Life

Throwback Melbourne Trip 2016

As I was looking through pics on our long-abandoned camera, I just realised that I haven’t posted anything about our Melbourne trip last 2016. So here are some pics. We went there with my brother so we were able to snap some pictures of us three while we were there.

Most of the pics were taken with iPhone because DSLR is not the easiest to take around (especially when we’re going with toddler), while iPhone comes in handy. But we managed to snap a few nice pictures with DSLR, too.

We love Melbourne so much. My husband especially loved it for the tons of design-store inspiration. Well, to be honest one of the reasons we picked Melbourne was because we wanted to do some research for our store. And so glad we did! We learned a lot and got tons of ideas for our store. I also love the art and design there; playful, vibrant and was of strong character. We enjoyed hopping from one small shop to another and gathered all the inspiration we could get. The culinary also didn’t disappoint, and oh the coffee is really really good! As we all know, Melbourne is famous for the coffee culture.

However, this holiday was mainly for Abigail (as for any holiday haha). She had a lot of fun. Everyday before we started the day, we went to the park that’s just within 2 mins walking distance from our apartment. She enjoyed every trips to the park, playgrounds, toy-shops, museums, etc. And her experience in the State Library of Victoria was probably the most memorable to her. Well, of course there are some meltdowns in between (especially when she was hungry or sleepy) which was not fun at all while it happened haha. She is not the easiest to deal with when she gets cranky, I tell you. It took a lot of negotiations until we could finally find win-win solution, a lot of thinking and ideas from us parents. Sometimes I also had meltdowns, haha. However, all the bad times was forgotten eventually. When we were back home, we asked her whether she was happy with the trip, and it was a relief that she said she was so happy. Holiday is always a good time to bond with the family.

I miss holiday so much. Last year we didn’t travel anywhere because one of many things, mostly because I was not that brave to take Benaya on holiday. He is much more mobile than Abigail. Car journey frustrates him a lot when he’s awake, very contrary to Abigail who really enjoys car journey. So I couldn’t imagine the frustration taking him on a flight journey. We still have no fix holiday plan this year but Abigail has been asking for holiday this time soon. Well, this mama right here badly needs one, too. So, fingers crossed I will brave it, fingers crossed we will all brave it. And of course, as anxious as I am for our party-of-four-holiday, I won’t lie that I’m also in full excitement. Any idea where to go?

Cooking

Recipe: Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Oh hello I’m back. Let’s start my first post with a recipe. Yay! I’ve been enjoying baking recently and this chocolate chips cookies is our family’s favourite. It’s very easy (I can only deal with the easy ones, to be honest) and delicious! Chewy, fudgy and not too sweet. Just the right amount! I’ve always baked this with Abigail and I’m proud she’s quite a pro now. Haha.. I also posted a few times on Instagram and a lot friends were asking for the recipes. So I thought it’s just right to share it here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  • To a microwave-safe bowl, heat the unsalted butter to melt, about 1 minute. Wait until it cools a bit.
  • Add egg, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla. Whisk!
  • Add flour, cornstarch, bakings soda and salt. Mix them together.
  • Add the chocolate chip and stir.
  • Take about 1 tbsp of dough for each cookies, roll them into ball. Or you can also scoop it with ice cream scoop and flatten a little bit.
  • Arrange all the cookies doughs to a large tray (lined the tray with baking sheet).
  • Bake for 10 mins (don’t overbake). Allow them to cool for a while on the baking sheet.
  • Cookies are ready to serve!

Side notes:

  • In order to get chewy result, don’t overbake! Even if the cookies are slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the centre. The will firm up as they cool.
  • If there is still some leftover dough, you can store it in an airtight plastic, and put it in the refrigerator (or freezer for longer time).

Enjoy!

Cooking Motherhood

Baking with Abigail

It all started last Christmas. Her school was off for Christmas holiday, we were spending our holiday at home and she was whining to me “mama, I’m bored please let me watch TV just this time”. She wanted to break the “screen time is only allowed on Saturday and Sunday half-day” rule. I know parenting styles and rules are different from one another but we’re quite strict on this particular one. So I asked her idea on what she would like to do and she came up with baking.

From then on, it’s legit baking is our favourite holiday activity. Baking chocolate chips cookies, to be exact. We have been doing this on every holiday. And Abigail is such a natural. She did almost the whole process (except measuring the ingredients and taking the dough in and out the oven). We really enjoy the whole process, talking or simply telling things while doing this activity. She even made silly dances and really savoured the good time. It’s more like a quality time for both of us. And it always melts my heart every time she says “mama, I love you. Thank you for letting me do this. I love baking with you” Well, she’s not always sweet like that but whenever she’s that sweet, I just want to hug her so tight. Suddenly all those bad and rough days are forgotten. Haha!

This chocolate chip cookies is our family’s favourite. Abigail is sweet tooth like her mama and we just can’t stop munching. Also, it’s very easy to make. It works good with kids as it doesn’t require mixer. Abigail said she wanted to make cupcakes for our next baking session. To be honest, I’m not good at creating recipe my own, so I’ll go through Pinterest to find one. Or, if you have a good recipe to try on and don’t mind passing it on me, that would be such a big help.

Thank you!

Books

Start them young

So when I was pregnant with Abigail I was really big on buying books. I really wanted Abigail to be fond of books since early age (unlike me). And thankfully, now she is an avid reader. This keen of reading just grows in her although she can’t read yet. She asks us to read to her while she enjoys seeing the pictures and listening to the stories. There are days when she only wants us to read for her, six to seven books, all day. And those are the days I, as her mother, would like to escape. Well if I’m being selfish, I have lots of things to do, too. Also, she always comes up with unexpected questions that’s not even in the story. And as you may all know, four year olds and their endless questions are….. err… I just have no word for this. However, almost all the time, I couldn’t say no to this little reader of mine. Books are good for them.

So with the same hope that Benaya will also keen on books, I have started giving and reading him books, too. Most of the time I read books Abigail picked to Benaya and Abigail. But these are baby books of my recommendation.

The very hungry caterpillar, Eric Carle. I love this book, and the illustration. Eric Carle is my favourite. And this particular book I think is the best of all other books. The story is so simple and the colourful illustration really gets me. So far this is Benaya’s most favourite. Abigail also loves this one.

Black and white, Jane Foster. This book contains image in black and white on one side, and pattern in colours on another side. High contrasting book is very good to stimulate baby’s vision.

Oh the places we’ll go, Dr Seuss. My most favourite one. I read this over and over again when I was pregnant with both Abigail and Benaya. It contains words of motivation and those words are in rhymes, very typical of Dr Seuss’ books. Rhymed sentences are good for babies, too. Well yes, this is children’s book but I find it’s good for adults, too. Adults need reminder, too.

My dreams, Xavier Deneux. This one is good to stimulate baby’s vision, pictures are in high contrasting colours (black, white, some red and green) with glow in the dark surprises. It also has story inside. This book is Benaya’s second favourite.

Baby’s first soft book by Wee Gallery. It’s a concertina soft book. It contains images only, in black and white. It really helps during tummy time and well, soft book stimulates babies’ sensory as they are practicing their grabbing and holding skill.

Guess how much I love you, Sam Mc Bratney. “I love you to the moon and back!” is the most used phrase to express love and it’s actually from this book. Abigail really loves this book. I love it, too!

Good night moon, Margaret Wisebrown (illustrations by Clement Hurd). It’s a bedtime book. The story is as simple as saying good night to everything that’s in the room. This book encourages kids recognise things in their surrounding. It will also be more fun by saying good night to the stuff in our kids’ own room.

One thousand things, Anna Köveces. This book contains mostly of pictures. I’m very fond of the illustrations, the choice of colours, and everything. Well, Anna Kövecses is brilliant in picking and putting colours together. She’s one of my favourite.

Who’s there, Alain Crozon. It’s an interactive flip flap book with surprises inside. Basically kids are to guess what’s inside each pictures. Again, I love the pictures and colours.

Those are a few of our favourites. Some of them I bought online on The Book Depository or Open Trolley. Some are from any bookstores I visited. Fingers crossed Benaya will love books. It’s just our job to stimulate from early age. and cheers to little readers!

Motherhood

Benaya’s birth story

So, here’s a confession to make… I love reading people’s birth stories or simply hearing their experiences. One might be different from another, but all of them just feel magical and powerful no matter what the experience. It feels extra special as I’m trying to recall and write my very own. I shared Abigail’s birth story here. And now I’m going to share Benaya’s while it’s still fresh in my mind. 

Friday 31 March, I woke up feeling a little bit uneasy and was surprised by a bloody show as I peed in the morning. I quickly texted my doctor and asked if I needed to go to the hospital to get examined but he said I could wait until there was a regular contraction (5-10 minutes apart), or if my water broke, or if the blood kept coming. Later in the evening I felt tightening, not really sure if they were contractions or just tightening. I just tried to sleep with it. 

By morning, the contractions disappeared and I woke up as if nothing had happened last night which made me confused. I just wondered whether I was even close to labour. It’s really funny that every night Abigail always included the baby in her night prayer, hoping that he would arrive soon and the next morning as she woke up the first thing she asked was “will the baby be born today?” Well, “I hope so, let’s just see” was my answer because I had no idea, too. We were all excited for this baby arrival. I was too excited that sometimes I could not contain myself and ended in anxiety. So many times I had to tell myself to calm down a little bit. “Baby is okay, baby knows when he’s ready, God is working” that’s the most powerful mantra to me. The rest of the weekend was spent mostly at home as we were so much in nesting mode. On Sunday evening after church, I got myself a foot massage because I heard it was one way to induce labour naturally. I would simply do anything to get things going, ha!

Monday 3 April, I woke up and somehow felt baby’s moves and kicks were decreasing. Husband and I went to the hospital in the morning to make sure that baby was doing fine. The exam showed that baby was fine. The heart rate as well as the moves were all good. At that point I already had regular contractions (no cramping, though) and little did I know that I was already in early stages of labour. The nurse said that I was 2 cm dilated. That was really music to my ears! And because I was still feeling okay, I preferred to stay at home and waited as the contractions progressed. 

Tuesday 4 April, I still did my normal routine. It was Abigail’s late birthday celebration at school and I was there with my husband. I remember getting my hair done and having a bit of head massage as I was waiting for Abigail’s school dismissal. The contractions were on and off, about 20 mins apart that afternoon. Deep down in my heart somehow I had the feeling that baby was about to show up soon but I only kept it to myself, I did not want to jinx it. All I needed was walk and walk in order to make way for the baby. So, I roamed around the mall with Abigail after school and back home at 4 pm. And then things got more intense…

5 pm: The contractions were 10 mins apart now with mild cramping. I was at home with Abigail waiting for my husband to come from work.

7 pm: Husband arrived at home. He and Abigail accompanied me to exercise with a birthing ball, at the fitness centre in our apartment. I have been exercising with that birthing ball almost every day since I was 36 weeks pregnant, 30 mins each day as per doctor’s recommendation. This exercise is believed to help baby engage to the pelvic. When I was on my 38-week check-up, I was told the baby was not engaged yet and I was really worried. After that day, never did a day go by without me bouncing on that birthing ball for 30 mins each day. So, at this point the interval of my contractions was getting closer. After 2 hours timing and monitoring through Contraction Timer App, I was told that I needed to pack and go to the hospital right now. It was even written that I needed to call ambulance. Haha! Yes the pain was getting uncomfortable but still manageable. I was still okay so I thought it was just a joke and ignored it.

8 pm: We were having dinner together at home and all of a sudden Abigail went to the bed room. She closed the door which really made me curious. I asked her “what did you just do?”. She answered me cheerfully “I prayed to God! Because baby will be born tomorrow!” This little girl of mine knew exactly how to melt her mama’s heart. Well, although I was thinking and feeling the same (that baby would be here soon), I tried to stay cool as I replied “thank you kakak for praying”.

9 pm: Husband was getting ready to leave home. He needed to inspect some construction work at our store. He was supposed to be there until the next morning. We had talked every possibilities, though. If something happened I needed to call him immediately, he would drive back home right after. He even loaded the hospital bag to the car right at that time. I was staying at home with Abigail. We were doing our bedtime routine. I read her bedtime stories, kissed her goodnight and she was finally asleep. 

10 pm: I just finished reading and was about to go to sleep. Suddenly there was a gush in my tummy. From my experience with Abigail, I knew right away that my water just broke! I never expected to have my water broke at home or somewhere else (other than the hospital) so I panicked for a short time. Then I took a few minutes of sitting down and telling myself to think clear. Then I phoned my husband and mother.

10.30 pm: Husband came and we hurried to the hospital, taking Abigail along with us. My parents went straight to the hospital.

11 pm: Arrived at hospital. The nurse quickly checked on me and baby. I was 4 cm dilated, she said. Yay, we’re close, baby! That’s what I thought. But then she said that my cervix was still thick. I was taken back right after hearing it. It probably would not be that soon, I guess. But then I remembered, I needed to stay positive. My baby needed his mama to be strong and tough. Also, I had to trust my baby that he was going to make it “Hey baby, are you ready to see us? Well, let’s do this! Mama is here to help you. You’re not alone, we’ll struggle together, we’ll do this together, don’t you worry to push harder.”  I said to Benaya inside. The nurse phoned my doctor and came back to me “doctor said the next check up is scheduled at 4 next morning, you may try to sleep now.” Well, all I knew was I could not sleep and I didn’t know how to sleep with this condition and 5 hours waiting was too long because the cramping got more powerful. 

12 pm: Abigail slept with my parents at our hospital room, I was in the examination room. The contractions got more intense, 5 mins apart and not a single position was comfortable to me. Husband rubbed my back while I was practicing the breathing technique I learned from prenatal class. I was checked and the nurse said I was 6 cm dilated now. “Good job, baby! That’s my boy! Let’s do this again!” 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

1 am: I could not feel my legs anymore. I felt like all my bones were broken. Husband was on my side, he let me hold his hands as I was going through each wave of contraction. The contractions got really stronger and I started to moan. I felt shivering in my breathe in every contractions. The nurse came and checked me. I was 8 cm dilated and the cervix was already very soft and thin. They ushered me to the labour room and prepared everything. I was in deep urge of pushing this baby. I couldn’t handle it. I really wanted to push. Something big was about to come out I just had to push. “I need to push. I really really need to push” I screamed that time. My husband was terrified, he looked deep in my eyes “not now please. wait until you’re fully dilated. it’s for you and our baby. please hold on a while” The nurses were also telling me not to push until I was 10 cm dilated. I understood and obeyed them. I held my husband’s hands tighter on each contraction and kept shivering as I was trying to fight back that urge of pushing.

2 am: The doctor came in. He checked on me and told I’m fully dilated and I was finally allowed to push whenever I felt the urge. Thank God!! That was in fact the only thing I wanted to hear at that moment. All I remember was I got all my spirit back, the pain was at its peak, I couldn’t exactly describe how it felt but at least I could get things going by pushing. I was so ready to push and for once didn’t mind the pain. “Let’s do this, baby!” I said to the baby, I was so ready. I started some pushes and then was told I pushed wrong. Again. Don’t ask me why, I’ve gone to classes, and this was my second experience with labour and I still got it wrong. I didn’t know how the right push was actually, I only guessed from how the doctor and nurses responded on every push. If they’re saying “Good, Hanna! Keep it like that” that means I was pushing right. Haha. I started to get very tired after a few wrong pushes. And at one last point I was very tired, I was reminded that this had to finish. This needed an ending. Baby was fighting and struggling to come out, I had to help him. It was not the right time to give up so I kept telling myself  that I’m not giving up. What happened next, I gathered all the remaining energy I had and pushed so hard until baby’s head was showing. “I can see his hair! You’re doing so well, keep going.” my husband said. Then I held my husband’s hands very very tight because it was so painful down there as the baby’s head tore my cervix making his way out. I groaned the loudest of all groans that night, so crazy painful I could not handle it. I just wondered if it’s the same feeling of nearing to death. Then not long after, I heard the angelic cries of my baby. That’s a huge huge relief to me. “You did great! He’s here!” said my Husband. Then with big smile he continued “he looked like Abigail a lot”. I couldn’t help smiling too. Oh thank God!

2.26 am: Benaya was born at 2.26 am weighing 3410 grams and 49 cm long. It was exactly on his due date, 5 April. He was so divine and cute and perfect. I fell in love again, I was so in love with this little man. I’m a mama for the second time and I could not hold my tears of happiness. He was then brought to my chest for mother and baby bonding moment, skin to skin. This baby was already so so loved. After two hours of that first bonding moment, my husband cut the cord and my baby was checked. Everything was good and I waited until 5 am to bring him to the room and meet Abigail.

It’s just wonderful how I felt things were complete and we were happy with our life before Benaya came. But then he was born and had him in my arms, Abigail was even so smitten with him and I suddenly felt that it had been incomplete all this time. He filled the gap I didn’t know existed before. My heart was stolen again (first with Abigail and second with Benaya) and it grew twice the size. I really thank God for this experience, all glory be to him!