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Happy Friday – Take a Break

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I’m not quite sure if any of the 50 ways to take a break illustrated above is applicable to my new lifestyle. The only one that’s highly possible could be “take a walk in the park”.

I used to think that I won’t know the difference between weekdays and weekends after having Theodore. It’s a 24/7, 7 days a week “job”, isn’t it? However, I still look forward to the weekends when Daniel’s home with us. Love watching their Papa and son time together and the mischief they get up to.

Happy Friday everyone and have a great weekend!

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20 minutes Beef in Red Wine

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I’m no super Mama so easy and quick meals are the norm in our household now. We still don’t own a microwave in this day and age, so cheaty-heaties are out of the question for us.

What I really missed is cooking with red wine. Though I don’t drink wine, I love to use wine in my cooking as it adds flavour. Fortunately, I found the 20 minutes Beef in Red Wine recipe on BBC Good Food and had a shot at it.

I got really self conscious when I bought the bottle of wine. Picture this – crying baby in one arm, pushing pram which had a bottle of wine in the bottle holder with the other hand. Bet I looked like a stressed out mum ready to drown myself with some cheap red wine.

The recipe was easy to follow and didn’t require a long cooking time. That was brilliant especially with a ticking time bomb (ie. Theodore). Despite the short cooking time, the beef absorbed the sauce very well. The sauce was also of the right texture – not too watery. I served it with fresh fettuccine pasta and yummy it was!

These days, eating is a luxury. I give myself a pat on my back for even stepping into the kitchen!

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Happy Weekend – Staying Strong

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For the past 7 weeks I’ve been asking myself this question “Why is my son born with clubfeet?” Even though his feet have been corrected by a series of casts, I find it hard to talk about his treatment.

Every aspect of my life seemed so perfect and worry-free till I saw his feet. I felt like my world had crumbled, utterly helpless as to what I could do. I should be a really happy new mum with such a lovely boy. However I was also terribly upset that he was simply born this way. Logically speaking, I knew it wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t within my control; yet I felt guilty for not “giving” him what others would call “normal feet”.

All the crying I did wasn’t helping in any way apart from worrying Daniel. Thankfully he’s a really supportive, loving and patient husband. Each time I crumble and break into pieces, he would pick me up and fix me.

Although the orthopedist warned us that Theodore could be upset for a few days when he moved on to have the bar and brace on, I wasn’t prepared for it. Who knew that it would take my smiley, easy-going boy away?
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However 1.5 days later, Theodore was soon back to his normal self! He even started being as narcissistic as me – looking in the mirror and smiling to himself!

To help him cope with the changes, I tell him that Alfa the Bear (the brace is known as the Alfa Flex Brace which has a bear on it) is our friend who will help Theodore fly him to the moon. In order to accomplish that, Mama has to fix the bar to his shoes. And we’ll not shed a tear in the process because Alfa is here to help him get better. It could be coincidence that Theodore just so happened to have adapted to the changes, but I would like to think that the story helps.

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To help him feel safe, my midwife kindly lent me a Hoppediz wrap to carry Theodore. Unfortunately with the brace, we can’t use the Manduca till he only wears the bar at night. The wrap does take getting used to on my part but Theodore seemed to enjoy being close to me.

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I reckon my boy is a lot stronger than I think he is. I could keep asking myself why this has to happen to him, why it has to happen to our family, however, I now know why. My boy had a tough start in life with the birth but he survived. He’s given this path in life because he is strong enough to live it.

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Our Clubfoot Journey: Bracing On

Yesterday morning Theodore had his final set of casts removed. I was so happy to see and feel his legs again. He was then fitted with bar and brace to ensure he won’t suffer a relapse.20140709-111450-40490137.jpg
Just when I thought the casting phase was difficult, the first day in bar and brace was HELL. Nothing I could have done to brace myself for what we have to go through.

1. Discomfort (pain?)
The shoes are tied down really snug. As if that’s not enough, Theodore can no longer move his legs individually. Neither is he able to lift both legs because the bar weighs a tonne.

Yes, babies learn and adapt really quickly. The whole world tells me the obvious. But when my baby boy can’t do what he usually enjoys (kicking in excitement), his Mama feels the pain. I try to help ease the weight of the bar by placing cushions under his feet and “teach” him some exercises, but all these take time. In the meanwhile, my darling boy can only cry.

2. It does get better
The most dreadful words from well-meaning people. It jolly well get better. Given the amount of research I’ve done since he was a day old in the hospital, I know clubfoot is treatable. Still, no amount of research mentally prepares any parent from what you have to practically do each day.

It is only with practice that we will get better. However I shall be truthful and tell you that reality sucks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me “wishing” my boy didn’t have to go through this. It’s what any normal parent would wish for. But yes, 4 years down the road and when I read back on this post, I’m sure I’ll tell you it does get better because we would have survived it.

“It does get better” should only be said by parents who had to struggle to unbuckle those bloody shoes and put them back on without breaking their babies’ legs. Tried it last night without the confidence of NOT causing more pain.

When it DOES get better for us, I’m sure to let you know. I’m confident it will get better too.

3. What is sleep?
Some babies are pretty good with accepting the bar and brace. Unfortunately not Theodore. He hasn’t had a proper sleep since he got his shoes and bar. Unlike him, he would now sleep for maximum 30 minutes on me before screaming. He did that the entire night. He was never a clingy baby but now he just needs all the comfort we can provide him at the expense of our sleep. Walking zombies we are.

It’s a vicious cycle since the lack of sleep makes me more emotionally vulnerable. Theoretically it’s so easy to say I should be calm. Now, 2 hours of light sleep with constant screaming, clingy and crying baby – you ought to have received enlightenment to still be calm.

Still, I do try and make bracing a “fun” experience for him by singing and playing with his feet. He hasn’t found it fun yet so Mama has to put in more effort.

4. Where is my boy?
He’s physically sleeping on me as I blog but at the same time, he’s not quite the usual Theodore – smiley, cheerful and playful.

Every waking moment now is him realising he’s in discomfort and being upset. He just gazes into space and look absolutely listless.

I am well aware that he’ll adapt and he’ll be back to his usual self in no time. However at this point in time, I’m missing my boy. I’m looking forward to having him back.

So, Day One of bar and brace isn’t exactly all rosy! We totally can understand why some parents didn’t comply with the 23/7 rule and removed the bars and shoes. While they’re there to prevent a relapse, our actions seem to put our babies in more discomfort. However, to ensure that his treatment will be a success, we’ll need to be firm on NOT getting rid of the bar and brace prematurely.

I hope that by blogging about our experience with caring for a clubfoot child, it will help me:

1. Deal with the treatment that requires hell a lot of determination

2. Document Theodore’s amazing progress (he has already improved so much!)

I can only hope that my boy overcomes the new experience real soon so we can have some sort of “normality” again.

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Our Clubfoot Journey: Casting Phase

Theodore’s legs have been in casts since he was 3 days old. He is being treated with the Ponseti method. The casts cover his tiny feet and half way up his thighs. We call the casts “astronaut trousers”.
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I was devastated when I learnt about his clubfoot condition. No matter how many times doctors reassured me that the treatment will produce excellent results and that Theodore will be no different from other children, I was heartbroken.

Every week we had to bring him to the Orthopedist to change his casts. Each week, his feet were bent at a certain angle. And each week he cried his heart out when his casts were changed. Doctors told me that the treatment wasn’t painful; just uncomfortable for Theodore.

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Thankfully, his condition wasn’t too bad so he needed only 4 sets of casts to correct his feet. I used every opportunity during casts changing days to feel and kiss his legs. I don’t think anyone whose babies were born with normal feet understands what it’s like for me to carry my son and being able to only feel the warmth from the top half of his body. It is not simply a strange feeling. It’s heart wrenching for me and I’m constantly being reminded of it.

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At 3 weeks and 3 days old, he underwent a tenotomy surgery to remove his tendons so that they will regrow to the right length. He then had to have the casts on again for 21 days.

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Theodore was a very brave boy. Apparently he didn’t cry during the operation (maybe he did but the doctors didn’t want to worry me, especially when they probably knew that Mama is a cry-baby!). We had to stay one night at the hospital to ensure that he didn’t develop an infection.

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A countless amount of tears has been shed since his birth. Just the sight of other babies’ chubby thighs and feet at our Monday Baby Massage class was enough to make me fight back tears. However, Theodore doesn’t seem too bothered.

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He definitely lives up to his middle name, “Isaac”, which means “He smiles”. While I worry about him being in pain/ discomfort, he’s usually smiling away. He kicks around forcefully and playfully even with the casts on.

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As his Mama, I think it’s only natural for me to worry about the future, his development (although doctors say he won’t be slower than other kids when it comes to crawling and walking). At the back of my mind I’m always thinking about the treatment and praying that it WILL work and how I can prevent any relapse.

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However, his cheerful personality, which is slowly shining through, brightens up my day. It is perhaps his way of reassuring me that he’s progressing really well and that I don’t have to worry.

Next Tuesday, his final casts will be taken off (Hello feet!!!). I’m excited but nervous at the same time. We’ll be moving on to the bars and braces stage which requires full compliance on the part of the parents. Goodbye casting phase…

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Good job Theodore for coping so well! Papa and Mama are very proud of you!

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One Month Old

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Whenever I look at Theo, I still find it hard to believe that I’ve got a son.

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He was that little black dot that developed into (in my opinion) the most perfect being that stole my heart.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about parenthood in the past month.

1. 24/7 job: Babies don’t come with on-off buttons. They demand your attention all the time. It’s an exhausting “job” which doesn’t get enough recognition and credit. The responsibility is so huge that I can understand why some people decide to not have kids to not be tied down by the commitment. At the same time, it’s one of the most rewarding “jobs” and hence I can totally see why many go on to have more kids despite the hard work.

2. Love knows no boundaries: Little did I know I had that much capacity to love our little boy. Strange isn’t it? I barely know him and I already adore him.

3. Worst heartaches EVER: When I saw Theodore in Intensive Care and then had to have casts on his legs, my heart broke. I felt a part of me died. The pain I felt for what he had to go through made whatever failed romance so trivial.

4. Team spirit: Daniel, Theodore and I have to work as a team to make things work. Having said that, Theodore can be rather uncooperative at times. It’s important to communicate between ourselves (Dan and I) to know what roles we need to play and tasks to do. Sharing responsibilities is vital to keep each other sane.

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Cantina Mescal Mexican Restaurant, Frankfurt

Ever since Theodore was born, we live by his schedule. Gone are the days (for now) where we decide in advance that lunch/ dinner is at a specific time. These days meal times often coincide with fussing time, nappy changing time or feeding time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying life is a lot easier with a newborn if you’re prepared to leave your past habits behind temporarily.

Prior to his birth, dinners were served between 6 and 730pm the latest. I would dread it so much if we had dinner too late. Nowadays, dinners can be as late as 9pm because a little new being can demand so much of two adults that we simply have to give him 110% of our attention.

Since it’s Fathers’ Day this Sunday, we decided to take the opportunity to have a nice meal outside (after Theodore’s feed, of course). Initially we were worried about bringing Theodore out in case he screams in public. However, what can you expect of a 3 week old? I’m not hiding at home for fear of my baby crying in public. Hence, we chose to have lunch at Cantina Mescal, a Mexican restaurant near us.
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We ordered a Quesadilla Grande each. It’s basically crunchy tortilla flour wrap with minced beef, jalepenoes and melted cheese served with sour cream and tomato salsa on the side. Yummiliious it was!

Lunch was a quick affair as the weather was heating up real quickly for Theodore. It’s Dan’s first Fathers’ Day but I’ve not done anything for him. I feel bad about it since it’s meant to be a special event for him. However we’re both dead tired due to sleep deprivation to thoroughly enjoy ourselves anyway.

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Anyone with a newborn (or been through the newborn phase) will agree that the above picture is a common sight.

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Interview with Business Owner, Mr Hung Quach, of Vipho Vietnamese Restaurant and Bar

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Vipho, which specialises in Vietnamese cuisine, is one of my favourite restaurants in Frankfurt. The atmosphere and service are great, but most importantly, the food keeps me going back for more (See my previous reviews here and here).
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Here’s a short interview with Vipho’s friendly owner, Mr Hung Quach, so that we can all learn a bit more of this fabulous place to check out in Frankfurt.

1. How long have you been running your business in Frankfurt?

We started our business in autumn 2012.

2. What motivated you to set up Vipho in Frankfurt?

People know Asian food such as Chinese and Thai cuisine, but not many people know Vietnamese food. We believe that Vietnamese food is healthy and is good enough to be compared with other cuisine. We are proud to bring delicious food to more people.

3. Where do you get your ingredients from?

We do get certain Asian ingredients from Vietnam directly because of its quality and flavour. This is very important as such ingredients have a great impact on the food we serve, especially the soup. As for other ingredients, we source them from local Asian food suppliers. As for meat and vegetables, we purchase them from local suppliers to ensure that the products are fresh.

4. What do you love about your business?

Seeing hungry people enjoying the food until the bowl is empty. And most importantly…seeing those customers return to Vipho!

5. What is your secret to keeping customers coming back?

Only serving the food what you would eat yourself or serve to your friends and family. Do not serve anything else that you or others won’t eat. We treat our customers like our friends and explain details of the dishes if they are unsure.

Address: Oeder Weg 21, 60318 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Tel: +49 69 556746

Opening hours:
Mon – Wed: 12:00 – 14:30 and 17:30 – 23:00
Thurs – Fri: 12:00 – 14:30 and 17:30 – 24:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 24:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 22:30

Website: http://www.vipho.de

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Theodore’s Birth Story

23 May 2014 changed our lives forever. A little precious boy was born. He is our first child, Theodore.

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Just like how the entire pregnancy went, Theodore’s birth wasn’t straight forward either. In fact, it was traumatising for all three of us (myself, Theodore and Daniel). Although I was prepared to have a c-section should natural birth failed, I wasn’t prepared to be rushed into theatre for an emergency c-section without Daniel. My placenta had ruptured leaving doctors to race against time to save Theodore. I remember screaming my lungs out as doctors wheeled me into theatre and I felt extremely cold and scared.

Theodore probably doesn’t remember the trauma he went through, yet whenever I look in his eyes I feel the pain and distress he had undergone. What a tough start to life!

I woke up in the recovery room feeling dazed and everything felt surreal to me. I didn’t even know I had given birth since I didn’t experience any contractions or labour. I slipped in and out of consciousness as I was all drugged up. Little wonder that the c-section wound didn’t hurt me much after that.

Our boy spent a week in neo-natal care. The first 5 days were spent in intensive care hooked up to machines, oxygen tube, feeding tube etc. Each time I saw him, I cried my heart out. I was absolutely heart broken even though nurses reassured me that Theodore wasn’t in any pain. Whenever I returned to my hospital room, tears fell freely down my cheeks as I was separated from my boy and I felt utterly helpless. Unlike Daniel who remained strong and optimistic for us, I questioned why my son had to suffer.

Our beautiful boy was born with clubfeet which requires his feet to be in casts for 5-7 weeks before undergoing a minor surgery. Everyone tells me it’s a condition that can be sorted out and the doctors treating him are well confident too. Each week I look forward to Thursday which is “cast-changing” day. It’s the only day in the week where I get a few minutes to massage his legs, feel the flesh and warmth of them and kiss them. With each kiss I plant on his legs, I pray for the strength to help my boy through this.

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Today Theodore is 2 weeks old. Time flies with a baby, doesn’t it? I haven’t completely put the episode behind me. I still can’t talk about it without being upset and I do have fears of losing my boy after nearly losing him twice. How strange that a few minutes of my life two weeks ago have such a great effect on me. Yes, his screaming and never ending feeding demands do drive me up the wall at times, but I’m so glad he’s here to boss me around.

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We love this little darling to bits!

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K’ties Café, Frankfurt – Part 2

Earlier this year, while it was still dark and gloomy in winter, I visited K’ties Café. I had a delicious French breakfast set while Daniel ordered buttery scrambled eggs with ham and bread (read about our previous experience here).

As a reader recommended me their cakes, I made my way back to K’ties on a hot and sunny Thursday morning. Unlike my first experience on that weekend, the café was less busy on a weekday morning. I settled myself down in the cosy corner of the room where the window was left opened so that I could feel the occasional warm breeze against my skin. 20140522-223231-81151803.jpg

My latest love is rhubarb hence it was no surprise that I was tempted by the rhubarb tart behind the counter. As though the sourness in rhubarbs isn’t enough, I ordered a glass of cold Citron Pressé (French lemonade). No wonder Theodore got all hyper-active while I was enjoying my me-time at K’ties!

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It was a super delicious tart and rhubarb was definitely the main ingredient. While the rhubarb was sourish, the pastry was slightly sweet. A perfect combination!

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It was bright-tasting and very uplifting especially in the morning to indulge in this beautifully homemade rhubarb tart.

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Love Thy Neighbour

Do you get along with your neighbours?

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Fortunately for me, I’ve never really had dreadful neighbours. The worst I’ve had was when the couple who lived above our flat in Oxford didn’t sort out their rubbish into the different bins and I complained to the property agent about it. The complain was valid because it was disgusting to have trash oozing out of the bins which could attract pests.

We’ve been fortunate in Germany to not have inconsiderate neighbours. There are 8 units in our block and people greet each other. As I’m home most of the time, I’m more than happy to collect parcels for my working neighbours to save them trips to the post office.

Due to the language barrier, there is only one neighbour that I engage in actual conversations with. Most of the time she tells me ridiculous stuff like the following:

Conversation 1

Me: So how’s your new apartment? Settled in well? Is it noisy or anything like that?

Neighbour: All is great! And I hear EVERYTHING. Like EVERYTHING.

(Left me puzzled because we don’t hear ANYTHING!)

Conversation 2

*Door bell rang*

Neighbour: Good afternoon! I just wanted to check on you to see if you’ve given birth!

Me: Awww… That’s sweet!

Neighbour: I think about you and your baby ALL THE TIME!

Conversation 3

Neighbour: NEVER let the doctors do a C-section on you or induce you! I have 3 children. TRUST ME!

Me: (More than the doctors?)

Conversation 4

Daniel had a bad cough for weeks.

Neighbour: You cough a lot. Do you smoke?

Daniel: No.

Me: Sorry about it, he had a bad cough and cold.

Neighbour: I see! I was about to knock on your door and advise Daniel to stop smoking!

Conversation 5

Neighbour: You must eat a lot of salt because your eyes are puffy.

Me: (Thanks! I’m overdue and now I’m basically told I look like a bloody puffer fish.)

Conversation 6

Neighbour: (Upon seeing me STILL with a bump) You’re still not here, JEREMY!?!?!

Me: (Who the hell is Jeremy?)

Conversation 7

Neighbour: I hope you didn’t spend too much on clothes for your baby.

Me: We got what’s necessary and lots of presents.

Neighbour: That’s lovely! I hope people got you bigger sizes and not only newborn size.

Me: Yeah, we have a good mix from 0-3mth to bigger sizes.

Neighbour: 0-3mths is too small!!! You should start buying from 6mths and just dress your baby up in bigger sizes!

Me: (Yah right… Dress a newborn in a sleepsuit for 6mths old. I could tie the ends of the sleeves and feet together so my baby looks mental!)

Conversation 8

Neighbour: If you need a ride to the hospital, just get Daniel to ring my doorbell. However, I have a two-seater. He’ll need to run behind my car.

Me: Thanks for the offer! (Surely my husband will be very pleased about that?)

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The Final Countdown

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Do you think anyone will ring social services to warn them of me?

Please don’t. Of course I won’t punish my boy for being late. Till date, he’s 2 days late which apparently is very common for first-time mums (according to my gynaecologist). However, this last stretch has proven to be a test of my patience. Suddenly I’m fuelled with immense energy to walk everywhere to every single spot in Frankfurt just to get things moving, but to no avail.

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Instead of counting the seconds and watching out for every sign of him coming, I thought I might as well enjoy my last ME-time. So I visited Oheim Café in Frankfurt for a drink and cookie with David Mitchell’s memoir, Back Story, in hand. Of course, I can always rely on him to make me laugh. In fact, it has been ages since I read a book that made me laugh out loud in public. Unfortunately, you’ve got to know his on-screen character to hear his voice as you read to find it funny I suppose. But then again, who buys books of people they don’t know or never heard of?

So yes, we’re counting down. In Germany, the doctors will let you wait up till 10 days (assuming that the baby is doing fine) before deciding to induce labour. For the first 7 days, a CTG of the baby will be carried out every 2 days to ensure a healthy heartbeat and to check for contractions. After which, the doctors recommend a CTG on a daily basis till the 10th late day. According to my gynaecologist, this is the norm. However, I’m pretty sure things might differ depending on your pregnancy and what your doctor thinks is best for you.

The last stretch is indeed the most difficult. Apart from the physical burden of the baby that causes hell a lot of inconvenience and discomfort, I’m at the point where I just want a cuddle with my little man and nothing else. It’s really hard to concentrate on doing other things or run errands. However I shall try. I shall try to enjoy my ME-time as much as possible before my attention seeking little man rules my day (and night).

Pre-bomb Hiroshima

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, it was my second time visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum which was established in August 1955. It serves to not only commemorate the victims of the A-bomb tragedy that was happened to Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, but also advocates peace education. A popular school trip destination for Japanese school children, I highly recommend a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum if you’re in the city to understand its tragic past and its constant efforts to make the world a safer place today.

The museum showcases belongings and stories of victims of the A-bomb. The exhibits can prove to be rather disturbing and upsetting for some.

Before A-bomb was dropped
Pre-bomb Hiroshima
Overview of Hiroshima before the A-bomb was dropped on the city.
After A-bomb was dropped
Overview of Hiroshima city after the bombing
Overview of Hiroshima city after the A-bomb was dropped.

The city was totally wiped out by the bomb. Buildings were burnt to ashes and brought absolutely to the ground.

A  watch that stopped at the time of the atomic bombing.
A watch that stopped at the time of the atomic bombing.
Shirt that burnt
A shirt that burnt.

As visitors walk through the museum, you will also watch short films of testimonies by survivors, witness the damage done by the blast and radiation and Hiroshima’s road to recovery.

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Before (LEFT) VS After (Right)

Indeed, we walked out of the museum with heavy hearts. The suffering the victims endured and extent of damage the city suffered are beyond what anyone can imagine unless you’ve been through it yourself.

The museum’s aim isn’t to shift blame. It is unlike many of our history textbooks. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum only strives to educate visitors on the horror of nuclear weapons, the misery and damage that result from meaningless wars and the importance of peace.

Related articles you might like:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Miyajima Island, Japan

Useful links if you’re interested in visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum site

Japan Guide

Visit Hiroshima

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5 Things To Do For Yourself This Week

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Let’s for once stop thinking about all the tasks others have set us to accomplish for the week. Take a moment and check off this list FOR YOURSELF
.

This week, I’m going to focus on accomplishing the 5 tasks above. Sleeping more hours is a challenge since I have a “watermelon” attached to my belly 24/7 but I know I’ll have to!

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Kick off the week with a good start – starting with yourself.

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Mixed Salad with Rice

The heat is on in Frankfurt. I ought to be ashamed of myself for not being able to withstand 25 degrees Celsius since I’m from Singapore. My excuse is that the tiny island is well equipped with air-conditioning. You could shop on Orchard Road without ever seeing the sun for goodness sake!

Here’s what we’ll be expecting next week in Frankfurt. Temperatures are up and although I don’t take the heat as well as Daniel, I love clear skies and plenty of sunshine. You won’t find me tanning myself though.

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When I asked Daniel what he fancied for dinner on a hot day, he suggested mixed salad with rice. It reminded him of what he would get when they get their occasional heatwave in the UK.

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Here’s a list of ingredients we used in our mixed salad which by the way is perfect for any hot day.

Ingredients (serves 4)
Iceberg salad (lettuce)
1 yellow pepper, chopped
3 small carrots, grated
5 radish, thinly sliced
Half a cucumber, sliced
1 avocado, chopped into cubes
1 tin of tuna mixed with kidney beans and corn
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Gouda cheese, cut into cubes (or any cheese you prefer)

Instructions
Mix the ingredients all in a huge bowl. Add salad dressing only after you’ve dished up. This is so you can keep the remaining salad without it becoming all soggy overnight.

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To make it a more substantial meal, we heated up some Uncle Ben’s Basmati Rice with Curry. You could serve it with a bread roll or long grain rice. Or, just help yourself to more salad if you want to omit carbs.

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We are keeping the remaining salad in the fridge for lunch on Sunday (assuming baby doesn’t come before lunch time!). The different ingredients used gave the salad an excellent texture. While the avocado was softer (more of a creamy texture), the pepper added crunch to the salad overall. And since it was so light, it does help cool is down on a hot day. Always a bonus to NOT stand in front of a cooking stove too!

What do you like to have on a hot day? Feel free to suggest a recipe or two in the comments section below!

There's no time for regrets.

Happy Friday – “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”

There's no time for regrets.
Source: Bright Drops  – Dr Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904 – 1991), American writer, poet & cartoonist

It is often difficult to appreciate every single split second of the present with the so-called “present” instantaneously becoming the “past” as the clock ticks away. Very often we take things for granted and it’s only with our 20/20 hindsight vision that we realise that we should have been grateful. It is only human nature to look back, to recollect and to be overwhelmed by nostalgia for the good old days.

So, let’s live in the present and appreciate what we have (tangible and intangible, material goods and people). Let’s try to embrace the present whenever possible and enjoy the moment.

As a Mama-to-be, this quote couldn’t have appeared before me at a better time. Our little boy will not stay a newborn forever, he will not want me to plant kisses and cuddle up with him forever, he will want to walk by himself and not hold my hands anymore. At some point, he would rather have romantic dinner dates with some girl I’ve not met instead of Mama’s home cooked food.

Therefore, I’m going to cherish the priceless moments we have together. These moments, whatever they’ll be, will soon be etched in my memory.

 

Related articles

Happy Friday

37 Dr Seuss’ Quotes That Can Change The World

25 Uplifting Quotes to Brighten Your Day When Life Gets Tough

 

 

 

 

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Soba Salad with Honey Soy Sauce

With temperatures looking like they will soar slightly over the next couple of weeks, I’m really eager to share with you a tried and tested Soba Salad with Honey Soy Sauce recipe.

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Soba is one of my favourite Japanese noodles. It’s made out of buckwheat and you’ll just need to boil the noodles according to the instructions on the packaging. If you live in Frankfurt, soba is readily available at all Asian supermarkets.

This recipe was adapted from Just One Cookbook (my favourite online Japanese cooking resource).

Firstly, here’s the list of ingredients for the sauce (For original recipe, please see here.)
1 Tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. mixed chilli & pepper
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Other Ingrediants
3-4 bundles of soba noodles (serves 4)
1 spring onion
2 medium carrots, grated

Instructions
1. Mix the oil, mixed chilli and pepper and sesame oil in a small sauce pan. Heat it on medium heat for 10 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the honey well with the soy sauce.

3. When the oil mixture is done, carefully mix it with the honey and soy sauce. Whisk well to ensure that the honey is dissolved.

4. Cook the soba noodles according to the instructions on the packaging (no need to add salt!). Once it’s cooked, run it under cold water and set aside to drain.

5. In a big bowl, mix the soba, spring onions, carrots and honey soy sauce. Toss the mixture well and serve either cold or at room temperature.

Although I had this for lunch on a day with a maximum of only 14 degrees Celsius, I can imagine how refreshing the noodles would be on a hot summer’s day. I love it so much that I’m serving it for dinner as a main dish with a couple of pan-fried salmon fillets.

Fountain in the garden

National Orchid Garden, Singapore

Entrance to Singapore Botanic Gardens
Entrance to Singapore Botanic Gardens

The National Orchid Garden, which is located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens, is the place to visit if you’re up for exploring the beauty and diversity of Singapore’s national flower.

Source: Vanda Miss Joaquim (Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim)
Source: Vanda Miss Joaquim (Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim)

Ironically, I was recommended this place by an American friend who was awed by the different species of orchids you can find there.

Entrance to National Orchid Garden
Source: Entrance to National Orchid Garden

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Apparently we love naming our orchids after celebrities. The royal family was obviously not let off the hook either. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the garden in 2012, they were shown the orchids that were named after the late Princess Diana.

Source: Daily Mail
Source: Daily Mail, those are the orchids named after the late Princess Diana.

The white orchid was meant for Princess Diana, but unfortunately, she died in the tragic car crash in Paris just two weeks before she was due to fly to Singapore to see it.

I simply love orchids and they are my favourite flowers. I love their colours and the different patterns you can find on their leaves. If you’re also into orchids, and want to learn more about the different variety and how they’re cultivated, you’ll have to visit the National Orchid Garden when you have time in Singapore. It’s also a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road (the main shopping street where brands repeat themselves in each mall)!

Tip for the visit:

When we say the National Orchid Garden is nestled in Singapore Botanic Gardens, we mean it. It is no easy walk given the temperatures and humidity you get in Singapore, especially if you’re not used to it. I was born and raised there and I complain (national pastime) about the heat a lot. Try to go early in the morning when it tends to be cooler.

National Orchid Garden, Entrance fees
Adult $5,
Students and seniors citizens (60 years and above) $1
Children under 12 enjoy free admission

Opening hours
Daily 8.30am – 7pm

Other places to visit in Singapore:

Chinatown

Gardens by the Bay

 

The Great Torii, Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island, Japan

Miyajima Island, which is accessible by ferry from Hiroshima, is one of the top most scenic spots in Japan. Home to Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site, this charming island is historically rich and romantic at the same time.

The Great Torii which stands in the sea. During low tide, you can walk out to the foot of the great torii.
The Great Torii which stands in the sea. During low tide, you can walk out to the foot of the great torii.
Ferry view
View of the great torii from the ferry as we approach Miyajima Island.

In Shinto, deers are thought to be sacred animals as they were messengers of the gods. On the island, the deers wander freely and are very friendly towards people.

Deer in Miyajima Island
As soon as you get off the ferry, you’ll be warmly greeted by the island’s habitants, deers. They’re really friendly, so don’t be afraid of them.

The evening atmosphere at Miyajima was just what we needed to rest our aching feet after all the walking we had been doing. We sat on a rock next to each other quietly and watched the sun set before us. It was brilliant and definitely a good way to end the day after learning Hiroshima’s tragic past.

While it’s easy to be disturbed and depressed over the past and be angry over the fact that innocent lives were lost, I reckon it is also important to respect the fighting spirit of Hiroshima. The city quickly rebuilt itself and people learnt to move on to face whatever the future had for them. It is with this mindset and spirit that I believe we can overcome the difficulties before us and come out as stronger individuals.

Unfortunately, we didn’t plan to stay for the night on Miyajima Island. It would have been a great experience for Daniel. I was fortunate to spend a night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in 2004 when I was there for a field trip. When we have the chance to visit Japan again, I’ll make sure we book a night in on this treasure island.

Related articles:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan

Kyushu University Summer Exchange Programme

Useful links when planning your visit to Miyajima Island:

1. Welcome to Miyajima Island

2. Miyajima Travel Association

3. Visit Hiroshima

A blog on my three greatest loves – family, food & travels

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