Monday, May 30, 2011

Today 4 years ago...

Today 4 years ago I was on top of the world.  Our lives were on track, our goals were in place.  Life was perfect! Today 4 years ago I knew that 2007 was going to be our year...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning to set goals

I think I have said it before - I really like Bianca's teacher this year.  Bianca's had really supportive and excellent teachers up to now, but the teacher this year is really going the extra mile with making sure the kids are excited about their learning and will have plenty of opportunity to be sufficiently challenged this year.  Teachers seem to do things slightly different in each class and in Bianca's class the teacher spends a lot of time with Glossary (which is learning new words and using it in sentences).  Since Bianca started doing that, whenever she hears a specific word in an advertisement or in conversation, she will say "glossary word!".  And this teacher is really passionate about maths as well as music.  So much so the teacher is offering free guitar lessons one lunch time each week.

Bianca's teacher also lets the kids do a homework sheet along with spelling words.  This is not a very long piece of homework and would mostly consist of some glossary exercises and maths exercises.  It takes about 10 minutes to do and is really just a bit of extra practice for what they learn in class.  There was one parent who complained bitterly about the homework sheet and so initially the headmaster decided that this would need to be stopped and I immediately decided that that was not good enough.  I WANTED Bianca to get her homework sheet.  I like that she gets the extra practice and she enjoys it and I know other parents feel the same.  So thankfully they have re-instated this again.

The latest addition to homework or home learning is a document that consists of 4 areas - Giving, Physical, Academic and Creativity.  And from here Bianca needs to choose at least 2 goals to achieve and this would be an extension to the learning they do in class.  So some of the options are:

  • Clear the table, load/unload the dishwasher or help do the dishes by hand, put dishes away at least 5x per term
  • Prepare a sandwich for your lunch 5 x a term (this one Bianca does everyday anyway :-) ).
  • Give to your family:  Prepare one meal or do a job for your family
  • Write a letter and post it
  • Give to children in need eg toys you don't want anymore.
  • Design your own challenge
  • Plant and care for a pot plant for a term.  Document its growth.
  • Compete in a sport for an entire season eg soccer, netball, martial arts
  • Explore the outdoors and complete a challenging walk with your family
  • Improve your swimming skills.
  • Participate in the weetbix triathlon or similar endurance event.
  • Design your own challenge.
  • Read a series of books you haven't read before.
  • Learn greetings and how to count to ten in at least 2 languages.
  • Earn a silver mathletics certificate.
  • Keep a diary for a month.
  • Design your own challenges.
  • Learn a new skill - join a dance class / drama group / art class / play a musical instrument, etc for at least a term.
  • Knitting / needlepont - make an item.
  • Learn an instrument or continue with music lessons on a regular basis for the year.
  • Create a painting or sketch of something that interests you.
  • Make a "Healthy Food" poster.
  • Design your own challenge.
The good thing is Bianca is already well on track with several of the goals.  But I think this could be really exciting to focus on and certainly give the kids a good understanding of setting goals and working to achieve it.  I like that there are ideas, but also that it allows for kids to come up with something that is different - after all, different kids will have different strengths and different interests. We are certainly very happy with Bianca's school and teacher.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oh the joys...

This morning Bianca had her very first netball match of the season.  She had a great time and it is really cute seeing the littlies (shhh, don't tell Bianca I said littlies) when they start off playing netball.  And of course the parents are like "quick, chase the ball!" and "no, no, go the other side, the other side...".  And of course the joys of winter sports - 8am on a Saturday morning, bracing ourselves against the cold wind and rain...  Oh well, all in the name of being proud parents supporting our kids :-).

Hope you are all having a fun and relaxing weekend!

Monday, May 9, 2011

On the edge at times

On Friday night Caitlyn started feeling really unwell.  She complained of a headache, didn't have much of an appetite and was just feeling pretty sad and unhappy.  So I let her sleep with me in our bed that night so that I could be right there if she needed me and Terence went off to sleep in her bed.  Usually our kids (even when they were really little) sleep in their own beds, unless they are really unwell.

It was a tough night.  I think every 30 minutes she would wake up crying and I would ask her what was the matter and she would just say "I don't know".  Her temperature was slightly high and the next morning she woke up having a coughing fit.  One of those that make kids cry and the more they cry, the more they cough and the more they cough, the more they cry... 

Next morning we decided to take her to the doctors to get her checked out.  She recently had a cold and we wanted to just make sure there wasn't something we should worry about.

In the back of my mind I started wondering if she was busy getting tonsillitis.

Now usually tonsillitis is just an annoying infection that sometimes happen with kids.  Some kids get tonsillitis quite often.  For us - we've only ever had to deal with tonsillitis once.  In May 2007.  Caitlyn was nearly 3 months old and Bianca still 3.  And Bianca got tonsillitis somewhere beginning May.  Oh my!  That was the worst she was ever sick up to that point.  She was pale, feeling miserable, clingy, no appetite, fever.  When the antibiotics were done and Bianca started recovering a bit, I remember thinking "wow, I'm so glad that is over".  Of course little did I know then that just a week or so later, it would get worse.  Much much worse and that really the tonsillitis was just a glimpse of the leukemia journey we were about to embark.  So since then each time May and June come around I start feeling a bit on the edge.  Or when it is 2 weeks before my kids' birthdays.  It is like it will forever be etched in my mind - Bianca's tonsillitis was really just because she actually already had leukemia.

Thankfully after the doctor looked at Caitlyn, it wasn't much to worry about.  Slightly red throat, ears slightly pink.  Just some mild viral infection.  I don't know what I would have done if they actually said Caitlyn had tonsillitis...

Feeling very blessed

Yesterday was mother's day.  I had an amazing day spent with my family and later on good friends who spent the afternoon with us. 

The girls were super excited and couldn't wait.  They both made me a very special card.  Bianca wrote the words in Caitlyn's card, but Caitlyn drew the cutest picture which she tells me is a picture of me.  The day before, Terence took the girls to the shops and they both bought me special gifts with their own pocket money.  Caitlyn bought me a yummy block of chocolate and Bianca is super proud of the bunch of white roses she selected all by herself for me.  Then yesterday morning I woke up to breakfast served in bed - Bianca made me scrambled eggs (she's getting really good at it too), Caitlyn made the toast and daddy cooked the bacon. 

I love the thought my beautiful girls put into the day.  I love seeing the excitement on their faces as they couldn't wait to give me the gifts they bought all by themselves.  I feel so incredibly blessed.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Weekend.  Tomorrow was going to be a busy day for us with Bianca's netball in the morning and then cheerleading later on, but turned out netball was cancelled because thanks to the rain, they have not managed to finish sealing the court.  A bit disappointing because Bianca was really looking forward to it, but that's okay, there will be next week I'm sure...

On Sunday we have friends over for lunch and possibly supper so I need to think a little bit about what to make.  I'm not the most creative cook to be honest.  Ooh, maybe sago pudding seeing as it is pretty cold at the moment and maybe oxtail???  Yum!

And I really need to make a start on some of the paper mache things I want to make for Bianca's birthday.  I know it will take some time to let each layer dry before putting the next so it is not going to be a quick project.  But hopefully, if all goes to plan, it will come out looking really nice.  I must say I really enjoy this - planning parties for my girls and putting it together and watching the excitement on their faces as they share their ideas.

And that is our weekend in a nutshell :-)  Hope you all have a good weekend too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making decisions that are right for us

Recently a friend and I were discussing kids who stay at home and kids who go to daycare.  Both of us are very much FOR going to daycare.

I have always been pro-daycare.  With Bianca I had to go back to work when she was 4 months old.  For one, that was how long my maternity leave was, but also I needed to go back to work, for me.  We were the first of our friends to have kids and so I found my maternity leave very lonely and boring and where we lived I didn't feel safe to just go walking around. 

I didn't consider having a domestic worker / nanny combo because I had vivid memories from visiting one of my mother's friends way back when I was at school and upon arriving at their house, it was only the domestic worker / nanny with the kids.  The youngest little boy must have been no older than a year and when I got there he was stuck in his cot screaming his little head off and she didn't seem phased by it all, was in the kitchen cleaning and completely ignoring the little man.  It seemed that he had been crying in his cot for a while.  His nappy was soaked through with wee and his face was very red and tear stained and his little voice was quite hoarse from all the crying.  I really felt so sorry for him. 

Then much much later on I worked for a while at one of my previous employers' home while they were busy building their office.  They also had a nanny / domestic worker combo and she was diligent at feeding the little boy and giving him his lunch, but of course the house still needed to be cleaned and tidied and so more often than not he pretty much had to entertain himself while she kept an eye on him during the house cleaning.  I often wondered about his stimulation, about being exposed to things that he could learn to help with his development, but in the 3 or 4 month period I was working from there, it was always the same routine. 

And I remember reading horror stories where kids were exposed to horrible abuse at the hands of their nannies or their daymothers where there was pretty much just one person responsible for looking after the child and a child that young would not be able to say if something made them sad or unhappy or scared. 

One of the new blogs I'm following had a really scary blog entry dealing with exactly this.  And it was only when they spied on their nanny that they realised the true extend of what was going on behind their backs.  I just felt so devastated for them at what their baby had to endure.  Now I know not everybody is like that, but my worry would be how would I know?  What if the person I got to look after my precious baby girl was like that, there was no way she was going to be able to tell me.  And so I have always known that I would never be truly comfortable having a nanny / domestic worker.  I was even reluctant to consider a day mother where the pressure would be even more for a single person as she would have more little ones to look after at the same time.  And besides if I had a nanny / domestic worker, then would my child truly get as much attention as I wanted her to get or would the cleaning / tidying of the house become priority and my child would have to entertain herself for most of the day as was the case with my one boss' son?

And so we knew that daycare would be the best option for us.  We were fortunate that our company where we both worked had their own daycare centre just across the road from our offices.  It was an initiative from one of the PAs who convinced management that as they had sufficient parents working for them, it would be a worthwhile investment.  And it was.  It was a very well set up system with different classes for different age groups.  Well staffed.  Great policies.  And what I liked even more was when the manager insisted I don't make an appointment to go and look at the place, I simply arrive.  That way I would know they don't window-dress, I would see things the way they really are.  Bianca's favourite teacher at the time was Sylvia.  She would follow Sylvia around all day long :-).  And Sylvia absolutely adored Bianca.  Sylvia was so passionate about what she did she introduced an art session with the little ones.  Bianca was 10 months old at the time and Sylvia would help them splosh paint on the paper or help them hold a crayon as they scribbled on paper.  It was all about experiences.  All about feeling what it would feel like when they did this.  Bianca stayed there until she was 14 months old when we moved to New Zealand.

So when we came to New Zealand we went on to find another really nice daycare centre for Bianca - first in Auckland and then in Wellington when we moved here the first time.  Just the other day I was paging through Bianca's profile book from her Auckland daycare center and I was smiling at the photo of her and her best friend Ashleigh hugging each other tight.  This centre was split into under 2s and over 2s (until they turn 5), as was the one in Wellington when we came here.  The centres here are very much focused on sharing, saying please and thank you, lots and lots of free and messy and outside play, mat time and once a week they would have show and tell where the kids could bring a toy from home and tell the class all about it and show what it did.  The teachers would guide the kids and this was great for confidence building.  This particular session became one of Bianca's favourites and she would leap up on a Friday morning and excitedly choose the toy she would take for show and tell.

When Bianca became sick and couldn't go to daycare anymore she really really missed it.  She missed her friends, her teachers, the activities they would do every day, mat time, show and tell time.  We tried doing lots of things at home and even enrolled her with The Correspondence School, but it simply wasn't the same as being at daycare.  Bianca felt really really lonely.  The au pairs we had to get were really lovely and they incorporated many learning experiences for the girls and we are grateful for that and of course because they were not responsible for house cleaning we knew the girls were truly getting loads of attention.  So when Bianca started school and we felt safe enough health-wise we immediately put Caitlyn into a daycare centre also.  She absolutely loved it.  She loved the au pairs, but she also loved all the different toys, the different games they played, mat time, the different routines they had, and just the concept of having teachers and lots of friends in her class. We have never looked back. 

At the moment Caitlyn goes 3 days a week.  She is in the get ready for school class because when she turns 5 next year she'll go to big school.  It is not a class where they teach them things like reading and writing, but they introduce a bit more independence, a different way of giving instructions, do a few different activities where the kids would be exposed more to concepts like colours and shapes, cutting with scissors, holding a pencil properly (they do that in the other classes also, but more so in this class).  It is so much fun seeing how Caitlyn's drawings have changed.  She now draws people with big round heads with legs and arms and even bellybuttons :-).  And just like Bianca when she was in daycare Caitlyn has started trying to write letters.  She's been trying to write her own name and even Bianca's name and it is so special watching her learning develop this way.

Looking at my girls I know with 100% certainty that daycare was absolutely the right thing for them.  We tried the staying at home thing with them during Bianca's illness, but they absolutely craved being in a daycare setting.  Sure people say there is the risk of kids getting more illnesses if they go to daycare, but other than Bianca's leukemia and the tonsillitis she got which was actually thanks to the leukemia because we didn't know by then her counts were non-existent already, my kids have not been very ill at all, maybe because the places we chose were focused on hygiene and had good practices.  Sure they've had a minor cold here and there and sure Caitlyn recently had a week off school because of a cold, but I can't say that they have been significantly and constantly unwell (okay excluding the leukemia).  In my opinion exposure does boost immunity and I've had a friend whose son stayed home all the way until he started big school and then the colds and flu really hit him - big time. 

But yes, some prefer their kids to stay at home and would even go so far as homeschooling them all through the rest of their school career and that's fine.  We all do what we believe is best.  For me, when I see my kids so happy and well settled and exposed to the learning opportunities and I see their confidence and how proud they are to share what their friends and teachers were doing, I could never take that away from them.  But now, before any of you jump up and down telling me how wrong I might be, this topic is only based on my personal experience and relate to MY kids.  I am not speaking for others, I am not saying that my decision has to work for others or that other decisions are wrong.  I am simply saying our decision was right for us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I've made quite a few changes to my "online attitude" or whatever you want to call it. 

For one I only access Facebook for a short little while at night.  I asked Terence to block it so that I could only access it between 9 and 12 at night.  That's it.  I found that Facebook just became this big habit and that without thinking I would type "" and press enter before I could even blink and then because I was there, I would "just quickly see what was happening".  So time to make a change.  Since I no longer have access to it during the day, I must be honest that I'm actually not missing it much. 

Another change I have been making is to hide some people on Facebook so I won't have to see their status updates in my newsfeed.  I find that some just plain irritate the heck out of me and I end up rolling my eyes so much that I start getting a headache.  Some people are just so full of themselves and I think the day they realise the world doesn't actually revolve around them, would come as a nasty shock to them.  I've also noticed how rude and insensitive and just plain arrogant, snobbish and bullying some can be and so it was time to take control again.  Why would I expose myself to this kind of attitude all of the time?  So I started hiding them.  They are still there, but I'm taking control when I am ready to go and see what they are up to.

And then there are blogs.  Since I started blogging in 2007 I started following quite a few blogs and journals.  And things have changed a bit there too.  I found that some blogs I used to enjoy because it was entertaining and sometimes even offered me something that I could learn about, but some of these blogs have changed quite a bit.  Some bloggers are now turning every single topic into a "feel sorry for me" kind of topic" (I'm not talking about people who are dealing with real difficult and challenging issues.  Or they sit there and over analyse every single thing they write about and turn it into this dramatic situation.  Really?  Can't it just be some light hearted chat about something? 

The blogs that I really enjoy actually have some real news to share.  I enjoy reading about the place they live, what their kids get up to and in particular Renee from Life with my Special K's has mastered the art of really just sharing what her kids get up to.  And I just love how this blog always shares something positive, something bright and colourful.  There are a number of cool blogs I love following at the moment.  Some in the side bar (and some bookmarked on my laptop), but I love the simplicity of some of these blogs.  I love the feel good that they often offer and I love how some really do educate.  And of course there are some blogs that I follow because they deal with a real struggle and I would like to stay updated so I could "be there" for them.  Once you enter the world of child cancer for instance, you become part of this community, so something like this will always be something close to my heart.

But that's life I guess.  A person changes.  And sometimes you actually start seeing the real person after a while and sometimes that is a good thing, but sometimes it is then that you realise you have reached a point where you actually have nothing in common with that person and then it is sometimes time to move on.  And that is what I happened with some of the blogs I used to follow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A day of achievements

Today really felt like we achieved quite a bit. 

Finally (after what felt like forever since our business was incorporated) we managed to meet with a graphic designer and actually agreed to let him start work on our logo. 

Most of the graphic designers were way above our budget so we couldn't even start to consider these people.  So initially after I turned down one person, she requested that we please meet to discuss because maybe there was a way they could help us.  After all "they understand about starting a new business".  And so we went to meet with them.  I don't know what it was, but she was quite aggressive in her approach and kept insisting we need to discuss our marketing plan and our company strategy and I don't know what else.  We both felt quite flustered because her terminology and approach was just way above our heads and finally when we told her our budget she said "okay, I'll have to discuss with the main man if we are able to match that or not".  And so, because we ran out of time, we left with a "okay so how about you look if you are able to work with our budget and then we can possibly take it from there".  That must have been almost a month ago.  Of course we have not heard from her again.  Our budget is quite a bit less than her incredibly high quote and I'm sure they must have burst out laughing just as soon as we walked out the door.  But then I did turn her down initially...

Then there was another person I was hoping to meet.  His quote (without knowing our budget) was far far more realistic and so we set up a meeting and then thanks to having a cold I had to cancel.  Set it up again, had to cancel - again... And today finally we managed to meet with him.  Wow, what a huge difference in approach.  He didn't initially jump into an aggressive approach of "give me your marketing strategy and blah, blah, blah", but instead we chatted.  Chatted about us, about him, what we were hoping to achieve.  So informal and yet, by the end of it, we both felt he actually made a real effort to get to know us.  And unlike the other person seemed to really understand what it is like to start a brand new business.  And so we agreed that he will create some initial concepts and we can take it from there.  We are both so excited to see what he might come up with. 

And then - we managed to book Bianca's birthday venue.  Bianca actually started inviting friends to her party last term already.  Much to my frustration.  Because I kept telling her that we cannot invite people until such time that we booked a venue and if we had to have it at home, she would not be able to invite all her friends.  And if she invited kids and then have to uninvite them just because our space is too small, that would be quite disappointing for her and for them.  And so I started thinking about where we could have her Harry Potter party and we finally thought if we could have it at the school in their hall (which isn't a huge hall, but a nice space) then that would be perfect and we may as well invite all the kids in her class as well as some of her friends in some of the other classes.  That's the problem with having a kid who is really popular.  And today the school came back to us - we can have the hall for the weekend of her birthday, so we can set up the day before and then have the party the next day.  They have tables and chairs.  They have a kitchen and the only thing we'll need to organise is the ability to show the Harry Potter 1 movie.  And of course the decorations.  Bianca will be absolutely thrilled when I tell her we have the hall.  Oh and best of all, the cost for the hall with the tables and chairs is only $20.  That's it.  That is a huge bargain I think.

So now I need to get my backside into gear and actually start getting things done.  I have all these ideas, but they will take time and even though 1.5 months sound like a long time, I know Bianca's birthday will be here before we know it. But at least it is one thing I can tick off so long...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decisions, decisons...

One of the things I have wanted to do for about a year now (but never really sat down and achieved) is a crochet or knitted blanket for each of my girls.  Something warm and cuddly.  Hopefully something that will become a treasured possession as they grow older.  And so I've been looking in books and searched the internet for some inspiration for a pattern or an idea of what it could look like.  I think granny square blankets could look really stunning.

Click here for the website.

And I've been particularly interested in a chevron type of blanket.  I just like the style for a blanket, but I've yet to get my head around how to actually do it.

Click here for the website.

I really like moss stitch.

Click here for the website.
Or maybe just plain squares...

Click here for website.
And then of course there is the question of colours.  My girls have always been very typical girls in that they liked pink and purple.  Bianca did go through a phase when she was 2 where her favourite colour was yellow (or lello as she said at the time), but I think that was mostly because of the fact that she liked Lala from the Teletubbies most.

So tonight I decided to ask the girls what their favourite colours at the moment were and Bianca is:

  • White
  • Light blue
  • Pink

And Caitlyn:

  • White
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Purple

Hmmm, I wonder if that is only because big sister likes white and blue... :-)

So now to decide on a style... And if I want to try and make this for Christmas I better start moving otherwise it will be another year and I'll still be looking for inspiration.

So what sort of knitted / crochet blankets do you like?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A week in bullet points

  • I have a pretty bad cold.  I was sick about 2 weeks or so ago, got better, visited a friend whose daughter had a cold and picked up another cold at the start of this week.  Sigh!  So this week I've been feeling pretty unwell.  Blocked nose, headache, sneezes, coughing my lungs out - the works. 
  • This past week was a short week.  Monday was a public holiday and Tuesday Terence had a day off.  We didn't do much other than trying to get some work done with regards to our business.  
  • On Friday the lawnmower packed up.   Terence had a look, managed to fix it and it seems the problem was with the starter thingy, but then it stopped completely - again!  So tomorrow at some stage I will have to take it in to be looked at. 
  • I have come to the conclusion that having feijoa trees in our garden.  Right now we have about 30 or 40 feijoas so we'll keep some and then tomorrow Terence will take some to his work and possibly the ladies at CCF. They are absolutely yummy and taste a bit like guava.
  • The school holidays have come to an end.  Term 2 is starting tomorrow and Bianca is quite excited already.