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

Little Lessons: Discovering your child’s talents and gifts

Vera was busy painting last Sunday.

rainbow painting

When I asked her about her artwork, she said:

“Someone squeezed this black thing here (which looks like an ink jar to me…) and a rainbow shoots out!”

I was a little surprised at how she got the idea of squirting a rainbow out from a little black pot. But I just stood back and let her do her thing. Occasionally, I glanced over just to see how she’s going.

After she was done, I asked her what were the two things jumping on the rainbow. (I honestly thought they were monkeys…) She said they were water droplets since a rainbow is formed from droplets in the air, and light shining through them. (She had just been learning about the water cycle at school.)

I just stood and examined the finished piece. We’ve long realised that she’s interested in art, and loves to doodle and draw on her own. Obviously since the days of Frozen, everything has to do with princesses and castles and snow and kings and queens. But occasionally, she goes and draws something out of the blue – like this one.

She loves rainbows. She always has. (Maybe it has something to do with Aunty Waijia’s A Taste of Rainbow book that she read long ago.)

I remember thinking sometime back about discovering each child’s interests and area of giftings – yes it might seem a little young to jump to conclusions about where these may lie, but I think what they naturally like to do, and also seem to excel at, give us some handles to go by.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve done much to hone her interest in art. I’ve pretty much provided the paints, different media for her to paint on, and sometimes we paint twigs, leaves, and other little things that we pick from the park. Yes we also love to do simple crafts at home. But that’s about it. I think it’s time to pick up some art books from the library.

At some point in the near future, I’d love to bring her to take up some formal art lessons, but for now I am enjoying watching her express her ideas and personality through her paintings and drawings. It’s raw, childlike and gives me a window into her thoughts and feelings too. It’s also a joy to behold, every new piece is like a little surprise. I hope she continues to love and express herself through art.

This is Little Lessons #22, which runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections / learning activities below!

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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.”

Little Lessons: Kids can be a great make-up tool

I remember the time when Vera and JJ received a lollipop each from a kind elderly lady on the street. It happened out of the blue and before I knew it, the kids were holding their lollipops with glee all over their faces. I gave the husband the eye when he said nothing and just allowed the kids to hold on to their precious candy. I opened my mouth and was about to say my peace when he suddenly exclaimed, “just relax lah, okay.”

I was taken aback by his angry tone, so taken aback that I stormed off and walked home first, without waiting for everyone. (Not very gracious I know…)

I confess, I’m a nazi when it comes to sweets. All manner of them are banned from my home. I do allow the kids chocolate and biscuits though, and we have a small tin of goat’s milk sweets that they get treated to on occasions too.

I digress.

Back home, I shut myself in the room, just seething inside. When the clan got home, I didn’t even go out to see them. I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

Then came a knock on the door. Vera popped her head in and said, “Mummy?”

I asked her to come in. She came to stand beside my bed, where I was seated. Then she said, “Are you still angry? Papa asks you not to be angry anymore…”

Then she grinned. And I did too. As if on cue, the husband waltzed in. He peeked and saw the coast was clear. He sat down beside me, rubbed my shoulders and apologised for what he had said. Of course, I was already disarmed by our little girl.

Plus it was hard to act angry while smiling.

“Okay,” I said sheepishly.

And that was how we made up.

So, don’t underestimate your little ones. They could be little agents in disguise. 😉

little agents in disguise

This is post #17 of our weekly Little Lessons series. If you have a life lesson to share with us, please link up below!

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A surprise visit and learning to love nature

We woke up one morning to find a pair of tree squirrels scampering up and down the trees in our estate, and skipping gracefully across some temporary electricity cables.

I know squirrels aren’t exactly a rare sight in urban Singapore, but we were excited to see them up close and personal.

(This is our second sighting of something remotely wild in our neighbourhood. The first was a barn owl who had stopped by our neighbour’s house, and perched on their window-sill for an entire morning of sleep.)

From this encounter, JJ learnt a new word. “Skeechel,” he kept repeating, while pointing at his new furry friends.

It also made me wish that we stayed in a less urban environment. A place where perhaps the kids could get to meet with little furry or feathered creatures on a daily basis.

Singapore is a beautiful and well-planned city, and I’m always thankful for the abundant parks and green belts that are just a stone’s throw from where we live. Every weekend, we make it a point to bring the kids to the parks or gardens, to help develop their love for nature.

I especially love bringing my boy out for nature walks. He’s curious about everything and roams like a ranger out hunting for treasure. He acts like every twig, leaf, and flower is calling out to be touched.

I guess the boy could be a nature lover. (Or perhaps all boys are?)

He’s always digging his grubby fingers into the dirt, bushes, leaves, sand and water. I used to think he’s a naturalistic learner, but it could be that he’s just curious and likes the great outdoors because it gives him space to run and tumble. Still, he does seem to be interested in trees and flowers, and especially, sand…

really diggin' this

Oh, and let’s not forget water.

fort1

When the kids are older, I’ll probably start getting my own fingers dirty, and learn how to pot some plants and herbs at our balcony.

I reckon it’ll be fun too, to bring them painting in the great outdoors, so they can draw the trees, skies, flowers, and birds, and whatever else catches their fancy.

Do you think it’s important for kids to be close to nature? How can we try to incorporate nature into our daily lives?

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