A Round-Up

March has always been a hectic month for us. First of all, it contains both mine and the man's birthdays, and our wedding anniversary.

It is also when there is a 1 week school holiday in Singapore - and for us, a large part of this last week was about helping my kids get over their fevers/flu. This meant staying indoors - no playground (poor kiddos, and me!) and lots of enforced rest.

This year, I agreed to take on a few work projects, and one happened to fall on my birthday last week. I managed to complete it plainly through divine intervention. I slept less than 2 hours the night before, with the girls feverish, and Bun waking up every 45 minutes from her discomfort. Still, I somehow managed to be present, to listen with intent, and to facilitate to help deepen the discussions. I really do love my chosen work-work outside of home, and this experience has proven it to me yet again. It was an intense day which allowed for only one milk pump at lunch time. A horrible case of blocked ducts resulted, but it was worth it.

When the girls got better, we did random things like take them to the beach after a dinner at home. Bun slept the entire journey there and back (home-car-stroller-car-home), and Bubbles was so excited at the sight of the sea and sand despite how we could not see much as it was so dark. We do need to plan another beach holiday, as she keeps reminiscing about our Krabi trip!

I haven't had any energy to either experiment or photograph new dishes for Kitchen Exploits, although I would like to try making these delicious-looking cheesy meatballs, and have to start learning to make a new cake for Bun's first birthday in mid-May - maybe something pretty pink like this.

In other news, three people told me in the past week that Bun looks like a doll :) Well, this little doll now clearly says Mama, Papa, Merc (milk), and Meow Meow (for cat, don't ask). She has started "walking" with a push walker, and has become somewhat of an expert at crawling up stairs. She waves enthusiastically at all babies, children and animals, and often adorably rests her little head on me as a loving gesture. There are six pearly whites in her small mouth, and I think two more are showing signs of wanting to peek out. Her favourite things to chew on are footwear, cardboard and her toothbrush (in that order).

Because of Bun's activeness and need for less sleep, I find her much harder to care for than Bubbles at this age. But...and I say this with a sigh...she really gets away with her bad sleeping and eating habits because she is so darn cute.

And so, my friends, I think April is coming up. Too quickly!

Our 6th. Happy Anniversary to Us!

It was our 6th wedding anniversary over the last weekend.

We enjoyed a beautiful dinner, and took in the view of the Singapore skyline.

Pink Champagne. My first taste of bubbly in a long time.

A deep, meaningful conversation. One that is long overdue.

We just needed the time, and the space. 

We talked and talked.

We found ourselves on the same page, once again. Despite the differences that come from us being two individuals with diverse gifts and preferences, we still share the same desire to converge. To build our marriage, and our family.

The relationship has taken work. It has also been a blessing. To be with a lifelong confidante, lover, and fellow parent.

Happy 6th Anniversary my sweetheart! To a lifetime with you!

Wordless Wednesday - Swings

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

The Baby and a Facial

Bun has been keeping me up every.single.night.

She goes to bed at 8.30pm, and wakes up with a demanding cry at 2-hourly intervals all the way till 7-ish in the morning.

I open my eyes each day feeling like my quota of sleep has been snatched rudely from me. (Or a big fat headache, if you prefer the less poetic version).

But then, as always, I look at her happy morning smile, and somehow I get through the day.

I reckon it is partly my fault for not reinforcing habits for self-soothing. Mostly though, I do think it has got to do with her very active nature. She is one rambunctious little baby. Exploring is prioritized before milk and food, and she therefore pops awake several times at night to feed.

Non-stop, eh?
A parent at the playground recently commented, as he watched her tirelessly crawl up stairs and tumble around, avoiding the legs of older children. 

She keeps wriggling!
Another parent said, as she helped carry Bun while I climbed over a low wall to retrieve a ball tossed by Bubbles.

I think I'm going to take her to explore indoor playgrounds while her sister is at school in the mornings. After all, as I have discovered, most have free entry for under 1yos.

For my sanity, I got to let some of her energy be spent in places where she is less likely to eat twigs, bugs, or people's footwear. 

Oh, and where the many bumps and knocks she gets are a little more cushioned.

With this backdrop of extreme lack of sleep, and having to constantly keep up with an active baby, a complimentary Restorative Facial by Porcelain - The Face Spa was like my birthday came early.

I haven't had a facial in more than 6 years and felt like some restorative work was certainly in order. The thought of being being in a quiet, restful place, and to lie down uninterrupted for almost 2 hours really, really appealed to me. Even the me-time traveling to and fro was enticing.

The loves...

Porcelain's location along a distinctive row of shop houses, away from busy malls 
Ample parking within a walking distance
Clean, cool and quiet interiors
Ingredients used in this new (and not yet up on their website) treatment - safe for pregnant and nursing mothers
Personalized product selections
The head and shoulder massage!!
Therapists wear no make-up, upholding a good, natural skin philosophy

Thank you, Porcelain, for a lovely afternoon!

In need of Families

We recently celebrated Roboman's birthday.

I baked a simple cake, and Bubbles diligently frosted and decorated it. We had a lovely, lovely afternoon putting this surprise together.

There were a few funny moments:
Mummy, Daddy is NOT one year old! she exclaimed, when she saw the solitary candle I selected.
Is that older than anyone we know?! when told how old Daddy turned that day.

When Roboman got home, Bubbles was so excited that she forgot all about keeping the cake a surprise.

Running to him: Happy Birthday Daddy! There is a cake in the kitchen!

There were lots of hugs, giggles and smiles. Even Bun was thrilled that something exciting was happening.

Mummy, for my birthday, can you just make frosting without the cake?

So we celebrated, as a family. A blessing.

Although it was Roboman's birthday, it was not difficult to see that the whole experience was a happy one for Bubbles too - one that echoed the love in our family.

Sadly, there are children who do not have the privilege to have family who can provide a safe and happy haven for them. Here in Singapore, there is a call to seek foster homes for children whose parents or guardians are sick and unable to look after them; or, more heartbreaking-ly, who are abandoned, neglected or ill-treated.

These children need to be given a safe and stable environment where they can be looked after and cared for until they are able to their families or be adopted. This fostering scheme is being run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

There is an upcoming roadshow about the fostering scheme coming up in April. It will be a family-friendly event with  caricature artists present to do sketches, and balloons being given out. 

Do help spread the word!

Fostering Roadshow
Do you love children and want to help care for foster children in need of a temporary home?

19-21 April 2013 (Fri-Sat)
10.30am - 9pm
Atrium, United Square Shopping Mall, 101 Thomson Road (next to Novena MRT Station)
Admission is free

To find out more about the fostering scheme, please contact:
Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Fostering Scheme
Tel: 6354 8799
or visit www.msf.gov.sg/fosteringmsf.gov.sg/fostering

When it rains

We spend most of our evenings outdoors.

Tummies full from an afternoon tea, and bodies rested from a nap.

Sometimes it rains, and our plans for cycling, scooting, walks or playground have to be shoved aside.

We don't always let the rain keep us indoors. Decked in wellies and ponchos, we clomp around.

And feel the rain on our faces.

Or stick our tongues out to taste the sky drops.

Clomp, clomp, clomp.

Making memories.

Gloobaloo and the Enchanted Forest Tickets Giveaway

The March school holidays in Singapore are around the corner. Have you started making plans?

I have to work for a couple of days that week (agreed on the project before realizing it falls during the holidays!), but hope to make up for it by planning a few fun activities for Bubbles to enjoy.

Here's something you may want to take your kids to - a homegrown children's musical: Gloobaloo and the Enchanted Forest (16 March 10am) presented by Big Boat Studio. I have a pair of tickets to give away - scroll to the end of this post to read about it!

Gloobaloo is a curious and cute alien from Planet Global who has travelled to Earth on his Big Boat Spaceship. He wants to make new friends and learn all about Planet Earth and her environment. Journey with Gloobaloo's fun filled stories and see how he solves every problem with his magic and creative ideas.

In this performance filled with original songs and energetic dance choreography, Gloobaloo and all his friends are in search of the Fire dragon that is destroying the plant life in the forest. Together with Chirpy and Grumpy, the wacky twins, Gloobaloo will make new friends with the friendly and playful bird, Wikki Zikki, who has feathers as colourful as the rainbow. Watch the graceful mushroom fairies prance and dance, meet the ageless unicorn who is the guardian of the forest!

Come journey with them and see how this exciting story unfolds!

Saturday 16 March 2013, 10am VENUE: Kallang Theatre
Tickets are sold at SISTIC at $40, $35, $30, $25 (restricted view)
Book online at www.sistic.com.sg or at SISTIC Appointed agents.
Check out Gloobaloo's performances here http://www.youtube.com/bigboatstudio
Be Gloobaloo's friend on http://www.facebook.com/gloobaloo

Leave your email address in a comment on this post to win a pair of tickets! Additional chances for each Facebook "like" and Twitter follow of this blog's or of Gloobaloo. Just indicate your likes and follow in your comment! Contest closes on Sunday 10 March 10pm.

Kitchen Exploits - Roast Salmon with Red Cabbage

I shared in the previous Kitchen Exploits post that we usually cook fish very simply. We are very happy to eat fish seasoned with a sprinkling of salt and pan-fried, or steamed with ginger before adding a dash of soy sauce. Additional flavours will come in the form of optional condiments served alongside the fish.

In fact, I do think it is best not to mess about too much with fresh fish. (If one really does like the taste of fish, that is!) Fresh fish in itself is delicately sweet and juicy.

However, since I am learning to be a better cook for my family and friends, I thought to try out this easy salmon recipe that caught my eye. I found this recipe in the September 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and made a few tweaks.

I chose to leave the salmon skin on as it is full of good oils and we like the taste. However, the skin does not crisp in this recipe, so if you prefer crispy skin, I would suggest sprinkling some salt on the skin and to only apply the mustard marinade on the meat.

Besides baby potatoes and red cabbage, we also roasted cubes of butternut squash together with the fish. I only realised later that in my hurry, I forgot to photograph the squash. (as usual, I hate my food to turn cold!)

I found that the sweetness of the butternut squash really complemented the fish. In fact, I would venture to say that the dish does need something sweet to balance the flavours that are heavy on the mustard tangy-ness.

Roboman really enjoyed this, and welcomed the change from the usual ways we do fish. Bubbles on the other hand, preferred her usual plain salmon. I therefore always roast a marinade-free piece alongside ours for her! As for me, I had no idea roasted red cabbage could taste so good, and was pleased with how juicy the salmon turned out. All in all, this is a repeatable recipe in our household, and therefore I am sharing the recipe here :)

Roast Salmon with Red Cabbage
1 300g salmon fillet*
half a head of red cabbage, cut into strips
10 baby potatoes, skin on, halved
500-800g butternut squash (about half a regular sized one), skinned and cubed
grainy mustard
olive oil
salt & pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Toss cabbage, potatoes and squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.
3. Rub grainy mustard and lemon zest all over the salmon and place on top of cabbage among the potatoes and squash.
4. Roast for 15 minutes or until fish is just cooked.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over all.

*A bigger piece can be used, as long as it fits the tray with potatoes and squash surrounding it.