Category Archives: Lifestyle

Easter Inspired Food

It’s Easter and it is also the start of school holidays for me, which means time to rack my brains to come up with activities to keep the little ones from tearing the house down and driving me bananas with constant badgering about how bored they are! Hence this quick post is dedicated to having some fun with the little ones cooking! Cooking with kids can entertain them for hours and enjoying what you make with them is a bonus! Here are some Easter inspired ideas:

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Sleep Patterns

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The best advice I can give in regards to sleep in the first month is “Try to sleep when your baby sleeps”. In the first month sleep is probably the one thing that you will crave most but sadly will not get much of especially long uninterrupted sleeps. The silver lining is that it does get better so just hang in there!

During the first few weeks you will notice that your baby tends to sleep most of the day and play during the night! Don’t be alarmed this is normal as they are not able to distinguish between day or night and are simply doing what they have been doing in our womb. That’s why if you are like me find your baby seems to be active and kicking in my stomach more during the night than in the day. For this reason the first month can be extremely difficult and if there is any offers for help during this month take it up. I was lucky and had mum help out for the whole first month! Not sure how I would have survived with her!

To help baby adjust to a day and night routine there are a few things we can do to speed up that adjustment so that eventually baby distinguishes that day is for play and night is for sleep! Which will help us get our sleep back on track as smoothly as possible.

Firstly, it is very important that we try to help our newborn distinguish between day and night as quickly as possible otherwise you will be pulling your hair out during the first month due to the lack of sleep but also the stress that comes with having little or no sleep. During the day have all curtains and blinds open even if baby is asleep it helps them to recognise day has light plus if you have a jaundice baby like I did, the UV light is good for the baby. Jaundice is quite common amongst Asian babies if left untreated can cause liver and kidney damage, but rest assured it is easily treated and most doctors usually pick it up during your hospital stay. Also, during the day give baby plenty of playtime such as tummy time, music time, and some TV for noise is good. Some activity lets baby know it is day even while it is asleep try to continue with what you are doing for some noise it helps baby to recognise its morning.

During the night try to keep the room dark and quiet, but if you are like me and feel uncomfortable having your newborn in complete darkness a soft night light or lamp is good. I also preferred to play some soft music when I put baby down to sleep at night but reading to it prior to bedtime is good too. Whatever you do try to stick to that routine it helps baby to recognise that this is night time now. If you find baby has trouble settling down try giving them a warm bath prior to bed time this helps to relax them and I find they settle quicker and sleep longer after a nice bath. My son still sleeps straight after his bath irrespective of what time he has his bath because he is so use to that routine from birth. If baby cries or stirs during the night try patting baby on the bottom gently while singing softly to them this helps to soothe them back to sleep. Avoid picking them up straight away if they cry at night unless they are screaming in pain. You will slowly recognise and distinguish between a cry for attention or a pain cry, call it a mothers instinct. So if you stick to a usual morning and night routine this will go a long way to helping baby sleep well not only during the day but also most importantly during the night.

The only other important thing to help baby sleep better is providing a safe and secure environment for your baby. Having a proper cot to put baby in will make it a lot easier to settle baby and keep them asleep longer. Check out my post on choosing a cot if you need help or are confused as I know there are so many different ones available. Avoid putting excessive heavy blankets on your baby as overheating them can cause stress and disturb their sleep. Instead of thick blankets if baby is born in winter put baby in a baby sleeping bag my recommendation is the Grobag which is what I used for my son and absolutely love it as it was very easy to put him in. You can check their website here at www.gro.co.uk However, my friend has also recommended the Ergo Pouch which she used and said that her daughter never got too hot in it. Their website is www.ergopouch.com.au. For the first couple of weeks swaddle baby before putting them to sleep. Swaddling helps soothe and comfort them while they are asleep. Swaddling baby while sleeping instead of putting blankets on baby helps to reduce SIDS as advised by my maternity nurses. I love the Aden and Anais range of swaddles, yes the same ones used by the Duchess of Cambridge for her little boy. The Aden and Anais swaddles I find are more light and breathable compared to the flannette ones the hospitals supply. They also show you how to properly swaddle your baby on the website www.adenandanais.com.au. I love their range of baby products and take forever browsing their website. Try to keep baby’s cot as clear and minimal as possible. No pillows, teddy bears, dolls or cot bumpers should be put on baby’s cot in the first month to help reduce the incident of SIDS. Lastly, I know in many Asian cultures we were told to put baby on its tummy or side to sleep as putting it on its back will give baby a flat head (does this sound familiar?) But currently based on recent medical research putting baby to sleep on it’s back is the best way to reduce SIDS. So this is my recommendation and both my boys slept on their backs and I can guarantee both have round heads not flat ones!

The Confinement Period

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Photos Courtesy of Thuy Tran
Photos Courtesy of Thuy Tran

Welcome to the first part of my series of post dedicated to the First Month! In the first post I thought I will look at the Confinement Period and it’s significance in Asian culture. I also thought it was appropriate to start this post sharing some wonderful images taken by a family friend who is also a wonderful mother and just and all round talented and creative woman. Just love her culinary and photography skills.

The Confinement Period is usually the first month of a baby’s life and also the first month being a mother. As all Asian mothers know the first month is called the “Confinement” period because you are basically confined in your home for a whole month. During this period you are allowed as far out as your backyard but no further so if you are like me it was basically a little like a prison sentence but I know some of the reasoning behind it, whether you agree with it all not if you are Asian you basically have no choice!

The Confinement period is usually govern by strict rules and regulations. Some of these rules are based on age old wives tales but others have some merit. So in this post I will attempt to identify some rules that I believe are old wives tales while identifying the rules and procedures I stuck to for the whole month.

The main wives tale that our Mother and Grandmother would like us to follow was that we should not wash our hair for the first month after giving birth. The main reason for this is they believed if we wash our hair during this first month we are more likely to get headaches and migraines later in life. However, if you are like me and can not stand to go a day without washing my hair how was I going to survive a month without doing that? Hence, this was one of the rules I chose not to abide by and it was mainly because I believed that migraines can be caused by a number of different reason and is not directly attributed to one washing their hair after giving birth. Therefore, I have classified this rule as a wives tale.

Another procedure was that you had to heat a brick, wrap it up with a towel and put that on your tummy for an hour. I was mortified when I heard you had to do this and yes you might have guessed from
my reaction that this was a procedure I did not follow. However, I did compromise with my mother and my husband by putting a hot water bottle on my tummy for an hour. They were happy for me to replace the brick with a hot water bottle. The main reason for doing this was to flatten your tummy and get it back into shape! Wasn’t really convinced about that but I did find it relaxing and warm having the water bottle on my tummy especially since I had my son during winter and found it good to fall asleep with. So it is totally up to each individual whether you want to classify this as a wives tale or not.

The next rule is strictly no physical activities, my parents literally wanted me to stay in bed pretty much for the whole month. It is pretty much common belief that your uterus hasn’t returned to it’s normal position so any heavy lifting or heavy exercise can cause problems later on as your body is trying to adjust post baby. Part of this made sense so I couldn’t classify this as totally old wives tale, but staying in bed for a whole month doesn’t make sense either. I did some research and light exercise like Pilates or Yoga is actually very good for you post baby. These form of exercise can help you relax and sleep better. Try to avoid strenuous exercising such as aerobics and body combat for at least 12 months. This gives your body plenty of time to heal and get back to normal. I know that some celebs pretty much bounce back to normal after giving birth but if you look after your body you will reap the benefits in the long term.

Another procedure was a daily ritual of a steam bath. I really thought this was a wives tale but my parents were unwilling to budge on this. So hence, I had to undertake this steam bath in a daily basis for 2 weeks. The steam bath involves boiling a pot full of herbs such as eucalyptus and lemon grass and also a splash of Chinese wine. Once the pot has boiled you are meant to strip down to your undies and cover yourself and the pot with a blanket, bear in mind leave a distant between yourself and the hot pot. The idea is to inhale the herbal steam as it will help to cleanse and heal your body. At first I was abit skeptic of this procedure but even my dad was adamant that I do it. I had no choice but even after the first time I felt really good. My skin felt cleaned and fresh and I was surprisingly very relax after each session. After an hour of the steam bath you wipe yourself dry and then have a quick bath and you feel pretty awesome afterwards! I will try to find out what goes in the pot if people want it but most Asian parents will know what to put in there. It is pretty much standard with only one or two variations on the ingredients.

Next is your diet during the Confinement period which is probably the most important part of this period. During the Confinement period you are pretty much limited to what you can eat. If you are lucky enough like I was all my food during this month was prepared by my mother. This is due to the fact that you have to avoid any fatty and high processed foods during this month. Most of the food must be steamed, grilled or baked rather than fried and your diet must be mainly made up of fruits and vegetables. Fish is usually preferred over meat but you still need to have at least two days of some meats to get your iron intake. All this is important as it is believed what you eat is what baby will eat through you breast milk so the diet becomes very important especially in the first month as baby’s tummy is still in it’s early stages so a good diet it thought to help baby avoid any tummy aches. This I believed to be true so I stuck to the strict diet regime for the full month. After the Confinement period your rules for your diet is relaxed but I chose to try to stick to a relatively healthy diet for the duration of by breast feeding period. There were lapses of the odd fast food but hey you can’t be good all the time right?

Finally, the only other wives tale that I would like to touch on is the going without a bath for at least 2 days after giving birth. It is believed that having a bath straight after giving birth will make you catch a cold and weaken your immune system in your later years. However, modern medicine have dismiss this wives tale. You are encourage to have a warm bath after birth to firstly clean yourself from all the blood and guts from child birth and secondly to relax after the intense pain from child birth. I understand during our parents and grandparents generation warm water wasn’t readily available and having a cold bath straight after delivery may cause a cold if the mother’s immune system is already weak, but that was the past and a nice warm shower is readily accessible now so I chose not to follow this procedure.

Well that concludes the first part of my series of post. I hope you find some parts of this post useful. Bearing in mind I only touched on some of the rules and procedures common during the Confinement period there are some others that people may follow that I didn’t. If there is some other helpful procedures I haven’t touched on, it would be great if you can share it on this post.

Fun Food Ideas For Kids

As a parent we all can agree getting kids to eat their 5 fruits and vegetables on a daily basis can be quite a frustrating task. So I thought I will share some interesting ways to make the dreaded fruits and veges a lot more interesting and enticing for our little ones to enjoy! Hopefully this quick little post will make cooking with the kids more fun!

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A Quick Guide To Birthday Parties

It’s been awhile and I have been looking around for some inspiration for my next post and thanks to a very busy few weeks attending numerous kids birthday parties which I must say has been perfectly organized by some of my dearest friends has led me to this latest offering for my blog site. Kids birthday parties have come a long way since I was a kid and I have to admit the last couple of parties I have been lucky enough to attend is nothing short of spectacular. I have found more and more parents are going that extra mile to give their kids a day that they will remember and for many guests as well a truly memorable experience. Although I must admit it does come at quiet a cost and it looks like in today’s society some families are prepared to fork out the dollars to give their children that big birthday experience. So with that in mind in this post I will try give many out there a quick guide to organizing a kid’s birthday party. So buckle down and enjoy my little birthday adventure.

THE THEME

I believe the starting point to all great parties is to decide on a good theme. Once you have decided on the theme organizing the rest of the party is relatively easy. For their parts most kids will be able to help you decide which theme they would like for their birthday. For the girls I have found that more recently the “Frozen” theme has been hugely popular thanks mainly to the success of the movie. Ideas using this theme is endless, in my part of the world I have seen performing arts students dressing up as Anna and Elsie on weekends and hosting these Frozen theme parties which is great. They perform some of the popular songs in the movies and organize Frozen themed games for the kids and seriously who wouldn’t want to be a princess for the day? Following on from the Frozen theme other popular traditional girls themes seems to be Fairies, Barbie, and Princess themes. However, if you want to sway slightly different I have always been a huge fan of Hello Kitty and I think this is great as a birthday theme as their are quite a lot of merchandise available for Hello Kitty to help you create this particular theme. Now on the boys side of things Ben 10 and Spiderman theme birthday parties are usually very popular. But my number one theme for boys is the Pirate theme as you can always organize a great outdoor treasure hunt to entertain the kids for hours. For something different that is also unisex is a Carnival theme where with this theme things like fairy floss and toffee apples will surely bring joy to many kids and I must admit some adults as well.

Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty
Frozen
Frozen
Pirates
Pirates
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

THE FOOD

Once you have decided on the theme the rest is a breeze. Probably my favourite part of any birthday party is the food. With the food let your creativity run wild. Draw inspirations from popular cooking shows such as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules. Long gone are the days of mini sausage rolls and pies, it seems these days people are tying in the food with their party themes which is great and very imaginative. Also, I am finding more and more party foods are a lot healthier than they were in the past so more in the tummy does not necessarily equate to more on the hips. PERFECT! Thanks to my clever cousin I have included some of her wonderful cooking skills and excellent photography skills as well for you to draw some inspirations on what types of party foods you want to serve up.

Watermelon Jelly
Watermelon Jelly
Mini Sweet Treats Delight
Mini Sweet Treats Delight
Cupcakes Are Great!
Cupcakes Are Great!
Japanese Sushi With A Difference
Japanese Sushi With A Difference

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The Entertainment

Again modern day parties have an endless selection of Entertainment options. For a boy’s Pirate theme Treasure Hunts are both fun and entertaining. As for the Frozen theme parties you find that you can hire Performing Arts students who dress up as Elsie and Anna and perform games and sing songs from the movies which the kids love! Magicians, balloon people and clowns are still popular. However, my son went to a party recently and they had hired Mad Scientists who conducted different science experiments with the kids and from what my son told me they thoroughly enjoyed it. Games such as Pass the Parcel and Pinatas remain the choice of many kids parties.

Butterfly Pinata
Butterfly Pinata
Unicorn Pinata
Unicorn Pinata
Pass The Parcel
Pass The Parcel

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The Cake

Last but definitely not least is probably the centre point of all birthday parties the Cake! Every year my choice of birthday cake seems to be whatever is the flavour of the month in my son’s world. At 2 it was Thomas the Tank, at 3 it was Mickey Mouse and at 6 it was Spiderman. What really surprises me is how many talented cake creators there are available. The results of all these cake ideas transformed into reality is truly a work of art and the taste are never compromised either which is simply just amazing. I have included some great birthday cakes creators but they are all local from Perth but I am pretty sure there are some amazing cake creators in all parts of the world.

Ruby's Patisserie
Ruby’s Patisserie
Happy Cakes
Happy Cakes
Divine Design
Divine Design

Decorating The Playroom

A playroom was one room I would have loved to have as kid growing up but never had the chance to have a dedicated area in our house just to play and simply just be a kid. So when I became a mum besides the nursery the playroom was the other most important room I wanted to do right. I wanted to dedicate a room for my son to go and enjoy without me having to worry about anything. I also wanted him to view this room as his inner sanction a place that is just for him to have fun. So I put a list together of things that I could put in this room to decorate it and make it safe and enjoyable for him and I thought I would share that list with everyone on this blog. It might just be fun reading this blog or you can get some ideas to decorate your own playroom or play area.

THE MAT

The first thing I purchased for this room was a play mat. I did some research and then came across SoftMats and let me tell you they are amazing. True to the name they really are soft with plenty of cushioning and like many toddlers my little boy has had some tumbles thus far but luckily this mat has cushioned all his falls with not so much as a tear from these mishaps. So I can confidently recommend these mats for any playroom. They are an Australian company but I am pretty sure they will deliver internationally, their website is:
www.softmats.com.au

Dwinguler Play Mat
Dwinguler Play Mat

The Toys

Selecting what toys to put in the play room was like being a kid again for me. Children today have so many choices when it comes to toys and I have to admit it was fun choosing what to buy for them to play and enjoy. So firstly for the girls you really can’t go wrong with a Doll House. As a little girl I always wanted a doll house and back then there weren’t anywhere near the quality you can buy today. Here are two of my favourite doll houses but your options here are certainly endless:

Imaginarium Doll House
Imaginarium Doll House

And for the more serious Doll House collector check out www.dheaustralia.com. The Doll House Emporium guys have some seriously good selection of houses for any girl’s playroom.

The Mayfair Cream Doll House
The Mayfair Cream Doll House

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For the boys start with a good Train set they will love this even as they grow older. So you will get plenty of use from this over the years. I found the most popular train set was definitely the Thomas the Tank Engine range partly due to the popular TV show.

Thomas and Friend Wooden Railway Table With Playmat
Thomas and Friend Wooden Railway Table With Playmat

But closely second the Imaginarium guys do a more detailed train set with so many parts to build and play with and believe it or not is cheaper than the Thomas range.

Imaginarium Wooden Mountain Range Train Set Table
Imaginarium Wooden Mountain Range Train Set Table

Finally for all the adventurous and active boys and girls the Lerado range of play house and activity climber is my recommendation. Check their website out at www.lerado.com.au
Their products comes with the high safety and quality ratings. But with that comes a high price tag. If Lerado is out of your price range there are cheaper options at places like Toys r us.

Lerado Forest Playhouse
Lerado Forest Playhouse
Lerado Lovely Games Room
Lerado Lovely Games Room
Lerado Activity Climber
Lerado Activity Climber

The Furniture

To round out your playroom add some furniture and your room is ready for some endless fun. I had a look around and I have to admit the guys at Pottery Barn have some good stuff here. I wanted a drawing table that they can sit and draw or paint and I fell in love with the Pottery Barn Table

Carolina Play Table Collection
Carolina Play Table Collection
Carolina Play and Craft Table
Carolina Play and Craft Table