Friday, 25 September 2015

Bento

Packing lunch for the kiddos is new to me. The children didn't stay past lunch in their school in Singapore, nor did they do so when they first started school here in Seattle.

This academic year, though, Little Man is at school from 9am till 3pm, and I pick Little Lady up after lunch at 12.15pm.  I figured that since I have to pack a lunch for Little Man, I might as well pack her a lunch as well, rather than cook another meal in time for her lunch after picking her up.

However, it is tough thinking of what to pack for lunch every day!  Well, for me, at least.  So what do I do?  Turn to the internet for inspiration, of course! Oh my goodness!  The wealth of ideas out there!  I mean, look at these examples! Calvin and Hobbes!  Spongebox Squarepants! Super kawaii!
Source
Source
Source
I know myself.  I do not have the talent to do anything close to that.  Nor do I have the ability to wake up early enough to do so.

So I looked at the more western options, and came across these easy to prepare ones:
Source: http://www.bentoschoollunches.com
Source: http://www.craftionary.net/

Source: http://www.easylunchboxes.com
These are definitely more manageble. However (I know, I know, I'm so hard to please), many of these feature lots of processed food (ham, biscuits, cheese) and sandwiches.  Not sure why I'm reluctant to give them too many sandwiches as I ate a lot of them for recess as a kid.  I guess my mindset at the moment is still very Asian - need to have rice.  As for processed foods, I try my best not to include too much of those in meals I make for the family.

Don't even get me started on the choices of bento boxes out there!  I want to buy them all!!!

This was one of the first bentos I packed for the kiddos, when they went for Summer Camp.

It is fried rice, with a Siew Mai, mini strawberry muffin, and apple slices.  The boxes are part of a Lock and Lock set my Mum gave some time ago.

Join me as I embark on my Bento Adventures.

Do you bento? Do share in the comments!






Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fun Friday: Remlinger Farms

I am extremely tardy in writing about our visit to Remlinger's.  We actually visited several weeks ago, but I'm only updating now.  *paiseh*

We visited Remlinger Farms with our friends who are also our neighbours.  In addition to U-Picks during strawberry, raspberry and pumpkin season, they are also a little theme park.  When we visited, there were no U-Pick in season, which was just as well, as we were there for the Theme Park.  

We had separately bought tickets from Groupon at a roughly 30% discount, so look out for that if you can.  We arranged to meet there at about 11 am.  However, we ran late, so arrived at about 11:30 instead. The queue was looooong.  So if you intend to visit on a weekend, be there early!
Some of the many cut-outs to take pictures with.


We really liked the place.  It is catered for families with young kids.  It had many rides, almost all of them suitable for younger children.  Even Little Lady, who is not very tall, qualified to take most of the rides.

Their favourite was the one with the flying corn.  They also went on a mini train kiddy ride and a canoe ride on their own.  Little Lady had fun on a carousel, and as a family, we went on an actual train ride, sat in a spinning cup, and had a ride on antique cars.  There were more rides, such as a mini ferris wheel (which was not working that day), even a roller coaster!  We didn't have time to go on all the rides, so we'll have to return for another visit some time.

There is also a petting zoo, which I do not have pictures of, as I was queuing up for the train ride at the time.

The kiddos also went on a pony ride. The queue for the pony ride was sooooooooooooooo long.  It was worth it, though.  They had so much fun.  Little Lady was first assigned to Peaches, but her friend, whose pony came first, was too nervous to mount her pony, so Little Lady got on, to reassure her that it was not so scary after all.  I reminded Mr Cuppa to take photos since he was accompanying Little Man.  And so I got a photo of Little Man's mount, without Little Man.  Ah well.

Something that I thought really cool, and that the children had great fun in was the Hay Maze and Hay Jump. They made a maze out of hay bales, and instead of a ball pit, they had a 'hay pit', that had a climbing wall at one end.  Both kiddos had loads of fun running, jumping and falling.

As luck would have it, the school is having a field trip the Remlinger Farms in a couple of weeks.  Yay!

In the market/gift shop, you can score very fresh fruit and vegetables, and their many varieties of pie.  We tried the Dutch Apple Pie, and it was yummy!  I was glad to see it available at our local QFC (supermarket) at the same price.

So if you're in the neighbourhood, do consider bringing your kiddos to Remlinger Farms for some wholesome fun!  Do check on their website for dates before you visit though, they're closed from mid-autumn till mid-spring.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

SG 50 Celebrations

This is a special year for Singapore. She is half a century old!  That is actually very young, in the grand scheme of things, and compared to many countries around the world.  However, for a country with only one natural resource (people - sadly, that resource is running dry too :( ), she didn't do too badly.

Last year, knowing that we would be away this year, I booked a room the the Fairmont, overlooking to bay to catch the NE Show.  Being away this year meant that we missed the fantastic aerial show put up by the Black Knights.  I also missed the live streaming of the National Day Parade.  Although I tried, I just was not able to keep my eyes open.

We celebrated by having a BBQ with lots of Singaporean food with fellow Singaporeans and a Malaysian-American family.
Fried Mee Siam, Ramly Burger, Otah, red and white Logan Almond Jelly.  Our American friends contributed yummy Tuna Pasta, Cheesy Zucchini, and Raw Cookie Dough (no egg no wheat flour), sadly we didn't get any pictures of those - too busy eating. 

Two weeks later, we joined the SG50 celebrations organised by the Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group. It was a massive celebration with 300 people, mainly from the Pacific Northwest, but also with some coming up from San Francisco, LA, even New York and Hawaii!  Singapore Ambassador to the US, Mr Ashok Kumar Mipuri was the Guest of Honour.

The place was decorated in red and white. They sold Prima and noodles by Nona Lim, for those who want to make Singaporean food at home.  Highlight of the lunch was the laksa!  Very, very yummy!

Each family who registered early enough received a SG50 Fun Pack!  Yay! Old school flag erasers, the Singapore scarf, Singa!  The tables were named after street names in Singapore, and we were seated at Mandai Road.

The children's outfits were from Elly, a Singaporean establishment.  I was trying to decide between the red and white set (for obvious reasons) and this year's CNY set. In the end, I went with this year's set, because the fabric is called 'Home', and features Singaporean icons such as HDB blocks, buses, the Dragon and Pelican playground structures.  I wore my paternal Grandmother's kebaya top.  (Note to self - get a sarong to go with it.)

It was really nice to be surrounded by Singaporeans and singing national songs.  It was a good National Day celebration away from home.

Happy SG50, Singapore.  We miss you.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bath Dough DIY

Some time back, a friend of mine introduced me to a really cool product, Lush Fun.  It is like play dough, but soap/bubble bath.

It reminded me of a simple two ingredient play dough I had seen around the interwebs.  The original two ingredients were corn flour (aka corn starch in the U.S.) and conditioner.  Since I wanted to use it as soap, I replaced the conditioner with liquid soap! Genius, right? Mix the corn flour with your favourite shower gel, and you get play dough which doubles up as soap!

Because I like to complicate matters, I used more than two ingredients.

Instead of shower gel, I used Dr Woods Unscented Baby Mild Castile Soap which I bought off iHerb.com (use LOG568 for a $10 discount).  I intentionally got this particular soap because it is unscented, as I wanted to add my own scents.  I also added some food colouring.

To make my bath dough, I used
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup liquid soap
food colouring (optional - I only added two drops)
13 drops essential oil (optional - I originally added 8 drops, but the scent was barely noticeable, I then added 5 more drops, but that ended up too strong for me. The kids didn't mind, though.)

After the kiddos chose the scent and colours they wanted for their bath dough, I dumped everything into their bowls and let them mix it up. You could just mix them up with your hands, but neither of them are particularly fond of sticky stuff, so they preferred to use tools.

Once the wet and dry ingredients were more or less incorporated, I hand kneaded the mixture (because sticky).  I had to add a little more corn flour to Little Man's dough, and a little more soap to Little Lady's, to get the correct consistency.


The resulting dough was very soft, smooth and silky. Little Man and Little Lady had great fun making the play dough and playing with it after.

They each brought some when it was time to have a bath.  Because the soap I used did not have a lathering agent, it did not produce any bubbles.  However, if you're using normal shower gel (with SLS or SLSA in the ingredients), it should bubble up nicely.  Let me know if it does if you go that route.

I really love the bath dough because it is multi-purpose.  The children play with it as they do play dough, and instead of throwing it out when it gets old or mouldy or icky, we just take a bit to bathe/shower with every day! No waste!

Do try it out and let me know how it goes!

If you would rather make ordinary play dough, you can try this recipe.

*****
Little Man - 5 years 2 months
Little Lady - 3 years 1 month

Friday, 24 July 2015

Summer Celebration

The thing about summer is that there is so much to do!  And not enough time to do them all. 

Take two weekends ago for example.  There was the Summer Celebration - two days of festivities, including a parade, boat rides, a festival/carnival/fairgrounds, fireworks etc.

However, we also had a birthday party to attend, and a Day Out with Thomas.

 
We managed to see the parade on Saturday before going to the birthday party for lunch.  Unfortunately, we were all to tired out to make it to the park for festivities and fireworks when we got back.

On Sunday, we managed to stop by for a Norwegian Pancake breakfast.  Yummy crepes cooked on a barbeque topped with your choice of jam, honey and sugars (normal, cinnamon or powdered).  There was a fairground with lots of inflatables, rides, entertainment and even more food.

Unfortunately, we had to rush of to attend the Day Out With Thomas at Snoqualmie, so we could not stop to play just then.  We promised to make a day out of it and go back after we were done with Thomas, but by the time we got back, they were done for the day (and summer!). So the children could not play on any of the inflatables or rides.  They were really good about it, and enjoyed themselves on the playground, though.

Next year, I'll need to plan better and ensure that the fun stuff that we want to do don't clash.  :)





Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Someone I know is expecting her first child, and was asking for recommendations of what baby items she absolutely has to buy, and what she doesn't. 

Hi Ladies,
My friend, a new mum, was asking about what items she needs to buy, and what she doesn't. Some of my personal must-haves are a carrier, car seat (if one has a car), and nursing bras. What I had no use for were the breast-feeding pillow (Even though I nursed both for 2 years - strangely, it gave me more of a backache then without.) and changing table.
I was thinking of compiling a list of Must Haves and No Need to Haves (from Birth till 1) from experienced Mums. ...If you would like to contribute, please indicate your interest below and I'll give you the details. Of course, you'll be credited.

I agree that must-haves and don't-needs are very individual. I think it would be interesting to see what different Mums like and dislike, and why, and it would be a good opportunity to reassure new Mums that as long as their choices make sense to them, there is no wrong choice! smile emoticon

I'd also be interested to see if there are any commonalities. smile emoticon


Absolute Essentials:
Diapers 
Whether cloth or disposable, babies poop and pee A. LOT.  So you want to always have these on hand.

Clothes
You don't really need that many sets to start with, because you (or someone else) will be washing them every day.  Milk spit-up needs to be washed asap, or they will stink.  I think I used only three, at most five sets regularly.  Why?  because they were on the top of the pile.  I really didn't have the time to pick and choose.  Especially so when they start to flip and crawl.

Swaddles
For the first few months at least.  Most babies love to be swaddled.  It gives them a sense of security.  After all, they've been squished up in the womb for nine months.  They're not used to all that space and freedom.  I didn't invest in any of the fancy swaddles.  I used the trusty cloth nappy or baby blankets.

Wipes
To clean up after they poop and pee.  Which happens A. LOT.  I know it is not terribly environmentally friendly.  Some mummies I know will wash them instead, but this is most conveniently done at home.  So they'll still come in handy when you bring baby out.

Formula
This one depends on whether you plan to breastfeed or not.  If you have no plans to breastfeed, then obviously you need to buy formula.  If you plan to breastfeed on the other hand, you might want to wait before buying formula.  Breast milk may take a few days to come in.  Even though studies have shown that babies can survive for a few days without milk, and on very little milk at the beginning, it can be very scary in the interim.  The nagging from elders will not help either.  Some mummies would rather not have any formula in the house, so that they won't "give in" and give baby formula.  Some would rather have a standby tin at home, so baby has something to drink in the meantime. 

Bottles
Definitely if you plan to bottle feed the baby.  If you plan to breastfeed, you may choose to bottle feed baby (if so, you will need breast pumps and storage bags too).  This may be a good choice because Daddy (or Grandma, or ...) can feed baby too, so you have time to do something else, like go to the loo, or bathe.)  If you plan to nurse, then no need for all this paraphernalia.

My Personal Must Haves:
Car Seat (if baby is going to be ferried around regularly in a specific vehicle)
This for me is an absolute MUST.  One of the leading causes of unintentional deaths of children in the United States (I could not find any statistics on Singapore) is motor vehicle accidents.  As a rule, my children have to be buckled in their seats whenever they're in a car.  Even now.  Even when they were screaming their heads off as babies, with willing laps and arms to carry and soothe them.  One reason was their safety.  The other was I was often the only adult around.  If they got used to being carried while in the car, we would not go anywhere.

Carrier
I alternated between a soft structure carrier (Beco) and a pouch (Pupsik).  I know mummies who love their ring slings and wraps.  I loved closeness and bonding with the Littles while carrying them.  The carriers help to give the arms a rest.  For longer durations, I would use the Beco, as that distributed the weight much better.  The Pupsik pouch would give me a backache after a while, but was good enough for quick trips.  I also had it in my bag, though, as it was useful as a nursing cover and blanket if necessary.

I also love the convenience of carriers.  When Little Man was a baby, he would sometimes (often) fuss and refuse to nap.  I just would not be able to soothe him. So I would strap him on and then go for a bus or MRT ride.  It was great.  I could eat, shop, buy a drink and read at Starbucks.   The only thing I could not do was shop for clothes. 

"But you could do all that with a pram," I hear some of you say.  "You could even try on clothes!"  I lived in a three-storey walk-up at that time.  Meaning no lift (elevator).  So carrying a pram down, and then up three flights with a baby on my own?  Nope.  (I didn't always have the use of the car.)Doing that with a toddler and a baby?  Nothing doing.   Also, the carrier freed my arms for other things, like carrying groceries up said flight of stairs, or giving the toddler a piggy-back ride up the stairs when his tiny legs were too tired. 

Comfortable and Supportive Nursing Bras
With Little Man, I did a mixture of expressing and nursing.  Little Lady only nursed. Nursing bras were therefore very important to me.  I found the ones at Mothercare fit and supported me best.  The ones at Marks and Spencer were not bad either.

Nursing Tops and Dresses
For four years, I mainly shopped for clothes at Spring Maternity.  I did buy a couple of pieces online, but I preferred to be able to try my clothes on before buying, and there was an outlet somewhat close to home.  I know some mummies were able to make do with their ordinary clothes and a nursing cover or shawl.  Both my kiddos hated the nursing covers and would either rip or flip them off.  So to protect my modesty, I lived in nursing tops and dresses.

Diaper Changing Mat
I had several of these - many came free.  I had a pretty, unpadded one made, so that it would go in my bag and not take up too much space.  I am not a clean freak by any stretch of the imagination, but I would always use my own diaper changing mat on public changing tables as I am not sure how often those get cleaned, if at all.

What I had no need for:
Breastfeeding Pillow
Ironically, the breastfeeding pillow I used with Little Man gave me such a bad backache. The height wasn't right for us, and he kept slipping between me and the pillow.  What worked better for us was arranging ordinary pillows and/or cushions just so.

Changing Table
In addition to having no space for an extra piece of furniture, I much preferred using diaper changing mats.  Any flat surface would do.

Baby Monitor
One of my aunts kindly gave us a baby monitor at the First Month celebration (Thanks Si Gu and Aunty Grace!).  It went largely unused.  Firstly, my place was not that big.  Secondly, I somehow developed this super hearing, where I could hear the baby 'eh' in the next room, even over the hubby's snores or gameplay.  Eventually, the cot was moved to our room, and eventually, the baby(s) moved to our bed, so there really was no need for a monitor.

Chair Harness
You know, those fabric things that can convert any chair into baby chair and keep them there while you feed them and yourself while dining outside? No? This one:
Didn't manage to keep either of my wrigglies in place.  In fact, they protested so much they were disturbing the other diners more than without it.  Besides, because the harness was designed to only strap them in, and not lift them up, that meant that their mouths were perfectly aligned with the edge of the table, and I do not imagine gets cleaned very much.  How often do you see cleaners wipe there with their (already not very clean) cloth?


Justina Tey Lisa: ok here goes! I am assuming this is for babies til 1 yo?
Must-haves:
Baby carrier, nursing cover, foldable diaper mat (2 & 3 means you can feed & change dipes anywhere), car seat, silicon bibs (when weaning)


No needs: breastfeeding cushion (used it only for #1 for the first 2 weeks, changing table (it was just easier to change the kid on the bed with a mat underneath), pram (we only used that after they turned one and became too heavy to carry in the carrier, much easier to go around on public transport without the pram). Oh & diaper bags. I prefer a regular backpack. Way cheaper!


Seng Tzer Jing Here goes:

For non-breastfeed baby:

Must have - milk bottle and milk dispenser (those u scoop into certain amount so it's ready to use when u go out), sterilizer, car seat, toys/books, pram

For breastfeeding baby (latch and pump):
Must have - sling (act as carrier and nursing cover), dual electric breast pump, sterilizer, car seat, toys/books

Don't need to have:
Baby monitor, nursing pillow, diaper bag, changing mat (never used any though i have many free ones)


Rachel Lim I contribute too.. I was a breastfeeding mum.
Top muz hv: nursing cover, baby carrier (for me, it's juz easier to strap &.go), breast pad (useful for 1st 3mths), wipes (lotsa of it), breast pump
No need: nursing pillow, diaper bag, baby bath tub (mt a & Thomson both gv),


Jacqeline Ho Contrary to you all I prefer Diaper bags. Because they have many compartments so I can organize the bag properly. You know when you have an emergency (like a poop accident), knowing exactly where your diaper and wet tissues are is a saver. Or maybe I'm OCD, LOL.

My list of must have: Diaper Bag, Thermal Flask (for keeping hot water to make milk or heat up bottled breastmilk, or make cereal when they start solid), swaddle cloth which doubles up as blanket when they grow older, sterilizer, dual electric breastpump if mom is working and wants to breastfeed beyond her maternity leave.

Not necessary: new born diapers (the one from hospital is enough if you use cloth diaper in the morning) just skip directly to small size, changing table, powder (use only when they are older as the powder can get into their respiratory system), cooling gel teethers not sure if that is what its called (I find sophie giraffe works best. Those with cooling gel just didn't work for my two)


Liang May My Must Haves
1. Pram
2. Playmat

3. Cot mattress protector
4. Changing table
4. Breast pads

My Don't Needs
1. Nursing Bras
2. Nursing Covers
3. More than 1 milk bottle
4. Breast Pump
5. Diaper Bag

I am not a carrier type of mom and prefers the pram so that I have less load on me. I breastfeed exclusively so no milk bottles are required. Pumping to me is wasting precious time for rest so I latch the babies directly. No need for nursing bras and nursing covers because I dress myself either in nursing tops or nursing friendly combinations. I do not wear a bra most times. Just stick breast pads under singlets like those stick-ons u use when u need to wear a backless dress. Breast pads in our case so that it'll absorb any ugly leaks. Never had to carry diaper bags. All a baby needs when we head out is 1 diaper, 1 romper, 1 changing mat and 1 pocket size wetwipe which can fit easily in a regular handbag.


Ashlyn Thia It's interesting to see how different the must have and don't need every mum has. I'm not experienced mum, only 1 girl but here's mine.

Must have:

1. Back facing infant car seat for safety
2. Pram
3. Electric double Breastpump - after starting work
3. Breastpad
5. Ear Thermometer

Don't need:
1. Bumbo seat - only used 1-2 mths
2. Cot bumper
3. Nipple cream (not effective for me)
4. Bottle warmer
5. Glider/arm chair for nursing (I got one bouncy kind but ended up gave away as it became quite a hazard for my girl to climb)


Janice Wong Here's my thoughts
Must have:
Carrier (u goto b mad if u don't hv one)

Nursing cover
A portable pump n my freemie cups for pumping on the go when I'm not with baby
Breastpads
Diaper bag (mine isn't a big complicated one. It's just one sling bag with minimal stuff. However now with two, it is getting a tad bulky)
High chair (for feeding n strapping the lil dude when u need to go to the loo)
Change of diapers
Wet wipes

Don't need:
Nursing pillow
Walker
Baby monitor (i can hear my baby scream so y need that?)
Cot bumper. Absolutely useless! Pretty but useless.
A super exp n chio cot. Some babies simply won't sleep in it (like my no.1) n others keeps rolling n bump against the wooden planks (like my no.2)

I did a post on frivolous needs. U might wana take a look: http://themishmashmess.blogspot.sg/.../my-frivolous-baby...


Dominique Goh For me
Must haves are
1. Comfy nursing bra

2. Nursing shawl
3. Breastpad
4. Wipes/ diapers
5. Messenger bag to put all the stuff
6. Ear/ head thermometer
7. Baby carrier
8. Wet wipes/diapers
9 car seat with 8 pt harness( My kids all have spiderman tendencies) / infant car seat when they were younger
10 extra set of clothes for the baby and top for me.

Not needed
1. Baby seats/ prams
2. Nursing clothes.. super frumpy looking
3. Nursing pillows/ chairs
4. diaper bags
5. Breast pumps and bottles
6. changing mat


Mabel Lee for first year, besides all the necessary wet wipes, diapers, more than 20 sets of clothes etc.... these are my must-haves:

1. baby carrier/sling (i need my hands to be free!)

2. duo electronic breast pumps
3. burp/milk cloths (placed between baby's neck and chin when drinking milk, burping)
4. philips avent steam blender
5. bath tub with a rubber plug at the base (pull it when baby's done bathing and it'll be drained after you have dressed baby, provided you bathe baby in the bathroom.)

not needed:
1. diaper bag (i use normal backpack)
2. moses basket and pillows
3. baby shoes (socks will be sufficient)
4. baby monitor/night light/crib light (with or without sounds)
5. cold/hot maternity compress for engorgement (normal towel will be sufficient)


Michelle Hon I have written such a post too. Feel free to pick from my list! http://www.thechillmom.com/.../newborn-essentials-list...

Madeline Heng Me wanna contribute too! smile emoticon must haves: car seat, nursing bra/pads, carrier, stroller, nipple cream for the first few weeks, nursing cover, pump, baby swaddle. No need: baby hat (they keep pulling it off), baby booties (can NV keep it on for more than 10 sec!), baby nail clipper (can use normal one if u got skill), 0-3 months clothes (my kids outgrew them in 2 weeks), stretch marks cream (quite useless cos can buy the all in 1 four cow farm calendula remedy).

Cen-Lin Ting I agree the must haves and don't need really differs. For my number I prepared everything only to realized so many white elephants. Basically just need to get those that need to use immediately when bb is born. The rest can slowly buy.

Must have:

1) car seat to bring bb home.
2) comfortable nursing bras those very auntie one for beginning and can change along the way.
3) baby bathtub and a gentle bath soap
4) cot bed (so its of correct height to change bb's diaper etc, I didn't had one cos mil kept saying it's useless and my back really hurts for one month due to changing the baby's frequent pee and poos)
5) BB sling or wraps so easier to carry bb when bringing him for jaundice checks.
6) super long sanitary pads in cotton for after delivery use. I don't use the maternity pads.
7) disposable cotton panties to last one month! tongue emoticon so no need to wash at all. Hahaha. I did it for both my pregnancies!
8) nursing covers becos I nurse anywhere and everywhere.

Don't need:
Pacifiers
Breast pads
Nipple cream
Powder
Toys



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