News Flash! Hello Baby 2!

I have been quiet. 

For this reason. 

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We are happily and excitedly expecting our 2nd baby! 

 

Our history indicate that having 1 baby is a miracle. To be able to experience this another time, is truly a God’s gift. We prayed, we left it to God’s hands and surprisingly (or not so), it happened. 

 

I think back to my first trimester with Asher. Oh what joy, oh what fear and what agony. The knowledge that miscarriage is higher for us. The unforgiving morning sickness that left me hugging the toilet bowl. The visit to the doctor’s office which he told us it’s hospital or rest with monitoring at home. The non-stop-eating. The non-stop-puking. 

And then 3 years passed. Here we go again. 

The first trimester

Fortunately, I haven’t had much spewing. Just non stop nausea, fatigue, headaches,bloating and feeling “sick”. Still, I count my blessings that I continued to work, having to take minimum time off as I cope with these symptoms + viral infection. 

I had to admit there were times where TV was my life saviour while it entertained Asher as I sit resting. Ginger tea, and water seems to help. Eating regularly works too. I was perpetually hangry. Often feeling sad, pale, unhappy,and angry even when there isn’t any food in sight! 

I learned though, and stocked our fridge and pantry with relatively nourishing and nutrient dense food. Yes, I did had dim sum twice, and totally craved for zamberos and it’s black rice for 2 weeks in a row. Yes, we bought a packet of sweet potato chips once, but we shared it out and finished it only 4 days later (a mean feat!). I did crazy things like making myself a banana, cacao, date, almond milk, peanut butter shake at 8:30am in the morning just barely 2 hours after breakfast. Oh, and I heated that one up too. Hubby fried an egg for me at 10:30pm at night and I had it with kimchi. 

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Me having my hot cacao banana date drink.

Mostly though, I managed to eat well. Eating more, but better than when I had Asher. I attribute it to better eating habits, but also filling my body with more nutrient dense food prior to conception. With Asher, I was craving for heaps of carbs and I always wondered if me going low carb was a contributing factor. I was stuffing myself with breakfast biscuits (No way!), rice and just whatever carbs that I could get my hands to. This pregnancy, I didn’t have that urge to. I just needed to eat. I’m still fearful of weight gain, and my bump is noticeably bigger, but I feel like I have a better relationship with food and nutrition. 

Pregnancy is definitely a test for me. I feel fat, big and it’s a little sad saying farewell to my skinny jeans at week 8. Amazingly, I managed to fit into non-maternity clothes till week 13 and has only recently started taking out those to wear again. 

It is an ongoing process, I will have bad days, I shall admit that. Already I feel that I am gaining weight too quickly despite eating relatively better (it is still more). I feel that it is so easy to give in, and had to be conscious about it. Perhaps it is a combination of hormones, or my old self lingering (with my ease of weight gain), but I just have to keep going and keeping tabs. Hubby has been a great encourager and monitor. 

In terms of exercise, I had a few breaks, but mainly maintained with less intensity. I can’t seem to get a 16 kg turkish bell up, I have slowed down, and every workout seems to be harder work. This is all expected I suppose and I will keep chugging on. I’m proud that I’m still deadlifting, and squating (still doing 32kg gb squats). Listening to my body and slowing down. My motto is to “Turn up and if I don’t feel well, just stop and leave”. So far, I managed to finish all workouts, despite the pace and lesser intensity. 

Baby’s health is going ok. My NIPT was great but scans revealed that I need more monitoring. That again, reminds me that there are greater things to be concern at this stage. It’s not something I can control but only in God’s timing will I know what will happen. 

Asher is excited to be a big brother. Often speaking to my tummy and then saying “baby isn’t talking to me!” oh that poor little man! Soon, he will learn I am sure. 

So here we go! I will be back to update of course, Heaps to chat about. Still, this time round, I’m going to be documenting my journey and thoughts on being a parent of 2! 

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(me and my bump!)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Using almond pulp) + Taking breaks

IMG_3330 (640x427)Do we need more cookie recipes? I vote yes! There is something about cookies that shouts comforting. I love the smell of these when it is fresh out of the oven. I created these using left over almond/cashew pulp from our fresh almond/cashew milk. I hate letting things go to waste, and would attempt to make something out of the pulp each week. IMG_3326 (640x427)

To make them more crispy, I deliberately toast them a little more. I omitted any oil but use nut butter to bind them together instead. Anything with chocolate is good isn’t it? So in goes 2 squares of dark lindt chocolate. 

Otherwise, life has been a tad overwhelming in our household. Luckily, hubby and I booked in a few days to the gorgeous Southwest earlier. We had  total blast. We enjoyed nature, slept heaps and ate. Having a near 3 year old is never quite relaxing of course, but the down time was much needed.IMG_3328 (640x427)

Which brings me my next point, why is it that we struggle to take breaks? Do we need to redefine breaks? Does it have to be a long overseas holiday? Or a few days at home? 

When hubby and I spoke about that, we realised that we can never quite “relax” at home. There is always a project or something that needs to be done. Those days are welcomed of course. We often feel accomplished when a section of the house has been decluttered, or if I have created meals that will last us for days. Taking a break for us, means not doing the daily responsibilities, getting out to enjoy nature, and family time. 

We are still learning as a family of what we should do. No doubt it will change (kids club? Bring it on!). However, we shall take what we can for now!IMG_3329 (427x640)

[yumprint-recipe id=’146′]

Pumpkin Nourish Bowl with Apple Pie (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Connection

IMG_3275 (640x427)Connection. 

The hardest bit about being married is to remain connected spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Hubby and I are great team players. We operate our household in sync. From meals, to budget to even parenting- we are the A team. 

As life responsibilities increase (or perceived increase?), it is so easy to fall into the trap of talking about the everyday stuff or coordinating our time table. We became so tired that when we do talk, it is usually about something we have to do. Not how we are, or what we need… but the doingIMG_3277 (640x427)

 At home, I known to say it the way it is without mincing my words. Perhaps too harsh at times. On reflection, it is the way I speak to myself and it is a learning curve on how not to do that- because I never intend to have that sort of harshness to my husband and son. When I become tired though, those tolerances become lower. 

Oddly, sitting and talking is hard for me just as it would hard for my hubby. There is a feeling of being drained. Like every piece of me has been taken away and it is much harder for me to connect emotionally to anyone. There would be some changes soon which I’m looking forward to.

1) We are starting to fall in love with the hills. From gorgeous fruit farms to our favourite cider place… not to mention its only 30 minutes. Even the drive up feels like we are going away somewhere

2) I resigned from one job. In August, I would just focus on having 1 job. That is a relief as it takes up quite bit of my mental head space

3) In July, I’m having a day off each week! What a luxury!

4) Hubby and I are trying to put time aside to just be with each other. Sometimes we don’t have to talk. Just presence is lovely. The other day, I found a cute little card with a love message from him. What a surprise! That used to happen heaps when we were dating so it is nice to feel that there are little touches, rather than us co-existing as life partners. 

5) Every alternate Sunday, Hubby gets the morning to run while I handle breakfasts. I’m recognising how he benefit from alone time too.

So 5 little changes in our household in hope for a more peaceful and loving one. Talk about a mid year review! 

So this little pumpkin nourish bowl was made when I had left over roasted pumpkin. Honestly it’s so easy to eat for breakfast. Top with some apple pie filling, it is warm and comforting as the cold 4C mornings set in. IMG_3278 (640x427)

 

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Turkish Delight + friends in motherhood

IMG_3256 (640x427)Enjoying a nourish bowl with a dear friend one afternoon, we spoke about how empty our tanks have become. Being a mother it seems is draining. Friendships are harder to maintain- not because you don’t want to but even typing on whats app seems tiring. Conversations become more curt and straight to the point. Not because we want to come across as snobbish or fussy, but because we have less energy to be tactful or waste time trying to be gentle. 

The make up face. The clean clothes we are wearing. The weary smiles. Sometimes motherhood transform friendships. It is not because we don’t want to, but because in our quietness and straight to the point conversation we know that as long as our kids are happy, no one gets killed and we get coffee… the day is good. Very good. IMG_3259 (640x427)

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Chocolate Teddies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + A day at home

IMG_3144 (640x427)I haven’t done one of these posts in a while now. Documenting what I did with Asher in a day. I wrote about child led play back in June 2015! These days are getting rarer because I always seem to be busy. Busy with what? I wonder at times. 

Monday

6:30am- I woke up. AMAZED that it is a sleep in!! 

6:30-7:30: WOAH! Time to myself. Wash up, ate breakfast in silence. Catch up on emails, reading. Start to prepare broth for dinner.

7:30- Asher is awake! He greeted me with his messy hair and sleepy eyes. “Where is daddy?” 

(Usually daddy greets him while I take the night routine).

7:30-8:30am: Brush his teeth, change his clothes, feed him breakfast (Apple pie he wanted. I made some a few days before and I’m saying yes to that because I made it just a few days ago), vacuum, mopped… Asher joined in with me, spraying my enjo mop, pushing the mop, putting away the cords of the vacuum. 

8:30-9:30: Mummy’s guilt. I had to work. Settled Asher back to his breakfast, attempted to turn on music rather than tv but nope.. didn’t work. Tv it was.

09:40-09:40: Call time with daddy.

10-10:30- work time for me again. Asher started to play by himself. He checked in with me a few times. Started flipping and playing with newspapers near me. 

10:30-11:30: I got off work. Asher and I went outside. We turned on some music. We traced our feet and decorated it. We draw buses and ambulances. I’m impressed. Asher has started to draw! We worked on our letters. Today was letter A and B. We said A was for Asher, Ambulance, Apples and Ants. We went hunting for ants around the garden. Then we did B. B for buses (and that was where it stopped). We saw that a lemon was ripen, and we picked that. We smelt the lemon. Took it in. 

Then Asher wanted to make something.. so we made.. chocolate chip cookies! I followed this recipe again. He enjoyed whisking the egg up and mixing it all together. Best of all, he sneaked in a few of the sugar free chocolate in his mouth. While it bakes in the oven, I heated up our lunch

12- 12:30. Lunch time! He became distracted as the cookies were ready. Straight after lunch which was mushrooms, lamb roast and pumpkin…he ate 3 cookies… 

12:30-2pm: We clean up. Then as I decided to tidy up the study room a little, Asher took his trains and played there with me. I put things away, and he wanted to do some colouring. As I picked up a pen, he changed his mind and wanted stickers instead. Alright then! So we pasted stickers. Looking at different shapes and colours. 

He found his pair of safety scissors and we started practicing cutting. “open and close” He got the hang of it! We used a community news paper and started looking for transport vehicles. With my help, we cut 3 trains, 1 helicopters and 1 garbage truck out. He said we need to put it aside for daddy to see.

2-2:15pm: I started to wind him down. I said we can read but we need to pack up. So around the house we went. This time round, I was so proud of Asher. He “drove” all his vehicles back and “parked them”. I packed away his books. He allowed me to put his trains back to the play room. 

2:15-2:30pm: We read on the couch. Snuggled together under a rug. 

2:30pm: Nap time! Asher turned off the music. He caught a glimpse of chuggington on the tv as he pressed the wrong button. BUT! he allowed me to turn it off. He even commented that he turned it off. 

3pm: Ok, finally he napped.

4ish: Awake. Cuddles. Drink of water. Snuggles. Light afternoon snack while daddy comes home.

So there we go. Documenting this may not mean anything to anyone but myself, but this was one successful day where we truly enjoyed each other company. Yes, it is not perfect as I needed to work. Still, any time with my toddler…. is precious.IMG_3146 (640x427)

Speaking of which, here is the recipe for my chocolate teddies. I’m collecting cookie cutters these days. This one was in a shopping centre in Malaysia. It was $2 for 2 cutters. I used the smaller one for this one. IMG_3147 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’133′] 

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Slice aka “Snickers” (Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Coping with changes

IMG_3142 (640x427)It has been a busy few months. It is now May but time just seem to be ticking quickly away. So far we have,

  • Travelled
  • I have had a few stressful encounters at work 
  • Job offer followed by job change
  • Making the decision to slow down and focus on one job rather than two
  • Being immersed in the world of essential oils. Learning and using them
  • Making some goals around fitness and hitting them 

I have also learned to be kinder to myself and my family. That was a hard one to realise. As I become grouchier and grouchier, the realisation that I have not been taking time to re charge dawn on me. The decision to leave one job and focus on one was not an easy one. In the midst of trying to weigh up the pros and cons, thinking about how to make it work while still focusing on doing “my job right” ultimately lead to the biggest sacrifice.Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

My family.

The symptoms were there. Snappy. Unable to be present focused. Feeling like I’m always in a rush. Feeling unappreciated. Forgetting things. 

So here we go again. Is there ever such thing as lesson learnt? While those indicators were there, it took me a while to realise what was going on. So to re focus I did

  • Decided not to schedule any thing for a day or two of the month. I did that on the past Monday and boy, Asher and I had heaps of fun together
  • There was a week when I had to swop work days. Instead of taking Asher out, I took a day out. I ran errands, met up with a friend for lunch and baked. No cleaning allowed. 
  • I spoke to hubby and he realised that perhaps he has been in the rush himself that he didn’t see the signs. So we made some changes there including scheduling some time to check in with each other.
  • There were some afternoons where I napped with Asher. Rest somehow is quite liberating.

There could be a few more changes in the next few months. Winding down a job, increasing time in one. Adapting to my current job. Still, I’m writing this list to remind me that it is ok to not having it all “balanced” all at once

Of course, indulging in what I love. Playing with my favourite ingredient recently- Peanut butter. I absolutely love this raw Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice. It actually resembles snickers! IMG_3139 (640x427)

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Vanilla Custard Tart (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Hubby’s birthday

custard tartIt was hubby’s birthday back in Jan. As we become parents, it seems that our birthday celebrations are less important. The attention is naturally directed to our little man. 

I read a post about a father walking to the front of his house. He heard his wife asking their children to pack up and get ready for daddy to return home. I read that the father took a deep breath and left all his worries and stress behind. He put on a smile, and filled his embrace with love. At the end of the day, all that matters to him was returning home to his loved ones. IMG_3009 (640x427)

Hubby is that man. While we have just one child, I know and appreciate that his priority is us. I care that he always greet Asher with a big smile and hug. His first question to me was “How was your day” and would listen to my rambles before telling me what happened to his. This would happen daily despite me asking him first at times- his answer is always “Your day is far more exciting than mine and I want to hear it.” Later on, he would tell me about some stressors or dramas that have occurred- but at that minute that he entered the door, his priority is to listen to how we went in our day despite what he had endured. IMG_3002 (640x427)

As a working mum, I have to juggle heaps. Day care drop off, pick up (mostly), meals, cleaning, packing..etc. Hubby helps as much as he can but somehow, it seems more “natural” or “easier” for me to do some of the tasks. When my tank is low, it was hard to give. While hubby may not juggle as much, sometimes, I fail to recognise that his tank gets low too. It isn’t easy to work full time, and attempt to give the best he can to his household. That I really truly appreciate. 

I thought that this year, I would make a child hood favourite of ours. A fruit flan. Danielle Walker’s recipe was fantastic and I made a few minor changes to suit our family. This is a must make again in our household. IMG_3007 (640x427)

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Guilt Free Time out + Powerhouse Pumpkin Slice (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2740 (640x427)Earlier in the month, hubby and I spoke about our goals for this year. We dig deep and discussed having more time together as a couple. We discussed having individual time to ourselves. We spoke about our individual journey with God and needing to dive deeper spiritually. We chatted about family time and knowing when to say no- simplifying our routine. 

Time out individually, couple and as family can seem like an oxymoron. Truth me told, we need all 3. Individually and as a couple to strengthen our marriage but also to make us stronger as parents. When I asked hubby what would he like to see change. He replied “you to stress less”. That short sentence made me paused. At the bottom of my heart, I know why. When I’m less stressed, I give more. I see more and I do more. I’m kinder. I’m happier and I tend to be more present focused. IMG_2743 (640x427)

Yet on the other hand, I’m so conscious about us being an individualistic society that we need to see systemically what is required. My grandmother never had “time out” yet she had to manage. She just made do because that’s what she had to do. She did however, work closely with her large family and neighbours. She had a sense of humour. Her attitude was to do the best she can. She told me about liking what she does.

 The more we see that as a problem. The more we tend to feel guilty. IMG_2739 (640x427)

The thing is, time out is a term for re charging. Those days, my grandmother’s re charge was to have a cigarette. She was cranky as and she was “scary” in terms of her temper. She took panadols to deal with the pain. She had her bad days too but had to push on. She had to do what she needed to do. Looking back, I can see why she is strong but I can also see why her struggles to look after her body optimally lead to health issues. IMG_2740 (640x427)

My re charge? to do daily devotionals more regularly. To sit and read. To be ok with taking sick leave when I am sick. To have an occasional outing with friends. And if it all falls apart at times, it is to say that’s ok and just go with it! 

This powerhouse slice was invented in my kitchen when I was looking at an eggless but also less/no refined sugar alternative to bind a slice together. Often recipes call for a huge amount of rice malt/honey or brown sugar. I thought pumpkin might be an idea to add great carbs, but also a natural sweetness to it. This is more of a chewy slice rather than a crispy one. I think it is a powerhouse because it has great fats, good carbs and protein all in one. Best, it is easily portable for snacks. 

Oh, what will you be doing for Australia day tomorrow? We aren’t too sure yet, but it will definitely incorporate some family time together! 🙂

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY FOR TOMORROW! 

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Hazelnut and Macadamia Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + embracing challenges

Hazelnut and Macadamia CookiesSomeone said to me this week that the beauty of life is that there will always be ups and downs. It can never always be up. The downs make us grow as a person. 

There is a choice of whether or not we fight those feeling or embrace it. 

I grew up in a family with strong female personalities. My grandmother raised 3 kids herself.  My mother is firm, no nonsense who achieved her university degree as a mature aged student. Not only do I have the blood in me, but also I grew up with those values. To be fair, it is not just the females, my father has always been hard working and drilled morals in me even as a young child. IMG_2727 (640x427)

So what happened between Nov-Jan tested me big time. While I never considered myself as very career driven, I like to think of myself as an instrument to God’s work. I was 14 when the career option of being a psychologist resounded in me. I went wiht that, and never looked back since. I love my work despite its challenges. The event made me realise how vulnerable mothers or anyone wanting part time are, in returning back to work. 

 Uncertainty, difficult conversations and changes face me. A psychiatrist whom I worked with said that given that I am Asian, a woman and a mother means I am a minority. A minority whose culture and personality is more naturally inclined to quit and leave quietly. He warmly said to me to be firm. While the events or comments are by no means racist, rather they are to point out what is naturally against myself. What the psychiatrist said sat with me for a while. IMG_2729 (640x427)

So if this is a period of growth, then I would need to embrace these feelings. It is uncomfortable. It is challenging. It is not the end of the world. I have a plan and I tend to stick to it. Accept these feelings, run with it. We may be surprised by the outcome. 

In the mean time, I am challenging myself to the kitchen. My love for nut butter remains and having spotted Health Nut Foods, I could not resist getting some for ourselves. Our first was Cinnamon Mac. Absolutely delicious. In a cookie? Double the delish. Sandwiched with more nut butter? Ooopsie. What have I done… IMG_2723 (640x427)

ps- take 1 and savour it with coffee. 

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Double Chocolate Almost Raw Brownie (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Double chocolate brownieSome stress is un-necessary. Some stress is unpreventable. On most things, I like to think that I am in control of how I feel and think. As life goes on, it is clear that we cannot control other people’s behaviours and that could cause a direct stress or consequence to us- be it of no fault except I had a child and I want to return to work part time. IMG_2705 (640x427)

I can either walk away or stay to be firm. I chose to be firm. Over the past year of juggling between private and government work, I have learned to trust in myself just a tad more. Perhaps age got to do with it as well. Loyalty has nothing to do with it. Facts, remaining calm and staying present focus helps- there isn’t any point bringing up narratives or content. It is what it is. IMG_2704 (640x427)

It isn’t pleasant and I count myself blessed that I have a supportive network + a union that helps.  In a govern setting, this is probably more of an apparent issue than in a private setting where I may not even have a battle. I’m also conscious that this is a wider systemic issue and I just happen to be in the perfect storm. I’m not sure of the outcome, I just know that I’m not giving up. It makes me mad that in this time and day, we have to go through issues like this when it can be easily prevented if protocols and processes are followed. 

On some days, only chocolate would do. 

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