Facing a New Year

So we've come the end of yet another year.

I leave you with the question above that is stuck onto my cubicle wall:
What would you pack to pursue a dream and what would you leave behind?

I will be taking time to answer this question this weekend and to reflect on my hopes, dreams and purposes for 2011. I suspect some decluttering is due.

Have a wonderful 2011 people. May the new year bring you much joy and contentment!

Over Freshly Brewed Coffee

A girlfriend came by my office to meet me for lunch. We then popped to a friend's place for an after-lunch coffee. She was nursing a cold and holed up at home.

We each had a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Upon the girlfriend's recommendation, I chose the Ristretto. I was slightly worried it would have a sourish taste that I hate in coffees (that's why I usually choose to have mochas or a coffee-tea mix). Thankfully it didn't, and was actually rather pleasant. I finished my cuppa!

The coffee break was perhaps made more pleasant because of the company and the lovely home we were drinking the coffee in. (How do people keep their homes so very pretty and neat all the time?!)

These 2 friends - one is single and the other married without kids - have been hanging out quite a bit doing random things. As much as I love Bubbles dearly, I have to admit that I do miss those carefree pre-baby days! Oh, the freedom to travel at the drop of a hat, to take 2-hour naps in the middle of the day, to hang out over late dinner and drinks whenever one felt like it, to shop at leisure.

Having a baby does somewhat put a stop to living life spontaneously. If you are like me, someone who thrives on doing things on the fly, the new structured lifestyle can sometimes feel too regimented and restrictive.

Thankfully, I have managed to carve out bits of space for spontaneity every now and then. Having freshly brewed coffee with lovely friends counts :)

The Love Dare

My lil sis bought Roboman and I The Love Dare book for Christmas. 

As quoted from the book's website:
The Love Dare personally leads you through daily devotionals, records your thoughts and experiences, and ends each day daring you to perform a simple act of love for your spouse. This 40-Day journey equips you to melt hardened, separated hearts into an enduring love that can withstand the flames of fear, pride and temptation. The Love Dare book will help you reinforce and enrich your marriage, earn back a love you thought was lost, and hear more about the One who not only designed unconditional, sacrificial love—He illustrated it.

I was going to start doing the Dares on the 1st of January, but as I glanced through it yesterday, I thought we might as well start immediately (why not, right?) Our marriage is in a good place right now, thankfully, despite the major changes in our lives (Bubbles being the crux of it all) in the past year. But we are conscious that we cannot take what is good for granted, and need to keep sharpening the saw.

So Roboman and I read the 1st devotional on Patience last night, and are both on the 1st dare today. In short, we are not to say anything negative to our spouse for a day.

He says he'll have no problem. He'll just not say anything! LOL yeah right =D

Anyway, it seems to be a pretty neat thing to do - let's see how we keep it up for 40 days! Stay tuned!

Road Trip Affairs

Other than during Chinese New Year when the roads up to Malaysia are notoriously jammed and we choose to fly, we like to drive up to KL visit my in-laws. This recent trip up to attend a cousin's wedding and to stay over Christmas was no different.

Driving up allows us flexibility of packing things in. We usually fill the boot to the brim there and back. We can afford to bring in creature comforts like a variety of toys and shoes (For me. haha!). This time, we also brought home tins of Karihome Growing Up Milk powder that Bubbles takes. It costs about S$10 cheaper per tin!

We never rush and drive safe. Door to door, we take around 6 hours, including a 45-60 min break in between.

Bubbles is an excellent traveller. Give her a few of her favourite plushies, and she's a happy bunny. She talks to them and then sleeps for most of the journey. She wakes up at our pit-stop for a little meal (usually some biscuits or bread and a drink), a diaper change and a run around. I've realised that she does not have appetite for her usual pasta or rice porridge while travelling, so she gets a bigger breakfast prior to the journey, and more milk along the way.

Here she is at the pit-stop on the way home, happily carrying her keropok handbag (as she calls it), that she insists on hanging from the crook of her arm!

A New Neighbour?

We arrived back from KL last evening with me nursing (still) a stuffy nose, a sore throat, and a throbbing headache. Got a text from a Kiwi cousin whom we are supposed to meet up with tonight and read that both she and her husband are also down with a cold. Must have been the same bug we caught over the Christmas festivities in Malaysia!

Anyway, I woke up this morning and decided that I had better work from home. I shouldn't be spreading this bug to the office folks. Dreadfully, sometime at mid-day there were brain numbing drilling and knocking sounds from next door. I took a peek out of our front door and realised that we are going to get new neighbours! The apartment next to us has been empty since we moved in almost 3 years ago.

New neighbours for the new year! Prayfully we get nice ones! I hope to bake them something when they move in. Exciting! :)

Till after Christmas, Rocking Horse!

Rock Rock Rock

With her 3 favourite furry friends :)

We're on a 10-day trip to KL. This much-loved rocking horse obviously had to be left behind. As it is, we already lugged so much stuff up.

Thankfully (for Bubbles and for us), we managed to pack in Eeyore, Bear and Pup (ok naming plushies is not my forte! Maybe Bubbles will do better next time).

Roboman has asked me to turn off my data roaming so as not to incur the kind of charges I did during our last trip up. Boo hoo! It feels really weird not to get instant connectivity. I'm looking on the bright side. At least there's wireless in the house!

I'll be back probably a kilogram or two heavier, from the daily feasting that has already begun. Tubby tubby flab flab. Mmm. Yums

What one does with a Phone

It wasn't this phone but you get the idea.
Bubbles borrowed my sister's phone and walked around the house chatting away in a knowing manner.

There were baby sentences in many forms, pauses to 'listen' (it was after all a conversation), and accompanying facial expressions which ranged from happiness to excitement to quizzical frowns. Hand gestures were thrown in once in a while.

At the end of the animated conversation, she walked up to the both of us and gave an instruction:
Pok Cart!

Erm, what do you mean, dear?
We were puzzled.

Pok Cart!
She repeated earnestly, looking from my sister to me pleadingly while holding up the phone.

Sorry dear, we don't understand!
Just what does she want?

Pok Cart!
She said again in exasperation, and tried to put the phone INTO THE BACK OF HER DIAPER.

My sister and I unanimously exclaimed before rolling with laughter.
The little one grinned with pleasure at being understood!

*Reading this conversation makes me giggle all over again!

Me and my Knapsack

Sack! she says, referring to this little bag
Bubbles can finally use this cutest little bag given by a friend a couple of months ago. Doesn't she look all grown-up now and almost ready for school?

I just have to say it again because it hits me every now and then: They grow up waaay too fast.

My heart aches in a strange way.

Eczema Update: Lacto GG

I wrote an account about Coping with my Child's Eczema. You might want to read that post first, as it links to this page, and my other posts on Eczema.


I thought I'll do a little update on Bubbles' Eczema situation: 

Since the last skin prick test entry, I received advice from mothers whose children have eczema. It does seem to be a pretty common thing to have. Mothers shared with me how they helped their children cope with it, what products they used, and which doctors were good. Thank you to those who took time to share your experiences with me!

As 2 different doctors all felt that her eczema was unlikely food related, I needed to find other remedies.

Moisturising plays a big part in the treatment of eczema. The 2 most common moisturizers that were recommended to me are: California Baby Calendula Cream, and Physiogel Cream (or Physiogel AI Cream for more serious cases). I used an entire tub of the California Baby Calendula Cream, and a whole tube of PD-prescribed Eczera Cream. Both helped to keep her skin moisturized but did nothing to stop the eczema flare-ups. 

Many mothers switch to skin-friendly bath gels from the above-mentioned brands, or others like the ranges from Cetaphil, Seba Med and QV. We used Cetaphil for quite a while.

A mother also shared with me an old Chinese remedy of boiling bitter gourd vines and letting Bubbles soak in the solution. I really wanted to try this but could not find bitter gourd vines. A call to a local vegetable farm had me rebuffed!

After one really bad episode of eczema flare-up (weepy, crusty and bloodied skin), and seeing how Bubbles was obviously in discomfort, I whisked her off to see Dr JC as recommended by a friend and many others on the motherhood forums.

With his clinic's own bath gel (which contains Almond extract), and creams, her eczema cleared up in a week! Bubbles suddenly had a surge of energy, which made us realise just how much the itch and general discomfort was bothering her. I later found out that one of the creams had a small amount of steroid, which I wanted to avoid, but seeing how the eczema cleared up I was happy to use it just for that one week. The other creams are just moisturizers.

Dr JC also prescribed something which research has shown is lacking in the guts of babies and children who suffer from Eczema. It is a strand of probiotics - called Lactobacillus GG. It has been found that by supplementing the body with this strand of probiotics, many recover from Eczema conditions over a short time. 

We have therefore been giving Bubbles a capsule-full of this every day. We hide it in her yoghurt or dip bananas in.

And so a miracle has happened (in my books). The combination of Dr JC's bath gel, creams, and Lacto-GG has kept Bubbles Eczema-free for a couple of weeks already.

We're so thankful for this outcome!


Jee Gee! she says affirmatively, when I tell her she's a Cheeky one.

Thanks for all the words of concern about my current mess.

Although I say 'current', it really is a result of longstanding circumstances that I cannot change, and the recent weeks of no rest and time for myself knocked me off balance and the downward spiral began. While I recognise the need to steel myself to respond to the situation I'm in with positivity, and for most times I have managed to, I somehow could not cope with a recent amalgamation of events.

I hesitate to say that I am depressed, for that is a big word, but I'm definitely feeling nagging tiredness and a sense of despair that is different and much darker than what I have ever experienced.

I've put a stop to the increasing amounts of coffee I've been sustaining myself on, and have started taking Vitamin B supplements. Both of these seem to lift my mood a little. I'm also hoping to start an exercise routine again but this is more challenging given that I don't have much time and the recent rainy season has put a stop to my go-to choice of hitting the pool.

Thankfully, I know that God is with me, and that He truly understands just what is happening in my life. He is the one I turn to these days when I really am unable to explain to people what is going on in totality. Thankfully too, He has given me Roboman, who has shown deep concern and patient understanding, although it is clear that this is a battle I need to fight mostly on my own.

Bubbles has been learning Psalm 23. This is her take on it, said with much enthusiasm:

Me: The Lord is my...

Me: I shall not be in...

Me: He makes me lie down in still...
B: PAR PES! (this one needs a bit more work. haha)

Indeed He is my Shepherd and I will be comforted. My little girl will be reminding me of this wonderful truth!


Have you been very busy? A friend asked.

As always with such questions, I simply said yes. Well, I probably have been, for the last 3 weeks or so, with work deadlines and the bustle of daily living (which happens to include a wedding and a funeral wake)

More than busyness though, I have been in a bit of a mess. Not an obvious mess like if you meet me you'll think she's a nutcase kind of mess, but one that is private, quiet and hidden. One that causes me to crave solitude, rest and sleep. To run away to be in another place.

I have felt this way before, and remember holing myself up in my wardrobe as a kid, just to be alone.

My brain tells me that I probably need more exercise and time for prayer.
It is being propped up right now by increasing amounts of caffiene I am feeding into my system.

I hope this mess will unravel itself soon and not tighten into knots.