Quick and yummy dried noodle 干捞面

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This is one of the recipes that I must share!

You know why? Because after finishing his dinner, my dear Hao Re came to hug me real tight and said: "Thank you, Mama, you always cook healthy food for us. The food made us very healthy. And it tastes nice!".

I know Hao Re is one little man who can really sweet-talk. But I can tell that this time round, it comes from the bottom of his heart. Nothing can be better than receiving his "testimonial" on my cooking. It's totally, totally worth the effort of cooking for them every day (almost) for the past few years!

I think my hub is right, he always is (but sometimes I pretend not to listen, but I know most of the time, he is right, so I listen to him, hehe). A couple of years ago, I was so tired of the cooking, and I was very grumpy about the daily mundane. My hub pointed it right to my face - he said if I don't do it with love, might as well don't cook anymore. 如果没有用心去煮,那还倒不如不煮!What he said woke me up! I adjusted my thoughts, my feeling, I put away the big "me", I fill up my big tank of love, and I started to cook with love, again, since, no more complain. I have learnt to take a break when I am really tired, to dine out or to get take away, once in a while, it really doesn't hurt (their health) :-P

Back to this dish. It's a simple dish but the kids love it! Probably it's because it's a non-soup based noodle, so it's kinda a novelty to them. And also because they are allowed to choose which ingredients to pick to go with the noodle (though I have known exactly what they would choose, haha).

Ingredients:
- Wanton noodle or spinach noodle (available from most supermarket, near where the toufu is)
- Vegetable, which can be any type
- Others - choose what your kids like or what you want to offer to your kids. For this particular one, I used - fresh mushroom, fish balls, sliced pork, fried shallot, and freshly made pork lard

Left - For Hao Re, who doesn't eat fish balls, but who loves pork lard and fried shallots.
Right - For Xi Yu, who doesn't eat mushroom totally and don't like fried shallots (still would eat), but she loves fish balls. 

Cooking instructions:
For the noodle
- Boil a big pot of water.
- Open up/loosen the noodle into strands (if not, the noodles would lump up).
- Put the noodle into the boiling water, let it boil till noodle starts to turn soft
- Quickly drain the noodle and drop them into a cold pot of water. Let it cold down thoroughly and then drain.
- To be continue.......

For the ingredients
- (Optional) For pork lard (can get from the wet market, just tell the butcher you want some pork lard, a small piece would be enough), cut the pork lard into small cube. Heat up the wok and leave it to medium fire, and then put the pork lard cube in (need to put any cooking oil). Oil would start to ooze out. Continue until the lard turn golden brown. Scoop the crispy lard out. Use the oil to coil the rest of the ingredients.
- fried shallot till golden. Scoop out and set aside.
- Lightly toast the fish balls till turn golden, Scoop out and set aside.
- Add in the mushroom and fried till golden. Scoop out and set aside.
- Other ingredients that can go well - fried eggs, char siew, etc.

Continue cooking with the noodle......
- Boil a new pot of water.
- Add in vegetables and boil for a short while.
- Add in the cooled noodle for a short while (10-15 sec or till the noodle warmed up).
- In a plate or bowl, add a it of soy sauce (start with 1 tablespoon), a bit of dark soy sauce (start with 1 teaspoon) and some sesame oil (start with 2 tablespoons). Mix.
- Add in the warm noodle and toss the noodle to color the noodle till even (add more soy sauce or dark soy sauce or sesame oil till achieve the taste you want).
- Once satisfied with the taste and the look of the noodle (evenly colored), add in other ingredient, and ready to serve!

Yeah, finally get a recipe up after a long hiatus :-)

If you like this, click below to see more recipes and some tips on healthy eating.

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A fabulous day out at the Garden by the Bay

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We have a great, great Saturday, spending a wonderful 7 hours at the Garden by the Bay (GBTB) and some lovely family bonding.

Best of all, is that, it's totally unplanned!

The day started with a hearty breakfast at our favorite prawn noodle shop at Sembawang. The kids finished almost one whole bowl each (both of them have been eating a bigger portion lately)! Then we went to the town to watch the "Rio 2" at one of the Golden Village cinemas where hub's office is located, so that while the three of us watching the movie, the hub can get some urgent work cleared, but yet still staying under one roof. Such an ingenious idea I have, haven't I? :-P

After the movie, they played at the indoor playground at the shopping centre while waiting for the hub to wrap up his work. He suggested that we should bring the kids to the Children's Garden at the GBTB as the weather's looking good for an outdoor play - not raining (heavy rained the night before) and not too hot, a bit cloudy and no hot sun. I immediately agreed to it.

Well, some parents might start to get panick - how to spend 7 hours at GBTB with 2 children without any plan? Didn't bring clothes to change, didn't bring any food, didn't bring sunblock, etc. We really don't care much. If they would dirty their clothes and no fresh one to change, just be it, or if they really need to change, buy a new set on the spot (rarely happened lah). Hungry then grab something from somewhere. What's sunblock? We only used when we were at the POLW or at the bench as the kids could really get burnt there. But at a park, we are not too worry.

The kids are very comfortable to roam around on their scooter at GBTB as we have been there several times. In fact, they are okay with any parks in general. We first went for our lunch when we arrived at about 2pm, and then we headed to the Children's Garden.

Baba teaching them to read the map to find the direction to the Children's Garden

Just before they step in to the Children's Garden, the kids are attracted by the tall cactus, and funny looking cactus at this newly set up area. The kids are most tickled by this particular species that is called brain cactus (the one that Xi Yu is looking at), which does really look like brain! And the flowers from the various types of cactus, there are so pretty! And also those very tall giant cactus. If the kids are willing to stop by to spend a good 15-20 min or so looking at the cactus, it must be looking very interested to them, so much so that they resist the temptation to run into the playground.

Botanic lesson today!

When they are at the playground, what we need to do is to be with them, until they have warmed up and got familiarized with the place. Then we find a (shaded) strategic spot to sit down, tell them where we are, and they are set off free! The kids play, the parents relax and chat and catch up on FB :-p Strategic spot means a spot where we could have a good view of the entire area, and also a spot where the kids can easily see us though well shaded, and a spot where they would run past on and off. How to find the strategic spot - it comes with experience :-) We just let them free (except that they were told not to get wet since we didn't bring any clothes), let them play and they are very satisfied when we asked them to leave at about 530pm.

The kids' favorite playground, for now

The reason why we asked them to leave at 530pm - there is an outdoor concert at 6pm at the Supertree area. It's a free concert for us, adults, 新谣演绎会, songs written by the local talents, particularly from our era. Xi Yu was too tired so she immediately knocked out when Baba was carrying her, too comfy I guess. Hao Re was reading his Doraemon comic books quietly, while me and hub got to enjoy the songs.

Enjoying the free outdoor concert while having takeaway pizza from Casa Verde for dinner

When one of the singers sang the song, "遗忘过去", originally sang by my idol, back then, Eric Moo 巫启贤, it brought back so much memories..... it reminds me of so many (good!) years have passed, it reminds me that how much I have been through and have grown up (getting old) so much.....love the kind of feeling, having been feeling so good for a long, long time!

Feeling really good with the great ambient

Xi Yu woke up after almost an hour of nap and the kids started to get impatient and wanted to move around, couldn't sit still anymore. Can't blame them, really, hehe. So we let them play with the scooters and we were standing and walking around, so that we can still continue to listen to a few more songs before it's too late. We left at 9pm.

I have to remind myself........

Sometimes we really have to just let it go.
Don't have to worry so much, to prepare for the too many what-ifs.
Sometimes we shall just follow our heart and just do it.
Because we know that at the end, it would all turn out wonderfully.
Feel so grateful to have a wonderful family.
Life is good :-)))

***************************************
巫启贤 

遗忘过去

作词:木子
作曲:巫启贤

对生命你不必存有怀疑 人生它本来像一出戏
故事的结局是悲是喜 自己总会有些决定

看朝阳又带着希望升起 岁月的脚步从来不停息
等到那星月走进你梦里 生活变得更美丽

工作上有多少不如意 让明天去好好忘记
道路上总有许多不平的遭遇
化做点点滴滴把它全部遗忘在回忆里

我忘不掉心碎的过去 可是我必须面对我自己
生存还要靠自己去努力 我不再犹豫

我挥不去昨日的恋情 可是我必须面对我自己
未来生命该用什么代替 靠自己争取

霓虹灯里埋藏了几许 叫人们迷失自己的骗局
漫漫长夜请听我告诉你
漫漫长夜请听我告诉你
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Learning Chinese through Doraemon comics

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Hao Re does not like books as much as Xi Yu (I haven't really blogged about our book worm, one day I should). Or I should say, he likes (playing with) his toys more than books, not that he doesn't like reading at all. With the limited free time they have - that is about 4 hours on weekdays night and almost full day on weekends, Hao Re's priority has always, always been play - toys, Legos, pretend play, puzzles, and arts and crafts (he sees these as play).

He has no problem reading on his own with reader books suitable for his age, or any books that are meant for his age, like those on the shelves "For Preschoolers, 4-6 years old" in the national library, he can read most of them independently, with a few words that he couldn't pronounce, but he would try.

He learns phonics at his childcare centre, so credits go to his teachers. And they have spelling test also since the first term of Kindergarden 1 (K1) when he was 5 years old. Besides these, I do not know exactly what other stuff they have in classes to help the kids learn independently. I should say they have done a great job (though I would have preferred it to be a little more relax, but I have no complain since the kids can cope without any stress, and I only received praises but not complain from their teachers), giving them we do not do structure learning at home, except that we read to them everyday, before bedtime, or on ad-hoc requests, on whatever books they choose from the book shelf.

It is the same for Chinese. He can recognize most, if not all, of the high frequency words, and he has no problem reading the readers, or whatever teaching materials given in school. This childcare centre has pretty good Chinese curriculum (again, I would have preferred it to be much more relax), and with us speaking Chinese at home, we do not have any issue with the kids' interest and competency in Chinese.

As a pair of responsible parents, one of the things that we do is to supply them with books that might interest them. The book worm, Xi Yu, is happy with ANY book, really, she just picks up and reads. While for Hao Re, since he was exposed to superheroes a couple of year back, it is proven hard to drag him away from superheroes stuff, books included. We managed to get some superheroes reader and non-reader books, and they kinda help to keep his interest in reading. We have got him some comics also, but I must agree that those comics are really not suitable for his age. At the same time, we continue to let him read and also to read to him as much varieties of books as possible. All thanks to the excellent public library system we enjoy here in Singapore, there is never an issue of lack of books for the kids. And also thanks to free shipping from Amazon since last year, and other international and local online bookshops, getting a good, nice, interesting English book for them is never a problem, never. The choices are unlimited, really.

But when comes to Chinese books, the choices are not so wide. There are much, much less Chinese books for children in the library (to be fair to them, there are still lots, just comparatively). For online Chinese bookshops, yes, there are some local ones which are not bad (though I have never tried buying). For international bookshops, basically it can only be limited to those Chinese (Mandarin) speaking countries - Taiwan and China. Taiwan is using traditional Chinese, so books published by Taiwan is not suitable. And there aren't that many authors (again, comparatively) for Chinese children books. There are lots and lots of translated books, which I don't really like, I like originality, somehow I feel translated book is lacking of something.

One day when I was browsing through one of the online shop (ops, now you know why I keep up late at nights, LOL!), I saw this series Doraemon comics in Chinese. And I almost immediately placed it in my basket, and bought it. It's always been our favorite books to read when we were  young. It's easy to read, it's very imaginative and creative, and so why not.

It's a big hit with Hao Re!!! I didn't expect it. But he simply loves these books so much! He has been flipping all 6 books every day without fail for almost one month. He didn't read the Chinese words in the beginning, he would just see the pictures. Even without reading, he can memorise most of the tools Doraemon has, and he remembers which tool is in which book, and which page, roughly, amazing right? Actually not quite, I think if someone would have flip the books as often as Hao Re, it's not surprising the kid can do the same.

Hao Re's first 6 books of Doraemon!

Sometimes he would tell me what the tools are, which one he likes, and what is the special feature of each of the tools, etc. One day, he decided to draw. He copied the Doraemon from his books, and then he flipped through all 6 books and inserted his favorite toys in this drawing. We can point to one of these tools and ask him what it is, and he can tell you all about it. 

Which one if your favorite tool?

He made me read to him also. I am very glad that he is now, after one month, interested to know/read the words! I read some to him. And I also encourage him to read out whichever words that he can recognize (and this is how I found out he has no problem with high frequency words). He likes that fact that by reading the words, he can understand the story better. So he makes me read more often, and if I don't (have time to) entertain him, he would try to read on his own. I know that he is trying to read the words because he is flipping the pages much slower than before.

Am going to browse on the online shop again to get a few more to add on to his collection (hope the hub is not reading this post, haha). I couldn't wait to re-read those stories that have those tools we really wished we could use during our primary and secondary school days!

So yes, so thankful for Doraemon! Not only for those creativity and fun, it also serves as a platform for my kids to learn Chinese. Love, love, love Doraemon!

Just for fun - I remember one of the favorite tools among our class was the "memory bread", whereby you can copy the information on a page by pressing a piece of memory bread. And once you have eaten this particular piece of bread, you can memorise everything on that page! This is our popular choice whenever the exam drew near. But then one of our less imaginative friends always like to argue that this "memory bread" would not work, because we would have to eat so many pieces of bread in order to memorise all the reading materials for the exam. And we have to tell her, it's just for fun, and she was never happy about us saying that, haha!

Is Doraemon your childhood idol too?
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Hong Kong Disneyland - survival guide and tips for families

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(Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. It's pure genuine sharing of our experience :-))

This is our 3rd time to Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) in the last 4 years.

The first time, kids are still very young (when I was browsing those photos in the post, gosh, they were so little!) they were 2 and 3 years old when they first experienced Disneyland (for myself, my first time was when I was 25! Lucky kids they are!). We spent one day there and stayed at the Disney Hollywood Hotel and they absolutely, absolutely loved it.

They kept asking for Disneyland so it made us went back the following year and we were there for the entire 4 days 3 nights! Our entire Hong Kong only had one destination - HKDL. We stayed at HKDL Hotel and we didn't step out of HKDL for that 4 days. It's airport - HKDL - airport. And the kids, they still haven't got bored of it. Serious. 

This year, we went back again in early March, 2 years had passed since the last Hong Kong trip. We didn't stay there this time. But we managed to spend 2 full days there. Kids are older this time round, so they enjoyed HKDL in a slightly different way. That little girl enjoyed it the most, this time round.

So obsess of Disneyland, don't we?
Wonder why, huh?
No prize for guessing it right, though :)

It's me, the mum, who is a huge fan of Disneyland! I didn't really like to travel until I got married. But even for someone who dislike traveling, my biggest dream is to visit all Disneylands and Disneyworld around the globe, and to visit/stay in each of the themed park for a few weeks, big dreams I have. Yes, that's still my dream till this day. When I was studying in England, the only city I wished to visit was Paris, not for the shopping, not for the Louvre museum, or the Arch of Triumph or the Eiffel Tower, not these, but for there is a Disneyland in Paris, and yes, we did make a visit there.

The poor hubby. Would a man like him enjoy such fantasy kinda stuff? When we went to the Disneyland in Paris (his first Disneyland, my second, I went to the one at Los Angeles before that), we were not married yet. He told me he enjoyed Disneyland a lot after spending there for one full day, and he said he would accompany me to visit all other Disneylands and Disneyworld. You know, just for this, I have decided that this is the man I wanna spend my life with :)))

Sorry for the long story. Back to HKDL.

Friends are surprised whenever we said we have to spend more than one full day in HKDL. Because it is rather a small park and one full day would have been enough to cover the whole park. But we have 2 very enthusiastic kids, who lovesssss Disneyland as much as their mum does, if not more. They would not compromise on missing any of the rides or shows. Yes, I swear, we took ALL THE RIDES, except those they can't meet the height requirement (1 ride for Hao Re and 2 rides for Xi Yu) and watched ALL THE SHOWS, not once, but twice or more! That's why we needed the 2 full days, or more. 

The hub was with us on the first day, but on the second day, he had to attend a meeting (the reason why we went to Hong Kong) so I was taking care of two young kids, all alone, for the full day, at HKDL. No jokes! It actually turned out to be quite an easy task, not too much of a challenge, thanks to their superb memory, that they can remember exactly where the rides/shows are and what they want to ride/watch. They were very accommodating to each other, so there was no quarreling of who wants what. Some said I must have a tough day since I have one boy one girl, but thanks to my not-so-girly-girl, she didn't really request much about princesses, she didn't even want to take photo or go near to any of the princesses, because they are not real princess, she said, or rather, Hao Re said. And maybe, the promise that they can each choose a toy if they behaved for the entire day, sure that kinda help them to be more mindful of tantrum throwing and such :-P

Here come some survival guide / tips for exploring HKDL, which I can think of as much as possible (sorry it's a bit random and not in good order):

Tip #1 - The arts of queuing
Once you enter the park, do not queue up for the photo taking with the Disney characters if the queue is long, say if you have to wait for >30 minutes. Totally not worth wait, because they are plenty of opportunities later. 

Tip #2 - Plan your visit
Maps and showtime flyer is available at the entrance. Make sure you grab a copy and to plan out your visit, especially for the shows, really have to plan it out if you want to catch all the shows, including the Parade and the firework. Although the park is not big, and you can walk round and round and round the park without feeling too tired, but if you are bringing young kids, it's better to plan out the visit, so that you only need to make one round.

Tip #3 - Go against "traffic"
Go straight away to those sections that are further in, like Toy Story land, Mistic Point (new attraction) and Grizzly Gulch (new attraction). Usually in the morning, people are queuing and jamming up at the Fantasyland or Adventureland or the Tomorrowland as these are nearest to the entrance. So if you kinda go against the "traffic", that save you lots of waiting time! 

Toy Story Land - our first destination. And this section was almost empty when we reach, while long queue had formed at the rides at Fantasyland. If your children have watched this movie before, they would certainly enjoy it more!

Tip #4 - About water, input and output
Toilets are everywhere. There are toilets at every land. Wherever there is a toilet, there is a drinking water dispenser for you to top up your water bottle. To us, the water is safe to drink (as in none of us experience any discomfort). It helps to rehydrate the kids and adults without having to fork out money to buy the bottled water.

Learning how to draw a Mickey Mouse face at the Animation Academy. There is a really cool exhibition of how the Disney characters were created. See the right hand bottom photo, there is even a exhibit showing how 3D animation is made, way cool!

Tip #5 - Kids make the calls
Let the kids decide what they want to try. What we adults think is fun may not be the same for the kids, whereas what we think is boring could be their favorite thing! So if you can, let them make the calls and follow their wish as much as possible, only give your advise when really needs to. And try not to say no to a kid. And encourage them to try all the rides, they are all suitable for kids (some for old kids) as they are designed for the kids' enjoyment! Also, never try, never know, right!

We believe that the kids should be given plenty of time to choose and decide what they want to do. Parents should be just relax and enjoy, it's holiday time, isn't it?

Tip #6 - No limits
There is nothing too girly and nothing especially designed just for the boys. Don't instill the idea that boys should do this or not do this. Give them the chance to try everything! In a child's imagination world, they do not differentiate that (it's us adults who are so narrow minded). In fact, should encourage them to explore everything. Who says boys can't like princesses and girls can't like Ironman (new attraction coming up next year!)


Tip #7 - Enough rest
Give them time to make stops to rest, to eat and to drink, so they can re-boast their energy. Or to sit down and enjoy some great family bonding time, chit-chatting about the themed park or anything. Don't rush them. It's really okay if they have to miss a show or miss a ride or miss a chance to take photo. To the kids, to be able to keep their energy level high is the most important factor that they would be able to enjoy the themed park the most.

At Glizzly Gulch. Hao Re loves this water gun thingy, and so we stuck here for more than 30 minutes. He loves the roller coaster ride too, which Xi Yu couldn't meet the height requirement. I made her wait for us alone on day 2 as the staff promised to keep an eye on her

Tip #8 - Parade
The parade, the Flights of Fantasy Parade. It's the same parade that we watched for the past 2 visits. Nothing has changed. If you really, really, really want to have a good view of it, you need to pick a good spot and start "chopping" the spot at least 30 minutes before the parade starts. Or else, like what we did, find something to let the kids stand high up and they would be able to enjoy the parade just fine. Almost everyone would want to watch this, except maybe those seasoned visitors, so you can imagine the crowd. And maybe, just maybe, put down the camera or phone and just enjoy the parade rather than click click click, LOL!

I still got all high when I saw Mickey and friends appearing in the parade! Oh yes, he's my fav fav fav Disney character, no one can replace him!!!

Tip #9 - Fast Past
This one many would have known about. There is "fast past" issued for those most popular rides. What you do is that you slot in your entrance ticket to exchange for the fast past, and you would be given a specific timing to come back. When you use the fast past during the allocated timing, you can jump the queue, thereby saving you lots of waiting time. Make use of this if you can.

Winnie the Pooh is one of the few that issued fast past. To us, it's a bit boring, but kids just love this ride!

Tip #10 - Photo taking with characters
Photo taking opportunities are all over the park. Mickey and friends can be found at the Main Street and the Garden at FantasyLand. Princesses and Tinkerbell also at Fantasyland. Woody and Jessie are of course at the Toy Story land. Buzz Lightyear at the Tomorrowland. Chips and Dales at Grizzly Gulch, and so on. They are all very friendly and give you plenty of time to take a few shoots, and the staff are very willing to help to take group photos for you. Unless you absolutely have to take a photo with you favorite characters, then you queue for it, no choice. If it's only for memory sake, choose those with shorter queue.

Only the little girl is interested in photo taking. Hao Re totally refused. He said it's not real ones, they are human inside, duh, where has his imagination gone?!!

Tip #10 - It's Show Time! 
For the shows, DO NOT miss the Lion King show, it's such a great, wonderful production! Golden Mickey is great too, and children would love this as almost all Disney Characters come to live! We have to watch the Golden Mickey a few times. It's in Cantonese, some said since the kids don't understand what the host said, they won't be able to enjoy the show. For my kids, not a problem, they enjoy the music and dance all the same. There is also a 3D show, and then also a Stitch talk show. Somehow my kids love the talk show, we have been to the one conducted in English, Mandarin and Cantonese (even though they don't really understand Cantonese). And of course, the fireworks!!! It's a must watch, it's really is so magical!

Golden Mickey show is the kids' favorite show! Food is available in every land also. Similar but not the same menu, price is the same though

Tip #11 - Tickets
Tickets can be pre-purchased on their website or from the Disney stores in town, same price as if you were to buy it on site, but it saves you from queuing especially if you are there in the peak season. Two-day ticket is of good value! If you are planning to be there for more than 2 days, then sign up to be a member (which we did for our 2nd visit). There are many tiers of membership options, so see which give you the best value.

Tip #12 - Shopping!!
How can you leave Disneyland empty handed, right? If you are planning to buy anything, it would be wise to buy it just before you leave Disneyland, or else, you have to carry all your shopping loots to the rides and shows, and it's very inconvenient.

Even me shouldn't leave Disneyland empty handed, should I? I got a pair of Mickey and Minnie mugs for myself :-) 

Tip #13 - Public transport
Taking public transport to Disneyland is very convenient. We were staying at Tsim Sha Chui, and it took us less than an hour (probably about 40-45 minutes) per trip.

Taking train to HKDL

I hope this tips that we share would help you to better plan your visit to HKDL, and to enjoy it more! 

We are not sure when we would be back to HKDL. Maybe soon or maybe not, as we are (to be precise, I am) hoping to visit other Disneylands! 
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How to choose a pack of fish balls?

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Do you often use fish balls in your cooking? Especially when cooking a meal for the little ones who loves (to eat) fish balls, like my daughter.

Look at the yummy looking fish balls (lightly brown) in the noodle soup that I cooked

I know what you are thinking. Why use processed food, i.e., fish balls? Shouldn't I be using all natural ingredients *winks*? Why add fish balls? Well, if I can help it, I would love to make some nice bouncy chewy pure fish balls with no additive for the kids, just like how my mum likes to spend hours in the kitchen to make for us, all from scratch. But in reality, it's not easy for me, I simply couldn't afford the time to (but probably I would try making some, one day).

Then how about just omit the fish balls totally? There are so many other ingredients in the bowl of noodle soup (in this noodle soup, there are green leafy, fresh fish slices, carrot, mushroom, eggs, and toufu). Missing out some fish balls doesn't change how it taste. It is because fish balls are Xi Yu's favorite (and mine too!). It's one of the things that I use, to lure her into eating vegetables and other stuff that she doesn't really like. She would be really happy to see some fish balls in her dinner. A little girl who always eats her dinner willingly and not being (too) picky deserves to have some food that she likes, right?

So what I do instead, is, to do the thing that I love to do the most - READ LABELS! Oh yes, I have this big obsession of reading label on food items. I would look out for ingredients that make a certain food, and also compare between the products. Love doing it because it is so much fun, really.

I know what you are thinking. It's just fish ball, what harm can it does. For goodness sake, just eat it!!

True, eating some fish balls won't do much harm. But then, I would say - why not? If there are several choices out there, especially that they are placed on the same shelf, priced similarly, why not make a better choice?

Now, are you ready while I reveal what ingredients are used in producing these commercial fish balls?

These are all the fish balls that are available on the shelf of a busy supermarket (people must have thought am crazy to take photos of the fish balls, LOL!)

From top to bottom

- Yellow tail fish meat, water, salt, monosodium glutamate (=MSG)
- Fish meat, potato starch, salt, sugar, lactobacillus powder
- Fish meat, chicken meat, vegetables, tapioca starch, palm oil, salt, monosodium glutamate, calcium carbonate, sugar and sesame oil (this one is a bit different as it's the teochew type fish ball, which has some meaty filling in the middle)
- Fish meat, starch (corn, tapioca), salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate, garlic, disodium 5' ribonucleotides
- Surima (fish paste), starch, salt and MSG
- Fish meat, starch, salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate

As you can see, different brands make fish balls differently, as in their add in different ingredients to make the fish balls tastier or more bouncy.

When comes to labels, there is an unspoken rule (disclaimer: I heard/read this somewhere, but I couldn't clarify if this is indeed true for food labels, so give the benefits of doubt ya) - the ingredient appears in the first of the list is the main ingredient. For all these brand, good thing is they all use more fish meat than starch. Fish and starch are the main ingredients to form the fish ball. The rest are either flavoring, additives, or preservative (none in fish balls, which explains the short expiry date, and to be kept in fridge). To note that MSG is commonly used in almost all brands as it enhances the flavor effectively and it's cheap.

There may be other brands available in the supermarket, which could be better or worse quality than this. Just flip the package over, and it only takes you probably 10 seconds to read through the ingredient list.

Okay. I know you have one last question to ask - which brand do I buy?

No, no, no. I really, absolutely won't tell you even if you ask, e-mail, message or PM me :-) Do your own work and judge for yourself. Have fun!


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Little violist in da house

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Hao Re requested to learn violin sometime back in early 2013. We weren't sure if he was serious about it or not, or just curious about violin, so we waited for a while.

He asked to learn piano when he was 3+ years old, and we let him try out, but he dropped out after 2-3 months. He was probably too young back then to attend a 1-to-1 piano lesson. He didn't or couldn't tell us why he didn't want to continue the lessons. I am no tiger-mum quality (my hub is even softer than me), so we just let him stop after confirming that's what he wanted. 

When he asked to learn violin, we took it seriously. The hub said when a child asked to learn a certain musical instrument, we parents should take it seriously. Though we didn't agree to it immediately. It was a few months since he first asked for it, that I finally did some google search and made some phone calls, and got him a trial lesson in a violin school. 

He took it well at the trial class (and liked the teachers). And he was very, very sure he wants to play violin. We signed him up and bought him a violin. All ready to embark on his new journey!

Fast forward to 9 months later. 

He took his ABRSM Grade 1 violin exam on the 06th March 2014. And he passed the exam! We just knew about the result yesterday, on the 30th March 2014. We couldn't be happier because, it's so expensive to let him sit for the exam, imagine all the hard earned money went down the drain, LOL!

Last minute practice, 10 min before the exam, in front of his music school

Seriously. We were not that very sure that he was ready for Grade 1. When the principle suggested that he should register for ABRSM Grade 1, together with some of his classmates in September 2013, that's when he only attended 4 months of classes. We thought it's too rush. But since we are no expert, and know nothing about the exam, we just went ahead to register him for the exam (which one needs to register 6 months ahead). 

Like I said, I am of no tiger-mum quality. And me and my hub decided that we want him to appreciate music, enjoy learning violin. So we let him take the lead. As in he decides when to practice, when not to. On a good week, he practices every day. On a so-so week, he practices 2-3 times a week. And on a totally playful mood week, he practices none. The 2 weeks before the exam, with a bit of my encouragement (read, nagging), I managed to convince him that he should practice everyday. And we also let him attend some extra classes just to get his basic right. 

Good thing is, despite the lack of practices, his teachers have not complaint about him not able to catch up with the rest (he attends the classes in group setting). So we are (or rather, I am) happy to let him play the violin as per his mood. Though, I must admit, I did and I do want to try to be a little more strict on his schedule on weekday nights, but I just couldn't do it, yes, I try. I mean, how could I possibly able to drag him away from his Lego building fun, right? And there is my laziness saying no to a strict weekday night schedule. 

At least, he is very willing to go to his weekly class, till now. He has not refused going to his violin class so far. And when he is there, he does pay full attention and he can remember what's the teachers teach.

So, at the end, he made it! He got a pass. A few points short to get a merit. It doesn't bother us if he got a merit or a distinction or not, we just hope for a pass. And for Hao Re? He doesn't really know that he had gone through an exam! Not joking! He didn't feel any stress about the exam, and he actually enjoyed the exam. And he thought he learned the 3 exam pieces for a concert performance, keeps asking us when is the concert, haha! 

What's really matter to us now, is, he confirms, very, very sure, that, after the exam, he would want to continue to learn violin till he is very good with it, can play many, many nice songs with his violin, including the "Let it go" song in the Disney movie, Frozen, he said. LOL!

Us as his parents? Of course we will give him our full support as we always do. Way to go, son!

p/s: Until today, he didn't know/understand what's exam. He thought he's going to perform the 3 songs in a concert, LOL! True story. 

[Note - his exam pieces are:
List A: Mattachins (Arbeau)
List B: The Boat to Inverie (Edward Huws Jones)
List C: Russia - Gopak: No. 5 from Travel Tunes (Margery Dawe)]
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What a brother/sister is for

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Although our two children don't fight often, they still fight, unavoidably. I mean, children are children, right? It must have been something wrong if they don't fight at all. So far, they have not got into physical fighting yet, it's the usual snatching toys, fighting for attentions, etc. Yes, occasionally they do beat each other with hand, or pinch, or whatever thing they are trying to do. Whoever got defeated, or sometimes, the one who started it, would come to the adult immediately to report, so a "real fight" between the two has not happened, yet.

Those kind of small little happenings like beating and pinching and snatching, shouting and screaming, and making the other party cries, these kinds happen almost every day! I repeat - EVERY . SINGLE . DAY! Since no one gets hurt badly, we try not to step in nowadays and let them solve the conflict on their own. We only intervene when necessarily.

We consider ourselves lucky, very lucky, to not to have to deal with sibling rivalry much, don't you think? When they were younger, there was no beating or pinching even, the big brother dots on the little sister to bits, and the younger sister sees her big brother as an idol, it's all peace back then. 

Nowadays, only when we are really, really, really, really, really lucky, that is when both of them are in a very good mood, not only that there is not beating or shouting or quarreling, in contrast, they enjoy each other so much, so much so that they are holding hands, and hugging and kissing, and talking, and pretend-playing, and eating and drinking, and taking a bath, playing, etc, all day long, morning and night, at home and out.

Just like this particular day. There was not a single second that they make each other annoyed or sad. Not at all. There is no negative thing happened on this day. They play so well together that I couldn't stop smiling inside, and out :-)

Sharing a bottle of "Kickapoo" at the cafe at the Army museum after watching "The Peebody and Shermann" movie at the Singapore Discovery Centre



Read a book together at the library


Doing the crafts painting at the shopping centre


Fixing a puzzle together - team work speeds up the fixing process tremendously


Hide and seek with mummy - team work again so they can find mummy faster, they said

I also secretly praying and hoping and wishing more days are like this. Well, to be honest, if I am able to keep my cool, and stay calm throughout the day without scolding them, they automatically would behave better! So I can't just hope, I must try harder to keep my cool - slow down, relax and just enjoy them!

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What does fever tell you?

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{This post was originally posted on the 10th October 2010 (what a special date!). I have amended it slightly and re-post it today, on the 24th March 2014}

What would you do if your kid has developed a fever, say at 38-39 degC?

A. Bring him to see doctor immediately.
B. Feed him a dose of paracetamol or ibufen that you have at home from the previous doctor visit.
C. Don’t give medicine but to sponge him and monitor closely.
D. Don’t do anything except monitor him closely.
E. It’s okay, he would be fine, just leave him alone, like nothing happens.

An accessory that almost every family with young children has at home

Chances are, most parents would choose either do A or B. A small fraction of parents might choose C, a smaller fraction of parents would do D. And a small, small fraction of parents in Singapore, and probably Malaysia and the rest of the countries in this region would do E. What say you?

And the correct answer is - all five answers are correct answers! There is no right or wrong, even if you get the professional advise from GP or PD, I would bet every doctor would advice differently, depending on a lot of factor. But I think to understand why a kid (or an adult) develop a fever is important, to help a parent make that decision.

Here comes some facts.

#1 - Fever is not an illness! Fever tells you that the body or the immune system is responding to some “invader” (either bacteria, virus or fungus). It is a tell sign that some pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) have entered the body, whereby the immune system activates its defense mechanism by detecting the antigen (part of the "invader"), and thus send a signal to the brain to regulate the body temperature. This happens either immediately or within a few hours when the body is exposed to an antigen. This is normal immunity a person is born with and is the initial response by the body to eliminate microbes and prevent infection.

#2 - Fever is a respond of the body in order to fight with the bugs. So fever is beneficial, up to a certain level:-

1. Fever increases the environmental temperature above the optimum growth temperature for many microorganisms. Hence, the body’s defenses have a better chance of removing all the harmful microorganisms when the growth of the microorganisms is slowing down at higher temperature.

2. Fever leads to the production of heat shock proteins that are recognized by some T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells), resulting in the production of inflammation-promoting cytokines.

3. Fever increases the rate of enzyme reactions, and speeding up metabolism within the body. An elevation in the rate of metabolism can increase the production and activity of phagocytes, speed up the multiplication of lymphocytes, increase the rate of antibody and cytokine production, increase the rate at which leukocytes are released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, and speed up tissue repair. However, too high of a body temperature may cause damage by denaturing the body’s enzymes.

#3 - Let the fever runs. For most cases of fever, it’s actually better for the body to have a higher temperature so that the immune system will be at its optimum and thus fight off the bugs naturally, without any intervention of medicine. Most of the time, fever will subside after 24 to 48 hours. If the fever is due to a viral infection, the temperature usually goes higher, sometimes close to or more than 40 degC. As long as you monitor your child closely that he is not too lethargic, make sure he has plenty of fluid intake, sponge him when necessary, and you are confident in what you are doing, most kids are able to fight off a fever in 1-2 days.

However, you have to be very careful, and you should take the necessary action (e.g., bring the kid to the doctor, or feed him a dose of fever medicine) when:

1. He is having high fever (>38.5C) for prolong hours (>24-48 hours), and the fever has never gone down during the period. Usually the body is smart enough to regulate the body temperature, so in a normal case, temperature would go up and down. A persistence fever keeps at a constant temperature, say 39 degC, is more worrying than the fever shooting up to 40 degC but going down to 38 degC in the next hour or so.

2. He becomes abnormally inactive or lethargic. Kids who run a fever usually would get a little bit lethargic, but he should be well enough to perform the usual activities.

3. He refuses to drink water/fluid and shows signs of dehydration (dry and red lips, sunken eyes, decrease urine output, etc).

4. If the kids are younger than 12 months old. Our PD always advises us to be very careful with young kids, as their immune system is less developed.

#4 Fever doesn't "damage the brain". Some said high fever would “damage the brain”, it is a myth. I think it means that the child could be having fits when the temperature goes too high, or being dehydrated. The fever itself really does no harm to the body or the brain. But dehydration is a very serious thing, and it could indeed lead to the damage of the brain! So knowing how to monitor the kids for signs of dehydration is important, as well as making sure the intake of fluid.

#5 Fever medicine does not kill the germ. Fever medicine (the most popular are the paracetamol aka the pink colour liquid, and the ibufen aka the orange colour liquid) does not help to treat the disease at all, rather it actually works against the immune system. The medicine sends a message to the brain and (kind of) lie to the brain that the body does not need to have a higher temperature, so the body temperature is regulated to be lower. In a way, it may prolong or delay the recovery process, as the body cannot fight with the microorganisms as effectively as it would at a higher temperature, as explained above. Fever medicine only helps to bring down the temperature temporarily, it doesn't make the temperature goes away, and does nothing to help the immune system in fighting off the bugs.

So now, what would you do if your toddler is having a fever, say at 38 degC?

A. Bring him to see doctor immediately.
B. Immediately feed him fever medicine that you have at home from the previous doctor visit.
C. Don’t give medicine but to sponge him and monitor closely.
D. Don’t do anything except monitor him closely.
E. It’s okay, he would be fine, just leave him alone.

Did you choose the same answer as before you read this post?
Or,did you choose a different answer after reading this post?

I hope you have chosen the best answer for your kids, as mummy knows best, she really does!

Dr Mummy
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Best thing the kids said

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During bedtime reading last night, we came across the word "material". 

Kids: "What is material?"

Me: "Material is something we use to make into something else, like glass, paper, wood. For example, the material for this book is paper, paper is the material to make this book."

Kids: "Oh..... Mama, then you are also a material."

Me: "Oh? Why?"

Kids: "Because you give us love! So you are the material for love!"


************************************************
It's moment like this that makes my heart totally melted. It made me feeling so good, believing in myself that I must have done something right doing my parenting duties, to make them think that mummy = love or love = mummy :-)

I came across a parenting article shared on FB, and it is concluded that as such "他们应该了解,他们永远是我们心里的第一位,而且我们真心爱和他们一起共度美好时光。" (They should know that they are always at the top priority in our hearts, and we parents love them unconditionally and enjoy spending time with them).

We know that they love us. They know that we love them. That's all what we wish for.
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Lego man to Lego Master

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Hao Re was finally allowed to open his new Lego set (one his birthday presents, thanks to whoever gotten that for him) after 2 months. He asked me so many times that he wanted to open the new set. Am pretty amazed (of myself, that is) that we managed to keep it unopened for 2 months, considering that we didn't hide it, LOL!

Well, anyway. This new The City set, Hao Re finished building it in less than 2 hours.

I think this boy is really good with these small plastic bricks.

And then suddenly he looked up and told me "Mama, we don't need to buy any more Lego sets, because I don't need to look at instructions, I am a Lego Master already!"

And so this newly self declared Lego Master (youngest apprentice, maybe) have moved on to build things out of his imagination. He is indeed very good, he thought true every design and even built with moving parts!

Creation by the  new Lego Master

Lego Man (Boy) has promoted to become a Lego Master, though self declared one :))
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A very last minute Hong Kong trip

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Hello, people! Sorry, been missing for a week.

We have been away and back again. This time we made a short trip, a 5D4N trip to Hong Kong. It's really so, so, so last minute! How last minute? Well, I only bought the air ticket 3 days before the departure date :-p 

About 10 years ago, I used to be all panicky when my hub suggested to watch a movie in the afternoon without giving me prior notice, at least 24 hours hours, or 48 hours, the more the better. It's real story, not joking. I just couldn't do things that were not planned out. But now, we traveled out of the country with 2 kids at the last minute, without any plannning. And guess what, we survived, or rather, I survived! 

It's all because my dear hub gonna attend a meeting in Hong Kong. I jokingly mentioned that how I wish we could tag along. And he replied, sure, why not. So the next day, I got the air tickets booked out for the 3 of us and ready to go! 

One good thing about going for a very last minute trip is that there is nothing to prepare for, no itinerary to plan, no research to be done. Just pack and go, literally. Lucky for us is that the meeting is at Hong Kong, it's a city that is very kind to visitors and a city that has great entertainment for the kids (read: Disneyland) and a city that we had visited twice prior to this trip. So it's all good. No panic attack.  

Luggage packed just the night before. Yes, we always travel very light (a cabin size luggage and the kids are allowed to bring a book and a toy with them in their own bag). This' everything for the 4 of us, for 5D4N, including a piece of jacket for each person :-) 

We were so lucky that we were managed to fly with got on an A380 air craft, that's our first time experience! Though it's nothing so special about it, except the staircase, except it has an upper deck. The kids didn't even wanna take a look at the upper deck. They were glued to the screen as soon as they sat down, even before the entertainment system was switched on. With kids this age, traveling on an air plane is zero challenge. They have their entertainment system, they eat when food is served, they go toilet when the need arises, and they sleep when they tired (which is never). And we parents need not do anything, just enjoyed a movie or two of our own choice, and some sleep. Peace!

On board an a SQ A380 air craft


We arrived at the hotel at Tsim Sha Tsui at about 2pm. The room was not ready until 4pm (the receptionist told us they were preparing for a "large" room for us) so we went for our late lunch at a local cha can teng (茶餐厅), aka cafe nearby. When we got the key and opened the door, oh gosh, the room is so tiny! Hardly have any space to walk and it can only fit a queen size bed and nothing else. Again, the kids were not bothered at all, even though they ended up have to sleep on the carpetted floor on the duvet (really, no joking). Guess we couldn't expect much as it's at the prime area and we don't have to pay for it, haha. 

p/s: Oh the good thing about this hotel is they provide a handset, that comes with unlimited local and international calls, as well as unlimited data access! How cool is that! Probably it's a common thing here in Hong Kong? Though we only used it for the map and travel guide functions, and didn't use it for logging in to our social media accounts (so proud of ourselves!). The hotel also provides a high speed wireless when we are inside the hotel.

Took a rest and we walked to the Star Avenue area. Paid a short visit to the Arts Museum and was not impressed. Nothing to talk about since we only spent about 1 hour there and the experience was not great. Took a stroll at the Star Avenue and then we wrapped up the day with a dinner at another local cafe. Food is not bad, though we just randomly walked in to any of the cafe, that looks okay to us, since we didn't do any reading on which cafe or restaurants to dine in. Randomness is good, sometimes. 

The next day, we met up with a dear friend of mine for dim sum brunch. A friend that I haven't seen for like 17 years! We were linked up all thanks to the FB (social media is not all bad too, sometimes). Had a good chat with her and her hubby, and the kids and my hub have a good time chatting with them too. 

Walked pass the Kowloon Park from our hotel to the restaurant. It's a pretty nice park right in the middle of the bustling city


Then it's another aimless day. My friend suggested we took the kids on a ferry ride to the Hong Kong Island. So we did, for like S$1+ per person, why not. While we were walking, we bumped into a Organic Farm Festival thingy. And the kids had a chance to do canvas painting (with a nominal fee, for the canvas painting and some pure organic juice tasting) at an outdoor setting, which was 15 degC with mild chill wind blowing. What an experience! Randomness is so cool. No plan/itinerary is awesome. 

As usual, we didn't help the kids nor made any suggestions/comments. They were given total freedom on what the paint, what colors to use

We were so lucky! Hub went to the toilet at the other side of the building and saw the electric bus, aka the public transport run on electric. It's definitely a must try. We got on a bus, again, totally random, not knowing where it's heading to. We got down after 15-20 minutes or so, after about 10 stations, when we saw a MTR station. See, no planning's needed.

Took the MTR and then we went back to the Kowloon Island and we got off at one of the stations. This time round, it's planned. We wanted to bring the kids to the "Gold Fish Street", it's a street with lots of shops selling fishes, that is those commercial aquarium shops, lots of time. It's an eye opener for all of us. Even rare species are sold, so rare that they were some we saw in the River Safari. 

"Gold Fish Street", so uniquely Hong Kong!

Had a early dinner at a cafe, think it's quite a famous one, not quite sure, and the food is good! Kids eat reasonably well during this trip whatever we ordered for them. Then we walked down the streets. Street after street. The kids were very cooperative. We must have walked for like almost 2 hours or more! The kids did complain though, not about the walking, but about the amount of second hand smoke that we had to breath in, really yuck. Hao Re told us it's better off to go holiday at Cameron Highland as people don't smoke there (not true, but definitely to a much lesser degree). And there was another smell - smelly tofu 臭豆腐!We, except the hub, were so disgusted by the smell, which was sold at like almost every street! The kids said 臭死人啦, which I certainly agree. The hub, oh, he actually loves eating it, though he didn't at the end, or he would stint the tiny hotel room that we would be sleeping in, LOL! 

Best way to see the people, experience the culture - walk, walk and walk!

Went back hotel and let them enjoy watching the cartoons on the TV, something they didn't get to watch at home. And we adults got some "free" time to chill.  

It's really a quite enjoyable day exploring Hong Kong on foot, without any planning. Couldn't have expected any better :-)

That's wrapped up Day 2. The next 2 days were all reserved for the Disneyland! Yes, I am a Disneyland fanatic, not the kids :-) That will be another blog post, or if I ever got to write that. 

(yes, if you have noticed, these are the photos that I posted on the Instagram. We didn't want to lug the DSLR along, though we did bring it to HK, so all photos are taken on our phones. And since I have already done up collages, I just made use of them and save me some times re-doing, hehe!)
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Cameron Highlands, (one of) my hometown

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Not many people know this. I spent my first 7 years of my life up the mountain, at a small town at Cameron Highlands (CH). My dad worked there for many years and hence our family lived there till he was transferred to where we currently are. So CH can be considered as one of my hometowns, right?

But then I couldn't say I am familiar with the place. I am really not. Because 1) we didn't go there often, the very last time we went was 3 years ago, and 2) CH develops fast and develops a lot! It's a very popular tourist destination now, especially for the locals, to escape the scorching heat!

(p/s: For those who plans to go to visit CH, please be reminded that the traffic could be very bad on weekends, and very, very, very bad on public holidays and school holidays! Main reason being it has only one-lane for each direction and the road is narrow. So when there are more cars than the usual day, it just couldn't take it!)

There was a new road going up to CH from Simpang Pulai (one of the North-South Highway exit leading to Ipoh). This new road was in operation since about 3-4 years back. It is so much better than the old road, which connects from Tapah. If you have been travelling on the old road before, you would sure agree with me on how winding and how nausea/vomit-inducing the road can be. And it's challenging for the drivers too. This new road is a lot more gentle, smooth uphill drive. Not many sharp turns and the road are wider, and in better condition. But you need to drive a further 30 minutes or so on the highway (i.e., from Tapah to Simpang Pulai) if you come from KL, and if you want to use the new road than the old road. To me, the extra 30 min is totally worth it, especially if you travel with kids (think cleaning up the kids and the car from all the puke, yikes!). And also you gonna miss the waterfall. Oh, another plus point for using the new road - detour to Ipoh, it's a food heaven! Some people even based in Ipoh, and go up to CH as a day trip.

Enough about tourist information, LOL!

We went to CH last week. To attend my cousin wedding! My dearest baby cousin's wedding!

I was very excited about the trip and the wedding. It's a wonderful time for family gathering. Everyone turned up, up to 3 generations (most of us started family late, haha, so not yet the 4th generation). And the nice thing is my cousin booked the Jim Thompson Cottage for all of us to stay together, and also as the wedding venue. It's a very new accommodation for rent in CH. And it's such a beautiful place!

The bungalow that we stayed in was dated back to the 1940', I think. It was name after Jim Thompson, who disappeared when he went for a pre-dinner stroll and never to be found. Rumour has it that he might have been attacked by wild tiger. There are two main bungalows, Moonlight and Sunlight. We and our relatives stayed at the Moonlight bungalow (it's huge, it has 9 rooms of different sizes and fits 30 or so people!). Relatives of the bride stayed at the Sunlight bungalow.

Moonlight at the top and Sunlight at the bottom. It was love at first sight for the kids. They shouted - chimney! 

It's the first time for the kids to see real chimneys, first time seeing one that is not from the books. They ran around the house and the surrounding when we first arrived and asked excitedly "Can we stay here forever and ever?". Haha! We wish, kids, we wish.

It's very near to the Strawberry Park Hotel, and the Smoke House. It's up on a mountain. You need a car. This place only provide accommodation (standard hotel room stuff), and nothing else, meaning no hotel lobby, no restaurants, no nothing. So you need to be self supplied. It's a very short drive, 10 min or so without traffic, to the nearest town, Brinchang and Tanah Rata. It's not bad if you have a car. You can pretty much get every thing you need in the towns.

Sorry. Side tracked again.

Back to the wedding. It's a first time experience for most of our relatives, to stay in such place, and to stay under one roof, and to attend this kind of ang-moh style-ish wedding.The kids got to play together. And the adults caught up with lots of talking. Nope. No wi-fi provided. So if you have no data plan, it's great. Put your phone aside and spend more time with the actual persons.

Wedding was on Saturday. 01.03.14 (一生一世). With the nice decoration, nice backdrop, nice weather, and nice people. Everything is perfect! It's such a beautiful wedding!

Early morning of Saturday. Getting ready!

It started with the Chinese customary procedures. Bridegroom went from the Moonlight to fetch the bride from the Sunlight bungalow, so convenient, haha! Tea ceremony at both sides. And then it's the highlight of the day - romantic outdoor ring exchange ceremony!

The set up is really pretty, with the faraway mountains as backdrop. Already feeling romantic :-)

Another new experience for the kids - Xi Yu is the flower girl while Hao Re is the ring bearer! The flower boy is my nephew. See the different of size between Xi Yu and my little nephew, but they are only one month apart, haha! Xi Yu was the happiest because it's not very often she got to dress up nicely. And she even put on make up, and was gifted the very nice, very special flowery head-ring that my cousin made for her! I asked if she likes to be put on make up, she said YES! Well, too bad, this Mama has nothing for her. But fret not. My sister and my cousins are all very ready and happy to "beautify" her. She really is a angel :-) Hao Re is very steadily with his duty, and we have received many comments saying he is such a handsome little man. Yes, he is :-)

Flower girl/boy and ring bearer performs their job dutifully :-)

While for me, I was tasked to give a little speech for the newly wed. I so wanted to cry. It's very touching to see my baby cousin getting married! He is always the little cousin who liked me to carry him whenever he saw me, he literally climbed up onto me, LOL! Now he is all grown up and gotten married! Well, at the end, of course I hold my tear. I am very happy to be able to witness this and to bless them with my best wishes! Oh, I was also given the very special task to announce "it's time to exchange your ring", and made them kiss in front of all the guests :-)

The handsome groom and pretty bride! They make a great pair of husband and wife, I am very sure! They knew each other since A-level and been together since!

We got to visit a garden before the wedding and visit a tea plantation. So it's really a perfect trip for us!

Thank you very much, my dear baby cousin CT and SO, for arranging such a wonderful event. My sincerest wishes for you two. Remember - compromise is the key to keep your relationship healthy :-) 祝你们永浴爱河,白头偕老!
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Why I Breastfed for....... ONE WEEK

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Don't laugh (what? Breastfed for one week only?!).
Don't judge (what? This bad mum! Don't wanna breastfeed, what kind of mum she is?!).

Yes, you read it right, I had total breastfed Hao Re, my first born, for a grand total of ONE WEEK! Now, you might be thinking, what's worth sharing about the one week or who am I to talk about breastfeeding since I had only breastfed for one week. One week is like so pathetically short, and so not deserved a mention, isn't it? Yes, it can be seen as a failure to many, looking at those mums who breastfeed their kids for one year, two years, three years or even more. But not to me! Whenever I was asked, I would hold my head high up and answer proudly that I had breastfed Hao Re for one week. As long as we try our best, we are the best, aren't we?

There are lucky mums who can breastfeed their babies without any problems. Though I knew of some mums (real life examples!) who had to go through a very tough time, put in a lot of effort, before their breastfeeding journey became smooth sailing. Those really really lucky mums, they cannot and won't be able to understanding why mums like us are not able to breastfeed. Because to them, most of them who has never faced any problem with milk supply, their milk factory works so wonderfully well, it's like they just need to press a button and the milk would flow as much as they want to. Sure, there are other issues like over supply, milk leakage, sore nipple, engorgement, mastitis, etc, I won't go there because I am totally not qualified to talk about that. 

Let me tell you why I wanna breastfeed. 

I have never doubted about the benefits of breastfeeding. Never. Not a single second. In fact, I truly, truly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding. Like any new mum-to-be, I read up every article, every magazine, every book that I could possibly get my hands on. I attended the prenatal classes. I joined in forum so to learn from other mums. I bought the breast pump, bought the breast pad, etc etc, to gear myself up for the exciting duty ahead. I was very confident that I can do it because colostrum started to build up around week 35 or so (my gynae checked my breast during one of the routine check ups and she told me so). I thought, great, my breasts were all ready.

The day came, on the 04.01.2008. After a long but otherwise smooth natural delivery, I was not tired at all and manage to latch on Hao Re in the delivery ward, as soon as he has been cleaned up and checked. I couldn't wait to latch him, though I was not exactly sure how, so just tried to apply what I had learnt from the prenatal class. Once I was pushed back to the room, I latched him as often as I can, or whenever the nurse asked me to. I really wasn't tired, I didn't need a lot of rest (I came down of the bed and took shower, including washing my hair, on the morning of the second day of my hospital stay as soon as the epidural had went off) so I can spend all my time on the baby. Because he cried a lot, the nurses said, so they pushed him to us very often, so ended up we kept him with us most of time since we were staying in one bedder. I insisted on total breastfeed, so I rejected their suggestion to give him some formula to supplement. I can do it, I told myself and my dear hubby supported my decision totally, without a single doubt.

So when the 3D2N "staycation" at the hospital had ended, we went home with our precious one. He is just so handsome, so perfect and we couldn't be happier to have our new bundle of joy. Everything was perfect.

Hao Re at Day 3. Do you notice how "yellow" he was? 


My mum came to help me during the first month. She did repeat time after time that the baby cried a lot and quite badly, as if he was very hungry. I stood very firm, I was very (over-) confident that I can produce sufficient milk for him. So I brushed her comment off by telling her that she didn't have to be worry, that I attended the classes and I learned how to breastfeed. And on the 5th day or so, I felt my breasts  hardened a little bit and I knew it must be that the milk started to flow in (and there was the only engorgement-ish feeling that I got, didn't happen ever again). So I insisted on total breastfeeding. My hubby started to lost confident (frustrated with the excessive crying), but he still supported my decision.

My mum had never breastfed though she has four children. She has inverted nipple and there was no support at all back then to teach her how to breastfeed with her condition. Her gynae just prescribed her with some medicine to stop the milk. She told me the engorgement pain on a solid hard rock breasts was a few times more than labour (and she went all natural birth with no pain killer or anesthesia of any sort). I don't think I can imagine how painful was that. Since my mum would not be the one who give me advise on breastfeeding, I could only rely on what I learned during the prenatal class.

But I forgot the fact my mum IS an experienced mum with 4 kids on her own, and also she had helped taking care of a few of her relative's kids. I shouldn't have just brushed off her comments of the excessive crying, I really shouldn't.

Baby continued to cry a lot which made everyone tired and frustrated with the crying. It's quite bad that at one point, I just locked myself and the baby in the bedroom and did marathon non-stopping latching. Still, he cried. A lot. My hubby started to get very worry. He suggested that why not I tried pumping out. I was not willing to (as per the classes I attended, one should do latching as much and as long as she possibly can, and shouldn't offer bottle to avoid nipple confusion etc etc), but I gave in at the end. Because I was losing the confident myself. What I managed to pump out was a very, very pathetically small amount. Like 10-20ml after 30 minutes pumping on both breasts. The trainer in the prenatal class reminded the new mums, times and again, that insistence is the key. She said, every woman can breastfeed, every woman can do it as long as she can be insistence and persistence about breastfeeding. That's what I tried so hard to.

With the excessive latching and pumping, and the baby crying, and the lack of sleeping, I was so exhausted. I was very near to a full blown depression. We didn't realise if there was anything wrong with the baby because except the crying he was alright. We just concluded that he should be a crying baby growing up and we should be prepared for that. We were due for a post-natal check up at the gynae (me) and the peadiatrician (baby) at the end of week one, so we went for the checkups.

When the peadiatrician first looked at the baby, he immediately knew something was very wrong with the baby. He made a few phone calls right away to arrange baby to be hospitalised. He then told us calmly that baby looked unusually yellow, and he looked pretty lethargic, his eyes sunken, and his diaper has a dark yellow to orange colour. Most likely he could be dehydrated and so making his yellow-ish (due to jaundice) even more obvious.

We were so shock! As we didn't expect to hear it at all, since it should be just for a post natal checkup. We were forever thankful for the scheduled post-natal checkup, imagine if we didn't bring him to a peadiatrician until a later time! He was sent to the ward, and it frightened us that he was so badly dehydrated that even the blood had thickened. They couldn't draw any blood from him for testing.

He was on drip. Could you believe this! A one week old boy was put on drip because this careless mum didn't know the baby didn't get enough milk from her!!! I didn't know how to describe how I felt at that time. It's like I totally went blank, and what happened around me was so unreal. Heard him crying so badly when the nurses pinned him down to insert the tubing etc, it totally broke my heart into a million pieces. But I have the pediatrician to be thankful for, he remained calm and he assured us baby is gonna be alright, that helped a lot, else I would had been so panicked that I passed out.

His jaundice worsen because of the dehydration. His jaundice was so high that he broke the record! The doctor ordered a 4-way phototherapy for jaundice (usually it's just 1- or 2-, or sometimes 3- for those with very high jaundice). A few nurses discussed and quickly set up the special 4-way treatment and my almost naked poor little was being put in the small bed and received the phototherapy and the drip. The doctor had even ordered for a blood matching to be done in case he needed blood transfusion.

Thanks goodness that he was much better after a few hours of drip. Though it did take longer than usual for him to clear out his jaundice totally (adding the fact that he is G6PD deficient). No transfusion was done, thankfully.

I could have continued to latch or pump out the milk while he was hospitalised, right? No, nope, not at all. Because my breasts were totally turned off.  It was an immediate turning off. I didn't have to do anything with my breasts. The breasts just stopped producing milk, just like that. No more milk. Finished. No need to pump, no need to latch. No engorgement, the breast didn't even hardened. The breasts just got turn off totally. Psychologically, I didn't feel like continuing breastfeeding at all as I didn't want to put my baby at risk again.

So that ended my one week total breastfeeding experience. I have to say, positively, that at least, I gave him the "golden juice", aka the colostrum! One week worth of colostrum probably had helped built up his strong immunity in the early years! So to me, the one week struggling, for me, is still worthwhile to go through (less the baby suffering part).

Hao Re at one month old. He was much alert and he always smiles!


I am sharing my story is not to discourage you from breastfeeding, not at all. I totally support breastfeeding and I would urge every new mum to give it a try. But just don't get too stress up on breastfeeding because of the peer pressure. It is really okay to feed them formula milk and they still grow up fine. It's evidence with Hao Re, who has grown up so excellently in every aspect even though he grows up drinking formula milk since week one. But make sure you try, just try and you would know, and to experience it to make your motherhood completes.

I certain did try. I tried again with my second born, Xi Yu. It was an immediate hit on with my girl, I popped her to my breast and she just sucked sucked and sucked, and slept slept and slept, no one complained she was a cry baby (which she became one later, while Hao Re didn't cry much from week one onward till now, how ironic!). With the comparison done between these two babies, I can say that how naturally a baby can latch on properly and suck play a very critical part in deciding whether or not the breastfeeding would be a successfully one.

I successfully total breastfed her for 8.5 months. The most common question that I got is since my first experience was so bad, why would I still wanna try breastfeeding the second time, and what did I do to make the second a successful one?

Well. Like I said. I have never doubted the benefits of breastfeeding. And like we always say, every baby is different. It is so unfair if I didn't try on my second child solely based on the bad experience I had with my first one. I was very sure I would have to try.

During the 18 months (Hao Re and Xi Yu was 18+ months apart), I had made some very good friends through the Singapore Motherhood Forum. They all shared generously their genuine experience with breastfeeding and other parenting experience. These genuine sharing is so crucial to me. I learned that it is not that every mum can just press a button and the milk supply is under control. Only very few are that lucky. Most of the mums, they succeeded in breastfeeding because they spent a lot of effort to ensure that they would be able to breastfeed. Not like what the trainer said during the prenatal class or those written in book or magazine, that you just do this and that, follow this and that, you would be okay. It is not like that, there are problems to solve, issues to face. These group of friends were so kindly helping me to troubleshoot when I was in the early phases of breastfeeding Xi Yu. I just threw them any question that I had, any question at all, they replied me immediately, yes, not kidding, they were so supportive (because they knew I failed the first time) that they were like on standby mode all the time. They helped me to troubleshoot and they gave me suggestions and most important of all, they LISTENED to me patiently. Thank you my dear friends if you are reading this.

Mums like me. Our milk factory is of low production. Although I had total breastfed for 8.5 months, I had never wet my shirt, meaning I had no milk leaking issue (a happy one I guess), and so I had not used a single piece of breast pad! I had never had let down, really, I didn't know how's that felt like. I had never had anything extra to store. Whatever I pumped out (after went back to work) was just enough for the next day, not a single drop more. Breasts hardly hardened. No engorgement. When I decided to stop at 8.5 months, I didn't have to do anything. Just stopped pumping. Then stopped latching. And then the milk factory had ceased production completely. Just like that. Baby girl didn't have much issue to stop either, probably she was sick of the slow flow of milk, haha!

But hey, look at is positively, this means that if I can total breastfeed my girl for 8.5 months with such low milk supply, it's really doable for everyone! You just need to get the right help from the right people. Forget about all those so-called experts, unless if you are lucky to find one who is genuinely care for you. I would say a group of experienced breastfeeding mums give you the best support!

Two more things I wanna say before I end this post, yes, I know, it's been a ultra long one. Bear with me.

Remember this - DO NOT ever comment (without knowing the story behind the mum) that formula is such a bad thing to give to your baby. DO NOT EVER SAY THAT. Saying this is like putting one big handful of salt onto a very raw wound 在伤口上撒盐 . Yes, you can say how research studies have shown or proven this and that, and so formula is bad for baby. You have the freedom to say this, anytime. But to say this to a mum who has tried but failed breastfeeding, that is the worst of worst thing to say. Yes, you are proud of your breast milk and want to be an advocate for breastfeeding, sure. But please, please focus on promoting breastfeeding but not condemning formula, there is really no need to do so.

Ultimately, what's the best thing a mum can give to her baby? Is it breastmilk? As many campaigns have said so? Definitely not. It is LOVE, the pure love that you have for your baby, that's the best for your baby.

Best of luck to all mums-to-be who wish to try out breastfeeding and thumbs up to all mums who attempts (successful or not) breastfeeding!

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This post is written for the "WHY I BREASTFEED FOR........" blog train ran by MadPsychMum. There will be a total of 24 mums from the Singapore Mom Bloggers community to share with the story behind every breastfeeding mum, so make sure you come back here and click on the button below to read more stories!


The next mum on this blog train is Irene who blogs at Singapore Mom Blog's.

Irene, mother of 3 who started the breastfeeding journey clueless, now have a happily-ever-after tale to share after experiencing it 3 times and over. Having "failed" the first time over wrong advice, "forcefully" stop the second time over "social norms", This third time mom is still going strong at 18 months because she is now educated, empowered and will take no more sh*t! Catch her story tomorrow at Singapore Mom Blog's and find out more.
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