How a Beginner Sewed a Tutu Skirt

If anyone is interested in sewing a tulle skirt, you can find a really simple and do-able tutorial at these 2 ladies’ websites!  They are fairly simple to follow and with the help of Google, I REALLY sewed a tutu skirt for K!  

The Ballet Dress

Simple Child’s Tutu

 

I went to Spotlight to choose some material and spent some money on fabric and sewing supplies.  On hindsight, I really could have just bought the darn tutu from any shop and it would still cost less!  Okay, never mind… It’s really all part of sewing my own clothes for my own beloved daughter right?  So after a week of tinkering with the machine, practicing stitching (whoa… the first few stitches were horrendous!), I finally can sew straight lines and gathering stitches (chey… even know the term now), though it made me relive Sec 2 Home Econs nightmare. 

 

Tada… My masterpiece!   (Sorry, didn’t trim the hemlines, hence so uneven, which is another story for another day)

A tutu skirt is really forgiving of uneven hemlines, imprecise measurements and terrible cloth-cutting (a shearing scissors cost $30!  I used any cheapo art and craft scissors instead, which wasn’t a good idea). 

 

I had to cajole and bribe her to put it on because K said flatly, “I don’t like it.”  …  

  What do u mean you don’t like it?!?!  It’s got polka dots, it’s a dancing skirt!  

 

So I told her, “Sweetie, no no… You don’t understand!  If you want to be a prima ballerina, you have to wear the skirt!” (We’ve been reading Angelina Ballerina books).  Finally I got her to wear it long enough to snap a photo before she stripped it off very roughly. (Almost had a heart attack fearing my fragile threads would tear.) 

 

This was the look I was going for. 

      NAILED IT!!  

 

Dinner time:  “Why don’t you like your skirt?  See, you can look like Elsa if you wear the skirt.  It’s the same!”  Showed her this.    Quite similar right???

 

K says, “Because it’s scratchy.”  Sigh… Fair ’nuff. 

 

So, if this skirt never gets to see the light of day anymore, you know why! 

 

Note to self and other novice seamstresses who care to read:

  1. Precise measurements are very important!  I actually did 2 versions of the skirt.  The first was based on agaration (which was so bad), it looked like a spotted, diseased, hideous tent which sent K scuttling out of the room when I said “Let’s try it on.”  I had to strip the skirt and cut it down to size.  
  2. Sewing clothes is not easy!  Needs a lot of concentration. Do not watch “My Love from Another Star (or any other random Kdrama)” while sewing.  Will save me a lot of pain and anguish. 
  3. Get a more willing model – not someone who says “I don’t like it”.  Z Z darling… Come here! 

Living in the Now

I caught myself thinking that day, “I can’t wait for Zach to wean so I don’t have to be chained to him.  I just hope Kyra can go to school for longer next year then I’ll have so much more time to myself.  After my assignment submission next week, I’ll get to spend more time with the kids.”  Through these thoughts, I was essentially telling myself, just wait and tahan a bit more.  Life will surely get better.  But will it really?  This attitude of waiting to live life scared me a little because what if we don’t have a next time?  Life is the now, the present, this breath, this activity.

Life is also the sum of small things – bathing, feeding, cleaning, enforcing naptime.  They are repetitive, mundane, never-ending.   All of these can be outsourced but how much poorer the relationship will be if not for the accumulation of shared experiences through these seemingly meaningless activities?  Isn’t the bond of love built bit by bit, moment by moment, touch by touch, experience on experience?  With this realization, I’m trying to live moment by moment, enjoying each of Zach’s gummy smile, running my fingers over his dimpled hands and feet, feeling smug that his eyes track me across the room like I’m the only woman in his life (not for long, I know!).  Kyra’s nuggets of simple childlike understanding buried amidst her verbal diarrhoea, her literal understanding of words which gets us in stitches, her tight squeeze as she wraps her hands around my neck.  Even during the crazy meltdowns and wee hour wakings, I breathe in their smells and tell myself, yes, I’d rather do this than not at all.  I know full well that all these are going to pass and soon, the kids won’t need me as often, as earnestly, as crazily, and I’m going to miss being so indispensable.

However, this season will pass and I sincerely hope there will be other good seasons.  Many say nothing will ever beat this but I still hope to be able to live life moment by moment, earnestly seeking newfound purpose instead of always looking back at the past.  Even so, I guess if I were to pick a favourite season, being a mother to small children will probably still rank quite highly, because we have never before and will never again give of ourselves so unconditionally and unreservedly.  It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive and in giving, I have received so much more.

So now, when the meltdowns and terrible days come (about 4 out of 7 days a week), I try to remind myself to Keep Calm and Mother On…

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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!

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!

Coping with a new born: Getting some ZZZs (Part 1)

Good news from Mummy A! Baby Z has come into this world! Mummy A is beaming with happiness and baby Z looks so kissable! I shall dedicate this post to her as she did not have time to reread her Baby Wise book!

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Having a new born is like an extreme sport, such as overnight rock climbing. You need endurance, resilience, and sleeping is like hanging off a cliff. Ok gross exaggeration but you get the idea. My cell group mate commented that during the first few months of having her baby, she really feared going to sleep only to be woken up 2 hours earlier. This interrupted sleep is so bad that she’d rather not sleep at all. Anyway, just like an extreme sport, gaining victory over challenges as a new mother is also exhilarating and sweet. So when I was pregnant with baby J and knowing that my pet peeve is not sleeping enough, the greatest cliff that I wanted to conquer when he was born was getting enough sleep.

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Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/8541224/Extreme-camping-and-rock-climbing-photographs-by-Gordon-Wiltsie.html

So I went about doing my usual, talking to others and reading. I read these:

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Articles from Blog 3.4

William Sears’ philosophy of attachment parenting,

hoping to find a good solution… but the more I read, the more worried I got, “Sounds like a gargantuan task!”, my mind spoke, “I won’t be able to endure it!”. Then I began talking to my colleagues, you know those mummy idols that you have, whose kids are well-behaved, and are able to sleep and eat well. I discovered that some of them followed the principles from this book, On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam.

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I borrowed it, read it, was hooked on it and in short, it became my parenting bible. I read it at least 6 times over from cover to cover, and when baby J was born, I referred to it whenever I encountered problems, which was a funny sight, to be reading when baby J is inconsolable. I told Daddy J, “It’s like an open-book exam!”

These are the principles that I really love in that book:

1)      The book started off differently from many other baby books. It says “great marriages produce great parents” and that is the most important foundation to good parenting. Too often when the baby is born, he becomes so central to our lives such that it eclipses everything else. This is something that parents need to be conscious of so that parents do not burn out. Parents need to be in for the long haul, like a long distance race, not a burst in sprinting. Till today, I firmly believe that I need to take care of myself (and my spouse), so that the both of us can emotionally invest in our kid.

2)      It follows that the focus of the book is then to get your child to: A) sleep through the night and B) sleep on his own.

3)      The focus of this system is that you need to observe and listen to your child closely to know him well.

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A)     Getting your child to sleep through the night

1)      The definition of sleeping through the night is that your baby can consistently sleep for at least 6 hours straight at night, which was so precious to me.

2)      The system is to establish an EAT-PLAY-SLEEP cycle in a 3-4 hour schedule once the baby is born. This schedule is not a totally rigid one, but it definitely should not be a 1-2 hour cycle. How you determine the duration is through detailed observation: by consistently taking down the timing of EAT-PLAY-SLEEP in a schedule. The timing of one cycle starts when the baby wakes up to EAT and the timing of the cycle stops when the baby after PLAYing, goes to SLEEP and wakes up to eat for the next cycle. If you have read Bringing up Bebe (BUB) by Pamela Drukerman, a similar idea in French parenting is the concept that every child has a circadian rhythm, a schedule that we need to help the baby discover.

3)      The utmost important thing to do is to ensure your baby has FULL FEEDS during the EAT stage. This can be done by waking the baby if he sleeps while feeding by massaging his foot, tapping his leg…I have even used a towel dipped in ice water to ensure that he is awake. In essence, using whatever method to ensure he is awake and feeds for about 20 minutes at each breast.

4)      This cycle also advocates EAT-PLAY-SLEEP in this order, unlike other schedules, so that the baby does not form the habit of suckling to sleep, which may become an issue in training him to sleep on his own.

5)      The beauty of this cyclical approach is that if my baby is crying out of schedule e.g. my baby wakes early by crying or is crying immediately after feeding, I know what to do to make informed decisions through observation, rather than just assuming he needs to eat. Is he crying because he needs a diaper change? Or has he not been stimulated enough during play? Is it too hot/cold in the room? Did he have a full feed?  Does he need to go back to sleep? This is somewhat like the “pause” in BUB. By going through this thinking process nth times a day, I actually got to know “his pattern” better. The best part is, once the baby is nudged onto this cycle, I roughly knew what to expect throughout the day, and can plan to nap, do housework, go out with the kiddy and say Whew!.

6)      If there is a consistent attempt to establish a schedule, the book says that the child will be able to drop one feed in the middle-of-the-night (which means he doesn’t wake at all for the MOTN feed), hence, sleeping through the night by about 6-10 weeks old. My boy started dropping his night feeds at about week 9 and was consistent by about week 10. I seriously remembered singing Halleluiah! as I decided to go back to work after 2 months and really, really needed my sleep! Interestingly, my friends who had schedules for their babies also reported that their baby began to sleep through the night at around the same time, so based on anecdotal evidence, this works!

7)        Looking at your baby sleep soundly is seriously the most beautiful and peaceful experience in the world! You cannot help but smile from ear to ear! (Plus, you get some free time! haha!)

I would like clarify that by sharing this post, I am not advocating that one method is better for the baby or the mother, than another. My principle in child rearing is ‘Yes, by all means, do what’s good for the child, but also remember to take time to do what is good for yourself’. My belief is that whatever approach you choose, choose one that suits your lifestyle and personality. I knew I had to go back to work, we weren’t intending to get a helper, not getting enough sleep is really stressful for me and I am not the resilient type, so I knew that schedules and sleep training are vital for the long haul physically and emotionally. Whatever you and I choose to do – no guilt, no judgement, there is no right or wrong. WE ARE ALL GOOD PARENTS. YOU ARE A GOOD PARENT. Besides, if you look at Mummy A, Mummy M and I, we differ in so many ways in our parenting but out kids turned out just fine. At least, I would like to think! 🙂 Perhaps, Mummy M, you would like to share your parenting philosophy and your wonderful journey? Ok, look out for my next post on training the baby to sleep on his own!

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Let the Daddies Rise Up!

I attended a memorial service the other day of a great preacher of God.  He had been serving God for 50 years and just a few weeks shy of his 50th anniversary in God’s service, he passed away.  It’s quite interesting that he was the Reverend who dedicated me at the Baby Dedication service and then 28 years later, he dedicated my baby too.  She pooped explosively while he carried her, shocking the first 3 rows of people.  That’s my girl… 😀  During the service, many people spoke about his accolades but the 1 thing which stood out for me was how often he was referred to as a loving father.  One of the speakers made this statement, “Fathers create culture.  They set the tone in the family.  They say ‘do this, do that, don’t talk like that to your mother.’ ”  That set me thinking about the importance of the Daddy’s role.

That boy you dated.  That man-boy you married.  Suddenly overnight, everything changes and he becomes a father!  Wut… Compared to us mothers, who’ve had 9 months of physiological and hormonal changes to help us prepare for the baby, it’s drastically different for the guys.  It is possible that nothing in his life changes during the pregnancy (no vomitting, no sleepless nights, didn’t feel no flutter kicks in the tummy) and then one fine day, a naked, bloody, mucous alien-looking thingey lands in his arms and he’s told to cut the umbilical cord.  No wonder Fathers get pretty shell-shocked.  But the best of them soldier on despite being shell-shocked, faithfully trying to care for the mothers, receiving guests, smiling, trying to keep up with being present but not in-the-way of the MOTHERS (wife, in-law and own mum), who assume utmost importance in the household now just because they have/had milk.

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But the poor boy tries and soon, he gets the hang of things he can do and does well.  He plays with the baby.  She never fails to giggle in glee as he becomes her human amusement park ride.  He talks to her via a soft toy.  Once, the Husband was sharing something in church and Kyra was whining.  My mum told her, “If you cry and make noise, you must come out and cannot listen to Papa.  If you keep quiet, you can remain in the service.”  She didn’t make a squeak.  She was listening and looking at her Papa intently the whole time.  That’s how enchanted she is with her Daddy.  Interestingly and sadly, I begin to find myself being relegated to second-position in the household.
K: “I love you Papa!”  
Husband: “What about Mama?”  *silence*  
K: “I love you Papa and Mama!”

Zzzzz…. Is it because Papa is the good guy while Mama is the disciplinarian?  Actually, not really.  He scolds her when she misbehaves and smacks her hand when she touches the plugs (rules and consequences we have agreed on beforehand).   But perhaps because of the consistent and loving discipline, his authority in baby’s eyes is amplified.  It is a special gift and authority from God to fathers as the heads of households.  When he speaks, the child listens; when he’s around, the child feels safe;  when he loves the mother, the child knows everything is well in her world.  The research about absent fathers is clear and they are all negative.  Check out Centre for Fathering (http://fathers.com.sg/about/visionmission/).

So where does that leave the mothers?  Of course we are important!  We are the life-givers!  We feed the kids, bathe them, clean their poopy backsides, soothe their boo-boos, teach them etc etc… Nobody says (or dare say) mothers are not important.  But I think at times we have to learn to let go and stay out of the way for fathers to do their job.  We have to constantly remember to encourage them that what they are doing is important to the health of the family.  Somehow, unintentionally (or so he thinks… Mwahahahah…), I have outsourced teeth-brushing, last diaper change for the night (every night, unless he’s working late, then I pity him and take over) and weekend baths to him.  These times are my sacred times – I take a long bath, I play Candy Crush and watch my toe-nails grow.  Very.important.stuff.

Of course he will drop the ball sometimes.  We are all human!  Mummies J and M will know I’ve been battling sleep training (another post for another day) with Baby for the longest time.  It’s a long story but basically, I’ve been marching her back to her room every time she sneaks in at 2-3 am because she’s not allowed to climb into our bed and have another bottle of milk.  So for a few months I’ve had interrupted sleep and it’s fraying my nerves and temper.  One such night, she came in and cried.  Papa held her in his arms and allowed her to sleep.  On him!  “Papa love… Papa love…”  Wah… That cut me deep.  I.felt.betrayed.  I cry…. It’s like your partner in crime, your soulmate, your best friend, ganged up on you with the enemy.  Okay.. I am being dramatic.  So okay, the next day, we resolved everything and he admitted he wasn’t thinking straight at 3 a.m. (I mean, who is right?)  Then another night, she tried the same trick again.  This time he marched her back to her room and stayed there with her till she settled down and didn’t give her milk.  He said, “If I give her milk, you cry.  So I decided to let her cry instead.”  Aww… sho shweet…  Touched.  🙂  These days, he’s “tanking the Kyra” more for me, for which I’m really grateful!  [‘tanking’ = taking the enemy’s hits so your weaker partner has a fighting chance].  So I guess like all marriage issues, it is important to communicate expectations, compromise and try to get him to stand on your side and help.  Easier said than done, but in the long run, it will pay off rather than do everything yourself.

Mothers, though strong, can’t do everything alone.  Get his help, share the load, parent and discipline together.  It’s definitely more fun than going at it alone.  Since the kid (especially girls) is going to idolise and worship her father anyway, might as well make him do more to justify the adulation right???

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