Life's like that!

June 27, 2013

212: The Extra Degree


Paul Staments: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world


Mark Bittman: What's wrong with what we eat


Graham Hill: Less Stuff, More Happiness

Watch it here


June 25, 2013

New Nesting Box

The old nesting box has been used by the chickens for more than two years. Since it is made of wood, I don't think we were able to disinfect it entirely.  Last week, I found lice on the Rhode Island Red hen, so I decided to search online for alternative and cheap nesting boxes.

One of the videos posted on YouTube shows how to make a nesting box out of an 18 gallon box with lid.

This afternoon, I brought the kids to the thrift store and found one for less than three dollars! I immediately grabbed it and worked on it after we got home.

It took me about 5 minutes to set it up. I put the blue plastic egg in the new nesting box. Hopefully the ladies will like their new hideout!

Latest update @7:30pm - the Brown Leghorn hen laid an egg in front of the feeder. I placed it next to the blue plastic egg in the new nesting box.  Guess will have to give them a few days to get used to laying in the new location.


June 23, 2013

Using cootie catchers to teach math!

Visit this web site to check out how to use cootie catchers to teach mode, mean, median and range!


Math Map

This math map can be used to teach about parallel lines, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines, a variety of angles and geometric shapes.


Multiplication Tables Using Your Hands!

6x6 through 10x10 tables. So cool!


Names for pets

The five gals are growing up really fast!  The Buff Orpington chicks are quite shy and timid, unlike the Barred Rock chicks who came up to the camera and investigating the action.

 I'm thinking of giving them names, but will have to get some leg tags first. In the past, I have resisted giving names to chickens because I didn't want to get too emotionally attached to them. But after losing my favorite ones to the raccoon, I changed my mind. All of them had such unique personalities, and they have given me countless hours of entertainment and companionship. It is only right that they get names that go along with their individual traits.


Location, Location, Location

As a constant reminder for the ladies to lay eggs in a regular location, I placed a plastic egg in the nesting box. Although they have been quite consistent in laying eggs in it previously, occasionally I would find an egg under some bush.  This morning, the Brown Leghorn hen laid a 6.5cm long white egg next to the blue fake one! )About four days per week, the Rhode Island Red hen lays 5.5cm long brown eggs.)

I am looking into getting a new nesting box to discourage mites and lice from hiding in it. Will be looking around online and at the feed store to see what options are available.



I have been putting off mulching my container garden until this morning.

Yesterday, after watching Jerry Baker's video about weed control, I got inspired to use newspapers as mulching material.


June 22, 2013

Chillin' Out with the Chicks

The ladies have been checking out the new chicks on the block (not the chopping block, my dear twin sister) since they got here. All five chicks are growing well and strong, and so far no sign of any raccoons attack, all praise be to Allah SWT. Sometime in late July, I'll put them in the chicken coop using this method.

This morning, I spotted some rat droppings on top of the chicks' cage. Maybe I should put in a mouse trap to catch the culprit. But somehow the idea of finding a dead mouse with it's paw clammed tightly in a trap doesn't appeal to me. Will consult husband and see what we can do about the rodent problem.


June 21, 2013

To The Playmobil!

My first memory of sharing a play set with my siblings is the vintage collection of dashing medieval knights from Playmobil.  The above set titled "Playmobil Vintage Knight Special Deluxe Set (1303)" is the exact set that I remember from my childhood and I found it on Amazon. (No, my dear twin sister, I am not crazy enough to spent a hefty $150 for it! And thanks for always snatching my favorite handsome knight away from me!)

Back in the late 1970s, my parents bought this set for the four of us to share. The main reason that I really liked this play set is because all the knights got to sit on the same table and have meals together, which kind of mirrored our family tradition of eating together at the same table. The guys seemed to have a real sense of comradeship and enjoyed each other's company. After a hard day of jousting and fighting off enemies, the best time of the evening is to have some "imaginary" hot stew and drinks with your pals before bedtime!

I don't remember whether my parents gave this toy set away or we lost them when we moved, but I plan to get a similar set and create some medieval memories with my own kids during this summer. This time, Dora the Explorer and Lego figures can join in the fun!

Playmobil Trivia: The largest Playmobil® display consists of 68,808 figurines and was achieved by Aesclick, The Spanish Association of collectibles of Playmobil (Spain), in Barbastro, Spain on 26 September 2010.


June 18, 2013

What Teachers Really Do


June 15, 2013

Video: The Private Life of Chickens by BBC


My secret counselor

When I decided to take on the responsibility of teaching, I told my dear twin sister that I would count on her as my counselor and adviser.  I am very blessed to have her stay by the phone every time I needed her honest and blunt feedback on how I should balance work and home.

I don't think that I survive my first year of teaching this well if it had not been for her. She helped me to clarify my thoughts, reinforce my self-confidence, and supported me emotionally to carry on till the last day of school.

So, this summer, I will honor my dear sister by spending quality time with my children. I am trying to work out a plan to get husband to bring us to visit her and her family in Ohio. Allah SWT willing, I would love to enjoy her children's company and dig into her garden!


Vegetable Garden - Summer 2013

My dear twin sister in Ohio has been bugging asking me to post photos of the vegetable garden. I finally decided to get it done just now.

This year, I started planting the seeds in early May because I was busy focusing on my teaching job. I thought of giving up gardening this summer, but my fingers were yearning to feel the soft soil and I couldn't stop dreaming of harvesting fresh vegetables from the garden. So on an early Saturday, I bought a bag of potting mix and spent about two hours preparing the pots for the seeds. Three years ago, I kept packets of vegetable seeds in the fridge and prayed that they will still sprout later. All praise be to Allah SWT, all of the seeds sprouted without fail!

The seedlings in the potting trays are Thai chill peppers. The ones in the bigger pots are eggplants which husband loves to eat. The green bean plants are growing well in the rectangular pots on the right side. DD1 is helping me to water the plants as and when needed. She is excited about growing these vegetables checking their growth. I am sure the chickens are keeping an eye on the vegetable garden gate. I better double check that it is secure every day in case the ladies get to feast on these yummy treats.


New Chicken Coop

Since we have been losing chickens to the cunning raccoons, I asked husband to rebuild the chicken coop.  The existing one is not as secure as we thought it to be, so he agreed to get it done this weekend.

 I helped husband dismantle part of the old chicken coop while he was nailing chicken wire to the new one. It took him about 8 hours to get the new one up to this stage.

 This part of the new chicken coop will be their roosting area.

I put the nesting box on an old towel rack so that it will stay dry and above ground level.

Allah SWT willing, husband will finish getting the new chicken coop ready for the ladies.

The new chicks have been moved into the old quail cage, so they have more space to roam around. DD1 and DD2 have been asking to touch them, but I keep reminding them the chicks are living things, not toys for our amusement. This afternoon, I let them pet the calm and demure Rhode Island Red hen, so they are little happier. I bet the kids will be happy to feed some cabbage to the ladies during this summer.


June 11, 2013

Old Friends, New Friends

Last night, husband saw a raccoon attacking our two Brown Leghorn hens and a Rhode Island Red hen in the chicken coop. We have no idea how the little rascal got into the chicken coop. Unfortunately, one of the Brown Leghorn hens was dying due to a vicious bite wound, so my brave husband decided to put it out of its misery.

The White Leghorn Chicken that we had since about a year and half ago disappeared sometime two months ago. Husband and I suspect that a raccoon got hold of it too.

This is what is left of our existing backyard residents...

Bottom: Rhode Island

Here are the newcomers!

Rhode Island Chick (about 1-2 weeks old)

Top: Buff Orpington Chicks
Bottom: Barred Rock Chicks
(about 1-2 weeks old)

I hope that husband will strengthen the chicken coop enclosure so that we can safeguard our ladies from the hungry predators.


June 10, 2013

How to plant a garden

Peace of mind
Peace of heart
Peace of soul
Squash gossip
Squash grumbling
Squash selfishness
Lettuce be faithful
Lettuce be kind
Lettuce really love one another
Turnip for prayer
Turnip to help each other
Thyme for each other
Thyme for family
Thyme for friends
Water freely with patience
Cultivate with love
Now how is your garden growing?
Always have love and faith

Cherokee Billie


Garden of Life

The adventure of life
is to learn.
The purpose of life
is to grow.
The nature of life
is to change.
The challenge of life
is to overcome.
The essence of life
is to care.
The opportunity of life
is to serve.
The secret of life
is to dare.
The spice of life
is to befriend.
The beauty of life
is to give.

- William Arthur Ward


My green thumb...

My green thumb came only
as a result of the mistakes
I made while learning to
see things from the plant's
point of view.

- H. Fred Ale


Gardening is cheaper...

 is cheaper than therapy
And you get tomatoes

Every child...

Every child
is a different kind
of flower.

And all together,
make this world
a beautiful garden.


Your mind is a garden...

Your mind is a garden,
your thoughts are the seeds.

You can grow flowers,
or you can grow weeds.


Life is a garden - Dig it!

I have been dreaming the day when I can start gardening every since DS was born, so that was exactly what I did last month.

At the garden center, I bought some marigold plants, a big bag of potting mix, and some bamboo stakes for the green bean plants.

It feels so good to dig in the garden, and starting chili pepper and eggplants from seeds. Most of the seeds have sprouted, and in a couple of weeks, they will be transplanted into bigger plant containers. Thanks to husband's effort, the chickens are unable to chow down on those delicious seedlings.

Now that DD1 is older, I plan to assign watering duty to her. I hope that she will enjoy observing the plants' growth and appreciate the beauty of nature.


Rest In Peace - My pets

Since the last entry on my blog that is dated October 2012, two hens, a quail and a rabbit have been killed by some dogs that got into our backyard when we forgot to lock it.

We have no idea who those dogs belong to, and I broke my heart that their owners were so irresponsible to let their dogs loose in the neighborhood.

Allah SWT willing, I hope that my pets will forgive me for the negligence and that they are now at a better place.


5 new chicks

This morning, my husband discovered one of the Rhode Island Red hens died.

He mentioned that he heard the chickens crackling loudly in the backyard. Since both backyard gates are locked from the inside, we concluded that maybe a dog had sneaked into the backyard.

After husband buried the dead chicken in the garden plot, I told him I would go to the farm feed store to get new chicks. So this afternoon, I brought the kids to the store and bought five of them. After we got home, I housed them in the guinea pig cage and kept them on the patio.  DD1, DD2 and I are looking forward to seeing them grow into beautiful hens.


I survived my first year of teaching!

All praise be to Allah SWT, I survived my first year of being a 3rd grade Islamic Studies, 5th and 6th grade science teacher!

It has been a wonderful and stressful journey for me. Although I wish I was more prepared for the enormous workload involved, I would not trade this experience for anything in the world. Starting November 2012, I took on my most challenging career path ever, and came out stronger in my faith and more self-confidence.

Every teacher at the school had been tremendously supportive towards me. They have generously shared their insights and wisdom with me whenever I approached them. They are truly my lifesavers.

Truthfully, I would not be able to take on the responsibility as a teacher if my husband had not supported me throughout these last few months. He had stepped in to take care of our children while I was busy preparing PowerPoint slides, typing out test questions, grading papers and making foldables.

Here are some things I tried in the classroom and they worked well:
1. Fill a bucket
2. Twitter board for students
3. Using Bill Nye videos and teacher created worksheets for science classes
4. Survivor Science (last few weeks of school)
5. Foldables
6. Game board design as a group activity (last few weeks of school)
7. Classroom jobs
8. Curriculum based readers theater for science (last few weeks of school)

Here are some things that I wished I had more time to implement in the classroom:
1. Junkyard War
2. Better organization for paperwork
3. Whole Brain Teaching
4. Team building activities

I hope that I will next school year, I will be better at communicating students' academic performance and behavior with their parents. One issue that always haunt me was how to communicate effectively with parents and guardians. This may be due to my own perception that parents hold on to their biases when a teacher approaches them about their children.

I am thankful to Allah SWT for the wonderful experience to connect with my students, and I am looking forward to next year's teaching assignment.