Z’s First Week in School

Thought I should weigh in on the first weeks in school before I forget to capture this milestone!  So yes, Z has been going to school since the first week of January and I couldn’t be happier! After months of feeling this weird, contradictory I-want-him-to-grow-up-and-go-to-school-but-he’s-still-a-baby-and-I-will-miss-him tug of war in me, it has finally come that he’s packed and sent off to school.  He was reeeally excited about him being a big boy and following Jiejie to school for the first day.  After that, not so much.  I guess he figured out school is over-rated and he’d rather stay home with mummy and go to the playground everyday.  He’s really quite poor thing also cuz I just pushed him to go for the full-day programme from 9 am – 2 pm as I didn’t want to pick him up at 12 pm.  Cuz… I’m lazy to walk down twice and pick K up at 2 pm.  Heniways… so that’s the situation.  And the first day of school, he was so overly-stimulated that he slept… in Chinese class… Carrying on his father’s proud tradition of frustrating the Chinese teacher, I see… But he’s been good since then.  A bit of crying and clinging in the mornings when I drop him off, but with a bit of distraction by godsend Teacher C, his attention is soon drawn elsewhere to something more fun than crying.  And it’s awfully sweet when he exclaims “I love you Mama!” when I pick him up in the afternoons.

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First days in school working with the Knobbed Cylinders

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He’s pretty good at self-feeding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really proud of K as well… Apparently, Z just follows her around school like a little duck glued to his Mother Duck.  And K is taking on her role as Big Sis very seriously.  But just that day, she said, “I think I’ve had enough of Didi following me in school.  Can you let him stay at home please?”  Aww… honey… Nope.  He’s been following me around for 2 years.  It’s time to share the love.

Just like that… it’s a new season – the schooling season.  The physical clinging ons and childcaring season is sorta behind me.. It’s a little bitter that the baby years are so short, somewhat sweet that the baby years are so short, mixed with some regrets that I could have done it better with more cheer, laced with relieve and thankfulness that in my trial-and-error methods in feeding, bathing, sleeptraining, no small helpless baby was harmed in the process.  At the risk of being frustrating and irritating to newer mummies (or mummies caring for their more laterborns), I still have to say, “This too, shall pass… and you will look back on this period with rose-tinted glasses and say, those were good times…”

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Aw man… think I just had a glimpse into how the empty nest season will look like.
:~(
*Just reading through some of my old posts and it’s amazing what a long way we’ve come. It’s a good reminder to live in the now instead of reminiscing about the past or  anticipate the future.  May you too, find fulfilment in whichever part of the journey you’re on!*

We Can Be Like Lee Kuan Yew

I am a lot more affected by the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew than I expected to be.  While I’ve enjoyed reading the various tributes and tidbits of his life, I am most saddened by the poignancy of life and the inevitability of death. I’ve suddenly realized, ah… Death also comes to such a giant as he;  one day it will come to me as well.  Perhaps that explains why I couldn’t finish reading the story “I’ll Love You Forever” to my kids today without choking up. One day, my children will grow up and I will grow frail and weak and will pass on, just like LKY.

I’m not a great wordsmith or writer but I just wanted to pen a few thoughts running through my mind today as I was obsessively going through article after article about LKY.  Here are 3 things I noted about him as a man and what we can all learn from him.

1. LKY had vision and passion.  
LKY had a vision of where he wanted to bring Singapore to while others couldn’t see it yet.  With a clear vision, he was able to lead with boldness and conviction.  With a clear vision, he was able to channel his passion and bring others along with him into making Singapore from third world to first.

It’s fortunate that having a vision is not limited to great minds like LKY.  As ordinary people, we can and should have extraordinary vision and passion – for our families, our workplaces, our communities.  Without vision (in other translations vision = revelation, divine guidance, prophetic vision) the people cast off restraint.  If we don’t know where we are going or what we are supposed to be doing, then we are running around in our busyness like headless chickens.  What is your definition of success?  Do you know what you want to see in your children in 20 years?  I may not see a teacher or a lawyer but whoever K and Z become, I hope they will find their divine calling, stay close to God and be generous and joyful.

2. LKY was not just a speaker but a doer.
LKY was a great orator.  But more than a politician’s words, he made sure he and his people did the doing and the building.  They built HDBs, set up government offices, schools, industries and multi-racial communities.

What am I building today that will last beyond my lifetime?  Conversely, what am I tearing down with my words, my complaints, my sarcasm?

3. LKY was first and foremost a husband and a father.  
His love story with his wife moves me most.  That they were both esteemed so highly in each other’s eyes, that they chose to place each other’s needs above their own are beautiful building blocks of a successful and long-lasting marriage.  That LKY and KGC were husband and wife and parents first stood out most for me.  Am I the best version of myself to my husband and children?

LKY and KGC

While LKY is an exceptional leader, he was also extraordinary in the ordinary things – things that you and I can do.  Unlike LKY, I won’t be a well-loved leader of a nation but like him, I can be an extraordinary spouse and parent. Unlike LKY, I won’t have a state funeral but like him, death will come upon me someday.  Unlike LKY, I won’t have accolades pouring in from around the world, but like him, if I can be fondly remembered by a few good friends, my children and family can call me blessed, and my husband esteems me highly, I think I can be happy with that kind of a full life.

Thank you Mr Lee for demonstrating that 1 man, 1 family, 1 generation of pioneers and leaders, 1 small country, when imbued with a spirit of excellence and tenacity, can achieve great things.

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Z in cot

3 Things I’ve Learnt About Sleep Training

I had the perfect set up with K and Z sleeping on their own in separate rooms. Previously, I had managed to sleep train Z that I could put him down sleepy but awake in his cot and he would go sleep by himself.  But after Hong Kong where we all bundled up on the same bed, our friend, Z, has learnt that it is so nice to kuay sio (snuggle up amidst warm bodies) with a lot of people.  Thus, ever since we returned, he has been unable to sleep in his cot even after rocking and patting for hours (ok.  I exaggerate, more like 40 minutes of crying, which still seems like eternity)  So what we resorted to doing is to let him sleep in K’s room on her bed since she doesn’t like sleeping on it and I’ll have to pat him and stay with him till he falls asleep.  K too, has needed LimpehZ to accompany her till she sleeps.  This honestly isn’t the most optimal solution since some nights, we fall asleep and wake up disoriented and unrested at midnight.  I have also since moved my desktop out since it’s impossible to work with the 2 of them trying to sleep in the room.  Here are some reflections on the topic of sleep training my kids.

1. I cannot employ Cry-It-Out method beyond 8-9 months.

I’m a fan of sleep training.  I think God is merciful to me because I REALLY need my sleep.  If I don’t get sleep for 2 days, I go cranky and crazy and will give up all national secrets.  I tried the Babywise method and K started sleeping through at 4 weeks, Z a bit later at 3 months.  By 4 months for both babies, I was at the end of my tether.  I really couldn’t stand their incessant need to be rocked, carried and patted to sleep and when I gently put them down with bated breaths, they would wake up kicking and screaming because: How dare I put them down in the cot when they fell asleep?!  The atrocities of this universe!!  After a period of storming and norming and I kinda knew their pattern (chao kuan), I guess I could more or less tell when they really needed comfort and when they were just being bratty.  I tried the pat for 100 counts in my head (cuz it’s all the mind-numbing patting I could take at a time), then whether or not they fell asleep, I would put them down in the cot.  They will cry, of course, then I’ll pick them up after 10 minutes, soothe them, tell them I love them, then do it all over again.  First 2 days , I will take maybe 4-5 rounds of doing that before they fell asleep but after the third day, I saw a marked difference in the crying times and soon, the kids can be dropped in the cot and they would sleep on their own.  Yay!  Go me!!

Even for a hard-hearted mother like me, I was surprised at myself that I couldn’t use this method anymore once the kids reached an age where they are more responsive and… sentient?  It’s the age when they can call mama.  It’s as if they are not just screaming at the air but can direct their displeasure at someone.  When they scream for me specifically, I can’t help but give in to their pitiful cries.  So when we came back from HK and I tried to have Z sleep in his cot again, his emphatic screams for me just ripped my heart out and I couldn’t use the same method to train him again.  So that’s the end of CIO.  No choice.  He’s now muscled his way into his sister’s room, kicked her out of her bed and colonized it for himself.  But he’ll still need me to pat him and let him snuggle to sleep.

Worthless advice #1:  Use CIO when young and train them.  Don’t go to HK on extended holiday and ruin all the training.

2. Be patient with the child and yourself.  Sleep training can sometimes take a really long time.

When we were expecting Z, we were cheap and wanted to reuse the cot for him but didn’t want K to think we were taking her bed away from her to give to her brother.  So we bought her a mattress and told her months before Z’s arrival that she was now a big girl and can have her own bed.  But I think she was pretty overwhelmed at the sudden lack of boundaries and freedom and she came over every night to sneak into our bed.  Being really anxious about training her properly (I was somehow very fearful that if I didn’t nip this problem right now, she will still be sleeping with us till 16).  So I took it upon myself to march her right back to her bed when I found her at trying to sleep with us.  Then she would want me to lie down and sleep with her but I was also unwilling to do that.  There were a lot of tears and wailing and foolishly, I even tried locking her up with the Ikea safety gate, hoping she would cry it out and learn to sleep by herself again.  One day when being confined in her room with the safety gate, we left her to cry and we suddenly heard a loud plonk.  When we found her, she had landed on the floor, fortunately on her palms facing the floor (and not on the back of her head).  We found out later that she gripped the rail of the gate with her toes and somehow vaulted herself out.  Needless to say, that was the last we’ve seen of the gate.  She was about 18 months.  K took a long long time to learn to sleep on her own on the mattress, maybe say… almost a year!  But LimpehZ is her choice of companion so when she wakes up in the night, I will shove him out of bed.  “YOUR daughter is calling for you.”  😀

On hindsight, I think our mother-daughter fights started since then and I actually regret that whole period.  Why wasn’t I more patient with her?  Why couldn’t I see that she wanted me to be with her because she was scared and insecure?  Why was I so anxious for her to grow up and be independent when she clearly wasn’t ready?  I think… I really wanted to see myself as a strict (and maybe successful?) mother then.  Like, I really wanted people to see me and say she’s got it all together.  Her children eat so well and sleep on their own!  Etc etc…  Now I realize I can’t give 2 hoots about what people think of me.  What matters is what God and my children think of me.  Am I loving?  Am I patient, kind, long-suffering, gentle and humble?  Do I exhibit Jesus’ character? Probably not really at that time.  From then on, LimpehZ became K’s favouritest parent and I’m in the ranks of evil stepmother.  If I can turn back time, I will definitely try to be more loving and patient with helping her sleeping on her own.

With Z now, when he wakes up in the middle of the night crying, I will pack up all my stuff, make myself comfortable and lie near him.  Doing that makes him calmer faster and he settles back into sleep fairly quickly, without needing a bottle of milk.  It has worked so far and he only wakes up occasionally now when before, when we first came back, he would wake up 2-3 times every night if he realizes I’m not there.

Advice-you-can-consider #2:  Don’t do what I did with K and regret that you’ve been too harsh with your child.  They are only so small once.  Hold them while you still can and while they still want you to.  When they refuse to sleep on their own and you’re going crazy with lack of sleep, just take a deep breath, breathe in their baby sweetness and tell yourself, they won’t smell like that at 16 and you’re unlikely to have to do this till then.

3.  There is no (foreseeable) end to sleep training.  

Most parenting books only speak of sleep training for the first year.  No one ever mentions we will need to train them again and again thereafter!  I thought that after the first 4 months training them to sleep on their own, I would be set for life, but no… they suddenly change pattern and start waking up in the middle of the night.  Arrghh!!  What happened??  I guess… nothing major, just that your baby is growing up and they get more conscious and fearful of various things – it’s too dark; it’s too bright; doggie is not with me; daddy needs to sleep beside me etc.  At every stage, how we deal with their perceived fears do affect them.  Do we brush those pleas for help callously away and demand that they grow up and deal with it?  Do we go along with them and give validation to their irrational fears?  I don’t know and I suppose there’s a time and place for each response and you have to make that call as a parent.

Cover-all-grounds-hence-totally-useless advice #3:  Go with your parental instincts.  You know your child best.  

If you’ve persevered till the end of this post and feel like throwing your shoe at me for not learning anything, I’m sorry!  I guess it’s really all a learning process and every child is different right?  There’s really no one-size-fits-all method.  Learning from my mistakes, I think I will go with the gentler method of meeting the child’s calls for reassurance, however ridiculous or demanding they may seem.  As parents, by all means set standards and boundaries (e.g. for us, from day 1, we wanted to have our kids sleep independently on their own beds; no co-sleeping for us) but help them move towards these goals step by step as and when they are ready.  They will let you know and surprise you one day when they are.  As K said one day when she finally slept through on her own, “Mama, are you proud of me?  I slept well in my bed last night.”  Well done my child, well done…

Z in cot

Only realized it now. One of Z’s last few pictures of sleeping in his cot.

K and her best friend Spot

K and her best friend Spot

We are all good enough

Maybe it’s a foreign land, or it’s the break way from normal routine but every night as I put the kids to bed (we only have 1 bed so that’s where all of them bundle up and I have to stay in there with them till they fall asleep), I have time to think, to give thanks for yet another day that we are all safe and we are all together.  Did I mention my greatest fear was that I’ll lose my kids in Hong Kong?

Funny, cuz not too long ago, my greatest fear was not having kids.  How swift our fears change and morph every day and season.  3 years ago was a time of realization that some things in life – many things in fact – we have no control over.  E.g. that elusive A grade, that big promotion, that friendship, that relationship, having children… Really, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  What am I to do?  Kick and scream and whine (which I did a lot of) or say, “I give up.  I choose to trust that You are always good no matter what.”  While I thank God it was a relatively short time of waiting for K, it was a journey of faith that forced me to acknowledge God is sovereign and that if I cannot learn to release fears now, there will be so many other fears that will continue to plague me at every stage.

That joke scary truth about a mum with a newborn asking, “When will my life get back to normal?”  The answer is in 21 years or maybe never.  And it’s true.  From pre-conception to birth and beyond, from caring for an infant, toddler, preschooler and I expect for the rest of the kids’ lives and mine, I will always have fears.  Fear I may not carry till full term, fear that he/she may have developmental challenges, fear that he/she will not be smart enough, wise enough, kind enough, cute enough, loving enough, pretty enough, friendly enough, too friendly, too pretty, too cute, too kind that he/she gets bullied etc etc etc… Whatever your worry, I’m sure it’s valid.  And the fact is, sometimes, it does seem as the universe is conspiring against you and your children and there seems to be nothing you can do about it.

Except there is.  I need to choose to stop worrying and start trusting.  That the powerful and loving God I profess is big enough and He is on my side.  The Deliverer, Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Immanuel is on our side.  It is a daily battle to stop thinking toxic thoughts and step out of the fear but we have to win and overcome.  If anything, to show the kids that they can win and overcome their own fears too.  Then they will know that it doesn’t matter what their not-enoughs are – God is enough.  More than enough.


To my dear dear friends S and K:  as you carry your newborn darlings and start your first few months in the trenches, I pray you will start this journey knowing and believing you are good enough.  🙂  God will come through on your behalf and make up the rest.

Lunch with the Hubs! Free food for the win!

Running on Empty – Part II

As promised, this is the second part of the post, which was the start of my thoughts actually.  I was wondering why I felt so dry, so fatigued, so weary when I seemed to have quite the life I’m enjoying.  I’m quite purposeful (see Part I here) and I really don’t have a right to complain about how hectic this whole SAHM-ing thing this because… here is my confession:  I’m not ACTUALLY a true blue Stay-At-Home Mum.  Lol… *a clap of thunder* It’s true I’m not working to take care of my kids but I’m truly truly blessed that I’ve got an army of willing and available help.  Once a week, my mum takes the kids.  While I usually tag along to her house, I get the odd hour or two when the kids are napping to go for a haircut, do my nails (not all the time la… only when I have an event coming up and I have some appearances to keep up so I don’t look so… chui (haggard)…) or just sneak out for a much-needed bubble tea.  Then another day a week, my very capable in-laws gladly take both kids for a full day (my Mil has been a SAHM all her life and my Fil is recently retired) so between the 2 of them, my kids are well-entertained and indulged.  My Mil says, “It’s okay.  This is your off-day.”  WOW!!  Thanks!!  So I get to go out, traipse to my new favourite hangout – Chinatown (the most hips and haps place for… aunties?? Arrghh… I’ve joined their ranks!  I get supplies there for my new hobby), meet LIMPEHZ for lunch,

Lunch with the Hubs!  Free food for the win!

Lunch with the Hubs! Free food for the win!

or catch up with friends, even watch a movie (KENSHIN!)

ruruoni kenshin movie

Why so cool???

Unlike a good friend who has to tank 2 kids 24/7 (hats off to her!), I have it relatively easy. Because of all the help, in the last 2 years, I had the chance to do many things – I finished a 22 month Diploma in Montessori, which thank God I did well (or I will cry cuz it’s a lot of money…), dabbled in tuition for a while, helped my mum start her business (www.kaynzac.com), and am still dreaming up of some get-rich-quick, or rather, get-more-income-hopefully-in-the-near-future-while-I’m-still-alive-to-enjoy schemes, which LimpehZ will incessantly poke and prod at my schemes business ideas.

LimpehZ.  The Hubs.  The One whom I don’t rave about enough because I shy.  Lol… But really, he is The One who holds everything together – i.e. gives me money to spend. HAHAH… But seriously, more than just providing for the family financially, he pulls his weight at home.  With 2 kids now, it’s really man-on-man attack and defence.  His is usually the more challenging one – Miss K.  The way he is soooo patient with her crazy cranky tantrums, I’ve learnt a thing or two about handling her at her worst when she’s hysterical beyond reason.  The key is just crazy, over-the-top love, not reason.  To just patiently, calmly assure her of our love despite her bad behaviour is the only way to calm her down most quickly.  Did I just mentioned about him shooting down my business ideas?  I’m actually grateful for that because he isn’t just blindly encouraging in a disengaged fashion.  He really puts in effort and thought into what I’ve said, then gives an objective opinion about it.  He even goes steps further into giving constructive ideas and suggestions and often, it’s an angle that I wasn’t able to see myself.

While another friend commented that she feels she isn’t able to commit her whole life to just staying at home, I will be honest to say it doesn’t have to be ALL your life, ALL the time.  This is how I cope with the repetitive, lonely, sometimes mind-numbing aspects of staying home.  I’ve tried to do other things which serve to break up the monotonous routine.  I guess that’s how it kinda works out for me.  This isn’t about arguing if SAHMing is better, or FTWMing (full-time working mum) is superior but I guess it’s about finding balance and fulfilment in working (paid or volunteer) which keeps us engaged, relevant and informed.  After all, this is just a short season.  Who’s to say this is forever?  When the kids go off to school, there will always be opportunities to work again.

But even so, I was doing all these things, still try to have time for hobbies and dramas etc, but I was really weary and tired.  I didn’t feel refreshed by the dramas but got more worn out from them.  The more tired I got, the more my fuse with the kids become shorter. That’s when I knew I wasn’t being recharged.  All these activities, at best were mere fillers, at their worst, they were distractions from true rest.  So what was it that gave true rest?  For me, I knew what it was but have not been diligent in pursuing it daily.  It was prayer and bible-reading.  I saw a pattern: when I was consistent in connecting with God, I could handle most of what came my way.  Even if I couldn’t, I was able to respond in a chill manner.  But when I missed this time of recharging, every little thing that previously didn’t irk me started getting on my nerves.  K can do the same thing in the morning and I would be okay but when she does the same thing in the evening (the witching hour when the sun is setting; I don’t know… something about the sun and evening tantrums), I would blow up.  Ah… that’s when I realized, it’s not her, it’s me.

Then recently, LimpehZ and I started doing a short bible reading once a week.  I wanted like in depth bible study with a whole curriculum and worksheets and space to write my answers, but he was like, no need!  Let’s just go to the source and we’ll just discuss the passage.  So it’s been happening for a couple of weeks already and I must say, it is really good!  It was nothing fancy or complicated.  We’d just read a passage, discuss what struck a chord, shared what we felt God was saying in our situations and we prayed together.  That’s it.  I am beginning to understand the verse,

John 4:13-14

I know what recharges me, and ironically, what recharges me isn’t the easiest (or most fun) thing to do.  Sleep will refresh your body but do you know what recharges your soul and spirit?  What you have to do to regain that clarity of mind and vision?  Let’s do it so we can face the challenges of the day.  Everyday should be challenging, isn’t it?  So that we grow, we are stretched, our tents are extended, our spheres of influence enlarged. My favourite phrase is 休息是为了走更长远的路 (we have to rest in order to continue on this long journey).  This is my favourite phrase to justify why I sleep so much.  Heh… but really, rest and be refreshed so we are not running on an empty tank, only to be stranded within sight of our final goal; or worse, so tired that we can’t even recognise where we wanted to head to in the first place.

‘Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.’

sleeping soundly like a baby

I wanna sleep!! (not like a baby; they wake every 40 minutes!!!)

Running on empty – Part I

I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we are running at our optimal on a day-to-day basis? Do we even know what is our optimum?  Do we know what we are running for, why we are running?  What is the purpose?  I think these 2 questions are quite closely related and it’s important to answer why we are running before we answer the second question of how we are running.  [The how was what I was thinking about when I started writing, so if it feels a little disjunct, I apologize.  It will hopefully all be more cogent next week in the second part of the post.]

Why we are running is a question to do with purpose.  Some of you know that I was a teacher before this stint as a full-time mum (ok, stint sounds like this job is temporary. Then I take a look at my 2 puppies… Nope.  Not growing up anytime soon, so this full-time, stay-home thing is like, semi-permanent).  Teaching was way hard.  It’s a never-ending go-go-go kind of life that starts way before you reach the school.  In fact, it never ended from the night before!  You’re running through in your mind your first lesson of the day, the various admin matters you have to take care of.  If I get a first period free, that was great because I’m in the printing room furiously printing worksheets needed in the next 15 minutes.  If the machine breaks down… Dun dun dun dun….  Don’t worry don’t worry…  I’ve got a couple of English movies in my laptop that I can still whip out and plan my follow up lesson from there.  It’s called… winging it as I go along.  It’s all good cuz I teach English. If it was Math…  Not so good.  But still, no worries because I’ll be taking half the lesson berating the kids for not handing up their maths assignment.  That’s called – good classroom management.  And this frenetic pace will not end even till after school, after all my remedials, department and staff meetings, ccas, lesson prep for the next day, marking, setting papers.  Of course I still get lunch breaks and have nice times gossiping with my colleagues professional sharing with my colleagues (best part of the job) but you get the crazy pace of my day.  And my pet peeve when I’m going through my game plan for the day in the cab is for the taxi uncle to tell me, “Wah… Miss!  Very good hor.  1 pm can go home, still got holidays…  Being a teacher very ho tan…”  I feel like slapping him with a bloody, red-marked piece of composition.

sb-teacher-trap

Totally unrelated but it cracks me up cuz I do do that!

Life was hard.  It was so bad that every Sunday evening, I would get mildly (sometimes maniacally depressed and anxious) as I saw the sun going down and feel the last ashes of Sunday slipping away and I know Monday will come really really soon and there would be all the madness to contend with again.  There were nice kids, there were naughty kids. There were rebellious kids who couldn’t stand the sight of me, then there were the same rebellious kids whom somehow God changed our antagonistic relationship for the better.  Life was hard but there was purpose. So much purpose and meaning and then you look back and realize – hey!  Those were pretty amazing times when you poured yourself into a cause bigger than yourself and got something intangible.  Know that just by showing up, I (hopefully) enriched someone’s life and these amazing kids too – just by them coming to school, being in class made me happy.  That, plus having less admin to do chasing them down, [“Hello Sir, your son/daughter is not in school today…” *pregnant pause*  “WUT?? THEN WHERE WAS HE/SHE???”  *drama begins*]

Then I went to HQ and did an office job for 2 years.  I learnt a lot, like how to write a proper email;  how paragraphing is very important in a paper.  But it was the hardest 2 years in my job because I felt like quitting every day.  Ironically,  I got through the everyday in school because of the bond – when you have no way out, you tell yourself I’m not paying any money to escape.  I will survive and overcome.  But when you are bond-free…  Wow…  The possibilities are endless!  That’s when I found myself dragging my feet to work and I couldn’t see how I was doing anything meaningful – apart from not dropping the ball and make things inconvenient for my colleagues, I couldn’t quite see how I was making a difference.  Purpose.  I honestly think life’s too short to slog 8 -12 hours of your day at something you don’t believe in.  I’m not saying quit and not take care of your financial needs, but I think it’s good that once in awhile, we all evaluate to see if the choices we have made are making us happy.  If not, how do we then work ourselves out of it and get to someplace where we are more fulfilled, more in line with what we think we are supposed to be doing?  Hence, this explains why this is an evaluation kind of post.

Now that I’m here, I’m super happy.  Ok.  You probably can’t tell from all the griping on this blog.  But yes.  Everyday at about 9:30 pm, my happiness chart shoots all the way up because the kids are finally asleep and my life has just begun – not anything hiong like mountain biking or sky diving, just you know, stuff mums really find a luxury doing – eating Kinder Bueno UNINTERRUPTED, stuffing my face with potato chips, checking email, doing work (yes, it’s something I do AFTER the kids go to bed and it makes me happy), sewing, reading Facebook and watching kdramas without itchy, grubby fingers trying to pry the screen off your hands or bang and swipe with their palms and feet and hence, disconnecting you from Dailymotion, which took forever to load.  In the thick of the action, the tantrums and emotion, you can’t process the joy yet.  But at the end of the day when LimpehZ (my husband shall henceforth be known on this blog as his chosen namesake) asks how’s your day, you kinda just think back at all the cute moments, the ridiculous things they do (which led to the tantrum) and you splice your day and you can say, hey… despite all of the nonsense, it was a good day.  It was spent with them, in the trenches and in the hills.  I was there – in their ups and downs.  K said she loves me and gave me a heart.  In the next heartbeat, she said, “Stop singing! You don’t sing!”  I found out later that she didn’t like it when I ended the song.  Ok.  Like whatever.  Recently, she sits really close to me and I ask her why.  She says, “Cuz I like you.”  Aww…. And Z, Z, Z… where do I even start?  His “Mama…?” is enough to lift the dreariest spirits and make me go running (almost skipping) to wipe his dirtiest bottom.  Showing up for work and trying to bring my A game to these little people who need me gives me purpose and meaning.  When you find you can get through the roughest days and still find something to smile about and be thankful for, I guess you have found that sweet spot.  I am learning to embrace it, find respite in it, boast about it, not be falsely humble and feel bad about having happiness in a nation where complaining seems to be the national past time.  Changes hit us all the time whether we like or are prepared for them, so we might as well roll with them.  Rock on people!

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Why I Would Throw a (an elaborate) Birthday Party for a Kid

I used to think, why would kids need to celebrate their birthdays in school or throw an elaborate party complete with a bouncy castle, clown and fireworks?  After all, I didn’t have them as a child and I grew up fine.  I don’t think I was deprived and besides, my family made sure the day was remembered and celebrated.  But I did remember my 12th birthday when my youth group gave me a surprise party at my house on a weekday.  They (poor secondary school students and young working adults) even pooled money to get me rollerblades, which was like, way cool and awesome then okay…  I remember I felt really touched, not at the gift but at the effort and gesture of love.  Ahh…  So this is what it’s like to be surprised and celebrate birthdays with friends.

For K, I didn’t think I needed or wanted to throw an extravagant party for her.  In fact, I was a bit hesitant about throwing a party in her school, complete with cake and goodie bags for her friends.  Would it be spoiling her?  Am I doing this just because I cave in to peer pressure?  But since January, all her friends (Really.  ALL) will have some celebration.  They will walk around a “sun” x number of times depending on how old they are, representing x number of years has passed.  Then birthday girl/boy’s friends will gather round and and say “Happy Birthday” and he/she will sit on a chair and call out her friends’ names one by one to receive their goodie bags and they will hug him/her and wish him/her happy birthday.  It’s quite a well-rehearsed ritual, considering there are 30 students in her class, you’d think the kids will get bored of celebrating birthdays right?  But NO….  They are still crazy over it.  Crazy crazy.  Like stars-in-their-eyes-googly-crazy.  Especially K.  She was so excited at her birthday drawing nearer that everyday (for the past 8 months) she walked past the birthday calendar chart, she would point to her name and say, “My birthday is coming soon right?”  

So yes, she had her school birthday party, will be having a family birthday party, and another mini one at an indoor playground with her friends (ok, more like my friends with kids her age) during the September holidays and the idea was to keep letting her blow candles (her favorite part) and celebrate the momentous occasion.  I might have gotten carried away as well cuz’ since the idea is to GO BIG OR GO HOME right, I sewed her a birthday outfit – the Elsa dress (a poor imitation) to fit her Frozen theme.  Admittedly, it was because I procrastinated too much and cannot pre-order the dress in time. 

'THEE' Elsa Dress

‘THEE’ Elsa Dress.  Not quite the reaction I was hoping for, but she went wild and was super happy.  So I was pleased. 

 Her grandma spared no expense sourcing for gifts and packing the goodie bags.  (We did involve K in the work session of packing goodie bags and it was a good opportunity for her to practise counting and sorting.)  Is it extravagant?  Not in terms of money, but I think it exceeded my initial expectations in terms of effort.  But yes… It made her really really really happy so it’s all worth it.

Compilation of photos from K's birthday party in school

1. K’s Frozen birthday cake from Bengawan Solo.
2. Lots of kids crowding around the cake.
3. Walking around the sun very very very slowly, savouring her moment of glory.
4. K’s beloved teachers.
5. Z: Wait. What’s going on? It’s not my birthday? Then why did you drag me out from my nap?!
6. Grandma and K.                                                                                                                                                                                 I discover (belatedly) that I have all my pictures taken on my iphone are blurred, hence this puny, sorry picture collage.  Is this a ploy to get me to buy the iphone6 in Sept?!?

Of course, this is not considered crazy (but don’t forget, this is only Part I.  There is still Part 2 and 3).  So why do we do crazy, elaborate things for the kids?  Because seeing the smiles on their faces is priceless and so precious. The day will come when even if we parents want to do something crazy for the kid’s birthday, it cannot compare to a simple celebration by his/her friends in school, or the efforts of a significant other.  This is the season and the time, so why not, according to your means and what you think is appropriate?  Don’t hold back, just Let It Go… Hah… Now the song’s stuck in your head right?

Happy 3rd birthday Baby!  Yes, you are a Princess because you are the daughter of the Most High.  Let no one cast doubt on how precious you are and how worthy you are of extravagant love. You are worthy not because of your external appearance, or talent or gift, things the world can take away and fade with time, but because God says you are beautiful and well-loved.  May you discover your place, position and purpose and learn to see the good in every situation.  Always dance, like you already do.

Love, Papa and Mama