Thursday, February 1, 2018

Visiting Secondary School Open House @ Primary 5

On certain months every year, Secondary schools in Singapore will host open house for the 12 years old & their parents to visit so that they can take a peek at the school's facility, culture, environment, the CCA offered for DSA or Direct School Admission enrollment (there may be some changes next year so look out for the announcement from Ministry of Education), courses and options available after 4 years with the school.

Besides hosting open house we understand that different Secondary schools will visit Primary schools to introduce Secondary school life to the P6s with more in depth details where subjects, CCAs, programmes - Applied Learning or Learning for Life programme, etc will be covered.  We would like to leave this to the respective schools because I am sure they can provide all the necessary information to the kids.  Sure saves me the trouble of running around to gather the information (can slack must slack a bit hahaha!) but of course we still have to read up about it so that we can give advise to him when the time comes.  

Couple of few years ago I have heard friends with their then P6 or Primary 6 kids exclaimed that they should have went for Secondary school open house a year before because there are so many secondary schools and only a few days within the year to visit as many as possible.  

I took a mental note on that last year and THINK we probably should be a little bit kiasu and follow the crowd to attend as many Secondary school open house as possible this year since DinoBoy is in P5.  Months passed and guess what, I have forgotten about it till now!  Just shows how oblivious and forgetful Mum I am *opps!*  Luckily all is not lost coz some schools are hosting open house in November and we managed to go for it *phew!*

For those who are not familiar with Singapore education system you must be wondering why the kan cheongness or anxious feeling from the parents on selection of Secondary schools besides being a major exam for our kids and another phrase in their education journey.  With a few uncertain factors such as the deciding T-scores and COP or Cut Off Point, we really do not know where our kids will stand in the whole cohort of P6s in Singapore until the day they receive their PSLE result slip.  The feeling of uncertainty of the future can be really daunting especially when we cannot do anything to it till the very last minute.  The worse part is to shortlist 6 schools based on the result and submit the Secondary School List within a short time frame!  How not to have a nervous breakdown?

To settle this uneasy feeling of uncertainty, we create the "What-Ifs" scenario such as "What if I suay suay scored below 200?" - spend 5 years in either Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) lor, then "What if the Lord blessed or Guan Yin Ma or Tee Kong por-pi us and I scored over 290?" - the top schools will be fighting to have you in their school, the news media will want to interview you, your family and even your pet if you have one!  Errmm... the news media thingy most likely won't happen since the top scorer details are kept secret by MOE.

Okay okay, jokes aside.

Hence the hard working, ever so resourceful parents try to find out all about the Best/Better/Good/Average schools lest that small piece of paper throw us a curved ball, we will be well prepared to hit the ball back hard and move forward without breaking a sweat.

Regardless what news that small piece of paper brings, do remember that your child has did his or her best and you should celebrate the end of a tough 6 years journey you have walked through together and reaching the Finish Line together, side by side.
Why did we go ahead with Secondary School open house visiting?
During my time I didn't have the opportunity to go to any Secondary school open house, thinking back I wonder if they have such thing back then or not, anyway it was never a MUST or a concern to our parents who left it basically to us to decide.  I remember I "anyhow" picked 6 schools, clueless about the COP and every thing.  Of course I did not get into the top 3 choices and landed in my Secondary school, much to my Mum's dismay (Ya, she didn't think the school is a good school).  Fast forward to now, these open house are suddenly a matter that must not be taken lightly.

Whatever the reasons the P5s parents have for attending the open house, I believe every one of them has the best interest in their heart for their kids.  For us (IF we were able to attend the open house through the whole year) it is not to make a beeline to the schools that we want him to get in and make the decision for him.  Instead we went forth with one mentality and that is to just look-see look-see, this is because I think at the age of 11 and at this stage of his life, DinoBoy still does not know what lies in future for him.  To him its just going into another school to "study further", something that he dreaded since P1. He still does not know the importance of the 4 years secondary school life and that a good school or even a school that caters to his interest or preference will path a better way for his future. 

We wanted to let DinoBoy have a feel how Secondary school life will be for him 2 years later, to experience the different vibes & culture happening in both a SAP/elite school and a neighbourhood school, thus helping him in shortlisting a few schools that he feels strongly about and wish to further his 4 years Secondary education with in due time. 

Yes, the ultimate decision will come from DinoBoy.  We have groomed and raised him to be independent in his thinking and decision making, seeking us for advise when he is unsure.  So, as much as this school selection is a HUGE decision that can't be messed around, we still prefer to let him handle it.  We will of course provide advise and guidance or clear his doubts and queries on this issue but we will not interfere with his decision.  Wouldn't it be too much a risk for that?  Of course it is but we believe it is important that he feels comfortable and has a sense of connection with the school because he is going to spend most of the day, 6 days a week in that environment with his peers, gaining the necessary secondary school knowledge, supporting his interest and preparing for the future.

So, a few days before the open house date in November 2017, we short listed 3 schools to visit, 2 of them have wushu or martial arts as a niche CCA because DinoBoy has a passion for it and wishes to continue learning it, the other one is a reputable neighbourhood school.

What we did and noticed
It was interesting to see how the schools look so different the minute you stepped through the gate, it is not simply a building(s) that houses students for most part of the day as perceived from the outside any more.  The 3 schools that we visited were totally different from each other, from the school's environment, their students' behavior & attitude, the layout of the school.  You could say that we experienced culture shock 3 times all over again when we entered each school.

The schools hosted the open house with guided tour where their students will bring the parents and kids to designated spots around the school, introducing the school's history, the building, the size ("our school is one of the biggest in Singapore, it's about the size of 9 football fields." "O~kay~ so???" I thought to myself, me bad...), of course letting us know the school's achievements, the numerous trophies they won by different clubs and CCA.  After the tour you are free to roam around the school compound and visit any CCA rooms or booth or watch any CCA performance at the scheduled timing.

I let DinoBoy took the lead during the open house since this is all about him and his future, he asked the students questions if he has queries, tried his hands on a couple of things such as robotics, Chinese Calligraphy, science experience in a science lab etc.

What surprised me was that he actually sat down to play a game of Chinese Chess, double surprise that he beat the student in the game!  I knew he played Chinese Chest with DinoPapa these few years and since it was Father-Son bonding session I did not joined in nor know how well he played.  I told him that "the korkor pang zui lah~", which means that older boy probably did not put in 100% effort and gave him chance to beat him.  Trying not to make him get too big headed because the other boy supposedly to be way better than him.

Of course he watched the wushu performance too (how can we miss that!), he was wide eyed  and amazed by one of the school's wushu team performance, I think he would have jumped in to join them if there were no barriers separating them.

One of the school hang student's paintings on the wall along the corridors, these paintings are so exquisitely drawn with well presented specific themes that I think they are all talented painters or artists.  I understand later that school does not offer Arts as a course, too bad, I think many students would thrive in it.

At the end of the tour or before you leave the school, you will be required to do a feed back on your experience. We did ours or rather DinoBoy did his review using in iPads (so high tech), I have no idea what the questions are because I have no chance of even seeing it.

Our Conclusion
DinoBoy enjoyed all 3 school's open house, taking in every thing he saw and experienced, a few days later he told us firmly that he changed his mind about the Secondary school he wants to attend, he now wanted to go to one of the school we went to that day.  He hasn't visited the school he had his eye on since P3 though, so I will try to bring him to that school's open house if I can, see whether he will have any change of heart again or not.

Me?  "How come my secondary school don't have this back then?" "Why my secondary school not so cool as this?" "What! they have THIS (3D printer) now???"  These are some of the things that went through my mind through that day.  Ya I know, a bit mountain tortise right!  However, it has also broaden my mind and sight, allowing me to see how far secondary school and our education system has evolved.  They are more interactive, interesting and engaging as compared to my time.

Do I encourage Primary 5 kids to attend these open house?

Sure!  It is always better to be prepared and plan early for a new chapter in your life, to set your sights far enough so that you have a goal in near future to fight for.  A peep into the secondary school(s) your child is interested may provide more information than their pamphlets, website or that dreadful COP (the higher the marks does not mean the school culture and environment is good).  

You can revisit the school again a year later to see if you still feel the same as before or take the opportunity to visit other schools that you may have interest now.

Useful Links
If you and your child are clueless on the secondary school that he or she would like to attend, I find that the following websites helps to give an insight on the schools and helps to narrow down a handful for consideration at later date.

School Information Service - It is a website run by MOE, over here you can find all the basic information about all the schools in Singapore; primary, secondary and junior college.  You can search to find out the schools that are within certain distance from your house or based on the CCA available in the schools etc.

Secondary School Ranking (based on cut-off for 2017 intake) - Unsure of the school's COP? Click this link to find out the rank as at November 2017. There are some minor changes on the COP after the secondary 1 posting exercise but it there should not be a huge different, if you want to know the exact COP of a particular school(s), do a search on the web and you will probably get it.  Or you could wait till the school distribute the Secondary Schools handbook by MOE (or whatever they are being called) to the students sometime during the later half of the year,

Secondary School's Open House Dates
Besides the major open house exercise in November every year, the secondary schools will host their open house on individual dates too.  You can either check the school's website or join a forum or facebook group to be kept informed of the dates.

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Last but not least, primary school journey is not an easy one, PSLE should be viewed as important examination as it's a "test" to further separate the kids into different path, a start of another chapter in your kid's life.   I shall stress once again that as parents, we should stand by our kids, support them in every way we could.

And please try to set a realistic target for your kids to achieve based on their academic.  If for the past 5 years they are the above average score student please do not try to pump them with more tuition in hope to push them to be A-Star students within the next few months, I agree that it works on some kids but it also do not work on some kids.  Know your kid's ability before wasting precious time and money unnecessarily.

With so many kids suicide cases we have heard or read in the newspaper these couple of years, we really have to be mindful of our actions and words, we even have to keep our emotions in check too because kids can pick up our negative emotions like with a snap of the fingers.  Do keep an open communication channel with your kid, involve them in every decision that has to do with their study and education, listen to them when they voice out their worries or concerns, let them know that you are there for them.

Before I end off, I have a couple of things to say...

To all kids taking PSLE this year, do you best, don't let that small slip of paper beat you down!  If you did not do well, move forward and make it better in the next chapter.  Perhaps Fate seen a potential inside you that you are unaware and has planned out something for you.  

To all the parents with kids taking PSLE this year, be nervous, be unsettling, be lost but allow these negative feelings to invade your heart and mind for a short period of time.  After that, cast them out of your body, get out from that dark corner and brace yourself to face the challenges that this crucial year will throw at your way.  Fight them with your child!

All the best to 2018 PSLE Parents and Kids!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017, A Year of Thankfulness

2017 is an eventful year for The DinoFamily, it could very well be an unlucky year for us.  There weren't many bad stuffs that happened to us but they caused a catastrophe reactions that knocked the wind out of us.

One of them is the sudden turn of DinoPapa's health, we have been visiting the hospital so often that I even joked with my friends that we are having excursion to hospital that day.  

As such, 2017 is also a year of thankfulness for us, to the different group of people in our life that stayed by our side while we tackle these issues.  This post is dedicate to these people, to YOU, whom we thank our lucky star and guardian angels daily for bringing you into our life.

Thankful to Family
We do not have the habit of asking family and friends for help, choosing instead to work things out between us because we do not want to trouble others and like most Chinese, we do not like to "owe favours to others" 欠别人人情.  However, we are glad that we have supportive family members who never fail to lend us a hand, sometimes without us asking for it.

My father-in-law has been coming over to our house to buy brunch for DinoPapa and when my mother-in-law is not working she will drop by in the afternoon to ensure every thing's ok.  At least I know that some one will be checking on DinoPapa when I am away at work.

December was a tough month for us as DinoPapa has to undergo an emergency operation and he has to stay in the hospital for a few days.  My siblings asked if we would like to let them care for DinoBoy but I declined  My elder brother drove us to the hospital and later that day he whisked DinoBoy away from us without giving us a chance to turn down his offer.  DinoBoy spent the next few days at his house which was a good thing because he probably will be spending the whole day in the hospital worried about DinoPapa or being bored to death or get addicted with electronic gadgets.  All these are unhealthy to his young mind and body.

Let's face it, I am also a human being, there are only so many things that I can do or put my attention to.  Without my family I think I will be more stressed up to try to make things work in a some what orderly manner, to juggle work and family at the same time while ensuring that both DinoPapa and DinoBoy are well taken and well fed.

Thankful to Friends
Human beings are not hermits, they cannot live in isolation, they need to interact with people so as to balance their mind and soul.  Friends have such magical power, they can share big dreams with you and they are able to bring you back to the ground when you strayed.

I realized years ago that if I want to prevent myself from slipping into depression I needed to let go of my pent up frustrations, anger, helplessness, hopelessness to some one.  It wasn't an easy task for me because I cared too much on how others will see or judge me, but slowly and surely I opened up to a handful of friends whom I trusted most.  

Some days things get hard for me to get by and you bear the brunt of it, some of you suffered in silence, choosing to let me cool down after I vent off all the anger & frustration, some of you scolded me back and to "snap out of it!" (you know who you are lol), which I did and realizing that I am torturing my friends unfairly.

So those that I let into the personal part of my life, please know that I cherish you with all my heart and all of you are my support pillars, I am glad to have you to share my joy and frustrations, my ups and downs.  Love you all from the bottom of my heart!

Thankful to Bosses
I serves not one, not two but 7 bosses.  Every day I thank my lucky star that I have them as my bosses.  They deserve the Best Bosses Awards!

2 years ago when I let them know about the situation at home they were very concerned, even asked if I needed financial help which I assured them that every thing's fine.  I kept them updated on the things at home, they have been very patient and understanding since then.

We know most of the time bosses and companies do not tolerate employees who keep taking leave and being absent from work for too many times in a month, they probably will ask that employee to leave the company.  My bosses gives me one lesser thing to worry about - not losing my rice bowl, among all the stressful stuffs that I am handling all these months.  Of course being away the office so frequently means I have to buck up to maintain the same level of work expectations they require from me.

Thankful to the Doctors and Nurses
We do not have any friends whose profession is a doctor or nurse, so we visited the polyclinic for the initial check up and get referred to hospital for specialist.  We were able to get doctors who are skillful in their respective specialized area and were able to give accurate diagnose and treatment.  Thanks to them, DinoPapa's health condition was controlled at the nick of time, preventing it from turning bad or worse.  

The nurses were angels too, they are patient, caring, friendly and understanding, no more Nurse from Hell that we heard about eons ago.  Our visits to the hospital for appointments were less stressful and almost hassle free because we could always approach any nurse for help or point us to the right direction (hospital is so big with so many levels, can be a maze to some people).  During the recent hospital stay the nurses in the ward were kept informed about DinoPapa's condition and would check on him every few hours to ensure that he is ok.

So the next time you are in the hospital for what ever reason, show the nurses some respect and be friendly towards them, it does not cost you a thing but you receives much more than you expected.

Thankful to Social Media
To the 2544 "likes" in my facebook page, thank you for sticking with me.  I know I haven't been blogging as much as I should nor sharing as many stuffs as I would love to but I am so grateful that you stayed on despite that.  When I posted about the hospital visits and the operation, I received prayers and encouraging words from you, I am so touched that I teared.  I have never met 98% of you but you are my support in social media, words cannot describe the gratitude I have for all of you.  What did I do to deserve your endless support?

Through facebook, I found the Fun Hats Group, where a group of crocheters and knitters got together to make hats for cancer patients in KKH and NUH, to the orphanage in Asian regions.  This group enable me to put my crochet skills to good use, to contribute to a good cause during my spare time.  While doing the beanie or hats it also helps me to wind down after a busy day at work and sometimes it distracts me from being too stressed up during difficult times.  Because of them, I am happier and did not slip into depression as often as before.

Thankful to Me
If last year was bad, this year was worse.  I am thankful to myself for not giving it up and having faith that things will work out fine some way or other.  No one can be in my shoes to understand how hard it is and how many times I have wanted to just pack up and leave. 

I am positive that next year will be better, didn't they said once you have hit rock bottom the only way out is UP?  Well, J K Rowling took it further and I think that might be my 2018 motto.

With that, I shall end this post.  Thank you for being there for me, for us. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Keep Eczema under control with Theo10® Moisturize and Eczema cream

** WARNING - Gross Photos in this post **
My Story
While pregnancy brings joy to the whole family, it also bring changes on the Mum both emotionally and physically.  Let's talk about physical changes, these includes the pretty and beautiful ones such as nicer skin, thicker & healthier hair, expanding belly, fuller breasts, then there are the not so pleasant ones such as leg cramps, swollen feet, frequent pee breaks, stretch marks, pigmentation on the face, joint pains etc.  Of course different women experience different changes.

For me it was eczema, a very bad eczema on my left feet that has been with me since I was pregnant 12 years ago.  Initially it was a small patch and itches on some days but it got a little bit worse after I gave birth.   As years goes by it spread a little bit and got bigger, it's now has a noticeable white flaky patch on my feet that tends to draw attention from others.  Worse of all, it gets dry and itchy most of the days now, some days it is so itchy that I can't stop myself from scratching and before I knew it, the skin broke and it bleeds.  It is not a pretty sight when that happens.

I have tried various creams that did little help to ease my agony, I even tried creams with steroids but I stopped using it after a week because I didn't like putting steroids in my body even though there were some improvement on the eczema.  

Why the emphasis on natural ingredients?  Friends of mine knows that due to my health issue, I refrained from taking medicines and keep steroids as far away as possible so for me to use "steroided" creams would mean that I am in a desperate situation.  Due to this reason, I am in constant look out for natural remedies for every day ailments.  Through the years I found a couple of all natural & organic products that are my go-to solutions (if you follow my Instagram you will know which are the ones), reaching out for them without fearing of putting harmful stuffs into my body.  Now, I can add this brand into my collection!  Woohoo~

My Singapore Treasure Found
I am talking about our very own, made in Singapore brand - Theo10®.  I got to know about this brand by chance earlier this year, I was looking for some organic greens in a fair when I see this young chap standing at the booth blabbering off, trying to introduce his products to the small group of people.  This 乳臭未干 or callow looking young chap is actually the founder Theodore Khng (opps! 有眼不识or-yee-or!!!).  So, long story short, Theodore let every one did a sample try/test on his products on the spot and I could immediately feel the minty, warm feeling from Theo10® Heat (Retail Price SGD8) minutes after application.

And that is when I shamelessly asked if he is interested to work with us (hahaha!), half jokingly but he got serious and asked me tons of questions about it.  Couple of weeks later, a nice package with the full range of Theo10® products arrived at my humble house.

Theo10® Full Range of Products
  1. Theo10® Skin – Mouth Ulcers, Insect bites, Minor Cuts & Burns, Rashes & Allergies
  2. Theo10® Heat – Headache, Tired Shoulders, Muscular aches, Joint pains & Arthritis
  3. Theo10® Eczema – Eczema
  4. Theo10® Repels – Repels Mosquitoes & Ants, Moisturize skin
  5. Theo10® Moisturize – Super Hydrates & moisturize skin
My Review
I started off using Theo10® Moisturize (Retail Price SGD45) on my eczema, this ubberly moisturizing cream with a faint citrus smell that I love~   I applied generously on the patch and it got absorbed in by the skin fairly quickly, plus it does not leaves a sticky or oily residue on the skin after application.

How can it be so moisturizing?  This is because of the organic cold pressed French Jojoba oil and Thai Virgin Coconut Oil in it.  The result can be seen almost immediately as you can see from my photos below, the patch does not look as fierce nor as itchy as before and I felt so much relieved.

3 days after I diligently apply the moisturizer day & night, the broken skin had healed. the brown patches near the ankle also looks lighter and not so dry.

I continued to apply the moisturizer for the weeks though some days I missed the night application. About 1 week ago I suddenly remember that I can apply Theo10® Eczema (Retail Price SGD12) non steroid cream together with the moisturizer.  Like the moisturizer, the cream is also easily absorbed by the skin.

With these 2 creams working on my eczema for nearly 2 months, you can see from the photo below that the patch is less swollen and skin condition around it is so much better!

Do you know why? Besides the organic Jojoba and coconut oil I mentioned earlier, inside the moisturizer there are these ingredients that aids the skin repair and recovery. The certified organic essential oil such as Geranium that has antiseptic, antibacterial properties, Chamomile that soothes red, dry and irritated skin and has a calming effect on allergies, psoriasis, eczema and other dry skin conditions. Aloe vera that are well know for its wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation.

The organic Peppermint essential oil in the eczema cream gives a minty feeling that prevents the itch thus I do not have the urge to scratch and aggravate it further. Neem oil has a high level of antioxidant that helps improve the skin condition.

Word of caution : Your fingers may have the eczema cream residue, even after a few washes with soap, so be careful not to let your fingers come in contact with eyes coz the peppermint or the minty sensation will irritate or sting the hell out of you.

Below are the full list of ingredients for Theo10® Moisturize and Theo10® Eczema

Theo10® Moisturize active ingredients
  • Organic Cold pressed French Jojoba Oil 
  • Organic Cold Pressed Thai Virgin Coconut Oil 
  • Natural Glycerine 
  • Italian Chamomile Essential Oil 
  • Grapefruit Seed Essential Oil 
  • French Geranium Essential Oil 
  • Madagasar Lyang Lyang Essential Oil 
  • Valencia Sweet Orange Essential Oil 
  • Aloe Barbensis Miller (200x concentrate) 
  • Purified water 
Theo10® Eczema active Ingredients include:
  • Organic American Peppermint Essential oil
  • Organic Indian Neem seed oil
  • Italian Triple filtered Beeswax
  • New Zealand Propolis
  • No Steroids
  • Organic ingredients
  • Smells like mint honey
Suitable for:
  • 6 years old and above
  • Sensitive skin
Our Conclusion
First and foremost, eczema is triggered by our ever changing hormones and by the food we consumed. So to fully recover from eczema we really have to strike a balance in our emotional state of mind and well being of our body, finding out the food causes the flare up and avoid them like the plague, while we are doing that we need ointment and cream to ease our discomfort.

Does the product works? Well, you can see from the photos in this post that it absolutely works! After more than a decade I am happy to share that my agony has finally ended!  Best part of the find is the products are affordable  and made with only 100% natural ingredients.

Much as I wished that my eczema miraculously disappeared over night, it didn't but instead the cream helps keep it under control and improve it significantly.  And if I am able to keep my itchy fingers from scratching it on day(s) that I forgot to apply the cream, I believe the condition will be much better than the photo shown above.  If you have eczema issue, I strongly suggest that you get these 2 products to try.

Of course, like any other remedies it also takes a lot of effort to diligently apply the cream on the affect area; something I have to work harder on, and patience to wait for the the result to show in weeks or even months time. So don't be disappointed or despair when you see no great leap of improvement, there may be already some just that it is not noticeable yet.

Deals for You
Theo10® has come out with an affordable Christmas Gift set, retailing at only SGD22. The set comes in a beautiful mason jar containing x2 Theo10® Skin, x1 Theo10® Heat and x1 limited edition 30ml Theo10® Moisturize.

Great gift set for gift exchange with friends or colleagues! Grab them now before they are gone!

Disclaimer : We received Theo10® products for the purpose of reviewing and this post. No other compensation was received. All opinions are based on our usage and experience with the products. All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not use them without asking for our permission.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Eat Healthy with SuperLife Co Asian Quinoa Packs

For centuries rice has been a staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia.  I don't know about you but I love smelling steaming white rice, especially when I scope spoonfuls of braised meat sauce and drizzle all over it to eat with all the other dishes.  Rice tastes great when we cooked it in other ways too we can make them into fried rice, baked rice, risotto, casserole mmm~~ all my favourite kind of food!

However, in the recent years there is an increase of people substituting white rice with either brown rice, couscous, barley and the more popular one is Quinoa. 

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is a tiny grain (actually it is a seed of a leafy plant called Chenopodium quinoa) that is considered as complete food because it is high with protein, full of vitamins, is antioxidant, totally gluten plus it is wheat and cholesterol free.  That's not all, quinoa have other health benefits too, from aiding weight loss to lowers blood pressure, on top of tha because it has low GI or Glycaemic Index it is a beneficial food to diabetics patients as it helps to lower blood sugar.

Now, it is difficult for us to change our taste let alone a staple food in our diet, with loadful of health benefits or not.  However, I guarantee that you will love it after the first mouthful.  So, let's talk a little bit more about quinoa.

How does a quinoa look like?
Quinoa is a grain that is tiny and round with a find band around it and ending it with something that looks like a tail,  As it cooks this "tail" sort of spirals out and almost detaches itself and when it is cooked it retains a little bit of crunch thus giving it a unique texture.  When the grain is cooked it expanded to almost four times of its original volume!

Colors of the quinoa?
Quinoa basically comes in three colors; white which is the more widely available and quickest to cook, red takes a longer time to cook and black that takes the longest and keeps most of its crunchy texture.

How does quinoa taste like?
Cooked quinoa has a very distinctive nutty taste and appearance which makes them stands out from other grains.

How to prepare quinoa for cooking?
Due to the arid climate that it is grown in, quinoa seeds developed a coating of naturally-forming chemicals known as saponins to protect itself from the harsh elements. This coating leaves a bitter residue that is not easy on the palate.  Even though store bought quinoa are pre-washed with the saponins are already removed, it is still a good idea to rinse it thoroughly before cooking by placing the seeds in a strainer, and running cold water over the seeds while gently rubbing them together with your hands to remove any residue of saponins.

How to cook quinoa?
As shown in the infographic above it's 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.   You can cook the quinoa using the rice cooker, this is the less fussy way.  However if you are like me, who likes to watch my food being cooked, you can cook them over the stove too.

Start by adding water to the quinoa in a pot and bring it to boil over high heat, turn down the fire to let it simmer till all water has been absorbed, this will take probably about 10-12 minutes. When it is cooked you will notice that the quinoa becomes sort of translucent, and the detached white germs appear to be white-spiraled strands.  After it is cooked, cover the pot to let the quinoa rest for 5 -10 minutes before fluffing it, this will ensure it is softer and fluffier.

Quinoa works brilliantly with spices such as cumin, coriander and paprika, for easy flavouring add a pinch while the quinoa is cooking.

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Enough of the technical talk, let's chat about the real thing.

With the current fast paced life, everyone's looking for some quick meals to satisfy their hunger so that they can spend their time doing other more important things.  Thus you see a lot of food brands pushes out meal packs (aka processed food lah) that takes as little as a few minutes in the microwave oven for the food to be ready for consumption.  Does not matter if it does not taste fresh, it will be a bonus if it is tasty, less salty/sweet/spicy etc

BUT WHY DO YOU COMPROMISE YOUR MEALS???  Isn't eating or having a proper meal an IMPORTANT thing in your life too?  With so many health issues occurring now, shouldn't we be more conscious in the food that we are putting into our body?

Lucky for us, there are still many food companies that care about consumer's health and takes pride in ensuring the food they manufactured or sell are of top quality and does not have any harmful ingredients or chemicals in it.  One such company is SuperLife Co, a home grown company (#MadeinSingapore woohoo!), here's the proof that they care coz this is written in their website;

We wanted to take charge of our life so that we can look good and feel good sustainably through a healthy and natural mean. ~ SuperLife Co
SuperLife Co takes pride in their quinoa and are serious when searching for top graded ones, after many failed tries of the quality of the quinoa they finally found a reliable source in Peru.  Over at those farms in Peru the Chenopodium quinoa are grown organically with certified natural top soil that has been untouched by processing, pesticides and chemicals.  Superlife Co only carries quinoa that are at least 99.99% pure (indicating no toxic level) and hence their quinoa requires no rinsing.

SuperLife Co Quinoa is:
– Natural
– Organic
– Premium Grade
– Gluten-free
– Dairy-free
– Non-GMO
– Whole Grain

Screen grabbed from SuperLife website

SuperLife Co has 3 products; Asian Quinoa Packs, Plain Quinoa Sacks and 4pm Quinoa Cacao Bloc.  I will be reviewing their single serving Asian Quinoa Pack that they have generously sent to us.  The retail price for this is SGD8.90 per pack if you order 9 packs or less and its SGD4.90 for 10 packs or more.

The individual pack does not look very interesting nor appealing, definitely does not look like the photo on the package.  Well, those are for visual purpose and also as an inspirations for you to prepare the quinoa.  

Included in the packet besides the quinoa is a small tiny pinch size packet of pink salt for flavoring and a packet of ingredient.   What is amazing and I love about this is they are packed with real ingredients, you can see from the follow photo of the Mushroom Quinoa pack I am cooking in the pot, those slices of mushrooms came together with the pack.  Cool right!

Cooking of SuperLife Co Asian Quinoa Packs are very easy.  I just followed the instruction at the back of the package by adding 200ml of water to the quinoa, stir to mix them and start to cook.  It takes about 15-20mins over the stove on low fire (It was the 1st time I am cooking and I was afraid I will burnt it thus I used low fire).  

I don't know about you but I think the quinoa with the pre-packed mushrooms looks appealing too!  However, as much as I wish to chomp that down I know it will not be enough, I need some meat!   So I made a quick pan seared Cajun salmon filet to complete my dinner.  It was such a flavorful mushroom quinoa, I seriously think that I can just eat this alone.

These Asian Quinoa Packs are in such a handy dandy size that I just pop 1 into my bag to bring to my office to cook as lunch.  Yes, if you still does not know I have been cooking lunch in office for 2 years plus using my Electric Lunch Box (ELB).  Cooking quinoa with ELB is same too, 200ml with 1 pack and about 15mins later it is ready.  That afternoon I added smoked salmon to it, and viola~ I have a healthy balanced lunch!  I saved $6 of not-s-healthy lunch in Orchard area.

After reading the greatness of quinoa and how beneficial this super food is, are you ready to start your journey to a better health eating better food?  I strongly suggest that you include quinoa in your diet if you wish to go for some clean eating occasionally, like when you overeat during festive season or you had too much sinful food for a few days in a row you need to let your body "take a break".

Still hesitate to start the clean eating journey for fear that you may not like quinoa?  Fear not, if you tried a pack of the Quinoa packs and find that you don't like it, you can return the rest of the unopened packs back to them because SuperLife Co has Money Back Guarantee.  Good right?

If you decided to start the journey, here's something from us to celebrate with you!  Love us or not?  Use "superjenn17" 10% discount code for SuperLife Co products; excludes 5kg Quinoa and all promotional items such as Quinoa Starter Kit.

Disclaimer : We received SuperLife Co Asian Quinoa Pack for the purpose of this post, no other compensation were received. All opinions in this post are 100% and based on our cooking and food tasting of the quinoa packs. All photos unless otherwise credited belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not use them without seeking our permission.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Super Fun Play Book

Before the phone comes games or got smarter, before tablet were born, or even TV has got so many programs for the kids, there were other stuffs to keep the kids busy and occupy so that they do not come up to Mums and whine "I'm bored!"

One of the favourite thing that Mums of not-so-long-ago likes to give toddlers or young children are lapbooks; some know it as quiet book or busy book, whatever the name the book is to keep the little hands and fingers busy.  Keep those busy hands busy? With what?  Read on to find out more!

I received this gorgeous My Super Fun Play Book (Retail Price USD58.00) from Smart Mama, I said it is gorgeous before I even open the play book because the cute flowers, butterflies, star and cars, the vibrate color makes me feel happy just by looking at it.

This play book comes in a plastic carrier which makes bringing them around a breeze, it is lightweight so the younger children can carry the play book themselves while on road trip or plane ride. 

When I opened the book I was awed!  I can't keep my hands off it as every activities looks so interesting to play or fiddle with.  There are 12 pages to the play book and each page is exquisitely designed and made.  

This is because they are hand stitched by the underprivileged women in Philippines, the play book also goes through stringent tests and conforms to the European standards of EN 71 and ISO 8124, we can be sure that the play book is safe for the kids to play with.

My Super Fun Play Book has also won a 2017 Tillywig Brain Child Award. Check out the review here to see what the experts have to say!

What is a Tillywig Brain Child Award?
Tillywig's mission is to provide retail buyers, news media, parents, and consumers with product information and reviews of superior children's products available in today's marketplace. Read more about it here.

My Super Fun Play Book consists of several embroidered ornaments which are meticulously stitched by hand. For this reason, we are only able to produce a limited supply each week. Each book in the production process is handled with a team of passionate and dedicated craftsmen who are committed to producing quality products.
Good and durable things takes time to produce and are limited at any time thus, My Super Fun Play Book is currently out of stock till January 2018.  You still can order them as Christmas gift, just a belated one, I am sure kids will be ok with that.

Alternatively, you can also purchase the following 2 products for your kids, they are made with the same stringent standards and regulations as My Super Fun Play Book so no worry about safety issues.

My Quiet Book
My Quiet Book (Retail Price USD38.00) is a delightfully colourful fabric book with 6 activities designed to develop fine motor skills, enhance hand dexterity and encourage creativity. Each page is a three-dimensional playland containing a distinctly different yet equally engaging activity to be explored.

Detachable pieces are affixed by velcro on every page to keep young minds busy for hours of play. A pocket on the front cover of the book also allows you to insert your little one’s name!

Activities include Tell the time, Spot the shapes, Let’s dress up, Match my colours, Seasons and Abacus. It is also a must-have accessory for family travels. Surface wash only. Colours or contents may vary from those illustrated. Conforms to safety requirements of ISO 8124. Product dimensions: 20cm(l) x 31cm (h). For ages 2+

My ABC Book
Children will delight in learning their alphabet with this charming My ABC Book (Retail Price USD48.00) which allows parents to work on stimulating speech, fine motor skills and object identification. 26 beautifully hand crafted pieces corresponding to individual alphabet pockets are contained in a plush bag which also makes My ABC Book an easy travel companion.

Surface wash only. Colours or contents may vary from those illustrated. Product dimensions: 32 cm (w) x 26 cm (h). For ages 1+

Where to Purchase Smart Mama products
Shoppers in Singapore can purchase Smart Mama products from BingBling 
Shoppers in other countries can purchase Smart Mama products from their website 

Disclaimer : We received a copy of My Super Fun Book for the purpose of this post.  All opinions are 100% ours based on our review of the play book.  All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not use them without our permission.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Magic of My Name - Personalised Children's Book

Parents these days have so much choices on items to be made as keepsake for their kids so that they can document and reminisce their childhood together when they are older.

I didn't have such options when I had DinoBoy a decade ago, sure there were other options such as brush made from baby's hair, gold plated foot print to frame up etc but I wasn't interested in all those because being someone who is practical I feel those things are a little bit useless (no offend to any parents who got those for their kids), so all I have are photographs and this blog.

When The Story Tailors contacted me to do a review their book The Magic of My Name I was excited!  Like a little girl who is going to receive her new toy kind of excited!

After visiting their website, I love their idea of teaching children to value their name and really be proud of it by attaching a special meaning to each letter of the child's name and incorporate it in the story.  However, as much as I like this personalised book, it is not suitable for our Tween (ya, he proudly called himself that earlier this year.) as the suitable age range is 0 to 8 years old, but it is just a perfect gift for a friend who just welcomed their #2 boy earlier this year.

When I received the book, I fell in love with it immediately because it was such exquisitely made.  As it was for a toddler I ordered the hard cover version (you can opt for paper back too) and I was not disappointed.  The book felt sturdy with nicely bounded pages which definitely could withstand the rough handling of a toddler.

I am impressed with the quality because each page is printed on thick glossy paper, which will not easily get torn when mishandled by a younger child.  The illustration are colorful and cheerful that will appeal to the kids to keep on reading.

So the story starts one night at bedtime, the boy asked his Mum about his name, she replied that his name has a special meaning but as it is time to sleep, said she will tell him another day.  A little fairy heard the boy and came seeking the boy when Mum left the room, promising him that he will find every thing that he is looking for about his name.

Thus, the child sneaked out of his bed and followed the fairy to a secret forest so far away where he entered through a door to begin his adventure

While discovering the meaning of his beautiful name, he traveled through green valley, thick woods, vast desert, braved through deep dark wood, walked with a chatty bush through a forest, played with seals at North Pole, sat on an Ostrich who bring him across the green meadow where he met a sad Knight and helped him mend his broken sword.  Do note that there a a few stories so your story book may be different from ours.

Oh my!  What an adventure!  Our sweet little boy finally know the meaning of his name!

A name sets us apart from every one, gives us an identity and personality, it should be one of the first word that every child learn.  I find it heart warming that The Story Tailors took a step further with the personalized story, attaching a positive meaning to every letter of the name thus making the name even more unique and meaningful to each child.

However, though the website says the book is targeted for babies to 8 year olds, I think this book ill be too lengthy to be a board book for toddler.  Parents can read it to them but they may not be able to sit through the whole book but they are great to start reading routine with them.  It will be a great book for 3 years old and up kids.  I mean, who would not be excited to receive a book that tells a story with them as the main character in it?

Personalising the book is very simple, you can start doing it when you are at The Magic of My Name website, simple choose gender of the character, key in your child's name, click "Create my personalised book" and you are almost done! The next step is to choose language (choice of language is limited and Chinese is not available.) and if you like you can add special dedication for your child to be printed on the front of the book. That's it! You are done! Remember to save the changes and proceed to preview your book!

With Christmas approaching, why don't you order this personalised book as an unique special gift for your child or even nieces and nephews? 

About The Story Tailors
Founded in 2015 in Barcelona, The Story Tailors is formed by a team of professionals with wealth of experience in creating children’s cartoons. Its mission is to create stories that are both magical and moving, sparking an interest for reading and giving parents something that is both educational and entertaining for the little ones in the house.

Disclaimer : We received a copy of The Magic of My Name Personalised Children's book for the purpose of this post. All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not use it for personal use without our permission. All opinions in this post are 100%.