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, October 29, 2015

Lazy Susan

Mealtimes have always been rather nerve-wrecking experiences with 4 children to play waitress to. Being small in size and thus having short arms, the kids always need an adult's help to get to the food that is not placed right in front of them. That makes me too busy to enjoy my own food.

Also, I usually serve the food in the crockery which I cook them in and they are very often made of breakable materials. My heart leaps into my mouth whenever I see the kids push or pull the bowls clumsily towards where they want it to be. Suffice to say, there were many near accidents.

Since we were moving to a new place, I decided to make some changes so as to reduce the trepidation I have to face each meal with. 

The first thing I did was to get a turntable. This is so that the kids can conveniently reach ALL the food with a spin of the Lazy Susan. Next, I bought a set of plastic bowls so that I don't have to constantly worry over the kids breaking the crockery and hurting themselves. I also replaced the serving spoons with tongs which are much easier for little fingers to use. To aid that, I cut the food up into bite-size pieces.

I didn't realise at the beginning but this arrangement reduces the number of times we have to leave our seat to get something done for the kids during the course of the meal too! We can ask them to put their bowls onto the turntable so that we can move it within our reach to do whatever they need us to do, e.g. cutting up the food into even smaller pieces, and return the bowls to them the same way. 

Now, it is mostly just Joram (and occasionally Jaide too) who needs our help. But since they are seated on the left and right of the adult, helping them is a breeze as compared to the past. 

Getting food for himself
with ease

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Home Sweet Home

At the door...

When my friends heard that I was going to pack all our things in one day and move plus unpack everything in the new place the next day, most thought that I was overly ambitious. There was a reason for my decision. Two of my children suffer from eczema and all the kids are already battling respiratory problems due to the recent haze. I didn’t want their physical condition to deteriorate even further with the dust and dirt that inevitably come with all the packing. I have heard of many such cases from my close friends so I really wanted to avoid it as much as possible.

Thanks to two of my friends who took a pair of kids each during those twin days of intense hard labor and chaos, Joshua and I managed to accomplish the incredible feat, unhindered by the need to take care of little children or keep them out of trouble. Praise the Lord!

One of the major decisions to make in this house-moving project was to choose a contractor. We had wanted an acquaintance to do the job but my father-in-law recommended someone else. After much prayer and deliberation, we decided to go with the one who had my father-in-law’s stamp of approval since he will be staying with us in the future. It would have been a very sad thing if problems with the renovations crop up and it becomes a source of conflict between my father-in-law and us if we were to disregard his opinion. 

His recommendation was indeed wise. Jason, from the Swiss Interior Pte Ltd, had been extremely prompt in his response to my queries and is obviously very experienced. After all, he was in this line of work since his teens. He bent over backwards to fulfil my requests with a spirit of excellence. He and his team of workers truly helped to make my vision of the new home become a reality. I am very grateful for his warm and jovial personality while we collaborated on this potentially stressful endeavour. In fact, we had become friends over the past few months. 

When the time comes for my in-laws to move in with us, we will let them have the master bedroom with the attached toilet and we'll take over the playroom. All the children's shelves will be moved out to line the walls outside the bedrooms and the kids can play in the living room instead.

Now that the journey is over. I can only thank the Lord for hand-holding me the entire way. May our new place be used to glorify His name in every way!

The Master Bedroom

The Children's Bedroom

The Bicycle Shed

The Balcony

The Dining Room

 The Kitchen

The Laundry Area

The Storeroom

 The Playroom

The Toilets

The Living Room

The Photo Wall

Monday, October 5, 2015

Self-feeding... Finally!

Grouchy, very grouchy...

My older three kids learnt how to drink from a straw cup and self-feed at around one and a half years old. However, Joram refused to do so despite having the motor skills at two and a half years of age. Since he is the baby of the family, I could afford to let him take his time. For months, I've been coaxing him gently to try his hand at drinking from a straw cup or eat from the bowl by himself without any success. Yet, I was still willing to feed him food and water spoon by spoon every meal.

Some time ago, we managed to "force" him to wear his own shoes by having the entire family wait for him at the door, refusing to help him. It was a long wait and there was a lot of crying from our boy but when he realised that he did not have a choice, he did it by himself eventually. That was when I figured that his high 'S' personality causes him to prefer to stay within his comfort zone till he is backed into a corner. 

As I prayed over the the past 2 months, I decided that I might have to also take the hard approach with regards to self-feeding. This is especially so since he will turn 3 next year and enter nursery. I don't think the teachers will have the patience to spoon-feed him food and water during lunchtime! My CG sisters rallied behind me in prayer too as I entered into a battle of wills today with my youngest son. 

At breakfast, I placed a Mag Mag straw cup, a sippy cup, a narrow-mouth water bottle and a regular cup on the table for him to choose which to drink from. He screamed and cried for 2 hours, and kept asking me to feed him the water using the spoon as I'd always done so. I simply reiterated that he is already a big boy now and is definitely able to drink water by himself. 

I was feeling very disheartened when the Holy Spirit prompted me to remember his introvert and shy nature. I thought that he might be upset with all the attention he was getting. Thus, I dismissed his sisters to their room to play and went into my bedroom, leaving Joram alone in the dining room with the 4 choices. 15 min later, I went out to find him drinking from the Mag Mag cup, the one which is the most familiar to him! (The older three used this very cup when they first learnt to drink on their own.) Hallelujah! 

Happy boy now!

At lunch, Joram resisted self-feeding again. I tried persuading him by praising him for his earlier achievements but he was still upset. Yet again, the Holy Spirit inspired me to take out photos of the older three children when they first started self feeding. I told him I would like to take some photos of him eating by himself too. Amazingly, he actually obliged after that, all the while asking me to take more pictures of him while he ate! The rest is history. He could even use a fork to eat apples during tea break. Thank God for answering our prayers! 

Catch him in action!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Journey of Moving House

Reno progress as of last weekend

Two years ago, due to the ailing health of my in-laws, we contemplated moving in with them to provide care and support since theirs is a 5-room flat, definitely bigger than our small 3-room flat. However, my father-in-law was reluctant to renovate their place and we didn't feel safe living at 16th floor with 4 little ones without window grilles! So, that idea was rejected. 

Next, we considered BTO (Built-to-order). After one failed attempt, we got a slot this year. But because we were one of the last in the queue, the good flats were all taken up. Plus, the location was very far from ideal. 

As the day to choose our flat approached, we felt no peace about the decision. So when Joshua suddenly came up with the idea of buying a bigger resale flat instead, I went to ask a property agent friend whether there was any available flats for sale at the block in our neighbourhood which Joshua and I thought to be at the best location. We were amazed that there was one! All these years, we had been thinking that it would have been nice if someone were selling their place at THAT particular block when we were looking for our marital home 8 years ago. 

Emboldened by the miraculous coincidence, we asked our in-laws' opinions and to our surprise, they were agreeable! All the requirements that my father-in-law had at that time were met despite the odds. God must have been the one orchestrating the whole thing. From the time we made the decision of buying a resale flat to the moment when we confirmed with the seller the price and got a buyer for our own flat was a mere 11 days!!! 

At one point, I had almost given up hope when the seller wanted to raise the price. The incredible thing was that the buyer of our flat actually increased the price he was willing to pay by the same amount too... We were simply bowled over by the dramatic turn of events.

It was all the more difficult for this to happen since we needed to do contra: to sell our place and buy the new place at the SAME time. The buyer also had to agree to let us stay an extra month after the paperwork is done so that we can renovate our new place and move before handing the keys over to him. The amazing thing is, he agreed to let us do so rent-free! Praise God!

Ever since then, I was met with many disappointments. Some of the items I had wanted to get for the new place were out of stock. But it was amazing how God turned it into a good thing because in the end, I found cheaper and better options for each and every one of them. Getting a loan was also an adventure in itself. It was a truly faith-stretching experience. 

There were many other challenges that I had to face.

As an introvert, it has been very draining for me to suddenly meet and interact with so many strangers: agents, sellers and buyers of flats, vendors, retailers, contractors etc. God had to be my emotional strength to restore me after each and every encounter. The worse was to liaise with people when selling or giving away furniture and other items we don't need anymore. So many questions to answer repeatedly. So many people who backed out over time and I had to find new owners for the affected pieces. *shake head*

There were also many occasions when I made decisions which were vetoed by God as he gently steered me in the right direction through the advice of good friends and arising circumstances. It was a lesson in submission and obedience to God's wisdom as opposed to listening to my own personal preferences.

With an already full and hectic schedule of caring for 4 children, doing household chores and cooking, I was hard pressed to find time to also research for good furnishings, get multiple quotations to find the cheapest options, put my in-laws' opinions into careful consideration, declutter our place little bit by little bit, liaise with contractors/movers, budget the whole project and coordinate everything with regards to fitting 8 individuals into a single house almost entirely on my own. I can only say that God is my only and true sustainer in all that crazy, heavy workload.

Not just that. I knew that having so much to do, I might be tempted to make this whole house-moving process an idol and neglect my obligations to my family and church ministry. However, God has been faithful to keep me focused. Life for my children had gone on as per normal. I could still devote the same attention to their physical, emotional and academic needs. In fact, I have kept this whole thing a secret from them. They still have yet to know that we are moving house in two weeks' time!!! I made sure to do all the extra work during their school and sleeping hours so as to minimise any interruption to the regular routine. I look forward to announcing to them the news during the last week of our stay in the current home. Then, I can bring them over to the mostly-renovated new place as a beautiful surprise. 

All in all, I can see God's hand in the entire journey and I have learnt that He is indeed the master planner and is truly in control of everything. All I had to do was to trust in His sovereign plan and rest in Him. Now that there are only 16 days to the actual move, I am incredibly excited. I shall soon see how God brings to fruition all that effort and time that I have put in for the past 5 months. I pray that this new home will be a blessing to my in-laws and many others I welcome in hospitality.

Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."