Friday, May 17, 2013

Hitting the big 3-0 and taking stock of life (Charis ponders)

There are only a few instances in your life when you celebrate growing older. Your first birthday, your sweet 16 and your welcome party to adulthood at age 21 (or 18 for some). After that, you just want to bury all thoughts of growing older until when you are maybe, 60 - a ripe old age when you are considered wise and have contributed a lot to society. To me, my age stopped increasing at 25 :D

This year as I turned 30, I tossed around having a celebration for myself. Would it be awkward to throw oneself a party when you are already THAT old? Is there a reason you want to celebrate growing OLDER? But as I watched an insightful video (appended below for your viewing pleasure) on about how society views other 30 year-olds, I start to take stock about my own life. All 30 years of it.

The brunch party I threw myself for my birthday. It ended up to be very chaotic but fun
with all the young children around. I thank God for friends in Bangkok who can celebrate
my life together with me.

At 30, I am happily married to a wonderful man for the past 3 years, have a beautiful and cheeky boy who keeps me young and have opportunities in life many envy (though I always tell them that the grass is always greener the other side). I have what I need, my family is healthy and safe and I have no undue cause of distress or sadness in my life. I have, what some would call, a charmed life. I guess that is reason enough to celebrate and give thanks for :)

My beautiful family. I feel that my calling now is to be a good wife and mother
to these two boys. The briefcase would have to wait.
BUT! Just a few days ago at our Wednesday Bible Study group, many questions kept me thinking. Were there things that I had to turn down so I could pursue something that was greater? What goals am I pursuing? Do I have a bigger picture in my life? We wondered what Jesus did in those years from when he was 12 till when he started his ministry at 30. Did he know that he only had 3 years? Even with just 3 years, he achieved so, so much. I remembered then I had dreams I wanted to pursue. Dreams that are kept on hold or tucked away now. Do they matter now? What am I doing now to pursue them? Nothing much, I thought sadly.

What I know now, is that this is my season to be a good wife and a mother to my family. But it's also time to set down what my future goals are and start to work towards it. My prayer for my 30th birthday this year, echoing Moses' prayer in Psalm 90:12, is for God to "teach me to number my days" or "teach me to realize the brevity of life" so that I may not let this life, precious as it is, fleet away leaving nothing behind. I hope this prayer will be yours too :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jared's 1st birthday - the preparations

I think the privilege of being the firstborn is that you get to experience the best your parents can offer. But after all the preparations leading up to Jared's 1st birthday party, I wonder if I will have the energy for all his birthdays to come! But I know very well at the recesses of my mind, my fingers will start to tingle and I'll be heading towards the oh-so-additive Pinterest whenever Jared's next reason for celebration comes along.

Pinterest was super helpful with the preparations and was also the cause of late nights (just a little bit more...). I settled on one birthday theme to another (I guess that is not quite settling then). I had wanted it to be a superhero theme and encourage all our friends and family coming to come in their favourite superhero gear. I still like the idea, maybe I'll use it for the next one! But in the end, I settled for a rubber ducky theme since Jared absolutely loves bathing in the bath tub.

Cover photo used for the Facebook invitations.
Once I got the theme down, it was now on to other birthday party paraphernalia like invitations,decor and cupcakes. Who can forget the cupcakes? That was my favourite bit :) I commissioned a church friend to help bake a cake, of which an example was sourced from Pinterest, and also cupcakes. Since I am a very DIY-person, I decided to go with simple cupcakes and designed my own cupcake toppers. Inspired by many mothers who have gone this path before me.

Cupcake toppers

Love this cake! Rubber duckies were included on top later.
We also had tiny rubber duckies strewn about the place and the kids undertook themselves to hunt them down as if it were Easter eggs :) It was all great fun.

We had invited many of friends and family and had an "open house" concept so anyone could drop by any time of the day. With all that was going on, along with having to take care of a toddling almost 1-year-old, I had forgotten to take any pictures. All the pictures you see here are taken by our friend, Josephine. Thanks, Jo!

It was an enjoyable day of catching up with old friends, friends who have gone on to have their own children. So during Jared's party we had a mini play area for kids and babies to play. I wish I had photos to show, it was very pleasantly chaotic! :)

Some of the kids that day. We were trying to get them to sit together.
Sitting still is another thing altogether!

Then it came to Jared's big moment - the blowing of the candle. Jared was so taken aback by the crowd of people standing in front of him, singing the birthday song loudly that he refused to blow the candle (not like he knew how) and decided to burst into tears. Oh dear! You can plan everything in a party to a 'T' but you sure can't plan for no tears!

I'm one! I can do what I want!

Jared with grandparents.
In my short speech just after we blew out the cake, I had thanked everyone for coming. I had also felt the warmth of friendship emanating from each and every one who came. It was just a humbling thought knowing that these guys have journeyed together with us from when Sam & I were singles till we blew out the first candle on our son's cake. A celebration is not worth celebrating if not with friends or family that care enough to celebrate it with you :) So thanks to all who came and made this occasion a joyous one.

Here's to more happy reasons to celebrate together!
Our friends who came for the party.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A letter to Jared from his parents on his first birthday

To our son Jared,

A year ago today at 8am, you came into our arms screaming. That wouldn't be the last time you will be doing that in the first few months after your birth. You taught us many things that we can never imagine learning. Such as, learning one day that you like us singing to you but hate it when we both sing together. Was it because Mummy was trying too hard to harmonize? 

Taken today. Look how much you have grown!
As you grow, our lessons continue. We learn how to protect you from strangers who like to touch or kiss you in the train, we learn how much you love drawers so we gave you your own drawer and locked up ours, we learn that you love water too and you have no qualms about playing it in the toilet bowl and lastly, we learn that you are observing whatever we do by how you try to mimic us. Before you turned one, you had tried to: 1) talk on the phone 2) wash your own face 3) sweep the floor. 

As we celebrate your life on earth, all 12 months of it, we realize how much you are growing up. One day, we were walking together holding hands and then you let go of Mummy's hand to walk on your own. How hard it was for Mummy to let you be your own little man! It was with much strength that she didn't scoop you up, swaddle you tightly and put you in a cradle hold. 

We had to buy shoes for you. Shoes! Gone are the little mittens and booties Mummy hung out to dry days before you were born.

Today you said "Bye bye" to Daddy and he stayed a bit longer to play with you before going to work. Some nights you like to burrow into one of Daddy's underarms and fall asleep to the wonderful scent enveloping you. Other nights you like falling asleep with your short arm over Daddy's shoulders. It doesn't go all the way yet but one day, it will.

You sleep just like your Daddy. Mummy has pictures to confirm that.

Today you celebrated your birthday by climbing up and down the stairs with Gung Gung. Despite being under the weather, you insisted on playing with Gung Gung's pots and pans and your new toys. You make Popo laugh by blinking repetitively at her and pointing at your nose when we say ears and ears when we say nose. Mummy has a feeling you are pulling our legs. 

Learning to climb up the stairs.
Baby, you bring joy to everyone who meets you.

So, many happy returns on this lovely day, son. Our daily prayer is that you continue to grow well and healthy. Learn to love and care. A cheeky smile on your face all the time. To continue to be curious about the things around you. Most of all, to grow up to be a happy little boy. 

Happy 1st birthday!
Remember that Jesus loves you. And you are special. May God bless you with many more birthdays to come!

With Much Love,
Mummy & Daddy

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jared is growing up (Charis writes)

How time flies! I must've said this a gazillion times but each time this hits me again and again. Our son is growing up fairly quickly and imaginative glances into the future (son going to school, dating and then getting married) always tears me up. Was it only yesterday I held him in my arms, him bundled up so snugly in his snuggly blanket thingy (I've even forgotten what's it called). Then, he could only move his arms and legs slightly. Now.... can you say Speedy Gonzales?

Having a baby made me look back into my past more often. Just the other day I was thinking about instilling self-esteem, confidence and wisdom in making choices in life for a child. It brought me back to a day in Sunday School when the teacher asked us what we would like to be when we grew up. I confidently replied, "a hairdresser!". The teacher hesitated and then asked if I wanted to be something else other than a hairdresser? What the teacher didn't know was that I had been to the hairdresser's before and they gave me a full braid which I had for about 4 days. That braid made me so happy I wanted to be a hairdresser.

Will I be supportive of what my child decides to do in life in the future? Or at least know the story behind his choices? Do I gently push him into a certain path or let him walk his own but offer guidance along the way? How did our parents raise us up?

Jared is growing up... and I guess, I am too :)

For now, the only self-esteem my son needs is to get on the push-walker. I know he can do it, but just right now he's a little bit hesitant. And also in the habit of shaking his head.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jared & food (Charis feeds and writes)

Since our last post on Jared's first step into the solid world, he has since gone on other foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas, pears, rice cereal and rusks. Jared loves his food! Or perhaps he just loves the idea of eating and loves playing with the spoon and the food that is laid out on his tray. But we all know who he takes after in this, heehee.
After having sweet potato for the first time.
This has been a great way for me to have my lunch as well. In the past, I will wait till he's asleep and that's usually not at a fixed 12 - 1pm schedule. But now, we get to eat together. I'm trying to teach him to eat by himself so it can get really messy. Suddenly it seemed like a better idea doing this just before his afternoon bath. Took me a few laundry runs and major cleaning to realize that. Doh!

Here's what happens when you let Jared eat on his own.
Time is a luxury ever since Jared came and every moment he's asleep, I'll be scurrying around doing little things. One can never know how long his sleep can go so I try not to start longer projects. Usually I get to update this blog only when he's taking long afternoon naps, just like today. Otherwise, night time, when he has turned in for the day, is the only time I get to do serious work.

That's why I love whoever invented the steamer blender and the food feeder! Jared's grandma and grandaunt bought the Phillips Avent Steamer Blender for his foray into solids and it has not disappoint. So easy to use and most importantly, so easy to wash. As for the food feeder, it is hands-free, fuss-free and the boy loves it! Here's a vid of Jared eating frozen pear puree from his food feeder which gave me lots of time to eat my lunch and also lots of happy laughter for Jared.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Half-year Birthday, Baby!... (Charis writes)

Jared, today you reach the halfway point of your first year with us. You have brought us so much joy and laughter, we cannot imagine a time without you in our lives. Each night, our prayer for you is to continue to be healthy & to grow strong, but mostly for wisdom on our part to raise you well. Oh, there were moments when we begin to doubt ourselves as worthy stewards of such a beautiful child! But whenever you look at us with those eyes, we see love, wonder, curiosity & contentment. So we dust ourselves off and continue on this journey of raising you once more.

I hope you will read this post someday 'coz these are the few special moments we shared together these past 6 months that I'd like us to remember:

1. Even before you were born, we already started worrying about you. The doctors here with their fancy machines told us you had imperfections and we should run more tests. What a blow to our faith! And naturally as new parents, we went with the worldly advice and we began to fear. Tests done after you were born showed nothing. NOTHING. The lesson here, son, is to trust in our Heavenly Father and rely on His strength.

2. You made your mother wait! Every morning in the final 2 weeks before you arrived, there was a heavy cloud over my head. It took a lot of strength & support from your Daddy and Grandma for your Mummy to keep sane & not feel inadequate as a woman. And I'm still working on that.

Now I make YOU wait for me while I hang the laundry
(but you get to play).
3. On the first night you were back home from the hospital, you made Daddy drive out at midnight (thank God we had a car then) to get a pacifier for you because you just wouldn't stop crying. Only the 24-hr convenience stores were opened and after going to 3 stores, Daddy finally found a pink one for you. It didn't help us that night at all.

Your first very pink pacifier.

4. On the very first day you were out of the house, we went to church. That evening, you wouldn't stop crying even after feeding you. And horrors, we forgot your pacifier! Again, Daddy had to run out and about to the whole stretch of Silom Road looking for one. This time there wasn't any and we had you wailing all the way home in the taxi.

5. Now you have 6 pacifiers and all you want is your thumb.

6. You have had 3 haircuts in this 6 months! The first time at 1mo at the barber's while you were sleeping. The second time at 3mo at Aunty Lin's and you were sitting quietly on my lap. The third time at the barber's again  at 5mo and you were sleeping again! Alas, now you are shedding quite a bit of hair.

After your 3rd haircut, you looked a little like Mr T.

7. You can hold your own bottle at 5 months! It can still get messy at times but now you've started showing off and started turning the bottle around like a steering wheel and holding it with one hand while facing one side.

You're a big boy now.

8. We share a silly but funny ritual now. Each time I carry you into the bathroom, you will start smiling as we enter and then laugh at our reflections in the mirror even as the lights began to flicker on. You do this every single time! And as I wash your little hanky, squeeze then shake the water out, you burst out laughing. Apparently you think that is funny :)

9. How amazed we were when we took you swimming for the first time. How nonchalant you were about it all and a face that said "no big deal!". If you could yawn at will, I do believe you would!

"Next! *yawn*"

10. How it took me 5 hours just to write this post. In that span of time you had pooped twice, took 2 short nap, played on your play mat, ate a banana and now you're back asleep again (and up again!). You're going to keep us on our toes, aren't you?

Happy half-year birthday to you, our handsome boy, Jared. Our prayer for you today is that you grow in strength and in good health. May you continue to be curious about the things around you and never stop reaching out your tiny hands to feel them and to learn. We pray that God will continue to watch over you and send tiny bits of wisdom to both your parents to bring you up to be a God-fearing and loving boy. We love you!

After your first half-year birthday celebration at Tony Roma's.
Yes, you dressed up!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Jared's first step into the solid world (Charis writes)

It's been more than a month since our last post on Jared. So much has happened! He's had another haircut since, flew on a plane again and has started sitting up on his own. Another HUGE milestone achieved is his first taste of solid food. Okay, second taste since he accidentally ate some tissue paper awhile back. Both of us were so nervous that day whilst baby sits in his booster seat happily unaware of what was going to happen.

After consulting Dr. Google for weeks, we finally decided on giving avocado as his first food since it is easy to prepare and is pretty tasty as well. I mixed it with some breast milk so it is runny, easily digestible and tastes familiar. We took close to 100 pictures and a video before our camera ran out of batteries. Alas, what goes in must come out and shall we say, what came out was ab-so-lute-ly NASTY. Ahh, Baby's Firsts are such memorable occasions. Here are some pictures of that day in actual order (warning: may be repetitive hence the captions and attempt at humour) and a short video at the end of it below. Enjoy!

The superstar of the day awaiting for what's about to happen.
After the first few spoons. "That wasn't so bad, mummy!"
"But I think it needs a little bit of flavour"
Daddy took over the feeding while Mummy took pictures.
"Mmmm.. yummy!"
Jared keeping things fast despite Daddy having Flash hands.
One spoonful.
Pinch of flavour.
Flavour (do you see a pattern?)
Jared's got his game face on. GRRR-nom-nom-nom
"Is that all you got for me, huh?" he taunted.
Getting the hang of it.
And loving it.
Got distracted with his monkey friend who's also smeared with green goo.
Oops! Someone was overzealous in either the eating/feeding!
"Daddy, I think I'm gonna throw up."
All done! Good job, Jared!
(He didn't throw up)