Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Kidkraft Toy Castle with Tunnel: Not quite ready yet!

My son received a play castle for his first birthday from a close friend. I was actually really excited about the gift and believe my son would enjoy it as well. But just like any household, space is an issue. We are renting a two-bedroom apartment and unlike other units, we felt that we are living in a good-sized apartment. Until my son came along, space we thought is enough seems inadequate. My husband and I usually find ourselves contemplating which toy to keep and which toy to take off from the box so we can use. 

As our son hits his milestones, we are also trying to let him play with appropriate toys suitable for his age. He is also not somebody who has any “comfort” item or favorite toy so we try to limit the available toys he can play with. That way, we have less/manageable amount of toys scattered across our living area. Plus, he can enjoy his toys thru stages. 

We were quite happy with the setup and we knew a couple of toys are still inside their boxes. Until our friend who gifted the toy castle constantly ask us where the toy castle is. We are always trying to let her know that we really appreciate the gift but needed the space where to put it. But every time she comes over, she asks. So one weekend afternoon, we decided to unbox the castle. My son was over the moon when he first saw the castle. He was so excited with the new toy he bought his favorite (so far) truck inside. As expected, he treated the castle as if it was his “home”. We even took a couple of photos to show our friend that there it is! We are using it! 

Inside the castle!

The first few minutes were OK. But then, my son decided he likes the small flag on the top of the castle. My husband and I were a bit busy trying to keep a few things to make room for the castle when we saw our son knocked off the castle in his bid to reach the flag! It was very easy for him to do it since the material was very light and there were nothing to make the castle stay put. My son literally carried the castle across the living area, we did not like it! We felt that it might lead to unwanted accidents especially if he is with his nanny or if we need to take our eyes off him for a couple of minutes. It could lead him to get hurt or break a few items in our living room in split seconds! 

Because of the incident, my husband read the box and checked the suitable age for the castle. Of course, it should’ve been done before we took it out and we saw it was for bigger kids (3 years old and above). It then made us realize that those precautions were written there for a reason. So it was a good reminder for us to make sure to read those first, before giving in to peer pressure!

Overall, I like my friend's gift but I think we needed a few more months/years before we can take it out again. Better to be on the safe side! For those with little ones who are interested (and old enough!), here is the castle my friend gave to my son:

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top Reasons why Motherhood is not for Everybody

I have a close friend from my previous employer and I bet she is laughing her ass off now. I remembered that after a couple of months since we got married, we had this conversation about family life and kids. Without batting an eyelash, I replied that I plan to have kids a year after getting married. Her reply? She doesn’t plan to have kids at all. I was shocked. All of my close girlfriends plan to have kids; surely she wants to have her own kids. I asked her again and her reply was the same.

Fast forward to this day, I now have my active little toddler. My friend stayed true to her word about not having kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little boy. But my past experiences as a Mom opened my eyes why my friend would not want to have her own kids. She is my son’s godmother. While I can feel she loves my son dearly, I can feel she is giving me the that’s-why-I-don’t-want-kids statement.

  1. Her shopping bags contain items for herself. My shopping bag contains nappies and little person’s clothing.
  2. She can leisurely eat dinner and enjoy her wine. I eat my meals in 5-minutes and drink wine to feel good sometimes.
  3. She can read or watch mother-child themed movies and just shed a few tears. I need to bring a towel to wipe my snot off.
  4. Her “me time” means she goes for a whole day thinking about nothing else. My “me time” is going outside of our home trying to do activities for myself but constantly texting my husband/minder how my son is.
  5. She can yell at her husband for not tidying up the house. I can yell “ouch!” each time I tripped at my son’s little trucks.
  6. Her concept of vacation is a trip to a beautiful remote island, maybe the Maldives. My vacation is a trip to the groceries without a child screaming at me.
  7. She can have dinner at any restaurants she wants to try. I dine at restaurants where there is high chair and basically child-friendly.
  8. She can extend her time at bed during the weekends. I wake up when my son wakes up at 6 AM even on a Saturday or Sunday.
  9. She brings her nice leather handbag filled with makeup and accessories to go out. I bring a big bag filled with small toys, bibs, and other child-accessories.
  10. She can wear her stilettos anytime she wants to. I forgot how to wear heels already.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Coming Soon: Terrible Two's!

When my brother was young, that was the time when I heard the term “terrible two’s and three’s”. My Mom told me that it is the peak where toddlers would try to impose their authority and independence. It is basically like having teenagers around the house. The only problem is that some toddlers do not start speaking until about later. So it is easy to say that there is a language barrier issue. But then, teenagers speak the same language as we do but still things end up messy so, yeah, maybe it is not the language, then. 

When my brother was little, I did not really see what was so terrible with having a 2 or 3-year-old. Maybe because I was not involved in imposing discipline to him (it was my parents’ role anyway!). Or I was not just paying too much attention back then. But now that I am a Mom, I can clearly see why they say that this is a big deal. 

My son will turn 2 years old in a couple of months and I can see some signs where he wants to gain independence. I also see him trying to manipulate us to do things in favor of what he likes. In case you are curious, here are the things I am talking about:

  • One minute he acts so sweet then smiles. Approaches his Dad or me and get our hand to get something he is not supposed to touch/play with.
  • He is the King of Drama. Will make fake cries when we don't give something to him.
  • Learned how to stomp his feet when upset. I can only blame the Youtube nursery rhymes with this.
  • Grabs his spoon/fork/chopsticks to feed himself.
  • Gets the soap to take a bath.
  • Screams when he wants to get out on a cold, freezing, rainy day and I don't allow him.
My husband and I try our best to keep patient since we know it is a normal phase in his baby life. Although I have to admit, it is quite hard to be patient and try to enforce discipline at the same time. Anybody here in a similar boat as we do? How do you keep your sanity intact and discipline your toddler at the same time?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Quick Toddler's Chow Mien!

I love preparing for my son’s meals. Especially now that he is over a year old, I can easily give and share “our food” to him with very minimal alteration from the recipe I use. I still watch out for the salt and sugar. If I make his meals, I don’t add any salt or sugar to it. But if it is store-bought, I try to find something that has a very minimal amount of salt/sugar in it.

One of my son’s favorite snacks is noodles. I am not sure why, probably he liked the idea of eating something long. He has this funny habit of getting a single strand from his plate using his pincers and put the strand inside his mouth. He will gradually slurp it while saying “mmm mmm”. LOL! Kids! They are so easy to please (sometimes!).

I made some chow mien for myself and my husband the other night so I separated some of the veggies to cook for my son’s noodles. I did not put any seasoning to my son’s veggies except for a bit of ground pepper to taste.

My son's favorite chow mien!

1 portion of uncooked egg noodles
a handful of mixed veggies (I used beansprouts, cabbage, and carrot for this) sliced thinly
ground pepper to taste
1 tsp sesame oil


1. Boil some water and soak the noodles in it (if using dried noodles)
2. Heat your pan and place the sesame oil
3. Saute the vegetables for about 2 minutes or until it becomes soft
4. Strain the noodles and toss in the same pan with the vegetables
5. Stir fry for another 2 minutes or until the noodles and vegetables are well-cooked
6. Serve warm and enjoy!

Note: These are the ingredients/items I used to create this dish

Friday, 6 November 2015

My Experience with a High Needs Baby

I have a clingy (high needs) baby. It was evident a few days after he was born. He would go on a sleep marathon only if I hold him close to me. The moment I put him down, I can count to five and hear him screaming. My first few days as a new Mom were not easy. It took some time for me to figure out what I needed to do with my son. I remembered those early days when I would constantly Google something to find out how to leave the baby in the crib or what the “problem” with him is. 

You see, I was able to mind my brother when he was a baby. This experience made me believe that I know how to take care of a baby – or so I thought. With my brother, I put him to sleep and then lay him down in his crib so he will sleep for an hour or so. He will never shriek the moment I put him down and will wake up happy. My son was different. No matter how long or short I waited to put him down, he still wakes up the moment I put him down. I tried doing all the advice I got from the Internet: PUPD, hush-pat, tap the leg, hold the leg, swaddle tightly, swaddle loosely, and I admit, a bit of controlled crying when he was about 4 months. It is not like I didn’t try to put him down, I just couldn’t. Days went on and naptimes were constantly a disaster. I found out that my son needs and loves his sleep, but just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) want to sleep alone. It is also around this time that I realized what kind of Mom I am; I learned that I am one of those who can’t stand to hear their kids cry. Especially if I know that what he wants from me is something natural, innate between a mother and child. It felt so wrong for me to ignore his wails of “help” as I try to implement what the article I read from the internet advised me to do. Add up to the fact that my son is very resilient. He is not like other babies who would stop after 2-3 minutes of crying. He can go on for as long as it takes until somebody gives him what he wants/needs.

Weeks went on and I was still plagued by confusion how to deal with my son’s sleeping habits. Mostly because of some advice I get around that I am “spoiling” him. Until the day I stumbled across Dr. Sears’ website about clingy (high needs) babies. I read the description and it’s as if everything was about my son. I did not believe it immediately but went to do my own “research” about clingy or high-needs babies and was surprised to read that I wasn’t the only one. I learned that there are other babies out there similar to my son; who are resilient to let their primary caregivers (Moms) know what they want and need from them. 

Because of this, I learned how to baby wear (something I thought I will never do). I would have my son constantly glued to me just so I can do something as he takes his naps. It was uncomfortable, especially because the belt sits on top of my c-section scar. But it allowed my son to take his much-needed nap for as long as he wants, making him a happy kid when he wakes up. I learned that if he wakes up happy, I can leave him to play in his crib for a while so I can go have a break. It allowed me to fold the laundry, sweep the floor, or have some tea.
Apart from baby wearing, I learned to accept my son. During the first weeks, I was trying to “fix” him because I thought something was wrong with him. It was a constant struggle between my son’s needs for human touch and my perception that all babies should sleep in the crib. But after reading Dr. Sears’ article, I learned it was me who was wrong. I was wrong to assume that like my brother; my son should be like that – sleeping soundly in his crib. I learned to accept that all babies and families are unique. This means that I can only use the advice I read on the internet or tips given by other Moms, but it is not a guarantee it will work for all families.

My son is 20 months old now. We still cuddle him to sleep. It is inconvenient, yes, especially because I needed to go back to work. But I was blessed enough to find nannies who are willing to do the same for us. Despite not sleep training him, I noticed some improvements with his sleeping habits. At around 9 – 10 months, we are able to put him to sleep if we are outside while he is inside his pram. Before, it was impossible. We could go around the whole city pushing his pram as he wails inside demanding to be carried.

I am a believer that things will get better. Over time, I have seen the improvement with my son’s sleeping habits. I am hoping the day will come for him to understand that he will never be abandoned when he sleeps in his crib/bed. But for now, I am just doing what any mother with high needs baby can do. Keep trying and just savor the moment because I know these times will never last forever.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Easy Salmon Fish Cake

I love preparing my son’s meals and snacks! I love spending time in the kitchen and really enjoy preparing my family’s meals. I make sure that my son gets to eat different types of meats and veggies per week to make sure he gets the proper nutrition his growing body needs.

My son is a very active toddler and in order to make sure that he gets all the calories he needs for the day, I offer him 3 meals and 2-3 snacks throughout the day. There are days when he can finish all the food I prepare for him with such gusto. However, there are “bad days” where he is not really interested in eating!

It can get quite frustrating for Moms who prepare food from scratch, only for it to end up getting binned. How much more for working Moms like me!? The answer to that is to make use of the oven and freezer!

I love preparing muffin-styled food for my son because it is easy and I only needed to make use of a 12 pieces muffin pan. It is very easy to come up with different flavors and tastes! I make at least 6 muffins of anything and keep 3 in the fridge. The remaining 3 pieces will be stored in the freezer for future use.

Since being quite busy with work and I realized it’s been a while since my son had fish, I decided to make him a salmon fish cake. Unlike the typical fish cake where frying is involved, I used my muffin pan so I just pop it in the oven and wait for 20 minutes.

Salmon Fish Cake
Salmon Fish Cake. I know my photo is horrible!

Recipe (makes 6 muffins/fish cake):

1 small fillet of salmon, cut into strips

1 sweet potato, roasted and cut into chunks
¼ sweet yellow bell pepper, roasted and cut into chunks
Black pepper to season
2 eggs
3 tbsp self-raising flour
Oil for brushing

1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, except for the oil.
3. Once mixed, brush the muffin pan with a bit of oil to prevent the muffins from sticking.
4. Scoop the salmon mixture and place inside the muffin pan. Do not fill up to the brim. Leave a bit of space, maybe about 1cm.
5. Place inside the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
6. Serve warm and enjoy!

Note: Here are the ingredients/items I used to create this recipe:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Gradual Weaning Process for Myself: Letting Go

I was blessed with a lot of milk and I always thank God for that. While our breastfeeding journey was not perfect, I can say that I am so happy that until this moment we are still breastfeeding. I am also thankful that my current work setup allowed me to breastfeed my son directly. It can also be the reason why we were able to breastfeed for this long.

Despite being at home most of the times, I always pumped milk in the morning for my son. Regardless if he will drink the milk, I made sure that I pumped on my “pumping time”. It was the 15-minute session every day, every morning that I allocated to pump milk. Since my son did not regularly use the milk stash stored in the fridge, I accumulated enough freezer stash for him that filled the last tray of our freezer. Probably if our freezer was any bigger, I could’ve stored a lot more than what we ended up with.

When we go out, that’s when the stash became useful to us. I never breastfed my son in public (unless it was during a long plane ride) so we had to bring a bottle for him. However, at around 16months, my son voluntarily weaned from the bottle. We noticed that if we were out, he can last the whole time without drinking milk but will continuously do so if we were at home. If we tried to offer him the milk from the bottle whilst outside, he will throw temper tantrums while looking at me. Probably his way of saying, “What is this Mom?!?! I want boobs, not THIS!” We tried putting the milk inside his sippy cup, mixing with cow’s milk, mixing with flavored milk ETC. But nothing will make him drink milk unless coming from me.

So we stopped to bring milk while we are out. And that left us with our full tray of frozen breast milk stash. I had a quick look at the dates and the milk was still usable. I contemplated what I wanted to do with it. I initially thought of giving it away, but I held back. Why? I was thinking/hoping that my son will still drink the milk. I never thought I would feel that way, but it occurred to me at the time that the pumped milk belonged to my son. I thought of the days I was so busy with work, but I can’t/don’t want to skip my pumping session fearing my son will never have enough milk.

A couple of days passed by, and one frozen bag expired. I still have about 2 Liters of milk sitting inside the freezer. That’s when I finally accepted that my son will no longer use it. It has been months since he drank milk from any other source except me. I finally accepted that in order for the days/time I spent pumping that milk mean something is for it to be useful.

I offered the milk for donation and it didn’t take long for somebody to accept it. I didn’t meet the lady whom my breast milk went to but knew that her little one had tongue tie so they had issues with latching. But she was really determined to breastfeed her son. I gladly gave the entire frozen milk stash and somehow I felt a tiny pinch inside my heart as I was emptying our freezer tray. I knew that the milk will end up with somebody who needs it, but it just made me realize that it could be a sign; the start of my son’s weaning process. And it hurts me just by thinking about it.

After the milk exchange, I received a text from the lady thanking me. We exchanged a few more texts until I received this. With that, I just knew that giving the milk to somebody who will use it was the right decision. It could be the best way for me to gradually start our weaning process, letting go of our freezer stash.