Friday, October 31, 2008

Being Merry Married

4 years ago yesterday, this mother was a blushing bride trying her hardest to let the stresses of a wedding day slide by.

What I remember most about that day - indulge me a little in this trip down memory lane, won't you ... was the love that surrounded us. It wrapped around us tightly - this love from our friends, some of whom were far far away but sent missives - funny and wise words of encouragement. My two beautiful bridesmaids, one of whom is soon going to be a mother herself. And our dear ORPC and BFEC friends who sang for us, and practically ran the wedding.

Most of all, the love from our families was palpable on that day. One of my brothers, whose 2nd little girl arrived just the day before, turning up in the morning completely sleep-deprived but there for his little sister nonetheless.

My dad, whose gushing smile as he walked me down the aisle, conveyed his pleasure in giving his only daughter away - a memory I will always hold dearly in my heart. My mom, dressed in her finest - indulging me in letting me pick out something for the day and for the dinner - for once.

And my new mother-in-law, and aunt-in-law, painstakingly preparing hand-sewn gift pockets containing cash, given away to all our friends who helped out in the wedding. And in decorating their beautiful home in our chosen colours - ivory and olive green.


Fast forward 4 years.

A million miles from dearly missed friends and family, a little homesick, but happy.

So marriage isn't a bed of roses by any means. And having a child... who sometimes can never do right by the daddy, and gets overly protected by the mommy, doesn't make it easy for either the husband or the wife.

And then there are the disappointments, the ugly side of in-law relationships, we need to overcome, mend, and heal.

And the countless future uncertainties we need to bravely face. Together.

Yet, still, here we are enjoying each other so so much, now a more complete unit with a little one to call our own.


Somebody wise at the church we've been attending one day got all the married couples to raise their hands and share how many years they've been together.

The hands started going up... "50 years!" boasted two elderly couples, "coming to 30!" said another handful.

The next question was a little tougher.

He asked, directing at the couples married for 50 years, "So have you reached perfection in your marriage?"

Seems fairly logical - that after 50 years you'd have ironed out all the kinks and transformed each other into the ideal marriage partner you've always hoped for, right?


Beth, one of the dear old ladies, smiling as she patted M's hand next to her, candidly said - "Well let's put it this way... our last argument with each other was just yesterday, so what do you think?"

The moral of the story was that in any relationship, one can never reach a zenith and stay there. That would mean that you've reached a plateau. There really isn't such a thing as a plateau in a relationship anyway.

You either draw closer to each other, or you drift apart.

Extending on this, this wise person observed that the same principle applies in our walk with God. But that's another story for another time.

I've decided that we're no where near wiser, after 4 years, in knowing how to make this marriage work. But I'm grateful, because no matter what we've got each other, and the love that surrounded us on that wedding day 4 years ago is still with us today.

And looking at the face of this little guy God gave to us is pretty awesome too.

A simple celebration was in order. Which meant I get to take a break from cooking - the second time during a weekday night since we got here!

The feast:

"More chips, mommy?"

The glutton - ooh the greek salad with feta cheese and juicy lamb!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A 22-month update

At the playground yesterday, a girl on a swing - couldn't have been older than 10 - said something interesting to us.
Pointing to D who was playing on the swing beside her, she asked, "When did you born him?"

I said, "Almost two years ago now".

Her reply? "Two years is a long time!".

I thought to myself, is it now? I guess so! The girl had been carrying her pet cat, a brown tabby cat which kept trying to make a break for it, so I figured she might have likened having a baby to keeping a pet.

Yup, yesterday our little boy officially turned 22 months. In just two more months, he'll be all of two years old. Here's a quick update on how far he's come:

1.Gross Motor Skills: D's quite the runner now, and a competent climber too, always trying to balance on the top of the sofa and on his bed. Also, after our trip to the Grampians, he's into hopping around like a kangaroo. He finally figured out that jumping means taking both his feet off the ground.

2. Fine Motor Skills: still a struggle. Our little boy only recently had more patience to attend to drawing with his crayons. Previously, he would just make one or two rudimentary scratches on the paper. Now at least he can follow my cue and draw a straight line, and put more colour on the paper.

drawing crayola

But the crayons themselves still often prove more interesting!

3. Speech and Language: He's now picking up more words more quickly than ever before. More significantly, he's putting words together in meaningful phrases, like "One red car", or when he needs something, he goes "Mommy.... milk!" or "Mommy... stuck!", or when he's looking for something, like "Cat... where?".

4. Interests: Occasionally, he will dig in the kitchen cupboard, bring out the pots and pans and make a din.

gonna cook!
funny hat
"Look at my funny hat, mommy!"

A boy after his daddy's heart, the little one loves to help wash the car too.
dripping sponge
"First, you wet the sponge."
how big the sponge is
"Then, you get some of the suds all over yourself!"
"Hmm... this looks clean enuff to ya?"

Now that he understands a lot more language, he's more responsive to my verbal instructions... though at times he'll still throw a little tantrum here and there when things don't go his way! Here's a little clip to sum it all up. =)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And the Fruit of the Spirit Is...

Was reading the daddy's blog tonight, about a young paraplegic who is now suffering the life-long consequence of a single reckless moment pulling a stunt on his motorbike.

"As a father, it certainly does worry me when I think of how D, though just 22-months now, will eventually hit his teenage years. As parents we do our very best to bring our children up to know right from wrong, to be able to exercise some presence of mind and common sense, and to weigh the consequences of their actions before they act. But there is only so much we can do, and beyond that, there is still so much that is out of our hands."

crossing the wobbly bridge
"Yes daddy, I'm being real careful on this wobbly bridge!"

How much can we do?

In Proverbs, we are instructed to "Train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Thank you Steve Green - thanks to your song this verse will remain etched forever in this mommy's head and heart!).

In a recent Crosswalk newsletter for parents, we are exhorted to be consistent and persistent in doing so. Read more, in "Parenting with a Diligent Hand - Part 1".

But buckling down to the job isn't easy, considering how we're pitting our kids against their biological and neurological programming.

Perhaps it's pure serendipity. Because arriving in my Gmail inbox in this same week, is a Harvard magazine article detailing cutting edge research on adolescent brain development - read "The Teen Brain".

Briefly: Tracing the development of gray and white matter in the brain between age 5 and age 20, Harvard researchers found that teenagers are biologically unable to fully exercise impulse control because of how much "grey matter" there remains during their adolescent years. It apparently explains why your teenage daughter - I paraphrase - can ace that O-level exam, be the school tennis captain and still end up doing something completely stupid like rear-end another vehicle while texting her friend on the mobile phone.

Hmm. Explains the young paraplegic - now paying for something he can't really be blamed for - teenage impulsiveness. For this mom, the Harvard article is scary stuff!

So as much as I tell my kid/s to think before you act, if the science is to be believed, my future teenager/s will only learn what that truly means when they are 20? Yikes.

Yet, my faith compels me to also remember that we are not to live by the flesh (read: our biological and neurological programming), but to live by the Spirit.

And the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5:22-23,

"is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Food for this parent's thought, for sure. Meantime, to my dear son I'm sorry kid you can forget about riding a motorbike ... ever!

look at me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Studying Aging

Will post more on our trip to Melbourne a bit later.

For now, some thoughts festering inside me, along with the remnant germs, are fighting to get out. Being sick makes me think a lot, since my body isn't up to much more than curling up in bed.

I put it down to the fact that past 30, the woman's body not only begins to lose its nubility and elasticity, bouncing back from a simple common cold also gets that much harder. A head cold used to take no more than 3 days to clear. Nowadays, it lingers - 3, 4 weeks, sometimes a month or more.

I've been studying my face in the mirror too. The glow of youth gleaming from beneath the epidermis fades day by day - I see a lot more sun spots, maybe age spots (already!)? The skin around my eyes seem especially thin, brittle, even. All that expensive lotion, cream and serum can only battle so much the ravages of time, I guess! Dullness eventually prevails.

The realization that we're all getting older seems especially stark in contrast with the other face I've been spending a lot of time studying - whose skin is all of 21 months old. Oh that face! Who can resist it? =)


And then I see the ladies who have been married for 50 years or more in church, with grandchildren in tow. Though their bodies are no longer ramrod straight and sturdy as many moons ago, and the years have etched deep lines - laugh lines, frown lines, all kinds of swirly wirly lines - in their faces, they impress me with the inward joy only knowing the Lord can give them.

When I see how that joy beams right out when they laugh together, I reckon it must be easy to forget the joint-pains and aches they must be battling, and I find myself just reacting with a thought - Wow. Will my face belie joy or just life's wounds when I'm that old?

Aging also reminds me that eventually, we're all headed to die, every one of us. And though I can claim victory over death through what Jesus did for us on the cross, I wonder if I'm ever ready for that, not experiencing, not seeing for myself what lies beyond the grave. How does eternity pan out for this mother, I wonder?

I find myself looking once again at Dylan, this little man of ours, and find myself in awe. There is such an incredible life force that comes from being a tiny shoot, breaking out of the soil, glimmering in the morning sun, promising to be a mighty oak one day.

As though in answer to some of my unadorned thoughts, this morning at the baptist church where Dylan's Monday playgroup is, I read a sign hanging inside the door of the ladies' restroom.

Wildly paraphrased since I clearly didn't have the presence of mind to copy them down, I present the words on that sign here:

"A Godly woman may not always like what she sees in the mirror.
The curves that didn't use to be there, the lines and the etches, the scars.
Pray to love what you cannot accept, and learn to accept what you cannot change.
Love every line, every curve as a gift from God in making the woman that you are.
Real women always have them (curves and lines)."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Term Break Destination: Grampians

It's been a little while since the last update. Here I am, nursing a chesty cough and head groggy from all the meds, and realizing that it can take a lot out of a person to just sit down and write, when all the person's body wants to do is collapse in a heap in bed.

But duty calls - so much to tell of the Koh family term break road trip!

One of our first destinations was to take a 200km scenic drive up northwest from Melbourne city to Hall's Gap, a natural feature among the highland ridges that has come to be known as The Grampians. E had booked us a cottage in one of the retreats, and it came with its own furnace too.

One of the scenic spots we stopped at was near the foot of Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt - both of which reminded me somewhat of waves breaking near the coast:

Mounts Sturgeon and Abrupt
Sitting astride his father's broad shoulders, the little one felt as tall as the mountains themselves.

Dylan was a little angel through the car ride, sleeping some of the way, and spending the rest of the time watching Cars and Finding Nemo on the DVD player.

Tucked away in a corner of Hall's Gap was our cottage retreat - quite a grand sight when you see it surrounded by the tall hills all around us.

Guess our surprise and delight at finding the resident kangaroos in our own front and backyards! Well, the road sign did say "Kangaroos, next 30km!". We had to do all we could to remind the little tyke that the animals are wild, so you don't just go running after them for a quick pet.

There were quite a few walking trails about the nature reserve, so after settling in the first night we drove around with our lunches packed and the toddler backpack carrier in the car boot.

The little one laughs at being able to kick back and enjoy the ride while his parents slug onwards with him upon their backs...

First stop: A lookout that rewarded visitors with a magnificent view of Hall's Gap from the top of the mountain ridges.
Despite its breath-taking height, Dylan was more interested in sticking his feet through the safety rails and causing his mommy's heart to jump right out of her mouth. Thankfully a couple of other boys soon diverted his interests.
See the cheeky look on his face!

At McKenzie's Falls, the steep descent led visitors to the base of the falls, where they could just bask in its beauty, and not a few splashes of refreshing cool water.

Our toddler sure wanted a piece of the action.

Unfortunately, the only way to get back to the car was to take the same steep route back up, no easy feat when you've got an almost 12kg load on your 2kg backpack!

Yet another lookout point. By this point mommy is beat after a 1km trek to get there. Phew.

By the time we got back to the cottage, it was time for Daddy to light the fire and make our home of 2 nights toasty and warm. If I must say so myself, this is yet another reason why I love the Daddy so much - proving himself yet again Mr Handyman around the house. Great job, Daddy-O!

All that walking didn't dampen the mood of our little tyke, either. He still had it in him for a few cheeky smiles to Daddy and the camera! Man, I do live for these moments. =)

Ok, More in another post - my body is reminding me that it wants to be in bed. Now.