Countdown to Joash's 6th Birthday

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Countdown to Jayna's 5th Birthday

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Countdown to Jaide's Birthday

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Countdown to Joram's Birthday

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Long Story

So many people have been asking me about my Facebook status updates regarding my health, but it is so difficult to explain the entire turbulent journey in a few sentences. This is why I decided to tell the whole story here in the hope that my loved ones can understand what I go through.

It all started a few years back when there was a sudden marked decrease in my energy level. I thought that it was simply a matter of ageing, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it was more than that since it wasn't a gradual change. I even went to the clinic to check my thyroid, just in case, but the test came back fine.

Then, I found out that I was pregnant. I was very shocked because the vision God had given me showed only 4 children. Already utterly exhausted with caring for the existing children, I was simply too busy to do anything about my discovery. I didn't even have the chance to tell anyone about it or go to the gynaecologist. Two weeks later, I started spotting. Since I spotted before in my previous pregnancies, I did not think of it as a big deal and continued to run the crazy daily schedule. After a couple of days, I miscarried. 

I was devastated. I thought that I had lost the little one because I didn't take care of myself. Worse still, I feared that I had wished him away with my state of denial. The guilt was so heavy that I couldn't talk about it at all to anyone else.

Half a year later, a CG mate noticed that I seemed to be having an emotional meltdown about once a month. I had initially thought that I was simply burnt out and losing patience dealing with all the stress. However, the regularity of the occurrences seemed like too much of a coincidence. She suggested that I might have been having PMS. I was taken aback because all along I was only plagued with severe cramps during the first 2-3 days of heavy periods but I have never been especially irritable or emotionally affected before the time of the month. 

Another change brought the matter to a head. I began having ovulation pain too. It was a foreign concept to me until I researched online and found out that it was actually a thing. My CG mates encouraged me to go to see the doctor. After a few trips with scans and tests, one doctor suggested that I was probably suffering from hormonal imbalance. She prescribed hormonal pills and all the symptoms disappeared! This proved that her diagnosis was accurate. That was when I plucked up my courage to ask whether that had anything to do with my miscarriage at the beginning of the year and she said yes. Apparently, hormonal imbalance causes infertility and miscarriages. After hearing that, I finally felt relieved of the burden in thinking that it was my fault losing that child. Thus, I continued with the hormone therapy for almost two years which kept my health stable for a while.

The next thing I knew, I fell into depression. To combat it, I made many lifestyle changes which included doing away with the hormone pills. Sadly, after my depression got better, the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance came back with a vengeance. I tried to put myself back on the pills but it triggered a massive depression episode. I realised then that it was the hormone therapy which made me susceptible to depression in the first place. 

Hoping to find an alternative solution, last year was spent making multiple expensive hospital trips to see if the doctors could help me. After scans, tests and procedures, the verdict was this: there was nothing more they could do for me. The next step they suggested was exploratory surgery which has no guarantee of improving my condition. The risks outweigh the possible benefits. I stopped going back to the hospital.

Currently, during every ovulation period, I'll experience lower abdominal pain and emotional upheaval for about a week. I will have PMS a few days before my period and have cramps for about yet another week. This means I am basically enduring pain and feeling weepy half the time. On top of that, my ailment also causes chronic fatigue. No amount of sleep and rest can recharge my battery. I can't even properly enjoy myself doing fun stuff because I tire too easily. 

At the moment, I am coming to terms with my health condition while trying out supplements recommended by friends. There's not much improvement so far but it might help after long term use. Who knows?

All I know is that God is there for me. He does not condemn me for my reduced capacity even though my children find it hard to understand my limitations. I thank God for a loving husband who has been faithful to pick up the slack and took over some of the household responsibilities and the care of the children whenever I get incapacitated. I'm learning to be a human being, instead of a human 'doing'. I am slowing down my pace of life and I no longer feel guilty taking care of my needs first. At least, the children are older and more independent now. I want to truly appreciate this season of my life despite all these physical challenges. I am counting my blessings.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The SCO Experience

I have never dared to bring the 4 kiddos to the theatre for an artistic performance because of the sheer cost of paying for so many tickets and I am not confident I'd be able to enforce proper etiquette in such a sophisticated environment. Therefore, my children have not heard or seen a professional full concert band, Chinese Orchestra, ballet or musical performance before. 

As we were heading home for dinner from West Mall, I realised that the SCO was doing sound check for their evening gig under the tentage. The seats were obviously empty since there was still 2 hours to go before the actual thing started. I quickly asked the kids to sit down at the first row behind the VIP seats. We had just been to the library so the older three were very much self-entertained reading books. I left Joshua to look after them while I took Joram (who is still too young to be contented to read for an extended period of time) home with me to bake the sweet potato chips the children requested. Thankfully, they had a heavy tea break so the chips would be enough as dinner for them.

Joram and I came back just in time for the performance. The weather was pretty cooling since it was drizzling slightly. It was a luxury to be comfortably seated with the best view, listening to the orchestra music while munching on baked chips. You sure can't do that in the theatre! The best thing is, it was all free and there was no need to travel all the way to town to do it. What a delightful evening!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's in the purse?

Recently, I have been made aware by different friends on separate occasions that despite the deceptively small size of my bag, I actually have A LOT of stuff in it. Out of curiosity, I decided to do an inventory check of what I have in it. 

Size of bag in relation to me

My bag can also be classified as the bona fide Mummy's purse, since most of the stuff are children-related. For example, I would hardly have any need for first aid if I don't have accident-prone children with me.

I have a stash of first-aid / emergency items:
1) Plasters of all sizes for different types of wounds
2) Eye-drops
3) Lozenges 
4) Lip balm
5) Small container of moisturiser cum antiseptic cream
6) Medicated oil
7) Sewing kit

Next, mealtime and grooming equipment purely for the kids:
1) Wet wipes
2) Food scissors
3) Hair clip
4) Comb

And then there are things to do with kids' entertainment:
1) Mini colour pencil set complete with eraser and sharpener
2) Tiny toy vehicle
3) Note pad for drawing
4) Candles and lighter for birthday cakes

The following are necessities with regards to what I do very often as a homemaker: bringing the kids to the library and grocery shopping. Although we can now use the phone app to borrow books, I prefer to let the children do their own borrowing with their library cards to cultivate independence. The foldable recyclable shopping bag is a must to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, when it comes to cooked food or wet items, there's still a need for plastic bags. That explains the existence of the two blue handles which make it easier to carry multiple plastic bags without them cutting into my palms.

Finally, here are my personal belongings:
1) Wallet
2) Handphone
3) EZ Link card
4) Hair-tie
5) Dental floss
6) House keys
7) My own medicated lip balm
8) Spectacle cloth

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Last post about Jaide

Yet another child has graduated from my blog! With Jaide entering primary school today, I am now officially left with only one preschooler: Joram. I am approaching the last lap of my homemaking journey and hoping to return to the workforce part-time 2 years down the road when Joram goes P1. I look forward to that day with eager anticipation. 

Thank God that Jaide has learnt how to read and write adequately enough, in time for this new stage of her education. Physically, she has grown much. In fact, she couldn't fit into the new school skirt I bought two months ago! In the end, she had to borrow her older sister's skirt to wear to her first day of school. *facepalm* As for her maturity, she has much to improve on, especially with regards to listening to instructions and obedience. Still, I harbour hope that God will continue to mould her character in time to come. 

I pray that Jaide will be able to demonstrate well her leadership skills in school and learn how to be less reckless and wilful. May God watch over her as she explores her various capabilities!

Here were the last posts about Joash and Jayna.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas elves and
gingerbread kids

We did not put up any Christmas decorations at home, nor did we plan any special family outreach program to bless our community this year. That was because I, the sole organiser in the family, was deeply involved in our church's Christmas musical. I was already maxed out bringing the kids for preplanned outings while attending the rehearsals. It was a step of faith, a step I took with fear and trembling, to trust that God would safeguard my ailing health as I proceeded to serve Him in this manner. And He was faithful indeed! Praise God for seeing me through the punishing schedule for the past two months!

Since the actual performance was on Christmas Eve, my battery was beyond flat and could not bring the kids out for our traditional Christmas light walk down Orchard Road that day. We postponed it to Christmas Day instead, despite the fact that there were no street performances to watch anymore. 

Thankfully, Sony Pictures produced an exceptionally beautiful animation movie about the Christmas story: The Star! The munchkins totally adored the animals in the show and laughed like crazy over their silly antics. I appreciate the producers for showing their consideration to the young audience by taking out the parts of the actual historical narration which are not suitable for their age group. 

This year's lights were rather plain as compared to other years'. Even the kids mentioned that the decorations were not as nice as before. Still, there was this interesting tunnel with glow-in-the-dark painted words and designs which the kids enjoyed. The Star Wars theme at Centrepoint was pretty cool to the kids too. I personally found the choo-choo train simulation outside ION Orchard really lovely. Sadly, Orchard Gateway's space theme was simply too weird. Did they run out of ideas after many years of good displays? *shrug*

Joram was really amused
by these giant presents

The children pestered me to get these LED lit bubble balloons for them. I was very reluctant at first to buy when I was told it cost $15 per piece but we managed to find another vendor down the road who was selling it at $10 each. The price was still steep but I figured it was just for a special occasion so I bought it for them. You should hear them squeal in delight when I finally relented. ROFL

However, our resident imp managed to spoil it a mere 10 minutes after purchase by ripping out the wires with her itchy fingers. Sigh... At least she had the decency not to throw a tantrum about it. In the end, the children actually asked me to remove the lights because they only wanted to play with the balloons. I then decided to spruce up my swing chair with the LEDs instead. *wink* I must get my money's worth!

The "naked" balloons


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Admiralty Park

After hearing so much about the recently opened Admiralty Park, we organised another CG outing. Since we had such a great time doing the picnic dinner previously, we decided to do the same for this trip. Frankly, the last thing I wanted to do, with my schedule packed with rehearsals for our church's Christmas musical, was to bring my whole brood out. However, the kids were looking forward to it so I valiantly trooped down with 4 kids in tow. Thank God that Joshua could take leave to join us if not, I doubt I could have survived!

Making our way there...

I was terribly exhausted so I spent most of the time lying down on the mattress protector which acted as a picnic mat, looking up at the trees and sky above while listening to music. I tried to hold an intelligent conversation with my CG sisters but I was simply too braindead so I contented myself with simply spacing out. 

Needless to say, the children had incredible fun with their friends. Joshua managed to capture some nice shots of them playing on the countless slides and playground equipment there. 

By 6pm, some of the kids started to complain of hunger and so it was time to whip out the food I prepared earlier in the day: baked Japanese sweet potatoes chips (paprika and onion flavoured) and aglio olio corn shell pasta. I asked Joshua to buy seasoned seaweed and almond/oats milk too. Totally love the wonderful group picnic feel. We shared glorious food among the different families.

And off the children went for a second round after the meal and they nearly refused to leave despite our repeated warnings to go off without them. *sweat* I'm just glad the kids loved the place so much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bread Factory Tour

A CG mate organised an excursion to the Gardenia Bread Factory. Since they had a minimum age policy, I could only bring the older three along. To help Joram get over his disappointment in not being able to join us, I asked Joshua to bring him to a small indoor playground instead. We took a chartered bus down together with 40 other people. 

On our way...

The first part was a simple introduction to the variety of bread produced by the company. Then, there was a video about the history of the brand. It was an eye opener for the children to enter the actual factory later on. They were shocked at the smell because other than the aroma of the baking bread, they said it reminded them of garbage. I had to explain to them that it was the smell of the yeast mixed into the dough at the first stage of production. They were pretty amazed at the size of the giant bread cooler. Sadly, photo-taking was not allowed in the factory. Before we left, the kids insisted on buying bread from the vending machine despite already having goodie bags of bread given to us by the organisers. *faintz* 

Video explanation

Bread vending machine

Meanwhile at Big Box...