MS. ULB

a Mother in Search of the Unbearable Lightness of Being


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Confessions of a Shopaholic

If you have checked out Olive’s instagram account @sophie.leeze, you would know how deeply poisoned I am by instagram and the ig shopping that comes with.

Truth is, I never liked shopping. I am calculative when it comes to personal spending. I share a cupboard with the husband and his clothes outnumbers mine. I probably take up only 1/5 the space of our humble little shoe cabinet. Bags? What bags? At this point in time, I don’t even know what bags I own because the only thing I carry around is a basic black Gregory backpack which turns out to be my most trusted diaper bag. To me, the opportunity cost of buying a “lowest-tiered” Birkin bag equates to 2 holiday destinations with a minimum 2 weeks each travel plus a high-end compact camera to go with.

Not that I don’t indulge in everyday or affordable luxury but I simply do not have the heart to purchase luxury goods beyond the premium core category in Rambourg’s luxury power ranking.

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Source: “The Bling Dynasty” by Erwan Rambourg

I also do not have the guts to invest in luxury goods, even if statistics reveal that a super premium bag could be a better investment than S&P 500 or gold.

Anyway, the real point I am making is that after giving birth to Olive, something in me snapped. More accurately described by Oska, the woman in me had been unleashed and I became a shopaholic. But the crazy shopping is really just for Olive, not for me.

My family is judging me for Olive’s different daily outfits and why wouldn’t they? Even I think it is outrageous for a baby, now toddler to have more than 365 sets of clothes a year. But I am an addict. A full blown addict who is willing to spend 150USD on a teeny weeny piece of clothing that Olive would outgrow in a flash. An addict who wakes up at 3 am in the morning to score some handmade one-of-a-kind clothing. An addict who refreshes a window or multiple pages a hundred over times, 5 minutes before new products are launched from brands highly sought after by equally crazed mothers. An addict who requires interventions from friends. The interventions did help put things into perspective for me and withheld a significant amount of spending. I think my severe addiction has been reduced to a somewhat moderate level and my compulsiveness is a lot more controlled now.

But still, I don’t think I am ever going to quit shopping for Olive and dressing her up. I will however, endeavor to minimize the spending by:

  1. Setting a limit to how much I will spend on her clothes each month;
  2. Buying affordable, comfortable yet stylish clothes;
  3. Encouraging more reminders and interventions from family and friends to prevent me from backsliding. Continue to judge me if you will, especially if you are judging because you care!

On point number 2, I have decided to shop small and support local labels/businesses in both Singapore and Indonesia. The latter will be part of my ongoing conquer-Jakarta-and-beyond project. I will set up a page to feature the ig shops I shopped at for Olive without breaking the bank.


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Every Day is Mother’s Day

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So we all know how kids learn by imitating the people around them. Increasingly so, whenever I look at Olive, I find a mini me or a mini Oska staring right back at me. She copies our every move, every facial expression, and the way we speak, so quickly that even our bad habits we don’t want her to learn gets picked up by her readily. Having to model our best behaviors all the time when we are around Olive is no mean feat. And I have to admit that sometimes my subconscious gets the better of me or I simply slip up because my brain just does not have the capacity to be on its toes for all of Olive’s waking hours.

Mimicry is such a powerful tool that helps our children develop a vast array of abilities and skills. I make use of “mimicry” a lot whenever I want to get Olive to learn something new or do something she might be apprehensive about. I hug, pet, and touch all kinds of animals and insects, sing and dance myself silly, take on all sorts of rides and obstacle courses at play spaces or amusement parks, jump, roll, climb, and engage in different sports and activities, run into crashing waves and huge falling water buckets, etc. etc. etc. First name Mama, middle name Maniac. Yup, that’s me.

So this Mother’s Day, 8th May 2016, Olive and I went swimming. She recently developed a dislike for water running down her face so I tried to convince her that it was OK by putting my head under a water fountain. Immediately, she cried out “No! Mama! No!” and wiped the water off my face with her tiny little hand, afraid that the water might sting my eyes like it did hers. I cleared the lump in my throat and said to her, ” It’s OK baby. Thank you for being so sweet. Mama loves you.”

With Olive around, and with her little acts of kindness and sweetness, every day is more special than a set date we call Mother’s Day.

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A Wean-Win Situation

So I have finally decided to wean Olive off the boobs after 16 months.

I was doing 3 direct latches a day, once when she wakes in the morning, once midday before her nap, and the last one at night before she sleeps.

Weaning Week 1
First week of weaning, I dropped Olive’s afternoon feed and this was how she fared on the first day (7th Mar 2016):

Week 1 was a trying week, both emotional and literally. We tried quite a few brands of formula milk like S26, Friso, Naan, and finally emerged the winning formula, Similac. Olive missed a couple of afternoon naps that week because my boobs doubled up as binkies, so no binky, no sleep! By day 4, I broke down and teared up along with Olive who sobbed herself into slumber.

Weaning Week 2
By day 8, Olive had grown accustomed to Similac, so I dropped her morning feed. She didn’t mind it a bit. I, on the other hand, was still heartbroken and battled the desire to just flash the boob to nurse her. My frustration was noticed by Oska who asked me, “you are jealous of the formula, right?” Spot on, Mister! And damn you third-party Similac, with your oh-so-sweet taste. Imma bitchslap the powder out of your pretentious looking tin! There, I got it out of my chest. I know I sound crazy but our breastfeeding journey had been nothing short of amazing, making it really hard to part with. As usual, Olive outdid me with her adaptability. This is her doing the huzzah on day 8 (14th Mar 2016) of weaning:

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Little Miss Adaptable and her airport fashion: Headband from H&M, Tutu dress from Bonds, Shoes from Converse.

Weaning Week 3
By day 14, I had stopped the night feed. Dropping the night feed was as tough as week 1 of weaning because Olive relied heavily on night latches to go to sleep. She would pull up my shirt, pull down my collar, burrow her head into my chest, toss and turn over my body countless times for 30 minutes to an hour before finally drifting off to sleep. I gave in to her a couple of times that week when no amount of fussing could wear her out.

Week 3 was less emotional but physically uncomfortable for me as I had to deal with a few bouts of engorgement. Thankfully they were quite quickly resolved by some ruthless hand-squeezing of the boobies. I chose not to use the breast pump as I did not want the milk supply to keep up with the demand from using the pump.  It also helped that our weaning process was gradual and not done cold turkey, so both Olive and I had time to adjust.

Alas, we concluded our breastfeeding journey officially by day 17. Our new night-time routine now involves her lying on top of me, requesting for “Rock-a-bye baby” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” to be sung repeatedly, and calling out to me in the sweetest voice ever so often, just to make sure I don’t fall asleep before her.

“Mama, mummy, mimi, mama, mummy, mimi,” a thousand times over. These words I will never tire of hearing.

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Successfully weaned Olive doing the hooray again.

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Thank you Olive, for creating a rather painless wean-win situation together with your mama-mummy-mimi.


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Baking 101

Truth is, I’m not the domesticated wife/mama who can whip up fancy dishes or bake up a storm and God knows, so He surrounded me with people who excel in either one or both.

To give you some perspective of how “well” I cook, here’s possibly my best dish so far, prepared together with Oska. Behold the stir fried beef noodles:

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Over stirred broken noodles. In my defence, it tasted quite yummy. Uglily yummy.

There was also the ‘Crab in the bag’ dish which I really should not claim much credit for. My brother, the aspiring chef, did most of the work and I just replicated the second batch. Heck it! I need to claim a tad bit of credit or at least an A for effort, right?

 

So if I can’t cook or bake for nuts but want to impart some important life skills to Olive, what do I do? I outsource, of course!

My sister, who bakes like an artist, did a baking 101 session for Olive and I, and I am documenting it below for future reference.

Baking for Dummies: Sugar Cookies

Recipe:
3.5 cups of plain flour (450g)
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 egg
2 sticks of butter (or 1 block of butter; 227g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
*optional

Step 1: Give your teacher the cheekiest face so she will be lenient on you. Also, get mama to preheat the oven at 170°C.IMG_0340Step 2: Beat butter and sugar together, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until just combined. Add egg and mix until well combined.

Step 3: Mix in flour and knead the dough. Ask for help if you refuse to get your hands dirty, but get your hands dirty anyway.IMG_0351Step 4: Roll the dough as evenly as you can. If this 17 months toddler can do it better than her mama, so can you!

Step 5: Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the most dramatic way, just to show how good you are at cutting out shapes.

Step 6: Bake your cookies at 170°C. Leave out to cool for a bit. Coat them with icing and decorate them with your assortment of sprinkles and TA-DA!

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Can you spot Olive’s naked bear? Hurray to Olive’s first bake and first cookie at 17 months small!


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SAHM

7 months into my new role as a stay-at-home mom and I am still not at peace with myself. I think I have fared pretty well at being a mom but what if I fail at everything else?

So much of how I feel and what I am experiencing articulated here: 9 things I wish I’d known before I became a stay-at-home mom.

  1. Confidence took a big hit. Checked.
  2. World shrunk. Checked.
  3. Cringe when asked, “So what do you do?”. Checked.
  4. Not setting the best example for my kid. Checked.
  5. Exhausted from staying at home with a young child. Checked, and for me it’s more a mental state than a physical one.
  6. Envious of women who had found their own work/life balance. Checked.
  7. Forever damaged my financial future. Checked, checked, and checked. This one pains me real deep.
  8. I love the time spent with Olive and I am extremely grateful for it but I fear that I am actually regretting leaving the workforce, like I expected I would.
  9. Everything has its price. Me being a SAHM is proving to be too costly.

So what next? What do I do moving forward? How can I find myself again? Not the mom-me but the me-me. How can I find the unbearable lightness of being when I feel like a huge rock is weighing down on me?

Note to self: Just gotta work it.

Olive @ 13 months.

Olive @ 13 months. Onesie from @helloapparel, socks from @minidressing, kicks from @adidas, headwrap from @littlearrowco.


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Lest We Forget

Olive’s Birth Story

13th Oct 4am: Started experiencing Braxton Hicks.

14th Oct 10pm: Regular contractions commenced. 40 seconds to a minute of pain, 5 minutes interval.

14th Oct 11pm: Admitted to the hospital. 2cm dilated. Enema administered.

14th Oct 2am: Needed rest and sleep badly but the pain was getting to me. Caved and signed the indemnity form for epidural.

14th Oct 3am: 4-5cm dilated.

14th Oct 5am: 7cm dilated.

14th Oct 7.30am: 10cm dilated. Pushing with the encouragement of the oldest nurse/midwife in Singapore started. Comically choked while exerting, spat at her, and laughed like a mad woman.

14th Oct 8.15am: Nurse called for the Doc and Olive was delivered at 0838hrs after 2 rounds of contractions/pushing.

No birth plan, just went with the flow, and eternally grateful for the very encouraging and supportive husband who stuck by me the whole time.

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#Maythefourthbewithyou

Heart.melt.now.

Romper & Socks from @hubbleandduke; Moccasins from @freshlypicked.

Romper & Socks from @hubbleandduke; Moccasins from @freshlypicked.