Thankful… for the beauty of nature

As part of our pilgrimage, we visited some Missions in California. The peace and tranquility of the Missions brought such calm to my spirit which I so badly needed. Being in contemplative silence, the beauty of my surroundings penetrated deep into my soul. How lovely it would be to live here for a couple of days every once in a while. Somehow I lost my spectacles here. Well I guess when I get too burdened by our busy lives, I can close my eyes and look through the lenses of my glasses and re-live the quietude of my time there. 

Mission San Luis Rey

Thanks to the time difference, I woke up early in the morning and headed for the beach. So nice to have the beach almost entirely to myself. Sitting on the sand and listening to the waves crashing on the shore was wonderfully therapeutic.

Pismo beach – California
On our drive up to San Francisco, we enjoyed the scenic tour of the 17 mile drive. We stopped for photos of this lone cypress tree which has been featured in many movies for being, er, lonely. What struck me was the vast expanse of the ocean in front of me. Made me feel the awesomeness of the universe and recognise just how tiny we are in this dance of life. Very humbling. 
17 mile drive – Monterey

On returning home, many friends remarked how fresh and radiant I looked, and that my happiness was palpable. How did I manage to survive the past 15 years with hardly a break from the kids! If only I could take such a wondrous breather every year to renew and recharge.

I am absolutely thankful for the 2 weeks away where life stood still and I had time to smell the roses.

Beautiful huge roses

Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus


Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A day in the life of a stay-at-home-mum of 6

When people hear that I have 6 kids, they always ask me how I manage them, after which they want to know what my days are like. Here’s a peek at what a typical school day looks like for me.

7.00 am: Send 2 of them to school with Kate along for the ride. The other 3 are either on school bus or public bus.

7.30 am: Feed Kate her breakfast and have a quick bite as well (usually her leftovers).

8.30 am: Take Kate to the playground. We rotate the playgrounds in our neighbourhood, if not she gets bored of them.

She loves sand play.. who doesn’t?

9.30 am: Take Kate home for a shower and our helper settles her down for her nap at 10.30.

10.00 am: Either breakfast with the hubs and running of errands, brunch with friends or yoga.

12.30 pm: Feed Kate her lunch and play with her before the rest comes back.

1.00 pm: Cook lunch for the kids if helper is busy with housework or if the kids have specially requested for something e.g. #4 will say “Mummy, can you make me baked rice tomorrow for my lunch when I’m back from school”.

1.30 pm: Pick 2 of them up from school if they are not staying back.

2.00 pm: Have lunch with whoever is home while keeping an eye on Kate. We’ll chat about their school day and it’s usually this time straight after school when they are bursting with things to share with you.

3.00 pm: Pick #1 from the bus-stop, fix her a salad and sit and chat with her about her day. The rest of the kids will either be doing their homework, playing with Kate, reading, or wasting time doing what-not. We have a no TV, no computer/ipad rule on school days.

#1’s salad: Tomatoes with baby mozerella

4.00 pm: Off to pick #4 from school after her CCA (the 3 youngest have their CCAs on different days so it works out perfect for picking them up). If Kate follows me, she will play with #4 and her friends in school for awhile before we head home. But if #3 is free, she will take care of Kate and I’ll go alone to pick her. I’ll take the opportunity to take #4 for one-on-one time somewhere nearby where we’ll grab a bite and chat while she does her homework. On days where no one stays back and I’m home with them, we’ll either be hanging around the kitchen making some snacks like ice lollies or their own culinary creations (read: peanut butter and cheese sandwich with blueberries squashed in between), going over to my sister-in-law’s place for tea, or the kids will jump into the bathtub and have some water fun with Kate if the weather is really hot (which is most of the time!).

5.00 pm: Watch Kate while the helper prepares dinner. The younger ones usually play in the garden with her or sometimes we all head off to the playground. If anyone has school stuff for me to sign or requests for supplies or other issues for the next day, I’ll get it settled.

6.00 pm: Dinner time! The older 2 come back late twice a week on CCA days, so they’ll eat by themselves later.

Dinner is at 6pm everyday

7.00 pm: See that everyone has their shower and are settling down to prepare for school the next day.

7.30 pm: Remind #5 to brush his teeth and get into bed. (Yes, I have to remind him everyday, if not he’ll read past his bedtime).

7.45 pm: Pick #2 from the bus stop as it’s dark and she’s tired after a long day at school, and it gives me a few minutes to chat with her about her day. Warm up her dinner and sit with her for 5 minutes to finish our conversation.

8.00 pm: Read to #4 before she goes to bed.

8.30 pm: Read to #3 before she goes to bed (they are in separate rooms and have different bedtimes).

(Nowadays, Kate doesn’t want the helper to settle her to sleep so I have to do it. Some days, I fall asleep while doing that so the bedtime stories for #3 and #4 doesn’t happen)

9.00 pm: Check if #1 or #2 have any other things they need me to settle or discuss.

9.30 pm: Exhausted. Unwind and relax by blogging. In. Peace. I have never liked watching TV or surfing the Net, so previously, I used to read or sleep. Now, by blogging, I am able to sieve through all the thoughts swirling in my head and by putting it all down, somehow it clears my mind and I know what to focus on.

So, this is what I do everyday, day in day out. Honestly, it is quite enjoyable as the 5 older kids are between the ages of 7 and 15 and we can have proper conversations about things they learn in school or issues they are facing. When they were younger, a typical day revolved around feeding them, showering them, changing diapers, putting them to bed, cleaning up spills, breaking up squabbles, carrying them when they are cranky, disciplining them, yelling at them. Sounds chaotic? Imagine doing all of that on 4 hours of sleep every night, and being pregnant half the time. Sometimes, I don’t know how I did all of that without running away. Hmm, I think there WERE many times I wanted to run away! So yes, life is great now. Well, if I didn’t know the bitter, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the sweet right?


Here’s what a typical Saturday of ours looks like.

To read how having 6 kids has changed my life, click here.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

My bucket list

Following on from my previous lesson about not over-sacrificing and about sparing a thought for myself, I’ve been prompted to write my bucket list in detail. There were so many things I wanted to do over the past 10 years. But as my hands were full taking care of the kids, they were relegated to a ‘Things I want to do when the kids grow up’ list which I stored in my head. A year back, just when I thought #5 was finally going into P1 and I will have plenty of free time while they are all in school, along came dear little Kate. But since I’m hitting 40 soon, I had better start to look at my list seriously and see if I can do one or two things each year before I look back and regret.

1. Take my mum on a pilgrimage

The last pilgrimage she went to was more than 20 years ago and I know it is something she would love to do once more, but dare not even ask for. I figured that if I don’t take her soon, who knows what might happen in future? She’s already in her 70s and may not be able to walk so much as she ages. She has done more than her fair share of looking after the kids, and I think it’s time we show her our gratitude for always being there for us without a word of complain. There will be a lot of logistic issues to work out before I can go, but I’m sure the kids will step up to the plate.

2. Volunteer with Samaritans of Singapore

I’ve always wanted to be a volunteer with S.O.S. to man the suicide hotlines. However, volunteering on a regular basis is still a little tricky at this point in time. I can barely find enough time to spend with the kids especially giving them one-on-one attention, so it’s hard to justify carving out a chunk of time to commit to the training sessions and the weekly hours. Well, guess this one has to be shelved for a couple more years.

3. Volunteer with Make a Wish Foundation

I heard about this many years ago and found it so meaningful. To grant children who are terminally ill one last wish before they leave this world. Perhaps I can find out if we can do this as a family, although the last time I checked, it didn’t seem suitable for kids to be involved in this.

Pondering life’s meaning

4. Work in palliative care

Ever since I got acquainted with this aspect of Occupational Therapy as a student, I knew this was the area I wanted to work in. We were working with a lady who had a few months left to live, and she wanted to record down all the things she wanted to say to her little daughter. That touched me so profoundly, to be able to help somebody fulfil their last wishes and to have the privilege of sharing their last days.

(Baby step: I’ve started volunteering at a hospice once a week, till Kate goes to school and I have more time to work.)

5. Set up a cosy hospice for children 

There is a hospice in Melbourne where the children and their families can check in to a wonderful environment at the last leg of their terminal illness. Perhaps we can have a homely children’s hospice here too. A place where the best medical care is provided at a cosy non-medical setting. A place where parents can safely put their child at while they get some respite from the over-whelming burden of caring for a sick child. A place where there are volunteers to spend time with the siblings and extend care and counselling to them too, in their struggles in coping with losing a brother or a sister. A place where there is so much going on for the children – play, activities, fun, with a whole lot of love. A place where life is celebrated, no matter how short it is, and where the focus is not on extending life, but on bringing the most meaning to the last days of their lives. I don’t quite know how this would materialise, but still, good to have a vision!

6. Give talks

Not only do I enjoy writing, I very much enjoy talking. We used to get cold feet before a presentation, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. When I was an undergraduate, I had the honour of giving a speech to the heads of departments of all the faculties in my university and I actually had a great time speaking to such an audience. Maybe I will look into giving some parenting talks but don’t know if anyone wants to listen to me, ha.

These are more frivolous things which I wish I had more hours in the day to do them.

7. Voice-overs

I was reading about this as a job, and I would get such a kick out of hearing my voice on some automated machine. Will try that some day, just for the fun of it! I’m sure the kids would have a great time laughing about this one.

8. Attend cooking classes

I can’t cook to save my life, but I do wish I could cook nice meals for the family. When they were younger, they were happy to eat what I prepared. But now, they can tell that their mum’s cooking skills are really amateurish (especially my eldest), although I’m slowly getting better with the help of cookbooks. I really like how in some families, the mums or grandmas can cook so well that the whole family looks forward to coming home to mum’s home-cooked meals, even when they are adults.

9. Attend talks and seminars

There are so many interesting talks and workshops going on, and I love to learn and open my mind. Be it in investing, health and nutrition, or lifestyle issues, I wish I had time to learn more.

10. Take up piano lessons with Kate and #2

I did pass my Grade 8 piano exams, but I was taught the boring rote learning way. All technical. I want to be able to play by ear, to really make joyful and exuberant music. I taught the kids some basics, and #2 seems to have a flare for it. If we have excess cash, it would be lovely to enjoy some good piano lessons as a family.

11. Stay at a wellness resort for a week

Something like Como Shambhala, with 1 or 2 close friends. The Bhutan location sounds incredible for such a retreat. How indulgent. My 45th birthday present perhaps.. when Kate would be fine with me gone for so many days.

12. Spend a weekend at a semi-silent retreat

In our lives, there’s just too much noise, too much distractions (especially with so many kids!) I really like the sound of silence, where I can think, contemplate, and grow my faith. And to listen to my inner voice. What bliss. Don’t ask me why, but I still feel guilty spending time away from the kids for my own pleasure. Sigh. Occupational hazard.

13. Take a trip on the Orient Express

I’ve always wanted to experience this since I was a teenager. There’s something just so charming about luxurious rail travel. Must be the great advertising. Someday, someday.

Ok, done. I will pin this up somewhere and like how they say, when you visualise it daily, it will materialise. 

Go ahead, write your bucket list. By penning it down, there’s a higher chance it will get accomplished. Don’t know about you, but I find great satisfaction in crossing things off one by one! And as life coaches will tell you, to make your goals happen, you need to declare it to people around you so that you will be held accountable. I’ve just declared it to so many people, hence they will surely be realised 😉 Let’s do this together, folks. Let’s live lives without regrets. Carpe diem!

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”  – Chad Michael Murray


Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Life Lesson #1: What having 6 kids did to me

I was reading a post on a fellow blogger’s Facebook, about the struggles of having 3 kids, and of having parents or in-laws watch you barely surviving and telling you, “Want so many kids for what?”

So for those of you with multiple toddlers and struggling, this piece is for you. 


I totally agree that the early years are difficult, even torturous maybe. I remember the time when all 5 of them (plus the hubs AND the helper) were ill with stomach flu and were vomiting all over the place, day and night, over the course of 3 weeks.


I was so sleep deprived, tired and frustrated from cleaning up and changing sheets that I wished I could just walk away. But I couldn’t. I still had to be there for them. I learnt to find my inner strength.


However, that is just a season. It will be over before you know it (yes, even though it doesn’t seem so).

The wonderful thing is, do you know what are the 3 greatest gifts I have received after becoming the mother to 6 little human persons?

Happiness

1) I’ve got my priorities right

We race through life, chasing after so many things. This is just how our society is.

We don’t have time to pause to think.

But at the end of it all, did all those things bring us any lasting happiness?

Probably not.

Having so many kids, I didn’t have the luxury of time to do whatever I wanted. I had to scale down my lifestyle.

I was forced to sit down and think.

What exactly were my priorities?

What was important to me in life? 

I realised that it was to have family and friends around me whom I care about dearly and who care for me.


I used to take my parents and in-laws for granted, but after going through many challenges myself, I can understand what they must have gone through.

I now attempt to spend more time with them, to be more patient with them and to do what will make them happy as they are on their last leg of life’s journey.

Now, I also much prefer having intimate chats with close friends as compared to gatherings in big groups, as we share our lives and our struggles and we listen and support one another through the ups and downs of life.


I’m also trying to find time to do more charity work as a family and to help others in any way we can.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey
 

2) I’ve learned to live

Have you ever watched kids playing in the rain?

They look like they have absolutely no cares in the world.

They radiate joy and happiness, laughing and having so much fun.

Just by being fully in the moment and enjoying whatever they are doing.

So simple yet profound.

We as adults have forgotten how to live.

We are doing, we are accumulating, but we are not living.

And we think, when we have that, when we have reached that point of success, (or for some of my single friends) when we find the right person and get married, things will be perfect and we will be happy.

How wrong we are.

Life is in the now. 

After all the physical pain I have gone through with them; sitting with one at the A&E with a fractured arm, carrying one after an eye operation with both eyelids bleeding, rushing one to the clinic when an allergy almost killed her, all these re-focused me on what is important in life.

At times, I was so physically, mentally and emotionally drained that I didn’t know how I was going to carry on.

But you do, you just do.

And only when you are stretched, when you are pushed beyond your boundaries, do you grow.

Only by emptying of yourself are you fulfilled.

The irony of it all.

I have learnt that I have a capacity to love so deeply.

Having children makes you go beyond yourself.

Be it the ups and downs of life, the happiness or the sadness, I am now able to embrace all of it. 

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde

 

3) I’ve found true happiness

Yes, having so many kids have limited what I can do at the moment.

With little kids, my life slowed to a crawl.

But it was then that I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life.

Marvelling at the beauty of a flower, watching the ripples in the pond, sharing a mug of hot chocolate with an easily contented child.

All of which I would have never had the time to stop and appreciate, if not for the kids. 

I dare say the memories of those precious times of sitting by the kerb, hearing the delighted voices of the kids sharing their joy of seeing yet another beautiful flower “Mom, look at this one! And this!” can rival my experiences of being at the Eiffel tower, sitting in a gondola in Venice, and even skiing in the mountains, all of which I did before I had kids.


It dawned on me that it’s not so much the place, but the people whom I am sharing the experience with, that counts.


I realised that true happiness comes from being with people you love.

And it comes from living for others. Your children, your family, strangers in need.

To be truly content, I only need my family by my side.

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but also becomes richer and happier. – Albert Schweitzer

So take heart, as those early years are but a season.

A season where you struggle.

But in your difficulties, you learn to appreciate the simple things. I took so many things for granted before, even something simple like being able to walk, and it was only after going through difficult times that I learnt to appreciate the good times.

Before you know it, that season is gone.

No more constant cuddles and little feet climbing into your lap. No more “I wurve you mummy” every other minute.

No more having the cutest little face peeking up at you with some mischief up their sleeve.

No more hearing those belly laughs with no cares in the world.

My oldest is now 15, yet my job is far from done.

The early years of physical demands are over. Now it’s a mental challenge. Yup, the teenage years.

I hope that I can continue to raise them to be people of compassion, to have a good and kind heart to go out into the world and make a difference.

For them to embrace life, treasure it and go forth with passion.

To find their destiny and to fulfil it.

To grow into adults with the right values which they will pass on to their children.

That is the legacy I hope to leave behind.

I am far from it but at least I have charted my course and I will plod along one day at a time, never forgetting to pause and smell the flowers.

I am thankful beyond words to have the chance to enjoy another little being. I was too busy surviving to have really enjoyed the journey with the other 5.

With Kate, I will be more present to her.

Because I have realised that life is indeed made up of the little things.

Here’s to kids.

Here’s to life.

Other life lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Life Lesson #2: Don’t over-sacrifice
Life Lesson #4: My bucket list
Life Lesson #6: Passion vs Family
Linking up with Mamawearpapashirt:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Wound adhesion: Cured by physiotherapy

Those of you who have been following my blog will have known that I was experiencing so much pain from my caesarean wound till the point where I couldn’t even walk. I did some scans and the gynae said that the wound had adhered to one of my organs during the healing process. Yikes! I did some research and found out that stomach wound adhesions are very common and happens in up to 90% of stomach operations! (That sounds really absurd to me as none of my friends have such pain after a C-section and none of them know of any friends with this problem after a C-section). In most cases, it is painless (ah, that explains it), but for some, as the scar tissues start to impede the movement and function of the organs around it, that’s when it causes chronic pain. In some cases, the pain becomes very debilitating, and another surgery has to be done to lyse the adhesion. 

I didn’t like the sound of that one bit, so I got a second opinion to see if there was any other option. The gynae said that this type of operation can easily be done using laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). Sigh. I really didn’t wish to have another operation, but what choice did I have? I did more research and it seems that even a laparoscopy may have a 50% chance or resulting in adhesion again! That didn’t seem like a good solution to me. 

Then a friend texted me and told me that her sister’s friend who had a caesarian done 20 years ago, had also been experiencing pain intermittently due to wound adhesion. Recently, the pain got so bad that she had to go for an operation to separate part of the intestines from the wound. As a result, the intestines became shorter, which affected her nutrient intake, which led to more problems. She suggested that I had better do something about it soon and not wait till the problem became worse. I was troubled as I couldn’t see a viable solution. How was I to run a family of 6 kids when I could hardly even walk? Or to undergo another operation which might not even solve the problem? 

“Got to get this for mummy”

The next day, I had to take #3 to the dentist. As usual, I got her to load the skate scooter into the car as it had been my mode of transport for the past few weeks. I have a walking quota, and if I exceed it, my wound area would start to hurt very badly. She commented sagely, “Mum, you can’t live like this for the rest of your life”. I replied, “Yes, I know, but what can I do about it? Leave it, also cannot. Cut it apart, may get stuck again. How?” The only thing we could do was to pray.

We went for her dental appointment and our dentist saw me hobbling along. I related my sob story, and she advised me to see her physiotherapist. “Physio? You got to be kidding. What can he do?” She told me he was really really good and convinced me to see him. 

So I decided that there was no harm in trying, and I might as well try any other non-invasive ways and eliminate all other options before I go for the laparoscopy. So I went. 

The physio, David, was so experienced that he could figure out my problem immediately after I related everything to him and after he assessed me by asking me to bend here and there, stretch here and there to ascertain where the problem areas were. In fact, my other problems of pain in my shoulders and in my hips which I have tolerated and lived with for so long were all inter-related to the wound pain. Because I had been compensating and bending over to minimise my wound pain, my whole alignment had been shifted which resulted in tightness and pain in other areas as well.

He explained that because of the adhesion, the muscles around the area became so tight that it bundled the nerves and everything, and it was like a traffic jam and that area was the bottle neck. Nothing could flow properly, and the toxins were all trapped there. He prodded the muscles and I could hear a lot of strange noises coming from my stomach. Apparently, all the gas, toxins or ‘chi’ (whatever you call it) were released and it would help the blood to flow properly again. He loosened all the muscles around my pain site and taught me a couple of exercises which I had to do daily.

I still couldn’t believe that my seemingly insurmountable problem was cured just like that! I walked gingerly to the car, half expecting the pain to return. The next day, I went back to my crazy routine of running around managing the kids, and there was no pain at all! It was amazing. I haven’t managed to walk like that in a year! I felt like the lame being able to walk again. It was nothing short of a miracle to me. I am indeed very thankful to David for his wonderful skill, and his passion in helping people regain their physical health. And thank goodness I had taken #3 to the dentist that day and spoken about it. If not, I would have gone ahead with the laparoscopy. Prayer answered? #3 said, “For sure” 🙂

Linking up with:

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

6 resolutions for a happier year

I love lists, and I love to list down resolutions so that they act as a sort of compass for the coming year of the priorities I would like my family to focus on for the next 365 days. I must say that the silver lining from my 1 week of bedrest in the last week of the year was that I had the time to pause, reflect, and think carefully about how I would like 2014 to be. 

1. Make our lives more meaningful. 

We will simplify and slow down our lives and take on activities which are enriching in mind, body or spirit, and not those which are sapping of energy or time.

Will spend more time at home chillaxing with good company

2. Focus on building relationships. 


In the business of life, we tend to neglect the cultivating of friendships. We tell one another that “One day we must catch up” but never make an effort to do so. The theologian Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to say that “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship”. Wise man.

3. Pay attention to our health. 

Our diets have always been too heavy on meat, so this year, we will have more salads and eat everything in moderation. Having been immobile the last week of 2013, I will remember to stop rushing around and be more aware of not over-doing things.

One of the most practical Christmas gift hampers we received

4. Spend time in the great outdoors. 

Gadgets have become too much a part of our daily lives. We need to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature, to let the stillness and peace prevail. It will be good for our bodies and good for our harried souls.


5. Be of service to others. 

Only by serving the less fortunate will we be constantly reminded of how blessed we are. And by giving of ourselves, we cannot help but find happiness. It is also a great antidote to today’s self-centeredness in our children. We will strive to be of service to others in big and small ways. 


6. Lighten up and laugh often. 

We tend to have so many things on our minds that we can’t let go and have a good laugh. Sometimes we are so stressed and tensed that we don’t see the humour in anything. Looking at the way Kate laughs, with pure abandonment, I learn to put our adult worries and problems aside, be in the moment, and see the pure joy, that is Life.

I love to hear those belly laughs from babies
And above all, I will live life with a new-found sense of excitement and passion!

Care to share your list?



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A sad Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve ever since I was a child, we would have a small and cosy dinner party with close family and friends over at our place. It has been one of our Christmas traditions and even after I got married, we continued that tradition of going back to my mom’s place for dinner. Even my in-laws would go over if they were not away on holiday.

However, this is the first time in my life that I didn’t make it there. My C-section hurt so badly that I couldn’t even walk. It had started to hurt during our HK trip as we did a lot of walking and I guess too much walking and carrying of Kate these past few days had aggravated the wound again, although it’s rather unbelievable given that it’s been more than a year.

So the kids and the hubs and even his aunt and uncle and cousins went over. My good ol’ friends from my secondary school days were also there and one friend even brought her parents along (we are very kampung style, everyone is welcomed!) And I was suddenly left at home. All by myself. You know, it’s strange. I love being alone. I love the silence and peace (especially as I’m surrounded by chatter the whole day). But to know that everyone around you is celebrating the occasion and are making merry together while you are alone feels rather depressing.

#2 & #3 decorated the tree at Por Por’s house

It got me thinking of all those people out there who do not have family to celebrate this time with. And those who may be having financial or family troubles that they face this season of joy with a heavy heart. For me, it’s just this once. What about the elderly who have no family or worse, whose family does not bother about them and every year, it’s the same dreary existence for them.

It was a sobering thought and once again, it reminded me that we have to always be thankful for what we have, not the material things but the important things in life, like having a family (even though it may not be perfect), and having good health. And I resolved that I would try harder to instill in my kids a greater sense of giving. And a heart for caring. Not only for their family members, but all whom they come into contact with. That they may always be a light for others.

My sad dinner.. but then again, at least I had food!

It really struck me that all things are relative. If I compared my dinner of chickpeas and water with their banquet of ham and turkey, I would feel so sorry for myself. But if I compared what I had with those images I saw on youtube of little children rummaging dustbins for scraps, I had too much. And instead of feeling depressed, I felt a desire to give. 

I have never been more glad to hear the voices of my kids as they returned home, bearing gifts and food. Suddenly, the gifts were immaterial. I just longed for their presence and to be surrounded by their childlike joy. Having my hubs and all my kids around me, I felt peace. And happiness. Wow. The simplicity of it all astounded me. 

Kate overwhelmed by so many presents

I got the kids to make up some Christmas parcels and instructed the younger 2 to give them to the ‘Uncles’ working on the garbage truck and to wish them a Merry Christmas when they come around in the morning. #5 was initially reluctant to do so as “the garbage truck is so smelly!” But I explained to him that those uncles have to bear with the smell everyday just to help us remove our trash, so shouldn’t we show some appreciation to them?

I opened all my gifts, and the gifts that touched my heart the most? Definitely the handmade ones. #2 spent an entire day making up these ‘pyramid of kisses’ for all of us.

Lots of hard work and sincerity went into her gift

What a beautiful and sweet gift. 

A labour of love

And #4’s handmade card takes pride of place in our bathroom, a place where daddy will see it everyday!

#4 took a lot of effort to craft this card

Sane tip: In my incapacitated state, perhaps I’ve stumbled upon the key to true happiness. By changing our perspective when faced with difficulties, by putting our priorities where it really matters, and by giving. And of course, by being thankful for all that we already have. Easier said than done? Hopefully I can embody this in the coming year.

Save tip: It dawned on me (again) that we have way too much stuff (maybe I need a 1 year family ban on buying stuff, although I know the hubs will be the first to flout the rule) and that Christmas should be about giving of ourselves to others more so than the giving of presents. May the true meaning of Christmas be in our hearts this season.

Linking up with:

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A look at my… 3 work tables

Station 1:

My Family Command Centre.
This is where I organise the kids’ activities and school documents. Full post here.


Station 2:

My home office. This is where I file all our stuff. The hub has been away, and I have a backlog of 1 week of mail awaiting my attention…


Station 3:

The hub set up this blogging station for me, and for the kids to use on the weekends.

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