3 Months to her 1st Birthday Party

My Matty turned 9 months old yesterday and I have already some ideas for her party theme and the deco details. And the CAKE! I have always loved tiered cakes and I also have a bakery in mind: Pine’s Garden Bakery. Here are some of the inspirations I got from Pinterest:

 

pretty cake without bunny, mini fresh flowers cake topper instead. Icing embroidery look, layered bottom tier of cake.

I am looking to have the party at my auntie’s condominium function room and hopefully we can manage to secure the place on the date we want.

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Wonders of Establishing a Routine for your Baby

I have learnt the wonders of establishing a sleep/eat/play routine for my baby because I have quite erratic hours on some days because I am a part time tutor and also a full time stay at home mother. I am all alone with no help from parents or nannies, it is just me or my husband, and I bring my baby along to work. Hence, having a routine helps me to prepare my baby and myself better.

Below are some of the main reasons which I am sharing from my personal experience and I really hope that every parent will have a smoother journey.

1.) Scheduling for Appointments Made Easier

So, you are asked to make an appointment with baby tagging along, how do you arrive at the decision to specify the timing? And remember that you have to make allowance for travelling and preparation time. Do you just decide based on your own convenience, wild guess or take your baby’s cues?  I scheduled her weekly swim class at 9am because I know she wakes up usually at about 730am for milk and then her cereal breakfast. We leave at 8.15am to make it on time for the lesson which lasts for 30mins. Her naptime is about 930am which is just in time after her swim. So she will usually be asleep in my arms on the bus while on the way home. This way, I will not have scheduled her swim class to be 930am or 10am which means im delaying her naptime and I will have an overtired baby. I reach home at about 1030am and she continues her nap in the cot.

2.) Regular Mealtimes for Babies

Having a routine means you know when to feed your baby on time, without overfeeding them or making them go hungry for too long. Having regular meal on time is essential for good eating habits to help to prevent health related problems in later life phases such as gastric problems or obesity.

So if you know when is your baby’s next feed, you will also know how much milk to bring along if you are going out, especially if you are not breastfeeding. If your baby is taking solid food, you can prepare on time beforehand. See my sharing on Planning Baby Meals to see how you can prepare better.

3.) Avoid an Overtired and Cranky Baby

When your baby is on routine, you will know when is it that they are already feeling tired and you can prepare them for nap/bedtime. Having delay their sleep for too long will result in them, being overtired and cranky.

My daughter is 8 months old now and never had a pacifier thus far, because when she is cranky, I can predict better her needs and not at a loss of how to deal with it. Dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pacifiers and having one, it is just that we do not want to introduce it and later have to wean her from it and the hassles along with it. My point is, sometimes if you can tune in to a baby’s cranky behavior, a pacifier can be out of the picture.

4.) Baby Sleep Problems Become a Myth

People who know me are amazed at how do I get the spare energy for household chores, my part time job and yoga practices at night when I have a baby on hand. The key essential element is all got to do with your baby’ sleep pattern. If babies have sleep problems, very high tendency for parents to be sleep deprived too because babies wake up at odd hours and parents follow suit. Some of my friends are amazed that my face still look radiant despite being a mother and from this you can tell, many parents from sleep deprivation. It is not my make up or whatsoever because nothing can hide if you are not sleeping well and your face will show it all. No amount of beauty treatment can match to the effects of sleeping well.

We have set the stage for my baby to have a regular sleep pattern and environment since she was born and our efforts pay off really well. Not entirely perfect  everytime of course, but good enough to keep us sane and functioning normally. She wakes up at about 730am, Nap #1 from about 9am-11am, Nap #2 from about 1pm-3pm and Nap #3 from about 530-6pm ( short cat nap). Her bedtime is between 8-9pm and normally she doesnt wake up in the middle of night unless she has some discomfort or thirst. She had weaned her night feeding when she was 2 months old plus.

Technically speaking, I “knocked off” as a mother by 9pm or when he is back at 630pm, I will leave at 7pm for my yoga practice while he handles the baby. My husband is not terrified of handling the baby alone because he knows she will knock out by 9pm as he is able to predict based on the routine. At the same time, I can be assured that both of them are doing well and I can concentrate on my yoga.

5.) Efficiency Doubles Up

Now that I can predict better when is my baby’s nap time, it helps me to prepare better for whatever I am going to do for that day. For example, when it is her activity time and she plays by herself in her exersaucer or playpen. I can prepare the ingredients for cooking so that if she cries for me, I can attend to her and leave the veggies half chopped. No problem with that. When she is napping, my ingredients are already all prepped up, I can begin cooking with peace of mind, without having to run in and out of the kitchen and leave the stove on. Really not advisable! Lunch will then be ready before she is up.

I can also get a quick shower and not risked running out half done in a towel. Been there and done that. Her nap time is my best time to take a quick nap too. Or, I can do some last minute diaper bag packing or cleaning before we leave the house. And when she is awake, viola! We are ready to go.

Overview of my baby’s routine on a typical day when we are at home for the whole day

7 30: Wakes up for milk and breakfast

9 00: Nap #1

11 00: Wakes up from nap and have activities

11 30: Milk

12 30: Lunch

13 00: Nap #2

15 00: Wakes up from nap and have acitivities

15 30: Milk and snacks.

16 00: Activities

17 30: Short nap for 30mins

18 00: Dinner

18 30 : Bath and activities

20 00: Last feed to tank her up to get through the night/ brush her baby teeth/ lights dimmed/ bedtime story/ all activities stop to wind her down for bed.

This is not the best and perfect sleep routine as many baby sleep consultants will tell you that babies’ bedtime ought to be 7pm or by 8pm. We have not work to that stage yet due to the nature of my job and this is by far what we have achieved and we are pretty comfortable with it. For more, read the ” The Secrets of the Sleep Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. It takes time, practice, consistency, hard work and love.

Disappointed by the Parenting Magazine

Recently, my husband brought back one of the local best selling motherhood magazines as he had gotten it for free. I was disappointed to see that it was that particular pretty faced personality covering the front page again. Not one of those A lists, but that is not the reason why, nothing to do with her entertainment performance level. I was mainly disappointed by the chief editor of the magazine. Here’s why.

A couple of years back, I was a single fresh graduate who knew nothing much about parenting and babies. I walked past a newspaper stand and saw the media celebrity endorsing on the same magazine as she had just given birth to her first boy that time. Her words in bold, ” I want him to be a Casanova.” Even then, I frowned and revolted with some disgust inside of me.

So let’s define what is the full meaning of being a Casanova. I Googled and urbandictionary.com defines it as: A smooth-talking charmer who has mastered the art of finding, meeting, attracting and seducing beautiful women into the bedroom. One he accomplishes his goal, he leaves the woman in fear of having a relationship and proceeds to find his next conquest.

This year, she is on the coverpage again and she has 3 boys now. I read her story and readers are reminded that from the previous issue, she wants her eldest son ” to have Casanova-like qualities“. She went on to share that now ” He is good looking and quite the Casanova as lots of girls chase him. He also changes girlfriends often. ” The boy is only less than 10 years old now. The story even went on to say that she wants them to be CEOs in the future and she is in charge of moulding her sons’ personalities by controlling every aspect of their lives. I am not clear what is her rationale behind wanting him to be a successful yet a Casanova. In fact, I feel extremely ashamed that these are coming from the parenting magazine in my country.

Why is the Chief Editor even allowing someone who bares such statements to the parents? Especially in a parenting magazine where parents are looking for inspirations, encouragement and baby trends. My stand is that I am not against her personal wish to desire that for her son and neither do I have any personal prejudice against her as an entertainment artiste.

What is the message is the editor trying to send to the parents who are reading the magazines?

I know that parents are not so naive to tag along with such an aspiration but I believe there has to be a benchmark set somewhere. National media regulators have to play a part and be responsible for what they are saying, especially when it is a parenting magazine which may influence how parents shape and mould their children’s personalities. Though is is not the publisher’s job to educate the kids, they are responsible for what content that channels through.

It is sometimes little wonder that family values start to erode away because the mainstream media made it seem acceptable to do this and that. On top of that, they dress up the stories with public figures so that it seems like since they do it, so let’s do it too. We see this as a norm in fashion and the entertainment industries, but such moral degrading is infiltrating into parenting and families.

I am even more appalled that the Editor is a mother herself and I was not very sure what she was thinking exactly when she decided to let this thing go to print. I hope I havent distorted or exaggerated any facts, this is just my humble opinion when I saw this story.

Whatever it is, this magazine is now like downright dirt cheap to me. Better off to be recycled than stay on my shelf.

Gadget Kids Knows No Play but Apps

Read a tweet on an article ( http://www.greenchildmagazine.com/children-technology-addiction/ ) by Green Child Magazine related to what my husband and I had discussed some time ago- Will our daughter have an iPad of her own next time? ( I dont even own any!) As a tutor, I have heard from parents whose kids can hardly put down their tablets, usually iPads. Besides addicting to it, they have myopia earlier and their eyesight deteriorates even more rapidly. They could play from right after school till mealtime and still playing while having their meals, have to be nagged to go get a shower and then do their homework. Once the tasks are done, they play again till they go to bed.

Parents, however, praise that these iPads work like magic to hush them when they bring them out on the the public transport or to other places. They dont monkey around and they wont disturb or call for your attention. The kids play with their tablets, parents fix on their own phone screens and hardly any communication takes place. Aren’t these scenes a norm on the trains and buses now?

Personally, I am not against tablets or any of these brilliant innovative compnies. I think they are awesome and indeed have brought much convenience and a whole new level of entertainment at our finger tips.

Back to our discussion, we will probably not let her have her own tablet and that she must seek our permission if she wants to play with our phones or his tablet. I applaud for companies that develop great game apps with the best intention to educate but when these kids into these “educational apps”, it becomes a form of gadget addiction. I believe many parents started with the positive notion that it is fine to let them play with the gadgets as these apps really do teach them some songs and ABCs. But, they later then realize it is hard to stop them when the kids got lured to other apps eventually, through app advertisements, of course.

I find it a pity that when kids go out these days, they miss out many learning and discovering opportunities surrounding them as their faces are buried in the screens. In addition, because of the fast motions and thrills of the games, it can cause children to have lack of attention span in other areas, such as reading a book, slower paced games involving toys and probably affecting their academics performance because they can’t concentrate and stay put staring at static stuffs. Parents will later then resort to confiscation and the kids will have the cold turkey effect, begging older siblings to lend them their gadgets. Older siblings will then restrict their usage time or forbid it, another reason for siblings squabbling. I have seen these happened.

The article discusses some of the ways we can discourage being addicted to gadgets. One of them is having parents set as a role model and not a technology junkie themselves. I am kinda guilty here because while I watch my 8month old play with her toys, I get bored after awhile and have this thing in me to reach to my phone to check on my social media accounts or Whatsapp messages. My baby then realized I was engrossed with my phone, she stopped what she was playing with and crawled over and checked out my phone too. She too, stared at the glaring screen and wanted it for herself.

There and then, it hit me that I was sending her a message that my phone seems more interesting that whatever toys she was playing with. Imagine she is only 8 months old and she is already aware of this gadget that Mummy is so engrossed with. Come when she is older, she will want one for herself too! Well, afterall, most of her peers would probably have one of their own too.

The thing is this, be it adults or young children, the gadget is an extremely seductive tool that captures away our attention in a snap. It steals your attention away to what may be more important and priceless; communication with your loved ones, watching your children play and achieve some milestones, studying for exams, appreciating the environment and jeopardizing lives . As a driver, I have deliberately honked extremely loudly at jaywalkers who have earphones on and eyes fix on their gadgets, to shake them out of their virtual world and back to the road.

I appreciate this article very much as it sends me a reminder to keep my phone away while I enjoy my moments with my child. It only takes blinks of eyes and they will be grown. And when that time comes for my child to be conscious enough of wanting to have her own tablet, we will probably question her what is her objective of having her own tablet and what does she want to do with it? Reasons related to peer pressure is not enough to propel me to buy her one and I have no qualm about her being at the ” losing position of being outdated” so she could be in the group of friends. If she is going to use our gadgets, rules do apply.

Like how the article ends, ” There’s no app that can replace the importance of play and time spent in nature.”

In the Name of Nuturing the Child

I am going to share something part and parcel of every couple’s life- an argument in the morning. We were in the kitchen together and my husband was carrying 8 month old Matty while I was preparing her milk. Matty gripped his shirt tightly and he teased her that she was going to crumple his shirt. So what was the big deal about it? I was most irked at how he said it to her. As an attempt to develop both Matty’s English and Mandarin properly in the long run, Daddy will be speaking mainly to her in Chinese while I will be speaking to her in English. Parenting or language experts will tell you that children learn languages more effectively this way. So Daddy spoke in Mandarin but for the word ” wrinkled”, he used a dialect word for it. I snapped at him harshly and asked him why must he use dialect for that word? So he defended by saying it will be good to let her pick up some of our dialect as well.

I have nothing against dialect and I am proud of my own roots as a Chinese and dialect group. It was just that I do not want her to be influenced and speak with Chinese or English that is mixed with dialect jargons. To be frank, it sounds crude and as a parent, it makes me shudder when I imagine if my daughter speaks like that next time.

After snapping at him, he said to me firmly in a controlled manner that I should not had lost my temper and bark at him right in front of the baby. What if she learns that from me and eventually disrespects him? I could have spoken to him about it privately.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
― James Baldwin

I went silent and apologised meekly, then he went off for work. Those words hit me hard and I thought about everything that I intended the “best” for our daughter. Was that moment of teaching what is the ” best” for her?

He was right. It was not about how good my intention was for our daughter but how I talked to him. I had displayed rudeness, disrespect, harshness and impatience to how I responded to his actions. If I dont change my behaviour, I think it is soon that our daughter is going to pick it up from me and react to Daddy in the same way that Mummy does.

I can’t explain why, since the birth of our daughter, I have been snapping at him more often. Many a times, it was related to things he said or did pertaining to our daughter which seemed to me were not essential or beneficial. I think the phrase ” primal mother’s innate defensive mechanism” is definitely not a reason for me to react this way to him. It is time that I should start praying about this aspect and that God give me His grace to be gracious to my husband too.

Later in the noon, I text him and apologised again, assuring that we love him and will never want to disrespect him. He said it was fine, and when he got home, we spent the evening happily together with our daughter.

Weighing between what would seem to benefit my daughter’s linguistic development versus the virtue of respect, the latter is paramount and nothing will change this.

A Parenting Generation that Steals our Kids’ Childhood

I came across a blog( http://happinessishereblog.com/2014/10/childhood-rush/ ) the previous night and the author wrote something very precious about giving back children their childhood.

It also reminded me of a book which I had read some time back ” Einstein Never Used Flashcards” by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh Pasek and Diane Eyer. The gist of this book is that children learns more effectively through play during childhood years than attending enrichment classes that make them memorize through flashcards. And in her book, she mentioned that Einstein never used flashcards but he was a genius. How he became a genius was he that he explored and asked many questions about his surroundings while he was learning through playing.

The blogger emhasizes not to rush children with whatever they are doing , for example, when they stop to smell the flowers or observe the shape of the clouds. Because in a blink of an eye, they will soon all grow up and have lives of  their own, and gone were the childhood days spent with them. In this 21st century where everything is faster seems better and smarter, we often impose these two principles on our childrens’ learning and growth as well. From the book, the author explains that children are learning while they are playing too so dont take away their play time and send them for overwhelming enrichment boot camps.

Both the book and the blog post made me reassess two decisions which I have made recently. I been attending an infant swim class with my 8month old Matty on every Thursday morning, which lasts 30mins for each session. The reason why I joined was because we had really enjoyed ourselves during the trial class and the bonding in water was really special. We are at 3rd week of our course and the instructor feedbacked that Matty is progressing well and has high confidence in water, so she was allowed to join the older babies group. She is bold and takes it well when being submerged.

I have also signed her up for a Japanese right brain training program which makes use of color cards, flashcards and puzzles to stimulate their brain vessels. I have signed up with Heguru Education, it is some sort of similar to those of Shichida Method or Glen Doman method.

A close friend then asked me if I was being a little over competitive to train her in such areas at such a tender age. Another close friend said it was definitely worth it and many of her friends are doing so too.

Of course, I had asked myself what are my objectives for doing so and what are my goals for each program. As for the swim program, I am looking at a unique bonding experience, allowing her to pick up some water competency and get into a form of mini playgroup in water. Ultimately, I hope she can develop some more significant attributes such as confidence and perseverance.

Right brain training will only begin in November and I cannot assess anything now. To begin with, how did I even think letting her try this program. It all began with a Facebook advertising page and I clicked it to read more, which led me to Google more on forums and online resources. Having read some of the benefits and potential, I attended their parents information session and from there I learnt to understand how babies’ brain works, and from birth to 6 years old, it is the right brain being dominant. So when you develop their right brain during the prime age, they can learn useful skills such as photographic memory and some other skills which may help them to pick up faster in academic, music and other things that they do. There have been many positive parental testimonies that their children are able to stay concentrated far better and hence absorb more during lesson time. They are more self controlled too. Could it be I have been sucked in by the overpromising advertisements?

For us, we just hope that she will become an independent thinking child who is self motivated and responsible. I have been a tutor for about 10 years and been to many different homes. And sad to say, I have seen many kids and teenagers who are lacking in discipline and responsibility. Many dont even want to think when you ask them questions and their favourite answer is ” Dont know.” And they just blanked out there waiting for someone to perform a miracle. Some simply just cannot concentrate at something and it is not that they are lower in IQ or what, but probably they are just not keen or cannot wire things together.

Many a times they come from backgrounds that parents just leave it to nature and pray that things will just turn out better or simply just feel that ” they will get over that stage”. I am definitely not saying that attending a right brain training class and these will not happen, but I feel it might help to enhance her overall learning process and things might be easier. I am not entirely against nor for using flashcards and I definitely enjoy our play time together where I will teach her things as well. I feel that flashcards if use appropriately can achieve some desired results such as in the form of right brain training. At home, I prefer to use real objects and toys to teach her about colors, shapes and songs to learn ABC.

There again, I will never want to steal her childhood away.

When parents consent kids to take it out on others when they get hurt

Matilda turned 8months old today. During one of our play sessions, she slightly bumped her head against the edge of her toy and cried. I comforted that it was alright and hugged her till she calmed down. And we continued playing. This mini event that seemed so normal made me recalled some of the incidents which I had witnessed and set me thinking about an issue.

You have seen some kids at the playground or probably a relative of yours trying to comfort a crying child who had hurt themselves while playing. But these were some of the things heard from the adults. For example, a child was frustrated at the mechanics of the toys and began to cry for whatever reason, ” Bad toy. Granny will hit the toy!”, ” That was a naughty boy, he caused you to fall down by leaving his toys everywhere.” etc…

With all good intention to appease the crying child, I think what they had said was trying to tell the child whatever bad consequence that happened, it was somebody’s or something’s fault but probably never their own fault for being negligent.

I had heard from a close friend that on a particular day, her mother in law, herself, her daughter K and her cousin W were out together. W was angry and started crying because he had hurt himself and her mother in law tried all ways to appease the boy. He threw tantrums for the mishap, wailing out loud in public. Next, hear that the appalling thing that her mother in law said to my friend’s daughter, K. ” K, just let W hit you a few times.” Both kids were about 5 years old at that time. My friend could not believe her ears and cut in” No way am I gonna let him hit my girl for anything she had not done.” I thought it was really ridiculous when I heard that. Both kids are her own grand children and I can understand that she favours the boy more because she takes care of him. But to ask your own beloved grandson hit another grand child so that he could vent it out and feel better was atrocious.

Fortunately, K was not hit by the boy. I couldnt imagine how K would feel if she had been whacked by the boy. In her little mind, she would be shocked and confused, why is she subjected to abuse and why did one of her immediate family members allow it? How hurting that would be! One of the scariest things is that the boy would soon learn that he is empowered to take it out on others because Mom or Dad blamed the other party too.

What messages are we sending to our kids nowadays when something does not go their way? In this century, we have seen the rise of ill mannered kids, adults bowing to the whims of their kids, use of violence and some who dont feel that they need to account for anything at all. Probably it is also time that parents or the family members should reassess what are we saying to kids when some things go wrong.

There is always an area for telling them that it is alright that we hurt ourselves at times, get up and move on.

Finding good Tweets on parenting

I used to think that Twitter was pretty irritating with a whole load of page cluttered with tiny words, hashtags, some strange URL codes, some advertisement graphics etc. Just recently, I decided to pick up on how to use Twitter after I realized how these short tweet messages can especially be helpful and even educational to me, as a mother. I dedicate my Twitter page to follow some parenting and mothering pages. I also select who I follow carefully because I hate clutter of non-related tweets on my page.

Currently, I am following 15 profiles and here are some of my personal favourites: #annabelkarmel,#parentsmagazine, #babycenter, #kidshealth.

Share with me what’s your favourite parenting tweeting page?

A key to building trust and bond with your baby

“… So, when you pick your baby out of the water, look at her with your eyes and smile. It is like telling her that Mummy is here, everything is going to be OK, and your child will have the confidence to excel and achieve…”

– words by one of the Aquaducks instructors-

These words are so precious to me that I decided that I must blog it down and it is one of my key principles when I go swimming with Matty now. What happened was during the first trial swim lesson, I was not sure if I was doing holding her right or doing the techniques correctly, so my face showed it all. Doubt and fear. Sensing my awkwardness, the cover instructor on that day shared with me these words. He was only a young lad and probably not married yet, so I was really amazed by what he shared.