Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Growing up w-a-a-a-y too fast?

As far as I know, the 'romance' C has been exposed to have been confined only to Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and similar 'princess' stories, innocent tales, cartoons. She's caught glimpses of the likes of tween or teen shows like Hannah Montana, High School Musical but I've not let her watch them but she knows that when people are in love, they kiss.

After returning from last weekend's birthday sleepover at her cousin's, she's been thinking aloud a few times what she wants to do for her next birthday in October.

Halloween and sleepover party. She wants to invite family and all her friends from school and kindergarten! How? So many people, I said. A few people share each bed-lah! Or we just invite the girls -- girls only party.

What design for the cake? She wants Geronimo Stilton and says I must bring the book to show the picture to the shop/baker. And games? A 'dance and kiss' game! Huh? Each girl must dance with a boy and when dancing, they kiss. But I thought you want an all-girl party? Then we should invite the boys! And I want to dance and kiss MJ (not Michael Jackson), this boy she seems to have a crush on for some time already.....

Heaven help me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Food or your life?

I read this in the news today.

When a hawker and his two customers saw a car heading at full speed towards their stall, their first instinct was not only to save themselves but also the bowls of laksa that they were eating, reported Kosmo!.

A Proton Iswara crashed into the stall after colliding with a Nissan Sentra at the junction of Kampung Guar Jentik, Beseri, near Padang Besar, on Sunday.

In the 1.30pm incident, hawker Dahli Saad, 36, was making a bowl of iced shavings while the two customers were eating laksa.

“I heard a loud bang and saw a car spinning towards my stall.

“Without thinking, I screamed and ran, carrying with me the ladle I was using. My two customers also ran for their lives, taking with them the bowls of laksa and drinks that they were having,” he said.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Values

I had a short casual conversation with Caitlin's teacher recently. This was a follow-up from an earlier conversation where I told her about a boy in her class who is a bully. The conversation veered towards parents and their values in general. She said that sometimes it's hard for teachers to correct their students when their parents themselves don't view the need for correction or share the same values which we sometimes take for granted as universal among decent human beings.

She cited an example where a boy was caught copying. When the school highlighted it to his parents, they got this reply: It's no big deal. This is from a boy whose parents are both doctors. Another case was where a boy had said bad words. When the parents were told about it, the reply was: It's okay, those are very common words these days.

So who's to blame for the current deterioration in morals and values in society in general?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Growing up too fast?

I check Caitlin's school bag daily to make sure she's brought all her homework home etc. Yesterday, I found a scrap of paper with a phone number and 'mum' written on it inside one of the pockets of her bag. She saw me taking it out and rushed to 'grab' it from me. She sometimes appears embarrassed when I discover some things she has done or said unexpectedly. So this conversation started.

"Whose number is this?"
"A friend's."
"What's your friend's name?"
"D". It is the boy who sits next to her in class.
"Why do you have his mum's number?"
"Because I want to have a date with him."
"Did he say he wanted to date you or was it you?"
"I told him I wanted to have a date with him."
"Did you ask for his number or he gave it to you?"
"He gave."
"Is he a good boy or a naughty boy?" (ha ha, I didn't know what else to say! Also, many boys in her class are 'naughty' i.e. noisy, talking while the teacher is teaching, one is a bully. And probably my thoughts started fast forwarding 10 years ahead when it's the hormones, boys and real dating phase)
"Sometimes only, not as naughty as some others."

I guess I shouldn't be too alarmed. I would like to think they are exploring the world of friendship.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good morning

E and C left two hours ago for school and work and it's all quiet now after the initial morning rush. Next, I've the day's chores ahead. While I slowly work up the motivation to get moving along, I have these to accompany me this quiet, gloomy (due to the haze) morning. Makes it even harder to get moving with such soothing music!



Monday, July 20, 2009

40 years ago on 20th July 1969



Some believe that it's not true, that it was all staged in a studio in Arizona...

Caitlin's stories

Between the ages of 3+ and 5, Caitlin was making up her own stories on quite a regular basis and I used to write them down as she narrated them to me. I compiled them in a private blog which I had not read for quite a long time and just moments ago, I remembered this blog. It's amazing how time flies, how she has grown. Reading her stories gave me a glimpse into the past about what was central in her life then, her interests, the stories, cartoons, toys and TV shows she was interested in.

This was her very first story.

Annew and The Cow
















One day, a cow came to Annew and said "I love you" and became friends with Annew. Then he said "bye bye" because he wanted to go some place else.










Suddenly, a tiger came and "roar" to eat the cow. A dog chased the tiger and bit him. The tiger died. The cow and Annew shouted "Hurray!" Annew gave the cow some milk and started a party.












A robo snake came. He wanted to join the party. The robo snake was stripy and fierce and had claws and sharp bones. He had sharp teeth and sharp eyes. Everybody said "Ahh! It's a robo snake!" The cow said "He has sharp claws and sharp bones. Don't touch him, everyone!"

Everybody went away. Annew and the cow went away too.

Tory the dinosaur killed the robo snake. He stomped on the robo snake. The robo snake died.









The end.


An original story told and illustrated by Caitlin on 3 Aug 2006 (age 3 years 10 months)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A taste of my own medicine?

We needed to get some shelving units for storage purposes and since Ikea has just started its sale, Eugene left after breakfast this morning to try and beat the crowd to get what we need. Meanwhile, I took Caitlin to Sunday School and thereafter we had a mother-daughter lunch of unhealthy fast food (Caitlin's choice) at a nearby mall. She was in luck as the kid's meal came with the Ice Age 3 toy character.

We then headed to a departmental store in the mall to shop for her cousin's birthday present. She also managed to squeeze me into getting her something. And on the way back to the car, we went past a bookstore and she ended up with a book.

On the way home, I said teasingly that she always gets something when we go out while I don't get anything at all. And she said, "At least you have what you need."

So I asked, "Like what?" And she said, "Like food and water..."

Although I was only teasing, it sounds like her reasoning was a slap back at me for all the times when I tell her not to compare herself with others who have the things she wants but to think of others who have less than her and to be thankful for what she already has!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why music education is important

Much has been said, argued, debated, opinionated about the Malaysian government's recent reversal back to using the national language of Bahasa Malaysia in the teaching of Math and English in schools. Of course, I'm against it but I'm not going to go further to share my opinion here. To 'make up' for the 'loss', they said they will also increase the hours of English instruction, without increasing classroom hours, the additional hours will be taken from other subjects, like music.

PUTRAJAYA, July 9 (Bernama) -- No extra school hours will be involved despite the additional hours alloted to the teaching and learning of English, said Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom.

He said the additional English hours would come from other subjects including music which would be shortened.

"This is to ensure that the teachers and students are not burdened," he told reporters at a press conference on "Memartabatkan Bahasa Melayu, Memantapkan Bahasa Inggeris - New Deal for the Malaysian Education System" here on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday announced that the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in national schools will be taught in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) starting 2012.

With the decision, the government opted to strengthen English by introducing additional hours for the subject.
Continues here.

Although the quality of music education in our schools is pathetic in my opinion, I feel that music education should not be of less priority. Having said that, I have little or no faith in the system that any good music education programme will see the light of day in our schools. What can one expect when even the teaching of basic core subjects like Math and Science cannot be properly implemented? Malaysia will be 52 years old this August. Where have we gone in the teaching of Math and Science in the past half century? The generation before me learnt them in English, then in my generation in the 1970s, we learnt everything in Bahasa, and six years ago, they switched to English. And in 2012, they say it's back to Bahasa. As one fellow blogger puts it, Malaysia Flip Flops.

Back to music education. I feel that if a child is not exposed to music, be it in a formal or informal way, he is really missing out on something really valuable in life. I blogged about it once before here.

I came across this report MENC—The National Association for Music Education "Music Education Facts and Figures" 2002 that I found here which outlines very clearly why music education is beneficial. Here are some excerpts:

Music is a magical gift we must nourish and cultivate in our children, especially now as scientific evidence proves that an education in the arts makes better math and science students, enhances spatial intelligence in newborns...

Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.

In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students (NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show “significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.” This observation holds regardless of students’ socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time.

Students who participated in arts programs in selected elementary and middle schools in New York City showed significant increases in self-esteem and thinking skills.

A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science.

Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that lead to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted.


And here's one Malaysian supporting music education:

The Star, Saturday July 11, 2009
Don’t sacrifice music education

It has been announced by the Education Minister that there will be cutbacks on time allocation for subjects like music in the primary school curriculum to accommodate a corresponding increase of time allocation for English.

Such fire-fighting and knee-jerk responses to solve the growing controversy over the Government’s decision on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will not offer long-term answers for a balanced curriculum.

Music is just as important as any other subject in the curriculum if a balanced approach to education is to be realised.

Music, together with the fine arts, is the soul of a nation and represents a very potent medium together with the other fine arts for a truly united Malaysia.

A civilisation is remembered not so much by how many wars it won nor by its size but by its fine arts.

Relegating music or any other arts subject to a non-important position is not the right way to improve English.

It can only damage and aggravate the existing imbalance.

Our children should no longer be treated as guinea pigs in experimental efforts to seek a better education system in Malaysia.

JOHAMI ABDULLAH,
President, Malaysian Association for Music Education.

Toe Tapper

One of the two songs (among a list of other requirements) Caitlin is to practise for her EXAM!!! Her teacher taught her this on Monday and till today she has yet to start practising, and next Monday is her lesson again....As usual, Miss Leave-It-To-The-Last-Minute will wing it in class and get away with it from her kind and tolerant teacher.

Training Rusty

Found the info below in this site.

Teaching Your Miniature Schnauzer to Stay

Put your dog in a sit or down position, then step in front of him, holding a flattened palm to his face. Look him in the eye and say “Stay” in a firm voice.

After a second of motionlessness, lean down and mark “Yes!” and treat him. Then say “Okay,” which will be the release command from “Stay.”

Eventually work up to more time in the stay, then vary the time you ask for, so that your schnauzer doesn’t learn to stay only for a set amount of time.

The crucial thing is to treat while your mini schnauzer is in the stay, not after, or he’ll think that you’re rewarding the release.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sneaky

When it comes to work, Caitlin is very clever in finding ways to avoid it. Yesterday, I asked her to revise her studies as this week, her teachers are giving tests.

Caitlin: No need, I'm good at it already.
Me: Ok, we'll see how well you do after the test.

Ten minutes later,
Me: Caitlin, let's practise your piano before you go for your lesson.
Caitlin: No, how about revising my Bahasa Malaysia...test tomorrow. That's more important, right?
Me (rolling my eyes): Ok, revise then.

Internet at the new house

Since moving to this new house on March 7, I had been going back to our old home about 5km away about twice weekly to use the computer. This was because our telco provider has exhausted all the ports/cables whatchamacallits allocated for our new housing area despite the fact that occupancy rate is currently probably around 80%. One would assume that they would have allocated enough phone lines for all homes here which number only 345 units compared to larger housing areas with thousands of houses. So it's been four months now that we've been waiting for a fixed line which also serves as the line for Internet access. We first applied for it through an agent a week after moving in and two months later, we applied for another line directly from the service provider. Till today, both lines have yet to reach our doorstep. Earlier on, I kept calling every now and then to check on status but after the second month of waiting, I gave up.

As for wireless Internet servicce by the various private telcos and ISPs, none of their services were reliable in this new housing area and even the latest, hottest provider P1 Wimax has yet to provide coverage here. Finally, the one that Eugene works for has provided coverage here and today, I am blogging for the first time from the new house using wireless internet. Since this morning, the connection has been good i.e. no dropped line. As for speed, although it cannot compare to the one I had at the old place, it is currently fast enough for me to do the necessary online activities, such as check email, go to some websites like my blog, others' blogs, news sites, and Facebook. I've yet to see how good it is for places like YouTube and other graphics-heavy sites.

At least now I have the computer and Internet anytime I wish and not plan my visits to the old place to coincide with running errands around that area etc. and I can put my thoughts here again as and when the inspiration arises. This blog has left out quite a lot of 'moments' of the life of ACE the past four months. I've also somewhat given up on online income since not having the computer at my disposal. Not that I was getting much in the past but the momentum just died after moving to the new place. I have been bogged down by adjusting to the new routine of getting things in order around the house and new travel routes and timing to school, extra curricular activities, grocery shopping and checking out places for food and amenities etc after moving. I also have a larger house area to attend to (3388 sq ft vs 1422 sq ft), one active, growing young dog, a small garden plus next door neighbours on both sides who are currently renovating (read dust, loud noises from drilling and demolishing walls!)

Not to mention the never-ending responsibility as driver, cook, cleaner, laundry person, homework supervisor, piano and drum practice teacher, disciplinarian, dog trainer, fish feeder, garderner. Why can't the job as a housewife, homemaker, stay-home mum, or however you may refer to it, be 9 to 5, salaried with medical and other fringe benefits like paid leave, meal and entertainment allowances etc etc.?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Computer says goodbye to condo

In a few minutes time, I will be unplugging the computer and unravelling all the connecting cables, packing them into my car, going to fetch Caitlin from school and then head home. Hopefully later tonight, Eugene can set it up at our 'study' and connect it to his slower-than-this-one wireless broadband. Hopefully by tomorrow morning I can access the internet from home and come less often to the condominium.

I'm hoping to rent out this place by next month.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nothing exciting

How time flies. It's been a week since I posted something here. Unlike a few months ago before I moved house, I used to sometimes write up to three posts in a day in this blog. That was when the computer and Internet access was just within ten footsteps from wherever I was in the house. Now, I drive about 5km to my computer to get my social networking and Internet surfing fix. Yes, still no fixed line for phone and Internet at the new place. We have wireless broadband access that is slower than this current one I'm using. It should do in the interim but we've yet to find the time to move the computer over....So in the meantime, it's one blog post per week on the average.

This certainly limits my flow of words. There are moments when I think of something to write but the computer is not within reach and by the time I reach it like now, I've forgotten what it was I wanted to say or the 'fire' has died down.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Capoeira

We felt that Caitlin needs more exercise to build up her stamina. I checked out a dance and exercise studio that is next door to her art and crafts school in our neighbourhood and found out that they have capoeira classes. We took her for a free trial lesson last Friday. She enjoyed it very much, doing all sorts of physical activities and learning some basic movements. The class has a few kids, teenagers and adults. It is the kind of physical activity I think she'd enjoy. She's always raved about martial arts like kung fu and taekwondo since her kindergarten days when she had some classmates taking those classes, and of course after watching Kung Fu Panda. She'd be making pseudo kung fu moves and play acting. And since she also loves music, I think capoeira suits her as music is an essential element in this Brazilian artform.

After the trial class, we asked her if she enjoyed herself (despite being totally tired out after the one-hour session), she said she did and wanted to return for another session. So we've signed her up for weekly lessons. We'll have to wait and see how it all works out in the larger scheme of things of getting her more active and how it'll benefit her overall physical, mental, social, etc, etc development.

YouTube has videos of capoeira.