Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

Monday, 19 October 2015

The thing about confinement

It starts all over again... the sleepless nights, the non-stop breastfeeding, the ten minute meals and 2 minute showers.

This is also my third confinement. Although I can't say I have a wealth of experience in this department, I think I've enough knowledge about what works for me and in general, mothers who prefer knowledge-based confinement practices. (In other words, if it makes sense to me, I will do it.)

So here are my five "rules" of confinement:

  1. Personal hygiene is important.

  2. The traditional Chinese confinement practice discourages bathing or washing of hair, especially with cold water throughout the confinement period, i.e. 30-40 days. I don't know if anyone in this hot and humid Singapore strictly adheres to this rule but I certainly do not think this is a wise thing to do at all. Daily effective cleaning prevents wound infection and provides a clean vessel for your newborn to drink from; I'm not a fan of food mixed with buckets of perspiration so I'm not about to offer my baby that kind of sweet-salty flavour too!

  3. A well-balanced and healthy diet helps with postpartum recovery and provides the necessary nutrients and energy for the breast-feeding mum (and baby).

  4. A Chinese confinement diet typically consists of dishes with a lot of ginger, sesame oil and wine. I have no issues with the confinement diet, in fact, I like confinement food and I enjoy the flavours of the above-mentioned ingredients but with the caveat that the alcohol must be cooked for a sufficient period of time for the alcohol to evaporate. As I'm breastfeeding exclusively I do not want to risk having alcohol passed to my baby through breastmilk. 

    While some types of food are deemed beneficial for a new mum, some are "forbidden". Many types of raw fruits and vegetables are taboo hence I got flak from some viewers when I posted a photo of my usual morning green smoothie since it's a bowl full of *gasp* raw and chilled fruits and vegetables. Will I stop having smoothies for breakfast? No, because I'm convinced of the benefits of consuming a good amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. (My family has not seen the doctor for close to two years since we included a lot of raw fruits and vegetables in our diet. Coincidence? I don't think so.) It's also important for me to have a diet with enough fibre to prevent hemorrhoids, which I suffered from prior to the delivery of my third-born. My point here is not to encourage "rebellion" but rather to know what works for you and your body and listen to it.

  5. Rest as much as possible.

    This is what this whole house arrest confinement is all about, isn't it? In Chinese, the confinement practice is called 坐月子, it literally means sitting the month or resting/sitting for the whole month without doing anything strenuous; it's a period for rest and recovery.

    I learnt that I may not be able to keep to my regular sleeping cycle, i.e. awake in the day and sleep at night, at least not for the initial period. My newborn baby was sleeping a lot more in the day than at night and I ended up not having much rest for 24 hours because I was waking up every hour at night to feed her. I recognise that this was her sleep cycle when she was in my womb as I felt the most amount of movement at night. So before she's "trained" to sleep like us, I need to rest when she sleeps so that I at least get some shut-eye.

    While the confinement lady or helper/mother/mother-in-law is around to help out with the housework and even caring of your newborn baby, it's the best time to catch up on lost sleep during pregnancy and sleep you are going to lose once your helper leaves!

  6. Well-meaning advice would be aplenty, listen but listen more to your own values and common sense.

  7. It is interesting how a newborn makes many into childcare and parenting experts. An aunt whom you've not met in 5 years knows exactly what to do when your baby refuses to sleep at night. Another friend of your mum's who has seven grown up children tells you your breastmilk is not enough for your baby, that's why she's crying so much and you need to supplement the feeds with formula milk and water. Most of the advice is well-intentioned but what works for one child child or one parent may not work for another, and the magic formula that was effective ten years ago may not work again now. What's more "amazing" is when queried about the reason or rationale for a "solution" they've suggested, the reply is a complacent, "That's how people have always done it and it ALWAYS works!"

    The one that upset my husband and I most was "You have to pinch the nose like this everyday after bathing baby so that it will become sharper." Isn't it funny how some people assume things like how I prefer my children to look? I do not prefer them any other way other than their God-given looks; I think they are perfectly formed, just like how God intended them to be! If they choose to change the way they look in the future, it's their personal choice, but for now I love them just the way they are.

    I used to feel uncomfortable when I hear unsolicited comments or advice like this from people who come visit during confinement, but after having my second child,  I've gotten pretty good at filtering the gems from the rest. What I find important is to know your own values and practise the "one ear in, the other ear out" if what you hear is against your own values or philosophy. Of course, common sense helps most of the time too. It's really hard to find scientific evidence to back up the notion of "Your child would be hyperactive if you eat crabs during pregnancy" or "You need to tie a coin securely on top of your baby's belly button to ensure it'll become an innie instead of an outie." 

  8. Bond with your newborn (and your family).

    Spend this period of confinement bonding with your newborn and the rest of your children (if any) and spouse. For some, this is the only little time they have before they go back to work. To me, other duties like household chores can be delegated to others who have offered to help but the privilege of bonding and caring for my newborn, I prefer to enjoy myself.

    The other family members can be roped in as well; siblings can help with fetching the diaper, reading or singing to the baby and daddy can help to bathe the baby, especially during the initial period whereby the mother's wound is still healing and might be painful. My oldest love it when I ask her to watch over the baby. As the baby's cot is beside my bed, she would grab her book, make herself comfortable on my bed and read away while keeping an eye on the baby at the same time. Rock is happy to help put on baby's mittens for her and entertain her with songs and jokes when she fusses. My hands-on husband, as usual, is lovely to have around as he's capable of everything except breastfeeding. And for all three confinements, my mum, the Master Chef, took care of my whole family's dietary needs, as well as, the housework. My husband is so thrilled that for a full month he need not answer one of the most difficult questions in life, i.e. "What shall we have for lunch/dinner?"

    Having a newborn may not be all sugar and spice, as there are postpartum hormones to deal with, more laundry to wash, more noises and less sleep. But it's good to take some time amidst the chaos just to smell your baby or watch her stomach rise and fall when she breathes deeply in her sleep, after all she won't remain so little for long but all your laundry would still be there and the noises would only get louder! Trust me. :P

Did u enjoy your confinement? Or do you have confinement woes to tell or tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Me-time was a foreign concept to me until my second born was close to two years old. As both my children breastfed for 16-18 months, they were pretty much stuck to me the whole time as I did not make it a point to express any breast milk, save for two occasions of engorgement. The thought of having to wash and sterilise milk bottles prevented me from wanting to express and keep a milk bank, I thought since I would be staying at home, it would be way easier to just latch on. So that's why me-time was almost non-existent until Rock was weaned off the breast.

When I could finally steal some time off for myself, I did not know what to do with that freedom! It was refreshing though to be able to eat a dish that I like instead of finishing my children's leftovers, have a coffee AND read a book at the same time! After a while I realised that me-time is best spent doing something relaxing and "aimless". As most of the time I have schedules to meet and tasks to complete (bring Princess to her various activities on time, put meals on the table on time etc.), so when I have the opportunities to be alone, I prefer to take it S-L-O-W. It can be watching a k-drama or a coffee date with myself.

Love afternoons spent with a good cuppa and a good read

I also like to meet up with close friends on my nights off. It's usually a dinner, followed by a dessert and coffee kind of date, nothing fanciful, just quality time spent with people that matters. Although it's not strictly me-only time but it's still a good way for me to be another part of myself - a friend. I have to admit that the number of friends of I keep in contact with has dropped drastically since I became a mum, due to various reasons, I'm determined to make good the few solid friendships that I still have.

Oldie but goldie!

And since friendship is important to me, I make time for my best friend - my husband. It is not often that we get to go on dates so we really treasure those pockets of time. When it's possible, we like to date abroad! Does it sound very indulgent? Maybe but really it's only when we are out of our daily routine that we get to fully concentrate on each other; there aren't nagging worries like "Have our kids gone to bed at mum's? They skipped their afternoon nap so they'll get really cranky if they turn in late." or "I have to get back early to prepare for tomorrow's co-op session." I've been very blessed to be able to go on a few trips with my husband while my mum helped to care for Princess and The Rock. The first time I travelled without my children was kind of heart-breaking for me though, I missed them so much! I cried at the airport (it didn't help that I flew alone as my husband had gone earlier to the destination) and a few times at the hotels. We had video calls almost everyday with our children every time we travel without them because we miss seeing them and hearing their voices, also because they want us to "show" them where we were and how our surroundings looked like.

Here are some snapshots of our travels:

My most recent babymoon at Netherlands and Copenhagen

Trip to Switzerland and Venice

A photo posted by Felicia Tan (@feliciatgl) on

Trip to Italy and Vals, Switzerland

Lovely produce from Italy
Tranquil Vals, ultimate relaxation

My husband's need for speed satiated at Maranello Ferrari Museum/Track

Trip to Bali

Surf's up!

You can read more and see photos on our Bali trip here and here.

For me, me-time can be time alone, time with a close friend or two or a date with my husband. Basically it's time away from my children, as long as it's doing something that I enjoy that's not child-related; it's time for me to recharge and rejuvenate. How does your me-time look like?

This post is part of a blog train initiated by Prayerfull Mum.

Mummy's 'Me-Time'

Next on the blog train is Dawn. She blogs at Daprayerblog, a place where she documents the precious moments of her life from her random thoughts and thanksgiving to food, travels and her numerous hobbies. With the arrival of Baby Laurent, her blog now offers a peek into the life of a mummy who is trying to juggle work, balance different roles, stay sassy, pick up new hobbies and take time to smell the roses while enjoying the process of Bringing Up Bebé.

Check out her blog tomorrow to find out how how she likes to spend her me-time.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Distance between my Spouse and I is the Not-So-Smart Phone

I think I can safely say that most people have a pretty positive impression of the relationship between my husband and I. In fact I've even heard someone said, "Oh, is it? Can't be. They NEVER quarrel!" It's true that my husband and I do not have many quarrels, arguments yes, but angry quarrels not so. However when we fight, it is usually about something we believe or feel strongly about. And very recently we had an emotionally-charged "discussion" throughout the night.

Without mentioning the nitty-gritty, what we fought about was about my needs not being met. No, it's not about my husband not putting in effort in our relationship, it was more about how I perceived the situation to be due to my own love language. In Gary Chapman's "The 5 Languages of Love", he stipulated that there are five primary languages of love or five ways to express love emotionally. They are :

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Hence if your frequent "complaint" to your spouse is "We always don't have enough time together," you can say that your primary love language is Quality Time. And that is exactly my primary love language. By quality time, it's undivided attention. So watching a movie for two hours together does not make me feel as happy as a solid twenty-minutes heart-to-heart talk or simply hanging out together with a coffee and talking about nothing in particular.

So, how does the not-so-smart phone come into the picture?

I remembered the times while we were dating and even in the earlier years of our marriage, we enjoyed a lot of doing-nothing-much kind of days. It could be due to less responsibilities and absence of kids then, but those days were positively memorable. Slowly we started to become more high-tech and started using smart phones with apps and data plans included. Almost every kind of information you need can be found at your fingertips literally and communication with people becomes so much more convenient and free with Whatsapp.

Wanting to get back to some writing after being away from work motivated me to start this blog and I started being on my computer more too. Since my blog is public, I meant it to be read by a wide audience so I started a few social media accounts like my Facebook fanpage, Instagram account and Twitter account. Uploading blog posts, posting photos, checking likes and replying to comments took up quite a chunk of my awake time. When I wasn't doing these things, I used my phone to assess the internet to search for places to eat when I was in my husband's car. It came to a point where he told me I hardly talk to him in the car anymore. I didn't want to admit to be one of those people whom the Facebook shares are talking about. You know, the kind who have become unsociable by spending too much time on social media. But I think it must have been true. One day though I "woke up" and decided to do less on my laptop and my phone so I could be more present with my children. So I updated my blog less and shared less on social media.

Recently though I felt the table has been turned. I thought my husband was staring at his phone at every opportunity he got, whether it was during meals, on the bed or when we are out. I even called him "Whatsapp King"! It came to a point where I felt he would rather be checking on his Whatsapp chats and replying to them than spending face-to-face time with me. I told him about my dissatisfaction and he turned to me and said, "Yah, I've become like you (in the past)."

So yes, the distance between my husband and I is the not-so-smart phone. It took away the quality time I needed to feel loved and it took away my husband's hands! They are not there to hold me as much as before because the phone needed two hands for support. It took away my husband's handsome face because I'm busy filling up and beautifying my Instagram feeds.

So this evening, we want to go back to how we used to spend our time together. My husband's phone would be in the car while mine would remain in my handbag for emergency calls. Sorry peeps, you won't be seeing the delicious food we'll be having for dinner or my babybump #ootd tonight, at least not until we get home!

Monday, 18 May 2015

How We Learn When We're Sick in Bed

We love the flexibility of homeschooling, despite everyone being down (having fever of different degrees), we managed to learn about Chanukah/Hanukkah on the bed with this book that we borrowed from the library while preparing for the Da Vinci - Shaping the Future exhibition.

"I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel" is a Jewish take on the American folk song "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" with parodies of great works of art by various artists. I shall not say more to spoil the fun for you in case you and your children decide to have a read.

We read the book and came across a few terms that we were not familiar with, so with the help of faithful google and youtube, we now have an idea of this Jewish festival.

These are the youtube videos we watched:

  1. The Story of Hanukkak

  2. The Dreidel Song

  3. Sesame Street-Telly Plays Dreidel

  4. Dancing the Hora

  5. How to Make Potato Latkes - Hanukkah Recipe

This is one occasion I really appreciate the presence of the internet and technology and I think we'll be making some latkes for lunch soon!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Banana Coconut Muffins

I've always preferred to cook rather than bake because I think baking requires more precision in measurement and technique, and I'm the "agak-agak" (it means "estimation" in Malay) kind of cook. Sometimes I post photos of my home-cooked dishes or bakes on Instagram and I get requests for the recipes. That often left me in a fix because, you guessed it, I agak-agak the amount of ingredients in my dishes.

That's why muffins are my favourite bakes because they are not so "princess-y" so as to speak. In my little experience in baking muffins, I found that the recipes are usually highly customisable. In fact I've often:

  • substituted fruits called for in recipes with fruits I have in my fridge, and done the same for nuts
  • substituted melted butter with another type of oil (Princess and I are not fans of butter),
  • substituted milk with orange juice (I don't always have milk in my fridge but I have oranges at home most of the time)
  • substituted plain flour with kamut or whole wheat flour

I find the results still sufficiently satisfying and palatable most of the time, so I have less fear of a failed bake and wastage of ingredients.

My most recent muffin attempt is the Banana Coconut Muffins. These babies are moist with a light tropical flavour. I've cut down the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe by a fair bit because the bananas I used were very ripe and sweet and we usually like our muffins less sweet.

Banana Coconut Muffin (adapted from CC Recipe)

by Felicia Tan
Cook Time: 15 -20 mins
Keywords: bake breakfast banana coconut
Ingredients (6 large muffins)

Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups kamut flour (you can use whole wheat flour or plain flour)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon sugar
  • A small pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Wet ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or any type of light flavour oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius. Grease or line a muffin tin.

2. Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

3. Mix together coconut oil, orange juice, bananas, vanilla, and egg (beaten).

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in shredded coconut.

5. Fill muffin tin till 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bun in the Oven and Happy Mother's Day!

More on Instagram

So the cat's out of the bag, I've a bun in the oven. 

By the way the photo on the left is inspired by the one on the right or something of that kind. I thought since my baby bump is finally showing a bit, I'll attempt one of those touching toddler-kiss-pregnant-belly kind of photo but as you can see, that type of thing wasn't going to happen in my family. I ended up with "Huh?! We're gonna have a baby instead of a puppy?" shot. You know, something like one of those Pinterest fails that you've seen going around on Facebook?

Personally I've always dreamt of myself being one of those mums with that pregnancy glow who manages to take beautiful baby bump photos and maintains a reasonably active lifestyle throughout pregnancy. But the truth could not be further from that; I suffered from moderate to severe pregnancy sickness (or morning sickness) for each pregnancy and this time is the worst so far. It fact I had to be hospitalised for dehydration (from excessive vomiting) and heart palpitation. The ordeal left me drained physically, mentally and emotionally; I even suspected that I went through a few panic attacks and a period of antenatal depression. It was difficult for me to talk to anyone regarding how I felt because it's something seldom talked about, unlike post-natal depression, and truthfully I was afraid of being judged as I'm supposed to be living in the bliss of being blessed with a new life, yet I was moping in misery.

In this post I just want to share what I personally felt as one who went through a time of severe pregnancy sickness of nausea and vomiting. This by no means at all represents any or all who might have or are going through the same symptoms but I hope to share some real thoughts and feelings from my perspective.

In the midst of my nausea, retching and heart palpitations, I was thinking:
  1. Nausea is a biatch! It turned a usually optimistic person into a vessel of pessimism. It was just difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. The notion about pregnancy sickness being a "security" that the pregnancy is progressing well is hard to accept. I've known some who have safely given birth to healthy children without going through any episode of nausea or vomiting. 

  3. The thought of the possibility of being nauseated throughout the pregnancy can be crippling. Imagine being seasick or having food poisoning for the whole nine months, that was how I was feeling.

  4. It is NOT "only" nausea and vomiting, I was almost incapacitated and was on bed rest most of the time. Almost anything I did caused nausea and vomiting, of course, it wasn't really what I did, it was the pregnancy or hormones associated with pregnancy that was the cause. It didn't matter whether I was standing, sitting or lying down, I was nauseated and vomiting the same. Whether I ate in small meals or large, regularly or irregularly, I was still retching like nobody's business. Any smell or taste (even plain water) sent me straight to the white throne. The worst part was I did not feel any better after I regurgitated.

  5. This may be specific to me (or not). I felt way better with my children around me because they never fail to make me laugh even in the midst of my discomfort. Some friends and relatives were very kind and they offered to take my children out so that I could rest but I felt awful and depressed when I was alone.

I'm thankful that I've finally come out of it somewhat. I'm still feeling the nausea but I'm not vomiting as much and I still get heart palpitations every now and then, however, my mood is better these days and I'm able to do more now. I have my loved ones and supportive friends to thank for supporting me throughout this "dark period", without them, it would've been a more arduous journey for me.

On this Mother's Day, I'm glad to be able say I'm excited to be a mother of three. 

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and those who play the mothering role to others. You deserve a day dedicated to you!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Maple-coated Coconut Crisps

Chinese New Year (CNY) is fast approaching and that means it's time for feasting and snacking again! There are many meanings attached to the different types of food that Chinese eat during CNY and sweets or sugary snacks are common features in every household we visit because they signify having a sweet life in the new year.

This is where my "headache" begins because I'm not fond of having my children eat food/snacks that contain a lot of sugar, salt or preservatives and most goodies belong to this category. So this year, I've decided to make a healthy snack pack for them to bring along during our CNY visits so that they can snack healthily.

This Maple-coated Coconut Crisps would be one of the items in their snack pack. I first saw this snack introduced by a friend of mine who's a vegan. However I felt the price was more than I was willing to pay so I decided to search for a similar recipe online and found this, which, I have adapted from. Try it, you may prefer it to your favourite popcorn!

Maple-coated Coconut Crisps

by Felicia Tan
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15-20 min
Keywords: gluten-free vegan coconut maple syrup
  • 6 cups coconut flakes* or the whole package (approximately 200 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup*
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt (Start with less and add more if needed.)
  1. Preheat oven to 150℃.
  2. Mix all the ingredients. Make sure all the coconut is evenly coated with maple syrup and sea salt.
  3. Spread the coconut mixture on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it turns light brown. Remember to stir the mixture every 5 minutes so that it will be evenly brown and crisp.
  4. Cool and store in an airtight container if you can wait to have it!

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for a Cinnamon Roll flavour.
  • Add zest of 1 orange or lemon for a citrus zing.
  • Add a dash of cayenne pepper for some spicy kick!
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