Thursday, March 29, 2012

Having Fun Without Gadgets

I know that it is inevitable that my boy gets exposed to gadgets and be drawn to them as a source of entertainment. While I'm guilty of the occasional "gadget babysitting", I still believe that at my son's age, he should really be exploring the world around him instead of getting fixated on a screen that may potentially put him on the path to myopia.

So I'm learning to close an eye to mess he creates in the name of fun and play, as long as he keeps away from my hubby's and my iPhones (no, we don't own an iPad as we don't want him to get the idea that he's got another new 'toy' to play with, so it's still the laptop for us).

Newspapers being thrown all over the floor. I'm not sure how fun this is but he sure enjoyed it!

He got all fingers black and dirty, so we whisked away to the bathroom for a wash. It's the first time he held a bar of soap in his hands (before that it's always the handwash) so it was another round of play again!

How about you? Are you ok with letting your child play with gadgets? How often and for how long are they allowed on the gadget each time?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ultimate (almost) Guide to Feeding Medicine to Toddlers

I know being a parent is going to be challenging. I’ve experienced the breastfeeding difficulties, now dealing with the ‘terrible twos’ and thinking of potty training gives me the headache. But never, not even for once, had I thought that giving medicine would be included in the list of parenting challenges! After all, we didn’t have that problem when Kenan was a baby. So when it did happen, the hubby and I were at a total lost.

Few weeks ago, my boy was prescribed an antibiotic together with several other medications for cough, phlegm and running nose.

While it wasn’t easy peasy giving him the other medications, it was nothing compared to the antibiotic.

For the first two days, we managed to get him to take it, but not without some struggle.

However, from Day 3 onwards, no matter what we did - coax, persuade, scold, threaten, try mixing with milk then chocolate milk – he simply refused. If we did manage to force some in – which took the combined effort of three adults, it would almost always spew out immediately, together with whatever food that was being digested in his stomach. The whole experience left all of us frustrated, exhausted, and to some extent, traumatised.

A week later, we went back for a doctor’s review and I shared with her what happened. After a discussion, the pediatrician felt that a change of medicine to something with more 'palatable' taste and texture might just help.

And it did turn out to be a good decision. By employing two different methods to feed him the medicine and giving him some rewards for the 'suffering' he endured, we succeed in getting him to finish the full course (five days).

What we did to get Kenan to take his antibiotic

1. Mixed it with Meiji chocolate milk (please see No.2 at “More tips” section below). The Meiji brand’s chocolate milk (which is our family’s favourite) is good as it’s thick and very chocolatey, so it helps to mask the taste of the second antibiotic. It didn’t work for the first one though, as that antibiotic was really very strong in smell and taste and the texture was more ‘sandy’/’grainy’ (by the way, dear folks at Meiji, if the milk starts flying off the shelves, how about giving me a commission?)

2. Prepare a cup of honey water (you could try Ribena too). After squinting some antibiotic into his mouth via a syringe, we let him drink a mouthful of honey water and repeat the process until the medication is finished. I adapted this method from Friend LK’s method. She would use two syringes, one with medicine and another one with water, and one teaspoon of honey. Start with medicine (half dose), followed by water and then lastly honey. Repeat the same process for the remaining dose. Do it fast and squirt the syringe at the side of the child’s mouth. Prepare more water and honey if needed.

3. Rewards. Kenan is recently into stickers so I rewarded him with them after he took the medicine. The first day, I gave him a sticker and he was real happy. The next day, he asked for two and I gave him. The third day, he bargained for three! And as you would have guessed by now, he told me he wants four stickers on the fourth day! Oh my, the little boy was keeping track!

The little boy sticking his hard-earned 'reward' into his book

I also shared about the ‘ordeal’ on Facebook and many parent friends shared their experiences with me, together with some great tips to go along. Below is the compilation of the tips.

More tips on feeding medicine

1. When using the syringe, feed it at the corner of the mouth so that it goes directly down the throat and the child doesn’t taste the medicine so much, said Friend S. “I used to squint medicine in the middle and the bitterness just makes my kids react. This method has worked well for me,” she added.

2.  Mix the medication into some food or drinks e.g. yogurt, fruit juice, milk, Ribena. But some will work better than others, depending on the type of medicine and how strong the taste is. So a bit of experimentation is needed here.

3. Not all antibiotics can be mixed with milk, please check with your doctor. When mixing with milk, it might be a good idea to do so with another brand than the one your child normally drinks. As Friend ND noted, “The child may associate milk with medicine in future and lose interest in drinking the milk.” That was true in our case. After I added the antibiotic to his formula (just once) and he rejected it, he was so hesitant to drink his milk when I subsequently gave it to him. But thankfully after explaining to him that it was just plain milk, he took it.

4. Friend MY uses two syringes, one with medicine, the other with water. After giving a bit of medicine, quickly squint in some water from the second syringe to “wash down the medicine”.

5. If your toddler can’t finish the medicine in one sitting, then spread it out. “Give bit by bit, every few minutes, you don’t have to feed all at once”, Friend MY highlighted. This may be tiring for parents but it beats having your child vomits it all out.

6. Give the medicine before food (before you do this, just check with doctor that it’s ok to do so for the particular medicine). I used to think that unless told otherwise, all medication should be taken after food. So when I applied this to feeding medicine to Kenan, we ended up with vomited medicine AND food. Then we not only have to worry about giving him the medicine again, we also had to think about whether to give him some food too since he vomited it out.

7. Lastly, Friend SL uses a very simple trick to get her child to take medicine – she puts two M&Ms into the medicine and viola, no fight, no struggle – the child takes the medicine in one quick mouth.

So there you have it. The art of feeding toddler medicine.  If you have other tips in feeding a toddler medicine, please share with me!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tough Times Don't Last... A Positive Mindset Does

The past week had come and gone. It had been trying in many ways. First, our family got a new helper and with it comes the challenge of adapting to someone new and going through the whole 'train a new maid' process again. Along the way, I learnt some expensive (literally) lessons in not assuming that an experienced helper would definitely know how to handle the 'simple' stuff or knows exactly what not to do.

Like I thought she knew how to open our main door. But turned out she didn't and I got locked out of the house. Worse was that the lock got damaged and I had to change it, which cost me a few hundred bucks. Later in the week, she saw minor leakage in the pipe below the kitchen sink and attempted to 'repair' it. She didn't succeed and I called in the plumber (just when I was rushing out for an important meeting with client) and spent another hundred bucks.

Then, there was the little one who had been refusing his antibiotic. Every medication time turned into a major battle that easily lasted half an hour. It left us, the adults, feeling totally defeated and depressed. What made it even more challenging was that each time we thought we found a way to get him to take his medication, the next day, he might refuse again and we had to think of something new again. It's totally exhausting. It doesn't help that I've been sleeping late to rush some projects and was more short-fused as a result. Thankfully, he's only got to take the antibiotic for one more day!

In times like these, it's easy for me to complain about how difficult things were and start dwelling on the negative.

But I know it won't make the situation any better. Instead, I decided to look out for the silver lining and focus on the little victories and successes. Here's my discoveries in pictorials...

One evening, the little boy came into my room and started creating a mess by pulling the tissues out of the box. I got angry...

But when I saw how happy he was, my anger disappeared. I'm learning to be more relaxed about toddler-created mess, to see things from the little boy's perspective and enjoy the humour in such childish acts, for I know that these will not last and someday I'll look back and wish for more of such moments.

With a toddler around, I'm learning to look at what's around me with fresh eyes - like the way my boy creatively used his toy to redesign the door knob (he lengthened it and make it more "user-friendly").

My boy is also a constant reminder that the greatest joy is often found in the simplest things.

Work had piled up high as I had been sick for two weeks. It hadn't been productive working at home and I finally decided to get out of the house, enjoy a nice, simple breakfast at a cafe and worked there. In two hours, I finished a project. Sometimes, a simple change of environment (getting away from all the usual distractions and disturbances) is all it takes to work more productively.

Lastly, I thank God for surrounding me with beauty (I love the colours of the leaves), filling my heart with Peace and giving me new Hope everyday. 

How about you? How do you keep positive when the going gets tough? Or what tips do you have in working more productively (I need more ideas for this!)?

I'm thankful for the lessons learnt last week and praying for a beautiful new week. May you have a great week too!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain." ~ unknown

(saw this quote on a friend's Facebook page and thought how true)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Got a Makeover!

Ok, it's not me. It's my blog that got a makeover. How do you like the new look?

Since I started my blog, I've attempted to change the look twice, but mainly just by tweaking the header design which I DIY:

But somehow I felt they fell short of what I want - something 'nicer' and prettier. but I just don't have the technical know-how to do it. So I was researching for a blog designer when I got introduced, quite by chance, to Patricia from Fancy Girl Designs.

After looking at her portfolio, I immediately decided to work with her. Something about her designs appealed to me and I sort of knew that she could create the look I want, though honestly I didn't have a strong idea what it was then.

There's where the talented Patricia did a wonderful job with. 

To begin, she had me fill in a questionnaire that gave her information she needed to conceptualise the design. In the process of filling up the form, I also got a clearer picture of what I wanted.

Patricia then sent me two design concepts but I feel she has a special knack for knowing what someone wants because the first design she sent me (which is this one) was right on target. It felt as if she had read my mind!

I am really happy with how my blog looks now. Thank you, Patricia!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Favourite Hawker Stalls: Chen Ji's Char Siew & Roast Pork

I love eating (don’t be fooled by my size!) and good food makes me happy. Especially during cold, wet weather like now. It makes me feel warm and cozy after a hearty meal.

And when it comes to good food, I believe that it’s not just limited to those whipped up by chefs in some fancy restaurants. There are some real gems to be discovered among the ‘humble’ local hawker fare.

Just the other day, I was going through my photos and saw some of my favourite hawker food. I thought why don’t I start sharing about them too? Instead of only reviewing restaurants and cafés. Boring.

So today, I’ll start with my favourite char siew and roast pork stall at Alexandra Village Food Centre: 陈记烧腊 Chen Ji Shao La (no English name).

 My hubby and I chanced upon this stall by accident. We were there on a weekend with the intention of satisfying our craving for claypot laksa but it was closed.  We spotted a short queue at this stall and decided to give it a try.

Boy! We were thrilled by what we tasted.

In my previous post, I shared about how I’m a huge fan of the char siew and roast pork at Restoran Oversea in Kuala Lumpur. I was excited when they opened up a branch here. But we were a tad disappointed as they didn’t replicate the exact same taste and texture as what they serve in KL (most likely too fat and oily for most Singaporeans but I love it!), and it’s more expensive here.

So you can imagine our delight when we found something that we think is good enough as a substitute and at such affordable prices too.

So what’s so nice about this stall’s food?

First, the char siew. It’s sweeter, stickier than most char siew you’ll find in Singapore. It’s beautifully caramelized with a shiny glaze and has a little fat so that when you put it into your mouth and start chewing, it will be sweet, juicy and tender (not dry and hard like what you get at some other stalls). 

Next, the roast pork. What I really love about this roast pork is how crispy the skin is (think crunch, crunch, crunch...). Like the char siew, the meat is considered tender and very flavourful.

Oh yes, the gravy they give is very nice too. 

And from what I can observe, both items are made right in the stall – as fresh as it can ever get. They also sell roast duck. We've not tried that yet though, despite having gone there about three times now. Perhaps that's how much we enjoy their char siew and roast pork.

Chen Ji Shao La
Alexandra Village Food Centre
Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1

For all my other food reviews, click here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rainbow Bear Books: Giveaway Results

Thank you for your participation in the books giveaway! Sorry for the slight delay in posting the results.

As there's only one person who asked for 'Dinosaur Discovery', so there's no draw for that book. The rest of you asked for the 'Alphabet Zoo' and the winner is randomly picked by and the results is:

Congratulations to the two winners:

PC (for Dinosaur Discovery) and Wendy (for Alphabet Zoo)!

Please email me at within the next 7 days about your prizes. Hope the books will help you in nurturing the love for reading in your children. Would love to hear about how they are enjoying the books! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sick and Thankful

It seems like when you're a mom, being sick takes at least double the time to recover. Especially when you're having a sore throat.

I've been having a sore throat and cough for over two weeks now and lost my voice twice in between that period. I also saw the doctors four times - because I was eager (or maybe even desperate) to recover. Because I hate coughing in the middle of the night and not being able to sleep. One of the doctors asked me to rest my throat more and I smiled and said I'll try. But inside, I was thinking "No way!" When you have a toddler who is testing the boundaries all the time, I'm thankful enough that I don't have to yell all the time.

And the little boy has been sick too. He probably caught a bug at school and was the first to be sick at home. But boy, what a difference age makes when it comes to being sick. Despite having fevers, a running nose and coughing, he is full of energy and playful as ever, as if he isn't sick at all. Argh.

But I'm thankful. I'm thankful that my boy hasn't been more sick. I'm thankful that as a WAHM, I can try to rest whenever possible and not worry that the bosses be unhappy that I'm less productive at work, or worse, have to be absent from the office with an MC.

So while the past few weeks had been trying in various ways, I'm still thankful for God in how He's blessed us in so many ways.

Thankful for clear blue skies... showers of blessings... and sunshine after the rain... reminding me to be hopeful and stay positive

Thankful for the joy in the little boy and for God in keeping him strong

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spanking New Playground at Tampines 1

While there are quite a few water-themed playgrounds atop some of the local shopping malls, we've never took Kenan to one. Well, let me clarify. He did go to one once, but it was by chance that we came across it. Since we didn't bring along an extra set of clothes for change, the boy didn't get to play there.

So I was really happy to be invited to a special preview of Singapore's first wet-and-dry wildlife-themed rooftop playground at Tampines 1.

Accessible by escalator on 5F (near Amore Living and KOHONG Fish Spa), the playground is divided into different areas to depict different continents and endangered species.

For example, the bigger polar bear slide and the smaller seal slide (two bottom pics) represents the Antartica. 

There are also educational signboards to teach children about the specific region and about the animals. However, I had been too busy chasing Kenan and trying to take his photos and forgot to snap pics of the signboards.

This is the dry play area. It didn't keep dry for long as children who played at the water area came over to enjoy the facilities and got the place wet as well. So even if you think that your child will only be playing at the dry area, do bring along an extra set of clothes since there's a high chance that the place is wet too.

Kenan was initially more excited about the balloon than the playground itself. He only got more interested with the playground when the balloon burst. Thanks to Tampines 1, the little boy also got to play with a water gun that came with the goodie bag we received.

And Kenan made some new friends too. As you can see, he couldn't resist hugging them!

After all the play, children can take a quick shower or get changed at the toilet/shower area which is located to the left of the entrance.

You can also check some other bloggers' write up and to see more photos:

And do visit to Mommy Cafe's Facebook page as I've uploaded more pictures over there.

Thank you once again to the management of Tampines 1 and the really nice folks at Fleishman-Hillard for the invite. We had a really great time!

The playground will officially open to public on 10 March 2012. Have lots of fun at this spanking new place!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting Creative with the Big Blocks

The boy is getting creative.

Just last week, he made this structure right in the middle of the living room.

I asked him what was it and he replied, "Houses!"

"Huh?" I couldn't quite figure out how it resembles a house. He decided to help me out. 

With pride beaming across his face, he pointed to the windows and repeated the word "houses". I looked out and all of a sudden, I understood what he meant.

He was making these 'houses'! (or flats as we call them in Singapore)

How very clever right?

And I'm glad we still have the big blocks at home, which I purchased on impulse a while back. 

The moment it was delivered, I sort of regretted it. As you can see, these blocks can be built into life-size structures, so you can imagine how much space they occupy (as compared to a Lego set, which serves the same purpose anyway).

Haenim big blocks from Korea. Kenan and daddy building all kinds life-size structures e.g. table and chair, toy houses etc.

So for a while, I've been thinking about selling it off. Now that Kenan seems to enjoy playing with it and starts making something meaningful with them, I'm undecided. However, space is still my concern. What do you think? Do you think it's worth keeping? When it comes to your kid's toys, how do you decide whether to keep or give away/discard something?


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