Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A new one

Someone fell asleep from exhaustion after sports day rehearsal at school and had to skip a tuition class. Later I asked, "What excuse are you going to give teacher if she asks why you were absent?"

Very quickly,the face lit up and with forefinger pointing up came the reply, "I had hysteria!"

Now, that's a new one for me. And I'm sure you can guess which letter in the acronym ACE that 'someone' is...and yes, she knows what hysteria is. I didn't know she did so I asked her immediately just to be sure she really knew what she was talking about!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Choosing a music syllabus for your child - an amateur musician's perspective

Today marks four years of Caitlin's musical journey with the Yamaha Music School. Her class is having a mini 'graduation' concert and party this evening. At age five, she began with the Junior Music Course(JMC) for two years, followed by the JXC. According to the website, this course helps children achieve the musical ability on the level of either Yamaha Piano Grade 9 or Yamaha Electone Grade 9. C took the Piano Grade 9 exam two weeks ago.

In the JMC, the children learn together as a group using the Yamaha Electone keyboard instrument in class as the syllabus covers more than just keyboard or piano playing. They play and sing together in an ensemble, playing/singing different parts and sometimes using different instrument sounds, hence the Electone, and not the piano, that has the capability to produce varied sounds.

They also learn solfege singing, play different percussion instruments as an ensemble to learn rhythm, learn composition to compose their own songs to play, plus develop their musical hearing skills to be able to sing and play by ear. The one-hour lesson each week is usually high-energy (teacher must be on her toes all the time!), very interactive, playing/singing together along with the teacher and CDs.

One parent is required to accompany their child in the class for the JMC course while it is optional for JXC. The parents get involved in some of the actitivities like singing, clapping, and doing actions with the kids.

I personally find this course a good one for a child to start with as it provides a good musical foundation, covering the many aspects of music to develop a child's musical ability, espcially the aural ability which develops fastest in this period.

From my personal experience, I believe that to be true. Sitting in her lessons every week over the four years, I've seen how these young kids can pick up notes with perfect pitch quite easily while I struggle to do so. I had started learning the piano when I was seven years old way back in the 70s using the Royal Schools of Music ABRSM syllabus and did not have the opportunity to develop much of my aural ability i.e. pitch recognition and playing by ear. Whatever I managed to pick up later in my teenage years was through personal interest and experimentation. I am not saying the Yamaha syllabus is the best. The different syllabus available these days are just different, that's all.

There are many music courses available nowadays, packaged in their own individual way and giving emphasis on areas they think are important. Some emphasise on building the foundations, some focus on the technical and theoretical aspects of playing a particular instrument, others think it's not even necessary to know how to read music notes and teach playing by ear only. Some are tailored specially for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, some are for school-age kids and adults, some could be more serious and exam-oriented for the possibility of tertiary-level qualification/certification, some are more for fun or leisure, etc. At higher grades, some are also recognised in university applications, contributing to credits.

Which syllabus you choose depends on what you want your child to learn and benefit, what your reasons are for wanting your child to have musical knowledge and ability. We may dream but need to face the fact that not every child can be the next Mozart, Sarah Chang, Yo Yo Ma or whoever's the hottest musician right now (I've really lost touch in this area).

In my opinion, it is better to have a well-rounded exposure to and knowledge of music to start off with. This includes singing, clapping, moving or dancing, playing percussions like the triangle or tambourine, to songs with different rhythms, tempo, and pitch. It helps develop their ability to sense the beats to the rhythm, how fast or slow, high or low, soft or loud.

Later, when they are older and have more developed motor skills for whatever the chosen instrument requires, it is not too late to focus on mastering the instrument. Prodigies aside, how well a child plays may depend on his interest in the instrument, teacher-student compatibility, his physical and motor skills suitability to the instrument and of course frequency of practice (as they say, practice makes perfect).

The weeks leading up to her Grade 9 exam were quite stressful for both her and me as C is not the diligent kind who'd be afraid of an impending exam and practise consistently. So she had to be persuaded, threatened, forced to practise, resulting in much tension. I don't know how Amy Chua of Tiger Mother fame could do what she did with her kids. It came to the point where she (and I) was on the verge of calling it quits after this JXC programme and resort to me teaching her on my own for leisure playing until such time when she is older and more ready for serious learning and exams*.

The Grade 9 exam seemed rather demanding in my opinion. What I was tested on, especially aurally, during my time in ABRSM Grade 2 was nowhere near what Yamaha Grade 9 Piano is testing students. Having said that, the ABRSM syllabus seems slightly more advanced in the area of the ability to play the piano with higher technical ability (which I personally think can be mastered quite easily anytime for any child/teenager with average intelligence, as long as the interest is there).

*While I was mentally prepared to take the 'homeschooling' route, I've been hoping that things would change once the stress of the exam is over as I felt that continuing on with the next level, the Junior Ensemble Course (JNC) would be beneficial. Last week, C agreed to continue and we've bought the materials for the course which starts next week with the same teacher. Am keeping my fingers crossed that as time goes by, she'll continue to enjoy learning music and the piano and take to exams more easily.

Here's another similar article I wrote:

Starting your child on music: Your daughter hates the violin. Get over it.

no alt
By Anna Tham
Like any new parent, I entertained my own “delusions of grandeur” during my daughter’s early childhood. I’d dream of her making a scientific discovery, becoming a celebrated author, or performing one of Paganini’s Caprices to a standing ovation.
That last one was particularly enduring when I began thinking about sending her to music lessons. Projecting our ambitions onto our kids is common and often manifests in our eagerness to put our kids through enrichment classes.
With music we become anxious about which programme, which instrument, which school, which teacher? We start comparing course content, fees, and teaching methods. We see what other parents are doing and we feel like jumping on that bandwagon too.
But before we limit ourselves to what’s popular or what others tell us is good, why not think about what’s suitable for your child; an individual with his own preferences, personality, character, and learning style. You’ll find that it’s not a case of ‘one-size fits-all’.
Was it your child himself who has asked to learn?
It’s a good sign when they articulate their choices. That means they are at the very least attracted to, and curious about music. Sometimes, that interest lasts –my daughter is now 11 and still drumming away– and sometimes we have to accept that it doesn’t.
At four years old my daughter pestered us for drum lessons. I like to think that our music sessions with cheap toy instruments helped piqued her interest.
I did secretly wish she’d chosen the violin. But that was my dream. We should know better than to live our dreams through our children.
Compulsion breeds resistance or worse still, resentment, so let him have a go at whatever instrument he chooses. If he doesn’t know, expose him to as many as possible. Go for free trial classes for an instrument or a music-and-movement class. Let him have a feel of the activity, the teacher, and the other students if it’s a group class.
Choose an instrument or music programme that your child enjoys and is comfortable with. Don’t force him to pursue what you alone think is good for him.
Think about your objectives
Is it music appreciation, general knowledge, or mastering a specific instrument that you want her to gain from music lessons? It’d be great if it was all of the above but don’t forget that learning music also develops social skills; instils discipline, commitment, responsibility, self-confidence, and teaches teamwork.
It aids younger children develop their sensory, motor and coordination skills, and even in learning a language. In the article Born to Sing: How Music Enriches Children’s Language Development, Ann Gadzikowski writes that language learning is enhanced when children experience the rhythm of music.
Look at how your child can learn and develop through music with the right perspective; not simply because it is another item to add to your must-do list in the rat race of life.
Consider what’s practical; there are no rules.
If an older child chooses an instrument, you’ll need to consider if it’s practical and suitable for him physically. A petite child may not be able to carry a large cello case by herself let alone play the instrument. Some wind instruments require suitable lip structure, and facial strength, while others require larger hands or more dexterity to play.
Also, do not stereotype, follow trends or be influenced by others. There is no rule that says every child must start at age three, or with the piano or violin, or if a particular instrument is more suited for a boy or girl.  
If your child is special, can the programme, instrument and teaching method cater to her needs? How will it benefit her? Would it be a challenge for the both of you? Or would she be bored because she is exceptionally gifted?
What is your budget? Are you ready to spend on fees or the instrument? There’s no need to buy an instrument immediately if you can make-do with one of average quality. You can upgrade later when your child progresses and shows deeper commitment.
Is the location of the music school convenient, are you able to send or make arrangements for your child to travel there? Or would you prefer a teacher that makes house calls?
Choose a programme or instrument suitable for your child considering all aspects of readiness, and how much you are willing to invest in time and money. Balance these considerations instead of going with what’s popular or convenient.
‘Audition’ the teachers as they ‘audition’ your kid
Some of us may have encountered the knuckle-knocking-sadist of a piano teacher in our childhood. Avoid them at all costs. Why subject your kid to abuse? A good teacher should should be able to relate to children and treat them with respect.
Before enrolling my daughter into a music education programme, we attended trial classes in two schools that offered the same programme. The contents of the content and methods were identical. The only difference was the teacher, and the kids in the group classes. In the end we opted for the one with the teacher to which my daughter responded well.
It always helps when the child likes the teacher. Weren’t we more open to listening and learning from a teacher we liked when we were in school?
Choose a teacher that your child can respond positively to. It may be difficult to determine if that teacher is ideal from just one trial class so let your instincts and better judgment guide you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Faulty, broken, broke!

We are one week away from the end of the first quarter of 2011. Chinese New Year came and went, school is in full swing with C taking the first exam for the school year this week. Last week's one-week school holiday zoomed by before I could even feel like it was a holiday as I helped C prepare for her piano exam and this week's school exam.

What do I recall of the first three months of this year? Lets see. Rush here, rush there with all the daily chores of a SAHM, surf the Net, write some articles, wake up at 5.30am daily and groggily prepare C's school lunch and breakfast. Nothing extraordinary. Not much time or energy to write in my blogs or pursue Cooking Thursdays. Such is the life of a SAHM who is on call 24/7. And this morning, I thought to myself - it's Friday today. Office workers will be saying TGIF! In my sleepy stupor while moving between kitchen and dining area to and fro, I coined a new acronym - SWIF - So What It's Friday?! Office workers get a break and change of scenery so to speak come Saturday. I continue what I've been doing during the weekdays over the weekend and my 'scenery' is always my home.

We've been plagued with 'irritations' around the house these few months. It started with the dripping taps in both the dry and wet kitchens. The taps are just two years old and they are supposed to be better quality ones. The part that has loosened cannot be replaced so it looked like we had to buy new ones. Luckily, we managed to improvise and added an extra washer/seal inside, which tightened and closed the gap that caused the dripping. Some $ saved.

Then my 13-year-old dryer decided to call it quits. Before it died, it was moaning and groaning as it spun. Since moving into a house, I've only used it as a backup on rainy days. Yet, due to its age, it gave up on me. I postponed repairing it for about two months. But this week has been very rainy and I figured that I should get the dryer checked to see if anything could be done. No point having a big chunk of metal taking up space and being of no service to me. Yesterday, the technician came and diagnosed a faulty motor, weathering belt and another cracking part. Original parts aren't cheap but I hope they'll last longer. When they get replaced today, it'll cost us RM600 inclusive of workmanship cost. Still cheaper than buying a brand new dryer for around RM2000.

Last month, we got a shocker from our water bill. Our regular bill monthly would be around RM20-30. The last one was RM88.15! The water company sent a technician to check the meter. He said meter is working fine, probably we have an underground or internal leak somewhere so we have to pay up. The meter continues to run even when no water is being used.

He recommended a plumber, so-called water company-certified, but obviously his crony. The young man came to make a diagnosis which cost us RM50, said an internal pipe in one of our bathrooms is leaking and would cost me RM880 to fix. I said thanks and did not call him again to fix the problem. Another plumber (one I had used before) was called in and he diagnosed a different problem. He 'fixed' it and charged me RM150 but after a few days, the meter continued its merry run even when no water is used. Called the guy again and he told me he'd come at a certain time and date. On that day he was to come, he SMS-ed and said something urgent came up, he'd come the next day at 10am. Next day, 10am, no show. My numerous calls to him went unanswered. Sigh, I just hate dealing with contractors. They are unreliable, not punctual, don't turn up as agreed, don't do a good job, dishonest, unscrupulous most of the time. Too bad I have to generalise this group of people as such because in all my dealings with them, 4 out of 5 are like this.

Two days ago, the third plumber came. This one is an older hand, balding with grey hair, English speaking and seems more trustworthy, recommended by a neighbour who sang praises of him. He came to check and diagnosed with no charge but again, his initial diagnosis was right for only one day. The meter continued running again so where the internal leak is is still a mystery. We continue to eliminate the possibilities and will have to call Mr Plumber again soon....and I wonder if and when it gets fixed, how much $ we will have to cough up. Meanwhile, I'm bracing myself for the next water bill.

Two days ago also, I discovered a slightly rotting base of a door post in my kitchen. I poked it and lo and behold, it was a happy colony of termites chewing away....Time to deal with yet another contractor. Called their 1800 number and they said they'd send someone. I'm still waiting for that someone to call and say they're coming. Inspection is free but treatment is charged according to per square foot....yikes... I'd probably call them again today and ask if they're ever coming or I'll take my business elsewhere....

Yesterday, while cleaning my two-year-old cooker hood, a plastic part of the grease collection container broke off. So the container cannot remain in its proper place to do its job. The broken piece is rather tiny I wonder if it can be Superglue-d back...Otherwise, this means calling the manufacturer of the hood to see if they sell that small little container....

So many household inconveniences to deal with, costing so much hassle and unbudgeted expenses. I need a genie in a lamp, a money tree, a fairy godmother right now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A friend indeed

There are friends whom I've known since age six. We shared much together as kids and are still very much in touch now that we're in our forties and have kids of our own. We don't spend much time together these days but nothing much has changed in terms of our friendship.

And there are friends I got to know in adulthood. We shared much together as well but it's not the quantity of time we spent together. It was the quality of whatever little time we managed to squeeze, from our busy lives as working adults and parents, to share.

Friends are treasures. True friends I mean. Those who are there with you through thick and thin no matter how long you've known them. Today, I remember one of them. We spent quality time together although the time was not decades long. In fact, it was less than a decade. Looking back, I wish we had spent more time together. And I'm very sure we would have hit it off if I had known her when I was six.

Many people loved her but God also loved her and took her home five years ago today. She continues to live in many hearts, especially in the hearts of her two Michaels here.

Jennifer - a friend indeed, among others she's known to be - loving mother, adorable wife, caring sister, filial daughter...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why am I so tired?

This is an article that answers the question.

Why Am I So Tired? 7 Causes of Fatigue

Getting plenty of sleep but still exhausted? Before you blame your multi-tasking, super-woman lifestyle, learn more about what might be at the root of your unexplained fatigue.
By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We are in the midst of a global energy crisis but it has nothing to do with oil. The problem is unexplained fatigue.

"I'm so tired; I just can't do what I used to do."

"I'd love to go but honestly, I just don't have the energy."

"Sex? You mean right now?"

If you're like most women, these phrases have become mantras, the echo of our collective yawn growing louder every day.

"The single biggest complaint I hear from my patients, day in and day out, is fatigue," says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, Director of the NYU Medical Center Women's Heart Program and associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine.

Of course, for some of us the problem is simply multi-tasking to the max and not getting enough sleep, or good quality sleep. "If you're continually logging in just 5 or 6 hours a night, it's going to catch up with you, no matter your age," says Rebecca Amaru, MD, clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

But if you are getting a healthy 7 to 8 hours a night and you're still tired, Goldberg says it's time for a check-up to uncover the causes for fatigue.

"If your fatigue goes on for more than a week and there is no explanation for feeling tired, then yes, see your doctor," says Goldberg.

While occasionally fatigue may be a sign of a serious illness, experts say most often it's caused by a minor problem, with a relatively easy fix.

To help you zero in on why you can't stop yawning, here are 7 hidden causes of fatigue -- potential health problems you should discuss with your doctor.

Fatigue Cause # 1: Anemia

"If you are in your reproductive years, and particularly if you experience heavy menstrual cycles, have fibroid tumors or uterine polyps, or if you've recently given birth, the blood loss may have caused you to develop anemia -- a leading cause of fatigue in women," says Amaru.

Problems occur, she says, when the bleeding leads to a deficiency of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body. When your tissues and organs don't get enough oxygen, she says, the result is fatigue.

Other causes of anemia include internal bleeding, or a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Anemia may also be caused by chronic diseases like kidney disease, for example. Symptoms can include dizziness, feeling cold, and irritability.

To confirm a diagnosis of anemia, your physician will give you a blood test. Treatment, she says, usually consists of iron supplements if iron deficiency is the cause, and adding iron-rich foods -- such as spinach, broccoli, and red meat -- to your diet.

Fatigue Cause # 2: Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

If you are generally sluggish, run down, and even a little depressed, Goldberg says the problem may be a slow thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck and controls your metabolism, the speed at which your body operates.

"I believe that undiagnosed thyroid disorder is one of the major female health problems in this country. I think it is even more widespread than anyone realizes," says Goldberg.

According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by age 60 approximately 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder and most won't know it. The most common cause, they say, is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This condition causes the body to destroy the cells responsible for producing thyroxin and other hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. The result is hypothyroidism, or a slow metabolism.

Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, Goldberg says synthetic hormones can bring you up to speed and you should begin to feel better fairly rapidly.

Fatigue Cause # 3: Undiagnosed Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Although most women associate a urinary tract infection with symptoms such as burning or urgency, Goldberg says in some instances fatigue may be your only clue.

"Not every woman has obvious symptoms of a UTI. Some have no symptoms or mild symptoms that go unnoticed, except for the fatigue," she says.

In most instances, a UTI is caused by bacteria in the urinary tract, often the result of improper bathroom hygiene (wiping back to front, for example). Sexual intercourse can increase the risk because it can push bacteria from the vagina into the urethra.

If your physician suspects that you have a UTI, your urine will be tested. Treatment is quick and easy, and usually involves an oral antibiotic medication. Goldberg says the fatigue will lift within a week or less.

If your symptoms return, get tested again, she says, because in some women, UTI's are chronic. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about preventive care, including low dose antibiotics.

Fatigue Cause # 4: Caffeine Overload

Many of us grab a coffee or cola for a quick burst of energy, but for some women, caffeine can have the opposite effect.

In an article published in the journal US Pharmacist, author W. Stephen Pray, PhD, RPh, reports that caffeine is a stimulant, but if you take too much, the tables can turn.

"In some patients, continued abuse results in fatigue," according to Pray. And if you think this means you simply require more caffeine to get the kick, this isn't the case. "Any attempts to solve the problem by increasing caffeine intake causes the fatigue to worsen," he says.

The solution: Eliminate as much caffeine from your diet as possible. This means not only cutting out coffee. Chocolate, tea, soda and even some medications also contain caffeine and could be causing unexplained fatigue.

Fatigue Cause # 5: Food Intolerances

While food is supposed to give us energy, some doctors believe hidden food intolerances can do the opposite. According to Rudy Rivera, MD, author of Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat, even mild food intolerance can leave you feeling sleepy. Eat the offending food long enough and you could find yourself feeling continually exhausted.

"Evidence indicates food intolerance as a cause of fatigue, and even suggests that fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance," he says.

If you suspect that food may be behind all that yawning, Rivera says to start with an elimination diet, cutting out foods that cause you to feel sleepy within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them.

Fatigue Cause # 6: Sleep Apnea

If you're not getting enough sleep, it stands to reason you'll be tired. But what if you don't know that you aren't getting sufficient sleep? This is often the case with a condition called sleep apnea -- a sleep disorder that causes you to momentarily stop breathing, often many times during the night. Each time you stop breathing, you awaken just long enough to disrupt your sleep cycle, usually without being aware of it. Your only clue, says Goldberg, is that you experience constant fatigue no matter how many hours you sleep each night.

According to Goldberg, sleep apnea, which is caused by an upper airway obstruction, often occurs in women who are overweight or obese. Snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea. Diagnosis requires a visit to a sleep lab, or to a doctor specializing in sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, your physician will recommend lifestyle changes, including losing weight and quitting smoking. Medical treatment includes devices that keep airway passages open while you sleep. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to ensure proper airway flow. Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Fatigue Cause # 7: Undiagnosed Heart Disease

If you find yourself becoming exhausted after activity that used to be easy, it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of heart disease.

According to Goldberg, when overwhelming fatigue sets in after ordinary tasks -- such as vacuuming the house, doing yard work, or commuting from work each day -- your heart may be sending out an SOS that it needs medical attention.

"This doesn't mean that you should panic every time you yawn," says Goldberg. "Most of the time, fatigue is not the first sign of heart disease, and it's usually linked to something far less serious."

At the same time, Goldberg points out that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. "If fatigue following activity is significant, and no other possible reason comes to mind, see your doctor for a check-up," she advises. If your fatigue is related to your heart, medication or treatment procedures can usually help correct the problem, reduce the fatigue, and restore your energy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spotlight on the drummer girl

C's drum teacher has been making videos of his students playing their favourite song and it's no surprise that our Justin Bieber fan chose 'Eenie Meenie' to perform in her video, posted by teacher via YouTube.

Monday, March 14, 2011

School break

The one-week break is here! We kicked it off on Saturday by dining out at a new place called The Pork Place (so much for abstinence during Lent...although I'm not Catholic). The food turned out to be nothing to shout about. C had tri-coloured spiralli with meatballs (dry meatballs and too litle gravy over the pasta), E had a pork, ham and cheese burger (tasted normal) while I had their shoulder loin steak (the crust was overdone and they should have used a better cut of meat). I took some pics but unfortunately it was with my 'new' mobile which I have yet to figure out how to send pictures or load it to the computer.

The 'new' phone saga is another story. Mobile phones don't seem to last very long these days.

C had fun yesterday. She got almost the entire collection of the Legend of the Guardians book series and set us back over RM200 unexpectedly when we dropped in at the Popular book fair at IPC shopping mall. We just need book 9 and 11 to complete the 15-book collection. For those unfamiliar with the name change (like me at first), IPC is the new name for Ikano Power Centre. Later in the evening, E and C took off to the Putra Indoor Stadium to catch the EPL Masters vs. Malaysian selection footy game. It was C's first live soccer match and she thoroughly enjoyed it according to E.

Today, C also had her first experience going to a karaoke joint. Her classmate celebrated her ninth birthday with a karaoke party. She practically hogged the mike singing Justin Bieber songs and a few Taylor Swifts. She's still sticking to her current ambition of becoming a singer I guess...At this time of writing, she is splayed out on the sofa in dreamland after her singing marathon followed by a reading marathon of book 4 of the Legend of Guardians....

Last Friday she agreed to some 'homeschooling' this week in preparation for her piano exam this Thursday and school exam next week. Monday's almost over and I wonder if 'homeschooling' will start tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've been following news of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant problem in Japan. Just a few weeks before this, Christchurch was hit by an earthquake too...Life is fragile.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A time for everything

I attended the funeral of a friend last Monday. He was one whom I never expected would leave so suddenly. On the morning when I learnt of his death from the newspaper, I had actually woken up thinking of him. It was just a few days after the major quake in Christchurch, NZ. I remember his son lived there and had thought of checking with him if his son was ok. Little did I know that he had gone to a better place the evening before without regaining consciousness from a hemorrhagic stroke. It was a beautiful ceremony for a person whose life touched many.

The song that was played just before he was wheeled out of the church for burial was the one titled Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds. It's lyrics were adapted from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (New International Version, ©2011).

Ecclesiastes 3
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

Yes, there's a time for everything. And as verse 11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

S.M., may you rest in peace. At this time, I'm also thinking of all the people I once knew and loved who have gone to a better place where I believe has no pain or suffering. I'm thinking of how our lives connected, the words, moments and lifetimes we shared. Thank you, that's all I can say.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bieber bleah!

This worldwide frenzy about Justin Bieber has reached my doorstep! While popular mass media coin it as 'Bieber fever', I feel a bit hot in a different way about this teenager that's got all our young ones bopping to his tunes. It goes without saying that his genre, if it can be considered one (how do I classify his songs? Rap? He says here that it's not a specific type of music, 'just good music'... *eyes rolling*) is meant for generation Z, not the old soul in me who prefers pre-80's music. But still, what are his songs promoting or teaching kids of this generation? Look at what's portrayed in this video and its lyrics for instance.

Eenie meenie miney mo
Catch a bad chick by her toe
If she holla (if, if, if she holla) let her go

Shes indecisive
She cant decide
She keeps on lookin
From left to right

Girl, cmon get closer
Look in my eyes
Searchin is so wrong
I'm Mr. Right

You seem like the type
To love em and leave em
And disappear right after this song.
So give me the night
To show you, hold you
Dont leave me out here dancin alone

You cant make up your mind, mind, mind, mind, mind
Please dont waste my time, time, time, time, time
Im not tryin to rewind, wind, wind, wind, wind
I wish our hearts could come together as one

Cause shorty is a eenie meenie miney mo lova
Shorty is a eenie meenie miney mo lova
Shorty is a eenie meenie miney mo lova
Shorty is a eenie meenie miney mo lova

Let me show you what your missin
With me you're winning girl
You dont have to roll the dice.....

C enjoys his tunes and the rhythm but I doubt she gives much thought to the actual meaning of what she's singing along to. But with repeated viewing of such videos and repeated singing of such lyrics, what's the subliminal effect?

She discusses with her classmates about this babyfaced-perfectly-coiffed-hair boy every now and then, and they probably get their latest info from one of the girls' older sister who together with her own classmates are also very likely suffering from the fever.... talk about viral marketing!

While we can't entirely prevent (and we're not being realistic if we do) our kids from enjoying the likes of Bieber or other negative influences, we need to prepare and strengthen them to have the right view and values relating to the opposite sex, boy-girl relationships, proper dressing and behaviour, etc.

So the fever rages on and C has asked her daddy to compile a CD of Bieber's songs (together with another new collection of Christian songs, mind you, haha!) for her to listen to in the car. Meanwhile, daddy (are you reading this, daddy?) and me have to look out for teachable moments to remind her about what's right and wrong....

Parenting, parenting, parenting - the joys and sorrows of it all.