Category Archives: Exclusively Joel

Mother’s Day gifts

My kindergarten kids came home yesterday bearing gifts from their Mother’s Day project at school. Aw, they are so adorable (both the gifts and the kids). It gives me fuzzy feelings, as fuzzy as Joel’s fuzzy purple heart gift.

Happy Mother’s day to all moms out there. Stay strong.


The one constant in life is change

I’d like to think that I’m one resilient person, that I can quickly handle any change and any challenge that comes in my way, and move on. But the year 2011 has been so unfair to me, both professionally and personally — changes and challenges bombarded me from all directions that I feel like I just want to hide from the world and just scream, “Enough!”

I’m glad that my kids aren’t too affected by my issues. My cutie-pies. Mr. smart-boy Eric is as busy as ever. For this month and the next, he’ll have his first ever piano exam for Grade One, his Taekwondo upgrading for yellow belt, becoming a ring-bearer for his aunty’s wedding, and extra band practice… all this during his supposed school break. I wonder from time to time whether all this is too much for him, but he said he wanted to do all these extra-curricular activities, so I’m letting him go ahead with them. Any time he wants to stop, I told him, it’ll be okay with me.

I tend to call Joel by his first name more frequently now. And he writes and recognizes his own name now, yeah! He speaks very clearly now, too. Always the mild tempered boy just as he was before. One pleasant surprise I’m seeing in him is his sense of humour. He’s my Mr. Funny Boy.

Ezra. Never the one to cool down. Just this morning as Joel, Ezra and myself spent a nice sunny morning having breakfast at a cafe, he threw another of his infamous temper, because I refuse to let him wash his hands after doing so for the umpteenth time. His screeching scream was followed by him lying down on the coffee-stained floor, spinning himself on his back as I tried to soothe him and asked him to calm down. Thank God the supervisor had recognized us by now as the frequent patrons of the shop, and she actually laughed seeing him do that. I would have laughed at him too if wasn’t for the crazy stares I was getting from the other people in the cafe. And the fact that the monster of a scream was coming from that little boy I call my son. Mr. Hot-Tempered.

Look at that picture of Edry right over there, isn’t he adorable?! He’s my Mr. Happy Boy. I can’t believe he’s turning one year old next month! He looks just as handsome as my sons. *Sighs* … this kid makes me so happy. He’s a momma’s boy, this champ. He wriggles in excitement and reaches his arms out to me every single time he sees me, without fail. Every single time. And with the biggest smiles, too! None of my kids were ever that excited when seeing me while they were still babies, so I think the amount of excitement Happy Boy shows me more than makes up for his brothers’ lack thereof. My little crawler is working to strengthening his upper body and balance so that he can sit up by himself. I’m thinking in 6 months’ time, he’s ready for standing.

We’ve just completed our first ever Annual General Meeting for the Down Syndrome Association Kota Kinabalu (PSDKK). Even right now I’m putting some finishing touches on some documents and the meeting minutes to be distributed to the members. It got me thinking of the parents in my community who just had babies with Down syndrome, and how much I’d wanted to make an information packet to address this matter.

It led me to my memories when I first had Edry, and the fear and uncertainty I had during those early days.

So, here I am, tears streaming down my face as that familiar fear creeps back into my heart. There’s that self-doubt again. All those medical complication that a child with Down syndrome are susceptible to may creep up later in life… can I handle it? Can he? Physical and intellectual development challenges are also waiting for them. How? When? What am I to do? Will he work? Will he count? Will he understand the complexities of life?

And yet, raising Edry has been a breeze… how could it be? I’m trying to remember the struggle I had to endure to raise Edry. And I could remember none. At least no struggle that is any different from what I’ve faced when raising my other children. How could it be so easy for me?

I shouldn’t be asking these things. I should, instead, count my blessings. Because, at the end of the day, the reality is, I’m not raising a child with Down syndrome. I am raising Edry.

So it’s okay. He’s okay. I’m okay.

It’s going to be okay.

My boy is back home

Random photos 20100904

There was much happiness and jumping around by his brothers when Joel finally returned from his 2-month holiday at Sandakan with his ahpo and ahkung. It was as if he never left, as they run around playing chase in our small space we call home. And, as usual, it’s the little brother Ezra who’s doing the chase, unbeknownst to him.

Joel went a bit teary-eyed when he saw his grandparents left. I believe he really missed them, but partly I think he wanted to go out again just for the sake of it (“jalan!” he exclaimed, which in Malay means “let’s go!”). After this mommy gave him a big hug, Joel was back to his cheery self.

I am regretting doing one thing last night. I introduced Joel to a web site called StarFall (, containing interactive ABC and reading games and multimedia (thanks to Hue Fen for emailing the link). He was so engrossed, tapping on the wide touchscreen monitor (that’s him in the picture playing the A letter matching game), that he didn’t want to sleep till it was almost one in the morning. Surprisingly, he was up by 7am!

It’s the mother who’s suffering from lack of sleep….

See you in September

My parents-in-law were kind enough to help out during my first few weeks after giving birth, by babysitting Joel and Ezra for a couple of weeks. To help us adjust to our newest addition, they offered to care for Joel for another couple of months. The catch? Joel will have to follow them to Sandakan for the whole duration. That’s hundreds of miles away!

P1030400 It wasn’t easy for me to decide, but it wasn’t so hard, either. It reminded me of my economics class, specifically on opportunity cost, i.e. the cost of sacrificing one need in order to satisfy another need (or at least that’s what I remember it loosely defined as). I know that I will miss Joel like crazy as in weeping daily thinking about adorable little jovial him. I also realize, though, that I needed the time and energy to recuperate from all those physical, emotional and mental roller coaster after delivery. I would also save on daycare expenses while he’s on vacation, which is good in a way 🙂

Gratefully, yet heavy-heartedly, I agreed, while mentioning to my in laws that I am going to miss Joel dearly until he returns. They understood. The last I heard from Joel, he was jumping up and down at his uncle Jason’s house en route to Sandakan. Didn’t bother him one bit that he wasn’t at home with mommy and daddy. I’m OK with it.

Joel and his ah-kung (grandpa) and ah-po (grandma) will come back around September, just in time for the Aidilfitri (Eid) holidays. I can’t wait to see him again.

See you soon, dearest Joel! Mommy and Daddy and Eric miss you!

Baby sign language, my progress so far

(I scheduled this post to a later date, so this update might actually be a few weeks off the original timeline)

It has been three weeks since I used the baby sign language book I just purchased. I only watched the DVD once. I haven’t opened the quick guide that comes with it. Ezra and especially Joel absolutely loved the little baby signs book for the pictures. However, one time Joel was holding the book and somehow managed to get his face sliced off a bit from the sides of the book, sort of what you get with a paper cut. I decided to put the books away for a while, but I’ll be putting them out again some time later.

As for the signs themselves, it’s still a learning stage for all three of us. Currently I’m focusing on only a few signs that I think are critical to lessen Ezra’s meltdowns. Those are drink, eat, milk, bath and finish/all done. I haven’t seen one indication from either Joel or Ezra so far. I’m not so worried about Joel now. His articulation is getting better. Ezra still gets frustrated when I can’t read what he wants. I showed and repeated the baby signs to him, to which he doesn’t respond. Then when he wails, of course my stress levels go up, and I stress out quite easily.

He does try to speak a few words, like mommy, habis (finish), daddy, and a few more, but not the other important words like milk, drink and eat. I guess I’ll have to wait a couple more months to see if I can communicate better with Ezra using the baby sign language.

Toilet training Joel, day 3 (plus another)

Both Joel and I woke up on a Sunday morning with no accident. Yes! He was dry! Half an hour after we woke up, he told me that he needed to go pee.

For the whole day, the challenge was to keep ME focused on Joel. There were SO much I wanted or had to do — clean the floor, the kitchen, do the laundry, cook, taking care of the rest of the kids, on top of catching up with much needed rest — this little one in my tummy wasn’t getting any smaller.

That was where I started relapsing for a few hours. And that was when Joel had a poo accident. Not pleasant. A few deep breaths, though, and I rushed Joel to the toilet, made sure that he really has finished his job, then reminded him once again what he should do. Thank God for baby wipes, they really made cleaning easier. I showed Joel the poo that I cleaned, expressed my yucky face and threw it into the toilet bowl while he watched and hear me reminded him yet again.

I did one different thing that day, after re-reading the 3 Day Potty Training again. I started to praise Joel much more excitedly and loudly every time he successfully tells me he wanted to pee and did his job as he was suppose to. I think that would help reinforce things a bit more.

This was the end of my potty training with Joel. At least in the end, I managed to train Joel to tell me whenever he wants to pee. I didn’t quite remember what else I did differently on the third day as well as the next day (Monday, which I took an leave from work), except for keeping in my effort to focus, focus, focus. I think I was the one who struggled more than Joel. I don’t remember Joel having any day time accidents, either, but just during the early morning when he just woke up. Again, I’m having issues getting him to pee after he had just woken up, and he did complain every time he was put on the kiddie toilet seat when he’s still groggy from sleep.

Toilet training Joel: day 2 part 2

I kept re-reading the 3 Day Potty Training e-book just in case I missed something. I was a little bit stressed out because of the anxiety I put on myself. I’ve been asking myself all day — what’s next after this 3-day potty training? What can I expect? That Joel goes to pee in the toilet every time? That he doesn’t poo in his pants? What??

In the mean time, Joel seems to be doing okay. I kept reminding Joel to tell me when he needs to pee, like, every other minute. My exact words were, “Tell mommy when you want to pee, OK?”, instead of “Do you want to pee now?”, which the 3 Day Potty Training book told not to do. So, he told me he wants to pee every time he felt like peeing. No accident until night time, except once when he took his afternoon nap. He didn’t wake up in time to rush to the toilet. He seemed to have a problem waking up when he has the urge to go to the loo, so that didn’t help ease my anxiousness one bit. But it’s only the second day, I tell myself. It’s OK. I didn’t want to transfer my stress and anxiety to him. I just calmly told him to tell me the next time he wants to pee, and not pee in his pants.

He didn’t want to drink much, either. I’m suspecting that he had tied two and two together; more water equals more peeing, so he lessened his drinking so that he didn’t have to go pee so often. Again, I stressed out about it after noticing that he didn’t go to the loo for almost 5 hours. After a while, though, I told myself that what matters most is that he goes to the toilet when it was time, so I chilled back, calmed myself down a bit, told myself he has good bowel control, and just went on with my routine as what the book advised.

So that’s pretty much what happened on Saturday, or what I would call Day 2. Again, I can’t really call it Day 2 because I only started Friday night before.