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!

Birth Stories

Some interesting trivia for you!

DID YOU KNOW… that only female kangaroos have pouches to carry their joeys in?  (I didn’t know!  I thought both male and female kangaroos had them.)

DID YOU KNOW… that female kangaroos can be in a perpetual state of pregnancy?  (WUT??)  They can carry up to 3 joeys at any 1 time.  One joey hopping in and out of the pouch, another one developing in the pouch and another embryo in pause mode.  God must have thought extremely highly of the female kangaroo to make her such a prolific giver of life.  (Source: http://www.koalaexpress.com.au/kangaroo%20facts.htm)

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Anyway, this post is about Kyra and Zach’s birth stories since Mummy M said that she liked reading them.  Time has a way of making a lot of painful details about motherhood fuzzy so I’ll try my best to recall.  Promise.  No gory details.

KYRA
For Kyra, I remember feeling really antsy about the whole birth process.  Like many first-time mothers, I tried to read up on the various ways you can give birth (Yes, there are MANY ways.)  Like a lot of women, I was ambivalent about taking the epidural.  On the 1 hand, I would, in principle, want to experience a natural natural birth (without anaesthesia).  On the other hand, I’m not sure about my own threshold of pain.  I was also really scared about the episiotomy.  So for months, I was praying for a SSS delivery – safe, smooth and swift!  The last month was a pretty agonising wait.  Being the first time, I was so sensitive to every braxton hick I kept counting and recording the intervals because I didn’t know which ones were braxton hicks and which ones were  real birth pangs.  I needn’t have worried about not being able to tell the braxton hicks from real contractions because trust me, you will know the difference.  For new mothers, if I may describe it, it’s really like menstrual cramps, except like 10 times worse.  Then it steadily progresses to be 100 times worse (but more about that later).

So I experienced contractions at 5 a.m. on Kyra’s EDD, 23 August 2011, and I waited till about 6 plus to be sure the contractions were regular before telling the Husband, “I think you don’t need to go to work today.”  So by 7 a.m., we reached Mount Alvernia (great experience there, by the way), did the paperwork and got ready.  The nurses checked and said, “Oh, 5 cm dilated.  Halfway already.  No need epidural la.”  I stopped her immediately and said, “No no no… I need.  Please ask the doctor to come.”  So I had the epidural and was happily numb and couldn’t feel much.  At 8 plus 9, my gynae, Dr. Soon, came and said, “Okay, let me go down and grab a coffee and then we can start pushing.”  I was so numb that when I was supposed to push, I didn’t quite know how and the nurses had to push my stomach to help me push the baby out.  That was painful cuz I felt they were suffocating me.  The doctor also helped to suction Kyra’s head to make the process faster so by 10 a.m., she was out and I had my baby in my arms without going through too much pain.
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ZACH
Fast forward 2 years later.  I know I wanted to take the epidural the second time round.  That was the only birth plan in my mind.  I was also timing my braxton hicks / contractions very diligently because many have told me for second and subsequent births, everything happens really quickly and I better go into hospital early.  On 24 October noon, I thought I felt regular 15 min contractions.  I was still having lunch with Mummies M and J and XX!  Usually we’d hang out with the kiddies till dinnertime to wait for the Husbands to come meet us but that day, I felt off-colour so I went home to my parents’ house.  Thank God I was with them and didn’t hang out as usual.  The regular contractions kinda disappeared so I thought they were just stronger braxton hicks.  Then at 6 p.m., I got woken up from my nap from intense squeezing around the tummy.  There was no mistaking it, but I waited and timed them – 15 minutes apart.  I tried to very calmly tell my parents I needed to go hospital now and proceeded to call the Husband.  I was calm because I thought there was still quite some time.  Contractions 15 minutes apart will take a while to progress right?  My dad was flipping out.  I think he was really scared I’d give birth in his car.  I went home to get my bag but by then, I felt something wrong because the contractions became 15 min apart –> 8 min –> 7 min.

I reached Mount Alvernia at 7 p.m.  and still waited at the delivery suite for a nurse to check me in.  It was quite a few minutes before a nurse came and attended to me.  She even thought I was here for induction.  She asked me for a birth plan and I said no plan – just give me the epidural.  She proceeded to check me and she shrugged and said, “Sorry dear.  10 cm dilated already.  Too late for epidural.”  Dang-dang-dang-dang…. For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears.  I only had 1 plan and that was to take the epidural.  What now??  What were my options??  I think I was ready to burst into tears if I didn’t have to deal with another round of contractions.  Okay… faced with no options other than to give birth the way women for thousands of years have always given birth, I tried to remember what was said in the pre-natal class but obviously, either I remembered wrongly or that woman was talking rubbish because IT WAS NOT WORKING…. The nurses were really good though.  They just coached and told me to breathe the laughing gas in and out deeply.  Did it help?  I think it didn’t relieve the pain but at least it gave me something to concentrate on while tiding over the rounds of contractions.  In between the contractions, I remembered praying a lot because I wasn’t even confident if I could do this on my own strength.  I was definitely not psychologically prepared to do this without the epidural.  The nurse was also telling me not to push yet cuz the Husband and Doc weren’t there.  So after what seemed an interminably long time of breathing in and out, I didn’t care anymore and just started reacting instead of thinking.  While I’ve always thought of myself as being in control – I’m not the kind of woman who screams hysterically – I screamed hysterically.  And grunted in pain.  And screamed again.  I might have scared many fathers and women waiting outside but oh well… The truth is, giving birth (without an epidural) was never meant to be a controlled and glamorous activity, and the truth shall set them free.  By then, thank God the Husband arrived and was saying encouraging but nevertheless unhelpful things, e.g. “You’re doing well.  Very good!”  (If you’ve attended pre-natal class, the husband is supposed to be the coach to instruct the wife to breathe in and out deeply or take shallow breaths etc.  But of course he forgot all those too.)  Dr Soon finally arrived just in time to deliver Zach and I think it took 2 pushes to get him out.  Wow… I did it.  God helped me do it.  It was so fast that I didn’t expend too much energy that I couldn’t push in the end and need an emergency c-sec.  God answered all my prayers – smooth, safe and swift delivery.

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I think God did prepare me for this situation because a couple of weeks before the birth, He asked:  Do you trust in the epidural more or in Me more?  Hm….  Obviously He didn’t believe my answer and wanted me to prove it.  Haha…

If (major IF) I were to have a third child, I doubt I’d voluntarily choose a natural birth without epidural again.  It does take an extraordinary amount of desperation or determination to do it without the epidural.  My suggestion to first-time mothers who carry a let’s-see-how-painful-it-is-and-if-I-can-take-it mindset towards taking an epidural, DON’T!  There are other ways to test your threshold of pain.  Labour is not one of those times.  Decide early to take it and have a more painless and relaxed birth.  Chances are if you are ambivalent about taking the epidural, you probably don’t feel strongly enough about not taking the epidural anyway.  But should you end up in a similar predicament like me, don’t despair too badly too!  You will be able to give birth to your child and probably faster than if you had taken an epidural.  Just listen to your body and the nurses and you’ll get through it more than fine.

Whether you gave birth to your child with or without the epidural, know for sure that your body had endured that kind of intense pain to bring your child into this world and there’s not much else that you can’t endure to be that mummy for your baby.  (That’s how I psych myself to endure feeding Zach one.more.day. even though every time he bites down my mind just explodes in pain.)  You are a Good Mama!  We all are!

Philippians 4:13 
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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My Baby Addiction

So Mummy A just gave birth! I’m still reeling from the shock of it all because we were just happily lunching and pretending to be tai-tais that very afternoon. Little did we know that cheeky little Z was on his way out in a mere few hours. Babies, they have a mind of their own right from the very start.

The thing about having their own minds is really starting to drive me nuts. Here you have this little thing who looks so innocent, and you wonder how much harm can he do? Next thing you know, he shoots some poo and pees on you (not me fortunately, he leaves such surprises for the hubs). And that’s just the beginning. My Noah loves loves loves to be carried all the time, and he only behaves like this when we are home, not when we are out with ample help. I’m on my way to considering a third hand transplant so that I can carry him and get on with our daily business.

Having a new baby is tough. Everything was blissful and perfect at the hospital until reality hits you with a big nasty surprise the moment you bring the baby home. This quiet and peaceful baby doesn’t seem so quiet anymore. He constantly needs feeding, diaper changing and attention. It may come as a rude shock for some, but having a baby does change your life completely. Your world now revolves around this little one and matters that had no significance to you previously suddenly become super important  (like the colour of poo). You find yourself googling everything about babies and freaking out at the scary stuff you read online. Thankfully things do get better in the later months.

Noah Cries

Though my days are currently mad, I’m thankful for the little things that get me going. Like little Noah’s chubby cheeks and cheeky one-sided grin – they send me in crazy baby-smelling mother mode. There’s just something about babies (just mine, don’t worry) and my little girl that I can’t stop smelling, sniffing, taking a huge breathe of… and then do it all over again. It’s almost like an addiction now.

They say that childhood is short. Babyhood is even shorter. They are only going to be this needy, chubby and helpless for a short period of time. When the going gets tough, when the little boy is screaming at the top of his lungs (good stamina, this one), when he pooped and stained his clothes for the 5th time consecutively, I pause and remind myself that this little boy will only need and want me for awhile. It won’t be too long before he flaps his wings and discover the world on his own. Then I sneak into the kitchen for a butter cookie before getting onto the daily grind.

Presenting to you my top 5 baby addiction:

1) That baby smell

They just smell sooo sweet and only for awhile! Not long before they run and crawl or smell like drool. Heh.

2) Little tracker eyes

I love it when Noah tracks me with his eyes as I walk across the hall. It’s almost like he’s saying, ‘I’m waiting for you to play with me mama’.

3) 10 little kissable toes & fingers

I remember the 20th week detailed scan where the sonographer was counting the number of fingers and toes. I think our hearts stopped till she counted to 10 each time. Scary moment. Thank God every finger and toe is present! Today, I love holding the little chubby hand and tracing the dimples on each finger. Sometimes I run my fingers through his sole and toes and marvel at how smooth and tiny they are!

4) The chubby flapper hands

The first time Noah was placed into my arms, he wailed and smacked me on the face. He’s still doing it now when he gets upset and each time he does it, it never fails to remind me of the first moments we met. Such fond memories that I keep close to my heart.

5) Munchkin nose

When my babies are all asleep, I love to go close to their faces and smell their babyness. I like how the hubs put it – that the nooks and crannies of our faces fit just right into each other’s.

Noah Bear

If you are a new mama, or a mother with a new baby, hang in there, it will get better. When things get tough, take a deep breath and then hug the baby. If you feel yourself going mad, it’s ok to hide in another room for a moment or sneak a chocolate bar or two. Then go back to the baby with more cuddles! Whatever it is, you deserve a huge pat on your back, a carton of Ben & Jerries, a huge strawberry short cake and the best cup of coffee in the world.

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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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Family-with-young-kids travelling solution: Club Med Cherating

Things I miss doing after small J was born #72: Travelling in the most carefree way.

I.really.miss.travelling. More than I care to admit, and more than I dare to admit to others. And it is not that I didn’t try.

I tried travelling with my friends after small J was born, but it was sure tough on my other half. That’s why God made TWO parents – it is extremely difficult to cope for long periods of time if there is only one of you, with no extra help. It is difficult to go to the toilet, or bathe, or eat, or SMS, or sleep. And the parent has to work too.

Daddy J and I tried travelling together, leaving small J with my parents. Not a great option too. Nope, I am not worried for my kid cos’ he’ll survive. I worry for my parents, that they’ll be really tired out. Every weekend, I am tired out watching out for small J, I can’t imagine doing this 30 years down the road for my grandchildren, and a BOY, who is twice as active as a girl, according to books.

Random 5-minute snapshot of what small J does daily: climb up the sofa. jump on the sofa. get an earful from me for doing that. climb down the sofa. jump on the floor. run to the kitchen and touch the cabinets. run to his ‘car park’. ride his scooter forward. backward. 5 more times like this. send his scooter to the naughty corner cos’, according to him, his scooter was naughty… and it goes on! Sometimes I wish we can exchange bodies, surely, I can lose some weight, going around the house at a dizzying rate, like a disco strobe light gone mad. Anyway, as my mum exclaims in Cantonese, ‘it is so tiring just watching him go about like this!’ Welcome to the toddler world!

At that point in time when he was 1 yo, we didn’t even dare to think of travelling as a family cos’ this is what I envision (and I have a good imagination): packing a truckload full of diapers, milk powder, baby food. Getting stared down by others on the plane cos’ small J is hysterical. Spending the morning packing an army pack out of the hotel room just to eat breakfast, and then hurrying back for his nap. Carrying his pram up long flights of stairs. Still being cranky after his nap cos’ he didn’t sleep well in the new environment. Me in a bad mood outside cos’ he’s grouchy, which frustrates me. Quarreling with Daddy J. Returning to hotel after walking around aimlessly about 1 km from the hotel room. Hiding in the toilet to wait for small J to sleep (cos’ he sleeps in his own room at home). In short, paying a few thousand dollars for a trip just to hang around the hotel room and be frustrated. Super lose-lose situation.

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So I thought I will never travel until small J is 7 yo, which is what one of my colleagues did. I went into mourning. Until I talked to my colleagues during lunch about our perennial one-that-gives-us-hope-to-carry-on-working topic: ‘where will you be travelling during the school holidays’? And my colleague shared with me his experience at Club Med Cherating. I was bowled over! I can stop mourning! A quick research showed that they have a new Baby Club, which means that you can drop off your kid from 4 months to 2 yo from 8.30 am-5pm. And they have qualified pre-school teachers looking after the kids. And it is an all-inclusive package in the club – no need to travel out or pay for food or activities (except for day trips outward and their spa). And there is a new budget flight going there, which takes only 1 hour. And there is a 1-for-1 promo. I am sold! Sounds like a good solution to our travelling woes! That very night, I made my booking.

Money matters…

5D4N All-inclusive (accommodation, food, activities) at Club Med Cherating 12- 16 June 2013:

SGD1500, 2 Adults based on the 1-for-1 promo, child below 2 yo is free (Baby cot and toiletries included)

Baby Club: SGD75 per day x 4 days = SGD300

Two way transport from airport to hotel: SGD100

Firefly flights to and from Kuantan: SGD200 for 2 adults, SGD30 for child below 2 yo

Total: SGD2130

Here’s what we did at Club Med Cherating.

Things that made Small J happy and safe!

Baby Club Amenities (Small J was 22 months when he went there):

  1. The indoor play area is air-conditioned and very new, sorta like a smaller version of Hokey Pokey (an indoor playground at Millenia Walk). When Small J first saw that place, he ran in and zoomed in on the big cars that he could ride.
  2. It features a water play area that won Small J’s heart when he saw it! Slides, spout, merry-go-round and waterplay toys… They provide swim diapers too!
  3. An outdoor playground with sand.
  4. A separate nap area with proper cots.
  5. An eating area that you could dine with your child if you wish to.
  6. A good menu of fruit, yoghurt, pasta, rice.
  7. A daily schedule of activities is provided e.g. visit to the Turtle Sanctuary, Play Doh time, Waterplay
  8. And the most important thing for us as parents – great and experienced staff there who made me feel at ease about placing small J there! The manager is a Singaporean who was previously a Pat Schoolhouse teacher and they have a certified nurse as one of the teachers too. They also have proper procedures during registration where you have to pass them your kids’ medical and vaccination records.

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On the whole, I think Small J had a great time as he had so many things to play with! Even though his day would start out with crying due to separation anxiety, the teachers told me the duration that he cried e.g .10 min and what they did to distract him e.g. bring him to the water play area, showed him the refrigerator of snacks and food and got him to choose his own snacks (a sure-win with small J). We could also peep in anytime if we are worried. Most importantly, when we fetched him every day, he was all smiles and very pally with the teachers, which shows that he likes them.

One thing to note: Being kiasu, I booked Baby Club together with the accommodation, as there is limited availability for spaces at Baby Club, according to the website. As a result, they will automatically charge me based on the number of nights I am staying e.g. 4 nights. On hindsight, I should have booked Baby Club on a daily basis when I arrived. In this way, I would have placed him for 3 days only (SGD225), since the first and last day is basically travelling to and from the airport. Moreover, if Small J cannot adapt, I can draw him out of Baby Club for the rest of the days and bring him around.

Things that made Daddy J and me happy!

1. The best thing about Club Med is that there is no need to travel for all the activities! They are all within walking distance, or a 5-minute tram ride away! This is very important to us with a young kid as he cannot sit still for long, that is why we cannot imagine travelling with a tour group and we did not want to wander aimlessly around the hotel area. The best thing is that there are terribly many planned activities all day… Warning: This is not the place for you if you are a I-must-do-it-all! or I-must-make-my-money’s-worth-since-it-is-all-free! freak, which actually somewhat describes me, so I decided to take a deep breath and be zen about what I shall miss doing.

2. Things that we did:

  • My favourite is the Zen pool, and infinity pool, which can only be reached by tram! It is an M18 pool, and don’t get me wrong, it is not a nudist pool! Kids under 18 yo are not allowed there as it is supposed to be a very quiet pool. And free flow of alcoholic drinks, not that Daddy J and I like to drink but it sure appeals to those who have the I-must-make-my-money’s-worth-since-it-is-all-free! itch.

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  • Sailing (go by tram)

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  • Spa (had to pay for that)
  • Walking on trees
  • Karaoke

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  • Things that we did not do: acrobatics, archery, jungle walk, sports, party at night (only small J partied!)

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3. Good and abundant food:

  • The breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet selection at the main restaurant is stunning and changes everyday. There’s steak, lamb chops, sashimi, salad, yoghurt, ice cream x 100 more things…There is also Gerber’s puree food and fresh fruit for babies below 1 yo. Sometimes, there are performances before dinner!

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  • There is a noodle snack bar if you feel hungry in between lunch and dinner, which is technically impossible, but the snack bar is crowded anyway.

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  • Free flow of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the bar from cocktails, beers, mocktails, juices, hot chocolate, coffees. Small J had a field day drinking all the juice mocktails, while I had my lattes, cappuccinos and mochas.

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  • Surprise food parties throughout the day: Chefs teaching people how to cook a dish and food-tasting after that, popcorn and candy by the pool. I love the surprise element. We were swimming in the main pool when they suddenly set up tables by the poolside and they were popping popcorn, with soda, marshmallows, snacks and candy all there.

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  • Seriously good stuff for dinner at Rembulan restaurant, which you have to book at 8 am daily at the main restaurant. I had to run there in the morning cos’ it was booked rather quickly. It really is like fine dining!

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  • Seriously, by the second day, my I-must-make-my-money’s-worth-since-it-is-all-free! mentality waned and it was replaced by the I-could-get-really-fat-doing-this mentality.

Things that made our whole family happy!

1. Performances galore! Every night, there are amazing performances with costumes, lights, dancing and singing. What is more amazing is that they are all choreographed and performed by the staff, or better known as GOs (Gracious Organisers), in a very professional manner. Imagine the look on small J’s face when he saw his Baby Club teacher dancing an Indian Dance on one night and Michael Jackson on another. My favourite show is the Circus themed show, which features acrobatic stunts by the GOs themselves! On Saturday, those children attending the Kids Club (aged 4-7) will perform at night after only one day of preparation.

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2. Things that we did as a family:

  • Visit Turtle Sanctuary

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  • Watch fireworks together on Saturday

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  • Go on a night boat ride to watch fireflies (had to pay Ringgit 120 for 2 adults, free for kids under 3 yo). Small J loved this, when he came back to Singapore, he kept boasting to everyone about this.

3. The wonderful GOs! I am really amazed by them! They are really friendly and warm people, and they are so energetic! At first, I was kinda freaked out when my colleague told me that they are so friendly that they will join you for dinner, which is totally not my style since I am a private person, but after going there, it feels perfectly alright as only people whom you have come into contact with will join you, for us, it is small J’s teacher at the Baby Club. She told us that their official working hours is from 8 am-12 midnight (they are expected to party with the guests), and I was thinking, if they can work from 8 am-12 midnight, they obviously love what they do.

All I can say is that our very first trip as a family was an excellent one – no need to rush back to the room for his naps, no need to carry prams up long flight of steps, no need to travel from place-to-place for meals and activities and less grouchiness from small J cos’ he had things to do! And Daddy J and I managed to have a carefree trip, almost just like the old days! Except that we still had to hide in the toilet to wait for small J to sleep!

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Note: All these pictures are taken using an iPhone 4S. While they may not be stunning, it is a reflection of what-you-see-is-what-you-get-there.

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