Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Little Chomper

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It’s hard to believe, but I just realised that we are now over half way through Grace’s first year. She officially turned 6 months a couple of weeks ago and is developing so fast that I’m barely able to keep up with her updates here.

Since the last update I posted, she has really been stretching herself all over the floor. Not only rolling and flipping, but pivoting and even lunging and creeping forward to reach for objects. Yes, the crawling has begun. And boy can she move.

She is constantly on the prowl, reaching out and grabbing everything she can get her hands on.

Hair, glasses, her fingers, our fingers, her toys, her brother’s toys, scraps of paper, scraps of anything really… nothing is safe within her reach.

Whatever she gets her hands on, the first stop it makes is straight to her mouth.

And then she chomps on it. Hard.

She really is such a voracious chomper.

I know all babies generally like to mouth or suck on objects. But I am convinced that Grace’s chomping action is on a whole other level.

Watching her chomp on a toy is like watching a tiger handling it’s prey on the discovery channel.

First she grabs a toy or object, brings it to her mouth, then chomps down on it hard and ferociously shakes it from side to side with her gums. Once she’s done with it, she flings it’s poor mangled carcass aside and proceeds to pounce on her next victim.

Sometimes while nursing her, she can chomp down on me too. Very hard. Very ouch.

I can’t imagine how things will be once her teeth come in. *Shudder*

 

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The smell of fireworks – Australia Day 2014

Happy Tuesday peeps! How was your Australia Day long weekend?

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Proud to be Australian!

We had a busy and fun weekend, then we kicked back for a chill Monday, just lazing around at home, sleeping in and recovering from all the Australia Day excitement.

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City of Perth Australia Day Celebrations

On Sunday we headed into the city to watch the Perth Skyworks fireworks show. There was a big carnival atmosphere in Langley Park by the river front, with street food vendors, entertainment, games and bouncy castles for the kids.

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Because it’s summer

We found a picnic spot, laid out our picnic mat, kicked back with some food and snacks and just soaked up the sunshine and revelry all around us.

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Enjoying our Australia Day in classic picnic style

Nathan really enjoyed watching the air show of airplanes, sky writers, fighter jets, helicopters and skydivers.

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Watching the Perth Australia Day Air Show

But he was absolutely blown away by the big highlight of the night. This was the very first time in his life he saw fireworks… he was completely captivated by the bright, dazzling, sparkling fire lighting up the night sky.

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Completely captivated by the fireworks display

Each firework display kept getting bigger and more beautiful than the previous one, I was tempted to keep snapping away on my camera.

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Happy Australia Day!

But then I realised that the beauty of fireworks can never be fully captured on camera. A camera can’t capture the second when the whole sky suddenly lights up with each burst of flare; it cannot capture the smell of fire and smoke in the air; nor can it capture the cheers of the crowd and the vibe and excitement all around.

So after a snapping a few shots, I put down the camera and just looked, and smelled, and just simply ‘be’ in the moment.

Do you like the smell of fireworks? How did you spend your Australia Day this year?

 

Linking up to Jess @ IBOT

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our eating holiday in Sabah

So during our trip back to Sabah over the Christmas holidays, apart from all the playing, the other major activity on our agenda was simply: EAT.

Pretty much every day, my folks were stuffing generous helpings of love in the form of food into us. Though my mum and dad have different versions of this: mum cooked all manner of yummy eats and treats in her kitchen for us, while dad took us to all his favourite food haunts around town.

There are simply too many to specify them all. But here are some of the main food related highlights from our trip…

Tuaran noodles ~ These local specialty egg noodles are freshly made and stir fried to piping hot perfection. This is my hubby’s absolute number one favourite food in my hometown.

Tuaran mien (“Tuaran” noodles)

Fish-paste ball noodles ~ The fish paste is freshly made, rolled into balls, poached and served in a steaming hot fish broth. I love eating these with some tasty noodles on the side.

Yee wat mien (fish-paste ball noodles)

Sabah ‘dry’ noodles ~ The owner of this local coffee shop used to be a chef at a top local beach resort. I just love the roast pork with the crispy crackling skin and the soft silky noodles.

Kon lou mien (Sabah style ‘dry’ noodles)
Teh tarik ~ Literally translated as “pulled tea” and in my opinion is the best way in the world to mix tea – the light and frothy texture as a result of the signature ‘pulling’ technique is impossible to derive any other way. I find it best enjoyed with a few slices of toast generously slathered with kaya – a creamy caramel-like coconut-egg jam.
Teh tarik (“pulled” tea) and kaya (coconut jam) toast

Roti canai ~ The crispy and buttery texture of this Indian flatbread is one of my greatest food pleasures whenever I’m back in Malaysia. This one of Nathan’s favourite Malaysian foods as well. I believe the secret to the bread’s crispy texture lies in the way they flip and toss the dough.

Roti canai (crispy Indian flatbread)

One of the big highlight dinners we had was at Kampung Nelayan or ‘Fisherman Village’ restaurant. They had rows of tanks filled with fish, crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels, prawns and all manner live sea creatures for patrons to choose from.

Selection of live seafood to choose from

Then they would ‘catch’ your selection on the spot, cook it up and serve it any way you like. It doesn’t get any fresher than this, unless you catch your own fish straight from the ocean itself.

From the fish tank, to the kitchen, to the table

Sabah is well known for it’s seafood and there are many restaurants like this which have a ‘live’ menu display. We opted for Kampung Nelayan restaurant (even though it was on the pricier end) so we could enjoy their cultural performance of various traditional local dances.

Dinner and a show

Mum showered us with love in the form of her home-cooked food – often way better than going to a restaurant to eat.

Mum cooking a batch of her yummy butter prawns

We also let Nathan try drinking coconut water straight out of the fruit itself. I have awesome memories drinking coconut water like this at one of the many street vendors by Tanjung Aru beach.

Drinking coconut water straight from the source

No matter how far I roam, there’s no food that tastes as good as the food of my home. Despite the many flaws of the country of my birth, yet I always find myself following my nose and tastebuds back home once again…

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”
–Lin Yutang

 
What are some of your favourite foods from your home or childhood?
 
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All photos taken from my Instagram. You can follow my daily snaps under @livingserenely

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

 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stepping into three

So on Christmas Day 2013, Nathan officially turned three years old.

We celebrated with a big cake together with my whole extended family back in my hometown in Sabah (although he did have another special party with his friends at day care a few weeks earlier).

Celebrating Christmas Day and Nathan’s Birthday with our extended family in Sabah

He is still adjusting to the fact that he is three. Whenever someone asks him “How old are you?” he often still says two instead of three. But I’m sure he’ll catch up soon enough.

Nathan is most definitely growing well into his boyhood and is into many of the typical things that appeal to boys, like cars, trucks, tractors, Lego, action figures such as Superman and Spiderman (which is a mystery as we have never let him watch any such shows before), and getting himself into precarious acrobatic stunts on the couch.

But one thing which I think is really special in him which I treasure, is his vivid imagination. He is an incredible conversationalist for his age and enjoys telling stories.

I get glimpses into that quirky imagination of his every now and then, like these…

[One afternoon at naptime, after I finished reading him a story…]
Nathan: Can I have another story?
Me: No more stories for now. I will tell you another one later.
Nathan: Then I will tell YOU a story!
Me: (I was intrigued) Okay.
Nathan: Once upon a time, there was a king. The king wanted a new computer. So he went out to the shops to get it. But then suddenly he wanted to do a poo! So he went to the toilet and did a big poo. And then he washed his hands. And after that he lie down on the bed and go to sleep. Theeeee END!!!

[At bedtime…]
Nathan: Mummy, tonight I will tell you another story.
Me: Okay, I am listening.
Nathan: Once upon a time, there was a little girl called mummy. She went to sleep and when she woke up in the morning, she was not a little girl anymore. She was a mummy! Then everybody lived happily every after all together in po-po and gung-gung's (grandma and grandpa’s) house. Theeee End!

[One afternoon Nathan came up to me and stuck the end of my laptop charger in my belly button and went bzzzzzzz…]
Me: What are you doing, Nathan?
Nathan: I'm pumping a tyre.

[One ordinary afternoon at home…]
Me: Nathan… where are you, can you come here please?
Nathan: I'm not Nathan. I'm SUPERMAN!!!
Me: Ok, Superman, please report to mummy.
Nathan: You are not mummy, you are MUMMY-SUPERMAN!!!

[One evening at bedtime as he was changing into his PJs, out of the blue he threw me this with the biggest grin on his cheeky face…]
Nathan: Mummy, are you a girl?
Me: Uh, yes.
Nathan: OK! (spoken with barely contained giggles) *kiss* Goodnight!
[I still have no idea where that came from and what it was about]

And in the midst of all his cheekiness and quirkiness, he has the most charming and delightful little nature and gives me many moments of unprompted sweetness like these…

One morning after breakfast while I was washing the dishes, Nathan came up to me completely unprompted to tell me: “Mummy, thank you for cooking the pancakes for me for breakfast. It was delicious!

And one afternoon in the middle of a very long and tiring day, I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes for a moment to rest. I had finally managed to get Grace down for a nap after some struggling and Nathan was playing by himself in the living room. Out of the blue, I felt a pair of little limbs clambering up on my lap. Two hands clasped me on both cheeks. A cheeky face peered right at me and the dearest little voice whispered “I love you, mummy”.

These are the moments I live for.

Happy birthday, Nathan. I just want to say it one more time before you step further into ‘three’.

A ‘deja vu’ moment with this snapshot looking back on a similar one taken two years ago

What memorable or funny conversation did you share with your child recently?

P.S. Nathan at two years old and young boys should never be sent to bed.

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Photos of our Christmas holiday in Sabah

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, we spent the time back in my hometown in Sabah, Malaysia. We had a really idyllic and relaxing break just spending some quality time with close family. The cool rainy monsoon season was also a nice refreshing change from the burning summer heat in Perth.

The children had a wonderful time just playing in the spacious compound,

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Hanging out with grandpa and grandma,

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And enjoying their Christmas presents.

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The boys played in the rain,

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We hung out at the beach,

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Although Grace could only be a spectator for now,

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And we let the kids stay up late to watch the musical fountain at Perdana Park.

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We visited the local zoo…

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Nathan had a great time spotting elephants, monkeys, orang utans…

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And of course tigers –his Chinese zodiac sign

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And Grace reached some major milestones during this trip…

She started learning how to pivot, lunge and inch forward to reach for objects,

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She can sit up on her own unassisted (for a few seconds at a time),

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And we started her on solids for the first time,

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My mum has been enjoying herself tremendously watching Grace gobble up her pumpkin, sweet potato, papaya, watermelon and all sorts of yummy fruits and vegies.

Hubby’s parents also flew over from KL to spend Christmas with us. So the kids had double the attention and spoiling from both sets of grandparents

The two grandpas…

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All four doting grandparents…

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The other major highlight we enjoyed was the FOOD. Nothing beats Malaysian food. Especially the local dishes in my home state, Sabah (IMHO). But I’ll save that for another post as there are too many to share in one go.

We had a really wonderful time just chilling out and spending time with family. But it’s also really, really great to be back home in Australia.

Hope you all had a terrific start to the new year!

****

Linking up to:
Little Drummer Boys
Twinkle in the Eye

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why I decided to start my own family day care

[So after yesterday’s post on the registration process for setting up a family day care, I thought I’d also share on the how and why I came to the decision to embark on this venture…]

Since the arrival of my first baby, I discovered that my priorities in relation to work and career had changed dramatically. I wanted to be around my children as much as possible and be the main person looking after them and caring for their needs.image

After my maternity leave ended, I went back to work on a part time basis. It was a great arrangement that allowed me to balance my time between career and motherhood. However in the long term, I knew it would be difficult to progress forward professionally working on a part-time basis.

So I started thinking about what I really wanted and the direction I truly wanted to head toward.

What I really wanted was to BE in my children’s life. I wanted to be the primary person guiding their learning and helping to shape their values and character, especially in their early formative years.

Somehow it didn’t sit right with me that if I went back to work full time, they would be looked after by someone else, while I worked at the office all day.

I’m aware that many people may not have a choice in this area.

But what if I had a choice?

What would I choose?

I would choose to be my children’s first and primary teacher.

I would choose to be around them as much as I can.

I would choose not to miss witnessing them play and learn every day.

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So I started thinking seriously about my options for being able to stay at home with my children, especially from a financial perspective.

The idea for starting a family day care came about when my son first started going to a family day care in our neighbourhood.

One evening as I was unpacking Nathan’s day care bag and flipping through the day’s notes from our carer. I started thinking about how much I loved the family day care he goes to and how terrific his carer is.

I admired the fact that our educator was able to be at home with her own kids and also have her own little business running her own a family day care.

Then I had an epiphany. Family day care. This seemed like something I could do.

Of course there were a lot of pros and cons to consider. But once I started thinking about it, I knew this was something I wanted to do.

So here I am now.

Right now, I am just at the early stages of this journey. I’ve just recently completed my registration process and am now putting various finishing touches to our home set up, ready to receive my first client.

With my feet on this new path, I am looking ahead in anticipation of the exciting new things to come.

Linking up to Jess @ IBOT

 

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, the application process, what I’ll be learning from the training courses, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces. Through this, I hope to support and connect with other fellow day care educators and also perhaps provide a little more awareness and insight for parents (and parents-to-be) on the set up and running of a family day care. You can follow along my updates on my blog under the family day care tag.

Monday, January 13, 2014

How to set up a family day care in Australia: The registration process

So for the past couple of months, I’ve been swimming in a sea of paperwork and administration.

It seems a major factor that will enable you to qualify setting up a family day care is the ability to stay afloat in the ocean of forms, assessments, policies, guidelines, and lots and lots of reading.

I feel like I’m back at university all over again.

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The road to setting up a family day care is truly not for the faint-hearted.

Thankfully, experience has allowed me to gain the uncanny ability to sieve through the bureaucratic jargon and terminology to extract the key essentials. Plus the support team at my local Family Day Care network have been awesome at guiding me and helping me navigate through the whole process to get me registered.

If you are considering the possibility of setting up your own family day care or just would like a glimpse into the process behind the set up of a family day care, here is an outline of the administrative process I had to go through to get registered…

The four stages in getting registered as a family day care educator

Stage 1: Application

  • Initial interview and environment check – Following an initial phone and email enquiry, an educator support officer organised to come out and see me at my home for a introductory chat to kick things off and to do a thorough walk-through the house to note down any key changes that will need to be made.
  • Application and assessment forms – I then needed to fill out and return two forms to get the formal process for getting registered in place:
    1) An Application Form, which is a pretty standard document to capture my personal particulars and register my intention to set up a family day care; and…
    2) A Self-Assessment Form, this was a more comprehensive set of questions to gauge my understanding and commitment level to setting up a family day care. The questions they asked include: How would you go about making parents feel confident to enrol their children in your family day care? How would you set up a stimulating environment for children in your home? If your children become jealous how will you help them to handle their feelings?
  • Second Interview – This was a more in-depth sit down session with one of the educator support officers for them to get to know me further, get an understanding of my background and values to essentially assess what kind of person I am on personal level. It was a fairly relaxed session, over coffee in my house while the children were napping.
  • References – I also needed to provide one referee who has observed me with children.

Stage 2: Training

  • Orientation – After the initial application process, I attended the orientation session organised by the service. It is quite an intensive session covering things like government regulations and policies, child protection issues, and setting up a play & learning programme for children.
  • Business Workshop – This is another intensive session to cover off all the administrative matters in managing the family day care business, including enrolment procedures, attendance records, fee schedules, parental consent forms, incident report forms etc.
  • Health, Hygiene and Nutrition Training – This is a self-paced learning package where I had to read up on some polices, then complete an assessment test. Most of it was common-sense stuff, about maintaining cleanliness, proper food handling and what healthy foods to prepare for children.
  • Play Session – I was invited to attend one of the play sessions organised by the family day care service to observe the types of activities and environments they have set up for children. This was a fun session as we were encouraged to bring our own kids to the session and Nathan had a blast with the wide range of toys and activities there.
  • Family Day Care Home Visit – I was given a contact for a fellow family day care educator in my area to visit so I could observe how she runs her family day care and get some practical ideas to apply in my own home.
  • National Education and Care Regulations – I also had to read up on the relevant government regulations and complete a competency assessment to show that I was across the key regulations related to education programmes & practices and children’s health & safety requirements.

Stage 3: ‘Fit and Proper’ Checklist
Next I had to go through a whole checklist of things to tick off and have in place to ensure I was ‘fit and proper’ to run a family day care.

  • Police Clearance Certificate
  • Working With Children Screening
  • First Aid Training
  • Food Safety Training (a council requirement for running a business where I am required to prepare and handle food for others)
  • Food Business Registration (formal registration with the council as a business where I will be preparing and handling food)
  • Public Liability Insurance (necessary to have in place once I start having other children under my care)

Stage 4: Final Check
And finally, the educator support officer came to do a last run through of my home to ensure I’m all good to go, checking that:

  • I had sufficient toys and play equipment for the children
  • Windows in areas accessible to children have safety glass installed
  • All cleaning and poisonous substances are kept away
  • Knifes and sharp objects are inaccessible to children
  • I have a first aid kit, kept securely away out of reach from children
  • Childproof handles/locks are placed on cupboards and doors inaccessible to children
  • Childproof handle is installed on hot water tap in the sink used by children
  • Any potentially dangerous plants have a protective barrier in place (we had chilli plants which we protected with chicken wire)
  • There is a sandpit with sufficient shade over it (ours is currently a work-in-progress, but the officer was alright seeing that we had started working on it)

(Other areas that would need to be checked but were not relevant in our home include the swimming pool, animals and pets, and the shed or workshop)

And with all that, I am finally good to go!

This is probably all boring stuff to most folks out there, but hopefully someone out there who is looking into the possibility if setting up their own family day care might find this helpful.

Now comes the nerve-wrecking part, waiting for my first client. Fingers crossed that I do not have to wait too long and that I will get someone with a good fit.

 

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, the application process, what I’ll be learning from the training courses, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces. Through this, I hope to support and connect with other fellow day care educators and also perhaps provide a little more awareness and insight for parents (and parents-to-be) on the set up and running of a family day care. You can follow along my updates on my blog under the family day care tag.

(Note: This information is based on my personal experience in setting up a family day care in my local council in Western Australia. Specific requirements and procedures may vary in different councils and states so please check with your own local Family Day Care Service for more details)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A belated Christmas pressie

So I received a really nice surprise when we returned back from our holiday in Malaysia. We found a delivery note waiting for a mega toy pack prize which I recently won. I immediately called the delivery company to organise for the package to be dropped off again.

The jumbo pack arrived at our doorstep today! I was so excited to open it up. Nathan and I dove straight into it… couldn’t wait for hubby to get home. It was hard to tell who was the bigger kid –Nathan or his mum.

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Sending out a big shout out to Mouth of Mums for organising this competition and Chalk Educated Toys for sponsoring this awesome toy pack.

Here are some of our favourites in the prize pack…

  • Eurotrike twist and roll scooter
  • VTech baby walker
  • Thinkfun Zingo!© game
  • Vertical bubble generator
  • Numbers wooden peg puzzle
  • Set of stacking and nesting blocks

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This prize is really providential and perfect timing in the midst of all the preparations and set up of my family day care. So grateful.

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT