Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections of 2013

Another year is coming to an end. I like to reflect and give thanks before I look ahead to the next year.
January - school reopened with Joseph in Primary 2 and Joy starting kindy at the ripe 'old' age of 5. No crying, screaming or vomiting this new school year.
February - good news!!
March - Joseph and Daalin went on their first father-and-son camp. They pitched their own tent, cooked their own food and got all dirty. Boy stuff.
April - we threw a major (to my standards) dinosaur party for Joseph. It completely exhausted me!
May - I voted for the first time in my life
June - Joy started on the Worship Team at Children's Church. She has no stage fright and thoroughly enjoys this.

July - My first ever maternity photoshoot. It was a 'now or never' thing.

August - We spent two lovely weeks in Melbourne and I experienced snow for the first time.
September - preparing for Isaac's arrival.
October - Isaac is born! The girls had a bout of HFMD but recovered pretty fast.
November - school holidays begin and just before that, Joy is awarded Student of the Year for her class.
December - definitely my favourite time of the year. We had a baby dedication for Isaac and Joy danced on stage for the first time in the Children's Church Christmas Production. This is also our first Christmas as a family of 6 but our last Christmas with a baby in the house.
Looking back, 2013 had a lot of 'firsts' for us as a family. This is also my first year as a almost-full-time-homemaker and I'm glad to say that I've enjoyed every moment of it. Well, almost every moment. There were definitely many moments when I wanted to pull my hair out (that or the children's hair!!), tie them to the chairs or drug them to sleep.
But thank God for His grace and strength that sustains and enables. My very helpful husband makes an extra effort to take the children cycling, swimming and to the playground/park.
In the kitchen, I have very generous in-laws who supply cooked and uncooked food. It's a life-saver! Because while I do enjoy eating (hence the need to exercise!), cooking is not my forte, nor my passion.
Looking forward to 2014, I have some goals...
1. toilet-train Isabel.
2. Isaac to sleep through the night.
3. teach the children basic piano skills (did I mention we just bought a new 'toy'?)
4. Joseph to improve on his command of Mandarin.
5. lose 3kg to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and size.
6. bake my own bread.
and above all...to be faithful in my walk and service to the Lord.

My meditation this morning...

Psalm 33: 20-22
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Blessed 2014 to you!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Dedicating Isaac

Isaac is 1.5 months old. It's been a very difficult and challenging 1.5 months for me. Sleep is a rarity. Some days I get by with 3 to 4 hours of sleep at night and hardly a nap in the day. The advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps" is applicable only for the first baby. Isaac is still very nocturnal - sleeper by day, guzzler by night.
Yes....he has a seemingly HUGE tank! He drinks 4oz formula at one go, right after breastfeeding. And then looks for the breast again. Yet that amount keeps him full for less than 2 hours. He has put on about 2kg in 6 weeks.
The most challenging part is handling a toddler that demands your attention and a newborn who wants your breast all the time! Like when I'm breastfeeding Isaac and Isabel poops.
 While the older two love Isaac to bits, Isabel is still grappling with the idea of being a big sister. She can say Isaac is her di di, kisses him and the very next moment smacks his head. Or pulls his fingers and hair.
So we had a baby dedication for him last night. For the uninitiated, a baby dedication is similar to infant baptism, minus the water since our church does not practice infant baptism. It is a public declaration of our commitment to bring up this child in God's ways. Witnessed by our family, cell and friends, they too commit to journeying with us and keeping us accountable. 

We took the opportunity to express our gratitude...
... to our parents for their love and support. Ah Mah & Ah Gong travelled up from Seremban weekly to supply food while Nana did the cooking for 2 weeks.
... to our siblings. KimKim took leave the day Isaac was born so that Nana could come over to babysit while I gave birth. AhKoh took good care of Joe in YongPeng and Singapore so he had a good holiday.
... our cell and friends for helping with whatever we needed, even running errands and helping to fetch the children to school.
Pastor Chris said :it takes a village to raise a child". I think it's true. Getting pregnant and giving birth is the easy part. Raising the child is the more challenging part. Thank God we are not alone. His grace is sufficient! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

School year 2013

So the school year for 2013 has come to a close. Joseph completes his second year in a Chinese primary school.
How did he do?
He has gone from a totally blur 'English' boy to one who is proud to be chinese and in a chinese school. Academically, there is plenty of room for improvement. He's intelligent, but handicapped by the language. Still, his command of the Chinese language has improved tremendously and considering the fact that he does not go for tuition, I'd say he did pretty well. His exam marks averages in the 80s except for English which is a near perfect score.
This year, he came home with 2 trophies. One for a consolation prize in a coloring competition (in thought he hated colouring!) and the other for second place in English sentence construction competition.
Socially, he's got a Chinese chess 'gang' with whom he plays the game after school. Hence he likes it that his father fetches him from school a little late and his father is glad to do so because traffic flow is less congested.
Joseph is a more outdoor kind of boy preferring to cycle, swim and hike.
He doesn't like languages and he doesn't like being on stage. So we didn't force him to join the Children's Church Christmas production this year.

For Joy, this is the end of her first year in kindy and it has certainly been a very good one for her. She is an excellent student. Perhaps too excellent to the point of being a perfectionist. Her handwriting is very neat. She will erase and rewrite if a certain stroke is too short or too long. Even by a mere millimetre!!
She tells me that she has not done a single correction for spelling, ejaan and 听写 all year because she got every one of it correct. About 3 weeks ago, she came home with a present and said it was for getting all correct in every paper in the year-end assessment adding that she wad the only student in her class to do so.
Today was party and awards day and she was awarded Student of The Year!
I'm certainly impressed. But while I praise her for a good job done, I remind her that all she achieves is by the grace of God and she must remain humble.
I must add that she is also quite a busy body. She knows the name of every classmate, how many siblings they have, which vehicle they come in, and who their parents are. She can also eavesdrop on the next class so she knows what goes on in the 4-year old class, while paying full attention to her own teacher. In her words, "one ear listen to this teacher, one ear listen to that teacher la!"

On the down side, she's quite a Puteri Lilin and a fussy and very slow eater. She still eats mainly oats but is taller than even kids 2 years older than her.

I realize that both my school-going children are so different.
Joseph's handwriting is like 'cakar ayam' while Joy's is like it's printed.
Joseph's books are full of dog ears by February while Joy's is still like brand new after a whole year.
Joseph completes his homework very quickly but Joy takes a long time.

I remind myself to not compare but praise and encourage every effort and achievement.
Thank you God for beautiful, intelligent children!

November birthdays

November started with celebrating Daalin's birthday on 1st November. We got him his favourite white chocolate macadamia cake from Secret Recipe.
Thirty-seven is like the start of the 'late 30s'. But I think he looks all of only 17, don't you think? Some days my Associate Professor husband goes to work in jeans, t-shirt and a back pack and still can get mistaken for a student. (shh...he actually likes it when people mistake him for a student.)

A few days later we celebrated Isabel's second birthday on 5th November. I love birthdays.....they are wonderful excuses for cake. This is the Fat 'Lil Monkey from FatBoyBakes. 
I always feel that the first 6 months of life seem to crawl by. It's most difficult when all they do is cry, poo, puke and pee. But thereafter, time seems to fly and in the blink of an eye, they have grown so much, so fast!
Blessed Birthday Daalin and Isabel! Next month we celebrate Jesus' birthday and then January will see Joy's and mama's birthdays! Yeah!!! 
I'm two years old!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Number 4 is here!

He's here...number 4 has arrived!
Meet Isaac.... our promised child.

Isaac arrived at 9.49am on 23 October 2013, (39 weeks gestation) weighing 3.17kg after a very relatively easy labour. 

I woke up at 5am that morning with mildly-painful contractions. The blood-tinged mucus plug confirmed that this was D-Day! I took a shower, washed my hair while waiting for my mum to come over. The contractions were not very painful so I took my own sweet time since the children were still sleeping. 

By 8am, I felt the contractions were getting more frequent even though the pain was still pretty mild. At 5 minutes apart, I did not want to risk giving birth in the house or car and so we made our way to the hospital, arriving at 8.20am. 

Strolling into the labour ward, I looked pretty comfortable so the nurses were cool as well until they asked if this was my first baby and I shook my head and told her this was my fourth. Then they started to move faster. 

The midwife checked me and found me already 5cm dilated. At 9am, my gynae came and said I was already 7.5cm dilated. I was surprised that things were progressing so fast. The pain was still very bearable. 

At 9.35am, I suddenly had a very painful contraction and felt a very strong urge to push. Daaling called for the midwife who said I was already fully dilated. My gynae appeared soon after and baby Isaac arrived at 9.49am.  
I thank God for a relatively easy labour, which I attribute to my taking Herbalife throughout my pregnancy. I strongly believe it kept my body in tiptop shape. Exercise and keeping active also helped. I still ran on my treadmill until I was 6 months pregnant. Thereafter I did light exercises and the kids kept me active. 

Because I had no episiotomy, recovery was very fast. I was very mobile from the next day. On the 6th day, I drove myself and Isaac to the paediatrician to check on his jaundice. Life and house chores go on as normal. Laundry, cleaning, washing. I did abstain from washing my hair for one whole week. In the second week, I washed my hair twice - with the herbal water. 

The past 3 weeks have been extremely tiring and sleep-deprived. While Joseph and Joy-Anne have been very helpful and loving towards their new baby brother, Isabel is taking a little longer to warm up to him.

I finally feel our family is complete. There is no more baby-urge. Maternity clothes are already packed up and ready to be shipped out.
Things are tough now but I know that this is temporary and easier times will soon dawn.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Two, Three or more - managing by God's grace

I've often been asked how I manage 3 and soon-to-be-4 children single-handedly without a maid. Nope, I don't have a weekly cleaner either. And I still have a part-time paid job. 

To keep things short and sweet, I usually smile and simply answer "by God's grace!"

Truth is, I'm not in this alone. I have a very helpful and supportive husband. He does a lot around the house with no complains. 

Mornings are busy - cook breakfast, cook lunch, revision with Joseph, keep Isabel out of trouble, before I send the older 2 to school. Isabel loves the joyride on the school rounds.   
Joy says she has a servant to pull her bag.
Afternoons are quiet when I nap with Isabel and I'm enjoying this while it lasts....not for long. 

Then it's cooking a simple dinner, vacuum the house and checking on the kids' homework before some family time on the bed. 
It's manageable - you just have to close an eye to some toys here and there and focus on what's important. I do find myself nagging at the kids to pick up their stuff. I also get them to make it a habit of bringing their plates, bowls and cups to the sink instead of leaving it on the table. 

It's not easy but I believe it makes the older ones more independent and selfless. They learn to help around the house and set good examples for the younger ones. 

As to how I'm gonna manage with 4....well, I can only say I'll tell you next year. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Buffet Dinner at Vasco@KL Hilton

Since I'm gonna pop almost anytime soon and will most certainly be in confinement when our 11th Wedding Anniversary rolls by, we decided to utilize our complimentary dinner voucher for a pre-anniversary celebration. 

Utilizing the voucher at Vasco@KL Hilton is more worthwhile than Paya Serai@ PJ Hilton or Makan Kitchen@Doubletree by Hilton. Also because this place is newly renovated and I like new things.
Isabel is privileged to tag along because it's free for her!
I had heard bad reviews about the former-Sudu Restaurant so I tried not to have high expectations of this place in spite of its 5-star status.
Round 1 - healthy people start off with fruits.

Round 2 - pizza, bread with butter and apple,spinach and bacon pudding (pretty good!)
I may be pregnant but I still whack everything pregnant women are not supposed to eat... :-)
Round 3 - oysters, scallops, smoked salmon

Round 4 - butter prawns, chilli crab, tandoori chicken with briyani rice

Round 5 - octopus, salmon sashimi

Round 6 - selection of dessert 

crepes - made to order with your choice of filling
After all that, I also had 3 rounds teppanyaki ice-cream. They didn't have the conventional flavours. Instead it was a choice of mango, dates or coffee. I liked the dates flavoured ice-cream mixed with oreos and chocolate chips best. 

Now I wonder if I would put on any weight with all that eating. 

Because at my last check up..... I put on a mere 100g in a span of 2 weeks while baby grew by 400g!!! How is that possible???

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two, Three or more...? - preparing for no.4!

So more it is.

Actually we couldn't quite decide. After Isabel turned 1 year old, we prayed and committed it to God. If He would bless, we will be happy to receive. 

Isaac is due end of next month. 

Yup....just as Joy prophesied. I'm amazed at how God uses this girl. Even before I knew I was pregnant, she told me "there's a baby in your womb". And even when my gynae couldn't say for sure baby's gender, Joy had already named the baby Isaac. 

In fact, before I gave birth to Isabel about 2 years ago, Joy told me, "After you give birth to Isabel, rest a while...then you make Isaac".

So preparations are underway.... 
engineers at work to fix up a new chest of drawers for baby's clothes.
The kids enjoyed helping to fix up a chest of drawers we bought from Ikea. Joe was very good with the screwdriver and hammer. Joy was the 'store manager' helping to dish out parts and reading the manual. Isabel...well, she just busybodies around.

Thank God for this car seat which was actually given to me by a Korean missionary family that was going back to Korea and didn't want it anymore. At that time I didn't need it and didn't know what to do with it. So after sitting in my store room for over a year, it will be put to good use.

I've begun washing baby clothes. Some of these are about 15 years old and have been worn by about 10 babies. The pants (especially those with feet!!) are still good but the elastic are worn. So I had to change the elastic for quite a few of them. I don't bother with booties - too much trouble. 
this was Joe's full moon outfit over 8 years ago!

I've also sewn new crib sheets and matching curtains using an old duvet cover which is no longer used. Better than buying new fabric. 

We still need to move the baby cot (which now functions as a day bed) from the play area into the 2nd room, adjust the height and put back the side rail. I've still got some washing to do and my hospital bag to pack. 

Labour contingency plans have been made - depending on the time of day or night, we've made arrangements with some friends for babysitting. 

Ah Mah and Ah Kong will be coming to help with cooking while I'm in confinement though I doubt there'll be much of a confinement. Rest and sleep will be a real luxury with 4 kids. 

I'm now 35 weeks. Joseph's year-end exams are in the next 2 weeks and daaling's term ends just a few days before my due date. We pray baby will come at just the right time after Joseph's exam and daaling term ends and the school holidays are almost around the corner. 
There's only so much planning we can do... so we leave it to God, and trust that Isaac will arrive at the right time to complete our family and fulfill the promise God gave us almost 4 years ago. 

It's been an amazing faith-stretching journey ...a most blessed one!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lazy Family Sunday

It's rare for us to have a free Sunday with absolutely no plans. Our weekends are usually busy...too busy for my liking. But today, we had a very lazy no-plans Sunday.

So after breakfast, we went to Taman Jaya.
The weather was perfect for playing and cycling in the park...

We played till almost noon and the sun was still hiding behind the clouds.

After lunch and a good nap (3 hours for Isabel!!), we went downstairs for a swim. Joy finally overcame her fear of the waterslide. 
Then we headed out to Paradigm mall to check out the new 'Famous Penang Road Teochew Chendul' ...
I had the durian chendul. It did taste good but Daalin said it's too big a bowl thus giving him a brain freeze. I liked the curry mee. But the place is just super cramped....tables are super tiny with people waiting around for tables. 

After getting some diapers and groceries from Tesco (FREE 2-hour parking with purchase of RM30) we came home for some family time (that means rolling, 'horse-riding' and wrestling) on the bed.

I'm so glad tomorrow is also a public holiday. Joe and Joy want a repeat of today...