How we cope with hazy days

Unfortunately, hazy days look like they are here to stay for a couple more weeks. The Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) hit an all time high on Sept 25, reaching the hazardous range of above 300, and schools were forced to closed for the first time, to the children’s delight. Most days, the PSI ranges from 100 to 200 plus, or in the unhealthy to very unhealthy range. We’ve been mostly holed up at home with windows shut. Our only air purifier, a two year old Novita, broke down last week, so we’ve been doing without one for now.

We’ve been forced to learn to cope with this new norm.

School:

I was very tempted to keep Jason at home in the initial weeks each time the PSI soared above 200, because he has a history of asthmatic wheezing. I’ve learnt to keep calm and find other ways to cope with it since he can’t be skipping school for 2 months. So he has been going to school with a N95 mask and an inhaler, with instructions not to play catching during recess. PE lessons, if any, are held in an enclosed space. Lessons are still carried out in a non-aircon classroom, but he puts on his mask when needed. He takes it off from time to time “because it’s hot and uncomfortable”. Soccer training which was originally three times a week, has thankfully stopped because of upcoming exams. The school has measures to put high risk kids in air-conditioned rooms if the haze worsens – that has not happened yet.

Shannon’s preschool is fully airconditioned and her school teachers and principal are more cautious than I am because they are dealing with much younger children. So I have no qualms sending her to school every day. Since last week, I spotted a large air purifier near the entrance. It’s a reassurance to parents, if nothing.

We now live for days when the PSI drops below 100, when we can open the windows without smelling haze, when we can see the buildings in the distance.

Weekend breakfasts:

We used to head out to various coffeeshops on weekend mornings for our breakfasts. Now, I am better prepared for hazy mornings and cook a nice Western breakfast to cheer everyone up and start our day on a positive note. We each get our choice of egg(sunnyside up, cheese omelette, ham omelette or scrambled), and a portion of other side dishes.

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Mid-Autumn Festival

This is the first year we did not bring out our lanterns and head downstairs for some after dinner fun. Instead, we spent the days leading up to the festival stuck at home where we made snowskin mooncakes! I found an easy recipe, bought ingredients while they were in school, and we got down to the job.

Preparing the dough (skin) – 150g of cooked glutinous flour, 130g of icing sugar, 70g of shortening and 150ml cold water plus colouring of your choice. I used a couple of teaspoons of dragonfruit juice to get a pale pink below. Just mesh the fruit using a strainer until you get juice.

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I used store-bought lotus paste from a factory in Senoko (Kwong Cheong Thye), since Phoon Huat had run out of it by the time I decided to make mooncakes.

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I added toasted melon seeds to the paste.

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The kids helped with the shaping and moulding of the mooncakes for a while before they started fighting. I got the plastic mould from Phoon Huat.

End product:

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We distributed them to their grandmothers, our neighbours, and left a couple at home for ourselves.

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Lantern-making:

Shannon’s school has an annual lantern-making competition, and I relegated the task to her papa this year. He conscientiously went to Google for ideas, and this was what he found! He also found the link to last year’s lantern and we had a good chuckle over it.

This was what they came up with in the end.

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Nope, she didn’t win this year.

Meeting with friends

We had a (nearly) haze-free day yesterday and had friends over for a lovely morning.

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Counting down to the end of October, and the end of hazy days…

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