Saturday, March 31, 2012

Greener Pastures

The mall where the school is located within was having a eco-friendly bazaar all week. We were invited to participate and so had a chance to meet many nice families and mingle with the lovely stall folks. There were many stalls retailing organics products, recycled products, food and my favourite stall was Jolene's nursery.

I must have bought 7 plants from Jolene in the last two days. Some are for the school. Apparently these plants can absorb the toxic in the air during their photosynthesis (nope, she was not referring to carbon dioxide). Her plants are of good quality and health too. I could tell the difference when re-potting them. The roots are bigger and the plants resettled well. Most importantly, Jolene solved the mystery of the ailment striking my plants.

Some of my previously healthy plants are dying one by one. It all started with the serai (lemon grass) which got coated with a layer of white powdery substance. Soon the leaves dried up, and the plant died. It spread to its neighbour, the pandan which soon suffered the same fate.

So it was opportune that I met Jolene this week. She knows her plants and takes a natural approach to gardening. She diagnosed that my plants are suffering from powdery mildew, a common fungi that thrives in humidity (which is our local weather), and prescribed daily 'medicine' of garlic-onion-dried chilli-baking powder blend. After plucking out the affected part, that is.

I woke up just before 6 am the following day, eager to implement her prescription. Two days later, the powdery mildew seems less. Fingers crossed that my plants will return to their thriving days.

Thankfully, the edible plants seem to be immune.

From top, first comes the lime. Remember how small they were? Like babies, the seedlings grow up in the blink of an eye. Maybe, not as fast for these lime. According to the uncle from my usual nursery, growing lime takes around a year before I get a decent 20 inches or so.

My basil (almost two feet tall) smells great.

The lemon balm would be great for days when we have headaches or congestion. Add slices of crushed ginger with bruised lemon balm, pour hot water and sip. A natural way to get rid of the headache and congestion.

Lavender is apparently edible. I can't think of any recipes offhand other than lavender cookies. But the smell of lavender is fabulous. I'm hoping that the little bush I have will multiply now that I have shifted it to a bigger pot.

Say hi to chilli! You have seen it grow it from tiny green shoots to the 15 inches tall kiddo it is today. Very soon, it shall get married and bear me chilli fruits. ;)

Then there are the thyme, oregano, italian parsley, celery parsley, rosemary which are doing well. Having fresh herbs on hand is great. We have harvested a number of times and used them for our pasta, stews and roast meat.

Plus we have been doing sensorial activities in school (mainly cinnamon, coffee beans, lemon and cocoa beans). Dear Daughter gets excited during this activity. She would sniff, try to say the name and extends this outside the classroom. For instance, when we say smell the basil, she would lean closer, sniff it and gets excited with the lovely scent she detects. The other day, we were having a meal and when the food came, I commented that 'the food smells great'. DD leant over the dish for a deep breath and went 'hmnnnnn' in an appreciative manner. Cracked us up.

In any case, if you are interested in Jolene's services, check her out at her website or give her a ring at 0123211127. I think she does landscaping too and one of her recent projects was creating an edible garden. Sounds like a dream for me. :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Parenting with heart

One thing I love about working in a school environment is meeting other parents. It's great to be able to share stories, tips, to get to know them and their children better.

Before I became a mother, I have very defined ideas of what kind of mother I would be. I have expectations of what I would react to certain situations or what an 'ideal' parent should be. But all that went out the window when DD was born. Understanding why DD do certain thing determines my reaction to it. I also realise there is no one ideal way of parenting. Every family has its own circumstances which shapes the way they manage the family. Everyone tries their best, and it is presumptuous for an outsider to judge.

Now I appreciate the support that parents lend each other, the stories and advice we trade far more.

A parent wisely told me that whilst it's great that the program seeks to provide mental and physical stimulation for a child, she enrolled because she sees it as an wholesome way to spend quality time with her child and for the child to learn at the same time.

I also met a very lovely mom who is a speech therapist. She was just telling us how it's always harder to practice what you preach. In her work, she always recommend that parents spend more time communicating with their child but when sometimes she forgets with her own child.

Recently, Dear Daughter had been acting up. I said no to something, explained why and she had a non-proportionate reaction and laid on the floor kicking. This was the first time she had such a meltdown. This happened again shortly after.

To be honest, I was caught off guard because DD is usually a happy adjusted toddler. Our principal commented that she could have picked up this from another kid in the existing daycare she goes to. Or that there is a deeper underlying reason why she is behaving this way.

It got me thinking. She could be missing her grandparents who just left town on Monday. It could be that her current daycare is having some staff turnover. It could be that both Dear Hubby and I have been busier in recent months (but why react now?). It could be that I'm weaning her from breastfeeding these past weeks.

I felt guilty (ah, that mother guilt that always spring on so quickly) immediately. DD has gone through so many big changes in her life in her 17 months - from relocating, house moving etc. DH and I have always tried to give her undivided attention when we are with her, but March had been crazy busy for both of us. A good wake-up call it was for me. No matter how busy we are, DD still needs quality attention. This is something we should not shortchange her.

In the last few days, DH and I switched off from work when we are with her. We spent a couple of hours with her every evening before her bedtime, enjoying dinner as a family, role-playing, cooking dinner together, light exercises (she loves her kids yoga), reading, gardening and playing with the fishes (btw mother fish just gave birth again!). Oh and remembering to squat down to talk to DD at her eye level. The effect is immediate. DD is back to her smiley-giggly self, saying her please and thanks, showering us (and strangers) with affection.

It heartens me to see DD happy. Ok DD waking up, time to have breakfast at our fave joint. Followed by a day of swimming, baking, cooking and chatting with grandparents. :) 

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
~Diane Loomans

P.S. If you have a child, do give your child an extra tight hug after reading this.