Friday, January 30, 2015

Our Week: All over the place

I will not say we are unschooling, but these days we don't really follow a set plan for the week. I guess its partly because I have not really been planning ahead (which I hope to do more of). I also think the boys seem to do better when things are a little fluid, which helps me to be more focused on working on heart issues, rather than being stressed about head issues. 

Anyway, everything is still being fine-tuned, and things will probably keep changing as we go along. So here's what we've been up to this week:

:: The boys have been playing with their flashlights. These days, they like to draw the curtains, and start exploring. They make shadows, they shine their lights into nook and crannies, they entertain their little brother. 

:: I've been trying to consciously include them more with regards to working in the kitchen. On most days, I'd rather be left alone to cook since its much faster. However, Lil J has been frequently wanting to help, so now I try to let him help out. This week, they made simple "pizza"with me. 

:: As usual, the boys love Skyping with their gramps in Malaysia. These days, Baby J has learnt how to climb up the chair, so all three of them would squeeze together to chat with their gramps. 

:: I've realized that Lil J's idea of art is pretty different from Junior J. The latter loves to draw and doodle, while Lil J has shown little interest in drawing. He's more interested in the mechanics of it all: how ink seeps into the paper, how much watercolours he can mix into his cup of water, how paint feels as he smears it about. He's quite the kinesthetic learner. So now we're trying to include more crafty bits aside from the usual marker/crayon/paint mix. They've been playing with pompoms and glue.

:: Junior J is into this fixing and building phase. He received a couple of small sets of Lego for his birthday, and has been spending part of his free time fixing them up!

:: The baby has been busy too. These days, he's keen to climb and explore everywhere, so I've been giving him more activities to keep his hands occupied. He's been on this crazy learning curve and has been picking up words everyday, like butterfly (buberbye), crocodile (uhohdile), and umbrella (ahbehla). He likes sticking magnets unto the fridge, capping and uncapping containers, and playing with pompoms. He makes quite a mess, but thankfully Junior J helps me to clean up. 

:: Lil J has been busy grabbing things from his baby brother to play. He's still fascinated with water, so I've been closing one eye, and letting him have some time to explore with measuring cylinders. I'm glad he's enjoying our craft sessions more, and hopefully I can think of some building activities that he could do next week!

It's been quite a busy week, and I'm looking forward to the weekend. Have a great one! :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Junior J's 6th: Party packs

I was really stuck with regards to Junior J's party this year, since his requested theme of sea reptiles was a tough one to prep for. In the end, we decided to just go with an "under the sea" theme for the party packs, since his friends probably wouldn't be familiar (or interested) in those sea reptiles anyway.

So Junior J got down to making these sea creatures from Perler beads, using this template to make the octopus, crab and turtle. He then made the fishes by referring to pictures off Perler bead packaging!

We bought kraft paper bags from Daiso (these are made from thicker craft paper, which don't tear so easily), and Junior J painted the bags using watercolours. 

We finally filled them up with various goodies: a fishing set (from Daiso, don't you just love that place!), nougat, sweets and raisins. The fishing set is pretty nifty: there are floating as well as sinking fish. The boys are still happily playing with theirs!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: That dimple

You came on the eve of Chinese New Year eve, after a difficult labour. The first epidural didn't really work, so they ended up giving Mama a second one. You came, looking a little odd, because your head had been squashed for a few hours. You scrunched up your little red face to scream.

And we saw it. That dimple. As you yelled your lungs out, we saw that little dip in your cheek. Such a perfect little dent. And we exclaimed to each other "he has a dimple!", amidst your wails and our exhaustion.

Over these six years, you've grown so so much. You're not tall, but you are definitely skinny. You scoot everywhere, you love to climb up door frames, you help me to carry groceries and flex your thin arms to show me how strong you are. But that dimple? That dimple hasn't changed. It deepens as you furrow your brow when you are angry. It seems to curve and smile, when you laugh, running about and playing with your brothers. Looking at it reminds me of the day you came, the day we were still trying to spring clean the house, the day where it all changed with your arrival.

While that dimple hasn't changed, you have. You've become more open to changes. You no longer freak out each time we change our plans. Your heart is so much bigger: you share with your brothers, you are always so so patient with Baby J, you help us around the house. You're learning to keep trying, even though sometimes thing can be hard. You are still reserved, but you're learning to make friends. You are growing up, and we couldn't be more proud of you.

We thank God for you. As the oldest, we know we sometimes can be stricter when it comes to dealing with you. But whatever the case, remember that we love you as you are, no matter what you do. May you continue to grow to love and honour God. Happy 6th birthday!

Your Papa and Mama

Mum in the Making

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Wanderings: Junior J's 6th

We celebrated Junior J's 6th birthday over the weekend, with a very small party with family, Junior J's godparents, and our church cell group mates. This round, we kept things really simple, as the in-laws were not around (FIL's still recovering back home) and the kids had just recovered from colds. There was just not enough time, so we skipped doing our customary crepe paper wall and also didn't plan any games. 

Junior J had requested for a prehistoric sea reptile theme. I was really stumped at what we could do for his theme, so he helped me to draw and paint a mosasaur and liopleurodon. We just stuck these up as decorations!

We had helium balloons again this time, and just chose a bunch of bright colours and pumped them up ourselves. Apatosaurus helped to hold them down until everyone collected theirs. 

And we had the usual blackboard wall greeting, with some sea reptiles and marine creatures to go with the theme!

I'll save the food and party packs for another post. All in all, we had a lovely time just catching up with friends, and the kids happily played together. 

Junior J was really excited about his party this time round, and was actually counting down to the day of the party! He helped alot with party preparations, and was a great host, giving out plates and helping out. I'm starting to think six is a nice age... but I still cannot believe this boy is now six! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Week: Step by little step

This week the kids were sick, so we didn't get out and about as much aside from the usual morning walks. I took out our DIY latch and lock boards to keep them somewhat occupied:

Lil J is most fascinated with the locks and have been constantly fiddling with them. Baby J likes joining in to flip the latches. 

Most days, they are still happy to play on their own or together. 

Fighting amongst the three of them is common, and I guess inevitable! However, it always warms my heart when I watch them playing nicely together. 

Just the other day, the older two saw me sorting out some of the Perler beads into a box with compartments, and both insisted on helping. In the end, they took over the sorting, and spent a good half an hour putting beads into the compartments, with Junior J guiding Lil J on where to put the beads. My heart glowed, just watching them.

We also busied ourselves with party preparation, as Junior J would be celebrating his birthday with a few of his close church friends over the weekend. He helped out with the party packs, painting the bags and making tags out of Perler beads (he wanted an "under the sea" theme, because he's fascinated with sea monsters now).

The baby has been really busy getting into every nook and cranny of the house and getting into all sorts of trouble. He's also starting to stand without support, and spends a fair bit of time happily pushing the wagon around the house (usually with Lil J riding inside!) These days, he's been getting various manipulatives to play with. He's quite content to play quietly with these for quite awhile, at least until his brothers come to join in!

For the coming week, I really hope to plan more activities catered to Lil J. His learning style is very different from Junior J, being an auditory/kinesthetic learner, so I'm also learning how to engage this little boy. 

Here's to a blessed weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prune: The stories we tell

This is my life. It's made of simple things like three little boys in jammies,
bad days, good days, split milk and tears. So this is also what my blog is about.

The advertisers and companies naturally started writing after the blog awards. It was nice, at first, getting emails and requests to review this or that, and getting stuff for the kids or our family to try. It felt great, being able to run giveaways where readers could win something, where we could "give back" to our supporters. So the blog became like one of the happening lifestyle or parenting blogs. We reviewed stuff. We gave away stuff. I had shout-outs on social media. I busied myself replying emails to this and that company. I slept less, because I was up late trying to write.

But after awhile, it started getting very, very tiring. And I realized that this whole review / giveaway / "hey look here's the latest cafe to check out with your kids" thing wasn't me. It was me, trying to be like a popular blogger. It was me, trying on a blogging persona that didn't fit. Some bloggers do it very well: they are prompt and regular in their posts, they write honest reviews, they enjoy sharing about places to check out or dine in. But me? I like staying home with my kids to read. I find reviews tough, and they took a lot of time (and energy) to write. In fact, some bloggers have shared that they are cutting down on advertorials and reviews because it's not easy. Then why do we do it? To benefit others with knowledge or information? To get some free deal? To gain more readers? 

After being very honest with myself, I've concluded that reviews and advertorials are not the thing for me. So for this year, in line with my intent to prune, we would be very very selective with what we say yes to. The occasional review for things that are useful and needed by our kids, yes. Reviews for little start-up companies, yes, simply because I know first-hand how difficult it is to start and keep a business running. Write-ups about things we use and love, yes. Book reviews are likely a yes in most cases, because we cannot seem to say no to a good book! But those things aside, it would most probably be a no, because there are bloggers out there who can do a better job at those reviews, and there's only that much time I have for this blog.

This blog was started as a repository of our stories: of the books we read together, of the crafts we made together, of our learning, our struggles and our journey as a family. If this blog is an ongoing storybook of our family, then reviews and giveaways don't really fit into the chapters very nicely. I know it means my readership is bound to go down (who wants to read about having to discipline so and so the nth time anyway?), but at least I know that I have not lost my voice in the writing of this blog. 

For the year ahead, I'm hoping to continue to write about our homeschooling journey, so hopefully we'll be able to share about the learning that's going on at home, our struggles and what is working for us. That aside, I'll keep doing my Thankful Tuesday posts, because those keep me looking out and up, as well as Our Week posts, because they help me to look back and reflect on the week that has past. I also hope to share more about our decluttering efforts and home projects.

Whatever the case, thank you so much for reading and following us on our journey. Do hang around still, ok? 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I've been thinking hard about the year ahead. What do we want to achieve as a family? What do I want to achieve in 2015? And the one word that came to mind for the past few days is:


I've been feeling the intense need to prune. To cut down, to weed away the unnecessary. To scrape away what might just be rotting away. It doesn't apply just to our possessions, but to various aspects of our lives. Our schedules. The stuff we do. The things we say. The time we spend on doing various things. Bad habits.

So for the first half of 2015, "prune" is going to be my one little word. I am currently decluttering our closets (read here on why starting on clothes is a good idea). After those closets, I hope to tackle our books (that would be tough though). I've been spending a lot less time online (more about pruning the blog in another post), and getting more sleep in general.

All in all, pruning can be somewhat painful, but I think it does trim away so that growth can happen. And pruning can be liberating, because it makes you realize that what you do have is enough, and where you are is enough.

Do you have a little word for the year ahead? What's it going to be?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Our Week: Solo parenting

It has been quite a week. The FIL fell really ill over the weekend. The doctors had no idea what was the matter, and the hubs ended up flying up and arranged for him to be transferred to another hospital. It turned out to be leptospirosis, and thankfully he responded with a course of antibiotics and is now on the mend. We spent the week praying and are so glad that things are now better!

The hubs was away for five days, and it was my first time solo parenting since the arrival of baby J. Lil J missed the hubs very much, and woke up many times each night, so between the baby and him I was sleeping really little. Thankfully my parents chipped in to help when they could, so we more or less managed.

Because I was spending most days walking around like a zombie, we kept things simple at home. Junior J still had his afternoon lessons with me, and that was more or less it. We just had our regular jaunts to the playground, and lots of pottering at home. Oh, and the kids went with their co-op for a visit to the stables, where they got to feed horses and a donkey. They also learnt how to groom and ride a pony, and learnt how the horses were cared for.

We did work a little on an old project: building a cardboard model of the human body. Junior J is most fascinated with the topic, and hopefully we'll be able to share the completed model soon!

One of the afternoons when Junior J was feeling tired, we opted to declare it a school holiday and did origami instead.

We folded giraffes, and Junior J wanted to fold a dimetrodon. We tried following the instructions online but got stuck, and I was rather frustrated and wanted to give up. The boy took a look at our half-completed versions and told me not to worry, and proceeded to colour and draw in details so that they actually ended up looking somewhat like dimetrodons. His optimism and creativity never fails to warm my heart. :)

Anyway, I'm really glad the hubs is back, and that it'll be the weekend soon! Have a blessed one!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: 2014

2014 was a fruitful year. It was the year of learning to care for three little boys, something that I still am learning how to do better. It was the year of seeing all three of them grow, bit by little bit.

It was the year we "officially" started homeschooling (here are our reasons why we chose to do so). We started using our blackboard wall for lessons. We built, we explored, we learnt together as a family. We started attending co-ops with other homeschoolers. 

2014 was our year of discovery. The hubs and I made a trip to Australia with Baby J, and it was our first year travelling without the older two. For me, it was a year of learning more about why I blog, and further refining my voice over in this space. It was also a time of picking up new skills, and learning how to run an online shop

2014 was a year of surprises and blessings. It was a time of laughter and tears, of Junior J learning how to read, of walking alongside Lil J as he went through the terrible twos, of baby cuddles and kisses and time with family. It was having the privilege of winning the Singapore blog awards, and of making new friends. 

It had its fair share of challenges, but it was a blessed year. As we look back at 2014, I cannot help but notice how remarkably full our lives are now, and I am thankful. 

Mum in the Making

Monday, January 12, 2015

Weekend Wanderings: A combined birthday party

We had a joint birthday celebration for Junior J and one of his good friends over the weekend, and invited their homeschooling buddies for a picnic party. We had planned to have it over at Bay East Garden (someone suggested the place as it would be less crowded compared to other parks during the weekend). However, the area had very little shady areas and it was really hot, so we ended up setting up our picnic under the expressway, near the visitor center. 

Look at all the space! Junior J had a great time zooming about.

The area turned out ideal, since it was shaded and cool, and there was lots of space for the kids to run about. Also, it was near the visitor center, which was where the only toilet in the area was located. The kids spent most of their time chasing bubbles and running about, and we squeezed in a "hunt the dinosaurs" game where they went to look for hidden dino puzzle pieces and had to sort and piece them together. 

Sorting out the puzzle pieces after they found them.

We had a feast, mainly cooked up by the other birthday boy's mummy, E. She had prepared all sorts of yummies, from biscuits with spinach cheese dip, baked dinosaur pasta, gyoza, curry, fishballs and sausages. We brought pineapple rice and konnyaku jelly (which my mum kindly made), edamame, salad, fruit, and drinks. Since we swung by to get E, it meant our car was packed to the brim with food!

Spinach dip: this was by far the most popular with the kids!

Lil J caught stealing salad. Or rather, the raisins in the salad.
Photo courtesy of Sze Siang.

Our spread of food.

E also baked the cakes for the party. Yes, you read right, cakes, one big one for everyone, and two small ones for the birthday boys. These were eggless and dairy-free (save for the Nutella), since we had to account for the kids with food allergies, and it was really moist and yummy!

The big cake. 

We kept the party packs simple: small paper bags containing a fossil cookie (baked by E), a small toy ball from Penang, and a little bear-shaped measuring tape. Initially, I was wondering if we would be able to pull off the party, since there was so much stuff to lug to the location, but I'm so glad we managed to pull it off and I think the kids had fun! (Even baby J enjoyed himself. He spent most of the time crawling around everywhere!)

Photo courtesy of Sze Siang.

PS: Some of the photos in this post were kindly taken by one of the daddies attending the party. He's a photographer (view his portfolio here), and I can't wait to see the rest of the shots!


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