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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[Thankful Thursday] The past few weeks

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These few weeks have been quite a ride. Dad was hospitalised and needed to go through an emergency operation. It came as a shock to us but thankfully the operation went well and through this experience, he realised life is not within his control and all he could do was to pray to God for mercy. Lying on the bed in ICU, he prayed and received Christ into his life. All glory to God.

It’s been more than two decades of praying for him and sharing about the faith with him. I have to be honest, that I became faithless and stopped praying regularly for both my parents. At times, there would be reminders and I started bringing both to events. Through it all, I know that even if I am faithless, Christ is the faithful one.

Each day passed by really quickly and I seem to have endless things to do. Yea, SAHMs are busy people! I survive on two cups of coffee daily and dare not consume more for fear of insomnia. I need caffeine to start my engine in the morning and when I get sluggish in the afternoon, another cup will suffice. Oh yes, this Tekika Coffee which my friend blessed me with, lifted my spirits once I tore open the packet. Truly aromatic.

And then Dan felt sick. He developed a slight cough which worsened each day. A couple of days later, he turned feverish. We took no chance and brought him to a GP and the next day, to a PD. Blood test was taken and in the end, he needed to be nebulised.

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I know this is rather common but seeing the little one go through this can be heart-breaking for the parents. Yet from this, I can be thankful because treatment was available and the hubs was all very hands-on. The sister has shown herself to be understanding and helped the mom whenever the latter needed assistance.

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A good and caring sister she is and I thank God for her. Of course, she could be cheeky and at times, challenged us but on the whole, she’s a wonderful girl!

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I’m greatly indebted to fellow mommies for their concern and encouragement. One of them, Jenn of Mylilbookworm even ordered food for me and got them to be delivered to my doorstep because she figured that it would be tiring having to take care of an unwell child so sending food to me would be practical. Am really grateful for that kind gesture.

I guess that’s much to be thankful about even though the circumstances might not look positive. God knows it all and will enable and provide.

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.

The Trehaus Kids Atelier

Once upon a time, when I was still carrying Faith in the womb, I thought it would be wonderful if I could work and be present for Faith at the same time. I mean, it’s fine if I have to be away from her for a few hours each day but if it’s 8 to 10 hours daily, then it can get unbearable. I’m quite certain that this is the constant struggle for working parents so when I read about Trehaus, I couldn’t help but beam with delight. Now, parents with flexible working arrangements can  bring their children along and while they work, they could have the assurance that their kids are well taken care of and be engaged with play at The Kids Atelier. All these, under one roof.

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I had the opportunity to visit Trehaus during the March holiday. After a brief tour of the work spaces, we spent the next two hours at the Kids Atelier. There was an instant sense of calm and tranquility as we stepped in.

The space is divided into different zones where kids are encouraged to explore the materials on their own and with others. These materials are selected for their aesthetic, sensorial and functional qualities and are safe and truly attractive to both the parents (like me) and the children.

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The children present were first gathered (despite the different age groups) for Circle Time. It was Faith’s first time at the Kids Atelier and it was obvious that she felt a little out of place. The teachers caught that and made her feel welcomed and she quickly felt at ease with the rest of the group. Thumbs up for experienced and caring teachers.

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While the older kids were engaged, I continued the tour of the place. There was a quiet and cosy corner where kids could take a rest and nap.

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And our little friend decided to try out this bean bag. So comfy!

This is a private space for breastfeeding moms – the nursing room. It certainly feels like home – so cosy and and with such tasteful decor!

Faith was thoroughly engaged with the materials in each zone and there was little facilitation from the teachers themselves, as far as I observed. The children moved from zones to zones on their own accord and worked with the materials provided. It was indeed a pleasant sight for me, as an onlooker. They were involved in open-ended play and it seemed like they were satisfying their curiosity as they played!

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This little man here was not neglected as his older sister had her mind stimulated. He was working on his muscles too and enjoying every minute of it.

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I left Trehaus feeling hopeful. It is Singapore’s first co-working space equipped with child-minding facilities and I certainly hope this will pave the way for more companies to consider and adopt such a concept. Many women decided to leave the workforce upon having kids because they wanted to spend the early formation years with them and didn’t want to be apart from them for long period of time daily if they work, amongst other reasons. To many, it is a struggle to have to leave their career in order to look after the children. It is about priorities, for sure, but if there are options such as this and other flexible working arrangements, perhaps we could retain more women in the workforce?

If you are curious about Trehaus, you could book a 30-minute tour with them and find out more about their vision and membership plans. They organise events (such as this upcoming Baby Playgroup) every now and then so do keep yourselves updated via their facebook page.

Drop off is available at the Trehaus Kids Atelier too!

12990952_10153565375674677_3426234976137802183_nFaith and N, her playmate for that day

Trehaus Cowork
Claymore Connect
442 Orchard Road, #03-01
Singapore 238879
Tel: 9843 8077
Email: enquiries@trehauscowork.com
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 9a.m. – 6p.m.

Disclaimer: We were invited to Trehaus and all opinions are mine.

The first six months as a mother of 2

[Reflections]

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Dan recently had his 6-month’s checkup and that means that I have been a mother of two for half a year! Hooray! You may think that it’s no big deal but to me, it is. Life has changed so much. With just one kid, life is a breeze. Two?

Before the boy popped out, I had many friends who asked me if I would be getting a helper to cope with household chores and looking after the kids. It’s a definite NO for me because I treasure my personal space and since we don’t live in a big place, I reckoned I could manage, somehow. Also, I think managing one more being causes too much of a stress to me so hiring a helper is out of the question.

This time round, getting the folks to help out has been reduced drastically as compared to the time when I had Faith only. Dad couldn’t help because he was just too weak; he couldn’t even carry Dan for more than five minutes. My FIL is getting old too so just two hours with an active preschooler wears him out. That leaves me with two kids, on my own.

The first two months

It WAS terrible. You may have seen wonderful pictures of us having fun and our faces beaming with delight but behind the scene, it was a lot of pain and tears – for Faith and me. I thought I had prepared Faith for the reality of a brother through talking to her about him constantly and reading her related books. I thought she was mature enough to handle the new arrival because she had told me that she was looking forward to the baby and she had been a good girl all along. The reality is, she wasn’t ready and she needed my attention at the same time when the baby needed it. I was without any help and I snapped, ALL THE TIME (ok, maybe MOST OF THE TIME).

But the beautiful thing is ‘THINGS WILL GET BETTER’. This message is consistently related to me by many mothers who have gone before me and I held on tightly to that promise like gospel truth and things did get better. Perhaps, Faith finally realised that the baby brother was here to stay or perhaps, I was more chilled about things and learnt that being present with the kids is more important that getting things/chores done.

But I still need to warn you, especially for those who are expecting the second one, that life will be rough, for the initial months and I kid you not. So, brace yourselves for the challenges to come.

On homecooked food

I am an advocate for homecooked food because I want the best for my family in terms of their health. But I know managing two kids and household chores can be demanding and I thought of the following options in terms of food:

  1. Order Tingkat (good ones)
  2. Buy a thermomix in the hope that cooking can be easier
  3. Humbly ask auntie-in-law to prepare dinner for us and pray that she would agree
  4. Eat out every other day

In the end, none materialised.

Ordering tingkat from good caterers is a very feasible option but no matter how good they can be, they will not give you the best that you want, IMHO. Will they give you a good cut of the meat? Will they use good oil? I may be wrong about them but they are, after all, running a business and until I can find one who is really interested in the welfare of their customers and are reasonably priced (remember we are surviving on one income?), I have to stick to cooking.

Thermomix? According to my friend who owns one, she finds it a real time-saver. I was almost tempted to buy except that I want my children to know that cooking is not about pressing some function keys and viola, you have food*! These days, there are indeed many efficient machines that makes life more convenient for us but I belong to the old-school group of people (please don’t judge me). I want my children to know their food source, how food can be prepared and understand the effort in churning out meals. This is how I was brought up and I’m thankful to my mom that she had insisted that my siblings and I go to the market with her to do grocery and that we help out in the kitchen. There are a lot to be learnt from these activities and I’m still learning.

*Comment is given based on my very limited knowledge of the product

Options #3 and #4 are actually not good options so they are discarded almost immediately.

So, I cook every meal except during the weekends. I may not be able to prepare many dishes and we mostly survive on one-pot meal but that is good enough. These days, I buy enough ingredients for a week on one trip, prepare them in small portions and freeze them until I need to use them. Specific ingredients for the next day are prepared and marinated the night before. And I find that thermal cookers are the best invention because the food can be prepared in advance and still is piping hot when we want to consume it. I absolutely love mine. BTW, a 1.5l is good enough for daily use.

#notsponsored

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I consider homecooked food to be the best for my family. I cook so that my children can see me in action and learn the skills as they grow older. Obviously, they have to be involved at one point or another and they are often more than happy to help, at least for now.

Household chores

No helper? It’s okay! Just lower your expectation about cleanliness and change your mindset about household chores. Attempting these chores is a form of exercise, no? In fact, it’s the ONLY exercise I do these days though I hope to carve out time for some proper workout. My stamina has dropped! Boo hoo!

Be humble and accept help

There are many who, upon knowing that I do not have a helper, asked me how I cope. Somehow, I just have to cope? I mean, there are MANY parents out there who do not have a helper like us and they do just fine. Having said that, I am immensely thankful to friends who lend a helping hand to me whenever I need it. I have dear friends who cook extra food for me to bring home after Faith’s playdate, give me wonderful snacks for me to munch on, and more recently, a parent of Faith’s schoolmate who will always invite us over to have lunch so that I don’t have to cook.

And my FIL? He comes every weekend to iron our clothes and mop the floor. It’s his way of showing love to us so we don’t bother to protest.

Be humble and keep learning

I don’t want to kid you, that there are many times that I want to quit being a SAHM, or a mother because it’s so tough. My ‘before-the-children-came-along’ life was so much more exciting and when the going gets tough, I find myself yearning to go back to that life. Yet, and it’s true that “Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127: 3-5) and when I sit down to ponder the Word of God and the many fond memories that He has blessed our family with, truly I can say, “I’m contented.”

Many times, I feel that God gives us children so that we can better ourselves. I realised I am so ugly and imperfect but my children will always extend their grace to me. They (specifically Faith) will bounce back after each scolding session and flash me their innocent smiles. When I’m down and out, I hear a concerned, “Are you okay, mom?” There’s much to learn from the children themselves in certain aspects, if only we maintain a humble heart.

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Motherhood/Parenthood has to be a calling, at least to me. Little lives are in our hands and I’d better make sure that I do a good job in it. There are obviously things that we (the hubs and I) have to give up and we find ourselves having to die to ourselves daily. The last question above, “Are you willing to postpone your dreams to cultivate your children’s hearts now?” poked at my heart recently and I find myself having to reply…

Yes, I’m willing, Lord.

7f18fb92f0da51cb0164c120ea817335.jpgOh, so true!

I have survived the first 6 months (yipee!) but how will the next half a year be?

 

How’s your 2015?

It’s the last day of 2015 and I’m not sure what to think of it. What have I achieved this year?

I was just telling the hubs the other day that I felt I have done nothing much and 2015 seemed like a very plain year and he exclaimed, “You gave birth to a baby!”

Oh yes, I forgot about that.

I guess that day was one of the many bad days I have had in December.

Faith was down with cough since the beginning of this month and I was exhausted by the experience. We tried both the western and eastern medication and it caused much stress for me. To add to that, she was difficult to deal with and I found myself having to discipline her EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s really a tough battle. I know it’s not easy for her, she having to deal with the cough and then rashes and to have to share her parents with her brother. I wish I could empathize with her but only Mr Anger showed up.

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Non-stop coughing

This Christmas, I couldn’t feel the cheer at all and let it pass by silently.

Since today is the last day of 2015 and things have gotten better this week, I thought I should pen down some thoughts and reflections.

The beginning of this year saw Faith entering school for the first time and I was relieved and thankful that throughout this year, she has expressed joy in attending school and loves her principal, teachers and friends. This holiday, she has asked me (countless times) when school will reopen. Soon, my dear, soon! During the last Parent-Teacher-Meeting, her report was stellar and it’s really a joy to see her grow in all aspects.

Because I had three and eventually four hours to myself while the girl was in school, I could accept more cake orders. I started taking orders from strangers and the experience had been enriching and satisfying.

Obviously, the highlight for this year is the birth of Daniel. I’m thankful for an uneventful pregnancy and that I could experience a natural birth for him. And you thought that things would be all right for me since I have experience with the firstborn but this time round, I was completely caught off-guard.

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It isn’t that Daniel was a difficult baby. On the contrary, he’s easy to take care of. It’s Faith. I wrote about this in an earlier post and things got so bad that I started disliking her. How is this possible? It happened to me. I was overwhelmed with having to deal with all things related to the home and a baby and the last thing I want is her tantrums. I found myself shouting at her which I wouldn’t need to in the past (she was really a very cooperative and obedient child). All of a sudden, I feel that I’m a terrible mom which resulted in me having a depressing December.

Things got better this week. Perhaps, I just need to get the hang of things and have a routine of sorts. I have chosen not to engage any external form of help with the household chores and I have to learn to work more smartly around the house. With just a child, it’s easy. Now with a toddler and a baby, it calls for swift work and at times, a compromise on cleanliness. I can’t go for perfection anymore. I have also learnt to give more personal time to Faith which isn’t easy since my priority would be for the baby.

Three months. I learnt these in three months and I fully expect that there’re lots more to learn in the coming months… and years.

I hope things will be more positive when Faith goes back to school. I guess there will always be challenges along the way and that’s how we grow as parents. It’s really a tough job. Brace up, fellow parents!

Christmas at the Queks, 2015

Relearning the basics – week 2

The confinement lady would not be here forever and I should take every opportunity between rest time to learn from her.

You would have thought that taking care of the newborn would come natural for me since I have had some experience with my firstborn. Alas, my memory is so finite that it took me a while to get used to taking care of a newborn.

For instance, I have to be mindful of the neck when carrying the baby and not lift him from the armpits, a habit that I’m so used to by now. I have also long forgotten how to clean a newborn and had to ask the confinement lady to demonstrate it for me. The other day, I was trying to change the diaper and got a bit lost because the genital organs of the boy differ from Faith’s. I was so afraid of hurting him but my confinement lady assured me that it is easier to care for a boy than for a girl since the parts are, well, external. 😳

Changing the clothes of a newborn can be rather daunting because I’m not so sure if the force I apply is too much. Oh, that fragile being! So I find vest-like romper to be the best choice of clothing when dressing a newborn since it’s much easier to slip the hands through the sleeves as compared to a onesie.

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When it comes to baby clothes, I certainly appreciate materials that are friendly on the skin just like this piece from Simply Life, a new homegrown brand. The material is made of superior bamboo fibres, which are more hypoallergenic, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Not only is it breathable and thermo regulating, the all-natural bamboo material is also highly absorbent and moisture-wicking. This romper went through a first wash and it remained as soft as when it was first delivered to my home. My confinement lady, upon seeing and feeling the material, instantly exclaimed (in Mandarin), “Whoah, this is quality stuff!”

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Indeed it is. I have always loved bamboo apparel and its feel on my own skin. In fact, many of my maternity clothing are made of bamboo fibres and I’m sure baby Daniel would appreciate such a material too.

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Let’s not forget the girl who also gets to enjoy the softness of the bamboo towel. Life is fair. 😉

So, I’m at the halfway mark of the confinement period. Disrupted sleep, 2 to 3-hourly feed and the need to divide my time between the two siblings are part of the whole package. I’m not sure how life will be like when the confinement lady departs. Busier? Most definitely. Would I get to take some time off for self-care? I don’t know. I will only know when that time comes.

Meanwhile, I need to learn and relearn some of the skills in dealing with an infant.

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Thank you, Simply Life for sending the baby products over. I was won over.

Simply Life is a brand founded under Creative Moms Pte Ltd. Built on the belief that our journey through life should be a joyous and uplifting one, Simply Life designs and produces products ranging from baby care and children’s wear to homeware and other lifestyle essentials, all with safe and top quality materials and come with encouraging messages. Their products are available at major departmental stores, children specialty stores and via their online shop simplylife.com.sg. Do check them out!

The little boy is presented with Simply Life’s newborn bamboo apparel for review purposes. No other forms of monetary compensation is given. All opinions are mine.

[Thankful Tuesday] Being a second time mom – the 1st week

Has it been a week since Dan was born?

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I’m having a thankful spirit as I pen down these thoughts. Being a second time mom is… much pleasurable than the first. One may say it’s because I’m more experienced but I would like to attribute it to ‘letting go’.

As a mom, you want the best for your child and when Faith was born, I told myself that I would never get her to drink formula milk. She could only be breastfed. My mind was made up before she came into the world but oh, that put an immense amount of stress on me during that first week.

My milk supply didn’t come in until a few days later but clearly Faith was dehydrated because she couldn’t latch on well and that means she wasn’t really taking in the colostrum that was given to her. Her jaundice level was high and she underwent photo therapy at home which added to the stress. I nearly got into depression but thankfully, we engaged a lactation consultant who showed me the ropes to get the baby to latch on properly.

This time round for Dan, I have no issue with giving him formula milk. Because there is no ideal anymore, there is also no pressure. The milk supply came in very soon and Dan was able to latch on well. The can of formula milk has been left untouched just after a couple of scoops (anyone wants to take over?).

We have an experienced confinement nanny and I leave most of the tasks to her. Previously, I did what the nanny was supposed to do (except cooking) because it just didn’t make sense to me to leave the job of a mother to someone else. How irresponsible is that? What I didn’t realise then was the need for the mom to rest, especially after she had carried the child for 9.5 months, gone through physiological changes and then a traumatic experience at the hospital with wounds and all.

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It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself first. How else would you be able to take care of the kids if you are not rested?

I’m thankful to have a confinement lady who keeps asking me to rest and a husband who has been so willing to help out in whatever capacity he has been called to. And Faith? She has shown herself to be ready to take on the role of a big sister. She understands that I have to feed the brother most of the time and will stay off the newborn when told to. She must have realised that the little brother isn’t really a lot of fun after all and does her own stuff or pesters us to play with her. I guess it’s not easy for her too that she has to handle such a major change in her life and to have to share her parents with her brother. I am told that she became emotional in school today and burst out crying, “I want my mummy…”

Poor girl.

But she will survive.

So, I’ve learnt. That if I don’t try to be a perfectionist but learn to let go, life will not be so difficult after all. There are indeed many things in life that we cannot control and since that is the case, why do I need to be so dogmatic and insist on one method to doing things? Learn to commit it to the Lord and all will be well.

Hope your Tuesday’s been good!

Wordless Wednesday: Owl Cupcakes

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A good friend has just given birth and I thought of making these cupcakes for her, just for her to take a look. Yes, I’m cruel, I know. ;p

I’m entering into the third trimester and my energy level has dipped. I’m mindful that I cannot control life and all I can do is to pray that the baby in my womb will grow to full term and that he will be a normal and healthy one.

Yes, I worry but I need to learn to trust in the Lord because He is the one who gives life and He definitely is in control, no matter what the circumstance is.

You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. -Isaiah 26:3

And I will always bear the following scripture verses in mind.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14

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SEA Games 2015 and thoughts on sports

Our nation hosted the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this year and we came in second, bagging a total of 84 goals, a record for the country! What a joy! And obviously, we took the opportunity to participate as spectators and attended the carnival held at the Sports hub.

20150604_101120 I’m pretty sure that many families have brought their children to the carnival. There were stations for the kids to try out the various sports and activities. I was hoping Faith would enjoy the carnival but the fact is she didn’t. 20150604_103130 It was terribly hot that day we went down and she wasn’t in the mood to try out anything which was a real pity. The other kids who were with us enjoyed sweating it out and I could only envy them. 20150604_110345 In the end, she was contented with just the colouring activity. How interesting. I have always thought that she is an active child who loves running around and trying out new stuff. I would very much prefer that she likes the outdoors because her mom is one who adores being in the open. I am hoping that she would eventually develop a love for triathlon or marathon because these are sports which I was crazy about at one point in my life (now still am but I have to reserve them for later years). 20150604_125640

Just look how ‘stoned’ she was while trying out hockey. *Faint*

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I’m still trying to figure out what she is good at at this point in time. At the very least, I would try to expose her to all kinds of things, whether it be an indoor or outdoor activity. And definitely, I would allow her to follow her passion once she finds it.

Growing up, I did not have the opportunity to develop myself in other areas except in the academic domain. The only sports that my mother got me to learn is swimming because she believes that everyone must learn how to swim since we are surrounded by water. I soon got quite good at it and my coach even assured my mom that I would be able to achieve much if I continue to train. As a 7YO child, that was the highest compliment one could give me. Sadly, my mom decided that studies were more important than passion and stopped me from pursuing it. Isn’t it sad?

I hope I would not follow my mom’s footsteps. I don’t deny that academic education is important but if a child shows talents in other forms, we should allow him to shine in those areas too, no?

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That’s us supporting the waterskiiing and wakeboarding events.

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 I guess it is still too early to tell if she is a sporty kind of girl or one who loves to be indoors or both. We just need to give her the opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of activities and see if she is keen in any area.

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More importantly, it is our desire that she would pursue God first above all others. 😉

Thankful Tuesday

I’m writing with a thankful heart today.

F is well-settled in school and in the children’s programme in BSF. Each week, she looks forward to meeting her playmates whom she has grown up with since last year. I hope I have given her a joyful childhood and each day, as she utters more words and comprehends me more, my heart just overwhelmed with gladness and gratitude.

Motherhood is indeed rewarding.

Our co-op completed the theme on Chinese New Year last week and we are raring to go on the new theme on fruits and vegetables.

imageThe kids definitely had fun and I hope their friendship will continue into adulthood.

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These two, working on their big muscles. And recently, a few of us even attended a production for children together. What fun!

For me, I’m happy to have a group of mothers who show care and concern for one another. Because of their friendship and companion, I no longer feel alone in this journey and well, the thought of going back to work has kind of diminished. I have a better full-time job now.

Tuesday thoughts: Loneliness

Someone’s feeling lonely. It’s not me. I’ve gone past that stage, at least for now. It’s Faith.

In recent months, I have observed that the little girl loves company and would jump for joy when I told her that we would be meeting so-and-so. Even when we are going around the neighbourhood, she would greet the people she meets and tries to befriend new ones especially at the playground and library. She has grown out of the solitary play mode and increasingly loves to hang out with people.

Bad news for me, huh?

That means she gets bored at home more often because her mother doesn’t always have time to think of new activities to engage her. Thankfully, there are the weekly playdates and co-ops and the occasional swimming sessions with her cousins. However, these might not continue the following year since her playmates would be in preschool and there would be fewer opportunities to go out with them.

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So I did the unthinkable (in my case). I went to shop for schools for her.

I really didn’t want her to go to school until she turns 4 years old. She is, after all, still so young! She needs to play and enjoy her childhood. Besides, I don’t think we are doing an awful job in our homeschooling effort. However, since she is born in the popular year of the dragon, I thought that I should start looking for schools just in case there are no vacancies left by the time I decide to put her in school. I should at least put her on a waiting list or something, that’s what a lot of mummy friends were telling me to do.

In the end, I visited two schools. The first one was none too impressive although it seems like a well-known preschool. The moment the marketing executive (yes, not the principal!) told me that they emphasize on academic excellence, I lost complete interest. I want a preschool that focuses on building the children’s characters, where each child’s uniqueness is respected and that they can learn at their own pace. The second school fits my criterion to a tee. It’s not a well-known school and in fact, the preschool is rather young but as I spoke with the principal and visited the premise, I was won over.

That is the preschool for Faith. And on the spot, I decided that Faith would go to school the following year.

After leaving the compound, I started to have doubts and was uncertain if I have made the right decision. On one hand, I would want to continue what we have been doing. I can always find a new group of playmates for her and we can always go out and learn stuff together. On the other hand, getting her to go to school might do her good too since she can have more friends and learn from the wonderful teachers and principal in that school.

We shall see.

For now, the decision is for her to go to school.

So, yes, Faith is going to school. *sobs*

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[Reflections] The joy of teaching your baby, Part II

This is my reflections on part II of the seminar on Discovering the joy of teaching your baby. It is easier to stomach than Part I, I assure you, and much of what the speaker, Janet Doman, shared was rather logical and practical. She didn’t promote the institute’s programmes but brought the focus on the parents and what we can do to enhance the learning of our child(ren).

1. It’s all about joyousness

This is the underlying philosophy of all their programmes. They believe that all babies can learn anything and everything and we need to do so with joyousness, to have a good time with the babies and experience something great with them. Babies can sense if we enjoy being with them or if we are really present when we are with them.

Oh, this is something that I’m so guilty of not doing. There are so many instances that the little one wants my attention and desires that I play with her but I’m just caught up with other things to do. At times, even when I’m with her, I’m actually not. I definitely need to slow down and prioritize! I need to be present and have a good time with her!

2. Less is more

We are bombarded by many programmes out there which seem attractive and beneficial to the child’s learning but Janet’s advice is that we choose one programme that is irresistible to us, focus on doing it well and reap the rewards. Once we have done well with a particular programme, then can we try a new thing and start doing it modestly and build on it.

I admit I’m a bit stressed up as to what I should teach Faith because there are so many things that I want her to learn and she is at a stage when she is receiving and learning so fast. I recognise that I shouldn’t ‘touch-and-go’ but go deep into an area that we want her to learn and she is interested in. I need to take time off to reflect again. This will warrant another post.

3. Go faster

Kids like things that are fast and zippy and we adults do things that are generally too slow for them. I’m not sure if you have encountered this: When we are reading a story to Faith, many times she will flip the pages before we could finish reading that page. WE ARE TOO SLOW FOR HER. This is also what have been shared to us when we attended Pamela Lim‘s seminar on Reading. A child’s mind works incredibly fast during the first years and we are just too slow for them. Arghh! Btw, her seminar provides some interesting insights on a child’s beginning years and how reading is important. I certainly hope I have the time to pen down some thoughts.

A point to note is that we are often too slow to add new materials as children always want something new to learn (once they have a grasp of certain concept?). Don’t show the same thing over and over again to the child. This is DEADLY, so said Janet. Arghh! Mothers out there, let’s share resources! ;p

4. Be more sophisticated

With regard to books, we shouldn’t stay with simple books/words all the time. Children can progress to more sophisticated ones (words). Oh yes, I believe!

5. Find out what your child likes

This is rather commonsense but how often do we really take time to observe and find out about their interests. What’s worse is that we want them to learn something that we have planned for them but they are not interested in. What do you think will happen? Frustration! Oh, I have often encountered this when I try to get Faith to learn, say, colours. She is particularly slow and looks uninterested and often turns away when I teach her. This is her way of telling me that she doesn’t like it. As much as I want her to know the various colours, I know I can’t force her. It’s off to other things and when she is interested, she learns it really fast and that really amazes me.

So, I’ve learn to observe, observe, observe and cater to what she is interested in BUT at the same time, not giving up what I want her to learn (weave it into the things that she likes to learn). Heh. Alternatively, we can also ask our children what they want to learn/do and even at a young age, they will be able to tell/show you. We need to learn to communicate with these young ones because when they feel we understand them, their affinity for us will multiply and we will also encounter less tantrums! I find it so true!

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:: Some other points that I want to be reminded of:

– Kids want respect from us. They know they are loved (because we say that all the time) but they want respect from us too. They tell us that they want respect by showing us that they can do certain tasks. Again, look for signals from them. E.g. Young kids want to feed themselves but often we take over because of the mess they can create. We are undermining and not respecting them as a result.

– Kids need structure and they need a predictable life. They need to know what to do next. They learn rapidly when things are in consistency or when our words are consistent. Failing to do so and we will have them test boundaries.

Great things happen when you put kids with their parents.

Disclaimer: The hubs and I were invited to attend the recent Discovering the joy of teaching your baby seminar by Glenn Doman in Singapore. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.  

Bringing up Faith: The 2nd year

Raising children in a society like ours can be really stressful. I remember when Faith was in the womb, I was advised to register her in schools so that she could be on the waiting list. It’s the year of the dragon, mind you! Lots of babies! I soon forgot about this issue and did … nothing of that sort.

Now that she is at an age when she can be admitted into playgroups, the stress-level is on high again for me. Mothers whom I know, both acquaintances and friends, were placing their kids in schools and my FB page was filled with how happy or tearful the first day of school was. I look at Faith, “No playgroup for you okay?”

I’m penning my thoughts on this page because I need to remind myself of why we (both the hubs’ and I) decided against school for Faith at this current point in time. She’s still young. She’s supposed to play, to be curious about things around her and be given the time and opportunity to explore. And because I am a SAHM, I can do more with her both at home and in the outdoors.

At the Fisher-price workshops that I had attended, I was reminded of my own parenting goals (for these early years) – that Faith will grow up to be an independent child, know God and respect others. These are important to me. I’m not very concerned that she has to know her numerals or alphabets now. For goodness’ sake, she is barely two years old! These will come later, for sure, and I’m not really interested in flashing cards at her. I want her to be out in the open, to appreciate nature, to have a sense of wonder of the environment she is placed in and eventually know Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. I don’t like the idea of her being in school so soon, to be honest. Abhor the idea that she has to learn within the four walls. She has many years of that in time to come. For now, she is good learning at her own pace with me at home or during our regular playdates. More importantly, I want her to learn the values that our family believes in because once she is grounded in them, she can make sound decisions (hopefully) while she is growing up.

20140605_150001But I’m not always this resolute. During the June holidays, I signed up for a week of language enrichment for Faith. The one week of lessons centred around Dr Seuss’ stories and each lesson comprises storytelling, art and craft and singing. I had to attend each 2-hour lesson with Faith and I am thankful for that because I realised how Faith is not ready for such a structured lesson.

She listened to the stories all right but many times, she wanted to explore the new classroom she was in, to interact with her new friends. She got restless easily too but thankfully, the teacher understood that young kids have very short attention span and introduced many short physical activities in-between.

At the end of each lesson, I was tired. Tired from having to get her to sit down to listen and to perform the tasks that she was asked to. My throat ran dry from words of encouragement to her. In the end, I decided that such a class may not be suitable for her, for now.

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I have to be fair. She did enjoy her time playing with bubbles and surprised us with the word one fine day (we don’t use the word at all). Perhaps I have high expectations for the school and perhaps, this school does not have the right kind of curriculum for her. It’s after all, a one-size-fits-all programme for children ages 18 to 36 months. What do I expect?

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I have to remind myself to chill, that sometimes not doing much for her can be good. By that, I mean not crowding her daily life with activities. Boredom can be good for her because creativity can bloom in such situations. I also need to remind myself that it is not ‘how much more earlier’ that is the solution but it is ‘how different earlier’ that is the answer.

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I like what I’m doing with her now. We had moments when we learn at home but many times, we go out and have fun.We have our regular playdates and I remember vividly the enthusiasm that she displayed when we went on a excursion to the National Museum with her playmates, the sparkle in her eyes when she was playing with water at Jacob Ballas, the concentration she had when she was observing people in the park and the emotions she shared when she saw a crying child, just to name a few examples. Through all these, I got to understand Faith more and hopefully will realise what her talents are and help her thrive in them.

There are many moms who are homeschooling their kids and I particularly love those who advocate play as learning opportunities for young children. And the more I read about early childhood, the more excited I become.

These are three Internet resources that I like: 

1. http://lessonslearntjournal.com/

2. http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/

3. http://playfullearning.net/

And I love this excellent yet simple read about the Waldorf approach to early childhood education.

Here is an example of a day in the Waldorf kindergarten. For my  own reference in planning my own homeschooling activities for Faith.

The following are some notes that I have taken from the recent PlayIQ workshop organised by FisherPrice.
Some food-for-thought for me:

– “Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work.” ~ Fred Rogers

– “Children learn best when they have opportunities to have hands on experiences” ~Dr Jerlan Daniel

– Between the ages of 0 to 4, unstructured play is better than adult-led structured play. During the process, they would need to learn about boundaries and rules would need to be in place.

How toddlers play:

– Natural born explorers –> driven by intense curiosity
– Need safe, toddler proof environment
– Free time to investigate and experiment with toys and play items
– Get down on the floor!
– With others, solitary to parallel play
– Be enthusiastic and positive about your toddler’s curiosity and accomplishments (and minimise defeats)
– Play alongside you as you do chores –> provide life-like items for play
– Have conversations and encourage communication
– Learning through repetition (e.g. same story read over and over!)
– Read daily!

Ten parenting points to note

The hubs and I helped out at the parenting workshop conducted at our church as we wanted to learn more and are passionate about this topic. Our pastor sent us the following ’10 ways to raise well-behaved kids’ and I find them relevant. I’m sure the article is from some source (but I can’t find the link!)

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 13: 24

Both of us abide by the above and we absolutely do not want to raise spoilt brats. I don’t think any parents would want that to happen! But oh, it takes a lot of patience, hard work and determination to raise kids who are able to practice good behaviour. So here goes:

1. Model good behaviour. The best way to teach kids how to behave well is by showing them how to do it. Actions are more powerful than words. If they see you practice good behaviour yourself, then they are most likely to follow your example. So true! I see the little one imitating what I do and I have to be careful how I present myself in front of others.

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The LO giving thanks to God, together with Papa.

2. Communicate rules and expectations clearly. Kids do not know right from wrong. They need to be taught which actions are acceptable and which are not. Use words that they will understand and make sure that you are very specific. It is the responsibility of parents to help their children have a sense of with-it-ness by constantly giving them reminders so inappropriate behaviour can be prevented.

3. Reward good behaviour immediately. The best way to help children to behave well is to give them rewards whenever they do something good which can be in the form of words, gestures and gifts. Right timing is essential as children should be able to associate rewards with good behaviour. If you give the reward too late, they may not understand what it is for.

A simple pat in the back or “well done” is usually enough to tell children that they have done the right thing. We clap to show Faith that she has done something right and her smiles show us that she understands our gesture. We are not so keen to present her with gifts lest it becomes a bad habit and that she expects such form of reward for doing well.  I also tend to think that extrinsic rewards can be reduced when they are of a certain age.

4. Encourage them often. Children are inspired to practice good behaviour if they know that you believe in them. Constantly rooting for your children will help them to make better choices.

5. Train them early. Your kids are never too young to make good behavioural choices. Experts say that a child’s foundations

Sharing her toys with others.

Sharing her toys with others.

for character are established before the age of five. So it important that you do all you can when they are still in preschool to prepare them for the real world.

6. Be firm and consistent. Your children are smarter than you think they are. When you give in to what they want once, they will expect you to give in to them all the time. They are most likely to test your resolve when you are in a gathering. Do not waver just because there are many people around, stick to the rules. If they persist and throw a tantrum, deal with them privately.

7. Give them room to grow. Allow your children to make their own decisions as it is not healthy for you to always shadow them.  Let them make mistakes sometimes so they will learn to be more responsible for their actions.

8. Do not deal with your children when you are angry. It is unwise to correct them when emotions are running high as you might just say or do things that you will regret later. Allow yourself to cool off before you talk to them.

9. Provide a healthy and positive environment at home. Allow your children to grow according to their unique personalities and characteristics. Never compare them to other children as this can only cause them to experience undue pressure and stress. Not to mention that it can cause them to have low self-esteem.

Oh! I find this so true and is a constant reminder to me. Do you often find that you will inevitably compare your kid with others when parents come together? Every child is unique and they grow at their own pace. I honestly don’t like to do comparison and shun such conversation when parents come together. A little of these topics is fine for checks. Too much of it is really just dampening to the spirit. Stop comparing!

10. Love them unconditionally. Correct your children when they are wrong but love them regardless of how they behave. They have to understand that your love for them does not depend on their actions or performance.

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The LO, at 17 months

Motherhood Thoughts on a random Friday

A few things I’ve learnt after becoming a mother. In random order:

1. Gym membership is a waste of money. 

Ever thought of wanting to go back to the pre-pregnancy weight and thought you might need external help… like a gym membership? The idea is good but I soon realised that I don’t have the time to do so. It’s tough too having to think about childcare for the little one. By the time you send the kiddo to someone else’s place and then head straight to the gym, you are half-dead. How in the world would you have the energy to work out?

I have signed up for a half-year membership and I have only gone to say, maximum, 15 times. Man! Each visit costs so much in this sense. What a waste of my money.

And I reach my pre-pregnancy weight through doing household chores and running after Faith. Free of charge.

2. Massage/Spa package is totally worth it.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the above. Do you have a tired body? I have, constantly. Aching one? Yes, all the time. And I find rest in the hands of my masseuse. Period.

3. SAHM does not have a lot of time to go out with friends.

This could just be my own experience and I’m not speaking on behalf of any other SAHM. Each day of my life is packed, like looking after Faith (that is a 24/7 business), cooking for the family, cleaning the house and staying sane by baking. I do treasure my moments with da man as we find that we hardly spend quality time with each other. So, I’ve learnt to understand my mommy friends more and know that it can be difficult to ask them out. Actually, this does not just apply to SAHM. It applies to moms/parents in general. Somehow, I feel, it can be worse for FTWM. Just guessing…

4. The toys I bought for the kiddo may just be what I like and not what she prefers. 

You know what? Faith doesn’t really like the toys I bought for her. Like the cute pinkish bunny which I find so adorable? She doesn’t even like to hold for more than 1 minute, let alone cuddle. I keep trying to get her to be interested but she threw it aside when I handled the bunny to her. Poor bunny. My dear Faith prefers to play with the real stuff in the house, like laundry basket, my room slippers, cables, keys…

I think I just don’t know how to choose the appropriate toys for her. FAIL.

5. Put on makeup when you go out OR Take care of your skin before it’s too late. 

I don’t really like to put on makeup because I dislike the feeling of something on my skin. Our humid weather further discourages me from doing that. *Think perspiration and melting makeup*. However, I soon realise that with a lack of beauty sleep and hydration and sometimes poor nutrition, I can look terrible. The skin becomes dull, the dark eye rings and eye bags get worse and your lines (wrinkles) deepen. So, it’s the makeup to the rescue. Either that or it’s time to take special care of your skin. Ignore what the hubby says about ‘I still love you anyway’ because seriously, can you even accept this type of aging? It’s certainly not graceful!

IMG_7747Ok, gtg. Faith is fussing.

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