Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homeschooling trip to UPM Edupark

Last week, some homeschooling families got together for a trip to UPM Edupark. It is just 20 mins from our place. I was not expecting much, but..look at this..

What a gorgeous place! We took a farm truck to go in, and all of a sudden it was like we were transported to a different world..and it is beautiful.

I am blown away by the beauty of this place.

As breathtaking as New Zealand, right here at our doorstep.

We went to the cow milking place. I was hoping for handmilking but apparently these days cows are milked with electric pumps! similar to breastpumps actually. UPM students do handmilk these cows still for educational purposes. (how fun their courses must be!) I dream one day to own our own cow for milking. Fresh unprocessed milk everyday! I can make cheese! butter! cream! soap! hehe...wishful thinking but who knows, right.

The kids get to feed the baby calfs. The smell of fresh milk is amazing - delicious, fresh, sweet. It was not what I imagined the smell would be. Different than the milk you purchase at supermarkets. We went to their mart to purchase some fresh milk but they've run out quick. There is a high demand and you can only get them in the morning, 3 days a week. Very dissapointed. I will go again insyaallah early morning to get some milk.

After the cows, we went to see some deers. Cute baby deer here named Tin. The other deers are wild creatures and shy away from human contact. But Tin is quite friendly.

Male deers grow new antlers every year. The old ones drop like these.

Next we went to see the horses. Horse riding for the kids! The horses here are well cared for and it shows. They look very beautiful and healthy. Shiny hair and muscly.

Kids had fun feeding carrots to the horses.

It was a nice trip. Will go back again for the milk ;)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Make your own noodles

My kids tend to go through a whole LOT of homemade playdough. Yours too? How about we use that to our advantage and have them make their own lunch? hehe...

 The recipe is super simple. Only 2 ingredients. 500g of flour, and 5 eggs. Yup, that's it. Dump the flour into a huge bowl (pink bowl is a plus, obviously), make a hole and break the eggs into it. Mix it up. Knead. It makes a nice soft pliable dough. If you find it too wet, add a bit of flour. If too dry, add abit of water.

Then let the kids play with it. The longer you play with it, the better the dough will be.

Still playing the dough. Mia liked the texture so much that she asked for more the next day, just for playing.

Set your noodle maker on a floury table. I got ours from Giant, cheaply at around rm30+. It is very simple to use and the kids can operate it on their own. We were pretty much wrestling each other ( even me!) to get a turn to use the noodle maker.

When we're done this is what you get. Beautiful homemade noodles. Dry it on a kitchen towel.  You can use right fresh pasta right away or leave it to dry for a couple of hours, then keep it to use another day. It should keep for a week or two.

Freshly boiled pasta. Yum! It's a hit with the kids.

Oh, did I mention we go through a LOT of pasta too in this house?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First day of 'school'

My New Year's resolution is to blog more. Yup. Don't believe me? I don't blame ya ;)

The beginning of the year this year feels a bit..heavy for me. This year Adam is turning 7, which means that when the other children started school last Thursday, Adam is officially a Homeschooler. The weight of responsibility felt especially heavy on my shoulders. Am I doing something right? Will he turn out ok? All those voices of doubt started to creep in on me a little bit. So I decided to take out my camera, and record the little events of our regular day, to remind myself why we're doing this.

 Early morning, he and Mia decided to build Legos together. Without a fight ;)

 Then we made colored foam. Still in their pyjamas.

Recipe for those awesome foam: A squirt of dishwash/shower gel in your blender/food processor, a little bit of water, some food coloring and then blend! The longer you blend, the more foam it makes. Bonus; your blender gets a good clean.

He played Jengga. Made dominoes and then later robot armies.

They fed little sister Maryam..

This is our read for the day. Adam's choice. Oh yeah. We dig dino poops. Not your regular textbook that's for sure.

He taught Mia to read Furqan after prayer times..

Alphabet homemade playdough in the evening..

At the end of the day when I look at these photos and recall Adam's first day of unschool, I thought,'s not so bad afterall. In fact it's a great first day. It is an ordinary day. Full of family time, fun, child-led learning. The children get to claim their childhood.

This feels right. Alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Maryam Amelia, the Birth Story

24 hours prior to actual labour, I felt some mild contractions that were irregular but were getting stronger. I couldn't sleep through the night, so I spent the night packing the hospital bag, thinking labour might be near. After subuh and throughout the day I did some walking and a lot of waiting. It was very frustrating. The contractions were there, but very irregular. My husband already took the day off (it was Friday) and I felt guilty that it was just false labour. By 9pm that night, I was exhausted from having had no sleep, and went straight to bed.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 

At 12.30am, I was woken up by a strange heavy pressure in my lower belly. It felt like the baby's head was right down there. Then around 1am strong contractions started regularly, every 7-8 mins. By 2am it was much stronger every 5 mins. I still hesitated about going to the hospital because of the false labour the day before. I thought this could be false labour again. My husband insisted that we go anyway. He loaded the car and by 2.20am we were out the door.

My husband played the reading of Surah Maryam on the radio while in the car, to calm me down. The road was clear, and he was driving like a maniac :) About 200m from the hospital, we were stopped by a police car. He told them "Saya nak bawak isteri saya ke hospital ni!" The officer took one look inside the car and quickly told us to go...haha..

Around 2.50am we arrived at the hospital ER. It was calm and quiet, I refused the wheelchair, to the nurse's bewilderment and walked to the labour room. At the labour room, the nurse monitered my contractions on the CTG machine for half an hour, then did one VE. I was 5 cm dialated, and she concluded that my contractions were 'weak to moderate'. I insisted to get off the bed and walked around  the room. She was hesitant but I told her that Dr Seri already signed my birth plan for a simple natural labour, and I specified that I wanted to be mobile, did not want any pain medication, CTG machine or IV fluids. Contractions were getting stronger at this point and I kept feeling like I needed to empty my bladder. I walked around, ate dates and drank water, and holding onto things when contractions came. I had read about Quranic childbirth during pregnancy and remembered about the verses in Surah Maryam, about how Maryam gave birth to Nabi Isa;

{19:23} And the throes (of childbirth) compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten! {19:24} Then (the child) called out to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you. {19:25} And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. {19:26} So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today.

Around 4am, the nurse asked me whether I really didn't want pain medication because if I did then I could sleep, and she will come check on me again at 6.30am. I said no, and asked if she could help me put on the hospital's fancy new tens machine instead. She didn't really know how to put it on either, and while we were all reading the tens manual and trying to figure out how to use the tens machine, 2-3 very strong contractions came and suddenly I was soaked to my feet! My water broke. This was the first time my water broke by itself. I was relieved, thinking 'oh good this time nobody's going to insert a knitting needle in me to break my water!'.

All of a sudden the contractions were just a minute or two apart and they were very, very strong. I already felt the urge to push. I got on the bed. The nurse ran out to call Dr Seri. The contractions came very strong and I could feel the baby coming. This time without any pain medication to numb me out, I was hyperaware of everything happening with my body. I felt the baby's head going down and pushing out. I yelled out to the nurse 'Nurse!! Baby nak keluar dah ni! Saya nak push!'. It didn't matter to me if the doctor came or not. The nurses kept telling me don't push! put your feet down! You're only 8cm dialated! I couldn't care less. I KNEW the head was already down there and she was coming NOW! My husband was there the whole time holding my hand, saying comforting words to me ; astagfirullah, astagfirullah...relax, relax...breathe, breathe...

Luckily Dr Seri came very quickly. She said, "Tell me if you feel like pushing". I told her "I want to push now! and can I put my feet up now?" (as in pulling the knees up towards my body in a semi squat) She quickly put on her apron and told me "yes you can put your feet up. The reason they won't let you before was because I wasn't here yet. You can push a bit too, if you felt like it". She didn't have to tell me, I was already pushing a bit at every contraction, because the urge to push was so strong, and I knew it was time despite being told repeatedly not to push.

She got in position and soon in the next contraction, the baby's head was out. There was no "push now 1,2,3" from the birth team whatsoever. I simply released and breathed her out. Soon the next contraction came and plup! out came her shoulders. Within seconds she was in my arms.  I had requested for cord clamping to be delayed, so Dr Seri waited for it to stop pulsating while I immediately breastfed the baby. My husband cut the cord, and soon more contractions came and with a short push the placenta was out. Perinium intact, so I didn't need any stitches. The baby was born at 4.37am, her weight was 3kg.

It was a quick, simple, natural birth. What a beautiful experience. My husband had wanted the name Maryam, and as I looked at this tiny bundle in my arms, and the fresh memory of Surah Maryam intertwined with her birth, I knew, this was her name;


Maryam Amelia.

I love you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Handmade cloth pads

Did you know that Kamdar sells beautiful flannels for rm 5.50 per meter? I bought a few meters recently for a variety of projects, one of which was to make cloth pads.

When I just had Mia, I used the usual large disposable post-partum pads at first. I found them very uncomfortable, particularly because I had stitches, and that area tend to be very sore anyway, after childbirth. Regular disposable pads feels plasticky and sometimes the stick on wings get stuck to your skin and..eugh! Too much information there. So I ordered some cloth pads online quickly and it was so much better!

With this upcoming birth I decided to make some cloth pads myself. Why wouldn't I, when pretty cotton flannels are at my disposal.

It was very simple, I didn't bother trying to find other fancy bamboo fabric or even pul, I used many layers of the flannels, and for waterproofing, I used the only waterproof fabric I had on hand - leftover from previous projects. You can see the red polkadot fabric, I'm not sure what kind it is, probably laminated cotton? Bought at Ikea a while a ago so I don't remember the price.

I hid the waterproof layer inside 2 layers of flannel as the backing. The soaker middle is sewn separately, with i think 8 layers of flannel altogether. Probably didn't even need waterproofing already with so many layers but it's nice to have reassurance. Then the soaker is sewn to the backing and it's done. Easy peasy. I still need to find a solution for closing though ; maybe buttons or I'll get snaps installed at the craft shop.

In just under rm 25, I get 9 cloth pads. If you want to make them too, you can print the pattern template here. There are a lot of patterns there for sewing cloth diapers too. I have made some cloth diapers from her patterns and love them (will blog about this later).

Have fun sewing!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adam makes liquid soap

You can see how my blog is now filling up with talks of soaps and lotions and balms. Can you imagine all the soap talks, lipbalm talks and Mommy's Business talks going on in my house? Naturally the kids are very curious and interested and want to get involved. Soapmaking, unfortunately is an art that must be practised with supreme caution and without children. Oh yes. Imagine the frustration. Adam's frustration. He loves experiments and soapmaking sounds like the ultimate experiment for him (based on my description). 

So to let him in on some of the excitement, we made liquid soap together.

To make liquid soap, we used offcuts and soap slivers from the soap I made before. These soaps have fully saponified but are still soft and need drying time to harden before we can use them. But they'll be perfect for making into liquid soap.

To make liquid soap, we just chop up these soap and 'cook' it with some boiling water.

When it's all nice and melted down, we added some food coloring and essential oils for scent. I gave Adam full control of this 'experiment' and he chose his own colours and scents.

Tadaaaa!! Homemade liquid soap! From left - colored blue scented with sweet orange essential oil, original Milk Calendula Soap, colored pink scented with rose geranium essential oil (for Mia), and the last one colored purple but Adam didn;t like this one and decided not to scent it.

Someone's very proud of his soaps :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rosemary Lavender Shampoo Bar

You may remember a few entries back I have been switching to homemade shampoo. My hair feels nice and healthy, but I do kind of miss the lathery, bubbly feeling of shampoo. But I definitely do not want to switch back to regular shampoo. So I decided to make shampoo bars! what are shampoo bars? They're like natural soaps, but you use it on your hair. 

To make this shampoo first I infused my olive oil with dried rosemary and lavender. I made small lavender-bag style herb bags to infuse in my oil. You could just cover the herbs with oil but making these bags make it easy to remove the herb out later. Rosemary and lavender are great herbs to use for hair.

Here it is infusing using heat. I also used purple gromwell root powder to try to color my soap. It's purpose is mainly cosmetic. I was hoping for a pretty purple soap.

Got my kit ready.

This is the color of my oil before saponification. Lovely reddish purple.

This is the color after saponification, and after being in the oven for 20 mins! (I used hot-process soapmaking method this time) It turned from purple to sort of greenish...then later greyish.. and finally...

To settling on this stone gray colour. Shocking! The texture is different too from the cold process soap that i made before. Hot process soaps are cooked through until full saponification occurs, and by the time it is poured into the mold it is soap already and the texture is more solid than liquid. So the resulting soaps will have this rough, rustic look of handmade soap.

Although the colour is not what I wanted, I am very happy with these shampoo bars. Because of the hot process method, the soap can be used right away, and so I have been using these shampoo on my hair. It is heavenly! makes a lot of bubbles, it feels silky and lathery on my hair and the smell of rosemary and lavender is just lovely.

So now my hair care routine is this: Deep condition hair at night with virgin coconut oil (once a week), wash the next morning with this shampoo bar, then do a *vinegar rinse for a conditioner.

My hair feels well conditioned and silky smooth right after a wash. Before this right after shampooing with regular shampoo my hair feels a bit dry and a bit frizzy, then turns slightly better the next day. Loving this routine now and love these shampoo bars!

*To do a vinegar rinse: mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water, add in a few drops of tea tree essential oil, rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil.


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