Category Archives: Ally

Speech Videofluroscopy

The day finally came for Ally’s speech videofluroscopy. She needed to have it done so that her speech therapist and plastic surgeon could check the movement and length of her soft palate and decide what needs to be done next. We made this appointment a month ago and I have been gently prepping her for it. I knew she would have no problems sitting through the X-ray, but the barium insertion was another story. They would insert a small tube into her nostril and she would have to swallow the barium, this allows the structures in the mouth and throat to be clearly seen on the X-ray. Ally is good with most medical procedures but I knew this would be stretching her limits. She was scared and asked if it would hurt, I didn’t lie to her, I just told her it would be uncomfortable.

Her speech therapist asked her to lie down on the X-ray table and showed her the syringe and tube which would go into her nose. First she dropped one tiny drop, Ally swallowed it without any problems. I was a bit alarmed to see that she had drawn out 5ml of the solution, in my mind I was thinking there is no way Ally was going to let her insert that much!

Then the time came for the real thing. She pumped a little bit more liquid into her nose, as expected Ally gagged and struggled. Her whole face turned red but she didn’t cry, we had her favourite penguin beside her and I was holding onto her hand. Once she swallowed that liquid we had to do the other nostril. Again she gagged and spat some of it out , it was clearly uncomfortable for her but she held back her tears. Luckily she had swallowed enough and we didn’t have to subject her to it anymore.

Once they got her into position, she had to repeat the phases that her therapist said. Oh, did I forget to mention that we had to remove her earrings? This cause more tears and drama than the barium insertion itself! She finally allowed me to take them off and we could continue with the X-ray. It was really cool watching all of it on the TV, I could see all her bones, the structure of her mouth, and lots of other things that I couldn’t identify. From the X-ray you could clearly see that her lower jaw has still some way to catch up with the upper. Once the lateral view was done, her therapist decided that we needed to insert more barium. Since she cried when I had to remove her earrings, her tears had diluted the solution and it wasn’t showing up clearly on the X-rays. When they gently explained it to her, you could see she was very upset but she bravely held back her tears and nodded her head. My heart went out to her , she behaved so bravely and maturely for her age. It went a lot smoother the 2nd time round, I guess she knew what to expect and didn’t gag so much.

After the whole procedure was done, we bought her a present as promised and told her how proud we all were of her. She still has a nasal scope coming up at the end of the month, I’m hoping that would go as smoothly as the X-ray.

 

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Meal Time Survival 101

I had this whole meal thing down pat, taking Ally and Max out to lunch on my own was second nature by now. Most days I could get all 3 of us fed without much drama. Then we had Luke and suddenly meal times became complicated affairs.

Taking 3 young children out for lunch on your own is a feat in itself. First location is very important, hawker centers are out of the question cos a) the pram doesn’t fit at any of the tables,  b) either one or both children are slipping off those little round seats since they have to perch on them to reach the table and c) poor Luke will be melting in his pram by the time we are done eating.

So that leaves us with food courts or restaurants. When one is at a food court, it’s all about location. You need to find a table that close enough to the stalls you are buying from so that you can keep an eye on the kids. This can be tricky if one child wants to eat something at this end of the food court and the other child wants something at the other end. What does one do? You either tell the kids to choose food from stalls in the vicinity or you take all the troops with you to one stall, buy the food, walk them to the other end , find a table and get everyone settled while you buy food for second child. By this time you probably look harassed and overwhelmed and hopefully some kind soul will help you carry your tray.

Even the type of food that you have to buy can pose a problem. Suppose you need to buy something from this end and walk over with kids in tow to the other. Now , if its a rice dish that isn’t too bad, but what if its a bowl of steaming hot noodles? Do you attempt to carry the tray with one hand while pushing the pram with the other and at the same time shouting at the other two kids to follow you? I choose to ask the stall holder to help me carry the tray, at least I know I won’t end up burning one of my kids! Most of the time they are willing to help but of course you get the odd one or two who couldn’t give a damn.

Once the food is actually bought, cut up and served to the kids, now its time to feed yourself. Gone are the days of buying what you actually felt like eating. Now I choose foods that I can either eat with one hand or gobble down in 10 minutes. No more hot soups for me! The meal goes rather smoothly if Luke stays asleep, but should he wake up in between then that’s when I wish I could grow an extra set of arms. Luckily for me, Ally is old enough to eat on her own and loves her food so I don’t have to constantly remind her to stop day dreaming and eat. Max is a different story, he can feed himself but will take forever and will fidget, day-dream and do about a 100 other things besides eat. So I end up feeding him half the time to make things quicker. Take today for example, we were all having lunch when Luke woke up and needed a feed. So while I fed Luke, I was trying to feed Max and myself all at the same time. By the time lunch was finished, I was ready for bed.

If Matt is around that makes thing much easier, in fact we can even have a decent conversation over meal times. Sometimes we end up playing what I call ” pass the baby” which just means one of us carries Luke and tries to feed ourself while the other manages the two older kids. Then we do a swap so the person carrying Luke can now finally use both hands to try and finish his/her meal.

Is it tough handling all 3 on my own during meal times? Of course it is! But I know it’s one of those things that won’t last forever. As the kids get older it would hopefully get easier , in the meantime , I’ve better master the art of speed eating.

 

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Co-sleeping, The Kids Version

Ever since Max turned 1, Ally and him have shared a room. We bought Ally a trundle bed once she moved out of the cot and we placed the cot and her bed adjacent to each other. Even at that young age, Max loved Ally’s company. Soon the little monkey found that he could climb out of his cot. Images of cracked skulls and broken collar bones immediately filled my head so I bought a net to put over his crib. Needless to say he HATED it and cried each time we put him to bed. Matt suggested letting the two kids share a bed and that’s what they have been doing ever since.

Until recently, both of them shared Ally’s single mattress but they’re starting to find it quite a squeeze so we pulled out the trundle, propped up the legs and turned it into a queen size bed. The kids are in 7th heaven, they have a lot more space to sleep play about .

Eventually Luke and Max will share a room and Ally will move into her own room. But while they are still young, we’re going to keep all 3 in the same room. It definitely strengthens the bond between them and they have so much fun, sharing little games/ secrets before bedtime.

Ally 3 monkeys squeezing onto my hospital bed the day Luke was born

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Can You Spoil A Newborn?

All my babies were carried A LOT in the early days. Ally had her medical issues and no one had the heart to leave her to cry. I was still working during that time and poor Grandma had to carry Ally for at least 6-8 hours a day till her wrist ache. But then nothing else could comfort her and the poor child was in so much pain from her reflux.

When Max came along I fed him on demand during the early days. When he cried I picked him up, he slept in a crib next to our bed and at times co-slept with us. Well meaning friends and relatives used to say ” Don’t keep carrying him, you’ll spoil him”

When you think about it, a baby has been in the safe secure womb for the last 9 months or so, suddenly they are thrust into this strange world and expected to be independent little people. I always say it’s the smart ones that cry and demand for their parent’s attention. They crave what they are familiar with, the smells and sounds of their parents. I honestly don’t believe you can spoil a newborn, their needs and wants are the same. Right now with Luke, he’s fed on demand as well and carried each time he cries. Sure it’s tiring especially with two older children but the poor little guy is only 2 weeks old. I don’t have the heart to let him cry till he runs out of tears. The only exception is when I’m driving, if I know he’s hungry and we’re far from home, I usually pull over somewhere safe to feed him first. If not he just has to wait till we get home.

While I say it’s not possible to spoil a newborn, it is possible to over indulge a baby. Between 9 months to a year, we start to set limits for the children. At nap/ bedtimes, they are placed in their cots, sleepy but not asleep. Slowly they learn to fall asleep on their own. With Ally we used to carry her till she fell asleep and it was exhausting for all of us. Finally we managed to teach her to fall asleep on her own. Second time round we were a little wiser and started the routine earlier. Max was also a more easy going chap with no medical issues which made things simpler.

To everyone who says I’m spoiling my baby by carrying him to much and responding to his every need, I just want to say, thanks for your advice but I’m going to do it my way, at least for the next 9 months. Luke is our last baby and while I can still comfort him with a cuddle, hug or kiss, I’m going to savor that opportunity and do so.

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Big As A Whale

Well, maybe not but I am getting there. The kids and I have been spending afternoons at home, mainly because I don’t really have the energy to go anywhere. I feel sorry for the kids being stuck at home but they don’t seem to mind.

Yesterday evening Matt took them down to ride their scooter and roller blade. They were so happy, I stayed home to take a long shower but I could hear their laughter and shrieks from the flat. They came home sweaty, smelly but oh so happy!

 

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Learning Mandarin

I’m the first to admit that my mandarin is disgraceful. I made it through O levels with a C6 and can order food in a restaurant but that’s the extent of my vocabulary. We speak English at home, both my parents never learned Mandarin in school and were unable to help us. My brother fared better than I did, as I fell further and further behind, I disliked the language more and more.

I didn’t want Ally to struggle the same way I did, by the time my mom found me a tutor, the love for the language was long gone. It was something alien to me that I was forced to learn. Now that Ally has shown a keen interest, I decided to sign her up for Berries to sustain that interest.

When we first spoke to her about it, she was teary and very hesitant. She didn’t like the fact that she had to attend class alone and it took awhile to get her used to the idea. I felt like I was bullying her into it but knew we had to perserver for her own good.

Today was her first class, we spoke about it briefly after school and I reassured her that I would be right outside her classroom. We are so incredibly lucky that there was only one other boy in her class, this made it less daunting for her. Secondly , her teacher was very soft spoken but firm which Ally took to immediately. I liked her teaching style and truly appreciated the feedback that she gave at the end of the class.

As we suspected, her comprehension is way below K1 standard. Her teacher says with some home coaching she should be able to catch up as she’s very enthusiastic to learn. I was so proud of her for overcoming her fear about being alone. She looked like she really enjoyed herself and was singing and dancing along when I looked in. We’ve signed her up for a term and will most likely continue with it. I really hope that these classes will boost her confidence to speak Mandarin more.

 

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Ally Is Reading

A few weeks ago Ally had a reading assessment in school and the teacher told us that she could read. We were kind of surprise because we haven’t actively coached her with her reading. Grandma is the only one who has been patient enough to go through her Peter and Jane books but even then it’s done as and when Ally expresses interest. I did notice that she has been pointing out signs and asking us what they meant.

Her school has a really good reading program, children are assessed and graded according to their ability. Each week during library day, they get to take home a reader according to their reading level. The teacher sits down one on one with each child to listen to that child read and makes notes in their reading book. Parents are asked to continue with the reader at home and to jot down comments or questions.

Right now Ally is reading at level 1 which is the most basic. By the third day, she knew her reader and all the words in it so we went to the library to borrow more books. Right now she is getting by with reading those thick board books meant for babies. The font sizes are nice and big and there are pictures to help her along with the words. She has really picked up quite quickly and we’re so proud of her. I really hope that she’ll grow up to love reading like I do.

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