Monday, May 27, 2013

Two Babies and One Pacifier

Yesterday late morning, Brother-in-Law came to our house and he brought his almost 1.5 y/o son along.

The baby battle over a pacifier begins.

Baby Naomi was a tad sleepy when my husband sat the boy and Naomi together in the sofa.

Then, the following happened:

Baby Naomi: "I'm sleepy. How come you have a pacifier and I don't? I sleep with a pacifier in my mouth, you know?"
En-En: "How would I know?"
Baby Naomi: "I think I want a pacifier too..."
En-En: "I don't know. Ask your Mom."
Baby Naomi: "Ugh!" *aggressively seized En-En's pacifier from his mouth*
En-en: "Aaak...!" *cried*

When this happened, MIL shouted at me, who was busy cleaning the dishes in my kitchen, and told me to quickly get Naomi's pacifier upstairs as she started grabbing her cousin's pacifier he was sucking.

Who says 8 m/o baby can't fight for the stuff she wants from older kid and she actually wins?

A Bad Haircut

For the past couple of weeks, I have been a bit concerned with Naomi's fringe that has grown pretty long and almost touched her eyes.

My hairdresser Mom who usually handles Naomi's hair had once taught me how to cut Naomi's fringe. While she demonstrated the simple fringe cutting methods to me, I think I did pay attention to her but at the same time went like "Ya, ya, ya! Got it. I can do this. Don't worry. Easy."  I mean - hello, I saw my Mom cut thousands of people's hair in her hair salon for how many years already? 

So yes, I was too clever by half and very adamant with the thought that cutting my baby's fringe should be as easy as remembering A B C and no trip to a beauty salon is required. Period.

Long story short, on last Saturday evening, I took a very brave step in cutting my baby's fringe all by myself, using the scissors that my Mom left in my house.

Chop, chop, chop.

(Naomi kept on moving around in her high chair while I was busy cutting a bit of her fringe and got panicky when she started eating her hair that fell onto her.)

Ta-da. Here's the result.

What have I done to you, Baby N?

Uneven and way too short fringe that makes Baby Naomi looks a little bit like Spock of Star Trek.

The moment I finished cutting her fringe, I thought I did a brilliant job and Naomi's new fringe looked so ah-mazing and cute. Then, I took a photo of her in my iPhone.

After I washed my hands, I opened the photo that I took in my phone and only then I realized how bad her new fringe looks now. I almost burst into tears.

I was so sorry and still am beyond remorseful now.

One friend advised me to trim Naomi's fringe again when she's sleeping, which is a good idea. Another friend told me to put a plastic bowl on Naomi's head and cut her fringe following the bowl's shape when she's asleep. I politely replied them, "No more DIY haircut as I worried my baby would be fringe-less after the second attempt.".

A haircut gone wrong is indeed a living nightmare. Even for babies.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to Raise A Happy Baby

Baby Naomi is a perennially sunny baby since her infancy. I mean she is not happy and cheerful all the time and she gets upset like twenty times in a day for many reasons. However, in general, I think she's not one grumpy baby and obviously, not stingy with smiles.

Hello, hello!

To date, she normally greets every day with a smile and does smile a lot to almost every one who tries to talk to her (provided that she's not tired nor in a totally new environment). Owing to this, our relatives and older family members often give her 开心果 nickname which literally means Fruit of Happiness and ask me whether I smiled a lot when I was pregnant with her (re: the answer is no, I didn't smile a lot back then. In fact, I cried a lot because of my pregnancy hormones).

To me, baby's temperaments are partially genetic but can be switched on and off depending on the environment.

Baby Naomi and her many expressions.

Anyhow, here are some practical routines that I do on daily basis in laying the groundwork for a happy baby:

1. Learn to read the signs

By now, Baby Naomi is a master in showing us, adults, the things that makes her upset or content. By reading her facial expressions and listening to her cries, both husband and I normally can predict whether Baby Naomi is hungry, tired, bored, feels hot, needs a diaper change, wants to be carried or a space in her toy-land, craves some baby songs to hear or misses her pacifier. Once we pretty much understand what she wants at a specific time, we'd attend to her need. Although the rule in the house pretty much sounds like both husband and I are under Baby Naomi's commands but we don't jump up and check on her every time she makes a peep or slight noise.

2. Maintain hygiene

Practising a good hygiene is essential in keeping a baby jolly and healthy all the time - plus clean baby does look and smell nice too. Honestly, I can't really stand looking at dirty kiddo so I try my best to keep my child clean every day. I bathe Baby Naomi twice a day and wash her hair once a day. I keep her nails trimmed so I always check on her nails every few days or so as they grow very fast. I change her diaper when it gets heavy, not only when she soils on it. I immediately clean her bottoms and change her diaper whenever it's soiled. Until this very day, I still sterilize her milk bottles and pacifier. As she drools a lot and makes mess when she eats her solids, I place a bib on her neck during the day so her shirt would remain dry and clean. If Baby Naomi's clothes happen to be a tad of wet, I don't mind changing her clothes. At home, I wipe her face and hands with damp cloth after she takes her meal or eats a baby biscuit. A pack of wet tissues is a permanent resident in my diaper bag as wet tissues are great help in cleaning baby's dirty hands or other parts of her body when I go out with my little one.

3. Healthy baby, happy baby

Undoubtedly, a healthy baby is happy baby. I try my best to keep my baby away from any sick adult or kid around us. When I fall ill, I try to stay away from my baby temporarily and let my husband handle her for a couple of days; and vice versa. Sick babies are never fun to deal with. When it happens, baby suffers and so do we. These days, I have been considering whether I should get Baby Naomi a flu shot sometime soon because the last bout of flu that attacked her last month was pretty terrible for the three of us.

4. Get enough sleep

Who doesn't get cranky when not getting enough sleep? I am not a true believer (yet) in waking up a baby when he or she is napping or sleeping. Baby Naomi takes two to three naps during the day and she turns to her bed again around midnight. Somehow, I find Baby Naomi's at her best mood after she wakes up from her nap or sleep.

5. Invest on quality (and quantity) time with baby

From my understanding, a happy kid or baby gets to spend quality time from both of his or her parents. Despite the old saying that goes "quality time over quantity", I would think that in baby's mind - quantity means quality. No matter how busy and flat tired we are, both husband and I always spend quality time playing, cuddling, singing or just hanging out with Baby Naomi every single day. I'd say that I get the luxury of spending more time with Baby Naomi and giving her more attention throughout the day as I'm always at home with her - one of the benefits of being a SAHM, you say?

Finally, don't you agree that a happy baby is the product of a happy home, regardless of genetic make-up? I do.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cruising

Since her first stand-up act début about three weeks ago, Baby Naomi's development milestones have grown faster than a speeding bullet train and now she's proficient at standing up hands free for 5-10 seconds and making a one small jump before she topples and falls down.

Cruising - A journey toward walking independently?

On top of that, Baby Naomi has started cruising or walking while holding on to furniture. I don't know why Baby Naomi is always so amused when she stands up or cruises. She never fails to throw us her happy smiles, showcase her five baby teeth whilst saying "hihihihihi" or giggle whenever she does this.

Anyway, all these are indeed quite exciting development milestones to watch for us parents as Baby Naomi constantly wows us with her new skills; however, now both husband and I have to closely monitor Baby Naomi whenever she's awake as we can't really leave her unattended for a long time.

Last week, both husband and I decided to retire Baby Naomi's baby cot which has loyally served her in the past seven months or so. Both of us wanted to minimize the risks of having Baby Naomi's fall down from our bed or hit her head on the baby cot's wooden slats (despite the cot's bumper); thus we have put a mattress on the floor next to our bed for Baby Naomi's toy-land and bed at night.

What's next, Baby N? Walking solo soon?

P/S: Happy 8 months old baby! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Making Palm Sugar Sponge Cake

Last Sunday evening, the baking bug bit me again. This time around, I wanted to bake a sweet simple cake - not chocolaty but more complicated than plain vanilla butter cake. Considering that I still have some palm sugar leftover in my kitchen, I thought of utilizing it as one of the cake's ingredients.

After browsing some palm sugar cake recipes in the internet, I decided to just go ahead with making this palm sugar cake to satisfy my craving.

Simple and easy Palm Sugar Sponge Cake.

Palm Sugar Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
  • 4 Eggs
  • 125-150gr Palm sugar, thinly sliced/grated
  • 1 tsp Cake emulsifier
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 100gr Cake flour
  • 25gr Corn Starch
  • 1 tbs Milk Powder
  • 50gr Margarine or unsalted butter, melted

Tutorials:
  1. Mix together and sift cake flour, corn starch and milk powder. Set aside.
  2. Cream eggs, palm sugar, vanilla essence and emulsifier using high-speed electric mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add the flour mixture into the cake batter and fold them using a rubber spatula.
  4. Slowly pour the melted margarine or butter into the cake batter. Mix well.
  5. Pour the cake batter in a cake pan which is already greased and lined with baking paper.
  6. Bake the cake in a preheated oven (180 degree Celsius) for about 25-30 minutes.

This cake is soft and not so sickly sweet. By the way, if you want slightly thin cake result, use a square cake pan (22x22x4cm). If you prefer to have thicker cake result, you might want to consider baking this cake in a loaf pan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Renewing Indonesian Passport in Malaysia

My long-term visa in Malaysia for this year is expiring real soon and since I plan to extend it with validity of more than 1 year to save annual troubles, I have to have enough empty pages in my passport book (which I didn't have). Thus, albeit my existing passport expiry date's next year, somehow I had to get a new passport book from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

After much delay in renewing passport book in the Indonesian Embassy Kuala Lumpur, my husband finally drove me to Kuala Lumpur yesterday and accompanied me applying my new passport book.

Glad I don't have to do this in the next 5 years.

The supporting documents requirements for extending an Indonesian passport book in Malaysia can be read from the Indonesian Embassy's official website here.

In a nutshell, based on the above-mentioned link, if we are not a maid/worker/student/expatriate in Malaysia, followings are the documents that we ought to bring if we plan to renew or make a new Indonesian passport book in Malaysia (provided our passport book is expiring soon or we run out of its empty pages, not because we lose the passport book):
  • A form for renewing passport (to be obtained in the information counter in the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur)
  • Original (existing) passport book
  • A photocopy of passport record (the page with our photo, personal details and passport number)
  • A photocopy of valid visa (the page with visa sticker placed in the passport book)
  • A photocopy of Malaysian spouse's IC
  • A photocopy of marriage certificate(s)

Here are the steps in renewing the passport book once we arrive to the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur:
  1. Go to the Information Counter and obtain the form for renewing passport (they may ask us to show our existing passport book before giving us the form and this form is free of charge)
  2. Fill the form 
  3. Queue at the gate opposite the Information Counter and show the filled form to get our queue number
  4. Find to the "Photo Room" to take our passport photo (this service is free of charge)
  5. Enter the big room in the middle (that has 25 counters) and wait for our queue number and assigned counter number to appear in the screen 
  6. Submit the filled form and all required supporting documents to the officer
  7. If our passport renewal application is successful, the officer will ask us to pay the processing fee and give us a receipt for collecting our new passport book
  8. Collect our new passport book in an area outside that big room (counters no. 27-30), near the exit passage. 

Yesterday, nobody told me the exact orders in submitting the documents to renew my passport book. The website doesn't state such information either. Thus, although the processes in renewing passport were supposedly pretty simple and textbook as I had done the same thing in Indonesian Embassy in Singapore years ago - the whole ordeals turned out really frustrating yesterday. Most of the staff in the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur were, sadly, somewhat unfriendly and not that 'helpful' in assisting me and there was no available information about the correct sequence in submitting the paperwork in the embassy compound; for instance, should I line up for the queue number first or get the form from the information counter first, should I submit the documents first or take photo first, where to collect the new passport book, etc.

By the way, don't be surprised if it takes about 3-4 hours to wait for our new passport book to be ready after application. We'd have to wait for your new passport book in the waiting/collection area with some 300 other people or so (one and each of them waits for the same thing that we want, the new passport book). Don't rely on the information shown in the screen in the collection area because it won't make our queue number appear again to let us know that our new passport book is ready. Instead, an officer will call our name using a loud microphone to let us know that your new passport book is now good for collection. Once we miss his call, we'd have to wait again until he calls our name again.

Total fee: RM 75 for a passport book with 48 pages
Required working day(s): Immediate. Collection of new passport book is on the same day of application.

** Please note that this information is based on my personal experience and subject to change in accordance with any amendments to the rules and regulations from the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia.

Featured in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine's May 2013 Issue

A couple months ago, I sent my pregnancy and birth story (of Baby Naomi) to the Editor of BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine. On the next morning after I sent the file to the Editor, she replied my email saying thank you and that my story will be published in the magazine's May issue as they just closed their April issue. How delighted I was.

As expected, I could not wait until May to come. 

"Where is May?" 

"Why May isn't here yet?"

May finally arrived and I just got the magazine's latest copy this morning and was super happy when I spotted my one-page story is indeed published in the magazine's "Here Comes the Stork" section on page 16. 

Such an honour.

This time, Baby Naomi and I rock the Here Comes the Stork section.

Here's a more close up look on my one-page pregnancy and birth story write-up for the magazine.

Click to enlarge.

This is indeed a dream come true. Someone pinch me please.

Wait. As I thoroughly flipped through the magazine's May copy earlier today, I discovered that my comment on the magazine's featured articles on pre-conception care some two months ago is published and chosen as this month's star letter.

Yay!

By the way, I am now still contemplating whether I should get more copies of this month's BabyTalk Malaysia magazine or not.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Baking Date with My Niece

Yesterday, my husband and I went over to my Mother-in-Law's place for lunch. My niece happened to be there too. When my husband and I were about to go home as I had a plan to bake a cake that afternoon, my niece sighed a bit. Then, I offered her to come over to our place and see me bake. She quickly said yes and my Mother-in-Law gave us the green light to bring the kid to my house.

In the car, she kept on mentioning that she wanted to bake cookies. Not cake.

Long story short, I took her instruction very well and changed my mind. It was like, "OK, kiddo! You win this time. Let's bake some cookies today!"

To make the whole experience fun, I thought of making some cookies that are easy to prepare so I could involve my niece instead of doing the whole thing myself.

Then, I decided to make dog cookies that I once baked because their shapes are so interesting for kids.

Before our baking frenzy began, I sent my husband and niece to go to a nearby supermarket to get some koko krunch as I had no idea how to substitute the dogs' ears without using koko krunch. Whilst both of them were away for koko krunch, I started measuring the cookies' ingredients and tending to Baby Naomi at home.

About half an hour later, they're back from supermarket. I handed Baby Naomi over to my husband so I could whip the cookies' dough. It took me about 5 minutes to make the cookies dough. Once I was done with it, I quickly called my niece to start decorating the cookies with me.

In the beginning, she's in charge for decorating the dog's face in the cookies - the eyes, nose and ears. Not long, I realized that putting really tiny chocolate rice to a mini cookie dough ball for a kindergarten kid is like asking her to find the measurement of third side of a triangle using a Phytagorean theorem. Too difficult. She made the dog faces in the cookies look like they just got some serious industrial accident in the eyes - one eye was big, the other was small; both eyes were too far away from each other or way too centred.

Soon, she gave up doing the dogs' eyes and I asked her to place the dogs' nose and ears only.

Let the fun begin!

Anyway, I can tell that she had so much fun decorating all the cookies because she could not stop smiling from ear to ear when we're making the cookies yesterday.

We're ready to bake these cookies now!

After the cookies were baked, despite my warning that the cookies were still hot as I just took them out from the oven, my niece already munched like 3 of them.

My niece attacking the first batch of the dog cookies.

Our Sunday's masterpiece.

Once the cookies were not too hot any more, I packed some cookies for my niece to bring home and share with her sisters. I asked her to choose the cookies that she wanted to bring home. I think she mostly chose the cookies with dogs' faces that had more characters like sleepy, sad, angry and such instead of those which had almost perfect faces.

About an hour later, my brother-in-law came to pick my niece up and she happily hopped onto her Dad's car carrying her cookies inside the plastic containers.

So proud with her cookies.

Hmmm... When will Baby Naomi be able to accompany me baking? 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Naomi: 7 Months and 2 Weeks Old

How time flashes before my eyes. In less than 5 months from today, I will help my little baby blow the candles on her first birthday cake!

At 7.5 months old, Baby Naomi sports four very sharp teeth. All of her teeth have grown in correct order - two middle teeth, each pair grows on her upper and bottom gums. She has gap between her two pearly whites on the upper gum but I heard this gap is normal and nothing to sweat about.

Can you see my four teeth?

At this age, Baby Naomi has shown a separation anxiety towards Mommy and Daddy. Most of the times, she begins to cry as soon as one of us is out of her sight. These days, whenever I need to do something in the kitchen, I would have to bring her baby chair to the kitchen, let her sit there and see me get busy in the kitchen. Else, you can guess what happens next. A howling talent show indeed. What a clingy baby.

Baby Naomi is always in the mood of pulling everything, including my hair and specs. Doesn't she know that Mommy's lost a lot of hair already due to post-partum hair loss?

Baby Naomi likes to examine, pull and chew my necklace. I think it's because every baby usually is very interested with something shiny in general?

Mom, can I have some bling-bling too please?

Last March, I mentioned that Baby Naomi loves being held in standing position whilst bouncing up and down. Over the space of a month or so, Baby Naomi's development has progressed at lightning speed. In the beginning, she crawled like a big fat desert lizard commonly documented in Animal Planet. Then, she crawled faster using her abdomen. I call this the crocodile style. Now she bolts on all her fours to pick whatever things she can find. The perfect crawl.

Recently, Baby Naomi can stand up all by herself. Both husband and I were horrified when we first found out that she's now strong enough to hold onto something and stand up independently. On some odd times, Baby Naomi'd try to stand up hands-free for few seconds on our bed and of course, we'd catch her before she falls. This is why; both husband and I had lowered the base of her baby cot and playpen so she won't climb out.

I am going to walk sooner than you thought, y'all!

Baby Naomi's vocabulary has increased from just Pa Pa Pa Pa to other words like Eh Eh EhAh Ah Ah and Ce Ce Ce Ce but no Ma Ma Ma Ma just yet. I guess I still have to patiently wait for that one fine day when I hear those miraculous words coming from my chirpy baby's mouth.

On the singing department, Baby Naomi is still crazily in love with Mommy's singing so I am involuntarily tasked to learn and memorize lyrics of more kiddie songs to avoid boredom.

I guess that's all about Baby Naomi's milestones that I can remember now.

P/S: Slow down, Baby!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Travelling by Air with Baby: What to Bring and Tips to Stay Sane

Since I had my baby, my travel life, particularly one that would require me to hop onto an air plane, came to a grinding halt.

Every time I had the urge to fly home (as I had not gone home for almost 1 year!) or felt like realizing my wildest dream to have a short vacation overseas with my husband and baby, I always killed the idea. Both my husband and I planned to apply a passport book for Baby Naomi long time ago but we never actualized it.

"Maybe next time", "Later" and "Wait until she is a bit bigger" were the common reasons of delaying our plan to travel overseas. Why? Because we foresaw the humongous amounts of stuff that we'd need to pack and carry should we go for an overseas trip with a baby. Then, we got lazy. In addition, we dreaded the possibility that Baby Naomi would be very fussy or get really hyper for hours inside the air plane. Troublesome, don't you think?

Two months ago, after some family members in Indonesia persuaded me to go home so they can meet their newest family member addition, along with lots of encouraging words from friends who've successfully travelled by air with their baby; I finally clicked the ‘confirm payment’ button on AirAsia website.

Days after we booked the tickets, we applied for Baby Naomi’s passport book.

A week before the flying day, both husband and I started packing our stuff for this trip and as expected, it's not possible to travel light with a baby on hand.

In mid of April, the three of us flew for the first time. We flew with AirAsia and the destination was Surabaya, Indonesia. Baby Naomi was 6 months and 3 weeks old when she flew for the first time.

Baby Naomi’s diaper bag was extra heavy when we packed that for our international trip. In her diaper bag, on top of carrying extra disposable diapers, clothes, medications, toys, milk bottles, wet tissues, blanket, etc.; I brought a Thermos containing hot water and two sets of baby milk powder dispensers containing her measured formula milk powder. When adults are usually not allowed to bring any liquid including mineral water that amounts more than 100 ml to the plane, seemingly it’s fine to bring a Thermos full of hot water on-board when travelling with a baby.

It almost felt like we’re moving house again when we carried Baby Naomi’s daily necessities to the plane. It’s a lot but luckily was not more than the allowed 7 kg hand-carry limit.

After checking in LCCT Airport.

Also, after much contemplation whether we should bring Baby Naomi's stroller overseas, we decided to do so due to convenience reason. Apparently, after checking-in the airport, we can put our baby in the stroller until we’re about to board. Until then, the air stewardess would keep the stroller for us and we can collect it in the airport’s baggage claim area after landing.

I believe this picture was taken before the nightmare began.

So, did Baby Naomi behave during her flying time? Errr… not really. There were times when she was quiet and manageable but most of the times, she was pretty hard to handle unfortunately. Both husband and I spent most of our times inside the plane soothing and entertaining this little passenger. She only slept for less than half an hour inside the plane, thus my plans to catch up with my sleep and rest my dizzy head evaporated in the air.

Well, despite all the minor glitches that Baby Naomi caused inside the plane, the three of us managed to land safely in our destination and were very happy to meet my family in Indonesia again. 

Before I end this post, below are some tips to travel safely and sanely with a baby by air, based on my personal experience:

  • During take-off and landing, to help baby's ears adjust to changes in cabin pressure, offer him or her a bottle of water/milk or a pacifier. This step is so important; else, once your baby’s ears get really painful due to air pressure, your next few hours of flying time would be nothing but a misery and even more dramatic than the saddest Korean drama ever aired on TV. By the way, some people recommend stuffing baby ears' with a bit of cotton balls during take-off and landing to avoid painful ears but I have not tried this method.
  • Bring jacket and dress your baby in warm and cosy outfit. Don’t you think it’s always freezing inside a plane, let alone for a baby?
  • Always keep your baby dehydrated with water as flying in an air plane may cause dehydration.
  • Bring lots of favourite toys to entertain your baby if he or she is awake inside the plane. I don’t know how my husband and I would survive in that 2,5 hours trip without baby toys!
  • Pack some baby biscuits (suitable for babies aged 6 months old ++) that your baby can nibble inside the air plane. Baby biscuits spare parents at least 15-20 minutes of peace as with a biscuit on hand, baby would now sit still and focus in munching the biscuit instead of screaming or pulling or eating AirAsia's new in-flight menu book that features Farah Quinn on the cover random things surround him or her. Don’t forget to put a bib on the baby’s neck, cover his or her lap with a napkin and carry wet tissue to make sure that we can manage and clean his/her snacking mess later on.
  • Consider booking hot seats (if you are flying with budget airline) inside the plane as it’s more spacious. I don’t think AirAsia has changing tables on-board so changing Baby Naomi’s soiled diaper on our laps whilst sitting in the tight spaced economic seats was super challenging; especially when she refused to stay still whilst we’re cleaning her dirty bottom. Been there, done that!
  • If your baby begins orchestrating drama inside the plane, stay calm and tend to him or her. Other passengers would typically be unhappy about the disruptions and constant loud noises from a fussy baby (in their heart, they might curse you for indirectly causing public nuisance in the air too); but seriously, the baby’s parents are normally in equal distress in handling their fussy baby. I usually don’t sing in public, but I shamelessly sang various kiddie songs in three languages over and over again inside a plane with full passengers in an attempt to keep Baby Naomi quiet.

Last but not least, I wish you happy trails in travelling by plane with your baby!