Time for a Quick Catch Up!

Hello All

I have been reminded lately on more than 1 occasion that I am due for another blog post. Well as it has been 10 months (eek sorry), it is time for what we call in NZ a ‘Quick Catch Up!’. So much has happened since then, Ethan has gone from a roller to a walker, we have had multiple visitors and I’ve added another year of teaching to my belt. Life as a young Expat family has it’s challenges but is a crazy exciting ride!

I’ll start our wee ‘catch up’ with Ethan! To be honest it was like one morning I blinked and suddenly we had a Toddler. Gone a the carefree days when we could put out drinks on the dining table or we could store ANYTHING in the low cupboards. But with his increased sense on independence has come the development of some beautiful traits. Although he defiantly wants ‘mummum’ in the room to share his toys and for reassurance, he is quite happy playing by himself and every so often he will waddle over to me, give me a quick cuddle and then continue playing. He has also developed a new found love of books and will squeal in delight as he selects one, brings it over and sits in my lap, turing the pages. I will however, omit in this post the details of the recent tantrum he just had when he refused to be carried in the supermarket and was determined to pull all the cans off the bottom shelf.

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Church has been going well and has been growing month by month. I have been learning to love my new found roll in church life. As any young mum who has been active in church can tell you, once a baby comes along things change. Although I can not serve in the same capacity and I used to, I am loving having the blessing of seeing Ethan flourish and develop. We now have a handful of babies and toddlers at Appointed filling up our parents room downstairs. We are very blessed to have pastors who love having young families and children in the life our church and Ethan enjoys clapping away to praise and if we are lucky will fall asleep during worship.

In January we were luck to have a visit from my brother Glen and his partner Corey when they were travelling around Asia. We introduced them to the delicacies of Malaysia food, showed them around our city and also all crammed in the Myvi to take a Day Trip to Melaka. Although it was just a small visited, it was so great to see them and the left each with a pair of fippers and with a love for 100plus!

Next to Visit was my brave sister Erica. Anyone who choose to come to tropical Malaysia at the end of their 2nd Trimester deserves to be called brave in my books. Erica came for two weeks in April which also coincided with Ethan’s 1st Birthday. While she was here she managed to teach Ethan how to shake his head from side to side, and now overtime we facetime, as soon as he sees her all he does is sit there and shake his head! During Erica’s time in Malaysia we went to Singapore to see the pandas, had a long weekend in KL, visited several Mamark’s for roti (her personal fav) and even brought Ethan into school for a day. In a few short weeks Dad arrives and in September my Inlaws are coming too.  I must admit it has been so lovely having so many visits from family this year.

Finally, I can’t believe it is time to say goodbye to yet another class. This year I have taught Grade 4 (in NZ/UK it is the same as Year 5). There are many great things about only having a class of 16 (yes 16), especially when you think of our teacher admin (reports, marking, assessment, PTC). But the thing I have enjoyed the most is the extra time you get to spend with each student, this in my case, has resulted in a much more insightful and closer teacher-student relationship with my students this year. Although there are definitely challenges working at my school, the students have made this year great. We have learnt about risk’s and challenges children face resulting in a trip to a local children’s welfare home, explored space and how it’s explored, learnt about digital safety and presented our knowledge in plays to the school and also learnt all out renewable energy and what our carbon footprint is doing to the world. To say I have enjoyed learning with them is an understatement.

Well that is the end of my ‘Quick’ catch up! Hope things are well for you all.

As Always, Love and Blessings,

Lorna

 

 

 

 

 

September, October, Solids!

Hello again! It has been more than 2 months since my last post but my goodness what a crazy exciting 2 months it has been. I will try to sum it all up for you in three nice and tidy paragraphs, so you can catch up with the Hwangs without taking up your whole lunch break reading.

September saw me back at work and discovering being a full time working mum is not as easy feat!   We have now settled into a new family daily routine. I’m up anytime between 5am-6.30am (whenever master Hwang decides to wake), get ready for work, drop Eugene off at work, drop Ethan off and then make my way to school. This is all then reversed when we come home followed by cuddles, play time, dinner and then bed.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I am however absolutely loving being back at school. A month in to term and we found ourselves with a new Head of Primary. I am thoroughly enjoying working with her and am really enjoying learning more about the PYP IB Programme.

Lots of exciting happenings are occurring in October. Excitingly as our 3 church services had grown so much, we had to adjust the service times as we could no longer all fit in the building together. This has meant our church service time has moved to 2pm which I (not really being a night person) absolutely love HAHA! We are getting more and more young families in the church and I am so looking forward to the play dates we will be able to have as our children grow. Another highlight of October is having Deb move back in after a 6 month hiatus! I am really enjoying having another adult in the house to have actual conversations with.

Finally Ethan, I cannot believe he is now 6 Months old! It seems like every day of the first 2 months dragged like eternity and then the next 4 month were over in a blink of an eye! He is such a delightful lil’ man and is now starting to show his cheeky little personality. In the last 2 months he has grown like crazy (now a whopping 8.5kg) going up a clothing and nappy size. He has now got 2 bottom teeth and has begun eating solids. He loves oats, pumpkin, kumera and watermelon, but is not so fond of peas. It is hilarious to see him wriggling around on the floor and he never stays in one place too long so much so, I have lowered his cot just in case! Mark my words he will be on the move soon. He is forever talking to us and even sings along with me sometimes on car rides home. The fact that for the last month and a half he has been sleeping pretty much 7pm-7am (give or take 30min) is the most glorious thing ever!

I really am loving our new normal, and while it is exhausting and hard work I wouldn’t trade it. I’ll leave you with a few photos of our last few months.

As always, love and blessings,

Lorna

Hmm no so sure about those peas mum!

However I LOVE watermelon

My Crazy Class

Ethan’s First Swim

Where all my students come from!

 

 

 

Bangkok and Back to School

I cannot believe we are already in August! Only 4 more months until Christmas then HELLO 2017! In the last few weeks the Hwangs have been on a few adventures ourselves, some to foreign lands and some to new seasons of life! 

I’m sure many of you will know ( especially if you follow my husband on Instagram) that earlier this month Eugene and I braved Thailand with Ethan our 3.5month old son. Armed with boobs, bottles and a baby carrier we braved the streets of Bangkok for 4 days. We visited temples, markets did boast cruises, at beautiful food and when the heat got to us….went shopping! Eugene and I were both amazed at how well Ethan did. And although traveling with an infant ment more taxi rides than the train rides we were used too, we managed to do most of the things we wanted to do without breaking the bank! 

We flew in at midnight and by 9am I was back at work. This academic year I am teaching Grade 4 (Year Five or Standard 3) which is a lot different to the 4 and 5 year olds I was teaching last academic year! We had quite a high staff turn over last year and while I’m missing my colleagues from last year I am really enjoying the new team of people I’m working with.  I have 14 students 12 of them Malaysian, one from India and one from Korea and boy are they gonna keep me on my toes. They are so inquisitive which is fantastic. I am looking forward to teaching upper primary again. 

As Eugene is on holiday most of August, he has been looking after Ethan. When he goes back to work Ethan will go to our Nanny Aunty Lin (sort of like A Porse Carer in NZ). She is a lovely Chinese Christan woman and is everything we prayed for. She is only going to speak to Ethan in Mandarin so hopefully we will have ourselves a bilingual we man. 

Here are a few pictures of our Thai Adventure! 

As always, Love and Blessings

Lorna

The New Normal

Hi all! It has been awhile since my last post but as a new mum, I’m sure you will forgive me. The last three months have definitely been the hardest of my entire life and coming out the end of it feels like victory (I’m sure you with children COMPLETELY understand). Nothing anyone can say to you can prepare you for the journey of parenthood and basically through trial and error, I find myself growing and learning everyday. For me it has been a crazy journey of finding the ‘New Normal’.

As an expecting mum, I had a sense of excitement, joy and expectation about parenthood…oh how naive I was haha! Nothing seemed to go as I had planned. I had to have a c-section (definitely not what I wanted), I really struggled to breast feed (which led to super mummy guilt about using formula, stupid I know but real), I was anxious about everything, would he sleep, would I get enough sleep, when would he wake up, why is he always hungry… this craziness along with family leaving led me into a little bit of a downwards spiral. Teacher, organised, extroverted Lorna was really struggling with this newfound motherhood and all the ‘lack of control’ that comes with it.

Thankfully, although far from home, we had huge support. Our pastors and church family here have been incredible! With people coming to stay to help out, food being delivered and  people organising catch ups with me throughout the week (this is just a small part of what they have done). Praise God for social Media connecting me with friends, family and Mums from our church family in NZ who would text and call me at a moments notice. Also, Eugene has been the most amazing husband and father through this season.

It’s taken a bit of time, a lot of learning and patience but I am so love with our lil man and so enjoy seeing him grow and change EVERYDAY!  I have gone from counting down the days till I return to work to dreading being apart from him for the 8 hours I have to teach. Our little man is such a joy! Loves his food, loves to kick, jump and play. He is a growing, happy, healthy boy. 

We’re about to embark on our first holiday as a family to Thailand! So I will leave you with some photos of our gorgeous wee lad and with a promise of more frequent posts to come!

As allways, Love and Blessings

Lorna 

Hello April and Hello Parenthood

By now if you’re family, friend or just remotely connected to Eugene and I by some sort of social media, you would know our world has been turned with the arrival of Baby Ethan Zhi Lik Hwang on April 21st. Although he he entered the world much differently than I had hoped (through an emergancy c-section after 30 hours of labour with no dilation due to engaging transversely) I can honestly say I have never experienced so much love in my entire life as I did the first time I saw him and heard his little cry (which honestly sounds like a little sheep). 

It is amazing how parenthood unites you with others. It transcends race, gender and religion. It seems like Malaysia is just as much in love with Ethan as we are. In the 1st short week of his life I have had countless conversations with all types of people, expats, Chinese, Indians and Malays alike. Some like to give advice (and are shocked I’m not confined to my home drinking herbal soup) but most are just fascinated by this beautifully tiny Eurasian boy. I’ve been overwhelmed by how strangers want to help. Whether it is moving so we can get a table to having one mother wait with us it in a nursing room in the mall (because Ethan was beside himself screaming and wouldn’t latch) and she was concerned for me. It has made me even more excited about this new season of life and the opportunities that will come our way. 

Although Ethan sort of stole the show April has had another major highlight, my Mum has come to visit! Grangran has been experiencing Malaysia in its finest, crazy traffic, tropical storms and all. Pre-baby we did a lot of movie watching, house preparing with a few trips out. Post-baby she has been in full blown Grangran mode. Cooking/cleaning/nursing (both baby and me)/losing sleep/shopping! But she’s loving every minute of it and is already planing to come back before the year is out. I don’t know what we would have done without her and will miss her sorely when she leaves next Saturday. 

Here are a few photos of our first weeks as a little family. 

Feeding time with Daddy

Grangran has the magic touch

Our first family photo

Our beautiful boy

‘I’m asleep because I have just pooed and vomited everywhere’

Loving bath time with daddy!


As always, Love and Blessings

Lorna

Content, Excited, Expecting

We are now into our last days of March, our second March in Malaysia. Although this March is very different to last March!! Last March I was excited because we had got a new car, this March we just paid a wee bit for road tax and to re-insure our car. Last March I was egarly expecting our trip to Japan, this March I am egarly expecting our SON (well in 2-3 weeks) and the arrival of my Mum in April.

This month has had its shares of ups and downs. Unfortunately whist waiting to turn at an intersection, another driver decided they would like to ‘meet’ the back out our car! (Luckily we had just re-insured our car right!) This has meant a trip to the police station, the insurance agent and nearly 3 weeks later still no car!! But we have been blessed by a family at church who are lending us one of their cars in the interim, an extra blessing as bubs could arrive any week/day now.

However like many months here in Malaysia, March has also brought a series of firsts and highlights! For me, these have included celebrating Appointed Church’s 2nd Anniversary, having both my colleagues and the parents of the students in my class surprise me with 2 seperate baby showers, washing all the CUTE baby clothes/sheets and having Brett and Sue Walker, very close family friends and the ministers of our family church in Napier come and visit us here in Johor Bahru. I also got to experience my first live snake (right outside my classroom) and learnt that actually snakes can swim!

As I now embark on maternity leave (and my last few child-free weeks) I will be trying to get some rest. But those of you who know me well, know I will probably go MAD within 2 days if I don’t find something to do with my time! Hopefully by the time my next update comes, there will be some cute pictures of our son to share with you. For now I leave you with some pictures of the past month.

As Always, Love and Blessings

Lorna.

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Appointed Church Anniversary

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Me at 35 Weeks

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Some of my Co-Workers

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The SNAKE!

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The ‘Incident’

 

 

 

Our Grandest Adventure Yet: Preparing For Parenthood Part 2

Well I am now officially in my Third Trimester and staring to feel the effects of it. Where has the time gone! It seems like only yesterday I was doing my second pregnancy test ‘just to make sure’, and now I am been woken in the night by a strong kick to the bladder. I was blessed with a very smooth Second Trimester, other that horrible indigestion and a growing bump, I felt almost normal again…almost. Here are some of the highlights of the past 3 months on our journey towards Parenthood.

Although many people are fortunate to find out the gender of their child around 17-20 weeks, we had to wait a little longer. Our lil babe (taking after his father), enjoys a good sleep and when we went for our gender scan, there he (well ‘it’ at the time) was sound asleep with his legs crossed. No hope!! This meant another 4 week wait until we could find out! So I did my research… Googled ‘How to make sure your baby is awake during a scan’ and came armed at our next appointment with an ice cold sprite and lollies! I would like to say that baby was lively and awake but no… asleep again! But at least he co-operated with us enough to move into position…A BOY! (Just like I thought).

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Another highlight was finally seeing a bump and feeling him kick! I was by no means ‘petite’ before my pregnancy which resulted in many a, ‘is she pregnant or just put on weight’ glances. I didn’t really start to feel him move until about 18 weeks and it wasn’t until I hit 22 weeks and in my maternity clothes that it was obvious that I was pregnant. Eugene excitingly first felt him kick around 24 weeks. Now however…..lets just say bloated balloon (for mum) and future soccer player (for Baby Boy). I’ve been sending progressive updates back to the family at home and lets just say they’ve gotten in on the action!

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Once we found out the gender and I was feeling and looking more pregnant each day, an overwhelming desire to nest began! When we were back in NZ, mum organised a Baby Shower for me and my family were very generous with their gifts. Little tiny pants, booties, blankets is enough to make most women sigh.. let alone when you’re have raging pregnancy hormones flowing through you. When we arrived back to Malaysia, we flew into KL so we had a quick (well 2 and a half hour) stop of at Ikea and got our first round of baby furniture. A 10 hour flight + 1 hour airport wait + 2 1/2 hour Ikea trip then a 4 hour drive back to Johor did result in some incredibly swollen feet though.

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Once we got back and were settled into our new place the inner 6th form seamstress in me emerged! I began finding free baby clothes patterns online and became a Pinterest machine! I have to thank Ps Lyn for lending me her machine as mine is still tucked away at a friends back in Wellington. I began by recycling  our old clothes to baby clothes and then as my confidence grew, so did my projects! From baby carriers to bibs, chino’s to blankets boy I was sewing!

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I will continue to keep you posted on how things are going with our growing family!

As Always,

Love and Blessings

Lorna

 

Hwang’s Moving Castle

2016 for us has started with a ‘hiss and a roar’ as you would say! While going back to Malaysia to a familiar job and established church family has made it comparatively calmer and more settled than the beginning of 2015, 2016 is in no way going to be like any year we have experienced yet.

With the exciting expectation of Baby Boy always on our minds, Eugene and I have moved to a much more family (and baby) friendly condo called D’ambience. Our new apartment is on the 14th floor and has a lovely view of both JB and Singapore. While still a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment, it has a lot more furniture, an extra air con unit (A MUST), clear TV reception (yahoo) and my personal favourite…a BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN!

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Our View

Since the move, I have found myself wanting to be at home even more. We have both been utilising our kitchen and I have been very much enjoying the delicacies Eugene has been cooking for dinner! As we have been progressively buying, I have slowly been doing up our single room into the nursery and promise a photo when it is done completely. The other room is currently being occupied by our fantastic friend and now temporary housemate Deb who we are REALLY enjoying having to stay.

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Our Lounge

We are beginning to explore the shared facilities. Now that the haze is gone and it is safe for me to be outside again I am loving using the pool (as swimming is really the only exercise I am currently able to do competently). Eugene has checked out the gym and is very excited to try out the badminton courts. There is also a basketball court, BBQ area, reading areas and a Sauna for us to use if we wish.

Now that Air Asia is flying SUPER CHEAP between NZ and Malaysia, I can’t wait for you all to come and stay (hehehe)!

As Always,

Love and Blessings

Lorna

2015: What a Year!

I am sitting on my brothers couch in New Zealand on a beautiful Hamilton Day, preparing myself for the 10 hour flight we are about to embark on back to Malaysia. Yes, I am filled with various thoughts and emotions (not all pregnancy induced) but the two I’m wrestling  with are sadness and hopeful expectation. Sadness for leaving my family, home and friends once again (much harder this time I must admit) but yet beginning to hold so much hopeful expectation for 2016! So for my last post of the year I though I would focus on thankfulness and excitement!

10 Things in 2015 I am Thankful for:

  • God and his guidance! 2015 and all the change that occurred would have been VERY difficult with out him  and his constant, unchanging guiding presence in my life!
  • My Husband, who for this whole year has supported me through job changes, stage of life changes, hormonal changes…. I am blessed to be his wife, each day he challenges me to be better and I am thankful.
  • My Family, supporting me from a very different culture in NZ. Although maybe not always understanding exactly what or why we do the things we are doing, loving me anyway.
  • BABY BOY! Pregnancy has definitely been a new exciting adventure and I am thankful for the blessing of carrying a child in a time when many are not able to.
  • Malaysia! For opening my eyes to difference, hospitality and really great food.
  • Appointed Church, our Pastors and church family. For welcoming us and allowing us to become apart of the life of the church.
  • Working in 2 very different schools and experiencing teaching students of all different ages.  Also having the opportunity to teach both IGCSE and the IB program.
  • My new friends, whether they are from life group, wider church, work or just through other means, it has made our year so much more enjoyable.
  • Travelling. This year we have been able to see so much more of the world, an opportunity that we wouldn’t have been able to do previously.
  • Having a swimming pool at our condo! (I know this one is a little silly) but I LOVE that we have a pool and that I can swim anytime I want.

10 Things in 2016 I am Excited for:

  • Becoming a mum! This is definitely top of my list. I may be nervous as heck, (what new mum is right) but I know with God and the support of our family and friends we will be AMAZING parents.
  • How God will grow us and shape us this year as we walk into a new season.
  • Having my Mum in Malaysia. Mum is coming in April CAN’T WAIT.
  • Seeing Appointed grow as the church continues to influence Johor Bahru.
  • Moving into our new condo and being more settled in Malaysia.
  • Having a really nice kitchen and HUGE fridge allowing me (and Eugene) to experiment more in the kitchen MMMmm.
  • Travel! Maybe not as much or as budget but I am sure we will still fit in a few trips this year.
  • Developing my Teaching Practise, especially with teaching the younger students. Although 4-5 year olds may not be my preferred teaching age I do LOVE my students and am looking forward to completing this school year with them.
  • Seeing what new developments happen in JB, whether it be restaurants, shops, cafes or Ikea…Haha!
  • Establishing even deeper relationships with new and old friends! God brought so many people into our life in 2015 I can’t wait to see who he brings into our life in 2016.

I hope that in some way 2015 has been an amazing adventure for you also.

As always, love and blessings.

Lorna

Time Flies: Highlights of the Last Three Months

Blink. We arrived. Blink. New job. Blink. Appointed Church. Blink. Leave job. Blink. We’re Pregnant. Blink. New job. Blink. 11 Months.

Here we are, the end of November, 11 months after we set foot in Malaysia and I honestly can’t believe how fast it has all gone and how much has changed. This time in 3 weeks we will be at the airport ready to fly back to New Zealand, not for good yet but for some good quality family time. But before I get too reflective, I thought I would let you all know some of the non-baby related highlights we have experienced over the past 3 Months.

My New Job

Many of you know that in August I began a new teaching job at Excelsior International school. Although finding out I would be teaching our schools version of ‘New Entrance’ (4-5 year olds) was a shock, I was up for the challenge. I have really enjoyed having my own classroom again and having a large community of Expats to relate too. I have definitely had to upskill myself with teaching things such as phonics and get use to saying things several times, ‘Did you wash your hands’, ‘Look at your feet, do your shoes feel comfortable?’. Many people have suggested that my foray into early primary is allowing me practise of what is to come… But I have found delight in the eagerness this age group shows in ALL areas of learning, the beautiful art creations I am gifted with almost daily and the inquisitive nature that leads to questions such as ‘ Ms Lorna, did you paint your eyes blue’?

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Taiwan

We have been blessed with the amount of travel we have been able to do this year. I am not going to say much about our trip as Hubby has promised to do a post about our journey. All I will say is that we fell in love with Taiwan! The food, the people, the PANDA’S!! I even got my own sticker for the MRT so that people would know I was pregnant (which meant seats on the train and priority in the public toilets)! I could and would definitely go back!

Church

I love our church! It is difficult at times being away from your family and friends and this has only intensified with the raging wave of pregnancy hormones driving through my body at the moment. But the longer we have been here, the more Appointed has become our home. Our life group is amazing and I am loving the deepending friendships we are making. I am blown away at how we are growing, I am a very proud wife each time Eugene takes the stage whether he is worship leading (which he does incredibly well might I add), taking the offering or even preaching! I myself am getting challenged every service and am finding joy in the smallest of things. I myself even had the opportunity to preach (which was very nerve racking but very rewarding).

I still have a very bust three weeks before we leave for NZ, reports, an online course and christmas shopping to name a few things but this is life right!!

As always love and blessings,

Lorna