What’s the magic word?

“Can I have some cake daddy?” asked my now almost 5 Little Missy.

As I’m still trying to inculcate my children with a habit of adding “please” into any requests, I looked at her and said, “What’s the magic word?”

She then looked at her daddy earnestly and said, “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.” 🙂

(For those of you who didn’t get it, “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” are the magic words Cinderella’s fairy godmother used to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horses, horses into horsemen and Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful gown. It’s from the old Disney Cinderella animated movie and my kids had just watched it at their grandparents’ over Chinese New Year. They loved it. Click here to watch Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo in action.)


Sleeping Beauty

One fine day, a day just like any other day, I tucked my normal  (spunky and bossy) little girl in for her afternoon nap. I gave her a big hug, a big kiss, said, “I love you, good-nap,” and closed her room door. An hour and half later, I opened the door quietly to take a peek only to discover…

My 4-year old had turned into a princess! 🙂

How precious is this? My very own Sleeping Beauty. I hope she lives happily ever after.

An Unfashionably Long Overdued Update

I had such lofty ambitions for this blog (note: had – past tense). It was going to contain lots of information about occupational therapy, a little more about speech therapy and some information about hearing loss.

That was wa..aaay back in 2010. Er… wait a minute, it is still 2010, I mean waaa…ay back in April 2010. It is incredible how fast the months fly by and yet somehow it feels like a millenium has passed. I guess that’s how it is when the going gets a little tough. Yup it has been tough and not too long ago I came to the realisation that I was suffering burnout. I discovered that when my friend posted this as her Facebook status.

BURNOUT (Definition @Merriam Webster): a) exhaustion of physical or emotional strength usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration

I was caught up in a whirlwind of trying so hard to help Hubby-jr “catch up” in school.

As a result of his delay in his language abilities (i.e. processing and expressing information in English) and his sensory processing issues, Hubby-jr had problems coping with school work. Not only was some of the things taught in class hard for him to fully grasp, it was difficult for him to pay sufficient attention in class to begin with. He was not able to filter out background noise or movement and focus as “normal” kids are able to do so. This is beyond the usual kids are easily distracted type of thing.

So, I have been helping him with his school work at home (read: tuition teacher) which has NOT been easy. There were many times I felt like I was teaching him everything from scratch. I felt like I was as good as homeschooling him with the added pressure to help him keep up AND I had to contend with lousy leftover time after school in the afternoon when Hubby-jr would rather do his own thing at home! Why didn’t I just pull him out and homeschool him? For one, he was happy in school. Seriously. Despite everything he enjoyed school. Two, I couldn’t hack it, I would be more nuts than I already am.

Besides helping Hubby-jr with his school work, I was also pushing hard in the area of occupational and speech therapy, trying to do as much as we could at home in hope of helping him “normalise” as quickly as possible. Ambitious right? I was just so driven. I just wanted him to reach a point where he could cope on his own with minimal help from me.

Needless to say, ALL of it wore me down. There were days where I could see sparks of hope and there were days I saw a never-ending tunnel. It was (is?) an emotional roller coaster. Honestly I thought I was pacing myself pretty okay, slowing down when I needed to and taking occasional breaks. And maybe I was. But I was burnout. Most of my free time was spent on mindless activities such as TV and retail therapy. I couldn’t write much and most of the time I didn’t even want to try writing.

The good news is the tide is finally changing. ALL my our (hubby’s, hubby-jr’s and my) hardwork is paying off. There has been significant improvement in school — his teacher reported he is now much more attentive and participative in class. He speaks much more fluently and confidently. AND… drumroll… the latest… just this week news… he has progressed to group occupational therapy every fortnight instead of his weekly single sessions previously. Needless to say, we are elated with the progress!

The journey filled with therapies (language and occupational) is not yet over for us. Hubby-jr still requires a fair bit of help with his school work albeit a teeny weeny bit less… but the latest good news has given my spirits a much needed uplift. 🙂

I hope to write a little more often but I’m afraid I can’t promise my intentions however sincere will come to fruition (I have learnt my lesson and not take on more than I can handle!)

No Tray No Play

I’ve always disliked my kids playing with Playdoh. Hmm… that didn’t quite come out right. Let me start again.

I like Playdoh and I like my kids playing with it (cos it’s really fun). What I dislike is the clean up after. It leaves behind ridiculously-tedious-clean-up messes that’s a tad too stressful for domestically-challenged moms like me. Meshed spots of playdough on the table, on the floor and on the playdoh accessories. Aargh!

(That explained some of the unopened playdoh gifts we’ve received over the years, to be more specific, since Hubby-jr was 1 and he’s 7 this year eeps…)

Yes, I have allowed them to play with it at home before, at times, but those times were highly dependent on me feeling “up-to-it” which suffice to say was rather, rather rare.

But my kids (like almost every other kid) love playing playdoh. So their love for it coupled with the unopened boxes of playdoh sets in their cupboard added to my already surmounting heap of motherhood guilt. Everytime they spotted the boxes and requested to play and I said “no,” I could just feel that 1 guilt point adding up. Yet even that couldn’t move me to succumb. That clean-up-after mess was a very real deterrent.

Well that was before. Now, I’ve finally let the playdough loose. Nope, I’ve not seen the light and think that I should be the perfect mom and deal with the after-mess with loving kindness. Instead I found a solution to prevent significantly minimise the after-playing-with-playdough mess! (Beam, pat myself on the back.)

The solution? I use two red trays which I bought for SGD3.90 a piece (I think) at IKEA and enforce the rule that all handling of playdough MUST be kept within the tray area. It works wonderfully. The cleaning up after is negligible. I’ve opened ALL playdough collections we’ve acquired and they were such a handy keep-the-kids-occupied tool during the last month-long holidays in June when we were frequently rained in,  AND… it has eliminated one of my motherhood-guilt contributors. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Hubby-jr's playing with the dentist set and yes, that's green playdough teeth!

As much as I wished it was so, this brilliant idea did not come to me while I was folding laundry, rather it was inspired by this post at one of my favourite websites – Ohdeedoh. Are you inspired too?


Handwriting. Yup, handwriting was one of the two key reasons that led us to occupational therapy (OT). Yes, believe it or not, it was handwriting (or the lack of) that convinced me.

We were recommended to send Hubby-jr for an OT assessment way back when we first looked into his speech/language development delay in 2007 (he was four then). But when we received the news he had mild/moderate hearing loss in his right ear – which helped explain most of his developmental delays – we didn’t pursue the OT assessment. We thought we had it figured out, more or less.

Perhaps my judgment was clouded at that point in time by the initial shock of his hearing loss and formal confirmation of his developmental delays (social and language). Looking back I think I was simply overwhelmed and I found all of it hard to digest. So much so I couldn’t bear the thought of one more assessment. Why go through it if it was not absolutely necessary?

Well that was then, I was wrong and in hindsight I regret not going through with the OT assessment.

So what was different this time round that made me take that step? Desperation? In part I guess. But honestly – his serious difficulty with handwriting tipped the scales. It gave me a tangible reason to seek OT. To me it was the only visible symptom.

Okay, some of you may be wondering how bad could his handwriting have been. Hmmm…let me count the ways. His letters were poorly aligned, for example his “r” was as tall as “h” and “t” was as short as “a”. There were no spaces where there should be (in between words) and random gaps between letters where there shouldn’t be. This despite me having taught and drilled him in K2. It was also either too dark (too much pressure on the pencil) or too light, there was no middle ground.

I also received feedback from his class teacher (and his previous kindergarten teacher) that he was very slow in his written work. At the beginning of the year (P1) he was always the last in copying from the board and he almost never could complete any written work in time. If the teacher gave him time to complete his work, she had to ask the rest of his classmates to do some colouring while waiting.

At home, I could see for myself how labourious it was for him. It took him tremendous amount of time and effort just to write neatly. A five sentence handwriting assignment could take him 30-45 minutes just to complete!

I began to seriously wonder why it was that difficult for him to do something that shouldn’t be all that difficult. I also knew I had to do something. How on earth could he survive school if he continued writing at this rate?

Hence when I was recommended to send him for an OT check (the second time), I was very open and we just went for it. Like I said, I was desperate. I was desperate for any explanation, more importantly for any solution.

Having said that, the results of the OT wasn’t what I expected. I kept thinking it had to be his fine motor skills. Well turns out, Hubby-jr’s difficulty with handwriting had little to do with his fine motor skills. It had more to do with poor core muscle tone which probably is a result of his vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues.

Poor core muscle tone?! I must have gaped when the occupational therapist told me that. Hubby-jr is an active boy who has amazing stamina. He climbs, runs and slides down “fireman poles” at the playground which he visits almost every evening since he was almost 2?! As a friend of mine aptly exclaimed when I told her the diagnosis, “that is SO BIZARRE!” She has often seen him at play.

Well, I guess that’s why we pay the experts. They can pick up stuff that seemingly look normal to us. For more information on the basic skills needed for handwriting check out this link.

The occupational therapist was right (in case you were skeptical). Since we started OT in March, Hubby-jr’s handwriting has improved signficantly. His pencil control is much better, he can write neatly (when he wants to) and quickly now. In school, he can now complete his work in time! Amazing.

But he is not done with OT. He still needs it. Handwriting was only the tip of the iceberg.

Tim Burtonesque?

Thanks for dropping me encouraging notes in my previous post. Life has pretty much swung into a routine (albeit a new and more hectic routine) these days. And yes, I will elaborate more sometime down the road.

But for today I thought I’d post something on a much lighter note.

My other child, Little Missy  (who by the way turned 4 quite recently) loves to draw (and colour and even learning to write!) Yup, the total opposite of her older brother. Drawing people is one of her most recent acquired skills. When I saw her first “person” it spooked me out. Seriously.

See what I mean?! What’s with the eyes and mouth? I swear neither hubby or I have exposed her (or her brother) to any of the Tim Burton DVDs or books in our house. Err… yeah, hubby and I are fans… The picture by the way is supposed to be her and her Kor-Kor (older brother).

In an attempt to lessen the spookiness without dampening her spirit, I suggested drawing eyeballs within the eye and coloring only the eyeballs. I couldn’t make her do away with the teeth. It has to be drawn she insisted. Here’s the result.

What’s with the eyelashes at the bottom of the eyes? At this point I gave up and decided to just let her “talent” evolve naturally. No more intervening from me. I love Tim Burton stuff anyway. It’s just a little baffling since she loves Strawberry Shortcake and Hello Kitty type of things… yes,  see! I’ve been surrounding her with sweet, cheery stuff. Nothing dark. I swear.

Then a few days ago I discovered this.

The teeth is still a little creepy but it is a whole lot less spooky don’t you think? 🙂

I just had to post my little girl’s first drawings. They sure did spook me but they also made me smile (cos I found them funny), made me a little teary on the inside (she’s growing) and made me beam a whole lot (I’m so proud)!

Writing again, at last

Has it only been more than 2 months since I last wrote? Somehow it seems like decades ago to me. Yes in part it is because I enjoy writing and have missed doing so but mainly because SO much has happened during that time. 

In early February 2010, I brought Hubby-jr to a speech therapist for an assessment. Why? Well, even though I was hoping – hoping so badly I almost convinced myself Hubby-jr was doing alright – my gut told me he wasn’t. I knew in my gut that he wasn’t socialising or expressing himself as well as his peers and in a sea of primary school students it became more obvious. So I brought him for a speech assessment just in case (I was still hoping my gut was wrong). 

As it turned out, he not only needed to start speech therapy again (weekly for at least a year) I was also advised to send him for an occupational therapy check. Which we (hubby and I) did and bingo, he needed weekly occupational therapy as well. Apparently my son has sensory issues as well, perhaps due to his hearing problem (hard of hearing in his right ear). He has… here goes… vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues. If you’re going WHAT?! Yup, sensory integration was a whole new world to me too. I’ll try to elaborate more in my next post. Promise. But for now, you’re stuck with just the jargons as I’m writing an as brief as possible update. 

At the same time I also came across some blogs and articles about children with mild to moderate hearing loss. It made me question if Hubby-jr seriously needed a hearing aid. So I emailed his audiologist and asked for a review of his records and asked for a recommendation. Guess what? They called me and said… yes, with his hearing profile his right ear should be fitted with a hearing aid! So my son has been wearing a hearing aid since 30 March 2010. Thankfully he adjusted to it very well right from get go and he told me it helps him hear better in school. 

So there, that is all (well not ALL but the more significant events) that’s happened over here in my home since I last posted. 

I battled through a wide spectrum of emotions as each news came. It has not been easy or painless. I grappled with God and tears accompanied quite a number of my prayers. But through it all I could see His faithfulness and feel His love. I may elaborate in my future posts. 

These days, I am hopeful (in the Lord) and… plain exhausted at the end of most days. Besides bringing him for the therapy sessions, I have to do follow up exercises (speech AND occupational) at home with him as much as I can. On top of that I’ve to help him with school work (homework, spelling). Not forgetting I DO have another child who still needs a fair amount of my attention. Yes, there’s also laundry, dinners to prepare… 

But by the grace of God I am coping, some days rather well and some days, not. All in all a whole lot better than I expected. I am learning to let go and let God. He is the source of my strength. 

Isa 40:28-31

28 Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

 29 He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.

 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
       and young men stumble and fall;

 31 but those who hope in the LORD
       will renew their strength.
       They will soar on wings like eagles;
       they will run and not grow weary,
       they will walk and not be faint.

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