Copyright © incy wincy spider | BLOG
Design by Dzignine
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For Full Time Working Mums: Your Best Companion For Breastfeeding

Many new mums often have these questions in mind about breastfeeding, 'Would I be breastfeeding my baby?', 'Would I need a breastpump?' and 'How should I go about selecting a suitable breastpump?'. Here's my experience with selecting a breastpump as a full time working mum to three year old, Aiden and three month old, Ava.

I decided to breastfeed in a heartbeat. I wanted to give the best food to baby and what can be more natural than breastmilk? Breastfeeeding also helps bonding between me and my baby with more skin on skin contact, and it relaxes me while I try to decipher her cries & adjust to her routine. I believe breastfed babies fall sick less easily too and being easier to digest, baby gets lesser tummy issues. I breastfed Aiden who is three year old now, for twelve months and am currently breastfeeding Ava for the past three months. Throughout the time I breastfed, I also expressed milk so that other members of the family can help to feed the baby while I am away or when the baby refuses to latch on, we can have the option of feeding her expressed breastmilk instead of formula.

When I decided to breastfeed, I shopped around for a suitable breastpump that would fit well with my lifestyle as a full time working mum. After comparing the various brands and models of breastpumps in the market, I decided to go with Medela Freestyle and it has impressed me with its ability to save time and providing me with the freedom of movement - believe me, this is something much needed for a full time working mother of two. When I saw how it looks, I was won over too. So compact and so easy to bring around.

Here are why the Medela Freestyle Breastpump works for me.

The time saver
Being able to double pump under twenty minutes all thanks to the two-phase expression technology behind the Freestyle Breastpump, I get more time to bond with my baby. In the first few weeks, a new born baby sleeps for more than 18 hours a day, so every little bracket of time spent with her is very precious to me.
Watching baby sleep wins handsdown vs. long periods expressing breastmilk
The Freestyle Breastpump also allows me to multi-task while expressing milk. All of us time-pressed mums would be glad for this. I am able to reply to emails on my laptop, surf the internet on my phone and pat my elder son to sleep while expressing milk.

The easy to assemble parts of the Freestyle Breastpump also saved me time to wash and sterilize them. Imagine repeating this pump-wash-sterilize routine 6 times and more in a day, you'd be thankful for this.
Just these few easy parts to put together, it saved me time!
The reliable companion
Through late nights pumping to keep up with the milk supply, expressing milk during my overseas trips when baby is away from me and pumping on one side while nursing her, the Medela Freestyle Breastpump fits seamlessly with my lifestyle. I've started to use the breastpump right after having Ava as she had difficulties latching and I wanted her to still be able to enjoy the benefits of breastmilk. The large LCD screen on the breastpump shows all the relevant information I need at one glance so I am in total control of the time and vacuum settings. It also shows the battery life, so you know when you need to recharge it.
Chilling out in the hotel room, expressing milk with the Freestyle.
The work horse
With one full charge, you can get about 200 minutes of pump time. Saves time for me, and I need not bring around the charger when I am out and about. I brought the pump along on a three day overseas trip recently and the battery life was sufficient. Compared to the single pumps and manual pumps in the market, this works best for me as I would need double the time with a single pump and I prefer the electric pumping vs. manual pumping to spare my hands the aches.

The quiet worker
My husband is able to sleep through next to me while I express milk in the night and this is great as I need not find an empty room or space to express milk. The breastpump also has a backlight which is especially useful for pumping at night so I can express milk with a bedside lamp, without disturbing my husband's sleep.

The portable mean machine
Who would think such a small hand held pump can be a mean machine at the same time? Using this portable electric pump on a daily basis is a pleasure to me. I can carry it around in my handbag and it is so discreet and convenient. Find a nursing room, and I can chill out and express milk under twenty minutes.
Easy storage & transportation of breastmilk.
So to all full time working mums who are deciding on a breastpump, I would strongly recommend the Medela Freestyle. It is made with mothers in mind and it is really easy to use. You can change between the two phases yourself or pre-set the vacuum setting which is most comfortable for you with a touch of a button. Once you have chosen your preferred vacuum level and pumping pattern, the unique memory function will save your setting for the next time you use the pump. So simple and so efficient.

From 1 - 31 March 2014, Medela is offering their Freestyle Bundle Set at a special price of $799 (usual price $983) and it includes the Freestyle Breastpump, Handsfree Kit, Disposable Bra Pad & JL Full Body Changing Pad

Medela Freestyle is available at all leading departmental stores, baby specialty stores and selected pharmacies.

Disclosure: Mums & Babes loaned me the Medela Freestyle Breastpump for review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
Thursday, February 20, 2014

DIY Coin Bank using plastic food bottles

Mummy Cher and I had been on a lookout for a coin/money bank for Aiden.  He already understands the concept of money, and we intended to use the coin bank to teach him delayed gratification, financial planning and the habit of saving.

We knew that he would receive lots of Ang Baos during Chinese New Year and a coin bank would come in handy, but CNY came and gone and we still did not manage to find a coin bank that we like.  They were either too small, too heavy or made of porcelain.  It's also counter-intuitive to be spending good money on a expensive coin bank to teach Aiden how to save money!

And then one day, post CNY, while trying to gobble up the bottle of kuih bahulu before they expire, I realised the answer was right in my arms.  Why don't I make the coin bank out of a CNY goodie bottle?! 

And so I did.  And wow, it's so simple that even a guy like me can do it!  Here's how:

Materials/tools used
  • Empty, clean CNY goodie bottle
  • Fancy fabric tape (from Daiso)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Stickers
  • Marker pen
  • Scissors
  • Penknife
  • Ruler

  1. Firstly, remove the existing sticker labels.  I know our grandparents used to keep their money in biscuit tin boxes but I'm not quite a fan of that look.  I used Mummy Cher's nail polish remover but there are many alternative ways to do this.
  2. Next, carefully cut a rectangle on the plastic lid of the bottle.  I was too forceful and the plastic lid cracked, so do cut patiently with the help of a ruler.  Make sure it is just big enough for coins and notes to be pushed through.  You don't want money to drop out unintentionally.
  3. If your kid cannot write yet (like Aiden), help to write anything you want on the fancy fabric tape with the marker pen.  Before you start, wrap the fabric tape around the bottle so that you know the limit to how much to write.  I thought the bottle looked like Pooh's honey pot, so I called it "Aiden's Money Pot!".  Other suitable phrases include "O$P$", "I wanna be a billionaire, so freakin' bad" and "My HDB downpayment".
  4. Remove the backing of the tape and stick it around the bottle.  I did this myself as I want to make sure the fabric tape wraps nicely. OCD, I know.
  5. Get your kids to stick his/her favourite stickers on the bottle any way they like.  Tell them what the coin bank is for while they are at it.
  6. Make the first deposit of coins/notes together with your kid.
  7. You're done!  Smile and take a picture together!

It may not look like a million bucks, but I thought it's a wonderful activity to try with your kids.  The best thing is, I was able to justify eating the entire bottle of kuih bahulu all by myself.  Ingenious!  Alright alright.  More importantly, it recycles the bottles, saves you money, inculcates the right values, and is a great bonding activity.

Go try and see what you can come up with!
Friday, February 14, 2014

Aiden Turns Three!

In a flash, three years have gone by. Just three Valentine's Day ago, I was lying in bed at Thomson Medical Centre, cradling my precious bundle in my arms. Aiden arrived a day before Valentine's Day and he was the best gift I could have.
At home with mummy (A few days old)
As he turned three yesterday, here's a letter to my dear son.

Dear Aiden,

Happy Birthday to you!

I am a proud mum, seeing how you have grown from a tiny little baby who fit right in the nook of my arm to a charming little boy who is curious about the world (questioning about everything you see and learning all about why things are the way they are) and exploring it cautiously. You are a reflection of Daddy Darren and myself and sometimes hearing the things you say reminds me that we need to be mindful of what we say or do in your presence as you mimic and learn from us.

I miss the time when you were a baby - having you sound asleep on my chest, your chuckles when we play with you and being able to carry you with one arm, for extended periods. Nowadays I struggle to carry all 16kg of you in my arms but I love being close to you and I won't turn you away when you ask to be carried. I also enjoy conversations with you as you reason and discover new things everyday.

His first smiles (3 months old)
Chubby thighs (4 months old)
Your latest obsession is all about transportation & vehicles - cars, lorries, trucks and motorcycles. I am glad that along the way, you learn about the traffic rules, how to look out for traffic signs before crossing the road and even warns us to be careful in the car park and at road junctions. Recently, you also started looking out for empty car park lots for Daddy and differentiating lots for season parking (white vs red lines), which both came as surprises to me. I enjoy these moments where you surprise us with the things you say and do.

His collection of vehicles, arranging them orderly (3 years old)
You are ever so sensitive, and get hurt easily by my words. I hope you'd learn to be more understanding and patient in the year ahead. It saddens me to hear you sob and say 'I don't like it when mummy scolds me' when you misbehave. Mummy loves you dearly and I hope you will always be assured of this. Being strict with you will teach you the right values and hopefully shape you to be a more responsible and tougher individual as you grow up.

I hope you enjoyed your special day out with Daddy & Mummy. We brought you to your first movie - Lego Movie and you surprised me by feeding me popcorn in the dark! We had a lot of fun at The Polliwogs VivoCity, especially seeing all your joy.

You will always be the special boy that came into our lives on 13th February. Wishing you happiness and laughter in the year ahead!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reminiscing the time we fell in love

Reading Daddy Darren's blog post, I teared up a few times - all happy tears. No one can beat him in this - having me cry buckets and buckets of tears.

I remember throughout the years that we dated since 2003, I cried a lot. I cried over his tone on the phone when I called, I cried when he didn't reply a phone message after a long while. I cried when he got upset on my lateness and stomped off. I cried when we quarreled during our wedding preparations. I cried when he got upset during our overseas trips. But then our babies came and I find myself becoming a stronger woman and cried much lesser. I guess it's largely because we improved on our communication and his threshold for my behavior & bad habits has increased.

So Valentine's Day is in 2 days time, and I already know there won't be a date to a fancy restaurant, no beautiful bouquet and no surprise gift. Those treats are reserved for random, spur-of-the-moment days. But I am not complaining as these are not what I would trade for time with Daddy Darren & our two kids.

Nowadays, it is a luxury for Daddy Darren & me to dine out and spend alone time together. But it is important to remember that our love provides the foundation for our family, and to always show appreciation for each other. Looking at how happy Aiden is, I think it reflects the love that we have!

Since we went out in 2003, these 11 years have not been always smooth sailing for us. Despite our differences, our unwavering love for each other & trust that we would work things out together helped us come this far. Here's what Daddy Darren have always been for me, and I am so happy & lucky to have him as my life partner.

A supportive partner
He has always supported me in my decisions but challenging me all the time to achieve greater things. He helps me believe in my capabilities, be it in my career, in my passion, as a mum and in our own business. I may be stubborn and indecisive at times so having his opinions as a balance and check against my own helps me make better decisions. He motivates me to achieve bigger things than I think I can.

Our life planner
In our relationship, Daddy Darren is definitely the planner and I am really glad for that. He sets his mind to working towards a better life for both of us and now for our family of four. I never would have thought we would be where we are currently, but I don't think any of these are left entirely to chance. The cars, our homes, home designs etc. All carefully planned by him!

My happy pill
He has always been able to cheer me up whenever I feel down, stressed and depressed. He makes any good day even better as I feel good sharing the joy with him. His sense of humor and not-shy antics are what I need to get through any tough periods or a dull day.

Our Daddy Darren
The times I see him feeling down when our boy hurt his feelings, I know he really loves Aiden to bits. It also helped me see that our own relationship mattered a lot to him.  You will only feel agitated when something means a lot to you, right? The twinkle in his eye and excitement as he held our second child, she is as precious to him, daddy's little girl for sure (though he would argue that he will treat both of our kids the same). I think fatherly instincts kicked in later for Daddy Darren (though his parenting views formed even before I met him!), but I could see how much love he has for our kids and how he wants to shape them to be happy people who try their best and be tougher in preparation for the challenging future they have ahead of them. His role as daddy to our kids complement mine, and though we do not agree on several parenting ways, we work out what's best for each situation, for ourselves and our kids. This helps strengthen our relationship with each other too.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. We have many great years ahead, which I am sure will be filled with many more memorable moments, trips, experiences together and yes, more happy tears. You complete me and I would choose to say 'Oui' again and relive the moment with you!

An unforgettable experience with you, our DIY wedding photoshoot in Paris.
The breathtaking Eiffel Tower, where we decided to spend our lives together. 
Missing the times we wandered where our feet brings us.
Sharing your joy in your passion for soccer.
Trying to recall when we had distinct, well defined jawlines sans photoshop.

Indulging in our love for food.
Life may not always be a bed of roses, but it's definitely better with you by my side.

Do you remember the time... when we fell in love.

I would often joke that Mummy Cher was lucky to have me walk into her life back in 2003 (ok ok, more like stumble into the NTU Photo-Videographic Society meeting room).  捡到宝了 (she found treasure), I would insist, before brainwashing her into believing that she had found the rarest diamond in the rough.  Our lives 11 years on, as promised to her, have improved tremendously.  But looking back, exactly who was the person who struck diamond?

My listening ear

Being an objective and opinionated person, I would be quick to argue communicate with her on what she should or shouldn't do, from work to domestic issues.  There is just no way I will pay almost double the price for the over-indulgent three-ply toilet paper (but she would!).  Well yeah, I guess you can call me a real pain in the ass.

Luckily for me (and our bottoms), she is not like that.  No matter what problems I have with work and in life, she would be my listening ear and take everything in with compassion and not doubt.  And no matter what course of action I choose to take, she would offer her own opinion but ultimately provide her unwavering support.  Trust me, it is extremely difficult to give your full attention when the corporate tax manager in me is explaining how a particular tax advice/issue caused me to work through the night.

On the other hand, whenever she shares stories from her marketing job, I could only muster something along the lines of "Woah, that actress was at the event?  Is she hot?  Which part is fake ah?".  Oh well...

My pillar of strength

I very often think that I am the strong one in the relationship.  Afterall, I have crawled myself out of adversity and do not break down no matter what life throws at me.  In retrospect, I actually drew strength from her to deal with life's shitty moments.  It is just so reassuring to know that she will be there for me.

She is the real strong one who would pick herself up after losing our unborn child (while I wallowed in self pity).  She is the real strong one who wouldn't mind losing life's luxuries if it meant we were happier (while I grumbled about not having enough money to buy that swanky freehold property in District 15).  She is the real strong one who would bear the pain of child birth for hours until the doctor decided that an emergency C-section was required (while I waited outside the operating theatre wondering if there was enough light inside for a good shot on my DSLR).  She is so much stronger than she thinks she is.

My self-sacrificing partner

I sometimes tell people that although I have sacrificed my time for kids, it is worth it.  The thing is, it's not really a sacrifice if I gained much more in the process, is it?

On the other hand, she was the one who sacrificed the comforts of her home and hostel by staying with me in that cockroach infested run-down flat 10 years ago.  She was the one who sacrificed herself to take care of the kids whenever I wanted to watch/play soccer, sleep a little longer or go out with my friends.  She was the one who sacrificed herself to go back on her own if I needed wanted to put in more hours at work.  She was the one who took leave to bring the kids to the doctors, when I didn't think it was possible for me to do so.

Thank you, Mummy Cher, for being my listening ear, pillar of strength and self-sacrificing partner. 我真的捡到宝了!

Remember the time

It is so easy to be caught up with our careers, children and distractions (such as Flappy Bird) and end up neglecting the people who have stood by us for so long and mean the most to us.  This Valentine's Day, I hope parents out there will take a minute or two in between the main course and the dessert of their ridiculously over-priced VDay meal, and remember the time... when you fell in love.

Cleo Magazine (February 2007)

Female Brides (Fall 2009)

Surprise video for Mummy Cher shown during our 2009 wedding

Paris Je T'aime - Our 2009 wedding morning express photo highlights


Tokyo Holiday (2010)

Motherhood Magazine (June 2013)

This post is part of a Valentine's Day series, brought to you by Daddy Matters (

Nick Pan: Divine Intervention
Stranger In Bangkok: Celebrating half our lives together
Howard Lee: For Better or Worse
Sengkang Babies: Who is Daddy's Valentine? 
Patrick Pang: My Wife, My Soulmate
Mommy Said Daddy Said: Made for Each Other
The Blogfather: 28 Valentines, 1 True Love
Ed Unloaded: Will You Be My Valentine?
Princess Dana Diaries: The Ring, The Shoes and the Handbag - a Valentines' Day Dedication
The Wacky Duo: A Valentine's Day Letter
J Babies' Dad: No One More Special Than You
Cheekiemonkie: All I'll Ever Need is You
Tribolum: Recollection

 A Valentine's Day Special by Daddy Matters

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Singapore Budget 2014 Wishlist for Parents

Budget season is upon us again, with the 2014 edition to be delivered on 21 February 2014.  While the 2013 Budget missed the mark by my reckoning, it is my wish again that the focus on increasing productivity would shift from the work space to the family space.

My Budget wishlist for 2014 can be summarised as the three Es - Enable, Encourage and Enhance.

Enable family life by fulfilling the urgent housing needs of first timers with children

The Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) unveiled in 2013 was supposed to provide priority allocation to first-timer married couples with a citizen child below the age of 16 (including those expecting a child) for Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) flats to better meet their housing needs.  Under the PPS, 30% of the BTO flat supply and 50% of the SBF flats will be set aside.

While the percentages look generous, the fact is that many of those with a real urgent need for an immediate house would still be subjected to a ballot.  With each failed ballot, the next SBF exercise is another six months away, by which more people would be joining the ballot under the PPS.

I think the government needs to realise that the needs of first timer families with children are very different than those of first timer couples and second timers.  Luck should be taken out of the equation for first timer families with children by changing the allocation system for SBF to a phased approach, similar to the Primary One registration system.  This means that, unless the number of applicants under the PPS exceeds that of the number of flats available, ALL first timer families with children will get to select a ready flat.  This approach will better match the urgency of the applicants to the time it takes to move into a flat.

Encourage parenthood by providing support for assisted conception

Currently, couples seeking Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) treatments in public hospitals can receive co-funding for the cost of their ART treatment cycle, for a maximum of 3 fresh and 3 frozen ART cycles, and up to a maximum of 75% or $6,300/$1,200.

I think the government can do more in this area.  It is hard on couples that face difficulties in natural conception, be it due to genetics, age or health.  It would really encourage them to try harder for a baby if they do not have to worry about or be discouraged by the hefty medical bills that come with assisted conception.  Limiting co-funding to treatments in public hospital also puts unnecessary strain on public healthcare, and discourages couples that prefer the private route.

My wish is for the percentage for funding to be increased to a maximum of 100%.  At the same time, funding should apply to treatments in private hospitals as well.  With the monetary caps still in place, the government do not spend more on each couple, regardless of which hospital the couple chooses.  The government will only spend more on this enhanced funding if more couples seek ART treatments, and that would be a good outcome, surely?

Enhance family bonds by providing more childcare leave

An employee is entitled to six days of childcare leave per year, regardless of the number of qualifying children he/she has.  If you have two children, that's three days per child.  If you have three, that's two days per child.  No matter how I look at it, it still looks like a substantial reduction in time that you can spend with your precious ones.

Instead of just recognising the challenges of parenthood (by giving a fixed amount of childcare leave regardless of the number of kids), I think that the government should recognise the challenges of having each additional child by giving additional childcare leave.  It could be for example, six days of childcare leave for the first child, and then three additional days for each additional child.

Of course, that doesn't mean that we can only spend quality time with our children while on childcare leave.  But if there is any organisation or body out there that should send signals on what type of parenthood is desirable for the nation, it has to be the government, right?

Share with us your wishlist for Singapore Budget 2014 by leaving us a comment!
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I have fallen in love again...

In 10 weeks, I find myself falling in love with this little girl and have developed a deeper bond and feeling for her. Looking into her eyes, there is so much ahead of her and so much we can share as mum and daughter, it really excites me. I can't wait to be her listening ear, her shoulder to lean and cry on, to be by her side as she grows up & indulge in girly treats together. That's a long way ahead and for now, I am cherishing the moments we share as our eyes lock, singing softly to her and just watching her fall asleep in my arms. There is something different about a mother & son relationship versus that of a mother & daughter and I am truly blessed to be able to embrace both of these.

Before becoming mum, it was all about the love story between Daddy Darren and myself. We had our own share of disagreements, times where it was challenging, but we chose each other and are committed to working things out and loving each other even stronger than before. When Aiden came along, we found ourselves falling in love with this charming cheeky little boy who can be manipulative at age 3. When I was pregnant with Ava, I had my doubts as I wasn't sure how I could love another as much. And now what can I say, but I think I have fallen in love, again.

Becoming parents, our priorities shift and we devote a lot of our time bonding with our kids, and spending time together as a family. I constantly remind myself that besides Aiden and Ava, I need to spend quality time with Daddy Darren as he is the love of my life. I feel I am a better mum to my kids when I feel loved and appreciated by Daddy Darren. It gives me an energy boost to face the late night wakings and hyperactive toddler. In 2014, I strive to strike a better balance and develop a stronger bond with each of my three loved ones.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Galloping into a Hor-Seh New Year

The Chinese New Year goodies may still be on our dining table (we bought too much as usual), but the super long weekend is already over.  Looking back at the past few days, it might be the most enjoyable and meaningful CNY in recent years for me.

Enjoyable, because we don't have to deal with the Top 4 most hated CNY questions anymore - "When are you getting attached?", "When are you getting married?", "When are you having a child?" and "When are you having another child?".  Meaningful, because I reconnected with relatives whom I have lost touch with over the years, and spent quality time with Mummy Cher, Aiden, Ava, friends and family.  That's what CNY should be about - sincere and meaningful conversations and quality time with loved ones!  Having yummy goodies is a bonus!

May the year of the horse bring peace, happiness and good fortune to you and your family!  Hor-Seh New Year!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...