Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheap, Environmentally-Friendly Way to Remove Odour from the Fridge

Do you know that there's one item in all households that can be transformed into an instant fridge odour remover?

It's none other than the humble toilet roll!

I learnt about this from the Japanese programme 26 Hours/Day and found the perfect opportunity to put it to the test.

It happened that my husband recently bought some durian and we put them in the fridge as we love to eat durian cold. That left a stench in the fridge and I decided to try out the method introduced in the TV show.

But I forgot about it the next day as I don't really open the fridge these days since the helper is doing the cooking. On the second day, I remembered the 'toilet roll test' and went to check out the fridge and viola! There was not the slightest tinge of durian smell!

The programme host explained that the toilet roll is porous so it can absorb odour in the air.
But I wanted to find out more and went googling. While I didn't find anything more to explain the science behind the method, yet in one home reno forum, someone mentioned that you can put a toilet roll in a shoe cabinet and it can help remove the odour.

Well, I will probably give this a try another time and if I do, I'll post about the outcome.

By the way, another good thing about using the toilet roll as fridge odour remover is that if you spill something accidentally, you can quickly tear a few pieces of paper and wipe it clean.

Alternative: Baking Soda

Besides toilet roll, another common household item that can help eliminate bad smell from the fridge is baking soda. Just place some baking soda in an open container and leave inside the fridge and freezer to absorb food odours. Stir and turn over the baking soda from time to time, and replace once every two months.

So who says we need to buy special deodorants when there are cheap and environmentally-friendly alternatives that work equally well, if not better!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bye Bye Breastfeeding Days

I have officially stop breastfeeding Kenan. Fourteen months and two days - that's how long it has been.

While I had looked forward to this, now that it's become a reality, I do miss having Kenan at my breasts. Before you start having funny ideas, it's the closeness that I'm referring to. I guess it's a special bond between mom and child that only nursing moms can understand.

So why did I stop? Well, because Kenan began to bite my nipples real hard. Anyway, he had cut down from three feeds to two, then to one in the past two, three months. So it was about time - it was nothing intentional on my part, Kenan just didn't seem as interested to latch anymore.

Meanwhile, I started him on formula milk. Initially, I let him drank the same brand as what he was used to having in his cereal but he refused (he didn't reject the milk when it was mixed with cereal). Then I thought perhaps the container was the problem, so I alternated between milk bottle (he hardly ever uses one anyway because I latch him 99% of the time) and magmag cup to see which one he preferred and he took some milk from both. Then my husband suggested giving him fresh milk and I did, but Kenan didn't want it. At one point, I almost gave up, thinking that I probably had to continue breastfeeding him for much longer.

Then I wondered if it could be due to the formula milk. True enough, I switched to a different brand and bingo, he started drinking formula! At the same time, I also found out that Kenan prefers to drink from a cup using a straw (just an ordinary straw).

After that, everything was ready and it was all up to Kenan to let me know when he wants to stop breastfeeding.

So when he began latching only about once a day - not because he asked for it, but that I just latched him anyway - and then he started biting my nipples very hard, I knew it was time to stop.

But it was with  mixed feelings that I say goodbye to breastfeeding days. Strangely, despite the fact that I didn't have an easy time latching Kenan, it was emotionally harder to stop breastfeeding than I had imagined.

I still remember in the early days when I started breastfeeding Kenan, I was in a lot of pain because of engorgement and blocked ducts. I even got a private lactation consultant to my place to help clear the blocked ducts. She also taught me how to latch better but even after that, it took us - mother and son, alot of 'practice' to finally get the hang of things. That was about three months later. Meanwhile, I had to contend with constant sore nipples. Even after proper latching was established, my patience was still being tested. Initially, Kenan could feed up to 30 minutes on one breast!

Thankfully, I didn't have to pump since I work from home. So that was one problem less. And when we were out, I'm happy to be the instant milk machine - it saved us the hassle of making milk when outside and most shopping malls have nursing rooms, so it was not a problem at all. I also used a nursing cover, so I practically breastfed everywhere I went.

Honestly, the thought of giving up crossed my mind so often that I'm surprised that I even persevered. What really kept me going was the desire to give my son the best, and of course, the support from my husband. He's been a great source of encouragement and I'm thankful that he is supportive of breastfeeding. The same can't be said of my mom-in-law. I wished that she didn't think it was a bad idea. But I guess during her time, most people gave formula milk and it wasn't common for moms to breastfeed, and when she was taking care of her eldest grandson, he was also on formula. So to her, that was good as it was convenient for her. So if you intend to breastfeed, make sure you have at least someone who is super supportive of you doing it. Or else, when faced with all the initial challenges, you might just give up.

Now that I have stopped breastfeeding, I sometimes wonder if that will make Kenan and I any less close. I know it might be a silly thought but I do worry about it. I guess I will have to work on building the bond with him in other ways.

Anyway, one thing I'm happy about is to be able to put away the nursing bras and nursing tops! Think I have fallen into some kind of a fashion rut after wearing nursing tops for so long. I can now indulge in some retail therapy and get my wardrobe together again. Anyone wanna join me on a shopping trip?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Instantly Stop Your Kids from Fighting

If your children are arguing or fighting, do you know how to instantly stop them?

This week's 26 Hours/Day showed a really easy way to do it.

All you have to do is whip out your mobile phone and turn on the camera function, direct it at your children and snap a shot! (make sure that they know you are going to take a picture)

According to the show, they did a test on 10 families and it worked for six of them.

The programme host interviewed two children who were fighting over some toys why they stopped immediately when their dad took a photo.

The girl said she was shocked by her dad's action while the older brother told the host that he wanted to make sure he looks good in the photo! Haha.. kids do make some of the funniest comments!

While I think the method can work, I suppose you can't do it too often or it will lose its effectiveness.

If you do try this out, please let me know how it goes!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kenan Mimics the Animals

Kenan has been providing us with pretty good entertainment these days. Since he started learning how to speak, he also begins to mimic the sounds or actions of animals. For example, he scrunches his face as he tries to snort like a pig, he says "pok pok pok" like a chicken and also tries to 'gallop' like a horse.

Here's a video that shows him trying to snort like a pig. We got him to do that for his grandma yesterday and she was totally amused. Hope you enjoy it too!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Channels to Donate to Japan

If you are keen to make a monetary donation to help the Japanese quake victims, you could do so through some of the following organisations:

1. The Japanese Association, Singapore
Public can make cash and cheque donations, which will be collected at the front desk. Please make cheque payable to "SINGAPORE RED CROSS SOCIETY". On the back of the cheque, state "Japan Disaster 2011", your name, contact numbers and address.

2. Singapore Red Cross
The SRC is accepting donations from the public through the following means:

Cash Donation
For walk-in donations, the SRC is open during the hours:
Mondays to Fridays 9.30am-9pm,
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 9.30am – 6pm.
Address: 15 Penang Lane

Cheque Donation
Cheques to be made payable to the “Singapore Red Cross Society” At the back of the cheque, please indicate:
i) Name
ii) IC/Passport No.
iii) Address and Contact Number
iv) “Japan Disaster 2011”

SMS Donation
Donors may donate via their mobile phones to 75772. For every sms, S$50 will be donated to the “Japan Disaster” fund.

Link up with local banks
The SRC has also linked up with local banks OCBC, DBS and UOB to facilitate the donation process. For more information, go to here.

2. World Vision Singapore
World Vision is rushing relief supplies such as shelter, food and hygiene sets to Japan. As the organisation focuses on helping children, they will be providing psychosocial support to the affected young ones. Assistance will also be given in terms or rescue and rebuilding efforts.

Tojoin in World Vision's efforts, you could make an online donation. For updates on their relief efforts, go to here.

To play his part, here's Kenan saying "Gambette, Japan!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan Crisis - No More Nuclear Energy Please

The last few days, I've been keeping a close tab on news about the Fukushima nuclear power plant. I'm not so much worried that the radiation will affect Singapore, instead I'm deeply concerned about the potential meltdown and the hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected.

At the same time, I've been praying earnestly that God will intervene and prevent a disaster from happening. I'm praying especially for the protection of the workers at the nuclear plant. Whether they are doing it voluntarily or otherwise, I still think they deserve our admiration for carrying out their duties at the risk of their health and lives, in order to try and salvage a grim situation.

But a question has been plaguing my mind. Why would any government want to be use nuclear energy, when they know that there's so much risks involved? Hasn't the Cherynobyl disaster been a good enough lesson for the rest of the world? And why would Japan, an earthquake prone country, even want to build nuclear power plants in the first place?

Then when I was searching the net to read more about nuclear energy, I was surprised to find out that the Singapore government is considering the nuclear option. As a mom, I really hope that my children and their future generations will not live in an environment where their lives will be put at unnecessary risk. If Singapore does build a nuclear power plant, I will seriously consider migrating. It's good enough reason for me to pack up and go. So perhaps the Fukushima incident comes as a timely reminder of the dangers of nuclear energy and hopefully this will stop our government from considering this option. Afterall, Singapore is such a small country. If a nuclear disaster happens, we will likely all perish.

So I hope all governments that are considering to tap on nuclear energy will discard the idea. While nuclear power may solve the energy shortage problem, the potential risks to the population and environment are simply too great to ignore.

Some relevant reads:
1. End the Nuclear Age
2. Nuclear Waste
3. Fukushima Nuclear Accident – a simple and accurate explanation -Tries to explain in simple terms what happened at the Fukushima plants. The article garnered some very interesting comments from readers, worth going through them (and I don't usually read all comments).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Update on Kenan's Milestones

Looking at my recent posts, it just dawn on me that I've not updated about Kenan's development for quite a while. He is now almost 14 months old and it's amazing how much he's grown and how fast he learns. He loves reading, especially books with lots of real life pictures. It helps him to learn the names of animals and everyday things. I've tried recording a list of words he knows and it stands at 91 at the last count.

List of words Kenan knows:
aeroplane (he knows '飞机')
bear/teddy bear
belly button
bye bye
cat (can mimic the sound)
clap (he knows '拍手')
don't want
eat (can sign 'eat')
elephant (tries mimic the sound)
exit (recognises the 'EXIT' sign)
eyes (he knows '眼睛')
finish/ no more (can sign 'finish/no more')
fly kiss
hair (he knows '头发')
kiwi fruit
lion (and he even attempts a lion's roar!)
milk (can sign 'milk' and knows '')
more (can sign 'more')
mouth (he knows '嘴巴')
nose (he knows '鼻子')
pig (can mimic the sound)
rub hands
thank you
TV/television (he knows '电视机')
Yawn (he will open mouth wide when asked to yawn)
wave (as in to wave the hand)

Here's a videoclip of Kenan reading:

Does any mom out there also keep a list of words your child knows? Perhaps it seems a bit silly and I'm sure there are other little ones of the same age who know many more words than Kenan does, but as his mom, I'm really very proud of his progress. To me, he is one very smart little boy! By the way, the list is not exhaustive as it's almost impossible for me to record everything, but it's close enough.

In recent weeks, Kenan has also started to say a few more words. In the past, it has always been "mama" and "papa (or da-da)" and lots of baby babbling. Now he can say words like apple (sometimes end up saying "ap-ple-ple-ple-ple"), ball, bird, duck (which he articulates with perfection), banana (says it as "na-na") and jie jie.

When he is not reading, he likes to crawl around the house and explore his surroundings. He's not really into toys, which is good to some extend, as it saves us the money but I really have to think of ways to entertain him, and I'm not especially creative in this aspect. At present, he's into spinning bottles and whatever objects he can lay his hands on. It started off with me spinning bottles to entertain him, and after watching for two, three months, he suddenly started spinning a bottle one day. That was really amazing! Just the last few days, he has also learnt how to unscrew bottle caps!

In terms of physical development, he has yet to walk independently though, but I'm not worried about it - at least not yet. After all, his dad only started walking on his own at 15 months old, so it might be the same for Kenan. Some old folks believe that if a child starts walking later, it means he will have an easier life. Well, I certainly do hope so for my son - the part about having an easier life.

Meanwhile, I think he is turning out to be left-handed. We noticed he has a tendency to use the left hand when he was about 11 or 12 months old. Now, he is definitely using his left hand more than the right, especially when he feeds himself, spins the bottle or when he picks things up. I'm already wondering how am I going to teach him how to write, use the chopsticks and so on.

The intellectual and physical developments aside, he has also growing up into a very sweet boy. When we play together, he would sometimes stop whatever he is doing, crawls right next to me, pull himself up to a standing position and plants tiny kisses on my face. It never fails to melt my heart! He does that to his daddy too.

Sometimes, I still find it hard to believe that not so long ago, I was against the idea of having children, and I'm still quite reluctant to have another as one kid has already taken up so much of my time and energy.

Yet being a mom has certainly offered me new understanding of womanhood and created a whole new dimension that wasn't there before. It's been a very special journey filled with lots of beautiful, heartwarming moments as well as challenges and pain.

For being someone who was once adamant about not having a kid, I now got to eat my own words. I must admit that I'm really beginning to appreciate motherhood more each day and what it has opened up for me as a woman and an individual. I still miss my pre-motherhood days and the freedom I enjoy, but I'm thankful that I didn't miss out on this special journey. I guess I must also thank my husband for trying so hard to convince me to have a child, if he hasn't been so keen on having a kid, we probably won't have one, and I may end up regretting it later - but I'll never know for sure. Since I've embarked on parenthood, I will make the best out of it - for myself, my husband, and of course, for my sweetest little boy. I really hope that I will be the kind of mom he will be proud of when he grows up.

Kenan spins the bottle and also shows how he 'sleeps' - it's really cute!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Arla Kids Cheese Sticks

A short while back, I was sharing with a mommy friend that Kenan loves cheese and she said she was hesitant about giving cheese to her child as she was concerned it might be too salty. I mentioned to her about the kids' cheese that I give Kenan, which was recommended by a good friend.

I tried it when I first bought the cheese and found that it wasn't very salty and also tasted more 'milky' than normal 'adult' cheese. I promised to post some pictures of it in this blog, so finally here they are:

I bought this from NTUC for $5.45 a box

Each box contains six sticks of cheese

The box doesn't state the recommended age of consumption; I started giving Kenan these cheese sticks when he was about nine or 10 months and he really enjoys them. I give them as snacks and sometimes use it in my cooking as well.

So if you're considering giving your little ones cheese, this might be a brand to you want to check out.

How to Peel and Devein a Prawn (Tips from 26 Hours/Day)

Few weeks back, I caught the first episode of the Japanese programme 26 Hours/Day《超省时生活》on Channel U and got hooked.

There are many brilliant tips on how to do things faster, especially the segment on how to cook a meal in 20 minutes. Every week, a different celebrity will demonstrate how to cook up a feast using some short-cut methods. It's really amazing, do try to catch an episode and I bet you will be just as fascinated!

Here's one tip I wish to share: how to peel and devein a prawn.

I don't really like eating prawns, and I definitely don't enjoy peeling them. Sometimes, I'm so lazy that I don't even bother deveining them! But after watching the programme, I decided to try it out and the tip really worked! Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Find the second section of the prawn shell

Step 2: Break the shell into two sections and kind of loosen it at the same time. Then pull in in opposite directions and the whole shell will be able to come off easily. You don't even need to remove the head first.

Step 3: Remove the whole shell and you get a nicely peeled prawn. If you want to retain the tiny tail, be gentle when you remove the shell towards the end.

I found a videoclip online to give you an idea of what I mean.

In the second episode, another celebrity showed a different method of deshelling prawns, which is equally easy (I've yet to try this method). First remove the head, then using a pair of scissors cut along the arch of the shell and you can easily peel it off.

After you have deshelled, the next step is to devein it, and you can easily do so using a TOOTHPICK.

Step 1: Poke the toothpick through the prawn at about the position marked 'X'

Step 2: Pull the toothpick slowly upwards and as you do that, the vein will be pulled out as well.
Again, I've searched for a videoclip and here's one to demonstrate the method.

I hope you find the above useful!

26 Hours/Day
Channel U
Tuesdays, 8 to 9pm

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ma Maison Restaurant - A Place for the Family

Eating out has become a challenge ever since Kenan came along, so we are always on the hunt for family-friendly restaurants.  Last Saturday, we dined at Ma Maison (Bugis Junction) for the first time and were pleasantly surprised by how family-friendly it is.

We had to queue for about 15 minutes before a table was available. Inside the softly lit restaurant, its dark coloured furniture and quaint, eclectic mix of decoratives exuded a cozy and homely atmosphere (think 'country cottage' decor) that makes one feels immediately welcomed.

When we were shown to our table, a baby highchair was already prepared for us and the waitress promptly asked us if the location of the chair was alright or would we want to change to another spot.
Shortly after we settled down, another waitress came with a big straw basket. She explained that there’s a family promotion now - children below 10 years old get a free toy - and asked me to choose one for Kenan. That’s not all, dads will get a free glass of beer while moms get a free scoop of ice cream.

Kenan was immediately attracted to the toy (pic above) and I felt both glad and relieved – I had forgotten (again!) to bring his toys/books, so at least there’s something to entertain him while we decide on what to eat.

Ma Maison offers Japanese-style western food. Since I have no special craving or preference, I asked my hubby to order. He picked escargot baked in butter and garlic sauce for starter, paella (stated it’s for two persons) for main course and white chocolate strawberry tart for dessert.

The escargot was served flambe'd and tasted nice but nothing extraordinary.

The paella, which is seafood rice, was moist and fragrant and came with quite a generous amount of mussels, scallops, clams and prawns. However, I found that it tasted a bit ‘fishy’ but my husband enjoyed it. Big eaters beware though, the portion was actually quite small, despite the menu stating that it’s for two persons.

The strawberry tart came as a no surprise. It wasn’t too sweet, so that’s good.

When we asked for the bill, the waitress handed us a metal hotel key to ‘check out’ at the cashier. Trust the Japanese to come up with interesting ideas as this!

My verdict: While the food wasn’t spectacular, it’s value for money, the service was almost impeccable (e.g. the waitress went around diligently to refill water for diners and the staff were generally attentive and prompt) and the family promotion does offer another reason to return. The freebies aren’t something fanciful or expensive but it’s the thought behind it (the fact that they appreciate families dining at their establishment) that makes me consider returning. Maybe we’ll try the outlet at The Central next.

By the way, Monday nights are ladies’ nights, so ladies will get 20% discount off a la carte items.

It's really not easy to take a photo with Kenan these days!

Ma Maison
200 Victoria Street
Singapore 188021
Tel: 6338 4819

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Project Nursing Rooms - BHG Bugis Junction

Last Saturday, I was shopping in Bugis Junction and needed to change Kenan's diaper. I first went to the nearest baby room, which was the one on the first floor near the ladies' toilet. But the room was so small, stuffy and stinky that I couldn't stay for another minute. I recalled seeing the baby room in BHG and decided to head there.

There are four changing tables, two on each side, and they are quite well spaced out. There are also two nursing rooms (covered by curtain and not a door) inside, as well as a sofa and a few chairs. There's also a hot and cold water dispenser and sink.

Two of the four changing tables - behind it is the sink and hot water dispenser

The nursing rooms

The sofa and chairs near the entrance


Cleanliness: 4/5
Amenities: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5


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