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 Birthday

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Sister-in-law's Wedding

On the second of Feb, Joshua's darling sister got married to the man whom she said is the only one who can give her that "so sweet" feeling! Congrats! Our family woke up at 5am so that we could get to my in-law's place in time for Joash to do his special duty: opening the car door for the groom.

All set!

Taking his job very seriously.


Let Daddy give you a hand...

Giving the oranges and receiving the red packet

Too early for the kids to be in the mood for smiling...

Couples kiss!

Lovely family shot

My first time being served tea

Giving the red packet blessings

SIL changed into her traditional wedding costume

After the morning's tea ceremony, we headed home to rest. I made all the kids take a nap so that they could last through the wedding dinner. After changing up, we took a cab to the hotel ballroom. The two hours wait for the dinner to start was extremely difficult for me cos I had to keep the kids occupied at a place where they were not really allowed to play freely. Even Jaide was eager to run around with her older siblings. Keeping them in line nearly drained me of my depleted energies! 

Thank God for sustaining me as Joash and Jayna still had an important role to play during the first march in. They were very excited during our rehearsals at home and before the guest arrived at the ballroom. They were raring to go and kept asking me why we had to wait so long to start! *faint*

After the official wedding ceremony

The only picture of all 3 of them.

Can I run around too?

While we waited...

Ready to be flower children!

Joash took this job seriously too...

... very seriously!

The last round of photo taking

When I asked Joash why he did not look up and smile, he told me that he was making sure the flower petals fell onto the right places. Wow, he sure is a perfectionist! Well, I'm just glad that the kids did a good job and did not embarrass my sis-in-law on her big day. Phew! Too bad Jaide was not old enough to join in the fun. LOL

By the time we slept, it was already 2 am. We were all utterly exhausted but happy to have lasted without any incident despite my pregnancy. Thanks be to God for His grace! May the Lord watch over and bless their beautiful marriage!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Journey with Jayna

Last Saturday, my best friend and her husband from Melbourne visited me. We had a wonderful time catching up and when she asked me about the children, my difficult times with Jayna inevitably came up. As I related to her my experience raising Jayna, I realised that God was there every step of the way. It was a deep spiritual journey for us parents and for herself. Our Lord had deemed it fit to place Jayna in our family for our mutual growth.

I feel that the whole process is worth remembering so that in the future, we can all look back on those milestones in our walk with God and continue to build upon the foundation that Christ has already put in place...

We had at first intended to take Joash out of childcare, which he started attending three months before Jayna was born, once the girl was more settled. However, she never so-called 'settled in'. Even though I was already an experienced mother and knew how to handle most baby needs, it was maddening when Jayna defied all logic. 

I could not figure out her rhythm at all as nothing could satisfy her for long; not milk, not play, not sleep, not burping, not entertainment and no amount of carrying was enough for her. It was still manageable in the first few months because she took long naps. But as her waking hours increased over time, I found myself unable to do anything without her in my arms or in the sling. I was mostly house-bound for the first year of her life as she was impossible to manage outside. I started sinking into depression as she drained me physically and emotionally till I started to break down. That was the year I put on a lot of weight due to the stress I experienced. Gradually, I found myself losing my temper and began screaming at her uncontrollably to stop crying after I'd done all I knew to do to help her. I hated myself for losing control but I was incapable of stopping.

Without her, I would have been a conceited mother who thought she had it all figured out. I would have shook my head at parents who lose their temper at their kids. But God had to use her to bring me to my knees in brokeness and desperate prayer. 

With Joash, I started spanking him for disobedience ever since he showed signs of wilfulness at 7 months old. I only needed to do so very sparingly as he has all along been a sensible boy and could listen and obey after other gentler methods of discipline. However, I dared not start using spanking as a form of discipline on Jayna as I was afraid that it would lead to child abuse given my lack of calm whenever I dealt with her. I had absolutely no confidence in myself and feared spanking her out of anger. As it was, screaming at her regularly had already done enough damage to our relationship.

When she was about 8 months old, God finally gave me a mental picture of what Jayna's problem was: she had a leaking love tank. No matter how much I try to fill her love tank in my care-giving, it will drain out very quickly. Instead of being born with a physical birth defect, she had an emotional handicap, a metaphorical hole in her heart. God reminded me that it was my job to relentlessly fill up her love tank but it was ultimately God Himself who would plug the hole at the bottom. 

With that revelation, I had a paradigm shift. I began learning to love her unconditionally and trusted in God to do His work. When I had no more love in me to give her, I drew strength from the Lord. Bit by bit, our relationship began to heal and I could see the fear and bewilderment in my daughter's eyes subside. I sought the advice of the children's Godma who has always been more emotionally driven than me to understand my girl better. By the time Jayna was a year old, I could talk about her to others without falling apart and bursting into tears. (HERE's my first blog post about my struggles with her.)

It was an ardous journey and despite wanting to have a third child, we did not want to risk getting pregnant till Jayna was of age to attend childcare. It was tough enough being pregnant with a wonderful boy like Joash. It would have been a disaster with the difficult-to-please Jayna. When the day finally came for her to attend school, we constantly received complaints regarding her tantrums and neediness. They were equally troubled by her insistence to be carried all the time. We were even advised to take her out of school when she did not "adjust" after a long time.

Thankfully, with all that interaction with the other children her age and the company of her doting brother in the same school, Jayna seemed to have realised that she was extremely different from other children. God must have instilled in her the sudden awareness that it was not a normal thing to cry all the time for no apparent reason. She observed the other kids following instructions and playing contentedly on their own and finally understood that she was the odd one out. The world simply did not revolve around her. It was then that we saw glimpses of improvement in her behaviour but she did not yet have the capacity to make real changes in herself. At the very least, the teachers eventually stopped calling us regarding her extreme behaviour.  I suppose they were also learning how to cope with her. (HERE's one of the glimpses of the potential change in Jayna.)

All this while, Joshua had never raised his voice at the children. He has always been the patient one. However, when I fell pregnant with Jaide, he had to manage the two kids by himself and for the first time, he understood what I went through with Jayna. It was not long before I started hearing my gentle, sweet bear of a husband yelling in his booming voice at my screaming girl. Joash was not spared since Joshua could not switch his demeanour between children the way I could. 

It was a sad and painful time for Joshua to also come to terms with the fact that he was not as patient as he thought he was. As traumatising as it was, my husband was humbled and began learning to cope and relate to our daughter in a radical way. I tried to share with him what I learnt but it did not make the process any easier for him.

After Jaide was born, I had the opportunity to homeschool the older two. That was when I saw the chance to start the real process of discipline. Since I was able to have bible study every weekday with them, it was much easier to anchor the discipline in the Word of God. By then, I was able to keep my temper in check when I dealt with her and I have had invested a lot of effort in filling up her love tank over the years so I felt ready to begin the scary process. I also noticed that no one who had spent time with her, be it relatives, friends or teachers, really liked her due to her problematic behaviour so it was high time we did something about it. 

It was incredibly tough the first few months. I had to steel myself to spanking her more than ten times a day due to her rebellious nature. The process was so tedious: I had to spend a lot of time diffusing her raging emotions through much affection, explaining to her using what we learnt from the bible when she finally calmed down, administering the discipline and then resolving the issue through reaffirmation of love, followed by prayer. Yet, a few moments later, I had to do it all over again when she threw another tantrum. I wanted to give up so many times that I lost count and I constantly needed to draw strength and confidence from God that I was doing it out of love for her. (HERE's a snapshot of my state of mind then.)

In the middle of the year, we went for a church camp. That was when God raised the bar. I had all along focused on merely helping Jayna to become more acceptable in her behaviour but the Lord reminded me that His plan for my girl was way beyond that. With her gift of emotions, Jayna has the potential to be a great agent of empathy. I must see her the way God sees her: a missionary for His Purposes. (HERE's the post about the camp)

People started noticing the change in her but the burst of growth did not happen till her acceptance of Christ into her life a month later. Jesus was no longer simply WITH her; He was already IN her heart and she had the available resources to keep her emotions in check. She flourished after that. (HERE's the evidence for that change in her.)

When I got pregnant with Joram, Joshua started slipping into the old way of handling Jayna back when I was pregnant with Jaide. The yelling started again. Alarmed, I had to help Joshua see that Jayna is no longer the same person from one and a half years ago. She has changed and that calls for a new way of relating to her as befitting a princess. It took some time but I thank God that Joshua has eventually learnt, too, to treat our redeemed daughter differently.

We truly celebrate every evidence of her spiritual and emotional growth and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to mold us and her into Christ-likeness. To God be the glory!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Strange Teeth

Okay, this is really strange. There are two new teeth sprouting from the upper gums and there are signifcant gaps between them and the lateral incisors. Yet, they do not feel at all like regular molars and neither do they resemble the typical cuspids. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see if this will eventually correct itself when the rest grow out or if it might be a potential problem to be solved by the dentist. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Times the Fun

Jaide: "Let's get going, Gor Gor!"

Remember a video of Joash and Jayna having fun running around the place when the girl just started walking? (Click HERE for the previous post.) Now, we have the joy of seeing Jaide join in the fun! Too bad I was not fast enough to capture a picture of all of them walking hand-in-hand. It was such a precious sight! Another time perhaps...

Someone passed us a second-hand bicycle and my father-in-law attached a child seat on it. It was not working very well but after having it fixed, we finally took it out for a spin with Jaide in it. Joash rode his strider and managed to be much faster than the Daddy! LOL He's a pro at it now and I think we can upgrade him to a regular two-wheeled bike soon. *beam*

Hello there!

The sisters are playing better together now that Jayna is gradually learning to be a good big sister and think beyond her own desires. Here are some instances of sweet sisterly love displayed. I do pray that Jayna will continue to learn from Joash how to be a sensible older sibling especially when there's going to be another younger one soon. :)

This is our cave.

We're in the same 'boat'.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Bags

Waiting for the taxi to come...

All this while, we've been carrying a humongous bag for everyone's stuff whenever we go out as a family. Usually, Joshua is the beast of burden or if we do bring along the trusty old Aprica pram, we'll hang it there. But now that we are going to have 4 kids soon, it has become almost unrealistic to carry so many things in one big bag. Perhaps we should start using a small suitcase? Hahaha... It'll be a sight to behold!

As the two older kids are used to carrying their own school bags ever since they were in Nursery One, we thought it'll be a piece of cake for them to carry a much lighter load when we're out. To make it even more comfortable, I bought light-weighted cloth bags for them, complete with an attached soft toy to hug during traveling and customised name badges. The only pity is that when I first bought the bags, they did not have the pink care bear version. The stock came in only a few days later. Sigh... Bad timing. Thankfully, Jayna is still pretty thrilled with the cat anyways.

Next year, when Jaide enters Nursery One, I would most likely start her off with the small yellow cloth bag which we already have at home. I wonder if the same type of bag will still be available in the future when we want to get them for the next two kiddos...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day Getaway

One thing about having children is that it becomes really difficult to have a leisurely and peaceful meal together as a couple. Joshua took the opportunity of Valentine's Day to apply leave to have a nice lunch with me at a memorable restaurant for us: Nandos. I suggested going to the one in The Star Vista as I had dined there before with the kids' Godma and found the food there better than those in other branches, i.e. the sauce more spicy and the chicken more tender.

It was wonderful for once to let Joshua eat their peri peri chicken piping hot since during the last few times when we ate at Nandos with the whole family, he started eating only after the kids were settled. By then, the chicken had turned cold. I loved the 'bottomless ice lemon tea' and had three refills!

There wasn't anything else we could do apart from enjoying a lovely meal and indulging ourselves in meaningful conversation due to my pregnant state. In fact, I tire so easily that after a mere 1.5 hours of walking around after lunch, I felt ready to zonk out. And, nope, no flowers this time. The last time Joshua got me a bouquet, the roses wilted before I had the time and the presence of mind to admire them! So I told my hubby: no fresh flowers till the kids are older. :P

Great food and even better company!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CNY 2013

This year, we had 2 reunion dinners cos my sis-in-law was going for her honeymoon on the eve of CNY. It just so happened that the children's school also requested for them to wear CNY clothes on Friday too. It was a good thing that I had traditional costumes in abundance since I had accumulated them over the years as the kids outgrow them pretty quickly.

This is my second time pregnant during CNY and I'm glad that I'm pretty functional this time round. With our CNY spanning over 5 days, I thank God that I could share much of the load with Joshua so that he would not be over-tired caring for the kids by himself for such an extended period of time.

Our CNY started with a dramatic story to tell. It was also the day we had a gynea appointment. Joshua and I got stuck in a cab for nearly half an hour after it stalled while driving through a flooded stretch of road!!! Thank God for a kind lady who offered to drive us to the next bus stop and for the cab driver who refused to accept our payment for the first part of the journey due to the inconvenience caused. The only unfortunate part was that Joshua's shoes were pretty much ruined as the flood water seeped into the cab on his side. Poor dear...

For the first reunion dinner, Joash and Jaide wore red while Jayna wore her blue cheongsum. She insisted on it even though it was too short for her. I compromised by making her wear a pair of black tights with it and the effect was surprisingly nice. We had a simple fare packed from the coffee shop and simply spent time within the family.

Sharing the keyboard before dinner

We went for the actual reunion dinner with the extended family at Calton Hotel. We girls were all in pink while the guys were in blue. The most hilarious thing was that Joshua forgot to help Jaide put on her shoes in the hurry to get out of the house and she ended up having to run around the hotel lobby in her socks! Blur blue Bear Bear!

Heh heh... Catch me if you can!

Gor Gor bringing 小妹 around

Auditioning to be comedians???

The extended family

All decked in red for the first day of CNY, we visited the house of God first for worship. After which, we headed down to my in-laws' place for visitation, followed by the home of the eldest in the extended family. This year, we taught the older kids to carry the mandarin oranges and greet the home-owners with new year blessings. I was so proud of them when they managed to do that pretty well! 

My father-in-law commented that we collected more "rent" than anyone else simply because we have 3 kids. Well... next year will be the ultimate: 4 red packets from each relative! :P

Don't they look alike?

Me and my sweetie pie


On the second day, we went back to my parents' place. We all wore normal pink clothes so there was no picture taken. My Godma commented on how well-trained the kids were, saying grace before food and eating at the table properly throughout. Frankly, I cannot imagine eating our meal any other way cos mealtimes are sacred in our family as it's a time for quality conversation among family members regarding our day.

Next, we visited a cousin's place and the kids had lots of fun playing with their toys. 

By then, Joshua and I were pretty exhausted with all that traveling so we contented ourselves with going to Jurong Point to buy Joshua's new work shoes (the old ones were ruined by the flood, remember?) and my new watch (the old one ran out of batteries).

Somehow, by the grace of God, we managed to survive it all intact. I'm praying for a less tiring time next year when I don't have to carry a huge 'watermelon' around with me everywhere I go! LOL I can also get to wear my cheongsums once again. Yay!