It doesn’t get any easier

Why the long hiatus from blogging? That’s because I have started a baking blog with a dear friend of mine! Not sure how many people actually keep up with my personal blog. But if you have, I apologise for disappearing for so long.  And now back to the topic…

“It will get easier as they grow older.”

This is often told to sleep-deprived, bleary eyed parents with babies. The truth is, bringing up children does not get any easier as they grow older. My boys are turning 5 and 7 at the end of this year but I still find it a challenge to take care of them. The challenges simply shift from being predominantly physically demanding to being more mentally and emotionally demanding. While I used to  struggle with keeping myself awake and wishing that I have clones to help me when the kids were very young, I find it a struggle to teach them to love God, love others around them, the right values and coaching them on a regular basis for their school work when they are older now. In their teenage years, I suspect that we may face even more emotional struggles as we may have to deal with helping our kids deal with peer pressure, mood swings, etc.

We need God’s grace, wisdom and strength no matter how old our kids are. I can’t say for sure that when the kids are grown and have families of their own, it will definitely be easier since I have not been there yet. But I guess parents’ concern for their kids never go away.

Raising children is not all about struggles. There is much joy too 🙂 and this also changes as they grow older. We enjoy the cuteness of babies and toddlers; we also enjoy the jokes and games that we share with older kids. By the way, I still find my boys cute in their own way. Different kind of cute, but cute nonetheless :).

I would say never look back and wish that the kids were little again (because they were so cute) and never look forward and wish that they would grow up soon (just so you don’t have to clean up milk puke/ poo or pee stained clothes for the umpteenth time). Treasure (I won’t say enjoy because sometimes it’s not enjoyable) the present time that you have with them because they will never be the same again.

May we rely on God and be contented everyday of our lives, for all seasons.

Bao adventures

I just started making Chinese steamed buns (包) last week and couldn’t resist making it cute! I started off by making the boys’ favourite salted egg yolk custard buns ( liu sha bao 流沙包). Here are some pictures of my Bao adventures. Definitely had loads of fun making these!

liu sha bao

My first attempt at bao making with panda baos. I just added blobs of black sesame dough to transform plain baos into a cute pandas :). Love the runny custard too!

little bear liu sha baoI had leftover dough and filling so I decided to make a little grey bear and one panda from whatever bits I could scrounge out from the plain baos. I left the baos steaming and happily went to do my chores, only to remember 30 seconds before the timer went off that these baos cannot be over-steamed or else they will explode. The little bear was smaller than the rest of the baos so it would require less steaming time than the rest. Well, I was too late to save little bear :P. Of all places to pop, the custard came out from one eye and not from the seams!

cute animal liu sha baoThen I found a recipe that claimed to result in soft buns even after they have cooled down. That is quite a feat as most baos turn chewy and hard after cooling down, and have to be consumed shortly after steaming. I decided to give that recipe a try and made more animals to join in the fun with orange sweet potato puree to make the tiger, cocoa powder to make the bear and black sesame powder to make the koala. Mmmm… soft and fluffy as claimed although I made some modifications to the recipe partly due to some conversion mistake that I made. Here’s the recipe for my cute animal baos!

farm animal liu sha baoI had some leftover dough and filling again so I decided to make an animal farm version 😉

Christian food art

As Christian parents, sometimes we wonder how we can introduce Bible stories or biblical truths into our little ones’ lives. Making their meal or part of it as scenes from the Bible opens up a wonderful channel for conversations about the story or passage, and the experiential learning helps them to remember what they have learnt. Here are some of my  ideas :).

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Toddler Logic

As adults, we may wonder what goes through the mind of a little person who just started to walk and talk, discover and make sense of the world around him. Here are some funny, interesting or thought provoking snippets from the life of a little boy. The “Toddler logic” series is a collection of incidents arranged from the most recent to the earliest account of my younger son in his “twos”. These accounts were previously posted on Facebook.

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About breastfeeding

This should have been written almost 2 years ago when I completely weaned the littlest member of our family from breast milk. Before my knowledge of what is involved in breastfeeding fades into oblivion, I had better write it down. I am no lactation expert but I thought it might be helpful to put down what I have learnt from my own experience of breastfeeding each of my two boys for 1.5 years and that of other mums into writing… just so I don’t have to re-tell or re-type on the phone every time a new mum approaches me with breastfeeding issues 😛

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How did we learn how to teach our kids?

This was written in response to the question “你们是怎么学会教孩子的?” At the time that this question was asked (we were having lunch), I could only come up with “我们在教会里学了很多。。。“. Upon taking some time to reflect, and armed with a 词典and Google  translate, I came up with something that I had not done for a loooong time: write in Chinese, while the boys were napping one afternoon. So please excuse the broken Chinese :P. This is posted with permission from my Christian friend who asked the question 🙂

我有个小毛病,就是有时候需要多一点时间去想如何回答人家问我的问题:P 你问我们怎么学会教孩子。。。这要从两方面去教。 最重要的是:

以弗所书 6:4
你们做父亲的,不要惹自己儿女生气,而要照着主的训练和警戒养育他们

圣经记载了上帝的话语。。。所以很多教孩子的原则都可以从圣经中得到。 例如

希伯来书 12:11
不过所有的管教,当时虽然不觉得是愉快的事,反觉得是忧伤的事,而后来却为那些由此受到操练的人,结出平安和义行的果子。

有些现代的幼儿心理学家认为做父母的不能惩罚孩子, 只能用鼓励的方式来教导孩子, 不然会伤害到孩子的自尊心。 可是这跟圣经所教我们的相反。

我们做为父母最大的责任就是教孩子怎么全心、全灵、全意、全力的 爱主. 很多时候我们也不知到怎么教孩子, 因为我们的智慧,精神, 耐心和爱心是有限的。 我觉得有时候上帝利用孩子们来教我们怎么多祷告,多信靠主。。。以让我们变得越来越像耶稣。 你生了宝宝之后要记得多祷告:) 每逢遇到耐心, 精神和智慧有限的时候, 通过祷告你会经历主的恩典。。。一天一天的过。。。不知不觉,孩子很快就这样长大:)。教孩子是双亲的责任。 你和老公可以谈一谈怎么教孩子。 双亲管教孩子的方式要一致, 否则孩子会不知道要听谁的话。

除了教孩子要爱主和爱周围的人,我们也得教他们怎么照顾自己,独立生活。这些知识可以从书或网际网络上得到。有时候我也会问有孩子的朋友。 当然你还是需要用自己的判断决定书或网上所提供的资料是否适合你的情况。 这些我们还是要通过祷告,祈求上帝给我们智慧和耐心教孩子们学穿衣, 洗澡, 喂自己吃饭,等等。。。

在教会里我们的确是学了好多关于教孩子的。。。那三年内我们学到。。。孩子也是罪人, 孩子需要我们全心全意的爱他们。 他们也需要大人给他们清楚的界限, 以让他们知道如何玩,工作, 和别人相处。。。我们也需要做好榜样让他们从我们的生活中学习。

 

 

Conversation with a not-quite-3-year-old: What is God?

Little one: What is God?

Ma: It should be “Who is God?”

Little one: Who is God?

Ma: We can’t see God, we can’t touch Him or give Him a hug. But He is sitting here on the bed with us, He is everywhere, He made everything. He made you and me.

Little one: And He made Papa and Gorgor.

Ma: Yes. God also loves you and me.

Little one: And God loves Papa and Gorgor and aircon…

Ma: I am sure he loves Papa and Gorgor… not so sure about the aircon. God talks to us too but we can’t hear him over the phone or hear his voice (well most of the time). He speaks to us from the Bible, so we have to read the Bible to hear what He has to say to us. We can talk to God too, by praying.

 

May God put the desire to seek Him in the little one’s heart. We pray.

 

Weary Wednesdays

Much as I love Bible studies because of the fellowship and the chance to dig into God’s word much more deeply than I could ever do on my own, I have to drag myself around to do all the housewifey things the next day. Mornings are especially difficult since I am already not a morning person. I have decided to take it easy and declare Wednesdays as non-cooking days and not expect too much of myself when it comes to home-schooling (what home-schooling??…zzz…).

Sometimes I wonder…many kids at my younger boy’s age are already in preschool learning stuff. He’s still staying at home. On days when I am really tired I find it hard to engage him in a conversation. Trying to teach him something in a structured manner is even harder. So what did I do this morning on a typical weary Wednesday? After seeing gor gor off to school, we went to the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. We went home after that but on the way, the little boy had a bit of time at the roof garden walking up and down little steps. At home, the little boy had a bath and breakfast. We did laundry together and then walked to a nearby coffeeshop to buy lunch and dinner. On our way home we saw Nenek seated alone beside a bench, so we went over and the little boy had a chat with her. Nenek is an elderly wheelchair-bound Indian lady whom we often meet at our block and is a familiar figure in our neighborhood. We went back upstairs and I placed the little boy in his crib with some toys and a book while I had an early lunch and hung up the laundry to dry… Totally exhausted…

What did I teach him? What did he learn? I guess it’s something that I taught gor gor when we were plucking longbeans some time back…

Ma: Do you think I can pluck all the longbeans by myself?

Gor gor: Yes

Ma: Then why am I asking you and didi to help me to pluck the longbeans?

Gor gor: To teach us about life (No, he didn’t come up with this answer by himself. It was something that I told him during a previous longbean plucking session)

Didi practiced going to pee, washing his hands, feeding himself, putting on and taking off sandals by himself— learning self-care. He helped with the housework— learning to be a responsible member of the family. He practiced operating zips on the laundry bags, walking up and down the stairs by himself (being a preemie meant that he is susceptible to developmental delays and gross motor skill is one of them)— developing motor skills. He had some time to interact with someone who is of a different generation, gender and race from him— developing communication, social skills and a heart for people who are different from him. He had some time to play quietly by himself— developing independent play. Hopefully, he also learnt that food does not drop from the sky :P. All throughout the morning activities, I tried my best to point out the surroundings and talk about them when I could, tired as I was… like the plants, flowers, the Stop sign…So I guess what he learnt this morning is aptly summed up in one word: life.

On days like this I have to be even more prayerful and realize that I need to rely on God to be a mother that brings glory to Him. It’s so easy to slip into auto-pilot mode. Still praying that God will grant me the strength, patience and wisdom I need to teach my boys about Him and the world around them. Everyday. By God’s grace.

 

** Dear stay-home mummies, don’t feel too bad about not being able to teach your kids in a structured manner (i.e. classroom-like setting and following some syllabus) because you are just too tired or there isn’t time to sit down and teach. A principal of a preschool once told me that young kids learn best through incidental learning. Teach them when you are doing things with them or when you are all on the go. Sitting down at a table and learning doesn’t sit well with many tots and some preschool kids.

 

A Contented Housewife — in Singapore

What is contentment? It is not to be confused with being “lazy” or “unmotivated”. It is about being at peace and being joyful about the state that one is in.

What I am writing here is not about a war between full-time working mums (FTWM) and stay-at-home mums (SAHM)… or even part-time working mums (PTWM) — who is better. In some families, it is necessary for mummy to work full-time, whereas in other families mummy has a choice. Instead, the question to ask is this: In Singapore, everyone is urged to strive to be the best and maximize their potential, from the littlest babes to the elderly workers. Can contentment be found in a rat race and a society where “kiasuism*” is part of the national identity?

When asked how I feel about being a stay-home mum with a post-graduate degree, I would always reply along the lines of “It’s tough being a SAHM of 2 young kids. But I wouldn’t dream of giving up this job to go back to work full-time at this point in time, because there is much joy and motivation for me to be where my family needs me most — at home. I am content.”

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Esoteric conversation with a 4-year old

Boy: My Friend said that she knows God

Ma: It’s not enough to just know God. You have to believe in Jesus to get to heaven. You have to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and He rose again. Because even Satan knows God.

Boy: Who is Satan?

Ma: He was an angel who thought he was God. God threw him and some other angels who followed him out of heaven into hell.

Boy: My friend also said that you have to die before you get to heaven.

Ma: Not true… It depends on when Jesus is coming again. If He comes before we die then we don’t have to die before we get to heaven.

Boy: When is Jesus coming again?

Ma: The Bible does not tell us when He is coming but He will come. When Jesus comes again, Satan and the angels who followed him will be destroyed in hell. And we (who believe in Jesus) will go to heaven to be with God.

 

May God provide me with the right words to say every time this kind of conversation pops up.