How my bedtime stories failed

I felt so guilty.

I had never told Amy a bedtime story, so one night, when she was hyper and happy (from going out the whole night perhaps) and jumping on the bed, I thought I would tell her a story to wind her down and get her ready for bed. Thus began my journey of telling my daughter bedtime stories.

Round One

As Amy was jumping around the bed, I asked her if she would like mama to tell her a bedtime story. She said yes, and sat down to listen to me.

I made up a story about three little ducks who went out to look for a toy. Halfway through though, she requested for “yeh yeh” (grandpa), so I changed it to the little ducks who went out to look for yeh yeh.

I said the ducks went out to the lake, to the forest and to the town, but yeh yeh was not there. So they went home and told their mummy, but mummy asked them to go look again at one particular shop in town.

Off they went to that particular shop, knocked on the door…

And when they opened the door, they saw yeh yeh on the bed!

Innocent story right? Happy ending right?

But immediately, Amy cried and said “scared!!” and hugged me super tightly. She cried so loudly that the hubby could hear her from the bathroom outside our room.

I couldn’t believe it. My first ever attempt at telling my daughter a bedtime story, resulted in her being scared. And that I ended her night with tears.

Well. Perhaps it was my storytelling tone. And Careen told me that the story did have a lot of suspense in it, and was quite scary (like what??!).

Round Two

Obviously I had to redeem myself.

The next day, I was trying to make Amy take her afternoon nap. So again, I asked her if I could tell her a bedtime story. Surprisingly, she said yes haha.

This time the hubby was beside us.

My story started like this:

“Once upon a time, there was a baby called Amy. And Amy loved ice cream! She ate vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, strawberry ice cream…”

And it was here that she cried and said “scared!!” and hugged me tightly again.

The hubby can attest to the fact that I told the story in a super sing song cheerful manner this time. So now I know that it is not my problem. It’s Amy’s problem.

Round Three

But I wasn’t going to give up so easily!

That same night, I tried again, and this time, it was a success!

The story went like this:

“Once upon a time, there was Amy. Amy has a papa and a mama. The end!”

She did not cry and she did not say “scared!!”! I did it!

Well, there was a look of confusion on her face that seemed to say “huh the story ended? such a short story?”, but hey! At least we did not end with any crying that night!

 

Love,

Nat

5 favourite books for babies

books2

books1

Up pup. Cup pup. Pup cup.

Amy uttered those words when she was slightly over 1 year old, and I was completely flabbergasted. Was she reading from the book?? Already??

Of course she wasn’t. But because I had been reading that book to her so often, ever since she was a few months old, she had memorised the sequence of words. The fact that the words were so catchy helped keep her interest.

I am always on the lookout for good children books, and since some of my mummy friends have asked, here are some of Amy’s favourites from when she was younger.

(By the way, all these books are board books so it’s suitable even for newborns. As you can see, most of the books have bite marks on them. See if you can spot them :P)

#1 If I Were A Pup by Jellycat

I bought this book when I was in the States, and I seriously got it just because it reminded me of my dog, Albus, haha! Every page comes with adorable pictures as well as different textures, so it is perfect for babies to explore their sensory system.

 

#2 Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden

Amy fell in love with this book at first sight. There is something about peek-a-boos that captivate babies. She could watch me go through this book again and again and still be riveted. But what she looks forward to the most is the mirror at the end, where she would make faces at herself.

#3 Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss

This was the book that Amy surprised me by reading it through page by page! The clever word play and rhymes not only entertained my baby, it entertained me too. In fact, it always makes me feel like breaking into a beat while reading this haha.

#4 Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

This book is often found in recommendation lists compiled by parents. So I bought it. But when I first got it, I was disappointed with the lack of words… It was basically pictures and “Good night so and so”. However, I guess the simplicity is what works best for babies because Amy again could go through this book again and again. She learned to identify animals like lions, gorillas, giraffes, elephants etc through this book. In fact, I think she learned to say good night from this book.

 

#5 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This was one of my recent purchases, which would explain why it is still in quite a good condition compared to the others! (It fortunately missed the teething months) This is also one of the more popular books that all parents seemed to recommend. According to Amazon, one is sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! And it is not cheap (RM37.50!)! When I first bought it, I tried to justify it by saying, it’s good artwork haha. But Amy loves it, so it’s all good. The vibrant colours and cute pictures of food, and the design of the pages, could keep Amy occupied for quite some time. One of my favourite books to bring along whenever I take Amy out with me.

 

So there you have it! Some of Amy’s favourite books. She has quite a number of other books but these are the favourite ones that kept her company from when she was a baby till now.

I’ll keep you updated when her favourite book list changes!

 

Love,

Nat

When is the right time?

I was having a conversation with my older sister about trying for babies. She, out of genuine concern for me, asked if I thought this was the right time, since our finances are not exactly in a good shape at the moment.

This is actually not a new or unique concern. Financial situation has always been one of the main considerations for families who are planning for kids. And it usually is also the reason many hold off expanding their family.

Well, if you ask me, of course it is not the right time to have kids when our finances are down.

But then again, when would be the right time?

When our finances are good? But what is good? What is enough? And what if it never becomes good? Or what if it takes years to become good? Or what if, just as it becomes good, it becomes bad? We can never tell what’s in store and what would happen in the future.

Should we wait and keep on putting off having kids, with the hope that we will one day finally be financially good enough to have kids?

I admit that financial problems are real, and the strain can be paralysing. Sometimes the hubby and I feel so anxious, not knowing how we are going to survive the next month. We also feel inadequate, that we are not able to pamper Amy with all sorts of toys and clothes. We don’t even dare to think about the sorts of classes or schools that we would love to send her to.

But yet, I do not believe we should put off having kids until everything is fine and dandy.

One reason being, we will never know when everything will be good. How long do you want to wait? 5 years? 10 years?

Secondly, even when you are well financially, it doesn’t mean you can have kids when you want.

Having kids is a blessing from God, and can not be planned or created by man.

No matter how tough it is, money can be earned. But life cannot be made just like that.

I have friends who come from really big families. Their parents were not well to do at all, but they still went ahead to have many kids, and they survived! In fact, all their kids are doing very well today.

On the other hand, I also have friends who are very well to do, but they cannot have children no matter how hard they try and no matter how much medical help they go for.

Closer to home, the hubby and i were doing superbly well financially 4 years ago. So so well. But that didn’t guarantee Alexa staying alive.

Now we are not doing well at all, but Amy is with us and she brings us so much joy.

So, when is the right time?

I feel there is none. It is really up to you and your spouse. When your heart is ready. Let your internal, and not the external conditions, dictate your family life.

Thou shall not lie… to your kids

A few nights ago, the hubby told me that a friend of his was telling him how exasperated she was because her young son has started lying to her. She was incredulous; where did he learn to lie at such a young age? (I think he is 3 or 4 years old) She said she and her husband never told him lies, so how did he pick up this bad habit?

My first response was that kids don’t need to be taught how to do wrong. The sinful nature is within each and every one of us and we would somehow know how to do wrong things even without being taught.

However, after thinking about it more, I turned to my hubby and said, “Actually it is not true that parents do not teach their kids how to lie.”

Think about it. How many times have your parents told you a “white lie” when you were growing up?

For example:

“If you’re naughty again, the policeman will come here and catch you.”

“If you are good, I will buy you all the toys you want.”

These lies may not be big, bad lies. But they are lies nevertheless.

And I do not blame parents (or even grandparents). Because sometimes it’s easier to throw out these white lies to get the kid to behave, rather than spend a long time explaining and disciplining.

But here’s the thing:

Your children see what you do more than they hear what you say, and they follow your actions more than obey your words.

So if you tell them “do not lie”, but they see you doing it all the time to them, guess what they would do?

They can’t differentiate a white lie and a bad lie. A lie is a lie. If you said you will get them that toy but you didn’t, it’s a lie. If you said you will let them watch the iPad if they finish their dinner but you didn’t, it’s a lie.

And once you have made that first lie, it breaks their trust in you. They will now know that your word is not your bond. They will have that feeling of “Yea whatevs, that’s what my dad or my mom said, but they always say that. Pfft.”

That is why, as far as I am able, I am determined not to bluff Amy in any way. Every reward that I dangle in front of her, or any threat that I make, I have to follow through. Which is why I do not threaten lightly, and I do not offer a reward easily.

If I tell her, “If you throw down the toy again, you cannot play with it today”, then I have to make sure I follow through if she throws it down again.

If I promise her that she “can watch iPad if you let mummy shower you now”, then I have to honour my word, even if she forgets about it after shower.

If you don’t think you can carry out a particular threat, then do not even say it! Resist all temptation and swallow it back down. For example, “If you are naughty, I will burn all your toys!”

Number one, I don’t think you would actually burn all the toys, which would then make your statement a lie, and then cause your kid to undermine you.

Number two, if you do burn all the toys, I think it’s too harsh an action and your kid would probably think you are mad. And think of all the money you just burned.

Finally, never assume that your kid doesn’t understand what you are saying anyway and therefore you don’t really have to follow through. Your kid is smarter than you think, and from as young as they are, they are already learning values and principles from you.

 

Love,

Nat

Essential oils and pregnancy

essential oils

I love essential oils. To be fair, I am not an expert in using them, and I still have a lot to learn. But I love the smell and the many goodness they contain.

I normally diffuse instead of apply directly, and I use the Melaleuca line of essential oils. One of my favourites is the Peace Tranquility Blend, which contains tangerine, orange, patchouli, tansy, elemi, and German chamomile blue. This smell reminds me of spa, and would create a nice, calm and relaxing atmosphere almost immediately.

Today, though, I am not going into the different types of essential oils. Instead, I want to write about essential oils and pregnancy – the do’s and don’ts, the yes and no.

Essential oils are basically highly concentrated substances extracted from plants, which means they are extremely powerful and potent. In fact, when you apply essential oils onto your skin, they are absorbed into your bloodstream. And that is why it is extremely important to know what is safe and what is not when you are pregnant.

Some experts advice mothers to stay away from essential oils when in the first trimester. While it is not exactly clear how essential oils can affect a developing baby, there is a possibility that the oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect the baby in his early developmental stages.

Otherwise, if the pregnancy is going well, these are the oils that are safe:

  • Citrus oils, such as tangerine and neroli
  • German chamomile
  • Common lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Black pepper
  • Peppermint
  • Ylang ylang
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bergamot
  • Cypress
  • Tea tree oil
  • Geranium
  • Spearmint

Oils that are not safe for pregnancy:

  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Jasmine
  • Clary sage
  • Sage
  • Rose
  • Juniper berry
  • Laurel
  • Angelica
  • Thyme
  • Cumin
  • Aniseed
  • Citronella
  • Cinnamon leaf

Some other things to note if you want to use essential oils when pregnant:

  • Only use one drop of essential oil at one time
  • Don’t use one particular oil for a long period of time, i.e. every day for several weeks
  • To be safe, only use essential oils once you are past your first trimester
  • Stay away completely if you have a history of miscarriage or if you have had any vaginal bleeding in this pregnancy
  • Always consult your doctor before using essential oils

I hope these are helpful!

 

Love,

Nat

 

Hello baby Amy

This post was written after Amy was born on 18th June 2014 in my previous blog.

It’s been awhile since my last post.

What I’ve never revealed here was that my gynae had set last Wednesday for my induction. I was to be admitted into the labour room at midnight, and be induced for vaginal birth.

I had (not so) secretly been hoping that I would go into labour without the induction, for several reasons: a) it seems better if baby number two came out on her own without being “forced”; b) induction brought back tonnes of memories.

When we found out that Alexa had passed away in my womb, I was also induced for vaginal birth. So this time, the day before being admitted into the labour room, I was highly tensed and emotional. I kept thinking about a year ago: the night before I was admitted into the labour room, I was crying my eyes out and praying so hard that Alexa would be alive. When I went to the hospital, I was tired of hoping yet refused to give up believing. When I finally delivered Alexa, the room was quiet – no cries, no screams, no happy “Congratulations”. When I was discharged from the hospital, I went home alone, without my Alexa in my arms. When I reached home, all the baby items had been cleared from visible places and kept in the nursery. My entire confinement was spent with eerie silence and plenty of tears.

These memories kept haunting me last Tuesday. The fact that I felt a little under the weather didn’t help. I was so worried that I would catch a fever right before giving birth and it would cause complications. I spent most of the night at home alone, trying not to think yet my mind refused to let me go.

I listened to the worship song “It Is Well” by Bethel Music again and again that night, and it has become the ‘theme song’ for baby number two. The lyrics spoke so much to me – they reminded me of how God has carried me through the loss of Alexa, how He has been with me throughout my pregnancy with baby number two, and assured me of how He will continue to be with me for the birth and beyond.

Midnight came, and the hubby and I checked ourselves into the hospital. By now I was relatively calmer, and was allowing myself to feel a little bit of the excitement. But I also conveniently remembered the pain that I would have to go through (yikes). The midwife came to check on my dilation, which was about 2-3 cm at 12.30am. And then… she asked me to rest! The induction would only start four hours later. The hubby and I were like, er ok… We ended up spending the time watching the TV in the labour room.

At 4am, she came back in to check on my dilation, which was the same, and she started the induction process. IMMEDIATELY (like 2 seconds after that), my contractions shot up both in pain and frequency. By 6am, I was in terrible pain, and I was beginning to feel like I want to pee (when you’re in labour and baby is going down, you would feel like peeing and pooping). The hubby and the midwife convinced me to take the mild pain killer injection – the same one I took before with Alexa – but I told the midwife that I would progress super fast once I take that injection, and that my gynae must be on standby.

She asked me how quickly did I dilate to 10cm after taking the injection the last time, and I told her it was an hour. So right after giving me the jab, she proceeded to prepare everything for the delivery. That was 6.30am, and I was 4cm dilated.

By 7.20am, I told her that I had an urgent need to push! She told me to hang on, that doctor has arrived at the hospital but was still preparing to come up to the labour room. I tried waiting for awhile, and then I told another midwife that I really really really felt like I couldn’t hold it in much longer. That midwife checked me and said I was almost 10cm, just needed to wait for one more contraction for it to be fully opened. That contraction came and gone, and then she said, “Oh, your water bag has not yet burst. Wait ah let me check with doctor if she wants to burst it.”

And I was like, “WHAT! STILL NEED TO HOLD?!”

Fortunately, she came back to me within seconds and told me that it’s alright to start pushing, because the water bag will burst by its own. Those words were such relief to my ears. And so the pushing began!

It was definitely more difficult and more painful than I remembered. But by the time I was pushing, my doctor was with me, and a few more midwives also came in to cheer me on. Man, it was like having a team of cheerleaders! And it really helped!

After pushing like mad, before I realised it, my team of cheerleaders were congratulating me and baby number two was placed in my arms at 7.45am. I looked at her and marvelled, and all I could say was, “Hello baby.” The hubby said I teared when I looked at baby number two, but all I could remember thinking was, she is alive. Thank You Jesus.

A few seconds later, she screamed and kicked, and the hubby looked at me and said, “She is a screamer. Well, we did pray for her to be kicking and screaming!”

I spent the rest of the day in the ward feeling extremely drowsy and groggy (after-effects of the pain killer injection), but so relieved that baby number two is finally out alive and well. And that we got to go home with this little one. And now my confinement month is filled with sleepless nights and baby cries.

Looking at her little tiny body, I suddenly realised that I have no idea how to take care of this little mini human entrusted to me, but I will do my best. Thank You Father for this beautiful gift. She’s my beloved, my baby Amy.

Thank you all for your constant prayer and support throughout this pregnancy. You all have been cheering me on and believing with me, and it really meant a lot to me. Baby Amy and I are extremely blessed.

 

Love,

Nat