Life's like that!

March 30, 2009

Spring is Here!

March 22 was the first day of spring. Finally flowers are blooming and birds are singing.

White mini rose.

Pretty pink flowers.

Our apartment complex has lots of beautiful plants. I'm so glad that I don't have to go to the botanical gardens to see beautiful flowers in bloom!


Elmo Fish

Daughter has been bugging husband to get a fish like the one she sees in Elmo's World from Sesame Street.

Last Saturday they got a red betta fish at a local pet store.

4 years ago when I worked at Texas Tech University Libraries, I had a colleage whose periwinkle betta fish lived for almost 2 years. His secret was to feed the fish every three days with three or four pellets. He also used only filter water for the fish tank. I am so glad that I remember this tip from him.

Daughter has been asking to hold the fish, and I have to keep telling her that it has to stay in the fish tank. To ensure the survival of the fish, I have to make sure daughter doesn't climb in a chair to reach for the fish tank.
Well, there goes my restful afternoon nap time....


Homemade Compost Tea

Last week I watched a video on YouTube on how to make your own compost tea from scraps of veggies and used ground coffee beans.

Here is a week of scrap veggies that I've gathered: radish, carrot, potato and kale. It is not recommended to use fruit peels as it may attract animals and pests.

Add about a cup of hot water in the blender. Add all ingredients into it and puree.

Strain the puree and save the compost tea in a container. When cool, simply pour the tea into planters and flower pots!

The residue can be baked at 400 degree F for 15-20 minutes (to kill any harmful bacteria and fungus) and you can use it as a compost.

I don't think I'll do that because the smell can be quite compulsive to those with sensitive nose (like my husband). I guess I'll just toss the residue into my compost container.

Compost Tea (Organic Fertilizer)


March 27, 2009

Growing Bean Sprouts at Home

I never know that it's so easy to grow bean sprouts at home! After soaking beans overnight and seven days of rinsing them once a day, we can have fresh and yummy bean sprouts for pennies!

I started sprouting three types of beans yesterday after soaking them overnight: mung beans/green beans, chick peas and lentils. This morning they are sprouting healthy and strong roots!

Allah SWT willing I will update this experiment next week.

How to Grow Bean Sprouts Videos:

Wild Health Food

Pioneer Living


Happy Seedlings = Happy Me

On Wednesday afternoon it rained quite heavily and I rushed out to rescue my seedlings. Although I changed my wet clothes after moving them inside, I still caught a cold and has been sick until now.

Was it worth it to save them from the cold rain? You bet! Seeing the happy seedlings warm and cozy is worth every sneeze.


Quilt Blanket for Daughter

Last Saturday we were at the River Legacy Park the whole afternoon. I guess my allergies started with all the strong wind blowing flower pollen and grass all over the park. Sneezing plus itchy and dry eyes really irritated me and since then I have not stepped outside because of my allergies. Here's the pollen count reported on a local news web site.

Pollen Count from
Fungus: 1721 Moderate
Maple: 682 High
Oak: 93 High
Grass: 54 High
Pine: 38 Mod
Ash: 31 Mod
Mulberry: 16 Mod
Total: 2635

Updated:March 26, 2009

To make good use of my 'indoor' time, I took about 10 hours to hand sew this quilt blanket for daughter on Wednesday. As I have loaned my sewing machine to a friend but this did not deter me from hand quilting a blanket. Instead, I quite enjoy the slow process of seeing this quilt blanket being completed.

Here are the three main 5x5 square inches patterns for the quilt: Dark brown, cream floral and retro tree designs.

My design for this quilt blanket consisted of 5 rows across and 9 column horizontally.

I sewed five rows of squares together first.

Then I sewed the 9 columns together.

I found the pink floral fabric in my stash and cut out 5 inches across and the whole length of the 9 squares. For the border I used the cream floral fabric while a brick pattern fabric was used as the backing.
While I was sewing, daughter kept asking me what I was doing. I told her that I was sewing a blanket for her, and she kept saying 'Really? For me? Thank you, Ma Ma!' When she saw the finished product on Thursday morning, she was really happy that I made something for her. Since then she has been grabbing this blanket whenever she sleeps. All my love for her in every stitch.

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Indian Chutney and Fish Curry

Last Monday I went to Sr. Norsofina's place to sew a sofa cushion with her. After measuring and sewing for 3 hours, the sofa cushion fitted like a glove! All praise be to Allah SWT, we enjoyed sewing together and Allah SWT willing I will be sewing a quilt with her next week.

I was feeling giddy with happiness when she told me that she is preparing Indian chutney and fish curry to eat with a type of steamed Indian pancake. Like the dosai that she prepared last time I visited, this dish tasted sooooo good! She was so kind to pack some for me to bring home.

Although I didn't really want to trouble her to prepare Indian food for me when I visit, I'm really glad that she did because I'm really hooked on it now!


BBQ Salmon and Salad

For four years I have been asking husband to get a portable grill so that we can have a BBQ at the park.

All praise be to Allah SWT last Saturday husband and I brought daughter to the River Legacy Park. Husband grilled salmon fillets in banana leaves on a portable grill and the fish tasted so good! We ate the fish with fresh salad from Whole Foods Market and enjoyed delicious root beer :)

Although it was really windy (20-30 miles per hour) we stayed at the park from 12 noon to 5pm. Daughter had a great time at the park and didn't want to go home.

Now that husband has a taste of being the Grill Master, he is hooked on going to the park for more BBQ!


March 20, 2009

Video: Sprouting Seeds Time Lapse

I found some really fascinating seed sprouting videos on YouTube that help me to better understand how my vegetables are growing.

Basil and Garlic







I'll have to see if singing to them helps them grow faster :)


Starting a Sewing Revolution

On Wednesday I visited Sr. Eram and her family. It was a coincident that her daughter, Noor who is in 6th grade, likes to sew and I happened to have a bag of felt material, embroidery threads and scissors with me. I have always been looking for opporunities to get kids and teenagers to sew, so I was glad that she wanted to sew. Since she had prior sewing experience, she took only about half an hour to sew a small gift bag. I was really impressed by her sewing skills.

Sr. Eram also showed me her current embroidery projects, and a beautiful handmade sunflower wrap crocheted by her mother.

Before I left, I challenged Sr. Eram's son, Muneeb who is in 8th grade, to sew a small gift bag. I think that boys and girls should be taught life skills such as sewing and cooking. They'll gain more self-confidence and will be able to take better care of themselves when they eventually leave home.

Allah SWT willing I'll get to sew more often with Noor during the summer holiday.


Replanting Cucumber Seeds

Since all the cucumber seedlings died from the cold rain last week, I replanted seeds in this rice cooker steamer last weekend. All praise be to Allah SWT the seedlings have emerged.

Yesterday I transplanted them into bigger pots so that the roots have more space to grow.

Allah SWT willing I hope that we will have good cucumber harvest in 2 months' time!


Indian Dosai and Curry

On Wednesday I brought daughter to visit Sr. Norsofina. All praise be to Allah SWT she prepared Indian Dosai, a type of pancake, and vegetable curry for us and the food tasted sooooo good!

I have been dreaming of eating dosai since I left Singapore six years ago. Ever since a Malay colleague, Noor Hanifah, introduced me to the delicious Indian dosai shop nearby KK Hospital in 1997, I've been hooked on it.

A few months ago I brought a pre-packed dosai flour and tried to make it. However it was quite salty and didn't taste as good as I wish it to be.
I didn't know that in order for the dosai to be puffy and soft, the batter needs to be left overnight in a warm place to ferment. She was so kind to pack some for my husband and I had to suppress the urge to finish them before husband came home.
Thanks to Sr. Norsofina, my dream finally came true!


March 15, 2009

Sunny Days are Here Again

The rain finally stopped last night. The poor cucumber, hot pepper and tomato seedlings did not survive the cold rain over the last few days. So far only the basil, sunflower, garden beans, peas, lemon tree, kaffir lime tree, and miniature orange tree are doing alright. I am so glad that I brought my hot pepper and tomato seedlings indoor before the rain started.

Garden beans growing fast and furiously.

This morning after brunch, husband and I brought daughter to Lowes to get some seeds. We bought tomato, parsley, lettuce and cilantro seeds together with a bag of soil and redwood mulch. I am germinating the seeds in peat pots and they are now growing, covered in plastic bags, on top of the fridge where its warm and cozy.

Seed packets from Lowes
We should have sunny days and temperature in the 70s degree F during this coming week, according to meteorologists.

I hope that by next week we'll have new seedlings to plant outdoor, Allah SWT willing.


March 13, 2009

'I so sorry...'

Lately daughter has been saying 'I so sorry.' whenever she did something that she knew she shouldn't have done a.k.a. making a mess in the living room by scattering her toys all over the place.

I would then tell her that is she is truly sorry she should think about how to make it right.

Interestingly she would just keep saying 'Mum, I so sorry.' on and on and on while cleaning up the mess.

After that she would proudly proclaim 'I did it!' as if she had made a marvelous contribution towards the betterment of mankind. Such is the sweet joy of having a toddler around.


March 12, 2009

American Folk Song Group - 'Peter, Paul and Mary'

Yesterday I watched a documentary about an American folk song group 'Peter, Paul and Mary' on PBS.

They are the original singers of many famous songs in the 1960s-70s such as :

If I had a Hammer

San Franciso Bay Blues

When I heard the song 'El Salvador', it made my skin crawled. This song reflected what also happened in Cambodia, where my husband was from. I am glad that there are Americans who have the courage to sing these songs that reflect the wrongdoings of their government.

Noel Paul Stookey and Jim Wallis-
©1983 Neworld Media Music ASCAP

Sung by Peter, Paul and Mary

There's a sunny little country south of Mexico
Where the winds are gentle and the waters flow
But breezes aren't the only things that blow in El Salvador

If you took the little lady for a moonlight drive
Odds are still good you'd come back alive
But everyone is innocent until they arrive in El Salvador

If the rebels take a bus on the grand highway
The government destroys a village miles away
The man on the radio says 'now we'll play South of the Border'
And in the morning the natives say,We're happy you have lived another day
Last night a thousand more passed away in El Salvador

There's a television crew here from ABC
Filming Rio Lempe and the refugees
Calling murdered children the 'tragedy' of El Salvador

Before the government cameras 20 feet away
Another man is asking for continued aid
Food and medicine and hand grenades for El Salvador

There's a thump, a rumble, and the buildings sway
A soldier fires the acid spray
The public address system starts to play South of the Border
You run for cover and hide your eyes
You hear the screams from paradise
They've fallen further than you realize in El Salvador

Just like Poland is 'protected' by her Russian friends
The junta is 'assisted' by Americans
And if 60 million dollars seems too much to spend in El Salvador

They say for half a billion they could do it right
Bomb all day, burn all night
Until there's not a living thing upright in El Salvador

They'll continue training troops in the USA
And watch the nuns that got away
And teach the military bands to play South of the Border
And kill the people to set them free
Who put this price on their liberty?
Don't you think it's time to leave El Salvador?


Blog: Principles of Great Principals

Just read a middle school teacher's blog. She has a really interesting piece about the principles of great principals:

Here is a summary of her unofficial research result of what makes great principals:
1. The school is a family.
2. Teachers are treated as professionals.
3. Instruction in the school is data-driven.
4. They are student centered.
5. They reach out to families.
6. They have undying energy.
7. They promote school spirit and teamwork.
8. They develop leaders.


March 11, 2009

Patio Gardening Project - Yeah Baby!

It's been raining all day today. Our poor seedlings are freezing outside in the rain and that's nothing I can do about it. If tomorrow is as cold as today, I am going to have to put some plastic cover over the plants to give them some protection.
I found some old photos of our patio gardening project today. All praise be to Allah SWT, our patio gardening project has come a long way. Here's how it looked in 2007.

May 2007
July 2007

July 2007
In 2008 we decided to dismantle the raised stand since it was difficult for us to weed the growth bags. I wanted to try growing tomatoes and peppers in containers, so I purchased these containers and cages. All praise be too Allah SWT we got good harvest from the tomato and bell pepper plants.

May 2008

July 2008

This year we are trying to grow more variety of vegetables (e.g. cucumber, beans, peas and tomatoes) and herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano) . Hopefully we'll have a good harvest in July.

March 2009


Article: Like Father, Like Daughter

Received via email from Sr. Sarah. Thanks a bunch!

Like Father, Like Daughter
Posted: 02 Mar 2009 09:18 PM PST

Amongst the many family dynamics issues that the Muslim community is beginning to address, one of the least-discussed subjects remains that of father-daughter relationships.

In the Muslim community especially, this is an issue which has been overlooked, ignored, and generally treated with a sense of discomfort. Particularly amongst immigrant families, the relationship between a father and his daughter(s) is often a distant one; girls are encouraged to spend the majority of their time with their mothers and other womenfolk.

A girl might be “Daddy’s Little Princess” as a baby, a toddler, a child, but as she grows closer to puberty she will often find herself left at home instead of taken to the masjid, attention deflected from her and turned towards her brothers instead (if she has any).Unfortunately, this is a practice which has extremely negative repercussions… for the fathers, the daughters, and indeed the Ummah at large.

Psychologists refer to father-daughter relationships as having an importance too often overlooked, despite the incredible impact that it has on both parties. Indeed, much of the time the effect of this relationship isn’t even noticed until much later in life, when patterns have already been set and are unlikely to change.

The role of a father in his daughter’s life is pivotal: he is the first man in her life; the one who teaches her what he, a male, thinks of her, a female; and thus shapes her sense of self-worth in the eyes of other men; the one whose behaviour and mannerisms will influence her mental image of “the perfect man” and her choice of life partner (i.e. husband).

In Islam as well as in psychology, the father is meant to be the daughter’s guardian, protecting her from harm, teaching her life skills and strong values. Yet despite all this, far too many fathers play a distant, secondary role in their daughter’s lives. There is a misconception that a father is merely the breadwinner, the supporter of the household, that his role is primarily that of financial provider rather than nurturer. After all, isn’t it the mother’s job to raise the children? Isn’t it the mother’s job to teach her daughters what it is to be a girl, a woman?

Yes, it is – but the mother is not a child’s only parent. She is equally the man’s progeny. His genes are present in her DNA, his flesh and blood are hers. When she looks at him, he is seeing a part of himself; in her behaviour is a reflection of his own attitude and mannerisms.How then can any father willingly minimize his role in his daughter’s life?

Mistakes Fathers Make

Not being actively involved from the beginning (birth). Hold your daughter. Carry her. Change her diapers. You can’t expect to develop a bond between yourself and your child if you don’t make the effort to create it.

Not getting involved because you think you’re unprepared. Considering that you’ve already had experience with females thanks to your mother/ sister/ wife, you’re not as unprepared as you think you are, so relax.

Distancing yourself from her as she grows older. Girls become women. They change physically. It’s a fact of life, get used to it. Yes, puberty is uncomfortable for everyone involved, but denying it or ignoring it – or worse, ignoring her - just makes things worse. This is just one example of fathers’ denial about their daughters growing up; in truth, there are many ways that fathers demonstrate distance from their daughters.

Having little to no physical contact. The idea that hugging, kissing, or having any other positive physical contact with your daughter is “wrong” or “not manly” is absolutely ridiculous. Not only that, but it’s extremely harmful to your daughter’s development as she grows older. Whether your daughter is five or fifteen, both of you should be comfortable enough to turn to each other for a hug (that lasts longer than five seconds) at any time.

Little to no emotional communication. “Pass the salt” does not qualify as real communication. Make an effort to be involved in your daughter’s everyday life, whether it has to do with school and friends or just how she’s feeling on any given day. Building this bond will create a feeling of security and trust, and your daughter should be able to turn to you for help at times of emotional hurt and conflict.

Not expressing pride in their daughters. Girls crave their father’s praise and approval just as much as boys do. Nothing can thrill a daughter more than knowing that her father sees his own good qualities in her, that he is really and truly proud of her and her accomplishments.
The greatest, most perfect example of father-daughter relationships can be found in the history of Islam. Has there ever been a father more devoted, a daughter more adoring, than our beloved Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Sayyidah Faatimah az-Zahraa’ (radhiAllahu anha)?

We all know the stories:

Young Faatimah, scarcely ten years old, wiping filth off of her father’s back and furiously berating the leaders of Quraysh for their behaviour.

Faatimah, who used to weep at the sight of dust that was thrown upon her father’s head, and would be comforted with the words “Do not cry, my daughter, for Allah shall protect your father!”

Faatimah, the apple of her father’s eye, of whom he said: “Whoever pleased Fatimah has indeed pleased God and whoever has caused her to be angry has indeed angered God. Fatimah is a part of me. Whatever pleases her pleases me and whatever angers her angers me.”

Noble Faatimah, one of the four greatest women in the world: “The best women in all the world are four: the Virgin Mary, Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad.”

Faatimah, of whom A’isha (radhiAllahu anha) commented, “I have not seen any one of God’s creation resemble the Messenger of God more in speech, conversation and manner of sitting than Fatimah, may God be pleased with her. When the Prophet saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up and kiss her, take her by the hand and sit her down in the place where he was sitting.”

The entire Muslim Ummah has benefited directly from this unique father-daughter relationship. How many lessons have been derived from the Seerah, from incidents pertaining to this father and to this daughter?! How much knowledge, how much wisdom, was transmitted from father to daughter, and from that daughter to her own sons, al-Hassan and al-Hussein (radhiAllahu anhum)?! Yaa subhanAllah! How can we ever belittle, neglect, forget the importance of such a bond?

O Muslim fathers, will you follow in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam)? Will you do what you can to help your daughter become the Faatimah az-Zahraa’ of today?

Or will you keep ignoring her, neglecting her, passing her off to ‘womanly influences’? And in the process, compromise, minimize, and even destroy the potential of someone who could become the next Maryam, Aasiyah, Khadijah, or Faatimah?

O Muslim men… be men! Be fathers. Be fathers of the greatest Muslim women this Ummah has ever known!


Finally! Easy Homemade Pizza!

I have tried a pizza dough recipe twice before and they didn't always turn out to be the way I want it to be - chewy, soft and flavorful.

All praise be to Allah SWT, I finally mastered the technique this morning and it tasted so good!

The recipe is simple - 2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup warm water.

Technique is also simple:
- mix all ingredients in a bowl, let rest overnight,
- turn it out on a lightly floured surface,
- fold the 4 sides, turn it over,
- cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes
- flatten the dough to 1 inch thickness
- add toppings 1. tomato sauce 2. cheese 3. sliced tomato
- bake in preheated oven at 500 degree F for 20 minutes.

I packed half of it for husband to eat for lunch while daughter and I ate the other half for breakfast.

Delicious, chewy and soft homemade pizza for less than $3 to feed a family of three.


Postponed: Chinese Lesson for 2nd Graders

Today I am supposed to talk to 2nd graders about the history of Chinese characters. I also plan to teach the kids how to sing the Chinese version of 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'. I am even prepared to bring these Chinese children's book, kindly donated by my dear sister, and the Chinese calligraphy set to show to the kids.

Alas! The heavy rain is just too daunting for me to drive on the highway with crazy Texan drivers who don't care much about slowing down during bad weather. So I called the school and asked Sr. Mona to pass the message to Sr. Edna, the 2nd grade teacher.

Since it will be raining from today till Friday, hopefully I can reschedule the lesson to next week, Allah SWT willing.


Cold Rain is Here

For the last few days we were blessed with great weather, and the plants grew steadily.

Yesterday the news forecasted cold rain for today and next two days. I told husband the seedlings need to come inside but he said not to bring them indoor. I told him that since they are MY seedlings and MY responsibility (my mother-instinct kicked in), I would bring them indoor.

The whole night I was praying and hoping that it will not be too cold for the other young plants. It started to rain during this early morning and the temperature dropped to the high 30s degree F. All praise be to Allah SWT its not heavy rain and so far the plants look alright.

Seedlings moved to the middle of the patio for protection.

Precious seedlings warm and cozy in the living room.
I'll have to monitor the plants outside and see if they'll need additional protection from the cold rain.


March 10, 2009

Crazy About Sewing!

There are alot of great ideas on sewing felt gifts like baby booties, bookmarks, sachets, books, flowers and bags on craft blogs and web sites. My creativity energy got a boost from looking at those cute stuff and I've been sewing like crazy since yesterday.

Here are some blog and web sites with great ideas for sewing felt flowers:

Peony Flower -

Flowers and Butterflies -

Flower Cupcake Decoration -

Fun Flowers -

Flowers Template -

Flower Bouquets -


Pretty Felt Flowers

Yesterday I was searching for pretty felt flower patterns to make and came across these beautiful color combination of flower patterns.

I never know that brown, rose/pink and white make such a pretty combination!


March 09, 2009

Survival of the Fittest Plants

Today is really cloudly, so I decided to put all the seedlings in the patio.

I have thought about growing seedlings indoor for as long as possible. But since they also need good air circulation and plenty of sunshine, I decided to move them all outdoors today. The pots with the tomato cages have beans, tomato and cucumber seedlings in them.

Some of the younger basil, tomato and hot pepper seedlings are kept in the covered cage for additional protection.

As a mother of one toddler, I feel myself growing over-protective over these seedlings. The thought of them fighting for survival outside kind of gets me worried.
What if the wind is too strong? What if birds come to pick at the seedlings? What is the grey squirrels come and eat the young plants? What if the sun is too hot?

I guess I'll just have to let nature takes its course and hope that Allah SWT willing they all survive well.


March 08, 2009

Home Garden Project

This morning the weather is so beautilful that husband and I decided to tend to our home garden.

All praise be to Allah SWT the Kaffir Lime Tree is coming back to life. Two weeks ago husband thought that it is dying, but I told him that the plant is dormant due to the cold weather. Sure enough, this week's warmer temperature has revived the plant.

Husband bought a packet of 6 asparagus roots at Lowes, and he planted them in this tray after drilling holes on the bottom. Allah SWT willing we will have fresh asparagus in about one months' time.

I brought out the beans and cucumber seedlings to let them breath fresh air. I'll have to monitor the plants for the next few days as cooler weather (40s-50s degree F) is expected then.

The beans, bluebonnet, basil, tomato and hot pepper seeds that husband sowed in these long planting pots have sprouted. Compared to the ones that I sowed indoor, these took about one week longer to sprout.
The cage with cloth covering it is housing some tomato, basil and pepper seedlings. I am using it to test the growth rate of seedlings, as compared to the ones that I am still growing indoors.
I've also sowed some marigold and chives seeds in small tin cans. We'll see how long it'll take for them to sprout.

Marigold flowers give out an unpleasant scent, so it helps to repel insects from fruits and vegetables. I've sowed some seeds in the soil where the pebbles are (the fence is for our patio). We'll see whether the seeds will sprout in 5-8 days time, Allah SWT willing.

All praise be to Allah SWT we enjoy gardening and daughter enjoys digging soil and watering plants. Allah SWT willing I am really looking forward to see how our garden grows this year.


March 05, 2009

Article: My Empire of Dirt

I just read an article, 'My Empire of Dirt', by Manny Howard about his experience growing vegetables, chickens and rabbits in his backyard in Brooklyn, New York.
He went through the good (lost 29 lbs), the bad (a tornado that damaged his mature crops, $11,000 spent on the farm and one unhappy wife) and the ugly part (fingers being sawed off in an accident and animal cannibalism) of gardening and raising animals. Very interesting and funny.


March 04, 2009

The Love for Gardening is in My Gene!

Bean seeds sprouting in reused containers

I just spoke with my mother on the phone, and I remembered to ask her if she got her green thumbs from my maternal grandmother, an avid gardener. My mother has big pots of plants outside her HDB apartment in Singapore, and she always tend to her plants with tender loving care. I remember whenever we visited my maternal grandmother on weekends when we were young, we would love to hang out around her beautiful flowers and plants. Sadly she passed away in 2000.

My mother confirmed that that is the case, and I told her that I have suddenly become crazy about gardening lately and am wondering why this is happening. So I am not crazy after all since it's just my natural instinct to yearn to dig the soil and see plants growing from seeds.

I told her that since we were successful at growing tomatoes and bell peppers last summer, all praise be to Allah SWT, we are going to try to grow other vegetables e.g. cucumber, beans and peas.

She also gave me a good piece of advice for growing healthy plants: Boil unused parts of vegetables e.g. potato skins, hard stems etc. in a pot of water. When cooled, use this water to water the plants.

Speaking about the love for gardening (aka physical labor), I just heard this wonderful essay by Mary Serten Corby on This I Believe.

Mary Seton Corboy
February 13, 2009
Mary Seton Corboy founded the Greensgrow Farm in 1998. She and her team of gardeners have become a national model of perseverance and commitment to urban farming. Corboy transformed a superfund site into a thriving garden that is still in full swing. In her essay she explores her belief in the power of physical labor.

Hear it here:


Heat and Moisture for Seeds to Germinate

Last week I read about sprouting seeds in a bag with wet towel, so I decided to give it a try.

Watch the demo on YouTube:

These bean seeds were left in the bags for about 5 days and all praise be to Allah SWT almost all of them sprouted. Basically seeds need just constant moisture and heat to germinate. It is so fascinating to watch the roots extend across the paper towel!

Since these plants probably will not survive after transplanting, I'll just put them in the dirt pile to compost.

The seedlings below are from beans that were germinated in bags placed above the refrigerator (where it's warm and cozy) about a week ago. All praise be to Allah SWT they are growing remarkably well! I put the tomato cages so that the bean vines can use it as a support as it climbs vertically. I have run out of pots and probably have to get more from the nearby gardening center.

Daughter is having a lot of fun watching these plants grow. I let her touch the seedlings in the ziplock bags and explain to her about how a seed grows into a plant. Allah SWT willing I hope that we'll get to enjoy the beans, tomatoes and basil later this summer :)


March 03, 2009

Humor: How Times Have Changed

Received via email from Sr. Sarah. Thanks a bunch!

Funny: How Times Have Changed

My how times have changed!!

HIGH SCHOOL --1957 vs. 2008

Scenario 1: Jack goes duck hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2008 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2008- Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged them with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3: Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2008 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2008- Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to fostercare and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.
2008 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
2008- Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2008- ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism.The FBI investigates his parents -- and all siblings are removed fromtheir home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2008 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.


Seedling, Seedling Everywhere!

Husband and I bought several packet of tomato, hot pepper, basil, peas, beans and cucumber seeds. Since we planted the seeds a week ago, the basil, hot pepper and tomato plants have sprouted.
As we didn't know that we could keep the seeds up to 3-4 years in a dark, cool and dry place, we planted ALL the seeds in those packets and all praise be to Allah SWT most of them are sprouting. Seeing they have developed first set of true leaves, I began to transplant them into small cups and any pots I can find so as to allow the seedlings to have more space and nutrients to grow. So now I have so many seedlings that I have no place to put!
In order not to have to throw away these precious seedlings, I've asked several teachers if they are interested to have some seedlings. I was glad when they gladly accept the seedlings. Allah SWT willing tomorrow I will bring them to school.


Chinese Lesson for Kids

Yesterday I subbed for the 4th grade teacher from 7:25am to 4pm. Good thing I went to school early to make copies of handouts for students.

I always enjoy subbing in this class because the students know the classroom rules and I can leave them alone in the classroom without worrying a bit.

During my break at 11am, I joined three teachers on a brisk walk around campus. Those ladies were walking at 20 miles per hour while I can only manage 5 mph! I didn't want them to slow down to wait for me, so I just told them to keep going at their pace. I have to admit that I took some shortcuts to not be too far behind them ;-) After walking briskly for 15 minutes, I had to stop and get ready for my next class at 11:30am.

During my second break at 12:35pm, I had lunch with two hispanic custodians and two new teachers. It was nice chatting with them and getting to know them better.

For some reason, I was in high spirit the whole day. Throughout the day, I shook hands and greeted students and teachers. I was just so happy to see everyone there. During classes with 4th and 5th grade students, I even sang Chinese children songs that I have singing to my daughter. Students looked at me with amusement and wonder when they heard me singing, and kept on pressing me to translate the lyrics to them. When they heard the Chinese version of 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star', they just shouted out the title.

I also realized that I now understand the important concept of 'to be nice but strict' and fairness when I'm with students. When students see me in class, they know that I can be funny and I want to have a good time with them. They also know that if they were to break certain classroom rules, I will hold them accountable for their choices. Even students who usually follow directions do get called out if they cross the line, so students know that I am fair to all.

Several upper grade students and teachers asked if I am going back to work full-time, and I told them that I'm taking care of my daughter. Sometimes when I think about it, it became hard for me to not be in school full-time. But when I think about my daughter, I have to push my priorities aside and just focus on her happiness.

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Singapore Drama: Good Morning, Teacher!

When I was in secondary school, the most popular tv drama in Singapore was 'Good Morning Teacher!'

This drama is about a teacher, freshly graduated from school, who went to a fishing village school to teach, and how she grew to love the people and the place there.

The theme song of the drama has a really catchy tune, and the lyrics are quite meaningful.

Since it is still relevant in this 21st century, I plan to sing the first theme song to students tomorrow.

Now that I am working at a school, I can identify with the emotions in the second theme song 'Goodbye, Teacher'. This year's batch of high school graduates used to help me in the library, and I will miss seeing them in school when they go to college next school year.

Watch the drama intro here:
Hear it on YouTube:

Theme Song: Good Morning, Teacher!

早安老师 (主题曲)

你追我赶 大家赛跑


老师早 同学们好

老师讲课 我睡着了

老师发问 我把头摇

望着黑板 心在沙滩
你扮渔民 我扮海盗


老师早 同学们好


老师早 同学们好

老师早 同学们好

Theme Song: Goodbye, Teacher

再见老师 (插曲)

挥挥手 说再见

回回头 望一眼





March 02, 2009

'Why You So Like Dat?'

I've been looking for the lyrics for the Singapore song 'Why You So Like Dat?', and all praise be to Allah SWT I found it on a blog site. Hear it here:

This song is also posted on

More songs from the same album on this web site:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Why You So Like Dat by the Wah Lau Gang

*Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?
Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?*


Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?
Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?

I let you copy all my sum,
coz you always blur,
but when i try to copy back,
you always call the sir!

Repeat *

I always give you chocolate,
i give you my tic tac,
but now you got the kit kat,
you never give me back.

Repeat *

You tell me that you don't like girl,
i also donno why,
but when you see a pretty girl,
your voice go up damn high.

You always talk in dialect,
i always ask you why,
you scold in hokkien very loud,

Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?
Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?


Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?
Why you so like dat ah?
Why you so like dat?


March 01, 2009

School Fundraising Dinner - A Life Changing Event

Last night I worked as a youth program coordinator at the school's fundraising dinner (FD). I was at the hotel at 5pm and left around 10pm. All praise be to Allah SWT the event went well without a major crisis. I was happy to see the teachers and some of the people whom I knew while working at the school full-time.

I have to admit that initially when I was asked to take on this task by the school's office coordinator, I cringed a bit. Then the school's FD coordinator, Sr. Brenda (kindergarten teacher), called and asked me to plan programs for the 9-12 age group. I decided to accept it because I know that it is not easy for the FD coordinator to find someone who is willing and able to take on this task. When I saw Sr. Brenda last night, I insisted that kids must be picked up by their parents by 9:30pm, if not I will inform the babysitters to bring kids to their parents in the main dining hall. I had to do this in order for all babysitters to be able to leave by 9:30pm. I had heard that during some of the previous years' FD, the event ended at 10:30pm, sometimes 11pm. It was hard enough to supervise kids for 3.5 hours without breaks, let alone 4.5-5 hours!

Last year when I was the full-time librarian at this school, I was the school's FD coordinator on behalf of the school. It was literally a life changing and exhausting experience for me - I really felt like I had just given birth! All praise be to Allah SWT I was able to pull this FD off without it falling apart or getting into major crisis except for lack of space for babysitting (over 150 kids came with their parents to the FD) and left-over pizza. Some of the things that I took away from this experience was deeper understanding and appreciation for my colleagues, event planning experience and higher self-confidence.

Back to last night's FD.

I was with the kids from 6pm to 8pm with Sr. Nubia, then Br. Mustaqim was with them from 8pm to 9:25pm. Sr. Nubia and I gave pizzas, drinks and potato chips to the kids around 6:45pm. On hindsight, we should have at least 3 adults for this age group. It was tough enough to stop kids from running out of the room to roam around the hotel hobby. Getting them to come back immediately after visiting the restroom was almost impossible.

When I was trying to conduct creative dramatics with the kids, I made some alarming observations:
1. Kids did not know how to use their creativity to think up short skits.
2. Some of the boys brought their electronic handheld to the FD. I hardly see them interact with other kids in the room.
3. My mother instinct kicked in when boys start to play rough with one another - I told them to stop immediately in case they got injured.

Between 8pm to 9pm, I was helping out as a hallway monitor, brought younger kids to the restroom, and talking to people whom I have not seen for a while.

Throughout the night, all six babysitters for 0-8 age group kids ate their dinner around 9pm. Sr. Nubia also didn't eat until 9pm. Amazingly, the hotel run out of fish and rice due to the overwhelming crowd, and only had tuna burgers and wraps. Based on last year's experience, I knew that I won't have time to eat, so I ate two bananas, that I brought from home, on my drive home. I did had a bite of chocolate cake, kindly provided by dear Sr. Anita, at around 8pm, and it was enough to get me going.

All babysitter got paid for 3.5 hours of hard work. From 9:30pm to 10pm, I stayed to clean up the babysitting rooms and moved toys and supplies to the pick-up area in the hotel lobby.

Will I help out at the FD next year? It depends. Part of me is energized by the hard work of the teachers, but part of me dread the stress level escalading as the night progressed. Somehow working part-time now has lowered my stress level threshold. Only Allah SWT knows best.