#tbt

Can’t believe that Nat will be turning 1 in slightly less than 2 months. It’s like SO many things have happened between 2016 and now. As I reminiscent about the past, I’m in bed with Nat, who’s asleep and will need to be put in his crib soon. I know there’s always work to clear but I’ll deal with that later or tomorrow because he’ll only be a baby once.

The above is one of my favorite photos.

3 months old.

On maternity leave.

Not much care in the world.

Such a happy and smiley baby.

Time really flies.

– CK

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Choices

When you have an Asahi at 1100, you know are already lamenting the pending end of the vacation. A friend said, I can’t keep traveling and enjoying life. True that. This is the last getaway before I start a 4-day workweek (another post for that). Raw truth – I have no qualms working. I like what I do. It’s the other obligations, people and emotions that I suck at. 

Is it so hard to just do nothing on weekends? There seems to always be errands to run and/or people to visit. 

Weekdays are much preferred because it’s predominantly work and then home. People and things don’t get in the way because it’s largely operational. We have dinner, go home to wash Nat up, he goes to bed and we have time to ourselves to Netflix or finish up urgent work. 

So strangely, it’s the weekends that I wish I didn’t have because of the multitude of things that happen unless it’s just the 3 of us, then I’m okay. 

The same friend also said that for most things and decisions, I always have a choice. 

True that again, so I am going to be more conscious in exercising that choice and do what makes me happy. 

Adulthood (and some obligations that come attached) is tiring. 

– CK 

Dream Away 

I came across this photograph in a shophouse along Love Lane, Penang and bought it because there was a plethora of thoughts that came to mind. I thought of HJ’s dream(s), thought of my previous dream or fantasy to study and live in Germany. I wanted to walk away but I kept thinking about it so now I get to bring this home and then maybe, be reminded that it’s never too late to make things happen. 

The shop lady then told us that this was previously along Stewart Lane, but has since been painted over. What a pity. 

So back to this idea of dreams. 

There is no way I have any regrets when I look at how blessed we are, especially now with Nat. 

Maybe my only regret is not going for a student exchange in University?

Some days I also think about how things could have been if we didn’t have a family of our own yet – could we both be overseas studying and living for a year? 

Or maybe we won’t even have done that because of other commitments like our jobs and families? 

Technically, even with a family of our own, that can still happen but I’m always hampered by fear. 

Fear of losing security, fear of the unknown, fear of being lonely, fear of getting out there and being vulnerable. This then rubs off on HJ as well because whatever he does, also takes into consideration how I feel. 

Maybe what I need is a long vacation in Europe? Long enough to see the bulk of the places I yearn to visit e.g. Eastern Europe, Italy… Maybe this can still happen but just not now? 

Owell, for now I shall just bring the photograph home and be reminded of my dreams. Hopefully, I will be able to actualise some of them. 

– CK

Kent Vale 

Last weekend we brought Nat for a rather unusual staycation at a University campus residence – Kent Vale @ the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was a good break because we’re seldom at the western side of Singapore and it was sooooo peaceful since it wasn’t a typical hotel with crowds. 

All refreshed …

 

We booked a 1 bedroom apartment for $160 (nett) as part of a deal my sister enjoys as she’s currently working at NUS. 

The moment we entered, HJ exclaimed, “can we move out of our place and into here!” haha because everything here looks so neat! The best part was the fully-equipped kitchette, which we used to prep Nat’s meals. 

  •  On a side note, this made us realize that going anywhere with a baby isn’t a walk in the park thanks to meal prep issues. HJ is now more convinced that Nat should not travel until he’s older. This is because I try to not deviate too far from Nat’s usual homecooked menu so even if I get those bottled baby food, I still packed squash, salmon and pasta to steam and mix together with the bottled food. 

Anyway, back to the staycation… 

Kent Vale guest services also provided us with a baby crib, with the mattress and bedding all set up the moment we checked it. I think Nat was very pleased with his crib because it reminded him of his sleep space at home.

  • Usually, I try to get a separate crib for Nat when we go for staycates. Most of the time, the hotels are able to provide a baby crib but this Kent Vale one was the best thus far because it resembled Nat’s crib at home the most. If the hotels are not able to accommodate , Nat would sleep in bed with us but I am very paranoid of him moving around in the middle of the night when we’re in deep sleep and risk ending up on the floor. 

The next best part of the staycation deal was that we also received 2x free tickets to the Natural History Museum, in NUS so we brought Nat there on Day 2 after we checked out. 

Overall, I think it was very worth it since we all had a relaxing, crowd-free break. 

Can’t wait for our next one. 

– CK 

Time Alone 

Today is a Teachers’ Day holiday for us and  am thankful that my mom was more than willing to go through it as if it was a normal ‘work’ Thursday. That’s because I do want to have some time to clear some work. There’s also just so many things on my mind that kept me up until 2am so now I’m paying the price by feeling totally hungover.

I think about…

  1. Nat’s safety. It’s really impossible to ensure no ‘accident’ happens and that he doesn’t hurt himself. I think for now we can only abide by certain cardinal rules which is to never leave him unattended (duh right) and to always have him within touching distance when he’s on the high chair or crawling etc. I’ve been so bothered by this to the extend that HJ told me I woke up one night uttering some words of caution to him about Nat’s safety. I was also kept up last night because I kept playing a scene of him hoisting himself out of his crib (once he can walk?) and falling 4 feet to the floor.
  2. Work matters. There’s so much to be done and deadlines to be met. I know that’s the norm but it is mildly frustrating when my work momentum gets a bit thrown off in view of the long weekend. The inertia to get down to finishing some pieces of work is real while the deadline looms over my head.

So at 2-3 am last night, I was just struggling to calm down and fall asleep because everytime I closed my eyes, my mind would wander in circles about the same issues.

Maybe I should also not work out and/or go for exercise class at night? It really opened up too much of my mind such that I could not stop thinking. The adrenaline was too much.

Sigh… and I think HJ summed it up very aptly, he said, “welcome to motherhood.”

– CK

Food Testing 8-9 months

So the food testing has somewhat decelerated for Nat because we have done quite a bit of tests throughout the 5-7 months. The fun part to his current menu planning comes in thinking of appetizing ways to cook and test his food. Sadly, even though some of the recipes taste quite nice, it gave him some gas so we’ll try them again in a few weeks. 

The Experiment: 

Two examples of foods that we recently tested that didn’t sit too well with Nat’s tummy was corn and asparagus. 

Instead of serving just the puréed form, we made them into soup via adding a bit of milk and for asparagus, potato to enhance the taste. This is only possible because Nat already tested for the other vegetable. 

The Observations:

For corn, his poop was a bit soft and he kept passing gas throughout the day. For asparagus, he had a bloated stomach until night time.

The Conclusion:

Under such circumstances, the above doesn’t count as a food allergy but perhaps, Nat is more sensitive to certain foods so we’ll re-introduce it to him again next month. 

This happened too for blueberries, which resulted in some red spots (rashes?) on his hands but our PD says we can try introducing it after a few weeks. 

Menu Planning for 8-9 months

In terms of his menu planning, we also started varying his meals into Chinese vs Western, with the former being porridge and the latter, baby pasta. 

Strangely, we also observed that minced meat (beef/pork/chicken) somehow remains very dry even after you steam/cook it and Nat really loves his fish, especially salmon belly compared to threadfin.

 As such, we started mixing a tiny portion of minced meat and fish inside all his Chinese or Western meals. This way, it’s not too dry nor is the smell particularly fishy, which is the case if we use either minced meat or fish. 

So now, we have somehow reached a ‘sweetspot’ of a formula for his meals. 

Porridge/pasta 

  • 1x tiny ball of minced meat
  • 1x piece of fish (approx 2 by 1 inch)
  • 3 tiny portions of vegetables – squash/carrots, spinach and wintermelon*

*only for porridge 

So moving forward… as Nat approaches 10 months, I need to quickly start thinking of other food ingredients to test and come up with various food combinations for his menu. 

Like HJ jokes, it’s like some project with research, Googledocs and MS word calendars but I guess that’s why I enjoy it. 

– CK 

Why so sticky? 

Nat was being all sticky yesterday and I thought it was the fall but maybe not… usually he can be left alone to his own devices but he’s a tad clingy now. It’s like he really knows when we put him down and walk away and he will start fussing because he wants to be carried. Apparently babies go through this thing called ‘separation anxiety’, but I’m right there??

So I found myself in particularly sticky situation last night. HJ went to exercise and buy dinner back. It was 7pm and Nat probably got restless/tired/clingly – basically all of that combined.

I could not leave him in the playpen to go and prep his wash up basin and towel because he would start crying.

Usually I’ll let him fuss for a few minutes because I don’t believe in responding to his every beck and call. Typically, he’ll calm down on his own but yesterday was just out of the norm.

So I just placed him in the carrier while I went to prep his wash up items. At least my hands were free and Nat was quiet since he was stuck to me.

Sigh. This is quite strange. Then I came across his article about separation anxiety.

Before the eighth month, it’s almost as if your child has no short-term memory. “If you take a toy away, it no longer exists to the child; or if Mommy or Daddy leaves, she or he is forgotten,” explains pediatrician Ari Brown, MD, coauthor of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year (Windsor Peak Press). That’s why a 4-month-old has little trouble going from the arms of one adult to another. Several months pass, and baby turns an intellectual corner. “As a baby’s brain matures, she realizes that things still exist even though she can’t see them anymore,” Dr. Brown says.

This means Nat probably recognises us, which is great but it’s also really hard to do things when he’s awake. I guess this isn’t an issue per se as Nat is still relatively very easygoing. For instance, he has no reaction whatsoever when we leave the house for work. Somedays I don’t think he really knows who we/I am like I can be gone for the entire day/evening and he’s totally okay – which is very good news for me/us actually. I think I’ve gotten too used to that that’s why now, I have to adjust a bit since he’s starting to become more clingy in the evenings.

I just hope he doesn’t throw a tantrum the next time we leave the country to travel without him. I really don’t know how to package it or explain it to him in a ‘nice’ way. I mean to be really honest, I/we just need a break, to get away from this country and be in a bubble for a few days – a bubble with no obligations or responsibilities for just that short period, I call it my la la land. I can only wish he doesn’t get to that point of comprehension so soon.

– CK

Crawling 

One day, HJ said to me that he thinks Nat isn’t crawling enough i.e. I “protect” him too much because I don’t want him to knock his head. So I tried to find out about the crawling and whether it is really that crucial? There’s of course two sides to the coin on this. Some experts will attest to the importance of crawling while others say that skipping it altogether is no issue. Choosing to err on the side of my usual caution, I decided to let Nat have more floor/crawling time daily.

This article presents both sides to the issue but, “no matter where experts stand on the crawling issue, one point they all agree on is the importance of tummy time”. 

Previously, before we shifted out his playpen, Nat had a lot of tummy time on the play-mat. So we decided to take out the play-mat again but open it in Nat’s room instead since the playpen is occupying the living room. This way, he will get his individual playpen time and also some floor time.

I guess HJ was right in the sense that my mom and I are too “protective” of Nat because he had already fallen off the bed twice – once when he was 6 months and the most recent time was when he turned 9 months. So we’re really paranoid about letting him crawl on the concrete floor. At least, with the play-mat, there is some cushioning should be fall and hit his head. Last time, we all just crawled on whatever type of flooring there was in our homes. Nowadays, I can’t help but notice that we tend to be more anxious about potential injuries and baby-proofing our homes when our parents were not so uptight about them when we were babies/toddlers.

– CK

Day 3 

Today’s the 3rd day managing things mostly on our own and surprisingly, we’re fine. Maybe because it’s only day 3 but as tiring as it is trying to squeeze in some household chores, food prep and email clearing when Nat naps, I am quite happy doing it. These few days also made me realize how much I need and value my time alone to get things done, the way I want them to be. 

Our day in summary… 

AM: Nat’s usual morning routine

  • 630am rise and shine.
  • 7am milk, followed by 8am breakfast (fruits and yogurt combo).
  • Storybook + playmat time to crawl and tire himself out before his morning nap at around 930am. 
  • Once he slept, I prepped his lunch porridge before taking a nap too. 
  • After Nat woke up around 11am, I bathed him and we waited for my mom to pick us up to go for lunch. 

LUNCH: @ Waterway Point today 

  • We walked around a bit after lunch and did a quick grocery run before heading home.
  • As per our norm, we only head out in-between his AM & PM naps and ensure we make it back home in time for his 2nd nap. 
  • If he’s not tired yet like what happened this afternoon, I’ll give him more floormat and/or playpen time.
  • Now at 9 months, Nat can stay awake for 3-3.5hours and needs to be sufficiently tired enough to be ready for a nap. 
  • The moment he sleeps, it’s time to steam his fruits for tea and his post-dinner dessert. This is also the only opportunity to cook his evening porridge. 
  • If I’m lucky, he will sleep for at least 1.5 hours (like today yay!) and I get to fit in some work.

DINNER: @ my mom’s place  

  • Once Nat woke up and his meal cooked, my mum came by again to bring us over. 
  • I wanted to pram him and walk (she lives just 1.5km away) but it was too sunny. 
  • HJ joined us for dinner after work and we brought Nat back around 8pm. 

Actually, this is pretty much what I do on those days I don’t go into office so nothing was drastically different or more challenging. 

I think I will miss this once I return to work full-time. So even if can’t really slack around and binge on Netflix because there’s more household chores and baby-related prep to be done, I’m glad that I can do all these for him. 

– CK 

Just Us 

In a nutshell, our helper is on home leave for 10 days so we have to do things a bit more efficiently now. This is especially so for Nat’s food prep because he eats 4 solid meals a day with a fruit dessert after lunch & dinner (that’s like 6 meals) so I can’t possibly be steaming his food every other hour haha!

So in the morning while Nat is taking his 1st nap, that’s when all the ingredients for his subsequent meals are prepped.

Top-left: steamed fruit combo for dessert after lunch and dinner

Bottom-left: butternut squash and carrots chopped and ready to cook

Right: throw everything into the rice cooker to cook congee

Previously our helper and my mom would do his food prep 3-4x a day before his meals but seriously… I can’t afford the time for that on the days I’m alone with him. However, we only pre-chop the vegetables and steam the fruits for that day so the freshness is not so affected.

Anyhow, I quite like this situation. It reminds me of the weeks just after Nat was born when we both handled everything in the way we know best – divide and conquer.  No doubt the floor doesn’t get cleaned everyday but twice a week is fine with me.

– CK