The girl in the mirror

Little girl is growing up way too fast. I’m sure this is a sentiment echoed by most parents. Though we spend most of our time together, a large part of the day is also spent at work/ school/ running errands, etc – getting through routines and schedules.

Her passport is due for renewal and I attempted to take a picture for submission. When I told her she needs to look at the camera and smile for the new photo as we needed to update her baby picture in her current passport. The poor kid burst out in tears and bawled “But I want to be a baby! I want the baby photo in the passport! I don’t want to be a big girl! I want to be a baby, otherwise you all won’t love me anymore!”

I hugged the kiddo tightly and reassured that she will always be my baby no matter how big she is. It took a while to convince her but she eventually calmed down. Seeing her react that way about growing up brought back memories for as a young girl, I also had similar issues growing up and growing old plus dying. I remembered bursting into tears for fear of my parents growing too old. But as the saying goes, time waits for no man. I can only store these memories in my heart.

And like my mom shared, little girl’s mannerism and character is like mine. I guess it really is like looking in the mirror and seeing a part of me in my little girl.

One awesome gift for this Mama from Kitchen Aid

[Review]:

[Photo Credit: Kitchen Aid Singapore]

My eyes did a double blink when I saw this email from the folks at Kitchen Aid. They first invited us to an upcoming Mother’s Day workshop and then asked if we would be open to reviewing their items as part of the collab. I was really quite excited.. “A Kitchen Aid! WOW!!!” But of course, I’m the sort who didn’t want to count its chicks before they hatch, so I just waited to see what they would offer and lo and behold, they did offer the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer from the Artisan Series in Empire Red. The pastel colours in the range are really to die for but the red did stand out and hold its ground. Plus, it would also look just as fetching when placed next to our Nespresso coffee machine also in red. So that was the one we received!

[Photo Credit: Kitchen Aid Singapore]

When I was aggressively baking years ago, holed up in a small kitchen in our apartment in Geneva, I did lem for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. After all, it’s THE Mixer of all mixers and this gorgeous device is often seen in many gourmet kitchens and kitchens of aspiring home-cooks. But I got scolded by the Man for even harbouring the thought of purchasing one as we moved from place to place then. It would not be pratical to lug it from one country to the next. So I just relied on my handheld mixer for many of my bakes. Till this fantastic opportunity came along!

After the initial unboxing of this gorgeous device was done (the kiddo helped too), I wondered hard and long what am I going to start baking/ cooking with this helpful kitchen device? My baking skills have somewhat become dusty along the way and the kid doesn’t quite have a sweet tooth so she might not appreciate the sweets like cupcakes and muffins that I whip up for her. I decided then to try using the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for another purpose instead.

We all have our fave dish that is reminiscent of our childhood. Something special that our moms have made that would warm our hearts along with our bellies. For me, it was always the oyster chicken with mushrooms dish and the salted vegetable duck soup – my mom’s speciality dishes. My mom was not a home-maker, she had a full-time job and in fact, juggled a few jobs when we were growing up but she did try to cook for us occasionally and now, she really does make it a point to cook for us at least once a week when we go back home on Sundays. Her meals are always simple but I really appreciate the time and effort that she put in to cook the many dishes to feed the entire family of 8 or more when the troop goes over.

For the Man, it would always be his mom’s Mee Hoon Kueh (hand torn noodles). My mom-in-law makes the mee hoon kueh from scratch, kneaded the dough mixture by hand and cooking the broth from scratch. The side dish to be accompanied with the Mee Hoon Kueh is a simple, broiled pork belly with sesame oil because growing up, they really didn’t have a lot so pork belly was considered a treat for the Man and his mom. Last but not least, the condiments such as fried shallots, pepper and ikan billis that will generously be sprinkled on this homemade and simple noodle dish.

This Mee Hoon Kueh dish is always the dish the Man would request for after a long trip away from home and this dish would also be the dish that Sophie would also request for from her grandma if she’s feeling poorly or as and when she wants her grandma to cook her a happy meal My mom-in-law would always oblige when it came to cooking for her son and granddaughter.

Years back when we were living in Geneva and because we were away from home, the Man actually recreated his mom’s Mee Hoon Kueh dish. Now that we are back home, we hardly have to make this dish from scratch but I did want to learn how to do this as my mom-in-law travels quite a fair bit now and on days when Sophie actually requests for this when she’s not around, I find myself telling her to have something else or to resort having to run out to the hawker centre to buy a bowl for her as we don’t have the ingredients stashed at home. Even though it’s the same type of noodles, the taste is not quite the same. Nothing quite beats the home-made “feels”,  if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s the way the noodles are rolled into small pieces of dough, mashed and then torn to make up little pieces of cooked and starchy goodness.

Well, it does appear that the recipe of making the Mee Hoon Kueh has been simplified and kneading the dough by hand would be a preferred method but having the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer do the job in half the time was this lazy mama’s hack in putting the meal on the table. We  started prepping our meal (together with the little one at 6.30pm) and made the hand torn noodles in under 20 minutes. The broth was prepared in advance and dinner was served at 7.10pm. To prep a meal with a kid in tow, I’d say we did well on time!

Mee Hoon Kueh (Hand torn noodles)

Ingredients:
For the noodles:
4 cups of rice flour
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml of cooled water

For the topping:
Fried shallots
Fried ikan bilis

For the soup stock:
150g ikan bilis, rinsed and drained
1.5 litres water
A bunch of spinach, trimmed
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp deep-fried ikan bilis
Onion oil, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:
1) To make the noodles, mix the flour, egg, salt and water evenly in a mixing bowl. Using the dough mixer attachment, turn on Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer on low speed (ie: Speed 1) before gradually increasing it to a slightly higher speed. We used up to Speed 3.

2) Once the dough mixture comes together to form a ball, transfer the dough mixture into another mixing bowl.

3) Place some rice flour on your fingers and continue to knead the mixture in the bowl until it doesn’t stick to the hands.

4) Peel the dough into small balls of about 1 to 2cm. Press and flatten each ball till about 2mm thick. Set aside till ready to cook.

5) To make the soup, add the ikan bilis to 1.5 litres of water and bring it to bowl. Simmer over low heat for about 20 mins. Remove the ikan bilis and then add in spinach and egg (if desired).

6) Add the mee hoon kuey. When the noodles rise to the surface, scoop out noodles and broth in a bowl and serve.

This simple soup dish is extremely versatile and you can also add additional ingredients such as mushrooms, prawns and even minced meatballs to accompany the noodles.

Seriously, it is quite simple to make the mee hoon kueh with the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer using the dough attachment. Even my kid could do this as you can see. Well, you may ask why even bother using a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer to do something that simple? True, but if you are going to be investing in a piece of machinery only to use it for rare occasions then is this a worthy investment? The idea is that this device is supposed to help you around in the kitchen and to help put out dishes quick and fast for the family. That’s my rationale of a worthy investment.

Thanks Kitchen Aid Singapore for sending this lovely Stand Mixer to us. It really is a beautiful piece of machinery which is now a permanent fixture on our kitchen counter. Can’t wait to try out other recipes with this. So stay tuned!

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Disclaimer : We received the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with Meat Grinder attachment to test and review.  No additional monetary rewards were given.  All views expressed are purely of my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Any queries on the product  should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

Being a cheerleader

As a kid, my mom used to sign me up for art classes and I really did love them. In fact, I enjoyed colouring and drawing a lot growing up. So now that the little one is slightly older, I got her a jumbo set of colouring pencils that we try to bring out to occupy her instead of screen-time.

In church today, we had these colouring sheets where I distributed to the kids and her older cousins helped to colour. The little girl felt a little dejected when she saw that her colouring wasn’t as good as her older cousins. She’s kinda free-spirited by nature so I guess it shows up when she colours. She picks up different colours depending on her mood and the colours are often not within the lines. Even though I’m a tad bit OCD (meaning I would love for her to colour within the line and frame), I let her be. She does give up a little when she sees her colouring a little haphazard and messy. Today, she came up to me with tears streaming down her cheeks and told me “Mama, I’m not good at colouring. Help me…”

My heart broke a little when those words came out of her little mouth. I told her to just give it her best shot, try harder and not give up. On our way home, I reminded her of the times when she didn’t do too well in a certain task, but she tried over and over again; and got better as time went by. She nodded and then we repeated our little cheer to “Never Give Up!”

Perhaps this is my motto to live by too.. to never give up, to keep trying and soldier on.

New routine for Saturdays

Most of our Saturdays used to be filled with play-dates with our BFF but since the start of the year, the Bub decided that she wanted to learn ballet. Since the Man has his round of golf on Saturday mornings often leaving us both to our own devices and coupled with the Bub’s desire to learn ballet, I decided that maybe it’s time to let her take on a new activity to fill up our weekends. Trying to find things to keep a toddler occupied can sometimes be quite mind-boggling as well.

Thanks to a recommendation from another Mom, we managed to find a ballet school that’s quite close to home and the timing also suited as well as it was in the morning. The Bub did a trial class with the school last year and had a great time prancing around in her tutu skirt with the rest of the other girls. Right after the lesson, I asked if she wanted to continue, to which she answered “YASS!”. So I signed her up.

It’s been about 3 weeks since we formally started her on lessons and she is having a good time at class. Her coordination seemed to have improved but she can’t still exactly articulate fully what she is actually learning during the class so I’m hoping when it’s time for the parent to sit in and observe what the child did during the term, I am able to see how the Bub did.

One thing I did notice that has improved for the Bub is that she is usually famished straight after ballet lesson which finishes at 11.30am. It actually is a good timing for we head off to lunch and I don’t need much cajoling for her to finish off everything that I place on her plate until she tells me she has enough. Win for me!

Now, the next part of my post relates to a “What in the world am I thinking of?” kind of moment. The Man and I often talked about this.. letting the Bub have a care-free childhood, one that’s filled with play so we really did refrain from signing up on too many enrichment classes. But then, there’s swimming where it’s an essential life-skill that she needed to have. There’s also Berries. That’s non-negotiable as the Man strongly felt that learning Mandarin and having the ability to speak it fluently is an essential skill in today’s world. So for the past year, those were the 2 classes we have signed the Bub up for.

Then, there came Ballet. That was what the Bub really wanted and given that we often have to fill up Saturdays with things to do, I might as well let her take something she really wanted to do.

And the last class that I am now thinking or rather have signed her up for is Phonics. Why phonics? Although it’s already built in to her new school curriculum, I realised that her foundation to phonics isn’t quite as strong yet. She recognises all the letters in the alphabets but not the sound that each letter makes. If she possess a basic understanding of phonics or have a foundation in phonics, she would be able to go on to reading and recognising the words faster when she starts formal primary education. Or so I thought.

We recently did a trial session for phonics at School of Concepts and parents had the option of sitting in for the first lesson with the rest of the sessions being a drop-off class subsquently. I appreciated the fact that parents could sit in the first session to understand the principles behind the school’s methodology; understand how the teachers ran the lesson as well as to observe how the chilid would behave during the session.  Sophie attended the lesson with 2 of her friends from her previous school. There were loads of screaming throughout the 45 minute session but the teachers were very patient and managed to draw their attention using interesting props to teach them about the letter ‘A’ and the sound that it makes.

We’ve decided to let her try out a term at SoC for a while and see how that goes. From the looks at how she is enjoying herself during the first lesson, I’m really hoping that this will get her all excited about learning something new in a non-threatening manner.

 

New Year, New School

Hello there….

If you have been following our blog for a while now, apologies for not updating it frequently. Instagram seems to be a quicker way for regular updates and a channel that we are using it much often for the past couple of months. Follow us there if you haven’t already >> IG Handle: sophie_x_mama.j0 (I know, it’s super long and it’s not snazzy or the coolest).

With just about 3 weeks into 2018, there are a couple of new things that we are embracing with regards to our routine. One for sure is the change of the little one to a new school. Truth be told, we didn’t really see a need to change schools for a while since she settled in really quite nicely in her first school from Infant Care, Toddler Care and then on to Nursery One. But there were a couple of personnel changes in the school that prompted us to search around for other schools.

The search for a new school was left for me to settle and with newfound knowledge of what we should look out for in the Bub’s new school, I began my search around the neighbourhood. Shortlisted a total of 4 schools and the last one which we eventually decided upon – came as a surprise to me for I didn’t think that the Man would select it, but, well, he did.

I thought I’ll just share the process:

  • Curriculum: This time round, we were a more particular when it came to the child’s curriculum. For instance, what is the school’s philosophy; how are the lessons structured; what will my child be learning during the school term, will my child be exposed to equal amounts of study, play and then languages, etc. How about phonics lessons for the child? Was that being built into the curriculum, etc. It was interesting to see how each school depending on their discipline mapped out the lesson plans for the children.
  • Extra-curriculum lessons: Some schools that we looked at offer the parents the option of signing up for additional classes which could range from speech and drama lessons to sport. We liked that it offered the kids additional enrichment which we didn’t need to have the burden of sending the child to on a weekend for a small fee. This is of course completely optional for parents to consider and when Sophie was in her previous school, we signed her up for additional sports ball classes which she really enjoyed as it exposed her to different type of ball games and introduced her to some semblance of being in a team.
  • Activities during the day: One of the things that the Man is most particular about is whether there was time in the child’s programme that were carved out for outdoor play. He wasn’t too keen for Sophie to be cooped up in an air-conditioned room the entire day if that could be helped. So this time round, we went beyond the pre-schools housed in offices to check out pre-schools that operated out of terrace/ stand-alone houses.
  • Meals and Medical quarantine, etc: Lastly, if you are concerned about the meal planning as well as how the school handles their health-checks/ quarantine methods, it’s best to ask the school administrator/ principal during the session as well.

It sure ain’t easy pulling the child from an environment which she had already been used to, classmates who have turned friends, teachers who had nurtured her since young into a new school. That was also a factor for us to consider before we eventually pulled her out. I found myself worrying if she will fit in and whether we made the right decision to pull her out of her comfort zone.

It did help greatly that her mini BFF is already in the same school but then again, it pose another set of challenges as to whether the two of them will get sick of each other, will one feel like the other is imposing into her space, will they continue to fight all.the.time?

So what we did before making the final decision is to bring the little one along for the school visit. At her age now, she’s definitely more aware of her surroundings and environment, so it was important for her to also agree on the change and also to look forward to going to a new school. It did help for the Bub joined in part of the lesson when we did the school tour, she also played with some of the kids who were going to be her new classmates and built rapport with the teachers there. Seeing how quickly she adapted to a new environment during the school visit did put me to ease.

I’m pleased to share that one week has passed since she joined her new school and her teachers shared that she’s adapting well to the new school environment and making fast friends with the kids there. So that was definitely reassuring for me. She’s also gotten a lot more vocal and I’m quite impressed with the activities/ work that she has undertake during the course of the week. Let’s see how she will progress in the coming months ahead but so far, so good! 🙂

 

 

Precious photos for the Christmas holidays

We’ve done our family portraits with Hart from Tomato Photo since the Bub is 7 days old and have gone on to take at least 2 more other shoots with him. We haven’t quite done a shoot with the Bub when she was between 2 to 3 years old so when Hart asked if we wished to update our family pictures. I thought it was timely to do so since we were also celebrating our 11th year wedding anniversary.

A photo-shoot with a 3.5 year old child wasn’t as easy as compared to when she was a newborn or a little toddler just learning how to walk/ run. Halfway during the shoot, she would have a mini meltdown, but all through it all, Hart was always very patient. We booked ourselves a staycation at the Ritz and so it served as a location for our photoshoot as we didn’t want to move from place to place. As compared to our previous shoots, I also wanted something a little more dressy so we decided to dress up in matching shades of red.

I’ve also kept my hair  a little longer now so I opted for a more feminine style this shoot and tied mini French braids. Do quite like the effect and wish that I could tie my own hair daily. Haha..

We even managed to sneak in a couple of shots with just the two of us while the Bub ran off to do her own thing for a little.

Super pleased with all our shots from Hart.. such precious keepsakes as we know update our photo-wall with these beautiful photographs coupled with happy smiles all round.

Things the Bub say

Just the other evening, I was showering the Bub and she was playing quietly in the corner with her bath toys. She was stacking her shells into one of the bath containers and picked out one rather large seashell.

Me: That’s a pretty seashell, Sophie. Where did you get it?
S: You remember? I picked it up at the beach.
Me: Oh, with who? (pretending)
S: With Daddy.
Me: Was Mama there?
S: No. Just Daddy.
Me: Yah, cos Mama went to work right? (I think I was in Seoul on a girls trip during that time and the Man brought the Bub out on a boat trip.)
S: Yah, I guess you must like work a lot.

I burst out laughing when she made the comment. I am hardly the workaholic but the days that I am not there for the little one, it’s usually because of work. I guess that’s where she made the link/ connection.