Sunday, 28 October 2012

临睡遐想

小孩篇
(即妈妈幻想篇)

我还小,很小,醒着的时间不能太长,要不我太困了,很难入眠。可是醒着的时间老是不够我又喝又拉又学习又玩耍。这个世界有好多东西等着我去摸索,单是小房间里的玩具书本已令我流连忘返,还有最熟悉的你,我再累有时也舍不得睡。就算困了想睡,我一个人也还不会一躺下就睡着。现在的我只能完全依赖你⋯⋯

不过你放心,我会慢慢成长,慢慢学习,有一天我会独立的。在那一天到来之前,妈妈,辛苦你了!

妈妈篇

白天哄他睡,而他又闹又不肯睡时,我会觉得这小孩怎么这么烦,明明都累了却不睡。可是到了晚上他睡了,象现在他已经睡了两个小时,我就会很想很想他,临睡前一定要轻轻推开房门,躲在房门的一角偷看他是否睡得香甜。有时半夜醒来,发现都几点了,怎么他还没把我叫醒,尽管庆幸他睡得很熟,却又忍不住要去查看查看。

曾几何时,他只是我身体里的一块肉。现在他是他自己了,喜欢就睡,不喜欢就也拿他没办法。其实想想,当初他也是不按牌理,喜欢就睡,喜欢就踢。原来,小孩从一开始就是他自己的,付与生命者也不可能一辈子牵着这双好奇的小手。我也不能忽略承诺"执子之手,与子偕老"的另一个他⋯⋯

可是我心爱的小孩还只是个小孩,对我是百分百的依赖。所以啊小孩,妈妈会一直陪着你,和你一起学习,直到你不需要我时时刻刻在你身边,直到你可以一个人展翅高飞去。

晚安了。

Lovely long weekend :)

Sito spends three full days at home :))

On Friday, we went to Expo for a baby fair, bought small stuff like bottles and wet wipes. The greatest take-away was ZK's looks in the car seat:

He was quiet and looking out of the window..



Then he fell asleep!



On the way home, he seemed so happy :)



But he started crying halfway back *.*

And yesterday, we crossed the 14-hour mark! Woohoo! He napped a record of four hours in three naps since being weaned from the sling. In the past week, I have found that two particular sets of PJs are very good at putting him to sleep - he tugs and pulls at them until he nods off or turns really sleepy. Yesterday, I stuffed the pacifier into his mouth when he was very sleepy. He grabbed on to it and dozed off :)



And when I left his side, he went spread eagle - no space for mama! Grrr!



Baby spa that day was good - we were the first to arrive and by the time we left, the usual crying babies weren't even there yet! But ZK wasn't happy that day; had to have his pacifier..



Turned out that he was sleepy - he dozed off on the way to lunch at Clementi Mall. And when he woke and nursed, Sito took him into his arms. ZK started babbling to Papa :)



The father-and-son bonding carried on at home. Sito read a bit of the preface to Iliad to ZK. Um, great choice of literature??



After good naps the whole day, he slept really well last night! He woke after almost nine hours to feed, and didn't cry until he woke. And even then, he was only making baby sounds while exploring his hands. Love it when he wakes so peacefully. A few days ago, I was trying to sneak in to sweep his room but found him wide awake, exploring his little hands - super cute :) And whenever he wakes peacefully, he will smile and coo when I greet him :)

So I mentioned earlier that ZK can turn onto his left. Finally captured it :) And yesterday, he also turned onto his right!



Went out for lunch with Stef on Thursday and she took some pictures of us. Thought ZK looked fat here! :p



Ending off with a video of ZK taking his afternoon nap yesterday - the pacifier had dropped but the sucking continued!! :p



Now he's scolding his mobiles as usual. Gonna get him before he gets angry... Today will be a stay-at-home day, just relaxing on a Sunday to recharge for the next week :)

Update 4 Nov 2012

We had McDelivery yay! :)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

No more hungry boy?

Hmmm, ZK's last feed was at 4 am. When he woke at 8.45 am, I thought he would be ravenous. But no, he took a nice little poop - no blowout woohoo! - and let me clean him up. And now, he is just playing on his baby gym, showing no sign of hunger... So I was right to just let him cry at 6 am!

I highly suspect his sometimes-hourly feeds in the day are more because he needs comfort from lack of naps than hunger. Poor boy... Let's see if we can improve his naps today...

So funny, he's talking to the bell mobile, seemingly berating it for not yielding to him. Pull harder, little one! :) And now, turn more if you want to see yourself in the mirror! :)

Enjoying the morning :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

mf the time stealer

Yes, I'm a time stealer, stealing time when ZK naps or plays on his own!

Just finished cutting kiwis :) This morning, I managed some laundry.. And now this, sharing photos..

He has become rather taken with DD - kept looking and sometimes babbling at it :)



And the car seat base finally arrived after almost two months - thanks to Yan! :) Now he can sit more comfortably in his car seat without the seat belt going across his chubby thighs.



He woke up happy on Sunday! With DD next to him :) I've removed XX and HH as he's very into grabbing things now - don't want him to put them over his face..

"I'm not wearing a dress; it's my sleep sack!"



Had a family dinner at the new Xin Wang HK Cafe downstairs - can see Sito in the mirror taking this pic :p



And he was so good during his bath time :)

"My body is the size of two palms."



But he didn't sleep too well that night. He slept at 8+, woke at 4.30 am to feed and then at 5 am to fuss until day break! He didn't go back to sleep; I just changed him and fed him, hoping he would sleep. He did - for 5 min *.* But at 10 plus, when I wasn't feeding him and was so tired that I was drifting in and out of sleep with him playing with my clothes next to me, he fell asleep on his own with barely a sound!

My dear little boy, can you do that more often and earlier please?? :)

ZK was such a happy baby that afternoon though - of course la, had to give him his FOURTH shirt of the day due to poop and pee! - that I thought we could go out for a walk :) We walked to HSBC to sort out my ATM card - no park within walking distance for a real stroll.. On the way back, passing by Starbucks, I couldn't help it anymore - I had a decaf java chip light! Soooo good! Really reminded me of 3Q 2008..

ZK fell asleep in Starbucks - must be the fragrance :)

Then we went to the shopping centre. I wanted to get some vitamins and just walked a little more to finish up the drink as I was going to Cold Storage later. In the end, I bought nothing :p

ZK woke in Cold Storage - blame the loud music and renovation works going on! But he had a good 30 min nap by then.

Decided to wash his hair when we got back so that he could have a more relaxing bath time later. And true enough, he cried during the shampoo *.* Here are some funny photos of him when I was rubbing his scalp with olive oil - his cradle cap returned!

He would go from this...



... And this while I rubbed his scalp...



Ok, last one!



... to a wide smile with a "hehhh"!



Not the widest as it was so hard to capture.. Anyway, I was busy smiling back at him :) Much rather see with my own eyes and interact with him. That's why we have very few photos of him smiling.. Nvm, more opportunities in future :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Simple Saturday :)

ZK woke very hungry! But no choice - I had to change his 12-hour-old diaper! After nursing in bed, he started his usual straining... But no poop yet... Then, well, I farted ^.^

mf: Oooh, that was mama... How about ZK?

And what do you know, he lifted his legs and let rip a similar tiny fart! Hoho! Ya, I'm sure that was only coincidental but it was hilarious then!

Had a little accident just before his nap time - he fell off his floor bed onto the baby gym!! I got to him a split second late :( Felt so bad :( Held him and cuddled him for a while. The brave boy stopped crying soon - think he was more scared than in pain. It was a timely reminder to keep a close watch at all times, especially since he would be turning over any time - today, he actually turned onto his left and then rolled back!

Taken a few minutes before he got to the edge..



Had lunch with LS and Jon after baby spa before adjoining to dessert when SX joined us. ZK struggled a little so I let him out of the sling and set him on the table. And he pooped! Loudly! It was pretty funny and embarrassing at the same time. Bade farewell to the group - nice catching up, especially the Oxford stuff and um, Jon's 冲凉歌! - and went in search of a baby room.

My lunch!



Came home to some play time in his room. It's so nice to be with him like that - simply lying on the mat and waving XX and HH in front of him was enough to make him happy for quite a while. And after a couple of weeks of not babbling much to me, he was fighting to speak today! :)

Sito reached home at 7-ish just as ZK was falling asleep. Time for me to spend time with my other boy!

As it was raining, we cooked! He made instant noodles in a gigantic pot - we don't remember that pot being so big haha! I made a big omelette for myself and had that with two slices of bread. Then he ate in front of the TV while I ate at the dinning table!! But it was strangely nice - like Evanston, I suppose, when he was often the one having instant noodles for supper.

And now, he's playing games on his phone while I blog right next to him! Um, maybe we should have some ice cream - together :)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The good and the bad of bringing ZK out

The good:

1) Feed and satisfy ZK's growing curiosity about the world.

2) Expose him to people and varied environments.

3) Show off my cute baby!

4) See the kindness in people who offer me seats on public transport

The bad:

And that's what really prompted this post.

I was very VERY pissed with the woman at the baby spa today. Don't put in infant care so young, will fall ill, better to let grandmother take care a few more months, don't breastfeed in infant care, wean from four months blah blah blah...

I was already polite enough to give short replies in an attempt to end her comments but she kept harping!! What I really wanted to scream say was:

WHAT I DECIDE TO DO WITH MY KID HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! YOU THINK I WILL LET HIM SUFFER MEH? MEH?? MEH??!

Compared to the above, random sales persons and service staff touching ZK's head and talking around me and disrupting my shopping and meals seem rather trivial!

And I must really defend infant care or institutional care in general; this is part of what I worked on for two years some years back.

These days, with both parents working, caring for young children typically fall on grandparents, nannies, maids and childcare centres. Good, reliable nannies and maids are simply hard to find. Good childcare can be expensive. Parents tend to be more comfortable handing their kids over to the grandparents.

But people are getting married and having kids later. This means that grandparents today are older than grandparents of yesteryears. It is one thing to play with grandkids a few hours a week or babysit on an ad hoc manner, and another to take care of them the whole time. Beyond the physical, modern grandparents also have their own life or are still working. I know for sure that I won't want to care for my grandkids full-time - I'll be too old, I may have different parenting approach from the parents, and I want grandparenthood, i.e. play with the grandkids (and return to the parents when they cry hoho!), and not a second parenthood!

More importantly, institutional care offers an educational component and the chance for kids to interact with other kids besides basic care. For me, this alone beats all other forms of non-parental care arrangements. I believe that this sector can only grow in quality and importance given our social trends. The problem is escalating costs associated with better quality, and the question is how to pay for it.

A mini reflection of this blog

Just now, the little one fell asleep after fighting sleep for two hours!! I was so frustrated at one point that I scolded him. “为什么你不睡觉??你看你的眼睛都累到红了,还不睡觉?!” Didn't know if he understood.. He just kept alternating between whining and crying. Perhaps he expected to nap in the sling like he did yesterday - so shiok.. The last time I put him down after rocking him, he also woke and fussed but I guess he also couldn't take it anymore - he started to drift off as I went about shhh-ing him.

I really don't wish to scold him - I hated being scolded when I was a kid - but I was really so frustrated! During his short 40-min nap, he cried out once - perhaps dreaming about being scolded? So sad :( So I must control myself - rather than lashing out at him, I should reason with him. I don't want him to remember his mama always chiding him. I can always come here to vent my frustration.

This blog has accompanied me for many years. I've logged my mundane existence. I've shared crazy and random snippets. I've poured out my thoughts and emotions. When I re-read my old posts, some of which I don't even remember writing, I thought, this is like me, archived. What would I be if I can't be true to myself??

I'm too used to Sito being available almost the whole time in the past two years and to pouring out to him quite exclusively. After all, he's my life partner right?! These days, with him busy at work and often overseas, I find myself turning to mf-ism more often. I don't talk a lot usually so apart from chatting with Sito, writing is my main channel of expression. And I like that it documents everything unlike speech which remains only in the mind of the listener.

I think I'll have no qualms letting my kids read mf-ism in future when they're old enough to understand. Their understanding of their mama - and papa too, since he's a long-time resident of this blog - shouldn't start from when they become conscious of themselves and the world. And hey, their parents used to party too before they become old fogeys! If we ever become old fogeys :)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

While he's nursing..

I blog!

Today, we went to Gardens by the Bay again. And ZK met a new friend - SX-jiejie!



Actually they kind of met the last time but they were taking turns to sleep or nurse. This time both were awake and they shook hands!

We were supposed to go onto the skywalk but it was too hot.. The Flower Dome was great though, we nursed there before heading for the autumn exhibit.

"Please do not step in" :)



There were also barrels of pumpkins. I didn't see the "do not touch" sign and picked a few up to see if they were real :p (They were!)

Found this throne - feel like 慈禧太后 and 同治 :p



Now, let's go back to the weekend for more photos!

"Hey Papa, why don't you wake up to play with me??"



"Nvm, I play with Mama who always put this pink metallic toy in front of me.."



ZK grabbed XX and fell asleep :) And just now, he actually grabbed HH and put it in his mouth! Think XX kena that weeks ago but this time, it felt more intentional..



Better size for the carrier now, especially with better head control.



And Papa took ZK on the way home from Mum's! First time being carried by Papa chest to chest!



Oh, and while we were there, we saw a photo of baby Sito with the same crew cut and pouting - ZK looks just like that when he pouts! :) But we both agree that ZK is and will be better looking than either of his parents! Fine, proud papa and mama speaking :)

He wore a new onesie today. After the gardens, he had a nasty blowout - the onesie is being soaked now...



I assembled his new play mat yesterday :) And I put some toys on it with him. This is with DD - no prize for guessing what that stands for!



He was very excited beckoning at HH until he spat up milk *.*



As mentioned earlier, I collected his name stamp alreasy - here it is! Liuli glass with a dragon on top plus the ink pad. When I was at the office, there were so many bags awaiting collection, including a Vietnamese name! Good business.. This one costs some $230!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Shhh...

Barely 30 minutes after posting about my after hours, I went in to do my final check on him and happened to see him jump on hearing Sito's sneeze. He calmed down straight away but when the second sneeze came, he jolted awake and cried so tragically! Since it was almost three hours since his last feed, I nursed him back to sleep.

Last night, he woke at 1 am, fed, and slept for 20 min before suddenly crying out again. We let him cry for five minutes, visited him to calm him down, let him crying for another 10 min, and visited again to calm him down again. Silence as I left his room. After some rustling through the baby monitor, he fell asleep until almost 6 am.

Now, he's peacefully napping on his bed. I think I've figured out a way for him to nap on his bed without me. It worked three times yesterday. He slept for 50 min for his morning nap - not a lot but it was significantly more than his usual ~15 min on his own!

So, first, I nurse or rock him with a pacifier until he's asleep. Then, I put him down on the bed. He will surely stir. I'll pin his arms down! Or go to the pacifier step. He may even wake totally. If he wakes, I'll sing 小白船 endlessly!!! Or if he wants to play, like just now, I'll sit back and let him play a bit. When he starts to whine, it's time for the pacifier.

I pop the pacifier in, and start my endless "shhh" - it must be a looong "shhh" - and pat his chest simultaneously. Got this idea from here. I think my lips may stay seriously pouty if I keep going "shhh" all the time *.* But that seems to make him drowsy. In fact, just shhh-ing alone will work once he gets drowsy. When he closes his eyes, he may still jerk awake a little. Nvm, I just keep shhh-ing and guess what, he'll shut his eyes again! Then I can leave him.

And if he stirs later or open his eyes, I make sure the pacifier is in and shhh him again. When he's very very asleep, he'll drop the pacifier or loosen his bite so that I can easily remove it. No fear of having to replace it throughout the nap! Actually he doesn't seem to have formed a sleep association with it but to be safe, I don't use the pacifier for night time.

23 continuous minutes now! Mama is happy that ZK seems to be on the way to good naps :)

Papa has gone to rehearse a dance for his company retreat. I'll bring ZK to swim when he wakes. Then, it's family lunch! :)

Friday, 12 October 2012

ZK is three months old!

Well, three months to me should be 12 weeks but it's not practical to track the weeks so let's just use the 12th of each month :)

He had two shots at his three-month check-up on 9 Oct - a 5-in-1 and pneumococcus, one in each chubby thigh. He also had to swallow a cold and sweet rotavirus vaccine. Brave boy! :) (And the vaccines were expensive - $125, $180 and $105)

I asked the doc a lot of questions. As usual, everything was normal. I saw how he rubbed ZK's crusty belly button so I'm now not afraid to clean it well now! Love to clean my own pi zai, heh :p Doc also said that all the crusty bits behind his ears, his ear wax and his cradle cap are all, as I understand, "baby things" which he would outgrow.

That afternoon, I was trying to sing him to sleep when all of a sudden, I saw dark brown ear wax loose in his ear! It was sticky and honestly quite gross *.* I told Carmen who was cleaning at that time and she said that maybe he liked music.... Literally 听出耳油! :p

Anyway, in the past couple of weeks, he found his left hand and started sucking on it. He's also using it a lot to swipe at the mobiles. He can also grab things now. He likes to grab clothes placed on his naked chest or pulls at his top if he's wearing a two-piece. He doesn't grab XX when placed on his chest but he had been grabbing XX and HH* a bit when he wakes in the morning. A few days ago, he grabbed my hair *.*

* Btw I just realised HH is no tiger - it's got leopard prints! What was I thinking?! Time to think of a new name...

He has cute little hands. I thought they look very reptilian *,* Maybe cos of the folds amid super smooth skin? :p



Recently, he prefers sitting to lying down. Of course he can't sit up on his own yet so he sits on my arm propped up against my chest.

But this is his fave:



So cute right?! Haha! I started doing that to encourage him to hold up his head since he absolutely hates tummy time. Then I realised he enjoys it! His head is still wobbly but doc said he had good head control so all's good.

More of ZK on the sofa.. I always tell him that he's a big baby sitting up! :)

What expression was that?! Cute though :)



And playing with HH:



As for me, I had my two-month check-up on 27 Sep. All's fine. Uterus tiny, PAP smear normal. Doc also showed me a line in my womb - the site where ZK was attached to me :)

Finally, he's 6.35kg and measures 63cm :) I'm at the same height of course but 2kg heavier than pre-pregnancy :p

Shall end with a rare shot of ZK and me together, taken by CY at our tea on Wednesday - yet another wonderful shot of ZK sticking out his tongue!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

After hours

Oooh, blogging a lot today! And only this one is at breakneck typing speed on the iPad cos ZK is sleeping and Sito is home! (iPad goes with Sito...)

ZK slept before 7.30 pm, what an achievement! But he's been cranky these three evenings.. Wondering whether it's the vaccination on Tuesday or the accumulation of bad naps in the past week of sling weaning.. Let's hope he naps more and get less cranky...

Yesterday, I dug out my old Pilates mat and did a short routine after ZK went to bed. Did it again just now while waiting for Sito to pack dinner. I'm thinking that it's about time I dig out our PlayStation Move and alternate that with Pilates. Hello, flat tummy tight cheeks fitness! :)

Besides exercising, I hope to cook every evening as well. It will be a later dinner than what I'm used to but I figure that's going to happen once I start work anyway. The difference is that I'll be hungrier when I start work cos a working brain takes more energy.. I'm planning to have a big tea time snack in office - Milo and some cookies or a muffin :) Ahhh, the wonders of breastfeeding - I can eat (almost) all I want!

And after doing the above, I can be fairly confident that ZK won't wake during my shower; if he does, it's usually within 20 min of falling asleep. So I can enjoy my shower instead of rushing through! Maybe I can even use up my facial masks!

I don't usually watch TV so it's off to bed after a good shower. Sometimes with ice cream ^.^ And I'll relax on my iPhone while waiting for Sito to call or Skype if he's able to. Or I sleep and leave the ringer on if he's late. I try to sleep baby hours - as soon as I can after he's gone to bed, usually around 10 pm. And I'll be all ready to nurse him when he needs me.

Oh, last night, I slept until 4 am, and woke in pain! I was leaking milk on the right and it was so swollen all the way to the tip that the whole thing was stiff! I couldn't bear to pump - must be painful! - so I expressed a bit by hand just to make it easier for ZK to latch on later. My timing was quite good; he woke about 30 min later. Engorgement relieved!

Today, he fed at very good intervals since his 4.45 am feed - every three to four hours except the last feed before he slept; only one hour had passed since his evening feed as I gave him the boob to soothe his crankiness. Hope the hourly feeds remain little and infrequent :) I'm now looking forward to every nursing session as it's becoming more manageable - and of cos he's super cute from that angle! How privileged I am :)

A decent conversation with Mother

Met her for lunch today. As usual, telling me what to do blah blah blah, but at least we had a decent conversation that was actually, and surprisingly, quite enjoyable. The last time that happened was some 10 years ago when I was in Oxford!

Today, there was no gossip about her neighbours and whatnot. We talked about pleasant decades-old stuff instead. How we were cloth-diapered (she didn't "dare" to use disposables..), how much we used to poop (a bit at a time but very frequent!), how we pooped (apparently never a nasty blowout!), how long she kept our umbilical cords and hair for (more than 20 years!), YQ's baby contest etc..

One particular point stuck with me - she didn't have any help taking care of all three of us; both my grandmothers were working and there was never a maid in the house. We must have slept very well for her to have time to cook all meals, scrub the cloth diapers and handwash all the clothes since she didn't have a washing machine until I was old enough to remember! She even practised elimination communication while breastfeeding!! Of course she didn't use that term but yes, what she described was EC, no doubt..

Which makes me think - high-needs babies aside, why do so many mummies these days seem to need so much help? Yes, most mummies of our generation work. But things should be manageable during maternity leave and for stay-at-home mums right? I still remember this Chinese girl who left her infant son with her mum to join her husband in Evanston - she said she couldn't have taken care of her son on her own. But her mum on her own could take care of her son for her?? And gee, it's her own son!!

Well, to each her own, I guess. But I believe that the mum is the best caregiver for her baby. Seems a bit contradictory since I'm going to put him in infant care! But I have to work too to give our kids a better life. And I'm probably headed for a family-friendly job that should allow me to take care of ZK outside infant care hours. Kiasu me is already starting to plan my daily schedule - need to rehearse before I start work!

At night, ZK is now sleeping well enough for both of us. He's not napping as well but he napped a bit on his bed this morning and just now. I hope it gets better and he can nap longer on his bed. Slowly, I should be able to do more things in the house - just hope that it's not so slow that I will have gone back to work!

Anyway, so ZK drank while we ate. And when I burped him, out came a big gulp of milk! Mother carried him while I cleaned us up, and as I was getting the bill, he decided to give 外婆 a gift - he had a poop blowout! A yellow patch quickly spread on his white onesie, and Mother's skirt got a little wet! Thankfully her skirt was black so it wasn't obvious but everyone saw ZK's stain. We met kind-hearted people on the way to the family room in HDB Hub to wipe him down and change him before going to collect his name stamp at Lor 8.

Sito is home now :) but he has a call to make.. I'd better bathe ZK before then as he will scream the house down during his shampoo!!

Floated to the skies and dropped back down..

...all in the span of five minutes..

Just now on the MRT, a random auntie commented that my baby sling looked useful. She went on to ask about ZK's age.

Auntie: Huh, three months only ah? So big! And you look good for three months!
mf: Thanks, first one la..
Auntie: My ex-colleague looked like a mother of five after her first.. You have good genes!

What do I say? Smile lor, haha!

And I left the train to change lines.. On the way to the circle line, a tai tai asked me if she was headed the right way. Then a foreign worker passing by decided that I knew my directions so he turned back to ask me too.

FW: Auntie! Kranji this way?

AUNTIE??!!! He must be 30 years old!!

The tai tai hesitated for a while and left when she realised he was calling me.

Sighs! Ya, when I'm with ZK, I guess anyone can call me auntie *.*

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

覆水难收,破镜难圆

Yesterday, we were talking about the Amy Cheong saga on the way to baby spa. Mum commented that things said could not be taken back.

I know that only too well, unfortunately.

Every time I think about what happened, every time she mentioned anything related, every time I see her number on my phone, I'm reminded of how Mother cursed me.

It's painful to hold a grudge like this, against your own mother. But it's also very painful to be cursed like that by your own mother. I don't think I can ever let it go. I don't think I'll ever forget.

The one good thing out of this is that I learn that if and when I'm angry with Sito and our kids, I must calm down before reacting and not do or say things I'll regret.

PS: It just happens that it's her birthday today. I didn't intend to do my obligatory meet-up until next month but I guess I'll take her out for lunch tomorrow. Don't want to piss her off.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sleep bliss!

So after writing about our sleeping woes, ZK slept from 8.25 pm to 4.21 am, and then from 5.37 am to 8 am!! (Yes, I'm precise to the minute! Another OCD..)

It was such a bliss to be able to sleep past 2 am with no disruption! But I woke at around 2.30 am anyway, surprised that he hadn't woken me yet. And the paranoid mum went over to check that he was still breathing :p

But I couldn't go back to sleep as my twin girls were very swollen. I eventually got up to pump in the middle of the night, hoping not to disturb the boys in the house..

You may have noticed that the night feed seemed to take a looong time.. Yes, he can take a long time to finish feeding.. Sunday night, he spent 18 min on the left, followed by diaper change, before another 10 min on the right before he dropped off drunk. But he woke when I set him down and no amount of patting helped so I nursed him in bed for another 20 min before he dropped off again!

Last night, I started leaking milk at 10 pm. Thankfully, he woke a bit earlier! He slept from 8.02 pm to 2.33 am, then 4 am to 6.40 am and finally 6.58 am to 8.11 am.

The night feed seemed long again but it was different this time.. He spent 32 min nursing and refused to sleep. My PJs were wet at my left shoulder from some spit-up so rather than continuing to nurse him until he slept and enduring the aircon, I decided to change tact - I kissed him goodnight and left!

He started whining when he realised he was getting any more boob. I went in to pat him after 5 min. He didn't stop whining. Well, since I had started, I wasn't giving up! I kissed him goodnight again and left him whining. that soon turned into a cry. I went in to pat him after 10 min - I set a timer for that. No help. Nvm, I left him crying, turned off the baby monitor, and went back to sleep with a 15 min timer. When the timer went off, I almost got up by instinct when I heard...SILENCE!

I went in to check on him anyway and covered him with his blanket which he had kicked off. Then I turned the baby monitor back on and slept until daybreak :) This morning, after two good nights, I'm feeling very refreshed and ready to face another week without Sito by my side :) (and only Skype calls with a crappy internet connection!)

Jo told me how to do this some weeks ago but I was still hoping for a no-cry solution. When I chanced upon aware parenting, I tried and failed a couple of weeks ago. I was successful on Sunday but it was hard on both of us. It could be because it's at night but since he cried less with this current method though, I'm sticking with it for now. Will try it in the day one day when we're home whole day.

Now, there are two sides to a coin right... Good sleep brings about a different problem.. His diaper held up the past two nights cos he didn't poop until daybreak. But if he decides to poop during the long stretch, it'll be a huge mess given his explosive poop! And I can't decide if I should let him cry in hunger while I change him, or nurse him while he wallows in his own poop (!) - possible by carrying him in his bassinet pad so I don't get soiled as well. The best scenario is no mess but he could make a mess even in a bigger diaper *.* So much for 12-hour leak protection - ok for pee but not for poop! Any suggestion from more experienced mummies reading this?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sleeping woes

I just saw my poor little boy cry himself to sleep :(

I've been trying to wean him off napping on me in the baby sling since Thursday. I couldn't put him down; he would wake. And my back has been complaining.

But the weaning process has been very difficult and heartwrenching. A couple of times, I could make him doze off in bed with minimum crying just by soothing him with my singing or his pacifier, with naps lasting 5 min (!) or 30 min. I dimmed the room to mimick night time when he could sleep in his bed but to no avail. The longest nap was after nursing on our sides.

We were out most of yesterday so it was back to the sling but even then, he didn't sleep much. The morning, he fell asleep in my arms and just as I thought it was safe to put him down, he woke. Just now, I watched him cry* for 40 min before he fell asleep :(

* The aware parenting approach says that babies shouldn't be left to cry alone so I was with him to comfort him while he cried.

He just woke after only 17 min. Seemed hungry. So I'm nursing him now. So sad to see him so tired but refusing to succumb to sleep.

He must be quite unhappy too. I only weaned him off the swaddle on 17 Sep and now this! And that disrupted his sleep too. It became more difficult to put him down in bed as he would stir when he touched his bed.. Very often, I had to hold down his flailing arms in time before he woke himself up! Then he woke more at night. I had some bad nights when he couldn't return to sleep. These days, I nursed him lying down, easier but somehow, he decided to wake every hour after the first four or five hours! So I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet for swaddle weaning...

He's back to sleep now. Kind of fitful.. Had to hold down his flailing arms a few times when he stirred. I hope he can sleep longer this time...

I feel like napping too but I'm afraid he would wake while I'm asleep.. I'm so tired at the end of the week! Sito is out for some work thing so can't watch him.. Should be back soon, I think..

His little heaving chest is so cute. He's sleeping with his arms stretched out. His right thumb is pinned under his fingers as usual so I don't dare to open up his hand to check on his thumb - I nicked his right thumb while cutting his nails this morning and we cried :( But ZK is a brave little boy. He stopped crying soon after being smothered in kisses of apologies, and looked as if nothing had happened.

And he woke again after 16 min :(

We're both exhausted! May Monday bring a better week...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Me and my OCD

I was applying moisturiser next to the bed when I found something weird about my pillow.. Then, it dawned on me that I hadn't laid an extra pillow case over! Why? Cos I didn't wash my hair tonight and so I couldn't sleep on my regular pillow case!!

Yes, I'm super OCD about things like that. I must sleep clean. Must!

And my pillow is very important. Say I sleep on it with unwashed hair - not greasy, just has dust from outside - one night, I would think that the dust will stay on the pillow and give me pimples when I roll onto my face the next night! Nvm whether dust - invisible or even imaginary!- causes pimples! Um, and, I also make sure to keep my face off the pillow when I don't wash my hair!

The rest of the bed too. Only PJs can come in contact with the bedsheet. So I don't nap in bed after I have stepped out of the house, even if it's just to collect mail. If I have to, e.g. napping with ZK cos his bed doesn't have a duvet, I lie on top of the duvet. The other side of the duvet is sacred like my bedsheet and my pillow.

And there's a reason why the foot of the bed is called the foot of the bed *.* My feet never goes above the bottom half of the bed. Even on top of the duvet, I don't allow my feet to get near the top cos my arms hang out of the duvet sometimes! And, I always wash my hands after touching my own feet, even if it's just the top of my feet. Bottom? I try not to!

I guess I'm used to keeping my feet down since I was a kid. My feet don't go above my knees. At the very most, I sit cross legged. And, no foot goes on sitting surfaces too. I can't take it, unless it's very very clean. Unfortunately, our house is too dusty for feet to be clean. These days, I have to use a foot file in the shower to lighten my black feet from walking around the house the whole day!

Oh, thought of another related OCD - the back of the forearm. I don't like to rest my arms on tables when eating outside unless there's a table cloth. Nowadays I always lean on ZK's bed with my arms so that's even more important now!

What else..? Will add on if anything crosses my mind :p

To be on our own

I had two florets of broccoli in the past week. Two. Florets.

Recall my bento lunches in Evanston? Example:



There must be some 12 florets in there! All for me! In one meal!

Actually, broccoli isn't the only thing I'm missing about Evanston. Another significant thing to add to the list is independence.

Just realised that we spent most of our married life so far in Evanston. And honestly, it's sometimes a little difficult bringing that life back here, I guess mostly because of the new addition to our family.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we were to remain overseas in Chicago instead of Singapore. The first thing that comes to mind is that instead of eating out every lunch and dinner, I would have to cook for myself cos it's more expensive to eat out there. I was finding it a real challenge cooking in the beginning due to ZK's demands. But if we were overseas, well, I must do it somehow, and there's a way when there's a will or simply no other way!

Anyway, recently, he is able to play on his own. At this moment, he is actually taking his morning nap in his bed instead of on me! With an old tee of mine from yesterday next to him - for luck :p Took 90 min to get him to sleep though.. Let's hope it gets better..

Digression: Four minutes into his nap, he let out a little scream! But he went back to sleep, thankfully.. My dear ZK, did you have a nightmare so soon? Don't worry, Mama is only five steps away :)

So I'm harbouring hopes of cooking again. I really like cooking, and I want paninis and pasta to complement my daily cai fan! Oh yes, I like to have cai fan for at least one meal a day - it's the only thing that gives me two big servings of real vege by which I mean dark green leaves, not angmoh salad. Unfortunately, broccoli is not to be found in the cai fan stall downstairs... But if I cook, I can have any amount of broccoli!! Undoubtedly my fave vege, simply blanched... And if I cook one meal, I can have relatively vege-less stuff like yummy fishball noodles for my other meal!

So far, I've cooked twice since ZK entered our life, not counting the hardboiled eggs. The first time was a pasta lunch with frozen ingredients and the second time was instant noodles also with frozen ingredients just this Monday night after he had fallen asleep. I think I can't run away from frozen ingredients as I'm cooking for one and I may not cook every day. But I can at least fare better than sotong balls, crabsticks and dumplings..

Digression: Ok, ZK woke after only 30min! He first stirred, then stretched, looked and smiled at (I guess!) me a couple of times, and went back to sleep for a couple of minutes before finally waking up..

*lunch etc later*

Did foot reflexology after lunch! And I bought some frozen vege - it's as good as fresh but longer lasting! Also got some sausages to freeze. Next time, I'll get some meat that I can freeze in single portions, like minced beef - love to freeze bolognese sauce to stir into pasta :)

Anyway, cooking is just one thing. Living overseas without family support and the convenience of Singapore just means I need to do more on my own. Question is, is it possible? Of course! The angmohs have been doing it for generations! Just need to plan each day properly and man, I love planning! :p It's only here that we're lucky (?) enough to get help from family.

But well, family can be meddling too. Just the other day, Mother called and told me to use oil and brush on ZK's cradle cap. Hello, I did that already! That's not the first or only unsolicited advice. You can't keep pushing things and ideas on me even though you've had more kids than I do! What do I say? The collective knowledge of the internet has already taken over.

Family help in the form of an extra pair of hands is more useful but it's also very stressful if we do things differently. From the forums, this is very common and a source of conflict in the family! No good at all. I'd rather people just play with ZK and leave the upbringing to the parents. I actually like people to play with ZK so he can be more sociable - I just have to watch out for over-stimulation, especially nearer his bed time.

I guess if we were overseas, we can take care of ZK on our own but he will have fewer exposure to other people since our friends and family are in Singapore.

So, pros and cons. And some grass - like the grass of independence - always seems greener on the other side.. And it's not limited to what I've mentioned above too. I'm trying to plant some of that grass here and some are indeed thriving.. So no, I'm not going to be full of complaints about coming back here - I still prefer to be back in Singapore, although I'll be open to relocating if the destination doesn't snow :p

Anyway, life is good here!! I've got my calendar filled for the next two weeks, woohoo! Perhaps I should also get down to planning my meals too, like what I used to do back in Evanston :) We even had a meal calendar on google calendar!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Some thoughts and stats

A conversation over brunch yesterday led me to dig out this old draft I started almost a year ago. I spent a few good hours on it, thinking and researching, but the beginning of the second year in Kellogg was hectic with gatherings and soon I found myself down with morning sickness so the draft remained unfinished..

Now with ZK in my arms and on my mind, I doubt I'll be able to finish it the way I wanted. But I want some thoughts to be captured so I've decided to make do with an imperfect piece.. Perhaps I'll review it some time down the road.. Perhaps..

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Drafted 4Q 2011, completed 4Q 2012:

Took a long time to read this article a few days weeks year ago: "Can the Middle Class Be Saved?"

I must admit I didn't read the last two pages very carefully - it's so damn long! But parts of what I read inspired some thoughts.

The value of a uni degree

A university education is the aspiration of all parents and a great many kids. Apparently, some parents(-to-be) include university fees when considering how many children to have! But I wonder how much the uni grad of tomorrow could be worth in future..

2010

Based on the latest Census data for 2010, 22.8% of non-students aged 15 and over had uni education - public or private. But this figure includes older generations who are generally less educated. If we look at just age 30-34, and the figure becomes 47.2%. (See Table 1.)

* I chose 30-34 to include more men (since they have NS before uni) but there were still some 15,000 more women than men in this group in 2010. In fact, there were more women than men in many of the working age groups.

Given that the current cohort participation rate for publicly-funded uni is 26% and assuming that it's about there for the cohort aged 30-34, a good 20% or so of people aged 30-34 have degrees from overseas or private universities in Singapore.

Table 1: Resident non-students by highest education qualification attained, 2010
Age group
Total (#)
Uni
Prof qualification
and other diploma
Poly
Post-sec
(non-tertiary)
15 and over
2,779,524
22.8%
5.8%
9.0%
11.1%
30-34
289,314
47.2%
9.0%
14.1%
9.6%
Source: Census 2010 Statistical Release 1, Table 30
(I didn't key in secondary and below. And I don't know what the "professional qualification and other diploma" could be. Probably like my Montessori diploma?)

(Wa liao, this is like doing work!! Except that there's no vetting, haha!)

2015

We are targeting to reach 30% cohort participation in publicly-funded uni by 2015, which I think is probable. And including grads from overseas and private universities, perhaps half of people aged 30-34 could have a uni degree by 2015.

Beyond 2015

So, what next?

So, there was this new committee set up to look into expanding the uni sector for Singaporeans beyond 2015. During its online public consultation, based on what I saw online, people were typically calling for more public uni places and fewer foreign students or none at all.

Let's look at numbers first.

Sito taught me two terms - norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. Let's hope I understand correctly.. For example, "O" levels are norm-referenced - which school (JC, poly, ITE, which JC etc) you go to depends on how well you perform compared to another student. For a school, it means admitting only the top n applicants. On the other hand, "N" levels are criterion-referenced - you just need to get a certain grade to get to "O" levels, although I guess within a school, they can be norm-referenced if they are streamed into different "O" levels class according to how well they do for "N" levels. For a school, it means admitting everyone who meet the minimum admission criteria.

(Sito is busy now so I'm not asking him - can't find online too - but I think these national-level tests on their own should be criterion-referenced, as in you get an A if you score x marks or above. Else how come number of As can improve year by year right? Correct me if I'm wrong..)

Since there are a limited number of places, our universities probably use norm-referencing, i.e. only the top n applicants get in. If the current n is cutting off a significant number of qualified applicants to publicly-funded universities, I would say, yes, we should have more places in these universities because an overseas education is hardly affordable by the average family and private education in Singapore, though many are less prestigious, can be quite expensive as well. Publicly-funded uni places are the first thing degree-aspirants look at.

Now we get to the key question. How many qualified applicants are being denied entry? I would think that these would be no more than the 20% who got their degrees elsewhere. But surely we are unable to almost double our intake to 47%? Even if we can increase our intake, there is another question...

And this is where I put on the old hat of an ex-policy officer - when the government funds something, there must be good justification. In this case, if the government funds more public university places, these additional places must produce grads who can find suitable jobs when they graduate. The question is, do we have enough and suitable jobs for university grads? Well, I tried to find employment statistics but the MOM website was killing me slowly!

Anyway, Sito reminded me that education is more than economics; it's an aspiration. Yes, I agree, but I also think that a university education is not an end; it's a means to an end. If they graduate and are not suitably employed, I don't see the point. But then again, with Singapore so small, we probably will need to continue focusing on higher-value jobs for which we need more highly-educated people. I guess I'm for expanding the university sector but to a certain economically sustainable level.

Anyway, by now, the committee has completed its work - and I'm still writing this!! Bah! Read the media release here and the full report here. I took a quick look. There's a part that says that the resident (i.e. citizen and PR) labour market is already accommodating a higher proportion of graduates than current cohort participation rates, presumably including overseas, private and foreign(-turned-PRs) graduates. So providing more publicly funded uni places would shift some potential overseas and private grads to local grads. The target cohort participation rate is 40% by 2020.

So we can expect the streets to be full of uni grads. This raises competition for jobs; only the best among them will get the better jobs. In fact, it may become such that anything short of a master degree and above won't bring you anywhere! Now that's a scary thought. I am lucky to have been sponsored for my master. Sito's MBA is costing us a combined 12 years (!) of savings *.*

Do we really need a uni degree?

Even if the labour market can sustain a high proportion of uni grads, I have another thought. While it may be too far fetched to say that an uni education is over-rated, I think it's not unreasonable to say that poly and ITE education are under-rated in Singapore.

The best poly grads will probably get a job they want, or find their way to university. The worst uni grads, well, they may have been better off going to a poly in the first place! I've interviewed people from local, private and overseas unis who just didn't sound that educated! On the other hand, I personally know many poly grads who are doing very well. So, study all you want but in the end, you do need to be able to work.

I believe that 天生我才必有用 - not everyone needs to have a uni degree to do well.

Was chatting with a friend the other day, about students who were not able to apply what they learnt in class, and he made a funny yet thought-provoking comment: mf, I think we will never understand students of that ability.

I recall an incident when I was in uni and my brother was in secondary school. He asked me something about cross multiplication and I explained it to him. Then he went on to do something completely wrong. I couldn't understand why then, but now I understand that some people just cannot understand anything more than simple maths. Cross multiplication is not simple to some people, but they could fare better than me in other areas, like speaking well, IT, athletics etc. I considered my brother hopeless but now I think he was just hopeless in maths. He's working now, in some IT thing, nothing to do with numbers, thankfully..

So yes, I agree we'll never understand students of that ability but I think we can agree that they may be good in non-academic areas.

Of marriageable age ≠ marriageable

Another thought pertains to the new gender divide. So the report has a line on "men continuing to seek work in a dwindling number of manual jobs, and women 'crowding into nonmanual occupations that, on average, confer more pay and prestige'" in the US.

Now, let's look at Singapore...

2010

Among non-students in 2010, more men than women had university education. However, that's for people aged 15 and over, i.e. including our grandparents who are less educated, especially the grandmas. If we look at those aged 30-34, more women than men had university education.

Table 2: Resident non-students with university qualification by gender, 2010
Age group
Total
Males
Females
15 and over
634,098
326,446 (51.5%)
307,652 (48.5%)
30-34
136,504
64,395 (47.2%)
72,109 (52.8%)

But because there were more women than men aged 30-34 anyway, regardless of education level - 152,552 or 52.7% out of 289,314 - I looked at other qualifications too. Turned out that the greatest gender differential is at the professional qualification and other diploma.

Table 3: Resident non-students with professional qualification and other diploma by gender, 2010
Age group
Total
Males
Females
15 and over
161,144
67,190 (41.7%)
93,954 (58.3%)
30-34
25,9929,323 (35.9%)16,669 (64.1%)

Well, it seems that females may be more inclined to take up further learning? Not sure, since I'm not too sure what this category refers to!

However, if we look at this weird thing called economic status, fewer higher-educated females actually stayed on in the workforce. Higher chance of becoming tai-tais stay-at-home-mums?

Table 4: Economic status of resident non-students with university qualification, 2010

TotalMalesFemales
15 and over634,098326,446 (51.5%)307,652 (48.5%)
Economically active554,796305,935 (55.1%)248,861 (44.9%)
Source: Census 2010 Statistical Release 1, Table 33

(Saw citizen data after typing out the above - too lazy to change!)

Anyway, the prospects of less-skilled men aren't restricted in only the economic aspect. A few months ago, I read an article on WSJ, how, among black Americans, more women than men remained single; black women tended to marry black men of lower social-economic or educational status. I was then lazy to do more research but now I'm looking through Sg stats. I guess for Sg, our key manifest is in the singlehood front!

Table 5: Resident non-students aged 45-49 by highest qualification attained, 2010

Total malesSingle malesTotal femalesSingle females
All levels159,28721,069 (13.2%)160,33720,538 (12.8%)
Below sec51,1509,778 (19.1%)54,3454,939 (9.1%)
Uni36,0052,931 (8.1%)24,3874,473 (18.3%)
Source: Census 2010 Statistical Release 1, Table 14

Very often, Sg men complain that Sg women are materialistic and demanding, and Sg women complain that Sg men are, well, "very slack" seems to be apt here - tees and flip flops all the time, "you went home yourself for 25 years and now you suddenly need me to send you home?" type. Put it another way, if the women have higher standards that men cannot meet, there will be some women at the top and some men at the bottom who cannot find partners.

Actually hor, I don't need all these stats to say that Sg men at the bottom rung of the education and economic ladder cannot find Sg wives *.*

Also see this occasional paper - from my old haunt no doubt - on Marriages between Citizens and Non-Citizens 1998-2008, which shows the following:

  • Three quarters of the SC/non-SC marriages over the past decade were between SC grooms and non-SC brides.
  • SC grooms who married a non-SC bride mostly did not have uni education while SC brides who married a non-SC groom mostly had uni education.
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