7th!

August 2017

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84 months and counting… 

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on the 19th June 2017 and it took me almost two months to blog about it. And still, I think marriage is hard work. Marriage, with three young, boisterous children is requires great effort, loving hearts and also constantly reminders of how God is the central of our lives and relationships.

Truth is when we got married, I don’t think we know each other very well then. Barely into a year of dating, he proposed. We were so young and definitely infatuated with each other. Then, we started our wedding and house preparation. Before two years of knowing each other, we were married.  One year later, pops out our first baby. Then, came the second. And now, our last *fingers crossed*.

There are too many a times where we have disagreements. I get mad. Annoyed.  Frustrated. There are also angry words. But, I also know that E must be someone incredibly special to me- because he is always the first person I want to call when I have good news or something to share. Like everything is just better with him. For example, when we went for the trip in Devon, the view from our caravan was breathtakingly spectacular. It is one of those scenes where your eyes literally soak in the beauty of nature and marvel at how good our God is. But I know the experience of being there with E makes everything better, legendary even. Even winning him at Scrabble makes the challenge sweeter! #justsaying

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While I look forward to retiring with E, maybe doing some sort travelling or lazing by the beach together, I know right now, we are also at an enviable time of our lives. With the children and their innocence. Being relatively young(I love being in my 30s!) and able to do many things with our little ones. Exciting days ahead, my love.

The best is yet to be.
I love you as sure as the sun rises and sets.
As definite as a rainbow after a heavy downpour.
Always.

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Click on these links to read about our 1st-6th wedding anniversaries. 

1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th

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The 6th Year

19 June 2016

What makes 6 years of marriage for us- 3 kids. 2 countries. Several house moves.

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What I learnt marriage after 6 years of being with E- Alot of compromises and the power of forgettory. We compromise on things we cannot agree on. We forget bad stuff- hurtful things that we said and obviously don’t mean. And most importantly, no matter what happens, we got each other’s back.

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The day when people get married, they usually think they got everything figured out. Love! Most people marry people whom we love and reasonably believe can keep our marital vows with. And then, ta-dah! Here comes marriage…the thing that comes after wedding day. The fact that we have to live with this one special person till the end of time is not so bad if all things remained the same. However, that is not plausible with so many variables in life.

 Marriage is hard work. It is about choosing to stay with this person in both good and bad times. Good times is easy but relationship do get testy during difficult ones. The notion of romantic love is insufficient when you are facing three young children, piles of dirty laundry and cooking to be done. This 6th year of marriage, instead of sharing our daily struggles(plenty!) and how our daily text messages look like a grocery list, I would like to take some time to give thanks and blog about some wonderful things about the man I married.

E is either a very forgiving or forgetful person. During heated arguments, my words can be as sharp as knives. Yes, I am a horrible person!!! I think E don’t usually take much to heart. He is usually quick to apologise so as to soothe any tensions before trying to convince me his point of view.

Growing up, I have low self-esteem about my looks and weight. E was the only boyfriend who accepted me for who I was then. 10 kilograms heavier now, E still tells me, with a hug no less, that I am the most beautiful person ever. Whenever he tells me that, I will roll my eyes and look away. But deep down, it means so much to me. Even when I tell him that I should be losing 5 more kilograms to be in the acceptable weight range, he tells me that I am fine the way I am as a mother of 3. I really love him for this. xxx

Whenever E have had good dining experience, he is always keen for me to go for it with him. Between us, I am the one who is more tight-fisted. But, being in a marriage with an ever-optimist is not without its merits. Instead of always going for cheaper eats, I get reminded to experience the nicer part of life. It is also nice to know in I am included in his thoughts when it comes to food! Heehee.

E believes in me, even more so than myself. He praises me when we are with our family and friends. He loves my cooking. My baking. He is very willing to buy me any sort of baking accessories, the latest being my Cusinart bread maker. He thinks that I blog well. He is still convinced that I will be able to write a book despite not seeing one chapter of it. Maybe he is disillusioned but I know that he is proud of me as his wife.

The children love him whenever they spend time together. Ryan loves Lego-building with his Dad. Gillian loves Saturday pancake day with E. Megan gives such a lovely smile when she sees E coming home from work in the evening.

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Moving forward, it is very likely that things are still going to remain the same. The stress of being a young family is not going to dissipate any time. Hopefully, I pray that I will be able to grow more into my role as a Christian wife. That is the ideal and I hope that with God’s grace, I would be able to just be a better, appreciative and supportive partner to E.

Happy 6th Anniversary. It has been crazy 72 months of so many, many things. Thank you for committing your life to me. If we are lucky, when we do grow old together, you will have a more mellow-me to talk to, to listen to music with and maybe dance with. For now, let’s enjoy what we have and embrace ourselves for more adventures!

ilu. always and forever.

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The Need for Quiet

April 2016

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“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been–it may even be greater–for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.”

I saw a quote posted on the Gillian’s school Facebook page and I liked it a lot. It is by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Mr Moon.  As a mother, I do feel better knowing that my child(ren) is constantly occupied, doing something productive. I like knowing that they are in classes, they are learning something and not wasting their time. There was a point in my SAHM life when I planned both morning and afternoon activities for Ryan and Gillian. Everyday. It exhausted me out and it sure did tire them. After dinner, both kids would be knocked out.

Now, at 3 and 5 year old, both of them have pretty restless personalities. They always want something to do and are constantly wanting my attention. After reading some materials and comparing parenting styles between me and my peers, I am not sure but I surmised that I could have over stimulated Ryan and Gillian when they were younger? Or even when they were just in my womb? Think of those prenatal programs… Yea. I was one of those consumers. (-_-) ” ‘ Then, I possibly just cared about them having a head-start. Now, 5 years on, I think maybe the process of learning is more important.

This Easter holidays, I got to know both of my older ones better. We spent the first week, negotiating and renegotiating about television time. Most of the time, I win. I mean, I am the adult and the mother. So, it is now that I get to win. Both of my 10 April babies would concede, albeit unhappily. They take out their toys from the Ikea black boxes and start to play randomly. Sometimes, they play alone. Ryan with his trucks and cars. Gillian with her dolls or musical box. Sometimes, they make believe together. Both pretend to own a cafe or a clinic together. Sometimes, I don’t even know what they are playing because the place just looks like a huge mess. Unstructured play? Is that the correct term for it?

The idle play the kids go about with in the afternoon and evening is very therapeutic. It is very interesting and even somewhat amusing to listen in their conversations while they play. There will be alot of persuasion going on to get the other party agree to something. Every so often, it would result in a fight or perhaps a reassessment of a deal lest Mummy takes away everything. A few evenings ago, E and I saw Ryan, lounging on the sofa, reading the Children’s Bible. Reading might be an exaggeration but he was definitely flipping pages and focusing on his read. As a mother, I feel good seeing them concentrated and entertained by their quiet play. The ipads and smartphones will come eventually. I suspect that these intelligent devices are so intuitive that learning how to use them is a no-brainer.

My observation is that when they are left with no choice, no TV, no technology, they seem to be less angry. For my children, at least. I cannot explain why but I noticed that Ryan rarely throws a fit when he knows that television is no longer an expectation but a very precious reward when he finishes his homework or after he helps with the household chores.

‘Mom…. How did the weasels take over the world?’ Ryan asks after reading the book that we borrowed from the library this morning.

Yea… Quiet play also comes with the price of answering strange questions like that. To Ryan’s question, I have no answer. I got him to just think about it while he help me with Megan’s laundry load.

Disclaimer: Erhm… This is just a Facebook note for myself to look back upon. Not a parenting advice for anyone. (I am not a fan of any sort of parenting advice. I believe every child, every parent is different. Family dynamics and financial situation different. I really don’t think there can be a absolute in parenting given the number of variables.)

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Easter at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo

March 2016

As forecasted on BBC weather, Good Friday was going to be sunny. Hence, we planned to have an outdoor activity with the children. We were deciding between London Zoo and Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo. In the end, we went for the latter as we felt that the place would be more children-friendly and there was some Easter activities happening.

It was a good 45 minutes of car ride before we reached the zoo. It was around 11 when we finally got to the zoo. Kids had a short morning nap and they were raring to go!

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The children putting in animal snacks into the Easter eggs for the meerkats’ feeding time.

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It was not long before the children spotted the huge playground and ran towards it excitedly. We also decided to settle on one pf the picnic tables for lunch. Lunch was food items that we grabbed from Waitrose before we got to the zoo. I did not have time to prepare sandwiches and all that morning. (-_-)”’ Waitrose sandwiches were not too bad anyways.

What impressed me would be the play area at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo and not so much of the animals. The playground was filled with so many fun stuff that most of the children were there instead of checking out the animals.

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We lasted a good 4 hours at the zoo before we decided to head back home. Parking for anything above 4 hours is £23. We decided that we are good for 4 hours which cost us £9.20. It was a pretty nice experience at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo but I don’t think we will be returning. Not many animals types in the zoo and not as interactive as Africa Alive, the one that we went last year in Norfolk. The playground at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo is fantastic though. Both Ryan and Gillian loved every inch of the huge playground.

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A picture at the Peace Pagoda, one of the major landmarks at the Battlesea Park.

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Giving versus Giving up.

March 2015

Years ago, as a twenty-something teacher, I was dishing out advice to parents on their children. Then, I did not understand the complexities of parenting and thought poorly of some parents’ style of education. What goes around, comes around. Now that I am a mother of 3, I cannot be more stupefied by the amount of work that comes with being a parent. It is not just ensuring that healthy food is on the table. It is not just clothing the child. It is more than having a clean and safe environment at home.

Parenting goes more beyond the power of money. I think. Whenever we are in a toy shop or souvenir store, just like any other child, Ryan and Gillian will go excited over the toys and novel finds. Which child would not think having a colourful slinky is fun? Or having one more cool looking torchlight/magnifying glass is essential? Most of the time, these toys are not very expensive and thankfully, we are at the position to get them. Looking at the state of my living room, which holds boxes and boxes of toys, I dare say that we have indulged them too much. In fact, we have started saying no to them, unless the toy serves a learning purpose. Maybe in some sense, E and I bought so much toys for the children as we are over-compensating for the lack of in our childhood. Strangely, saying no is much more difficult than what I thought it would be. The children will get grumpy and my mind will go into overdrive, weighing the pros and cons of the getting the random toy. Looking at how both children treat their toys make me feel that they are taking what they have for granted. It is not a good feeling as that was never my intention for them. I want them to be happy. Not spoilt.

The television is another point of contention for our family. Ryan loves his television and he has his favourite shows. I do admit that he does learn a number of things from the television programmes. He knows about the Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Gaza, Eiffel Tower from Go Jetters. He is able to share with me new knowledge about planets and comets that he picked up from Messy Goes to Okido. Turning on the television as a way to keep children entertained is always an easy way out. That way, both parties win. The parents get to be doing mindless phone-surfing and the children are properly distracted by the colourful images on the box. I think E will attest to that but, just like all things, moderation is the key. I think last month, it has reached a breaking point when Ryan will throw a fit when the television is switched off. Not cool right. I might be exaggerating if I say that it looks like an addiction. But, let’s not wait till it reaches that stage of us applying to be on the show of Super Nanny. Once again, I have to take the role of the ‘bad parent’ by saying no to him again. These days, he is only allowed to watch two shows a day. The two children spend the rest of the time arguing with each other while trying to play together. #choiceofthelesserevils

Last night, I read this blog entry from a fellow mother and she articulated my feelings of being a parent so well. If the equation of loving one’s child is all about getting material things for them, going on expensive trips and just agreeing with them, it would be easy right? But loving a child is more of what we give up for them. Mostly time. In this time and age, where we have this insatiable need to be ‘connected’, we end up choosing to be disconnected from real life, from our children. I have to remind myself to take my eyes from my phone and choose to spend that 10 minutes listening to Ryan’s day in school, to spend a short time reading bedtime stories, to just have an engaged session with them.

When I look back at my childhood, I don’t remember having much. My family was not well-to-do. Yet, I can recall my childhood vividly because of the time my parents spent with us. They brought us to parks and playgrounds. We played board games. I remember evenings of me sitting on a high stool, talking to my Mum about my day in school while she cooked dinner. We did not dine out much. Sometimes, we shared a pot of canned chicken soup with french loaf from Delifrance. I can even recall my mother telling me how fortunate we were to have a baguette from Delifrance. I believed her. I thought we were one of those well-off ones.

What is my ideal good parenting then? Having the smarts would be a bonus. Ideally, if we we would want to prepare them for the future, to know that having everything that we want does not equate to happiness, to know that sharing does not mean that we have lesser but we have more. To have the wisdom to make good decisions in life. To have grit. To have the resilience to continue despite failures. To remember that he/she is always loved. To choose a Christ-centered life.

Dear Ryan, Gillian and Megan…
I love you. So much.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

March 2016

Last Saturday morning, we headed off to the V&A Museum of Childhood after we dropped Ryan off for his school. Surprisingly, it exceeded out expectations as the place was pretty decent. Our stay at the museum started with a Children’s reading/singing session and Gillian enjoyed it so much.

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V&A Museum of Childhood is home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes. It has the largest collection of childhood objects in the United Kingdom. The museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and continues to do so with ‘Incredibles’ figures complimenting bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes. In fact, E found some toys(He-Man!?!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…) from his era in the museum and he looked really pleased about his find.

I particularly like the iron structure cage looking thing in the building. Upon research, I found out that the iron structure reused a prefabricated building from Albertopolis which was replaced with some early sections of the modern V&A complex. (Read here to find out more about the interesting story behind the architecture of the museum.)

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The museum has lots of hand-on stuff for kids dotted about the many cases of historic artefacts. I think Ryan would have so much fun at the museum should we bring him there for our next visit.

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If you were to ask me, I would suggest skipping the cafe as I found that it pricey(you might not since money is relative). There are plenty of cafes in Bethnal Green(go check out the restaurants and ratings at Trip Advisor) to check out anyways. We went to Macs for a quick nip before picking Ryan up from his class. 2 hours at this museum is far too short. V&A Museum of Childhood is definitely worth a second visit for us. 🙂

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Mom-esteem

March 2016

Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. So in the same line, mom-esteem would be how I judge myself as mother. My mom-esteem varies, depending on the time of the day, the time of the year. It varies from child to child. It is rarely constant. My good days would be like me, making time to teach the kids something(reading, math or Chinese) and knowing that they have learnt something out of it. My good days would be me taking the children out to the park and being able to see them laugh and smile while they play.  My good days would be having a clean house, well-cooked meals and possibly some bakes done.

The truth is that it is really hard to hit all three aspects on entire day. Looking at my Key Performance Indicators and how I am faring against it, I would consider that my mom-esteem is pretty low. Often, I feel horrid when I see Ryan and Gillian at it again over some random useless toy. When some other mother tells me of how they only make meals from scratch, using only organic ingredients, I can feel that my mom-esteem tanking by the second. My mom-esteem truly takes a beating when my kids fall ill. That literally takes the cake.

Still, there are always small bursts of light that keeps me going. Like how Ryan ran to me before he went to bed last night, holding a Mother’s Day card that he made in school. There is a picture of him on the card, along with some pink, red and blue  paper. On the paper, he wrote: ‘I love my Mummy because she tick(tickle) me.’ With that, Ryan wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and told me that he loved me. It was one of those Fridays where I felt boned-tired and maybe just emotional. I asked him if he loved me all the time, even when I am a bad mother?

‘Mummy, I love you all the time. Even when you are bad,’ he said to me, stroking my face.

‘Hmm… when is Mummy bad?’

‘When you don’t let me watch my television…. You watch too much TV(referring to the Great Interior Designer and The Voice) and I want to watch my dinosaur shows. But I still love you.’

It is nice to know that my only failings as a mother to Ryan is letting him watch his ‘Dinosaur’ shows and not the countless of lectures and scoldings that I give him on how sharing is important and  how he should strive to be a good boy. It is not the boring lunch boxes that I prepare for him. Neither is it of me having to give him less attention as he has two other sisters. It is nice to know that kids are always so forgiving, so ready to love.

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