Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Last Stretch

Yes, packing has taken its toll but alhamdulillah I have plastered the last reminders on my front door. It says, "YOGHURT, CHEESE, ICE PACK, and POTTY." The last items I have to stuff into the car. ie, the last things in the house that I have to stuff into the car. Of course, alongside are the water bottles the monsters will still be using tomorrow morning.

So the last stretch is finally here. The monsters are asleep, hopefully dreaming of Singapore Zoo after two days of not having my undivided attention. I did still PAY attention, I just had to divide it amongst the seventy-two luggage bags I stuffed into, onto and around the car.

Intermittantly, we did do some school, although Yusuff did not feel like being attentive. Even Scrambled Eggs Super didn't do the trick. He didn't like the birds, he said.

But Tasneem, alhamdulillah is always helpful when it comes to doing something different. We ran out of our colour cartridge, so clever little Tasneem had to colour in the MRT / LRT lines on this poorly printed map. Yusuff coloured his in too - but only wanted to colour the "shapes" the MRT lines made. That was kind of funky - me thinks he is going to be an extreme non-comformist when he grows up. And that picture is not upside-down, it's just how he happens to like to do his work.

I had my own map of course since I had to actually colour code in a way I would understand it and pin point our destinations for the next week.

And to give them a time-out, I brought the elder two out for dhaal morning. Considering the fact that I have been running up and down with clothes, diapers, swimsuits, baby food and everything in between, they have been very well-behaved alhamdulillah. If you're wondering, DH was away for the whole two days on work. Yeah, how convenient. Alhamdulillah my mum's maid stayed for the day, so the baby who does not sleep during the day nor the night, was pawned off to her for a morning nap.

We talked about Singapore some more and all the cool things we were going to do inshaallah. I do hope it all goes well and I hope whatever they are dreaming of now, will come true. Ameen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Places I Want them to Go!

This is not in lieu of the impending Singapore trip. Though, it may be. Tasneem and I try to read one Dr Seuss book each day, and ever since she picked up "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" she has been asking to read it everyday.

I realise that as a Seuss Buff, I don't remember this book. Reading it again though, brought back many important lessons. Lessons I forgot on my journey until today. I'm thankful that I am reading Dr Seuss again and will remember to remind my children of the places they will go.

"Congratulations! Today is your day.

You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You're on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."

Isn't that pure simplicity at its coolest? I find there is so much more to teach the monsters about how to be intelligent and brave at the same time. How important it is not to dawdle around problems or difficult situations. I want them to know if they can do something - they must decide to and see it all the way through.

I'm not violating every covenants here. Dr Seuss talks about failure and how to rebound.

So we got all Allah-centric, and I reminded Tasneem and myself that we have to make du'a everyday for all our plans to be answered. And if the answer is "NO," we still have to see ourselves through that situation and ask for guidance to overcome our adversities.

"It's a nice story, Mama."

Yusuff sat through one reading and for the first time kept still until we finished the book mashaallah.

"You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.

About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,

You're too smart to go down any not-so-good street."

Ameen, for my children. It is always a worry that they will wander off into dark alleys and I think every parent worries about that. I have to remind myself to have another talk with them over that paragraph. It's quite hard to actually analyse literature with three inquisitive children. Reading one para takes twenty seconds, answering their endless questions, an additional 20 minutes. Twenty minutes worth of questions per paragraph. Beat that!

So I remind myself now that when I read this book again, I will remind the four of us (Idriss has joined the fray): How to always choose right from wrong and how to say no, especially when the right answer is no.

We didn't like the waiting place, so we talked about that too. Tasneem wanted to know why people were just sitting around doing nothing. That's alien talk to her. She and her brothers, including the baby who does not sleep during the day nor the night, are always doing something. There is a never a dull moment in this home of pure havoc.

And that is a du'a I will always make for them too.

For them never to be idle; for them never to lose hope in their dreams; for them never to believe they don't have anything to do. Inshaallah my little ruffians will never wander into the waiting place. Because there are so many places I want them to go and the last place would be Jannatul-Firdaus. Ameen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homeschool's Holiday Packing List

We are trying to travel light this holiday, as if there is no lighter oxymoron than that. But besides the necessities, we have decided that a few books, their new art kits and their handy-dandy journals will suffice as far as homeschooling is concern. What do you think of our kits? Little Monster Heaven? Well, we hope the handy-dandy journals will keep the colours of the walls.

So this is what our vacationing homeschool will look like:
1. An Art Kit each.
2. A handy-dandy journal each.
3. Three books each.
4. Whatever that can fit into their tiny backpacks. That's an hour's worth of packing, prioritising, unpacking and repacking.
5. Some toys for the baby who does not sleep during the day nor the night.
6. Swimming suits.
7. A float each.
8. A pair of sandals each.

Pretty light for the likes of us. Hopefully this will be enough for the homeschooling besides all those trips around the island. More planning to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homeschool Heading for a Holiday

This will be our first official holiday as a family of a homeschooling-five. Inshaallah things will go well. We're visiting Singapore, by the way - just so I can say I brought the children on an international holiday. Heh heh. Kidding.
We chose Singapore because it fit our budget, is not too far from home (ie, my dad can collect us if we ran into any trouble), and there are plenty of sights for the homeschoolers. Besides, it's clean, as compared to the places here, unless they are heavily privatised, which equals more money.
Our places of interest include the Singapore Zoo, The Jurong Bird Park, The Underwater World, The Butterfly and Insect Park - see where this is going? Before children I doubt I would have been this bothered about animals and nature. It takes the innocence of children to appreciate both, so I look forward to what the children have to say about the visits. They are ecstatic about this trip and we have been browsing through the Visit Singapore website for ideas. This is my second time there by the way, and the first must have been 20 years back - and boy was that a boring Chinese New Year - visiting old aunties in old high rise buildings. It sounds mean but at that time... I would have like to go to the zoo.
Besides the animals, we have also thrown in the Science Museum and Toy Museum as part of our agenda.
Inshaallah I'll be blogging / reviewing the trip so perhaps other families with children who have never been to Singapore can read up on free, honest testimonies. And for homeschoolers, I'll probably be sharing ideas for unit studies later. I hope this works out for our family. Ameen.
Until then, I have set up the spending budget; I have to fix a schedule so that we don't end up at locked gates of the wrong location on the wrong day or time. I also have to make a list of things to pack - which is the hardest bit. Somehow, on the morning that we leave, I would have forgotten something important - like a toothbrush or the potty.
Well, until we leave - have to get cracking with that extra planning.


Elmo has been my co-parent eversince I began WAHM-ing. He's adorable, intelligent and I believe is where my children get their very high pitches without volume control. He is also why I call them monsters. Get it? Elmo Monster?

Yesterday, one monster said "We want to draw Elmo." And the other monster said, "WE WANT TO DRAW ELMO."

Here is Yusuff's Elmo. I was so tickled I had to restrain myself from overly praising him. He dislikes praise and has often stormed off or ripped up his work when we make a big deal out of his accomplishments. Strange little boy, but that is who he is.

I loved his Elmo so much I quickly took a picture and asked him where Elmo's arms were. He said: "ELMO ONLY LOVES TO WEAR PANTS!" and walked off. I took the opportunity to stash away his drawing into his green file. Phew, he did not notice. This is the first drawing by Yusuff (now 2 years, 9 months) that does not look like a peacock going ballistic in a blender. Check out the fine motor skills. Mashaallah, clever, concise and thoughtful little boy. I love it to bits.

Then Tasneem showed me her Elmo. Or should I say, the whole Elmo-tribe. She's such a social animal and loves people. It shows in her drawing. Or should I say drawings. There was one more part to the Elmo-tribe and a few other drawings to boot.

Two different children. Two different personalities. Both unique and grossly appreciated by their Mama. I love homeschooling.

I Love Allah (and so does Tasneem!)

I was working on an iBook called "I Love Allah" when Tasneem poked her nose into the gap between my typing thumbs. Don't ask me how she does it, but she always does. After explaining to her, my latest project, she said she wanted to write an "I Love Allah" book too.

So with her very LOUD dictation, I obediently typed:

I love Allah
Because He gave me my eyes
So that I can read and write
He also gave me hands and legs
That I use to play, run and jump
He gave me an idea
To draw and paint my picture
He gave me oxygen
So I can breathe and pray
He gave me taste and smell
So that I can eat and smell flowers

by Tasneem Amelie Nizam

Awww, mashaallah. My little girl has talent. And then she read it back to me. Writing IS reading!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Islamic Homeschool Advisory Network

Islamic Homeschool Advisory Network (IHSAN) is a network you can join if you are homeschooling, considering homeschooling, or like the idea but are not homeschooling. Joining IHSAN will allow you to build networks with other home educating parents, and this way, educating your own child will become a shared responsibility of those who want to bring their children up as God-fearing, successful Muslims. Ameen.