Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Notes

Last week:
1. Sis-in-law and her two girls, 2 and 5 years arrived from the States. Helped them get some documents settled at the Indonesian Embassy in Jln Tun Razak. Took a lot of patience putting up with the embassy's inefficiencies and crowded waiting area. Also took them for some fun at Aquaria KLCC. The two older girls i.e. my older niece and C, were bickering all the time. Both are the 'cannot-lose-face' type. The younger niece loves dogs so Rusty was a hit with her.

2. Attended E's nephew's second birthday brunch followed by funtime for the kids at BSC's Jungle Gym. C tried rollerblading for the first time. She tried 'balancing' more than 'rollerblading'.

This week:
1.C complained of ear pain when her earlobe is tugged on Sunday evening after the busy and fun weekend. Took her to the doc but he could not find anything wrong. Suspected slight wax buildup, took her temp and detected mild fever. She went to school OK on Monday but by the afternoon, the fever was more pronounced. Kept her from music lesson that evening i.e. second week in a row she's skipped lessons (last week was due to school exam).

2. Kept C from school since yesterday. She had slight runny nose and some phelgm but no sore throat. Today, her temp has stabilised although still rather mild fever (37.3 or so), her nose clear. She seems almost back to normal. Been homeschooling her these few days to catch up with her music and also to complete her school science project which is due next Monday.

3. Today, a classmate of hers has been confirmed to have H1N1 flu. I hope this is not the virus C is infected with. School called to announce closure of her class tomorrow (Thursday). Friday happens to be a public holiday (Wesak). Class resumes next Monday. Inclined not to send her back to school assuming she's recoverd by then since her immunity is on the low and it's the last week of school before the term break on 5th June. She's fallen sick with some viral infection three times within these two months.

4. Have been plagued with aching and stiff shoulder and neck. May be due to lack of exercise, stress and not enough rest with all the family activities, obligations, and the usual needful responsibilities of a housekeeper, tutor, disciplinarian, chauffeur, cook, laundry expert, nurse, child and pet minder, etc, etc.

Hence, this post is 'unconversational'.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How often does your family get together?

E comes from a family of five. I also come from a family of five. Expand that to include spouses and kids and the number more or less doubles or triples. To be exact, there are 14 members in E's family, including ACE. In my family, there are 12 of us, including ACE. Combined, they total 23. E's family all live in this country and this city while only one of my two brothers live here. My parents live in another state.

I'm glad it's only 23 of us altogether. E's family is big on celebrating events. Birthdays, anniversaries, mother's/father's day, baptisms, Easter,Chinese New year, Christmas...14 family members means about least 13 birthday celebrations (we don't celebrate mine with the extended family) and say another 6 other gatherings throughout the year, plus maybe one family holiday together, makes 20 gatherings. This averages out to one gathering every 2.6 weeks in a year, if my math is right. I can't imagine if the family were to be any bigger, how many parties we could be having...

My side of the family is not as gung-ho about celebrations. If we are able to get together for someone's birthday, it's well and good. Otherwise we'll just call and wish them and pass them their present the next time we meet. It's only these past few years, we try harder to celebrate birthdays, mainly for the kids. One of my brothers lives abroad so that more or less brings down the frequency of all-in-the-family gatherings by a large percentage. He and his family returns about once every two years. Even then, sometimes due to work commitments, he or other family members like E or my other brother are not able to join the gathering since we all don't live in the same city.

As for the main festive celebration that my family celebrates, i.e. Chinese New year, it's been rather quiet for many years now since my older bro lives abroad and I'm married 'out' (Chinese tradition requires the woman to celebrate it with the in-laws first and then later with her own family). That leaves my parents having reunion dinner with only one son, daughter-in-law and one grandson.

While it's nice to strengthen family ties with our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, there are times when I wish there's more time for ACE to just spend it by ourselves. The days go by very quickly. Most days, especially weekdays, it's a rush in the early morning to get to work and school. We only wish each other good morning, good bye and hurriedly exchange instructions, reminders or info about our day's schedule. Then I'm alone at home with whatever I need to do. Later after I pick up C from school, it's more verbal exchange about schoolwork, revision, music practice, and going out for extra curricular activities. Then it's dinner with C only, as E returns home much later, only on time (sometimes not) to put C to bed. Then I go to bed, he walks Rusty and watches TV.

Where is the time for us to communicate properly and grow together as a small family of three I wonder....Sometimes I also wonder who I am, a house-wife/mother or just a house-keeper.

I'm only thankful we don't come from families that number in the 50s or 100!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exam week

It's exam week this week for C. She didn't study as hard as I would have liked her to. I'm saying that because when I was her age, I was a real goody-two-shoes kid. I'd revise my lessons daily on my own initiative when I was as young as seven years old. And I did my homework immediately after lunch upon returning from school. I also went through the next day's lessons sometimes. Come exam time, I would have started preparing weeks ahead, and later in teenage years, for major exams, I'd have started revision months ahead with a proper schedule drawn up and counted down the days even.

C is different. She refuses to revise daily, and has to be coaxed, persuaded, threatened (and when I run out of ideas, ignored) to do her homework. For the past month, I've tried getting her to revise ahead. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Last year, she revised each subject only on the day before or the morning itself of the exam!

I guess I shouldn't be over-anxious or kiasu as she's only in Year 2 this year and most of the lessons are easy enough for her to grasp. Her only weakness is Bahasa Malaysia (and Mandarin). If not for that, I think she'd do better in some of the subjects that are taught in BM. Of course it's every parent's dream for their child to score straight A's but we have to be realistic. Imagine pushing the child when she's not up to it or just not wired to excel in some areas. And I also don't want to send her to all the various tuition classes at the expense of her physical, mental and emotional health.

(These classes also don't come cheap. Imagine how many thousands of ringgit you'd be spending if you were to send a child to Kumon or Enopi, art class, Bahasa, Mandarin, computer, piano/music, ballet, taekwondo, swimming etc etc. And what if you have more than one child? The stay-at-home mother would then just be driving the kids here and there all day, all week. I guess it's ok if you have money growing out of your nostrils and all the time in the world to dedicate to your kids, and when you don't have to cook and clean and have hired help to pick up after you. Maybe I'd go down that road when I'm rich enough too! Pay others to teach my kid then I don't have to be stressed out trying to teach her with love and patience. Haha...)

As for Mandarin, I'm not pushing her too much on that. I'm not one who thinks it's a must to learn Mandarin because we are Chinese or because China is booming as everyone says and therefore it's 'good' and you'd have more 'opportunities' if you know Mandarin. Mandarin is a good language to learn, just as any other foreign language but I personally think it's no point forcing it on the child with a do-or-die attitude. I'm letting her pick it up at her own pace.

C is a self-confident kid. She does not fear tests or exams. I think that's good. No stress, no panic. She even watched tv and re-read a number of her story books yesterday. She also told me she's not over-confident, just 'normal' confident when I didn't even ask or say that she was.

In the past two weeks, I managed to get her to work on a reasonable (i.e. more than last year) amount of practice questions, mainly for Bahasa, Math and a bit of Science. We didn't read through her text books or exercise books. I don't think she needs practice for English. We'll cross the bridge when we come to Mandarin which is scheduled on the last day. And since Kesihatan and Moral are in BM, she did revise but how much she understands and remembers is left to be seen.

This morning she waved goodbye and blew me a kiss as usual as they drove off to school and work. She added "I'll try my best!". That's good, and it's all I'm asking for. I guess we've reminded her enough times for her to know that we'd be happy as long as she did her best.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to all mamas

It's Mother's Day today. For me, any day can be Mother's Day. It's a matter of being thankful for our mothers all the time. But I guess we all need to make just one day really special because we are all rather forgetful. It's just like a birthday. Every day can be our birthday too, to remember and be thankful to God and our parents for bringing us into this world, for giving us the lives that we have.

Today started off pretty much the same as any other Sunday for me. Did the laundry, had breakfast, sent Caitlin to Sunday School, tried to get the car's rear wiper replaced (but the shop didn't have the right one), went to the car wash, had lunch at home, tea at home with my parents who dropped in for a short while, watched a tearjerker, Hachiko, starring Richard Gere for the second time in 24 hours with C and E (first time for him). Then finally, we went out for Mother's Day dinner.

We ended up in Alexis at the Gardens in Mid Valley. The creamy baked mushrooms, bruschetta and clam chowder were yummy. C and E shared a seafood spaghettini with mussels, prawns and calamari in a tomato sauce base, which came wrapped in baking paper. When opened, the steam just drifted out, releasing the warmth and aroma of the dish. I had the wagyu beef cheeks with rocket salad and mash potatoes. The beef was super tender and cooked in red wine sauce which was a bit too sweet for my liking. Caitlin took a bite and said it was too sweet too.

Caitlin had a good appetite and downed the bread and creamy mushrooms and clam chowder. She also had quite a good helping of the spaghettini although she complained of slight spiciness due to some bits of black pepper inside. Her tastebuds are very sensitive and can detect even one tiny speck of pepper....

A visit to Mid Valley is not complete for Caitlin if she doesn't spend some time at the games arcade at the Jusco departmental store. She negotiated for three games only so we gave in to her request.

By the time we got home, it was past her bedtime. As I'm typing this, it sounds like she has fallen asleep, and probably the daddy who tucks her in with a bedtime story every night has also given in to the toll of the heavy dinner. I must add that he had a large slice of tiramisu all to himself for dessert while C and I shared a glass of carrot juice.

So tomorrow, another school and work week begins. It's revision week before mid-year exams start for Caitlin the following week. Getting her to hit her school books for the exam is tough. She finished two new story books this weekend, each in one sitting within an hour - one yesterday, the last instalment of the How To Train Your Dragon series and another today, Thea Stilton's latest adventure - the Ghost of the Shipwreck (or some title like that). But getting her to pull out a textbook and spend 15 minutes studying is harder than drawing blood from stone!

Monday, May 3, 2010

For All You've Done

This is one of Caitlin's favourite songs she learnt from school. She's not watched this video yet but I guess it's the kind of song she'd base her dream band on.

Singer in a band

In her kindergarten days, Caitlin's ambition included being a veterinarian, astronaut and rock drummer. Of late, she's been harping on becoming a zoologist and singer. She's always liked animals so the veterinarian and zoologist bits are not a surprise. She enjoys music too and in her early days of drumming, she had more passion for the instrument. Now that the lessons are getting harder and she has to take exams and realises she has to practise harder, her dreams of being a rock drummer has somewhat been put on hold.

However, she likes singing a lot too. She enjoys singing the songs she learnt at school and music lessons, and those we play in the car (and she sings them with deep, animated expression at times, and even dances along when she can!), Sometimes I'll accompany her on the piano and let her sing.

So now, she says she wants to be a singer, not any singer, but a singer in a band of her own. A Christian band, called The Singers of Christ... haha...I guess she loves singing all those lively and nice songs she learns from chapel lessons at school. She wants to play the guitar and sing in the band, so she says she wants to learn to play the guitar....Of course we told her she's still too young and her fingers are not ready for that instrument. Maybe when she's older we said. Actually I think she is old enough to learn, but we are certainly not going down the path of a third musical instrument looking at how stressful it is for ME to guide her in her drum and piano practises!

Out of curiosity, I started google-ing "how to form a band" and unsurprisingly, there are lots of tips online on how you can do that.

I think it is important to allow the child to dream and encourage them. We always tell her she can be anything she wants to be. She must however work hard at it to be successful. She must always try her best. Kids dream so freely, believing that anything is possible. Meanwhile, we adults who have experienced more setbacks and failures have become less daring in dreaming. That should not be the case in fact. People who chase their dreams can achieve them. What's stopping us most times are the excuses we tend to make, the fear of change, of making sacrifices, of failure, of embarrassment if things don't work out, and all the 'what ifs'. Sometimes our kids can teach and remind us of a thing or two. In this case, it's about having dreams and working to make them come true.

For inspiration and motivation, I turn to google again. We can get tons of quotes and sayings such as:

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
~ Henry David Thoreau

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

And not forgetting Cinderella's song "A Dream is a Wish". Here's a modernised version by the Disney channel stars:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Who cares if this makes sense or not

When people are in the company of others they perceive as non-threatening, they are bolder in speaking their mind. They are quicker in making conclusions, and giving their two cents' worth regardless of whether it is necessary or unnecessary. Sometimes what they say reflects back on themselves. They give others certain impressions of themselves, especially negative impressions.

Somehow, people tend to see more of the negatives and less of the positives of a person. I wonder why. Why do we not give others the benefit of the doubt? Why do we judge others too quickly?

It's best to keep our mouth shut sometimes. When it's not necessary to speak, isn't it best to just be quiet? It doesn't mean that if we're quiet, we're weak. There's no need to have a comment for everything, especially if it doesn't add any value, enrich the ambience, your relationships, or help others around us.

We just need to trust and respect others as how we expect others to do the same for us.

If we don't want others to put milk in our tea, then we musn't put sugar into their coffee, assuming they don't take sugar!