Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

balloon coffin

Lulu had a freebie balloon which burst.

She had unsurprisingly formed an attachment so she cried piteously for a long time.

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Then she took a box, put in the balloon scraps, masking-taped it all over and decorated the balloon coffin.

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* Apologizing about the pink marker running out of ink

Well. This is Lulu.

And like we know her, she knows me. One side of the box has got nothing to do with the dead balloon, but is especially for my eyes only.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

trampolining

Bouncing jumping flipping.

Amped counts as Day’s holiday's highest point as he manages something new.


And Jo who manages something new too.

Friday, December 05, 2014

new tuition era

In what I see as my slowly inching over to the dark side, I change Chinese tuition teachers for Day and Jo: From the (relatively) fun one, which Day has been attending for about two years, to the serious one.

It started with one of those innocuous conversations with a friend and fellow mother whose daughter just got her PSLE results. After asking about Day’s Chinese, she says helpfully: Sher Maine ah, I tell you, this tuition teacher is very good! She will definitely get results for you! Once he goes to Primary 5, I tell you, sure will die one! And if his result is only 73 percent now, he will fail next year!

These Pandora’s Box comments are what I have always tried to shut out, but I realize that my stubborn-ness may ultimately cost the kids their confidence and I need to balance my beliefs with reality.

So I believed her. And I changed Day. Not so much because of the Better Grades promise, but because Fun Tuition didn’t seem to have inspired him very much over the last three years.

And because I changed Day, I changed Jo too, for convenience.

Although as the kids finish up their last few classes at Berries, I feel a twang of regret. 

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* Jo with Liu Lao Shi

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* Day with Wang Lao Shi

I like everything which Fun Tuition does. I like how they occasionally bring back stuff like dumpling skins (they learnt how to cook dumplings in class), how the kids notch up stars every lesson which they get to trade for items like pencils and erasers, how they are taught via multi media, how they get nice collaterals. Like I said before, the environment and the way Chinese is taught seeks to engage the kids.

But sadly, I realize it may not be enough.

Serious teacher, in stark contrast, is a veteran Chinese teacher in her 60s who is still teaching in a top Chinese primary school. Within two lessons, which are one-to-one, she has told Day exactly what kind of question he can expect in his exams and how to skip the 'traps'.

The biggest surprise to me, however, is which approach they prefer.

Both prefer the Serious. They LIKE the Dark Side! (for now)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

business class

It’s the holiday season. Many people are flying off for holiday.

Day’s friend also went overseas to Europe, and his friends in class knew about it.

To their Whatsapp chat group, the precocious youngster – who in real-life chatters non-stop - posted photos of himself at the airport, in the Business Class lounge, and of his passport with the SQ Business Class ticket sticking out of it.

The others exclaim: You're so lucky, you're so rich!

But Day took offence. (Day’s Whatsapps in bold)

Y u have to be a show off
Show everyone the business class tickets

Dude I not showing off I just taking picture cannot meh

OK fine it’s just that not everybody get to go on business class. And go on Singapore Airlines.

The very next Whatsapp, Day’s friend sends pictures from the plane presumably from his phone, ensconced in what looks to be a huge brown leather recliner as he feasts on what appears to be a full English breakfast on a napkin-covered table, headphones over his head and satiny blue pillow by his side.

(I have to admit I was peering over Day’s shoulder in great fascination because I have never, and probably never will, sit in any sort of Business Class myself, and I have certainly never seen a kid in Business Class)

I tell Day: I hope you will never flaunt your good fortune. But be gracious and don’t begrudge him his happiness.

And hey, there’s something to look forward to.

Someone in the Whatsapp group asks: Will you buy us souvenirs?

And the generous boy says: Ya I will buy souvenirs tmrw and I will only buy them for my friends cuz they cost a lot.

Monday, December 01, 2014

mosaic tribute

One of the best things which happened in our lives was when I stumbled onto their pre-school seven years ago.

Not everything I try out works. But in this case, I struck gold. The school matched our needs perfectly.

And it hasn’t changed one bit, apart from rising prices which I reckon can’t be helped in Singapore. I look back on what I wrote and everything I wrote is exactly the same, which is precious when you like the original.

The school looks almost exactly the same, the furniture is still wooden, the toys and games are still well chosen, the teachers are still likeable, the children there still talk a mile a minute, and here’s the three most important things: They never get homework or tests, the principal and some of the teachers have remained exactly the same over all these years (no small feat in the high-turnover pre-school industry) and the children are still very happy in school.

Former students have a tendency to wander in and out, content to bask in an environment where they were happy.

I admit, I too, had a tendency to just stick around, sit down and yak with the teachers or play with other children whenever I fetched the kids because it was comfortable.

So now that I have no more kids in the school, and we are saying goodbye for good, I had to say Thank You to the teachers and especially Alexis, for giving my trio a wonderful pre-school experience.

So Day, Jo and I (Lu was in school preparing for her concert) did up a mosaic at the place I did mine, two years ago.

Mosaic artist Nanette has moved her workshop, the Mosaic Workshop, to Joo Chiat, but she has since made things a lot easier. Tiles are pre-cut, saving us the hassle of having to hand-cut the tiles which is actually the hardest part.

The kids and I drew out the rainbow outline in pencil on the wooden board (rainbow because the school name's got a Rainbow in it), selected the tile colours, slathered glue on, pasted on the tiles, grouted the result and wiped it clean in six hours in one day between 10 and 4, inclusive of a lunch break.

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* Nanette's work on the wall behind

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* Applying glue

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* The three baubles which represent Day, Jo and Lu

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* Grouting with the help of Nanette's assistant, Nerissa

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* Ta dah! Day, Megan (Nanette's daughter who helped with wiping clean our work), me and Jo

What better gift, than an enduring mosaic which can be hung on a wall for eternity.

KK liked it so much he suggested that we keep it instead, but the kids would have none of it.

The kids insisted on being there when I presented the teachers with the mosaic, and they were very pleased with the effusive response. I didn't take a photo then, but here's Alexis with the kids. She's been pampering them for years.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

pre-school’s over

Lu

With this wonderful picture, I say goodbye to pricey pre-school fees forever.

It’s Lu’s turn to graduate from kindergarten.

She’s been going to that same school since she was a foetus in my tummy and I had to walk Day to school. Principal Alexis always waxes lyrical about how she’s seen Lu since I was pregnant with her and now, Lu’s the oldest girl (but still one of the tiniest) there.

I admit, there was a tiny tear in my eye which almost, but did not make it down my cheek as I saw Lu clad in her too-big graduation gown receiving her scroll.

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* Alexis and Lu

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* Lu, Shannon, Walter, Edward

Yes, I was sentimental about her growing up but on that, I mostly think It’s About Time. The larger nostalgia was on how I have been coming to this same venue for eight years now - excepting one year when we missed the concert - to proudly watch a child perform, and it’s something I will never be able to look forward to again. (we've gotten used to the glitz and glamour, somewhat)

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* An annual pilgrimage for eight years

On stage, Lu is all smiles, trying very hard not to accidentally eat up her lipstick, and ignore the gaping hole in the toe of her hand-me down black shoe which split open right at the start of the concert.

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More Lu pics:

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* As one of the seven Snow White dwarfs (she was asked to be Snow White but she dead refused, she'd rather be a dwarf)

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* Trying not to close her lips because of the icky lipstick

Meanwhile, Day and Jo, who have also been coming here for eight years, are backstage hands. There’s alumni power for you.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

lu’c cycling challenge

It’s time.

After months of paddling around serenely solo with me walking alongside, Lu joins us for family cycling.

The last time she went with us to the beach she was in the bicycle seat, falling asleep whenever she felt like it.

She is very enthusiastic and is the only one in our cycling quintet to be wearing shoes (the rest of us all slopped on our slippers).

“I have never done this in my life!” she chirped, while cycling gamely, Cyclist #3 in our procession of five.

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* From back: Day, Jo, Lu

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* First time Lu cycles across a road

Well. Somewhere three-quarters of the way toward our hawker centre destination, she flags, visibly. She doesn’t complain. She just gets very quiet and you can almost see smoke coming out of her legs as she tries her hardest to move them fast enough to catch up.

I think she's very disappointed with herself. Almost wondering, how come Gor and Jae can cycle and I can't?

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* Sitting it out, feeling blue, while we look at tortoises in the pond

To all my honest assurances that she's doing very well, she stoically maintains: No I'm NOT.

She didn't even care for the giant spiky kite-thingamajig at the beach which I found completely fascinating. "I CAN SEE IT, OK?!" she yelled, when I kindly pointed it out to her, before burying her head back in her arms during one of our rest stops.

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The rest of us start getting tired too because it’s really trying to cycle slow. You know: Go, brake, go, brake.

Day ends up winding in and out, circling our group, just so he can get moving.

She really needs more practice. But I wanted to give her an Achievement Certificate. It's like how we want to celebrate achievement which is not easily come by, but which is hard won. I don't think Day or Jo ever had to try so hard to cycle before, and for Lu it was a mountain conquered.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

kampong baths

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That’s our back toilet. It has no shower facilities, only a toilet bowl.

Its a very cosy quiet place far from the madding crowd that is the rest of the house, and which is mostly occupied by KK and Day. Call it the Gents, if you will.
  
But on occasion the girls – Lu in particular – like to hoist the bathtub to the back toilet, prop it on the closed toilet seat, fill it with cold water and use bowls to bath themselves. They don’t use more than one tub’s worth of water.

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We're quite pleased, really. It’s a lot of water saved.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

piano opportunity

One door closed, but another one opened.

Because we didn’t go to Hong Kong, the girls got to take part in their piano teacher's student concert.

How did Jo - who fortunately (or unfortunately) does both gym and piano – respond to the news that she’d still get a chance to shine?

She wasn’t pleased: No competition but now there’s a concert? NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO ON STAGE! WHAT IF PEOPLE LAUGH AT ME? WHAT IF I PLAY WRONGLY? I HATE CONCERTS!

She uncharacteristically went so far as to tell teacher Mona No Thanks, I refuse to play in your concert (to no avail).

Likewise, Lulu’s attitude was to flop over and give up. I want to die, Mummy, I’d rather die than go on stage by myself. Can I die now?

Still. Concerts are de rigeur for Ms Mona’s students. It’s part of the Suzuki school of music education which places performance opportunities far above examination.

It’s got something to do with how frequent public performance allows performing to become natural and enjoyable, how the students can observe and learn from one another in a friendly community, how they learn that music should be played for others to enjoy. Something like that.

The girls are very worried. So they work very hard.

On concert day, Lulu doesn’t quite have the stomach for lunch. She crawls to me and clings like a baby monkey to its mother. She wrings her hands and her brows are furrowed. She is terrified.

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Jo is somewhat cooler. I think by this time, her worry horizon has diminished but she still frets.

Then something strange happens when the concert starts.

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* The starting bow from the new students before the concert starts

The girls, seated with me before their turn, see other children go on stage to play even simpler songs. There are little kids, almost toddlers, who plonk out very slow and labored Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars. Some make mistakes but the applause is just as loud, perhaps even louder. Others play the same song as they do.

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* The loving parent audience

Lu starts to grin. Jo whispers: I think I can play better than that, Mummy.

By the time they stride on stage for their turn, they are all ready to show off and can even manage small smiles.

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* Lu at the grand

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* Jo doing her Suzuki bow

Day in the audience was more restless than anything else, but KK was mightily impressed. He crowed to the girls, you were the best!

In the end they thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when they were given goodie bags with some sweeties.

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* Girls (Lu clutching her goodie bag) and Mona

Would they confidently play on stage on future?

I still don’t think so. But we made one small step today.

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* The final bow from all performers