This November

November 2018 is a memorable month. Unlike the other Novembers, this particular one is so special it made me tear and reflect much.

You see, the girl graduated from kindy and celebrated her sixth birthday, all in the same month. It was a milestone, no doubt, because she would be entering into another phase of her life…and so would I.

Where have all those years gone, I wonder? I could still remember the day I held her in my arms for the very first time, the wonderful playdates we had when she was a toddler, her first day in school, her first (Chinese) church camp at 3YO, her first time meeting her brother, our mother-daughter bonding trip

With that, I have also been a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) for six years. Unbelievable. It’s possible, all by the grace of God.

I remember the great struggle I had when I had to decide between being a working mom and a SAHM. I couldn’t imagine myself to be a SAHM. I mean, I enjoy the outdoors, love my job (teaching) and the meaning it brings to my life. After all, teaching is a calling. Why pluck me out from it?

Then I was asked, “What is God asking you to do in this season of your life?”

I obeyed the call, albeit unwillingly, and began my SAHM journey.

It was lonely, extremely lonely, in the beginning. I was facing the four walls daily and being a new mom, I was afraid to head out because I wasn’t confident of managing that little human being on my own. I turned to moms’ blogs a lot for encouragement and survival and that was when I started to open my blog to the public, to track my own motherhood journey, to share insights and perhaps to encourage other moms.

Looking back, these past six years have been nothing but adventurous and life-changing, if I may add. I have taken up cake decorating courses and baked cakes for a small profit. I did a short teaching stint on baking and cake decorating until I realised I was pregnant with #2. Things started looking grim when I had to deal with two kids and I started withdrawing into my own world. It wasn’t until I started teaching Faith that my life started to look up.

I love teaching. I really do. I remember the hubs assuring me, “You can teach our kids even though you may not be teaching in schools anymore.”

I did just that. I enrolled myself in an online Montessori course and started teaching the girl. Teaching made me alive and my mind was filled with tons of ideas every single day. There were good days and there were bad ones but overall, it was fun and fulfilling.

There were challenges of course, tons of them. Dealing with the kids’ tantrums, instructing their hearts, chauffeuring the kids from point A to B to C, household chores, loneliness and solo-parenting days when the hubs has to be away for meetings at night and weekend, just to name a few.

However it was through those circumstances that I grew and learnt more about my own selfishness as a wife and mom. The Lord revealed the ugliness in me and yet showed me His grace and love towards me each time I repented.

I wasn’t really alone in this journey; He has always been there with me! He caused me to see things from another perspective through my husband. He sent me wonderful ladies to encourage and speak into my life. He lifted me up when I was spiritually down. He led me into a ministry that I enjoyed serving. He gave me purpose in what I was doing.

And I should be thankful, that He sent Faith into my life. A sensible and mature girl for her age, she has helped me with taking care of her brother, for instance. God has used her to make me a better person and for that, I’m immensely grateful.

The first six years are tiring and demanding because these children need you for many aspects of their lives but they are also very short years. Before you know it, those little hands which longed to be held by you would want to break free.

Treasure those early years.

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Dan turns 3

So this boy turns 3 today!

His third year had been a joy to me because we understood each other more and he has the language to tell us how he feels and what he wants. He’s really quite adorable and made me laugh a lot. It’s a far cry from his first and second year in which I found myself wanting to be away from him; he drove me mad. 😫 #beingreal

He’s a simple boy. Give him Duplo and books and they could occupy him for a good number of hours. He’s not into puzzles, unlike his sister. Loves animals, all sorts, but only those that are found on print. If he meets any creatures, he would be the first to hide behind a closed one and cry murder. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Of all the slices of cakes I bought, he chose this piece. It’s hardly a surprise since he adores chocolate, just like the mom.

We didn’t have anything special for his celebration, just a gathering of family members over a meal, for this is how we celebrate birthdays. It’s our family tradition.

I’m thankful for this family (in-laws). Each one of them has helped in their own capacity and they have made parenting a tad easier for the hubs and me.

Thank you, God, for his growth. Our prayer is that the boy would grow up to know and love You, to be a man after Your heart.

A review of 2017

Before we usher in the new year, I thought I should pen down some of the highlights of 2017.

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This is my IG’s #2017bestnine and I think it truly reflects some of the best moments for this year. One of the most memorable and one which I’m immensely grateful for is the salvation and baptism of my father. There is no greater joy than to see your loved ones and friends accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. I recalled very clearly how I was prompted to ask if he wanted to receive Jesus into his life as he rested on the ICU bed. He told me just moments before that, “I told God to save me because it’s so painful.” And I knew that I had to ask him that life-changing question. He’d never wanted to accept Jesus because he needed to perform his duty to pay respect to his deceased parents and well, he was very much rooted in his belief all those years. At the end of it, God must have worked in his heart. At his baptism, his testimony was read and I’m certain he’s assured of his salvation. It’s all by His grace, not by works so that no one could boast.

We had two family trips and I had one all-girls’ trip this year. I’m thankful that the trips were wonderful ones and that none of us fell sick during the holidays. I love the Perth (WA) trip because it was with the in-laws and that means help with the children! Haha… but I truly love the self-drive trip.

My eventual goal is to travel in a caravan and rough it out (when the kids are older). Couple trip? I don’t see that possibility until the kids are much bigger since help is not available.

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I managed to do a few runs this year and I think I’m slowly going back to what I love to do – running. I run at a slower pace now for sure but that doesn’t matter. I’m trying to regain what I’ve missed over the past few years. I hope to be more serious and consistent next year. We ended the year with F doing the kids’ dash and me participating in the SCSM’s ekiden category.  She’s definitely in the mood to run more now. 😉

This year, handling both kids has been better than 2016. The hubs and I regained our beauty sleep (sorta); at least I didn’t have to wake up every half an hour at night. We have had problems of course – tantrums, disobedience, stubbornness, etc – but we have to continue to work with them through their growing up years. Being a parent makes me a better person because through the process, I understand myself better, a very selfish person, and I learn to trust Him more and it’s truly by His grace that I survive EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a lot of heartache in parenting but well, I’m reminded that I’m a WIP still, till I’m at my deathbed.

 

I’m slowly availing myself to serve. Since I’ve had kids, I dared not serve in church or in any capacity because I’m fearful of commitments and I’m not sure if I can handle anything more (especially serious stuff). There is a stage when I served till I encountered burnout and it had affected my fellowship with the Lord. I’m careful this time round, to hear from Him and to make sure I depend on Him rather than on my own strength. I’ve started to serve in the Chinese Sunday school, and to allow Him to work through me because teaching in Chinese is not my forte AT ALL! But again, if I’m using my own strength, then it’s all about me and not about Him. I’d let Him shine through my service.

 

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Towards the end of the year, I decided to embark on the business side of Mary Kay. I had run out of my skincare products and needed to purchase more. However, my account has ceased because of inactivity for some time and this time round, my friend/mentor/consultant, sensing my readiness, asked me if I wanted to know more of the business opportunity which I took up eventually. I’ve said again that after using the products for more than four years, I’m convinced of its effectiveness. I took some time to understand the business side of it and think I like the company’s or founder’s motto and I have seen this philosophy at work when I went for meetings.

img_1611There are people who shun direct selling or MLM but I’m fine as long as the products are good and I’m definitely okay with the company paying the consultants for their work rather than spending millions on a supermodel for advertising, marketing, rental fee and middlemen, whatever whatever. Obviously, I don’t have the correct terms (haha). I’ve seen many women being empowered through MK and it has truly lived out its belief – enriching women’s lives.

I do think it’s tough if you want to work and take care of the kids at the same time (I’m referring to a stay-at-home-working-mom). It’s a struggle. You basically can’t work as long as the kids’ eyes are open. I can’t bake (I had to turn down requests) and attending events (for blogging) is also difficult. I gave up baking for others completely this year and limit my blogging activities because I just can’t do much anymore. There is a high opportunity cost when I do the said activities.

At the end of the day, I want to be with my kids during the growing up phase. Anything that takes too much time away from them is a no-no. So MK works because it’s flexible and allows me to meet up with fellow moms (ME time!) and to help them find a product to address their skincare problems . I don’t want to earn lots but yet I need to continue to hone my skills and hopefully I can enrich my life and women’s lives.

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The year end holidays proved to be an eventful one. We had multiple playdates and outings and the children were kept busy and happy all the time. I’m thankful to have met a few moms online and their company was so precious to me. It’s truly a blessing to have found like-minded moms whom you could share deep thoughts with.

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During this period, we could do more sports with the children and because of that, Faith could finally swim (after 1.5 years of lessons) unassisted. By that I mean she could swim across the breadth of the pool on her own. She’s still learning to swim with the correct stroke but it’s heartening to see that she could swim now.

The girl has been practising more on her balance bike during the hols and when I saw that she could balance well, I suggested that we fit the pedals. The next day, she could ride the bicycle effortlessly! Now, I understand how a balance bike works in training the kid to ride a bike! I guess we really ought to be intentional about carving time for the little ones to practise their gross motor skills!

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As the year draws to a close and as we celebrate Christmas, I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for His presence in my life. He is the best and most perfect gift and He is all that we need.

有一件礼物,你收到没有,
眼睛看不到,你心会知道,
这一件礼物,心门外等候,
是为了你准备,别人不能收。

生命有限,时光也会走,
如果你不珍惜,机会难留,
礼物虽然好,如果你不要,
你怎么能够得到,
怎么能得到?

亲爱的朋友,你是否想到,
马槽的婴孩,是为你而来,
亲爱的朋友,你是否了解,
最好的礼物是人子主耶稣。

He is the reason for this season.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
2 Corinthians 9:15

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Faith is five

The girl turned five a few days back but the mom was too busy to record on this space.

Just two weeks ago, the girl performed at her school concert and it made me tear a little. A few years back, she was this chubby baby in my arms and now she is this young lady with a unique character and having a mind of her own, no doubt. Where have all these years gone?

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She has always been a sensible girl. I would always recall during the first trimester period when I was carrying Dan in my womb and having pangs of morning sickness, she would run to me and asked,”Mama, are you all right?” Now that Dan is older, she would help me take care of the brother and when I was frustrated with him, she would pull him aside and entertain him, thus giving me some space to breathe.

Concert Day

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This year, she requested that her papa attend her birthday celebration in school and asked for a PJ Masks cake. I must be mad to bake this cake for her. Baking with Dan around is no joke. It gave me much stress but in any case, I survived. 2 batches of sponge cakes, 1 batch of IMBC and 1 batch of chiffon cake in various colours for the exterior design and the cake was born. Thank you, Lord.

Before I know it, she would be in K2 and then commence her Primary School life soon. I’m…not looking forward to that day.

One year old 

Last year, this day, I held you in my arms. You were so small then but at the same time, I was amazed by the strength in which your fingers grasped mine.

One year on and I’m constantly thankful to God for bringing you into our lives.

Blessed birthday, dear son, and may you grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Dan @ 9 months old


Dan turns 9 months old today.

:: Can crawl on all fours

:: Is starting to cruise and loves to pull out stuff from the shelves

:: Has five teeth. Loves to nibble on apples and rock melon. Prefers carrots and peas to meat. Still can’t chew and needs puréed food. Can drink from a straw cup.

:: Loves to come into the kitchen when Mama is cooking

:: Will always disturb the sister when Mama is teaching her. Likes playing with her flash cards.

:: Calls ‘mama’ when he is hungry

:: Can’t sleep through the night and will wake up 2 to 3 times for feed. Requires 2 naps per day, one at around 9am, another around 2pm.

 

Dan is 7 months old 

Dan turns 7 months old!


Dear Dan

How you have grown! You are 7 months old today! It’s been a joy seeing you develop over the months and I’m sure you enjoyed the culinary adventure over this past month.


You like sweet potato, pear, peas, carrot and parsnip but you frown at apple (so weird) and banana. I would have thought you love them! In any case, I’ll try again.

You are very much attached to me and since you can recognise faces now, it’s all the more difficult for me to get your Ah Gong or any other persons to look after you, even for a short while. You will cry non-stop till I come back and seeing your tears makes me guilty. You must understand that I need time off and I cannot always stick with you. I do need a break, my dear boy. Very soon, you will realise that your doting grandfather is fun to be with!

Your two lower teeth have finally appeared and that also means that we could have easier nights as compared to the weeks that you were teething. I know it really hurt you but that is part of growing up!

I thought I heard you cry out “Mama, Mama” for me to come to you, especially in the morning. I wasn’t hearing things, was I?

You adore your sister and was so tickled by her silly jokes each time we went to fetch her from school. I hope you will continue to look up to her because she is really an awesome sister. She holds no ill feelings towards you even though she gets ticked off because of you. See, she has a magnanimous heart. Learn from her!

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These pictures were taken shortly after the March school holidays and your rash/eczema got so bad that we had to sent you to the dermatologist who prescribed a mild steroid and antibiotic cream for you. It wasn’t the best solution but since natural remedies didn’t help and your condition worsened each day, I felt like I was at wit’s end and decided to resort this form of medication. Thankfully, it really healed and till today, your condition is under control. We are praying that it won’t flare up again!

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Mama and Papa love you and your sister a lot. Continue to grow well!

Entering a new milestone with Toddle

[Review + 15% coupon code]

Can you sense my excitement as we enter a new milestone for Dan? He is starting a whole new adventure on solid foods!

As a second-time mother, I am more composed than when I first embarked on this milestone with my elder daughter. Having gained some experience in this area, I found myself looking forward to the day that Dan was ready for solid foods. At around five months old, he showed quite an interest in our food at the dinner table. He could sit well on the high chair and had good control of his head and neck. Moreover, it seemed that he was dissatisfied with milk feeds alone. Time to introduce solids!

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Obviously, I needed to get the equipment ready and here are some basic ones that I would need:
:: Plastic spoons
:: Plastic bowls.
:: Bibs
:: Containers/ice trays for making multiple portions of solids (for freezing)
:: High chair

I hopped on to Toddle and consolidated what I needed. If you have not already known, Toddle is an online baby and kids store that stocks the best of what’s available out there. Every item is specially selected and their collection comprises the latest, popular brands, as well as niche labels sourced both locally and from overseas markets. That means you don’t have to choose from an overwhelming selection of products and that translates to saving of precious time for me.

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My loot arrived on the second day upon purchasing (very fast) and I got down to work very quickly. Dan’s first solid food is homemade rice cereal (mixed with breastmilk) which is one of the least allergenic food. I use this set of Oxo non-slip, high-walled bowls with lids together with these Munchkin spoons that turn white when the food is too hot, so I’m always sure that the food is at a safe temperature to feed Dan.

The first time Dan tasted the rice cereal, he gave me a suspicious look and pushed out the food. Remember to chill. My aim was to start him on one or two teaspoonfuls and to encourage him to learn to eat.

After a few days of rice cereal, I thought it was time to move on. Surely, he was bored with it! This time round, I made batches of pumpkin puree using the Beaba silicone multiportions. I love this food storage container because the frozen food doesn’t stick to it but comes off easily. It’s a good investment because it grows with your kids and can easily be used to make desserts and snacks like popsicles, chocolates and even for baking cupcakes.

It’s been two weeks since I last started the baby on solid foods. He’s taking in small amount still but that’s all right. The more important thing is to enjoy this journey, both mom and baby, and to expose him to a variety of food lest he becomes a picky eater. When we are out, I would pack his food stuff in the Skip Hop insulated lunchie bag so now, he’s officially included at the dining table!

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I’m thankful to have Toddle partner us in this journey and has made the initial baby food making a breeze with the wonderful products that they have stocked. The online store is well-organised and easy to navigate. Detailed description and vivid pictures of each product are given and this helps us to make informed purchases. What I really appreciate is that the store does not have an overwhelming selection of products and what they have are what we need. In this case, really, less is more.

The good folks at Toddle are giving you, my dear readers, a 15% OFF for purchases above SGD 70.00 by using the coupon code lynn15 as you checkout.  To utilize the code, you would need to sign up a customer account with them and join their mailing list. This coupon code is valid 2 weeks from now.

So, go ahead and browse Toddle for their products. I’m sure you would have a pleasant shopping experience. Do check out their facebook page to get yourself updated! Alternatively, you can always stalk them on Instagram (@thetoddleshop).

Disclaimer: I was gifted shopping fee credits from Toddle to purchase the mentioned products and I topped up for the remaining amount. No additional monetary compensation was given and I do not stand to gain any commission from sales using the discount code given. All opinions are mine.

Dear Daniel (@ 4 months old)

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Dear Daniel

You turned 4 months old today! And mama realised that she hasn’t been recording much of your development. It’s not that you are less precious than your sister. It’s just that Mama is learning how to handle both of you and the learning curve is super steep. Now that things have gotten better, I’d better lock some of those memories here.

I remember during your first month, I asked the confinement lady if she was tired since she had to wake up in the middle of the night to bottle-feed you and her reply was,”He’s easy to take care of. Cry so softly and it’s like whimpering unlike some of the babies who scream. He’s considered gentle to me.”

I laughed at her comments but it’s so true. I have not really heard you cry that loudly. The only few times that you did was when you were hungry in the car and when I showered you. Since then, I make sure that you have your fill before we go places.

You take to the bottle well which is a relief for me since Papa is doing the night shift and that means I do not have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed you. I hope you are not giving him a difficult time! He has to work in the daytime, you know? But he has graciously offered to do the night shift because he knows I need the sleep or maybe he’s worried that I would harm you and Jie Jie if I don’t have enough rest? *Just kidding* On the average, you wake up 2 times for milk according to Papa and we didn’t bother to sleep train you since by doing that, you might wake Jie Jie up who has school the next day. We certainly hope you will grow out of it in due time, just like your Jie Jie.

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I want you to know that you have an awesome sister who treasures you a lot. Whenever Mama asks her to look after you, she would never refuse me because she just wants to spend time with you and take care of you like a good Jie Jie. She wishes that you would grow up quickly though because she can’t wait to play with you.

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You are very predictable and adhere to the same routine each day. You nap every 2 hours and have a longer 3-hour nap in the afternoon before retiring for the day at 7pm each day. In terms of bedtime, I must say you are much better than your sister. I don’t have to sing you songs or rock you to sleep. You just, well, fall asleep. Because of that, I could spend the evening with your sister. What a wonderful brother you are!

Today, you flipped and I missed you in action as your sister was asking me to play with her. I got distracted. Sigh! But it’s a neat surprise when I turned to see you in that “flipped” position! I was quite sure your neck was not strong enough since I didn’t really conduct tummy time often enough for you. So, I was surprised and literally cried for joy.

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Mama likes the way you observe your surrounding and this shows that you have a curious mind (colloquially we term it as ‘kaypoh’) and I absolutely love it when you flash that smile of yours whenever we chat you up. So adorable. Stay that way, will you?

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Mama will try to record your milestones and development diligently from now on. It has not be an easy 4 months but I’m reminded that I can always count on the Lord for strength daily. May you grow up to love the Lord and seek Him always.

Love
Mama

[Motivational Monday] The gifts

The hubs took leave today to spend my birthday with me.

We didn’t plan anything grand. In fact, it was just another ordinary day for us. But I’m thankful…

…thankful that I can spend a slow breakfast with my family.

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…thankful that I could do grocery in the supermarket because without the hubs, it would be a highly challenging task for me with the two kids around.

…thankful that Dan is growing well.

20151207_112922Dan’s 2-month checkup.
Wt: 5.1kg
Ht: 57cm

… thankful that Faith is a caring sister to Dan and has many good qualities in her although there are still a lot of areas she has to work on.

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Wanted to buy this set of baking equipment for her but she didn’t want, explaining that she had already. Self-control in action and I really ought to learn from her.

…thankful that the hubs agreed to attempt BBG with me and today, we did out first set. Yay! More to go?

… thankful that I could prepare meals for my family and that they like the food.

… thankful that I could squeeze in time to bake to appreciate someone who helped us even though he may not know us personally.

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To be able to spend time with the family and do the things I love are gifts for me on this somewhat special day. There is really no need to ask for more because I have everything I need and I’m blessed.

 

Dan is 1 month old!

The boy is 1 month old today! Oh, what joy!

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It has been a busy day as we delivered the full month’s boxes of goodies to our relatives. This time round, instead of western desserts like cakes and tarts, we decided on something traditional like nonya kuehs.

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From Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery

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But this was not before the hubs and I had a slow breakfast discussing Faith’s recent change in habits and attitudes. The last two weeks hadn’t been all blissful. Of all times, Faith had to fall sick during the third week of the confinement period and she was all cranky and whiny. She cried at the slightest thing and sometimes we had absolutely no clue as to what caused her sudden change in attitude. Just a few days before, she was this excited and caring sister to Dan and then she morphed into one who was disobedient to her parents and always up to mischief.

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I was frustrated, no doubt. Added to this was the fact that my breast was engorged and I had very sore left nipple, thanks to Dan’s poor latching. When would all these pain end?

Thankfully, the confinement lady (CL) was all understanding and told me to be patient towards the girl who was obviously having a hard time transiting to her new role and having to share her parents with her brother. “Get her to help you more. She will appreciate it.”

And one evening, after cleaning Dan, the CL placed Dan on Faith’s lap. The little girl was pleasantly surprised. At last, someone trusted her enough! You see, I had not allowed Faith to get close to Dan because she was coughing and many times, she forgot to cover her mouth or to turn away. I wouldn’t want Dan to catch the bug and thus forbade her to get too close to her brother.

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Since that incident, Faith started to care for her brother more but her whines and cries continued until I had enough and asked her where she learnt it from. “From baby…”

She must have come to the conclusion that we would tend to her and give her attention if she cries, just like her brother. Poor girl. I admit, that in grappling with the changes, I had forgotten to pause and laugh at her silly acts (which she purposely did so to make me happy). I had, more often than not, asked her to wait and wait and wait while I tend to her brother. I had also ignored her desire to want to be more involved with Dan, together with her mother, and not to be left alone to do her own thing. Oh, the damage that I have done to her.

And then the mother’s guilt!

So, I’ve decided to intentionally set aside some time to spend with her (let’s call it mother-daughter bonding time) and sneaked out on one of the confinement days to do what women love – shop and eat! Boy, was she happy and we were both recharged!

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So, has life gotten better now?

Nope.

In fact, ever since the CL left (which was 2 days ago), I have been trying to ‘work things out’. Having two kids is definitely different and more challenging as compared to having just one. Different nap times, trying to prepare meals in time and finding time to spend with the toddler are some of the more urgent concerns. And I’m not even adding my own personal rest time (huh? what’s that?) into the list. Many moms have assured me that this is only a phrase and it would soon pass so I’m taking their word for it.

385c53dcead19ff335eba0d9345c8976via http://www.motherletters.com

I’m taking a step at a time now and allowing the Lord to teach me more about motherhood and myself. It can only get better.

P.S. If this post sounds incoherent, that’s due to a lack of sleep …and caffeine.

Thankful Tuesday | Faith’s 18 months old!

Today, we celebrate. Faith’s 18 months old and it’s quite a milestone for all of us, the little one and the parents alike!

It has been mostly joy spending time with her now. Ask me during my first year of parenting and you will get a pessimistic response. Now, she could do so many things with me. I don’t have to prepare any special diet for her when we go out because she is okay with the food served at the market, cafes or restaurant. This is a hassle that is off-loaded from me. Phew! The only thing that still bugs me is how messy she can get when she wants to feed herself. ;p

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I had the privilege to host a few SAHMs for our monthly meetup and this time round, Faith is the oldest of the kids. I should definitely do more of these meetups so that she could get to socialise with other kids!

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And the kids were fascinated with the baby boy or was it the rocker? We couldn’t tell. 😉

But oh, what a wonderful Tuesday!

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