the week of Jan 27th- Jan 30th 2014

This is the week before Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year so our lessons will be up to Thursday morning only.

Catching up on their Global Game Jam bootcamp notes. Trying to train them how to make concise but coherent notes.
Writing their journal reg: the workshops and experiences. Teaching them to observe, bring description into
Mandarin homework.

Finished the Earth description notes, read it.
Mandarin homework.
Will do more Timetables practice, from 4x-6x with flashing the cards not in sequence (backwards for now). Starting with 7x.

We played a game.

They are rather worn out today, it was a long weekend. There’s no pc/game today, and they have had half hour deduction from tomorrow’s play/game time for coming to the table late. Trying to train them to be ready BEFORE the designated time, rather than AT the time given. It’s going to take a while. Will need to finish up the chore chart so I don’t have any arguments reg: chores & whose turn it is to do it. J2 needs to learn time management, and directional focus, ditto for j1 but to slow down, rather than doing everything at top side but make mistakes.

28th Jan

Twins: Grandma Class (in the am)

Mandarin homework (writing characters)
some more of the English practice sessions, and some videos.

Twins did Mandarin Homework.

29th Jan

a good session at the park.
Twins: Practiced their entire set of Mandarin flashcards, might test them on the old ones, next week, to keep things refreshed.
j1 needs that motivation, he’s getting better at focusing and taking it seriously but like k, he only has set attention span. Still working on j2’s time management.
Maths practice: 1x-12x timetables, written. 2 columns, swopping numbers around. There was some whinging, as they had to write it out themselves, they wanted to try the verbal method but we’ll save that for another round, like a game! Don should be taking over the Maths part from February, I’m just covering the revision aspects for now.

K: finished the last of his Mandarin character writing. Studied the 8x time tables. Practiced the 4,5,6,Practiced 7xtimetables. Wrote the 1-8x timetables in his book, 2x each for 1x-8x timetables (swopping numbers to see if he gets the relationship). He is getting better at focusing but really needs guidance, especially the control of his frustration and anger.

All 3:
watched Khan academy video on Photosynthesis. Made notes on what they saw.

This afternoon:
chores & making apple raisin/apple choc chip granola bars! 🙂 Although those who don’t want to help can get to clean the downstairs bathroom. 😀

30th Jan
Lunar New Year Eve. We are cooking the reunion dinner. No lessons for the next 4 days, due to it being the Lunar New Year, and it’s clean up time.

A reminder:

Week of Jan 20th-27th 2014

I decided to adjust their routine a little and give them half hour cycling at the park while I walk around the park. I think I need to begin half hour earlier (at least) as it affected the rest of our routine so we started lessons an hour later than we’d planned.


Twins: Cursive writing practice. Practiced flash cards for Mandarin again. They re-read their notes from the reptiles session of last week and presented what they had studied. So far they have got most of the points, and explained it in their own words. This afternoon, return to reptiles classification. they did some more cursive writing practice, this time by alphabet. I’ve encouraged them to now write their notes in cursive, to get used to the practice.


K was not so responsive today, and during flash cards practice he got frustrated and pitched a fit. After some time, he calmed down. We then read through his notes on the solar system and corrected his mistakes (punctuation, mixing up of small/capital letters). Taught him to make paragraphs and not spread out his sentences line by line. We read through. We’ll finish up the Mercury description notes after their break. This afternoon, some Maths addition practice. We did some writing practice, with the alphabet to help with the capital/small letter mix up.


Today was not so good in terms of work, we definitely had a late start, although we did do the walk in the park/cycle thing. We had a more relaxed session this morning. They prepped their notebooks for science experiments and workshops and we discussed an upcoming workshop for them.

Science experiment: Molecules Pg 7. Science Wizardry for Kids (morning). We took notes on the experiment and observing the changes over set period of times. They wrote a short paragraph on what are atoms and molecules.

Twins :Practice Mandarin Flash cards, 100%.

23rd Jan:

We took the morning off from the park today. I think they needed a rest, I know I did! We’re going to assemble the the telescopes soon and figure out when the new moon begins.

Afternoon: Mandarin class

Twins: corrections from Grandma’s lessons
Noting down the conclusion from yesterday’s experiment.
Preparing the phases of the moon to observe.
Introduction to Greek Mythology

He did some word search and puzzles that Grandma had given.
Maths Practice: addition (30 sums). Started on the thousands, mixed with hundreds.
Noting down the conclusion from yesterday’s experiment.
Preparing the phases of the moon to observe.

Twins: Grandma’s class

Multiplication Flashcards: 3x-6x. Will move onto 7x.
Introduction to Greek mythology (Reading)
Science (Intro): Planets- today’s planet was: Earth

afternoon: beginning on Mandarin homework.

Twins have workshops (one: Introduction to Stencyl. 2nd: Introduction to 3D art), 9am-5pm at KDU).
K has taekwondo, some reading and spending some time at grandma’s. He baked Granola bars (I let him handle most of the prep, under supervision) with me, and they turned out great 🙂 So that was a huge boost for him, he is happy giving it out to certain people, so it’s lovely to see 🙂

Next week is CNY (end of the week) so we probably won’t have lessons etc from Friday-Sunday but it’s back on the full on programme after that.

Have a great week ahead.

the week of Jan 13th- 18th 2014

Will be adding to this as the week progresses. This is to keep a record of what lessons/field trips/activities etc the boys get up to (With or without pix etc).

13/01- 15/01.

Did revision with the twins on Biology, then the following day they were at Grandma’s for their lesson (Brain, Ear, Eye, skin, throat), K and I worked on his Maths. We had realised that he wasn’t as confident using columns (the 1s, 10s etc) to do his sums, thus creating more opportunities of making mistakes, but not knowing where he went wrong. So using the Zoob pieces, I practiced that with him. In the afternoon, it was back to decluttering with their toys!

Today (15/01): Maths again with K (his request), we did two sums with the zoob, then we tried the column based addition sums to see how well he understood what we were trying to show him. You could see where he lost concentration, but otherwise he seems to have grasped the concept. We did a run of multiplication timestables up to 6x. This afternoon is Spelling (30 words). Then we’ll either play a board game or chill. They have no PC/console time today.

Twins: today was a diagram of the ear, with labels and explanations. Revision: up to 12x timestable. Spelling: 50 words. j1 and j2 settled lunch (egg salad sandwiches). They are doing creative writing, with their My Little Pony fan fiction (with their friends).

Mythology postponed to either Thursday or Friday afternoon. I need more research time, we only have the one book at the moment. We’ll talk over Greek Mythology this afternoon (since we’ve been reading Percy Jackson!), maybe play a game with those characters, or try out Monopoly.

They had Mandarin in the morning, and after an early lunch, we gave them their hour on the PC.

After that, we did English. They had to look up the words from their spelling tests and make sentences with those words. K has some issues with punctuation, capitalization and concentration (still). I’ll need to work with him on that, I’ll admit that I am so rusty with all that technical English stuff. The twins also did their cursive writing practice as requested by Grandma.


K: Mandarin flash cards to practice with his brothers.
Introduction to Science: the Solar system. Drawn out the system. Will list out and learn about the Sun, and each planet.
Multiplication Table Practice. (up to 6).
Writing Practice.

We watched a snake feeding on a rodent (thanks auntie k for the video!) and we will be doing natural sciences: reptiles for this week. They wrote down the characteristics of reptiles, stopping at skin. Will save that for another session, Then we will go into further depth, specific examples etc. Beginning with snakes! 🙂 video here:

Mandarin flash cards.
Decide on an experiment to plan towards. They are at Grandma’s in the afternoon anyway.

next week:

Twins: Introduction to Geography (revisit Malaysia, her states & state capitals. Select a state to do research on, and presentation to plan for).

K: English language.

Pictures below.

K and Maths

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Educational Board Game to try!

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Compilation of comics for young readers, up to age 15

as compiled by discussions on FB 🙂
Will add to it as we go along.

The Complete Tomorrow Stories by Alan Moore
Alan Moore – Tom Strong
Reggie Lee
Jimi Germ Comics
Major Zombie
Geronimo stilton, asterix obelix
Some of the Gempak Starz series (BM or Mandarin)

Old Disney comics
New disney early reader comics (up to Level 3)
Just about any Golden Age Marvel or DC comics. You know, like in those bumper B&W compilations you can get.
Asterix, Steven Sterk, Lucky Luke, Johan ; Pirlouit, etc. Billy batson and the magic of shazam Teen TItans Year one.
Bone, Doraemon, Smurfs, Tintin and the Wizard of Oz.

Don says:

” all of these are usually categorized as “All-Ages Friendly”, which means the grown-ups can feel free to enjoy them too.

Also, the age bands are based on my own opinion and as parents, you’d obviously know what level of reading your child is currently at, so adjust accordingly.

Anyways, assuming you’re asking specifically for super-hero material, here we go:

5-9 year olds:
1) DC Super Friends – based on the toy line from Mattel (you don’t have to buy the toys to enjoy the stories), this was a kid-friendly comic book title that’s no longer in print, unfortunately. Luckily, the comics have been collected in the following books:…/dp/1401221564…/dp/1401229123…/dp/1401222897…/dp/1401230318

2) Tiny Titans – a brilliant all-ages comic book series based on the Teen Titans characters as playschool kids. Collected in the following volumes (I haven’t listed all 8 volumes here):…/dp/1401220789…/dp/1401223281…/dp/1401223281…/dp/140123173X

3) Superman Family Adventures…/dp/140124050X…/dp/1401244157

7-10 year olds:
1) Green Lantern Animated – based on the cartoon, this is a kid-friendly collection of the ongoing comic book:…/dp/140123819X…/dp/1401243282

2) The All-New Batman Brave & The Bold – based on the cartoon series, this was an awesome kid-friendly version of the classic Batman team-up book. It’s been collected in the following volumes:…/dp/1401232728…/dp/1401228968…/dp/1401231438…/dp/1401238521…/dp/1401235247

3) Young Justice – again, based on the now-cancelled TV series, this is aimed at slightly older kids. Collected as follows:…/dp/1401233570…/dp/1401237487…/dp/1401237487…/dp/1401237487

4) The Incredibles – a comic book series based on the Pixar characters, written by Mark Waid, legendary comic book writer. Iz good comics, collected as follows:…/dp/1934506834…/dp/1608865185…/dp/B005OL9U8S……/dp/1608865835

8-13 year olds:
1) Marvel Adventures Spider-Man – the younger reader friendly adventures of everyone’s favorite wall crawler. Incidentally, the “Marvel Adventures” branding covers other Marvel heroes too and is the designation for the younger reader series. So if you’re on the lookout for kid-friendly Marvel superhero material, look for that branding. Some collections below, but there are a lot of additional volumes I haven’t listed:…/dp/0785117393…/dp/0785119035…/dp/0785141170…/dp/0785123105

2) Showcase Presents collections – these are black and white reprints of classic DC comic books from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, published as nice, thick, phonebook-sized collections. Some material collects horror and war stuff, but a lot of classic, beloved superhero stuff is collected too. Considering the time period this is from, it’s pretty tame by today’s standards, but parents should still select material based on what you think is appropriate for your respective kids:…

3) Marvel Essentials collections – the equivalent black & white, phonebook-sized collections of classic and much-beloved Marvel comic books:…

If you want that expanded beyond superheroes, it’s gonna need a different post.

Super Friends: For Justice! (Super Friends (DC Comics))
The super-hot Mattel Justice League line leaps to the printed page in this all-a… ”

[review] Greenroom136 Mission backpack – Part 2

In reference to: Part 1

This is long overdue.

I apologise for the lack of pictures, this time around we were in Singapore for the Singapore Toys Games and Comics Con, so I didn’t have a lot of time to take pix.

We took a bus down with most of our stock, spread over everyone’s luggage, and including the Mission backpack.


1 netbook
Various chargers
notebooks (the old fashioned kind)
Sketchbooks (just slightly larger than A4)-20
Sticker packs (about 100 stickers in one pack)

It was pretty packed to the gills. The weight distribution was pretty good, we didn’t feel the weight of all those books. The shoulder straps were very comfortable.

When it rained later on, it definitely was drier than our original Greenroom bag, which was a good thing.

During the convention, we had packed it with even more books and items (without netbook etc) and got about using public transport.
It worked out really really well, very comfortable, despite the increased weight, for which we were thankful.

One of the boys could also carry it on their shoulders without too much hassle either (or complaining for that matter!) so the weight distribution indeed was awesome!

It’s really cool to see the progression of Greenroom136 products, from the 1st one we bought last year to this year’s new products and the continual pushing of the design envelope (or bags I should say LOL). Nice one, guys!

It is a short review this time, but we were really happy with what we put it through, stuffing it to the brim, lugging it everywhere, tossing it around etc, under convention/travel conditions. Good job guys!

Apple cinnamon Loaf

Original Post

Apple Cinnamon Loaf

1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)<– I'd reduce it a bit.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350F/about 180C. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated; add vanilla extract.

Combine flour and baking powder together in another bowl; stir into creamed butter mixture. Mix milk into batter until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Next add half the apples and half the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.

Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and add more brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

My Mum’s Date Loaf Recipe

Date Loaf (Mum’s)

Ingredients [as per recipe but best to double and use bigger tin]

1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 1/2 cups [185grams] S R flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
90 grams butter [softened]
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
2 eggs – lightly beaten
1 tspn Vanilla essence

Preheat oven 180 C [350F].
Brush deep 18cm square cake tin with melted butter and line with baking paper.
Put chopped dates and bicarb in pyrex bowl, add 1 cup hot water , stir and leave 15 mins.
In another bowl, Beat butter and sugar, add vanilla essence, and whisk till light and creamy.
Gradually add eggs and blend in.
Fold in half of sifted flour, then half of date mixture, then slowly add rest of flour and then dates until well-combined.
Pour mixture into cake tin and bake for 40mins or until cooked. Cool before serving.

Our favourite Oatmeal cookie recipe

Danish Oatmeal Cookies

Original Recipe Yield 5 dozen

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (we used brown sugar instead, otherwise too sweet- adjust accordingly, sometimes we use honey instead)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup oatmeal
• 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
• 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, or as needed (we didnt use this- we used a sprinkling of sea salt once, a nice contrast)
1. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate large bowl, mix the butter, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour mixture; gently stir in the oatmeal and pecans and lightly mix until combined.
3. With a spoon, drop about 1 scant tablespoon of dough per cookie onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before sprinkling cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
• These cookies freeze well so I often make a double batch. The trick is getting some into the freezer before they’re all gone!
• You can use walnuts instead of pecans and regular oats for quick-cooking oats.

[Review] Raw milk Mascarpone from Bright Cow Milk

Here’s a little definition of what mascarpone is (from Wikipedia).

“Mascarpone is an Italian cheese made from cream, coagulated thanks to the addition of citric acid or acetic acid.”

A little background, we have been ordering our milk (raw milk) from Bright Cow (I think it’s been a year now) and they are now testing the market on cheeses. We were fortunate enough to be able to get a test sample of mascarpone for review 🙂

disclaimer: We aren’t super foodies/chefs so we can’t give some super duper detailed review. Just only whatever we’ve tried on our own.

Tasting the mascarpone on its own, it’s got a hint of cheeseness, but mostly very creamy. The boys found it a bit bland, but we agreed it’s meant to be accompanied by something.. it’s more a “flavour carrier” as my boys would say. (too much FoodTV). It is creamy, thick, so we liked the texture very much and the fact that it’s not sweetened, as some commercial brands are.

We didn’t use it for baking etc, but here are some of the things we did try.

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the container that arrived 🙂

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a closer look at the mascarpone.

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Mascarpone spread on croissants, with sliced cherry tomatoes, the other with jam. Very nice! This was a favourite idea for the boys.

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We made a tomato and mascarpone omelette instead of using milk (due to the creaminess). the boys enjoyed it. We wanted to try a burger with a bit of mascarpone inside but the boys finished it before I could get the meat from the market LOL

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Pancakes with mango (fresh) and mascarpone. It was DELICIOUS. with a hint of cheese and cream, it was really nice with fresh fruit. And it didnt feel as heavy and rich as you would think.

All in all, a very delicious first taste of raw milk mascarpone! 🙂

Fast4Malaysia 2013 and other snippets.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, we decided to participate in the #Fast4Malaysia this year so here are some snapshots & thoughts:

j2 and I at sahur

j2 and I at sahur

Here’s j2 and I at Sahur (meal before daybreak) enjoying our meal together. We had croissants with mascarpone (from our raw milk suppliers-review on that later!), mango (given by our inlaws the day before), j2 had a chocolate muffin as well . We also had 2-3 glasses of water, as suggested by Auntie Zasz 🙂 He decided to read a book and stay up, while I went back to sleep. I had given the kids the option to have a water only fast, if they wanted and I had said they don’t have to join in if they didn’t want to, j1 and k couldn’t wake up (j1 didnt want to join in this year anyway) so it was just j2 and I 🙂

Later on, I went to my meeting at Whisk (oh the smells of delicious coffee), and I had to explain why I was fasting, although I am not Muslim. They were quite fascinated I think 🙂 Due to my meeting’s extended time, I went to get McD’s for the Don and the other 2 (gasp! I know, we haven’t really had McD’s in eons, don’t tend to go eat), and I asked j2 if he wanted to eat or carry on, I didnt mind either way, he had done very well, making it to half day as it was, with no water even. He was really undecided so I said he can let Dad know when he’s decided. He later asked his dad to sms me to say he’d like to eat. So I told him again later, that I was VERY VERY proud of him for fasting for half a day, and for even wanting to participate 🙂

After their BM classes, on the drive home, where we talked about the Abrahamic religions, and how many religions/cultures included fasting in various forms, and why Muslims fast during this particular month, and spiritualism, vs being spiritual, (yes, it is a long drive (and there was traffic) LOL) and that although we may not subscribe to any one religion, we should try and live out the basic tenements within all of those religions.

After the other 2 got distracted with another discussion, I had asked j2 about his thoughts on fasting (his essay is below) and all that, esp with what we’ve discussed before. He said that he thought it’s good to be a part of something like this, and that he particularly liked how people should do more charity, and think about nicer things and be nicer to people. He said that they should do that every day but he admitted that sadly that isn’t the case, is it Mama? So I told him, yes, that’s true, but so long as WE continue to try and be kind to people, to be considerate and do charity/social work on top of daily life, it will all pan out in the end. He nodded and was quiet for a while. K asked don’t poor people also have to go through not eating sometimes, cos they can’t afford it, so everybody does it to understand how lucky we are? I wasn’t sure how to answer that, so I said yes, poor people often struggle to put food on their tables, but we must also not waste food unnecessarily and be thankful, yes. He nodded and then changed the subject again (it’s like that UP dog, “squirrel!” and then get back to things LOL).

During our drive, K had later said that he’d like to live in England or something when he’s older.. and j2 asked him why? k was like I dunno.. j2 told him: theres nothing wrong with ours, why would you want to live anywhere else? Travel lots, yes, but here it’s where our home is, good things to eat, friends, lots to see. We are Malaysian. and then looks at me. I was trying not to tear up .. J1 says: are you ok Mama, it’s the low blood sugar isn’t it, cos you’re fasting.. I had to laugh 🙂

I told the boys, yes, do travel the world & Malaysia, experience as much as you can, and yes, j2 is right, this is our home, where we belong. No one can tell you any different. 🙂 Then the convo moved to less serious stuff, like BeyBlades and STGCC. I have very odd convos and discussion with my boys in the car or elsewhere, well, odd to some people anyway. 🙂 I wonder if they will remember these convos later on, especially about the deeper stuff as it were.

We picked up minion SV who was also doing her 1st fast as well and headed home to drop the kids before heading to Pasar Ramadan TTDI (well you gotta have PARAM food every Ramadan right? :D). We met Flo (who was fasting too!) there too. It was tempting to over-buy (especially if you’re hungry!), but we made ourselves walk up and down and then choose carefully what to buy. Even then, I think we did go a little bit overboard LOL

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just some of the purchases!

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Flo and SV 🙂

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almost time! 🙂

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Here I am 🙂

I made it, this time with no water at all (which in previous years I had done only water fasts). 🙂 It was good to keep busy and try NOT to think about the fact that I was fasting, I suspect that helps you then not think about the thirst/hunger. I know it’s only a day, but I think it’s good to do these things (whether for Fast4Malaysia or not), as it is shared experiences, understanding what others do as part of their lives, etc. I like to think that it is good for my boys too, to see it, experience it indirectly or directly and for us to talk over these things, to have a little empathy at the very least as part of themselves. We seem to lack empathy and understanding these days. Tolerance just isnt the right word I’d use. Tolerance smacks of “I will stand you/your practices under duress” like traffic jams. I prefer to teach empathy and understanding in whatever limited way that I can, or to practice it as best I can. We don’t always, after all, we are human, everyone has prejudices, experiences etc, but how you choose to act on it, or NOT act on it, really boils down to you. Kids learn from the adults around them, that’s their benchmark, not necessarily from an exam subject or from their religious books. That is something that many adults forget or not think about, perhaps.

It is a week till the end of Ramadan, I’d like to wish all a peaceful, spritual, love-filled Hari Raya Aidilfitri. May there be blessings and understanding for all! 🙂

Anyway, those are my thoughts for this year’s #fast4Malaysia 🙂 Major Kudos to all those who participated, all around the world! 🙂 you can see some of them on The Fast4Malaysia tumblr site 🙂

Here’s j2’s 🙂