Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let Kids Play Like Kids

Almost everyday is Halloween at our home. J likes dressing up! He was an Egyptian Mummy yesterday.

Today he was a Pirate. Maybe tomorrow he'll be a SpiderMan or Batman!

J is capable in entertaining himself for a couple of hours.  He's full of imagination and he'll say the cutest thing to his miniature toy soldiers.
After that, he'll move on to another play idea. His recent favourite play was getting one of us to pull him around the house. He'll be sitting in a box attached with dad's belt.
I believe children who are force fed their entertainment with TV and video games will eventually loose the ability to entertain themselves. But when viewed or played in moderation, they're great entertainment.

 Ways to boost your child's creativity:
  • Limit TV, computer time,
  • Visit the museum, library, see musicals, plays or attend concerts,
  • Get activities that have no right or wrong rules - lego, playdoh, creating shape puzzle
  • Play 'what if'. Ask them questions like - what if you're stuck on the moon? What if you're a horse? What if you are invisible?
  • Let them have free play - with no learning goals or educational purpose. You'll be surprise how imaginative and happy they'll be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mom's Birthday.

It was mom's birthday and we went to Daikoku Restaurant @ Takapuna. It's a Teppanyaki style restaurant where the Teppanyaki Chef cooked our meals in front of us on an iron griddle.
It was my second visit to Daikoku Restaurant. The first visit was in Botany and I found both these establishments needed some revamp (furniture, carpet, paintings looked old).
We all went for the 'lunch special' menu which costs only $13.80 and it comes with small portions of miso soup, salad, steam rice, we get to choose either steak/chicken/fish, vegetables and ice-cream for dessert.
This was my fish version with some vegetables (courgette & onions with sesame seeds). The taste was alright, nothing too fancy (no yum yum sauce or butter). I'm sure J liked watching how his food was cooked in front of him as he was quiet (not running around) for that period of time.

Some tips on eating out with young children:
  • Eat early. This ensures they're not too tired to eat properly and means the restaurant may not be as busy, less customer so service will hopefully be a bit quicker.
  • Bring along some colouring books & crayons - in case the restaurant don't provide this.
  • Download short cartoon series on to your mobile so they can watch while waiting for the food.

Daikoku Takapuna
156 Hurstmere Road
09-488 0678

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

School Holiday Plan

In two weeks time, it will be J's first school holiday! It's 3 weeks of holiday and I'm already thinking: will he get bored staying indoor with this cold/rainy season, will he be watching too much tv or playing video games, where should we bring him, will I be running out of activities for him to do at home??
So, this school holiday, I've planned for J to:
  • Join school holiday swimming programne (Mon-Fri, 30mins)
  • Go to the library once a week
  • Go indoor rock climbing
  • Invite some of his friends over
  • Dad to build a bird house with J
  • Look through my 365 TV-free Activities book for some cool stuff to do
Hhmm...what else can I do? Do you have any favorite activities you do with your kids? Hope I don't run out of ideas...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Swiss Market Day

My husband L, is half Swiss & half Malaysian. He was born in Zuerich, lived most of his life in Zuerich, still have families back in Zuerich and misses some Swiss food.
Our little boy J, was also born in Zuerich and lived 2 years of his life there. He misses the snow in Zuerich!
Me? I lived in Zuerich for 8 years and I misses the architectural, Christmas Market, Gluhwein, the tram, white do miss Zuerich that much? Anyways,

Last weekend, we went to a Swiss Market in Danish House, Penrose, organized by Auckland Swiss Club.  Upon arrival, we instantly felt like we were back in Zuerich. We could hear familiar dialect spoken (Swiss German),  and the smell of warm cheese, creamy rich Swiss chocolate and freshly baked Swiss style bread. There was also some Swiss craft which was interesting for little J.
We went home with some sausages (bratwurst & cervelat), chocolates and bread.

It was nice to have such market, but it would be even nicer if held outdoor like how they have it in Zuerich.  Well Done!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Annies Fruit Bars

I have been chosen to sample a selection of Annies fruit bars and these are the ones sent to me today.

a) Veggie Bar - with apple base
b) Wiggles Berryfruit - with apple base
c) Wiggles Summerfruit - with apple base

I was a bit excited to receive Annies fruit bars, as we're not huge fans of fruit bars, muesli bars or cereal bars because most of them are too sweet, too sticky or too mushy.

Everyone in the family tried the bars (yes, including grandma and grandpa) and these are the feedback:

  • Grandma - "Good, not too sweet for me. Not as sticky as other fruit bars. Yes, good. Leave the packaging, can get a few next time." 
  • Grandpa - "Hmm..not bad. Taste like 'Haw Flakes'
  • The husband L - "'s alright. The taste is slightly bland but good for the kid"
  • The son J - "Yum! Can I have more? I more raisins"
  • My comment - "I actually liked it. Yes, it does taste like 'Haw Flakes' and I like the fact that it's not too sweet, easy to bite and not very sticky. I can easily fit these bars in the handbag and not worrying about it getting crushed because of the texture."
Annies Fruit Bars are good substitute when we're carving sugary food. There's two strips in each packet so I can keep the other one for later or the next day. Prices are affordable too. I'll be looking out for these fruit bars the next time we go shopping.

For more information: 

Dragon Boat Festival aka Rice Dumpling Festival

Rice dumpling is glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo/pandan leaves.
Rice Dumpling Festival or Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 16th June 2010 this year and it's celebrated amongst the Chinese world wide. During this festive season, some families gather everyone to make rice dumplings and some uses rice dumplings as offerings to their ancestors. There is no strict rules on what you must do as this is not a religious event.
Some buy their dumplings, some make them (if you have the skills and time) and they exchange or give the dumplings to relatives & friends and watch the dragon boat race if there's one near your place.
These are dumplings I got from a friend and it's a vegetarian version. The dumplings are nicely wrapped and steamed. It has shitake mushroom, nuts and dried soy in it. It's so delicious! Thanks Rita!

A short version of the Dragon Boat Festival story:
In ancient China, there was an important minister called Qu Yuan. He is known for his loyalty to the emperor and he loved his country greatly. However, the emperor did not listen to Qu Yuan and was finally captured by their enemies, which then lead to his death. 
Sad and angry at the corrupted dying kingdom, Qu Yuan threw himself into the river. The people then make rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and threw them into the river. They believe if they do so, the fishes will eat the rice dumplings instead of Qu Yuan's body. Some would row their boat down stream, beating drums to scare the fishes away and this was how the name of the festival came about.
Since then, the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese calendar has been set as Duan Wu Festival to remember the incident. Although there were versions of legends and stories that indicate Duan Wu has existed way before Qu Yuan's death, the tradition still carries on.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Burning Calories While Sitting Down?

The other day, I read an article about How to Burn Calories While Sitting Down! Wow...this is the best thing I've heard this week. So, from now on, I'll be doing this when sitting down:

  • Keep my mind busy. Concentration, thinking and planing can burn more calories than an ideal mind.
  • Chew a sugar free gum coz this simple activity can help me burn 11 calories per hour. (I'll be stocking up on sugar free gum!)
  • Laugh and tell jokes while sitting down. Watch funny movie or American's Funniest Video. 10-15 mins of laughing can burn up to 50 calories.
  • Do simple stretching exercise like rotating my hands, neck exercise and some leg stretch.
Conclusion, I'll be fidgeting more now while I'm sitting down. Keep moving! even when sitting down!
(picture above, taken from the web)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Swimming for Life

Everyone in our family knows how to swim and knows the value of swimming for children of all ages and how it can later benefit them in life.
J started swimming when he was about two years. We enrolled him in babies class where L was required to be in the pool with him. It was to get J familiar with submersion, breath control, kicking and jumping.
When it was time for him to moved up another class (daddy not required in the pool) it took him a while to settle down. It was something different for him and he was crying the whole 20 minutes of class. It was really difficult for us to watch. Seeing/hearing him begging us to give him a hug or come into the water with him was heart breaking. 
Finally, after about 4 weeks of struggle, he was doing just fine and now...he wants to swim everyday if he could!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Encourage a Boy to Read

We as parents, constantly worried about our children. Are they eating well, how are they coping in school, are they mixing well in class, on and on and on...
I am worried that my five year old boy is not reading well as he's not showing much interest in reading. So, I bought these Scooby-Doo Picture Clue Book (level 1) for him (he likes anything monster, ghost, vampire & mystery)
I think it's fun, easy and entertaining. J recognizes some key words and with the help of the pictures, he's keen to read (at least he's trying-that's the whole idea, to get him interested in books)
I got a really good bargain from the Scholastic flyer he brought back from school. I just fill out the order form together with credit card details and return it to his school. 10 books for $128.89 $39.-
I'm planing to get more books from Scholastic-hopefully a Spiderman, Ben10 or Buzz Lightyear to keep my busy little man reading.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hair Cut

J used to get really anxious during a hair cut session. It was a nightmare. L used to have him sit on his lap and I had to hold his head and the hairdresser do a super duper quick cut. Maybe they're not experience enough doing toddler's hair but we sure are glad that episode had passed. Didn't want to look like we're mean bad parents! Pheww...

We've found a hairdresser near our place. It's cheaper than other places we've tried and there's no long Q. Parking is also not a problem, we parked by the roadside, bring J in and ten minutes later we're done! This lady converted a part of her house into a salon and when ever you need a hair cut, just give her a call and she'll either stop her washing or ironing to cut your hair. How handy is that?

Gendo One Hair Shop
42 Summerland Drive
09-837 0061
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm

Friday, June 11, 2010

Colour my Lips & Nails!

YES! My Nutrimetics lipsticks & nail polishes are here! (for mom, I mean)
a) Spice Delight
b) Caramel Kiss
c) Wild Orchid
($10.- each)

The Wild Orchid is mine, so I tried it on and love the subtle colour. For my age (early 30's), I don't want something too brown or teenager kinda pinkish colour.
Mom tried on hers as well and she likes it! Trust me, when she says she likes it, it's good. She have heaps of lipsticks.

a) Hibiscus
b) Ruby Rose
c) Base & top coat
($9.90 each)

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

Since we've removed all the carpets and replaced them with laminated flooring (8mm Malted Oak) two weeks ago, dirt & dust are more visible and we need to vacuum/sweep at least twice a day! This is hard work. LOL
So, instead of having to take out the big bulky vacuum that is attached to the house, we bought a stick vacuum cleaner from Briscoes at only $80.- (full price was $199.-)
The good thing is, it's slim, rechargeable so there's no cord. It's also lightweight and will almost certainly become the first tool you grab when you see some dust/dirt.
Happy Cleaning!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Long Weekend

It was a nice start and everyone was looking forward to the long weekend with Queen's Birthday and Teacher's Day coming up.

Our Saturday morning breakfast:
cheese, few sausages & ham with alfafa sprout, homemade raisin waffle (peanut butter, honey, nutella spread)

We planned to go Skycity for lunch the next day and also to Orewa Hot Pool but the plans soon went out the window when J got the 'croup'. We had no choice but to stay home and keep him relax.
He is recovering well and going back to school tomorrow!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Farmer's Market

Almost every Saturday, we go to Oratia Farmer's Market

to get this crispy, juicy cute apples! It's a nice size for J and he usually eats 2-3 of them depending on his mood. It's only $2.- a bag and you get to fill up your own bag (plastic bags provided) The apples run out very fast so if you like to get hold of them, make sure you go early.

It is also a nice place to hang out, relax and enjoy the live band.
I like this kind of market because most of the things are organic, fresh and natural giving me the feeling I'm back in Europe. During warmer days you can have a small picnic on the grass area, listening to music. The good thing about this market is you get to try some samples before you buy. Besides the market, there's an antique shop, cafe and health store as well. J loves going to the antique shop!

Oratia Market opens every Saturday from 9am-12pm and it's at 99 Parrs Cross Rd, Waitakere City

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What's for dinner?

This is what we had for dinner:
  • string beans cooked with garlic, Himalayan salt & pepper,
  • ginger chicken in soy sauce,
  • steam fish with ginger again,
  • left over steam egg with pork seasoned with salt & pepper.
served with brown rice. Yummy!
(I know, my portion is too big!)

Ever since my parents are here, J have Chinese herbal soup almost everyday. It's believed that these soups will make him strong and healthy. Hopefully he wouldn't be needing his inhaler ever again.

This is clear chicken soup with goji seeds.
And of course, J being J, when it's time to eat, he wants to draw. When it's time to read, he wants to talk. When it's time to do his homework, he wants to sleep. When it's time to go sleep, he wants to watch TV and it goes on and on....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just mommy & son

Last week, J and I enjoyed our mother-son outing. We went to watch a play at ACG Sunderland - Sam Spud Private Eye. We had the first row, shared a bar of chocolate together and laughed together. It was so much fun I would do it again anytime.