The haze is potentially coming back so its a good time to share the haze coping strategies I’ve researched/discussed/developed.
1) Super duper air filter
A lot of air filters in the market are gimmicks and may even harm your health (in the case of the Ozone producing ones). After a lot of research I’ve settled on IQ Air (struggled a bit with the hefty price but its as cheap as it will ever be now with the huge haze orders). I’ll leave it to my competent readers to do your own research on this machine. All I’ll state here are the general principles I’ve distilled from reading tonnes of materials which are: (i) any purifier that has ozone as a purification step, do not touch with a barge pole. Ozone causes respiratory problems. purifiers that generate ions sometimes also generate ozone as a by product so be very careful, and (ii) get a purifier with a true HEPA filter.
N95s are good for short period outdoors but staying indoors with doors and windows shut, air con turned on and super duper air purifier working is best.
The inspiration came from the jungle of plants at a client’s newly renovated office. The plants were put in to get rid of the smell. We thought it was bullshit but apparently NASA thought otherwise. Most of the air filtering plants were cheap too so why not stock up on some money plant at home, or aloe vera that you can even use in desserts from time to time, or on those cuts that children tend to get all the time.
4) Home made “scrubber”
This came from my genius scientist friend who came back after years of study with his Phd to a haze filled Singapore and claiming that he smells the sulphur dioxide in the air and is dying. His solution was to create a home scrubber, which he made sound very complex but I distilled down to something you can make at home with one of those devices that swirl water around, and filling it with soak or other alkaline solution, then allowing it to neutralise with the acidic gases. I’m sure it will take very long to clear out the acidic gasses but every bit of improvement helps. Plus you’re doing your bit for the environment by reducing acid rain.
Any other bright ideas for haze management on a family level?
The last four days were actually days of intensive courses occupying all my time other than office hours for this programme that I took up last yet. I almost felt guilty of child neglect, spending perhaps less than a total 3 hours over those 4 days with Sophia. But I am still glad to be part of the Chinatown Chinese New Year 2013 Mass Reunion Dinner. 100 tables full of needy families, elderly and children included, were involved. Its so amazing to be able to spread the festive cheer to these people. Hoards of young children were crowded in the area in front of me, eagerly interacting with the performers, and this old lady even enthusiastically went on stage uninvited to sing and dance with Chen Jianbin.
Hands up mummies who love online shopping?
My hands will be first up in the air. Well, I’m not sure if I’m slow / late on this but anyway I just discovered a great online shopping site and I thought I’ll share the gospel. Its not any name that anyone hasn’t heard before, its just that I’ve never thought of shopping on its website. And its… WALMART!
So, am I slow? Does everyone already know about it or even think its bad? I usually shop on Amazon but today I was looking for this particular craft punch and Amazon was charging insane shipping prices for that particular item so I googled for the same item and found it on Walmart. After adding the same items in the respective carts, other than items that cannot be found on either site where I found closest replacements, and, in fact having one more item on Walmart than Amazon, Walmart was still cheaper. I do think Amazon still has more items so I will continue to ship on it but Walmart will now form a basis for comparison. However, Walmart ships things out in drips and drabs, the first 2 items were sent out individually and I am still awaiting the last few. There isn’t the option to group shipping. Amazon does also split things up even when the group items into as few shipping as possible option is picked so its not like there’s much of a difference.
Looks like I’ll be doing more online shopping! The daddy probably won’t approve but that’s out of my control.
I recently attended the Kim Seng PCF graduation ceremony and really enjoyed it. Principal Bunny Lo and his teachers really did a great job putting together the performance themed “Around the World”. It took real effort to put together the performances showcasing music and dances around the world and involving children of all levels even the toddler class – that’s Sophia’s age group! This may have been the first time I watched a concert put up by preschoolers and it really brings back memories of my own childhood. I remember being the youngest student chosen for a school performance when I was 3 really boosted my self esteem so I am convinced that opportunities to perform is a great thing for young children. Kudos to PCF Kim Seng for giving this opportunity to even their toddler class!
Receiving their certs
The toddlers – aren’t they adorable?
Almost broadway standards
This bunch of kind were refusing to talk to me initially. Guess what got them so excited? Why, the photo of baby Sophia at the back of my iphone which I was using to take a photo of them, of course.
And after this they were clamoring to tell me their names and hitting me on the head with the balloon sculptures given out to them, and even going so far as to tell me about their tiny teeth. How absolutely adorable.
Sophia has also consistently told me she loves babies. A baby in the house may do her some good, though I guess she can be the baby for a while more.
Other than being a mother and a lawyer I also try to be actively involved in the community. I feel it really does children a lot of good to be in touch with the community as well. I’m grateful that I stay near the Chinatown area where the Chinese Heritage is so vibrant but at the same time there is clear signs of Singapore’s unique ability to have different cultures blend together. A Muslim mosque on one street, a Hindu temple on the very next one, a Buddhist temple another couple of streets off and a Christian church diagonally across – what a sight! Within the same vicinity are also several taoist temples, an Indian-Muslim heritage centre, Chinatown heritage centre, tonnes of Chinatown heritage brands, antique shops and plenty of other colourful stuff like a tin tin shop, the best sausage stall in Singapore run by an Austrian, the oldest backlane barber, an informal flea market in the back allies, a chinese martial arts themed restaurant and lots more. A year into staying next to Chinatown and I am definitely not done exploring the place yet.
The most exciting times of the year to visit Chinatown would of course be during the 2 most important Chinese festivals celebrated in Singapore i.e. Chinese New Year (der!) and Mid Autumn Festival. As we all know, Mid Autumn Festival is coming up soon and I’m just tingling with excitement thinking about the interesting activities and events lined up. Not to mention delicious mooncakes, including my absolute favourite teochew yam paste mooncakes. Yums! Plus, for the first time ever, tickets to the opening ceremony for this year’s festivities are up for grabs to the public. I’ve never had the privilege of watching the opening ceremony performance and I hear its really exciting so I definitely am looking forward to it this year. Participation details for the contest to win tickets are on this webpage: http://chinatownfestivals.sg/contest.php
You have no idea what you are missing if you miss out on this (really easy) chance to get tickets to the opening ceremony.
Within the span of 3 days I was asked twice whether I was a student. The first time when helping out at a music concert at Nanyang JC. An older lady asked if I was a student of the school. The second time yesterday when a fellow community volunteer asked if I was still studying. In the work context looking young actually loses me credibility points but generally as a woman I still feel sort of good about looking young.
However, this childbearing thing really really takes a toll on a woman. With each pregnancy our skin completely dries out (and I wondered why my mum’s heels were all cracked and dry when I was younger with soft supple skin), sleep depravation gives us dark eye rings and wrinkles, and that very efficient parasite inside us basically just saps whatever nutrients and energy that is inside of us, leaving us with a weakened immune system etc. I have no scientific basis for saying the above, they are just my personal observations but I daresay they are universal truths.
Hence, as mothers (or preggies) we should always take good care of ourselves. Find time to exercise, eat well, moisturise, use sunblock, keep yourself surrounded by supportive friends. Somedays I can feel too drained to even eat, let alone socialise or exercise, but that is completely unhealthy. So here’s an encouragement to all mothers out there: Let us all strive to be youthful, not necessary in looks but definitely in state of mind and state of health.
I disappeared for quite some time because I was away in Chengdu attending a wedding. I could go on and on about the trip but lets make this a photolog because a picture paints a thousand words.
Preparing for boarding
I liked our hotel room. Large, clean and on an excellent location.
People, especially men, were smoking everywhere. This cab driver, for example, was smoking while driving us around, much to my displeasure.
I was amused at this hospital for cosmetic surgery. It was by far the largest and most professional looking medical institution of any sort I saw on this trip.
This is called 麦芽糖画 or sugar drawing. We have it in Singapore too but even the most elaborate designs are 2 dimentional but all the street stalls in Chengdu selling this does all these 3 dimensional pieces, which is not easy at all because the drawing is done on a marble slab with melted sugar and any 3D shaping can only be done at the precise moment when the sugar has solidified slightly but is still pliable.
One thing great about Chengdu is playgrounds for children in many malls, bookstores, fastfood joints etc. The park that locals frequent also has amusement park facilities like merry-go round and bumper cars.
Amusing and irritating at the same time – motorcyclists reckon themselve equivalent to pedastrians. Here they are waiting to cross the road.
One of the famous old restaurants 龙抄手 – highly disappointing. I’m sure its didn’t used to taste like that but now its clearly just riding on the name its predecessors built up.
A couple of old preserved streets.
The buildings and facades are allegedly preserved from the Qing Dynasty. Now its a bustling street filled with tea houses, restaurants, street food stalls and some other stores selling touristy goods.
Good to look at, not so good to eat in this particular instance. But street food from Jin Li was great, especially the “fish tofu”, which is not the frozen fish tofu we get but rather what appears to be pressed tofu sliced thinly and barbequed with a spicy and peppery seasoning. Delicious!
Lookout for part 2!
I’ve always thought children were cute and everything but to be honest I was never very good with children. I never quite knew what to say to them beyond the initial “what is your name?”, “how old are you?” But for some reason now that I have Sophia, even with kids much older than her such that my experience with Sophia is nothing to go by, somehow I have so much more to say and play with them. Take this couple of adorable children I met at the door to door meeting for instance:
I was keeping them entertained while their grandparents shared their daughter’s housing woes and they were just giggling all the way – something I never managed to do before Sophia. Looks like being a mum really changes a person.