Thursday, June 28, 2007

News today that made me think

I decided this morning that I would not rush to complete my household chores. As a result, I had the rare opportunity to savour the newspaper and read more of it. Two articles caught my attention and got me thinking about the country I live in and the people who run it. I shall not share my thoughts here as it is pretty hard to put into words, and if I did, I think some parts have to be 'censored'.

Read them if you have time. What do they tell you?

NRD almost spoils the day for would-be couple

Quest for peace

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A new mobile phone, a new century

Eugene came home last night with a new mobile phone for me. My old Nokia which I inherited from him has definitely seen better days. It has survived my crude handling, and a crack on its casing is getting larger over time. It had also gone swimming in my jeans pocket, it wasn't in the washing machine. It was a swimming pool, but that's another story (some of you should remember why I went into a pool in my jeans!)

The new phone is another Nokia, a newer model with more features than I think I'll ever need. When Eugene asked me what type of phone I wanted a couple of weeks back, I told him I just needed one to make and receive calls and SMS. And preferably one with a camera so that I could take pictures on the go without having to lug our rather bulky digicam along everytime.

So he got me a black Nokia N73 which has a camera and other features for downloads, web service, music and who knows what else (Call me simple and practical, as you can tell, I'm not crazy about over-featured gadgets). I was simply happy to get a new phone to be able to get around in this modern world. Caitlin was near ecstatic when she overheard the 'new phone' conversation. She went, "A new phone?!! Wow, it's coooool. Does it have games?"

Kids nowadays are so different from the time when I was a kid. The only phone I knew then was a black table-top type with a circular dial which went 'clack, clack, clack' when it retracted after you dialled the number. Even then, not everyone had one in their homes. We had one and I remember many neighbours and friends from the 'kampung' nearby used to come over to borrow our phone to make calls.

The games I played were home-made, for e.g. 'five stones', 'hantu galah', a skipping-jumping game using rubber bands strung together to make a long 'skipping rope', and kicking some contraption made of chicken feathers stuck to a small circular rubber base. Sometimes that was substituted with a bunch of frangipani flowers tied together with a rubber band. The TV images were black and white (colour only came when I was in Standard 5)and we never ever thought games could be played using a TV or a phone. And a computer? It never existed then, what more a PDA.

My almost-five-year-old daughter now talks to people using a mobile phone,and a cordless phone, plays various games on her dad's mobile phone and PDA, and the computer and TV. When I was five, I lived in the 20th century. Caitlin was born in the 21st century. I can already see a generation gap. I wonder what it'll be like for Caitlin's children towards the mid-21st century. Hopefully grandma Anna will still be around to blog about it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dance little lady, dance...

We have a showgirl in our hands. Caitlin loves dancing to some of her favourite songs. This video of her at one of her best was a spontaneous one taken last night. She was engrossed in colouring a picture when she heard her favourite song, the Teen Titans theme song, playing. She leapt out of her chair and got grooving. Have fun watching this. We were pretty tickled watching her 'engage' with the camera when we were shooting it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New job for Eugene

Eugene has just started a new job at a local telco company. Now he's back to what we call the 'client's side' (if you're familiar with that term). For the past ten plus months, he was with an advertising agency with emphasis on interactive marketing and prior to that, with another ad agency after eight to nine years in broadcasting.

Now that I look back, his career seems to be swinging between client and consultancy, having worked in market research firms and ad agencies, and also doing marketing and promo-related work on the corporate side for many years.

I on the other hand have always shunned joining a consultancy. I doubted if I could stoop to the demands of sometimes idiotic clients so I chose to remain on the corporate side, enduring the demands of in-house 'clients' instead!

Do wish him the best.

Work and Wealth

I was in the lift going up to my apartment upon returning from the market when a lady stepped in. She smiled and said to me "How nice to be a homemaker, no need to go to work". I smiled back and told her that I still work, but from home. By then, the lift doors opened. I had reached my floor and had to step out.

In my mind, a homemaker still works. The only difference is that the work involves household and family-related work at home instead of company or business-related work in an office. It could still also involve business-related work if one chooses to telecommute, freelance or have a home-based business.

The advantages are that I have more flexibility in terms of time, and am boss of my own. I have the choice to work as much as I want to, realise my full potential and earn as much as I'm worth and am able to. In a job, most bosses and companies are not able to provide for that. You are governed by your job scope and are worth only as much as the number of hours you put in and the results you show based on that. There are people who are really happy in their job, passionate about it and jump out of bed every morning shouting "Hurray! Another exciting day at the office!", but how many are?

Why are most people in a job? For money, survival, to put food on the table, personal satisfaction, out of obligation or expectation, to not waste the degree they had earned and their parents' or their own hard-earned dollars to send them to school.....? The list of reasons could be a mile long but I guess, the main reason for most people would be for money, in order to achieve or obtain other things in life - to meet at least the basic material needs, to save for a rainy day, to give their family a better or more comfortable life, to be able to afford nice holidays, good education for the kids....

How much money is enough? Some say they don't want too much and can settle for a simple life. Some say they want as much as possible. What is the true meaning of wealth? I came across this article which perspective I find pretty clear, and one of the quotes in the article stood out to me: "Where we spend our money discloses our true values, what we hold important."

I would want as much money as possible, not because I'm money-minded and simply want to be rich, but because I think there's a lot we could do with money, based on the quote I just mentioned.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Video - Caitlin's Drums Debut

Here it is. The video which I said earlier I would share here. It is of Caitlin playing the drums at her first lesson last week.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Making breakfast for Daddy

Caitlin's school celebrated Father's Day (this Sunday) today. They invited all fathers to the school for the children to make and serve them a breakfast of crabstick salad roll with tea. Here are pictures of Caitlin making it for Eugene. Happy Father's Day to all fathers, grandfathers, fathers-in-law, godfathers and fathers-to-be!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Caitlin starts drum lessons

After some consideration on whether or not we should start Caitlin on drum lessons, we took the plunge. Caitlin had been showing strong interest in drums since age 3+, constantly playing her assortment of toy and real drums at home, making 'joyful noise' when she was really into it. She had sometimes even taken my metal pots and covers (to be used as cymbals) to add them to her ensemble (which to our initial surprise she had arranged exactly like a full drum set). My pots have proof of that with many identations from her drum sticks. And everytime we asked her what her favourite musical instrument is, the answer was the drums....

Our initial concern was her age and possible lack of the right motor skills required for drum playing. We had asked some music centres what the right age was and most told us it would be better at age eight. So we put it on hold and continued to pursue musical experience through Kindermusik and presently, the Yamaha Junior Music Course.

We were lucky to have had a dedicated and helpful Kindermusik teacher whom I later consulted upon finding out that her four-year-old son is learning the drums. As she had been teaching Caitlin for almost two years, she had a good idea of Caitlin's musical ability and said she could give me her son's teacher's contact if I was interested (Thanks Sue!). We took Caitlin to see the teacher and another one at a music centre for them to assess if she is ready and teachable.

The one at the centre said she is "great for her age" but was concerned that if we started her too young she would lose her interest totally if she couldn't keep up or do well. He had a student like that before. The other teacher also said she is good and has a good sense of rhythm. He however felt that she is ready to be taught.

We decided to let Caitlin start because we felt that this teacher is good with kids and his teaching methods are unique and kid-friendly as opposed to the normal serious, technical method. He also teaches special children such as those with Down Syndrome and ADHD. We were also reluctant to hold back her interest for fear of it waning if she had to wait too long.

Caitlin's first lesson came and went last Saturday evening. We were all quite excited. Teacher Andrew said she played well for her first lesson and he even videotaped it. I hope to be able to share the video clip with you here when I get it from him.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How are cars made?

This was Caitlin's question-of-the-day when we were on our way to her music lesson. It aroused my curiosity so I decided to do a search and came upon this five-minute video from the Toyota manufacturing plant in Kentucky.

I just realised that Caitlin is always asking how things are made.

Yesterday: How do you make play-doh?
Sunday: How do you make gingerbread?
Others in the past I can recall right now: How did God make humans? How do you make choc chip cookies? How do you make ice cream? How is cloth made? How do you make toothpaste? How does the baby come out from the tummy? How does the breast make milk for the baby? (I wonder when the question of how a baby is made will come, and I wonder how I shall answer that!)

Now that I've found this website called Cool Stuff Being Made, I think I'll check it out further to see what interesting info they have.

And on the way home from dinner, she asked me, "What is a coconut monkey?" My answer: A monkey that plucks coconuts? Her answer: A monkey that is made out of a coconut...Why did I think it was a real live monkey she was referring to? Now that I think about it, there is logic to that. A paper doll is a doll made out of paper, so coconut monkey....

Wednesday girls' night out

It sure looks like Wednesdays will be girls' night out day for Caitlin and me as Eugene returns home late. Last week, Caitlin decided she wanted a pasta dinner after her music lesson and since I had run out of pre-prepared frozen portions, I took her to the nearby Secret Recipe (a local franchise known for its cakes and has expanded to cafe-type food). Luckily, they had a prawn-mushroom macaroni on the menu. Caitlin's fave food is pasta with 'white' sauce i.e. the carbonara version or the creamy, cheesy type so she chose the only 'white' one which turned out to be the most expensive among all the pasta about having expensive taste!

This morning, I reminded her that she has music lesson this evening and the request for a pasta dinner again at Secret Recipe was instantaneous. Last week, she polished almost the entire serving and left me with too little to fill my tummy (I usually order one serving as it is enough for both of us). Today, I decided to have my own dish, grilled chicken with mushroom sauce, and she decided only half her macaroni was enough for her. Now I feel like a beached whale.

We are home now and she pretty much wants to do her own strong-headed thing while I'd prefer if she eats some fibre (fruits) vs. what she calls "dessert" (ice cream). I can hear her out there at the dining table smacking her lips in satisfaction while I sit here typing, feeling tired and defeated.

She just came to me to display her ice cream-coated mouth and smeared Tshirt...I have to replenish my supply of stain remover after tomorrow's laundry load. I now have to go supervise teeth brushing!