To my soulmate

I realised that I hardly mention my hubs in my posts after Faith was born and today, I’m in the mood to pen down my thoughts about the man in my life.

Before the kid came along, we were really loving and inseparable. Life was sweet and i enjoyed every moment with him. Things change once Faith enters our lives. Communication was reduced drastically. I was too caught up with grappling with my new role as a mother and he, trying to juggle between work and family.  At the end of the day, both of us were just too tired to talk.

In my first year as a mom, I bore a resentful heart. I disliked being a SAHM even though my mind was convicted of the benefits it will bring to the family. Many times, the hubs would hear complaints from me, that his life hadn’t changed much; he just needed to spend that extra 2 to 3 hours with Faith upon reaching home. Naturally, I became critical of him and expected him to spend every minute with Faith in the evening with quality (whatever that means).

The hubs was patient with me. All he wanted was that I would be happy. He encouraged me to pursue my interests and constantly told me to have my ME time. He has never refused my needs and wants and each time when I ask for help, he would gladly do it.

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Three years into motherhood and I must say things get easier. Perhaps, da man has been praying for me all along that my heart would be settled. Today, as I look back, I am thankful.

:: Thankful that he initiated that I be a SAHM. Being a working mom is tough and I think he knows that all along. Without any work deadlines and pressure, I am no longer a ‘rushian’ and could spend time playing and teaching Faith wholeheartedly The little one also gets to grow up in an environment where it is safe and knows that she is loved and cherished.

:: Thankful that he allows me to pursue my interests and dreams even though it might cost him financially. For that, I’m immensely grateful.

:: Thankful that he doesn’t bring work home. Once he’s back, his focus is on the family, helping me out in whatever ways he could. Many times, I feel guilty because I know he needs a rest himself too but he devotes the time on Faith and me. I love it especially when he does all the fun things with the little girl and because of that, Faith always looks forward to her papa’s return.

:: Thankful that he would always be there for the little one whenever there is any school outing and that he would take leave to accompany me for my gynae appointment.

:: Thankful that he is always desiring to do the will of God and that’s his prayer all along. This year, he became more involved in his service to the Lord but in so doing, he has also become more sensitive to the needs of the family and could guide us better.

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Oh, there are still a lot that I can be thankful for but I’d just stop here. We had a very private birthday celebration for him just a week ago. His style, really. He just wants to spend time with his family and oh, what a lovely picture of him and Faith!

Blessed birthday, dear hubs. I’m thankful to the Lord for you!

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We are 5!

Recently the hubs and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. How time flies, we have been married that long/short (however you want to see it).

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I’m in a thankful spirit and I want to remember how the Lord orchestrated everything in His timing.

And to remember that He has blessed me with a partner who:

– constantly keeps me grounded through encouraging me with the word of God.

– constantly reminds me to seek the kingdom of God rather than treasures of this earth.

– provides for the family such that we lack nothing.

– encourages me to pursue my dream.

– never puts me down.

– will do anything  most things that I want just to make me happy.

Thank you, dear Lord.

IMG_20140914_0845180.27292815096290524Five years later and it’s the three of us.

Thankful Tuesday | The birthday weekend

So, I did have a birthday celebration after all. The awesome hubs decided to pamper me the family with a staycation! Here’s recording some of the things that I’m thankful for in case I forget… again!

Don’t laugh at me. Some of the stuff are really unimportant things but hey, we should be thankful for them!

After the session at Gymnademics (which I will share in detail for the next post), we had a rather authentic Korean lunch. I went for my favourite Bibimbap. It’s love at first taste after I had it in Seoul many years back. This one at Auntie Kim’s Korean Restaurant is authentically good!

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And we checked into Quincy Hotel, a boutique business hotel located in the heart of the shopping belt of Orchard Road. In fact, it is just about 10 minutes’ walk from Paragon shopping mall. I must say I am impressed by the services provided by this hotel. We were led to our room by the guest relations officer who also presented us with a bottle of wine and a smile all the while. The room is clean and big for a boutique hotel. I appreciate the king-sized bed and the rather spacious toilet which is complete with a rain-shower and bathtub. And those selection of invigorating Molton Brown’s bath amenities? Who can resist?

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Our weekend savers deal includes a cupcake baking session and the hubs and I had a go at it. We had fun!

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The hotel provides an all-day dining at the restaurant, courtesy of Dean & DeLuca and Modesto’s. However, if you are bored by the selection, you can always head out, like us! So, that evening, we had a glimpse of the Christmas lighting along Orchard Road. Personally, I have not done this for a good number of years! How embarrassing!

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View just outside Ngee Ann City

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We came back to the hotel and had a light dessert. Faith was so tired that she fell asleep in the arms of K. At last, we had a wee bit of couple time. Oh, how I miss those days – chatting without having to be concerned with the child. And then, a nice surprise awaits us – the hotel presented me with a Tiramisu cake for my birthday! So the hubs had told them that the staycation was meant to celebrate my birthday and they actually bothered to do something special. Great job, Quincy!

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The breakfast selection is one of the better ones I have had. It’s buffet, no doubt, but they looked much palatable and…freshly cooked.

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We had a dip at the infinity pool after breakfast. Since it was a Monday, we had the whole pool to ourselves. Pity that the water was cold else we would have stayed in there for a while more!

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After the swim

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This is how Faith entertains herself.

Our staycation came to a close as we checked out at 3pm. Overall, this weekend was a relaxing one and it was made better by the good service rendered by the hotel staff. Highly recommend Quincy Hotel (nope, this is not a sponsored post). By the way, parking is complimentary no matter how many times you go in and out of the hotel. Awesome?

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I need more of such staycation!

Signing off - The Queks

Signing off – The Queks

Linking up with

Weekend getaway #1

A long awaited break. Batam because we wanted to try bringing Faith out on a trip and to see how she takes to it. She was amazingly cooperative! She was quiet the whole trip, being secured in her carrier, until the last part when we returned on the ferry. Little Faith must have been scared by the loud engine sound. But other than that, it’s a smooth trip for us. Thank God! More to come?

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The boba carrier is my #1 companion. Faith likes to be in it and as a result, I too, can be rather mobile.

IMG_2733One of the stops – at the chocolate store. And the highlight remains to be the massage! S$20 for a full javanese massage. Where can you find that deal in SG? And thankfully, Faith was cooperative. She was lying beside me, entertaining herself, while I got my massage done.

IMG_2734After a day of sightseeing which the hubs and I would rather not have, we finally reached our hotel at 6pm. It was located about 40 minutes from the city centre, a haven for the golfers.

IMG_2737I never like to order food from the hotel. They are, in my opinion and experience, pricey and not too delicious. Or perhaps the hotels that I visited were of low standard? Since we checked in late and we would always lose out if we were to go for buffet, we just ordered in. And the food disappointed me again! Hah! This hotel does not provide baby cot too and Faith had to share our bed.  I suspect she loved this idea judging from the wide smile she gave as she turned to look at me while we were turning in.

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Our hill view. Scene from our balcony.

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We were the first guest to be coming down for breakfast. Not that we are ‘kiasu’ but we are just early risers! Nice view while having our brekky. Time stood still for a while.

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I thought this is a nice place to take some wedding pics.

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After breakfast, we checked out the swimming pool and decided that the water was too dirty for Faith and discarded the idea of swimming in it. Poor Faith. We had thought she could enjoy herself in the water for this trip but it was not to be so. Even our room does not have the bath tub. Sigh. While she rested, the hubs and I did our BS materials and had a short discussion on it. Nice.

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A short getaway is what we I need and I hope there’s more to come! Time to plan for the next one! I promise it would be more relaxing. =p

Happy V Day! Tiramisu Charlotte Cake

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But the weather is so gloomy! It has been raining the WHOLE DAY! The sky became so dark at one point that I suspect Faith would have thought that it was evening!

I had wanted to bake Tiramisu for the hubs since it is his favourite. Problem is I do not have mascarpone cheese and after entertaining thoughts of giving the baking a miss, I dragged my feet to Cold Storage to purchase it, complete with Faith in tow. And am I glad that I went!

I had baked Tiramisu using Keiko’s recipe but this time round, I googled and decided to use this instead with minor modifications. No raw eggs were involved and that’s good news. =)

Decided to do the Charlotte version because it is so pretty (and looks like a gift) and besides, it is easy to make. So this is my gift for the hubs, on top of the three shirts I bought him yesterday (that’s because I wanted him to ditch his usual wear!). The hubs came back with grapes and chocolates in his hands since he wanted to make some grapes dipped in chocolate kinda thing. But, the chocolate is KIT-KAT!!! Sigh! Not sure why he didn’t want to leverage on his strength (expressing in written words) for this V-day. So in the end, he gave up and said, “We go out this Saturday and shop for what you want!”

But…I don’t even know what I want. If not, I would have made my request. Now, I have to think what I want to get this Saturday. Sigh! =p This is a good problem.

Having said that, we are really not into celebrating this kind of ‘day’.  We would like every day to be a V-Day and while people say that the hubs is a fortunate man (erm, with a wife who enjoys working in the kitchen), I would like to believe that I am the more fortunate one. I have a husband who loves me very much and is always there to support and encourage me. He’s also a wonderful father to Faith, very hands on.

And above all, thank you God for making this union a blissful one. I am blessed.

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Ingredients:
(makes a 7″ cake)

Espresso Syrup:
1 tablespoon instant espresso/ strong coffee powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) boiling water
1 tablespoon Amaretto

Filling:
250g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1 cup (200 ml) heavy/whipping cream

sponge fingers
cocoa powder, to dust
strawberries for decoration (optional)

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Method: 

To make the Espresso Syrup:
Dissolve instant espresso coffee powder, sugar in boiling water. Leave to cool. Stir in 1 tablespoon Amaretto. Set aside.

To make the Filling:
In a mixing bowl, with a manual whisk, whisk mascarpone cheese with icing sugar, vanilla extract, Amaretto and 3 tablespoons of the espresso syrup until blended.

With an electric mixer whisk the whipping cream until soft peak (do not over whip). With a spatula, fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture.

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To assemble the cake:
Cut off one end of the sponge fingers so that each one is about 3″ in length. Line the sides of a 7″ round baking pan* (with a removable base or use a springform pan) with the sponge fingers (do not dip them in the espresso syrup). You will need about 17 sponge fingers (depending on the type/brand). If the last sponge finger cannot fit in nicely, trim away part of it to fit it in. Save the leftover small pieces.

One at a time, gently dip (do not soak) sponge fingers in the espresso syrup and use them to line the base of the pan. Cut the sponge fingers into shorter lengths if necessary. Use the leftover pieces to fill the gaps.

IMG_2516Spoon over 1/3 of the filling. Spread evenly. Sieve cocoa powder over the filling. Repeat with another layer of sponge fingers and spoon over another 1/3 of filling. Spread and smooth the top and sieve cocoa powder. Repeat for the last layer. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best left overnight.

Just before serving, unmold the cake and dust the top with cocoa powder. Decorate with strawberries (as desired).

Note to self: Can afford to dip the sponge fingers with more syrup to have a more moist version.

Present

Ken: Darling, I’m very happy that you are here ( I turn up for a BS for young adults with him).

Lynn: Got present?

Ken: God will give you the present.

Lynn: I want it from you…

Ken: I am your present from God…. Kekek

Lynn: (*irritated look) Tsk

Little flutters, little pleasures

Quekling woke me up in the middle of the night and urged me to find food for her. Hungry!!! The kitchen does not have healthy stuff for her and in the end, I settled for ‘Sa Chi Ma’ which was given by mom. The next few hours saw me going into the study room to send some emails, read some pregnancy books and the bible

and I finally got to sleep at around half past four.

At 6.30am, I was awoken again in the pursuit of food. Oh man! I thought I had a decent dinner the night before????

So, in the end, we forgo our morning walk and went straight to the golden arch. The salty sea breeze greeted our senses as we emerged from our vehicle. Ahhh….the familiar smell, the peaceful surrounding…my playground.

Big breakfast for both of us!

Enjoying the sea breeze.

The wedding

Since coming here, I have missed at least 3 of my friends’ wedding. Before I was married, I disliked attending weddings, finding it a waste of my time. But since I got united with da man, it has a whole new meaning for me and missing my friends’ weddings saddened me (see how marriage can change a person!).

All was not lost as we got to witness R and A’s wedding yesterday. It was beautiful, the bride no doubt, but the whole ceremony gave God the due credit and that’s splendid.

We may have only known R and A for about a year but they have indeed made an impact on our lives through their dedication to the Lord and His people. A, especially, like what her college friend said to us during the reception, is hard not to like and indeed, we love this wonderful woman to bits. As she entered the sanctuary all dazzling in white and marched down the aisle to Canon in D, I found myself overwhelmed by emotions. Tears just welled up. And I’m not the only one. I heard Janet sniffing and her eyes watery. A, you have such magical powers over us!

The wedding reception at Harvard Club was with so much fun, especially the dancing part. The atmosphere lightened as we enjoyed one another’s company. The couple gave the first dance (and boy, did they dance well!) and the older folks joined in with such enthusiasm and energy! How could you not want to participate? It was an awesome sight! Yesterday was just beautiful with wonderful people and an amazing God.

Blessed marriage, R and A. And…the journey has just begun. Smile!

It’s our 2nd year.

Today marked our 2nd year as a married couple.

And it almost feels like we are just married.

So, as you would have guessed it, we celebrated it by running together. 10km was all we could achieve. It was slow but steady. It felt superb. First 10km in 2011. What happened??!!!

Lunch was inspired by the dish – gong bao ji ding / stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts – and while I was still finishing the last bit of my meal, the phone rang and the caller informed me that I had a package to be collected. Curious, I went outside and thought he was already at the door. No one. Told the hubs and had him go out and take a look.

Moments later, the dear hubs came back with a vase of roses. Surprise!

Nice. =) Thank you for these wonderful two years! It has been … great!

My fav travel companion

In my years of travelling, I seldom have a constant travel companion. Each trip was with a different friend/ group of people and I experienced different personalities each time. Thankfully, I had more fond memories than bad ones.

Then came this lovable man who is super easy-going and has few(no) demands, making travelling so much more enjoyable. Best is, he could also plan very well.

Looking forward to more years with you, dude!

Loving all things practical

I must confess, I had not really enjoyed the marriage class that we are currently attending. I had initially thought that there would be great learning from couples married for various number of years. The class size is big and hence little interaction. The organisers knew this and had since changed the format in which it is conducted; they organised us into mini groups to enhance discussion. Despite that, I still find it a dread to attend.

The main reason being that the readings are largely theoretical and I’m one who very much prefer straight-forward writings which can also translate into applications easily.

The hubs, who could readily tell that I didn’t enjoy the class inquired of my reluctance. My reason to him was ‘I could not understand the writings and what the people are talking.’

So, the good hubs decided to help me by breaking up the readings for me and then discussing the contents together which definitely helped me… for the first few hours.

However, since last week, the lesson turned for the better. The second part of the session is all about practical applications. Hooray! Even the contents in the book are about that and it means easier comprehension!

And this week’s readings is about truthfulness and dependability which the author describes to be adjectival nouns at first glance but in fact, they are jobs and have a very definite effect on the relationship. When this task is conscientiously accomplished, it produces in each of us the dear and necessary fruit of trust.

Where truthfulness is concerned, we are talking about our speech to our partners. It means that we do not lie (that’s very obvious), do not neglect to express the essential events of the day spent apart from the partner (so that we will continue to know what’s going in the day), make sure that that you get the contents of your topic right to your partner exactly the way you want him to understand (tough!) and that we do not attack when the topic is specifically about our partner.

Oh gosh! This is a tough job! It means choosing your words carefully so that it rightly expresses what you mean. It means not being lazy and keeping quiet upon returning home after a long day at work. It definitely means going through the words over and over again in your mind and asking yourself if what you are about to speak truly stems from love for him/her.

It is tough but once we are able to do this well, we can trust what our partners tell us and such trust produces security and it in turn, produces peace.

Dependability is truthfulness in action – in your actions. It simply means to me that my partner honours his promises, whether spoken or unspoken, that he will fulfil anticipation, vice versa.

After reading this chapter, the hubs came up to me and asked me if he has been dependable. It is commendable that he usually does what he promises, except on occasions that he forgets (I think he’s really getting old!). I, on the other hand, am a frequent promise-breaker which he graciously thinks of me as being fickle-minded (I don’t know which term is worse). But as I told him, I have high expectations from him based on the first poem he wrote to me which stole my heart too. There’s a few but BIG promises in it and not seeing him work at any one of them would deeply smash my fragile heart. I mean, wouldn’t anyone? Especially you, ladies?

I continued that, a person who can be trusted with small things can be trusted with big ones. Faithful with little, faithful with much. In my conversation, I reminisced the time when we were so regular in our jogging and would love to see ourselves continuing to do that in the name of healthy lifestyle.

Since then, he has been the one asking me when to jog and getting himself ready, all dressed appropriately even before the prescribed time.

Ah…how I love the second part of this book now.

Will you be okay?

“Would you want to go NY with me?”

S has to go to NYC to do some work and asked if I wanted to tag along. My initial thought was Why not? but soon I was spending some time worrying.

Turning to the hubs who encouraged me to go, “Would you be okay if I go? What would happen to you? I mean how would you take care of your meals? Would you be all right?”

“Err, yes, I think I can just as how I took care of myself before I met you?”

While I know full well that da man would not suffer from hunger, there is still that lingering worry in me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

It’s been a while since I last travelled with my gfs. When was that? Perhaps three years ago when JH, S and I went to Malacca for our food and photography trip. We had fun exploring Malacca and having a whale of our time at cafes and of course, Peranakan cuisine. *Drool*. This time round, it would still be a similar kind of trip, just that it would be in an urban setting where everyone’s in a rush. I’m not sure if I like NYC. I used to think that I would love it until I stepped foot on the streets. Too many people, too noisy, too rush.

In any case, I believe I would still enjoy this short trip with S. I have a list of bakeries lined up and I hope to visit them all.

So, while I won’t be able to cook for Ken, I could still prepare some food for him to munch and some of them would be his favourites – chocolate chip cookies, fried carrot cake and char bee hoon.

The following drop cookies recipe is an adaptation of MS’ Chocolate Chunk Cookies. More butter and less brown sugar are used to produced the ideal thin and crisp cookies. I substitute packed dark-brown sugar with brown sugar and instead of chocolate chunks, I used chocolate chips. This recipe yields 36 cookies.

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Dating…

“Darby, I think we need to go on dates!”

One of the lessons that I have learnt from the marriage class is that as married couples, we need to continue to go on dates (obviously with your spouse) so that you have time to yourselves and this practice is especially important when the kids come along; don’t be lost in the world of busyness and so neglect each other.

Judging from what we have been doing, I fear that we are falling into the category of those couples who don’t do dates anymore. Oh no! We need to do something about it!

“Ok! Hmm…What shall we do? Do you want to watch a show?” inquired the hubs.

“Nope. I would rather use the  money to buy baking stuff. How about we go to a cafe and chill?

“Ok! That sounds like a plan. Anything you say, whatever you want.” I rolled my eyes.

But chilling out in the cafe never happens. Instead we I often change our plans to doing grocery and we are cool about it. It is most enjoyable to walk with the hubs in the cool wintry weather from our place to Trader Joe’s at Coolidge Corner and then back to Star Market to complete the purchase and the 6km walk makes me happy.

Today we did something slightly different. We are always delighted that Borders sends us mailer for discounts and we decided to pop by to see if the game ‘Bananagrams’ is available. Our folks here have been playing this and we are hooked. I’m quite terrible at it and want to have secret training before I play with them. =p

Naturally, when we are at Borders, we do spend some time in the building. The hubs in the Sci-fi/Fantasy section and I, as usual, at the cooking/baking section. There were quite a few books that I was interested and 40% discount is rather enticing. But I thought checking out at the library might help save some money. And indeed, they have it! We both checked out of the library with a few books in our hands. Happy!

After lunch was a game of Bananagrams until I couldn’t tahan anymore since the weather was just too ideal for jogging. The sun was shining ever so brightly and the temperature has risen to 4 – 9C. How can you bear not to run? The hubs, though exhausted, was gamed to accompany me. What joy! The day ended with the baking of cupcakes for a birthday gal and a couple more rounds of Bananagrams.

So, I’ve concluded that it’s not the activities that matter. It’s the company that counts. I love spending time at home cooking and singing to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera with the hubs. I love playing Bananagrams with him although it pisses me off that I could only win one game thus far. I love walking to the supermarkets with him and having chats along the way. I love jogging with the hubs and I have always loved this.

So, I guess there’s nothing wrong with us. Maybe we have always been on dates. Ok, Lynn, stop kicking up a fuss.

Love in the home

I was disappointed with myself.

Teaching ESL needs a totally different set of skills and knowledge. I realised I could not apply what I used to do in schools on these adults who are struggling to make sense of the English Language. But how much is enough? What will be too much for them to grasp? What do they really want?

I always believe that story-telling is a marvelous strategy in teaching a language, no matter how simple the story might be. I used it today and it’s a flop. The students just couldn’t understand the sentences. After reading 3 pages, I put down the picture book and gave up.

I saw the frustration in their faces and I was exasperated. Gosh! The first part of the lesson went well but why does this have to happen now? I ended the lesson on a low note.

With a heavy heart, I trudged my way to the library, a place where I could find solace…and borrowed yet a few more books, adding to the collection of the many unread library books at home.

A bear hug was given by the dear hubs who has prepared lunch for me. What’s even sweeter is the fact that he made soy bean with grass jelly drink for me after a casual remark that I missed that local drink. Such kindness, such thoughtfulness. It meant a lot to me because he’s uncomfortable with cooking; it’s certainly not his forte and to see him making the effort warmed my weary soul. And it’s exactly this day in 2009 that he cooked his first dish for me – an almost cooked teriyaki salmon – and I think it was that day that I decided to elevate our friendship to that of a BG relationship.

As the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It applies to a woman too! It’s nice to come home to a safe haven where you are accepted for who you are and that you can pour out all your woes to the one who love you deeply.

Thank you, my dearest.

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On the marriage panel

Ken and I were honoured to be asked by one of our church leaders to be on a marriage panel for an event yesterday. I mean, after all, we are newly weds and we’re not sure what insights we could offer to the singles but we’ll see.

It turned out awesome. Firstly, when we reached the big house, we found familiar faces, those of whom we met during last year’s retreat to NH. We had wonderful conversation with new friends and met our fellowmen! It’s more wonderful to know that the food was prepared by S’poreans and what’s on the menu were Hainanese Chicken Rice, Vegetarian curry, Kailan in oyster sauce and agar-agar, to name a few. AWESOME! It’s so home-sweet-home!

Being an event about marriage and since V-Day is coming, the guests were invited to make cards for their loved ones. Nice idea!

And so, we were on the panel sharing our love journey. I thought Ken spoke very well, eloquent and succinct (as usual). It was fun sharing our stories and addressing some of the questions posed by the floor. Thankfully, the guests kind of found it useful when they came up to us and gave us positive feedback. We certainly hope it has been useful to them!

It was fun being on the panel albeit the nervousness. To be honest, I was shaking while waiting for my turn to speak. It’s rather terrifying!

At home, I was just relating my moment with the hubs and he replied, “I was shaking too. You didn’t realise?”

So, I was not alone!

The Oneness

I made my way to the ESL class with the hubs who insisted that he accompanies me so that I won’t fall again (Italics my thought). So, this guardian angel spent his morning waiting for me while I taught the class.

It was not a great lesson, I know. After all, I didn’t really know the students and need to assess their English level through this class. But I left the class with a few thoughts about my teaching.

1) I need to speak slower.
2) I need to give short instructions, ONE at a time.
3) I need to cater to the varying levels of my students and thus design different tasks for them according to their goals in coming to the class.

I was greeted with a smiling husband at the waiting hall before we had our lunch and an unsuccessful attempt at getting an appointment with a doctor. It’s not as easy as back home.

I was reminded though of the marriage class we had on Sunday and decided to pen down a few thoughts and notes here. The topic discussed was ‘How shall we live together?’ since we are now united as one. But what do we mean by One?

“One” may mean: “We are exactly alike.” Is this even possible? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps, couples could achieve that when they strain to duplicate each other, and then suffer the persistent differences or else repress them.

“One” could also mean this: one of the partners has taken control of the marriage, and that one will dominate the other. The second will have become silent or submissive or extinct. But this isn’t oneness; this is one alone.

“One” may mean: “We have a 50-50 marriage, half and half”. But mutuality is accomplished by two whole persons; and if each partner truly intends to be but the fraction of a relationship, he/she will soon discover that these halves do not fit perfectly together.

The fourth definition is what both Ken and I want to subscribe to – that there are three complete beings in a marriage – Ken and I and the relationship between us, which both of us serve, which benefits each of us but which is not exactly like either one of us. This relationship is itself very much like a living being – like a baby born from us both and that it has its own character. It enters into existence infantile, when you speak vows to each other. It comes cuddly and lovely, but very weak and in need of care and nourishment. As time goes on, as this baby-relationship grows up, it becomes stronger and stronger until it serves and protects you in return.

Nourish this oneness then and this is real work of mutuality. This brings your various lifestyles into harmony (without cancelling either one, without a forced similitude): that you have realised a common purpose together; that you are both committed to the nurturing, not of oneself and not of one’s partner, but of this third being, the Relationship; and that together you seek the wisest ways to do so – and you do them.

Reference: As for me and my house by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Marriage: The Continuing Tasks #1

Ken and I went for another round of marriage course and this time round, the participants do not just consist of newly married couples but couples who have been married for varied number of years.

We missed the introduction class last week but were nonetheless thankful that we went for the lesson yesterday. Again, the facilitators used a book ‘As for Me and My House’ as a reference to discuss the many issues that concern marriage. It’s hard work, we all know and it’s wonderful having to hear the experiences of the many couples in the class.

Don’t be mistaken. Ken and I were not on the verge of a marital breakdown and thus need to attend class after class. Instead, we wanted to learn and hear from other couples, many of whom have been married for decades, their valuable insights into this magical bond.

We hope to share what we have learnt too, to others. =)

Honeymooners class: Lesson 5

The Gender Gap – Have we bridged it? 
” Your willingness to accept the differences between you will allow you to complement one another in ways that make life better for each of you.” ~ C. W. Neal
We didn’t manage to attend this class since we were busy in the kitchen cooking for the fellowship. But the ‘kiasu’ me borrowed the book and read it and I felt that I should pen down these information for keepsake.,

We all know men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In other words, we are really VERY different. Though we may think that we have found a soulmate in each other, the fact is, our partner is really not like our kind. Biblically, Adam lived in the only Paradise that has ever existed on this earth, felt no pain and shed no tears. But even so, loneliness flourished and God determined that it was not “good” for man to be alone – something was missing and He responded by creating Eve – not another Adam.

The authors commented that when a man and woman marry, the partner makes up for what the other lacks. When we are discouraged, they are hopeful. When we are stingy, they are generous. Because we are are male and female joined togeter, there is wholeness. But, the important thing is, our differences, if not understood and accepted, become a source of confusion rather than completeness.

It is thus crucial that we do not evaluate our partner’s behaviour according to our feminine or masculine standards and that we consider the vast differences between the sexes.

So how are we different? The book gave a summary of what we should know about the opposite sex and I find it so true!

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Honeymooners class: Lesson 4

 Trust, submission and choice
By Ken and Lynn

Last week, we did not really have a ‘proper’ lesson but a panel discussion took place instead. Issues shared included addressing of in-laws, finances and problems with driving and of giving directions. All these boiled down to communication which was today’s topic.

Let’s talk about finances perhaps, since this is one of the greatest issue ( to me) that I need to learn and with that, challenges to overcome.

Ken and I decided that when we unite, everything that we own belong to each other. They include our finances, of course and yup, many of my race T-shirts are worn by him now since they are too big for me anyway =p. I had no qualms about combining our savings since I went into the union with less cash than him. Thankfully, he didn’t mind that. However, I found that when we combined our incomes, what I was introduced to, inevitably, was the fact that I can no longer spend like I’m a single and that I have to think about the family.

It changed my spending habit, for better or for worse.

I thought twice about any purchase which was really a torture … initially. Whenever I picked up something which I fancied, I would be reminded of my status now and to think about the extra money that I could save so that it could go into our housing, for example. Would I really need this stuff? Would the family need it? Is there cheaper version? So it’s not surprising that I spent more on household products like kitchenware than on clothes now.

I see the above change a positive one though. I was a spendthrift, still am, if you compare me with Ken. But I believe I have improved a lot in terms of my savings. The greatest struggle, then, was depending on Ken’s income now that I am not earning my keeps. It’s a real bother as I have really not depended on anyone for finances for more than a decade and to suddenly swing to another extreme was too much to adapt. I kept feeling apologetic about spending any amount of money and it became extremely challenging when I wanted to buy something fanciful for myself. Thankfully, Ken was all-supportive and was ready to indulge me if the item would serve me well. One thing he told me that made me more at ease was the fact that if I could not depend on my husband or submit to him in everything (in this case, finances), what makes me think that I could submit to the Lord? With that, I was more  assured about spending OUR money.

The issue of communication that Lynn talked about is closely linked to our innate selfishness as human beings.
As was mentioned during the class, marriage reveals to us just how selfish we really are.
We grow up thinking that we’re really rather cool and generous people, and it is only when we commit to sharing our whole life with another person that we realise that there is much that we’re unwilling to share or give up, even to this person whom we have committed to spending the rest of our lives with.

At each turn when there are differences of opinion, we find ourselves fighting for ‘MY’ rights, and always being disappointed that he/she doesn’t seem to care about ‘ME’.
Our thoughts are centered around ourselves and what we’re losing, instead of what the two of us, as a couple may be gaining instead.
Marriage is a journey of submission. Submission to a relationship with another. A relationship so close that you choose to die to yourself and your rights because you trust that your partner would never hurt you and will always do what is best for you.

I KNOW that Lynn will do what is best for us. That’s why I have no qualms sharing everything with her and trusting her in her choice of expenditure.

Nevertheless, we are human, and it is inevitable that sometimes we feel discouraged or that dark thoughts enter into our mind.
“Is she really doing what is best for us?”, “What if he doesn’t really care any more?”
Such thoughts do enter our mind, and when I encounter these thoughts, I bring to mind a story that a colleague shared once.
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One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
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Indeed, it is only human that we sometimes think such thoughts. That is hard to control.
It is what we do when these thoughts enter our mind that we can and should control.

Starve the evil thoughts. They may never truly die out, but they grow weaker each time you choose to starve them.

I (Lynn) just want to share a song ‘Remember When’ (listen to the song by clicking the link) featuring the first part of the movie UP. I find the lyrics meaningful and of course, the life of Carl and Ellie, touching. It struck a chord with me. Marriage is for life, for better or for worse. And remember, we are married to our partners, not our children. In the end, our children will have to leave us to form a family themselves and we will be left with our spouses. Take time to nurture and spend quality time with each other. Remember those are sacred moments between the both of you. Romantic days will not always be there but our commitment towards each other has to. I have seen many parents (mine for example) who, after many years of marriage, have turned cold towards each other. They have spent all their attention on their children that they forgot about each other, the person whom they said the vows to many, many years ago.

And I hope I will remember that when the little ones come along. =)

Honeymooners class: Lesson 3

The most important characteristic of a marriageable person is the habit of happiness.

This week’s topic focused more on the individuals than on the marriage as it is our attitude that will determine whether we and our partners “live happily ever after”.Happiness in marriage has everything to do with will.

I must confess that I was a bit affected when we went over to J & H’s place for dinner. Their apartment overlooked the Charles River and the whole place was carpeted. Another couple lived a few streets down and theirs was a new condo with gym facilities and a heated pool. When I heard that, my heart was complaining, “Our place is the worst. The flooring is bad, has no facilities and so small!” I was comparing and started to put a little blame on the hubs for not renting a nicer apartment (when I told the hubs about it, he shared that he was indeed worried that I would think in that light!=p)

I have fallen prey to the developing of a negative mind-set, blaming my unhappiness on things the hubs does or doesn’t do and in this case, his renting of the studio apartment. But very quickly, I realised I had to stop that unhealthy thought because in actual fact, our studio apartment IS cosy and warm and I have a wonderful kitchen with all the equipment the hubs has bought for me. So, why am I complaining?

It’s an endless game of chasing more things, better stuff and I think the key is contentment – that, in every situation, you appreciate what you have and the people who are relishing the moments with you.

I have, at that instance, changed my attitude and I found myself being able to enjoy the company of the new friends. Had I dwelt on the initial thought, I would be miserable throughout the evening.

It is thus vital that couples find the right attitude in spite of the conditions they find themselves in. Easier said than done? I think it is possible if we make the effort to programme our mind to magnify the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.

The good news is…the bad news can be turned into good news…when you change your attitude! ~ Robert H. Schuller

We went on to talk about the saboteurs of a happy marriage, namely self-pity,blame and resentment. I shan’t elaborate on these but will leave you with a quote:

If you expect perfection from people, your whole life is a series of disappointments, grumblings, and complaints. ~ Bruce Barton

Honeymooners’ class – Lesson 2

The weather took to a change suddenly and from 76 F, it dropped to 50F on Sunday. It’s certainly time to layer and as the colder weather approaches, I wonder how we could really tahan winter.

Anyway, it’s our second lesson for the honeymooners class. This time round, instead of the usual facilitators, a couple who had attended the course came back and facilitated. Some of the topics shared were on Consummate love, stages of love and of course the love languages which we know more of.

Perhaps, let’s talk about the love languages. The hubs and I had a discussion prior to the lesson on this and we determined that his predominant love language is words of affirmation whereas mine is acts of service. This is evident in how I like to bake and cook for him, making sure he has enough for every meal. He, on the other hand, will ALWAYS encourage me when I’m down and feel bad or belittle myself. And then we also realised that the love language(s) that we express is the love language(s) that we want from our partner. For e.g., I felt loved when the hubs made the effort to make the bed and boil the water ever so often now (since our last communication) and recently, when I was sick and needed medication, he went to the pharmacy first thing when it opened its doors to business. To him, he felt loved when I encouraged him in in his studies and trusted in him in the things that he was doing.

So, it really pays to talk to your partner and find out the love languages each displays/expresses/prefers.

What’s your love language?

At the Public Garden

Wendy's came to Spore but we chose to eat it in Boston =p

Oh, we forgot to update. We received invitations from 2 Singaporean couples to their homes. One, to have dinner and the other to visit their place and perhaps have a swim in their condo’s heated pool. Woohoo! Such hospitality!

And somehow or another, we are now involved in the International Fellowship and attended their leaders’s meeting twice, just over the weekends. Hmm…we thanked God that well, He has placed us there and that we are to serve and not to be served. =)

Honeymooners’ class – Lesson 1

We had our first proper lesson yesterday and I was looking forward to it! Basically this class is meant for those who are married within the first two years and through the discussion and sharing from fellow couples, it is hoped that they bring back some lessons and thoughts for reflection.

Ken and I got married after a seven-month courtship. We were not any young kids who acted rashly ( at least I hope!) and the good thing was we found that we shared the same values which was important to us. We had not have any big argument during our courtship and this blissful times extended to the first year of our marriage. We were living with our parents then (weekdays, my place and weekends, his place) and thus things were a lot easy for us. We got to observe how we were brought up when we lived with the respective in-laws and thus this helped us a little in our perception of each other.

But of course, all is not bliss and will NEVER be when you are living with a person who is different from you. I don’t want people to think that we have no troubles. The fact is, we DO face more conflicts along the way especially when we have to do everything ourselves now. I intend to be plain in sharing my thoughts through the lessons learnt from this class, with the permission of dear hubs, of course. I don’t know if it is a taboo to talk about relationship woes but it feels strange to only hear of the good stuff and nothing of the bad ones. We live in a fallen world, mind you, and surely things will not go smooth all the time. Hopefully, these entries will serve to give you a glimpse into a couple’s world and the struggles some of you will face (if you are not married yet) in the near future. But then again, let me qualify. These are just some of our experiences as a very young couple and there is definitely a lot more struggles as we progress in our journey especially when major decisions have to be made (e.g. purchase of house, renovation and design, children, work vs family, etc).

So here goes!

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We are one year old!

We have spent one year together as a married couple! Woot!

This one year has been amazing and each day spent fruitfully with each other. We realised during our courtship that the Lord giveth and taketh, and our time on earth is short. So, instead of getting upset over small and big stuff (or petty stuff) alike, why not trash things out quickly and make peace so that we could live each day lovingly?

And we did just that. God has been truly gracious and wonderful in providing us with each other and we couldn’t be more thankful.

And today, since it was our anniversary, we decided to go out! (huh…?) Err…we are truly home people and even though we intended to go Quincy Market near the harbour for a good meal but in the end, just settled for a normal one. Lobsters seemed expensive and we thought we could go for it again next time. Erm, yes, we are just really practical people and of course, even though we grew up in the city, we got bored with walking around the shops and spent more time in Borders instead =p Next time, we should really go hiking!

And today, it was pretty exciting in Church. There is something unique about Park Street Church. The church is very welcoming and wanted every one to be part of the family and one way of doing that is to connect and SERVE. So, today, there were booths set up and we went shopping for the ministries that we wanted to grow and serve in. There were just so many avenues! Both of us (more of I) were interested in the honeymooners classes for couples in their first few years of marriage where we could learn principles for developing a marriage that will last a lifetime. It would be fun learning from other newlyweds too!

Oh! There were also others that we were interested in but we would update again. And, we bumped into my ex-churchmate who is studying in MIT now for her PhD. I know she’s in Boston and I’m supposed to catch up with her but little did we know that she is also worshipping at the same church. Whoah!!!

God is good, all the time!