How to Toddler (A Day in A Life Blog Train)

It has been over a year since I wrote about a typical Wednesday in the Owls Well household here in Singapore as part of the “A Day in A Life” Blog train hosted by Mum in the Making.

My schedule has, of course, changed greatly since the introduction of the littlest owlet #3, Thumper. Most of what I do right now involves supervising Thumper during his wake time, and then making sure that when Thumper is taking his naps, I divide my time between J and Little E so that they each get one-on-one time with me.

It’s very difficult to describe how I organise my day now, so I’m going to let Thumper tell you what we do on a typical Wednesday in this video:

I basically rinse and repeat the above twice more for lunch/afternoon nap and dinner/bedtime.

Getting Thumper into a flexible routine was key to my sanity this past year. As a result, Thumper is a predictable baby, and will take 2 hour nap times without fail. This frees me up to spend time with J and Little E, supervising their homework and free time, as well as complete whatever housework needs to be done, including meal preparation and laundry.

Efficiency is a key feature of my life right now!

14658357_120300000553820036_1005302683_nUp next on the ‘A Day in a Life’ Blog Train is our stationmaster, Jus from Mum in the Making.

She is a stay home mum to four, who relies on crafting and chocolate to keep her sane.

I myself am very curious to see how she manages a typical daily schedule where she has to care for her tiniest infant girl and three rambunctious boys, whilst homeschooling and running a most efficient household!

Get a glimpse into her day over at Mum in the Making!

Adventures in New Zealand: Wonderful Wanaka – Clutha River/Mata-Au

Check out our post over at Owl Fly Away!

Owl Fly Away

After spending the morning at Lake Hawea and Kidds Bush, we had to bring Little E and J back home for their mid-afternoon nap.

On the way back to our apartment in Wanaka, we stopped off for a short while in the centre of town to pick up some supplies for dinner.

SONY DSC Sleepy kiddies at Lake Wanaka

Although J and Little E were sleepy little kiddies, it didn’t stop them from climbing up some of the lakeside trees!

SONY DSC Happy little J-bird

It was a good thing that we took advantage of the morning (which was cool but dry) to go walking around Lake Hawea, because it was very dull and rainy all afternoon.

The wet weather, however, didn’t stop us from exploring the Clutha River, one of the longest rivers in New Zealand.

We knew that the wind and the rain would keep the sandflies away, so we parked up…

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Preparing Kids for Change: Top 10 Books and Movies about Moving and Travel

During my growing up years, my dad went abroad for post-graduate studies and our whole family would follow him to support his education.

Although this meant that my sister and I had the awesome opportunity to travel, live and study in a different country, we also had to learn to adapt to a new environment and culture.

When my parents told me that we were going to move far away from my friends and extended family for a whole year, I went through a whole string of emotions. I was sad about leaving my friends and schoolmates behind, as well as my precious dog, but I was also very excited about embarking on a whole new adventure with my family.

I think my parents were quite relieved that both my sister and I chose to see this Big Move as a start of a new chapter in our lives, and I think that is partly due to the fact that we grew up on a steady diet of books and movies that encouraged exploration.

I’ve put together a list of books and movies that I think will really help kids who are preparing for a big change – from the littlest ones starting school to the big ones going off to college. So here’s

Owls Well’s Top 10 Books and Movies about Moving and Travel

1. Augustine by Melanie Watt (Recommended for Preschoolers)

Little Augustine the penguin moves with her family from the South Pole to the North Pole, and it isn’t easy saying goodbye to her grandparents, friends and her old room. Being a shy penguin, adjusting to her new school and making new friends is a challenge, but with the help of her colouring pencils, Augustine finds that she can still be herself even if her surroundings are different.

This is a very good book which definitely covers both the physical and emotional journey involved in moving to a new place. I also love the beautiful pictures in this book, most of which are inspired by famous paintings and artists – also a very good way to introduce kids to art!

2. Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy World (Recommended for Preschoolers)

This was one of my favourite books when I was growing up, and it has a load of ridiculously funny stories taking place around the world. I loved seeing the various animal characters dressed up in traditional ethnic costumes and learn about great landmarks from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Spanish Steps in Rome to the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

I remember being so excited to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, just because of the story about Pierre the Parisian Policeman chasing a robber all across the Paris and through a French restaurant, blowing his police whistle, “Breeeeet!”

3. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss (Recommended for Emerging Readers)

In this book, a little boy heads out and explores the world, encountering many new things – some of which are sad or scary or boring – but in general, the book takes a very positive view of being brave enough to step out of one’s comfort zone and embrace the adventure that is life and growing up.

It’s opener out there, in the wide open air

– Dr Seuss

4. Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” Series (Recommended for Confident Readers)

This is a wonderful series of chapter books for encouraging young readers, especially little girls who will love reading about Laura and her sisters as they grow up, moving from their Little House in the Big Woods to the Prairie and beyond.

In general, despite the fact that the Ingalls family appears to be constantly on the move and always facing new challenges, the fact remains that the concept of ‘home’ for Laura is not a physical place, but an emotional one. This is a good series for teaching kids to understand that as long as a family sticks together, they can make a home anywhere and weather any changes that life throws their way.

Everything from the little house was in the wagon except the beds and tables and chairs. They did not need to take these, because Pa could always make new ones.

– Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

5. Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy: Truckers, Diggers, Wings (Recommended for Confident Readers)

In this hilarious book series, a group of tiny 4 inch high Nomes who have lived for generations in a departmental store find out that their home is soon to be demolished. They embark on an epic journey to find a new home, bringing with them The Thing – a  mysterious black cube which has been the Nome tribe’s totem for as long as anyone can remember.

I remember that the main struggle that the Departmental Store Nomes had was meeting other Nomes who were from different cultures and challenging long established beliefs. The way the Nomes had to deal with drastic changes in their societal structure and family values is beautifully handled by Terry Pratchett, who writes about these issues with humour and sensitivity. A very good series to help kids keep an open mind about change!

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

― Terry Pratchett

6. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” Series (Recommended for Confident Readers)

Although I have many issues with the Harry Potter series (I still think Harry Potter is rather a jerk. The underdog Neville Longbottom is my favourite guy in this series), the fact remains that this book series is often about having the gumption to seek out adventure.

Harry Potter’s life only really begins because he’s brave enough to leave behind everything that he knows and understands about the world – exchanging a life that is safe and predictable for one that is unstable, painful, and even dangerous. However, because of his willingness to embrace change, he finds faithful new friends, a new family and a welcoming home. Definitely a good one for a kid who needs encouragement to be brave and bold!

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect

– J.K. Rowling

7. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) (Recommended for Preschoolers and above)

This is a very sweet film focussing on two sisters who have moved to a new home with their father in order to be closer to the hospital where their mother is recuperating from a chronic illness. In their new home, they make friends with all of their neighbours, including the woodland spirits from a nearby camphor tree.

I love the way the family is depicted in this film, and the sibling relationship between the sisters is well scripted. I also like the positive attitude that the two little girls have towards moving to the countryside and exploring their new surroundings.

8. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) (Recommended for Preschoolers and above)

13 year old Kiki has to complete her training as a witch by spending at least a year away from home, so she flies off on her broom with her black cat Jiji in search of a town in need of her services. She moves into the port city of Koriko and has to find a way to fit in whilst earning a living – it’s not always easy but Kiki makes it work.

What I find particularly good about this film is Kiki’s vulnerability and self-doubt which is so common to many children, especially when faced with what seems to be an insurmountable challenge. Kiki is able to learn more about herself, become more independent and take control of her own life without sacrificing her open-hearted personality or sweetness, and without anger or rebelliousness.

9. The Karate Kid (1984) (Recommended for Tweens and above)

Daniel LaRusso, a spunky teen, moves from his New Jersey home to California, and he has a very hard time fitting in until he befriends a kooky old man who teaches him the ancient art of car detailing Karate.

I mean, who doesn’t love this film? Stick with the 1984 version though.

*Mummy warning: Some swear words, juicy insults and kids beating each other up.*

Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important.

– Mr Miyagi

10. Legally Blonde (2001) (Recommended for Teens and above)

Sorority girl Elle Woods moves from California where she holds a degree in fashion merchandising to begin her postgraduate studies in Harvard Law School, in order to win back her ex-boyfriend. This very silly comedy deals mostly with a girl who appears to be out of her depth in a new environment, but manages to defy all expectations (including the expectations she had for herself).

I particularly like the way the heroine stays true to herself whilst also discovering talents that she never knew existed until she made the decision to leave her comfort zone.

*Mummy warning: Some swear words, sexual jokes and gay stereotyping.*

I’d pick the dangerous one, ’cause I’m not afraid of a challenge.

– Elle Woods

The Barn Owl Plates Food (again)

So I found this great recipe for pork and apple burger patties, and I decided to make homemade burgers for dinner as a special treat at the end of a long busy week.

After frying up the patties, I was feeling sweaty and sticky, so I headed for the shower. The Barn Owl was in charge of burger assembly – mayo on the bread buns, salad, burger patty, then sliced tomato and cheese on top, with fresh strawberries and blueberries on the side.

Here’s what he made:



Not playing with my food, honest!

Adventures in New Zealand: Wonderful Wanaka – Lake Hawea and Kidds Bush

I’m posting over at our travel blog, Owl Fly Away, today. Recounting our memorable trip to New Zealand!

Owl Fly Away

SONY DSC Beautiful Lake Hawea

After our gruelling climb up Mount Iron the previous day, we decided that we deserved a break, so after a lazy morning we headed over to the nearby Lake Hawea, just a 15 minute drive from our home base at Lake Wanaka.

Parking the El Cheapo and getting ready for walks Parking the El Cheapo and getting ready for walkies

Lake Hawea is located on the border of Mt Aspiring National Park, and lies in a glacial valley fed by the Hunter River. We parked at the Kidds Bush Reserve Campsite, which has plenty of picnic tables and is right on the shores of the lake itself.

kidds-bush-walk-lake-hawea At the start of Kidds Bush Nature Walk

The Kidds Bush Nature walk is a very easy 1km loop walk on a wide flat dirt pathway with bridges over a couple of little streams, so it’s a great family walk for all ages and abilities.

At the…

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Maternity and Nursingwear – My Top 6 Favourite Online Retailers

So last week, I talked about some tips for choosing maternity and nursing wear that you won’t hate to wear after one year (as well as some hacks for making non-specialty store clothes work for you).

Winter walking on the Elkmont trail

Nothing covers up a pregnant belly better than a large coat.

Well, here are my Top 5 favourite online stores (both local and abroad) where I got some of my most-loved outfits that I wore throughout my pregnancy and breastfeeding journey, as well as a few buyers tips!

The Owls Well Shopping Guide: Top 6 Best Online Maternity and Nursingwear Retailers

Local Retailers

1. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is a Japanese brand and their clothes are generally affordable, well-designed, and their online store has impeccable customer service. In Singapore, Uniqlo offers free delivery for orders above SGD60.

I love the Uniqlo Airism Bratop range (both the tanks and camisoles). They’re also super-smooth and designed to wick sweat away from the body, which makes them ideal to wear during pregnancy and breastfeeding days. The material stretches well and doesn’t lose its shape even after being used as nursing tanks – wore them underneath everything and just pulled down the neckline for easy access to the milk bar.

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 9.29.21 pm.png

Picture credit: Uniqlo

I also liked their Relaco 3/4 shorts for lounging around the house. These are wide leg, super soft cotton trousers with an elasticated waist which are very stretchy and comfortable. I wore these as pyjama bottoms for the duration of my pregnancy, and they never lost their elasticity!

Buyers note: Look out for the frequent sales and online exclusive offers – the Airism range frequently goes on sale for at least 20% off!

2. Mummy’s Secret


Picture Credit: Mummy’s Secret

If you like cutesy and girly Korean and Japanese fashions, and you want to stock up your wardrobe with a few basics that won’t break the bank, Mummy’s Secret is a great little online store with fast and efficient service.

I got some really cheap and cheerful cotton basics from here – leggings, shorts as well as tunic tops and casual dresses which are all a steal between SGD6-25.

Buyer’s Note: Make sure you pay attention to the sizes and the dimensions of the clothes on each page before buying because the sizes do vary. It is also worth opting for courier delivery for a flat fee of SGD$6.

3. Dote

Dote is a homegrown maternity and nursingwear label by a local fashion designer mom and is my go-to online store when I’m looking for something pretty and special.

Some of my favourite tops and dresses are from Dote, and they still come out to play even though I am no longer breastfeeding, just because they are so lovely and flattering to the figure!


Picture Credit: Dote Studio

What I particularly like about Dote is that all their maternitywear converts into nursingwear so that they can be worn post-pregnancy – and that their nursing access openings are extremely cleverly hidden in a variety of different ways.

Buyer’s Note: The clothes from Dote are a little more pricey but they are beautifully made and wash well, so keep an eye out for their frequent end of season sales and discount codes!

4. Mothers En Vogue

I do believe that Mothers En Vogue is one of the first homegrown maternity labels in Singapore and for a long time, they did corner the market with their range of fashionable maternity officewear.


Picture Credit: Mothers En Vogue

I find their designs in jersey fabric a little too clingy for my taste in general but I do like their cold weather range. If you need one or two items for travel, the Mothers En Vogue knit sweaters, tunics and long-sleeved tops are great value, especially if you pick the designs that will allow you to breastfeed discreetly. Their shorts and jeans are pretty comfortable too!

Buyer’s Note: Although the cotton jersey fabric used on most of their designs is very soft and comfortable, they do fit snugly to show off your figure and baby bump. If you prefer something less clingy, pick their ‘slouchy’ styles are more airy. The clothes are also quite pricey, but sale section also gets updated very often, so check back often!

Overseas Retailers

5. J Crew

With flat fee shipping from the US for a mere SGD14, you can really get some great bargains from the J Crew sale section, where everything is 75% off or more.


Picture Credit: J Crew

Their maternity pull-on shorts are super comfortable, wash well, and won’t hurt you with zips and buttons. I have also heard good things about their jeans (although I don’t own any myself).

Buyer’s Note: Don’t bother looking at the regular-priced clothes section unless you are prepared to splurge. The prices will make you gag.

6. Next

If you like trendy and reasonably priced European fashion, Next is where you gotta go for simple, clean designs in beautiful fabrics. They also have a very nice selection of very flattering maternity swimwear and they also stock the popular and stylish maternity brand, Mamalicious.

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 11.18.00 pm.png

Picture Credit: Next Direct

Buyer’s Note: Delivery to Singapore is free for orders about SGD50. Not all the maternity clothes are suitable for breastfeeding, so do check the description carefully.

Check out my top tips for choosing a wardrobe that will see you throughout your pregnancy to your breastfeeding days!

Maternity and Nursingwear – Top tips for choosing a new wardrobe

When I was expecting J, my first child, I ruined quite a few of my clothes, stretching them out beyond belief in my refusal to buy maternity wear.

Reasons why I did not want to buy maternity wear:

  1. Maternity wear is expensive
  2. Maternity wear is ugly
  3. I’d only be wearing them for 9 months so why bother

I had resorted to sneaking teeshirts from the Barn Owl’s drawers when he decided that Enough Was Enough and insisted that I get some new clothes.

Unfortunately, I was also suffering from terrible all-day-long sickness, and even walking around the house was making me dizzy. I could not bear to bring myself to go down to the high street to buy circus tents to wear.

Which is when I discovered the big bad world of online shopping!

I also discovered that maternity and nursing wear has changed drastically in the last decade or so, and most things are comfortable, chic and reasonably priced. I have since changed my attitude towards buying clothes during pregnancy and I highly recommend that expectant ladies invest in good quality maternity wear.

Now, this is not to say that you have to necessarily go to a specialist shop to purchase purpose-built maternity wear. You just have to know what to look out for when choosing clothes for this stage of your life. I didn’t figure this one out until I was well into my second pregnancy and had a better idea of what sort of clothes would work well in the transition from pregnancy to the postpartum state.


At the beginning of my third trimester expecting Thumper

Reasons why I recommend expectant ladies to purchase maternity and nursing wear:

  1. Pre-pregnancy clothes will stay nice and not turn into shapeless bags
  2. Husband will stop complaining about missing shirts (and shorts)
  3. The clothes will actually be worn for much, MUCH longer than 9 months, especially if one is breastfeeding and takes a longer time to regain pre-pregnancy shape
  4. The clothes are usually super comfortable and flattering to the figure which makes a big difference to your outlook on life when you’re approaching the size of a whale, hurting all over and feeling miserable about stretch marks
  5. Most maternity clothes also double up as nursing wear which makes life very easy if you decide to breastfeed or use a breast pump.

So here are my top tips to keep in mind when looking for maternity or nursing wear (as well as some hacks for making regular clothes work for you)!

Owls Well Guide to choosing Maternity and Nursingwear

1. For bottoms, look for styles with a fully elasticated panel that extends over the top of your bump. This panel can then be worn over the top of your bump, folded down midway or even scrunched up under the bump, and will stretch and shrink to accommodate the changes in size during and after your pregnancy.

I have found this style to be the most comfortable as it doesn’t slip down when you walk (or run) around or lose elasticity, so it lasts the longest. Additionally, I think looks great for after pregnancy because the elasticated panel smooths over all your wobbly bits!

Regular clothes hack #1: Yoga pants with a high waistband and soft, stretchy and breathable material would work well too – size up if you’re worried about it getting too tight and uncomfortable towards the end of your pregnancy! Look for maxi or midi-length skirts with elasticated waists, plenty of pleats and gathers for loads of room and to make sure that hemlines stay decent in the front as your belly burgeons.

2. For tops and tees, try to find styles that will last you through those nursing days. This can either be combination maternity-to-nursingwear tops or have any of the following features:

  • Buttons that go all the way up the front (at at least mid way)
  • Wrap tops
  • Loose fitting or flowing tops, or oversized, boxed-shaped tees
  • Trapeze or swing tops that are narrow on top and loose at the hips
  • Styles with pleats, ruching, gathers, shirring and smocking (basically anything that has extra hidden fabric with a little ‘give’) are your friends

Regular clothes hack #2: Look for longer length tops or tunics – these won’t turn into crop tops and will cover your bump neatly well into the last trimester. Long cardigans,  cute serapes or ponchos, as well as loosely draped wrapped tops are great cool weather gear and can also double-up as great nursing covers!

3. Although in general I prefer separates for maternity and nursing wear, it is probably a good idea to get one or two really nice dresses for special occasions. You never know you might have to go to a party, a wedding, or just dress up for date night (I suggest a movie and a fancy restaurant). Take your time and choose something really nice that you might even deign to wear after your pregnancy – you can always cinch in the waist with a belt!

Regular clothes hack #3: Maxi dresses are your friend – especially high waisted or empire line styles!

4. Many nursing tops and dresses now have very cleverly hidden openings for easy access to the milk bar. However, do avoid nursing access openings that have a zip or velcro closure. Who wants little zip teethmarks all along the side of your boob? Or start a breastfeeding session with a loud ripping sound that will frighten the birds? Nobody, that’s who.

Regular clothes hack #4: Look for tops and dresses that have a hidden bra shelf and stretchy open neckline – quick and easy pull-down access!

5. For lingerie, stick with your usual bikini style panties (boy shorts if you want more coverage at the back) and wear them under your belly, just be prepared to buy new pants as these will surely be stretched all out of shape. Stick with breathable cotton and seamless styles as keeping cool and comfortable is key to preventing nasty infections.

6. As for bras, your breasts are likely to get tender during pregnancy and will definitely change in shape and size. Ditch all your underwire bras, and find some good quality maternity and nursing bras that are not only soft, breathable, stretchy and easily adjustable to accommodate fluctuations in size (which can be +/- a whole cup or two every few hours), but provide good support so that you don’t get backache. Most nursing bras will come with drop-down cups, so find ones that you can clip and unclip easily with one hand.

Regular clothes hack #5: If you don’t fluctuate in size much, a good sports bra or sports tank, crop top or camisole with an inbuilt bra shelf are a good option. They’ll be comfortable, give good support and wick sweat away from the body to boot. Layer them under your other clothes to use them as nursing bras.

Check out my Top 6 Favourite Online Maternity and Nursingwear Retailers here