Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Encounter with reptile.

After the endangered animal trip, we went for another zoo trip. This time it was about the reptile. And this time, Medina joined us as the trip was catered for the young ones too. 

The session started with a presentation by Edwina. They separated the kids to 2 groups.

Bigger kids doing the mind mapping.
 Younger kids doing art & craft.
The one who think ummi should go away because she's fine on her own. Sheeessshh. That's how early they start ditching you.
Next, kids moved on to the snake section.
 Some facts finding activities. 
Edwina explaining the reptile's eggs. 
 Kids get the chance to touch the snake.
And snake skin. 

The moment she saw the skin, she gave Edwina the disgusted look and exclaimed "How could u kill the snake ?????" *facepalm* 

Poor Edwina need to explain to her they ain't killing any snake. 

The last part was feeding the tortoise. Kids got the chance to go inside the tortoise area and feed the tortoise.

It took us about 2.5 hours to complete the whole program. It was a good day. If you are interested, do check out the Zoo Negara educational program. It's really worth your money.

Malaysian Endangered Species, Young Biologist program, Zoo Negara.

Zoo Negara has a series of Young Biologist Program. If you can gather 10-20 people, you can liase with the officer, Ms Edwina Lim and arrange for an educational visit for a very minimal fee.

You can discuss with her and cater the content of the visit to your specific needs. Few weeks ago, we went for the Malaysian Endangered Species. Medina missed it because the trip was catered for bigger child. Although to be honest, I felt she would have enjoyed the trip better than the bigger siblings.

We started with the giraffe section. BTW, is giraffe endangered? 
I learned loads of new stuffs. 
Like the fact that elephant tip toe. Not stamping their feet like what you see in cartoon shows.
While I marveled with the new found facts, kids started rolling their eyes with their "U mean u don't know, ummi?? How could u not know??" face. OK kiddos, animal is not my expertise okay.

Elephant's molar. The largest teeth in the world. Elephant changed teeth 6 times in their lifetime.
We also got the chance to watch the zoo keeper carried out the elephant's daily routine. Like bathing.
Big splash!!
Watch the cheeky elephant stole her friend's food ;-)
Edwina explaining about baby tapir, the walking melon. Up to 6 months old, baby tapir has this unique design resembling a walking melon. This help them to camouflage themselves from predator.
 Snare trap. Very easy to set up. And very deadly to the animals.
The poor victim.
After the tapir and tiger, we moved on to the orang utan section.
 The statistics.

 Kids got to do some hands-on activities related to orang utan.
 Trying to unwrap the candy wrapper without using the thumb. I can't remember how was this related to orang utan :P
 Hajar trying out the orang utan's shirt.
The final part of the tour was teh animal show. My kids felt it was really anti climax. After few hours learning about endangered animal and how we can save them, it feels so wrong to finish it off watching an animal doing some circus thing. I do agree with them but I think it's a Catch 22 thingy. As much as the zoo trying their best to comply to regulations and make the animal's welfare their utmost priority, they also need some entertainment to keep the crowd coming.
 The highlight of the animal show to me was the appearance of the binturong. The Asian bearcat. I have never seen one before ;-)
 It has a very strong tail.
The whole tour took about 3 hours. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. To be honest, we have not been to Zoo Negara for many many years. The last time we went, kids thought the animals look really sad and depressed. After their trip to Singapore Zoo, they cannot stand the sight and the smell of animals in our local zoos. So they decided not to support those zoos anymore.

But I have to say, I was really impressed this time. With the effort of the Zoo Negara management in taking care of the animal. The zoo has changed. Not as bad as it was few years back. And this educational trip was really worth the money.
Kudos to Zoo Negara!! ;-)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

TOHOKU; Through the eyes of Japanese Photographers

There is a TOHOKU photography exhibition in Galeri Shah Alam.

Tohoku is the northeastern section of Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago. It is also known as the centre of the Jomon culture, which was developed by some of the first people living in Japan. When the tsunami striked Japan on March 11, 2011, the worst damage was concentrated in the Tohoku region. The media coverage of the tsunami made many people familiar with Tohoku but there is so much more to Tohoku. The photographers tried to represent the varied faces of Tohoku through their pictures. Beyond the tsunami casualties.

In conjunction with the exhibiton, there's also special video screenings. FOC. We went today to watch Little Charo visits Tohoku. 
Charo is a puppy who visit Tohoku. On his mission to save the world, Charo runs into Zashikiwarashi (Child spirit), Kappa (River goblin), Oni (Demon), Yuki-onna (Snow girl), Tanuki (Raccoon)- the characters of Japanese traditional folklore originated in Tohoku. The setting is placed within the natural beauty and scenery of well-known Matsushima, Tono, Osaki & Fukushima. Watch the trailer here.
Simple animation. Nice story line. Kids were entertained. Though they had more fun making fun of the characters :-P
After the movie, we had ice cream. Okay, well, I didn't. They had ice cream.
The sun is out. Nice weather to chill at the lake.
Exhibition is on until 28th November. If u are within the vicinity, do drop by.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Self governance (and religion).

Last Friday, I was having lunch with the girls.
In a restaurant with a Malay-Arabic name. One speaker was blaring Quranic recitation and the other was playing some music. In the same restaurant. The 2 male workers continued to work during lunch hour and missed their Friday prayer. Business was as usual. Not to mention the overwhelming number of "Muslim" men having their lunch peacefully in other restaurant nearby. It looked so wrong. Everything was so wrong. At least to me.

Religion is important to me. And it's important to me that my kids grow up to be an open minded relevant religious person that makes a difference in this world.  I am not the strictest Muslim. I can be very liberal at times. But there are certain things that I can be very conservative too. 

As much as I can, I try to teach my kids the right thing the right way. Most importantly, I remind myself constantly not to shove religion down my kids' throat. They need to understand the reason of doing and the raison-d-etre. Do not follow blindly for the sake of religion. Acquire the knowledge and decide your course of action. I let my kids decide. And their decision is made to please God. Not me. Not friends. Not following the crowd. Not for anybody but God. It's their submission to God. Like when Hajar decided to wear hijab. It will be easier for me to make her wear it when she was younger. But I prefer to let her wear it on her own accord. When she's ready. Once she understood the concept of hijab.

Halloween is always tough for me. It has been so commercialized that it makes it so fun for everybody to celebrate. 
And it makes it so difficult not to get sucked into the brouhahaha. I will be lying if I tell u I am not tempted to dress up and be silly and go trick or treating. So I can fully understand why kids get excited about it. And why my kids get excited.

So when Medina asked me whether she can go to her school's Halloween party few weeks ago, I told her it's her choice. I told her my stand on Halloween, and why it is so. I don't celebrate Halloween. Due to the pagan roots. Paganism contradict my Islamic belief. It isn't hard to go the usual yada yada "We don't celebrate Halloween coz we are Muslim" if u r not affected by it. If u live in a world that doesn't give a hoot about it. But when your school has been preparing for the party for weeks and your teachers have been talking about costumes and candies and Halloween decorations are up, it's hard. Especially when u are 5 yo. 

M; "Ummi, u know I love animals right??"
Me; Hmm..uhh..yes.
M; I want to be a Bat Girl.
Me; Hmm...uhhhh...OK.

So despite my reluctance and my stand on Halloween, I prepared her costume. As cheap as I can...hahaha. While still praying that my 5yo will decide not to go. 

On the party day itself, things just worked out. I had to leave early for work. Mr O was down with food poisoning. She woke up early. Probably excited. And we had a little chat on Halloween. Again. So I told her to decide herself. She can stay home. Or ask Mr O to send her to school. And she told me she will stay home to please Allah. OK. Fine by me. I left home. Still wondering whether she will go to the party or not.

I called home during lunch just to check. 

M; I didn't go to the party, ummi. I can dress up at home too. Today, Emily and me did a Bat Girl play. She's the villain. I am the good Bat Girl.
Me; OK, Ina. I am very proud of u. And u make Allah really happy.
M; Really ummi?
Me; Really really ;-)
How could I not be proud of her? To be tempted and to choose not to. To acquire self governance at 5 yo is an incredible feat. At least I know, this girl will grow up doing something she thinks is right. Not because everybody is doing it. For that, I am blessed. Alhamdulillah.

Hijau Workshop, KLEFF 2012

KL Eco Film Festival  is an annual event organized by Eco Knights. Usually there will be lots of film screening and activities throughout the month. This year, it was in October and was held in University Malaya.
I signed the kids up for the Hijau workshop organized by Ecocentric. Not the best day to go. It was raining cat and dogs. Usually, I won't be complaining. But it took us 4 times going to and fro (IN THE RAIN with 4 KIDS in tow) to find the right place for the workshop. Sigh. Must organize better next year, guys.
Finally found the venue. Which has been changed a few times.
Introduction on environment issues.
For discussion, they were divided into 2 groups. 
Brainstorming on environment issues affecting local areas. I love to see the kids mingling with adults discussing about the environment. It's great to listen to everybody's point of views. People from different age group.
Drawing the issues. Kids' favorite activity. No hesitation there.
The group from a school in Kuala Sepetang presenting their issues.
Hajar was asked to present for her group. Noticed the monkey in orange at the centre of their poster?
The lady in their group shared her local environment issue in Langkawi. The orange monkey is Dusky Leaf Monkey baby.
Picture is taken from here.

Apparently, those monkeys' babies are popular pet due to their attractive bright orange color. To catch the babies and sell them as pet, the mothers were killed. Coz the mothers ain't orange and ain't cute enough for a pet. And according to her, the shooting is very common in Langkawi. I feel sick to the stomach. To those of you who love these wild animals as pets, please stop. Go find other hobby. A decent one. Wild animals belong in the jungle. Stop supporting the inhumane business. It's the least u can do!!

Little Missy felt the need to support Hajar and voice out her opinion too...ha3.
While others were still discussing, somebody lost focus and got cozy.
Seeing her getting cozy under the umbrella, one of the guys from Ecocentric quietly shoved a big box her way.
So she got cozier and cozier.
Anyway, I think the key take away message for the workshop is everybody can do something for the environment. There are many things u can do. Little2 things. Besides the usual reduce, reuse, recycle , u can also contribute to the environment by doing stuffs like buying local vegetables and fruits. 

Reduce your carbon foot prints with concious consumerism. We are very happy with our weekly organic vege box from TM Farms. It's not only healthy, it's a concious decision to support the local farmers instead of the mass produced imported vegetables in big hypermarkets. Do check them out.
Another way to reduce your carbon foot print is to pay attention to packaging. There is only so much u can recycle if u keep throwing stuffs. And recycling can be costly too. One of the best ways to reduce packaging is to ditch the bottled water. BRING YOUR OWN water whenever u can.
BYOB is a local concept detergent store that is promoting the 3R concepts. Basically, u bring your own bottles to their store and refill your detergents. Their products include laundry detergent, dish washing detergents, fabric softener, mopping solution, bleach, pine disinfectant, soap powder and kitchen degreaser.

So do check them out too. Not only it's cheaper, it makes more sense too.
Green is gorgeous. Right? :-)

This might sound harsh but I personally believe being green is just a matter of whether u want to or not. And whether u care or not. Those who choose not to is just being arrogant and lazy and inconsiderate. It's your choice.