Thursday, October 31, 2013

A deal's a deal

In our house, we do not believe in punishment. I've talked before about how I abhor physical punishment. Similarly, we also do not impose non-physical punishments on our children. We don't deprive them of toys or treats, we don't tell them that they can't see their friends, we don't send them to a naughty corner (I did try the naughty corner and I didn't like it). 

In my view, punishment has the potential to create so many negative emotions in the child - fear, guilt, resentment, self-pity, regret, bitterness - and I know that's exactly the objective of some (not all) parents when they punish. To me, it fractures the relationship and the connection between the parent and the child.

Punishment is focused on the past - a penalty for an offence already committed, a penalty for disobedience. We prefer a forward-looking approach. Instead of focusing on retribution, we want to see how we can encourage the child to make better choices in the future. Punishment doesn't provide the child a way to make things right so it doesn't appeal to us.

We also don't ascribe to the belief that a child must "obey" or that a child must be "obedient". I don't have good vibes about that word, "obedient", when applied to children. I don't even think of myself as obedient. Instead of instilling obedience, we prefer to instill self-discipline. We want our kids to be motivated to make good choices, not out of obedience, but out of a desire to do what's best for everyone's welfare.

Some of you have emailed me to ask, how do I handle discipline then?

Well, there are a couple of components to our approach to discipline. The first is making the rules. The second is understanding the consequences of breaking the rules.

Making the rules is pretty straightforward - we do it democratically. A simple example is when it's bedtime and Ryan is still watching Youtube videos. I usually tell him, "two more videos" or "three more videos", whatever the number. Then, and this is the important part, he will say yes or he will nod his head in agreement. Once he has finished the agreed number of videos, he switches off his electronics and we go to bed. Sometimes we agree on a time period - five minutes, ten minutes. He might try to negotiate and I'll let him. Whatever amount of time we agree on, that's what we stick to.

The first one - using number of videos - is easy for Ryan to track, so once he has finished the agreed number, I don't have to remind him. On his own, unprompted, he will switch his iPad off and go to bed. The second one - using time - is less easy to track, so I normally will count down for him. So, for example, if we agreed on ten minutes, I will remind him that he has another five, then another two. Once his time is up, he will close shop without any fuss.

We have rules like "no snatching" and "no pushing". These are rules that were made when babydoll came along and yes, we had Ryan's agreement on these rules. We have other rules too - always hold hands in carparks and when crossing roads, no calling names (like "stupid"), no kicking the dog, etc. We don't have many rules, actually.  

The critical part of making a rule is that everyone involved must agree on it. If not, then there is no rule. I would love to make "eat your food" a rule, but that will never happen. But if you can get a "buy-in", then it's like an agreement, and the result of an agreement is that you do what's agreed because you agreed to do it. A deal's a deal.

So what happens when a rule gets broken? Well, in our house, nothing happens. All I do is remind him that he agreed not to snatch, not to push, etc. Knowing that he broke a rule, that he didn't do what he agreed, is enough for him to understand that he needs to stop his actions. It's like a code of honour.

The rules get broken all the time, to be honest. "No snatching", "No pushing", "No whining", "Use your words" - Richard and I repeat these rules all the time, because they are being broken all the time. That's ok. Failing to adhere to the rules is a sign that Ryan is practising making decisions. Sometimes he still gets it wrong and that's ok. I would not punish him for not knowing how to do math equations even after I've shown him more than twice. In the same way, I don't think of punishing him for breaking the rules. Mistakes will be made. Struggles will be encountered. All evidence of learning. 

The rules are actually based on logical and natural consequences. The logical and natural consequence of snatching something is that your playmate gets upset. The logical and natural consequence of not using your words is that nobody knows what you need and you won't get what you want.

So, where there are no established rules, we rely on natural consequences, whether pain or pleasure. When Ryan was little, he loved playing with drawers. Predictably, he managed to nip his fingers while closing a drawer. A painful lesson, but an effective one - he learned how to be careful when closing a drawer. Experience is the best teacher.

And so, 

- the natural consequence of pushing your playmate is that he/she is not going to want to be your playmate anymore. 

- the natural consequence of studying your poem is that you will feel good when you can recite it in class.


- not allowing him to see his friends because he refused to pack up his toys isn't a natural consequence. The two are completely unrelated. There is no logical link between the two.

- standing in the naughty corner because he scribbled indelible ink on my shirt isn't a natural consequence. Again, the two are completely unrelated. The punishment does not help the child to make sense of his actions.

- taking away a toy or a treat because Ryan hit his sister isn't a natural consequence. The natural consequence is that his sister is hurt and she may be crying (this sort of natural consequence may not be comprehensible to very young children who have yet to develop a sense of empathy).

There are times when we don't rely on natural consequences, most notably where safety is concerned. We buckle our kids into the car seats, no agreement needed. If they ask (they never have), we will tell them the natural consequence of not being buckled in. We certainly do not want them to experience these sort of natural consequences.

So, that is our approach to discipline. Pretty hands-off, but deliberately and mindfully so.

In penning off, let me share these two photos with you. They were taken in Ryan's classroom last term, when his class was exploring the meaning of "community". As part of that inquiry, the students discussed the concept of "responsibility". They came up with some explanations of the concept, which then became "Essential Agreements" for their class. They apply these "Essential Agreements" in their interactions with each other. This process is exactly what we have been doing at home.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Siblings - preparing for the new sibling

I mentioned last week that I would share some of our parenting approaches to managing our two little munchkins so for today's post, I'm going to talk about how we helped Ryan adjust to having a little sister.

Ryan was 3.5 years old when babydoll was born. When babydoll arrived, Ryan wasn't overcome with joy and he wasn't overflowing with brotherly love. Neither was he mean towards babydoll. He was actually quite unaffected, either way. I attributed his outlook to the fact that, throughout my pregnancy with babydoll, I never told Ryan that he was going to be a big brother, that he had to love his sister, that he had to look after her, etc. I know many (most) parents do all that and I'm not criticising them here; I just had different objectives.

First of all, I wanted our time together to be focused on the present. I did not want him to feel that (even before the baby arrived) I was stealing time away from him to focus on her.

Secondly, I did not want to impose any expectations on him nor stress him in any way about how he should treat his sister. I did not believe, and still do not believe, that I could dictate his feelings. It made no sense to me to oblige Ryan to love this person from the moment she appeared. If he does, great. If he doesn't, nobody can force it. I trusted him to find his own relationship with his sister. In the same vein, we did not buy a sibling gift for Ryan. I know many parents do and, again, I'm not criticising them. We just didn't feel right doing it.

Thirdly, I did not want to burden him with thoughts of change. I didn't want him to worry - sometimes things are more scary in our minds than they actually are. The things that were most important would not change (our love for him and his being a part of the family) and there was no need for him to think about the rest.

Underlying all my reasons was the fact that I myself did not know what it would be like once babydoll was born so I didn't feel right giving Ryan instructions and advice. To me, we would go through it together and learn together.

It may seem like we did nothing to prepare Ryan for babydoll's arrival but I actually think that we did prepare him for it. Instead of filling him with abstract thoughts and expectations of the future, we chose to use the time to focus on strengthening our bond with him and to give him a sense of security.

In the same way that we did not mention babydoll during my pregnancy, we also did not force babydoll onto Ryan at all when she arrived. We never asked him to hold her, to hug her, to kiss her. We never told him to wait because of the baby. We never asked him to pass us the wet wipes for changing Rachel's diaper when he was in the midst of watching a video. We never asked him to talk softly because the baby is sleeping (we would give other reasons). We just never imposed her on him. Basically, we let him discover babydoll on his own.

It was pretty easy to do, really. Babydoll was sleeping most of the time and when she was awake, she was content to play on her own. There was no need for any sibling interaction, no need to fight over toys, no need to push for space, no need to accommodate each other. We didn't force Ryan to take on brotherly duties - if we didn't make it an issue, there was no issue. People would ask me how Ryan was adjusting. I would say, there's nothing to adjust to, really, because they don't have to get in each other's faces.

An important thing that we did was to make sure that, if Ryan needed attention, he would have it. If I was carrying the baby and he needed me, I would put the baby down or pass her to Richard. If I could not (for eg. if I was nursing), I would still give Ryan the attention he needed - I would listen to him, talk to him, admire his projects, hug him close, whatever he needed. We didn't treat him any differently from when he was an only child.

Sometimes Ryan would ask for attention when he sensed that his sister was getting a lot of attention. Sometimes he would be whiny about it, sometimes he would throw a fuss. It was a clear expression of a need for reassurance and reaffirmation. A critical part of our approach was that we never punished him or made him feel bad. We always responded with as much love and reassurance as he needed. We acknowledged how he felt and reassured him that nothing had changed for him. It always worked. He always regained his happy composure quickly.

So, from Ryan's point of view, his world didn't change much, at least not in the ways that would have mattered to him. He felt no threat, no stress, no insecurity, no unhappiness. As a result, there was no change in his behaviour. He was the same, happy boy he had always been.

This is not to say that Ryan and his sister led separate lives. We did not keep Ryan away from babydoll or vice versa. Quite the contrary, in fact. Babydoll was an inseparable, albeit a latent, part of his life, even if he didn't realise it at that time. I would say that this was another important part of our approach. I wanted to ensure that Ryan never felt like an outsider and that, conversely, he never got the impression that his sister was an outsider. If Ryan wanted to sit next to her, he could. If Ryan wanted to touch her, he could. If he wanted to play with her things, he could. If he felt like ignoring her, that was fine too.

Ryan watched me talking to babydoll, hugging her, carrying her, feeding her, singing to her. Sometimes I would talk to him about her. Not to instruct him on how he should feel towards her or what he should do, but just to tell him little stories about her or explain what she was doing or what I was doing with her.

Gradually, as time went by, the new family dynamic became the norm. Ryan accepted that it was going to be the four of us now and he accorded babydoll her place in the family. Now he is fine if I tell him that I can't attend to him straightaway because I need to finish something with his sister. Sometimes I ask him to hold her hand if they go walking and he's perfectly happy to do that. He's good about sharing his snacks and food with her. Basically, things have fallen into place on their own.

I can't say that our method will work for everyone, but it worked for us, so I hope it gives you some ideas and some inspiration if you are in the same situation. Whichever way you choose, I guess it boils down to ensuring that your older child does not feel threatened or stressed about the new arrival, allowing your older child to express his/her feelings about the new arrival (however they may choose to express them) and respecting their feelings about the situation.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sewing for Ryan - Jacob pants from Zonen 09

It's going to be a patchy blogging week, folks, as you would have detected by now. I am enjoying having Ryan on holiday and we are busy, busy, busy - too much fun to get to, too little time! Ryan goes back to school next week so things should normalise then. 

In the meantime, I wanted to share some photos of these green pants that I sewed for Ryan recently. 

I asked Ryan what he would like me to sew for him next and he said a pair of long pants. I asked him what colour? and he said green, which he says is his favourite colour. And that was how these pants were born.

These are the Jacob pants by Zonen 09. Zonen 09 is a Belgian company creating sewing patterns for boys. I absolutely love this pattern - quite an easy sew yet the details give the pants a very professional finish. I felt really accomplished when I finished them.


The cut is slightly bootleg, which is a breath of fresh air for me, after sewing so many straight and skinny cut pants. I love the retro vibe!

My favourite detail, and perhaps the distinguishing feature that make the Jacob pants instantly recognisable (other than the cut), are the pintucks running down the pant legs, both front and back.

I added blue piping along the front pockets. Richard made the two blue buttons for the back pleated pockets. 

I chose the false fly option, with a closed waistband. I might try the zipper fly option next.

Gosh, the photos are crappy! They were taken in poor light and Ryan Would.Not.Stop.Dancing! No biggie, you'll probably see these pants on the blog again, hopefully in more flattering light.

Ok, back to our holiday! We are planning a small outing on Friday night with friends. Hope the weather holds!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Snippets on Ryan

Ryan is on holiday from school and has been spending some time with me in the office. Interestingly, my colleagues have noted that, compared to the last time they saw him, he is much more chatty and comfortable with strangers now. He had long conversations with my boss and by that, I don't mean just answering one-sided questions; there was a genuine to-and-fro going on between them. He went around the place saying hello to my colleagues and, when I had to go for a meeting, he sat quietly with my secretary and waited for me. He was polite and well-mannered - greeted everyone, said "nice to meet you" and "thank you for the biscuits". Everyone commented that he has blossomed into a really great kid. Makes the mother in me so happy to see him comfortable and confident.

This morning, as he awoke from his sleep, Ryan told me that he dreamed. This was the first time he had ever told me about his dreams. I've asked him a couple of times before and he always says he dreamed "nothing". So this was interesting - the fact that he realised that he dreamed a dream and recalled enough of it to be able to tell it to me. And what did he dream about? He dreamed about Mr Bean. Yes, Mr Bean has the honour of being in my son's dreams. Not Mama, not Papa. Mr Bean.

Ryan recounted his dream to me, but in his half-awake state, his sentences weren't coherent so I could only make out that Mr Bean was having one of his usual madcap and slapstick misadventures and that, at one point, Ryan held his palms up to Mr Bean and shouted, "Don't touch!" Ah, good stuff, good stuff.

We are making progress with Ryan's diet - we took a very tiny step forward last week when he agreed to eat half of a peanut butter wholemeal sandwich. It may not seem like much to most mummies, but in Ryan's world, it is a big deal. This is a boy who can distinguish a speck (yes, a SPECK!) of boiled chicken meat in his mouthful of noodles. He can separate the offending speck from the noodles (while everything is still in his mouth) before plucking it out with his fingers. After that, if he's feeling particularly offended, he will refuse the rest of the meal.

Methinks that this boy has the perfect skills to become a sommelier.

Ever since he graduated from his one-year Suzuki violin course, Ryan's schedule is quite open. He goes for 30 minutes of swimming on Sunday mornings and then he has Shichida in the afternoon. Apart from that, nothing else. We have no plans to send him for any "academic" enrichment classes. Nevertheless, we have been tossing around options for more physical exercise/sports. We also want to look into continuing his music lessons. We will keep our options open for a while more and decide next year. In the meantime, we'll be spending (more) time playing at home.

At home, we are not doing any regular academic learning activities. Unless Ryan has some Shichida homework to do, we prefer to let him spend time with his sister rather than do academic lessons. The two siblings are able and willing to play with each other now so we have this window for Ryan to learn to work things out, to learn patience and tolerance and understanding, to learn how each other's actions can affect the other, to learn how to stand up for himself in a way that is firm yet gentle, and so on and so forth. Babydoll loves to play with Ryan but she does challenge Ryan quite a bit so I think it is good for Ryan to use this opportunity to work out social parameters.

I'll write more about their sibling interaction later this week and share what our approach is when it comes to issues like sharing/snatching toys and pushing/rough play between the two of them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Trip to KL and Updates on Rachel


Yup, we spent the long weekend in Malaysia with our relatives. We drove up on Saturday afternoon and drove back on Tuesday evening. Ryan spent everyday with his cousins and was completely content to be left with them while Richard and I ran our errands with babydoll. When we dropped him off and Richard tried to escort him into the house, he stopped Richard and told him, "You stay outside". Heh heh. It was actually exam week for his cousins, but they made time for us, so that was really great. 

The most interesting development as regards babydoll is that she has started displaying some stranger anxiety. For sometime now, she can distinguish who are strangers and who are not and her usual reaction is to girlishly hide her face behind me when a stranger speaks to her (although not always). Recently, her reaction has been a little more pronounced. She doesn't seem "anxious" as in she doesn't whine or throw a fit when meeting a stranger. Rather, what she does is to stop in her tracks, go completely still, and slowly lower her head to look down. It's like a robot shutting down. It's very funny! The moment I call her, she will lift her head up and walk to me as if nothing had happened and as if I pressed a button to re-activate her. It's really, really funny.

She doesn't exhibit this reaction towards every stranger though, and I haven't sussed out what makes one stranger different from another. Here you can see her sitting down with a complete stranger at the bookstore. She saw this boy and, completely unprompted, sat down and pulled out a book to read. She wouldn't leave despite me asking her a couple of times to move on to the next rack.

Babydoll is, more and more, showing us that she is a quick learner. She also reminds us that our actions speak louder than our words - she learns and copies our actions so quickly. For example, after her meals, she will take a tissue and wipe her mouth. When I sit down with Ryan to do some writing, she will want to sit down and pick up a pen to scribble. She is starting to use the spoon to eat. She can flip the pages of a book like a seasoned reader. She knows where her shoes should be kept, she points to the playroom when she wants to play, she points to the fridge when she wants her yoghurt. All these actions were not deliberately taught to her by us. She just observed us going about our day-to-day activities and copied us on her own.

Here she is, insisting that she carry my handbag. This was just before she slung it on her shoulder and, when it wouldn't stay there, she carried it in the crook of her elbow with her hand up in the air. Like a pro. Looks like I have to get her a bag of her own.

In the photo above, Rachel is wearing the latest mummy-made addition to her wardrobe. I'll show you better photos of it next time. I was rather pleased that about half of the clothes that I packed for her for our trip consisted of clothes made by me. Such a great feeling to see all those clothes in her luggage.

That's all!

Last Friday was Community Day at Ryan's pre-school. The celebration was supposed to be a picnic on the school grounds but the rain put paid to that plan. The rain couldn't stop the festive mood though and the parties went on in the classrooms. The photos in this post were taken in Ryan's classroom during the party.

The students were encouraged to come in cultural or national dress. I knew that Ryan would have wanted to don his Chinese traditional outfit but it is a little small for him now (plus he has worn it so many times) so I pulled out his kurta instead. After three years, he now fits properly into it.

Two weeks ago, Richard and I had a meeting with Ryan's pre-school teachers for this term's Parent Teacher Conference. He has three class teachers, one of whom is a Mandarin teacher. All three expressed that they were so happy to have Ryan in class and that they are impressed with him in many aspects.

We started the meeting with a discussion on his Mandarin. His Mandarin teacher said that he seems to recognise many characters and his pronunciation is spot-on. We have received the same feedback from previous teachers so that did not surprise us. What did surprise us was hearing that Ryan is able to write the Chinese characters as well! His Mandarin teacher said that he is able to write them out precisely, stroke by stroke. Richard and I were flabbergasted! We have never taught Ryan how to write the characters so it is a complete mystery to us where he learned this. As with the mystery of the hanyu pinyin, this needs some investigation!

Ryan's Chinese teacher also mentioned that, although Ryan can converse in simple Mandarin, he only does so when he is conversing with her. She gives him no choice as she does not speak any English to him (although she does understand and can speak English). She suggested that we should try to set aside some time with Ryan at home during which we converse with him in Mandarin.

We asked if we should send him for Mandarin classes to give him more exposure. She was adamantly against it. She said that it would not make a lot of difference unless we "bring home" the language. Mandarin enrichment classes is more for learning the language and in Ryan's case, his knowledge of the language is already quite good. The issue, rather, is that, to Ryan, Mandarin is a language that is only used in school with his Mandarin teacher. Sending him for enrichment classes will simply give him another school and another teacher. It will not truly encourage him to use the language in his everyday life. His teacher advised that Ryan needs to see us using the language so that he can see that it is all right for him to also speak in Mandarin at home.

So I've been trying to sneak in some Mandarin words here and there and, recently, when Ryan goes to his usual fruit stall, he thanks the shopkeeper in Mandarin! Completely unprompted, he says "xièxie". I was so stunned the first time that I actually asked him, "Pardon? What did you say?" So, small steps forward.

Ok, back to the meeting with his teachers. After we discussed his Mandarin, we talked about other stuff generally. His core teacher said that everything is fantastic and there is just one thing that they would like to work on with him, which is to be more assertive. They all told me that Ryan is so gentle with his classmates, even when he is obviously uncomfortable. They had to teach him to hold up his hand and say, "Stop, I don't like that." The first few times, he said it so softly and gently that he might as well not have said it at all. The first time he actually stopped a classmate in a firm voice, he got a high-five from his teacher!

His core teacher mentioned that, in the same vein, they are also working on giving Ryan the chance to voice his ideas while in a large group. She said that Ryan is not shy because in smaller groups he is quite unrestrained. In big groups however (and we are talking when the whole class gathers together), he does not always volunteer his ideas. So the teachers consciously make the effort to ask Ryan what his view is or whether he has any ideas or if he wants to add on to his classmate's suggestions. I asked if we could do anything at home to help with this and the teachers said no, this is something that only they can work on because they have the big group dynamic in class.

His core teacher said that Ryan's ideas are always very impressive. In her words, "his ideas are very sophisticated" and "Ryan can single-handedly drive our inquiries with his ideas". We have received similar feedback from his previous class teacher so, not too surprising, but nevertheless such words are always, always wonderful to hear.

The teachers are all impressed with his reading skills and they told us that Ryan is regarded as "the expert" on reading among his classmates. If there is something that needs reading, Ryan is the one to do it and he is always happy to help his classmates out.

No issues with his social skills and his interactions with others. He is doing really well.

We also shared some funny stories about Ryan and it is wonderful to know that there was so much love for him among the five of us.

Ok, one last photo. Here, Ryan is holding a meter rule and, as you can see, Ryan is just a little taller than a meter (he is about 103 cm). He is still the smallest student in his class. One of his classmates is a whole head taller than him!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some sweetness for the weekend

Hello friends, are you ready for the weekend? Richard and I have taken Monday off so, coupled with Tuesday being a public holiday, that's two extra days off work! Our plans won't be firmed up till tomorrow afternoon but it's going to be one of two alternatives: either we will be travelling or Ryan will be shooting a new advertisement. He had an audition yesterday and we are waiting to hear from his agent. Either way, we are looking forward to the next four days!

To send you off into the weekend with a smile, here's little babydoll flirting with her beloved owl. You may remember that Ryan has a giraffe. Well, Rachel has this owl. Let me know if you know where he lives! One hint: it's in the east of Singapore.

I love the last two photos - such a cheeky girl! Have a good weekend, all.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ask and answer

Hello friends,

A quick post today to respond to one of the comments on my post on Rachel's new meal plan. I felt that the commenter probably represented a good number of parents in Singapore so I hope that by posting my response here for everyone, it might provide some additional insight into our choices for Rachel.

This was the comment:

It is a whole new idea to skip formula milk during the day at any caregiver's place and on milk (bm) at night. Your PD gives a different perspective from what other PDs mention with respect to milk is a must for calcium needs.
Have you considered full cream fresh/UHT milk?
Sippy Cup vs Straw Cup - any difference on dental hygiene?


Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your comment, which I very much appreciate.

I'm flattered that you may have thought that I'm such an innovative person but really, it is not a whole new idea to rely on breastmilk and solids at this stage when Rachel is coming to 16 months. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up till 6 months and then breastfeeding with other food up till two years. The plan is to progress from (1) breastmilk to (2) breastmilk and solid foods then (3) to solid foods by the time she is two. This plan is, in no way at all, a whole new idea and it is in no way an idea that I came up with. Believe me, I won't do something like this unless I have researched the hell out of it. You can do some reading on this. Weaning, nutrition, there's so much information readily available.

I acknowledge it's not the norm in Singapore not to buy formula milk but to me, it's more of a cultural habit. Our son, Ryan, is on breastmilk and formula milk, so we are very much adopting the habit in his case and we are certainly not rebelling against the cultural norm, although I will say that, if Ryan was more interested in solids, we would definitely be relying less on formula milk. We just didn't have much of a choice in his case.

Having said that, I have to disagree when you say milk is a "must" for calcium needs. The "must" is the calcium and the vitamin D, not the milk itself. Milk is a good source of calcium but it is not the only source available. Not everyone is able or happy to take milk so it can never be a "must" otherwise these people would be severely malnourished! Milk is a convenience, because milk is so readily available and such a rich source, but again, not a "must". There are many other sources of calcium in food - yoghurt, cheese, soy, bread, fortified orange juice, etc. and for older children, supplements can be considered. Again, you can do some reading on this. Lots of information available.

My PD is not the only PD with this view, I'm sure, because it's a scientific fact which is undeniable - milk is not the only source of calcium. I'd be interested to know who the other PDs you mentioned are who believe that milk is a "must" for children of Rachel's age because they would be misinforming the parents and, frankly, scaring them. I wouldn't be consulting such PDs on anything - who knows what other misinformation they are disseminating.

Incidentally, my gynae also shares the same view as our PD. My gynae goes one step further to say that dairy milk is actually harmful to humans, whether infants or adults. He even removes the samples of formula milk from the free goodie bags that promoters leave at his clinic for his patients! Heh heh. 

As for fresh milk/UHT, yes I considered it and ruled it out.

As I mentioned previously, I'm not against milk or dairy products. My son, Ryan, is on formula milk (and breastmilk). I myself enjoy a milky cup of Milo and, when I have tea, it is always with milk. It was simply that, in Rachel's case, for various reasons which I outlined in my post, we felt that this arrangement would be best. It compels us to move forward and to progress, whereas Ryan has truly hit a brick wall in terms of his diet. Your child may be different, your circumstances may be different and I am in no way saying that all parents should do the same. I do, nevertheless, want to clarify that this plan of ours not to rely on formula milk is supported by tons of nutritional research and is, in fact, the norm in many countries. It takes a little more effort, given our usual Asian diet, but I don't mind that.

With regard to sippy vs the straw, both are only temporary measures until the child learns to use a regular cup, so in terms of dental hygiene, I would not be worried if I clean her teeth regularly. If you need to compare, straw cups are better than sippy cups for dental hygiene and for teeth development. Rachel is currently using a straw cup for water at her nanny's and at home. We are training her at home to use a regular cup as well so once she is good with it, she can use a regular cup if she wants milk (or other beverages) at her nanny's place. 

Hope that clarifies.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quick catch-up

Here's a quick photographic round-up of the last two weeks. 

We split the kids up for bedtime and they are reunited in the morning when they are still asleep/semi-awake in bed. Normally the kids carry on sleeping while the adults get ready for work, although sometimes they wake up anyway and pull us from slumber. That's when we are greeted by two sunshine smiles. Love it.

Babydoll's hair is curly, curly, curly. I'm looking forward to seeing it go past her shoulders - I'm sure it will be gorgeous.

Babydoll has been expressing her fashion sense lately. See this photo below - Richard initially dressed her in this top and a pair of yellow pants. Babydoll went right back into her wardrobe and rummaged around until she found this plaid skirt. She brought it to us and asked to be changed into it. I do think the skirt looks much nicer as part of the outfit! This girl has a good fashion eye!

Since that time, I try to present her with options when I'm dressing her. She always, always chooses the more girly one. Like this dress (which was a gift from her Aunty Mary).

And this dress too. Girly right?

We spent an enjoyable evening with Alicia, Chris and Brayden two Sundays ago. They bought some black pepper crabs from Eng Seng for our dinner and we had lots of laughter playing board games. Ryan's strategy was completely absent but he somehow managed to win most of the games. Beginner's luck, I think!

Richard and I had a peaceful and satisfying dinner at Crab in da Bag at Big Splash. This was after our parent teacher conference at Ryan's preschool last week and before we went to fetch the kids from the nanny. It was our first time at this restaurant and it was good - we'll be back!.

I'll tell you more about the parent teacher conference in another post. For now, let's focus on the crab! This is the "before" photo.

And this is the "after" photo. As you may notice, we don't eat the crab roe so next time we'll ask for the male crab.

One of Ryan's friends had a birthday party last Saturday. It was a bowling and swimming party at the Chinese Swimming Club, with a spot of dancing in between. Ryan enjoyed himself so so so much. It was supposed to be "drop-off" so we stuck around for a short while to watch him bowl and then we went off for about an hour or so (for Rachel's Heguru and for me to go to the supermarket). Shortly after we left, Ryan called me (on the host's mobile phone) to tell me to come back! He was quite nervous without us and I think that most of the parents actually stayed on. The host assured me that he would be fine and that he just needed to hear my voice. They started up the dancing and singing segment right after that and, when we came back shortly after, the host told me that Ryan was so excited to sing and dance! Apparently, he confidently grabbed the microphone, put on some sunglasses and busted some moves! I asked him later what song he sang and he said "Gangnam Style"!

When we got back to the party, the kids were already in the pool. Ryan had a blast there! He was the absolute last person to leave the pool and only because he thought we were leaving without him (actually we were just walking back to the bowling area to find his shoes). It was a fabulous party - Happy 5th birthday to Leila!

On Sunday, we overslept and missed Rachel's Shichida class, while Ryan barely made it for swimming. For lunch, we visited the farmer's market at Pasarbella at The Grandstand. After a disappointing experience at the farmer's market at Dempsey, I was looking forward to much better offerings and this time, I was not disappointed. Worth the trip - do go if you can. We ate at Oceans of Seafood which is towards the back. It serves a wide Japanese seafood menu (the sashimi is supposedly very good) and a limited but good Western seafood menu (go for the fish and chips).

Last but not least, while we were shopping in the supermarket last Sunday, Rachel spotted this!

And yes, it was Rachel who spotted it before any of us did. She pointed to it and said "papa". Errr... she doesn't know how to say "Ryan" or "korkor" (big brother) yet, so we'll accept that! If you see Ryan's poster in Cold Storage, give it a secret wink, won't you?

That's all!

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