January 30, 2010

K Talk – Why mummy should not go to work.

Dh always uses this excuse, “Mummy has to go out to work for a short while,” whenever I am out on a girls’ night out.

The next day after a girls’ night out…

K : Mummy go to work last night?

M : Yes, for a short while only.

K : I don’t like mummy to go to work?

M : Why?

K : Because I will miss mummy (complete with a sad face) Mummy don’t go to work ok, stay at home with me.

I had better treasure this response from K while it lasts, probably when he gets to primary school he might start asking me to go to work and get off his back.

January 29, 2010

Transitions

After 2 days of torture (for me), waking up 5 times on the 1st night and 3 times last night. I came to realise that K is fully able to self-sooth himself to sleep with a little bit of encouragement. My encouragement comes in the form of total silence and zero body contact. I have also progressed to sitting on the floor next to his bed, while he tries to sing himself to sleep (see link for ‘gradual extinction’ sleep training). Eventually, I hope that I can be outside K’s room and he can fall asleep on his own.

So far, progress have been great. The only thing that is preventing K from sleeping through the night is his habit of waking up to ask for milk in the wee hours of the morning. This is the result of a lazy mom having a laissez faire attitude about leaving it all the helper when it comes to K’s sleeping habits. After 8 months of hardly any sleep, I threw in the towel and handed the responsibility of taking care of K over to my helper. Like most helpers, my helper chose the most convenient way to give herself more shut-eye at nights; which is to shut the fussy baby up by feeding him milk. Despite my insistence to start feeding him water instead of milk when he turned 1 year old, she chose the easy way out. Unfortunately, K did not grow out of this habit and now is a slightly pudgy almost 3 year old with a big stomach, as a result of feeding too much on milk that he really does not need at night. I know I should not be blaming anyone else except myself. Lazy mummy!

So the next hurdle to cross will be to wean K off his dependence on milk feeds from his milk bottle at night. Nana’s advice for me is to rub ginger on the milk bottle teats, a tried-and-tested method that has been used on me and my siblings when we were young. I am quite concerned that this method may just turned K off drinking formula milk altogether as he is a picky eater, and still needs his milk feeds to supplement his solid food intake. Nevertheless, I figured this will be an opportune time to move him to growing up milk and away from his dependence on the bottle.

I have been prepping him up for the transition since the beginning of the week. Telling him that his bottle is going to spoil, it will start to taste funny and we will have to throw it away. While getting him to anticipate his new sports bottle that is on its way. He loves it that he is going to get a sports bottle to drink his milk in, according to him, it’s “like uncle Nick’s”.

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Gosh, I cannot believe the extent I go to help K with his transitions. People never tell you that parenting will be tough when they keep encouraging you to have more children. Like what I told Dh recently, “I will only have our second child when I decide that I am ready to inflict more torture on myself.”

January 27, 2010

Sleep training an almost 3 year old

Last night. I decided that enough is enough. K has been waking up too many times at night and too dependent on my helper to help him to sleep. I told myself that it is time to do whatever I can to get K to learn to sleep on his own.

When K was about 8 months old, I attempted sleep training but failed miserably, as I just was not determined enough. After that I decided to drop sleep training and hope that one day K will just grow out of it. Unfortunately, I soon realised that bad habits that are formed will never be grown out of.

I knew that I have to nip this problem in the bud and address it now, before it gets even harder as he grows older.

In the evening, I told K that I will be helping him to learn how to sleep by himself. I told him that learning to sleep by himself is like learning how to feed himself, dress himself or riding the bicycle. All he has to do is to close his eyes, be quiet, not think about anything and go to sleep, I further added that only babies need to be pat to sleep.

We started at 10.00 p.m. After reading through 4 books together, I turned off the lights, said our prayers and tuck him into bed. I sat at the end of the bed, and did not respond to him when he talked to me. He started with, “Want to pang sai,” then went on to “Thirsty, want water.” Then continued with several other excuses. When he realised that he was not going to get any response from me, the bawling started. Then came frustrated ‘arghhs’, along with coughing and mock vomiting for the next half an hour. He then decided to sleep half an hour later.

It took a total of 1 hour last night. I think I had it easy last night as he was tired out by a whole host of activities earlier that evening; a short game of tennis with grand-dad, he rode his bicycle with Uncle Nick and even went to catch frogs with grand-dad.

I do hope things get better the next few nights. Although I am prepared that things do sometimes get worse before it gets better. All K needs to know is that I. will. not. budge.

January 26, 2010

A nostlagic trip

If you were born in the 70s like me, chances will be that you would have spent some Saturday afternoons in your childhood years watching The Electric Company. The Electric Company in its time was credited with helping many kids in the 70s and 80s to learn how to read.

So when I saw the The Best of The Electric Company set of DVDs available online, I had to get it for nostlagic reasons.

Looks like educational television in the 70s was definitely better than many of the dumbed-down educational programs we have on cable nowadays. The Electric Company was designed to be a phonics teaching medium that is light years ahead of many educational shows of today. I love the simple humour they had on the skits, plus seeing talented actors like Morgan Freeman and Bill Crosby in their early days is really quite amusing.

K watched a couple of episodes this afternoon, he loves the Spiderman skits and calls this 'the funny show.’

January 25, 2010

Sometimes all we need is to press the reset button

Having a sick kid, sick dad and mom did not make our lives very interesting for the past one week. K prove to be the one with the strongest antibodies as he recovered in less than a week (that’s why I still stick to my insistence not to get him started on antibiotics), dh was heavily sedated through the last weekend, while I have been blowing endless streams of mucus from my nose since Wednesday. Thank goodness we are all better now.

Despite little hiccups like these, there is really so much in life to be thankful for.

Reading about the how people are going hungry around the world, suffering from the aftermath of a recent natural disaster or how lives are lost so tragically. Reminds me how fortunate I am.

Sometimes I get so busy that I tend to miss the small things. The small things can be so simple, yet I believe that we can still find happiness from these things if I made a conscious effort to notice it, appreciate and find joy in it. It really helps to look for simple things in our lives to be grateful for and to savor those things.

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January 15, 2010

Walk @ Hinhede Nature Park

It has been 2 weeks since our last nature walk. This morning we went to another nature park near our home; Hinhede Nature Park, just beside Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The Hinhede Nature Park is a great alternative to the nature reserve, as it is filled with easy trails designed for families with young children and the elderly.

hinhede7As we ventured onto the walking path, we were greeted by one of the park’s regular resident; the clouded monitor lizard. It was a nice, serene and breezy walk, being surrounded by the canopy of trees around us, we hardly felt the heat of the morning sun. hinhede1

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The key feature of this nature park is the adventure play station. K enjoyed climbing up the bridges and was really keen to try the playground slide. I dissuaded him from going down the slide, as I felt it looked daunting for someone his size, all I could say to him was “Next time, when you are taller you can try the slide.” I guess the adult was probably more afraid of the slide than the little one. hinhede3

K then got on a swing for the first time and I think the ride on the swing was the key highlight for him at the nature park. I wonder why there are hardly any swings in neighbour-hood playgrounds these days. The last time I recalled seeing a swing was at one of those old school playgrounds in a housing estate (still with laced with sand and not rubber mats that we now see) in the east quite a few years back. hinhede4

We kept our eyes and ears peeled for the park’s other residents; banded woodpecker, drongo, plantain squirrel but could not spot any during our walk. The other highlight of the park was the scenic view of the Hinhede quarry, located at the end of the park.

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On the way back, we came across signs warning visitors not to feed the monkeys but did not catch the sight of any monkeys.

hinhede5We ended our walk with a visit to the visitor centre at the entrance of Bukit Timah nature reserve. Included in the exhibition area was 2 stuffed tigers, captured from the reserve eons ago, now stuffed and preserved for our viewing pleasure.hinhede6

I was hoping that we will get to see more animal life in the park, but I suppose most of them are hiding in the safety of the nature reserve. K needs to be much older before he gets to experience his first hike in the nature reserve.

January 12, 2010

Fickle

Been testing the water these few days with this question, “Do you want to go to school?” To my horror, K’s answer is now “No”.

Knew it. His interest to go to school was purely on a whim. He now prefers to spend time with me in the morning, reading together, learning from new lapbooks, playing with his hoard of toys that he recently amassed from Christmas, going for our weekly nature walks or simply tagging along while I ran errands during certain weekday mornings. Don’t know if I should give myself a pat on the back for making home learning fun for K.

Looks like “School is great / wonderful and you will have lots of fun and friends” indoctrination needs to start a.s.a.p. I still don’t have the guts, determination or discipline to home-school K for all of his preschool years.

January 9, 2010

A good break from nap routine?

I am a stickler for routines. Especially when it comes to making sure that K takes his afternoon naps daily.

K’s nap times are the only time in the day where I can have some ‘me’ time; enjoy a cup of decaffeinated coffee, bury my head into a good book, start work on new lap books or just leisurely net surfing. Thus I started to get a little concerned lately, when K started sleeping later for his naps and waking up a little too early in the afternoons. I believe this could be largely due to his transition from a toddler to a pre-schooler, and his sleep habits are slowly changing. I really dread the day when he will finally drop his afternoon naps :(

However, this week, I decided to go a little lenient on K’s nap routine when contractors came over to my place to fix a new air condition system. My helper took over the supervision at home, while DH, K and I went for lunch at Mr Prata @ Evans Road to satisfy my prata craving. Found out that K did not really like prata and preferred eating the bits of sugar on his plate.

We drove around town to get some errands done, sent Dh home afterwards, while K and I proceeded to seek some afternoon fun at Sentosa.

sentosa1I planned to drive into Sentosa so that there will be more time to explore the Nature Walk and then check out the beach thereafter. We ended up taking Sentosa Express into the island, as K wanted to take the train into Sentosa instead. Public transport is still very much a novelty for him, although I think it will most likely change after a couple of years from now when he has to take his school bus to school.sentosa2Sentosa was surprisingly busy for a weekday afternoon, we had to share the train with throngs of tourists and students. By the time we reached Sentosa island, it was almost 3 pm. So I decided that we skip the Nature Walk and head straight for the water play area at Palawan beach.

sentosa3It was a blazing hot afternoon. I found myself searching for shaded areas to hide, while I watched K have a splashing good time in the water play area, without being the least bit bothered about the sun. I slapped on lots of sunblock for K and myself, although that did not prevent us from getting a couple of shades darker after our visit.

After 2 hours, we headed back to our car, parked at at Vivo City. He was so awake and alert all through our excursion and did not show any signs of sleepiness until he got strapped into his car seat. He fell asleep barely 10 minutes into our drive back home and only got up when dh opened the car door.

Tried to get him to sleep early that evening, but he took almost 1 hour before drifting off to sleep. And then woke up, fussing every other hour from 11 p.m. till like 2 a.m., and then woke up at 8 a.m. the next day. Was a moody and fussy kid the next morning.

Maybe it is the break of routines that cause the sleeplessness or simply the mere excitement of the day that kept him awake? I guess I am right to trust my instincts to stick strictly to his afternoon naps daily, afterall, keeping to K’s nap routines is the best for him and I treasure my ‘me’ time too much to ever want to give it up.


January 8, 2010

Me ‘Kiasu’?

I never thought I will be thinking of this so soon...but today, I finally succumbed to the common syndrome that plague lots of Singaporean parents; planning ahead for their child's primary education.

Just a few days ago, I loudly exclaimed to Dh that it is ok to stay where we are at now and then find a nearby primary school to register K in when time comes. I was thinking that it really did not matter and it was alright to drop our privileges (to be in one of the top 10 most popular primary schools in Singapore) to get into Phase 2A1 (if he joins the alumni) or Phase 2A2 for being a 'old-boy' of the school. So I thought to myself, "I wonder what is the big deal about getting into a good primary school, I should not be so ‘kiasu’ since K hasn’t even started kindergarten..."

I realised that I have put a foot to my mouth after I spent this morning with my neighbour downstairs; Lay Keng, a SAHM with 4 kids. Her oldest being 15 years old and Seth, her youngest child, is the same age as K. We talked about her children’s experience in primary school, 3 separate experiences and how each varied from the other depending on the type of school the child attends.

We talked about the parent volunteer system, how we can get into Phase 2B of a fairly good Christian primary school near our home (unfortunately distance of school is > than 1km), if the school have any vacancies for parent volunteers. Parent volunteers need to accumulate 40 hours of service (that’s akin to starting volunteering when the child turns 4). Anyhow I am not even certain that I will be accepted as parent volunteer, since I don’t even know what ‘service’ I can offer to the school.

Key take-outs from our conversation? It does make a difference which school the child attends. It will differ from the kind of support teachers/school can give to the other areas of development for the child (apart from academic development). Dh and I came from good primary schools (due to the effort on the part of our parents), so shouldn’t I give my child a chance to be in a better primary school as well?

It dawned on me that I am a kiasu parent, to be even thinking about this even before K turns 3. Just when I told myself from the start of the new year that I will need to learn to be contented, learn to live a day at a time and trust God for my future, I find myself thinking of things that are more than 4 years away. I find it such a irony when I don’t even know what will happen from a year from here, yet I am thinking of something 4 years from now?

It’s bizarre how having a child can make you conceive traits that you previously hope you will never have.

January 5, 2010

“Let me show you…”

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The drama king feigns death, complete with tongue hanging out and a mangled limb pose.

January 2, 2010

Cheese!

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K has decided that having the camera in his face is not that bad afterall. To my delight, he did not turned away when asked to smile, instead, flashed his sunniest smile.

This is a big deal for me, the over-eager family photographer, who revels for the moment to be able to capture that expression for this memorable shot.

Something to think about for 2010

Sometimes a new year dawns with barely a quiet whisper, other times it arrives with a shout. This year I spent the early morning of the New Year all by myself in the study, drafting out a schedule for the next few weeks. Probably a harbinger that this new year is filled with lots of tasks ahead of me. Some which I look forward to expectantly and others I just want to procrastinate on. Just barely two days into the new year, my to-do-list is already filled to the brim. No doubt that this year will be a busy year for me.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop and get my bearings. It's so easy to move along a busy week to another without ever stopping to think about where we're heading and the direction we are taking.

Here are some questions from here (great for Christians, even some for non-Christians) for me to start with;

1. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
2. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
3. What's habit would you most like to establish this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What area of your life you most need growth, and what will you do about this year?

Some which I already have the answer and others for me to think about these couple of days. For now, I am only sure of one thing for this new year. My God is good, and has gone ahead to pronounce that 2010 is a year of Victory, a year for Increase, a year for Restoration and a Year for Favor for me and my family!

I earnestly hope you will also be filled with as much hope as I have for the year 2010.

January 1, 2010

A New Year’s walk

K and I took a different route this morning when we went for our nature walk at Dairy Farm Nature Park. The distance we covered was about 2x further than the distance we walked during our last visit. My little trooper was all gamed to explore this new route and did not even asked me to carry him once throughout our 1 and a half hour walk. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if we managed to cover at least 3km from our walk :)

route

It’s amazing how how nature can be viewed so differently when we take that effort to observe nature in it’s organic form and see the patterns that it creates. dfnat1Every walk that we take together, K and I will always stop, observe and marvel at beauty of nature. Admire the vast variety of species of different wildflowers/plants on display and watch insects going about their business in their natural environment.

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From our walk this time, we were rewarded with a breath-taking view of the Singapore quarry, located at the south-western end of the park. We took in the tranquil sight of the wetland and watched the aerial antics of a fuchsia-coloured dragonfly flying near the cattails.

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dfnat3 We spend some time seated under the pavilion next to the quarry and quietly listened to hidden birds, one which sounded like rhythmic drumming of a woodpecker’s bill on a tree.

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K even wanted to explore one of the trails away from the walking path. I asked him if he knew what to do if a snake crossed our path, He shook his head. I then told him that it will be better if we explore this other trail the next time when daddy comes with us.

On our way back to the entrance of the park, we were greeted by a group of wild monkeys and caught a glimpse of 2 squirrels scampering across the path in front of us.

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K was totally thrilled with the sights he saw this morning and he exclaimed really loudly on our way back, "I like nature!"