Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Updates on Rachel

Rachel had her jabs at the paediatrician this morning. At 18 months, she is 9.44 kg and about 78 cm tall.

Some information to share:

Rachel's nanny has been giving her some of Ryan's formula milk. She says that warm milk helps Rachel to sleep. As long as this does not affect Rachel's intake of solids, I don't have issue with this. I was, nevertheless, a little concerned about Rachel taking formula milk which is supposedly for 4 year olds, so I checked with Dr Ngiam on this. Dr Ngiam says it's not a problem. He told me that, formula milk for one year and above will yield the same benefits, despite all the marketing talk. (For infants below one year old on formula milk, they should take infant formula, and not formula/milk for older kids, as infants below one year old should not be taking full cream milk.)

So according to Dr Ngiam, no problem with sharing the formula milk since Rachel is already almost 18 months old. Since she is breastfed in the morning and at night, he says a bottle of formula is enough and if she doesn't want it, it's fine too, don't force her. (If not breastfed at all, he says two to three bottles of formula milk a day is enough.) Importantly, give her a good varied diet of solids.

At home, Rachel has been busy investigating, exploring and playing with/irritating her brother. I try to offer her sensory experiences and open-ended materials to play with, like the cardboard box (above) and the kinetic sand (below). Her small motor skills are excellent - she can feed herself with a spoon and she can even hold a pen correctly.

She loves holding her brother's hand and leading him on walks. It always puts her in a good mood (although Ryan is not always receptive!) and it is a cute sight to see the two of them hand-in-hand walking about.

In other news, we will be making some changes to the children's weekend schedules from next month/year. It's time to take stock and see what is working and what is not; and move on from the old so that we can make space for the new. I'll write an update soon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A morning with Ryan

"Come on, let's go!"

"Shall we go this way? It's a long and straight road."

"I can scooter really well. I'll show you!"

"What's this, Mama? What's it called? Is it sand? It's not the same."

"Are there fish here? Can we go fishing?"


"That's a fish head floating in the water. The fish is broken! Don't worry Fish, we'll find your body! Oh Body!!! Where are you, Body?!!"

"Is this a dinosaur? No...!"

"When you touch the touch-me-not, and the touch-me-not doesn't want to be touched, 
the touch-me-not will say, "Touch me not!"

"Hee hee."

"Touch-me-nots here! Touch-me-nots there! Touch-me-nots everywhere!"

"Hello, little touch-me-not."

"Mama, you and I are together. We will always stick together."

"What's that?"

"Breakfast time!"

"I'll take a picture of you, Mama. Remember I love you."

I love you too, baby boy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Some sweetness for the weekend

This edition of "Some sweetness for the weekend" is brought to you by Dancing Ryan.

Ryan is working on a shoot today, which should be fun judging by the stuff that he was asked to do at the audition for this job. As usual, I'll update you all when the final cut is released.

Ryan was supposed to have a picnic with his classmates in school today but it looks like some sacrifices have to be made. Actually, not really. Ryan is very happy to be out of school. His nanny asked him if he was going to school tomorrow and he protested, "I'm on holiday!"

These shots were taken sometime last month at an audition for a different job. These are not the audition shots. I took these shots on my phone while we were waiting for the cameras to be set up. Ryan was fooling around, as he does when he's in a good mood. He has been to this place for casting three times, so he is quite familiar and comfortable with the place.

I've got loads more shots but most are blurry as he was moving and jumping around non-stop. As you can see, he's quite a dancer. I've asked him before if he wanted to take up a class, but he wasn't interested. I guess, when you got it, you got it.

In these shots, Ryan is wearing one of his mama-made T-shirts, which I made using the Recess Raglan Tee pattern by See Kate Sew. I've made this t-shirt five or more times now and I love it. Such a quick sew - I can get from first cut to final stitch in under an hour. 

The shorts are from H&M and were bought by his nanny many years ago. They are size 12-18 months and Ryan wears them with the adjustable waistband buttoned to the smallest possible waist. Just goes to show how much space a baby's diaper takes up.


Weekend plans will hopefully involve putting up our Christmas tree and tidying up the house (we are expecting my uncle next week). Otherwise, things are looking like the usual. 

Have a great weekend. See you back here on Monday.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Little nuggets

I love looking around Ryan's classroom at his pre-school. I'm so curious about this life that he leads, which I'm not a part of. I want to know what he's been up to, the sights and sounds that surround him, the experiences that he goes through. I imagine him at each of the areas, playing and exploring, chatting with his friends, coming up with ideas and suggestions for extended play, and just being happy.

Other than that, I also want to make a mental note of the experiences and the materials that he uses. For example, when he was much younger, I toyed with the idea of getting him a mirrored surface to play on, and a light-table to explore materials with at home. His classroom has both, so I don't feel the motivation to buy these for the home anymore. In his classroom also, there are plenty of natural materials, like tree/branch rounds, feathers, shells, glass pebbles, glass squares, wooden spheres, as well as beads, buttons, wooden blocks, ribbons, wire, playdough, clay... the list is endless.

He does painting, arts and crafts, and all the sort of stuff that I would be doing with him at home if he were not in pre-school. If you've followed the blog for some time, you would have noticed that we used to do all these activities at home. Now we don't. Instead, at home now, we dedicate our time to other meaningful experiences which he would not have in pre-school. We even do a lot less reading, as he has quiet reading time everyday in school.

I should also add that, to me, the important benefit of going to pre-school is not that Ryan is able to do all these activities. Rather, it is that he is able to do these activities in a social group. He is able to bounce ideas off his friends and develop these ideas further. In these interactions, he learns how to treat others with respect and courtesy and consideration. He learns to give and take. He learns also to assert himself - he builds self-confidence when volunteering his thoughts and comments in a big group and he learns to tell someone "No" if he doesn't like something.

Ryan is also exposed to a rich mixture of other students' experiences and ideas. Every child brings a different perspective to the group, as they come from different families, different cultures. They go to different places for holidays, they celebrate different festivals, they have different personalities. 

Those are experiences and lessons which we would not have been able to give Ryan at home. 

This term, the children focused on storytelling. Among the many different things they did, they set up a storyline where one child would contribute a part of the story, the next child would continue the story and so on. It was a wonderful collaborative effort, and the different thoughts and ideas were refreshing. In the process, I would imagine that Ryan also became more confident in expressing himself among his peers.

My favourite thing in Ryan's classroom, however, is not the little creative projects that the children get up to ...

... and it's not the irresistability of the materials and the natural beauty that the children see everyday ...

it's this little tray of pebbles. 

I don't know exactly how these pebbles were introduced to the children, but the tray is now displayed together with a board recording what the children thought each word meant ("If you trust someone, they can play with your Buzz Lightyear"). In addition, and what struck me most were these beautiful, beautiful photos of the students hugging each other and grinning widely as they posed for the camera in groups. Different races, different cultures, arms over shoulders, happiness and joy radiating from each photo. I wish I could show you the photos, they're amazing. They are the representation of a perfect community - without bias, without prejudice, where everyone is accepting of each other and where everyone is kind to each other. If my son grows up with those qualities intact, and if he spreads those vibes to the people he meets in his life, that would be more than enough for me. As for the pebbles, they are the perfect reminder that the most important things in life are the little, simple yet enduring things.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In conversation with Ryan

Ryan and I have been having a few mother-and-son mornings lately. Just the two of us, taking life slow. Yesterday, we went to IKEA and, after breakfast at their restaurant, wandered through the whole store twice, chatting and holding hands as we walked.

Truly, Ryan is an excellent companion. He's interested in you and what you're doing. He even pays you compliments. He's nice to people you meet, whether it's a stranger or a friend, says hello and bye bye. He's very easygoing and goes along with whatever you want to do. Plus, he always has something to contribute to the conversation and it's usually funny.

Today, we had breakfast by the beach. I ordered my usual fried noodles and he asked, "Why does my Lady Leona always order this?" 

Heh heh. Don't ask. I have no idea, no idea at all. 

Some more snippets of our conversation today:

Ryan: I like being on holiday.
Me: Well, you're going to have a long holiday with mama and papa and mei mei soon. What would you like to do on your holiday?
Ryan: I want to fly on an aeroplane.
Me: Where to?
Ryan: I want to fly to Denmark.
Me: What are you going to do in Denmark?
Ryan: I'm going to buy some doughnuts. And then I'll fly on an aeroplane back to Singapore.
Me: What else is there in Denmark?
Ryan: I'll show you.
Me: What will you show me in Denmark?
Ryan: I don't know. Just doughnuts.

Doughnuts in Denmark. Love it.

A little later on:

Ryan: I'll get you some stuff for you to make things, mama. Some buttons, some curtains and some lights.
Me: Ok, thank you. Lovely. What about papa? Are you going to get him some stuff too?
Ryan: Yes. I'll buy him some stuff to play with. Some ABC toys, some 123 toys, some finger painting. And the Leapfrog learning phonics system. I'll buy him some paper ABC and some paper 123, and scissors to cut them out. One scissors for the paper ABC and one scissors for the paper 123.
Me: That sounds nice. What about mei mei?
Ryan: A new bed. With ABC pillowcase and ABC blanket.

Hee hee. Ryan is obviously applying the principle of, "Only buy gifts which you like". And, as you can see, he is still very much in love with the alphabet. In fact, when he woke up this morning, he told me that he'd dreamt that he was looking for letters of the alphabet, and he found the letters L, M, N, O and P.

Speaking of buying things, Richard and I have decided to buy Ryan some presents for Christmas this year. Would you be surprised if I told you that we don't usually buy him any presents for Christmas? Last year, we almost did, but gave the present away to one of his friends at the last minute. I know it sounds strange to some of you... I'll share more about our thinking another day. That's all for today!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rachel's handbag collection

I've mentioned before that Rachel loves handbags. She even knows the word "handbag". She insists on carrying a handbag on her arm whenever she can and whenever there is one available. She will even try to lug my big heavy handbag if that's the only one around.

Some months ago, I decided to make a handbag for her so that she would stop fiddling with mine! I hunted around for a pattern and decided on this one.

The fabric is flannel which I bought in a stack of quilting squares a long time ago from a quilt shop in Tanglin Mall. The fabric for the body of the bag and the fabric for the handle are actually different, but they go well together. For the lining, I cut up a laminated lunch mat from Daiso and, for the closure, I used grosgrain ribbon and a button from my stash.

This is the front.

This is the back.

This is the inside.

And this is how it looks on me!

Since I made this, Rachel has added two more handbags to her collection. More to come, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Being still

As the end of the year approaches, I'm feeling quiet. I haven't much to say and I haven't much motivation to say whatever little I have to say. I just want to be still. I want to stop thinking, stop planning, stop feeling stressed about what may or may not be. I just want ... stillness.

I typically feel this way at the end of each year. Things have come to an end and I withdraw into myself for a little bit. The year is done. As for the new year, nobody can really tell what it will bring, so there's little point in planning for it. There's nothing that has to be done. I don't have to show up, I don't have to represent. Right now feels like a moment suspended in time, when nothing happens. And I am grateful for it. Especially this year.

Parenting-wise, 2013 was the true beginning of the reality of having two children. Babydoll sat up, crawled and walked, and that was the start of parenting two. One more child means one more hand to hold as we cross the road, one more person to dress in the morning, one more person to put to bed at night, one more person offering fingers and toes for kissing, one more person asking for hugs. That's the good stuff. One more child also means one more tantrum to resolve, sibling fights, one more person making demands.

I'm not complaining at all. The good stuff always outweighed the bad and the bad stuff was never that bad. Having said that, it's not been an easy year. I don't have any specific memories of the bad stuff (forgetfulness is a blessing) but 2013 leaves me with the impression that it was a stressful year.

Many times, I felt as if I was the glue that held everything together, that I was the engine that kept things going. Most days I would just go through the motions without stopping to think. Just do whatever needs to be done. Then there would be that odd day when I would be feeling quite pissed off, tired and fed up, and wishing that, instead of me being the caretaker and the decision-maker, someone would take care of me for a change.

My favourite Christian hymn is "Be still and know that I am God". It really is my favourite - when I sing it in church, it brings tears to my eyes. I sing it to myself often, softly. It gives me momentary reprieve, a brief lifting and lightening of burdens, reassurance and a deep sense of calm.

To just be still and know that everything is ok. To stop rushing about from work to preschool to nanny to classes and just be still. To not have to plan ahead all the time - and we are not talking about college here, just the simple day-to-day things like making sure the water bottles are filled up or deciding when to put up the Christmas tree. To stop feeling like my house needs to be tidied up otherwise it will turn into a slum (it already has). To stop feeling the constant urge to check my social media feeds. To be able to have the luxury of a nap, or to oversleep in the morning, without the fear that something will go wrong because I'm not there to make sure it goes right. To have someone else notice that the leak in my roof is seeping into my wall and get it fixed. To be reassured that there's someone who is sharing the responsibilities and the burdens of life with me, so that things will be all right if I need a time out. To stop hearing the noise.

Being still. That's what I want right now.

[Photo above was taken by me at Pura Luhur, Uluwatu, Bali]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bali holiday 2013

Richard put together a magazine of some of the photos he took on his phone while on
our Bali family holiday. Have a look below, click through to see the photos.
If you can't see it here, click on this link to go to the Issuu site and see it there (full screen).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updates on Rachel and sewing

We're back from Bali and I wish we could say that we are happy and contented, but we didn't want to leave. It was so wonderful to be free of the day-to-day stress of our lives back home. Can't wait for our end-of-year holiday!

I'll do a short post on our trip after I've gone through our photos. I think in total there were at least five cameras shooting!

Rachel had a lovely time in Bali. She was a very good traveller. No fuss on the plane, to and fro. She was interested in and participated in our daytime activities - eating, swimming, sightseeing - and slept well at night. For meals, she nursed from the breast and ate whatever solid food we ate.

These photos were taken at our villa on Friday just before our relatives arrived. We arrived in Bali on Thursday and had a day and a half to ourselves before our relatives arrived late Friday afternoon. Rachel was well-loved by her relatives and she enjoyed every minute of it. She insisted on joining her older cousins in everything - swimming in the chilly pool late at night, swimming in the sea and playing on the beach under the hot sun, playing on the slides at Waterbom Bali, walking through the paddy fields at Sardine, sitting at the children's table with them, dancing with them, and generally, being one of the gang.

She charmed everyone with her girlish ways. She sat with her Aunty Margaret in the garden pavilion in our villa and looked on with curiosity while her Aunty Margaret put on her makeup. The next morning, she pouted her lips for her cousin Jerica to apply lip gloss. She picked out a small handbag at the souvenir shop, which her Aunty Margaret bought for her, and she paraded around with it for the next two days.

Development-wise, Rachel is expanding her vocabulary quite a bit now. She repeats a lot of the words that I say to her. She can say "bird bird", "apple", "duck duck", "bye bye", "dirty", "diaper", and quite a lot more. She is determined to learn to use her spoon and fork, and she is improving fast.

She still refuses to learn her ABCs, names of colours, and anything remotely academic. Love her attitude.

Okay, now let's talk about her mama-made outfit. The top is from a pattern called the Bimaa Sweater by LouBee Clothing. Both the floral and the mustardy-brown knit fabric were purchased in Chinatown. The floral is very light while the mustardy-brown is on the heavy side.

The pattern comes with three options for the neckline - the cowl-neck, the hoodie, and the shawl collar. This is the hoodie option. I made the cowl-neck option previously, which you can see on her in this post and also in the first photo in this post.  I made it in the 12 months size for the cowl-neck, but sized it up to 2 years for this outfit to account for the heavy mustardy-brown fabric.

The pants are loose-fitting drop-crotch harem pants, super comfy. I used a pattern called "The Best Harem Pants" by Too Sweets Patterns, but I had major problems with the fit the first time around - the waist was much too loose and the ankle cuffs were much too small. Unpicking the seams on this fabric was just too much work so I just sewed up a new one. That probably took me less time than if I'd unpicked the seams on the first one.

All's well that ends well. I think it looks pretty hip, and I might make a pair for Ryan - if my fussy man can accept this design. I put him in a sleeveless top the other day and he complained, "The sleeves are too short!" Okay, okay.

Anyway, this was a very comfortable outfit. Rachel wore the top on the plane ride to Bali and slept a good part of the way in it. More to come!

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