A little update about this SAHM

What have I been up to lately?

Since my last post on changes that happened on the home front, I have been involving myself with new mothers and hoping that with my limited experience as a stay-at-home-mom, I could at least help others. It’s been a joy thus far. Being a first-year mom is tough. There are so many things to learn, to handle and the learning curve is really steep. Hearing them out and helping them with similar kind of issues made me think back to the time when I  was a new mom myself. Oh, the struggles! So real. But that phase will soon be over ya?

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Besides this, I have also decided to devote some of my ME time with Mary Kay (MK) whose skincare products I have used since 2013 and have much confidence in. I was introduced to Mary Kay when I won an online contest to attend a beauty workshop organised by a mom blogger who is a MK consultant. I was extremely happy when I won the contest because I could go out and meet fellow moms! It was a really great feeling because I have been staying at home for six months since giving birth to Faith and not meeting up with many people (my friends were all working). Can you understand that yearning to meet adults other than your husband and child?

I enjoyed the workshop very much. There was so much laughter and learning and because the consultant (who is now my mentor) is a mom herself, the things she shared struck a chord with me. Of course, I saw how the products worked just through that one workshop and came out feeling really good about myself. My spirit was lifted and after that I contacted her to try more of MK’s products.

I have been using MK products for four years now and am convinced that they work for me and now I would love to share them with others too.

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Upon coming back from the recent Taiwan trip, I went for a training that helped me understand the MK opportunity more. That aside, I think I’m happier meeting up with people and to ascertain if the MK products meet their needs, and not forgetting the workshops that I could attend. They are so fun and enriching. I like it that I step out of the workshops each time with a thankful heart and all ready to get back to my mommy duties. I’m all refreshed. Don’t believe? Try to attend one workshop and you will understand why.

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Thus far, I have had the opportunity to meet up with some fellow moms who are ready to try the MK skincare products. As SAHMs (especially), the tendency is that we would neglect taking care of ourselves but I believe we should make ourselves the priority because if our heart is right (with God) and full, we could give back to the family. Sometimes, it can start simply with feeling good about ourselves, that we look great and refreshed as we gaze into the mirror.

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This is me sharing with a fellow SAHM about the TimeWise range that I have used all these years. It doesn’t take long and at times, I bring my kids along because I want them to see me ‘at work’. Anyway, they could gain access to the toys in the house that I visit. Good for them!

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This is the TimeWise range and is the skincare promotion for this month (November). For the same price for the TimeWise Miracle Set, you could also get the Moisture Renewing Softener and the pouch as shown in the picture above.

So yup, I’m a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant now and if you want to have a chat with me about the awesome products, workshops and opportunity, you could reach me at lynneelee101@gmail.com.

It’s really about enriching women’s lives. You’ll see.

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Oh yes, I have also started on #bbg since getting out of the house for a workout can be quite tough at times. Working out at home is the way to go for now. It has almost become a routine. Yay! And if you see the two MK bottles – TimeWise Body Smooth-Action Cellulite Gel Cream and TimeWise Body Targeted-Action Toning Lotion? They are to complement my workout and I have been using them since I gave birth to Dan. Good stuff!

😉

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It’s mid-week! 

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Yesterday, the hubs took leave in the afternoon so that I could get my hair cut. So this is today.

I’m loving it because I don’t have to tie my hair and feeling like a brick is weighing down on me. 😝

Hope your week has been great!

A Day in A Life (of a mom of two)

The last time I participated in the DIAL blog train, I was a mom of one. Then I could plan and carry out a lot of homelearning activities for Faith. Fast forward one and a half years and I became a mom of two. Attention is divided between the kids but I am thankful that I could count on the older girl to take care of her brother when household chores call out to me.

On average, my day begins at 6am. On good days, the boy would wake up later, like 6.30am but more often than not, he wakes up before 6am. The hubs would have gone to work before 6am and thus my duty commences then. When the boy wakes up, so does the sister. Yawn!

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Breakfast is usually bread and I absolutely need my coffee to stay calm and loving. When I’m more hardworking, I would prepare a more decent meal but most of the time, not. Once the kids have had their fill, they would go off to play on their own while I have my five minutes of coffee break. Most of the time, Faith would play pretend and imagine herself to be a teacher. Occasionally, she would do some work. Dan, meanwhile, would seek to disturb his sister. Thereafter it’s a rush to get everyone ready before we set off for Faith’s kindy at 7.50am.

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Faith’s in school! It’s time with Dan! Before the boy turned one year old, I spent most of the morning at home because he needed to nap. These days, I try to go out with him more often. I would use one day for grocery shopping, either in the wet market or supermarket. It’s a good way to let him know about this world he’s living in and the things he sees as we shop. Two of the mornings are for exercising. I would put Dan in the stroller and do a slow run or brisk walk. 90% of the time, he would fall asleep in the stroller. If I could get help with childcare, I would go for my Minus Calories session.

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Once a week, I would also visit the library with him. I would love to bring both my children along but I know I will go mad with them going in different directions and in the end, I wouldn’t be able to pick out good reads for them.

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Faith has her lunch in school and this frees me up from having to prepare her lunch. Normally I would just grab anything to fill my stomach. Dan’s food is easy to prepare – just steam and puree. Yea, he still needs to eat pureed food.

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We would pick up Faith at around noon time. Dan would have a little playtime at the school compound. Faith would also spend some time playing with her schoolmates before we head for home. While she plays, I chat with fellow moms. Oh! First adult conversation for the day!

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By the time we reach home, it is 1pm. Faith takes a quick shower before spending some time with her brother. Once in a while, I allow screen time but more often than not, I don’t because the boy would find his way to the screen and stare at it. Not good!

Nap time is 2pm. Faith could nap on her own while I need to babywear Dan. It’s a bad habit, I know but he takes a really long time to fall asleep and if I am to get him to nap on his mattress, he would disturb the sister. I’m not sure when I can stop babywearing him; I hope I could see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

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Faith normally wakes up earlier than the brother and since I’m still carrying Dan, she would have to work on her own. I wish I have more time to coach Faith but it’s been tough. I have to steal whatever pockets of time that I have to teach her. Thankfully, she is rather independent and would get to complete the task that I have set out for her to do. These days, I tend to focus more on her recognition of English sight words rather than the Chinese characters.

Most of the time, Dan would have gotten up at around 4pm and it’s ‘Big Muscles’ time after some snacks (which mostly consists of fruits). I believe in outdoor play for children and it’s also a good breather for me. If I can find fellow moms to chat, that would be my second adult conversation for the day. Sigh!

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Once a week, I send the kids to swim at their cousin’s and when I’m in the mood, I would bring them out for waterplay. Other times, it would just be playground time.

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5pm. It’s time to prepare dinner. It’s always a challenge with Daniel around. More often than not, he would crawl into the kitchen and want my attention. I can’t move that freely too because he is hanging on to my leg for his dear life. That’s when I get the sister to ‘entertain’ him. Most of the time it works. Those times when it doesn’t, I roar!

Dinner is mainly one-pot dish. I wish I could cook more dishes but I have to be practical and settle for easy-to-prepare meals although at times when I have the mood, I would prepare dishes. I’m bored with the same old stuff that I prepare and suspect that my girl is getting sick of the menu too. That day will come when I will try out other dishes…when Dan is a bit older and more independent and you will be sure that I will post pics of them on my instagram account.

The hubs comes back home around 6.30pm and I can finally have some real help. He has dinner while I clear the dishes and after he’s done with the meal, he would help to bathe the boy and sometimes the girl if she requests for it. I would have my time alone without the kids when I’m in the shower but at times, they will still look for me. Grrr…

By the time the hubs is done with shower, it is 8pm and it’s time for Dan to turn in for the day. He would have his last feed and we have our family prayer time. Then the hubs turn in together with Dan while I spend the next 30 minutes with the girl.

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We usually read storybooks or work on the world map (Geography) before her bedtime. Sometimes when she feels tired, she would inform me that she wants to sleep and she retires for the day. From 8.30pm onwards, I could have peace and no more calling of ‘mama, mama’.

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What do I do after they have gone to bed? Meal preparation, reading the Bible, reading up on early childhood education, reading and replying emails and more recently, doing up teaching and learning resources for the kids. I love the free resources from these two websites – this Reading mama and the measured mom – and as you can see from the picture, I’m working real hard on the materials.

I normally turn in latest by 11pm. I could have slept earlier but I really do cherish the time alone to do my own stuff. 😉

This post was written as part of the Day in a Life (DIAL) blog train that is being hosted by Mum in the Making. Do click on the button above to read more DIAL posts. It’s been so interesting to take a peek into the lives of fellow mums!

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Next up on the blog train is Dawn, the voice behind Daprayer.com. She’s a modern mama who seeks to live life beautifully, while #LearningParenting and #LearningGrace along the way. Through her blog posts and hand lettering artworks, she hopes to offer some inspiration and encouragement to mamas out there to create beautiful memories, build beautiful relationships, and be the most beautiful versions of themselves, inside and out.

#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!

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.

The first six months as a mother of 2

[Reflections]

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Dan recently had his 6-month’s checkup and that means that I have been a mother of two for half a year! Hooray! You may think that it’s no big deal but to me, it is. Life has changed so much. With just one kid, life is a breeze. Two?

Before the boy popped out, I had many friends who asked me if I would be getting a helper to cope with household chores and looking after the kids. It’s a definite NO for me because I treasure my personal space and since we don’t live in a big place, I reckoned I could manage, somehow. Also, I think managing one more being causes too much of a stress to me so hiring a helper is out of the question.

This time round, getting the folks to help out has been reduced drastically as compared to the time when I had Faith only. Dad couldn’t help because he was just too weak; he couldn’t even carry Dan for more than five minutes. My FIL is getting old too so just two hours with an active preschooler wears him out. That leaves me with two kids, on my own.

The first two months

It WAS terrible. You may have seen wonderful pictures of us having fun and our faces beaming with delight but behind the scene, it was a lot of pain and tears – for Faith and me. I thought I had prepared Faith for the reality of a brother through talking to her about him constantly and reading her related books. I thought she was mature enough to handle the new arrival because she had told me that she was looking forward to the baby and she had been a good girl all along. The reality is, she wasn’t ready and she needed my attention at the same time when the baby needed it. I was without any help and I snapped, ALL THE TIME (ok, maybe MOST OF THE TIME).

But the beautiful thing is ‘THINGS WILL GET BETTER’. This message is consistently related to me by many mothers who have gone before me and I held on tightly to that promise like gospel truth and things did get better. Perhaps, Faith finally realised that the baby brother was here to stay or perhaps, I was more chilled about things and learnt that being present with the kids is more important that getting things/chores done.

But I still need to warn you, especially for those who are expecting the second one, that life will be rough, for the initial months and I kid you not. So, brace yourselves for the challenges to come.

On homecooked food

I am an advocate for homecooked food because I want the best for my family in terms of their health. But I know managing two kids and household chores can be demanding and I thought of the following options in terms of food:

  1. Order Tingkat (good ones)
  2. Buy a thermomix in the hope that cooking can be easier
  3. Humbly ask auntie-in-law to prepare dinner for us and pray that she would agree
  4. Eat out every other day

In the end, none materialised.

Ordering tingkat from good caterers is a very feasible option but no matter how good they can be, they will not give you the best that you want, IMHO. Will they give you a good cut of the meat? Will they use good oil? I may be wrong about them but they are, after all, running a business and until I can find one who is really interested in the welfare of their customers and are reasonably priced (remember we are surviving on one income?), I have to stick to cooking.

Thermomix? According to my friend who owns one, she finds it a real time-saver. I was almost tempted to buy except that I want my children to know that cooking is not about pressing some function keys and viola, you have food*! These days, there are indeed many efficient machines that makes life more convenient for us but I belong to the old-school group of people (please don’t judge me). I want my children to know their food source, how food can be prepared and understand the effort in churning out meals. This is how I was brought up and I’m thankful to my mom that she had insisted that my siblings and I go to the market with her to do grocery and that we help out in the kitchen. There are a lot to be learnt from these activities and I’m still learning.

*Comment is given based on my very limited knowledge of the product

Options #3 and #4 are actually not good options so they are discarded almost immediately.

So, I cook every meal except during the weekends. I may not be able to prepare many dishes and we mostly survive on one-pot meal but that is good enough. These days, I buy enough ingredients for a week on one trip, prepare them in small portions and freeze them until I need to use them. Specific ingredients for the next day are prepared and marinated the night before. And I find that thermal cookers are the best invention because the food can be prepared in advance and still is piping hot when we want to consume it. I absolutely love mine. BTW, a 1.5l is good enough for daily use.

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I consider homecooked food to be the best for my family. I cook so that my children can see me in action and learn the skills as they grow older. Obviously, they have to be involved at one point or another and they are often more than happy to help, at least for now.

Household chores

No helper? It’s okay! Just lower your expectation about cleanliness and change your mindset about household chores. Attempting these chores is a form of exercise, no? In fact, it’s the ONLY exercise I do these days though I hope to carve out time for some proper workout. My stamina has dropped! Boo hoo!

Be humble and accept help

There are many who, upon knowing that I do not have a helper, asked me how I cope. Somehow, I just have to cope? I mean, there are MANY parents out there who do not have a helper like us and they do just fine. Having said that, I am immensely thankful to friends who lend a helping hand to me whenever I need it. I have dear friends who cook extra food for me to bring home after Faith’s playdate, give me wonderful snacks for me to munch on, and more recently, a parent of Faith’s schoolmate who will always invite us over to have lunch so that I don’t have to cook.

And my FIL? He comes every weekend to iron our clothes and mop the floor. It’s his way of showing love to us so we don’t bother to protest.

Be humble and keep learning

I don’t want to kid you, that there are many times that I want to quit being a SAHM, or a mother because it’s so tough. My ‘before-the-children-came-along’ life was so much more exciting and when the going gets tough, I find myself yearning to go back to that life. Yet, and it’s true that “Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127: 3-5) and when I sit down to ponder the Word of God and the many fond memories that He has blessed our family with, truly I can say, “I’m contented.”

Many times, I feel that God gives us children so that we can better ourselves. I realised I am so ugly and imperfect but my children will always extend their grace to me. They (specifically Faith) will bounce back after each scolding session and flash me their innocent smiles. When I’m down and out, I hear a concerned, “Are you okay, mom?” There’s much to learn from the children themselves in certain aspects, if only we maintain a humble heart.

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Motherhood/Parenthood has to be a calling, at least to me. Little lives are in our hands and I’d better make sure that I do a good job in it. There are obviously things that we (the hubs and I) have to give up and we find ourselves having to die to ourselves daily. The last question above, “Are you willing to postpone your dreams to cultivate your children’s hearts now?” poked at my heart recently and I find myself having to reply…

Yes, I’m willing, Lord.

7f18fb92f0da51cb0164c120ea817335.jpgOh, so true!

I have survived the first 6 months (yipee!) but how will the next half a year be?

 

Great start!

How’s your first week of 2016?

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

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

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

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

Hope your week’s been a good one too!

Christmas cheer for the kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So pleased with their work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is really more blessed to give than to receive.

 

TGIF and friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The spread

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

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

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

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A day in my life with a 29MO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zzzzzzzz…. Goodnight, world. Another day beckons.

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

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

When mums come together…

… they eat and chat.

The BSF group of last year came together for a meal today. This group really gelled a lot and we are still good friends to one another. A lot has to do with the leader, I feel.

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Many of us are homemakers and that explains the potluck dishes.

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Faith got to play with the Jie Jies…

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I thank God for these ladies who have been encouraging me during my first year of motherhood. It is definitely not by chance that we met. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Surviving as a SAHM for a 1st time mum

Faith turns 18 months old recently and that means I have been a Stay-At-Home-Mum for that same period of time. Woohoo! It’s quite unbelievable that I could stay sane for so long knowing how much resistance I had for this role in the past. And, to be really honest, I am enjoying what I am doing now. 😉

Here’s sharing with you my 10 survival tips!

1. Take a morning walk

I started bringing Faith out for morning walks since she was a few months old. It can prove to be a refreshing start for the day as we breathe in the fresh air and appreciate all that nature has to offer. In addition, there’s vitamin D from the sunlight too! It really makes me feel good to be in the outdoors.

2. Playground fun

When Faith was beginning to walk, I started to make it a habit to bring her to the nearby playground(s) so that she could expend her energy, interact with other kids and gain confidence through working on the obstacles. It is also a good opportunity to have some interaction with the other parents (we need some adult conversation, no?). After each session, the kiddo will normally get tired and nap rather quickly. That means I have time to do other stuff! Yay!

3. Don’t be paiseh (shy) to accept help

I used to think that being a SAHM, I need to be responsible for all domestic affairs, big or small, during the day when the hubs is at work. I took it upon myself to carry them out until I realised it is near impossible to do every single stuff  well when there is a kiddo who needs you most of the time, especially during the first year of her life. That’s when my parents and father-in-law come into the scene. Initially, I felt really terrible to have them help out since they are rather old but I realised that they actually want to spend time with the little one who brightens their day. My father-in-law, for example, is one awesome man. He would travel to my place without any complaints when we need him, play with Faith and then iron the clothes that are piled up like a mountain. On some days, he even helps to mop the floor! Do I feel bad? Absolutely! But the hubs has convinced me that this is his way of showing love to us and I would have to accept his kind gesture. So, there you go, if your folks or friends volunteer to take care of your little one, just take it up!

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4. Go and have ME time 

If you have heard fellow mums who told you that ME time is important and that you need to have some time away from the kiddo, do heed their advice. There are times when both Faith and I have enough of each other. She’s bored of me and I’m frustrated with her. That is when I know I need to chill and be away from her. So, #3 comes in very handy. I will call my dad for help who’s always so willing to see her grand-daughter while I go for a coffee break, to the library or just window shopping. These short moments of being away from her can be rather magical because I feel restored and rested and both of us are happy to see each other again!

5. Have a hobby!

I don’t believe that we have to centre our lives around our children as SAHMs. Yes, we have our responsibilities but we are also unique individuals with passions in life and they don’t have to stop when we become SAHMs. Start a hobby. Continue to do what you love. It could be craftwork, baking, sewing, blogging, etc (these can all be done at home!). I take my hobby – baking and cake decorating – further by going for courses. In this way, I could interact with like-minded adults and make more friends (being a SAHM can be rather lonely at times). Do I miss Faith when I’m away from her? Yes! And you bet I would always be the first one to fly home so that I can see her again.

6. The kitchen as a learning lab

I spend a great amount of time in the kitchen. Besides preparing meals, I bake quite often as well. We do not 20140501_120308have any playpen in our home and Faith is free to roam. However, she would much prefer to stay with me in the kitchen. So, I allow her to play in my territory and that includes a lot of drawer opening and playing with the baking stuff. I realised that the kitchen is a great learning lab for her. For example, she is often told not to go near the oven when I am baking and there was once that she disobeyed and touched it. She definitely learnt a lesson then and from then on, she would stay clear of the furnace when she knows that I’m baking. She helps me throw rubbish in the bin and puts bottles back into the refrigerator after I’m done with them. Recently, she gets curious with vegetables as I was washing them and tasted them raw.You should have seen her facial expression! But in the end, she was okay with the coriander leaves.

20140521_172329-MIXObviously, she does a good job in messing up the kitchen but it’s really manageable. I’ll clean up the things that she plays with but hey, I get to complete the cooking or baking! That’s a good deal, me thinks!

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7. One dish meal is still a good meal

Gone were the days that I could be bothered with trying out new dishes. Now, the meals that work for me would be those that could be whipped up in a pan, pot or cooker, much like throwing everything in a pot of stock and we have a decent meal! Thankfully, the hubs is not particular about what goes into his stomach.

8. TV programmes for Faith? Hi-5!

The hubs and I don’t really like Faith to be glued to the box and we do not allow her to play on the phone (not now). In fact, we seldom watch TV programmes. However, recently, we have access to Disney channels and we allow her to watch Hi-5 which turns out to be really helpful. Faith loves the show – the songs and dancing – and she could sit on the sofa quietly and watch the show by herself. Imagine how much chores I could complete in that 30 minutes! Awesome! I love Hi-5!

9. Be connected with other mums

I don’t think anyone can survive on their own. Parenthood is a tough journey and we would need all the support that we can have from like-minded friends. SAHMs have it tough in the sense that we do not have much adult interaction which can be really depressing. I find being connected with other mums helps a lot. My spirit is often uplifted after those meetups or gatherings because I know that I am not alone in this journey. Having more experienced moms in the group is crucial to me since I can learn from them as well. After all, I am a first-time mom and still a green-horn. 😉

10. Have fun

I say this with all sincerity. Have fun. I started out this journey with bitterness and discontentment, often thinking about how life would be like if I had not agreed to be a SAHM. But hey, now I don’t have deadlines to meet and I can learn together with the kiddo and have fun with her. Being a SAHM doesn’t mean you have to stay at home all the time. In fact, I find myself going out more often, bringing Faith out to play and explore. It’s like reliving my childhood too! There are definitely many downs but I have learnt that if I take a light-hearted approach to situations, I can stay happy and contented. Remember this: A happy mum = A happy child = A happy husband = A happy family! Does this make sense? Hmm…

I guess things would be a tad different if I have more than one child. Perhaps, having one is still manageable, eh?

The next mum to share is Angeline! She has been a stay-home mom for almost 6 years now. This beautiful lady is mom to two lovely children who have given her new insights to life as she now finds herself on a journey of re-discovery of the world through their little eyes. She shares her SAHM survival guide tomorrow on her blog, Simply Mommie.

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This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

Thankful Tuesday | Faith’s 18 months old!

Today, we celebrate. Faith’s 18 months old and it’s quite a milestone for all of us, the little one and the parents alike!

It has been mostly joy spending time with her now. Ask me during my first year of parenting and you will get a pessimistic response. Now, she could do so many things with me. I don’t have to prepare any special diet for her when we go out because she is okay with the food served at the market, cafes or restaurant. This is a hassle that is off-loaded from me. Phew! The only thing that still bugs me is how messy she can get when she wants to feed herself. ;p

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I had the privilege to host a few SAHMs for our monthly meetup and this time round, Faith is the oldest of the kids. I should definitely do more of these meetups so that she could get to socialise with other kids!

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And the kids were fascinated with the baby boy or was it the rocker? We couldn’t tell. 😉

But oh, what a wonderful Tuesday!

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Linking up with

Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

My kid is going to school!

2 January, a day when my FB was swarmed with posting of friends whose kid is placed in Primary 1 or Nursery or Kindergarten. Pictures of the kids in well-ironed uniforms, white pairs of shoes and new bags were all over the page. “My baby is going to school!”

Normally on this day, I would be busy receiving these students. Many were excited while some cried, refusing to let go of their caregivers. It would be a challenging and undoubtedly exhausting day for the teachers. But today, I no longer do that. Instead, I hung out with Faith. And from this day forth, there would be less of staying at home but more of outdoor activities.

I have decided to make it a routine to bring Faith out for morning walk on alternate days. This is a good way to tell her about the park – from what she sees, hears, smells and touches. Thankfully, the reservoir is within walking distance from our apartment. And boy, was she happy to be out.

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She was mesmerized by the aunties who were doing some stretching exercises and sat there watching there for a good 10 minutes. Then we proceeded to the boardwalk where she took the opportunity to climb up and down the stairs. Then there is the playground near our block of flats and she had a great workout there! All these took us 1.5 hours. Amazing!

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The little one was so tired that after a shower, she felt asleep quite immediately which was really awesome! Finally, I had some time to myself!

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 A few minutes into Faith’s sleep, sis called me out for lunch. Dayen, the younger son had just completed his first day of school and he didn’t cry! Brave one!

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We dined at the coffeeshop where my uncle and auntie had a stall each. Wanton mee! Mom was there too and I could eat in peace for a while.

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It’s so wonderful that the cousins are finally back because Faith has got company! More cars, planes and trains! After lunch, I brought Faith to the library which she loves. Not necessarily reading though. But I guess that’s a good start. Reading begins at home!

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 So, there you have it. Faith’s first day of moi’s homeschooling effort. Hah!

Will be recording daily activities via Dayre from now on.

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Christmas wreath pull-apart cupcakes

Often, when we bake cupcakes, we will lay them out on trays or cupcake stands. How about a different way of presenting them?

I did a pull-apart version for the Christmas wreath. This is made for a celebration for the SAHMs!

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I made these vanilla cupcakes first and lay them out in the shape I want.

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Then, I apply mint frosting using a star tip, making sure that the frosting of each cupcake touches the next one.

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I thought this is actually good enough after putting some Christmas sprinkles. But since I have made some figurines and decoration using fondant, I put them up when I reach the site.

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There you have it. The completed version.

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And this is how you eat it, just pull each one apart and pop it into your mouth!

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Gymnademics at the ARC

For a while now, I have thought of enrolling Faith in some gym/ enrichment classes. You see, being a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), I have the privilege of interacting with Faith all most of the time. I read, play, do grocery shopping and take a walk with her, amongst the many other activities that we engage in. HOWEVER, there are times, oh, many times that I do not know what to do with her. Basically, I have run out of ideas! Fellow SAHMs, do you face the same issue?

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After browsing parenting blogs like those of Candice and  Adeline who share their experiences on Gymnademics, I emailed them about their trial class since I wanted to check out the environment for myself and see how Faith reacts to the class. But the sleep-deprived mom soon forgot about it until I received an email from the centre, inviting me to visit the outlet at Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC). It’s a timely reminder, so I thought, and made an appointment to go down.

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We were warmly greeted by the staff and Joseph, the GM, walked through the programme with the hubs and me. The studios were visually colourful and child-friendly. Faith warmed up to Joseph minutes into the sharing and then busied herself with the musical instruments. She was really engaged with them as the hubs guided her to explore the instruments. No need Mama already!

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After the brief introduction of the gym and what they do, I was all ready to enrol Faith in the class when I was asked if I would be interested to be their ambassador for a term. Why, yes, of course! This will be an awesome opportunity to learn more about Gymnademics, her vision and beliefs.

I am all eager for Faith to start and am thankful that the centre allows BOTH parents to be with the child during each lesson. So, that means all of us can learn together. I am also informed that the parents would be given some materials after each session so that they can reinforce what was learnt during the lesson at home. Let’s just see if this is true. 😉

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Faith is going to start the lesson in about two weeks’ time and she will be attending the lesson at the ARC’s outlet. Apart from the fact that it is quite a distance from our home, I guess the other factors are still good and enticing enough for us to attend the class there. They include:

1) It is within a sheltered walking distance from Labrador Park MRT (circle line)IMG_2824
2) There are many F&B outlets at ARC (so we will also be exploring the makan places here!)
3) NTUC (can do grocery shopping!)
4) Parking is free on weekends (yay for those who drive!)
5) We can explore the area like the Hort Park, Henderson Waves, Labrador Park, etc after the session ( means family outing!)

I will be sharing Faith’s progress at Gymnademics for sure. Do stay tune as there will be some give-aways in future posts.

To celebrate the new outlet at ARC, Gymnademics is offering some opening specials when you sign up for a class package by 30 Nov 13:

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Gymnademics @ ARC
460 Alexandra Road
Singapore 119963
Tel: +65 62717569
Email: info@gymnademics.com
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Motherhood Thoughts on a random Friday

A few things I’ve learnt after becoming a mother. In random order:

1. Gym membership is a waste of money. 

Ever thought of wanting to go back to the pre-pregnancy weight and thought you might need external help… like a gym membership? The idea is good but I soon realised that I don’t have the time to do so. It’s tough too having to think about childcare for the little one. By the time you send the kiddo to someone else’s place and then head straight to the gym, you are half-dead. How in the world would you have the energy to work out?

I have signed up for a half-year membership and I have only gone to say, maximum, 15 times. Man! Each visit costs so much in this sense. What a waste of my money.

And I reach my pre-pregnancy weight through doing household chores and running after Faith. Free of charge.

2. Massage/Spa package is totally worth it.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the above. Do you have a tired body? I have, constantly. Aching one? Yes, all the time. And I find rest in the hands of my masseuse. Period.

3. SAHM does not have a lot of time to go out with friends.

This could just be my own experience and I’m not speaking on behalf of any other SAHM. Each day of my life is packed, like looking after Faith (that is a 24/7 business), cooking for the family, cleaning the house and staying sane by baking. I do treasure my moments with da man as we find that we hardly spend quality time with each other. So, I’ve learnt to understand my mommy friends more and know that it can be difficult to ask them out. Actually, this does not just apply to SAHM. It applies to moms/parents in general. Somehow, I feel, it can be worse for FTWM. Just guessing…

4. The toys I bought for the kiddo may just be what I like and not what she prefers. 

You know what? Faith doesn’t really like the toys I bought for her. Like the cute pinkish bunny which I find so adorable? She doesn’t even like to hold for more than 1 minute, let alone cuddle. I keep trying to get her to be interested but she threw it aside when I handled the bunny to her. Poor bunny. My dear Faith prefers to play with the real stuff in the house, like laundry basket, my room slippers, cables, keys…

I think I just don’t know how to choose the appropriate toys for her. FAIL.

5. Put on makeup when you go out OR Take care of your skin before it’s too late. 

I don’t really like to put on makeup because I dislike the feeling of something on my skin. Our humid weather further discourages me from doing that. *Think perspiration and melting makeup*. However, I soon realise that with a lack of beauty sleep and hydration and sometimes poor nutrition, I can look terrible. The skin becomes dull, the dark eye rings and eye bags get worse and your lines (wrinkles) deepen. So, it’s the makeup to the rescue. Either that or it’s time to take special care of your skin. Ignore what the hubby says about ‘I still love you anyway’ because seriously, can you even accept this type of aging? It’s certainly not graceful!

IMG_7747Ok, gtg. Faith is fussing.

Linking up with:

Teach as you bake.

I love teaching because I see the value of education for it enriches and empowers one.

That is one main reason why I chose to become a teacher in the first place.

Then I got interested in baking and realised that it isn’t as daunting as I thought it to be.

When friends told me that they dare not bake and wanted me to share with them, I couldn’t resist.

It’s always good to empower people, even in baking.

In Boston, I started giving one-on-one baking tutorial…

Teaching Y chocolate cupcakes

Teaching Y chocolate cupcakes

And macarons...

And macarons…

And then a pair…

Teaching the gals potato gratin and macarons

Teaching the gals potato gratin and macarons

And subsequently, a group.

Teaching the folks raspberry sandwich biscuits

Teaching the folks raspberry sandwich biscuits

Teaching macarons to a group of lovelies

Teaching macarons to a group of lovelies

So, I thought, “Maybe I can continue to teach baking to whoever wants to learn how to bake a certain item?”

It happened yesterday when i invited two ladies to bake Lemon Meringue Tartlets since they expressed much enthusiasm in my pictures (posted on FB).

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I enjoyed myself tremendously. There is nothing like seeing a person become more confident in doing a certain task after showing her the ropes. Satisfaction to the maximum.

Perhaps, I can teach baking at my home… for a small fee?

Do you think this is feasible?

* By the way, I had a good photographer friend, Mabel, on that day who has an eye for details so Natasha could document her learning from the pictures captured.
Awesome.

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Cheesecake overdose

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I’ve had enough of cheesecake for now.

You see, a few weeks ago, a friend has asked me to bake a strawberry cheesecake to celebrate her hubs’ birthday. I agreed readily since I have baked it before. However, this time round, because I would be paid for baking that cake, I jolly well do a good job and make sure that the cheesecake delights rather than disappoint.

There are a few specifics. My friend wanted a 6-inch cake and with big juicy strawberries. The cake must be rich as well since her hubs are all into indulgence of the calories.

Therein lies the problem. Many recipes that I come across are designed for 9-inch cakes with few for 6-inch. So, I would have to come up with one for this custom-made cheesecake. Another problem that I have is I don’t own a 6-inch springform pan (I have 7-inch and 9-inch) so I would have to improvise (couldn’t get a 6-inch one in time).

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Basically, I took 3 days to come up with one recipe that I could be pleased with. This cake has to be at least 2 inches tall and filled with the cheesy flavour. So you could imagine how much stuff is packed in. In one of the recipes that I tested, I put in cut strawberries (sprinkled with flour) into the main batter but because they are moist, they don’t give the effect that I want. Then I thought of swirls but discarded the idea eventually as my artwork isn’t that stellar.

After two failed (according to my standard) attempts and a stomach filled with cheesecake slices, I managed to bake the ideal ones for my friend. Hopefully the hubs will like it.

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This is the adapted miette‘s version. It’s rather light which is good for the weight-watchers. However, a rich cheesecake is called for so this won’t do.

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It’s best to bake cheesecake in a springform pan. Since I couldn’t get hold of a 6-inch one in time, I used a cake pan with a removable base. The result is uneven sides as depicted in the first picture. ;( But otherwise, I didn’t encounter cracks for this cheesecake.

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As I delivered the cakes (she ordered two) to my friend each of more than 1kg, I could at last heave a sign of relief. No more cheesecakes for now! But I shouldn’t really get a 6-inch springform pan with the money collected from the cakes. To more baking adventures!

Cheesecake topped with strawberries
Yields a six-inch cake

190g digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar

2 blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup sour cream/ heavy cream (I did a combination)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

PREHEAT oven to 180°C (middle rack). Mix digestive biscuit crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press firmly onto bottom and up the side of pan; set aside.

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BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream/heavy cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour into crust.

BAKE 1 hour 10 min or until center is almost set. Turn oven off. Open oven door slightly. Let cheesecake set in oven 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight (better). Loosen cheesecake from rim of pan; remove rim. Top cheesecake with strawberries just before serving. Pour a little heated strawberry jam over the fruits.

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Jam-packed July

I assume the role of a SAHM (full-fledged) this month. You would have thought that I would busy myself with Faith. Yes, that’s for sure but I took the opportunity to continue where I have left off in my love for baking by going for some intensive cake decorating course. 4 mornings a week, I rushed off to my parents’, dropped Faith with them and dashed off for lessons. I treasured those mornings because they gave me time to myself and the chance to mingle with like-minded people.

20130728-215231.jpgThe last lesson saw me decorating a cake for Faith. For days, I had been making flowers and figurine with gumpaste, covering the cake with fondant and praying that things would go well on Saturday since we were to assemble everything on that day. I did make a boo boo and had to cover the cake again on that day but thankfully all went well. But Yours truly is as clumsy as ever and the figurine did not survive on its way back home – it got crushed by my bag.

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Dear Faith,
The world may not be perfect and life is filled with its ups and downs. But it can be a colourful one if you trust in the Creator. May you bloom where you are placed, and may you be a blessing to others. I thank God for you.

While my full time job is to bring up Faith, I am also pursuing my other dream – baking. I am thankful to have the privilege to produce sweet treats for friends (and being paid for it!), with my first assignment being cupcakes and a chocolate cake.

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So, there you have it, my rather jam-packed July. If I have been missing in action on this space, you can be assured that I am testing recipes or baking for some folks. 😉