August 28, 2014

Organizing My Kitchen

After watching the food network channel yesterday, I had this urge to tidy up my kitchen. To be realistic, I started with only my dry kitchen. So I went through some of the articles on tips to arrange the kitchen. One of the tips that I really like said that before I can afford the kitchen that I dream of, it is good to make use of what I have.

So last night, I started at 9.30pm and finished at 12.40am. Blasted out some nice chinese pop songs. I kinda enjoyed the night.

Some tips that I bore in mind as I cleaned up:
1. Throw or give or sell away the stuff that I no longer use or I thought I still needed but haven't touched for years.

- I thew away some pots and pans which I thought I should keep for a "back-up", but they are not of good quality anymore (scratches on the cooking surface).
- Went through my medicine cabinets and threw away the expired ones.
- All those teas, coffees, snacks, packaged food.. it's good to dig through and throw away those that no one in the family will ever eat. (and the expired ones too of course).
- Posted some stuff online to sell away, i.e. bottles drying rack, sterilizer, etc. With all the preloved groups in Facebook nowadays, it is not hard to sell the stuff that we no longer use. Thanks Facebook for that!

2. Categorize the kitchen
- I put all the utensils that are frequently used at a place that are accessible.
- Moved the packaged food to the top (hardest to reach) cos the easier you can reach, the more likely you will eat them.
- Moved all the cleaning products to the top shelves so that the children can't reach them.
- Cleared the kitchen countertop. Stored my air fryer & pressure cooker in a convenient place (at least the countertop looks clean and tidy and I can still take those equipments out easily).
- Took out some stuff that are going to expire to a visible place so that I remember to eat/drink them, i.e. tea, supplements, etc.
- All the new unopened products (i.e. honey, jam, etc) went to the same shelf.
- Tidying my "Tupperware" shelf took the longest time, cos some lids were missing, some containers had scratches, and it was so hard to organize them neatly.
- Basically place the kitchen tools according to their category.

3. Wiped the shelves and tables with Dettol to clean and disinfect.

After all the housekeeping and cleaning, it is not the time to sit back and relax though. It's important to maintain and go through the food and meds again every 6 months. And probably I'll have to start cleaning my fridge and wet kitchen soon. I'll remind myself to take pics of before and after this time.

August 20, 2014

Parenting Strategies - I NEED TO STOP SCREAMING!

In one of my FB posts, I wrote that I decided to become a SAHM because I didn't have a good quality time with my kids most of the nights after coming back from work. Usually when we reached home, I would be busy preparing dinner, feeding them, revising and supervising Keira while she was doing her homework (I don't even remember what Caedy was doing during this time), doing the necessary house chores, and so on. It was kind of frustrating and I yelled a lot. So I decided to stop working so that I could be a better mom (read: a mom who always KEEPS CALM and doesn't scream).

But guess what, I STILL SCREAM. I try to control myself most of the time though. Usually I succeeded... only in the beginning. ("ok... I am going to say it one more time. I need you to start scooping the food and put inside your mouth, now... NOW... NOW!!!")

OK this is my personal opinion. You can agree to disagree. I think, unless you are born in a family where everyone speaks very gently, you will tend to scream when you become a mom. Having said that, I don't think yelling at your kids is a good idea. If you don't want your kids to yell back at you when they grow up, you probably shouldn't do it too, unless they are in danger of course. 

Now I have tried a few strategies that work but sometimes I need to remind myself to keep doing this. Let me share with you.

1. First scenario - The Whiny Child
My 6yo girl can probably receive "The Whiniest Child Award". It's kinda annoying if you've never heard one before. 

My strategy: I either respond by whining (which usually annoys her as much) or I show her the difference between talking and whining. Ask her to try both and judge herself, which way of communicating is better. Usually she chooses talking. But just like the mother, sometimes she too, forgets that she needs to talk instead of whine. Oh sometimes I also tell her that I will fall asleep instantly if she whines (at least I have a chance to lie down and close my eyes for a while).

2. Second scenario - The Dilly-Delly Child
This is definitely not new to all mothers who have a preschooler. The more you ask them to hurry up, the more they drag their feet. 

The big no no to this is by using threat. Trust me. The more you threaten them, the more anxious they become and the more unable they are to do whatever you want them to do. Or if you have a cheeky child, he probably likes it when you are screaming at the top of your lungs like a crazy woman. Engage with them, guide and help them out. It's more beneficial for the both of you. 

I once watched a webinar by a parenting expert, Amy McCready, she taught us NOT to use countdown when it comes to this matter. But I still find it very useful with Caedy, my 2yo. When she refuses to come over (or start running around) before getting dressed, I usually count "One... Two..." and zoom... she'll be right in front of me. But with Keira, if I start counting, she will start whining, so instead of counting one two three, I do "Oonneee..... Fooouuur..." then she will start laughing and start doing whatever she needs to do. It works for us.

Another good way is to compete. For example, when it's time to tidy up the room, I say things like "OK let's see who can put more toys into the box." "Let's see if we can tidy up in 60 seconds."

3. Third Scenario - The Disobedient Child
Now, this one I don't tolerate. The children must know that parents set the boundaries, and they have to stay within those boundaries. Once they are out of them, they have to suffer the consequences. The level of the consequences is dependent on the level of the disobedience.  Of course the ultimate one is to use the pretty but fearsome, spine-chilling, nerve-racking, hair-raising balloon stick (yeah I use this to cane them).

While some people strongly disagree in caning their children, I have to say it is necessary. I'm not talking about abusing your kids. A stroke on the palm or bum, enough to give that little Ouch, enough to make them regret for what they just did.

Other milder ways of discipline will be time-out (usually applicable for Caedy only). She's required to stand at a corner and hold her ears. Reason is because she is not allowed to use her hands to do other stuff. Time-out should be boring, something that they really hate. If your kids don't hate the time-out corner, then that time-out is pretty much wasted. (Learned this from Nigel Latta.)

4. Fourth Scenario - The Babies
Well, the word itself has explained all. Babies break rules. They are constantly trying, exploring, destroying, biting, tasting... you name it. For babies, I think the best way to use is to distract (suggesting other activities, giving other toys etc). If distraction doesn't work, use a stern voice and say "No." and when they get what you mean, smile and then explain. They might not understand the words you say, but they understand your expressions. Physical punishment is a big NO NO in this category.


What do you think about rewards?
Some experts believe that giving rewards to your kids will only cause them to be demanding. Unless you have something for me, I am not going to do it.

In my opinion I think it's OK to reward but don't overdo it. You shouldn't reward your child for finishing her meal or for doing the house chores. You shouldn't reward your child for being nice to her friends or for being polite to the elderly. If it's a basic thing to do, I don't reward them. You can praise them (again, don't overdo it) and give them words of encouragement. 

On the other hand, when your child overcomes her fear, I think you should reward her. Something that's not ordinary or everyday kinda thing. Keira was having cough and she had to stay away from all her cookies, sweet drinks and all her favourite food/drinks for few days, I would reward her when she recovers. 

Explanation. Keira has a very soft and gentle heart. So usually explaining will make her understand.  I will tell her things like "when you don't focus, you tend to spill your food/drinks, then I have to clean it up again, it's very tiring." or "when you do this, it's dangerous. Even if you don't think you'll injure yourself, your sister will. She will do what you do and she will injure herself. I believe you don't want her to be in pain."

Be the role-model. 
"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." - James Baldwin. 

Enough said. 

Last but not least, shower them with lotsa LOVE. I remember I used to tell Keira "when I am angry, I still love you, in fact I still love you very very much... but I don't wanna play with you now because your behaviour makes me feel sad and angry."  

Whatever you do, let love be the motive.

I still fail to hold my anger sometimes, but like what I always said, parenting is a lifelong journey. We make mistake, we improve and we grow along the way. So give yourself a pat on your shoulder and let's move on and be a better parent today!

August 14, 2014

Cooking Soup Made Easy: Electric Pressure Cooker & Claypot

Months ago, I posted the ways I steamed all my dishes using the 3 tiers steamer.

Today, I wanna introduce to you my 2 fav kitchen equipments to boil soup. Now,  I don't have time to keep checking on the soup or rather *cough* I usually forget that I'm cooking some soup when I'm babysitting 4 children. So I found these two appliances to be super useful.

1. Electric Pressure Cooker.
I bought my "mini" 2 Litres pressure cooker about half a year ago. I wasn't so sure if I was going to use it regularly, so as a try-out I bought SKG brand from Lazada and it was only RM149.00, and now it's RM146. (I never heard of this brand before this, but apparently the quality is pretty good.) It is good enough to cook for 3 little children (lunch and dinner). But if you want to cook bigger portion, you have to buy the 5 Litres one.

So this is my unit. You can cook rice, porridge, soup, chicken, cassarole etc with it. So far I've tried cooking rice (with vco), butter rice, porridge and soup. So far so good. It's very time-saving but the electricity consumption is quite high.

It keeps warm automatically after cooking. 

2. Claypot
Again, with this pot I don't have to check on the soup frequently. After scalding the meats, I throw all the ingredients (except leafy vegetables which i usually throw in 5 mins before serving) in the pot and let it boil at high temp on the stove for about 5-10 minutes then turn to lowest temp and let it continue boiling for about 2-3 hours. 

The thing about this pot is it reserves the water, so you don't have to worry the soup gets dry. And usually, after boiling for hours, the fragrant of the soup is thicker and the meat is so tender. And this pot is big enough for the whole family.  

So these are my 2 favorites, what's yours?

August 13, 2014

First Outing After 2 Weeks of Quarantine

After 2 weeks of quarantine, I'm SO GLAD that I can finally bring the 2 kids out. But I still prefer that they have no interaction with other kids yet, just to be safe. Keira will be back to school next week. 

Brought them out to eat their favorite spaghetti... HAPPY!

what is an outing without chocolate ice cream?!?
Their smiles were precious!

And after that, we came back home so that Caedy could take her nap and Keira and I did our baking! I've never really baked, in fact, I don't like baking but seems like Keira has been into it lately. This is our second time baking this week.

We used estimation for all the ingredients and it turned out OK. Not the best cupcakes (and we forgot to buy cupcake liners) but pretty decent for amateurs like us. 

1.5 cups of cake flour (i used "Radiant")
1 cup of sugar (i substituted it with molasses sugar)
1 egg
1 cup of milk
0.5 cup of unsalted butter (at room temp) / vege oil / coconut oil
1 cup of cocoa powder (unsweetened, i used "Van Houten") 
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
0.5 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of coffee powder
Chocolate chips ("i used "Hershey's")

I just mixed all the ingredients using a spatula. Preheat oven 175 deg Celcius and start baking for 20 minutes. Again, you don't expect super moist perfect cupcakes but they are soft (unfortunately, not fluffy) and taste is just nice (not too sweet). Most importantly, Keira likes it and she's proud of herself after the baking session. 

For me, with a cuppa OldTown White Coffee, it's good enough for my tea time snack. 

I quite enjoy a day like this, but definitely can't afford to do it daily. 

August 11, 2014

Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD)

These two weeks have been pretty tough for me and the girls. One of the babies I babysat was down with HFM and he passed the virus to my kids. The thing is, you can't really avoid it because usually the virus spreads even before the symptoms show up. So in this case, baby B got it during Raya break and the parent wasn't aware of it. And when he came and we noticed the rashes, it was already too late cos the kids had been playing together the whole morning. So the kids got quarantined from that day onwards until the day they have fully recovered.

What are the symptoms?
- It might or might not start with fever.
- You might notice rashes on the knee (or the back of the knee), elbow, palms, nappy area and around & inside the mouth.
- They lose appetite to drink and eat.

So how did it all start?
Caedy (my 2yo) played with B on Wed & Thurs. We realized that B was infected on Thurs itself. Caedy got the symptoms on Sunday night (that means incubation period was 3-4 days). She managed to eat a little on Sunday, but from Monday to Wednesday, oh boy, it was like hell broke loose. She was crying, screaming, kicking, throwing tantrum, you name it.

Keira, my elder daughter who is 6yo, got it on Friday night (I suppose she got it from the sister, so incubation period was probably around 5 days). I thought she should be easier to handle since she can communicate well. But I was totally wrong! She was whining and crying all the times too. I mean with all those ulcers in the mouth, I would have cried more hysterically! Anyway I thank God there were no blisters on her hands and feet.

What to do when your kids get infected?

First of all, a pain-killer is a MUST (well, at least for me). I dare not let them eat Nurofen kinda pain-killer though. Too many kids got allergic reaction. This is one of the most recent cases:
So I gave them Paracetamol for children. If they have fever, you can give up to every 4 hours. If it serves as a painkiller, give every 6 hours.

Start from Day 2 after symptoms appeared, Paracetamol alone wasn't enough. So the pharmacist prescribed Cataflam and Oral Aid. It helped to numb the pain so that they could at least drink.

They survived 2 days with almost no food, only Yogurt, Vitagen, chilled juice and Acerola Cherry which is very high in vit C (or you can also give ice cream / ice popsicles). I also gave Keira extra virgin coconut oil to boost her immune system.

Both started eating again on Day 4 and Caedy started drinking her milk again on Day 7 even though she preferred not to drink (but at least she wasn't so scared of the bottle anymore).

What else can I do, the kids are so miserable?
Well honestly, they won't want you to do anything. I offered them drinks hourly (and usually they just got upset when I did that), and just let them be. Just be sure you are always there when they need you. For my 2yo, she wanted to be carried most of the times, so that was what I did the whole day. Whereas my 6yo just wanted to watch TV and do her own stuff.

When you think you cannot take it anymore?

Give yourself 3 days or probably 5 days max. They are going to be alright. It's heartbreaking that they have to go through it. I know how it feels to see your kids hungry but can't eat, tired but can't sleep, but they will be fine soon. When the kids chase you away, don't take it personally. My 2yo screamed and said "Mommy GO!" but I knew she was just saying "Please don't make me drink anything."

What other things should I take note?
Quarantine your kid(s) for at least a week or until the rashes or ulcers disappear. Notify the daycare / preschool / kindergarten / school about it because their stools still carry the virus for a month and they are still highly contagious. Increase their vitamin and probiotic intake for another week. Do expect a little bit of fever (not more than 3 days) or diarrhea or vomiting upon recovery.

Well, this is definitely the part-and-parcel of parenthood. We just got to do what we've got to do. After all, we are the moms (or dads), we are supposed to be stronger than them. So be strong. You can do it and everything is gonna be fine.

March 18, 2014

New Necessities

During this water rationing period, I realize these have become the necessities in the house. In case you don't know, I have 6 children and 2 adults to look after, so no water can be quite disastrous.
But thank God it's still manageable so far. Phew!

1. Large packs of Spritzer (5 packs to be exact)
I refill them with espring water (Amway water filter) every time the water supply is back. 5 packs of 9L water is usually enough for 2 days.

2. Baby wipes
I know I know.. we need to go green. But please just excuse me for this season. I need to stay sane. It's to wipe the kids, to wipe the spill, to wipe my hands after every diaper change, to remove make-up ... well basically everything.

3. Buds' Nappy Time Rinse Free Cleanser
Usually I rinse the kids' bumbum instead of just using the wipes, but since there's no water supply, this nappy cleanser comes in handy. *wink*

4. Disposable foam food containers and disposable spoons
I only use these for my family though. I'm still using proper bowls and spoons to feed the children I'm babysitting. Well, at least I reduce the need to wash those plates and spoons.

5. Glass containers
So I bought these glass containers to store our lunch and dinner. Basically I cook a big pot of dish that can last for 3 days ... Therefore 3 containers. Usually 1 will go to the fridge (to be consumed the next day) and 2 containers go into the freezer. So yeah quite pity the kids actually, they have to eat the same dish for 3 days in a row. Oh well, probably it can be a good time to teach them to be thankful for whatever food we have :D

6. Pails of Water (Duh??!)
I have 5 pails of water downstairs, and 2 big ones upstairs... Yeap usually enough for 1 day. And another day using water from the "tangki".

Oh!! now that it's raining outside, probably I should store some rain water for toilet use eh???


March 04, 2014


OK at first, I thought I am probably not the right person to post anything to ask people not to worry cos usually I am the first one to get frantic and paranoid especially when it is in regards to my loved ones. Then, there's this voice that whispered to me (of cos it wasn't an audible whisper, else I'D HAVE TOTALLY FREAKED OUT) that says someone can't write anything about worry unless he/she has experienced and overcome it. Well, I won't say I have totally overcome my tendency to worry but I have improved (a little bit). 

Many times, things are just out of our control. I know many parents are worried about the haze that has been around for like ages, the crazy hot weather that causes water disruptions, the annoying blood suckers aka Mrs. Aedes Aegypti, the ever increasing illnesses and diseases, stories about maids abusing babies, not to mention the rising cost of living and the list goes on. Recently, all 3 children that I'm babysitting are not well. Some has been having prolonged cough and runny nose for weeks, some has viral fever and is on antibiotic. It's not easy for the parents, and for me. 

But then, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matt 6:27).

Choosing not to worry doesn't mean being ignorant. I am taking precautions and doing my best to protect the children and my family. I make sure the kids stay indoor as much as possible, I spray the mosquitoes repellent in the rooms an hour before the kids' bedtime and then ventilate it before they go in to sleep, I wash their hands & wipe their faces frequently, I increase their probiotic intake to make sure their bodies have strong immune system to fight in this season etc. 

That's pretty much what I can do for them. Other than that, I'm just trusting God that He is in control. I have done my part and I let Him do the rest. This season, too, shall pass.

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 

So don't worry.