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Liam Turns 8

29 March 2017

Liams 8th Birthday 2017

My little baby turned 8 last week!

Which means it has been 8 years since I did all that newborn stuff – labour, child birth, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, reflux, changing nappies, endless laundry, mixing formula and making baby food – yikes!

When I think about it in a big, fluffy, general sense… it feels like only yesterday.

But when I try to recall all the little, tiny details, it feels like a lifetime ago. (That is, I have no idea how many millimetres of milk my kids used to drink in one feed, so please don’t ask haha!)

So my little Liam celebrated his birthday with a few of his closest friends at a bowling and arcade centre.

I think all the kids enjoyed putting coins into the machines to collect tickets, to swap them for styrofoam aeroplanes, more than the actual bowling itself!

We made a double-layered, chocolate cake, with a layer of hundred’s and thousand’s icing mixture in between. We decorated the cake with three of Liam’s favourite lollies – Skittles, Maltesers and Jelly Snakes. Sugar overload!

It was a bit of a mess in the end, but he was beyond happy!


Liam Turns 7!

16 March 2016

My youngest little boy, Liam turned 7 the other day!

We held a kids party (with pool and bouncy castle) for him, so leading up to it, there was lots to prepare. We spent a week cleaning the house and moving furniture out of the way.

And on the day of the party, I woke up to Liam’s To Do list. The kid loves lists!

Liam Turns 7

The other exciting thing was… we engaged the help of Organised Chaos Kids Party Hire, who specialise in themed party packages that are super affordable and stress free.

The business is owned by lovely (and talented!) friends of mine; they offer the CUTEST Frozen themes, Superhero themes, dinosaur themes, mermaid, construction, pirate and car themes, and they are all soooooooo adorable that I wanted to have more babies just so I could choose the “Garden Escape Party“!!

Liam Turns 7

We invited 10 kids to the party, and Liam chose the “Chaos Wars Party” package. He loves Star Wars at the moment.

I assumed that I would have to borrow a larger car to fit all the hire gear, but it turned out that the whole package was really compact and it fit into my car just fine. It was very convenient.

Liam was so excited when the box arrived. I pretty much sat back and let him organise everything! Ok not really. But with the supplied instructions, photos of the set up, it was all very easy to understand and put together.

Organised Chaos Party Hire

Ta da! It was soooooo cute!

One of my friends is an ex-graphic designer, so their included sign boards are specially made to add that personal touch to the party.

All the seat covers are handmade, using hardy materials. The table cover was a good quality vinyl fabric (not a cheap plastic table cloth) that withstood many spills and was easy to wipe down.

Liam Turns 7

All the kids WOWED when they saw the setting.

The figurines, the Darth Vader and Yoda heads, and the light sabres looked amazing as table decorations to set the scene.

The pack also came with balloons and paper ball lanterns (that looked like planets) so we hung them up, with a whole lot of streamers I had from previous parties.

Liam Turns 7

I loved that all the little bits and pieces were all included in the package – I didn’t have to do any party shopping at all!

I also loved that $5 of each party package hired goes to Heartkids WA, as the Organised Chaos team have a special connection with the charity.

Liam Turns 7

As for the rest of the party, the kids had a blast playing in the pool and the bouncy castle.

They just ran around like crazy kids!

Liam Turns 7

Then, without having to ask them, my two bigger boys, snuck off, dressed up in costume, pranced around entertaining everyone and led the party kids through some party games!

They are such wonderful and creative big brothers when they want to be :)

Oh and my Darth Vader boy didn’t have a red light saber, so he decided to use “The Sauce” (*roll eyes*).  Liam Turns 7

I’m not sure what the kids were playing here, but my big boys had the Star Wars Imperial March Song blasting in the background and it was just hilarious watching the kids march around!

Liam Turns 7

I set up a separate table (using my own cheap plastic table cloth!) to hold the cake and presents.

Before food time, I decided to remove ALL the figurines and light savers from the kid’s table, because I knew that the kids would start fighting with them and I didn’t want them to get damaged. I placed the whole lot on the cake table and they were great as props for photos.

Overall it was one of my easiest kid’s party yet!

We all had such a great time (except my husband, who got a bit of a headache after!) and I’m so thankful to all of my son’s friends who could join in to celebrate his special day.

Also big heartfelt thank you to Organised Chaos for sponsoring us with a party package.

Do check out their super cute website or Facebook page.


Liam Turns 6

9 April 2015

A happy birthday to my red-headed cutie-pie!

Liam - 6 Years Old


A Little Update on Liam

19 November 2014

Liam at 5 1/2 Years

My little Liam is growing up!

He’s 5 ½ years old now and he just loves school! He loves being at school, playing with his friends, listening to teachers, following instructions, earning stamps on his “good-work” chart, doing craft, doing new things, and learning new things. His social skills have developed so well in the past year. He does have a reputation for talking WAY too much… but that is definitely better than him not talking enough, right?

He’s also quite a bright cookie and possibly quite advanced for his age.

For example, the other day I was helping my 9 year old do his homework, which involved classifying words into nouns, verb, adjectives and adverbs. Liam was SO interested in this that he too made himself a chart and started classifying words he knew. I went one step further to teach him about building sentences and clauses (oh my god!) and helped him create more complex and interesting sentences. He was SO excited. I could see it in his eyes. They grew wide and sparkly with wonder and amazement. I seriously could not believe we were doing this for fun??

Then we do this thing… where he recites the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…see more here) out loud, as fast as he can while I time him with my stopwatch. Again, we do this for FUN?? He does it in 45 seconds (and I can do it in 24 seconds)!

Er yeah, so I’m really happy with how Liam is coming along academically.

BUT… we’ve been having trouble with his active side.

Both my husband and I are pretty sporty and active. And my other two boys (aged 11 and 9) are VERY sporty. They will zoom through their homework after school so they can head to the park to play football, basketball, soccer, hand ball, ride their bikes, go on their scooters, climb trees, or just run! I only have to say, “There’s 1 hour before dinner time, why don’t we go…” and they will zoom out the door, grab their hats, jump on their bikes and be on their way to the park. It’s easy to be active with my big boys.

But for Liam, it is a HUGE chore to get him outside. My shoes hurt, I can’t find my socks, I’m too tired, I have a scratch on my finger, it’s too sunny outside, I don’t want to put on sun cream, I have the wrong hat, my socks don’t match, waa waa waa. Most times the battle is soooooo difficult and emotionally draining, that I just skip my exercise for the day and stay home with him. It is definitely not a good thing for either of us.

But once the kid is ON a bike, or ON a scooter, or has decided that he’ll run through the park… he is absolutely fine! He is always happy as can be to be there!

We have recently signed him up to play in a basketball team, mainly because 6 of his closest friends were also in the team. But he doesn’t like it very much. He would much rather be at home doodling in his book, playing with Lego, organising his room, or working through an online learning program on the computer.

Because he doesn’t really enjoy being active, I find that he is much more drawn to being on a computer screen (playing educational computer games, maths, spelling and puzzle apps on the tablet) than my other 2 kids. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s the youngest of 3 kids and he’s been exposed to things at a younger age. Or it’s because of his personality. Or his age, as he is much younger than my two older kids after all. Or maybe it is his interest in computer games makes him less interested in being active?? Ugh, who can know?

He’s a great sleeper. He sleeps 7:30pm at night and wakes up at 6:30am. He gets very, very cranky after school (3pm) and I sometimes force him to have a nap for 1 hour, or at least make him lie down in his room with the curtains drawn. I find that makes him a much happier member of our family.

He is definitely the most “cuddly” and most “open to showing love and affection” of all my children. He loves cuddles, he absolutely adores me, and he seeks me and my husband out daily to give us a great big hug in the morning.

I hope he doesn’t grow out of that too soon!


Liam Turns 5!

15 April 2014

My little chicken turned 5 years old and we had a kind of mini festival for him – celebrating his birthday over a few weeks, with lots of different groups of family and friends.

Liam Turns 5

For all his best friends from school, we threw him a huge party in our backyard.

We put up a bouncy castle, we had snacks and lots of play time. My older boys organised and lead some simple games for the kids, like relays, egg and spoon races, “What’s the Time Mr Wolf” chasey games. I was so proud of them, it was a fun party!

I made a two tiered cake, which Liam requested to be in the theme of Disney’s Lightning McQueen. I totally stole the idea and design off the internet, so I get no points for originality!

Liam Turns 5

I made two chocolate cakes. The bottom tier was 18cms in diameter and the top tier was 10cms.

(Unfortunately – as I found out at the end – the cake recipe I used was much too dry, stogey and it just didn’t taste very nice. Boo! So I have to find myself a new chocolate cake recipe for next time, and make sure I do a bit more testing.)

Liam Turns 5

I bought some white fondant, which I dyed, rolled out and moulded to make a desert & sky scenery for the base.

The fondant was too soft for my liking. It kept sagging and my moulded figures wouldn’t hold their shape. I had to constantly keep moving the cake in and out of the fridge to keep the fondant in place. I have to find a good quality fondant next time. From a proper cake shop! And stop buying supermarket brands!

Liam Turns 5

I made a checkered flag design for the top tier. I made some stars from yellow fondant. I printed out a Disney Cars logo and super imposed my son’s name in the middle. I decorated the cake with Cars characters which made the whole cake looks so lively and happy.

The result was awesome! I was really happy with the end result and Liam just LOVED the cake!

Happy Birthday Liam, we loved making a fuss of you!


Liam’s First Christmas Concert

9 December 2012

Despite the rough couple of weeks we’ve had as a family, life has to go on.

So in the midst of all the funeral preparations… my 3.5 year old had his first Pre-Kindergarten Christmas Concert.

The event was held outdoors at the Kindergarten, in the playground, under the trees, in the late afternoon, just before sunset.

Kindy Xmas 2012

Ahhh it was so beautiful, with the pinkish sunlight caught in the trees, casting a golden glow over everyone, I couldn’t help but tear up.

The event was full of happy families sitting on rugs, lots of smiling children, big swaying trees… and the outdoor clearing was surrounded by playground equipment, a chicken coop, cockatoos, budgies and rabbits! It was really lovely.

The theme of the concert was an “Aussie Outback Christmas”.

Liam played the part of a swag man. He had a hat strung with corks and a checkered shirt. He was sooooo cute.

There were other kids dressed up as kangaroos, cockatoos, gumnut babies, jars of Vegemites, angels, and there was a Santa Claus in a hawaiian shirt driving a cardboard Holden Ute. They all sung various Christmas songs and they all had a lot of fun.

Liam Dec 2012

After the concert, Liam ran up to us to present us with a pillow that he made.

He painted a picture of himself and a cat! (We don’t have a cat, but he loves cats!)

We stayed for a shared picnic (everyone brought a plate of food to share), then sat on our picnic rug to enjoy some family time together.

The whole event was so homey, warm, accepting and loving.

There was such a lovely atmosphere in the air… that I just wanted to sit quietly, slowly soak up all the goodness into my bones… and to remember how precious life is.


Liam’s Crooked Smile

22 November 2012

Liam's Crooked Smile

Whenever I try to take a photo of my children, I say: SMI-ILE!

But what I get in return are horrible, teethy snarls you’d find at a dentist’s cavity inspection. And the sound effects too!!

I always end up shouting… “Smile normally! Close your mouth! Stop twisting your face like that! Can you spit that out? Don’t show so much of your gums! I said SMILE for god’s sake, not show me your tonsils.”

Then I sigh, put my camera away and wonder why I even bothered.

Please tell me it’s not just me.

ANYWAY.

Lately, Liam has perfected this super-cute crooked smile as his go-to smile (top left).

I love it. He looks like a teddy bear.

(And it matches my husband’s crooked smile.)


The Many Faces of Liam

13 November 2012

Liam - 3.5 years old

My little monkey is 3 years and 8 months.

As I write this, it is 8.30pm. Exactly one hour ago, Liam was running through the house in his underwear, stomping through the hallways, singing in this loud, crazy, high-pitched voice, and I was chasing him around, shouting “WILL YOU STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!!!!!”, waving his pajamas at him, and trying to get him to brush his teeth. He drives me CRAZY!! Every night, before bedtime.

It was so bad that I threatened to locked him outside with the spiders :P

But.

Now.

He’s sleeping sweetly and quietly in the next room as I type this. I can hear him gently tossing around in bed. I’m looking at these pictures, wishing he was here so I can cuddle him. I’m tempted to sneak into his room, as I often do, and just watch him as he sleeps, because he is so beautiful.

(Same goes for my two other boys.)

And in the morning…

They will all drive me insane.

All over again.


Liam : 3 years and …a bit?

30 July 2012

(Warning!! The following contains long, detailed, explicit, motherly adoration of a child.)
Liam is 3 years and 4 months

My little Liam is 3 years and 4 months.

He’s bright, eloquent, a bit particular about certain things, and yes, totally lovable!

The biggest change since my last update is his obsession with letters and numbers.

Writing out letters and numbers is a daily activity for us – only because he LOVES it so much. We sit down with a stack of paper and coloured pencils, and he writes the numbers from 1-20, and then he writes the alphabet from A-Z.

I help him a little, but it’s HIM who leads the activity. He tells ME what HE wants to do.

We started writing 1-10. But after memorising them so quickly, he has moved on to 1-20. Now we’re working on number order.

I scribble out worksheets with “puzzles” like 11, 12, 13, ___ and he fills in the missing number.

And he says brainy stuff like, “What is the number 1 and 8 again? Is that eighteen? Does that come after seventeen?”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months
Drawing of Bluey (his toy bunny) and Liam!

He has also memorised and recognised the whole alphabet, he can write every letter of the alphabet, and he knows the phonic sounds to all the letters!

He can spell out simple words by himself, just using the sounds of letters!

He prefers to write words of things his likes – Liam, Mum, Dad, Callum, Sean, Cat, Bluey (his bunny), Clock (because it’s got numbers on it), Pink (his favourite colour), Poh Poh (what he calls his grandmother).

His number and letter formations are still a bit wonky, but they are still legible.

Lots of other mums praise me and all the “work” that I do with him. But seriously, it’s all HIM, his own personal interest and his long-standing fixation with numbers and letters.

OK I guess I am active in Liam’s early childhood learning, and I sit down with him and do activities with him. But I was also very involved and very active with my other two children’s early learning too. In fact, I was probably more active with them… and they didn’t learn how to spell words and read until they were 6 years old.

Honestly, I’m just surprised and pleased by how advanced he seems to be. I don’t think he’s a one-in-a-million, crazy-smart, genius kid. I’m not going to push him into any hardcore academic programs.

I’m just going to continue with a bit of gentle pushing and encouragement here and there. And at the same time try to balance out his other developmental areas – such as social, emotional, and physical development.

And I need to do that, because….

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam doesn’t like to go outside his comfort zone. He doesn’t like to try new things. He’s not very adventurous. He likes his routine. He likes thing to be predictable all the time. He likes to know that things are the same… and will be the same all the time.

But he gets bored with things being the same! And I can tell he wants to explore new things and have new experiences… but it is so hard for him to let go! He really fights it, he argues with me, negotiates for his way, tries to stall it, pretends to be disinterested, throws a tantrum.

I insist, I am firm, I try to convince him and I argue with him, and in the end I usually just force him to try it… and after we do the new thing, he is usually very happy.

For example, he likes that we buy our fruit from one particular fruit shop. If we go somewhere else to buy fruit, he gets really upset. And he will argue with me – for HOURS – about it.

Another example. He likes the numbers 2 and 4. And if my maths question doesn’t give him an answer where he can write a 2 or 4, he refuses to do the question. Or he’ll just write 24, rather than the actual answer and he’ll argue with me again!

Or, he likes to borrow 3 books from the library. And he wants to borrow the same 3 books again and again. If not, then more arguments!

Oh the list goes on and on. It drives me INSANE! He’s one funny kid.

After we do the new thing, I usually list out all the good (and maybe some not so good) things about the experience. Just so to help him mentally process and assess the experience or situation.

Like, “It was such a good thing that we borrowed these new books, so we could see these pictures that we’ve never seen before! Now we know what sunken treasure looks like!”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

As I try to let my older children become more involved with more complicated tasks (for example, cooking dinner by themselves), I try to get Liam involved too.

I admit it’s really hard, especially since I’ve done the whole “toddlers helping mummy in the kitchen” thing TWICE already. I have very little patience left in me… and really, I just want the kids to play in a different room, while I whip up dinner in 30 minutes flat haha.

So in terms of being independent, following instructions to do jobs, helping to do housework… Liam is behind where my other two children were at the same age.

It’s definitely my fault, as I don’t follow up, insist, or expect him to do as much as his brothers. Unfortunately, he’s turning into a “typical” third child, who is the baby of the family, and not expected to do any hard work – oops!

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam loves his 3 year old Kindergarten, but he HATES that I leave him.

He cries and shouts for hours in the morning about not wanting to go. He still kicks and screams and says all kinds of things emotional blackmail stuff like “You promised you won’t ever leave me anywhere where I might be far, far away from you.”

But the teachers say that the moment I walk away from the Kindergarten door and shut the gate (5 seconds) he’s perfectly fine and happy. They tell me that he is very involved with all the activities, he’s keen and interested in everything the teachers say, he plays very happily. They say he’s very smart, very bright, intelligent and very funny… (I’m sure that they say that to all the mums).

Anyway, I’m so, so glad that he’s blossoming in such a great environment.

Part of me is a little jealous, because when I try to do new activities with him – as I said – he just bosses me around, tells me what he wants to do and how I should GO AWAY because he just wants to do his own thing thank you very much.

(Let’s hope he’s not doing the same to his teachers!!)

I am really excited for him, for next year, when goes to 4 year old kindergarten. He’ll be in a structured learning environment – all day – surrounded by numbers and letters. He’ll absolutely LOVE it :)

Not to mention, I’LL love that he doesn’t nag me about being bored.

And I’ll love missing him all day, and then picking him up in the afternoon and hearing his beautiful little squeaky voice, bubbling with excitement, and watching his eyes sparkle as he tells me stories of his day.


Liam Turns Three

23 April 2012

Liam turns 3
My little baby turned THREE a few weeks ago.

Liam at 2
This is what he looked like at TWO years old.

Liam at 1
This is when he was a ONE year old.

Liam at 7months
This is him at 7 months.

Liam at 4months
And this was him at 4 months.

Gah, it makes my heart weep to scroll through these photos. Because that’s how fast the years seemed to have flown by – ZOOM.

Anyway, turning THREE was a very exciting moment for Liam. We have been talking about the BIG THREE, for months. We talked up all the cool things that would happen to him.

On the day of his actual birthday, I made him whatever he wanted to eat for dinner.

Meatballs and Jam
It turned out to be meatballs and jam.

Which ain’t so bad. Nutritionally, it could have been worse, like toffee popcorn and fish fingers? Or mud pies and bubblegum?

Pink Dinosaurs
Speaking about nutritional disasters. I bought him a mini dinosaur cake to have that evening (we were going to hold a huge birthday celebration, with a big-ass ice cream cake, on another date).

It wasn’t actually a cake… they were two dino-donuts in his favourite colours (pink and blue). At $2.80 each it was the best birthday cake ever. Ha!

You cannot believe how sparkly-eyed-and-twinkly-toed-excited he was about these dinosaurs!

He was sooooooo happy. He blew out the candles, shouted “THE BLUE ONE IS MINE!!”, grabbed the blue one, and chomped off his head in 2 seconds flat.

I was very quick to laugh at myself – Ahhh, I believe my first and second children had cakes made by me, from scratch, with all organic ingredients, and with no artificial food colourings.

They were lovingly cut and shaped into a creative 3D form (a duck, a plane, a train, spiderman) and painstakingly decorated the night before. And my poor third child? He gets pre-made meatballs and some counter-bought donuts for his birthday… *Chuckle*

Starting School

Liam has been itching to turn 3 so that he could go to school, just like his older brothers.

But now that he is finally 3, he FRICKING HATES SCHOOL.

Trying to *get* to his pre-kindergarten session is a huge drama. He wails and screams at home. He rolls on the floor and flops his body over bits of furniture. He throws his head and arms about as I change him into his kindy clothes. Shoes and socks are impossible. The sight of his Kindy drink bottle makes him howl like you won’t believe.

He cries and shouts, “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO KINDEEEE. AAAARRRGHHH! I WANT TO STAY HOME WITH MUMMMMYYY! I DON’T WANT TO GO! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME THERE! STAY WITH ME DON’T GOOOOO!! AAAAAAHHH!!!” And it just goes on and on and on.

He fully does the whole spider monkey trick when I’m trying to take him out of the car – wrapping his arms, fingers, legs and toes around anything that he can grab. And I have to pry off his fingers off various objects, one at a time.

Then he has his hands and legs extended out and flapping around like a crazy starfish while I walk, which makes it impossible to move gracefully into the school building.

All the other mums in the car park look at me empathetically. They all have nice and encouraging things to say, that make me feel a little better.

The teachers are WONDERFULLY nice too. My kid is screaming and shouting at the top of his lungs FOR THEM TO GO TO HELL and yet they scoop him kindly into their arms, while I say bye and make a run for it.

Sigh. It is *such* a horrible feeling. I am completely filled with self-doubt. Maybe I got it all wrong, maybe he really is too young? Maybe he is better off at home? Maybe all those parenting experts are right about kids staying home longer? Maybe we’ll wait one more term until he’s a bit older? Or more mature? You’d think that –me– after having 2 other kids, I would know how to handle all this. Nup. I just feel like shit.

Having said that…

When I go pick him up AFTER pre-kindy, he’s like all best buddies with the teachers, telling jokes with them, smiling, giggling, and he is happy as can be. He skips into my arms with the biggest, proudest and happiest smile on his face ever. He has stories to tell me, craft to show me and paintings to explain to me.

So he IS actually having a good and valuable time there. And this pre-kindergarten is one of the best in the area, with excellent teachers and wonderful facilities. So I guess deep down, I DO feel good about it, and I DO feel that I’ve made the best decision for my son. I just wish he didn’t have to string me along his emotional episodes!

Overall… Liam is still super active, super mischievous, super talkative and super loud. And yet he is a sweet little kid and always soooo adorable and funny. Liam has a big personality and I love him dearly!


Baby 3: Liam at 2 years and 10 months

2 February 2012

Here’s an update of Liam’s development, as he hurtles towards being 3 years old!

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

Behaviour and Environment

During the school terms, his older brothers go to school, and Liam gets to hang out with me all day. We have our little routines. We have our weekly grocery runs, coffee dates, play dates, gym classes, story time sessions, outings and activities. We have snacks, lunches at home or while we’re out. It’s just him and me.

He’s really pleasant, easy, fun to be with, ok sometimes he’s demanding, but I know his quirks and I know how to work around him… so basically we have a happy little groove between us.

But during the recent 7 week summer holidays, he has had to play and compete with his older brothers – all day, every day.

As a result, my summary of him seems a little harsh, yet it’s all part of his life experience, and what makes him who he is.

Liam has been naughty, difficult, noisy and his behaviour has been awful. It’s such a hard thing to deal with, because I can see what’s driving him. I can see he just wants some attention.

He’s frustrated because his two big brothers will spend hours building intricate lego structures or playing an elaborate board game, and he wants to play too. Instead… he smashes everything onto the floor and steals the important pieces of the game, just so that they will play with him.

Or they will be lazing in bed reading a book or working on a puzzle, and he will come along and rip posters of their walls and tip their shelves over, just so that they will play with him.

It always ends in meltdowns, tears and fights. From everyone! Including me!

So in a way, he’s not really being naughty. He’s just trying to communicate his needs… and well, it’s been a tough couple of months trying to keep everything balanced.

Because, he’s not the only child who needs some attention. There are two others. Not to mention there are two adults in the family who needs some loving. So yes. Balance is the key.

We take things as a week-by-week balancing act. One day I might spend a couple of hours with my oldest boy. While my husband will hang out with the younger two. And the next day my husband will take the middle boy, and I’ll have the other two. And then during the next session I’ll have the youngest one and so on.

This keeps everything quite peaceful.

And it’s worked so well because my husband was on leave for a little bit over the Christmas and new year period.

When it’s just me looking after the kids, most days, they will all play happily for a couple of hours. But after that, they get bored and will need some direction. I either have to do an activity that makes all 3 kids happy. Or I have to send one kid into another room to work on something (nothing too special or the other 2 will get jealous) while I do something with the other 2 kids.

Or I just take them to the beach. And everyone is happy. Including me.

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

“Education”

Liam can identify lots of letters, numbers from 0-12, colours, shapes and symbols. Drawing and writing is an activity he just loves. And I believe he finds a lot of comfort in it. I take a little scribble pad and pencils wherever we go, and he enjoys looking at my past drawings and reading out the letters and numbers.

He has shown keen interest to write letters, so I have been teaching him to write his name. And while I’m at it, I’m trying to teach him to read simple words – not because I’m trying to get him ahead academically – because he just really enjoys it!

Speech

He speech is pretty impressive! He is a real chatterbox and he can talk and talk and talk, if you let him. It can be a bit exhausting, to have someone be in your face and talk at you all day. But I’m not complaining, I try to see it as his little gift.

I get him to re-tell stories of our day, just to help him gather and organise his thoughts, because they can get a bit jumbled and random most times! Kinda cute, but it’s hard to listen to hours of random, mangled sentences.

Gross Motor Skills

Liam is pretty active and coordinated. He can go for long walks, ride a 2 wheel scooter, sit on a big-kid swing, climb up a climbing frame. He can’t ride a bike yet (hasn’t worked out the peddling action).

I’d say that he’s not very daring or adventurous, in a physical sense.

He’s confident to splash around in shallow water, but he’s not brave enough to put his head underwater.

Fine Motor Skills

Really excellent here. The kid plays with big-kid lego, he can use a scissors, do a 48 piece puzzle, peel stickers, glue things, and other fine detail activities.

Sleep

He sleeps at 7:30pm, wakes up 6:00am. As long as he has one 1 hour nap in the day time, he’s fine. And he’s not fussy about when he has the nap.

Imagination Play

Every day Liam can spend 30 minutes to 1 hour playing by himself, with cars, drawing, water play, lego, blocks, or puzzles.

I’d say the biggest activity he is missing out on, is imagination play. I went to a friend’s house recently, who had a cubby house for her daughter. The little house was decorated like a real house, with a kitchen set, photo frames on the wall, tables and chairs… Liam was transfixed. He played inside for aaaaages and didn’t want to leave.

I can see how he would get a lot out of more age appropriate toys!

Social Skills and Friends

He doesn’t have many proper friends at the moment, as he’s a bit young. He prefers to hang around older children, because that’s what he’s used to at home. And he loves the company of adults.

When he is around other kids his age, he is very confident and he stands his own ground. He can be a bit bossy and loud when trying to get his point across, which scares the other kids who are a bit timid.

Separation

Since Christmas, Liam has been very clingy towards me whenever someone comes to babysit. He cries, wails, flings himself on the floor, and shouts things like “Mummy don’t go away!!!!”. He’s been cool with it for years and it just came up suddenly and we’re not sure why he’s changed in this way. We’re thinking maybe it’s just an age thing?

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

Eating

Ah. He has been a terrible eater lately! He loves cereal with milk. Apples. Any kind of sweet or salty biscuit. Noodles. Bacon. And he loves to snack on raw carrots. That’s about it.

He utterly hates pasta, curry, rice, stir-fries, casserole, potatoes, bread – sometimes he will reluctantly eat it, if I feed him.

Most days, when we sit down for a proper lunch or dinner meal… he utterly refuses to eat anything I give him. He refuses to feed himself. And he would rather put himself to bed than to eat what I give him.

But if I spoon food into his mouth, he WILL eat it, reluctantly and slowly. And just like that, he trained me to feed him.

Each mouthful is painful, full of fights, toilet breaks, whining, falling off the chair, crying. Some days I have no idea how much he has eaten, I felt so bad, yet he happily goes to sleep at the end of the day. And I tell myself, if he’s hungry, he’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll make him some warm milk and toast. But he never wakes up.

Heh it is kind of my fault too. As I go through the day, out and about, driving from one event to another, I just throw random food at him for morning or afternoon snacks, a small bag of pop corn, an apple, half a bun with melted cheese on it, a jelly snake, rice crackers, a small carrot. And by dinner time he’s not hungry and I wonder why!

So, basically, I haven’t been very disciplined with his eating!

School

Liam will go to a Pre-Kindergarten for 3 year olds in a few months (he has to turn 3 first!). This particular centre came highly recommended, and it is also a 10 minute walk from our house. He was put on a waiting list, and after months of waiting, we finally got a call and was told that Liam had a place. I was sooooo happy. I know he’ll love it!

(He has been asking when he can go to school for several months now. And he desperately wants his own lunch box.)

But of course, I am struck by that familiar bittersweet feeling – I am totally freaked out that my littlest baby is going to a school AND I am dizzily excited that as he grows older, my life (and my relationship with all my children) will grow and evolve.


Liam at 2 Years Old

25 April 2011

Liam at 2 years old
Just look at the red in his hair!

My 2 year old toddler is an absolute chatterbox. He just does not shut up.

Lucky for him, he is insanely cute. And I can spend all day talking to him and listening to him chatter for hours.

He’s so naturally well-mannered and polite – saying thank you, you’re welcome, ‘cuse me, sorry, see ya later! And he’s so caring and sensitive, always asking me, “Are you ok mum?” “Are you good?” “What happened?”

My other two children were never like this. They were either self-centred (as children naturally are) or just totally oblivious to the feelings of other people (as children naturally are).

I used to believe that other parents made this stuff up. Naturally polite children? No such thing!

But Liam likes to crawl into my lap, wrap his arms around me like a koala bear, squeezes me tight, then leans back to look at me with his deep brown eyes and asks “Can I have a back scratch please mummy?” and he’ll flop his body into my chest and nuzzle his face into my skin… and go, “Ahh, that’s really nice mum.”

And my heart – oh my heart – it melts into a glorious mush of love.

Did I mention he is my last baby?

Liam at 2 years old


Liam at 23 months

24 February 2011

Liam 23 Months

Liam is almost 2 years old.

His is definitely his own little person now – with his own little personality. I say that with such surety, because he is now doing things that his older siblings do not do, and have never done.

He is a little fuss pot. If there is a boy-version for the word PRINCESS, then Liam is it. He is so picky about everything.

And trust me, my first two kids were NEVER like this. They were all relaxed and not-fussed about small things.

But Liam! He doesn’t like sand in his sandals, he doesn’t like to have dirty hands, he doesn’t like to wear certain t-shirts, he only wants to drink from the PINK cup, and the pink cup has to be CLEAN.

It’s kind of annoying, but at the same time very cute. And because he is my last baby, I can feel myself looking past all his peculiarities and going all lovey-dovey on him.

Playtime

Liam has two big brothers to entertain him all day. He is constantly surrounded by noise and movement and talking. So when the older kids are at school, Liam comes to me looking to be entertained. He wants someone to read him a story, someone to talk to him, someone to wrestle him, someone to just watch.

He’s not great at playing by himself, or with other kids his age.

But again, that’s fine because I just love hanging around the little guy. Did I mention he’s my last baby?

Usually I have to take him out during the day – or else he will trash my house.

I can’t do many chores at home while he plays around me in the house, because he gets bored and “tries to help” by throwing all the kitchen stuff onto the floor, pulling all the books off the shelves and tossing them into the hallway, yanking all the shoes out of the cupboards.

Liam is super active, but he loves his sleep. At night he sleeps, from 7pm to 7am. He needs to take a 1.5 to 2 hours nap sometime during the day. And he drinks half a cup of cow’s milk before bed.

Eating

Liam eats whatever we eat. I don’t make him a separate meal. But most times he pushes the meal away and says, “I no like it.”

Some weeks he will refuse to eat anything but corn chips for dinner.

Other weeks (like this week) he will only eat green lettuce, peas, corn and carrot sticks. In fact, yesterday he hungrily ate 6 large lettuce leaves for dinner and kept asking for more. Crazy!

So I figured that within a month, he’ll get enough vitamins and minerals to keep him healthy and well balanced! I hope!

Development

Mr Messy and Mr Bump

He just LOVES the Mr Men characters.

If there was a hero to sum up his early childhood, it would be his favourite character Mr Messy, followed closely by Mr Bump.

We read Mr Men books ALL DAY, we draw Mr Men characters ALL DAY and he drags around a stack of Mr Men books wherever he goes. He can identify 30 of all the Mr Men listed on the back of each book.

None of my other two kids were particularly interested in the Mr Men series. But I really like them… they’re hilarious!

Liam 23 Months

Turns out that he’s remarkable at identifying shapes. My other kids never did this at such an early age.

He loves his pointing and shouting “SQUARE! SQUARE! RECTANGLE! RECTANGLE! RECTANGLE!” at every single brick on a paved pathway. It takes us forever to walk anywhere.

So I’ve started teaching him shapes, numbers and letters of the alphabet.

He can now point to letters on the street and on signs boards, he can recognise numbers on food packaging, and he can identify his own name. It’s kinda scary if I think about it too much (argh he’s growing up so fast!), but most of the time I’m very nonchalant about it.

Liam is very, very, very talkative. It surprises a lot of people. And he’s like a little parrot – mostly repeating the last three words of everything anyone says.

His older brothers have taught him to say words like “Stupid” and “Disgusting”. Which really annoys me. But I don’t turn it into a big deal, so he doesn’t say it around me. He just says those words (and others!) around his brothers, who respond with laughter and lots of new words.

Sometimes Liam will say something that will totally floor me, like…

“Mummy! Liam watch TV. Despicable me! On TV.”

or “Mummy, play scissor, paper, rock with me!”

The kid’s not even 2 yet!

A few months ago, I wrote a post called, The Relentless Rollercoaster about how Liam’s development was driving me totally batshitcrazy. Well, I can’t believe that was the same kid! Things are peachy at the moment. It is a rollercoaster indeed.

And lastly, here are some interesting photos. They are of Sean (my second born boy) looking exactly the same as Liam does now. Scary!
Me and Sean (1 year old)
Sean at 22 Months
Sean at 23 Months


Liam at 19 months

13 October 2010

Liam at 19 Months

OK. Liam is so cute that it makes my ovaries ovulate.

He is definitely my last baby, and I’m glad about that. But it also makes him EXTRA SPECIAL in a way that, perhaps, only a mother can know.

He’s only 19 months, and I’m already weepingly nostalgic for the smell of new baby skin. Skin with all those tiny, amazing wrinkles that give them room to grow into, and that superhero strong grip their little fingers have.

Thankfully, I don’t have any big news about Liam. He is perfectly happy and healthy, and doing all the things he should be doing when kids are one and a half years old. But, like all kids, he is doing them his own, unique way.

He is developing his language skills at a terrific rate, and has even started joining two words together, like “Daddy-Gone” of “Bye-Mama”.

He has realised that although he is small, he can have a BIG impact on the world around him. He will shout “DOWN! DOWN! DOWN! DOWN!” louder and louder until an adult realises that what he means is that he wants to be lifted UP.

(I said his language skills were developing, not perfect!)

And his coordination skills are excellent. He can now pick up a stick, and use it to WHACK his brother sharply over the head with it.

Because Liam is still so small, he is THE BABY, and the older brothers can do nothing about it but wail in protest. One day soon, Liam will discover that older brothers can shove back. But right now, he is getting away with it.

Liam is also obsessed with repetition, which I remember is also a stage my other boys went through. However, neither of the other boys were obsessed with wanting to clean up.

Liam walks around till he finds a bottle top, straw or any other bit of rubbish, picks it up, and then carries it towards the rubbish bin, shouting “Bin! Bin! BIIIIIIIIIN!” Then he shouts “DOWN! DOWN! DOOOOWN!” until someone lifts him UP so he can throw the bit of rubbish in the bin.

And then he shouts “More! MORE! MOOOORE!” as he marches off to find another bit of rubbish. He’s on a mission, and nothing can stop him.

Liam at 19 Months

And it looks like my husband’s Viking genes have won out – the coppery red hair is here to stay, at least for a while, and maybe till Liam goes grey.

I hope he doesn’t have the fiery temperament that tradition claims goes with the hair, but if he does, I’ll try and teach him to manage it, while he is still under my motherly influence – which will hopefully be forever.

*Deep, long, contented sigh of a mother totally in love.*


Liam 18 Months

23 August 2010

Liam - 18 months

My baby is 1½ years old! And he is definitely the most easy-to-look-after kid I’ve had.

He is at a SUPER CUTE age – constantly exploring the world, happy with the simplest things, full of smiles and giggles, and not old enough to talk back!

I took this photo of Liam in our backyard. We were eating an apple together and I peeled off the “Grown in WA” sticker and stuck it on his nose. He laughed and walked around the garden with it on his scrunched up little nose, snorting like a pig. Too cute.

At this age, people seem to ask me these questions.

Does he say any words?
His latest favourite thing to say is “READY GO!” Tragically, he picked it up from the computer game Super Mario Kart.

He says heaps of other words, I think 24 in total, like – daddy, mama, ball, water, down, book, draw, star, car, ear, pop corn, banana, meow, see ya, bye, poo, wow, more, gor gor (Chinese for big brother), bike ride, shoe, sock, and of course, ready and go.

Lots of people have told me that this is pretty advanced for a 18month old, so please don’t compare if you have a toddler too!

He can also point to his ears, head, mouth, nose, and belly button. And follow lots of verbal instructions.

Does he eat well?
He doesn’t drink any milk at night, formula or cow’s milk.
He can eat like there is no tomorrow, if he likes the food. He is a little fussy. He loves pasta, rice, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn, carrots, noddles, toast, sausages.

How many teeth does he have?
He has 16 teeth. 8 top, 8 bottom.

His sleep patterns?
He still sleeps from 6:30pm at night to 6:30am in the morning. He likes to have at least 1 hour nap sometime during the day, but he’s not too fussed WHEN he has it.

Is he active?
Hell yes.

Does he get along with his older brothers?
Yes! The other two kids are really, really good with him. They know all the rules and how to look after him. They are pretty helpful with keeping an eye on him.

Have you begun toilet training?
HA! No! But he does walk over to tell me when he’s done a poo. (He looks at me with a worried expression and pats his tummy.) It’s rather convenient.

I didn’t teach him that at all. He just does it.

Liam - 18 months

Photo: We were going to a wedding and I bought Liam a special little outfit. Shirt $2 and pants for $3 from an op shop. And just as predicted, he smeared tomato sauce over the shirt.

At this age, kids also start to pick up “weird little habits”, and they just keep doing them no matter what. It’s actually quite cute, but weird and annoying.

Weird habit #1
When he wants to eat a banana, he screams NANA-NANA-NANA!
If I peel a banana for him, he throws it on the floor, and keeps screaming NANA-NANA-NANA!
So I give him another UNPEELED banana – and he’ll sit there happily eating the banana, peel and all – starting from the middle, and tearing it open with his teeth like a monkey.

Weird Habit #2
He likes to be bare foot on his right foot. EVERY SINGLE TIME I put shoes on him, he’ll take off his right shoe and sock. He then hides the shoe and sock somewhere. So it’s impossible for me to find it, and I get so frustrated, that I just leave him with one bare foot.

And sometimes when I’m in a rush trying to head out the door, I can’t find ANY matching pairs of shoes or socks, so I feel like a dumbass dressing my son in mis-matching shoes. And he’ll still take off the right shoe + sock.

People will come up to me in the shops, and say “Are you aware your son has lost one shoe?”

(He’s happy to wear sandals on both feet though.)

Weird Habit #3
He loves drawing and shouting DRAW DRAW DRAW!
But when I give him a pencil and he munches the lead bit off. To him, pencils are a kind of fibrous snack.

Weird Habit #4
He likes to put stickers on his face. I wonder where he learned that from?

Weird Habit #5
Maybe not a “weird” habit – he sucks his thumb! We really didn’t mind it when he was little, and he only did it for a few minutes before he went to sleep.

But now he does it all the time, and it’s just a comfort and boredom thing. He sucks it so often that a few months ago, the skin on his thumb became soft (read: digested), gross red, and badly infected, and he had to be on antibiotics.

Since then, we’ve had to sew up the hands of his bed clothes, so he can’t get to it at night.


Drinking Tea with Liam

10 June 2010

Drinking Tea with Liam

My 14 month old baby has an insatiable curiosity for the world around him.

He relentlessly picks up and examines everything! It drives me crazy!

The other day I was sitting in the sunshine, enjoying a cup of tea by the river.

Liam had eaten a scone, spilled a cup of water, torn open packets of sugar, whizzed my tea bag over his head… and now left me in peace while he toddled around the playground.

When I slurped the last of my tea, I SAW THIS!

He had placed a little sauce dish into my cup of tea!

Ugh, how did I not notice?!?


Baby 3: Liam at 13 Months

12 May 2010

Liam at 13 months

We were at the beach a few weeks ago, and I took this photo of Liam as he chased after waves and got splashed by his brothers. I simply love his expression because it just captures the sheer happiness, exhilaration and uninhibited, screaming joy of being a kid.

Liam is developing a very strong personality! He wants to be like his big brothers, and when he feels that he is left out, he SCREAMS! When he wants something, he SCREAMS! If something is taken away, he SCREAMS!

I guess it’s not so much of a scream… it’s more of a LOUD frustrated, outraged complaint – EERRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!

But other than that, he’s a very happy kid.

As long as he can explore the outdoors, have singing and cuddle time, and a biscuit in his hand, he’s good as gold.

Liam on a Bike Ride

As I mentioned last week, I have been doing a lot of cycling with Liam. He sits in the child bike seat while I ride. And when we reach my favourite park by the river, sometimes we stop, have a stretch, play on the grass and share a snack.

Such a simple moment… and these pictures will help me remember it forever, after he’s grown up and got his own life.

It’s one of the reasons I keep blogging, I guess.


Baby 3: Liam Walks

7 April 2010

Liam at 1 year - Kicking a ball

My 1 year old baby walks now. A lot.

It is his preferred mode of transportation, unless he is tired.

It’s amazing. First he took a few steps. Then a few more.

Now he can change directions, turn corners, reverse. He can even stop and pick up something.

As you can see, his latest trick is to walk behind a ball and kick it along.

The kid dribbles a soccer ball!

Liam at 1 year - walking

Everyone who sees him is shocked by his hair colour.

It’s RED! Even I’m shocked!

There’s ginger hair on my husband’s side of the family. But what happened to the Asian genes??


Baby 3: Liam Turns One

25 March 2010

Liam Turns One Year Old

You know, I first started talking about having a third baby in October 2007. I was considering the issues of two vs three kids. And every week since then, I’ve been writing a little bit about the whole journey in a series, Making Baby 3.

And it’s funny, because I often forget that for the last 3 years, a lot of my readers have been “on” this journey with me. So the fact that this baby is now ONE YEAR OLD… completely shocks some people.

They can’t believe how fast time flies! How kids grow up so quickly! How life can move along at such a swift pace! How they remember when he was first born!

That’s right! Life is short!

It scares some people. And heck, it scares me.

To see my little baby with 8 teeth and a cut on his nose, from where he fell into a rose bush. He’s so big now!

Liam Day 1

I remember the morning after I gave birth to Liam in such exquisite and vivid detail.

I remember pulling back the curtains in my hospital room and letting in a beautiful blue morning light. I opened the window a little bit to let some fresh air into the room too. I scooped up my baby from his cradle, lay him on the bed and changed him into a new outfit with polka dots.

I remember thinking, my goodness, I made a baby! How do I look after a baby again?

I turned him around so I could see his face and eyes, and he blinked slowly in a sleepy daze.

Now look at him!

Liam Turns One Year Old

It’s pretty hard to say what kind of personality Liam has. Overall he is very easy-going and undemanding, with a lot of energy and interest in the world.

I have a feeling that a big part of his personality will be defined by his big brothers. They are just the most amazing things in the world to him, and all he wants to do is follow them around.

Anyway, I love how these photos turned out! I love spontaneous and natural portraits!

I was mucking about with him on the floor, and I put a hat on his head. Then he just scrunched up his face and broke out in a series of cute, little, snorting laughs.

He is one cute and cuddly little guy, and I feel very, very blessed.


Liam Meets, and Eats, the Beach

6 January 2010

Little Liam continues to thrive. He has reached the stage where he can easily pick up something as small as a mushy pea, and put it directly into his mouth. So of course, now he puts everything that he finds into his mouth to see if it is food or not.

liam-eats-seaweed

Last week, I plonked him on the beach, which happened to be covered with lots of different varieties of seaweed.

The poor little guy! He was so confused by all the green and red vegetable-looking seaweeds. He chewed them for a long time, sand and all, bemused by the textures and flavours of the seaweeds. And I think he swallowed one of them, which is not actually recommended in any good parenting guide I have read.

I just keep reminding myself that it’s all good experience for him, and it must be doing his immune system wonders!


Making Baby 3 – Liam’s 3 Month Milestones

10 June 2009

Making Baby 3 - Liam’s 3 Month Milestones

Liam is almost 3 months old. He weighs about 5kgs – I say “about” because I haven’t actually gone into the clinic to weigh him. He just feels like the same weight as a bag of rice.

He sleeps 11-12 hours through the night, and takes a big 2 hour nap in the morning, followed by several small 30 minute naps through the day. He is, by far my favourite baby, just don’t tell the others.

He has very good control of his head. He can turn to look at things. He notices people when they walk into the room. And smiles a lot.

New for this week, is that he can bring his hand to his mouth and suck on his thumb. Sometimes he misses and you can often find him bashing himself on the chin – which is actually quite cute, and not at all as cruel as it sounds.

But his cute factor has also risen threefold this week, as he is quite a chatterbox.

If he is awake, and if someone picks him up, makes eye contact with him, and talks to him… he will immediately goo and gaa and sing back with smiles, chuckles and a little sparkle in his eye. Good lord, it is so so so cute.

It’s enough to make me want another baby – but that WON’T be happening!

Photo: He also likes talking to his new friends, Goldilocks and the three bears. At first he eyes them up suspiciously, then after a round of introductions, he’ll happily chat away at them. Like I said. So. Cute.


Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.


Liam at 6 Weeks

14 May 2009

Liam at 6 Weeks

Liam weighs 5.1kgs and is 57cm. He gave me his first smile the other day, and now you can’t stop him!

Liam at 6 Weeks


Designer Boutiques on William St

12 September 2007

On WilliamI hit the city today for a funky art + fashion exhibition event at some of my favourite little designer boutiques on William Street.

Entitled Windows on William, the exhibition teamed up local artists and retail stores – to promote the new vibe on the street. I loved it! The shops were spilling out with people, designer bits and pieces, cool designer vintage clothes, art and accessories.

I thought I’d give my favourite shops a plug :

HH
Harry Highpants
259 William Street
Northbridge, WA
(08) 9328 2635
Blog : http://www.harryhighpants.com.au

KL
Keith and Lottie
276 William Street
Northbridge, WA
(08) 9328 8082
Online Shop : http://www.keithandlottie.com

LLO
Lalaorange
411 William Street
Northbridge, WA
Online Shop : http://lalaorange.com.au


Coffee Catch Up: May 2018

21 May 2018

Lemon Sky

Hi everyone!

Here’s a mysterious photo of my lemon tree, branches bowing from the weight of lemons (which aren’t very good because we don’t water it enough) set against the beautiful, blue Perth sky on an Autumn morning. The image makes me beam with delight!

Anyway, I’ve been jotting down lots of little stories for my “Catch up with me over coffee” blog post… so here goes!

1) New Ambassador Based Projects

My latest projects for Kailis Jewellery, Breast Cancer Care WA and HBF Run for a Reason (and a few more) are in full swing. Keep an eye out on my Instagram (@karenlycheng) and I’ll be posting about them on my blog next week too.

2) Reducing Freelance Hours

Recently I’ve been cutting back on the amount of work I take on, because I have a lot of LIFE STUFF happening.

I’m planning and organising our upcoming 4 week family holiday. I know this is such a first world problem, but it’s such a headache to research, look for the best deals, gather contacts and information, compile an itinerary, send emails, book tickets. It’s taken me weeks!

I think for once I’d like to go on a holiday where everything is organised perfectly for me. That’ll be a real holiday for me!

I also had a few things to organise… stuff for my father in law, stuff for the kids, and medical/dental stuff too… which brings me to my next point.

3) My 9 year old had dental surgery recently – eekk!

He and my husband woke up at 6am one morning to head to the hospital. Then he had a general anaesthetic to extract a few “extra teeth” that were pushing against his regular teeth. According to the experts, the extra teeth needed to come out now (one was growing in his palate?!) or they would cause problems in the future.

I was pacing up and down my house, my stomach all in knots and my heart fluttering from all the nervousness. I’m glad my husband went and not me.

Hours later, he was a bit sore, tired and grumpy about the numbness, but he was absolutely fine.

He even snuck outside to ride his bike on the street with the neighbours in the late afternoon! Ugh!
4) And speaking of neighbours, a new family moved into the house across the road.

They also have two boys aged 10 and 8, so they are very similar ages to Liam, my 9 year old.

They have been a breath of fresh air for our family dynamics! Liam plays with them every afternoon, for hours and hours and he is so happy! It has been wonderful to see him play with kids his own age. Sure he has heaps of friends at school. But this kind of play is a kind of long-form play brought about by boredom, hanging around and thinking up of crazy boy ideas.

Now Liam has someone to play Beyblades with, talk about Pokemons, play tennis on the street, dig holes in the garden, make books about cats, draw Minecraft pictures, build a cubby house, ride to the park, make lemonade from lemons in the backyard… all the things my older boys used to do when they were younger.

It made me realise that my older two boys (aged 15 and 13) just don’t play in that kiddy way anymore. If they did play tennis on the street with Liam, they would get so frustrated by his lack of skill, or start playing at a lower skill level, but then move to an increasingly higher level, and then eventually Liam would get frustrated. Fights! Tears! Screaming! Every! Single! Day!

So in a way, Liam has missed out on a lot of brotherly “long-form play” over the years. I’m so happy he has some new buddies his age to spend time with.

5) As for my older boys…

I’ve been slowly teaching my 15 year old some life skills and responsibilities.

Meaning: When life stuff comes up, I make him do it.
He recently bent his debit card and it stopped working. He couldn’t use it for paypass, but he could still buy stuff online. Every time he complained about it, I politely reminded him that all HE had to do was call up the bank to get a replacement. So easy!

After 6 weeks of procrastination (ugh, teenagers!) he finally looked it up online and discovered that he didn’t have to call and talk to a human, he just had to log into his account and apply for a new one online. But he now has to wait 7 more days for it to arrive in the mail haha.

Lesson: Sometimes things are not as hard as you imagine they’ll be.

He also recently broke the gears on my bike (my derailleur!) and I made him walk it to the bike shop (only 1.5km away), explain to the bike guy what happened, arrange contact details, payment, pick up details and walk back home. He was not happy, but he did it anyway. Only cost him $70 in the end.

Lesson: If you borrow something and break it, it’s your responsibility to pay for it and fix it.

Omg every day something new happens and there are new lessons to be taught. It’s been slow and painful. But he’s doing pretty well and he’s such a great kid.

6) My 13 year old boy got a job too.

I think it’s such a great/important/crucial way for teenagers to grow up, learn skills, interact with other adults and start being independent.

He has been helping my brother-in-law with house renovations, in particular, moving and cleaning bricks – hundreds of them! It’s good hard work and he gets paid by the hour.

Apparently he’s a “good worker” with a “good attitude”… which is exactly what I want to hear, yay!!

7) Thinking about universities

I know right?! What the heck?!

With lots of encouragement from his high school, my 15 year old has started to thinking about what he wants to do after high school, which university he wants to go to, what course he wants to take etc etc.

My mind is blown. I can’t deal with it.

8) Randomly, I’ve been invited to be on an Australian Reality TV Show

I received an email asking if I’d like to be a contestant on an Australian version of the Chinese mega-show “If You Are The One”!

Haha! Um, no thanks!

Firstly… 1) I’m already married… 2) I’m not exactly a fun-loving 22 year old!?! 3) I’m old, boring, I like gardening and reading, I’m cynical and sarcastic of all things media and TV reality show related and… 3) I’m ethnically Chinese, so the TV producers are probably going to portray me as an “exotic”, “piano/violin playing”, “straight A student”, “quite-spoken prude”, or “dragon cougar lady”. Haha omg no thanks!

OK that’s all from me!

Have a fantastic week!

xxx


Backyard Activities: The Tinkering Project

14 October 2017

Shed Mess 2017

During the school holidays, we like to “force” our kids to be bored and to tinker.

We like to entertain them with directed, long term projects… to combat the ol’ screen obsession thing.

I don’t take any credit for this. This is all my husband’s doing. His brain is just bursting with these weird and wonderful ideas. I suspect these are the things he did as a kid? Which are far cooler than what I did as a kid (I played with Barbie dolls).

He takes the kids to the junkyard to pick up old computers and old microwaves to take apart.

He gives them some tools, then he walks away.

Liam Disassembling Project

We have a Messy Area in our backyard, which is, why yes, messy all the time.

My 8 year old started on “his” computer. He was pretty excited to get stuck into it.

Liam Disassembling Project

We let them work on their project for however long they want.

They can cut, poke, stab, pry, crack, smash, break… anything they want.

They can sort items, build something, connect something, try to put it back together, or just take it to pieces.

They are always FULL of interesting questions by the end of it.

Liam Disassembling Project

We (ie. my husband) are pretty good at answering their questions about computer parts, metals, electricity, connections, and how things work.

But we also let them watch YouTube videos on: How to take computers apart. How does a cooling fan work? Which metal conducts electricity better? How are alloy metals made? Etc etc.

(There is soooo much interesting/wacky/niche video content on the internet! It’s part scary and part fascinating.)

Shed Mess 2017

I think the kids enjoy it all. I wouldn’t say they LOOOOVED it.

I suspect they would rather be playing computer games.

But they can get pretty absorbed by it. And 2 hours can pass by quickly.

(Which is 2 hours NOT on a computer game.)

Shed Mess 2017

This is one of my older boys, cutting up an old bike.

They are harvesting bits of aluminium for another project (please don’t ask!)

It keeps their fingers and brains busy – it’s awesome!.


Snorkelling at Greens Pool, Walpole

7 January 2017

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

During our holiday, we had such beautiful summer weather that we spent most days at the beach!

One of our favourite spots in the Walpole and Denmark area is Greens Pool, in the Williams Bay National Park. Heck, the place is so beautiful, I think it is everyone’s favourite spot.

We’ve been there a few times to hang out and swim, but this time we wanted to do something different. We wanted to go snorkelling with the kids.

We’ve taken them a few times in the past. But they’ve never really liked it. They always get cold really quickly (within 10 minutes!) and then they spend the rest of the day shivering under a towel on the beach.

So this time we bought them some wetsuits hoping they’d have a better time in the water (these are actually called Spring Suits which I bought for $50 each).

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

Unfortunately the ocean was SO COLD they only lasted about 30 minutes in the water.

(It was the Southern Ocean after all, between Australia and Antartica!)

Plus there wasn’t that much to see underwater. A few fish and lots of sand and seaweed.

As for me, I waded into the water and – yep – even I was surprised by how cold the water was.

I was really, really, REALLY reluctant to put on my wetsuit and go for a snorkel too.

I had so many reasons not to do it: the water was bloody freezing, the kids were already out of the water and wrapped up in their towels, there was no coral to see, I’ve seen seaweed before, I was feeling hungry, it was almost lunch time and I’d have to help make some sandwiches, I didn’t have my fins, mask or snorkel, I’d have to borrow the kid’s set, the beach and sand was so lovely and warm, PLUS I haven’t worn my wetsuit in about 8 years… maybe it didn’t fit me anymore, as neoprene tends to shrink and harden when not used often.

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

But in the end, I thought OMG KAREN, WILL YOU JUST LIVE A LITTLE?!

So I grabbed my wetsuit and I literally had to squeeze myself into it.

It was soooooooo tight. When I grabbed a bunch of fabric at my leg and pulled, I broke two fingernails, because that’s how hard I had to grip and pull! I got a bit sweaty and flustered trying to put it on, it felt like it was suffocating me and I was getting a bit claustrophobic and dizzy. My collar was so tight on my neck that it felt like there were fingers squeezing at my throat.

I don’t mean to be so dramatic, but it was pretty uncomfortable and I was about to give up.

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

But the water was calling me, so I grabbed a mask and jumped in without much thought.

Icy water rushed into my suit and I squealed EEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP!

But oh my gosh! I INSTANTLY LOVED IT!

My suit made me very buoyant, it kept me super warm, it seemed to stretch in the water and I didn’t feel suffocated at all, I felt like I was wrapped up with a soft, fleecy tracksuit (in terms of warmth and comfort) and I ended up swimming in the ocean for about 2 hours that day – which is just unheard of for me.

I bobbed up and down in the water and I wanted to burst from happiness. I floated on my back and looked up to the sky, and every thing around me was blue blue blue, aqua blue, ocean blue, dark blue, green blue, sky blue, light blue, blue blue blue. It was just such a thrilling experience for me.

My main thought was, I have to do more stuff like this.

My husband jumped in too.

We started snorkelling around some big rocks, which had a strong current and we drifted through beautiful little pools. We were like silly kids, gleefully playing, laughing and duck diving to pick things up from the bottom.

Our kids were up on the rocks, watching us and waving to us.

Later on, my boys told me that they wished they weren’t so cold and wished they had jumped in and joined us too. I promised to buy them thicker wetsuits next time.

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

So this is was taken the next day. We went to another beach and I went through the whole drama of putting on my wetsuit and breaking my nails.

Again I spent about 2-3 hours in the water.

And again, I loved every minute of it!

Sean Snorkelling

By our second snorkelling experience (this time in warmer and shallower waters) my boys decided that they loved snorkelling and are keen to do more!

Yay, I guess the spring suits worked after all :)


Holiday Life, Chilling with the kids

20 December 2016

Liam's New Gear Bike

Life has been awesome at the moment!

It’s the school holidays… there’s only a few days until Christmas… and I’ve been spending heaps of “One on One” time with each of my kids and loving every minute of it.

I’ve rediscovered how funny they are. Like really funny. We have all these weird and wonderful conversations. We talk crap. We have all these “in” jokes. We mock each other. And we love a good car karaoke.

They are just so enjoyable to hang around with, when they are by themselves.

And I love hanging out at home with them too.

Sounds really boring, I know. But we just do little jobs. Hang around. Fix things. Do things.

Then occasionally, we’ll go out on mini adventures — off to buy batteries, pick up some milk from the shops, sit in a cafe, taking them to birthday parties, bowling parties, sleep overs, playdates, dentist appointments, set up our above ground pool, go out for sushi lunch, out to watch a movie, out to get some last minute Christmas presents, out to visit a park and more.

Yes things can get chaotic and noisy. But it’s all chilled and easy!

Life with a 13yo, 11yo and 7yo is just brilliant!


Life Blocks

7 November 2016

We’ve temporarily banned our kids from playing computer games, going on social media, youTube, and using any kind of digital device for the time being. They only get very limited use of the computer and tv.

My two big boys have been fine. They just go off to the park to play sport.

But my youngest – who is 7 years old – doesn’t like sport. And he is possibly the most obsessed (in a young kid who loves his heroes kind of way) with anything to do about computer games. He even admits that he can’t stop thinking about Mario Brothers, Minecraft and Pokemon Go, because it’s always in his mind.

Now part of me thinks it’s ABSOLUTELY FINE for a kid to love a subject so much that he can’t stop thinking about it. I’m like that too. But the problem is that, it dominates his mind so much that there’s little room for anything else.

He needs to work other areas of his brain!

Actually let me clarify that. He’s an extremely bright boy, top of his class, working well above his year level (no credit to me whatsoever) and he’s very advanced and exposed to a lot of things, due to him being the third child.

So I don’t have any concerns for his brain functions, learning, development etc. The only things I’m concerned about are… teaching him how to seek other areas for fun, enjoyment and happiness; helping him develop self-control and discipline; and helping him work on his social skills, imagination and creativity!

Anyway, he’s come up with a whole lot of very adorable and in a way, somewhat tragic, manifestations of his interests.

Liam's Life Blocks

He found some bits of wood from the shed and turned them into iPads? YouTube tablets?

I asked him about it and he told me they were 45 minute videos about 1) How Our Family Came To Be and 2) A David Attenborough style look at Australia… and he proceeded to narrate the script and describe his storyboard ideas to me, but I switched off after 60 seconds… OMG that boy can talk.

I do look at these and chuckle with delight. They say so much!

Hilarious. Cute. Tragic. Clever.


The Secret Lolly Stash

6 October 2016

Liam Dentist - Oct 2016

Ok so something funny happened recently.

(Not funny at the time though!)

My 7 year old came running to me crying and said he tasted blood in his mouth. I peered deep into his jaws and saw this HUGE blood blister on his gums, stretching above 3 of his back teeth.

I’m not doctor, but it looked like a seriously infected site to me. I booked an emergency dentist and went for an appointment at 7pm (!).

How long has he tasted blood? Apparently 3-4 days. He just didn’t tell me!

How long has he had pain in his mouth? 1-2 weeks. He just didn’t tell me!

How long has he NOT been brushing his teeth? 3 months apparently. And he definitely didn’t tell me about that.

UGH!

The result: One back tooth was 1/2 decayed and needed to be extracted. And 8 other teeth needed fillings.

What the???

Me! The mother with low-sugar recipes, no soft-drinks rules, no fizzy drinks, no juice, no lollies, no ice cream, no cakes and no sweet biscuits in the house.

Me! The mother with daily fruit and vegetable platters, who makes high-protein snacks like cheese and biscuits, nuts and healthy protein balls…

Me! After having significant orthodontic work done as a teenager, with top and bottom braces, dental surgery to extract teeth and all my wisdom teeth, having to wear a special head gear for 6 months — all to realign my teeth. I was adamant that my kids would look after THEIR teeth.

HO HO HO!

OH THE IRONY — I looked at the $2500 quote (to fix his baby teeth!) and laughed and cried.

So how did this happen to my child?

Since coming home from our overseas trip to Scotland (in July), my son decided that he didn’t like his toothbrush for some random reason, he asked me for a new toothbrush, I said “No, there’s nothing wrong with your toothbrush.” and so he stopped brushing his teeth in the mornings and evenings. He told me that he did brush his teeth and I never actually checked to see if he did or not.

AND. He had a huge, secret stash of lollies under his bed, which he grazes on every day!!

SIGH.

Thankfully our regular family dentist was hooked up with our private health care provider, and turns out it’ll only cost us around $800 for the treatment.

And I suppose it’s a good thing that this didn’t happen to his adult teeth.

GRRR.

In terms of his consequence (although, I have no problems calling it HIS PUNISHMENT): My 7 year old boy now enjoys a complete BAN from any sugary items… which he has accepted surprisingly well. In fact, I’ve watched him decline offers of sugar treats very gracefully and maturely. He’s only allowed to have something sweet on special occasions. I haven’t set an end date on this ban, but I suspect it’ll be CHRISTMAS!

(However, someone gave him a chocolate bar the other day, and I saw him stash it in a NEW box, for AFTER his ban! What a cheeky little poo-head!)


When Plush Toys Get Annoying

17 August 2016

Liam's Plush Toys

My youngest boy loves his plush toys.

But I’m not talking about your typical teddy bear or rabbit. Hell no.

He’d have the whole cast of Star Wars 1,2,3,4,5,6 in plush if he had access to my credit card.

The reason for this story is that my boy’s favourite toy is this bomb.

The character is “Bob-omb” from the Super Mario video game, but my boy calls him “Bombie”.

It’s kind of cute and kind of weird.

He loves his Bombie. He loves it so much that he insists on taking it everywhere, and I’m CONSTANTLY SHOUTING at him…

“WHERE’D YOU PUT YOUR BOMB?? I TOLD YOU TO PUT IT IN THE BAG SO YOU DON’T FORGET IT!!”

“WILL YOU QUIT JUMPING AROUND OR THAT BOMB OF YOURS WILL FALL ON THE GROUND!!”

Obviously, this is so politically incorrect or socially sensitive or SOMETHING and it’s super annoying while out and about.

Can you imagine if we lost it in a shopping centre and I’m speaking to the lost and found people, trying to describe the toy without using the “B” word?

“Yeah it’s shaped like a bomb. BUT IT’S NOT A BOMB! It is. But it’s a TOY one. With legs! And big eyes!”

The upshot of this is Little Bombie has to stay on his bed – in his room – forever haha!