February Goals: Healthier Lifestyle and More

I have commited to sharing my monthly goals for a year and today I will continue with sharing my February Goals: Healthier Lifestyle and More.

Last year I haven’t posted much as I have been so busy figuring out what would be my next step in life. If I did, you would know that I lost around 27 kg through changing my eating habits and becoming more active.

Oh, I did gain half of it back! So no magic here – just ups and downs of eating habits.

Since half of February we are on holidays here in China, it will be easier to concentrate more on my eating habits and my health.

Besides, if you follow my newsletter and my Instagram account, you would know that I have also taken my Aromatherapy hobby more seriously and I now have a second website as a wellness and aromatherapy advocate: Aromatherapy With Varya. And another IG account – aromatherapyvarya . You can follow me, by the way, if this topic is of any interest to you.

Getting back to my goals:

1. Work on eating habits and healthier meals.

2. Adding more exercise to my daily routine.

3. At least 2 Live workshops per month for both my sites.

4. This one is exciting: complete preparation for a series of workshops on cooking and DIY with essential oils.

5. Start bi-monthly Montessori series.

That’s about it. I don’t think all of it would be a matter of just one month. I am sure this will stretch well into the next. I just feel inspired and motivated, and I know I can do it!

While thinking about your own goal, stop by Mama Smiles and 3 Dinosaurs to see what they have planned for February!

Five Ideas for Dates When You Have Young Kids {That Worked for Us}

Some years ago I wrote a post on Dating Your Husband with Children. That was before we had our 3rd. Now that all our 3 kids are bigger, here are Five Ideas for Dates When You Have Young Kids that worked for us.

1. Movie night date in our living room. This is after hours, when everyone is asleep. Usually we end up just watching an episode of a favourite show. But once in a while we actually get to sit through a whole movie!

2. Lunch date. Since both of us work relatively close to each other, we go on lunch dates. We get to spend a couple of hours just the two of us.

3. Bicycle ride date. We haven’t done many of those. We actually went on just ONE bicycle ride just the two of us. But it is in the plans!

4. Salsa night date. This would only work if you have an older child who can babysit. Even in our case this babysitting happened for 1 hour while the over two were down for the night, and we were just 10 minutes car ride away.

5. Nap date. This is what we do sometimes during our lunch break – we pass out for a short nap! I love that Chinese schools usually have long lunch break where both children and teachers can go for a nice rest. So we take advantage of that.

Today is my husband’s birthday! So I dedicate this post to him!

Feel free to share your ideas with ms!

Come back and check out all of the great ideas these awesome bloggers are sharing. You can find an updated schedule over at Inspired by Family. Our 12 awesome mom bloggers are: Paradise Praises , Inspired by Family, Beauty Through Imperfection, The Gingerbread House , The Classy Chapter , Confidence Meets Parenting, Pichea Place, Thinking Kids Blog , Simple Acres Blog, Clarissa West, Creative World of Varya, The Educators Spin On It

Ten Fun Facts About Teaching in China {What It Is Actually Not}


This my 17th Spring Festival in China, and after teaching here for as many years I thought it would be fun to share some facts with you. This post is about Ten Fun Facts about Teaching in China, however, it is actually how teaching in China is not what you thought it would be!

Fact #1:

Teaching in China is NOT boring! It can actually be quite fun: children truly adore foreign teachers, and if you get to experience lots of new thing.

Fact #2:

Your bachelor’s degree is NOT enough. You need to get a TEFL certificate which is a requirement for a work permit application.

Fact #3:

Your schedule is NOT stable. You can definitely some last minute changes. Oh, it can be frustrating but if you set your mind on flexibility – you will adapt fast!

Fact #4:

You CAN’T expect that everyone will be doing things like it is “back home”. Get ready to the unexpected: yes, sometimes it is like being in the outer space, exploring new planets.

Fact #5:

NOT all your students are interested in foreign teacher classes. Many of them are too preoccupied with scoring high scores in Math and Chinese, hence you will see a lot of snoozing in your lesson, or someone quickly doing their homework. Go easy on them! Just make your lessons fun enough for them to follow.

Fact #6:

Your contract is NOT written in stone. In fact, you will definitely be asked to perform some demo classes and participate in activities that are not listed in your contract. Make sure to clarify all little details, and discuss possible and impossible scenarios. Better yet – you should have it all in writing. Refer to Fact #4.

Facts #7:

Teaching in China is NOT the same as teaching back home. For instance, unless you are a lead subject teacher, or work in an international school, you will not be expected to attend parent-teacher conferences, nor really grade your students. Big relief, huh? I know! It was a huge change for me: coming to short lessons plans from pages of lesson plans and feedback for each student I had to write at home!

Fact #8:

People DON’T always mean what they say. Oh no, I don’t mean they are liars! Quite the opposite: I see Chinese overall as quite pure-hearted people who will do what they promise to do. Of course, it doesn’t always work for employer-employee relationship. But this fact is not about that. It is about … a bargain. Yes, Chinese love bargain, you will see it from students, parents, and your co-workers. So if someone says “let me do it”, they may not necessarily know how to do it, and they will definitely be relieved if you finally take charge as you originally suggested. They are really just being polite! But if you do agree with them taking charge of that task, they will do it at their best capacity.

Fact #9:

Your students are NOT spoiled brats. They really are not. You set the rules from the first time you enter the classroom, and since it is in their nature to follow rules, with your consistency they will absolutely follow them.

Fan #10:

Your perception of whole life in China is about to be changed! I knew so many Chinese friends and lived near Chinese border for years. Yet, from the moment I stepped my foot on China soil, I had such change of heart. I had a huge culture shock (keep in mind, that was 17 years ago, China changed SO much since then). But within a year and a half I couldn’t wait to come back here. So 17 years and counting, I love what I do!

I wish you a happy and a prosperous Spring Festival! May the year of Dog bring you lots of joy and good beginnings. If you set your heart on moving to China to teach here in the year of Dog – good for you. And I wish you Good Luck!


Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 16. It is the beginning of the Year of the Dog, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:


Participating Blogs

Creative World of Varya on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Earth Dog Year Fun Facts
Bicultural Mama: Chinese Soup Dumplings (Xiǎo Lóng Bāo): What They Are and How to Eat
Crafty Moms Share: The Year of the Dog
Miss Panda Chinese
Creative World of Varya: Ten Fun Facts about Teachin in China {What It Is Actually Not}
the gingerbread house: Simple Chinese New Year Lantern Craft for Kids to Make
ChrissyJee.com: Healthy Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Teaching Justice to Children

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.” ~ Baha’u’llah
Over the generations people fought for justice, equality, and peace. I believe all these fundamental virtues are taught from childhood. So today I want to share with you on how we teach justice to our children. 

Justice is a powerful human virtue. It allows us to measure our actions and act upon consideration for other people. 

Justice is not about “bringing someone to justice” and, therefore, judging them and sentencing them. It is about equality and fairness for all people. It is about a chance for everyone to get access to education, jobs, healthcare; for every child to have a chance to grow in normal conditions, surrounded by happiness. 

Justice is one of the principals that Martin Luther King stood for. Justice frees us from prejudice, it allows us to make judgements based on character, not skin colour, or nationality. Justice gives a fair chance to everyone without exception. It requires everyone to follow the rules and laws. 

Here are some tips on how you can nurture justice in your children:

1. Created simple rules that all family has to follow. E.g. everyone has to brush their teeth before bed. Everyone has to clean up after themselves. 

2. Talk about equality and what it means. Discuss responsibilities and how they change with the age. 

3. Discuss some age appropriate news with your children on what is going in the world. Ask them to think of the ways they think the problems can be solved. 

4. If your family is religious, you can say a prayer once a day together for healing the world. If you are not religious, you can create some confirmations to share that your children can repeat every day. For example: “I am of this world. And this world is mine. It belongs to me just as it belongs to everyone else. Today I am sending healing vibes to the worlds and its citizens”.

5. Teach children generosity, sharing, compassion, caring. You can see some of the examples on how to approach these virtues in my Virtues Series.

6. Teach your children to love the world. To avoid discrimination. To accept everyone as they are. This doesn’t mean letting things slide if someone is doing something terrible. It means keeping hope for everyone can change and everyone deserves a chance to life. 

Martin Luther King Day for Kids on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual blog hop on Martin Luther King Day for Kids! Find great ideas for commemorating MLK Day with kids and don’t miss our series from last year as well as 2016 and 2015! For even more, be sure to follow our Black History Pinterest board!

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Black History on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Crafty Moms Share on Multicultural Kid Blogs –

Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior Book Review

Creative World of Varya – Teaching Justice to Children

Raising World Children:

7 Life Lessons Acts of Service Inspire

Jeddah Mom

Best of 2017 and January 2018 Goals

Those of you who are subscribed to my newsletter have already received a letter from me sharing Best of 2017 Posts and some of my January 2018 Goals. Today I want to share more with you and hear back from you, too!

Last year was quite challenging, yet exciting. I started a new job, I opened a new company. I am slowly moving towards my life’s dreams becoming true, to becoming self-employed.

I also received two trainings to add to my skills: Pediatrics for Breastfeeding Counselors, and Post-Partum Doula Certificate. This has broadened my area of expertise, allowing me to consult moms and dads on many different things related to childbirth, breastfeeding, post-partum care, and more.

This month I have very simple goals for my blog:

  • As you have noticed, I have improved newsletter sign up options. So I hope to grow my audience this year.
  • I am working on adjusting some things related to my blog’s design. I love the theme I use, but I am hoping to improve it all.
  • I have designed my first Freebie for newsletter subscribers. So this goal for January 2018 has been reached!
  • I revived Virtues Series, and hope to revive/introduce more regular posts to my blog.

As for my life’s goals for January 2018:

  • Start homeschooling our oldest. Yes, we have finally decided to give a try for 6 months. There are many reasons why we want to do it. But we won’t know how it goes till later. Note: we are not against schooling. We believe there are so many ways to get education, and everyone chooses the one most suitable for their family.
  • Finish setting up my consultancy. This is a big task and probably will stretch into February and March.
  • Work on my patience. Yes, I admit that it is one virtue that keeps fluctuating!

And now, what you have been waiting for – Best post of 2017!

In my newsletter I listed 5 posts of all times that have performed the best in 2017. But here I would like to share on post written in 2017 that performed the best in the same year.

Here it is…

Wait a moment…

Almost there…


Expat’s Emergency Checklist

Please check this post from Teach Me Mommy to see what her Best of 2017 was!

Thank you again for reading my blog and for your support!


While you are at it, stop by Mama Smiles and 3 Dinosaurs to see what goals they have set this month! There are some awesome goals to look forward to!

Virtues Series: Peaceful Dove Craft


I felt it would be great to start the new year with reviving my series – Virtues Series! It was quite successful and I hope to continue sharing ideas and love with you. If you are new to my blog, subscribe this month to receive a Freebie: 9 Printable Virtues Cards with suggested activities! You can also download a set of cards on Quotes on Equality and Peace I created almost 2 years ago.

Today I want to talk to you about Peacefulness. It is a new year, we are 18 years into the 21st century, but our world is still being shaken by so much dispute, wars and tragedies. Our children are growing up not knowing what peace truly is.

When I was growing up, we celebrated Children’s Day by having Side walk Chalk Pictures contests. And every year, as far as I remember, I drew the same picture: a bomb broken in half and crossed with red lines, and in the middle – a white dove, a symbol of peace. And the words that translate into English as: “Peace to Peace, We don’t need Wars!”

So besides sharing with you how wonderful peace is, and some tips to promote peacefulness at home, I want to share a simple craft that you can make with your children at home. You can also draw it with chalk on side walks!

Materials needed:

A piece of white paper

A marker or a pencil of your choice



A straw or a chopstick


Trace your hands on a piece of white paper, in a way so your thumbs meet.

Shape the dove by drawing a head and a tail

Draw some lines on your hand prints to mimic the feathers

Cut out and stick a straw/a chopstick to the back

How to use this dove to promote peacefulness:

  1. Using a map of the world, talk about places that are now at war. Send the dove to those countries on the map. Wish them peace.
  2. Keep the dove in a visible place. Make an agreement that when someone in the family is not feeling very peaceful, they should first get the dove and think about what bothers them, and then try and express their feelings differently.
  3. Learn and sing “Peace is the world smiling”

I hope you enjoyed making the Peace Dove with us today. I wish you a peaceful year ahead!

Riz Bi Haleeb: Lebanese Rice Pudding

It is a great opportunity to publish the last post of 2017 on a happy note! You know I like making things for children and with children, and I have published over the years some nice recipes.

I was going over my posts and drafts and realized I had one that never got published due to some strange glitches. It was supposed to be a part of Christmas in Different Lands 2016  – the annual series hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs. So since it never made it, you can learn now how to make Riz Bi Haleeb – Lebanese Rice Pudding, – and have a nice dessert for your New Year’s Eve party/dinner! And check out at the end all the posts that were shared in the series this year!

Wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2018! May your families be blessed and safe!


Christmas is a huge holiday in Lebanon, where the Christian population is big enough, and  the country is heavily influence by Europe.

One of the traditional Christmas desserts served in Lebanon is Meghali – rice flour, cardamom and anis pudding. I hope to try making it one day. But for today I would like to share with you a different dessert, an even simpler version of which my mother-in-law used to make during the period the Baha’i Fasting month. It is called Riz Bi Haleeb (Rice in Milk. Or Milk Rice).


1 cup of cooked rice

2 cups of milk

2-3 T of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla essence

Nuts for decoration (optional)


Mix 1,5 cups of milk in a pot with sugar. Add rice. Put on low fire and keep stirring.  When the milk is almost evaporated, add vanilla and the remaining milk. Cook for some time until the rice is completely soft and mushy.

Place the pudding in small bowls and decorate with nuts. Serve warm.

This pudding makes a very quick dessert for any occasion and would be a great addition to your Christmas table, too!

Christmas in Different Lands 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fifth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016) plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Christmas Around the World on Pinterest.

December 1

Lisa Lewis, MD on Multicultural Kid Blogs: A Lebanese Christmas Celebration

December 6

Let the Journey Begin: Celebrating Nikolaus in Germany

December 7

Lou Messugo: Christmas Traditions in Provence, France

December 8

All Done Monkey: DIY Philippine Christmas Star Ornament

December 11

Crafty Moms Share: Christmas in Bangladesh

December 12

Raising a Trilingual Child: Italian Christmas Decorations

December 13

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Christmas in Puerto Rico

December 15

The Good Long Road on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Christmas in Bethlehem

December 21

Gianna the Great: Choctaw Christmas

December 22

American Mom in Bourdeaux: France



Celebrate Christmas Around the World Printable Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs

Don’t miss our other posts about Christmas in different lands, plus our printable pack Celebrate Christmas Around the World, on sale now!

Expat’s Emergency Checklist

I wish I was writing under better circumstances but unfortunately it is a sudden passing of a fellow expat that made me think of  an Expat’s Emergency Checklist, and share with it with my readers.

I won’t go into the details but since the person didn’t leave behind any information on how to contact his family, I asked my self a question: “Who has the information about our families in case something happens to us?” 

I mean, we all have good friends who would take care of our possessions and funeral in case we pass away; who will donate and raise the money if we are ever in need. But what information should I have available in case something to happen to me abroad?

So here is the checklist for you (and especially if you are an expat in China, since my list is based on the circumstances here):

1. Make sure you are registered with your consulate/Embassy. They should have your up-to-date information. It is probably the easiest. 

2. Make a list of emergency contacts back home and keep it somewhere visible.

3. Make a list of emergency contacts where you currently reside and keep it somewhere visible.

For the #2 and #3: a lot of phones now allow adding emergency contacts to the locked screen. So in case something happens one doesn’t need to break into your phone. 

4. Know your exact blood type and Rhesus. 

5. Always have a list of allergies and your ailments available.

For #4 and #5: you can keep that information in your wallet. Most hospitals can tell you your blood type and Rhesus when they draw blood from a vein. You can just request it as a separate blood tests, too. 

6. Have a copy of your apartment key with a trusted friend. This is optional but it is a great option. 

7. Carry a copy of your passport and police registration (if applicable) with you.
If you can add more points, please do comment. 

And last, but not the least:

While we all have right for privacy, it is important to let on some people. There will always be at least one person you can trust with your life. Don’t close up from them. Share the good and the bad. We never know how our life turns out to be. We just have to trust that there are enough people who will be there for you, no matter how close you are. 

Aromatherapy Amulet For The Baby

Life in the South of China teaches me new things every day. 

For example, I have recently found out that local Guangdong residents make a small hand-stiched amulet for the baby, which is attached to the back of the child’s clothes. It is mostly made with a red piece of cloth. Some people told me there is something inside from a temple – I guessed it was some kind of writing that is supposed to protect the child from harm.

Now coming to the title of my post today. This amulet gave an idea that I could create lovely gifts for my friends who have babies – Aromatherapy Amulet for the Baby.  Instead of a protective writing, it would have a piece of cotton inside and a drop of safe for babies oil could be applied. This amulet can be easily made together with your older children! 

What you will need:

A piece of cloth 

Some cotton

A needle and a thread

A safety pin


How to make it:

1. Cut a square shaped piece of cloth (yes, it is a rectangle in the photo. It became a square later!)

2. Stitch along the edge, following the shape of the cloth, with a single stitch. When done, pull slightly by the thread to gather the cloth together. 

3. Fill in the cloth with cotton and pull together. Secured the ends by stitching through them few more stitches. 

4. Open the safety pin and stitch over the non-moving part to attach the amulet to it. Secure the amulet. Close the pin. You have your amulet!

For a young baby not many oils are recommended to use. But such oils as Lavender and Roman Chamomile are my oils on the go with tiny ones. One drop on the amulet and the soothing smell with accompany your little one throughout the day. 

You don’t need to keep the pin on the baby, it can be placed near the crib, and in the pram. Either way, it will be a nice thoughtful handmade gift along with one of the oils to share with your friends. 

Today is the last day of wonderful series – 10 Days of Kid-Made Christmas . Hop over to other blogs who posted today by clicking the links below. 

The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Castle View Academy

Christmas Tree Tassel Decoration

Christmas was not celebrated much in USSR where I grew up. And even now, it is celebrated in January, based on Orthodox Christian calendar. 

Yet, celebrating New Year meant decorating the tree in December, preparing frozen goods, and having the same excitement and anticipation as people around the world have for Christmas. 

If you click on the link above, you will read all about unusual Christmas/New Year’s decorations we put on our trees. I remember clearly at some point we had curtain tassels hanging on our trees!

So today, to commemorate my childhood, I am going to show you how to make DIY Christmas tree Tassels Decoration. It is quick and your kids will have fun. Good thing? You can always use them later on your curtains!

What you will need:

A piece of cardboard


White and colorful thread (ours is shiny!)

A needle


1. Draw and cut out a circle from your cardboard.

2. Using the white thread, secure it and roll over in all directions on the circle. Add the colourful thread. Roll as thick as you want your tassel.

3. Secure the ends. Now, using the needle with a thread, go under the treads on one side and secure the middle. 

4. Cut the threads on the other side and tighten the thread you used with the needle. Now you have just a bunch of threads tied up together!

5.  Adjust the treads to look like a tassel, and using white or colorful thread, roll over to decorate the tip which will keep the threads down. 

6. Now make a knot on which the tassel will hang, and cut the ends of the thread to even it out. Voilà!

These tassels will also make great decorations to put around the house!

Every year bloggers of Kid Blogger Network get together to celebrate Christmas and bring you some fun ideas for decorations!

Hop over to Mama Miss to see what other decorations the bloggers have made for you!

Check out other bloggers who posted on the same day with me:

 Rainy Day Mum

Preschool Powol Packets

My Bright Firefly

Happy Brown House

Castle View Academy

The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Schooling Active Monkeys

The Mama Workshop