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Now that Benji is sleeping through the night again (Praise the Lord!!), I have more time and energy to do stuff for me!! The blog was left quite unattended for a few months, and now it’s time to do a quick round-up of what we’ve been up to the last few months. I’ve decided to write more down whenever possible, to keep the memories alive and eventually publish a journal for Benj for his 18th or 21st birthday.

November

We celebrated Benji’s first birthday! The Koreans do a big celebration for their kids’ 1st birthdays, a tradition called Dol. Typically, the kid and parents wear the traditional Korean outfit, a Hanbok. Other rituals include prayers, giving of Korean cakes to friends and relatives, song and dance, as well as a fortune telling ritual of predicting a child’s future career by getting him/her to pick an object from a few placed in their reach. But because Benji is only half-Korean (technically, half Korean-American), and his dad (the Korean) does not really care for traditions, we only incorporated the hanbok and fortune telling ritual for fun. 🙂 We laid out a pair of sunglasses, a spatula, a stethoscope, a pen, and a book.

You must be dying to know what he picked: a pair of sunglasses! Which was meant to be a symbol for superstar. The next Psy, perhaps? The weather was quite warm that day, but we still had a great time celebrating it with a lovely barbecue at a nearby park.

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Oh, I also made my first cake. The cake recipe was taken from here (allergy-free recipe) (I’ve also made cupcakes from it for my coworkers, who have since demanded I share the recipe with them and made them a few times for their family/friends!!). And the actual cake idea was taken from this website. Overall, the exercise was a bit stressful since it was my first attempt at a cake, but thankfully everything went okay and the cake turned out yummy and almost like how it was supposed to look!

Two days later, Benji started walking on his own…and since then, it’s been mayhem!!

December

We were extremely busy with Christmas and hanging out at various parks with friends. We even made it to the beach once!

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January

Singapore!! Benji’s dad had to attend a conference in the States, and because peak season travel tickets to the US was ridiculously exorbitant, I decided to go to Singapore instead so the fam and friends could hang out with Benji (and me). It was a fantastic trip. I had a bit more freedom this trip than last because I’m no longer breastfeeding and my kind parents were more than happy to babysit him in the day and night while I went off shopping and meeting friends for coffees/late dinners. (Thank you, mom n dad!!!)

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After we returned from overseas, Benji, Bry, and I went for a short overnight trip to the Mornington Peninsula. We also went to the aquarium with some friends!

We’re really having fun with Benji these days, especially at the parks and playgrounds (and the beach!).20130131-134612.jpg

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This has been our best Melbourne summer yet.

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I’m trying to type this post in the middle of Benji’s uncontrollable sobbing. My stomach is churning, my palms are sweaty, and my heart is racing. I keep telling myself “think big picture, think big picture, think big picture.”

We are trying to Ferberize Benji, as Bry called it. Last night he decided to take the plunge and introduce the “controlled comforting” method, similar to Dr Ferber’s somewhat controversial method that a lot of people associate with the “crying it out” technique of sleep training. Our health nurse encouraged us to try it, especially since Benji has been waking up more than usual to seek comfort, as well as taking longer than before to fall asleep. This is going to be quite unsustainable in our household with both Bry and I returning to work pretty soon.

Using the “controlled comforting” method, we had our usual nighttime routine with him: bathe, moisturize, read a book, feed, cuddle, Bry steps in and pats Benji till he’s sleepy, and then places him in his crib. As expected, Benji started screeching once Bry left the room. Bry decided to let him cry it out for 2 mins, and then go in for 1 min to comfort him, and then leave again this next time for 4 mins, and then keep extending the time he’s left alone by 2 mins extra. I whimped out at 4 mins; Benji was freaking out so much, I couldn’t take it.

Bry and I talked about this a lot last night; he really wanted to try it. So did I, but it was a lot harder than I thought. But after doing more reading and, yes, praying about it, I decided to really commit to trying to sleep train him. We know that training him earlier will be more effective than later.

In line with my promise to Bry to really try this method, this morning, I singlehandedly rolled out the harsh treatment during his morning nap.

Hence this post. Now. I needed something to distract me from his cries and blogging really helped pass the time more easily — and it did. I was able to drown out his cries more easily than last night when I was sitting on the couch watching the clock tick.

After the 6th minute run (the 3rd interval), he finally caved in and fell asleep. He still needed me to soothe him but I think he was so exhausted from the cries that he fell asleep within seconds after I patted him and had zilch energy left to check to see if I was still around after.

I just went in to take a peek and the little screaming babiac (baby maniac) is now our little sleeping angel, looking all cherubic like he did below. Ah, if only he can sleep as easily in his cot as he does in the baby carrier or stroller.

Whew. So this method supposedly takes between 3 to 10 days to take effect. Let’s hope it works.

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Music has been reported to benefit baby’s brain development by creating new pathways and at times also soothing them when they’re fussy. We have been playing lots of children’s songs and classical music to Benji and he really enjoys listening to them. But let’s be honest here: how many of us are going a bit crazy now having listened to “5 little ducks” for the hundredth time?!!

We are always on the prowl for new music for him and a friend of mine sent me to this totally rad website: Rock-a-bye baby, that sells “pop” music for babies. I laughed so hard for the first few minutes after landing on the site. Lullaby renditions of rock music?!! They were actually really enjoyable! Not that I liked Bob Marley’s songs before, but with Rockabyebaby, we can now listen to Bob Marley without feeling guilty or feeling like we need to censor any lyrics.

I’m actually eyeing the one for Weezer. Also digging the cutesy graphics on the CD cover. Only about $17. Soon daddy and mommy can enjoy their favorite tunes and share them – guilt free – with Benji!

If you think traveling with another person is tricky, imagine traveling with 3 other adults and 3 children age 4.5 months, 18 months, and 5.5 years all packed in a mini-van.

That was us yesterday. Sure, we did not go very far: Grouse Mountain, one of the closest and biggest ski resorts in Vancouver only 25 minutes’ drive away. We had not been there before and needed to since the snow season is nearly over and our time here is almost up. And it is Grouse, THE peak of Vancouver, gotta go up there at least once! Another family we know here who are rather new in Vancouver and also from my hometown, Singapore, wanted to visit the mount, so it seemed logical to do a trip together. Because it was our first trip with another family, I was slightly anxious about how the day was going to eventuate. For starters, we didn’t have any real agenda. I would like to snowboard since I haven’t done it already here in Canada (what?!!!) (we snowshoed a couple months back at Mt Seymour but that was about it in terms of winter sports) but who will look after Benji if both Bry and I snowboarded? We couldn’t possibly place Benji in their care when they already have two kids to keep them occupied. Our friends don’t snowboard but would like to snowshoe: would I be able to do it with them and maybe sling Benji the entire snowshoe activity? What if I fall? What if Benji starts fussing throughout the day and screams the entire car ride? Will Bry get to snowboard? What are the other two kids going to do if they don’t snowshoe? Aagh.

But as the title already revealed: the day went better than fine; it was a success. Here are some of my observations from this successful trip and recommendations/things to remember for future travels with other families:

1) Have a loose agenda and be flexible: So I did not get to snowboard because I decided that, between Bry and me, Bry, a more seasoned snowboarder would have gotten way more out of snowboarding in one of Vancouver’s most popular ski resorts. Of course he did. Two hours of full-on snowboarding on slopes overlooking the Vancouver city on a Tuesday in spring was great for him, as far as I could tell. It also started snowing in the middle of his rides, sprinkling fresh powdery snow and maximizing his already enjoyable experience. Originally, my back up plan was to snowshoe, but because it was quite a slippery walk for me to get to the rental office with a baby carrier on, I did not feel safe and balanced enough to make it there without slipping and hurting myself so I bailed. But experiencing the snow fall on the mountains while gazing at the city from the peak with little Benji strapped on me was a beautiful enough experience. I had no complaints. I also got to hang out and watch my friends and their kids play in the snow which was incredibly enjoyable (they, too, did not rent snowshoes because they did not have appropriate waterproof footwear to begin with).

2) Be prepared to wait and give yourself lots of buffer time: God bless our friends who went with us who were soo patient to wait for Benji and me during nursing times. In return, we also hung out when they had to run around with their restless kids who insisted on looking at something different than what we adults agreed upon. At one point during the car ride, we had to pull over to stop for my friend’s daughter, who gets motion sickness easily, nearly threw up. Traveling with kids aint easy and we all need to remember that.

3) Pack snacks and remember to take them wherever you go: This will be more relevant to parents of older kids who are already on solids. My friend was armed with a variety of snacks for her kids during the car ride and when we were up in the mountains. I did a version of that, but forgot to take the snacks with us up, and resulted to purchasing some snacks for Bry and me (plus stealing some of theirs). Having said that, it is also important for nursing moms to be well fed and hydrated. Thankfully there was a cafe serving healthy snack options but it would have been so much easier had I remembered my bag of food! Adults will be fine if snacks are forgotten but little kids with their frontal lobes still developing have little control over inhibition and theory of mind, and will probably lose it and not be as forgiving gif they are not fed food the instant they want it.

4) Pack extra plastic bags and diapers: You really never know for how long you will be out and whether your kids are going to suddenly fall ill or be extra fussy with the slightest wet diaper. Plastic bags take up little space in your bag so carry them all if you can! LIke I mentioned earlier, my friend’s daughter nearly threw up in the car and while she had a bag prepared, she thought it had some holes and therefore needed another bag for buffer. As for me, Benji did some explosive poops up in the mountains (thinner air? Shrugs) and soiled his clothes, and therefore needed more bags than usual.

5) Bring along toys/entertainment for the car ride: The iPhone is a lifesaver for many parents of kids all ages. When the kids were getting restless in the car, my friends whipped out their iPhones – one for each child – and put on songs and cartoons for them. I did not have to use mine on Benji this trip, but when we drove around Seattle, I had my iPhone out as well to entertain him. With Benji en route home from Grouse, we discovered his new fascination with the noise made from shaking a bag of chips. It was a lifesaver because he was sufficiently entertained throughout the ride despite his exhaustion from the day (it was also slightly past his bedtime by then).

At the end of the day, Bry got to snowboard for a full 2 hours, I got to play a bit in the snow with Benji, my friends’ kids got to make little snowmen, snow angels, and hang out in the snow. My friends also got to enjoy their kids’ excitement from playing in the snow, which was fun enough for cityfolk like us who grew up in tropical climates.

Have you taken road trips with other families? DO you have any other suggestions for dealing with these travels?



20120416-193516.jpg “It should not be this difficult!” I kept thinking to myself. But it was. Breastfeeding was not easy for me for the first few weeks. Benji had a really strong suck and I was not correctly latching him on, creating sore and cracked nipples. Furthermore, my milk supply only started about a week after Benji was born, and because I was constantly trying to stimulate my boobs for milk supply using either the pump or Benji’s suckle, my boobs were working on overdrive and felt sore. Constantly.

Later on, I think I got a really mild form of thrush – the sharp sting and radiating pain were my only symptoms – and, thank God, Benji never showed any. That also prevented me from breastfeeding comfortably.

So Benji was formula fed for the first week, then after my milk supply was established, was only breastfed half the time while the other half was with the bottle.

It took three visits to lactation consultants, and more than six weeks of persistence to finally feel comfortable breastfeeding exclusively and after all that, 3 months later, I’m now struggling to re-introduce the bottle to Benji.

Again, I told myself “It shouldn’t be this difficult.” But as with most new things, it is. We tried the bottle with Benji a few days ago and he fought it. Our game plan was for me to pump half a feed, leave the room, have Bry feed him, and then finish the half with a breastfeed. It took Benji awhile to realize what was going on and when he did, he started screaming and choking on the milk. Then, after a few rocks and lullabies, Benji calmed down, held on to the bottle, sucked on the teat…and then started screaming again after a few sucks. The entire half a feed probably took 20-30 minutes (vs 10-15 mins on the breast). Today, we tried it again and Benji went even more ballistic. He was almost inconsolable the entire time Bry tried feeding him. The Pediatrician we saw a few weeks back who urged us to introduce the bottle with him again forewarned us about this battle but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad.

There were little moments when I thought back to how difficult it was for me to establish breastfeeding and wondering what that was for, if he was going to need to be bottle fed again in a few months anyway and had I known it was going to be such a battle to reintroduce the bottle to him, I might have never completely given up the bottle with him.

Anyway, I’ve been looking up other ways to help Benji take the bottle again and found more strategies that we might try:

  • feeding him in a different room
  • holding him in a different position
  • having me even further away than I was the last couple times
  • offering the bottle when he is hungry but not starving
  • offering the bottle when he is in a calmer mood to begin with
  • using a sippy cup
  • trying a different teat (we’re currently using Dr Brown’s number 2 teat for 3-6 months)

Moms out there did you go through something similar with your kid and if so, do you have any other suggestions?

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When Benji was first born everyone including me thought he looked just like Bry. But this baby photo of me that my mom emailed me yesterday just proved everyone wrong!

One of our friends joked before that people usually say the baby looks like the dad first so dads won’t bail. Funny.

Who does your kid look like? Did that change through the years?