31 Jan 2012

Chinese New Year

It's cultural that Chinese New Year eve is spent with the guy's side of the family. So following tradition we visited my husband's folks back at his village.

My hubby comes from a fishing village, and Chinese New Year there is always celebrated in the grandest way possible. On New Year's eve, the family comes together for a reunion dinner with a scrumptious spread of dishes. Then just before midnight, every house lights up a long firecracker, together with fireworks. This year the fireworks display was amazing! It's almost like the houses were competing to see who had the best display of fireworks. The fireworks started as early as 7pm, but the peak was between 11:45pm till 12:30am. Below is just a short clip of what we experienced.

When my kids were younger fireworks and crackers were awfully scary to  them. I can understand the suffering of those with younger kids. Even now, though we enjoy it, after a while it can get too deafening, especially the bomb like crackers which the teens play with. I really hate those! Makes me feel like I'm in a war zone.

On the first day of New Year, we had a string of visitors coming to eat this special Heng Hua mee sua (very thin, soft noodles), as mee sua symbolizes longevity.

The Heng Hua version is different from the Hokkien version which I'm used to. But this is delicious too! The fried seaweed and garlic oil provides a really distinct and delicious flavour. I've learnt the recipe now and might try this sometime soon. Basically there's mee sua, topped with sliced omelet, shrimp, vege, shredded chicken, fried seaweed and a scoop of soup.

And also following tradition, Lion Dance troupes were seen in some houses to "scare away evil" n to bring in good fortune. These are the musicians that accompany the lion dance.

My girls used to be terrified of the dance, mainly because the music is incredibly loud and the lions move with a forceful movement. I have memories of Nel running into the room, slamming the door shut, hands over her ears. Now they've gotten used to it and even peak into the lion's mouth when the lions bend low to "peel and eat"  oranges and pomelos that are presented to them along with the angpow.

And of course, the best part of CNY for all young ones is in receiving ang pows (red packets containing money.)


30 Jan 2012

Lesson learnt through a piece of luggage

My child Nel recently brought up an issue about her luggage. You see, when she attended her first camp, we let her use a small luggage. To make it easier for her to carry, we attached a rope to the luggage for her to pull. She was upset after camp when she said the kids laughed at her about her luggage.

The second camp she went to, she decided to use her trolley bag. Again when she came home, she said "the kids laughed again mum, coz they said this was a school bag and not a luggage." I became overwhelmed with a feeling of anger towards these children, and was just tempted to go out immediately to get her the nicest, best luggage. I was tempted to say unpleasant things about these other kids.

But instead, I sat my child down, and we talked about the hurtful feelings felt when others laugh at us. We talked about whether it is necessary to conform to others' expectations and have nice material things just to be accepted. We talked about how mean words and taunts are hurting, but we can choose to let it go, let it slide by and ignore those taunts. We talked about potential good friends, which to keep which to let go. For there are far more important things in life then how your luggage looks!

So much for my child to learn.


27 Jan 2012

Planting Padi - Tanjung Karang

Spent a lovely day experiencing padi planting with close friends and family.

The girls hard at work planting, while the boy chickened out because of the mud. The girls went in barefooted. Ooh yeah... ;)

Planting her hair in as well? A you can imagine, later I had to clean mud out of her clothes AND hair! :)

She just enjoyed doing the rows, and loved the muddy feeling on her feet. She described the feeling as "soft, cooling and lovely." :) 

 This is Lela's husband who's a farmer. He was very patient and showed the girls how padi planting is done.

While planting the girls came across snail's eggs

Here they're doing Jiggly dances to avoid stepping on padi and to avoid from falling...they had several near falls when feet got stuck in mud. :)  

Norlela Showed us this machine which plants baby padi plants. Definitely easier and less back breaking then using hands. The plants are filled in the "rack" on the right and is planted as the machine move and rotates.
She also showed us a different machine which is carried on the back of the farmer. Seeds are filled into this machine and then strewn onto dry land. The land has to be dry or the seeds will not grow.

Norlela again, our very fantastic wonderful guide showed the children this cotton tree too and gave the girls some as souvenirs. :)

Well after a hot hot day in the sun, we visited her village house, which is really huge and beautiful! The kids went wild here running from end to end with friends.

Then we were treated to a really scrumptious lunch!! This is just half the dishes she served us. THere' more! Yummy. :)  All in all, we really enjoyed our  trip with Norlela. Her family, her dad are just wonderful hosts, and we will definitely visit her again. :)


After all that, we left Tanjung Karang and headed towards Sekinchan in search of the "Rice Bowl" of Selangor. First a stop over at the seaside.
We met this fisherman, and believe it or not, that's his hand made boat!!! He fishes from morn till noon in that tiny little thing!! I asked him if it ever toppled and he said "Never" and brought out his oar to show me, as well as posed for a shot. :)

This tree house was absolutely tempting and we ended up sitting in hammocks while the kids had great fun swinging on these DIY swings, made of plastic chairs, leg removed. Cool. :)
Here 2 mamas go check out if the fisherman will sell his fish and crabs. Well, they found out that he only sells  to restaurants.
And to complete our field trip, we headed to the padi/rice factory in Sekinchan. Kids saw how the rice is sieved at various levels, and how husks are collected for chicken feed, fuel and fish pellets while broken, polished rice particles are collected for making noodles.

And the final stage...collecting...

Glorious RICE!

24 Jan 2012

Flying with Jo

It's Chinese New Year, and following tradition we headed towards my husband's hometown for a time of reunion with his side of the family.

Air Asia gave us 2 seats in front and 2 at the back of the aircraft, so I ended up with Jo while Nel chose to sit with her daddy. Jo as usual loves flying (she's always had), while I totally hate it. Everytime I get on a flight I wonder "Why the heck do I have to fly?"

Anyway our flight was more of a learning journey with Jo being curious about most things. Before take off she looked at the safety manual and started asking a series of questions about safety. Then the plane took off and she asked what made an aeroplane fly? So with what knowledge I had, we discussed flight.

Barely 10 minutes into our flight we hit a minor turbulence. At one point the plane dropped a couple of inches during which one of the passengers (more panicky than me), screamed "Oh God!." I panicked too, but Jo laughed and cracked unpleasant stories about how it would be to start diving and crashing into the ground. I got superstitious and told her to hush. Then with all the blur of clouds and wind outside she started discussing about what clouds really were.

Once the plane stabilised (thank goodness), the little one started making puppets out of the barf bags given and then started creating imaginary stories with them.
Then of course a small meal was served, and I think she loved that bit a lot.

When the captain announced that we were to prepare for landing, and I breathed a sigh of relief. We watched through open windows how the wings of the airplane changed to facilitate landing...and then as we flew lower she was awed by the long, meandering Sarawak river with all its tributaries. We rediscussed Mangrove when we saw lots of them from the sky, we discussed pollution when we saw how black some parts of the water at the river mouth was, polluting the sea. Then at one point where there seemed to be 2 rivers flowing she said "That must be like Tigris and Euphrates mum," showing she remembers stuff we learnt about Mesopotamia, and finally when approaching the city, she said "This is like lego land, little buildings and cars! I wish I could move things about..so cute mum!"

Closer to landing, at one point Jo started counting backwards from 10, and at the word 0, the plane touched the ground. woo hoo. :) So that was our flight. More updates soon about celebration here. So far it's been good. :)


21 Jan 2012

Drawing -using Mr.Doob

We discovered this cool websiteMr. Doob where the Artist is provided with different brushes with cool patterns to draw. Here's some by me and Nel. Jo had a really cute one bout a clam shell and the sun, but careless(stupid) me accidentally deleted it. *shucks!!*.....Anyway,  here's ours. Do try draw some yourself and have fun!   :)

Here I was testing different brushes available..you can see eg. different strokes on water on on frog.

Again trying diff stuff. When you hold down the mouse longer or draw slower, you get the darker lines. And as you can see, you can change colour of background and of strokes.

Finally messing around and doing a drawing for the heck of it.

Then Nel decided to have a go. Here's hers, also experimenting with diff brushes.

Will post Jo's when she tries another one perhaps tomorrow.
Early Morn Update...Jo woke up and wanted to work on it again...her work title .."Sunshine over river"

19 Jan 2012

Silly (random) Poem (without editing)

A packed, tiring day...gone by just like that
My bed awaits, but I'm awake like a bat
that starts to flutter just as the moon comes out.

Perhaps to help me... my hubby should give me a clout
on the side of my head
that will land me in bed.

And then dreams I shall dream
of pizzas and ice-cream
of Sicily in Italy
and how to shrink my belly.

This is really getting ridiculous
I shall end or my hubby will get furious
for my children are still awake
and he's saying "Go to bed for goodness sake."

This poem stinks
that's what me thinks..

oh well night all.....and Happy Chinese New Year!
GONG XI FA CHAI (to those who celebrate). Next week marks the start of the year of the Dragon. Expecting lots of weddings and baby boom!
~ signing off..Martha

18 Jan 2012

Dentist and study on Telegraph

While studying inventions, we came across Samuel Morse. That got the girls curious, so we looked up telegraph, watched some videos such as the ones below.

Then they wanted to learn the morse code, so we looked at the following link  to learn the codes.
Other than that, we spent a lot of time at the dentist fixing Jo's cavities. Chocolate and sweet lover = bad cavities! In fact, she has had to go through root canal treatment for several molars. I feel bad that she had to go through the treatment as I wasn't efficient in ensuring that her teeth were brushed regularly every night. There were many nights when I was so tired I just said "Brush your own and let's get to bed." and I didn't check.  :(

But to date, she's taken her treatment well, dentist is good too. We talked a bit about what it would be like before she went for her first treatment so she knew what was going to happen. Then to help her feel better and less nervous during the first treatment, I let her bring her cuddly bear to hug. I also requested that the dentist cover her eyes so she wouldn't see the needles and all, and occasionally I would just rub her feet when I saw any jerking movement. AND of course, there was the promise of ice-cream after the treatment. *grin*

I think Jo's done really well at the dentist. The only thing she hates is the bitter aftertaste when the jabs are done. Well...one more treatment to go and she should be fine.


16 Jan 2012

More poetry writing

Nel seems to enjoy poetry and has written a few more. She tried Alliteration today and came up with this:
Grumpy Goblins
Grumpy Goblins Grumble
Grumpy Goblins Grumble Grouchily
Grumpy Goblins Grumble Grouchily, Grumpily
(By Nel)

She also wrote the following about her dog:

Couplet....by Nel

Now, Jo seeing her sister at work started brainstorming in her head too....so over lunch, she made this up.

Alliteration by Jo

Jo's also started a little journal thingy, and her first entry is simple a picture depicting the ballet concert we went to, "White Bat." My girls enjoyed it, but because the plot was quite complicated (A love triangle) and all told in dance without words, I had to answer lots of questions.

Finally, Jo received this during Christmas and we're using it for the moment for her devotion time. She's drawn now a hummingbird in a nest. Her current favourite birds...KingFisher, hummingbird and the Eagle.
In the kitchen...both my girls are almost independent. They switch on and off the stove by themselves, make their own omelet, stir fry vege and cook rice. :) I'm proud of them.

Written on my FB on the 12th January 2012
My children are cooking lunch while I take a break here. Yesterday was the first time they were left alone in kitchen. At one point they had some popping flying eggs when they accidentally added water in hot butter/oil. I heard screaming, banging of doors as they fought over who to shut off the stove fire to prevent more popping. Later Jodie told me "Mum we fought coz we were afraid, we shouted bad words at each other, called each other sissy and banged the door. BUt after we managed to shut off the stove, we hugged each other and laughed." hehehe... Ok..here's to day 2 of em cooking. Awaiting to taste.....:)


Pesto Rosso

When we were in Italy end of 2010, I had lots of pesto...Pesto Rosso, Pesto Genovese...I loved it. I love Pesto, and so I remember ordering lotsa pasta with pesto, while my hubby would always go with traditional Bolognese, not as adventurous as me. Anyway, I miss Pesto so much, I decided to make some pasta with it today. For a change, I decided to try a different recipe and looked at this particular one  here. 

Then I did my own modifying it a little here and there. Ah...it satisfied my craving for Pesto.

 First mix together cherry tomatoes, Japanese cucumber, Green onions, Olive oil, pepper and salt.

 Then  add  "baby" brinjal, sliced (may omit if you hate em). I stir fried these with chopped garlic, sliced chicken fillet (marinated with salt and dark soya sauce and a  tinge of vinegar), asparagus and some spinach.

Then I added the pasta and the vege mixed earlier, added a whole bottle of pesto rosso, a little pesto genovese, salt, pepper, and fried it all a little longer. Finally topped it with cheese. Satisfied. :)

14 Jan 2012

Our caterpillar has transformed into a butterfly named Beauty Blunis

We found a little caterpillar (4cm long) while gardening the other day and decided to keep her. (Notice how all creatures found in our premises are automatically female! haha..).
The very next day we awoke to find that she had turned into a pupae, shorter than her caterpillar length. From 4cm, she shrunk to be come just a 2cm long pupae.

Over the days we monitored her, but nothing much changed, except for tiny changes in shape. Then on day 6, we noticed a clear outline of her wings in yellow.
Here a front view of her new wing. Unclear as pic taken from outside the container.

Day 7 of pupae stage showed great difference. There were distinct black lines and patterns on her wings and her eyes could be seen.

This is her again, 7th day of Pupae Stage

I new she'd be out very soon....but wasn't so sure when. We read that when a pupae turns a dark colour and starts shaking, the butterfly will soon emerge, and that usually happens in the morning. However, today morning we had signed up for a short computing course for our girls and had to leave home for a while. After the morning session, we rushed home to find that she'd transformed already. So we missed the whole process where she emerged. How sad... :(       

Seeing how beautiful she was, my girls named her Beauty Blunis. (Beauty by Nel and Blunis after Jo). She's much larger than the pupae that she was and my girls were amazed at how she'd fit in that little shell. We've read tonnes about how a caterpillar goes through the stages to evolve into a butterfly.... but to see it happen over the days is amazing...and we're still in awe. My girls wonder...how did the wings form and how did the colour change? How did the fluid form parts such as the proboscis? How did an almost "legless" caterpillar form 6 legs? Yes, they're still in awe, and so am I. :)

So reluctantly we took Blunis out into the open and took off the cover. However, she did not come out immediately and stayed in for a while.

Then she flew out and sat on the edge of the container..and my girls had a last look. We were happy for her, in awe and yet so reluctant and sad to let her go. After all, we've been watching her for days and hours.

Then Blunis took a short flight over to the nearest leaf, where she lingered still a while more, before finally taking off really high up over the trees and away. Ahhh....sighs my heart.....such a beautiful butterfly and we miss her already.

Here's our "empty nest" now that she's free. :)  We found some yellow liquid left on the bottom of the container after she left, not stinky but a unique smell.
Update: Turns out our butterfly is male! and a Striped Albatross. Info can be found here. 
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