Monday, June 4, 2012

We Have Moved!

Hi there! Thanks for visiting Mommy Cafe! In case you're wondering about the lack of activity on this blog recently, it's because we've moved!

Yes, for the past two weeks, I've been busy migrating and learning how to use the new blogging platform. So happy to announce that I've finally got the hang of it *pat on my own back*

Hop over the new blog now; the look and feel is pretty much the same, so you'll feel just right at home *smiles* 

Please click here and it go to the new Mommy Cafe blog! See you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Results of the Mother's Day Giveaway

Sorry for being late in posting the results of this giveaway! As there are only three participants, so I've decided that the winners will be the first two entries. So congratulations to:

Mich & Adeline Oon!

Please email me at with your full name and home address so we can get the book mailed to you! Hope you will share some insights you've gleaned from this book with me! :)

Thanks Melissa Chor of Image Harmony for sponsoring this giveaway!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Lesson in Perseverance

The words came out of his mouth most unsuspectingly.

We were playing with a pair of toy chopsticks and I asked him to try to use it to pick up some felt balls. Without even attempting a try, he merely paused for a brief moment before declaring with a cute face, "I don't know!"

"I don't know"? Since when did he learn those words and from whom? Ok, redundant question. If it's not from the parents, then it's most likely from school.

While I think it's good to admit that you don't know how to do something, it's not a good idea when you decide that you'll not want to at least give it a try.

That was exactly what my boy did. After saying those words, he sat back, looked at me and said, "Mommy do!"

While it may be no big deal in the eyes of another parent (after all he’s just a two year-old right?) but it was enough to sound off an alarm in my head.

Think I overreacted? Well, you need to understand what kind of mom I am.

Big on values

of course, I'm no supermom, in fact, far from it. I know my weaknesses – I find it a constant challenge to come up with interesting educational crafts and activities to do with my boy. I even use it as an excuse sometimes not to think of something and just let him do free play (after all we sent him to school right? He should have quite a bit of structured play and learning in class).

I once thought I’ll be quite the kiasu mom who diligently trains her son into a future Einstein, but I quickly realised that it doesn’t resonate with me.

I discovered that I’m big on VALUES, as well as EQ. I believe that if I inculcate the right values and principles in my son, help him develop good communication and interpersonal skills, he will go far in life.  Look at how many of the successful people aren’t usually the smartest students in class and you’ll know what I mean.

Plus I’m never for the corporate rat race, I think it sucks. I mean, your income will never truly reflect your capability and hard work, and the best worker doesn’t always get the next promotion he deserves.

So if you ask me what’s my dream for my son, it will not be that he will grow up and get the President Scholarship and then walk down a career path that someone has laid out for him, no doubt it’s gonna be quite a cushy path and daddy and mommy will not have to worry about his college tuition fees and can use the money to travel round the world!

I’m not saying that he can then neglect his studies, I think it’s still good to acquire knowledge and learn to be as smart as he can. If not, he’s gonna get eaten up by the sharks!

But I wish he will be an enterprising individual who has the freedom to pursue his passion and live a fulfilled, meaningful life. Oh, I wish too, that he will earn lots of money. Not so that he will live a life of luxury (he can indulge a bit). I hope he will have greater means to change the world and make it a better place, and people who have the money can do so much more than those who don’t.  Heart plus money – it can be real powerful!

Success is usually just another try away

Anyway, I digressed!

Back to the “I don’t know” - I felt that it was an important learning moment, regardless of whether he really understood where I was coming from. I wanted him to learn perseverance and the importance of not giving up easily, and I believe values need to be inculcated from young.

So I told him if he doesn’t know how to do it, he can say so and asks me to teach him.

I took his small hand in mine and showed him how to use the chopstick. When he finally managed to pick up a ball on his own, I cheered and applauded will all my might and heart.

I ended the play session saying, “See Kenan, you can do it! Don’t say you don’t know, at least try.”

A few days later, he was playing with his wooden blocks and was building something. I was at the dining table working.

Suddenly, he shouted, “I can do this, yeah!” I couldn’t believe my ears. I stopped whatever I was doing, rushed over to his side and hugged him tightly. The joy I felt was immense. I’m not sure if it was because of what I taught him days before, but still I am overjoyed.

 Son, that’s the right attitude. Well done and keep it up! Persevere and don’t give up easily, because success is usually just another try away.

Do you feel like giving up on something? Or you have a dream, tried pursuing it but failed. Well, don’t let go of your dream too quickly and easily. Not everyone succeed on the first try. Give it another go, your dream is worth every second chance. If you don’t give yourself that chance, who will?

So go and be that strong woman and mommy. When you persevere with your goals and dreams, your child will also learn to pursue theirs with the same tenacity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Reflections

Mother’s Day has just passed, how has the day been for you?

I had initially planned on writing a Mother’s Day post, but just couldn’t get the words out. To be honest, it felt just like any other day, except that the husband’s little surprises this year made it all so special for me, even when I didn’t feel that way.

First, there was the cake…

Then a card which made me cry...

Even the son did his part with a card he made in school (I asked him who is it for, he said it’s for himself! *LAUGHS*)

But touched as I was, I couldn't help feeling guilty. Guilty that I have been working too much lately and haven’t spend enough time with my boy; guilty that besides play, I haven't been doing much learning related activities with him; guilty that I have been spending more time online than being present with my son.

But as the "mommy guilt" grew, I realised I better stop berating myself as it does nothing to make the situation any better.

As I reflected on what I'm feeling, I am making a commitment this Mother's Day to change and to be a better mom.

I will set aside time for my son every day, remembering that he’s the very reason I’m a WAHM.

I will be more organised and stay focused when I work (no distractions from FB, Twitter etc.) so I don’t waste precious time and end up complaining there isn't enough time.

I will remind myself not to be a 'kiasu' mom and that it doesn’t matter if some of my boy’s peers can count up to 20, if he’s not ready to do so, so be it. He’s just a two year-old, let him enjoy his childhood, some things can wait.

On the same note, I will take time to discover and nurture my son’s unique gifts and talents, remembering that what other parents do don't necessarily benefit my son nor will he lose out if we don't follow suit.

Lastly, I will stop comparing myself with other moms. My boy doesn’t need a mom who’s feeling inadequate and lousy about herself, he needs a mom who feels happy being a mom and believes in her own strengths. I will stop berating myself and instead look at how I can improve and be a better mom and individual.

I want to add that being a mom is a special blessing every day, and not just on Mother’s Day. It include those days when everything seems to be going wrong and the house is in an incredible mess, the kids are throwing incessant tantrums and you lost it and yelled at them. It definitely doesn’t feel like it's such a blessing on those days, but isn't the very fact that our kids are with us something precious and worth giving thanks for as a mom?

Do you sometimes feel the "mommy guilt" or sense of inadequacy as a mom? How do you deal with these feelings?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Work & Entrepreneurship Series: To Nurture the Young

Hi! After a long break, we are back with another entrepreneurship story.
Sabrina Quek is mom to two beautiful children ages five and two. A preschool teacher before starting her family and passionate about teaching young children, she founded  NurtureWorks in 2009 to provide enrichment programs for children as young as four months old to primary school. The company specialises in music and movement, brain development and dance programs.

Interview with Sabrina:

1. Is NurtureWorks your first business venture? If not, what other businesses have you had or are still running?
I had a diaper bags and baby clothes online business about two years before NurtureWorks, I have since closed this online business to concentrate my efforts and time fully on my current business.

2. What challenges did you face when starting your business and how did you overcome them? 
I had difficulty getting assignments for myself and my teachers, as most centres wanted more established names to run programs in their centres. I overcame this setback by marketing my programs to my ex-polytechnic course mates who were running childcare centres. With that, my program got around through word-of-mouth, I also started a home-based and private baby and toddler playgroup program to start generating a customer base. It was a good way to fine-tune my programs.

Being a mum with two young children, time is also a challenge. The year I was pregnant, and also after my confinement with my second child was especially tough because I did not had any employees yet.  To overcome this issue, I asked some friends who had teaching background to relief me once in awhile when there was no one that could take care of my baby girl. About six months after I gave birth, I finally found my first employee. Now I have three teachers working for me.

3. What are three things you did that contributed the most to growing your business?
Marketing through the right channels. Instead of marketing to the mass market by distributing flyers, I concentrated my efforts to people I know to help me.

By starting with very low capital. I started this business without taking on a property/venue to run the program. This way I am not tied down to monthly rental and overheads.

Starting with home-based and private playgroup programs to build my customer base, who in turn helped me with the informal marketing of my business,

4. How do you deal with competition from other similar businesses?
I realise many people go for overseas brands which are more established etc. So I find a niche, which are my home-based programs and private playgroup programs.

5. What do you enjoy most about the business, and what do you like least?
I enjoy teaching babies and children, and meeting parents. I also enjoy mentoring my younger teachers. Doing administrative requirements is my least favourite!

6. What are three important lessons you learnt from running your business?
First, stick to realistic targets and set realistic challenges. Second, stay focused and disciplined; learn to set priorities for work and home. Lastly, persevere. The first two years are tough for most businesses, even for my business, though we are into the third year, we are still small but growing slowly.

7. What business achievements are you most proud of?
When other business investors like my business idea and want to help me grow the business. Now I am also in the midst of turning the business into a social enterprise. I am going to have my programs be available to low-income families.

8. How do you strike a balance between work and family commitments?
For me, its always family first. I spend most of my daily time with the children, as I am also homeschooling them. I only do my work at night or during free time, such as when my parents help take care of the children during weekends.

9. What sacrifices have you had to make to start your own business?
I had to sacrifice many Sundays, while the kids are their grandparents, foregoing my own time for shopping, watching movies etc. and instead to spend time on program-planning and marketing efforts.

10. What three pieces of advice do you have for those aspiring to start their own business, especially moms? 
Do your market research, and find out what will work best for you business.
Make it like a family-business. For example, my husband chilps in to help with my business too, he is my unofficial photographer, technical support and business advisor! For free! Finally, persevere, do not give up. It takes a couple of years for most business to pick up.

I hope you've enjoyed this interview and that it has inspired you in some ways. If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and would like to share your story with us, please email me:

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Shop Smarter: Three Fashion Shopping Tips for Busy Moms (Plus a Giveaway!)

This week, we are celebrating Mother’s Day here on Mommy Café. I’ve invited a friend from the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), Melissa Chor, to share some fashion shopping tips for moms. 

In my many years as an expert shopper and style consultant, I have come to one conclusion: ALL women (no matter what they say) LOVE to shop. It’s in our DNA. Women are also emotional beings and shopping meets our emotional needs to a certain extent. Hence, we shop when we are happy or when we are sad. When making shopping decisions, we are often ruled by our hearts more than our heads. This explains why some of us make shopping mistakes over and over again.

Whatever your shopping challenges are, apply these three principles and you will soon find that you can shop more effectively and still have fun!

1. Spring-clean your wardrobe
You need to get rid of the old before putting in the new. Do this once every two years or annually if you shop very often. Discard or donate stuff that you have not worn for more than a year. Get rid of clothes that are worn out and faded or remind you of unhappy memories! You want a wardrobe that you can cherish and feel happy about every time you see it.

Once you have done that, reorganise your clothes by occasion such as work, leisure and home. Then organise your individual wardrobe by colour, type (dresses together, pants together etc…) and design (printed ones together, long sleeve tops together etc...).

This will give you a clear idea of what you now have at a glance. You may find that you have too many clothes in the same boring hues, so add instant style into your wardrobe with a dash of colours. Or you have too many tops and not enough bottoms to match, so you need to get more bottoms on your next shopping trip. With regular spring-cleaning and proper organisation, you will be able to identify what you really need to make your wardrobe work for you.
2. Stick to the basics

Whether you are revamping your wardrobe or developing a brand new one, always start with the basics first. Now, what do I mean by that?

Basics refer to the foundation of your wardrobe. You need to have a basic set of wardrobe which never goes out of style and is easy to coordinate with just about everything in your wardrobe currently or new purchases. Items such as a classic white shirt, a slim skirt, tank tops, a well-tailored jacket and a pair of straight cut pants will help you to maximise your entire wardrobe. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you should invest in several plain coloured tops, a pair of bootleg cut jeans, an A-line skirt and a few pairs of casual pants/shorts.

You can start with a five, seven, nine etc… basic pieces. Keep the colours neutrals (e.g. black, blue, gray, white and beige) and the style simple and plain. Then you can add on new pieces in different styles, colours and prints to jazz up your wardrobe. It is much easier to build on a basic set of clothing than a variety of styles. (Refer to images below)         

3. Plan for a shopping day

As a busy mom juggling multiple roles and tasks daily, I can imagine what little energy you will have left for shopping! While family, work and commitments are your priorities, you need to always set aside some “Me” time. I am sure you can find some hours to set aside for a little shopping if you so desire.

Don’t shop in between rushing from one appointment or task to another. You may end up not trying out the outfit or grabbing the same old stuff. Then when you reach home, you realise that the outfit is not that great after all or it is the same boring style as what you already have by the dozens in your wardrobe!

Some of my clients dislike shopping because they found it unproductive i.e. they return empty-handed or didn’t like what they bought. Upon my probing, they eventually confessed that they either did not try on the clothes or went for their comfort style due to lack of time to shop properly. So, do plan a time and date for your shopping where you will not be distracted by a thousand and one tasks.

Melissa Chor is a certified image professional (CIP) with the AICI, one of only a handful of CIP members in Singapore.

Passionate about helping clients to look fabulous and confident, Melissa has transformed many individuals’ personal styles to reflect their capabilities, potentials and personalities. Melissa founded Image Harmony, in 2007 and offers a wide spectrum of image services such as colour analysis, style personality assessment, make-up tutorial, wardrobe revamp and personal shopping in local and overseas countries.  

She currently serves as Secretary and Chair of Philanthropy on the AICI Singapore Chapter Board of Directors, 2011-2013. 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Melissa for the wonderful tips! She has many more principles on how to shop effectively. To find out more, get a copy of her book ‘Born to Shop – Guide to Making Your Shopping Fun and Fabulous!’. It’s available for purchase on her website.

Giveway Contest
As Mother’s Day is approaching, Melissa has generously offered to give away TWO copies of her book, and personally autographed too!

This is how to take part:
3. Leave a comment on this post or on Mommy Café’s Facebook page, sharing with us the main style/fashion challenges you face. Melissa will address some of your style issues in the next blog post (so keep a look out for it!).
4. The contest will end on 12 May 2012, 11:59pm.
5. The two winners will be randomly picked, results will be announced on this blog and on Mommy Cafe's Facebook page.
6. Please note that this giveaway is open to readers residing in Singapore... and internationally!

All the best everyone!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We Are Celebrating Mother's Day!

Hi! In the coming week, Mommy Cafe is celebrating Mother's Day! All posts will be for moms and about moms.

Just to give you a  peek of what's coming up, there will be a post on tips for fashion shopping for busy moms, interview with a mompreneur, as well as a giveaway!

So do join us next week, see you!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

AquaBambinos Giveaway Results

Pic copyrighted by AquaBambinos

Thank you everyone for taking part in the AquaBambinos giveaway contest. Sorry for being late in announcing the winners, because my boy had been sick since the weekend. Thankfully he's finally recovered.

Now for for the results of the AquaBambinos giveaway contest. The winners are drawn randomly by, after I assigned a number against each of the participants (both on the blog and on Mommy Cafe's Facebook page).

The TWO winners are: 

Ooy Yoan and Joanne Teng

Congratulations mommies and kids! 

Could winners please contact me at with your details: mommy's full name, kid's full name, mobile number and email address.

AquaBambinos will contact you to arrange for the free trial lesson. Looking forward to hearing about your child's swim experience at the School!

PS: There will be a redraw if any of the winners do not contact me with the required information by Friday, 4 May, 11:59pm.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pies & Coffee: Gourmet Pies and Air-Infused Coffee

If you enjoy pies, you will like Pies & Coffee. Besides, there are other good reasons why you should check out this place.

Located at Rochester Mall, which is about five minutes walk from the Buona Vista MRT station, Pies & Coffee, offers a wide selection of savoury and sweet gourmet pies, making it a first-of-its-kind cafe in Singapore to specialise in pies. It scores another first by brewing their coffees with an air-infusion coffee machine.

I was recently invited to a food tasting session and went away craving for some of their yummy pies.

Pies & Coffee opened in Feburary this year; pic © Pies & Coffee 

The Vibe: Done up in black and white colour scheme, the cafe exudes cool, contemporary chicness. The indoor area sits 20 while the outdoor can accomodate up to 60. 

I recommend heading out to the seats next to the water feature; it makes for an ideal spot for chillaxing. Not only is the area well shaded and surrounded by greenery, there's a constant breeze which is so welcoming a hot, humid day. We were told it's often this breezy. Looking at the building structure, it looks like the cafe is located at some sort of a wind tunnel and possibly explains the constant wind blowing through.   

Soothing sounds of the water feature and constant breeze create a relaxing atmosphere at this outdoor sitting area; Pic © Pies & Coffee 

Grab a magazine from one these baskets and sit back to enjoy your food and drinks

The food: Pies & Coffee offers 14 delectable pies - eight savoury and six sweet. The savoury pies come in three sizes - K-pies (which is kid-size pies), 4.5 inches and 9 inches. Prices start from S$8.95 for 4.5 inches to $64.95 for the 9 inches pies. 

Wagyu Beef Cheek Pie, pic © Pies & Coffee

For the food tasting, we tried the Wagyu Beef Cheek, Lamb Shank, Chicken Cheddar and Laksa Seafood Shepherd Pie. 

First, about the pie crust. It is golden and crumbly and has a nice buttery flavour. However, it was slightly on the bland side in my opinion, but not something I would fuss over.

All the pies are packed with a generous amount of fillings. They are served with salad and mashed potato, which taste real and not like the soft, mushy kind you get at some fast-food joints; you can still bite into small bits of potatoes in this one.

Out of the four savoury pies we tried, I thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Cheddar and absolutely love the Laksa Seafood. The former was creamy, flavourful and has an almost melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Laksa Seafood Shepherd Pie, pic © Pies & Coffee

The Laksa Seafood Shepherd Pie, which is served in a bowl and covered with a mashed potato crust, is probably the first in Singapore and as a laksa lover, I'm head over heels with this one.

Every bite gives you a mouthful of seafood chunks - I could taste scallop, prawn and squid - all cooked to perfection and the gravy is so fragrant and not too spicy. I love it so much that I couldn't leave without getting one for the hubby, which he enjoyed too.

As for the sweet pies, the Macademia Nut Cheese and Chocolate Almond make for good desserts.

By the way, I got to mention the Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad. Though not stated on its menu, the salad comes with pieces of watermelon and adds an extra sweetness and nice crunchy bite to the whole combination that is (much to my surprise) so refreshingly good! It definitely makes it to the must-try list.

Do look out for monthly special pies and festive pies which will be rolled out throughout the year.

When it comes to the drinks, Pies & Coffee (as its name suggest) offers the coffee lover a wide selection: espresso, cappucino, macchiato, latter, flavoured latte and long black. Not to be missed are the siphoned coffees created by the air-infusion coffee machine. Coffee aficionados can look forward to full bodied, aromatic cups of Blue Mountain (Jamaica), Columbia Supremo and Kenya AA (Africa). I tried the Blue Mountain and it was smooth, light and doesn't have any strong bitter aftertaste.

Don't like coffee? There's Gryphon teas to gratify the tea lovers, as well as frappes, milkshakes and smoothies. I tried the Avocado Vanilla Cream Milkshake and Crunchy Peanut Butter Milkshake. While I normally love avocado milkshake, in this instance, I actually enjoyed the peanut butter one better. It was so yummylicious!

© Pies & Coffee

Family factor: There are some highchairs for the little ones. I'm told because of the Julia Gabriel school at Rochester Mall, there's usually quite a number of mums who hang out at the cafe. I would agree that it's definitely one of those places where mums can meet up and catch up with one another and the relaxing, laidback vibe certainly encourage that. It's great too, that the cafe serves kid-size pies.

Top right pic: the other outdoor sitting area; right bottom: highchairs for the little ones

Pies & Coffee practices self-service; customers will order, pay and pick up their food and drinks from the counter. That's fine with me. Beats being at some restaurants where they forgot about your orders until you start asking them after a long wait.

With good food and a quiet, relaxing ambience, I'll certainly be back - especially for that Laksa Seafood Pie.

Pies & Coffee
35 Rochester Drive, 
#01-02 Rochester Mall
Singapore 138639
Tel: 6570 0080 

Opening hours:
9am to 11pm daily

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The One Item that Every Household Should Have

Do you know that there’s one item that can be used for cleaning almost any part of the house, works wonder for dirty laundry, helps remove moisture and odor from enclosed areas, double up as whitening agent for your teeth, relieves nappy rash irritations and do a whole lot more?

Well, I didn’t know either, until I was researching online about how to remove a stain on my hubby’s shirt. Since then (over a year now), I’ve been using it to do various sorts of cleaning around the house.

Have you guessed what it is?

It's the humble baking soda (don't confuse it with baking powder)! Yup, the one you use in your baking.

I use these two brands of baking soda (from NTUC)

I’ve found the baking soda to be such a useful item that I highly recommend that you stock some at home, if you don’t already have it. What's more, it's non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

What I use baking soda for

First, the laundry. By mixing it with the detergent, the clothes turn out cleaner than just using detergent alone (it’s supposed to help remove odor from clothes too but since we don’t have this problem, I can’t really comment on that). In fact, I would reduce the detergent by about a third and replace with baking soda – the less harmful chemicals we use, the better it is for our health and environment, don’t you agree?

I find baking soda especially helpful with items that tend to be on the greasy side, like pillow case and even face towel, which I will soak with baking soda and detergent before washing. The baking soda also makes towels fluffier after wash.

I also use this ‘household wonder’ as an odor remover cum moisture absorbent. I would put baking soda in an open container in the shoe cabinet and it works in removing the smell. You’ll need to stir the powder once in a while. I read from a website that it should be discarded after two months, but I do so every month (I thought that since Singapore is more humid, it should be changed more frequently - after all, the writers of the articles I've researched are written mainly by people living in the US where it's less humid).

I've also recently started using baking soda to wash our fruits and vegetables (instead of those fruits/veggie cleaners) after watching a Chinese infotainment programme. Apparently, it works by neutralising the pesticide (acidic) as baking soda is alkaline.

And oh, I experimented with using baking soda as a shampoo too! I'll probably share more in a future post.

Below are some of the common uses of baking soda. There are lots more of course, so I’ve added some useful links at the end of the post.

General cleaning 
  • Add baking soda on a moist sponge and clean bathroom sink, tub, tiles etc. It works well especially on water stains and doesn’t scratch the surface.
  • Baking soda can be used as an extinguisher to put out fires in clothing, fuel, upholstery and rugs and even stove fires – just throw some on the fire. The carbon dioxide generated by the burning powder will starve the fire of oxygen.
  • Baking soda helps absorb moisture and control humidity. So place some soda in an open container and use in places such as cupboards, cabinets and under sinks. Remember to stir occasionally and replace after one, two months or when you find it no longer effective.

  • Mix soda in water to clean fruits and vegetables. Let them soak a while before rinsing off.
  • Remove odor from your fridge and freezer by putting soda in an open container. Stir from time to time and replace after one, two months or when you find it no longer effective.
  • Add soda to hot water to thoroughly clean baby bottles of any milk residual and smell.
  • Similarly, remove any stale smells from food containers by washing with soda and hot water. If the smell is pretty strong, you can soak the container overnight.
  • Burnt something on your pan? Let the pan soak in soda and water for about 10 minutes. Or you could scrub with baking soda on a moist scouring pad.
  • In case of a badly burnt pan with thick layer of blackened food, make a paste by adding just enough water to the soda (use a thick layer here) and leave overnight and wash the next day.
  • Clear clogged drains by dunking a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a few jugs of boiling water.

  • Soak and wash diapers with baking soda to remove smell and stains.
  • Stains on clothes? Make a paste with baking soda and water and rub on the area. I’ll let it soak a bit and then give it a scrub before washing. 

Health, Beauty & Hygiene 
  • Remove odor from shoes by sprinkling the insides liberally with soda. Leave overnight and shake out the next day.
  • Add half teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water as a mouthwash helps remove bad breath.
  • Remove build-up from oil and hairstyling products on your combs and brushes in a solution of water and soda.
  • To relieve diaper rash irritations, add two tablespoons of baking soda into baby’s bath water.
  • Baking soda can clean and whiten your teeth. Sprinkle some onto your toothpaste before brushing. You can also use that to brush and clean dentures.

  • Keep a handy container of baking soda in your car. It can be used to put out fire and won’t damage anything.
  • To relief bug bites, make a thick paste with baking soda and water and apply directly on affected area. 

Lastly, you can maximise the usage of the baking soda by re-using it. For example, after you’ve used soda to remove odor from the shoe cabinet, dunk it down the sink and add hot water to prevent drain blockage.

Is there any household products (especially non-toxic, eco-friendly ones)  that you swear by? Please do share so we can be better homemakers!

Useful links - More Uses of Baking Soda

If you're also looking at ways to go green at home, you may like to check out this Green Living workshop. Read the reviews and tips gleaned by fellow mom bloggers:

'Non-toxic homes, healthier families' by June of mamawearpapashirt
'Green Living: How to create a non toxic home' by Delphine of life in the wee hours 
'I am seeing green' by Rawafish of why not

Be inspired!

Monday, April 23, 2012

AquaBambinos Swim School - A Review and Free Trial Lessons

Among the many sports, swimming is one that we hope Kenan will be skilled in.

However, when it comes to being in the water, the best I can do is to keep myself afloat.

My hubby, on the other hand, is considered a good swimmer. So I've always thought he will be the one to teach our boy swimming - and I remembered how he used to talk about doing the father-son bonding thing through swimming together.

Many, many months later, let's just say that the spirit is willing but the flesh.

So after coming to terms with the fact the hubby is losing this battle against inertia, I did what most smart moms would do - outsource to the experts.

I think God agreed that it's a good idea too. Shortly after, I found a flyer in my letterbox from AquaBambinos about its open house. A quick visit to its website showed that they have classes for toddlers and after a phone call to the school, Kenan was on his way to his first ever swim lesson.

About AquaBambinos

AquaBambinos, located within the Burghley Lifestyle Hub, is an indoor swimming school. It's pool water is "heated to a comfortable temperature of 30 degrees celsius".

The swimming pool built on a deck

(copyrighted by AquaBambinos) Lots of toys to engage young swimmers

(copyrighted by AquaBambinos) There's even a slide by the pool

Classes are available for babies and children from ages 6 months to 7 year-old. Class ratio is kept to a maximum of 1:6 parent-child pairs per group for parent-accompanied classes and 1:5 for non-accompanied classes.

Facilities include bathrooms with hot water showers, lockers, changing tables, toilets and a waiting area where there are some colour pencils and papers available. There's also a playground within the Lifestyle Hub's compound but I didn't see it during our visit, shall go look for it the next time.

As the school has just opened in January this year, all its facilities are still new and well maintained.

Bathroom with hot water facility (left); lockers for parents (right)

Our experience

There were three other kids during the trial lesson. At first, Kenan simply refused to go into the pool. We almost gave up trying, until he caught sight of the balls in the water and decided that it would be fun to play with them and other toys.

I found the teacher very good - she could engage each child and showed lots of patience as well as enthusiasm. When I taught Kenan an action wrongly, she also patiently showed me how to to do it until I got it right.

Of course, I like the fact that it's an indoor swim school, so regardless of the unpredictable weather, the lessons will go on uninterrupted. No worries about make up classes or going there and then later having the class cancelled due to sudden rain.

What's most surprising was that I actually enjoyed the class!

To be honest, I'm so happy to bring my boy to a swim class that’s indoors, because this vain mommy is afraid of having more freckles on her face from direct sunlight exposure.

That aside, it's been fun learning together with my boy, especially seeing how quickly he learnt certain actions - it made me feel so proud of him! It's been equally rewarding to see how he's transformed from the boy who refused to go into the pool, to one who almost didn't want to get out of it.

I'm now looking at the class schedule and see if we can find a slot that best fit our timing.

Kenan doing a little doodling at the waiting area

Win free trial class.. for not one but TWO winners!

Here's how:
1. Like AquaBambinos' Facebook page
2. Like Mommy Cafe's Facebook page
3. Your child should be between 6 months to 7 year-old.
3. Leave a comment on Mommy Cafe Facebook page, OR here on this blog post*, telling us your child's age, and something about his/her swim experience (negative or positive) and why you hope to win this trial lesson.
4. The contest will end on 29 April 2012, Sunday at 11:59pm.
5. The winners will be randomly picked, results will be announced on Mommy Cafe's Facebook page and on this blog.

Join the contest now - TWO lucky winners will get a free trial lesson each with AquaBambinos! Do spread the word too!

*I'm adding this option after someone told me she rather comment here than on FB :) 

Friday, April 20, 2012


I can’t even pinpoint when it happened.  But ever since the boy started going school, he’s been rapidly building up his vocabulary and linguistic skills, and before I knew it, we were already having simple conversations! Almost every day, he would also spring us a surprise with a new word or two.

Here are some of our recent conversations:

After a bad tantrum episode, I felt really mad and told him, “Kenan, mommy doesn’t want to stay home; I shall go out to work!”

With tears rolling in his eyes, he replied, “No, mommy stay home! Daddy go work!”

* * * * * * * * * *

One day, I was driving the boy to school and he suddenly said, “Mummy, be careful!”

I swear I wasn’t speeding, nor did I jammed on the brake to cause him to issue that cautionary note. But from that day on, l always remember those words and the cute little voice that said it whenever I’m on the road.

* * * * * * * * * *

I took out a packet of Milo from the fridge and was about to drink it when the little boy discovered what I was doing. He wanted a share of it too.

“Kenan, mommy’s hungry, so you just drink a little and leave the rest for me, ok?” I said.

I handed it to him, he took a sip and passed it back to me.

“Kenan drink a little only, mommy drink a lot!” I was absolutely touched that he could resist the temptation to drink more, which he would normally do as he enjoys Milo.

* * * * * * * * * *

The boy had been playing with a balloon for few days. So when I discovered it’s gone, I asked him what happened to the balloon.

Thinking for a moment, the boy reported, “Balloon boom already!”
A second later, he reiterated, “Burst!” and clapped his hands to mimic the sound.

* * * * * * * * * *

I’m always the one to tuck the boy to sleep. He refused to let anyone else do it. Ever since he started talking, whenever I tried to get the hubby to help, Kenan would always protest saying, “No, daddy go away!” or he would wave frantically and say, “Daddy bye-bye!” and pushes the dad out of the room.

After that, the hubby would always tell me how hurt he feels. Poor thing. He didn’t expect to have such a “mommy’s boy”! After all, he was the one who’s been so keen to have a child!

* * * * * * * * * *

Last Sunday, the boy was going out with his dad to the usual weekend dinner with the extended family. I had to stay home to look after my mom, who had just discharged from the hospital.

“Kenan, mommy won’t be going out with you and daddy tonight. Mommy has to stay home to take care of por-por,” I explained to the boy.

 “I want to stay home with mommy, I love mommy,” then he came over and hugged me tightly.

* * * * * * * * * *

I'm really beginning to enjoy these simple conversations with my little boy. But will there be a day when I'll complain that he talks too much or asks too many questions (especially those that I have no immediate answers to)?

I hope that if that day comes, I'll learn to be patient with him, so that he will continue to be curious about the world around him and develop a genuine love for learning. 

And if you do hear me complaining, please remind me to exercise greater patience!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Port of Lost Wonder: Where Pirate Ship and Foam Party Come Together

Have you heard the news yet? Singapore's first kids' club by the beach, Port of Lost Wonder (POLW) has opened!

Thanks to the very nice people of Sentosa, I got invited to a preview of this latest attraction on the Island last Saturday, which was also the day of their official launch.

As Kenan had class in the afternoon, we couldn't stay long, but it was enough for this mommy to recce the new kids’ wet 'n wild wonderland - and to share the details here.

Adventures at POLW

The POLW at Palawan Beach is just a few minutes' walk from the Beach Car Park

This is where you pay for admission and obtain your curio coins, which are for kids to pay for activities or a surprise snack

The coins come in a bag like this; kids will also receive a Port Pass to record their activities, collect stamps and redeem prizes!

Even before we entered POLW, the boy was already having fun! There was a bubble-making machine near the entrance spewing hundreds of bubbles to the delight of our boy.

Let the Fun Begin!

1. Ahoy matey!

The HUGE pirate ship docked right in the middle of the place is obviously the main draw of POLW.

Children were all having a splashing good time as they moved up and down the decks, jump into the waters and go down the numerous slides. However, parents do keep a close eye on your young children as they play with the various features, and in case the older kids get rowdy in their excitement.

The front and back of the Pirate Ship

2. Sand and foam
Enough of water play? Then head to the sand pit at the back to build some awesome sandcastles or have a frothy good time at a real cool kids-only foam party (pay 30 curios).

3. Pot a plant and meet some animal friends
Over at the Curiosity Island, children can work their little green fingers at a 'Pots & Planks' activity where they get to plant seedlings in a pot or boot and bring it home. The activity cost $20. From what I see on the board, it's not the POLW currency i.e. curios coins, they are referring to.

From what I read on the POLW website, there's also some activities involving little animals but I didn't see it when we were there and was a tad disappointed. Perhaps it wasn't time yet. Gotta check this one out another day as my boy is fond of animals.

There's also supposed to be board games, traditional games and storytelling, which I didn't see on that day. Made a mental note to look out for these too, at our next visit.

4. Picnic at the deck
POLW has thoughtfully incorporated a lounging area called The Deck so parents tired out from running after their energetic kids can take a break here. Families can also buy picnic baskets from Port Belly restaurant and enjoy a meal together in the open shaded area.

Other thoughtful designs include a diaper changing area, as well as locker facility.

Are you falling in love with this place yet? We'll likely be back soon, before the word goes out far and wide and it gets too crowded! 

Port of Lost Wonder
54 Palawan Beach Walk

Opening Hours:
10:00am to 6:30pm daily (last admission to POLW at 4:30pm)

Admission Charges: 
Weekdays -$8.00 (receive 50 curio coins and Port Pass)
Weekends & holidays - $15.00 (receive 100 curio coins and Port Pass)
Annual membership - $90.00 (600 curio coins, Port Pass and unlimited admission)

Charges is per child - accompanying adults enter for free. Love it!

Another reason why you should visit now? POLW is also having an opening specials - there's 15% off ticketing charges, and 20% off membership. For a limited period only.

For more information, check out POLW website or its Facebook page.


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