#ArtByJayvon

Jayvon is a very active boy. Very. He literally cannot stand still. And he cannot stand… being bored. This is something only parents with active boys can identify with. Now, the hubby and I do our best to “rein” him in, lest he get into MORE trouble at school, and a while back, we realised one of the (very few) things that can occupy Jayvon is art. He absolutely loves to draw. And recently, with a lot of practice in school, he has started writing short stories and drawing an illustration to accompany it.

He is also crazy about art shops, and he is always thinking of ways to trick convince us to bring him to Riot Art & Craft shop at a shopping centre near our place – and even when he tells me he wants to get a drawing pencil (okay la, $1 for a “drawing” pencil? I can do that occasionally I guess)… but he would unconsciously plonk himself beside the aisle which sells books and journals… and sometimes I give in to his doe-eyed requests to get some for him.

But I think it is money well-spent. I got this A5-sized journal for him a week back, and he doodles on it with his new Smiggle colour pencils. (He goes through phases, as all artists do, I guess, and this book is “earmarked” to be all colour-pencils. He has other books that he only uses pencils, or only markers, but this is his colourful book. He draws almost everywhere – in the car, before meals, during breaks in school.

Art Aug

I love how much effort he puts in, and I love celebrating his successes – especially on his blog.

Link away your chatty Thursday posts below – I’d love to read more!

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays



The City Harvest Case So Far – My Reflections

Blogging about City Harvest Church is kind of like a walk on the wild side. Because one knows it is a topic that, for lack of a better word, polarizes people. It doesn’t help matters when there’s so much negative about the church out there on the mainstream media, forums and other blogs.

But I am not someone that would shy away from talking about something so near and dear to my heart.

Yes, I’m living in Sydney, and have been for the last 15 months. And yes, I still identify myself as a “City Harvest Church member” – a badge that many, unfortunately, have chosen to take off. But this post isn’t for the naysayers. It isn’t even for the yay-sayers (if there’s even such a word) or the in-betweeners. It is for me to get things off my chest. Things I have read and heard on Facebook, the newspapers, forums and blogs and everything else.

I’ve always been a pretty private person, which is ironic, I know – seeing how I blog about my life and my kids and all. But in real life, if you know me, I won’t necessarily or voluntarily voice my opinion (unless we are good buddies, or unless I am asked to) or feel the need to stand out in a group setting. When catching up with old school pals or attending a corporate event where I meet new faces, and I am put in a position of introducing myself and what I do, I usually give a smile and say I “work in a church”. Or when the other party politely asks which church, I would say it. And this is before this entire saga begun, before my Pastors and my friends’ faces got plastered all over the front page of the newspaper. I just felt there wasn’t a need to “advertise” which church I worked in, especially to people I barely knew and wouldn’t make contact with thereafter. But often, the more awkward question would be asking me what I did in the church. Oh man. “Office Administration” – and I can almost see the “Huh?” in their eyes as they wonder why a church needed to hire someone like me, and probably wondering what I did all day. I would explain – but really, my job scope varies so much, and I find myself juggling a whole lot of balls in the air on a daily basis, I can’t find the easy one-sentence explanation most people are looking for.

I’ve blogged about many times how and why I came to City Harvest Church – but the beginning is one thing, the fact that I have continued to see myself as a CHC member is probably the point of greater interest. And with the trial being in the limelight, a few people have asked me: If the court rules such-and-such, how will I feel or what will I do?

I can’t speak for all church members, of course, but this very question isn’t something that is “new” or unexpected to the regular church member. After all, we have been stuck in the limbo of this case hanging over us for the past four years. Four very long years.

If the court rules that the six have done no wrong, and clears them of all charges: I would be over the moon. Finally, vindication. Something we’ve prayed both at church and in our own homes.

But what if the worst happens? What if the court finds any of the six guilty (or all of them)? Well, I don’t deny I would be pretty sad. Devastated might be closer to the word. Bystanders might feel that they have done the church or the members “wrong” by withholding certain information or claiming there was some cover-up. I’ve been a church staff. I’ve been an Executive Member. I’ve been to the Annual General Meetings and other Meetings. I’ve seen first-hand how much importance we place on ensuring the attendance and other statistic we put out to the members and the public on making it is as correct as we humanly can. I’ve seen for myself how my Pastors and fellow colleagues are like, and how they have sacrificed so much for the kingdom of God and for the church. So what if they are found guilty in court? Well, then I would concede that they made mistakes. Disclosure might have been better. Things could have been better handled. But one thing I know to be true – they had no intention to defraud the members. They are not in this to benefit themselves. 

Rather, the question I would pose to the naysayers would be the same. What if the court rules that the 6 are innocent? Would you be able to accept that, or would you feel there was still “more” to meet the eye?

I’ve had a fellow Christian gently remind me that using social media to convince people might not be the best, “Christian-y” thing to do. I understand her standpoint, but I beg to differ. As Christians, I personally feel we do need to have a voice out there, offering our point of view in the sea of negativity. Honestly, I feel a lot for my friends, ex-colleagues, cell group members who still attend CHC. We’ve been in Sydney for 15 months, and in a sense, have “escaped” the intense media glare and don’t have to face up to quizzical looks on our family members or outside friends or colleagues on why we still choose to remain loyal to the church. Four years is plenty when you are under the pump and stressed.

It is easy to, with the benefit for perfect hindsight, say that the church and leaders and board should have done this or should not have done that. But that is precisely the benefit of hindsight. Sure, we could all do things better. As a parent I also have had many times where I didn’t handle a situation as well as I should. One question posed to Pastor Kong as he stood at the stand was this (Article source here, quote in italics):

“Would you say, Pastor, that, looking back, what the Crossover achieved was worth the price?” This question was posed by senior counsel Andre Maniam.

Pastor Kong’s reply? “On a big level, I have no doubt it was worth the price because of the impact and the achievement for the Kingdom of God. The thousands of souls that got saved, the number of churches that were impacted and started. But the price of putting through my church through this trial, through putting all my co-accused, my friends, through all these painful times, there are moments where I do a lot of soul-searching, your Honour, but I knew that we were not disobedient to the heavenly vision given by God to us.”

So could we have done things better? Yeah, maybe.

But would we do it all over again? You betcha.

 

“Accountability doesn’t require full transparency.” Source: My learned hubby. (Haha!)

And that holds true for any organization – governmental, public or charity. I am not a donor to the now-famous MPA but my two cents is this: if I was a donor, I wouldn’t expect a dollar-by-dollar account of how this money was used. Take my parents for instance, they would very often tell us to bring the kids out for a good meal or get them toys – all on their account. In a sense, they are the main “sponsors” for our welfare here in Sydney – the “added” perks we enjoy every few weeks.

The fact an account was given to the donors of the drawdowns of the account, in my opinion, is doing above and beyond what is required. If there was something more sinister behind the scenes, wouldn’t it be easier to just deposit the money in Pastor’s account instead of having someone else manage and drawdown that account? To me, this ‘additional step’ was meant as a measure to give donors a bigger measure of accountability. And totally in line with what I know to be true of Pastor Kong’s character – someone who is mindful of money matters and always seeks to aboveboard in such matters.

Kids’ Milestones

Milestones. First step, first word, first smile, first burp… When it comes to our kids, these are so important and photo-moment-worthy!

Here is my absolute favourite moments. The day we became a family. And erm, fair warning here – there is one no-make-up, just-popped-a-child-out-of-my-you-know-what, still reeling from the meds, tired, not-eaten-for-many-hours, tired kind of look. I also was having a case of hive soon after giving birth, and my eyelids were puffy and swollen and I looked like I’d been in a battle. But if you know Jay’s birth story, you know that it wasn’t anywhere as bad. Which is why I’ve not really posted these because… it’s so not glam! But what the heck, let’s live dangerously and get my ugliest but happiest moments out there.

Family of 3

Taken on 23 January 2008. The day we became three. The day life irrevocably changed.

Xavier

When we grew by one more in 2011.

30 apr 2013

And yet AGAIN in 2013!

jayschool

Kindy & Year 1 for my boy. It’s been one roller-coaster ride, but I’m glad he’s about come out on top!

strawberries

Oh! And something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance to in Singapore – strawberry picking! We went to a strawberry farm last year, and it was pretty fun, plus we got a large bag full of strawberries for our trip back.

horse

And another first for us – being so up close and personal with Mr. Horse! You can see the hesitation in Jay’s face, but he was brave enough to feed the horse. Xav? Well, he preferred to let Jay continue. Haha!

A more reflective kind of Talkative Thursday post, but I think in life, as in parenthood, sometimes you got to look back at the “good old days” to make life in the now more precious. As I scan through old photos, I am always reminded of how fast time flies, especially with kids!

How about you? What are some of your “milestone” memories? Share, and link up your story!

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays



Handling Offenses – Online and Off

As a new driver here in Sydney, I see a lot of people on the road – those who are patient with me as I struggle with my huge Tarago, and probably seeing this huge family car reckon I have kids with me and I am seldom at the receiving end of a honk. Then there are those who have trigger-happy hands which honk the very second the light changes and I haven’t floored on the accelerator, like, one millisecond ago. Or the last young chap, who was waiting for about 3 long seconds while I parked, and after I was in the lot, he drove past, wound down his window and proceeded to wildly gesticulate with an angry face, and I’m sure, angrier words. I was fortunate to not hear those choice words he must have had for me (or have my three impressionable kids in the car hear it) – cos my windows were closed. Little fortunes. (Of course I did tell the hubby that if the kids weren’t in the car and if I was in a fouler mood, I’d probably have rolled down the windows and went, “WHAAAAT?!?!” *ahem*) But I usually let it pass.

I find that if you have a point, make it. But if you start to lose it and pepper your sentence with coarse language, soon all people hear are the beginnings of the ffffs and sssss and whatnots. And it detracts from your message. Say, “I didn’t order the rice, I ordered the noodles.” And not “#%^&#@3#!S NOODLES NOT RICE G@#R$%^^#&” Be classy, yo. (And yes, this is my own profanity-free space, so I shall leave the symbols to your imagination – my little kids are going to read this, and I prefer to keep this a cursing-free zone (as in real life!).

But more often than not, the people that rile me the MOST… are those who hide behind their keyboards and make snide comments. I mean, we all have Facebook friends or Twitter contacts like those? Or if you don’t, just pop into any online forum and you can see silly nonsense.

Take the passing of Robin Williams for instance. An actor I love – for his unforgettable performances in Dead Poets’ Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, to name a few. And as if his suicide wasn’t tragic enough, you get trolls who traumatize and scare his daughter off Twitter. Trolls. What a well-coined word to depict those ugly individuals who delight in causing pain and revelling in another’s suffering.

Yes. We all have a voice, we are all entitled to our opinions. But surely what we say has to first be, at the very minimum, humane? You might not agree with what is being said, but adding angry words to the conversation hardly solves anything.

I guess as a blogger, and more specifically, a parent blogger, this resonates with me and my values. What kind of a world my kids will enter into when they grow up and mature (which isn’t too far away)? We try to emphasize on family, love, loyalty, harmony – but the “real” world often treats these as laughable and “cheap” values, and our ongoing battle is always to counter that, and at the back of our mind, to pray that what we’ve done is enough to give them a good foundation to navigate through life.

Jay had and is still having behavioural problems in school. But his teachers are assured that when he hurts another student, it isn’t out of malice or because he wanted to hurt the person, but more because of mischievous impulses that he acts on without thought. And there are times I wonder if coming to Sydney was the best decision for him – in terms of his social development. Just a little over a year ago, he was happy in his childcare centre, surrounded by very able and loving teachers who understood him, and friends who were as young, and dare I say it, innocent as him. Sure, his mischievous streak was evident even then, but even when he got disciplined, it was not a big enough deal for the principal to keep “reporting” to me, though it did deserve a mention in the biannual teacher-parent conference.

And so he probably wasn’t prepared for school here. No, not probably. He wasn’t prepared for school here, period. I’ve blogged a little about it. And while I don’t try to make excuses for his behaviour, being in the company of older boys probably has influenced him for the worse. He is such an impressionable chap, and has the penchant for remembering (and repeating ad nauseum) when he hears funny phrases or, worse, swear words. Just the other day, out of the blue he remembered a particular Hokkien term what his cousins used to sprout back in Singapore, “W.. L..” and he went around repeating that at almost every opportunity. Despite us telling him each time to stop it. Despite us trying to explain it is not a term that is good. We don’t even use such swear words in the house… but his brain is like a piece of sticky tape. Once something gets stuck, it takes a while to remove, and even when it is removed, there’s sometimes residue that remains!

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays



A (Blog) Letter to Jayvon

Dear Jayvon,

I almost wanted to start the letter with a “Hi baby!” but, you are all of six years old, and hardly a baby anymore! And in so many ways, you have grown and matured so, so much – especially in the last year. I mean, just look at you!

Jay 13-14

When we first came over to Sydney, you were still this baby-faced little boy, and now, you’ve lost a grand total of four (including those two front ones) teeth, and you’ve grown so lanky your size 5 Gap jeans now look too short for your legs.

We’ve had to buy new shoes for you twice this year already, as you very quickly outgrew your older pairs, but that good ol’ trusty Crocs has managed to serve you well. All this might be due to the amount of exercise you’ve been getting here – with swimming and soccer being the main two (apart from running around in the field and on the beach, that is.)

Jay 13

And you’re turning out to be quite a water-boy! When you first started out, you were at the Yellow Tail stage, and you were hanging on to the swim coach like crazy, too afraid to do much for your first few lessons. But since then you’ve improved – and now you’ve graduated to Purple Tails – just one more shy of the “Fins” stage where you’d be able to perfect all your strokes. Yay for you! I am so glad, especially because I love to swim, and I cannot wait for your brother and sister to be water-ready and we can all have fun in the pool together!

And speaking of your siblings, remember this photo?

Aug 2014

This was taken a week ago – and one of the rare few ones with the three of you in the same shot!

Thank you for being such a awesome older brother to them. I cannot ask for a better one, and I thank God everyday for you. You do your best to be gentle around them, knowing that they are not as strong or fast as you, you give Zoie oodles of hugs and cuddles, and no one can make her laugh as much as you can! Did you realise she even imitates the way you like to lie down on the floor and do your drawing?

Zoie-Aug 2014

(See what happens if you don’t keep your stuff?)

Well, it’s been a challenging year for us all, moving away from Singapore and from our friends and family, and coming to this brand new apartment and trying to make brand new friends in school and in church. I know it hasn’t been easy, especially with school! DPS is so different from Little Big, yeah? But you’ve grown so much, and learnt so much, and I am proud of how much you’ve done. We can all work on that “listening” and “behaving” part a lot more, but I know you’ll do awesome!

Thank you for loving Daddy and Mummy so much. We both love you so, so much – you are and will always be the Number One in our hearts! *MUACKS!*

Love,

Mummy