Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of 2008

Well, another year completed, almost...call this the last vestiges of 2008, final hours...it's coming to and end and a new year is dawning; well at least according to the Gregorian calendar which we follow. There is a general apprehension especially as clouds of economic uncertainties hang over all our heads.

We like new things.... New things offer us excitement and an air of mystery cos new things often mean a journey of discovery. New things also come with a clean slate, no excess baggage... a new car runs super smooth because the engine is new. A new computer doesn't get slowed down by a long list of registry files....at least where Windows is concerned! LOL!

So, a new year also offers that sort of 'newness'.... It means one can start afresh. The old has passed and the new has come.... There is this constant need for renewal and starting afresh. The Earth is constantly renewing herself so that life can go on. We also need to constantly renew ourselves.

... but I think it doesn't mean to forget the lessons and good things before. The year before represents the experience you gained... something that you can build on. If we don't have anything to build on, then the foundation will be shaky. Old is also comfortable...you are comfortable with an old friend, a familiar bolster (ha! ha!).....

So here's to a year of new challenges and also the building upon what is 'old' ..... old and new.... HAPPY NEW YEAR to all who wander in here. 8)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Counted down and landed firmly on 2 feet...

I've this to say after today... REALITY CHECKED!! All it took was just one morning of sitting down and listening to ramblings which went on and on..... By the time the 5 hours were up, my feet were also back on the ground.... and a pounding headache to match! Have not experienced a headache for weeks!!!! Aiyo!!! One meeting was all that was needed to induce one!

After 7...no 6 1/2 weeks of freedom from bureaucracy, I'd actually forgotten....until today! Sigh! One light moment though....when I saw my timetable; but it was short lived as it'll only be for 2 weeks. I was grinning from ear to ear and laughing away. 8)

There were some concrete ideas...but generally it was a morning wasted. Going to be a slightly busier year from the looks of things...

Been telling myself that I shan't whine....already finding it hard.

All good things must come to an end. So sad!!! 8( After today.... work begins! Been told to be at school everyday (with the exception of Friday) from tomorrow onwards. And I was thinking that I would happily rot even if the holidays were to continue. No such luck! Gotta work for a living.... no such thing as a free ride in life. 7 (blissful) weeks coming to an end... and to think that I was so happy just not too long ago at the thought of it. 8(

Update 11.10 p.m.
Nah! Not all good things need to end... had a fun time at badminton tonight. My young lady in my previous post came and tonight we (the XXs) sent the XY(s) packing....8) that gave us the 'kick' for the night. LOL!!

Out with 'my kids'...

They're so cute and funny that I must put them here to remind myself and them this makan trip... LOL!

'My kids' whom I've held lessons with since they were in Form One. Have not seen them as a group for the whole hols, except when we went swimming one night. So I thought we'd get together and sembang a bit to get ready for the coming year; get our alignment in place again...things of that sort. Must be well oiled to face the coming crucial year. Set our (their) goal posts....plan their future a bit. Twas a good time. Goals have been set...so, SHOOT!!!
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We decided to go for a makan after our talk-talk session. These young gentlemen are so camera shy! This was before makan. Camera up....obstructions also up! See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Incidentally, they are all born in the year of the monkey!!!
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And during makan...each time the camera came up...something would come up... or down!
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In between, the body and head would twist and writhe....synchronized to the movement of the camera! One would think that these are tortured souls......
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And after dinner was done....still no luck with a proper pose.... Aiya!!! Me not getting any proper pics for this outing.... 8( Habis makan still don't want to let me take proper pics.
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Only consolation, the young lady of the group did not duck the camera.....boys will be boys!!!

Anyway, these 'kids' will always have a very, very special place in my heart. They've been with me for 4 years and they've become like my own... one is memang mine. The coming year will mark the 5th year! 4 years is a long time! 8) We've shared and weathered some interesting times together..... lotsa fond memories. I've seen them grow in every sense of the word. And I hope and wish for them the best life has to offer them!

Banner Collection @ Random Shots 1

Currently on display
(30th December)

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Last banner for the year... Happy New Year! Looking ahead into the year.... this was taken in East Coast Park, Singapore as the sun set.....
(22nd December)
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Christmas is just 3 days away.... the banner says it all, this is the real meaning of Christmas, reconciliation between God and man, hope becoming reality... will be spending it mostly with friends. Blessed Christmas!

(17th December)
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One more banner from my Other Half. I think Christmas is my favourite time of the year. Plenty of reasons I can think of. So, here's wishing everyone a blessed Christmas. May God bless everyone I know. And may we continue to live our lives as we are called to, lives pleasing to God. Blessed Christmas!

(7th December)
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Christmas scene at Orchard Rd, S'pore. This year it's sugar and candies...so everywhere you see candies. We get so caught up in the commercialized Christmas these days; presents, festivities...without much thought to the actual essence of Christmas...Christ came so that we may live....the light of the world.

(2nd December)
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Tis the time of the year when Christmas comes a-knockin. Reminding us of faith, love, hope, joy......glad tidings, best wishes. 8)

(15th November)
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Our own neopolitan...3 in 1 dish; mushroom simmered in dark sauce; bean sprouts braised and served with the same sauce and deep fried chicken feet also in the same sauce. This is one of our favourites.

(25th October)
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Water, water everywhere. Not unusual since Kedah is the rice bowl of Malaysia. But these past week has seen more than the usual amount of water everywhere. It is flood season now and the water level has gone beyond the dikes in the paddy field. Surrounding villages are flooded by the water which has breached the river banks.

Related Post:
My Beijing Olympic 2008 Banners @ Random Shots
Banner Collection @ Random Shots

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mobile Phones and relationships...

Was on a mobile phone hunt...decided to look for a camera phone since I forget my camera sometimes. And it's easier to have a 2-in-1, one gadget instead of two. Finally settled on a SE Cybershot series since picture quality is not too bad. Was drooling over Samsung InoV8 but it was too pricey. Migrating from a different make (Nokia) meant extra work on my contacts!!! 8( Spent a good part of the night on it!
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This is a shot with it.... Christmas deco at church still not taken down yet. Pic quality not too bad-lah.
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Another shot of dinner (so-so)...yet another feast with friends...Karyn brought her 2 very young looking friends from Ipoh who joined us. And I thought the season for rich food was over.... after dinner we had a cake; it's George's birthday!

Anyway, spent a good part of yesterday fiddling with the new phone. I like it. In between, I listened and watched my 2 very young friends perform their piano pieces for me through Skype....all the way from across the Pacific Ocean. It was a good performance and I enjoyed their piano playing. I'm amazed at how technology has made distance seems so immaterial. The best part is I can see them and they me!!!! 8)

Since on the subject of phone, am reminded of this. You've got to love and hate the mobile phone at the same time. Mobile phones have infiltrated and changed our lives. From a communicative device, it became a one stop media center. And it also became a medium of relationships... it has changed the way relationships change and evolve.....

You know when you fall in love, you would like to spend as much time as possible with the person you're in love with. But at the same time, a courtship is bound to go through fine and stormy days.

In the last couple of years however, I've seen how stormy days in a relationship have been compounded and blown out of proportions by mobile phones. Imagine a couple arguing over something...soon smses start flying around...accusations hurled...then emotions stirred...then calls start coming...back and forth the whole thing can go, until both parties are emotionally and mentally drained.
From the Bible, Ephesians 4: 26 has a very practical advice...Let not the sun go down on your anger.
The mobile makes it easy for one to fuel his/her anger.... instead of giving anger a break and letting it cool off.... it takes on a life of its own. A relationship turning sour because of this becomes very stifling. And a lot of $$$ is wasted....the telcos still make money out of people's miseries! Anger is not something everyone manages well!

In days of old, you get time out to think and reflect. These days, how to reflect when a touch of a few buttons will get things off your chest?...so you feel. I've seen many relationships break because of this inability to control their emotions.

Such a pity cos these young people are sucked into the vortex of a black emo hole because they do not realized that they no longer have control over their feelings. I am glad that there were no mobiles when Other Half and I were in our courtship years. Trying to reign in your emotions in those early years was difficult enough. Having a mobile to compound the problems would have made things more difficult.

I am not saying that the mobile is bad. Good or bad...it's up to the user. Today's generation thrives and lives on instant gratification...I too am caught up in this sometimes. What I think is there is this need to develop patience to balance that instant everything. So does the mobile liberate or beset a relationship with more problems???? My 2 sen today!

Related Posts:
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  2. Young People Today Are Out of Hand
  3. Enjoy Them Before Their Growing Pains Get To You
  4. Insights From Our College Kids
  5. 16 the NEW 30!
  6. On the Digital Leash
  7. Parents and the Digital Divide

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day Dinner....

At the behest of Mol a couple of weeks ago....we had dinner on Boxing Day (26th Dec). Haridas and Praba joined us. We had turkey. I took the easy way out, ordered. Ha! Ha! Add that to the other food that we came up with it was quite an okay spread. Turkey was so-so. We decided on turkey since it was something we have not tried doing before.
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Working together to get the food ready was quite fun. Too bad Mol missed out on that. Of late she's been more preoccupied with clearing her house and other stuff.... Dinner was supposed to be at her house but because she said it was still messy, venue was moved. But we had fun, just the same.
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Turkey carving....engineer or surgeon??... in the end the engineer carved cos the surgeon said he cuts to repair... mana boleh for turkey? LOL! One of the dinner topics was AFC....Asian Food Channel. LOL!! Found out most of us enjoy watching cook shows. So, there we were gushing about food and its preparations. Other Half came up with his own concoction of salad dressing... made up of mustard, olive oil, lime, thousand island.... 8) The olive oil taste was a bit strong but the dressing wasn't too bad. After so many episodes of Jamie Oliver, Sugar and what have you not on AFC, everyone has enlightened ideas to put forward when it comes to food. LOL!

Anyway, the season for rich food has finally come to an end... in a way thankful cos I don't know how much more this body of mine can take. Been a good holiday season.... 8)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Titi Hayun Outing

This was today.... Still trying to squeeze whatever that is left of our hols, a few of my church friends planned for a picnic. Originally we had called it off but after Ah Ho took charge, the plan came back on and the place we chose was Titi Hayun in Yan. It was supposed to be small thingy involving just a few families; but in the end the group ballooned to 48 people!
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We made plans to go and come back early. So in a convoy of about 10 cars we got there at 8.35 a.m. There weren't many people around then but much to our chagrin and disappointment, the place was littered with rubbish. Our country may aspire to be a first world country but definitely the mentality of our people leaves much to be desired. Such a pity cos it indicates that we are such poor stewards of our Mother Nature. Goes to show that we pay scant attention to the well-being of our environment.
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The first instinct was of course to leave but there were those among us who were game to stay. In the end we stayed. Struck me the different personalities that we all have...those who want to cabut immediately and those who try to make the best of even difficult situations. And almost immediately some started clearing up the rubbish in the surrounding. They have my utmost admiration. We managed to clear most of rubbish in and around the water area.
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Anyway, while the clearing was going on, another group got the food ready...breakfast. The kids were already in the water by then. Kids usually don't mind .... it's the older ones who mind. We become the products of our environment....the older we get the more set we are in ways...
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And the 'outdoor kitchen' kept churning out food for the hungry stomachs.... this one.... garlic bread with cheese. Was a hot favourite churned out by Siah and ma. No lack of takers.
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Young and old had a good time...no age gap as far as we are concerned. Kids, teenagers, young adults and adults played 'monkey' in the water. Some sat around and lepak.... therapeutic lepak-ing. LOL!
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It was hard to tell the adults from kids. LOL! It is good for everyone to be able to have fun this way. Something different for a change. So often, our way of spending time together as a family these days would mean walking the supermarket or going for structured tours. Family members don't get to play with each other..... I think such kinds of activities where we are close to Mother Nature is a good way to create awareness of our surroundings and also for bonding. Moreover, many kids today grow up in super-duper disinfected environment that they find it 'geli' to even jump into the natural streams which are deemed dirty!
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It wasn't just all swimming...there were among us some photography buffs and 'photography buff wannabes'. We spent time shooting away. Digital cameras are god sent. One can shoot and shoot and shoot...no real extra costs. LOL! So you have it in the pic above - I shot her, she shot him, and he shot me..well not exactly. He was trying to get the running stream, while the 'sifu' looked on. He got a polarizing filter just for this trip. LOL! Caught in a triangle.......
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One of our very own 'bandaran' workers who is also a photographer wannabe. But don't underestimate this sweet young thing.... she's a young lady with many talents.
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Then there were also those who took time off from the water to do some reading, out in the open nature....with the sounds of running water shaded by the leaves of the trees.

According to one of the signboards, there was supposed to be a waterfall 3km from our picnic spot. So being slightly on the adventurous side, we thought we'd walk up.
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And this is what happened....
Two roads diverged in a humid tropical secondary jungle,
And we, we took the one less traveled by,
And we ran helter skelter down after just a couple of metres
Chased by small, tiny, hungry 'pacat(s)'
Which stalked and attached themselves to us
Drawn by the smell of our blood!...
LOL!!!
I was fortunate enough to escape unscathed. But there were some among us who counted as many as 7 leeches on their legs..... LOL!!

We packed and left soon after lunch. By that time, the place was filled with people. Also, we left the place cleaner than when we came. But I don't doubt it will be littered with rubbish in no time. We, Malaysians have to undergo a paradigm shift in our thinking where conservation of our environment is concerned.

But overall, today's outing was good. People reconnected with each other, let their hair loose, had some fun......

Things I am Thankful for 2008

Now that Christmas is over.... it's time to wait for the new year! A few more days to a new year.... Resolutions??? Nah! No resolutions for me! Cos....
First, I don't check my list after I make them.
Second, even if I do, I find myself falling short of many of the resolutions. Defeats the purpose of having resolutions.
Third...no need for resolutions. The last 2 verses from Ecclesiastes sum it up for me...
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
So, I try to go by that... already quite a tall order. If can go through the year without stumbling, it'll be an achievement of sorts on its own, which I know will not be possible cos I will stumble and fall...need to pick myself and be picked up.

But am trying to count my blessings as the year draws to a close... So here they are as my gray matter tries to recapture them. I'm thankful to God for...
  1. getting me through another year, another milestone of my journey on this earth. It's not been the hardest, but neither has it been the easiest. Every up and down has made me a better person, I hope.
  2. my Other Half who has remained faithful and who has been my better half
  3. my little Rainbow, especially, for the way she lights up our lives.
  4. good health, for me and everyone else close to my heart
  5. young people in my life. They remind me of what is possible and also of hope of things to come.... (especially, Jov, Huan, Tim, and of course my very own sometimes 'incorrigible' boy. It's good to see my own boy coming of age...)
  6. my family... their role in shaping me into who I am today
  7. opportunities to scale beyond what I thought was possible; volleyball was one of them
  8. new friends who came into my life. My life has been enriched cos they made me see possibilities in myself and others.. Life is about relationships and they've made mine richer...
  9. the generosity of my existing friends... with their time and themselves
  10. all the blessings; big and small
  11. being there all the time for me. My life, strength and hope is in Him....
So there, my list as 2008 draws to a close.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas has drawn to a close..although some traditions has it that Christmas last for 12 days; which means that it's supposed to last till the 5th or 6th January. But for us, the Christmas tree will come down in a few days' time.... So, in practice the celebrations may be over but in essence the spirit of Christmas should live on....
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Christmas this year is slightly 'more special' since this is supposed to be a year of firsts for our church. So another first...first Christmas service at the new premise. That was yesterday. Today, we had the first Church School in the form of Christmas celebration was held at the new premise. My boy has written his take on it here.

Christmas message this year... Two Kings, a comparison between Herod and Jesus.
Key areas to compare were these...
  1. Power
  2. Possessiveness
  3. Prestige
  4. Phobia
Herod hung on to them in order to stay in power. Christ rejected them in order to give life.

I sometimes tend to think that each one of us are also like Herod at some point or another. I think sometimes we don't mean to but it's just that we find it hard to let go often times. More often because we might be afraid of losing something familiar, maybe. Imagine doing the same thing for years and suddenly someone takes over.... it'd feel very much like the empty nest syndrome cos suddenly it'd feel like we're left with nothing to do. And so we sometimes become possessive even of the responsibilities entrusted to us....so much so that we fail to train others to fill up the place after us. Cos to be left with nothing to do would leave a void in our lives....and that can be pretty scary!
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But life is at best temporal on this earth by nature. So however possessive we are of the 'power' we hold, or how much we deem prestige to be or how phobic we are of things we are entrusted.... at the end of the day, they are only temporal. Choice is in our hands whether we want to hang on to it like Herod or lead a life akin to the living sacrifice that Christ did. This will be one of my many reflections as the year comes to a close.
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An old friend back to join us... Christmas is a time to touch base. Attendance was good. Christmas is a time when more people come home. This year is also no exception. Church was filled.
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The puppet team who had a last practice after the Christmas service....it was a quickie as there was lunch to attend. However, this year we decided to give it a miss. Spent some time at Ah Ho's before going home.

Christmas night was at the Tiongs. Dinner is usually good. Hung around, sang some carols before calling it night. Came home and Lil Rainbow opened up her presents. She had quite a lot this year....which made her really happy.

Been a busy Christmas.....a welcomed sort.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve...

For some reason, I seem busier this Christmas.... was just telling a friend that I really enjoy this round of school hols very much. Yesterday was another 'full' day. Lil gal had another practice today, this time at church. They were decorating the place and I pitched in and helped.
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By the time they were done, it was already almost 2 p.m. Noticed the downstairs side door still opened as I was about to leave. Decided to peep in to see what was going on.
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Saw YB cleaning the baptismal pool.The pool is located right on the stage in church. It's about 5 feet deep. Pastor has even ordered a stainless steel stairs for it. YB cleaning it up because it'll be used for baptism soon! We're going to have our first baptism in our new premise! 8)

I spent the rest of the afternoon rushing from one place to another. Lotsa things to do... shopping, ordering stuff and picking and setting up Mol's new computer. Before I realized, it was already evening.
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My first stop was Sun Ling's place to lend our (lil gal and I went. Son had gone caroling) support to our CG's Celebration of Hope. Managed to catch the Chinese Church carollers. Didn't stay long enough to eat as we had another place to be at....Ah Ho's.
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Some of the food that we had at Ah Ho's....mutton sausage, lasagna, roast chicken, spaghetti..... the list is quite long actually. 8) For once, I didn't sample everything that was on the table cos I stuffed myself too full with spaghetti! Last year so many of us were 'orphaned' when Ah Ho decided to spend her Christmas in KL.
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This is quiche... something like egg tart only that it had brocoli, carrot and other stuff instead of just egg. It is sweet and spicy...looks appealing and taste equally so also. I love it very much.
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In the meantime, caught my lil gal reading this... LOL!! She's one of the few kids, if not the only one there for a good part of the night as the older children are all at caroling.
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And this.... Karyn calls it 'honey baked ham and cheese platter'... a little more sophisticated dining by our standard. How do you eat all those above??? The grapes, green apple, walnut, almond, cheese and ham??? Ah Ho purposely bought the wooden board for this! 8)
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You pile them all up into a small neat pile and pop all into your mouth. It's actually quite nice. We had three different types of cheese to go with the ham.
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Finally, the carollers came at 12.15 a.m. Listening to them sing always brings back memories of those days when Other Half and I used to go carolling. It was fun, going out with friends, singing carols. And now my boy is doing that. Was nice to see the young people so happy singing. Ah! Christmas and often times the fond and fun memories that it brings with it. For us adults, it's nice to be able to get together, all the different families....the coming together signifies the gathering of a 'bigger' family. It was almost 2 a.m. by the time the carollers were done eating the feast that Ah Ho had prepared for them.
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Parents and friends who there...enjoying the the time there with each other and also listening to the carols.... Boon Leng was with us too. That is special. And as every Christmas, I am reminded yet again of God's love for every one of us cos Christmas is just that...

So Blessed Christmas to all who wander into my domain here....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is Knockin on the door.....

Yesterday night, Other Half said he was not in a Christmas mood yet. But after talking to Ah Ho and Karyn, eating our early Christmas goodies and making plans with Karyn for some extra 'mum-mum', I'm beginning to feel a little more Christmassy. Looking forward to dinner at her place tonight. Son and lil gal wrapped the presents yesterday night and this morning. He's in a real Christmas mood this year! I had gone shopping earlier with the Ling, Siah, Jov and Daughter. Today, I'll probably go do some more last minute shopping....
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I've been sitting through the kids' puppet practices since my lil gal is taking part this year. She's one of the 'littlest' ones there this time. She has a small role....doing the sheep! 8) And she's enjoying it. The bigger kids are doing the other roles. Peh Lan has asked that I send her for puppetry class which she is conducting before school reopens. I might go myself too, to see what I can learn up myself.
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Watching Peh Lan work with the kids this morning.... I tabik her for the patience and perseverance. It's not easy working with a bunch of kids who have a mind of their own and at times wander off into their own worlds. The kids are blessed to have her. I thank God for her love for them and the commitment to this ministry.
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Behind the scene...the kids are supposed to sit/squat while waiting for their turn. Lil Rainbow gets to sit since she is still kinda small. It's kinda fun for them...to be able to role play with the puppets.
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That's me fooling around with one of the smaller puppets. Kinda demure it looks, right? Even adults also can have fun with puppets, what more kids. LOL!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Can't Wait to Leave Home..

Talk to most teenagers and this is a common thing for them to stay. For some reason, they can't wait to leave home after they finish their Form 5 (O levels equivalent). I guess this longing is not something new. I felt the same after I had finished my Form 5. But unlike my kid who today has a choice...I basically had none...well actually I had. I could start working but thankfully, I was not foolish enough to pursue that path! 8) My dad couldn't afford the private college fees. So, Form 6 was automatic. My heart ached as some my friends left for KL and later overseas studies.

So I plodded on in my Form 6. I now view it as rather defining years of my life. I think many who went through Form 6 would agree with me. I'm glad for those 2 extra years I spent at home. You know, as one matures, one tends to understand issues from a more mellowed perspective. Just as in how my perception of Tuah changed at different stages of my life. Anyway, it was a time when I began to take charge of my own life and the best part was I still had my parents to 'correct' me whenever I went 'astray'.

I've come to realize that our parents are probably the only people, who if we become better than them, will feel genuinely happy for us and cheer us on some more. Simple reason.... cos we're their kids. So, there's nothing like having people like that around us to prod us back to the main path when we go sesat. Just like God wanting the best for His children. I'm always humbled and amused by how God ordained the order of things in this world. Cos if we look long and hard enough, the parallel comparison is there. 8)

And being in familiar turf also meant that I had friends and also MYF counsellors who were there for us, especially during the more 'tumultuous' times. 8) It helps to have people who know us well around. The best part is...by the time you finally leave home, you are basically ready for the challenges cos you are definitely more mature, more sure of what you want in life, less unlikely to be swayed by the influences of everything... basically more stable.

These days, the proliferation of private colleges means more choices are available...or so that's what most people think. In their haste to leave home, many have been sucked into signing up for colleges with twinning programmes which actually do not help them maximize their potential. We're often taken up by the glossy adverts with all the nicely put words... we sign up thinking that the colleges are good. But the reality is...private education is a business and the bottom line is still the profit margin. Quality is often compromised.

Education, especially the latter part (college or uni) is important. For those bent on furthering their studies, the choice of university is important. I believe it's still better to actually physically attend a really reputable university, locally or overseas. The experience is different. You are more likely to be challenged to your max. You get to experience a real campus life. Basically, I think it prepares a person better for the working world. Even our top local unis would be a better experience than many of the private colleges, I feel. But in all the above, affordability, is an issue.

At one time, overseas graduates were sought after. These days, because of the twinning programmes which are aplenty and also the prohibitive costs of completing a programme all overseas, more are completing their studies here. But a new development seems to be unfolding...employers are saying that even graduates from private colleges are not quite up to expectations. So what gives???? The twinning programmes are not as good??? It'll probably be a while before this problem is better defined but at the moment, it may seem that furthering one's studies at a private college may not be the best option because of the compromised quality.

So, what then? Taking stock of one's situation is important. Also, thinking with the head, rather than the heart will also help. Form 6 may not be such a bad option... think of time with your family, think of $$$ saved but above all think of it as a time to explore your options and be more sure about your future.

Evening Out

Had a busy day yesterday.... did some painting in the morning. It tergendala cos my contractor came to make repairs around the house. Then sent Rainbow for her puppet show practice. Came back, waited some more until the repairs were completed. Picked up Son who has been out the whole day for caroling and skits practice. Later in the evening, I resumed my painting. I'm almost done...now to wait for the cement to dry out before the last round of painting. 8)

And I'm happy cos I saved on labour charges.... 8) 3 tins of paint came up to RM360 and I managed to paint most of the exterior walls. Paints are expensive these days. Used to cost about RM80 when I first started painting. Prices have gone up 50 percent! But now I've got clean, white walls!!!!! (Grinning from ear to ear!)... But the snag is I'm browner than after my games (volleyball).

Made plans to go swimming since last week, so yesterday night we did. Plan started out small but in the end quite a big group of us went, all young people except for the 2 mothers... Son, Huan, Tim, Joseph, Ling, Siah, Jov, Rainbow. Had a good time at the pool. Did stuff like see who can swim the breadth of the pool in one breath, hold the breath the longest, sit under the water...... It's actually quite fun to be able to get together like that.
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Years from now, we'll probably look back and reminisce about nights like this.
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After the pool, we (minus Tim and Joseph) went for dinner at Xantana. Food was good. The above is not bad...Ling's Dory fish coated with egg. We ordered almost the same stuff like the previous visit. I love the kepah and ikan panggang. Company was good. Going out with the young people makes me feel young too. LOL! Couldn't hang around too long as the mozzies were already having a go at Nancy....she attracts them like magnets.
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The 2 camera shy boys... awkward as they are now... serba salah as I was taking their pics...and trying to look nonchalant... LOL!

Hanging out like that....it's a nice way of bridging relationships.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Still on PPSMI (Maths and Science in English)..

Yesterday's paper indicated that the teaching of Maths and Science in English is likely to undergo some changes, no one is sure what yet, it seems but change is afoot. After 5 round table sessions, still no decision.

So what exactly is good for our kids and country in the long run? Everyone seems to agree on one thing though, that the English proficiency level needs to be raised. But we can't seem to agree on how to go about it. Everyone has their own vested interest to protect even in this matter.

My parents were Chinese educated, as were many of my friends'. But their generation was a generation willing to embrace a change in the sense that many sent their children to former English schools (read that as national schools). Why, one might ask? It had to do more with their belief that mastery in English would be good for their children, and I think in many ways they were quite right, even 20 over years ago. If not for ultra Malay nationalistic feelings, I think Chinese schools would have gone the way of Tamil Schools. During my time, the popularity of Chinese schools was waning.... but as our political landscape changed with more racial undertones and erosion of other races' rights', the Chinese also became more worried and even 'bananas' like us switched back to Chinese schools.

I'm technically a product of the 'national' schools...but I'm a product of a time where the values of the mission schools were still intact. I think school prepared me well for life. My school was a good place to grow up. Had great role models who passed on good values. But today, despite being a product of 'national' schools, I have very little faith in it. Hence, my children go to Chinese schools.... that despite the misgivings that we have.

It was a healthy school environment that we grew up in. Values were taught and upheld... that was it. Right was right and wrong was just that - wrong. These days....wrong and right...they're all mixed up. Then we give excuses for wrong behaviour and make them right. Sheesh!!!

Yesterday's environment and today's is different. There's more suspicion now. The Chinese, especially are quite wary of the gahmen's intention. NEP, ketuanan Melayu, the quota system, the meritocracy system which doesn't quite reflect merit.... all but put a dampener to racial relations. And the result....sub-standard graduates at all levels.

The Dong Zong has been reminding us of studies by experts and UNESCO of the role of mother tongue in a child's learning experience. The MCA is also mindful of the fear that Chinese schools will lose their identity and autonomy... if Maths and Science are eventually taught in English, then there will only be left Chinese Language and one or two other subjects taught in Chinese. What of the teachers???

It is no secret that Chinese schools have been able to produce good results and to a certain extent good discipline in her students. Once upon a time, this feat was matched and bettered by the mission schools. Talk about Convent, ACS, VI, St John, Free School and the idea of quality comes quite naturally. I think the reason is clear for all to see....it's the teachers with convictions who made all the difference. Today, teachers in Chinese schools are still a dedicated lot. They actually still carry out their core duty....that is to teach. National schools are too busy with keceriaan, filing, curtains.... whatever that makes the school looks good on the outside. Never mind if it's rot down under.

The education system is too politicized. Schools have become places of propaganda to a certain extent. Our schools don't exactly create a Malaysian identity. It creates identity along racial lines. Our principles of justice are too skewed. We try to right wrong practices by giving it our own brand of excuses. For years, we have been lowering our standards for teacher intake....it is common to find English teachers who have been teaching for over a decade still mulling over tenses, or Economics teachers not having a good grasp of their subject matter, or even Additional Mathematics teachers who cannot solve problems put forward to them. And we seem to have more teachers who are sitting around at schools not making much difference. Teachers these days just don't command the kind of respect the teachers of old did.

So, we lament about the quality of our students and graduates. But in reality, should it be a surprise? How can we inspire our students with teachers who themselves are not inspired? How can we promote lifelong learning if teachers themselves don't even bother upgrading themselves and continue to languish only in the knowledge of yesteryears? Our English is in shambles.... is it any surprise? It's not just English...it cuts across all disciplines.

It's difficult to think of something that Malaysia has come up with that is earth shaking in the fields of science and technology or any other fields... there are but it takes great effort just to think of it.....that despite so many Malaysians making a big name for other countries in various disciplines. Many Malaysian students top their exams in foreign countries.... Incidentally, this year's Year 12 top student in Australia is a Malaysian. He scored a 99.75 and can choose to do any course he wants. By right we should making waves in the world. World class education system??? Bah humbug! Everyone can argue till the cows come home (or don't come home) and change will continue at snail pace cos we are not doing it right....fairness, justice....just to name a few.

PPSMI is good for the next gen...that or make a pass compulsory in English. Our people need to master English. Period.

The Minister of Edu says a decision in the best interest of the stakeholders will be made. Will they? Hard to imagine when they are watching out for their power base more than anything..... meanwhile another imbroglio is unfolding on the health front....IJN Privatisation. Bad times looming, health is a sure money maker..... but the gahmen also says, the best interests of the people will be foremost on their minds.... Yah meh?? Read Utopia... A few good men (and women) are what we need now to set things in order again...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

P.E.A.C.E.

Shalom... Today's sermon by Pastor Kuinlan, living at peace with God and each other... agree it is relevant cos life is about relationships. Just thought I'd jot it down here. Peace of heart and mind...they're important if we are to lead happy lives. The speaker put it very nicely.

P - plan to be a peacemaker
E - emphathize with the person
A - attack the problem not the person
C - cooperate to create peace
E - emphasize on maintaining peace

Today is one of the rare days when I actually sit outside with Other Half and not be in the room with my girl. Had a good time catching up with some of the others after service. Also has to do with the fact that all the moms are not stressed up as it is still school holidays. LOL! Also, compared skin tone with WS. He's also painting his house and he's half way thru now. I've got my balcony area to do and I'd be done. Yay!

Photo Frames Done!

Holidays is the time when I have more time to take stock of what has been.... not be caught up by the mad rush during term time. It's also a time when I can spend hours thinking about the simple things in life and be reminded of those same simple things that bring joy into our lives. Here's another one....
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Finished liao! Our photo frames! Though there are 4, they are our very own Limited Editions... Ha! Ha! These are the products after days of punching, sticking, spraying and printing. In between which we did things like visiting old folks home, clearing Rainbow's cupboard, fixing up Molly's Christmas tree, dinners out, wall painting, hanging out, walk the pasar malam, clearing the lawn, etc. etc... The frames were bought months and months ago!
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Yup! Memories.... fond memories with Haridas & Prabha, Lohs, Tings, Molly... John is missed here. 8( From shadow boxing, Uncle John's way of dealing with the boys whenever they quarreled, motorbike rides and cycling trips to the paddy fields, midnight conversations on the road while the kids cycled, late night carom games accompanied by coffee and cempedak, trips of fair-skinned kids accompanied by 2 dark-skinned adults - never failed to draw stares from people..... those years when our houses where just a stone's throw away, when the fences between the Lohs' and our house were all but opened up, when the kids would all jump into this little fish pond behind our house to swim, when sometimes they in their pajamas would pull their blankets and pillows and troop to our house for a sleepover or over to Haridas' & Prabha's, the kids had more than one home, one would imagine.... yup....these are the memories that we carry with us.
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Son and Huan were only in kindergarten then.... the girls were only slightly older. And our lives were rather simple then too. They are all now knocking on the doors of adulthood.

How time flies! How they've grown. And the littlest one now is Rainbow... John, no longer with us. All of us sport more gray hairs now.... Memories are all that we carry with us....fond ones. This meeting of lives is indeed a blessing, one that has enriched each one of our lives. So, this Christmas...this was our project. And I've the girls to thank for!