One big beautiful mess

Kids thrive in mess. That’s why they don’t need to be taught how to make a mess on a daily (or hourly) basis.

It’s us uptight mums who get frustrated by mess, especially when we are the ones who do the cleaning up. I mean, we get the kids to take on the responsibility too but who am I kidding if I say that happens 100% of the time.

And holidays, topsy turvy schedules, parties, and cough bugs, and gifts (ahem) make for a mega-mess.

After three kids, you’d think that I’d have learnt by now to “let it go.” Mess? Dive in it! Throw it all up in the air!

Even the hubby, who is some kinda rare, neat, organised man, says to me, “Let it be messy, don’t worry about it now.”

But although the mummy sees it as stress, the kids love mess.

My daughter is one creative mess monster. Her stickers, doodles, artwork, lie in secret corners of the bookshelf, waiting to be uncovered.

My super-hero-loving boy’s toy cars and lego bits lie everywhere. He brings a different toy to the dining table each meal and leaves them there. On bad days, the table is overtaken by toys, pencils, craft works and other things that we have to shove to one corner to make space for dinner.

What mess, mummy??

What mess, mummy??

And the baby well…is just going about his baby ways. He finger feeds himself 30-50% of each meal, and post-meal carrots, broken vegetable bits, and pasta lie on the floor like prisoners of war. Naturally, he relishes my look of horror whenever he smears his face or head with food bits, and even tries to mess up my hair along with it.

Deep breath. I wish I could let it all go. But it gets to me.

Simplify and declutter is my new mantra. We simply have too much. (I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the blessings and love that family and friends shower on the kids, but really living with heaps of toys is a whole different ballgame.)

The kids have become mildly obsessed with their new toys and I’ve had to give at least two lectures this past week on how our siblings, who are alive and kicking, are infinitely more important than the cute things that we now suddenly possess. I’m not entirely sure they are getting it…but I pray some day they will.)

I look around the house and I can’t help but feel grumpy. Every day I’m cleaning out some cupboard, packing away old and misfit toys, and clearing old clothes. Upkeeping a house with three kids is truly stretching my organisation skills to the max. (Whatever little organisation skills I have anyway.)

But…

I will  relax and roll with it.

Life is not perfect. Our house will not be a perfectly clean and tidy space. And I can accept that. I can relax a little, look past the mess, maybe cover both eyes if I have to.

I will work towards simplicity.

I will tackle one corner, one basket of things, one clothes cupboard at a time. I will work towards a simple life and home, one that’s not so much filled with things, but filled with love.

I will love, in spite of the mess.

Heck, parenthood is messy business. But there’s not just the mess and dirt and grime and tears. There’s also the fun, love, and laughter that happens every single day. I will choose to relish that.

When Jesus came down to earth, He came down to mess. The human race is known to be extremely capable when it comes to making mess. But He dived into it all, and mingled with the worst of our kind – tax collectors, prostitutes, you name it.

He didn’t approve of it. But He didn’t stand in the corner and judge. He worked with the people, some of the hardest and messiest folks – infinitely harder than my five-, three-, and one-year-old.

That makes me realise. I can actually work with them through the mess. I don’t have to do it on my own, and feel disgruntled. I can get them involved in small phases, small steps. And learn to have fun in the process.

Since we live together, we’ll deal with it together.
One messy pile at a time.
And while we’re at it, we might even have a bit of fun, or learn something.

I am hopeful.

2015, here we come. Mess or no mess, I will embrace the imperfections of our little family, and stretch my muscles to love and extend grace.

Blessed 2015, friends. (Leaving you with a quote from Dr Seuss…)

mess is so big and so deep and so tall

On what Advent really means

What is the significance of Advent?

To be honest, even after some 15-odd years of Christian-hood, I’ve never thought much about the season of Advent. Until we moved to an Anglican church, we barely knew about its existence! (The Anglicans are known to hold some traditions dearly, and Advent is one such big tradition.)

According to Google, Advent is:

  1. the arrival of a notable person or thing.
  2. the first season of the Church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

A notable person – that would be Jesus…

My church bulletin reads, “Advent has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate the birth of Jesus. Kicking off the Christian year, it is a time for us to go back and enter again into that point in history before the first Christmas, to reflect on the first coming of the Messiah, Saviour, and King.”

Reflect. Contemplate. Prepare.

I don’t know about you, but amidst the humdrum of activities, shopping, parties, and general feasting, I often forget. I prepare the house, the tree, the food, the presents. But somewhere along the way, Jesus gets left behind. My heart gets left behind.

So…

nativityIn order to help myself remember Jesus and the message of love and hope He brings, I’ve thought of some simple things we can do as a family:

  1. Ask God for a fresh vision and appreciation of the nativity story
  2. Think about ways to respond to Him in light of His love
  3. Think about ways to show appreciation to those who have invested in your life
  4. Talk to your kids about why and how you are planning to show gratitude to these special people
  5. Count your blessings
  6. Think about those from whom you may need to seek forgiveness, or a relationship that may need mending. Call that person or write a little note if that’s easier for you.

 

** For more ideas on how to make Christmas more meaningful, do read A Juggling Mom’s post on random acts of kindness.

For a DIY Advent Calendar with craft ideas + simple bible verses that you can follow, hop over to Growing with the Tans!

For hand painted Christmas canvases that links the alphabet with Christmas themes, head over to Growing Hearts 123.

I hope you have a good time remembering the reason behind this season with your loved ones!

Little Lessons: Slowing down and taking stock

Time flies. Two more days and we say hello to December.

Where did all that time go?

Four more weeks, and we’ll usher baby Joshua into this world. (It’s taking me all my wits to not work myself into a frenzy, and getting caught in the “things I need to do before I pop” mania.)

Some days, the little ones teach me to take life a little slower.

They who are always in their own worlds, exploring with their itsy bitsy fingers, figuring out new ways to play old things.

They who seem to constantly defy the demands of time.

They who are naturally curious.

The most beautiful, inspiring parts of childhood are best enjoyed in a leisurely manner. A walk in the garden is punctuated with stops and starts, “mummy look at this”, and curious pokes at leaves and twigs.

I hope I never rush them to grow up. (Although I must admit one of my most frequently-used phrases is “Quick, hurry up!”)

Having kids…actually force us to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

Some of us lay our careers on the line; some of us sacrifice our desires for further study or personal development; some of us place our dreams on the backburner, hoping for that one day where we will get to rekindle them again.

Life is never quite the same after kids.

They teach me to schedule in play and down-time, ignore the ticking clock and burgeoning to-do lists, and learn to appreciate the wonder of even the mundane everyday things.

Mummy, that cloud looks like a rabbit with three ears!

How come that tree is so tall?

When will we be able to go to the moon? Do we need a ladder?

Often, we who are jaded and tired wish they would stop asking, stop wondering. Still despite myself, I learn to set my own worries aside when the kids ask me for a bedtime story.

At bedtime, I try to be present in those dark, quiet moments too, thanking God for the day we had, or just praying in my heart for the kids. (We can never do this enough, can we?)

When they’re finally asleep, I can ruffle their hair, take in their fuzzy kiddy smells, and then head out to the world again to tackle the tasks I have ahead.

Kids are funny like that. They have the ability to wear you out. They also have the ability to charge you up again.

They may slow you down in some aspects, but they also give you new hope and energy to build a stronger family and a better future.

“The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” – unknown

~~~

In the spirit of slowing down and focusing on the things close to my heart, I will be doing a wrap up on Little Lessons for the year.

Tomorrow I will share 3 Little Lessons posts by other mums that spoke to me, plus 2 of my own.

Come first and second week December, I have a few giveaways in store. And for the rest of the month, I will be preparing both home and heart for baby’s homecoming. (I may still write about the things that inspire me this season or share some thoughts here and there.)

Most of all, it’s a time of Thanksgiving, and I wish to thank you guys for journeying with me, and showing your love and support.

A little thought came to me one day:

Though the journey of parenting may be full of challenges and change, it is above all a journey of love. When God “multiplies”, he also multiplies the love. When he gives the gift of a child, he also gives us the supernatural ability to love and nurture him.

And that’s a promise I’m clinging to this season. 🙂

This Christmas,

  • May you be able to focus on the things that matter, and be able to sift out the things that don’t.
  • May love and peace fill your heart and home.
  • May you find delight and satisfaction in all that you undertake.
  • May we do small things with great love.

mamawearpapashirt

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Strawberry dreams and a prayer of blessing

We just got home from our first kiddy Christmas party!

As I tucked Vera to bed, and said “sweet dreams”, she surprised me by saying this:

“strawberry dreams…and lollipop dreams, mummy”

So that’s what little girls dream about at this age…

Right now, I’m dreaming about the brand new year. That is going to become reality in a week’s time, so I’m giving myself a little bloggy break to reflect upon the year and to set some fresh goals for 2013. Meanwhile, I want to leave a simple prayer of blessing for all of you.

~~~

May the stars twinkle brightly in the night

and leave a joyful trail for you to follow.

May the rays from a new dawn warm your toes

and remind you of the hope that lies in every tomorrow.

May garden butterflies put a skip in your steps

especially when the journey is long and narrow.

And may you be reminded of His everlasting love

each time you catch a glimpse of rainbow.

~~~

Blessed Christmas and new year, friends. And oh, sweet strawberry dreams too.

Love, from all of us at home.

10 surefire ways to enjoy Christmas

(This photo was taken at Tanglin Mall last week. We let the kids have a later-than-usual bedtime just so they could see and play with the “snow”)

1. Scrap the rest of your to-do list and just do what you feel like doing (Be honest, those to-dos were never really that exciting anyway.)

2. Don’t check your emails when you’re on holiday / leave (Difficult, I know. But still possible to limit your email time, right?)

3. Don’t go last minute gift shopping (I speak from experience. I no longer dare to even venture anywhere near crowded malls. 😛 )

4. No presents? Bake, make or just wing it…

5. Simplify your activities and schedule this Christmas. If necessary, say no.

6. Schedule in fun and enjoyable activities like a Christmas movie night! Or creating a memorable family tradition.

7. Make it a point to show appreciation to your loved ones, even in simple ways.

8. Think of the less fortunate around you, and see if you can spread some cheer by doing something for them

9. Do something spontaneous – like take everybody out for ice-cream (with chocolate or rainbow sprinkles!)

10. Wherever you are right now, take 5 minutes, close your eyes and think of the many blessings in your life (your spouse, children, family, friends, work, health, home, whatever that comes to mind). Thankfulness is the key to joy, especially during this season.

There. I think I came up with this list for myself as much as I did for you. The season can get stressful but I’m trying my hardest not to let that get in the way of truly remembering the reason why we celebrate Christmas – because of the love that came from above.

Have a blessed week, friends!

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