Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toilet Training for Boys

Nathan only managed to stay dry in the day shortly after his third birthday (about 38 months old). By that, I mean that there were no more accidents, and I did not need to constantly ask him if he needed to pee, or to bring him to the toilet at regular intervals. He told me when he needed to go, and there was sufficient time to walk to the toilet before he let it all out. He figured out the poo poo business earlier... way before he finally got the hang of the pee pee business. Going by typical milestones, I think he's behind... I'm just glad that I can finally save on diapers now.

These are somethings that I found useful as we worked on toilet training Nathan. So you might find them useful if you're also treading down the toilet training path.

1) Books. The National Library has several of these and Nathan particularly enjoyed these two:

It's Potty Time by Ron Berry. This one comes with a button for kids to push. They'll hear the sound of an automatic flush when they push the button.

It's Potty Time by Tracey Corderoy

2) Potty Training DVD. Nathan's a big fan of Sesame Street and he really enjoyed watching Elmo's Potty Time. It was useful in introducing the concept of using the big boy toilet to him, but did nothing more than that.

3) Pull-Up Diapers and Training Pants. We used pull-up diapers when we were going out and training pants when we were at home. I do feel that the pull-up diapers delay toilet training. They are so well made that kids do not know when they've wet their pants. With training pants, at least they realise that they've wet themselves, and that realisation is important. Training pants we've used and loved are from Bambino Mio and Charlie Banana. Bambino Mio is cheaper but is not able to hold an accident. The Charlie Banana 2-in-1 swim diaper & training pants is pretty absorbent, and is capable of holding an accident without Nathan's outer pants getting wet. It can be used as a swim diaper and comes in many cute prints and colours.

4) Bed protectors. I was getting tired of changing Nathan's bedsheets each time his diaper leaked and was so glad when I discovered BrollySheets. These sheets fit OVER the bedsheets, has a waterproof layer on the underside, and a soft-to-touch topside. Now, I just need to remove the BrollySheets to wash without changing his bedsheets every.single.time. That said, he is still on diapers at night even though it is mostly dry when he wakes up in the morning. For afternoon naps, I stuff a muslin square into his regular underwear to absorb accidents (if any), but most times, he wakes up dry.

I was practically pulling my hair out when potty training Nathan just because he didn't seem to be getting it, and most of his friends were already toilet trained when he was still in diapers. Oh well... thankfully he's finally got it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Life as a Stay Home Mom

I started my "job" as a stay home mom on 1 March 2012. It has been almost a year since I quit my full time job. Several months back, I made a list of 10 reasons why I am glad I quit my full time job. And now, as I reflect on the year that has gone by, I am filled with much thankfulness.

As a child, I remember how I looked forward to the rare occasions when my parents didn't go to work, or came home from work early. These occasions were few and far between. My parents worked really hard when I was younger, coming home past 8 every night. My bedtime was 9, so we spent barely an hour together each day. They worked half days on Saturdays too. The school bus picked me up from school, and I had my sisters for company at the lunch table. We were cared for by a domestic helper, none of whom I had a close relationship with. Those days, I really looked forward to the weekends when we get to spend a bit more time as a family. My dad and mum came from families that were not well to do. They did not have the opportunity to be educated beyond the current equivalent of Primary 6 and Secondary 4 respectively. Starting life as independent adults with just the clothes on their back, working hard was necessary. Through sheer hard work and determination, they provide well for the family, till this day. I can perfectly understand why my mum was not able to be a stay home mom. To her credit, she has done a great job as a full time working mum, and continues to be a supportive mum and doting grandmother.

I, on the other hand, have the option of staying home, for which I am grateful. I am thankful that Dean is able to shoulder the responsibility of being the chief breadwinner of our family. I am thankful that he values the work that I am doing in our household.   

I am thankful that I get to be the one who greets my boys each morning, makes them their bottle / mug of milk, helps them get ready for school, and drops them off at school each morning. I do not deny that there were days when I wished that I could sleep in. But my faithful 'alarm clock' a.k.a. Noah, wakes me up at 7am every morning, without fail. 

While they are at school, I have 2 hours to spare... put the clothes to wash, sort and return the clean clothes to the cupboards, change bedsheets, take the trash out, tidy up the house a little, prepare some home learning activities for the boys, buy groceries and other household necessities, do work related stuff like reply to email enquiries or prepare packages for delivery... I have recently managed to include BSF in my routine, and hope to include some form of exercise too.

2 hours fly past quickly and it is time to pick Nathan up from school. Peering through his classroom window, I love seeing him smile when our eyes meet. I love hearing about his day at school... some days, he is delighted because they were celebrating a friend's birthday in class, and he has a balloon and a goody bag to bring home. Some days he is sad... "because Amber didn't want to hold my hand". Some days he is excited... "mommy, we are going to have a funfair in school"! Once in a while, I turn up later than usual... that irritates him and he goes... "mommy, why did you take so long"? Whatever kind of day he had in school, I am just thankful that I am the first to hear about it. I drive him home, we sit down for lunch together and chat some more. Thereafter, I help him as he practises his violin, takes a shower, works on some puzzles, reads, writes. By about 1pm, he gets tired, and needs an afternoon nap.

Nap time for the kids means 2 hours for me to do what I've left off from morning. On days when I am also tired, and there's nothing super urgent, I get to lie down beside him for an afternoon nap too. Bliss!

After nap, we'll either be doing some home learning, attending an enrichment class or running an errand. I like to make sure that my boys are meaningfully engaged and are given ample opportunities to learn a skill, build up knowledge and develop character. I am thankful that I can play an active role in nurturing my boys, and it is my prayer that they'll grow up to be men who live lives that are pleasing to God.

Time passes quickly when you are busy having fun. Dinner time rolls around. I feed myself, nag at Nathan to eat his dinner quickly, and keep Noah satisfied with small bits of food. After dinner, we usually spend some time with the grand parents & cousins... playing toys, watching TV, snacking on fruits that 公公has bought and lovingly cut. I am thankful that there are more people to help with Nathan and Noah every evening, so I can relax a wee bit. 

13 hours after our 7am wake up call, we start preparing for bed. A shower, a nice bottle / mug of milk, stories, bedtime prayers, kisses, cuddles and off to dreamland. I am thankful that I get to be with my boys during most of their waking hours and also be the one to kiss them good night and tuck them in bed.

Dean has been working late and usually comes home just when I am tucking the boys in bed, or after. We spend some couple time together after the kids are in bed... he tells me about his day at work, and asks about the kids. I tell him about our day at school/work/play, and all the funny antics that the boys got up to.

I wind down by surfing the web or reading a book, and doze off... ready for another day of work as a stay home mom.

I do miss not drawing a salary, and all the recognition I get at work for a job well done. I do miss lunches with girl friends, tea breaks with colleagues and interacting with adults. I do miss climbing the corporate ladder, the monetary rewards and personal satisfaction that comes with doing a 'real job' well.

But I know that my job as a stay home mom is of utmost importance in this season of my life, and I strive to be a good steward with all that God has entrusted me with. Proverbs 31:10-31 paints a beautiful picture of a wife with nobel character, and I continually pray that I will be like the woman described in the Bible.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rise & Shine Carnival

My boys love funfairs, carnivals and all things fancy... and we're really looking forward to the Rise & Shine Carnival that is happening at The Lawn @ Marina Bay on 3 March 2013. Bouncy castles, balloon sculpting, face-painting, stage performances, sports try-outs and lots of other fun things await you and your family at the carnival. Tickets at $8 per adult (free for children under 12) are on sale now... and we're happy to giveaway 2 sets of 2 adult tickets! Just leave a comment here if you'd like to attend the carnival. We'll be picking 2 winners randomly on 24 Feb 2013, 2359h. See you at the picnic!

About Rise & Shine
Rise & Shine is a movement started by a group of mothers in Singapore with the mission to provide parents and educators with an opportunity to learn, share and identify holistic approaches in raising happier and healthier children. The Rise & Shine Carnival is just one of the many events lined up. Another event coming up is the Rise & Shine Expo which will be held from 27 to 29 September 2013 at Suntec Convention Centre.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Show & Tell

Every week, Nathan is supposed to bring an item that starts with a particular alphabet for Show & Tell.

For the coming week, it is letter 'N'.

Me: Nathan, you are supposed to bring something that starts with letter 'N' for Show & Tell. What would you like to bring?

Nathan: Noah! Noah starts with 'N'. Can you put Noah in my Show & Tell bag. I am going to tell everybody about my brother!

Since I couldn't put Noah into Nathan's bag, I printed a photo of Noah for Nathan to bring to school.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Adventure Cove Waterpark

We brought the boys to Adventure Cove Waterpark over the CNY holidays and had a splashing good time!

Although Nathan and Noah were below the height requirement (at least 107cm) for many of the attractions, there was sufficient to do for kids their age.

The park opens at 10am and it is a good idea to arrive at opening time. Private cabanas that come with a shower and some seating area are available for $88 per day. If you do not want to pay for the private cabanas, there are public cabanas available for free, but you'll have to arrive early to "chope" seats. The area near the Seahorse Hideaway has several public cabanas with comfy bean bags, and it's a good area to "park" yourself for the day if you have young kids. It is near the four main attractions that are suitable for them, near the lockers (available for rent at $10 to $20 per day), near the ladies and kids' toilets, and the gents is just a short walk away. Shower facilities (no hot water showers though) are aplenty and we did not have to wait in line for a shower.

Noah who isn't usually too co-operative when it comes to donning helmets and life jackets surprised me when he let me put on his life jacket without fuss. When I was done with the buckles on his jacket, he declared, "handsome"! Life jackets are available at various locations throughout the park, and a life guard is within sight everywhere you swim. Looks like they've got all the safety procedures in place.

There were four attractions that were suitable for the boys:

1) Seahorse Hideaway - a shallow wading pool with small fountains. a safe place for the kids to splash around since the older/rowdier ones would usually not venture here. There are 11 cabanas available for complimentary use here.

2) Bluwater Bay - a wave pool where you get to ride the waves on a giant float. The waves are switched on at timed intervals. So if it is too choppy for the young ones, they can play near the waters edge and move further 'upshore' when the waves are turned on.

3) Adventure River - my boys' favourite. I like how an adult and a child can fit on one giant float together. and float down the river through 14 stunning scenes. We went through an underwater tunnel with fishes swimming above/around us, through a jungle garden, a dark cave...

4) Big Bucket Treehouse - this is much like the water playground at Port of Lost Wonder and the Singapore Zoo. Two slides sized just for kids and a giant bucket that tips over when it gets too full.

There's lots more for older kids and adults to do at the Waterpark... Like snorkel with fishes at the Rainbow Reef, get up-close and personal with sting rays, race down water slides and more!

We'll definitely be back soon, hopefully the boys will be tall enough for more attractions when we next visit. 

Side note:
If you'd like to visit the S.E.A. Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark, do consider getting the RWS Invites card. It gives you tickets to both the attractions, meal vouchers and free parking at RWS. A pretty good deal for $150.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Hungry Caterpillar Pillow Mattress

My boys have been sleeping in their own cots since they were born, and in their own rooms since they were 5 to 6 months old. I like this arrangement because everyone sleeps better, I get some time to wind down after I've tucked them in bed, and can choose to read a book before I turn in.

Noah likes me to stay in the room while he's falling asleep, so I usually lie on the floor while waiting for him to fall asleep. Though it doesn't usually take more than 5 minutes, I sometimes doze off and wake up with cramps on my hips. :/

I came across this pillow mattress cover idea on Pinterest recently and thought it'd be perfect for me. A mattress would be too much trouble, takes up too much space, and is difficult to store. With this pillow mattress cover, I just need to use 4 regular sized pillows, and they can easily fit into any of my cupboards when I want to put it out of sight. :)

I bought 2 metres of the hungry caterpillar material and 1 metre of the solid lime green material. Used french seams for the whole project.

4 pillows - just the right length for me
The hungry caterpillar...
and all the food he ate.
Yay! No more bad back. They boys love it too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

That is a pattern!

I was teaching Nathan how to recognise patterns and was getting rather exasperated because he didn't seem to be paying attention.

When I was finally done with what I wanted to cover...

Nathan: Mommy, can we read a book now?

Me: Yes.

Nathan: Mommy, when you ask me to write, I write. When I ask you to read, you read. That is a pattern!

Monday, February 4, 2013

T-Shirt for the Birthday Boy

For Nathan's 3rd birthday last year, I ordered his birthday t-shirt from Etsy. This year, I decided to make Noah's birthday t-shirt myself. His favourite cartoon character right now is Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. With some inspiration from Pinterest, here's what I came up with...

It was my first attempt at machine appliqué and his name proved to be too complex for me to handle. I ended up sewing that by hand.

Made one for the big brother as well...

I managed to use bigger letters for 'Nathan' so machining that was still possible.

Not too bad for my first attempt at machine appliqué yah?