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Day 173-2019: half year

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the tings circa June’19

‘the year is almost over!’ daddy Ting exclaims when we were talking about how a friend was lamenting half of the days off he had taken was over.

just another week to the end of the school hols. and it would be July. Indeed, the year is almost over. Just blink and it would be the end of the year already. As it is, Alex is already 7 months old.

Half a year in, we are learning. Learning more about our kids each day. As they surprise us.

My children, I hope you know that your parents are not mind readers. As you work a way to sort out your emotions, your parents are learning to handle yours. Remain open. There are no secrets in this household and we try not to judge when we can.

It has been a tiring June holidays. I made plans in mid-May, with places to go with the kids. Places that would not cost us a lot in terms of entrance fees. The meals do cost us a bit sometimes, but towards the end, we brought out more packed food from home so that we don’t have to buy more outside. It has worked out well. You, my children, did not complain and I am thankful for that.

I tried my best to take you guys out as much as possible. Same places, new experiences, and hopefully also new places. Chores were cast aside whilst we went out to have fun. Mondays and Fridays were catch up on chores days; you complained and groaned and moaned, but you did it when I nagged and complained.

By the third week, I was so done with outings. I didn’t want to go for family gatherings anymore. I was tired. All the yelling, quarrelling & fighting between the kids were getting to me. I longed for peace and quiet. I had started to block out a lot of stuff from the kids and anyone. It was just too much. Some days, I still just pushed myself ahead, but it was enough. I constantly felt I was running out of time. Out of time to bring the kids out; out of time to maintain a household (laundry laundry laundry); out of time to teach the kids (not all just about play); out of time to work; out of time..for myself.

Then one of the days, my husband unintentionally guilt tripped me. And I exploded at him. I was already feeling that I wasn’t doing enough despite the amount of things I had on my plate (I know..go figure). To have him say that I should stop looking at my phone and focus on my kid..despite spending the day at the bird park and only then getting a chance to reply to a query. Wah, not cool.

Fortunately, next week, I’d be getting one or two days to myself and allow myself to regroup and prep for another new school term for the kids. Regroup to sort out some finances, some meals for next week, and pondering about life.

tonight, I told Oliver that we say things we don’t necessarily mean when we are angry, and that I do that too, when I got angry with Donald. That it was normal but when we calmed down, we would apologise to each other and make up. I wondered if he understood and took it to heart.

today, I spotted a little gap in Alex’s lower gum. She was finally sprouting a tooth. And she has started caterpillar crawling on her mat and all over the floor. Hahaha. I told Donald, quite cute to have a baby in the house, watching her toothy grin and laugh as we play with her. Just..nice to have someone to baby and not talk back hahaha.

last night, we understood Quentin a little more when he cried in Donald’s arms, feeling wronged that his father scolded him at bedtime. He is really an awesome big brother to his sisters and even to his elder brother. Naggy, but big hearted. I need to understand him a lot more. It’s a matter of reframing, isn’t it?

ah..Sarah, my Sarah. the one who imitates me. It is hilarious as she tells her brothers off with a stern look on her face, before breaking out into a smile. It is so amazing to watch her analyse a situation, then break out into the little girl cries for help, wanting to be babied. I watch her cling to her father, face buried into the nape of his neck.

I am afraid I don’t have time to provide the best that I want for you. A clean home, experiences outside of home, teaching you what I know, loving you all and bringing you laughter. Instead, sometimes I find that I am bogged down by so many things. Would it matter to you now? Probably not, but hopefully next time it would. Yes, a clean floor may not be important, but you cannot be sloppy. Folding clothes is not a skill you need to have now, but you need to be independent in the future and not depend on me. Would it build character and independence? Probably.

But as long you know that I love you. That’s enough.

Category: Daily

Getting the Right Fit with Baby Slings & Carriers

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our first Manduca.

We bought our first soft structured carrier (SSC) back in 2011, before the arrival of our first kid. The carrier came highly recommended by a work colleague. I was eyeing the baby bjorn then. But when I read up about SSCs, there was no turning back.

Back then, babywearing didn’t get that much attention. It was just another alternative to taking your baby out. My parents never used one, much less hear about different types of carriers. I had seen people using sarongs to babywear, but never really took notice of it any further. But heck, look at how much babywearing had come. This basic Manduca has seen me through 4 kids, and has reached a faded brown hahaha. But we use it more often than the black one we got in 2014. It is so soft now that it has been worn in.

When we received our first Manduca, we fumbled with the infant insert. We panicked when Ollie cried so hard in the insert. We weren’t sure if we were wearing him the correct way. Looking back, I could almost tell what we were doing wrong, hyper-extended legs without the insert, not wearing close and high enough, footed pjs..

Of course there is Youtube. When in doubt, nothing like a video to ‘walk’ you through the process. But Youtube can’t tell you a fair bit of stuff. Let me tell you why.

After 6 years of babywearing in a SSC and trying out a wrap, I thought I had it all figured out. Until I went for a fitting session at Baby Slings and Carriers. Case in point, me with Alex in the JPMBB stretchy wrap before the fitting session, and a next day after a fitting session. I had started wrapping Sarah in 2016 after watching a Youtube video and hoping for the best that she doesn’t slide out of it.

left, my crappy wrapping skills; right, after having proper lessons on wrapping!

What I learn at a fitting session was having Pearline, a babywearing consultant and owner of Baby Slings & Carriers, telling me how tight I can wrap Alex without hurting her and providing both her and myself better support. Seriously, it felt SO much better. I had been constantly lifting her to re-tighten the wrap prior to the fitting session. As the JPMBB wrap was stretchy, there was actually alot more leeway and I could have wrapped her tighter and higher. Poor kiddo was always ‘drowning’ in my slack wrapping skills. Hahahaha. I was told that I could wrap up to a 2yo..very tempted to wrap Sarah one of these days just to give it a shot!

they have a wide range of wraps for you to try!

Not only are the team at BSC all about just getting you the right fit, I had a chat with them about support for the babywearing momma as well. In 2017, I found out that I had mild cervical spondylosis. I had been experiencing some neck problems and after an xray, we found some degenerative discs in my neck. Bummer. I also had been seeing a chiropractor for my back problems. After 6 years of babywearing and realising that A LOT of information was about having the right spinal & hip support for the baby, but nothing much was said for the wearer. I was really glad to be able to speak with Pearline about such issues and how babywearing should support BOTH the wearer and baby. I was realised to hear some of their advise does tie in with what my chiropractor says, about wearing baby closer to spread out the weight across the body, as opposed to baby hanging off me.

chatting with Pearline about wearer support

Obviously BSC have their own range of baby carriers that they retail (helloooo Manduca!), but they are not biased about their own products. There is no one fit cos well, we are all of different size, and one might just feel better using another carrier based on the support it offers. But heck, I am biased towards the Manduca so obviously I’m gonna be raving A LOT about the XT that we are using!

crash course on the XT

No fiddling with an infant insert any longer. Best idea evah, and it is f****** cushy! The shoulder straps too! I could easily want to rest my head against it to rest on it. This photo was when Alex was 2 weeks old. Back in Ollie days, we would have panicked if he as much shrieked his head of in the infant insert. Under the watchful guidance of Pearline & Michelle, and A LOT of shushing to soothe Alex, we got her nicely snuggled in the carrier and left her as that! It was the first time I actually had the shoulder straps crossed behind my back so as to make the carrier more snug for Alex, curving the panel around her. Steep learning curve siah. Back carry and side carry I can handle, but crossing the straps was another level altogether.

upgrade!

Now that Alex is 4 months old, we upgraded the XT with the ellipse ZipIn. Without the ZipIn, the zipped up panel was too short for her (her head was bobbing backwards); extending the panel fully meant she would drown in the carrier. Having the ZipIn meant the panel would still be able to provide her with the necessary neck support whilst being in the carrier. Major upgrade for us compared to the previous versions of Manducas! I had the opportunity to borrow a Size It and ellipse ZipIn to try old Manduca and they still worked like a breeze. You can always get this accessories if you managed to get your hand on Basic or Blackline Manduca.

look ma, no insert!

how the size it looks

How the fitting session felt:

You don’t feel pressured to buy anything. There is a charge for the consultation, $20, which I feel is worth it because you are paying for their time to guide you into making an educated decision about the carrier that will suit you.

Ask them ANYTHING. Okay, maybe not questions like recipes for their best bak kut teh recipe or something. Ask them anything in relation to babywearing. Tell them your concerns. When in doubt, ask! Else how to get the right fit?

Definitely bring baby along. They are really patient and will want baby to be comfortable before fitting you. No one breaks out in a sweat. Just a nice calm carrier fitting.

meet the team

They’ll be the ones to walk you through your fitting! Have an awesome and calm fitting!

Category: Reviews

Day 76: choices

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the tings, sans Alex

today, the boys talked about getting married. I was telling Donald about a friend and his girlfriend.

Oliver: eeee girlfriend!
Quentin: hey! Don’t say eee girlfriend!
Me: Yes, you’re right, Quentin, there is nothing wrong about saying girlfriend. I was daddy’s girlfriend before getting married, and Daddy was my boyfriend.
Oliver: what!

And we got into a discussion about what getting married was about. I asked them what they thought getting married was about.

Oliver: kiss and get a ring!
Me: well, getting married is more than just about a kiss and rings. When we get married, we do have same rings, but getting married is more than that. It is about a promise between two people. I promised to take care of Daddy, love him and be with him for as long as possible. Daddy has promised to protect me, love me and be with me for as long as possible too!
Oliver: when did you become daddy’s girlfriend?
Me: I became his girlfriend in 2005.

The realisation that 14 years has gone by. And that we don’t really feel any different from when we were 23 and 25. And now..we are 37 and 39. Age is just a number. It really is. But how quickly 14 years have gone by, and we barely realised it. How many 14 years would we have together?

I recently made a decision about our family. The business would have to take a backseat. With Alex turning 4 months and being more awake for longer periods and more aware of the people around her, I wanted to focus more and be there for the kids. A few events with the kids had made me realised that I wanted to remember more about that.

Quentin was growing up and proudly taking his role as an older brother to this two sisters. He is awesome. I can always count on him to emotionally care for his sisters, to not them be upset or distressed.

Oliver is in primary school. His time with us has been reduced significantly, and as his interactions with his siblings. On the other hand, he was getting some one on one time with his father on the way to school. Donald’s time has come in to be the role model to his son. I would still pick him from school, and one day, he asked if I could pick him up without his siblings. I had the rare few occasions of picking him alone when my dad would come over in the afternoons so that the other two kids did not need to tag along.

My heart ached for him. Ollie asks the most questions about everything, about life, about concepts, about principals. He thirsts for knowledge, any kind of knowledge as he thinks about it. And I try my best to answer it as much as possible. I love talking to him as we go through life. And he tries his best to understand the way a 7yo can. I have resorted to hiding notes for him in his school bag so that he is reminded that we are there for him, and he is not forgotten.

One other reason why I wanted to focus more on the kids was…the trust they placed in us. Yesterday, I was upset with the boys, who had promised to keep their Lego sets before I released the new sets to them, only to have them break their promise when they were completed with it. It had happened so many times. I reminded Oliver that the trust had been broken time and again, and I was so done with it. I told him that I was disappointed in him. And he knew that I rarely severely discipline him.

Donald stepped him to talk to Ollie, and made him aware of his emotions. There was anger at not being able to play Lego anymore, and there was sadness, as I was disappointed in him.

And there was reconciliation, something that I didn’t have as I went through a very tumultuous relationship with my mother. I made sure that there was reconciliation after every scolding, and trust was built again, and there was love. I reminded Oliver that I may be angry with him, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love him. Reconciliation is when he voluntarily gives me a hug and kiss, walks away and comes back for another hug and kiss after saying good night. He goes to bed reassured and secure, and we start again the next day.

This is us with our kids. We are not perfect, but we move on and try again the next day, and we talk.

Earlier last week, I dreaded the school holidays, about breaking routine and catering to all four kids. Would we have cabin fever?

Then I had fun at our outing yesterday at East Coast Park. Sure I had my mom watching a napping Alex in the tent, whilst I spent time with the kids. It made a diff. But it also reminded me that the school hols should be a time to remind ourselves of the flexibility we had before Ollie went to primary school and that all the more, we should head out and spend time together. So I started looking around at things to do for the school hols.

As it is, I am typing this and prepping cookie dough so that the kids could cut the cookies out tomorrow as an activity. And Oliver has requested to learn about temperatures and the earth-moon-sun rotation tomorrow. WTH. My brain is gonna hurt reading about it. We borrowed books from the library too, so we will be reading some books together.

Donald told me something, when I told him I wanted to focus more on the kids. I was feeling guilty as we were financially tight, and every cent from the business does help us to go along.

‘well, do it. You became a SAHM to be with the kids, not build a business.’ And I am very very thankful for his support and very fortunate to be able to do so. The assurance and peace to be with the family. Today, I am reminded again that I probably have another 5-6 years before I have even lesser time with Ollie as he grows and makes more friends.

If not now, then when?

Both Donald and I have had to make some decisions, regarding work and family. It has always been a no brainer for us, to have as much time as possible with the kids is top priority. Almost everything else can wait. Well, except money for insurance. No insurance and 4 kids is a disaster hahaha.

Adulting sucks but ah well, we’ve got the 4 monsters to look after, it’ll all be cool.

Category: Daily