Child-like happiness and family time bubbles

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To be a child, is a lovely thing.

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How incredible it must be, to be able to rest in the knowledge, knowing that you are provided for? Not having to worry about what lies ahead, for your every step is watched?

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A child is never bored of the same toys, and she finds delight in exploring simple things.

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Every day springs forth a freshness. Curiosity begets experiences.

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A child can teach you more about happiness than what you can imagine.

I hope to always have a child-like sense of wonder, for there is so much to learn from children.

(A tribute to the young ones around me, my beautiful niece Keira Rose and our ever-loving family, the stars in my life).

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“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” —Henri Nouwen

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
~Matthew 18: 1-4

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Haiyan disaster relief volunteer trip in Philippines, DAY 2

MORNING OF DAY 2, SATURDAY 16/11; 6AM

The alarms are going off. It’s an early start today and I’m surprised that all the foreigners from Singapore are downstairs for breakfast on time, but the locals aren’t. “I heard them still talking at 3am, they can’t possibly have had much sleep?” I mused at the breakfast table.


“I think they got a call pretty late last night and they found out that 5 of their relatives in Ormoc were found dead. They were very upset,” Gil shared.

The impact of the situation is hitting harder and harder everyday. How devastating must it be for the organizers, to pour their heart and resources into feeding what’s left of the survivors when their own family isn’t around to feed?

PLAN FOR DAY 2

We are going to Medellin and Daanbantayan (those are barangays in Northern Cebu) today – 98% of their properties and crops are gone. We are coordinating with their mayors, so we know which areas have not received or received very little relief. After, we will also go to Ormoc, Leyte, coordinating with the mayor there. Very little relief has arrived, and one of the towns later tell us that we were the first to reach them. I wonder who else hasn’t had aid, as they wonder in turn if any help is ever coming?


It is absolutely crazy here – I’m surprised I still have been able to write stories of our experiences, edit pictures, manage social media updates, coordinate donations and blog about this Haiyan relief operation while on the road.

There is not a lack of things to do here and gone are the days of plenty of rest. There are days where the team gets back at 130am and leave by 330am – some sleep a few hours each night if even at all. Most of our lunch or dinners are a mix of meat and rice at anywhere from 3pm or 10pm, eaten in a local’s house or the back of the van with fast fingers. We are thankful to just have food – I heard that the US army are currently living on meals of protein bars so anything meat is a luxury.

I’m so grateful that God has given me plenty, but maybe it’s time to simplify my life. The people here have so much less than most people I know back home, but most still seem bucketfuls happier than white collar friends in Singapore who are miserable working. Travelling always helps me out things back into perspective – time to stop complaining!

People from Tacloban – the city that was majorly hit – are fast arriving in Cebu. We will distribute hygiene kits there next week and toys for the kids who are traumatized.

This Sunday, our mission is to visit 3 vicinity in Leyte and distribute relief goods among their smaller areas. So far, thanks to some of you reading this and with the donations we have received, we’ve managed to pack 4000 food and water relief packs, 500 hygiene kits and 500 packs for kids with infant formulas and basic toys. We hope we can distribute more as we need to reach more people.


In case you’re new to this update, there are millions left displaced and homeless from the wrath of Yolanda, otherwise known as Typhoon Haiyan – Asia’s biggest disaster since the 2005 Tsunami.

Please help us to help Philippines and any amount of donations are appreciated. Thanks to you, we can buy supplies and continue to feed and help the victims. PayPal link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/588169/emal/5357393

Yesterday, I discovered something about my Dad

dadseniorcitizenIf you read my blog at all, you would know that my Dad is pretty awesome. (You would know this for sure if you at least followed my Facebook/Instagram!)

Between a busy schedule of attending events, meeting up with friends and business contacts, going for drinks, travelling and editing pictures of myself, I was looking forward to a mid-week movie break with my Dad this week. Oh finally, a much deserved break! If you know anything about my Dad (and you probably don’t), the men in my family are massive DC/Marvel comic fans. One of my cousins has a room glorified dedicated to these colourful action books, and another has a room adorned with affiliated and limited-edition memorabilia.

So of course, we made plans to see the notorious Iron Man 3. Let me point out here that my Dad hates to spend money on anything fun or frivolous. Especially if it’s for himself. He is so incredibly selfless that he would wear the same shirt for 10 years so that me and my brother can have new ones. Half of his shirts are free or torn, and my brother has the nicest computers and the latest technology in our house. Anyway, I celebrated this momentous movie by trawling the internet for discounts on movie tickets.

My hands were jittery and my heart fluttered with excitement at the thought of this long-awaited date with Daddy. I couldn’t wait for the day to come, and it finally came. Being the champion that I am, I fell sick.

“Boohoo, Daddy I think I’m sick. I really want to watch Iron Man 3 with you and your friend, but I can’t last 2 hours in the theatre. I’m going to go back to bed. Are you OK to watch it with your friend?”

“Sure, you better rest.”

“I did all the research for you Daddy. Go to any Shaw theatre, and make sure you use your UOB credit card, NTUC card or Passion card for the cheapest movie rates. The best you can get on a weekday is $7.50. It will be more expensive if you watch in 3D though. I picked all the best timings and locations for you and whatsapped it to you too.”

“Ok thanks, love you, see you later!”

The door slammed on my dreams, but I soon had some of my own. I drifted off into an afternoon slumber.

(The stuff of sweet dreams.)

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My Dad came home from the movie as I was pulling myself up from my afternoon siesta.

Rubbing my eyes, I said sleepily, “How was the movie Dad? Was it $7.50 at the places I picked for you?”

“It was good. Me and my friend watched it for $4.50 each. We watched at Filmgarde.”

I jerked straight up, indignant. “$4.50? Cannot be! I checked every single major movie theatre website in Singapore and went through 50 over bloody promotions to get you the best rate. (OK, I didn’t say bloody in front of my Dad but you get my drift.) How could you have gotten such a low rate? Why you watch at Filmgarde?! Got $4.50 meh?”

“Ya. We got the $4.50 senior citizen rate.”

“You’re a SENIOR CITIZEN!?!?!?”

“Haha. Yes dear I am.”

“But how come?! You’re not that old, right? How old are you?”

“58. My friend was over 55 too, categorizing us as Senior Citizens. ”

“Good grief.”

I can’t believe it. My strong and awesome father is a senior citizen. Before I know it, we’re all going to be senior citizens too. Let’s all gather at the void deck, complain about the younger generation and their internet, and play chess together.

Here’s a slightly more “senior citizen”-looking photo of us.

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#things are not what they used to be

 

One Night with Xavier

The other week, I spent one night with Xavier, and this is what I learnt.

All a baby does is cry, eat, burp, poo, cry again, fidget, and then do it all over again.

Feeding my brand new 1-month old nephew at 3am was a one hour affair. He would wake everyone up when he’s hungry, but fall asleep when I’m feeding him. I have to wake him up to make him eat! The milk would have gotten cold by then, so we would make him more and it would start all over again.

It kind of reminds me of my friend Haresh’s Subaru car challenge… He was one of the Top 5 contestants who had put their hand on a Subaru (the last person standing wins the car).

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He didn’t win, but lived to tell the tale of the mental torture and hallucinations that you go through during this contest. I imagine having a baby is something like that.

One night was an adventure in itself, imagine running on fumes like that every night?! Being a Mom must be hard! Kudos to all the Moms out there. Go give your Mom a BIG HUG right now.

Spending one night with Xavier made me adore him more. It opened up a new part of my heart, and taught me so much about love and patience that I can’t explain.

The baby experiment was sort of like start-up weekend boot camp. If I can take care of a baby, I’m sure I could take care of a business?

I was kissed in the middle of Target (reblog from Cheri Swalwell)

I love this story on the internet and it is the kind of stuff I grew up with, and that my parents would try and teach me. This is what makes me who I am. I would love to share it with you!

I Was Kissed In the Middle of Target

Cheri Swalwell – Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

Psalm 145:20: “The LORD watches over all who love him…” (NIV).

My children and I had the best experience in Target the other morning. I like to get there when they first open so we can beat the crowds and move on to our next errand. We walked into the store at the same time as a woman with her mentally-challenged adult son. I was in a hurry to check things off my list and move on to my next responsibility. His laughter is what caught my attention. He was having a great time. His smile lit up his entire face and anyone within hearing distance could tell that he was excited to greet the day, despite the early hour. He gave us a huge smile, a wave, and a hearty laugh. We responded and then moved on to the next item we needed.

A few minutes later, we were walking (okay, in actuality I was speed walking down the aisle trying to convince my kids to keep up) when we passed the same woman and son. They were casually stopped in the middle of the aisle, talking to a Target associate seemingly without any time constraints. The associate and woman politely moved out of the way so my children, myself, and our cart could pass through. Her son had other plans, though. He quickly stepped in front of me, embraced me in a hug, and before I could respond, leaned down and kissed me on my neck. Satisfied that he had brightened my day, he then allowed us to pass through and continue shopping.

That sweet gesture from a stranger in Target put a smile on my face. I had been rushing around, half listening to my children on our last weekly shopping trip before school officially started, concerned more with making sure I got everything we came to buy than about my loved ones who I was buying it for. My mind wouldn’t slow down, but instead focused on the schedule I needed to keep, the errands to run, deadlines to meet, work to be done, and bills that needed to be paid. I was having trouble keeping everything straight.

Those two brief encounters with that mentally challenged man showed me more clearly than any lecture could have that I am the one that is mentally challenged. I’m the one who has my priorities mixed up. I’m the one who spends way too much time thinking about things that don’t deserve that much attention while missing out on what is truly important.

Yes, schedules, deadlines, meetings, finances, and paying the bills are all necessary in our lives, but they aren’t what really matters. When I’m sitting at my desk working, then I should focus on work. When it’s time twice a month to pay the bills, then my focus should be on the bills. When I’m in front of the calendar planning our schedule, my attention needs to be there. But…when I have the privilege of going shopping with my kids, or we have the chance to share a fun activity, that is my time to be completely, 100% focused on them.

I don’t believe that this change in my perspective and desire for a new attitude will naturally just fall into place. I think that since we are born into such a fast-paced society, there will always be a lot that vies for my attention. I think that realization of needing balance is the first goal; then daily going to God and laying my schedule and my focus at His feet is necessary in order for true peace and happiness to follow.

I want to be like the man that I had the privilege to encounter in Target one beautiful Friday morning. I want to seize the opportunities that I have with my family – to embrace the details and to really feel the emotions of happiness and togetherness. I want to find pleasure and enjoyment in the simple things – the blessing of having money to buy necessities at the store, the ability to laugh and joke with my kids, and the joy of just being together.

My husband called to check on us later that day and I greeted him with, “Guess what? I was kissed by a man at Target today.” I hoped the impact of what I learned from that special messenger sent straight from God would somehow reach my husband despite his not having had the change to witness our experience firsthand.

I pray, also, that you were able to glimpse a little of the message a certain stranger at Target spoke to me. Maybe some of that will transform your way of thinking and if nothing else, help you to remember to appreciate life here and now, without running lists through your head, missing out on the fun that is happening right in front of you. I know that every time I go to Target, I will envision that man’s smile. It’s a weekly reminder to fully embrace life in the present, being thankful for all that I have.

Cheri Swalwell describes herself as a Christ follower first and foremost, wife, mother, and avid reader. She has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including here at Crosswalk.com/family and Christiandevotions.us. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog or “like” her on Facebook.

Starting today, have a Coke Float at McDonald’s and think of me & under privileged children

20 May, 2010

I alighted from my white and red coloured local bus, tapping out my EZ link card while my weary feet tapped onto the mortar ground. It was a dark Friday evening, and I ambled on to my dinner destination, unassuming. My dinner destination was a short walk away and I didn’t quite mind, although the air tasted warm and the quiet was barely a buzz or a chirp. Anxious to get back into a bit of air-con, I walked a bit more briskly along a stretch on Bukit Timah Road. Whoops, I was also a little late.

Yes, I know that Bukit Timah has a ton of fancy restaurants, but one of McDonald’s newest 24-7 outlets at Alocassia apartments on Bukit Timah Road beckoned. This is where I had to be.

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I’ve always wanted to celebrate my birthday at McDonald’s – even my 30 year old friends have celebrating their coming of age there!

Hence, it was an honour to be invited by Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, as they celebrate the former’s 125th anniversary by sharing their own birthday with a group of (much) younger underprivileged children. These 8 May birthday babies were definitely nowhere near 125 years old, and are currently being taken care of by two local charities – The Children’s Aid Society and The Salvation Army Gracehaven. To see them do this is actually better than fulfilling my childhood wish.

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McDonald’s french fries, Coca-Cola and 82 very cute youth beneficiaries + family + friends + volunteers somehow all melded together into one big happy meal. It was fun to watch and happiness in my heart, but made me feel a glimmer of guilt knowing that not only did I not share my birthday last year with any under-privileged kids, but I had instead celebrated it rather frivolously…

Now. Back to the now. Granted, no point crying over spilt milk, and so I slurped and sipped on the-exclusive-all-new-not-yet-released Coke Float with Steve and Tiffany, while knowing I was participating in a good thing.

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(Once in awhile, I will indulge, and I will work off those calories later.)
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With the marketing heads of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola – Linda, Kevin and June (L-R)

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Big bottle, big donations

I think its great that McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are giving back to the community. Coca-Cola also donated $5,000 each to both of the charities and the Ronald McDonald House Charities at the event – if I manage to collect $5000 on my next birthday, I promise to donate it to a charity of my choice!

Maybe this year, I should start collecting birthday charity donations from all my friends a little earlier.

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Mr Ronald McDonald gave me a little early birthday present collectible. He even signed it?!

Birthday presents seem to be early this year for everyone else too! For the first time in Asia-Pacific, Coca-Cola collectors can get their hands on a series of colored Coca-Cola can glasses, free with every large Extra Value Meal (excluding breakfast) all across Singapore. What colour do you like the best? (While stocks last.)

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The new-on-the-menu Coke Float and collectible glasses will be available at McDonald’s starting from 26 May, today!

***PSST – Coca-cola is also looking for Singapore’s biggest fan. If you or anyone you know has the biggest and best coca-cola brand collection, please get in touch with me – there may be some cool prizes waiting for you.***

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Happy birthday kids. And happy 125th birthday, Coca-Cola!

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Maybe when the kids grow up, they can upgrade their birthday in McDonalds to celebrating their marriage in McDonalds.

Would you like a wedding with that?


Full article on the McDonald’s wedding in Hong Kong here.

Never mind extra value in your meal – would you like a spicy McBride?