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Finally, Kitchen!

I have always admired pretty kitchens, like the one over at Mum in the Making. (Actually, not just her kitchen! Her whole house more like it.)

But you know, some people just don’t have the eye for decor… *hand up* Other than regretting not putting more thought into the decor when we bought the flat, I had no idea how I could possibly transform my kitchen. 

Until Kor Kor’s birthday this year. I was just trying my best to tidy and clean the house, and decided to buy a few new rugs for the kitchen. (Used to use old towels as rugs.)

  
That is when I realize that firstly, a few small touches are all that’s needed to give the kitchen a fresh look. And secondly, while I am envious of prettily done up places, my personal preference is for minimalist and uncluttered – I prefer to keep most things in the cabinets. 

 

A clock and a basket for bananas – which can’t really be kept in cabinets, right?

 
Actually, I do keep the basket back in the cabinet when we finish the bananas hee.

At the other end of the countertop is my chopping boards. That’s all

Minute changes, but it makes a great difference to how I feel while working in the kitchen. And given the proportion of time I (and thus the kids) spend here, a happy kitchen is important! 😀

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How To Make More Hours

Was just reading my old posts on routine, and wow, life of a mother of three young kids was really horrid. How did I survive! Routine 5.0 was written more than one year ago, and my life has got so much better as the kids get older. Just a couple of weeks ago I got to sleep in till about 8am everyday!

BUT. Kor Kor is starting primary school in a month’s time. Worse, he is in the afternoon session, so it’s like he hardly get any time at home. So I decided to revamp our routine to maximize what time we have. I still really hope to include outdoor/ playground time, library visits, early bedtime, free play!

Routine for school term from Jan 2016 onwards:

630am Breakfast and wash up

730am Playground & me reading to them

9am Home, showers

930am Free play and homework if any 

1050am Lunch

1130am Get ready for school

1150am Go out 

1230pm Home with the younger two

1pm Nap/quiet time

3pm Snack

6pm Go out to fetch Kor Kor

640pm Dinner

730pm Shower

8pm Milk & bedtime reading

830pm Bedtime

I have started waking up around 6am to prepare breakfast. The boys use an alarm clock to wake up at 630am. They need some help waking up earlier mainly because recently they have been playing and talking till very late after lights out. But it’s ok, they are slowly adjusting to it – forced to wake up early means they KO faster at night and it’s getting easier for them to pop out of bed in the morning. 

We have also been doing early lunches for two weeks and trying out new menus. Instead of the previous three dishes, I am trying to cook a one-pot rice dish and a veg. This will give me more free time with the kids in the morning… since I won’t see Kor Kor the whole afternoon!!

But not rigidly following the schedule yet. Definitely more than an hour at the playground now…. Enjoy while they can! And still going out with friends and for lessons on weekdays… Lessons will be changed to the weekend from Jan onwards. Not looking forward to busy weekends!!

The biggest problem now is how do I survive the early start to the day……. Just this morning I threw away (figuratively) the alarm clock cos had to get up 5-6 times to attend to the kids last night. Plus I am really very night owl… Been reading up on this and of course gonna keep trying… 

Wish me luck!!

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Perth Day One To Three

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Taking the midnight flight….

It is a 3.5-hour drive to our accomodation for the first three days, and Hubby is our only driver, so we take a break at the biggest free entry playground in Australia!

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Apple Fun Park at Donnybrook. It’s a big lovely playground, but so sunny at 9am!

Our home for the next three days is Pemberton Farm Chalets. We choose the four-bedroom chalet as there are seven of us including my parents-in-law. It is spacious and comes with a fully-equipped kitchen. But there is only one bathroom.

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It is actually brighter than it looks in the photo

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The kids spend most of their time drawing and reading at the dining table since we don’t switch on the tv anyway.

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Our 8-seater : )

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The farm has animals of course but it is not a working farm, so there are not that many animals.

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There is supposed to be a feeding session in the morning, but we didn’t see anyone around when we came out at the stated time. Can feed the animals on our own anytime though.

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The chalets shown here are the 2-bedroom ones, right in front of the pasture. Our chalet is more secluded, a few minutes’ stroll away.

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On Day 2, we visited the Gloucester Tree.

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The Cascades. Nice place but not spectacular…

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Lunch at Hidden River Estate Winery

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Many sheep outside the winery

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The Ngs 😀

We have a very leisurely itinerary, so it’s a good thing the farm has quite a few things to entertain the kids.

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Day 3 We took the Pemberton Tram through the forest

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Lunch at Lavender and Berry Farm. We choose to dine outdoors to enjoy the scenery while the kids play.

Hmmm, does our trip sound a bit boring so far? Sigh…. ya, indeed it is not very exciting. Anyway I shall do up the posts for the remaining days before I pen down some of my thoughts on the trip.

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The Boys’ Bedroom

  
Ta-ta! Finally the boys’ bedroom is all done up. This room has gone through so many transformations since we bought the flat in 2008. It started off as a storeroom when it was just Hubby and me. Then when Kor Kor was five months old, I cleared out the room and moved his cot over, and it has been his bedroom since then. Didi moved in with Kor Kor when he was 18 months old, in anticipation of Meimei’s arrival. (He was previously sleeping in another bedroom which is now Meimei’s bedroom.)

Wow. I didn’t realize the boys have been sharing a room for three years!! Time flies! Haha, anyway, in short I have been shifting the furniture around and adding small pieces of new furniture throughout the past few years. And finally, as Kor Kor is starting primary school and needs a wardrobe with hanging space, we got the boys a new wardrobe. 

There used to be a reading nook which I just did up not too long ago. I liked the reading nook and the idea of having a reading nook. But it’s just a nice thing.. especially since there are many other places for the boys to read anyway! (How about the good, old sofa?? Heehee.) Given the space constraints, I decided on functionality and neatness over loveliness. 

Basic criteria – other than the two beds, there must be sufficient storage space for the boys to keep their personal belongings. I also want them to have a big desk each, for them to do their homework or drawing or whatever they want to do. Often Kor Kor sits at his desk to read too. 

 

Having their own spaces provides ample opportunities to teach tidiness.

  

Still much room for improvrment, but at least can see quite a lot of the desk top


This 5 x 5 shelf from IKEA, placed opposite the beds, is a permanent fixture, as it is way too big and heavy for me to shift around! 

  
The salesperson at the first furniture shop we visited seemed quite incredulous about my preference for a symmetrical wardrobe. But hey, we found it at the second shop we tried – Furniture Mart! 

 

In addition to the hanging space, each boy gets two drawers – one for clothes and one for their personal stuff.


So, this is where the boys will grow up.. till they move out to their own houses 😊

 

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Not Looking Forward

It has been two weeks since we returned from Perth, one week since the birthday celebration. It’s time to get back on track. Been very slack about outdoor time…waking up early… getting the kids to do chores… reading to the kids… personal diet and exercise…….. 😣

But seriously very sian about it. Once I start, there’s going to be no break till the next school holidays in March. And who knows what’s the holidays going to be like with a primary school going kid?? Will there be tons of homework, projects, field trips, whatnots…?? Now our weekends are free, except for inline skating classes which are flexible (can go for any of the six timings each weekend, or not go at all. It’s pay only if you go.) Next year, Kor Kor will be in the afternoon session (double sian!!), so his wushu and swimming lessons will be weekend classes instead. Plus the weekly visits to my in-laws……. weekend is gone………. *cry*

I guess (hope!) my weekday afternoons will be more relaxed with one kid out of the house. But I am quite sad that Kor Kor will have very little free time in future… After breakfast, he has only a couple of hours before we have to eat lunch, so that we can be out of the house by 12nn as school starts at 12.10pm. When he comes back from school, it will be dinner time followed by bath and bedtime. Early bedtime is still important even though he’s in the afternoon session and can sleep in if he so wishes. And that couple of hours includes homework and revision time if necessary. AHHHHHHHH…..! 

That’s why in order to maximize his time, I have to wake up earlier to prepare breakfast. Cannot sleep in on weekends either because of wushu and swimming. This is devastating because now that Meimei is older, I actually can continue to sleep even when all the three kids are up and about. They are content to play until I wake up to make milk and breakfast for them. Sigh. 

The worst is, I am feeling tired all the time. OK, truthfully, I only feel tired during the day. Very energetic at night. Once the kids go to bed. Ha! I am tired even when we stay at home the whole day, no outings, no adventurous hiking, no sun, no major housecleaning.. just the usual cooking and cleaning. Before I went for a checkup a few months ago, I was worried that this lethargy might be a symptom of a serious health issue. Turned out I am perfectly healthy. Cholesterol, blood pressure, all good. Not even anemic. Then what on earth is wrong with me! I drink coffee every morning and often a bottle of chicken essence at midday. 

But I think I need to solve this problem. Since coffee + chicken essence is not sufficient, I shall start taking supplements. Ginseng, vitamin B, something, anything. Oh yes and I need to resume exercising. That should help too. Only when I am more energetic can I be a better mother and do more things with the kids. And be better-tempered too. I must, I must!!

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October Travels

I seem to be saying this very often… Urmm, I am back (again)! So, my previous post was on 29 Sep, I was still ignorant of what was going to happen the very next day…. Hubby suddenly agreed to let the kids and me go to Jakarta to visit my friend! My friend has been staying in Jakarta for the past one year plus, as her husband is working there. And coincidentally her two daughters were having a two-week school break starting from the day which I was flying over… which was just three days later!

Best is, we ended up in Jakarta for two weeks! My friend had already made some plans for the school holidays, so we tagged along. Flew over with Hubby on the same day, and stayed on for six more days after Hubby returned to Singapore.

Flew on the same day as Hubby, but he was on his company-sponsored SQ as he was also going over for work. So it's just me and the kids on Jetstar!

Flew on the same day as Hubby, but he was on his company-sponsored SQ as he was also going over for work. So it’s just me and the kids on Jetstar!

Came back to Singapore on 17 October…. and on 22 October, we flew off again, this time to Perth with my parents-in-law, a trip we booked two months ago. After ten days in Perth, it’s back to Singapore to prepare for Kor Kor’s sixth birthday party. It was just a simple celebration with family, but still, it’s additional work on top of the daily chores to care for the three kids. Now you know why this blog was soooo quiet. What I am busy with nowadays a day after Kor Kor’s birthday – doing up some photo collages of the Perth trip for my parents-in-law, and my favourite hobby of decluttering and home improvement, heehee. I shall also do up some posts on the Jakarta and Perth trips, hopefully soon! : )

 

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The Haze

I think the haze has been a problem for quite a few years, but the first time I felt affected by it was in June 2013. Other than hitting a record high PSI on 21 June, the problem was magnified for me because I had a 2-month-old baby at home then! Fortunately the haze went away and we did not suffer any obvious effects.

Unfortunately the haze is back with a vengeance this September. Initially, I felt very relaxed and nonchalant about it. As in, I still opened all the windows up to PSI of 150, though I did cut down on outdoor activities (which we usually do A LOT of). 

Then, as I started seeing more and more posts on FB of scarily high PSI and started checking other air quality websites in addition to NEA, I became more worried. This worry was followed by confusion – so many sources, which should I trust? 

The more I read (online articles, government health advisories, friends’ FB posts), the more I think that people are being too alarmist. Whenever someone posts a frighteningly high PSI, guess what, it’s usually the highest number one can find…. sometimes it’s the 3-hourly, sometimes the 24-hourly, sometimes the PSI itself, sometimes the PM2.5 index, sometimes Singapore as a whole, sometimes regional.

……………….

Finally I decide to follow NEA’s guidelines. Now I only refer to NEA’s numbers. And I use PSI of 100 and PM2.5 of 40 as cut-off. Above 100, close all windows, switch on air purifier (we only have one for my 145sqm!).

Below 100 and PM2.5 less than 40, we chiong downstairs to the playground. 

How about masks? We did not have any chance to wear masks as we only went out when the air was good, though I had some N95 at home. But after being stuck at home the whole day yesterday, with the house becoming a furnace by mid-afternoon due to lack of ventilation, I decided to bring the kids to an indoor playground this morning. Though we were only outside at the void deck for less than five minutes (waiting for our taxi), I could feel the choking effect. 

 

Where are you, taxi???

 
[Disclaimer: I think most of the discomfort I felt, such as increased heart rate and breathing difficulties, were due to anxiety as I imagined the harmful effects on my children.]

Realized that the masks did not fit well. The boys’ N95 were a bit loose. Meimei could only wear paper masks….. AHHHHHHHH……!!

Immediately after alighting at our destination, we dashed to the nearest pharmacy to buy more masks. I remembered reading about a new AIR+ Smart Mask from some blogs. Actually I didn’t read properly as I thought my kids wouldn’t really have to wear masks anyway, just stay at home the whole day. Now I know, even if it’s to go downstairs to take a cab or Daddy’s car, I also want them to be wearing mask. 

  
According to the size chart on the box, size S is too big for my boys. The website states that it is designed for users ‘as young as 7 years old’. But I bought a box to try, and it does fit both Kor Kor (almost 6, skinny face) and Didi (4+, chubby face) quite well! Yay! 

[Not a sponsored post ok]

However, even though the boys tried on the masks in an aircon place, they still felt rather uncomfortable. I think the ventilator will help greatly to ease their discomfort! But it is now out of stocks, boo hoo.

Meimei completely refuses to even try it on >.<

  
I have also been cooking white fungus soup and Chinese pear soup very often. These are desserts and the kids eat at least one serving a day. Didi and Meimei love the snow fungus! For dinner soup, I have been cooking lotus root more often, and also other cooling soups like old cucumber and watercress. Click on the links for the recipes.

Lastly, Mummies, don’t forget to take care of your complexion! Use more cleansing and purifying and antioxidant masks ok!

Stay healthy and pretty!