Thursday, June 28, 2012

Indoor and Outdoor Fun

My previous post touched on how I discovered about the magical three hours a toddler needs daily, in the form of physical activities. This post is mainly about the activities I do with Blake on a regular basis, adding new activities along the way when I discover them.

Indoor Activities

Some of the activities Blake and I enjoy doing are playing hide and seek (he will hide, and I will seek), allowing him to climb up and down furniture, dancing to some of my favourite tunes, and running around the house playing catching.

But our favourite activity of all time has got to be water play! Be it a bubble bath, or just water on its own, it’s a sure hit for both Blake and me J

We bought a mini pool from Toys’R’Us, and some bath toys to make water play at home fun! The mini pool is super awesome for use on rainy days. Blake can have water play, rain or shine! Whenever we have water play, or bubble baths, I will bring in my ipod and speakers to up the level of fun with all the songs I can sing along to. Hehe.


Every once in a while, I will also like to pick Blake up and put him on the sofa and start tickling him. Making him laugh wastes energy, and it’s super fun too! Haha.

Outdoor Activities

When it comes to outdoor play for Blake, sky’s the limit!

What we do on a regular basis is to bring him out without a stroller, and make him walk most of the way on his own. Not only will Blake be able to get all the walking and exercise he needs, we also have one less big bulky item to bring out! We take public transport (especially the bus) everywhere we go, so this was a HUGE load off our back J On top of that, we don’t have to rely, and squeeze with people in the elevators to get from one level to another! Total freedom for all of us!

There is just one tiny problem… If Blake is too tired to walk, he will want to be carried, and might fall asleep. If this happens, I’ll have to carry him everywhere I want to go! And at almost 12kg in weight, that’s quite a load! Luckily, we still bring the baby carrier (we’re using Babybjorn Synergy, by the way) so there is some comfort there.

Another one of our favourite outdoor activities to do is swimming! I try to bring Blake to the swimming pool at least once a week. He started out being really afraid of huge water bodies (read all about it here). It took me months, after we stopped going for about a year, to get him to fall in love with swimming pools! And now, whenever he sees a big body of water, he will want to jump into it!

Evidently in love with water, Blake wanted to join the pink dolphins at the Dolphin Lagoon Sentosa for a swim.

Another huge hit for Blake are playgrounds, be it dry or wet. As long as he sees one, he will want to go and have some fun in it. Thankfully, most of the time, I’m able to pull Blake away from playgrounds when we are in a rush to get from one place to another. I do try my best to let him play whenever possible though.

And then there are days where the weather is awesome – cloudy with good winds. These days are great for times to stroll in the park, where Blake will have an endless road to run on! Parks are not something we do pretty often, even though we stay just opposite one. Haha.  We got Blake a tricycle to ride with when we go to the park, but he seems only keen to sit on it at home, and not out. I wonder why! I think I’ll try the tricycle again when we’re bored, and out of ideas to drain his energy. Hehe.

The last on our outdoor activities list (for now) is bubble play!

Blake loves to chase the bubbles, and would go crazy laughing when we start spraying/blowing the bubbles. So much so that the entire ground level will have his laughter ringing throughout!

So these are all the activities I have been doing with Blake for the past few months, only going at it more actively in the last 2 weeks or so, after I read the article.

I even did a test the other day, by not giving Blake at least 3 hours of activities. By evening time, he was cranky and grouchy, refused to eat during dinner, and kept throwing tantrums! The following day, I packed his schedule with non-stop activities, stopping for a nap and meals, and he was very cooperative! I truly, truly am a believer in the three magical hours. Do try it to see if it works on your child!

P.S. Do take note though, if you’re going to the swimming pools or wet playground, do invest in swimmers’ diapers.

P.P.S. all these activities done with Blake also means less time for him to be with his pacifier! I’m sure he will wean off of it soon, on his own! J

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Magical Three Hours

There comes a time when we parents notice some behavioral changes in our young ones. As early as a few months old, some of us would have noticed that our babies have began to learn how to throw a tantrum or two.

Blake started showing signs of throwing tantrums a little before 12 months old. It started with really crazy cries, when he does not get what he wants. Over time, it progressed from crying, to throwing of things, and to all out kicking and punching.

There was even a period where he will slam himself backwards onto the floor, and hurt his head in the process, making him cry even harder. Once he knew that by doing that, he will feel pain, he started to lower himself slowly to the floor when he is throwing tantrums. It was a funny sight, in an extremely frustrating moment.

Being a first time parent, I was at a complete lost as to what I should do when Blake throws tantrums.

Initially, it got me really worked up, and I’ll completely lose it. I would shout at him, and beat his diaper-padded buttocks. I admit. I am pretty short tempered. Whenever this happens, if Sean’s around, he would deal with the situation for me, while I went elsewhere to cool off. If he’s at work, he would either message, or call to comfort me.

After a few months of this crazy tantrum cycle, I knew something must be done immediately to stop this vicious cycle. I went to research on how to deal with tantrum throwing toddlers.

Some experts suggested reasoning with them. I tried, and it did not work. I’m guessing your toddler needs to be able to communicate with you verbally for that to work.

Some suggested the ignore method, which I use personally, but it’s quite a long and noisy process because you will have to let your toddler cry till they know they are not getting any attention from you. And, it’s probably not the best method when you’re out in public places.

Other suggestions included the naughty corner, and reward system. The former would be good, if Blake knew what was going on, and knows how to sit still in a corner. The latter was not something I was very keen on because every time I think of rewards, I was thinking of the need to buy toys and whatnots. After further research, I realize that a simple hug, or a kiss, or anything fun is also a good reward for a toddler! But just the reward system alone was not enough. Something else was needed to help reduce it further.

Then, I came across this article. It has nothing to do with dealing with tantrum throwing toddlers, but trust me; the answer is in the article.

This article was posted by The Asian Parent a while back. It said that toddlers between 1 – 4 years old need an average of three hours physical activities daily in order to develop positively, physically.

I showed Sean the article, and we decided to do as advised. What harm could it possibly do? It’s always good to have physical activities, and to get a head start in leading a healthy lifestyle. It might also motivate me to return to my own exercise routine, and this time, I will have a little partner along with me! J

So for the past week, we did physical activities with Blake whenever we could, clocking 3 hours or a little more. It also helped that he went to school for most parts of the day, where they do quite a lot of physical activities too (and help with some disciplining) – this was also included in the 3 hours.

Then we begun to notice changes in our little boy – less tantrums were thrown, more laughing and sitting still, he even started going to bed on time! His appetite became much better too! It really is quite amazing to see this change. It was definitely not something we expected! We are guessing that by wasting his energy on all these activities, he does not have the energy to throw tantrums. It also puts him in a happier mood too.

Before anyone thinks this method gets rid of tantrums completely, well, it does not. Blake still throws a little tantrum here and there, especially when he wants to attempt something rather dangerous during the physical activities, and we forbade him. But he recovers very quickly from it when we get him to move onto another physical activity!

Getting enough exercise and play really puts all of us in a better mood! J

Not sure what kind of activities to do with your toddler? Look out for my next post. I will share all the indoor and outdoor activities I do with Blake.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blake's Swim (Video)

17 April 2011: This was taken either at the second or third swimming session. Blake was a very brave boy! Still is, and forever will be :D

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blake's First Swim

When Blake was about 6 months old, we thought of bringing him to the swimming pool to teach him how to hold his breath underwater. I think that sort of caused his phobia for swimming pools. We did it 2-3 times, over a few weeks, and not once did he enjoy the experience. I can understand why, after all, we dipped him into the water, and no matter what time we go, the water's always cold (to me, at least).

He was already struggling when we tried to change him into his swim suit. He cried, and we tried many methods to pacify him. The only thing that worked? His pacifier.

After he calmed down, we proceeded to the children's pool.

I'm not sure if it's the water temperature, or being in a different environment, or the screaming children around, or all of the above, but the minute Sean went into the pool with him, he started crying. It got worse when we dipped him in!

But nevertheless, our brave boy didn't struggle and held his breath underwater, and emerged with a loud 'roar'!

Friday, June 22, 2012

One Week Later

**long post ahead!

It’s been a week since Blake started school, and so much has been happening! The progress my big boy is making in school, me getting a kick start back at working on my random projects, having more me-time and couple time with hubs – just to name a few.

So here’s a quick one week report of how things have gone so far. Not many pictures as I have not been able to capture any shots of Blake in school.

Read the full details of the first day of school here and here J

18 June 2012: After returning from the weekend break, it was Blake’s second day of school! The day started out pretty much the same as the first day of school. Only difference is, Sean joined us J

Blake cried the moment he got out of my dad’s car. When my dad drove off, he attempted to run after it, which Sean and I found rather hilarious. Sean then carried him into the school, and handed him over to his teacher, 蒙老师 (Ms Meng). We left shortly after.

After their lunchtime, I sent a text message to 蒙老师, to check on Blake’s progress, and to seek her advice as to when to pick Blake up. According to 蒙老师, Blake did not cry as loudly and as long as the first day; It was still on and off crying though. He also did not eat much for lunch, but when they gave him Honey Stars cereal, he ate away happily. That was what the children had for breakfast, by the way. Haha. Next thing I know, Blake had fallen asleep during nap time. 蒙老师 actually patted him to sleep. Such patience! I don’t even do that with Blake anymore!

When we picked Blake up, after their tea time, he looked really dazed. It was as though he went through some time-warping machine, but it took him less than half an hour to be back to his normal self again! We rewarded him for job well done in school with some playtime at the swimming pool!

19 June 2012: Blake did better than on the second day (which was better than the first!).

He did not eat much for lunch, although he did eat whatever snacks I packed for him. I was truly shock when I opened his bag, and realized that the snacks (except one) were gone! He was also more active, and went running around the classroom and hall after his afternoon nap, while others were still sleeping. Haha. 蒙老师 had to accompany him and play with him during this period. I can only imagine how tedious that must be!

When I went to pick him up, I stood at the door to his classroom, with his back to me. He was busy playing with a toy, the only child with a toy, might I add. His teachers called out to him, and I called out to him, but there was no response from him at all. Then his classmates went, “Blake, your mommy is here!” on and on and on, and finally, Blake turned around to see what the commotion was about. The moment our eyes met, Blake looked like he was about to burst out crying. He got off his seat, and ran towards me. It was a very ‘awwww’ moment.

Rewarded him with a bubble bath that day! :D

20 June 2012: The fourth day saw much improvement in the crying department.

Half an hour after I left the school, 蒙老师 sent me a text message to say that Blake has stopped crying! Huge improvement! During their naptime, she sent me another message to inform me of what Blake had eaten for lunch – sandwiches (about the same amount as all the other children. Blake’s the youngest in the whole school, by the way), and a whole banana! He did not take the fried egg, as it is not exactly one of his favourite things to eat. I’m guessing cos it’s pretty tasteless on its own. Hehe.

When I went to pick him up, I took a peek through his classroom’s window. This boy of mine was holding a Lego brick in each hand, going around the classroom trying to fit the pieces into the Lego pieces in front of his classmates. Everyone else was seated. Again, the teachers called out to him, to inform him of my presence, but he made no response. His classmates then joined in to make the announcement. In the end, one of the teaching assistants had to carry him out so that he can see me clearly. Haha. Looks like he’s beginning to enjoy school a lot!

Rewarded Blake with water play after school!

21 June 2012: The fifth day had quite a hilarious start for us adults. The moment my dad turned into the small road to Blake’s preschool, Blake started crying. He cried really terribly, and my dad asked, “Wow, you decided to just cry earlier?”

When we reached and got off the car, my dad and younger sister said 'goodbye' to him, and through his loud crying, Blake waved and said, 'bye' twice. This made everyone laugh really hard.

We entered the school gates, and 蒙老师 came out to receive us. Blake immediately leaned towards 蒙老师, and tried to reach for me after she was carrying him. It looks like some kind of standard procedure for him to react the way he did. While 蒙老师 was taking his temperature, I said ‘bye’ to Blake, and again, amidst his crying, he raised his hands, waved and said, 'bye' to me twice. This had me burst out laughing again. 蒙老师 could not contain her laughter too, and laughed till her face went red. Haha. This boy of mine! Too cute for words sometimes.

蒙老师 sent me a text message a little later to let me know that Blake only cried for a very short while after I left, which was an improvement. Yay! She also said Blake is very smart! Double Yay!

蒙老师 left a note in the parent-teacher communication book, saying that she’s very happy that the time Blake spent on crying was much shorter than the day before. It’s such a great feeling to know that your child’s teacher is as happy as me, the mother, about Blake’s improvement in adjusting to the school!

Went to pick Blake up from school, and he got really excited when he saw me through the window. Hehe. He rushed out, dragging the assisting teacher behind him. When he reached my arms, the assisting teacher told me in Chinese, “Must hold his hands! He’s very active! He will run and climb everywhere! That’s good!” Oh boy! Haha! Needless to say, we rewarded Blake with some fun at the swimming pool!

Seeing how Blake is adjusting better to preschool day by day, and how he enjoys going to school (even though he still cries when I drop him off), I feel really happy! Looks like grooming him to be an independent boy paid off :D

* * *

P.S. Regarding today, most of Blake's schoolmates went to visit the old folk's home. He's too young to be going, so he had a whole day of play with the other students who did not go as well. Sadly, he developed fever suddenly, and I had to quickly finish up my errands (had a meeting to attend, and my camera to collect from the care center), and rushed down to pick him up. Thankfully, Blake's fever subsided, and he's now napping to recuperate. Hopefully, the fever will be all gone by tonight! *fingers crossed*

UPDATE: Took Blake's temperature after he fell asleep, and it was 36.1°C. Took his temperature again this morning before breakfast, and it was 36°C. Blake's fever is completely gone! :D

P.P.S. for those who didn't know, I'm currently in my second trimester with baby number 2 :) Hence, the bulge in the belly area in some of the photos. Hehe :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mini Post #1

23 February 2011: Tummy time as a family! ♥

4 April 2011: Good morning, Sunshine! :D

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blake's First Day of School - Officially a Student!

The earlier post ended with us reaching his preschool. Read all about it here.

*wordy post ahead as I was not able to take photos during the time I spent in the school.

After saying our thank you and goodbye to my dad, we entered the school gates. A lot of children were already there having their breakfast and morning exercise.

Blake clamped up the moment two teachers came out to receive us. He refused to let them take his temperature, or even look at them! One of the teachers helped remove his shoes, and I carried him in. We went into his class, where most were having their breakfast.

His Chinese teacher, 蒙老师 (Ms Meng), told me to pass him to her so as to help ease the transition of joining the school. She carried him, spoke to him, and basically pawed over him like a loving mother would to her own child. It made me feel safe, knowing I chose the right school for my son.

She noticed that Blake was about to start crying any time, and tried to distract him with toys in the classroom. I told her to use the pacifier in his bag when necessary, as it was the only comfort item I brought along. When he rejected one toy after another, she continued to take more to distract him with. She never stopped trying. Eventually, Blake could not hold back any further. He burst out crying really loudly, but 蒙老师 did not flinch. She immediately tried to calm him down. No, she did not attempt to shake my boy at all to calm him down. All efforts were futile because Blake really wanted me to carry him. I went to take the pacifier out, and gave it to him. That calmed him down quite a bit, and I thought I could go settle all the paperwork during this period. Alas, the moment I stepped out of the classroom, Blake burst out crying again.

Even after I got into the Principal's office, I could still hear Blake crying loudly. At one point, I asked if Blake caused another child to cry (for some reason, some children will cry when another cries), cos it sounded like there were two children crying. And the reply I got, "Erm, no. It's just Blake crying." Oh my! That's some loud crying my boy was making!

I quickly got the paperwork done, had them check and make sure I could make my way out without Blake noticing me. I sneaked a peek at where he was (he couldn't see me), and was relieved to know that he has stopped crying. They had assigned another teacher to take care of him (one-to-one), while the rest continued with their normal lessons. I then left to run some errands, while being on standby to bring Blake home.

About an hour later, the school called, and the teacher (sorry, haven't gotten all their names!) told me that water play was cancelled due to an activity that had to be done! I was so shocked, cos I have been telling Blake that there will be water to play with at his school, on the first day! But she quickly told me that they have filled the outdoor pool with some water for Blake to play with, and though hesitant at first (he was wondering why he was the only one playing), he soon became very happy, and even attempted to go swimming in his school uniform. She then told me that I could leave Blake there till at least lunch time.

For the next hour or so, I received no phone calls, so I called to check instead. The teacher who picked up my call told me that from the time he played with water till shower time, Blake did not cry at all, and he had half a bowl of chicken rice for lunch! :D

The crying cycle started again when they showered for him, but they said the cries were much softer now. They then said to try to push the pick-up time till after nap time.

During this period, I went home to rest and have my lunch. On my way back, I received an sms from 蒙老师.

She told me Blake fell asleep immediately, so I have nothing to worry. About an hour later, she messaged me again, and said that I should pick him up after nap time. She was afraid that if we push our luck further, Blake might dislike attending school. So I quickly had my lunch, took a short rest, and headed down to the school to pick my boy up!

When I got to the school, most of the children had already woken up, and I heard no crying! When I walked in, Blake heard my voice, got up from his seat, and ran towards me to hug me. Very rare! He usually teases me, and would turn away without hugging me. Chasing behind him was the assisting teacher. She called after him in Chinese, "I haven't cleaned your mouth!" She came forward to cleaned his mouth for him, and told me that he cried when he woke up, and she gave him a piece of bread, thinking he might be hungry. He was halfway through the bread when I arrived, so I guess he was hungry. All of them then gave me a full report of his progress, with 蒙老师 telling me that overall, he did pretty well for the first day of school :D

I told Blake to say thank you and goodbye to everyone, and he waved and said, "bye!!" before urging me towards the gate, but not before 蒙老师 passed me a parent-teacher communication book, and the father's day gift they made in school that day. (point to note: send child in just before mother's day so as not to wait a whole year for gifts from your child!)

We said goodbye again, and left. The whole way home, Blake was nothing short of amazing. He held my hand all the way, waited patiently at the bus stop for the bus, and walked the whole way home on his own! I only carried him up and down the bus! I rewarded him with a bubble bath, then we both fell asleep on the sofa shortly after. Hehe.

So proud of my boy. He managed 6 hours in school, on the first day, without throwing a single tantrum (crying is different)! Yup! That's what the teachers and staff all said :D

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blake's First Day of School - Getting There

Preparation for Blake's first day of school started about at least a month ago. You can read about it here.

A month before the first day of school, I've been trying to adjust Blake's sleeping time. He sleeps really late at night, and sleeps though till noon the next day on most days. But if he's going to school, waking up at 12 noon is definitely a big no-no! He'll miss all the important classes!

One month of trying to adjust obviously failed, because Blake slept really late the night before the first day! I didn't get much sleep either, even though I was down with a cold, cos I was too excited! Hahaha!

June 15, 2012

7am: My alarm clock rang, I got up to get myself ready first, and to make sure I've packed all of the items into Blake's school bag. I was so excited and nervous that it took me 30 minutes to get ready, with most of the time spent staring at my wardrobe wondering what to wear! Yes, I know, female woes. Haha.

7.30am: I woke Blake up and gave him his milk. He was happy to see his milk, but drank with his eyes closed until he saw me taking photos of him.

Can't a boy have his milk and sleep at the same time in peace?

While Blake was drinking his milk, my dad messaged to say he'll be over in about 5 minutes to pick us up for breakfast, before sending Blake to school. The moment I received the message, I panicked. How was I to dress Blake, wear his shoes, and move him out of the house, and down in 5 minutes when he has yet to finish his milk?

Thankfully, he finished his milk pretty fast, and he co-operated when I changed his diapers, and wore his school uniform for him. He attempted to fall back asleep, but I quickly picked him up.

I know, late already but still want to take photos. Haha :P

Brought him out to the living room, and the moment he saw his shoes on the floor, he brightened up! He quickly sat down, and waited for me to wear it for him. After which, he ran to the door and waited for me. Hehe.

The minute I opened the door, Blake started "jogging on the spot", moving his hands wildly and getting all excited. He probably thought we were going out to play. Haha. Opened the gate and he ran out (I was holding his hands already). I could tell he was really excited, but stood still whilst I locked the door and gate. When I turned to say, "Let's go!" He took off! (still holding my hands, don't worry!) He ran towards the lift and pressed the button and waited for the lift's arrival impatiently.

Reached the ground floor, and pointed out my dad's car ahead, he ran promptly towards it. I think he thought we were going to the swimming pool, cos my dad always gives us a lift to the swimming pool at club.

But when he got in, he saw my mom, and my brother, then he started to get nervous. I guess things like, "uh-oh, I'm not going swimming or to play" ran past his mind, cos he grabbed my fingers really tightly for a good part of the journey! He only relaxed for a bit when I told him we're going to have breakfast.

After breakfast with my parents, my mom left for work and my dad drove us to school! Blake was pretty nervous throughout the car ride.

Yes, he got pretty annoyed with me and the camera. It's been in his face the whole morning. Haha.

Wondering what happened in school on the first day? Look out for it in the next post! :D