All posts by finallymama

Take courage

This Mother’s Day, I want to encourage all caregivers that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Behind those happy moments we post on social media, are the hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears, the tiredness, guilt, disappointment, anxiety, bitterness and hurt. But let’s take courage, and know that we are not alone.  Take the time (not just today, but it’s a start!) to anchor our faith deep in God. The Holy Spirit will fuel us up — let’s not run on fumes!

Slow down, take time
Breathe in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep Your promise to me
That I will rise in Your victory!

Lyrics from Take Courage. Published by Bethel Music, written by Kristen DiMarco, Jeremy Riddle and Joel Taylor.

Praying over Psalm 139 as our new journey begins

It’s been almost four years since my last entry, but I’m blogging (a little) again because today, hubby and I committed our intent to adopt a baby!  “For this child, I have prayed and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

We certainly didn’t know it but God has prepared us for this child — through the years of losses, us maturing as parents, and the unique circumstances which led to this adoption opportunity. When we received the call from the social worker, we knew that there was no answer but “YES” even though we are agreeing to accept this child before s/he is actually born, without knowing what the gender is or what state the baby will be in. We walk by faith, and not by sight!

LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of the baby’s body and knit him together in his mother’s womb. Thank you for making him so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. You watched him as he was being formed in utter seclusion, as he was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw him before he was born. Every day of his life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Search us and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends you, and lead us along the path of everlasting life.”

Adapted from Psalms‬ ‭139:1-6, 13-16, 23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even loss is a new beginning

And so concludes our journey of Trying To Conceive for #2. There was so much I’d hoped to share and dared to dream for the past eight years.  Alas, another natural birth was just not meant to be.

2018 ended with three consecutive failed Frozen Embryo Transfers.  No more two week wait, rounds of egg collections and blood tests, four times daily self-injections on the go, letters from the doctor explaining to airport immigration why this cooler bag I’m carrying around is full of medicine and needles…

Momentos from my IVF days

2016 started with my third (confirmed) miscarriage. The last time, I didn’t tell a soul at the first positive test.  After confirming positive every week for three weeks over the holidays, the dreaded spotting came.  We never made it to the end of the first trimester.

I didn’t expect to feel so anguished at all these losses given my history of secondary infertility.  I thought I was mentally prepared but while my body once again reset, readjusted and stopped sending out “phantom” symptoms, my emotions were in a state of turmoil:

Frustration that this keeps happening to me despite loving kids, wanting a bigger family, and being ready and able to support them.

Guilt that I wanted more after having our (first) son, and the added attention needed with him after he was diagnosed with mild ADHD.

Anger at the specialist for not looking further into why I’ve had recurring pregnancy loss when we approached him years ago.

Resentment that time is not on my side….

After the grief dulled, and I could even broach the subject of babies again with the hubby, we decided to stop trying for our own.  Thankfully life was full between work and caregiving for the older folk as well as being more intentional with our rather hyper kiddo.

For years, we focused on adding a child to our family but from 2018 on, we had a series of divine encounters with adoptive friends and their stories. I hadn’t even known that several pastors in our church had also adopted children as well! After discussing, reading, praying and reflecting on whether fostering and adoption is for us, we completed the mandatory MSF interviews and workshops, and received a favourable Home Study Report in late 2019.

God renewed our hearts and minds throughout this process.  It dawned on us — with all that we have been blessed with, “why not provide a child with a family instead?” So we are now embarking on a new journey.

Create in me a clean, clean heart

Create in me a work of art

Create in me a miracle

Something real, something beautiful

You’re not finished with me yet

You’re not finished with me yet

By Your power I can change, I can change

‘Cause You’re not finished with me yet

– Psalm 103 (adapted) 

Travelling without kids

I’ve been travelling a lot for work this year, with a particularly intense past few months.  The person most interested in my trips is B, who peppers me with questions – besides just “When are you coming back, mama?!” So I decided to transform my work trips to mini-lessons in geography and history.  It’s become such a regular occurrence that B looks forward to these “special projects” with mom on free weekends when I’m home!

We started by reviewing the continents and oceans, and have been covering regions, e.g. North America, Southeast Asia and South Asia depending on where mummy travels to.

We’ve been working through a lovely colouring book country by country, supplementing the maps with library books and internet searches to make it more interesting and interactive.  I too learnt something new as we saw highlights of the India-Pakistan cricket matches, the tough life of elephants in Thailand, the history of junk boats in Vietnam, and so on.

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I also try to get souvenirs for folks back home and sometimes the best things are free too!  For example, B loves activity books at this age, and luckily many hotels have good fun ones they’re usually happy to pass to “your little one waiting back home.”

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B has always loved working with his hands and solving puzzles, so activities like these 3D puzzles or LEGO blocks are also a hit.  It amazes me how he’s able to sit down, and painstakingly put these together (with help as needed) – some times for 1 hour or more!  Now that B reads decently well, he also enjoys discovering information on his own, and likes to cite (sometimes random) facts about popular places and people.

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Did you know?  The Taj Mahal is a World Heritage Site in the city of Agra in north India, built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died at the age of 39. “That’s too young,” says B!

So if you’re travelling, and wish you could but can’t bring your kids along, try these.  They’ll feel involved, learn about the world, and can perhaps view your trips in a positive way by looking forward to these moments. We know it’s hard to be apart – so check out the video for a little something to cheer you up 🙂

For more, follow Finallymama on Instagram.

How many ways can you play-doh?

Which kid doesn’t love science?  It satisfies their natural curiosity, especially at the age when they don’t stop asking “why” and also devour anything they can read (or be read to). It’s also – simply put, pretty darn cool.  Lately, B has gotten rather obsessed with space.  He’s watched the Magic School Bus Lost In Space episode at least 20 times – I caught him at it again with Netflix on my iPad early this morning when I woke up!  He creates LEGO rockets and launches them on a journey through the planets.  He loves to show the Solar Walk 2 app on our Apple TV to anyone who visits our home. He talks about being an astronaut when he grows up, staying on the ISS (after we read about the historic year in space), travelling to Pluto which he insists IS a planet, a “dwarf planet.”  He’s also been asking to go to a planetarium – but as the observatory at the Science Center isn’t terribly kid-friendly or that exciting (sorry), I told him we’ll try to visit California or Houston one day.

This weekend, we decided to use PLAY-DOH to build a model of the solar system. B was fully engaged for 1.5 hours, even pausing to check out facts on my iPhone like where’s the asteroid belt, which planets have rings, what’s the right comparative size and colour!

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PLAY-DOH has been a staple at our home – and we continue to find creative ways to use it. When B was younger, we’d set tubs out during play dates as it usually kept the toddlers occupied for a while, plus, it’s not that messy and super easy to clean up. When B struggled to write and draw well, his teachers recommended PLAY-DOH to strengthen his fine motor skills in a fun way.  These days, we take it out to support creative play at home with some fun hands-on experiments and imaginative story telling on a range of topics like natural disasters, dinosaurs, and geography.

On that note, if you’re looking for something to do with the kids over the school break, check out PLAY-DOH’s 60th Anniversary Celebration from June 6-12 (12-9p daily) at Waterway Point, Village Square Level 1 (West Wing). There’ll be a variety of birthday activities including the attempt to enter the Singapore Book of Records with the largest cupcake tower, workshops, story telling and photo ops with mascots by Da Little Arts School, among other fringe activities. On top of that, the first 1000 to contribute their cupcake creations will also receive a free Hasbro goodie bag.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Instagram.

Learning to swim, learning to love

Last month, B swam a few proper strokes with his face down and holding his breath in the water. No big deal, right?  Yet something this trivial was a breakthrough after years of stops and starts.

B loved water since young, and I was so inspired by this book, I tried to follow it but failed miserably. Our swim time together was constantly interrupted with my string of early miscarriages, full time work, frequent travel, and lack of “substitutes” – aka the grandparents who also faced several health setbacks.  That led to a 1.5 year hiatus where B lost water confidence and regressed to saying “I can’t swim,” “don’t want to wet my face” and “too scared.” At parties, B’s friends would dive in pools and take big water slides, and he’d feel left out… So this year, we decided to try again. I intentionally planned more water play, bath tub or pool time together, and hubby signed them both up for Saturday morning class, which proved great 1-on-1 time to bond too.  There were happy tears when he passed his latest Duckie level last month, and is transitioning to learn freestyle and breaststroke – swimming on his own!

B’s journey to learn to swim made me think about my journey to learn to love in our marriage. As we celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary today, I’m reminded how tough marriage is when you bring two imperfect people together in an imperfect world. We start highly motivated with great intentions and textbook ambitions but life’s ups and downs get in the way. We tend to compare with others, only to feel shortchanged or discouraged. We lose faith and confidence, think and eventually say negative things. We’re tempted to quit after all the pit stops and detours as the effort seems too time consuming, emotionally draining, isolating – and too often, not worth it.

But the breakthrough comes when we presevere. Be it a challenging milestone or moments in marriage, don’t give up for it’s never too late to turn things around.

Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

A family that runs together….

Last year, B took part in his first race at the Cold Storage Kids Run 2015. It was quite an experience for both of us – especially as mama didn’t realize the race was actually 800m till the day of!

This year, we’re excited to be part of the  Cold Storage Kids Run again – this time, with a special appearance by grandpa – 公公 – who is gamely joining in the 3Gen Family Fun Run (also 800m). After all, a family that runs together, stays healthier and happier together too 🙂 Come run with us at the Meadows @ Gardens By The Bay on Sunday, May 22, 2016!  On top of that, get a special discount for early bird sign ups with this code: WEMISSYOU16

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Three gen musketeers

About the run

Singapore’s Cold Storage Kids Run is Asia’s first kids focused run. Back for its 9th consecutive year, the event theme for 2016 is “Eat Healthy. Get Active”, promoting a healthy lifestyle and family bonding through exercise and a healthy diet. Early bird rates are now available up till 23 March followed by the normal registration period from 24 March to 3 April. This year also features the 3Gen Family Fun Run (which we’ll be participating in), Fancy Dress Family Fun Run, and two child celebrity ambassadors – football protégé Iryan Fandi and running enthusiast Abbie Rose Humphreys. Avid footballer and 10-year-old Iryan is the youngest son of illustrious local football legend Fandi Ahmad while 7-year-old Abbie Rose is the daughter of popular local columnist and author, Neil Humphreys. Visit http://www.kidsrun.com.sg for more info.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook or on Instagram.

Conversations at four

Four years old.  These precious moments with B remind me how he’s growing up. Though mama has less time for him, he finds every opportunity to catch up together, to the point of “moving in” at night and talking a LOT about his “day” (which could mix a few days up) when he didn’t use to before 🙂

B got off his chair and ran over when he saw me return from work:
B: Mama! Hug 20 times! (We totally did). Missed you, mama
M: I missed you too, B.  Mama’s not feeling too well unfortunately….
B: Wait, I get you something (Runs off, returns with the thermometer). Here, let’s check
M: Thanks B, so thoughtful. Pray that mama recovers over the weekend, OK?
B: OK. I pray that the germs go away. Mama gets well soon and we can play.

After dinner, we make time for music (violin, sometimes piano), read (alternating between Chinese and English), then wind down for bed. Just when I’m snuggling down in my room, B comes inside, bearing another book, his pillow, blankie, soft toys…
B: Mama, see I brought all my things over. I’m sleeping with you tonight!
M: You know, B, you’ve been sleeping on your own since you were one. Don’t you like your own room?  Where’s daddy going to sleep?
B: I like my room but I want to sleep together mama. Maybe until I’m 20 years old (!) (Heads out to find daddy).
B: Daddy, you sleep in my room, ok?  I’ll leave the door open for you

At the end, he talks about “his day” while we lie in bed in the dark:
B: The other day at school, N and I came early. We ate something and then biked around. N told me I was going the wrong way. But I was right, he was wrong, and we banged each other.
M: Oh no! Did any of you get hurt?
B: No. Wait, maybe. N fell off a bit and cried.
M: Was he OK? Did you say sorry?
B: Maybe.
M: Maybe?
B: Well, I said sorry when we banged. And then he stopped crying and asked me to say sorry again, but I didn’t because I alrady said sorry. Then we played some more.
M: Hmm… It’s good you apologized. Please be careful the next time! (Note to self: Check with N’s mom and teachers). How was lunch?
B: Good. We had pasta. With chicken rice.
M: Pasta and chicken rice? Are you sure?
B: Errm we had pasta, peas, carrots, corn.  I like corn. Also, some chicken. I ate all my food.
M: That’s good! Did you eat fast like we’ve been talking about?
B: I ate faster than J! I said “Hurry up, eat faster!” But J doesn’t like corn. So he ate slowly.
M: Besides J, who ate with you?
B: (Tells me who sat exactly where and in which table)
…..
B: Mama, mama! I’m still talking. Are you listening?
M: I’m listening, but I’m quite tired too.  Talk more tomorrow, B? Love you, good night.
B: Love you. Good night, mama.  (Starts humming while I fall asleep)

Joy. Peace. Hope. Love.

My annual leave starts this week. I look forward to disconnect (as much as I can!) from the day-to-day hecticness, and reconnect with who and what matters the most to me.

“LOVE makes our friends a little dearer, 
JOY makes our hearts a little lighter, 
FAITH makes our path a little clearer, 
HOPE makes our lives a little brighter, 
PEACE brings us all a little nearer.”  

JOY: While passing through US airport immigration last week, I flashed a smile to the duty officer, relieved to be done with my 15+ hour flight. I was taken aback when he aggressively challenged me “Why did I smile? Was I not taking him seriously? I can decide to let you in this country, or not!” How do we remain joyful in a world filled with suspicion, superficiality and self-centredness?  B may be little, but he is one of my biggest sources of joy as he reminds me to keep a cheerful disposition, and don’t let negative moments or thoughts ruin your day.  Christmas is a time to make spirits bright, to laugh and sing, just like this song says!

PEACE: As I spend more time than ever with my parents in their golden years, I’ve been reflecting on the peace of mind that only family and community can offer, and also the inner peace that comes when you care for and center yourself.  It could be as simple as sneaking in some self-reflection, reading a devotional like this or this, expressing gratitude and praying each day.  For busy bees like myself,  Christmas is a time to place the important ahead of the urgent for a change.  Let’s look in, up and outwards – and gain perspective and a measure of peace as we do that.

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A family that holidays together, stays together

Developing peace of mind by staying mentally and physically fit

HOPE: Harsh words, unexpected news, broken promises, lack of trust from others or self-confidence are difficult issues to deal with. In those moments, I’m encouraged by how my siblings stand by each other through life’s ups and downs.  Two weeks back, I placed a tearful call to my sis after a particularly rough day, and she gave me exactly what I needed – a listening ear and affirmation.  We pay her a visit when things come up, and don’t let her be overwhelmed alone.  I also look forward to catch up with my brother and his family everytime I’m in the US for work. For me, Christmas is a time to cultivate those relationships and build a faith that give us assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.

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Bonding over design and engineering 🙂

Aunty and her pumpkin 🙂

LOVE: I’ve been tugged in many directions by my various commitments this year, and often felt that I’m running on empty with no reserves left to give. As we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas, I’m thankful for the man who walks beside me in this journey of love. It’s not been easy, as we are both so imperfect. I appreciate his support to let me refuel on me-time and the things I’m passionate about – causes, family, good friends and new discoveries.

Christmas playdate
Christmas playdate

No, mama isn't kissing Santa Claus
Sorry Santa, mama ain’t kissing you

Wherever you are this season, here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas filled with joy, peace, hope and love. Do share with us how you’re celebrating this season and holidays too as we continue this blog train on:

PrayerFull Mum

Next up is Valerie:

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At Mums In Faith, she shares her passion for books with other mums through a convenient book-lending service and reviews on good Christian resources. She also writes articles giving an encouraging Christian perspective on issues pertinent to modern-day mums. Together with her co-founder Danessa, she hopes to build a vibrant community of Christian mums who will love and pray for each other, providing the support we all need as fellow warriors in faith.