Saturday, 31 August 2013

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Fun with Bread Letters

letter D
J showing letter o that he made
 
Age: From 2 years old

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Objective(s):
1. To teach letters in a fun way.

Materials:
1. Bread
2. Butter knife

Directions:
1. Cut and shape letters from the bread with hand and butter knife.

2. Show to your child and say its sound and name.

3. Ask your child to repeat after you.

Tips:
1. Show the letter and ask your child what letter it is.

Additional Information:
4.8.2013 - This was J's idea (4Y3M29D). He made an O himself, and said to me, "Mommy, see 'o'." I thought this is a good idea, and made more letters and we practised the letters. J was really thrilled and having a lot of fun. I must remember to repeat this activity again as a way to revise his letters in a fun way.

letter h

letter H

letter n

letter d

letter j



Wednesday, 28 August 2013

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Self-Esteem

As I scale down my "professional" life, I am learning to deal with the transient identity it gave. God is teaching me more about true self-esteem through this post by Joyful Heart on "Who Am I?"

One day, all of us will have to go through the same process, as one day all of us will retire.

Professional identity is transient.

In fact, all identities in life are transient (even our identity as a mom, that I am scaling up now, will all come to pass). We should be thankful for them, but they should not define us. I am glad that I am learning to deal with it now.

I see that also in Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, our respected ex-Prime Minister of Singapore, who is going through it right now and I feel for him. My heart goes out to him.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

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J Summary (4Y5M20D) - Stringing Beads Patterning

 
A few days ago, J came back with a bracelet with clear red and green patterning. I asked him if his teacher has helped him. He said no and that it was his own idea.
 
This morning, while waiting for me to prepare breakfast, J made this necklace all by himself. I helped him to tie the knot. It was his idea to have the round green bead in the middle.
 
At 4.5 years old, J started to do patterning on his own iniative without my encouragement in his bead work.
 
I will be wearing the necklace to his piano class, church and Rosa's birthday party today.


Friday, 23 August 2013

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List of Great Moms Past and Present



There is a lot of learning to do to be a mom, yet, no university offers a degree on how to be an effective mom. There is no formal preparation for a career as a mom, unlike a career in many other fields.

It is not easy being a mom. We can get discouraged, drained and disheartened at times. We need inspiration from someone who has been there and can show the way, leading us by their examples.

In my journey as a mom, I am researching and looking up to those great moms of the past and present. I want to learn from them - their experiences, their successes, their mistakes and failures.  Thus, I am making a list of great moms. Among them are:

1. Sarah Edwards




She is the wife of Jonathan Edwards, a great theologian in American history. She personifies the perfect wife and mother in Proverbs 31:10-31. I have written a post about her here.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

2. Mdm. Kwa Geok Choo

She is the wife of the late ex-Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. I am learning a lot from the speech of our Prime Minister, from the eulogy by her husbands and her children. She is not perfect, as we can see from the eulogies given to her. Her imperfection brought me comfort for my own imperfections. But she is an amazing woman and mom, and there are a lot that I can learn and draw inspiration from:

Extracts of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech from Singapore National Day 2008

"I remember my own experience. I’m a beneficiary of this. My mother was a lawyer. But every day she came home to have lunch with us. So every day we come home from school, three of us, my mother is there, we have lunch. Nowadays you would call it quality time. This was before people invented such big words. All it meant was she had time for us, we had time to talk to her."

"And it was a tremendous help. She avoided going out at night for functions. She had to go for, accompany my father, but business functions, very seldom. What it meant is less takings as a lawyer, less work, less conveyancing, but she decided her children were more important to her. And she acted on that and I think she was happy with that. And we’re definitely very grateful for that."

Eulogy by Founding Father Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

Eulogy by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Eulogy by Mr Lee Hsien Yang

Eulogy by Dr Lee Wei Ling

Eulogy by Li Shengwu

Eulogy by Li Xiuqi

3. Mary Maxwell Gates

Mary Maxwell Gates is the mother of Bill Gates. This is what's written about her, which inspired me:

"My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here-never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected. - (Luke 12:48)” ~Harvard University, 2007"

Source: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eimh45ehjl/bill-gates-from-those-to-whom-much-is-given-much-is-expected/

You can read more about her here:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eimh45ehjl/bill-gates-from-those-to-whom-much-is-given-much-is-expected/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124061372413054653

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940610&slug=1914904

https://books.google.dk/books?id=ubYgIB0TgUYC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=bill+gates+mother&source=bl&ots=9TF9c7TVQA&sig=KE0olNuyY555X-wiBmvsH4AG55I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CKkBEOgBMBlqFQoTCMTLxbn95ccCFcf-LAodYx4Jqg#v=onepage&q=bill%20gates%20mother&f=false

4. Kristine Barnett

A great mom who did not give up on her son, who doctors said would never talk, but gave her all and persevered on... A good reminder to all of us whose kids are labelled with autism, ADHD, etc. There is a purpose for every child, we just need to find it and affirm it, instead of trying to change our child.

This is a story of how we can build self-motivation in our child. We need to focus on what they are interested in and nuture that.

You can read more about her story here:


5. Josh McDowell

I have included a man here, because there may be readers who are father, also because there are things I can learn from him as a mom. I am reading his book called "The Father Connection: How You Can Make The Difference In Your Child's Self-Esteem and Sense of Purpose". It is available from Amazon:


6. Michelle

You can read her blog Joyful Heart.

7. Joy Foley

She provides many inspirations on my journey in motherhood. You can read her blog Grace Full Mama.

8. Christina Fox

You can read her blog To Show Them Jesus.

9. My own mother

Though my mum is a very simple woman and has not much education, my own mum's devotion and love for my father and our family, giving her all without any complaints is a source of inspiration to me.

For example, she will without fail make dinner everyday. She worked tirelessly around the house with three kids cheerfully. Even though I have a long education and a Master degree, and in the eyes of the world, I am seen more accomplished, but in so many aspects, I could not hold a candle to her.

I will come back to this list to update it from time-to-time. If you know of any great moms in the past or present, it would be great if you could share your experience.

10. May Oh

https://4wordwomen.org/one-womans-tale-to-having-it-all/

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A Mom's Learning from Sarah Edwards (Part 1)



As I read the story of Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards... I began to understand this verse from the Bible:

"Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." - Matthew 13:8

Sarah Edwards is an amazing woman who placed integrity and Christ above everything else in her life. As a mom, she has raised her children well, so well, that her legacy can be traced throughout many generations of descendents after her in USA:

1 Vice-President of the US
1 controller of the US treasury
3 US senators
3 state governors
3 mayors of large cities
11 college presidents
30 judges
65 professors
66 doctors
80 holders of public office
100 lawyers
many authors and editors


No, not that I have the ambition to raise the next Prime Minister of Denmark or Singapore (but I would like to raise a child who has the ideal qualities of being a Prime Minister). My ultimate aim is not that J has to "出人头地" (a Chinese expression best translated into English as to make one's mark or to  stand out among fellow human beings), but to raise an emotionally whole and healthy child, one who has a heart after God's heart and has empathy for others.

However, I am inspired by Sarah Edwards and the seriousness she placed on the high calling of motherhood. I want to learn from her. One can clearly see the benefits that came out from raising emotionally healthy children who have empathy for others from Sarah Edwards' life and example, and the descendents that came after her, although that should not be THE goal on its own.

Whatever God's calling is for J, raising an emotionally whole and healthy child will help J to have the right heart to step into God's calling for his life.

The Bible says:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

Now that I have taken the step to scale down on career and up on motherhood, I am looking forward to read these books and get more insights on what I can learn from Sarah Edwards as a mom:

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In Mourning...

It is done. I have cried over it. I have updated my Linkedin Profile - and it serves as my career obituary.

How funny how my Significant Other has been nudging me for the past 5 years (or since Linkedin started) to update my profile, but I didn't get around to doing it. Most update their profile, when intensifying job search, and here I am, ironically updating my profile as part of the closure and grieving process.

In grieving, I am saying good-bye to a raise that requires working full-time. This temptation has been a big struggle. I might not get another change again, but I will never get back J's golden childhood years.

In grieving, I am officially ending my professional life as a "lion". From today onwards, as a Part-Time Working Mom (PTWM), I will not be competing on equal footing as with others who work full-time, but as a friend of mine puts it, "this is something I accept as part of the package deal."

No, my Linkedin profile is not glorious. I am not any accomplished female CEO or something, but it reflected me, and no matter how small and insignificant it is to others, it is my sweats and time, my hard work and achievements over the past 15 years in my work life.

In doing so, I am learning to let go. I am learning to let go of having a false sense of self-esteem that is defined by my worldly profession.

In learning to let go, I am learning to truely understand the concept that I am created in the image of God and I have value simply because I exist and I am learning to build a self-esteem simply on this fact.

In allowing myself to grieve, I am learning not to get caught up with my career for which I had difficulty prioritizing, but to turn my face towards the goal of motherhood, which is the my highest calling and priority. I cannot serve both. Something must give, and I have made a choice. The Bible says:

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
(Matthew 6:24)

In grieving, I am allowing my mourning to run its course and turn into joy. I am excited about the journey that I am about take to be able to truely dive deep and learn from other great moms past and present and to immulate them. I count it a privilege. No doubt, I will surely stumble and fall along the way, but I know God will help me through. But I will hold on to God's promise in the Bible:

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
(Psalm 37: 23-24)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

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J Summary (4Y5M17D) - Cycling & Jogging

We have been encouraging J to jog, but he is not the type who likes jogging.

We don't push. We encourage. We lead by example.

Now that he can cycle, I will jog while he cycle. I inspired Daddy to do the same. Today, it was the second time that Daddy jogged along (My Significant Other does jog a lot more than me, but in recent years, has gotten so used to the car, that it has not been so frequent). Then something amazing happened, J started jogging with us for quite a while, while Daddy jogged and pushed his bicycle. J finally got inspired!!!

My perseverance of leading by example has paid off.

I jogged a total of 6 km today together with Daddy, while J cycled on the way there and jogged and cycled on the way back.

I will remember this and continue to learn to lead by example for J.

I am looking forward to more. We haven't been doing much Montessori, as the summer is so short in Denmark. I am focusing on outdoor activities and doing Chinese.

We didn't have any pictures because all 3 of us were running.


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J Summary (4Y5M17D) - Good Bye Stuart

The beige teddy bear in the middle is Stuart, and he is looking a little sad :-(

J woke up this morning and told Daddy in Danish, "Far, jeg har tænkt over det. Jeg er en stor dreng nu, og jeg behøver ikke at sove med bamse mere."

"Daddy, I have thought about it. I am a big boy now, and I don't need to sleep with teddy bear any more."

And J put Stuart up on the shelf this morning. He doesn't play with Stuart anymore. He doesn't need to bring Stuart along to where he goes. He doesn't sleep with Stuart anymore.

Wow, so matured!!! But wait, J, please DON'T grow up so fast.

Sob, sob... our boy is growing up too fast...

I asked Daddy, if he had encouraged him to give up the teddy bear. He said no. So this was all on J's own.

In fact, he hadn't been sleeping with Stuart for the past week. But today, it is for good. But, of course, J added that he will bring Stuart back, if he misses him.

And me? I am feeling kindda nostagic about the whole thing, happy that our boy is growing up and becoming more mature, and sad that this phase is gone.

I also feel a little sorry for Stuart. But why am I feeling so much for Stuart??? It is only a teddy bear and not a living thing.

I guess deep inside, Stuart kindda personify me. What happened to Stuart today will happen to Daddy and me one day.

One day, J will say the same thing to us, "Mommy and Daddy, I have thought over it. I am a big boy now. I don't need to sleep beside with you anymore. I don't need to tag along wherever you go anymore. I don't need to play with you anymore."

And he will put us "on the shelf." we will of course be very happy for his independence, but we will be very nostagic.

Sob, sob, sob... and I am recording this down for memory of a phase passed.

I am more certain and assured about our decision now. Time is really short.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

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Nursery Plan Lesson Plan 44: People in Church Help in Different Ways - 18th August 2013

 
Date: 18th August 2013
Time: 1 – 2.15pm
Concept Area: Church
Theme: The People in Church Help in Different Ways
Bible Verses: Galatians 5:13 “Help One Another.”
Bible Story: Through the Roof - Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man (Matthew 9: 1-8)
Teachers: Elaine, Juliana and Ashley

1 – 1.15pm: Singing

Use hand motions and sing the following songs:

• Jesus Loves Me
• Who Made the Big Round Sun?
• Clapping Hands
• These are Helping Hands (Demonstrate the Rhyme first)

Clapping Hands (Sing to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)
Clapping Hands, pounding hands,
Joining hands to help.
Others need to follow us
In helping out our friends

These Are Helping Hands (Say the rhyme)
These are my helping hands; they’re as helpful as can be. (Open hands stretched out front.)
These are my working hands (pounding); they’re happy as you see. (Wiggle fingers.)
God wants me to use my hands to help each other out. (Swing your arms.)
I can use my helping hands to help and clean and shout! (Have the children raise their hands in the air as they shout.)

1.15-1.30pm: Early Arrival Activity Time

Activity Station: Make a Pair of Helping Hands

Fold a piece of paper and trace the child’s hand onto it. Cut it out and open it. On each of the 10 fingers, write a job your child can do to help other children at church and at home. Example, bake buns, sweep the floor, clean up and pick up toys, peel carrots, set the table or feed the pet animal. Write the child’s name on the hands for him/her to bring it home.

1.30 – 1.45pm: Snack Time

• Ask the children to queue up.
• Ask the older children to help by giving out the cups, plates and rice snack.
• Sing the “Say Grace Song”
• Ask each child to recite: “Help One Another.” Galatians 5:13
• As the children to help to clean up before moving to game time.

1.45 – 2pm: Bible Lesson & Story Time

As the children sit around the table for snack, tell the Bible story.

Bible Story: Through the Roof – Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man (Matthew 9: 1-8)

Today, we are going to read a story from the Bible from the book of Matthew chapter 9.

Pray: Thank you, God, for taking care of me. Amen.

Bible Lesson

Do you know what this is? (Hold up a Bible)
This is the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God. (Point to your lips)
Do you like to listen to bedtime story?
God has told His story in his word.
The Bible tells the story of God’s love for His people, about Jesus dying on the cross to forgive our bad behaviour and give us new lives.
The Bible tells us who God is.
We see God’s goodness and His character revealed in the Bible.
How do we get to know God? We get to know God by reading the Bible and by praying.
God teaches us what is true through the Bible.
The Bible helps us know the right things to do.

2 – 2.10pm: Game Time

Game: Helping Hands Telematch

The children take turns to toss beanbags aiming at the helping hands taped on the floor. Once they hit the helping hand, a helper read out the message on the helping hand. Then the child twist his/her waist with the holahoop. Then run to the ball station and throw the ball into the basket and run back to the next in line.

Contingency Game: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?

2.10 – 2.15pm: Clean up Time

• Clean up together and sing the song “Time to Clean Up”

2.15pm: Parents pick up kids

Thursday, 15 August 2013

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Montessori Activity: Spinning Spinach



Age: From 4 years old

Objectives;
1. To continue to teach life skills.
2. To make eating vegetables fun.

Materials:
Spinner from IKEA

Directions:
Simply place the washed vegetables into the container, close the lid and turn it around.

Additional Information:
Besides transferring pom poms with chopsticks, cutting with scissors, this is what we are doing now for Montessori Practical Life - spinning dry vegetables.

J likes to help me to wash the vegetables and spin them dry.

We made it into our Desperate and healthy dinner - ready in just minutes today since I have no time to make dinner, after the parents meeting at the kindergarten. You can find the recipe here.


This post is also for memory that finally J learned to like raw baby spinach leaves. He is loving it and says that it tastes yummy. Spinach is very healthy and I am glad that he is eating them like Popeye now :-) He finished the whole bowl today.


And if we want to go jogging after dinner, this is a perfect light dinner that we can have :-)

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Keeping Fit

 

One of the most wonderful things now that J could bike is that we can jog to keep pace with him, while he bikes.

As parents, we need to model for our children. Besides modelling for character, it goes for healthy living too - good eating habits and keeping fit (ok, I confess that I hide the chocolate from J when I am eating them). And I hope we can do my best. This is not an area that we do well in, compared to my sisters and brothers-in-law, who are all doing long marathon almost on a daily basis! I can't find such time (nor interest), since I am spending a lot of my time home-schooling J. But a simple jogging, that I can do.

It is a wonderful summer in Denmark - the sun is shinning, the temperature is perfect. Jogging is easy. It will be tough during winter. So I better do it.

We find time to jog. I jog when I bring J to his kindergarten on Fridays. We jog in the evening when we bring J out for biking.

Oh, what wonderful summer for outdoor activities! I just wish it will last forever!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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Finding that Balance...

Before J came along, some people have told me that I am putting in 120% in my work. I took pride in that statement as proof that I didn't steal any of my employer's time. Whatever that I am paid for, I have given back in full - and more. I am also a perfectionist and very proud of my work. Nothing can shame me more than a project poorly executed, and very often that critique is myself. The pressure comes from within. My Significant Other said to me that I have to come to terms that I can no longer be a "lion" at work. It is another phase of my life.

But yet perhaps subconsciously I am still doing the same, even after J was born, and subconsciously, I am also putting in 120% in my family. I may be able to come to terms with not being a "lion" at work, but I could not come to terms with the guilt that lingers on. Something has to give. The price is that I am running my health down.

I have told myself that I will scale down, but each time I hit the office, I could not bring myself home without waiting for the eleventh hour, rushing and coming home late (and lots of takeaway dinners!) I truly admire working moms who can do that.

This National Day, I was reading more about LKY and his late-wife, and it led me to this blog post and I came across a very wise speech that our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made for Singapore National Day 2008. His words, especially those words that I have marked in red and bold, which made me sit up and think:

"...ultimately the woman or the man must make a personal choice. Do you work 110 per cent on your career or do you set aside time for other activities, for a balanced life? I think each person has to decide his or her own point of balance."

"I remember my own experience. I’m a beneficiary of this. My mother was a lawyer. But every day she came home to have lunch with us. So every day we come home from school, three of us, my mother is there, we have lunch. Nowadays you would call it quality time. This was before people invented such big words. All it meant was she had time for us, we had time to talk to her."

"And it was a tremendous help. She avoided going out at night for functions. She had to go for, accompany my father, but business functions, very seldom. What it meant is less takings as a lawyer, less work, less conveyancing, but she decided her children were more important to her. And she acted on that and I think she was happy with that. And we’re definitely very grateful for that."

"Today it’s harder to do this. The office hours are longer, the pace is more intense. People call them “office hours”. You must put quotes there because it starts in the morning but it doesn’t finish after dinner. And at home you are working, on holidays you’re working too on e-mail or Blackberry or whatever."

"But despite this, I think you have to maintain a balanced, fulfilling life and you have to keep a pace which is sustainable not just for one, two years and you burn out, but for a lifetime and you are in balanced equilibrium, and at the end of your life or when you retire you say I’m satisfied, I had a good career, I’ve taken care of my family, I’ve brought up children, this is what life is about."

"Work-life balance also applies to the children. I know a lot of parents complain about stress on their children, and especially complain because they say the education system causes the stress. We’ve trimmed the school syllabi – teach less, learn more."

No one can please everyone, and no one can escape from criticism, especially if one is a Prime Minister, but for me, I am very thankful to God for giving us such a wise, humble and personable Prime Minister, one who has a lot of integrity and compassion, despite having a job that has to please so many different stakeholders.

PM LEE's full National Day Speech can be found here:
http://www.sgpolitics.net/?p=475
http://www.sgpolitics.net/?p=477

I am running at a pace that is perhaps not sustainable in the long run.

I always think whether I have given enough at work. I am slowly learning that it is ok not to give 120% to my work, without feeling guilty. It is really ok. It doesn't matter what others think of me. It is also ok that I no longer choose to be a "lion" at work. I choose to be a mom, and it is ok not to hide this fact at work (I always choose the fastest exit, hoping no one will notice my departing). I am a mom. I don't have to act and pretend that. I will walk proud, when I leave the office.

I think having this said by someone such as our Prime Minister helps me to lessen my guilt towards my job.

Finding that balance, I am still working on it.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

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Mere Presence is Good Enough

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
(1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

I phone JN from afar, from Denmark. Sometimes I don't know what to say and I don't have good advice to give. Does it help at all? Being long distance, I don't have the pulse on things. Is it at all possible to nurture a relationship? Am I attempting the crazy and the impossible? Am I wasting my time? Will I be giving up half of my job to pursue something which is futile? But JN says, "姑姑, please call me every week."

God taught me through this writing, "Loving a Child Through the Challenges of Life," that mere presence is good enough. I don't need to do more.

God is saying, "My child, you don't need to do more. All you need to do is to faithfully call. You don't need words, eloquence or wisdom. Just faithfully call JN. The work is mine, and the glory is mine. Your mere presence to JN is the weekly call."

I now have a deeper and personal understanding of 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 1:17.  I don't need to have the right words. The work is God, the work is the Holy Spirit. I don't need to take the burden. I just need to set aside time, put aside what I am doing and faithfully phone JN. The presence. That's the love I need to show. That's good enough.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
(1 Corinthians 1:17)

When people say that I am attempting the crazy, and wasting my time. Let them laugh. I take courage. I no longer feel stupid, I no longer feel naive in attempting such parenting from afar. My heart is flooded with a quiet assurance. I may not succeed, but love cannot be measured by success. No matter how JN turns out in his adulthood, I will love him as best as I can as God enables me.
 
Thank you, God. I know my decision is the right one. (And I thank my Significant Other for assuring me of this decision and making this decision together as a family). When I feel discouraged, I will turn to this journal and this special moment with God, that I have jotted down with tears and gratefulness.
 
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26)

Friday, 9 August 2013

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JN Summary - Performance at the Singapore's 48th National Day Parade 2013

This year, JN's school was selected along with another school to perform in the Combined School Choir item at the Singapore's 48th National Day Parade 2013. The item he performed can be watched at around 0:09:40 - 0:10:45 secs from the youtube video. All the children performing were dressed in red and white. There were so many children and JN couldn't be identified in the video. I thank God that he has this chance to perform, because I believed that deep down, it meant a lot to him. It was after many Saturdays of practice that he put in to perform for his country.

In my posts on ADHD, we learned about the importance of compensating and building competence to buid self-esteem, and I am sure that this will be a positive step in building his self-esteem. A copy of the video is saved here as a memory.

As I watched the video, I too pray that in a competitive Singapore, a country which has nothing but human resources, and thus where achievements are hailed as the only way to self-worth of the individuals, that Singapore will succeed in its 2013 vision of being a more inclusive society - that everyone counts. Acceptance on the basis of the fact that we are citizens, not on the basis of our narrowly-defined intelligence.

JN, 姑姑 although could not be personally there to see you perform, 姑姑 was cheering for you all the way here from Denmark. 姑姑 is so proud of you. Thank you for the kind person who uploaded the full video, enabling me to celebrate my country's National Day from afar.



Thursday, 8 August 2013

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A Reminder to Ourselves Why Our Family Have Chosen What We Have Chosen


I am writing down to remind ourselves why we are choosing what we will be choosing for the sake of J and JN, so that...

when days of discouragement come,
when our direction is clouded with doubts,
when temptation strikes,
when the going gets tough... and we forget why we have chosen what we have chosen...

I will take this journal out and remember why we have chosen what we have chosen, helping us to remain steadfast in our decision.

1. The Urgency to Be There

The risks are high, but there is still hope for JN. But someone needs to provide the moral support and comfort. No one else will care enough to make the necessary investment. The urgency is now and it requires time. My heart aches as I read into the possible pyschological effects such children face. The hardship is further aggravated by ADHD. Here are quotes from various sources:

"The neglectful parent doesn't express much love and also doesn't really care enough to discipline. Their children tend to grow up with little or no lasting relationship with Mom or Dad. They're estranged because they feel forsaken. The parents' neglect may not necessarily be intentional — they may simply be in the midst of their own traumas and chaos, and consumed by their needs so much that they ignore or neglect the needs of their children. They don't purposely desire to neglect their kids, but they don't know how to deal with their own issues adequately and don't have the tools to be healthy parents.

Children with neglectful parents also have difficulty in school. Neglectful parents often shift the responsibility of monitoring the education of the child to another child in the family or the school system. As a result, when these children struggle in school, there is no parental guidance to get them the help that they need.

The result of these types of experiences can be devastating. These children are likely to feel alone, empty, and timid. Such a person is more prone to promiscuity, fear of failure and weariness toward life. They will find it more difficult to handle feelings of insecurity and withstand unhealthy peer pressure. They may experience trouble forming healthy relationships. Because they do not receive the necessary love from their parents, they often struggle to develop appropriate social skills with others, which lead them to loneliness. As a result, they often end up alone or in difficult marriages. Since their emotional needs were not met, they continue to seek to have their own needs met. This seeking can lead to the person becoming a neglectful parent themselves.

These children grow up with unbelievably deep emotional scars, and their only hope is to find Christ. The good news is not all children end up this way. There are some intervening factors that can prove helpful. One factor is if the child encounters healthy adults who are genuinely interested in their growth and are willing to serve as godly role models."

2. Building Competence

Many books talk about the importance of building competence one of the ways to building self-esteem, especially for children with ADHD. To do this, it spells TIME. It takes time to help a child discover his strengths and to develop a skill to compensate. Again no one else will care enough to make the necessary investment.

3. I Chose to be There. Full Stop.

The success or failure of this investment will not be a determinant factor of our decision. I chose to avail myself to JN. We chose to make this investment. It doesn't matter if it hadn't turn out well. The determinant is to provide a mentor for JN. And the most important thing is that at least I have tried and given my best. We shall not look back with regrets.

4. Closing Window of Opportunity

We had a meeting with J's kindergarten's principal. She brought up a very good point, that the window of opportunity is closing. J will be entering primary school in two years and JN will be a full-fledge teenager. If mom is to have any influence, it is when the child is young, and are looking up to parents. When the child enters school, his worldview will be pointed outwards, and parents will become more and more uncool to hang out with. If it is only to be the most important few years, it will be now. Kids grow up at lightning speed. Once missed, we will miss it forever.

5. Trilingualism Path

In our family, we have chosen the trilingualism path for J. I spoke with a colleague who is trilingual. How did her mom do it? Were there any trade offs and sacrifice? She told me that she attended language classes on weekends. Since her mom was working full time, she sacrificed her weekends (while her husband worked a lot). So, no one can do it all. Daddy and I are not willing to give up our weekends. Counting only waking time, J is experiencing Danish 10 hours a day, which is 70% of the time, leaving the remaining 30% for Chinese and English. Without a sufficient amount of time for interacting in Chinese and English, our trilingual path would not fly. It is important for me to have more time with J so that he is experiencing a higher percentage of his wake time with Chinese and English.

6. Making Memories

I choose to be the one to chauffeur J around to his activities, because I want to be the one in his childhood memory, when he grows up. We could have easily employed a nanny, but I won't be making the memories, because I am not there. I want to be there for his activities to cheer for him; to pick him up, when he falls; to encourage him, when he is down; to lend a shoulder, even if there are no words that I can offer. Kids grow up at lightning speed. Once missed, we will miss it forever.

7. The Importance of Reserved Time

On days when I feel that I haven't been so efficient and productive, that I haven't achieved much, but have wasted precious time, I will remember the importance of reserve time, and remind myself why we have chosen to make this decision.

8. Self-Discipline

I am easily consumed and absorbed by my job. I don't have the self-discipline not to place my job above everything else, and it can become an idol. As such, it will be better if I take the decision to scale down.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

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Great Parenting Resource Website - Focus On the Family

This is a great website for parenting. It contains many useful and wise advice. It is a Christian website.

www.focusonthefamily.com

Here is an example of a very practical article that teaches parents conflict resolution skills for kids.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/articles/conflict-resolution-skills-for-kids.aspx

Focus on the Family offers one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. You can read more about it here:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/articles/consider_counseling.aspx

Here are some great articles from this wesite on building self-esteem in your kids:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/effective_biblical_discipline/why_kids_misbehave/building_selfesteem_in_your_kids.aspx

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting_challenges/talking-with-your-kids-about-drugs-and-alcohol/factor-this-in.aspx

Parenting Styles:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/effective_biblical_discipline/effective-child-discipline.aspx

Reading this article mades me realise that I lean towards being a perfectionist mom:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/effective_biblical_discipline/why_kids_misbehave/parenting_perfectionist_kids.aspx

Ways kids can volunteer:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/spiritual_growth_for_kids/teaching_servanthood/losing_ourselves.aspx
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The Desperate but Healthy Dinner - Corn

Only managed to take one picture, as the rest were eaten

Serves 4

Preparation & Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1. 3-4 corns

Directions:
1. Microwave on high between 2-4 minutes.

2. Serve.

Nutritional Value: Corn is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium. It also has small amounts of potassium. Corn has Vitamin B (Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate). It has traces of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Additional Information:
It is summer time and the season for corn. This can be a starter or a wholesome snack.

I normally boil corn, but today we decided to try out the microwave. So next time I am desperate for time to make dinner, this is a quick fix, besides takeaways.

References:
http://www.wikihow.com/Microwave-Corn-on-the-Cob
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What is it that I want to do?



What is it that I want to do?

I can do so many things.

I want to do so many things.

I want to be the Best wife.

I want to be the Best mom.

I want to be the Best Auntie to JN, and my nephews and nieces.

I want to be the Best daughter.

I want to be the Best daughter-in-law.

I want to be the Best employee to the organization I love.

I want to be the Best friend to my best friend.

I want to be the Best money-making machine (a.k.a my own business). That gives me self-esteem from the world.

In short, I want to be a SuperMom SuperWoman!

But I cannot do everything. This is a time-tested principle that no one can defy.

My recent health has jogged me to the reality that God made me a mortal out of flesh and blood, and not a Superwoman. Oh God, why didn't you make me a Superwoman!!!

This time-tested principle is not just the case for FTWM, but also for SAHM. Here is a great post by a SAHM, facing the same problems as me (but she also has 4 children!!!), and it is soooooo comforting to read her post.

It is a good reminder from her that this principle also applies to our children. We all have very talented children, don't we? We are so blessed that we can give our children so many options. The author rightly puts it, "Our children cannot do everything." At some point, they need to specialize. Our role as parents is to help them find their strength and competence. (And of course the process involves trying out different things, before finally making a choice of specialization. To do this, it spells TIME from us parents!!! And this is where I have to learn to strike a balance - not easy.)

Proposal to my boss on a work option came back with counter-proposal with all the exciting and tempting things/opportunities that I can pursue at work, which would be a pity for me to let go, and which now brings me back to square-one.

I need to prioritize and stick to my choice. I guess the way I have listed the above items has given myself a clue as to where my heart really is.

I need to allow myself to grieve over all those things that I have set in my heart to let go... to let them go, let them go, let them go.

As temptation comes my way, I need to have the self-control to stand firm.

I need to go on my knees and pray that I have the wisdom to make the right decision for our family.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

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The Importance of Reserve Time



In our juggling of life, whether one is SAHM, FTWM or PTWM, we often either overlook or dismiss the importance of having reserve time. Here are some thought-provoking advice from Dr. James Robson, one who has raised up his children well, and is in the position to share his advice to “young” parents like me. According to Dr. Robson:

“Parents whose kids are in the middle of a tumultuous adolescent experience must maintain a “reserve army.” A good military general will never commit all his troops to combat at the same time. He maintains a reserve force that can relieve the exhausted soldiers when they falter on the front lines. (The same strategy should be adopted by parents.) Instead of committing every ounce of their energy and every second of their time to the business of living, holding nothing in reserve for the challenge of the century.” (The New Strong-Willed Child, p. 217, 2004).

Many mothers plan to go back to work or step up their career when their children enter adolescence.  Although each family is different and there are exceptions, mothers idealistically believe that the heavy demands of babyhood and preschoolers “will end magically when they get their youngest in school. In reality, the teen years will generate as much pressure on them as the preschool era did” This is a “classic example” that many parents make.

“An adolescent turns the house upside down, literally and figuratively. Not only is the typical rebellion of those years an extremely stressful experience, but the chauffeuring, supervising, cooking and cleaning required to support an adolescent can be exhausting. Someone within the family must reserve the energy to cope with these challenges. Mom is usually the best candidate choice. Remember too, that menopause and a man’s midlife crisis are scheduled to coincide with adolescence, which makes a wicked soup!”

“It is a wise mother who doesn’t exhaust herself at a time when so much is going on at home.”
I can choose to pursue a busy career, but the author Dr. James Dobson went on to put into words that I have a hard time describing most accurately:

“But decisions have inevitable consequences. In this case, there are biophysical forces at work that simply must be reckoned with. If, for example, 80% of a woman’s available energy in a given day is expended in getting dressed, driving to work, doing her job for 8 or 10 hours, and stopping by the grocery store on the way home – then there is only 20% left for everything else. Maintaining the family, cooking meals, cleaning the kitchen, relating to her husband, engaging in all other personal activities must be powered by that diminishing resource. It is no wonder that her batteries are spent by the end of the day. Weekends should be restful, but they are usually not. Thus, she plods through the years on her way to burnout.”

“This is my point: A woman in this situation has thrown all her troops into frontline combat. She has no reserve to call on. (Our children’s) radical highs and lows affect our mood. The noise, the messes, the complaints, the arguments, the sibling rivalry, the missed curfews, the paced floors, the wrecked cars, the failed tests, the jilted lovers, the wrong friends, the busy telephone, the slammed doors, the mean words, the tears – it’s enough to drive a rested mother crazy. But what about a career woman who already gave at the office, then came home to this chaos? Any unexpected crisis or even a minor irritant can set off a torrent of emotion. There is no reserve on which to draw (upon). Parents should save some energy with which to cope with aggravation.”

According to Dr. James Robson, “To help you through the turbulence of (raising a child), you should”:

1. Keep the schedule simple.
2. Get plenty of rest.
3. Eat nutritious food.
4. Stay on our knees.

Whether or not his advice works for you, I am thinking hard about it and analysing it critically, reassessing my own life and approach. I will share my thoughts in due course.

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
(Proverbs 12:15)
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Fun with "Toy" Camera


At 4 years old, J has become very interested in taking pictures. He often requested to use our camera. But we didn't think that it would be a good idea to risk the camera in his hands. We could, of course, get him a toy camera, but a toy camera which cannot take picture is cheap, but not so fun. A toy camera that can take real pictures are too expensive.

We had an old digital camera that could still take pictures, although it is not taking pictures as good as it did before. 

What do we do with it? It would be a pity to throw it away. So we made it into J's toy. It is better than toy camera, and we do not have to worry about J dropping or spoiling it.

So Daddy labeled the camera with J's name and gave it to J as a present this June. J was elated. He started snapping right away. (On hindsight, we should not have bought him a birthday present, but we should have given him the old camera for his birthday present.)

Putting a label on it made the camera special and also made J feel special. Furthermore, it provided a clear difference between our camera and J's camera.

It is amazing how much fun the old camera provides, more lasting than many other toys, and J doesn't get tired of it.

Initially, many of the pictures were just wasting memory space, so to speak. He is still not a pro, but he has improved. Here are some of the more "decent" pictures that he has taken:




The camera is put to good use, when we go on sight-seeing. J took pictures of things and sights he saw, which was interesting. Here is a picture he took on our day out as "tourists" in our own city, which J found it quite funny :-):


I made a post about creating a "Memory Wall" with pictures of just the two of you. It now comes in handy that J could help us take a picture of the two of us. Today, we went to Copenhagen downtown's latest marina promenade for a walk and J helped us take a picture of us for memory. J now automaticallly offer to help us take a picture of ourselves:


Saturday, 3 August 2013

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Montessori Activity: Folding Clothes




Age: From 3.5 years old

Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

Materials:

1. 3-5 t-shirts
2. 1 mat

Directions:

1. Start with a simpler article of clothing, for example a short sleeve t-shirt.

2. Demonstrate to your child your choice of folding but be consistent with your choice.

3. Explain to your child why we need to fold clothes.

4. Teach your child to lay them out in a line according to the type of clothes folded

5. Direct your child to where the folded clothes shall be stored.

Video Demonstration:

Here is a video demonstration from another Montessori mom:


Additional Information:

As a Singaporean, I must admit that I am not so good in remembering to teach J how to do housework.But I remember that I have learned that by including our children to whatever extent possible given their age, in helping to secure the welfare of your family, it will teach them to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

I made a post here:
http://elainengfriis.blogspot.dk/2013/07/moral-education-how-do-you-teach-your.html

So I have determined in my heart to remember to include him more in the housework, instead of just focusing on the academics.

Initially, he wasn't so keen on the folding clothes activity, finding it boring. But as his attention span increases, and as his discipline increases, he is willing to do it, and persevere on it.

Furthermore, it was frustratingly slow with the folding clothes initially, more for me than for him!!! I am a perfectionist, and it made me cringed, when the clothes were badly folded, but we persevered on, as long as J was willing.

This summer, we had a few rounds of folding clothes, and today 3 August 2013 (4Y4M28D) was the third or fourth round. And finally our patience paid off, and he is now getting better at folding clothes, at a standard that I can accept and live with.













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Which Metronome Should I Get?



J is getting better playing his scales with the correct finger placing. However, we need to work on his beat and tempo and thus I was looking out for metronome similar to the one that I used as a child.

What's a Metronome?

According to Metronome Online, "A metronome is a practice tool that produces a steady pulse (or beat) to help musicians play rhythms accurately. The pulses are measured in beats-per-minute (BPM). Most metronomes are capable of playing beats from 35 to 250 BPM. Common uses of the metronome are helping you to maintain an established tempo while practicing, and learning difficult passages."

If you prefer a physical metronome, Amazon has some good ones, and the best known and one of the most trusted is from Wittner:




However, in this day and age, one doesn't need a physical metronome. Online metronome is a wonderful alternative that provides the same function, is easy to use and is completely free!

One of the well-presented free online metronome can found here:

http://www.metronomeonline.com/

Do you know of any other good alternative metronome? You are welcome to share :-)

Happy practising your piano... or whichever musical instrument you are playing :-)

If you are using iPad, here are some of the free metronome applications for iphone and ipad:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/metronome/id304731501?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/metronome/id416443133?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/steinway-metronome/id393021343?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/metronome/id287965434?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/irhythmiclite/id499076279?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/epic-metronome/id499840278?mt=8

Thursday, 1 August 2013

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Wisdom from Other Blogs: 6 Ways to Pursue Your Children’s Friends

Some good ideas from MomLife Today:

http://www.momlifetoday.com/2013/08/6-ways-to-pursue-your-childrens-friends/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+momlifetoday%2FXROt+%28MomLife+Today%29
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Food-For-Thought on Learning How to Ride A Bicycle



 
"though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand."
(Psalm 37:24)

Watching Daddy teaching J how to cycle teaches me a lesson about life.

Daddy was there behind J, watching over him.

Daddy was there jogging alongside J, cheering him along.

Daddy was there to let go at appropriate time, enabling J to learn to stand on his two feet.

Daddy was there standing by J, helping him up, when he fell.

Daddy was there providing direction, when J was in doubt of which way to turn.

Daddy was there stabilizing, when J swayed to the right or to the left.

Daddy was there the whole time, from the beginning to the end, providing J the security to move forward.

Life is sometimes very much like learning how to ride a bicycle.

We need to learn to keep a balance.

We need to learn to steer.

We need to learn to look straight and not sway easily to the right or to the left.

We need to learn to have a sense of direction as to where we are going.

Like our earthly daddy, God is there to teach us how to ride the bicycle of life.

In times of uncertainty, God is there behind us, watching over us. When we fall down, God is there to pick us up, helping us back to our feet.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:9-11)
 
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