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 4th Birthday

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fighting Depression


The year of 2016 was unimaginably difficult. For most people who struggle with clinical depression, the journey is already tough and lonely beyond words can describe. For a mother with four children who utterly depend on her for everything without outside help, fighting depression is a whole new level of crazy. 

Many people with this ailment can't even get out of bed on bad days and they have to miss work often. However, that has never been an option for me. I have no choice but to drag myself up to meet the needs of my children no matter what kind of hell I was going through. Children are not concerned about the suffering of their caregiver, just that they are not getting what they want. I couldn't even cut myself some slack regarding my chores and routine even if it killed me. 

"Where is our tea break, mummy?" 
"When are you ever going to play with us?" 
"You keep forgetting to sign my homework!" 
"I want mummy to do this for me! NOW!" 

Those were the only things said to me most of the time while I was in the throes of psychological anguish. I would have committed suicide a thousand times if not for the loving grace of God.

I researched madly on how to combat the mental illness and started making lifestyle changes. I became much more intentional in putting on Christian music and worshipping the Lord while doing chores or when I get terribly troubled. Counselling in church and therapy sessions at the hospital helped during critical periods. I bought an exercise machine which I tried my best to use if my children allowed me any time at all to do so. I started to drink fruit juices everyday. I avoided junk food like the plague and took supplements. I made sure I down at least 2 litres of water everyday. I began to monitor my weight because significant changes might alter my body chemistry. I removed my emotional triggers. 

Unfortunately, my no. 3 kid was one major trigger for me and so off she went to my mother-in-law's place to live for a month, giving me time to recuperate. Alas, some friends of mine were more worried about the emotional scars she'll probably have and that she'd grow up to be a delinquent because she might feel abandoned by me. They told me scary stories about the damage the poor child would experience and it would be too late to fix it afterwards. My question was: What about my sanity? Am I far less important than my child? Is sending me on a guilt trip while I was struggling with ending my life a necessary thing to do?

The stigma of depression is still very much ingrained in our society. When I post happy things on Facebook, there are so many likes and comments. But when I reveal my difficulties, only a handful of kind souls responded. Some more poignant posts were even left ignored completely. 

Depression is by itself an extremely lonely sickness. For a homemaker like me, it was far more so. Precious few people, if anyone at all, bothered to visit me during my down times for the past one year. That is so extremely sad especially since adult company was what I needed most. My husband, being the sole breadwinner of the family, could not afford to be with me during working hours and he had to help out with the kids when he was home to give me my much needed break. Who could I talk to except God? 

I am simply so grateful that God had gradually pulled me out of the darkness. I am far more fortunate than most fellow sufferers because at least I have a supportive, understanding husband and a deeply-rooted relationship with my Lord to ground me in. If not, I would have jumped down from my balcony window before the eyes of my four immature, inherently selfish children. The only thing that stopped from doing that was: What would God say?

It is ugly to talk about depression. There is no sugar-coating it if we are to be honest. If you have anyone you know who is suffering from it, please take a look at my following suggestions:

Don't try to give advice
Not everything can be fixed. The sufferer is far more desperate to be healed that anyone else. Chances are, the advice you want to give has already been explored or given by someone else. It is simply gruesomely tedious to keep answering the same questions again and again.

Give the gift of company
There is no lonelier path than to fight with demons by oneself. Visit them, bring them out of the house and talk about common hobbies. Share about life experiences that is beyond the depressed person's circle, which is very likely an extremely small one due to the nature of the illness. Sometimes, it is very helpful to just break the cyclical pattern of negative inner thoughts. If he/she doesn't want to talk, just be there. Your presence may very well be a life-saver, literally. 

Don't take it personally
You can't expect a depression sufferer to NOT talk negatively. What the person says is not to spite or hurt you but just an expression of the broken inner world that he/she is experiencing. There is no need to correct every wrong thing spoken unless the person is an imbecile who knows not right from wrong. Just lend a patient listening ear. After the poison has been released, there is then room for the good stuff. 

There is no time frame for healing
As with most debilitating illnesses, there is no such thing as the person must get better after a certain amount of time has passed. It can be better managed and he/she can resume functionality but any number of emotional triggers can sent the person toward the downward spiral back to square one. As a loved one, you can only be accepting of the condition and refrain from judging. Someone wrote before that a depressed person should be given a medal for every time he/she gets out of bed in the morning! 

Not everyone suffering from depression is the same
As much as many symptoms and coping methods are similar across the board, depression can be as varied as autism or ADHD. There is a broad spectrum and each personality responds differently and have different circumstances. Treat the patient with respect. Ask what you can do to help instead of insisting on "helping" the way you think is best. You might just push the person closer to the edge. Mental illness is far more tricky than physical illness.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Our Christmas Tradition


Two years ago, we started the tradition of giving back to the community during Christmas. Because the Santa Run for Wishes we were involved in was scheduled to happen a long month ago, we wore our race t-shirts again during our Christmas lights tour down Orchard Road as a reminder of what we did.

The race packs included one-for-one vouchers for Swensen's ice-cream buffet and so I thought it appropriate that we started off our night indulging in sweet treats to sugar-charge up our bodies. LOL It was like a dream come true for the children!



The street performances were already starting after dinner. I'm really thankful that we decided to watch them first instead of admiring the light decorations because we could only enjoy two of them before it began to rain cats and dogs. 




We hid from the thunderstorm at Paragon's Toys R Us. The kids entertained themselves with the available scooters and toy strollers and us bored parents resorted to taking selfies and having "sword-fights" to pass the time. :P After which, I exchanged notes for a dozen of coins so that the children could binge on kiddy rides, something of a rare delightful occasion to them. 





It was getting relatively late and we were trying to grab a cab home when we realised that the traffic jams were worse than normal due to the downpour. The taxi queue was also unbelievably long. What a blessing to then discover that the rain had finally diminished to a feathery drizzle!

Since we didn't manage to see much of the Christmas lights before, we took the opportunity to take the MRT home instead and in doing so, get to enjoy the decorations on our way to the train station. Furthermore, we had ended our stay at Paragon with a hearty supper of wholesome broths at Soup Spoon, so the kids had enough energy for the especially extended tour which pushed past midnight.






It was amazing how this trip downtown has tested the physical limits of the entire family. In the first place, it was an extremely early start to the day because we had something on in the morning too. Yet, I found the children to be exceptionally well-behaved despite the rigors and I truly enjoyed the evening out with them. Praise God for sustaining us! Here's wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and may we continue to spread the joy of our Saviour's birth.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Keepsake


Joram just outgrew his yellow baby bag. It has been a tight squeeze ever since we added a notebook and colour pencil case for him to bring out. However, it was still considered a low priority issue because the bag was not damaged. Thus, we didn't try to upgrade for him till now. His aunt just bought him a new bag for Christmas. 

After transferring the contents, I was about to put the old bag up for donation when I realised that this is probably the only other non-furniture/toy item which all four children have used, some for a longer period than others. The other item was a pair of yellow overalls which I posted about a while back. (You can read about it HERE.)


In the end, I decided to wash the bag and keep it together with the overalls as souvenirs from their babyhood. I wonder if they'll last till my first grandchild is born to be useful once again... *wistful*

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Final Frontier


The last time we were at IKEA Smaland, Joram was not allowed to enter the playground because he was an inch short of 90cm when he took off his shoes. We had to deal with his profound disappointment for the rest of the day since we told him that he could go in because he has already been using the EZ-link card from the time he was the right height, with shoes on, a few months before the trip.

Can you guess which one is Joram's? :P

Fast forward half a year, Joram can finally enter the play area there! *applause* I nearly had tears in my eyes when I saw all four of my kids go inside together. My baby is rapidly growing up, much to my delight. He is now able to fully enjoy all our outings because he understands so much more than before. He has gained confidence and can do so many things he didn't dare do in the past. No longer confined to the stroller, he is right at home with his older siblings having fun. 

My heart was warmed when I saw the sparkle in his eyes during our trip down to the Land Transport Gallery this school holiday. He was utterly excited running from one installation to the next. Gone was the stranger anxiety from his younger days as he happily chatted with our tour guide.

His favourite vehicle by far.

Got the bus bell
as a souvenir.
He kept pressing it
all the way home!

Used to be afraid of getting wet, Joram had always got to sit out on water play. The poor timid boy would have been relegated to the sidelines, watching the older ones squeal and laugh in their games. The recent trip to the IMM rooftop water park saw him overcome his aversion and join in the exhilaration after half an hour of coaxing. The rest is history. 

Approaching with caution

This is so much fun!

Furniture Upgrade


I have replaced the blue Mammut round table and chairs with these. As the younger two start to do more pencil-work, the shaky play table is no longer viable and they fight over disturbing each other's work. Thus, I have to say goodbye to those pieces of furniture that have endured since the firstborn's era. I chose this particular set because it is relatively cheap. I didn't want to spend much because it'll only be a couple more years before the younger two go primary school and upgrade to regular-sized study tables like their older siblings. 

At first, I bought the set with one table and 2 chairs but I felt that it might be a tight squeeze for them to share the table. Yet, I'm unwilling to purchase two sets of furniture and the silly thing is they don't sell them separately. However, God has the best timing. As it happens, a fellow church-mate was giving away their IKEA table. (Probably because their matching chairs were broken.)

Now they can have their own tables. God knows best indeed!


At the same time, I have revamped the reading corner. I was constantly appalled by the terrible postures the kids find themselves in while lounging on the mattress as they read. It has gone from bad to worse despite daily reminders. Enough is enough! Sure hope that these armchairs will help...

P/S: The kids actually spotted these new colours and asked for them last year but I thought that it would be such a hassle to assemble all four armchairs so I said no back then. I was right, cos my shoulders are still aching from the exertion of putting them together yesterday! LOL


BEFORE
(And this is after telling them to stop slouching!)
AFTER

Monday, November 21, 2016

Archery





I discovered, via a CG mate, archery courses for children. Thus, to kickstart the school holidays, I signed my kiddos up for the class. However, in order to use the ActiveSG discount, I had to go through a very complicated and troublesome process to make it happen. But what to do? With 4 kids, I can use whatever savings I can get my hands on. 

Regrettably, Jaide and Joram could not get our money's worth. For one, my little boy was too tired from the unexpected activities of the previous day and could only be coaxed to try the sport for a mere 5 mins before he retired himself to the stroller. Jaide had no stamina too. Halfway through, she said she was tired and wanted to draw instead. Looks like I should only sign them up again when they reach primary school age. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jaide Is 5


Sadly, our little imp was sick on her birthday. Despite our best efforts to convince her to celebrate another day when she's well, she pestered me for the entire day that she couldn't wait. So against our better judgement, we allowed her to buy her presents and have her birthday ice-cream during dinner, hoping against hope that after two whole days of TLC from us, she'd have recovered enough not to relapse. Alas! She fell ill again the very next day. When will Jaide ever listen to reason??? May God have mercy on us!


At least there was one thing nice that happened. Jaide wanted to try her hand at the ice-cream crane machine and I allowed her to do so since it was her special day. I fully expected her to need my help in getting the ice-cream eventually but to my surprise, she got one all by herself! She is really very capable if she is sufficiently motivated. If only I knew how to do it all the time...