Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Marginal Kerastitis.... Continued

Since ophthalmologist diagnosed my eyes with Marginal Kerastitis a month ago, I have successfully kept myself away from wearing contact lenses (I have gotten rid of the newly used contact lenses and the opened solution bottle too!) for about a month now.

Please clap for me.

OTW to a birthday party: My gal and I.

The first week of not wearing contact lenses was nothing short of frustrating. I was in constant bad mood and lazy to do anything because I could not see things near and far very clearly, even with my specs on.  I was in such a bad mood I almost wanted to break my spectacles' frame into two so many times in a day (but didn't eventually do so because you know, new pair of specs are not exactly cheap lah... and money doesn't grow on trees). I got pretty bummed I didn't even bother cleaning my house for days (where's that infamous OCD lady that looks like me living in my house?) because I could not even see if my house's floor was dirty or what so why waste my energy and time, right? #Out_of_sight_out_of_mind This happened for so many days until one night, my husband asked me to vacuum clean our bedroom's floor because there were so many fallen hair strands (mine!) scattered on the floor. Moreover, I got so lazy putting up make up when going out because any eye looks, especially eye-shadows and eyeliner, are often rendered useless for specs wearers.

In that first week sans contact lenses on my eyes, I frequently complained to my husband that everything I saw was very blurry. I could not watch TV nor read the texts on my hand-phone or laptop without having the tip of my nose touch the screen. My current specs were not comfortable because they're too big for my face. I was overall still not used to wearing my specs and they gave me mild headache especially when I had to go out or drive. Alas, I thought I needed to get a new pair of eyeglasses with correct power measurement as mine was made nearly two years ago.

One Saturday afternoon, my husband brought me to an eye-wear shop not far from our home to get new glasses. After about an hour examining my eyes, two opticians in that shop gave up. One of them wrote a reference letter for me to go to an eye specialist and get accurate correct lens' power measurement from the doctor as they were not able to do so. Seemingly, healthy eyes would generally have 999 score written on the small paper that the eye vision examination machine in the shop produces. This score actually measures the ability of the eyes muscles pumping blood to the eyes or something like that and determines accurate reading during an eye examination. Guess what, mine resulted in 555 only. This reading shocked me greatly because the optician said when the reading comes out in 222 or 333 score that usually means total darkness.

Needless to say, I went to see the eye doctor again in the next morning.

On my second consultation with the ophthalmologist, after I shared with her the issues I encountered at the eye-wear shop the day before, she did a more thorough exam on both of my corneas. She then declared that due to prolonged wear of contact lenses, my corneas were sort of crying out for oxygen and there were a lot of dry spots on my corneas. There's erosion in my left cornea and my right cornea began to experience inflammation too. She further explained that this happened because contact lenses actually cover iris so there would be no oxygen for the eyes if contact lenses are worn more than 6-8 hours a day. Before I left her office, she asked me to continue using the antibiotic drops for both eyes for another week.

Moving on, this doctor assigned the clinic's optometrist to do a vision test on my eyes as well so I would be able to make new specs, despite her guess that this may just be another futile attempt as my eyes were still inflamed. As expected, after checking my eyes' vision for few minutes, the optometrist also told me to do another vision examination some other time when the inflammation in my eyes had reduced and my eyes' health are in better state because inflamed eyes would not give accurate vision reading and cause blurry vision no matter what. On top of using the prescribed eye drops from doctor, she also advised me to look something far away to relax my eyes every time my eyes get blurry or tired.

Last Sunday, I went to see the ophthalmologist in the same clinic for follow-up check as my eyes still feel dry, tired and experience burning sensation every now and then. The doctor gave me a check on my eyes' corneas and movements as well as my eyelids. She found out that there are still dry spots in my corneas although my eyes are not inflamed anymore as in my Marginal Kerastitis is slightly better now and the antibiotic eye drop is no longer needed. Nonetheless, no green light to make a new pair of specs was given yet as it will still take a long-term treatment to cure my Marginal Kerastitis. I will still have to use the eye drop for dry eyes few times in a day for few months and am now recommended to carry this eye drop everywhere I go. This doctor reiterated that not wearing contact lenses again permanently is the best option or we can review whether I can wear contact lenses again or what type of contact lenses I could wear in the future when things get better.

After this whole ordeal with blurry and painful eyes, not to mention the financial costs involved thus far, I am not too inclined in wearing contact lenses again. I have now slowly gotten used to wearing specs although if I got a choice, I'd rather not. LOL. But seriously, it really takes time and effort to get used to wearing specs on daily basis after years of wearing contact lenses.

If only there was a real warning of the negative side effects in wearing contact lenses for prolonged use, I could have avoided all these problems. But yeah, regrets always come in the end.

Lastly, my next appointment with this ophthalmologist is next month.. and we'll see what's the progress then. Hopefully, no more bad news.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking the Routines and Quick Healthy Breakfast Ideas

My life, especially my mornings on weekdays, has been rather systematic and monotonous of late since Naomi goes to Kindergarten and my husband took a job in KL.

7.15am: I wake up (my husband leaves home for work before 7am, I get up later than him because I still wake up multiple times at night to feed owl Brennan).

7.20am: I brush my teeth, freshen up and fold the blankets.

7.30am: I go downstairs to make Milo for Naomi.

7.35am: I change Naomi into her school uniform then place her school bags in the car.

7.40am: Half asleep, Naomi drinks her milk. I go upstairs to get Brennan, usually he is still asleep around this time.

7.45am: I get both kids to the car.

7.50am: I drive to Naomi's Kindergarten.

8am: I go home after dropping Naomi to school and begin preparing Brennan's porridge.

8.15am: While waiting for Brennan's porridge to cook, I eat my quick breakfast (whilst catching up with the news-feed in my social media), usually it's just white bread with chocolate spread or jam with hot drinks like warm honey water, hot tea or hot chocolate. When I really crave Nasi Lemak, after dropping by Naomi to school, I drive to the nearby neighborhood about 5-10mins away from mine just to get a packet of Nasi Lemak. Not kidding, there are at least about 6-7 stalls in this neighborhood selling Nasi Lemak and Economic Beehoon in the morning. Nasi Lemak is a highly competitive business ha!

8.30am: If Brennan is awake, I bathe the baby upstairs.

9am: I play with baby then feed baby his first meal of the day.


Hi, meet my velcro bunny. Erm, baby I mean.

When the stars are 90% aligned (by this I mean baby is asleep at least until 8.30am), I'd get the above done in perfect order with no drama or crying baby clinging on one of my feet while trying to gobble my breakfast or cut veggies for his porridge. If the stars happen to be 100% aligned (like few days ago, baby slept until 10am plus!), I even managed to do laundry and cook my lunch by 10am. What an accomplishment, huh? My #lifegoal nowadays is either get the laundry done within the same day or finish cooking lunch before 11.30am.

The above sums up my typical morning from Monday to Friday. #sohappening

Speaking of my morning routines and breakfast, I said 'YES' as soon as Amazin'Graze, an innovative healthy snack company that provides 100% natural, tasty, healthy snacks and granola, offered me to try some of their products. 

When Amazin' Graze's samples arrived to my doorstep, I realized that eating healthier aka real foods that are free from refined sugar or high fat contents for quick breakfast is actually possible, hassle-free and easy. Bye, boring and unhealthy breakfast. Good morning, delicious and nutritious breakfast!


Thank you for these healthy loots, Amazin' Graze!

Let me share some simple and quick breakfast ideas of mine using healthy and nutritious gluten-free granola clusters packed with superfood like almonds, goji berries, pepitas, blueberries and more; healthy nuts mix and nut butter from Amazin' Graze. Each idea is super easy to throw together, even on a busy morning.

Serve granola of your choice that you can choose from here with your favorite yogurt or smoothies. The granola that I chose from Amazin' Graze were Pink Raspberry Granola and Blueberry Goji Coconut Granola because I loveeee dried berries (I even served this granola with non-fat strawberry or mixed berries yogurt for extra berries kick because #whynot!). 


Granola + Yogurt.

Granola + Yogurt that literally translate to whole-grain goodness + probiotic are great and healthy for afternoon snack too. Breastfeeding Mom like yours truly needs a lot of energy so I usually eat three heavy meals and one serving of afternoon snack in a day. 

Want some?

Next, simply do a granola and fresh milk combo. This one is my favorite pair because I love eating my flavorful granola that has sit on a bowl of cold milk or soya milk for few minutes. Just add cold milk to a bowl of your favorite granola to start your day. Protein, fibers, calcium, vitamins and minerals -- all in one bowl! 


Granola + Cold Fresh Milk.

Other than granola, I also tried Amazin' Graze's Berry-licious Trail Mix, a blend of dried berries and earthy nuts and pepitas


Look at these amazing sweet and nutty goodness!

This nuts and berries mix are perfect for party snack or light snack at home or on the go. I packed some in a mini container to keep Naomi quiet in the car and it worked like magic.

After-school snack.

Other than for snack, we can also enjoy this nut mix as breakfast by adding them atop a bowlful of granola and milk/yogurt breakfast for extra proteins and energy or use them to turn your average homemade breakfast bread or muffins to something richer and healthier like what I did with my homemade bread last week.


Homemade breakfast bread with nuts and berries.

To make this breakfast bread with berries and nuts mix, all you have to do is add a cup of berries and nuts mix to the bread dough during second kneading

Berries and Nuts bread goes perfectly with a cup of hot tea.

You can use any of your favorite bread recipe for this or use one of the following bread recipes that I've previously shared: Pumpkin Bread, Potato Bread, Killer Soft Bread, Sweet Potato Bread, Banana Bread.

The last product that I got to taste from Amazin' Graze is their Chocolate Coconut Hazelnut Butter, one of the variants of their stone-ground healthy nut butters.

First time eating hazelnut butter.

When I chose this product, I actually expected it to taste like the famous chocolate spread brands I often buy. How wrong I was. Just like its name, it tastes more like crunchy Peanut Butter (I should have known! LOL) with a hint of cocoa and coconut flavors. This hazelnut butter is not as thick as and less sweeter than the normal Peanut Butter (PB) I normally pick up during my grocery shopping.

I asked my husband to try eating this because he is THE PB lover in the house. This hazelnut butter's overall taste suits his palate and he likes it. In addition, unlike the commercially manufactured PB that can be kept at normal room temperature after opening, we ought to keep the opened jar of Amazin' Nut Butter in the fridge.

All in all, if I were to choose between eating granola or bread with nut butter for breakfast or snack; frankly speaking, I'd go with the first one because I am not a big PB eater. I only binged eating PB when I got pregnant with Brennan - talk about that food aversion during pregnancy! One more thing, I really think this nut butter will be great to be used as the filling of Thumbprint Cookies as well.

Finally, shall we now dig in to healthier breakfast and snack with Amazin' Graze?

** Find out more about Amazin' Graze exciting products, tasty and healthy breakfast and snack ideas and latest promotions on Facebook and Instagram. Also, don't forget register online at https://www.amazingraze.co/register/ to receive RM10 OFF for your first online purchase!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bye, Contact Lenses?

I have been wearing contact lenses from morning until evening since I was 17. Contact lenses are such integral part of my daily life I cannot imagine going about my days without wearing them.

In August 2015, I had my first visit to eye doctor/specialist here because I had unusual symptoms on my left eye - blurry vision, very painful red eye for days and it also produced small white ulcer-like patches and discharge. Doctor had a check on my eyes and concluded that my left cornea experienced an inflammation. I had to take antibiotic eye drop and ointment for a week and doctor advised me not to wear contact lenses until my eyes recovered and change the contact lenses' solution brand as my eyes may have had some allergies to it.

In the past few days or maybe a week, I have been experiencing similar above-mentioned situation on my left eye but without the white patches. My vision has been blurry for days (I honestly reckoned it's due to the over exposure to my not-so-big iPhone 5 screen as I had been watching Korean drama and managing some online stuff with it of late), my left eye looked bloodshot and is giving me burning sensation every time I blink or close my eyes. Also, it has been producing discharges again and there's a red streak on it.

This morning I decided to go to see the same eye doctor again. When the nurse checked my vision, I asked her to do examination on my eyes too to find out if my myopia has gone worse since 2015 but she told me she wouldn't be able to check the degree of my near-nearsightedness properly today because red or inflamed eyes will generally make our vision blurry and inflamed eyes won't give any accurate vision screening result either. It's kind of pointless to go to eye-wear shop to get new specs today because the opticians surely won't let me do any eye examination with red eyes.

Anyway, when I saw the doctor, he asked me what's wrong with my eyes today. I told him I may have the same eye  problem as two years ago. After doing a quick screen on my left eye, he agreed and asked me to google on Marginal Keratitis when I get home. Marginal Keratitis is an eye condition that I am suffering now. In layman's terms, it's basically an inflammation of the cornea caused by bacteria from wearing contact lenses. I shared with my doctor that perhaps I am having this issue again now because I just changed my contact lenses' brand.

He shook his head.

This time around, on top of taking the antibiotic eye drops and ointment for a week, he recommends me to stop wearing contact lenses at all aka for good. My eyes' defense system is considered not so good already and prone to problems like this because I have been wearing contact lenses for so many years. He explained that eye health problems coming from wearing contact lenses normally won't start out immediately... In my case it's 15 years later since I first wore them and it's about time to quit contact lenses.

This news broke my heart.


Not ready to say goodbye to my contact lenses.

Sigh... Frankly speaking, I don't really fancy wearing glasses... I like the freedom that contact lenses provide me but what to do now? Painful red eyes and blurry vision are extremely not comfortable and irritating. In fact, I am having a hard time typing my story with my current specs here because I can't see my laptop screen clearly so please pardon any typos or grammatical errors in this post.

Finally, to those of you who have been wearing contact lenses for years now, take heed of this issue, okay. I think you may also experience the same problem like mine, if not other issues, no matter how hygienic you handle your contact lenses care on daily basis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Get Permanent Residency (PR) in Malaysia: Part 2

In early December 2016, I shared that I submitted the documents for Malaysia PR application to the local Immigration Office in Seremban where I live.

After we successfully submitted the required documents for PR application, my husband and I understood that the next step would be an interview session with the Police and this would likely happen 1-5 years after the documents submission.

THE INTERVIEW INVITATION AND REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

Last Thursday afternoon, my husband received a call from unknown mobile number. This call caught my husband off guard because it was actually from Seremban's Police Station. The officer who called him was double checking with him if he's indeed married to an Indonesian and whether we just submitted PR application documents not long ago.

After brief verification on the phone, this police officer then invited us to go to the Police Station for the first round of interview on the next day and would like us to bring along some documents (as follows) during the interview:

  1. Two (2) Applicant's Passport Photos (blue background)
  2. Photocopy of Marriage Certificates (both overseas and Malaysia's marriage certificates, if the marriage was done overseas)
  3. Photocopy of applicant's and spouse's passport books (since they were married)
  4. Photocopy of Malaysian spouse's IC card and birth certificate
  5. Photocopy of the children's MyKads, passports and birth certificates.
  6. Photocopy of receipt of the PR Application Document Submission, if you still keep it

The above documents are actually parts of the documents that we submitted to the Immigration Office for applying PR in last December. Just make sure that you also bring the original documents for verification during the interview and bring TWO SETS of the above documents. 

My husband was driving when he received the call from the Sergeant who invited us for the interview at the Police Station so he was not aware that we ought to give him 2 sets of the photocopied documents. Alas, after the interview, my husband had to find a photocopy shop outside the Police Station to make another set of the copies and pass the documents to the Sergeant.

THE INTERVIEW


Our interview took place last Friday around 11am at Balai Polis Seremban. When we arrived to the Balai Polis, we registered ourselves at the Police Station's Security Post. The officer who manned that Security Post then gave us a receipt (stating that we had an interview appointment with the Officer XYZ) and two name tags (one for me and one for my husband) so we could enter the Balai Polis as visitors. He also took our mobile phones and kept them in a locker because we're not supposed to have them during the interview. After the interview and when we're leaving the Police Station, we can return the locker's key to him and get our mobile phones back.


I must confess that both of my husband and I did experience a bit of pre-interview jitters because both of us didn't expect to be invited for the interview so soon and could not guess what the interview's questions might be. 

Anyway, after we entered the Balai Polis, we went straight to the second level of the building to find the Sergeant who invited us for the interview. This Sergeant is apparently with the Police's Pejabat Bahagian Intelijen Keselamatan.

This Sergeant was surprised when he saw us bringing Brennan along to the interview. He thought there would just be my husband and me attending the interview. I explained to him that we had no babysitter at home so we had no choice but bringing this baby with us. He was okay with that and realizing that a baby had now joined our interview; he wanted to start the interview ASAP and finish it as quickly as possible.

There was nothing to be afraid of or nervous about the interview as the interview with the Police was done in a friendly and casual manner. Also, the interview questions basically revolve around confirming the applicant's and his/her Malaysian's spouse personal data such as date of marriage, where and when the couple first met, current address, length of stay in Malaysia thus far, how often and how long the applicant goes back to his or her home country, personal info of the applicant's and spouse's immediate family and children, education and working background and the likes. The interviewer threw questions as per the list in the form he had on hand and when he was jotting down our answers, he also double checked our answers to the documents that he requested for his report.

He shared with us that he received our PR application documents on February 8th 2017, He then called us and invited us for interview on the 9th and on the 10th, we had our interview with him at the Police Station. My husband and I agreed that the way the Police Station processed our PR documents was very efficient. We got the interview invitation from them just two months after we submitted the documents. Yet, the Sergeant/interviewer could not confirm with us if this would be the same case with the Immigration Office later on because after he makes the interview reports and passes the documents to his HQ, the next step of this application will be handled by the Immigration Office again. He could not confirm when and how the Immigration Office will contact us for the next step.

This interview in the Sergeant's office took about 30-40 minutes in total and we are glad that we have now passed the second stage of the PR application in Malaysia. 

Quick Tips:
  • Do not forget to bring the required original documents and two sets of the document copies
  • Make sure you and your spouse wear polite attire when attending the interview (no short pants or mini skirt, please)
  • Have quick pre-interview discussions with your spouse on your personal information (dates of marriage, where the couple first met, current or past working status, etc.). Make sure neither of the party has some sort of amnesia on your personal information so applicant and his or spouse can answer all the questions with confidence and the answers to the interview questions from both husband and wife are tally and wouldn't spark dubiousness
  • The police officer who interview PR applicants will most likely use Bahasa Melayu during the interview and for writing his report. If you are able to communicate or answer all the interviewer's questions in Bahasa Melayu, that'd be a plus value because it'd make the interviewer's job much easier

Good luck and I will update again on the next stage of this PR application when the information is available.

** Please note that this information is based on my personal experience and subject to change in accordance with any amendments to the rules and regulations from the Malaysian Government.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Making Nastar (Pineapple Tarts)

My Mom first introduced home-made Pineapple Tarts/Nastar to my siblings and me when I was in my Junior High School. Back then, it took her two days to create her home-made Pineapple Tarts. The first day was used to cook the fresh pineapple jam, which literally took hours to produce. The second day was to create the cookie dough, shape and bake the pineapple tarts.

Back then, Mom made us shape the Pineapple Tarts in cute tiny baskets that took forever to do. She even had to ask my brother who was still in Primary School 1 or 2 to stop doing whatever he was doing (maybe watching cartoon on our tube TV or playing games) and help the ladies shape the pineapple tarts. I remember I kept complaining why so much efforts were put into making these cookies... She told me, that was the price that we needed to pay to enjoy our damn good home-made Pineapple Tarts that we couldn't stop popping into our mouths. She's right.

For the past few years, I have been baking my own Pineapple Tarts for CNY. For this year, I use different recipe for my Pineapple Tarts and the new recipe turned out fine and nice, not too crumbly/fragile yet still has the melt-in-the-mouth effect.

Old-school Pineapple Tarts.

Pineapple Tarts (Nastar)

Ingredients:

200gr Butter, at room temperature
50gr Icing Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
50gr Milk Powder
300gr Flour (plus 1-2 tbs if needed)
1 Egg Yolk plus a spoon of liquid milk, for egg wash
500gr Pineapple Jam, rolled into small balls

Methods:
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar using electric mixer until pale. Add the egg yolks one by one and mix well.
  2. Using a spatula, fold in the milk powder and flour until well incorporated.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls. Flatten a piece of the dough ball and place the pineapple jam filling in the middle. Bring the edges of the dough together and press/roll lightly to seal. Repeat this process until all the dough is finished.
  4. Apply egg wash on the pineapple tarts before baking them.
  5. Bake the pineapple tarts in a preheated oven at 160 degree Celcius for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Once done, remove the tarts from the trays. Cool them completely before storing in plastic containers

Last week, I accidentally bought too much Pineapple Jam from the baking shop as I was in hurry... After I reached home, I realized I actually purchased 1 kg of Pineapple Jam and 1 kg of jam like this is really a lot. So yeah, I still have about 500gr of Pineapple Jam leftover waiting to be transformed into Pineapple Tarts. The sequel of Pineapple Tarts baking is TBC because yesterday's session in shaping these pineapple tarts was quite traumatizing to my back.

Making Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

I am suddenly on a CNY cookies baking roll this year (but didn't bake a single cookie for last Christmas!)... I have been baking three different types of cookies for three days in a row now. I even had to rope in my husband's help in rolling the cookies dough because rolling or shaping cookies is quite a tedious job and takes a lot of time.

One of my favorite cookies to bake this year is the Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies by Tintin Rayner, which at one point of time had taken over my Instagram feed because so many home-bakers remade her recipe and posted their creations in Instagram. The #kiasu in me just had to join the wave in making Thumbprint Cookies.

Here's the recipe that I slightly modified. The first time I tested the recipe, my cookies were kind of melted when I placed them in the hot oven, resulting a slightly bigger cookies which didn't look so good. For the second attempt, I added a bit more flour to the cookie dough so the cookies would be in a better and firm shape after baking. I suppose each egg yolk has different size hence calls for a slightly different flour use. The key is not to put too much flour into the dough either; else your cookies might crack when you roll them into small balls.

Best Thumbprint Cookies.

Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

150gr Butter, at room temperature
100gr Icing sugar
1 Egg yolk
A dash of vanilla powder, optional
225gr Flour (plus 1-2 tbs if needed)
20gr Corn flour
20gr Milk powder
1/2 sdt Baking powder
75gr Grated cheddar cheese
2-3tbs Jam/ Peanut Butter/ Nutella, placed in a piping bag for filling
1 Egg white, for coating

Step-by-step in making Thumbprint Cookies.

Methods:
  1. Beat butter and icing sugar using electric mixer until pale. Add the egg yolk, mix well.
  2. Fold in the flour, corn flour, vanilla powder, baking powder and milk powder into the mixture until well incorporated.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls. 
  4. Take one small ball and dip it into the egg white. Coat it with grated cheese.
  5. Place the dough ball in a tray that is already covered by baking sheet. Press the middle of the cookie ball with a finger to create an indentation. Repeat step 4 and 5.
  6. Fill the indentation of each cookie with jam or any filling desired.
  7. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 150-160 degree Celcius for 30-40 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.

PB and Jam Thumbprint Cookies.

For my second attempt in making these cookies, I filled half of my thumbprint cookies with Peanut Butter (which my husband loves) and didn't coat the Peanut Butter cookies with any cheese. They tasted as good as the strawberry jam ones. For me, Strawberry and Cheese are truly match-made in heaven! They taste so delicious when eaten together.

Last but not least, I don't know if you have the habit of reading the health benefits of super food that you eat but I do. I love reading the health benefits of fruits or veggies that I eat for my own knowledge. In case you are wondering the history and health benefits of strawberries, have a read about it here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mothering and Diapering Baby #3

Happy New Year!

2016 went by so fast and my tiny baby #3 is going to be 8 months old next week. I cannot believe I have to start thinking and planning for my velcro baby's 1st birthday celebration soon. It feels like it was just few months ago I brought home a newborn baby to my house.

Here are some bits of my journey in mothering baby #3 so far.

BREASTFEEDING

I still fully breastfeed Brennan on demand. I direct latch him and don't express my breast milk so I have zero breast milk stock in my freezer. My initial plan was to breastfeed him for the first 6 months. Turned out, this little fella doesn't fancy formula milk and refuses drinking from bottle (he only bites the bottle teat without drinking any milk from it) hence he only drinks my breast milk and some water (in sippy cup) after his porridge meals.

Actually being able to exclusively breastfeed a baby is awesome. However, to be honest, I have been thinking about weaning my son from breastfeeding for personal reasons for some time now.

Who's there?

Truth be told, weaning a child from breastfeeding is proven to be not an easy task especially if he is not ready for the change and my milk supply is still sufficient (not over abundant but enough). I introduced Brennan to bottle every now and then but most of the time, my attempts were never successful. There was one night when I suffered from bacterial infection and got so sick to be able to lift my finger let alone to wake up and breastfeed my son. I asked my husband to feed him with formula milk but Brennan totally hated this gesture and kept crying for hours until he fell asleep, exhausted from crying, with empty stomach. The aftermath of this episode was blocked ducts, lumpy and painful rock swollen boobs for few days - these are surely the part I loathe the most in breastfeeding.

With that, for the moment, I will continue breastfeeding my son as usual until both of us are ready to break our breastfeeding relationship. Speaking of weaning, I might feel truly liberated when I could finally wean my son one day but at the same time, I guess I will also be terribly sad and miss our nursing sessions too. How ah?

Y U NO STTN?

I have been very sleep deprived since late May last year and yet to make up for my lost sleeps until this very date. Seriously, prolonged sleep deprivation like this goes beyond a tired body and it is absolutely jarring.

When I was pregnant with Baby #3, every time I read new mothers' creating online sleep log, ranting about their little peanuts' sleep patterns at night, I laughed at them and assumed they simply didn't know how to sleep train their babies. What goes around comes around. Look at me know. Eight months in and my baby is giving me the exact same treatment except that I am too tired to do his sleep diary in writing. I could easily produce a dissertation if I were to do that. Waking up multiple times at night to breastfeed Brennan is actually one of the reasons why I want to stop breastfeeding.

Zzz... I don't want to sleep like a baby at night. I just want to sleep like my husband and quit being a walking zombie during the day.

MILESTONES

At almost 8 months old, little Brennan has accomplished the following milestones:

First flight to Indonesia

Right after I bought our flight tickets in early December last year, I morphed into a stress ball for weeks. I could not help feeling nervous about my cry baby's virgin flight. Would he cry inconsolably in the plane? Would he demand his parents to walk him around the plane for the whole 2.5 hours' flight? What if he develops ear pains in the airplane? Etc, etc.

THANK GOD, my fears didn't materialize. Brennan slept most of the time during the flight. I nursed him during take-off and landing to avoid any discomforts resulting from the air pressure changes and it worked. Nonetheless, before we landed to the airport in Surabaya, Brennan did cry loudly and miserably for about 20 minutes because the turbulence was quiet horrible then, even my heart was thumping violently.

Staying in a hotel for the first time

When we arrived to Indonesia for Christmas, we didn't go straight to my hometown because I worried Brennan would get too tired from the long trip. We stayed in a hotel in Surabaya for a couple of nights before heading to my parents' house.

One happy owl and mommy panda.

It was Brennan's first time staying at a hotel. I booked the hotel online and requested a crib in my booking form. To my horror, the hotel provided no crib because they just don't have any baby crib for guests! Tell me, why did the website even advertise baby cribs in the first place? Alas, we had to order an extra bed to fit the four of us. I could not sleep well in the hotel that time because I was too fearful Brennan might roll over and fall down from the bed when he's sleeping. Luckily, he didn't fall.

Looking fabulous in the morning even after a sleepless night.

Visiting Grandparents' house for the first time

Naomi cried for the two days when she first arrived to my parents' house back in 2013. She could not get used to the new place and found everyone was stranger in my parents' house. Brennan did just fine.

Little elf wearing a cute hat knitted by Grandma.

It's just that during our two-week' holiday in Indonesia, nobody could carry him for a long time except me, my husband and my Dad. Brennan cried every time my Mom, aunts or sister carried him so my Mom could not help me much in taking care of Brennan when we were there.

Studio portraits

Taking studio pictures back in my hometown is so much cheaper than taking the pictures here so I took the opportunity to preserve Brennan's babyhood on properly done studio photos. Oh my! Little man was totally rocking the studio!

Little sailor and his huge bear.

Unlike Naomi, Brennan was so much friendlier and (again, surprisingly) not afraid of strangers (read: the photographer) during the photo shoots. In fact, Naomi was throwing tantrums during the photo shoots so we didn't get any nice studio pictures with her this time around.

Anybody wants to hire me to be a baby model?

Two teeth

After months of drooling and gnawing, we finally spotted Brennan's very first tooth cut through his lower gum when we were in Indonesia in December. Then about a week later, another tooth came out too. Nowadays, when he feels like being playful, he'd bite me during breastfeeding. I then scream out of pain, and he cries because I scare him.

I bite.

Dropping and throwing

I am bound to clean my children's mess, all the time. Already it's hard to make Naomi tidy up her toys after she plays with them, these days Brennan finds it thrilling to drop and throw toys for me to pick up. This man has now surely got so much better control over his hands and fingers. And me.

Cruising

Brennan was able to stand up while holding onto something when he was slightly over 6 months old. Now he can shuffle along while holding on to furniture -- one of the last steps of his journey to walking independently. Where did my little baby go?

So short yet so cute.

Crawling

Brennan was a pro at commando crawling quiet early... and now he can crawl properly so fast, especially if he sees and wants to grab his sister's toys. Have I mentioned that these two can fight over toys now? The big sister is so stingy; she would not share her toys or let her brother touch her toys. The little brother is so persistent and curious, he often wants to play and gnaw on his sister's toys instead of his own baby toys. Of late, my husband and I often have to separate our children from fighting over toys.

When they are not fighting.

DIAPERING MY BABY

You see, my son is one very active baby and his physical developments actually progress rather fast for his age. It's not easy to make Brennan stay still during diaper changes (even after I give him a toy to distract him). He rolls over, crawls here and there and sometimes decides to sit down when I try to put on a diaper on him. Therefore for practicality, these few months I prefer to make him wear diapers pants day and night.

Recently, I was introduced to CHIAUS Baby Diapers, a high quality and affordable baby diapers.

Say hello to Chiaus Baby Diapers.

The first time I held Chiaus diapers on my hand, I could not wait to try them on to my son. The diapers are so cottony soft and look super comfortable for my son who is born with sensitive skin.

So happy and excited for his new diapers.

When I noticed that Chiaus diapers are relatively thinner compared to other brands, I must admit I got a bit apprehensive about the diapers' thinness at first. However, after trying the diapers on my son, my doubt was cleared. Although Chiaus diapers are thin, they are very absorbent and leak proof. The diapers are apparently designed thin with soft breathable top-sheet to promote extra comforts and prevent diaper rash on baby so they are definitely a good choice for day and night uses.

Brennan is so prone of experiencing diaper rash despite me slathering nappy cream on his diaper area very often. One trick to reduce his chance of getting diaper rash outbreaks is to let him wear thinner diapers, such as Chiaus diapers, and change his diapers frequently especially after he poops.

Brennan wearing Chiaus Diaper Pants.

Chiaus diaper pants feature very soft and stretchy waist band so they fits babies comfortably. The pants are easy to wear and easy to tear too. Moreover, as the diaper pants are not thick, they allow active baby like mine to move about or crawls freely without any restrictions or discomforts.

Make way! Active baby is coming.

Just like the diaper pants, Chiaus tape diapers are quite thin as well; yet they have excellent absorbency and strong re-attachable tapes. The leak control guards gently and nicely fits the structure the baby's legs to prevent leaks. I changed my son to Chiaus tape diaper last night around 10pm because he did a poo-nami just before bed time. When I checked him in the morning, his diaper was still okay - full but no leaking!

Dry and happy after morning bath.

Chiaus diapers are clinically approved hypoallergenic so Mommies, go try Chiaus diapers for your babies! You can find more info about Chiaus Diapers on their official website. LIKE their Facebook page so you are always in the loop on their latest promotions, products and useful baby care tips.

-- GIVEAWAY --

Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia is pleased to giveaway small packs of their tape diapers to my three (3) blog readers with Malaysia address. Check out my blog's Facebook and Instagram accounts to find out how you can win these diaper packs for your baby!

Small packs of Chiaus diapers to give away.
Image source: Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia. All product experience is genuine and featured photos are mine unless otherwise stated.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Making Cotton Cake

Back in October, I made a very yummy, light and moist cake that my husband complimented "like a cake from a bakery", namely Cotton Cake. The cake tasted more on the eggy and milky side and not too buttery.

I planned to share the recipe about 1-2 days after I baked that cake but I dragged and dragged and dragged in writing the recipe here until now... almost 4 months later.

Admittedly, I was and am quite busy lately because running a house while taking care of a demanding toddler and a baby single-handedly really take most of my time day and night - hence the silence in my blog. I no longer have the luxury to sit quietly in front of my laptop to do some writing. Also, I am still VERY MUCH sleep deprived by the way. Not to mention, my new venture, which I will explain in more detailed manner some other time, occupies most of my free time these days. Oh ya, then Heo Joon Jae came into the picture. Alas, amidst my busy days in general, somehow I still have to make time to check how Heo Joon Jae is doing twice a week. Now you know how I set my priorities.

Anyway, here's the recipe of Cotton Cake that will surely win your family's hearts and tummies. Note that all the ingredients used in this recipe are in room temperature.

Cake is as soft as cotton.

Cotton Cake

Ingredients:

3 Egg yolks
30gr Beaten egg
35gr Butter
50gr Cake flour, sieved
50gr Condensed milk
3 Egg whites
40gr Fine sugar

Methods:

  1. Line a 6" or 7" round cake tin with a parchment paper on the base.
  2. Mix egg yolks with the beaten egg using a whisk. Set aside.
  3. Heat butter on a low heat until small bubbles appear. Pour flour into the hot melted butter and fold with a spatula. Add in the condensed milk into the mixture and fold until well combined.
  4. Add the butter and flour mixture onto the beaten eggs. Mix well using a whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy using a electric mixer. Add in sugar in three batches. Beat the egg whites until it reaches stiff-peak consistency with high-speed electric mixer then reduce the speed to low towards the end of the mixing process.
  6. Take about 1/3 of the meringue and fold it into the egg yolk batter.
  7. Pour the yolk batter back to the remaining meringue and fold until incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake tin and lightly tap the cake tin few times to remove bubbles before baking.
  9. Bake the cake in a hot water bath (Bain-Marie method) in a preheated oven at 170 degree Celcius with only the upper heating coil at the lower rack of the oven for 40 minutes.
  10. After 40 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150 degree Celcius on both upper and lower heating for another 20-30 minutes or until the cake is done. If the top of the cake browns too fast, you may want to cover it with an aluminium foil.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. While the cake is still warm, run a spatula along the edge of the cake to remove it from the pan. Let the cake cool on a wire rack before serving.

Original recipe is from here.

Finally, the small venture that I am busy with of late is currently running a CNY giveaway. Please do support by taking part at the giveaway on Facebook and/or Instagram, okay! Thank you!