Yes, I am a Stay-At-Home-Mother

The mind is all over the place.

Things to do. Words to read. Lists to write. Plans to lay out. Schedules to follow. Conversations to initiate. Issues to think about. Emails to respond to. Little bodies and minds to nourish.

Somehow, I managed to pull out this collection of photos from some of my recent Tweets, and place them here to make these ramblings more readable.


A stay-at-home-mother. I am one now, till the end of the year at least.

It is a privilege I relish. To have all the time to be with my children. To enjoy every baby chuckle, and endure every sleepless night.

Make no mistake, I know I really am doing this more for me than for them. Kids are adaptable and more resilient than we give them credit for, truly. I know they don't really need their mummy 24/7, even if Bubbles insists so, and offers to grow vegetables so that we can save money to live on one income :) Should I have chosen to work full-time, leaving them in the care of trustworthy caregivers, I am certain they would also flourish. Many families have done it that way, to beautiful outcomes.



But then I would have to hear about Bubbles' funny sayings second hand. Or watch Bun taking her first assisted steps on video. There would be less time for cuddles, flopping around on beds, and crazy singing at the top of our lungs.


Less time for comparing feet sizes while chuckling, trying out funky hairstyles, taking long, uninterrupted walks - twice a day. To pray with them. To hold their little hands. Less time to spare for all the things children simply need time to do. To spin long stories. To help them (help me) with chores. To learn grown-up things.

Perhaps they wouldn't come to me for comfort, or allow me to put them to bed. Maybe they wouldn't have memories of mummy being around for all those special times that they remember.



More importantly, there will be less opportunity to capture influencing moments. For just-in-time teaching, guiding, explaining. To show the wonderful, and to allay childish fears. To model values that I want them to adopt.

I lament about temper tantrums, the frazzled nerves from non-stop demands, and the constant blurry cloud in my mind from lack of sleep. I do. I do get grouchy, and roll my eyes. I do yearn to have more time for leisure.

But then I chose to do this. I chose to set aside these few critical years where it will be more about them than me. I chose, after sitting down with Roboman to work out our sums, and I need to remember. When remembering, I am glad I chose this. I am so every grateful that I can. Not without sacrifices, but still, an option.


And so, I cherish.

The days, the time, the experiences.

I wipe away tears and dole out hugs and kisses. They must know they are loved. No matter what. Not just by me, but by the family they belong to, and most of all, by their Father God.

Then I create sweet smells from the kitchen that will hopefully create beautiful imprints on their memories.


Linking up with The Playful Parents

Wordless Wednesday - For Little Feet


Shhh...Going Wordless with
Project Alicia
Sakura Haruka

Wordless Wednesday - A Fishcake Cake


Shhh...Going Wordless with 
Sakura Haruka
Mama to 4 Blessings 

---------------------------------------------------------------

Psst there's a giveaway going on! Win a pair of tickets to the Rise & Shine Carnival and enjoy a picnic with your family. There are loads of prizes and activities lined up.  
Share this photo and leave a comment! Contest ends Friday 22 Feb 5pm.

Flip for Joy Review & Giveaway

How sweet is this photo of Bubbles being read to by one of her second cousins? She was sitting so still and listening so attentively.
 
I posted an interview with Jiang Meiru of Flip for Joy recently, and am happy that this online bookstore is helping, in its own way, to instil the love of reading in children.

In the last couple of weeks, I was thrilled to explore 6 books/sets from Flip for Joy with my girls and would like to share my thoughts about them with you. There is one $30 e-gift card from Flip for Joy up for grabs, and you may first scroll to the bottom of this post to read about the giveaway if you wish!

1.  摇摆的虫子4册)
This is a set of small board books each with an attached finger puppet of an insect. Each puppet pokes through all the pages of a book, and Bun is really attracted to them. I would wriggle the puppets as I read the books to her.  I love it that these books are written in both English and Chinese, which makes them value for money. These pocket-sized books are also small and sturdy enough to be thrown into diaper bags for trips out! This set makes an excellent gift for young ones.

2.  迪士尼宝宝系 (6册)
It is hard to go wrong with Disney for kids, and this set of six board books prove it. If Bun was attracted to the finger puppets of the books above, I was drawn to the board quality and images of these books. These books are very well made, and the fiddle functions (as I call them!), with lift-the-flaps, mirrors, pull-outs etc, are of excellent quality - not the type that will easily fall apart as some books do. Soothing pastel shades are used throughout the books. The words in the book are written in a way that one will speak to a baby or a very young child. I found this charming, and admittedly picked up a couple of phrases to use when I talk to my children in Mandarin now. A great starter set for young children!

3. 点点多多系列一:在海滩、放风筝、玩游戏
Here are 3 out of 5 books from the 点点和多多 series. (Or Dot and Dash, as they are known in English). These books describe the characters in various fun and familiar situations - at the beach, flying a kite and playing a game. There are many touch and feel elements in the books, including cute pop-ups. The sentences used in the books are short and catchy. My children have many similar books in English, and I am glad they now have these Chinese ones too!

4. 顶级阅读系 (18册)
A Chinese reading series! I was so glad to receive this and that Bubbles enjoyed them. There are 18 books in total and they have been developed for young ones to learn to read. I found the hanyu pinyin provided very useful, as with the summary/quiz pages at the end of each chapter. The earlier books have simple summaries of key words, while the more advanced books feature quizzes like fill-in-the-blanks to reinforce new vocabulary covered. Key words also come with English translation - a feature I also found useful as a parent. Other Chinese reading sets I've seen are of fiction. This one features themes of everyday life, like the environment, occupations, and seasons. I found that quite a nice change and would definitely recommend this set!

5. 奇妙洞洞书:马戏团 *注音
This is a beautifully designed and colourful board book that I understand was translated from an Italian series. It describes various circus acts while introducing a colours. I have yet to read this to Bubbles as it is written in a poetic form and the truth is that I am not yet able to read this fluently enough to make this sound as beautiful as I believe it should be. Thankfully, this book comes with hanyu pinyin as well, and I am sure I'll be able to read this well enough soon with practice! We read lots of English books with rhymes and poems, so I do think this is a great addition to a child's bookshelf!

6. 数一数,亲了几下
We are fans of Karen Katz and therefore this book caught our eyes. In true Karen Katz style, this book had delightful illustrations and sweet wordings. It covers the numbers 1 to 10 by counting the number of kisses a mother gives her baby. I found Bubbles attracted to this book because of the familiarity of the illustrations. 
(books c/o Flip for Joy)

Receiving these recommended books from Flip for Joy made me a little more confident in Chinese book choices for my children. We sure do have quite a bit to work on as we don't speak much of the language at home, but we do try! Mummybean wrote a useful post about using an iPhone app to help with the reading of Chinese books to children. Roboman uses the Pleco app as we are on Android. If you are like us and sometimes have trouble reading Chinese characters, these apps are a godsend!


Flip for Joy is offering a $30 e-gift card (valid for 6 months) to one A Dollop of Me's reader!

If you would like a chance to win this card, leave a comment on this blog post telling us what you like about Flip for Joy, and your email address. We're giving extra chances for each Facebook "like" and Twitter follow. Just indicate your likes and follow in your comment!

This giveaway will end on Tuesday 5 March 11pm, Singapore time (GMT+8). Best wishes!

Links:
Flip for Joy Facebook
A Dollop of Me Facebook
A Dollop of Me Twitter

Happy Lunar New Year!


Oops, I've fallen off this blog the past week haven't I?

We've been busy celebrating the arrival of the new lunar year ;)



Bun took her first flight.
She was so very excited. I kept getting reminded to keep her under her seat belt, but boy, that was a tough thing to do!


Up in Malaysia, we feasted. Home-cooked goodness for every meal. True to form, I dived too quickly into my plate of kuih pie tee, forgetting to photograph them yet again.


We set off mini fireworks and played with sparklers. Kids, ours and our friends', loved these.

I did too - the one who never played with fireworks as a child.



We had such a grand time, and kept the kids up late a little too much that a bad flu bug unfortunately caught up with us. We sadly had to cancel the Singapore-leg of Chinese New Year visitations to recuperate. Perhaps we'll make up for it over the next few weekends.

Happy New Year everyone! May the Year of the Snake bring you and yours much joy and good health!

Kitchen Exploits - Tomato & Sweet Basil Chicken


Another chicken recipe? It suddenly occurred to me that it seems like we eat a lot of meat! We are actually quite fish people - Bubbles loves fish more than any other meat - but we cook fish so simply that it seems almost pointless to share my usual fish recipes! I have however, stumbled upon a roast salmon recipe that quite tickled our taste-buds. I'll write about that soon, I promise!

Back to the chicken recipe however, this one is really worth trying. It is so simple to do, and I particularly like how the chicken can be served in two very presentable ways. The original recipe was shared with me by my mother-in-law, who in turn picked it up from a church friend.

Making this only involves a seasoning of the meat and scattering of the other ingredients, before popping the whole lot into the oven. The taste of the meat is beautifully flavoured by the sweet basil leaves, tomatoes and whole cloves of garlic.

If hosting a small party, I would serve up whole chicken legs, with the condiments and gravy poured over it, paired with some choice carbs and vegetables.


For larger parties, I like to do this - mash up the cooked garlic cloves, tomatoes and sweet basil together with the cooking juices to make a sauce, shred the meat, and mix it all into cooked pasta. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve. The sauce is a light, garlicky one that aglio olio lovers will appreciate! I have done this a day or two before big parties - only the pasta needs to be cooked on the day itself. This dish has received its fair share of compliments from our guests!

Enjoy!


Tomato & Sweet Basil Chicken
8 chicken legs
salt & pepper
2 small red onions, chopped
1/2 cube chicken stock, crumbled (optional)
3 cups sweet basil leaves
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
10 garlic cloves, peeled 
 1 fresh chilli, finely chopped (optional)
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Season legs with salt and pepper.
3. Place halved cherry tomatoes in a baking tray in a single layer. 
4. Place chicken legs on top of the cherry tomatoes, also in a single layer.
5. Scatter onion, chicken stock, sweet basil, whole cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli all over the tray.
6. Drizzle olive oil all over (especially the chicken), and give everything a bit of a mix.
7. Bake in onion for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until chicken skin is crispy and meat cooked through. 
8. Serve shredded or whole (as in descriptions above).

A new look and a glance at the past

Have you noticed the blog's new look? It has been in the works for a while now, done during pockets of stolen time around my family's schedule. Writing blog posts took a back seat as designing this consumed me! These light, fresh colours with a touch of red appeal so much to the me today!


Before I talk more about the changes on the site, I would like you to join me in taking a look back at some of this blog's past headers. It was a walk down memory lane for me looking at these photo-based headers - the style I kept for a few years. I'm still font crazy, but choosing new ones each week is no longer feasible!

It dawned on me that I used to do these things a lot more: travel, dine out, take photos of my food, notice beautiful things and good design around me, and photograph (almost) everything. Looking at these photos, I remember taking time to soak in the surroundings of wherever I was, and tucking them away as memories via photographs. I could take time to eat, and go for random outings with a camera on hand.

My life is so different today, with my children (and thoughts of them) demanding so much of my time, attention and energy. Still, I am thankful, and glad for these memories.

If you have been a long time reader, which header do you remember?
If you are a new reader, which header below speaks to you?