“There is more to a boy than what his mother sees. There is more to a boy then what his father dreams. Inside every boy lies a heart that beats. And sometimes it screams, refusing to take defeat. And sometimes his father's dreams aren't big enough, and sometimes his mother's vision isn't long enough. And sometimes the boy has to dream his own dreams and break through the clouds with his own sunbeams.”
“Family," she announced. "They're the people in your life you don't get to pick. The ones that are given to you,as opposed to those you get to choose."
"You're bound to them by blood," she continued, her voice flat. "Which, you know, gives you that much more in common. Diseases, genetics, hair, and eye color. It's like they're part of your blueprint. If something's wrong with you, you can usually trace it back to them."
I nodded and kept writing.
"But," she said, "even though you're stuck with them, at the same time, they're also stuck with you. So that's why they always get the front rows at christenings and funerals. Because they're the ones that are there, you know, from the beginning to the end. Like it or not.”
― Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key
“It’s more than you. It’s more than me. Whatever dreams we have, they’re for the family. We’re not alone anymore, now there are others there. And that dream is big enough, for all of us to share. So don’t think you’re going, you’re not going anywhere. You’re staying and taking your share and if you get afraid again, I’ll be there.
We are a family like a giant tree, branching out of the sky. We are a family, we so much more than just you and I. We are a family like a giant tree, growing stronger, growing wiser. We are growing free. We need you. We are a family.”
(lyrics taken from “Family” Dreamgirls soundtrack)
I’ve got two sons. Two cheeky, snotty, drooling, sour-smelling, magical little boys to call my own. They sure aren’t the cleanest of boys. They love to get their hands on cat hair and pick on worms in the ground and stomp in mud puddles after the rain and they think that The Trash Pack - the grossest guys that live in your garbage - is the most awesome bunch. They jump on my bed and make a huge mess in my room when they are in it. They pull toys off of each other. They bite each other. They wipe snot on each other. They run and slide and hop and bounce and do all kinds of things that just makes me want to pull them both by the ear. They are a handful. They toss my right to my wits ends at times. But I let them do all that. I let them go that far (as far as I can keep my sanity) because I believe that boys will be boys.
I take my children to the playground and am constantly mindful of the words that come out of my mouth. If I weren’t aware, all I would be shouting after them are “don’t climb!”, “don’t run!”, “don’t slide”, “don’t pick on worms!” I would not let them do anything, because every time they try to pull a daredevil act or even wobble, I can feel my heart sink to my stomach with fear. I think mothers would know what I mean. If we could keep our boys in a glass bubble, we would. We would prevent every bruise, every scratch, every scraped knee. But how will our boys turn out? Would they grow to be strong, self-reliant, macho men who can help themselves? I think not. Would they be brave and courageous men who laugh in the face of danger? Err, I don’t think so.
As moms, we need to inspire our boys to grow into real men. We need to not be too overprotective so that we can grow the importance of having courage and bravery. We need to teach them to help themselves and to be independent.
I’ve learned to tell them to “be careful” instead of telling them “don’t!” I’ve learned that by allowing them to explore and get their hands dirty and be gross, I am giving them a chance to grow and discover themselves. I’ve also learned to become someone smarter and vigorous and creative and critical, so to parent them well.
My boys may sometimes be the snottiest and stinkiest kids I have ever seen, but they are also the sweetest, most adorable little beings that have graced the face of this earth. Because when they plant a huge fat sloppy wet kiss on my cheeks, I really can’t see the grossness anymore. But I guess that all moms are biologically programmed to see things that way. Don’t you think so?
Parenting is not difficult. It’s challenging. The challenge is to become someone smarter, more vigorous, more critical. (And what a challenge that is!) The cool (or more relieving) part about it, is that it isn’t something we need to get on alone. It’s a team effort.
As Moms, we tend to prove our maternal super powers by doing everything on our own, testing our limits (and surpassing them) each time. We’d think that we need to have all the answers and parade around with our super-mom cape every single day. In the midst of that, we tend to push our partner aside. The Dad. He’s got 50% share in our kids, it’s only fair he’s got 50% of the responsibility. That’s the “the home team”, the core parental units. But parenting goes beyond the four walls of our homes. Our children need and benefit from other caring adults in their lives. We need them and so do our children.
As nice as it would be to be able to bounce ideas and concerns to others who are not a part of your daily grind everyday, good perspective can only come from the people you trust. It is important to choose from whom you rally assistance and ideas when you are stuck, to identify whose opinions you find most suitable for you and your child. As you build a community for you and your children, think about your child’s wellbeing and how he/she can benefit from that environment, and where you feel secure that your children will receive some positive influence.
While we waltz around through life, settling things left and right, organizing the days around our little munchkins, time becomes our biggest hurdle. But we can’t just fit in time to get ourselves connected with other people. We need to MAKE TIME to meet up with other people and build a community for us and for our children.
According to Ratih Ibrahim, a family psychologist, the aim of good parenting is resourceful children - competent, skillful, knowledgeable, reliable, trustworthy, ethical individuals who can perform well in a team. Really, it takes a village to meet that goal. But we’ve got this!
Photos courtesy of the Permadi, Hyu and Artono families, photographed by Andreas H.
“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” - Amy Li
I think you might already get the idea about how much I love getting chemistry in my camera. I really think that bonds and relationships, especially between friends, make up the prettiest frames. This time I got the chance to capture moments between sisters.
Not only are the Lim sisters family, they are also the best of friends. They’ve watched each other’s backs, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin, through broken hearts and have been each other’s reasons for celebrations, and the persons they look forward to sharing happy moments with the most.
As one of them was getting ready to leave the nest to pursue her dreams in another continent, the four of them took a moment to freeze their today. I imagine that one day they will look back at these portraits and smile to see that while their world have changed and the seasons have come and gone, it would be like they have never left each other because everything between them is still the same.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day. To the beautiful Lim girls, I wish you all the love and joy through all the adventures life may take you.
All my love,
I remember when I used to crash birthday parties when I was that age, in an attempt to meet girls. That did not do much good, unfortunately. I’ve always known that sixteen is a special age for a girl, but I didn’t understood what it meant to them. Until I had a daughter of my own and I can only imagine the mixed bittersweet feeling I would feel when she turns sixteen. She will say goodbye to her dolls and toys to say hello to her makeup and boys. She will dream up dreams that she will live out in her adult life. She will fill her head with brilliant ideas and her heart with extraordinary love stories. She will become a woman. And that is surely worth the celebration.
I understand that now. But I can only imagine the excitement Vanessa will be living out. I won’t tell you about how great this girl is, I will let her friends do that for me. When you watch this clip, I hope that you will also get to know her and share her happiness, celebrating her turning sixteen.
Hi, I’m Wuffy. You might have seen me before on these pages. I’m kind of a big deal around here. I’ve been a model for some of AXIOO’s past clients and I am their mascot. You know that the silhouette of a white Westie on AXIOO’s door and stationary? Well, not to brag or anything, but that’s me. Yes, I’ve inspired David and Fen countless times. But that’s all I have to say about me, because today, I want to tell you more about my family, The Soongs.
David and Fen have adopted me from the beginning. They’ve shared their home, their warm beds, and their hearts with me since I was but a wee little pup. You can say that I’m their first born, I’ve been with them even before Axel was born. I remember the day he came home with Fen, I didn’t think I could be more in love with anyone in my life. That boy will forever be dear to my heart. I love David, he’s my hero. I’ve seen him found his passion for cooking and I especially love it when he shares. You know he started a rooftop garden? He said it’s to grow herbs, but I know he built it just for me because he knows just how much I love to suntan. And Fen - this lady will forever be my idol. Her heart and mine will always be intertwined. We’re soul sisters.
I have watched these people waltz through the many seasons in the lives, setting milestones, leaving footprints. I’ve seen them receive blessings and become blessings. I’ve grown alongside each and every one of them. They have taught me that family is spelled A-C-C-E-P-T-E-D. And they’ve proven that countless times - when I mess up, when I’m angry. Even when I lost an eye. They loved me just the same. In fact, they love me even more. At night, when I see them fast asleep in their warm beds, I thank my lucky stars that my paths have crossed theirs. I really couldn’t wish for a better family.
You’d think that as a family of photographers they’d have lots of family pictures, right? But the truth is there isn’t much. And because I turn 9 this year, they’re doing a special session to include me, and the new addition to our family, Maru the Scottish Terrier in it. We love Maru. She’s an awesome new addition. She still needs work here and there, but there’s really nothing I can’t help her with.
So here are a few of the Soong family portraits. Thank you, Winson, for doing a fine job for us. We thought the theme “Journey” would be highly suitable for this session - marked by our favorite VW Combi and a makeshift raft. This is snapshot of our family journey, and we’re enjoying every minute of it.
We prayed until one day there were two lines on the test pack once again. I must admit that I was really nervous counting up the days until we could find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. So you could imagine my excitement when the doctor finally told us we would be having a girl. We were unsure at first. So unsure that we asked the doctor to confirm about a hundred times until he finally said “yes, I’m 100% sure. If I’m mistaken, my services are all on me!” We were beyond happy ever since. God is good and he really answered our prayers.
Months passed until my wife gave birth to our daughter and I finally held her in my arms. Our family and friends were happy for us. My sons welcomed my daughter with great love and joy. They look for her every morning when they wake up and cuddle her when they’re back from school. It warms our hearts just to see how much they love her and how much brighter their worlds are with her in it. Of course, our days have become much busier since she entered our lives, but just to hold her close every night, all tiredness vanish and is instantly replaced by joy. Undeniable, irreplaceable joy.
I’ve come to be utterly convinced that when we believe that God hears us and we surrender fully to him, He will fill our world with many beautiful surprises.