proudly announce to my friends or even strangers that he is your baby (anyway, you should say’brother’ instead). You help me take care of him when I’m busy in the kitchen and even read him stories. That’s so sweet of you!

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Dear Faith, as you turn 3 years old, my prayer for you is that you will grow in wisdom and maturity and continue to be a good sister to your brother. I’m praying constantly that this difficult phase be over and that we could have fun like before.

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I love you. Do not doubt me.

Lovingly,
Your mama.

img1448026637057We celebrated her birthday with our cell group as requested by her and of course, a ‘Let it go’ chocolate cake specially made for her.

[Foodie Friday] Buckwheat cookies

It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing and I wanted to test if the oven is still in working condition. So I thought why not bake some cookies using the ingredients I had at home. Looking through the recipes I have on the blog, I decided to go for buckwheat cookies and got the little one to join me. It’s a fuss-free recipe which I needed at that moment!

20151113_155957All ready to help out!

While the little ones were napping, I got the following ingredients ready:

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
110g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk, beaten

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1. Heat the oven to 325F/ 165C. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk to mix (easy for the girl to do). Using a standmixer, beat the butter in a bowl until fluffy and add the egg yolk. Beat in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

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2. Form tbsp of dough into balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Use a fork to press the dough into 3/8-inch-thick rounds. This is the part which I got the little one to help again and she’s elated.

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3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool on a rack.

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Isn’t it easy?

[Motivational Monday] A new beginning

The end of the confinement period signals the beginning of an adventure for me. By that, I mean going back to exercising. “Chey”, do I hear you say that? But exercising is important to me and there are certain sports which I love such as running, swimming and cycling. I would love to attempt triathlons again but l have to be realistic. How can I find the time to train?

I put on a total of 11kg during the second pregnancy and as of today, I have 1kg to 2kg more to shed, depending on which part of the day i weigh myself. Numbers aside, I’m more interested in gaining back my stamina and fitness and to adopt a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating well through wholesome food.

During the confinement period, I scouted for doable exercise regime that can be done at home. From previous experience, it is a complete waste of my money to sign up for a gym membership because I can only visit the gym once a week and for a short period of time (since I’m breastfeeding = the need to rush back home to pump or feed). I need to exercise from home and one that does not require too much time.

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I found a programme that might suit me. It is Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (#bbg) Don’t get me wrong. I’m not aiming to flaunt my body. I chose that programme because it can be done at the comfort of my home and it takes about 30 minutes of the actual workout. I also like how the community of ladies encourage one another to press on in the journey so YWNWA.

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The programme can be pretty intense (if you study it) and I know for sure that my body is not ready to be beaten up…yet. So for these coming few weeks, I would be toning and conditioning my body so that I can eventually attempt it and not have to give up halfway through. I’m also waiting for the haze to clear so that I can jog with Dan in the stroller. Just a few more weeks to go before I embark on the programme!

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Meanwhile, I have been doing a lot of stretching and conditioning exercises using the Loopz band which I have acquired five years ago.

My ultimate goal?

To participate in a 10km run in 2016 with a sub 1 hr timing, which is where I have left off before I became a mother. Bleh.

Dan is 1 month old!

The boy is 1 month old today! Oh, what joy!

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It has been a busy day as we delivered the full month’s boxes of goodies to our relatives. This time round, instead of western desserts like cakes and tarts, we decided on something traditional like nonya kuehs.

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From Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery

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But this was not before the hubs and I had a slow breakfast discussing Faith’s recent change in habits and attitudes. The last two weeks hadn’t been all blissful. Of all times, Faith had to fall sick during the third week of the confinement period and she was all cranky and whiny. She cried at the slightest thing and sometimes we had absolutely no clue as to what caused her sudden change in attitude. Just a few days before, she was this excited and caring sister to Dan and then she morphed into one who was disobedient to her parents and always up to mischief.

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I was frustrated, no doubt. Added to this was the fact that my breast was engorged and I had very sore left nipple, thanks to Dan’s poor latching. When would all these pain end?

Thankfully, the confinement lady (CL) was all understanding and told me to be patient towards the girl who was obviously having a hard time transiting to her new role and having to share her parents with her brother. “Get her to help you more. She will appreciate it.”

And one evening, after cleaning Dan, the CL placed Dan on Faith’s lap. The little girl was pleasantly surprised. At last, someone trusted her enough! You see, I had not allowed Faith to get close to Dan because she was coughing and many times, she forgot to cover her mouth or to turn away. I wouldn’t want Dan to catch the bug and thus forbade her to get too close to her brother.

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Since that incident, Faith started to care for her brother more but her whines and cries continued until I had enough and asked her where she learnt it from. “From baby…”

She must have come to the conclusion that we would tend to her and give her attention if she cries, just like her brother. Poor girl. I admit, that in grappling with the changes, I had forgotten to pause and laugh at her silly acts (which she purposely did so to make me happy). I had, more often than not, asked her to wait and wait and wait while I tend to her brother. I had also ignored her desire to want to be more involved with Dan, together with her mother, and not to be left alone to do her own thing. Oh, the damage that I have done to her.

And then the mother’s guilt!

So, I’ve decided to intentionally set aside some time to spend with her (let’s call it mother-daughter bonding time) and sneaked out on one of the confinement days to do what women love – shop and eat! Boy, was she happy and we were both recharged!

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So, has life gotten better now?

Nope.

In fact, ever since the CL left (which was 2 days ago), I have been trying to ‘work things out’. Having two kids is definitely different and more challenging as compared to having just one. Different nap times, trying to prepare meals in time and finding time to spend with the toddler are some of the more urgent concerns. And I’m not even adding my own personal rest time (huh? what’s that?) into the list. Many moms have assured me that this is only a phrase and it would soon pass so I’m taking their word for it.

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I’m taking a step at a time now and allowing the Lord to teach me more about motherhood and myself. It can only get better.

P.S. If this post sounds incoherent, that’s due to a lack of sleep …and caffeine.

Melbourne museum

I know this post is way too late. It’s been more than a year since we came back from Melbourne but I thought I had better record these wonderful memories on my electronic diary lest it be gone forever.

That morning, we had a slow breakfast at Queen Victoria Market before strolling to get onto the tram to get to the museum. Before that, we stopped in our tracks to have some workout and fun at the playground. This is one thing (of a lot of many others) that I appreciate about Melbourne – wide open space for playground.

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I didn’t expect Faith to be interested in visiting museums. She was, after all, just 19 months then but we still went ahead since we have heard good stuff about the museum.

And we were stuck in the Children’s Gallery for more than an hour. It wasn’t a big space and there weren’t a lot of exhibits but there are certainly interesting stuff that engaged the toddler.

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The area leading up to the Children’s Gallery has quite a few activities for children to work on such as puzzles, colouring paper, puppet show, blocks of different civilisations and books to read.

20140610_102644Just outside the area are some activities to engage the children physically. Look at these gigantic Lego rubber pieces!

Play is a way of learning…

20140610_110843Let’s enter the Children’s Gallery!

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One could learn much about nature here!

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To me, the exhibits are well designed and get the children to use their senses in exploring them. I guess if Faith was older then, we might have to be stuck in there for more than an hour.

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Faith has shown keen interest in building blocks at a very young age but then again, this applies to a lot of children eh?

20140610_105855One of the many quotes that I love…

20140610_124054The little girl finally fell asleep after I strapped her in the carrier and it’s time for the adults to view the other exhibits. We spent a good time at the other levels and eventually rested at the cafe.

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The food was nothing to boast about but we were glad to have a rest after all that walking.

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Oh, how I love the fall season.

20140610_134112On our way back, the hubs and I were just strolling with Faith following us behind. As we turned around, she was running towards us and then fell into the big pile of fallen leaves.

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Oops!

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But she got amazed by them and continued to play. This picture reminds me to allow her to explore and not restrict her no matter how dirty she might end up. ;p But I think the story will end up differently if there are lots of ants underneath the leaves.

Relearning the basics – week 2

The confinement lady would not be here forever and I should take every opportunity between rest time to learn from her.

You would have thought that taking care of the newborn would come natural for me since I have had some experience with my firstborn. Alas, my memory is so finite that it took me a while to get used to taking care of a newborn.

For instance, I have to be mindful of the neck when carrying the baby and not lift him from the armpits, a habit that I’m so used to by now. I have also long forgotten how to clean a newborn and had to ask the confinement lady to demonstrate it for me. The other day, I was trying to change the diaper and got a bit lost because the genital organs of the boy differ from Faith’s. I was so afraid of hurting him but my confinement lady assured me that it is easier to care for a boy than for a girl since the parts are, well, external. 😳

Changing the clothes of a newborn can be rather daunting because I’m not so sure if the force I apply is too much. Oh, that fragile being! So I find vest-like romper to be the best choice of clothing when dressing a newborn since it’s much easier to slip the hands through the sleeves as compared to a onesie.

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When it comes to baby clothes, I certainly appreciate materials that are friendly on the skin just like this piece from Simply Life, a new homegrown brand. The material is made of superior bamboo fibres, which are more hypoallergenic, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Not only is it breathable and thermo regulating, the all-natural bamboo material is also highly absorbent and moisture-wicking. This romper went through a first wash and it remained as soft as when it was first delivered to my home. My confinement lady, upon seeing and feeling the material, instantly exclaimed (in Mandarin), “Whoah, this is quality stuff!”

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Indeed it is. I have always loved bamboo apparel and its feel on my own skin. In fact, many of my maternity clothing are made of bamboo fibres and I’m sure baby Daniel would appreciate such a material too.

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Let’s not forget the girl who also gets to enjoy the softness of the bamboo towel. Life is fair. ;)

So, I’m at the halfway mark of the confinement period. Disrupted sleep, 2 to 3-hourly feed and the need to divide my time between the two siblings are part of the whole package. I’m not sure how life will be like when the confinement lady departs. Busier? Most definitely. Would I get to take some time off for self-care? I don’t know. I will only know when that time comes.

Meanwhile, I need to learn and relearn some of the skills in dealing with an infant.

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Thank you, Simply Life for sending the baby products over. I was won over.

Simply Life is a brand founded under Creative Moms Pte Ltd. Built on the belief that our journey through life should be a joyous and uplifting one, Simply Life designs and produces products ranging from baby care and children’s wear to homeware and other lifestyle essentials, all with safe and top quality materials and come with encouraging messages. Their products are available at major departmental stores, children specialty stores and via their online shop simplylife.com.sg. Do check them out!

The little boy is presented with Simply Life’s newborn bamboo apparel for review purposes. No other forms of monetary compensation is given. All opinions are mine.

[Thankful Tuesday] Being a second time mom – the 1st week

Has it been a week since Dan was born?

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I’m having a thankful spirit as I pen down these thoughts. Being a second time mom is… much pleasurable than the first. One may say it’s because I’m more experienced but I would like to attribute it to ‘letting go’.

As a mom, you want the best for your child and when Faith was born, I told myself that I would never get her to drink formula milk. She could only be breastfed. My mind was made up before she came into the world but oh, that put an immense amount of stress on me during that first week.

My milk supply didn’t come in until a few days later but clearly Faith was dehydrated because she couldn’t latch on well and that means she wasn’t really taking in the colostrum that was given to her. Her jaundice level was high and she underwent photo therapy at home which added to the stress. I nearly got into depression but thankfully, we engaged a lactation consultant who showed me the ropes to get the baby to latch on properly.

This time round for Dan, I have no issue with giving him formula milk. Because there is no ideal anymore, there is also no pressure. The milk supply came in very soon and Dan was able to latch on well. The can of formula milk has been left untouched just after a couple of scoops (anyone wants to take over?).

We have an experienced confinement nanny and I leave most of the tasks to her. Previously, I did what the nanny was supposed to do (except cooking) because it just didn’t make sense to me to leave the job of a mother to someone else. How irresponsible is that? What I didn’t realise then was the need for the mom to rest, especially after she had carried the child for 9.5 months, gone through physiological changes and then a traumatic experience at the hospital with wounds and all.

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It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself first. How else would you be able to take care of the kids if you are not rested?

I’m thankful to have a confinement lady who keeps asking me to rest and a husband who has been so willing to help out in whatever capacity he has been called to. And Faith? She has shown herself to be ready to take on the role of a big sister. She understands that I have to feed the brother most of the time and will stay off the newborn when told to. She must have realised that the little brother isn’t really a lot of fun after all and does her own stuff or pesters us to play with her. I guess it’s not easy for her too that she has to handle such a major change in her life and to have to share her parents with her brother. I am told that she became emotional in school today and burst out crying, “I want my mummy…”

Poor girl.

But she will survive.

So, I’ve learnt. That if I don’t try to be a perfectionist but learn to let go, life will not be so difficult after all. There are indeed many things in life that we cannot control and since that is the case, why do I need to be so dogmatic and insist on one method to doing things? Learn to commit it to the Lord and all will be well.

Hope your Tuesday’s been good!

The birth story of Daniel

Every pregnancy is different.

This time round with Daniel (he’s our second child), I had mild nauseous during my first trimester but apart from that, there was no swollen feet or cramps of the legs during bedtime unlike the first pregnancy. There was little craving (or next to none) and life was business as usual.

However, this time round, I was more anxious than the first during the last stage because the baby kept turning his position while in the womb. He was in the downward position in week 36 and 37 but turned breech and horizontal during the last 2 weeks.

He was too active.

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On Monday, 5 October, I had my last checkup and it seemed that he had moved head-down again and we decided to induce him the following morning. I have wanted a vaginal birth as opposed to a C-sect as much as possible and thus this decision.

It was however, a decision that was not without much struggle. At the back of our minds, K and I were asking ourselves if we were playing God by going ahead with induction. In His time. .. In His time… but were we intervening when we agreed to induce?

Of course, there is always the possibility that Daniel will flip again and this was really beyond my control. That afternoon, a BSF-mate called and prayed for me from which I got the peace to go ahead with the plan.

That night, I didn’t sleep well. I was sitting on the armchair hoping that gravity will help in stabilising Daniel’s position and that means ‘bye bye’ to sleep. Obviously, this is not proven and I should be gathering as much rest as possible but as long as he’s in a downward position, I could do with little sleep.

We checked in at 8.15am after sending F to school. The reception counter was busy and we had to wait a while. Dr Poon had quite a busy day ahead and I was panicking.

Anyway, on instruction, the nurse gave me the liquid thing and I did the big poo (sry, can’t remember the term for it).

Dr Poon came and did the scan. Ok great, Daniel’s head was still down and I was 2cm dilated. He broke my water bag and I was put on drip immediately. That was 9.40am.

The pain was all bearable until about 11am. I was 4cm dilated and there was a drop in the Daniel’s heartbeat. The nurse reported this to Dr Poon and he instructed her to stop my drip. I was given oxygen due to that and from then on, contractions started to kick in.

Daniel’s head, however, was too high up.

My instruction to the nurse was to have the laughing gas and the jab on the thigh. At 11.30am, I asked for laughing gas because the pain has increased.

At about 1 plus pm, Dr Poon came and told me that it would still take about 3 to 4 hours before I became fully dilated. I nearly fainted upon hearing that. The pain was increasing in leaps and bounds and I told the nurse that I needed the jab. I rejected epidural and minutes later, I regretted.

After about 30 minutes, the pain was unbearable.

I was gripping on to the sides of the bed and the pain intensified. I suddenly felt the urge to push but was told earlier that I could not lest the cervix area rupture. But then the urge to push was automatic and I cried out. The nurses came in, checked my dilation and said it’s fully open!

Thankfully Dr Poon was still around and I heard him put on the gown and more nurses came in. They got me in a ready position and asked me to push.

I think I pushed a total of 5 times before Daniel came out.

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It was crazy, the pain.

I think I must have forgotten how painful it was the previous time. After Daniel came out, Dr Poon took out the placenta and stored the blood cord for us. He showed me the placenta but I was like ‘ok, whatever ‘ and drifted back to drowsy state.

Too much pain.

Daniel weighed 3.154kg and measured 51cm long at birth.

IMG_20151007_0705540.9837929173298327Skin-to-skin contact but I was semi conscious. Was too tired by the whole episode.

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This is joy… when I held him at a more conscious state.

I’m thankful that the Lord allows me to deliver him naturally and without epidural. During that last stage, I was mentally scolding myself for not using it. But I really don’t want to suffer the side-effects too (it’s a personal preference). Sigh… but all is well now.

Sleepless nights ahead. For now, I’m just thankful that he’s out safely.

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Holding my finger tightly with his, while being breastfed.

PD examined the boy and all was well. But we will only know his jaundice level the next day and if he could be discharged.

The boy didn’t pee and it was advised that we give him formula milk. I would be dead against it for my firstborn but now my reply is, “Ok loh”.

Poor second child.

I have gained a total of 11kg for this pregnancy and hopefully I could go back to my pre-pregnancy weight in time to come. For now, I would have to rest (not sure if I could) and eat well so that the milk could come in.

IMG_20151007_2044130.7896567479734887Faith was excited about his brother and wanted to touch and ‘sayang’ him all the time. Of course, we were afraid that the force that she exerts would be wrong and kept reminding her to be gentle. Think she was frustrated by our concern!

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Presenting you our family of four!

Turning breech

So it didn’t happen as planned.

Quekling II isn’t out yet because he has turned into breech position when I was in the hospital. That means induction is impossible.

I’m not sure how to feel at this current point in time.

All I’m praying now is that he will come out safely, no matter what method of delivery. His safety is my concern.

Thankful Tuesday: The eve

What an exciting September.

This month saw us trying to get everything in place and ready for Quekling II. A lot had happened and I’m glad things are winding down and ready for his arrival. It’s all in good timing and we truly thank God for that.

To combat the heat, we scouted for ceiling fans and got them installed before mid-September. That means a cooler environment for breastfeeding. Yay!

We also decided that we should trade in our old car for a new one because each day when I was in the driver’s seat, I feared that it would break down. It would be tremendously stressful for me with two young children and thus as a family, we decided that we could buy a peace of mind with a new vehicle. It’s a definite liability but would prove to be extremely convenient when you have young children. Thankfully, we received the car a week ago which gave us ample time to get used to it and gain sufficient [hopefully] experience with it.

Last week, during the routine checkup, we learnt that Quekling II was in the horizontal/ transverse position and that means a c-section would be needed. I was disappointed. I have, after all, thought and decided emotionally that I would be giving birth to him naturally which is my preferred method. It’s better for both mother and child. So, I wasn’t prepared when I heard the news. But the immediate verse that came to me was,

“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We rallied our brothers and sisters to pray for us and yesterday, during the checkup, Quekling II’s head has turned downwards! Praise the Lord!

20150928_144113Quekling II @ 38W 4D

We decided to induce him soon to prevent him from changing his position as there is such a possibility. Also, this will work well for the whole family in terms of logistical arrangement. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is the best for Quekling II but we just have to trust in Him for a healthy and normal baby and a smooth delivery ahead.

Mom’s weight: 59.2kg
Quekling II: 2.8kg

A lot have happened within this month and looking back, I just want to thank God for His perfect timing in bringing everything in place. We are thankful to our family who rendered so much help to us and without them, we would definitely be busier and more frustrated. The hubs and I grew closer too as we prepared for THE DAY to come.

Preparing Faith for a new baby

I have been talking to Faith about her brother for months because I know it would be a period of great adjustment for her {and us as well}. I do not know what will really happen but I know for sure if I do not prepare her for his arrival, there would be very tough times ahead. I have heard stories from friends that the older sibling could get jealous and behave undesirably which add to the stress of the parents and I hope it would not happen to Faith! Nonetheless, I have prepared myself mentally for that but as much as possible, I wouldn’t want to disrupt her routine, so it would be business as usual for her.

I find reading really helpful in getting her to understand certain concepts of babies. Faith kept asking me if the baby could play with her or if he could stand, sit or read together with her. These are opportunities to tell her more about the differences between a big girl and a baby.

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The following are some of the things that I have done to prepare her for her baby brother’s arrival.

:: Talk about changes

Since knowing that I was pregnant, we have told Faith that I could not carry her and that she has to get onto the car seat or chair herself. Initially, she couldn’t understand why but with repeated explanation, she kind of get the idea. Now, the only person who could carry her is her father and she doesn’t expect me to do that even though at times, she fell asleep during our ride back. She would have to walk back to the apartment herself, holding my hands and with her eyes closed.

As my tummy gets bigger, I become more lethargic and there are many times that I told Faith that I am tired and couldn’t play with her. She could understand and leave me to play by herself. Perhaps, it’s down to the maturity of the child? Overall, I do think that talking about the pregnancy and the impending changes helps a lot.

:: Tell her the real things about a baby

That a baby cannot play with her yet and all he does is cry, drink milk and sleep. It’s always good to manage expectations and it’s rather common to have little ones think that a baby exists to be a companion to them. While that might be true, it is definitely a different story, at least for the first few months or even first year of his life.

:: Show her a real tiny baby

Nothing beats seeing the real thing. Thankfully, I have a friend who has recently given birth and F had her first-hand encounter with the baby. The baby obviously couldn’t play with her

:: Show her pictures of when she was a baby

Talk about how she was like when she was a baby, that she only drank milk and was breastfed and needed to be carried since she couldn’t walk yet!

:: Involve her in baby preparation

The baby will be bunking in her room and part of the room has to be allocated to her brother. We got her to give up part of her drawer space and placed the baby’s clothes in it. She also willingly parted with her pillows so that her brother could have them. When we were out shopping for a cot and mattress, she tagged along and we explained that they are for her brother.

:: Make them feel important

I have often asked Faith to be on standby and to render help to me when the baby arrives. She agreed and is waiting in anticipation for the arrival of her brother. She’s a big sister now! Let’s just see how she will really react when that day comes!

: Read books about being a big sister

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Reading is a very good way to get Faith to understand what is going to happen when the baby brother arrives. Thankfully, our local libraries stock these books.

The following are for my own reference when the baby arrives:

:: Set aside time just for the older child. Carving out even 10 minutes a day when you and your daughter could have quality time together can make all the difference. It also shows her how important she is to you and that you also cherish that special one-to-one time.  Be attentive to her in the presence of the baby so she feels that she is an important member of the family. Reassure her that your love for her hasn’t change.

:: Let her know that it’s natural for a big sister to feel proud and loving and yet at the same time, jealous and angry. Help her express her feelings but communicate clearly that it’s not okay to act on negative feelings. Praise her for good behaviour and be specific about it.

:: Invite the big sister to help and include her in your conversations and activities. In that way, she will be more eager to join in with the new baby and she will feel happy, valued and loved.

:: Try to keep as many of your old routines as possible. While there are many changes with the arrival of the newborn, the big sister needs some consistency in order to feel safe and at home.

Experience mothers out there, do you have other tips to share?