Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine's September 2014 Issue

Almost forgot to document here that my article on my 1st versus 2nd pregnancies was published in this month's BabyTalk Malaysia under "Bump to Birth - 9 Months" section. I was honoured to be given 3 pages for my writing this time around.

Find me in September 2014 issue.

Too bad, my name as the author of this article was not printed and this story only got published when Baby Dylan is no longer around.

Still, I am privileged to see that the magazine picked me again.

46 Days and Counting

It's been almost a month since I last wrote about Baby Dylan. Although these days I seldom talk about him here or elsewhere, it doesn't mean that I have forgotten him. No, I am not over him yet. I am still mourning. I miss him. I would be lying if I tell you I have entirely stopped crying over my son's demise. Once in a while, I still cry for his life; and the dreams, hopes and expectations that were taken away from me.

I don't draw very well but how are you, son?

Sometimes when I see other people's little boys or babies, my brain could not help but wonder how my Dylan would look like at 2 m/o? How big would he be as a 6 m/o baby? Could he walk by the time he turned 1? Would he be a chubby baby like his sister? What kind of hairstyle would he sport? Mushroom-like? Or short and neat? Would he grow up as a handsome dapper young man? Would he be as tall as his Dad?

Anyway, in the first two weeks after we lost Dylan, I received a lot of messages from family members, friends and other people to quickly move on and not to think about my second baby so much. Turned out, apparently you just cannot rush grieving. There is no secret recipe to heal fast. The only cure of grief is to grieve. Grieving is personal and has no time limit. Everyone grieves in his or her own way and no one knows exactly the depth of pains that one's going through from losing his or her baby.

Speaking of emotions, I think the emotional whirlwinds from grieving that I experienced so far come in stages. There was a time when I was incredibly sad. My heart ached so badly until sometimes it was hard for me to breathe. Tears rolled out of my eyes uncontrollably and I could not stop myself from reaching for more tissue papers. At night, I had trouble sleeping too. When I tried to close my eyes to sleep, my head was full of my son. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because the sadness over this loss was just to overwhelming to bear. I longed for my son and he was nowhere to be found. When I slept, he appeared in my dream and the moment I woke up, I thought of him again. He was stuck in my mind.

After going through these intense pains for many days, I became numb. This numbness was then followed by immense guilt and regrets because my son earned his wings so soon and would never come back to me. The thoughts of "I wish we could save him." "I wish I'd rushed to the hospital sooner." and the like danced in my mind non-stop. Only when I could think straight again I began to rationalize the brutal truth that Dylan was probably already gone when I was asleep and I only got to find out that something was amiss when he had completely stopped moving or passed away for quite some time. We could not anyhow save him. The following week came and I felt like 'normal' again. I could appreciate the blue sky, chirping birds, pretty flowers around me and all. It was as if I was just brought back to life once more.

Nevertheless, the stabbing pains re-emerged and I became a very angry and jealous person. I was angry to the world in general and jealous of those women who are still pregnant (especially those whose due dates were around Dylan's EDD) or those ladies who managed to bring their newborns home safely. Why are they still pregnant and I am not? Why their babies made it through this world and mine did not? I am not too sure if this anger was normal for a bereaved mother or whether the choking anger wrapped me because I was too hormonal. Then, I was not in the mood to socialize or meet people either.

Last week I managed to make myself understand that what happened to Dylan was purely God's plan and I was somewhat soothed. God gives us life and He too will be the one who takes it back. As for Dylan, I made myself believe that God only planned his life to be so short and He didn't even plan him to take a breath in this world we are living. I can't figure out why as yet. What I know is that He loaned Dylan to me for 30 weeks, my job was to take care of him during that period and I did. When my part was done, He took Dylan back. I had no choice but to return him. For a while, this mind-set sort of helped me in letting him go.

Too bad, I started this week feeling down and grumpy. Another different wave of emotions hit me. This time around, I feel so hopeless because there is nothing much or rather, nothing happy, for me to look forward to in the coming days, weeks or months. My life feels empty and I am just getting by every day that passes.

What's next? I don't know.

On another note, just a gentle reminder in case you meet grieving parents in the future, please make sure you avoid saying the following to them:
  1. Move on. (Refer to the above for the reason)
  2. I know how you feel. (No, you don't. Unless you were in the same situation before then yes, you do.)
  3. Be thankful for what you have. (I am but what about the lost baby that I'd carried for so long? You can probably say this when the grieving parents are in a better state.)
  4. You're still young, you will have more kids. You can try again soon. (I know my husband and I are still considerably young but guess what; the fact is we can't try for another baby that soon. We need time to even begin to try again.) 
  5. Life goes on. (Second that but my life had recently been turned upside down. Please bear with me when I am putting it back together, ok? In the meantime, I need to heal the gaping oozing wound in my heart too and sadly, I could not find the medicine for this in the pharmacy nearby.)
  6. Don't cry. Don't be sad. (What is wrong with crying and feeling sad? Crying is necessary to express the emotional pains and sadness is inevitable when you lose your child.)

By listing the above, I do not mean to be rude or ungrateful to those who showed their concerns and offered their kind words when they found out about my son's incident. However, having gone through this painful event, I realized what people said to me during difficult time did matter somehow. The comforting statements that many people believed to be helpful somehow turned to be unintentional bad comments that added unnecessary pains to the broken-hearted me (and probably other grieving parents too). Due to wrong choice of words, some people's good intention was not communicated as so. As such, just my two cents, if you are not sure with what to say to the bereaved parents, perhaps consider saying that you are speechless over the tragedy? We'd understand that. Alternatively, just offer your condolences and say "God bless you and your family." or "May comfort and peace be with you"?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Toddler Busy Bag: Making Colour Matching Ducks and Ponds

I think I'm in love with colourful felts and must shamelessly admit that making toddler busy bags is indeed quite addictive.

I had a pretty slow Saturday this week because my husband and I didn't really have plan to spend our Saturday afternoon. To kill my free time at home yesterday, I kept myself busy by 'playing' with my colourful felts, glue and scissors again.

For my third busy bag, I came up with another colour-matching activity for preschoolers and this one doesn't need any sewing work (so not harassing my eyes and fingers!). I made some cute yellow ducks and their colourful ponds using assorted colour of felts. The objective of this busy bag is for kids to place or match the ducks to the right ponds based on to the ducks' wings colour. This time around, I pasted velcro tapes to one side of the felts so the ducks can stick to the ponds better and we won't lose them easily when utilizing them to keep kids occupied on-the-go.

Place the ducks to the right ponds.

DIY Colour-Matching Felt Ducks and Ponds

Materials:
  • Yellow and orange felts for the ducks' bodies and beaks
  • Black felt for the ducks' eyes
  • Assorted colour of felts for the ducks' wings and ponds
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Puncher, optional
  • Velcro tapes, optional

The final results.

Tutorials:
  1. Draw a circle shape on your colourful felts and cut them according to the shape. This round felts will serve as the ducks' ponds. Mine is about 8cm in diameter.
  2. Draw a duck shape on a paper (mine is about 6cm big) and trace this paper template onto the orange felt to create as many ducks as you want. Cut out to pieces.
  3. Cut a mini triangle shape on yellow felt for the duck' beak. Glue the yellow felt to the duck (orange) felt to create the ducks' beaks.
  4. Using a puncher, create a mini round shapes on black felt for the ducks' eyes and stick them to the felt ducks using glue. Alternatively, draw the eyes on the felt ducks using a black marker.
  5. Draw a wing shape on a paper and trace that paper template onto the colourful felts. Cut them to pieces and paste them to the felt ducks.
  6. Cute some velcro tapes and stick them to the back of each duck and the corresponding ponds (optional).

Stack them and pop them in a plastic bag for storage.

I tested this new busy bag to Naomi yesterday evening. I think the cute duck shape attracted Naomi most and she kept on playing with the ducks even before I finished creating the whole busy bag.

Naomi and her new DIY toys.

This morning when we went to KL to visit my nieces, I brought along this busy bag and introduced this activity to my 3 y/o niece who already goes to kindergarten. 

My niece matching the ducks to the ponds.

I took me only seconds to explain to her how to play with these ducks. Once she got the hang of it, we played this game 3-4 times before everyone called us to eat lunch.

Naomi and her cousin playing together.

I think my niece's reception towards this activity was overall better than Naomi because every time I challenged her to play this she was more interested and excited than Naomi was. Is it because generally Naomi gets bored to things faster? 

OK then, the next time I meet my niece again, I will let her play with all my busy bags and see how she responds to them. LOL.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Toddler Busy Bag: Making Felt Fish Tank

Since Naomi often gets excited and happy every time she sees fish swimming inside an aquarium or in a pond; last weekend, my husband and I bought a small aquarium and filled it with guppies. Unfortunately, all the fish survived in our new aquarium only for a day or two. We reckoned the fish could not stand the water changes in our aquarium and since we don't know how to fix this problem yet, our aquarium is now empty. My husband is not so keen in filling our aquarium with more fish as so not to kill more innocent fish, at least until we find out the solution to our aquarium's water.

Anyway, I was browsing DIY crafts for kids using felts (since I still have a lot of them) and came across toddler busy bag idea by creating an adorable fish tank using various colour of felts. The whole idea of this activity is for little kids to use their imaginations to recreate an aquarium/underwater scene, which they are already quite familiar with. This colourful play-set doesn't create much mess, is so easy and fast to make (no sewing needed). It only requires drawing, cutting and gluing works for Mommies.

The felt fish tank and its contents.

DIY Felt Fish Tank

Materials:
  • White and blue felts
  • More felts with other colours
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

Tutorials:
  1. Draw some ocean wave pattern on one side of the blue felt and cut it according to the pattern.
  2. Put some glue on the blue felt's top part (wavy pattern) and paste it to the white felt (see example above).
  3. Using the green felt, draw some coral or underwater plant shapes and cut the felt according to the shapes.
  4. Using several different colours of felt, draw fish shape and cut the felts according to it. Draw an eye and mouth to the fish felts using a marker.
So simple and straightforward, isn't it? For this play-set, the fish and coral felts are removable as we don't need to put any glue at the back of the felts. Hence, this activity can be played over and over again.

What happened once we put the fish and water plants inside the fish tank. 
Cute much?

Once I was done with making the fish tank and the colourful water creatures felts, I quickly presented them to Naomi. The below are a couple of pictures of Naomi when she was playing with her new fish without getting wet.

 Naomi and her fish tank.

As usual, for storage just pop them in a zip lock or plastic bag.

Placing her fish into the aquarium.

I will try playing this busy bag with Naomi again later and at the same time, do impromptu story telling about the fish inside the fish tank. I hope she'd find this activity more interesting this way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Little Model

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my second pregnancy, my birthday and Naomi's second birthday; in August, my husband and I booked our studio maternity/kid photo session with a professional photographer we know in town. However, just days after we booked our session and paid the deposit, we unexpectedly lost baby #2. Because of this, we had to reshuffle our plans, including this studio photo shoot appointment.

As we were not able to take our deposit back should we cancel this studio photo session, my husband and I decided to just go ahead with our plan in taking pictures at the photo studio, with Naomi as the main star.

Fast forward, the set D-Date for the studio photo shoot was about a week before Naomi's second birthday. Since the studio photo package didn't include our outfits, make-up and props, we had to do a little bit of planning and shopping for this photo shoot session. And this extra shopping automatically translates to additional costs for our studio photo shoot expenses.

We booked our slot in late afternoon because we preferred Naomi to have her nap first before we take her pictures so she's not cranky during the photo session. While Naomi was cooperative during our preparation at home before heading to the studio, we came to the studio about 30-45 minutes late. Why oh why, you might ask? Because I spent way too much time standing in front of the mirror fixing my make up. Goodness.

Here's what happened. I wanted to wear faux eye lashes for our photo session because fake eye lashes are proven to dramatize our look on studio photos (by a lot!), especially if we're not blessed with sky-high lashes. But hey, I underestimated the time I required to put falsies on my eyes. For a first timer, half an hour was indeed too little time for experimenting with fake eye lashes without disaster. I had to put on and take off the fake eye lashes 4 times on my right eye alone thus fixing my eye make up all over again for several times. So yes, the whole fake eye lashes application was obviously not an easy feat for me. Thank heavens, my husband who is usually very particular with punctuality was quite lenient on me that day because he knew I was struggling so hard with my eye lashes.

Anyway, once we reached the photo studio, we quickly changed Naomi to her first outfit. To my surprise, Naomi was chirpy as a canary and not shy when she entered the photo studio. She was not afraid of the photographer, who was a total stranger to her.

The first photo that the photographer took was our formal/boring looking family photo. He then mentioned that the three of us could take more family photos in exciting and fun poses later on. This part really sounded like music to my ears and I looked forward to more shoots of me with Naomi, so not to waste my labour in applying +/- 1cm thick make up on my face earlier.

 Take 1: Pretty Naomi.

When the photographer instructed Naomi to look to the camera and smile, Naomi was very accommodating. I was so proud of my little girl for being so photogenic at such a young age!


Naomi loves riding vroom-vroom.

Nevertheless, shortly after we changed Naomi to her second getup, things began to go downhill. Our biggest worry came true. Naomi lost her interest to the whole photo shooting idea and turned into a very rebellious and hyper little girl. She constantly ran around the entire studio area, touched the studio's props here and there, took down all the teddy bears and climbed the chairs/benches she could find inside the studio. She refused to look to the camera and loved to put a big teddy bear in front of her so the photographer could not capture her face nicely.

Mark my words, trying to deliver "picture perfect" moments with a toddler is so difficult to achieve without the stars falling into alignment.

Take 2: Grumpy baby but still looks cute.

We tried to sing, dance and open iPhone apps to distract her but none worked. Halfway through our session, things turned out pretty chaotic until we forgot the lyrics of some kiddie songs we normally sing to Naomi and our voices became hoarse from trying to sing or say random things loudly to get Naomi's attention. Our photographer who was very patient and cheerful in the beginning started to lose his patience bit by bit and I totally felt for that fella.

Accidental shot of Naomi and me.

After many failed attempts in making Naomi look to the camera, my husband nearly gave up and asked the photographer twice if he already managed to snap enough photos to get the 21 pictures quota. My husband even considered cancelling Naomi's third costume but the photographer asked us to persevere and change Naomi to her next outfit. Up to this point, Naomi was still very uncooperative, I was very positive that our plan to take several cute looking family pictures was going to evaporate in the air.

Take 3: Howdy, cowgirl!

In the end, for the last few shots, my husband forced Naomi to take family picture with us once again. Tired and frustrated, both of my husband and I gave our best in showing off our Colgate smiles for our family pictures. Too bad, Naomi was not very happy with this scheme because she already established boredom from the photo session.

Geddit?

Alas, after 1.5 hours running around and posing in the studio, the photographer concluded that he had taken enough shots of us for the day.

The above are some of my favourite pictures recently taken in the studio. Overall, I am happy with the final results because the photographer managed to immortalize my 2 y/o's cuteness despite her being incredibly too busy to smile or hold a nice pose long enough.

OK lah, money worth spent.

** Naomi's headpieces by RibbonMadness.

Making Mini Fruit Tartlets

I had a bag of red grapes in my fridge and after few days, we still could not finish them. Yesterday I was toying with an idea to turn these grapes into some sweet treats. After browsing some recipes in the internet, I decided to use these grapes to make fruit tartlets. To make the fruit topping of the tartlets slightly nicer and more colourful, I bought some kiwi fruits last night.

Here is the recipe that I used to create my mini fruit tartlets with custard filling earlier today. I adapted this recipe from here. I must admit that there are quite a bit of steps involved to make the fruit tartlets but they are actually not that hard to prepare.

My first attempt in making mini fruit tartlets.

Mini Fruit Tartlets with Custard Filling

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
  • 140gr Unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cup Plain flour, sifted
  • Some plain flour for dusting the work surface
For the Custard Filling:
  • 250ml Full cream milk
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 tbs Sugar
  • 1 tbs Flour
  • 1 tbs Corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence
Fruit toppings:
  • 1 Fresh kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
  • 15 Seedless grapes, washed and halved
  • or any other fruits you want
For Glaze  (I skipped this):
  • 1/2 cup Apricot jam or marmalade
  • 1 tbs Hot water

Tutorial:
  1. To make the crust: In a bowl, mix butter, flour, icing sugar and egg with a fork or hand until they become a dough and not so sticky to the bowl.
  2. Sprinkle your work surface with some flour, knead the dough to form a ball and wrap it in a cling film. Refrigerate the dough for about 25-30 minutes. Roll out the dough on a flat surface. Use any sort of circular lid or a small bowl or glass to cut out the flattened dough in circle shapes. This step is optional but it is good to make the tartlet crusts look standardized later on. 
  3. Press each dough circle on prepared mini pie tins or muffin tins. Slightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate the crust dough again for another 20 minutes before baking.
  4. Bake the dough in a preheated oven (160 degree Celcius) for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown. Let the tartlet crusts cool completely before removing them from the tins to avoid breaking the crust.
  5. To make the custard filling: Heat milk in a saucepan until it boils then turn off the fire.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth and frothy. 
  7. Add sifted flour and corn flour into the mixture and whisk again until well combined.
  8. Pour a quarter part of the warm milk into the mixture to temper the egg mixture then whisk again (this way, you won't cook the egg yolk!). Pour the remaining warm milk to the mixture and stir constantly.
  9. Place the custard mixture into a saucepan and heat over low fire while whisking constantly. Stir until the custard mixture thickens. Turn off the fire and let the custard cool completely before placing them on the tartlet crusts.
  10. To make the glaze: Mix jam and hot water. Sieve and set aside. Discard any bits. I skipped this step because I didn't have any apricot jam nor marmalade at home. 
  11. To assemble: Prepare cooled tart crusts. Lightly brush the bottom of the crusts and sides of the tart crusts with glaze. Fill the tart crusts with custard mixture until full and decorate the top with fresh fruit slices. Brush the fruits and custard again with the glaze.
** The above recipe makes about 30 mini fruit tartlets.

Perfect for a hot day.

Aren't these fresh fruit tartlets so cute? Little kids would definitely love them because they look pretty attractive; but I bet some of them would only eat the fruit toppings and leave the crust for Mommy and Daddy because Naomi does this to me.

BTW, I had some guests coming to my house the morning after I baked these fruit tartlets. I served some of these bite-sized fruit tartlets on a plate. Naomi came over to the living room and she kept on trying to reach for these tartlets on the coffee table. I tried hard to make her go away from the tartlets I meant to give for my guests. Naomi didn't want to hear my warnings and both her Nanny and I failed to make her stop touching the guests' fruit tartlets. When I was talking to my guests, Naomi ate all of the fruit toppings of the tartlets and in the end, the ladies could not eat any of my fruit tartlets. I was mortified.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Naomi's Second Birthday

Naomi turned two yesterday (yippee!). For her second birthday, my husband and I didn't plan any birthday party nor elaborated birthday celebration for Naomi. Instead, we opted to celebrate it in really simple ways (read: do the candle blowing and birthday cake cutting traditions) with close friends and core family members.

On Naomi's actual second birthday itself, my husband and his buddies happened to organize a mini potluck at his friend's new house so we sort of celebrated Naomi birthday there. Yesterday's birthday cake was contributed by my husband's friend because my husband wanted to bring satays for the pot-luck.

When Naomi saw the colourful Happy Birthday letter candles on the cake, she immediately thought of her ABCs songs. She took all the candles out of the cake and put them back again and again as if she just received brand new alphabet toys. As a result, Naomi's created so many holes on the birthday cake even before we had the chance to take photos with it.

As Naomi was too engrossed playing with the birthday cake and the candles, our attempts to take proper family pictures with Naomi's birthday cake flopped miserably. In fact, all the photos we took at last night's gathering were all blurry except the below.

The birthday celebration/housewarming/potluck.

Naomi had her second birthday celebration with family at MIL's house this afternoon. I chose a Disney's Cinderella-themed birthday cake for Naomi this year. Originally, I wanted a Tinker Bell birthday cake for Naomi but the bakery only had Cinderella's edible icing sheets for little girl's birthday cakes. Bummer or what. Seremban is always a bit behind when it comes to fancy customized birthday cakes. Fortunately, Cinderella is not alien to Naomi so somehow I think this Cinderella birthday cake was relevant to her.

Naomi's second birthday cake.

Naomi's peer cousins today were quite excited with the birthday celebration happening in the house but unfortunately, the birthday girl could not be bothered much. When Naomi's cousin came over to Naomi, said "Happy Birthday" and shook her hand, Naomi's reaction to him was as flat as a pancake. She looked at him blankly, didn't know how to respond but to shake his hand back with a bewildered expression. Naomi's toddler cousins were clearly 10,000x more interested on the birthday cake and the whole birthday celebration idea than the birthday girl herself.

The guy on the right was more excited with the birthday than the girl on the left.

By the time everyone sang "Happy Birthday to You" to Naomi, she realized she suddenly became everyone's centre of attention, got very shy, hid her face then ran away.

Naomi, her birthday cake and new bag from her cousins.

Again, today's birthday pictures taken were not so nice and mostly blurry. All the kids, especially the toddlers, could not stay still when I asked them to pose nicely with the birthday cake. There was at least one kid moving in the group photos I took today. I guess this year we're simply not destined to have very nice pictures of Naomi's second birthday.

*Pufffttt!*

"Happy Birthday, Naomi! Here wishing you a Terrific Two ahead. 
 Stay healthy, bubbly, funny, happy, sweet, my cutie wootie patootie!
And oh, hope your speech begin to soar very soon too."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Making Easy Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

A couple days ago, I was craving fresh-from-the-oven vanilla cupcakes with some chocolate chips or bites inside. Since the easiest way for me to get them was by making them myself, yesterday I spared about an hour of time to quickly bake these cupcakes when Naomi was watching her ABC songs.

I found a really easy cupcake recipe using very simple ingredients that I could memorize off the top of my head. I didn't have to jot down the recipe nor bring my smart phone to the kitchen because the ingredients needed and steps for making these cupcakes were so easy to remember.

When I noticed that the cupcakes batter from one recipe was not that much, I decided to use smaller cupcakes moulds. Small cupcakes are so cute and they are perfect for tea parties. Little kids would definitely love them too.

Some little cakes, anyone?

Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 100gr Unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
  • 100gr Caster sugar
  • 100gr Cake flour, sifted
  • 100gr Chocolate chips/chopped cooking chocolate
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Tutorial:
  1. Beat butter/margarine and sugar using high-speed electric mixer until it is soft, creamy and pale.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the eggs to the batter, one by one, and keep mixing until the cupcake mix is fully incorporated.
  4. Using spatula, fold in flour to the batter until everything is smooth.
  5. Add the chocolate chips to the cupcake batter.
  6. Spoon the cupcake batter to the cupcake moulds that are already lined with cupcake cases.
  7. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven (170 degree Celcius) for about 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden brown.

I was too lazy to make cupcake butter cream frosting so I simply topped my mini cupcakes with some double-boiled chocolate frosting and colourful sprinkles. 

This is how I did my quick fix of cupcakes with chocolate kicks inside out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Toddler Busy Bag: Making Colour Matching Popsicles

Recently I stumbled upon some online articles on toddler busy bags and because of this, I was prompted to ask Google, "What the heck is Toddler Busy Bag?"

Google told me that a toddler busy bag is basically a simple child-friendly ready-to-go activity that fits inside a little bag/zip lock/small box. This bag is supposed to be pulled out at any time to keep our toddler/preschooler busy or quiet, say when he/she is in the car, at the restaurants, at the clinic's waiting room, etc. Usually Mommies would make their toddler busy bags on their own so in essence, these kid activities are like Mommy's DIY crafts using very simple and not expensive materials. One mommy blogger even mentioned that making busy bags for kids is so addictive. Heh. I wondered how addictive this going to be so yesterday I gave this busy bag a try.

For my first busy bag, inspired by this Mom, I made a very easy felt craft that is meant to be a game for Naomi to match colours. Crafting had never been my forte since I was young and I had never been so fond of sewing either. Yet, since my curiosity on creating my first busy bag already blanketed me from head to toe, I did the DIY craft that involved needle and thread anyway.

After a couple of hours of cutting, sewing and gluing plus several missed attempts in putting the thread into the needle's eye (why the hole has to be that minuscule?), one needle prick and three teeny weeny drops of blood (from the needle prick) later, I proudly present you the result of my first busy bag for Naomi.

Ta-da!

DIY Felt Popsicles.


DIY Colour Matching Felt Popsicles

Materials:
  • Assorted colour of felts or DIY clothes
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Threads
  • A needle
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Paper

The materials you need to make this craft.

Tutorial:
  1. Draw a pocket or popsicle shape in a piece of paper and cut it. Use this as a base model in cutting the felts later so the felt popsicles will look uniformed. This step is optional though. 
  2. Cut out two pieces of felt (of the same colour) into a pocket or popsicle shape. Mine is about 9cm x 7cm.
  3. Sew them together but leave the bottom part opened for inserting the sticks.
  4. Cut a little bit of felt and paste it in the popsicle stick. One color for one popsicle stick.
  5. Do the same for the other colours of felt.

I pasted colorful pom-poms on the sticks and they look cute.

Once all the felt popsicles are put in a small plastic bag or pouch, they are good to entertain Naomi on-the-go.

Stack them together and pop them in a small bag.

Here's Naomi testing her busy bag for the first time.

How to play this, Mom?

After about 5-10 minutes trying to get the hang of inserting those sticks into the felt popsciles, Naomi was finally able match the colour of the felt in the sticks to the right colour of the felt popsicles.

OK, got it.

As my effort to move Naomi away from playing with tablet or smart phone, I am happy to see that this busy bag activity indeed works well in distracting Naomi and keeping her busy for a while.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Naomi Comic Issue #9: Let Me Sniff You

I can't remember the last time I took selfie with Naomi; hence, I took some today. Most of the selfie poses happened to be me sniffing Naomi's hair because erm, her hair smells so good to me.

Is it normal for a Mom to think that her kid has the most amazing smell ever, even though he/she has been sweating and hadn't had a hair wash since yesterday? LOL.

Here you go, pictures of me sniffing Naomi until she got very irritated and literally ran away from me.
Issue #9: I love her smell best.

Speaking of Naomi, these days she has been a really cute yet annoying little girl at the same time.

For examples, Naomi is so adorable when she plays house with her stuffed toys of all sizes and characters. She's the big Momma here and some of her selected toys are her babies. Naomi lines her babies on the bed, sleeps next to them and asks me to cover her and her babies with my blanket.

Cute Mama lulling her babies to sleep.

What makes me chuckle most is the occasions when Naomi would run to me with her monkey stuffed toy and a cloth napkin. At first, it took me a long time to understand what Naomi wanted me to do with those two when she handed them to me and ordered me to do something with them in her baby language. Ultimately, my motherly instinct aided me in deciphering my daughter's baby language that is somewhat mysterious to human history. And oh, apparently Naomi wanted me to swaddle her monkey stuffed toy with her cloth napkin like a real baby.

On the annoying part, nowadays, Naomi loves to throw things around when she is not happy or her whatever wish is not granted. She'd unload her toy basket and throw all toys inside it across the room. She'd empty her coloured pencils pouch and throw all the pencils all over the room. She'd open her puzzle box and throw the contents out. I can only imagine a mini king kong on rampage when Naomi does this. Most of the time, she refuses to tidy her scattered toys up too.

This is just a small part of the room with Naomi's scattered toys. 

Frankly, sometimes it is quite maddening to tidy Naomi's messy toys, puzzle pieces or pencils all over the room back to where they belong several times in a day, especially when I need to sweep the room. It's not funny either when I accidentally step on these toys when I need to go to the toilet at night. Alas, when my husband and I get really angry and tired with this attitude, we have no choice but confiscating some of her favourite toys and coloured pencils for few hours or days.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6 Life Lessons My Son Taught Me

Just days after Baby Dylan's passing, I unsubscribed the pregnancy email newsletters from a couple of well-known online pregnancy information websites because I obviously don't need to get such emails for the time being. I forgot, however, to unsubsribe the weekly notifications from the pregnancy apps in my phone. Yesterday morning my heart ached a little when I received "My Baby This Week" update in my phone, realizing that my baby boy would have been 33 weeks old this week had he been alive.

Sweet memory: My second pregnancy bumps.

Up to this second, I am still bereft of this private tragedy and grief still envelopes me. Nevertheless, I think this is normal considering that my 'wound' is relatively new.

As per some good friends' suggestions, instead of going too deep in this grieving process, probably it is a good idea for me to look on the brighter side of this agonizing experience. For instance, rather than constantly revisiting the pains of losing my baby son, I could see the positive sides of all this by cherishing the good memories I had with Dylan, even though it was only 7 months short.

Having said this, I am listing some of the personal life lessons that my son had taught me throughout this ordeal.

1. Life is so unpredictable.

I had a text-book pregnancy with Dylan. Both Dylan and I were all along deemed healthy. Despite experiencing some minor pregnancy discomforts, I had no morning sickness, vomiting, crazy cravings or horrible mood swings throughout my second pregnancy. Compared to my first pregnancy, I felt that my second pregnancy was much easier and enjoyable. 

When some friends shared with me that their current pregnancies were on the high-risk side, I was so confident, or perhaps, over-confident that mine was going to be just fine. Who knew that life can throw us the unexpected? My so-called problem-free second pregnancy was terminated 10 weeks before my due date because my unborn baby's heart had stopped beating. Instead, those friends of mine with high-risk pregnancy ended holding healthy babies in their arms. 

I underestimated the possibility that anything can happen even on a completely normal or healthy pregnancy. In this respect, I failed do proper baby movement counts on daily basis in my last tri-semester.

Life sometimes just doesn't go as we planned it.

2. You will know what to do when the time comes.

Going into labour is a scary prospect for every expecting mother. Speaking of giving birth methods, I always dreaded (1) Being medically induced as it may be more painful than bearing contraction pains that come naturally (2) Drug-free vaginal birth because it's literally slow torture for the woman and I cannot imagine episiotomy sans anaesthesia (3) C-section because I am really scared with the idea of having my abdomen and uterus being cut open for the baby delivery. 

The moment my gynae broke the distressing news that I'd unfortunately lost Baby Dylan and had to deliver him soon by being medically induced for the vaginal birth, I was worried sick. Vaginal birth, in times like this, sounded to be the cruellest thing imaginable. Then, C-section was more like a Plan B and would only be carried out in the event of failed induction. Either way, both Plan A and Plan B here were nerve-racking for me who was not ready for baby delivery at all.

I was given less than 24 hours to organize my thoughts at home and come back to the hospital for Dylan's delivery in the next morning. In those hours, I had panic attacks three times as well as troubled sleeping and eating. In essence, I was incredibly fearful and anxious about the imminent 'forced' baby delivery. That day, I guess I spent more time worrying about the forthcoming labour instead of crying/mourning over the loss of my second baby. 

When the time to give birth to Dylan finally came, I was able to set my mind and made a decision about his delivery. In the end, the suggested induced labour went well and in my disbelief, I pulled through a natural birth without epidural. I had a considerably smooth baby delivery.

Although worrying is at times inevitable, the way I see it now, it's probably wise not to excessively think or worry over something as when the time comes, we will eventually know what to do.

3. Strangers could be angels in disguise.

When I had to arrange Dylan's burial as soon as he was delivered, I sought help from the Reverend of a church here. I went to this church several times about two years ago but had not gone there again since I had Naomi. I've seen this Reverend few times during the Sunday Service but didn't know him personally. To my surprise, this Reverend did not mind helping me to send Dylan off to his final rest though I am not part of this church congregation for almost two years. Further, he and his wife spared time to visit my husband and me in the hospital to counsel us after my son was born. His wife gave me a hug too.

Another person from the church, whom my husband and I never met, assisted my husband liaising with the undertaker in such short notice for Dylan's burial. At the cemetery, the Reverend also invited a lady who had experience in journeying along with another woman who had stillbirth. This lady was the one who encouraged me to get out of the car and witness Dylan's burial so it'd serve me a better closure. Moving forward, she emailed, sent text messages and called me to find out how I was doing and offer comforts during this difficult time. 

Not forgetting to mention my blog readers, whom I personally don't know, showered me with heartfelt condolence messages and kind words to cope with Dylan's loss. Some of them even emailed me personally. (Thank you!).

It's quite weird to see how sometimes total strangers genuinely provide us with some supports and comforts, isn't it? And they actually make our day a little better by doing such.

4. Patience is mother of all virtues.

When the whole mind-numbing incidents happened, the only advice that my Dad and BFF told me again and again was, "Be patient."

Tough times don't last, tough people do.

They were right. I was even able to go through those excruciating labour pains without epidural by just being very patient for hours.

5. What is meant to be is meant to be.

In spite of the fact that my Mom was very saddened with Dylan's passing, she did comfort me a lot by saying that Dylan is just not fated to be with me in this life and Father in Heaven wanted him back. 

Naomi's Nanny, who lost a son many years ago, also pointed that when a child had to leave, let him leave (他要走,给他走). 

It seems that everyone who is in our life is meant to be a part of our journey but not all of them are meant to stay.

6. Value presence. 

I guess my son wanted to teach me to appreciate what I have, instead of focusing what I've lost. I have to be grateful that I still have my cheeky and cute Naomi by my side. Her well-being and happiness are my utmost priorities now and to achieve these she needs a healthy and happy mother. Also, I still have my husband and parents who need me. Albeit I am emotionally ruined and heartbroken with this loss, being strong alone is not sufficient to endure this hellish situation. I need to be realistic and rational. I cannot go down otherwise other people, in this case, Naomi, my husband and parents will get the implications too. 

Other than the above Dylan's legacy for me, I absolutely cherish the easy pregnancy and epidural-free natural childbirth experiences that Dylan gave me. These are certainly two intimate beautiful memories that my son and I forever share. 

I will probably never forget Dylan nor be entirely free from the pain of losing him but I will be okay. Like my husband said, Baby Dylan is physically not with me now but he lives in my heart and mind.

P/S: I think I am making a real progress here because I didn't shed any tear when writing this post. Previously, I always cried every time I wrote something about Dylan.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Checking Out Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm

We just had a long weekend here in Malaysia and my husband and I decided to go for sightseeing during the long weekend. I know I supposedly still need to observe my confinement period but opted not to be cooped up at home for the whole month due to many reasons. I thought it would be nice for both of my husband and I to take a breather from what happened in the past few weeks. Also, we reckoned Naomi would enjoy the short day trip with Mom and Dad.

Since I didn't feel like going to a place too far from where we live and was not in the mood to do any shopping spree in the malls either, I proposed to my husband to check out the Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm. I read somewhere in the internet that Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm is dubbed as the biggest strawberry farm in Malaysia and other than the strawberry farm itself, it actually houses lavender farm, mushroom farm, etc. so it sounded to be a very interesting spot to visit. My husband agreed to my idea because he himself had never been to this place before and off we went to this farm on last Sunday morning.

In the beginning, I was so excited and very much looked forward to this day trip. However, I happened to have a very bad throat infection and did not sleep well the night before our scheduled trip. Therefore, by the time we reached Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm on Sunday afternoon, I was feverish and kinda drowsy from the medicine I took earlier that day. Moreover, my sore throat was literally killing me the whole time. It's just a shame that I could not really enjoy the trip as planned.

Anyway, the entry to Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm is free and shortly after visitors enter the premise, we're greeted by rows and rows of strawberry plants. After getting a plastic basket from the counter, visitors can pluck the fresh strawberries straight from the plants for RM 8 per 100gr.


Naomi and Daddy at the Strawberry Farm.

Visitors are not allowed to eat the fresh strawberries as they pluck them from the plants though. As my husband and I were very well aware that this part would be extremely challenging for Naomi, who loves eating strawberries, to resist; we both decided to take a rain check on the strawberry plucking experience for Naomi. On top of that, we honestly think that the price for plucking the fresh strawberries was really on the high side as compared to the store bought ones.

Warning!

Lovely to see but I bet they are quite sour to eat.

Seeing other kids were happily running around in the farm, Naomi was not eager to sit quietly in her stroller anymore and immediately roamed around the whole place like a free bird.

Catch me if you can.

Not long after checking out the strawberry farm, my husband followed Naomi who had seemingly found her way up to the Lavender Farm real fast. I would love to check the lavender farm as well, but I had a stroller and an industrial size diaper bag with me and noticed that I had to climb a flight of stairs to get to the lavender farm from the strawberry farm area. My husband was already in the lavender farm following Naomi running around in the garden and I was left down there in the strawberry farm area with all the heavy belongings that I could not carry upstairs all by myself. So there you go, after going all the way to Genting, I didn't get the chance to witness the lavender farm first hand together with Naomi and my husband. All I did was grumpily find a seat for myself near the strawberry farm while watching over Naomi's belongings and waiting for Naomi and my husband to come back.

The beautiful lavenders photo my husband took.

While it seemed that Naomi was having so much fun in the lavender farm, my husband came back with a not so happy face because he said the lavender farm was actually not that big and the lavenders didn't fully bloom yet. Further, he said Naomi was very hyper in the lavender farm that she circled the whole flower farm three times. In the end, I scrapped my plan to see the lavender farm on my own, let alone take some selfies showcasing my hideous puffy eyes next to the pretty flowers (no, thanks!). It's okay, I'll see you some other time, beautiful purple flowers with wonderful scent!

Here are some pictures of gleeful Naomi in the lavender farm. She was one delighted little girl surrounded by the colourful flowers, wasn't she?

What's that on the right? 

My little girl.

 Lucky girl with the lavenders.

I myself had never been this close to real lavenders like Naomi did.

Don't pluck the flowers, girl!

Done with the lavender farm, the three of us went on to view the other parts of the Leisure Farm. The next place we went to was the Strawberry Farmhouse Cafe. I was quite hungry by then and asked my husband to order some Strawberry Waffles for me.

 Bon appetit.

For RM 4.50 per portion, their freshly made Strawberry Waffles were surprisingly not bad. If I ever come to this place again in the near future, I'd like to try their Strawberry Tea for sure.

Naomi testing the strawberry waffles.

Next, we continued our journey to check the Mushroom Farm but didn't snap any photo there because the mushroom growing facility was quite dark. We also walked past the souvenir shops and other street shops before we exited the Leisure Farm. Nevertheless, we didn't buy any souvenirs because the stuff they sold there were very similar to those sold in Cameron Highlands and we already have some.

Naomi and I just before we said good-bye to the Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm.

Albeit I failed miserably to enjoy this place to the max, thanks to my irritating sore throat and mild fever, I was very pleased to see my little girl having a really good time at Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm, particularly the Lavender Farm.

In conclusion, I think this concept farm is quite nice for a short visit with kids because they would definitely enjoy the new environment, fresh air and the beautiful scenery this farm has to offer.

Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm
Address: No. 1, Lot 3707, Jalan Jati 2, Bandar Gohtong Jaya, Genting Highlands, 69000, Genting Highlands, Pahang