The shittiest Mothers’ Day, and why this too shall pass

Did the title of the blog catch your attention? Good, because that’s NOT the content of this blog post. LOL. But it is, however, a post for Mother’s Day. It’s a special day, so I thought it deserves a special once in a blue moon post. And just a heads up, things were honestly a little shitty, but definitely not the shittiest. Hahahaha

Not that I don’t enjoy blogging anymore, I do, but I can’t exactly justify why I would want to work my brain cells more when I could actually maybe perhaps hopefully get a tiny weeny bit of shut eye for that 30 minutes, which is how long I hope it will take me to finish this post.

 

The girls had a playmate over for dinner so they are quite entertained at the moment. Phew! So while I peacefully nurse Littlest Warrior to sleep in my room, I thought why the heck not post an update on my blog. I really have no idea how the blogger moms do it, I mean how do they find time?! Remember, this happened earlier, it’s not happening in real time.

 

So this happened. We had a whole day out visiting a friend, celebrated a birthday, came back to a toddler melt down session (and have no inkling whatsoever what she wanted), and a baby who is just wailing for you to put her to sleep, like right now. BREATHE IN….. ohmmmmmmm… BREATHE OUT. Yes I can totally handle this, no problem. It’s no big deal really, it happens almost every few days, some days more often than the others. So yeah, I got this. This too shall pass.

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Image credit: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/thistooshallpass

 

Soooooo I quickly nursed Littlest Warrior and while she’s groggy, I gently put her down and pray that she would soothe herself to sleep. Hah! Fat chance. But okay nevermind, she did eventually get to sleep after that. So I dash to Little Warrior who is just having a melt down outside the room. She’s just over exhausted from the long day out (I know, bad bad mommy), and she’s just woken up from a nap in the car and is cranky. She’s so worked up that she doesn’t know what she wants anymore. But hey, that’s okay because let’s remind ourselves that toddlers are still trying to control their emotions, and obviously this one here hasn’t exactly found a way to keep it under control yet. But mommy’s here so everything will be okay. Somehow I am calm and collected. I embraced her, and held her for a whole freaking 20 minutes, just staying there silently while whispering “I love you, mommy’s right here” and hugging her tight while she bawled her eyes out. And while I was consoling her, I smelt it. But try telling a cranky toddler that mommy is about to pass out from smelling her poo for 20 minutes, most likely she isn’t going to get it. So I decided to man it up, hugged her for as long as she needed to calm down, and just pray I don’t faint from the pungeant smell that was filling my nose. This too shall pass, I tell myself.

 

20 minutes finally passed and she was just down to hiccups. So I gently told her that we had to go wash her bum bum, otherwise there might be worms there that’s going to crawl into her bum (I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures). So she goes but she still cries, like she wants to go wash it but she’s too cranky to go get it wash. Toddlers, they are really a totally different ballgame from you and I). But we did get there in the end, all washed and cleaned. 😊

 

We go to the room, because we both knew that she was overstimulated, but tired. Of course sleep was the last thing on her mind. So like any sane mother, I gave her a dose of homeopathic Chamomile, and hope that will help her to settle. She whines and wakes her littlest sister up. Great, now I have to place Littlest Warrior on to my chest and hold her with my left arm, and cuddle Little Warrior with the other arm. Half way through trying to put both to bed, she looks up to me with puffy puppy eyes and said, “mommy, can we go out? I want to eat the noodles [Big Warrior] was eating.” So, off we went, out to the dining hall for dinner, and you know what? By the end of it all, my beautiful sunshine of a daughter did finally got herself together. She finished her dinner and went on to play with her eldest sister Big Warrior, and her friend Harry, whom I am so grateful for being with us tonight, because at least he kept Big Warrior occupied. One less kid to worry about 😅😅

 

It might have been the chamomile, it might have been the calm, gentle and constant cuddles that helped. Either way, I’m glad it’s finally past.

 

And that’s how I spend Mothers’ Day eve, folks! And truth be told, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because days like these ground me as a mother. It makes me believe in my capabilities of mothering my children and being superwoman at the same time. Let’s face it, balancing a baby on your chest with one arm, making sure she is suckling the boobs without falling off, and cuddling your other octopus, oops I mean cranky toddler with the other, is no joke  I seriously thought I was superwoman. And to top it off, I was calm! Woo hoo, I’m awesome! *yes I’m feeling crazy at the moment*

 

Don’t get me wrong, most days my warriors are absolutely wonderful and just amazing little human beings. But I just wanted to share with fellow mommies (especially the new moms) some of my moments where not everything is perfect, and that it is okay that your Mother’s Day hasn’t been perfect. Mine wasn’t perfect on so many levels, but it was still perfect to me because although it was kinda shitty, I learned how to love my children even more through these imperfect times. And because I’m at peace with it, it is somehow a perfect Mothers’ Day eve for me. Oh, not to forget, getting showered with gifts from the children helped make it perfect too. ;p

 

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Remember, this too shall pass. They will grow up, move out and have a family of their own. And then, you’d wish to have more shitty days like these than none at all.

 

Well, that’s all for now, happy Mother’s Day to us mom! 😊

 

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P/s: for the record, this post took 38 minutes to finish so please excuse my grammatical errors, as I have no intentions to reread it and amend anything  😝

 

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Side note: Head over to SedapPlace to see how you can support for a good cause this Mothers’ Day in Perth!

Confession of baby wrapaholic

I have a confession: I’m addicted to babywearing. Okay, so maybe I have more than one confession to make. I’m also addicted to the wraps and carriers that come with love for baby wearing.

Although I don’t own as many as I would like, and definitely not as many as other addicts I know from the babywearing mommy groups that I’m part of, I still own more than one, which in my hubby’s opinion makes me an addict. The real addicts probably have close to 20 wraps or carrier per mom, whereas I only have 5. LOL. Yes, Mr husband is rolling his eyes at me now. Apparently it’s a hard thing to grasp as to why I need more than a wrap/ carrier. (What? I need different ones to match my clothes, of course. 😝)

Well, he can roll his eyes all he wants. We both know that he loves babywearing his babies too, so I think that’s why he lets me get away with my babywear indulgence. Haha. (Btw, I love you hubby 😊)

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That;s him babywearing Big Warrior in Taiwan when she was 9 months old

There are are so many reasons to love babywearing. Here’s my top 10:

 

#1. Your baby gets to stay close to you

They don’t call it the fourth trimester for no reason. Infants are meant to stay close to their parents, and be held or carried as often as possible. No, carrying them all the time isn’t going to spoil them (Little Warrior weaned herself off the carrier by 1 1/2). Babywearing gives you the perks of being able to kiss and smell your baby as frequently as you like. Definitely a plus point for me as I LOVE to kiss and smell my babies. It’s like my Rescue Remedy, the act of it calms me down.

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Littlest Warrior in a Soul Sling Lotus Ring Sling at 4 weeks old [Photo credit: Collaboration with Light]

#2. Freedom!

Need to cook dinner? Go to the toilet while at the mall? Go mountain hiking? No worries, just wear your baby and you’re hands free and good to go! I can’t recall how many times babywearing saved my sanity. I’m literally on the go with all my kids because I would go insane staying at home the whole day. I also get to breastfeed while attending to my older kids or when I’m out and about. And the best thing about it, usually no one notices you breastfeeding your child when they’re in a wrap or carrier.

My 5 year old trusty Jumpsac Baby Ballerina Carrier for my all my travels (first pic: Big Warrior at 10 months old in Taiwan/ second pic: Little Warrior at 6 months Perth)

#3. Babywearing = peace & quiet

I can’t begin to tell you how many times people have asked me why I have such quiet and wonderful babies who sleep through dinner dates and shopping trips. I’ll let you in on a secret. Babywearing. Simple as that. The rocking motion that the baby gets from being carried while you walk lulls them to sleep. The tightness of the wrap around their little bodies gives them security and reminds them of their time in the womb where they’re safe and sound. Even if they aren’t asleep, they’d be happily exploring the world quietly and contentedly in the comfort of a wrap.

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Littlest Warrior at 6 weeks old in one of the prettiest wrap I’ve ever owned, the Kokadi Marie Im Wunderland 

#4. Babies are cuter in a wrap

I’ve lost count on the times I get stopped by a passerby commenting on how adorable and lovely my babies look all snuggled in a wrap. Let’s face it. Babywearing turns heads. Babies look almost angelic when in a wrap because they’re calm and happy. And sometimes their lips are “squished” in such a way that make them irresistibly cute, like literally Anne Geddes babies kinda cute. LOL

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Please ignore the less than appetising public toilet background. LOL. But doesn’t Littlest Warrior look simply divine?? *cue in the “aaahhhhhhhh*

#5. Babywearing moms are absolutely beautiful and babywearing dads totally rock

Maybe I’m bias, maybe I’m not. LOL. Babywearing parents look absolutely amazing wearing their babies. More so when you have a beautiful carrier on. I reckon there’s nothing more manly than a babywearing dad. They portray confidence because they aren’t afraid of how society might judge them for sporting a baby wrapped around their chest. And that’s one of the reason’s why I adore my husband. He isn’t one to shy away wearing his babies in public just because the carriers and wraps I have aren’t exactly in manly colours.

 

 

#6. It prevents kidnapping! (and secretly keeps Aunty Petunia from smothering the baby with slobbery kisses)

I’m not kidding with this one. There’s absolutely zero chances of anyone kidnapping your child when they’re literally strapped up onto your body. Well, they technically could still kidnap you, if they were willing to kidnap you together with the baby. But I doubt anyone would want to go to that extend. It makes more sense for them to move to their next little target who might be laying down quietly in a pram. Having a baby wrapped closely on to your chest also helps prevent unwanted hands, mouths, and breaths away from your precious little one. I always make sure to wear my babies when attending family functions and social gatherings. You’ll never know when some inconsiderate person with no common sense might just think it’s okay to carry your babies or kiss them right after a cigarette puffing session. Trust me, even people with a PHD, or doctor’s degree can forget their common sense when there’s a baby involved. *roll eyes*

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My first experience with babywearing was with a Peanut Shell sling. I noticed people tend to be less invasive with the baby when she’s being carried in a wrap/carrier/sling. 

#8. It’s indirectly a workout for your whole body

It’s like doing squats or crunches while standing up. Why? Because you’re constantly carrying weight, and are forced to tuck in your tummy all the time. The weight of the baby is more balanced throughout your body if you wear a carrier or a wrap, compared to a one-sided sling.

 

#9. No bulky strollers. Yay!

Have you ever noticed how much preparation goes into bringing a baby out? Nappies, extra clothes, bottles and what not if you’re using formula or expressed milk, wet wipes, change mats, etc. Those would have taken up the size of a decently huge baby bag. And then there’s the stroller. Once you’ve parked your car, you’d have to open the boot, lug out the stroller, open it, open the car door, take the baby out and strap the baby on. Oh, don’t forget to put a blankie for the baby. Now imagine you’re a babywearing mama. Once you’ve parked the car, you’d open the car door, put on your carrier or wrap (which is really lightweight), and put your baby in. You’re hands free! And you’d have hands to push a shopping trolley for groceries, a task which would prove to be quite difficult for a stroller mom. You can’t well be pushing a stroller and a shopping cart with just 2 hands, can you?

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Little Warrior in my first woven wrap, the Ellevil Paisley in Blue

 

#10. Babies get to see the world from a better angle

Have you ever stopped and imagine how a child feels being so small? If you haven’t, try squatting down while talking to your partner. You’ll understand how belittle and frustrating it gets sometimes to have to constantly look up at someone while talking. That’s how children feel, especially when they are being lectured at or talked to. It makes a big difference if we were to stoop down to their level when talking to them, or bring them up to our eye level when we engage with them. So instead of exploring the world from below (where it’s usually a sea of legs and feet and toes, and dogs), they get to appreciate their surroundings through your angle.

Left pic: My failed selfie with Little Warrior in my Ergo Petunia Picklebottom Carrier/ Right pic: Little Warrior in my Jumpcsac baby

Babywearing has been an extremely amazing experience for me, so much so that I’m now a proud babywearing advocate. It played such an important role in my attachment parenting journey. Gone were the days of insecurity as a first time mom, where I was constantly told to ignore my baby’s cry, and to not hold them so often for the fear of overdependency. Call me a hippie mom for all you like, I now co-sleep with all my children, I wear my newborn all the time, I hold them close whenever they need me to. Babywearing has taught me so much. I’m sure I will still find new things to learn as a parent of three, but one thing I’ve learnt that has proven to be invaluable, is that babywearing is the best thing you could ever do for your child. They get to feel you close and hear your heartbeat, that’s all a newborn wants, and that’s the best gift you could ever give them – YOU.

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Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

They say every school is the same. But I’m here to tell you they’re not. Waldorf stresses on the importance of childhood that it is impossible for outsiders to understand, unless you’re part of the Waldorf family.

Today, we got to experience a ceremony that celebrates Little Miss 5’s birth. The story that was told today, The Rainbow Bridge story, was absolutely beautiful. It is a blessing to be able to sit through the story of self worth, love, joy, and the pure sacredness of a child’s birth.

Once upon a time there was a Little Angel who was up in the heavens and she was very happy there. She looked at the beautiful colours and listened to the lovely music, and that was where she belonged. But one day the clouds parted in heaven and she saw the beautiful green earth below with all the people happily playing and working and she suddenly longed to go there and see what it was like. She saw all the rainbow colours of the earth, She saw butterflies visiting flowers and birds flying in the air. They seemed to be beckoning her. She saw fish swimming in the sea and all the different plants that covered the earth. She saw children climbing trees running and jumping in the meadows and walking through sand and leaves. It was all so beautiful!

So she said to her Big Angel, ‘Please, may I go down to earth now?” But her Big Angel looked at her and said, “No, it is too soon. You must wait a little while yet”. So the child went and was happy and soon forgot about the earth. Then one day again she saw a glimpse of the earth through the clouds again. She saw mother and fathers doing their work. She saw bakers and engineers and writers and farmers. She saw mothers and fathers loving their
children. Then she saw a beautiful mother with love and longing in her heart for a child and she asked her angel now, “May I go to her?”

The Big Angel said, “Soon, but you must prepare to go through the House of the Sun, the Stars, and the Moon, and over the Rainbow Bridge before you can go over to Earth.”

So with determination, the little Angel went to the House of the Sun, where she was given the gift of courage, which was placed under her heart. Next she went to the House of the Stars, where she was given the gift of Wisdom, which were placed under the soles of her feet. Lastly, she went to the House of the Moon, where she was given the gift of twinkle in her eyes, so that she might always see the humour in life.

Nearing the Rainbow Bridge, the Big Angel said to the Little Angel, “The gifts you have received from the Sun, the Stars and the Moon will help you with the work you have chosen to do on the Earth. Now you are ready.”

So the Little Angel travelled over the Rainbow Bridge that stretched forth from heaven to earth, and straight into the strong loving arms of her earth Mommy and Daddy.

She opened her eyes, and mesmerised everyone around her. It was then she received her first gift on earth, the gift of her name – Leann, which ironically means Angel, or one of sheer perfection.

There are many versions to this story. But this is the closest that I could remember from today.

How many of us have had such meaningful birthday celebrations at school? I know I didn’t. I know my husband didn’t. But I’m glad our children will be able to experience one of the best childhood there is on earth through their school, and that is to be surrounded by pure love and people who truly appreciate them as they are.

 

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Starting the day with a smile

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Or maybe not. LOL

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How gorgeous is this cake?

Definitely a birthday to remember…

 

 

Reblog: A day in the life of a Waldorf kid

The Waldorf playgroup on Thursdays morning at West Coast Steiner School starts off like this…
A small playground in the school yard
All classroon signs are beautifully handmade or drawn
We are greeted with a different scent every week – lavender, rose, etc…
All toys are made from natural materials such as wood, logs, ceramics…
Wooden instruments…
Wool and knitted soft toys…
cloth and handmade dolls…
Parents who attend playgroup are required to bring a piece of fruit each to cut them up and share it during morning tea
Playgroup is not only a place to play, but a place to bond and get lots of cuddles
How cool is this little guy’s toenails? LOL
One of our favourite moments of the day, bread making!
Our lovely Playgroup Coordinator, who’s been absolutely amazing at guiding us through playgroup with the Waldorf philosophy
Each parent is also given a task to do for the day
It’s a tradition to light a candle to give thanks…
Morning tea time outside the class garden. Table and stools all made out of wooden logs. How awesome and nature friendly!
Our share of fruits for morning tea… yums!
Little NAPB enjoying her fruits “kampung” style! 😉
 Mommy R & Little R
Thank you for being such an inspiration to me to want to be a super mom
Kids get to take part in daily chores to their interest and abilities
All in all, the Waldorf playgroup is an ideal place for parents to grow together with their children, it’s about connecting with your child as a whole. It’s very cosy and family orientated, compared to a Montessori playgroup, where independent play is more encouraged. Waldorf keeps the children’s mind opened and promotes willingness to learn through their own initiatives, which is what I’m hoping for Big Warrior. We’re already seeing some positive changes in Big Warrior’s attitude towards socialising, hopefully she will continue to blossom and flourish as time goes by.
*This was written in 2014. Fast forward 2016, Big Warrior’s been with the Waldorf School for almost 2 years. And the difference we’ve seen in her is just amazing. She may not be learning her ABCs and 123s in school at the moment, and won’t be till she’s in Year 1, but the little things that been cultivated into her as a person is undeniably valuable. Learning to share her load with house chores, being a team player, showing kindness and empathy, reaping the harvest that she helped sow, etc… these are things that the common public education do not put emphasis on. However, these are the important building block of being a successful human being. I’ve never pushed her to learn academically, but even without me (or the school) teaching her, she’s already well-versed with her alphabets and can count up to 30, which to me is a big surprise because she did her own learning through listening and observing.
I will be forever grateful to have stumble upon a Waldorf Steiner school for my children. My only hope now is that they will cherish their blessings being a Waldorf child and growing up without unnecessary social pressure.
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Reblog: Great Expectations

Most parents have great expectations of their children. But many don’t expect the same from themselves. Ironic, isn’t it? Parents expect their children to treat others with respect, to know how to share, and to act accordingly during playtime and sleep time (and all the time). But the real question is, do you (as a parent) even practice what you preach?

I’m a firm believer that all children are born pure and good. It is under the guidance of their parents that will eventually lead to the flourishing of goodness in their little big hearts. If you practice what you preach, chances are your child will follow suit.

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Don’t just tell a child to be kind, sharing and all things good; show them and lead by example. If you’re always arguing with your partner on who’s right, or snatching toys away from your kid when he refuses to share, you’re indirectly telling him that it is of utmost importance who wins in the end (in an argument or a fight), and taking things by force is an acceptable thing to do when things don’t happen your way.

Actions speak louder than words. When you portray negative behaviour in front of your child, they will learn. And trust me when I say, they will learn FAST. At two years of age, my little munchkin is absorbing her surrounds like a sponge. Children learn best by imitating you, the parent. And whatever that you do on a day to day basis will indirectly be how you mould your child’s character and behaviour. As Clarence B. Kelland said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.”

Don’t expect a kid to know the meaning of respect if you don’t raise him with respect. I’ve seen parents who smack and “publicly humiliate” their kids for the littlest of things. That’s not just disrespecting your child as a small human being, that’s just uncivilised in my humble opinion. You wouldn’t smack your friend over some small issue, but you don’t hesitate to do just that to your own child, that’s just stupid.

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You can’t teach a kid the concept of sharing when the first thing you do is to snatch away his toys when he refuses to share it, with a stranger. Yes, you might be good friends with a fellow mother, but don’t expect your child to naturally be long time friends with her kids. And don’t expect him to be as willing as you are to share, because heck, even you might not be that willing to share your stuff with someone you’ve just met. So no, don’t expect something from your kid when you might not even be able to live up to that expectation yourself. Or like Sarah W Caron says, “Don’t be a hypocrite, mama!

And how do you define appropriate behaviour? Expecting a two year old to sit through a two hour dinner is like expecting a medical student to sit through a mathematic convention. If your kid can actually sit in his high chair quietly and obediently for two hours and not put up a fuss, that’s not normal, I’m serious, you probably need to get him checked. That maybe an appropriate behaviour for an adult, but it is not for a kid. Appropriate behaviour for a two year old is to want to run around, explore and parallel play. That’s normal. And really, even you might want to walk around to socialise with your friends during dinner functions, why would you deny your kid the same benefit?

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Seriously, parents, enlighten me will you? I know many of you aren’t like that, but I have come across some who are. Why in the world would you expect so much for a person who’s been around for less than two years, yet expect so much less for people who’ve been around for at least thirty to forty years? Cos I really don’t understand it at all. Ugh. Bleh.

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Love Your Family Challenge: My little “Nemo”, my shining star

This may come as a surprise to many of you, as we’ve managed to keep it under wraps for the past few months. I guess fate has it that it’s time to share the good news. We were planning for a third baby, but didn’t expect it to happen THAT quickly. Nevertheless, it came as a pleasant surprise.

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Even before it’s birth, “Nemo” (a nickname given by Big Warrior) has already became the family’s shining star, guiding us to greater heights in life. This is the year where daddy will be embarking on a new business venture, mommy will be given more parenting responsibilities, and both the girls will be upgrading from one sibling-hood level to another. It will be an exciting journey ahead for all of us. 

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As if chasing 2 monkeys around isn’t enough fun, I must have been mad (or drunk, or drugged) to agree to a 3rd one. LOL. I’ve never in my life imagined myself having 3 kids, but it somehow happened, and surprisingly, I wouldn’t change it for anything. 🙂 Even though they drive me up the wall at times, they melt my heart and touch my soul most of the time.  

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With the universe (husband), a moon (Big Warrior), a sun (Little Warrior) and a star (“Nemo”) by my side, I think it’s safe to say that my life is officially complete. Hopefully people will stop asking me if I plan to have another one. So I’ll say it again, “Nemo” marks the completion of our little family of 5. Unless of course something unplanned happens…. :p

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 What do you think? Are you team Mustache or team Pouty Lips? 🙂

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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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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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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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