Pregnancy Survival Kit

No, I’m NOT pregnant. But a friend is and I wanted to give her something special.

Gifts for expectant mums tend to revolve around baby-related stuff. Mittens, booties, onesies, diaper cake and toys – they are all meant for baby! Mums do all the hard work of growing baby for 40 weeks, so Mums deserve some good pampering too.

I like giving out special kits as presents as they are more personalised and recipient-oriented. Though they require slightly more effort and time to assemble, these kits are not only budget-friendly but also more thoughtful and impactful for the recipient. That’s what a present should represent! In short, when making a gift kit, embrace the person in your heart and mind, and you’ll churn out a gift that will be cherished and remembered.

I have so far made Energy Jars for E’s teacher’s assistants, a Girl’s Survival Kit for a friend’s sister, a Cuddle Kit for 2, and a Pamper Kit for another friend.

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image4So I decided to make my first Pregnancy Survival Kit for this special friend. It’s actually an a pregnancy enhancement kit but that makes it sound a little too commercialised, like some products of herbs and whatnots from a maternity centre. So “Survival” it is!

These are the things I have included in the kit:

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  1. Berry & Nut Mix – Being a busy working mum of one, this is for her to snack on whenever the hunger pangs strike while she’s out and about.
  2. Chocolate – Who doesn’t love chocolates? It’s for her to indulge in after a hectic day. I particularly like this brand as it’s really tasty! One bite and you’ll be smitten. The Dark Chocolate with Seasalt flavour is equally good too.
  3. Cocoa Butter – Let’s admit it; who actually finishes the entire bottle of stretchmark cream or oil during their pregnancy? This comes in a compact, handbag-friendly size for tackling dry skin on the go. Besides stretchmark, it can also be used to moisturise other parts of the body too.
  4. Coconut Water – Sipping it during the last trimester is known to help with an easy labour. Since I can’t be there to buy her some fresh coconut juice, this is another good alternative I have found. It’s 100% pure natural coconut water. Yum, refreshing!
  5. Energy Bar – Tried and tested, it’s my quick go-to breakfast, especially when I’m heading out for a workout or school drop-off early in the morning. This is for her to munch when she can’t sit down for a wholesome breakfast.
  6. Pregnancy Tea – This is for her to sip on while she sits back with a book and enjoy some quiet me-time.
  7. Peaceful Sleep Oil Blend – As it does get harder to sleep towards the end of pregnancy, this is to help her decompress and sleep better every night, in preparation for the busy months ahead!
  8. Chips – Mmmmm…cheese nachos! This is for her to indulge in while she snuggles up with her other half and watch a movie. Baby will be super duper wriggly with this yummy treat!
  9. Photo Frame – This is for her to display one of her ultrasound pictures or a photo of her baby bump. SMILE!
  10. Gentle Birth Method Book – This is for her to browse through and ponder on the tips on having a pleasant pregnancy and a shorter, easier labour.

I purchased #1 to #7 from iHerb.com. Just click, pay and wait for your stuff to arrive at your doorstep. Very easy! If you’d like to order from iHerb, do remember to use my discount code IQO564 (O in alphabet, not numeric) to receive US$5 off for your first purchase below US$40 and US$10 for purchase above that.

Pack & Wrap
Once you have gathered your items of choice, just find a nice, sturdy box. Daiso, IKEA and Tchibo offer good range of boxes in varying sizes. Or use the pretty boxes that you got from buying fragrances, toiletries and mooncakes. Alternatively, you may also make do with mason jars if your items are smaller. The one I used here was an office box from IKEA. She can use it to store other things after this.

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Remember to enlist the items for you friend to further understand what they are for. For a touch of personalisation, you may also hand-write them in post-it notes and just stick them to each item. I don’t have nice handwriting, hence I typed it out and stuck it onto the box lid.

Then, wrap up the box or tie a ribbon bow around it and voila, the kit is ready! It’s great as a gift for baby shower too.

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I hope my friend will like this. Would you be happy if you were to receive a gift like this too?

 

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Defining 2013: a year to remember

Yes, this post came a tad late as we are well into the first week of 2014 already. The donkey in me has been procrastinating a lot, preferring to read and laze around instead of blog whenever I had the time. In fact, December was really hectic – with the Toddlercalm course, school term break, Christmas celebration and friends visiting from Malaysia.

Nonetheless, a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all. May your 2014 be filled with good health, much gratitude and abundant joy!

For me, 2013 was an eventful year to remember. It came and went in a swish, so much so that I find it hard to believe that my eldest will be 4 soon, and that we have been in Dubai for almost a year.

Here’s a summary of my 2013’s best and worst moments:

Happiest moment– When we finally settled down and moved into our current home. Also when E and Xan started to enjoy each other’s company.

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Bravest moment – When we decided to break out of our comfort zone and moved to the Middle East in search of a better quality of life and education for the family.

Most tear-jerking moment – When E ran into Hubby’s arms upon seeing him at the arrival hall of Dubai International Airport after being apart for 28 days.

Most grateful moment – When our family of 4 gathered for a Thanksgiving dinner and started a tradition of jotting down what each of us was grateful for on the tablecloth.

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Most life-awakening moment – When E shoved a parenting book to me after a squabble with him, saying “Mommy, you need to read this book on how to be a better mommy”

Saddest moment – When Hubby didn’t plan much for my birthday and our anniversary. He made up to me by throwing a very memorable post-anniversary celebration.

Most guilty / depressing moment(s) – When I yelled and spanked my kids.

Proudest moment – Flying back to Dubai with two kids on my own. Also when I drove to Abu Dhabi with them. Never knew I had such courage!

Most “I’m a woman, hear me roar” moment – When I fired my first driving instructor who thought it was funny to intimidate women.

Most embarrassing moment – When E walked past a plus size woman in the park and said “Fat lady!” He didn’t mean to be rude or mean, just innocently honest. I had to apologize profusely to the woman whom thankfully, was a good sport. She just laughed it off.

Most shocking moment – When we discovered that one year of E’s nursery fees in Dubai could put a person through the entire degree course at a local university in Malaysia!

Most confusing moment – When we were hunting for a school for Ewan. The process of registering kids for schools here is tedious and expensive, with no guarantee of enrolment as the waiting lists are long. It’s almost like a gamble!

Most stressed out moment – The days leading up to my final road test to get a driving license here. Also a job interview which I completely screwed up! Time to get in touch with my career development.

Biggest achievement – Learning to cook a decent, wholesome meal for the family. I knew I have made it when my father-in-law, who was rather choosy with food, complimented on my cooking. Joey can cook!

Most fulfilling pet project – Planning Xan’s 1st birthday

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Biggest new possession – My spanking new Honda Jazz 2014 model that Hubby bought for me as our second car here. Small, sleek and smart!

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Best discovery – Apple cider vinegar! I used it as a hair conditioner and a facial toner. Also for consumption whenever I came down with an infection.

Newly adopted hobby – Balcony gardening

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Biggest unnecessary spent – The courier charges spent to get Xan’s party printables over from KL to Dubai. It was a miscommunication between the supplier, Fedex and I that cost us quite a big sum.

Most important lesson learned – Always have the terms & conditions agreed and understood by both parties before accepting a freelance job, even if the company belongs to a relative.

Best 3-step parenting tips on how to be a good mommy – As taught by Ewan: “1. Be happy with Ewan; 2. Play with Ewan; 3. Don’t be angry at Ewan”

Wisdom words of the yearI choose LOVE.

Toddlercalm – week 4

On the last week of the Toddlercalm course, we learned about setting up a positive relationship with food. This topic made me realised how I have been cultivating E with an unhealthy association with food. For a start, E wasn’t a fussy eater since young. The eating situation only got tricky recently when he started stating his preferences, which we ignored – of course! Thinking that eating is a necessity and should not be something negotiable, we used the conventional must-eat-everything-and-lick-clean approach all the time. “Eat quickly”, “Eat your vegetable”, “You’re not getting down until you finish your food” “Don’t want to eat? Go ahead and starve yourself” are common phrases heard at our dinner table. We have also tried the food-recycling method: if he does not finish his meal, it will be served to him the following meal and so on until he finishes all. Sometimes it took him over two hours to finish his dinner!

A negative relationship with food can lead to eating issues later on in life eg. binging when sad/happy, anorexia, obesity. This topic opened my eyes and taught me to implement a better approach in managing mealtimes with my kids:

► As adults, we choose what, when and how we eat. It should not be any different for children too.

► During a tricky eating situation, parents often feel frustrated. Coincidentally, if we really tune in, our child feels frustrated too.

► Toddlers are grazers. Like babies, they have the innate ability in knowing when and how much to eat. Studies showed that they regulate their energy intake by grazing (eating small amount of food throughout the day). They know how much their bodies need.

► What we taste may be different from what our toddler truly tastes. For instance, it may not be spicy/bitter to us, but it can be extremely spicy/bitter to the child.

► To curb the fear/concern of the child feeling hungry or not getting the appropriate nutrition, leave bowls of mom-approved snacks around the house. Have your child help himself to the fridge but first of all, you must ensure that whatever that’s in there are healthy and nutritious.

► Make mealtimes fun. Have the child determine how much he wants to eat by letting him scoop the amount of rice and allowing him to help himself to the dishes. Serve buffet style. Pretty bento once in a while. Let him help with cooking or food preparation. Once he’s done with eating, let him go. Always have healthy snacks on standby for your toddler.

Applying C.R.U.C.I.A.L. to eating

(C)ontrol – give choices: what food, colour selection, places to eat (big table, small table, picnic style?), when (now or later?)

(R)hythm – play a certain kind of music during mealtimes, set expectations, mealtimes routine (wash hand, set the table, scoop rice, bring plate to the table)

(U)nderstanding – Look deeper into why the child isn’t hungry or eating. Is he not feeling well? Is he under stress? Any changes to his lifestyle lately?

(C)ommunication – No praising for eating. Instead, see and say ie. “I see that you’re enjoying the broccoli!” or “I like it when you work very hard to feed yourself”

(I)ndividual – Find out their preferences. Respect them.

(A)voidance – Don’t rush mealtimes or plan something urgent right after mealtimes.

(L)ove – Protect the relationship between you, your child and food.

Recommended read this week:
Raising our children, raising ourselves by Naomi Aldort

Finale of Toddlercalm course

Jasmine, the teacher, wrapped up the course by sharing this with us:

“I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”

It was hard saying goodbye to Jasmine for all the knowledge she has imparted. As we were her very first Toddlercalm students, she decided to do this for free. In return, we bought her some gift vouchers as a thank you present.

In a nutshell, the Toddlercalm approach is simple, makes sense and easy to understand. It correlates with what I believe in. It teaches the fundamental skills of human interaction yet it doesn’t come across our minds to do the same with our kids. However, it also requires gigantic amount of patience and empathy from parents to successfully execute and live the Toddlercalm approach.

My progress
Thanks to Toddlercalm, I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. I have dropped my previous parenting style and switched to empathic parenting. Albeit highly challenging, I find it working wonders with E especially when we incorporate the playful parenting approach. To date, the ugly, shouting/spanking incidents have decreased substantially although I still snap once in a while. E has become more cooperative, more willing to try and less whiny. He’s a lot more pleasant to be with now.

One particular incident is worth remembering. It was a hectic and tiring day for me. After being the mom I have always envisioned myself to be for three weeks, I lost it. As usual, I was exhausted from lack of sleep. E started getting on my nerves when he whined for my attention despite my playing with him just a while ago. It was getting late already, Hubby would be home soon and I hadn’t cooked. As I was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen, I heard E whining louder and louder, then came running into the kitchen – half naked – with tears in his eyes. “My pee pee came out on the floor,” he said.

Kns, I cursed. Another episode of play-first-pee-later. I was furious because that meant more work for me. As I tried to contain my anger, I saw Xan sitting on his pool of pee, splashing away. “Stay calm, breathe breathe breathe” I got E some tissues to clean up the floor. All hell broke loose when he wiped his face with his pee-stained hand while cleaning. I went berserk seeing that. To think about it now, I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t an emergency, was it?

I screamed at the top of my lungs and showered both of them for the third time that day. I let my emotions got the better of me, spanked and scolded him. Daddy came home from work, took over the situation and I calmed down. I lectured E repeatedly, asking “How many times do you want to pee on the floor?” To which he replied, “How many times do you want to scold me, Mommy?”

I was taken aback by his question. It was like a hard slap on my face. I felt ashamed for needing a three-year old to shake me into senses. Proud that he’s finally confident in speaking his mind to me, which means he knows his feelings are safe with me. True enough, how many more times do I want to scream and punish him? Did I not learn from my lesson? When is enough, enough?

That night, I decided to dedicate my full, undivided effort in practising the Toddlercalm approach. I decided to take a break from things that distract me and take my attention away from my kids the most – Facebook and Instagram – for the next one month. I want to be an empathic mum. I will be one, soon.