How grace works in a marriage

I read this quote by Paul Zahl (from an article by Gospel Coalition):

Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver (the one who loves) in relation to the receiver (the one who is loved) that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…Grace is one-way love.

What does it mean to give grace? Grace is probably one of the hardest things to grasp. Perhaps because it’s so uncommon in our daily lives.

But if you’ve been a recipient of grace, you know how to be a giver too. In marriage (as in daily life), I find it hard to be the one who gives grace. But I do know how to receive it.

I receive grace when I’ve been rude to the husband, or nonchalant in my attitude, and he takes it in his stride.

I receive grace when I forget to put the phone down and ask him about his day. Yet he doesn’t grumble or nag at me.

I receive grace when the kids have made me grouchy and sulky but he rubs my back and says “it’s okay, let’s see how we can make this better.”

I see grace when I’m feeling lousy but he accepts me as I am, weaknesses and all.

I see grace when he lets me vent my frustrations, and doesn’t shut me out.

I see grace when after I’ve lost it and yelled at the kids, he doesn’t put me on a guilt trip, and sits down and troubleshoots with me instead.

And whenever I receive grace, I’m better able to spread some around, even to the kids.

When they rant and rage, I see that all they need is to let it all out, and not punish them for feeling those big emotions but work with them on how to feel better after. (I wish I always manage to stay in control, but unfortunately I’m no saint. But when I do manage to stay calm, I find it makes it easier for them to regulate their emotions and calm down.)

When they are unreasonable and unloving, I can choose to STILL be reasonable and gentle. I need to remember that I always have that option. (And erm…exercise it more.)

But then, what if we take grace for granted? (It’s easy to, isn’t it?) What if they push it further?

I could choose to bully my husband and take advantage when he’s in grace mode. But somehow I don’t. If grace is one-way love, then I must say it usually gets a reciprocal effect. It gives back.  If grace is all about the giver, I feel propelled to want to be a giver too.

Because when I accept the grace that he’s offered with his open hands, I feel unworthy, almost indebted.

Also, I’m reminded that the biggest grace of all, is the one when Christ paid for my sins by dying on the cross. I can’t even begin to repay that debt.

What I can do though is to offer the same grace to others who need it as much as I do.

Grace is like a bunch of summer blooms shoved under your nose when you’re feeling blue. What are the ways you see grace at work in your family? Please share. We all need a touch of grace…

grace is one way love

Handmade mother’s day cards and gift tags {Fund-raiser for MINDS}

Some of you know I’m involved in a handmade for charity project.

We are raising funds for MINDS by selling handmade cards and tags.

Here is my latest batch of cards for mother’s day (coming up next month)!

mother's day cardSold

Sold

Sold

These 6×6 cards come with white envelopes. I also have some gift / encouragement tags too. These are made using coasters and pretty paper, windmills and lotsa love. ;)

gift tags All sold, except B1 and B3

 B9 sold

All these are going for $2.50 each (not inclusive of postage), which is a steal if you ask me. LOL.

Just leave me a comment or email me at mamawearpapashirt@gmail.com for orders.

Thanks for supporting our cause! :D

Check out the designs made by other mums:

Move and grow with the new Huggies Ultra Pants

I never knew that pull-up diapers were made for babies until I tried Huggies® Ultra Pants. The only ones I’ve seen on supermarket shelves are the larger ones more suitable for toddlers and beyond.

I confess, we’ve got a poopy little problem at home. The thing is, Joshua is lactose intolerant, so if I so much as swallow a spoonful of cow’s milk, yoghurt or cake, his poop goes wild and watery.

It’s manageable if it’s a little poop at a time. But if it’s a lot, boy I’ll have a whole load of laundry to do because the watery poop leaks and flows everywhere.

So when I first tried the diaper pants on him, I was hopeful that it’d pass all my 4 diaper tests.

1) That poop will not leak out from the side or back.
2) That it’d last him through the night.
3) Moves with him.
4) Less than 6 seconds to wear.

Why 6 seconds? Well, so that I won’t end up with pee all over me.

The waistband is very elastic, which makes diapering a lying down baby, even a wriggly one, easy to do. By alternating the Huggies® Ultra Pants up his chubby legs, and then one last pull to fit it well over his bottom. Done within 6 seconds.

And what about taking off? Easy peasy. The Huggies® Ultra Pants are designed with easy open sides that make it easy for us to peel open downwards but not across, which makes it child-proof.

Josh with the new Huggies Ultra Pants

Speed test: Pass!

Josh is 3 months old now and is starting to practise his karate kicks with gusto now. I place him on his tummy on the play mat daily so that he strengthens his neck muscles and enjoys a good kick-out. Despite his strong kicks and butt-shuffling action, the diaper stays put and doesn’t drop out of place.

Tummy time with Huggies Ultra Pants

Movement test: Pass!

I’ve been testing the Huggies® Ultra Pants every night for the last week and each night it has managed to hold its weight, like erm literally. And by that I mean it lasts us from 7pm (his last change before he sleeps) till dawn (usually I change him between 630-8am) – around 12 hours.

I have to add that my baby really pees a lot, and I’m sure it’s got to do with his gigantic appetite. So that gives you an idea of exactly how absorbent this diaper is.

Huggies Ultra Pants new

Through the night test: pass!

When it comes to poop, things get a bit complex. In general, despite the wetness of his poop when I take something that has a trace of dairy in it,  the diaper still holds everything in.

However there was one night when he kept feeding every 2-3 hours, and his diaper will filled to the brim. Then when dawn came, he did a giant poop and the diaper (already filled with pee) couldn’t take it of course. Still it wasn’t too bad as it was just a small leak of poop out the back.

Poop test: pass!
Nice tux
As you can probably already tell, I’m going to stick to this diaper pants for Josh for quite a while. But as it’s more expensive than the normal Huggies diapers, I’ve decided to use the normal one for day and the Huggies® Ultra Pants for night and going out. Just my way of budgeting…

Here’s your chance to try out the new Huggies® Ultra Pants for yourself!

Simply go to www.Huggies.com.sg and sign up online.

Please refer to the size chart below. (By the way, Josh is 7.5kg but his thighs are chunky, erm like lotus roots, so he’s already wearing M size!)

Size chart for Huggies
This is part 1 of a series of sponsored posts for Huggies. All stories and opinions are my own.

Playdate @ Cool de sac playground at Suntec City

We had a playdate at the new Cool de sac playground at Suntec City last week. Needless to say, the kids loved it. First up, flying fox, tents and tunnels, and a giant tic tac toe board. This spacious play area also has hula hoops and skipping ropes available for the older kids.

cooldesac open play area for tots

What’s an indoor playground without slides? Even JJ had an adrenaline rush sliding down at high speed. For tots younger than two, it’s probably safer to slide with an adult! There are also spots to climb up and down safely at this station, so it makes it less worrisome for parents. (Whew.)

JJ was drawn like a magnet to the ball-pit (as usual). I was a little surprised that it was quite small. It probably can’t take more than three kids without hands and feet getting entangled! But thankfully we were there on a weekday, so the boy pretty much had the pit to himself.

slide and ballpit

The Treehouse is probably designed for those aged three and up. It features a wooden bridge, a tyre swing, and netted ladders for climbing.

cooldesac_treehouse

One special point about this playground is that it comes equipped with lego and craft stations for lego-maniacs and little tots who prefer to play with scissors, paper, punches and glue. It’s a nice relaxing station for parents too, because we get to sit down and take a break from running and climbing! :P

Lego and craft stations

Finally, we got down to the dressing up area. Vera loved this the most I think. You know how it’s like with little girls and clothes; they just have to try on everything…The mirrors and all gave a nice dressing room effect. So did the stage and disco ball.

JJ: I’m going to poke you with my fork! ROARRRR!

Let's play dressing up

What I like about the place:

  • Security – Each parent is matched to your child with a coloured tag. So no one can bring your child out of the premises, except you.
  • Friendly and helpful staff are stationed around, especially at spots like the flying fox station, to help little ones out and keep them safe.
  • It’s relatively spacious and spaces have been well thought out.
  • Offers diverse and open-ended play tools.
  • There’s real food served be a bistro that has a connecting door to the playground. Lots of seating available in the playground area too, so parents of older children who can play independently can afford to sit down and sip a coffee.
  • It also offers party rooms and packages for rent.

Tips:

  • Remember your socks! (We forgot ours, but didn’t mind paying for new ones as the kids received nice colourful socks!)
  • It may be worth bringing a pouch or sling bag to hold all your valuables and mobile phones as the lockers don’t have locks. (You can rent a padlock though.)
  • If you want to avoid the crowd, do check it out on weekdays! It’s cheaper too ($10 for <3yo, and $20 for >3yo).

Venue details:

  • Open weekdays (10am-10pm) and weekends/PH (8.30am – 10pm)
  • Located at Suntec City #02-379 (Next to The Cocoa Tree)

What to do when you get hives

Vera recently had a bout of hives. This was just the start. It quickly got worse during the course of the day, hitting a peak at evening time.

hivesIt was triggered after we made a trip to the botanic gardens. It was nearing noon and it was really hot. Although we hid in a cool shelter for a while, by the time we left she had developed a heat rash.

Around bedtime that day, I noticed she had three small bites on her leg, with whitish heads. I quickly applied some calendula cream to soothe it as she said it was itchy.

Next morning, her hives became full blown.

(As background, she’s had hives before about 2 years back, which lasted 2-3 days. I also had two episodes of hives that lasted a few months each time after giving birth to Vera and Javier. I had to go on zyrtec for those few months. Her first episode was not itchy at all, just disturbing because of the round spots that covered her limbs and some areas of her face.)

This time round, it was really bad. The itch was unbearable on the first two days and got worse in the evening.

I tried an entire gamut of remedies ranging from essential oils (lavender and purification oil) to natural calendula balms to DOM benedictine (only because a friend told me that brandy used to work for her, and I didn’t have brandy in the house). I tried stress away essential oil (pic, bottom left) – a blend of lime, vanilla, cedarwood and lavender oils, as I read that it helps to soothe skin allergies. But I think all it did was help reduce some of my own stress!

creams for itchy skin

Nothing helped very much. She was itching and scratching like a monkey.

My friend (also my masseuse) passed me a bottle of oil purchased from Thailand (above pic, bottom right). She has a history of hives and she said this oil is about the only thing that could help with the itch. Apart from getting a jab at the hospital.

True enough, after trying it, Vera said that it helped, but it hurt quite a bit upon application because it’s extremely spicy. I taught her to apply it herself as she knows where her itches were, and she could control it if it got too spicy/painful.

(If you do get your hands on the Thai oil, just a word of caution, I don’t personally know what is in that bottle, or how the oil is made. I only know it helped my friend, and Vera. Before you use it everywhere, be sure to do a patch test.)

Friends also recommended the following remedies (which I didn’t get to try):

  • soaking in baking soda solution
  • applying white vinegar on the spots
  • powdering the body with “wine biscuit” (literally translated from chinese, only available at traditional chinese medicine halls.)
  • calamine lotion
  • witchhazel (available at pharmacies.)

Although the oil helped to soothe her itch, her spots didn’t subside. So I brought her to a dermatology-trained doctor at Redhill called Steven Ang. He was soft-spoken and seemed unfazed about Vera’s condition.

Here’s the medication and advice that he gave:

  1. Aerius – a kind of antihistamine, orally taken once in the morning.
  2. Hizin – also an antihistamine, orally taken at night.
  3. Gingoside – a light cooling cream for applying on the body (above pic, top left). (I checked with the doctor and he said this cream does not contain steroids.)
  4. He also recommended that she avoid the sun and preservatives-laden food.
  5. He said that hives are not harmful but can be very itchy. It usually goes away by itself in 2-5 days. If it lasts beyond 5 days, or if it affects ability to breathe, additional medical attention is required.

After one dose of Aerius and one application of Gingoside, I noticed her scratching had greatly reduced. We saw Dr Ang on day 2, and continued the medication till day 4. By day 4, she was well enough to go to church although she still had some spots on her legs. The key thing was that she wasn’t itching anymore, and she felt happy enough to go out.

On day 5, the number of spots had lessened and by day 6, she was looking normal again.

We were so thankful that she didn’t need anything stronger than what the doctor prescribed. But just to be safe, we’re avoiding outdoor exercise for the time being, especially on extra hot and sunny days.

Have you had hives before? What helped and what didn’t?

Review: Original Sprout shampoo and miracle detangler

Original Sprout - free and clean

New in Singapore, Original Sprout’s hair and skincare products caught my eye as they are free from the nasty stuff like phthalates, parabens, nanoparticles, petroleum oils, sulfates, and are even 100% vegan (no gluten, soy, nuts or dairy).

They are also suitable for babies and up, which means I get to enjoy using them too. ;)

We’ve been using it for the kids, and they really love the smell – hard to describe, it’s fresh, fruity and slightly flowery. Of course I checked, and the scents used are 100% from natural sources.

The star product, IMHO, is the miracle detangler, that I use on Vera as she’s been keeping long hair since the start of her obsession with princesses. A few sprays of the detangler and by gently rubbing it over her hair makes it so much easier to come through. No more tangles!

Original Sprout hair and body baby wash

As Vera has very sensitive skin, I was a tad wary of trying the shampoo on her. But so far so good, her eczema patches which flared up in February have calmed down a lot, and the use of the Original Sprout shampoo did not aggravate her condition.

I’ve also tried it out as a hair and body wash for baby Joshua as it’s supposed to help with cradle cap. His cradle cap has improved a lot too, as I’ve also been using my own coconut oil to massage his scalp before bath-time. So kudos to both coconut oil and Original Sprout babywash!

For myself, I’ve been using the Deep Conditioner for weeks now and am enjoying much smoother hair. I confess, I’ve been quite lazy about using conditioners but after trying this one out, I’ve been motivated by the way my hair smells so lovely after a wash. I’ve never been able to retain scents in my hair because it’s quite thin and fine. But somehow this one works well for me, so I’m happy to stick with it for a while.

Original Sprout is now available at Watsons stores islandwide. Try it out and see if it works for you! :)

I was sent some products from Original Sprout to review. All stories and opinions are my own.

 

Little Lessons: Little things can mean so much

This week, I’m keeping it simple for little lessons. The truth is I’ve been busy…

Last week was the school term holidays and we spent one morning getting some exercise together. Daddy led the way with two scooting kids behind, and mama here was trying to balance taking photos with one hand while pushing Joshua in the pram with the other. (Well at least I managed to get this shot.)

keeping fit together

It took us more than 45 minutes to arrive at our destination. Hot and sweaty but all happy that we made it. Obviously JJ didn’t last the whole 45 minutes. His battery went flat after 30 minutes or so. But the daddy graciously helped him along, carrying both him and his scooter skate on his shoulder.

We went to the godparents’ place over the weekend as we intended to hold a garage sale over there. But due to unforeseen events, the sale was called off and we spent the time letting the kids dip in the pool instead. Also managed to have dinner by the pool which was great fun. And Javier gobbled up like all the chicken wings of two roast chickens.

This week, I realised that I’m into my third last week of maternity leave and I nearly sunk into depression after that. Not that I dislike my job (my boss might be reading this btw), but I really couldn’t figure out where the 13 weeks had gone. But then I took a good long look at Joshua and found the answer…

One very hunky baby

Fattening this baby up.

(Has anyone else noticed that they’ve changed the cutting of baby clothes to tight-fit?)

Apart from that loud reminder to cherish these last few weeks, I was also jolted back to earth when I saw big sister and little brother working on this activity book together.

brother and sister

It struck me there and then how much they’ve grown. Just the other day, we were down at the playground. As the duo played with Vera’s friends (all older than JJ), I saw how she made a special effort to guide JJ along and include him (even though it slowed her down). I was really quite proud of her for doing that. When we got home I told her how much her actions spoke of her love and concern for JJ. I think her little thoughtfulness made a big difference to her brother’s day.

So yes…it’s been more than 13 weeks since we became a family of five. Though the days are often noisy and teary, and nights ever so tiring, when I look back I see how our hearts have expanded and made space for one another, weaknesses and flaws and all. And I’m thankful.

This has turned out to be a multiple-lessons post, or the one in which I learn a few things about life and love, about taking last minute changes in stride, and about how little things can mean so much.

PS> I’ll be taking a break in April for Little Lessons, as I’ll need some time to adjust to the new work-from-home-while-caring-for-kids routine. Deep breath. Wish me well. Meanwhile, this linky will remain open for most of April. Plus, you can check out our previous posts here.

 

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Review: Post-natal massage treatment with Nouri Face and Body Concepts

Since becoming a mum, I’ve become very skilled in shoving my needs into a corner. Especially that of the beauty department. I truly believed that as long as I’m healthy, eating and sleeping well, I should be fine. Plus I’ve also gotten quite used to the rounder, heavier me ever since I had Vera.

When I was recommended by a close girlfriend of mine to Val (founder of Nouri Face and Body Concepts), I was hopeful but also unsure. I told myself to not have too high an expectation of the results. After all, I was paying for a massage, not a miracle right?

Well, apparently I was wrong…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m not very good at following rules. That’s why I never quite did confinement properly. I would hop into the shower when no one is looking, drink plain water as and when, and sneak out of the house.

This time when I did my confinement, I was a transformed person. Because of Val. After my first session with her, I learnt all about confinement dos and don’ts. She told me that if I don’t follow the rules, my package (and money) would go straight down the drain.

Val is the kind of person who tells it as it is. She’s serious and passionate about what she does. After that session, I decided I needed to work with her in order to help my body, which had already been bearing the effects of not-so-ideal confinement practices in the past.

So like an obedient child, I tried my best to follow the rules. I started my treatment after about two weeks post-delivery as I had to recover from my c-section. Here’s how a typical session looks like:

1) Full body lymphatic detox – 30 minutes

This is where I get to feel like a chicken getting cooked. But don’t laugh yet as this treatment helps to purge the water and toxins that have accumulated in our bodies throughout pregnancy. While the heat was uncomfortable, it was bearable. Plus it gave me an odd sense of satisfaction to be losing all that excess water. (You can actually see the amount of sweat that collects on the plastic sheets.)

2) Massage – 60 minutes

I was one of Val’s last few customers who received her post-natal hand massages. (She’s stopped offering it this year as customers have been saying that they achieve their desired results faster with the machine.)

After about four hand-massage sessions at home, I moved on to try the Fat Mobilization Therapy at her shop, since my confinement was already over. Boy, the first session was pretty painful. I felt like the vibrations were almost grinding my bones! Actually, it was just doing the hard work of breaking down all those stubborn fats.

Nouri sexy mum cream

And have I told you how hot Val’s sexy mum cream is? It’s so hot that I had difficulty staying still after about 5-10 minutes into the session! It really should be renamed “hot mama cream” instead. Why so hot, you ask? Well, the cream includes a medley of extracts and essences that works to burn and break down the fatty deposits in the body.

The spiciness may take a while to get used to, but it’s a small price to pay for the effectiveness of this therapy. After this session, I could already see that my waistline had become slightly more defined so that kept me going.

3) Osmotic cloth wrap

Nouri's jamu wrapFinally, we get down to the osmotic cloth wrap.

Created by Val herself who learnt all the skills of her trade from her own mother, this is similar to the traditional jamu wrap except that the cloth feels really comfortable to wear. I could have it on for 18-20 hours without going crazy.

For my first wrap, she showed me how to roll the cloth so that I could redo the wrap on days when I didn’t have treatment. I thought this was helpful as it meant that I could wrap myself at any time.

Verdict?

To date, I’ve dropped below my pre-pregnancy weight (heck I’m back to my pre-Vera days even!)  Friends and family have also commented that I’ve gotten back into shape really quick this round. This may sound a little cliched but I really feel like a new person. More energetic, more confident, and less discouraged when I look into the mirror…No prizes for guessing who I’ve got to thank.

When we take good care of our health and bodies, we are also in better shape (literally and figuratively) to care for our families. This is something that I’ve learnt through this experience, so I will continue to work hard and give myself permission to look good, recharge, and stay in the pink of health.

With the beautiful Val at her shop

Each post-natal massage session at Nouri Face and Body Concepts costs $150. For optimal results, a package of 15 sessions is recommended. She currently has a 1-for-1 offer for pre-natal massages, which is targeted at relieving water retention and back or shoulder aches. For enquiries, please visit Nouri’s Facebook page or whatsapp Val at 91994189.

This is part 1 of a series of sponsored posts by Nouri Face and Body Concepts.

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