The business of toilet training

Sometimes I take too long to write my next posts… I wish I have more time to write. I really wanted to write this one because I remember documenting the boys’ toilet training journey. It seems like a milestone that will be lost and forgotten if I don’t write it down.

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Our baby is in the midst of being toilet trained. We started last week and she’s doing really well now.

Just today her diaper was dry in the morning.  Which meant that she stayed dry in the night. And she hasn’t had an accident since yesterday afternoon. She’s really good at controlling her bladder when she’s awake now. She still wet her diaper during her afternoon nap today but that’s normal for the beginning stage of toilet training. I think she’s learnt the art of toilet going pretty quickly and we’re so pleased with that.

As I was putting her to bed, she said she needed to go wee wee in the toilet. And she did. She’s learnt to recognise the need to go and to articulate it.

I declare her daytime toilet trained at 2 years, 2 months and 18 days. ☺

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What works for us in toilet training our kids:
1) Start after they turn 2 and are able to talk enough to tell us when they need to go to the toilet.

2) Switch to training pants in the day. If they’re using pull ups, they may not feel the wetness when they wet themselves. Being able to feel the wetness and discomfort will encourage them not to wet their pants. (Anna would say Eww and that she doesn’t Eww in her pants!)

3) Use a sticker chart to encourage them. (We’ve tried punishment and it doesn’t work. Actually I feel bad thinking about it, that we used to punish Caleb. We were first-time parents!)

Every child reaches different milestones at different times and not every method works for every child. These are just some tips that worked for us. The boys were fully toilet trained by about 2 and a half. But some kids have a harder time being night toilet trained. If we push them to be ready before their time, it can have an adverse effect and make learning the new skill a traumatic experience. Kids need our affirmation and assurance when trying new things.

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Anyway, now we can save some money on diapers!!

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Hope in the hospital

Two years ago this day, we were in the hospital visiting Anna. It was the day before Christmas Eve and we were praying and hoping that the doctors will give her a clean bill of health and allow her to go home before Christmas. We were hoping against hope. But hope never fails.

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Anna was admitted to KK Women and Children’s Hospital on 22nd December 2013. She was only 6 days old. We had noticed that she was having trouble breathing during the day, especially when feeding. Her chest was sinking in really deep as she looked like she was struggling to get enough air. That was reason enough for us to get her to A&E that evening. It was a painful and dreadful time of our lives that we’d be happy to keep in the recesses of our memories except for the message of hope and salvation that it brought.

Anna was born with a cleft palate and feeding was a challenge for her. When we brought her to A&E that night, the presiding doctor threw us another diagnosis – Pierre Robin Sequence (PRS). It was due to PRS that Anna was having trouble breathing well, especially when she was feeding. We’ve never heard of this before and in the days that followed, we learnt a lot about this diagnosis that brought us through a roller coaster ride of fear, uncertainty, sadness and regrets. But not hopelessness. In the midst of the darkness, there was always hope.

The doctors told us a lot of other syndromes and problems that may be related to PRS. The Internet told us even more worse stuff. Things did not look good. It came to a point that we had to tell the doctors to stop telling us all these issues and to just focus on the immediate concern at hand which was to make sure she was breathing and feeding well and to let us go home to process all this. Anna had to be tube-fed and her oxygen levels monitored day and night.

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As we went through those days of having to leave her behind in the High Dependency Ward at night and seeing her again in the morning, we were brought to our knees in prayer, mostly in tears too, asking God for help, for healing and for understanding of the whole situation. Even as we went through the pits of emotions, we couldn’t deny nor ignore this light in us that glimmered.  It was the light of hope.

We hope not in what we can do nor what the doctors and medical science can do to help Anna.

We hope not in our prayers being loud or long.

We hope not in having many people praying along with us although that was true and a blessing.

We hope in Who God is.

We hope in His goodness.

We hope because He is Jehovah Rapha, our Healer.

We hope because we know He is in control and He knows the end from the beginning. Even though we don’t know why we had to go through this trial, we can trust that He knows and that He has a plan for us.

We hope in His unwavering, unconditional love.

We hope because He is the Rock of our refuge.

And this light of hope, this little glimmer of hope, could not be put out.

We may not have had the greatest faith to believe in complete and supernatural healing immediately. But even in our lack of faith, we could hope. And it was this hope that shed a light for us out of the darkness.

So I say, dear friends who are going through difficult and dark times, don’t give up hope. Or if you are looking for hope, I hope you will find that Light. Especially in this Christmas season when we are seeing all these beautiful displays of lights, may it remind us that it is only when we look to the True Light, Jesus Christ, that we can find hope. Who else or what else can we hope in? Nothing else. No one else.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, I just wanted to share our story of Hope and the testimony of Anna’s life. It is a story that reminds us Hope never fails.

Anna just celebrated her 2nd birthday last week and I’ve been thinking about this message of Hope. It was since Cameron shared the message of Hope and the testimony of Anna’s life in a service in the Philippines 2 weeks ago. I’m reminded how when Anna was born, God told me in a still small voice that “Anna” means “Grace”. We had no idea how much grace we needed over the next few months. But His promise of Grace was assuring and kept us throughout the tough year.

Last year when Anna celebrated her first birthday, it was a time of Joy. We were thankful for all that God has done, for His complete healing of Anna’s condition with no remnants of any symptoms or issues that may be related to PRS (after her palate was repaired). It was a time of celebration that we had a healthy baby girl. She is God’s gift to us.

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And this year, it’s this message of hope that’s been recurring in our hearts. And we know this story of hope will encourage others. Because God is God, we can hope in Him.

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Here’s a beautiful hymn about Whom our hope is built on…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

Blessings.

For more posts on Anna, you can click on the category Annalog.

God speaks to me through bedtime songs for Anna

I sing to Anna every night when putting her to bed. But tonight, the first 2 songs I sang to her ministered to me too! It’s like God was talking to me through the songs.

I started with “He’s able” in Chinese.

主能够,主能够
我知主能够
我知我主能带领我经过一切

He’s able, He’s able
I know He’s able
I know my God is able to carry me through

It was a long, tiring day and the end of 9 days without the daddy around. So I was really tired, physically and emotionally. When I started singing this song though, I was reminded of the truth in the song. My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine! And He has given us the grace and strength to go through the week, in the midst of the haze and our schedules. 🙂

The second song was “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and the message I was reminded of was totally different and unrelated!

I was going through the different verses and when I sang “He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands”, I suddenly thought of all the little itty bitty babies – those who are still in the womb, those who are born premature, those who are newly born – and I was reminded how God knows each and everyone of them. They all matter to Him, He who holds the whole world in His hands.

I’m also reminded what a terrible thing abortion is. It’s the killing of little itty bitty babies who are as human as you and me. And yet people explain it away with no regards for morality. Saying it’s not murder is nonsense because by now, everyone in the educated world knows life began at conception. Our hearts start beating even before our bodies have taken shape. And no one refers to an expectant friend’s baby as ‘that lump in your womb’. “Hey when is that lump in your womb due?” No! We’re all excited for our friend’s baby!

Abortion is an abomination and murder. The enemy is killing so many of the future generation through abortion. This is something God put in my heart many years ago. The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and one way he kills is through abortion. In the days of Moses and in the days of Jesus, the ruler of their days commanded baby boys to be killed. It was the enemy’s scheme so that the plans of God for redemption will be thwarted. Today, the enemy also wants to stop God’s plan to raise up an end-time army. (Another way the enemy is killing the future generation is through suicide. Suicide rates are rising among youth and children today.)

But God will prevail. And His church must take a stand against abortion.

Besides itty bitty babies lost through abortion, I’m also reminded how those itty bitty babies who didn’t make it to see this world due to miscarriages are now seeing the light of the Father’s face. Because He holds them in His hands.

I know, it’s quite a bit of a heavy topic to go through my mind as I sang my baby to sleep… but it’s a good reminder. Or 2 good reminders. So as my baby lays sleeping, I’m just penning these thoughts down. And I’ll keep singing my baby to sleep as long as she wants to so that I can also tune my ears and heart to hear the heart of God. 🙂

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Here's a photo I made in June of instagrammable photos versus reality

Tips for travelling with an 18-month-old – I need them!

A few days ago as I was packing for this trip to the US, I was already planning this blog post. I was confidently thinking of a post titled “Tips for Travelling with an 18-month-old”. I thought then that I had what we needed to occupy Anna on the long flight even though there was always uncertainty with regards to how she would behave on the plane. And after all, we have travelled a few times with the boys when they were that age.

Post-flight, the conclusion is I couldn’t write that post because apparently, my tips didn’t work for my trip and my 18-month-old!

I had bought her a new colouring book with colour pencils and a new sticker book to occupy her on the plane. I also made sure to have lots of her favourite snacks and enough formula for as many bottles as she wanted. But they didn’t keep her occupied for very long. She’s a very active baby and full of zeal for life. She didn’t want to stay in one place for long of course. And she wasn’t interested in watching TV, which was a lifesaver for us when we were travelling with Evan when he was younger.

She did sleep for about half the total flight time though, but kept waking up every now and then to scream. Probably because she wasn’t in a comfortable position or realised that she was in an unfamiliar place. She also screamed quite a bit when she was tired and needed to sleep. I feel bad for the other passengers.

I was looking at the flight info and watching the hours tick by, ever so thankful to see the hours go down from 11 to 10, 8, 5, 3 and finally to 1! I was glad to wake her up then and enjoy the last hour of the flight with a happy, post-nap baby.

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That's us setting off from Changi Airport at 6am
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Anna trapped between Daddy's legs. She needed to get down and was happy pulling the magazines off the seat pocket.
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In transit at Narita Airport. I guess she was happy to be able to run around. 🙂

I remember it was always hard travelling with toddlers. but it’s probably the hardest this time. Or maybe it’s always easier to look back at a trip and remember it fondly after some time has passed. The kids all have different temperaments too and some are more content than others to sit and do something.

It’s definitely worth it to take the long flight in order to see family and spend time with them and the kids are so happy to be at Grandpa and Grandma’s.

We still have the flight home and I hope it goes better now that she has had ‘experience’ travelling transcontinental. If anyone has any tips that may work, please share!

Letters to Anna – 14 months

Dear Anna,

I’ve been writing a blog post about you every month on your birthday (birthdate) since you were born. I missed last month’s, thinking you’ve passed one year already. But there are so many changes while you’re growing and you’re learning so many new things that I feel I just need to capture these somewhere. So I thought of starting a new series called Letters to Anna. (I probably should start Letters to Caleb and Letters to Evan too, to be fair.)

Happy 14 months princess!

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In the last month, you’ve started to walk and now, you walk all around the house, all day long! It is so cute to watch you explore the world around you. So many things are new to you. So many things are dangerous for you too. And we find ourselves saying many times throughout the day (more times than we hope to), “No touch, Anna.” You’ve since learnt the meaning of No and you used to cry the moment we tell you No. Now, you’ve learnt to manage your emotions better and depending on your mood, will simply walk away from the object of desire or retaliate by quickly grabbing it before we can reach you! I hope the former happens more and more as you learn to obey.

You’re also learning to talk and you’re getting so good at copying and parroting what we say. On the day before you turned 14 months, you put 2 words together (that Daddy asked you to say), “No, Mama.” That was when I was chasing you, which really is your favourite game. 🙂 You can also recognise objects in your favourite book: apple, flower, milk, baby etc. And you can say apple so well! We’re so proud of you! I don’t think you’ll need to see the speech therapist for long (speech therapy is a requirement after cleft palate surgeries).

You also love to take selfies and watch videos of yourself! I guess all babies are narcissistic. And when you see your reflection, you often kiss it. 🙂

One other thing that amuses Mommy is how you can keep your headbands (with flowers) on the whole day. You used to hate having something on your head. But after I showed you how pretty you looked in the mirror, you decided you like the accessories too! image image You’ve also learnt to drink from a straw. This to me is a special milestone considering how you couldn’t have done that before your surgery. We celebrate these little milestones in your life! I’m so happy to see how well you’re growing.

You’re an inquisitive and playful little lady, which shows how intelligent you are (no, I don’t think I’m biased). Keep growing little one. And keep playing and loving the world around you as there are many around you who love you. image image image image image image image image Love,

Mommy

24 February 2015 (1 week late!)

What a difference a year makes! Happy birthday Anna!

What a gush of emotions the month of December brings as we remember December of last year. Anna was born, found to have a cleft palate, hospitalized at 6 days old, diagnosed with Pierre Robin Sequence, tube fed for 2 days in the hospital and finally discharged on Christmas Eve. It was a quiet and solemn Christmas last year.

This year, as the month of December came around, the feelings are so different. It is joy, hope, gratitude and love that fill our hearts this year. Anna has recovered well from her cleft palate repair surgery, is eating well (and loving her food, or our food more than hers) and growing well. She likes to reach for our hands so that we can assist her in walking around the house because she finds crawling too slow and probably overrated.

We celebrated Anna’s first birthday with a Rainbow themed party. I chose the theme as the Rainbow speaks of God’s promises and covenant to us. He is the One who promised us Anna and gave us Anna, and we know He will be the One Who will see her through her life. He doesn’t break covenants. As we have covenanted to give our lives and our children to Him, we know that we are in good hands.

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John 10:10 tells us that the thief (which is the devil) comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Christ came that we may have abundant life!

We named Anna after Anna in the gospels who is a prophetess. The nature of a prophet is to declare God’s Word and messages to His people. With a cleft palate, one will not be able to speak if the cleft palate is not repaired. This all makes perfect sense if we understand what God’s Word is saying – the enemy is trying to steal and destroy the purposes of God in our lives. I was also born with a cleft palate, and yet my testimony is that now I am a teacher by profession and also teach God’s Word to His people. The enemy has not managed to stop what God wanted me to do for Him.

So when the paediatrician told us when Anna was born that she had a cleft palate, strangely a sense of peace washed over me as I realize this is a challenge Anna has to go through and overcome, and after that she will be speaking for the Lord!

When we say Anna is very special to us, it is not that we are biased because all our kids are special to us. We just have an extra soft spot for her seeing what she’d had to go through in this first year of her life – countless doctor appointments and tests.

At one year old, Anna is healthy, all the tests have shown that she doesn’t have any other problems. We are indescribably thankful to God for the grace He has given us for this journey and also for the days ahead. I believe this year’s Christmas will be a much happier affair than last Christmas!

I really wanted to take her first year photos and am thankful for a very talented friend who took these great shots for us. Here are some of Anna’s special moments with her brothers and us. And just to show the funny and very human side of her, I’ve also included some NG shots!

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Amidst the smiles, there were also tears…

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And check out this “I am not impressed” look when you zoom in to this happy family pic!

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