Reflection and Resolutions 2014

My little baby is going to school!!!  I think I’m having more separation anxiety than Kyra.  It’s sad but my anxiety stems from a few reasons.  I’ll no longer be her only teacher – she’s going to adore and worship these other women coming into her life.  Also, I’m sad to let her go at this juncture because our relationship has been pretty rocky.

I end 2013 with some regrets and heartache.  One question I often get is, “How is Kyra adjusting to Zach?” I’d say that she’s adjusting quite well and she really loves her little brother, showering him with hugs and kisses.  But I think with the arrival of Zach, my relationship with Kyra has gotten quite strained.  Since the pregnancy, well-meaning family members have tried to “relieve” Kyra off me – carrying her when she demanded to be carried, attending to her needs and wants, and I can just relax in a corner.  Not that I didn’t enjoy this treatment, but I now think that maybe starting from then, she has felt that I no longer love her as much or at least, no longer available for her.  Added to that, I’m still the disciplinarian.  This situation has prompted some very heartbreaking comments from her lately, like “Mummy, don’t love me” (ie. I don’t want Mama to love me) and “Mama loves Zach, Papa loves Kyra”.

So anyway, it’s the time of the year again where we reflect upon the past year and promise to do better for the next.  I want to start 2014 with a few resolutions and I’m excited to reclaim lost ground with my baby.

  1. Start and end each day with a hug and kiss.
  2. Bend down to her level and have eye contact.
  3. Carry her as much as she still wants me to, before it becomes physically impossible.
  4. Put away my handphone and ipad (or books and magazines) when I’m with her and just be with her.
  5. Focus on building character.
  6. Play with her.

While surfing around, I found some pretty nice ideas that I want to try this year!  I want to start a Blessings/Thanksgiving jar where we will write things that we are grateful for everyday (or as often as we can remember).

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There’s also a New Year’s interview sheet where we can fill it up over some years and see how we’ve grown.  Image

[Click on the pictures to go to the original sites]

I hope 2014 will be a better year for all of us!  We are all good Mamas and can only get better.  🙂

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Dear Kyra, 

No matter how old you are, Mama loves you very much and you’ll always be my baby.  I will do better to show love in a way that you understand but I’ll still discipline you (firmly but not harshly) because that’s part of love.  I know you’ll enjoy school very much and I hope you grow up secure and confident, knowing that you are God’s prized possession and Mama and Papa’s pride and joy, always.  

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Festive Greetings!

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Merry Christmas everyone! The little ones are going alittle crazy opening presents and enjoying themselves… and we are really glad that they are finally learning how to enjoy the season. We are taking time to teach them that the season really is about Jesus and not all about presents 🙂 Have fun ya all, and may the rest of 2013 be a blast!

Coping with a new born: Getting some ZZZs (Part 2)

Ok, I’m back from my meditation mountain of studying for my course exams! Back to the unfinished business of Sleep Training Part 2! Part 1 was about the eat-play-sleep cycle in Babywise and how it helped small J sleep through the night. Part 2 is about how to get your kid to sleep on his or her own, according to Babywise.

The Babywise solution is essentially the Cry It Out (CIO) method and also having your kid sleep in his or her own room. Hold your horses! Don’t pelt me with stones! Don’t write hate mails to me! Remember, no judgment?! CIO method has received a lot of flak and is almost a taboo word these days but I’ve got to say it works wonders if applied correctly and consistently for a week. The results? Good sleep for yourself and the baby in 7 days! And a baby in a good mood during the daytime. Sounds suspiciously like a slimming ad? The small print is the same: results may vary and it really depends on your baby and your effort.

The CIO method in the book writes that during the sleep phase, you should  say a firm goodnight and leave the room so that the baby can learn to self soothe and sleep on his own. If he or she starts crying, allow him or her to cry – most babies will cry to sleep within 45 minutes. The assumption is that the baby sleeps in another room, which is what I practiced since I am so light a sleeper that I can’t sleep with the baby cot next to me even when my head is buried under pillows.

So that’s what I did! Almost really, but I made up my own rules and cheated.

  1. Firstly, as expounded by Babywise, observation is the key. We are not supposed to twiddle the thumbs or whistle when sleep training. (Reality: just like every mother, I feel like cringing at the corner and die when I hear my baby cry). So, a good way for me to cope was to record the type of cries and the length of time as well as whether the kid was well-fed and received enough stimulation before that. When I had something constructive to do like plotting trends, I felt less emotional. If the baby is well fed and stimulated at playtime, he should fall asleep quite quickly.
  2. Secondly, our rule is not to let the baby cry over 35 minutes. Why such a random time? Because by observation, small J usually doesn’t cry beyond this time to go to sleep.
  3. I face the baby’s bed such that the eyes of the baby faces 180 degrees away from the door, so I could effectively peep in and observe him without him seeing me. When I was able to see him and check on him, it was comforting.
  4. I noticed that if I consistently sleep train him for a week, he will cry for 5 minutes or less after that before falling asleep and after a few weeks there’ll be no more crying. For small J, consistency is key. I have to psycho myself that if I decide to sleep train, I cannot give up halfway; if not it’ll all be in vain and it’s better not to start in the first place. My secondary school discipline teacher used to tell us to raise our right fist into the air and shout ‘SHORT TERM SACRIFICE, LONG TERM GAIN!’ like a communist to rah-rah us for the exams. This was also my motto during sleep-training week.
  5. I cheated and he had a sleep prop – the pacifier that the confinement nanny used, despite my protests. I found it to be a necessary evil until I weaned him off cold turkey when he was 7 months old (another dramatic experience). I also used the sarong for 2 weeks to get him to switch from being a night baby (one that is awake most of the night and sleeps in the day) to a day baby in his 2nd month before starting sleep training.

Sidetrack: When I was preggie and idealistic, I vow never to do some things…

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I have not looked back since and am grateful that small J could sleep on his own without crying or waking up at night for most nights since about 3 months old and that was the most important factor for giving me some way to function normally at work and in life. As with fighting the flab, sleep training is a constant fight. It has to be done again and again and again (sigh!) after every transition since there’ll be sleep disruptions during transitions and I’ll try to be more understanding e.g. When I weaned him off the pacifier, when he transited schools, when he was ill…

However, I have regressed much. recently, after he transited schools, I was much less successful in sleep training him. When he changed schools, he felt insecure for two weeks, so I accompanied him to bed. And I found out that I enjoyed the experience now that he is older and can speak. Even though I will pretend to be asleep to dissuade him from playing in bed (like slapping his bear around), he will talk to me about his day e.g. friends in school, why mummy was angry, or that grandma came over. Sometimes he will sing too and accompanying him to bed is a really heartwarming experience. Who knows? I may give up sleep training after all since life is certainly more manageable at 30 months old as compared to 3 months old. It can only get better.

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December’s Necklace

December December… where did October & November go? Well at least I figured out that I have not figured out how to sleep normal human hours and still have the time to do everything on my list. Now I just have to figure how to do it.

Noah’s now 4.5 months and counting. This time with much less anxiety (learning to trust and let go finally!), I’m really enjoying the snuggles and growing up process more. We are literally watching him grow before our eyes. And having Shanah to snuggle and play tickles together? That’s a bonus beyond bonus. Two sweethearts, wow, my heart just exploded.

I think we have now figured a schedule of sorts and with that, we managed some home activities here and there to feed my craft addiction. This love for crafts started when my mummy used to buy me craft books and materials when I was a child, and the interest kinda stuck on me all these years. I’m really glad that Shanah has also taken an interest in crafts and it’s my wish that she takes it further and creates amazing things to bless those around her.

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Necklace with bubble tea straw (because we all love bubble tea, closetlover or not)

Adapted from No Time for Flashcards 

I really love this activity because it’s so simple and fuss free, yet it works on two motor skills at the same time! Especially for pre-writers, this really builds on their finger dexterity to help in future writing skills.

Materials needed:

3 Bubble tea straws (softer ones so it’s easier to cut)
1m of ribbon/string
Scissors
Tape

I started by getting Shanah all excited about doing ‘something’ special. She’s kinda girly, so making necklaces is totally up her alley. Plus the fact that i took out her special kiddy scissors – that got her really excited.

I demonstrated how to cut the straw with the scissors. Then i held her hands to do it together with her. When she has gotten the hang of it, i allowed her to do the cutting herself. Two things to note, firstly, cut a suitable length that allows for easy threading. Secondly, the straws can get rather sharp after you cut them, so watch out of those! The ability to use the scissors requires hand-eye coordination and some strength – both of which requires much practice. So if it’s your first time, guide your child through the whole cutting process.

After cutting the straws, it’s time to string the parts! One end of the ribbon was taped to the floor while the other end was folded and taped to make it easier for little hands to thread the straws in.

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It took Shanah a few tries to get the threading right. She was initially alittle frustrated to put the ribbon through the straw only to have it drop out again. But once she figured how to thread the ribbon through and pull it out the other side, she’s was really pleased with herself. In fact, halfway through the activity Noah woke up from his nap, and I was able to attend to him as she finished up her necklace!

When the threading’s all done, just tie a knot, cut up the excess ribbon and you have a bubble tea necklace!

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Proudly wearing her necklace, declaring that she wanted to show her daddy her handicraft!

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What Christmas Presents Should We Buy? BOOKS!

I’ve been very inspired by Mother Kao’s post on the importance of frequently reading to (and with) your child and also to buy a collection of well-loved books for them.  I’ve always thought: why buy when our local libraries are well-stocked with books?  Besides, I only read most of my books once and they are forever sitting on the shelves collecting dust.  I’ve forgotten that children, unlike adults, love reading and re-reading books.  In fact, the more they read the book, the more they love because the words and images become familiar to them. So yes, I’m now on a book buying spree! 

Where to get cheap(er) books?  Online!  Just discovered and tried bookdepository.com and let’s just say the prices are pretty attractive.  However, you won’t get all your books in 1 parcel.  They tend to come in dribs and drabs over a few weeks.  So if you can wait, why not? 

While we’re at it, one of our favourite sites is flipforjoy.com.  It offers quality award winning books around the world translated into Mandarin (some titles are bilingual).  Invest in good stuff this Christmas and partner Flipforjoy in a charity drive with Rainbow Centre Singapore.  They are pledging a $5 donation with every book order (https://www.facebook.com/flipforjoy).    

So, keep reading anything and everything this holiday and look out for our upcoming book reviews!