Love Your Family Challenge: My Second Daughter, my sun

Unlike my eldest who is calm and easy, this little munchkin is a ball of energy and sunshine. She is the one I go to in time of stress and when I need some “soul lifting”. Always smiley and cheerful, one look at her and all my troubles melt away.

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My little warrior has always been an independent, happy-go-lucky and easy baby. She was born under water via water birth, so the whole birth process was very gentle and calming. I’m not sure if it’s coincidental, but compared to Big Warrior’s first month as a baby where it was filled with cries and discomfort (due to stiff neck and some not-so-gentle physiotherapy, not to mention the inexperienced parents trying to adhere to silly parenting books), Little Warrior mainly nursed and slept peacefully through the first year. She was always smiley and giggly. Her trademark sunshine smile melts hearts wherever she goes.

I’m blessed that both my daughters adore each other. Little Warrior looks up to Big Warrior and constantly wants to follow her every step. As a result, this cheeky little bubba began walking at 9 months of age, all because she wanted to chase and follow her big sister around.

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I don’t know what I did to deserve such wonderful and amazing children, but I must have done something right. I can only hope that I can be the mother that they deserve.

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How can you not go “awwww” with this face?

I love you, my little sunshine. May you grow up happy and healthy always.

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Love Your Family Challenge: My Eldest Daughter, my moon

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There’s never been a day where I don’t count my blessing that Big Warrior is my daughter. Since the day she was born, she has consistently brought joy and love to the family.

Like the moon, she is calm and reserved by nature. Whenever the day gets overwhelming and fast-paced, all I have to do is to be in the presence of my eldest and my stress level decreases almost immediately. When I get too far ahead of myself, she helps keep me grounded and brings me back to planet earth. She brings much needed peace to my life, something that I love so much about her. As her father puts it, she is like an antidote to our stressful lives.

Having said all that, our parent-daughter journey was not an easy one. She was never the typical child. She wasn’t those bubbly giggly babies, she never really smiled. She had fears. A LOT of fears. Like, she had a fear meeting strangers, she feared the bath, she feared being away from the boobs, she feared anything that involved touching her head, etc. It was never an easy journey trying to appease the public perception that babies should be passed around, or that babies loved “peekaboo” games. I had to endure criticism from people, including some family members, that my child isn’t well taught or that my parenting skills were questionable. As a first time mom, simple criticism like that strikes hard. But luckily, with the ever supporting husband, I pulled through. Fast forward 4 years and the help of alternative healing, she’s now a strong, happy and cheerful child.

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I’m forever grateful that she is my firstborn, because she turned a new mother who doubted her parenting skills, into a strong confident lioness who is unafraid to protect her cubs in anyway possible.

Thank you for being my daughter, and thank you for being such a wonderful 姐姐 to your little sister. I will do my best to make your growing years as happy and positive as possible.

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Love Your Family Challenge: My Husband, my universe

I rarely participate in those Facebook sharing activities or challenges, but somehow this one struck a cord. I thought it’d be meaningful for me to keep a copy in my blog as well.

So…. I’m meant to post photo(s) of my family for 7 days to celebrate Family Love. And naturally, my first post is dedicated to my soul mate, my husband, my universe.

There’s a reason why he’s always the first one I thank or think of when it comes to “giving-thanks-to-those-who-made-a-difference-in-my-life” kinda thing. He surpasses everyone and anyone, simply because he is the only one who has really taken time and effort to love me for who I am, and not what he hopes me to be.

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He’s been there through my emotional ups and downs, and stood by me even when I wasn’t the easiest or nicest person to be around with. Years of unresolved and bottled up feelings are never easy to let go, but he never once gave up on me. Instead, he has always encouraged me to be better, and to learn to just, live and let live. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it is more manageable and doable with him around.

He is supportive of everything that I choose to do, even when it goes against the norm, like going into the water with me during my water birth session with #2.

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He makes parenthood and marriage joyful and satisfying because he’s hands on, and never thinks of himself above me. He treats me with equal respects as I do him. I’m not saying that our lives are perfect. There are times when we argue or have bad days, but he always make sure it doesn’t go unresolved before the night is over, and apologises first (sometimes) even when it’s not even his fault.

I could go on and on with this. But I’m not going to, because I’m not here to persuade anyone else to agree with me as to how awesome he is. As long as he knows that he is loved and appreciated, that would be all that matters.

I’m forever grateful to have found my soul mate this lifetime. I would be blessed if fate brings me back to you for all the other lifetimes to come. I love you hubby and thank you for being my universe, holding me up whenever I need you.

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The best decision I ever made, was to say “Yes, I do”

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*Pre-wedding image credit: Daren Chong Photography

I’m no Tiger Mom, and that’s okay

This particular article below was taken from Jacq SunYoga’s Facebook page:

 

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Parents, do read this.

My third son Jack has Sensory Integration Disorder, which is on the autistic spectrum. He went to a school that pushed him to go to University, though I fought with the head of sixth form on many occasions, telling him that Jack went to school for the socialisation and sports, not damn A’s. Anyway, Jack was influenced and wanted to go to University (because everyone else was).

I tried to make everything as smooth as possible for Jack. During exams, I made sure he had good breakfast, I made sure there was petrol in his car, I made sure he knew what he was supposed to revise, and I made sure he knew the time and date of every exam.

He scraped enough grades to get into a second rate University back in the UK.

And guess what? Because I was not there for his first year finals exam, he missed a crucial paper. And then he went on a downward spiral after missing one paper. To stay on the course, he would have to repeat the whole first year again. He dropped out, demoralised.

I had to spend a year rebuilding him and put him back on track. Today, he works for the Haywards Group and earns a six figure salary doing a job he loves without the degree that his school pushed him into just so that the school looks good on the league table. I unfortunately played my part and became a helicopter parent in Jack’s case.

Helicopter parenting does not work. Because what happens when you stop? And when will you stop? When your child is 18? 21? 25?

My 16 year old should’ve been in an exam this morning but we last saw her on the football pitch at 9.30am. Maybe in her infinite wisdom she has decided not to sit the paper. Who knows but she.

If you want to see Jack’s work, go to this website. He is the one who does the house designs.

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Reading Jacq’s post on education prompted me to jot down my own feelings toward this subject.

 

Many people ask me why in the world would I put my children into Waldorf, my answer is simple. Mainstream education interferes with their learning. I’m no Tiger Mom, my children don’t need to know their ABCs by age 3, nor do they need to know programming by age 8. They only need to know the joys of learning, without social and peer pressure.

 

Why not let them be children? Let them climb trees, walk on balance beams, draw with a stick on the sand, or water the garden. There’s always something interesting to learn from these simple activities – watching that praying mantis camouflage among the leaves, putting your hands out can help balancing easier on a small plank, a shorter stick is easier to draw with than a ultra long stick, water helps the plant grow, etc.

 

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Learning doesn’t have to come from books. Learning comes from the heart, it comes from what you see, hear and feel around you. There’s always something to learn about anything, anyone, and anywhere.

 

I came from a typical “mainstream” life. That includes schooling, social life, and well, life. But I won’t talk about social life and life in this post, I’ll leave that for another day. I went to mainstream education, had tuition (thankfully not all the time), studied enough to pass through all my subjects. Key word here being studied. Because quite frankly, I never really understood what I was studying. It wasn’t a requisite. I wasn’t encouraged to make sense of it, I was only programmed to memorise what I’m suppose to “learn” in order to pass my exams. It was peer pressure that I went on to Science Stream, because you were considered “smart” if you were in it. Once my exams were over, I would literally forget about them. Looking back, what was the point of learning my algebra, history, geography really? It’s something I never understood.

 

It is because of my own educational experience that has led me to parent my kids differently, to show them that there is a different route in life that they could take. They need to know that there is always a choice when it comes to life. Mainstream schooling doesn’t allow that. There is no choice. You either excel or you fail, and the ones in between just get through life doing what they hate, but don’t have the courage to pursue what they are truly passionate about.

 

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I’m no helicopter parent either. Because if I was, Big Warrior wouldn’t be attending Waldorf, where she gets to jump on muddy puddles, plant gardens, climb trees, bake bread, and draw on the pavement with chalks. I’d be too worried about the dirt, the height, the lack of academia. But I’m not, so we’re good. Soon, Little Warrior will follow suit. I want them to enjoy the process of learning, to know that there’s more to learning than just text books. They learn how plants grow by actually witnessing the growth process from seedling to plant because they were the ones who dug the hole and placed the seed in to the ground. They learn how they reap what they sow. They learn that it’s okay to share their harvest, because they have the necessary skills and knowledge to source and grow more. They learn that it’s not the end of the world if there’s no TV or iPads, because Waldorf children are not encouraged to have any gadget or technology time during Kindy and Primary years. The earliest they can use a computer for their home work is when they reach high school. As a result of all these, my children are never dependent on technology to keep them entertained (they do get to watch movies on the weekends but they never demand for it), and they can be just as happy just playing in the garden looking for dandelions. For that, I’m forever grateful.

 

 

I get that I’m no tiger mom, and that’s okay. I don’t seem to have that urge to push my kids academically at this point (or ever, but we’ll see). I’m not so much of a helicopter parent as well, and that’s also okay. I let them fall, cry and pick themselves up, because the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and they need to understand that. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in between, somewhat of a lazy parent. LOL. I let them figure out how to entertain themselves when I’m busy, but I also try to spend time with them when I can. We co-sleep because I’m too lazy to sleep train them, and because I believe that they will eventually move out into their own room in due time. I still breastfeed my 18 month old because I’m lazy to wean her. I let them eat by themselves even though my Little Warrior still makes a mess most days because I’m too lazy to chase her around to feed her.

 

Being a lazy mom is tiring, and adhering to Waldorf teachings can make it even more tiring, because I can’t rely on the idiot box to babysit my kids. But this combo works for me, and the results are so worth it. My girls are happy, and that’s the most important. They are blossoming in their own way, and they are doing it beautifully.

 

Having said all that, as tiger parents, helicopter parents, lazy parents, we all just want what’s best for our children. If it feels right to you, and your children are thriving, then you’re on the right track. Have faith in your judgement and your parental instinct. After all, it is our human instincts that have allowed our species to survive for so many years.

 

 

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The Mother’s Day I was hoping for

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

 

I’ve been slacking in the updates department, but I reckon that the blog deserves an update on this special day.

 

I woke up today not expecting anything, really. Because really, my everyday life isn’t so bad that I had to wish for something to only get it during special occasions. But I was silently hoping for, I don’t know, maybe just some peaceful moments alone where I could put my feet up and read my book? Or maybe some breakfast in bed? Or just a whole day lazing in bed doing nothing? You know, a day where I don’t have to nag at the 2 little monsters running around the house, a day where I don’t have to crack my brain (or what’s left of it) to find the answers to Big Warrior’s questions about life and what not. lol.

 

However, in reality, I woke up to 4 not-so-tiny-anymore arms around me and a snoring husband in bed. Ah, life is so blissful… not. As I was contemplating waking up to prepare breakfast for the household, Little Warrior opened her eyes… and smile. Darn those motherly hormones, who would have thought one could be willed to do anything with just a simple smile in the morning?

 

We chatted for a while, her blabbing really, and me asking her what she wants to eat and telling her about what today is. She then decided to sit up and pointed at the other 2 sleeping beauties and proceeded to wake them up. Little did I know that the husband was actually semi-awaked, observing us through his tiny slit of groggy eyes. He smiled when I looked his way, and wished me Happy Mother’s Day and told me he’s going to cook me breakfast. I looked at him, happy that he was trying to start the day off doing something special for me. I didn’t need any superficial gifts, I could have gotten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and he knew that (thanks to Gary Chapman’s 5 Languages of Love, we managed to identify what clicks for us). Mine were words of affirmation, acts of services and physical touch. A simple greeting, an offer to prepare brekky, and a hug would have been just what I needed.

 

So after brushing my teeth, I headed out to the kitchen to be greeted by this, and a hug. My 3 love languages officially checked for the day.❤

 

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It might not seem special to anyone, because it’s really just scrambled eggs, but it was special to me. You see, my husband makes the yummiest scrambled eggs in the whole wide world. And this time, he was trying to make it into a shape that resembled a rose (he admitted to checking out a few youtube channels yesterday night lol), how sweet is that?❤❤❤  Darn wifey hormones, oh wait, is there even such a thing as wifey hormones? Gah.

 

To be very honest, it would have been a major challenge if he needed to come up with something every special occasion. He already cooks half the nights in a week, he’s the breadwinner of the house, he helps me with the kids every day, he lets me buy whatever I fancy (to our budget of course) even when it’s not Mother’s Days or birthdays. So really, I’ve been lucky to have been showered with love most days of my married life. Thank you hubby, I know I don’t say it often enough.

 

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The day proceeded as usual, with an extra small treat in the evening. A specially prepared Young & Living Peace & Calming infused bath by the hubs, while he took care of the kids’ bath and sleep time. He even found time to help finish off my left over laundry.❤

 

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Today was perfect. Even though it wasn’t much far off from our usual routine, because I still had to nag the kids to pack away their toys, tell them to be nice to each other, prepare dinner, do the laundry… But it was still perfect. Plus, Big Warrior has been going on with her current phase of “Mommy-ah! *waits for me to look at her direction* I love you!” the whole day, so it was kinda sweet. Annoyingly funny, but sweet. I know I don’t show it enough as well, but my little darling rascals, if you ever get to read this post 10 years down the road, know that even though mommy might seem mean at times, I still do love you very very much.

 

 

Now the kids are sleeping, and I walk into the room thinking, what was I really hoping for on Mother’s Day? And then I realised, the most ideal Mother’s Day, would actually to have a day like every other, where I get to spend the day (and night) with my beautiful family, because deep down, that’s all that really matters.

 

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Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

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Big Warrior proudly holding her gigantic Easter egg painting, and her Easter egg basket, complete with a hand-made chick and an egg. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am that she’s attending a Waldorf school. The educators there make everything so meaningful and precious. They take the time to explain to the children the meaning and origins of Easter. It’s not about egg hunting, or chocolate bunnies, their school is never superficial in that sense. It’s about rebirth and new life. So instead of making the kids go on an egg hunt, they plant new seeds and bulbs around their school yard, and give blessings on new life. Each new plant carries new life from within, and slowly and steadily, it grows onto full blossoms in Spring. Doesn’t that sound much more meaningful than just gobbling down chocolate eggs?

And then there are the yummy hot cross buns, a symbol that represents the rock which was rolled across the opening of the cave in which Christ’s body was laid. The recipe for the buns are essentially Sultanas mixed into a bread dough, which relays the bread and wine aspect of the Last Supper. I’m not a Christian, nor am I a religious person, so I’ve always known Easter to be just a day for chocolate binging. LOL. But now knowing what I know, even I can begin to appreciate the beautiful meaning behind Easter.

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If anyone is keen on making some hot cross bun, here’s a recipe from Collette Leenman.

HOT CROSS BUNS

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1 cup slightly warm milk

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups fine wholemeal flour

50g butter

50g brown sugar

1 cup sultanas

Stir the yeast into the milk and add the egg and 2 tablespoon flour. Mix together and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, rub butter into the flour and mix in the sugar, spices and sultanas. Combine this with the yeast mixture and knead well, adding a little more flour if necessary to form a soft dough. Leave in warm place, covered with a damp tea towel for an hour.

Grease an oven tray and divide dough up into buns to place on tray. Leave room between each as they should nearly double in size when baked. Leave for another 10 minutes in a warm place. Make crosses on buns using a white flour and cold water mixture of thick glue consistency, which can be applied with an icing forcer. Bake at 190 degrees C for 15-20 minutes. While still hot, brush with a glaze made from 2 tablespoons of white sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoon boiling water. These buns are best eaten hot.

Overall, it was a wonderful long weekend for us. We’re grateful for friends who’ve made effort to keep us entertained and fed while Duke’s away for work. They’ve helped keep me sane for longer.🙂

And not forgetting a picture of Little Warrior (gotta be fair, hey), waiting patiently outside my shower while I took a quick buffalo rinse. I must say she did look quite comfortable there, don’t you think? LOL.

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Ahhh, what can I say, I’m blessed to have such wonderful children to keep me entertained.

 

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Waldorf and Montessori for Dummies

Many people have been asking me what’s the difference between Waldorf/ Steiner education and Montessori teaching. I’m no expert, but having had a go at both schools before settling down with Waldorf, this is what I know. Obviously there’s more than what I’m about to write, but consider this a summarized version.

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Pic credit: www.morguefile.com
We started Big Warrior’s “schooling” journey at Perth Montessori School when she was about 2, for playgroup. We were there for 6 months before we decided it wasn’t the system for us, well, for Big Warrior. Montessori was very focused on independence. Children were taught to rely on themselves to get their jobs done. They were treated like little adults. Sharing and teamwork were rarely encouraged (I might be wrong, but every time when Big Warrior wanted to play toys with others, the teacher told us everyone would have to wait for their turn, it didn’t seem like they were too keen on children working together). Big Warrior was reluctant to attend playgroup, she didn’t want to stay indoors doing ‘jobs’, she only wanted to go outside to play on the slide, balance beam, bikes, etc. So after 6 months of trying it out at Montessori, we went to Waldorf, which was recommended by a Japanese friend of mine whose siblings attended Waldorf schools in Japan.
When we first went to Waldorf, I never really did much researched on it. All I knew was that it was an alternative system just like Montessori, and they were child-led instead of blindly following the mainstream one-size-fits-all system.
So, first day at a Waldorf playgroup and I could see straight away that this was it. This was the school for Big Warrior. Everything, from the environment to the class setup to the teachers, were exactly what she needed, what every child needed if you were to ask for my opinion. Open space, gentle pastel coloured silks draped around the classroom, vegetable garden to plant their own kiddy crops… So needless to say, we stayed. We stayed alright. And now fast forward 2 years, Big Warrior is in Kindy 5, and she’s blossomed so much under the gentle guidance of her amazing kindy teachers.
Anyways, enough about my opinions. This post is supposed to be about the difference between Montessori and Waldorf. But I thought I’d share a little of my experience of the 2 schools.
So, below is a summary of what I know.
Similarities between the two schools:1. Both respect children as individuals and creative beings.
2. Both believe in protecting children from the stresses of modern life and the overuse of technology such as iPad, computers and television.
3. Both emphasize education as a whole and focuses on spiritual, mental, physical and psychological developments over the orthodox academic curriculum.
4. Both stress the importance of nature and the natural environment of things. such as minimal or no usage of plastic, having their educational activities within a natural surrounding (park or garden), etc.
5. Both systems were banned during the Nazi regime during WWII as they refused to teach the ideology of the state. Their beliefs are that education must be based on the needs of the child, not the state.
6. Both emphasize on a rich variety of art, music, dance and theatre, believing it to be beneficial for a child’s development.

Differences between Montessori and Waldorf:

Academic
Montessori: Children are given the opportunity to do “real work” such as cooking, cleaning, caring for themselves at a very young age (3-6 years old). Academic lessons are also offered, but as something to enjoyed by the children if they choose to participate. It is never required or forced onto the children. The real world is seen as a wonderful creation, therefore, children are introduced to the real world in all its variation beginning at a very young age. The word “work” is used to described the child’s activities instead of “play” because the children are respected as small adults.

Waldorf: Children are kept from academic subjects such as reading and writing until age 7. Academics are thought to be necessary but not especially enjoyable, and is best put off as long as possible so that children are able to explore their creativity and childhood with make-believe, fairies, art and music. The philosophy views play as the work of a young child, and make-believe fantasies of a young child is an integral part of how the teacher works with the child.

Method
Montessori: Children developed in real life situations as they are usually not kept in a group of same-aged peers (3-6 years age span). The teachers provides lessons individually to one child at a time, and often, lessons are given by one child to another. The choice of what to study is solely left to the child, and is guided by the teacher whenever necessary.This form of learning produces high academic level as the depth of concentration of the children is high when focusing on a subject of their own choice. Children also learn to make decisions at an early age. Montessori teachers believe that if children are allowed to follow their interests, they will be able to excel into greater heights.
Waldorf: Children are kept together with peers their own age, and the teacher ideally moving up each academic year with the same children so that he or she becomes the focal point in the child’s learning development. Academic subjects are taught in a more traditional way – teacher speaking at the front, and children sitting at their desks. Activities are often taught and carried out in groups, with the emphasis on art as part of the academic curriculum. Socialisation is an important part of the Waldorf system. Competitive sports and activities are absent in the school curriculum to prevent social bullying.
 Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Education System
 Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori Education System

Do bear in mind that because there are many schools which piggyback on the Montessori or Waldorf name but do not follow the exact teachings of the originator. So be sure to look up the list of real Montessori or Waldorf schools from their official website or contact them to verify before signing your child up to a particular kindy or school.

Sites to visit:
http://www.montessori.edu
http://www.waldorflibrary.org

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