Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strangely optimistic + a glimpse into my day care set up

So after a somewhat slow and shaky start to my family day care business opening, the calls and enquiries have really started rolling in steadily over the past couple of weeks. I’ve had a number of parent visits to my home which has been quite exciting and I now have three awesome families ready to come on board.

People still shake their head in disbelief or apprehensiveness whenever they hear about my crazy venture…

“Four kids! That’s a lot to handle!”

“I can’t believe you’re doing this”

“I could never do anything like that”

I don’t know why, but I’m still strangely optimistic about the whole thing. I’m simply excited about having a little group to be able to plan little activities to do together, coming up with a mix of different play invitations and observing their different individual plays and personalities.

Of course there’s also the messier bits, like cooking, cleaning, changing nappies, toileting and other such ‘yucky’ stuff. But I’m just choosing to roll with it. I do it every single day anyway already, so I see this as just another extension to all the daily mess I deal with now. I might come to regret these words later but for now I can only move forward and see what happens.

Anyway, I thought you might like to have a little glimpse into my home set up and a couple of the little corners and areas I’ve created for our different daily activities…

serenefdc_generalview
Some of our artwork on display and an overview of our place from the hallway

serenefdc_readingcorner
Our reading corner

serenefdc_homecorner1
Our ‘home’ corner

DSC04565
Babies’ corner and general play area for story and circle time

It’s a fairly simple set up for now but what do you guys think?

For you folks with three or four (or more) kids, how do you handle it all? The constant clamours for attention, the referee calls, the mess… or is there a secret place in the eye of the storm where you somehow find the calm?

 

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.

Linking up to:
Sakura Haruka | Little Drummer Boys | Twinkle in the Eye | The Multitasking Mummy

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Evolving. Expanding. But still writing

I’ve been blogging for close to nine years now.

I first started out writing mainly as a way to keep family and friends updated on my life. I still do.

However recently my blogging has evolved and expanded to become a platform for me to make new connections, discover new passions, develop new skills and broaden my horizons.

A few of you might have noticed that I’ve been going through a clean up and overhaul of my blog and social media networks, working with Alison of Little Love Media to help me in this process, to get more focused and intentional about my online presence.

Among numerous things that came up, the two that I’ve been tip-toeing and ho-humming about are:

  1. Getting my own domain name;
    and
  2. Twitter.

Getting my own domain name feels like a really big, big deal to me. I somehow don’t feel I am deserving of it. I mean I’m just a tiny little blogger hardly even making a dent or even a small dimple in this huge community. So why should I get my own domain name? I’m just a little nobody.

I do know in my head all the right reasons for investing in my own domain name. I’ve had the point hammered down my throat a thousand times. In the end I know it all just comes down to me.

As for Twitter, perhaps it’s just me, but it’s simply one of those things I don’t really ‘get’.

Maybe I started out following all the wrong people to begin with, but I found the constant stream of tweets somehow a little overwhelming. But I’ve been told that I can’t really ignore Twitter if I hope to grow and expand further. So I decided to jump back on the bandwagon, strip down some my old followings, start afresh and see how it goes. If you see a @livingserenely suddenly stalking you out of nowhere, you’ll know why.

Snapped last night while writing this post

Anyway, after an honest assessment of where I’m currently at, I felt a little beaten up seeing how far away I still was from my aspirations. I also had a few discouraging moments too when it felt like nobody out there seemed to care, especially when it came to friends IRL (versus those in the blogging community). And I kept asking myself why (a pointless exercise, I know).

Perhaps I’m actually not that likeable a person.

Perhaps I’m just too different.

Perhaps people think I’m just being a show-off.

Perhaps everything I have to say is just completely pointless and irrelevant.

(Or perhaps I’m simply just digging a hole for myself to wallow in)

Then I read this

Readers are readers.
Listeners are listeners.
Friends are friends.
Humans are humans.
Honour them. Respect them. Write your _____ off for them.
Do it with grace — whether they’re standing directly in front of you, or seated halfway across the world.
Because you never know whose life YOUR words are going to touch, transform or even heal.

And I thought about the people I do know and I pictured them sitting in front of their computers/laptops/tablets/phones reading my words and genuinely wanting to find out how I’m doing.

So I knew. As long as they’re there. I’ll be here. Still writing.

 

Did you first hesitate over getting your own domain name? What helped you make the jump?
Is Twitter still as awesome as they say it is? How do you navigate all that tweet-minology and lingo?
Do you ever wallow in your ‘smallness’ in the great big WWW? Or do you just know that you ARE a big deal?
Am I asking too many questions today?

 

Blogging with Jess today on IBOT

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One of my worst fears come true

My baby’s first innocence has been stolen away. By chocolate.

She unwittingly discovered her first taste of of it all on her own. Her big brother had accidentally left a piece of his foil wrapped chocolate from Valentine’s Day on the floor. No one else noticed it. No one except baby.

I found her under the table, quietly and happily chomping away at it… wrapper and all.

At only seven months old, this is considered a very very bad thing. I should have been crying but I ended up laughing instead. I couldn’t help it. Especially when I was met with such a look of pure bliss on her cute little chocolate-covered face.

“Guess what I found, mummy?”

(Snapshot taken from my Instagram @livingserenely)

What surprises have your little ones come up with recently? Did it make you laugh or cry (or both)?

 

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What I like about you

How did you spend your Valentine’s Day?

Hubby and I were home bound (by choice). We don’t really like going out on Valentine’s Day anyway as we’re not big on crowds and over-priced menus.

And I really do enjoy just chilling out in the nice hangout spaces we’ve created in our house. Plus we have everything we need for a romantic evening.. wine, chocolate, a plush couch and each other.

After we put the kids to bed, we watched a movie (‘She’s All That’ - a classic from the 90s), chatted about random stuff and then later hubby taught me how to play poker. It was fun coming up with silly bets and bids. The bets soon escalated into the raunchy zone, but that’s strictly between hubs and I.

DSC05225

Hubby wrote me this ‘poem’ for the occasion which got me all smiley and gooey inside…

What I like about you…

I like holding your hands
I like to watch you sleep
I like to listen to you describe your day
I like the way you encourage our boy to share about his day
I like the way you teach our kids
I like the way you explain things to our kids
I like the way you pack the going-out bag for all of us
I like the way you write and describe things
I like what you manage to turn the house into
I like your cooking and the things you come up with in the kitchen
I like the pack lunches you prepare
I like your patience and kindness
I like your smile (and your laugh that hides your eyes and shows your teeth)
I like you

 

As it was a surprise, I didn’t have anything like that prepared for him then. But after some thought, I came up with a version of my own to reciprocate the fun and affection. I haven’t shown it to him yet, but he reads my blog anyway so I decided to trumpet this out here for him…

What I like about you

I like the way you chuckle
I like watching you play with the children
I like hearing the children’s screams and laughter when you hold a tickle fest with them
I like watching you when you are deeply engrossed in a task
I like the way you fire up when you talk about stuff you are passionate about
I like how passionate you are about math and numbers
I like watching you tutor kids in math
I like the methodical way you explain a concept to someone
I like the way you cook instant noodles (no one does it better than you)
I like how you set up our media room so we can enjoy movies in cinema style
I like how you take the time to research and shop for new gadgets or devices I ask for
I like how you stand by me and support me in all my crazy ideas
I like the way you grew a beard for me
I like you too. I really do.

 

It’s nothing deep or profound or anything brilliant. Just us being us. Hope you had a nice Valentine’s day.

 

Do you play poker? What kind of bets do you play?
Have you every wrote a poem for someone? Would you? Could you?

Linking up to Jess for IBOT

Monday, February 17, 2014

Simple ways to cool off in the backyard in summer

{Sponsored Link}

Given a choice, which season do you prefer: Summer or Winter? Do you prefer having to handle very very hot weather or being in very very cold weather?

I am totally a summer person. I say it’s much easier to cool off on a very hot day, than to rug up and try to muster up some heat to stay nice and warm in winter.

Summer is the perfect time to get the kids outside and active. If it’s especially hot day, I just slap on the sunscreen and throw some water into the mix.

Here are some simple water play ideas to to cool off in the backyard this summer…


Have a blast with a water gun fight
The boys got these for just a dollar each from Big W

Get artistic with water painting
Just water, a paintbrush and a blank concrete canvas

DSC03001_thumb

 

Give the toys a bath
Bring out a tub of water, throw in some toys

 DSC02943

 

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool (or a friend who has one), then it’s a no brainer. Put on your swimsuit and just dive in! Mix things up and play some classic pool games like ‘marco polo’, pair up for a ‘chicken fight’ or hold a cannonball contest.

Just remember to make sure there’s an adult supervising at all times, check that your PH and chlorine levels are balanced so it’s safe and comfortable for kids to swim in. Click here to find everything you need to ensure your pool is in suitable condition.

What are your favourite ways to cool off in summer?

 

{All the contents of this post have been written personally by me
and includes a sponsored link for Alliance Pool Stores}

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

For Valentine’s Day…

DSC05198

 

We made some sugary sweet spicy hearts…

DSC05197

 

I made the cookie dough using the gingerbread recipe from earlier this week. Nathan helped to cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter and we decorated them with white icing and pink and purple sprinkles.

Nathan asked if we could save one piece to give to his favourite gal pal, which I thought was very sweet of him. I think these gingerbread cookie hearts make especially perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for little girls, because you know, girls are made from sugar and spice, right?

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Up and down, down and up

Some days,

We can bounce from this…

DSC04348

 

To this…

DSC04533

Up and down. Down and up. Sweet and sour. Good and bad. Laughter and tears. Happy and sad.

Things have been moving slowly but steadily in the family day care department. I encountered a few delays and glitches in the administrative side of things, but thankfully it’s all sorted out now.

The calls and enquiries have started trickling, mostly from parents just asking around. I’ve had to turn down a couple of really interested parents because I was not able to meet certain specific requirements they needed. But two families have pretty much confirmed their interest. Next step will be to arrange an introductory meeting and take it from there,

Hope you are having a nice day wherever you are.

 

Here are some nice bits and pieces I’ve picked up lately…

12 things family day care providers wish parents knew

8 birthing practices from waaaay back when

Smash Books, the new way to Un-scrapbook

5 simple ways to organise the play room

And also sometimes it doesn’t always pay to be an early adopter, otherwise you’d be left high and dry sitting on sad half-baked versions of…

The first computer mouse, which was essentially a wooden block on wheels.

computer_mouse

The first electronic calculator, considered pretty lightweight at that time weighing 30 pounds.

calculator

And the world’s first microwave oven, measuring 6 feet tall and costing $5,000. It didn’t sell very well apparently. Can’t imagine why.

microwave_0

 

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A gingerbread day!

I think almost everyone grew up knowing the classic story of the gingerbread man.

It’s a great story to play –very simple and catchy story with repetitive rhymes that are easy for little ones to remember.

Run, run as fast as you can,
You can’t catch me,
I’m the gingerbread man!

DSC05210

So we made a gingerbread man puppet. And we re-enacted the story together.

It was fun coming up with improvisations using different animals and characters… because let’s face it, EVERYONE wants to eat the gingerbread man.

DSC05209

After all that imaginary eating of the gingerbread man, we started to get pretty hungry. So we made lots more little gingerbread men. REAL ones this time.

DSC05194

And then comes the best part… Chomping them up!

DSC05199

Nathan’s gingerbread man disappeared very quickly. So I asked him what happened to it…

It’s sleeping”, he said.

Sleeping? Where?”, I asked.

In my tummy!”, he grinned.

DSC05201

I quite liked the gingerbread men recipe I used. Very easy, with just a handful of ingredients. Sharing the recipe here in case some of you feel a craving coming on…

Quick and Easy Gingerbread Men
(Makes approx 2 dozen men)

Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tspn baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 cup brown sugar
150g butter
1 egg, beaten

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour, baking soda and ginger together. Add in brown sugar.
Add butter and rub with fingertips or pulse in food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add egg and mix together to form a soft dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut out gingerbread shapes with cookie cutters.
Place gingerbread men on a lined tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
Allow gingerbread to cool completely before decorating. I made a simple icing by mixing 1/2 cup of icing sugar with 1 1/2 tspn water.

 

Have you ever played out a story book with your kids? What are some of your favourite ones to play?

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Review: Mamaway Second Skin Nursing Bra

Do you know what is the best thing I love about breastfeeding?

The sheer convenience.

No lugging around bottles, flasks, formula or fiddling with sterilising equipment, bottle warmers and measuring spoons.

Just pop and go, baby!

But do you know what is one of the worst things I used to dislike about breastfeeding?

Fiddling with my clothes and tops to latch baby on as discreetly as possible.

And constantly stressing out if I would accidentally ‘flash’ someone.

When I first started breastfeeding, I was really extremely self conscious. I was convinced that everyone around was staring at me and thinking about boobies. Specifically mine.

I dreaded stepping out of the house and always timed my errands so that I could feed baby at home first, then rush back in time for the next feed. If I absolutely had to nurse while out, I would always look for a parents room or any place completely hidden away from prying eyes.

My confidence was even more shaken when being shunned in a department store for asking to use one of their changing rooms to nurse during a non-busy weekday morning. Reason given: It was considered unhygienic.

Thankfully with experience, my confidence grew.

Nowadays, I would happily nurse baby any time, any place, anywhere.

I even ditched my nursing cover to lighten my load and to do my part to try and normalise the view of breastfeeding. Instead, I invested in good quality nursing tops and clothing to help keep things low key and minimise any naked skin visibility, mainly in consideration of others.

And here is my favourite essential item in my breastfeeding toolkit…

The Mamaway Second Skin Seamless Maternity and Nursing Bra

DSC05099

This bra is truly my favourite one in my stash of nursing bras. I adore the velvety soft feel of the material. And it fits so perfectly like a glove around me. It has a sports-brasy feel to it, very very stretchy, with a lot of support but not overly constrictive around the bust.

I’ve worn it with both my nursing tops as well as my regular T-shirts and tops. The seamless design makes it so easy to wear under summer tops and thinner clothing.

DSC05112

I also like the wide, stretchy strap which sit firmly but comfortably on my shoulders. I find that good fitting straps on nursing bras make detaching and reattaching the drop-down clips really simple and easy – some bras I’ve tried have poor-fitting or fiddly straps that easily slip off whenever I try to undo the clips.

DSC05114

If you decide to get only get one nursing bra, get this one. It’s so comfy, I’m sure I’ll continue to wear it even when I am eventually no longer breastfeeding.

My only suggestion to Mamaway would be to provide some bright colour options like yellow, neon pink, lime green and blue in this range. It would be fun to mix things up in the wardrobe with some funky colours to pair my summer tops with.

 

[This post has been written in conjunction with Mamaway’s Write & Get a Free Second Skin Seamless Maternity & Nursing Bra campaign. I received a free bra for posting this review but did not receive any other compensation or payment. All opinions and thoughts in this review are my own.]

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Weekend Adventure: Castledare Miniature Railway

What adventures have you been up to lately this summer? My friend Jamie recently told me about this charming little miniature railway tucked away somewhere in Wilson along the Canning River.

The trains are real models of classic steam engines and diesel trains, but in miniature child-sized versions. It all sounded so cute and storybook-like that I simply had to check it out. I knew Nathan would simply love it given his obsession with Thomas and Chuggington and the whole gang.

So on one blazing hot Sunday, we braved the summer heat and hauled our little troops along for a miniature adventure.

A couple of the locomotives on the miniature railway (photo source)

The miniature railway has two stations running public rides on different Sundays each month. We opted for the Wilson Park Station because it is situated by a park, with a big playground, plenty of shady trees, and a cafe nearby – perfect spot for a picnic and family outing.

The babies camping out on the picnic mat for some tummy time

Promptly at ten o’clock, we heard the whistle blow and the sound of the trains chugging into the station. We sent the hubbies and toddlers to check out the tickets for the rides while Jamie and I waited for the babies to wake up from their naps.

Two very excited children at the ticket counter

The tickets are quite reasonably priced: $3 for children and $6 for adults, babies ride free. The rides run on a ‘load and go’ system. Just queue up, get your tickets, hop on the train, and once the train is full, off they go.

Waiting for our train

The trains fill up pretty quickly when they arrive. Each ride takes about 15 minutes, so even if you miss one it doesn’t take long to wait for the next train.

“All aboard!”

The railway tracks meander through the bush and trees in the Canning River Park nature reserve. If you are lucky, you can spot some wild birds among the trees or in the water.

DSC05081
“And off we go!”

Here is a snapshot of our train and driver. Ours was a diesel engine train. They also have steam powered ones running from the other station at Castledare and Niana Street.

Our diesel train and engine driver (photo source)

Baby Grace enjoyed a free ride in the train snuggled next to me in my sling.

DSC05086
“Yippee, I get a free ride”

A final shot snapped by Jamie’s hubby, Edmund.

DSC05088
“There and back again”

The kids were pretty flushed and tired out from riding in the hot sun. But we could tell they really enjoyed the adventure from the way they chattered excitedly about it afterwards.

What new discoveries and adventures have you had over the summer holidays?

 

Castledare Miniature Railway
There are two stations which operate on different Sundays of each month…

Wilson Park Station
Kent St Wilson, corner Queens Park Rad
(runs 3rd Sunday of each month, 10am–2pm)
Niana Station
Castledare Pl Wilson, corner Niana Ct
(runs 1st Sunday of each month, 11am–3.30pm)

Fares: $6 for adults, $3 for children over 2 years old.

Remember to wear enclosed or covered shoes. No flip flops or sandals allowed. There is a basket of shoes for loan available there, but you would probably feel more comfortable wearing your own.

More information available at www.castledare.com.au

 

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

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Stranger Danger

One evening as I was lounging around doing some channel surfing, I happened to catch the movie Minority Report on TV.

The scene playing was the one when Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, was grieving over his son who was abducted several years ago at six-years-old.

image
John Anderton’s son’s abduction scene from Minority Report

It was a chilling scene to watch. It starts out with Anderton sharing a happy moment with his son at a public swimming pool. He playfully ducked his head underwater to show his boy how long he could hold his breath. He was only under the water a few moments but when he popped his head up, his son had disappeared. The scene ends tragically with Anderton running frantically through the crowd, shouting and screaming his son’s name.

It’s one of the worst nightmares a parent could ever have. In a way it can be worse than witnessing your child die before your eyes.

Missing” leaves an open wound with no sense of closure. There is a poison in that wound that prevents it from healing completely, as you continually hover between hope and despair.

Imagine losing a child to an unknown horror, never knowing what fate has befallen him or her… Torture? Slavery? Hunger? Isolation? Loneliness? Pain? The thoughts are too horrifying to consider.

Before I had children, I used to glance casually past such news of missing children and posters asking “Have you seen this child”. I probably just had passing thought of “Oh, how sad” and went on with my business as usual.

But now that I have kids, I now understand the deep pain and horror of having your child go missing. The thought is too terrifying for me to even consider that I immediately push away any painful images of any such possibility of this happening to my own babies.

My mum recently told me this chilling true story which happened back in my hometown:

A mother and her little girl (not much older than Nathan probably is now) were shopping in a local supermarket (Servay in Penampang for the KK locals). The mother happened to turn her head for a moment to reach for an item on a shelf. When she turned back, her little girl had disappeared. She started screaming frantically for help. Thankfully the supermarket staff were swift to respond and immediately locked down the entrances to prevent anyone from exiting and began searching the premises. The little girl was eventually found in the toilet, hair shorn, dressed in boys’ clothing –drugged. There was no sign of the kidnapper who must have bolted from the scene.

The story is too close to home. I shiver inside every time I think about it. This lollipop bait video reinforced the point even deeper for me:

 

“A moment of neglect, a lifetime of regret”

I’ve started thinking about having the ‘stranger danger’ talk with our 3 y.o. Nathan. He is so friendly with everyone (sometimes too friendly actually) that a lollipop bait like this could definitely easily lure him away. But knowing this, we always try to be extra vigilant in keeping our hawk eyes on him whenever we’re out and about.

 [DSC02359%255B6%255D.jpg]

Hold tight to those little hands

Maybe it’s about time we start teaching him about the difference between strangers and people we know. Though, I don’t want to scare him and transfer my paranoid parental fears onto him.

Have you had the ‘stranger danger’ talk with your kids? How old were they and how did you go about it?

 

Linking up to the IBOT party