Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly

July 2016

Due to our trip in Singapore, our summer in London was relatively short. Hence, we were heading out almost every week to farms, parks and whatnots. Basically, anything that is outdoors! Summer in the UK is just fabulous.

For our past 2ish years in London, we have never visited a lavender farm despite hearing so much about the beauty of it. That being said, we decided that we should cross this off the list in our third year. We decided to check out the lavender fields at The Hop Shop because it was the closest to us and we had a good experience prior for during the apple picking season.

After an hour plus of drive, we were greeted by the breath-taking, insanely gorgeous sea of purple. If you love the smell of lavender, this is heaven for you! We also decided to go for the lavender field tour conducted by the people at the The Hop Shop. The lady who was in charge of our group was very informative and enlightening. I sure did not expect to learn so much about lavender- how they grow, what are the best conditions and what are the many uses for lavender on that day. I went there with the intention of photo-taking but ended up understanding so much more about the flower.

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These days, Ryan loves taking photos! Only when the person he is taking photos with is Megan! Just look like how happy he looks next to his baby sister!

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Here’s Gillian, all dressed up in her Sleeping Beauty costume, because she is into this ‘princess’ and dressing up thing. She does not want to wear anything that is remotely ‘un-girly’, ala shorts and God forbids, trousers!

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After all the photo taking, we went to the shop and bought some food items for a quick lunch. Not sure why no photos were taken then but Kimberly managed to do much a short video of our time at The Hop Shop on Instagram! Do take a look here – https://www.instagram.com/p/BHshrpthvsM/?taken-by=cloudee

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As you may suspect, I am trying to get back to my blogging schedule! Do yes, do look out for more updates(and be supportive and encouraging! xxx) as I am aiming for at least 2 blog posts a week again! Out!

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Easter At Leeds Castle

April 2016

Leeds Castle always have been one of our favourite places to go and it was inevitable that we head off to Leeds Castle for some Easter holiday fun. As  we did not do any grocery shopping that week, we could not pack any picnic lunch. Fish and Chips at castle, it shall be then!

They had the similar Easter puzzle from last year. Last year, this time, Ryan needed more help from me in solving the puzzle. This year, he was much more pro-active in going around the place, trying to get the various letters and solve the puzzle. What a lot of difference a year makes.

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We got the children to dress up in their medieval costumes that day as well. I wanted to get some photography done for both of them. It fell through as I was feeling under the weather. Boohoo. It was April then, and still so cold that Saturday when we were there. It did not help that Gillian was so grouchy after her morning nap.

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As usual, we bought them each of them one of those bubble guns that the shops were selling. That is the ultimate highlight of the day. In some way, I do think Ryan and Gillian are easily satisfied.

You know how there is this cool app on Facebook callled, ‘On This Day’, which basically reminds you of what you were doing on that particular day, last year and the year before… I really like this app as it gives me abit of perspective. London has given us so much in this two years. Ryan started proper school here. Gillian almost grew up in this city, considering how she was barely one when we first got here. And Megan, she is born here! In some way or another, unconsciously, I do feel that I am falling in love with this country. I like how weekends are just about spending time with the family and there is no pressure to attend tuition or enrichment classes(yet!). The kids are able to run around freely in parks, castles, farms, given the huge amount of green space…. Of course, nothing and no where is absolutely perfect. But for now, I am just thankful for this opportunity for our family to be here.

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E and his 3 amigoes. I am not sure if I have blogged about this before but I do prefer going out versus staying home as E tends to be a hundred folds more useful when we are out. He will be in charge of driving, bringing the kids to toilets, feeding them and also playing with them. If we were home, it would mainly be me doing almost everything else! So, yes to going out!

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We went about doing the same things with the children, exploring the playgrounds and realised that the smaller playground was too kiddy for Ryan. We tried the playground for older kids and it was too adventurous for Gillian. (-_-)”’ In the end, it was just alot of assistance from us to help Gillian on the more difficult parts of the the playground for older kids.

Started making out way home around 4ish as it began to drizzle. Ryan did get his chocolate treat at the end since he completed his puzzle. Ohwells… It was a lovely day for the little ones. Slept oh-so well again!

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Great Little Trading Co. (GLTC) Showroom Experience

April 2016

Last afternoon, we were invited to the launch of Great Little Trading Co. Showroom. It happened to be on the day of the London Marathon and roads were blocked in my area. With driving no longer an option, public transport was the way to go. Ryan was happy though. He is always one for the trains.

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While the journey to the showroom was a tad too long for my liking, everything more than makes up for it when we stepped into the magical looking showroom. OMG. The kids were ecstatic! There were these pretty-looking children’s kitchen sets, mock-up bedrooms for boys and girls, great-looking storage furniture for all the books and toys. Whoever who said having children destroys the look of their home can be no further from the truth when you are standing in the showroom of Great Little Trading Co.

My vocabulary is just incapable of expressing how fabulous-looking the showroom is. So just, enjoy the photos below!

TOYS AND GAMES

Kids have are spoilt for choices when they are at the GLTC showroom. There are the play kitchen, the play shop, the trains and tracks, the garage and so many more options. The make of every toy is just beautiful. It is not some toy made to last than one year. The quality of the products definitely can stand time.

I am maybe biased towards wooden toys  but I do believe they are more durable and safer(no batteries, powered by only imagination!) than their plastic or metal counter-parts. When made well like the GLTC toys, these lovely toys are sturdy and strong enough to be an heirloom. I mean, we, mother love to get those Chanels, claiming to pass them down to our daughters. I am sure a GLTC dollhouse would be just as perfect a gift for our daughters and grand-daughters. (*hint hint* to Mister E!)

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CHILDREN’S FURNITURE

You know how children’s furniture can sometimes look a little tacky. However, your opinion will be changed upon seeing any of GLTC’s furniture for the little ones. Even , as an adult is moved. They are so classy, stylish and the colours used are so calming. They don’t just look good, they are made to last.

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ROOM ACCESSORIES

This is the tricky part. It is the small details that ties the entire look of the room together. I think at GLTC showroom, you can see how much they put in thought and effort into designing and conceptualising everything, right down to the finest detail. At GLTC, they make all these little add-ons almost essential. I want them all!

You know how some of us, parents can be design-challenged. I mean, we know what we like….those pretty stuff on Pinterest and yet are unable to do up anything like that. So, you are able to find these exacting, visually-soothing and yet utilitarian accessories at GLTC. These cutesy-whimsical wall-art was designed by the talented Rosalind Maroney, who was also there at the showroom, entertaining the children with art.

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HOME FURNISHINGS

I absolutely love the rug designs! My favourite would be the grey with white stars. Their rugs are made of pure, thick wool, so soft for the little feet.

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BEDROOM

Gillian went wild when she saw the girl’s bedroom. So pink and girly. Seriously speaking, they have a number of space saving sleeper beds. You know in London, space can be an issue. Their storage beds seek to be the solution for tight spaces. They also have top quality mattresses and linens to just make your shopping a whole lot easier. One-stop.

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STORAGE

A family with children would mean that we need lots of storage spaces. For toys. For their swim stuff. For the books. For art materials. There is an endless need for storage. Organisation is essential, especially in the mornings when everyone is rushing off to somewhere, be it work or school. There will be always someone asking me, ‘Mummy, where’s my other sock?’ or ‘Mummy, where’s my jacket? Where my book bag?’

A good storage system will save your mornings from been irritable. I really like how at GLTC, they are very serious about storage as seen from their choices of storage cubes, boxes and baskets. It is a shame that I did not take any pictures of them but you can check them out from the website. My favourite would be their wall shelves and I think we will be getting them for Ryan for his books and toys soon. Time for a second visit!

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THE PARTY and THE SHOWROOM EXPERIENCE!

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Just like the GLTC’s products, the party was meticulously planned with their clients(the children) in mind. It is not just their products, but they set about doing everything really well. There was an art activity with illustrator and designer, Rosalind Maroney. She was so sweet and patient when helping Gillian with her craft work of making a Cat Mask.

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Tamara Macfarlane, best-selling author of two fantastic series of books for children “Amazing Esme” and “Dylan and the Dinosaurs” was also at the event. She was there with Gilbert Giggles who is one of the very best children’s performers and circus entertainers. The children were so entranced by both of then during the story-telling! Ryan even managed to get an autograph from Tamara for his ‘Dylan and the Dinosaur’ post show. He was real chuffed about it!

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The showroom experience is child-friendly and simply wonderful. Like what you saw in the photos above, children are allowed free play in the store. Children were bouncing in beds, playing pretend at the play cafe, play kitchens and so on. It is really rare for any furniture store to allow children to test their furniture this way. This just affirms their trust in the products. The toilet at the GLTC showroom is also just as child-friendly, just check out the photos below! So, don’t you worry about visiting the showroom and haviing to find a toilet for your children. This showroom is made for your kids in mind!

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The CEO of GLTC, Jamie Reeve gave a small speech on his vision for Great Little Trading Company. It is a company with a long history. It is one that believes in making quality furniture for children, lots of storage for the home yet still looking stylish. He shared with us on how he refers back to the GLTC’s promise which is also painted on the wall of his showroom when he is making a product. If you look at the GLTC’s furniture, you can’t help but also note that the promise is encapsulated in every single of it’s item.

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Off my head, I have some reasons on why should you head down to GLTC with your little ones?

  • You are thinking of buying new children’s furniture for your new place. GLTC showroom will be a good place to start to get some good ideas on the design and colour scheme that will coordinate your entire house’s look.
  • You are looking for stylish children’s furniture with smart storage. You need proper and purposeful room accessories.
  • Your child’s birthday is coming and you are intending to get a new toy. Something that will allow them hours of imagination and play. Something will be stimulate their minds yet keep them calm. You definitely will find quality at GLTC.
  • Or just drop by with your little ones. Just to check-out the place. You know how London’s weather can be quite erratic. On a rainy day, I think you can spend part of your weekend just to browse around the shop. At GLTC showroom, what I really liked was that they allow children to test and play with their furniture. The staff is not worried. They trust their products to stand children’s play. That. itself speaks volume. Of their product and how they treat their customers or potential customers.

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The Need for Quiet

April 2016

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“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been–it may even be greater–for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.”

I saw a quote posted on the Gillian’s school Facebook page and I liked it a lot. It is by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Mr Moon.  As a mother, I do feel better knowing that my child(ren) is constantly occupied, doing something productive. I like knowing that they are in classes, they are learning something and not wasting their time. There was a point in my SAHM life when I planned both morning and afternoon activities for Ryan and Gillian. Everyday. It exhausted me out and it sure did tire them. After dinner, both kids would be knocked out.

Now, at 3 and 5 year old, both of them have pretty restless personalities. They always want something to do and are constantly wanting my attention. After reading some materials and comparing parenting styles between me and my peers, I am not sure but I surmised that I could have over stimulated Ryan and Gillian when they were younger? Or even when they were just in my womb? Think of those prenatal programs… Yea. I was one of those consumers. (-_-) ” ‘ Then, I possibly just cared about them having a head-start. Now, 5 years on, I think maybe the process of learning is more important.

This Easter holidays, I got to know both of my older ones better. We spent the first week, negotiating and renegotiating about television time. Most of the time, I win. I mean, I am the adult and the mother. So, it is now that I get to win. Both of my 10 April babies would concede, albeit unhappily. They take out their toys from the Ikea black boxes and start to play randomly. Sometimes, they play alone. Ryan with his trucks and cars. Gillian with her dolls or musical box. Sometimes, they make believe together. Both pretend to own a cafe or a clinic together. Sometimes, I don’t even know what they are playing because the place just looks like a huge mess. Unstructured play? Is that the correct term for it?

The idle play the kids go about with in the afternoon and evening is very therapeutic. It is very interesting and even somewhat amusing to listen in their conversations while they play. There will be alot of persuasion going on to get the other party agree to something. Every so often, it would result in a fight or perhaps a reassessment of a deal lest Mummy takes away everything. A few evenings ago, E and I saw Ryan, lounging on the sofa, reading the Children’s Bible. Reading might be an exaggeration but he was definitely flipping pages and focusing on his read. As a mother, I feel good seeing them concentrated and entertained by their quiet play. The ipads and smartphones will come eventually. I suspect that these intelligent devices are so intuitive that learning how to use them is a no-brainer.

My observation is that when they are left with no choice, no TV, no technology, they seem to be less angry. For my children, at least. I cannot explain why but I noticed that Ryan rarely throws a fit when he knows that television is no longer an expectation but a very precious reward when he finishes his homework or after he helps with the household chores.

‘Mom…. How did the weasels take over the world?’ Ryan asks after reading the book that we borrowed from the library this morning.

Yea… Quiet play also comes with the price of answering strange questions like that. To Ryan’s question, I have no answer. I got him to just think about it while he help me with Megan’s laundry load.

Disclaimer: Erhm… This is just a Facebook note for myself to look back upon. Not a parenting advice for anyone. (I am not a fan of any sort of parenting advice. I believe every child, every parent is different. Family dynamics and financial situation different. I really don’t think there can be a absolute in parenting given the number of variables.)

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Easter at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo

March 2016

As forecasted on BBC weather, Good Friday was going to be sunny. Hence, we planned to have an outdoor activity with the children. We were deciding between London Zoo and Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo. In the end, we went for the latter as we felt that the place would be more children-friendly and there was some Easter activities happening.

It was a good 45 minutes of car ride before we reached the zoo. It was around 11 when we finally got to the zoo. Kids had a short morning nap and they were raring to go!

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The children putting in animal snacks into the Easter eggs for the meerkats’ feeding time.

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It was not long before the children spotted the huge playground and ran towards it excitedly. We also decided to settle on one pf the picnic tables for lunch. Lunch was food items that we grabbed from Waitrose before we got to the zoo. I did not have time to prepare sandwiches and all that morning. (-_-)”’ Waitrose sandwiches were not too bad anyways.

What impressed me would be the play area at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo and not so much of the animals. The playground was filled with so many fun stuff that most of the children were there instead of checking out the animals.

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We lasted a good 4 hours at the zoo before we decided to head back home. Parking for anything above 4 hours is £23. We decided that we are good for 4 hours which cost us £9.20. It was a pretty nice experience at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo but I don’t think we will be returning. Not many animals types in the zoo and not as interactive as Africa Alive, the one that we went last year in Norfolk. The playground at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo is fantastic though. Both Ryan and Gillian loved every inch of the huge playground.

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A picture at the Peace Pagoda, one of the major landmarks at the Battlesea Park.

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Science Museum!

March 2016

Visiting museums is one of our favourite wet/cold weather activity. We went to Science Museum last Saturday and I thought the activities at the place were pretty child-centric. Both Ryan and Gillian loved it so much that they asked to return!

We got to Science Museum around 11-ish in the morning via public transport. The children love to be on buses and tubes. Ryan always get motion-sickness in the car but never on public transport. *sigh* We started the  day by browsing through some exhibitions. The children enjoyed playing on those interactive touch-screens. That Saturday, the museum also had some hands-on activities going on. Ryan and Gillian spent a good half hour with E making their paper telescopes.

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It wasn’t long before the kids got hungry. We left the museum to grab lunch at Comptoir Libanais. It was one of those recommended places to eat near the Science Museum and I am glad that we went there. Food was fantastic. It was my first time trying out Lebanese cuisine and yes, I am a fan now. Very interesting and refreshing flavours. My favourite would be the baklava dessert. In fact, I have stocked up my kitchen with boxes of baklava from Waitrose. So decadent!

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After lunch, we returned to the Science Museum for the second part of play. We went to the basement, which is also known as The Garden. The entire basement is a  dedicated floor just for children, aged 3-6. As you can see from the pictures, Ryan and Gillian were very occupied with water-play. In that same space, there are also a few others interactive areas that explore the concept of light, sound and construction. The children were all so engaged in their play.

They also went for a 30 minutes bubble show with E. I have to admit that when we head out, E is a much more dedicated and involved father than when we stay indoors. He is the one who takes them to toilets, sits with them during activities. I would usually be sitting somewhere, breastfeeding Baby Megan. So, 10 points for Lao Gong!

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We went for a coffee break at Pret before we headed home. Children were so worn out on the way home. Thankfully, not much fuss. That night, everyone slept really well.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

March 2016

Last Saturday morning, we headed off to the V&A Museum of Childhood after we dropped Ryan off for his school. Surprisingly, it exceeded out expectations as the place was pretty decent. Our stay at the museum started with a Children’s reading/singing session and Gillian enjoyed it so much.

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V&A Museum of Childhood is home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes. It has the largest collection of childhood objects in the United Kingdom. The museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and continues to do so with ‘Incredibles’ figures complimenting bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes. In fact, E found some toys(He-Man!?!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…) from his era in the museum and he looked really pleased about his find.

I particularly like the iron structure cage looking thing in the building. Upon research, I found out that the iron structure reused a prefabricated building from Albertopolis which was replaced with some early sections of the modern V&A complex. (Read here to find out more about the interesting story behind the architecture of the museum.)

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The museum has lots of hand-on stuff for kids dotted about the many cases of historic artefacts. I think Ryan would have so much fun at the museum should we bring him there for our next visit.

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If you were to ask me, I would suggest skipping the cafe as I found that it pricey(you might not since money is relative). There are plenty of cafes in Bethnal Green(go check out the restaurants and ratings at Trip Advisor) to check out anyways. We went to Macs for a quick nip before picking Ryan up from his class. 2 hours at this museum is far too short. V&A Museum of Childhood is definitely worth a second visit for us. 🙂

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