Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I (yes, me!) survived the first week of school holiday

Last week, I survived the first week of C's school holiday pretty well. In between some piano practice and BM tuition, she watched TV, read, and made breakfast. I'm glad she enjoyed doing some stuff in the kitchen and I hope this will be the beginning of some independence in the near future where breakfast is concerned, especially on weekends when we are not rushing to get to school on time.

Before the school holiday, she had made a potato soup for dinner. Then she made pancakes (as mentioned in the preceding post), omelet(twice), and Milo. Over the weekend, she made a pineapple upside down cake (with my supervision) by following the recipe I provided.

I hope to continue to get her excited about cooking simple food in the next few weeks.

While E was travelling for work for four days last week, we were left with E's duty of what he terms as 'poop patrol' i.e. taking Rusty out for his night-time walks. While I walked him and used un-Earth-friendly plastic bags, C cycled.

We also went out for lunch twice in malls and did some window shopping (which I didn't enjoy because I kept hearing complaints of boredom if we were not looking at kids' stuff!).

Monday was a public holiday so E did not have to go to work. I had managed to get a good deal I found on Groupon, and we went to a new karaoke place at a new mall with a mum I know from school and her kid, C's friend. The kids enjoyed themselves singing their favourite songs, while we adults also chipped in with our oldies, sentimental hits, ballads and some contemporary ones. Of course, C had to sing songs by her favourite singers Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift besides this one that the two kids kept singing repeatedly.

Yesterday was spent at home. C read and played with her four-year-old cousin who visited in the morning.

Apart from going to the supermarket this morning for some grocery shopping, we've been at home today. C's busy filling in her journal, and 'writing' by pasting cut-out letters from old magazines ala scrapbooking.

The weather is gloomy and I feel sleepy......

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Smile and/or shudder - school holiday starts today!

The six-week year-end school holiday officially starts TODAY! C woke up and it was obvious that she was happy as she was drawing pictures in a notebook (yet another new one...aargh!). She announced happily that today is the first day of the school holidays, and said she'd like pancakes for breakfast when I asked. I told her she should make it herself because I was feeling lazy. In the end, she sort of did with some help from me. She measured out the flour, baking powder, got the eggs, read and followed the recipe, mixed the batter, set the table and even washed the utensils used in the preparation. I was surprised she did all that without me asking! Must be the holiday 'angin' ('crazy' wind). She found the teddy bear-shaped mould and said we could make the pancakes in that shape, so we did.

After breakfast, she went back to her drawing and reading while I put out the laundry and did some gardening. So far today, because we're all busy, we've not got into each other's hair but I shudder on the thought that we've another six weeks to go! I've a few activities planned for her with a few classmates and their moms but they're just a few....I guess I'll have to have a few more up my sleeve. Together with practising her musical instruments and going for music lessons plus attending BM tuition and hopefully doing some homework, I'm hopeful that the six weeks will zip by very quickly. And there's also having to go to school to pay next year's fees, buying school books and uniforms, shopping for Christmas presents for family.

My parents have plans to go on an overseas holiday starting Dec 23 and my dad has offered to sponsor us to go along. Dec 23 is the only time they are free as my brother and sis-in-law have taken leave from work to look after their son, whom my parents help care for on weekdays when they are at work. As much as I'd like to take up my dad on his offer, it's not so feasible as that would mean being away at Christmas, i.e. not spending Christmas with E's family who celebrates it in a routinely traditional way every year....

It's a dilemma. I want (or rather need!) to go on holiday and spend time with my side of the family because we hardly do so, yet there's the other family I'm married to to consider....E's family spends way more time together compared to mine. They find reason to get together and celebrate every occasion - birthdays, anniversaries, festivals/religious events, Mother's/Father's Day, and there's 15 family members altogether so you can imagine how many get-togethers there are (and how much time and money is spent on food and presents...)

As I was in the garden this morning, I came across two small butterflies mating so I told C she should come and take a look. It was a 'National Geographic' moment as we observed the butterflies moving about together on a leaf as if they were doing a waltz :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A fun day, especially for C

Again, WOW! Another week has passed me by so quickly! The activities at school are finally coming to an end with this week being the last week of school before we break for six weeks. Today, C is off on her field trip to a chocolate factory and ceramic art place.

Yesterday, E and I attended C's school annual Speech Day & Concert. We didn't stay right up to the end as towards the finale, they were giving out prizes to the older kids. As it was almost time for lunch, we decided to head to Mid Valley Megamall which was about 10 minutes' drive from the concert venue. We hoped to get tickets to our much-awaited Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn as we didn't manage to make any online bookings.

After parking our car, we headed straight for the cinema and luckily, there was hardly any queue as the peak lunch hour crowd had yet to appear. We got tickets for the 3D version for the 2.10pm show. We then headed to lunch and dropped by MPH bookstore as we had some extra time before the movie.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, directed by Steven Spielberg, is a movie adaptation of the popular comic series by Georges Prosper Remi, better known by the pen name Hergé,a Belgian comics writer and artist.

Tintin comics have been one of my favourites during my childhood days when I used to borrow them from the school library and friends to read. I doubt I ever managed to finish reading all the comics in the series as such books were not so readily available in smalltown Melaka back then in the 70s and 80s. Now you can find the individual comic books in hardcover and paperback, and also the 3-in-1 hardcover collection in major bookstores in the city. And thanks to YouTube, I can also catch up on the stories in cartoon version for free without having to buy the books or DVD. There are quite a lot of episodes lasting between 20 to over 40 minutes uploaded by some YouTube members who are obviously Tintin fans too.

Here's the episode for Secret of the Unicorn.

C has also been enjoying Tintin for some time now as I had bought a few of the comics for her when they were on sale, and she gets the rest from her school library and friends. One classmate even gave her Tintin and The Land of Black Gold last month as a birthday present!

So the three of us thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Since it was a weekday and at an odd hour, the theatre wasn't full house. The pros to that was we didn't have to get caught in any crowds queuing to get our 3D glasses and to enter and find out seats. We had chosen a short row and had the whole row to ourselves. The cons to a less-than-half full theatre was that the aircon got very cold with less body heat to 'share'. Luckily C had her jacket on and I had brought my pashmina and we ended up huddled together under it.

The movie is entertaining, especially if you're familiar with the characters like Tintin, his wire-haired fox terrier Snowy, Captain Haddock and the Thomson and Thompson twins. However, the storyline is not entirely true to Herge's version. For example, in the movie, Tintin met Captain Haddock for the first time on the latter's ship, but in the actual comic, it was in the Crab with the Golden Claws episode that they met. And the bad guy (like many movies, there must be at least one!), Mr Sakharine, was not a descendant of the pirate Red Rackham and did not live in the Haddock family mansion Marlinspike Hall. Captain Haddock did not regain ownership of the mansion in Secret of the Unicorn. It was in the episode of Red Rackham's Treasure that Professor Calculus bought back the mansion for Captain Haddock if I'm not mistaken. Also, there was no Madame Castafiore in Herge's Secret of the Unicorn. Okay, I guess it's enough for now lest I reveal any spoilers!

I've to go hang out laundry now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Activity-filled weeks

C's school year-end exams ended quite early this time and the school has stopped giving academic lessons. They are now busy getting organised for their Speech Day which takes place on 16 Novermber. Everyday, they are busy rehearsing their respective performances. And there's lots of free time in between for the kids to play games or read.

The Year 3 students this year are involved in two items for Speech Day - choral speaking on the theme of 'harmony' where the children will be dressed in various national/international costumes, and singing a Chinese, Malay and English song in a choir.

C was earlier in the choral speaking team but she prefered (or rather loves!) to sing so we requested for a change. To C's delight, the teacher allowed it. Apparently, the teacher had chosen her for the choir at first but because the choral speaking team needed more kids who could speak/pronounce well, they decided to put her in choral speaking instead. This week, they will be having a full dress rehearsal at school and two other rehearsals at the actual venue.

Caitlin's school hall is too small to accommodate all the parents who will be attending Speech Day so every year, their Speech Day is held at an auditorium of the church the school is affiliated to.

The very next day after Speech Day, there will be a field trip. Last year, C missed the trip to a rabbit farm because it clashed with her drum exam. This time, C gets to go to a chocolate factory and a ceramic art centre.

Last week, the school celebrated Children's Day. In the past years, parents were requested to organise the party (food/activities) for their respective classes. But this year, the PTA committee decided to centralise it by organising it for the entire school. The celebration was held in the school quadrangle with singing, speeches by the PTA chairman and the principal, fun activities, a short skit by the teachers, performances by the Year 5 and 6 students, some fun exercises by Ronald McDonald (yup, they catered McDonald's meals for the kids) and the highlight was an educational dog show by the police K9 unit.

A video of teachers and kids having fun singing:

A video of the Year 5 and 6 kids dancing:

With all these activities, no pressure from studies and the coming long school holiday, C is really taking it easy these few weeks. She spends most of her free time reading (she's got a relatively big stash of unread books). Over the weekend, she resumed her 'writing' in yet another 'diary'. Every now and then, she'll write stuff in some notebook and she has a few in her 'collection'. This time, I told her she should stick to just one notebook so that all her thoughts and self-chatter (a more appropriate term in my opinion!) are properly kept in just one notebook.

The past few days, she's written the most in her history of journaling. Every free moment she had, she'd be writing and 'talking' to her diary - mostly about what she was doing at that point in time, what she observes around her, what she thinks E and I are doing/thinking. She adds colour to the text by using various pens, crayons, pencils, and drawing pictures and pasting stickers. She'd also share her writings by reading it aloud to us. I'm glad that this time she shared it with us. There had been times when she'd say it's secret and would write 'warning' instructions preceding her writings.

I am wondering how to keep her occupied this coming holiday which is between 19 November and 3 January 2012. I doubt we're travelling anywhere on vacation. If at all, it might be adhoc, short local trips. We seldom take major holidays locally or abroad as we can hardly afford it. Last year, we bit the bullet and went to Hong Kong, and we're still paying for the 'after effects'!

Lunch with mothers

Every now and then, I have lunch with one or two mothers whose children are Caitlin's peers at school. We see one another at school when we are there to pick up our kids and chat a bit while we wait. Recently, we came up with the idea of lunching together as and when we're able since we are around the school vicinity at about the same time. It is a good change from having to eat leftovers at home, eating in the car while waiting, or eating alone outside. And there are relatively nice and affordable 'makan' places in the school neighbourhood.

Connecting with other mothers is good when the mothers are of the same wavelength and have healthy conversations. We can share parenting ideas and tips and encourage one another along our rollercoaster journey as parents. It works when the mothers are open to one another's opinions, and have no-holds-barred discussions and banter. It is fun when we can just let loose and spill out whatever is on our minds and let the conversation jump randomly from one topic to another - about life in general, current news and happenings around us, children, parenting, food, cooking and 'women' stuff. We can learn from one another when we approach conversations positively and objectively.

It is not healthy when conversations are one-sided, with one more-talkative person dominating and steering the discussion. It is not healthy when the mothers start comparing notes about their kids with the intention to feel 'one up' and put others down. That is so 'kiasu'. It is also not healthy when mothers get together to gossip about other parents or children, or complain about the school and teachers unconstructively. I simply feel uncomfortable when around such mothers. I don't like it when mothers ask me questions about my kid, or what she's learning at school or outside, and then clam up after I share my info with them. It feels like they are 'processing' the info and forming judgmental opinions and keeping it to themselves. Yuks.