Independence

Because we are home schooled,  the kids are super curious and love meeting new people. They are also fairly independent and happy to go off without me.  Before Cian was even 3, he decided to go with my uncle to his wife’s family in Bentong for an over night trip.

Now he’s almost 8 and his older siblings were desperate to be included in the fun; this year they were allowed to go to.  Here are some photos.

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Gotta love extended family!

Teach Your Monster to Read

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When I stumbled across the link in a google search, I laughed to myself for a minute before clicking. And I was pleasantly surprised. It’s British for a start and the kids instantly said they love the way the narrator speaks. Bern is disappointed that he is too advanced and Kiki says she’ll try it even though it may be too easy.

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Cian’s been on it for 45 minutes and cannot wait to have another go tomorrow. So if your child needs help learning to read, go check out Teach Your Monster to Read. Best of all, it is free for computers! I can’t wait to see how they kids take to this.

Complementary Health

On Friday afternoon, I moved three 100+kg pots of bamboo plus about a dozen smaller plants. All good. But on Saturday morning, I picked up my sewing machine from the bottom shelf and one of its rubber feet snagged on the shelf which caused a little click in my back. When I tried to stand after that, it was awkward. By Saturday night, I had to crawl up the stairs and when I did attempt to walk, I had the unmistakeable posture and gait of a Zombie.

My sister, who is a vet (because humans are animals too!), said I had most likely slipped a disc and I’d need an MRI. I did try and the husband drove me to Prince court at 10pm. The somewhat vacant Dr Ding offered painkillers and an MRI on….. drumroll…. Wednesday! There was no way I was going to amble around like a primate for so long, so I said thank you but no thank you and went to Gleneagles, which was so busy I decided to go home to bed instead.

Throughout the whole of Saturday I id my best to stretch my back (using the yoga poses I had learned form Shilpa Gatalia of Yogshakti in 2013) so that I could undo the click. That night in bed, I felt it. The relief was instant and I was able to stand and walk on Sunday albeit uncomfortably. I also looked like I was attempting some serious Kegels or carrying tins of Milo between my thighs, not even remotely glamourous.

By some stroke of luck, mum had booked an appointment with Alexis at One Osteo for today so I went instead. I’ve been many times before and I swear by it. After 40 minutes of being manipulated, I was dizzy and sore but the ‘rightness’ in my spine was indescribable.

While I have always been flexible and strong, even more so after my 21 day yoga course with Shilpa, I have always felt that my lower half of my spine lacked movement. Not anymore. I am a new person literally; I can physically feel it.

Bern has also benefited tremendously from osteopathy (his stomach muscles did not close until he was 10 and had his first osteopathic treatment with Florian Prucca who has since returned to France) and here’s my advice to HS families out there; if you are brave enough to strike out on your own in education, extend your courage to complementary health. Our health and well being as a family has improved from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Homoepathy,Yoga and Osteopathy.

Don’t get me wrong, allopathic medicine is not evil or useless. I just think there are many things that can and should be dealt with more successfully with complementary methods.

Here’s a link to the people we rely on in case you’re interested

Osteopathy Alexis and Pierre of One Osteo

TCM, Acupuncture and Acupressure Yen

Yoga Shilpa of Yogshakti

Homeopathy Nicole Cunningham of Puraforce

How lucky

I have been reading about Maya Angelou and thinking about all the children caught in the various wars happening around the world at the moment. I’ve been worrying about the thousands homeless after the floods and those whose lives were lost while on a plane.

And I found this on Brain Pickings; so so dark.

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And I remember how lucky and sheltered my children are. And I hope they do not take it for granted. Sometimes I need to step back and remember that while I spend hours agonising about getting their education just right, they are kids out there in plain agony; plagued by fear, hunger and hopelessness.

While we invest in the latest Lego for our kids, lets never forget that there are some with none and that it is also our duty to try to remember them and help them.

Ordinary

Someone mentioned that we must be very brave and clever to home school the kids. The kids are special because we are a mixed culture family. I disagree; we’re very average and very normal. Sometimes, I’d say we’re lazy and not very bright. Take for instance this morning when I lifted the sewing machine from the bottom of the shelf without really bracing myself, resulting in some mysterious damage that left me unable to walk and stand until I spent 2 hours stretching.

You could call my fear of driving in rush hour traffic cowardly. The very notion of queuing and double parking everyday for the next decade fills me with dread. Not to mention boredom and I have a particularly low tolerance for boredom.

Are the kids special? Well, as their mum, I’m duty bound to say yes. I guess they are a fairly jolly bunch though I’m sure every other mother has a similarly inflated attitude of her own offspring. But if I am to be completely circumspect, they are very average really. Bern flips out if he has too many instructions, Keeks can be a nag and Cian is creative in his ability to interpret instructions.

What I’m trying to say is that anyone, who wants to, can homeschool their kids. It really is a matter of choosing your battles; your kids or the traffic? The extra work in being responsible for their education or the extra worry is wondering what ridiculous notion they’ll pick up from school friends/teachers/etc?

I choose my children. I choose responsibility.

I choose to share with them gardening, cooking, making do, stories in the afternoon and playing in the rain. I choose lazy afternoons eating biscuits and I choose to answer 267 questions a day.

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Sex Education

Where do babies come from? I think when our children first utter these words, we instantly regret all our attempts at getting them to talk more clearly, sooner. What were we thinking? By encouraging speech, we invited upon ourselves midget interrogators who prefer to pose the most intricate questions while we are queuing in the supermarket waiting to pay for groceries.

I recently came across an article about a 22 year old Colombian woman who had inserted a potato into her vagina because her mother had told her it was a form of contraception. I gather lots of people are still uncomfortable discussing sex with their children.

As a mother of both boys and a girl, I cannot; without sowing mistrust and disrespect among the siblings, turn to the age old exhortations telling girls to guard their virtue while turning a blind eye to whatever boys might get up to as long as no one gets pregnant.

Frankly, the fact that there is still so much misinformation, awkwardness and bias in a topic as intrinsic as sex, boggles the mind. The moment we accept it for what it is and begin to teach our children about it honestly, I think we take the first steps to gender equality, freedom and wisdom.

When I was in secondary school, my chemistry teacher had the girls sit behind the boys because we were allegedly nine parts desire and if the boys were behind us, they’d be driven mad with lust. I’ve heard men call women cheap (and a lot worse) because they move in with their boyfriends though I have yet to hear those men excoriated. Single mums are given a wide berth yet birth control is taboo and inaccessible.

Examining the source of our embarrassment, distaste and censure is important. Religion and culture have a lot to answer for but our blind acceptance too. I call upon fellow parents to don the mantle of introspection and honesty for an hour and consider these questions; what do you truly want for children? Is there only one sure, path to arriving at this goal? Will straying do irreparable harm?

I want my children to be happy, alone or with a partner. I do not specify spouse because I believe marriage is optional. I know there are many paths to this happiness. And making detours, stops or U turns on the way is part of a meaningful life.

Though I had a boyfriend in secondary school, we broke up when I went away to University. I meet my (now) husband the day after I arrived and we married weeks after we graduated. We were 21. We had our first child at 24. In November, we will have been together for 17 years. It’s pretty fairy tale on the surface.

Look deeper and you will learn that I struggled to get reliable birth control (in Malaysia), I had premarital sex and I lived with my then boyfriend for years before we were married. Though I love my husband, I only agreed to marriage because we are of different nationalities and staying together in any country would be tough. I certainly did not stick to the straight and narrow.

The kids are now 7, 10 and 11. We are honest with them about sex. They know what a penis, testicles and sperm are; also uterus, period, vagina and womb. They understand how babies are made and they know that they are ways to prevent babies from being conceived. They have asked about abortion and rape. If they ask, I will tell them that sex can pleasurable.

The older two are on the cusp of puberty. The eldest is very nonchalant, as his journey seems very gradual and subtle. The same cannot be said for my daughter for she and her friends are bursting into pimples and their bodies are changing on a daily basis. Nevertheless, they are mentally and emotionally still children, make no mistake; her latest request was for Anna and Elsa dolls but the transition has begun.

To be honest, the youngest misses a lot of the technical bits. His major interest is persuading me that he really, truly needs at least 2 younger siblings, as being the youngest is not his cup of tea. But he understands that I have periods, and that I bleed. He gets the hot water bottle out and tells his dad to fill it up.

I’m convinced that we need to become more circumspect and see sex for what it is. Only then can we raise a generation of individuals who understand sex; not just the physical aspects but also everything else in between from being responsible, realistic, respectful and reasonable. By doing so, we may initiate progress for gender equality, which has far reaching implications for a myriad of issues from the spread of sexually transmitted disease, to population control and reduction of unwanted babies.

This is not a job for school or teachers. It’s your job as a parent, so stop blushing, stuttering and stammering. You owe it to your kids.