Don’t be so alarmed…

An interesting article I read the other day-

Institute of Public Affairs: A history of scientific alarms

As a new mother I am particularly vulnerable to scientific alarms e.g, “Vaccinations increases risk of SIDS!” (the number of things I could potentially freak out about are too many to list). It is very easy to make me worry about some possible harm I might be exposing my baby to. I am tempted to take all ‘scientific alarms’ seriously (regardless of truth and actual risk), in an attempt to avoid unpleasant feelings of anxiety and guilt. This article was a helpful and reassuring reminder that it’s okay to react with skepticism in the face of alarmist claims.

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Random favourite blog finds

1. Unclutterer

I love this blog. It has given me much needed inspiration and motivation to work harder at uncluttering the various chaos zones in our house.

2. At home with Montessouri: 5 things…

From what I have read, the Montessouri approach seems to make a lot of sense when it comes to babies and toddlers. This blog has some lovely ideas “5 things…” to use with babies at the age of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 months which will be very useful for us.

3. Edible Garden: Baked garlic potato wedges

This is easily THE best method I have discovered for baked potato wedges. It does take a bit more time, but if you carefully follow all the steps, you will be rewarded. Since finding this recipe I have made these wedges twice. Very very yummy (and not unhealthy, either).



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A 5 month old’s favourite books

Reading books with Richard has been a bit of a trial. He much preferred to eat the pictures (okay, so who wouldn’t at 3 months), and would usually fuss and complain after a couple of pages. Not wanting to engender a lifelong hatred of reading, I was quick to stop and let him do other things. Yes, I was a bit discouraged, imagining that he was going to grow into a child who preferred to tear around rather than sit quietly reflecting over his picture books (ok, yes, you can laugh at me). As it turns out, I was just being a little impatient with my poor darling. At the ripe old age of 5 months now, he has decided that books are fun! Not only does he sit through whole books, but I am certain he can indicate his preferences. I started holding in front of his line of vision two objects, a toy and a book. He would look at both, then reach for one (which I would then give him, if it was the toy, or read to him, if it was the book). Then I started holding out two books, and, sure enough, he reaches for the one he likes. Hubby was a bit incredulous, but I showed him, and although still skeptical he admits it does look like Richard is telling me what he wants. Once he is mobile, I’m sure Richard will tear around the house like any other little boy, but at least I know we can look forward to some quieter moments together over books.

So, what are his picks?

1. Lamaze discovery farm 

Technically, I don’t class this as a “book”. It’s more of book-toy. We can read it together, but I also let him chew it. Richard is allowed to chew his toys. I do NOT let him chew his books. Yes, this was frustrating for us, but now he seems to have learnt to look and touch the pages of books, rather than try stuffing them in his mouth. This is perhaps why his ‘discovery farm’ has become such a favourite. It is a multi-sensory extravaganza. He can look, touch, crinkle, hear the bell, taste, and yes, even smell his farm (after all the drool and a bit of puke that has soaked into the pages, ewwww). Initially I was at a bit of a loss as to how to “read” it to him, since each page only has the words of animal noises, and saying, “Here’s the cow, the cow goes moo moo!!”, got a bit boring after a while. Now I sing “Old MacDonald” as I turn the pages, and this makes it a lot more exciting. The only complaint I have is the little tag that says Surface wash only. This, I think, is a bit impractical given that it becomes SOAKED in drool and puke and I long to throw it in the machine.

2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? 

If there was one book he tolerated before the age of 5 months, this was it. Now, Richard seems to really enjoy it. I think it’s the big simple pictures against the white background. Awesome book.

3. That’s not my puppy…

Big simple pictures he can touch. This has the thickest most solid pages of any board book I’ve ever seen, so if I had to let him chew a board book, this would be it.

4. Hello Baby!

This would have to be my favourite. I love the beautiful illustrations and the story is funny and clever. I particularly enjoy reading the pages as silly as I can. My favourite is the crocodile page when I get to say ‘silent and scary’ in a very scary, low voice…

Are you a warthog, hilarious and hairy? Perhaps you’re a crocodile, silent and scary. Are you a zebra, sipping a drink? Perhaps you’re an owl, with a wicked wink. NO? Then who are you baby? Wait, let me guess- Are you my treasure? The answer is…Yes!

I think Richard likes this one, again, for the big illustrations against a plain white background.

5. The very hungry caterpillar

Thanks again, Eric Carle. Beautiful coloured pictures against a white background. This seems to be a feature in the books Richard likes at the moment.

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Song for babies ‘Thank-you God for the rain that falls’

Thank-you God for the rain that falls, the rain that falls, the rain that falls. Thank-you God for the rain that falls, that makes our plants grow.

The other day I was sitting outside with Richard watching the rain pour down during the afternoon shower. This simple song came to me. I like it because you can make it go on, and on, and on, for as long as you can think of things to say ‘Thank-you God’ for. You just substitute ‘rain that falls’ with other words to fit the context. The last line is usually harder to come up with- if I’m stuck I just repeat the main word, like this: “Thank-you God for the beans that grow, the beans that grow, the beans that grow. Thank-you God for the beans that grow, the beans, beans, beans.”

View a pdf of the tune Thank-you God for the rain that falls.

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Woman vs Jungle

What began as an annoying beany weed infesting the heliconias in front of our place has turned into a monstrous tangled canopy over the entire garden. It now threatens to cover everything in sight with its tendrils. I even found it climbing into the gutter. This, dear reader, is what happens when you ignore a weed in the tropics during the wet.

Armed with my professional gardening gloves (thanks Dad) steel capped boots (who knows what could be lurking under there?) and old fabric scissors (I really need to visit that hardware store) I approached the mass. I could almost hear the vine sneering at me, “oh come on, is that all you got? where’s daddy’s hedge trimmer now, huh?”. Fueled by an ancient instinct to tame the wilderness for the sake of my offspring, I went to work on a seemingly impossible task.

Two hours later there is still an almost overwhelming amount to go. Enough that if I don’t keep going the sneaky bean thing is surely going to win. It really won’t take that much work, just a bit of persistence ’till those roots be found and dug up. The hardest part was beginning the battle.


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Sweet and Sour Chicken

Delicious. Simple. Cheap. What more could you want from a recipe? The sauce is made from such humble ingredients it is hard to believe how yummy it turns out. My husband of Chinese heritage says it’s good enough to cook for his parents. This says a lot (very few Chinese-style meals I make get this tick as the in-laws have very traditional tastes). Sweet and Sour Chicken is a Westernised version of a Chinese dish, Sweet and Sour Pork. In this meal the pork is usually battered and deep-fried before being covered with sauce. A couple of times I tried doing the frying thing, but for the amount of effort the result certainly didn’t pay off. This chicken recipe involves no fussing with batters and hot oil, and definitely no crying.

Take two carrots, slice them up thinly. Cut one onion into small wedges. Fry them in a saucepan with a little water (use oil if you like, but it’s not necessary) until partly soft.





Mix half a cup of white vinegar, half a cup of sugar, two tablespoons of tomato sauce and one tablespoon of soy sauce. Pour over the carrot and onion.




Add one tin of pineapple pieces plus the juice. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from saucepan.




Grate two tablespoons of ginger. Fry in saucepan with a little oil until fragrant. Add 300-500 grams of chopped chicken breast.





When chicken is cooked, add the sauce back into the pan. Mix two tablespoons of cornflour with a little water to form a paste. Add to the sweet and sour chicken and heat until it thickens.

Serve with rice. Voila!

Here is the list of ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • tin of pineapple + juice
  • 300-500g chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • cornflour to thicken

Makes around 3-4 serves.

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Not much blogging this week due partly to the exciting parcel that finally arrived

After Shem brought the box home from the post office, and after a suitable amount of ripping and tearing, he heard me squealing and reading aloud to an imaginary small child (he was in the laundry giving Richard a bath).

At the moment, I think the thrill is mostly mine. Richard does look at the pages, but it’s hard to tell how much he is enjoying it. This week a lot of drooling and hand sucking has been going on, so he’s more likely concerned about itchy gums than some wonderful new books. Sigh.

But, not to worry, I’ve certainly been enjoying myself tremendously.

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