Under the sea birthday party

Monday, July 28, 2014

Issit just me or has birthday parties just taken a whole new level?  These days,  birthdays are no longer the simple sit down with the immediate family type. It's so so elaborate! Balloon sculptures, party favours, 3d birthday cakes which cost a bomb, dessert tables, photobooths and more! Wow! Overwhelming seriously! Does the kid even know it's his birthday? Does he even know the significance?  Parents are splurging so much these days on such events that it seems to be becoming norm. But, sorry babies,  mummy isn't gonna throw u such elaborate parties. not until u are 21 at least.  And even then, back then, i merely had a bbq with booze to celebrate the crossover to the next level. 

Anyhoots, we attended our first elaborate birthday party over the weekend. It was her classmate's. N to house such a huge party with such attendance (there must be at least 50pax), you'll need not one, but two houses. Note, it's HOUSES. Yup, I was told that the adults' buffet was right at the back. I headed behind and came to the kitchen which i thought was the back and hence a deadend. No sign of any buffet. A check with the maid and she pointed ahead - cross the swimming pool that has a hugeass octopus balloon sculpture, into the NEXT house where there were MORE guests!
Disco lights at this age? Hmmm..who wants to dance with me? :)
The kids' buffet spread.
The kids' dessert table. But the hubs ended up snacking too! haha
That hugeass octopus in the pool dividing the two houses.
Add caption
Making herself at home.
hmmm what's that behind? I really love it that she's looking very good in dresses these days! Finally she's fitting into her 12mth old outfits nicely! I don't have to alter them anymore! yay!
Forgot to buy a card, so made one very quickly and got Big K involved too!

Review on Studio Loft

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ever since I was pregnant with Big K, I had always wanted to do an infant shoot. Never had a chance coz the hub said it was a waste of money and that he could do the same job with a DSLR. So we borrowed a DSLR from a friend but hardly used it. Bleah. Instead, I did a maternity shot and dragged a very unwilling hubby along. The result: Marvellous. 

This time, I insisted. I jumped the gun before i told the hubs. Paid for everything and informed him. He just had to appear and lend a hand. Period. So naturally he had nothing to complain right? No. The shoot was supposedly to start at 10am and according to the photographers, it should take approximately 2 to 3hours. But wow wee, we ended at a whopping 230pm! By then, the nanny and all of us were hungry and the baby was throughout extremely fussy and cranky. No amount of latching could get him to be in deep sleep. And if he wasn't in deep sleep, photography wasn't possible as the poses were pretty challenging. Somehow, it's in the genes that my kids don't sleep that well. So ya, the hubs wasn't too pleased and said I was torturing my kid. Big K wasn't at her best that day as well. Totally uncoorperative, not wanting to do a family shot, instead, was roaming around. The father, instead of entertaining and keeping an eye on her, was on his phone, playing his silly games. Again.

Ops, have I digressed? The post is supposed to be on Studio Loft itself! Ok. So I liaised with them over email and throughout, the owner and one of the resident photographer, Maryann, was seemingly friendly. Or at least professional in her emails. Thus I signed up a package with them. Only then was I told that I had to top up $150 should i want the shoot to be done in my abode. hmm...I wasn't too keen on bringing the kiddo out at 2weeks old and I know for sure the old foggies at home would complain but well, to save a bit, plus over at the studio they'd have heaps of props, so I decided to risk it and bring the bub to the studio. 

So we arrived and was greeted with a very lukewarm welcome if any at all. They did not even acknowledge our presence or confirm my name. I was pretty lost as to what was to be done. Small K was naturally dressed his best, but was later told by Maryann in a matter-of-fact way that he shouldn't be wearing anything and that they would have corresponded that to me. I swear that was not told to me for it it was, i would be thinking they are MAD to want me to bring a naked baby to them. I mean, during the journey there, naturally the kid has got to be clothed right? Thereafter, there were heaps of fusses and Small K peed on me. Along the way, he pooped too and the photographer in charged seemed a tad impatient. Fortunately, another lady came along. A really nice and young girl who seems to have heaps of experience with infants. She was really patient and patted my boy who was really comfortable in her arms. But the moment he was placed down, the wailing began. I suggested that I latched him and try to put him down. I did and they went down for Lunch! Wow! how unprofessional right? Imagine, I'm way hungry and there you are, eating? The moment I managed to get Small K into position, i had to wave furiously for their attention coz the whole gang was having a feast down there. Along the way, as I was waiting, some of the staff (including the boss) were actually baking in my presence. Interesting i'd say but i can't say all that much about professionalism. 

Overall, the feeling I got from the team was insincere (except for the nice lady who kept carrying Small K and talking to him patiently) and aloof attitude, perhaps because they have more than enough business or that I'm not a big fish. Needless to say, when I left, the team did not even send me off with a proper goodbye. 

One thing i like however was their decor of the place. You gotto love their style. Wish my house were like this. The pictures also turned out really nice. but then again, most infant shoots these days are more or less similar. Oh well, once in a lifetime. Enjoy the photos:

Yup, this was the area right in front of the waiting area for guests, where Maryann was baking. Not sure what was the image they are portraying. Homely? I thought so, coming from a mother of two. But that certainly wasn't the feeling I was getting the moment i stepped into the place.

Breastfeeding journey (part 1): Got Milk?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

 Is tough.  I'm not kidding you.  I used to think it's a breeze and that as long as you are a woman,  it should come naturally and latching is simply the way to go as it's so hassle free! Just plop the little bugger and off he goes to lala land.  Well, at least that was what happened for Big K. Despite being a horrid sleeper (if you are one of the lucky ones who has a baby who sleeps through the night, don't gloat! Babies change every single day! ), all I needed to do was to drag myself out of bed, shove my nipples in, give her a bit of milk and comfort and I'm off for my 1.5 hour nap before the next feed time. 

So why is it so different this time? Well, for starters, Small K is a milk monster! His voracious appetite has led the nanny into thinking that my supply isn't enough and maybe I had to supplement with formula!  That's only Day 2 of his arrival!  Horrors! Whilst milk powder isn't poison, I would certainly appreciate if time was given to my cookies to warm up and produce more!  Plus, at that point, producing 60ml on average was actually very decent and sufficient for an infant that young.  Everyday it was a battle to stop the nanny from using that emergency tin which the hub bought to mediate the situation.  It feels as if the heart has been stabbed a million times when I check on the tin and the levels go down day by day. Clearly,  this cantankerous woman was just carrying out her SOP (standard operating procedure) as a nanny.  The old school believes that formula makes a child fuller hence will be able to sleep longer and better.  Utter rubbish. There's no scientific proof! Plus i keep hearing Small K scream in the middle of the night, in a span of an hour. I tried to convince her of the matter but she was adamant and if looks could kill, I would have died there and then. So yeah, throughout those 25 days, Small K took in half a small tin of soy milk. Why soy you might ask? Well, firstly it's in case the lo has any allergy towards cow's milk. I wouldn't wana risk it. Soy is better digested by the body and apparently according to a certain tcm, it's good for the brains too!

Anyhow,  this time I really had to squeeze out every single drop, bash my boobies and risk those chocolate chips from dropping off! On top of that, at night,  I'll wake up every 2 to 3 hourly to express milk for the little one. Pumping frequently helps to increase supply.  Or so they say.  However, my supply has been increasing at sloth's pace. I've tried everything -- fenugreek, fennel, extra virgin coconut oil,  brewer's yeast and power pumping which takes up a lot of my time and you know how precious time is for a mother.  The supply has increased from 60ml (wk 2) to 120ml at best (wk3). Now at wk 4, i could peak at 150ml. Hey that's not bad actually! But the little monster's appetite is increasing exponentially and he's probably was taking in 100ml or more. So it was a marathon and i was playing catch up. I was unable to build a store then as each time when I managed to pump an extra bottle or two in the day, it would be used up by evening as the nanny would top up secretly each time after my latch, claiming that breastmilk isn't filling, that after a pee, a fart or a poop, the breastmilk is gone. Wow, it's like breastmilk is in gaseous state! She was simply forcing my son into a food coma that's what she's doing! Everyday I hear her telling me that if the boy doesn't sleep,  she can't do stuff.  Why do I want an infant to sleep 24/7??? Plus,  haven't she heard of the wonder weeks? Kids go through milestones every other week! 

Fast forward, I've learnt to ignore and turn a blind eye with regards to the nanny as after she left,  I hit the reset button. However,  that day, I was hit by the three Ds: Discouraged, Disappointed and Depressed.  Not by her,  but by the one who is closest to me and should be most supportive of my breastfeeding journey.  Yes, it's the hubby. I was mentioning to him that I will like to breastfeed Small K for as long as I can as there's so much goodness in it as manifested in Big K. She hardly falls ill and when she does,  it's mild and she recovers fast. I attribute these to my persistence in breastfeeding her for 15 months.  I told the man I wanted to set myself a target of more than 15 months this time.  His reply was curt. He questioned me of my motives and said he wants his son to be chubby and sleep well.  Hrmph. So much for being an educated degree holder! He kept demeaning my supply and said I won't able to catch up with my little milk monster's demand.  Why not I asked?  The yield has shown that I'm matching up well albeit having to go through an arduous track.

I know i had to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to all these insensitive, uneducated people (which happens to be the entire kampung to be honest, sans for my own parents who are supportive in all ways). However, for now I can't help that my hormones are going haywire. Emo.

below is an example of how crazy the nights can get:
330am feeding & burping
4am u decided to poop thus I've to change u
415am apparently the excretion process made u hungry again
420am fed a lil more 
430-445am pat to sleep
445-510am pumping in action
515am you decided things aren't too comfortable n decided to wail. No amount of coaxing n singing could make u sleep
530am time for next feed
540am eyes wide opened refusing to sleep. Great.

Oh well,  such is life.  Anyways here were some of the stuff I had done to up my supply:
I swore by green papaya soup previously but according to the nanny,  peanuts pig trotter soup is suppose to help as well

Look at all the supplements!  Ok I don't take them all at once in case you are wondering. It's crazy isn't it? Well, all in a day's work for a mooing mother. It really takes great perseverance in this breastfeeding gig with the initial pains in latching for new mommies and cracked and sore nipples for others. I recall having strawberry milk during my first few pumps for Big K. All thank to rough handling by the nurses who unsympathetically turned on the pump to its highest! what was she thinking? Was she trying to get my chocolate chips to drop off?!

A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three! So to all breastfeeding mommies out there, do your best and don't be defeated! To all breastfeeding wanabes, Good Luck and be prepared to face all adversities!


Diy confinement

Even though the nanny has left,  i have every intention to continue with my confinement till 40 days. Many would do confinement for only a month, but I wanted to be kiasu this time round. However, i didn't bother about those herbal baths and not touching water after a month. Singapore's weather is just too warm! Prior to birth,  I've sorted things out and got stuff ready except that i didn't anticipate that the nanny would leave earlier.  You see,  I've made arrangements for confinement food delivery and fortunately the owner of Yeyeah delights was nice enough to entertain my requests.  In fact,  throughout our liaison, she has been prompt and patient on her replies.  This despite the fact that Grace,, a mother of three, herself was also having her confinement!  Salute this woman for her tenacity in tending her business.

And so, i managed to get my confinement food delivery to commence slightly earlier. The food are all recommended by their TCM physician cooked and blast freeze. delivery was done every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was initially skeptical as i had thought food from refrigerator meant "wind". A no no for confinement ladies.  I certainly wouldn't want to fart non stop n make the hubs feel that pur bedroom smells like shit again (yes was expelling gas like mad when i had the nanny's food and she claimed it was good as i was dispelling wind). Anyhows, Grace assured me that it was fine and TCM endorsed thus i decided to try it out. No regrets.  The food was delicious! Not to mention, balanced too. A meat,  a veg, a soup and if coz the all important longan water. i especially love their soups! Very tasty and you can certainly see and taste the amount of effort and ingredients that went into it. Solid tasting. Compared to the previous caterer I've used (Chilli padi), yeyeah's food was not oily and their meats were, well, meaty. You see, back then,  Chilli padi had chicken in their menu and it was all oil and bones! All went well till one day, the container holding the longan water gave way in transit and they included kidney, something which I've informed i don't take,  in my menu.  As part of their service recovery,  they offered me a replacement meal.  How nice. 

Here are some of the stuff which was delivered to me. You can see that they offer a large variety of dishes:
I like that they state the nutrition information. 

Something which drew me to take up their package was that they were the only caterer who uses brown rice. In my attempt to be a tad healthier, brown rice is certainly a good start.
Ahhh...soup! glorious soup!! This is one of my favourites! Green papaya with fish! I used to hate this soup when cooked with fish, but they did it in such a way i didn't feel that it was too fishy. In fact, i found myself asking for more at the end of the day. Unfortunately, I can't seem to replicate the taste at home, thus am still sticking with the pork ribs version.
Another favourite of mine: Pumpkin soup. It's not your typical western pumpkin soup which is thick and creamy, never is it the typical Chinese pumpkin soup where the pumpkin is chopped up and not blended like in this case.    
Look at how generous the portions are
Another way to faciliate my DIY confinement was to prepare pre-packed soup packs. Bought them from Chong Hoe Medical Hall at Serangoon Gardens. I usually pick up my dried organic supplies from this shop and chanced upon this. Awesome idea! But extremely expensive in my opinion. One soup pack on the average costs $38. I took only two week's supply. 
  Despite being expensive, the quality of ingredients was truly high. 
Half the time however i don't know what I'm drinking. They all look the same! haha..But it's so convenient. Just soak the herbs in water for 15minutes and pop them into the slow cooker or stove if you have the time to watch over.

The other pack which i bought was the tea packs. Many chided me for doing so as they said it's so easy to boil the longan red dates tea. Yes Of coz i do know it's easy. But this isn't simply about longan and red or black dates...look at the variety they have! (see above and below pictures). In fact, I bought a week's supply of these and every single day it was a different concoction!
After two week's of home delivery (lunch only mind you), I was on my own once again. Thankfully there's mom to buy me fresh produce like fish and thankfully we've got a relatively small but sufficient supermarket down by our block. I was able to whip up a decent meal to continue my attempt at staying healthy. 

Tried making the nanny's marmite chicken but kindof failed. Not gonna be defeated! If she can do it, so can i!
The flasks of longan red dates tea as well as rice tea (米茶)for my daily consumption
Ahhhh...lastly, who can forget. The king of fruits-- Lui Lian!!! YUMZZZ!!! compliments from the uncle who is a durian lover. Apparently, this is a very nutritious fruit during confinement. And since they say confinement ladies are supposed to be immune towards heatiness, I'm attacking the durians by the dozens! hahha ok, not quite!

What I ate during confinement

Friday, July 11, 2014

 So the nanny has left. Despite having a bad impression over her naggy ways, she left a deep print in the kitchen. One reason why we decided to engage her was due to the fact that she was a Cantonese. I knew she will cook stuff to my liking as I'm Canton too. And we Cantonese are known to whip up great dishes. At least the older generations..i'm still working on it! 

Really miss her meals. Every meal was a feast and it was such luxury to have 3 dishes and a soup as opposed to when I did my first confinement (done by the mil), i only had a dish and plain rice. Yup, And i thought I was the most blessed daughter-in-law on earth. Moving forward, meals are definitely going to be a challenge. Cooking is not going to be easy with a toddler hankering for attention and an infant, well, wailing for some reason every 15minutes. That apart, how am I to visit the market with two in tow? Research has pointed me to a certain website which delivers fresh fish/ seafood to your doorstep though -- SongFish Pte Ltd. It's getting me really excited as they've got lobsters, scallops, crayfish and of course fish! But delivery is only free if you spend above $150. not difficult if i get a couple of lobsters, but it's definitely not a long term plan and my fridge might not be able to hold that kind of quantity. Anyone living in the East, wanting to spree on fish? haha..new generation of auntiness!

Anyhoots, here's to share what I had for confinement:

Ginger Ginger Ginger. That's what they believe will rid wind from the tummy. Especially after a csec, the woman is thought to have heaps of wind in the womb. Thankfully this time i wasn't forced to eat the ginger! The nanny said having the taste in the dishes is good enough. Phew. Indeed after almost every meal, I was a farting machine gun! The hub commented the bedroom smelt perpetually of shit! haha

During confinement, not all vegetables could be consumed. The "cooling" ones like melons and kang kong just to name a few, should be avoided. Safe ones would be Kai lan, potato leaves which is believed to be a breastmilk booster and spinach which is iron-fortified are known to be good.
The top left dish is marmite chicken. Not quite a confinement dish but the nanny thought it'd be nice to add variety. N yums! it gets my thumbs up! Note to self: need to try the recipe some time. 
URGH! should have avoided those broccoli! Apparently, apart from legumes, broccoli is another lethal vegetable which causes gas! I was farting till no end  even the little one was farting like a machine gun!
On most days, the soup would be brown or black. Finally i see a clear soup! I honestly don't know what i'm drinking mostly, but i suppose they are all good for me!
This has got to be my FAVOURITE!!! Congee for breakfast! Cantonese style! Love the sticky texture as opposed to the watery Teochew type. According to my MIL though, that confinement ladies aren't suppose to eat porridge as it contains "wind". Utter rubbish says the nanny. Yeah, says the mommy! :P. there was smashed ginger in it, so i guess i'm pretty safe. Also, according to some old foggies, salt/ soya sauce (dark or light) are a no no. I've always wondered why. With dark/ light soya sauce, i reckon it is due to darkening of the scar should you have a csec. A bottle of chicken essence was also a must in the morning. I hate the taste, but since it's supposedly good, I had better pinch the nose and gulp it down. however, some believe that it will keep the infant awake if the mommy breastfeeds. Again, no scientific proof. The TCM physician did advise against it though. Reason being the commercial ones ain't pure and they probably added preservatives. Best to DIY.
i'm suppose to finish all these?? Peanut soup with pig's trotters. Another milk booster. I'm not a fan of pig's trotters but soup, i'll gladly drink. And Cantonese soups are Da Bomb! By the way, some old foggies warns against eating fish during confinement too. I don't get this. Fish = Omega = good no? According to the nanny, who is pretty open minded when it comes to food, it's due to the fact that those old stuck in the mud, unscientific fools as she calls, thinks by eating fish, you will get your erm vagina area to stink.
Pig's stomach soup. Another essential during confinement it seems. Maybe because of the pepper it warms the womb and rids wind. Other than that, my TCM physician actually urge me not to take any innards. Reason being, innards are dirty, contains heaps of weird bacteria. Thankfully, i'm not a fan. Another important dish not featured here, is the vinegar pigs trotters. Again, I'm not a fan of vinegar or pig's trotters, but forced myself to eat a little of the lean meat when she cooked. The hub took all the rest! haha..i think he enjoyed the confinement food more than I did. Anyways, some believe that vinegar helps clean the blood but my physician warns against it, stating that it may thin the blood and blood is very important to a woman. Well, everything in moderation i say.
The food at the hospital were a far cry from the homecooked food. The vegetables were bland but well, they score points for presentation. :)
I thought something soupy for breakfast will make my tummy happy. I was wrong! The soup was so tasteless I could have sworn they simply placed macaroni in hot water and served! I was also told by my physician that one should not take carrots as it will cancel out any nutrients the mommy has taken.
Tea time was however something I looked forward to. Their pastries were pretty nice in my opinion. Nothing fancy.
YUCKS! the most tasteless porridge ever! n watermelon for fruits? I thought it's considered a "coolin" fruit? Once again, if you have to take fruits, take the unrefrigerated ones. Durian is known to be one of the most nutritious fruit, but it shouldn't be taken in the early part of confinement.

AHhhhh this is what i call dessert!! Friend G visited and as if telepathy, she bought me these mini cupcakes from Twelve cupcakes. Aint' a big fan of sweet stuff but somehow, these little minis were a big welcome after all the boring plain stuff!   

Hope the above items didn't leave you salivating! Happy Weekend! :)