Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moral support

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The other day, Nathan had to do some penance for a particular crime we had warned him against before: i.e. using the wall as an art canvas. At four years old, it was too easy to let him off with just a once-off punishment. So he was made to scrub every single mark he had made completely clean.

I let him use my expensive microfiber cleaning cloths for the job, so it was not that impossible a task. But it was definitely a bit of a tedious process.

When Grace woke up from her nap, she couldn’t understand why her big brother was not ready to play with her as usual. But I think she figured that this was some new game he had come up with. So she grabbed a piece of tissue and pitched right in. I don’t think she made any real practical progress, but the moral support she provided is what every (little) man needs during his low times.

 

Little Sister
by Wendy Silva

My sister can be annoying, everything
I do she wants to do it too
It’s hard to have a little sister who
wants to be like you.

She follows me around the house
and wants to play pretend.
”I’m too big for that,” I say,
but I’ll always be your friend.

“Go away and play,” I have
important things to do.
Then before I knew it, my
little sister grew.

I remember so many great times we
shared and wish that we had more.
Creating wonderful memories that will
withstand time, that’s what friends are for.

 

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Grace 6 (taken by Jonathan Ng 28.12.14){ Last photo courtesy of our friend Jonathan Ng }

*****

P.S. Nathan’s little shadow, Grace’s first laugh with her big brother, and Nathan meeting his little sister for the very first time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Big school

We have a really major milestone coming up just around the corner. School. Nathan’s very first day of ‘big’ school.
 
I have to confess that I’ve had a few, well actually several (private) teary episodes over this whole thing. My first baby growing up right before my very eyes… stepping across this threshold out into the world on his own. Sigh. It’s all been quite an emotional ride for me.
 
I even got a little teary during our trip the school supplies shop to pick up the items on his school list, as I looked at my big ‘little boy’ walking down the long aisle filled with books and stationery. And I had a déjà vu moment, recalling my own childhood back-to-school shopping expeditions for textbooks and stationery.
 
ShoppingforSchoolSupplies
 
Nathan himself is quite excited over the whole adventure. Though one quiet afternoon while we was hanging out with me, he admitted to feeling a little scared and nervous. “What if my new friends don’t like me?” he said. And I knew could not simply dismiss that thought. Because it could very well be true. I myself absolutely hated my entire kindergarten  year. Till today, I can still remember feeling lost and alone almost all the time throughout that stage in my life.
 
So I told Nathan what I remembered about my first day of school…
“…I wore my new uniform and carried my new schoolbag. My daddy (that’s your grandpa, Nathan) walked with me to my classroom that morning. There were so many children in the room. I felt scared and nervous. I didn’t know anyone there. I sat down next to another little girl who was probably just as scared as I was. I tried my best to listen to the teacher. At recess, I ate the snack my mummy packed for me.  And after school, my daddy was right there waiting for me to go home.” 
“Mummy?”
“Yes, Nathan?” 
“I can be brave.” 
“Yes, Nathan. You are my brave boy.”
It was all I could do not to break down right there and then and start bawling my eyes out.

During our first meeting with his school teacher a few months back during the whole registration/orientation process, his teacher remarked that there might be a few tears on that first day, but it was normal. “Tears. Well, definitely from me at least!” I replied, half jokingly. “Absolutely no tears from you, mummy!” she quipped in a half severe tone. “You can cry it all out afterwards, but all smiles at drop off, alright?”.
 
Anyway, logistics wise we are pretty much almost all set and ready to go. We have all his school stationery and supplies. School bag, shoes, uniform, lunchbox, drink bottle.
 
I have a feeling that just looking at him all dressed up in his school uniform is enough to set me off again. And reading this book to Nathan. And this poem.
 
Excuse me while I go play this song on repeat and cry my eyes out.
 
 
P.S. How we went with Nathan’s first day of school.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update on our revolutionary little reading corner

So last year when I was setting up my home for my family day care, I implemented this simple but life-changing tip on organising children’s books. Which resulted in the revolution and evolution of our reading corner.

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This little scene above has become almost a spontaneous daily post-dinner ritual with our own two little ones. After dinner once we’ve cleared the dishes, right on cue these two head over to this corner, pull out a book (or two or three) and just read quietly to themselves.

This corner is also well-loved and well-used by all the other children that come to our place throughout the day. It’s an ideal little ‘getaway’ corner when a little one just needs some quiet time on their own to chill out and reset.

So slowly, I’ve been adding more little touches to make the corner more comfy and cosy. And hubby also insisted on the addition of an LED reading light at the corner, because good lighting is important for reading of course. It’s not the fanciest reading corners like the ones on Pinterest, but the children seem to like it all the same.

I’m so glad that I found this brilliant way to pass on my love of books and reading to my kids.

(P.S. A quick glimpse of the various ‘little corners’ of my family day care set up when I first started)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Potato and Onion Tortilla

Here’s another one of my favourite quick and easy, crowd-pleaser recipes which I often cook up for the little ones’ lunches (or mine). And it’s simple enough to get the little ones involved in the cooking process… cracking the eggs and whisking them, grating cheese or slicing the cooked potatoes (with a butter knife).

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Potato and Onion Tortilla*
(Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4)

Ingredients:
3 small potatoes, peeled
2 spring onions, chopped
5 eggs
2 tbpns olive oil
40g cheddar cheese, grated

Method:
Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes are just tender. Drain and leave to cool. Then slice into thick rounds.

Turn on grill to heat it up. Beat eggs together and set aside.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat, add spring onions. Cook gently for 4-5 minutes until onions have softened. Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Stir potatoes around gently so as not to break up the potatoes.

Pour beaten eggs into pan. Turn heat down to lowest setting and cook for 2-3 minutes until there is only a little runny egg left on top.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top and place pan under grill for 2 minutes until egg is cooked through.

Remove pan from oven and leave to cool slightly. Then slide tortilla out of the pan onto a chopping board. Cut into wedges and serve.

I usually like to serve it alongside with whole-wheat crackers, plain pasta or polenta cakes. This recipe wins every single time, and I have yet to encounter someone who has refused second (or third or fourth) helpings of this.

(*In Spanish, this dish is called tortilla de patatas or tortilla española. Tortilla in origin means"small torte/cake" . Source)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sending my little man out into FOUR

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So on Christmas day last year, my beloved little prince officially turned FOUR. It was a pretty massive affair. We had the biggest party for him he’s ever had yet. And he was simply showered with love and presents from various people in our lives. It was definitely a very memorable occasion.

Turning four is a big deal. The whole year has been building up to this because this is the age when Nathan officially starts school. Or will be in a few weeks time once the school holidays are over. So before that happens, I wanted to pen down a few thoughts on my dear little boy at four…

Exuberant. Energetic. Loquacious. Imaginative. Charming. Gregarious. These are some of words that come to mind when I think about my Nathan.

 

Nathan the ‘Imaginator’

Nathan’s superpower is the ability to take on multiple identities. Every day, Nathan transforms himself into a different person. My usual greeting of “Good morning, Nathan” might be met with “Mummy, today I am not Nathan. I am __________”.

Various possibilities to fill the blank space include: Superman. Spiderman. A Pirate. A Policeman. Fireman Sam. Mike the Knight. Captain Barnacles. Buzz Lightyear. Hiccup. Optimus Prime. Master Windu. Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. So far I have been able to keep up with his rapid changes in identity pretty well. But I certainly do need to stay pretty sharp on my toes.

His head is chock full of stories waiting to be told. All day long from morning till night, as he plays with his toys and his friends, the stories just keep flowing, in role play, pretend play, imaginative and dress-up play. Then in the afternoons during rest time, I will hear him chattering away to himself with his Lego and books. When he emerges from his rest, he is all ready to regale me with the latest exciting episode of the mini adventures of all his little Lego characters.

 

Nathan, Prince Charming

Nathan seems to have an internal magnet for romantic, whimsical, fairy-tale sentiments and ideas which he picks up from all over. Many times the things he says or does stop me in my tracks as they appear to come straight out from another century.

To his grandma on Skype last week: “Po-Po, tonight I shall dream about you”.

To Grace or any female peer in the vicinity: “Your Maaaaajesty--” (taking a deep bow with flourish) “--May I have this dance?

He has already proposed and gotten married to several little girls in our circle, including me.

And this was the latest conversation we had over the weekend on the subject of marriage

“Mummy, next time when I grow bigger, I want to get married!”

“You want to get married? Who do you want to marry?”

“Yooooouuuu!!!”

“Oh, that’s very sweet of you, but you can’t marry me.”

“But whyyyyyy, mummy?”

“Because I am already married to daddy.”

“Oh okay. Then I will get married with Grace, then!”

“Um… that’s really sweet to think of her as well. But you actually can’t marry your sister.”

“But, but, but I looooooove her!”

“Yes, I know you do, Nathan.”

“Gracie, do you want to get married with me?”

(Grace bobs her head up and down, nodding obligingly)

“Grace says she wants to get married too!”

(Sigh. Nothing to say.)

 

Nathan the Gregarious

It’s amazing how completely different he is from hubby and myself. I consider myself to be more on the introvert end of the spectrum, often tending to be somewhat reserved. But Nathan could not be more different from us. Each time we go out, he is like a little Labrador… smiling and greeting almost everyone we meet. Our walks are always peppered with lots of hi and hellos. In is eyes, everyone he meets is a potential friend.

The other day, we found a ball in our backyard. We figured that one of the neighbours’ kids must have accidentally tossed it across in our yard as they were playing. Later that day, a shy, gangly boy rang our doorbell enquiring after his ball. Unfortunately little Grace had gotten hold of the ball earlier and lost it somewhere in the house. So I asked the boy which one was his house and told him we would look for his ball and drop it off at his house later.

During the entire episode, Nathan could barely contain himself with curiosity and excitement. Our short conversation with the boy was peppered with “Hi! Hello! What’s your name? Do you like to play ball? I like to play ball!” and so on. We found the ball eventually and Nathan was eager as a puppy to return the ball . “Let me give it to the boy!” he insisted. He marched straight up to the front door and rapped it firmly. When the boy answered the door, he flashed him the hugest grin and proudly held up the rescued ball and declared “We found your ball! Here it is!”.

I think if it were me as a child, I would never have volunteered to walk up to a another person’s house like that. My mother would have had to push and coax me to no end to even give a little tap on the door.

Likewise, every person we encounter at the playground instantly becomes known as a friend. He will confidently stride up to the person (doesn’t matter if it’s a toddler, an older kid, a teen or an adult) and extend his hand in friendship with a “Hi! What’s your name?”.

Every now and then, he will declare fervently to me “Mummy, I love EVERYBODY!!!”. And I don’t doubt his word.

 

Because he wears his heart so openly on his sleeve, the only thing that breaks my heart is to think about all the unkind people he might meet or ungracious responses he might receive toward his wide open heart as he steps out on his own into the big wide world. A world where I will not always be there to guide him through difficult situations.

Hubby always reminds me that it’s an inevitable reality he will have to face sooner or later. All we can do is to help him build up the inner resilience he needs to survive and flourish in this sometimes cruel world. And pray that no matter what comes his way, he will never lose that inner magic to see the beauty and wonder in even the most unlikely circumstances.

So my dear Nathan at four-years-old, this song is for you. I know you might not understand the message in this song for a long while yet, but it’s the song I sing now to you from my heart as I send you out into FOUR…

I HOPE YOU DANCE | LEE ANN WOMACK
Video Source

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

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P.S. Nathan at two, three and three-and-a-half. And more on Nathan’s stories.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Flipping perspectives

You can probably guess that I’m still somewhat in the holiday mode and still trying to catch on various things on my plate. So today I thought I’d direct you over to a friend’s place if you’re after something good to read. It’s not entirely random as it’s actually sort of connected to an earlier post I had written before on the topic of ‘sharing’.

The post I wrote on that topic could be construed as somewhat controversial as I gave my honest viewpoints on the misuse of the term ‘sharing’. I wrote that real sharing should be about collaborating or finding a fair solution that benefits the whole group. But often what happens when we ask a child to share something is that they are forced to give up that item simply because the adult tells them to.

I believe I kept the post pretty factual but perhaps there was still a slightly pessimistic tone to the post simply because my focus in the post was about what we should not do.

Then one of my dearest friends did the unexpected. Although if you know her, it’s actually not very unexpected for her to do what she did.

She pondered over some of the thoughts I shared and turned it completely around.

Simply put, it’s not just about what we should not do. But what what we should do.

I tend to be someone who is all about upholding justice and championing rights. Which are not wrong of course. Justice should be upheld. Rights should be protected--my own, as well as others who need it.

But I realise that there is also another higher calling. Beyond justice, codes of conduct and fair play.

And the answer is: LOVE.

Love that compels us to give up our rights, advantages, dominion, priorities, benefits, dibs for the sake of another.

Beside it, all other things seem hollow and pale in its light.

So please read my friend’s post. Especially if you have read my earlier one on the whole sharing issue. The flip side to everything I wrote about.

by the waters: Cast your love
WAITINGINTHEWATERS.BLOGSPOT.COM | BY IRENE SUN

 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

About Time

Happy new year, peeps!

Hope you all had an exciting or memorable start to 2015…

I meant to write a fun post to kick off the new year on my blog. But as I was tinkering around on my laptop and letting random thoughts fly through my head, this was the word that stopped me in my tracks…

T I M E

I think of all the crazy things I had decided to throw myself into last year, this has been the most precious thing I had been able to gain. And no, I did not manage to squeeze out an extra magic hour each day through some supernatural means.

I believe we all trade different things in our lives in exchange for more of this precious commodity to share with the people we hold closest and dearest to our hearts. Money. Sleep. A clean house. Road safety. Or even that new book/movie/game/TV series that has you at the edge of your seat.

When I decided to launch into this new venture of making a drastic change in my career to become a family day care educator, I knew that I would be giving up a lot of comforts. Money for one thing. Regular coffee and lunch dates with girlfriends and the hubs. Corporate achievements. My sanity.

I didn’t fully realise at that time, that I was trading all that in for the most precious commodity of all. TIME.

At my age, the preciousness time probably hasn’t fully weighed on me compared to people older than I am. I have used up a fair amount of it already in my childhood, my teens and twenties. But I still have a good amount of it left under my belt.

But I do feel a sense of the deep weight of it as it slips by in every new smile, every new word, every new development I witness in my children. I feel it behind each wry grin, each tear, each whispered confidence and each kiss shared with my dear hubs.

My decision last year has not come without some difficulty. But I believe I can say that I have come away richer than before. Rich in the time I am now able to spend at home with my children and to be able to be a witness to their lives each and every day. It feels almost indulgent to have so much of it to spend with them all day.

But with this newfound wealth of time available to spend with my family, it can also be something I can easily take for granted. To forget the preciousness of it and laze around or squander it away because I seemingly have so much of it to spend with them anyway to fritter away.

So with that thought in my mind, this will be my wish for the new year… To appreciate the richness of the time I now hold in my hands to spend with my family and aim to make every moment count. I don’t have to spend every single waking moment on them. Some of it still needs to go to my other personal interests, friends, family, hubby… and me of course. But whatever I choose to spend it on, it’s about making it count.

So to you I wish the same gift. TIME. Whatever your situation, I hope that your circumstances always allow you to be able to spend as much of it on the people and things that mean the most to you.

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever. - Horace Mann at Lifehack QuotesHorace Mann at http://quotes.lifehack.org/by-author/horace-mann/

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset,
two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes.
No reward is offered for they are gone forever.
Image Source