Painting with Lemons

At 9am on Saturday morning, Theo was ready to put on his shoes to go to the playground but we weren’t. My eyes were still half closed because which mum gets sufficient sleep, right? We told him he had to wait for us to get ready before heading out so he said he wanted to do some painting instead.

I had some lemons which I thought would be great to use to “teach” him about circles. 

But of course, he found it more fun to slide the lemons around on the paper. And we ended up with…..

Shocking!!! But oh well, as long as he had fun while painting and wasn’t rushing us to get out of the house. 

Build a truck – Shapes Activity

In the recent weeks, Theo has taken interest to learning about shapes. Prior to him taking interest in learning, it was futile for us to “educate” or “drill” concepts into him. So we thought “oh well, he’ll want to learn when he’s ready whenever that may be”. You can imagine how thrilled we were when he started asking questions such as “What’s that?” while pointing out to different shapes. 

Therefore, I looked up on Pinterest for activities that will keep him interested in learning instead of just using wall charts or flashcards and constantly drilling information to him. 

Here’s what I came up with. I did the top truck to give him an idea what he is supposed to do. I introduced him to the shapes – circle and square. I didn’t want to have more than 2 different shapes in one activity as I want it to be simple. 

Full concentration! He was very happy to have “built” a truck. I didn’t expect him to repeat after me when I told him what the shapes were.

That’s the final product. He can’t quite arrange the shapes to fit within the lines accurately yet but really, I don’t expect him to. So here’s Theo’s wobbly truck. 

Dinosaur Biscuits (Cookies)

Using BBC Good Food Basic Biscuit Recipe, we made some dinosaur footprint biscuits this afternoon. 

I didn’t expect how difficult it was to get a 2 year old to NOT over stomp dinosaurs on the dough. But it didn’t matter, after all the forceful stomping around, I just went back to the kitchen to modify bits that would have burn in the oven. 

Theo was very excited and kept picking up the dough to eat despite us stopping him. 

When we were done, we roared into the camera. 

Here’s my little man enjoying the finished product. He was so proud of himself. 

Dinosaurs Ice Excavation 

The dinosaurs need some help from Theo as they are trapped in the Ice Age! What tools does he need to excavate them?

1. Wooden spoon

2. Metal spoon

3. Paint brush

4. Salt water in a spray bottle

5. Small craft hammer

First I filled an ice-cream box with about an inch of water and put 6 dinosaurs in. After it has frozen, I placed another 6 on top of it and covered it with water, making sure there was space for water to expand when it’s frozen. 

Initially we thought we would leave the hammer to the last resort because we didn’t want to be “hammered” by a 2 year old whatever intentions he had. But he wasn’t fussed about it actually as he was having more fun spraying salt water at us (mostly) and the dinosaurs. 

We had to bring this activity outdoors as it was a lot warmer than our cool apartment. If we were to do this in winter, I would freeze the dinosaurs in smaller containers instead and do this activity indoors. 

He was very careful with the small craft hammer, thankfully! I was also surprised that he managed to hammer the ice with great accuracy! Hurray to refining motor skills! 

We also tried smashing the bits of ice to break them into smaller pieces. Throwing is often something we frown upon in our apartment so Theo was happy he got to throw ice outdoors for a little while. Everything seems to be amplified in apartment living which is annoying! 

Yay to excavating the first dinosaur! 

It took about 30 minutes (with our help) to excavate all 12 mini dinosaurs from the Ice Age. 

When we got home, I read to him one of his favourite books, “Dinosaur bites”. 

This activity wasn’t too time consuming to prepare, neither was it too much of a hassle to do and needed just a little supervision depending on what sort of tools you use (be careful with the hammer). 

We had a great time together as a family doing this together and tomorrow, we’ll continue with another dinosaur themed activity. 

Oberwaldhaus, Darmstadt

To celebrate Singapore’s 51st Birthday this year (9th August-National Day), a group of Singaporeans and our families met up at Oberwaldhaus in Darmstadt. Easily accessible via Bus F from Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof, I am so glad to have been introduced to this beautiful park. 

Surrounded by plenty of luscious greenery, a lake where you can rent a boat for, a mini golf playarea, pony rides and a playground, the park has lots of offer for families of different ages.

Blessed with warm rays of sunshine, we were fortunate to secure a shady spot for the picnic. 

It was great meeting old friends and seeing new faces. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long as we had a train and bus to catch to get back to Frankfurt. However, it’s always nice to have a good catch up with the rest, enjoy each other’s food and company. 

Nature Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers

We love going out on walks as a family. To begin with it was stressful because Theo had no idea about traffic rules and refused to hold our hands for his own safety. But after a month or so of constantly educating him about the “red man”, “green man”, traffic lights, zebra crossings and the mandatory need to hold our hands when crossing the road, he’s a much better toddler to bring out without a buggy now. 

To kick start our summer holidays together (spent at home by the way), I designed a Nature Scavenger Hunt based on ideas I found on Pinterest. 

Depending on the age of the child, I think 5 objects is just right for a 2 year old. 

I put the piece of paper in a zip lock bag because I didn’t want him to crush it all up. This means we can easily reuse this activity in the future. Well, it’s also because I don’t have any laminating sheets at home. 

1. Stick found

2. Dandelion seed head

3. Red poppy

4. Spot the bee

5. Last but not least, green leaves

Theo really enjoyed this activity. We prompted him along the way to help him spot smaller objects. I also find it very educational as we could use this activity in line with books about nature and his favourite Bee Man book. 

There are many scavenger hunt activities such as colours, transportation, animals etc that can be done so this can be tailored to suit the interest of the child. 

Shoebox Craft – Carpark

Theo is absolutely MAD about cars. Recently his love for them has gotten even bigger – only wears tops and bottoms with cars or buses on. What service have I done to myself for getting him plain trousers for Kita?!?! 

He hasn’t got a toy garage to play with but he’s very happy pushing cars on tables, carpet and the floor. The boy doesn’t know what he’s missing since he hasn’t got it. Ha! Apart from Ah Ma (my mum) spoiling him during her one-month visit, our general rule is to only get him gifts for Easter, birthday and Christmas. The odd €2 hot wheels cars are great as rewards but we personally like the thrill of opening presents only on special occasions. 

I have a couple of shoeboxes lying around at home and thought it would be a waste to not do anything crafty with them. So I looked up on wonderful Pinterest for ideas and made him a garage.

It came as a surprise for him as he was out for a walk with his Papa when I made this. He absolutely loved it and played with it for hours! 

He enjoys pushing cars through the holes and peeping through them when the box is closed. I’m just really glad that he had so much fun playing with something I made randomly for him. 

I drew an ice-cream shop, cars toy shop and hospital in the box and Theo gets to decide where the cars are going. Of course they’re always going to the toy shop to get more cars! 

Goetheturm, Waldspielpark

As you’ve probably realised, we’ve been making good use of the summery weather here in Frankfurt by enjoying all the greenery around us. The husband gets his exercise, the boy gets to burn his endless amount of energy and I get to enjoy a moment of serenity.

We don’t live too far from Goetheturm in Sachsenhausen but it isn’t till this summer that we visited it with Theo. Children do bring you to places, don’t they? 

Although it was a blistering hot day, being in the forest made us feel a lot cooler as the green trees offered us lots of shade. 

This is the playground nearer the car park. Goetheturm has another playground where the BBQ pits are but I thought that was more suitable for older children. 

The swing is probably one of Theo’s favourite activities at the playground for now. This boy knows no fear and loves being pushed really high up into the air. 

He also insisted that Dan went on the slide. 

We’ll definitely organise playdates with Theo’s friends at Goetheturm next time and bring a picnic. There is ample space for kids to run around and have fun. Even if the kids aren’t in tow, I imagine it’s a fabulous place for a good long walk or a jog too. 

Schwanheim Waldspielpark, Frankfurt

It takes a while getting used to most services being shut on Sundays in Germany, but once I got used to it, I LOVE it. I appreciate the fact that on Sundays we get proper family time – not distracted by running errands and shopping. 

One of my favourite things to do on such a Sunday is to go to a park. Despite being a concrete jungle, Frankfurt has a handful of green spaces to relax in and Schwanheim Waldspielpark is one of them.

In the summer, the waterplay playground is the highlight for families. We do (un)fortunately get very humid summers in Frankfurt so such playgrounds are great for cooling us down. 

It wasn’t quite 30 degrees Celsius when we were there but Theo enjoyed himself running through the water and splashing around. 

I reckon his favourite thing to do then was to hold Dan’s hands to run through the water repeatedly. I can’t wait to bring him back to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay waterplay again! 

For those who aren’t fussed about the playground, the trails there are also gentle for most people. The terrains are  fairly smooth and flat. 

It’s definitely a great place to chill and be away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There is also a small but very interesting tram museum and petting zoo next to the tram stop. 

Djeco Fingerpaint for Toddlers

Last week, I finally got Theo some fingerpaint. He has been “painting” at Kita and seem to enjoy it so there is no reason why I shouldn’t do the same with him at home for the fear of mess.

I wanted paints that won’t stain clothes and fingers and are super easy to wash. So I walked into a local boutique and bought some Djeco fingerpaints. 

Each pot is 100ml so they are fairly huge and will go a long way. 

It’s almost impossible to make him wear a bib so you can imagine that a paint that doesn’t stain clothes is top priority on my list. Yup, I choose my battles to fight with  Theo. 

We did some hand-printing and I think the colours came out quite nicely. When switching colours, I didn’t even have to wash his hands. I just used a damp cloth to wipe them and we were ready to paint his hands another colour. It was super washable! The white cloth was stainless after I put it for wash in the washing machine too. 

Theo really enjoys fingerpainting. He loves banging his palms on the paper and seeing the effects he’s making. 

This is a great activity for us to teach him colours and it also helps refine motor skills as he gets to paint his palms himself. 

I’m definitely looking forward to doing more painting activities with him over the summer holiday. 

Western-super-Mare Beachside

I love going to the beach. Many of my childhood memories were of me having a splendid time with family by the seaside in Singapore, usually with lots of good food too. As a teenager, I went to the beach often with my friends to play volleyball, kayak or swim in the sea. The scent of warm sea breeze, soft sandy beaches and sounds of crashing waves relax me. Unfortunately, I live in the center of Germany now. Nowhere near the sea. Even when we lived in Oxford, we were nowhere near the sea. 

So when my sister-in-law asked me for holiday ideas during our last trip back to England, I said I wanted to visit the seaside. And off to Western-super-Mare we went which was less than an hour’s drive away from Taunton where we rented a holiday house. 

It was the first time ever that I wore a cardigan to the seaside. Who does that, right? Thankfully, the weather was on our side and it got really hot. 

I’ve not been to many beaches in England but the sand on Western-super-Mare was really soft. It’s not grainy like the beaches I’m used to in Singapore. Actually, the sand reminded me of sand dunes in Perth, Australia. Yes, super fine! 

It was low tide when we visited so I didn’t actually get to see the sea which was very far out. But the whole feeling of being by the seaside was a happy one.

The kids had a fabulous time at the beach. The adults built them a huge aeroplane, castle and mini-car to sit in. Theo especially liked to eat sand just to annoy me.

One of the things I really enjoyed was eating fish and chips on the beach (next to the sea aquarium too!). That was perfect! 

Theo’s 2nd Birthday

This year, Theo’s really fortunate to spend his 2nd birthday with his Grampy, Aunties, Uncle and little cousins in England. We tried to keep it as simple as possible because we didn’t want to overwhelm him but still, he fell asleep before lunchtime. Good for us though since we managed to have our meals in peace.

He enjoyed the plate of sausage and mash. Turning 2 is so much different to when he first turned 1 and was absolutely clueless about what was happening. At least this time round he was more excited about getting presents and birthday cake.

He was very pleased with the Disney Pixar Cars card that his Auntie made specially for him. You can have a look at all her beautifully handcrafted cards here

We bought this Peppa Pig car cake for £10 at Sainsbury. I’m always impressed at how easily you can get delicious and pretty cakes from most supermarkets in England for a decent price. I thought it would be extremely sweet given the icing but it turned out alright. 

2 years old seems like a huge milestone to achieve. I’m really proud of Theo! In the second year of his life, he learnt to walk, talk, run, kick a ball, attends playgroup full-time, got more independent etc. The list goes on and on. They seem really trivial to us, but it’s a big deal for the little ones. 

As we move on to proper toddlerhood, I hope that Theo continues to flash his infectious smile to those he meets, be as healthy as possible and knows that he is my everything. 

Coats back on

We can’t quite believe that we were sweating buckets in t-shirts and shorts last weekend because this weekend has been wet and cold. How unpredictable can the weather get in Germany? In fact, I heard it’s quite typical of Spring. 

Despite the less favorable weather, we brought Theo to the park for some fresh air. The boy has far too much energy to be stuck in a 73 sq meters apartment (yay to city living!!!) all day. 

We pretended he was the mouse from The Gruffalo. We looked for fox, snake and owl. 

I kept telling Dan to keep to the main track and told Theo not to touch anything. To which my husband said, “Oh, Mama grew up in the city.”

Theo’s obsessed with bugs at the moment. He crouches down to greet them whenever he sees one. It gets really awkward on pavements when I have to squat along the road with him to “speak” to insects. People usually give me a friendly smile and nod when we make eye contact, but I wonder if they ever think we’re nuts. 

Let’s hope the weather improves after our 2 weeks holiday back in England. 

Parenting without Support: The Roller Coaster Ride

It has been 4 years since we relocated to Frankfurt. The move wasn’t too difficult. We were (and still!!!) young, made friends easily and enjoyed our new environment. Life, which was easy as pie, got a little more challenging when Theo came along. There are days when tears flow freely down my cheeks, and days when my husband and I get so snappy with each other that you’ll be worried that we might kill each other. On those bad days, I feel like all my energy has been sucked out and I’ll be dead soon. But I’m still alive and kicking. After two years (soon!!!) of parenthood, we’ve come to cope by ourselves. 

I suppose it depends on how you look at our current circumstances – Parenting without (physical) support. Here are the “highlights”:

1. My child, my say

No one can easily throw criticism at me based on what feed my child or how I discipline him. We get to raise him the way we believe is good for him – no spanking, lots of love and as little negative statements thrown at him as possible.  

2. Dan and I are a team

There are times when we say “We need to prioritise family over everything else”. Even as a Stay at Home Mum, I need to be a fully functioning one. If my child falls sick, we take turns in the night to care for him. We’re in the same team and I’m grateful for a husband who places his family first. 

3. We make our own plans

I have a huge extended family. One weekend will be someone’s first birthday, next weekend will be a wedding and the following will be a Christening. There is always something going on. Being our little family away just means we get to actually do activities that we enjoy as a family unit. We don’t have to attend functions just to “give face”. 

Parenting without support is definitely not all “Yay!!! We can do every damn thing our way” everyday. That’s simply because life doesn’t always plan out the way we want it to. 

Here’s why parenting without support sucks:

1. No time off

I’m not even talking about date nights. The fact that 2 sick adults will just have to suck it up to look after a sick child just sucks big time. We experienced that in winter and it was awful. A cold that would usually take a week to recover now takes a month before we’re hit by another virus. 

2. Lonely

It gets terribly lonely. Our child doesn’t get to grow up with regular play dates with his cousins because he can’t play with them in person often enough. Even with FaceTime, he can’t be cuddled and hugged as much as everyone would love to give him. While I do enjoy our own family time, it gets quiet during the festive seasons (especially Chinese New Year) and birthdays. 

3. No reliable childcare 

I’m one of those mums who don’t believe in engaging nannies, especially when so many in Frankfurt claim to have the experience when they lived elsewhere in the world. Anyone can write anything on their CV, how can I verify if any of it is even true? I could even have the nanny look after my child while I’m at home (so I can supervise) but who knows what will happen when I’m not around. If I’m not leaving my jewellery with a stranger, why would I leave my son with one? Paranoid mum, perhaps? 

I do find my friends who have family support really fortunate. I’m envious they get the occasional time out from being mummies and daddies. But I won’t deny the highs of parenting without support either. This isn’t about who’s leading a better or easier life as parents. 

As my husband put it across during dinner this evening, “I’m constantly tired but I’m filled with so much happiness to be with my boy“. 

We’ve somehow learnt to manage our family life and are still learning as we go along. We mess up every so often but that’s ok. We aren’t perfect parents but we’re the best for our boy. These 2 years of raising Theo has uncovered the hidden strengths and determination we have in us (even when we’re exhausted) to make things work. And I think that immeasurable strength comes from our lovely little Theo. 

Mothers’ Day Spielfest at Park Louisa

Goodbye to those weekends when we spend hours sitting in a cafe drinking coffee together, or be able to shop leisurely. With a toddler, weekends aren’t just quite the same anymore. I’m not complaining though because we do end up having lots of fun together (most of the time). 

It takes a little researching and planning on our part to know what we’ll be doing on the weekends. As we all know, it takes 10 times longer to get out of the house with a kid. I do try to keep my eyes open when walking around the city for posters of events suitable for Theo, especially free and low-cost ones. 

This weekend is Mothers’ Day and there was a big Spielfest at Park Louisa in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt. It cost €3 per child and all the activities (apart from the merry-go-round rides and face painting) were included. 

It was scortching hot! After Theo had a near sunburnt incident in Singapore (I say he has his Papa’s skin-type, that’s why!), I’m now super ULTRA anal about applying sunblock on him. Fortunately, he’s quite good with me applying creams on him so he never fusses and is quite happy about it. 

Theo really enjoyed the little paddling pool with balls and pipes. I was really impressed by the slightly older kids who used different parts of the pipes to form a big long pipe. What’s the big deal, you might ask! But those kids (no more than 5 years old) were experimenting with gravity, had excellent motor skills and when a ball got stuck in the pipes, they actually knew how to fix the problem. How hands-on is this activity? 

I’ve never seen kids go down big rollers in a plastic box in my life till we moved to Germany. It’s a common sight at the airports for sure. Theo was actually really thrilled by it. If not for having to stand under the hot sun in the queue, I would have let him have as many tries as possible but once was enough. It was extremely popular among the kids. 

After waiting for about 40 minutes, Theo finally had his face painted. I know he’s had his face painted at Kita but I’ve never seen the final “art piece”. It took me by surprise when he actually said he wanted a tiger painted on his face. I offered a few different options but he was determined to have a tiger painted on him. 

The boy was so excited to sit on the chair for his face to be painted. The artist saw him and said she’d only do a few simple lines/ patterns because she didn’t think a boy his age would sit still for the entire process. 40 minutes of persistence from Theo was definitely enough for me to insist that she gave him a tiger face. He was SO good at following her instructions and sat still throughout. He usually doesn’t sit very still so he must have enjoyed face painting a lot. 

It was an exhausting day in the heat but we had so much fun with Theo. He was laughing lots and kept roaring just like a tiger. Weekends are never dull with such a lively boy. 

White Asparagus 

When I had these white asparagus a couple of years ago, I didn’t like them. I didn’t understand why anyone would go crazy over them. However, I was tempted by A Sausage has Two to give them a second chance. 

I made them for a quick lunch so I only cooked the asparagus the way Christie described in her blog. The sauce was store-bought. 

The white asparagus were so tender and juicy! I never knew that I had to boil them in the light stock made from their peelings and ends. I’ve always just boiled them in water and butter. I reckon that adding sugar and salt into the stock definitely helped bring out the flavour of this highly sought after seasonal produce at this time of the year. 

Stabilo Woody 3in1 Colour Pencils Review

In the past couple of weeks, Theo has shown more interest in colouring. While we do have a set of Crayola Jumbo crayons (see picture below), I thought it would be great to have the Stabilo after reading many positive reviews.

Here’s why I prefer the Stabilo. 

1. They don’t break (as easily as Crayola Jumbo crayons)

I don’t know if the jumbo crayons are just a little too fragile for my liking or what, but they break too easily when Theo drops them. Little bits and pieces of crayons are no good for a toddler who puts things in his mouth! 

2. Blunt top

The tips of the Stabilo pencils are rounded off making them less likely (impossible in fact!) to chip off when pressure is applied. Theo can be quite forceful when colouring (Dan thinks his son has “a lot of passion” for the art … Hahaha!) so the Stabilo works better for him.

3. Works on different surfaces

Try telling an almost 2 year old to colour ONLY on paper. They turn a deaf ear. Theo sits in his high chair to colour and after a while he discovered that the Stabilo pencils work very well on his tray. 

Thankfully, they are super easy to wipe just with wipes or wet cloth. 

All the marks are gone! 

4. Vivid colours

The colours are brighter and more vivid than the crayons too which I think is great for toddlers learning cause and effect. Isn’t it annoying when you have to use all your strength to see “yellow” appear on white paper? 

5. Good grip

Given its size, it allows toddlers to have a good grip without having to apply a lot of pressure to get a good, dense colour. 

We’re in a bit of a “crazy over Winnie-the-Pooh” phase right now so I just printed the least busy picture of him off the internet this morning. 

Looking forward to more colouring/ drawing time with our set of Stabilo! 

Sleep Baby, Sleep (for goodness sake!)

If you asked me 4 months ago to put Theo down to sleep, chances are I’ll be stuck in bed with him. He was 19 months old then BUT BUT BUT (and I say “but” because every damn thing online suggests children that age should already be able to self-soothe blah blah blah) he’ll demand to be nursed to sleep. I’ll admit it – I’m his dummy/ pacifier, whatever you want to call it. A lot of my fellow co-sleeping friends (with their babies) know what this feels like. 

Every parenting article makes you guilty like crap because it’s SOOOOO our fault for creating these “unhealthy sleep associations”. Co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, carrying your baby while they sleep are just some examples of bad sleep habits. Doctors will tell you they don’t need to nurse at night, sleep experts will tell you to “sleep train” your child and a little crying is ok and the child will be sorted after a while. 

These sleep associations involve parents playing a role – to show affection, love and support so that the child sleeps peacefully and remains calm. But they are apparently BAD habits that we’re getting our kiddos into. 

Funnily enough, a dummy is acceptable. A silicon/ latex nipple-like object is perfectly acceptable to stuff into a child’s mouth to soothe him/ her. I’m totally fine with the dummy/pacifier by the way. How convenient! If a child can be soothed by anything else apart from his/her parents (eg. soft toy or pacifier), that’s alright (till you lose it at the mall!).

Trust me, we tried our best in our family to let Papa take over, offer water, pick up put down, not pick up, cry it out for a bit. They are all crappy solutions FOR US. None worked without resulting in a “screamed himself purple till no voice” baby. So we decided between ourselves that we won’t force him to fall asleep by himself, or be put down (semi) awake. Since we let him take the lead in terms of breastfeeding and taking solids, why not let him take lead when it comes to sleeping too, right? That’s my rationale anyway. 

I feel for friends who tell me their babies have kept them awake for hours. Stupid o’clock hours. It’s dreadful. 

But there is hope. Sleeping through the night and falling asleep by themselves are developmental milestones. Great if they achieved them young and tough if they don’t till they’re toddlers. They will get there.

Dan puts Theo to bed every evening now without the little one fussing. He’s just happy to “catch up” with his Papa. When I put him to bed, he fussed for milk to begin with but now he chats with me too or we look into each other’s eyes in silence till he falls asleep. It’s the best time in the evening for me. 

Does he still wake up at night? Yes, and he looks for me. He doesn’t cry hysterically like before though. He has also woken up to look for his Papa instead without crying. Does his night wakings bother us? Not really. And when he doesn’t wake up by a certain time at night, I do miss him. Crazy, right? 

So if you’re a mum struggling with a night owl or a dad who feels unwanted and unloved by your child, fret not. You will really get there. As with everything we do with Theo, one tiny step at a time. 

If you’re facing judgments from family and friends about breastfeeding your toddler (“Still?!?!?!” they exclaim), just do whatever works for your family. People can share all they want about how they brought up their kids (battle between breastfed vs formula fed babies, whether to give breastfed babies water, bedtime routine etc), but as your lovely child’s parents, just do what is right for your child and your family. 

Top 5 Ultimate Tips for Visiting Frankfurt Christmas Market

It is never too early to plan a trip to visit THE Frankfurt Christmas Market which is taking place between 23rd November and 22nd December 2016. As one of the most enchanting and magical Christmas Markets in the region, it is no wonder that this business hub bursts into live during this season.

Video Credit: Frankfurt Tourismus

The market starts from Hauptwache and stretches all the way to Frankfurt’s scenic Römerberg which is the heart of the festival. The sweet smell of almond, roasted chestnuts, and traditional Christmas spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, anise (and many more) that go into that mug of warm Glühwein linger in the air, adding to the festive ambience of the market.

Here are my Top 5 Ultimate Tips for visiting the Frankfurt Christmas Market:

1. Go on an empty stomach

Do NOT eat lunch or dinner prior to visiting the market. There are plenty of amazing food stalls spread out the entire market. And what better way than to try some local delights that will not break your bank?

German Sausages

There will be a selection of chicken, pork and beef sausages in bread rolls. Another popular treat to have is Curry Wurst.


Belgian Chips

These are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Topped with onions, tomato ketchup and mayo, Belgian Chips are morish! They are made from fresh potatoes at the market too.



No Christmas Market experience is complete without treating yourself to a mug of warm mulled wine commonly known as Glühwein. 


Each year, sellers have new mug designs. When you pay for your drink, you’ll be given a plastic token and asked to leave a deposit (Pfand) of a couple of Euros. After you’re done, you need to bring the mug back to the stall and give them the token to get your deposit back. But if you’d love to have one of these lovely mugs, you’re welcome to bring it home.


2. Experience it when it gets dark

To be able to fully bask in the joy and festive spirit of the market, visit it when it gets dark. The illumination of the gigantic Christmas tree and decorations on the stalls are what really make the Frankfurt Christmas Market a magical experience.


My favourite spot at the market each and every year is where the carousel is at Römerberg. People standing at tables digging into their food and drinks, laughing with family and friends, children smiling from ear to ear as the carousel spins are just some of the common scenes at the market.

3. Great gifts to bring home

With more than 200 stalls, the market has plenty of gifts of different price range to offer. Here are some gift ideas:

4. Christmas train ride

If you have very young children with you, I recommend going earlier in the day when it’s less crowded. Or, visit the market in early December and not wait till it’s nearer to Christmas when the crowd really flows in. The little train ride is a hit among toddlers and young childrens. This is located at Hauptwache.



5. Use public transport around Frankfurt

Parking is limited and expensive in Frankfurt so it’s best to avoid driving in the city whenever possible. Local transportation is served by RMV and the Deutsch Bahn. Each single trip ticket within Frankfurt costs 2,80 Euros and a short-trip ticket costs 1,80 Euros. Tickets are available for sale at all tram stops and train stations. If you are taking the bus, single tickets can be bought directly from the driver. The Christmas Market, however, is easily covered on foot.

To get to the Christmas Market, use train station Hauptwache or underground station Dom.

Note: This post has been submitted to the Festival Hack Blogger Challenge organised by Maximise. If you’re in need of some festival inspiration, pop over to Maximise’s Ultimate Fest Hacks!



The Screen Time Debate (among parents)

I feel compelled to write this post after reading this blog post – Why I Don’t Feel Bad About Giving My Kids Unlimited Screen Time

When I first saw the title of the article, I was like”What utter RUBBISH?“. Read it and I was right. 

The author isn’t suggesting that parents plonk their kids in front of the screens and do mindless surfing, random swiping of fingers on the iPad or watching endless cartoons. Her child has actually used screen time to pick up film editing skills. Good for her but I have so many issues with what’s in the article.

1. “…books are becoming obsolete”

There are ebooks and the mighty Kindle that reads just like a book, BUT it’s still not a book, is it? I think the Kindle is a great devices as it can contain so many books and still weigh less than 250 grams. But as a mum with a 23 month old toddler who LOVES books, I can tell you books are NOT obsolete. How is my son going to learn to flip pages, feel different textures in books or press sound panels in novelty books if I didn’t give him a single physical book to read from day one? I love seeing his face light up with joy when he gets a book as a present.


I do not agree that our kids are an “up-and-down-scroll generation”. They will only become so if we LET them be. I’ll make sure my son isn’t a tech idiot, BUT I’ll also make sure he appreciates books. 

2. “They had to complete dedicated time for exercise, hands-on creativity, reading, and chores before they could dive into their screens.”

This is actually from Narrow Back Slacker.

Ermmm… Unlimited screen time is the big reward for accomplishing other tasks?     


Photo credit: Narrow Back Slacker 

Perhaps it’s easier for me to say “no” to screen time to a 23 month old than an older child who’s meant to be better at understanding “no” since the former can’t negotiate (just cries).

Before you think that I’m the control freak mum who doesn’t allow my son screen time, you’re wrong. On an average week, Theo gets maximum an hour of screen time. We don’t actually time him. It’s just the way it is based on the activities we plan for him.

Firstly, he’s at Kita all day and by the time he gets back we just end up playing and reading together. He’s been away all day and we prefer to do something interactive with him. Even when he’s not at Kita, I make sure we read lots, play together, get outdoors and be active. We don’t use the iPad to pacify him. If we were careless to leave it lying around and he asks for it (hardly ever now), all we need to tell him is a simple “No” and he’s off to play with his toys. No struggle whatsoever (for now at least). 

I’m all for learning mandarin from watching Peppa Pig, but after an episode or two, we back to playing together using words we’ve heard (I try) from Peppa Pig.

3. “Our mothers survived without microwaves…we are doing a pretty good job of surviving as grown-ups in spite of having all those things”

This is a false equivalency

I don’t think there was ever a question about whether or not to allow children unlimited microwave time.

The above quote is from my husband. Love his great sense of humour. 

Even if I did use a microwave daily because I’m addicted to it, it has a different effect to being addicted to our PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is true that people addicted to these technologies are capable of alienating themselves from real relationships. 

 Photos credit: Life without smartphones – in pictures (The Guardian)  
   4. Comparing games available today to the Atari, Nintendo and Commodore 64s
Thousands of games are free to download today. You don’t necessarily need to use the family TV to play games these days because of handheld devices. Gamers can play on the go. Even if the kid needs to use the family TV to play his/her game, chances are Mum and Dad have a million other devices to have a good thumb workout too. The fundamental nature of gaming has changed so many over the years. The market is saturated with “pay to win” games that promise to get you addicted.   

I don’t want my child addicted to a screen and not talk to me. I don’t want to have to be reminded to log in to play a game. Tried one of these games, hate it now. 

5. “Parents judge each other if they see kids using iPads in restaurants…”

I saw many kids with iPads in restaurants in Singapore last year. Can I blame them when their parents are also drowning themselves with their own iPads and smartphones? #judging

Since when did we start bringing iPads out for meals? Devices need to be charged with electricity, not fed actual food! So I beg everyone I know to NEVER EVER EVER EVER pacify my son with your iPads or smartphones even when he’s throwing an awful tantrum in public. He’s old enough to know that if he gets that favourable treatment once, he’ll play up the next time too. 

If you’re paying money for a nice meal out, how about spending some quality time chatting together instead of checking in on Facebook. 

Wondering why we limit screen time in our family?

We don’t just limit screen time for Theo. We also limit our own screen time during his awake hours.

It’s not for whatever science has said about screen time being bad for brain development of babies or that it causes bad eyesight. We have 2 simple reasons to limit screen time.

1. At around 18 months old (can’t remember exactly when), Theo would say things like “Papa/Mama, phone back!” When he couldn’t articulate, he would snatch it and throw it away and get upset. 

He was competing with technology for our attention. That’s when I realised that I can’t be reading messages that weren’t meant directly for me in some Whatsapp groups. I left those groups. It might have offended some people but I’m not sorry that my son’s wellbeing comes first. I even did an experiment to see how he would react if I took my phone up to look at it. Whenever I did that, he’ll try different ways to get my attention. 

2. At around 19/20 months old, we noticed for a week that he would throw a proper tantrum if we said he couldn’t watch something on the iPad or TV. I don’t believe it has anything to do with naughty twos. Even if it does, there’s no reason why a toddler should cry over an iPad when he has so many toys and activities to entertain him. 

The whole trying desperately to get our attention and throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get the iPad made us decide to make some drastic changes. We immediately stopped leaving devices around within his reach. We stopped using our devices in front of him unless we had a message from family. We stopped casual surfing. After a couple of days, he stopped asking. The funny thing is after a couple of months, he’s not enticed by our devices even when he sees them. The iPads are just objects Papa and Mama leave on the table or sofa and Theo knows he only gets to use them IF we let him. However, he has so much energy in him that I purposely organise activities that require him to be active and that fill our day that we don’t actually have much time left to do anything on our iPads with Theo. 

Am I worried that my son will be too afraid to use technology when he grows up? Not a single bit. I’m confident that he can swipe tablets and smartphones. I just think that at such a young tender age, there’s so much to explore (see, touch, smell, taste and hear) in the real world that he’s not going to miss out in life for not watching the latest cartoon episodes or playing a game on the tablet. 

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


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