Friday flips | Learn Chinese Books – Shapes

I’ll go straight to the point. I love this set of Learn Chinese Books.

I stumbled upon this series of books during a book fair. The lady who recommended them first introduced Taoshu Learn Chinese Books and then shared with me this set of books that is based on ‘SHAPES’, an animated TV series produced by Peach Blossom Media. Squares, circles and other basic shapes are used to retell famous folktales with humour and wit. I thought the graphics were interesting and might spark off some creativity in Faith and bought volume 1 whose stories centre around friendship and kindness.

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We went home and started reading. The story was so interesting that the girl asked to read another book. Before we knew it, we have read all six titles in one go.

Thankfully, our local libraries carry these titles and the kiasu me borrowed what I could find for volume 2 and 3.

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What I like about these books:

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I can try my best to articulate and speak properly in Mandarin but in terms of word recognition, I fail. I could still remember the basic words though but anything more than that, I would have to look up the dictionary for its pronunciation and meaning. I always welcome hanyu pinyin and these books have included hanyu pinyin for the more difficult words and phrases.

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And if you are one of those who really cannot make it in terms of reading Chinese, they provide hanyu pinyin for the entire story!

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Don’t understand what you are reading? Fret not, there’s the English translation for you! Faith got me to read the English version after reading the text in Chinese.

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What I like about these books is that there is a moral to be learnt for each story.

So yea, do look up these books when you are at the library and I’m sure you will enjoy reading them to your kids too!

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Wordless Wednesday | Birthday preparation


I will be busy this week. We have decided to celebrate Dan’s birthday this weekend. Since I have some party decor which I have bought in Melbourne, I’ve decided to do up a mini dessert table and to invite my family over for dinner.

The hubs and I are not huge on birthday party. I mean, after all, will the 1YO know anything? However, I am reminded that we should make effort to create memories for them so even if the children might not remember much about the event, at least there will be photos which they could refer to in the future?

All right then. This lazy mom had better buck up and do something about birthdays.

Friday Flips | A is for Australia & Are We There Yet? 

It has always been a practice, that when I travel, I would purchase a (Chinese or English) book from that country and read it when I am on the plane, train, bus or taking a break in the hotel room or cafe. It is no surprise then that I bought books from the recent Melbourne trip but nope, this time round, they weren’t solely for my consumption but for my kids as well.

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Sharing two awesome Children’s books about Down Under – A is for Australia & Are we there yet?

I’m not sure if we could purchase them from the local bookstores or borrow them from the libraries. Last I check, they weren’t available from the libraries so I made it a point to hunt down these books after I saw an Australian Instagrammer sharing one of them.

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A is for Australia by Frane Lessac is a factual book about the country and we could explore the A to Z of it – from Bondi to Kakadu all the way to Taronga Zoo. I admit I do not know much about Australia and this book gives a summary of the wonderful places that can be found in this beautiful country.

Did you know that….

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Faith and I are exploring the different countries in the world (part of our Geography homelearning curriculum) and I thought these two books will help in giving her more facts and knowledge about the country.

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This book is  slightly easier to read but also contains facts about the country. Faith loves to play ‘I-spy’ and I thought this is a great book to bring along when we are on the go. I love the illustration too!

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This page is certainly something she could relate to.

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I bought these two books from the souvenir shop at the Melbourne Museum. There are lots more wonderful books found in there but I could only afford to bring these two back. If you have interesting books on the various countries, please share? I would love to read them to Faith!

Linking up with
Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

A Dorayaki Afternoon

Faith and I share a love for all things red bean. If you are to ask her what bread she would like, she would answer, “Red bean bread.” Yup, we could have such a bread for days and won’t grow tired of it. Then I introduced Dorayaki to her and it was an instant hit with her. I can’t keep purchasing it because it’s a bit on the expensive side. The next best thing I could do is to make it ourselves.

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I have an ulterior motive too in making the dorayaki. I have recently bought a smaller-sized pan from GREENPAN so that I could teach Faith to cook eggs and pancakes with it. And I wanted Faith to make her own dorayaki. The batter is easy to make and you can make life easier for yourself if you use store-purchased red bean paste.

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This is the one I used and can be bought from Japanese supermarkets. I dug out a dorayaki recipe that I have posted in 2011 and adjusted based on it.

INGREDIENTS: For 6 pancakes (depending on the size you make)

Pancakes:
Eggs: 2
Sugar: 100 g
Honey: 1+1/2 tablespoons
Extra-virgin oil: 1 tablespoon
Mirin: 1 tablespoon
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda): 1/3 teaspoon
Flour: 150 g
Water: 40~60 ml

Extra-virgin oil for cooking
sweetened red bean

:: In a bowl, use a hand whisk and beat the eggs and add the sugar. Mix until the mixture whitens or turns pale yellow. Add the honey and mix until it is completely blended. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and mix. Add bicarbonate sodium and mix. Add mirin and mix. Sift in half of the flour and mix well. Sift and add the other half and mix well.

:: Add water and mix. The amount of water might vary with the kind of flour. I used all purpose flour in this case and used about 50ml of water.

:: Cover the bowl with clingflim and allow the batter to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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:: Heat a frypan over a medium fire first and then remove from fire. Lower the heat. Once the frypan has cooled down bring over to the heat again. Wipe it with a kitchen paper soaked with olive oil. Make sure you wipe of excess oil to ensure nice golden colour.

:: Pour pancake mixture into the pan. Bear in mind that the size of the panckes must be the same. The amount, whatever it is must be the same. Choose your ladle/spoon well beforehand!

:: When bubbles appear across the surface, turn the pancake over. The cooking time for the other side is shorter than the first side.

:: Transfer the pancake to a plate and cover it with a damp towel to prevent it from drying.

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:: Sandwich the sweetened red bean between two pancakes. Put more read bean paste in the middle. If you are not eating it straightaway, clingwrap it until ready to serve.

Some of the steps that the young one can help include cracking of the eggs, whisking of the mixture, pouring of ingredients into the bowl, etc. We can certainly talk about the use of the weighing scale and the different measurements needed in this case.

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I find this version of the pancake to be on the dense side. I would prefer it to be softer. Perhaps I would try a different type of flour the next time and see if it has any effect on the texture. But still, it’s yummy and the girl gave her thumbs up. Good snack to pack in the lunchbox (though I wouldn’t give it too often. Kekekek..).

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😉

Melbourne | Puffing Billy

Melbourne Day 2 (Part 1)
Puffing Billy | Yarra Valley Chocolaterie | Costco Wholesale

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It was a slow morning. We woke up late and took our own sweet time to have our breakfast. Faith entertained herself with the box of Lego bricks in the living room of the host and subsequently offered to ‘look after’ the baby in the house. She missed her Papa and little brother and counted down to the day when she could meet them again (though we had barely arrived!).

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By the time we set off for Belgrave Station, it was past 11am and we reached the station at 12 noon. Drizzling, Faith and I bade goodbye to J and P and dashed off to the ticketing office to purchase the 12.30pm tickets to Emerald which is a 50-minutes ride (see timetable here). Since it was a weekday on a non-holiday, that means it’s quite likely that there would still be available tickets.

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We bought a one-way tix to Emerald since we would be meeting the other two ladies at that station. Once you have purchased the tix, do take time to capture some pictures for memories’ sake!

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As you can see, there are many tourists taking pics with the steam train. Photo bomb everywhere!

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I got the very relunctant Faith to sit with her legs dangling on the side of the carriage and this is perhaps the only time that she did so because shortly after this shot was taken, she asked to get down.

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All getting ready for the ride!

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Mandatory mother-daughter shot

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You can read up the history of the train on the carriage. And with the advice of many travel guides and blogs such as this, we took our seats on the right side of the train.

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Off we went! Always be prepared to get your camera ready to take some awesome shots. Faith saw the smoke from a train for the first time and that look on her face was truly priceless.

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Fascinated by the temperate rainforest

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20 minutes into the ride, she was bored (sigh, young kids!) and asked to go to the toilet. I was exasperated no doubt but quickly remembered that I have got snacks in my bag. Seeing the biscuits, the little girl soon forgot about the urge to pee. So, pls remember to pack snacks in your bag at all times when you are on the go. ;p

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First stop – Menzies Creek – and we got down to take some pics (what else?). You could visit the toilet but the train only stops for 5 minutes and I reckoned we wouldn’t make it in time and abandoned the idea.

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We continued with our journey…

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We’ve reached! And like most enthusiastic tourists, I wanted to take pics of the train and asked the girl to pose in front of it. She, was NOT interested. Grrrr..

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Reached and we visited the toilet. We took our own sweet time, only to realise that the train master was waiting for us. How nice of him. When he realised we would not be continuing the journey, he just exclaimed a “Oh!” and moved on.

We met up with the ladies and checked into a cafe for our lunch before moving on to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.

Salomon X-Trail Run – An invitation

I think it’s time to challenge myself. After having participated in a few 5km runs this year, it’s time to progress to the next level – 10km. Thus far, I have been satisfied with my fitness level but there is always this hope that I could return to my pre-pregnancy state. I even toy with the possibility of running a half-marathon this year end but let’s just take a step at a time.

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This will be my first time participating in the annual Salomon X-Trail Run which incorporates hills, slopes and gravel at Punggol. To be honest, such a terrain is not my cup of tea but I can certainly challenge myself, can’t I? Perhaps, I could find it more fun than merely running on the tracks? This time round, I’ll also be inviting the hubs to participate in this run with me because the timing is perfect for us – 4pm. This means we could get someone to look after the kids while we have couple time.😉 If the run is set in the early morning, it would be highly difficult for both of us to run together so we must grab this chance! Join us?

Just a little background about the brand. Salomon was founded in 1947 in the heart of the French Alps. Since then, the brand has been creating innovative products to enhance the performance of athletes. Salomon supports trail-running worldwide, from elite-level races to grassroots events. The first Salomon Branded Store in Singapore opened at Velocity @ Novena Square and displays an array of high performance attire and footwear, specifically catered for trail running. So if any one of you are into trail running, you might want to check out its products.

 

The details of the Salmon X-Trail Run, a 10km run, is as follows:
Date: 8 October 2016  (Saturday)
Venue: 50 Punggol East, Parade Square, Singapore 828826
Flag off : 4pm

 

Registration can be done via this link and ends on 28 September 2016.

All participants are entitled to a finisher’s medal, an event t-shirt and a Salomon shoe bag. The race fee is priced at $60 per person, $55 for World of Sports members.

VGO X Trail Running Tee 2016_1

Salomon ShoeBag_Special Order

Race pack collection will be on 1 Oct 2016, Saturday, at Salomon (#01-53), Kallang Wave Mall from 11am-9pm.

It’ll be about 3 more weeks before the race. Hopefully we will be able to throw in some good mileage before the run. No stress really. What’s more important is that we enjoy the training process and get our fitness back through this.

Disclaimer: I was sponsored with a complimentary fee for the Salomon X-Trail Run in exchange for social media posts on the event. The hubs has to pay for his own fee for the race. Images and information pertaining to the run are provided by Salomon and VGO Corporation Limited. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are as usual, my own.

Melbourne | Chesterfield Farm

Melbourne 2016
1st day | Chesterfield Farm

Our flight was at 1.20am. Not a very ideal timing I must say. I was worried that the girl would be cranky with lack of sleep. Thankfully she slept a few hours before we headed to the airport and slept on the plane for a good few hours. As anticipated, she got bored along the way and I had to take out the Usborne sticker book and get her to work on it. The book is on airport and I chose it so that she could connect her experience with the task at hand.

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We cleared the custom at Melbourne airport rather quickly and by the time we settled some stuff, it was past noon. Chesterfield Farm was on my itinerary and we only realised that it closes at 3pm then. We wasted no time and Pauline, my host, sent me to the farm. This farm was recommended by Jenn and boy, was I glad that I chose to visit it.

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This is the sight that greeted us when we arrived and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. However, once you go in through the cafe cum ticketing counter, you will realise that the farm is big!

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There is a list of things to do on the farm -tractor rides, shearing of sheep, milking of cow, feeding of the animals, etc – and one could devote a few hours visiting it. There are specific timings of course so it would be good to read up a little on its website. Faith and I had only one hour in the farm but we were really thrilled by the farm animals.

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Cows

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Camel!!!

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Goats

The girl was truly fascinated by the kangaroo. The mom too!

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This space is truly big, quite different from Collingwood Children’s Farm and it has a bigger range of farm animals, much to our delight. Because we had only one hour before the farm closed for the day, we had to literally race through the various sections. We didn’t even purchase any feed for the animals; I thought it would be a good experience for the kiddo. I think one could possibly spend a good 2 to 3 hours on the farm.

It was a wonderful experience for both of us and we love the close encounter that we could have with the animals. Worth a visit!

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Faith has often read about farm animals and that day, the animals came alive and you should have seen her excitement and fascination with them.

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We had a wonderful mother-and-daughter bonding time too as we talked about the farm animals and taking turns to take pictures of them. It pays to bring along a good camera to capture all those beautiful memories and I’m glad to be equipped with Canon’s EOS M10 during this trip.

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Next stop, Puffing Billy & the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie!

Back from Melbourne

It was an impulsive act.

It happened about two months ago.

I was sleep-deprived because the boy woke up every hour and sometimes, every half an hour during the night for feed. Caffeine was my best friend and I dreaded evenings. By 6pm, both the kids would show symptoms of tiredness, especially the boy, and gave me a hard time. I couldn’t cook in peace and there would often be tension at the dinner table.

And I found myself screaming at them (the girl) more often.

I didn’t want to be a mad mom.

And I toyed with the idea of buying a pair of air tickets for Faith and me so that we could spend some much needed mother-daughter bonding time. The proposal got approved very quickly by the CFO in the family and I was very blessed to be invited by a friend to stay with her (she has close friends who are residents in the country). I just needed to buy the air tickets. And I need not worry too much about accommodation and research of the place.

So I bought the tickets and then realised … I was still breastfeeding Dan.

The past one month saw us getting Dan adjusted to formula milk and changing his sleep arrangement. It went fabulously smooth and things got so much better. He could sleep and eat better and both Da man and I could get some decent sleep. Since everything was turning out well, I shouldn’t be leaving him behind right?

Guilt set in. What a horrible mom I am. I had wanted to give up on the trip but friends told me to make good of the decision we have made and to spend some quality time with the girl.

And we did.

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Faith and I came back from Melbourne yesterday evening.
It happened to be our wedding anniversary and there is no better gift than to be with my family.

Blessed.

Faith and I had a fabulous time in Melbourne; the trip far exceeded my expectations.

I couldn’t thank Jenn and the host enough. They made the trip a very pleasant one indeed.

Will be recording some of the trip’s highlights soon.

Canvas Painting at TrehausKids

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I have mentioned before that I would like to expose Faith to different interests so that I could help her identify her strengths and work on it/them. The period before she enters Primary School is a great timing because she has extra pockets of time to explore and we would not be stressed out by the demands of school. So far, we have signed her up for music, swim, dance and Chinese class. She loves all of them except for dance. It’s exasperating to observe her dance movement and attitude during the Twinkle Toes’ sessions that we signed her up for at the Esplanade. We concluded that she does not have interest in it, at least for now.

Art. I think she has a keen interest in it judging by how she could focus on working on an art piece. She has often expressed that she would like to attend an art class and I jumped at the opportunity for her to go for one at TrehausKids during the September school holidays.

The theme for that session is Monsters and Faith was actually looking forward to that session because she genuinely loves the space at Trehaus (she has had very good memories there). Upon entering the class, she settled rather quickly though it was her first time meeting Ms Jessie Chandran.

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Ms Chandran read them the book – Monsters Love Underpants – before getting them to work on a collage and subsequently the canvas painting of the Monster.

Definitely proud of her own work!

TrehausKids is launching regular weekly art classes at the Trehaus Studio, starting 16 September 2016. Helmed by TrehausKids Lead Facilitator and Art Educator, Ms Jessie Chandran, the weekly art classes happening every Friday is set to immerse young children in the world of modern and contemporary art while picking up core skills in painting techniques, colour mixing and sketching.

Every session, Ms Chandran will personally guide a small class size of no more than 8 students and mentor them on drawing, sketching and painting techniques to create their own masterpieces. In these sessions, students will explore different art medium such as watercolour and acrylics with a variety of painting tools to unleash their inner Warhol or Picasso.😉

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For younger students who are aged 3-4, theme-based art workshops will include storytelling to accompany each session. I heard there will be exciting tales from well-loved children’s authors such as Eric Carle and other famous classics!

While the sister was working on her creative piece, the brother was having a fun time in the next room.

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The art class happens every Friday, starting 16 September
2:00PM – 3:30PM (3-6 years old)
4:00PM – 6 PM (7-10 years old)

Venue: Trehaus Studio
Cost of each session: $35 +GST (non members); $20 +GST (Trehaus members*)
Cost of one term of 4 sessions: $120 + GST (non members); $60 + GST (Trehaus members)

*Trehaus member refers to members on WORK or WORK + PLAY membership packages

More information can be found here.

Daniel at 11 months old

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Dan turned 11 months old today. One more month to go! Woot!

I thought I should pen down some of his developments after reading his sister’s post a few days back.

:: Diet

Since weaning him off BM, his appetite increased by leaps and bounds. He consumes his puree stuff really quickly and needs to top up with FM. I am less adventurous with him and only supplied him with vegetables and fruits thus far. He eats carrots, green peas, beetroot, pumpkin, butternut squash, spinach, corn, potato and sweet potato. He loves fruits and has tasted honeydew, apple, pears, grapes, peach and bananas. Biscuits? Yes, of course.

His daily meal schedule @ 11MO

6.30am – Breakfast (Milk, Bread or cereal with milk)

8am – Cereal with milk, biscuits or banana

8.30 to 10/10.30am – Nap

11am – Lunch (puree with brown rice/cereal)

1.30pm – Milk

2pm to 4pm – Nap

4pm – Snack (fruits)

5.30pm – Dinner (Puree with brown rice/ cereal)

7.30pm – Milk

8pm – Zzzzzz

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Because he eats a lot, he poos daily. It’s a good thing. ;p

:: Physical development

I hate to compare but sub-consciously, I find myself comparing him to Faith. Dan is extremely active but doesn’t like to learn to stand on his own. He will cruise though and crawl all over the place. I think it will take a while for him to walk independently. It’s okay. Meanwhile, crawl more!

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He has 8 teeth as of now and I think more are coming out, judging by how much he drools.

:: Social

Dan is a happy boy and doesn’t make much noise when he is out with us. He seems to be comfortable with strangers AS LONG AS we are around. He flashes his sweetest smiles at the ladies he meets and this makes them happy.

Hmmm, he can be rather cheeky and will purposely do things that Mama says ‘cannot’! When he knows he has done something wrong, he will look up and flash his smile again. Grrr..

:: Relationship with sibling

It’s a love-love relationship as of now. Pls stay that way!

:: Others

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Loves to explore his surrounding…

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His favourite corner…loves nuts and bolts.

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Loves all things round

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Likes to mess up the books in the library. Tsk tsk.

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His mother wishes he would love to read more than he messes the bookshelves.

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Observes more than he screams when he is in the car seat these days. He waves his hands to bid folks farewell, claps his hands when we ask him to, raises his hand when we sing a familiar tune that he has heard in Sparkanauts, sign to show that he wants to eat and likes to use his fingers to poke.

Speech-wise, I think he is a man of few words. ;(

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Future F1 driver

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Dislikes being in the water.Sigh!

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So, here he is at 11 months old. Stay happy!

Taking flatlay pictures

Apart from cooking, baking and exercising, another (less obvious) interest of mine is photography. I used ‘less obvious’ because many pictures that I have taken these days are quickly snapped, blurred at times and lack inspiration. I blame it on uncooperative kids. ;p

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Take a glance at my Instagram account and you can tell that it mainly comprises pictures of my kids and food. While I cannot control the appearance and sometimes the mood (they refuse to smile at the camera) of my children, I could certainly style my food better. Impressed by the flatlay shots taken by instagrammers, I attempted to do likewise and have come to the conclusion that it is not so easy to take a good #flatlay shot. An afternoon with Canon Singapore on Creating Better Content workshop confirmed that.

I went back, armed with the renewed desire to take better pictures and to give #flatlay shots a shot. The following are some pointers that I have noted:

:: Use a basic background

My wooden dining table is often used as the background and in order to have more variety, I search for towels and cloth. Little did I realise that I could actually use design paper as my background.

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This picture was taken during the workshop and you would have thought that I was laying all these props on a marble top eh? It was actually a design paper! Soo desne! I went back and bought a few of such papers for my #flatlay challenge. I try to choose simple backgrounds that don’t distract the viewer from the main subject.

:: Use natural light

I think we all know that natural light gives the best effect. Taking a shot somewhere that near a large window or glass doors is ideal because it often have a great supply of natural light. Unfortunately, my place is rather dim and I often take pictures under warm lighting. Using photo editing apps (Splice, VSCO , A Beautiful Mess, etc) will help in this case. It certainly makes sense to enhance saturation, lighting and/or warmth where possible/ if necessary with these apps.

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This is the shot I took on my dining table. Nope, I didn’t buy a marble table; I merely use a design paper and edit it to make it look better. Is this nice?

:: Have a theme
:: Think of colour palette
:: Pick things that look good from top
:: Leave space between each object

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Taking a good flatlay photo involves a lot of work, IMHO. You have to take the above into consideration and it certainly takes time. I entitled this picture as ‘A Beary Good Breakfast’ and got Faith to help make the bear design on the bread. The colour palette that I have chosen is in the shade of brown and yellow and I tried to scout for things that look nice from the top.

Alas, I feel that there is much room for improvement. I think I must continue to look for props to spice up my flatlay pic. Time to build my prop box!

:: Experiment with different layouts

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It really does take a long time to come up with a good flatlay pic. During the workshop, the participants were given props and time to come up with a few flatlay pics that they want to submit for a simple contest. You should have seen the hard work put in by them in arranging and re-arranging the props and playing with different layouts. Tough job!

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In the end, I settled for this. I tried to keep the frame full. I did my best.

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After the workshop, these are the photos that I took, bearing in mind the pointers that were given.

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Monday Blues’ breakfast

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Sometimes, when I’m at the eatery, I will try to take a flatlay shot of the food but I have to take a quick one because the husband is rolling his eyes and the girl (Ms TamChiak) is crying out for food.

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It was an enriching session and Faith and I enjoyed ourselves. The girl wanted to try her hands on the Canon camera and I think I will start her on that using my personal one. I just hope she won’t destroy it. Nah..

Thank you, Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom for this lovely sharing session! Looking forward to future sessions!

 

Threenager no longer…soon

Faith is turning 4 years old in less than two months’ time and would no longer be a threenager. I realised I have neglected to record her development on this space. Sigh! I find myself loving this age and if I have all the patience to answer her many ‘whys’, it would have been perfect. This is an age in which the child listens to you and yet takes opportunity to challenge you. She is curious about all things and continues to try to make sense of the world she is living in.

She is still the Miss Tamchiak in the family and is getting all the more adventurous in tasting new food as she grows older. I allowed her to consume {good quality} ice-cream after she was about 3 1/2 YO (yes, I’m one of those moms) and she was thrilled. We have often taught her to be thankful for food and that she MUST finish all that she is given especially when we are being invited for a meal. She manages to achieve that, 98% of the time. The order of preference for each meal? Carbo –> protein –> greens but she loves fruits and baked goods.

She could scoot and manages the balance bike well. We should be getting her to use the pedals on the bike soon since she has gotten the hang of balancing it. Faith has been enjoying her swim class all these while and we are thankful for that.

I do think she enjoys art and a part of me wanted to get her to go for art classes. Yet at the same time, I do not want to crowd her life with too many enrichment classes. It’s so hard to balance! She could really concentrate when she works on her art pieces and the longest record was one and a half hours.

In terms of language, she is stronger in her Chinese and could recognise many characters. Thus she is able to read.

I wish I could say the same for English but sadly, her progress for English is not as fast as Chinese. Perhaps, I am not consistent in coaching her in English but we do read more English books than Chinese. That being said, she could spell words using phonics but in terms of word recognition, there is much to work on.

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Numbers. I don’t even want to comment on that. I hardly teach and she’s the weakest in that. But we talk about numbers, time, measurement, etc with her through daily activities. Is that not sufficient?

This girl loves her little brother and cares for him like every good sister does. Many times, she got scolded because I was frustrated with the brother but she bears no grudges towards him. Each morning, when she wakes up, she would walk to his room and look for him. The little brother is truly pampered.

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We started learning about the different countries (Geography) a few months ago and she is absorbing all the information really well. I waste no time, of course, in getting her to learn about the continents and some of the famous landmarks of each country.

Loves to help out, as usual. Once, we were out and I was carrying a lot of stuff. She saw that I had a lot to handle and said,”Mom, you have many things to carry right? I help you carry the owl bag.” She was tired then after a day of activities but she offered her assistance. Please stay this way!

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Loves taking pictures.

Generally, she is a happy girl.
May you grow up to be a graceful and joyful lady, bringing joy and blessing to those you meet.

I love you, Faith.

August bakes

I didn’t expect to bake, for others, because I was really tied down by the kids. However, one fine day, a friend asked me if I could bake her daughter a birthday cake since the baker she wanted to engage was not available. It was a chiffon creative cake, one of those cakes that I don’t often bake. I like challenges once in a while and I thought why not try?

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Chiffon cakes turn out to be easier to bake and once you have the right tools, decorating it can be fuss-free too. This is my first nicer creation because I have the available tools and cutters.

You do need to plan the colours that you need beforehand and bake them. After that, it’s really just cut and paste.

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This is an Elmo lychee chiffon cake. Again, once you have the cutters, it’s an easy job.

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This is the cake requested by her. It took a while to complete this cake because the decorations are 3D in nature and that means I would have to sculpt them. There was also some problem with the recipe and in the end, I had to rebake the pandan chiffon base. Just look at the different colours that you need for this cake!

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With the first request came other similar requests for Chiffon creative cakes and I had one new order for this Mickey Mouse cake. Again, I have the cutters so it made life a tad easier for me.

Get the idea?

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One of those days, I baked the charcoal chiffon cake to munch.

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The last cake has to be this rainbow buttercream cake with the fondant Care Bears figurines. It’s back to doing what I like (figurines) but I seem to have lost the touch for making buttercream cakes. Anyway, this cake makes the recipient very happy and that’s good enough.

That’s it. That’s the round up for my August cakes!

[Review & Giveaway] Baby Cadet class @Sparkanauts

Daniel completed his four sessions at the Baby Cadet class at Sparkanauts and it’s a joy to know that he has been responding well to the class. Read about his first session here.

Since the second lesson, he didn’t need time to warm up to the teachers and could confidently played with them before the actual lesson began. Perhaps it’s due to the presence of his sister (who was allowed to be in the class as well) but it is heart-warming to know that he’s so comfortable with the teachers.

Over these few sessions, I have observed that Dan really paid attention when words were flashed at him. He could concentrate for that short amount of time and it’s certainly a good start to learning words. At home, I used the parent-child bonding package (which they send via email after each lesson) to further reinforce what he had learnt in class. I may not be seeing instant results now but I know he is constantly learning and I need to keep up! So I’m thankful to be provided with the resources to teach him.

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Besides intellectual stimulation, there is this portion of the body strengthening segment which I like. Daniel could always stay on the trapeze for the required amount of time but when it comes to his stamina, he would have to work at it.

This boy couldn’t crawl long and would often give up halfway through although with each lesson, he crawled a longer distance. He had not gotten the hang of getting up and down the steps and slopes so by observing him in class, it serves as a form of feedback to me. I could then help him in his weak areas. Here, you can see the sister encouraging him to continue crawling.

Besides working on their gross motor skills, the kiddos also got to practise their fine motor skills! In this instance, Dan got to feel the texture of the materials for his Singapore flag.

There is also the music appreciation component in the class! Okay, so I absolutely ‘cannot-make-it’ in terms of music so I’m glad that I could learn together with him!😉

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We have been missing the class for two weeks now but each time when I sing the welcome song (sung at the beginning of the lesson) to him, he would look at me, flash me a smile and automatically raise his hand, a practice that the babies do in class. I know he has benefited from the lessons and I can safely say that for myself too. From the class, I learnt about some of the exercises and tips that I could do with him to help in his overall development. Consistency is key, of course, and I can’t wait for him to continue with the class. It is truly holistic in nature which I like!

This is random but this is Faith with her teacher when she was attending the class as a 1YO. Now they meet again!

[Giveaway] If you are thinking about trying out Sparkanauts classes, here is a wonderful opportunity to do so. Sparkanauts is giving away a trial class pass for THREE readers. You can then go through the lesson for yourself (together with your child, of course) and decide if you want to continue with them. Sounds good?

What you need to do is to share with me the age of the child whom you want to win the trial class for via the comment’s section in this blog post. Remember to leave your email address!

– 3 winners will be chosen at random
– Giveaway is only open to Singapore residents.
– Ends on 3 September 2016
– The winners will be announced on this blog post and on Raising Faith’s facebook page the following day and will be contacted by Sparkanauts directly.

Sparkanauts

www.sparkanauts.com | FB https://www.facebook.com/Sparkanauts
293 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, SAFRA Toa Payoh, #02-01, Singapore 319387
T: (65) 6259 0307
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm

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Disclosure: Daniel is given a four sessions package by Sparkanauts for review purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

 

Panda cookies

The other day I was at Isetan Scotts and saw a whole array of Bento tools and cookie cutters and I couldn’t help but purchase some of them. One of the sets that I bought was the panda cookie cutters and I thought I should experiment with using it before I get Faith to work on it.

This set comes with the explanatory notes but they are in nihon-go!! Thankfully, the pictures are easy to follow and understand. So I used my usual butter cookie recipe and did up a batch of these cute cookies.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you may add other extract if you desire)
1 tsp charcoal powder

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Add the charcoal powder to one of them and knead into a ball.
4.Place each dough between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Place them in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to firm up. I place mine in the freezer.

5. Working with the charcoal dough first, use the black cutter to cut out the base of the panda. Place them on the parchment paper/ silpat in the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator.

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6. Next, bring out the normal dough and cut out the other details. This part is a bit tricky. I find that when I press the cutters too hard for the eyes and nose, they will crack. So I compress the cutter slightly onto the dough and use toothpick to carve out the eyes.

After that, cut out the head and place it on the body. You have to do it quick since the dough softens fast.

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Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C.

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They take a long time to do and I think it’s not suitable for Faith to work on; I will get exasperated! So bake for about 12 – 15 minutes depending on your oven.

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Ta-da! There’s definitely room for improvement but I will have to wait till the kids aren’t around when I make these again. I was babywearing Dan while making these so the quality is not that good.

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Dan wants his share too!

Happy Tuesday!

That magical night

Daniel turned 10 months old last week but I was too tired to record anything concerning him then.

For 10 months, I was sleep deprived. As a newborn, he woke up every 3 hours and we thought his sleep pattern would change for the better as he grew older. But we were kidding ourselves. We didn’t sleep train him since we didn’t want the sister to be interrupted in her sleep. Every night, da man would do night duty but I also gave him the comfort suck that he wanted, thereby creating this habit of having me to soothe himself back to sleep. This persisted for months and the past couple of months had been terrible with him waking up every 2 hours, then 1 hour and towards the end of September, every half an hour. Both da man and I were near fatigue and in the end, we decided to do something about it because if nothing was done to improve the situation, our health, both physical and mental,  will deteriorate.

We kept the cot and lay the mattresses on the floor. Co-sleeping? Yes. As suggested by the man in the family, I was to bring Faith to my mom’s and stay overnight. He would be with Daniel to let him learn to soothe himself to sleep.

That was last Saturday. I lay on the bed at my mom’s, wondering how Dan was doing. Would he be hungry? Would he need me? Would da man be too frustrated with him? There was no return message from him that night and I was worried. Faith was fast asleep, thank God for this ability to sleep anywhere.

The next morning, we returned and da man, upon seeing us enter the house, exclaimed,”Yay, we are alive!”

Jokes aside, all was well indeed. Dan just needed to pat himself back to sleep and the next few nights, it was really blissful. Da man turned in with him at night and I could use whatever time that was left to do some reading or work with Faith.

Huh? Just like that? So easy? I should have done so earlier! But I tend to think this is timely because he has had experienced enough discomfort during these few months of teething to overcome any similar-type of pain. He has eight teeth now for the record.

His appetite returned and increased in leaps and bounds. From mere breastmilk, now he needs more solids to fill his stomach. He’s no longer a picky eater and all these changed in just this week!

Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would adopt what Maria Montessori advocated. Please do read up for yourself if you are interested. I would still be using the Montessori method in bringing Dan and Faith up. I’m not a purist though.


Now that I could sleep 5 hours in one shot which is truly a luxury, I could appreciate what this wonderful Makura Health and Neck Support pillow does to me. I woke up refreshed and ready to meet the demands of the day.

Because both he and I have enough rest for the night, we could do more things in the morning when the sister is in school.

On Wednesday, I was in the mood to hang out with him and after dropping Faith in school, packed the hauck Viper and zipped to Gardens by the Bay for a slow morning run.

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For once, life as a SAHM is so attractive. While others are working, I could have the luxury to enjoy these beautiful sights and the lovely orchids in the Flower Dome.

It was also quite coincidental that my friend had taken leave from work that day and could meet me for good old local-styled breakfast at the gardens.

Ok, I need to mention that this is really rare and that’s why I am recording it. But after 10 months, I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! So much joy! I’m waiting for the boy to turn 1YO because that’s when things get better (hopefully). It happened to me when Faith turned 1YO so I hope this time round, things would not be drastically different.

After the visit to the Gardens, I could still pop by Pip’s PLAYbox at the Esplanade for Dan to have some stimulation. What a wonderful morning eh? Taking care of young ones can be fun if they cooperate!

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Would you stay this way please?

Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers over Daniel. We truly appreciate it and it’s exciting to see the Lord at work in our lives.

Dan’s first lesson at Sparkanauts

A few weeks ago, Dan started attending the Baby Cadet classes at Sparkanauts and of course, I was thrilled about it. A couple of reasons really. Faith attended the then Gymnademics when she was slightly more than a year old and I know she had benefited from it. So I have had good impression of the classes. Also, I was less adventurous with Dan and we are mostly at home. Granted that we can definitely learn at home but with more household chores to do and a preschooler to teach as well, I do think I have neglected Dan a wee bit. It’s just more difficult to balance now.

So when Dan was invited to attend a few classes at Sparkanuts, I was more than happy. At last, he could learn more stuff! If you have not already known, Sparkanauts is a centre of excellence built on the belief that learning should start early for each child to achieve their full potential and their lessons reflect that belief. Their curriculum combines play and exploration with learning resulting in holistic brain development that is made fun and engaging.

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For the first lesson, we were told to be present at least 15 minutes before the commencement so that he could play and get used to the environment. I was thankful for this arrangement as I know he could take a while to warm up to strangers. The instructors were really patient and gentle with him and it didn’t take him long to trust them.

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Within ten minutes, Dan had warmed up and was happily interacting with the instructor. How nice!

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The class started with a welcome song and introduction of words based on a theme. Besides these, music, mobility and mathematics are also part of the curriculum as they stimulate the baby’s mind, thus creating the learning foundation for their developmental journey.

First time on the trapeze bar (which helps strengthens the fine muscle tones like hands and fingers) and stayed on it for the required period of time. I was so proud of him!

At the end of the session, the main instructor briefed the parents on what we could look out for to help our kids in terms of their physical mobility so that we could continue to work on it at home. We also received the Child Bonding Package which includes materials that we could go through with Dan for the week to reinforce his learning.

So the first lesson went well!

Stay tuned for the round up of the four sessions next week and I will also be conducting a giveaway for a complimentary trial lesson for 3 readers. Next week, next week!

Sparkanauts @ SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh
#02-01
Singapore 319387
T: (65) 62590307
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm
Website: www.sparkanauts.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Sparkanauts/

 

DNC : SpongeBob run

DNC means Did Not Compete & Complete in this case. I was looking forward to have a good family run at Sentosa but it didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it to be.


I assure you that we set off for the race with much anticipation. We were all smiles especially Faith. Alas….

For those of you who have signed up and completed the race, I could only envy. But the fact is the walk to the starting point from the carpark was a tad long and by the time we reached the carnival, the girl was complaining of tiredness. To add to that, she did not like to walk on sand and was whining the whole time, thus exasperating me.


It was overcast as well and half the time, the hubs and I were contemplating if we should head back lest it poured. We didn’t want the kids to fall sick as a result of being caught in the rain and in the end, decided that we should just head back.


It was really crowded at the actual scene. I think if I was to come with friends, I would have enjoyed it, never mind the sand which is a terrain I’m not keen to run on. There were so many opportunities for good pictures to be captured but we only managed these two.



I think I’m too ambitious. Faith is not ready for a long distance run (what was I thinking???) and the most she could do is perhaps those ‘quick dash’ or 800m run. I must also make sure that it’s concrete road that she will be running the next time I sign her up.


In the end, we went for Bak Kut Teh. Sigh! No output but input. Oh well…

Stamping Ground Coffee

One of the perks of being a SAHM is to be able to have brunch with fellow moms during the weekdays and more often than not, you won’t meet with a crowd. Of course, if you can get someone to help mind the baby for just a short period of time, it would really be an awesome ME time activity.

A few days ago, I checked out the Stamping Ground Coffee along Upper East Coast Road and was totally mesmerized by the interior. What a relaxing place! I just love everything about the decor!

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Since it was a weekday, there were only a few customers and I felt totally at ease with Daniel.

Soon, my mommy friends arrived and we had a heart-to-heart talk about things that matter to us. It was really serene and I would recommend this place!

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I had my usual cafe latte and since we met for brunch, we had a go at their food.

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I must say it’s satisfying!

The other side of the cafe houses a beautiful space where floral arrangement and jamming could be conducted – Dawn Q Floral Design. It’s such an inviting space! I must find time to have a floral jamming session, just for the fun of it!

Definitely going back for more. Grab a book or something. It’s a place for retreat!

Stamping Ground Coffee
87 Upper East Coast Road
Singapore 455223

Run with peace of mind

We are days away from the upcoming Spongebob run in which we would participate as a family. I’m a bit apprehensive because I know that the girl wouldn’t last that distance – 5km – and we are ready to get her to hop onto the Hauck Viper stroller while I carry the boy in the carrier.


I thought I should just take advantage of the Customer Care Program that comes with the purchase of any Hauck product.

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So we went down to the showroom last week to get the stroller checked and serviced. Now, we can certainly run with peace of mind. Hopefully, the weather would be awesome!

😉

An invitation to you

Hello, dear readers, mummies friends, friends,

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that I am one of the ambassadors for Active Hive. I would like to invite you to a cozy session in which we could just chat about life as a mom/ woman, our kids and leading a healthy lifestyle. I would be baking some sweet treats ( it’s ok to indulge once in a while!) to serve you!

Besides the desserts, you will be treated to a complimentary body composition analysis and to try out the Minus Calories workout which really helps me in my exercise regime. The timing states from 2pm to 6pm but that is to accommodate the trying out of the Minus Calories workout. I understand many of us are pressed for time so I thought I should make this clear.😉

If you are free, do join me! ME time!!

RSVP here.

 

 

Keeping fit with Mizuno

I’m not a professional runner but I have been running (leisurely) for more than two decades to know that running in a right pair of shoes is important. How does one know which pair of shoes to purchase then? You can certainly ask the salesperson in the sports store for advice and recommendation, assuming they are seasoned runners themselves or you can have a reliable diagnosis using the gait analysis or foot mapping. Through this method, you can understand the level of your pronation and find the right running shoes for yourself.

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I have always been running using Asics because it gives me the best comfort among the shoes that I have tried. Mizuno? Nope. I’m not sure why I have not tried running in one but recently I had the opportunity to try their products (due to a sponsorship) at the store in Velocity Novena Square.

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So many different pairs of running shoes. Which one to choose? As a vain lady, I would want to go for neat designs but being also a practical person, I know full well that choosing the right pair that works for me is still the wiser thing to do.

I did the next best thing – I went to bother the salesperson, for a long period of time. You can’t blame me. I had incurred an injury before because I had run with a wrong pair of shoes and excessive mileage. In the end, I had to fork out more time and $$ to consult a podiatrist and undergo physiotherapy sessions. So, each time I buy a new pair of running shoes, I make sure I do a good job in choosing the right one.

At Mizuno, I went through the 360 degrees foot scan to assist me in finding the right type of shoes for my feet. So even if I like a particular design, I won’t go for it since the pair is not the right one for me.

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I spent one and a half hours (is that long or short for you?) choosing the apparel and shoes and was thankful that the lady who served me was patient and understanding.

 

I have since run two short-distance races with the Mizuno products and am happy with their quality. Am going to sign up for a longer distance next and let’s just see if the shoes will continue to work for me.😉

If you are choosing a new pair of running shoes, try the foot scan at Mizuno at Velocity Novena Square or Running Lab where I used to do the analysis.

Happy exercising!

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Disclaimer: As an ambassador for Active Hive, I was sponsored with Mizuno sports gear. Thank you, World of Sports and Active Hive for the sponsorship. No other forms of monetary compensation was given and all opinions are mine.

Shape Run 2016

I returned to do the Shape Run after a 3-year hiatus. The last one was a stroller run with Faith and it feels good to be back participating in this all-women run. I wasn’t ambitious and thought a 5km run would suit me just fine. I have to be realistic and kind to my knees. Until and unless I have sufficient time to chalk up some mileage, I wouldn’t dare to run a longer distance.

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Race day. The sky was overcast and I thought it would rain. The 5km category was the second last to be flagged off and man, were there a lot of ‘green’! But I love the location – Bayfront – since it’s just right ahead of the MRT station.

Note to self: Park at Dakota/ Mountbatten/ Stadium and take a train ride.

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My buddy and I. I wanted to run with a fellow mom so that we can encourage each other. to be honest, it’s really very tough to meet up to train together. So far, we have only met once! But still, it’s better than nothing!

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Go, go, go!

I love this run because the weather was perfect (not too hot) and the scenery, beautiful. And I absolutely adore women’s run because the runners were so polite and encouraging to one another. No shoving, no show-offs. But if you eavesdropped along the way, you would realise that there were a lot of mothers who were chatting about their kids. haha..

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Being a popular run, there was quite a fair bit of bottleneck in the beginning which slowed down the pace. The lane was narrow to be honest so it took a bit of effort to meander in and out of runners. Because I didn’t ‘chiong’ all the way, I was able to run strong and really sprinted towards the end.

35 min 13s later, I was back. Would love to come in sub 30 but it’s okay.

My running buddy completed her run well too. I’m so proud of her considering the fact that we didn’t train much and only depended on the minus calories for our training. The weather for the past few weeks had been erratic and thankfully, we could throw in a bit of indoor training using the machine.

img_4210That’s me, doing a last-minute training before the race day.

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Along the way, we saw this sole. Running in a good pair of shoes is important, especially if you are running a long distance one. I have incurred an injury before because I have chosen a wrong pair to run in and I have learnt my lesson since then.

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These are our choice – Hoka One One for my friend and Mizuno for yours truly.

I think I’m ready for a longer distance now.😉

Shopping at Agape babies

If you are one who likes to shop online and browses the many items on the web, you will enjoy shopping at Agape Babies. The online store has recently launched their new and redesigned website to give shoppers an even better experience on the mobile phones. Its optimized site looks and feels like an app and you can enjoy one-step checkout and one-click sign in for a faster experience.

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Agape Babies has also expanded their brand and product selection to include popular brands like Jujube! They are now carrying over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories. This means that you would probably find the items that you want at this online store. Moreover, you can also enjoy exclusive Weekly Deals every Wednesday!

Since Faith was about to start her swimming lessons, I went to shop for a waterproof bag for her and found one that might suit her. Initially, I had wanted to purchase at the physical retail stores but thankfully, I remembered that there are online stores that give good discount and the collaboration with Agape Babies couldn’t be more timely. Besides enjoying the offer, the delivery was fast too so it is really an incentive to shop at Agape Babies in this instance.

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Proud owner of the Trunki PaddlePak

If you are absolutely new to Agape Babies, you will be pleased to know that first time customers can get even more with $10 OFF. They get to choose their free gift – Mustela Trial Kit (worht $10) or Bellamy Milk Tin ($25.95) and a next day delivery on their first purchase of $150 or more. Do look for their current promotion here for more savings!

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Besides the option of having the goods delivered to your place, you can now choose to self collect from three convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road.

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So, yea, if you don’t have time to shop onsite, you will find that it’s a better option to shop online with Agape Babies.

I’m happy to share that Agape Babies is offering Raising Faith’s readers a 5% discount! All you need to do is to quote raisingfaith5% upon checkout. This discount is valid for 3 weeks (22 July to 12 August 2016) and the code excludes jujube (sad!), milk, diapers, wipes, medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories.

Disclaimer: I was gifted shopping credits from Agape Babies to purchase the mentioned products and I topped up for the remaining amount. No additional monetary compensation was given and I do not stand to gain any commission from sales using the discount code given. All opinions are mine.

#DIAL (Observation for HFMD)

It’s a usual Wednesday. My day started the moment da man stepped out of the apartment. The girl woke up and the boy stirred in the bed. It was 6am.

It’s the usual routine of getting the girl ready for school. But today, she was denied entry because there were some red spots on her palms and the school staff members decided that I should bring her home to monitor her development for the rest of the day. The school has three confirmed HFMD cases and it is understandable that vigilance is needed.

Oh well….it’s a homeschooling day for us then (I use this term loosely here). Here’s a record of such a day, a Day In A Life of a SAHM whose kid needs to stay at home. Please be warned that this is also a photo-dumping post.

9am. We reached home. The girl was not going to bum around because the mom had put on her teacher mode and hat on. First up is phonics and I’m using Jolly Phonics to teach her.

M: Why is your donkey so colourful?
F: 因为我喜欢五颜六色。

9.30am Practise writing 1 – 10. It’s a pain to teach when the brother was around because he wanted to be involved in the learning process. I’m sorry dude. I can only handle one of you at a time. 

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On normal days, I would be spending time reading and working on the muscles of the boy but today, he just had to learn together with the sister.

9.45am Faith had completed her numbers and wants to do cutting. Whatever. I have a cranky baby who needs to nap but he is struggling to stay awake.

She continued with pretend play while I put Dan in the cot. He had fallen asleep. I guess he’s just too tired.

10.05am Morning snack – strawberries

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Soon after, we baked madeleines. It’s a very good activity to share with the girl and she would definitely oblige because she liked them.

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The madeleines didn’t turn out to be to be picture perfect. I was rushing because I know the boy would wake up 30 minutes later.

10.45am The boy was up and I started steaming sweet potato because I wanted the girl to relate to the book which we have read earlier. And of course, to have a taste of the root vegetable.

11am I took out my secret weapon – Duplo – which we have acquired very recently at a very decent price. They are second hand but worked absolutely fine for us. While they played, I continued to wash the dishes. How I wish I have a dishwasher in times like this.

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11.30am Lunch was this set. Don’t judge please. It’s the best I could provide at this point in time. I wanted Dan to have a taste of the sweet potato too and he liked to disturb the sister during meal times.

12pm. Chinese.

6 months ago, I started getting her to recognise Chinese characters, first by flashing the cards and then subsequently reading text. Now she can read on her own.

Seven readers today. Her reading in Chinese is definitely much stronger than English. Time to step up on her English language!

12.30pm I wanted to get the girl to watch some TV programme but the boy would plaster himself to it. How???

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Have to keep carrying him away. I’ve my fair share of workout already.

12.50pm We continued with the study of the fruit of the spirit. Today we touched on self control.

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1.30pm Thankful for FIL who came to look after the kids. I wanted to cancel today’s minus calories workout but decided to just go ahead because the kids would be napping during this time anyway and FIL would not be overly taxed.

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I have given up a few things in life for the family/kids but I’m not willing to give up running/exercising which is a pleasure to me. Keeping fit and sane is important to me!

3.15pm Went to the library to borrow books for the children. Reckoned that the kids would still be napping so there is no real need to go back so soon. I wish I could spend more time to select books for the kids but I have to make do with whatever time that I have.

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 Borrowed a lot of books. I think I should bring a trolley along the next time.

4.15pm When I reached home, the kids suddenly awoke from their nap.It always happens this way. I have no idea why. It’s rather magical.

Asked FIL to stay for dinner and so I could cook in peace while he reads to the children.

Best arrangement.

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5.45pm
Dinner… It’s still a long way to go before I could take a break!!! Arghhhh. The boy was getting cranky. Too tired.
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I’m getting tired. I’ve mopped the floor four times already in the day. It’s time that you help out!
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7pm While I showered, the man spent time with the kids.
7.45pm Dan slept. The man left for a meeting in church and it’s the girl and I.

We spent time reading the books I borrowed from the library and after we read this ‘Katie Takes a Plane’, I decided that it was time that we take out the map and learn a little of the world we live in.

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8.30pm  It’s sticker book time! A routine before we turn in for the day.

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Good night.

I realised I truly enjoy teaching Faith and toy with the idea of homeschooling her. There are so many things that we can learn together. If she does not have to stay at home today, we would have gone to the museum, the park where she could skate-scoot or to the seaside to have a mini picnic. Each day, after she comes back from school and has her nap, I’m only left with an hour or two to teach her. Time is not on our side, really.

Kids grow up too fast!

Family Day Out @ City Square Mall 

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Thinking of places to dine? Why not head to City Square Mall, especially during this month (July) as it welcomes back the always popular Food Festival. This year, City Square Mall’s Food Festival 2016 will tantalise foodies with new restaurant openings, exciting F&B promotions and attractive gifts with purchase including mall vouchers and exclusive canvas tote bags. Besides the food, the mall offers a slew of fun activities and facilities for the kids too. Truly a family-friendly mall, I say!

13557816_10156918605900478_8486180769404040063_nWith courtesy of City Square Mall.

I won’t beat about the bush but these $9.90 weekday lunch deals are so attractive. Just look at the eleven lunch sets –  you are spoilt for choices! And if you are driving there, I believe you will be pleased to know that there is complimentary weekday parking worth $3, in addition to free weekday lunchtime parking for the first one and a half hour between 12 and 2pm (exclude public holidays), with minimum $60 spent. More information can be found on their website. #goodthingsmustshare

Food aside, City Square Mall is truly a place where families could hang out the whole day! I’ll tell you why.

Our family was invited to a Family Day Out at City Square Mall last week and it was indeed a fun-filled one, not forgetting the filling of the stomach of course.

 

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The kids had their share of fun at The Petite Park. We usually don’t frequent indoor playgrounds so you could imagine their joy when the Queklings were told to explore this space for a good one hour. Their eyes lit up!

So I thought Dan would not be suitable to play in there but no, he had his playtime too!

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We were famished after that one hour of playtime and we proceeded to Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant. I’m one happy lady because Japanese cuisine will, more often than not, be my first choice when it comes to dining out.

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This Pork Cutlet with Scrambled Egg Sauce Set is one of the $9.90 weekday lunch sets and is truly satisfying.

We were also treated to the Wafu pizza, meat skewers and salad while Faith had her Junior’s Sushi Set. All were so good (okay, I’m just generally biased towards Japanese cuisine ya?)!

We had such a full lunch that it makes sense for us to do a bit of exercise at its revamped outdoor playground which is located just next to the MRT.

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Alas, it was hot at 1.30pm and while we wished to spend more time at this playground, we had to seek a more cooling environment to rest. Perhaps the next time we come, we will have our go at this outdoor playground first.

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You’ve guessed it! We proceeded to another makan (eating) place soon after and it’s The Manhattan Fish MarketThe Manhattan Fish Market we went!

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For your info, the Grilled Glory Dory Set with soup of the day is one of the $9.90 weekday lunch sets. The rice tastes rather garlicky so if you are a fan of garlic, this is absolutely for you! For me, I love the dory!

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The Manhattan Fish Market has a menu for children too so you don’t have to share with the kids. Kekeke..We were recommended to a very refreshing drink – cala cala – a cooling and citrusy combination of Calamansi with lemon fizzle. It’s an absolutely must-drink!

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The friendly server gifted Faith with a pack of card game – Happy Family. Those of you who are born in my era, do you remember that game? He told us that they are doing their part to encourage family members to play together as opposed to having kids glued to their ipads or phones. Thumbs up for this initiative!

By 3pm, we were exhausted but there are still so many stores available at City Square Mall! Bookstores, apparels, salons… If I had the energy, I would have done my grocery at the supermarket. Oh well!

Thank you, City Square Mall, for your invitation. We truly had a great family day out!

Gluten Free Banana Coconut Bread 

What do you do when you have a bunch of bananas on the kitchen countertop and they look like they needed to be consumed that very day?


Use them in baking! I’ve decided to bake an almost gluten free banana coconut bread with them. I say ‘almost’ because I didn’t have the gluten free baking powder and have to use the normal one.

Ingredients (serves 12)
(Recipe adapted from CocoRoselle)

400g ripe banana
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
60ml coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp (gluten free) baking powder
70g coconut flour
20g chia seed

Depending on your preference, I added pine nuts into the batter. I also love to add pecan nuts or walnuts for that extra bit of crunch.

:: Preheat oven to 170C

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:: Combine banana, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and baking powder into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.


:: Add the coconut flour and chia seeds and mix through.
:: Rest for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds and coconut flour to expand.
:: Lightly oil one loaf tin and then line with baking paper. I used the silicon one and didn’t have to do that.


:: Spoon batter into the tin. At this stage, you can decorate the bread with flaked coconut or sliced banana before baking.
:: Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cover the top with foil if it is over browning. I used a bit more time as I find that the centre part remains moist. Timing varies from oven to oven.

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:: Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.


So I’m not quite used to consuming gluten free products even though I know it’s supposed to be better for our body. I think I need time to appreciate the taste which is a bit different from the usual banana bread that I made. Faith, however, likes it, much to my surprise.

Won’t you try it and let me know if it suits your tastebuds?

Faith’s first swimming lesson

Before the kids came along, I have decided that if I should send them to any enrichment classes, it would have to be Chinese, music and swimming. Faith started her music lessons at 3YO and Chinese enrichment about three months later. We have been sourcing for a swimming class for her for the longest time and we finally found one (via this link) that suits our timing and budget, all thanks to my resourceful sister!

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Morning: All ready for swim class!

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This scene is so familiar it brings back many fond memories. It is the swimming complex where I learnt how to tread water, used the breast stroke and gobbled the bowl of Mee Siam after each lesson. Now my daughter is going through the same thing, minus the food (no more canteen there!).

She started off in the competition pool and my SIL and I were giggling away as our kids got orientated in the water. Faith was uber attentive to the instructor and did everything that she was asked to do. She wore the apprehensive expression on her face and I was afraid that she might give up halfway.

Thankfully, she was all smiles when she got up for a drink and narrated to us what had happened. Asked if she liked the class, she said YES. Phew!

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So yes, she was in the deep waters for her first lesson. I think learning in a group helps a lot at her age since she will be more inclined to want to swim together with the rest. It’s definitely a good source of motivation!

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I think she did well for her first trial session. We went down as a family to support her. Yes, her brother too. We make it a point to have the siblings encourage each other in their achievement, no matter how small that could be.

Psst. Have you been using your FREE ActiveSG $100 for sports-related activities? Don’t forget to use it!

To bake or not to bake?

A few days ago, I received a WA message from a customer-turned-friend for whom I’ve baked a cake last year. “Are you still baking? I need a cake!”

And I asked myself if it is time for me to revive this passion of mine. Could I do a good enough job for others? With two kids now, it can be rather challenging in terms of the workflow and I want to make sure that the cake pleases more than it frustrates.

So, based on what she wanted, I got down to working on a simple chiffon cake, just for me to know if i could still do a decent job out of it.

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It’s an orange marmalade chiffon cake and I thought I could dress it up as a lion using a piping tip to make its mane. I have used a normal cake pan instead of the tube pan that is used for chiffon cakes.

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To make the eyes and nose, I used a portion of the chiffon batter and added charcoal powder to it.

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Tip 898 – nose
Wilton tip no. 2 – eyes

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And I used a chocolate pen to do up the finishing touches.

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Made a batch of swiss meringue buttercream because it’s less work than the Italian method. Now with two kids, I really ought to make things easier for myself.

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Add some orange colouring to the buttercream to create the type of lion that is often illustrated in storybooks.

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There you have it. Can he pass off as the king of the jungle?

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Moist and light! Perhaps I should start baking for others now and revive #twenty12byjann, just for interest’s sake?

 

Dan @ 9 months old


Dan turns 9 months old today.

:: Can crawl on all fours

:: Is starting to cruise and loves to pull out stuff from the shelves

:: Has five teeth. Loves to nibble on apples and rock melon. Prefers carrots and peas to meat. Still can’t chew and needs puréed food. Can drink from a straw cup.

:: Loves to come into the kitchen when Mama is cooking

:: Will always disturb the sister when Mama is teaching her. Likes playing with her flash cards.

:: Calls ‘mama’ when he is hungry

:: Can’t sleep through the night and will wake up 2 to 3 times for feed. Requires 2 naps per day, one at around 9am, another around 2pm.