Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My retribution

All mothers wish that their children will grow up strong and healthy, my mum included. I was very thin when I was young. My mum scouted all over the island looking for remedy to make me fat. She resorted to a Chinese Physician who bound my little tummy with herbs to expel wind when I refused to eat, only to make things worse - I became skinnier. When I grew up to become a teenager and knew how to appreciate beauty, I blamed my mum for "making me so thin"- bone under skin. The adults said that I was a "starvation kid" and that my mum had picked me up from South Africa. Those words must have hurt my mum deeply. She tried all means to make me eat more. I still remember her serving me with idiot-proof homecooked meals - fish with bones carefully picked, prawns that are properly shelled and vegetables finely cut so that I would not complain that I couldn't swallow! I wasn't young then, I was already a grown-up in my 20's, with fully developed limbs and a mentally sound mind to be able to eat a proper meal myself. I really feel so ashamed of myself when I flash back.

I think I am experiencing my retribution now. Xuan is also very skinny. But I have yet to bind her tummy; I bound mine instead cos' it is too flabby after birth. I gave Xuan medicine from the pediatrician to improve her appetite. When she was younger, I pumped milk into her little tummy every two hours even though she wasn't hungry. I was also desperate to make her fat.

My mum is very happy now to see me in fats. It is now my turn to make Xuan fatter. I wonder if she will grow up to blame me for making her so thin. I hope not.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

Xuan's drawings

Recently, Xuan has been drawing pictures for me and Tm. Each day she'd ask me for a piece of colour paper and a pencil before she start to scribble. Every picture look the same. Can you make out what it is?










It is a picture of some children on the slide. Apparently the horizontal bar with lots of stripes represent the ladder whereby the children climb on to the slide. There is also a sun as well as some birds. She drew the pictures all by herself. Nobody taught her. I find it quite amazing. I don't recall myself drawing anything at the age of three. She'll be going to nursery next year.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Xuan's favourites

I love to watch Xuan making small talks with her favourite mittens, number blocks, Dubitu pillow and the colouful caterpillar. One day, I overheard the Dubitu pillow greeting Xuan, "Hello, Xuan Xuan!" and Xuan replied, "No, don't call me Xuan Xuan, I'm pretty little girl, Xuan Xuan!" Then Dubitu was forced to say "Oh yah..." The way Xuan say "oh yah" is absolutely cute :-)

Xuan's favourite collection has certainly grown over the years, from a range of loose-banded smelly old mittens to include 10 number blocks, a pillow with the word "Dubitu" (I have no idea what it means) written on its case and a long colourful caterpillar. These items will follow Xuan wherever she goes in the house. When she goes to bed, she will make sure they are arranged properly before she sleeps. No one is supposed to move them as she will wake up in the middle of the night to check if they are still in place...

Some of her mischevious poses
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Friday, November 17, 2006

Putting Kai to sleep

I have a very unique method of putting Kai to sleep. Different from all other mothers, and differs from the technique I used on Xuan. If you have seen it, you might have asked me to stop. But strange enough, that is the only method that can soothe Kai to sleep. I'm 'proud' to say that I am the only person capable of rocking Kai to sleep until today! But the poor child might be screaming for help and pleading for me to stop if he is able to talk!

This is what I do: I would hug Kai extremely tight in my arms, and as close to my chest as possible, leaving no room for him to struggle and wriggle. Then I would rock him violently (unknowingly, until someone reminded me) from left to right, and right to left again, and at the same time desperately letting out an extremely loud "orr, orr, orr,..." that would drown his cries for help. Strangely, this method worked! After struggling for sometime, Kai would stop wriggling altogether and doze into slumberland. I guessed he was exhausted and realised that he would never win in the fight, so he had no choice but to force himself to sleep. Poor thing!

Don't curse me for that, I have tried all other methods but none seemed to work. I tried putting him in the rocker and rock him, sliding the rocker to and fro on the bed, putting him on the bed and patting his back, rocking him in my arms gently with a softer "orr, orr, orr"... all futile. The adults did not dare to utter a word when I performed my 'signature' trick, because they are not able to help. That is poor Kai's life before 4 months.

Thank goodness he doesn't fall for the old trick now that he has grown bigger, heavier, and strong enough to wriggle out of my arms. I stopped using the method as it doesn't work anymore. Now I changed to another method - give him milk in my arms until he dozes off to sleep without any struggle. If he is still half-awake after the feed, I will immediately transform his lying position from 45 degree to 90 degree vertical with his stomach on mine, and gently pat his back. On good days, this method works and he'd sleep. On bad days, he'd toss and turn his head left and right, wriggle to search for a comfortable position, either to burp or throw out all his milk like a Merlion. The supposedly quiet and calm ambience suddenly became chaotic when I called for help to clear up the mess. By the time Kai is cleaned, his eyes will be wide-open and the whole cycle repeats.

I wonder what would be my next best signature method to put Kai to sleep?
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Xuan's jealousy

I heard of stories on how bad jealousy would be for the first kids when they first have a younger sibling. So before Kai was borned, I tried my best to prepare Xuan for the arrival of her younger brother. I told her she'd soon have a companion to play with. I told her she has to take care of her younger brother as she is a big sister now. She nodded agreeingly to all the things I said - no bargain. Sometimes, she'd caressed my big tummy as I told her "di-di" is inside. She seemed to look forward to Kai's arrival. Her self-composed song with lyrics that goes "I love my daddy, I love my mummy, I love my mitten" has since changed to include an additional line "I love my di-di".

All was well and Xuan was happy until Kai was borned. All the preparations to cope with Xuan's jealousy seemed to have gone down the drain. That day I gave birth to Kai, she came with her grandparents to visit me in the hospital. When she stepped into the ward, she looked sympathetic to see me lying on the bed. She asked if I was in pain. Then she asked,"Where is di-di?" When Kai was pushed to the ward, she looked at him with some smiles and mixed feelings, not much emotions. That night, Tm and I had to stay in the hospital while Xuan stayed with her grandparents. She is close to her grandma, so she waved goodbye obediently as she left.

The drama started when we returned home with Kai. Her jealous feelings were subtle. She first rejected Tm and me. She wanted to stay with her grandma and cried to go to her grandparents house. Sometimes she cried for the maid. She wanted to sleep with her instead of co-sleeping with us like what she used to.

After some episodes of withdrawal, she changed to show her jealousy more openly. She refused to let us carry Kai. She became very emotional and cried over the slightest things. Sometimes she behaved like a little opposition. Whenever I wanted to put Kai to sleep, she'd purposely create loud noises to wake him up. Whenever I asked her to lower her voice, she'd talk and shout even louder. She seemed to have turned into a little devil overnight. Sometimes, she went so close to Kai, just to let out a loud screech and make him cry! Many times, I simply lost my temper and chided her. I couldn't talk sense into her when she misbehaved. Only when she quiet down will I attempt to explain things to her. She would then nod her head in approval. But the very next moment, she showed her true devil colours again.

Sometimes I feel sorry to see her playing all by herself, talking to the number blocks and making conversations with the barbie doll. I regret for not spending quality time with her since Kai was borned. Kai demanded my attention every minute. By the time he napped, I would be completely knocked-out myself. It is only when night falls do I go to bed with Xuan, give her a big hug and assure her that I love her.

Today, Xuan seems to have came to terms that she has a younger brother to play with. Sometimes, she'd caress Kai and play with him. She is learning to cope with her jealousy and love her little brother more.
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Monday, November 13, 2006

Unconditional love

I was at KFC the other day when I saw a young mother slapping her down syndrome toddler for not eating her fries properly. I felt sorry for the little girl. The mother chided and beat her a few times. I was thinking was it because she was borned with down that she was treated this way? Aren't all parents suppose to love their children unconditionally? Aren't they suppose to protect their children from all harms and dangers? Why then do some parents throw their babies into rubbish chute or even lock them up in luggages? I wonder...

Ven. Ajahn Brahm taught me about unconditional love. His father once told him "Son, whatever you do in your life, know this. The door of my heart will always be open to you," His words were real and beautiful. It takes great courage and wisdom to say these words to another person, with no strings attached. He said if you give these words to someone close to you, if they come from your heart and you really mean them, that person will reach upwards, not downwards, to meet your love. I thought unconditional love is a powerful love. How many of us can do it in real life?

May all sentient beings be loved and love others unconditionally.
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Xuan's difficult phases of childhood

Xuan went through all the difficult phases of childhood... you name it, she'd have it. Sleep problems, night waking, late night sleep, stranger anxiety, separation anxiety, tantrums, self-hurting spells, etc, etc.

Sleep problems
This is the worst phase that has been driving me and Tm crazy. Luckily it stopped a few months after she turned two. She has not been able to sleep through the night. Well, in the initial months, I fully understand that she needed to be fed in the middle of the night since she was hungry most of the time. Then, one year down the road, she's still getting up, sometimes twice, sometimes thrice. I attributed that to some night terror, and maybe some separation anxiety... then somewhere, in the months of approaching 2 years, she'd suddenly sit herself up in the bed, then tugging and wakening me, luckily to my relieve that she's still within the compound of the king size bed (btw, Tm has long been banished to the cold floor since Xuan learned to flip, turn and kick all over the bed). Her waking episodes were not simple. She would not sleep after consoling with milk or anything, but play until she's exhausted. That would last 1-2 hours before she sleep again and wake up again 1-2 hours later. That time, we had to drove her in the car to get her to sleep fast without having to play!!! Life was hard! I admit we have spoilt her and the sleep problem has became a habit.

Stranger anxiety
She's shy, even until now, whenever she enter the lift with strangers, she'd clutch me tightly and look down. Last time, she used to cry whenever she sees my mother. I used to be very sad then and saw myself as such as failure for not able to bond Xuan with my mother. At the age of two, I was quite happy that she overcome the stranger anxiety and can enter people's houses during the CNY visits.

Separation anxiety and the terrible two's
Her separation anxiety started before she turned one, and after she turned two. The second stage of anxiety when she turned two was most vivid... I still recalled she would cry on top of her voice whenever I leave the house to work. And I called back to check on her to find that she was still crying looking for me. Her grandma could not take it that she fall ill. She told me that Xuan cried the whole day and throw tantrums, refuse to eat as well. For that one week I was very upset, I almost thought of giving up my job to look after her full-time. The separation anxiety was accompanied with crankiness. She would throw lots and lots of tantrums. She'd pulled her own hair and bit herself whenever she's upset. She refused to bathe, cried aloud whenever she gets changed, insisted only on butterfly clothes and nothing else. Whatever instructions you gave, she'd say NO! She simply resists everything you want to do for her. After a week or two, she toned down, her bad temper somehow subsided, I was happy again.

Today, Xuan is a grown up kid, reaching 4 next year. She is skinny but healthy. She is mischievous at times, and will become a cry-baby whenever she is sleepy. I am really happy that she has finally outgrown all the difficult phases of childhood. Educating and instilling good morals in Xuan is the next phase of challenge awaiting me.
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Xuan's weird character

Just now, Xuan came to the kitchen to tell me "You are not a dancer, you cannot ballet dance like a swan, Mummy," I laughed cos it was so funny. I supposed the elephant and swan effect still lingers in her head. Seeing me laugh, she continued, "You can laugh, Mummy". Then she turned to the maid and said, "I let Mummy laugh."

For the first time, she let me laugh. Strange? Yes, Xuan has this weird character. She forbids people to laugh. Whenever we laugh at some comedy on TV, she'd shout "Don't laugh!" Immediately, we would shut our mouth as she look down and walk away sadly. I wonder if it is a kind of inferior complex. She thought we were laughing at her, although we explained to her many times we are not.
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Friday, November 10, 2006

The 2 kids are so different

Besides their main difference in sex, they are poles apart in terms of growth. Xuan has her crowning glory all through while Kai started balding at 3 months. Kai drools a lot but Xuan don't. Xuan never flip and roll while Kai already rolled all over the bed before he reach 4 months. Xuan didn't know how to sit herself up until she was 2 years old (she could sit but did not know how to push herself to sitting position) while Kai pushes himself up whenever he lies in the rocker. Xuan did not like to bear any weight on her legs when we tried to stand her up even at 7 months, while Kai kicks and pushes to stand at 3 months.
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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Kai

Kai is 4 months old now. His father said he is a PR King. He never fail to smile at those people who greet him. I guess he is still too young to know about stranger anxiety. He is so adorable.

Kai likes to put his fingers into his mouth. I thought he would be the best baby model for KFC commercials with his 'finger licking good' pose. One day he squeezed all his five fingers into his mouth that he choked and gagged. For once, I thought he was going to swallow his whole fist!
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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

WHERE? The Noose ah... because the Porridge

That was Xuan's first exclamation when the porridge gets to her nose instead of her mouth while I was feeding her. She was 2 yrs+ then. Whenever something hit her or she hit some object accidentally, she'd exclaimed "WHERE?!?" Then I would point to my elbow which has accidentally knocked her head, or my foot which she nearly tripped over... what a mother am I...

I must admit I'm really blur and careless. Once I knocked her down while I was walking towards the window (in the house), without noticing her in my path... She cried out very loud but she didn't realise it was my fault. She blambed the window instead. I was very guilty. On another occasion, she fell to the floor while trying to reach my handphone. She knocked her head on a few occasions all because of my recklessness. I hate to confess.
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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Parenthood and me

Sometimes I wonder why do we spend so much time and energy nurturing kids only to let them forsake us in old age? Pessimistic? Perhaps I watched too much of those Chinese serials.

Being a parent is not easy, at least being a good one is not. It requires lots of time, energy and patience. Giving birth to Xuan and Kai are two great wonders and achievements in my life. The kids certainly bring joy and brighten up my life. Although life being a parent is hectic and exhausting, I must say the joy they bring is indeed rewarding.

I still recall the first few months when Xuan was borned. Every night, Tm would crawl out of bed to check the slightest squirms let out by Xuan in her Million Dollar cot. Before she performed her routine cry for milk, Tm would stagger to the kitchen, half-asleep to prepare milk for the next feed. If he cannot make it for the night (after a day's hard work), he would knock me out of my dreams, and fall back to sleep again. For me, dreams has never been complete since Xuan was born. Many times, I yearned for those good old days when I was still single and carefree... Anyway, I was the second Officer-in-charge when Tm cannot make it. It would then be my turn to crawl out of bed to attend to our precious daughter. Feeding was a difficult task. It usually last for an hour or more. Each time during feeds, I would pray that Xuan sucks properly and continue to the very last drop of breastmilk prepared for her. Usually though not always, she finished only half of the milk and stop... she stopped. She will either stop and struggle because of wind or fall into sleep. The struggling episode was more dramatic. It was difficult to burp her. If she fall asleep, it would just be a heart pain of wasting my breastmilk. Xuan is cute. I love the way she was wrapped up for sleep. Her hands couldn't move and she couldn't struggle... she'll just stare at you quietly and innocently... so lovable! There were times when she can make you so happy. She can be startled by her own fart while sleeping... it's so funny! Sometimes, she shook her head so violently and in a split second she would fall back in place, sound asleep like nobody's business. Her mouth made an "woo" when she wanted to do her business... and she smiled in her sleep too. Her best performing stunts are her flying kicks in the air.

Kai is also lovable. His smiles and giggles never fail to melt my heart. Kai was a caesarian birth. His birth weight was 3.9kg. Till now, my three inches of tummy fats still refuse to go away. Sometimes, I'd grumble to Kai on how he brought about my disfigured body, but deep in my heart, I know he is worth all the misery that I went through in pregnancy and the out-of-shape figure that I possess now.
Xuan's "woo" cue of doing her business!
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Monday, November 6, 2006

Kids' thoughts and talks

My 3.5 yr old daughter, Xuan, once asked me, "Mummy, do you dance like an elephant?" I was stunned. I said, "No, you don't dance like an elephant, you should dance like a swan - gracefully." That's how wonderful a kid's thoughts can be!

On another occassion, she asked me, "Mummy, do you like number nine?" I answered no. She pursued, "but why, Mummy?" I simply entertained her and said, "because I don't like." Instead of taking my stupid answer for it, she appeared agitated and said, "No, Mummy, you should answer my question... Mummy!"
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