Christmas Ornaments Workshop at Resin Play (Review)

Vera had lots of fun creating resin Christmas ornaments with her god-sister at a recent Resin Play workshop! With different colours and sparkles to play with, the two girls were in art and craft heaven!

resin play_pouring jesmonite

First, they had to decide how to design their inner pieces. Using Jesmonite mixed with the desired colours, Vera chose to design her inner snowflake and unicorn using two colours: purple and white, creating a marbling effect by pouring one colour after another.

resin pouring

Her god-sister also chose similar colours, except using the butterfly and snowflake moulds.

resin play_jesmonite clay piece

While waiting for their Jesmonite inner piece to harden, the girls started mixing resin for the outer layer.

resin play christmas ornaments making

After another round of mixing sparkles and pouring into the Christmas bauble mould, they had to leave their pieces overnight to dry.

Finally, tadaa!

resin christmas decor

They had such good fun at Resin Play making their very own Christmas decor. I personally think holidays should have a good mix of ‘creating’ and ‘consuming’ moments – do you agree?

sisters at resin art studio

If you’re keen to find out more about Resin Play’s workshops, hop over here!

Disclaimer: Resin Play kindly sponsored this workshop for us to try the experience ourselves, but the opinions are my own. 

 

Developing closeness in your marriage requires adding and eliminating

growing in intimacy

We have been married for 12 years. Family life feels familiar, safe, like a well-loved blanket.

Hubs and I may be lovers but we also feel like besties. I feel I can talk to him about anything.

One day, I told him about a conversation I had with an acquaintance about one of our kids. This kiddo is high in his need for control, and one of the ways that we’ve managed this very real need is to give him control over when to do his work, how to plan his schedule, and what skills he wishes to learn.

Hubs laughed and said, “That’s me too. I’m like that.”

“I know!” I replied.

Intimacy is the sense of another person fully knowing you, and loving you because of who you are—as well as in spite of it. This requires taking a leap into rare honesty and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. (Source)

Indeed, one cannot achieve true intimacy without knowledge and understanding of the other personknowing who your spouse is, what makes them tick, what makes them come alive.

But one cannot be fully known if one does not let yourself be seen. So intimacy requires us to be vulnerable about our weaknesses, flaws, and even insecurities.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown writes:

To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.

Vulnerability is indeed hard and uncomfortable. In fact it took a long time for me to feel safe enough to let go of the protective layers I held over myself.

Thankfully, hubs carved a safe space for me. A space where I could go just as I am, unafraid of being judged or criticised, a little cave where I could feel loved, understood and accepted.

13 ways to add trust and intimacy in a relationship

We deepen our trust and intimacy whenever we:

1. Turn toward each other more than you turn away (video). As Daphne de Marneffe writes in her book The Rough Patch, “Couples turn away from each other for any number of apparent reasons, but underneath it all, it’s usually because they feel misunderstood, unheard, or unable to agree.”

2. Support each other in times of failure or discouragement.

3. Establish rituals of connection, like a goodbye hug or a 10-min chat before bed.

4. Speak well of each other, especially in front of others.

5. Believe in the otherand express that in words or actions.

6. Express who we really are and what we really feel inside (even when it may lead to a disagreement).

7. Celebrate each other’s successes, however small.

8. Sit with the other person’s emotionseven if you feel just as lost or hopeless just make an effort to not turn away or shut the emotions out.

9. Express unconditional acceptance of each other.

10. Practise listening without judgment. Whenever we do this, we provide a safe space for more sharing and disclosure to happen in future.

11. Acknowledge and appreciate the other’s strengths.

12. Make time for things that each other enjoys (including sex of course).

13. Forgive, often.

Eliminate these top 5 intimacy stealers

1. Digital devicesYes, digital devices are so sexy that they often tend to divide and isolate even the best of us. Keep them away from bedrooms if possible, and especially during date nights or movie nights with your spouse. This tells your partner that your eyes are for him/her only.

2. Ignoring your spouse when he/she is trying to talkNot really listening counts to. We all know when someone isn’t really listening to us, even when they give eye contact.

3. Frequent and drawn-out cold warsCold wars, if frequent, can drain the passion and energy from a marriage. It can make us question the strength of our marriage and doubt or distrust our partner. To resolve the issues, communication is key, and here I’m going to use the analogy of the golden ring (The Rough Patch, Marneffe).

In the golden ring mindset, “partners figuratively stand alongside each other and look together at their shared problem, collaborating rather than competing.” I love this analogy because each partner brings their need into the ring and are able to think about the problem more objectively.

4. CriticismFrequently criticising your partner or putting them down (especially in public) can make them feel insecure and unappreciated. Instead of being blowing up flaws or negative traits, try to add more positive and affirming words to your vocabulary. This doesn’t mean that you sweep all the negative things under the carpet; there is still a time and place for dealing with certain recurring issues. But do so with love, compassion, and respect as it will allow your partner to be less defensive and more open to feedback.

5. Ignoring small problemsIs there something you wish he would do but he doesn’t? Or does he do something that annoys you to no end? (Maybe leaving his dirty clothes around the house?) If the issue is a nagging one and it’s causing resentment, it may be better to nip it in the bud. Find a time/place that is conducive for talking and give each other a headsup so you’re prepared. (Try the ring analogy I shared in point 3.)

What is one thing that has helped you grow closer to your spouse?

Do you notice and affirm your child doing good?

Do you hold certain stereotypes of your child?

I do.

I tend to think my boys just cannot organise themselves well, and are generally quite messy.

Just this week, however, one of them proved me wrong.

When scooping out yoghurt for himself and his siblings, he took care not to drip the yoghurt on the table. When he needed to grab another spoon to clean out the yoghurt spoon, he asked for help to hold that spoon. When he came back, he gingerly cleaned out the yoghurt spoon.

When I saw the amount of care he put into this simple action, I was surprised. And I said, “Wow, JJ, I like how you scooped the yoghurt so carefully and cleanly.”

This is one of the first few times I have used those adjectives on him. He was probably surprised too.

It taught me not to hold on to my stereotypes of him so tightly. Because every person has the potential to transcend the limits we place on them in our minds.

It also taught me to open my heart to see and behold the good.

Our children are capable of growth; they are capable of doing great things, if only we will let them out of the box we have placed them in in our minds.

notice the good in your child2

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Phil 4:8

We Should Do More Than Go Back To Normal

Over the past two months, we’ve gotten used to new norms – one marked by mask wearing, social distancing, online food and grocery ordering, home-based learning and working, and sending (and receiving) yummy gifts to each other.

It has been different, uncomfortable at times, but definitely different.

We live in unprecedented times. But the times has also revealed many things to us – the cracks within our society and system, the inequalities that exist, the deep biases and prejudices we still hold about others.

In some cases, it has brought our families closer, as we made conscious decisions to overcome certain emotional struggles or baggage that we’ve been carrying.

In other cases, it has torn people even further apart.

All of us long for the good ol’ days, when we could meet our friends and loved ones at will, hang out at a nice cafe, enjoy a sumptuous brunch, and talk or bond over fun games and funny stories.

We long for normal. For shopping Saturdays, and lazy Sunday mornings. For good food and wine and ambience and service.

But for others like our migrant workers, their normal was hard and rough work for 6 days a week. Their normal did not include hanging out at attas cafes, shopping in swanky malls, bubble tea on demand, or even taking time off work for special occasions. Their normal was a whole lot harder and less palatable.

I don’t know about you but this Circuit Breaker has taught me some lessons on how we can do life – as a family or as an individual.

1. It has taught me to be kinder (even when others aren’t).

You just never know how dire another person’s home situation may be. It’s tempting to take offence and react, but in such times I think it’s wiser to simply walk away from a tense situation/person.

2. It has taught me to really feel what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes.

Before this, we never thought about migrant workers, much less talked about them. They were an invisible part of society, although the products of their labour are visible and enjoyed by us all.

Also when walking with friends who may be suffering losses of their own, I’m learning to be slow with my words or advice, choosing instead to feel their pain, to listen wholeheartedly, and to sit with them even when I don’t know what to say.

3. It has taught me that I need less than I think.

Although we took some time to adjust to staying and studying and working at close proximity, it felt like we had everything we needed because we had each other to hold on to.

The kids had each other to talk and play with so they never complained of boredom. They also had sufficient devices to study with so it was still manageable. We really have a lot more than we imagined, and also need a lot less.

4. It has taught me to dig deeper into the Word and the love of God.

When times are uncertain, we tend to grasp at the things we can control. This pandemic has taught me that there’s very little indeed that is within our control, so for the rest we need to trust and lean on God. He knows our needs and our deepest fears, and he loves each of us more than we’ll ever know. I’m trying to read more of His word daily and commit my worries to Him.

5. We are more adaptable than we think.

When CB started, I warned my children than some foods that we used to enjoy may no longer be available. At one point, it was difficult to get a certain brand of pasta and sauce that they liked. But you know what, we all rolled with the punches.

I also thought they wouldn’t be able to wear a mask for the entire duration of school, but they did! So yes, we are all adaptable creatures, and sometimes crisis forces us to think outside the box and be creative.

As I shared in this Salt & Light article, my daughter was at first resistant and grouchy about having to do home-based learning. In her own words, “I just don’t like change.” But she also enjoyed the time she had at home to bake bread and cookies, and make terrazzo jewellery.

6. In light of the bigger problems of the day, I’m learning to worry less about my child’s academic progress.

They’ve adjusted back to school, alternating weekly. They’re coping well with the new rules in school, and are generally healthy and happy. It may seem so basic but I’m grateful for these little things. As long as they are responsible with their school work and learning, and are thriving mentally and emotionally, I’m letting go of the rest.

Grades and all seem to pale in light of health and social issues, don’t you think?

teach kids to change the world with kindness

 

Though we all say we want things to go back to normal, I think we should turn “normal” upside down.

I don’t want to be too idealistic here, but I’m talking baby steps. Perhaps get to know some of the workers living or working in the neighbourhood, be able to exchange greetings and a wave. And maybe when this pandemic is over, even share a meal or drink sometime.

Make a bigger effort to expand our social circle to include friends and neighbours whom you’d never have thought of including before.

Try to reuse and recycle more, especially with the rise in use of plastics and waste generation.

Love and give more generously of our time, money, and energy.

Just small intentional steps…May we never forget the lessons we’ve learnt through this crisis. May the lessons and stories be remembered and used to bless the needy and even our future generations.

How to make school reopening safe for everyone in COVID-19 season

Next week, my eldest will be heading back to school. She’s confident that she can wear the mask for the entire day, but I bought a face shield for her just in case. I will also pack 2 disposable masks in case her cloth one gets dirty or damp with sweat.

  • School bags packed – almost
  • School shoes – check
  • Snack box – check
  • Stationery – check
  • Sanitiser – check
  • Homework – check
  • empty Ziploc bag (Labelled, for storing mask during PE) – check
  • 2 Ziploc bags with extra disposable mask in each, in case a change is needed – check

*Ziplocs should ideally be wide enough to slip in a mask easily without folding it.

I asked her how she was feeling and she said:

  • Happy – to see her friends again in real life after only zoom meetings and virtual play dates
  • Scared – “What if I get the virus?”
  • Irritated – have to wear mask the whole day

Still despite the mixed feelings, I get the sense that she’s generally looking forward to getting a slice of normal back.

While some kids just can’t wait to get back to their school routines, many parents are feeling worried.

“School where got safe distancing? Still 30-40 kids in a class what?”

“Kids where got hygiene standards? Cough into the air or in someone’s face also!”

It’s true. If you want to talk about worries, the list can be endless. But let’s focus on what we can do to stay safe.

Here is my wish-list regarding school reopening in Phase One:

  1. Stagger recess timings such that only 1 primary level is in the canteen at any time. (Many schools already implementing this)
  2. Allow flexibility for children to have recess in class (for those who have packed food from home).
  3. Stagger drop-off timings, or demarcate different areas for parents to pick up different primary level kids.
  4. Allow sufficient catch-up time’ for students who may have had difficulties completing their homework. So they don’t feel unnecessarily stressed at having to hit the ground running.
  5. I hope teachers don’t zoom straight into full-on academic learning. Instead, spend some time reflecting on our individual and collective COVID experiences in class. Maybe even using it as a starting point to talk about the different emotions as well as challenges that we’ve experienced during the circuit breaker period.

But what about those weeks where they have HBL? From my position as a WFH mum, here’s what’s on my wish-list:

  1. Streamline HBL and limit to 1 or 2 different platforms per day, so it doesn’t wreak too much tech-havoc in the family.
  2. Allow kids to hand in work physically the following week, instead of emailing or uploading onto Google drive. Remind them to store homework in individual subject folders.
  3. Instead of meeting kids on Zoom all at one go (with younger kids, it gets too noisy, and it’s mostly one-way lecturing by the teacher), engage kids in small groups (about 5 pax) so that each child gets a chance to speak up, ask a question or clarify anything they don’t understand. You may say, “so time consuming”, but at this point I think fewer but better quality interactions matter.

What about you? Are you feeling more relieved or worried? What is on your wishlist?

**Here’s little Josh happy with his new face shield. Because he’s in Primary 1, and less likely to be able to wear a mask for the entire day, I got him this as an added option. It props up on his head well, so he can eat comfortably with this too.

Face shield

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