Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Diaper Challenge #3: Overnight

 
I must confess, I wasn't too thrilled to partake in this challenge, because I wasn't willing to let damp, cold and leaky nappy get in my way of my beauty sleep. But, the results were rather satisfactory.
 
To achieve the best result, I included the mioboost into the nappy's tuck-in pocket. The mioboost easily fits into the tuck-in pocket on Mio Solo and then I had no trouble inserting it into the nappy. Think it took me less than 40 seconds to do this. Mioboost is a good nappy booster and is able to absorb several times its own weight despite being light.  Guess the tuck-in pocket has its added benefits which will be discussed on Day 5 challenge, so don't forget to return.


However be adding the mioboost, my nappy did feel a little bulky but it did not compromise the elasticated leg cuffs no matter how much she turned in bed.
 
 
This is her, just before going to bed, enjoying her story time, courtesy of her older sibling.

She did not get up middle of the night, but I wanted to be sure she was fine and not cold because I have not gone longer than 5 hours in a cloth nappy.

When she finally awoke at 5am for her routine breastfeeding, I removed her nappy and discovered that the inner lining was still dry but the sides were a little damp. There was no leak and her cute bottom wasn't very cold to touch! That is simply brilliant, I must add.
 
How much urine did it hold, I cant say but the nappy felt much heavier than it was when I put it on her at bedtime. It weighed about 125 gm. when clean and was 250 gm. when I removed it.

To sum up the overnight challenge:
 Uninterrupted sleep equals to
 a well rested baby and
 a happy mummy!
 



Hope you enjoyed my Day 3 challenge review and don't forget to return for more challenges.

Please refer to the link provided to know more about other challenges I will be doing and some interesting information on The Evolution of Diapers

Have a grand day and wishing you and your family a good night.




For child friendly recipes, please head over to my Recipes page



Lets get connected:


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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Diaper Challenge #2: Out and about


I am always out of the house with my little side-kick because we do a lot of stuff together. Usually I tend to stick to disposable diapers because they are very convenient and I can dispose it when soiled, which is not the case for cloth diapers (they are too precious to be thrown away). But for this challenge, I decided to ditch my disposable diapers and replaced that with Mio Solo cloth nappy because unlike the stay at home challenge, there is no nappy bucket for my to dump my soiled cloth nappies. I knew with the right stuff in my bag travelling would be a breeze with Mio Solo


Mio Solo in my nappy bucket for wash while disposable diaper goes into ordinary bin for disposal

These are some of the essentials I added to my diaper bag for my out & about challenge.
Waterproof wet bag or Ziploc

Mio liners
The waterproof bag or Ziploc, to hold your soiled diapers safely so that it does not leak in you diaper bag. But before you do that, you must dispose the nappy liner and fold your cloth nappy into a tight bundle.
My nappy lined with Mio liners (it's not folded) 

Cloth nappy in a tight bundle and safely packed in Ziploc
I found that using the Mio liners helped a lot because it acted as barrier and protected the nappy from being stained with poo. Another good thing about Mio liners is that you can flush it along with everything on it into the toilet bowl. So no need to get you hands dirty trying to knock out the poo while struggling to keep your toddler from touching every part of the toilet.

All you need to do is, remove cloth nappy off baby, turn your nappy over so the liner falls into toilet bowl, roll the nappy into a tight bundle and store it in your wet bag.
This picture diagram shows you how to use and dispose mioliner

We visited many places with Mio Solo and I was most impressed when were in a park. She did  not seem uncomfortable and was quite contended with it.



 
 


Hope you enjoyed my Day 2 challenge review and don't forget to return for more challenges.

Please refer to the link provided to know more about other challenges I will be doing and some interesting information on The Evolution of Diapers


Have a grand day and wishing you and your family a good night.




For kid friendly recipes, please head over to my Recipes page



Lets get connected:


Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.


Thank you for stopping by at A cuppa for my thoughts







Monday, 28 April 2014

The evolution of diapers

It's quite ordinary to follow what your parents did when you were young. Being the youngest from a big family, I had a lot of learning opportunities in many aspects of life.

I remember how exciting it was , when my elder brother had his child. I learned a lot by watching how my mother assisted in caring for her first grandchild and was tasked to fold the baby's diapers. This was in he 90's where disposable diapers were widely and easily available but my mom insisted on using cloth diapers because to her nothing was as good and economical as a flat cloth nappy.

The good thing about cloth nappy was that the baby never once got diaper rash because you are forced to remove it quite frequently. But the amount of work that went into diapering the baby with these flat nappies, was tremendous-washing, sanitizing, drying and folding. By God, it used to take the whole evening to fold these flat nappies.

That got me researching into diapers and I was amazed at the evolution of diapers.

Did you know, diapers has been around for a long time? The diapers you see these days aren't the type of diapers parents used in the past. In ancient times, baby's were wrapped in leaves, animal skins and swaddling blankets. Then it evolved to cloth like linen, cotton and flannel which were cut into squares or rectangles, and held in place with large safety pins to the more modern ones we see these days.

This is how a flat cloth nappy is folded

The Challenge

I was given All-in-One Mio Solo cloth diapers for this challenge which focuses on:

All-in-One Mio Solo Cloth Diaper


 
Please follow this link to read my review for Day 1 Challenge: The Stay at Home Challenge

 
Please follow this link to read my review for Day 2 (29/4/14) Challenge: The out and about challenge

 
Please follow this link to read my review for Day 3 (30/4/14) Challenge: The overnight challenge

 
Please follow this link to read my review for Day 5 (2/5/14) Challenge: The grand dad challenge

 
Please follow this link to read my review for Day 4 (1/5/14) Challenge: The washing and drying challenge

So stay tuned to find out how did my toddler and I fare in these 5 challenges. Each day, we will share loads of information and pictures and I will provide you the links for easy viewing. Hope you will find my review very informative in helping you decide whether cloth diapering is the way you want to go.

Link #1 for Day 1 Challenge: the stay at home challenge
Link #2 for Day 2 Challenge: the out and about challenge
Link #3 for Day 3 Challenge: the overnight challenge
Link #4 for Day 4 Challenge: the washing and drying challenge
Link #5 for Day 5 Challenge: the grand dad challenge

Disclosure: I was not paid for this challenge but did receive Mio Solo cloth diapers from Bloom and Grow Asia.






For kid friendly recipes, please head over to my Recipes page



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Diaper Challenge #1: Stay-at-home



These diapers are quite straight forward to put on, in fact it feel almost like putting on a disposable diaper. Once you get the right fitting for your child - by adjusting the poppers on the nappy to suit your baby's size - it is rather easy and quick to put on and remove. Mio Solo are meant to be used for newborn baby up to toddlerhood, thanks to its generous sizing without being bulky and heavy.


There are three set of poppers on the nappy which offers plenty of room for growth. Which means you can keep these cloth diapers over a long period of time because they are One-size. So there will be no need to get another pair of nappy when you baby grows bigger.


Here is my baby in her purple Mio Solo, which incidentally is my favourite colour. Although it is recommended to change nappies regularly, every 2-4 hours, I wanted to test its absorbency hence I left it on her for more than 4 hours.
To my surprise, the inner lining was quite dry even though the absorbent core was very wet.

The elasticated leg cuffs were very comfortable and did not leave any nasty marks on her thighs. Yet it is strong enough to hold in baby's pee and not cause any leakage. The contoured design was another plus point that gave a lot of room for her to move freely in her diaper without feeling the pinch on her thighs or tummy. I was not able to do the front cross over Velcro, because she is quite big and this is more suited for newborns or very thin babies.




Hope you enjoyed my Day 1 challenge review and don't forget to return for more challenges.

Please refer to the link provided to know more about other challenges I will be doing and some interesting information on The Evolution of Diapers

Have a grand day and wishing you and your family a good night.




For kid friendly recipes, please head over to my Recipes page



Lets get connected:


Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.


Thank you for stopping by at A cuppa for my thoughts




 



Thursday, 24 April 2014

Not just a pretty face

It is a tall (very, very tall) order for any person to judge a baby in a baby contest because babies are just so irresistibly adorable and simply cute. Who can resist a small curvy body, large eyes, short thick limbs, sweet smelling, soft and supple skin of  baby. These characteristics and more makes them so special that they are able to make us (adults) fall head over heels, the moment we lay eyes on them. A love that you want to share with everyone you know.

Well now you have an opportunity to do just that!

Johnson's Baby of the Year (BOTY) 2014 is back and it will be running from May 1 to June 30. This would be their 23rd annual contest but this year it returns with bigger and better opportunities. So expect more winners and more prizes. There will 3 categories which are age specific
  1. 0 to 12 months
  2. 13 to 24 months
  3. 25 to 36 months
A total of RM100,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs.
And there will be 3 winners from each group. The grand prize winner will be taking home RM10,000, a chance to appear on the cover of a magazine and a hamper worth RM1,000.

Mystery solved

I remember reading comments such as "that baby isn't cute enough" or "there are better looking babies than the grand winner" when Johnson's Baby of the Year 2013 was revealed. Well it is good to know this year the contest is not about a pretty face alone. It is more than that because participants will be judged on their holistic growth which encompasses:
  1. Cognitive development
  2. Social and emotional development
  3. Healthy growth
Another beauty of this contest which I am excited about is, Johnson and Johnson's collaboration with OrphanCare, a non-profit organisation that helps abandon babies and orphans find loving homes.
For every entry, RM1 will be donate to OrphanCare Foundation. I think this is simply brilliant! Why not share a slice of your cake with the less fortunate? Although the amount is minimal but the possibilities are limitless. No matter what the number of participants may be, OrphanCare will gain some financial aid from this contest.

So if you think you are ready to share the apple of eye with the whole country to see, this is how you can join the contest. It is very simple and straight forward.
  1. It is open to children from 0 to 36 months as of June 30, 2014
  2. You are required to submit 2 photographs (via their Facebook page or participating outlets or using snail mail - all details can be gathered from their Facebook page)
  3. A minimum purchase of RM15 of Johnson products is necessary to submit your entry and you may submit as many entries as you wish - one RM15 receipt entitles you to one entry.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of BOTY2014 at 1-Utama to get first hand experience at what this contest curtailed. There were many booths set up at the event and equipped personnel who were eager to share and help out in every way possible. They even had some games for the guests to kick off their shoes and let their hair down. My children and I certainly had some fun and goodie bags to take back home with us.

This poster spoke to my daughter


Time for some fun and games


Growth chart, explained

Willing and eager participant




I have already submitted my entry. What about you?








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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I left my employer for a tougher boss

 


Wish granted




A couple of years ago, I had to make the hardest decision in my life thus far. The list of pros and cons showed a massive tilt on the cons side of things. The cons bore down on me heavily.

Listening to some friends and family expressing their concern over my decision, just made it tougher. I still vividly remember the time when I had to express my intention to resign. When I finally gathered the courage to walk into my superior’s office to hand in my resignation letter (after crying my heart out in the office restroom before), he spent the next full hour consoling me. He told me it was alright and that it was very selfless of me to put another being's need before my own.

 


Fast forward


Today, as we were driving to meet my mom-in-law who is battling cancer, my husband looked at me and said "Thank you" for doing what I did. If I had not resigned, it would have been very tough to travel this often to meet his ailing mom and that "it was the best decision we ever made".

Like any profession, stay-at-home moms have their own shares of ups and downs. It is not easier than being a working mom, neither is it tougher. It is simply different. I still have mixed emotions on being a stay-at-home mom but am usually won over by the output I see reflected in my children’s actions and mannerism.


In the good ol’ days

When I was a working mom, I used to believe life must be quite easy and simple for stay-at-home moms. That they spent their whole day lounging at home with no care or stress. Boy, was I wrong! I take back all the snide remarks and thoughts I made when I saw these mothers leisurely pushing their baby in their stroller, window shopping while I had to hurriedly fill my tummy during my short lunch breaks.

I used to say to my other mummy friends, how I wished I was a stay-at-home mom so that I would have all the time in the world for pedicures, manicures, long lunches, many coffee breaks and no deadlines. How I would not have to worry about beating the morning rush and being in the office before my boss. How I would not have go the extra mile to gain the promotion and salary hike and getting dressed for work (Yes! I loathed the arduous morning regimental practise of a working woman - make up, neatly pressed clothes and polished court shoes.

Let me repeat "Boy, was I wrong!" 
 

Today

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, most of my wishes were granted but with a twist. I finally understand what the phrase 'be careful for what you wish for' actually means. It sunk in pretty good.

I got the very long lunch breaks, too long to be honest. Sometimes my lunch breaks can stretch to two hours, because it is not easy trying to feed a toddler who is learning the meaning of independence and using the word “NO!” as if it’s the only good word to know.

Forget about going to a nail salon, I can’t even find time to cleanse, tone and moisturise properly because I am too preoccupied worrying about what is my little side kick is
up to while I am taking my 3-minutes shower.

Did I time myself in the shower? No! I discovered it recently, when I managed to get in and out of the shower before the song - 'Let it go' from Frozen - ended.

But life as a stay-at-home mom, is not all that bleak.

Before I bore you with all the extrinsic values of being a stay at home mom, let me tell you this. It is truly the BEST DECISION EVER I have made.
There are days, you would hear me complain about how unhappy and lonely I have become or feel under appreciated but these days are not often and don’t last long. There is a mantra I keep referring to whenever I feel doubtful.

If you stay at home with children and realise you made a mistake, you can always go back to work, but if you go to work and realise you made a mistake, you can never get back your children’s early years.

Those years are gone, forever. The sands of time and all that.


My mornings are no longer as chaotic and it's brilliant when you don’t have to rush in the morning. Today after a light drizzle, the park looked exceptionally beautiful because the trees shed it's flowers and covered the surrounding ground with them. The usually hard and prickly ground felt very soft to step on. The girls had a wonderful time walking and opening the flower buds which fell on the ground.




 



This is the kind of opportunity I had missed performing with my older child because I was a working mom then. I spent just over 2 months with her before I had to return to work. But I managed to do both - be a mom and still hold a career. Everything seemed fine because I made sure she had everything an infant, toddler or child needed. I was a ‘by-the-book’ parent, feeding her body and mind with the food and information recommended. Little did I know I was neglecting a big part of her, her soul and emotions. But luckily for me it was not too late. She may have picked up a few habits from all the years she spent in her nanny’s care but I am glad they’re slowly eroding. It is evident to me, she is becoming a more confident and caring person.

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I feel I’ve become a better person. It has taught me to stop being cynical and negative. It has also taught me to be more careful with my words and take time to reflect. I know I am not the most patient person you’d probably have met and can easily get offended, but nowadays I try to hold back and let these troubling thoughts just pass me by.

Kids are like sponges, they absorb everything they see and hear, especially when they’re not supposed to.

I am now extra careful when I am driving with them present in the car because they are watching and learning my every move. Even when you think they are busy doing something in the back seat of my car, I’m being observed with hawk like eyes.   

I remember not long ago, I loudly cursed at a car overtaking me and blocking my way. At the mention of the forbidden word, I could see through my rear view mirror their tiny heads bobbing up like meerkats. The very next day my 4 year old mimicked my curse loudly and proudly when the car in front of us stopped. Unfortunately for me, on that day my father in law was sitting next to me. So when he asked her why did she say so, she simply said “Mummy said so!” Imagine how flabbergasted I was! What explanation could I have offered? I just kept on driving, all communications ceased. Luckily for me, it was a short drive.

 

Be a good role model

The best thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can help develop and shape my children’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I am not so worried about their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) because I know, they will eventually learn it in school and many other institutes, picking it up along as they grow. But I cannot say the same for EQ.

With a solid base or strong foot holding, I believe my children will survive in any given situation later in their life. I know I am not going to be around forever to help or guide them in their trials and tribulations, so I can only hope to equip them well enough when facing these times of adversity. That they will possess self-awareness and self-regulations needed to emerge calm and not cause harm to another when they are facing their own calamity. Because it is usually easier to vent our frustration on others than learning to channel it positively.

To be empathetic individuals that can understand the emotions of others and learn to treat them as they wish to be treated.  
To have a strong drive to achieve whatever they set their mind on, no matter how long and arduous the journey may be.
To not focus solely on external motivations like remuneration, recognition and status.
To not feel intimidated or too shy when they meet new people in new territories.
To be able build a rapport meeting someone new. 

It is a tall order but it is achievable and I have already seen some of these traits appearing.

Each time I see my child reach out to help another person or shed a tear after listening to how there are many less fortunate children, I feel I did something right. A couple of days back, as I was busy packing some clothes, which my toddler had outgrown to give away to an orphanage, I asked the girls to help pack these clothes. What impressed me most was that they went through each piece of clothing to make sure it was in very good condition. When they saw I did not have much, they gave away some of their more new clothes. When I asked why, they said just because these children did not have parents and lived with little, didn’t mean they only deserved our unwanted clothes. “I want to make them happy, the way I felt when you bought me this dress”.



 



This article was featured in BabyTalk magazine (April 2014)

 




For kid friendly recipes, please head over to my Recipes page



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Linking up with Greta and Angela






 





Thursday, 10 April 2014

Soy milk for you and your family (Philips)

Who doesn't love the rich and smooth taste of soya milk? It can be drank cold, which is my favourite or warm. It can also be turned into bean curd jelly, famously known as tau fu fa served with white or brown sugar. I just finished a bowl of tau fu fa for lunch which was quite filling and satisfying.
Soya bean (also known as soybean) is a species of legume native to East Asia and according to Chinese myth, a certain emperor of China proclaimed that soya bean was one of the five sacred plants.
It is a good source of protein which is relatively cheaper compared to other protein source.  Whole soya beans can be cooked, roasted, fermented or sprouted. Traditionally unfermented soya bean foods are soya milk, tofu and tofu skin. While fermented are soya sauce, tempeh and fermented bean paste (naming a few).
Soya beans are good for you because they are:
  • high in fibre and protein
  • low in saturated fat
  • cholesterol and lactose free
  • a good source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • a source of antioxidants
The traditional method of making soya milk is by soaking, grinding and boiling the soya beans. Sounds quite straightforward but in actual fact it is not. Because it means you need to be present throughout the whole cooking process, blending the beans and making sure it doesn't boil over. It took me much longer to make soya milk the traditional way when compared to using soy milk maker.
My review of the soy milk maker and consumption of soy milk is not as a substitute to milk but as a supplement due to it's goodness and taste. When you begin transitioning your baby off breast milk or formula milk to other types of food and drinks, soya milk can be a good choice. It can complement cow's milk and help diversify baby's protein source. You can also make available in many flavours which may appeal to children who dislike the plain taste of cow's milk.

Philips Soy Milk Maker HD2072


With this nifty gadget, I was able to prepare aromatic and fresh soya milk for my family at a press of a button and within half hour - it takes me longer to go out and purchase a bottle of soya milk. It does require some advance planning but it is worth it when you are sitting back sipping your freshly made soya milk which is free from any additives.

Ingredients

1 cups of organic soya beans (please ensure that the soya beans are Non-GMO and not laced with certain chemicals which help prolong the life of beans and stop early sprouting)
20gm rock sugar (the amount of sugar can vary depending on how sweet you want it or omit sugar and add some brown/white sugar before serving).
Water about 900ml

The method

Wash and soak beans for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Once the beans have soften, discard the water and put the beans and sugar into the soy milk maker together with some fresh water until you reach the minimum line on the inner pan of the soy milk maker.
Cover the lid, plug in your soy milk maker and press 'soya'. It will take about 25 minutes of swirling, steaming and boiling before the soya milk is ready.

This is where this machine won my heart because while it was doing its technological magic preparing soya milk, I was busy playing with my toddler. I did not need to be around watching over it. (Although I must admit, I was a little kiasu and kept running to the kitchen to ensure everything was in working condition)






Once it beeps (indicating the cooking process is completed), sieve it using the doom shaped sieve which comes with the machine. It yield about four cups of soya milk which you can serve warm (immediately) or store it into boiled jars and these jars will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days (mine hardly survived the day because my kids enjoyed the creamy and aromatic soya milk).





Few things to note:
You are unable to change the amount of water because the machine requires you to adhere to its minimum (900ml) or maximum (1100ml) water level mark. However you can play with the amount of soya beans and sugar to suit your palate.
  • 1/2 cup soya beans yielded a very thin soya milk
  • 1 cup soya beans yielded a very creamy (almost milk like) soya milk
  • 1 1/2 cup soya beans yielded a very thick soya milk (was too thick for my liking) 
Using rock sugar instead of brown or white sugar, produced a much more aromatic soya milk with a very subtle distinct taste. 

To get a creamy and not beany taste, you will need to sieve soya milk a couple of times or use a cloth strainer/sieve.
Removing the soya bean skin (after soaking it) is not necessary but I did because I had too much time on my hands.

Results
Making soya milk is quite rewarding because homemade soya milk is richer in taste (creamier) and aromatic. Most store bought soya milk has added preservatives and chances of the manufacturers using non-organic and genetically modified (GMO) soya beans are likely.  It cost much cheaper too if you and your family consume soy milk daily.

Cleaning
Although it comes with an "Easy Clean" button, you will still need to manually clean it, to ensure no residue is stuck to it and thus contaminating it. You cannot submerge the pot and must be careful washing it. There is a waterproof cap which safely covers the coupler for save washing but I still think extra care must placed when washing it. The same apples when washing the twin boomerang-shaped blades because these are attached to the lid which holds all the buttons. the pot is fairly easy thanks to its stainless steel inner pot. However you need to be extra careful when washing the lid because

What do you get with a Philips Avance Collection Soy Milk Maker HD2027
  • Five programs to enjoy your drinks easily: soymilk, 5 grains soymilk, rice paste, fruits/veggie drink and vegetable soup.
  • 5 recipe cards
  • Specially designed sieve
  • Measuring cup
  • Soya milk cup
  • Cleaning pad
Some detailed specification of Philips Avance Collection HD2072/06
  • Capacity 1.0 - 1.3L
  • Voltage 240 V
  • Outer housing is plastic and inner is stainless steel
  • Priced RM499
The cost of making soya milk at home with organic, Non-GMO soya beans is still cheaper than store bought soya milk. As mentioned, this small kitchen appliance can make more than just soya milk. Here are some other drinks I made using it:

Strawberry and banana smoothie using almond milk


Vegetable soup which I used as stock to make oats

Banana milk shake

Strawberry smoothie using almond milk



Disclaimer : I am not a licensed Dietician/Nutritionist and the information provided is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your Heath provider prior to starting any diet.



The best food for your babies is the food nature intended; breast milk. Many studies have shown that babies that are exclusively breastfed have a good immune system and are protected against many diseases like eczema, asthma and allergies, heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetics and many more. If you are unable to breastfeed, there are many formula milk available in the market. Please note that, soy milk or cow's milk is not recommended for babies under the age of 1.

Disclosure : I did not receive any form of compensation for writing this review. I did however receive a demo Soy milk maker from Philips (which has been returned), for me to use and share my experiences using it. This article was also featured in Babytalk magazine (April). 



For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

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