Apr 14

Exams are kǎo shì (考试)

In the next few weeks, our son will be taking his mid-term examinations, which will include Composition, Reading Comprehension, Science, Math and Moral Studies in Chinese.

He enjoys Science and Math but struggles with Chinese composition.

As we do not have a private Chinese tutor, you can imagine how stressful it is for us to review his lessons especially as I am a full-time working mom AND we have a chatty preschooler who demands my attention with,

“Look, Mummy!!! I am drawing you and a house.”

“Look, Mummy, this is a ball machine! These are all the balls zug-zug-zug going round and round and round. Now, they are marbles!!!”

This weekend, in between:

  • washing, hanging, folding and putting away the laundry,
  • cooking a simple dinner,
  • juggling the 2 extra-curricular activities,
  • going to the wet market for school snacks,
  • shopping for new school uniforms (he has outgrown his “sparkling white” shirts),
  • finishing his Chinese homework and
  • cutting them fruits for a balanced diet – yup, they’ve been a bit low on fruits this week!

he managed to complete 2 sets of Chinese composition worksheets, which involve filling in the blanks, matching exercises, lots and lots of rearranging words to form complete sentences and basic composition (picture-based).

He balked at basic composition and some of the more challenging fill-in-the-blanks, whining that he could NOT do them.

First, he was distracted by The Christmas Toy Factory (Geronimo Stilton, No. 27) and Thea Stilton and the Secret of the Old Castle: A Geronimo Stilton Adventure.

Second, his happy-go-lucky preschool sister was chatting and singing as she happily coloured and sketched out some fun stuff.

Of course, Tiger Mom would stand no such nonsense since his composition skills in English are perfectly fine.

Armed with a Chinese dictionary and of course, a plastic clothes hanger (rapped on the dining chair) to ensure no wriggling, we managed to work out some new Chinese words and phrases.

With a bit of encouragement and some weary “Good!” and “Go on…”, he figured out some sentences and he could even complete a short passage with the required phrases.

Now, the rascal is enjoying some cartoons with his little sister while I have to fix dinner and get ready for school and work tomorrow!

A few whisker-licking-good weeks ahead ;-)

Apr 14

How to Bake Bread with Lebensstil

Q: What’s the best smell in the world?

A: Freshly baked bread!

Can you see my tot bending down to take a good whiff? :D


Now, let’s begin at the beginning.

Last year, I got a Lebensstil Bread Maker, which was sadly left in the box for a long, long time due to work, kids, housework, life, what else?

One Sunday evening, I decided: I AM GOING TO BAKE BREAD.

Out came the bread maker out of the box. To be honest, I know nothing about bread makers. Ovens yes, bread makers, no.

As gung-ho as I was, I thought it wise to read up a little and Lebensstil makes it easy for novice bread makers:


Unfortunately, the manual cum recipe book that came along with the bread maker was not as newbie-friendly because all I got were measurements and not instructions.

Lucky for us, YouTube yielded this easy-to-follow video on how to bake a basic loaf with the Lebensstil bread maker. The video also eased my gadget fear as it demonstrated that you could open/close the lid while it’s rising/kneading:

Here’s the control panel, which shows no. 1 (a basic loaf with a light color) and the total time (3 hours and 5 minutes) required to mix the dough, let it rise, knead it and finally, bake it:


The kids had a bit of fun watching the “magic” happen:


Finally, the loaf of bread is ready!!!


I lifted the pail out of the bread maker and let it cool down before turning it out. Ahh…the delicious smell…I really felt like closing my eyes and taking a deep breath the way the actors do it in TV commercials LOL

Anyway, I left the freshly baked bread on the dining table and shooed the kids off to bed.

Ha, the kids tossed and turned and then a little voice said, “Mummy, I am so, so, so, so hungry! I need to eat the bread…” Hahahaha

Out of the room the kids ran, excitedly watching me slice the bread and spread with butter and jam.



P/S Since I used the basic setting, the bread had a rather dense texture. I am going to give it another go, only this time allowing the dough to rise a bit longer. Fingers crossed for a lighter, softer loaf :)

Mar 14

Takara Tomy CrossFight B-Daman eS

Both my kids are obsessed with Cross Fight B-Daman.

Last Christmas, they begged me for it but since I couldn’t find them, they got home made Christmas cookies instead LOL.

This year, we stumbled upon some fake B-Daman at the wet market that I bought them one each. Unfortunately, a plastic part broke after repeated play…

To his credit, my son disassembled both fake B-Damans and re-created one that both of them could share. I was impressed by how they used some plastic box lids to create their own “B-Daman Crossfire Break Bomber Battlefield Set“.

Since both of them are such super kids, I decided to buy them the original B-Daman.

First, we went to Toys R Us but all the B-Daman were sold out! Poor things.

Anyway, it’s a blessing in disguise because they spent hours reading reviews on YouTube (can you believe it!!!)  and finally decided that they wanted:

Takara Tomy Cross Fight B-Daman eS CB-51 Starter Sonic = Dravise Rapid Fire Type (US$15.99)

My son chose this character because he liked the feature where the marbles could be stored in the feet the feet had wheels?


Takara Tomy Cross Fight B-Daman eS CB-60 Special Set Garuburn DX Version-Up Set Power Type (US$20.99)

My daughter chose this fiery-red B-Daman because she likes the 2 springs???

Takara Tomy Cross Fight B-Daman eS CB-60 Special Set Garuburn DX


Let’s see if I can find these marble shooters!

Mar 14

REVIEW: Yoga Zone – Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners)

Since my last blog about the last visit to the gym (sob, sob) and my one and only yoga session with the kids in July 2013,  I have only managed to work out at the children’s playground ONCE last week.

Anyway, I mean to get back into the groove and was glad to find Yoga Zone – Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners).

I love yoga because all you need are form-fitting clothes, a mat and a well-ventilated area.

yoga-zone-for-weight-loss-al-binghamI love this VCD because Al Bingham, the yoga instructor does a good job explaining the various poses (or asanas) as he goes straight to the point and reminds us to inhale, exhale and check our posture throughout each pose.

I also like the fact that 2 students demonstrate the yoga poses at 2 different levels:

a) Beginner - Her yoga poses are usually done with her knees bent and she also doesn’t do a full plank pose but a semi-plank i.e. a pseudo push-up position where you kneel on the floor.

b) Advanced - Her yoga poses are the real deal with no shortcuts :D

Having beginner and advanced level students in this yoga video is great because I’m currently at the beginner’s level (due to lack of practice!) but if I continue with my yoga, I could reach the advanced level later – I don’t need to buy another CD then. You’re getting a 2-in-1 package here.

In the first thirty minutes, Al Bingham, the yoga instructor guides you through the most basic and most comprehensive of all yoga poses – the sun salutation.

I could only put in 20 minutes because that’s about the longest my preschooler could flip through her books or play on her own ;-)

Nevertheless, I broke out into a sweat and I *know* that my thighs are going to ache tomorrow from all the stretching especially during the chair pose.

Yoga Zone – Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners) feels very much like the gentle, deep breathing practice of hatha yoga I’m trained in.

Besides the clear instructions, I also like that Al Bingham and his two “students” are at the beach with the sea behind them. The power of visualisation helps a lot here to help me relax and also to let me forget for a while that I’m in the living room of our tiny apartment hehe.

There is a “bonus” session of about 20 minutes, which introduces meditation for relaxation. Although Al Bingham doesn’t talk too much about the Eastern / Hindu philosophy behind yoga, he drives home the point about the importance of achieving balance – he’s serious about helping your body AND your mind feel good.

Although the CD says that it’s for beginners, I don’t think you should buy the CD if you plan to learn yoga from it. If you really want to learn yoga, it’s best that you find a yoga center and learn from an experienced and qualified yoga instructor who will teach you the basic philosophy of yoga, diaphragmatic breathing and also the importance of correct posture.

Yoga Zone – Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners) is excellent for a yoga student who wants to practise the sun salutation or basic asanas like the cobra pose, the chair pose and the warrior pose.

It’s also a good CD for “old” yoga students who need a refresher course from the comfort of home.

So…anyone else doing yoga too?

Mar 14

Do You Know I’m Waiting For You? (你知道我在等你吗?)


MH370 – where are you? What happened to you?

We are all waiting for you, praying for you.

We hope to see you soon.

Since I am familiar with the scene of waiting for a delayed flight, I can only imagine how frustrated, scared and angry the family members and friends feel as they wait, pray and hope for news of where the missing flight is.

If I were them, I would be shouting through a microphone:


Hang on, dear friends, and please know that many, many, many people around the world are waiting and praying together with you. {{{{{{{{{Hugs}}}}}}}}}}

Mar 14

Photobooks for Kids

A colleague shared with us the photobook she created for her kids today and it was so cute!

She had 40 pages of all her favourite photos in it and we just loved looking at them.

When most of them had left, she told me more details about almost every photo and both of us sighed when we came to the part where her kid is now a toddler – “How fast they grow!!!”

Yup, my little girl will be going to the “big” in a couple of years and I still haven’t got her photobook done. What’s more, my boy may be as tall as me next year and his photobook is not done either!!!