For the past 10 months, my parents have been designing and constructing a new house and the time has finally come to pack our stuff and move in. Amal and I will also join them in this house since they have specifically made a special area for the 2 of us. It was a difficult decision to move back in with my parents but Amal seems so happy to be with them and I have to admit that I feel more relaxed going out and having a social life knowing he's home with his grandparents. I thank God every day for the parents I have :)

So this weekend we start moving big furniture in the new house but it'll take us about 1 week to really settle in and finally physically move. It's scary knowing we'll be moving to a new area, unknown to us, in a new house where we're going to have to adjust to everything. At least the lady across the street that owns the warteg seems really nice so that's a big plus...



Oh my God, I'm such a huge H&M fan and they're finally coming to Singapore!! This is gonna be such a huge trial for me to not go to Singapore every 3 months...hahahaha... :)

Their clothes are fashionable yet wearable... and price-wise, they're affordable, which is the most important factor for me! But we'll see when I get there if prices are as reasonable as elsewhere.
When I was living in Paris, my wardrobe consisted mostly of H&M (and mostly clothes on sale!). Some of my weekends would consist of going around the different H&Ms in Paris because each store had a different collection. Aaaah happy memories :)

The Singapore store will be located in Orchard Building, not far from the Singapore Visitor Center.

Visit the H&M Singapore site here.



Last week I heard a podcast on The Parenting Experiment with guest Tom Sturges, who had so many great tips for parents. He's actually written a book called "Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children".
Tom Sturges was talking on the P.E. about his work with high school students and how every Wednesday he goes to a high school and is a mentor for at-risk kids. But it's not the teaching that's important, it's the inspiring, the listening to their troubles and just being there. Amazing.
One of the rules he had that applies for teenagers is one that I personally will apply to Amal when he grows up: No Questions Asked - which is a rule that is used when your child is somewhere he/she doesn't want to be in but is too afraid to ask to be picked up because he/she knows you would get mad. Now, with this rule, they can just say: "Hey mom, "no questions asked" rule, please come and pick me up". It might be frustrating but at least your child will be safe.

Ok, so I looked him up on the internet and on his website, he has some rules that I find quite helpful and just thought I'd share with you:

Rule #1: Parking Lot Rules
Whenever you are in a parking lot, your children must stand right next to you.
Rule #3: Grow The Tree You Got
We must separate our own expectations from those of our children.
Rule #5: Once Seen, Never Unseen
Protect your children from sad sights that will stay with them forever because once seen, never unseen.
Rule #9: Make Life Promises and Keep Them
Inspire your children to believe and trust you; make life promises and keep them.
Rule #14: Yes-Not-What: (The) Leslie Bricusse Rule
Leslie Bricusse is a great songwriter ("Goldfinger" and "Candyman" among them) and one of the most polite men in the world. Whenever he hears his name called out, he always answers "Yes" or "Yes, my love..." Try this with your children, and whenever they call out to you, answer them Leslie Bricusse style and always say "Yes!"
Rule #18: (The) Five Best Times To Talk To Your Child
Best time to talk to your child: 1)Bath Time 2)Drive Time 3) Bedtime 4) Wake-up Time 5) Anytime they want.
Rule #22: When You Get Upset, Whisper
Rule #26: (The) Whisper Game
Use the "Whisper Game" to remind children that they do not need to shout to be heard.
Rule #29: Reverse Dinners
"Reverse Dinners" can break the monotony of too many healthful green vegetables and make eating fun again.
Rule #32: The Significance of a Firm Handshake
Teach your child to give a firm handshake early on.
Rule #35: Please And Thank You Races
Please and Thank You Races tell your child the importance of being polite and well-mannered at a restaurant table.
Rule #37: Angels Angels Everywhere
Tell your children that there are angels everywhere to teach your children to be patient and understanding with those who are different from them, particularly people who are enduring difficult circumstances.
Rule #42: Dog Tags
Have your child wear "Dog Tags" especially for a trip that lasts several days in a foreign city.
Rule #54: (The) Power of Forgiveness
To make a foolish mistake is what children do. Let the power of forgiveness guide your parenting.
Rule #56: Five Non-Violent Yet Very Effective Punishments
1) Silent Treatment 2) Do Not Go To Your Room 3) The Writing Punishment 4) Make Him Apologize 5) Have Your Child Run Laps
Rule #62: Squeeze My Hand As Much As It Hurts
After an injury, let your child squeeze your hand as much as it hurts for them.
Rule #63: Do Not Rush To End The Tears
When your child is in pain, just hold him in you arms and let him cry it out. There should be no rush to end the tears.

[image found on Stephmodo]



I can't believe 5 weeks have passed and tomorrow is back to school day for Amal! Though we only stayed in Jakarta during the holidays, I think we got to do many things, especially Amal who learned to swim and play the drums :)

Now that we're going back to the old "work & school" routine, I'll have to once again think of Amal's lunches every single day, which can be a real pain sometimes. So this time around, I thought I'd try to make some freezer meals and see how that turns out.

I tried 3 recipes yesterday: Shell pasta with beef bacon & zucchini, and baked chicken (one with teriyaki sauce, the other with tarragon mustard). Amal loves the shell pasta and the chicken is just really easy to eat with rice and veggies.

Shell Pasta with Beef Bacon & Zucchini

1 whole pack of shell pastas (La Fonte)
8 slices of beef bacon (from Ranch Market), sliced into small strips
1 big zucchini, cut in dices
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 pack of light cream
salt & pepper
olive oil
a handful of grated parmesan cheese

Put water in a pan and wait until it boils.
In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic until it browns a little. Add the zucchini, salt, pepper and cook for 5 minutes. In another pan, add a little bit of olive oil and cook the beef bacon strips until almost crunchy. Add the 2 ingredients together and mix. Turn the heat off.
When the water for the pasta has come to a boil, add a little bit of oil + salt and put in the shell pastas. Cook for about 10 minutes of until al dente. Strain the pasta and add to the zucchini & beef bacon mix. Put the heat back on and add the cream + grated parmesan. Once they are incorporated, turn the heat off and your pasta is ready!

Baked Chicken (Teriyaki/Tarragon Mustard Sauce)

4 Chicken Thighs + 16 chicken tulips
2 garlic clove, chopped
olive oil
salt + pepper

For Teriyaki sauce:
Take half the amount above (2 chicken thighs + 8 chicken tulips). Add 1 clove of garlic, salt & pepper + olive oil. Add the teriyaki sauce + 1 tbsp of honey. Marinate for 20-30 minutes.

For Tarragon Mustard sauce:
Take the other half amount of chicken. Add 1 clove of garlic, salt & pepper + olive oil. Add 1 tbsp of tarragon mustard. Marinate for 20-30 minutes.

While you mix the chicken with the sauces, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
After marinating the chicken, bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until the sauce has sunk into the chicken and the chicken has browned.



One more week to go before the beginning of 2nd grade for Amal and I wish I had more fun holiday stories to tell but honestly, we've just been hanging out in Jakarta for the past month. I figured as long as Amal has things to do and can spend time playing, seeing friends and being home, he won't mind not going on some out-of-town trip for the holiday :)

However, last week, we did go out on a one-day trip to Ancol with 2 of the Cooking Playdate moms, Sandri and Ranie who also have little boys. The trip was specifically to check out our accommodation for the Rockinland Festival in 2 weeks time. We're thinking of booking some rooms so during the day we can play in Ancol and at night, we enjoy the concerts!

Anyway, we had a great day walking along the beach close to the Putri Duyung cottages and found this beautiful boat (photo above). Love the colors and couldn't resist taking a pic of Amal there.... We also went to Seaworld which was a lot of fun. Amal touched some starfish and turtles and we all saw the dugong, sharks and other fishes there. Did you know that they have a glow-in-the-dark room with fish paintings? Sandri and Arka were both wearing white so I just love the photo below:



It's that time of year when I think of organizing a picnic, because Amal is on holiday and if we want to have a picnic at the Bogor Botanical Gardens, it has to be on a weekday. I've always loved picnics: eating in the outdoors, kids running around, small yummy bites to eat and refreshing drinks are just a few things that comes to mind when I think about a picnic...

Besides the food, I really think the setting is very important. For example, you have to have a really nice blanket or spread to lay on the grass to make you feel comfortable. Cushions will add a homey touch if you have some. The picnic basket is also a must (but unfortunately I don't have one so other baskets will have to do). Music with speakers can also really help the atmosphere as well as good table utensils like plastic plates, spoons, forks and glasses (I would just use IKEA's kids table set cause they're eco-friendly).

Now for the food and drinks:
Drinks have to be icy fresh! I mean, you're outdoors, especially in Indonesia, and you just have to have cold drinks! So I would prepare like a bucket or cooler filled with 5kg of ice cubes to keep the drinks fresh.
Drinks that could be a good thirst quencher would be like: lemonade, watermelon juice, pineapple and mint juice, cucumber water and of course, if it's an adults only picnic: sangria!

The food has to be really simple to make and eat! It's the holidays, you're relaxing so no use to spend hours cooking for this picnic. Anything simple will be enjoyable because the setting helps to keep you happy all the time.
For my upcoming picnic, I was thinking of maybe making some fruit kebabs with vanilla yoghurt dip and a tuna rice salad (it's a french specialty) but I'm also thinking of making a "dip" theme and making pita bread with guacamole dip & broccoli with feta dip..... so I don't know, I'll have to make up my mind soon :)

Other essential things to bring: condiments, trash bags, paper towels, napkins, bug spray and activities for your kids, like balls for example.

[Photos found on Pinterest]