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Showing posts from January, 2014

Life in the Mirror

"Swallow your food!" An authoritative voice boomed from the living room.  "Children, swallow your food otherwise you can't go out!" I turned to the source of the voice. It was a 3-year-old boy, seated on the sofa with his three favourite soft toy "children" - Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Rather amused at the proceedings, I inquired, "Did Elmo swallow his food?" The young boy turned to the brick red creature. "Elmo, open your mouth."  "Elmo, you have to listen to your Daddy Z and swallow your food. Otherwise you can't go out. The little boy nodded his head. "Elmo [has] swallowed his food." "Good job, Elmo," I said. A tender moment. Z & E with their "children". We have always encouraged our older son to take on various roles during his playtime. One of his favourite activities has been to play with a toy cash register and receive money from us when

The Social Factor

It often starts with a courteous smile followed by  raised eyebrows and a slight alteration in the tone of the voice. This follows by a surprised "Wow!" or a curious "Really?" or even the unintended but clearly indicative "Oh." The conversation then launches into queries on why we have decided to homeschool our children and how different this is from mainstream education. And then comes the question that almost always escapes the lips of the other party: "Aren't you concerned that your child will lack social skills if you homeschool him?" The general public has a rather hazy picture of homeschooling. They imagine a tired mother conducting lesson after lesson for her child. This could either take the form of rigid classes and the regurgitation of facts. But more often than not, there is a general perception that homeschooling is unstructured and that the lessons are mostly unplanned and whimsical. There is also the perception that homesch

Sowing Seeds of Love

Motherhood is a perplexing thing. In the pure exhaustion of the daily business of handling two young boys I find myself looking forward to my two work days each week when the boys go to their grandparents' homes and I have a few precious hours of time away, not necessarily time to myself as there are chores to do and other children to teach, but sufficient for regrouping and a little rest and reflection. And yet, in that moment of parting when I see their little solemn faces through the car window as Nai Nai drives them off, it is somehow still hard to let them go. I confuse myself sometimes! Reflecting on our parenting are an important part of the process. Yesterday morning was no different.  We had had a gruelling weekend of three family gatherings in a row which had left a rather grouchy older boy and a clingy toddler.  The older one was sensing the impending separation and acting up the whole morning. Finally bundled up in their grandma's car, I waved goodbye to th

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 7

Hallim Park We awoke with a certain sense of sadness; for it was our last full day in Jeju and we had grown fond of this picturesque and charming island. We quickly packed our things and headed out - we wanted to make the best of what we had left. Destination: Hallim Park. When we did the research for the trip, Hallim Park was described as one of the most kid-friendly places on the island. And we found this assessment to be very accurate. We were fascinated that the park was created from scratch in the 1970s by a farsighted individual. He literally transformed 100 thousand square metres of barren land into the garden paradise it is today.  The park's official website presents this tribute to its founder: With luscious vegetation all around, the park was clearly one of our most favourite sites in the whole of Jeju! Beautiful flowers line the pathways of the park. These are changed periodically from season to season. Just a stroll in the park. Z e

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 6

Saryeoni Forest Sue had been reading about a special theme park for kids - the Cocomong Eco Park. We therefore packed our things and prepared to drive to the park, located in the south of the island. As there is only one major road artery leading to the south, we had to pass through the island's interior. During the drive there, I was lamenting on how I missed going on a forest trek and how much the boys enjoy walking. This especially since we were driving through luscious forests all around. It was then that we made the spontaneous decision to go for a forest trek. This alluring sign caused us to alter our itinerary for a lovely trek through the forest.  The air was pristine; peppered with the fresh scent of crisp leaves. The chirping of birds resounded through the air; almost like a choreographed orchestra. And we almost felt like we were walking in the scene from a Korean drama. Our son Z sets off on foot as eager as always. So proud that he walked on his own

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 5

Eco Land Theme Park After sending my in-laws to the airport, we headed off to the charming Eco Land Theme Park. But not before spending an extra amount of time getting the kids ready. During the one week that my in-laws were with us, we would whisk both children to their room early in the morning to be changed. But now, it was taking significantly longer to get ready (especially since both children attempted to look for their grandparents in their now vacant room). The charm of Eco Land is that it was built in a large primeval forest. And you get to sit on a steam-powered train all through the theme park. As a parent of two young boys, I could hardly wait to get there! This is what the official tourism website has to say: Eco Land Theme Park is built in the 1km² Gotjawal primeval forest. Visitors can explore around in a train that looks like 1800s’ steam powered Baldwin train. The five Baldwin train look-alike operated in the park were specially ordered and manually ma

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 4

Hallasan National Park We started our day planning to drive to the spectacular Jeongbang Falls, located south of Jeju Island. Little did we know that our journey would involve travelling through the island's interior. We were therefore pleasantly surprised when we stumbled upon large open meadows painted with snow. We excitedly hopped out of the car for some photo moments, and our older son Z was thrilled to explore the snow with his Daddy. A view from the road. Z and Daddy take a walk. A splash of snow. As we drove on, we realised that we were climbing up mountainous terrain. And before we knew it, we saw the parking lot for Hallasan National Park, the very place that my mother-in-law had been hoping to avoid given that it was supposed to be very cold around the area. But our adventurous spirit got the better of us, and it was not long before we were parked alongside the other cars, for there were many who were there to experience the scenic treks across t