Friday, 31 July 2015

All in a day's work!

While I was writing this post, my hubby stopped by and wanted to talk. I answered him briefly, so I could get on with my writing. Ticking my to-do list is more important than being with someone. Indeed 'being' is much harder than 'doing'. Even at home, there's a never ending list of things to do with no sense of completion. I walk around sometimes like there's something I forget to do. 

Whether in schools or homeschooling, the rat race is there. We're encouraged to pack our life full of activities and maximise our learning experience. At work, we have to look productive and take on more responsibilities. We live as if there's nothing wrong with this system. We call it 'progression'. If there's nothing wrong, why are we so perplexed by the flood of bad news, why are so many people unhappy? Why are so many on medication to control stress, depression? 

Slowing down is radical in this day. Learning to let go doing all things is just as radical. We couldn't really help it anymore. Whether it's a field trip, having a meal, going out with friends, finishing an assignment, watching tv - there's no rest. The pressure to keep up with the Joneses, to perform, to find our passion - is just too much to handle.

Here we are taking things easier this year. Working to a slower, simpler life.

Fitness first... badminton, track training, taekwando, swimming, running.
Exercise for city kids isn't a chore, kids like to play naturally. Only that setting time to do it consistently is hard. Exercise has to compete with so many things now - school work, activities, holidays, shopping, field trips, etc. 

Brandon is still very much passionate in drawing. His favourite is the black&white sketching. I'm just following his pace, cos I'm kinda very laid back in art & craft.

Homemade birthday cakes for the boys! They don't get tired of the same cakes almost every year.

Time with friends was also precious.

House chores and dog training. Fortunate we bumped into Cesar Millan videos thus we could keep Cookie a while longer. 

Psalm 46:10
Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

I Spy Chicks - March 2015

What a feast we had when a Mother bulbul built a nest on our neighbour's bamboo plant! We're reading about Birds from the Charlotte Mason's Parables from Nature - and what joy to find exactly two chicks and two adult Bulbuls in our backyard!

Two beautiful cute chicks in the nest!

Could not contain his curiousity anymore!

Yellow-vented Bulbul looking for food nearby.

Mother Bulbul feeding the chicks - it's very frequent feeding at first, like every 15-20 minutes, then the interval got longer as they grew. They're a busy and noisy lot.

Hungry nestling birds waiting for Mama!

Papa and Mama close by to make sure chicks were safe. They're very protective of the chicks. Once, a few robins and tailorbirds (yes, right in our backyard) came and there was a terrible fight. Soon the other birds got the message and left.

See the little nestlings looked nothing like the adult Bulbul.

A fledgling now, fell from its nest and hopped around looking for Mama. See its feathers not well-developed yet and some parts you could even see the flesh. To cut the story short, the other chick didn't survive - there're a few nights with heavy thunderstorm, and the sparse bamboo couldn't protect it. Sad. We tried to feed the surviving fledgling with bits of mulberries. But it made so much noise trying to get away. We're worried that the parents might abandon the chick too. Tried many ways to reunite it with the parents. Finally, it happened, they're all gone and it's peace and quiet again. Brandon was so sad, he would love to keep the chick. He has to learn to let go - the birds have gone to the Unknown Land, just like the story in the Parables from Nature. 

What's the Science?

Venus-Jupiter conjunction 
Venus passing between the Earth and sun and Earth passing between Jupiter and sun in June/July 2015. They belong to very different worlds, and they're no where near each other in space. Yet both are the brightest in Earth's sky and so near each other from our skyline. 

2-day workshop with Sam Gibbs on aerospace, water rocket, straw rocket, paper rocket, Bernoulli, what-not.... I couldn't remember much, yet this sparked our interest to know our 'space'. The interest escalated till the New Horizon flyby of Pluto in July 2015. Imagine a spacecraft launched more than 9 years ago, the same year as Brandon was born, calculated with such precision, went against all odds based on technology more than a decade ago - really a brilliant feat.

Science in nature study. Early of the year, the animal/insect kingdom was so alive - perhaps it's the mating season in spring. We saw spiders in the backyard, in Bukit Tinggi, so many of them in between row of trees. The one in our backyard stayed a few weeks thus we have time to observe it making a pattern, 'stabilimenta' to decorate its web. When disturbed, it would vibrate like it's on a trampoline, trying to fend off any invaders. There're also the lime butterfly, the bees, at one point the pest control has to be called in to get rid of a swarm of thousands of honey bees! And a delightful Dollarbird in Tg Tuan, PD.

Made use of the facility at STEM Exploration Centre in Cyberjaya. They conducted many different classes - eg robotics, 3D printing, CSI, Arduino, Scratch programming, coding intro, etc. Before this, we have no idea what's it about...the terminology, the technology, the Maker movement, etc. It's a good exposure for the boys and me to create an awareness of the latest in STEM, which is going to be as crucial in their education path as learning to read.

Science days at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang and home DIY electrical circuit experimenting with daddy!

Can you spot it? Every time we're in Tg Tuan, we'd surely spot it!

Taipei in Bloom - 9-13 March 2015

It's so easy to overlook Taipei cos it's not in the top must-see places. Hubby and I, minus the kids, went for a short trip to Taipei and we went without any expectation. We arrived very early and couldn't check into our hotel rooms yet, so we dropped by Chiang Kai Shek Memorial to get some fresh air. It's spring, and the air smelled like fragrant flowers. The park was very well-maintained, with info signs to educate us on different types of trees, flowers and birds. But the biggest surprise was to see the blooming cherry blossom trees! 

Dozens of bird enthusiasts clicking away, but the pink cherry blossoms were not the Star, it's the white-eye bird! It was quite a sight to see all the expensive telephoto camera lens aiming at those small, active birds. 

We enjoyed the walks very much - maybe it's the fresh spring air, the sakura season, the beautiful trees or the carefree holidays without kids... I loved it so much that I came back to the same place on my own again. I learnt how to differentiate between the Taiwan cherry blossom and plum flowers. There's also a few cherry blossom species and they bloom at different timing. There're so many bird species we saw in the park too.

Next important to-do on the list - FOOD! Taipei is so well-known for its street food that it needed no introduction. Taiwan was a colony of Japan for 50 years, so a lot of its food culture bears a similarity to Japan. There's so so much to share about the food & snacks in Taipei - it needs another post.

Nearby CKS Memorial, we saw a long queue of people waiting at a corner coffee shop for the Jinfeng braised pork rice and the side dishes and herbal soup. It's great to take something hot on a cold, windy day.

Famous fermented stinky tofu at Shilin night market. Also love the fried milk snacks and the teppanyaki, the oyster omelette, etc.

Next surprise is the Yehliu Geopark, which is about an hour's bus ride from Taipei city. The park is well-maintained and entrance fee is very reasonable. It's not necessary to join a day tour cos the public transport is very reliable and convenient.

It's rather rainy and windy that whole week we're there, with mostly overcast sky. The Pacific ocean was very rough and fierce. It's very scenic to see the impact of weathering, like a sculptor was there shaping, refining, cutting the rocks into various layers, shapes and sizes. And it's an ongoing piece of art, we're seeing new shapes and rock formations.

Famous 'Queen's Head'

A fairy's shoe or slipper?? Formed due to seawater erosion on rock layers. Indeed the wonders of nature!
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