Countdown to Joash's 6th Birthday

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Countdown to Jayna's 5th Birthday

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Countdown to Jaide's Birthday

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Countdown to Joram's 4th Birthday

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Homework for Parents?

Being a parent to school-going kids these days gets increasingly challenging as the schools are expecting much more parental involvement in the assignments they give to the children. Apart from weekly show-and-tells which require parents to assist preschoolers in picking out the item to bring to school and practicing what to say with them, there is a variety of projects which we have to put in time and effort to complete with our little boys and girls. 

Festive seasons demand us parents to make ornaments to decorate the school. There are also activities which need us to cook or prepare food in advance. On occasions, we put together a montage on a certain theme for the child to share about in class. We sometimes even have to grow plants with them!

I understand that educators are trying to encourage working parents to spend time with their children but for homemakers, like me, who are already doing tons of things with the children, it is rather excessive. I can only hope that as the children grow more independent, the need for such time-consuming projects which require the parent to pitch in becomes far less. 

On a more serious note, I thank God that I possess the skills necessary to make these assignments a success. But what about other parents who can ill afford the time or have no idea how to help the child? Wouldn't the poor kid feel left out if he turns up for school with nothing to show? What's worse is this practice sets up certain expectations which some under-privilege families are unable to meet, such as traveling abroad, having internet access or being educated enough in certain technical know-how. I am simply not comfortable with schools highlighting such socio-economic differences on regular basis. 

Using fruit to make an animal
A montage about a trip overseas

Growing, harvesting and juicing wheatgrass

Monday, March 13, 2017

Farewell Milk Bottle

We can now finally say goodbye to the last milk bottle in the house. Despite being able to drink from a straw and eventually a cup, Joram had been unwilling to surrender his milk bottle. He always cried for it before he napped in the afternoon. 

We recently decided to drop the nap time because he was starting to find it difficult falling asleep at night  with too much sleep during the day and he seemed perfectly fine without it over the weekend when we went out and had no chance for him to snooze at all. 

Since he no longer needs the siesta, the milk bottle is not necessary anymore. And down the rubbish chute it went! Yay!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Last Toilet Training

My older three kids were toilet-trained by the time they were around 3 years old. So imagine my disappointment when Joram cried in fear every time I suggested for him to use the toilet despite turning four soon. I even bought a sticker book to entice him but he refused for the longest period. 

Thinking that he would be more willing with nice underwear like Jaide, I purchased ones with his favourite robots and vehicles. But nope. It didn't work. In the past, his sisters did not need the child toilet seat at all so I had long given away the one that his older brother used. To coax him further, I bought a new seat with pictures and colours which he like. He still refused to use the toilet. 

We can tell that it was an irrational fear which he had to overcome on his own because he had the ability to control his bowel movements for quite some time. There were occasions during bath time when he insisted on wearing his diapers while halfway showering because he felt urgent. He held it in and cried all the way till we finished the bath time and put on his diapers and clothes. He simply refused to go in the shower or in the toilet but preferred to do his business in the familiar comfort of the diaper. As with the older children, I decided to wait till he was ready.

Recently, his teachers also started encouraging him to use the urinal too. Because of that, he became more willing to try. I was delirious with excitement when he told me last week that he wanted to wear his underwear the moment he came home from school. He successfully went toilet to pee and so at the end of the day, I gave him his sticker book as his reward. But alas! He wanted his diapers back the very next day. I was devastated. Regression never happened with my older ones and so I was totally unprepared for this response. Thankfully, my CG mates assured me that it was normal and thus I continued to wait for his readiness. 

This morning, Joram finally said he wanted to wear his underwear again. He also managed to poop in the toilet bowl for the first time! I'm so glad that he has conquered his fear and reached this milestone. There might still be regressions or accidents from now on but I can definitely look forward to him being diaper-free during the day pretty soon. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Day in advance

Now you see it...
... now you don't!

Who says that you have to celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th of Feb? Places will be super crowded and it normally falls on a weekday which means it will be difficult to arrange childcare alternatives for our children. Once again, we engaged the help of my MIL, SIL and BIL to have an early celebration on a Saturday.

This year, we decided to rekindle one of our favourite pastimes as young adults: KTV. We really miss those days of karaoke-ing with our university friends. It has been difficult to enjoy this ever since we had kids. We tried once before to bring our kids together with us but we ended up letting the children sing songs they knew and liked most of the time. So today, we sang to our hearts' content by ourselves! Yay!!!

Family KTV time
2 years ago

Next, we indulged in a sweet treat at Baskin-Robbins. Between the two of us, we finished a 700g ice-cream cake in half an hour! LOL No need to share with 4 hungry children... We chose the one with the flavour "Chocolate Trilogy" because it had different tastes and textures mixed into one so it was not so cloying for us. 

What celebration for tired parents is complete without a good o' back massage? And that was precisely what we did afterwards. Then, as we passed by the florist, I spotted the elusive royal blue hydrangea, my favourite flowers! I could hardly find ones in the right shade on normal days. Needless to say, my dear Bear bear bought it for me without further ado. *swoon* What a lovely afternoon date with the love of my life!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ten Year Mark

I have been putting off blogging about my 10th wedding anniversary till today because the uploading of video, slideshow and pictures takes forever. However, it is a very significant milestone for me. So, taking the opportunity of my husband being on leave for the day and that I'm not dead-tired by the time I finished all the chores, I'm now at my computer writing the post.

Ten years ago, my husband and I were on a shoe-string budget for our wedding. All our decorations, hairdo, make-up, photography and videography were lovingly done by our talented friends who offered their expertise as love gifts to us. My husband's suit was a $99 off the rack outfit bought at a neighbourhood tailor shop. My gown was bought at $120 (Singapore dollars) from a third world country's bridal shop during the R&R day at the end of my mission trip. I can still remember my friends' shocked expressions when they asked me what I brought back as souvenir from the trip and I replied, "A wedding dress!"

Ten years later, we can, at long last, afford to have a full-package wedding shoot with cosplaying our favourite anime Sword Art Online thrown in as a bonus. My husband back then had promised me that we would do it for our 5th anniversary but our finances were still very unstable with a new kid every 2 years. Well, better late than never. Hee hee... I'm so thankful that my dear Bear Bear managed to fulfil this dream of ours.

10th Wedding Anniversary Photoshoot

Photos then and now
LEFT: 2007
RIGHT: 2017

I was looking at my glamour shoot photos from when I was 21 years old and I realised that I wore red too as I celebrated my coming of age. How nostalgic!

We did away with a wedding cake in the past, so during our anniversary celebration party this year, I fulfilled a second wish with a gorgeous three-tiered fondant cake which was decorated with my favourite blue roses.

Finally, we purchased Precious Moments figurines to represent each member of our entire family when my husband got the ball rolling by buying the wedding couple one first. This is a really frivolous desire and it makes me want to cry tears of joy that we can actually afford to do such a thing now, something I never dared imagine us to be able to do. It is so appropriate that the words at the bottom says, "You are my dream come true"!

All six of us represented!

All these would not have been possible without our God graciously leading us through the countless tough times for the past decade. Thus, I have made a video to count the blessings that the Lord has showered upon us. May we continue to use our gifts to love Him and serve others!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Greater Independence 2

Now, it is our no. 3's turn to graduate from being bathed by us parents in our bedroom toilet to brushing her teeth and showering on her own every evening! We've been training her to do so since last year and she is finally ready to take a step towards greater independence. With three kids down, there's only one more to go... (Read HERE for the post about the older two reaching the same milestone.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fighting Depression

The year of 2016 was unimaginably difficult. For most people who struggle with clinical depression, the journey is already tough and lonely beyond words can describe. For a mother with four children who utterly depend on her for everything without outside help, fighting depression is a whole new level of crazy. 

Many people with this ailment can't even get out of bed on bad days and they have to miss work often. However, that has never been an option for me. I have no choice but to drag myself up to meet the needs of my children no matter what kind of hell I was going through. Children are not concerned about the suffering of their caregiver, just that they are not getting what they want. I couldn't even cut myself some slack regarding my chores and routine even if it killed me. 

"Where is our tea break, mummy?" 
"When are you ever going to play with us?" 
"You keep forgetting to sign my homework!" 
"I want mummy to do this for me! NOW!" 

Those were the only things said to me most of the time while I was in the throes of psychological anguish. I would have committed suicide a thousand times if not for the loving grace of God.

I researched madly on how to combat the mental illness and started making lifestyle changes. I became much more intentional in putting on Christian music and worshipping the Lord while doing chores or when I get terribly troubled. Counselling in church and therapy sessions at the hospital helped during critical periods. I bought an exercise machine which I tried my best to use if my children allowed me any time at all to do so. I started to drink fruit juices everyday. I avoided junk food like the plague and took supplements. I made sure I down at least 2 litres of water everyday. I began to monitor my weight because significant changes might alter my body chemistry. I removed my emotional triggers. 

Unfortunately, my no. 3 kid was one major trigger for me and so off she went to my mother-in-law's place to live for a month, giving me time to recuperate. Alas, some friends of mine were more worried about the emotional scars she'll probably have and that she'd grow up to be a delinquent because she might feel abandoned by me. They told me scary stories about the damage the poor child would experience and it would be too late to fix it afterwards. My question was: What about my sanity? Am I far less important than my child? Is sending me on a guilt trip while I was struggling with ending my life a necessary thing to do?

The stigma of depression is still very much ingrained in our society. When I post happy things on Facebook, there are so many likes and comments. But when I reveal my difficulties, only a handful of kind souls responded. Some more poignant posts were even left ignored completely. 

Depression is by itself an extremely lonely sickness. For a homemaker like me, it was far more so. Precious few people, if anyone at all, bothered to visit me during my down times for the past one year. That is so extremely sad especially since adult company was what I needed most. My husband, being the sole breadwinner of the family, could not afford to be with me during working hours and he had to help out with the kids when he was home to give me my much needed break. Who could I talk to except God? 

I am simply so grateful that God had gradually pulled me out of the darkness. I am far more fortunate than most fellow sufferers because at least I have a supportive, understanding husband and a deeply-rooted relationship with my Lord to ground me in. If not, I would have jumped down from my balcony window before the eyes of my four immature, inherently selfish children. The only thing that stopped from doing that was: What would God say?

It is ugly to talk about depression. There is no sugar-coating it if we are to be honest. If you have anyone you know who is suffering from it, please take a look at my following suggestions:

Don't try to give advice
Not everything can be fixed. The sufferer is far more desperate to be healed that anyone else. Chances are, the advice you want to give has already been explored or given by someone else. It is simply gruesomely tedious to keep answering the same questions again and again.

Give the gift of company
There is no lonelier path than to fight with demons by oneself. Visit them, bring them out of the house and talk about common hobbies. Share about life experiences that is beyond the depressed person's circle, which is very likely an extremely small one due to the nature of the illness. Sometimes, it is very helpful to just break the cyclical pattern of negative inner thoughts. If he/she doesn't want to talk, just be there. Your presence may very well be a life-saver, literally. 

Don't take it personally
You can't expect a depression sufferer to NOT talk negatively. What the person says is not to spite or hurt you but just an expression of the broken inner world that he/she is experiencing. There is no need to correct every wrong thing spoken unless the person is an imbecile who knows not right from wrong. Just lend a patient listening ear. After the poison has been released, there is then room for the good stuff. 

There is no time frame for healing
As with most debilitating illnesses, there is no such thing as the person must get better after a certain amount of time has passed. It can be better managed and he/she can resume functionality but any number of emotional triggers can sent the person toward the downward spiral back to square one. As a loved one, you can only be accepting of the condition and refrain from judging. Someone wrote before that a depressed person should be given a medal for every time he/she gets out of bed in the morning! 

Not everyone suffering from depression is the same
As much as many symptoms and coping methods are similar across the board, depression can be as varied as autism or ADHD. There is a broad spectrum and each personality responds differently and have different circumstances. Treat the patient with respect. Ask what you can do to help instead of insisting on "helping" the way you think is best. You might just push the person closer to the edge. Mental illness is far more tricky than physical illness.