|November 24, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Playtime Learning|
My kids have been surrounded by plants from a young age. I keep plants such as aloe vera, peace lilies and what-nots indoors and the kids have been taught to appreciate and care for these plants. With Eva, we moved a step earlier when she hit 3 years old. It was the summer holidays and we were at my mother-in-law’s place. She has a huge garden with tomatoes, trees and bushes so we got Eva to harvest some vegetables, flowers and yes, water the plants.
When we arrived in Penang, I decided to try my hand at planting vegetables. I thought it would be a fun way to let Eva see where food comes from and to appreciate how much work it takes to grow the vegetables that we eat every day. So apart from the usual home staples like aloe vera and peace lilies, we bought some planter boxes and pots to get started on our balcony garden.
We started with angled petolas (which didn’t do so well due to constant bug infestation so I removed them) and choy sum. As you can see above, the choy sam fared pretty well although growth was a little on the slow side since I went the organic route and only used hummus fertiliser, goat manure and some Epsom salt. We got our first harvest two months after sowing and germination. The bunch you see is from three plants – I lobbed off the top and kept the bottom most two leaves and roots in to see if I could get another round of veg from it. The planter is still pretty full and I’m starting to see some flowers being put out so another harvest might be in order soon.
Since the harvest, we have purchased another two (albeit smaller) planter boxes and this time, I have sowed some bok choy and Hong Kong choy sam seeds. Our ginger plant is doing quite well and we also decided to plant another small bulb as it was sprouting. I also have some mint going in a large pot! Eva is pretty excited about the garden and I’ll be getting her to help me fertilise and water these boxes every few days. Hehehehe.
|November 10, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Just Eva, Parenthood|
I’ve been toying with the idea of enrolling Eva for dance or music lessons for a while now. I remember her being very interested in dance as a toddler and then as she got older, well, it became more obvious that she had this love for dance.
That’s one of her performances during a school concert and just yesterday, when I sat down with her teacher for a year-end conference, I decided after that to start hunting for a dance school just for her. “She loves dancing and responds very well to instructions.” This is no mean feat, especially when you consider that she joined her class in August and didn’t have a long time to prepare for the performance.
I could explore the other option which is music and buy Akai MPD26 stuff but I think we’ll give music a go first and see how that works out.
*cross-posted on the main blog*
|October 6, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Just Eva, Just Noah, Parenthood, Videos Galore|
The past couple of weeks have been peppered with activities as the kids were quarantined after Noah’s brush with HFMD. They played together most of the time with Noah trying to get in on some of Eva-only activities like reading and Playdoh work.
So just to keep him (and poor Eva) happy (otherwise, he’d been bugging her non-stop), we got him his own book and Playdoh materials.
And oh, the biggest milestone ever arrived…
But it doesn’t mean that he’s ready to ditch crawling completely! The little tyke is still contented to hold someone’s finger and waddle his way around. Despite that, he has discovered the joys of walking up and down stairs, the escalator, travelator…I reckon he’ll be zooming about pretty soon. Just needs a little bit more courage and confidence. Hehehehe.
|September 24, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Just Eva|
During Eva’s first school year back in France, we never had to deal with homework. It’s a strange concept – homework for children around Eva’s age – mainly because they have so many activities to do at school and their teaching pedagogy borders more towards Montessori. How can you give homework for things like putting on your jacket or shoes, recognising your name, etc?
When we were hunting for a school here for the kids, I wanted something that was more play-oriented than academic. My take on the matter is this – I want my children to understand that you can learn through play, that their childhood is only fleeting and more importantly, that academics isn’t to be all and all. Enjoying school, enjoying learning…that’s what’s important. I am afraid of killing any interest children have in learning so we kept this in mind when we went for school visits.
After talking to a few people, we visited two kindies. The first wasn’t our cup of tea – Eva’s and mine, to be frank. In my opinion, it was sterile and very factory-like (read: heavy emphasis on outcome and results). Kids as young as 4 yo would have homework every day. School schedule was all learning and only one session of arts & crafts or play time. What ever happened to things like exercise, music, playing? There weren’t even story books in the library!
The second, which we subsequently, settled for was far messier and older but Montessori-styled and looked more lively. There were story books, learning tools like blocks and beads, children’s work every where, play areas inside and outside and the schedule was much better. More importantly, they have a clear-cut policy – minimal homework, emphasis on soft skills and non-academic subjects too.
I allowed Eva to choose between the two and she picked the second kindy that we went to. Till today, she keeps telling me that she enjoys kindy…even wonders why there isn’t any school on Saturdays!
We started a while back and this is the first homework (if you could call this homework…kakakakak) she received – basically differentiating between sizes and discovering danger. She was proudly waving it around when I went to pick her up and agreed excitedly to working on her homework after her nap.
Lets see how it goes later then! Teheheh.
|August 23, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
The photo above is of me (in red) doing an Indian dance during a school concert. I was around 11-12 years old at the time. Next to me was my best friend – she’s Indian, btw – and my two Malay classmates. Our choreographer, trainer and instructor was none other than our Indian math/class teacher. I don’t really remember how I got roped into the whole thing except that my best friend told me that they were performing for the school concert and that I should try it out. At that time, I was hanging out at her place quite often and sampling Indian food, being exposed to Indian culture so I thought why not? Turned out to be one very interesting and memorable experience.
I grew up in a multicultural environment. I studied in a multicultural environment both at primary, secondary and tertiery level – my good friend in college were Malay and Maldivian respectively. I worked with people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups – I had lunch with my Malay and Indian colleges. In fact, at one office, I ate more chapatis, dhaal and Malay mix rice than I did Chinese food!
When I moved to France and Switzerland, I said goodbye to this and settled for a predominantly white-European environment. While there are a myriad of different cultures and communities in these two countries, they are not as prominent as in Malaysia or obvious – perhaps because I live in a small town and not in the cities where it is highly diverse and dynamic. In France, Eva was one of the handful of kids who had immigrant parents (me la) – there was a child whose parents were from Madagascar, another one from Algeria, one from China but that was it. Traditional costumes are not commonplace – in fact, at a school carnival, Eva was the only one dressed in one (a Nyonya outfit).
A far cry from my experience where people wore Punjabi suits and baju kurung to work, baju Melayu during Hari Raya, cheongsam for Chinese New Year, saris and lenghas for Deepavali, etc. Credit must be given to my hubby for being utterly supportive and even persistent about me exposing the kids (and others back in Europe) to Malaysian culture and heritage. He would insist that I wear a kebaya to a friend’s wedding even though it would have been cheaper for me to just go out and get a regular dress. Even made Eva wear the same Nyonya outfit as well.
So when we moved back to Malaysia, I jumped at the opportunity to expose my children to the very same things that I grew up with – the different foods, culture, festive occasions and so forth. Her kindy is filled with not just expats but locals as well (in fact, locals outnumber the expats) and her teachers are locals too. We arrived just before Hari Raya and got a chance to look at the various Raya decorations at shops.
A few days ago, I got a note from the school stating that they would be having a Raya party and children were asked to come in a traditional outfit. I had missed the Raya sale and while I could settle for a normal baju kurung and baju Melayu for the kids, I went and got the kids a lengha/lehnga and punjabi/ali baba-styled outfits. As Eva paraded around in her lengha/lehnga, I am reminded of my own multicultural experiences.
If there is anything amazingly awesome about being in Malaysia, it is this – a Chinese girl can dressed up in a sari and perform an Indian dance with both Indian and Malay dancers.
*Cross posted on the baby blog*
|August 2, 2013||Posted by Mabel under General|
Our new place in Penang is on the 18th floor and since its purchase, the owner has never seen the need to install grills for the windows or balcony sliding door (we are his first tenants in this unit). So while the owner scouted around for quotations, I set about babyproofing the home – at least temporarily. The children are actually house-proofed already. They know not to play with doors, switches, power sockets and so forth but the worrypot in me is still quite concerned about height-related safety. So we came up with a couple of cheap solutions – a piece of wood (to function as a lock for the sliding door), safety gate (with or without extensions) and adjustable cabinet locks.
While they work just fine, especially the safety gate which can be adult-proof too, my concern is more of the windows as I prefer something more “permanent” like grill. Those will be installed next week but until then, these cabinet locks will do just fine. At least it’s better than a fully open window (*heart attack moment*).