Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My precious

At 8pm, I was lying in Sean's bed, hugging and kissing him as he tried to sleep. After having a short chat about school and stuff, I smothered him with more kisses while telling him how precious he was. As usual, he said, "You are more precious than I am."

I replied, "No, you are much more precious..." This went on a couple more times and then...

...he suddenly stood on the bed, and looking down at me said, "This is how much more precious you are than I am...If I were a stinky, dirty, black, rubbish bin, you'd be a diamond."

Sweet dreams baby boy :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Granny bloggers at orchid show?

I was at Siam Paragon when I chanced upon an Orchid show. There were so many flowers on display, many of them with prize-winning ribbons. Check out the last photo on this post. Happening right?




















Check out these grannies whipping out their mobile phones and digital cameras to take pictures of the flowers. Could they be bloggers too? hehe...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Strange skies

View from the balcony of Brian's room, spanning right to left. Taken last Thursday.



Friday, August 13, 2010

Cherry cherry baby :)



I don't think Thailand has a cherry season so it beats me why I'm suddenly seeing huge, juicy, cherries being sold everywhere. I reckon they are being imported but why are even the street hawkers selling them. They don't come that cheap either, about S$10 for 200g. But they are really sweet so I've been popping them quite a bit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sean and Shaun the Sheep



Shaun the Sheep is a stop-motion British TV series from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. The title character is a smart, skinny sheep (pictured above getting a medal) who's the leader of a flock of fluffy, dim-witted sheep. A premise of the series is that Shaun exhibits human intelligence and creativity to resolve problems the farm animals encounter.

It is a very funny show and Sean absolutely loves watching the dvds we have. This post isn't a tv show review, but relates to what I had mentioned a couple of days earlier about a playground incident/s Sean faced last school year. Sort of a post on how we deal with teasing/verbal bullying. One day I might write about how we handled Brian's one and only experience with verbal bullying, which happened when he was about 9/10 in his London prep school.

Back to Sean, this was 10 days after he joined the school (April). Anyway, to save myself some writing, I'm just cutting and pasting the email I sent to his school counselor Sarah.

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My email:
"When Sean came home today, he was worried that he would get into trouble with me for not being able to find his lost items, which include a water bottle and his prescription goggles. Now because he was worried, I managed to get him to tell me stuff about school which he has refused to since school started. What I found out kind of confirmed my gut feel that something wasn't going well in school. He is happy and his classmates are fine but he said a boy from another class would call him Sean the Sheep :) As he was telling me this, his tears started to flow.

I was amused and told him Sean the Sheep is cute, to which he continued crying and saying, "But I don't like it."

I suggested that maybe that boy was just trying to be friendly, but Sean disagreed and said he doesn't think so. Only after a while did he say, "Are you sure he's just trying to be friends?"

At first he said the boy only called him Sean the Sheep yesterday, but later he said the 'teasing' started last week. And the boy was with a group of children, and after he called Sean that, that boy's friend would also join in and call Sean that.

What I've told Sean for now is this:

i) Don't assume the worst of others. That boy may just be trying to be friendly. And Sean/Shaun the Sheep is a cute character anyway, so I told him he could take this positively. (He insisted he didn't like it though).

ii) I told him that while Shaun the Sheep seems totally harmless to me -- cute even -- I will still have to acknowledge that he felt hurt...hurt enough to firstly not tell me about it, and finally, when telling me about it, to cry sadly. I said if he wanted to, he could tell the kids he didn't like it. But I said if it were me, I wouldn't bother.

iii) Of course, there's the possibility that the kids were picking on him. And I said with verbal bullies, all they want is a reaction. So if you ignore and not react, they'll leave you alone soon enough.

So basically, for now, this is just for your information. If this continues, and he's still affected by this, I'll let you know.

He's still happy to go to school so this isn't a big deal. But I don't want him to feel his feelings are being brushed aside. And I'm also wondering if this is another reason he prefers to go to the library instead of hanging around at the playground; besides having no one to play with."

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Reply from Counselor,

Dear Lilian,

That’s fantastic advice to Sean! It’s very normal for kids who are undergoing a transition to be very sensitive. So even if he normally wouldn’t mind, being call Sean the Sheep might be the worst thing that could happen at this particular moment.

Please continue checking in with him and do let us know if Sean continues to feel picked on by this kid. While I agree with not making too big a deal out of it, sometimes kids do need a bit of extra “sheltering” during the settling in period.

I won’t be able to get him for lunch Wednesday as we’re off, but will make sure I check in with him too this week.

Warmly,
Sarah

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I never brought this up again cos true enough, the teasing stopped. Funny though the stuff that kids get bothered about. There are worse things than to be associated with Shaun the Sheep right? :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rolls Royce of calculators?

From my room, I hear running water. Thinking Brian was bathing, I shouted out to Sean.

He came running, "Yes..."

I asked, "Is korkor bathing?"

Sean: No, he's doing his homework.

Me: Oh, okay.

Sean: He's using his super clever scientific calculator.

And by that, Sean's referring to the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition Graphing Calculator I just bought for Brian. It was actually already in his school stationery list last year, but I didn't buy it cos it was so expensive (5600 baht or S$250). His Math teacher told him at the end of school year that he would definitely need the calculator when school starts. So no choice but to fork out the dough...thankfully a friend was kind enough to source this from Bras Basah Singapore for S$205.

Sigh...can almost buy an iPod Touch already...

Texas Instruments  TI-84 Plus Silver Edition  Graphing Calculator

Monday, August 09, 2010

Four-faced Buddha at Hyatt Erawan

It was the first day of school for the boys today but I decided not to go to school (thus missing the Elementary School Parent meeting) as I was not feeling well. Took a nap after sending them off on the school-bus and when I woke up, it was time to head out for my lunch with an old friend from Singapore. Ahem, yes, I felt fine enough to have a Peking Duck lunch, but not for school :P

Lunch with Joy-Marie and her chubby 4-year old Kieran was fun. He kept reciting some National Day Mandarin poem in a great accent, mighty impressive. Her pair of 2-year old twins (Craig and Astrid whom I dubbed Bouncer and Beauty)did not come along; they were roaming Siam Paragon with her two helpers from Singapore.

After catching up over a yum lunch, I let JMT off to start on her shopping spree. The weather was pretty nice today, so I decided to take a walk. Took some pictures at the famous 4-faced Buddha by Grand Hyatt Erawan. I had a nice stroll before hopping on a cab home. But I think once I get hold of a pair of Fit Flops (which 2 friends including JMT have sworn by), I will start wandering the streets of Bangkok by foot more often, and hopefully take more photos too.

View as you enter the shrine area.


4-faced Buddha




Lighting joss-sticks


Collecting holy water?


Offerings.


Lots of elephant figures.








Dancers getting ready to perform.


Thai dance.


View of Central World from inside the shrine compound.


Little birds in tiny cages belonging to a lottery ticket vendor right outside the shrine.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The school year that was

Being a kid, I remember being apprehensive at the start of every school year, wondering if people had changed, if my friends had changed. It's not easy. So if I hadn't had to, I wouldn't have put my kids through what they went through the past school year.

When school broke for summer hols in 2009, the boys returned to Singapore for Brian to prepare for his PSLEs. So from July till the early October, the boys were in Singapore school. It was Sean's first taste of school in Singapore as he had left the country when he was just 2.

Then right after Brian's last PSLE paper (Science), we flew off that very night to Moscow, where school had already started for about 7 weeks. I think it was easier for Sean to jump right back in as he had a proper class and just one core teacher. But for Brian, it was his first time in Middle School, there were no more fixed classes, and most of his good friends from Elementary School were not in any of his classes. He only met them at the locker area or during lunch break.

And before long, it was December break again. In January, Brian joined another new school, his Singapore secondary school, for a couple of weeks' orientation. He had a wonderful time as he knew a number of kids from his primary school. School was hectic but fun.

And then we returned to Moscow, and within weeks, we found out we were moving to Bangkok. I think they never quite got into the groove of things this year in Moscow. Soon, it was time to visit schools, submit documents, sit for tests.

We flew into Bangkok at the end of March and the boys only started school after the week-long Songkhran hols, on April 19, and by the time school broke for summer in June, they had had only 7 weeks in their Bangkok school.

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Now, going to this school ISB, instead of the one most Singaporeans and Malaysians go to (Patana), was mostly Brian's decision. My heart told me ISB (loved the vibe, loved how the kids looked really chilled and happy, loved the counselor I met Daneah), but my head said Patana (I'd have more friends, it was nearer, boys would have 30 min extra sleep, curriculum more similar to Singapore etc). Sean was non-committal, he liked the folks he met at ISB, but he also liked the extra 30 min sleep. We went with Brian's choice, he was adamant...and after the hectic year he'd been through, I thought he deserved to be really happy and settled.

So 7 weeks of school, and for sure Brian has taken to ISB like fish to water. He's thriving, he has made many friends. He had a new counselor, Nancy, attached to him, cos he was going in as a 7th grader instead of 6th in Moscow. And Nancy has been brilliant as well (ISB MS is lucky to have 2 amazing counselors as the face that new parents meet), keeping me updated on Brian's progress on an almost daily basis at the start. I didn't even need to email her, she would email me or call me to let me know her thoughts.

As for Sean, I've been less enamoured with Elementary School (similar situation in AAS Moscow, what is it with American schools?). The counselor, Sarah, did not offer me any updates on him except when I emailed her. Perhaps I was expected to contact the class teacher directly, but I had been spoilt by the MS counselors :P And I've never liked to have much teacher-contact, so I left things be. Unlike when he was with Ms Jayne (his fantastic Moscow teacher), he hardly came home excited about stuff he had learnt or talked about in school. Each day, it was just "Fine..." when I asked him how school was. There was also a playground incident that I'll write about another time. All in all, he was still happy to go to school, but if I compared it to Brian's experience, it's like heaven and earth (no, not hell, phew!).

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Finally, at the end of the school year, I emailed Sean's teacher asking her for her feedback and this is what she said:

I think Sean has done a great job considering the short transition period. He does still cry but not as much. I believe this will go away as he matures. He is a remarkable child and I wish I had a whole year to work with him. I would recommend that you keep him in some activities that he is interested in but will also require social interactions. He has connected with a few kids but in “Sean’s” way which is always going to be a bit different. Please come visit with me anytime. He has been a pleasure!

There was never a need to check on how Brian was doing cos throughout the 7 weeks, I was getting unsolicited feedback.

May 6: Good learner, likes academic challenge, yet wants to have fun too. She really likes the BALANCE of his character and the ease at which he makes friends! Total positive and admiration for him! (from Ms U, Brian's humanities teacher, via MS counselor Nancy)

(Brian loves his Humanities teacher and it seems many other kids do too. Unfortunately, he only got her for 7 weeks :P She doesn't teach 8th grade.)

May 20: I'm so excited about Brian's "fit" here at ISB! Most amazing transition I've ever seen!: (from MS counselor Nancy)

Jun 3: I have LOVED how easily and quickly Brian has settled in to school here. There were so many reasons it should have been tough for him, and yet he has slid in as if he’s been here for ages...a true testament to his character (and some most excellent parenting!). I am so glad he chose ISB, we’re lucky to have him, as well as the rest of the Leong family :o) (from other MS counselor Daneah).

Year-end School report: I have only known Brian for a little while but can already tell that he is an outstanding student, a kind and ethical person, a creative thinker and full of intellectual curiousity. Brian quickly adapted to his new classmates and teacher and it is as if he has always been here with us. He is a valued group member, a frequent participant in class discussions and his sense of humour makes the class more fun. he asks for help when he needs it and cares very much about the quality of his work. I know that he will be very successful in 8th grade and I will be envious because those teachers will get to work with him for a whole year. (Ms U, Humanities teacher).


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So for sure this is the school for Brian. Verdict's still not in for Sean...there are days when I question the decision, wondering if I should have sent them to different schools. Hopefully, there will be less questioning in the year ahead, which starts in a few hours. To a successful, enriching and happy year ahead!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Habitat For Humanity

I've posted this on FB but Habitat For Humanity is a cause worth writing about. One weekend in May, just 3 weeks after starting school here, Brian, together with some other middle- and high-schoolers, build a house for a family in Korat (3 hours away from Bangkok), under the H4H programme.

When he went for the trip, I thought it was just piling some bricks in a general development, but no, the kids actually built (with professional supervision of course) a house specifically for a family in need.

And it's no simple handout either. This is what I got from their website on how this works:

- Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside our homeowner (partner) families.
- Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity) into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.
- Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans.
- The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build still more Habitat houses.


What an awesome cause, much better than Extreme Makeover:Home Edition right?

These are pictures Brian and his friends took from the trip.

The family the kids were building the house for gave each of them a rose :) Sweet.


The build site is right next to the family's cousin's house, where they've been sleeping on the kitchen floor all this while.






















I was really grateful to Brian's School Counselor Nancy for asking him to come along for the trip. He went on the bus not knowing anyone there and came back richer not only for the H4H experience but also in making more friends. He was all smiles and didn't exhibit any fatigue at all.

When I emailed Nancy to thank her, she replied, "It was EASY to have him along! Really impressive how easily he mixed in with the other kids, pitched in and worked hard, and could ANTICIPATE needs on the job site! He is certainly welcome to join the Habitat for Humanity club and do more house “builds” next year."

Anticipate needs? Really? Wow :) My little sotong is growing up!

But seriously, I'm really glad he is seeing first-hand that anyone can make a difference; just by contributing their time and effort, he and his friends have helped change the life of this family. One home at a time (yes, he intends to sign up for H4H club next school year).

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sam Leong's Cookbooks

Award-winning chef Sam Leong is in Bangkok for a 10-day "Contemporary Chinese Cuisine" promotion at Conrad Hotel's Liu restaurant (5-14 Aug 2010). Eddie was at the pre-launch dinner and came home with 2 cookbooks, A Wok Through Time and A Taste of Home, complimentary and signed by Chef Leong.

A Wok Through Time seems beyond my culinary abilities...but...


I think I could try out some recipes from A Taste of Home. His recipes from this book look simple enough even for me.

Reasons to continue chugging along

The other day, the boys spent hours going through this blog, in particular posts with labels Seanism and Sean, and I could hear them laughing hysterically every now and then. The poem on this particular post got them laughing like hyenas. That's one reason I continue doing this blogging thingy :) They love reading old posts, especially about themselves, such narcissistic kids I have.

The other big reason is the wonderful folks I've met in real life through blogging. There's Elan, whose son came home one day last year to tell her there was a new boy in class (Brian who had returned to take his PSLE) and she immediately said, "Let me guess, is his name Brian and did he just arrive from Russia?", which made her boy's jaw drop...LOL! Funniest thing ever...Mummy is all-knowing! Elan doesn't blog but from her comments, I had expected to meet someone quite serious, as it turned out, she laughs a lot, is quite giggly, very sweet and reminded me a lot of Monica.

There's Eunice,10-year veteran of Bangkok now living in Ho Chi Minh City, who gave me wonderful tips on Bangkok living. Very funny and chatty lady, again...I had expected someone more serious...and quiet haha.

And then in June, Tsu Lin from London messaged me to say she was thinking of coming to Bangkok to visit her inlaws but was wondering if it was safe to do so. Now, weeks earlier, I had met a group of Singaporeans/Malaysians, at a makan session. Among them was this lady Daphne and her mom who was visiting from Melbourne. We got to talking about London and she mentioned that her brother lived there.

I've "known" Tsu Lin since London days, but although we were in London at the same time, we've never met. Tsu Lin had mentioned that her sister-in-law (husband's sister) married a Thai and is living in Bangkok now. But I never made any connection. I also did not make any plans to meet Tsu Lin as I understood such visits are usually time-constrained, any time not spent shopping and eating should be spent with family, not some stranger you met over the internet.

Imagine my surprise when I received an sms one day from Daphne saying, "I have a visitor from London who knows you." LIGHTBULB ABOVE HEAD...DING DING DING...I immediately replied, OMG, Tsu Lin is your sister??? Silly me, sister in law actually. We then chatted on the phone and made plans to meet near Daphne's place.

Daphne was with her little girl Patreeya and Tsu Lin with Shean Wenn. I can't remember the name of the joint where we had breakfast at but the food was good.



Tsu Lin blogs about our meet-up at the end of this post. I had always wondered if my blog persona is similar to my real-life one, and according to Tsu Lin, it is. Others may disagree. As for Tsu Lin, she's absolutely gorgeous with freaking perfect skin, and thinner than she looks in pictures. And as sweet as she is in the virtual world.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kids in Sam Pheng

I wouldn't advise taking kids along when going to Sam Pheng. The place is crowded and on some narrow alleys, vans drive past leaving no room for pedestrians to walk. However, as we were only planning a short shopping trip before heading for lunch, we decided to take the kids along with us.

They spent their time making up games to play. This game is one where you try to make the other person laugh within 10 seconds. You win if you succeed, and you lose if you fail, simple.

Sean's trying to keep a straight face.



They look like they're having a confrontation, don't they?



I spent my time keeping watch on them as Karen busied herself with some major shopping.

Later on, Sean and Kyra started looking out for vans and waving hello to the drivers (last year, when we were having tea at Borders, these two stood at the door and started greeting passersby too).



When he got bored, Sean started making this a competition, trying to prevent Kyra from waving hello. Kyra, as usual, was very good-natured about this.

Sam Pheng Buys

I had taken Karen to Sam Pheng for her to look for party favours to stuff in goodie bags and hadn't intended to buy anything myself. But I left with two very light umbrellas (only 1 shown here) and 3 shopping bags (which fold into tiny little bags). Nothing I really needed but they were so cheap and pretty to look at.









Pretty erasers, with detachable parts. Not particularly cheap, but irresistable :)