Sunday, February 16, 2014

Great Customer Service

I hate bad customer service. I'm always happy to complain about that (or really anything - just ask Matt or my mom).

But I have recently experienced two incidents of excellent customer service and wanted to acknowledge them.

1) The sleep sac: Aden and Anais

We received a sleep sac for Elie, as a gift from Marquita, a friend of Zaydie. It's Aden and Anais brand, lightweight, and it seemed like it would be perfect for Singapore weather, where you want the sleep sac sleep cue but you don't want the actual sleep sac because it's hot as balls. All the time.

Once we were finally able to lose the swaddle, I brought out the sleep sacs. One that we had used for Sam now had a broken zipper. And I tried to use this one. I used it for one day and the zipper broke as well. I thought it can't hurt to email the company and tell them. I told them what happened, and they sent me a new one, Singapore! In the meantime (while it shipped...) I bought a few used ones, so we're using those until they get too small and then we will try this one again. That's good customer service.

2) The water bottle: Comfort Delgro Taxi

Last Thursday Sam, Elie and I took a taxi to visit Oscar and Stephanie and see their new apartment. On the way home Sam dropped her water bottle on the floor of the taxi. I totally forgot to get it once we got back home (imagine: one sit n'stroll that I have to convince Sam to get out of and help push, plus Elie's car seat and the stroller so I can push my bag...getting out of a taxi alone is HECTIC!). It was 100% my fault. It was her SUPER IMPORTANT STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE SCHOOL WATERBOTTLE. Actually - it isn't so important (in non-3-year old worlds) at all. Matt said forget about it and go buy a new one. I thought I might as well TRY...

I didn't realize the bottle was gone until Friday am when I went to pack her school bag. I didn't have a second to deal with it until sometime on Friday late afternoon. The website form for a lost item didn't work, so I called the company and made my report. Because I'm slightly crazy with numbers, I happen to remember the number of the taxi, even though I had deleted all of the taxi confirmation messages from my phone that night. Lucky.

Saturday evening I received a call that they had contacted the driver and he has it. They gave me his hand phone number and his name, Mr. Ng. I texted him on Sunday and said that I appreciate that he had it and could he please drop it somewhere near an MRT station and I would come get it anywhere on the island. He called back and said he would drop it at my condo with the guards when he was around Little India later today. Our condo has about a million people and the guards can't really collect things for so many people. They're usually totally unwilling (though I haven't asked in years). I asked the guard on duty in the late afternoon if he could please keep an eye open, and rather than saying no, he took my unit number and mobile number and said yes. (Note- this guard always holds the door for me when I'm coming in and out with the kids). Sure enough, I received a call later in the evening from the driver, saying that he dropped it at my condo. Then I received a call from the guard saying that he had the water bottle. Seriously - that was above and beyond the taxi driver's job. It was a water bottle. I wrote to the company to give the positive feedback, and I really hope that this guy has someone treat him so nicely in the future.

Well done people. Well done.

New Children's Garden

A few weeks ago a new Children's Garden opened, at the Gardens by the Bay. We have only been to the Gardens by the Bay once, and to be honest, it was hot and kinda sucked. But I heard this was cool. We also heard it was UBER crowded. So we got up and out by 8:30 and were literally the first people to enter the gardens when they opened at 9am. 

It is honestly the coolest playground in the world. All kids should go there. 

Here's why it's amazing:

It's free.

It has a HUGE water play area and a smaller one with more predicable water sprays for little kids. Oh - the heat came back - so the water is amazing!

It has tons of fun things to climb on - there are chains, balance beams, monkey bars, climbing walls, climbing ropes, shaky bridges...TONS of stuff to explore. It says it's for ages 6-12, but Samara had a fantastic time exploring all of the climbing areas, though there were a few times she needed help.

There is a big shaded area with comfy chairs that are great for nursing.

The whole area with all of the climbing stuff is full of sand. So when the kid needs to chill out and play alone for a bit after engaging with a million new things and people, he/she can just build a sand castle.

I didn't get any photos of Sam in the water play area because I forgot, but here are some others from before she went into the water.

this one she needed help with, but she tried...a few times

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bed Time

Samara has her dinner around 5:45 or 6. She takes a bath at 6:45 and she is in bed by 7:15, almost always sleeping by 7:30.

Elie has been taking a bath around 6 then sleeping by 6:20 or 6:30.

Sam always woke up after 7...sometimes on the weekends she even slept until 8:30, but lately she has been waking more in the 6's (though the last two days were 7:15 - hooray!). Elie has been waking for the day between 7 and 8:30. He still wakes up most nights one or two times to eat quickly and go back to sleep.

Sam takes a 2-2.5 hour nap in the afternoon.

Elie has been taking two or three naps, depending on how early he wakes up and how late he wakes from his afternoon nap. Elie does not like to be awake for more than an hour and a half or so.

Now that Elie is sleep trained, he loves his sleep. Samara loves her sleep. I definitely have children who sleep. A lot. 

BUT...that is juxtaposed to many of the kids in Sam's school who seem to sleep about half the amount that my kids sleep - which is a HUGE difference! These kids go to sleep at 10pm at the earliest, usually more like 11 or 12, and they have to be woken for school, which starts at 9am. Most don't nap.

The mall at MRT is FULL of kids after 8pm. In face the mall opposite our condo is showing movies on Friday nights at 8pm in the courtyard - Madagascar and other little kid movies. At 8pm! I wish Sam could stay awake for that, but even if she tried she wouldn't be able to.

I just read a post on a mom's group I'm part of online where the woman said that her seven month old was going to sleep at 10:30 but because of Chinese New Year the bedtime has been pushed to midnight. Whoa! Elie can't handle the world past 6pm, but I can't get it together to get him in bed by then.

Some of the kids walking around in the evening seem like they are doing ok. Some look glazed in the eyes. Others are screaming. I can't believe there is something genetically different to kids here and in the west that makes them happier to get less sleep or be able to stay up later, so what is it? 

Also, on the parents' side, don't they want some time in the evenings? I LOVE my few hours in the evening when the kids are asleep. Totally different culture. Totally baffling to me on a lot of levels.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stay at Home Mom

About a month ago I was going to write a post about being a stay at home mom. It was going to say how I had LOVED spending time with Samara when I was working, full time and the few months that I worked part time before I was on bed rest. It was going to say how now, at the end of the days I have zero patience, and how I am just waiting for some time to myself. I had nearly forgotten about my personal needs and only spent every second of my time and energy on my kids. I wasn't liking it. I was going to say that when I was working I really struggled and felt like I wasn't really super AT work and also wasn't home enough. I was going to say that now that I was at home I felt like I wasn't even enjoying any of it.

But...then there was sleep training! And it's now been two and a half weeks, and I am loving it. Now that I'm not responsible for Elie falling asleep (he's really good at it now!), I know I will have a few hours each day to myself. I know he will sleep. I am sleeping (well enough - still waking one or two times for Elie to eat) at night, and I have so much more patience. I love the mornings with Samara, even if I wish they would start a few minutes later than they do. I love taking her to school each morning. I love watching her run in. I love my mornings where I can cook, or prepare for dinner, or bake, or shop or even have a coffee date with a friend. I love picking Samara up at school. I was never a part of her school - I had never even seen her classroom and had no idea what the culture of the school is like. Now I totally get it and I love it. I love our afternoons together too. Once they're up I give up on more naps for Elie and we get out of the house. We have spent a lot of time at the new playground behind our condo. We met friends at a water play area at another mall last week. We can go anywhere on the train or just go for a walk in our neighborhood. It's fun, no pressure, and I feel so fortunate to have this time with both of them.

I hope I keep feeling this lucky.

Part of my happiness in the situation is that I know it won't last forever. And soon I will feel the pressure to be working - at least in some way - again. I already have been thinking about what I can do with my spare time when Elie is sleeping and everything around the house is done. Though I always loved what I did, I was stressed about working, and I felt I could never relax. I definitely feel relaxed now, and I'm loving it.

Elie Starts Eating Food

As I have written about, Sam starting food was completely unsuccessful. She never took a willing bite of food until eleven months. She puked. She gagged. She cried. She hated all of it. We put food on her toys. We tried to sneak a bit of food in her milk. We tried to let her play. We tried to feed her. We tried EVERYTHING. She had no interest. She had less than no interest - she HATED all of it. It was awful. I honestly believed that I did something wrong. Maybe the purees weren't smooth enough to start? Maybe we started with the wrong food/s? Who knows, but whatever it was, it was not normal, and it has been a struggle since.

I now believe it is genetic, or just how they're wired. I am not drawing any conclusions yet, as Elie has only tried three (and a bit of another) foods so far, but even so far the experience is totally different. Elie shows interest. He plays with the food. He puts it in his mouth. If I hold it, a bit away from him, he moves his mouth to it and sucks on it. He goes back for more. He tried avocado and was mildly interested, but it was super slippery. He then tried bananas and he also found it hard to grab, but he put it in his mouth a few times and sucked on it. Pumpkin he seemed to like more - he was kind of nibbling on it, sucking on it and very interested. Just now I was eating an orange and he was staring, so I gave him a sector and he sucked on that a lot - couldn't get enough.

I am so relieved. Sam NEVER did this. She never showed even any positive feelings towards food (other than sweets, cakes, ice cream, etc.). It's actually kind of fun to make stuff for him and watch what he does. I'm looking forward to other foods, and I bet he is too!

Pumpkin (after the first, we realized naked was the way to go)