Saturday, 17 November 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday!


A pink top and a swirly ballet tutu skirt. Cooked breakfast, packed lunch boxes. Sent the birthday girl to kindy. Walked 20 minutes to the wet market to buy fresh salmon, fruits and vegetables. Reached home. Boiled a soup and marinated her favourite baked salmon.

Packed 15 party packs. Thought I'd love to be a party planner - changed my mind after stuffing 15 bags with candy, fruit, snacks and toys! LOL

Crashed on the bed after a quick lunch. Set alarm clock.

4.00 pm Picked up big brother and we set off to her kindy.


Tea time - Toddler was seated at her place, having her tea like a little princess. Where is our monkey???

Teachers helped set up the birthday cake, candles and plates. Mamarazzi busy at work :D

 Toddler stared at candles. Puzzled when the teacher handed her the plastic knife: "What am I supposed to do with this?" LOL

Cool as a cucumber when everyone sang "Happy Birthday".

Funny for someone who's been baking "birthday cakes" and singing the birthday day song SIX MONTHS ahead of her birthday -_-

Birthday cake was a total letdown - too much cream, too little cake. Mummy bake next year's birthday cake? Cheaper, healthier, tastier.

Watched 15 toddlers + 1 kid eat cake.

Passed the party packs to the toddler to distribute. Big brother helped out too. Phew!

We all walked home. Kids play.

Fry noodles, bake the salmon and prepare a salad.


Hubby arrived in time for dinner. Yum yum. Ice-cream cake came out. Kids started to jump!

Toddler yelled, "Dora cake! Dora cake!". Actually, it's just a girl's face.

She was happy: "WOW! So nice! Hahaha! (claps hands) Mummy,mummy, mummy - my cake so nice!" :D (I'd ordered a pink heart cake but the bakery messed up the order.)

Kids stuck the candles. Big brother switched off all the lights hahaha. We yelled, "Not yet!" and the lights came back on. Hubby quickly lighted the candles, big brother switched off the lights and we all sang "Happy Birthday".

Then, the big brother snagged the chocolate bits and popped them into his mouth!

Luckily, the birthday girl was OK. She's happy with her "girl".

A wonderful celebration - kids loved the cake, kids goofed around with each other, I was happy with the birthday noodles and Hubby was happy everyone was happy!

The next morning, the toddler woke up, singing, "Happy Birthday you you!" hahaha.

Next year, my dear, next year...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Sushi or Kimbap?

My son loves sushi and has repeatedly asked me to make it for him to pack to school and one morning, I did it!

I am afraid that my sushi and onigiri would fail in Japan in terms of aesthetics:

  1. the rice was still warm and the heat melted the seaweed
  2. the cucumber and carrot were a bit thick that they resembled Korean gimbap / kimbap

But you know what? The little guy LOVED every morsel of it and even requested for me to cut the salmon bits thicker next time :)

Here's the D-I-Y onigiri kit I used to shape the onigiri. I found that plastic triangle the most useful: 

Note: Due to the risk of BPA (bisphenol-A) leaching from plastic into food, I did not use the plastic wrap. 

In any case, this little kitchen experiment was fun even though it began at 5.30 in the morning! :)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Immunizations or vaccinations for children

When we moved to China, one of the biggest sacrifices our kids have had to make are to take additional vaccinations.

Personally, I would only give my children the minimum required number of vaccinations.

Because China is still a developing country where you find hospitals / clinics specializing in tuberculosis (TB), my children have had to take the following vaccines:

1. Hepatitis A - both kids

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness.Globally, there are an estimated 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A every year. The hepatitis A virus is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person. Hepatitis A is associated with a lack of safe water and poor sanitation.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is primarily spread when an uninfected (and unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with a lack of safe water, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure), which is associated with high mortality. Hepatitis A occurs sporadically and in epidemics worldwide, with a tendency for cyclic recurrences.

Every year there are an estimated 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A worldwide. The hepatitis A virus is one of the most frequent causes of foodborne infection. Epidemics related to contaminated food or water can erupt explosively, such as the epidemic in Shanghai in 1988 that affected about 300 000 people. Hepatitis A viruses persist in the environment and can resist food-production processes routinely used to inactivate and/or control bacterial pathogens.

2. Japanese encephalitis (JE) - my daughter

Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease that infects animals and humans. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and in humans causes inflammation of the membranes around the brain. Intensification and expansion of irrigated rice production systems in South and South-East Asia over the past 20 years have had an important impact on the disease burden caused by Japanese encephalitis. Where irrigation expands into semi-arid areas, the flooding of the fields at the start of each cropping cycle leads to an explosive build-up of the mosquito population. This may cause the circulation of the virus to spill over from their usual hosts (birds and pigs) into the human population.

The virus causing Japanese encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes belonging to the Culex tritaeniorhynchus and Culex vishnui groups, which breed particularly in flooded rice fields. The virus circulates in ardeid birds (herons and egrets).

Pigs are amplifying hosts, in that the virus reproduces in pigs and infects mosquitoes that take blood meals, but does not cause disease. The virus tends to spill over into human populations when infected mosquito populations build up explosively and the human biting rate increases (these culicines are normally zoophilic, i.e. they prefer to take blood meals from animals). Chemical vector control is not a solution, as the breeding sites (irrigated rice fields) are extensive. In some rice production systems faced with water shortages, however, certain water management measures (alternate wetting and drying) may be applied that reduce vector populations.

Personal protection (using repellents and/or mosquito nets) will be effective under certain conditions. Eliminating the pig population is often a measure taken in the wake of outbreaks. Certainly, the introduction of pig rearing as a secondary source of income for rice-growing farmers in receptive areas must never be encouraged.

3. Rubella - my daughter

Rubella is an acute, contagious viral infection. While the illness is generally mild in children, it has serious consequences in pregnant women causing fetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). The rubella virus is transmitted by airborne droplets when infected people sneeze or cough. Humans are the only known host.


In children, the disease is usually mild, with symptoms including a rash, low fever. The rubella vaccine is a live attenuated strain that has been in use for more than 40 years. A single dose gives more than 95% long-lasting immunity, which is similar to that induced by natural infection.

Rubella vaccines are available either in monovalent formulation (vaccine directed at only one pathogen) or more commonly in combinations with other vaccines such as with vaccines against measles (MR), measles and mumps (MMR), or measles, mumps and varicella (MMRV).

 Adverse reactions following vaccination are generally mild. They may include pain and redness at the injection site, low-grade fever, rash and muscle aches.

4. Meningococcal - my daughter Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated. The meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, has the highest rates of the disease.

Comment: Hmm...if this disease generally affects the African continent, maybe my daughter doesn't need it? (Source: World Health Organization)

I feel sorry for my son the most because the last time he visited the pediatrician, he had to take a blood test to check if he's still got the Hepatitis A immunity.

She said that he could skip it if the antibody levels were high but, unfortunately for him, he needs it.

My daughter? I wonder if she's able to take 3 doses at one go!

I definitely dread having to take the both of them to the hospital, especially when my husband's not around.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Week 1: Real Food Challenge: Two fruits and vegetables per meal

The Real Food Challenge (Week 1): Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.


Since we usually eat a hot breakfast like Chinese porridge, there's always a green veg or pickled veggies as accompaniment.

For the kids, I'd include diced tomato/bell peppers into our scrambled eggs, which the boy will eat as he hates tomatoes.

The girl loves tomatoes though with her bacon/ham and eggs :)


The toddler will have no problem since she's always having a soft porridge like this colourful potato, carrot and celery porridge:

For lunch, I fixed this salad for myself during the first week of the "Real Food Challenge" , which is a protein + vegetable salad or 香肠 (sèlā).

 Lettuce leaves (生菜, shēngcài)
 Cherry tomatoes (西红柿, xīhóngshì)
 Cheese sausages (香肠, xiāngcháng)
 Balsamic vinegar dressing (色拉调味料, sèlā tiáowèiliào?)

1. Tear up lettuce leaves into squares or strips.
2. Wash and half cherry tomatoes. You can also leave them whole.
3. Cut slits in the cheese sausages and grill them in the oven for 4-5 minutes.
3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar dressing all over the salad and dig in!

P/S I later realized that the cheese sausages are processed food but what choice does a working Mom have for now?


I had no problem having 2 vegetables for dinner when my ayi was around because she'd always cook a BIG plate of leafy greens...

Plus, we'd always have a type of fruit for dessert.

Hmm...looks like this Mom will have to do a bit more meal planning to achieve this goal.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Real Food Challenge

This year, I turned 38 and my sweet babies presented Mummy with this lovely heart-shaped cake:

Celebrating my birthday with my two little ones got me thinking seriously about our health. Why?

More and more people are dying young from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. I don't want to be part of the statistics - I want to be alive to watch my kids grow up.

Thus, I started looking at our daily diet. We all know that we need to eat a healthy diet i.e. chemical-free, organic foods that are in their original forms i.e. "real food".

Unfortunately, eating a healthy diet isn't easy because real food is expensive and difficult to find. 

Processed food? You'll find them anywhere and everywhere - bread, candy, cookies, junk food and even "health food" loaded with sugar and preservatives disguised in brightly coloured packaging.

Furthermore, fast food restaurants are EVERYWHERE and they do an excellent job marketing their products and keeping their dining area clean.

Like I said, it's a challenge for us to eat healthy or "real" food but some people can do it.

For instance, I am inspired by this mom who came up with '14 Steps to Cut Out Processed Foods':

Week 1 : Two fruits and/or vegetables per meal – Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.

Week 2: “Real” beverages – Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine (preferably red) will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day).

Week 3: Meat – All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). - Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and - when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.

Week 4: No fast food or deep-fried foods – No fast food or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.

Week 5: Try two new whole foods – Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you’ve never had before.

Week 6: No low-fat, lite or nonfat food products – Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”

Week 7: 100% Whole grain – All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.

Week 8: Stop eating when you feel full – Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.

Week 9: No refined sweeteners – No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

Week 10: No refined oils – No refined or hydrogenated oils including (but not limited to): vegetable oil, organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.

Week 11: Eat local foods – Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.

Week 12: No sweeteners – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.

Week 13: Nothing artificial – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.

Week 14: No more than 5-ingredients – Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients no matter what ingredients

Can we do it? We're gonna try. Wanna join me on this challenge? :)