Aly’s first steps

Today’s the day! Aly took her first steps! And I was around again!

It all started with her being comfortable enough to stand without support and trying to get us to clap each time she manages to do it. Then once, she was standing about a metre away from the coffee table when she decided to take a few steps forward, towards the coffee table, without any help!!

Ever since then, we have been trying to get her to repeat her “stunt”. We are obviously more excited than her!

{Product Review} – Episencial Body Care Products

I was looking around for a suitable range of body care products for Aly because we had almost used up our then current bottle of 2 in 1 shampoo and body wash and I wanted to try something new.

Let us just say that I was sold when I got to know about the Episencial range of body care products and was thrilled when Babyonline offered to send me the Episencial Playful Foaming Wash and the Episencial Better Body Butter for me to try out.

I have a confession to make.

I was initially attracted to the Episencial range of products because of the cute packaging and the catchy names. I mean who can resist that bright coloured packaging and the artwork? Ok I’m superficial like that! If you find the artwork familiar, it’s because it is created by Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a popular children’s picture book.

Check out the cute artwork

Check out the cute artwork

Just to prove it’s not all just about looks for me, here are the reasons why I like the Episencial range of products.

First of all, this USA-made line of products uses only natural ingredients, which are mostly organic. I like that I can use the products with peace of mind, knowing that I am not putting anything harsh or chemical ridden on a baby’s delicate skin. I don’t exclusively use organic products and am generally fine with using non-organic products. However, I would say that I am rather particular about body care products because these come into direct contact with the baby’s skin and can be absorbed into the baby’s bloodstream.

I’m also impressed by the fact that the products are made using solar power and are packaged in recycled and sustainable materials. The bottles are also BpA and phthalate free. I am usually not such a “green” person but it’s reassuring to know that it’s something the people behind this brand believe in, which is consistent with their policy to manufacture chemical-free and natural products.

Best of all, these organic products are reasonably priced. Who says affordability and organic cannot go together? The Playful Foaming Wash retails at S$23.90 and the Better Body Butter retails at S$33.90.

EPISENCIAL PLAYFUL FOAMING WASH

The Playful Foaming Wash is a 2-in-1 hair and body cleanser which is “timeless, for all ages, 0 to 150 years” (this is printed on the bottle. I like their humour). I like that it foams up easily and I love its mild tangy citrus scent (from natural juice extracts) which leaves a nice and fresh after-bath scent. Aly loves it too! She’s been in love with oranges since she gets to eat quite a bit of them during Chinese New Year and last weekend, when i prompted her to put her hand (with soap) to her nose and asked if it smells like orange, she broke into a grin and nodded her head (and body) vigorously in the typical Aly’s “yes” fashion.

All smiles during bathtime

All smiles during bathtime

Aly is at the stage where she wants to bathe herself, so she will be busy helping to rub soap all over herself when I am bathing her. This means it’s inevitable that some soap will get into her eyes. The foaming wash is pH-balanced and is completely tear-free and quick rinsing which are considerations that rank high on my “things-to-look-out-for” list.

EPISENCIAL BETTER BODY BUTTER

I am really particular about body lotions because I really dislike those that are difficult to apply and which leave a greasy feel after application. I have the same high standards for baby moisturizer because I have to be the one applying it for Aly! This is why i love the Better Body Butter. It has a light texture (i.e. non-greasy), can be applied easily and smoothly and is absorbed easily into the skin.

It contains organic olive oil, shea butter and sunflower oil to restore natural skin lipids, and to prevent cradle cap and scaly skin. It also contains organic jojoba and avocado oils to help replenish essential fatty acid levels for proper hydration. As one of the natural ingredients is organic lavender oil, the better body butter has a light lavender scent, which has a soothing and calming effect on me (Yes, I have also been using the product!)

Aly is blessed with good skin but there will be dry patches on her thighs and ankles from time to time. It may be due to the fact that she sleeps in an air-conditioned room or because we often miss those areas but I have been using the body butter on her for about three weeks now and her skin has never been as smooth as now. No more dry patches! Oh, and can I just add that Aly also loves applying body butter to herself?

Aly loves the body butter too!

Aly loves the body butter too!

The only thing that I didn’t quite like about the products were that they didn’t have a pump. This means it can get a bit cumbersome because I have to free up both hands to open the bottle cap (which, to be fair, flips up easily) overturn the bottle, squeeze the bottle and put the bottle down before I can apply the cleanser or body butter on Aly. A pump would have been much more convenient and would leave me with a free hand (to hold on to a fidgety baby).

Overall, I am happy with the products and am looking to purchase their Nurturing Balm next! The Episencial range also includes the following products: Protective Face Balm SPF35, Sunny Sunscreen SPF35, Soothing Cream and Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath.

Now for the GOOD NEWS! There is an ongoing promotion at Babyonline for all Episencial products – a massive 30% discount off the original prices. This means that the Playful Foaming Wash costs only S$16.73 and the Better Body Butter costs only S$23.73 now! This promotion will end on 28 February 2013.

Do check out Babyonline’s website or drop by their retail outlet at Katong I12 (112 East Coast Road #B1-13) if you are interested in purchasing the products. While you are at it, do also like Babyonline’s facebook page so that you can be kept updated of their promotions!

Disclosure: I received a bottle of the Playful Foaming Wash and a bottle of the Better Body Butter for the purposes of this review. All opinions stated herein are my own.

Spread the Love!

It’s Valentine’s Day again!

I remember I really looked forward to Valentine’s Day in secondary school (even though I came from an all girls’ school). We called it “Friendship Day”. It was a day when we exchanged chocolates, handwritten notes, sweets, flowers etc. The morning of Friendship Day would always be a frenzied one, with everyone rushing around from classroom to classroom leaving little gifts and notes on friends’ tables. Most of us would leave school at the end of the day with a huge bag of gifts and a smile on the face.

I recall still keeping to the tradition of writing handwritten notes and giving out little gifts to my friends on Valentine’s Day when I started work, but I stopped after a while. I am not sure why and how, but it just stopped.

So this year, I wanted to get my close friends a little something, and I was considering what to get (it’s so difficult to buy gifts these days because most of us have almost everything) when I read a post written by June of Mamawearpapashirt on “Have you said “I love you” today?” . In this post, she wrote about a book entitled “i love you” written and illustrated by Tam Wai Jia. June has done a fantastic write-up on this book as well as the motivation for writing this book, so please do check out her post.

I was inspired that I contacted Cliff (Wai Jia’s husband) and Wai Jia (author and illustrator of the book) to order multiple copies. I thought this book would make such a suitable Valentine’s Day present!

Each book only costs S$12 and the funds raised from the sales will go towards helping abused and trafficked children in developing countries. It supports a great and worthy cause and makes for a great gift (even for your own spouse or your kid(s)).

Anyway, my point of writing this post is this. A post from June was able to inspire me to purchase ten copies of the book (thank you June!). So I was just thinking to myself, if I am also able to pass this on and (hopefully) inspire just one person to purchase a few books, and this message continues to get passed on, we will be able to help Cliff and Wai Jia fulfil their ambition of helping ministries which rescue and free children and women from prostitution and slavery. It sounds rather idealistic I know, but well, we can always start with small steps, and we can always dream!

So, how about getting a Valentine’s Day gift for someone and helping to spread the love? Here are a few pictures of the book with lovely illustrations!

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Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here is some information about how you can pick up copies of the book (which I extracted from Mamawearpapashirt’s website):

Pick up a copy from 7Kickstart Community Cafe at 50 Armenian Street #01-02 Wilmer Place (opposite Substation), Singapore 179938; or

Drop the couple an email at cliffnwaijia@gmail.com for multiple copies of the book.

Standing Tall and Proud

Aly reached another milestone today!! She stood on her own for close to a minute. Yay! And guess what? I was there to witness it, right in front of her, clapping and cheering her on, while she beamed proudly at me. Double yay!

It just happened. One moment she was holding on to her walker, the next moment she let go of her hand. We kept really quiet at the beginning because everytime she realised she was standing on her own, she will collapse into a heap. I attributed it to a confidence issue. But after a while, she was smiling at us and we decided to just clap for her and go “wowwwwww!” This time, she made the decision to bask in the attention and stood still for a really long time (“long time” is to be taken in context).

Good job Aly! I’m so proud of you! 🙂

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Happy Lunar New Year!

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Here’s wishing everyone a happy lunar new year from the pangz!!

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p.s I gave up trying to get a nice picture of Aly smiling. This is her default expression anyway :p I hope she grows out of this soon!

{Saturday Morning Snapshot} – Chinese New Year’s Eve

It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today! The day of last minute spring cleaning, last minute shopping and preparation for the important reunion dinner.

We spent the morning packing our home, preparing the red packets (for my friends overseas, these are (literally) red packets containing money, which are customarily given out by married couples during Chinese New Year – you can imagine why kids love Chinese New Year so much now) and putting up simple decorations.

We put this up on our front door this morning. It’a a decorative piece made up by the Chinese word 福 (which means bliss/happiness) and two snakes, because it is the year of the snake (a chinese zodiac sign) according to the lunar calendar.

All ready to bid goodbye to the year of the dragon and to usher in the year of the snake!

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Wee Stories

Here comes Aly!

I was at work today when my mum sent me this video clip of Aly walking with the help of a walker

I mentioned previously that she’s still not walking even though she’s cruising comfortably. In fact, we never allowed her to use the walker because she didn’t know how to use it and would often place her weight forward, so she ends up falling forward when the walker rolls forward too quickly.

So I was really happy to receive a message from my mum to say that aly finally can walk steadily with a walker! It was a milestone for her and this means she’s one step closer to walking on her own, without support! She can even walk backwards with the walker! Haha.

My heart was bursting at the seams with pride when I watched the video and feeling really glad that the moment was caught with a camera phone. At the same time though, I felt a little bitter that I wasn’t there to witness that milestone. It’s the usual FTWM guilt.

It reminded me of something I read recently – even though i cannot for the life of me remember where, a line which says “we didn’t give birth to children so other people can raise them”.

Although I’m one of the lucky few who have great support from both sets of grandparents who take turns to look after Aly, some days I do wish that I have more time with her than the usual evenings and weekends. Today was one of those days…

{Thankful Tuesdays} – Bedtime

I have the privilege of putting Aly to bed every night. It has been the case since day one. I pat her to sleep, I nursed her to sleep, and now I sing her a lullaby and lie beside her till she falls asleep.

I have to admit that there were times when I was exhausted, and when I would be rather be in the living room watching tv, or spending some me time reading a magazine, or just lying down in the comfort of my own bed (instead of her mattress). There were times when I also wished I could pass this task to ys when I have to leave my dinner appointments early just so I can be in time to tuck my little one into bed. I am only human.

But I would say these occasions are rare. I do think these thoughts but not often. Most of the time, like tonight, I am grateful for the time I have with Aly before she drifts off to sleep. It is a precious time for me. I sing to her and hold her close for that familiar baby smell, which she is losing bit by bit each day.

It is a bliss to be able to wind down at the end of an exhausting day with someone I love so dearly. Today, I am thankful for this child, for being able to hold her to sleep and for being able to experience this joy.

Linking up with:

Changes

I realise I share very little about myself and my thoughts in this blog. I guess it’s because I know a handful of people read this blog. Most of these people don’t know me personally.

Then why blog right? Or why keep this blog public?

Remember this blog was started as a parenting blog. It was meant to contain resources and tips for new parents, and to chart Aly’s milestones. It was intended to have less focus on me, my thoughts and my feelings. Before this, I kept too blogs – one on live journal and another on wordpress. I was a lot more candid on those blogs.

Ever since I became a mother, I looked less into myself and allowed my thoughts to be ruled by parenthood.

I hope to change this though, and share more or my thoughts as an individual, not as a mother, not as a wife, but as a girl, as Zee.

Last night, on the cab back from dinner, when I had sometime alone, I thought about how I have changed in the last 10 years. Questions along the lines of how am I different? What prompted these changes? Am I happy with the me now? filled my mind.

A dinner date with my bunch of girlfriends prompted these thoughts. We have been friends for over a decade. We have watched each other grow from nerdy thirteen year olds to the adults we are today. And as I observed everyone at the table, I realise we have all changed in one way or another.

Here are the changes I see in myself from 10 years ago:

The positive

1) I’ve learnt to chill.
I used to be uptight about everything. There was a lot of anxiety in me and i was constantly worrying. Ys taught me how to chill and to learn that we can’t control all things in life. I laugh more. i am more candid. I live by the mantra “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

2) I love myself more.
I had an inferiority complex in the past. I looked down on myself. I thought I wasn’t good enough and that everyone else was better. It probably had to do with my upbringing. I don’t know if it comes with age but I am a lot more comfortable with myself now. I guess it also has to do with the fact that I understand myself better now. I see my strengths and play them to my benefit, and accept my flaws and move on. This is one of the greatest changes I feel I have made, especially now that I am a wife and a mother. It is tough playing these roles if you don’t start off by loving yourself.

3) I am a lot more optimistic.
I used to see the glass half empty but now I see the glass half full. I guess this is related to point 1, but I’m generally happier and more contented. I guess I’ve met enough people to realise that I really have very little to complain about. And I am at a point where I am truly grateful for everything I have.

4) I am less emotional and sensitive.
My husband will probably disagree with this but I will say that I have come a long way in this aspect. I used to be an emotional wreck. I cared too much about what people said and what people thought of me. I read between the lines and was easily hurt by words or actions of others. Guess this is related to #1 and #2, because I now care less about what people say and think, because these people are entitled to their opinions and I take things less personally.

5) I stand up for myself now.
I have always had a problem with assertiveness. I find it difficult to put my foot down, to push my views and to basically protect myself. I am still learning but I’m doing a better job now!

The negative

1) No longer a romantic.
I grew up reading romantic novels and having too many romantic notions, and got bitter at some point when I realised that fairytales don’t exist. I snapped out of my la la land. Not entirely a bad thing I guess. When you acknowledge that life isn’t a fairytale, you have less unrealistic expectations.

2) I have less patience.
Again, I don’t know if this comes with age, but I’m less patient with people in general (other than towards Aly). One of my personal resolutions for 2013 is to cultivate patience.

3) I am less generous with my time.
This started from private practice days. Work hours were really long and I had to prioritise. Most weekends were spent with family and catching up on sleep. Things got better after I switched jobs, but somehow, I lost that generosity. I am fiercely possessive of my time. Now, as a mother, time is even more precious. Juggling work, baby, family has drained me and somedays, all I wanna do is to take time off work and curl up in bed alone. Again, I think this is inevitable. After all, we only have 24 hours a day!

Now, this is therapeutic! Whenever I do up a list like that, I understand myself a little better and that is always a good thing.

How will your list look like?