Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Misunderstood Job

I was reading newsfeed on Facebook when an educator friend posted a poster reading:

I have been a lousy friend because I have been busy being an awesome mother.

Her sister posted a sarcastic comment.

My friend tried explaining her exhaustion: after school, she had to attend a workshop till 5pm, then rushed to pick up her younger kid before going home to cook dinner. After that, she had to revise work with her P6 daughter. Her legs were swollen and hadn't the time to rest.

Her sister commented that she was a 'complaint queen'. The 'hero' in me acted up again and I commented that I wouldn't have done all that she did because so many hours at work would have tired me out.

Her sister retaliated by saying that my friend had 'company' and that she hadn't taken a leaf out of their teacher-mothers and grandmothers' book.

I left my comment saying that my sisters are also stuck in the days of their teachers.

Teaching, like motherhood, is such a misunderstood job.

People who are never teachers still see teaching as a half-day job that only requires you to sit in the class and talk to yourself, and after that, mark a little and go home at 1pm!

They thought that children these days are the same as their generation, fearful of teachers, quiet as mice in class.

They don't realise that their mothers and grandmothers didn't need to attend workshops and trainings or even meetings after school.

They don't realise that teaching is a lot more demanding these days.

They don't realise the teachers of yesteryears didn't need to do EPMS, SEM, CIP, TRAISI, Weekly lesson plans, Reflection, detailed lesson plans, lesson observations ... Those teachers probably haven't seen or heard of those terms even, and these are just random terms and things that I just plucked off my head!

For curiosity's sake, I did a count on the number of teachers I have on my Facebook. 20 out of 45, excluding the 2 that were pending on Friends' Request.

And I counted the number of teachers who have left the service. 11. Out of these 11, 5 are mothers who quit as they could not cope with the demands of teaching and the load of motherhood. Interestingly, the other 6 are singles (still single) who were disillusioned or unhappy with the system. Most of them have switched to another field that has nothing to do with teaching.

I am left with 9 existing teachers on my Facebook. Out of these 9, only 1 seems to be genuinely happy with the charges under her. No surprise at all, as she is teaching gifted children in a top school.

I know, I know. I am too old to argue with someone outside the field about the job.

I have had my share of being criticised by my sisters like how my friend's sister did her.

I guess I am still protective of the job, like how I would stand up for motherhood when people with no kid try telling me how to teach mine.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Thoughts on the CHC Trial with Kong Hee at the Stand

I have read a few blogs that are 'shared' by CHC friends on Facebook. These personal blogs are maintained by CHC staff or members and they often have at least one entry to defend or state their support for the 6 accused who are charged for Criminal Breach of Trust.

I was reading CHC Confession when someone posted another CHC member's blog that had similar sentiments, that she didn't know everything, but she still supported the accused because the church was her life.

Because it was written by an ordinary member who didn't obtain monetary benefits from the church, I was moved to write a comment to her, and I think it generally sums up how I feel as the trial unfolds:


Use your heart to recall and try to link what Pastor Kong said in the past and now, at the pulpit and in court. Do they concur? Use your mind to decipher the vagueness of his words as he always employs. "I maintain my integrity! " Is being evasive and acting blur the way to maintain integrity? Is Kong a person to delegate finances and any matter totally to another without close supervision? If you have served in 2 ministries, they should have opened your eyes to the working style of the church, which is incidentally the style of Kong. He always demands excellence and accountability. And suddenly, he's become a rancher who doesn't know what's going on in the church he fathers for about 25 years?

Think about it.

Just as the bad he does doesn't erase the good he did, the good he did doesn't erase the bad he does.

Are you supporting something you are in full knowledge of, or what you hear from the leadership and the pulpit? Isn't it just common-sense to make informed decisions (if you decide that you don't need to know everything)?

When the case just broke out a few years ago, I recall someone scrutinise the statistics on CHC website and deduced that only a very small percentage of the money went into the community service. Conversely, a large percentage went to the salaries of the staff. If you think that CHC has reached out to many via community service, think about the poor woman who gave all she had compared to the rich who gave more than her. What did Jesus say? "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others." And Pastor Kong said Jesus wants us to give all, not a small fraction of what we have.

I won't comment on CHC staff's blogs bcos no matter what they say in defence of the leaders, they have vested interest in it. I probably would defend them too if I were a staff. It's a no-brainer. But for you as an ordinary member, I just want to share with you in the capacity of an ex-member who left CHC before you joined the church, that you should think more about the words that Kong uses. I have respected him, loved him, supported him, admired him (with no crush involved as he was 10 years older and wiser), but it is a fact that he has served another god. Just look at the way he spent the money member took pains in giving. How do you justify him admitting to not giving to the Building Fund while urging members to give earnestly? How do you explain him not tithing to the church when tithe-and-pledge is such an important part of the church? What does it say about his integrity when he wrote a cheque on stage and struck it off without anyone's knowledge? He said not tithing is tantamount to robbing God. How long has he been robbing God?

My dearest friends come from CHC. We may not be close now but I will always be grateful for the friendships I found in CHC. I will always be grateful for the love and forgiveness I found there, and I am thankful for Pastor Kong who founded the church. I probably even owe my proficiency in English, in part, to CHC. However, if he has done wrong, he deserves the punishment. And the trial so far has revealed his wrongdoings over a prolong period of time. His so-called mistakes are deliberate, not accidental. I hope the difference between the two speaks something to you.

I can't change what you want to believe, just like how I can't and won't attempt to persuade my CHC friends, of a few who are also staff of CHC. I just hope you can open your heart and mind to the things the trial has revealed, the contradictory words Kong has spoken over the years eg. didn't spend a cent on Sun's albums vs the members are aware that money goes into producing her albums, must tithe but he himself doesn't. Judge for yourself, for your own sake.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Westgate Wonderland

Even before it was officially open, I took Baby to Westgate Wonderland early this year, in January.

It was extremely child-friendly and fun!

The happy, welcoming entrance:

Just do a gentle slap on the insect prints and you get a nice 'ding' or 'dong'. 
Adults are equally, if not more, fascinated by the pretty tulips that glow when melodious sounds are produced.

A few insects for play on display
The caterpillar steps that has since been removed
A pumpkin rocking swing

for which kids queue in sync
A tiny rock-climbing wall that made her raise a white flag

A pink and pretty playground
that got her brave her fears of climbing web-like ropes

just for the thrill of sliding to the ground
A treehouse playground

Climbing down the ropes is such a feat, but nothing stops one who truly wants a kick!



Saw some secondary school kids dashing through the playground though
The 3rd playground: didn't realise it was a cracked flower pot till I walked farther from it!

Children's ultimate delight: the wet area

Without swimwear, she dives straight into the area

Comes complete with a changing room and a blow-dry room!

Verdict:

The Wonderland is definitely worth going. If you had noticed, Baby was in different clothes in the above pictures. We were there 3 times within a month, if not a fortnight, I believe! However, it gets really crowded on the weekends, so if you are a SAHM, do go on a weekday. Of course, bring along a set of swimsuit and towel! And did I mention that admission is FREE?

Where to go:
Westgate Shopping Mall
Level 4

Alight at Jurong East MRT and follow the sign to 'Westgate'.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Teary National Day

Friday was the day all schools celebrated Singapore's 49th birthday.

Mine did too.

I have never felt special about National Day, but this year, tears welled up in my eyes as I sang 'Home' as the last song sung before the kids were dismissed.

Images of my childhood and friends who converted came to my mind. I thought about what one of those friends said about why he converted,"There's no benefit (being a Malaysian)." The other reason being he felt that Singapore was a land of opportunities compared to Malaysia. He did hold back for a good number of years though. He came to Singapore to work when he was 19. He only became a citizen when he was in his 40s, for the sake of his children. His son was an outstanding pupil in a well-sought after school in Choa Chu Kang and he emerged the top pupil last year. Throughout his primary school years, his teachers had wanted to nominate the child for various awards but they could not since he was not a citizen. One of the teachers actually called the mother and asked why they did not convert. I think he did convert for good reasons.

Why haven't I converted?

I don't know.

I have blogged about why I don't convert, but really, I don't have practical or pragmatic reasons not to convert.

Do I love Singapore? I do. It's where my home is. It's where my heart is. When I was in Paris, I was in love with the beauty of Paris but I missed Singapore. I missed the nice people, the chicken rice, the hot sun. I can't imagine living elsewhere. It's where my memories are.


I was moved when the kids joined in at the chorus of 'Home', when they didn't have the lyrics!

I was a little shocked when the Second Boss was asked to lead in the song. I was doubly shocked when she gladly obliged and sang loudly. I was worried for her that when it came to the chorus, it would still be her singing alone, but it totally surprised me.

What spontaneity!

When you listened and watched these kids sing, you saw their simple and pure pride for the nation. I think we could even say 'love'. The song that they didn't have lyrics for, they sang the loudest, and proudest.

I was not just impressed. I was moved.

I held back my tears.

I didn't know that people do cry on National Day until I saw the posts on Facebook.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

'Masak Masak': Childhood Play Exhibition at National Museum

On the last day of National Museum's Childhood Play Exhibition, 3 August, I finally fulfilled my promise to Baby, taking her to 'Masak Masak', an exhibition showcasing the things Singapore adults in the 80s played when young.

Hmm ... a bit different from what we had though.

Our playground was not a bouncing castle, lah!

It's free admission for Singaporeans and PRs as long as you show your pink or blue IC to the counter. I didn't have my IC with me but my driving license did the trick.
The first thing we saw when we entered


Inside each circular hole was some tiny paper cutouts. Quite cute!

We walked on and came to this strange looking playground.

The playthings were mainly made of recycled or unwanted objects, put together to create motion or interaction between objects.


The aims of the games were stated on a board beside the games

Hmm ... did we really play with such weird things when we were young?


We went to the 3rd floor and entered a room for children's play.


Ingredients for the different favourite local dishes
You can cook if you like!

Puppet play

with a Papa bear couch

and a Baby bear chair

Blackboards are antiques now. How do you like that?

With our 'free admission' ticket, we entered the 'History Gallery'. Lighting was a challenge for photography though.

We were at this cubicle that showcased the schooling histories. I saw two report cards from Singapore Chinese Girls School and a really old photograph of about 10 students from Chongfu School. The students looked quite grown up though.

The trades of Singapore

The History Gallery features how Singapore came about, from the story of Singapura to Raffles' founding of Singapore, from the early Singapore settlers' struggles to Japanese Occupation. Quite interesting, but a little boring compared to the museums in other countries. There are many pictures and a few artefacts here and there but of course, it definitely pales in comparison with Taipei's Gu Gong (故宫).

As we returned to the exit, we came across some 80's childhood games.

But they are played very differently.
"Throw the five stones into the air and catch the stones using the round flap"

This is our 'marble' game.
"Throw the marbles into the holes"
Baby enjoyed this best!

To end off the trip to National Museum, we made a house using cardboard, and some coloured papers at an art-and-craft home, spending about 2 hours there!

A fun day out for Baby and me!

Rich and Good. Yum!

I was on Facebook reading a complaint about some pretty rainbow cakes when suddenly I remembered a nice green swissroll a tutor bought us during a tutorial 6 years ago. 

I recalled that she mentioned the name of the confectionary selling it: Rich and Good.

So I googled 'Rich and Good' and came to a HungryGoWhere page, where I read 10 pages of review on the shop.

Most of them commented that the swissrolls that come in multiple flavours were great but the service was atrocious.

I decided to venture into the tiger's den anyway, on a Tuesday.

First, I called up the shop and checked if they would have enough swissrolls if I got there at close to 5pm. The auntie who answered the phone said,"Plenty of cakes! Plenty today! We open until 5.30pm or 6pm. Give us a call if you come after 5pm."

So I took a train down to Bugis MRT, walked past Raffles Hospital, found my way to Mosque Sultan and was guided to the shop by the aroma of cakes.

It was a typical small shophouse. A man in his forties or so was packing the long and thin swissroll boxes at the doorstep.

As I was there at about 4.45pm, there was just a short queue. There was no customer in the shop when I first reached. As I was trying to make a quick, final decision on what to get, a few customers started strolling in.

The lady manning the counter was a younger lady than the one over the phone. She looked somewhat in her late twenties or early thirties and spoke grammatical English. Polite too (phew!).

Another lady came forward to help pick out the swissrolls as the younger one keyed in the order and collected money.

Took a quick sheepish shot of the price list

The reviews raved about the durian, mango and kaya flavours. Some mentioned strawberry but none of us was really a fan of strawberry flavour.

I went there, determined to buy just two swissrolls: durian (for Coco and William) and kaya (for a taste of nolstagia and its goodness). However, as I was outside the shop, a lady who was undecided at first told her friend that she would buy "chocolate lah, chocolate."

As I stood before the lady at the counter, I said,"I want durian, kaya, mango ... 2 kaya, and a chocolate."

So I ended up carrying 5 swissrolls home!

The swissrolls come uncut.

The lady before me did enquire if they could cut the swissroll for her but was turned down,"We don't have enough manpower." I think they were also aware that if they cut for this lady, the people in the queue behind the lady would also request for the cutting.

Well, so I cut them myself. I learnt a new thing though. Next time if there are not too many people, I will ask if they could cut for me!

Chocolate flavour

I personally think it quite ordinary. The sponge is denser and tighter, just like its other counterparts in the shop. Other than that, you get fresh cream chocolate among the layers. But Baby was only willing to eat this since she loves chocolates and sweets.

Mango flavour

Ohhhh ... how I love this! I had thought that the best had to be kaya, but mango stole its limelight. Before I tried mango, I already had my dinner, 1 slice of durian swissroll and 2 slices of kaya swissroll, but this, I devoured half the roll! It was really good! The mango slices were mainly at the bottom of the swissroll and they were just nice, lightly sweet with just a very tiny tinge of the usual mango sourness.

Totally love it!

The next day, I finished up the other half of the swissroll! Just heavenly! Will definitely buy it again!

Durian flavour

I don't eat durians. And it has nothing to do with my nationality! When I walk past a place that emits durian smell, I would think that it is the smell of rubbish if I don't see any durians! You have to admit they do share some similarities in terms of smell. And then it's such a mess when and after you eat it. The awful smell that lingers in your mouth and fingers, and when you burp ... oh!

I tried the durian swissroll anyway since everyone raves about it.

I classify it under 'eatable without the overpowering smell of durians'. I gave some to my neighbour who loves durians and she said she could smell the 'fragrance of the durian' when her daughter was eating it.

The sponge is the same vanilla sponge as they use for mango swissroll and cream, fresh cream.
Like how they make the mango swissroll, the durian slices were stashed mostly at the bottom of the swissroll.

Perhaps if I am a durian lover, I would love it :) Until then, I won't buy another durian swissroll.

The star, kaya flavour!

The sponge is dense and the kaya firm and sweet in moderation. 

Although the one in your memories always tastes better, I think the kaya swissroll does not disappoint. The kaya was rich and the cake was good and fluffy soft!

The kaya emits a fragrant kaya aroma before you put it into your mouth. Like all the other swissrolls sold in the shop, it does not collapse when you cut it. The cakes also do not stick a mess to your knife like some poor-quality ones do.

Will surely buy this again too!


Where to go:

Rich and Good Cake Shop
24 Kandahar St, Singapore 198887
6294 3324