The end of my career and the beginning of a sweet phase

My last day at work and who would have thought that my career ends at this point in time. I, for one, have never thought that I would end it in this way but it has to be so.

The days leading to this moment have been heart-wrenching. Seeing my colleagues for the last time hurts. These are the people whom I love dearly. The place where we work is fast-paced and you need to have a strong heart. At times when the pressure-cooker is switched on, you could see tensed-up faces, hear quickened footsteps and definitely feel the heat. However we all know that it is but for a while and after that, we are good.

I have to leave because of a higher calling. There is a gift waiting for me at home, calling out for me to spend time with her. I can’t bear to leave her for too long because she is too precious, much more than my career. Or perhaps it’s just me, that I cannot manage and balance both work and family. Whatever it is, the decision has been made and it is a personal choice.

Today marks the end of a wonderful decade-long career and certainly marks the beginning of another phase of my life.

I celebrate this day with a latte and a cake. Something sweet is coming my way.

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Maple & Market
34 Cassia Crescent
#01-82
Singapore 390034

Wordless Wednesday | Father & Daughter

I cannot tell you how heartwarming it is to witness the hubs and Faith playing. The sight of them at their activities put a smile to my face. It can be rather hilarious too and I so wish that the hubs could be able to take more days of leave to spend with our daughter.

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Linking up with

Jadelyn’s 1st birthday

Our family was invited by Diana to her daughter, Jadelyn’s first birthday! How exciting! I may not have known the domestic goddess  for long but her friendly disposition won me over. By the way, she cooks and bakes great stuff. You should really explore her blog. A truly unassuming lady!

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Diana and her lovely family.

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Faith is too young to play with the older kids but she had fun with the balloons and treated herself to one!

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Diana prepared all these goodies for the little ones!

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Delish rainbow cake! How inspiring!

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Poor Faith can’t enjoy again. Next time, babe!

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A personalised gift for Faith. How thoughtful of the host! Thank you so much for inviting us!

That Friday the air got really bad

I have come to the realisation that my family ( = the hubs and I) can be rather ill-prepared for emergencies.

Recently, our city-state has been hard hit by the haze caused by the burning forests in our neighbouring country and today it got really bad. The visibility was low and I awoke to really bad air that caused me to choke.

But my thoughts went out immediately to my little one and my older folks. Dad has been feeling weak since a few days back and this is a concern. Faith is only so young and I wonder how her respiratory system will take to it.

So, we sprang into action. We have no air-conditioners in our apartment and could only rely on fans which couldn’t really cool the rooms and the smell of smoke promises to linger. We have no masks nor air purifiers and our place reeks of ash, smoke and feels constantly dusty despite being cleaned regularly. After placing Faith at my mom’s, I went in search of masks and air purifiers. This attempt was followed by my sis and BIL.

If Ken and I were still without kids, I think we would not be so worried but now with a 7-month-old, it is a different story. I remember when we were in Boston and were facing 2 rounds of snowstorms which crippled the state, we did not even stock up a lot on food items as compared to the locals. Our emergency backpack was empty. We did not have torches or batteries or candles and the hubs just went ‘don’t get too worried about it’. But now, we can’t do that. The baby’s health is our main concern and our elderly folks too.

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Buildings no more!

Imagine my anxiety. As I drove to the mall, the visibility was low at noon and when I reached my destination, stores after stores displayed notice that the needed items were all sold out. I worried for my folks at home too who helped to look after the three young kids. I was in frenzy and for a moment at a loss of what to do until my sister replied in whatsapp, “Go home!”

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Queued for > 1 hour for air purifiers

Thankfully, the hubs took leave and helped us to look for the items and in the end, he had to queue an hour for the air purifiers and the three of us joined him in the end. It was really tiring but I’m glad that at least the home doesn’t reek so much of smoke anymore.

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Smells good for now

I don’t know when the haze will ease. I don’t recall having much problem in the past. At least, it didn’t get so bad until it stays in my memory. Looking back, today was quite an adventure. I could only imagine what my sister and her family went through when Mt Merapi erupted a few years back and they had to flee.

Will tomorrow be better?

Radiant skin with NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum (SPF25)

Friends will know that I am not one who applies cream on any part of my body except for moisturizer on my face. And the fact is I’m not even religious about the regime. I apply when I remember and if I forget, it’s just an ‘Oops!’ and life still goes on.

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When I become a mother, taking care of myself with regard to the beauty department gets the lowest priority. I cannot put it across more clearly than the colloquial phrase ‘Where got time?‘ since the baby demands a lot of my attention, on top of the household chores. Being a first-time mother, I was also trying to grapple with the new role and added responsibility, so ‘looking good’ or having proper skincare regime’ has taken a back seat.

Thankfully, I have a mother who reminds me to take care of my skin since she has walked the path before. She keeps showing me the pigmentation on her hands and warns me to pay attention to the skin. When I was younger (in my 20s), she would nag at me for being under the sun since I loved to exercise in the outdoors. To be honest, I thought it was not necessary to apply anything since it is always so humid and I don’t like a layer of oil or cream on my body. I guess I am now bearing the consequences of not using any cream, yes, even sunblock (ok, I know ultraviolet rays are harmful!). The result is dull, uneven and rough skin. So when I was asked if I wanted to try the NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum with SPF25, my reply was, “Why not?” I really ought to take care of my skin and perhaps start a regime of some sorts. Besides, it is also the first time that I hear of a body whitening serum and my interest was piqued. So, for the next 14 days, I will be trying out the NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum to see if my skin will be noticeably more radiant and fairer.

The Product

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The NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum is the first ever body whitening serum with SPF25, and it offers daily protection to prevent sun damage and skin darkening from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. This is definitely a good piece of news for us who are living in a place with tropical climate since there is no way that we could avoid the attacks of the UV rays.

The NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum is enriched with natural Vitamin C from Camu Camu and 95% Pure Vitamin C. In case you are wondering what Camu Camu is, a reading on it reveals that it is the most potent source of botanical vitamin C (30 to 50 times) in the world and is considered to be an antioxidant, astringent, emollient, and nutritive. Vitamin C itself can also reduce melanin production and lighten skin naturally. Enriched with this powerful anti-oxidant,  the NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum is thus able to penetrate deeply into our skin to repair and restore accumulated sundamaged skin cells, and lighten dull and dark skin. In 14 days, it claims to help you achieve visibly fairer, more radiant and even toned skin.

Initial Review

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I’m excited to try out this product especially after I realised how bad my skin looks under the scrutiny of the camera (oh my goodness!). There is definitely pigmentation and uneven skin tone which have gone unnoticed. The skin feels rough and this, I know for sure as I had a girlfriend who once told me that. *Ouch!* Truth hurts.

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Day 1 of trying out the NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum and it feels good. I like it that the serum isn’t thick like some other body cream or lotion. In fact, it is light and glides smoothly on my skin when I apply it on my body. I would have thought that it can be rather greasy but it isn’t! Minutes later, the serum seems to be absorbed into the skin and I love the feel of my skin. No longer rough! So maybe the moisturising effect is taking place!

I have sensitive skin which is also one of the reasons why I prefer not to apply any cream on my skin. Thankfully, it doesn’t cause any irritation on my initial application so it’s safe to continue using! I also love the refreshing scent which encourages me to apply more. The hubs also concurred that the scent is oh-so-nice!

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I’m curious to find out how my skin will improve within the 14 days and will be following up with another post for the update. So stay tuned!
NIVEA Body UV Whitening Serum with SPF 25 is available at a very affordable price of $9.55 if you want to purchase one to try.

Do follow me on Instagram (@lynninpics) to find out how the product works and fits into my lifestyle.

Disclosure: I am participating in a sponsored campaign by NIVEA to try out their Body UV Whitening Serum with SPF 25. Three tubes of the products are provided and all opinions are my own. 

Faith @ 7 months

Can you believe it? Faith is already 7 months old! It’s a true joy to be able to witness her progress from a tiny weeny baby to one who is active and whose character is showing day by day.

From the sixth to the seventh month, the highlights were the introduction of solides to her and her ability to sit up without any aid. She is able to respond to her Chinese name more than her English one, possibly because she is in constant interaction with me and my folks who speak Mandarin to her.

Faith’s first foods include white rice, swede, sweet potato, butternut and apple which were provided for by Petit Bowl. Subsequently, I prepare carrot, zucchini and pear puree for her. Initially, I thought preparing meals is difficult but it really isn’t, especially if you have the time.

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Thankfully, Faith is not rejecting any of the above though she might not favour zucchini that much. In the days to come, I will introduce more veggies to her!

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To be honest, Faith couldn’t focus when a book (cloth or board) is placed before her. So, I decided that I shouldn’t be so relaxed with her and determined to get her to enjoy books, even if it means flipping the pages. Thankfully, this particular cloth book has a mirror on one of the pages and Faith was entertained by it. After that, it is more books and books!

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Faith is quite a good companion and we go out often, to the wet market, supermarket or just catching up with my friends. She seems to know that when she is placed in the car seat, mommy is driving and doesn’t really fuss nowadays. Of course, when she is tired or when the ride is long, she will sound her displeasure. Other times, she will just snooze.

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Oh, Faith can be very active and loves to ‘stand’. She takes every opportunity to practise walking when we lift her up. Too soon, my dear. One step at a time!

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I think Faith would like to have more time with her Papa and I love it when they have such moments together.

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http://picasion.com/i/1Uzez/
I’m a happy child and can be a loud one!

Mark and Denise’s wedding

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And we took advantage of the beautiful place at Republic of Singapore Yatch Club  to take loads of pictures! I’m pretty scared that one fine day, the com will crash and all my memories will vanish in that instant. So to play safe, I’m uploading them on various platforms. This is called ‘kiasu’.

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IMG_2004Many of these pictures are taken by my sis-in-law and I do feel she has an eye for details. Maybe she should just continue to pursue her interest in photography. 

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Faith looks super adorable here. Ok, I’m biased.

The babies got passed around.

The babies got passed around.

More passing

More passing

Dearly loved by grandpa

Dearly loved by grandpa

Enjoying some quiet moments before the bash

Enjoying some quiet moments before the bash

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The wedding couple

The wedding couple

and the {hopefully} quirky family

and the {hopefully} quirky family

{review} Capella Smart Travel System, ConyTM (S230T-13)

What do you look for in a stroller? When the hubs and I were shopping for one, we listed the following considerations in this order – (1) price; (2) weight; (3) ease of use; and (4) comfort. We were quite happy with the current one until the Capella ConyTM (S230T-13) came into the picture. After a week of using the new stroller, the former was immediately dethroned. The enhanced version of ConyTM stroller fits well into our lifestyle. Let me show you.

The next day after receiving the ConyTM stroller, I went to the nearby reservoir to have a jog with Faith in it. One of my favourite pastime was jogging and I was contemplating buying a jogger stroller in the past. However, those strollers are heavy weight and often bulky and will not be easy to use on normal days. The ConyTM stroller, on the other hand, is mid-weight (7.3kg) and sturdy but how will it perform during a run?

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I must say, the run was smooth and I was stoked. I mean, if this stroller can perform the function of a jogger stroller, this is really a bonus! What enables this IMG_4676are the bigger and stronger wheels that the stroller is equipped with and they are accompanied by an effective suspension system with its 0.3G shock absorber which absorbs bumps. Another plus point is the pocket at the back of the canopy. You can put your keys, phone or money in it. No more carrying them in your hands or better IMG_4677still, there is no need for bags if you are going for a run or just to nearby stores.

The handle comes with removable (black) covers which is a thoughtful design since it will turn dirty with constant usage. You can remove, wash and put it back again and it will be as good as new.

I wanted to be sure that I am not biased towards this stroller and took it for another test-drive the following day. To the wet market we went. To get to my destination, I had to go over undulating ground, uneven surfaces and bumps in the carpark.

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The test drive that day didn’t disappoint. Up and down the slope the stroller went and Faith was still seated comfortably inside. It was easy to maneuver around the bends too and then came a nice surprise – the wheels are large enough to travel along the drains that are covered with metal railings. That means I would not need to avoid them in future. How convenient!

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Another feature which I like a lot is the full canopy as seen above. This is especially important since we have really sunny days and the canopy could provideIMG_4686 up to 99% ultra-violet protection for the baby. You might be thinking that the baby will be feeling hot inside which can be the case in tropical Singapore. To solve the problem, there is a mesh ventilation window on top of and at the rear window of the canopy which also allows Faith to keep her loved ones in view. One more thing about the canopy which I love is the fact that it is easy to close and open it…without any sound. This is important to us because Faith wakes up to the slightest sound when she’s asleep in the stroller but with the Capella ConyTM, she isn’t affected!

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Faith gets to chat with ‘Eggs uncle’

As you can already tell from the picture, the Capella ConyTM allows a one-hand, quick-fold for easy opening and closing of the stroller and this is a feature that I appreciate. No fumbling at all and it makes me feel so ‘pro’ in handling it.

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The Capella ConyTM is equipped with the reversible handle. This is especially useful when Faith wants to see familiar faces when we are out. It is easy to use this function – just pull up the catch at the sides of the handle and change the direction. While it is comfortable to use the handle both ways, I find it harder to run with the baby facing me ; it needs more control.

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As with most stroller, the Capella ConyTM comes with multi-recline function and it can be easily done with a pull at the top of the seat and the release of a catch at the back if you want to lower it. Once, Faith felt asleep in the stroller and she wasn’t affected when I lowered the seat because it can be done so smoothly and easily. The stroller has a wide space and I find Faith being able to move or stretch within it.

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In the aesthetics department, the Capella ConyTM stroller looks fabulous. I love bringing the stroller out and snapping pics of Faith in it. It suits every occasion, both formal and informal.

Another plus point, the stroller is able to stand on its own. Nice!

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Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect stroller and this one is no exception. There are TWO things that bother me.

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(1) The stroller comes with a 5-point safety harness to keep Faith fully secured but I find them rather loose even though I have already adjusted to the shortest. The straps by the shoulders come off easily and in the end, we find it a hassle to use them. There are pads inserted in the straps which Faith use as a teether but these come off easily too. Could it be that I do not know how to adjust them well?

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(2) There is a big basket at the bottom of the stroller which is useful. But the problem is I find it a tad difficult to remove the ‘lock’ to put things inside. It’s not as easy as I would like it to be.

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Overall, I must say I love this Capella ConyTM stroller despite the few imperfections and enjoys bringing it out! It works as a trusty helper and certainly makes my life easier especially when I have to go out alone with Faith. I’m not sure if I have fully explored this stroller and if I have not, I will update it on this space!

If you are looking for a new stroller, you might like to consider this model. It is available at $399 (UP $539) in 4 different colours. Capella will be available at Isetan, Metro, John Little, Robinsons, BHG, OG, Kiddy Palace, Cheri Kids, NTUC Xtra AMK, ToysR’US, baby specialty stores and selected online baby stores.

You can find more information about Capella via their facebook page.

I will be participating in the upcoming SHAPE run (stroller category) with Faith, along with 9 other mommies and will definitely be reporting on the run via this space and on my facebook page. Check back soon if you are keen on how we fare!

Disclosure: I was gifted with one set of the Capella ConyTM S230T-13 Smart Travel System for the purposes of test and review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine.

Friday brunch with an old friend

I am one who believes that we don’t need many friends; just one whom you can turn to despite not meeting up often.

YL is one of them. Our meeting is often impromptu and this time, it is no exception. Since she stays near 112 Katong, we went over to Baci Italian Cafe to have our brunch, with the kids in tow.

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It’s rather quiet when we reached the cafe and there was only one other customer who was obviously enjoying her brunch at the big couch. The cafe has big open space and a kids corner which attracted Aly instantly.

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20130614-144421.jpgYou might be interested to know that kids eat for free here! But I would have to be honest – the food’s not all excellent and it’s self service for drinks. We had waffles and an omelette set. Perhaps, it’s just these few items that we tried that were not up to expectations. Having said that, it is really a good casual place to chill and spend the slow and easy morning with your friends.

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BACI Italian Cafe
112 Katong

Capella First Smart Travel System – ConyTM (S230T-13)

Psst. Have you heard? Capella, the leading manufacturer for strollers from Korea, is launching its first smart travel system stroller – ConyTM stroller (S230T) – in Singapore. The 2013 collection is enhanced with better functions for our baby’s ultimate comfort, stability and safety.

Last Friday, TaiMe Pte Ltd, who is the sole distributor of Capella did a soft launch of the ConyTM stoller and I am among the ten other mommies who are privileged to be invited to the tea party!

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 We were greeted by the new strollers as we walked into the TaiMe (excited!) and then treated to scrumptious dinner. A smiley Cherie could vouch for it.

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The bosses of Taime then proceeded to show us the features of the Capella ConyTM strollers. The S230T-13 is 7.3kg and is suitable for newborn to 48 months (up to 18kg). Some of the enhanced functions and features include wider sturdy wheels, wider in width, UV protection canopy, enhanced fabrication and cushioning and not forgetting, stylish colours (wine, orange, blue and red).

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The print motifs for 2013 collection features the following lifestyle fashion for Capella:

Easy & Vivid Fabric Motifs

Sophisticated & Elegant Fabric Motifs

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 The mommies were all eager to try the new strollers with their kids. It’s quite a sight!

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TaiMe has generously gifted the 10 mommies with the Capella ConyTM S230T-13 to test and review the strollers. They wanted us to reflect to them if there are any areas that could be improved. This tells a lot about their commitment to continually seek refinement in their products so that families can benefit from it.

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So, yes, I will be coming up with a review about the new swanky stroller (in wine) and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Read Estella’s version of the launch here.
More pictures of the launch can be seen here.

Disclosure: I was invited for the soft launch of the Capella ConyTM S230T-13 Smart Travel System and gifted with one set for the purposes of test and review. Transportation allowance for the launch was provided and all opinions are mine.

FFWD | back-of-the-card cheese and olive bread

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How is this a bread, I’m not so sure for it doesn’t use bread flour nor yeast. Perhaps, a quick bread?

Dorie explained the origin of this recipe which was initially printed on a card produced by the Comte cheese makers’ organisation and distributed to fromageries all over France. She and Patricia Wells picked up the card and each tweaked the recipe to call it their own.

I tweaked it as well. Our family is not fond of olives (pity!) and thus to increase the chances of the bread being eaten, I replaced tapenade (what is that??) with diced ham and olives with sundried tomatoes.

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When the hubs came back and had a first bite, his comments was, “I can’t tell whether it wants to be a bread or something else. It’s neither here nor there.” What a statement. Did I do it wrongly? But thankfully, he finished what was given still. I guess, the ham did the magic.

How is this bread served in the true French fashion way? According to the writer, the loaf is meant to be served as a predinner nibble with a glass of Champagne or white wine. You will have to cut the loaf into slices about 1/2 inch thick, then cut the slices in half the long way. It is not French custom to serve this bread with a meal but Dorie commented that it is awfully good with salads.

So, that’s it for this bread. It’s another recipe that makes me hunt for the ingredients, not to mention learning more about them. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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We are the DinoFamily

Father’s Day thoughts from a Daddy

The wife asked me to pen my thoughts on being a father.

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What do I know of being a father anyway?

I’ve only been a dad for a grand total of 7 months. 29 weeks. 205 days.

My journey has barely begun.

And yet already, in this short time, being a dad has brought with it a myriad of emotions; joy, nervousness, excitement, fear, anticipation, doubt, pride, anxiousness, peace, frustration, and joy. Oh joy.

It is difficult to explain. But others have tried.

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Joy

“There’re two things I know for sure: She was sent here from heaven and she’s daddy’s little girl.

As I drop to my knees by her bed at night. She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and I thank god for all of the joy in my life.”
– Bob Carlisle’s ‘Butterfly Kisses

Being a dad brings me great joy. I would not go so far as to say that Faith is ‘all of the joy in my life’. But certainly, the two ladies in my home make up most of the joy in my life.

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Pride

“For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking little white flowers all up in her hair;

“Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it’s my first ride.” “I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried.”                                                                                                     – Bob Carlisle’s ‘Butterfly Kisses

There is a sense of pride that this little human being looks to you for safety and assurance, as well as for approval. Even at 7 months old, Faith responds to our tone of voice. She knows when we are comforting her, and she knows when we are rebuking her. (Even though her reaction to being rebuked may not last very long.) As parents, we are the ‘all’ in her life right now. And yet along with that sense of pride, comes a huge dose of…

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“Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right. To deserve a hug every morning, and butterfly kisses at night.                                                               – Bob Carlisle’s ‘Butterfly Kisses

It fills me with humility to think that someone as flawed as I am, has been entrusted this great honour to bring a little child up in this world. That I (and my wife) are responsible not only for her physical well-being, but her mental, emotional, moral, spiritual well-being as well. God is good.

Bob Carlisle’s ‘Butterfly Kisses’ is a beautiful song from a dad to his (not so) little girl.There is, of course, the flip side. Of a child looking back on his/her dad.

Next time, perhaps I’ll talk about Dan Fogelberg’s ‘Leader of the Band’.

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Happy Father’s Day!

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Wordless Wednesday | Mixed berry tart for a {b}very busy day

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Back at work in the morning.

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Can’t resist this as I head back home to fetch Faith

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A guest’s coming over so this is a real fast and easy dessert to make

Mixed berry tart
1 pack ready puff pastry, thawed if frozen
250g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries – whichever you can get your hands on)
Confectioners’ sugar
Fresh mint leaves, to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly oil a large baking sheet.

2. Place puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.

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3. Bake for 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown (I took more than that). Flip the pastry over, then press down all over to flatten. Bake fore 5 more minutes, until the pastry is flaky, cooked through and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cook completely, about 1 hour.

4. Beat the mascarpone with the vanilla extra until smooth. Spread it evenly over the pastry.

5. Place the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Toss gently and then spoon over the mascarpone cheese. Decorate with the mint.

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{Review & Give-away} Origins Nail Spa Experience

Recently, I was invited to Origins Nail Spa for a session of a classic manicure, pedicure and a scrub and mask. Naturally, I was excited since the last time I had such a treatment was during my wedding day. So, with much anticipation, I went down to the stop in Bukit Batok and arrived 30 minutes late due to a massive jam on the highway and because yours truly is not good with direction. 

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Thankfully, the manicurists were forgiving and went straight down to business. The nail spa has a cosy shop space and each time they could only accommodate three customers. If you have tried Origins prenatal massages, the nail spa is an extension of their business and this outlet is their first which was opened about half a year ago.

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I was told that the whole session takes about 2+ hours and one of them asked me if I had taken my lunch. I thought that was quite thoughtful of her. Besides that, the atmosphere was all very ‘silent’. There was no small talk which suited me fine. However, I would have preferred that they advise me on the colours to take but well, I guess this boils down to preference and they could only inform me of their newest range.

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Since I was the only customer then, I had both manicurists serve me at the same time. After the usual cleaning, I was given the scrub and then the mask for my hands and legs.

Here’s the list of choice of SCRUB available
Green Tea (Anti Oxidant, Anti Ageing, Whitening)
Coffee (Anti Oxidant, Boost Circulation)
Ginger (Warming, Soothes Aches, Nourish)
Chocolate (Anti Oxidant, Repair, Rejuvenate, Firming)

Here’s the list of choice of MASK available –
Green Tea (Anti Oxidant, Anti Ageing, Whitening)
Coffee (Anti Oxidant, Boost Circulation)
Ginger (Warming, Soothes Aches, Nourish)
Chocolate (Anti Oxidant, Repair, Rejuvenate , Firming)
Milk (Whitening, Soften, Repair)
Balinese Boreh (Warming, For Muscle Aches or wind)

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I chose chocolate for both because I was attracted by the ‘anti-oxidant’ component and while they were applying the scrub and mask, the chocolate smell was so enticing I would be really thankful if they could offer a slice of chocolate cake then. Ok, no such luck.

IMG_4377After applying the mask, cling film was used to wrap the hands and legs and I would have to rest for 10 minutes before they unwrap and gave me a short massage on both areas. This was really relaxing and I wish they could spend more time massaging. But I couldn’t ask for more since they are manicurists and not masseuses! Oh, I have to tell you, when they unwrapped and cleaned up, I could immediately feel that my skin is softer and fairer. Seemed rather magical, don’t you think?

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Next, the application of the nail polish. This was done fast but well and I could see that the manicurists were concentrating real hard on their task. Before long, the whole session was over.

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The whole session was soon over. Overall, the service was satisfactory although I would have  hoped that the manicurists could be friendlier. But if you are those who prefer not to chit-chat, then this is fine.

{Give-away} The Origins Nail Spa is giving away a complimentary Classic Manicure session to ONE reader. All you have to do is to leave a comment and tell me what colour you would choose when you go for a manicure session.

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This giveaway will close on 25 June 2013 and results will be announced in an edit of this post so look out for it on this space and on my FaceBook page here.

{Promotion} In addition to the give-away, Origins Nail Spa has an ongoing GSS promotion valid from 1 June to 30 July 2013. To enjoy the perks, simply print out the coupon below and bring it along with you when you visit.

origins

Origins Nail Spa
Address: 644 Bukit Batok Central #01-68 S’pore 650644 (5 mins walk from Bukit Batok MRT station)
Contact number: 6565 0350
Email: book@originsnailspa.com
Operating hours:
Mon – Fri , PH 11am-8 pm
Sat 10am – 8 pm
Disclosure: I was invited for a complimentary classic manicure, pedicure and nail spa session. No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine.
Update:  Congratulations to Zee. You have won the complimentary classic manicure session. I will be contacting you soon. Thank you to the rest of you who have participated. =)

Joy of Learning Workshop

I had an overdose of caffeine and definitely, information.

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I was invited to attend Fisher Price’s Joy of Learning Workshop which was held this morning and to be totally honest with you, I was skeptical at first. Will it be another of those workshops which tries to entice you to purchase their products at the end of the session? I need to have an open mind, I know and boy, am I thankful that I went.

Perhaps I am just a newbie in this motherhood journey but I find myself soaking in all the information that I receive about parenting from various sources. Because my learning style leans more towards auditory, visual and kinesthetic, workshops suit me perfectly.

The workshop started at 9am but I was early and treated myself to a complimentary cup of Nespresso coffee (couldn’t decide if I want TWG or Nespresso). I figured I would need all the attention to take in the important information later.

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There wasn’t a real booth selling Fisher Price products wich was a pity because I would have wanted to buy something for Faith. It would be good use of time to browse the items for those who were early too but oh well, it’s really not a big deal.

The participants started streaming in slowly and we didn’t commence until 30 minutes after the stipulated time. It’s a tad disappointing but perhaps it’s just me – I’m not very fond of lateness. Ok, I need to practise mercy.

Thankfully, the presenter, Carrie Lupoli, got the workshop to a good start. She is IMG_1933one lively individual who shares her invaluable experience and knowledge with the audience. I was engaged throughout in this interactive workshop. I don’t think it is possible for me to consolidate my learning in just one post and definitely cannot complete it within a day because I have my responsibility to perform as a mother. But yes, I hope to share what I have learnt with you and it will be an on-going thing.

For a start, I’ll just share this graphic with you which I have gotten from Carrie Lupoli’s facebook page. Her page is a good resource guide so if you want to get updates, do LIKE her. 🙂

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First message: The first FIVE years of life is when the most significant growth and development occur in a human.

Questions to ask (myself): Who is the person in charge of facilitating this growth and development and how will he/she go about achieving the desired outcomes (which is ultimately his/her goals of parenting).

Food for thought and I’ll be back.IMG_4273

But one thing that I will certainly be doing (application) is to be consistent in documenting Faith’s milestones.

And no, I didn’t buy anything from Fisher Price (no proper booth anyway!) but I got a whole lot of parenting info from this workshop and a bountiful goodie bag to bring home. Certainly hope that Fisher Price would conduct similar events again. It’s worth the fee that one pays.

Disclosure: I was invited by Fisher Price to attend the Joy of Learning workshop for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are mine. Where pictures or information belong to others, I will always try to have them credited as such.

Parenting with Confidence – Session 3: Bringing Kids on Board

histhoughtsWhile Session 1 talks about our roles as parents, and Session 2 helps us to find out more about the personalities of our kids, Session 3 brings the two together by emphasising the need to help ou kids understand the viewpoint of us parents.

The session started off emphasising the importance of The Confidence Factor. (Hence, the title of the course: Parenting with Confidence) The idea is that kids respond to leadership (or a lack thereof). Hence they respond to confidence and challenge weakness in parents. As an educator, I actually see this quite a bit. It is a constant reminder that young kids are not yet ready to make proper use of the autonomy that we sometimes would like to give them…

The session also introduced the idea of parents as coaches, prompting us to recall the (successful) sports coaches that we may have known in our lives, and drawing on their traits in our parenting. I guess this is where you pick and choose a little. I think it may be okay to be an Arsene Wenger type parent, but perhaps less so if you want to be an Alex Ferguerson type parent. (Though to be fair to the old Scot, he does protect his players in public…)

Some tips for parent-coaches. Be someone who: Gives Attention to, Listens, Understand, Encourages, and Believes in your Child. Be someone who: your child would be prepared to follow and fight for. Be someone who: Provides safety, control, and order to the child. Teaching Honesty, Determination, and other Life skills. (As an educator, it is a reminder here that nothing academic was emphasised. Rightly so in my opinion.)

We were reminded to provide our child with 3 things. Physical Affection. Loving Eye-Contact. Focused (1-on-1) Attention. And High Expectations. Prepare them to enter the world as whole, healthy people.

Creating an atmosphere at home to prepare our kids for the world is hardly an easy task. (though some of us may sometimes feel we need to prepare the world for our kids…) Session 3 also gave us 15 Tools for Engaging Cooperation. I’m just going to give the names of the tools here and I’m guessing most are self-explanatory (or ask about them in the comments and we’ll help where we can.)

1) Show Them How. 2) Give Clear, Simple Instructions. 3) Tone of Voice. 4) Plan Ahead. 5) Mistakes are Opportunities. 6) Rehearse the Ritual. 7) Use of the Impersonal. 8) Play Pretend. 9) Choices. 10) Thinking Words and Fighting Words. 11) Say YES. 12) Reinforce Good Behaviour. 13) Use of Timer. 14) Celebration and Praise. 15) Cue, Prompt, Reinforce.

We were also provided with the Four Magic Words. “In our family we…” Definitely look forward to using more of these words…

Here is a quick example of how to use some of these tools.

Say the child is watching television and dinner is about to be ready.

Parent(P): Faith, dinner is going to be ready soon so we are going to have to switch off the tv soon alright?

F: But I don’t want to switch off the tv.

P: Well in our family we don’t watch tv while having dinner remember? But you can choose if you want me to switch the tv off, or if you would like to switch it off yourself. (9)

F: I’ll switch it off…

P: Well you don’t have to do it now, but I’ll set the timer (13) over here for ten minutes, and you can switch off the tv when the timer goes off. (15: Cue)

<Ten minutes later> K: Well the timer has gone, do you remember what you have to do now that the timer has gone? (15: Prompt)

F: <Switches off tv>

P: Great! Thanks for remembering to switch off the tv before dinner time! (15: Reinforce)

Of course tools alone are not long term solutions. There will be instances where tools do not work and discipline is required (I think that is Session 4), and even when they do work, there needs to be reasons behind our rules for lasting effect on our kids. Reasons behind rules would need to be tied to values. Family values. Hence, Session 3 rounded off with a reminder for us to come together as a family and set out the values that our family would live by. And then share them with our kids. (It’s like strategic planning for the family…)

I’m looking forward to the discipline bit though… Tune in next week… =)

FFWD | Goat cheese and strawberry tartine

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So this is one of the easiest recipes, out of the so many others. However, it did take me out of my comfort zone because the main ingredient required is goat cheese. So, I need to tell you that I am not fond of cheeses. Yes, I don’t mind the common ones like cheddar, mozarella, gruyere, cream cheese and mascarpone. Apart from that, I don’t venture out. So goat’s cheese is…what’s that?

To the supermarket I went and yes, there’s plenty of cheeses. After much search, I found it! Yay!

I know tartines are made on slices of country bread but it happens that I still have a new loaf of wholemeal bread and I’ll just have to bear with it.

It makes for a good breakfast though I don’t really quite fancy it. I’m not a goat cheese person. :p

If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

Linking up with

We are the DinoFamily

A 15-minute lunch

The combination of olive oil + garlic + dry white wine + kafir leaves never fails. In a continual attempt to eat healthily, I did a 15-minute meal for lunch. Pan-seared cod fillet on toasted bread and with blanched asparagus on the side. Since I have wasabi sprouts in the fridge, they are thrown in as well.

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Simple. Just like that. And a wholesome meal is created.

What are you having for lunch?

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Faith is looking hungry!

{Review} ONAKA @ ARC

Restaurants with food that impress are aplenty but those that cause me to reflect on my eating habits and cooking are few. Here’s one which not only offers delectable, healthy meals but one that challenges you to eat consciously and to be mindful of the food that you are consuming – Onaka @ ARC.

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ONAKA stands for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts. Headed by head chef Jason Vito, he and his team are committed to bring creativity, passion and personality to the table so as to make every dining experience a unique and an authentic one. They use all-natural ingredients in the preparation of their food and that also means no artificial additives, chemicals, colorings, flavorings, MSG, and trans-fats. Will such food be available in a world that has gone artificial and highly processed? The answer is an absolute YES. Here’s my recent food-tasting experience at ONAKA.

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Hosted by Chef Jason, Benson and Rosalind, a group of mommies and I were led to a long table where we were to experience Conscious Cuisine that evening. First up, the appetizers. The starters above showed off ONAKA’s thoughtfulness and creativity in designing the dishes. Who would have thought that the tuna-like sashimi is actually their signature Watermelon Sashimi (top left) topped with agar wasabi “tobiko”. It took some of us quite an amount of time to figure out what it actually was and we didn’t really quite get it right until Chef Jason revealed. Then, there was Asian Hummus (top right) which is made of organic chickpeas. Chef Jason used hazelnut and sesame oil to add flavour to it and to give an Asian spin to the dish.

The Tofu Avocado Salad was Chef Jason’s version of the Greek salad and I love it that it was light, healthy and without feta cheese (sorry, I’m not fond of it). The addition of walnut and hazelnut adds a nice crunch when you consume of the dish and the tamarind dressing adds a nice touch to the salad. The Nicoise Paper Roll reminds me of the vietnamese roll except that this one has fresh tuna, cucumber, French beans, herbed egg-salad, dehydrated olives and aioli. Quite a lot of stuff in the roll, eh?

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Next, the main course, the carbs. We were thinking that we would be served just one dish but lo and behold, four dishes came out. You should have seen our expression. Amazed! Thankfully, as Chef Jason explained, those mains were meant to be shared as they want to bring back the joy of communal eating to their diners. And that’s what we did. From top left, (in clockwise direction) we had Hot & Sour Prawn Rice Noodles, Maritime Barley Risotto,Pineapple Rice and Roasted Mushroom Soba. Of the four, I like the first one the most since I find it hard to resist the succulent queen prawns that were cooked together with shiitake, Asian herbs, chili lime in spicy shrimp broth. Simply exotic! I thought the Maritime Barley Risotto was creatively designed by using barley to replace the commonly-used Arborio, thus resulting in a light carbo dish.

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Proceeding from the noodles and grains, we had proteins, meat! The servers placed about six meat dishes and we were overwhelmed. Chef should have informed us so that we could pace ourselves! From top left in clockwise direction, we had Duck Pancake which I adore. It reminds me of Peking duck, just that this is actually duck confit cooked with five spice and orange caramel and wrapped in tumeric crepes. Wonderful combination, you think? We also had Portobello Mushrooms with quinoa and grilled vegetables topped with cheese (technically it’s not a meat dish but oh well!), Pumpkin Sea Bass and Miso Lamb. These were not all. The servers brought in more: 48 hrs Beef and Pear & Salmon.

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You have read it right. It’s called 48hrs beef because the meat was cooked slowly with tender loving care for two days with red wine reduction and you could imagine the tenderness of the meat as one took a bite. In addition, it was served with mashed pumpkin and sweet potato and who would have thought that this simple combination could be so inviting to the palate. I couldn’t stop eating it. Totally heavenly!

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The last dish which I want to highlight (because it is my favourite!) is the Pear and Salmon. What you have on the plate are seared 47°C Norwegian salmon paired with Asian pear julienne and soft-boiled egg. Omega-3 overdose? Perhaps! The way to eat it is to mix everything together. It may look messy but it definitely tastes delicious!

As you can see, there is a good variety of food in the menu and there is somethingIMG_1724 for everyone. We were privileged to have the chefs explain the various dishes that were laid out before us. In doing so, they helped us to take notice and enjoy the unique aroma, flavour, texture, taste, selection of ingredients, presentation of food, and understand its nutritional health benefits. That session wasn’t just food tasting; it was food education.

Before we left, we were treated to dessert and who could resist this – Brownie with banana & cardamon ice-cream and topped with a slice of dehydrated banana. We were pampered, to the max.

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ONAKA has created a wonderful and enriching dining experience for us. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. With creativity and knowledge of the ingredients used, the chefs at ONAKA have proved that healthy delicious food can be made. Their passion for what they believe in was clearly demonstrated in their sharing with us. Indeed ONAKA made delicious food healthy and healthy food delicious.

It is one thing to share with you my experience via this means but it is another if you could go down and taste the food yourself. The prices are reasonable for such a cuisine and I am certain that I would visit them again.

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Another thing that impresses me is their thoughtfulness in catering a meal for Sophie, Irene‘s daughter. She was provided with a bowl of Pineapple Rice with Soy Melange Skewer and ice-cream for dessert. How sweet of them!

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Do visit ONAKA and get educated on Conscious Cuisine! Situated at ARC, parking is free with a minimum purchase of $30 on week day evenings and free parking during weekends.

ONAKA @ ARC 
460 Alexandra Road #01-32 PSA Building Singapore 119963
Mon to Fri – 11:30am to 10pm
Afternoon Tea – 3pm to 5pm
Sat & Sun Brunch – 10am to 4pm
Dinner – 6pm & last order 9:30pm
Mon to Sun Happy Hours Promotion – 3pm to 8pm
Tel: 6270 2012

Disclosure: This review was due to an invitation from ONAKA @ ARC. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

[Tuesday Thoughts] Getting back to fitness

20130604-131153.jpgMore than a month ago, I went down to the gym to get my fitness assessment done. The numbers were rather encouraging. I had 2kg more to go before reaching my pre-pregnancy weight and I fall into the normal range for both the body composition and fat analysis. Then, there was this obesity diagnosis and oops, my Percent Body Fat and Waist-Hip Ratio were far from ideal. In fact, they were over the normal range.

My only consolation is ‘I just gave birth’.

I realised I cannot use that as a reason (excuse) all the time. Staying at home during these few months has caused me to develop some bad habits:
– Indulging in sweet stuff to reward myself after taking care of the baby. This is daily affair, mind you.
– Getting the hubs to buy ice-cream for me and this was never in my diet before and during pregnancy.
– Not making a point to exercise when in the past, I exercised for at least 3 times a week.
– Indulging in Gong Cha whenever I am out and when the outlet is within sight.
– Not drinking enough good o’ plain water.
– Not eating well at times since it can be a hassle to cook a decent meal when the baby is fussing and when you are so tired after doing the household chores. So, in times like these, I just snack.

Am I alone in this journey or do I hear ‘Amen’ from some of you out there?

Instead of whining and procrastinating in my ‘Getting back to fitness’ plan, I thought I should just pen down some of my goals and work at it:

1) Train for and run a half marathon by the end of the year.
2) Eat less meat and I will go Meatless Monday on the first day of the week.
3) Attend Pilates at least once a week (till my gym membership ends).
4) Eat at least one fruit each day.
5) No more ice-cream on normal days.
6) Gong Cha is only allowed once a week at most.
7) Cook healthy meals and in smaller portions.
8) Drink at least 2 litres of plain water each day.

Will you join me in this journey? Starting from TODAY!

Linking up with
MummyMOO

MTP | Faith’s development @ 6 months

While parents met their child’s teachers last Friday to get an update of their development, I thought I should pen down Faith’s since I am her teacher (Am I not?). Here goes.

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Faith’s two lower teeth have grown by the sixth month and the days leading to the ‘eruption’ saw her crying out in discomfort every night. It’s such a pain to see her in that state but she’s better now.

She takes to semi-solids well too. In fact, she loves the fact that she could sit on the high chair and have a meal together with us. Nope, we don’t encourage switching on the TV or to have any other forms of distraction. Meal time is a time for the family to be together, to enjoy the food and each other’s company. Her appetite is good; she could finish the portion of puree in 10 to 15 minutes. It isn’t too much mess either when feeding her but when she’s tired, she likes to kiss the bib and that’s not very desirable; it’s messy. So far, that’s no rejection of food on her part but let’s just wait and see.

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Faith is also a happy child. My parents have no problem in handling her. In fact, the evening I was away for a dinner, she stayed up to play with her grandmother. My mother gave good report about her! Faith has also grown to be more at ease with my in-laws which is definitely a good thing. Way to go!

In terms of sleeping, Faith still has trouble falling asleep on her own. Currently, she needs to be soothed and wants to be breastfed before she could fall asleep. Ok, I recognise that I have contributed to this problem. This is a bad habit and I have to retrain her to sleep on her own. When she was younger, I was definitely stricter and sleep-trained her. Recently, I let go and well, bad habits are formed. Argh! At times, she wakes up in the middle of the night and I believe that’s because of teething. Other than that, she could sleep from 9pm to 7am. We will have to continue to monitor this area of her development.

Faith loves to play and is very active. She could sit up straight with minimal assistance now but we are hoping she could do so WITHOUT any aid in the very near future. She loves music and responds to the same song(s) when I play them on my iphone. However, her interest for books has not been detected. Oh well…

On the whole, Faith is growing well and she is much loved by God and her family!

Mocha cake

After a few sessions of the Parenting with Confidence workshop, I have decided (in my heart) that our family should celebrate the little things in life. They could be achievements (big or small), certain important dates in the calendar and well, birthdays. You see, the hubs and I are not huge about such things. Both of us (or rather I) would talk about them without really doing anything special for that particular occasion. Say, for example, the hubs’ birthday. I asked him how he wanted to celebrate it and he shrugged his shoulders. So, I spent that day doing up my hair. No celebration, no cake. It’s just a normal day. And the trip down to the hairdresser was a desperate call to the ‘shedding’ of my hair rather than making myself look presentable to the hubs (*think I’m a present to the hubs! hah!). Blame it on the hormonal change.

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Then there was the recent Mother’s Day. In jest, I asked the husband what he would give me as my present and he would give me all sorts of answers like ‘all I have is yours‘. So, I didn’t really get anything for that important day, perhaps just a prayer by the church leaders for all mothers. Nah, I’m not sore about it but a {belated} present would be nice. *hint*.

So, May has ended and June is marching in in all its excitement. School holidays! Hurray! And then the hubs told me he wouldn’t be applying for leave. Oh well. See, we are really not excited about anything. But like I have mentioned, I have decided that we should make it a point to celebrate little things in life and I did what I have set my heart to do – I baked a cake to celebrate the birthdays of our May babies in our cell group. Since both of them are male, a manly sorta cake, like a Mocha cake, would be fitting? However, that would mean that the kids could not have a bite. Oh well, can’t please everyone all the time.

I encountered problems with this recipe. The cake needs more time, double the time in fact, to bake in the oven. The best test, definitely, is to insert the satay stick or toothpick into the centre of the cake and when it comes out clean, it is done. My decorating skill, as usual, sucks big time and I didn’t do a crumb coat before covering the cake with the frosting. Not enough time. Boo!

Nonetheless, I did produce the cake, and we did sing birthday songs for the brothers. Yes, the hubs is one of them and hey, he has a cake after all! So, where’s my Mother’s Day present? Hur hur?

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Mocha cake (Adapted from Cakes: Delicious recipes for a happy life by Marina Neri)
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