Category Archives: #tt

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.

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

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The Magic Three

My darling B:

You are now 33 months. Just 3 months to go before you turn 3 years old! Everyone warned me about the terrible twos, but the year turned out to be pretty terrific instead. Hopefully I don’t jinx the remaining months 😮 You had your moments of wild, irrational flail-on-the-ground tantrums, but through it all I kept the 3 Ts in mind:  Tank up on love, Transition gradually, and Timing matters!

In light of your and mama’s developments this year, here are 3×3 things to celebrate about you!

3 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU

1) THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE: You love reading. You bring books  to our bed in the morning, want to read at mealtimes, and negotiate the number of stories for bedtime.  You are ever curious. You’ll ask “What happen, mama?” when I’m reading the news or listening to the radio. The library is like your second home where you can occupy yourself flipping through books or telling stories to friends (imaginary or anyone nearby). Your face lights up as you associate what you read with what you see in real life. When your gears start spinning, you turn to me to say “Remember the [book/event/person/item]?” and a wonderful process of discovery ensues. When you see text, you track the words with your fingers as you “read.”  You like to call out numbers, upper and lower cases that you recognise from Letterland phonics, and even Chinese characters.  It’s truly a delight to watch you learn!

Watching the night sky from our balcony got him intrigued about space so we’ve borrowed many books about it (like this one).  Here he’s simulating the moon rotating around the earth 🙂

2) A SONG IN YOUR HEART:  Since you started carrying a tune, you  haven’t stopped making music. Even as a baby, you’d often hum and move to the rhythm and beat.  These days, we don’t need alarm clocks because you wake us up with your singing at 7a or earlier! You make us laugh with silly adaptations and lead your friends in rousing renditions of songs from Majulah Singapura to Wheels on the Bus to “一步一步走啊走”.   This year we tried some structured music learning at home, and we’ll continue to look for ways to help you hone this gift now and beyond.

3) PASSION FOR VEHICLES: Be they in the air, on the road, on water, in print, real or toy, rides or stickers – you like them all! You  observe routes, recall directions, names of roads and who stays where. Your pretend play is getting more creative too. You manipulate everyday things at home, LEGO and wooden blocks, toy vehicles, tracks and figures to form construction sites, accident and rescue operations, traffic jams on the highway, neighbourhood multi-story carparks – all with sound effects and commentary.

One activity you initiated is to lay out your vehicle flash cards and we take turns to find the right one as we play “I Spy” and 这是什么?”

Sometimes I need to set time limits so you don’t get too obsessed (i.e. kick a fuss when it’s time to stop or leave). But this shows me  you’re capable of focusing and innovating on what interests you. If only we could figure out how to replicate this for other stuff  😉

3 AREAS YOU’VE GROWN IN

1) (SELF) HELPER: Although I still prompt you to eat faster or finish up, I’m thankful that you continue to help yourself at meal times and have a healthy appetite, drink well, (mostly) eat greens, fruits and are willing to try variety – Asian, Western, Middle Eastern, mild herbs and spices. You even ate durian!

Since we started our first sticker chart on toilet training, you also have less accidents and better control.  You let us know when you want to pee and poop instead of us asking or taking you regularly.  There’s still occasional overnight bed wetting and leaks (esp. when you’re too excited or shy) but you’ve made great progress that we’ve moved on to a new chart for wearing/undressing clothes and shoes.

Out with the old, in with the new sticker chart

Lastly, although you need reminding, you do help to clean up after play, unload dirty clothes into the laundry bag and bring your dishes to the kitchen after meals. Well done!

2) FINE MOTOR SKILLS:  Thanks to your current preschool, you’re constantly encouraged to experiment and express yourself through art and craft. Mama is so thankful for the amazing teachers there!

Our little artist at his first school exhibition

Although there’s less opportunities for us at home together, I cherish the times when we play simple number and finger games and do crafty activities that build your fine motor skills.  Of course, you still treat glue like paint, colour all over the page, use brushes, pencils, markers and crayons like stamps, wield the scissors and chopsticks with two hands when your fingers are tired… But you’re getting there. Just persevere and keep up the great work!

Our art wall is constantly full even though mama recycles often

3) THE GREAT OUTDOORS:  We now do more things outside and for  longer before you ask for a “抱抱“!  You’ve always been a cautious toddler and not a big fan of being under the hot sun.  Yet as you grow, you now scoot with more confidence and speed, are eager to get wet and play in the sand (caveat: area must be “clean and cool” enough), jump in the pool at your weekly swim class, pedal the tricycles at school and ride your balance bike to deliver items and messages from place to place.  I only wish you’d wear your safety helmet more often so mama doesn’t worry … too much.

Getting out and about

So here’s to you, my little big baby, who’s becoming a big little boy. Love you to the moon and back!

We are Singaporean

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It takes a village to raise a child

Kids should have good role models and parents who can walk the talk while being transparent in handling failure and success.  This morning I asked B “who do you want to be when you grow up?” and to my surprise, instead of “teacher, firefighter” (his usuals), he said “I want to be like mama” (yikes!)  While that stroked my ego as I’ve been trying to be more intentional about building faith and character with B, I’m painfully aware that as a flawed individual, I always fall short!  You don’t want to be like mama at all times B, really….

Kari Kampakis’ article “10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make”  resonated with me because – I confess – I’ve made most of them. Here’s one that I agree with wholeheartedly:

Mistake #1: Underestimating CHARACTER. If there’s one thing I hope to get right in my children, it’s their CORE. Character, moral fiber, an inner compass… these things lay the foundation for a happy, healthy future. They matter more than any report card or trophy ever will…. We know that what will matter at 25, 30 and 40 is [not what they achieved but] how they treat others and what they think of themselves.

If we want them to build character, confidence, strength and resilience, we need to let them face adversity and experience the pride … when they come out stronger on the other side. It’s hard to see our children fall, but sometimes we have to. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether intervening is in their best interest. There are a million ways to love a child, but in our quest to make them happy, let us stay mindful that sometimes it takes short-term pain to earn long-term gain.

It dawned on me at a recent church camp that my parenting journey is not meant to be walked alone, isolated from community. Furthermore, the best lessons are “caught not taught.” We all can and should help to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)

it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-childIn this case, our “village” is our local church which partners with parents to set a solid faith foundation for their marriages, families and the next generation.  I’m especially blessed by those serving in kids’ ministry who are super engaging and energetic, always ready to patiently manage restless kids and answer those tricky questions. As I occasionally help with our weekly cell group, I realise how tough it is to catch the interest and hold the attention of kids, especially between preschool and primary school ages!

Doing superman while singing “Jesus, You’re My Superhero!”

With me having less time with B and hubby still away a lot for work, I’m keen to better integrate B with our “spiritual family” here.  Besides family and casual friend interactions, we are trying to be more consistent with Sunday School.  B joined our church’s Sunbeam program at 18 months and then graduated to unaccompanied classes at 30 months. We sat in with him for the first two N1 sessions. The first time we dropped him off, he cried but was okay after a few minutes.  The second time this past weekend was better, no tears, although he still wanted a big hug and clung to mama as I left. B said afterwards that he likes Sunday School, sang many songs, and even quoted (and adapted) his memory verse to “I love and obey God!” and later at home “I love mama and daddy!” 🙂 To be honest, I was kinda stunned that he paid enough attention to recall and put it to practice. Me of little faith!

Jesus is a live craft for Easter
“Jesus is alive” craft for Easter
After he turns 3 and/or can tahan till 1030p, we may bring him along to our Friday cell group for a once-a-week late night out. After all, a village isn’t a village without fun, food and fellowship, right?
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Out of the cot

Today, I’m thankful that B has handled his “growing up” transitions well: Sleeping through the night, feeding himself, nursery drop-off, potty training, settling quickly for mid-day naps, and now, moving to a junior bed. Sure, there are challenging days, but when I speak to other moms, I feel grateful because our experience has been TOTALLY by grace and luck, and not due to any different or better parenting methods on my end.

Just before B turned 2, he climbed out of his cot, and landed on his bum!  We figured if you can’t stop him, teach him how to do it right  – so we showed him how to climb out and land safely in the interim. However, after a few more attempts, B lost interest in “escaping” and I delayed any major changes as we were adjusting to nursery drop-off earlier this year. Meanwhile, we’d read and talk about big boys sleeping in big beds, and also show B his friends’ new beds or mattresses. Between 18 months to 2.5 years, most of his buddies had already switched – with mixed results – to make way for a new sibling, prevent bumps and falls, replace a smaller crib, etc.

We left his current convertible cot bed as is (it fits a 70 x 140 cm mattress) … until now! Sometime last month, he kept asking to “lower bed, go out” and would start yelling for “mama, mama” if no one comes fast enough once he woke up. It dawned on me that B is taking the initiative, that he’s able to settle and sleep on his own and to play safely when he’s up. Even hubby noticed it! So this weekend, we dropped one of his cot sides, installed the portable bedrail that we got months ago and let him have fun climbing up and down.

B's convertible cot bed (from 6 months and counting)
B’s convertible cot bed (from 6 months and counting)

So far, B eagerly gets into his newly converted “junior bed” after we read and pray together at night. He still sleeps well (thankfully!), generally wakes up happy, wishes us a “good morning” and now, gets his milk from the kitchen, sings and plays around the house until we’re all ready to start our day together. His independence is amazing to see and I pray these smooth transitions continue for a long while 🙂

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Don’t stop believing

Recently, I was asked by a mom of multiple kids whom I’d just met: “Just one boy? Don’t you want more kids?!”

Sigh. If only she knew.

After missing my otherwise regular period by a week, feeling early pregnancy symptoms, testing and retesting, I suspect I’ve had a chemical pregnancy. I’ve not felt our ongoing failure to conceive again so acutely since last year’s miscarriage. Honestly, it’s hard NOT to be emotional when you’re surrounded by friends who are pregnant or just delivered. I would say I’m a fairly resilient and independent gal, but perhaps, there’s more to it all than to keep monitoring my cycles closely, timing it right (and frequently), taking folic acid, staying radiation and stress-free, and living healthy.

Enter: Supernatural childbirth. Whaaat? If you’re thinking this is about seeing visions of heaven, hell, angels, demons, and everything in between, errm, not quite. Instead of trying NOT to think about conceiving (which is quite frankly, impossible), Supernatural Childbirth is a book that encourages us to actively stand on the bible as God’s Word and believe that “Children are a heritage from God, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” (Psalm 127:3).

Supernatural Childbirth
Supernatural Childbirth

Although my faith is at a low after this “barren” streak, as a Christian, I still believe there’s truth and power in the bible. So today, despite my ongoing frustration and setbacks, I’m thankful for B, the child that I DO have, the friend who gave me this book, the author and women who shared their testimonies in it, and a God who keeps His promises that:

1) God’s perfect love casts out fear! Past failures bring future fears but the opposite of fear is faith : “I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4), “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37)

2) You can do anything when rooted in God’s Word. Pray in agreement with the Word before even trying to conceive: “For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

3) Barrenness is the exception, not the rule. All the barren women of faith in the bible conceived: “He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.” (Psalm 113:9)

4) Conceive, carry and deliver without fear of pain and loss: “God will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field! (Malachi 3:11)

5) Focus on being a healthy mother and having a healthy baby, not about where, how or what others have done: “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life — life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)

“For this child I prayed and the Lord hears my cry!  You have formed and fashioned our baby in my womb, and at the right time You will separate my baby and carry it gently from the womb. We will train our children up in the way they should go, tender to God, the Word and the things of God, and honouring their parents, and they will not depart from these when they are old. Amen!”

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A typical school day – before and after

The first term has come and gone better than I expected! In April, B started taking his mid-day nap in school.  Before this, I’d usually rush to pick him up on time after my meetings, work or lunch. He’d be too excited to see mama and though he was tired by 1p, he’d often skip naps and end up cranky by evening. Now on weekdays, he naps daily at school (~1.5-2 hours), I pick him up after 3p and we spend the rest of the day together. I’m thankful for the wonderful teachers and friends that’s he’s made, how well they’ve helped him adjust to nursery life, enabling us to have quality time together and apart.

Singing with the ukulele in his uniform
Before school: Singing with the ukulele (in his uniform)
After school (nap): Afternoon snack with mama in his pjs

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Green living in our Garden City

Back when I was still working full time, there was a LOT of green development near my office on Alexandra Road due to the Southern Ridges trail with its iconic Henderson Wave Bridge and Alexandra Arch linking Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.  See this DIY Guide to The Southern Ridges for more info 🙂

B was in my belly as I hiked, strolled and eventually, waddled along the pathways. But since I had B and left corporate life, we hadn’t  gone back there until recently when we drove by the area and ended up visiting playground after playground at the new Alexandra Canal Linear Park which is being extended from Tanglin Road to Zion Road (River Valley) via the Alexandra Park Connector!

Alexandra

B enjoyed scooting down the 1km+ path, stopping occasionally to climb, slide, jump on the trampoline, play with the exercise equipment and even share his scooter with new friends.  I chitchated with the locals, answering “he’s almost 2.5 years” and “no, daddy is not angmoh” at least 20 times, overall enjoying the friendly and neighbourly vibe.  It was nice to NOT be the only local at a private estate playground or crowded out at the bigger, more popular parks.

Hand-cranked gondola off Block 61C Strathmore Ave
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Trampoline near Block 61C Strathmore Avenue Playground
MyFirstSkool playground
Block 81 Strathmore Avenue Playground with a rock climbing wall

So today, I’m thankful for the foresight and commitment in Singapore to ensure that ALL benefit from this truly Garden City.  I also value the effort and care in enriching the local community with free yet well-maintained public parks and playgrounds.  Keep up the good work, Nparks!

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