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Hope your weekend’s going well. Here’s a paragraph I absolutely enjoyed from one of today’s articles on the NYTimes titled “Raising Successful Children.” I’m sure a few of you would’ve seen this, too.

“A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy.”

Something to ruminate over this weekend (or in my case, Monday!). Have a good one.

With a baby in the house, I have to constantly think of ways to be more efficient in doing things, in particular, household tasks and cooking. Benji is still in the early stages of eating solids and I still prepare his food separately. Even though that involves just a steamer and a blender, it takes quite a bit more work and cleaning up. One of my girlfriends really swore by the Philips AVENT baby food maker she got, and after watching a YouTube presentation of it, I was also sold: a two-in-one baby food maker – what a nifty little contraption!

But alas, we live in Melbourne, Australia, where brands from the US (like Philips) cost twice as much (US128 on Ebay VS AUD250; exchange rate being about 1:1) and since the voltage systems are incompatible, we are unable to get it from the US and use it here.

At the local grocery store, Aldi, we saw a baby food maker, slightly bigger and less elegant looking, but still quite a time saver, for only AUD58 and decided to try it instead.

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Although I know it’s not as good as the Philips one, I still really like it. It steams in one compartment and blends in another, eliminating quite a bit of washing and having to use more tools. I can’t quite stress how this little bit of efficiency has helped me so much in my daily routine.  Hopefully it will help you, too.

Do you use a baby food maker? Which one(s) and do you like it? How else do you prepare your food?

On the surface Japan, like most Asian countries, is a highly conservative country. With that knowledge, I was slightly worried about how I would go about nursing Benji outside our hotel room. My single and childless friends in Japan aren’t plugged into the whole motherhood scene neither are my relatives, so I didn’t have insider information or advice there.
As expected, mothers in Tokyo do not nurse their babies in public. Not even with a nursing apron. When I suggested that to Bry’s Japanese cousin who we were visiting, she seemed to think it was not at all kosher.
So how do moms nurse?! I was lucky enough to wander into the kids department in a giant mall the day after we arrived in Tokyo because Bry’s relatives wanted to get Benji a present, and decided to check out their baby changing facilities. I popped into what I thought was a just a baby changing room only to be pleasantly surprised that there were not only about eight baby changing tables with proper mattresses, but also individual cubicles for moms to nurse their babies in complete privacy.
Whoah!
There were also diaper bags available, hot water dispensers for moms who bottle feed, an infant weighing station, and high chairs for feeding babies/toddlers solids. It was such a wonderful facility!
Since then, I have gone to various other department stores to use their nursing rooms and they never disappoint. All the rooms I’ve been to have been clean and extremely well maintained. While sometimes I wish I could just have the freedom to nurse wherever I want, I also see the benefits of these brilliant nursing facilities.
Tomorrow we go to Seoul to visit other family. I wonder what their nursing culture is like. A good friend of mine who is Korean, has a one year old kid and who lives there mentioned that while it is not too common, there are women who nurse discreetly in public…but it wouldn’t be a big deal not to do it in public if they, too have such awesome facilities like the Japanese. <;;strong20120604-214607.jpg

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This was where we spent last Saturday: at the Kits Beach. The Kits pool also opened for the summer session that day and my gosh is that pool huge.

We have been extremely busy wrapping up our stay here. On the weekend we also had friends over for dinner, and this week is full of hosting friends from the US. We have about 10 days left in this town. Have I already mentioned how sad I am to leave??

Anyway…so the topic at last week’s mother’s group was about taking care of ourselves. And the questions posed to us to share were: what is one big challenge you’ve faced since becoming a mom and what is one thing you do to take care of you. I was floored by how many women found breastfeeding challenging. Sure they were of varying degrees of challenges some has full on thrush and mastitis and some cracked nipples…some shared their disappointment with being unable to breastfeed. I feel like we have become so obsessed with this issue and more and more so in recent years.

I also shared other challenges I think for me aside from breastfeeding, my biggest one was watching benji go through the weepy stage of eczema and feeling helpless when I couldn’t do anything to alleviate his itch.

Other challenges will also be rebuilding my relationship with Bry (and yes sex included. I won’t lie but shan’ elaborate further too but it’s been challenging. Am I the only one?) finding time to read and be intellectually stimulated, spending time to read my Bible and pray for friends and family, phoning up and catching up with friends, plus the usual sleep deprivation.

Speaking of which, right at this moment my biggest challenge is dealing with HIS GROWTH SPURT. It has got to be the biggest one to date. He is feeding like he has never before. Even during the early days he didn’t feed like that: once ever 2.5 hours in the night. On the one and I’m glad because we are working on his weight gain having dropped to the 10th percentile…on the other hand I miss the months where he treated us by sleeping through the night! 🙂

It will pass soon. I hope. Especially since we are gonna have a full house for the next 6 days with two extra adults and two toddlers in a tiny house.

And how do I look after myself?? Go out to meet other moms or friends…and shop. Whether it’s shopping for others or me, I find it cathartic. Oh that and indulging in some dark chocolate coconut ice cream I just discovered to be amazing (brand: Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss) from Whole Foods.

To moms reading: what has Ben your greatest or one of the bigger challenges since becoming a mom? And what do you do to look after yourselves?

PS my Internet connection is still iffy so the next post might not be for awhile!

Benji chugged down almost 5 half-feeds of breastmilk in two days so I think time to say we have safely crossed over to the bottle feeding stage. I wrote in a previous post about the struggle we had with feeding him from the bottle after a few months of exclusively breastfeeding, and it took us – me – about a week or so to gather the courage to try it out once more. It also helped that my folks were around for more moral support and in case Benji rejected the bottle from Bry, we had more people to help feed him. I was armed with all sorts of ‘tricks’ up my sleeves but the solution was actually not complicated.

We found out that the little guy was simply fussy with the previous bottlefeeding trials not because he hated that his dad was feeding him or that he desperately wanted only mommy to feed him. All we needed to do, and this was one of the suggestions from one of the moms who responded to my post (thanks, discoveranddevour!) was to warm up the milk AND teat just before the feed. Too easy (as the Australians love to say)! Once we hit jackpot, Benji downed the whole thing down without putting up any fight.

Bry who missed getting to feed Benji the last few months I was breastfeeding, really enjoyed getting to reconnect with Benji on that level, too. Benji, however, seem to need a few more cuddles from me during the day and that’s totally understandable.

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The Butchart Gardens is gorgeous. Having the sunny weather today created an even prettier atmosphere for this walk. I liked that the gardens had different styles of landscapes within and that they had their unique story. Take the sunken garden for example: it used to be a limestone quarry n Mrs Butchart decided to make a garden out of it. The result? A gorgeous layered garden with lovely aerial views of it.

Bry took Benji to hang out with his friend who lives on the island so it was just me, my dad, mom, and aunt at the gardens. Although the garden tour took just a couple hours, it was rather refreshing to spend time being the daughter/niece/baby with my folks. 🙂

That wrapped up our short but sweet trip to Victoria Island. On our way back to Vancouver!

Today, Benji and I participated in the Art Walks for Strollers activity organized by a community center in Vancouver. This was a guided tour around Yaletown, a hipster neighborhood rich in outdoor art near downtown Vancouver. The sunny weather today was an added bonus and certainly made all the art look even more attractive and inspiring. One of the things I love about guided art tours is the little information nuggets you get about the art pieces: the artists, contexts, and in the case of the outdoor art, also a bit about the neighborhood.

I learned today that the piece of land that is Yaletown was bought by property developer Li Ka Shing from Hong Kong, and that some percentage of their profits have to go into providing amenities for the public. Hence all the public features such as installation art, sculptures, beautifully landscaped gardens and parks.

The walk was thoroughly enjoyable. Got some good, intellectual stimulation that is refreshing, especially after all that baby talking almost the entire day with your infant. Since the walk was meant for parents with babies, it went at a slower pace and provided a good opportunity to meet other moms which is always fun.

The group of moms n strollers.

The Brush with Illumination: my favorite piece from the walk. The brush handle is actually made from solar panels that illuminate the tip in the night.

If any of you moms/parents reading this post lives in Vancouver or knows of parents with babies living here, the Stroller Art Walk takes place once a month and meets at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. Drop-in/registration fee is CAD5. The resident guide, Catherine, is really nice, informative, and has a real passion for breaking down art for the masses and encouraging people to engage with art pieces around town.

PS: I am devastated that we have only just over a month left here in Vancouver. I love this town so much! :-/