11 Nov 2016

Homeschoolers Unite at Tribe Fest and Lembah Barakah

Jo and friend ZH wanted to present a short drama for a HS Tribe FEST. So together they recruited a few friends and in 5 weeks prepared a short skit to present. They called themselves, "Homeschoolers Unite." Jo wrote the script without my help. Then every Wednesday, 8 of them would meet at a friend's apartment lobby. They didn't want the help of adults, so we mums would sit far away and eaves drop now and then.

Despite quarrels, disagreements, play, chit-chats, jokes and moments of unfocused wondering, they managed to discuss and rehearse the script, create their own props, chair their own meetings, block their play and all. It wasn't always smooth going, sometimes they had major disagreements on certain things....but in the end, they performed so well to a wonderful crowd! I'm really proud of them!

This to me is a well worth-it experience. It's nice to see how they resolved problems and disagreements without adult intervention, made decisions that they were proud of and came up with the concept, theme and everything by themselves. Because they totally owned the production they were really proud of their work! There were moments I was tempted to provide input, but I'm glad I held back. Though the final performance was great, I think, greater was the experience  they took with them throughout the process.

(Smiley added to protect identity of child.) 


To reward their hard work, we took a two day break at Lembah Barakah, Ulu Langat. Though we mums were tired, the energetic children cooked their own dinner, and had a crazy fun time together. Night time, 16 of us slept, aligned like sardines, in the beautiful kampung house we rented. They had a midnight feast, and the chattering and whispering did not stop till after midnight. They certainly deserved this getaway together!


 On the second morning, a cold one! brrrr...., we had a brief tour of their place and had an interesting session on kelulut bees (stingless bees.) It was interesting to view the structure of the hive, and the highlight was when the owner removed a tiny portion from a honey pod and put in a syringe to draw liquid gold. The honey tasted like a mix of honey sweetness and apple cider vinegar. Delicious!  Then some of the kids jumped into the river for a quick dip while the rest played cards.
To rent this lovely kampung house, message them via their FB page at Lembah Barakah Organic Orchard .

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Scout CAmp

We had a nice three day camp with the HS Scout Group. This time the venue was a private cove in PD.

Setting up tents

First things first...digging a toilet. The girls did a good job, digging it about 3 feet deep, but a little too wide for the littlest scout girl. :/

Nel helping Scout Master Quek to set up the Tarp 

The girls' friend, ZE made this cute cute sign! :)

Loving the activity of digging, Nel decided to dig further. During the point of this photo, the hole was about 4 feet deep. She eventually dug it to about 5 feet, and found a source of fresh water!

During this camping trip, scouts had to chop their own bamboo, and find random pieces of wood. Then attaching used bottles, they made their own rafts.

Testing raft time. All the rafts floated well!

This is one of several shots taken after a day of work. Girl scouts playing while it was the boys' turn to cook dinner. This photo makes me happy. Perhaps it's capturing joy and carefree moments that makes the photo beautiful.

Enjoying some quiet time while having dinner by the gentle waves.

Though it was supposed to be two nights on the beach, we had to abandon campsite on the second night. Strong winds hit us on the second night, snapping my tent poles in two. Embers from the large bornfire blew towards our tents threatening to set them aflame. Some of the children panicked and about two had panic attacks...and it was truly a state of emergency when we evacuated the beach.

It reminded me of the scary experience we had camping on Segadas when storm and lightning demolished our friend's tent and flooded ours, while we literally fought against the wind with our hands so the tent wouldn't cave in on our children. But I told myself despite the panic that hit me, I had to remain calm for my children. So thank God, He gave me strength as I calmly gave instructions to my children to load our belongings and calmly unpeg our very large tent to evacuate.

We all ended up taking refuge in YL's house in PD...20 + of us. It was a "refugee"moment. :) But oh what a memorable trip! :D


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29 Oct 2016

Plant Identification

We joined MNS Flora Selangor group on a field trip entitled "Tree Observation and Identification." It was held at Bukit Cahaya Shah Alam, and the planned walk was to " focus on the observation of identification characters of trees that are currently fruiting and belonging to the family of Dipterocarpaceae (Shorea and Dipterocarpus), Fagaceae (Oak family), Anacardiaceaa (Mango Family), and Rubiaceae (Coffe family)."

The walk was headed by Dr. Jean Weber and Dr. Siti Khadijah, who are to me, walking plants encyclopedias! 
We began by looking for seeds to identify trees, then studying the structure of seeds. Then we were taught how to study leaf structures (the petiole,  shape and veins),  flowers and bark. 

This leaf  has a stipule, and is hairy, characteristic of  Keruing Bulu
Children taking notes and listening intently at the beginning. I said beginning, because about one hour later, they more interested in other stuff like birds poop. ;)



Dr Khadijah. I love how she willingly and enthusiastically answers EVERY question!! I asked if she'd conduct a walk for our Science Coop, and she immediately said YES. It is a rare to find someone who passionate about plants and so willing to share information with children. Looking forward to our  next walk.

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26 Oct 2016

Some recent art

Some recent random art work\


Painting with only three colours. Yellow, Blue and Brown. The 
three shades create quite a spooky effect. Jo thinks this looks like a female
version of SLAPPY!!!

I painted this picture to accompany and inspire Jo to get back to some art work. (watercolour)

Jo's art work. Acrylic.


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Workshop on SMA

We recently attended a workshop about Living with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). The workshop was conducted by Sook Yee, her husband Edmund and her dear son Branden. Though I've heard of ALS, I've never heard of SMA, and it was certainly an eye opening workshop worth attending. It helped us understand the challenges of living with a disability, and it gave us a glimpse of parental courage, love and hope.  I'm amazed at the courage and zeal of Branden's parents, how they continually bring awareness to the public, and how they continuously find ways to help Branden, never giving up and always hopeful.

Here children were asked to scratch their ear while pulling a tight elastic band. It was certainly difficult to bring their hands up to the ear. Understanding how difficult it is for people living with SMA to use their hands effectively.

Branden going round tickling the children who were not allowed to move, scratch or fidget. It was to help them understand how it would be, being in the "shoes"of Branden. He has such an infectious laughter and smile. Children warmed up to him immediately.



Several weeks later, we were invited by Branden's mum to help out at their Arts for Grabs booth. The sale was to raise funds for We Care Journey an organization to help bring awareness and help other people with SMA.
Jo did her part by helping to paint a bag which would then be sold to raise funds, while Nel helped to hand out leaflets containing information about SMA.


To find out more about how you could help Branden, or to understand more about what it's like, living with SMA, you can find them on their facebook page Branden -Growing up with SMA.


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Nel is a Spartan SPrint finisher!


Two years ago Nel and Jo took part in the junior Spartan race.

This year suddenly she decided that she wanted to try Spartan Sprint for adults. The website estimated that the race would be about 6 km, but turns out it was 8km. She barely trained, but in the final week she managed a few monkey bars practices, one or two jogging sessions where she huffed and puffed away.

The morning of the race came, and I was a little anxious wondering if she'd be able to finish the course safely.

Here's a post I wrote on facebook :

When my first girl was younger she had some problems with coordination. She was also such a timid child that throughout kindergarten n primary one she would hide in toilets during games n sports time. 
When we began homeschooling.. I found her a kind and understanding ballet teacher, I taught her swimming, cycling and we began going for jungle hikes in hopes that all these would help her. 
Today she took part in the adult Spartan sprint.. I have to admit I was nervous for her... She took 4hours but she is a Spartan finisher!! So proud of her!!
It shows never under estimate a child.. And a child can overcome her fears and 'weaknesses' with time and space to grow.. With gentle guidance and patience... Like waiting for a tree to grow.


Anyway, she finished the race! She's a Spartan Finisher, and I'm so PROUD OF YOU NEL!


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11 Oct 2016

Painting Murals

We were invited recently to help out with a green project at our community. It involved painting mural for a recycling center. We always jump at the chance to do art, any sort of art!! Most of the painting was done at night and we really had fun doing it.

Nel painting a deer

Jo's Fairy bird

Surprise surprise, I found out that hubby can paint!!!!

I thought I'd add a hornbill






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Jo sews her first doll

Jo is in the process of making a doll.


Making basic shape using stockings, stuffing and string

The head of her first ever hand made. Great attempt! and a good practice at patience. To learn how
to make it, she viewed quite a few videos on doll making, mainly the Waldorf way.



Watching her make a doll inspired me to try one too. In this family Art is "infectious". When I begin an art work, my children want to do one too. And when they begin an art project, I too get inspired to begin one. Here's my version, but not a stocking version. I learnt this by watching a series of video by Anneli Võikar \

The first half of my doll's hair was sewn by Jo. I was going to do it the shortcut way, just stitch a bunch of hair together to get it done. She stopped me and said, "Strand by strand mum." To lead the way, she stitched the first half. Attaching a video below. (I realize that video attachments don't turn up on emailed link.)




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7 Oct 2016

Aquatic Educational Workshop UCSI

Our kids from coop recently emailed  UCSI requesting for a workshop at their aquatic center. They thought it'd be a nice review to all the materials they've learnt about marine science in the past 4 months.

After the session I asked my kids for feedback. Their feedback was that they enjoyed the classroom environment and quizzes. They enjoyed observing the tanks there. However, the found the material taught much too simple and suitable for much younger children, though they stated that it was for older children.  The facilitators (students from the marine and biotech department) were friendly and enthusiastic. Unfortunately, they were mainly biotech students, and could not answer quite a few questions thrown at them.  So perhaps it would have been better if the workshop had been conducted by marine science students instead.

We did pre mention that the kids had already studied a marine science textbook. Perhaps they somehow forgot. After the workshop, we asked if they'd do one that would match secondary level and they said it was possible. So hoping to go back there for a better session. Overall, despite the minor setbacks, the children enjoyed themselves.





Spot the Octopus

Aquatic Junior Educational Program
Charges: Registration (Per child) = RM 10.00

Educational Aquaponic Kit (Per family) = RM60.00   (We found this expensive, and not worth the money, as the children were simply asked to connect a few parts together (two tubes, a small plastic tank and a little motor), given kangkung seeds and two fish. Explanation was very simple and short.

Contact
Jessie Lai jess_yuensie@hotmail.com

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10 Aug 2016

Zaini's Guesthouse


We spent three days at Zaini's Resort in Janda Baik, hoping to watch the Perseids. Unfortunately on both nights, though we saw quite a few stars (just the brightest ones), it just wasn't clear enough to see meteors. We were 6 families, and so we booked most of Zaini's guest house.

The ClubHouse at Zaini's, which we booked, was the main hangout area for all the kids. Initially it was booked for two families and four children, but of course, all the kids wanted to bunk together, so we ended up with 14 people in this spacious guesthouse. We all lined up pretty much like sardines, adults in a row, children in two rows, girls one side, boys on the other.

The "ClubHouse" which housed 15 of us.

Add caption

The children mostly hung out here to play board and card games.


Nel enjoying a read by the narrow, fenceless balcony.

The large field where the kids played Capture the Flag.


On the first night we lay there watching stars till 2 am. Alas no perseids,  but while lying there on our mats we heard a loud crash. A friend shone his powerful torch and we all spotted an owl with a mouse in it's beak. Whoah! That made the wait outside worth it. By 2 am..when clouds wouldn't part we went to bed.

Since it was Jo's birthday, hubby who only arrived at night brought a surprise cake for Jo, so there in that cold weather we sang happy birthday to her and feasted on moist chocolate cake.

A short but refreshing getaway.:)
To book, I texted Ciku at the number below.
Mobile Tel (Cik Ciku): +6013 969 5592 

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9 Aug 2016

Revisiting Endau Rompin, Selai

We had a lovely week away at Endau Rompin, Selai. Since we camped there way back in 2010 we've been wanting to do a return trip but just never did because we were exploring other sites.

How blessed we were when we discovered that other campers for the days we were there had canceled their reservations and we'd be the only campers there for the week. We were just three families consisting of 8 children, and that size is just nice for a relaxing getaway. Good food, close company, shooting stars and peaceful river all to ourselves. What more could we ask for.


To book, email erselaijnpc@yahoo.com 
On day of arrival, head to the office in Bekok, sign in and pay.
If you have your own 4WD, you'll save money on transport.



**Sadly we discovered that the other side of the river has been heavily logged by illegal loggers. The forest rangers told us they couldn't do anything about it.  That's so sad to know! I hope enforcements will try to stop further logging before we loose this very very beautiful forest. Here's a video I took by our campsite. You'll notice the gaps between trees as the area behind has been totally logged.
Yet listen to the beautiful song of the gibbons. I awoke everyday at 5 am to their song which would go on till sunrise and then they'd stop.






Daily hangout area. The children especially would stay there almost the whole day singing, creating stories and chatting.

Our daily visitors

Each day we were there it threatened to storm. But God was good, each time we'd pray and then watch the storm clouds move away. We were blessed with sunshine for our entire stay. And finally it rained just as we left the place. God is good.


We paid for one rod. But it sure was tough....the fish wouldn't take our bait.

The kids' favourite rock...where they'd eat...write their journals...read a book..chat.


A resident got really brave. Looks like they're used to having visitors around.


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