Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

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

Instructions

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
Ingredients
  • 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.)
Instructions
  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!

Variations:
  • 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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*Affiliate links are provided for your convenience and if you make a purchase through them, I get a small commission but at no cost to you at all.

Monday, 9 February 2015

"Oh, just going for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin."

"So I proceed to go by the Google map way?"

"Yes, uncle. Please go ahead. I'm in a rush because I'm late for an appointment."

"Sounds like an important appointment."

"Hmm... oh, just going for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin."

I was trying to sound as nonchalant as I could because it's not cool to appear startstruck, right?

"Wong Li Lin? I really like her!"

In actual fact, me too! I was rushing from Jacob Ballas Children's Garden to De Dietrich Kitchen for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin! Because I won an Instagram(IG) contest jointly organised by her and De Dietrich Asia! (So much for not being startstruck, I used three exclamation marks in a row! Now that makes four.)



I've been following IG accounts with photos of healthy meals to get inspiration, recipes and ideas on nutritious meals to prepare for my family. One day I chanced upon a Li Lin's 3-ingredient cookie and that's was how I "found her". Truth be told, as I was scrolling through her IG feed, I was ogling at two things - the food photos and her hot bod!


Fast forward to last Saturday, I arrived at De Dietrich Kitchen with excitement to see her in real life and of course, to taste the lunch she's specially prepared for ME. And fourteen other winners, two of them I know through blogging (Lynn and Jenn). 

As I arrived late I tried to "blend in" quietly, watching Li Lin work her Domestic Goddess-ness over the pristine, high tech induction stove. As I watched her, my mind was full of, "Wah seh, cooking can also look so glamourous meh?" and "Above 40 and no lines to be seen yet!" My inner monologue was soon disrupted by the sounds of clanging crockery and cutlery as Li Lin sliced the tender beef cheeks and plated for all of us. The dish of slow-cooked beef cheek, polenta and mushroom was delicious to say the least! Although I have drastically cut down on my consumption of meat, especially red meat, I was happy to clean everything off my plate!


The leisure afternoon luncheon was peppered with questions from Li Lin (she wanted to know more about what we would like to see on her social media accounts) and questions from us about her professional and family life and fitness. It was such a relaxing event because Li Lin had no airs about her and she was candid in her responses, with guffaws at times and playful expressions at others.

What I gleaned from her was her positive outlook in life in all circumstances; she learnt that as long as she could accept that things are just different from how she would like them to be and not bad per se, she can feel happier. I thought that's such a beneficial way for us to look at situations rather than wallowing at why it wasn't so or what it should/could have been.

Of course we each took the opportunity to have a photo or two taken with her for memento. For me this photo reminds me that ageing gracefully and beautifully is very possible with the right attitude! (Li Lin, you don't look old by any means! What I'm saying is... You know what I mean! :P)


So, if you are into happy and healthy living, fitness and eating clean, you should check out her IG account.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Homeschooling can be a Double-edged Sword

I've not posted much about homeschooling lately because honestly, we're still feeling around and trying to stick to a schedule. It has been a month since Princess started "formal homeschooling", as in homeschooling at Primary level and I must say it wasn't a rosy picture at all. Don't get me wrong; we have our good and fun days but there are real challenges along the way.

In this one month, I've come to realise that most of the positives of homeschooling has another side to it, hence it's like a double-edged sword .

Here are a few benefits of homeschooling that have become challenges for me:

  1. Our family has the freedom to make most decisions regarding education, friends and lifestyle.

    My days are filled with decision-making now! From the moment I opened my eyes, decision-making starts.

    "What shall I prepare for breakfast?"

    "Breakfast took much longer than expected. Should we skip reading-aloud and delve straight into lesson proper?"

    "Princess is coughing and having a runny nose. Should we carry on with the co-op meeting or should I pull out at the last minute."

    "Arrgh... the children did not lay newspapers on the floor before doing art despite reminders and the floor is badly stained now! Does this warrant a punishment?"

    "Mummy, what should I wear?"



    It's one decision to be made after another and sometimes I just want to say, "I don't know!" I can't help but think that simply by virtue of being with my children almost all the time, I have to make more decisions than a parent who has a child in school for half of his waking hours. Sometimes I ask myself, "Why did I sign up for this?"

  2. We can choose the kind of influence our children are exposed to.

    This means we get to guide them in choosing their friends. As a homeschooling parent of two young children, it's also my responsibility to arrange play dates and other opportunities for them to socialise and form steady friendships. This means I need to get out of my comfort zone and proactively engage other parents even when I'm not usually the most sociable around. I'm the kind that would stick to a familiar few at a party and not mingle freely. (I don't mean I'm unfriendly but I realised that since I've become a stay-at-home mum, I appreciate the beauty and quietness of being alone more and more, probably due to my children's incessant questions and chatter!)

  3. We are free to choose our homeschool curriculum and adjust the teaching methods to suit the learning styles of our children.

    You know the phrase "distracted by shiny objects"? It applies to curriculum, activities, crafts and anything you can think of! There are so many resources and ideas out there that it takes a lot of discipline to stick to what has been planned. Of course some flexibility and fluidity is good (after all this is one main benefit of homeschooling) but too much of it and it backfires, at least for us. 

    "Mum, may I please join the craft co-op?"

    "Play date at KidsSTOP™? Sounds great! But we only have one full day at home this week."

    Classical Conversations? A.C.E Curriculum? Singapore Math or Math-U-See?



    There is really no lack of things to do or learn especially if you are plugged into the very vibrant and resourceful homeschooling community;
     there are so many interesting co-ops to join and fun activities to go to, so it takes sheer willpower (and some planning) not to overcommit.

  4. Our children are free to take part in any extra-curriculum activities under the sun!

    Yes, they are pretty much free to do any sport or take up any course or hobby they like. However the cost involved is usually higher than signing up for a Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) in a mainstream Primary school. Many activities are heavily-subsidised in school but homeschoolers have to pay a higher fee most of the time. It also takes a lot more effort to have children participate in team sports or groups like the brass band or cheerleading team.


  5. It gives us more opportunities for one-on-one interaction and thus would help us build a more meaningful parent-child relationship.



    More opportunities sometimes become too many opportunities! I love my children to the moon and back and I truly enjoy having conversations with them, BUT
    I do need my mid-day break and sometimes they are so enthusiastic about their quiet time activity that they can't be quiet and are bursting to share the activity with me. The huge amount of time we spend together certainly contributes to our strong parent-child relationship but I'll be honest and say it here that there were occasions when I dreamt about having a whole morning free for me to enjoy a cup of aromatic freshly brewed coffee and a good book in hand or time for me to string some beads, after my children go to school. *Gasp!* Did I just write that?
I hope this post did not put you off homeschooling your child if you are exploring the option. It's not meant to "scare" you, neither does it speak of any regret on my part; it's simply to shed some light on the reality of things for some of us homeschooling mums. That said, I would still make the same decision all over again because the good stuff you hear about homeschooling are just as true!


What do you find most challenging about homeschooling? How do you overcome that?