Saturday, November 26, 2016

In my time, Mummy

Kids grow up so fast they say. (It doesn't feel that way when they misbehave or they wake you up in the middle of the night.. somehow you wish they grow up faster) But when all is calm and when you start to think back through the years, somehow, they are right. 

Isaac's graduation class photo
Even though Isaac is only six… but within that time, he's gone from crawling to running, babbling to reading and just last week, he's graduated from his kindergarten. (Yay to cheaper school fees but OMG to he's going Primary School???

I remembered just March last year, I actually broke down halfway through dinner with D as I felt Isaac was struggling with his learning. (In case you missed the posting, you can read it again here:

I was worried that he will not be able to cope in school, that he might be left behind and that he won't be able to succeed in future. (Though at that time I didn't have a benchmark or an idea as to what success would mean for a kid…) BUT because he could not remember  what was taught 5 seconds ago, or he could not recognize his alphabets then, I freaked out. It didn't help in my paranoia that at that time other kids around his age were doing much better and some friends suggested that he might need medical intervention. 
I remembered feeling helpless and just breaking down in front of D thinking that just because Isaac might not succeed, I had failed. (Mothers can be so hard on themselves)
I mean, besides smiling and charming people around him, he couldn't read and didn't talk much, besides knowing how many robots there are in transformers, he  didn't have any number sense and could not do simple addition. In short, even as a mother, I saw what he couldn't do more than celebrated what he could do. 

And while people with good intentions will tell you that exams are overrated and there's more to life than school exams, no one would be able to feel the anxiety more than the parents. (Because hello, most professionals come from the same few leading schools) At some point, I got frustrated with myself. On one hand, I really wanted them to enjoy their childhood, but on the other hand, I can't help but compare with their peers on where they stand. I found I was struggling because I didn't know what I actually valued in parenting. 

At least in Singapore, the hallmarks of the child's life are punctuated with the different exam points in their school life. The highlight for a 10 year old is the streaming exams, for a 12 year old the PSLE, the 14 year old the selection process of subjects for O levels, the 16 year old the O levels, the 18 year old the A levels etc. And so, for parents somehow, we use this benchmark to decide how we have also fared in parenthood. If the kids achieve good results, it would indirectly translate that we have done well in our parenting styles, at least in the eyes of many others.
But I personally have never been really successful in the education system. I mean, sure I didn't fall through the cracks of the system, but I didn't achieve top scores. Not many people know this but I actually got D7 for my GP in my AO levels. SO yes… I didn't have a full A levels certificate and if you did get it, you are already one up above me.

Image from
But only when we take a step back, we also know that exams results don't guarantee health, happiness and love. I remembered a few months ago, Isaac read out a bible passage on the screen and I was pleasantly surprised. Even if the words weren't difficult, I cheered because he could read. There were times when he surprised me too with his logic. Like recently, while D was driving, he asked D if he could drive faster. "How much faster?" D asked. Isaac took a look at the speedometer and said "220km/hr." D laughed and explained that's not possible. "Of course it's possible papa, if not why would they put it there?" Isaac innocently asked. 
Moments when he looked out for his younger siblings or when he so willingly give up his things for them warms my heart more than what he got for his spelling tests.

I asked D what he thought success was and he told me that the moment when he can do something without worrying what other people thought of him would be the time when he is successful. (Wherever does he get his wisdom from???) I agree.
I still find myself struggling and on that account, Isaac has done way better than me. Of course he loves to be praised and complimented, but even if it looks silly, he is far more courageous to try it than me, or my 'smarter' kids.

Such things may not be recognized in a school test, but he will be fine in life. And I should learn to be too. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

All in the Name of Love

What is done in love, is done well. - Vincent Van Gogh

So I was at a wedding recently where a couple chose to write their own vows. The groom, feeling up to it, promised the bride the following:
-To wake up earlier than usual everyday to make breakfast for the bride
-To pack and clean the room everyday
-To do all the night feeds and diaper changing when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night
-To give her absolute freedom
-To give her whatever he earns

After hearing the first promise, I told my friend if D was here, he would have said "siao" (which means crazy in hokkien) and I was right.
When he finished, I turned to my friend and said that if he were my son, I would not be smiling. He laughed and told me I have aged. 

When I was younger, I remembered calling my parents up during school hours just because I am thinking of them and to tell them I love them. I don't know what changed, but I don't seem to (be able) to do it now. (Hmm… actually, I don't remember when I last said I love you to D… )

Even as a mother, I still struggle with expressing my emotions and being affectionate towards my kids, especially when they are growing older now. Even holding hands with my kids is more of a practical basis (like not losing them) rather than a 'motherly' reason of wanting them to be close to you (which is probably the same as not losing them I suppose..)

I'm not proud of the fact that I'm 'cold'. In fact, I do envy my friends who have a close relationship with their kids and parents. But strangely enough, I do get uncomfortable trying otherwise and it makes me somehow 'socially awkward'. After some tries, I end up going back to my usual comfortable 'cold' self. 

Truth be told, I don't have a great …good... much of a relationship with my in laws. I mean they are nice (and I honestly think I am quite nice too), but apparently nice people don't necessarily have great relationships.
Our relationship is more cordial than friendly and given a choice, I don't think I would do anything on my end to actively try to have a relationship with them. (Especially when I'm not an affectionate person.. this becomes much harder) 
Unfortunately, I have learnt that many times this puts D in a very uncomfortable position, especially during the moments when he has stood by me and supported my stand on certain issues. (Let's just say the conversations they have will not be pleasant

I have often wondered how is it ever possible that Love can always be patient, kind, not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs? But the decision to love does help. I may not necessarily love my in laws, but I love D and loving him makes me want to do something for him with his family. 

We didn't enter the marriage blind to what problems our families might bring. Naively, we thought they would go away or get better. The in-laws issue never went away from day one… and truth of the matter is, it might never will. While we do argue about it, we are not going to throw our marriage away for it. 

Frankly, such decisions are never made with such conviction. Somehow, everything seems to be magnified when D's the hardest to love. But fortunately, at those times, praying for grace helps… not immediately, but we get by easier. 

So just like the groom who made those promises on his wedding day and got everyone doubt and laugh at his decision to love, he will only be the fool if he gives up trying.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Marriage - A Testimony of God's Love

7 July was our ninth year anniversary. Beginning of the week, D told me that he had taken leave that evening so that we could go out for a nice dinner. All this would be a fairy tale if not for the fact that we actually argued on 5th July.

A bouquet for the
D tried to make peace on the eve of our anniversary and gave me a bouquet of roses that night, but I was still upset and was hardly amused or touched by his surprise. That night, we both went to bed with the void in our hearts.

Friends and family wished us on our anniversary, we politely thanked them but truth is, we weren't at peace. We didn't talk to each other neither did we try. I was just too upset that he couldn't understand my plight when dealing with his parents and every time I saw him, I was reminded of the hurt. (So yes, the cold war has started)

A part of me was longing the intimacy and closeness we were enjoying before this, yet I refused forgiveness because I felt his efforts in understanding me and seeing my point of view weren't enough. We were due to present in Engaged Encounter a week from now, and were obviously not in the best position to share with couples about a God-centred marriage. Until one message from D made me realize, that he was also hurt in the process.

I was hurt, but that didn't give me the right to hurt him as well. Even before the kids and in-laws, I willingly chose to spend my life with him and he with me. We made a commitment 9 years back and through these years, the greatest struggle I had staying married wasn't money, parenting differences or even the in-laws (Surprise, surprise!). It was being willing to put his needs above mine. Those few days when I allowed myself to think about my needs and myself, I felt neither happiness nor peace. I was alone and worse, I was miserable. We still struggle and are clumsy with each other's feelings especially when other people are involved, and honestly, have not resolved these struggles.
So, yes, possibly tomorrow, the same thing could happen again and the whole cycle can repeat. But at least, we are given one more day to try again.

I see on social media that many seem to think that the greatest threat to marriage is society's definition of marriage and family nowadays. But it is not. The greatest threat to my marriage is… me. 

We can choose to continue to make the marriage a testimony of God's love to man or make it threaten other people's ideas of marriage and cause them to give up hope for love.
Everyday continues to present us temptations for the latter, but God has given us MORE than enough to make sure it doesn't. But it can only happen if we allow that to. :)

And to the man I chose 9 years ago, I love you… more than I did 9 years ago. It will be less than tomorrow though. And after all these years, I do… with all my heart. :)

Image from

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peter the Rock

Today is my first born's birthday. It's been 8 years since we embarked on this journey of parenthood. Nothing what school has taught or prepared us for, but just what we remembered from growing up with our parents.

Special birthday blessing
from Fr. Arro
Surely being parents to four kids we would have tons of advice and experiences to share. But truth of the matter is, while we might cope better with a kid than we did 8 years ago, we still continue to struggle. I always tell others that it's not that we know what to expect even with four kids, but our expectations are just lowered. In the past, I remember we would sign Audrey to classes like gym and Julia Gabriel Chinese classes, and with no 2,3, and 4, we were like "don't be silly". Now we are just glad that they could eat, sleep, breathe and poo. (Told you our expectations dropped)

Truth be told, I have no idea how we managed to survive the past 8 years with 4 kids and come out alive (I mean them not us). Throughout this time, I had moments when I had been careless with my words and actions. No they were not abused, but I know their spirits had been crushed as well. Like how I would raise my voice at Audrey when we were going through her work because she doesn't get the concept or worse forgotten about it. Fortunately, kids are equipped with forgiveness, and soon, other moments of tenderness replace that moment of doubt. 

I have had moments when I had to look out for the younger child and miss out on the growing up of the older or more independent ones which soon became a habit and after awhile they grow up so fast and they don't need me anymore or maybe prefer the helper or daddy or grandma to me. 

I have had moments of being frustrated of not knowing what to do with a tantrum throwing kid (which usually happens when you are rushing for time). If the day is good, I would let them continue to wail and make a fool out of themselves until they get tired and know that there's no way things will change. But on a bad day, I was either left with smacking the child or leaving the house and let them cry until they get tired. 

Oh! Not forgeting the moments when I got caught up and stressed by the other kids' progression compared with mine and realizing they are slower than their peers, which in turn makes me worried and stressed and suddenly I become so paranoid with their education and that makes me the not-so-fun parent.

Honestly, just because I had listed them down doesn't mean I have overcome them. With everyday I still struggle with my decisions and my parenting choices. Even with four kids, I go through the same battles as those with one… worse. I may have failed 4 times over and maybe I will never learn for some things. (That sucks)

But through these 8 years, I draw comfort from Peter. When Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, it was not because he was as solid as a rock then. He was possibly one who was really quite a "failure". (I mean, he was the only one who asked to walk on water and yet when he was given the chance he got scared and fumbled. And he was so confident that even when Jesus who obviously knew what was going to happen said that he was going to deny him three times, he said otherwise) But God saw what we don't see. He saw the future value of Peter and not his current shortcomings. 

Being a mother of four, I have to admit, I don't have all the answers and even if I do, those answers may not be perfect or right. The only consolation I have is, Christ is always here. And it's probably the best consolation I need. :) 

Image from

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When Chocolates Become a Lesson on Money

We got an email from Audrey's school yesterday telling us that her form teacher would be leaving and another teacher would be taking over the class.

On the way out for dinner, we discussed with Audrey how it would be nice to give her teacher a small present to wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Audrey agreed and thought she should get chocolates.

And who doesn't like Lindt? 
After dinner, we went to the chocolate section in the supermarket and she zoomed in to something that she thought was nice and would make a great gift. (See the picture on the right)

We agreed that it was and told her that since it was her teacher, we would be loaning her the amount and she could repay us everyday from her pocket money. Audrey was stunned. She immediately went back to check the price of the chocolates and put it back on the shelf. 

She then went through the whole chocolate section only this time she looked not just at the packaging but at the price as well. D and I smiled at each other. He of course quipped that at least she didn't pick up the $1.20 ones… but truth be told she saw a kit-kat at $0.70 and wanted to get it for the teacher which I of course told her she could get it only if she appreciates her teacher that much.. Fortunately, she put that back as well.

So here's the second choice. 

It's not too bad, but we told her, the price should not be the only factor when deciding on a gift. We got her to imagine herself as a recipient and to choose something that she actually enjoys and she would like the other person to enjoy that too. (To be fair, Audrey hasn't really eaten Dairy Milk chocolates before… I'm not sure why…

She put the chocolates back and went on looking for something she was okay with the price and something she knows she would like. (All this happen of course with the two younger boys running around the supermarket going crazy and asking us if their sister could buy them chocolates… *rolls eyes*)

Finally, she decided on something she liked and even gave some thought as to why she thought her teacher might like it.
Not too bad right????
There were three flavors - Cookies and cream, Milk chocolate with almonds and Milk chocolate. We asked her which we should get for her teacher, and she chose the plain milk chocolate since there is "more chocolate and who doesn't like more chocolate". 

In case you thought that this decision process is completed, it hasn't. She said she needed a card to give as well. We gave her two choices. One was to buy a card from the bookshop which would be another $4 or so or she could go home and make a nice one for the teacher. Without thinking, she said she will go back and make it. (D and I laughed at her decision)

On the way home, we discussed with how much would she be paying D everyday for the loan. Her pocket money is $2/day, of which $0.20 is put in her savings and another $0.20 is set aside for church offerings on Sundays, so which means she is left with $1.60. We worked on $0.40, $0.80 and $1.00. But D was a little concern if we got her to return $1/day she would not have enough to spend in school.  So we told her not to push it and choose something she was okay to part with. (Of course the boys overheard and told her to pay mummy and not daddy… HAHAHA. I am also not sure why?!?)

After doing her card and packing her bag, she agreed that she would pay $0.40 a day and worked out a repayment schedule with me. 

So every morning, when daddy fetches her to school, she will give him $0.40 and it was her responsibility to give it and not to be asked, which she agreed.

That night, we knew she must have felt the pinch when she actually had to pay for something from her own pocket and we reminded her that before she so decides to ask her grandparents for something she fancies in future to think if it was really necessary. 

After the kids had gone to bed at night, I began to reflect if I had actually taught my kids on the concept of money. Both D and I have never really involved them in our financial decisions to be honest. Something simple like when we host a dinner or even plan a holiday, the kids do not sit with us to discuss why we had paid a certain amount on our choices. Yet, these decisions, as simple and natural as we think, are never common to kids, which just means those decisions that were 5 seconds long in the past may become 5 minutes in future… but if that would make them more aware about money, that's a good investment isn't it? :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mixed Seafood Noodles Recipe

Don't worry this is not going to turn into a food blog. But I just came across this recipe, tried it, modified it and LOVED it. SO if you are like me, trying to figure what to cook for your family at times, why not consider this?
Tada!! Seafood Noodles!!!
This is the end result. And here's the ingredients. (Okies, I'm not a professional chef so my estimation is just as estimation. You could always modify it :))

Ingredients (Quantity up to you):
1) Prawns (Frozen or fresh)
2) Crispy Pork 
3) Sotong
4) Quail Eggs (Do small sunny side ups with this!)
5) 1 packet of Pasta (I used linguine but you may choose to any type of noodles!!)
(Pan fry the prawns, pork and sotong and set aside)

1) 200g of Palm Sugar
2) Water 200ml
3) Oyster Sauce 50ml
4) Maggi Liquid Seasoning 100ml 
5) Hoisin Sauce (1 tablespoon)
6) Kecap Manis (2 tablespoon)
7) Apple Cider Vinegar (1 tablespoon)
Looking really yummy!!

Boil the water in a pot and throw in the palm sugar. When it is all melted, throw in the rest of the remaining sauces. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. (You may want to add some more sugar if you find it too saltish)

In a heated wok, pour in 6 ladles of the mixed sauce and throw in the pasta and all the other cooked ingredients. Fry and mix it until all the sauce has been soaked in the sauce! (You may add more sauce along the way if you want!)

You may sprinkle spring onions and add some cooked shallots! 
My family loved it (and that's close to 10 people!)… let me know if yours do too! :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Seafood Hor Fun Recipe

A wise man once told me if you can read, you can cook.
I went through many Hor Fun recipes online and finally managed to modify a few to come up with mine. (Tada!!!)
Singapore Seafood Hor Fun (Fried Kway Teow with gravy) made from home

1) 400g of Kway Teow (It's usually one packet which normally feeds 2)
A cheaper option
for you to try
2) Prawns, cleaned and veined (Quantity up to you)
3) 400g sotong, cleaned and sliced (Again if you want more, please feel free)
4) 250g of pork, thinly sliced (You may want to use chicken or beef is fine)
5) 1 packet of Cai Xin (Cut into three parts. If you want more, so be it)
6) 1 clove of garlic, minced
(Do note that there are other sauces required for the individual portions which I have bold in the text below)

For the Pork
1) Marinade the pork with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, a dash of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cornflour for 10 minutes
2) Stir fry the pork and set aside

For the Kway Teow
1) Mix in 2 tablespoons of Kicap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce) and 2 teaspoons of dark sauce into the noodles and put aside
2) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok on high.
3) Throw in your Kway Teow and stir fry for a couple minutes
4) Dish out the noodles and set aside

Using the same wok, put in the garlic and fry till fragrant. Throw in the vegetables, prawns and sotong and stir fry till cooked. Dish out the ingredients while leaving the 'juice' from the seafood and vegetables in the wok.

Here's what it should
look like
Add in 4 cups of chicken stock (about 1litre) into the wok. (You may either use the packet chicken stock or mix a cube of chicken stock into water).
When it is boiling, lower the heat and add 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a dash of white pepper. (If you are worried it will be too "salty", add in one tablespoon of oyster sauce first, otherwise, season according to your taste)
Mix 2 tablespoon of cornflour into 2 tablespoons of water and pour it in to thicken the mixture. (You may add more to your desired consistency)
Turn off the fire.
Lightly beat two eggs and pour into the mixture and stir.

Plate the Hor Fun into a dish with the rest of the ingredients and pour the gravy over.

This recipe is definitely a keeper! So far the people who tried it, have given their nod of approval. :P
If you have tried it, let me know how it turned out for you! :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Our Drama-mama Family Holiday

Unless you are on our Facebook accounts, you may not know that we had just finished our family trip. It was after all the March holidays and D and I thought that it was nice to organize a trip to somewhere nearby with some friends.
We planned where to stay to accommodate all 6 of us, what to do each day (will blog about that next), how to get around (I got a driver to bring us around), what snacks to bring and even got 2 different haversacks for D and I to lug all their stuff rather than the usual baby bag. (I personally prefer that as my shoulder would normally be aching after slinging the bag for too long)
But since I was never into the minute details, the trip would still have hiccups…

Hiccup 1: Isaac's passport was expired
The first hiccup that happened was well… the reason why I can never be working in the army to check if a parachute is alright to use.
Isaac's passport had expired for close to 6 months and we only found that out on the way to the airport. With an expired passport, there was no way the immigrations would let us through. We checked with the immigration staff at the airport and to be fair, they did tell us that because we were Singaporeans they could allow us through but they were not sure if the Thai authorities would do the same. Our next best hope was to go to ICA to get a temporary passport.
As if that was not the only hurdle, all flights to BKK were fully booked with the exception of the business class flight at 4pm. Our flight was at 1pm and when we managed to figure what to do, it was close to 12pm.
We did consider leaving Isaac in Singapore but seeing how disappointed he was, we thought that that was not going to be an option. And so, D took Isaac with him to ICA while I had to check in with the rest of the troop… Julian was being a pain as he wanted to be with the boys (which was not an option). He was wailing and just being difficult. The scolding and spanking just made matters worse. Finally, I gave up, I told him I needed his help since daddy needed to bring Isaac to get his passport done if not they won't be able to join us. In short, he was the only "guy" in the group and he had to take care of the girls. Seeing how upset Julian was, Audrey took on the role of the big sister and consoled him with the fact that D and Isaac would definitely meet us there.
Julian finished his meal
and mine… by himself!
Julian was miraculously armed with a sense of responsibility. He helped look out for Kyra and even fed himself on the plane.
Within 3 hours, we were at BKK. God was very kind to me. For half of the trip, he made Julian fall into a deep sleep, and he only woke up during meal times. When we reached Julian was rearing to go… his sense of responsibility had started to wear off and his horns were appearing on his head. Fortunately, I had some friends with us who could help us with the luggage.

Back in Singapore, D had gotten Isaac's temporary passport (it was $75 in case you are wondering) within 2 hours and had rushed back to the airport to get another flight to Bangkok. He tried all the different carriers but his only option was the 4pm business flight. By then, the whole ticketing team had known of our plight. The ground crew was kind and had waived all other charges but that would still set us back $1800 for the both of them. His other option was to wait till 3.15pm to see if there was any empty seats. The only problem was gates were closed at 3.20pm. At 3pm he was waiting for a sign but obviously there wasn't any so he was ready to pay the $1800 for the ONLY flight to BKK. The lady at the counter did one last check and lo and behold, she managed to get two seats for them at economy class. D was ready to pay for the seats but out of good will, SIA waived it off completely… and so off they went to the gates.

By 8pm, we were together again. My friend who heard of the drama asked if all was good that night. We were together as a family sleeping in the same room… what else could be worse?

Hiccup 2: We lost Julian
Yes, you read correctly, we lost Julian in Siam paragon. It was the third day of the trip. We had planned to go to Kidzania to let the kids enjoy themselves. They were looking forward to playing doctor and firemen and the adults were just looking forward to chill. We were traveling with 2 other families and amongst us, we had 8 children. I was busy nursing Kyra and happily assumed that Julian was with D. It was only when we were paying for the entrance tickets (that was at least a good 15 minutes) that I realized Julian was missing. I quickly checked with D where Julian was. He had no idea. The adults in the group suddenly realized we had a huge problem.
The other two mothers looked after the other kids while D ran down each floor to see if he had wandered off on his own. I was pleading the staff at Kidzania to allow me to go into the premise in case Julian had sneaked in, but they won't. I had tears rolling down my eyes. Fear and regret sank in. I was lost and I could only hope that my boy is fine. All I could think about was he must be crying and screaming for us...
After 5 minutes, D called. He had found Julian. He was at the first floor with the security. He did not go into the lift with us. When Julian saw daddy, he immediately burst out crying. D carried him back. D and I both apologized to Julian for losing him.
D heard that I had cried, and after the kids had settled, gave me a kiss and told me everything was going to be okay…

After hiccup 2, every single other incident that happened became a non-issue.
Prior to this trip, we had taken many things for granted.
We had known ICA to be efficient and that's a gift, not a right.
We had known SIA to be one of the best carriers and that was coupled with compassion, not just profit driven.
And through it all, we cannot help but recognize that God's grace has been always there with us and while I know we have always been blessed, I cannot be more grateful for the second chances He gives.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Parenthood Resolutions for 2016

I had lunch with some girlfriends yesterday. Within the group, there were 2 pregnant ladies (In case you are wondering… it's not me) and 2 who were engaged. So naturally the topics we talked about mainly revolved around motherhood and marriage.

It was surreal talking to them because we are all the same age but I had the most number of kids (okay… but it's really quite hard to find someone who has the same number of kids at my age) and was married the longest. So suddenly, I was like the grandmaster in the group (My brief moment of pride :P)

That night, after putting the kids to bed, I sat and wondered what I would do differently since it was the start of the new year and before the year pass me by again, I thought, I shouldn't just let the regret build up.

1. Assure the second youngest child in the family
The kids don't sleep on their own unless the grandparents stay over. So usually, the older two sleeps with the dad while the younger two sleep with me. (Isn't it amazing that even when we don't sleep on the same bed, we still managed to have 4 kids??)
Julz holding on to my hand
during TV time...
There was a period when after Kyra was out, Julian was "forced" to learn to be independent and do what the older two do. I have to admit there was a period where he did have some insecurities and was feeling threatened by no. 4. But because I was so caught up with the newborn, I overlooked it. Just recently, I started my habit again of being beside him  just before he sleeps at night. I would just pump out my milk, pass it to the helper who will handle Kyra while I spend that few minutes with him, kissing him and talking to him for a short while before he sleeps.
On hindsight, I realized ever since I started doing that, he's been less disruptive and demanding. Just because he is a big brother to kyra, I often forget he is still only 4. Maybe it's because he's starting to act his age. Or maybe because we went back to quality time with him. Whatever it is, if spending 15 minutes a day at night would give me the chance to remind him I love him as much still, I will grab it.

2. Letting kids play with the simple things
Thanks to the move, I am forced to pack and unpack many things. It's unbelievable how just within a year, we can accumulate so many things. Amongst them… toys. Because they are the only grandchildren for both, when one gets a toy all get a toy too. (The problem is they are not sharing a toy) So for example, I have 3 lion heads because of Chinese New Year, X number of trucks, Y number of balls and the list goes on. Somehow, when we went forth to multiply, the toys also did too. (And no… we are not the ones who have been indulging them)
To be fair, they don't just love playing with play dough and lego, they really just love playing. For example, our sofa cushions contain feathers. Through the years, due to wear and tear, we get some feathers poking through the fabric and escaping. One day, both Isaac and Julian just took a loose feather each, threw it up and tried to catch it. It later progressed to them letting it go in front of the fan and catching it before it touches the ground. (I have to say that took some skill)
They spent quite some time entertaining themselves with it until it was time to bathe. I was proud that they discovered that game and was prouder to see them modifying the game. It could jolly well be a plastic bag, a tissue, cardboard box or even erasers. The amount of laughter and fun they got from it was no less than the toy they were given. The difference is one teaches them to find opportunities in ordinary things, the other just feeds their immediate impulse.

3. Take more photos
I may have a camera function in my phone, but I am really bad in taking photos of the kids. I always reckon that it really takes a lot of effort going after each kid and taking photos of all 4 kids. But I do recognize that, these growing up moments are best captured and framed in pictures. So I decided that since I do a lousy job taking pictures, I should let the kids do it for me. Hence, I probably go visit cash convertors and get three second hand cameras for the kids. D and I are planning to go Bangkok for a family trip this March (God bless us). And the kids will be allowed to take photos of the sights that excite them. We probably talk about their pictures before they sleep and save it into an album. (I just hope that they practice the value of responsibility and look after the cameras) But it may be fun… so why not? :)

4. Be more aware of my emotions when disciplining the kids
Compared to D, I am more short-fused. Unfortunately for the kids, I am also the disciplinarian. It took me 8 years and 4 kids (and age) to mellow down. Now when I am feeling frustrated with the kids, I'd always wondered how I look from the kids' perspective, or what emotions I might have manifested from the way they look and respond to me. I do worry and wonder if all they see D and I as the fun parent and the angry one.
Image from
Just a few days ago, I asked Audrey whether she had any homework from school. In both times I asked, she said no. I left it alone and went ahead to do the packing of the house. My mother-in-law came and within minutes of checking, she found out that Audrey had some work to be done. I gave Audrey the death scare. I was angry at her for lying. She knew grandma was there and immediately went to her for refuge and cried. That made it worse. It didn't help that grandma was trying to come up with an excuse for her. I stood my ground, scolded her and told her to go up to my room with me. When she was finally up, she stopped crying. (What a great actress she is) I admitted to her that because of what she did, I was very upset with her then and she should quietly do her work while I cool down before I thought I could talk to her calmly. Within minutes, I felt better and was able to help her in her work. In between, she even shared about that day's school's performance. After her work is done, I had a word with her on being responsible with her work. She acknowledged she could do better and we ended the session with a hug and a kiss.

It is tough to be a poker player when it comes to your kids. But if they aren't a good enough reason to be a better person, then what is?

5. Carry them more
I've stopped carrying my first two because they are just way tooooo heavy for me. But with Kyra and Julian, I am glad that I still have the chance of lugging my koalas around. Very soon, they too with grow big and I won't be able to carry them anymore… But before that time comes, I too should really hold and hug them more in my arms.

6. Have more faith
The gospel last Sunday was about the wedding at Cana. In case, you aren't too sure what the reading is about, there was a wedding which Jesus and his mother attended. Unfortunately, the host ran out of wine and this was brought to Jesus' attention. He told the servants to then fill the jars with water. And when the servants took the water from the jars, it became wine. Better than the original wine which was served.
I'm not sure if anyone ever wondered what will happen to the servants if they had served water to the guests. The truth is, whatever they did, they acted because they had faith in Christ. (even if they didn't know he was christ, I mean that was his first miracle after all!)
It's reminders like these that I am ashamed at myself for not believing that regardless what situation, I have enough grace to go through it.

I have made my choice to work on these. I'm not sure if I will be able to succeed but at least working on it is a start. What about you? :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Growing as a Parent

Heaven is a place called home.. (image from
Every time when I meet with friends, they are all amazed that I am surviving with four kids. I don't regret having them and I always tell my friends that until you have them, you will truly understand the immense joy they bring. Truth be told, even with four kids, I still get tested, feel helpless, and yes, motherhood makes me feel lousy at times.

Just a couple of months back, while playing with each other, Audrey kicked Julian in the balls. Julian's privates swelled up a great deal and he was crying and screaming. I spent the next few hours bringing him around the clinics to make sure all is good. (As a general rule, apparently as long as it isn't painful when you press and peeing isn't a problem, it should be okay)

I took Audrey and Julian out from school the next day and wanted them spend some time together and hopefully maybe talk to them about being nicer to each other. I planned for Slappy Pancakes that morning and thought the kids would have enjoyed themselves making breakfast together.
However, I should have known, there's no such thing as "go as planned" with kids. Before we could leave the house, the two argued because one didn't share a piece of paper with the other.

Throughout the whole journey there, I had to spend the time discussing with them about their actions. While Audrey was okay, it didn't sit well with Julian. When we got out of the car, Julian was throwing a tantrum. He was screaming and shouting and didn't want to join us at the table. He wanted us to leave. Fortunately, that day I was given enough grace to be cool about it and sat at the table with Audrey ordering our ingredients. Julian was still sulking at the corner and once in a while, he would be shouting things like "I don't like mummy anymore", or "Mummy is stupid" (Honestly, if he was not my kid, I would have smacked him upside down) Through it all, I would invite him still to come and join us when he is ready, however he still chose not to. (I should be given sainthood for this)
Sitting and sulking in a corner...

And because there was no reaction from me, at one point, Julian took out his slippers and threw at me. We had a table beside us, and the little girl told her mummy, "mummy, he actually threw his slippers at them" Honestly, if I was there alone with him, I would have left the restaurant half way and we would have been on the way home. However, I saw my first born enjoying herself and I felt it was not fair to deprive her of such joy because of him and chose to focus on her and pretended to enjoy myself.
Deep down I was dreading each minute. I felt embarrassed and thought in the eyes of the others, I must have been the world's greatest failure. I would have cried but I knew I couldn't.

After awhile, Julian finally either got hungry or got tired and asked me to go to the corner to bring him to the table. (Finally, God took pity on me) When I started to talk to him about his behavior, he clamped up and refused to listen to me. Finally, I admitted to him that I was feeling hurt by his actions. With that, it suddenly sounded foreign to him and he seemed to realize something.
Pancakes have never
tasted so sweet..

My mother's instinct told me that what was said was enough and we just continued making the pancakes. I thought that the initial lesson of teaching them to be more loving towards each other isn't going to happen today especially when we just ended a trying session. I left the table to get some water and when I returned I was amazed that my daughter was feeding Julian pancakes. They were laughing and they just enjoyed the moment. And for that moment, they were loving.

On hindsight, if I had acted on my emotions and left the restaurant, I would probably have robbed them this chance of enjoying each other's company. In fact, a little part of me was proud that I didn't react to the situation but responded putting my daughter's needs above mine.

If sadness was created for humans to appreciate and understand what joy is, then trials in parenthood are invented for one to appreciate the immense joys it brings. Everyday has its own set of lessons waiting for us to grow as a family… all I know is, I only fail when I stop trying. And if you love your kids, you are ready for the challenge. :) Share with me what lessons you learn from parenthood!!! Otherwise… if you are reading this… You will be fine! :D