Category Archives: Healthy living

Sticks, stones and free play outdoors

Playing outdoors is an essential part of our homeschool.

One hour at the park, every morning, after the breakfast dishes and lunch prep are done, is a great start to the day.

Fresh air, warm sunshine, wide open spaces, lush greenery, a myriad of wild living things and ample opportunities to play  – these are what we look forward to.

But that would be an understatement.

We go out because we yearn for it, are desperate for it, and feel, instinctively, that we need it.

Staying indoors, mostly all day, every day, in a building – whether at home or in a classroom environment – is simply destructive to the mind, body and spirit.

It drives kids nuts. It breeds an illness called Stay-Home-Mama-Madness.

And this is also one of the main reasons we homeschool – so we can incorporate lots of outdoor play into our day. The flexibility of homeschooling means we can extend outdoor play beyond the hour, if we need it, and if the tropical sun isn’t beating down on us too severely. We have spent whole mornings outdoors, on cool days, with never a dull moment.

We have such strong, primal feelings toward outdoor play, I thought I’d deconstruct what we did over the past two days.

Yesterday, my 30-week pregnant body was too tired to agree to a game of hide-and-seek with 5 year old Lamb and 2 year old Piglet at the park, so I sent them on a pebble-hunting expedition.

I sat on a bench and just watched.

And loved what I saw.

 

1. Sensory stimulation.

Hmm. Why can’t I pick these ones?

Picking pebbles (30Sept13)

 

I can feel them with my feet.

Walking on pebbles (30Sept13)

 

2. Imagination.

What could I do with these?

Stone construction 1 (30Sept13)

 

3. Creativity.

I could build something.

Stone construction 2 (30Sept13)

 

Anything.

Stick construction 1 (30Sept13)

 

4. Attention-building.

Keep it there, keep it up!

Stick construction 2 (30Sept13)

 

5. Social development.

What can we do together?

 

6. Motor skill development.

We could run a race.

Running races (30Sept13)

 

Skip race.

Skipping races (30Sept13)

 

Hop race.

Hopping races (30Sept13)

 

Crawl race.

Crawling races (30Sept13)

Every single one of these, their ideas.

 

7. Physical diversity and development.

Climb.

Climb (30Sept13)

 

Leap.

Midair leap (30Sept13)

 

Balance.

Balance (30Sept13)

 

How many different poses can I strike in mid-air?

Leap (30Sept13)

 

All of that was just yesterday. And today?

8. Environmental awareness and identity.

Look, Mama! A bird’s feather!!! Just as we entered the park.

Whatszis feather (30Sept13)

All sorts of questions. Would it feel soft or hard? Which bird?

I plonked myself down in a swing and let them go.

 

9. The shaping of morals and values.

Can we chase birds?

Bird chasing (30Sept13)

 

10. Good ‘ole plain fun.

Races again – rolling toy cars down the tunnel. Over and over again.

Car tunnel rolling (30Sept13)

 

And enjoying going barefoot. Peace!

Two thumbs up (30Sept13)

 

We often play different organised sports and games during our one-hour morning at the park. But over the past two days, they got these 10 things.

All this, with only a teeny bit of me.

It was mostly just themselves, their imagination, and the great outdoors.

Have I also said how wonderful it is for two young siblings to be able to homeschool together? It is so much easier, enjoyable, creative and productive, compared to keeping them separate. But that’s for another post.

Get out there, my little friends. Wonders await you.

I’m so happy to have a post published recently at Makchic where I share my breastfeeding story and 7 essential breastfeeding tips for new moms. Please come have a read. Thank you!

Life in 2 months

Do you sometimes get the feeling that life is overtaking you?

The last couple of months, I did.

During my recent pregnancy check up at 25 weeks, I found I’d gained 4 kgs in 4 weeks. Four kilos! I’ve been pregnant 3 times before, but I’ve never gained at a rate as quickly as this.

Not that I worry about getting fat (the least of my concerns), but that explains why I’ve been feeling so heavy of late.

And why every time I perform a task, I feel like an elephant is sitting on top of me.

Every effort at the sink to wash dishes and every bend at the countertop to fix snacks and prepare meals has been giving me a backache. I try keeping good posture most of the time but when I’m doing kitchen work as often as I do, I suppose some strain becomes inevitable.

It feels that much more exhausting, trying to get to the park every morning, loading the stroller and lifting two-and-a-half year old Piglet into his car seat.

Then there are those familiar, excruciating leg cramps that wake me up at night and keep me awake for quite awhile after.

Interrupted sleep, trying to turn my torpedo-shaped belly over, trying to get back to sleep again.

Then, waking to another full day of homeschooling and homemaking.

This was considered an artistic venture by our little people. Makes me go "Oooo!" and "Aaargh!" at the same time

This was considered an artistic venture by our little people. Makes me go “Oooo!” and “Aaargh!” at the same time

And going through it over, and over, and over again.

So I said “no” to blogging and social media until I felt my engine had recovered enough.

Saying “no” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because sometimes even the good things can bog us down. The good can become the enemy of the best.

Doing my duty to our family and being cheerful about it hasn’t always – and still isn’t – the easiest thing.

On many days I feel like turning into a green monster at some point. Like when there is a pee-pee mess in the toilet I just cleaned, or when someone is “trying to poo” on someone else when I’m spending just a few minutes trying to clear my inbox. For crying out loud!

After a strenuous July, August began with a lot of griping on my part. Then it proceeded to the realisation that I could either make the worst of the next few months or turn them into the best times to remember.

Most importantly, I woke up again to the fact that complaining is a grevious injury to a God who is always good. Always.

God has blessed me with all those little things in life that go mostly unnoticed under the radar of today’s fast-paced, instant-food, career-centered, technology-centered existence.

The delight of many beautiful mornings, dry and wet, outdoors with little ones. Hunting for snails. Doing primate exercises. Soaking up wondrous Vitamin D and fresh air. Playing frisbee and play pretend ship.

Lamb's regular pull-up challenge

Lamb’s regular pull-up challenge

Learning how to make kefir and watching everyone get a good kick out of germs. If you haven’t heard of kefir and its amazing health benefits, check out this link.

Kefir before it is strained. Chilled kefir is a wonderfully refreshing nightcap before bedtime

Kefir before it is strained. Chilled kefir is a wonderfully refreshing nightcap before bedtime. Puppy says it tastes like “beer”. Piglet loves lifting his kefir glass and shouting “Tips!!!” (a.k.a. “Cheers!”)

Finding satisfaction in more things homemade like yogurt cheese, wholewheat thins, cheese biscuits, banana tea loaves, and learning how to make my bread nice and fluffy.

Wholewheat thins topped with yogurt cheese. These can be addictive!

Wholewheat thins topped with yogurt cheese. These can be addictive!

Ice lollies (20Aug13)

Yogurt ice lollies with cranberries and chocolate bits

Stepping out of ourselves to share joy with others – facilitating a 7-week Marriage Course, supporting Sweet Man in planning a Family Camp for a great bunch of people, and connecting with parents at a Focus on the Family parenting talk 2 weeks ago.

Parenting? I was a whole bunch of nerves because Sweet Man and I feel so raw and green to be presenting on such a subject, but apparently it went well. There was even a reader of this blog in the audience. Yikes! Who knew? Our topic was “Love Them, and Let Them Know”.

Making origami with the kids on wet evenings.

These brought back fond memories of one of our favourite Sonlight read alouds, Mr Popper’s Penguins

These brought back fond memories of one of our favourite Sonlight read alouds, Mr Popper’s Penguins

There have been other good things.

Returning to a fresh dependency on God who makes all things possible. When the Hulk begins emerging from the depths within, there is nothing more needed than a miracle via a lightning bolt prayer.

Watching Piglet’s growing independence, self esteem and joy in accomplishing tasks.

Piglet brushes his own teeth in the mornings, takes his dirty dishes to the sink, unloads the dryer, buckles himself up in the car seat and insists he is ready for Jolly Phonics

Piglet brushes his own teeth in the mornings, takes his dirty dishes to the sink, unloads the dryer, buckles himself up in the car seat and insists he is ready for Jolly Phonics

Feeling a reemergence of pregnancy nausea because of fatigue but being inspired by child-drawn love notes on a difficult morning when I want to stay another 2 hours in bed.

Reorganising homeschool supplies, putting our upstairs in order again after our house tenant finished her term, and tweaking our home schedule to make it work better for everyone.

Our new homeschool Focus Board. I’ll share it soon in an upcoming post

Our new homeschool Focus Board. I’ll share it soon in an upcoming post

Life’s been tiring. But oh so good.

Note to self: Remember that. Everyday.

 

What are some things that have kept you going?

Homemade yogurt cheese

Homemade yogurt cheese is so easy to make. As with all things homemade, it’s also extremely satisfying knowing that our little punks can eat a yummy spread, free of emulsifiers, thickeners or conditioning agents.

You won’t sweat a bit with this one, I promise. Minimal effort, minimal cost!

I made this yogurt cheese following this idiot-proof recipe.

(I’m a dunce in the kitchen, that’s why. Working on it!)

Basically, I used my own homemade natural yogurt that had firmed up nicely, after sitting in the fridge for 48 hours. I found that using unchilled yogurt directly out of the yogurt maker doesn’t work as it’s too runny.

Pour 700ml natural yogurt into a cheese cloth, folded 12 times. (I started with the cloth folded 8 times, but found 12 times to be more effective in keeping the curds in.)

Tie up the corners with a rubber band. Attach a hook and hang in the fridge for 24 hours over a glass or ceramic bowl (to strain out the whey).

Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.

Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.

Voila! Yogurt cheese.

The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result

The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result

Add salt to taste and mix thoroughly.

Serve on a homemade cheddar biscuit and top with Italian seasoning. Or paprika, if you feel naughty.

A perfect snack for my ravenous brood

A perfect snack for my ravenous brood

 

Enjoy, my friends.

And kiss goodbye to store-bought cream cheese!

(Total cost using 700ml homemade yogurt: RM2.00. Yields 220g yogurt cheese.)