Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Spelling

Jazz's first spelling test - 3 words and 3 letters. Tiger Mom in the making. Roar!

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Rhyming 'at' words

Friday, 8 March 2013

Age up

Another year of aging. Celebrated my birthday with two little ones home and a dinner out. It was my initial intention to stay free on this day; hands off everything, snug in bed till the body feels like moving and no washing or chores. But we know Mothers don't get days off. At least, this is what I would do if I worked. Take a day off work to rest with no distractions.

Well, when birthday falls on a day when the man's at school and 2 little ones are home, it's still much about keeping those hands occupied. Nonetheless, I had a great day bonding with them at home. Due to time zone difference, my Mum called to wish me an early birthday. Simply sweet of her. Spouses here really surprised me. Bel made me a lovely birthday cake, ST got me bath salts, oh such luxury. Yes! We've a bathtub here. HP got me shower cream and body lotion. Thank you ladies for your thoughts! My man got me roses and my favourite cake - Red Velvet cheesecake from cheesecake factory! Oh so yummy!

After having kids, there seemed a greater reason to get cakes and candles for celebration. They love singing birthday songs and blowing that candle out. Always a One candle policy after crossing that 21st mark. Less is better when you age. 

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Lovely thoughts from the man and ladies
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It's the Mummy's day
As I begin to age up each year (The only thing that goes up and not come down), I pray for increased wisdom in parenting the kids and being my man's best helper. Also in hope of aging gracefully each year.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Hiking!

We went hiking at the Pinnacles National Park. Read me right, hiking! So unlike me, not me, not my interest, not my hobby, especially with two little toddlers who don't like using their walking feet and with no usage of carriers. In any case, we took on the challenge with our friends to hike up and down the trail for about 3 hours. It took us about a mile (1.6km) to even reach where our trail should begin. The allocated carpark was full, we had to park at a further alternative. I thought I had conquered the whole Earth after that first mile. I sure need more exercise.

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Uphill! Test of endurance
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Good moments with their walking desires

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We did it!
Js loved being carried most times, I had to constantly use a pack of gummies to reward and recognize every good effort. Whatever ways that spare our arms, is worth a try. We packed and had lunch with the nature, which I think the view was breathtaking. Air smells fresh and weather was perfect. Neither too sunny nor cloudy, the cool weather pampered us well. 

Walking is a brisk with co-operative toddlers. But walking against gravity with 'a sack of rice,' it really is a test of stamina and endurance. I'm glad Jare fell asleep only when we made our way down, so much easier than carrying a sleeping child up. And for the next few days, my body, legs and arms ached like it never had such workout for the longest time ever.

We did it with two 'huggable' kids!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Rainbow cookies

Last Friday, Jazz seemed to have woke up on the wrong side of the bed. She woke up throwing a series of tantrums. From not wanting to brush her teeth, change out of her pajamas to rejecting breakfast. My last straw was that breakfast. Despite much coaxes and threats, she took only a sip of milk. I'm rather particular about the kids' breakfast. Breakfast gives them good energy to start a day.

That morning took an unusually long time to get them out of house to school. My patience seems to run out on most rushed mornings. I got mad and trashed her food, sent her to school on an empty stomach. I was fuming mad the whole morning, yet felt guilty about not handling this in an amicable manner. I mean how much more patience do I have on every rush morning. Deep breaths. 

Well, to redeem myself a little, I made some rainbow cookies for her. Jazz loves the rainbow, so do I. Seeing it in the sky reminds us of God's covenant, simply beautiful! I recalled seeing some rainbow cookies recipe and so I attempted for her. It was pretty time consuming, because of the shaping and layering. As if I had a play dough session. Glad it turned out decent and caught the kids surprised. In fact, Jare was more of my cookie fan than Jazz.

Recipe adopted from Hungry Rabbit with modification:
Ingredients
2 large egg
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest, from 1 lemon, freshly grated
2-1/2 sticks (10 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon large egg white, lightly beaten
Food colouring: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
(I used McCormick food colouring, I would think Wilton might turn out better. I mixed blue and red to get purple. Red and yellow to get orange)

Directions
1. Bring eggs to boil over high heat to get hard boiled eggs. Separate yolks from white. Discard white or eat it. Press yolks through mesh strainer into small bowl.

2. Add sugar and lemon zest to a bowl. Use finger tips and rub the mixture till like pale yellow sand.

3. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar mixture, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla, and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer; add flour and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

4. Divide dough in six equal portions. Add food coloring to each piece and mix to achieve desired colour. Roll each portion, into a long strip about 3 x 11 inches, 1/4 inch thick. Wrap each strip with a plastic wrap and chill until firm for about an hour.

5. Heat oven to 180 degree Celius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Line baking sheets or tray with parchment paper. Stack the colourful dough up. Purple first, and brush with egg white on top. Then blue dough on top of purple and brush with egg white. Repeat with remaining in the order of green, yellow, orange and red. Trim edges and slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rectangles. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. (If dough is too soft when slicing, chill another 20-30 minutes.)

6. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies.

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Rainbow cookies!
And last week while the man and kids were washing the car, they created a rainbow. It got them excited!

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Water + Sunlight = Rainbow
Little children are like rainbow - Colourful, beautiful and cheers one up! Spread rainbow love to all the little ones around us.

Friday, 1 March 2013

School is Fun

It's been a week since we sent both little ones to a full 4 days preschool. One of the common reason daycare or preschool was 'invented', is for working parents who need care for their kids while at work. I'm here, not working and sending both kids to a full day school. Forgiving if it is part day school, but full day?!! My defense is that, the school we set heart on didn't have that option. Was I in the right state of mind or have I surrendered? I was all prepared to home school them. It was a decision that swarmed me into a sea of emotions - Guilt, Relieved, Happy, Unhappy and mixed!.
  • Guilty that I'm exchanging more of those 'Me, Myself and I' moments, at the expense of them going to school. 
  • Relieved that my home duties are lighter and more paced out.
  • Happy that I've more time for stuffs that are challenging to do with 2 kids around. The 'to do' list goes on and on
  • Unhappy that quantity time with the kids are greatly reduced. I give up more opportunities for bonding. I'm not bringing home income, yet I'm spending more on those fees. How unthinkable. 
I'm still trying to balance those emotions. Perhaps making up with meaningful activities I can have with the spare time. It seemed like preschool, to me, is a place to help mums keep that peace of mind - sanity! In fact, I could have made myself a little better by keeping Jare home, and only send Jazz to school, since the elder has greater learning capacity. And thinking of half the fees I can save, it was an attractive option. But, I wasn't sure how fair or unfair this will be to one or the other child. I know Jazz loves school and Jare cries his way in. Is it more fun to be learning and socializing in school or to stay home with Mummy? What affirmed our decision was Jare's increasing capacity to learn and pick up more skills for having turned two. He needs some discipline beyond home as well.

Not that I didn't enjoy my role as a full time stay at home mum, I love doing the occasional arts and crafts, teaching academics and cooking all meals for them. And there are definitely 'I hates' in a SAHM's life too. Just that, I would love to have more personal time, especially in this beautiful place we are in. Being really truthful about this. Although it seemed kinda too much freedom now, I'm loving it. Good moments don't last, it's back to reality when we get back to our sunny country. Well, I still get great moments with the kids in the morning and evening, even much more precious than before. Separation definitely makes one's heart grow fonder.    

Nonetheless, I think it's important to drive guilt out and feel comfortable about sending them to school. My 10 comforting reasons are:

1. Social skill is what they can't pick up with me
2. The space, tools and environment for their physical and mental development is probably school
3. Peer pressure can make learning effective and fussy eaters less picky
4. There are better opportunities and new experiences to exploring art, music, language, group and individual play, indoor and outdoor play. I like it that they learn Spanish here.
5. The culture and varying ethnic is a good experience for them. Globalization!
6. Some days, when the man gets off school early. We get to date. Build marriage!
7. 'Me' time can keep a Mum sane and logical.
8. Rest! Absolutely important in keeping a Mum wise and uplifted.
9. Time for hobbies - Make a mum happy and relaxed
10. Education is an investment, never too early! Academic purpose.

I'm must be thankful for the payer of their school fees, my man, for this co-decision in sending them to school. This move relieved a great part of my various roles. I can now do things peacefully (Day home's really quiet now), do chores without breaking in between to resolve squabbles and prepare decent dinner without a clingy child. Awesomeness!

And during the first week they went school, I celebrated freedom. Ops! Had tea with fellow spouses, breakfast and shopping with my man! Life didn't seem so easy before. We know how occupied our hands are when we go out for meals or shopping with our little ones - "Don't touch, don't run, it's breakable!" I treasure separate peaceful moments with my man. 

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A really good tea and good breakfast with no lap sitting kids.
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Top left: First day, and he was really moody. He rejected goldfish crackers for the first time! Bottom left: Snow play! Center: Their uniforms - Walking advertisement for the school. Top right: Story time with Big sis and little bro together. Right bottom: Love the neatness of their classrooms


As I enter into the weeks of freedom, I've laid out plans and actions to make the best out of my time, for my family, for personal and for the people around me! It's now all about walking the talk, and not just talking the talk.