Countdown to Joash's 6th Birthday

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Countdown to Jayna's 5th Birthday

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Countdown to Jaide's 3rd Birthday

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Third Birthday tickers

Countdown to Joram's 1st Birthday

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Second Birthday tickers

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Boys' Toys

This is just half of what they have!

All along, my firstborn son has been crazy about vehicles. In fact, he never fails to borrow books on vehicles every library trip. What I didn't expect is that Joram would turn out to be as obsessed about them as his older brother!

Having two sisters in the house, Joram has his pick of girly toys to play with if he so desires. However, ever since he started showing interest in toys, he zeroed in on the cars, trucks, trains and planes; basically anything which has wheels on them. Before long, the two brothers were fighting over who gets to play with them! 

Eventually, I invested some money into buying durable and baby-friendly vehicle toys for the both of them. Thus, there's finally more than enough to go around. I also bought a dinosaur with wheels specially for Joram because, being the 4th child, there isn't any toy which belongs solely to him. Everything has been hand-me-down from his siblings. 

What a lovely sight to behold: my two boys playing happily together with their beloved vehicles.

The boys with their toys


Grandma's gift to the older boy

My gift to the younger boy

Mid-autumn Celebration


Since a friend decided to let her daughter drop by our place yesterday evening, I brought forward our Mid-autumn celebration. I put up some simple decor and bought ice-cream moon cakes; rice-dumplings; herbal tea and cooked some butter corn for the kids. I also prepared some sparklers, lanterns and candles for the night walk around the neighbourhood. The highlight of the evening were the moon cakes and sparklers. I'm just glad that the kids had fun!

The centerpiece

The star at the dining table

The kids didn't quite fancy
the rice dumplings despite
asking me to buy them.

The table is all set.

For the night walk

Here we go!

Hiding underneath the playground
in an attempt to make the lanterns
look brighter. LOL

This is so fun!!!

The leisurely walk home

Friday, August 29, 2014

Home-grown Spinach


A month ago, Jaide brought home the baby spinach which the school gave her to grow so as to teach her about plants. I saw how excited she was about watering her plant, so I didn't have the heart to harvest them pre-maturely. Instead, I dug out the cute watering can from the store room and allowed her to water them daily. Then, I took over the watering when her interest started to wane after a few days. 

Recently, it seemed like the spinach were never going to grow any taller. In fact, they started to look like they'd wither if I didn't harvest them quickly. Today, I took the opportunity of cooking Teochew porridge to include sauteed spinach as one of the dishes to go with the porridge. 

A pity that Jaide herself didn't quite fancy the taste. It was her older sister who ate up most of it. I sure hope that Jaide can at least appreciate the effort I put in to let her have the full experience of growing her own food.


One tiny stalk of spinach (So cute!)

Stir-fry baby spinach in olive oil and salt

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prawn Noodle Soup


My Mum-in-law passed me a bag of frozen prawn last week and I thought it wasteful to throw out the nice big shells. So I decided to try cooking prawn noodle soup for the first time and use the shells as the base for making the soup stock. I found the recipe from a WEBSITE and went through the trouble of making this famous local dish from scratch. 

I guess the kids were very excited about this dish because the whole house was filled with the mouth-watering aroma while I was preparing it. They kept telling me that it smelled very nice. They behaved surprisingly well and cooperated with one another beautifully the three hours I spent in the kitchen. I'm so proud of them! 

I really love how it turned out. Also, the children enjoyed this dish very much as they all asked for second helpings. A pity I forgot to prepare the red cut chilli for the adults, otherwise, it would have been perfect.

The soup stock

The blanched ingredients

Kids' version
(They don't like to eat prawns)

All ready!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Elsa Tea Party


Two of my friends also bought Elsa costumes for their girls, thus, we hatched the idea of having an Elsa tea party for our daughters. I had seen many elaborate preparations for Frozen-themed parties online but I wanted something that is far more affordable. After all, the company is the most important part of the plan, not the decorations.

I handmade most of the decor with things already available at home. I only had go out to buy a bag of marshmallows, a packet of white chocolate bits, a bottle of blue Sportade and a tube of blue writing gel. The result was simple, yet elegant. We had a great time fellowshipping!

The handmade cutlery with snowflake motif

Blue Icy Drink

Marshmallow Snowman

Took out my accessories stand
to serve as a decoration piece

A mountain of snowflake
marshmallows on top of a sea of
white chocolate and blueberries

Frozen milk treat
with snowflake motif

Homemade Place Markers

All set!

Elsa costume fashion show? Heh heh...
(All of them wore the necklaces
I made for them! *beam*)
     

Monday, August 25, 2014

Minimising New Baby Sibling Anxiety

I had my own strategy for keeping such sibling rivalry or insecurity to the minimum. It may sound pretty radical to some, but since it worked pretty well in helping my three older kids to adjust to a new sibling, I figured it might be worth posting about just in case anyone else might find it useful. 

The strategy started from the first encounter.

What I did the moment I came back from the hospital was to immediately put the baby down, purposely ignoring the baby and paying ALL my attention to the older one. I waited for the older one to notice, comment about or ask to approach the baby. The conversation went something like this:

Older kid: Baby is crying.
Me: Oh, is that so? What should we do?
Older kid: Carry baby?
Me: I suppose we could. Are you going to carry or shall I do it?
Older kid: I dunno how to carry.
Me: Then may I carry him then?
Older kid: Yes.

I figured that a newborn is not able to understand much of what's going on and will cry a lot anyway. Thus, I always gave priority to the older one and asked his "permission" or sought his understanding before attending to the baby. When both needed me at the same time, I attended to the older one first. Somehow, when the older ones saw me ignore the cries of the baby, their protective and compassionate older sibling instinct kicked in and prompted them to urge me to do something about it. 

Also, I NEVER showed overt affection to the baby in front of the older one during the first few months. I didn't comment that the baby was cute, good or anything positive while the older kid was the around. Instead, I made it a point to praise the older one for being a wonderful sibling especially when he/she responded kindly to the baby. I didn't ask them to keep quiet while the baby slept, or asked them to help with the baby unless they showed interest to help on their own. After I ascertained that the older kid had completely accepted the baby, by which time the baby would have started to show more awareness, I gradually required more consideration from the older one. 

So far, my strategy worked for my 4 kids.

Even as they grow older, I make sure I discipline the younger ones the same way I disciplined the older ones and not use age as an excuse for the younger siblings to misbehave. I avoid asking them to give in to the younger ones. In fact, I will protect the older ones if the younger sibling is disturbing them and physically remove him/her from their presence. 

I'm thankful that sibling rivalry or anxiety at home is kept to the minimum and they are very loving to one another. My older ones take very good care of the younger ones. Although sibling squabbles are part and parcel of growing up in a big family, I did not have to deal with significant regressions or jealousy due to sibling anxiety. I have indeed been blessed with pretty smooth transitions between children.
          

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sleep Training

I've been asked to share regarding this topic countless times by both new and experienced mothers but I find that the ones who benefit from my sharing are those with newborns because the younger they are, the easier it is to train. 

There are as many sleep training books out there as there are books which advice against any form of sleep training. I didn't start my motherhood journey with sleep training in mind. It was after one and a half months of sleeplessness for my husband and I with my first newborn son that I decided to sleep train. I am someone who can't function without proper sleep so sleep training was essential for me. I didn't quite follow any single method, just whatever makes sense and works for me, after prayerful thought.

A Separate Dedicated Sleeping Place

Sleep training is not possible unless the child has a proper sleeping place not in the same room as where the parents sleep. It has to be baby/child-proofed thoroughly and it has to be a place dedicated to sleeping and nothing else so as not to confuse the baby. The sleeping place can be different for daytime naps and nighttime sleep though e.g. naps-bouncer, night-cot. Having a baby-monitor or/and a surveillance camera can be very helpful too. 

Fill Up The Love Tank

I find that in order for the baby to feel secure enough to be without Mummy's company during sleeping time, he must receive plenty of love during non-sleeping times. It is much easier for me as a homemaker to do that because I get to be with the kid throughout the day. I make sure I give lots of hugs, kisses, attention and playtime when the baby is awake so that I can send him off to La-la land with a smile and a goodnight kiss with a clear conscience. 

Providing Sleep Cues

There are many types of sleep cues you can give. It depends on what you feel comfortable doing ALL the time. Some give the pacifier but I find it tedious to keep popping it back for the baby. Others will give a lovey but I avoid putting anything that might suffocate the baby without me physically around to supervise. Nursing to sleep will lead to comfort nursing eventually and it is next to impossible to wean.

First, I make sure that the baby has no reason to complain. Here's a checklist which is helpful for me:
1) Comfortable clothes
2) Well ventilated and cool environment
3) Clean diaper
4) Fed and thoroughly burped
5) White noise to mask sudden loud noises - I use the fan and the air purifier. I add in soft instrumental worship music during the day as daytime noise tends to be louder.

Note: It is advisable to put baby to bed on his back to prevent suffocation and SID. 

Differentiating Night and Day

I basically work with the natural properties of night and day.

Daytime naps are characterised by the noise of the daily hustle and bustle plus natural light. When the baby wakes up during the day, there will be lots of interaction, noise and activity even during nursing and diaper-changing. However, at night, the bedroom is kept dark and quiet. I try to use low yellow light and avoid talking or eye contact when I nurse and change diapers before I put him back to bed after each night feed. Every movement is calm and smooth at night.

During the day, I only put the baby to bed if he looks sleepy and tired after some form of activity/interaction for a period of time. Obviously, the length of awake time will depend on the age of the baby and different babies can have different capacity too. At night, I will put the baby to bed right after feed and diaper change whether or not he looks sleepy. 

I am also more relaxed and indulgent during the day regarding sleep cues. I allowed falling asleep in the baby sling because I went out with the baby/children very often so it was convenient for me that way. I actually patted my second one to sleep during naps when she was a toddler and I still lie beside my third kid till she falls asleep as part of my special alone time with her for the day.

However, I am very strict when it comes to night-time. I explain to my children that I need my rest at night so that I can be recharged and alert to take good care of them during the day. They know that I will not go to them unless there is an emergency.

Establish a bedtime routine

In order to differentiate between the day and night properly, there has to be a clear bedtime routine to mark the start of the night sleep. I prefer to keep it simple. After the dinner feed, I will give the baby a nice warm bath with lullaby music, a light massage with moisturiser, dress him in PJs, say a short bedtime prayer and off to bed he goes. 

Traditionally, parents read books right before bedtime but I find that this can potentially become a way for the kid to delay bedtime when he gets older by asking for more books or longer stories. Instead, I do all my reading to the children during the daytime. But I guess, this will be hard to do for working parents. 

To signal the end of the night time, we'll go into the room bright and cheery to greet the baby in the morning. 

Be consistent

Once you have a sleep routine, it is paramount to keep to it ALL the time so as not to give the child mixed signals. The younger the child is, the more important it is to not have exceptions. It can be very difficult in the beginning. We had to give up on night engagements so that we can keep the bedtime sacred. It was also difficult when the baby cried to sleep initially. However, if we give in even once, the baby will assume that if he cries long or hard enough, we will go and pick him up. This is counter-productive. It also interferes with the baby's learning of self-soothing techniques. As difficult as it is, we have to keep in mind that the crying will not last for long. Non of our children cried before falling asleep for more than two weeks.

Even during times of illness, other than giving medication and checking temperature, we try not to vary too much from the standard practice. The TLC (tender loving care) is given mainly during the day. Even when there is a need for changing of bedsheets at night due to vomiting or soiling, it is back to bed for everyone after a short prayer.

Obviously, the baby will nurse round the clock when he is a newborn. However, if you keep to the routine and make sure he is well fed and given enough attention during the day, he will be able to eventually sleep through the night. Here's when each of my kids starts to sleep through the night (8pm-7am):
Joash - 4.5 mths old
Jayna - 3.5 mths old
Jaide - 5.5 mths old
Joram - 3 mths old

Ultimately, each family and individual is different. What is beneficial for my family may not be so for another. Some simply love co-sleeping while others enjoy the night comfort nursing. Yet others have baby's health concerns to grapple with and thus do not have the option to sleep train. The important thing is for the family to be comfortable with the arrangement.