Thursday, May 27, 2010 ;
5:50 PM
18 May
Tue
10.45am - 1pm

ds2's class is doing Water conservation, the Water cycle and Water all around us currently. They did experiments in class, like on the displacement of water, and how things can float or sink in water. They also played games and learnt how to conserve water.

ds2 did become a lot more aware on how to save water around the house after that.

So the field trip for this topic was a visit to the Newater plant.

His teacher knows how much I love photos, so she gave me a CD of those she took using her cell phone. Not that clear but at least it's a record and it allows ds2 to tell me, Dh and ds1 all about the trip using the photos. He is usually very enthusiastic when he tells us about things in school.

This shows their class (without uniform, in foreground) and kids from other kindies in the background. They are listening to an introductory talk. ds2 did return and tell me about filtration and about sewage processing, so I guess he was attentive, even though one of his classmates looked very bored here, haha (the one lying on the ground).

Since the school doesn't have a uniform, for each field trip, the teacher will tell us what colour tee to wear so they at least look like they belong together. They also wear a pin badge for easy identification during field trips. This time, the colour is orange!

In the pic below, ds2 is in the center. The teacher asked them to bring water bottles with straps and he didn't have one, so my mom and me used ribbons/ strings to make a temp one on his current water bottle. Didn't want to buy one especially for this occasion since his water bottle is still new. You can see the thick homemade strap across his neck here.

They are playing a game that teaches them about water, according to ds2.

Some interactive displays around the center that caught he and his friend's attention.

One classmate forgot abt the orange tee, I think. :-)

Watching a video in the auditorium. ds2 said it was very interesting, all about how dirty water becomes clean. And they came back with a bottle of Newater. Not sure if any of you still have reservations on drinking Newater? Long ago, when it was just produced, I was very hesitant. Only now, after so many years, I would think, since no one died, perhaps it is really safe to drink.

And no choice, since Singapore is so small, without natural resources, we can't rely so much on Malaysia for our water demands for too long. Better accept this Newater.

They apparently have "educated" our young ones very well. Ds2 returned to tell me that Singapore has 4 sources of water. Reservoir, Sea (desalination), Newater (purify non-potable water by reverse osmosis) and "buy from other countries". lol. And he can also tell me "buying from other countries not so good, you know".

That's their sweet and beautiful teacher (the main one). They have another Chinese teacher who followed them on this trip too, cos all their lessons are bilingual (school's bilingual immersion policy). This English and Math teacher is very patient, kind and understanding.

ds2 adores her. An eg: ds2 is fussy with food. He eats the top of the broccoli, for example, and dislikes fruits like honeydew and papaya. But from day 1, this tr has been firm and consistent. She said everyone has to eat some fruit. If that day, honeydew is being served, then ds2 has to eat some. He needn't eat the whole big piece, but he has to eat some.

So from not eating it at all, he would eat a small bite now. He still doesn't like it, but he will try to eat a small mouthful. And he tells me papaya is not too bad now. haha. We still haven't succeeded on durian though. It is not served in school and at home, he still refuses to try any.

ds2 and his very good friend, who is Dh's JC classmate's daughter. ds2 doesn't do the "V" sign at home at all, neither does he normally pose in pics with that sign. But when R does it, he does it too! He just follows his friends in whatever they do!



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Wednesday, May 26, 2010 ;
11:19 PM
22 May
Sat
9am to 1pm

My Uni alumni sent me notification of her Family Day.

For several yrs I had not joined because we were overseas.

The last time we joined, it was held at the Singapore Zoo and we enjoyed it a lot with my sis' family. That time, she didn't even have kids yet and it was just the boys for us. We always felt it was very good fun and good value too. The admission tickets are often discounted and goodie bags, meals, games, stage entertainment and snacks are all thrown in free.

Dh happened to be overseas again so I asked my mom if she can go with me and the kids. Without her help it would be tough. With her there, I can at least have hands free to take pics. She helped me carry bags, collect food with the coupons, etc. I slinged baby most of the time, except when she was awake and I wanted to eat or go to the toilet. :-)

I haven't been to the Jurong Bird Park - a world class attraction - for many years, maybe 15? The last time I went must be with my school, on a field trip! Somehow adults don't go to these places unless they had to bring friends who are visiting from abroad huh?

I was so pleasantly surprised with all the changes.

This is the Panorail ride. It goes all around the park and into one of the 4 aviaries. Cool ride in A/C comfort.

We stopped at the Lory Loft which is an aviary housing many many lories. You can buy nectar for $3 a cup and feed the birds. They really come flocking to you. I have a video on FB where my mom was swamped by the birds. One of them was on her head, several on her arm and one even pecked off a bit of her finger. serious! There was a small cut. I think she might have spilled nectar on her hand.

The boys were similarly thrilled to have all the birds surround and "love" them. ds2 also had one perched on his head. ds1 had a few on his shoulder, arms and even the back of his neck, which made him drop the cup of nectar cos it was so ticklish and sensitive. He was so sad he cried for awhile but my mom went with him to explain to the service staff what happened and they gave him just a bit more for free.

My mom was truly overwhelmed, haha.


ds2 was very steady. He loves animals of all kinds. He is less jumpy than ds1 and could stay very still and let the birds feed. Hence he was the only one who did not get pecked or scratched. He did have claw marks on his baby soft skin along his arms though, but he did not mind them at all. That's my boy!


I couldn't take the screeching of the hundreds of lories after some time, even though the boys would have wanted to stay in there forever. It was very loud and piercing. I thought dd might be scared but although she was startled a few times by sudden near screeches of several birds, she did not cry and was very alert and excited to see these weird things flying around. At least, they must seem strange to her since she mostly see moving humans only in her short life so far.


Took the Panorail again in one loop back to the Main station.

Dd was in a great mood! She enjoyed the sights a lot, like this fountain. There were pelicans, flamingos, swans, ducks swimming/ standing/ flying around.

Then we watched the Birds of Prey show, which is at 10am. It was beside the Picnic Grounds where the Alumni events were, so it was very convenient. My mom helped me collect breakfast, the goodies bags and so on using the coupons the alumni assoc sent me.

After that we went to the picnic grounds for the kids to jump all over the bouncy castles, and play on the playground. There was a splash area too but I didn't bring extra clothes for the kids, so no water play.

But then we used the coupons to collect popcorn, ice cream, lunch (a bento box with drinks and mango dessert) and let the kids play all the games at the games stalls. The food was ok, but the games left much to be desired.

The type and variety of games are ok, they are the usual at carnivals. However, each stall is manned by only 1 young student (volunteer or paid, I don't know). The poor guy at the basketball kiosk was the worst off cos the balls kept bouncing off the sides and into bushes and far away places and he had to bend so much and run after balls. While he ran after balls, everyone had to wait in line.

Queues for all the games were sooooo long. ds1 was pretty good at some games and won a couple of prizes. Eva (my sis arrived late, we met them at the picnic grounds as the kids were playing) saw one of the prizes and liked it very much, so ds1 gave it to her at once, and said he'll go try get another for himself. But then, after that, all the games he played, he did not win a single prize! He felt rather disappointed and told me he really liked that prize but he gave it away already.

I told him it was great he could share it with his cousin and I asked him to look at her happy smiling face. My mom also told him that is his prize, that can make him very happy too, to make others happy.

ds2 also didn't win anything. This game below allows you 4 tosses, and you need 3 to loop successfully before you get a prize. Not easy, cos the target bobs around in the water. But they had lots of fun!

ds2's turn. ds2 tends not to take risks and dislikes anything after he "loses". After trying all the games once, he kept going for the colour spin wheel. That game solely relies on luck cos you spin the wheel twice and if both times it stops at the same colour then you get a prize! I am like, oh man, it's so like him. Or maybe it is just this stage cos I remember ds1 hating to lose anything too.

Now he is slightly better because he can lose, like in chess. Sometimes though, when he feels he should have won easily but yet he lost, he will still be very upset. However, adults also behave like that, so all I do is to try and console him and explain to him how playing games are not always about winning (even though in my heart, I know so many people who don't like to lose, including us parents ourselves).


After that the skies did pour heavily for quite a while. Fortunately there was a huge marquee and we all just sat there and ate our bentos. When the rain reduced to a drizzle, we left. It was tiring but really fun!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
10:32 PM
22 May
8am

ds1's pri school Parent meet teacher (PTM) and SEED exhibition day.

First, pics of ds2's craft in school. He likes me to take pics of his work, especially when he sees me capturing ds1's work.

Btw, you see the chinese words describing the art technique used because his school has the art, PE and cookery lessons in Chinese. They have 50%-50% split in usage of English and Chinese so the kids will hopefully be more bilingual.

I did see a marked improvement in ds2's vocabulary, speech and reading after he started school here, so we (Dh and I) are very pleased.


A viking helmet they made in Chinese speech and drama class, also during school hours.

Now on to ds1's school. This is his classroom door.
I arranged to meet his teachers at 8am because we could choose timings between 8am to 12 noon on that Sat. We had already planned to be at the Jurong Bird Park that day, so I wanted to get done with the PTM and go to the bird park.


The notice board in the class. ds2 is very interested as well and you can see he looks up to his brother and wants to "go to xx pri school" just like his ge-ge.

ds1 showing off his various projects and artwork. This particular project involved using only recycled materials.

What did his teachers say about him?

Initially I told ds1 I was very nervous about meeting his teachers since his daily behaviour at home is so.... hyperactive/ mischievous.. He tries to fool around whenever he is bored and according to him, that happens all the time in school.

Also he always regales me with tales of how he joked non stop during story time, and how he'd walk around the class talking and playing with all his good friends (during lesson time)... how he fought with R and S during PE... how they play with erasers..

He even joined the girls in their "slapping game". I asked him, what slapping game. He said this girl who is one of the class leaders, and also one of his girlfriends, will stand in the middle of the circle and call out actions in quick succession. The rest in the circle must quickly do all those actions accurately. This sounded ok, quite fun... It's like "Follow the leader".

But then ds1 says whoever did not do the actions correctly will have to stand in the middle with the leader and let her slap him/ her. After she is done with that person, the rest of those in the circle gets to slap him/ her as well. I was horrified. I asked if the slaps were painful and if those who got slapped cried. He said no. They all found it very fun. But he said mostly the girls played this game. He joined them once only and kept getting slapped. The girls laughed and laughed, he said.

I forbade him to ever play this game anymore. Because I don't want him to slap others and get others hurt, neither do I want him to be slapped, however much it is a game they enjoy. I don't know if I am being an overprotective mom, but I just feel that this game doesn't sound very right.

(Anyway I can understand why this is a game girls play cos only girls slap. Boys punch.)

So ds1 also tells me a lot of other games he plays with the boys, usually during recess or lunch. They also involve a lot of rough housing. It is fortunate that he wrestles a lot with his brother at home so he can take care of himself in school, but I just wonder if he plays and someone gets hurt, will the other party's parents come and find him/ me? I still cautioned him against playing too rough. Don't know why kids cannot play zero point or five stones nowadays, so much more "gentle" in my opinion.

Ok, back to his behaviour. I am not sure if I mentioned his monitor position was taken away cos he was far too talkative. Even after the teacher reprimanded him, he was still talking with his friends, so now the class leaders (they don't use the term monitor anymore) are both girls. haha.

He also got kept in during recess time once. According to him, lots of other classmates get detained and cannot go for recess, but he only got punished just once. I was still not very happy... He is so thin already, he has to eat all the time, with his high metabolic rate. So I told him never to commit the mistakes that would get him kept in class during recess cos he needs to eat!

Other than this, he also was not allowed to participate in PE a few times. Was sidelined with a couple of other boys because they were fooling around or fighting and not following what the teacher said.

So with all these stories he relates to me everyday when he returns from school, it is natural that I would feel worried that I'd have to find a hole in the ground to jump into when the teachers complain about him.

I guess the teachers are being very nice. They forget a lot of the little mistakes and so this is what they said during the PTM, in brief.

English, Math and form teacher:

ds1 is very strong in English and Math. He finishes his work very quickly and will help his friends. He also contributes very actively during class discussions and can provide very interesting facts and nuggets.

She comments that his knowledge is very broad-based and he can point out and bring up a lot of stuff that she does not expect a child of his age to know. And the rest of the class would not have heard about it. She would ask him to explain and he would do so very well. She said that is very commendable. She said she had asked him why he knew so much and he said because he read a lot of books. I told her that was true. Ever since he could read on his own, he has been devouring many different subjects and topics on his own and knows a lot more facts than I do now.

She showed me his portfolio and his marks for the ongoing assessments in school. They were all very high. The school, in line with MOE policy, does not have any formal exams or tests till Primary 3. A lot of other elite schools still have exams and CAs because the parents want them but I think they place unnecessary stress on the child.

So the teacher showed me his oral, listening comprehension, writing, reading etc assessment tasks as well. She said I need not worry about his academic progress. He is definitely doing well.

She then talked about his weaknesses. She said he is very talkative. He can go on non stop. I had to agree with her.

He would also walk around the class to talk to his friends. When he does sit in his seat, he would be restless and do a lot with his hands and feet. Distracting movements and so on. She would always ask him to help his friends or read a book when he finishes his work ahead of the rest. She said when he reads, he will concentrate and he will be very absorbed in his book but when he comes to a funny part, he will laugh very loudly. (oops, that means I cannot let him bring funny books to school to read...)

He tends to dirty the classroom with his many projects as well. For example, he would tear up many pieces of paper to fold into different objects. There was once, he divided a piece of A4 paper into 100 smaller pieces to make 100 boats. But in the course of doing that, he created a lot of bits of paper rubbish around his table area and was asked to clean everything up.

Other things, like fooling around when asked to line up, or making corny jokes non stop when the teacher was reading a story... and changing names and words and diagrams in the test papers and worksheets...

She showed me a test paper where the setter's name was Mrs Sandra Soh. It was printed at the top of the test paper. He changed it to Mrs Sand Oh.

Then he changed the timing of the test from 30min to 30 hours and changed diagrams within the test paper to nonsense drawings. For the multiple choice Qs, he would answer correctly but would change the other options to some nonsense funny words too.

She said she understands he has too much time and feels bored. So he does all these extra things. But she has to constantly remind him not to fool around. I agreed with her and I told the teacher I would reinforce this at home. I said it is about respecting rules and respecting the test questions, and the teacher, so I would definitely talk to him about it.

She rounded it up by saying he is a very lively boy and she loves having him in her class, and enjoys his antics sometimes actually. So hopefully it is just a phase and he will outgrow it soon.

Sigh... this fellow...

Then the Chinese teacher:
She also showed me his various marks for academic tests first.
His tingxie (spelling), written tests and listening comprehension were all pretty good, surprisingly because I expected his Chinese to be weaker than his other subjects, since he hardly spoke or read in Chinese. But the tasks weren't difficult, so maybe it was still sufficient to just listen to the teacher in class and then perform well.

His oral however, was the part that pulled him down. The teacher said his vocabulary was not adequate enough for him to do well in the section that required him to look at a picture and talk about it. He was not hesitant but he had no further contributions apart from a lot of 这个,那个。 Eg, if it was a picture of the playground with kids playing in it and families having fun/ picnics, he would be unable to name the slide, swings, sand pit etc in Chinese, so he would just say, "they are playing this", "this boy is playing that", "the family is eating this"... that kind of thing. Which only got his 3 marks out of a 5.

She says while this is still ok for P1, she says it would get harder and harder as he progresses and she foresees this component will pull him down if he doesn't improve soon. I agreed, because now, the emphasis and focus should be on speaking skills. If we learn a language and cannot use it to communicate effectively, then it is useless.

Very often, the most useful thing about knowing a language is being able to talk to others. Eg when ordering food at a stall where the owners are Chinese.... or doing a business, or making friends... or visiting the countries where it is being used...

Writing skills are not that often used in daily life, in comparison. So I think the order of importance would be speaking, listening, reading then writing? In terms of usage...

Anyway, back to the teacher. I asked if ds1 was being banded because he mentioned some of his classmates not being in the same class as he is. She said there was no banding in their school, not at lower primary levels. The split of his class into 2 was because there were kids taking other mother tongue like Malay language and it was to make up rounded numbers. It was a totally random split. I was rather reassured to hear that because despite a simpler Chinese syllabus being offered in Singapore, I want my kids to learn a higher level of Chinese if possible.

I don't wish them to lose their language... So I must myself buck up and use more of it at home as well. It is tough to change because we are so used to it, but I have to start using more Chinese...

Then she also went on to his other aspects. She said his voice is loud and clear and she liked having him recite passages. She will also often refer to him if she could not hear what his classmates said. He would repeat what they said to her loud and clear. I said that must be his dad's genes. haha

Then she said she noticed his hands cannot keep still. At the beginning of the year, when she first saw his fingers always busy with twirling pencils, playing with the eraser, poking it and erasing on the table blindly, or fiddling with all kinds of things like sharpening a pencil that is already sharp, she thought he was not paying attention to her lesson and would regularly ask him questions.

He always answered correctly which led her to conclude that his restlessness did not affect his attentiveness or understanding. However, she said it could distract his friends and the teacher herself. Hence she would often remind him to keep still.

Her remarks brought me back to his kindy teacher, who told me she would often see him peeling skin off his fingers. You know, those bits of skin at the corners and edges of the nails?

It seems it is his way of coping with having to sit still. He doesn't like to sit still but he has to, hence he transfers his need to remain active and moving to his fingers/ hands and feet. I just hope slowly he can outgrow this and channel his "activity" to just his thoughts?

I read about it in articles and on some parenting websites too. It seems boys, and some girls, at this age, have the need to do so. It at least keeps them sitting still.

Finally, the teacher informed me that she is leaving the school to go to NIE for further training. Argh... just when ds1 got used to her. Sigh.. No choice, I used to have to take maternity leave pretty often last time and my classes would have relief teachers. It is a fact of life...

So they will have a new Chinese teacher next semester.

Today is the last day of school for ds1, he has a full month of hols coming up. Woo-hoo!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Wednesday, May 19, 2010 ;
12:14 PM
7 May
Fri
5pm to 7.30pm

West Coast park picnic

Gathered with my parents and my sis' family for a picnic, this time at West Coast Park. Our spread of food was more lavish this time because it was a celebration for mothers' day as well.

There were durian puffs and macarons for dessert!

The boys had a blast in the playground. This is ds1 on the spider web. He used to have one at the school in Tianjin and of course his primary school doesn't have such a large playground now. ds1 is the figure right at the top of the "pyramid". ds2 is the one nearer the base.



ds2 received a bicycle for his 5th birthday too, just like how we got the ah pek bike for ds1's birthday. Being the younger brother who just looks up to everything the older one does and has, he loved the basket in front of his bike too.

However, while ds1 started riding his bike without trainer wheels early on, even before he turned 5, ds2 seems perfectly happy with his trainer wheels. So we are letting him decide, in his own time, when he would want to "go faster, and be a big boy" (the way ds1 wanted), and request to remove them.

Now the 2 of them enjoy their rides around the estate very much and I would be sitting or on the swing with baby, keeping an eye on them. As they ride past me though, they always unabashedly shout loudly a big "hi" to me and their sister and "i love you, mom!".

People around tend to look at me once the boys shout so loudly, so I always feel a little embarrassed. But I always shout back, because I know one day they will be embarrassed for me to call out to them in public loudly. And I better treasure this now, for I know not how long it will last. :-)

[ds1 still hugs me and tells me he loves me very much. I shall keep a record and see when it will last till. ds2 of course, is still very much stuck to me. He still wants to marry me when he grows up, although sometimes he changes it to "I love E so much, I want to marry her when I grow up, ok, mommy?", while hugging and kissing dd all over.]


Now that Dh is away, for so long, I have to continue bringing them out to release their energy. Yet I cannot manage trips to the zoo or faraway places with all 3 alone, so I've used the playground and ball courts downstairs very heavily these 4 weeks.

When my mom helps, she brings them for a cycle or runaround too. And when she agrees, I can get everyone out further... Like the Jurong Bird Park. Cos at least I get another pair of adult hands and eyes.

The boys enjoying their ball kicking and throwing in the court just below our apt. I could stay upstairs and peek out at them too, but I decided to bring baby out as well to tire her out. Then she sleeps better as well.

Only my back and shoulder aches from carrying and slinging her, and my wrists get painful holding her upright, cos she likes to stand on my thighs and jump, and she refuses to sit in the stroller. Sigh. (once they enjoy the closeness and warmth of the sling, they somehow don't like their car seats, their strollers, cots...)

Again, I bear with it now, cos one day soon she will grow up too. And she will no longer need me to carry her. :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
11:47 AM

18 May
12pm

Dd's first vaccination at the polyclinic. This Hep B 2nd dose was supposed to be given at 1mth of age but she kept having it postponed because of various illnesses in the house. With the boys going to school, they bring home all kinds of viruses and kept having either a cold or whatever, and ds2's school had a HFMD round. He was spared but the clinic didn't allow dd to take the jab, which is wise.

She also had her 3mth old Developmental assessment at the same time, by the doc. She passed it with flying colours. The doc says her neck muscles are very strong and her legs can support her whole body's weight already.

Given that her weight is 7.8kg, which places her above the 97th percentile, the doc says that is very good.

Her height was recorded to be 61.5cm which is at the 75th percentile and her head circumference was 42cm, which is at the 90th percentile.

The last reading was a surprise to me cos our family are all small-headed. (note: small head does not equal to small or reduced brain capacity, in case Dh reads this. he often chides me for saying negative things about our kids.)

The boys had head circumferences that always hovered around 50th percentile and lower. I don't know if the nurse made a mistake in calculating, but I just take her records in the health booklet and type them here.

Her height to weight ratio is also at 97%. Then they asked me, "wah, what brand milk powder you give her?"

At the waiting area, many other parents will come and ask how old she is, comment on how chubby she is, then ask me what milk I feed her. Only one mom asked, "you breastfeed her, is it?"

Oh, and a funny thing occurred. This undergrad at NUS doing her final year project came to me with a survey. She's attached to the psychology unit at NUH I think. She completed the survey with me then said my score indicates I have some trouble coping with my newborn and she gave me hotline numbers to call should I need someone to consult, or confide in. And gave me a pamphlet on parenting workshops and counselling sessions. The brochures are printed by the NUH psychiatry dept that specialises in postnatal depression.

Wow, thank you very much man! So I look like I am depressed, which is why she approached me, and then I really am, from her questions, huh?

All I did was be honest, and a little sarcastic too, when she asked what services would be good for new parents. Her list gave a lot of useless things (I think) like a lot of theoretical sessions and workshops. I told her practical things like having childcare facilities at the sports stadium, at gyms like Amore, and swimming pools would be good for a start.

And I mentioned the Ministers supporting what Prof Hans Rosling from Sweden said, mentioning fathers should step up and play an equal part etc...
And I said why the society hasn't viewed SAHMs as contributing much is because of mindset. And so many families rely on foreign domestic workers that there hasn't been much support or facilities out there that can help relieve SAHMs or WOHMs without helpers.

Maybe my slight ranting caused her to rate me as being depressed... lol.

I told her about the situation in USA and Australia, where I've personally seen and experienced such support and facilities. Very cheap and good childminding when moms want to exercise. And then I read about Sweden, it's terrific there, if you have kids.

Ok anyway, I recycled those pamphlets in the paper bin.

Back to dd and her vaccination. She was perfectly happy and in good spirits till the jab went in. Her wail was eardrum splitting. So unlike ds2 who remained quiet, and did not even feel the needle. Maybe it was the skill of the nurse?

She stopped crying soon after I pacified her but has been super complaining at home so far, and waking often to require my reassurance. My mom says it could be that she thought I pinched her real hard and was now insecure as to whether I still love her. lol.

And oh, this pic in this post shows her sleeping in a baby patch romper that Dory sent (thanks!). The size is 6-12mth, but it's just nice or a little snug for her now. Her sizing for other brands like Carters (9mth), Mothercare (9-12mth), Pumpkin Patch (6-12mth) are all way above her age.

This is similar to ds2. He was like that below 1yo, then after 1yo, all my kids shrink in size. Such that now, when ds1 is 7, he can still wear 4T sized shorts (for 4-5 yo). So I guess I need not worry about dd's weight yet. We'll do a review when she's 1yo. :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Monday, May 17, 2010 ;
11:46 AM
For those who think it is interesting, you may read on...

However, only nursing moms would fully understand and know what I am talking about... may laugh or cry when they recall their own experience too.. :-)

A checklist for nursing moms: when to unlatch??

As I lie on the bed or sit on the rocking chair nursing dd, these are the most standard typical things that would happen.

When you first latch on, she will
1. start nursing happily, eyes wide open, hands and feet moving.

- sometimes she will even vocalise her feelings:
if I had been busy and was slow to feed her, dragging her through the housework or tending to the boys, prolonging her fidgeting and cries, before finally feeding her, she would be drinking noisily with a "humph, humph, ehhh" sound while kicking pretty vigorously with her legs.
She seemed to say "how dare you, mom, i was so hungry yet you waited so long to feed me, i am soooo angry!"

if i had been prompt and maybe even talking to her before that or lovingly patting her then nursed her, she'd be drinking happily and making cooing and gurgling sounds while nursing. something like "mmm, mmmm, mmmmmmmm". And her eyes would gaze adoringly up at mine, and her hands will be patting my chest gently and gratefully.

Seriously. babies transmit a lot of their feelings through body language and the diff sounds they make. ds2 was the same last time. ds1 also, just that his was much more of the angry crying (that time was very stressful, and i shall not dwell on it further now)

2. so after the let down, the continuous suckling will slow down. Baby is probably more satisfied now, not that thirsty, full, contented.

- her leg movements, hand movements, and vocalisations all gradually slow down and cease. now her suckling will be "suck suck suck x4-8 times" then stop for a while, then "suck suck suck x4-8 times" then stop...

- for dd, she likes to use her free hand to keep clutching her hair on the head when she drinks her milk. so this clutching of hair will stop. and her hand will slowly drop from a high position, lower and lower till it hits the bed.

3. Then the next step would be: her hand will slowly, from the clenched fist position, unclench.
This is usually when I start to observe her intently.

-before that, when she is drinking, i would usually be very busy checking my cell phone for smses or missed calls, and replying if needed. then i may make calls on my landline phone. (yes, dd is very used to me talking on the phone while she is nursing, no choice, that's my only down time)

if i were sitting on the rocking chair, then i have one free hand to check emails, read blogs or look at FB, but since I have only one free hand, I seldom type any replys or do anything else other than read the screen at this time. if i do type, it's cos someone popped out on the chat, and i cannot resist replying. then, you will know if you are that party, cos my replies are full of type errors and truncations.

Why do I observe her intently? This point is the important point from which I may have the chance of successfully unlatching her while having her still contentedly asleep and continuing to sleep. Those who don't nurse, or who don't have any other work to do except nursing (eg tai tais or those celeb moms who say they nurse their kids but have so many helpers to do their housework, cook their food and personal trainers to help them get fit and slim down...) don't have to worry about this point, of course.

- the unclenching also has a sequence, since I have spent so many hours studying this phenomenon since ds1's birth.
First the palm area will relax, but the 5 fingers are still in a curled position.
Next, the thumb moves away from the other 4 fingers first.
After that, the other 4 fingers slowly relax and uncurl.
When her hand is totally relaxed and lying limp on the bed, this is when I do the sniff test.

I take her limp hand up and sniff it. Ok, you need not sniff it actually. You just have to try moving the hand. I sniff it cos I like to. It's very very smelly cos she sucks her fingers all the time and there is drool all over it. So it's the dried saliva I am smelling. Though it's stinko, I still like to sniff at it and then wrinkle up my face and say for the umpteenth time, "oh man, so smelly".

Ok, this test is to confirm if she is really truly sleeping.

So, there are many times she will stir in her sleep and then suddenly suckle more intensely and more times, not having that pause interval in between the sucking pattern. Then I will know it is a failed attempt, and we have to move back to step 2 and start over.

But if she doesn't stir, move on to step 4.

4. Record mentally, her sucking pattern and the length of the pause interval.
I am thankful for the many years of science lessons in school for enabling me to be so scientific in my approach. Indeed, instinct of a mom is important, but being systematic and scientific is a bonus. It helps you be more consistent. Just like in cooking, but that would be another post, in case I digress too much already.

- The "suck suck suck x4-8 times" will shorten slowly till just "suck suck" then pause.
- The pause period will lengthen gradually too.
- The intensity (too bad I cannot measure the intensity in absolute units, otherwise it will be more accurate, or precise?) will also weaken. From strong sucks, to weaker and weaker sucks.
It will degenerate till a very lame (yes lame is now my son's fav word to use after Primary school) tongue movement.

5. I have noted that my greatest number of successes occur when the sucks slow till 3 or below. The pause period should be 5 seconds or above. And the intensity should be rather weak such that it is easy to insert my finger into the side of her mouth and unlatch.

Thereafter, I must not leave her side at once. I have to freeze in the same position till her next suck. I.e. After the next pause period, she will suck again right? Sometimes when she sucks, she is not deeply in slumber and at once realises that I have unlatched, then she will stir and cry.

So you still have to wait. If she sucks and continues sleeping, you are free to slowly move your arm, then your body, away from her.

All this while, I will be on alert and ready to start patting her if she stirs.

If she doesn't, hooray! I am free and off to do my stuff.

Nowadays, my freedom time is getting longer, so it's been easier to get something to eat, and care for the boys.

If she is sick, or the boys are playing noisily, or a plane flies past, she'll wake easily, sometimes every 5 min, and I will so fed up. I have required the services of the boys before, to fetch me some water to drink, or something to eat, cos I would have no chance to eat lunch from early morning till 3pm.

Hence once again, this above checklist is very important. :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, May 14, 2010 ;
12:38 PM
Received another package for dd, this time via DHL from the States. But the billing address was from China. A little puzzling... but realised it's from a fellow mom at the boys' intl school. She is so sweet to remember dd.

Look! Such adorable pretty stuff.

And she also thoughtfully did not forget both boys! They each received a cool tee each!

30 April Fri
5.30-7pm

Picnic at Jurong Central Park

Decided we love picnics and want to have them every weekend.

This time we asked my sis' family along.

This park has a huge grassy area and there's usually strong winds in the evening, so people like to fly their kites there. I noticed more and more fancy kites nowadays. So all we do is to sit on the grass and watch people fly kites. (Since I am too lazy to run with dd, I didn't want to fly a kite myself.)

It was breezy, so it was a pleasant experience.

The boys of course wouldn't just sit still and look at the kites. They ran around and cycled (they brought their bikes - the park is just across the street from our apt.)
Towards 7pm, my sis took her bubbles out and blew many many bubbles since my niece loved them. I guess no kid is too old for bubbles. My boys went crazy too. Have to do more of these before my sis moves to the UK this Sept.


2 May
Sun

Dh was leaving for Munich at 10pm. While he was at work that Sun afternoon, (last min rushing his packing of tools and his competition bows) I got the boys to write some "love notes" and draw some drawings and we stuffed them here and there everywhere within his luggage.

In between his clothes, with the toiletries, in the file of documents etc...

It gave him some excitement when unpacking his luggage miles away from home. And it gave him chance to take it out when he skyped home and talked to the boys. They were so ecstatic when they saw him holding the papers - they jumped up and down and shrieked.

They wanted him to show them each piece one by one just to make sure he found all of them, and they started explaining each drawing and story. So it allowed for a longer conversation over skype. Otherwise, the kids always wander off after an initial "hi" (with most skype calls).


1 May
Sat

Dh was working crazy hours just before he left. He worked till 4am in the morning on Sunday. Yes, and he left for work early in the morning on Sat. He slept only about 3 hours, the last few nights. I am glad he has such passion for his work, he is truly a workaholic.

However, it means I am left with entertaining the kids. Our kids have no enrichment, tuition whatever most days. Ds1 has an hour of piano on Sat, and that was even cancelled this particular Sat. With dd, I am not physically up to bringing them all to far-flung places or on strenuous outings to the zoo or hiking in the parks.

And I had a couple of loads of laundry to do that day, thanks to ds2 who peed on his bed cos he drank too much and slept too soundly the night before (too tired, slept late), and thanks to dd who regurgitated all her milk feed when she cried too hard and coughed and choked - on my bed. So I had bedsheets, pillowcases, mattress protectors, clothes etc to wash. Had to stay at home.

But the boys were going wild. I know I will be in for lots of mess to clean up if they get bored and start having ideas like cutting paper, playing playdough etc. I was just not up to dealing with more mess that day, cos I was also stressed up at the thought of Dh going to be away for a month.

Hence I plonked them in the bathroom with their bowls and cups, their cars and Ikea stools. They played inside for more than an hour till their fingertips were all wrinkly and white. It was a good narrow space to confine them. It gave me lots of space outside of that bathroom, to breathe. haha. Anyway, they look pretty happy in there, right?

In the evening, we went to my in laws' place for their cousin's birthday celebration. My mil is quite humourous. She said for my bil's kids' birthdays, they have to be celebrated at her place. If we went to my bil's place, we'd all starve. (She was refering to a few times when we went there to have dinner or for a birthday celebration, there was very little food.)

So she'll cook up a big feast and we'll all eat at my mil's place instead.

Their cousin wanted to have self-decorated cupcakes too, so they had their fun with what sil bought. Here's the birthday girl getting ready to blow out the candles. She is my mil's grandchild no. 8. My dd is grandchild no. 9. I think that should be all the grandkids my mil will have. Someone joked that she should have 10, a nice number... But none of us plan to have any more, for sure... :)



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Monday, May 10, 2010 ;
12:29 PM
24 Apr
Sat
6.30pm

Singapore Chinese Orchestra was performing at the Japanese Garden. We made our way there after a slight drizzle.

Perhaps next time if it rains, I won't go. The grass was muddy and the kids ran around everywhere and got mud on their shoes and clothes (when they splashed or fell). There were more mozzies and insects flying around too. And it made the weather humid and somehow the still wet air hung about like a huge warm blanket, I was soooooo hot!

But we did enjoy the music and had a picnic. My mil prepared glutinous rice, and we brought the fruits.


25 Apr
Sun

During worship, in the Cradle roll, dd sat in the high chair there for the 1st time. And I held my hymn book to sing the hymns. She was pretty curious about all of us adults opening and closing our mouths. She stared at us for some time. I used the strawberry cushion to support her back so she could sit longer. The cloth in front is for her ever-dripping drool! :-)

30 Apr
Fri

ds2 had a day off from school: his teachers had a staff bonding exercise at East Coast Park.

I asked him where he would like to go and what he would like to do. He said he wants to go to NTUC (for those who don't know, NTUC is Singapore's Walmart/ Kmart; or Woolworths/ Coles).

So ok, he made his list and we went. I got to run errands and buy my groceries too. What a great request. It's like, if he asked to go to the zoo, it'd be very tiring for me. But this is easy!

Then we had lunch at Swensen's (also his choice cos he wanted ice cream), and my mom joined us too. While waiting for the food (the restaurant was crowded), he kept playing happily with dd.

I think he had a wonderful day off from school.


2 May
Sun

I let the boys wear their new tees (gift from American friend in Tianjin) to school and for Bible class; and let dd wear her new sundress with the hat to church on Sunday too! It says 6-12 months but she can wear it already. The hat looks a bit big for her, but it's soooo cute, I love dressing up for girls!

Here's a handsome boy from church carrying her. He comes visiting her every Sunday at the Cradle Roll glass window. Maybe he wants to wait for her to grow up.... hehehe.

There she is, fast asleep during the sermon. Always choosing the lesson time to sleep.... :-)



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Wednesday, May 5, 2010 ;
1:32 PM

This is a page in ds1's Primary 1 textbook. I think it is Math. Don't ask me why.

But if you can read it, it involves the kids putting sentences in order that corresponds to the pictures.

But it is another stereotype that is being upheld, if they make students write like this. There is no choice in putting Daddy as the one to wake first!

There is no choice in writing Daddy as the one to make breakfast!

The kids have to write that mommy wakes up first, she makes breakfast..... and so on.

(Dh will not be happy cos he is quite the hands-on dad. He makes breakfast and he does wake up early. This exercise depicts daddies as lazy and expecting their wives to do all the work. haha)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Tuesday, May 4, 2010 ;
1:20 PM
Long backlog on getting my photos out of my cam, and backlog on blog posts too.

I should keep it short and brief. But I always find comments and stuff popping into my head when I blog... Now that Dh is away for a month, I am really hard pressed for time.

There are days I have no time to take a shower, or eat my lunch, or go to the toilet.
Fortunately my mom is helping me during the weekday mornings and evenings when the boys need to go to school and when they return. And she cooks dinner. Otherwise it'd be much worse for me.

I still have to cope alone during the weekends when my mom goes to Msia with my dad. Driving to church and back home on Sun stresses me out but at least the distance is really short.
Teck, I have made a few changes to my routine, like leaving the car seat in the car on Sat so I need not lug that on Sun, so now I gather the troops and we all trudge all the way to the multistorey carpark and climb the steps to get to the car, all together. Each boy will carry a bag too, so I just need to carry dd and my own bag.

Ok, so let's get back to some old pics.

16 Apr, Friday

ds2's school had a Parents' Tea where it is a kind of Open House.
It's from 3-6pm so I had to bring ds1 who was home from school already.

I had to bring dd also, cos it was a long stretch of time and she definitely needed to nurse during that period. With ds2 also in school, ready to be dismissed and join me at that time, I thought I better bring my mom so she can help bring the kids aside if they're noisy. It was my first Parents' Tea and I wanted to pay attention to everything that was going on.

It turned out well. ds1 sat quietly and read his book for the 1st hour when there was a video screened on alumni of the school who have achieved great things in life now and were saying how big an influence their preschool was to them. They purposely got their alumni who became doctors, actors, lawyers and such for the video. (It's like the commercial video Hwa Chong made some yrs back, so funny.)

And then the 2nd hour went on to tell all the parents what the kids will learn in K1 for all the various subjects (Eng, Math, Chinese, and the enrichment programmes). The various teachers also showed us the games and activities the kids play in class to learn concepts, since this is a preschool that believed in play-based learning.

They got us parents to play also. But I was nursing dd. So the facilitator asked ds1 to join in on my behalf. That got ds1 started on becoming noisier.

So he got to eat Oreo cookies while learning the different moon phases (he was given the gibbous phase and asked to create that with the cream on the cookie). He looked to me for help but I told him I had no idea what the gibbous phase is. So he had to ask the kids who went through the prog - ds2 and his classmates. So amusing.

Then after that there was a segment on dinosaurs, and the facilitator asked if any parent knew the name to a dinosaur that had a scaly armour and a club at the end of the tail. ds1's fav! He blurted out the answer. Anyway, no other parent knew the answer, and I only know because ds1 draws it all the time at home and tells me about the facts on the Euoplocephalus group which includes the ankylosaurus. So the facilitator was very impressed and praised him and all the other parents clapped for him.

Ahh, that's when ds1 started answering every other Q that was asked, even the rhetorical ones. I had to ask him to go back to his book repeatedly but he was just too motivated by the applause.
The facilitator who is a cluster superintendent of the schools, was very proud of him though, and assumed he was an alumnus too. When she found out he wasn't, she stopped being interested in him.

I then discovered that the other parents have been with this preschool many yrs already, and I was the only new parent. No wonder they all seemed so friendly with each other. Their kids had been with the school since nursery (3 yrs old) or playgroup (2yrs old).

ds2 also got a math Q correct and everyone was surprised cos the teacher said she hasn't covered that topic yet. The activity was shown to us parents because it is a fun way of learning number bonds in math. It involved this box with a divider and the kids toss toy dinos into the box randomly, then it is covered and shaken. When it is open, there will be some dinos on the left column and some on the right, and the kids have to add the 2 numbers up. They keep doing it, and learn the various ways 2 numbers can add up to 10, for example, or 6 or 8, for that matter. Quite interesting.

I was most impressed with the Chinese games though. Because I learnt Chinese in the most boring way ever, in the past. Teachers just showed us how to write a word, and we write the same word in our xizi (exercise book) many times. Then we had tingxie (spelling) on those words learnt in the week.

So I tend to just read Chinese story books to the kids, maybe 1-2 a week. Definitely not enough. We don't use it so much in our daily lives too.

The games are very lively and fun and allow for word recognition and oral practice. I at once play the same games with the kids at home now.

Dh was not impressed with the Postman game though, when we were playing at home and he heard us. Cos the teacher is from China and she used "you2 di4 yuan2" as the term for postman whereas in Singapore, most people say "You2 chai1". But the 3 words fit in better with the rhythm of the rap in the game, and make the whole game sound lively and fun. However, Dh was very against it and say the kids should learn the proper local terms. haha.

Ok, so the 3rd hour was for Q&A and then refreshments. Then the parents got to look around all the kids work.

The Sara Lee cakes and chips were meant for the parents but the kids ate so much! I had to stop them from gorging themselves.

Some parents asked Qs that I felt I disagreed with, but I wasn't that able to voice my opinion cos dd was really cranky by then. 3 hrs of sitting down wasn't going down well with her. So I had to walk around. I managed to email all my views to the facilitator, and CCed the principal and ds2's teacher later at home though.

One of the Qs was preparing the kids better for hanyu pinyin in K2. A parent noted that too little time (2 months) was given to teaching the kids hypy. Thus the kids are not prepared well enough for Primary 1.

I was very alarmed. I had picked this kindy because there was no drilling. No homework. No excessive rote learning. No spelling or tingxie. Learning through play is very important, and hands-on acquisition of concepts much better than being seated and taught by a teacher orally only. Now, if ds2 needs to go through more than 2 months of hypy in K2, then go to P1 the next year, and learn hypy (the same thing) all over again, won't he waste all those time those months??
It would be so sad. Can kids please have their childhood? Must they be drilled repeatedly?

ds1 did not go through any hypy lessons. We were overseas. He came back, played the rest of the year, and then went for P1 happily this year. The Chinese teacher duly taught them hypy. He learnt them in class. If the P1 Chinese teacher taught properly, I don't see how the kids will have problems. ds1 certainly had no problems with hypy and he aced all his tingxie on hypy the 1st term. He learnt them by himself, and in fact came home and taught me a song to remember the different pronunciations better.

(It's a very funny song, the 1st line goes "bo po mo fo, E mi tuo fo". E mi tuo fo is the phrase Buddhists use as a greeting right? They use it in the song cos it rhymes. But it is so weird when the kids sing it so happily.)

So I said I don't want any more months of hypy. I am willing to compromise and still have the 2 mths of hypy lessons in K2 (status quo) but I will not be agreeable if they add more months of lessons. (They replied yes, they are sticking to only 2 mths at the end of K2).

The other Q was from a parent who said, if the school doesn't assign homework and worksheets, and doesn't give spelling or tingxie weekly, then when the kids reach P1, they will not be used to having to do homework and will feel miserable at the change and loss of freedom.

To that, I also had a lot of comments. Kids will have the transition at one point in their lives anyway. If you introduce the homework or spelling now, that's just bringing forward their misery and transition 2 yrs forward. Shall we just let them have their short carefree childhood?

The facilitator had a good answer though, with the help of another parent. She said you can let the kids sit down with you at home now or next yr, closer to P1, with some time set aside each day. Let the kid do some worksheets or activities in activity book. Let them just get used to having to sit down and do writing and some quiet work.

She said the school is still focused on learning through play and will not be introducing tests or HW yet. Phew.... I heaved a big sigh of relief.

Here's ds2 enjoying his bright cheery classroom with his friend.

ds1 happily playing with the dinosaurs and toys in ds2's classroom. ds1 now knows all of ds2's friends and calls them his friends too. haha.

dd, in her car seat, sitting through the presentation as well. She was still happy at the start, when this pic was taken.

ds2 was so happy to see us there, he proclaimed loudly to everyone, his teachers, friends and other teachers from other classes, that this is his baby sister!

So now, the whole school knows her name and that she is his sister. All the teachers came to look at her and carry her around as well.

After the Tea, it was time for a feast. It was the celebration of my parents' 34th wedding anniversary as well as my dad's birthday. He is 73 this yr! Really old... We hope he has many many more years!

We dined at Long Beach seafood restaurant. Dh went there from work. My sis and her family were there too. They all arrived late, so there were no pics with them!




rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Saturday, May 1, 2010 ;
1:05 PM
Both boys adore their sister. But I think ds2 has more time with her because he has no homework from school and no other distractions.

ds1 will also spend time talking and playing with dd but only when he's free. Unlike his carefree brother who is enjoying his kindy so much, ds1 has spelling on Thurs, tingxie (Chinese spelling) on Fri, homework on most days now, Chess Club on Tues and Thurs till 6pm, and PAL (programme for active learning) on Thurs (1-3pm). He also has piano on Sat, and used to have swimming on Friday but we scrapped the swimming already.

A pity cos it seems less balanced now (his activities) but something has to give because I believe kids need time to "zone out" and have unstructured free play time. (PAL and Chess is part of school, not parent-enforced)

And he loves his chess and PAL. Each term, PAL is different. Last term, it was Aesthetic Arts, so they did painting and craft and so on, done by external vendor. This term, it seems they bought an external programme but the school's own teachers did the activities with them. It's an outdoor module and I thought it'd be sports but no.

From what ds1 tells me, it seems to be something like jungle survival training.

When I first heard that I wanted to laugh. It seemed ridiculous for a bunch of 7 yr olds whose parents most likely do not bring them to "jungles". A course on what to do when they get lost in the mall seemed more apt.

But then ds1 loves it. Each week, he'll return to tell me how they learnt what materials are most important when stranded or lost. Flashlight, water etc. I can't remember the rest of the tools he said. They learnt how to create a fire with friction, and how to survive on certain edible roots or whatever plants they see. How to get clear drinking water. How to signal for help. That kind of thing.

They also had some activities like being blindfolded and had to feel a rope that, according to ds1, was entwined all over the school, even up and down the 4-5 storeys (ds1 is given to exaggeration like most preschoolers are, only he is not a preschooler anymore). So I am not sure if that was really the case, but he said he loved being blindfolded and using only his sense of hearing and touch. According to him, it is about knowing how to move around in the pitch black darkness of the jungle in the night.

It's quite funny cos now all ds1 wants for us to do is to have a vacation in the jungle. I hope he doesn't really wish he gets lost so he can use all his newfound skills!

So anyway, ds2 has more pics with dd, not cos he loves her more. Just because he has much more free time. Here he is reading to her.

Sleeping with her...

(He knows he is not supposed to disturb or touch her if she is asleep - I have lost my temper before because of that - so his position is so awkward. Like he can't have the rest of his body near her, but yet he wants to hold her hand to fall asleep. :-)) So both of them end up sleeping on my bed, face down (not supposed to, for baby, I know).


ds2 wanting to "do homework" like his brother. So he requested to learn Chinese. ds1 was so happy to be the teacher, for once. dd looks on at everything in a very amused and puzzled manner. quite funny.

Fast asleep during the Wednesday Bible class - good for me, of course, then I can pay full attention. The outfit is so cute, thanks Mary!

ds2 showing his toys to dd, one by one. With long narrative too. Good thing there is someone to listen to him, he is getting more long winded!

Everyone entertaining her together, she is so blessed...



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


about us ;
-{dear-hubby}- dh
-{dear-son}-ds1 T
-{dear-son}-ds2 J
-{dear-daughter}-dd E
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