A busy June hols

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

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

jurongbirdpark@ Jurong Bird Park with her playmate

gardensbythebayLearning about nursery rhymes @ Gardens by the Bay

fatheranddaughterFather and daughter bonding

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

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

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F gifted with Chinese books and enjoying pool time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TGIF and friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The spread

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

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

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

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15 Stations at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

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

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

Railway station_malvina tanPhoto courtesy of Malvina Tan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd year as a Dad

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

A morning spent at a terrarium workshop

“Oh no! I’m late! I’m late!”

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

imagePhoto: Actualyse

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

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

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

imagePhoto: Actualyse

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Photo: Actualyse

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

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Please don’t drop it!

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Photo: Actualyse Can you sense my joy and pride?

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

image Photo: Actualyse

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

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

image Photo: Actualyse

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

image Photo: Actualyse

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

SEA Games 2015 and thoughts on sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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That’s us supporting the waterskiiing and wakeboarding events.

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

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

Quekling II @ 23 weeks

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

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Other than that, Quekling II seems fine.

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

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

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

Weight: 53.3kg

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (#junehols2015)

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

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

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

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Experiential learning at the garden!

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

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

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

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Doing the balancing act with Papa

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

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

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

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

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

Some useful resources:

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

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

Farm visit (#junehols2015)

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

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

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

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

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

20150602_132448 Happy gal!

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

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

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

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

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

First MTP session (May 2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese and Japanese Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

20150601_083841The dragon girl with her Papa

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

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

20150601_085132Beautifully sculpted plants. So zen…

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

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

20150601_090740All is well again. No big deal right?

20150601_090817Manja queen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:: Spectrum of Paper

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

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:: Spectrum of Paper

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

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

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

20150530_093000:: Queen of the Forest

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

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

20150530_093131:: Simple Pleasures in Life

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

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Our little girl definitely enjoyed this part of the exhibit.

20150530_101134:: Dancing Solar Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

20150530_094201:: Wanderlust

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

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

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:: Memory Stations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Gluten-free) Lavender shortbreads

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

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

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

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

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Ingredients

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

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans

The Totoro wedding cake

I’m currently in a state of contentment.

Over these few years, I’ve learnt to accept and enjoy my role as a SAHM. Perhaps, it’s because I have only one kid and things are manageable. However, I believe I can attribute such contentment and joy to a few main factors and one of them is my interest in baking and cake decorating.

Being stuck at home can be depressing and I quickly realised that I am not one who can survive such a lifestyle. I love to learn, communicate with others and impart knowledge to others. Picking up from where I have left off, I decided to continue to hone my skills in baking and ventured into cake decorating by going for relevant courses. Gradually, friends asked me if I could bake for them and after much consideration, I decided to give it a try. I was honoured yet fearful because we all know that taste is subjective; I’m not sure if I could do a good job.

Anyway, I went ahead and baked more cakes. I love the process of learning through baking various kinds of sponge cakes and it’s really therapeutic as I work on the figurines. It’s a form of art and I find myself enjoying it.

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In the course of learning, I was privileged enough to get myself a freelance teaching job at a cake decorating school. It’s a dream come through. Flexible working hours works well for SAHMs and it’s definitely a bonus that you can share your passion with others too. At last, I could have a decent adult conversation! Do you realise that your vocabulary deteriorates when you only talk to a child most of the time? I do!

As much as I love making cakes, I am mindful that my interest does not take precedence over my main responsibility – my family. I am first of all, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, I am wife to my wonderful husband and then a mother to my child(ren). While God has given me gifts and abilities to bless others, I must make sure that I don’t fill my schedule such that I sacrifice the first three priorities.

I have thus learnt NOT to accept every other cake order that comes my way, especially in my current capacity. It’s painful, to be honest, to pass potential orders to my baker friends when I know I can do the job. However, at the end of the day, I have to let go so that I can fulfill my other responsibilities.

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to work on a rustic wedding cake and it was really pure joy working with the bride. She envisioned a cake with lots of fresh berries and a couple of cake toppers. So I just baked the classic Victoria Sponge Cake and sandwiched with cream, {lingoberry} jam and berries. 

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This is a simplified version of how the Victoria Sponge Cake is made via etsy.

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A few days before, the figurines, a Totoro wedding couple were made. They have to closely resemble the pictures that the bride had given me. I used fondant + tylose powder which is my best friend when it comes to sugar modelling.

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A day before the actual day, the three stacks of cakes were baked and frosted. I do believe that the flavours need time to blend and thus making the cake a day before is best. They were all packed and placed in the chiller since fresh fruits are used and I wouldn’t want to risk anything, ya know?

In most cases, I don’t do delivery but since this cake involved three tiers and I had to add in more fruits on site, it makes sense that I deliver the cake. The whole troop went with me because honestly, I couldn’t manage it all by myself now. #pregnancywoes

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Pardon me as the following pictures would have me in it since I got the hubs to snap me in action. Thankfully, the ride was smooth and by right, there shouldn’t be any accident to the cakes since they are heavy! For the bottom and second tier, I inserted dowels or those big, fat straws so that the cake would not sink when I place another layer on top of it. Royal icing is your best helper as you need to ‘glue’ the layers of cakes in place.

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I’m always very nervous when it comes to stacking of the layers of cakes. Because there is simply no back up plan and to add to the stress, you have eyes on you as you work. So there cannot be any mistakes! Delicate hands, please!

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Placing more fresh fruits by the sides and adding real flowers that are supplied by the bride. I should have added more actually!

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To have the snowy effect, I sprinkled dusting powder (not icing sugar) all over lavishly. This powder stays in its normal form and will not be ‘soaked’ by the moisture of the cake.

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There you go. I had fun with this cake and with all the $$ I got from baking the cakes, I could at least contribute a wee bit to the family. Granted that it’s a far cry from what I used to get when I was working, it does help in paying off some expenses. And… it does feel good to have some earning power. ;p

;)

Quekling II @ 20 weeks

Detailed scan day.

And apparently, Quekling II turns out to be …

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… a boy!

So, Faith has been right all along. Upon knowing that I was pregnant, I asked her if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl and she would always reply “弟弟” (younger brother). This goes to show that we can take the words of the little ones seriously. :p

Quekling II seems to be growing well and we could see all limbs. He was really active during the scan and was changing position most of the time.

Personally, I was relieved after knowing all seemed to be well and that the baby might be a boy (shouldn’t really trust wholeheartedly until the baby is out!). I think having both a boy and a girl completes the picture but ultimately, of course, the more important thing is to have a normal and healthy child, regardless of the gender.

These days, I have friends who asked me what the arrangement would be like when the second one comes along. Would I engage a helper? Nope, I wouldn’t. But I know there are challenges ahead.

Firstly, I need to prepare Faith that the baby would not be great fun to be with. Many times, she has asked me if the baby could read with her, skate-scoot, play play-doh with her, etc and I have to tell her that the baby couldn’t until he’s a bit older like her. I must really make her realise that the baby will demand a lot of my attention and that Mama could not always spend time with her like what I’m doing now.

Faith really ought to be potty-trained by the time the younger one comes into the scene. For months, she could tell me that she needed to poo and there hadn’t been any accident. However, she just couldn’t do so for her pees. How frustrating! There are still other skills that she needs to acquire and I already feel there’s not enough time! Oh my!

I fully expect household chores to be burdensome when the second one arrives. I’m learning how to freeze my meals and to think of alternative ways to clean the apartment. Hire a part-time helper? Perhaps. Get an iRobot? Maybe.

Oh my…

Breathe in…. Breathe out…. Take a step at a time.

Weight: 53kg

Baking with a toddler

This is not so much a post about a recipe but thoughts about spending time with Faith on a one-to-one basis. Quality time, so they say. You might be surprised and ask, “But you are a SAHM! Of course, you should be able to spend more time with her!” That is true, of course, except that there are dishes to clear, toilets to clean, floors to mop and meals to prepare, just to name a few. And all these take time.

However, as I take a step back, I realise that Faith desires to work on stuff together with me, remembers those incidents and narrates them in her own way. She actually enjoys those activities! So, I’ve decided household chores can wait a wee bit and start focusing on building wonderful memories for her by getting her involved in the KITCHEN.

If you know me, I love baking and cooking and I think such an interest can be felt by the little one. She observes me daily in the kitchen and then recently, keeps telling me, “I want to see Mama doing.” I believe the hands-on baking workshop at the Colgate event and the recent cookie baking and decorating session I had with her have fueled her interest.

I might as well get her involved then. Which turns out to be really awesome.

So our recent project is to bake some savoury cupcakes together. To be honest, they are not the most delicious but I guess they are nutritious enough for the little one. I packed in salmon and spinach in it but I think adding bacon would really enhance the flavour (but I try not to use processed meat).

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What you would need
:: 1 1/4 cups of organic unbleached plain flour
:: 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
:: 1 cup grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, chopped vegetables, etc
:: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
:: 50g cooked salmon or chicken meat, finely chopped
:: 1 egg
:: 1/4 cup of milk
:: 50g unsalted butter, melted
:: olive oil or butter to grease the pan

** Original recipe from Beanstalk magazine (the magazine for early childhood practitioners and parents)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the cupcake pan with olive oil or butter.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. I got Faith to do this step and nearly fainted because her aiming is really bad but I had to put on a calm and joyous front.

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3. Add grated veggies, meat and cheese. Toss well to mix.

4. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together.

image5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir until just combined. Do not overmix as your cupcakes will be tough.

6. Spoon into the cupcake pan. I used a mini cupcake pan as mini ones can be easily handled by the little girl when she’s consuming them.

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7. Spoon into the cupcake pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes or until golden brown. insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes. if baked through, the toothpick will come out clean.

I must say I was nervous the whole time Faith handled the equipment. I don’t really welcome mess but we all know it is inevitable especially when working with young kids since their grip and coordination skills are not there yet. I have to remind myself to have fun with her.

An attitude of fun creates a positive atmosphere.

image{via SunshineInkStudio from etsy}

Apart from that concern, it is really a worthwhile activity to work on. As we baked, we conversed and i told her the names of the various ingredients and methods like whisking, stirring, pouring, etc and she could remember them! What a useful practical lesson!

I believe we would do more of such activities again. Why don’t you do so with your kids too? ;)

Easy and delicious recipes that we could work on together (for now):

:: Mini quiche

:: Broccoli, cheese and mushroom easy pies

:: Pizza

:: Pasta pies

So, stay tuned!

To my soulmate

I realised that I hardly mention my hubs in my posts after Faith was born and today, I’m in the mood to pen down my thoughts about the man in my life.

Before the kid came along, we were really loving and inseparable. Life was sweet and i enjoyed every moment with him. Things change once Faith enters our lives. Communication was reduced drastically. I was too caught up with grappling with my new role as a mother and he, trying to juggle between work and family.  At the end of the day, both of us were just too tired to talk.

In my first year as a mom, I bore a resentful heart. I disliked being a SAHM even though my mind was convicted of the benefits it will bring to the family. Many times, the hubs would hear complaints from me, that his life hadn’t changed much; he just needed to spend that extra 2 to 3 hours with Faith upon reaching home. Naturally, I became critical of him and expected him to spend every minute with Faith in the evening with quality (whatever that means).

The hubs was patient with me. All he wanted was that I would be happy. He encouraged me to pursue my interests and constantly told me to have my ME time. He has never refused my needs and wants and each time when I ask for help, he would gladly do it.

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Three years into motherhood and I must say things get easier. Perhaps, da man has been praying for me all along that my heart would be settled. Today, as I look back, I am thankful.

:: Thankful that he initiated that I be a SAHM. Being a working mom is tough and I think he knows that all along. Without any work deadlines and pressure, I am no longer a ‘rushian’ and could spend time playing and teaching Faith wholeheartedly The little one also gets to grow up in an environment where it is safe and knows that she is loved and cherished.

:: Thankful that he allows me to pursue my interests and dreams even though it might cost him financially. For that, I’m immensely grateful.

:: Thankful that he doesn’t bring work home. Once he’s back, his focus is on the family, helping me out in whatever ways he could. Many times, I feel guilty because I know he needs a rest himself too but he devotes the time on Faith and me. I love it especially when he does all the fun things with the little girl and because of that, Faith always looks forward to her papa’s return.

:: Thankful that he would always be there for the little one whenever there is any school outing and that he would take leave to accompany me for my gynae appointment.

:: Thankful that he is always desiring to do the will of God and that’s his prayer all along. This year, he became more involved in his service to the Lord but in so doing, he has also become more sensitive to the needs of the family and could guide us better.

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Oh, there are still a lot that I can be thankful for but I’d just stop here. We had a very private birthday celebration for him just a week ago. His style, really. He just wants to spend time with his family and oh, what a lovely picture of him and Faith!

Blessed birthday, dear hubs. I’m thankful to the Lord for you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all wonderful moms out here! This year’s has been especially meaningful because Faith could articulate that greeting to me as she handed me a card she made from school ( with the teachers’ help, of course) and the lollipop flower that she received from Kids’ Church. It really warmed my heart as she ran towards me with the gift and said a Happy Mother’s Day to me. *heart melted* imageBeing a parent is tough. I mean, no one prepares us for that. In a way, we are thrown into that role but thankfully, we can always draw reference from our own parents and fellow moms and dads who are good role models. This year, for Mother’s Day, I got Faith to bake some sugar cookies and involved her in decorating them, just for the fun of it. It does promise a messy kitchen and table but the most important thing is she had fun. image To make the cookies, you need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less than that)
1/2 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 175C before baking.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to cream until they are mixed well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the wet mixture a little at a time until it is completely mixed in.

5. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of 0.5cm (or your desired thickness).

6. Chill for about 2 hours so that it will be easier to cut out the cookies using the cutters.

7. Cut out the dough using cookie cutters.

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8. Bake at 175C for about 10 minutes or until the edge starts to turn brown. Do place the cookies of the same size together on the sheet pan when you bake. This is to ensure consistency in baking of the cookies. imageAfter the cookies are baked and cooled, I got Faith to spread the surface with a little of the strawberry jam.

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Thereafter, I used edible flowers and got Faith to smell them. She would have to sprinkle the flowers onto the cookies and then you would have decorated cookies! Simple?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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A fun afternoon on oral care with Colgate

Let’s talk about oral care today, for both children and adults.
:: Be warned. It’s a long post.

imageIsn’t it wonderful when we have a healthy set of teeth to flash when our pictures are taken? Not only that, having strong, healthy teeth can help us chew the right foods so that we can grow. They also help us speak clearly and look our best. So, it’s important that we take care of our teeth.

It’s not always easy, at least in my case. I do not have a healthy set of teeth like my husband. I have to battle cavities and to have root canal done for one of my teeth. I must admit that I am not diligent in taking care of my teeth when I was younger and now I must make sure that my daughter does not suffer the same fate as me. So education on the importance of good oral care habits must start young.

Our family was invited by Colgate Singapore to a parent forum in which we were informed by a dentist, Dr JJ, on the dangers of dental cavities and the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Not only that, we had the opportunity to participate in a fun, hands-on baking workshop where Faith and I whipped up yummy healthy dishes under the guidance of a professional chef.

When do baby teeth appear?

The first teeth to appear at around six months of age are usually the two lower central incisors – or ‘cutting teeth’. These are followed by the two upper central incisors. By the 16th month, four more incisors would have appeared. Between 13 to 19 months, four canines (pointed teeth) would appear. The molars would have all appeared by the time the child reaches 33 months old.

The order of the appearance is an average only. Babies do vary and it is important to note that teeth appear when they are ready.

Dr JJ reminded us that baby teeth are the foundations of developing permanent teeth and they must be well taken care of. Early loss of baby teeth, for example, can result in space problem for permanent teeth.

What causes tooth decay

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It is important that we take care of our teeth because it helps prevent plaque which is a clear film of bacteria that sticks to our teeth. After we eat, bacteria in our mouth react with the food we eat and sugar acids develop. These sugar acids cause the tooth enamel to weaken, causing holes called cavities.

What we can do

The following are some pointers that Dr JJ mentioned and I thought it’s good to note:

:: Babies who latch on or have a bottle of milk before they sleep tend to have their teeth decayed earlier. It is very important that they brush their teeth before they fall asleep!

:: It’s not advisable that the child takes a long time to complete his meal. Dr JJ mentioned that she knew of children who took an hour to do so and by that time, food that is consumed has turned into sugar acids in the mouth.

:: Formula milk contains a lot of sugar. Before you choose one for your child, it is best to read the label and look out for these added sugar which might harm the teeth if they are not well taken care of.

:: Water and milk are the best drinks for your toddler between meals. Try not to give your toddler acidic, sugary or fizzy drinks between meals, or juice or squash in a bottle.

:: Of course, much depends on what one eats. There is a consistent message to keep sweets and other sugary snacks between meals to a minimum. This includes dried fruits such as raisins which are high in sugar and can stick to teeth, as well as chocolate and cakes. Dr JJ maintained that the point is not to refrain from eating them but to practise oral care after consuming them. She shared that her own children are given sugary snacks too but she makes sure that they clean their teeth well. In any case, apart from water, everything else {including good old vegetables and fruits) that we consume has sugar in it.

:: Have regular dental visits. It is recommended that the children start visiting the dentist when they are young before problems arise.

The fun part: Making your own mini pasta pie

Part of this forum was the opportunity to have a fun time making healthy dishes with the little ones. The chef told us that it is always good to read the labels on the bottles or cans of food that we purchase. More often than not, they contain a high level of sugar and she advocated that we make our own sauce, dips, etc.

So that day, we were taught how to make our own pasta sauce.

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It is pretty easy and I like it that they use natural ingredients (apart from the canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste). Make a big amount and you can store the rest for future use. No need to buy those bottled pasta sauce in future ( I was told there is about 1/4 cup of sugar in each bottle. That’s a lot of sugar!)

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Next, the children got to assemble their own pasta pies! Just combine the penna pasta, mixed vegetables or broccoli, pasta sauce and cheese before baking. It’s that easy! Faith had a fun time doing it and I realised that we can do simple cooking such as this at home. I’m going to try this recipe again. So stay tuned!

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To complete the meal, the children had to make their own dessert – fruits kebab.

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I must say this activity made me nervous. The kids had to cut the fruits into smaller pieces and our little girl was super enthusiastic about cutting. The knife was really sharp and I had to stop her from doing it herself. Other than that, it was pure joy to see her enjoying herself.

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Toothbrushing tips

:: Brush at least 2 times a day, once in the morning and once a night before sleeping

:: Toothbrushing must be supervised. This is because a young child would not know how to brush their teeth well until the age of 7.

:: Be systematic when you brush. Divide the upper and lower jaws into 3 segment each and brush all surfaces of a tooth

:: A good brush will take about 2 – 3 minutes

:: Brush the teeth and gums and angle the bristles at 45 degrees to the gumline

:: A toothbrush with small head and soft rounded bristles is good for kids. Replace once every 3 months.

:: For children who can spit effectively, they can use 1000ppm fluoride or a pea-sized amount to brush their teeth. When asked about the use of fluoride-free toothpaste for young kids, Dr JJ warned that the children tend to swallow the toothpaste as well since they can be swallowed. This might hinder them from learning to use the fluoride toothpaste as they grow older. Her own thought would be to use water to brush their teeth before they learn how to spit.

More info on oral health for children can be found here.

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutralizer

We were lastly introduced to the Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer which claims to be a new standard of oral care that makes a cavity-free future possible. It is clinically proven to fight tooth decay in two ways. Firstly, its patented Sugar Acid Neutralizer helps deactivate sugar acids before they can harm teeth. Secondly, with fluoride an calcium, it also strengthens and restores the enamel to help prevent cavity formation.

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We were all given a pack to try the new product at home and so far, it has been good. It feels as if your teeth are cleaned just like when you are at the dentist. If the product delivers what it claims to do, then it will be worthwhile to have Faith use it when she have learnt how to spit. For now, the Mama is still trying out! ;)

This is a short video to illustrate how the new breakthrough technology Sugar Acid Neutralizer works. Do visit www.facebook.com/ColgateSG or www.colgate.com.sg for more information on the product.

Thank you, Colgate, for this invitation. We truly had fun during the baking session with the chefs at Expat Kitchen and benefited much from the informative session on oral care with Dr JJ. Even Faith gave a thumbs up!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to attend the baking workshop organised by Colgate. No monetary compensation was given. Information on dental care was written based on what I have gathered from the session and from limited research via the internet.

Quekling II @ 17 weeks

I wish I had much peace when I turned up for my gynae appointment today.

Alas, the night before found me restless. The OSCAR result was one thing but I haven’t been putting much weight since the last appointment. I wasn’t sure if things were okay.

When you are pregnant, worry just takes place.

I weighed 51.9kg on his scale and my gynae looked at me and asked me,” You vomitted and had diahorrea?”

Nope.

Then, according to him, I should be putting on 0.5kg every week and it has been 4 weeks since I last saw him and I have only put on 0.3kg.

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Thankfully, Quekling II is growing well, it seems. So I told Dr Poon that things should be ok even though I didn’t put on much weight.

He looked at me with a firm and serious expression. “Don’t be complacent. Your body might have reserves and the baby is getting the nutrients from it. But once that is depleted, he will face malnutrition. So better eat more.”

He went through my health report with me. It was stellar except that I might be a little anemic but that’s not much of a concern for now. There is something about my blood that causes the {OSCAR} ratio to be low. Darn! History repeats itself. It’s the same scenario as my first pregnancy. So, my gynae confirmed with me (yet again) if I would go for subsequent tests and I just had this simple answer, “Nope…I have to trust God.”

I really have to because there is nothing I can do.

Before I walked out of the door, my gynae told me to eat more… again.

Weight: 51.9kg

Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

Learning about Microgreens

In order to have a proper closure for our weekly play date, one of the mummies, Adeline of Growingwiththetans, suggested that we have a gardening session where the children could learn about plants and how to grow them. It’s a definite YES from us since it tied in well with the ‘Fuits and Vegetables’ theme.

Adeline had her friend share with us about Microgreens. For the uninitiated like yours truly, Microgreens are basically baby seedlings of our commonly eaten vegetables and herbs. They are harvested at a young stage (between 5 -14 days) and the whole plant is eaten (except for the roots). Although they are micro in size, they are intense in flavor though they are not as strong as their older sibling.

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We had the session at Bishan Park and Faith was all excited to be out with her friends again. It was warm and humid that late afternoon but thankfully the kids were not complaining!

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When Khai Lin first learnt that she was going to share her passion with a group of toddlers, she was a bit concerned as they were rather young and she wasn’t sure if they could benefit fully from it. ‘Let’s give it a try!’ was our answer to her and so she did. KL showed the kiddos the fully grow pea shoots and had them touch the seedlings. That set the stage for our lesson!

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We started off with some craft work. KL had the mummies and children create a bunny from a toilet roll as we were going to have a ‘carrot’ garden for them. The carrots are the pots that hold the seedlings.

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I like it that KL encouraged the kids to feel the pebbles and the peat moss (looks like soil to me) which is formulated for germinating seeds. Most of the children were curious and attempted to feel them. It’s a good lesson to have the children discover through their senses!

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KL was super patient with the children and showed each one of them the steps to start the gardening process. Here she got them to fill the container with peat moss. Look at Faith’s expression after she touched it.

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I must say that I enjoyed the whole learning process as an adult. Because I have very little knowledge about microgreens, this session is truly informative. I’m not sure if the young ones understand what they have gone through but it’s a good start nonetheless. There was a 4YO boy in our midst and he was really curious and posed KL loads of questions. I guess this session would be more beneficial to older kids?

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We are going to plant the speckled peas and sunflower and both can be harvested between 7 to 14 days. That’s really fast, you know?

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After watering the peat moss lightly in the pot to keep it damp, sprinkle the seeds generously over the top of the peat moss. However, do not overlap the seeds. Then gently press the seeds down using the hands. See how proud Faith is with her ‘garden’.

Before we went home, we were told to cover the big container so as to create a greenhouse effect. What we need to do is to keep the soil moist by misting it each day. Once the seeds have germinated, the cover can be removed and we can place it near the window for some sunlight.

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After about a week, the seedlings have grown and we are ready to harvest. Faith isn’t very enthusiastic about having her greens (sad to say) and I must think of ways to hide them in her food!

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So I decided to make some sliders for dinner and since she loves mushrooms, I roasted portobello mushrooms that were topped with sweet potatoes, breadcrumbs and well, the pea shoots!

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This girl has a sharp sense of taste and could pinpoint if there are any greens in her food. She did eat some but refused the ones that are found in the salad.  Oh well, I did try.

I will not give up!

Overall, we find the session on Mircogreens useful and I’m just surprised that they are so easy to plant and manage at home. The best thing is I don’t see any ants coming near my plants because I’m really particular about that. They also take up little space since I only need to place them near a window in any room (indirect light from the sun is good enough). I thought this can be an awesome project for the older kids as they learn about plants and their nutritional benefits; they should know the source of their food from young!

If you are interested, you can find out more about it via its website at www.microgreens.sg or visit its Facebook page. There will be recipes, kids’ projects and tips on growing Microgreens so stay tuned. ;)

The session above cost $25 per child at an introductory price. Usual price is $40. Materials are included.

#notasponsoredpost

A day in my life with a 29MO

The last post which I had recorded my life as a SAHM was when Faith was still a baby at 2 months old. Now she is about 29 months old and let’s see how my schedule has changed! This is a typical weekday for me.

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6.50am :: The alarm goes off. Faith and I would normally have woken up by 6.30am but we usually laze around till we hear the alarm ring. After that, it is off to get her a bottle of milk and then we would have breakfast together. The little girl has no concept of time and takes her own sweet time to chew her bread and chat with me. I, on the other hand, keep asking her to HURRY UP because every minute counts!

Bathroom time. Getting dressed. And before you know it, it’s time to set off for school!

8.05am :: We usually reach Faith’s school at this time and after that, I would have about 2.5 hours to myself. Schedule’s not fixed. Some days I would do grocery at the wet market or supermarket and on other days, I would brisk walk at the park near my apartment. After that, I would prepare lunch so that the food would be ready when Faith and I return from her school.

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11.30am :: We get back from school and I would heat up the food while Faith plays with her Lego. Lunch is normally simple stuff such as pasta or fried rice.

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After lunch, Faith gets her 30 minutes of screen time when she gets to watch 巧虎, a DVD series which my sister-in-law gave me. Apparently, this programme is a hit with the young children in China. They learn about stuff such as Chinese songs, good habits, words and numbers through the programme. Surprisingly, Faith loves to watch the programme and could even relate to me what she has learnt after watching it, in Mandarin, of course. :)

We clean up, read storybooks together before Faith gets ready for her afternoon nap.

1pm :: Faith naps for about 2 hours. Sometimes I nap with her but at times, I will do my own reading or household chores. If I’m diligent enough, I will take this time to create teaching and learning materials for Faith.

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3pm :: It’s tea time and Faith is usually given fruits to snack on. After that, we will work on activities together.  The activities are varied and since a toddler’s attention span is so short, I would normally move on to the next activity when I sense that she is getting bored with a particular one. Obviously, her concentration span is much longer for activities which she loves. The following are some of the stuff we do together in that 1.5 hours (3 activities per day).

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4.30pm :: It’s outdoor time! I make it a point to get us out of the house so that she could work on her big muscles and to breathe in fresh air (this is not to say that the air in my apartment is stale!). We would usually go to the nearby playground for some workout. Some days we will go for waterplay and once a fortnight, we visit the library!

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5.30pm :: We are usually back at home by this time because I would need to prepare for dinner. Faith plays on her own while I busy myself in the kitchen. I’m lazy and love to steam my food or prepare one-pot dish for dinner. Just thinking about the clearing of dishes and cleaning of the kitchen makes me tired. So simplicity is good for me.

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6.30pm :: The hubs is back from work and we have dinner together. The baton is passed to him as he takes over to spend time with Faith. He plays with her and then showers her while I clear the dishes and rest!

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8.00pm :: We have story time or devotion before lights off at 8.30pm.

8.30pm :: It’s literally quiet time for me and I read the Bible and have my devotion or blog before I turn in at around 10pm.

Zzzzzzzz…. Goodnight, world. Another day beckons.

This is part of the “Day In A Life” blog train hosted by Justina of Mum in the Making. To check out what a typical day is like for other mums on the blog train, do click here or the button below. Next up, Jacqeline of The Little Mom will be sharing about her day!

imageJacqeline is a FTWM of 3 lovely kids. She nickname herself “The Little Mom” as she finds that she only knows so little about parenting when she started on the journey of motherhood (she only knows a little more now). Having benefitted from other Mummy bloggers, she in turn likes to contribute through her blog. She shares mainly about activities (from overseas to outdoor to indoor to home base) that she did with her family. Occasionally she also shares her thoughts about parenting and provides tips that she has learned along the way.

The second one

How and when do you decide to try for a second child?

For me, I have always felt that a 2 to 3 years age gap would be good because firstly, I would not completely forget about pregnancy and how to deal with the baby in his first year and secondly, I would not lose the momentum. Does that make sense to anyone? ;p

But it was when I saw how lonely Faith was at home and how excited and happy she was when she was around other people or her friends that got me thinking about trying for a second child. Faith was about two years old at that time and my biological clock was also ticking away furiously, signaling to me that the time was ripe.

The hubs did share that if we were to have another kid, it shouldn’t be because of Faith. On the other hand, it should be because both of us want another child and that we are committed to it. His argument makes sense, of course.

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So we found out that we might be having a second child during early February. Something in me changed and I figured it could be due to a possible pregnancy? The pregnancy test was positive and subsequently a visit to the gynae further confirmed it. We thanked God for this miracle.

The above was just an image of the water bag at week 6. Quekling II was too small to be seen. Couldn’t even detect the heartbeat properly.

Weight: 50.5kg

imageBy the 9th week, Quekling II was 3.22cm but because my weight hadn’t increased much, Dr Poon was concerned. I did eat!

Weight: 50.6kg

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This is the most recent scan of Quekling II and he/she has grown to 6.52cm at week 12. My weight increased to 51.6kg only after I had taken lunch that day. Before that, My weight was 50.7kg. What a difference a meal makes! Perhaps, there is something wrong with his weighing scale.

We did the OSCAR and a week later, I received a call from the clinic informing me that Quekling II is at a high risk for down syndrome. My heart sank. But immediately, there was a small still voice telling me, “Trust in Me.”

This is not the first time I have heard this piece of news. Faith’s ratio was 1:78 as compared to 1:169 for Quekling II and it seems like I’m going be haunted by the emotional ups and downs once more.

Am I comforted that the ratio seems better this time round? Yes. But am I going to say that things will surely be okay since Faith turns out well?

No. Not all all. I’d be too proud to even think of that. Once again, I’m reminded that while we can control many things in life, we have absolutely no control over life and death.

Trust in Me. God did say in His word. And why not?

Pregnancy… worries… sleepless nights. They go hand in hand.

Oh Lord, what a faith stretching period.

I don’t think I will go for the amniocentesis test nor the other more accurate test called Harmony. I don’t see the point now and I can’t afford Harmony which is priced at more than a grand.

I can only trust in Him who gives life and One who gives wonderful gifts to His children. He knows me and understands perfectly how much I can bear. My Father is in control.

“When we are helpless, God stepped in and proved Himself to be faithful to those who persevere in trusting Him.”

This is what I wrote for my first day question for BSF last week and while having QT just now, I was reminded of this.

I didn’t know He is preparing me for this piece of news.

My God is real.

 

The 3rd month that marched past us

I know it is April now but there were memories in March which I would want to record.

It was not an easy month. I was overwhelmed with tiredness and needed much rest because well, I am pregnant. This time round, I meet with morning sickness (unlike my first pregnancy) and need an afternoon nap or else I would have headache at the end of the day. I’m getting old, I know. Sigh! Things got done really slowly. Replies to emails were delayed and that applied to certain text messages. At times, I even forgot to reply. I didn’t have the appetite to eat and became unmotivated to cook. In a nutshell, I became inefficient. How terrible.

Life still goes on. That’s for sure.

The first school term for Faith ended and thus far, she has been enjoying herself. Each time when I picked her up from school, she would exclaim that she liked school. Special mention was made about her principal and her Chinese teacher and she looked forward to school each day. What a great relief!

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Since she started school, I found that I have less time to teach her at home basically because she needs to nap after lunch and by the time she wakes up, it would be mid-afternoon and we would be going out to enjoy some activities. There is really a need to create a time-table so that some home-learning gets done! #kiasumama

The one-week school holiday was a difficult period. The hubs was away on a week-long work trip and my mom went on a holiday to Japan during that week too. Bummer, really! Why must they go away at a time when I needed them most? Faith was with me 24/7 and I think she was bored. My energy was at an all-time low and most of the morning, I had to rest in bed. Poor girl. She didn’t really complain but came up to me, patted and comforted me. When I puked, she would ask if I was okay. I didn’t realise that this girl can be so understanding at such a young age. There was little to no tantrum and I could only thank the Lord for that. That he made that period bearable and joyful (in a way) when I had little strength.

Of course, I couldn’t have made it without the help of my in-laws. My FIL came over on that Friday and Saturday afternoon to spend some time with Faith while I rested. My SIL prepared lunch on one of those days for us and my aunt-in-law volunteered to buy breakfast for me. I am thankful to have wonderful in-laws!

Some of the stuff we did over that one week:

Playground time at the reservoir

Playground time at the reservoir

Waterplay party at a friend's house!

Waterplay party at a friend’s house!

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

Building her town using Lego (with mama's help, of course)

Building her town using Lego (with mama’s help, of course)

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

Our playdate ended in March. It’s a pity, these kids who grew up together since last year. It is, however, an unanimous decision because the timing is simply not ideal for the kids. By 4pm, the children were restless and the mummies found that their concentration level was low. Sometimes, they were cranky and acted up. Two of them could not have sufficient nap time since their school ended just one or two hours before the playdate. Of the mummies, three were pregnant and we found that we were exhausted too. On that note, we decided to call it quits. Sobs.

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I didn’t manage to work on a lot of cakes in March and turned down a few requests simply because I believe I couldn’t do a good job. I needed time to rest and more importantly, time to experiment with recipes. One will do and this is one which I like.

ABM_1427539034Towards the end of March, our nation went into mourning, for a great person in the history of Singapore. He is the founding father of modern Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Many of us were hoping that he would live to witness the 50th year of our independence but it was not to be. Most of the Singaporeans were emotionally affected and our understanding of him came to an all-time high because documentaries and articles were broadcasted and shared throughout that one week of mourning. My brother who has been stationed overseas for more than a decade came back to pay his last respect. It’s the least he could do, he said.

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So I guess March isn’t a fantastic month, eh? April’s now and I certainly hope things will get better. At the very least, I hope to regain my energy so that I could brisk-walk, go for my [Prenatal] Pilates lessons and swim a little. I need to get busy in the kitchen again, not just for the sake of my health but for my family too. Home-cooked food is always better, no?

April, please be good?

Protected: Croquettes, Queks’ version

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Friday Flips: Books on fruits and vegetables

:: Coop #4 & 5

Our coop has moved on from the Chinese New Year theme to Fruits & Vegetables. It’s a refreshing change and one which I welcome because our girl has some issues with greens recently. Hopefully, she will have less resentment towards them by the end of the few lessons! *fingers crossed* image   We would always start off the session with the Welcome song and introduction of the fruits and vegetables. Following that, one of the mummies would read a book aloud and the mummies were happy to note that the children could sit through and enjoy the story. Mind you, the story wasn’t short at all! I must say Mummy Ade has good storytelling skills! image For craft, the children pieced up the pictures of the fruits and vegetables and labelled them accordingly, obviously with the help of their mummies.

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We also got the children to grow their own beans and to track their growth. They were so excited upon receiving their beans. How fun!

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Our children have grown! It’s always a joy to see them play and learn together. May they continue to enjoy learning and exploring.

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For Practical Life, the children worked on their motor skills and coordination, just to name a few. We got them to pick up balls using training chopsticks, pour beans onto cups, stack blocks according to the sizes, threading and matching of cards.

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The mummies decided that we should not change the stations every week as we want to track their progress in the various stations. Makes sense!

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A few months back, Faith would have absolutely no idea on how to stack these blocks based on their sizes. Now she could, with the knowledge of her numbers. It gave me joy to see that she has progressed at her own pace.

These are some of the books that are related to the Fruits and Vegetables theme. Faith and I read the books a few times and we could talk at length about the story based on the pictures. The story itself isn’t long but there’s much to discuss! And, all these books could be found at our local libraries.

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You could sing to the tune of ‘Old Macdonald Has a Farm’ but what I like more about this book is that we can talk about urban gardening. We don’t have space in this city state but there are certainly ways in which we could grow our own herbs, for example.

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Oh, I love Farmers’ Markets! Sadly, we don’t have a lot of that in Singapore. The closest one that I think resembles that one that I’m familiar with is the Farmers’ Market at Loewen Garden. Go check it out one day!

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Granted that this is not really about fruits and vegetables but there is information about the orchard and fruits that you can talk about with your kid. This book makes me think about the farm and the apple-picking session that I have had visited and experienced. I want to go back again!

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans

Thankful Tuesday

I’m writing with a thankful heart today.

F is well-settled in school and in the children’s programme in BSF. Each week, she looks forward to meeting her playmates whom she has grown up with since last year. I hope I have given her a joyful childhood and each day, as she utters more words and comprehends me more, my heart just overwhelmed with gladness and gratitude.

Motherhood is indeed rewarding.

Our co-op completed the theme on Chinese New Year last week and we are raring to go on the new theme on fruits and vegetables.

imageThe kids definitely had fun and I hope their friendship will continue into adulthood.

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These two, working on their big muscles. And recently, a few of us even attended a production for children together. What fun!

For me, I’m happy to have a group of mothers who show care and concern for one another. Because of their friendship and companion, I no longer feel alone in this journey and well, the thought of going back to work has kind of diminished. I have a better full-time job now.

Totoro cake

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This is one celebration cake which I’m pleased with because it is simple to make but pleasant to look at. A friend had asked me to bake a banana cake and decorate it with characters with Totoro and friends. Since she has two toy figurines already, I would only need to make the other two using fondant.

I love decorating a whole cake because it saves the trouble of slicing the cake into layers and filling them with buttercream. Covering them with buttercream and then fondant can sometimes result in a messy appearance. Or perhaps my skill is not there yet.

To bake the banana cake, I used Joanne Chang’s recipe and reduced the amount of sugar since I feel that the sweetness in the bananas is sufficient. The original recipe named it a bread but I think it makes a good cake. The key thing is to use very ripe bananas and sometimes I prefer to use pecan nuts over walnuts but both are good. This recipe fits a 7″ by 3″ round pan very well.

Ingredients (source)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Directions:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes.)

3. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, crème fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 1 to 1 1⁄4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

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6. The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

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Lovely, isn’t it? And from past experience, I find the cake to be more delicious when you wait it out for the next day to consume.

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To cover the sides of the cake, I cut out stripes of yellow and frilled them before adding them unto the cake.

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Another type of cake design is to just use cupcakes and create a garden with flowers and bees. I must say the characters are really cute!

CO-OP ’15 #1

Our weekly playdate resumed in 2015 with the first session just over. I promised to dutifully record every session so that I could track the children’s progress.

For the first few sessions, the moms have agreed to go with the Chinese New Year theme since the festival is just round the corner. It would be fun having them learn the words of the greetings and related items together as a group.

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Mummy Ade led us to sing a new ‘Welcome’ song and started introducing the CNY items such as couplets, red packets, dragon and lanterns. She even prepared a worksheet for the little ones to match the pictures to the words. Hah, she’s very much a teacher at heart!

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The beauty of our sessions is that the children are accompanied by their mums and the latter could guide the young ones into working on the tasks and at the same time, reinforce some of the learning.

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Following that, I read the book ‘Lanterns and Firecracks – A Chinese New Year Story’. It’s really a treat to see the children automatically sat before me as I started to read the book aloud. The kids knew what to expect!

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After the story, Mommy E got us to work on making a craft. Obviously, the children won’t be able to work on it themselves but I must say they did a good job in pasting the straws on.

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Proud of their work!

imageThis time round, we managed to take a decent photo off the kids. Say cheese!

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Next up, Mommy Tri gave the kids Chinese lessons by sharing with them the names of the items commonly associated with CNY. The children were all ears. Awesome job! We should have more Chinese lessons!

imageThe children learnt to ask for red packets respectfully. But I think Faith only knows how to utter ‘Gong Xi! Gong Xi!’ properly.

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Practical life segment includes matching of cards, picking up of pom pom balls with tongs, working with shapes, rolling balls with playdoh and cutting.

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We also celebrated our first birthday for the year. Belle turned 2YO! Yay!

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A simple totoro-themed cupcakes for the children but I have them packed into boxes because it’s too near to dinner time and I didn’t want to spoil the appetite of the kids! So, this is our first session. The kids definitely needed time to warm up since they have not met up for a month. That’s a long time for young people! Hopefully they would enjoy themselves more with subsequent co-ops.