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Metamorphic.

This is how I’d like to describe my 2012. I had to grow quickly into the shoes of a mother, and then a mother who also worked outside the home. Spiritually, I found myself being transformed by His word and yearning to be more and more a disciple of Christ than being just a “Christian.” I have met some godly people this year who have been role models, and who have helped me with my Christian walk, encouraging me to press on when the going was difficult. 2012 was filled with lots of joy and love, as well as disappointments, challenges, and anxieties. Through it all, I had to shed old perspectives and adopt new ways of thinking and living. Hopefully, I have inched slightly closer to what God has willed for me in my life.

Next year is already looking to be another exciting one. I’d like to continue this metamorphosis, and think this is quite apt as my overarching verse:

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How would you sum up your 2012?

I’m still here and present. The last month has been another crazy one; in a span of just two weeks, I got to know of two friends from separate social circles who lost their loved ones; one of them is a very young lady in her early 30s who passed away of cancer. We also got news that another family friend’s teenage daughter was diagnosed with a pretty malignant form of brain tumor/cancer.

News like that recalibrate my sense of reality and life, and makes me question what my purpose is on this earth, if there is one. I wonder about God’s plan, and His sovereignty. I’m tempted to ask a series of “why”s. It makes me wonder, too, if all the pain that life could potentially bring or eventually brings, can be masked by the joys we do experience. As a mom, I have asked the question multiple times, of what my child’s future would behold.

So bear with me while I am still mourning with my friends. I encourage you to read “A grief observed” by C.S. Lewis, who in his book raised some hard, philosophical questions about his faith in the time of grief over the death of his wife. I’m only a quarter way through but have found it really enlightening.

Me and my good friend, Sonya with our little dudes, in Seoul.

Was just looking through photos from our trip through Asia and smiled when I saw this. It’s one of my favorites. It captured so well how we were feeling then: simply joyous to have gotten the rare chance to catch up with each other and finally meet the other’s kid.

Ah, fond memories.

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Besides packing up n getting ready to leave town, we were busy hosting a bunch of visitors this past week. One of the visiting families stayed with us and while it was pretty chaotic n hectic, it was also super fun. Thanks for the visit, guys. Missing all the action and cuteness already! But yes I’m now ready to crash and enjoy the peace and quiet. 🙂

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We have, like many couples with newborns/kids, scheduled “date nights.” Keeping the marriage alive requires work and even more maintenance with new additions to the family.  After Benji was born, I did not want our relationship to take the back seat because it can happen all too easily once we get caught up with the hustle and bustle of looking after a newborn, and became really particular about having date nights. Truth is, too, our marriage suffered a huge setback about a year before we agreed to have a baby and since then, we have learned to never ever be cavalier about our relationship.

Since we don’t live close to our folks and don’t really have the confidence yet to leave Benji with a hired babysitter, our dates nights have been confined to the home. For the most part, it has worked out as we are mostly exhausted by the end of the day to even think about dressing up and going out somewhere. Most date nights consist of renting a movie or catching up on episodes of our favorite shoes. Sometimes, we just hang out on the couch and talk. The point is to simply spend time and reconnect with each other after Benji has slept, without the distractions of internet and the baby. 

So back to our date night: wow that my folks are in town visiting us, we made use of the opportunity to have our scheduled weekly date night outside the home, which was rather glorious. Okay, so it was a Tuesday night where the night scene around any town is pretty mellow, but when you are new parents, you welcome any time by yourselves. We hung out at George Ultralounge & Winebar in Yaletown, a bar with a quiet and relatively classy ambience. I got a virgin mojito (super fun and actually tastes like regular mojito!) and Bry got an old fashion (which he termed “the Don Draper drink.” You get the reference if you’re into Mad Men like we are).

Two short but super sweet hours went by in a hurry. I was surprisingly not that worried about Benji being a handful. And he was reportedly really well behaved the time we were gone (“slept like a baby!” said my folks). Thanks, mom, dad, and aunt, for keeping an eye on Benji and letting us enjoy a special date night.

Do you and your partner schedule date nights? What else do you do to keep the marriage alive? Do you find it even more necessary after having children?

Taking a break from all the posts about me to give a big shout out to one of my best friends, Ellen, who just had her baby yesterday. CONGRATULATIONS once again to Ellen and Matt!

I had the good fortune of befriending Ellen in grad school in San Diego. She was doing her MBA while I was getting my M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology. I still remember the first time we met: we were at some International Students’ event and were in line for something – probably some kinda food – when she initiated the conversation. Ellen struck me as someone very confident, inquisitive, and smart.  Qualities I kinda have but wish I had more of, like her. We found out we both had quite a bit in common: both grad students, had some work experience prior to grad school, of Chinese ancestry (she’s Taiwanese and I’m Singaporean-Chinese), went on study abroad in college (she in Canada and I in Santa Barbara), and had SoCal boyfriends (now husbands).

With that long list of overlapping experiences, naturally, we hit off. We both also enjoy cooking and sports and I think that really sealed our fate as friends. Besides life experiences, Ellen and I are also similar personality-wise: like me, Ellen is ambitious and organized, and likes to fill up her day with activities. Like me, she demands perfection from herself. Some might say we’re intense, but I’d like to think we’re just type A personalities (well, she’s A+++ and I’m probably at this point an A-/B given how little energy I have these days. 😉 ).

I have so many good memories of hanging out with Ellen and how she constantly impressed me – and still does – with her zealousness for life, fastidiousness, her self assuredness, and her amazing ability to speak both Mandarin (her native tongue) AND English equally well. I envy her.

We also somehow serendipitously hit life milestones at around the same time: She finished grad school a semester before me, she and Matt got engaged just a few months after Bry and me, and got married a couple months before us. And now, she gave birth to her first baby just 4 months after I had mine. Yes, her baby is a boy, too.

I’m thrilled and excited for her not just because having a baby is such a blessing, but selfishly, I love that I have a great friend who is now a part of this club and with whom I can relate to on yet another level.

Welcome to motherhood, Ellen. Even though we do not live in the same country anymore, I’m still looking forward to many more fun conversations with you especially about motherhood and babies. And when we next visit SoCal in winter of next year, I know little Benji will have an instant friend in little Ian. We’re so gonna be, like, total BFFs…forever. 😉

Ellen and me in San Diego. Circa 2007 (I think). Oh how much younger we looked back then!