Saturday, 29 May 2010

Queuing up for a bag

I bought a Kate Spade bag for $399.

I surprised myself. It's a splurge for a thrift like me.

But I thought I deserve to splurge on myself since I haven't done so in years, apart from getting the camera which primarily is to take pictures of Baby.

Today, I went to the sale of Kate Spade bags at M Hotel and after thinking over a few times, decided to just get one without thinking for too long. I tend to think too much and not buy it.

Gramercy Park Stevie

Actually, I had fancied the Stucco series but by the time we got there, there was none left. Well, it's a learning experience for buying designer bags at a sale - get there really early.

Domestic fight 2

I'm surprised I haven't got this on record. I always thought it's so dramatic I wouldn't miss blogging it.

William went into my yahoo messenger archives and read that I met up with my long-time chatfriend.

From then on, he was extremely insecure.

At first, he confronted me with a printout of my conversation with my chatfriend which spoke of our meetup.

I was surprised at myself.

In an attempt to mimic his response when I caught him betting on soccer, I said, with a nonchalant look,"I didn't do it."

He was surprised,"It's clearly you! How can you deny it?!!"

I continued to model after him,"It's not me! Why do you malign me?!!"

From there, I maintained that he'd maligned me and I never did do it, even though my yahoo id was evident on the printout.

It's exactly what he does when he's caught red-handed.

I never knew it felt so good saying those things,"It's not me! I didn't do it! Why do you malign me?"


But a few days after that, when he read my handphone messages and realised that I had been smsing another chatfriend, he went into a frenzy (again).

He threw my sim card out of the window. Yes, right out of the window. At 12am. Midnight.

Coco saw where he threw it down from, and fortunately for me that I am living on the second floor, Coco soon found the sim card after searching for 10 to 15 minutes.

When I returned, I found that he had removed my handphone battery so that I cannot use my handphone. He also snatched my sim card from me and put it into his mouth.

Coco was quick-witted. She took his handphone and removed the sim card, and hid it so that he could not find it.

The next day, he took my handphone, using my sim card.

Subsequently, he deleted my long-time chatfriend's number, which I found out only after my chatfriend smsed me again.

When I told my chatfriend what William had done, he told me that William had gone online, using my yahoo id to chat with him, pretended to be me and tried to fish out information about our meetup.

Fortunately, my chatfriend was too intelligent for him. He could tell that it wasn't me and played a fool with him.

My chatfriend thought this is getting out of hand, and William is trying to ruin everything I have (although I think I have nothing to begin with), and that I should leave him so that I could at least live with some dignity.

Contrary to what some people think, I never intended to hurt William by meeting up with my chatfriend.

I have long passed the stage of meaning to hurt him.

I just want to do something to make myself happier, so that I don't feel like I'm rotting my life away. I feel that I had been too decent and nice all my life. And the decency and niceness have not done me any good or even justice. I am a divorcee, with kids. What have I done to deserve such a status? What have I done to deserve meeting jerks and bastards? Only one answer justifies my mess of a life: I had been too decent and nice.

I don't want to be decent and nice all my life, just to be bullied.

I want to be loved as well. I am just a very simple woman who, like any other ordinary women, wants to be loved, even if it's in temporal or superficial ways. I don't want to be bound by moralistic thinking anymore. I just want to make myself a bit happier. I have done much for the people around me. I just want to do something for myself, and they don't hurt anybody, perhaps only William. But it's not because he loves me that he feels hurt. He's hurt because his ego is hurt.

Back to what my chatfriend said - dignity. It's a big word to me. I haven't known this word ever since I knew my ex. I only recovered my dignity when I divorced him, only to lose it again after I married William.

He asked me why I don't leave William for good. I told him that I'm just sick and tired of trying to jump out of the frying pan, only to find that the next thing waiting for me is the fire.

Domestic fight

Within a span of a week, too many things happened, and too little time to blog.

Firstly, William and my sister had a fight.

It happened last Sunday afternoon when my sister, Coco and I were about to set off for Coco's local immersion programme.

William had thrown Coco's storybooks into a plastic bag, together with Baby's porridge.

Needless to say, the porridge went onto the books, resulting in a mess of books and porridge.

I was angry but had got used to his unreasonable ways. I washed the books and was about to go off with my sister and Coco when my sister apparently couldn't take it lying down.

While William was screaming away about Coco hadn't changed her habit of putting books all over the place, my sister retorted that he hadn't changed his ways either.

He got into a frenzy and screamed and shouted at my sister to get out, ranting that this is his house and she should get lost.

My sister was adamant to agitate him. She stood at the doorway and refused to step out of the house.

He came over and tried pushing my sister out, while my sister pushed her way in.

It was scary at that moment, because my sister's head was trapped in his arm.

I screamed and scratched at William's arms, wanting him to loosen his grip.

Our Mainlander neighbour witnessed the fight and he was appalled.

Eventually, William loosened the grip and the fight ended with the two of them swearing at each other.

My sister sustained a nasty scratch on her left arm.

It's a crazy marriage. Anybody would ask me what I'm doing in this marriage.

I don't have an answer for it. I seriously don't.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A Losing Battle (of words)

I thought it interesting to document (like what schools ask teachers to do - to document whatever they do) the inputs and replies to the ST forum:

The starter:

15 May 2010
A teaching life or a teacher's lot?

Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher

I AM often told how the Ministry of Education is easing teachers' workload, but I see little evidence of it.

My husband has been teaching in a neighbourhood school for several years. Despite the mantra of work-life balance, I see little of it in the lives of teachers. Here is a typical weekday routine for my husband:

* 5am: Wake up and prepare for school.
* 6am: Leave for school.
* 7am: Arrive at school and perform morning duty (in a sense, 'guard duty').
* 7.30am to 1pm: Regular teaching duties (including extra games for students who need more exercise during recess, which is part of the Holistic Health Framework that replaced the Trim and Fit scheme).
* 1 pm to 1.30pm: Prepare for remedial lessons.
* 1.30pm to 3.30pm: Conduct remedial lessons (my husband's school believes that to improve students' results, remedial lessons must be conducted daily).
* 3.30pm to 5.30pm: Be present for the co-curricular activities he is in charge of.
* 5.30pm to 6.30pm: Administrative work like keying in remarks on students for the mid-term report book).
* 6.30pm to 6.45pm: Pack 36 books and piles of worksheets to take home and mark.
* 6.45pm to 7.45pm: Travel home.
* 7.45pm to 8.30pm: Eat dinner and rest.
* 8.30pm to 1am: Continue with administrative work, such as marking books and worksheets, reviewing examination papers, and preparing programmes for the June school camp and Youth Olympic Games activities.

Weekends are hardly restful. I often ask him if the endless work is because he is singled out. That is not so, he tells me. His colleagues face the same punishing workload.

As I am writing this letter at 10am, my husband has developed a fever. But he is unable to seek medical attention as there is an oral examination in the afternoon.

I understand there is a need to be accountable to students' parents. But in this case, who is answerable to a teacher's family if anything happens to the teacher?

Aishah Quek (Ms)

The protester:

May 21, 2010
Stressful yes, but not unusual as jobs go (In response to 'A teaching life or a teacher's lot?')

I FIND Ms Aishah Quek's diary of a teacher's day last Saturday ('Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher') misleading in detailing the lack of a work-life balance for her husband, a teacher.

Using the same diary format as Ms Quek, I would like to explain why.

•5am to 6am: Wake up and prepare for school. A lot of people, including students, take only half an hour to prepare for school or work.

•Leave for school at 6am and arrive at 7am. If he needs to take one hour to reach school, Ms Quek's husband should ask for a transfer to a school nearer home.

•7am to 7.30am: The 'guard duty' he does is usually done by parent volunteers or rotated among teachers, so it is not a daily affair.

•7.30am to 1pm: Regular teaching. Teachers do not teach from 7.30am to 1pm at a stretch. They have one or two free periods in between each day.

•1 pm to 3.30pm: Prepare for and conduct remedial lessons. Again, this is not an everyday affair as different subject teachers will take turns to conduct remedial lessons.

•3.30pm to 5.30 pm: Take charge of co-curricular activities. Again this is usually only once a week for primary schools. For secondary schools, these are usually done by outside coaches or student leaders.

•5.30 pm to 6.30pm: Key in remarks on students for mid-term report book. This is required only twice a year, during mid-term and year-end.

•6.45 to 7.45pm: Travel home. He should request to teach in a school nearer home to cut travelling time.

•8.30pm to 1am: Marking books, worksheets and the like. Most homework is marked by students who exchange books and worksheets, with the teacher going through the answers during class time.

An exception is for examination papers and compositions, which are marked by teachers. These are usually marked in school during the teachers' free periods. The daily routine listed by the writer did not include lunch breaks.

While a teacher's job is stressful, so are other jobs. Having to work long hours is the norm for all jobs now. At least the workload of a teacher's job is seasonal and there are times when they can relax a little, for example, during the long mid-year and year-end holidays.

So teachers, cheer up, you are not alone, all other jobs are stressful and requires us to work long hours as well.

Tan Lee Hwang (Ms)

The defender:

May 21, 2010
Care for them if we truly care about education

WITH reference to Ms Aishah Quek's letter last Saturday ('Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher'), the Ministry of Education (MOE) should take a hard look at what is happening in schools.

In particular, MOE should examine how overzealous principals and management are in exerting undue pressure on the average teacher.

The typical workday routine as related by Ms Aishah is sadly true although individual cases may differ.

Teachers who are likely to deny this problem exists belong to two categories.

The first are young and ambitious teachers or heads of department who are being fast-tracked for promotion to principal.

The second group comprises the middle-aged or senior teachers who are hoping to bite the bullet and just make it to the next grade so that they can increase their income and pay for their children's education and clear their mortgage before retiring.

Those who can quit are usually young and mobile without any financial commitments.

Teachers who leave commonly cite the sheer volume of paper work, including marking, and additional non-teaching responsibilities. Typical responses from principals and school management include 'learn to work smart' or 'make time for family'.

But they do not apply to the average teacher who must cope with the volume of marking for which there is no 'work smart' solution - unless the teacher resorts to unethical methods like making students mark each other's work or marking in class instead of supervising the students.

I once raised the issue of an overworked young teacher to a principal only to be told that he was not working smart.

If we really believe in helping teachers achieve a balance, we must acknowledge their unrealistic workload.

We must reduce the obsession with continual assessments and trying to complete the syllabus far ahead of schedule.

Most teachers, like most civil servants, do not discuss their problems for fear of punishment or negative consequences to their career prospects.

If we truly value our children's education, we should start by taking good care of our teachers and their needs.

James Suresh

The clarifier:

May 22, 2010
Teacher's job not as simple as it looks
WITH reference to Ms Tan Lee Hwang's letter ("Stressful yes, but not unusual as jobs go") and Mr James Suresh's letter ("Care for them if we truly care about education") yesterday, I believe some current teachers would find Ms Tan's suggestions easier said than done.

Sometimes, leaving early for work is not enough to prepare against unforeseen circumstances like traffic jams or slow traffic on rainy days. Ms Tan's suggestion to request for a school nearer home is definitely what teachers can do. However, the approval for such requests is based on the vacancies available and the teacher's subjects combination (for secondary schools and junior colleges).

She suggested allowing students to mark one another's homework while the teacher goes through the answers in class. This may not be very effective in assessing students' progress or mistakes in their daily homework. Considering the short duration of each lesson for every subject, if the teacher asks the students to mark most of their homework in class, I wonder how much time is left for the actual teaching in class.

This method may also lead to another problem where students put less effort in their homework since it will be marked by their classmates and no comments on mistakes will be given, unless the teacher does another round of checking after the classroom marking.

Therefore, I strongly agree with Mr Suresh that there are no work-smart solutions unless the teacher resorts to questionable methods like making students mark one another's work.

The suggestion to leave the duties of co-curricular activities (CCAs) to outside coaches or student leaders in secondary schools may be feasible to a certain extent. But the teacher-in-charge will still have to be present and the use of outside coaches may require more than once a week of the teacher's time.

Indeed, a teacher can find ways to relieve his heavy workload, but how many of these ways are at the expense of the students' learning and curriculum time?

Seah Josee (Mdm)

The ultimate, holding up the fort:

May 22, 2010
Duties eased but MOE will keep an eye on teachers' workload

WE REFER to yesterday's letters by Ms Tan Lee Hwang, Mr James Suresh and Mr Wee Hien Seng ('A teaching life or a teacher's lot?') as well as several in Forum Online yesterday which responded to Ms Aishah Quek's letter last Saturday ('Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher') on the challenges faced by teachers in maintaining a work-life balance.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) values the hard work and contributions of our teachers. Many teachers are highly committed to their profession and go beyond their call of duty every day for their students. We thank them for their dedication and the critical role they play in helping every child reach his potential.

Teachers should have manageable workloads. Over the years, we have taken steps to ease their administrative duties and support them in various functions.

Teachers are encouraged to discuss their workload with their supervisors. MOE will continue to closely monitor and review the workload of teachers.

To better address their needs, we encourage our teachers to make use of the different platforms that are available to the teaching fraternity to provide feedback to MOE.

We will continue to find ways to better support our teachers and ensure a fulfilling career for the teaching fraternity.

Wong Siew Hoong
Director, Schools
Ministry of Education

Lu Cheng Yang
Director, Personnel
Ministry of Education

Friday, 21 May 2010

Ulcer episode

I'm on 2-day MC because of a huge ulcer on the inside of my tongue, just beside the teeth. I can't talk properly. I finally could understand how people who are not able to express themselves fluently feel. And I didn't realise the tongue plays such a big part in our eating and swollowing until my ulcer hurt the moment my tongue moved.

According to the doctor, the ulcer is infected and there're signs that my lymph node is swollen. He gave me an oral application medication and antibiotics. The oral medication is good as it numbs my ulcer pain, but only for a while.

I haven't been blogging because I've been tired. Physically tired.

I think the ulcer emerged because I haven't enough sleep or drank enough water, and stress.

My colleagues have been wonderful.

When I had relief to do, a teacher who was in the class before me would scold the class loudly to make them behave themselves during my period so that I don't have to be stressed or shout at them. Another took out 2 notorious boys when I was doing relief.

I really appreciate them very much. I don't know if such gracious and helpful colleagues exist elsewhere.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Beautiful Day

It was a beautiful day in April. So I took my baby out to the huge luscious grasspatch-on-a-rooftop.

Beautiful, dainty little white flowers greeted us at the entrance

Dancing water at the fountain

A squinty, sunny day

with awesome clouds

Looking at people flying kites

One kite

Two kites

Many many kites - 'Must have been at least $1000 worth of kites up there,'my sister quipped.

Love this pic of a kite at its emerging flight

'Baby, smile! Where's your mouth?'

'Touch the water, Baby.'

Dancing water at the play area

Beautiful balls of water lights

Sun-setting Marina Barrage

I will come again!

Breathe in, Breathe out ...

Coco has been stretching my patience.

It's been half a day, and she hasn't completed even 1 past year paper as revision for her SA1.

I'm carrying out corporal punishment. I just gave her the ultimatum: if you can't finish this past year paper by 1pm, I will definitely cane you.

I know she's a slow worker, but I also know that she's capable of being faster than this.

I had seen her work speedy when I told her we'll go to the library the moment she finished her homework, and she finished them all within a good half an hour!

But she's been really trying.

We haven't started revising for her SA1, when she's having 3 papers ie. English, Maths and Science starting this coming Tuesday.

Maths and Science have to be done in volume. If she can't cover them wide enough, she definitely won't do well.

And we don't have time for her to cover volumes.

I had also told her that she won't get to go to Hong Kong if she doesn't get 85 and above for each subject. And I told her that this is the first time and the last time I am going to bring her to Hong Kong. If she missed this trip, she won't get to go with me anymore.

I know I have to do what I say this time round, even if it hurts me. If not, she'll waste her life away.

Like what a parenting book states,"A child who does not cherish time does not cherish life."