Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The old and the new

There’s just something about coming back home that I find so reviving. Just breathing in the air and seeing familiar old places brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood.

We are having a great time with family here… eating, playing, talking and more eating.

As the year draws to a close, I thought about all the amazing things that have happened including…

…My second pregnancy journey, surviving a rough first trimester, our major down-syndrome scare and the restless wait for baby to pop.

…Wondering how I could love another child as much as I loved my first one, but having my fears all dissipated immediately at Nathan’s and Grace’s first meeting, and now completely embracing this wildness and sweetness with two little wilds.

…Being surprised over how equally tough the post-partum period is second time round, going into survival mode over sleep-deprivation, but then learning how to edit such moments to keep the good ones.

…Also bravely taking the big plunge with a new pixie cut.

…Receiving the sweetest kiss ever.

…Discovering an impossible recipe for an egg-less, butter-less, milk-free Crazy Cake.

…Coming up with an awesome new creation called The Ultimate Bib.

…And embarking on a crazy new venture to start my own family day care.

Earlier this week on one quiet afternoon while the children were napping, I started flipping through some old photos. I smiled over some poignant moments captured and chuckled over snapshots of some of the funny poses we pulled.

I also thought about all the awesome new connections I have made this year in the blogging community through incredible blogging link-up parties hosted by Essentially Jess and The Multitasking Mummy, Wordless Wednesdays with Sakura Haruka, My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle in The Eye, and all the lovely folks at the Singapore Mom Bloggers network.

(I used to hold back from link-up parties as I thought that such parties were all for bloggers who had already formed their own cliques and networks. I imagined that a new person walking into the room would just end up as a wallflower with no one coming up to chat to me the whole night. So I was amazed at the welcome, warmth, friendliness and openness that I received at these parties).

And this thought came to my mind… “Friends: Old and New”.

I am grateful for old friends and loved ones who have set the colours of the underlying fabric of my life, and also for new friends who have added to the colour and pattern of this tapestry.

“We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young”

So here’s to the friends of auld lang syne and also looking forward to more new memories to be made with friends, both old and new.

P.S. My favourite new year poem and thoughts on the meaning of “auld lang syne”.

 

Linking up to the IBOT party at Essentially Jess

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have a Merry Christmas

So this year, we are escaping the scorching summer heat in Australia and spending it with my folks in the cool breezes of Sabah.

I travelled with the two kids on my own on a five-hour flight from Perth to Kota Kinabalu. It was quite an adventure and I learnt some things along the way. But I’ll save that story for another time.

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Hope you are having fun knee-deep in your Christmas festivities and preparations for the holidays. Here are some fun links which I’ve found to set the holiday mood…

Pentatonix’s rendition of Little Drummer Boy absolutely took my breath away

A very funny and accurate 10-month old’s letter to Santa

Love this cool paper city nativity scene printable

And this cute infographic: If Children Ran Christmas

If Children Ran Christmas

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Linking up to Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

{I am an avid collector and curator of all sorts of linky treasures, I aim to share a few little treasures here every month}

P.S. I’ll be taking a break next week as we will be knee deep in family gatherings, food and festivities. So have a wonderful Christmas everyone and a great start to 2014!

How do you know it’s time for a new refrigerator?

{Sponsored Post}

With Christmas season just around the corner, I’m sure we’re all getting geared up for all the merry-making and festivities.

As you know this year, we’re spending Christmas at my parents house. I love being back home, I feel like a little girl again enjoying my mum’s home cooking and raiding her fridge for goodies any time of the day.

Some time ago, my parents had given away our old 16 year old family fridge. They now have this sleek and shiny LG fridge sitting prettily in their kitchen housing all their yummy eats.

Having a drink in Grandma’s kitchen

I asked my mum about the old fridge and how it was doing with its new owners. Apparently it’s still in pretty good condition and chugging happily away. Apart from replacing the rubber seal around the door, they haven’t had any major issues with it. So investing in a good quality fridge to begin with does make a difference.

The average life expectancy of a standard fridge is said to be around fourteen to seventeen years, but it can also start fritzing long before its untimely death. Ignoring the problems can cost you hundreds of dollars in spoilt food and beverages as well as a full weekend cleaning up this smelly mess. Here are the tell-tale signs that it’s time to replace your fridge…

It Makes Weird Noises
Besides keeping you up at night, the loud sounds emitting for your fridge could be a sign that reach-in compressor is working overtime. Watch out for loud rattling noises as there have been many cases where refrigerators have combusted because they were left for too long.

Your Food Doesn’t Last
Is that tub of yoghurt you bought yesterday is already starting to look like cottage cheese? Food that tends to spoil, or fails to cool signifies that the fridge is struggling to maintain its core temperature. Many issues that can attribute to this including coolant leaks, broken compressor fans and a faulty internal thermometer.

You Have to Defrost the Freezer Compartment Manually
Most freezers have the ability to automatically defrost themselves, but if the ice built up in your box is taking up more space that the food you have to fit in it, it’s a good indicator that you need to replace your fridge. Considering that refrigerator technologies have advanced significantly since the days that it was necessary to manually defrost your freezer, if you are still doing this – my friend, you and the fridge are working way too hard. Save your sanity and get a new LG refrigerator already. 

The Motor is Running All the Time
Refrigerators units all have an on-off timer built in that allows the motor to run at the bare minimum to maintain the inside temperature. Obviously, it’s going to work a little harder when you open and close the fridge, but if you hear it churning away when you’re not even close to it, or you suspect that it’s running more than normal, it’s time to start flipping through the department store catalogue. 

{This is a sponsored post for LG Australia}

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift idea: DIY Christmas Dinner Kit

This year, we are spending Christmas with my folks back in Malaysia. My mum always makes Christmas dinner really special with all the traditional works and trimmings.

I love the family time we can share over my mum’s delicious home-cooked food at the dinner table.

All afternoon on Christmas Eve, my mum would be happily bustling away in the kitchen, stirring, stewing, baking, roasting. I’m sure she loves having the people she loves most around to cook for,

But this year I thought to give her a little extra help so she would be freed up to spend a little more time with her grandkids.

So I put together this little Christmas Dinner Kit for her...

I bought a cook-in-a-bag roast chicken kit, a packet of gravy and finishing sauce for the vegies.

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Packed it in a box with some pretty wrapping to add a little festive air. I also made a simple label for the kit...

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Hopefully with the help of this kit, we would be able to round up a really special Christmas dinner for the whole family in a cinch!

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT party
and Eva’s Mummy Mondays

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blue ocean water play

There is something about water play that kids find very soothing. Virtually any kind of play related to water can keep Nathan completely occupied for a good 30-40 minutes all by himself.

Inspired by the ocean animal play at my Family Day Care network’s headquarters, I decided to mix things up a bit with our own home water play.

Just a couple of drops of blue food colouring can turn ordinary water into an ‘ocean’.

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The animals all had a gala time having a swim in our cool blue ‘ocean’ on this hot summer day.

And I overheard this conversation between Mr Lion and Mr Elephant…

Lion: Raaaaaaahhhh!!!! I’m gonna eat you, Elephant! nom nom nom.
Elephant: Aaaaaargh… Ouchie!
Lion: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?
Elephant: That’s okay. But now I’m gonna eat YOU, Lion! Raaaaaahhhh!!!

I love watching Nathan get engrossed in his play, fully immersed in his own imaginative world.

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Posting this video for the benefit of Nathan’s grandma and grandpa, who are living overseas and don’t get the chance to see him as often. A glimpse into that funny imagination of his…

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Linking up to Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pirates ahoy!

So this week is Nathan’s final week at his family day care before we go on our Christmas break and I officially start my family day care next year.

I decided a nice way to round things off was to have an early 3rd birthday celebration for him with his friends there.

We’ve been reading about pirates. So I settled on having a simple pirate theme for his birthday.

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Here are the basic pirate theme props I pulled together:

Pirate eye patches – I cut the patches out from black felt, punched holes in the two corners and strung a piece of elastic through the holes.

A pirate story book – one of Nathan’s current favourites that we’ve been reading.

A treasure map – from a ready-made printable card I found; I drew on a simple trail and clue leading to the treasure.

Gold treasure – chocolate coins wrapped tied up in a black satin pouch.

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I baked a crazy cake and decorated it with a pirate theme cake topper kit (from Woolworths), hundreds & thousands, and chocolate gold doubloons.

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The little celebration we had was really simple:

I sat down with the children and we read the pirate story book together.

(Meanwhile, while the kids were listening to the story, Nathan’s carer tiptoed away to hide the bag of chocolate coins for the treasure hunt).

After the story, I handed out the eye patches for everyone to dress up like pirates. Nathan being the birthday boy had a special pirate captain hat.

After that we went hunting for treasure.

And then we all sat down and had cake.

As simple as that!


Total amount spent on this little pirate party:

$ 5.00 : Pirate cake topper kit
$ 2.00 : Chocolate gold coins
$ 1.50 : Black felt for pirate eye patches
$ 1.50 : Elastic for eye patches
$   -  : Pirate story book (from library)
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$10.00 : Total cost of supplies


Here’s a final parting shot of Captain Nathan the Pirate!

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Linking up to Jess’s IBOT party
and Eva’s Mummy Mondays

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Nine years

Where we were nine years ago…

And where we are now nine years later…

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A marriage motto:
We are a work in progress
with a lifetime contract

{Phyllis Koss}

We’re still a work in progress, but happy to be working alongside you…

Happy Anniversary, honey!

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Linking up to Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

 

P.S. On how we first met. A smashing love poem. And is it okay to go to bed angry?

Transitioning your toddler to a bed

{Sponsored Link}

After Nathan turned two at the beginning of the year, we started talking about transitioning him out of his cot to a toddler bed. And as we were expecting baby #2 to arrive later in the year, we also had to start thinking about getting the baby’s nursery and bedding ready as well.

I was a little hesitant about launching into the whole process at first. All sorts of questions jumped into my mind: Was Nathan too young? What if he felt he was being sidelined to make room for baby? Would his solid night time sleep pattern be disrupted by the change?

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I read through tons of articles and forums for all the best tips and advice, I planned the sequence of how we would make the change, I talked up the whole thing excitedly to Nathan whenever I could and finally we took the plunge.

And you know what? The whole experience turned out surprisingly smooth and happy for everyone.

I don’t claim to be an expert on toddler bed transitions. But I can share how we did it and what worked for us. Is you’re going through a similar stage with your toddler, perhaps you might find a few of these points helpful.

Our five steps for transitioning our toddler to a bed

Step 1: Talk it up
As we were gearing up for the move, we talked about the big bed move with Nathan whenever we could. If we were walking through the beds section at the shops, we would point it out to him and tell him that next time he could sleep in a big bed like that. If I was reading a book to him which had a picture of a bed, I would talk about how fun it was to sleep in a big bed. And so the big bed move became a big thing he was really excited about and looked forward to.

Step 2: Let him ‘pick’ the bed
Next, when went to shop for his bed, we let Nathan check out the various beds on display and ‘choose’ a bed for himself. Of course we kind of steered his selections a little. But the main thing was to let him be involved in the whole process. We let him test out the different beds and lie down on each of them. He had soooo much fun pretending to go to sleep in each bed.

Step 3: Get him involved in the set up
Once we arrived home, we unpacked the box together and let him ‘help’ daddy assemble the bed. Hubby gave him a spare Allen key for him to help ‘tighten’ the screws. He took the job very seriously as you can see.

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He also helped me to put on the bedding sheets, pillowcases and blankets. And after that he was so excited he could hardly wait to jump in for his first ‘sleep’.

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Step 4: Don’t forget his favourite loveys
Also, very importantly, I remembered to tuck his favourite cuddly friends in bed with him. I also held off washing his blanket and pillowcase that first night so he would have some familiar smell with him when he slept.

Step 5: Allow some space before setting up the nursery
One other key thing we did NOT do was to assemble his cot straightaway in the new baby’s nursery. We didn’t want him associating ‘losing’ his cot to the baby. So we allowed a decent interval before reassembling the cot. We made the nursery set up a separate chapter on it’s own without any association with his big bed move.

If you happen to be looking around for beds for your children, you can check out bunkers.com.au for their selection of bunk beds and clever space-saving bedroom furniture.

 

{All the contents of this post have been written personally by me
and includes a sponsored link for Bunkers bunk bed specialist}

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

5 surprising things about starting a family day care

So things have been chugging along busily in the Family Day Care department…

  • I met with Jan, the educator support coordinator for an initial home visit.
  • I also had an informal interview with another educator support officer, which was essentially a get-to-know-you session to find out more about my background and values.

Other initial formalities I’ve been going through include…

  • An orientation session;
  • Business and administration training;
  • Visiting one of the play sessions at the Family Day Care centre; and
  • A home visit to an experienced family day care to observe and learn

Nathan had an absolute blast at the play session (we were encouraged to bring our own children to the session). His favourite corner was the ocean water play with miniature marine creatures where he spent a good half an hour there splashing around.

Marine ocean water play at our Family Day Care network's centre

Here are five surprising things I’ve discovered so far about setting up a family day care…

#1- The cost of toys and equipment can be relatively low. Most families have sufficient toys they can reuse and many family day care networks encourage use of recycled material or simple DIY play options: A basket of old scarves and clothes for dress-up play, A small table with some plastic bowls and pans for a play-kitchen, homemade modelling clay and even handcrafted shakers for music time.

#2- One of the most expensive investments in setting up a family day care is actually windows! For safety reasons, all family day cares need to have shatter-proof safety glass installed in all windows of rooms being used for the children’s activities. It costs around $200-$300 per window to upgrade the glass to the minimum safety standard and can add up to $1,000-$2,000 in total depending on how many windows need to be upgraded.

#3- Each family day care educator can care for up to seven children in total; four children under school age and an additional three school age children outside of school hours, including their own.

#4- A family day care educator is really no short of an early childhood education professional. Starting in 2014, all family day care educators will be required to hold or be actively working towards at least a Certificate III in Children’s Services.

#5- There are currently only about 18,000 family day care educators in Australia looking after over 125,000 children across the country (figures based on DEEWR Sept 2012 update and FDCA membership). Not as many as I thought there would be, and demand for family day care far exceeds the current number of educators.

 

Linking up to Mummy Mondays
and I Blog On Tuesday

This is an exciting new venture I am embarking on to set up my own family day care. Throughout this journey, I will be sharing about this project on my blog, what I’m learning, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces. Through this, I hope to connect with other fellow day care educators and also provide a little more awareness and insight for parents  on the set up and running of a family day care. You can follow along my updates under the family day care tag