My Dishwasher

I love cooking. I just hate cleaning up afterwards. I used to pride myself in being able to keep the kitchen in a spotless condition, and to always keep the sink empty of dirty plates or cutlery. With Little J around, however, I had started to cut myself some slack and dishes are sometimes left in the sink for a few hours being they’re being tended to. I still don’t like the sight of dirty plates around but what’s a girl to do? During dinner, thankfully Saucer would be around to help with washing up. But I don’t know if it’s the same with all guys, I always felt that he wasn’t thorough enough in cleaning. I know he’s being kind and helpful around but maybe he can’t help it if his cleaning standards are not up to mine. Therefore, my best friend in this case is the dishwasher.

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My dishwasher

When we moved in to our new place last year, we were surprised to find that the previous owner did not remove the dishwasher from our kitchen. It looked pretty new and clean, definitely didn’t look like a broken dishwasher, so I was more than happy to welcome this addition to our kitchen. I always thought that using a dishwasher would waste more water and electricity, especially when there’s just the 2 of us around. But I was surprised to find out that you can save energy by just loading a dishwasher more than half full. Think of it like a washing machine, surely it is more energy efficient to be using the machine than to hand wash if you have a load of laundry to do?

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Wine glasses with wine stains and finger prints

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Wine stains

One of the things that Saucer doesn’t clean very well is wine glasses. I guess it’s due to the fragile nature of the wine glass that he doesn’t dare to spend too much time washing it, in case he breaks it. So most of the time, he would just rinse it with water and let it dry. This, of course, is not enough especially if it is used for drinking red wine. Over time, the wine stains would accumulate and cause the wine glass to have a reddish stain at the bottom. Since I was going to use the dishwasher, I decided to load it with all our wine glasses for a good rinse.

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Finish products

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Inside the dishwasher

If you live in Australia, you would most certainly have heard of the brand Finish. In fact, Finish is so well-known in the dishwashing category that it is synonymous to Tupperware being the plastic container brand. I was sent some Finish products to try out the other day, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to really test if the product is worth its weight. So one night after dinner, I decided to load the dishwasher with all the dirty cookware, pot, plates, cutlery and wine glasses that were stained. I used a tablet of the Finish Powerball together with the Finish Protector that would give additional shine to glassware.

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Finish Powerball

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Finish Powerball dishwashing tablet

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Just place it in the dishwasher compartment

Using the Finish Powerball was so easy. Each tablet was ready to use, just pop it in the dishwasher compartment without any mess. The Finish Protector looked like a diamond, and was supposed to give extra shine especially to glassware. According to the packet, it would also last up to 50 washes! Using this was easy too – just clip it on the bottom rack of the dishwasher as recommended on the pack.

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Finish Protector

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Clip it on the bottom rack

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Dishwasher fully loaded

Finally, my dishwasher was fully loaded and ready to go. Pressed the button to start and I went on performing my motherly duties – aka feeding Little J and coaxing him to sleep at night. Having the extra time from not having to do the dishes also meant I could play with him a little longer before bed time. Win-win situation. :)

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Fresh from the dishwasher

The next morning, I opened the dishwasher to a clean rack of plates, bowls and glasses. It might have been psychology but the plates were spotless and super shiny. The wine glasses were free of stains too, impressive! I was very happy with the results, and how sparkling clean everything looked! :)

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Shiny wine glasses

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Spotless wine glass

In fact, just out of curiosity, I compared the cutlery that was cleaned with the dishwasher to a hand washed one – it was obvious how the hand washed cutlery still had water spots and streaks on them, while the one from the dishwasher was flawless. I know it’s just a small detail but if you have good and expensive silverware, you wouldn’t want their shine to be compromised, would you?

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Top – dishwasher, bottom – hand wash

I guess this experiment just shows how handy a dishwasher is and how Finish products have proven their worth. If there is one downside to using a dishwasher, it is probably the long turnaround time to complete the washing (more than an hour). So, if I have less than half the dishwasher load to do, it would still be more efficient doing it manually. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to start the dishwasher – having guests over for dinner would also be a breeze!

Little J’s Latest Obsession

Is it December already? My, how time flies! I can still remember vividly my experience of giving birth to Little J in July, and now it has been more than 4 months already! As expected, with a baby around, our outings became less, which means less food posts. You must be thinking, that should give way to more recipe posts instead, since I’d be cooking most meals? Well, cooking has been a quick-fix affair – pasta, chicken rice, oven-baked dishes, anything that requires minimal cooking time/supervision gets my vote. I can’t tell you the many times that I would be preparing the raw ingredients to cook when Little J would choose to scream for my attention. Then, I would be darting to and fro the kitchen trying to keep him entertained for the next few minutes so that I could finish my cutting/marinating/cooking/washing. Really, if you want to learn multitasking, take care of a baby. LOL. Which explains why there would be less recipe posts as well, since my dishes are mostly a combination of what is available in the fridge.

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Little J at 4 months

When I scroll through my phone, I notice that more than 90% of my pictures are now filled with Little J (used to be food). This means it only makes sense that my blog posts would be focusing more on my baby, for now at least. Here are some of the pictures that I took when he just turned 4 months old and was in a good mood. I absolutely love the quiet afternoons spent with him, just the 2 of us, at home. Thinking about this reminds me that I would be starting work soon and would miss all the times that we’d be spending together. :(

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When he’s in a good mood, I always try to put him on his tummy to strengthen his neck and back muscles. Being a curious boy also helps in photography because he kept staring at my camera, perhaps wondering what it was. :)

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Tummy time!

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Love his rosy cheeks!

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For the past month or so, however, he developed a new obsession – sucking on his little fingers. I’m telling you, every waking moment that he has when he is not distracted, he would be gnawing on his fingers or sometimes, fist. When he first started, I thought it was because he’s hungry so I fed him. But immediately after feeding, he would place his fingers in his mouth again. So I am now convinced that it’s nothing to do with hunger and he just loves chewing his fingers! Obviously I can’t monitor him 24/7, so all I can do is to make sure that his hands are always clean whenever I place him on his play mat or when he goes to sleep.

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Suck suck

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Nom nom nom

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My latest obsession

I hope this is just a developmental phase instead of a habit that sticks!

6 Foods to Lower Your Risk for Cancer

As such a melting pot of cultural and ethnic diversity, Malaysia is able to enjoy an unmatched choice of unique and delicious cuisines. And us Malaysians do take our food seriously. Mamak culture and the search for the best specialty hawker stalls are both taken very seriously by a huge percentage of the population, regardless of their background.

That being said, these habits we have created for ourselves may not be the best thing for our health. The incidence of death from diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity is constantly on the rise, while cancer is now believed to affect 90,000-100,000 people in Malaysia alone. It is estimated that one in every four Malaysians will develop cancer by the age of 75 and is considered the third leading cause of death in the country, contributed by not only to factors such as smoking but to being overweight and a poor diet.

However, by making small changes in our diet, it is possible to avoid having to go through such trouble. By simply adding these ‘superfoods’ to your diet, you can lower your risk for cancer and go about leading a healthier life!

Garlic

A flavour synonymous with Asian cuisine, Garlic has amassed a bad rep for the smelly breath it gives you after meal. However, the same compounds which are responsible for that smell may be able to stop the formation of carcinogens (cancer causing substances) in your body and kill cancer cells. On top of that, it can reduce the risk for colon cancer and battle the microbe responsible for stomach ulcers, which have the potential to develop into stomach cancer.

To ensure the most benefit from this superfood just let it sit for 15-20 minutes after being peeled and chopped, before cooking them. This will activate enzymes in garlics and release the sulphur-containing compounds.

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Image courtesy of foodsubs.com

Carrots

Your parents lied. While they can improve eye health, carrots don’t actually improve your eyesight. They do however contain beta-carotene, which may protect your cell’s membranes from toxins and slow cancer cell growth. They also provide vitamins and phytochemicals (chemicals found in plants to protect it from bacteria, viruses or fungi) which can protect you from an assortment of cancers.

For best flavor and benefit, stem or boil the carrots whole first before cutting them and serving them however you had planned to.

Spinach

Mum was right when she told you to eat your spinach. While it won’t give you raging forearms like Popeye, spinach is rich in Carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin. They’ve been shown to remove damaging free-radicals (natural by-products of the body’s chemical reactions) that can lead to cancer. It also contains folate which helps repair DNA and produces new cells, as well as fibre which is good for, well, you know.

It’s best eaten raw or lightly cooked, so a spinach salad or a bowl of steamed spinach is best if you’re looking to benefit from this anti-cancer hero.

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Image courtesy of simplyrecipes.com

Broccoli

Although often seen as a punishment by children around the world, Broccoli remains a top recommended super food by physicians and researchers alike. It contains phytochemicals called glucosinolates which are protective enzymes, and the strongest of which is sulforaphane. Broccoli produces these like a champ, and eating it may reduce your risk for cancer by detoxifying harmful substances or as an anti-microbial agent (specifically against H. pylori).

Although a greasy cheese sauce is the preferred method for many to get these down, it’s best to steam and cook Broccoli with garlic and olive oil.

Tomatoes

“They turned as red as a tomato” is a go-to expression to show someone’s embarrassment, but there’s nothing embarrassing about this fruit. Its red color is attributed to a phytochemical called lycopene. Tests with lycopene have shown it stopping cancer cell growth, speculatively by boosting the body’s immune system and interfering with abnormal cell growth. Diets high in lycopene have pointed to reduced risks of prostate cancer.

It’s best to eat cooked or processed tomatoes, which have had all the lycopene squeezed out of their cells to be absorbed. The best part is, that means pizza and pasta is actually good for you, well at least the sauce.

Strawberries

Berries are known to be a Super food from the amount of benefits they can provide. On top of possibly slowing cancer cell growth, they can possibly protect one from memory decline and heart disease. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and Ellegic acid, which seems to accelerate enzymes that destroy carcinogens and slow tumor growth, as well as flavonoids which can suppress DNA damaging enzymes linked to lung cancer.

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Image courtesy of  tandmmag.com

”Prevention is the best medicine” as the saying goes. The process of becoming healthy can be a difficult and lifelong challenge. However, that shouldn’t stop us from taking whatever small steps we can in order to better or health, whether unby making small changes in our diet, fitness routine or lifestyle.

The insurance provider AXA Affin has recently joined with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) to support those who have suffered from cancer on their path to recovery. For every post that links to their 110 Cancer Care website by bloggers like myself, they will sponsor one day of funding for daycare usage at the NCSM Treatment Centre for a patient.

If you are interested in collaborating and helping out in this endeavor, please contact Danial @ danial.lissborg@lionandlion.com to see what you can do.

For more info, feel free to visit their site at: https://www.110cancercare.com/

*This is a guest post by Danial

Poor Service at Tomodachi

Apart from Malaysian food, I sometimes like to have Japanese food as well. Unlike Malaysia (KL in particular) where Japanese food is aplenty, most shopping malls here only have Japanese stalls in food courts, selling sushi or rolls, mainly for takeaway. There would be more choices in the city centre, but we seldom go to the city so we have to make do with whatever available around our area. A few weeks back, we happened to shop in Ikea Rhodes and spotted this Japanese restaurant near the entrance where the food court is. Since we had not had Japanese food for a long time, I suggested to Saucer to give Tomodachi a try.

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Tempura roll

The restaurant was fairly spacious with long tables and benches on one side, and a row of bar seats surrounding the kaiten belt on the other side. We opted to sit at the benches since we were more interested in the bento instead of sushi. Also, do not forget the fact that we had Little J in the pram with us anyway, so sitting at the bar would not be convenient for us. Yes, everything we do revolves around the little one now.

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Miso soup with the set

I ordered the Salmon Bento set, which came with sashimi, sushi roll, some skewers, salad, fruits and of course grilled salmon with rice. I liked the variety provided in the set, which allowed us to try a bit of everything – sushi, sashimi, salmon, you name it. I was a little intrigued by the skewers though, which was definitely something new in a Japanese place. Interestingly, they tasted very similar to cucur udang back in Malaysia! Saucer and I couldn’t figure out what they were, but we both agreed that they were delicious! I also liked that the salad was dressed with black sesame dressing, which made it so fragrant and yummy. The sashimi slices were fresh and the unagi roll I had was not bad too. The salmon was reasonably portioned and nicely grilled. In fact, after finishing the whole set, I was feeling quite full (and mind you, I eat a lot these days, I blame it on breastfeeding!), so I think the portion in total was decent but not overly large.

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Salmon Bento (~AUD$23)

Saucer chose the Unagi Bento since we had not had unagi for the longest time! I actually regretted not following suit because I thought his unagi tasted really good! Or maybe it’s just that I missed having unagi. Aside from the main course, the side dishes for both bento were the same. Each set also came with a bowl of miso soup, which was good as a starter while we waited for the bento.

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Unagi Bento (~AUD$23)

Apart from the sets, I also ordered a plate of Tempura Roll to try. They were topped with tempura crumbs, which made it a bit messy to eat. The rolls were actually quite small in size, but I guess they made it up by providing more in quantity. These were nothing to shout about and I would probably not order this again next time.

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Tempura Roll (~AUD$13)

Overall, the food here is probably slightly above average, just speaking from the point of bento. We didn’t try any of the sushi so we couldn’t vouch for that. One thing we both agreed is that the prices here are definitely on the higher side too, and perhaps we might expect more for the price paid. Also, we were not quite happy with the service of the staff there. My order of salmon bento didn’t arrive even when Saucer was already halfway through his. When I mentioned this to the waiter, he was surprised and asked me repeatedly if I was sure, as if I was trying to cheat him for an extra serving. Also, our request for water didn’t come until we repeated it 2 times to 2 different waiters. It’s no wonder this restaurant obtained a low rating from Urbanspoon, which I’m guessing is due to the service more than the food.

Tomodachi on Urbanspoon

Full Moon Celebration

It’s interesting to know that a baby’s full moon celebration is really only practiced by the Chinese customs when a baby turns one month old. Needless to say, when I talked about this tradition with my Australian colleagues, all of them were intrigued. To be honest, I am not very familiar with this tradition either but I learnt that a baby’s full moon celebration is sort of an unveiling party to present the baby to friends and relatives for the first time after he’s born. It is also held to celebrate the health of the baby, where visitors give their blessings and gifts. Little J had his full moon celebration a couple of months back, when my mom was around to help out. Since we don’t have many relatives here, we only had a mini celebration with simple home cooked dishes by my mom.

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Red eggs to symbolize fertility and harmony

On the night before the celebration, my mom prepared the pork trotter’s dish because she said that it would taste much better left overnight. It was a good call because it turned out that on the next day, there was so much to do that she just barely got everything ready in time for lunch. We only had a few relatives joining us – namely my cousin brother and his wife, my dad’s cousin and her family, plus my grandmother’s good friend, all of whom are residing in Sydney.

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Little J after he just woke up

Just before lunch, Little J woke up from his morning nap. As usual, he would expect to be fed once he’s awake. When he wasn’t fed after a while, he started getting cranky and started to protest with a cry. It was quite stressful to keep him entertained while we warmed up his milk, because this boy is not patient at all. If he wants something and he doesn’t get it, he will make it known with a big loud wail. Saucer helped by placing him in different positions to distract him, but it only worked for a while before he realized he wasn’t getting any milk yet!

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Little mister cranky

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“Where is my milk?”

Of course, once his milk was ready, he immediately gulped it down contentedly. That’s one of the reasons I found it hard to feed him with a bottle, because his wakings were sometimes unpredictable and it’s stressful to listen to him cry while waiting for the milk to be warmed. Staying with him at home meant that I could do without bottles for now and feed him on demand, thankfully.

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Saucer feeding Little J

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Little J with his first ang pow

When my cousin and his wife arrived, they presented Little J with his first ang pow as a blessing for surviving the first month. He was obviously oblivious to the fact that he was holding the ang pow since he was busy feeding. LOL! Once he’s fed, it was time for us the adults to eat. I thank my mom for putting in so much effort to cook up a meal for all of us within the same morning. We had the traditional Pork Trotter Vinegar, Chinese Wine Chicken, Red Eggs, some vegetables and Curry Chicken.

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Full moon feast

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Pork Trotter Vinegar

I know there are many other traditional dishes that are common during full moon celebrations, such as the Ang Koo (glutinous rice cakes) and pickled ginger, but we simply did not have time to do all that. It was a one-man-show for my mom, since I was in serious sleep-deprivation which meant I couldn’t help her out. But we had a nice feast all right, and most importantly, we had the company of our relatives who were there to give their blessings to Little J.

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Simple full moon celebration

Looking back at the pictures here when Little J was just one month old, I’m amazed by how much he’s grown! I have pictures of him with the same outfit now and it’s so snug on him, compared to the one above which appeared to be big and loose. Babies really grow too fast! I will attempt to document any significant milestones of Little J here in my blog, with the hope that he would find them interesting to read when he’s older. :)

Life with A Baby

It has been more than 3 months since the life-changing morning when I gave birth to my baby boy. It was life-changing indeed, where do I even begin?? For starters, I was never prepared for a baby to be crying so much, to be feeding so often and to be sleeping so little (well, at first). I still remember the night of the delivery itself, it was around 3+am when it was all over and my baby was placed in a bassinet next to me. Saucer was lying down on a nearby chair as he was also exhausted having been up and at my beck and call.

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The boy who changed my life

At one point, the medical team left and the midwife told me to get some rest. I was still in disbelief that I had actually given birth to a baby, so it was hard to fall asleep. But soon, fatigue kicked in and I started to doze off, and that’s when it started. Baby’s second cry (the first was when he just came out) resounding in the room. Saucer went to pick him up and rocked him, which worked. Then he put the baby back in the bassinet, and within minutes the crying started again. Saucer carried him again and repeated the process until he ended up holding the baby in his arms instead because the little rascal would start wailing whenever he’s placed in the bassinet! We took turns with the holding so we could get some rest and this continued until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, our sleepless nights had already begun.

The next morning, Saucer went home to freshen up and rest while I was transferred to the maternity ward. As expected, baby was crying most of the way there in his bassinet, which was really starting to stress me out. Once we were there, a nurse taught me how to breastfeed him, which managed to settle him down. But putting him back into the bassinet had always been a tricky thing to do – gently and slowly so that he would not wake up. Throughout the first night, he woke up quite a few times crying loud and my only way to console him was to breastfeed. At one point, I fell asleep while breastfeeding him, just because I didn’t have any sleep at all for that 2 days. And I startled myself waking up worried that I had dropped the baby off my bed. Yes, it’s true and it’s not funny. I was actually looking forward to go home because at least my mom and Saucer would be around to help out.

The next few days at home were similar – baby cried, breastfed baby, held him and rocked him to sleep, put him down in his cot and he started screaming again. Repeat the above. I carried the baby so much that I eventually developed the De Quervain syndrome / mummy’s thumb. (As of now, I am wearing a thumb splint every night before I go to bed hoping it will make my thumb better.) It was beyond tiring! And having to do this the whole day and night made me a constant, moody and grumpy mother. I couldn’t even tell day from night because that’s how often the baby woke up. When she’s not cooking, my mom helped with the rocking part so that I could rest. But not for long, because he would start screaming every 2-3 hours, which, after deducting the 1 hour or so of feeding him, eating my own meal, going to toilet, shower, etc, I was really only left with 1 hour or less to rest. I used to be someone who was able to sleep easily and soundly, but ever since the baby was born, my ears became so much more sensitive. I would be startled awake with the slightest noise, and even mistook the chirping of the birds as the baby crying. I became this paranoid person who was afraid of the slightest sound. Every time I had the chance to lie down on my bed, I would force myself to sleep because I knew that the baby would be awake at any time and I simply needed to sleep while I could. But of course, the more I stressed about falling asleep, the harder it was to actually sleep. And I ended up not sleeping at all before the baby woke up again. And when I did fall asleep, I would sometimes startle myself awake thinking if I was still holding the baby and whether I had dropped him. Yes, I think how I felt was pretty close to depression, and I wasn’t shy to admit it. That’s why when my mom left after the first month, I thought I was going to be miserable on my own with no help during the day.

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Thumb splint for De Quervain syndrome

But surprisingly, having forced to be on my own actually made things easier. During the second month, I had more time to observe the baby’s signs and cries without distraction from others, and very soon I managed to get him into a working routine. It was mainly eat, play (awake time) and sleep. The sleeping part was the most challenging of all, for he still refused to sleep on his own without being carried. I just had to persevere and repeated the process of putting him down on his cot over and over again until he finally got the message. And when that happened, I couldn’t tell you how liberated I felt. It was as if I had achieved something extraordinary! Many people had suggested me to use baby sling or carrier, but I was adamant. I wanted to try to get him to sleep on his own instead of having me to work around him. And I was glad I stuck to it because now he is able to nap on his own in the cot, while I was free to do house chores/rest.

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Play time

That was just with the day time naps. The night sleeps were still horrible. Saucer was the designated baby rocker, where he would hold the baby and rock him to sleep then place him down. However, there were still times when he lost his patience, especially after repeating the process over and over again only to be met with a wailing baby whenever he’s put on the cot. It took us the longest time to be able to break the habit of holding him to sleep, but somewhere after the 3rd month, I was able to get him to sleep on the cot without rocking. Don’t get me wrong, he would still be whinging for a few minutes, but that’s much better than a resounding cry at night. And slowly but surely, I was becoming a much happier person with better mood. I stopped startling myself awake in the middle of the night now, and I am much less stressed about going to sleep. Indeed, when people say that it can only get easier, it is quite true.

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Tummy time

Little J is quite a stubborn fella. Whenever I put him on tummy time, he never stopped struggling to get up. The longer I let him on his tummy, the more angry he became and he would start yelling. That’s why I could never put him to sleep on his tummy even though I wanted to give it a try. And now, his latest obsession is sucking his fingers. Whenever he had the chance, in his fingers went to his little mouth. I’m guessing this is a sign that he could be teething soon, which is another stage that I should prepare myself for.

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His favorite hobby

As of now, it has been 3.5 months since that fateful morning when little J was brought into this world. From being a stressed and moody person, I gradually learnt to accept little J for who he is and to always stay positive. I am much happier now, and it shows in him! :) During the first couple of weeks of having him around, I used to look forward to going back to my ‘old’ life, to go back to work, to have a normal social life and to send him to child care. But after spending so much time with him now, I am dreading the day I return to work and not having him around. I have tried short trips out on my own without him and they are just miserable. I can’t imagine how it would be when I start working full-time again. I guess that’s a bridge that I will only cross when I come to it. For now, I’m happy to wake up to little J with his big smiles every morning! :)

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Little J and his smiles