Beautiful Mama Blog Award

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I am very happy and honoured to have received this award from Valerie at Atlantamomofthree. This award had been specially created by her for fellow mama bloggers. I would think of it as a great way to discover more parenting blogs as well!

Stepping into motherhood has truly been a life-changing event and despite the sleepless nights and crazy weekends, I am really enjoying every minute of this journey.

I have been very fortunate to meet a group of like-minded mama bloggers in the past year and have learnt a great deal from these fellow mothers. Through our blogs, we encourage and inspire one another, and share stories of joy and helplessness (on some days).

This is a list of mummy blogs I really enjoy reading:

Atlantamomofthree

Mamawearpapashirt

Mum In the Making

Scissors Paper Stone Blog

Growing with the Tans

Mommy’s Boy Musings

Wee Stories

3 Things I enjoy about Motherhood:

1) To have someone shower me with hugs and kisses for no reason (simply because she loves me).

2) To be able to be a kid all over again.

3) To learn to find joy in the simplest things.

How to accept the award

Ladies, to accept the award, please do the following things:

  • Click the above award image, save it and use it in your acceptance post.
  • List 3 things you love about motherhood.
  • Nominate other deserving mamas; you may choose as many as you like. (And let them know of the nomination)

{Family Fun} – What to do in March?

Ys and I always have an issue with where to go, and what to do, during weekends. It’s not like we have explored every corner of Singapore but sometimes you just have some kind of mental block and nothing comes to mind.

This is when we will start trawling the blogosphere for ideas and usually we will stumble upon something interesting. This has inspired me to start a Family Fun list for each month. This list will be published a few days before the beginning of each month and will contain suggested activities. These may be activities that we ourselves have tried out or activities that we are planning to do ourselves. It could be a public event, a musical, a meal at a restaurant or a new mall to check out. I will try to feature generic activities that both adults and kids can take part in, and which are not too age group specific.

I hope you’ll find something that will interest you!

1) Go kite flying at marina barrage, take in some fresh air and enjoy the gorgeous view – A fun and free activity for the entire family!

2) Have a picnic at the Lawn at Singapore Botanic Gardens – can I just say it can be really relaxing and therapeutic and the kids have lots of space to run around. Here’s some good news for fans of Food for Thought! If you are feeling lazy and willing to splurge, you can now lease picnic baskets from Food for Thought. The food comes in a picnic basket, complete with a mat, trash bag and disposable cutlery. It’s a tad expensive I have to admit, but can be a lifesaver if you’ve got no time to prepare for the picnic.

3) Join a monumental walking tour organised by the Preservation of Monuments Board – A great opportunity to find out more about the history of Singapore’s iconic monuments. Will probably make for a great photography tour as well. We are quite keen to join one of these tours ourselves.

4) Create a terrarium at The Plant Story at Hort Park – I have not been but my colleague has one on her office desk and it is really cute! You get to choose the design of your glass jar, the plants, the little pebbles and accessories like ladybirds, butterflies etc.

5) Visit 100AM mall (the revamped Amara Shopping Mall) and have a meal at Ramen Keisuke Tori King – Not only is the ramen great, the restaurant is really child-friendly (in that the servers are really attentive towards kids). They do have high chairs even though strollers are not allowed in the restaurant due to space constraints. The 60s decor and old school toys displayed on the communal table are also bound to keep the kids excited for a while. After ramen, try the green tea dessert at Tsujiri (also in 100AM), which IMHO, serves the best green tea parfait in Singapore.

If you have an interesting March activity to share, please do leave a comment!

Language of Love #1: Words of Affirmation

This series of posts is dedicated to all husbands (in particular, those who do not like to read), including mine. 😛

I was gifted a copy of “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman when I got married. It’s probably one of the best wedding presents I could have received and I thought it would be great to share snippets of the book, and at the same time, remind myself of the takeaways from the book, as I write. It has greatly changed the way I view my relationship and has been helpful in helping me understand things from ys’ perspective.

I agree there is no manual for a successful marriage and such self-help books are always viewed with a certain level of skepticism. However, I do think that there is value in understanding your spouse’s love language because everyone uses a distinct language to express love.

The idea is this – it is rare that a husband and wife would have the same primary love language and this is the reason why, even though we may think we are expressing love (because you may be speaking your language of love), the message does not get through to your spouse (because that may not be your spouse’s primary language of love). When this happens, you may feel like you are not being appreciated, because your spouse does not seem to be contented or happy, even though in your view, you have already been putting a great deal of effort into the marriage.

“The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different languages of love.” – Gary Chapman

The five languages of love are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Today, I will share a little about Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation

This language of love is to give verbal compliments or words of appreciation, for example, “You look great in that dress!” or “I am really grateful that you send me to work every morning” or “I really appreciate you preparing baby’s milk and washing the milk bottles everyday.”

Using such verbal compliments are more effective and are greater motivators than nagging words, for example “Can you stop playing with your phone and go make milk for the baby?” I must admit that I am guilty of this almost all the time. 😦 It is human nature to be more motivated to reciprocate when you receive affirmations. It sounds to me like a win-win situation. You compliment your spouse, your spouse feels appreciated and more motivated to help you out (because in every person, there exists a desire to please), and you get the help you need. Everyone is happy.

Another way of showing this language of love is to give words of encouragement “to inspire courage”. Your spouse should be your greatest cheerleader and inspiration! Don’t put your spouse down. Even if you feel that an idea that is brought up is really silly, don’t slam it. Offer your opinions, walk through the idea together and if possible, help to refine the idea.

Kind words should be used to communicate love. The manner in which you speak and the tone you take is important. You should never be careless with your words, no matter how angry you are. I took a long time to learn this. I am a very emotional person, and often, during arguments with my then boyfriend and now husband, I will speak carelessly and say things which I do not mean. The tone I take is usually filled with anger and bitterness.

“A soft answer turns away anger.” – Gary Chapman

Ys on the other hand, is much better at this. I recall an incident from maybe 6 years ago, which still never fails to make both of us laugh.

I was angry about something, but being the typical girl I am, I refused to talk about it, even though I was asked if “everything was ok”. We were having lunch and I was sulking while eating my pasta and feeling angry that he had actually believed that everything was ok (hello?? Dating Tip 101 is that when a woman says everything is ok, things are usually NOT ok.) I was poking my fork into my pasta angrily, when one fusilli landed on the table. He could have reacted negatively but he didn’t. Instead, he asked “are you angry with the fusilli?” I could not help but burst out laughing. The tension had eased and the anger had dissipated.

I have come a long way since then and I make a great deal of effort to exercise discipline with regard to the way I react. These days, when I am angry or when I sense the tension, I resist the urge to “talk things through” because there is a higher possibility of us lashing out at each other with harsh words. Instead, I wait till both of us are in a better mood before broaching the topic. In any case, it is always easier to talk when both parties are calmer and more rational. When we discuss issues, I avoid harsh or accusatory words. When kind words are chosen, instead of reciprocating with additional heat or anger, you will want to hear what the other person has to say and there is a desire to reconcile.

Humble words should be used to communicate love. One should be making requests and not demands. There is a very fine line but it makes a whole lot of difference!

All these may seem so logical that on reading it for the first time, you may think “why do I need a book to tell me all these. Isn’t it all common sense?” Yes, it could be common sense, but the question is how many of us actually put the above into practice?

How about dropping your spouse a compliment or saying something positive to your spouse/partner today? Write a note, send a text message, drop an email or tell this to your kids in front of your spouse. It’s a first step!

Next up…Language of Love #2: Quality Time.

Linking up with A Juggling Mom’s Motivational Mondays.

Nugget of joy #12

I was fiddling with my phone after dinner at my in laws’ place. Aly emerged from the kitchen with a slice of pear which she was clutching on to tightly. She loves fruits (as much as she loves bread) and she had been eagerly waiting for my mother in law to cut her some fruits.

I thought she would plonk herself on the floor, make herself comfortable and enjoy her fruit.

Instead, she toddled towards me, her hands outstretched to help her maintain her balance. There was a huge grin on her face. She stopped right in front of me, held the pear to my mouth and offered to let me take a bite of the pear.

It was a really simple act, but this act from my 15 month old toddler made my day (in fact, my week)! It was her way of showing her love for me. It showed that she understood what it meant to share and to give. It meant so so much to me.

I was reminded once again, of how blessed we are to have Aly in our lives and how blessed I am to be able to experience the joy of mothering – something I would not trade for anything else in this world.

{Foodie Fridays} – Rabbit Carrot Gun

Yes, that’s the name of a cafe. With a name like Rabbit Carrot Gun, it’s hard not to be curious about what it has to offer. Have I also mentioned that its only a five minute drive from my place? I was still lamenting that there is a lack of English brunch places in the east a couple of weeks back. So imagine how pleased I was to find out about newly opened Rabbit Carrot Gun, which occupies a shophouse space along east coast road.

We were there for brunch so I only looked at the weekend brunch menu.

Being the boring predictable person I am, I ended up with the Eggs Pacifico (poached eggs with smoked salmon served with homemade hollandaise sauce) and YS ended up with the Game keepers Shooting Breakfast (which is really a mix of everything – choice of eggs, sausages, toast, mushrooms and bacon). Not quite a kid-friendly menu with names like these. Haha.

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The food was decent. In fact, I think they did a good job with the poached eggs and the hollandaise sauce. Ys also liked his scrambled eggs (hey, scrambled eggs have the potential to go really wrong ok). But somehow, I wasn’t too excited about the food. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t taste bad but nothing stood out and nothing called out to me. Coffee was a disappointment though.

YS and I agreed that we will give their lunch or dinner menu another shot though! They seem to have a rather extensive menu that features rather interesting items. So we will definitely go back!

Food aside, I liked the vibe of the cafe. It has a quirky laidback English style. There are retro looking furnishings throughout the shop, including the old school motorcycle ride, which now stands outside the cafe. I also liked that the owner retained certain features of the old shophouse, including the flooring. The result is a charming and rustic interior.

I truly enjoyed my Saturday morning at Rabbit Carrot Gun. It was peaceful and quiet and it does help that i love the katong neighborhood. And at least they have high chairs for kids and tables are placed far apart enough for a family to fit a stroller. In any case, there is outdoor seating as well (with ceiling fans above, yay).

Oh, and above the restaurant are 7 gorgeous (from the pictures I see online) boutique suites! So it’s really a bed and breakfast. I would stay there if I were a tourist!

Sharing a few pictures I took that morning.

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Just a little tip, (parallel) parking can be found along Ceylon Road or Marshall Road. If there are no lots, park at Katong Shopping Centre and take a five minute walk.

Rabbit Carrot Gun
49 East Coast Road
Singapore 428768

Aly at 15 months

The other day, ys and I were reading Aly’s 7 month update (at random) and it was then when we realised we had forgotten so many details like how she would also “sing-along” with us during nap time and how she once screamed instead of laugh properly. We combed through the videos on our phone, hoping to find one which would help us remember how she was like and why we said these things but we couldn’t find anything. It’s amazing how the human mind works and how we push details out of our minds to make room for fresh details.

A colleague always reminded me, right from the time Aly was born, to take as many videos as I can, and that he wish he had taken more of his daughter. I think I finally understand what he means.

I know I sound like a broken record, but our little girl is growing up too fast.

Here’s her 15 month update:

Feeds: we give her home-cooked meals 99% of the time and there have only been a couple of occasions where we allowed her to have our food as a meal. I’m going to relax this rule a little since she’s bigger now so I think I will be feeding her more of what we eat! She still loves her food though (I’m so glad) and she will choose food over toys anytime!

Speech: (new words in italics) she can say papa, mama, nainai (paternal grandmother), yeye (paternal grandfather), ah ma, teh (I dunno why she replaces ah gong with teh. It’s hilarious!), yi (for ah yi), duck, nana (banana), boo (peak a boo), bor (ball), poo (swimming pool, pull, poo poo, how versatile), per (apple), mum mum (food), tar (star), tee (tree), egg, ah (up), more, bad (bread), wok (walk), ho (hold-when she wants us to hold her hand to walk), bug (bag), hu hu (叔叔-uncle in mandarin), bo (伯伯), mu (伯母), milk, no more, ha-ha (hug hug), bear, ish (fish), mao (猫), book, bow (rainbow), back, bao bao (抱抱 – carry in mandarin), na na (night night), moo (moon), bit (rabbit), ti (hello kitty), lai (light).

Sleep: She still sleeps in her own room but wakes up a couple of times a night. I will go over to pat her when she does and she will fall back to sleep without any problems. She has slept through the night two or three times and I’m hoping that will be the norm rather than the exception soon!

Motor skills: Aly took her first steps last week and is more confident of walking now, although she’s now at the stage where she walks like a mummy. Ys keeps joking about wanting to wrap her up in toilet paper. She generally wants to practise walking rather than be carried. When she’s not confident, she will hold your hand, tug at it and say “walk” (in a commanding manner). She has learnt the concept of “kicking” and will attempt to kick a ball if it is placed in front of her.

Other developments: Aly is very expressive and even though she has not built up her vocabulary base, she is able to express herself through hand gestures and expressions. For example, if she wants to eat something, she will point at the food, then at her mouth. Blinking lights are represented by her opening and closing her fist. She shakes her body and nods her head when she means “yes”.

She is more sociable and interactive now and loves being around people. She loves company and she is happy when she has everyone sitting around her (she will command everyone to sit down by pointing at the person then tapping her finger on the spot next to her), and when everyone is finally seated, she shows her happiness by kicking her legs in excitement.

She is happiest when she has food and when she is on one of those kiddy rides. My dad really indulges her and she gets to ride on kiddy rides at least five times a week! She is always the youngest on those rides but she loves them!

For some reason, she loves pouting her lips and she kisses everyone with that same pout. Without being asked to, she kisses Ys and I good night before bedtime and waves good night. Our hearts turn into goo each time she does that. She is also into hugging everything and will keep asking for more items to hug. More cushions, more pillows, more stuffed toys. Hilarious.

I’m quite amazed by this one – she understands the concept of “I” and “我” (which means “I” in mandarin) and understands that the reflection she sees in the mirror or the girl she sees in pictures / videos is herself. Oh, and she has this funny habit of pointing one finger up when she knows we are taking a picture of her (its like her version of peace),

Here’s a video of her walking like a mummy and doing her version of the peace sign when she caught me filming her.

Chasing away monday blues at Homebodies

I finally checked out homebodies during lunch today.

And I am glad I did.

It’s difficult to find a nice quiet place in raffles place. At least now I know there is somewhere I can go to when I need some peace and quiet (may not stay this way for long), and my caffeine fix.

Hidden away on the second level of a shophouse, the signage probably will not even call out to a passerby. But once you make your way up the stairs, the cosy coffee joint greets you through a huge piece of glass.

They have a simple no-frills menu. Coffee is either white or black, with varying sizes for each. I got myself the 8oz white (S$5). It was a little too milky for my liking but anyhow, I liked it and was a happy soul after the cuppa.

Food-wise, it only serves hot dogs. You get a choice of original (S$8.50), wagyu (S$10) or kurobuta (S$10) . $1 top up for the brioche or sunflower seed panini (instead of the original hot dog bun). I’m a huge fan of hot dogs so this menu worked for me.

Decor is minimalistic and stylish with lots of wood accents. The result is a cosy and inviting space which feels almost like home. Seems to me a perfect place to read a book, have a cuppa and enjoy the gorgeous view of the Singapore river.

Pictures probably can tell a better story.

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homebodies
60A Boat Quay, 2nd floor
Singapore 049848

{Saturday Morning Snapshot} – Weekend Brunch and A Motorcycle

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Ys brought us to Rabbit Carrot Gun for brunch yesterday morning. It’s a charming little cafe along east coast road that I’ve been meaning to check it out for some time! Will get down to doing a review of this cafe in a separate post!

I have loved weekend brunches since before Aly came along and I am glad that we are still make effort to keep such weekend brunches going. Aly is also a huge fan because she gets to eat a bit of scrambled egg and toast (she’s a bread monster).

On top of the food, she was also really excited about this old school motorcycle ride that was placed outside the cafe. It probably has seen better days, bringing lots of joy to young children, whose parents could afford to spare some change for the ride. The motorcycle now stands as a display.

Aly has always loved motorcycles and was naturally ecstatic when we placed her on the bike! She was really pleased and we couldn’t help but snap a picture.

Lovely Saturday morning.

Wee Stories

Aly’s first steps

Today’s the day! Aly took her first steps! And I was around again!

It all started with her being comfortable enough to stand without support and trying to get us to clap each time she manages to do it. Then once, she was standing about a metre away from the coffee table when she decided to take a few steps forward, towards the coffee table, without any help!!

Ever since then, we have been trying to get her to repeat her “stunt”. We are obviously more excited than her!

{Product Review} – Episencial Body Care Products

I was looking around for a suitable range of body care products for Aly because we had almost used up our then current bottle of 2 in 1 shampoo and body wash and I wanted to try something new.

Let us just say that I was sold when I got to know about the Episencial range of body care products and was thrilled when Babyonline offered to send me the Episencial Playful Foaming Wash and the Episencial Better Body Butter for me to try out.

I have a confession to make.

I was initially attracted to the Episencial range of products because of the cute packaging and the catchy names. I mean who can resist that bright coloured packaging and the artwork? Ok I’m superficial like that! If you find the artwork familiar, it’s because it is created by Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a popular children’s picture book.

Check out the cute artwork

Check out the cute artwork

Just to prove it’s not all just about looks for me, here are the reasons why I like the Episencial range of products.

First of all, this USA-made line of products uses only natural ingredients, which are mostly organic. I like that I can use the products with peace of mind, knowing that I am not putting anything harsh or chemical ridden on a baby’s delicate skin. I don’t exclusively use organic products and am generally fine with using non-organic products. However, I would say that I am rather particular about body care products because these come into direct contact with the baby’s skin and can be absorbed into the baby’s bloodstream.

I’m also impressed by the fact that the products are made using solar power and are packaged in recycled and sustainable materials. The bottles are also BpA and phthalate free. I am usually not such a “green” person but it’s reassuring to know that it’s something the people behind this brand believe in, which is consistent with their policy to manufacture chemical-free and natural products.

Best of all, these organic products are reasonably priced. Who says affordability and organic cannot go together? The Playful Foaming Wash retails at S$23.90 and the Better Body Butter retails at S$33.90.

EPISENCIAL PLAYFUL FOAMING WASH

The Playful Foaming Wash is a 2-in-1 hair and body cleanser which is “timeless, for all ages, 0 to 150 years” (this is printed on the bottle. I like their humour). I like that it foams up easily and I love its mild tangy citrus scent (from natural juice extracts) which leaves a nice and fresh after-bath scent. Aly loves it too! She’s been in love with oranges since she gets to eat quite a bit of them during Chinese New Year and last weekend, when i prompted her to put her hand (with soap) to her nose and asked if it smells like orange, she broke into a grin and nodded her head (and body) vigorously in the typical Aly’s “yes” fashion.

All smiles during bathtime

All smiles during bathtime

Aly is at the stage where she wants to bathe herself, so she will be busy helping to rub soap all over herself when I am bathing her. This means it’s inevitable that some soap will get into her eyes. The foaming wash is pH-balanced and is completely tear-free and quick rinsing which are considerations that rank high on my “things-to-look-out-for” list.

EPISENCIAL BETTER BODY BUTTER

I am really particular about body lotions because I really dislike those that are difficult to apply and which leave a greasy feel after application. I have the same high standards for baby moisturizer because I have to be the one applying it for Aly! This is why i love the Better Body Butter. It has a light texture (i.e. non-greasy), can be applied easily and smoothly and is absorbed easily into the skin.

It contains organic olive oil, shea butter and sunflower oil to restore natural skin lipids, and to prevent cradle cap and scaly skin. It also contains organic jojoba and avocado oils to help replenish essential fatty acid levels for proper hydration. As one of the natural ingredients is organic lavender oil, the better body butter has a light lavender scent, which has a soothing and calming effect on me (Yes, I have also been using the product!)

Aly is blessed with good skin but there will be dry patches on her thighs and ankles from time to time. It may be due to the fact that she sleeps in an air-conditioned room or because we often miss those areas but I have been using the body butter on her for about three weeks now and her skin has never been as smooth as now. No more dry patches! Oh, and can I just add that Aly also loves applying body butter to herself?

Aly loves the body butter too!

Aly loves the body butter too!

The only thing that I didn’t quite like about the products were that they didn’t have a pump. This means it can get a bit cumbersome because I have to free up both hands to open the bottle cap (which, to be fair, flips up easily) overturn the bottle, squeeze the bottle and put the bottle down before I can apply the cleanser or body butter on Aly. A pump would have been much more convenient and would leave me with a free hand (to hold on to a fidgety baby).

Overall, I am happy with the products and am looking to purchase their Nurturing Balm next! The Episencial range also includes the following products: Protective Face Balm SPF35, Sunny Sunscreen SPF35, Soothing Cream and Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath.

Now for the GOOD NEWS! There is an ongoing promotion at Babyonline for all Episencial products – a massive 30% discount off the original prices. This means that the Playful Foaming Wash costs only S$16.73 and the Better Body Butter costs only S$23.73 now! This promotion will end on 28 February 2013.

Do check out Babyonline’s website or drop by their retail outlet at Katong I12 (112 East Coast Road #B1-13) if you are interested in purchasing the products. While you are at it, do also like Babyonline’s facebook page so that you can be kept updated of their promotions!

Disclosure: I received a bottle of the Playful Foaming Wash and a bottle of the Better Body Butter for the purposes of this review. All opinions stated herein are my own.