29 Apr 2011

Children Packing for Travel - Nel's List

My children have been packing their own luggage for a year now, and that’s made travel preparations for me a LOT easier.
Initially it was a hassle getting them to pack their own travel bag, and many times I was  tempted to just “shoo” them away and do it myself. But I tarried, bore with the mess and numerous re-packings, and now they’re almost independent! Hooray!
I remember the first time I assigned them the task of packing their own stuff for a 3 day trip. They brought out almost everything from the closet, from party dresses to torn comfy home rags. It was a mess! In the end I had to set aside what was really needed and then refold a whole mountain of clothes, to be re stacked back in their closet! So much work!
But after a few times, they’ve become smarter at picking the right clothes. Usually I get them to select stuff they want to bring, then I look through it, we discuss, throw out some, add some and then they put it all in their own luggage.
There were a few times when I got lazy and we ended up with odd garments. Such as the time when Jo packed her swimming bag. She got the swimsuit right. But the clothing that she put in there for after swim was a grand ballroom dress a friend had given! I asked “What for? WHY???!!” She replied, “ So my friends can see how beautiful I am.” ;) And there was also the 7 volumes of Peter and Jane and heavy books she brought to Tasik Kenyir! And also the time we went camping, and I was horrified to find ONLY dresses in Jo’s bag! ;)
Nel has made less mess at this, except for a time she totally forgot undies for an 11 day trip. Otherwise, she’s my careful packer. J
Well.. I’m glad I  bit my tongue (instead of nagging) as they packed for all those trips. This weekend we travel, and Nel has especially planned items to bring for the entire family! I’m embarrassed to say she even asked me “mum, you have to wear a bra. How many shall I put on your list for you?” haha… She even remembered Daddy’s face cream, plastic bags for wet swimsuits, kneepads, sunblock for the swimpool…stuff I would have overlooked!
Ok, off now to check Jo’s luggage or she’ll be caving and hiking in gowns! ;)

Nel's List (excuse the scribble), some in words, some in pictures. (see the bra on the top? that was for me! haha..)

28 Apr 2011

Science- Skeletons

We had a rather interesting class today. MNee came with this cool chart that’s entitled “One Human Body Being Cooked Up.” She taught us about the compounds and minerals that go towards the make up of our body, what these compounds look like and how they're found in other objects around us. Well, it was mostly new information to me!
Then we continued with the study of bones and our skeleton. For this,  we  used Belair Science Programme Year 4 by Sue Harris (which meets the National Curriculum in England and Wales.) First we looked at some pictures of bone structures and discussed several things such as the function of bones, bones and growth etc. We also looked at  the definition of Vertebrate and Invertebrate, Exoskeleton and Endoskeleton.
We then went on to do the bit of assignment given, which was to measure each other’s arm length, then using the information for further discussion.  The children really enjoyed this portion of exercise.
Each child had to take 3 measurements of a friend's hand, then get the average.
Finally, the mums and older children helped draw the outline of children’s body on black paper, which drew lotsa giggles! (ummm..best for boys to partner boys, and girls with girls. Or even better, mums to draw their own children's frame.) As they drew, I pointed out the parts of the body that the crayon was passing by.  Eg. "This is your skull, going near your collar bone...Passing by your humerus now, and now very near your rib cage etc etc." 
Guess, who's frame?
We also looked at the hastily made skeleton (which I put together last night), the older children helped put the missing parts together and then we called it a day.
holding the half made skeleton. Children had to complete it by adding and naming the missing parts
Later during free time Nel took her frame and added  own drawings of ribs and bones and labeled them.

27 Apr 2011

Conversation with Jo my little gal

This evening after Nel left for her swimming class, Jo (aged 5+)and I sat down for dinner together. As we ate, her little inquisitive mind started wondering as usual. She asked "Mum, what year were you born in? I mean, are you a horse, mouse, pig, whatever?"

"You're talking about the Chinese Calendar right Jo? Those are just to remind us what year we're born in." I replied.

"I know mum, but what are you??" she asked impatiently.
"Well, I'm actually a mouse."
"Oh that's not fair mum." replied Jo. "I wish I was the mouse, coz I like Repicheep from Narnia. So what am I mum?"

"well Jo, you were born in the year of the Rooster."

"But mum, I came from your womb right? right??" she asked, with lots of hand gestures as usual. "Well, if I came from your womb, then, I'm supposed to be a mouse right? But...but insteadddd...." she said while dragging that last word, "instead, I'm a CHICKEN!"

She said that last word with a high squawking voice, eyes wide open, hands up in the air in horror.

I had a really good laugh!!!

Yesterday for devotion I talked to my children about the meaning of contentment, about being happy with what we have. Just a few minutes into discussion, I asked "So who can tell me the meaning of the word "content"?

Jo's hands went up and she said "Me! me! ME! I know! I know! I know! Well, FIRST, you take a book alright? You take the book, turn the cover, turn a few pages, and there you see "CONTENT!"

haha...her response took me by total susprise!

25 Apr 2011

down with a cold

Days like these when I'm sick with a cold,
a pounding headache and a very sore throat,
I'm thankful for my children, who without being told
have made their own breakfast of biscuits and oats.

I'd like to continue the above.. but my head's telling me to get back to bed. It's been a long time since I've been sick, and being sick is no fun. I've canceled classes, but it  means replacements when I get well.

My girls were wonderful, Nel  made Jo her morning milk. They had breakfast together, and they got me some too! Then there's the mountain of clothes which has been sitting in my kitchen. Well, believe it or not, Nel folded that whole mountain up, neatly too! Jo once again cooked the rice, and all I had to do was to cook 2  simple dishes of vege and canned sardines. Thank God for canned foods at times like this!

well..i must go lie down again. with plenty of rest I hope to get well really soon.
Aside from helping round the house, my Nel wrote scripts for Jo to read, like a teacher would. Then they both read their own books.  Once finished, Jo as usual went about with some mischief again, this time drawing mermaids and princesses on a piece of cloth which her daddy uses to wipe the car windows. Oh my...don't know what her dad's reaction is gonna be!

22 Apr 2011

Thread the Needle

  Making these bunnies require stitching. I hardly sew. The only one sewing project I've ever completed is a large Precious Moments cross stitch work which I gave to my sis in law as a wedding present. I took one year to complete that after multiple procrastination and stops. After that, I vowed never to start another cross stitch! haha...  

However, my mum loves sewing. She sewed most of my childhood dresses, curtains for the house, dresses for my babies and host of other projects. She still sews! When she hit her late 30's or early 40's, I remember mum asking me to help her thread the needle. I used to think "man, I'm better at this then my mum." :)  or "Oh no, not again, why can't mum thread her own needles!"

But as I did my bunny project yesterday, I, now in my late 30's, found myself squinting hard as I tried to get that darn thread through the needle. And since my children are still young, I was tempted to get help from Ju (age 16, who's like daughter to me) by asking her to help me thread the needle.

Then pride held me back...and I told myself, "nah...not now", perhaps in a year or 2, I'll humbly ask my children to help me... thread the needle. 

(Do hop over to the other blog, if you're keen on trying this project for yourself.) Making Socks Bunny.

21 Apr 2011

Milo or Coffee?

Fancy giving your child Coffee for breakfast? Well...that's what I did this morning, or almost did!!
We woke up late and rushed to meet an early appointment with some mums at the National Science Center this morn. Before leaving, hurriedly I asked my kids, "Want some milo?"

Milo or
"Yes!" they replied. So I opened my cupboard, took out some green sachets which I thought was Milo 3 in 1. I made the drinks quickly, some for them and some for me. It was brown, like the colour of Milo too. Anyway, It's a good thing I made some for me, coz usually I don't drink Milo, makes me feel nauseous.

Before heading out, I took a quick gulp of the drink and was surprised by the taste that hit my tongue. I shouted to the kids "STOP! DON'T DRINK THAT, it's COFFEE! !" (I don't give coffee to my kids, simply coz I myself can't take too much of it. It gives me palpitations (SVT) and thrice I've landed in the hospital's emergency ward because of it.)

"Well...no wonder it smelt so different mum!" replied Nel. I looked for the sachets I used, turned them over to discover this.

Can't believe Old Town White Coffee has now created green sachets!! Coffee's supposed to come in brown packets, not green!

Ok, now off to find out when did hubby get these.

20 Apr 2011

Leave it!

You know those days when you feel like you've no energy?.. Yes??   I'm glad it's not just me who knows such days. Well today was such a day. Just lethargic with no energy.

I had to take extra cups of coffee to help me get through the day. Yeah, I remember, my cardiologist's advice was "no coffee," but how do I get the much needed energy boost then?

Woke up with a heavy head from a lack of sleep (again). Blame it on the thunderstorm last night. It was thundering half the night with several house alarms going off nearby. In the middle of the night both my girls woke and ran to our room.

Still we got up on time, went through the usual day's routine, with me being extra grouchy and fierce! haha...(ok, no laughing matter as far as my children are concerned, they dislike fierce mum!) Noon came, and extra coffee helped me stay awake during the piano classes I had to teach.

Then suddenly, Boom! Bang! RAIN! Who would've thought it'd rain again after the storm last night! Well it did. When I got done teaching, I found half my laundry hanging on the fence drenched! *heavy sigh*

Wanted to put it back in the washer  to rewash and then realised that there was an extra load in the machine, which I'd washed in the morn and forgot to dry. *double sigh*

With this kinda day.... I thought.."Leave it!" Let the wet clothes remain OUTSIDE, and let the washed clothes remain IN the washer. I'll do double load tomorrow again. So I slammed shut my washing machine, closed the door on my wet laundry hanging outside and walked IN.
As I was typing this, Jo came and stood quietly next to me and said in a serious voice "Mum, I'm pregnant, you need to help me get the baby out."
I nearly fell out of my chair from real shock, coz of the seriousness of her voice. I had a good laugh when I looked at her, dressed in a long gown with an overcoat, handbag under her arms and high heels. In her gown there was an actual baby doll. haha. As for Nel, she spent most of her free time today reading. We read bout environmental pollution, and she seems interested in that topic. 

18 Apr 2011

hiking n old jeans

We will be heading for a caving adventure soon. Am really looking forward to that. I just read that there are 4 levels of caving, level 4 being the most difficult. Have yet to decide if we'll do 3 or 4.

I also read that I will have to walk some 700 steps to get to the top before the steps descend into lower levels, streams and tunnels. My heart is already palpitating thinking of all those steps. So in preparation, I'm planning on hiking a lot these few weeks!

Yesterday we did 2 hours of hiking up and down hill, and am proud to say that my children did it without any whining (coz there was the ice cream reward promised at the end of it all! ) :)

As I do this, I also hope to shed the 7kg's that I DESPERATELY need to shed in order to get back into the jeans I used to wear some 14 years ago when I was merely a size 4/5. Oh yes, I still have my old jeans...hoping, dreaming and longing for the day I'll get back into them.

Perhaps it will always remain a dream? *sob* *sob*.....

15 Apr 2011

cooking rice

Some evenings, I teach late. As I was teaching yesterday, Jo little one, came up and said "I'm hungry mum." I whispered for her to go cook the rice. Usually she'll ask me to help a little bit, but this time she didn't at all.

 After work, I walked to the kitchen,  looked in my rice pot n found the rice perfectly cooked. She'd even mixed brown n white rice 4 health. :) I'm proud of her.

 As for Nel, she'd help me peel all carrots and sliced them up. But she didn't end there, she helped me take in all the laundry and hung up the newly washed load. I'm truly blessed by my little ones.

14 Apr 2011

Literature - Behind the Bedroom Wall

BEHIND THE BEDROOM WALL-LEXILE 660 LEVEL 3 (READ 180 STAGE B, STAGE B LEVEL 3)Someone gave us some old books to read. Amongst the books was Behind the Bedroom Wall by Laura E Williams. The book given was rather tattered and torn, and I was just about to throw it away when Nel begged me to read it to her. I guess, the picture on the front attracted her attention.

Sure Nel loves to read her own books, but there is always a book of the week which I read to them, almost daily, when I have the energy. So this is the book of the week, Behind the Bedroom Wall.

Let me just be lazy and copy an excerpt found on Amazon.com. The review goes -

Grade 5-8?Korinna, 13, loves her country and is active in the Jungmadel, Hitler's youth group for girls. When she learns that her parents are hiding Jews, she is shocked and angry. A series of events, including her reluctant, but growing attachment to the little girl hidden behind the wardrobe in her room, leads her to conclude that the price of being loyal to the Fatherland is too high. It is Korinna's quick thinking that saves the family during a night raid. The atmosphere and mood of the times are palpable, with Korinna and her family forced to flee Germany. If the characters are "types," such as the brave father, the nasty so-called "best" friend, and the vicious Gestapo agent, they are clearly drawn and appropriately employed in a fast-moving, believable plot with an inevitable ending.?Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Well Jo  has also become captivated by the book and listens attentively when I read. Both my children have grown to love the story of how Korina, who at first hated Jews and called her parents "traitors", eventually transforms, and rescues her family during a raid.

Since we're on this book, I've decided to add on Anne Frank, as well as a brief history of Hitler and the war.
Our favourite short story of the week : "Phewtus the Squirrel" by V.H. Drummond.

Making Own Speleothem Experiment

Last week was our final week on Cave Science. Over four weeks we covered
1) how caves are formed
2) Speleothems
3) Living Creatures in Caves, creating a robotic Bat
 4)  Cave Art
5) Adventure to Gua Tempurung

There's lots more to cover, but this will do for now I guess. It's the process of learning that's more important anyway. :)

We finally succeeded with our speleothem experiment. Initially the liquid ran too much, causing a mini flood. Then we adjusted the cloth and distance of bottles, and the growth of the crystal was overly slow. We adjusted it a third time, and walla it worked!

For the experiment,
-we made a saturated solution of Epsom salt and water and poured the solution into 2 bottles. We added a little red colouring to this solution.
-Then we cut a thin strip from an old cotton shirt and tied both ends to nails. We dipped the whole cloth into the solution to wet it first, before dropping each nail, cloth attached into separate bottles. 
-I added the saucer at the bottom after we had the mini pool created by the over dripping of the solution.
-Finally we added sticky plaster (in green on photo) to mark where the original level of the solution was before the experiment began.

Here's the pictures of our own speleothem
see the liquid at the bottom? it eventually hardens to form part of the stalactite. If water runs too quickly, it will not form.

To avoid breaking, coz it's really fragile, experiment should be placed in a quiet place away from running children.
Almost a column. Below (not seen clearly in picture) is a VERY tiny stalacmite forming
Full column, which broke, coz Jo got curious and got too close up.

Well..children really enjoyed watching the speleothem grow over the days! Nel recorded solution level and growth of speleothem daily. To conclude these weeks of learning will be...Caving! :)
*Nel: When I grow up, I want to be an animal rescuer or a vet.

13 Apr 2011

Learning Batik Painting- Jalan Seri Penchala, Kuala Lumpur

If you get to Restaurant Muhibah on Jalan Seri Penchala, Jalan Sg. Penchala, KL...you're pretty darn close to Uncle Sam's Batik Workshop. Keep driving down the same road, and you'll see garbage bins on the right with numbers on them. Look out for no.5, take a turn immediately after. You've arrived at Uncle Sam's Batik place.

We were there today, and I've only praises for his classes. He spent almost a full day with us, patiently teaching the technique/art of Batik Painting. I've been to several places to do Batik Painting, but none provided information and tips  like Uncle Sam did!

So if you're looking for some place to learn Batik, do head to his place. His number is 0173198309.

Batik Wax

Showing children how to apply wax (canting)

Nel's crazy bout dolphins right now 

My work in progress..

pink dolphin almost done

My work completed. :) Am so please with the techniques Uncle Sam showed me.

Pink DOlphin by Nel Completed!

and what else would Jo draw, except MERMAIDS!

Me to JO: "Twins that DON'T look alike are called Fraternal twins.
Jo: "Wow, then twins that look the same must be Nocturnal twins!"

12 Apr 2011

A Rainbow

After a whole afternoon of teaching, I took a short walk with my girls. After the lovely walk, we sat outside on the swing enjoying the very cool evening breeze. Suddenly Nel said "Mum! Look up! A Rainbow!!"

That got us all excited. This is my second time seeing a rainbow encircling my home, on a cool, dry day without rain. (well..it must have rained somewhere far off..but not near my home.)

This amazing sight of the rainbow brought memories of a post I wrote in 2006, when my girls were so little. At that time, Jo was a very difficult baby who cried everyday without fail in the evenings for an hour to 2 hours, stressing me out. I remember feeling very depressed at that time in 2006, until I saw the rainbow. Here's the original post written in 2006.

How I got through yesterday, it’s only by God’s strength and Tylenol. After almost three days with hardly any sleep my head hurt so bad. I went to work in the afternoon and later tired, I sat on the swing outside of my house with my two little girls, little Jo in a sling attached to me.

Far away in the horizon…I watched the sun set. It seemed mellow…comforting. It stretched forth it’s gentle rays, decorating the sky with hues of orange, red, yellow and pink. There had been no rain that day and hardly a cloud in the sky. Yet it was surprisingly cool and windy. I did wish I’d see a rainbow. It’s been a long while since I saw one, and Nel has been wanting to see one so much. I told her to pray and ask God for one.

Well…the clock showed almost 7 in the evening…and most of the sky was getting dark except for that sunset in the distance. We got up and walked back. It was then something, told me to look up. I did…..and there, enveloping our house…right around it, a Perfect, Beautiful RAINBOW. Totally complete….no faded parts or parts covered by clouds. In fact it was a DOUBLE rainbow. I was totally amazed… how did it happen? It hadn’t rained. The mellow sunset was far off……and there was barely a drizzle….. but yet a beautiful double rainbow enveloped our house.

We just stared at it……….and as I did…I felt the stress lift off my shoulders……..and as if God was speaking and saying “ Here’s your rainbow…you’ve been asking for it. I listen to your prayers…and I love you.” What a beautiful evening.

Jo: I want to be a noctural person, so I can get up at night to watch Malaysian owls. :)

7 Apr 2011

The Power of Worship

I try to do morning devotion with my children daily. Usually I use a devotional guide book and a Bible which I read to my children, followed by discussion and prayer. But this morning before devotion, I decided to play on my piano first.  I opened my song book randomly and the first song I saw was “Above all powers.”
As I sang the song, I pondered on the meaning of Good Friday and Easter, and .. I just felt the love of God again. I felt compelled to call my children. They gathered close to me and we sang the song together. I explained the meaning of the song and asked them what it would be like for a rose to be trampled on the ground.
Then I asked them to bring a sheet of paper and draw whatever came to their mind as I sang. Both my children drew a picture of the cross with Christ on it. As I kept singing, I told them, “now, draw yourself inside the picture.” Nel got very silent and shed silent tears, while Jo faced down started crying aloud as they both drew themselves in the picture. I knew then it was the Holy Spirit touching them.
Later I asked them about their picture and about how they felt. Jo replied “the song is beautiful. Also I cried because Jesus died for me, He’s so kind mum.” Nel replied “I cried because of all the wrong things I’ve done. But Jesus still died for me.”
We then prayed together, thanking God for dying on the cross for us, for His forgiveness,  for loving us, just the way we are despite our imperfections and all.
“Crucified, laid behind the stone, He lived to die, rejected and alone, Like a rose, trampled on the ground, You took the fall, the thought of me, above all.”
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