September beginnings

We took advantage of the final days of the summer farmers markets around here as fall weather took over last month. Our children are continuing to grow in their friendship and it’s been so sweet to see them love each other so much at times as a sibling pair. They especially enjoy holding hands across the aisle in the car, giving each other hugs and kisses (most of the time), and sharing food with one another (mainly Timothy giving to Grace, though; she’s a big eater!) We continue to be excited about meeting baby girl, and are savoring how Timothy tells and shows us everyday how very thankful he is for another sister. The excitement and endearment has been passed on to Grace, too. It’s been such a joy to watch Timothy grow as a big brother.

A short visit from my older sister brought along some sweet time with Aunty Sophia for our kids and some nice sister time for me, too.  After our visitor, we jumped right into the full swing of school, Bible study, and a more consistent weekly routine.  I turned 30, and was struck by immense gratitude for the opportunity to be my little ones’ primary teacher, a part of the new Revelation study at BSF, and serve our local church. It was nice to reflect and look forward to all the Lord has for me this year and in this new decade, and am eager to learn more from others, especially older folks as I stumble along in so many different roles.

Happy 1st Birthday, Grace!

SweetGracesmilingDearest little Grace Elizabeth,

Our family’s been so blessed by you this year. Papa and I have immensely enjoyed you as our daughter and Timothy’s sister. We’re thankful to God for making you just the way He did and giving you to us exactly when He did, too. I can’t believe it’s already been a year with you, but in some ways it feels even longer since we can’t imagine our family without you! Some stats from your first year: you rolled over at about 4 months, sat up sometime during 6 months, scooted at 7 months, crawled quickly at 8, cruised at 9 months, had your first two teeth emerge at 10 months and climbed up the stairs at 10 months, too. You also took your first plane ride like a champ at 11 months. We are waiting for you stand independently before you take steps in the coming weeks (maybe months?). We love your delicate little hands, wispy long hair, lashes that curl on the outer edges of your eyes, frequent big smiles, and contagious giggles.

Some of your favorite foods this first year include nori (seaweed snacks), blueberries, oatmeal, pumpkin, millet, sweet potatoes, bananas, kiwis, black beans, bread and pears. You enjoy playing by yourself quite a bit, but you also love it when other people, especially Timothy, are around even when it means you’re sometimes getting shoved or squished a bit. Your favorite toys are the baby piano, stacking cups, Timothy’s George monkey, play kitchen, your soft books, and whatever “Gaw Gaw” is trying to build with his Legos. You also enjoy any household objects we let you play with, too. I’m pretty sure your first words were “Baba”, “Dada”, “Papa”…basically all the ways you can refer to your father, which was pretty special for Papa. 🙂 “Bye-bye”, “Yeh Yeh”, and what sounds like “more” in Cantonese followed soon after. You also say “Mama” now, and it’s so heartmelting, maybe more so since it’s not often you say it. You also seem to want to skip sign language and go straight to talking when you’ve been asking for more food lately in Cantonese instead of signing. In addition your cute little gazes and smiles, you have a funny little hello wave where you stick your hand out as if reaching for people.

You absolutely adore Papa and he is quite smitten with you as well. It’ll be so sweet to see your relationship grow in the months and years to come. We love how excited you are to see him everyday. You also love “Gaw Gaw” and we’re so happy to see you and Timothy enjoy each other so much this first year together. It’s so special how the two of you can quickly help each other feel better when one of you is sad, simply by being present. You are super happy when you see photos of our whole little family together, and you enjoy reading and singing through books with us. When we dance, sing and jump around all crazy, it makes you smile and laugh. You squeal for bubbles, enjoy playing with water, and love slides and swings. It was so cool to see you catch on quickly to slides and notice you lean forward to initiate the thrill. It’s been a gift to watch you thrive in your BSF class each week.  I love that you enjoy Cantonese Story Time, especially when loudly clapping for the songs we sing. You’ve been humming and singing along with us for your sleeptime song of “Be Thou My Vision”, and it’s very loud at times. I can’t wait to have you make more music with us in the coming years.

Our first year together after your birth was so full and difficult in many ways. You made your appearance 8 days early, smoothly, calmly and quickly – we thank the Lord for that, too! Like your brother, you also have symmetrical double hair swirls, which we find fascinating and adorable at the same time. You were born a bit on the small side but gained weight well in the early months. When I was pregnant again, we didn’t know for a little while, but you weren’t getting enough milk so you lost weight between 3 and 6 months. It disheartened me that you needed a lot of formula to get back on track, but I’m thankful for how God provided for your growth in that way even though it was not what I’d planned or wanted for you. We lost your little sibling unfortunately, so that was painful for me to grapple with as I also struggled with your growth curve this year, too. Many people tell me you’re tiny, and it makes me want to burst into tears sometimes…there are those times when I really do sob while holding on to you tightly. Baby girl, you’ve been so tough and cooperative and are back on track with gaining weight and eating most everything we feed you so well. Praise the Lord for that! You’ve also been a decently good sleeper and napper, and we are SO THANKFUL for that gift. While, it’s been such a relief to have an easier sleeper, and you probably also benefit from having us not be as nervous as we were with Timothy. 😉

The Lord has used you to bless our family in ways better than we hoped or imagined in this first year. I never would’ve imagined how much your story so far has helped me to see the world more soberly and compassionately, while also longing more for Jesus. Your sweet and flexible disposition has been so helpful in this otherwise difficult year and we’re grateful for God’s graciousness in making the transition being a family of 4 smoother than we’d expected. I have also felt more helpless and inadequate as a mother than I’d ever felt before with only your big brother in my care. I think this is also God’s grace to me through you to show me that I deseperately need Him to fill and work through me because I cannot do anything truly fruitful on my own.

I pray that as you grow physically, your spirit would be increasingly awakened to thirst for the truth of the Bible instead of the many lies culture will feed you about God, the world, and yourself. I pray that you will find your deepest sense of belonging and worth in your Heavenly Father’s affection and sacrifice for you through Jesus Christ. I hope you will be strong in your convictions and in guarding your heart, as well as compassionate and caring toward others. We look forward to getting to know you more this second year and the years to come.

Happy first birthday to you, our precious and sweet baby girl!

With a full and grateful heart,


It is Well With My Soul

While we had some nice highlights, this actually proved to be a painful September for us. Our church family has been going through many challenges and has lost numerous staff from resignations and layoffs. We’re discouraged and like many, are unsure of our church’s future but we will stay and continue invest in this church home for the time being, until we’re called to plant our family into another church in this area.

In August, we discovered that I was pregnant. While it was surprising and daunting to think about having three children under the age of three next Spring, we were very excited that our family was growing again and to meet the new baby. After a few ultrasounds though, we learned that this baby died during the second month of my pregnancy. We’re devastated we didn’t get to ever see a heartbeat and that we won’t get to meet him or her next year as a family. It’d be understatement to say life’s felt so hard since receiving that news. I’m snuggling Timothy and Grace extra amounts these days. However my heart continues to ache heavily for the loss of our third baby, their little sibling.

Mama ringing in the last year of her 20sBSF has been a great source of encouragement for me as I’ve been studying the life of Moses along with the history of the Israelites. I’m so thankful for God’s providence and timing in reminding me gently and firmly that he is sovereign and cares deeply for his people. As we grieve and process, I look forward to the day when the Lord wipes away our tears and death will be no more. Some of the songs that I’ve sung often lately include “It Is Well With My Soul”, along with other classic hymns. Timothy has quickly picked up, and “It is Weow” is a new favorite with him. I love hearing him belt out hymns while strumming hard on his ukulele or pressing into the toy electric guitars. His singing and playing fill the house and reminds me that music is an incredible gift from the Lord. I’m also thankful for the blessing of community who have been walking with me through this loss and point me towards our surest hope in Jesus the midst of despair, confusion, pain and a veritable rollercoaster of emotions.

Family visitors in September meant our family enjoyed plenty of extra help for me and attention for the children. It was so fun to watch Timothy interact so fully with extended family members and speak so much Cantonese to others. He loved having Aunty Alison, Uncle Kevin, Grampa & Grandma Ma, and Aunty Sophia stay here with us. Grace was giddy with all the extra attention and snuggles from everyone, too. Timothy’s been expressing that he misses people and it’s endearing for him to let us know when he misses relatives after their visits.

Our happy 7-month old

Sweet little baby Grace continues to be a joyous sign of Jesus’ exceeding graciousness towards me. Her happy and mellow disposition helps me enjoy recent difficult days with renewed perspective and gratitude. I’m blown away everyday by how much her presence and life is an immense blessing to our family, and I marvel at how wonderfully Grace has been created. She continues to crack up at big brother’s antics, “jokes”, and now loves to ride on him in addition to chasing him with our help. Grace has also progressed quickly from strongly sitting up to starting to crawl quickly in September. She seems to enjoy solid foods pretty well so far even she isn’t as voracious of an eater as her brother was at this age.

We took Timothy to the Museum of Flight and it was a blast to see him explore the many interesting
exhibits and have fun with the hands-on displays. Andrew and I actually hadn’t been there since we had our wedding reception there over 5 years ago, so it was neat to reminisce a bit and share with our son about our wedding day. Timothy liked pointing out how happy everyone was in our wedding album, and that the wedding cake was missing candles! I’m pretty sure he was pleased to learn that big festive cakes are for more than celebrating birthdays.

Is Autumn almost here?

Grace loves swings, too!August was a fun-filled month of play dates, park picnics and family time for us. Grace has recovered well from her surgery and has become so much more active this month! It’s already been over half a year since we met our sweet little girl, which is hard to believe. Time definitely has flown faster with our second child since we don’t have as much time to slowly savor the early stages of development.

Even with the challenges of this age, two is such fun stage for us with Timothy. He’s learning a lot every week and it’s a joy to witness. He sings along to many songs and memorizes lines from books. He initiates pretend play and continues to imitate us and what he sees in books. Timothy makes so many loud observations these days that it really keeps me on my toes explaining things to him in Cantonese. He’s also taken to letting me know whenever people aren’t covered up with clothing, which makes for very chatty visits to the beach and park this hot summer! One of the newer sweet things Timothy does is call “Mama?” randomly throughout the day wherever we are, so I can answer with his name. We do this back and forth several times at varying volumes since he seems to just enjoy the call and answer with his mama. It’s silly, but endearing moments like those make me so glad to be at home. Timothy got to see his Grandma Tam this month and Grace got to meet her for the during her visit here. It was fun to hear Timothy use his Cantonese with another adult in-person.

Little construction worker

Timothy is still fascinated with vehicles of all sorts and had a blast at both Kirkland’s Summerfest and Redmond’s Big Truck Day this month, getting to ride on lots of big rigs. Thursday mornings are still an event around here since our kind WM recycling truck driver stops to greet Timothy. Sundays are also a highlight as we worship with our church family and Timothy gets to watch the band play, sometimes bringing along some instruments from home, too. It’s fun how he re-enacts the drumming, guitar-playing and standing by a “wonderful cross” at home “like at church”. Some of his other oft-used English phrases these days are, “Timothy so funny!”, “Timothy too fast!”, “Timothy disobey…” “Nooo”, and “Jesus died on the wonderful cross to save us from sins”. It’s crazy what he winds up memorizing. While I find the “nooo” annoying, we’re trying to redirect it to be “no, thank you” and be glad that he didn’t figure out the English “no” till very recent months. Timothy often announces to Grace what “big brother” is doing and it’s endearing to watch him snuggle, talk with, and sing to Grace the way he sees Andrew and me treat her. At the doctor’s office the other day, he told Grace reassuringly that she didn’t need to be afraid when he saw her begin to look sad for her physical exam. Usually he says that to himself (like a self-pep talk) because that’s what I tell him about the car wash, our blender, and thunder. I almost burst into tears at his sweet encouragement to his sister!

More fun at Grass Lawn

Grace is growing quickly this month and is definitely on the move. She’s fast with rolling and pivoting to get to things she wants to examine and mouth so we need to keep a close eye on her. She is still very mellow and easily pleased though, and we’re quite thankful for that so far. Grace’s SUPER happy to see her Papa come home each day and it just melts my heart to see her gazing affectionately at him often, as if she doesn’t want him to leave again. She uses her cute little hands to explore all of our faces, and it’s one of the most precious things to watch her pet Timothy’s smiling face. One of their favorite activities together is Grace “chasing” Timothy up the stairs with our help. We can’t get enough of both their beaming smiles during the chasing game. Grace continues to be smothered with hugs and kisses from her big brother everyday. I continue to enjoy her big smiles, funny giggles, and rapt attention towards Timothy in all his busyness. The way she lights up when he dances and entertains her is too adorable to watch. I love that they’re already starting to play together a bit. No one else can make Grace laugh harder than Timothy right now, and he is happy to oblige.

This month, we wrapped up a 12-week summer book and Bible study with other mothers of young children. I was humbled and convicted to be more diligent during these formative early parenting years, as well as very prayerful in how I shepherd our children. The book work/Bible reading, weekly fellowship for us mamas to discuss, and prayer times were salve for my soul in this season. One week, we had 5 slumbering babies upstairs with a bunch of busy little ones keeping the babysitter busy downstairs in the family room, and I thought to myself, “How incredible is this season of craziness with wee little ones?!?”. I continue to be thankful for our home and the opportunities we have to be hospitable. We plan to keep opening our home to a women’s study, but I’ll take a break from leading this fall and look forward to being led by an older woman from our church. I’m also excited for next month when we begin our weekly activities of going to Classical Conversations and Bible Study Fellowship. As Timothy approaches school age, I hope these activities are a good primer for when we start some more structured homeschooling preschool times at home this school year. For now, we’re definitely focusing on obedience and basic communication!


July highlights

Very sunny morning concert
Very sunny morning concert
"A bird feather, Mama"
“Mama, a bird feather!”

The Seattle area has had several weeks in which we struggle some to beat the heat, but it’s been fun to enjoy more water activites and the outdoors when it’s not too hot outside in the mornings. (Yes, I’m a Pacific Northwest wimp now when it comes to the “hot” weather). Maybe I should take some cues from Timothy who doesn’t ever complain about sweating. 😉 We’ve enjoyed a few of the morning summer concerts in Kirkland nearby and are thankful for the many beautiful parks and playgrounds accessible to us. Timothy is an avid explorer of the outdoors and Grace is a calm and patient observer so it works out well for all. It will be so fun to see the two of them running around next summer and discovering new things together.

Our little girl continues to be a sweet, mellow, happy and giggly. She is rolling a lot and enjoying baby toys and books. Grace also loves seeing and talking to her big brother. I’m delighted to see her bring many smiles to Timothy’s face. It’s one of the cutest things to see her use her little hands to explore her brother’s face when he lays next to her for hugs and playtime. Timothy is still mostly very gentle and affectionate with Grace and is a good sport about all the drool, while she is a great sport about all the toddler squeezes and smooches.

Waiting patiently for surgery
Waiting patiently for surgery

Grace’s surgery was Thursday morning, and it was a point of both built-up anxiety and relief as we ended the month. The procedure went very smoothly and Grace appears to be recovering well so far. We’re grateful for the skilled and kind medical staff at Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center close by. They took good care of our baby girl and we were able to return home with her within hours of arriving at Children’s in the morning. My heart was twisted when I watched Grace with the slightly oversized mask squish her face as she fussed a bit before getting drowsy, and had leave her little helpless unconscious body on the big operating with only a tiny hospital gown on her. The Lord was faithful to bring encouragement and peace through His Word and our community, though. It was a short operation and the experienced doctor and nurses were also reassuring and helpful. Timothy immediately give his sister a snug hug upon seeing her emerge from the recovery area with me later and was happy to see Grace doing well. Thank you to those of you who encouraged and prayed for us through this experience!

I love that he instinctively reaches to hold her hand
I love that he instinctively reaches to hold her hand

We continue to enjoy Timothy’s chattiness and activity around here. I’m pretty blown away to hear him use so much new language quickly lately. He likes to practice sentences in both Chinese and English; it’s encouraging to see him understand both so well. We’re also amused to hear him practice his language and talk himself to sleep at night sometimes. Some of the other cute things he does right now involve his ukulele. He holds it upright to play like a cello with a wooden spoon as his bow and he loves to rock out on it as a little guitar like us. Timothy also wanted us to make a big cardboard cross (he calls it “wonderful cross”) so he could stand next to it and play instruments “like church”. He’s an intense drummer these days. On the domestic front, he’s busy letting us know he’s doing things just like Papa or Mama in the little play kitchen. Whether it’s making crepes (complete with generous pours from the maple syrup jug) or cutting up fruits and veggies on his little cutting board, it melts me sometimes to watch him working away like a little man! The children and I also visited Remlinger Farms in July with classmates from toddler group. Timothy enjoyed the little kid rides and rode a horse for the first time. While he was on horseback, we also watched the much larger horse in front of us drop a huge steaming pile, making that the most memorable part of riding horseback for him, of course. He also distinctly remembers the spot on our car where a bird left a present earlier this week when we returned to our car after a summer concert. And so the potty talk fixation begins… 😉

Riding on little Raisin
About to go for a ride on little Raisin

Papa Andrew is smitten with his lovely daughter so our photo gallery is quite large this month. =)