Celebrate Christmas Around the World {Activity Pack Review}

I had a wonderful opportunity to review Christmas Around the World Activity Pack created by members of Multicultural Kid Blogs Community. It is now being on sale!
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of this activity pack in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own. 
There are 6 countries introduced in the pack: Brazil, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Sweden.
It is very attractive and filled with beautiful yet simple illustrations. The activities are appropriate for children from 2 years old up. And they certainly can help making the recipes!
The instructions and descriptions are very clear. You don’t really need to see the final product to know what it will look or taste like! And it was nice to see the variety of activities: from printable DIYs, to crosswords and a review of what you’ve learned at the end.
And, of course, I liked Christmas vocabulary from few different countries are introduced: even if the children never study those languages, the words will remain somewhere in their memory and make their multicultural and multilingual experience much more interesting! We don’t really celebrate Christmas but as a part of cultural exposure this is a great resource for families like ours or for ESL students who don’t have the first hand experience with Christmas.
I highly recommend this activity pack if you are looking to introduce your children or students to the ways Christmas is celebrated in 6 different countries through basic information about these countries, traditions, activities and recipes. It could be a great family project for Christmas holidays, too!
Posted in Christmas. Tagged with .

Dances of India: Book Tour {Book Review}

Today I am sharing with you a review of the book called Dances of India!

  Maya and Leela book cover

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. Logos and book pages are shared with the permission of the author and are not to be used for commercial purpose without the author’s permission.

Since I was a little girl I was taken by the beauty of India’s dance art. I dreamed all my life that I could study one dance style professionally but it wasn’t meant to be and I taught myself some elements of traditional dance styles and used to perform what is called Contemporary Indian dance for a while. My heart still skips a beat when I hear beautiful Indian music and listen to Indian songs.
Hence, when the opportunity came up to review Dances of India, I was really excited: I had a chance to introduce this bit of my world to my children!
Dances of India is the first of the books in the Little Loka Series (™). Two elephant sisters Maya and Leela give children a multicultural experience by traveling around the world and introducing cultural elements of the countries they visit.little-lokas-logo_400px-small_web
The book is designed for younger children from birth to 4 but my 6 year old enjoyed it as much!
We loved how colorful the book is – the illustrations are very beautiful and attractive. And the words and descriptions are fairly simple and pass on the joy and excitement to the reader.
The book introduces the elements and the spirit of Indian dances and I honestly felt like getting up, turning on the music and dancing – that much joy there is in the book itself!
You can purchase this book directly from the website’s store or over at Amazon! This would be a great multicultural gift to the global citizen you are bringing up in your home!
Posted in Book review, Books, Children, India, Indian Dance. Tagged with .

Five Ways to Deal With Terrible Twos Meltdowns

Miss A is 2. And since she turned 2, some magic happened and she’s become so different from the calm and content baby and 1 year old she was. First, I thought it was because we had a new baby. Then, I started worrying that perhaps it is some kind of disorder (you can’t blame a mom for worrying when her child keeps “melting down” over and over again for 30-40 minutes!).
So, I addressed my concerns some to fellow KBN members and I got to read this great article from Planning With Kids called Characteristics of Two (and a half) Year Old Behaviour; plus a lot of reassuring experience sharing. Oh, yes, if you wonder, I did know about terrible 2s. I just never experienced them first hand! Miss T had terrible 3s and terrible 4s, plus she is such a spirited energetic and happy child that it is VERY easy to make her laugh in a middle of a meltdown. It is very different with Miss A who has always been very serious, concentrated and HAS TO have things her way.
Before reading the articles we’ve been trying to come up with all sorts of creative ways of dealing with meltdowns. Of course, we are mere humans who also lose patience from time to time, so we go into meltdowns ourselves when all else fails.
Here are 5 things that work {most} of the time. Disclaimer: these are suggestions based on personal experience. If you apply them and fail – well, I am sorry, every child is different! However, if you have enough patience to attempt over and over again, at some point your efforts will be rewarded and you {will} burn a good bunch of calories along the way!
1. Don’t give too many choices. Limit them to 2 items: 2 dresses; 2 pairs of shoes; 2 food items; 2 activities; and so on. Too many choices are overwhelming and are likely to cause even worse anxiety (but you probably already know that!).
2. There is a difference between giving in and allowing some independence. E.g. if your child insists on getting dressed himself, by letting him try you are not giving into a tantrum. You are giving him a chance and you have to state so: “That’s fine, then. You can try yourself and I am here if you need help.” It took some battles for me to realize that miss A WILL come back asking to put her shirt on for her when she can’t figure it out. Or she will start crying and I tell her: “Oh, mama’s got you! Come here and let me see how you can do that!” – which usually means “come here and let me help you”.
3. Picking a child up and putting in a safe place during a meltdown with arms, legs and stuff flying around works. She will come running out, and you pick her up and put her right back in. And you talk her through it with a monotonous voice, as in, no emotions. You may repeat it a few times before she settles. Tip: leave a book or few toys nearby which will switch her attention when she stopped fighting whatever she was fighting.
4. One of the reasons why toddlers fuss and throw fits is because… they are hungry or thirsty. Their metabolism works so fast so they are constantly hungry. It doesn’t mean you have to stuff them up with food and let them eat whatever, but having a couple of favorite snacks and drinks handy, especially when you go out, works wonders!!!
5. Cut yourself some slack. You are probably not doing anything wrong. Your child is undergoing some major changes physically and emotionally.  So… breath in and out, and get back to being a parent. So you lost it today. As parents we also grow and learn and what we like to call “parenting fail” is not really a failure – it is a lesson to where our current limitations are and a chance to improve ourselves.
How do you deal with meltdowns?
Posted in Meltdown, Parenting, Terrible twos, Toddler.

October: Healthy Lung Month

Health Lung MonTH
I have recently been in communication with a wonderful lady, a Mesothelioma survivor, a mom and a blogger – Heather Von St. James. She shared her story with me and believe it or not, it was some interesting coincidence since I have a very close friend whose father is in the last days of this earthly life due to the same cancer Heather won a battle with.
This is how I came to know that October is nominated as Healthy Lung Month by Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. This month they are approaching bloggers around the world to raise awareness for lung health and I gladly decided to participate. Here is a great infographic  on general lung health and Mesothelioma (click to enlarge) :
Unnamed QQ Screenshot20141017134108
Growing up in a household with a father who smoked heavily, we have always been exposed to the second hand smoke. That didn’t stop me or my sister from trying our hand in this addictive habit. I was quite lucky to rid of it when I did – when I later read about the risks that second and third hand smoke cause, I have become very serious about not having myself, and down the road –  my family, exposed to it.
However, while there are some obvious “dangers” we can avoid, there are also elements in the nature and technology that can affect us gravely but the harm won’t be discovered until much later in life. Such is the Asbestos – a very poisonous mineral whose byproducts affect our lung lining. This exposure causes a very painful and very hard to treat cancer called Mesothelioma Cancer.  There are other risk factors that can cause Mesothelioma, however Asbestos is known to be the primary one.
I remember as a child we used to hang out A LOT at the construction sites. And play with materials there. So, as a matter of fact, I could possibly be exposed to this mineral as well if it was in fact used in those construction sites (I can only hope and pray I didn’t! It’s been close to 30 years ago and the length of latency is anywhere between 10 and 40 years!).
How can we, as parents, ensure the lung health in our children? Here are a few ideas I came up with after reading all the information in lung diseases and lung cancer:
1. By all means, do not allow your children to be in very close proximity to construction materials which might or definitely contain Asbestos. It refers to city constructions and shipyards.
2. If you works at a construction site or in the shipyard, take preventive measurements, such as wear masks, cover your skin and hair, change your clothes before going back home (since the elements tend to get stuck to those and you may inadvertently carry Asbestos byproducts back home to your loved ones!)
3. Avoid smoking and exposing yourself and your family to smoke.
4. If you live in areas with high air pollution, get an air purifier and avoid being outside during the days with heavy pollution (or wear masks!)
5. Air out your house from time to time. And keep it as dust free as possible.
6. Getting some plants, like aloe or cactus, will help with keeping the air in the house cleaner.
7. Go for full body checks at least once a year and keep an eye on getting strange and unusual symptoms.
8. Don’t delay going to the doctor if you or your children get sick. Diagnosis the disease and deciding on a course of treatment will help prevent complications.
9. Go out with your children, take them to grassy areas with trees, if possible. It will not only promote general health, but will also help them get in touch with the nature.
10. Swimming is know to help strengthen the lungs. Go swimming!
11. Exercise. Even a mild exercise and walking give you more chances for improving health.
I am sure there are many more preventive measures to ensure lung health you can list. So please, share them with me!
I wish you all health!



Posted in Asbestos, Children, Family, Lung cancer, Lung cancer prevention, Lung health, Mesothelioma.

MKB Blogging Carnival: Harvest Traditions From Around the World

Autumn is traditionally the time to harvest crops and to prepare for winter by clearing the fields, canning and storing food.
When I was growing up in Russia we always had “dacha” – a summer garden, often with a house and “banya” (Russian sauna) – where we spent time from around April til late September planting, growing, harvesting various crops and just enjoying our summer days with family and friends. As much as I really didn’t like working there as a child,  I am grateful that this place fed us through difficult times of economic crisis where we sometimes literally had nothing but potatoes to eat.  Plus, canning gave us all those delicacies we never dreamed of buying in the shops (it is only now we can!). I have seen my mother and my sister through making all sorts of jams and pickles, various sauces and canned vegetables ready-to-cook for soups and stews. Back in the day we had a book or two with many recipes, plus my mom kept a little hand-written recipe book with recipes from friends and family.
Today’s post is a part of the traditional MKB blogging carnival and I have asked fellow bloggers to share their experiences and stories about growing and harvesting crops in their counties and their families.
Leanna of All Done Monkey shares her experience on apple harvesting with her son. They like going to the Apple Hill and enjoy various fun activities besides apple picking. Read more about the fascinating time you can offer children at  Apple Hill in Leanna’s post  .
Carol of A French American Life shares about introducing harvesting to her children through various holidays and activities. Read more about it in her post on Harvest Time.
Anna from Russian Step by Step Children elaborates more on “dachas” and growing/harvesting experiences in Russia. Reading her post on the Season of Dacha took me back in memories and made feel very nostalgic.
SJ Begonja of Chasing the Donkey shares a post on… olive oil making. We all do love olive oil and this was fascinating for me to read about Adriatic Olives!
Eva of Eva Varga shares about their field trip to a cranberry farm.  Besides that Eva offers a recipe of her family’s favorite cake – Lingonberry cake!
How do you celebrate Autumn? Do you expose your children to the experience of harvesting? Are there any interesting harvesting traditions in your country that are still being practiced? Please share with us!
Posted in Blogging Carnival, Dacha, Harvest. Tagged with .

Baby Care Series: Mommy and Baby Blues – Coping Technique


As Mini-man is moving from growth spurt to wonder week and growth spirt again,  he is changing his sleeping schedule which makes him unsettled.

I have mentioned in the previous post on surviving sleepless nights with a newborn that his sleeping pattern were not at all mommy-sleep-friendly. So I have been tired and sleepy, and have these sudden waves of exhaustion overwhelming me.

Naturally, I get frustrated when I have just rocked him to sleep just to put him down and him popping his eyes open and starting to whale. Sounds familiar?  Or my toddler running into the room screaming something at me or him: miss A -1; mommy – 0!

If you must know,  the pregnancy and postpartum hormones mess us up quite a bit. We feel like there is just no room to breath, there are no clothes that haven’t been stained with a spit up,  there isn’t a corner where a child can’t find you. I’m really not complaining,  I’m merely admitting: yes, I get overwhelmed and tired.

At the same time I realise how hard it is for a newborn baby to cope. And so after having 3 babies I suddenly understood something: postpartum blues are not only something that happens to moms – it happens to babies too.

Here is a technique I came up with  that is helping me to chase frustration away, help you and the crying baby to calm down and I would like to share them with you.

1. As you lean to pick up your baby,  exhale with your whole body through your mouth slowly, saying long “who”. As you grab the baby and pull towards yourself,  inhale with “is it?” Hug the baby tight in the middle of your chest, with one hand on the back of his head and one arm under his bottom. Baby’s legs should be bent in knee area and pulled up a bit – almost like sitting. Rock him in a slightly bouncy motion up and down,  gently patting his back.

2. After few pats add a continuous “sh” sounds. Do it the following way: one long “sh” on exhale, followed by several shorter “sh-sh-sh” on the next exhale.
Please check the file below to listen how it should sound.

Note: you don’t need to stand for it. You can assume most comfortable position, however try to keep the baby as upright as possible.

Usually the baby starts settling down within a few minutes. Sometimes it takes a while. However,  you will start settling too. There is something in the sound “sh” that calms you down and settles you. One of the reasons why (and you will notice it right away) – you need to make sure it is on exhales. So when you start controlling your breathing,  you get a boost of oxygen and your mind clears from other thoughts and concentrates on one thing.

I hope this technique is useful for you. I have used “shushing” in the past but never so purposely. It is not a big science that using “sh” sound calms the babies (white noise). But now as I discovered it calms me too, I use it when I have to deal with my older children.

If that didn’t help, you can always scream into the pillow!

What are your relaxation techniques?

Posted in baby blues, Baby Care, mommy blues, Newborn, postpartum, shushing, Sleep. Tagged with .

China 101: Giving Birth in Zhuhai Part 3 {Things to Take to the Hospital}


If you read my ABOUT page,  you will learn that I am not just an expat and a stay-home mom: I am a qualified professional and I try my best to form my opinions as neutrally as possible in order not to sugar-coat the life here nor to make it sound like China is a horrible place. It is really neither and like everywhere it is a special place with its own tradition, rules, regulations and culture.

When I first got pregnant I came across a lovely lady who was about to leave Beijing and who gave me several books on pregnancy, including Best Friends’ Guide to Pregnancy which I loved. She had also shared with me a list of things I would need to take with me to the hospital which I later modified and elaborated to suit hospitals in Zhuhai.

This list I shared with a few friends and they all agreed that it was quite helpful especially for first time moms and expat moms planning on having a baby in Zhuhai. I guess some of it would be appropriate for local moms, but as I said above – the cultural trends on whole childbearing are at times quite different. So if you are a local mom you will benefit from this post by learning what hospitals here have to offer. If you are an expat mom, besides the former,  you will also learn what will be useful to you in the hospital and what you shouldn’t bother preparing.

Note: make sure you have your passport with you and your hospital file!

Before I share the list with you, here’s what local hospitals don’t offer to new moms:

1. There is no well-estahlished breastfeeding support. You will find that while everyone is for breastfeeding,  formula industry is intertwined and pushed to hospitals here.  So if you plan on breastfeeding,  your best shot is BTDT moms, family members and YouTube. You are also welcome to engage my professional services as I am a breastfeeding consultant and a baby massage instructor;  and I can teach  you the basics of newborn care. For more information please contact me via my email address or via my other website – Zhuhai Family Connections

2. As I mentioned in Part 1 – you will not be allowed into the NICU ward for as long as the baby is there. There are some visitation hours but you are not allowed to hold your baby or feed him.

3. There is no food service at the hospitals. There are some canteens and restaurants around but usually the food is brought by family. I personally think it has to do with the fact that every family has traditions on what women should eat postpartum. But may be hospitals just don’t want to bother with it.

4. No one will teach you how to swaddle the baby. So you have to ask someone to show you or watch some videos online and practice on a doll.

5. No one will teach you how to bathe or massage your baby.  Well, they might show you how to bathe the baby but they won’t let you try under their supervision.

6. No one will bother with the car seat. So get your own if you feel like having one.

As I get more feedback from fellow expats I’ll be adding and editing.

Now, here’s that list you’ve been waiting to read.

Things for Mommy:

1. Hospital clothes. If you are of a small or medium size, you don’t need to bother with special clothes for hospital as they have pajamas they give you to wear. If you are of a large size and above, you might want to bring your own clothes to wear. Don’t bring anything fancy as it will get stained in all possible ways.

2. Hospitals provide with maternity sanitary pads and while some of them are super comfortable especially for women after c-section,  some are not and are incredibly hard to change or wear. So do your homework and bring your own. Plus you’ll save some money on that!

3. Hospital doesn’t offer any soap or other personal hygiene items.  Tooth paste,  tooth brush,  soap, body wash, sponges, shampoo,  towels – all should be yours. Note: it is not customary here to shower after having a baby for some days (just sponge baths), so you might be told you can’t do it. I personally wouldn’t recommend making your c-section scar wet for about a week so it has time to close over better.  But go with what is usually done back home!

4. Cooling/heating pad. You won’t get ice to put on your scars or sore areas.

5. Important: phone charger! You do want to be in touch with the rest of the world.

6. Painkillers. You are given a gelatinous IV that slowly melts for pain.  But it is not enough for some. So you can consult with a pharmacist back home and bring your own painkiller with you. Just to get something as simple as paracetamol requires doctor’s prescription there and you might end up waiting for a while as there are just too many people and few doctors!

7. Lanolin cream if you plan on breastfeeding. I found Medela has the best type and it can be purchased in Macau or Hong Kong in baby shops.

8. Nursing pillow is good but not a must. However it does help a lot if you had a surgery and plan on breastfeeding.

9. Slippers. Because you won’t get any at the hospital.

10. Cups and cutlery.

11. Toilet paper. Yes, don’t be surprised – they often run out or don’t even have any!

12. Nursing bras or comfortable cotton bras if you won’t breastfeed + nursing pads. Whether you breastfeed or not , milk will come in and it might start leaking, more for some than for others.

13. Comfortable old underwear that you can throw away or disposable underwear. I don’t need to tell you why. The type we call “grannie’s panties” will be your best friends for at least a month.

14. Load your phone/mp3 player/ iPad with  favorite music. It will help you relax when they baby is sleeping and you can’t no matter what everyone says about sleeping when the baby sleeps.

Things for  baby:

1. Unless you want to take fancy pictures of your baby there is no need to bring clothes to wear at the hospital – they will give clothes and blankets for the baby which you give back when discharged.

2. If you want to use your own clothes for the baby don’t bother with too many:  onsies and swaddling blankets will be enough. Plus baby hats and socks. You will probably need onsies 2-3 per day.

3. Going home outfit.

4. Diapers and wipes. They will give them to you at the hospital but they will also charge. Plus if you want to cloth diaper, you will definitely need your own. Here’s a little secret: babies “go” quite often. Some babies don’t. But majority do. So your big expense will be diapers – choose your brands and deals wisely!

5. Pacifier/binky if you plan on using one. Hospital will not give you one nor introduce it.

6. Burping towels/cloth. Bring many! I had at least 10. Regular small towels would do.

7. Diaper cream or just plain Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly). Plain Vaseline worked the best for us as it is truly hypo-allergenic and it prevents moisture and newborn’s poop from irritating very sensitive baby’s skin.

8. If you plan on formula feeding, I suggest bringing your own formula and gear. While hospital formula is fine, you will later give another type to your baby and he may not accept it. Plus, formula at the hospital is expensive and distributed by their own schedule. You can wash the bottles right there and have your own electric steriliser handy.

Few words for dads: bring yourself a pillow and a blanket, and changes of clothes plus whatever else you need. Even in Super VIP room there is only 1 pillow and 1 blanket for moms!

Well, that’s about it. If you have more suggestions based on your experiences – let me know!

Posted in Baby Care, Baby Massage, Breastfeeding, China, hospital. Tagged with .

Baby Care Series: Surviving Nights With A Newborn

It’s been 3 months post-partum and while my son started pulling longer stretches, I don’t see sleeping through the night (further referred to as STTN) in the near future. Not that I am expecting him to: I am one of those moms who made peace with the baby not to STTN for as long as I breastfeed.
Here’s a bit of a sleep story from the past: my first one woke up every 1-2 hours to nurse. It got progressively “worse” around growth spurts, “wonder weeks”, teething, colds and whatever else you can think of. When she had her major vocabulary burst at 23 months, she literally stopped sleeping. I mean, normally once they “break through” they are supposed to sleep better, right? Wasn’t the case with miss T: she woke up every 15-30 minutes just to latch and unlatch and repeat several times, getting angry and depriving herself of sleep and me too. We both had dark circles under our eyes. I thought it was the time to wean and I did it as gently as possible in the course of about 5-6 weeks. I will be honest: first 3 months of my daughter’s life because she was waking up so often, I felt like a failure and reading all happy STTN stories and my mom telling me that she should STTN by 3 months were not helpful! I cried every single day – I was sleep deprived, I was grumpy, I was stressed and probably a little depressed. However, I had a great support team member with me – my husband – and thanks to him I pulled myself out of self pity, did more real research and understood once and for all that this is what most of the babies do. And the percentage of those who STTN or pull long stretches is very low compared to the above!
With my 2nd daughter, first three months were a bit of a disaster as well. But my mom was here in the first months and literally held her for 3 hours at a time swaddled and close to her body so I could sleep. Once she left, baby wearing was a saviour during the day – she had a bad reflux and while we didn’t resort to medicine, I wore her for all her naps and she was comfy in the carriers. By the time she was 3 months, she started pulling what is called STTN (5 hours stretch when she was down for the night, then 3 hours and then another 2-3 hours). During the day she napped for 3-4 hours at a time and I had plenty of time to do whatever I pleased. She was also breastfed and self-weaned at 18 months when I was pregnant with our baby #3. She started sleeping full night from 8pm to 6am before she weaned.
With this baby #3, the first month was tough: he is tongue-tied so he couldn’t latch nor nurse properly. He was getting tired, losing the breast and he was also jaundice until he was 10 weeks old. He woke up every hour. My mother was here and she did the same with him as with baby #2: she would swaddle him and hold him so I could rest or take care of other 2 children. Still he wouldn’t sleep long stretches. As he crossed over 1 month, he started sleeping a little longer but not until he found his 2 fingers. So while during the day he can go onto cluster feedings, he does pull 3-4 hour stretches for the night and he goes to bed earlier for the night than my girls, so it gives me time to prepare them for their night time and also spend some time with my husband or, like today, work on something (my blog, my translation gigs, doing household chores and more).
So… my own advice to all first time moms: you are having a baby. A being is coming into this world which is foreign to him/her. He/she is feeling insecure, every change make the baby disturbed. Please, prepare yourself mentally that you won’t sleep for at least a year or 2 (or 3?). What we think is abnormal – sleeping in 1-4 hours stretches – it is absolutely normal for the baby. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed, the baby has the same patterns: they wake up when hungry, when the diaper is dirty, when they didn’t finish burping, when the sudden noise scares them, when they feel insecure being away from you. There are many more reasons I can add.
So, what can you do when your baby’s sleeping patterns are not to your liking or go against your own? I won’t tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps – it NEVER worked for me. I could just as successfully count sheep and elephants all 1-2 hours and have no sleep in my body. But here are a few tips that will help you cope:
1. Plan your activities around your baby’s… sleeping place. If you have ironing to do – keep the laundry basket in the area, along with the ironing board and iron. Need to cook? I don’t know how your house is, but I would not do all the cutting and peeling in the kitchen – I would bring it into the dining/living room so I could still hear the baby and the distance between me and the baby would be shorter.
2. If you have other children: use those moments to do something with them - read a book, cuddle, check their homework. If it is a younger child, be prepared for noise which will possibly wake the baby up. It is ok to get frustrated: God knows, I still do get frustrated when my toddler runs into the bedroom when I JUST put Mini-man down, and yells out his name! Having some toy, book, stickers in your reach will distract your toddler from the baby. I still find stickers in my bed and in my clothes – I just let miss A go wild with those as they keep her occupied and quiet, and while she is busy with them I can stretch my body (oh, and my body and clothes get decorated too!).
3. Cook for a couple of days in advance or try freezing food for later. Only recently I started cooking almost every day. But it worked very well cooking for 2-3 days in advance and warming up small amounts.
4. Hydrate. Breastfeeding or not, we often forget to drink enough and being dehydrated makes us more tired.
5. Stock up on favorite shows, movies and books. When I have to hold my children for a long time on me so they get enough sleep while getting over whatever that is bothering them, I watch my favorite shows/movies or read something.
6. STOP Googling “Why my baby doesn’t sleep?”. Ok, perhaps if your baby REALLY doesn’t sleep you could Google. Or better – consult a pediatrician. But remember that a breastfed baby sleeps stretches anywhere from 40 minutes to few hours. So, unless your newborn is up for several hours, don’t be in a hurry to label him with some sleeping disorder. And if you are still concerned about sleeping patterns – consult pediatrician. We, moms, tend to exaggerate and brag about how well our children sleep. What you may not read is the methods that are at times used to make babies sleep longer (e.g. introducing “crying out” method before 6 months – basically making poor newborns whale themselves to sleep). Of course, there are plenty of no-cry sleep solutions, but read those carefully and check what age group is recommended for them before starting that sleep training.
I could go on and on, but I would also like to share some tips from fellow blogger moms of KBN and MKB on how they coped with sleepless nights! Feel free to click on the links next to the names and check out these awesome blogs!
Here’s what they replied when I asked how they coped with sleepless nights during newborn stage:
  • Katie of Playing With Words 365:  Co-sleeping and coffee. 
  • Jodi of Meaningful Mama: My husband encouraged me to sleep when I could. I had to let some things go and be more laid back with my expectations of myself. If the baby was sleeping, I was sleeping or resting too.
  • Kim of Life Over C’s After three straight years of sleep deprivation, I should have this down to a science…LOL! My best tip is to automate as many functions as you possibly can: If you have a child who regularly doesn’t sleep well, make sure you schedule all your bills for auto-pay, double up recipes and freeze them or do once a month cooking so that you have something to pull out of the freezer on the really bad days. If you homeschool pick an automated curriculum, something that you don’t need to do lots of prep with. Have someone clean your house once a week (even if it’s a friend that you barter with). These simple things will take a lot of stress off when you are sleep deprived. 
  • Jen of Mama.Papa.BubbaOn really hard, sleepless nights I’d sit and rock my baby and remind myself that one day {too soon} the nursing / rocking / shushing filled nights would be over with and I’d never get to go back to that stage of life with my little girl. Seems sort of silly, but it got me through.
  • Brittany of Love Play and LearnAdjust your expectations for yourself and family. When you are sleep deprived, just do the bare minimum for you to survive and thrive. Being in a survival mode while you have a new baby is perfectly okay so be forgiving to yourself! 
  • Nicola of Multicrafting MummyMake sure to have a good book on your kindle so you can nurse your baby in one arm and read in the other without turning on the lights. This helped pass the time for me until my littlest on eventually slept the night!
  • Cindy of Two Muses HomeschoolDon’t feel guilty if the only place you can get the baby to sleep is the swing. The baby won’t fit in it forever. Embrace it, and get the rest you need while baby swings away. 
  • Ute of Expat Since Birth: Co-sleeping helped us a lot, especially with twins who woke up at different times up to 8 times per night when in their own bed. And relaxing exercise for the mum: keep your eyes closed as much as possible, no lights on and practice mindfulness! Don’t think ‘but I must sleep’ or get irritated or upset (consumes way too much energy!), do focus on what you can do to have some rest (even if you don’t get a proper sleep). And keep everything you may need for the babies within reach so that you don’t need to get up all the time… This topic brings back memories and the feeling that once you survive this period, you feel like you’ve reached the top of Mt Everest.
  •  Rachel of Adventures in Wunderland:  Haha, COFFEE! And knowing that they won’t be newborns forever and eventually you will sleep again 
  • Anna of Russian Step By Step ChildrenWith my second we had a system: I pumped at some point during the day,and when the baby first went for the night I breastfed and then went to bed (BTW, 7 to 8 pm depending on the night), so my husband would take care of the other kid and the next feeding was my husband bottle feeding the baby ( it was around 10 – 11) and then he went to bed so even when the baby woke up around 1-2 pm again I got a decent stretch of sleep. By 11 month she finally started sleeping 10 hours in a row ( 8 pm to 6 am) Also,with the second I already knew that it is temporary, after 6 months it got easier. 
  • Ayesha of Words and NeedlesMy top tip is to feed the baby every two hours starting at 6am everyday from the first week onwards. It isn’t possible with some very sleepy babies but try as much you can. After two weeks they get into a pattern and quickly set their schedule to feeding often during the day. They will get up 2am for a few weeks more but once a night is tolerable! Through the day, drink as much water and eat protein rich foods because the lack of energy is what gets us down. Sleep when the baby sleeps. The chores can wait. I have a post that I wrote when I was feeling like a supermom… 
    Culturally, we are from India. We have a tradition, in our part of the country, that all new moms are given a protein and fat rich traditional mix made up of dried fruits of various kinds, some herbs and coconut that is fried in butter and mixed together. It is made in large quantities and the mum has to finish this within 40 days. Also, an iron piece (something like a horse shoe) is placed in the drinking water vessel that she drinks from. Everyday, the pitcher is filled with boiled water and when it cools she drinks from that. They say it gives iron in the water for the mother. It is ancient… not many people do it now but it is so striking and I remembered it. That dry fruit mix is called ‘panjeeri’ by the way. Pakistani people, North Indians and some south Indians make it.
  •  Angela of CreatifulkidsTry to feed as much as you can during the day, so that he takes most of his calories intake then…but with a new baby the nights are tough so just take it as it goes. Some babies are better sleepers than others. Remember that you do nothing wrong and that’s just a phase. Just sit it out and it will phase and you’ll get your rest again..slowly. Don’t stress- if you can .
  • Becky of Kid World CitizenThis is not what I recommend, but all of my in-laws in Mexico say to put rice cereal in the baby’s bottle right before bed so they won’t be hungry. I always nursed, so I didn’t follow the advice, but they swear by it! My advice (US) is to walk with the baby outside everyday- bundled up if necessary, but in the sunlight. I think the vitamin D and the light helps to set their circadian rhythms. I also would never pull the shades in the day when they were napping, and not be super quiet. They get used to the noise, but I think they start to realize that daytime is daytime, and nighttime is nighttime. Also I would wake my daughters in the day (by picking them up from their crib and carrying them around) if they were sleeping too long. There was a time that my oldest had her days and nights confused and it was soooooo difficult for us:).
  • Elisabeth of Spanish MamaWe co-slept and I think that was the reason I didn’t experience awful exhaustion. When baby stirred, we would cuddle up and nurse and neither of us fully woke up, so getting back to sleep was super-easy.

    I had to work part-time with my first baby and
    was gone from 7am-1pm every day from the time he was six weeks. I always thought I would be the strict scheduling type, but it simply didn’t work for us.  Co-sleeping helped make up for the hours we were apart and those were some of my favorite moments as a mother so far! It goes against the grain in the US, but like so many things here, families do what works best for them. My Peruvian husband was totally fine with it too and we loved bonding with baby so much those first months. Later we did train him to sleep on his own on a schedule.

    Also, it was really useful when we traveled to Peru for 6 weeks with a 5-month-old. Most of the houses we stayed in didn’t have a crib and it was no problem!

  • Ilze of Let The Journey Begin:  A wrote a post on this topic a few months ago. Speaking of my own sleep, I have never been able to follow the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra. Daytime naps make me feel like crap. And during the night there’s two things that bother me – having to get up to nurse and sleeping next to the baby (I feel like I get less deep sleep). Co-sleeping is a solution to the first, baby having her own bed is a solution to the second. Thus my method is a mix of both: baby sleeps the first stretch in her bed, and continues sleeping next to me after the first night meal. If me or my husband are awake enough at some point in the night we move her back to her bed.
    Here are few more links on the subject:
Canberra Mummy  – How I took on Sleep Deprivation and Won
Mama Smiles20 Ways to Cope with Sleep Deprivation
Trilingual MamaHelping Babies Sleep Through the Night
Toddler ApprovedSleep Tips for Serious Sleep
The European Mama4 Tips for Surviving Sleep Deprivation
How do you/did you cope with sleep deprivation and what are your tips for helping your baby to sleep?
Posted in Baby Care, Babywearing, Newborn, Sleep, Sleep deprivation. Tagged with .

China 101: Giving Birth In Zhuhai Part 2 {Birth Registration, Certificate and Visa}

After getting so many responses on Part 1, I decided not to wait and write about a very important part of having a baby in Zhuhai and China in general: obtaining birth certificate, registering the birth with local authorities and obtaining visa.
When our first daughter was born in 2008, I was one of 2 foreign women that year who gave birth in Zhuhai. So at that time we took time to get the birth certificate, we never heard of nor did we register the birth, and we got the passport when we got it and then got the visa. I think it took us nearly 3 months for everything. No one minded. No one said anything.
In 2012 when I was just having my 2nd child, a friend who had given birth 6 months before, was trying to exit the country with her baby and was subjected to a big fine. Reason? No birth registration, no visa obtained at a proper time. As I found out later, this was the second family that had suffered the consequences of that mysterious birth registration.
I was on a mission: I went to the exit-entry bureau and I said I had a baby. They nodded and said OK. I asked whether I needed to register it. They told me when she’d get her passport. So, off I went.  We tried to register the baby at the police station with a birth certificate but were told there was absolutely no need.  And off I went again.
When we came to apply for her visa over a month later, we were told that we … didn’t register the birth! I was so shocked and I started crying because I ran a scenario that my friend just recently went through: big fine and the child HAS to leave the country to get a visa to re-enter China. To be “fair” (but really not because my friends were never told anywhere they HAD to do it within certain time!), my friends applied for everything when their baby was 6 months. So, perhaps just because we were late by a couple of weeks, or may be seeing my “crocodile” size tears, all puffed with one baby in a sling and another one in a stroller, we were sent to a “back door” where a female officer came in, interviewed me, wrote down something in some kind of a form and we were let off with a warning.
This made me gather all possible information on how birth registration is done and the 3rd time around I made sure we had all documents ready (even though it cost me some running around 10 days postpartum after a c-section!).


Note: this process applies when both parents are not Chinese. If at least one parent is Chinese and you wish your child to be a non-Chinese citizen, the process might be somewhat different.
Birth certificate:
 I gave birth at Women and Children’s hospital, so please use this just as a general reference. The process might be longer in other hospitals and/or slightly different. The procedure at MCH is quite simple: 7 days after being discharged from the hospital (or any time later), you need to gather the following documents:
1. Pink paper slip you are given at the hospital when you are getting discharged and after you have cleared all your bills. They WILL tell you that this is needed for applying for the birth certificate.
2. Receipt stating you have paid all the hospital bills.
3. A copy of yours and your spouse’s/partner’s passport page where your name is written and your picture is located.
Once you have gathered it all, you go to a designated at the hospital place on certain days (e.g. at MCH it is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm ONLY). You take a number and then when you are called you will give your documents, fill the form (if needed – with the 3rd baby I filled it all when I was getting admitted to the hospital and only had to fill in the baby’s name) and wait for about 15-20 minutes. There is no charge for the certificate – it comes as a package with your birth.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend laminating the certificate since sometimes the authenticity may need to be proved (e.g. when we were applying for the passport and had to translate and legalize it at the Notary’s).
And don’t forget to ask all the questions from the staff on birth certificate – often the information is not volunteered!
Birth registration:
Every Embassy takes different amount of time to issue the passport and has different procedures for that. So, first of all, here’s what the law states on foreigners having babies in China: all foreigners must register birth within 1 month from the time the baby was born. They must also obtain a passport and a Chinese visa for their baby within 3 months from the time the baby was born.
Here is how you register the birth:
1. First and foremost, you MUST be registered at the place of your residence despite the type of visa you have (tourist, business, employment or family).
2. Take your police registration, yours and your spouse’s passport, your baby’s birth certificate to your local PSB and ask your baby to be given the same registration at the place of residence as yours.
NOTE: They may have NO clue how to do it. So instruct them: there is no need for a photo, there is no need to fill anything except baby’s name as in the birth certificate, date of birth, birth certificate number and address. THAT’S IT. Expect them to call their bosses – INSIST on them calling their bosses for clarification.
3. Next step is the registration of birth at the exit-entry bureau (also known as the immigration bureau – a place where you apply for your visa).
Address in Chinese: 珠海市公安局出入境管理处珠海市香洲区香洲香华路493号
咨询电话:0756-8640525 0756-8640526
You will need the following documents:
- both parents’ passports + copies of the visa pages and information pages;
- baby’s birth certificate + a copy of it
- baby’s police registration + a copy of it
- both parents’ police registrations + copies of them
Take all these documents to the office Monday through Friday 8.30 am to 12 pm and 2.30 pm to 5pm. Check all the documents on the 1st floor, on your left as you enter at the tables. You will be given a number and you will be directed to the 2nd floor. Once the officer on the 2nd floor accepts all you documents, you will be given a kind of receipt with a bar code on it and your child’s name. THERE IS NO FEE TO BE PAID. You must keep this receipt and once you are back to apply for the visa, you must present this receipt along with other documents.
There. After jumping a few hoops, your child’s birth is now registered and you can go on with the passport and visa application. Once your received the passport, you need to repeat the police registration process. This time only the visa space and the date of entry to China will remain empty. This registration sheet will be needed for visa application.
NOTE: If your Embassy/Consulate is able to issue a passport before your child is 30 days old, it means you can apply for visa right away and you can skip registering birth with the entry exit bureau. You will just need to register at the police station with the passport (not birth certificate).
Visa Application:
The final step after which you can sit back and relax!
You will need the following documents:
1. Both parents passports and baby’s passport + copies of visa pages and photo pages.
2. Both parents and baby’s police registrations + copies
3. Bar code pictures for the baby. What is it? You go to any Photo shop, take a regular passport size photo + ask for the bar code picture – each photographer has an access to a special website where this bar code picture is registered.  This is possible to arrange right at the exit entry bureau on the 1st floor. But it will cost some 10 yuan or so more. As well as you can take copies of all your required documents right there.
4. Filled application form – you will get it when you give your documents for a check on the first floor at the tables.
4. If at least one of the parents is legally employed in Zhuhai and has a valid work permit, you will need the original work permit, copies of all filled in pages. PLUS, you need the following letter to be filled with your information and your baby’s information and stamped by your company of employment. Remove English text before printing this out.
Disclaimer: the original source of the letter sample is located at VisaChina.Com However, it has been modified for a particular city and a particular situation.
姓名(Full Name):
护照号码(Passport Number):

姓名(Full Name):
护照号码(Passport Number):

公司盖章(Company stamp here)
     年  月
In case if you are here on a business or tourist visa, you may be asked what your purposed of stay in China is. But that’s quite rare!
So, here. If I missed anything, please let me know! If you have any questions – please contact me via comments or email me!
Stay tuned for the next post!
Posted in birth certificate, birth registration, China, visa. Tagged with .

Fire Safety For Kids: Fire Safety Theme Park


Fire Prevention Week is normally celebrated in the US to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire which took place in 1871.
This year its commemoration falls on the week of October 5th through October 11th. While we are not American nor reside in the US, this event is a great opportunity to talk about fire safety with children. Few bloggers from Kid Blogger Network have joined forces together to create the link up at the bottom of this post and raise awareness in families on fire safety.


In China it is common to have fire drills from time to time: children in kindergartens and schools are given an alarm and they are taught how to exit the buildings in timely manner, covering their noses and mouths. And teachers are instructed on how to organize the children. Mind it, kindergarten and public schools classes are large: anywhere from 20 to 50 children in one class. So in case of a real fire both children and teachers have to be organized well in order to avoid panic and stampede.

The area where we moved to several months ago has a large so-called Commercial street: it consists of a number shops, restaurants, salons and supermarkets. Along those, there are trees, bushes and benches, beautifully organized. Recently the local Fire Department has set up Fire Theme Park along this walking street to raise more awareness on fire safety as the area where we reside is pretty large, with couple hundred of buildings, few schools and preschools around. It is also full of trees and grass and since in China there are many people who smoke and often don’t put out the cigarettes before throwing it on the ground, in such areas it is VERY easy to start a fire.

Here are some images I took of the signs posted around.

There are also benches that have embedded emergency number for the local fire department.


And they have replaced most of the trash cans with these creative ones.

Fire kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year. Teach your children about fire safety with these simple tips:

1. When leaving the house, always check if all electrical appliances are off.
2. Don’t leave flammable items (paper, books, wood, clothes and others) near the sources of fire (such as, stoves, fire places and others).
3. Don’t play with or leave unattended sources of fire (matchsticks, candles, lighters, gas stoves, gas heaters).
I am sure you can add more to this list!
Wishing you a life where fire is only there to warm your homes and assist with your daily needs.
Please link up your posts on fire safety below!

Posted in fire safety, fire theme park. Tagged with .