Breastfeeding - the lil man's first year

Dear Alex,

You are the sucker. Yes, you. You were a proficient sucker the moment you were born. After you emerged and got kissed, weighed and all the what-nots, you were presented with the life-giving boobies you are all too familiar with now. Though it was your first meeting with them, you knew what you had to do instinctively. Men and mammary glands have that sort of connection perhaps. Ok, ok, you have stronger survival instincts compared to your sister who couldn't latch properly till she was a month old.

But there you were. Barely an hour old, with mummy still recuperating at the recovery room after the c-section. You were doing so well the mid-wife and other nurses came to watch your marvellous performance, all lauding your ability to "suck so well". Apparently, very few people want to latch their babies that early after delivery - you are a lucky little fella you know? :)

You had no qualms sharing your milk supply with your sis. That is good because you know, the-one-who-bullies-you-every-day-now is the reason why you had milk to drink the moment you were born - your sis continued to take mummy's milk all the time that you were taking your time to grow inside.

You started off really well, sleeping through a stretch of 5-6 hours in the second month and gave mommy some peace and uninterrupted sleep for a few months. And then we shifted and you decided that you would start growing teeth all at the same time and you just had to get mommy's boobs to keep you company at night when you couldn't sleep properly. Trudging over to pick you up and put you back in your cot a few times a night is just too much for mommy, and you know it. That must have been your ploy - to get to co-sleep with us every night after your first middle-of-the-night summon to pick you up. I know that Sealy Posturepedic is much more comfortable than your foam mattress, and that is why you cry every night an hour or two into your sleep in your cot. Who can fault you, the discerning one? But try not to get too used to it, ok?

On and off, you didn't do your job properly and caused blocked ducts, which is really very painful by the way. And I really think that I'd rather eat cabbage the way that normal people do rather than have them on my body. But there was this once I just couldn't blame you because you were so ill with bronchiolitis and you had difficulty latching on to drink. Not blaming you didn't solve the problem of blocked ducts of course. Fortunately, your sister came to the rescue though she had already given up the privilege of drinking from mommy.

You know, I just have to tell you that I love to watch you while you drink milk, that innocent but cheeky little face waving your hands around - that's before you drift off to lala-land - and how you would try to trap my hand between your armpit and body just to make sure that I stay next to you on the bed after you fall asleep. You do have rather sweaty armpits sometimes, though I'm glad they don't smell half as bad as *ahem*, mine. I escape of course from your 'clutches' eventually, but I do love that feeling of being wanted and needed by your tiny little soul.

I know you hate the milk bottle and formula milk. Your daddy said that you might grow stronger if you took a little of formula but you flatly refuse, clamping down firmly on the teat. Nothing could change your heart and mind about it, even until now, after you have turned one.

How long are you going to continue to want mommy's milk? Your sister went on for four years and it has been more than five years of booby-duty for me. But take your time to think about it, son. Mommy will be here for you till you decide that you have had enough milk - from me. Just try to cut me some slack at night, yah?


A timely reminder - a poem for busy parents

Sharing a poem I read that really tugged at my heartstrings... 
How many of us are guilty of telling our children, '"I'll do that later with you" or "I don't have time for that now"? 
Personally, I just need reminders like this every once a while to get back to the reality of being a mother, learn to slow down the pace of life and simply connect with the children wholeheartedly. How many more years do I have left with them that they will look up to me as the centre of their universe? I gather, not that many left seeing how fast children grow up these days, so I'd better enjoy the moments when they invite me to be part of their lives before the exciting world takes over and it's their turn to say, 
"Sorry, Mom, not today."

“To My Grown-Up Son”
My hands were busy through the day,
I didn’t have much time to play
The little games you asked me to,
I didn’t have much time for you.
I’d wash your clothes; I’d sew and cook,
But when you’d bring your picture book
And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I’d say, “A little later, son.”
I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers, turn out the light,
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.
For life is short, and years rush past,
A little boy grows up so fast,
No longer is he at your side,
His precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away,
There are no children’s games to play,
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands once busy, now lie still,
The days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
The little things you asked me to.

by Alice E. Chase (March 8, 1986)

Activities to go with The Perfect Square by Michael Hall

The Perfect Square tells the story of a square who made the best of whatever happened to him and eventually found great contentment being the square that he was. A wonderful read for not just children, but adults as well, a reminder that no matter what happens to us, we make the best of the situation and find our own happiness as the square did eventually at the end of the story.

Now here's what we did for this interesting book - not as comprehensive as my other posts on literature-based learning though! :)

We tried to replicate the story to see if we could re-create the square in those ways in the book.
We did this activity over a few days as it requires quite a bit of time and stamina.

Using a piece of drawing block, I cut out 6 squares and got her to paint them in the colours the square appeared on the book.

We used water colours so that we could get a softer feel and blend of colours
For younger children, this would be a good time to teach colours apart from just doing the painting.

Completed squares in the process of drying

The squarish book and our paintings

Using the hole puncher for the first time

Arranging her shapes she cut out from her square to form the picture in the book


More fine motor skills involved - tearing the square into pieces

drawing in the details found in the book

Fill in the missing words with the stickers provided
Pasting in the missing words
Our completed version


These are the words/ phrases I found that needed some explaining/ revision:

'shattered', 'babbled', 'torn into scraps' vs 'shredded in strips', 'ripped', 'crumpled', 'wrinkled', 'confining', 'rigid', 'cramped'

Extension activity:
Piet Mondrian-inspired art:

I pasted black tape on half a sheet of drawing block, set up the colours that Piet Mondrian used in his famous work, and got her to view examples of Piet Mondrian art on the tablet, leaving a sample next to her so that she could focus on her task.

Painting squares and rectangles

The completed piece of art which is now the cover of her A4-sized scrapbook where I stick the pictures and paintings she does in school and at home.

Other ideas that you can tap on after reading the book (for younger children):
  • Days of the week - you can re-read The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as well for reinforcement
  • Colours 
  • Shapes 
  • Story sequencing - ask the child what happened to the square on the various days and what the square became as a result.
Hope you have fun!


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