Cast Away

Daddy Writes: A special on “Daddy Matters”

The sound of the blades spinning was deafening, whipping the morning clouds. As the black hawk approached the drop off point at the top of the mountain, towering grass were being blown to the sides forming a circular ripple in a vast ocean of green waves. I stepped off, onto unfamiliar terrain, and waved goodbye to the other band of brothers on board who were still waiting to be heli-inserted at other locations. I was alone, slightly older than 19 and in a foreign land far away from home. At a tender young age, we were the chosen few – we were newly minted officers who had to go through a survival course that was only open to army regulars at that time. The next 10 days was spent surviving off the virgin land, constantly lamenting why we were so lucky to be deployed in an area never inhabited before by mankind. It rained constantly for 9 out of the 10 days and finding food was a rare occurrence. I lost about 11 kgs as a result.

The countless wartime drama that happened throughout my time there in the jungle would make a great “Saving Private Ryan” movie sequel. But telling that story is not the purpose of my guest blog post today. My wife had approached me to write something on her blog in conjunction with Father’s Day. Surely I can’t be writing about my favourite war stories when this blog is supposed to be about being a family man? I thought long and hard and decided to come up with a list of why I think being a dad is more difficult than surviving alone in the jungle. So here it goes.

1. Leadership – When you are alone in the jungle, you get to decide what you want to do first. Perhaps you can build an elevated A-frame shelter, set a trap, and collect dry wood and tinder for fire. If I am alone at home with my 2 boys, I would try to make sure the little baby is fed, burped and changed. I would then have some quality time with the older son at his play corner. But does it usually turn out that way? Nope. The baby would be crying and I would be carrying him around the living trying to soothe him. The older boy would be clinging on to my leg and screaming for attention at the same time. The scene, although comparable to carrying combat load in the jungle, is much louder than the solitude I get during survival training.

2. Discipline – It gets dark very early in the jungle and it is usually pitch black to the extent that you cannot see your hands even if you place it at arm’s-length from your eyes. So I would sing myself to sleep and by 7pm, I would be in dreamland. The next morning, the birds and other weird animals would wake me up by 6am. Life was pretty routine. Contrast that to my life now. You try singing to your baby and he ends up singing back to you – for hours – in the middle of the night! But I must say that his cooing is pretty melodic at times. The older son also never fails to jump onto our bed to physically peel open my eyes on weekends to say “Daddy, whatcha doin?” And those 2 precious days are the only days in the week that I am supposed to be allowed to sleep in. But so I thought.

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3. Professionalism – When you set an animal trap, whether it is for a bird or iguana, everything is done step by step, with the most natural ingredients that you can find from the jungle. Otherwise, it would not work well. When you try to set up a “Thomas the train” toy, you end up getting bits and pieces that you put together being ripped out and sometimes broken by the little boy. Then we would use the most natural ingredient that we can find at home to put it back together – masking tape.

4. Fighting Spirit – After lasting the first day of survival, you get really hungry from the second day onwards. But you persevere and complete the mission even if the stomach growls like a lion and you never give up. When feeding my older son, he would be running around trying to avoid you like a plague. But then you start roaring at him to stop and he still never gives up.

5. Ethics – During the survival training, you are told certain rules that you are supposed to abide by such as not sneaking in any food or bringing any civilian electronic devices. And we would respect the rules and comply. With the older son, we would tell him the rule was that he can play with the iPad for 15 mins before going to take a shower. When the time is up, he would ask for 5 more mins. And then 1 more min. And this conversation just goes on and on.

6. Care for Soldiers – I would often go to the river to collect water for water parade to prevent dehydration or heat stroke in the jungle. We were taught well by the army in this aspect. At the playground, I would be running after the older son trying to get him to drink a sip of water. If it is a hot afternoon, I may just get a heat stroke in the process of getting him to hydrate himself. Oh the irony!

7. Loyalty to Country – What more can I say. We have produced 2 sons to defend the nation, when the time comes. And boy is it challenging to raise them.

If you haven’t already guessed, the main points above are the 7 core values of the SAF. Yes, I know. It’s a bit cheesy to use it. But I didn’t have any original idea of my own so I decided to borrow it.

On hindsight, my NS experience, though tough when you’re going through it, seems so sweet when you remember it. And it was only 2.5 yrs of active service, and 10 yrs of reservist. Taking care of our kids is a lifetime thing. You don’t ever really ORD or ROD from it. And at times, it is really tougher than surviving alone in the jungle. Although I may not get a confidence badge at the end of the daddy course, I think I should deserve a courage badge for trying my best. And I’m sure years down the road, I will remember these experiences ever so fondly, on hindsight.

Eve’s note: Wishing my sons’ Daddy a Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for all the sacrifices; lack of sleep and sometimes “physical abuses”. You are their rocker, their plane, their stability and their HERO! I am sure it’s easier than jungle training lah… or definitely it’s more worth than that! 😛

In S.T.R.O.L.L the newly revealed 2013 Capella Cony

Sponsored Review 

Recently, Kai En attended his very first media invite. What a privilege; all thanks to the nice people at Taime – the one who owns “Lucky Baby” (Singapore home-grown brand!).

We were invited to the official soft launch of the 2013 Capella First Smart Travel System – CONY model (S230T) along with it’s new lifestyle print motifs:

Sophisticated & Elegant Fabric Motifs

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Do check out Capella Facebook Page for more information and updates.

And so off we go/s.t.r.o.l.l. for test rides!

When we had our first baby boy, we bought the every first stroller for him. Guess what – it’s a CAPELLA CONY too! That was the older model some 4 years back.

As a second time user, we are familiar with its’ key features. At 7.3Kg, it falls under the mid-weight range of strollers, though if you compare it to other brands stroller in that weight range, I would say it’s packed with lots of functionality, comfort and safety; all in.

Highlighting some of the key details of this new model. Let’s start from head to toe:

Full Canopy:

I like this hands/canopy down. When baby is sleeping, there is an option to pull down the entire canopy thus creating privacy and some form of quietness while the little one naps outside.

Another plus point – the material provides 99% UV protection!

Multi Recline:

There are 3 levels of recline and it suits the new-born to the toddler.

Reversible & Adjustable Handle

I am a mummy who feels more secured keeping an eye on my little ones especially when they are really young. It helps that the handle is reversible thus enabling facial interaction when my baby faces me. This is greatly appreciated as babies find faces most recognisable and interesting at a young age. For the older toddlers, it’s also easier to watch over them. However the front wheels does not do a 360 degree swivel; thus using it with the reserved handle do put a test to my navigating skills. Some practice will help; and if you can manage a 3-point turn when you drive a car, it’s the same technique here.

Wider Wheels & 0.3G Shock Absorber

Cue: The wheels on the pram goes round and round, round and round, all through town! This time round, it’s BIGGER & STRONGER! I can testify to it’s enhanced stability and smoothness due to the sturdier wheels. It doesn’t affect me as much but it’s good to know that there is a shock absorber in place to absorb bumps on uneven grounds.

Other little details but oh-so-useful!

One-hand quick-fold: The Cony is specially designed so that the lone mummy who travels by public transport can easily fold and unfold it with just one hand. Very critical point for a stroller I feel. With a baby in one hand and bags in another, you really can do with a fast working machine using just one hand.

Rear and front viewing windows: We can peek at the little ones from 2 angles and look they are safe and sound. A small detail in using magnetic flap closure instead of Velcro works wonder! The velcro in the old model used to startle my boy while he was napping. Now we can lift up the flap without that much of a sound. Great improvement!

Storage: There is a big basket provided at the bottom of the stroller which is helpful but try not to stuff your mountain of grocery shopping bags in there. Overloading there will cause the stroller not to close properly and affect it’s stability. I prefer to buy adhesive tape-hooks to hang items. One great change on this model is the additional pouch at the back of the canopy. Fantastic update here! I can now place some light weight items in there. 

Travel System: There is an integrated adapter to attach the Capella Classic Infant Car Seat if you would like to add it on so that travelling in and out of the car is a breeze. We were given a demonstration of it works.

5-Point Safety Harness: Safety is not compromised here. Though if I have a wish-list I would put this as one of my top wishes to enhance the design of the strap to make it even more user-friendly. Fat fingers like mine did find it a little clumsy fiddling with the strap which need to be slotted in properly before the harness can be fasten.

Overall it’s an ideal choice for a mid-weight stroller. Fuss free and yet packed with a whole lot of functions all with the end users in mind.

It will be made available at major department stores, baby specialty shops and selected online baby sites.

Special Retail Price: S$399 (Usual Price: S$539). 4 colours to choose from: Wine (I picked that!), Blue, Red and Orange.

As part of this campaign with Taime, we are going for SHAPE Stroller Fun Run in July! It’s 2.4m run (no less! *pant pant*).

Do shout and wave if you are running by. We will share more about the running experience after we survived the run!

Disclaimer: We were provided a Capella Cony stroller and will be participating in SHAPE run as part of this review. All opinions remain writer’s own.

District 10 Bar & Restaurant

Invited Review

Food; lotsa of yummy food lately.

I blame my post-pregnancy tummy on those yummy food that I simply can’t say no to! I tell myself, tomorrow – tomorrow I will go on a diet. Just not today. 😛

We were invited – spouse and kiddos in tow – to District 10 Bar & Restaurant for a food tasting of their brunch menu and introduction of a bouncy castle and coloring activities for children.

This is the “peace” before the manic jumps started in the bouncy castle. Obedient little children seated together doing some coloring. If you are having a gathering with other parents, it’s good idea to have the kids sit together for interaction and some “peer pressure” (to eat their food; drink water and engage in some quiet coloring at times)

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How can we say no to presence of kids’ distraction  attractions while the adults dine?

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How will kids not enjoy a bouncy castle?

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And one with a slide to boot!

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Mention District 10 and most will think of it as a bar for the working class after hours rather than a restaurant for families. However recently the UE Square branch introduced a brunch menu and the above activities to cater to the lazy Sunday mood. We had a chance to sample some of their new specialities:

Oven baked flat bread with hummus and olives:

On the onset; it looks more like adult food. But the kids seemed to love the flat bread as an appetizer too. As for me who enjoys hummus and bread – it’s a prefect starter.

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Muffins served with butter and jam. This photo does not do justice to the muffins I think. It’s surprising buttery (even before you spread extra butter on it) and chewy. Though it’s toasted, it retains the soft bite. You can even eat it on it’s own without any spreads.

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Pandan coconut pancake with gula melaka (coconut sugar) syrup. I understood that the chef specially came up with a local taste for these pancakes to make it uniquely Singapore. And this got to be my favourite of the day.

I love; no, adore gula melaka! Ok – not exactly that much to drink it on it’s own. I love cuisine which uses gula melaka. The pancakes are possibly a little thicker than what I would like them usually but it’s just nice to soak them up with the addictive gula melaka. I was on sugar high after this!

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District 10 Eggs Florentine: Poached Eggs on toasted muffin with sautéed spinach, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce. What’s brunch without such a dish? Slurp away with the gooey eggs! The hashbrown on the side is great for kids to share. Especially for Xi En who is a picky eater – hashbrown and fries always save the day. 🙂

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Hoegarden battered fish & chips with mint mushy peas and tartare sauce. This is always an easy kids’ option even with the absence of a kid’s menu. Don’t worry about the Hoegarden; it’s not that much to knock them out.

Fish meat is soft and not fishy but it parts away with the batter when we try to cut it up. We ended up eating the batter and fish separately. Not that big an issue to us but if you like your batter and fish to stick together in one bite; you probably need to manage the expectation there.

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There are more options on the brunch menu besides the above which we sampled. If you want a pizza to share, eggs done differently or some dessert – it’s available on the brunch menu as well. More details here with an idea on the prices too.

If you going by, do note that the weekend brunch hours are from 11am to 3pm Sat and Sun. Bouncy castle is only available on Sunday brunch. And if you can, choose the alfresco sitting area which is just next to the bouncy castle. It’s not too warm (some aircon flows there too) and it’s strategically located so you can keep an eye on the kids while you have your coffee.

I would say it’s always a keeper when we find a brunch place with activities for kids and not that crowded! Adding on to the list of family friendly restaurants. 🙂

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Special thanks to District 10 for hosting us! We had a good time!

Do check out fellow mummies’ reviews too @ Adora and Steph.

Details:

District 10 Bar & Restaurant

81 Clemenceau Avenue

#01-15/16/17 UE Square

Singapore 239917

Tel: +65 6738 4788

Fax: +65 6738 4013

Email: contact@district10.com.sg

Website: http://www.district10.com.sg/uesquare/

Disclaimer: We were invited for a complementary food and restaurant review. No monetary compensation is received. All opinions and photos are writer’s own.

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