Monday, November 30, 2009

Other November Highlights

Today, little G officially turns 3 months old. Brought him to KK for a hearing check, and everything is A-OK. I couldn't resist asking the nurse to take his measurements. Little G is growing well -
at 7.5kg and 62cm long.

At the close of November, as Americans tuck into their thanksgiving turkey, here in Singapore I'm finding so many things to be thankful for.

Chiefly, dearest Med Student Hubby completed his 2nd year exams, and is back at home for a month for a breather before third year commences.

Looking back on the things we accomplished this month, I'm just very grateful for having time to spend with the boys, even if for a period D was ill and gave me a hard time.

Act3 performed two Saturdays ago at area B in East Coast Park, a short skit entitled Little Kite. The weather held, a motley group of parents and little ones gathered on the open grass patch, and little D watched his first play ever. Of course he did a bit of beach-walking and tree climbing first:

Tree Climber
Watching Little Kite

The Performer and the Spectator - which is which?
Performer and Spectator

Little D is learning - very slowly learning - that playing is more fun with friends. Here he is with friend E from Aida Street:


And with cousins:

Jacob Ballas Children's Garden

This maternity leave, I'm overjoyed to discover that places to go and things to do for little tots are aplenty in Singapore. In fact, some of the best places are free of charge.

Jacob Ballas Children's Garden - so named after a Jewish-Singaporean stockbroker and philanthropist - is a veritable garden paradise for little ones, tucked away at one corner of the Botanic Gardens.

It has designated areas for water and sand play, a tree-house structure with slides, a garden maze, a hanging bridge, and lots of thingamajigs that arouse wonder and curiosity about nature in children.

I loved how, in spite of its tropical setting, each area and walkway in the garden is framed by shady arbors - tall trees with spreading leafy branches that allow the morning sun to filter through, and channel a cooling breeze throughout.

I brought the two boys for the first time last weekend, and we couldn't resist making a second trip again when we saw how fine the weather was on Saturday.

Here are the scenes from the 2 weekends.

"A-Hiking We Will Go!"
A Hiking we will go!

Up the ladder and down the big orange slides at the tree-house:

Tree House Play


Love the glee on his face!

Walking across the swinging bridge... whoa!

By turning the crank, the light comes on...

The Light Comes On

"Phew - this is back-breaking work!"
Thingamajig@Jacob Ballas'

And guess who couldn't resist stripping down to just his pants and getting wet and wild!
Water Play @ Jacob Ballas'
Water Play @ Jacob Ballas' 2

Finally, time for a break before heading back home... little brother is already fast asleep in his stroller!

Tired & Thirsty

Friday, November 27, 2009

First Trip to the Dentist

A month to go before D turns 3, I decided a visit to the dentist's was long overdue.

Naturally, I was worried that he'd flip out, but it helped that while we waited to go in there were a couple of children's illustrated books beautifully explaining what goes on when you sit on a dentist's chair.

I read it aloud to him, pointing out to him all the quirky and exciting things he'd find in the dentist's office, like the special chair he will be sitting on, the sink like the one in Finding Nemo in which Nemo escaped back into the sea...

So when his turn to go in came, little D was quite the eager beaver, and hopped on the chair like he was getting ready to blast off in his special space shuttle seat.

Our little trooper was also very cooperative - quite unlike his usual self! - and did as he was told. I'm proud of my little trooper. =)

Here he is donning batman shades and checking out the Doctor Dentist's many gadgets and gizmos.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Love Never Fails?

I subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter called "Upwords with Max Lucado" - an established christian author whose reflections on biblical concepts are refreshing and easy to read.

Today's article was on 1 Corinthian's 13: 8 - "Love Never Fails." In a nutshell, Lucado reflects on the truth that unfailing love is only accomplished by God alone.

It made me think about the quality of my love as a mother. People like to generalize and say that parents' love for their children is unconditional.

In some ways, yes - loving one's own flesh and blood is probably the closest approximation of this thing we call unconditional love.

But is it really unconditional?

Then explain to me how it is that when I see my child reject his dinner and abjectly refuse to behave in the way I want to him to, an anger wells up inside of me that I never thought I was capable of feeling?

And when I receive his end-of-year progress report book from his nursery teacher, why I should allow an inexplicable sense of disappointment to creep in at the column marked "Needs Improvement" for "Child is able to share toys" or "Knows his shapes/ numbers".

The truth is, in my fallen state, I am not able to love unconditionally, as Christ does.

It's easier to love my child when he is lovable - obedient, well-mannered, clever, articulate.

When he is acting in an unlovable manner... it gets admittedly more challenging. It's as though he's broken the unwritten covenant between mother and child, tearing down the natural authority I have in his life, breaking the deep-seated expectations that I never even realized were there.

In times like these I realize in the same way, I have utterly and abjectly disappointed God in the many sinful thoughts and prideful choices I've made in my life, and wonder how it is possible that His love is so great to see past it.

It disturbs me that in extreme situations and circumstances, my love for my children can indeed fail. I am disconsolate, and filled with dismay about my limits.

Yet, I'm still going to strive for a perfect love in this life. If my child is to see in me the quality of God's unfailing love in our lives, I desparately need to grow closer and closer in my walk with Him, and understand Him more and more.

There is a powerful lesson in rearing children for parents, I think.

When God gazes down on each and everyone of us, what he sees is a perfect creation, his own handiwork, a lovable soul with whom he wants to share eternity with. This is possible only because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross!

In Love's gaze, we are washed whiter than snow, and made perfect even in our broken, damaged state.

When I gaze on these two lovely forms before me, may I see them as God sees them too - imperfect, but unfailingly loved by God.

May my life demonstrate the gratitude of this truth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You Will Never Walk Alone

One other thing occupying some of my maternity leave is preparing for our church's upcoming christmas presentation. Check out this website to find out more about THE GREAT BIG CHRISTMAS GIVE-AWAY... book your tickets early to avoid disappointment. =)

Here you see 6 of us singing Point of Grace's song, You Will Never Walk Alone, recorded during our rehearsal for last Sunday's preview at church. It's about the assurance that in this life, while we may face long and difficult roads, we will always have our Lord walking beside us all the way.

Fun @ Kids Amaze, Safra Toa Payoh

People wonder what moms do during their maternity leave - now that the government's upped it to 16 weeks.

I'm loving the lazy mornings, enjoying a slow breakfast with the little one, reading the papers. I'm loving the afternoon naps, and the free time I use to catch up on reading or the latest episode of House on

What I love most is having daylight hours to bring D to places where I know he can stretch his little toddler legs, running, jumping, and performing all kinds of stunts that tots are intrinsically experts at.

Over the weekend, we did just that. I had intended to bring D to the indoor play area at Downtown East, but after checking out the website I was pretty turned off by the exorbitant admission fees.

"What?! Even the adults have to pay to go in?!"

So a good friend recommended Kids Amaze at Toa Payoh, SAFRA instead. Good value at $7 per entry, a third of the price I'd have to pay at Downtown East.

It's not a big area, but the indoor two-storey play structure was big enough for my 3-year-old to work up a sweat within minutes.

Unlike Fidgets where adults could also enter the play areas, parents and caregivers were not allowed inside the enclosure, which meant that D had to muster enough courage by himself to exploit the structure.

Which he did, to my delight! Without instruction or encouragement, he discovered how to slide down the fireman's pole - that's my boy. =)



"Ta-Da Mommy!"

Little G is still too little to enjoy the facilities of course, so while gor gor exploited every nook and cranny the baby slept in his stroller.


He also attracted the attention of a group of older girls - aged around 5 or 6 - who started chasing him all around the play area. One girl was so riveted by him she could hardly keep her hands off his face!



I look at my boy, and suddenly realized how big he is becoming, just over month shy of turning three...

Now that he's a bit more used to having baby brother around, the two have started becoming more buddy-buddy. They even match each others' moods - just check these out!

The cheeky face:

The more serious face:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 years, 2 kids and a few kilos later...

Here's a belated post on what it feels like to be married for five years and being mom to not one but two boys.

I've come to believe that when God blesses a couple with children, He does so with a chuckle in His throat and a glint in His eyes.

Surely, nothing tests a marriage and one's character like becoming parents! It's been a funny and often heart-rending journey for us two jokers.

I don't think any pre-marital counseling course could have prepared us adequately for what we've been through particularly in the past 3 years.

Truly, marriage is so much more than finding one's soulmate, or enjoying a life-long companion, someone you don't mind spending happily ever after with.

In 5 years, I've learnt that marriage is just as much about:

Coping with the dismay of having yet another romantic notion about our other half dismantled.

At the same time, finding ourselves endeared to new qualities and virtues that we never saw, or would never have imagined ourselves being so utterly attracted to before - like skilfully managing the family budget, for one thing. Ha!

Realizing that when God gives us children, he thinks we need to learn patience. A lot a lot of patience.

And love our parents THAT MUCH MORE because now we know how hard it must have been for them to put up with our nonsense!

Acquiring a new father and mother, and learning to love them for raising a son to be the man he is for me to love so dearly, even if their ways are different from what I grew up with.

After each painful conflict...Marriage is about being on bended knees, and asking God, each other, and our children, for forgiveness, for the many many words uttered in a rush of anger and hurt.

And learning from each mistake how to be a better mom and dad, and hoping that no lasting harm has been done, that God's restorative love redeems and heals the brokenness.

It's being surprised and delighted at how we're capable of loving SO very much, beyond each other and our firstborn!

It's about learning to laugh at both the wonderful and terrible things that happen to us - the joy of having two beautiful children and the grief that accompanies each stressful episode with them.

5 years, 2 kids and a fair number of kilos later, this mommy believes that the one thing that holds this marriage together - is our total and utter dependence on God to provide, to comfort, to teach and correct, to restore and reconcile.

To my wonderful husband - thank you for putting up with me on this journey. And yes, I hang on bated breath to see what adventures God brings us in our next five years together!

More pictures!

D waits for Daddy to arrive at T3 Arrival Hall
At Airport
T3 Arrival Hall

And our 10-week old G
Bumbu Chair Baby
G @ 10 weeks