Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 1 of Summer Hols 2012



Brian left early morning for Day 1 of Habitat 4 Humanity, this time in Ayutthaya.  Sean and I had breakfast with Eddie before he went to work and then we pretty much lazed about till it was time to head out to the airport to pick Porpor up.

Sean is re-reading the Alex Rider series.  I tried getting him to read a DK book on History but he claimed it was boring.  When we got back from the airport and grocery-shopping, he played around with some strings and popsicle sticks, read some more, and then I saw an article about clouds and imagination so I called out to him to play a cloud-watching game with me.


I got to the balcony first and started looking up at the clouds. Before he even got near to the balcony, he jumped back and gasped, "I see a bird with a really long beak but its body is only a cone and the back of its head has a hole in it and there's smoke coming out of the hole."

I look up and see nothing.

He continues, "I see a fish with one eye and it's frowning."

and

"There's another fish with a big nose and it's looking at its nose."

and

"I can see a woman's head and the hair is really long and the head doesn't have any body."

and

"I can see a giant silkworm floating in the sky and it's curling up."

The entire time, I see nothing.  Sigh...

Brian got home earlier than expected, had dinner and went to bed early, tired from a day of drilling and hammering (which he said he wasn't very good at).  I managed to have a little chat with him before he snoozed off.  Then Sean practised some violin, and read some more.

And that's how Day 1 went.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Last day of school



Yesterday was the last day of school :( and Sean brought home a card from his teacher with this sweet note written behind it.

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This morning Sean insulted me.

We were in bed playing an iPad game with he turned to me and said, "Maybe you should read more..."

I turned to him with a raised eyebrow, "Why?"

Sean: Cos whenever I tell you something, you always say 'Oh I didn't know that...".

Me: I know things that you don't!

Sean: Such as?

Me: Mmmmm, such as, how to bake a cake! You don't know how to bake a cake, do you?

Sean: I mean academic things!

Me: Wehhhhhh (pretending to bawl), you're saying a 10 year old knows more things than I do!!!

Sean: I'm 9.

Me: Wehhhhhh......

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Who are the Most Successful People?

Sean brought home an "Op-Ed" piece he did in school. The topic was his choice, his points are simplistic and I believe were pieced together from Brian's retelling in a nutshell of what he learnt about Mary & Elizabeth in Grade 9 World Civ. But the conclusion is apt for leaders to think about eh? Open-mindedness and tolerance; if everyone could practise these, the world would be a much better place. I told Brian he should now tell Sean about the Enlightenment thinkers he recently learnt about like Hobbes, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Locke, etc whose thoughts on government systems were so different from those already in place at the time and were such a revolution in political thinking. I believe learning about historical figures like these teach our kids to question status quos and not just accept everything we're told as fact, and that's always a good thing. Right? haha.

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Who are the Most Successful People?: Sean (Grade 4)

Who are the most successful people? Smart people? Imaginative people? Courageous people? Personally, I think that the most successful people are people who can tolerate others' beliefs. Another way of saying it is that you need to be open-minded to be successful. There are many examples of this, like ones from the past.

In medieval England, there were two sisters (who were princesses) and two religions. The sisters were called Mary and Elizabeth. The religions were Catholics and Protestants, and the religions were against each other. Mary was the older one. Her father, King Henry VII died, so Mary took over the throne. Mary was a Catholic. Not just a Catholic though, she was a Catholic who couldn't tolerate Protestants. Since she couldn't tolerate them, she tried to burn all the Protestants. However, she failed. Politically, she was unsuccessful. After a few years of ruling, she died.

After that, England needed a new ruler. So they chose Queen Elizabeth, Mary's sister. Elizabeth was different from Mary. Firstly, she was a Protestant. Secondly, she could tolerate the Catholics, and she didn't burn them. Queen Elizabeth stayed on the throne for 45 successful years.

Now, if you had a ruler who wasn't open-minded and couldn't tolerate you, they would treat you unfairly, because they can't tolerate you. No one wants to be treated unfairly, right? So you get your rights back by rebelling. That makes that ruler politically unsuccessful. However, if you had a ruler who was open-minded and could tolerate you, they wouldn't treat you unfairly, which means you would have your rights. If you have your rights, there is no need to rebel. Therefore, you don't rebel. That obviously makes that ruler politically successful.

So what do you think? How did Mary behave? Was she successful? How did Elizabeth behave? Was she successful? Think about these questions. I am not saying that open-mindedness is all you need to be successful, though it's an important start. Maybe you should think about that. Finally, remember what Dr Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

Monday, June 04, 2012

Rare gathering in Bangkok

Photo: Authentic tapas party, great afternoon with wonderful food n company.
While I really love living in Bangkok, I have to say we actually gather less with other families here than in other postings.  In Frankfurt, the Singaporean/Malaysian community was small, there were more SQ colleagues and there wasn't much else to do except gather together and share meals.  We would meet up lots for meals or have cookouts at one another's houses.  Lots of fun and memories.  In London, there were also many families to hang out with, be it for mahjong or for meals.  Eddie also had a wonderful boss whose home was always a welcoming gathering place for mahjong, food and karaoke.  In Moscow, we didn't have many friends with kids, but they were all still good fun and gregarious folks to hang out with.  Restaurant fare wasn't enticing so we'd take turns hosting one another with all kinds of Malaysian/Singapore food which we missed a lot.

In Bangkok, I'm not sure why, but we don't socialise much as a family with other families.  I think it gets too easy to just hang out with certain groups of people and then not see them for months cos there isn't that need to forge close-knitted friendships.  Kind of sad really.  There is however 3 other couples whom we do hang out with occassionally (well, more than with any other families), but they're some years younger than us, with kids Sean's age and younger.  Brian is very left out when we have these gatherings.  It's always fun though when we do meet up.  Yesterday was one such gathering hosted by one couple Daphne and Ekk at their beautiful place in Sathorn.

These two lovebirds had gone on a 16-day Spanish tour (sans kids) and returned with lots of Spanish goodies.  They decided to hold a tapas party yesterday, complete with Sangria.  There was so much food considering the kids (except Brian) weren't partaking in the tapas and the food was delicious.

I love Spanish food and we had actually gone on a holiday to Barcelona earlier this year.  I might share our pictures here one of these days as our experience might prove useful to those planning a trip to that beautiful city.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to more tapas this week as the ladies plan to meet up again to finish up the rest of Daphne's and Ekk's Spanish loot.

Oh, Sean had a whale of a time and got all sweaty playing nerf guns with the other kids and 2 of the dads.  Brian brought his French book to study (exams are here) but he ended up sleeping, tipsy from having one glass of Sangria.  I later saw that mild drinking can be good for stimulating intellectual capacity so I'm expecting him to slay the papers he's doing today and tomorrow!





Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Regarding fear of failure, I asked the kids, are you guys scared of failing and trying new things?

First, Brian: Nope.

Me: Really? You mean you would try out for High School drama next year?

Brian: Not really, cos that takes up too much time. Do you know during drama season, they practise every day till 7pm? The last bus leaves at 5.

Me: Oh, so if we lived in Nichada (housing compound where school is located), you'd join drama?

Brian: No...cos it's still too much time, and I have homework to do.

Me: But if we lived in Nichada, you get home by around 7pm and you can sleep at midnight, so there's plenty of time what.

Brian: Not really.

Me: So you're afraid to try?

Brian: Mummy....there's a difference between being afraid of failure and simply not wanting to do something.

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Me: So Sean, are you scared of failing?

Sean: I'm not SCARED of failing, but I don't LIKE to fail.

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Anyway, when it comes to good grades breeding fear of failure, what I've noticed about my two monkeys is that they don't get nervous at exams. Both are super duper cool, be it PSLE, or GEP tests or their school MAP tests and exams (no exams for Sean, just MAP). I've always told them not to let test results define them, that it doesn't matter what the outcome is, a test is just that, it depends on how you happen to fare that day, it depends on the type of questions asked, and if there's a bell curve involved, how other people do too. So just go in, enjoy the experience, and that's it. Often, the moment the exams/tests are over, they don't give another thought to it.

They don't fret about how they did, they don't worry about the results. Of course I do think about the results and I do want them to do well, but I mean it when I say it really is the effort and not the outcome that matters. If they do well, then great, if they don't, that doesn't diminish them in my eyes one bit. I know they are bright, intelligent kids, and no standardised testing is gonna convince me otherwise. I believe most kids do want to do well, do put in the best effort that they can, so why fault them if the results aren't what we are hoping for.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sarcasm Dr Cooper's style

Sean's daily blogpost yesterday was about human extinction. The post is reproduced below.

I laughed at how he started point 3 - Finally, we come to the small matter of global warming - and said, "Small matter?"

He replied, "That was sarcasm." 

He learnt sarcasm from all those episodes of The Big Bang Theory (specifically from Dr Sheldon Cooper) that we watched last month.

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Sean's post:

88 Years Later…

…Will we still be here? By the way, 88 years later means the year 2100. Some scientists think that the human race will have been wiped off the earth by then. Why?

First there’s the problem of overpopulation. Scientists have measured the exponential increase in population, and they have predicted that there will be 9 billion people by the time it is 2500, maybe even more. By that time, there will be less resources and not enough for all the 9 billion people. Most of them will die. The remaining people will fight over the rest of the resources, thus bombing the resources and killing each other. That should kill the rest of them.

Also, there’s this supervolcano in Toba, Yellowstone. It’s supposed to erupt every few million years, but it’s late this time. If it erupts, most people will be killed by the poisonous chemicals and heat and lava and debris. The rest of them will eventually starve. Why? They will starve because the smoke cloud will block the sunlight, and plants have no nourishment, and they will die. Next herbivores will die, and so on and so on. This will eventually reach the the Homo Sapiens species(humans) and they will have no food and they will starve.

Finally, we come to the small matter of global warming. Over the past century, the temperature has increased by more than 0.74 degrees. This may not seem much but remember that there will be an exponential increase in the temperature as the population increases. If the temperature gets 6 degrees hotter… Well, the exact same thing happened a long time ago. 9 tenths of sea life and 2 thirds of land life were wiped out.

Of course, scientists could be wrong. So be positive! (That is, unless you find out that wars about resources are starting, or that the supervolcano just erupted, or that the global temperature has increased by 6 degrees.)

I hope you learned something!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What do your kids wanna do when they grow up?

Brian's 14 and a half now and is at the tail-end of his Freshman year in High School.  He doesn't quite know exactly what he wants to do and I suppose he doesn't need to yet at this stage.  His ambition when he was much younger changed frequently from being a chess grandmaster to a teacher to I can't remember what else, it depended on who he was influenced by at the time.  In kindergarten, he said he wanted to be a doctor and he'd charge all the patients $1 per visit (alamak! bankrupt lah).

In recent years, he has said he wants to be a doctor, then this changed to lawyer and now it might be engineer.  I think he's in a pretty good position to do anything he sets his mind and heart to.  Academically, he's doing well in all his subjects, be they humanities or sciences (he has to work harder on some subjects than others of course).  So it depends on his interest at the time or the opportunities that come.  But whatever it is, I really just do want my kids to find something they love doing every day and not live to anyone's or society's expectations of them.

Sean, on the other hand, couldn't be more specific about what he wants to do.  Last night, I asked him what he wants to do when he grows up.  His immediate answer, "I want to be a scientist at the large hadron collider."

I said, "Oh, is that in outer space?"

He replied, "No, it's in Switzerland."

"Oh, really."

He explained, "It's where they smash particles together and try to make new particles."

Go read more about the large hadron collider here.

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Oh, the other day Brian said, "Sean should be a doctor.  He doesn't need a social life.  He can work all day and night and there'll be no one waiting for him at home."  LOL.