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The best childhood starts with GROW

Before I became a mom, I didn’t think I’d be spending this much time planning for my kids’ meals and worrying about whether they got enough nutrition + energy for the day. I need to think about how much they’re eating, what they’re eating, and how much this all costs, because feeding 5 kids can be quite a challenge.

Truett used to be a picky eater as a baby, but he has grown up to be a very adventurous eater and I love it. I’ll be enjoying some smoked beef short ribs or kurobuta pork with miso and he’ll come up next to me like “wow that looks delicious!” and I’ll laugh because just a few years ago, I’ll try to offer him a bite of my food and he’ll scrunch up his face like I’m making him eat prison food. He’s now my designated food assistant. On weekend mornings, Tru gets up and takes breakfast orders from the smaller kids, then makes them all queue up for their orders, it’s so adorable.

Perhaps due to the extra responsibilities, Tru is constantly hungry so I need to ensure I keep him fuelled for the day. This boy eats all the time and he’s usually asking me questions like “mom, is there a snack? What are we having for dinner? FOOOODDD, MORE FOOOOOOOOOODDDDD!!” In between meals, there’s milk to save the day.

GROW School contains all-rounded nutrition with a combination of 26 vitamins and minerals, DHA, Choline, Taurine and Prebiotics to support active school-going kids. It’s great that GROW is more nutritious than regular fresh milk, and the convenient ready-to-drink packs make it super easy to bring along to school as a quick boost for the day.

Kirsten is my designated Hayley-whisperer and all round handy helper who does everything at home on top of all her school activities. On an average school day, she’s in school from 7 in the morning till about 2pm. When she’s back, she has her lunch, does her homework, packs her stuff for the next day and spends what’s left of her afternoon hanging out with her favourite baby. In her own words, “it’s exhausting!” and I fully agree. I try to make it easier by cheering her on (not particularly helpful) and making sure she’s getting all the nutrition she needs (way more helpful).

I also pack GROW ready-to-drink milk for her snack time in school, which gives her a nutrition boost to stay energetic till she gets home. Then at night, she drinks a glass of GROW School milk before bed. With GROW being certified as a Healthier Choice milk for school-going kids, I feel better knowing that she’s getting the nutrition she needs to keep up her energy levels for a looooong day in school. I’m glad I have one less thing to worry about. With GROW, she can fulfill her nutrition and energy needs for school, play, and growth.

Finn is in a bit of a transitional phase. He’s 60% big kid and wants to be exactly like Tru to do all the big kid things, but there’s still the baby part of him that I’m happy to hang on to for as long as I can.

During our trip to Iceland last December, he was so happy about having short days because it would get dark at 4.30pm and that meant plenty of time for game night. We had the most epic 3-hour monopoly sessions in the hotel lounge and there would be other guests hovering around to watch the game. There was this group of Korean ladies watching us play with such enthusiasm that I wanted to ask them to join in. Then after game night, Finn would be my baby again, asking for me to cuddle him in bed and YES PLEASE!! There’s nothing I love more than offering my cuddle services.

The baby part of him also still enjoys his milk every night. Now that he’s in Primary 1, we’ve got a deal where he takes his milk from a regular cup every alternate night, but when he gets to drift off to sleep while drinking his favourite GROW Preschool milk from his favourite sippy cup, he’s the happiest boy in the world. This makes me the happiest mom because I know it’s a great source of nutrition to help my not-so-baby keep up his energy levels for school and other activities.

I’m pleased to announce Theo is still the best eater among all the kids and I’m pretty sure he’s getting all the nutrition he needs. :) Today, he just came up to me and said, “Hey mom!! If you have anything like super yummy food, you can give it to me” and I was like “Whenever I have super yummy food, you’re the first person I think of!! But give me 20 minutes, we’ll be having lunch in just a bit” and he positively beamed before running off to play.

We try to make sure all the kids have a healthy, balanced diet, but with Theo, it’s more about cutting down on sugar and snacks since he enjoys tomatoes just as much as a pack of gummies. One of the things that is sure to put a smile on his face is GROW Preschool, which he declared to be “very delicious!!” I’m glad he’s drinking milk that is 25% lower in sugar and 25% higher in calcium than other fresh milk, making it the healthier choice.

We were in Disneyland Hong Kong with the two babies last month and as a special treat, we brought some GROW ready-to-drink packs along for Theo. These are so convenient to bring along to the theme park and Theo was super thrilled to be enjoying his milk while walking down Disneyland main street.

Baby Hayley will forever be my baby and I’m just enjoying babying her for as long as she wants me to. The big kids are back in school and I’ve got another year with this baby before she joins them in school. Part of being a mom is wanting to give the best to our kids and I’ve learnt that best does not necessarily mean the most expensive. Especially with 5 kids, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying great quality products at a fab price. Like when it comes to formula milk, I’ve learned that having more DHA in a tin doesn’t mean it’s better. What’s most important is how much DHA gets absorbed by the baby.

Studies have shown that formulas with no palm oil have better DHA absorption – clinical tests showed 6.5 times lower DHA loss through stools! So, less loss means more DHA is absorbed by your little one. No palm oil formulations also improve calcium absorption, bone mineral content and bone mineral density.

This baby drinks GROW Stage 3 milk before bed (and nap) every day and once she’s done, she will hold out her cup and ask in the sweetest voice “More milky, please??” I’ll be like “you just finished a whole cup, I think we’re done, baby” and she’ll do her “PLEASE?? SMALL TINY ONLY…” and eventually, I’ll cave and she will cheer like it’s a huge victory.

It’s great that GROW Stage 3 has a formulation with no palm oil, and it provides all-rounded nutrition including DHA for brain development, calcium for growth with strong bones and iron for immunity. A new discovery that I found is that the type of fats used in formula can affect the type and texture of stools your baby passes. So, mummies, instead of just looking out for the amount of DHA in formula, also take note of fat blends because they can help to support better absorption of DHA.

Find out more about the absorption benefits of formulas with no palm oil. Request for your free 900g tin of GROW today.

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GROW grows with my kids, offering them the all-rounded nutrition they need at each stage of their growing-up years. As an added bonus for a mom with 5 kids, GROW provides high-quality nutrition at an affordable price. This gives me the best value when it comes to nutrition compared to other fresh milk.

Get this savvy deal and apply my promo code, ‘GROW5D’ when you checkout to get a 5% off on your next purchase.

collaborations

Cleaning up and sharing some joy

Last Sunday morning, Truett, Kirsten and I had the chance to take part in something really special. We were up bright and early to help out in Project Refresh, an initiative organised by Young NTUC (YNTUC) and North East Community Development Council (CDC) to refresh the homes of low-income seniors who are living alone in Tampines. 

Since 2017, YNTUC has joined hands with North East CDC to run five Project Refresh in the North East District, making last weekend’s edition the sixth, and the largest in terms of scale, by far. Over 1,000 volunteers from unions, schools, corporate organisations, grassroots and Tampines residents came together to conduct refurbishment works in 96 household units in Tampines. These included cleaning, decluttering, painting and furniture replacement.

Many of the volunteers were students and it was really cool to see so many teenagers spending their Sunday helping to scrub dirt from the houses of these elderly. They were all cheerful and enthusiastic while really going at the stubborn grime in the kitchen, it was actually very inspiring to watch.

The big kids had previously helped out with a similar home cleaning project so they had some idea of what to expect. We have also been watching a lot of Marie Kondo (Kirsten loves it!) so we were all ready to help spark some serious joy. The kids got right down to the simpler tasks like wiping the stove and fridge and windows.

In addition to the cleaning, we were able to chat with some of these seniors who are living alone. One of the elderly ladies seemed happy to talk to the kids, asking them about their school and hobbies. She was like “Wah very good, you all can help to clean. Go home you must help your mommy and daddy clean up also” and they were like “Um, orh okay…” and I got to be all “YEAHHH I’m totally down for this!! Please continue this lovely conversation.

This spring cleaning was perfect timing with Lunar New Year right around the corner. Some of the volunteers from the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Tampines grassroots also contributed their time towards preparing hand-made Lunar New Year decorations and greeting cards to decorate 59 Chinese households. There were booths for calligraphy and origami and everyone was hard at work.

We were glad to be able to be a part of this amazing initiative. Spending a day to help someone clean up their home may not seem like a lot but if it can bring a smile to someone who’s living alone and in need of assistance, then it’s a small step that makes a difference. Also, it’s a beautiful display of the kampung spirit, and how we can connect and understand each other better.

travel

Norway with the kids (Part 2)

I’ve finally gotten around to part 2 of our Icelandic + Nordic adventure last year (read part 1 here).

Norway is a different kind of beautiful – way more chill with all the nature; it’s got more of a calming picturesque wallpaper vibe. No boiling water shooting out of the ground or scary snow storms. Even the waterfalls are gentler and you don’t feel like like a catastrophe might befall you at any moment. The sense of adventure in Iceland was fun but it was a nice change of pace in Norway.

From Reykjavík, we flew into Bergen where we spent 2 days in the prettiest little town surrounded by water and mountains and fjords.

Oh wait, remember our bus ride out to catch the northern lights in Iceland? We had the most disinterested tour guide who spent the drive out being all like “you need a lot of patience and luck to see the northern lights. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not so lucky and you have to try again for many days…” and that was that. Turns out that we didn’t get lucky and as a consolation prize on the drive back, he decided to tell us a story about Grýla, a terrible ogre who ate naughty children. We were all dozing off on the bus and we didn’t expect the story to escalate very quickly into how Grýla would round up all the badly behaved kids, put them in her sack, haul them home and cook them in her cauldron. This was the only time he came alive with excitement, and he enjoyed telling the story so much that it was almost worth the trip out. Yeahhh maybe not, but it was a hilarious story.

And guess who we saw at Reykjavík airport? Grýla!! With her cauldron and everything!

The kids had a great time hanging out in Grýla’s cauldron making like they were getting cooked for dinner. Meanwhile, the other Icelandic kids at the airport were like “these guys are nuts, we’re staying over here where it’s safe.

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Bergen is my kind of small town. I loved those 2 days walking along colourful houses by the wharf, looking at fish in an old school fish market, riding the Fløibanen funicular railway, and hanging out at Mt Fløyen, the spot where you get the best view of all of Bergen.

As far as food goes, there were more hotdogs and fish and chips to be had, but we were nearing the limit of fish and chips a person could put into one’s mouth so we had other delightful food such as burgers, nuggets and ham sandwiches. When we finally came upon a food hall with (very decent) katsudon in Oslo, the kids cried tears of joy and gave thanks for their food with more enthusiasm than they have ever done before.

In the evenings, we had crepes + mulled wine at the Christmas market, then went back to the hotel for more board games.

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Getting to Oslo from Bergen was one of the highlights of this trip. We did what was essentially the Norway in a Nutshell tour, except that instead of buying it as a package from the tour company, we purchased all the tickets separately on our own, saving about $200 in total. It is way more convenient buying it as a package but um $200 in savings for some research? I’m in.

From Bergen, we took a train ride to Voss, hopped on a bus to Gudvangen, then took a gorgeous cruise to Flam, where we spent the night before taking two more train rides to Oslo. This could have been done in one day (11 hours) but we decided to take it easy and split up the journey.

It’s actually very easy to do and I highly recommend it. I was a little nervous about missing the connections but the entire journey is customised for tourists and there’s no way of getting lost along the way. If you’re unsure, the conductors are really friendly or just follow all the other tourists and you’ll be fine.

The fjord cruise was jaw-dropping level of magnificent. It was the first time I’ve seen a fjord and it was one of those “why have I waited so long to see this?” sort of moment. It was cold and windy but the water was perfectly still and there were mountains on both sides, with small clusters of pretty houses along the edge of the water.

Norway is number 2 on the list of happiest countries in the world and as I stood on the deck of the fjord cruise with the wind in my hair, it was easy to see why. There’s a certain lightness in the air and I think if you’re looking at something so beautiful every day, the madness that life throws at you suddenly seems a little less overwhelming.

Upon arriving in Flam, we spent the rest of the day at an Airbnb overlooking the water in Aurland (about 15 minutes away). The hosts were lovely and we managed to chat a little about life in Aurland vs life in Singapore. They bike down the mountain in the summer, brew their own beer for fun, and spend most of their free time enjoying the beautiful view and fresh air. I feel like I want to be the kind of person who thrives in an environment like this but when she told me about having to drive out 2 hours to buy Christmas decorations, that was a straight up dealbreaker for me.

So that night, we had planned to head out for a quick dinner at the town centre (a very tiny town centre with 1 grocery store and a handful of diners) nearby. It was supposed to be a 20 minute walk out but by 6pm, it was already pitch dark with zero street lamps around. We brought a torch along and walked for 3 minutes before turning around and heading back because the 3G was spotty and walking for 20 minutes in complete darkness without secure internet connection seemed like a very bad idea.

There was no food delivery service or McD’s or pizza, plus we were also out of grocery supplies so the kids shared the last 2 packets of instant noodles while the husband and I shared a can of Christmas beer, a cup of Milo and half a leftover cookie. We were all too hungry to play board games so we spent the night talking about how we were dying of hunger, it was great! On hindsight…because it makes a for a memorable story. While we were actually starving, it was much less great.

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The next morning, we got back to Flam early for our train out, hoping to grab a bite at one of the cafes near the train station. Believe it or not, all the cafes were still closed so we had to continue our starving streak till we got to the next stop 2 hours later.

The Flam railway was gorgeous though, so that made up for the misery brought on by the lack of food. It’s an old school train very much like Puffing Billy in Melbourne, one of our favourite train rides. As train pulled out of the station, it started to snow, which made everyone forget about how hungry we were because snow makes everything better.

We discovered that there was a cafe on board our next train, and I will tell you that there have never been 5 people so happy to see ham croissants + hotdogs.

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We didn’t spend much time in Oslo but in the 12 hours or so that we were in Oslo, we had delicious katsudon and the second best cookies I’ve ever tasted. #1 is still Levain but while I wait for our next trip back to New York, I’ve been on the search for the next best cookie. I found it at Backstube bakery in Oslo while we were on a quick grab and go breakfast run.

The cookies were just sitting there next to the pretzels and I knew I found a winner when I saw them. It was respectably chunky, crispy around the edges and gooey in the middle with melty chocolate chips – basically perfection in a cookie. I bought one, bit into it and went back to buy 7 more.

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Instead of hanging out for a couple of days in Oslo, we drove out two hours to the mountains to do some snowboarding in Trysil.

We stayed at Radisson Blu Trysil and while the slopes aren’t as good as those in Niseko, the resort was incredible. There was a bowling alley, a playground, an arcade, several excellent restaurants, and a huge indoor pool with a wave pool, a hot tub and a rock climbing wall.

It was Finn’s first time on the snowboard and after watching Tru and Kirsten blitz down the hill, this little guy picked it up in a day.

On day 2, he was already going up on the ski lift for a black run, which might have been a little ambitious but all the other runs were closed so yolo, amirite? Look at how exhausted he was after making it down. He was like “I cannot feel my legs, I need to lie down now. You’ll have to drag me back because I’m done.

This is the face we call peng san.

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I missed the babies terribly the entire trip and I think from here on out, we’ll have to bring all 5 of them on our next adventure but it was such a treat spending time with my big kids who are growing up way too fast.

For two weeks, these big kids got my undivided attention and I got to snuggle up with them until they fell asleep every night. There isn’t much more a girl could want.