On RJ’s bookshelf / September 2015 / 4 months +

20150908200412There’s nothing quite like the fresh scent of ink on paper and the rough caress of your finger turning a page. Old-fashioned books seem almost a novelty in this digital age, but as far as children are concerned, my bibliophile husband and I agree – print trumps pixels, every time.

There are many reasons to read to your child, not least being the sheer pleasure of curling up with a good book and a snuggly warm body to enjoy audible literature. At this stage, RJ is more interested in swiping at the pages and stuffing the book corners into her mouth. But she’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

I was surprised by the ingenuity of children’s books nowadays. It’s a new breed of board books with sticky tabs, magnets, stickers, pop-ups and other fancy bells and whistles. Heck, I’m practically buying them for myself, not baby!

Here’s three of RJ’s current favorite books.

20150908062618 (2) Curious George: My Growing World

A real gem we found at the Big Bad Wolf book fair, this board book folds out to become a measuring chart AND a story book. It even has a helpful record section to keep track of baby’s growth. Of course, i’m a sucker for such multi-tasking items. RJ’s favorite part of this book is the mirror, which she spends incessant time gazing at everyday.

I had to fold it up because it's too long to fit into the shot
I had to fold it up because it’s too long to fit into the shot
Cute stickers and a Record section to track baby's growth. I'm sold!
Cute stickers and a nifty Record section to track baby’s growth. I’m sold!

20150908062614 (1) Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

We scored this classic for cheap, there seem to be many variants popping up at various books sales in KL (Book Excess, Times, MPH). I chose this version because I liked that there were some rarer rhymes inside.

The box set comes with three illustrated books inside: playtime rhymes, bedtime rhymes, and action rhymes. Each page has vibrant drawings that bring the classic nursery rhymes to life.

The bedtime rhymes group together a few simple favorites with good rhyme and metre to lull your little one into slumber. Playtime rhymes are more fun and the action rhymes have some instructions included so you and your child can act them out.

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Expect to see old ones like “ring a ring of roses”, “row, row, row your boat”, and “pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been”? There are some really odd ones which I’ve never heard before. Here’s one I really liked from the book, which almost seem like a tongue-twister.

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[ Aside: I’ve come to realise the violence, misogyny, racism, social segregation, etc in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, something I never noticed before. Still, I think i’ll let RJ read the stories and make up her own mind about it. ]

20150908062619 Animals Go

Of course, which baby’s childhood isn’t full of safari animals? Our venerable soft toy collection is practically a mini zoo (well, only 4 animals counts as mini, right?) and we had once thought of a gender-neutral animal-themed nursery back in the hazy days of early pregnancy.

RJ loves this book chiefly because the animals have 3D ridges for her to run her curious little fingers over. The high contrast in the colors and large, quirky illustrations are great to hold the little one’s attention. Each page has a close-up detail shot as well as a portrait with a verb describing the animal.

RJ's favorite page - the ladybug (or do you call it ladybird?)
RJ’s favorite page – the ladybug (or do you call it ladybird?)
My favorite page is this gorgeous peacock. Eye-popping details on the fan.
My favorite page is this gorgeous peacock. Eye-popping details on the fan.

Showing these animals to RJ is one of our ways to teach her about nature, a topic close to our hearts.

Since Daniel’s degree is in ecology and biodiversity, we often talk to RJ about animals, plants, and the ecosystem. During our evening walks, he would point out shrubs to her, let her feel the texture of the leaves, and explain about the process of photosynthesis.

When she’s bigger, we’ll let her collect the leaves and paste them in a scrapbook. She can write their names like a proper field experiment. Can’t wait for RJ to be old enough to read more interesting books. We hope she’ll grow up to love books as much as we do. Until then, we’ll keep reading to her. (Sometimes, even an Ikea catalogue will do…)

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Will post more about other books that we purchased for RJ, in the meantime, here’s some book-related links:

What are some of your children’s favorite books? Share with us.

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Tougher days 

I’ve not been able to write anything new here for awhile thanks to being so busy with Jamie. He’s been having a fussy week or two, and has been rearing his grumpy side at home more than usual.

In general, Jamie is mostly a fuss free baby, so it’s a bit surprising for me to see him behaving the way he has lately. Initially, I chalked it down to the after effects of his last round of vaccinations, since I noted that the fussy spells started to happen more often after he recovered from a bout of fever after getting his shots.

But then again, it could just be him reaching another growth milestone. I’ve read that babies tend to become a bit more on the fussy side on growth spurt days. What made this round more unbearable, however, was the fact that I was experiencing Growth Spurt Week rather than just a couple of Growth Spurt Days like how it had been in the transition period between the first and second month of Jamie’s life.

Now, in his third (and soon reaching his fourth, in fact), his overall behaviour seems to have drastically shifted gears.

Not only is he more active, he is more likely to display drastic mood swings where he can be really happy one moment and terribly grouchy in the next. He is also more likely to get distracted during feeding times, much to my dismay.

Whenever he fusses, it is hard to figure out what he really wants and even when I do, it’s disheartening to realise that what he’s asking for is to be constantly carried around the home. If I try to put him down in the cot or bouncer or anywhere at all, he will make lots of noise to make sure I know he disapproves.

Some days, he naps really little in the daytime. He also has greater trouble falling asleep at night. And although he can now sleep through the night on certain days, on other nights he wakes up for at least two feeds (thus confusing my poor boobs who continue to produce milk faithfully every night regardless of whether Jamie is there to lap it up or not. Sigh).

He also has this terrible habit of grabbing bits of my hair in his fists and not letting go.

But at the same time, Jamie is more expressive and vocal, which are things that have been wonderfully amusing to experience with him. That also means though that when he is upset or seeking attention, he will not hesitate to tell us so. Something that I don’t always enjoy at times, as he can now complain really loudly. Never mind that I cannot understand what he is saying, the sheer noise he makes is enough to compel you enough to want to pick him up just so he will quieten down).

In addition to dealing with his fussiness, I am almost always fretting about whether anything Jamie does or his appearance is an indication that he is unwell. Most times, it’s just me being paranoid, but presently, Jamie really is sick and is down with a flu.

The worst part of it all is that I’m pretty sure I was the one who passed the bug to him since I myself had been similarly unwell a little earlier in the week.

But as unsettling, tiring and inconvenient as it is to take care of Jamie in times like these, there are still redeeming factors to keep me going. His smiles and the way he always looks around the room for me (even when others are carrying him) are certainly among them.

While going through this slightly more difficult season with Jamie, I got round to re-examining why we want certain things as parents.

Most parents of infants just can’t wait for their little one to start doing certain things. Stuff like sleeping through the night, feeding from a bottle (as opposed to directly latching onto the breast), taking longer naps and being able to sit up on their own and hold their head upright.

If we dig deeper into why we want our babies to achieve these abilities, we’ll often find that one of the underlying reasons is that it will ultimately make our lives easier. That’s nice and all, but didn’t we sign up for parenthood knowing all along that it would be hard at times? Why do we then keep wishing for the easy way out?

Well, I’ll admit that it’s good for the baby himself too in the long run if he is able to achieve these things. But what I’m questioning here is more of why we are always wishing for our child to be something else other than what they are right now. The danger here being that we may focus too much on wishing for the day when they are less troublesome to us to the point that we miss out on cherishing who they are at present.

Jamie can’t sit up on a high chair yet. He still doesn’t really like drinking from the bottle so I have to feed him by letting him latch on directly to my breasts for all of his meals. He wants to be found in my arms and to suckle at the breast every night before he falls asleep. He interrupts nearly every meal I have each day so he can have his feeds and also delays my trips to the toilet for the same reason.

I can’t say that these inconveniences do not irk me at times, but I’m learning to appreciate who he is in spite of these challenges. Some day he’ll grow up and be so independent that he’ll not need to live in the same home as I do or even relate to me anymore to get by. And when that time comes, I want to make sure I have no regrets.