Saturday, 30 May 2015

If I Were a Time Traveller, I'll Go Back to 2010

This.

Baby girl, when she was just one hour old!

This was the very inspiration for this blog post and the whole blog train for that matter.

You see, when you are a new mum, you've got a lot to learn about your baby. You're struggling with breastfeeding for the first time, learning how to cope with waking up every 1.5 hours to feed a very hungry baby, searching Google at 3am to make sure that you are doing the right thing and at the same time, having to deal with critical albeit well-meaning relatives who question your every decision.

Added to the fact that your body has to cope with pain from a contracting uterus, stitches either on you-know-where or on the tummy, sore muscles from all the pushing or operation (or both!), sore nipples, engorgement that could hurt more than the birth itself (true story for a friend of mine!)... you've got virtually no time, energy or brain space to appreciate the cute and very tiny little human being that is your newborn baby.

A very tired new mum holding her five day old Baby Girl
(whom she can still carry with ONE hand!)

It was only when things have stabilised after a few months (which was also when I felt confident enough as a mother to start this blog) that I realised, oh my goodness! My baby is not tiny any more!!! =(

The breast milk that Baby Girl drank every 1.5 hours soon showed on her body:
Chubby baby girl at 2 months old (left)
Baby girl was already 10kg at 6 months old! More than 97 percentile in weight! *laughs* (right)
Baby girl is now not a baby anymore! She is a 4.5 year old big sister with long hair and princess fantasies! =)
(Yes, she is wearing kids makeup in the photo on the left. She loves wearing makeup!!)

How fast time flies! =(

Hence, if I could travel back in time, I want to go back to just after the birth of my girl (yes after! I'm NOT going to go through labour again! *laughs*).

Three day old Baby Girl on her first day at home after returning from the hospital

I will do the things that I had wanted to do but didn't such as:
  • Invest in a good camera to take nicer pictures of my baby girl
  • Take more pictures of me in the delivery suite and after birth (at the time I was too self-conscious and totally regretted it!)
  • Take pictures of me breastfeeding my girl
  • Start this blog earlier so that my struggles with my baby girl in the early days can be documented 
Photos were unfortunately, my biggest regret!

Unfortunately, I can't travel back in time. But luckily for me, there is always Baby #2 to do a do-over! *grin*

Our Christmas present, a beautiful Baby Boy who was just 1 day old
Photo of a very tired out me, something I had refused to take when I was a new mum. Now, I'm flabby and proud! =)

With a much better camera (i.e. the Olympus OMD), I was able to take beautiful infant photos of my baby. I also took many photos of me breastfeeding, something I never dared to do when I was breastfeeding my girl (sadly -_-).

Mini photo shoot at home when Baby Boy was just 2-3 weeks old
With the extremely doting sister who treats him like her doll...
(and he looks just like one!)
Now that Baby Boy is 17 months old and completely weaned, I really miss those days when he was tiny and completely dependent on me.

See how he completely grew into his car seat! Doesn't even look like the same baby!

If I had a chance to, I'll definitely go back to when he was a newborn and relive the days when he was small enough to carry with one arm. And nursing! Sigh. I do miss it though I'm also enjoying my freedom haha.

My kids are growing up so fast (take a look at their month by month changes) that I think even if I can travel back in time, I won't be able to catch up! *laughs*

It was fun to reminisce the past and also go on this journey with the other mums. Thanks for journeying with us so far. I hope you've had as much fun as I did =)


This post is part of a Time Travelling Blog Train hosted by me! =)
Check back everyday to find out where other mothers would go if they could travel back in time!


P.S: If you're a different kind of traveller (like I am), check out my Travel Page for my travel itineraries of our journey around the world! =)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Psych of Parenting 3: Importance of Positive Peer Relationships in School

A lot of times when our kids don't do well in school, we think that they need more tuition or more assessment books. However, research is now showing (and justifying what I have believed all along) that school performance is more than just brain power.

Peers, which refers to children who are of the same age or intellectual level, play a very important part in how well your child does in school.

If you think about it, it makes sense. When I was Primary 5 or 6, I remember spending many afternoons after school with my friends doing homework. I didn't do it because I liked homework (definitely not!); I did it because I wanted to be with my friends. We helped each other when the other didn't know how to solve a Mathematics problem and tested each other's memory of the information in the textbook.

In order to have friends, one has to be accepted by peers. In psychology, Peer Acceptance refers to the "likability" of a child or the extent by which other children want to play with the child.

The way that researchers determined peer acceptance (i.e. the likability of each child) in the class was by asking them to list 3 classmates that they liked and 3 classmates that they disliked.

The researchers then drew on a graph and linked the children to each other based on the children's answers. For example, if John listed Alice, Gabriel and Tom as the classmates he liked, then 3 red arrows will be drawn from him to them. Grey arrows were used in the same way for classmates that he disliked.

Children who were:
  • Popular = had 2 or more red arrows and no grey arrows pointing to them
  • Controversial = had at least 1 red arrow and none or some grey arrows pointing to them
  • Neglected = had no arrows pointing to them 
  • Rejected = had only grey arrows pointing to them 
These four broad categories of children are summarised in the infographic below.


A lot of the time, the common practice in most schools is removing a child whenever he/she does not behave in the class or can't get along with his/her classmates. This is not recommended as this may further increase the peer rejection.

Instead, researchers suggest that teachers work with the child within the classroom by teaching the child social skills to help him/her to improve their peer relationships and teaching the other children (especially the popular children) to be accepting and not isolate/reject others.

We can also play our part as parents in imparting social skills to our kids. We will be sharing seven social skills that you can teach your kids in the next post in this series! Stay tuned! =)


This post is part of my infographic series on the Psychology of Parenting.
Follow me as I attempt to make psychological research more understandable =)



Continue to >> Psychology of Parenting 4: Improving Your Child's Social Skills

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Personalised Bags for Kids

If you know me, you'd know that I love everything with my name on it. I mean, who doesn't right? *laughs*

We received a package some time back from It's My Bag.

One of the bags...

Inside we found the four personalised bags that I had ordered, two for each of my kids. Girl was ecstatic!

SLING BAGS

I thought the sling bags were cute because my girl didn't have any. I chose a blue bag for Baby Boy while the girl chose the purple with helicopter for herself.

Vespa slingbag (skyblue) with name embroidery in yellow
Close up of bag and label
There's a zip inside to ensure items do not fall out
Heli Slingbag (purple) with name embroidery in yellow

It's My Bag allows you to choose the colour of the letters of the embroidery, and should you not want personalisation, that's ok too. However personally I feel, "what's the point? Isn't it a lot more special when it's personalised?" Just me :)

My girl loves her bag, especially since it has her name on it! She'll insist to bring it with us whenever we are out as it contains all of her stuff.

Fits her perfectly
Keeping her own things in her bag and feeling all grown up about it

My only gripe about it is that there is only one main compartment and no addition pockets for her to put her hair clips and other tiny objects that tend to get lost in a bag. At the moment I'm using little bags to store them.

Well, at least I don't have to worry that she will lose her bag in Children's Church! :)

BACKPACKS

I chose a backpack for each of the kids as well, even though Baby Boy is not old enough to carry his (well, I'm preparing for the day when he goes to school).

Robot backpack (Navy) with name embroidery in blue
Close up of the name embroidery
A look inside the bag
(Sorry that it's too dark but you can take my word for it that it's not too big and not too small)
Left: Cute orange trimings on the shoulder straps;
Right: Side pockets for putting bottles or other random things (and kids have A LOT of them!)
Woodland backpack (purple-pink) with name embroidery in light pink
Close up of the design details
(Very cute!)
Left: Spacious main compartment and front pockets;
Right: An addition compartment at the bottom of the bag to store a lunchbox (my girl kept her pillow in it during our trip to Melbourne)

Girl brought the backpack to Melbourne, and was pleased that it was big enough to store all her travel needs such as her jacket, waterbottle, pillow, colour pencils, notebook and even her brother's milk bottle.

Proudly showing off her bag

Seeing how much my girl likes her bags, especially her slingbag, I can't wait for Baby Boy to use his when the time comes (which is still a long way away haha).

GIVEAWAY!

We are giving away 1 Personalised Bag (choice of one of the above four bags reviewed by me) to TWO lucky winners each!


Simply follow these steps to qualify:

(1) Leave a comment on this blog post on which bag you would like to win, why you like it and who it is for
(2) Enter the above entry into the Rafflecopter widget below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The other entries are optional but you may enter them for more chances of winning! Good luck! =)

Terms and Conditions of this giveaway:
a) This giveaway ends on 2nd June 2015 (Tuesday) and is only open to readers living in Singapore.
b) Participants must complete the entry above and enter it into Rafflecopter in order to qualify. Other entries entered into Rafflecopter must also be completed (I do check!). Incomplete entries will be disqualified without notice.
c) Limited to one participation per person (i.e. no multiple emails for the same person). Facebook or Instagram accounts with little or no friends (i.e. started for the sole purpose of joining contests) will be disqualified without notice according to the discretion of the organiser.
d) Limited to one prize per household.
e) The winner will be drawn randomly via Rafflecopter and must respond within 3 days after being contacted by me otherwise another winner will be drawn.


Disclosure: Complimentary products were received from It's My Bag, Singapore for the purposes of this review and giveaway. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.

Monday, 11 May 2015

My 4th Mother's Day

Four years ago, I celebrated my first Mother's Day as one of the newest members of the motherhood community.

I remember how happy I felt to be included in this privileged club that only allowed entry to the toughest folks in the world. You've got to be as tough as nails yet as gentle as a dove. Despite knowing the physical (labour), mental (when the kids drive us nuts) and emotional (when people don't understand us) pain that is ahead, mothers go through it willingly and voluntarily. Not everyone can do it; and not everyone wants to do it. But mothers can and will because well, our kids need us to.

Most people don't say what a good job you're doing and sometimes you question yourself as well but let me just say to all mothers that you are doing an awesome job! Keep it up! :)

With my littlest and hopefully last baby at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia

This Mother's Day I reflect on my 4 almost 5 short years as a mother and am so thankful to be called to join this exclusive club. It wasn't entirely an easy journey even though it wasn't all that terrible too thanks to the amazing help and support that I have received from my fantastic mum-in-law. Despite all the different roles I play, I still want to be known by everyone as a mother. I'm probably a psychologist/researcher for only a short while (or at least until I retire) but I will be a mother forever.

We all walk different paths in this journey of motherhood but one thing remains the same, we are all mothers and we want the best for our children.


Enjoy this video by the Singapore Mom Bloggers from all walks of life. It's not just about what we do, it's who we are =)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Melbourne Day 3: Philip Island

As we had a long day ahead of us, we had a very early breakfast and set out of the house by 8.30am (or thereabouts). It was an approximately 1 hour 45 minutes drive from our apartment to Philip Island Nature Parks.

Bridge connecting us to Philip Island
(It's like our Sentosa, except it's much much bigger!)
Welcome to Philip Island

We headed straight to Penguin Parade to purchase our 3 Park Pass with Penguin Plus combo tickets.

Penguin Parade
(Address: 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands, Victoria 3922caption

We had initially wanted to get the ordinary 3 Park Pass, which would have cost us AUD 41.60/adult, but I thought we could get a better view from the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform as it has less people. Luckily for us, they had a promotion this month where one child enters free with every paying adult. Hence, it cost us a total of AUD 220 for four adults (i.e. AUD 55/adult) instead of AUD 250.

The 3 Park Pass covers 3 places of interest in Philip Island, namely, Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm. You do not need to visit all three parks on the same day but you have to visit Penguin Parade first before visiting the other two parks within 6 months of visiting Penguin Parade.

Our first stop is the Koala Conservation Centre, where we were able to see koalas in their natural habitat.

Koala Conservation Centre
(Address: 1810 Phillip Island Tourist Road, Cowes, Victoria 3922
This way to the koala boardwalk!
(Please do not disturb as the koalas here are not tame animals!)
Koala Boardwalk, with 1 male and 5 females
Walking through the gates and trying VERY HARD to spot a koala!
(they blend right into the trees and were sooo far away!!!!)
I had to zoom all the way into the trees to capture this shot
(thank God for my Olympus OMD)
Clockwise from left: Mum-in-law bought an uber cute koala hat for the baby boy and he loved wearing it. She wanted to get one for the girl as well but she hates wearing hats;
Wild wallaby wandering around and minding his own business;
With the stuffed koala at the information area near the ticketing counter.

The mum-in-law and brother-in-law, who had never seen a koala in person before, were really disappointed that they were hiding so high up in the trees. They were so desperate that they even took photos with the fake stuffed one near the information counter!

I told them not to worry, we were in the land of koalas after all. I'll find them a place where they can see koalas to their hearts content =)

We drove to Philip Island Chocolate Factory next, which was a must-visit for me the chocolate fanatic!

Philip Island Chocolate Factory
(Address: 930 Philip Island Road, Newhaven Victoria 3925, Australia
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm)

It was time for lunch so of course we had to order a couple of hot chocolate (we were in a chocolate factory after all). And man, it was one of the best hot chocolates I've ever had! So good! *yum*

Clockwise from left: Awesome hot chocolate with marshmallows;
Crispy fish and chips that were surprisingly crispy!;
Ham and cheese sandwich for girl and I

The highlight of the factory is the Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate. Do set aside at least 45 minutes (or more if you can afford the time) for this attraction. And if you're like me, who can't even survive without chocolate for even a day, you will love it! It was like chocolate heaven!!!! =)

Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate

We paid AUD 15 each for the bro-in-law and I (hubby and mum-in-law weren't interested) and AUD 10 for my girl (i.e. child 4-16 years old). The tickets were in the form of chocolate bars! Very Willy Wonka! :D

 Our tickets to Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate! The most delicious ticket that I've bought!

We started the journey by going back to the beginning: what chocolate is made of (cocoa) and how it's made.

Learning about how chocolate is made from cocoa

There were many art pieces on display as well, all created from chocolate! It's what they call "edible art"! Love it! =)

Left: Different varieties of chocolate
Right: A chocolate casting (meaning it's hollow inside) of the Sculpture of David by Michelangelo. Very cool! =)
Dame Edna mosaic, created with 12000 real, handmade chocolates from Panny's Factory. What an awesome art piece! =)
Close up of the Dame Edna mosaic. It's really chocolate!
It's a Chocolate Village, a whole miniature structure made of chocolate (except for the train and its tracks)!
Clockwise from left: Such an intricately carved lighthouse!;
Candy covered trees;
Detailed bridges made completely of chocolate!
Choo choo!!
Look at the details of the trees and houses! Very realistic.

The chocolate village was created by an artist in Melbourne and brought to Philip Island on a refrigerated truck. Took the guy about 12 weeks to create! Cool =)

We moved on to learn how chocolate is made in the factory.

The story of how chocolate is made in 
There's an arcade where you can play to win wooden balls which you can exchange for chocolate balls! =)
With a stroke of luck, both the bro-in-law and I won a wooden ball! Yay! =)
Beautiful sculptures made of chocolate, which are revealed with a press of a button
1 tonne of solid chocolate!!
With the World's Largest Chocolate Waterfall! =)
 Photo Booth

At the last station, we got to make our very own chocolate in any design we liked!

Moving a machine oozing with chocolate to create our masterpieces
Clockwise from left: After waiting a super long time for the chocolate to travel down the conveyor and be cooled, we caught our masterpiece at the end of the conveyor;
It's going to drop!;
Can't wait to eat our "masterpiece"!

I like how interactive the displays were. My girl enjoyed pressing buttons, smelling samples, playing games and even eating chocolate. The factory literally engaged all of our senses! =)

We would have stayed even longer if we could but unfortunately, the hubby and mum-in-law were waiting for us so we had to leave =(

We had a tight schedule to adhere to so off we went to Churchill Island Heritage Farm.

Bridge linking Philip Island to Churchill Island

We got a bit confused when we arrived at this single lane bridge because well, it was just one lane for both directions! Had to make sure that no other cars were using it from the other side before quickly driving across!

After we crossed the bridge however, we knew immediately that we had arrived at the right place.

Churchill Heritage Island Farm
(Address: 246 Samuel Amess Drive, Churchill Island, Newhaven 3925)
"Coatless" sheep grazing in the field

There were many activities happening at the farm but we were most interested in only two, namely, cow milking and sheep shearing. It was fun!

Mum-in-law's first time milking a cow! She was thrilled!
Me trying my hand at milking
(I felt an affirnity with the cow because as a fellow nursing mother myself, I actually know how the cow feels hehe)
Sheep shearing happening at 2.30pm.
We thought it was going to be one of these two sheep but it was actually another sheep held in the back. These two were just for show!
Clockwise from left: One of the shearers explaining how the deed is done;
Demonstrating it with one of the sheep that he had pulled from the back;
Girl posing with the sheepskin that was just sheared.

We also had a lot of fun interacting with the rest of the farm animals and taking scenic photos.

Ducks, turkeys and a very chill horse
Look at the view! Breathtaking!
The kids loved the soft grass so much that they ran here and there on it and didn't want to leave!
A nice family photo taken using self timer on my Olympus OMD =)

We still had a bit of time so we headed to The Nobbies, located at the South of Philip Island just 5 minutes from Penguin Parade. Apparently you can see seals from the lookout if you used a pair of binoculars.

Scenic drive to The Nobbies, which is located on the cliff
(Felt like we were going to drive off the cliff as we reached the end of the road haha)
The rocks below the boardwalk can be very dangerous. Stay within the boardwalk!
Beautiful view of the rocks!
See the island of rocks at the far end of the photo? Apparently if you looked through a binoculars, you can see a whole colony of seals taking refuge in the safety of the rocks.

It is really cold at The Nobbies so make sure you are dressed in thicker clothes than I did (was too lazy to put on my jacket).

We headed to Penguin Parade and had a quick dinner before heading to the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform to await the arrival of the Little Penguins (that's the name of their species). The penguins are wild animals so the parade timings depend on the season so do check their calendar before you visit.

Clockwise from left: The pathway that the penguins will be walking as they go back home to their nests;
This way to the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform;
A nice family photo of us on the boardwalk
boardwalk
Clockwise from left: Sitting on the steps of the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform;
Hubby and girl with the beautiful sunset;
Selfie of all of us while waiting. 
View of the Regular Viewing Platforms
The sky was darkening as we waited. It was a really looong wait!

As the sky turned dark, we noticed little black creatures peaking out from beneath the platform. The penguins have emerged! =)

We were cautioned by the rangers numerous of times that it was illegal to take pictures of the Little Penguins as the flash would damage their eyes. We didn't (that's why there are no photos of them here) but I saw a lot of inconsiderate people who did! =(

Anyway, we all thought it wasn't worth it to pay extra for Penguin Plus. Although the penguins were cute and we saw them really up close (so close that we can almost touch them!), we could have been just as happy seeing them from the Regular Viewing Platforms.

Anyway, as it was already dark, we left in a hurry so that we could get back in time. On the way back, for some reason even though I had used the toilet before I left Penguin Parade, I needed to use the toilet again! And there were none in sight! I had to endure till we saw a petrol station/rest stop in the distance. "I'm saved!" I cheered.

Since there was a KFC and McDonald's at the rest stop, we decided to get take away some dinner. We were too tired to cook/eat somewhere else! *laughs*


Continue to >> Melbourne Day 4: Dandenong Ranges & Yarra Valley
<< Back to Melbourne Day 2: Prahran Market & Outlet Shopping at DFO

P.S: Download our Melbourne Itinerary 2015 Printable (PDF to be added when this series has been completed) or visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Melbourne, Australia and other travel itineraries! =)
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