Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

Showing posts with label Daily Musing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Musing. Show all posts

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

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.

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!

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!

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.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Coffee. Craft. Cooking. Collaborations (C4)

Last Saturday morning, Princess and I spent a fruitful morning doing the above - making coffee, crafting and cooking. The main participant was Princess and I was her assistant. This class was birthed by the talented duo - Christopher and Autumn. They are two unassuming persons who in fact have multiple skills and talents under their belt.

The class started with apron design. We were shown how to make stencils and create designs on our aprons from the stencils and acrylic paint. For this project, Princess came up with the design but I helped her with the cutting as she wasn't confident with a pen knife yet. The rest of the work was mainly done by her while I assisted her by holding the stencil in place or pointing out spaces where she left out colouring. It was a fun and gratifying project as the result could be enjoyed almost immediately, in fact, Princess wore the apron she designed throughout the rest of the class!

Proud owner of her personalised hand-painted apron!

The next thing we learnt was coffee-making. For this part, other than the 1:10 coffee to water ratio that I remembered, the other thing that stuck to my head was 'irreverence'. Irreverence not in a negative way but more of thinking-out-of-the-box kind of way. Making your cup of atas Arabica beans coffee with kopi sock? Why not? How about according your humble maize-butter-sugar-roasted kopi beans some royalty treatment and making a single serve portion in a french coffee press? That's exactly what we did in the class.

Very carefully measuring out the amount of coffee powder.

Learning how to make a deconstructed tiramisu dessert was the final portion of the class. Honestly, I'm not familiar with deconstructed food or those molecular gastronomy thingamajig, so it was quite an eye-opener for me. I've made tiramisu once and I thought it was decent, if I may say. However, my impression of tiramisu is that it's a rustic dessert, something like a trifle with premium ingredients. This session, instead of layering the different components of this dessert in the traditional manner, we learnt to plate it in an almost french fine dining kind of way. Each component has it's own rightful place yet they compliment one another perfectly. Few things I learnt from this plating exercise:

  1. Choose a plate that is bigger than your face.
  2. The actual food item must take up no more than 1/3 of the plate.


  3. Don't be afraid to use non-traditional kitchen utensils, e.g. paintbrush.


  4. Symmetry is passé. Just like fashion, senget (Malay for "slanted" or "crooked") is in.
  5. Height is important. A dish with some height looks more appealing and 3D.

  6. Princess' virgin (in all sense of the word; first attempt and sans alcohol) tiramisu.

  7. The last but most important point is PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. Experiment.
She got the technique of beating egg whites really quickly.
I thought the only way to make meringue is to beat the
living daylights out of those egg whites but I was wrong! 

Please do note that the above points are my interpretation and I think I'm pretty close. Go for the next instalment if you don't believe me! :P

I've got the recipe of the tiramisu below if you want try it out. It's the kind of thing that is totally instagram-worthy if you get what I mean.

C4 Class Recipe (by Christopher Leow)
Cuisine: Italian
Name: Tiramisu
Yields:  10 portions
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 60 mins

Component A: Sponge Fingers
Qty Ingredients
3 Egg whites
3 Egg yolks
60g Plain flour
2 Tbsp Icing sugar

Steps
Whisk egg whites and icing sugar till it forms soft peaks of a meringue.
Whisk egg yolks seperately till it is pale and creamy.
Combine the whites and flour to the yolks.
Spread a thin layer of batter on a warm pan/ microwave 30s/ bake at 140deg C till brown.

Component B: Mascarpone Cream
Qty Ingredients
4 Egg whites
4 Egg yolks
500g Mascarpone cream
50g Icing sugar (Split into 2 equal portions)
40ml Coffee liquor

Steps
Whisk egg whites and half icing sugar till it forms soft peaks of a meringue.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar over a Bain Marie till pale and creamy. Fold in the mascapone,
Fold in the meringue to the yolks mixture. Leave to chill.

Component C: Coffee reduction
Qty Ingredients
60g Ground coffee
300g Water
20g Glucose

Steps
Brew the ground coffee and water in a french press.
Strain out the liquid, and bring to a boil and reduce till it thickens.

Component D: Cocoa Tuile
Qty Ingredients
4 Tbsp Unsalted butter
100g Sugar
20g Cocoa powder
2 Egg whites
A pinch Salt
1.5 Tbsp Plain flour

Steps
Preheat the oven to 175′C. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Whisk in the egg whites.
Add the flour and whisk only until combined. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Use a spatula and spread a flat, thin layer.
Bake for 2-4 mins, and leave to cool.

Component E: Garnish
Qty Ingredients
As needed Cocoa powder
1 tbsp Coffee Beans
Steps
Crush the coffee beans so that aromas are released.

Assembly:
Prepare a bowl of coffee liquor for dipping.
Dip both sides of the fingers into the liquor. Arrange neatly on a tray.
Layer the fingers with a thin layer of mascapone cream.
Pipe the mascarpone cream over.
Dust the top with a layer of cocoa powder.
Using a squeeze bottle, dot the coffee reduction on the plate.
Stick in a few pieces of the cocoa tuile.
Garnish with the coffee beans at one spot.


Do you see the glow above the crown of the "Appointed One"? 

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Alive Museum - Where Fantasies Come Alive!

Thanks to Omy's invitation, we had a ball of time at Alive Museum Singapore for close to two hours! Alive Museum Singapore is the biggest 3D illusionary museum in Singapore that "tricks" your perceptions, bringing your fantasies to reality! Alive Museum originated from South Korean and there are now a total of 15 branches globally. The one in Singapore boasts an area of 10,000 sq ft, with artwork all hand-painted and handcrafted by Alive Museum's own team of artists from South Korea to exacting standards to ensure quality.

Here is a glimpse of our "fantasies":

"Hehe... tickle tickle!"

"Mummy, when I'm older can I keep a mermaid like this?"

"Save me!"

Save water campaign.

"No more chocolate ice-cream for me!"

Nice view!

"I mean, going around the museum on foot is so five minutes ago."

"Stop it, Elly!"


"Nooo.... I'm not prepared to be Croco's lunch!"

The Stretchy Duo. No points for guessing who's breezing through it.

Looks fun? You bet! 

A word of advice though, Alive Museum is NOT for everyone. It is mainly suitable for:

  1. People who like to take photographs. Sorry if this is obvious but in case anyone thinks that because it's a "museum", you can look at the exhibits as if you're in a traditional museum, you'll be in for a huge surprise. You have to take photographs and view your photographs as an exhibition.

  2. Poseurs.  As you can probably tell, we are a bunch of poseurs so we enjoyed the experience tremendously. You NEED TO choot pattern, or in other words, be game to pose and be expressive in order for your photos to turn out convincing, and not to mention, entertaining too.

  3. People who don't mind being watched as you are doing "funny things". Part of the fun, for me, was watching others contort their bodies and makes all sorts of funny expressions during photo-taking. Everyone (I think) is in for a good laugh, hence most people are sporting and they try their best to make each photo as convincing as possible. So if you can't stand being watched, you may like to skip this. Or go during off-peak hours.

So if you think you are a poseur who likes being photographed (or taking photographs of other people) and does not mind being watched while being in compromising positions at times, you have to make your way to Alive Museum Singapore!

Alive Museum Singapore
Location: Suntec City Mall #03-372 (Between Towers 3 and 4)
Ticket Prices: $25 (Adults), $20 (Children 3-12 yrs)
Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm Daily (Last admission at 9pm)

Current Promotion: Like Alive Museum on Facebook and get a free meal at Burger King Suntec with purchase of a full-priced ticket.

Disclaimer: We received two complimentary tickets to Alive Museum Singapore for the purpose of this review. All photographs and opinions are our own.


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Friday, 11 July 2014

Lessons We Learnt from an Urban Picnic

Princess and The Rock love a good picnic any time, so at the beginning of the week I told them we would go for an evening picnic if the weather was good. Unfortunately it rained and that meant the ground at the park would be muddy and I wasn't exactly looking forward to more washing, especially with the pile-up of laundry after my trip. They were of course very disappointed, so I decided to go ahead with our picnic plan but an urban picnic! This idea was inspired by another homeschool mum, who regularly has picnics with her children and neighbours's children at the corridor of her flat. :)

We had our dinner, packed some snacks and water and headed to a small neighbourhood shopping mall, found a spot that was sheltered on the outside of the building, laid out our mat and had a picnic there. The evening was further enhanced by ice-cream treats from Udders, plump cherries, sweet grapes and refreshing tangerines I bought from the supermarket at the mall.

At one point, Princess muttered, "I think it's inconvenient to have our picnic here, right?" I kind of knew why she said that but I decided to save the discussion for later and enjoy the moment. We ate, we laughed, we played and we learnt.

So on the way back in the car, we resumed the discussion about whether it was appropriate to have the picnic at the location. To cut the long story short, here are our learning points:


1. Someone's reaction alone does not determine whether an action/behaviour is acceptable or not. Some people stared and others smiled but we need not be concerned as we weren't doing anything wrong per se, unusual maybe, but definitely not inappropriate. (The security guard walked past us and asked us to move my bag from the seats to my mat so I think laying the mat on the ground was OK, although ironically I've been told at Flower Dome that it's disallowed.) My point was to encourage her to act according to her clear conscience and not be swayed by opinions of others easily.

2. Do not assume. When someone stares, there could be more than one reason. Princess, being the more sensitive one, immediately felt those who took a longer glance were dissatisfied with what we did, possibly because we were blocking the way or causing some inconvenience. However, she also noticed that some looked AND smiled. So we talked about how there could be different thoughts behind the "stares". Some were possibly curious, some felt what we did was inappropriate and one or two may even be thinking "We should do this one of these days, it looks fun!" Sometimes we get affected by what we think someone is thinking about us but our guess might be furthest from the truth and we get depressed or upset over nothing.

3. We shouldn't be afraid to do something that's not been attempted or unusual (unless, of course it's illegal, morally wrong or would pose a great deal of discomfort to others). It's usual to have picnics at the parks but not so common in urban settings. However, sometimes when "the mood strikes", it can be tiring just to think about carrying all the barang barang and spend 45 minutes to get to the park for an hour's picnic. So despite an urban picnic being unusual, we managed to have a great evening because we went ahead with it. We also talked about how in the future it can be difficult for Princess and The Rock to make some decisions that are unorthodox and how they can decide what to do.


A simply planned picnic resulted in important life lessons. So go out and lay your mat and enjoy life for what it is, on a carpet of grass or cement floor speckled with dust!


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Friday, 21 March 2014

Cotton Bud Painting (Serendipitous Mummy - Child Art Collab.)

Today Princess and I did some painting with cotton buds. This activity may seem easy but it was a challenge for her, not the activity-is-too-difficult kind of challenge though, but a challenge of having to work within a restriction. I imposed only two rules: Only use dots AND no mixing of colours. If you know Princess, this way of doing art is really cramping her style! She's all about creativity and "freedom of brush", in other words, she's a freestyler.



Knowing her to be so, why did I still restrict her expressiveness in this art activity? Quite simply, I wanted her to practise listening and following instructions. So I thought why not let her work on the aforementioned skills with an activity that she enjoys?

It turned out she did really well, although she was really tempted to mix the colours at some point but I reminded her about the rule. She also made a few strokes instead of all dots but she primarily stuck to the rules of the game.

Here are her creations (with restriction imposed!):

Painting with cotton bud
Princess was meticulous in the beginning..

Painting with cotton bud
Do you notice the few this-is-too-slow-let's-make-longer-lines strokes?

Painting with cotton bud
Princess' second cotton bud painting

Of course I had to join in the fun. I had no image in mind and I simply dotted on my paper at random. The resulting art work looked like this:


Doesn't my "art work" just look like some random colourful dots? Now let me show you the synergic effects of mummy and child collaboration:


Can you see what we have created together? Yes, a tree! Unintentionally, Princess and I have managed to do a mummy-child art collaboration; my random dots became the canopy of a tree and part of Princess' art worked well as the tree trunk.

We discussed some learning points after the art session and they are:
  1. Something as simple as a dot can create a beautiful painting. So in life simplicity can be beautiful too, e.g. a simple birthday party can be as enjoyable as an elaborately planned one.

  2. Repetition or practice makes "perfect". The initial dots were irregular; some had too much paint and some were not round, but as she went on her dots looked better and better and she had more ideas of what she could do with just dots.

  3. Repetition may be boring but it creates good results (sometimes), just like the serendipitous mummy-child art work we created.

Did you think we really stopped at dots? Nah... of course we had to end off with messy art and there were other discoveries so stay tuned!

We also explored with a technique similar to this one and I call that "Printillism". Curious yet? Take a look here.

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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Practical Tips for Healthy Eating

I've been thinking about my food choices and what I feed my family after I see how REAL people (like those in my homeschool co-op) eat REAL food. I've read about eating real food some time ago and I thought, "Wow, eating this way is really good for the body." And I stopped at the thought but didn't take any action to change my (and my family's) diet. It was not only until I met the people at the homeschool co-op that I realised eating healthy is possible AND enjoyable too!

I learnt practical ways to better our eating habits. At first, it was a bit daunting for me as The Rock is not a huge fan of vegetables and Princess is quite a picky eater but after some persistence and creativity, we managed to take some baby steps together. I'll share some ideas here:

healthy eating

Tips for Healthy Eating

  1. Include more vegetables in dishes that your children/family already like. E.g. Princess and The Rock love Korean rice cakes in soup, so I would double the portion of vegetables they usually consume and cut back on the commercially processed rice cake.

  2. Give fancy names to dishes that are usually not popular. E.g. The Rock would usually not eat asparagus but if they are called "Grilled Snakes", he would try some of them.

  3. Opt for whole-grain products if possible. E.g. Replace semolina pasta with whole-grain pasta, eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread.

  4. Encourage healthy snacking. I keep a pantry of dried fruits like unsweetened coconut flakes (Princess's favourite), dried dates, unsweetened dried mangos and dried raisins. These snacks not only provide the pepper-upper needed (due to the natural sugars), they are also great sources of fibre. Dried seaweed and nuts are also firm favourites in my family. (I get these snacks from iherb.com, you can use code "RVD687" to get $10 off your first order of $40 or more OR $5 off your first order of less than $40.)

  5. Try steaming or roasting meat and vegetables instead of frying. They taste surprisingly good with the right (light) seasoning. The best potato dish I've tried was steamed sliced potato with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper with shrimps; the natural sweetness of the ingredients just shone through! My mum's steamed chicken wings rivals any fried chicken wings. It must be her heady concoction of fresh ginger, garlic, chilli padi and fermented bean paste that she used as the marinade.

  6. If vegetables aren't your kids' thing, try putting them in soups. The Rock would not swallow even a tiny piece of pumpkin, whether steamed, grilled or stir-fried, but he would lap up a bowl of pumpkin soup any day.

  7. Introduce healthier dessert alternatives. Instead of a slice of cake laden with cane sugar and cream, give your children konnyaku jelly with fresh fruits instead.

  8. Use aromatics like garlic, ginger, vegetables and herbs to create flavour instead of depending on salt and sugar.

  9. Increase nutrients intake by consuming more whole foods instead of processed foods. Be concerned about the amount of nutrients your children/family takes in instead of the quantity of food. Knowing this 'rule' is liberating to me as I was almost obsessed with how much or rather how little Princess was eating. Now I'm happy with her eating enough fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and protein-rich meat even if she eats less in terms of quantity. In fact, it's better for her to eat half a portion of unpolished brown rice than a full portion of polished white rice and since she loves her green vegetables, she can fill herself up with that instead! The interesting thing I realised is that Princess' appetite has increased significantly since I made these subtle changes to our diet! 

  10. When eating out, avoid the children's menu as it is usually made up of unhealthy options like mac-and-cheese, fried chicken nuggets and fries. It is far better to have your children eat off an adult's plate of real meat and a side of steamed vegetables or a bowl of soba noodles and Teriyaki chicken or salmon.

As with any change, there's the usual challenge or two. I've got comments from my mum like "Don't make them into skinny children ah!" and "No noodles? But they love noodles!" This kind of remarks can be discouraging (especially when I thought this is a positive change) but I'll press on in our journey towards healthier eating and living!

I've tried making a few healthy snacks and dishes and some have been a hit with family and friends so stay tuned for these recipes in my future posts!

Useful links:
3. How Do You Eat Real Food?


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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Packing for the Perfect Family Camp

This morning as I was folding the laundry, Princess was keeping herself busy writing some "notes". She asked me to spell a few words for her and I didn't (as usual) but tried to get her to phonetically sound out the words. After a short while, she declared that she's got her packing list for our family camp ready and proceeded to read it to me. Oh my! That was the most COMPLETE packing list I've ever heard for any trip!

Here it goes!

Packing List for Family Camp (or any Family Trip)


  1. Mat
  2. Marshmallows
  3. Chocolate
  4. Biscuits
  5. Milk
  6. Dinner
  7. Lunch
  8. Joy
  9. Memories
  10. Happiness
  11. Love for Family

I was really surprised to hear the last four items on the packing list and asked her about them. She replied in a nonchalant manner, "Oh, they are important for an enjoyable camp. And the marshmallows, chocolate and biscuits are for making S'mores for breakfast!"

Her response made me wonder if these things that we adults consider as intangibles are really tangible things to children, such that Princess would itemise them and list them on the packing list. Could we have over-complicated things when really, joy is something you can decide to bring along, just like a teddy bear and memories are created pretty much the same way as art and craft (creatively and spontaneously)?

Oh, how I thank God for my little Princess, who teaches me something new everyday (much more than I can teach her)!



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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Are you on Instagram?

Instagram

Are you on Instagram? I jumped onto the Instagram bandwagon in August 2012 and have never looked back!

Here are 10 reasons why I love Instagram:

  1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
  2. This is self-explanatory; sometimes it a photo conveys an emotion/feeling/mood much better than a hunk of words.



  3. Quick Check on New Blog Posts
  4. Many bloggers are Instagrammers too and they use it as a social media platform to promote new posts, so it's convenient for me to have a quick check on new posts and then check out only those that I would like to read.



  5. Update on Princess and The Rock's New Blog Posts
    I update my readers on new blog posts on Instagram too.


  6. #Instafood
  7. I love food. I enjoy having a good meal with good company in a brand spanking new restaurant and I derive equal, if not, more satisfaction from whipping up something healthy and delicious that my family loves. So Instagram provides me with recipe ideas, tips on where to go for my dates with my husband or where to get the most aromatic cuppa!



  8. #OOTD
  9. Being in baggy shorts and T-shirts most of the time can dull my sense of fashion and style, so I need some inspiration for dressing up for the occasional wedding dinners or ultra-special dates.



  10. Daily Dosage of Art and Living



  11. Updates on Friends and Families Abroad
  12. Some dear friends and family members have relocated to places that are so far away that it's hard to meet up as often as you'd like so looking at photos of their lives there is one way of connecting with them.

  13. #Instatravel
  14. Travelling is another of my loves. Alas I can't travel as and when I want so photos would have to satisfy the travel bug in me. Some of these photos are incredible (filters or not)!



  15. Baby/Toddler Ogling
  16. Oh yes, one of my favourite things to do is ogling at babies! Take a look at these and you'll know why! (Ok, I admit sometimes I look at my feed and I thought, "Hey, he's cute!")



  17. Photography Tips
  18. I definitely need some help in this department. I think some photography know-how is pretty important as a blogger; sometimes the photo(s) conveys more than the words. I like the photos below for the composition, as well as, how well the emotions were being captured.

Are you on Instagram yet? If you are, your profile in the comments and I'll pop over to discover your adventures. You can look at mine here. :)