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Monday, March 31, 2014

Deep Reading

Our new students are having trouble with Deep Reading techniques. It takes a long while to train them to these thinking skills. Meanwhile, the children have to stay engaged even though the homework is extremely challenging. We were thrilled to see them having fun using their brains to do tasks that would daunt even their parents.

If you understand the comprehension passage deeply, you can visualise what is going on. To test that, we got the children to DRAW their understanding. They were at first amused. Next, they were enthusiastic. Then, they felt proud. It is no walk in the park. If it were easy, they would not have to come to class. What I asked of them was challenging indeed, but if they work at it, they are able to give quality that impresses even me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Drowning Bird

There was a hullabaloo and a great deal of splashing from the garden. The little bird was trying its hardest to get out of the pail. It was a good thing I got there in time. In a while, the feathers would get soaked through and I think the bird would have drowned.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sterilising the Airconditioner With Ozone

Novita Air Steriliser

I first wrote about sterilising the air conditioner HERE. Air conditioner cleanliness is a big thing for us because The Husband's nose shuts down when the air is polluted with fungal spores. For 20 years already, I have been sterilising the air conditioner on a weekly basis with jets of hot steam from the Karcher jet steamer. It did work. It kept the air conditioner reasonably clean. I have a rather keen sense of smell and could detect a light mould smell even after cleaning. The mould smell would get progressively heavier as the week progressed, and then it was time to clean the air con again. However, the Husband's nose did not protest and I had no better solution.

Till last week...

Last week, after steaming the air conditioners, I decided to use an ozone generator to sterilise the vents and ducts. The Novita Air steriliser comes with an air purifying function and an air sterilising (i.e., ozone generation) function. It occurred to me that at full ozone blast X 2 machines X 6 hours, I could generate enough ozone to sterilise BOTH the air conditioners (switched on to Fan Function) in our bedroom.

It worked marvellously well. After the treatment, the unit gave off not one whiff of mould smell. After one week, there is only a slight mould smell. So now, I shall ozonify the air conditioners once a week.

Ozone is poisonous to the human lungs. Whenever I switch on the air sterilising function of the Novita Air Steriliser, I make sure no human/pet stays in the room. The instructions state that at very low ozone settings, there is not enough ozone to harm the lungs. Supposedly, it is safe to stay in the room. I never take that chance. If the levels of ozone are too low to harm your lungs, they are not high enough to kill fungal spores and bacteria in the air. If the levels of ozone are high enough to kill fungal spores and bacteria, then our lungs are in danger too.

With no one in the room, I close all the doors and windows. I switch 2 machines on to full ozone blast. This ensures that there is enough ozone build-up to be toxic to mould and bacteria. The air conditioners are switched on to Fan Function so that they will suck in ozone and blow it out again. As the ozone circulates through all vents and ducts for 6 hours, it will oxidise every single bacteria and fungal spore in there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wombat Boy

Little Boy is now called Wombat. This is because he behaves just like one. When he was little, he was loving and affectionate. Just like the affectionate wombat in the video herein below.

This was Wombat Boy back then.

Then, Little Boy grew up. Like a true wombat, he became grumpy and territorial. He is extra grumpy when he has a lot of work scheduled. He grunts responses at me and if I dare to even ask a leeeetle question, he makes this irritated sound... purses his lips and looks like he is about to explode, and is barely holding it in.

That was what happened last Friday.

It was the start of the March holidays and like any loving Momma, I went and asked him if he and I should do something together. For so many years I have lived my life prepared to drop it all during the holidays so that I can be with my son. It took me a while and 2 grunts, plus an exasperated sniff... to realise that Wombat Boy has no time for me.

He had 2 camps to go too. He had to train for competition everyday... and he wanted to study for the May exams because during the school term, there is so much training he has no time to study.

I'm not the only one having adjustment issues. The Husband has the habit of taking half days here and there during the school holidays to spend time with his son. So... he took 2 half days this week only to realise that Wombat Boy has no time for him.

Oh well... I guess The Husband and I will just spend time together. Kekekekekeke!

This is Wombat Boy now.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Corn and Mugwort Leaves

I finally learnt that the term Sweet Corn, isn't just a nice way of saying "Corn". There really is such a thing as Sweet Corn. Mommy A spotted Cameron Highlands sweet corn at Kok Fah Vegetable Farm in Sungei Tengah, and she bought me a whole lot. The kernels can be crunched raw.

The sweetness of it was very surprising.

She had also found a bunch of mugwort leaves. Mugwort is a herb traditionally used to stimulate menstruation in people who have irregular periods and suppressed menstruation.  It is also supposed to relieve menstrual cramps and lower blood sugar. See HERE. Aside from its medicinal properties, the herb has a strong spicy flavour reminiscent of anisette.

I loved it!

A gift of sweet corn and mugwort leaves.

Mugwort omelette... for added creaminess I added evaporated milk and cheddar cheese.

Sweet corn kernels and mugwort salad, with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Grilled prawns with coriander and cumin.

Hamburger Towers

Onions, tomatoes, fried garlic, salt, egg, 1 tablespoon olive oil and lean minced beef. Normally, fatty minced beef is recommended for juiciness and moisture. However, I use lean minced beef but add olive oil and tomatoes for juiciness and moisture. 

Mush it all up.

Shape into patties and fry on medium high heat for 2 minutes on each side to seal in the juices. Place in a toaster oven for 15 minutes to cook the patty all the way through. We like ours well done.

Make your hamburger tower with bread, cheddar cheese, slices of fresh tomatoes, onion marmalade and mushrooms.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

NTUC Finest at Thomson Plaza

For years, I thought that Cold Storage was THE place to shop. It had friendly service and an excellent selection of quality meats. That was, until I experienced Cold Storage in Yishun. Somehow, shopping there made me feel like I was an unwelcome intrusion. This was especially true of that outlet's beef counter.

But oh well... I bore with the sour service because I need beef.

Then oh joy... oh joy... oh joy... I discovered NTUC Finest at Thomson Plaza. It is such a happy place to shop at! Last week, a 2m tall cleaner paused in the middle of mopping the floor to help me lift my humongous threadfin onto the counter. He chatted cheerfully with me as he did so. I apologised for bothering me and he said it was no bother at all.

The beef counter is heaven. There is angus beef, grain fed beef and grass fed beef. The signages are clearer and more informative. Every butcher that has served me in the past 3 months knew his meat. Which was wet aged and for how long. Which was dry aged and for how long. They were fast, professional and friendly. The meat is handed to me either vacuum packed OR in parchment paper, NOT cling wrap.

I also love the seafood counter. Again, I've been served by different people each time I've been there. One group of Malay aunties talk to me like this "Sayang... you come back later ok? I need time to filet." Isn't it nice to be called "Sayang"? Today, it was a middle-aged Chinese man. It wouldn't do for him to call me "Sayang" right? So, he did not. He did, however, bowl me over with his graciousness. After I was done choosing my fish, I noticed that I had messed up his display. I apologised for it. Guess what this lovely man said! "Miss... [wow... he called me Miss] dun worry about messing it up! If you dun mess it up, I would have no job!"

It was SUCH a gracious and gentlemanly response to put a lady at her ease. For just a moment, I envisioned myself in a ball gown hanging on this man's arm entering a ballroom. With his fine manners, he could have held his own in the company of any pipe smoking gentleman in coat tails.

Cold Storage Yishun is nearer my house but hey... if I am gonna spend $700 per trip on meat, fish and groceries, I don't really mind driving 10 minutes further for a better all round experience. Hence, I've not stepped into Cold Storage Yishun in months.

Here are the butchers. It doesn't matter who serves you. They're all very pro.

There's that gracious and gentlemanly fishmonger.

See how well he has arranged his fish display. I love how well he has packed the fish with ice. It speaks of thoroughness and a quest for perfection even in the small things.

More fish in his beautiful display

My 2 threadfins and 3 red snappers all nicely filleted and packed in ice.

This quiet lady always has a gentle and shy smile for me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Finally Safe from Poisoned Cookies!

I first wrote about Little T HERE as the terror who had wanted to give Poisoned Cookies to some people on Teachers' Day. Needless to say, my instinct for self-preservation kicked in on Teachers' Day. Instead of accepting gifts, I asked the children to place a cash gift in a bag for the SPCA's building fund. I received an email from Little T's Mommy last Friday...

He has come a looooong way since the days when he plotted to poison his Teachers. I think his Mommy should be real proud of herself. Without a determined Mommy, I am useless. I can advise on how to motivate. It was Mommy who made the miracle happen. She thinks I made a miracle. 

Actually, she did.

In this email, she makes it look like I made a miracle.

In this email, it is clear that SHE made a miracle.

Well done Mommy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Road to Recovery

I am not a doctor. I am just writing about my own personal experience.

Recovering from adrenal exhaustion and hypothyroidism is a slow process. It takes 8 to 9 months to recover from minor adrenal exhaustion and 12 months for a moderate case. In severe cases, it requires 24 months.

What is Adrenal Exhaustion?
The adrenals are responsible for producing a whole lot of hormones that regulate bodily functions. For example, the adrenals produce cortisol that is important in regulating blood sugar. Don't ask me how okay... I am not a doctor. All I know is that one day, I ate a delicious bowl of white congee and within 30 minutes, was fast asleep. I slept for 2 hours. I thought I had diabetes. I went for a check. Nope!

Cortisol is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. I was sleepy all day. I moved about in a brain fog and once, I fell asleep staring at bananas at the NTUC supermarket. I thought I needed exercise. So I went walking, swimming and cycling. After even moderate exertion, I came home and crashed out. In fact, once, I crashed after watching an action movie! The high adrenalin movie tired me out!! However, every night, at 3.30 am, I woke up, heart pounding and pyjamas drenched. I thought it was perimenopause and accepted my lot. However, things got worse. The premenstrual mood swings became a horror to control. The poor Husband bore the brunt of it. At one point, I sort of went outside myself and stared at me, the crazy woman yelling at The Best of Husbands accusing him of anything and everything. I went to do checks at the gynaecologist. Again, nothing.

I began to wonder if I had a psychological condition.

Now I know that the body's hormones interact with each other in complex ways. A lack of cortisol can set off other hormonal imbalances leading to a whole host of seemingly unrelated symptoms. I don't quite know how, but malfunctioning adrenals have an effect on the thyroid too... which I think contributed to my sensitivity to gluten (i.e., bread and pasta).

Going off gluten was a breakthrough. Thank you Mommy P.

Thank heavens for the internet. I came across websites where people described symptoms exactly like mine. From these sources, I learnt how to help myself recover... and so far, it has been an effective therapy.

Home Therapy
From Beth Dreyer, I learnt to...

- Sleep a lot. I force myself to sleep till 9am every day. In stressful moments, my cortisol levels still go crazy and I cannot sleep at night. However, even if I cannot sleep, I lie in bed till 9am. Also, whenever I feel sleepy, I sleep. I don't fight the urge to sleep like I used to. Sleep heals.

- Eat a certain way. No gluten. No simple carbs. High protein and plenty fibre.

- Say no. I wasn't good at that last year. Not doing enough for other people made me feel guilty. An overactive professional conscience did not help. Last year, I would suck up a lot of things, wanting to please others, needing their approval. This year, I have forced myself to say "No" to things and people. I wasn't good at it at first. However, with the help of Mommy A, I am getting better at it.

- Take negative people out of my life. Zero tolerance for people who are negative or who disempower themselves. Sometimes, there is a thin line between "I dunno how" and "I won't". I can give dispassionate and logical advice or diagnoses to address the Dunno How, but the moment I discern any hint of "I won't", I disengage. Your won't is your cross to bear, not mine. When push comes to shove, I value my health more than your problems.

- Prayer. Oh yes... every single step towards recovery is covered by prayer. I have had the benefit of strong Prayer Warriors in Mommy T, Mommy ML, Mommy Y, Mommy P and Mommy D. Knowledge and wisdom come from God. He is the one that manages everything. So, without prayer, I don't think I could have come so far.

It Works!
Guess what... it works. I think my adrenals have recovered enough that I no longer fall asleep 30 minutes after taking rice congee. As long as I don't take any gluten, I don't experience brain fog. I can cycle 9km without crashing out. Slowly I will expand the envelope of what I can do without crashing out. Hopefully, by then, I will lose weight too. The hormonal imbalances have padded me up quite a bit.

Maybe... just maybe... I don't need 24 months to get well after all. **Fingers crossed**