27 Mar 2012

March of the Frogs

We signed up with http://www.enoprogramme.org/ to take part in a "Be Climate Smart" campaign. Together with a group of friends, we made paper marche frogs and took to the streets to participate in the March of the Frogs. During this march, our children went round telling people about climate change,  asking them to pledge to make a difference by helping our earth. The pledges suggested by  ENO were as follows:

A)Decrease the temperature at home by 1 Celsius and turn off the lights whenever you don't need them.
B)Don't leave your TV, computer or stereo in a stand-by mode but switch them off when you don't use them.
C)Change your light bulbs into energy-saving bulbs.
D)Change your electricity into one that uses renewable resources.
E)Don't waste in vain - prefer to fix and repair rather than buy new
F)Sort your waste and recycle whenever possible
G)Use products that have as little packaging as possible.
H)Use public transport and walk or bicycle instead of driving a car.
I)Eat local food and less meat.
J)When you buy food I use a bag or an old plastic bag.
K)Favour environmentally labelled products.
L)Plant a tree and ask you friend to do the same.

First people to pledge :)
When we first started, most children were nervous and refused to approach anyone. To act as good role model,  I collected the first pledge by approaching a group of guys seated outside Subway. These guys happily listened and obliged, and they made the first pledges which they fed into Franck our Frog. :)

As the day drew on, almost all the children became very confident, approaching random people, asking them to make pledges to safe the climate.

During the whole campaign, the children met friendly as well as rude people. Some waved them off with excuses such as "Find me later" or "I'm in a hurry."  One lady waved us off as if in fear, opened her handbag and wanted to throw us some money. When we told her we didn't want money, but just a pledge for the environment, she was surprised. There were a few others like that who reacted in surprise,  "Is that all you want? Just my pledge?? " they asked in disbelief.

In total, the children spent about 2 hours on the campaign, and collected close to 400 pledges, pretty good for such a small group of children! As the various people they approached read the pledges and signed them, I believe our children who participated were making a great impact, (as one dad put it), by planting eco seeds in these people.  

In the end, I think the whole campaign gave a new sense of empowerment to the children too. They came away feeling more confident about themselves, proud of their achievement and role they've played in society. :)  Just before we called it a day, Nel my more introverted child, stepped away from the group. I saw her approach a lady all by herself, and asked if this lady would pledge to help the environment. For me, as mum, I felt proud of my gal...that she was able to break away from her usual self by approaching a total stranger to share about climate change. Proud of you Nel!  :)

One of our kids wearing the pledge

As the day went on, our children, more confident began approaching total strangers by themselves, sharing about climate change and asking for pledges.

A student feeding a pledge into our frog.

This guy humored the children because he pledged to do almost everything on the list!

reading the pledges, deciding which they would be able to carry out.

Other members of the group doing their part
Some people made pledges and left encouraging notes for my girls. :)

At home, we sorted out the pledges and Nel will be using the results to make a graph and we'll be analysing the results together.

 Here's some of the frogs that went with us.

Will YOU pledge to make a difference by pledging one of the above to help our earth?

24 Mar 2012

Nel my dreamer

I noticed in several group photos taken of my girls during field trips, that Nel frequently has this spaced out look. She's often staring at the object of study blankly, or staring away like her mind isn't there. My first reaction to these photos wasn't very nice at all....in fact a little demeaning (I say this with regrets.)  I started to compare her with  other kids who looked so alert, with their eyes oh so wide and focused as if listening attentively to the teacher. I even told her off and told her to be more alert.

But then, a still small voice told me "Martha, STOP berating your daughter, and think back to when you were 10 years old, DO IT NOW!"  Being the obedient child, I sat down, closed my eyes and thought back, back, way back to when I was 10. In my mind, there I was, an average child dressed in blue pinafore sitting right at the back of the class. I looked at myself, and I saw a child with very little confidence, a child who was ALWAYS....dreaming, with a lost look in her eyes.

I saw myself..a child of few words, who returned answers in 1 to 2 syllables if possible, a child who flunked exams (except for English) because she was always dreaming...and words on text books looked blur, but words on story books became life in her imagination. :)
[But hey, I ain't a failure today right? I turned out quite ok I think. :)]

I flash forward...and thought, I need to apologize to Nel and accept her for who she is and not compare her to other kids. Let her dream, for when she dreams...things are happening in her world...ideas, stories, solutions. I also found these 2 articles Power of DayDreaming,  and  DayDreaming Pupils. Whether these articles are truth or opinions, it doesn't matter, but point is that, for some children, in  dreaming they are learning, finding solutions and assimilating.

There is one difference between Nel and me though, that while I used daydreaming to escape, and to create imaginary settings and stories in my head, I'm guessing that she might use hers differently.
 Nel loves to fix things, while I'm the sort who thinks "Broken? Let hubby fix it, or heck, buy a new one."  I've noticed on several occasions where  dreaming was used by Nel to help her find solutions to fixing broken things.

One time while camping, her grandpa's inflatable pillow had a missing cork and was thus unusable. While most campers there shrugged their shoulders and said.."Ah, too bad..., it's time to buy a new one." Nel dreamed a while, walked away, then approached her grandpa and said "Here grandpa, a pencil, it will hold the air in." And guess what, it fit exactly and held the air in the pillow the whole night. Such a simple, practical solution.

Just last week we spent a night at my parent's place. In this room you have to pull a string on the ceiling to switch on/off the light. After we'd switched off the light, Jo had to go to the toilet. I couldn't find that darn string and muttered something like "Aarrghh!! Do you have to go now Jo??? Somebody should change this, nobody can ever find the silly string!"  After a short silence, Nel said "Mum, you should buy some glow ink and colour that string and we'll always be able to find the string."  (walla! what a fantastic idea I thought!)

As I journal this, I'm actually teaching myself...teaching myself to accept my child as she is, and not to compare her with children out there.  I remember hating it so much, when people compared me (the quiet dreamer) to more talkative, alert children who were prefects, and class representatives in competitions; hoping this comparison would "wake" me up and make me more alert and competitive. Well, it didn't work with me. It only made me feel lousy, worthless and stupid. So in my humble opinion, comparing your child with others will seldom work at motivating your child. In fact, I think it'll only cause your child to think "I'm not good enough."

So...for a lack of creativity, let's end with this...Celebrate Diversity! All children are different..let dreamers be dreamers, let doers be doers. Let the talkative ones talk to learn, let those who need to move and feel do so with all their heart. For we all learn in different ways.

Our feet intertwined, as we lay on the ground,  lil' heads on my tummy, my head on my husband's, watching, gazing at the bright full moon.
 (Photo taken in Frasers Hill...yeah, like it matters..I mean, for goodness sakes, this is just a picture of our feet. )


23 Mar 2012

Jo Learning about Snakes

Jo asked me if she could learn about snakes. So we decided to do a series on it. We've just started and to date here's some stuff we've done.

To begin, I asked her, "If you had questions, what would you want to know?" Then together, we read up to find answers to her questions, and with the information, she made this poster.

Jo plans to show this to her grandparents and cousins and has prepared a short presentation.

Till now Jo prefers to take down notes in the form of simple drawings.
Then we decided to do a bit of snake art, coz Jo needs a toy snake to demonstrate how snakes move. (Jo plans to tell her grandparents and friends about the 4 different ways in which a snake moves.)

 Jo painting her snake (made out of egg carton). She added sprinkles of sparkle to it. She says it's a California King Snake.

 Her snake on the tree!

Finally, early this morning, Jo put up a poster on her room door inviting me to a practice presentation by her, all about snakes. Here's an excerpt of her practicing for her presentation.

The Conclusion of her talk:

  Below are the questions that came immediately to her mind about snakes:

Q1) What type of snakes are there? Mum please print me a picture of all the types of snakes so I'll know which to run from.     
Q2)  How do Snakes Swim?     We watched the following  Video link and then discussed.

Q2) Why do they have scales? What are the scales for? 
Q3) Why do they harm people?

Q4) Asked by Nel who joined in..what's the snake's anatomy like? We looked at the following: Snake Anatomy

Q5) How do snakes move (we love the video below!)

6) Can I see a snake eating something big? 

Other things we looked at:  Definition of oviparous and viviparous snakes.

18 Mar 2012


Commitment, a promise.

When I mentioned that it was time to visit the OA village again, Nel said "Hooray!" with such eagerness and anticipation. Jo however, was my reluctant gal.
 "Can I stay with AhMa please?" she begged. After some negotiation, she finally agreed to come along (not that she had a choice anyway! haha..)

It was during the journey then, that we discussed the meaning of commitment. Commitment is sticking to what we've decided to do and doing it to our best without giving up (unless we discover in the process that it is harmful or dangerous.)

We talked about how sometimes commitment means keeping our word even if the journey may be difficult. It sometimes means getting used to/being in a situation/environment  which we're not used to. It is not going or quitting when we feel like it, but keeping our word and doing as we've promised. With Jo knowing that we'd promised the villagers to return, she said "Ok mum...I'll keep going." I'm glad she understood the word and went with a happy heart. :)

So we spent our weekend in the village. The toilets were not in proper working condition and weather was a little hot, but my girls did well. :) Nel was a great helper who volunteered to load stuff onto the truck before the trip began, she (and Jo) helped with  preparation of our communal dinner with the villagers,  Nel made friends by sharing sweets with the children there. I'm proud of her.

Jo...well Jo..... Jo was the keeper of all puppies there. Making sure their mama fed them, making sure the runt of the litter had proper shade to rest in before the rain and so on. 

At the end of the trip I asked my girls some questions. I asked "What did you learn?" "What roles would you like to take up?" "How would you help them if you could?"

Nel answered "I enjoyed sharing my sweets with them. I really enjoyed the puppies. I'd like to help the villagers by sharing things with them. If I could, I'd like to teach them not to simply sell their land and to treasure their land and trees. I'd like to teach the children not to simply trust strangers. I really enjoyed the trip mum."

Jo answered "I loved the trip, coz I love the puppies so much! Mum, is the runt safe? Who will look after him mum? Mum, I'd like to teach the villagers the same things che-che (sister) is going to teach them."  
(to which Nel replied..copy cat! :D  )

Making friends by sharing a kitten :)
Jo very protective of the run, while Nel coos her puppy to sleep

Nel was really good, walking the whole village sharing raisins and candies with em. Here Jo's decided to join in too.
Finally I leave you this picture. It was totally adorable seeing that puppy eyeing the cat as if asking "Mind if I take a sip?" And he did stick his nose right in for a drink. Cute eh. :) We should be like this too don't you think? :)

Finally, last but certainly not least, I'd like to say thank you to a few special people, Marianne, ML and Germaine for your kind contribution towards the OA people in the form of medicine, food and gifts. Thank you dear friends.

12 Mar 2012

Raptor Watch Camping Trip

We, especially the children, had a lovely weekend camping by Tanjung Tuan. The trip was organized NAGC, who organized the camping trip to coincide with Raptor Watch. Special permit was required before camping on Perhilitan's premises.

Getting to our campsite required knowing the tide schedule, as when tide is high, the campsite is totally cut off from the car park.

Here we arrived just a little too early, so our campsite wasn't accessible yet, and we decided to explore the beautiful mangroves in our waiting area.

Jo was amazed at all the seaweeds we found. I think she attempted to taste one but I stopped her on time. This one felt spongy.

And this seaweed looks like it's sprouted antlers.

Lot of mud skippers, only they weren't muddy because of the sea water.

Beautiful Mangrove roots.

We spotted lotsa sea roaches beneath rocks

Finally the tide receded enough for us to begin our journey to base camp. It was a good 20 minute hike in across rocks and sometimes jungle path. Some of us, (meaning just my husband) haha... had to make 2 trips, which is 20x4, so a total time of about an hour (assuming he ran some parts) to fully unload from car onto campsite. !!! :)

While we parents (again husband, coz someone has to watch the kids!), got busy with unloading, the early campers (who caught the 10am low tide) decided to play by the beach.

The girls spent time pretending to be mermaids and I told them, they would have to stay in the ocean forever, but I promised to build them a wall like in Ariel's. :) Here they are discovering amazing living creatures around the beach area.

Even on these logs we discovered water creatures and a  variety of shells.

I'm not sure what these are, but someone told me these creatures are a kind of anemone. Girls spent a lot of time touching these, coz they squirt water and close up when touched. :)

Jo found 2 sea slugs, and she's making them kiss here. Believe or not, my lil gross child, then placed the slugs on her face to see if they would stick, and they did!
Slug on Jo's chin!

Someone left this chair on the beach...I thought it looked artistic!

The noon birds/campers arrived at 2pm (low tide) , and the kids decided on group play. For some reason they're all looking out to sea here. :)

How lovely to be children. My girls loved this play time so much they didn't want to leave and are already asking for the next camping trip.

Our dear friend Amy shared a part of her American culture when she had the children bbq-ing marshmallows on bits of broken branches. Yummmmmm....I was brought back to my days of camping in the States. The girls enjoyed it so much...one pack of marshmallows disappeared too quickly..with the children craving for more. Jo savoured the last bits by eating her marshmallow very slowly...nibbling like a hamster till it was finally, really gone.

We decided on night trekking. Initially it was supposed to be a 2 hour walk but it started to drizzle so we decided on a shorter walk. (In my opinion a good thing, coz we hiked the other path the following day, and it wasn't an easy walk!) We discovered hermits feeding on a fruit called  "Jambu Air" (Literal translation..water guava). We saw a scorpion, a moth that looked like it was glowing, we discovered how dark it was in the forest without lights. We saw fireflies..we saw bats.

Day 2

I'm always amazed at the sunset in PD, but this time we got to see SunRise!! Considering that I'm not a morning person, I was very lucky to see this.The peninsular on which we camped faced East, so it was certainly a rare treat to watch sunrise. Beautiful and breathtaking. :)

An interesting story on what woke me up so early. Well early morning at about 5am, when all was pitch dark, I heard a man screaming, a blood curdling scream! It just brought back the fears experienced when robbers stole stuff from our camp ground when we were at Segadas.  My first reaction was to cover my child with my body, less any drunkards or murderers came upon us or cut through our tents (I've a very wild imagination!). I heard about 4 screams, and was so afraid. There were clanking sounds and footsteps too close by for comfort, plus it was so dark outside and we were on a rather isolated camp ground. A while later I heard the sound of a motor boat going off. (It was high tide and camp ground only accessible by boat). One of the brave campers, came out walked back and forth with his torch light and said "Stay in, there are smugglers here." That  made it more scary! A little later I heard the voices of 2 other men in our camp group (Ad and Rob), and was relieved to see them standing outside, one with a machete in his hand.

By then I was imagining the scene outside..possibilities... murdered body, a dismembered hand of someone, floating dead body or something horrifying. Well...I was then told that people had arrived by boat to make sacrificial offerings  of goats and chickens to ancestors or a spirit that lives by the well from which we draw water, the screaming was that of a goat. I still didn't believe it at first though I saw them burning their incense and  saw the dead goat. Later I googled, and found out yes, a goat can sound like a screaming man! I'm relieved now to know, it wasn't murder. :)
Following that, we enjoyed our morning and then decided to hike.

This was a rather steep climb, and to do it the night before would've been dangerous i think.

We arrived at the lighthouse and 10 minutes later, the raptors arrived!!! WOW!! All I can is WOW!
Phenomenons like this always lift my spirits and make my heart swell with a lovely feeling. We saw how these raptors caught the hot air which lifted them higher and higher till they looked like specks of dots in the clouds, and then they zoomed away. Amazing. We managed to borrow a scope from a fellow bird watcher and was so amazed to see them up close.

Following a long walk back to our campsite, my hubby and Amy told me excitedly, a RAPTOR Perched!!!! This picture was taken through my magnifying glass. Turns out it's a Changeable Hawk-Eagle. Awesome. We watched it for a while before it finally took off. Grand.

The kids then  decided to explore the beach near the mangrove now it was low tide. It was an amazing discovery and experience.

We discovered many forms of plants and seaweeds

Amazed that so many species of seaweed grew from this rock

The girls enjoyed walking on this bed of weeds...I did too..felt soft and lovely beneath our tired soles.

We also found seagrass and wonder if seahorses could live there.

Here below, tiny living things on mangrove water. Anyone knows what these are called?

Yup....so I conclude here. It was a wonderful experience, discovering raptors, discovering more of mangroves which we studied earlier (post Here) , trekking at night and in the morning to the light house, fellowship with good friends . Already my girls are asking for another camping trip to learn, and more to play with their new found friends. I guess, I'll have to plan another soon.  :)

Thank You again Robert of NAGC Malaysia for organizing such a wonderful trip!


9 Mar 2012

Fri Art

After doing last week's collage for art, we decided on free and easy art today.
I started by mixing Acrylic paint and some poster colour with water and flour. (This was part of the fun for girls and I.)

We made different shades of colour. Tools for painting included tissue, sponges, salt, knives, toothbrushes, bottle spray and of course, fingers and hands.

I think the children loved doing this form of art coz there are no rules, and everything is acceptable. Just put everything on the paper however you like it kinda art. No wrongs, no rights. How liberating I think. :)

Here's Nel's art  , This was second attempt, as she didn't like her first. I thought it was beautiful though, but she plans on working more on it later, thus no picture. This second attempt was done with light shades of colour, carefully poured out so as not to create chaos. She added lots of salt particles in between. These will drop off to create nice spots of white, kinda like snowflakes patterns which she is crazy about.

Jo' ART She started with drawing a house with nice blocks of windows which she added using a square sponge. And then her extroverted self kicked in, and she started adding tonnes and tonnes of flour on her paper with dots of colours in between, covering up her house. She continued by pouring random colours on her flour to gel it all together, then swirling it with her fingers and scraping with knife. Thus her art below.

A video of Jo at work.

My Art
How can I resist painting with them. This was mine..."Forest Tree". Nel thinks it looks like something from Tinker Bell's Forest.

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