The Day I Made My Preschooler Wear A Gingerbread Man To School

My preschooler came home from school the other day with a note asking them to dress up as a fairy tale character
We were given a list to choose from and I began to panic
Somewhere along the way as a parent, I concluded that the kids wouldn’t have missed out much even if they didn’t read fairy tales

That was about 5 years ago, I was 4 years into my job as a parent
As a new parent, I was full of zest and energy
It was like being in a new job but with a steep learning curve and the learning is on the job most of the time
Navigating through the maze of parenthood turned out to be the most exciting and rewarding job I have ever taken

I asked myself lots of questions but many times, there were no right or wrong answers
Different experts say different things, most of the time, they can’t even agree among themselves
The grandparents think their ways are the proven ways (didn’t we turn out ok ?!) and other parents have their own opinions
Most of the time I ended up with my own answers and I learned to trust this thing called mother instinct

Home is a living classroom and going to school made up a small part of learning

Walk the walk and talk the talk because these little people are watching us all the time and there is no better way to teach than being an example ourselves

So we looked through the list of fairy tale characters and thankfully Gingerbread Man was in the list
We bought the book from a garage sale and he loves it, though I was initially worried that he would be upset that Gingerbread Man couldn’t outwit the fox and got eaten up, which was what happened to his elder brother when he was this age

Thankfully he wasn’t too bothered and we decided to make Gingerbread Man costume using used cardboard in our garage

It was our first dress up party in an American school and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so I went around asking other moms
I found out most girls would dress up as princesses and most boys as knights or princes
I hadn’t come across any billy goat or little pig and was beginning to worry that my little cardboard Gingerbread Man would be laugh at

I spent some time talking to him and found out that he actually wouldn’t mind his friends laughing because he thought it would be funny
I was grateful for his innocence and positivity, things that were often lost with growing up and valuable reminder for me as an adult now

But even with his assurance, I wasn’t quite sure especially when I got comments from my sisters that our cardboard Gingerbread Man look more like a body mask than a costume

They were right actually, so I tried to entice him with a trip to Target to choose the most fanciful costumes but he rejected and insisted on wearing a cardboard one

And that was how we ended up with an afternoon, fiddling with cardboard




He wore his Gingerbread Man to school yesterday
He had a blast
His friends laughed at it, his teachers loved it
and best, he could run as fast as he could like Gingerbread Man with the cardboard strapped on his back like rocket booster !

I realised that I could have spent the afternoon with him at Target, trying to choose the coolest costume and he probably walked away learning not more than what money can buy
But in this case, we learned something from each other, a bit on innocence and positivity and a whole lot more about the possibility of a used cardboard sitting in our garage


Note : Last year we took part in the Global Cardboard Challenge in Singapore and had a blast
We made a pinball machine after being inspired by Cain’s story
This year the fun is back again, find out more about Voyage of Dream 2013

It’s a pity we can’t join in the fun this year but if you have an Instagram account and would love to share your cardboard creation
Upload your picture onto Instagaram including the hashtag #CardboardChallenge and tag me @4malmal because I would love to take a peek at your creations !


My Bestest Muffins

I love muffin recipes, because they require the least work
Usually the instructions would go like this, mix wet and dry ingredient with a spatula, spoon mixture into muffin cups and pop them into oven
It is so simple and fuss free that even my 9 year can do it

No creaming is required, no extensive blending is needed and no messy mixer to clean up
It usually take less than 1/2 hour for me to have everything ready

Unfortunately, my muffins never turned out like those in the cafeterias
They were usually too dry and somewhat burnt at the top

I never really figured out why but mostly I blamed it on my mediocre baking skill and my temperamental oven

Then the other day, a friend brought over some homemade muffins
She is an amateur baker but her muffins tasted  wonderfully soft and moist
I was totally impressed and her secret … A.Good.Recipe
And why didn’t I think of that ?!

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result ~ Albert Einstein

So I dived into the website she recommended and I made Lemon Blueberry Muffins
I didn’t want to lose the momentum in feeding my elder blueberries since I got him started on my blueberry breakfast bars

I made these on Thursday

It took me 2 hours, more than triple the usual time because of shredded lemon zest, stresuel toppings and electric mixer
I would usually skip a recipe like this but it was well worth the effort
The muffins tasted like never before

They were soft, moist and crumbly
And the best part  …  They were gluten free !

And because it was Teacher’s Day on Friday where we came from, I had some of these packed and tagged with some really pretty tags which were actually jam bottle labels

That was how we ended up with some really tasty treats for the kids’ teachers on an ordinary school day

Recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins (Adapted from GimmeSomeOven)

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups + 3 Tbsp Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
1 1/2 tsp Rumford Aluminium Free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar unrefined raw sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (I ran out of it)
7 tbsp milk buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp of loosely packed lemon zest

Stresuel Topping Ingredients
2 tbsp melted butter, slightly cooled
2 tbsp  Gluten Free all-purpose baking flour
2 tbsp granulate sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking tray paper liners
Prepare the streusel topping according to instructions below.
In a small mixing bowl, toss blueberries with 3 Tbsp. flour until blueberries are coated. Use a slotted spoon to remove blueberries and shake off any excess flour. Set aside.
In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (or an electric stand mixer), whisk together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and continue whisking until smooth. Fold in flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Carefully stir in blueberries.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full of batter. Sprinkle each cup of batter with about 1 Tbsp. streusel topping.
Bake at 350º for 20 to 25 min, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Let muffins cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

To Make Streusel Topping:
Whisk together all ingredients until combined and mixture is crumbly.



Jogging has always been a personal affair

Sometimes, it’s quiet, where all I hear is the rhythm of my own breath
Other times, it’s noisy, where loud music from my phone blasts in my ear

It is good for a change to drown in the surrounding sights instead of chatters from everywhere
It is where I discovered the little voice in me that whispers but not speak

It is like this space, self induglent, mostly
A space that you thought wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone because it is uniquely yours

Recently I get to know a bunch of mothers from differnt parts of the world
Some with school going kids, some still bogged down by tottering toddlers

There were swimming coach, policewoman, physiotherapist, military mom
Different suits they wore but for now, they are just so-and-so’s moms

Some are not used to it, some are struggling with it
I wasn’t surprised because minding kids is hard work
and minding kids is serious business

So we somehow got to the topic of jogging
And I found out that I wasn’t the only one who turned to jogging

One of them does it after she drops the kids off at school
One does it with her toddler in the jogger when her 2 older kids are in school
One sneaks out when the husband gets home to take over the kids

And they all do it like me, alone, by themselves

One likes to enjoy the view when she runs
One just needs a workout
One likes being alone, just so that her thoughts could wander

I realised my experience wasn’t that unique after all
Despite our different background, we are quite similar

Strip off our nationality, race, culture, religion, belief and the ‘suits’ that we wear
We are pretty much the same

And this touches and warms my heart as it brings me to what I always believe in, that differences separate and create wars. Humanity thrives when we focus on what makes us the same
The world will probably be a better place if we focus on the things that brings us together than the differences that tear us apart

Anyway, I’ve agreed to jog with one of my new friend
which essentially is a big deal for me
because it’s like opening up my private space and letting someone comes in

She is a swimming coach and used to do triathlon (I wouldn’t agree to run with her if I found out earlier !)

Last week, she showed me a new running route and we did a 45 minutes run which almost killed me cos she was blabbering non stop which means I had to talk as well (I NEVER talk when I run !) and we were going at 5% faster than my usual speed

I surprised myself cos I have never pushed myself this hard
She’s obviously fitter than me and I am nervous just thinking about our run tomorrow
I am just keeping my fingers crossed and hope that I can keep up with her



P/s : I am doing September Photo Challenge with Sandra Tan this month, feel free to add me on instagram or check out my photos at instagram @4malmal



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