Saturday, January 30, 2010

Plants for Chinese New Year

Today, we went to the nursery to pick up some plants for Chinese New Year. We bought a lime tree and some cacti. Here's Ryan with my mum at the nursery.

This evening, I attended the Shichida Parents Home Practice Course. It's primarily meant for parents for children in their first term at Shichida, but some parents of children in subsequent terms do attend the course and are welcome to do so. This is because, as children develop, different exercises can be undertaken and also the same exercises can be done differently, so it's helpful to get guidance for different stages of the child's development. No children are allowed at the course.

The course was quite helpful. Basically, the instructors showed the parents the various exercises and activities that can be done with the child at home (flashcards, memory games, image training, dots programme, etc.) and explained some do's and don't's. The course ended with some sharing by senior Shichida parents and a question-and-answer session.

It is through these courses and sharing sessions with other parents that the parents can find out more about the Shichida Method (the philosophy, the science behind the method, the parents' role, etc.) and how to practise the Method at home. This teaching is not done during the child's weekly class as the focus has to be on the children during the class.

Practicing the exercises at home is essential to bringing out the child's inner abilities. A class once a week is not enough. Of course, the Method is not just about flashcards and memory games which are introduced in the weekly classes. It's also about how the parent talks to the child, how the parent encourages the child and how the parent always focuses on the positive in the child. This philosophy of creating an intimate bond between the parent and the child is the foundation of the Shichida Method.

The flashcards and memory games and other exercises may actually be the easier part of the Method for those parents who otherwise find it difficult to interact with their child. Having said that, it is a great effort to do all the exercises at home, planning the exercises and games, buying and making your own materials, renewing and revamping frequently. It takes a very committed parent to stay the course and I hope that I will be such a parent.

We drove up to KL the day before Ryan's birthday and stopped for lunch when we reached the city. Here's Ryan sitting in the HIGH chair at the restaurant. The sides came up to his shoulders! We thought it was a safety feature but the chair is not safe at all. Ryan quickly figured out that there was no restraining strap so he promptly stood up in the chair and we couldn't get him to sit down again.

Ryan loves playing with coins. Here he is, checking out his uncle's stash of spare change.

Eating his birthday cake at his birthday dinner.

The morning after his birthday party

Swimming at the new condo with his cousin, Malcolm. This new condo is in the PJ suburbs where I grew up. Construction has just been completed and we collected our keys on Ryan's birthday (we were joking that it is our birthday present to Ryan, hehehe). Our unit is still empty (it doesn't even have lights). We're discussing renovation and furnishing ideas now. Hopefully we'll be able to move in by April and rent out our present place in the heart of KL.

One of his favourite games - twirling the steering wheel. He was a little nervous about Cookie Monster being so big and so close (and taking up most of the space) so I gave the big blue fella a couple of whacks to show him who's the boss and after that, Ryan was fine.

Catching up on sleep with daddy on Sunday morning.

Brunch at the famous Yut Kee Coffee Shop before the drive home on Sunday. The place was packed and even when we managed to get a table, we had to share it with a young couple.

Drove back just in time for Shichida class - Richard drove straight to the class from the immigration checkpoint. Here's Ryan in class with his homework all completed and ready to hand up. I'm not saying that his daddy did his homework for him, no no, I'm not saying that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ryan's birthday dinner

Ryan's 1st birthday was celebrated on the day itself, the 22nd of January 2010. We had a 10-course sit-down Chinese dinner with some of our relatives at Grand Imperial Restaurant, Plaza Damas. As Terri put it, "A very dignified way to turn one".

We had been mulling over how to celebrate this special 1st birthday, whether to do a babies' party with other babies, a get-together with our friends in Singapore, etc. I love the idea of having a themed party, with a fantasy cake, elaborate decorations and great entertainment for the kids. We have attended and enjoyed several of such parties and I can't wait to organise one for Ryan - I've got so many ideas in my head!

However, in the end, as this is Ryan's very 1st birthday, we decided to focus on what we felt would make the day most special to Ryan, which was gathering the people who love him the most and ensuring that he was the centre of attention. Once we decided on that, all the decisions were simple. What the cake looked like wasn't important - we wanted people to look at Ryan, and not the cake, when singing Happy Birthday (although the cake was lovely!). The decorations were also not essential - Ryan was what everyone wanted to see. Entertainment was unnecessary - the kids (Ryan's cousins) were completely enamoured with Ryan and we didn't want anything to detract from Ryan.

We kept the dinner small - we invited only our relatives who were in KL at the time and everyone we invited turned up. My mother flew in from Sydney a few days ago so that she could be here for Ryan's birthday. Jimmy closed his clinic early so that he could make it. Everyone was happy to see each other and conversation flowed easily. Laughter was a constant and the feeling was cozy and warm. The restaurant put us in a private room (with an ensuite!) and we played a slideshow of the photos from Ryan's photoshoot with Annie la Rue on the TV.

Mary bought the lovely cake - we didn't know what the cake would look like until we arrived at the restaurant. We told Margaret and Mary that any design would do as Ryan doesn't have a favourite character or colour. In the end, the baker made all sorts of characters - there's Pocoyo, Cookie Monster, KeroKeroKeroppi, Hello Kitty, Barney, Piglet, etc. We asked Ryan to choose a favourite but he preferred the green Happy Birthday lettering instead!

Ryan didn't have to sit in his high chair for more than ten minutes the whole dinner. Everyone was eager to have their time with him and he was constantly hugged and kissed and admired. Half the time, he was laughing out loud from fooling around with his older cousins who simply adore him. He was surrounded by so much love, I was so happy for him. He was the star of the night.

Happy Birthday Baby!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Big One

He flaps his hands when he's excited and arches his back when he's mad. He stuffs his finger into his mouth when he's happy. He raises one eyebrow when he's perplexed. He's not sure about balloons but feels pretty happy when he sees himself in the mirror. He stares a lot. When we're sleeping, he hugs me with one arm and one leg and sometimes places a loving foot on his daddy's face. He kicks off his blanket and pulls at his long sleeves. He gives a delighted squeal when I appear after a day at the nanny's. He loves playing with water, whether it's relaxing at the Baby Spa or paddling in the swimming pool, bathing or showering, or even sticking his hand into his cup to try to grab a fistful of his drink. He grabs at the racks of clothes when we go to the shops and won't let go of the hangers. He likes taking long walks in his daddy's arms. He regularly launches into monologues and soliloquys complete with expressions and actions, befitting of an actor on stage. He's getting more fond of his solids, but mummy's milk is still the best. He adores people and toys with faces and tries to engage everyone in conversation. He really likes the dog and the cat although they're a little wary of his grabbing hands. His sleepy face blossoms into an incredible smile when he wakes up from a restful nap. He either swats at me or massages me when he nurses. He dislikes anything on his head - hats, hoodies and beanies are firmly cast off. He knows when the car trip is over and cries if his daddy doesn't come around to the back of the car to get him. He'd rather skip his naps than miss an adventure. He knows how to call me Mama and daddy Papa. His smile gets me everytime. He's turned my world upside down. I have nothing but love love love for him.

And he's one year old already? I must have blinked.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another day in paradise

Today was another activity-filled Saturday. We attended baby Crystal's 1st birthday celebration in the afternoon which was a lovely outdoor affair at the Icon.

After that, it was tubbing at the Baby Spa in Northpoint. After about 20 minutes of inspecting all the toys and being buoyed about by the jacuzzi spray, Ryan tried to climb out of the tub (while still wearing his waist float) - he grabbed the side of the tub with both hands and started walking his feet up the side - so we took it as a sign that he'd had enough.

Richard then took us to Sembawang Park. It was my first time there and, before today, I did not know that there is a natural beach there with a fantastic view of the Johore Straits. After a short walk about, we had al-fresco dinner at Beaulieu House, a colonial-style building next to the beach. I like the place - it's quiet and peaceful and the beach is not crowded. The weather was excellent - there was a good breeze and the air was light and fresh. Lovely.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Party! Party! Party!

It's Monday again. A chance to recover from our hectic but enjoyable weekend. Apart from Ryan's classes, we had some parties to attend and our social calender was very full. Here are some photos from the weekend.

Brayden's 1st birthday celebration (lovely photos taken by Kenny Leow)

Zethan's 1st birthday celebration

Junius's 1st month celebration - Angelynn's confinement lady was Mei Kuen, who was my confinement lady last Jan/Feb, so we got to meet up with Mei Kuen again and show Ryan to her.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


We attended a trial swimming session with Aquaducks. Ryan enjoyed it immensely so we will be signing him up for the present term.

Here are some photos of the session!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's the big deal Mummy?

Earlier this evening, Max was babysitting Ryan and I took my eyes off them for five seconds to pick up the remote control. When I looked up, Max had run up the stairs and Ryan was making his way up after Max. I crept up behind Ryan and watched him. I didn't say anything and I tried to be as quiet as possible because I didn't want to break his focus - but he wasn't having any difficulty at all and so I had enough faith in his prowess to step away for another two seconds to grab my camera. He made it up the whole flight of stairs without breaking a sweat.

Looks like Ryan's been ready for some time now, we just haven't given him the opportunity to show off his skills. He is heavily supervised around the house, he is never left alone, we love to hold him and carry him. So, other than when he's in our bedroom (which is also his bedroom), he isn't let loose very often. Increasingly, I have noticed that he does want to move about, crawl around, pull himself to a standing position, explore and find out more about his surroundings, so recently I have consciously been giving him a lot more crawling time when he's downstairs (that's when Max gets to help with the babysitting).

Richard and I don't track Ryan's physical milestones very closely. We can't remember exactly when he started flipping over, when he started crawling, when he got his first tooth, when he started picking things up with a pincer grip, when he first said "Mama" and "Papa", when he started standing up, etc. Those details are a blur to us. What we know is that he'll be walking and talking and have all his teeth by the time he's three. Or five. Or eight. It's all good.

I was recently reading a post on Florinda's blog where she'd quoted some information from Dr Sears about babies starting to walk and how the temperament of babies affects when and how they approach their physical milestones.

"Babies with easier temperaments often approach major developmental milestones more cautiously. Since crawling is speedier than walking anyway, confirmed crawlers are content to zip around on the floor like miniature racecars and show no interest in joining the tall and busy world. Late walkers are more likely to be content to entertain themselves with seeing and fingering fun than with motor accomplishments. A late walker goes through the crawl-cruise-stand-walk sequence slowly and cautiously, calculating each step and progressing at his own comfortable rate. When he does finally walk, he walks well. The early walker, on the contrary, may be the impulsive, motor-driven baby who has raced through each motor milestone before parents could get their camera ready. While there is no definite profile of early walkers, they tend to be high-need babies who early on left the lap stage and squirmed out of infant seats. Body type may also affect the age of walking. Lean babies tend to walk earlier. Early and impulsive walkers are often more accident-prone than their more cautious walking mates."

I don't know yet if Ryan is going to be a late walker but he has certainly approached his physical milestones with a lot of care and consideration. He takes his time to observe carefully how something is done, and when he finally attempts it, he executes it with perfection, as if it's second nature. For all his crawling around, cruising and climbing about on and over the couch, the bed, the stairs, etc., he has never tripped or fallen. Each hand and foot is expertly placed in the best position and we didn't have to teach him a thing.

In the same way, each new toy or item that he comes across is given a detailed examination before it is either saved or tossed. He assesses each new face before wholeheartedly issuing his infectious grin. Each new situation is thoroughly considered before he participates with full vigour.

I guess that means I'd better get myself ready for those first steps, because when they happen, they're going to be fast and furious.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some photos taken over New Year's

Driving up to KL

Swimming in the condo pool

Advance Mini Birthday Celebration for Ryan

Malcolm stayed overnight at our place and spent New Year's Day with us

Went to check out our new brand new condo which was just completed

Snapped a photo with Madam Kwan (in the straw hat)!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bye Bye 2009

It is our tradition to go back home for New Year's Day, not so much to start the new year but rather to close the old year. This year, we watched the fireworks from Margaret's place in KL as the clock struck 12 and we said goodbye to 2009.

Being away from Singapore at this time feels like taking a break from our obligations, our work, our daily toil. In Singapore, we are bound by routine, of laundry and dishes, milk and diapers, expenses and savings, going to and coming home from work. It's a not a rigid timetable, it's just a routine, but it is nevertheless a reminder that we are not (yet) master of our own futures, that we are still not done with the Big Plan, that we are racing for time - to save enough, to achieve enough, to do enough.

Being home at this time feels like a respite from the daily struggle, a reward for a year's worth of fighting the good fight. The days are lazy, carefree, we simply unburden ourselves and think of nothing in particular.

Last New Year's eve was slightly different however. My pregnancy was quite advanced and we decided not to go back to KL as we did not want to be far away from our gynae at that time. Put another way, we could not yet take our holiday as we still had 'unfinished business' - to give birth!

That evening, Richard and I drove out for dinner nearby. We left the gate open. Unnoticed by us, one of the doors in our house was also open and our dog, Max, managed to get out and ran all the way out, past all the houses and the condominiums, to the main road. When we came home and found Max missing, I was completely distraught. I was crying and sobbing (no doubt those preggie hormones contributed to my inconsolable state). Richard quickly made posters (we lost our cat once and Richard's posters got her back to us, but that's another story) and we put the posters up around the street. A security guard at one of the neighbouring condominiums saw us going around and recognised us. He told us that someone had picked Max up and left his mobile number with the security guard. To cut a long story short, we got Max back a few hours later.

The funny part about the story is that, as the clock struck 12 and the New Year came in, we were running up and down our street distressed and upset while our dog was at a countdown party with his new friend!

Thankfully, this time round, we have both our dog and our son with us. No countdown party but we did have an advance mini birthday celebration for Ryan - Margaret ordered a lovely cake and we blew out the candle on a great first year.

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