Monday, 21 November 2011

My trolley load of kidzes!

This picture was posted on facebook exactly a year ago - on 21st November 2010. Flash to the past! :) Comments collected, below! Pamela Tan : My trolly load of kidzes!
· · Share · Edit · November 21, 2010 via Facebook for BlackBerry® smartphones
  • Emily Loo, Cindy Quek, Jean Ang and 8 others like this.
    • Germaine Teo-Chan Wah, they sell pretty cool stuff in supermarkets these days hor! :D
      November 21, 2010 at 12:56pm · · 1
    • Pamela Tan Yeah, I think so too! :)
      November 21, 2010 at 1:02pm ·
    • Daphne Chan where to buy where to buy?? Isaac's got a new hairstyle!
      November 21, 2010 at 4:39pm ·
    • Foo Pei Teng How much? What's the refund policy like? :p
      November 21, 2010 at 8:42pm ·
    • Pamela Tan
    • It's totally DIY one. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), no refunds, no exchange allowed. The one time registration fee is minimal, delivery charges quite standard, it's the maintenance that's quite shiong. Very time consuming and can be very costly.

      But for the amount of joy and laughter they provide - quite value for money lah. Highly recommended! In fact, if we have time and money, we may get a fourth one! :)
      November 21, 2010 at 8:59pm · · 3
    • Foo Pei Teng ROI not guaranteed....principle also not guaranteed....i think i will give it a miss! :)
      November 21, 2010 at 9:36pm ·
    • Pamela Tan Take some risk and enjoy the journey! How well the trip goes is what you make of it! :)
      November 21, 2010 at 9:39pm ·
    • Pamela Gordon so you had to push another trolley for your groceries? Lol!
      November 21, 2010 at 11:17pm ·
    • Maureen Ngam Good on you...Pamela...this is the SPIRIT OF MOTHERHOOD! Jia you!!! U look fabulous SUPER MUMMY!
      2 minutes ago · · 1

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Music to our ears

I wouldn't consider Hubbs and I as music fanatics, but we liked music good enough - listening to music, singing songs, making music (noise), going to musicals...

I've always liked listening to the radio, my tapes and CDs - did my fair share of taping songs off the radio, rewinding and playing songs over and over again to write down the lyrics (All I wanna do is make love to youuuuu!!!) But I've never been in the band nor have I really tried to learn to play any instrument at all - though I do have lotsa good friends who were in the band, but I dun think that counts. Well, about the closest thing I'd have experience as close as being a musician, is when I'm in the music corner during our Playback Theatre performances. And that was mostly when I was pregnant with Isaac and couldn't be up and about, prancing on stage - so I got to be the musician.

Hubbs, now, is a different story. He appreciates music to the extent that he did learn to play quite a few instruments - the guitar, the erhu, the guzheng, the piano... He even took part in a number of school-run talentimes. In the eighties and nineties, he was quite active in the local xinyao scene, frequenting the ming2 ge1 can1 ting1s till the owners recognise him and counts him amongst their friends. Oh, and, when we go to ktv - our friends certainly appreciate his singing better than mine!

So we've always kinda wondered, if any of our kids would be musically inclined? I was just wondering. But I know hubbs harbours a secret (though pretty apparent, to me at least, it is!) hope that the kidzes turn out more musically inclined than not.

We try, quite hard, I think. Since Isaac was a baby, we'd be playing him CDs of classical music, Cai Qin (hubbs') and Roxette (mine!) etc... We got that nice set of dvds the HBO Classical Baby series where they play famous pieces of classical music while show animation on the screen. We even sent him for the Yamaha music appreciation class - though we stopped that after about half a year, coz I thought it was quite crappy. And now, Isaac's taking piano lesson, and hubbs too. And it seems that Isaac's taking to piano pretty well - when he's in the mood, of course. When he's tired or otherwise distracted, he wouldn't be very attentive in class. Well, guess that's normal student behaviour. But all things considered he's doing quite well. He even knows how to read the music notes! Which, to me, is amazing, coz I could never read those bean sprouts, no matter how I try - ok maybe I didn't try very hard, but still...

Now, Asher and Shawna love listening to songs too. They enjoy the show Hi-5 and would often dance and sing along to the songs. When watching Little Einsteins, they'd both clap and pat along with the characters on the show, and they'd answer questions posed by the Little Einsteins, and by Dora in Dora the Explorer.

I found this very interesting because when Isaac was at that age, or even up to a year older than the twins are now, he didn't use to pat along, sing along nor dance along. So I thought it was rather interesting to see the twins do it now. In fact, it's only because Isaac sees them doing it now, that he follows them and does so as well.

In the car, the kidzes have already started fighting for "air-time" - they each request the CD they want. Isaac would want certain discs in particular, while Shawna would insist on those she wants. Since most of both request lists are majority nursery rhymes, I don't understand why they can't both listen and enjoy the same disc.

Shawna has interesting short-forms for songs. You know usually, when we want "Twinkle twinkle little star", most kids and adults shorten that to "Twinkle twinkle" but no, not Shawna. Let me share with you some of her short-forms that I've noted so far:

"Up above the" = Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
"Bus" = Wheels on the Bus
"Stream" = Row, Row, Row Your Boat
"Ee-eye-ee-eye-Donald" = Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Isn't it interesting that she doesn't use the usual abbreviations? So what does it mean? I don't know, that her mind works in a slightly different way? Haha I'd keep you updated...

Now how about Asher? Asher loves songs. He doesn't quibble over which disc is being played coz he seems to like them all! How'd we know? Coz he seems to know how to sing all the songs!!! Yeah, he's one amazing boy - he seems to know the lyrics and would sing along to most of the songs. He doesn't belt out full sentences of lyrics of course, but he'd say the words wherever he knows. But seriously, if you hear him, you know he KNOWS the songs. He can however, sing the full alphabet song. Oh, and hubbs has noticed that Asher seems to have a preference for Chinese songs. Yes, hubbs is MOST pleased.

So... Exactly HOW musical will they turn out to be? We'd see :)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Pedantic Industrious Isaac

Isaac can be a little pedantic at times...

Last weekend, Isaac had earned enough stickers on his sticker chart to get a MacDonalds Happy Meal, and he wanted to redeem it on Saturday. So I brought him to Macs and he was enjoying his meal when...

Isaac:"Mummy, where's my toy?"
Me:"Oh, it's here, I kept it."
Isaac:"Oh okay."
He was silent for awhile... Thinking...

Isaac:"Mummy, say "keep", not "cap" (he pats his head with his hand - which is sign language for 'hat'). Say "keep"! You cannot say "cap", it's wrong. You shouldn't say the wrong thing, later, I follow you, you know."

Hahaha... Apparently my lazy Singaporean tongue got me caught in a situation again!

Me:"Isaac, you're right. I shouldn't say "cap"; I should have said "kepT" (emphasizing on the T at the end). "Kept" has the same meaning as "keep", except that "kept" is in the past tense - it occurs in the past."
Isaac:"Huh? Same?"
Me:"Yes. Same meaning, but past tense. But you're absolutely right Isaac, Mummy shouldn't have said "cap", I should have said "kept" instead. "Kept" is K-E-P-T, not cap (pat my head) C-A-P."
Isaac:"Yes, don't say wrongly, Mummy." (He said in a castigating tone.)
Me:"Yes. That's why it's important to pronounce our words properly. If not, nobody knows what you're saying. Right, Isaac?"
Isaac:"Yes, okay, Mummy."

Right then, the first thought that crossed my mind was that I was so glad I'd always insisted that Isaac enunciates his words properly, especially the "T"s at the end of words! :p And then the next thought was... Ah! Industrious Isaac's just like Pedantic Pamela! RAAHAHAHA...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Shawna loves books!

Shawna loves to read. Every night, while her brothers are watching tv, Shawna would also watch for a little while, then she'd get bored... She'd turn to me and say "Mummy, room!" - pointing the way to the room. "Read. Room. Mummy!" And so, I'd quickly set the limit for the boys ("Isaac, Asher, when this episode ends, no more ah!") And off to the room, Shawna and I would go.

Shawna still at the stage where her concentration span is not very long, so we're still reading relatively short books, or books with very few words, or picture books. Currently, all her favourite books happen to be board books. Which is good, coz they're hardy enough to stand up to Shawna's rough handling.

Her favourite set of books now are the Karen Katz Baby's Box of Fun set of three books which we have. They're a really simple lift-the-flap books which teachers the baby about their body parts ('Where is baby's belly button? Under her shirt!!!') The board pages are great, but the flaps can't escape the Twin Terrors. Just this morning, Shawna tore off another flap.
Polar Bears don't swing in the Jungle, Monkeys do!!! (pix below) is another of her favourites. It's a book on animal in their natural habitat, but there's a twist in that they'd place an animal that's not supposed to be there, and they'd ask the readers to point out the odd-animal-out. This very thick board book also has 'windows' that can be opened and shut. When closed, you see the name of the animal, when pulled open, you see the picture of the animal. Good for Isaac, who's learning to read :)
Last night, I told Isaac...

Me: "Okay, you go get something to read, while Mummy go and bathe. When I am out, I will read to you."
Isaac:"Okay, I will read the babies' books now."
Me:"Babies' books? Why are you reading the babies' books?"
Isaac:"Because some of them are nice! That's why!"

Isaac's quite good at reading now. When I read to the babies, he'd often read along with me. Sometimes, when I get out of the shower, I see him reading to the babies :) He's really a very sweet kor kor :)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

How to increase milk supply?

Tandem breastfeeding - latching two babies at the same time. Photo taken in April 2010, twins Asher & Shawna at 3 months old.
I've been wanting to write this for a long time, but it has always been pushed back, for, afterall, I DID know the answer and I could always tell my friends and family in person. But I did want to write this, so that it forms part of the vast resource the internet is to people who need this info...

How to increase milk supply? This is a question that plagues mothers who wish to breast feed - how to increase their supply of milk - since this is essential to breastfeeding. Before I begin (coz the article is going to end before you know it, and you'd be like "Huh. That's it?"), just wanted to state for the record my breastfeeding credentials (basically, so that you'd believe me, you doubting Thomas /Thomasina?!).

I have three children, Isaac is 4 this year, and the twins Asher & Shawna turn 22 months old in three days time. I breastfed Isaac from when he was about four days old, to when he was 2 years old. He did not start to drink formula milk (he refused at first) until he was almost 3 years old.

Asher & Shawna were also fully breastfed from when they were four days old (seems like my milk tends to take about four days to come in), till they are about 18 months old. For both Isaac's time and the twins' time, I had surplus milk to store in the fridge and freezer. All three of them did not take well to expressed breast milk (EBM) and frozen milk. Thus, both times, I had to resort to giving away milk in order not to waste it.

So would you believe me when I tell you my method of increasing milk supply? I've never read it in any book or magazine, nor on any blog or website... So! You heard it here first! :)

The theory behind my method is well known though. It's DEMAND EQUALS SUPPLY (hmmmmm, do Econs students have better milk supply, you think?). This is what led me to discover this method. I said to myself:"If Demand = Supply, and I need more supply, then I should increase demand!!! Eureka!!!"

Most people do this ("increase demand") by pumping AFTER the baby suckles from the mother - this is also what you sometimes read in books. But there are two problems about this. (1) If you're taking care of the baby on your own, you're likely not to have much time to wash and sterilise the pump before and after use - there's simply not enough time! Not if you wish to sleep and eat at all! I discovered this while on maternity leave. But what's worse is... (2) After the baby has suckled, there is "no milk" left to pump! Nothing comes out! Thus, I concluded, that this "pump after baby drinks" is not a good idea.

Meanwhile, being the new mother that I was with Isaac, I was learning all about "Letdowns". In the context of a lactating mother's "letdown" Merriam-Webster defines it as "a physiological response of a lactating mammal to suckling and allied stimuli whereby previously secreted milk from the acini is expelled into ducts and drawn through the nipple". What this means is, basically, when the baby suckles enough to stimulate the breast into triggering a letdown, the milk will gush out in spurts out of the nipple, instead of say trickling or dripping out (or not at all).

Before I knew what a letdown was, I used to tell hubbs "It's The Bolt. Everytime Isaac starts suckling, I'd pray "God give me milk. God give me milk." And then God answers my prayers! He sends The Bolt of Milk! Look at the milk shooting out!!!"

And this happens to both breasts/nipples. Thus, even though your baby is only suckling one side, the other side will also experience a letdown. We mothers who know the preciousness of every single drop of milk tend to feel an extreme heartache when we feel the milk spurting out of the other side, being wasted... There is the breast shield you can wear in your bra in order to "catch" the milk dripping out. But I thought to myself, what a waste! We should pump during the letdown! That'd get the milk all out!

And so I did. I used an Avent Handpump, stood it in a mug beside where I usually sit to breastfeed Isaac. And when it is time to feed him, I latch him on one breast, carefully position him so that, by using the breastfeeding pillow and any other tiny pillow or towel to prop the baby up where necessary - you can actually free your arms, or at least one arm.

With this free arm and hand, take the manual pump, and stand by... Let the baby suckle, and when you feel the letdown coming ("The Bolt is here!!! Drink Isaac, drink!!!") START PUMPING!!! You'd find that with the letdown, pumping is no problem at all! If your baby can initiate multiple letdowns for you, all the better, you'd be upsizing the bottle attached to your handpump in no time at all. (
Read more about The Bolt here.)

I started doing this with Isaac one month before I went back to work coz I wanted to build up a frozen store before I went back to work. Within a month, my freezer was full. For essentially, I'd built up enough supply to feed two babies! Read this post to see pix and see how I position the baby and pump at the same time.

If you find pumping while feeding a baby difficult to handle, perhaps this La Leche Hands Free Pump Bra may help you. It's a seamless padded bra that features a one-hand drop up for nursing and a second layer for hands free pumping with a breast pump. So, using this bra can help you manage the pump while latching the baby.

Well, if you have only one baby, it's not necessary to build up so much supply, that's true. But this is one fantastic way to get your supply up, especially if you're a new mother who just delivered your baby. For that's the greatest fear of the mother who wants to breastfeed - that she has not enough milk. It also doesn't help that our parents' generation is the one that doesn't breastfeed, and grew us up on formula. So we've all heard about how discouraging our mother/mother-in-law can be with their constant questioning on whether we have enough milk for the baby to drink.

So let me teach you want to do. Since birth, you should start breastfeeding. Each session, latch baby half an hour on one side (say the Left side), while you pump the other side (the Right side). After half an hour of latching and pumping, stop. Then, take whatever you have just pumped on your right side, and feed it to the baby straight away.

In the first few days of their birth, when your milk isn't fully in yet (like mine only came in on the fourth day), you can even top up with a bit of formula milk - but only after the half hour of latching, and drinking the expressed milk, then if baby is still hungry, top up with some formula. We did this with Asher & Shawna for the first two weeks after they were born. After two weeks, we did not have to top up with formula at all coz my supply was strong enough to fully cater to their demands. That was one proud day for me, I can tell you that :)

Feeding back whatever you just pumped to the baby also serves another purpose: it puts yourself and the elders' hearts at ease to know that, minimally, the baby has that amount of milk to drink (what they see in the bottle). So, you can tell them, "See, they suckle for half an hour, then drink THIS some more! Sure enough!" Well, if not enough, then you top up with a bit of formula milk, like 20ml or something. This will all go a long way to set the elders' hearts at ease, and reduce the number of "Have enough milk or not?" comments that you will get.

So... try it out. It works, trust me. Using this method, I fully breastfed my twins for 18 months. As they preferred to have uber fresh milk - wanted to latch rather than drink from the bottle - I had loads of frozen milk spare and could afford to give them all away to feed a third child. And the size of your breasts have absolutely no bearing on the amount of milk you can produce. Yes, really :)

Now you know how I did it. How I built up my supply in order to feed my twins Asher & Shawna. It is tedious and tiring (I even pumped for night feeds), but oh my, it IS worth it. So, mothers, take heart, KNOW that you CAN breastfeed your baby, if you want to. It is hard work, but if you set your hearts and be determined, and persevere all the way, YOU CAN DO IT! :)

If this article has helped you, let me know! I welcome comments! And ask your questions too! :)


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