Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wisdom from a 12 year old

Words of wisdom from JY on her latest blog post.

Looks like I can stop reading Anthony Robbins and Dr Phil.

Be true to yourself.

Accept who you are.

Find your passion.

Live the life you want.

Reach for the stars.

You are indeed remarkable JY.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lichen @ Gentings

Ean examining an orange flower.
I need to upload Botany 101 into my brain (think Matrix).
I need a guide book on the flowers, trees and weeds of Malaysia.
I need a botanist with me.
JY has an obsession with flowers since she started making gum paste flowers.
She would look at its petals, pistils, stamen, comment on its colour, petal formation and the fact that it looks like a gum paste flower...
When your child looks at a flower. What do you say?

Ean prodding moss growing on the road.
My boys caught on on my sudden moss attack and Fai excitedly pointed at the moss on the road and said "Look mummy, Moss! Moss! Moss!"

No need to go to Mossy Forest to look at moss.
Look at the variety of moss and lichen on this tree trunk.

Ean taking a closer look at lichen.
Looks like a flat cabbage to me and a flat fuschia to JY.
I didn't know there was such a thing as lichenology. Interesting.
Lichen is sensitive to air pollution. By the amount of lichen growing, air quality here must be great.
This lichen site is easy to understand. I will definitely do a project on lichen with the kids on my next visit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

my thoughts on JY and school

You simply can't miss JY's latest post in her blog : Do you know the cupcake girl?

JY is an unschooler and proud to be one.
She wasn't always one though.
She did spend one year in N2 and K1 and a year and a half in primary school.
The moment I could quit my job, I homeschooled her.
Then we spent a year deschooling ourselves after spending 6 miserable and frustrating months attempting a syllabus at home ( I had a hard time letting go of the idea that homeschool means school at home. As in a set up where there are textbooks, workbooks and a timetable to adhere to and she had a tendency to ask me "What shall I do now?") before embarking on our unschooling journey.

Now at 12 she has morphed into Karen Cuppy Cake.

Now she tells me what SHE wants to do and tells me what she needs to accomplish her next chosen task. She does her own research, gets her books on Amazon and sets her own standards.

After reading a recent homeschool discussion online, I had fleeting thoughts on enrolling one of my boys into a school.
It is not that unschooling is not working for is just that I feel that he is the academic sort, someone who would do well collaborating with other brains, doing research .....then I had second thoughts....because collaboration is not allowed in is called "cheating" and what I have in mind for him only happens in tertiary level.

Starting anew 2011

First my eldest brother from DJaya to SAlam then my sister to DDamai then me to PD and now....the biggest parents from their dream retirement farm aka Kebun in Karak to....Raub.

Kebun was my parents' dream.
Get a plot of land, build a wooden kampung house, plant a few fruit trees, dig a few fish ponds, rear a couple of chickens then live an iddylic life away from the hustle bustle of the city.
Create a place where their kids and grandkids can 'balik kampung'.
That was more than 10 years ago, now with the Karak Highway at their footsteps and bogged down with the upkeep of the farm, my mom had been contemplating getting an apartment.....Horrors!
Then the unexpected happened...all in one day, a swift decision was made.... after a few phone calls they have decided to give up their land for another piece of land next to a forest reserve in Raub. Hilly terrain with a clear water stream running through it. Accessible only by 4WD.
Once again they will have their Kebun of yesteryears back. Back when gibbons and hornbills could be seen from their verendah in the early mornings and evenings. Instead of the constant zooming of trucks and lorries on the highway.

Now mom plans to build a small stone cottage. No wood, too much termites says dad.
2 rooms only for 1 staying guest and a big deck for anyone else to pitch their tents.
No fruits trees or fish ponds to look after.
Age is catching up they say.

My parents seemed rejuvenated after their decision.

My mom went through my home library and got out a stack of books on decks, lawns, vacation homes and the like.

She said that there is nothing like a fresh start.
Starting on a clean slate.
To be able to dream and create once again.

My sentiments exactly.

I love moving. I have been nomadic all my live, more so after getting married and working in Singapore.
Never stayed in one place for more than 5 years.
It is just so refreshing, getting rid of the old, packing only the essentials and starting all over.
Letting go might be an issue for the boys. Sure it is hard to leave a place that holds treasured memories but a new day beckons, new challenges to conquer, new adventures, the excitement of not knowing what to expect....c'mon let's go!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An unplanned day 22Dec2010

It was supposed to be a short trip to Hartamas to get JY her edible dusts from ICCA and then to the stationery shop in PJ Old Town. Just as I turned out of Hartamas I asked "Who wants to go to the Science Centre?"
Han immediately said "ME!"
Fai : Yes, me too
JY: NO!!!!
Me: Now it's up to Ean...
JY: Ean say no. Please say No
Ean: Yes
Jy: Awwwww
The boys: Hoooray!
3 against 1.

The parking lot was full. Cars were parked by the hill slopes. I told the boys that I couldn't find a parking spot and was about to head home when I spotted lots of parking space next to the Securities Commision building.
Big shady trees. Empty parking lot. How lovely.

The bridge linking the parking lot to the Science Centre.

View of the bushy dinosaurs from the pedestrian bridge.
Ean stood still, mesmerised by the dinosaurs.
Han:Look dinosaur footprints! That's why I wanted to come here. I love this place!
We went for a closer look.
Ean insisted on feeding the dinosaurs with imaginary food.
I took small slow steps, allowing my kids the freedom to explore. I was amazed at how much they seemed to enjoy this part of the centre.

Rock music.

The place was full.
Entry to the science centre was free.
Han was not keen to go for the DinoAlive Exhibit, he just wanted to see the fish.
The ticketing lady told us to walk around and decide later.
Viewing mechanized dinosaurs that emit thundering roars is not something I would willingly pay for (I made the mistake once) and I was rather glad my kids were happy to skip it.

I like this...seeing the beam of light refract as it passes through the convex lens. There were 3 panels.
1st panel: passing light through fibre optics. Too bad it wasn't working though.
2nd panel: reflecting light using a convex mirror and 2 parellal mirrors
3rd panel: convex and concave lenses
Nice for a physics lesson on light.

Next time I will bring a stopwatch to calculate the speed of sound....Hit the rubber drum, start stopwatch, wait for the giant sequins to tinkle as it is hit by the soundwaves, stop stopwatch.
Measure distance.
Calculate speed. Oh, bring a measuring tape as well.
I love physics.
Interesting to teach and learn, lots of movement involved.

Air pressure at work. Nice toy.
The exhibits on Biology and Chemistry were rather disappointing. Most were under maintainance. Chemistry was just a Periodic Table next to some crytals.
The moment we got into the car, Fai asked "Do you know the way home?"
I have a tendency to get lost and my kids never fail to remind me.
I said" Not really but if we get lost wouldn't that be a great adventure?"
We stopped by PJ Old town for some florist tape and art supplies before heading home.

JY's couldn't wait to dust her petals.
She says she loves dusting and the feeling of accomplishment she gets.
She always says I should really try it one day.
Well, one day day....

Monday, December 20, 2010

more on PD

My dad and his older brother.
Two sea cowboys in a kayak out for a fishing expedition.
My dad held on to the fishing net while my uncle paddled out.
JY and Caryn had a go at the kayak after they had set the nets.
JY got her rowing skills in Sunway Lagoon where she had to row really fast to get away from an Arapaima.
Fai was with her in Sunway that time and scared them out of their wits when they saw the rippling water heading their way (think Nessie).
After relating this to their Pa, he looked at them and said "Didn't you know Arapaima can leap out of water to catch their prey as well?"
That gave them the shivers.

The sea was choppy that day. Ideal for extreme kayaking.
She loved it when the kayak came crashing down when she went against the waves.

Fai showing Han how to tie the life vest.
The table on the right is a mahjong cum carom cum pingpong table.
Ean would use the paddle to push the balls into the 4 holes.
I am waiting to move in before I go looking for a pingpong table.

From Serendah to Port Dickson.
Thanks for the boat, kayak, nets and life jackets lovely people in Serendah!

PD Wildlife 17-19Dec2010

The beach that we frequent in Port Dickson is the last stretch of natural beach left untouched by development.
We love the place for its rocky shores that houses a myriad of creatures. We have come across little eels and octopuses under the stones. Mudskippers and hermit crabs are commonly seen along the shore line.

While the bigger kids donned their lifevests and swam at sea(It's monsoon season, one can never be too careful), I had some time to observe nature with Ean.
I have no idea what this is.
Let me check with my resident entomologist......K says they are obviously termites.He says he will quit his job if he is proven wrong! Haha
Ean waited for it to emerge from its hole and he greeted it with a "Hello!"

We saw some froth on a tree. Looks unusual.
Seems to be a protective cover for the nymphs of spitbugs. I will keep an eye out for the spitbugs next time I am there.

The following day, the boys didn't feel like going out to sea and we explored the mangrove at lowtide.
The pencil roots of a mangrove tree.

Little snail.

Rock crabs.
Boys looking for hidden gems.

We went back to the sandy shore to dig for small clams, commonly called lala or siput(in hokkien)
Found a really tiny one.

What do you see? Anything catches your fancy?

A king crab(also known as horsehoe crab)hauled in by the fishermen. JY and Caryn released it back into the sea.

PJ Community Library

I love libraries and nothing gives me greater pleasure than spending half a day with my kids in one.

The PJ community library would organise activities kids during the school holidays.
If only they would have storytelling sessions instead of sandart.

The kids section is located on the ground floor.
JY used to spend time with me and the boys in this section.
Over the years she has progressed from Enid Blyton's Enchanted Forest and Malory Towers to Harry Porter and Princess Diaries.
These days she would help me return the books, leave the library bag with me and inform me she would be at her usual floors and zoom off.
Now she looks for Darren Shan, Ellen Schreiber, Cake decorating and clay sculpting books.

The boys would head for the redspot section, choose their favourite 'Read Only' books and wait for me to read to them.
"We can't take them home, right mommy? So we must read ALL of them here! "

Ean found his favourite - Barney!

Pasar Malam @ Petaling Garden

Pasar malam or night market is very much a part of Malaysian life.
The Petaling Garden pasar malam is a short walk from my house and is held wednesdays from 5 to 9 pm.

Steaming hot sweetcorn is a must-have for my kids.

The nonya kuih stall is always swamped with customers. Fai would always ask for a piece and since it costs 70cents a piece, I would always give him RM1, so that he can count out the change. It would be more maths practice for Fai when one of his brothers want a piece too.

The kids would get to pick their favourite fruits, get a few sticks of satay, then head home for a sumptious feast.

Three of Fai's favourite fruits; persimmon, nangka/jackfruit and dragonfruit

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Autistic Savant @ Matic 12 Dec 2010

After we packed up and bid farewell to Shangri-la, we headed to MaTic located at Jalan Ampang.

Ping Lian at work. He was given a postcard to copy out and paint. Totally oblivious to the crowd around his table, he hummed and clicked his tongue to an inner rhythm.
Fai stood quietly by the table as Ping Lian went about painting his artpiece.

Here is one of his finished works. Very detailed piece of art.

Some of his oil paintings on display.
They are for sale. The prints are about RM1K and originals will set you back about RM20K upwards.

One of the more popular ones. Done when Ping Lian was 12 years old.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Karen Cuppy Cake booth @ Shangri-la Day 3, 12 dec2010

Last day for JY in Shangri-la. She set her alarm at 5.30am and made a few batches of buttercream as I snoozed in bed. I got up in time to wash up after her and watched her as she packed the buttercream into the piping bags.
Her dad was exhausted after a night of Elvis Presley songs performed by Scot Bruce and we had a hard time coaxing him into the car.
I had the opportunity to see Scot Bruce in action during his warm-up session and he was amazing! Ean was impressed too and was happy to see them jamming on stage.
The boys were up and about as I told them they would be left behind if they were too tired too come along. So Han bounced up the moment I said it was time to get up.
With bleary eyes, I participated in the spouses' programme. Cooking with a Shangri-la chef. He was preparing penne with seafood cream sauce.

Han and Fai took great interest in this. Saute the onions in olive oil, pour in cream. Boil on low heat until it reduces by half. Pour in a handful of parmesan, blend and then add in chopped chives and you are done.

The cream sauce was blended for a creamier texture.
Penne cooked al dente. Soak in salted ice water to keep the pasta al dente if not planning to eat immediately .
The rest quizzed the chef mercilessly for an hour or so after that brief demo. They were especially interested in the Thai Chicken Chop, supposedly famous in Shangri-la.

Ean's breakfast.

After lunch, it was a hand and foot spa hands-on.
We got to use creams, foams, exfoliating loofah bits. It was like having a public bath, fully clothed.
Ean had a good time playing with foamy water.
Fai and Han didn't join me as they were too busy being chased by a friendly and playful Rotarian.
We are proud of JY's achievements. She did most of the planning, baking, decorating herself this time around.
No significant hitches except we could have done better with more marketing. Quite a people commented that didn't know we were there until they saw people walking around with cupcakes in their hands.