Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Coco Learnt to Ride

I spoke to my boss about my decision to take no-pay leave today.

She was only willing to release me after May, two months later than my desired leave date.

The adjustment she was willing to make was having me doing part-time for April and May, so that I get to go home early to coach Coco.

I have to say 'yes' to it. I guess there is no other way to it unless I threaten to quit, which I am not about to do.

On a happier note, Coco picked up cycling today! We took her new bike, a Christmas present from her aunts and me, down the block and had her try paddling on it.

At first, I tried different ways of getting her to balance the bike while she was on it.

She wasn't making much progress. Then she asked me to hold her bike from the back while she paddled.

I wasn't too confident of holding her well since I am not exactly a strong woman.

Surprisingly, the load wasn't too heavy and I could manage her for a while.

And she started paddling on her own soon after. All these within 30 minutes of her starting to learn!

Wow! I am so proud of her. Never mind that she has not mastered starting off or braking to a stop.

I have always been envious of parents who teach their kids how to ride a bicycle. I always thought that there is such a great sense of achievement and fulfilment in being a teacher to your own kid in something like cycling or swimming. I never thought I could do it since I am a poor instructor and gives up easily. Perhaps it was the desire to be such a parent that made me curb my impatience or self-consciousness in teaching my own kid how to cycle.

Coco exclaimed,"It is the best day of my life!" when she first cycled independently.

That should be my line!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Our First Christmas Lunch

We headed to Marriott Hotel for our Christmas lunch this year.
It was William's first time getting us a Christmas lunch. He'd meant to reserve a table at Marriott Cafe for the actual lunch, but he ended up reserving a table at Pool Grill Restaurant, and we ended up having Executive Lunch instead.

 It was a small dining area overseeing the hotel pool.
Very quiet, with a very attentive waiter, waitress and manager.
The nice Filipino manager got Baby a colouring activity to keep her occupied.
 We had Lychee Tea while the kids had apple juice
 The hard bread
 Spinach Soup.
Pleasant but relatively tasteless for us who are accustomed to mushroom soup's strong taste.
 Cod fish with chips for the kids
The flakes were fresh and good. Coco finished it all.
 William asked for Turkey Breast for a taste of Christmas.
Who says that turkey meat is hard? This one is tender and soft.
 I am a Lamb Shank fan.
It was totally superior to all lamb shanks I have tasted.
Soft, tender, but not mashed.
The custard/mustard-like cream was slightly sweet and went perfectly well with the lamb.
Even Coco loved it.
 My dessert, Chocolate Fudge Log Cake

 His dessert, Fruit Cake with Strawberry Sherbert
 The kids', Chocolate Chips ice-cream
 The sisters looking at the pool with all the pitter patter

The Executive Lunch was $25++ per pax while the kid's meal was about $10++ per pax.
Totally worth it although it was not what we went for, but oh well, it was his first time booking a Christmas lunch.
 We walked past the huge Christmas tree at the foyer and decided that it was worth a shot

A Stay-Home Decision

After reading some inspiring stories on kiasuparent forum of how working mothers who chose to stay home or continued to work were deeply involved in their children's studies during the PSLE year, I have made up my mind to stay home too for a few months, subject to my boss' approval, to be a Study Mum as well.

We have tried to make Coco an independent learner or study-er for 5 years to no avail. We often leave her to study on her own and come back to mark her work and go through the wrong answers with her. However, it has not worked.

Most of the time, she ends up day-dreaming or staring into blank space in our absence. She does not do work when I am not home. My father is her minder before I come home every day, but my father's word  of getting her to do her schoolwork - not to mention my or William's work - always falls on deaf ear.

I feel that making her do work herself is unproductive. It is the most crucial year now. After five years of doing something that is totally not working, I don't care how it will be done now. What's most important is it's DONE, even if I have to sit beside her and look at her write every word or number.

It is exasperating. I am not saying it is not. She writes slowly. She even takes a few seconds to write one letter sometimes. But I asked myself if I would regret it if I continue to work for the year and leave her to her own devices, as opposed to her doing badly and I continue to work.

Of course I would.

Does my taking no-pay leave and sitting beside her guarantee good result from her? Of course not. But I can be sure I would not regret doing that a year later.

It is not without struggles that I have come to this decision. I am fully aware that by doing so, I am at great risk of getting that dreaded grade during my appraisal. I would sustain great monetary loss, not just for these few months, but my bonuses would also be badly pro-rated as well.

My parents and sisters are not for the idea.

I got so upset that I asked my parents if they were prepared to be blamed by me for the rest of their lives if Coco did not do well.

They kept quiet. I drove my point home.

I have to prepare myself mentally that I have to 'eat grass' for the rest of next year. I have to say a lot of 'no' to Coco and Baby's wants when we go window-shopping and see something nice. And I have to be very prepared not to lose my cool at Coco over the monetary loss when she is trying during coaching.

Tomorrow would be the day I inform my boss of my decision. I hope I don't stir up a hornet's nest.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Relationship between Technophobia and Fingers

I've been lazy in downloading pictures from my camera ie. plugging into the USB port, waiting for the pictures to load, selecting the pictures one by one, saving them into different folders, then uploading them onto Facebook and blog are quite a hassle sometimes. And I have this tremendous fear of crashing my computer by loading too many pictures onto it. Already, it's running fairly slow and when I edit in photoshop, it lags.

Just yesterday, I was playing Zuma Blitz on the computer and suddenly, the fan in the CPU was making alot of noise. William asked me to shut down the computer immediately for fear of it crashing.

Talking about fear of computer crashing, I once read an article about people whose index fingers are longer than their ring fingers tend to have technophobia. They have a fear when using computers or technological products.

I have been asking my sisters, William and a friend about the comparative length of their fingers, and true enough, all their ring fingers are longer than their index, while mine has index longer than ring.

I have a feeling that most people's ring fingers are longer than their index since technophobia plagues only a minority.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A Whole New World

Nobody would believe it.

I registered for driving lessons! For all the technophobia I have, I have decided to give driving a shot. After all, I am just about the only person among my siblings who have not learnt driving. 4 of them are licensed drivers. As for the remaining two, one learnt but didn't follow through and the other got a foreign driving license.

Before I went down to the driving centre, I watsapped my siblings 180 times (in my 5th sister's words) about the to-dos and to-knows before deciding that I would take the theories as a private candidate.

I only had 3 vocabulary in my bird brain before I went down: Basic Theory, Advanced Theory and Practical.

I thought I was all ready: the moment I reach there, dash for the counter, tell them I want to do the theories as 'private'. Do eye test. Register. Get out of there.

The moment we entered the building, we saw this weird counter and room that said 'Traffic Police Test'.

I thought to myself: It's none of my business.

Then my 3rd sister pressed my panic button,"You have to take the Traffic Police Test."

Me,"Huh? I'm NOT going to be a traffic police!"

3rd sister,"No. Everybody has to take it."

Me,"... Is it the Basic Theory Test?"

3rd sister,"Yes."

That's Driving Centre Episode 1.
I went to the enquiry counter. Tried to ask some questions. My elder sister and 3rd sister also helped me to ask questions.

I heard the words 'Final Theory'. I got a little fuzzy: Whazzat? Is it 'Advanced Theory'? Or is it another Theory test after Advanced Theory?

I was trying hard to reconcile all the new terms and things that I was freshly educated on ie. differences between 'private' and 'school' student, the fees, what comes first, what to do after registration etc.

In the end, I registered as a School Student.

I went for a briefing after that. Too much information for me to absorb too! My 3rd sister was there and she remembered the slides better than I did.

Then my family members left for my father's eye appointment at the hospital. And I was alone.

I was left with the registration.

When my number was called, I sat at the counter and waited till the lady asked me to do an eye test.

I put on my glasses.

She asked me to look at the four Es that faced different directions ie. up, down, left and right.

I was asked to look into this gadget that has rows of numbers and letters in it. Big and small letters too.

She said,"Tell me the letter below '7'."

I looked, puzzled why she had tested me on an 'E' that was so big. I did not even need my glasses.

I told her the answer, effortlessly.

The lady was silent for ten seconds.

Then she repeated,"Tell me the letter BELOW '7'."

I looked again. Oops! I made a mistake. I was looking at the letter ABOVE '7'!

I quickly told her the answer again.

Then she asked me to look at an even smaller E that faced down. I almost had to guess.

Now I know what my friend meant when she said they tested you on a ridiculously small letter.

That's Episode 2.

After the eye-test, the lady continued with the registration.

At one point, she asked,"Do you want to book a test date?"

For some reason, I thought she was referring to the trial date.

I said,"No."

The lady crinkled her eyebrow,"No?"

I was surprised that she should be surprised,"Do I have to book it now?"

The lady replied,"No. But I can book it for you if you want to book it now."

I shook my head,"Then I won't book it now."

I almost left the centre without a test date.

Fortunately, I was asked to go to the Payment lady.

The payment lady asked the counter lady when my details were passed to her,"She didn't book a date?"

The counter lady replied,"She didn't want to book a date."

Suddenly, it dawned on me that they had meant the actual Basic Theory Test Date!

I quickly said,"Oh, is it the actual test? Yes. I want to book a date!"


That's Episode 3.

I got a feeling that the drama will not end here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

For the record

... he has been nice to me lately. At least, we are not fighting five to seven days a week.

After so many years of an unhappy marriage, I seem to be able to have a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope it's not a train instead.

After he quit the teaching service, he has been happier. He only told me about the cutting words that his bosses had 'bestowed' upon him after he left the service. I felt that perhaps I myself had not been an understanding and supportive partner to him either. We were watching Channel Five 'You, Me and Dupree'. The husband became a different person after marriage because his father-in-law, who was his boss, thrust him with unreasonable demands. It made me wonder if his working environment with callous colleagues had really been contributing to his irresponsible behaviour and being an insensitive and uncaring husband. When under stress, the marriage would also be strained.

I guess both he and I were worried about his source of income when he went private, but he appears to be doing okay now. At least he does not ask me for money to pay bills.

He is definitely not a romantic. It is painful for a romantic-at-heart to be stuck with someone like that, truly.

You may ask,"Then why did you marry him in the first place if you had known him to be unromantic?"

I did suspect that he was not a romantic.

I told him my concern about the issue. My ex was not a romantic and I swore secretly never to be with another unromantic - boy or man.

He gave me his word that he would respect the romantic protocols ie. birthdays, Valentine's Day, anniversaries.

He had not. In fact, I had to ask him, after six years of marriage,"Do you know when our wedding anniversary is?"

It's quite sad, really. I even read of a Facebook friend who has a "proposal anniversary" which naturally stirred up a lot of woos and ahhs from other envious Facebookers, me included definitely.

He did, eventually, suggest to eat out at Buckeroo.

I had really meant to give him credit for buying me a cake for my birthday and a western meal out, and after that, the meal at Buckeroo for our anniversary. I really wanted to make it a happy post, but I don't know why - it simply degenerates into one that is not that joyous after all.

Anyway, I want to say that he has made attempts to make the marriage go on somewhat.

I'm Not Baby!

I was at Kiddy Palace to get toiletries for Baby today.

After I had decided that I had got enough stuff and about to leave, I called for Coco,"Bring the baby here (to me)."

I was shocked to hear "I'M NOT BABY!" coming from nowhere.

I believed it must have been some other kid.

I repeated to Coco,"Bring the baby here."

I was in for a double shock when I heard "I'M NOT BABY!" the second time and my baby ran out from behind a toiletries cabinet!

I went to pay for the merchandise and walked out of the store with the kids.

As we made our way out, my baby continued,"I'm not Baby! Don't call me Baby!"

That's so cute!

My Newborn Niece

To be exact, the latest addition to my sister's family is 3-month-old now. I made these newborn attempts when she was about a week old - in between her pee, poo and breastfeeding. I didn't realise that a newborn could really poo so many times. At least I thought mine didn't - or have I forgotten they did?

My sister and brother-in-law thought the pictures were well-taken. Am glad they did.

 My little endearing helper


Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Rolling Vintage Time

On the last day of workweek ('workweek' refers to the week after school closes for the holidays, with the teachers returning to school for meetings and workshops), we had a blast having our staff dinner themed 'Old Hollywood Glamour'.

At first, I did not even know that a theme existed. It was not until a week or so before the Dinner was to be that I realised that it was themed with a vintage glam.

For some reason, I was worried I might look too out of place with a modern dress, and so my search for inspiration started. I started asking around on what my colleagues would be wearing. Most of them already had some existing dresses in mind, nevermind if they were not 1950s. The last one told me that she thought it was the makeup and accessories that mattered, not the dress.

A few colleagues thought Audrey Hepburn style would fit me, so I went googling 'Audrey Hepburn' and 'old hollywood glamour'.
I bought a pearl set since she was big on pearls - necklace and earrings

I tried looking for boat-neck tops and dresses but to no avail.
M'phosis does have some black boat-neck tops though, but I did not think they could fit my poofy skirt.
I enquired at a salon on this updo. It cost a whopping $45 for a few hours' dinner. No thanks!
Hepburn was a fan of long, black gloves so I bought a pair of black gloves for that vintage feel.
Worse comes to worse, I would settle for a bun
I was quite set on utilising that tulle skirt I made for my wedding some years ago, so I googled 'poofy skirt+old hollywood'
I tried to look for a fitting, satin top with no success.
I settled for a black, ruffled/laced top instead.
And the makeup
I bought a pair of false eyelashes, glue and liquid eyeliner from Sasa, but realised that it was a tall order to stick them on. I gave up.
I tried on orangey or red-popping colours on my lips and I was too put-off to buy them.
The theme
Instant photography with grey backdrop
The room
Oldie chocolates
The salad spread
What I wore to snag me the Best Dressed Award. Not The Best, but good enough to make the judges think I looked Audrey Hepburn.

The award
Am thrilled to get a lucky draw prize too!

If you know me, you would know I am such an unlucky person my name never get to be called out in a lucky draw. Okay lah - it was strategised: we were asked to write our names on a coloured ice-cream stick each. I quickly realised that it was meant for the lucky draw, so I picked blue since it was my favourite colour and I had a quick glance at the glass bowl - blue ice-cream sticks were the least in the bowl. I figured the drawer would be more likely to pick blue since it would stand out like a rose among the thorns. A little bit of human psychology there :)

In case anyone is interested, I bought the following at these places:

Pearl earrings and necklace - Accessorize (Raffles City Shopping Centre) - so cheap I can't recall, should be less than $20. 
Long synthetic black gloves - an accessories shop at Basement of Far East Plaza $15.80
Black ruffled/laced top - Robinsons (Raffles City Shopping Centre) $89

It was the shortest shopping trip I ever made for an event, yet it clinched so much wonder and enjoyment.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Much Ado about the Study

I don't understand why we can't ever sit down and talk things out calmly, nicely.

We just 'discussed' envisionment of future study loudly, so loudly that our neighbours could hear.

It's just envisioning. And we cannot talk it out nicely.

He had signed a non-interference agreement on renovation matter 5 years ago when he messed up the renovation with his fly-by-night contractor. But I know for sure he would criticise non-stop if I overlook his convenience when doing up cupboards. I tried to ask for his opinion but he said he was fine with EVERYTHING I do - he would just add in more wires and pull them all over the place if his convenience was compromised.

I am about to spend $4000 to $5000 on the study because his Toyogo boxes, wires, backpacks and whatnots are dumped haphazardly into the study.

He blames me for not giving him space in the storeroom.

But he did not ask for any space when we did up the storeroom. When I started organising my things in the storeroom, he did not say that he needed any space. He claimed to need all the Toyogo boxes and wires and whatnots all the time.

Now he also blames me for occupying the upper compartment in our bedroom wardrobe with soft toys. The compartment was empty, waiting to be filled up 5 years ago. And he had nothing to fill them up.

The study was a void, till he started throwing his ring files, assessment books, Toyogo boxes, tool boxes and whatnots into it.

It looks like a storeroom now, except that it is messier than a storeroom.

I hate to show the ugly side of my house, but nothing but these pictures will do justice to my grievances:
 Toyogo boxes, tool boxes and messy wires on the right hand side
 Piling of books and papers and bags, pencil case etc
Even the legroom under the study table is not spared!

No word can describe my frustration of working and living with such mess.

And we are talking about a lot of money to revamp the study. And it's my money. He behaves like it's coming free and ignores my feelings and desire of having an organised, presentable study.

I am disappointed that for all his attempt at trying to make me happy on my birthday just a couple of days ago, he is still as boorish and insensitive as ever.

A leopard cannot - to me, it's more like 'does not want to' - change its spots.

Friday, 25 November 2011

A Working Mother's Worries

I am woken up by a troubled mind.

PSLE result was released yesterday. It disturbed me considerably when I read off my school students' scores on my 'work' facebook.

Those who unabashedly posted their aggregate score managed 139 to 194, with quite a number in the range of 170s. Such scores earn you Normal (Tech) or Normal (Acad) streams at secondary level.

Many rejoiced at merely passing PSLE, and not having to repeat their Primary Six year.

A heavy sense of worry came over me, and it troubles me over and over again.

Firstly, their attitude of 'just pass can already' was already salient even when I was teaching them at Primary Five. Many of them did not want to do their homework, and most of them were just waiting for you to give them answers. No matter how you pep-talked them, warned them, scolded them, they just wanted to get the work bit over and done with, so that they could play. When homework was given, half the class did not hand in.

They did not see reading as enjoyable. In fact, they hated reading. It was and continues to be worrying because the lack of love for reading would hamper them from progressing for as long as they are alive.

The new boss is doing away with an old system of putting all the sports-inclined children in one class as she feels that ultimately, the lessons are still academic in nature at the end of the day. And what she does is sound. Very sound in fact. I was surprised to even hear of such a system when I was first posted to the school. What is the point of being excellent in sports when you struggle to pass PSLE? A fine example was a boy who topped the cohort and the cluster (or was it nation?) in a sport but yet failed his PSLE twice. All doors were closed on him.

As stick-in-the-mud as it sounds, I still feel that academics are the most important foundation for a primary school student - because that is how the system works. And perhaps that is how it should be. Do we really want sports-excellent adults who cannot read or write in proper English, eventually?

Secondly, some students have posted malicious and vicious comments on their facebooks about the new boss, saying that she is 'ugly', 'stupid', 'nobody likes her' etc.

It tells me that such children generally do not know what is good for them. For all the good works that the new boss has done, they diss her for all her effort.

After sighing continuously over my school students, the reality dawned on me, that if these children's results are anything to go by, Coco would just be about 50 points better than their scores ie. 210 to 220 in one year's time if she continues to be so laxed.

It sends shudders down my spine.

Suddenly, I find myself thinking about if I really should stop work for 9 months and focus on preparing Coco for her ultimate examination.

Coco only has English enrichment to date because her marks for English are in the 80s range, and she loves to read. It is quite a lot of money to me but I feel that that is the only subject I can let go and not be so stressed over.

William claims to want to teach her Maths and Science, and I try to coach her in Chinese whenever I have the time.

But I feel that the pace needs to be set. I don't know how much good it can do her if I only take a break in Term 3 ie. June onward, and start gearing her up then. Would it have been too late? I am not talking about the academic preparation for PSLE, but the attitude towards PSLE. By then, would she have adopted a laid-back attitude, and if she had, then no matter how much I do for her, nothing would go into her skull. That is my greatest fear.

I need to make up my mind soon because I would need to inform my bosses about my decision, if there is any at all. On the other hand, I wish I don't have to stop working so that I don't experience any monetary loss. I know all the talk about 'all the money you earn can't make the time go back or make up for what your child has lost'. It's such a difficult decision for me I wish I have someone to discuss with. My family members would, for sure, ask me not to stop working. But they do not understand the gravity of the issue since they do not have children facing the PSLE monster. My friends would ask me to stop working and concentrate on my child's studies because they have husbands to support them and have no worries about their livelihood. I am so torn I wish there is an answer, soon.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Wedding Perfect

It was my youngest sister's wedding last Saturday.
The weather was beautiful, with an interim light shower in the late afternoon, befitting the English saying "The heavens have shed tears on behalf of the bride. She would be a happy bride for the rest of her life."
How perfect is that?


 The bride was viewing the gate-crashing via livestream from an iPhone
 Pictures with the beautiful bride
 Her intricate and stunning tea-serving kua-with-an-evening-gown twist

 A 'brother' taking picture for the bride and her 'sisters'
 With her six 'sisters'
 The friendly, cheery and tireless photographer
 The happy groom
 Table setting at the wedding dinner

Yum ... ... ... ...Seng!

A cute and meaningful animation of how the couple met and fell in love, and eventually got married was played before the second march-in. What was uncanny was that we thought the couple was very well-drawn.
Really a beautiful wedding.