Dear SAHM, you impact the world…

Children running with the wind.

When I made the decision to be a stay-home mom, I was terrified and clueless. I wondered if my time at home was worthwhile (I still do at times). Most say, leaving your job before 30 is career suicide.

Like many young women, I had dreams of making a difference for God. Going into the marketplace and impact the world for His glory. Isn’t that what we often hear from the pulpit?

Instead of important business meetings and nailing that presentation, my priorities become getting through today’s Chinese lesson and laundry while also buying groceries and Popsicle sticks for my kid’s craft.

I start to feel like my all-consuming tasks aren’t very important…

How can I use my gift to serve Him? How can I be missional as a SAHM?

True, I’m making a difference in my family. However, can I impact MORE than just my family?

Yes, you can.

Almost a year ago, I was chatting with an ex-colleague over WhatsApp. We’ve been keeping in contact now and then. In our conversation, she made a remark: “Zuo Ren Hen Nan” (translates: ‘Making’ a person is very difficult).

Curious, I probed further and found that she and her husband have been trying to have a baby. And yet, each time, they were left disappointed.

Her heartache plucked at my heartstrings. I went through a journey of anticipation as well. I’m fully aware of the emotional roller-coaster it has been for her as a woman and a wife. We shared our woes and fears. I assured her that I’ll be praying for her.

A few months later, I received good news from my friend. She was expecting! We rejoiced  and “hugged” over WhatsApp. Unfortunately, our rejoice turned into mourning as she suffered a miscarriage. I couldn’t help but cry alongside.

There were the “whys”, “hows” and “what if”…we can never understand why it happened. But I know God is sovereign and He holds our future in his hand. It wasn’t easy for me to convey God’s peace amidst the sadness; as we share different faith.

Through the weeks following, I did what I knew was best for them. Giving them time to grieve and reminding them that all is not lost.  Their precious one is in heaven, safe with Abba Father.  Although, we may never comprehend why such tragedy must take place, God has His perfect plan in His perfect time. We put our trust in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I recalled the snippet from “Heaven is for Real” – a little boy’s astounding trip to heaven and back. He speaks of meeting his unborn sister that died in a miscarriage whom no one had told him about. I hope by sharing this story, the couple will be somewhat comforted.

In one prayer session, I saw a vision of my friend and her husband. She was lying in a hospital bed, carrying a baby swaddled in blue cloth.

Seeing such vision isn’t a common thing for me…I wasn’t sure if it was all in my head or a psychological phenomenon. After much deliberation and prayer, I decided to step out in faith. “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

I told my friend of my vision and assured her that in God’s perfect timing, she will have a baby boy.

Months passed…I didn’t hear from my friend. Nevertheless, they were always in my prayers.

Finally, I received a message that she passed the first trimester. Praise God! And the baby’s gender? A boy! Their baby’s name means “God has given”.

Isn’t God amazing?

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Source

Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you.  You’ll never know whom God sends in your way. It could be that cashier whom you meet when you do your weekly grocery…the old lady who lives beside you…the child who plays with your children at the playground.

See how a shy child light up when you tell him God will use him; even when he has a quiet character. God created him just as he is for a purpose. And that it is okay if he needs time to warm up new environment or people.

While being a SAHM means being with your kids 24/7, we still impact the world. Not only through our children but every single soul we meet. God has you right where you are for a reason.  

YOU are important. And YOU can impact the world from where you are.

Chinese New Year Craft: Dot-A-Dot Cherry Blossoms

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Goodbye Christmas, hello Chinese New Year!

Back in November, shops have already started selling Chinese New Year decorations and goodies. It was oh so, confusing with Christmas and Chinese New Year marked so close each other.

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching (another 10 days?!), it’s time to get into the festive mood and start our preparations.

Here’s a fuss-free way to DIY your house and show off your kids’ craft to your visitors (even if your kid isn’t crafty).

Materials:

  • Dot-A-Dot markers (in pink or red)
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Drawing paper

Directions:

  1. On a piece of paper, draw branches with black Sharpie marker.
  2. Start dotting with your pink and red Dot-A-Dot markers.
  3. Optional: write Chinese New Year greetings.
  4. Hang it up!

This is one craft where you can never go wrong, and doesn’t require clean-up. I love the fact that no matter how your kids dot the flowers, it still turns out okay.

Which of the two paintings belong to Hannah? Make a guess!

More CNY crafts and activities: Paper Lantern, Enjoy, Eat, Play, 大头娃娃 (Big Head Doll) , CNY Related Books, DIY Mandarin Oranges, “Hong Bao” Fire Crackers, Origami Goldfish

 

 

The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

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Twas the night before Christmas, when the children were nestled all snug in their beds;

it’s only mamma frantically wrapping the presents while papa has settled his brains for a long winter’s nap…

What to do when you run out of wrapping papers then?

We, mothers do what we do best…improvise!

Here’s how to create your DIY Christmas Gift Wrap:

  1. Steal Get drawing paper, markers and Washi tape from your children’s art box.
  2. Wrap your gift with the drawing paper. I used Ikea’s MÅLA drawing paper.
  3. Draw a cute snowman face.
  4. Make the snowman’s hat and scarf with Washi tape.
  5. It’s a wrap!

Other DIY gift wraps/tags to try:

Bubble Wrap

Handprint Gift Tags

Doily Gift Wrap

Crepe Paper Colour Transfer

In the meantime, have fun wrapping!

May the blessings of Christmas be yours and may your new year be filled with Christ’s love.

Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!

 

 

 

 

What We Do on a Rainy Day

It’s wet, wet, WET throughout this week (and more to come). Here are some things that keep us occupied while staying dry. 😉

Create a story box

Story boxes are a great tool to allow children be their own storyteller. They encourage creativity, imaginative play and literacy development. It can be a scene from your child’s favourite story book, a show, or anything they imagine!

Things needed: any empty boxes, paint, crepe paper, paint and any craft materials you find at home.

Story-box-play-scenes

Threading/Sewing

My first attempt to get Hannah to “sew”. She follows a pattern and learns hand sewing basics. Like, the idea of the needle going up and down through the board.

Things needed: (I’m using a purchased set) sewing/lacing cards and yarn or shoelaces.

Threading-sewing-for-kids

Back-and-Forth Drawing

It’s a collaboration between parent and the kids. One person starts the drawing and the other builds on it by adding elements.This is an interactive drawing activity for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Things needed: drawing paper and markers.

Back-forth-drawing-add-on

Kitchen Science Experiments

I’m all for science experiments under 10 minutes! This project was to create a tornado in a bottle.

Things needed: clear (preferably narrow) bottle with cap, water, dishwashing liquid, and good arm power.

Kitchen-science-experiment

Washi Tape Wall Art Project

Let your child be the artist of your wall decoration! Straightforward and mess-free: a winner for kids and parent.

Things needed: blank canvas or sturdy cardboard and Washi tapes.

Washy-Tape-Art-For-Kids

Geoboard Art

Geoboard is not only a Mathematical manipulative, it is also a wonderful tool for encouraging fine motor skills.  Look beyond teaching perimeters, shapes and areas, and you might find your child creating art with rubber bands. 🙂

Things needed: Geoboard and rubber bands.

Geo-board-activity-for-kids

Train a Plant

How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? You can actually “train” a plant to grow in any direction you want.  If you look closely, the roots of this plant is growing upwards. This phenomenon is known as geotropism.

Things needed: Ziploc storage bag, paper towels, fast-growing bean, stapler water, tape, marker. Instructions

Science-experiment-train-plant-upside-down

Other rainy day activities: Balloon FunDIY Reindeer Antlers,  Crayon Etchings,  Animals of the World Puzzle,  Angus Lost & Snowy Day Activities, What Makes Snow,  The Napping House Activities

What are your rainy day activities?

A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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I usually don’t review non-homeschool or kid-related product, but New China Opticians, Singapore really made a difference.  Here’s why.

As a a SAHM with 2 young children (without help), I’m unable to do things like getting a new pair of glasses, facial or visiting the dentist very often.

However, after several chewing incidents and ripping my spectacles off my face (thanks to Elijah), my frame started to give way. Unable to park the children with their grandparents, I had no choice but to lug the children to the optician.

I dread that knowing they’ll fiddle with mirrors and will want to try on shades. A salesperson will then start to “chase” them around the shop, telling them not to break anything or touch anything.  Just too much pressure on me!

After much persuasion from the hubs, I decided to try New China Opticians, having read positive online reviews for its good service and affordability.

Of course, I had to mentally prepare myself for a few unhappy salespeople if my children were to drive them nuts.

Surprisingly, the people at New China Opticians were really nice to my children!

Hannah had accidentally knocked down their box of spectacles but they were genuinely okay about it.  I mean, sometimes a person says it’s alright, and yet you sense a tinge of unhappiness in their tone?  In this case, they were really accommodating.

Then, Hannah got thirsty and the water in her water bottle was running low.  The owner of the shop (Uncle Tony) then asked her get water from their water dispenser.

Not surprisingly, she happily filled her water bottle and continued trying on sunnies.  The whole time I was looking for my spectacles, Hannah was trying on different shades and asking me if she looked good.

Because the frames were displayed around the shop (without casing), I could only remind Hannah to handle them with care and to wear/remove the frames with both hands.

The salespeople and Uncle Tony let the children try on sunglasses and chatted with them.  I was able to buy time to hunt for my glasses…phew!

Moreover, Uncle Tony recommended me a frame that was flexible; able to withstand rough handling.  He certainly understood this customer’s need. 🙂

As they made their lenses on the spot, I could collect my spectacles in 30 minutes! Awesome…

Finally, the price I paid for my glasses was certainly an icing on the cake. 🙂

The people at New China Opticians made me feel at home. I wasn’t rushed to choose a frame and get out of the shop a.s.a.p.  I had the opportunity to hear Uncle Tony’s parenting journey while getting my eyes checked.  It didn’t feel like a trip to the optician, more like a casual conversation with your neighbour.

If you need to get your spectacles done, why not try:

New China Opticians Pte Ltd
Peninsula Shopping Centre, #01-11, 3 Coleman St, Singapore 179804

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post. I’m just grateful mother that received excellent service and found a good deal to share. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

 

Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

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Mark Van Doren, a poet and writer once said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.

Teachers play such an important role in our children’s lives.  Whether we homeschool our children or not, we inevitably have teachers some point in time.

For Hannah, these are the inspiring teachers in Sunday School, in swimming and dance classes.  They make classes enjoyable and learning fun.

As we celebrated Teacher’s Day on 2 September in Singapore, we kept our gift simple and doable by the child.  After all, it’s the child’s appreciation to her teacher right?

I know a lot of parents spend late nights baking and decorating wonderful presents for the teachers.  Gifts range from handmade cookies to movie tickets. That’s wonderful, and yes, I do think teachers deserve a good break at the movies.

But I would like Hannah to understand that they are her teachers, not mine.  I’ve already done my fair share of craft and thank you letters to my teachers.

And although her gift may be small, it really is her heart (spirit of thankfulness) that matters.  It’s not about showcasing how beautiful or expensive her Teacher’s Day gift is.

Making Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

To make these doily lollipop flowers, we need:

  • Paper doilies;
  • Mini lollipops (comes in a bag of 25);
  • Washi tape/cellophane tape; and
  • scissors.

1. Cut a straight line to the centre of the paper doily.

2. Have the wrong side of the doily face up. Then slide your lollipop to the centre.

3. Roll the doily around your lollipop.

4. Twist the end of the doily. Secure with washi tape or cellophane tape.

 

We created a bouquet of these and gave them to each teacher. Hannah spent over two evenings making 39 paper doily flowers. She did them while I put Elijah to sleep.

When Hannah’s Sunday School teacher asked if her mother had made them, Hannah proudly told her teacher that it was she that made all the flowers.

It might not have been the prettiest bouquet received. It wasn’t the most expensive gift. Surely it is a gift from the heart and with much dedication.

More Teacher’s Day gift ideas: “Tea-riffic Teacher” Tea Lights  Chocolate Doily Gift Wrap 

Dealing with Late Talking and Sensory Processing

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It’s almost 2 months since Elijah’s visit to the ENT specialist (read here).  He has been interacting with us a lot more and picking up new vocabulary; though his pronounced words aren’t clear.

After much reading about toe-walking and late talking, I thought I’d post some of the resources we’ve used and references I’ve found most helpful.  I hope it’ll be of use to someone reading this.

Sensory Processing: Proprioceptive and Vestibular

This article by YourKidsTable has helped me understand some of Elijah’s behaviour. E.g. his like for squeezing into tight spaces, his frequent toe-walking, and his endless energy drive.

These indicators seem to point to his need of proprioceptive and vestibular input.  Prior to this, I have completely no idea what these sensory processing meant.  These articles (proprioceptive and vestibular) by Lemon Lime Adventures helped me understand what they meant without all the medical mambo-jambo.

In summary:

Proprioceptive = body position; how our joints and muscles coordinate with the brain to help movement.

Vestibular = movement and balance; and is centred in the inner ear (spatial awareness).

What we do:

To provide proprioceptive input, we give them heavy work activities to do.  You read it right..heavy work.

According to Sensory Processing Disorder.com:

Proprioceptive input is the performance of tasks that involves heavy resistance and input to the muscles and joints, and is essential in helping our bodies assimilate and process both movement (vestibular) and touch (tactile) information.

Elijah is a proprioceptive input seeker, so things like carrying groceries, baby diaper bag, stacking or moving chairs, moving vacuum cleaner, mopping the floor, climbing, jumping and crawling through tunnels help him calm down.

Additionally, he’s a vestibular input seeker (a.k.a. “ants in your pants” kid) so activities such as sitting in a rocking chair, playing a slide or suspension bridge, spinning, and hanging upside down are helpful.

Dealing-With-Sensory-Processing-Homeschool-Crafts

Overcoming Toe-walking

As for toe-walking, I read that these activities help children:

  • walking up hill;
  • climb up slide;
  • marching;
  • jumping; and
  • walking in flippers/boots.

We’ve worked on similar activities over several weeks, and it did improve Elijah’s toe-walking situation.

Our usual activities would be: climb up slide (which I wouldn’t normally allow), walk up hill or ramps, jump along with the music, walk in empty tissue boxes.  I try to keep the activities short and fun so it doesn’t seem like a therapy session.

Late Talking

We are still working on this aspect.  I’m using the exercises and examples shared on Teach Me To Talk and My Toddler Talks.

I engage Elijah using gestures and sounds while conversing with him.  He adores animals, trucks and vehicles. Eric Carle’s books have been his all-time favourite.

While reading to him, I’d sign the animal while saying its name or mimic the sound of the animal after saying its name. E.g. I’d say “baa baa” after saying the word, “sheep”.

Now, when he refers to sheep, he’ll say “baa baa”.  He’s not able to say the word, “sheep” but it’s surely a step of improvement.

Sensory-Processing-Homeschool-Crafts

A lot of self-talk and describing what Elijah’s doing too.  Basically, I try to narrate what he is doing and remember to pause to let him respond. Sometimes, he just points.  Other times, he’ll sign the word or actually say the word.

We are making progress. On Aug 9, he started calling me “Mama”.  And I mean, really looking at me and acknowledging me. My husband and I couldn’t believe our ears!

Thank you for all your prayer support and encouragement! Please continue to pray for Elijah as we are scheduled for a developmental assessment with a specialist sometime in September.

Read Aloud Books by Karen Kingsbury: Father-Daughter / Mother-Son Bond

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Does your little girl look to her Daddy as if he’s her superhero? Does your little boy make footprints in your heart?

Written by Karen Kingsbury, this set of books make a lovely read for your little boy and girl. I love the fact that there’s one for little boys and their mother, and another for little girls and their father. It is especially useful for us!

“Whatever You Grow Up to Be” documents a mother-son bond from infant to adulthood. Each page shows a life stage in the boy’s life, and his mother is always there to celebrate and encourage him along the way.

Now that I am a mother to a boy, I can fully relate to the story as I too, desire my boy to grow into the man that God has designed him to be.  Life is filled with endless possibilities and God has a special plan for him – whatever he grows up to be.

I’m reminded that these sleepless nights, leg-hugging moments, the whining and banging on your toilet door, the endless piles of food-stained laundry….is only for a season.

I have only but this season to influence my children; the values and lessons we impart last for a lifetime.

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“Always Daddy’s Princess” is the perfect book for little girls and their Daddies.  Hannah enjoys snuggling up with Daddy while reading this whimsical book (filled with lots of purple and pink too!).

Similar to “Whatever You Grow Up to Be”, the girl’s father is always there for her, in every stage of her life.  From tea parties to soccer games to boys and her wedding, she is her Daddy’s princess every moment.

The book provided a meaningful opportunity for Daddy to discuss with Hannah about life’s journey, God, her husband-to-be…and how she will always be important to Mama and Daddy.

Although it’s written in a Christian content, the stories will tug the heartstrings of any parent and child reading them.

Grab your copy at your nearest public library or bookstores. It’s a keeper. 😉

Heritage Fest 2016

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A belated May blog post on Heritage Fest 2016, Singapore.

Running its 13th year, Singapore HeritageFest brings to the public the diverse cultural heritage of this little city. From food trails to music recitals to experiencing Singapore’s last living kampong; Pulau Ubin. There’s something for everyone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s our first year participating in Heritage Fest. We managed to catch two programmes:

Aliwal Arts Centre Open House

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Through the workshops, we learned various traditional art forms, such as the Malay dance by DIAN dancers and Chinese opera by Nam Hwa Opera.

Hannah liked the pretty DIAN dancers so much that she wanted to take a picture with them.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Hannah is a big fan of Chinese opera. She was excited to watch the opera up close!

We found out how opera singers use gestures, facial expressions and their props to express the emotions of the characters portrayed.

Here’s one opera-related activity you could do with your little one. Be sure to read these two (here, here) wonderful books on Chinese opera too!

Romance, Hope and Dreams @ Velocity, Novena Square

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Like most little girls, Hannah loves weddings! Ask her about the weddings she attended, and she’ll rattle off the names of the couple, and colour of the evening gowns those brides wore.

“Romance, Hope and Dreams” was the perfect exhibition for her to learn about the meanings of traditional wedding practices and beliefs of different ethnic communities.

Every traditional wedding ceremony had been modelled with clay.  See how intricate they are? They remind me of Alexandra Bruel’s clay pop art. Amazing.

Singapore HeritageFest happens from April to May every year. Be sure to check out www.heritagefest.sg for their latest happenings.

Late Talking: Looking Beyond the Mom Guilt and Whys

Over the past 5 months, our family struggled with a myriad of emotions.

My son who just turned 20 months hasn’t been speaking much. A lot of moms tell me that boys just develop at a slower pace. A part of me thought I was simply paranoid.

But something didn’t seem right when Elijah who was calling “Daddy”, “Mama”, “Jie Jie” (big sister in Chinese) suddenly stopped calling and spoke nothing.  He points to what he wants and scream when we don’t get him. He often try to drag us to the places he wants to go and grab our hands to show us what he wants.

As the main caregiver, one could imagine the kind of questions that went through my mind.

“Was it because of a head injury?” Elijah has always been an active child. He’s always climbing, running and prying into things.

“Could it be something I ate?” I wondered if the sashimi or caffeine I took affected my milk.

“Did I not pay enough attention to him?” The grandparents said this when they noticed Elijah’s lack of words.

A month ago, I finally had the courage to bring him to a friend who is a speech therapist for evaluation. She recommended some exercises to do with him, as she noticed he had difficulty focusing his attention.

Following that, I did more research.  I was now in “panic” mode. The red flags stated for Autism, Apraxia and ADD were relatively similar to Elijah’s situation.

I started to dread bedtime because my mind would try to reason for an answer in the stillness of the night. I was weary physically and spiritually. My pillow soaked in tears each night.

I had naturally assumed that talking would come quickly for Elijah because Hannah started talking early. By 18 months, she was already communicating fluently with us.

While I kept searching for the “why’s”, I persisted with my home exercises with Elijah. Things didn’t seem to improve after nearly a month. In fact, it seemed worse. He had more meltdowns and with that my firstborn felt left out. She started acting out more.

I tried to tell her that I needed more one-on-one time with her brother. Though it surely ain’t easy for someone whose love language is quality time to accept this.

She feels that Elijah is robbing away her time with her mother. And sometimes wish for her brother to go away. My heart broke when I heard those words.

Late talking: Siblings

I’m on my knees everyday. Asking for an answer. Praying for more love and understanding within the family. I couldn’t understand what God wanted us to learn.  I couldn’t understand why a perfect God allowed imperfection to enter into our lives. I am drained. I’ve ran out of logic.

By end of 3 weeks, I decided to bring Elijah to an ENT specialist to have his hearing checked.

The session was expensive because we didn’t seek a referral. But I knew I shouldn’t delay things. This nagging feeling of having his ears checked have been on my mind.

It turns out that it was a right decision. Elijah has impacted ear wax in both ears which affects his hearing (approx 10-20 decibels). We had the ear wax removed; terrifying experience for Elijah.

He then went for a hearing test. Results were positive. He has no hearing problems. The ENT specialist recommended a developmental pediatrician to evaluate Elijah’s development.

In the meantime, the husband reminded me of the upcoming church retreat in 2 weeks time.  I wasn’t looking forward to it having much dissonance within.

A week before we left for Malaysia, Elijah called out “Papa”.  My husband and I stared at each other in amazement.  He finally spoke something again!

I waited expectedly for more words. Nothing came.

The theme for our retreat was “Love Beyond Reason”. Dr. Peter Tan-chi of Christ’s Commission Fellowship was one of the guest speakers.  His sermons resonated most with us.  His sharing about his daughter’s tragedy; of pain and restoration were inspiring and compelling.

Did I receive a word from God during the camp?  No.  But I’m beginning to understand what Mother Teresa said:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa

I do not know how our journey will unfold; how God will write Elijah’s life story.  Please pray together with us while we cling on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

P/s: Elijah called “Mama” on the third day of our retreat, right after our service!  His every word spoken becomes so precious to me…