What if trials are blessings in disguise

I’ve been feeling the heat lately. Things at home haven’t being going “as planned.” (Since the advent of parenthood, what goes as planned really?)

Javier’s been going through potty regression. He used to be pretty regular, but all of a sudden some months back, he decided he would start pooping in his diaper again. He’s also been in whiny mode and just extremely irritable on some days.

My helper decided to leave us (for personal reasons I can’t disclose here). Thankfully, my mother was able and willing to come back to help us for a couple of days every week, so I don’t have to go through the process of looking for a suitable helper.

It’s hard not to feel hot, harried and bothered. Some nights, I feel like just letting it all go – and having a good cry while at it.

Then I remembered that sometimes things don’t always go as planned. And many times, they don’t for good reason. The important thing is to learn and grow through it all. And to keep the faith.

I remind myself I need to stay well and strong, for the sake of the kids (and hubby too, so I don’t end up taking it out on him). I choose to take it easy on whatever area of life I can – be it a messier home and living room, or one or two less home-cooked dinners a week. I choose to keep my sanity, by selecting my battles. (And fight them one at a time.)

Staying emotionally well means that I know what to let go of.

It means that I don’t take on too much and I learn to say no.

It means keep first things first – and prioritising too.

It also means I stay connected to people I love and whom I know will support me and will keep us in prayer. (I’m ever grateful for my friends who are “on call” via whatsapp / Facebook.)

What does being emotionally well mean to you?

If you are going through a trying period, I pray for God’s peace to guard your heart, and that you’ll find strong support in the presence of family and friends.

what if trials are mercies in disguise

May this song Blessings bless and encourage you…

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

3 awesome ways to reconnect with your spouse

3 awesome ways to reconnect

I’ve been talking about self-care lately, and one of the things on my heart is to really invest time and energy into my marriage.

What’s marriage got to do with self-care? Well, a woman’s heart is all about relationships, and the marriage relationship is a key one to nurture. It’s always easy to lose track, to be caught up with our work or family obligations, or just busy giving face-time to our gadgets and screens rather than each other.

So here are 3 of our favourite activities that I’ve found helps to set the mood for reconnection to happen. (The best part? You don’t need to spend a bomb on anything.)

1. Couple mask night

Ahem, confession time. The hubby and I enjoy putting on masks together. It’s silly I know, but also very therapeutic.

We haven’t been able to do it as regularly as we like to, and only recently got started on it again. During the half hour or so, we just lie in bed with our masks on, and talk and talk and talk.

If you’ve never tried it, you might want to give it a go. it’s a great opportunity to reconnect (maybe cos we’re just stuck with each other for an entire 30 minutes) amidst all the busyness.

And for us ladies, we also get to moisturise the skin at the same time. So win-win. ;)

2. Go on a jog-date

I’m not a running type of person but I can manage a jog-walk. The hubby is gracious enough to slow down to my humble pace and just enjoy the evening air and scenery as we jog down the park. We talk about anything and everything, mostly about his work, and also the kids. Sometimes I share my worries and sometimes about my dreams.

Something about the air and the adrenaline helps to get blood pumping into my brain and I always feel a sense of clarity after the exercise.

I never thought I’d manage (much less enjoy) talking while running but I’ve managed to surprise myself. At the end of the run, we reward ourselves with some yummy hawker favourites like prawn noodles and bbq chicken wings. Or pig out on pizza from an Italian joint nearby.

It always feels good to work out together, so I hope to keep this up regularly (that means 2-3 times a month).

3. Have a device-free night

I must admit there’s always some inertia and even sweaty palms whenever I plan for this. I worry about what if I miss out on some major news break in the world, or on some important message from my Whatsapp / Facebook chat threads. (Yes, the gadget lifestyle has made us all a little paranoid about our social worlds. This has also made me realise how much a victim of “the urgent” I have become.)

The last weekend, I tried to have a device-free night (meaning mobile phone, laptop, and ipad are all switched off or on airplane mode from 7-12 midnight), but the hubby unfortunately had to get some work done, so we had to postpone it.

I think for such a night to be counted as fruitful and restful, it should feature some fun – maybe a movie or cooking something together, some sharing or planning (thinking about the future), and some quiet reflection (reading a book or the bible, and then sharing what you learnt).

So this is still on my list, and I plan to do it at least once a month.

I guess what you guys do doesn’t matter as much as how you intentionally set aside time and space to connect with your spouse.

Now it’s your turn…What’s your favourite way to reconnect? 

Celebrating milestones with Huggies Ultra Pants

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Enjoying a good kick with Huggies Ultra Pants

Since we started using Huggies® Ultra Pants (and also Huggies® Ultra diapers) in March, I haven’t had to worry too much about diapers. You know how it is when you’ve found something that works for you and your little ones? You tend to keep to it for a long long time…

Josh is extremely active now, which is a healthy sign for a 6-month-old. He loves getting a good kick on the playmat, jumping in his exersaucer, rolling about, and is now able to sit up for a minute or so before tumbling sideways.

Playing with big sister

He’s also started eating and we are experimenting with baby-led weaning, where he holds his carrot, apple or sweet potato “sticks” and attempts to chew and mash them in his mouth. (Yes, this means that mealtimes are really messy business.)

Because he gets so dirty after a meal, I usually just dress him in a light singlet and just diapers. That just means less washing for us. The L-sized Ultra Pants fit him snugly and I don’t have to worry about it slipping off. And because of the heat, I also just let him lounge around in diapers when we are at home. Trust me, when you have three little ones to look after, little time-saving tricks like these can make all the difference.

Recently he’s even started to lunge forward. It looks like he’s practising to crawl with his funny butt-shaking motions. He would try to kick himself forward to grab his favourite toy or teething ring. Basically, anything new and colourful captures his interest these days. I’ve even caught him grabbing a piece of tissue and chomping a bit of it off once.

An active baby with Huggies Ultra Pants

With such an active and playful baby, I’m glad to have found a trustworthy diaper brand. He will probably grow up with Huggies® all the way until he’s ready to wean off diapers. Happy 6 months, baby Josh!

PS. Get your free Huggies® Ultra Pants sample here!


“Bye, woman.” On wellness and self-care

I told the kids “bye, guys” one morning as they headed off to class. Vera promptly turned and said “bye, woman.”

She thought she was cheeky, and I must admit I laughed. (I only hope I remember this incident years down the road if and when the kids use this reference not so innocently.)

As I spent the last week or so reflecting on my journey and reviewing my goals and plans, I realise that I often forget about my own needs as a woman.

A woman needs love and affection. She is cheered on by words of encouragement and affirmation from the people close to her heart. She loves to be pampered, desires to dream and to realise those dreams, seeks time to rejuvenate herself, time to rest and feed her soul.

She needs to know that she is worth fighting for and protecting, that her thoughts, feelings and ideas are worthy of a listening ear. She dreams big, gives of herself to worthy causes, fights for the things and people she believes in and loves. She nurtures her clan ferociously.

As “mum”, I often neglect the other aspects of womanhood. I don’t dedicate time to care for myself. Exercise and grooming gets relegated to “when I have a minute.”

Many needs vy for my attention, and it can get pretty overwhelming on some days. (Now and then, I feel like locking myself in a quiet room and sitting alone in the stillness for five minutes. And occasionally, I actually do.)

This is where I collect myself; the million pieces of me that have been spread thin like butter on toast.

There, when the sky feels like it’s falling and when my heart is so noisy and worry-filled, I’m able to focus on the promises of God. He often reminds me that He is the one holding it up for us.

I feel lately I’ve been buzzing around without a clear purpose. It’s time to re-focus on the things that matter to me, not just as Mum, but as Woman.

When I became a mum in 2009, I launched into motherhood – mad, glorious motherhood. Now, ironically, being a mum has taught me that I cannot simply mother all day long and neglect my own needs as a woman. This quote says it well:

The quality of a person’s inner being – the body, mind and spirit – affect the quality of his/her outward expressions – the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others, produce quality work, etc. One’s inner wellness is, hence, not an option, but a necessity. Every individual, especially women who tend to sacrifice themselves for their loved ones, must unwind and pamper his/herself to achieve that inner balance and well-being. – Esther Lee

As much as my children mean to me, being a better person for them means stepping away from them, to re-fuel my tank.

Ways to re-fuel

  • Keep fit and healthy (through good food and exercise).
  • Regular me-time (coffee dates work well for me, and the occasional coffee retreat).
  • Catch up with good friends.
  • Invest in personal development, give voice to your dreams.
  • Creative pursuits and fun relaxing activities, like picking up a new hobby or catching a play (not a kiddy one)
  • Nourish your soul by feeding on God’s word daily.
  • Date your spouse. Find new ways to show your love.
  • Create mental white space or thinking space (this should involve stealing away from the noisy world of technology and social media) to reflect on the past, learn lessons, and plan for the future. (This often helps me to gain new energy and perspective. When I take a step back, I often catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.)

In a way, this blog is my way of investing in myself; an expression of my desires to write and create, and to encourage other parents who are going through similar struggles.

It is also a small step towards achieving my dream to be a writer.

Yes, it’s hard to peel away. Yes, it’s hard to find the time. But if it’s something important and close to your heart, you will choose to do it, even if it means saying “no” to other things. This is for you, and for the family too.

Parenthood isn’t an excuse for you to shelf your dreams and needs for personal fulfilment away. Instead, allow parenthood to inspire and motivate you to go beyond what you ever imagined, and to invest in those needs in a different, perhaps more creative, way.

From now on, I’m committing myself to not run on empty, and to re-fuel on love, God’s word, and good company. For the month of July, I’ll be focusing on the theme of self-care. (If you have an idea to share with me, do drop me a note!)

“Hello, woman.”

self-care quote

Do you struggle to meet your own needs and desires too?

How do you find ways to recharge and refuel?

Angry feelings and tantrum behaviour? Try playing coach.

I mentioned a couple of days after JJ turned three that he had progressed many steps from his tantrum spewing days.

Well, he recently seems to have taken a few steps back. We’ve been hearing a lot of whining and crying of late, often for little reason. Sometimes he would even wake up in a fit.

Naturally my first response was to blame myself and ask, what am I doing wrong? But after thinking it through a bit more, and asking God for wisdom and patience, I’ve been able to move from that self-defeating mode to something more productive. I’m now asking these questions:

Why is he doing what he is doing?

What need is he expressing through such negative behaviour?

How can I help him?

It was really frustrating at the start, especially since we couldn’t quite figure out what was going on, and so didn’t know how we should tackle it. Was it insecurity because we weren’t spending enough one-on-one time with him? Was it just yet another new (and challenging) phase he was going through? Honestly, we don’t have all the answers…

It took all we had to stay cool. Hubby and I had to tag-team and call for time out whenever one of us were on the brink of losing it. Thankfully, however, after being firm with him, and asking if he needed the calm down chair, he would generally try to simmer down somewhat and respond with a “I stop already” (in reference to his crying and screaming.)

There was one episode last week when he dropped his lego onto the floor, and was starting to throw a fit, exclaiming that he needed someone to pick them up for him. I went to stoop beside him, and said in as calm a voice as I could muster, “JJ, you can pick up the pieces yourself. Try it.” He then responded in a whiny voice, “I want mummy to stay with me.” So I did. And he picked up the pieces by himself, with me beside him and giving him a bit of encouragement here and there.

After he was done, I was like, “hi-five, buddy!” And he actually smiled and gave me a hi-five. (And then walked away as if nothing major had happened. Sigh…)

I pondered over what happened and realised that he has been anxious about being alone / left behind, and often expresses that he wants us to wait for him. Something must be making him feel like he’s being left behind (perhaps one reason is because he isn’t as fast and competent as his older sister is.)

According to this article Helping Children Deal with Angry Feelings, when  children are angry, they need someone to set clear and firm boundaries for them. For instance, using words to express their emotions is acceptable while lashing out and biting or throwing things at others, aren’t.

This part, I think he’s managed to learn. He’s been expressing his anger using words, albeit quite comically. When upset at someone or something, he would exclaim loudly with his eyebrows knitted together, “I don’t like anybody anymore!” or “I don’t want to play with anybody FOREVER!” (Now obviously it takes every strand of our being not to burst into laughter at such funny exclamations. But yes, respect. We need to show empathy and respect for the little guy, and that requires us not to laugh at him when he’s upset.)

Jokes aside, I’m thankful that now I know he just needs us to give him attention and support, and to stand by his side when he’s feeling angry. It makes me recall a lesson I picked up from Focus on the Family’s Parenting with Confidence facilitator training session – the importance of being a parent-coach.

A coach believes in his team members, sets high standards for them and equips them with the right skills to get there. He sets reasonable and clear rules, encourages cooperation and teamwork, sets a warm and loving atmosphere at home, and values the opinions of his children. He allows the children room to grow, and never stops believing in them, even in times of failure.

I’m choosing to play the role of a loving and firm coach to JJ for now, while praying hard that we’ll get through this together.

Are you experiencing tough times with your preschooler too? What tools or tips have worked for you?
Angry feelings quote

The best of June

I can’t believe the June holidays has come to an end. Time flies by when you’re having fun huh? Here’s a peek at what we got up to this hols.

We kicked off with a Chinese holiday programme at Ed-Quest Chinese School. Food was the theme for this holiday programme, and Vera had loads of fun exploring food and learning the language at the same time. From the photos, you can see that she had a taste test with blindfolds on, and made ice-cream with the red ball-like gadget (bottom pic). Obviously with such fun and engaging activities, Ms Vera loved attending class, and I didn’t hear a single complaint. She kept telling me she wanted to go back and attend more classes! (Now, I think that alone speaks volumes about the sessions!)

Ed-Quest chinese school

We visited the National Museum masak masak exhibition. The kids had fun “cooking”, making and decorating cardboard houses, admiring miniature toilet roll cut-out artworks, and even exploring the laws of physics with eggs and other interesting materials. And don’t forget the bouncy castles at the front lawn! (PS. Exhibition runs till 3 August.)

Play @ National Museum

We took advantage of I Love Museum’s Children’s Season, and visited the Police Heritage Centre for a quick tour. The tour turned out to be more suitable for older kids (less interactive and engaging for those below 5 or 6 years old), but the highlight was dressing up the kiddos in uniforms at the end of the 1-hour session!

We also went for the Central Fire Station’s Open House and had fun learning more about our civil defence force and exploring fire engines and testing out water hoses.

We also visited KidsStop the week that it opened (Below, top right: playing doctor), and found that it’s one giant indoor playground. The kids had fun pretending to be paleontologists digging for dino bones in a sand pit, playing with giant musical instruments, and acting as construction worker, supermarket cashier, and doctor for a day. (More pictures here.)
play-pretend

During the last week of the hols, I decided to take it easy, and just had some playdates out at MacRitchie Reservoir (we wanted to see the monkeys!) and at nearby playgrounds. Somehow all the playgrounds we went to were really quiet and I guess it could be because most families are still away on holiday.

We made random words with leaves and twigs, collected pine cones for painting, had fun feeding fish, admiring butterflies and building sandcastles. The weather was kind to us, and thank God (while crossing fingers and toes), no haze!

outdoor fun in Singapore!

The holiday programme and the activities were great. But I think the parts I enjoyed best was being able to spend quality time with Vera and JJ, just going about our daily mundane things like grocery shopping, stopping for a cuppa (this one is for me of course), and also getting to explore our own backyard in Singapore.

This quote describes it all…

“The wonderful thing about having kids is that we become tourists in our own country again.”

Giveaway: Win a pair of tickets to catch Round the Moon, Blue the Sky

Win a pair of tickets to catch Round the Moon, Blue the Sky (on 26 July, Sat, 2pm). Details below!

Why is the moon round? Why are there so many colours and shapes in the world? Journey with Smallest Dragon as she goes in search of answers in a magical, whimsical and colourful world.

Round the moon theatre production

Round the Moon, Blue the Sky is a fast-paced, lively and physical production about Smallest Dragon, a curious dragon who is always asking questions and poking her nose into things.

Her favourite words are: WHY and HOW and WHAT? (Sounds familiar already?)

One night she sees the moon, and wonders why it is the shape that it is. Fascinated, she sets off to find other round things – and quickly realises that there are many other important shapes too. As she explores, she also discovers the wonder of colours!

Combining a unique blend of physical theatre, riveting puppetry, black light magic and lots of audience interaction, this highly engaging and educational performance is specially tailored for children from 2 to 8 years old.

~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~

Thanks to I Theatre, one blog reader will stand to win a pair of tickets to Round the Moon on 26 July, Saturday, 2pm. Just enter by following the instructions in the Rafflecopter app below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:

  • All tickets are strictly non-exchangeable for cash and non-transferrable.
  • Winners are required to collect the tickets before the show itself at I Theatre’s office (27 Kerbau Road) by 16 July 2014. All tickets not collected after 16 July 2014 will be forfeited.
  • The tickets are strictly for the following show date and timing only: 26 July, Saturday, 2pm
  • Winners are not allowed to change show date and timing.

Round The Moon, Blue The Sky is I Theatre’s first project in partnership with the Asian Alliance of Theatre Festivals for Young Audiences. It will be showing at the Alliance Française Theatre from 21 to 27 July 2014. Tickets are now available for sale at SISTIC.

Reflections on father’s day

father_quote

“A father is a son’s first hero and a daugther’s first love.”

I came across this quote recently and thought it was so true.

JJ looks up to daddy. He wants to grow big and strong like him. (And that’s what we say when we want him to eat his veggies. Heh.)

Vera wants to him to be her boyfriend. (And I know I can’t be jealous of this one.)

The way daddy treats her will set the standard for her to know how exactly how she should be treated by her suitors.

We had a simple father’s day celebration last week, just enjoying the usual things that we do, in an extra special way. As I thought about fathers and the irreplaceable role they play in the lives of our little ones, I realised something… That despite their macho exterior, men need encouragement and affirmation too. Especially when it comes to parenting, an area where everyone is learning on our feet. Fathers need to know that they’re doing okay, and that they aren’t messing up.

If you are a father, what kind of encouragement do you crave for? If you are a mum, what kind of encouragement do you think your husband needs? Do hop over to read my post-Father’s day reflections over at Focus on the Family’s blog, and leave a comment there!

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