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Our Clubfoot Journey: Part-Time Boots and Bar

23 May 2014: The day Theodore was born and before starting the Ponseti clubfoot treatment.
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Goodbye casts! I remember being really upset when Theodore got his shoes fitted.
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After 12 weeks of 23/7 boots and bar, the Orthopedist said Theodore’s progressing extremely well and he’s down to 12 hours bnb daily!

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His feet are now fully corrected. The purpose of wearing the bar is to prevent a relapse. For the next 4 years, Theodore will have skinnier ankles than other non-clubfoot children because the boots push the fats up his legs. When he learns to walk, he’ll look more like Charlie Chaplin than other non-clubfoot babies. However, it will all work out once we’re done with the 4 year long treatment.

We’re so so so proud of our boy. This is the one special moment which makes me want to tell everyone how great Theodore has been. HE IS GREAT!!!

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Where We Are Right Now

Every Thursday I attend my post-natal exercise classes with Theodore. The classes focus on working on our pelvic floor muscles rather than hardcore cardio for weight loss. While it’s true that those exercises I learn during the class can easily be done at home, it’s important that I step out of the house and socialise for my own sanity. It’s also a good chance for Theodore to make other baby friends.

Last week, after an hour of circuit training (my muscles were on fire the next couple of days!), we were told to draw “where we are” as a family. Here’s my drawing.IMG_8121-0.JPG

I reckon it’s a pretty accurate picture of what having a baby is like.

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Almost 4 Month Old Sleep Regression

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To put it briefly, Theodore’s waking up A LOT at night (every hour to an hour and a half), very clingy and irritable because he can’t fall back to sleep. Sleep experts claim that babies go through this because they are learning new skills and are going through a growth spurt.

It is MADNESS because Theodore had always been a good sleeper at night but not for the past week or so. It’s very frustrating for me because I feel my brain’s shutting down and I cannot function normally. Daniel helps out even in the middle of the night although he needs to work the next day.

Very often, situations like this are not within our control and I don’t like not being in control (yes, I’m a control freak!). But I’m willing to compromise and do whatever I can to make our lives sleep better.

If Theodore needs to sleep on us so we get an extra hour of sleep, sure! If he wants to suckle for an hour, sure! If Papa needs to sleep on the sofa so he’s well rested for work, sure! At this point, it’s just pointless to google and do what everyone else does. It is ESSENTIAL to do what works for us so that we can function and be half decent parents.

Theodore is at the stage where he’s learning so much. So much so that I pity his brains and it’s little wonder why he’s irritable at night. Here’s what he’s been busy with in the day.

1. Pushing himself up during tummy time
He enjoys tummy time. While he usually just lay on his tummy and look around, he started lifting both hands in the air while on his tummy. It’s as though he’s trying to push himself off the ground but can’t quite figure it out.

2. Bend knees backwards (towards his bottom) while on tummy
He has never done this before till Saturday. And this was with the bar on! Like I’ve said, it’s as though he’s trying to push himself up but he can’t.

3. Hitting toys on activity gym matIMG_8013.JPG
Before Sunday, Theodore would just stare at the hanging toys. The mirror interest him the most but he got bored very quickly whenever I put him on the mat. I was beginning to think that the mat was far too advanced for him (or he was too slow!!). He never liked being left alone in the mat either.

On Sunday morning, Dan placed Theodore on the mat in the living room so I could catch a few extra minutes of sleep. THAT DIDN’T WORK OUT! Theodore was actually reaching out for the toys, batting them with both his hands! And he was happy to be left on it till the music stopped.

Today (Monday morning), he used his legs to hit the toys hanging on the other side while his hands were playing with toys near him. He’s now capable of entertaining himself for longer period of time (but we still watch him from the dining table).

4. Being an explorer
We still put him in the carrycot when we go out. However he fusses when he’s in it now. He wants to look at the world around him – cars, trams, trees, houses etc. Those images must leave an impression in his mind (hence he goes crazy at night!).

5. Being more precise
When Theodore figured his hands out weeks ago, the entire fist went into his mouth. Lately, he’s learnt (not necessarily a good habit) to only suck on his thumb or one finger. Developing motor skills? I’m still trying to cope with the drools!!!

The little things he has learnt to do (though imperfect) seem so simple to us. However I imagine they can be overwhelming for a baby. If there’s such a thing as “sleep regression”, he might just be trying to cope with all the new things he’s learnt in the day.

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Baby Welcome Pack

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Finally!!! I set aside a couple of minutes yesterday to print my DM voucher to redeem Theodore’s welcome pack.

The “aunty” within me was very excited to collect the brightly coloured gift box (my favourite red too!!!).
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The gift box was packed with practical items such as a pacifier (NUK – Theodore’s preferred brand), nappies, Pampers wipes, baby shampoo and lotion, nasal spray (for babies), nappy cream, breast pads, condoms and a booklet of very useful vouchers.

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They are tester-sized products but nonetheless great for mums like me to try if the products are suitable for Theo before buying the full sized bottles. The vouchers will come in handy too as you’ll get money off essentials like wipes, nappies, bottles, bath products and so on.

I’m so glad to find two Weleda products in the box. One’s a tube of baby cream and another is a regular body wash. I love the baby cream! When Theo had ringworm infection on his cheeks, the anti-fungal cream dried his skin. Many Germans tell me that Weleda’s products are very good so I “invested” in a tube of baby face and body cream for Theo. It costs more than the other brands, but most importantly for me, it worked! A little amount of cream goes a long way and it’s not sticky either. I’ll be getting the shower gel for myself as I’m a VERY exhausted Mama who needs pampering.

If you’re new in Germany and would like a Welcome Pack for your new bundle of joy, register with DM here.

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Textor Bar and Restaurant, Frankfurt

After checking off some tasks on my to-do list in the morning, we headed to Textor Bar & Restaurant near Südbahnhof for a late lunch.

Thankfully Theodore’s still at the stage where he’ll fall asleep in his pram if we walked x metres hence we managed to have a quiet and enjoyable lunch date.

Daniel ordered Wiener Schnitzel which came with a side salad.IMG_8001.JPG

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I ordered the Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce.

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Absolutely loved it! Even though it’s a plate of salad, its portion was huge to make it a meal on its own. The peanut sauce also reminded me of satay in Singapore.

As the weather is slightly on the cool side today, I thought a cup of hot chocolate with cream would be perfect.

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It’s really nice to still be able to enjoy our weekly dine-out experience these days with Theodore. Weekdays are so hectic. Dan spends most of his time at work and me looking after Theodore. By the time Dan gets home, we rush through dinner and put Theodore to bed. At the end of the day, we’re both exhausted and just want to bury ourselves in bed! But of course, every single night guarantees a disrupted sleep.

Our Clubfoot Journey: 30 Days to Go

And we’ll be in part-time boots and bar!

On 30th September, we’ll be having a check up with the Orthopedist to evaluate Theo’s progress. It’s all very exciting! We can’t wait for him to be able to move his legs freely during the day – not that the bar stops him from rolling over or anything. It is good to see that it hasn’t hindered Theo.

One of the main tasks to focus on once he goes part-time is to encourage him to move his ankles more. Right now they are held at the required angle in the boots and bar, hence even when we remove the BnB he doesn’t seem to be aware that his ankles are capable of rotating inwards.

I think swimming will help him develop his calves muscles so that’s something we’ll need to look into. Alternatively, as this boy LOVES his baths, we’ll start using the actual bathtub soon as he’s getting too big for his baby tub!

I’ve marked the 30th of Sept on my calendar. Super excited now!

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Creamy Courgette and Bacon Pasta

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Creamy pasta isn’t the norm in our household. We tend to gear towards tomato based ones as they’re lighter and seems healthier. However, we need to indulge once in a while in a hearty meal.

Dan’s been in a bit of a bacon fanatic lately – first sign that he needs to be back in England for a break! Hence, I’ve been using bacon to make fried rice, risotto and now, pasta. Quite creative, right?

This creamy courgette with bacon pasta was so easy to make. The only difference to the original recipe was that I used creme friache with herbs for the extra flavour. This dish will be anyone’s comfort food. Although it calls for Inexpensive ingredients, the final result was divine and tasty. Definitely a must-do again when the weather gets colder! Food therapy works!!!

For the original recipe, please refer to BBC Good Food.

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Pho Ngon – Noodle and Dim Sum Bar

Pho Ngon is a newly opened restaurant located near Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. After seeing a friend posted mouth-watering photos of the food there, I decided to try it out on Sunday.

The ambience was great as the place was well decorated. However I no longer am too bothered with the interior design of restaurants since we should all know that it isn’t a good indication of how good the food is.

So, firstly I need to point out that their signboard is misleading. They DON’T do dim sum. Apparently they used to but no longer do so. Definitely very strange for a Vietnamese sounding place to serve dim sum anyway.

Secondly, though not stated on their menu, the set lunches are only valid on weekdays. I’m being very picky here, but it’s just such a waste of decision-making time since we weren’t told that till we placed our order.

As usual, I ordered a bowl of beef Pho which costs €12,90.IMG_7831.JPG

I loved it. The soup was so delicious and I was told that they don’t add msg in it. The beef slices were tender and juicy. Despite loving it, I didn’t think it tasted anything like an authentic Pho which would have been more herby and rich in flavour. The soup base reminded me of beef noodles you would get in Singapore or Malaysia. I reckon they would have scored a higher customer review if they didn’t try to sell the dish as “Vietnamese Pho” because authentic Pho tastes nothing like a good bowl of beef noodles. Using Vietnamese rice noodles doesn’t make it a Pho.

Would I recommend others to have Pho at Pho Ngon? Yes, if you’re craving for an amazing bowl of soupy beef noodles especially on colder days. No, if you want REAL Pho. Vipho still does the best authentic Pho in town.

Here’s what Dan had. It’s dry rice noodles with beef. His came with fish sauce which I liked but he didn’t. It was quite a generous portion.

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Vietnamese coffee – this is one thing that they’ve got right. Bitter-sweet, strong coffee for the sleep-deprived parents. Excellent!

IMG_7829.JPGMy filter worked a lot slower than Dan’s. When I asked the waitress about it, she said in Mandarin to me, “Miss, you need to be more patient.” Ermmm… 30 minutes? The ice in the separate glass had melted! They need to check that they’ve not tightened the filter too much. However, the coffee had a punch and tasted great.

Customer Service – Nothing impressive. I’m just spoilt by the other Asian restaurants I visit in Frankfurt. The experience was made lovely because the lady boss from Jade (restaurant next door) was there and she attended to us. Experience in the service industry helped and I think those working at Pho Ngon will have lots to learn from her to make customers happy. She explained to Dan that he could add more sauce to his dry noodles. When she found out that he didn’t fancy the sauce he was given, she came back with another which he liked. She also noticed the glass of melted ice and emptied it for him and showed him how to have Vietnamese coffee. The waitresses were standing behind the bar when it all happened.

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Complimentary warm dessert – I have no idea what it’s called. It was sticky rice with red beans and coconut topped with peanuts. They’ve also got this right. So glad Dan doesn’t eat such desserts! Extra servings for me!

Will I visit Pho Ngon again? Yes, I would like to try their spring rolls and other chicken and pork dishes. However, don’t go there expecting REAL Pho because that’s not what you’ll get.

I am a Hypochondriac

According to Daniel, I’m a hypochondriac when Theo’s well-being is concerned. Hypochondria is obsessive worrying about your health, usually to the point where it causes great distress and affects your ability to function properly.

IMG_7833.JPGOf course, we’re using the word fairly loosely here. But here’s the story behind it.

After 1 day of applying anti-fungal cream on Theo’s cheeks

Me: Why isn’t the rash GONE?!?!??
(Frantically took pictures of his cheeks daily to see if there was an improvement.)

A dry spot on his scalp.

Me: OMG!!! He’s got cradle cap!!! Oh no! He’s going to get patches all over his head and face!
(Quickly messaged my mother-in-law about it to seek treatment advice and a friend whose son recently had cradle cap.)

3 white spots on right foot

Me: Damn it! Are they blisters from wearing the boots and bar?
(Sent an email to the surgeon who treated him on Friday evening immediately although I knew I won’t get a reply.)

Me after asking for advice on a clubfoot support Facebook group: OMG! My son’s got hand, foot and mouth disease!!!
(Googled hfmd images and started to imagine all the pain Theo will go through. Messaged mother-in-law, cousin and friend to seek their opinions. Lost sleep that night over 3 spots and convinced Daniel we NEED to go to A&E first thing in the morning.)

Theo sneezed/ coughed

Me: Oh no! The apartment is too cold! He’s fallen ill!!!

So yes, I’m a hypochondriac when Theo’s health is concerned. I tend to worry a lot when it comes to him. Excessively, I think.

With the use of internet these days, it is really easy to make informed decisions of one’s health. At the same time technology is a double-edged sword for me as I easily fall prey to worries or others (whom I don’t know) telling me on forums that symptom A is a sign of deadly illness B.

For instance, I was really upset when other mums told me Theo’s spots looked like hfmd. Firstly, I just met up with a friend and her baby that day. It would be terrible if Theo passed the virus to her child! I know that can’t be helped since we didn’t mean it, but I would have felt awful! Secondly, I didn’t want Theo to be back in casts if they were blisters. His treatment has been going so well and I would hate for things to be messed up. Thirdly, just like any mums, neither do I want to see my son ill. So glad that the 3 spots just disappeared after a couple of days. They were basically spots caused by blocked pores. Phew…

Oh, and the dry patch on the scalp never developed into cradle cap. And he hasn’t got a cold or cough. His cheeks are still slightly sore from using the anti-fungal cream since it really dries them. Hence I’m bringing him back to the doctor’s because SHE SAID TO DO SO if the skin doesn’t clear up. She knows so well that I’m the “easily bothered” mum. She actually asked if I was bothered by Theo’s rash. DUH!!! I don’t like to self-medicate a baby. I’m not confident of doing so.

As a hypochondriac, I’m pleased to have Daniel as my husband. He’s really calm when it comes to Theo’s health right from day one. He’s here to keep me sane, if not calm. I suppose I’m just that sort of mum – the one that panics and over-reacts when her baby’s ill. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of, I suppose. I would rather be over cautious and consult a doctor when Google tells me sh*t than to miss any signs that something is not quite right.

I suppose I’ll get more used to different baby related ailments in time to come and relax a bit more. So dear bacteria and viruses, please cut some slack on this hypochondriac mum who still has loads to learn.

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Three Months Old

Dear Theo,

You’re 3 months old today! We’re so proud of you for all that you’ve achieved!

3 months ago, on the day you were born, you needed so much help. Thankfully you had very good doctors and nurses to help you. IMG_0007.JPG

A million questions went through my mind as I wondered how I could possibly give you the best care in the world.

In this short period of time we worked brilliantly as a family of three. Although I was heartbroken upon seeing your beautiful feet and all the tubes around your little body, you showed Mama how brave you were. You never really fussed in the cold, hard casts. You took only 1.5 days to adapt to the boots and brace. Despite being a little man, you are a lot stronger than me.

In these three months, you smiled and laughed, rolled over, became aware of your hands and feet, grabbed your panda and giraffe rattles, gained good head control and was introduced tummy time. It is little wonder why you have bad days at times given all the information you have to process. IMG_7816.JPG

Mama still looks at the pictures of you as a newborn in neonatal care. I’m amazed at how you’ve improved to be the healthy, bubbly and happy boy you are today.

At 3 months old, you’re already a cheeky monkey. You’re tickled when we plant kisses on you. You enjoy playing rough. One of your favourite activities is story time when we read you books. Current favourite – The very hungry caterpillar. While you still enjoy Papa’s koala bear hugs, you’ve started to want us to carry you facing outwards so that you can explore the world around you.

My dear 3 month old darling, you’re my little Prince. We have good and bad days/ nights. On bad nights, I feel like you’re pushing me over the edge and Papa has to intervene to save me. But you know what sweetheart, you’re the ONLY person in the world who’s capable of making me fall in love with you all over again after bad nights.

Mama’s looking forward to our journey together. I can assure you we’ll have ups and downs, but we’ll try to make your childhood a memorable one that’s jam packed with love.

Love,
Mama

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Homegrown Organic Vegetables

No, I don’t grow my own vegetables. Just haven’t got green fingers.

However I’m really fortunate! Last Friday I met up with a friend and she generously shared with me her mum’s homegrown organic pumpkin and tomatoes. IMG_7810.JPG

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Don’t they look so beautiful?

I cooked Thai Pumpkin and Chicken Curry with them. The pumpkin was so sweet and delicious! Usually I’m not fussed with pumpkin seeds but as this pumpkin was homegrown, I decided to roast them. Nothing wasted!

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Those tomatoes were so good on their own. They would make jolly good explosives! Each and every one I ate “exploded” in my mouth. They were so juicy! Yummilicious!!!

Thank you “E” for sharing your mum’s harvests with us! Please thank her for us!

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Sleep Deprived Parents

On Sunday afternoon, Theodore woke up from his nap screaming inconsolably. It shocked the both of us because he stopped crying that way after he got used to nappy changing as a newborn. Little did we know that that was the start of our sleepless nights.IMG_7742.JPG

It was pretty bad on Sunday night. Instead of waking up twice (at 2am and 5.30am) for feeds, he was waking up every hour. Most of the time he wasn’t nursing; he just wanted to latch on to suckle. That would send him back to lalaland in minutes. But once he was off the breast, he would be upset again.

We concluded that it was just a bad night and coincidentally, he had ringworm infection on his cheeks. So pissed off at whoever who passed it to him, be it human or animals. We know it’s not Dan or myself since we’re both perfectly fine. ANNOYED!

Much to our dismay, the sleepless nights continued. It isn’t getting any better. I’m utterly useless when I don’t get sufficient rest. Dan’s been tagged in to help out and he’s been brilliant for trying so hard, but I feel so bad since he needs to focus at work. There are so many tips online on how to deal with sleep deprivation and I’m going to discuss with Dan to see which will suit us best. One tip, however, was “hilarious”. It suggested hiring a night time nurse/ nanny. WHAT?!?! That must be THE tip for the royal family, surely?

Theodore turned 12 weeks old last Friday and this could very well be a mental leap/ growth spurt. He’s definitely grown physically. The sleepsuit that fitted well last week is now a little snug. Poor boy isn’t getting much sleep himself and I know he must feel horrible too. At the same time, I’m pretty much in a daze myself, unable to focus and my eyelids are so heavy! On two separate occasions I’ve put the bar on incorrectly for him and forgot to put it back on after changing him! Geez!!! Guess what a mess I was in when I realised I didn’t do his bar right?

Every mum I met tells me all will be better after 3 months. He turns 3 months this Saturday. Will it get better? I do hope so.

In the meantime, I’m going to try the “nap while your baby sleeps” tip.

I’ve Got Designer Bags

Yes, I’ve got myself two designer bags. They are close to being black so that I can match them with anything I wear. I must say they’re pretty heavy to carry around though. I doubt I’ll ever get rid of them even if I don’t particularly love them. However much I try to conceal them from the public they love standing out in the crowd.

Oh, my designer bags! There you are!!!

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Illustration by Jeff Hamada

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Instilling Fear In Our Children

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As a parent, do find yourself instilling fear in your child?

As a child, did your parents instil fear in you?

This is a topic I often think about. In fact, it’s a struggle for me. I have an illogical fear of heights. I don’t like using overhead bridges, going on ferris wheels, roller coasters rides etc for instance. Generally, I hate anything that doesn’t allow my feet to be in contact with the solid ground.

I wasn’t born with the phobia, obviously. Prior to my first trip to Australia when I was 9, I was eager and excited about the rides in Dream World and Universal Studios. How cool it must be to go upside down on a high-speed rollar coaster, I thought. However, I vividly remember my dad telling me NOT to try any of those rides before the holiday. Apparently, I couldn’t and shouldn’t trust the safety bars to hold me in the roller coaster, and I could fall off and die. Coincidentally there were newspaper cuttings of such incidences in America on my study table to back up my dad’s argument.

I learnt to ice-skate from an early age. It was almost a weekly routine that my cousins and I would be skating together. Much to my parents’ dismay though. They were worried that I would get hurt on the ice or someone would knock me over and I would suffer from a concussion (and die). Somewhere along those lines. There were often news of teenagers getting injured on ice rinks because they were reckless. One of the things that could happen to me, according to my dad, was that if I fell, someone else coming from behind might skate over my fingers! If you know what skating shoes look like, you’d know how painful that could be. Whenever such news was on TV, rest assured they were brought to my attention. That was the end of my skating “career” (I was darn good, alright!).

As a young child, I loved hanging myself upside down on the monkey bars at school. I was even capable of doing flips! However I got into a mini accident one day. A friend accidentally hit me in my face while doing a flip and my front tooth fell out. That was the end of my monkey business days because my folks felt that it was too dangerous for me. They didn’t like me having blisters on my hands from grabbing the bars too.

Now that I’m a parent, I struggle internally when we visit playgrounds. I read the signs of danger EVERYWHERE. In contrast, Daniel sees the fun in all playgrounds. We’ll have conversations like this:

Me: OMG! The gaps are huge!
Dan: No, it’s fine. Kids can balance really well.
Me: Really? Even I can just fall right through.

Logically, I know I shouldn’t and wouldn’t want to instil unnecessary fear in Theodore. Yet at the same time I foresee myself sticking to him like an old chewing gum just so I can be right there should he fall. But if I’m always there to catch him, he’ll never learn to fall and pick himself up. It’s a constant struggle because where do I strike a balance?

Whenever we’re back in Singapore, Dan is quick to point out that many parents hold on to their kids at the parks and playgrounds as though they’re holding on to their dear lives. He wondered why my nieces (9 and 11 back then) weren’t allowed to go to the playground by themselves or arrange a play date with their friends. To put it simply, I told him “we just don’t do that”. Singapore kids probably have too much homework to do to arrange play dates!!!

So, how do I ensure that my child plays safely without installing fear in him? I don’t want to be threatening him or scaring him on purpose just so he doesn’t get a scratch on his knees. As much as I believe that he needs to learn to negotiate the risks he encounters in order for him to become a confident child, I am not eager to make a dash to A&E with a broken arm or leg.

One thing for sure, I do not want to use fear to manipulate and control my child. Looking at myself, I believe the fear I grew up with turned into anxiety now that I’m an adult. Parenting…I have so much to learn.

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5 Things I Do With My Baby Everyday

No two days are exactly the same with Theodore. Some days he’s as happy as a lark, flaunting his captivating smile. On other days he’s like a leech that sucks energy instead of blood out of me. Be it a good or bad day, here are 5 things which I do with him everyday.

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1. Sing to him
From nursery rhymes to Chinese pop music, we have a huge repertoire. He finds it amusing when I dance (I don’t really dance per se) to the music or do hand actions. The more dramatic I am, the bigger his smiles are.

2. Play with him
At times I leave him to play with his toys while I observe him. Those moments are important because I think he needs to learn to be independent. However, it is also important for me to spend time playing together with him. I would use soft toys and role-play (I’m pretty good at creating conversations!) for instance. Shake his rattles, tickle him and make weird noises etc.

3. Read to him
Reading was like a daily activity for me when I was growing up. I went almost everywhere with a book in hand. I don’t expect Theo to read at an exceptionally young age, however I would like to cultivate a good reading habit. Reading should, oh well hopefully, be a natural activity that he would like to engage in when he’s older.

4. Talk to him
I’m a chatter-box. I can talk non-stop about all sorts of rubbish. But what would you say to a baby who doesn’t understand (or respond in words) you? I tend to describe EVERYTHING I do to Theodore. That means saying stuff like “Mama’s opening the drawer to get a spoon. Here’s the spoon. Oh! It’s made of metal! Can you see your reflection? Wow!!! Who’s that we see in the spoon?” If you’re crazy enough, you wouldn’t have a problem with this.

5. Tell him I love him
I can’t stop telling Theodore I love him. I’ll admit that I’m biased, but I still ask myself what I’ve done to deserve such a beautiful, cheerful and brave boy. I’m sure all parents think their own kids are the best and that’s a wonderful feeling!

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My Favourite Season is…

Singapore is located just north of the equator. It has a hot and humid tropical climate. We are a tiny red dot on the world map.
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Anyone capable of map reading will now know Singapore isn’t China even though majority of our population is Chinese.

When I was living in Singapore, it was a dream come true to visit other countries in Spring, Autumn or Winter. The chance to wear knee high boots and thick coats is a novelty. Not having to sweat under the blistering hot sun was deemed a luxury.

Weather forecast for Singapore in September.

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Humidity levels are so high in Singapore that you’d feel as though you need another shower when you’ve just came out of one. I used to think “I might as well just shower in my own sweat!” We’re all sticky and hot, no wonder tempers flare easily on that island.

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It has been more than 4 years since I left Singapore. After experiencing all 4 seasons in the last 4 years, I don’t think I like them THAT much afterall.

Weather forecast for Frankfurt in September.

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Fellow Singaporeans must think I’m crazy. I used to think Dan was crazy when he told me he hated winter and loved the hot weather in Singapore. He slept in the heat without turning on the fan or air-con! Madness!!!

If I had to choose, I would like most days to be like early/end summer. Those days are the best. They are usually sunny but yet not too hot. Mid-twenties temperatures are the best for me. Warm enough to be in t-shirt and shorts, and cool enough to not make me feel like I’m dying in the Sahara dessert.

As we’re slowly creeping into autumn (yeah, red maple leaves on the ground may look kinda cool)…hang on, what autumn? I swear autumn doesn’t exists in Germany. Maybe a week or two and then the temperatures plunge real low.

We’ve been really lucky with the weather this summer so I didn’t have to wrap Theo up like a dumpling. He enjoys his morning and afternoon walks (ie. nap time) in his pram and I’m happy to push him around with the cool breeze blowing against my skin. It helps wake any sleep-deprived mum up. I’ll have to get used to bringing him out daily (if he still fancies!) when the weather gets cold. Bbrrrrggg….I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

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One-Pan Salmon with New Potatoes and Peppers

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Words such as “one-pan” and “salmon” are enough to make me check out a new recipe. I love fish and wish I could afford to eat them daily. One-pan basically suggests less washing up. Excellent!

This recipe is an improvised version of that found on BBC Good Food. The original recipe asks for asparagus but unfortunately, I can’t find them in German supermarkets as the season is over. If any of you know where to get them in Frankfurt, please let me know!

This dish is simple and delicious. It’s a winner if you want a quick, tasty and healthy weekday dinner. I’ll definitely be serving this again with carrots, onions and courgettes!

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Time Management

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I was fortunate that Dan had 1 month Parental Leave after Theo was born to help us out at home. However when he had to go back to work, I found it exceptionally hard to cope alone. I couldn’t go to the loo as and when needed, neither did I have time to make myself lunch or cook dinner at my ideal time. Basically, my life revolved around Theodore. In the first week when Dan was back at work, there were days I couldn’t pop into the shower without the baby screaming the house down. That was when I decided we needed to reorganise our lives and manage our time better.

1. Start a Routine
This only worked because Theo is usually clockwork. It doesn’t necessarily mean I wake up or go to sleep at the same time each day. However, daily tasks such as having a slow shower in the morning after feeding Theodore before Dan gets to work is better than having to rush through it. After a shower (and the satisfied baby is looked after by his half asleep papa), I then make breakfast for both of us to start the day. Breakfast is my must have meal of the day. Without it, I cannot function. It is having a rhythm to the day that makes it less stressful.

2. Be Flexible
While I have a routine, I also expect my schedule to change. Knowing that my routine can be thrown out of the window because of a major poop incident or Theo being a merlion (ie. pukes milk) takes the stress out of my daily life. It means dinner is no longer served by the time Dan gets home; we sometimes only eat at 9pm! I’ve also learnt that it is tough to be punctual for appointments. I do try to be on time and not be more than 15 mins late for any appointments though.

3. Simplification
I used to look up BBC Good Food for fanciful recipes to cook for dinner. Who cares if dinner takes 3 hours to cook when you’ve got no baby to look after? And you’re not exhausted? These days, pasta, risotto, baked fish, soups for instance, are just some examples of simple yet healthy meals we have.

4. Prioritise
I hate leaving dishes in the sink after a meal but in the evenings, we’re both just too tired to do chores, hence we leave them till the morning. They’re easier to wash after being soaked in soapy water too! Also, I don’t clean the apartment as often as I used to anymore. Ironic, isn’t it? You would think that I should make sure that the place is dirt free now that we have a baby! Well, I think a moderate exposure to germs is ok. I can’t go round sanitising the whole place!!! Some chores can be left till later. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It’s just more important to attend to the needs of the baby and spend time together.

5. Multitasking
While Theo sleeps either on his rocker or pram in the mornings, most afternoons are spent in his wrap. That’s when I can FaceTime/ Skype others (yes, Mama needs to socialise too!), sort out letters (I hate them!), surf the internet and BLOG! That’s how I find time to blog! Theo falls asleep whenever I bring him out in his pram, so I only do my shopping during his nap time. A quiet sleeping baby means I get to shop in peace. Stress free!

I am still learning how to manage my time better to include other activities like meeting up with other mums & babies, reading and doing some light exercises. However, I’m in no rush. It took me more than 2 months to be comfortable with our daily routine today! Just like my boy, Mama’s gotta take baby steps too.

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Competitive Motherhood

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As a silent member of a few online mums’ groups, I noticed that mothers can get very competitive and judgemental. In fact, it all starts before the little ones make their appearance.

Being totally unfamiliar with nappies available in the German market, I thought I would ask the group if Brand X nappies were any good. While I expected yes-no answers and perhaps a few kind souls to recommend me other brands, a few mums asked if I “ever thought of using reusables because they are more environmentally friendly”. Ermmm, yes but the white goods provided in my apartment are probably Grades B and C so washing and drying would probably use more energy and harm the environment?

When shopping for a baby carrier, I was torn between the Ergobaby and Manduca (both given the thumbs up at my Prental class). Of course, I was treated with the “Did you know that those carriers are blah blah blah and you should use ORGANIC cotton da dee da dee da”.

Long story short: I can’t afford to buy ORGANIC cotton for my boy’s entire wardrobe.

Actually these mums aren’t bad at all because what they’re trying to do is help a new mum, like myself, know that there are alternatives.

Here’s the type of mum I find most annoying. The conversation usually starts off like this – “Can your son grab his toys yet?” Or “Is he smiling already?” As proud as a mum I am about my boy, I’m not particularly fond of getting into discussions about baby milestones. Why? Simply because every baby is unique, and develop at their own pace. There’s no need to check if all our babies are developing at a similar pace. If I had a concern, I would rather be checking with our paediatrician. I would hate to sit in a cafe talking about our kids’ developmental milestones.

Then there are two groups of mums – breastfeeding vs bottle feeding (be it formula or breast milk) mums. It is as though these two groups are mutually exclusive. Breastfeeding campaigns are so successful these days that they make mothers who DON’T feel so darn bloody guilty. I fell for it badly. So badly that my newborn baby boy would be crying in hunger and I would still refuse to feed him formula milk even though I didn’t have enough breastmilk for him. Daniel had to put his foot down at that point so Theodore got fed and I had some rest. I remember feeling so stressed out over breastfeeding because everyone around me did it and I felt like I had to do it too. Now, I’m glad Daniel and my midwife supported me through that rough patch and allowed me to take my time to get used to breastfeeding. They helped me realise that being a good mum isn’t just about breastfeeding. If I need to top up with formula, I can and I should for the benefit of my son.

I don’t necessarily think breast milk is the best (whatever experts or other mums claim). Neither do I think formula milk is better. Mums AND dads will have to do what is best for the situation their families are in. And this applies in all situations.

Did you know that there are sub-clubs in the motherhood club? One that I noticed is the “dummy/pacifier” club. I noticed that it’s always mums whose babies don’t use a dummy who ask other mums if theirs do. Seriously, I was asked by a mum looking at Theo sleeping with his dummy if he sucked a dummy. “What do you think he’s sucking on,” I thought. I replied, “Yes, he does” to which she immediately said “oh, my boy doesn’t take the dummy.” This has happened 3 times! I’m not pro or anti- dummy. I use it if my boy needs to soothe himself. At times he’s happier with sucking all 5 fingers, then so be it. Are non-dummy sucking babies smarter or what?

Mums can be so judgemental too (Ironic right? Since I’m basically judging judgemental and competitive mums! Hahaha). I must admit I do that too especially when I see a mum/dad smoking next to their child. To me that’s just so irresponsible. Everyday I’m judged by others who claim that I’m spoiling my boy when I carry him. He turned 11 weeks yesterday and can’t walk yet. What am I supposed to do?

Today a mum admittedly said she thought I was preventing Theodore from moving around too much by putting a bar on his legs. Obviously she thought I was insane so I had to explain that he had clubfoot.

To all mums out there, we’re all learning. You may be a new mum like myself or an experienced mum with 5 kids, we’re all learning about our little ones. Often, I remind myself not to judge other mothers. I’m not you so you’re very well entitled to have your reasons to doing things your way. Till date, I’ve not compared Theodore to other babies (eg. Checking milestones etc) because he is unique to me. Apart from referring to The Wonder Weeks book occasionally to see how I can help him through a rough time, I don’t really read up about milestones he should achieve at a particular age.

I watch and play with my boy everyday, and I want to enjoy this motherhood journey with him. I have good days and bad days with him. On both types of days, I try my best to become a better mum for him.

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Yoyo Does Yoga

When I was pregnant, I knew my body would change and inevitably ache. After all it has to accommodate my not very tiny baby (Theodore ended up more than 550g bigger than his estimated birth weight based on his ultrasound).
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Gosh! Looked like I was going to explode!!! Thank goodness it was mostly baby weight. Phew…

Little did I expect to continue aching after the birth! Yes, the joints are still loose, the muscles are flabby etc but the aches I experience feel like I’ve been working out in the gym non-stop. That’s kind of true. I never had good arm/ lower back strength, hence carrying Theodore is my workout. Heaven knows why I have a gym membership to reactivate in January 2015!

To ease my discomfort, here’s a chart that I’ve been referring to. Yoga!

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I tried it when I was in Singapore and I fell asleep in class. On hindsight, it was such a shame to not continue with Yoga classes. My movements are so restricted and my muscles are so tight that I swear they could snap anytime!

Starting a new workout requires new outfits. Duh… How else can I be motivated, right? I’ll have to share with you my new outfit when it arrives. I’ve been eagerly waiting for the postman each day (since I know the parcel’s already in Germany!!!). One thing for sure, the outfit is BOLD. Gathering my guts to wear it!!!

A blog on my three greatest loves – family, food & travels

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