Friday, April 26, 2013

Foodie Friday - Scrambled Tamagoyaki!

Proud to say that I have survived making Bento Breakfast for Dumpling for more than 3 months! Here's a "deconstructed" recipe to share. :)

Dumpling loves eggs - anything from Chawanmushi to Omelettes to softboil eggs. I have always liked the taste of Japanese Omelette - Tamagoyaki but being a working mum, I need to finish her entire meal in 10 mins. So, I decided to create a deconstructed version - Scrambled Tamagoyaki. Tastes the same, bite size and dare I say, it is more moist too since I do not need it to be perfectly taut to create the layered effect in the original version.

:: Recipe
1) 2 small eggs / 1 Large egg
2) 2 - 3 tablespoons of Chicken Stock
3) 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar
4) 1 tablespoon of mirin
* Optional: diluted light soya sauce (1:1 mix and I recommend only a teaspoon at most. I do not use this as the eggs end up looking darker and the stock which I use has salt in it)

Mix the above well and then fry over low heat and scramble!

For the Bento box below, I added a slice of ham (folded length wise where I cut at the fold with about 1cm of allowance to spare. I then twist it to create the 'ham flower' below)

(All silicone folders and the baran are from Daiso)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Parenting with Love: Relax = lack of discipline?

I recently came across an article in a parenting magazine and read an interview where the interviewee  said that there he does not see a point in letting his kids relax everyday as he wishes to instill discipline in them. After reading on, I found out that he has 2 preschoolers (below 6) and his children attends enrichment classes daily on weekday evenings after their childcare sessions. 

I am not sure if in this instance the saying "there is no bad PR" applies because that article basically left somewhat an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I was quite affected by the article as I find it hard to reconcile how discipline equates to the children being shuttled from classes to classes every evening. 

Discipline to me is not forcing an environment / practice upon a child (for the lack of a better term) so that the child is drilled to carry out tasks. It is a mindset, a practice and in a way, a value. Rather than drilling that into my kids, I'd prefer to explain to Dumpling the importance of finishing a task and not give up halfway.  

In the last paragraph, the interviewee stated that parents must know how to teach their children and cannot be too casual about it as the most absorbent years are from birth till 6 and thereafter, the rate of absorption reduces every year. He then goes on to question how many days did our child spend at the playground or with electronic gadgets. 

Ok, I get that part about electronic gadgets as we are not big fans of such things at home but I do not find playground time inappropriate. To me, there is much that can be learnt from and at the playground - life skills such as taking turns, sharing, conflict management to building up the confidence to speak up, lead, etc.

More than that, free play is not a bad thing - it is moments like these that children get to create and imagine. My best childhood memories are when I played in the afternoon with my brother and neighbours and where I imagined I'd go on mysterious journeys; pretending to be a mermaid one day and a pirate the next. When we are left to be "bored" we reflect, we create and we explore. It is also discussed here that children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative

As a parent, some of the best moments that I have are when I disconnected from my iPhone, was 'present', really played with my child, basked in her companionship and laughed at her antics.

Above pic: cheeky monkey here mimicking me hiking up my Yoga pants and hamming for the camera!

Above pic: mid way through our nature hike, she broke out in a dance. LOL

So, I choose to have moments like these. Moments where Dumpling can look back 20 years later and remember that mummy and daddy were there with her, having fun with her and not remember us only as just providers and chauffeurs.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Simple pleasures - Saturdays are made of these :)

Since taking a break from teaching on Saturdays, I really treasure my Saturday mornings with Dumpling. I will usually head outdoors since sleeping in is still NOT a luxury that we have at this household with her being an early riser. (Sigh)

I am still fiddling around with my camera, trying to improve my photography skills. And this morning, we headed out to a playground nearby so that she can get outdoor time.

These are the simple pleasures in my life. :)

Ohhhh... How I love dim sum...

I don't really take pork except when it is dim sum or laden with chili...

Moments of motherhood bliss are when I see the little one (ok, I know that she is not so little now but she will always remain as a baby in my eyes!) enjoying herself at the playground.

Above pic: told her to smile nicely and she stuck out her tongue!

I know that the picture is a tad out of focus but this has to be my favourite of the series this morning. 
Because childhood passes us by like a blur. If we are not "present" we'd miss out on blissful moments such as these. 
Moments where they still run around amok, moments where they are not jaded with life (and homework!), moments where there is still so much wonderment in their eyes and that tinkle of joy in their ringing laughter. 
Happy blessed weekend!
Luv, Mama Sue


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Trial and Tribulations - Am no Stepford Mum

Motherhood has been painted to be this fabulous journey where it is all sunshine, strawberries and ice cream. Before I became a mum, I envisioned myself to be a young and 'hawt' mama pushing the pram at shopping malls and the kid sleeping blissfully. Perfectly made up and the child is a textbook child.

Looking back, I think that I had a peek into how 'true' Motherhood would be like just about when 'delivery' started for me. Dumpling was an overdue baby and at 41 weeks, she didn't show any signs of wanting to head out of the cozy nest. Hence an induction was called for and despite the best prep work done (I attended and practised Hypnobirthing religiously for months and had my birth plan written out months before) I had to go for an emergency C-section. After going through a drug-free 18-19 hours of labour and having contractions like every 2 mins(?), I was so exhausted and all I wanted was just to have the baby out.

Unlike my other friends who shared with me their glorious AHA MOTHERHOOD moment where it was love at first sight and they shed streams of joyful tears, I was shivering from the aftermath of epidural, felt numb and was just bone weary from being up 22 hours straight trying to deliver my baby.

When I got home, I soon realised that Dumpling is not quite the textbook baby I envisioned her to be and despite me trying to "Gina Ford" her, we were both left frustrated - me from a lack of sleep, sore boobs and bleeding nipples and her, from a lack of understanding from the mum and may I add that she must have been very unhappy having been yanked out earlier than she'd like!

I then develop hot flushes, had breastfeeding difficulties AND chronic insomnia. The inability to understand and bond with my child, the hormones, the lack of sleep and the inability for the mind to shut and rest led to a bout of Post Natal Depression.

Many have asked me what is it like and how it feels. Before being on medication, I was clocking less than 3 hours of sleep daily because Dumpling's naps were only 20-25mins long. I barely had time to eat and shower before I had to tend to her / nurse her all over again. I was zombified as I was on a high alert all the time. Ever had too many shots of caffeine in one day? Well, that's me - bone weary but my mind as going at a 220km per hour and I could not rest because I did not know when is the next minute Dumpling would wake and demanded to be fed / tended to again.

It was both lonely and scary. Have you ever looked out into the still of the night where everything looks like it has come to a standstill? Everything out there looks peaceful and everyone is resting. Even the leaves are no longer rustling as they are getting a much needed rest. All BUT you. Your brain is just whirling with thoughts and worries and you battle with the irony that you want very much to rest but your brain decides that you are unable to shut off. Finally, when your eyes feel like lead and body battled and just when you think you are finally able to doze off, you jerk awake, thinking that your baby is up / is crying and fussing.

I still remember moments like these where I felt so alone and so helpless. It was also during moments like these that I realised that I came to resent the fact that such a small being can bring me literally to my knees and to the brink of insanity. I recall many such nights of carrying my child and crying and talking to God. I recall asking God "Is this motherhood? Will I ever be able to fall asleep on my own, without drugs, ever again? Will I ever feel close to my child? Will I EVER be normal? Will I ever enjoy motherhood?" I could not see any bright spot, let alone a light, during those days.

After I was on medication, it was a different kind of experience. I felt like I was sucked into this vacuum where I was always on the outside looking in. Calm but void of any emotions. I was also strangely detached to that little being that I carried in my body for 9 months. Where I used to fuss over every hiccup, smile at every kick she made and squeal in girlish delight when I see her while doing a regular ultrasound scan; I felt none of that at all.  Mummy guilt ranks high on my list during those dark bleak days.

My internal battle continued and I ranted at God at every opportunity "Where is the bond? What is this love everyone is talking about? What is the joy in this permanent journey of motherhood? Am I fit to be a mother? Why am I different from the rest of my friends who were doing so fantastically well? Where did I go wrong and why did I fail?"

It hurts to look back even after all these years and know that I resented my child at a point in life where I was not fit to be her mum. I had help from my mother-in-law, mum and helper. But it was also a double-edged sword and a bittersweet experience. I felt angry and resented that they could handle and read my child better than I did. More than that, I resented the fact that my baby responded to them and not me. Her mother. The mother who until a few weeks ago bonded so well with her while she was still inside as we even played "tap and kick" games.

Laughably, I got out of Post Natal Depression out of sheer stubbornness. I did not like the person that I was - negative, insecure and unsure. I know that I could do it. I desperately wanted to get well so that I can enjoy my child. That little girl that I have asked God for. I wanted to have that bond and I wanted to stop crying. I wanted to be one of the faces she looks forward to seeing and squealing to. I wanted to be her mum. I wanted to be a fun mum. I wanted to be a HAPPY mum. Bit by bit, I got better. I headed out more, spoke more and I got to understand my child better. I found joy slowly in her little antics and found myself laughing more. I started missing her when I was out and I started looking forward to seeing her at the end of each evening after work. I loved (and still does this!) smelling her toes and stealing kisses even when she is asleep. I spent time reading and doing craft work with her after work to continue to build the bond too.

Four odd years on, things have changed drastically for us. We are like 'Kee Chang and Sugar' (rice dumpling) and I have never enjoyed myself more. Motherhood is no walk in the park for me. The mummy guilt factor does hit me once in a while when I look back at the dark beginnings (well and also when I morphed into MummyGila and yell at Dumpling till I swear the ceilings rocked).

Dumpling and I celebrating my birthday in 2012

I roll my eyes (many times over) when I read articles on how easy some mummies say it is for them and how they took to motherhood like a duck to water. That their kids slept right through from one month and that they dropped back to their old size 2 months after delivery.

Good for you I'd say. But for this upcoming Mother's Day, I want to celebrate. And I will celebrate because I am proud of how hard I have worked at to get better and to establish the bond with my daughter and even through communication methods like Baby Signing. I will celebrate because I have earned my stripes and as a homeschooling mum too!

My mum always reminds me that it does not matter how rocky my path was but that I made the journey count. I only hope that I have my mum's wise genes and that I will be there for Dumpling too.

Linking up with: 

Celebrating Motherhood for this Mother's Day with:


I first wrote about my experience in my brother's blog about 2 - 3 months after birth. I am happy to share that since then, I have made a full recovery and while I still rant at God once in a while, it certainly is not about Dumpling. I do, however, own up to still smelling her toes and stealing kisses when she sleeps. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Science - making slime!

For Science, Dumpling and I are still exploring the "chemistry" part on "matter". Previously we have made 'Bob the Blob' using Polymer powder. So when we came upon the page on Making Slime, Dumpling was so excited!

Off she went measuring the water...

Good way to introduce "measurement"

The main "ingredient" to make the slime...

And at this point, when we checked the manual, it read that we are to make it green so we had to use the colour tablets. This was a good way to build up from the previous experiment on colour mixing.

Then she asked me a question: 'Mama, do you think that the colours will mix together or they will be 'separated'?" I was very pleased with the question as it shows her thought process. We then made predictions...

So, we tried it out and this was a good chance for me to explain a bit on density... The colours mixed almost immediately into...

We stirred and stirred and waited for a bit (manual said to stir continuously for 5 mins but we found out that it "gel" better when we left it over night...

The slim we made were a tad too watery though it did achieve the slimy effect. So if you are using the same kit as I am, you may wanna add on more of the gravity goo powder!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Talkative Thursday - The man in her life

I will admit to this - when I was first pregnant, the ending part of my prayer includes a tiny little voice asking God (very nicely) if I can have a little girl. It could be that I am very close to my mum so I like to think that perhaps, just perhaps, one of these days, I will have a daughter that would make the effort to call me, go out together and that we are able to chat about anything.

Naturally I was thrilled to little bits when I found myself in the family way with a little girl and started going amok with all the shopping before she was even born. From bows to cute little onesies (that read: Mum's little girl, no less) to pink shoes, it was just so fun having a girl. We also could communicate early on because we were doing Baby Signing and so the bond between us has been established from the early days.

I am a type A and a worrywart. Part of it stems from Dumpling having a very nasty fall when she was younger. So, I prefer to be around whenever I can. Not that I think I possess any super powers but well, I'd like to think that I can make things better. :p

Along the way, I became the defacto person for Dumpling to go to for almost anything (well, I think that's true for almost all mums!) and being girls who love pretty things, we also have loads of fun bonding through using similar colours, matching outfits, etc.

The hubs, on the other hand, work punishing hours where his version of "early" means he is home around 8+pm but more often than not, it would be around 10+pm. Naturally, he is not left with much bonding time except on Suns (he works on Saturdays too).

Being a homeschooling mum meant that I have a dedicated 2 - 3 hours with Dumpling every evening and coupled with the fact that I would bring Dumpling almost everywhere that I go, the bond between us naturally has become stronger and stronger. With Dumpling being aware of gender differences where mummy is of the same gender and we do "girl things", therein also lies a 'problem' - I was also aware that she is not as close to the hubs and I became very conscious of a widening gap between the 2 of them.

So what did we do to encourage a stronger bond?

1) Dedicated Activity
After discussing with the hubs, we decided that he would take over her swimming classes while I focus on a new class which Dumpling took a few months back. Initially Dumpling did ask me to join her instead but she subsequently stopped.

For me, it certainly is a nice change to be up at the deck where I can watch the two of them having fun. I have caught many special moments on video and camera where the hubs would commend her on the improvements made, where the two of them would 'monkey' around together and where he would  encourage her for her effort.

These days, when the hubs can't make it and I need to take over, she'd actually sulk!

2) Puzzles and Play
On days when the hubs does reach home early, I would also remind (and at times nudge) him to spend some time with Dumpling before he tunes in to the TV! This is where they two of them would tackle puzzles, blocks and legos; well, basically the things that mummy suck at! :p

3) Saturday Breakfast! 
This started when I started teaching on Saturday mornings. The hubs would have to then settle breakfast with Dumpling and this became their special 2 - 3 hours and they sometimes invite the gramps too. Now that I am taking a little break, this "tradition" still continues where we will have breakfast together as a family but I get the hubs to bring her around to get / buy the food instead.

So far, I'd say that the additional effort and the swop of roles / activities seem to be working. The two now do seem closer than before. Naturally she does stick to me more often but ahem, when it comes to things such as 'unhealthy' snacks - no surprise there as to who she reaches out to!'s Talkative Thursdays

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wordful Wednesday - the dull ache in the heart

Long before I became a mum to Dumpling, I became one to 2 lovely lovely dogs. They are as different as day and night in appearances and personalities - one is very independent while the other is a lap dog. Both have one thing in common - their lovely temperament. They have never once snapped / bitten us and despite our initial worries about them being jealous of Dumpling when she was born, all 3 girls bonded beautifully.

For non animal lovers, I guess they are not really able to understand the affection dog owners have towards these companions. Long before Dumpling was born, the 2 girls were already with me. They have seen me through days when I was when I was direly unwell and through nights when I was up from kicks in the tummy, compliments of Dumpling. They comforted me through tears of heart ache, sat silently through the nights watching me as I pace along, alone, in the silence of the night, battling Post Natal Depression and during rows with the hubs.

These companions do not judge and do not have many demands. They do not care if I am a high flier or not, and they certainly do not judge if I lose it once in a while yelling at Dumpling. All that they require is just some of my time and perhaps a good scratch behind their ears. Such is that unwavering loyalty and that unconditional love.

On this night as I am typing this, I have been rubbing my chest, unconsciously, the whole day, trying to ease off a dull ache.

Goldie busted her ligament among other things a few days back. Having reared dogs for more than 20 years, training, experience and instincts told me her gait is not quite right and the creaky sound emitting near her knees do not sound good.

True enough, her injury was serious to warrant a surgery. A surgery that took a pretty long time. When I picked her up from the vet, she was shaking, could hardly move and was just so bone weary that she could barely keep her eyes open. I felt as if a part of my heart was being chiseled off. Still, she did not growl at me. Instead, once she was in my arms when we got home, she buried her nose in my chest (as if she felt the ache and was trying to ease it) and she gave in to fatigue.

Such is the trust, love and loyalty of my wonderful Goldie. I could not have asked for a better companion.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fun with Math - Out at the Carpark

The focus for Math for Dumpling has very much been on 2 areas lately: namely understanding of place values (being able to 'name / read') and addition.

Dumpling has been able to add on quite comfortably and over the past few weeks, we have ventured into the addition of bigger numbers. So, on a not-so-hot afternoon last week, Dumpling and I took a stroll around the car park.

:: Hundreds and Thousands Hunt! 
Dumpling first got to know how to name / read up to hundreds when we watched ... 101 Dalmatians! Hence at this stage, I am working with Dumpling on the "naming / reading" of numbers beyond hundreds, venturing into Thousands.

Car plates are truly useful for that as shared by a guest in a previous Math post. The number plates we saw last week had 2 digits, 3 digits and right down to 4 digits. Dumpling and I took turns to hunt for car plates within the "hundred series" before I worked with her on thousands.

Above pic: after we did the hundreds hunt, we then went on to a simpler 4 digit series before slowing moving onto something more complex (like below)

Above pic: Dumpling going hmmmmm... 

:: Algorithm Addition
Dumpling does not quite have the patience for worksheets and hence, the walk around the car park proved to be fun and more enjoyable for us both. Dumpling has established her ease in the counting on method and we have attempted simple algorithm addition at home. 

For the car park activity, I hunted for simpler series of digits (as above - without any carrying over) and got her to add the first 2 and the last 2 digits together (be sure to explain to your child that is an entirely different activity and has nothing to do with the earlier exercise). 

This 'hunt' brought a different fun factor as we did several of such additions. Best of all, it costs nothing and is easily done since all you need is to head to the car park! So, take a walk to the car park today with your preschooler! :)

 (Note: please be very careful of any vehicles - Dumpling and I went down during non peak hours where they were hardly any moving vehicles. Of course, children must be supervised at all times at the car park during this exercise.) 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Talkative Thursday - In faith, there is hope

I did not plan on having a post out today till I experienced something which filled my heart with so much gratitude. I had the opportunity to review and do a giveaway on iTheatre's The Enormous Turnip. While speaking to the lady-in-charge from iTheatre and finalising details on the giveaway, she shared that Tanglin School reached out to her for the sponsorship of some tickets to the play. 

That chat had me thinking over a few days as I was not sure how I could help. Finally, after praying over it, I decided to just dive in and try. So, when I posted about the giveaway on my personal FB page and the Homelearning FB group, I 'shouted out' to ask for the sponsorship of some tickets for these children with special needs

To my surprise, within a few minutes of my post, a mummy friend whose son was Dumpling's schoolmate at the Chinese class for a while, reached out and offered to sponsor. That marked the start of a series of PMs, SMSs and What's App messages from my mummy friends over the next 3 hours. 

God truly is good and works in wonderful ways. Instead of the original amount the school was hoping for, after collating all the mummies' responses, I realised that we now have more than double of what was asked for. When I called the iTheatre lady-in-charge to inform her about this, to my surprise, she shared that the school reached out to her before my call to share that if more tickets can be collected, it would be great so that more students and teachers can attend. :) How truly wonderful. 

I am just in awe over these mummy friends' generosity. Amongst so many messages that I received in those 3 hours, 2 mummies have deeply touched my heart with their responses and replies. 

Mummy HS replied with this when I thanked her: 
"My pleasure.. What I have is God given..
I am just doing my part"   

Mummy K whom I only got to know recently replied me with this:
"I feel so blessed to have healthy kids... Feel blessed that I'm living in a normal country and family... So am trying to help these children.... hope that my children can share their joy (of watching these productions) with others too..." 

WOW. To all of you fabulous mummies, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am deeply humbled and so very thankful for all your generosity. When I first decided to have a go at rally-ing for the sponsorship, I truly did not know if I was able to gather enough contribution. But I decided to try in faith and in turn you ladies gave me so much hope. That there are wonderful souls out there who are willing to make a difference. Thank you for your support and for making me believe and see that 'in faith, there truly is hope'.'s Talkative Thursdays

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Giveaway! The Enormous Turnip by iTheatre!

Dumpling is a great great fan of performing Arts. She loves the songs, dances and the story line and we have basically been to more than 20 theatrical productions over a span of 2 odd years. 

iTheatre is a non-profit organisation and is one of the production houses Dumpling and I look out for. The most recent production we watched is The Little Red Hen which we enjoyed tremendously. This May and June, iTheatre is once again running ACE! Festival. 

ACE! Festival was conceived with the aim of celebrating, promoting, inspiring and stimulating creativity and artistry in families and children aged 3 to 14, presenting a positive and top quality total arts experience using Singapore’s finest talents and the best from the region and the rest of the world.

iTheatre will be showcasing 2 brand new “World Premiere” productions – The Enormous Turnip, and The Magic Porridge Pot.

Beanie N Us is pleased to announce a giveaway of 2 sets of 4 tickets to The Enormous Turnip worth $248!

:: Synopsis
This is the story of a tiny mouse – and an enormous turnip.
Little Eek the Mouse’s dream is to be noticed. But Eek is SO small.
Diggory the Gardener’s dream is to win a prize – any prize for his vegetables.
And then – in his garden, a turnip grows – and grows – and grows!What will he do with it? And who is strong enough to pull this Enormous Turnip out of the ground?
A fast paced, colourful, interactive play, carefully designed for the younger audience, with cute characters, fun and memorable songs, and a clear moral message for everyone.

Date: 1 June 2013 (Saturday)
Time: 2pm
Duration: Performances 55 minutes including meet and greet
Most suitable for: 3 - 14YO and familes
Venue: Alliance Francaise Theatre, Sarkies Road
CreativesWritten and Directed by Brian Seward,
Music composed and arranged by Julian Wong

:: To enter:
3) Leave a comment below and share why you should win these tickets (Do share this giveaway for an additional chance to win the tickets ~ please mention that you have shared the announcement in the comment)
4) Please provide your Name + your Email Address for us to contact you! 
Contest closes at 2359 on 26 April 2013. 
** Note: Winners will be chosen randomly.
**  Tickets are to be collected directly from iTheatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other dates. As the play takes place in Singapore, this giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. 
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