Normal speed is just the right speed for me

We made it to 6 months!

I was just reading the posts I wrote 6 months ago, remembering how I was wishing so badly that we could fast-forward these difficult months so we could just quickly get to the good parts.

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Now here we are and I’m glad we got through it at normal speed because those were the good parts. Look at that face! That’s one heck of a good part right there. Smooshed up with all the sleep deprived let-me-die-right-now moments were some of the sweetest, most heart-melting parts. I think that’s what makes it all so worth it, because life with a newborn is so hard and you give up so much for the baby and you’re bracing yourself to take the hit but then up pops these unexpected moments of flat out awesome and you just have to learn to bask in those moments.

This baby has been such a joy to have and I would not have missed the past 6 months for anything in the world.

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Happy 6 months, baby Theo!

POSB makes saving fun again

Since Truett started Primary 1 earlier this month, we’ve had a lot of fun teaching him about money management. So many lessons to be learnt here! In the past 2 weeks, I’ve gotten really good at monopoly junior and being a pretend supermarket cashier, among other things. The bad news is that even after so many practice visits to the mamashop (ha!), he still gets confused sometimes when he’s counting change but on the bright side, he now understands the value of money and the importance of savings.

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Every morning, Truett goes to school with $2 in his wallet and the deal is this: it’s his money so he can choose to spend it all on food/snacks/knick knacks or he can spend some of it wisely while saving the rest. When he comes home from school, he will transfer his savings to his piggy bank and we’ll match cent for cent the amount he’s saved each day. So if he saves $1, we’ll give him an additional dollar for a total of $2 savings that day.

Apart from the dollar matching system, we are also planning to introduce new ways to encourage him to save, like maybe have a goal/reward system in place. For example, we’ll set a goal of saving $4-5 a week and if he achieves it, he gets to have an extra hour of Wii time on Saturday morning.

On our part, we try to set a good example by saving money too. We figured that the best way to teach the kids something is to first do it ourselves so we have a special jar of coins where we drop in our savings into at the end of every day.

The first 3 days of school, Truett spent $1 on chicken rice and saved the extra $1. On the fourth day, he spent $1 on chicken rice, and another $1 on a packet of milo in school (I’m not sure if the milo costs $1 or he forgot to take his change from the vending machine – either way, he came home with $0). When it was time to transfer his money to his piggy bank, he realised that he had nothing left to transfer and he was super bummed about it. So he came up with a plan – he asked if we could buy packets of milo from the supermarket for him to bring to school so he wouldn’t have to spend his savings dollar on it. Smart move, because we did. Since that day, he’s been bringing his own milo to school and saving the extra dollar.

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It’s been a good start so far but cultivating the habit of saving takes time and I’m all for fun new initiatives that teach kids to save. When I heard about POSB’s National School Savings Campaign recently (it was started in 1969 – why did I not hear about this as a kid??), I thought it was brilliant. In fact, it’s so genius in its simplicity that I sort of wished I had come up with the idea myself (occupational hazard kicking in).

How this works is that each primary school student can get their POSB National School Savings stamp card from any POSB/DBS branch, SingPost outlet and at Pacific or Popular bookstores in schools from 2 February 2015 onwards. Stamps ($0.50 each stamp) will be sold at Pacific or Popular school bookstores and at SingPost outlets. So if Truett has $1 extra from his pocket money everyday, he can buy 2 stamps to stick on his stamp card. Once he completes the stamp card with 20 stamps, he can deposit the stamp card into any POSB/DBS Quick Cheque Deposit location, and the bank will then credit the full value ($10) and a $1 bonus (the bonus is limited to one stamp card per child, per month and only valid for POSBkids account holders) to his savings account. Didn’t I say it was genius?

First, you tackle the issue at the point where it happens. Recess time is when the kids are spending their money, so when they see the savings stamps being sold at the school bookstore, this acts as a reminder that they can (and should) save their money instead of spending it all.

It’s also a great move because kids are into collecting things. At least mine is. Truett has hoarder tendencies – it’s like a mission for him and gets a huge kick out of completing a collection.

And for some bizarre reason, kids love to buy stuff from the school bookstore. I used to have an unexplainable fascination for useless stationery trinkets from the bookstore when I was a kid so I fully understand this. So instead of buying a $0.50 sticker sheet that becomes worthless after it’s pasted on random surfaces, they can buy a cute $0.50 stamp, which is worth every cent. What a deal!

Smiley Squirrel

This National School Savings Campaign by POSB is a 10-month long initiative by POSB, supported by MOE. Together with Smiley the Squirrel, parents can pledge their support for the campaign and find out more about it here and encourage non-participating schools to pick it up too .

I told Truett about this campaign and he’s really looking forward to buying “money stamps” in school (fingers crossed that his school turns out to be one of the participating ones). I’m definitely pledging my support on this. :)

*Sign up here for an ePOSBkids account if your child doesn’t have one.

The making of resolutions

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Middle of Jan is when I typically do my new year resolutions. I used to make these ambitious lists on 31 December that quickly get shelved come the 2nd of January. The new year high has a way of clouding your judgement so these days I like to give it some time to get to know the new year a little bit better before making my resolutions.

By the time I get to the mid of the month, it’s like third date territory. By now, we’ve had a few drinks, watched a couple of movies together and are sort of comfortable enough to trade embarrassing stories. This is a good time to start planning for the rest of the year and talking about the number of babies we want together. What? Is that not a thing people do on third dates? It’s been a long time since I’ve had a third date so my memory of this is a little fuzzy. Although I’m pretty certain I told the husband that he should be prepared to have 7 kids sometime around our third date.

But let’s get back to discussing resolutions. Resolutions are my way of providing focus for the year and I feel like I need to refocus my life. Simplify things. Let some things things go. Account for my time better.

Okay, here we go.

// Educate my babies. Is it bad that this is at the top of my list for the year? All these years, we’ve been of the opinion that the kids should spend their childhood stress-free. Go play their crazy games of superhero tag (which is like regular tag but with capes!), or build forts with blankets, or have a spontaneous wedding ceremony in the living room. But with Truett officially in the system (and Kirsten about to enter the system), we’ve been spending our afternoons going through worksheets and drilling them on spelling lists. I imagine much of this year will be spent on learning the many ways we can say “yu” or “yi” and working out convoluted math scenarios. (If John has more apples than Lily and Lily has fewer oranges than Ali, what is Mary’s grandmother’s favourite colour?) On the bright side, Truett has been responding well to all that learning so we’ll try to keep this up.

// Love on my babies. These 4 babies are growing up way too fast. Just last night, I was holding baby Theo to get him through a coughing fit. He had his little arms wrapped around my neck just so and all I could think of was how my chubby mr cuddles is now the perfect size for holding. Soon, he will be all limbs everywhere but for now, he’s my just right ball of squishy baby fats. I want to get in as many snuggle sessions with these babies as I can.

// Simplify. Part of this involves decluttering. It feels amazing to need less stuff and to be happy with less. I hope to extend it to other areas too. Focus on the things that are important and let go of those that aren’t.

// Date nights. I’ve missed date nights. Having a new baby on top of 3 other babies has made date nights a scheduling impossibility. With Theo reaching the 6-month mark, I think it’s time to bring back date nights with the husband. It doesn’t have to be all fancy, I’d be happy just to have a few hours holding hands and walking with this man that I love.

// Read. And I don’t just mean catching quick articles on my phone in between diaper changes or kids books (great as they are). I mean getting lost in a good book the way I used to before babies came along. Nothing too ambitious, but I intend to read one book each quarter this year. I’m curating a book list to get started on and I’m open to suggestions if you guys have any to recommend!

// Dance. Did you know that at one point in my life (a very brief point!), I wanted to be a dancer? I’ve since discovered that I can’t dance to save my life but I still enjoy it and this dancing that I will do is not to be seen by any other human people except the small humans I gave birth to. Silly dances, crazy dances, get ourselves out of a slump dances, we’ll do them all and we’ll do them often.

// Laugh. I’m on a mission to fill this house with laughter. If there’s one thing I want the kids to remember of their childhood, it’s that it was filled with laughter. And love. And warm hugs. And magic. And wait, I did say one thing, so I guess it would have to be laughter.

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