Fun With Kaius!

Happy Birthday to my favourite 6 year old!

So Kaius is another year older, and at 6 years old he really is quite fun to hang out with alone. He asks insightful questions, he makes funny comments, and he always surprises me with his thoughtfulness.

I brought him out on his birthday, just me and him, and we went to Universal Studios in Sentosa (before the Trump-Kim hullabaloo) to check out the Jurassic World features they had there.

But first, Slappy Cakes! I always prize new experiences over things and I’m glad he really enjoyed it. Usually when I make pancakes at home, it’s over the gas stove, and there’s always a worry that he might lose his balance and fall whilst bending over on the stool to make pancakes. Plus, here we got to doodle too!

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Next, sight-seeing!

Everybody’s favourite bee.

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He would only ride on Alex the Lion and no one else.

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Of course, we had to stop by to see the dinosaurs.

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This Augmented Reality stop was one of his favourites because we got to pet the dinosaurs!

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As much fun as we were having, and as much as I was trying to spoil him on his birthday, I will forever remember his thoughtfulness and regard for others (me).

There was a Jurassic World live show going on when we were at Universal Studios, and of course we got there late so there weren’t many good spots to watch from. I carried him, all 20kg of him, and tried my best to hold him up so he could see. I didn’t say anything about him being heavy because it was his birthday and he doesn’t usually ask me for much, so I thought bear with it for him. But he knew I was struggling (poor Mummy is not as strong as Daddy!), and after a while, he said he didn’t want to watch anymore. Though he insisted he didn’t want to watch, I knew he was just trying to help me out so I didn’t have to carry him anymore. This is the boy who picked out a T-Rex toy at the gift shop over so many other toys, who wants to read every dinosaur book he has, and loovesss his dinosaur t-shirts.

Of course he wanted to watch the Jurassic World show.

Fortunately for us, as we moved farther away from the stage as I tried to find a better spot for us to watch, we got a really good view of the show. He could watch without me carrying him but I carried him anyway.

I also realised he probably won’t want me to carry him much longer, with him getting bigger and going off to Primary school next year 😦

I’m not sure I’m ready for this!

But you know, as much as I’ve been worried that he might not be ready for formal education, I am comforted that he shows me that he is. He’s beginning to assume more responsibility at home like feeding our pet rabbit, Toffee, daily. He’s eager to learn and he really, really enjoys doing English and Math exercises. And no, it’s really not a chore for him. He really wants to learn and get everything right.

So it was really great timing when Education.com sent over some fun worksheets. Thank you Education.com for helping to make Kaius’ birthday fun!

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Links to worksheets (and answer keys for ease!) below:

Crawl like a bug through this themed maze from Education.com! For more fun, check out these math games

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Paddle through some subtraction practice with this summer themed worksheet from Education.com! Find even more fun subtraction resources here.

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Keep your spelling skills sharp this summer with this word search worksheet. For more great educational games, activities, and worksheets, check out these resources from Education.com.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

3 Business Tips I Learnt From My Kids

There’s a whole lot my kids have taught me, and it’s not just about being more patient, or not yelling or learning to put them first, by sacrificing the last bite of cheesecake (and a gazillion hours of sleep). I’ve found that if I pay enough attention, the lessons I learned are highly applicable to my professional life too.

Tip #1: Accept & Embrace The Mess 

As a working mother, I work my life around my family and try my best to do that sometimes insane juggling act that seriously, sets even the best of us up for failure. And what’s more, I have tried to keep my professional life separate from my family life and try to kinda live my life in separate blocks. This big yellow one is for work. The red one is for my husband. Blue one is for my son. Pink one for daughter #1 and purple one for daughter #2. And none of them touch.

While that works to a certain extent, it doesn’t account for the spillover effect. The Spillover Effect. Yeah, because Life Is Messy and the gods of all that is chaotic tend to like to conspire to make life more interesting.

Just.

For.

Kicks.

So instead of just getting frustrated that my day is not going according to schedule and getting upset that the kids are taking too long to [insert task here], I have decided to accept and embrace the mess instead of fighting it.

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My son loves his blue sneakers (in the photo above) and always wants to wear them. But he takes a really long time (by adult standards) to put them on, well, because he’s 5. Instead of telling him to hurry up and scolding him for his choice of footwear because he is making everyone late, and in the process upsetting him and myself and giving everyone an unpleasant start to the day, I have suggested that he start putting on his shoes 5 minutes before everyone else does.

Because it is in accepting and embracing the situation as is, that I can figure my way out with much better outcomes, with a less stressed out Mummy and a happier kid (because Mummy is not yelling in frustration).

I have found that whether at my job or any venture that I might explore, it is pointless to wish something were a certain way when it is not. Try as I might, I can’t change people, nor can I change some situations. The sooner I accept and embrace the reality, the easier it would be to make a plan and meander through it with the best results possible.

Tip #2: Lego Blocks Should Be Part of Every Job Interview 

If you want to find out the type of person you are hiring, get them to build something out of Lego blocks. The idea is not really in what they end up building, but to observe their thought processes and questions they ask.

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When my kids and I play with Lego, it’s always intriguing to me at how they express themselves with this platform. My son, the fixer, step-by-step doer and perfectionist, would look at the pictures on the Lego box or in the booklet (if there is one) to replicate what he so desires. He is to-the-point and systematic. If he doesn’t know how to fix it, he tries to troubleshoot but gives up sometimes too soon because the perfectionist in him does not like to attempt tasks he thinks he is not good at. He doesn’t like to ask for help.

Daughter #1 on the other hand, is the imaginative and creative one who colours within and outside the lines, sees what she wants to build in her mind and just starts building (because who cares about instructions?!). Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes she screams in frustration because something is not going her way or a Lego block won’t clutch the way she wants it to. But she asks for help and figures it out in the end.

Of course, what and how the interviewee builds may not be an all-conclusive measure of how this person may be a great fit or useful for a particular role in an organisation, but I think it would be a good overview.

Tip #3: Savour the Highs and Use Them To Power Through the Lows 

Life can be Tough. So can parenting, and work.

I love my kids to the moon and back, and being their Mum has brought me through Super Highs and Super Lows. When I watched my babies learn to roll over, or walk, or when they first said “Mama”, or when my two year old does her Happy Dance. It’s like sunshine on my face and warm soup in my tummy. It is heartwarming and nourishing.

Then there’s the yucky part of parenting, when I’m surviving on 2 hours of sleep because someone got sick, or the babies had to be fed in the middle of the night, or all the kids decide to start fighting and yelling when you’re trying to do something. Those are the times when parenting feels like another job that I have to take care of and it feels like absolute drudgery.

I used to think that when good things happen, I shouldn’t celebrate too much, because when bad things happen, then the fall will be so much harder. But I’ve realised that the good and bad are just part of Life, like they are part of work and business.

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The best way isn’t to not celebrate the highs, or to wish the lows away. But to celebrate these highs and remember them as much as possible, to build up a bank of confidence in my own abilities and a positive mindset so that I will be able to take on the lows with decisive action, drive and tenacity.

 

 

 

Expired Food Art

I was clearing out my supplies and found all this expired flour that I couldn’t bring myself to just throw away.

So I decided to make play dough with it with the kids. Just add water and salt and mix through to the right consistency. The salt is just there to make the dough stretchy so don’t go adding too much. 2 tablespoons to 1kg of flour is more than enough.

My mum used to make this play dough at home when I was a kid and I always wondered why we didn’t add any food colouring. Well now I do! Getting the colour to mix through the dough to get a consistent shade throughout is really tiring work. But I suppose great catharsis if you want to destress.

I call the patchy blue one cookie monster cookie dough – but now I realise it sounds like I’ve made cookie dough out of cookie monster  

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Kaius is 5.

Happy Birthday, Kaius!

I feel like I graduated as a Mother.

Dear Kaius,

You’ve just turned 5 and you have no idea how proud Mummy and Daddy are of you.

You have grown slowly but surely into this thoughtful, inquisitive, cheeky and kind little boy.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pre-term labour scare at 35 weeks of pregnancy, and then finally the 26 hours of labour at 38 weeks to bring you into this world.

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Hello, my little boy blue.

Everyone says your first child is special.

As middle children, Daddy and I always scoffed at that statement because, well, what do you mean? We’re less special because we’re not the first or the youngest?

But when we had you, we finally understood this. (Although, we also came to the conclusion at that time (having no other children than you) that the first one will be special, the last one will be the baby, hence special, and the middle ones are *sigh* least loved! But I digress.)

And it’s not because we love your sisters any less. (Yes, everyone gets equal share when Mummy and Daddy kick the bucket).

It’s because with you, there were and will be so many “firsts”:

The first time we became “Mummy” and “Daddy”.

 

The first time I had to figure out breastfeeding and cursing at how painful it was at the beginning. (What do you mean I am supposed to do this for at least 6 months?! And why isn’t there some kind of epidural for engorgements??) In spite of all the pain and suffering, I did it for you.

The first time my heart broke when I had to leave you in the hospital when you were only 3 days old because of jaundice. I felt like I was leaving a precious part of me there. And it’s true, isn’t it? You are part of me because you were formed inside me, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.

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The first time I left you at school and forced myself to walk away even though I could hear you screaming for me.

The first time you called me “Mama”.

Even though we were given this giant responsibility of shaping your life, you have no idea how much you have already shaped ours (and turned it upside down!).

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You have taught me that gentle kisses from your baby are far more precious than anything that can be bought.

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You have taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yes, I worked as a lawyer before you were born, and late nights at 1 or 2am were not uncommon. I thought then, that that was sacrifice, for my career. But, seriously, what did I know then? I was only responsible for myself and I could still be selfish. Nobody else needed me for their survival, but you did. And that meant I had to put you first.

I remember once I was holding you in the middle of the night trying to soothe you whilst I was crying because I was so exhausted. But I did it anyway because you needed me.

You have also taught your Father what it means to be his son’s hero.

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Super Daddy!
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After winning 2nd place at the Healthy Baby Contest.

I will always be thankful for your cheeky smile,

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Your gentleness with your sisters,

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Sibling love.

And every time you look at me and say, ”Mama, I love you”, even when we’re in the middle of something. It’s almost like the Universe telling me to STOPBEINGBUSY and pay attention to what matters. Because there will never be a second chance at watching you grow up.

Oh and you know what? It is because of you that we understood, so deeply and assuredly, just how much our own parents love us. Other assumptions, parental mistakes and definitions aside (because I am a lawyer and I gotta catch’em all), it is that self-sacrificial, tender, unconditional, enduring love that will always be there. It is the kind of love that will catch you when you fall, continually and tirelessly look for you when you’re lost, and will be there when you finally want to talk, even if it is to yell expletives.

It is the kind of love that will choose to let you have the last bit of my Cornetto cone with all the yummy chocolate in it even though I really wanted it for myself. Not because I don’t love myself. But because giving it to you and watching you scrumptiously enjoy it made me so much happier.

It is the kind of love that will fight fiercely for you. To. The. Bloody. Death.

Daddy and I are so fortunate to experience these lessons of love with you, first.

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Hello cutie!

In this crazy and uncertain world we live in, of this you can be sure:

Your sisters will always annoy you,

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Hugs from Allegra! Wait till Xaxa is old enough. I don’t know what your face will look like when they both decide to squish you!

Mummy and Daddy will always love you,

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Happy Birthday, Kaius!

And Mummy will always be the one who introduced you to chewing gum 😉

 

Just Mama & Bubba: Kaius

The Great, Enormous Melbourne Mash Up

I think I’ll make it tradition for each kid to travel with me and or the husband alone before going to primary 1. This time it’s me and Kaius, and our Great, Enormous, Melbourne Mash Up. 


(The kids have a book called “The Great, Enormous Hamburger”. And so now everything is “Great” and “Enormous”. Gotta love a kid’s perspective!)

Kids: Kaius & McDonald’s 

Me: OK kids, nap time! Go lie down and I’ll go get my book. 

Kaius: You mean your McDonald’s book? 

Me: (amused) How did you know it’s a McDonald’s book? 

Kaius: Because I saw the McDonald’s sign and I was reading it just now. 

Wow. My son is a lot more observant than I give him credit for and he’s growing up fast. 

How can I not fight to be a good example for him? 

Kaius with Grinding It Out. The Making of McDonald’s by American businessman Ray Kroc. He was responsible for making McDonald’s into the world’s most iconic fast-food brand. 

MamaMission: Botanic Gardens Movie Series

Kungfu Panda 3

As a slightly mad Type A mother, I’m always on a mission, looking for interesting activities and experiences to expose my kids to and I was really excited to have found this event just hours before!

Movie: Kung Fu Panda 3

Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Eco-Lake Lawn (next to Botanic Gardens MRT Station)

Cost: FREE

The great thing about having kids this small (4 and 2), is that they are easily excitable and anything can become a great adventure. And, they love Kung Fu Panda (who doesn’t!).

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We walked, took the train, set up a little picnic with pizza and popcorn, the kids ran around a little and watched pandas roll around the screen under the stars.

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Yeah I didn’t have my picnic mat at home, so we had to improvise with a plastic tablecloth and an old bedsheet for comfort 😀 
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Munching away on homemade pizza and popcorn!

 

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Baby Xaxa loved it too

Of course the biggest worry was getting bitten by mosquitos, but this was easily fixed by a 3 step defence: 1) mosquito patches, 2) citronella spray and 3) citronella diffuser/circulator gadget which does the same thing those citronella tiki-torches – skadoosh!

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Lots of black and white, bouncy fun!

This was NPark’s first time organising a movie screening like this and they are planning to do it for a year. I thought it was really great and I plan to be back every month, if the weather permits.

What would bring it over the top though would maybe if there were snack food vendors (like at Films At The Fort) so that people can have the option of buying food, and maybe fun little keepsakes from the event (e.g. bubbles for the kids to blow, light sticks etc), so that they’ll be reminded of such events and/or Botanic Gardens. Though I realise that there are additional costs involved, I’m sure NParks will be able to find vendors and sponsors who want to reach out to an audience made up of mostly families with young kids.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to this part of the Botanic Gardens so this was interesting for me too. Loved this!

 

Throwback Thursday

Life With 2 Kids

Seemed like ages ago and I’m glad we had the chance to take this photo.

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I actually cancelled this shoot because I had been in the hospital 2 days before for a second pre-term labour scare. We thought the baby was arriving and I was kicking myself for not planning this shoot earlier in my pregnancy.

And since we decided that this would be our last baby, I wasn’t going to get anymore chances to take photos like this!

But it’s a good thing the contractions tapered off and I was allowed to go home the day before the shoot. That was a Friday. I managed to reinstate our appointment.

On Saturday, we took the photos.

And on Sunday night, I was back in the hospital again. 

Alexa was born in the early hours of Monday morning. 

Super timing 🙂

Happy Birthday Kaius!

I can’t believe he’s 4!

While watching The Lion King,

Husband to Kaius: “Kaius, a lion is a type of…?” (Expecting him to say “cat”).

Kaius: “Predator!”

Husband: *speechless but so proud*

Happy Birthday to our favourite 4 year old!

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Can’t believe this little boy is 4 already!

Kitchen & Kids: Fig, Prosciutto & Mozzarella Pizza

So Easy Even My 3 Month Old Got Involved!

I don’t have time to cook as much as I would like these days but when I do I try to involve the kids so we have something to do together. Making food is one of my favourite weekend indulgences. It’s relaxing, and I’m always amazed at how many good business ideas I come up with while bustling around in the kitchen.

The kids always want to help and the great thing about pizza is it’s easy for them to do so. Also, it’s a good trick to get your kids to try something they otherwise wouldn’t eat. My kids love to eat what they have helped to make.

One weekend when I saw figs on sale at the supermarket (rare sighting in Singapore!) I knew I had to try making Lorraine Pascal’s Fig, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pizza. It might sound a little huh?? at first, but I guarantee the combination is absolutely yummy! Salty prosciutto, contrasted with the sweetness of the figs. The creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella is cut by the slightly tart tomato sauce base. Top that with fresh basil leaves and you get an unbelievably aromatic experience.

It’s lovely to eat on its own but if you want to kick it up a notch, I like to pair this with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc. The fruitiness matches the figs and the crispness contrasts with the creaminess of the cheese.

It’s the ultimate lunchtime indulgence.

This recipe is super easy to follow and it has 2 parts. 1) Make the pizza dough 2) Top the pizza and cook.

Part 1) Making The Pizza Dough 

Ingredients

For the basic dough

  • 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 125–145ml/4½–5fl oz warm water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling

Method

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the water and oil together, then pour the liquid into the well of the flour mixture and mix to make a soft but not sticky dough.

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Mixing flour, salt and yeast

 

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BABY HACK: What do you do when you need to get the dough done but the baby wants you to carry her too? Put her in the Manduca baby carrier for the win and get her involved too! This baby carrier is not cheap, but it is extremely worth it. It’s been a complete lifesaver for the hubby and me for all 3 of our kids.
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Mix it all up with water & oil
  • Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Bring the dough together to a smooth flat ball and place on a large, lightly floured baking tray.

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My favourite – KitchenAid. What would I do without you?
  • Cover the pizza dough loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight. Leave in a warm but not hot place for 30–40 minutes.

TIP: If you have a mixer that has the hook attachment, I recommend that you use it to knead the dough. This is way less tiring and you can do other things whilst the mixer is kneading for you. But if you’re in need of some catharsis, kneading the dough by hand will do the trick.

Part 2) Topping The Pizza 

This is the part where it’s easy for the kids to help out with minimum mess.

Ingredients For the pizza topping

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The makings of a great tasting pizza – good quality ingredients.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  • Remove the clingfilm from the dough and roll out to a 30cm/12in circle to knock some air out, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork. Spread over the tomato purée, leaving a 2.5cm/1in border, followed by the mozzarella, prosciutto and half of the figs.

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    Spreading the puree: Older kids who are more in control of their fine motor skills will find this task easier.
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    Allegra helped too ❤
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    The little miss was happy to just look after she was done with the puree.
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    Ready for the oven!

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    Doesn’t it look yummy already?
  • Drizzle with oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Scatter basil over the top and arrange the remaining figs on the pizza. Drizzle with oil.

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    I feel like I need to make this all over again now – num num!
  • Serve at the centre of the table so everyone can rip off their piece of Italian gold.

TIP: Be sure to use buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella balls. Don’t use regular grated mozzarella because it will be too salty and not at all creamy.

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They love it!
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All smiles 🙂