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DIY Toys

Contrary to popular belief, my decision to become a family day care educator is not a goldmine career choice that rakes in a ton of money.In fact, now that I have become my own small business owner, I’ve had to become more mindful to set my clear budgets for my own resources and programs. Which is really hard when there are so many beautiful images of gorgeous play set ups and environments constantly floating around Instagram.Many times I’ve found myself hovering over the purchase button of beautiful (and expensive) Grapat wooden toys and Grimm’s rainbows. But then reality kicks in and I have to remind myself of the public liability insurance due, and the upcoming first aid training renewal, and the levy for the new web based attendance record system being rolled out, and our microwave oven that recently died… the list goes on and on.So instead, I roll up my sleeves, turn to browsing my Pinterest board to see what other clever and resourceful parents and educators have done in similar…
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It's November.
That end-of-year holiday feeling is back in the air once again.
The kids helping daddy put up the Christmas tree and talking over plans to celebrate Nathan's birthday in December.
I know I say this every year... but I just have to say it again...
They have grown so, so much.

Somehow I feel it especially even more so over this past year.

Their growth rate seems to have doubled, even tripled these past few months. 
Like beanstalks in the night.
All arms and legs.
"It's like they shot up overnight!" I lamented wistfully to hubs one evening as I observed their elongated legs dangling down, almost touching the floor, while they scrambled up on their daddy in rambunctious bear hugs.

Nevertheless, throughout their supersonic growth rate, they both still retain the same sweet spirit and golden souls. Their smiles still shine through easily and nearly everyone they meet can still almost taste the sweetness on their lips in their cheery hellos and howdy-dos.

Growth Mindset

Around one year ago, we kicked off operation 'No More Thumbs' with Nathan. We had a whole program in place with various tools and materials, charts and a prize. For all intents and purposes, the whole thing started off swimmingly well.
So where are we now one year on? Has Nathan succeeded in kicking the habit completely? Is he, for all intents and purposes, one hundred percent 'cured'? Well, actually yes! But we had our share of bumps and knocks along the way. And I've learnt a few things as a parent while were working through this.
So as I was saying, everything was going swimmingly well at first.
We had a 30-day target of no-thumbs chart (I figured it takes 21 days to break a habit and added some extra buffer for good measure). For each zero-thumbs day, we put a stamp on the chart to track his progress. It had to be a continuous 30 days, so for any fall backs we had to reset the chart and start over.
The first week was tough going with several resets. But after …

Having a blast together

With the baby years now well behind me, some have wondered if most of the super fun hands-on part of parenting are now behind me as well.
It's true that babies and toddlers are oodles of fun. Everything is so new. Even every meal time can be an adventure. Each day is a series of new experiences lived vicariously through the eyes of a brand new human being discovering the world around them for the first time.
But really. The fun times are only just beginning.
In the early years, it was primarily all about learning what it means to be Human. What can my hands do, touch, hold, feel? How fast can I crawl, walk, run, jump? What is this new taste? What is this new smell? What are all these feelings inside me that I cannot contain? What are these sounds I make that generate meaning and intentions?
Now with most of that basic stuff established, comes the fun part of learning new Ideas.
And it's been an absolute blast.
We've already had a taste of it with the all books we've b…

Magical six

July is the month when my baby girl moves up a notch in her years. Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you...

Six years old. We celebrated the occasion with a cosy little blue narwhal pyjama party theme.
I went a bit crazy with the blue butterfly pea flower serving a small array of blue hued food and drink. The pièce de résistance of the night was the awesome blanket fort complete with fairy lights for all the kids to snuggle under while they watched a movie.

It's funny how kids grow up overnight. One minute they're a tiny, diminutive little creature... all giggles, coos and silly sounds. And then the next moment, you see it happening before your very eyes. "I almost cried, mummy... but I remembered my breathing exercises using my belly"."Today at recess I was sad because 'M' did not let me play with her and 'A'. But you know what? I can find other new friends to play with!""Thank you for helping me learn this, mummy." (this last o…

Learning to say good-bye

Our featured book this week is 'Owl Babies'
(by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson)
All my kids from babies, to toddlers and preschoolers just love, love, love this story. Even my two big school aged kids still enjoy listening to this story.
The very first time I picked this story up to read to my kids, I thought it was such a plain and simple story. Three baby owls missing their mummy... waiting, waiting, waiting for her to come back. And when she finally comes back, everyone is happy again. That's it. That's essentially the plot. I wondered why the children were so eager to listen to this simple story so many times.

Was it simply the three cute little baby owls in the story?


Then just last week we welcomed another new little baby to the family*. It's been a rocky start, as it usually is with most children getting used to a new environment. All the other children were quick to point out whenever baby was crying and feeling sad.

Why is baby crying? Why i…

Farewell to another remnant of the baby chapter

Last week I bid a final farewell to this remaining remnant from the baby chapter.
This was only half of the remaining cloth nappies in my collection. The first half had already been sold off a couple of years back. These remaining ones were the top favourites which my sis-in-law initially wanted to try out. When it didn't work out my brother asked me if he should toss them out instead. Throw out my beautiful collection of rainbow-hued minks??? How dare he even suggest such a thing!!!
So this remaining stash finally found it's way back home via personal family courier services (i.e. overseas family visitors).
Nathan and Grace were of course curious about the colourful contents of the package holding the stash. They stroked and fingered the soft plush texture of the material and asked me what all the colourful things were.
"Nappies", I told them.
"Yes... cloth nappies."
"For babies???"
"Yes. You two actually. These are t…

Poetry and Prose

There was a quote I had read somewhere some time ago that went something like… “The first child is poetry, the last child is prose”. I don’t think this entirely true. Poetry and prose are both so intertwined in life that it’s impossible to draw the line between them.

But here’s an anecdote that made me wonder…
The other day (5 y.o.) Grace came home excitedly bursting to share some new mind-blowing information she learnt at science… “Do you know how rain is made, mummy?” (How, baby?) “Okay, let me tell you… first the sun shines on all the rivers and lakes until tiny drops of water floats up to the sky… and then the drops of water stick together to make clouds… then when more and more water floats up, and then the clouds get fatter and fatter and FATTER until it BURSTS and falls down to the ground, and that is RAIN! Isn’t that amazing?” (So amazing!) Compare that to this whimsical fancy from (8 y.o.) Nathan… “Mummy, do you know what I think? I think when it rains, it's because a drop…


So we are now into the third week of the school term. This is the first Friday when the quietness and solitude in the house has finally descended fully upon me.

The first couple of Fridays still felt rather busy, running around to settle various jobs and errands and I had some tradies in to do some work around the house like carpet cleaning and house painting.
But today, after dropping the kids off at school, I headed back and for the first time in over eight years, have come back to an empty and silent house. I realise that every single day, I’ve always had at least one child or baby in the house, from Nathan, to Grace, and all my day care kids.
Even on my Fridays off when Nathan was at school, Grace has always been my faithful little companion. But she too has flown the nest and is at full time school now.
The stillness and silence feels almost heady.
I am almost not sure what to do with myself actually.
But I welcome the quiet like a breath of fresh air.

New year jottings

Phew! It’s been such a busy January! Back around Christmas time, the summer holidays seemed to stretch endlessly for weeks ahead. And now, we only have a couple more days before the new school term begins for the year.
Here are a few jottings of what we got up to this past month…
Summer Play
As usual the days flew by with lots of fun play and activities. We cooled off with plenty of water play in the backyard. We hung out at the library to take advantage of the free air-conditioning and their line-up of school holiday programs, which included stroking a giant cockroach and wrapping a live snake around our shoulders.
Meal Plan Kits A new thing we tried out this month was a meal plan kits (i.e. those companies that provide conveniently packaged recipes and ingredient kits). I stumbled across a 40% off promotion and I decided to give it a go. It was also a nice and easy way to transition back to the cooking routine after our holiday. Both the kids were happily involved in following the re…

Everything is Awesome!

One more dawn… One more day… One day more!Here we are at the brink of 2019.We closed out 2018 with a family soiree in Legoland—our big birthday surprise for Nathan and Christmas present for both the kids.Will they remember every single detail of this epic holiday for always?Probably not.In a few years, the crystal clear mental images and vivid memories would have faded away to fleeting glimpses of pictures associated with pleasant feelings.What’s left behind, hopefully, and deeply embedded in their psyche, is the love and connection we shared as a family through this experience. View this post on Instagram Everything is AWESOME... When You're Living Out A Dream {holidaythrowback@legolandmalaysia}A post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Dec 28, 2018 at 8:25pm PST “Everything is awesome,
Everything is cool when your part of a team,
Everything is awesome,
When you're living out a dream.”
Ready… Set… and let’s GO for another awesome year in 2019!

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