Wednesday, December 30, 2015

That (resolution) time of the year

what are you looking at?


The disturbing image above is us attempting to have brunch at a very popular cafe last Saturday, kindly refer to resolution number one for more details.

--

Do you write New Year resolutions? Why? Why not?

I've been doing them since I got into the practice of journal-ling awhile back. Certainly, many go by unresolved, or even forgotten as the year goes by. But there are still, more than a handful of success stories that I can profess to, and so I resolutely plunge in once again.

After doing them on the last week of every year, it sort of grows on you. So here I am again, pen poised over yet another soon-to-be mangled journal (I journal everywhere. Don't ask.) and prepare to write my resolutions for the new year. In the end, I reckon, even if they don't all get fulfilled, at least I had a good start.


Here are a few I've already decided on -

Monday, December 28, 2015

Firsts Frenzy (the Christmas post)

what do you mean its over?


Firsts are seriously overrated.

Every. Single. Thing is a first for a baby. Obviously.

But I'm terrible at documenting. When did she first suck her thumb? Go on her tummy? Roll over on her own? Who did she first smile at? What did she first grab? And the obsession with firsts is probably going to last till she's how old? I don't want to know.

Despite all my lamenting, there are several firsts I do want to document. Like her first swim and her first overseas trip etc. And of course her first Christmas.

Suffice to say, Christmas is a HUGE THING when you have a kid. Not that it's a small deal in itself. I mean every one morphs into smiley, relaxed people-like human beings during the Christmas season. Let's not forget the family, the feasting and the holidays.

But when you have a child, Christmas just explodes.

Get a tree! Wrap all the presents! Buy party hats! Dress her up! Order food!

So many imperatives, so little time.

This is a summary of her first Christmas...


Her grandmother's handiwork

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Unconditional Love. Really?

Protecting my mum and her breakfast


The aftermath of being a new parent to a new baby is being told what to do. Of late, the main topic is learning. Is she learning to crawl yet? Can she sit up on her own yet? Is she able to soothe herself to sleep? Has she learnt to sleep through the night? And so on...

At this very moment, she isn't learning anything in particular. She's calmly taking yet another nap, arm upraised and her tiny mouth agape. I don't see a need for her to learning each time she's awake either, but that's probably for another post.

As I receive advice on how I ought to aid my daughter's learning, I find that I am the one learning from her instead. And in this very loving and caring Christmas Season, I'd like to reflect on one of these lessons from humblet...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Baby Bumps: No Plan B


four month old
 

     Today marks humblet's fourth month with us. I'm still unsure when she cries, despite dozens of reassurances that mothers always know. I'm also still unsure about being able to work from home, seeing how clocking ten hours a week seems like a miracle in itself, much less twenty.

But I am increasingly certain that this little chubby ball is my daughter. The way she grimaces when people try to take a photo of her, or the raised eyebrow and her default frown. More recently she's displayed a preference for sleeping on her side and talking animatedly to her friend in the mirror. Most definitely my daughter.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Books for babies?

this pretty book by JIMI LEE

     
     One thing that keeps me sane as a full time mum (who isn't) is a routine. Predictable nap times and feeding times, increasingly consistent poops and evening bath times with dad. The newest edition to humblet's is of course swimming sessions, but it's getting hard with the monsoon rains. Nonetheless, as much as babies thrive on routine, mothers too need some pattern to rest, to breathe and to eat.That being said, some days are completely thrown off... They are characterised by tantrums, biting and all round grumpiness, I label them 'humblet's evil twin' days.


     A trip to the library once every two weeks is one part of this routine I love. 


Reading is a huge part of my life, perhaps it's an English Teacher thing, but I'd like to think it's books themselves that attract me above and beyond my job. In my leisure time (which has evaporated) I could spend hours curled up in bed with a book and a pot of coffee. 

When humblet came along, I just naturally incorporated books into her routine without second thought. Until friends and family starting teasing me that is. 'Can she even see?' 'Are you trying to make your child a genius?' 'Why bother?'

So I started thinking about it - why read to babies? 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your First Swim




Dearest Humblet,

As your mum, I feel I should tell you that against the advice of many many people I brought you to swim for the very first time on your hundredth day.

Your father and I had more ordinary plans initially. A cake we thought? Or a family outing to a park somewhere. But alas, an opportunity presented itself and we took it.


I was gently informed you might get chlorine poisoning, or that your skin might break out in rashes. Worst still I was told, babies had extremely thin skin and could get sunburnt even on a cloudy day. Others shared their horror stories of their little ones who caught colds or drank too much pool water and got sick. One even shared how her baby almost drowned. I shuddered at the thought as I packed your little strawberry print hand-me-down swim pants.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Saturdays: Humblet's toys

a few of her favourite things


Humblet has a huge array of toys, ranging from her toes to sophisticated rattles which promise to train a baby's hand-eye coordination or something like that. Playtime at home is a serious affair and it is compulsory to include laughing, giggling and having fun.

Having a child of my own reinforces my belief that store-bought toys are overrated and that we underestimate our children's ability to create, to imagine and self-entertain. 

The subject of my research is none other than little humblet of course - 


Since discovering her hands, she's been going at them with a vengeance. I catch her at times ferociously attempting to stuff both fists in her mouth or trying to smear her saliva evenly over her entire face. Of late, her new trick is accidentally grabbing things in her vicinity. Towel, rattle, stuffed toy etc. And needless to say, they all head right into her mouth. 


Like any other parent, I want the best for humblet and this certainly involves giving her toys. 


Her favourites include a paper towel roll, a glass bottle of green beans and a ribbon which came with a gift box. The roll we use when we want to tell her a secret, and we whisper these quietly through the tube making her giggle and squirm. The green bean shaker we use to get her attention and the ribbon we hang up for her so she can practice grabbing it while her diaper is being changed.

But the ultimate toy (not featured in the picture because it was probably being used) is a 1.5 litre empty mineral water bottle. Best equipment ever! All parents with newborns should get one! I cannot even begin to tell you about it's amazing features. It's a wonderful percussion instrument, it's lightweight and easily available. Most of all it stops a baby from crying instantly! I kid you not. Grab a ballpoint pen and run it up and down the ridges of the bottle and the baby stops instantly!!! Stop reading this and go get one!

--

Some friends come over and are unable to hide their surprise when they see humblet playing with an empty cereal box. Other friends tell me outright, 'can you not be such a cheapskate?' Yet others quickly offer to buy her real rattles, real mobiles. . . real toys they say. 

--

Will I ever allow humblet to play with 'real toys'? 

Certainly. But she shows me everyday that everything around her is fun and can be used for playtime. For humblet, practicing sitting up is fun, singing is fun and lying on a blanket is fun. The keys in my pocket is a rattle, the wooden coasters on the dining table are castanets and the fruits in the kitchen are fantastic for exploring different shapes, sizes and textures.

Why do I want to restrict her by creating in her a need for toys when she has her chubby hands and long feet as well as her squeaky voice to entertain herself with? Why do I need to constantly engage (interfere) her when she's more than happy to sit in her training chair and take in the world around her? 

humblet on her training seat


When humblet goes to school, they will introduce tablet computers to her. When she's with my friends, they will take selfies with her and show her pictures and videos on their smart phones. When she's with her grandparents, they will let her watch the television.

--

SO when humblet is at home, I would like her to be able to be unplugged and at ease with that. Enjoying tummy time or blanket time on her own. Happily having books read to her while attempting to touch the pages with saliva-covered hands. Smiling at us while she watches us have dinner. Home ought to be a safe place for her, free from noise, over-stimulation and unrealistic expectations. Home is where she can roll around her cot for ages and laugh at herself.  


And this is how I will show my daughter that I love her. 


Grateful,
Amy


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Baby Bumps: The Third Month

The Third Month


*note to self: always take burst shots of a squirmy child and preferably in HDR.

Humblet is another month older, stronger and funnier.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturdays: Honestly

sharing a Mother-Daughter moment


Early readers of humblet would know my first response to the news of pending motherhood was a lot less than motherly. Even after humblet was born, these supposedly 'nurturing emotions' did not well up inside of me (as though I was very nearly waiting for it to happen). All this time, I have been rather closed about this side of me, in part for fear of judgmental mothers and non-mothers but more so the illusion I had - if I didn't talk about it, it wasn't real.

Nothing could be a bigger lie.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Musings: The Art of Receiving

pretty gifts in pretty packages


The family received beautiful gifts this weekend past.

A beautiful throw handmade in humblet-themed colours, pastel shades of mint, blue and yellow - totally unplanned! (Definitely using it for humblet's month by month shots) An elegant calligraphy of a quote from this blog by the designer of our blog header. Both in simple yet pretty hand labelled brown packages. And a gorgeous water colour case for my new gadget.

This led me to ponder about the Art of Receiving -

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturdays: Give me some S P A C E

his chair and mine

As you might already know, we are extreme homebodies. We spend nearly all our leisure time in this space we call home. When humblet announced her arrival, with some fanfare no less, we were determined not to allow our haven dissolve into shambles of baby rattles, dirty towels and spare diapers.

Currently the success rate is three out of seven days a week, depending largely on the two month old's pattern for the day. She has some sort of routine, but like all babies, she's unpredictable. I'm told things will only get worst in the home, but for now, here are some things we're trying to hold on to -

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Surviving your In-laws 101


photo credits: yeo kheng ping


An oft brought up topic during girl talk at this stage of my life is that of in-laws. Yes, I’m there. From boy-haters to boy-crushes, from hair to nails, we have progressed (?) to in-laws and children. Yikes.

Point is, there are so many marriages that rock due to disagreements with the other half’s extended family. In fact, one of the main reasons for quarrels to arise in a marriage is none other than mother-in-laws. 

Here are my thoughts on surviving your in-laws –

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Baby Bumps: Sixty Two days of motherhood

two months old

Saturdays


Humblet is two months old to the day. That means I have been a mother for sixty two days now. And you think the upcoming O Levels is the most stressful thing in your life. Hah.

Because I've never been a very child-friendly individual, I started this journey with zero (and I mean zero) experience. Having never carried a newborn, helped to change a dirty diaper or even placed a baby in its stroller, I plunged into this whole journey blindfolded...and I have only myself to blame. 

As a result poor Humblet has - 

a. nearly been dropped (ok maybe dropped)
b. left freezing (who knew swaddle cloths were not warm enough for air conditioned rooms)
c. over heated (did not read that the onesie was made of 60% wool)
d. slept overnight with a soiled diaper
e. vomited / spat / thrown up milk because her mother forgot the part on burping

. . . and many more.


Beyond the mistakes I've made and the gazillion more I will make, this is what Humblet's second month looks like -

teehee

She laughs and smiles so much it drives me crazy, I now know what it means when people say you are so happy you feel like your heart could burst! Each time she smiles, my heart leaps. Ridiculous.

Blowing bubbles is also a thing now that she discovered saliva. Time to whip out them tiny bibs. Another grand discovery are her hands, she now tries to grab swinging items during play time. J.G. thinks she's a leftie. (Yes!) We shall see in due time. 

'Ah-woo', 'Gerrr' and 'Ee-yah' are her first words much to her father's disappointment. She says them with strange consistency. Which makes me wonder, which of my words sound like that to her?

The most amazing thing is that she sleeps 7-8hrs a night now. Somehow she's been increasing her sleep an hour every week after her first month and now she's hit nine in the evening to four / five in the morning. How does she know to lengthen her nighttime sleep? 

These and a bazillion other questions plague me as I stare as this little human grow each day in pure amazement. 

Thank you for these two months humblet. You can not imagine how much we love you. We never knew we could love so much either, until you came and taught us how



Immensely grateful,
Amy

Friday, October 9, 2015

why cook?

dinner last night 


If you follow me on instagram you will know that I've been posting pictures of home cooked meals recently. A simple soup coupled with a meat / fish dish and a side of greens or eggs. So friends have been asking, why cook?

Apparently humblet serves an a good excuse NOT to cook. But the fact is, whilst caring for humblet is exhausting at times, my diet matters ten times as much now since the only nutrition she receives is through me. In reality however, surprising as it may sound, we have had most of our meals at home even before humblet's arrival.

J.G. and I are homebodies through and through.

Here's why I think home cooking is so important -

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Big little brother



Today my younger brother turns twenty eight.

I shiver at the thought that I could have never had a brother. My parents were not planning on having another child so soon, but by some divine intervention out he came just a mere eighteen months after I was born. Wouldn't trade this dude for the world.

It's not easy being my younger brother. I was (is?) domineering, possessive and extremely jealous as a child. I pushed him, bit him and even 'disciplined' him to whose benefit I know not. Then in my teenage years, I got so busy occupied playing the rebellious daughter I totally neglected him. Now that our relationship has improved and we've grown so much closer, I regret having wasted so much time NOT enjoying time with him. But I look forward to the wonderful years ahead.

Looking back, here are some things about younger brothers that I've come to appreciate -

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saturdays: Why do girls wear pink?



Being pregnant was unplanned incident number one, having a girl was unplanned incident number two and the surprises just spiral incrementally each day as I watch tiny humblet grow. At present it is double chin, bubble blowing, arms flailing humblet.

Tomorrow marks the seventh week of her life and coincidentally she will be participating in a Child Dedication Service* Although I'm fully behind the idea, I'm also extremely nervous about her bursting into tears on stage or deciding to poop at the part where we recite our vow to bring this child up in a godly manner. All my fingers crossed.

Despite all my fears, my mum's preoccupation seems to be - what will my granddaughter be wearing? Will you give her a hairband? 

The above photo is the outfit I managed to put together. Yes, it includes a pink cardigan. She was only given a pink cardigan. I have never seen so much pink in my entire life.

*Disclaimer: Helpless mum gives in to pink clothing because she refuses to buy brand new gender neutral ones

A few of my friends with equally tiny daughters squeal with delight and 'decorate' their little girls in pompom skirts, hairbands and matching pink accessories. Friends with little boys envy friends with little girls. (Why?)

For the most part of this stage of humblet's life there will be drooling, vomiting milk, leaking poop which then transits to crawling on the floor, attempts at self feeding and toilet training. I have therefore arbitrarily decided - milk stained (or is it poop?) hand me downs are the only way to go. She can change her mind when she can buy her own clothes.

--

And for the record, my favourite colour is rainbow. I have no personal vendetta against the colour pink, there are (few and far between) occasions when I wear pastel pink myself. The thing is there are so many beautiful colours to enjoy! Why limit my daughter to one?



p.s. I think she looks best in blue




*Child Dedication Service: Simply put, it is baptism but for babies. No, it does not replace baptism when one receives Christ.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Humblet's Dad

photo credits: eggsbenedictchan

Dear J.G.,

Fatherhood must be a strange leap into the deep darkness.

You did not have nine months of preparation time, morning sickness, bouts of unexplained exhaustion and a strange kicking within you. Neither did you have the experience of birthing the baby. But suddenly a crying infant is thrust upon you and ta-dah you're a dad.

Despite this, you've been a wonderful father, I'm more than grateful humblet has you.

Love,
me

Monday Musings



Watching J.G. as a dad has been a learning journey for me. In the past seven weeks, he has taught me more about parenting (as well as marriage) than I've learnt from any parenting book. I've shortlisted a few of my favourite lessons below -

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kia kia at IKEA



Yesterday was family day. Family day used to mean date nights, but since our little unit turned three, more thought needs to be put into these outings. We brought our tiny human to IKEA of course. What better place to spend a few hours with an infant! Huge stroller friendly isles, giant lifts and very many family friendly options from parking to dining (and a whole host of other kid-friendly things when she becomes a toddler)

This trip set me thinking, what makes IKEA so appealing?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Baby Bumps: Motherhood in Three Words

the first month


Humblet just recently turned a month old.

I'm not so flippant as to say, 'oh, time passes so quickly!' Simply because, when she cries its as if time stands still and more so because I want to savour everyday with her, knowing each one is a gift. From being hospitalised for jaundice, to her first month party and most recently her being able to turn her head at tummy time, I grow increasingly convinced that I am a mother.

Motherhood musings of the first month -


Suffice to say, motherhood is not for me. I tire easily from small talk, so I resist support groups with a vengeance. I'm also only on social media for updates on my friends, especially those overseas, so I barely pause to read mummy forums, facebook groups or other forms of shared mothering platforms.

Despite my love for reading, motherhood literature is tiresome because (as I discovered) there are SO MANY who claim to be authorities on this or that, but almost every book or theory pulls in a different direction. One expert says cry training from birth develops resilience and self-soothing skills, another explicitly emphasises that new mothers should not attempt cry training until baby is three months. And that's only one issue, there's still feeding, napping, wake time theorists. Don't even get me started.

All my gripes aside, Mya continues to grow day by day. Like any other baby, she cries, she poops and feeds and feeds and feeds. Thus, while I may be the wrong temperament for mothering, but its a little too late to back out now.

In this first month, I've summarised motherhood in three words - Trial and Error.

I never thought my sickly body would be able to sustain another human, but here I am six weeks on with Mya solely on breast milk. She drinks and drinks until her cheeks are chubby and her thighs are beginning to look like a baby's, versus the lengthy, scrawny ones she was born with.

Her cries vary from barely audible whimpers to dramatic wailing plus choking. I don't always know why she cries. Sometimes its a dirty diaper, often times she's hungry but there are times everything seems alright outwardly and yet she continues to scream. Maybe a hug? Or maybe a tummy rub?

--

Some days go by right on schedule, other days are filled with piercing cries and inconsolable screams. We're far from perfect parents. But where there are gaping inadequacies, we fill these pot holes with love and more love. A reassuring hug, a warm soothing bath, any and every lullaby we know or simply an 'I love you'.


Enter the second month, let's do this!


Grateful, 
Amy

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pink, yellow, green and repeat

party favours - fridge magnets!

Yesterday, we celebrated Mya's Full Month, a roller coaster ride for 31 whole days.
I'm not very sure why the Chinese celebrate the full month, but due to social pressure and the love of family gatherings we decided to comply.

Here's the back story -

Friday, September 4, 2015

With love, Miss Tan



Its been three years and counting since I've left my career as a teacher. Yet every year, at about this time I still receive a peppering of messages wishing me a Happy Teachers Day. Each one catches me by surprise. Remembering me is one thing, but honouring me as someone who once taught them is truly humbling.

This Teachers Day, I'd like to write a little post dedicated to each and everyone of you who have at a point in time called me 'Miss Tan'. This one's for you -


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Uncensored Story

On the outside, I give people a very athletic impression. I'm tan and relatively slim, so the illusion is that of fitness. But in reality, I'm more of a coffee-addict, near workaholic, exercise-deprived home body.

When my baby bump got more obvious, people started asking me if I was planning on a natural birth. I didn't know there were unnatural birth methods, so I simply said, yup! But when they looked at me in shock, I knew I was missing something. 

This post is the uncensored story of the labour experience for me, if you'd like to read - 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An unfamiliar feeling



Humblet is two weeks old as of today. As an ordinary person, I'd probably not think much of two weeks having gone by. Yet, as a mother, every week is a milestone for this very tiny peanut. 200grams gained in weight. An increase consumption of 10mls of milk and so on. All these teeny weeny, seemingly insignificant details are critical to her health and development.

Just last week, when she turned a week old, humblet had to be hospitalised for critical levels of jaundice. It was awful. We attempted to rent the equipment, but the doctor would not allow it as the situation was too serious. We were left treasuring every minute of breastfeeding time, because it was the only time the nurses allowed us to see her. Thankfully, she could be discharged within 48 hours. So we spent her first week in the hospital. 

--

As I watched her sleep this morning, I was a little shocked when her little hand grabbed my finger. Each time she came near to me, it meant 'feed me!' But this morning was slightly different. She had had her feed and was all calm, near sleep but not really. Then her tiny hand reached out for mine and I let out a little gasp. 

For those who know me well, I'm terrible at showing affection. I'm great at large crowds settings where everyone is distant and cordial. Not too shabby with informal gatherings. But when it is one-on-one, I never know what to talk about or to ask the other person. I'd much rather write them a card if you know what I mean. Close friends are few and far between. How I show them affection? Possibly through my sarcasm and wit. Not so possible with a new born. 

Watching mothers with newborns leave me cringing. They coo and caw in a nonsense language and high pitch voices. Smother their tiny humans with kisses and what looks to be suffocating hugs. I have no desire to join their ranks.

But in all honesty, humblet has brought out something in me. And it's not motherly instinct and whatever mambo jumbo people assume it should be.

It's vulnerability.

I can't fake it till I make it with her. I can't create a checklist to meet her needs either. When she cries, it's not a problem to solve, it's a life to soothe. 

So in this process of weakness, I find my love for her growing. I may be a complete mess when it comes to motherhood, but watching humblet grow each day gives me much strength and comfort.
 

Grateful,
Amy

Monday, August 17, 2015

Humblet: Birth Story

the real humblet
Monday Musings

On National Day, that is Sunday the 9th of August, J.G. and I were invited to his brother’s house to watch the parade. We were happy to go as we do not have a television in our home, as you might already know. Things went pretty normally, except on hindsight I think there were mild contractions. Anyhow, we got back pretty late that evening and settled in for the night.

At half past one in the morning, I had to pee (which happens ever too often when you’re pregnant) and I noticed that it was pink. Not sure if I ought to be alarmed, I simply cleaned up and left the bathroom. To my surprise, the pink fluid just kept flowing. Yes, experienced mums would know that my water bag had burst. Nothing dramatic like the mini waterfalls we see in TV serials.

Woke the man, who calmly told me to take a warm shower (my last in a bit) while he called the doctor for further instructions. By two-thirty, we were in the delivery ward and I was given an IV drip to hasten the contractions since a broken water bag would mean the baby was now more susceptible to complications.

The hours passed by slowly with contractions increasing in intensity and regularity, we tried very hard to obey the doctor’s instruction to get some sleep. But the adrenaline and the excitement of humblet’s arrival made it really difficult.

At around eight in the morning, the gynae came in looking rather concerned. We were told that with every contraction, humblet’s heart rate was slowing down. That could mean the umbilical cord was around her neck, pulling her back into the uterus each time the push came. He had to speed things up. This was nerve-wrecking news, because we had already endured the possibilityof losing her once during the first trimester. Nonetheless, we trusted them professionals. The dosage was increased and the once bearable contractions now left me writhing in pain, it was almost ten-thirty.

As the heart rate dipped with every contraction, things started to get urgent. Promptly at eleven, our doctor accompanied by two nurses came in and begin the birthing preparations.

Humblet was born at eleven fifty six that day, but those fifty minutes could well be the hardest we’ve experienced in our entire lives. With every contraction I was meant to push with all my might, but nothing seemed to be happening at all. After five to six attempts, a vacuum was used to assist in the delivery, even then nothing. Only a further fading heart rate and increasingly nervous faces scanning the monitors. The doctor said, if she doesn’t emerge soon they’d have to do an emergency cesarean for her safety.

So push we did, with or without the contractions. This paired with the vacuum placed on the crown of her tiny head as well as lots of vigorous shoving by the nurses. And painfully slowly, her head appears…

But wait her face was pale and there was the purple cord around her neck.

Even after the cord was cut, she did not stir.

I could not bear to turn my head, fearing the worst. Ten seconds later, with a healthy smack to the bottom – humblet wails, loud and clear. The most precious sound in the whole world. She made it! We made it!

The picture at the head of this post was taken after her first feed. She was alert, cooperative and most of all she was beautiful. We now joke about how she loves miracles in her life.

Humblet is a healthy one week old as of today. She has been discharged after spending two days in the hospital for jaundice. Seeing her feed, cry and smile are daily rewards we are immensely grateful for.

Thank you to everyone for your love and prayers ever since the first announcement. We continue to covet your prayers for our family and your love for Mya, because we know that journey has just begun.


Grateful,

Amy, J.G. and Little Mya

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Saturdays: Of Cafes & Parks

Smoked Salmon + Waffles Eggs Benedict

Yesterday, Singapore kicked off our four-day weekend in light of our tiny island turning 50! With everyone on holiday, it was difficult to decide where to go. As mentioned above, I meant tiny island as in minuscule. Plus an ever-growing population of migrants amounting to about 6 million humans on a piece of land where you can drive end to end within an hour. 

So, where did we go? What could we possibly do?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pregnancy Post: Exercise

Since humblet is taking her own sweet time to arrive, I've been savouring every day, doing all I possibly can in preparation for her arrival. Maternity leave started this week as advised by the gynae; and being the efficient Singaporean I am I had expected humblet to arrive on cue. However, there are no signs at all. For the most part of Monday I sulked, partly because the rain disallowed me from my weekly therapeutic swim and also because there was not even a single squeak from this little girl.

However, one can only sulk for so long. Once I was done with that, many other things had to be done. Reading. Packing. Cleaning etc. The most effective though, was exercise.

Don't get me wrong, I've never been a fitness freak or anywhere close. I just stuff my belly with happy foods and pray hard that my high metabolism will do the rest, thus far it has been good to me. But being pregnant does things to your body you can only experience first-hand (not that you have to).

What I mean is, suddenly your body doesn't feel like yours anymore. I often feel like I'm falling over or knocking things down without even realising it. Lines have appeared in places I've never noticed and my skin just increases exponentially beyond my control. The most troublesome of them all is lying down. . . no scratch that out, the worst is getting up from bed.

In the mornings after a deep sleep I sometimes forget that I'm pregnant (which means I'm meant to roll on my side and use my hands to brace myself and this watermelon of a child off the bed). What I do instead is get up the usual way I do. . . head - neck - back etc. In so doing I often hurt either my neck or my back and the soreness stays with me for the rest of that day.

So now I have a pregnant body survival plan -

post-walk cool down stretch 


1. Stretch!!!

Every morning and every evening for fifteen to twenty minutes - every single joint possible. Even your fingers and toes, poor little guys sore from water retention.

Specifically helpful are stretches that focus on the lower back and the spine, these poor fellas are under so much strain due to all that extra weight. Youtube offers a whole range of prenatal stretching exercises you can do that are safe for mum and baby.

2. Walk. . .

A very brisk walk which involves swinging arms and lifting knees. Yes, I know it sounds very silly, but its not like I can jog normally with a 3kg child in tow. So I do what I can, making sure my arms and thighs get a complete workout while I'm at it.

Also walking in the evenings help soothe insane water retention that may occur to some in their last few weeks of pregnancy. My problem is more of the sensation of pins and needles when I lie on one side for too long. Either way, these walks help get my heart pumping and blood flowing, so I'm tired enough for bed, after a warm bath that is.

3. Climb

Interestingly enough I've found stairs really helpful, so now whenever I have the chance I climb stairs rather than take the lift. Within a reasonable limit of maybe 5-8 floors?

They strengthen the whole lower body for one. More importantly, the back gets a full on workout and it really feels so good somehow. Some people say doing stairs induces labour, so don't do it too early on!

4. Swim~

Weightlessness. What more do I need to say!




Enjoy the long weekend dear friends!
Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!!!

Grateful,
Amy

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Musings: Do you journal?

past few journals piling up 


Do you journal?

When I suggest any form of writing to my students or youth, they either look at me funny or go back to their phone screens. Journalling has probably never crossed their minds.

But just as I was packing (unpacking) my books to make way for humblet (who's still inside of me) I found a whole treasure trove of past journals. Reading them made me embarrassed first of all, then grateful that I had somehow preserved these memories.

Read on if you'd like to hear my thoughts on writing -

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Musings: The Meaning of Marriage

a long ago save-the-date image by Cherie Lim

This post was meant to go up on my wedding anniversary a week ago, but different things came up and it was left hanging in drafts. Several married readers had a good laugh reading this post and asked me to write my take on marriage - here it is!

So here we go, two years of marriage down and hopefully fifty more to go!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturdays: Birthday Parties

Twin and J.G. at their Macdonalds party


Today the husband turns 30. I know, they look nothing like 30 and they behave nothing like it either. Matching T-shirts and party hats are very difficult things for me to accept. But if there's anything I've learnt from being friends with the twins for over fifteen years, its that these boys sure know how to enjoy a party.

Are you a big birthday party type person? I thought time ought to come to a standstill once we hit 21, what else was there to celebrate about aging?

If you'd like to read more -

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baby Bumps: Week 36

the walking watermelon


Why do we have the misconception that pregnancy is 9 months long when it's really a 40-week long process? Making it more like 10 months, unless humblet decides to emerge this week. Which is apparently totally possible. I'M FREAKING OUT. *In a good way*

As I said in the lastest monday musings post, this edition of baby bumps might well be the very last. And then our lives would be changed forever!

humblet's growth:
This little girl is roughly 44-46cm in length. With a whooping 7.5cm thigh-length (you've got your father to thank) Humblet is now poised, head-down, legs to my ribs, to be delivered whenever the time is right. 

I'm carrying a 2.4kg baby with water bag, placenta etc not included. My body is learning more about centre of gravity than I ever understood in physics class. 

likes / dislikes for food:
Ice cream and anything, everything cold. Might be weather induced and not pregnancy induced but I'm using it as my excuse anyway. I used to really not like ice cream, but this month past I could even have it for breakfast. Not that I did... I'm just saying I could.

Overly tasty foods have been putting me off. Strong seasoning or potent smells make me feel groggy right away. So sticking to fruits, fruits and occasionally ice cream!

Ah! People are advising me to start on a coconut water binge. Fresh coconut water? Will ease the delivery they say. Hmm, we shall see about that.

pregnancy blues:
Just when I thought I was getting used to being pregnant, the reality of being a mother is now hitting me. Just the other day I dreamt that humblet was born and I was a total mess. 

Yes, no matter what people say about women and motherly instincts, I'm still very much afraid of children. Including my own. 

The practice contractions now plague me daily, causing me to really sit and let this reality sink in. Now I know why we're given ten months prior. Its week 36 and still I feel the need for more time. 

mum to-do list:
Washing. Folding. Washing. Folding. Detoxing everything. 

the worst part:
People continue telling me how slim I look when the weighing machine is telling me the cruel truth! ARGH. 

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 

the best part:
Humblet is coming soon! Behind the whining, complaining and eye-rolling, we are going to see our first child anytime soon and that's exciting. Her kicks when we sing to her or read to her brings us much joy. 

We are so grateful that she is healthy and well. See you soon humblet!

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Hope you're all enjoying the long weekend with family and loved ones. We surely are.

Grateful,
Amy

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturdays: The Godfather

Godfather double-chin & godson fishball

Last Saturday this little man turned one. J.G. was really diligent going about getting a suitable gift. Child-friendly, educational, safe to put in one's mouth, fun etc. Watching him was a treat.

When you marry a friend you've known for fifteen years you *wrongly* assume you know already thing there needs to be known, but hey, always a pleasure to be surprised. Timely too, as it gives me a preview of the kind of father he might be.

Here's a bunch of observations from the data collected -

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Teaching & Cooking

photo source

Yesterday a young teacher shared this reflection which I found hilarious yet true, sharing it here for all you beginning teachers out there -


A teacher on practicum is like 
a chef in someone else's kitchen. 
You know how to cook, but 
you have no idea where anything is. 


Adding on the fact that in many cases, the 'teaching mentor' attached to train you is instead hovering at the back of the classroom, arms folded, lips pursed whilst giving you to occasional death stare.

Those were the days. I was fortunate to have a fun-loving yet effective mentor whom I'm still learning from today. Hope I wasn't too harsh when I had my own beginning teacher to watch over.

Most importantly, when we beginning teachers finally get our own 'kitchens' may we never forget that the children there are aspiring chefs rather than cutlery, pots or pans. Our choice of words, our actions affect and form them more than we realise. Rather than setting high impossible standards that stress them out and cause them to rust or rot, we ought to allow them room to experiment and discover the world of ingredients out there for themselves. That's the only way they make create their own dishes and not replicate our as if education were a cheap fastfood joint. 

Shared a few thoughts on teaching in this post from awhile back if you'd like to have a read.

The long weekend is almost here friends, press on!



Grateful,
Amy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Musings - Baby Incoming!

Currently deciding whether the weather will hold up enough for me to go for my weekly Monday morning swim. Either way aren’t we grateful for the nightly downpours! It’s been three long scorching months with very sporadic five minute drizzles.

This week we are really going full swing with ‘BABY INCOMING’ preparations. Here are some items that remain on our to-do list:

 Humblet’s real name

The kind elderly folk are concerned I am naming my daughter Humblet for real. Keep calm and wait for the name post.

But yes, I think it’s about time to settle on her name. We settled on her English name quickly enough, but her Chinese name is a little bit tricky. Chinese is a difficult language irrespective of my ethnicity. We want to make sure we’re naming her meaningfully because her name will after all be a legacy we leave behind for her.

 Bath time necessities

As you know, we’ve been flooded with second-hand goodies from so many wonderful parents. Her drawers and our under bed storage is bursting with clothing. Her nursery has two rockers, two music mobiles and a hardy natural wood cot. Additionally, there’s a mass of baby carriers, towels, pamper and milk powder samples.

So much so we were complacent and thought we surely had EVERYTHING a newborn would need. How wrong we were. Thankfully, there’s the checklist for blur new parents. It brought us to the realization we have nothing ready for her bath.

Off we go this week, grateful it’s also the June Sale season overlapping with the biggest Baby Fair of the year. Bath towels, wet wipes, gentle baby-friendly shampoo soap, powder etc. Here we go!

SPACE

With another human joining the home, we are going to need more space. Albeit a tiny human for starters.

This week will also involve clearing our own stuff. Clothes that no longer fit, home decorations that we will never put up, most breakables so long, farewell!

--
Looks like a busy week ahead! Not forgetting we’re also going to be setting up my home office station when the furniture arrives. Wow.


Will be putting up Baby Bumps next Monday and who knows that may very well be the LAST edition of Baby Bumps! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Musings

To work or not to work

Motherhood Mondays - Working Mums


As mentioned in the Mother's Day Special, my mum held several jobs during the majority of my childhood years. On the contrary, most of my friends had mothers who were homemakers, many of whom would be at the school gate waiting for them at dismissal time.

It's the final month before the arrival of humblet and some issues we were previously sweeping under the carpet have become pertinent during our pillow talk sessions. Should we get a full-time nanny? Should I work from home? Go back to the office entirely? Or be fully dedicated to the home and humblet?

1. Homemaking is a full-time job 

The first thing we established is that being a homemaker is just like any full-time job. There is no doubt about it. In fact, the 'working hours' of a homemaker may be significantly longer that any other job description out there. Especially when you are dealing with a newborn who needs to be fed two-hourly.

So, like any full-time job it requires commitment, resilience and some amount of passion.

Friends and readers would know I'm not very fond of children, J.G. is more of the child-friendly half of this relationship. Which I am thankful for. But nature has dictated that I shall bear this child and I'm thankful I've had now nine months to let that FACT sink in.

2. Motherhood as a career

But on the flip side, if I were to consider motherhood as merely a career, I don't think I'll last very long. If motherhood were merely a job, that would make humblet merely a charge and me a guardian. Being a mum has a lot more aspects than that.

Educating and nurturing makes you a teacher.
Cooking and cleaning makes you the house help.
But to love, discipline and condition requires a parent. In fact, both parents.

3. Work from home

Currently, the plan is adjust to humblet for the first 3 months of her arrival (while she adjusts to me as her mum) Then try out a largely work-from-home flexi arrangement. Call clients, email manpower and document projects.

I wouldn't call myself a career woman, but I do enjoy my work very much. At this point, I see no reason letting it go unless I suddenly had twins (phew) But I won't be presumptuous to jump back into work full swing once the maternity leave runs out. So we shall take it a day at a time.

4. The best caregiver

Over and above all that's been said and all the opinions we've been offered, we feel that the parent makes the best option as caregiver to a child. A nanny might be a wonderful cook and a strict disciplinarian, but nothing replaces what a mum can offer.

I'm definitely going to make heaps of mistakes as a new mum. Bath water might be too cold, clothing might be too warm, milk might be too thin etc. But I'm determined to love this child with lots of help and I don't think any professional nanny can do that on my behalf.


p.s. our baby stores are exploding! thanks for all the practical love!

Grateful,
Amy

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Saturdays: Gifts for Boys

It has been a painful morning of running to and from the toilet. Coupled with missing a very important friend's wedding. This weekend seems like it will be a long one.

Whatever the situation might be, with me, there's always reason for fun and laughter.
The downpour this morning is one good reason to celebrate!

This coming week J.G.'s godson turns one and his nephew turns three. Getting gifts for little humans requires some careful thought, especially when one is buying for boys. Go to any kids section in the departmental store and you will see walls of princess dresses, girls' merchandise and basically pink stuff. But the boy's section is a mere fraction of that.

Here are a few of my favourite picks from around the web -

1. Watches

Although the birthday boys may be a little too young for a timepieces, I still think watches are great gifts for boys. Rather than getting those with a digital display, the analog version helps them get used to reading the time. And if they're too young, an analog face will help them get familiar with numbers as well! But then again, it might just be me and my love for watches.

flik flak

2. Affordable T-shirts

Boys have an incredible ability to get themselves dirty. In their infant, toddler days, perhaps leaving them to run around naked is still acceptable. Past a certain age they'll be deemed as indecent. But to buy designer clothing would be simple impractical. At the end of a day out, you might be left with a brown, grass-stained, food speckled thing that is pretending to be a T-shirt.

Thankfully, Uniqlo has a line of really affordable and comfy graphic tees for kids. Like this one I think my nephew would love, he's in this phase where he can name every type of vehicle in a construction site. Here's a front loader Tee for you Dylan!
uniqlo kids



3. Storybooks

Been reading this one to a really intelligent three-year-old and he can practically recite entire stories from memory. Which boy would not enjoy a fun read like Curious George?
curious george storybooks
4. Washable Markers

To channel the little artist in him and spare your furniture damage at the same time. Make sure they are edible too (you never know)! Crayola even has these washable markers for mirrors and windows which are extra fun!

crayola markers

5. Backpacks

Once they're old enough to walk, they are certainly capable of carrying their own snacks, raincoat, bottles and other essentials. A cute animal backpack might entice them to do so more willingly. The bag below, to be very honest, is what the triplets were carrying earlier on in the Korean Variety <The Return of Superman> I found it so cute on them and loved how they were so practical as well.

littlelife crocodile daysack

A shot of them for the fun of it as well.

What are your go to gifts for young boys?

Hope you're having a restful, durian-filled weekend!

Grateful,
Amy

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What's wrong about rights?

#lovewins is the newest and latest hashtag to have, along with the passing of the law that now legalizes same sex marriage in the United States. Suddenly, my facebook feed is flooded with rainbows and profile pic updates.

Christians who have ventured to speak up against this law are under fire. Bible verses flame those who practice it as well as those who support it, while the recipient group fights back with equally vicious quotes. And the clashes continue as I type this. 

With this new bill in place, other groups of people are beginning to find strength and courage to demand for their rights and the recognition of their place in society as well.
When will this battle for rights ever end?

To say they are wrong and we are right is not my place or purpose. 

The bible sets standards which I fail to live by every single day, so who am I to impose these standards on people who do not believe in God or in His Word?

As a Christian, I think to myself - what right do I have to condemn, to withhold love when I am merely living each day by the grace of God?

Thinking about rights, I remember the story of Job. The beginning of the book emphasized how he was blameless and upright, the author described Job’s prosperous life and greatness in much detail. So much so the reader is left baffled when God suggests to Satan who then proceeds to take all of Job’s away, including his sons and daughters, his livestock and even plague his body with agonizing sores. This man had done nothing to deserve all that had happened to him, yet God allowed it anyway.

In the chapters that follow we see Job’s misery increase as his friends are unsympathetic to his plight. He even asks God to tell him exactly what he has done wrong and to take his life. God’s response is recorded over four chapters, most of it speckled with questions – ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”, “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that is might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” Or “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” 

Perhaps blinded by his suffering and placing hope in his own righteousness Job sought to question the Lord ‘face to face’. The image is that of a young child demanding his parent of his rights to own the house when he has no means of paying its mortgage. Or the sword telling the blacksmith who made him, that he thinks he'd be good as a bread knife. 

--

With these thoughts in mind, I'm taking the stance of prayer and repentance. 
Prayer that more would come to know and receive this loving and gracious God. 
Repentance, for I myself am guilty, daily, of evil thoughts and selfish deeds. 

May this verse be engraved upon my heart, always - “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. Ephesians 2:8-10


consider the wildflowers


Give Generously
Laugh in abundance
Love Unceasingly


With Gratitude,
Amy

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Musings: TIME OUT!


We all need a timeout every now and then.


Last week while getting dressed for work, I tried on five different shirts, all of which failed to fit. Mostly because of my ever burgeoning baby bump. At a last resort I wore a baggy long sleeve shirt that made me feel fat, slack and ugly overall. Staring at the mirror, I found myself tearing up and barely caught myself before breaking down entirely. It’s true that pregnant hormones are insane, but it’s also true that a good cry relieves stress better than retail therapy or stuffing yourself with a pint of ice-cream. 

How do you usually unwind? Here are some of my favourite ways:

1. 'Do not disturb'

Most folks think I'm an extrovert, but closed friends would know I'm actually just a well-rehearsed live wire. Most of the time, I much prefer reading, sleeping or hanging out with myself. 

I mean we are online, on chat mediums, social media almost all the time! Being constantly in conversation leaves this closet introvert tired, annoyed and irritable. So to unwind, I shut down. My phone is put on silent, in desperate times I take out the battery pack entirely and just put up an imaginary do not disturb sign. No internet, no contact, no nothing.

2. Simple pleasures

freshly manicured nails

Not sure why but getting a manicure or cutting my hair gives me real pleasure. Perhaps its the whole service package they provide. From the shoulder massage to the hot tea as well as clean, smooth nails. What's not to love about being pampered? 

3. Go to nature

The beach if you can. Waves immediately calm any anxious soul. I have a friend who went so far as to put up a photo of a beautiful beach at his desk. His escape therapy apparently. Whatever works for the individual I guess!

But if that's too far away, there's always the nearby park of the huge field in front of my house. There's something soothingly therapeutic about walking barefoot on grassy fields, taking in fresh air and standing still in the breeze. 

4. Take a nap

My favourite method, widely accepted (everywhere but Singapore) and hugely backed up by science is taking a nap! 15 minutes or 45 minutes if you can afford it. 

J.G. recently purchased this amazing nap device called the Ostrich Pillow. It is revolutionizing the whole napping scene!! Check it out for yourself~

the Ostrich Pillow

Oh well, it's nine! Bedtime for me. Have a great week ahead friends!

Grateful,
Ames