We’ve Moved!

Hello! We’ve moved to our new site:

http://growingwiththetans.com

See you there! :)

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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

2012 has been a year filled with plenty of blessings from God.

C and I had a good few months of couplehood, as he took a four month break after completing his MBA, to spend some time with me before starting work at his current company. We went on our Babymoon to Taiwan, which seems to be THE travel destination these days, but to be honest, we only chose to go there because it’s not a long flight and C has some friends there. We didn’t do much there as I was in my second trimester and had been experiencing some cramps before we left, so the gynae told us to take it easy.

We also visited C’s grandma in Terengganu and had a nice, relaxing time in the kampung. The drive up was quite a challenge, more so for the three drivers, but at least I was over my morning sickness phase by then! My bladder was put to the test on the long journey, but at least we took regular breaks along the way. C wants to bring Noah to Terengganu one day, but I just can’t imagine entertaining Noah on such a long road trip, and don’t get me started on having to change his diapers etc! Maybe in a few years time. Maybe.

We also celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a simple meal and quality time together. We love our food, so having a good meal is usually the best kind of celebration for us.

C started working with a new company this year, and although he still has to travel quite a bit, his trips are usually short ones. He used to be away for months previously, only coming back for a weekend each month, so him being away for a few days each time now is a huge improvement. I don’t know how we survived those long periods apart in those days!

As for myself, I’ve been on no-pay leave since June 2011 and I’ve just extended it for another year. I do miss teaching of course, but I’m glad that I’ve kept in touch with my colleagues and ex-students too. I love that my ex-students still contact me and I was especially touched when one of them called me to inform me that he was headed back to Indonesia after his A Levels and to update me on his plans for 2013.

I also started this blog and I’m thinking of doing more with it, so keep a look-out for some changes! I’m not the best with IT-related matters, but I do want more control over how my blog looks and works, so C is helping me with that. This blog has helped me to meet new people and to re-connect with old friends too! I enjoy seeing people liking my posts and commenting on them, although these happen mainly on Facebook rather than on the blog itself. I’ve gotten lots of support throughout my five-plus months of motherhood, and I really appreciate all the advice and feedback I’ve gotten each time I post a new blog entry. Keep them coming, okay? ;)

Finally, the best thing that happened to us this year is definitely the birth of our little boy. He’s changed our lifestyle quite a bit, but he has brought us so much joy, and parenthood has been a much-welcomed new phase is our lives.

Our little family

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In 2013, we pray that God will continue to bless our family with good health, and fill our home with His abundant joy. There will be many new challenges ahead, and we ask that God will walk with us and guide us in our journey together.

May God bless each and every one of you in this new year too! :)

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Filed under Family, Friends, God, Love, Noah

Christmas 2012

We celebrated Christmas this year on a much smaller scale than usual, but it was no less meaningful than all the previous years. It’s tough to organise or even attend many celebrations with a baby in tow, and we’ve been blessed with very understanding family members and friends, who have organised the gatherings instead and even compromised on the earlier timings that we have requested. No, we aren’t diva parents, but it’s really no fun at all being at a gathering with a crying baby!

We started the day at church, singing Christmas carols and being reminded of the true reason for the season. It’s easy to get carried away by the food and gifts during this period, but Christmas is so much more than that. It still awes me that God would give us such a wonderful gift, His Son, knowing full well that He has to die, in order for us to live. His love for us is truly unfathomable. I was especially touched by this worship song that we sang during the Christmas service and thought it’d be nice to share it here. May it minister to you, as it did me.

When I call on your name you answer
When I fall You are there by my side
You delivered me out of darkness
Now I stand in the hope of new life

By grace I’m free
You’ve rescued me
All I am is Yours

CHORUS:
I’ve found a love greater than life itself
I’ve found a hope stronger and nothing compares
I once was lost; now I’m alive in You

You’re my God and my firm foundation
It is You whom I’ll trust at all times
I give glory and praise, adoration
To my Saviour who’s seated on high

BRIDGE:
Love came down and rescued me
I thank You, I thank You
I once was blind but now I see
I see You, I see You

We’ve been very blessed to have received so many gifts and we are very grateful for all the love showered upon us. We thank God for each and every one of you and pray that He will bless all of you with good health and abundant joy.

Here’s a very happy Noah with all his gifts on Christmas Day!

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Inappropriate Nursery Rhymes

My MIL came down to Singapore from Malaysia recently to spoil Noah rotten for a visit and has been singing all sorts of strange nursery rhymes to Noah. I guess it’s been a while since she last sung them, as she can’t seem to remember the lyrics. I guess that’s where C gets his inability to remember lyrics too!

MIL: Come, let’s sing Humpty Dumpty!

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty back on the wall

Me: Errr… It’s ‘Couldn’t put Humpty together again’

*******

MIL: Baa Baa black sheep have you any wool?
Jack and Jill went up the hill

Me: Huh? Those are two different nursery rhymes!

MIL: Never mind lah. Noah doesn’t know anything much what.

Me: Erm, no, I think you should teach him the right thing. Please sing the whole song properly.

MIL: Baa Baa black sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three black fools

C: What are you singing? Why are you being racist? It’s ‘three bags full’! Not ‘three black fools’!

MIL: Hahaha. No, I sang it correctly!

Us: You didn’t… We both heard you…

*******

Maybe I should have gotten her a CD of nursery rhymes for Christmas. Guess we just have to listen carefully to whatever she sings to Noah now, just in case she teaches him the wrong thing and he gets confused when he’s older.

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With All My Love… #7

My dearest Noah,

You’re five months old today! I marvel daily at how much you’ve grown, especially when I’m nursing you, because that’s when I get to zone out look at you closely. You’re taller now, and Daddy and I were just reminiscing last night about how tiny you were when you were born. I remember how auntie, our confinement lady, would bring you to me at night for me to nurse you, and how much we struggled to get into the routine of breastfeeding. She would help to position you properly, and then help me to latch you on, like fixing two Lego bricks together. You were so small then that your legs barely extended past the width of my belly, but now, you can rest your feet comfortably on the bed.

Speaking of Lego, I’m really looking forward to the day that you’ll be old enough to play with it. Right now, you don’t have a favourite toy, apart from Daddy, I mean. Your fingers are really quite short, something which I think you inherited from me, sorry, but it means that you have difficulties holding big items. You’ve got no problems grabbing our fingers and pulling my hair, but your fingers are too short to curl round Sophie the Giraffe’s neck. Soon, okay?

You’ve learnt how to play with people and everyone loves what a happy baby you are. You smile readily at everyone and chortle with glee when we play with you. Sometimes, we don’t even know what you’re laughing at, but hey, we’re not complaining! Just today, you peed on yourself four times and you seemed to find it hilarious, giggling away as I cleaned you up and scolded you for creating such a mess. Your eyes twinkled and you kicked your legs so happily that I just couldn’t get upset with you. I love pretending to chomp on your chubby arms, which always gets you giggling. You’ve been sucking on your hands and everything that you can get your little hands on, but as long as it keeps you happy and quiet, I’m okay.

Oh yes, grandma taught you how to ‘knock heads’ with people and we’ve been getting you to do it quite a bit these days because you’re so cute when you do it. I confess that when grandma told me that you could understand her when she tells you to ‘knock head’, I told her that you probably did it involuntarily as your neck isn’t strong enough. I was so surprised and amused when she demonstrated it to me a few days ago!

I still haven’t started you on solids yet, because I really don’t think that you’re not growing well. You seem perfectly fine, smiling away all the time and I mean, look at your chunky thighs! Anyway, after discussing it with daddy, we decided to put it off for a while more. I enjoy nursing you, even though I keep getting blocked ducts, because you seem most baby-like then. You’re growing up so fast that I just want to keep you as my baby for as long as possible. Solids can wait!

It’ll be your very first Christmas in two days time, and I’m looking forward to it. You probably won’t know what’s going on, but we’ll take photos and show them to you when you’re older. We’ll have to come up with Christmas traditions soon, but one of them will definitely be going to church on Christmas morning itself. I look at you and imagine how much love Mary must have felt for her baby that night too…

Baby, you’ve brought papa and mama so much joy these five months and we are truly very blessed to have you in our lives. Happy fifth month, darling. May our God continue to watch over you and bless you with good health.

With all my love,
Mummy

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Filed under Growing Up, Letters to Noah, Love, Noah, Parenthood

Silly Things We Say / Do #3

This happened long ago but is too funny not to share! I’ve told this tale to many of our friends, but no harm telling it again here right? It’s a story that I plan to share with Noah when he’s older too, so writing about it here will definitely serve as a reminder next time.

After Noah’s jaundice had more or less cleared up within his first month, we decided to switch paediatricians, mainly because the one at TMC was terribly crowded and each time we were there for Noah’s checkup, we spent more time waiting to see the doctor than actually seeing her. The parking was also a nightmare and we figured that we would be better off somewhere else.

At his first appointment with Dr Tay, we had to fill up the patient registration card and since I was carrying Noah, C was tasked to do the paperwork. Noah had just turned a month old and I assumed that C would have no trouble with all the forms and cards. I guess it’s true that when you assume, you make an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’!

When I called the clinic later that month to inquire about Noah’s next appointment, I was surprised to hear that there was no such patient registered at the clinic. There was a Noel, but no Noah. Yes, my brilliant husband, MBA and all, had spelt his own son’s name wrongly.

C denied that he had made the mistake, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps his handwriting was too messy and the nurse was the one who made the mistake. We checked the card on our next visit and there, printed clearly in C’s handwriting, was Noel Tan. No cursive handwriting or illegible scrawl to blame it on. He tried convincing me that I was the one who filled in the card and insisted that it wasn’t his handwriting, before claiming to have been having a conversation with his friend, Noel, just before that. Excuses, excuses.

So there you have it. My husband couldn’t even get his own son’s name right. Tsk tsk. Good thing I pre-printed Noah’s full name out for C to register his birth at the hospital, or Noah might have a totally different name now.

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Please, God, Not Again…

Despite my efforts to pump after nursing, I woke up at 2am with the distinctive pain and dull ache in my left boob again. I nursed Noah, changed his diaper, nursed him on the same side again, pumped for ten minutes, but the ache defiantly throbbed on. I contacted the massage lady and thank God that she responded this morning to say that she had one last slot available for today.

This time round, I can’t seem to feel the lump but the area is warm to the touch, which is a telltale sign that something is wrong. I hate that this happens on a monthly basis to me, and it makes my breastfeeding journey a tough one. I know I should pump after every feed, but it’s tough to even find time to go to the loo, much less do the entire wash-sterilize-pump-wash routine frequently. It also doesn’t help that the baby is a real whine-pot, whining the second I step out of his sight, and is a poor napper to boot.

I love the little boy to bits and I love being able to breastfeed him, but it really bothers me that I keep getting these blocked ducts. I hope to be able to keep breastfeeding him for as long as possible, so I pray that this will really be the last time that I suffer from blocked ducts. I am reluctant to start him on solids before he turns six months old, mainly because I have this irrational feeling that he will seem less like my baby… Yes I am fully aware that it makes me sound crazy, but I can’t help it! One more month to go before he gets his first taste of cereal… *sob*

On a separate note, this is the happy face that greets me every morning! I thank God that Noah wakes up with a smile all the time and waits patiently in his cot for us to wake up. He coos and babbles to himself, sucks on his mittens, and is quite content to just lie there. When he spots me peering into his cot, he beams and squirms happily. Have I mentioned how much I love him? :)

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Books, Books, and more Books!

C and I both love reading, so one of the things we hope Noah will inherit from us is the love of books. We weren’t one of those parents who read to the baby while he was still in my womb, but we’ve been reading quite regularly to him over the past few months. I found a list of suggested titles for babies/toddlers, and selected a few of them for C to buy when he was in the US on a business trip. I also asked a few of my friends for recommendations and some very kindly passed me their kids’ pre-loved books too!

Currently, my personal favourite bedtime reading for Noah are two books by Sandra Boynton: The Going to Bed Book and Pajama Time!. In fact, I love all her books so far, as they have very colourful drawings and easy-to-remember rhymes. I’ve read the books so often to Noah that I have already memorised the text in both these books, and sometimes, when we are out and he gets cranky, I start reciting them to him and it calms him down immediately. I’m really looking forward to the day that he can read aloud along with me, though I know that won’t happen any time soon. For now, I’m just glad that he sits quietly with me when I read to him, and we sometimes go through quite a few at a time. 

Another favourite is of course, the ever popular The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We got this as a hand-me-down from a friend, and Noah seems to enjoy having it read to him too. I’ve read that children love having the same books read to them over and over again, so I try to stick to a few books at a time. For a period of time, I tried introducing him to Bear Snores On, but for some strange reason, Noah would start whining each time I started reading it to him. Initially, I thought he just wasn’t in the mood for a book, but once I picked up another book, usually a Sandra Boynton one such as Barnyard Dance!, he would quieten down again and sit through the entire book reading. Perhaps babies do understand more than what we give them credit for…

Keen to buy books for yourself or your little one, but don’t know where to look? Kinokuniya is always a nice place to start, if you enjoy browsing in a bookstore, but if you are like me and prefer shopping online, two websites that offer reasonably priced books are Book Depository and Fishpond. Both offer free international shipping, and like a typical kiasu Singaporean, I compare the price of a book on both sites before making my purchase. I’ve only ordered books from Book Depository so far, but I plan to try Fishpond next time, if I can get a good deal on it. Happy shopping! :)

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DIY & Green Christmas Tree

A couple of years ago, we bought a huge artificial tree, complete with a variety of ornaments, and happily set it up. However, we were too lazy to take it down and to my mother’s great horror, we left it up for an entire year. One fine day, she came over for a visit, took down all the ornaments, dismantled the tree, and packed it all away in our storeroom for us. (Thanks again, mum!) So now you know how lazy we are.

Anyway, C and I decided that it was way too much of a hassle to set the tree up again this year, even though it’s Noah’s first Christmas, because we don’t think he will remember it at all. My mummy guilt nagged at me but it just wasn’t strong enough to overpower my laziness. The thought of setting up and taking down the tree made me feel exhausted.

Recently, I chanced upon a simple home-made Christmas tree online. It looked quite easy, is environmentally friendly and definitely easy on the wallet, so I decided to try it out. Here’s a step-by-step guide, in case anyone wants to make one too.

1. Get a green bottle. I used a 1.5l bottle of Sprite, as I wanted a larger ‘tree’. The ‘tree’ I saw online was made using the smaller 500ml bottle. It was also empty (hence recycled and environmentally friendly) but we’re not really soda-drinkers, so our ‘tree’ is still filled with Sprite. I figured it’s heavier this way and less likely to be toppled by the wind.

2. Use ribbons to decorate the bottle any way you like. This is what I did.

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3. Put some stickers on it. I found some old Christmas-themed ones in my stash.

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4. Add some chenille stems.

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5. Make some ribbon bows too if you like.

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6. Cut out a star (I used an old Crabtree and Evelyn catalogue cover for it as it was made of rather sturdy material) and use Blu-tack to stick it on the top.

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That’s it! You can use other materials to decorate the tree too, but I worked with whatever I had.

My inspiration for the tree

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So our Christmas tree for the year is up and the presents that we’ve received have also been placed ‘under’ it.

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Noah seems pretty pleased with it so my mummy guilt has been assuaged. :)

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Seven more days to Christmas! I’m guessing we won’t need my mum to take down our tree this year. ;)

PS. For an even greener Christmas, I use recycled magazine pages and unwanted flyers to wrap the gifts. Try it out too!

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Product Review – Maternalove

Maternalove Logo

As a nursing mother, I’ve realized that my entire pre-pregnancy wardrobe has been rendered redundant, at least until I stop breastfeeding. I’ve been on the lookout for pretty nursing tops and dresses, and was thrilled to discover Maternalove!

To be honest, the nursing wear I’ve seen in the malls can be a tad ugly boring unimaginative and some are downright ‘auntie’ looking. I’m fully aware that I’m not one of those yummy mummies who look as though they just stepped out of a fashion magazine. The only kind of modeling I’d probably be allowed to do will most likely be for buffet advertisements. It can be rather demoralizing, trying to squeeze into a top or dress that doesn’t seem made for women who have just given birth. All I want is a top or dress that doesn’t accentuate my post-pregnancy flabby belly, allows me to breastfeed easily and discreetly, and doesn’t look like it came from the local wet market or the fifties. Is that really too much to ask for?

I admit that I had my doubts about purchasing clothes for myself online. It’s tough enough to find clothes that fit me well when I try them on in the shops, let alone without being able to try them on or even touch them to feel the material. Thus, it was with much skepticism that I placed my first order with Maternalove. I dutifully took my measurements, compared them to their size chart, ordered two tops and a dress, then crossed my fingers and waited for my purchase to arrive. There were so many interesting designs that I had a hard time deciding what to get!

When the items arrived, I followed the washing instructions closely, as I’ve had bad experiences when I washed other pieces of clothing that I purchased elsewhere. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the colours didn’t run or fade, neither did the items shrink or expand in size after a wash. I must confess that I have since worn these items numerous times and they have been through the washer and even the dryer on multiple occasions, and have come out looking exactly the same. They are even as soft as the day they arrived after so many washes!

This time round, I got the Ariel Nursing Top in Cobalt Blue as well as the Goddess Convertible Dress in Black.

Ariel Nursing Top in Cobalt Blue 

Maternalove Top 1

Ratings Guide
♥ Hmmm…     ♥♥ So-so     ♥♥♥  Not bad     ♥♥♥♥ Like it     ♥♥♥♥♥ Love it!

1. Comfort and Fit: ♥♥♥♥♥

The soft material is a definite plus and I love how comfortable the top is, even on really warm days. When I head out with my baby, he’s usually seated snuggly in his baby carrier, which I wear in front. This means that it can potentially get really warm for both of us, but the top is made of such good material that I am perfectly comfortable in it, even for long hours with the baby strapped to my chest.

Sizing was easy to figure out, as the size chart provided on the website is very accurate. This is a definite plus point as it makes shopping online much easier and I can rest assured that my items will fit me well.

2. Nursing Access: ♥♥♥♥♥

The nursing openings are very discreet and can be accessed simply by pulling aside the drape overlayer. I thought it was a very good idea to have those three buttons running vertically down the middle opening, as they prevent any accidental slips or ‘wardrobe malfunctions’. These buttons were easily opened and closed with one hand, which is important when you are holding a squirming baby with your other hand.

Close-up of nursing access 

Maternalove Top Close-up

3. Quality: ♥♥♥♥♥

The stitching and workmanship are impeccable. There are gathers that fall prettily in front, making up the stylish and elegant overlayer.

Close-up of top

Maternalove Top 2

I was surprised to find that it is made from 95% rayon and 5% spandex as it felt similar to one of my bamboo cotton tops. I also love the top’s bright cheerful shade of cobalt blue, and it adds a lovely splash of colour to my wardrobe. This top is also available in Rose, and I’m extremely tempted to get it too, as good nursing wear isn’t easy to come by.

I had no problems with washing and drying the top at all. Although the washing instructions state that it should be dried flat, I threw caution to the wind after the first wash and popped it into my dryer, without any adverse effects. I do recommend following the washing instructions, since they come from the manufacturer direct, but as we don’t have a drying area in our flat, most of our clothes go into our dryer to save time and space.

Goddess Convertible Dress in Black  

Maternalove Dress

1. Comfort and Fit: ♥♥♥♥♥

The material of this dress is nice and soft, just like the top, and I was perfectly comfortable in it.

This is a convertible dress that can be worn in TEN different ways! I really wish I had this dress when I was pregnant, as it doubles up as a maternity dress too. This is definitely worth the investment, as it can be tied up differently to create a variety of looks, and no one will even know that it’s the same dress.

I tried the Butterfly Sleeve method for the wedding dinner I attended last week, and loved that it covered my shoulders well and kept me warm in the air-conditioned ballroom. The dress was also loose enough to allow me to pig out, even though my post-pregnancy belly still makes me look as though I’m in my second trimester.

The dress is basically a tube dress, with two extremely long pieces of fabric which serve to form the sleeves, although they can be neatly tucked away if you wish to wear it as a strapless dress. Just follow the wearing instructions on the website, which can be downloaded as a PDF file for your convenience.

2. Nursing Access: ♥♥♥

I found the nursing access on the tube underlayer to be a little small, and preferred to pull down the tube on the side from which I wanted to breastfeed. This may just be the way I prefer to nurse my baby, as he is in the stage where he struggles a lot under the nursing cover, and I found it faster to pull the tube down, rather than try to position him properly at the nursing access area.

3. Quality: ♥♥♥♥♥

The material used for the dress is the same soft one as the Ariel nursing top, and the workmanship is also flawless. I really love how cleverly simple and versatile the dress is. Personally, I think that this dress is the ideal Little Black Dress for both the pregnant and nursing mother, perfect for all occasions. If you prefer something bright, the dress also comes in Fuchsia.

As with the Ariel nursing top, I popped this dress into the washing machine, with no adverse effects. However, I chose to line dry it on our tiny drying rack, as the rack happened to have some extra space on it that day. It dried quickly despite the lack of sunlight in my kitchen.

Overall Conclusion 

I love both the Ariel nursing top and the Goddess convertible dress, mainly because of how comfortable they are. Discovering the Maternalove range of nursing wear has really been a godsend as good, affordable nursing wear is hard to come by, in my opinion. My current wardrobe is less than one-tenth of what I used to have, as I am limited to nursing wear, so it makes me very happy to be able to shop online for more clothes now. My friends who have seen me in these outfits actually commented that they didn’t know they were nursing wear, which makes me confident that I can still wear them after I stop nursing.

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Maternalove Year-end Sale Image

Maternalove is currently having its year-end sale, with up to 50% off storewide. For purchases above $300, you can enjoy an additional 10% off by keying in the code LESS10 during checkout. Both promotions are valid till 27 December 2012.

Do take a look at their wide selection and get yourself an item or two (or more). If you need an excuse to shop, you can always think of it as a Christmas gift for yourself! Nursing, be it in public or in the privacy of a nursing room, is difficult enough without having to struggle with poorly made nursing wear, so I don’t believe in settling for ill-fitting ones. In addition, the Maternalove range is pretty enough to be worn even after you stop nursing, so you don’t have to feel guilty about expanding your wardrobe to fit your current needs.

PS. To my male readers: If your wife is currently pregnant or breastfeeding, a nursing top or dress (or both) will be a practical and thoughtful Christmas gift!

PPS. Do ‘like’ the Maternalove Facebook page for updates on new arrivals and sales.

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Disclosure: I received the Ariel nursing top and Goddess convertible dress for review. All opinions are my own.

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