Baby-led-weaning fits a busy household

I still remember 2 years ago when Nadra turned 6 months, I was on the roll in preparing purees. Each week, she was exposed to different types of purees in various flavours and colours. I even bought weaning recipe books to give me ideas on puree flavor combination! Combination which I would never have thought of myself, which turned out very tasty by the way. However with Irfan, things are a little different. 

I never really understood when people told me about loosening things up or slacking with a second child. Well, not until Irfan became mobile. Irfan is an adventurer. He loves to explore and that is the reason why he.cannot.sit.still. He needs to move, A LOT. During his early months, it was just rolling. Now, he has moved to crawling and climbing, which scare the hell out of us. One moment he was beside us, and the next he was already under the dining table. Please do not judge us by the number of bruises on his body.

 Nadra, on the other hand, demands attention. She would tell us stories, questions of many things and insist that we play with her when she plays; and if any of her request is not met, a meltdown will follow. Her meltdown are not friendly. Have you seen a kid lying on the store screaming if she did not get what she wants? Yes, that kind and with a screeching cry which the neighbours should be used to by now.


 
I never would have thought handling one energizer baby, managing a three-nager (and her tantrums) and completing house chores would be energy draining but it did! The only time I could breathe (peacefully) is when the children are asleep. By then I am exhausted myself, and all I wanted to do was to crawl in bed and sleep. The thought of peeling/cutting/steaming/mashing to stock up a week supply of puree was just not on my mind.

I have read about Baby-Led-Weaning before and I thought it was perfect! All I need to do is to prepare 1 meal or two, and that’s it! Economical, save time and energy (less preparation and washing to do!).

Faiz was at first hesitant, he was afraid Irfan would choke. However, seeing how Irfan enjoys the independence of feeding himself (and he has some free time on his hand), he was more than willing.

When Irfan just started weaning, I gave him food in chucks or sticks. For example, sticks of steamed sweet pototo and carrots, chucks of steamed potato, chucks of avocado and banana. You will be surprised how well babies can break these food with their gum. Now, just a few days away from turning 9 months and with 6 front teeth, he eats whatever Nadra eats and if we are not having spicy, he eats what we eat too.    

He loves pasta with potato soup, whole banana, crusty bread, mildly season chicken chucks and even homemade oatmeal biscuits. All the food we never thought of feeding Nadra before she turns 1! He even shared a pizza with Nadra.

One thing I love about baby-led-weaning is that it allows the child to stop when he is full. Irfan will start playing with his food when he is done. The thing not so fun though, the mess. I could live with that cause I am not the one who does cleanup after meals, Faiz does. 🙂

Getting down to potty business

Today, is week 2 of Nadra’s toilet training. There are still a few accidents but they are very rare now, unless she is too occupied in something and realised it too late. 

We have been pushing back toilet training her, not because she is not ready. Nadra was well-ready ever since she turned 30months. She knew what the potty for and knew what she needed to do, it was us. We were not ready. Our family was falling sick one after another and we were drained. We needed a break and thinking about the additional laundry and energy unsuccessful toilet training will add, we decided then was not a good time.

Until recently, when Nadra kept getting diaper rash. It was so red and she kept complaining of itch and pain. Even after applying a thick layer of Desitin, it did not subside. I was not getting co-operation from the school to change her diapers regularly and her diaper was usually soaking wet or even soiled when we fetched her, which worsen the rash further. That same weekend, we decided, toilet training should not be delayed any longer.

The first day, we were rather surprised. Nadra was able to tell us every single time she needed to use her potty. On second day, she had 2 accidents, and that was when she was too engrossed playing puzzle and I was in the kitchen. 

Me: Nadra, you have to call someone if you need to pee or poo okay? 

Nadra: Okay! (Happily playing with her puzzles with Irfan)

About 30mins later.

Nadra: Ummi, my pants are wet!

Me: Nadra! Why didn’t you call for me when you need to pee?

Nadra: I tell Adik Irfan already! 

Both Faiz and me just looked at each other, not knowing how to react. Well, she did tell someone, just that, the someone was too small to bring her to the potty.

The toilet training continued in school and Nadra has been getting the hang of it.

She finds it an achievement if she did not wet her pants that day. She would excitedly say “Today I use the potty you know? I never wet my pants. I am a good girl”. 

If we knew she could adapt and learn so fast, we would have started early. We still put her diaper on during bedtime though. On certain days, her diaper is damp but most pf the days are dry and she would rush us to her potty the moment she wakes up. 

Good job Nadra! We are proud of you. Say goodbye to diaper rash for good!

  

Never say no to Kacang Phool

I am not a big fan of Kacang Phool. Perhaps because my parents never cook it before, I did not know what it should taste like or what a good kacang phool should taste like.

When I had my first taste of Kacang Phool, I was not able to finish it. I felt sick after a few mouthful. The lack of taste and the smell of ghee puts me off. Faiz on the other hand, LOVES it so much that he claims not mindIng having it every day!  

Needless to say, when we moved into our own home, he kept asking me to cook this dish. “It is easy! Just mash the beans, add lots of ghee. You cooked harder dishes before, this, you should be able to do with your eyes close!” Ya, right Faiz. The word “ghee” already made my stomach churn.

Faiz being Faiz, bought 2 cans of Foul Medames during one of our grocery shopping trips, thinking that will somehow spark my interest to try. Well, it did. I googled some recipes off the internet, narrowing down on my potential starting point. The recipe from Just as Delish caught my eye. It has a good blend of spices which can elevate the lack of taste of the Kacang Phool I once had. It tasted okay, definitely not bland but Faiz commented that it had too much flavor that it reminded him of Sabshuka (I have yet to taste that too!) instead.

He told me to make it simple, remove the meat and add ghee. FINE.

Below is my modification to the recipe.

  
Recipe serves 4-6 adults, depending how they love this dish.

2 cans (400 g each) Foul Medames – Mashed (Blend if you like it very fine. Faiz like it a little coarse, so I just mashed it instead)

1.5 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp fennel powder

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp ghee or salted butter (I prefer mine with salted butter)

1 cup of water

 

Blend into a paste

2 large onions

6 cloves garlic

2 tbsp of chilli paste

 

Accompaniment

6 sunny side up (Faiz fries his with more ghee! Please feel free to follow, if not, olive oil will do just fine.)

2 onions – diced (we omit cause somebody hates onions, especially if it is seen on his plate)

3 green chilies- sliced

6 small limes – halved
Instructions

Add oil into a hot pan and stir fry the blended paste until fragrant.

Add in coriander powder, cumin powder and fennel powder. Stir until well mixed and very fragrant.

Pour in mashed beans, mix it with ghee (or butter) and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add about 1 cup of water (depending on the consistency, less if you prefer thick mixture) and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Season with black pepper and salt, if required. Do go easy on the salt as the bean itself is already salty.

 

To Serve

Serve the dish in a deep plate and top up with a sunny side egg, diced onion, chilies and lime.

This dish is best accompanied with slices of toasted baguette.

  

  

His verdict? Perfect. As long as he is happy. Though I am still not a fan, I know there will always be someone who will willingly gobble it down (he did say he can eat this every day).

Our attempt on Dry Fishball Noodle

We are a big fan of Dry Fishball Noodle, especially those with generous serving of minced chicken and chilli! The thing is, we have not found many of the good Halal ones and our usual spot if the craving kicks in, is Encik Tan’s at Kallang Wave Mall.

 

Yesterday, while we were grocery shopping, Faiz took a packet of Mee Pok and asked if we (or rather I) can cook Dry Fish Ball Noodle. A quick google search to check the ingredients and off we went to try something I have never tried before.

 

 

 

The recipe was adapted from Budget Pantry and with some substitution to make it more Muslim Friendly. 🙂


For the sauce,  I did not really use a measuring spoon. I just eye-balled the amount and adjust the taste accordingly.

 

The recipe below serves 2 very hungry adults and 1 toddler.

 

Ingredients Used

 3 x 70g mee pok 

12 fishballs 

A handful of beansprouts (I omit this)

Spring onions, chopped

Lettuce leaves

 

For braised mushrooms 

Do not skip these mushrooms! The flavor is out of the world.

6 dried Chinese mushrooms,  washed and soaked in 300ml hot water for 15mins, then slice at an angle

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

300ml reserved mushroom liquid

Half teaspoon dark soy sauce

 

For the minced chicken:

150g minced chicken

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

A dash of pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

 

For the sauce:

3 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce 

1 tablespoon (or more if you like heat) sambal chilli prawn (I used the Crispy Sambal Prawn from Tean’s Gourmet)

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoon stock from boiling minced chicken (see step 2)

 

Steps:

1. Prepare the mushrooms. Heat a teaspoon of oil and add the minced garlic. Fry for 2 minutes, then add in all the seasonings and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to boil and lower heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes till mushrooms are soft and liquid have dried.

 

2. Prepare the minced chicken. Marinate chicken with all seasonings for 30 minutes. Heat up a big pot,  enough to cook noodles (later) in. Bring water to boil and drop in the fishballs. Cook minced chicken in a sieve (so that they don’t get dispersed around, and easily for you to drain later). Keep moving your spoon back and forth to ensure chicken gets cooked thoroughly. Drain the meat, scoop out the fishballs, and set aside.

 

3. Prepare the sauce for noodles. In a bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients + 3 tablespoon of chicken meat stock (from step 2). Mix well. Note: I did not mix the sambal chilli prawn at this stage since I was preparing for Nadra too. I just served it at the side of our adult’s portion.

 

4. Prepare the noodles. In the same pot, place noodles and beansprouts (if you are using) in a sieve and cook. First, dunk in the sieve for 20 seconds. Quickly remove them and run under tap water. Return to pot and cook for another 30 seconds. Be sure to keep twirling the noodles with chopsticks so it will not stick.

 

5. Drain the noodles quickly and drop into prepared bowl. Mix and coat well. Arrange mushrooms, minced chicken, fishballs, lettuce, sambal chilli prawn (if you have not added) and sprinkle chopped spring onions on top. Enjoy!

 

This recipe, will sure be making its rounds again in our household, especially after how the noodle was wiped clean within minutes even by the pickiest toddler eater.

About being a mother

After my fajar prayers, I did not lie down on bed, instead, I decided to organise Irfan’s and Nadra’s wardrobe, setting aside those outgrown clothes. Today is Mother’s day, and a few thoughts went inside my half-awaken brain. 

One of it, is motherhood worth it?

Last month, I was faced with the most toughest situation I have ever encountered, Mother’s Guilt.

Lately, Nadra has been throwing tantrums, doesn’t want to bathe, doesn’t want to get ready for childcare, doesn’t want to lend Irfan her old toys which she outgrew, and it usually end up with her having a meltdown lying on the floor. I usually try to reason out with her, talk to her but at times, it just snowballed and caused even bigger meltdown, where she would start kicking and flanging her arms. I would  scold her and told her that what she was doing was not acceptable, that she was being unreasonable and naughty. I would leave her alone till she stops crying and would hug her and reason again once she calmed down.

A few weeks ago, we noticed that she started to become sensitive. She would try to hold back her tears when I send her off to school.  When I hugged her, she would start crying. Her teachers feedback that they noticed she would cry for no reason and at odd timings too. At night, when I was nursing Irfan, she would try to pry him away and told me that Irfan doesn’t like milk. She would then asked me to hold her in my lap and pat her to sleep instead. We decided to give her out fullest attention during weekend that weekend. There would be always one of us to accompany and play with her, not leaving her to play by herself. That night, before she went to bed, she said “Thank you”. I was very touched but that broke my heart. I felt like we neglected her so much.

A few weeks ago, after her evening shower, she did not want to put on her pants. She was kicking away so I just let her be, without pants. We had our dinner as per normal and she suddenly asked me for her pants, looked into my eyes and asked “I am a good girl? I am not naughty right Ummi? because I didn’t cry”. My heart was not able to take it and I cried after she was asleep.

The heartache that leads to parental dilemma and self-doubts of “Am I a good mum? Am I doing the right thing? What am I doing wrong?”

As I looked at both of my kids sleeping peacefully, I realised motherhood is not easy. However, nothing beats having pure, unconditional love from your kids and allowing your heart to be open to another little being, who can bring you so much happiness.

I need to learn to embrace imperfection, and focus on what I love being a mum, even if meant giving up the last piece of cake , cause your child loves it.

  

    

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, because it is worth it!

I for Irfan

  
During my second pregnancy, i doubted myself if I could love another child as much as Nadra. How do I divide the love, the time and attention?

Irfan was born on 24 Oct 2014. He, till today has been a rather easy baby to look after. From the first day he was born, he had no problem latching. He was able to fall asleep by himself without much help and generally a happy little baby. 

Alhamdullillah.

6 months has past and boy, his personality sure flourished. 

Like his sister, he has a strong determination. He always tries his best to accomplished what he targets, even if it ends up in frustration. He is an observer. He loves to observe intensely, with his eyes open wide. 

Though he looks grumpy, he smiles easily, especially when being talked to. Loves being carried (which babies don’t) and breaks into giggles when being cuddled. Unlike Nadra, he hates cold and wails when in contact with cold water. We still have yet to succeed in making him love to swim.

  

He looks up to Nadra very much and laughs to her antics, though at times he would also cry when he had enough of Nadra’s continuous singing of Frozen’s song. 

  

At 6 months, he is able to sit upright, reverse crawl, eat fruit chucks and has grown 2 tiny front bottom teeths. Not bad for a little guy! 

  

Switching is the hardest thing to do

We started to wean Nadra off breastmilk when she turned 16 months. Partly because we wanted her to get use to the taste of formula before starting daycare since the center can only allow formula or fresh milk (exception only for infant care). The main reason behind that was, I was not producing enough. My supply started to decline from the moment we found out about my pregnancy. We had to start supplementing her milk intake then.

Nadra was not ready to be weaned. She would spat the formula or fresh milk, especially if I was the one feeding. She would wrestled the bottle away till it was out of my grip. Milk feed was a torture for both her and me. At times, she even went on milk strike.

My lactation nurse advised to mix her milk in a ratio of 3 parts breastmilk to 1 part formula/fresh milk. She was fine with the taste but not with me feeding. Somebody else have to feed her. I slowly decreased the breastmilk portion, by weekly, till it was full formula/fresh milk. By this time too, we realised that Nadra only drank better if her milk is very warm. So fresh milk is out. Daycare does not warm up fresh milk.

The day before she started school, I tried feeding her, but again, she squirmed herself away. I was actually worried she might not drink any milk in school the following day (she did drink, finished it actually and even held the bottle herself!).

Nadra has been on full formula for 2 months now.

Yes, we finally weaned her off. It was such a bittersweet moment as I now see the importance of breastmilk.

Nadra seldom fell sick when she was breastfed. If she did, her recovery was very fast, within a day. After switching to formula, she fell sick easily and took longer time to recover. I knew breastmilk contains antibodies but I did not know how great the impact was until we switched.

My only hope is that Nadra’s immune system improves soon. Seeing how helpless she was when her flu acted up again and again, broke my heart.

I pray that Allah will give me the strength and patience to resume my breastfeeding journey when our second child is born. Insya Allah.

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All for a cookie

Nadra loves to snack, be it biscuits, granola, puffs or crackers. Especially during the journey back home after fetching her from school. She would unzip her bag and ransacked for her snack container and snacked away.

Yesterday, her snack container was empty. She proceeded to unzip my bag and asked for “alala” (granola in her language), which I already had for breakfast that morning. Seeing there were no snacks for her to munch, she kept on insisting “Nak lagi!” ( I want some more!). We kept explaining to her that there were none but we will be back soon and she can have them the first thing we reached home.

The next thing she did, shocked us speechless.

Out of nowhere,

She shrieked.
Refused to be seated.
Refused to be held and flung her hand and feet all around.
She sat on the car mat and cried hysterically while screaming “NAK LAGI!”

There were no words or song that could calm her down. Helpless, we took the nearest exit at the MCE to stop by a convenience store. Her hysteria stopped the moment we entered the store. She lead us to the cookie stand, chose Hello Panda cookie and proceeded to the cashier to pay.

We winded down the window and drove back. Nadra looked out, smiled, enjoying the breeze with her eyes closed while munching on her Hello Panda cookie quietly. It was as though no tantrum ever occurred just a few minutes ago.

This was an eye-opener. Terrible two’s, you came early.

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Who would have imagine this little girl could throw one monster tantrum in seconds, just for a cookie?

Mother’s special day

Mother’s day this year was special and different.

Having a little kid who loves new activities, involving her in mini projects is so much fun! Ok well, besides getting her hand dirty. We just realized that she disliked getting her hand dirtied. She squirmed when I dipped her hand in watercolor paint and asked to be washed immediately. I even tried leaving some spot of watercolor on her hand, and she frowned, stood up and took a wet tissue to wipe it away. We tried spot painting with her, where I scrunched up tissue papers and dip in different watercolor paints. She held the tissue by the very tip and pressed gently on the blank sheet of paper.

When this cleanliness-streak developed? Beats me.

However, if you pass her crayons, colored pencils and stickers, she will make a masterpiece out of those. Her highchair is full of crayon doodles. Faiz’s Ipad is like her new sticker book. Don’t be surprise to find a tiny sticker even in a unimaginable places.

In the printer? Checked. On a corner of bedsheet’s folds? Checked? On school snack container? In the freezer? Checked, checked!

So this year, I involved her in making mother’s day card for my mum. I did asked her to dip her hand in watercolor paint but because she was so frustrated with paint on her hand, only minimal portion of her handprint was transferred, and I had to fill those gaps in. She doodled and pasted cut-outs that I have prepared instead. My mum loved it! Who won’t?

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In school, she prepared some artwork for me too. A flower filled with patterned using sponge painting and a flower with Cadbury chocolate pasted on it. When she passed it to me, my heart swelled with pride. Knowing how she dislikes paint activity, yet producing something pretty, was meaningful and I was touched.

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This year, we did not head out for Mother’s Day dinner. We had a nice dinner at home instead so Nadra will not miss her bedtime. Furthermore, I get tired very easily now and by after Isyak, all I want to do is lie on bed. It’s only been 15 weeks and I have started experiencing body aches and exhaustion.

The day ended with Faiz giving me a shoulder massage, with Nadra fast asleep at the side. A simple celebration but memorable nevertheless.

At times, it felt almost impossible to juggle being a mom and work, but we made it through (always). I guess that is why Mother’s are special, the endless perseverance, patience and sacrifices they’ve made, something not many are willing to give.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you supermums!

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A new routine

It has been 2 weeks ever since Nadra started daycare.

For the first 3 days, we were allowed to accompany her throughout the day but we stayed till11am, latest. We were quite surprised that she did not cry and were able to adapt to her surrounding rather quickly. Her teacher constantly updated us by sending pictures of her doing her activities, with a smile on her face. We actually though we will be safe from the tears the week after, when Nadra officially started daycare.

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But…

Lo and behold, she clung onto me and cried refusing to let go. When other children walked into the center themselves, Nadra had to be carried by her teacher. It made me very sad at first, thinking if sending her to school was too much for her to handle, especially with her having to wake up and get ready very early in the morning. However, when I called to check, her teacher reassured me that she stopped crying as soon as she was in the center with other children and very well-behaved.

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Nadra is slowly starting to understand the routine, being the first to wake up when the alarm rings.

She would still make a huge fuss and cry when I send her off, but stop soon after she’s inside the center. She would have an outburst when we fetch her even though prior to that, you can see her playing away. The moment she heard her name being called, she wails, stops immediately when either one of us carries her and waves happily to her teacher goodbye. I think the outburst is her way of making us feel guilty of leaving her!

Besides the tantrums she threw every morning and evening, we could see how being in school made her more confident and creative. She can articulate more words now, and clearer. She loves to draw and shades in different colours. She no longer kicked and tossed our hands away when try to feed her through bottle. The most major improvement, she goes to bed very early, latest at 8.30pm and wakes up once at night for feed! For those who have been sleep deprived for almost 18 months, having to wake up 3 to 4 times a night, this change is a huge pat on the back. The first few days when Nadra suddenly changed her sleeping habits, I actually woke up a few times, just to check whether she was okay and breathing.

We are not expecting her tantrums to subside anytime soon, but knowing she is enjoying herself in school and how she fast she has developed ever since, it made us feel slightly better in putting her in daycare.

To many more artworks, stories, stars, hearts and hopefully lesser cries.

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