Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Two Mini Superheroes

There is something magical about a simple piece of fabric or scarf. When tied around the neck on your back, it has magical properties to transform a little person immediately into a superhero.

I’m not entirely sure if little Gracie has any inkling about the whole concept of superheroes. But as the persistent, faithful little shadow to her big brother, she was up for anything her big brother was doing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Who am I, really?

I discovered this lovely poem today…

Who are you
really?

You are not a name
or a height, or a weight
or a gender
You are not an age
and you are not where you are from

You are your favourite books
and the songs stuck in your head
You are your thoughts
and what you eat for breakfast
on Saturday mornings

You are a thousand things
but everyone chooses
to see the million things
you are not

You are not
where you are from
You are
where you are going
And I'd like
to go there
too.

- Madisen Kuhn

 

Sometimes I worry that being a blogger can be a potential factor that isolates me at times. I wonder if people shy away from me because my thoughts and ideas seem too intimidating. I wonder if putting my thoughts out here makes me seem so transparent that people think this is everything I am about, so there is supposedly nothing else left to discover because they know everything about me already.

The truth is, I am more than the anecdotes and bits I share on this blog. I am more that the images on my Instagram feed. I am more that the status updates posted on my Facebook page. I am more than the cool stuff on my Pinterest boards (actually I may be less than the cool stuff on my Pinterest boards… because as we all know, everything you see on Pinterest is all simply aspirational). All that stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole lot more stuff going on underneath.

But maybe… just maybe… it might be that the rest of my iceberg is actually just not that interesting or likeable at all in the first place.

(Okay, scratch that last thought. That one was going a bit too dark and morbid).

Or perhaps it’s simply that I only seem uninteresting or unlikeable as a person from the outside.

By nature I am somewhat more on the introvert side of the spectrum. I enjoy company and talking to people, but in many situations I often prefer to observe first before diving in. So sometimes I suppose I can seem cold and aloof to some folks.

In actual fact, I’m actually pretty eager to spill my guts out… to someone who really and truly wants to get to know me. We just need to move past the small talk (which I am awful at), take time to sit down comfortably (preferably with some wine and chocolate) and get real.

If that doesn’t work, just follow Phoebe Buffay’s tip… run me under some hot water and bang my head against the table. That should do the trick.

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Rachel: Paul's a very private person. I wish I could get him to open up a little bit, share some feelings.
Phoebe: You just have to think of him like a jar of pickles.
Rachel: So what am I supposed to do, run him under some hot water and bang his head against a table?
Phoebe: No that’s what you do when you want to get the truth out of someone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three things…

I have quite a few heavy thoughts going on at the moment. The problem is that I am lacking the energy to solidify those thoughts into words right now.

So in the meantime, I shall turn to something more light hearted by sharing a few of my favourite things from my Pinterest collection.

 

Three wardrobe items I am currently drooling over…

9to5Chic: La Jolla

-Escada

statement ring

 

Three awesome quotes…

C. S. Lewisgentle & kindI LOVE this quote!

 

Three things on my wish list to add to our outdoor area…

Outside chalkboard play area inspiration

Interesting kids outdoor play area.  I could definitely do this!

For the yard

 

Three dream touches I would love to add to our home…

I actually really like these curtains. Something like this could be a good compromise.

kids room. add color without repainting

Gallery wall brackets

 

(Images taken from various sources on my Pinterest boards)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is there such a thing as being too different?

I’m feeling a little melancholy this evening.

My thoughts and feelings are wandering in a hundred different directions all at once.

I know I am searching for something. But I’m not quite sure how to put it into words right now.

Here are two articles which sort of reflect a couple of the thoughts swirling around in my head at the moment…

It happened to me: I don’t have a best friend
(The plight of the best-friendless)

Friends of a certain age
(Why is it hard to make friends over 30)

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as being TOO different. I’ve blazed my own trail and created my own path. Then I turn to look around me and find myself all alone. Just a thought.

Image Source

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Soapy bubbly water play

With the warmer weather gradually descending upon us here in Australia, one of our current favourite activities is to head outside for some water play.

It can be as simple as setting out a tub of water with a some containers and toys… to taking things up a notch with a few drops of food colouring or even doing some water painting.

Our latest thing to add to our water play is to add a few squirts of dishwashing soap to turn it into a soapy, bubbly water-play experience. I also add a couple of drops of glycerine (an optional ingredient) which helps the bubbles to hold together much better for a more wonderfully frothy and bubbly effect.

The play kept the children engaged for over an hour… swirling, splashing, scooping, pouring… exploring different ways of creating more bubbles by agitating the water… and even pretending to wash some toy dishes and cups with sponges.

The children enjoyed it so much, I decided to repeat the play experience the following week. This time I added a basket of scrap fabric for the kids to wash. They were very busy all morning, washing all the fabric and meticulously hanging them up on the clothesline.

Such busy, industrious little children.

If only I could get them to do this with real dishes and clothes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The easiest deep pan pizza

One of the ‘headaches’ I sometimes encounter in running a family day care, is managing a wide variety of food preferences (and aversions) among all the kids each day. Every single child comes with their own unique quirks. Some chomp down anything and everything laid before them. Some pick through their meal painfully. Some love all sorts of fruits and veges. Some refuse to touch anything with a tinge of green in it.

I am usually pretty firm about giving any new foods a taste or try before deciding not to finish it, as I do with my own children. But to keep meal times to a low-drama activity, I have learnt to modify my expectations and focus mostly on preparing healthy meals that are generally crowd-pleasing. I do try to introduce something new and different every now and then, but I keep that to a minimum. Kids thrive on enjoying the same old favourites on a regular basis anyway.

One regular crowd-pleaser that is always a big hit with everyone is: The good old classic PIZZA.

Sometimes I prepare a base from scratch using my bread maker to mix the ingredients together beforehand. And sometimes I keep a stash of mini pizza bases or flatbreads in the freezer to load up with some toppings.

But I recently came across this recipe for deep pan pizza which I consider to be one of the most genius ideas I have ever seen.

Only four basic ingredients for the base, which is whipped up in literally 2 minutes. It is so easy and so good that I simply have to share it with you.
.

Easy deep pan pizza
(Adapted from 4 Ingredients One Pot One Bowl)

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Ingredients
1 cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup of water
A good pinch of salt
4 tbsn passata/pizza sauce
Toppings of your choice (cheese, pepperoni, ham, tomatoes, zucchini etc.)

Method
Grease a non-stick frying pan with some olive oil. Then mix together flour, olive oil, salt and water to form a wet sticky dough. Spoon the passata/pizza sauce over the dough and spread. Then add your favourite toppings.

Cover pan with a lid, then set on the stove to cook on a medium heat for ten minutes. Carefully slide the pizza out onto a board. Allow pizza to sit for two minutes before slicing into wedges to serve.

(Optional Step: Preheat the oven/grill, then after cooking the pizza on the stove, remove the lid and slide under the grill for 5 minutes to lightly brown cheese and crisp up toppings)'

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It’s a terrific activity to let the kids get involved in. I prepare the base and toppings before hand, get everyone’s hands washed and aprons on. Then just let them all dive in. They can sometimes go a little overboard with the toppings, but they will most likely gobble everything down happily knowing they made it themselves..

I was initially a little dubious over the dough mixture on how wet and sticky it was and whether everything would cook through properly. But I followed through the steps and was pleasantly surprised by the results.

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This is not a regular style pizza, so the texture of the pizza will turn out on the rather steamy-soft side. If you don’t like the idea of this, just go easy on the toppings and don’t overload the pizza with too much ingredients.

>> More of my favourite yummy food and recipes

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Our encounter with the native Australian animal rock star: The Kangaroo (at Caversham Wildlife Park)

So last week, our little family were busy playing the role of host/hostess and tour guide to hubby’s family who had flown over from Malaysia for holiday.

All the days were chock full of outings to all the usual touristy places around Perth… King’s Park, Fremantle, Cottlesloe Beach, Swan Valley… and of course, Caversham Wildlife Park.

It was also our kids’ first visit to Caversham Wildlife Park and also their very first up-close encounter with all the usual suspects of native Australian animals… kookaburras, wombats, echidnas, dingoes, koalas and the big highlight of the park: kangaroos.

You can walk straight into the kangaroo enclosure, to touch, pat, stroke and even feed them. The excitement and enthusiasm of every visitor is clearly evident. All around me, I could see and hear excited visitors walking up to kangaroos and squealing with delight as they stroked the soft fur on their backs.

And the kangaroos?

Well, all I can say is that I’ve never seen more bored kangaroos in my life (not that I’ve seen that many anyway).

None of the kangaroos batted an eye at us as we approached them. They didn’t even bother to acknowledge our presence, but continued to lounge around lazily with a apathetic, indifferent attitude.

But it didn’t bother our guests or the children one single bit. Here were real-life kangaroos we could touch and feel and look at to our heart’s content. Sure, they turned up their noses at the food pellets we offered them. They were the superstars after all. They were entitled to play the diva card.

Grace was the most excited person of all. She was like an animated little groupie running after each kangaroo, pointing at them and calling out “Dog! Dog!”. I had to keep a firm hold on her arm the entire time, otherwise she would have thrown herself all over one of these rock star kangaroos in an attempt to cuddle them. And as kangaroos were supposedly notorious for their boxing skills, I definitely wanted to avoid a scene with Grace ending up with a black eye.

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If you’re ever in Perth, Caversham Wildlife Park is definitely worth a visit. I consider the admission fee rather on the steep end (AUD25 for adults and AUD11 for children aged 3 years and older). But for a close up encounter with all the classic native Australian wildlife, I would say it’s definitely worth it.

Caversham Wildlife Park
Lord Street, Whiteman
Western Australia 6068

Open every day from 9.00am to 5.30pm (Except Christmas Day)

More information available at www.cavershamwildlife.com.au

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Keeping up traditions: Mooncake Festival

So last month in September was the traditional Chinese Mooncake Festival. I have many fond memories of this festival from my childhood, including indulging in many slivers of sweet mooncakes and parading around the neighbourhood with candlelit lanterns by the light of the full moon.

There are many stories on the origins of this festival. The one I remembered most of all was the legend of the hero Hou-Yi who shot down nine out of the original ten suns in our sky, and his wife the Lady Chang-Er who drunk the magical elixir which caused her to float up to the moon where she remains to this day.

As part of the cultural heritage focus in my family day care, I decided to feature some activities around this festival during the week. I even prepared a felt board story to illustrate the legend of the Moon Goddess, Lady Chang-Er. I even made a mini bow and arrow out of a popsicle stick for Hou-Yi to shoot down the nine suns.

Nathan was absolutely captivated by the story. Almost every night during that week, he kept looking out his window at night to see if he could catch a glimpse of the Lady Chang-Er in her Moon Palace.

We also made some paper lanterns and hung them up add a festive air for the occasion. I was quite impressed with Nathan’s scissor cutting skills during this activity. Most of the slits in these lanterns were cut by Nathan. I focused primarily on the stapling on the lantern handles while the younger children decorated the lanterns with swirls and lines using markers and crayons.

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I had planned to let our children stay up on the eve of the Mooncake Festival to go out for a moonlight walk with real lanterns. But unfortunately the weather ended up being terribly unkind to us. Stormy, pouring rain and howling wind.

So instead, we settled on an indoor lantern party.

We turned off all the lights to set the mood. I set out my homemade snowskin mooncakes on the table and hubby helped to light up the lanterns for everyone.

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Nathan was a little disappointed that we could not head outside to look at the moon and see if he could spot the Moon Goddess. But I think he was cheered up over the privilege of holding on to a  real candlelit paper lantern for the first time. We’re talking real fire!

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Unfortunately Grace couldn’t be trusted to hold her own lantern yet. Maybe next year. But she was perfectly content with munching away on the snowskin mooncakes.

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I hope the weather turns out better next year so we can head outside for a real moonlight walk next time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Children’s book writing activity: Nathan and the Blue Crayon

One of the books we’ve been enjoying lately is ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’ by Crockett Johnson.

Nathan is very intrigued by the scenery and how the story comes together through the pictures, all created by little Harold with the aid of his purple crayon.

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We decided to write our own version of this story. Nathan selected blue as the colour of his crayon. Hence the title of his version: ‘Nathan and the Blue Crayon’.

But we added an extra twist to the story by creating a mini ‘Nathan figurine out’ of cardstock to walk through the pages of his story.

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Then the pages were then filled with the illustrations and scenery, using a blue crayon of course. As he narrated the story, he walked the mini Nathan figurine through the pages.

I played the role of his humble secretary by jotting down his narrations on each page.

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We finished off the book with a neat little pocket in the front to keep the mini Nathan figurine. I just folded a piece of coloured paper into a simple envelope and glued it onto the front page.

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And there you have it! Our latest homemade book added to our collection. The cleverest one we’ve made so far I think and really fun to read out loud together.

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P.S. Other children’s book writing activities we’ve done together at home.