Education Death Valley

I am sharing a TED talk that I recently watched because it resonates with me and also because I have been having conversations with people about how the conventional/ traditional education system does not suit every child. In adult education, we facilitate learning using different techniques based on the research that we all learn differently and tend to favour a specific learning style or a combination of learning styles be it Auditory, Visual and Kinaesthetic.

I have come across adults with a fear of classroom learning based on their childhood learning experiences and I find this quite sad. I’ve had to adjust some activities I do in my facilitated sessions based on this, for example, in my early days I used to ask for volunteers to read a part of the learning material we were using during the session until a mature lady pulled aside after a session and asked me privately if I could refrain from asking her to read during a session as she had a fear of reading aloud because of her school experiences. Since then, I ask people to read the content on their own within a time-frame and then ask if any clarification is required. I feel it should be the same with school learning, observations and research have been completed that support the need for change, it would benefit children to ensure school education is designed to meet children’s learning needs across a wider spectrum than the traditional classroom/ rote learning.

I have read articles where schools in Finland provide holistic education that benefits the students resulting in academic excellence but they do not focus only on academics. I saw a video of a Japanese kindergarten whose classroom is outdoors so it encourages play and activity in children’s learning which is very important as younger children learn through play. There has been open classroom learning implemented in schools here in Australia, with limited success due to lack of resources/ training. My daughter thrived in the open learning curriculum as her school introduced it after she had started, I was open to the concept and waited to see how my daughter would be affected. I feel it may be better implemented given more resources, time and training.

The TED talk focuses on the fact that the traditional school system does not foster a creative learning environment. It encourages creativity but also shoots it down at the same time. My daughter has experienced this in school and I have felt that sometimes schools should let children be more creative and do more to encourage their imagination. I understand there needs to be a curriculum but maybe it’s the curriculum that needs to be tweaked.

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts once you have viewed the TED talk (the link is provided below). I feel that our children – our youth are our future and investment in youth is important as they become our future leaders. Creativity, imagination, play, music, art, mindfulness, tolerance, acceptance, gardening, sustainability and compassion (and much more) are also important to a child’s education as are maths, english and science. This provides a balanced view for children to grow into adults who will Laugh. Love. Live. What are your thoughts? Peace and blessings! robinson how to escape education s death valley/up-next?utm campaign=social&utm medium=referral&utm content=talk&utm term=education



Lunar New Year!


Today is the Lunar new year’s eve as we celebrate the Vietnamese New Year – Tết. It is also celebrated on the same day by the Chinese and Koreans. The Chinese New Year being  familiar with most people. This year is the year of the Dog – Earth element. People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility. On the negative side, they are likely to be self-righteous, cold, terribly stubborn, slippery, critical of others and not good at social activities.

This year is my daughter’s year, she was born the year of the dog – apparently it will be a good year for her but exhausting. Let’s see how it pans out! We like to keep the custom of celebrating the Vietnamese New Year – it is a time for family, eating and celebrating! Hope the year of the dog brings much love, happiness, fortune, good health and prosperity so we may continue to Laugh.Love.Live – Peace and blessings!




Parenthood – it is the most rewarding but challenging role you will ever be fortunate to experience. I say this based on my own experience and feel grateful to have been blessed with my own child and realise not everyone will get to have this experience. Whether it is by choice or other reasons, it is an individual choice and sometimes, it is not a choice but one thrust upon them or taken away.  It is and will be an emotional roller-coaster and steep learning journey.

Speaking to friends, other parents and mums, the challenges we face when bringing up our children can be heartbreaking to watch especially if it is something to your child’s detriment. The problem at times is often the cause of another person or other people, who most times will have issues themselves which have not been dealt with or resolved.

Our children become who we are so it is important that we are who we want them to be. I’m not saying this is easy – it is the hardest lesson to learn and one that you sometimes wish other parents would understand. The way your child is treated by other children are often the result of how that child has observed their parents/ families treat each other or other people. Our children tend to learn more from what we are then from what we teach. In saying this, I feel it then becomes imperative as parents to practice what we preach. If we teach compassion, then we need to show it. If we teach love and tolerance, we also need to practice it.

I find that when I speak to other mums, the issues that children are facing may be lessened if as parents, we all walked the talk! We need to put or money where our mouths are! I feel children are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for – they are a blank canvas and easily play, talk and learn from each other regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.  They can become tainted with the brush of adulthood – often what we observe we don’t like in our children or others is because we may recognise that behaviour in ourselves. If we would like that to change, we need to start with ourselves first. This is not an easy task, I feel it is something that requires constant insight, meditation and removing judgement.

I am teaching my child to remember that we can’t change/ control the way other people think, feel or behave but we can control our own thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This is something that is hard to learn at any age, let alone a child. It’s been challenging but I feel I’m slowly making progress. It is also something that I need to remember when I’m reacting to something. I have explained to my daughter that it is OK to feel whatever emotions she is feeling but not OK to let it control her or everything in her life. She is in control of that and how she behaves/ reacts to the situation or person(s).

I’ve always said to my daughter “What other people say about you is none of your business”. People will always say things about you, whether it is right or wrong and it helps not to take it to heart. What matters is that my daughter knows herself what is right and behaves accordingly. One of my friends said something that resonated with me when I spoke to her about this – she said that if she doesn’t know/ hear about what other people are saying about her then it doesn’t matter. I agreed and thought it is a great attitude to have towards it because people will always talk about other people, like Taylor Swift says “Haters gonna hate”. You can’t live your life based on what you think other people are saying about you.

I’ve written this post a result of ruminating on something a good friend and I spoke about – challenges her son is facing which as a parent, is heartbreaking to watch your child go through something and feel as though you can’t fix it for them. Sometimes your child needs to go through the experience to learn the lesson from it. And, as a result, sometimes as a parent we need to support our child through it even if it feels like it is from afar. As a parent, I am constantly challenged and continually learning – it is something that I feel is moulding me in a positive way that helps me to help my child  Laugh. Love.Live to the full – Peace and blessings!




Ville D’amour


Roundabout at Avenue de Villiers

This is the third destination of our European Adventure – we boarded the Thalys from Midi station in Belgium excited about our next destination. We are enjoying our European adventure immensely and looked forward to each new country. We arrived with a little trepidation as my friend and relatives in Belgium warned us to keep our bags close because of pickpockets and watch for drivers who take tourists unawares, charging extortionate fares. We arrived to armed guards and police guarding the station. Police directed tourists to the taxi stand to wait for a taxi. I spoke to a fellow traveller while waiting in line for a taxi who said he loves this city and said he comes back every year just to visit. He recommended markets near the Eiffel Tower on the weekend and said he caught the metro, walked the streets and emphasised it was a safe city – a great recommendation upon arrival!

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This city is my Aunt’s favourite city of all the places she has visited – she has spoken about it many times and has been back several times to visit. Now that I’ve been there, I can see why. One of my close friends who helped me with planning this leg of our trip, sent me a message asking me what my first impression of the city was moments after I had arrived. My response was “such a pretty city”. The city I am referring to is Paris – ah Paris!

A few hours after arriving in Paris, we made our way to the first attraction and I fell in love with the city – the vibe, the beauty, the history. J’adore Paris! When I found out we were staying only a 15 minute walk away from the Arc de Triomphe, I didn’t tell my husband or daughter where we were headed except to say “Just keep walking” when they asked “Where are we going?”. When it came into view, I said with a flourish “That’s where we are going!” It was such a breathtaking moment and seemed very surreal – to be facing a monument that I had only dreamed about and seen only on TV or in books. I couldn’t believe we were standing at the busy roundabout where the Arc de Triomphe stood! It was a breathtaking moment for me and I daresay also for my husband and daughter.

We observed the traffic on that roundabout and deduced that it was a crazy, busy roundabout! We even observed a man gambling with his life when he decided to cross the traffic to get to the Arc but I assure you there is a much safer and easier passage via the underpass! Upon returning home, my friend told me that travel insurance companies don’t cover you if you drive at that roundabout and now that I have seen it first hand, I can see why! After 7 days of observing traffic there, we still couldn’t make sense of who was supposed to give way, or how you would enter and exit!

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Our next two days were aboard the hop on, hop off Big Bus tour of Paris – we caught the metro to Trocadero and had our first glimpse of the Tour Eiffel! It was a bit grey but we were amazed to be standing in sight of it! We then walked  across the road to board the big bus. We were able to catch many sights, take many photos, hop off and spend time before catching another bus to the next stop!

Over the two days we saw the Tour Eiffel, Champ de Mars, Ecole Militaire, Hotel des Invalides (Napoleon’s final resting place), Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Avenue de Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, Palais de L’Elsee, Place de la Concorde, Eglise de la Madeleine, Opera Garnier, Musee de Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Musee de L’Orangerie, Jardin des Tuileries, Trocadero, Notre Dame, Musee de L’Homme, Musee de la Marine, Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, Gar de Nord, Gar de l’Est and Musee Grevin, just to name a few!

We didn’t have time to see inside everything but will definitely have to come back to visit places we would like to explore further! A fellow blogger also visited the Palais Garnier went inside and has graciously given me permission to provide a link to their video of their visit – it is a beautiful building, as were many of the buildings in Europe! The Phantom of the Opera’s falling chandelier scene was inspired by the real-life event of a chandelier falling from this Opera Garnier’s ceiling because of the weight. Please enjoy the video:

We saw so much and some we chose to only pass by but the places we did spend time in was amazing, these included the Musee de Louvre, Musee D’Orsay & Musee de L’Orangerie. We also spent time at the Eiffel tower and Trocadero, outside Opera Garnier, visited Petit Palais where there was free entry (that was a nice surprise), went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and visited the Sacre Coeur – my daughter said that she didn’t want to have to climb any more stairs after those two visits! There are 284 steps to climb to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and 270 steps to the Sacre Coeur! Our legs definitely got a workout visiting those two places! For those who are unable to climb that many stairs, there is a lift in the Arc de Triomphe where it takes you nearly to the top and there are only about 40 or so stairs to climb to the top. At Montmatre, you can ride the funicular to the top of the hill to make it easier to get to the Sacre Couer, and there is also a ramp and lifts at the Basilica for disabled access. We also visited the Arch La Defense and took the lift to the top to take in the panoramic views of Paris! My daughter was glad that there weren’t stairs to climb!

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We also visited Pont Neuf and the little park underneath – the Square de Vert Galant which is on the Seine river. It is a nice place to relax and enjoy Paris!  The name Pont Neuf translates to ‘New Bridge’ but it is actually the oldest stone bridge in Paris! We saw many people had put padlocks onto the bridge with their names/ initials – whilst we think this is a lovely sentiment, we feel it took away from the beauty of the bridge. We also had a quick visit to Galleries La Fayette to buy a gift! It is such a beautiful building with a gorgeous dome roof which has a restaurant in which to sit and enjoy. There is so much to see and do in Paris, we have agreed we need visit again at a more leisurely place to explore the places we were unable to do visit time.

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After our busy couple of days around the city of Paris, we went on a day trip to Giverny to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet – my favourite artist! The gardens were beautiful and seemed like I was standing in a replica of his paintings! I couldn’t believe I was standing there taking it all in! Claude Monet was a french impressionist artist who made money while still alive thanks to the dedicated support of collectors, most notably from Americans who discovered his work in the 1880s. Monet’s famous paintings of water lilies were inspired from his own garden.

Monet’s house was also wonderful, he loved colour and his house reflected that with colourful rooms and paintings. Monet liked Japanese prints and had his own private collection at his home. All the artwork in his home have been replaced with replicas – with the amount of people visiting there are sure to be valuable pieces which may be damaged or go missing!

After a beautiful morning, we headed off to a traditional french restaurant in Normandy and along the way, our bus driver went our of his way to stop and let us see a 12th century castle (the top/ turret of the castle was built in the 12th century). It was used by the Germans as their headquarters during the war, it is the Chateau de La Roche-Guyon. It is now a museum which holds guided tours, the 14th century addition is the main building which you can see behind the gates. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we arrived at our picturesque destination – Moulin de Fourges, it was built in 1790 on the ruins of a former mill, it is one of the most elegant mills in the valley inspired by the architecture of Queen Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles. We had traditional French food, which is simple but very nice – a lovely salmon pate for entree, Chicken for main and tart tatin for dessert because Normandy is also famous for its apples. The lunch was also paired with some lovely french wine.

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After lunch, we explored the gardens around the restaurant and found an artist painting by the banks of the river. I purchased one of his paintings as did a few other people who were part of our tour, they were reasonably priced and were great souvenirs of the trip. My painting is hanging in the same room I am writing this blog where I can enjoy it and be reminded of that lovely afternoon!

We headed off to see one more grand palais that afternoon, the Chateau de Versailles! We had heard a lot about it but until you see it for yourself, you cannot imagine the scale of opulence and grandeur! It is amazing to see – the building and gates gilded in gold, opulent fabrics, paintings, statues and ornate ceilings. The gardens are also beautiful and have fountains synchronised to music. The garden is apparently smaller than the original gardens – the adverse history surrounding the palace makes you feel a bit disgusted at the opulence, when you hear that the people of Paris were starving but King Louis XIV lived in all that grandeur!

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We came, we visited and we loved Paris! We ate the most scrumptious croissants and pastries (loved the chocolate eclairs!), baguettes and even tried some burgundy snails -well, when in France! All in all, we had a wonderful time and were sorry to be leaving vowing to return again some day to visit Paris at a more leisurely pace and also see more of France, particularly the south. It seemed that this European adventure was getting better and better at each destination and we still had one more country with a few more places to visit! We definitely were applying Laugh.Love.Live to the full – our first taste of Europe creating an appetite wanting more!

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I hope you are enjoying our adventures as much as we did, we learnt so much on this trip – Europe is immensely rich in history! It is nice to relive the memories, discoveries and adventures – thanks for sharing them with us and hope you will join us on the final leg of our European Adventure. Peace and blessings!



Peace and Blessings!


Wishing everyone will continue to Laugh.Love.Live in the year ahead. Thank you for the support and encouragement for my humble blog. Peace and many blessings for 2018 – may it be a year full of love, laughter, compassion and understanding.  namaste



Season’s Greetings!


Wishing you all a wonderful festive season, thoughts go out to anyone who has lost loved ones, those unable to be with family/ friends or those who have family deployed overseas serving their countries. May the festive season be a safe, happy and peaceful time for everyone and the New Year bring much positivity, empathy, peace and many blessings! May you all Laugh. Love. Live – peace and blessings!  Thanks for the support for 2017 and may we continue to share our stories and experiences in 2018! silly_smiley_face_emoji_custom_sticker-r8e359df4e2564b47b2f7855648fdc50d_v9wth_8byvr_540.jpg



Olde worlde charm!

Our next destination was only a couple of hours away by train so we settled in on the Eurostar and enjoyed the high-speed journey. Originally, we hadn’t planned visiting here as we weren’t sure we could fit it in until my friend advised that is was en route to another destination so it made sense to visit – and we’re so glad we did! We were able to catch up with my relatives – Aunt and cousins whom I have not seen for 20 years! It was lovely to spend a few days exploring and visiting – my husband and daughter got to meet relatives from my side of the family whom they had never met.

We alighted the Eurostar at Midi station in Brussels. My youngest cousin met us and took us to our hotel. It was so nice to see him, the last time I saw him was when he was visiting Australia – he was only 6 years old! After checking into our hotel, we set off to see the city. My cousin advised us that Belgium was not a big city like Sydney. He visited Sydney last year and said Brussels was much smaller, you could drive from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes, unlike in Sydney.

The first stop for us was adhoc because as we drove past a large cathedral, it caught our eye – my cousin stopped the car so we could admire it and take a few tourist snaps! After that we had a tour around Brussels – he took us to see the Grand PlaceManekin Pis and his girlfriend – Janekin Pis ! We also visited Delirium Cafe to try some Belgium beer  – two different types and found the alcohol strength to be double or more than that in Australia! I took a photo in the pub which I did not check until the evening and my cousin looks as though he had a little too much to drink because his eyes were half closed. I can guarantee that he was sober, it was just my poor photography skills!  After our tour of the city, we went to his mum’s (My Aunty’s) pub to see the rest of my relatives except one who was away on vacation with her family.

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We spent the evening at my Aunt’s pub where my daughter and my eldest cousin’s daughter got along very well even though it was the first time they met. They had interests in common and enjoyed each other’s company. It was lovely to see and the language barrier seemed non-existent! We  had a big family dinner at a lovely Greek- Chinese restaurant (yes, an unusual combination but it worked!) You could order either Greek dishes or Asian dishes and the food was delicious. It was a full first day and a great introduction to the city!

The next day we headed out for a day trip to Bruges which is a  Flemish-speaking  part of Belgium. The Flemish or Flemings (DutchVlamingen) are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Dutch, especially any of its dialects spoken in historical Flanders, known collectively as Flemish Dutch.[5] They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population (about 60%)**.

I had  been advised by a few colleagues and friends that if we visited Belgium then we had to visit Bruges. I had asked my cousin if we could visit Bruges when we arrived and he said of course! He was our chaperone, driving us there and taking us around for the day.  Before we arrived in Bruges, my husband kept asking what is in Bruges and why did we have visit, to which I replied that it is the old part of Belgium and supposed to be beautiful. That was an understatement – we were absolutely blown away by the beauty of Bruges! We spent hours walking around looking at the buildings, sights, canals, tasting chocolate, waffles and mussels! It was a feast for all our senses! It seemed as though Belgium never ceased to amaze us, with each day better than the next!

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The city of Bruges was an absolute highlight and we recommend it to anyone visiting Belgium –  it is a must! It is only an hour and a half drive from Brussels or you can also take the train. There is a place in Bruges in my photos that is full of white swans. There is the legend of the Bruges Swans. I’ve included a link to the story so you can read it at your leisure. The history in Europe is so fascinating, we were learning so much in each place we visited!

My cousin also enjoyed Bruges because even though he had been there before, he said there were thingst he hadn’t seen before so it was also a ‘new’ experience for him too. We headed back to Brussels, dropping into my Aunt’s pub to spend a bit of time there and take some last photos. Then my cousin took us to see the Atomium which was lit up at night, it was built for the Brussels world fair in 1958. There is a panoramic restaurant at the top of the structure with gourmet food and views. We didn’t have time to have a look inside the spheres as we were heading to my eldest cousin’s home to have dinner with her family which provided another opportunity for her daughter and mine to spend some time together before we left the next day. We were grateful for the time we did spend in Belgium – being so surprised by the beauty of Belgium and discovering it was such an unexpected highlight of our trip so far!


The Atomium alight!

My cousin’s husband cooked a wonderful, delicious pasta dinner for us and we were able to sit and catch up. Our girls were able to spend time together and attempt to make slime, it is a big trend at the moment with kids – big and small! We spent some time playing with her younger son with his police chief, hospitals, ambulance, staff and patients! He is currently obsessed police and their vehicles! It was a lovely way to spend our last evening in Belgium.

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We were so grateful to be able to catch up with family and do some sightseeing, ticking off some of our main attractions. It was definitely a place where we put into action Laugh. Love. Live! We were enjoying our European adventure immensely and looking forward to our next destination. We were drinking in each experience with relish – filling our hearts, souls and stomachs with amazing nourishment! Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of Belgium as much as we did – onwards and upwards to our next stop on our European adventure!