Monday, August 18, 2008

Swotting hard!

Its the P6 prelim week and CA week for the rest. Isaac is sitting for his prelim exams over the next three days while Caitlin faces CA for the very first time.

The kids have been working (and playing) hard over the weekend. We were at home most of Sunday, ploughing through exam papers and assessment books. But lest you think I wielded a mean whip, Caitlin and Isaac both had birthday parties to attend on Saturday - so they had a jolly good time! And on Sunday night, no more work - just a trip to Ikea to buy Owain's new bed (yes sob sob - my baby boy is leaving my side for his own bed/space in his gor gor's room! A milestone in our journey together!).

Should have seen how we got the bed home with five kids already filling up all available space in the car. Although the bed was flat-packed, it still posed a challenge to cart home. In the end, the kids stayed where they were while we slid the flat heavy pack over their heads. We rode home like this, sitting beneath the box held up and supported by all our headrests and Trinity's childseat! It was very funny to see - and whenever the car went up or down a slope, all the kids would reach up and grab the box to stablise it firmly so that it does not slide through our windscreen!

So today is the start of CA week and I can expect stress and pressure to build. Not that I am putting pressure on them - I think its a bit late to put any pressure and at this stage, that may be more harmful than good. Better to just let them flake out a bit over the weekend and omit all talk of exams.

In spite of that, this morning, Caitlin called me, voice trembling and teary whispering: "I'm scared mummy. What if I fail?"

Ah, she's laying pressure on herself again. I knew she would. I tried to reassure her - she will be fine and she will do well. First, I said I could see how hard she worked to prepare herself, doing the pile of work I gave with no complaints. I reminded her that I could see that she had her concepts well in place, doing very well in all the assessments I gave. She knew her stuff and I was not afraid for her at all. Besides, I said, look at it this way, a test just tells you what you know and what you don't know. So after the test is over when we know where you find difficulty, we'll work on those. On top of that, this is just a mock test and the marks will not be included in the final score. The test was just to give her a feel of a test environment to prepare her for the coming SA. I think I went on and on but all I could hear are sniffles at the other end.

I didn't think all of that really registered, so to help her, I sent mum over to her place. Mum would do the sayang work that I can't. Note to self: I really should teach her all the visualisation/ relaxation techniques and deep calming breathing.

News on the homefront - my new neighbours just moved in and they have three young kids (who do look quite lonely). The younger two have since made firm friends with my brood. There are many calls of "Luuu-cas! Can I come over to your house now?". So my kids (Owain and Cait in particular) now camp out next door. But the next door kids are forbidden to come over to my side - don't know why. I'd be happy to have them come over, but the parents never let them.

My new neighbour seems to have quite a green thumb too. Although they tore up Uncle Chan's old side garden and matured red palms, and concretised everything, they left two teensy patches of garden in the front and back of the house. These, they filled with lots of shrubs and ferns etc. The front garden seemed to replicate the plants in my garden - gingers, heliconias and birds' nest ferns, the 'snake plant' and another large-leaf plant (don't know the name). They said they took the lead from our garden - haha, not sure if our garden is the best of inspiration!

So all that garden work has inspired me to work on mine! And I am happy to say that I used the compost from the Can-O-Worms on my passion flower plant - and goodness, it is now tall, lush and in full bloom! The flowers, with their spidery purple petals, seem very delicate - they bloom for one or two days and then die. Right now we have at least about 10 to 13 in varying stages of bloom. They do look lovely against the dark green foliage of the leaves and my cream-coloured wall! It must be due to the compost from the worm farm because for months before, when I used traditional chemical fertilisers and hummus, nothing worked.

The success of my passion flower at blooming and climbing up the wall really makes me smile. But on the other hand, I am sad to report that my jasmine has given up the fight and gone to the big garden in the sky. I think I've learned my lesson - not easy to nurture a jasmine plant and they do seem very susceptible to bugs! They need worm tea!! And that can only come when I get my own worm farm!

I do like the compost from the worm farm - looks dark, rich and has a nice woody smell. I saw the Can-O-Worms displayed at the Garden Festival and was really impressed by how it works. I am squeamish about worms but those in the worm farm look so benignly teensy! The worms are really thin and tiny and not at all like the maggoty fat ones I imagined them to be. So the ick factor has diminished quite a bit.

Apart from reducing waste (and saving the earth!) the worm farm produces fantastically rich compost and worm tea! Worm tea is sort of like worm 'pee' - colourless, odourless and yet rich with nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes etc. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and works as an effective pesticide as well. If I have the worm farm, I won't need harsh chemicals and artificial fertilisers. And nothing like a live worm farm and its output to teach the kids about natural cycles etc! Maybe this might work better for any future jasmines that I intend to grow.

The worms eat lots of stuff - they like bread, fruit, veggie scraps, old teabags, newspapers but not meat, nor herbs like garlic, ginger, onions, chilli etc. The more they eat, the faster they grow, the more they reproduce and the greater the amount of compost! A typical worm farm starts out with about 3000 worms but a matured population can have as many as 20,000 to 50,000 worms!

The tub of Can-O-Worms cost S$200. My name is already on the waitlist but no one has called me back yet! I'm pretty impatient and can't wait to get started! If my new neighbours are nice, I'll even share some of my wormy compost with them!


Rita said...

I want your wormy compost !!! Where do I get this Can-O-Worms ??

Hey, if you want dwarf bananas suckers, let me know ok ?

We also have mango and durian plants. Ha ha !

Cory said...


Cory said...