Sunday, January 29, 2012

A painful lesson for the kid

What a way to celebrate the CNY? Another first.  Playing fireworks can be so much fun but if done not following safety rules, disasters will definitely strike.

Hoe and his cousin, holding the sparks, a few at one go. 

What thrill to just hold one single sparkle and just watch it burn? So, playing and holding a few sticks at one go seem more exhilarating.  But, watch out!

Wyng, trying to do the same, despite warning 

Wyng, despite warnings from Mom, Daddy and aunties, chose to imitate his Qo Qo and heroically held a few with his small and new hand.  Successful at his first attempt, this encouraged him to do it again.  Ahh, he learnt his lesson as he was seen flinging away a few burning sticks and next he was seen squatting down, frowns of pain appearing on his pitiful face with his welling eyes, not being able to utter a word.

Too late to regret! Notice the tooth paste on his left hand.

The result of mischief..burnt palm and fingers.

And, what do you get if you don't heed advice? Blisters at five spots. Notice the two bigger ones and the minor parts burnt. Either the burns weren't so serious or this guy has 'thick' skin. He wasn't even cringing in pain when I helped to shower him.

The next morning, he didn't complain about the pain at all.  He was able to do his normal work. He even did his Kumon, that means he wasn't really hurt.  But, I believe the burn has taught him a lesson.  

When his concerned aunty sms-ed him, he replied, "Half-healed but my mother don't let me play computer."
Reply from his auntie, "That's good, so you have learned a good lesson."  Wyng, still so crazy about the computer games responded, "But I still need to use my right hand because it still hurts."

Food brings us together in this festive season

What brings people together, especially in this Chinese New Year season? Food, of course.

'Hoi Lin' meal at my Mom's place. 
At my Mom's place on the 2nd day of CNY, this year, my brother-in-law and sister were contributing their part by cooking for the Hoi Lin meal. Mom could actually sit back for a while and enjoy the food.  

The must-have seasoning that must go with each dish.  Made of ginger, parsley and spring onion, this is passed on from Ipoh, courtesy of my brother-in-law.

After the main meal, my sister and brother-in-law took turns to cook their 'la sau' own version of home-cooked fried rice.  Whoever came out with this brilliant idea? The ingredients were just egg, nothing fancy.  We were asked to state our preference after testing. Whatever was the preference, the best thing was both the chef enjoyed cooking for us and we enjoyed eating and tasting the different version of fried rice.

At my youngest sister, as usual, she prepared a spaghetti meal for us.  There were also nasi lemak bungkus from a famous stall in PJ.  Whatever it was, we were well-fed, not only with the meal but also with the wide array of CNY titbits.  I think no one can beat her in terms of the variety of titbits she can offer.  Ranging from the normal CNY cookies and crunchy chips, to chocolates, candies, cuttlefish, dried pork, Milo agar-agar (jelly), ice-cream and even wet pickled papaya and not forgetting the dried pickled and sour stuff.

On the fifth day, we were at my oldest sister's place. She had so much passion cooking healthy meals that she would go all out just to make sure what land on her dining table are healthy meals and nothing else.  Here, she was demonstrating to us how her 'broiler-cum-blender' can whip up some healthy herbal drink. Parting with RM500 (USD 161), she doesn't feel the pinch on her pocket at all as she enthused that she gets to enjoy healthy drink which is what she needs most at her age.  I salute her for her untiring enthusiasm to ensure only the best and healthy stuff for herself and her family. We waited for about 20 minutes for this red dates-wolfberries-rock sugar drink.  Not bad for a cup of nutritious drink.

Lastly, at my house, being a novice in terms of cooking, I wasn't able to cook 'a feast' for them.  Instead, my sisters kindly volunteered to cook.  Thankfully, I had earlier stored some pork cutlet for the CNY season.  They made pork-chops in soy sauce, to the liking of the kids and fried rice.  My sister faced no competition this time and cooked stress-free for all of us, individually. She actually cooked for 10 of us individually as she explained that it would not taste as good if it's cooked together for 10 of us.

Next year, I would be ready to cook for my big family during festive celebrations. I may not be able to cook up chef-standard food but I think it's not so much the quality or type of food which matters.  What matters is the togetherness as the entire family relishes the warm home-cooked meals whilst reminiscing the past as well as sharing 'secrets' and 'tips' to certain family successes.  Gossips are not to be forgotten but they are the least malicious as 'words speak louder than actions' applies here, in this aspect.

Forget about expensive food at posh restaurants if you are cracking your head about where to eat. Home is still the best place to bring the family together. Just roll up your sleeve, be prepared to sweat and get dirty and greasy too.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A very different Chinese New Year

This year, things were very different. We celebrated the dragon year in a rather different and fun way but unplanned though.

First day of CNY
For many years, the first day of CNY was traditionally spent staying at home at my in-law's place, doing nothing but munching tons of crunchy junk food and watching hours and hours of TV.

For a change, we spent a few hours in the evening at the cool highland, Genting Highlands (which highland, if not Datuk Lim Goh Tong's?).  Daddy had thought that the highland may be a place to relax quietly as most would be back at their hometown.  He was wrong when we were greeted with throngs of people,just like us wanting to get some cool air or just to take the opportunity of a festive long break to 'hike' up there. We opted not to let the kids play at the outdoor theme park but Daddy had generously bought the kids Ezy Card to play at the indoor amusement centre.

A magnificent night view of KL from Genting 
We had dinner at Marry Brown, took some cool and refreshing air before we headed to Goh Tong Jaya for a teh-tarik (pull-tea literally) session at a mamak stall.  On the way down, we pulled over and enjoyed a view of KL.  With an E-72, this picture was the best quality I could capture.  What a waste! How I wish I had a powerful zoom camera to capture the magnificence.  Daddy didn't want to leave the highland so soon and just wanted to hang around longer.

Third day of CNY
We normally would visit Daddy's late uncle's house in a remote village at Tampin to 'bai nian'.  Most of the time, we would spend a few hours and leave before evening. This year, the men seemed to have more issues to talk about and we ended up spending the night until 10+pm.  The fun time came at around 9+pm when the kids started to play the ever popular fireworks.

Playing outdoor at a village, a new experience
 Wyng and Hoe, for the first time got to hold the fireworks and play.  Wyng used to only watch his older cousins play but this time, since they were outdoor and he is old enough, he was allowed to play along too, nearby a small piece of vacant land, with barely any vehicle passing by.

With adult supervision, the kids were having a whale of a time with the fireworks

CNY, the time for kids to have loads of fun

Lucky kids!  Valid angpow receivers, for many years to come.. And good playmates for Hoe and Wyng.

Fourth day of CNY

Hoe, pouring the plum sauce for the yee sang, for the first time
Why so special? I've never had such an expensive family dinner and the record was broken on this fourth day of CNY.  Of course, with the amount of seafood ordered, the bill may even be considered reasonable, if not for the CNY hike in price.  This meal reminds me that it's still home-cooking that entails more benefits. Apart from cost savings, home-cooking brings family members together.  Afterall, this is what CNY is all about.

Hoe, being the oldest grand son for the Daddy's side, was given the 'privilege' to pour the plum sauce on the yee sang.  He had never done this before.

Fifth day of CNY
Finally, it's visiting (or bai nian) to my house.  After usual makan (eating) session, Daddy suggested to the my nephew and niece to hang around longer to play fireworks, much to their amusement.  Staying in an apartment, they've never played fireworks since many,many years ago.

A small fireworks outside our home

This was also the first time any kids ever played at our house since we moved in. Quite an enjoyable experience for me and a fun time for the kids and their cousins.  While the fireworks were 'in action', my oldest niece, See, was video-chatting with her boyfriend (who was in Singapore) whilst allowing him to witness the CNY fun via her phone.

I didn't know that the pop-pop which are popular among small kids can even attract my oldest sister and my Mom.  As you can see from this video, my oldest sister was having so much thrill throwing pop-pop.  So, in my family last night, the pop-pop attracted players aging from 9 to 75. What a record!

'Yee Ma' going ga-ga over the pop-pop and enjoyed terrifying the kids and the poor ladies who went 'screaming' away at each pop.

My Mom joined in the fun too by throwing pop-pop not on the floor but AT people. I guess she had as much fun as the kids did. I've never seen her joined in this kind of activity before. I guess she's just grabbing any opportunity available to her to do whatever she still could.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What will the dragon year bring?


I am not really a staunch believer of feng shui but I do read feng shui masters' predictions especially for any new year. Call it curiosity, maybe, or just to see if the predictions are accurate. 

So,what's in store for this year of water dragon?  A feng shui queen predicts that it will be a good year for 'oxen' and not-so-good year for 'dogs' and 'dragons'.  Whatever are the predictions are not significant as I am seldom influenced by them. 

Happy Chinese New Year and May this year brings lots of joy and health to you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why are these food banned in school?

Fattening food such as nugget and french fries are banned in school canteens but nasi lemak is allowed to be sold.  What logic is this?

Nasi lemak has calories of 644 while a piece of chicken nugget is 48 calories whereas french fries (say small serving of 85g) is 271 calories. Even if a child eats 5 pieces of nugget and still have the stomach to take another serving of french fries, calories count is only 511, still less than that of a packet of nasi lemak.

Realistically, with just about 15-20 minutes of recess, a primary student may most likely buy either nuggets or fries and not both western food (queueing up time has to be taken into consideration).  So, the calories count will be most probably less than 511 . Comparing this to a smaller serving of nasi lemak (which a child can normally take), the difference is not that significant.

So, I still don't see a better rationale to ban the western food but not the coconut rice.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Does your kid destroy things?

Mine does, lots of them.

School bags, glasses, pencil cases, books, school shoes, to just name a few.  The latest one being his shoes.  At least this pair as pictured was something like more than a year old.

Dad bought him a sandal which lasted less than 6 months.  The strap just came off from the base. I wonder whether it was the sub-quality Bubble Gummers or just his 'roughness' when he walked or ran.

Compared to Hoe, his school shoes don't last as long.  He is capable of ruining two pairs of school shoes in less than a year. Well, I normally buy him a pair of X-brand shoes and another pair would be the better quality Bata or Pallas shoes.  The 'branded' shoes didn't get treated better by him.

Isn't it expensive to 'maintain' this kid?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Looking to buy a digital dictionary

I used to object buying a digital dictionary for my kid with the reason that the dictionary may not provide an accurate word for different situations.  I could be too cost-conscious then or anti-gadget in terms of providing a tool to aid Hoe when he was a young.

Well, somehow my perception changes.  After being in the education field for a few years, I notice almost 100% of kids from the national type school owns a digital dictionary.  I also realise that at primary level, this kind of dictionary is a very handy tool to help students improve their vocabulary of other languages, Malay and English.  Of course, the traditional book dictionary undoubtedly still serves its purpose. But, in terms of popularity, speed and convenience, the digital gadget certainly is more superior.

Unless my understanding is incorrect, the conventional dictionary uses 'bu sou' (root word) to search for a chinese character.  When I was learning how to use Mandarin to sms, I got to know that hanyi pinyin is used.  So, for a digital gadget, I believe hanyi pinyin is to be used to search for a word.

I think using hanyi pinyin is an easier way than using the former.  What if the student does not know the 'bu sou'? Most of the time, they know how to pronounce or say the word but do not know the stroke of the chinese character.

Recognising this plus-point, I am now open to buying one for Wyng.  I just don't want him to be lazy or give up when he encounter certain characters which he doesn't understand or when he needs to construct sentences but does not know how to write them.  On top of that, Mom can also make use of the digital dictionary for use in her teaching.

Perhaps, if a second-hand one is available for a reasonable price, Mom will definitely not think twice to buy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A new system in school

Beginning this year, Wyng's school implemented this system which Mom cringes as this was exactly the system which made Mom decided not to enrol Wyng in his older brother's primary school.  This system, which is implemented by most Chinese medium schools, requires their students to stay back after their normal school hours to attend tuition classes.  Depending on school, some schools require them to stay back until 3.30, 3.15 or 4pm.  Wyng's school chooses to dismiss them at an unearthly 4 o'clock.

At only Primary 3, I strongly disagree that he attends all those tuition classes for an additional 3 hours after school.  Already exhausted after 5 hours in school, packing another 3 hours (what! eight long hours) in the same environment, with almost the same teachers is not proven to have any positive impact on the children's learning capabilities.  In view of this, I promptly went to see the Assistant Principal of the school to submit my application to have him exempted from the classes.

It wasn't difficult for me to convince the school that Wyng is better guided by his Mom as he is an above average student, being in the top 25 in his school.  According the the school, the system is started with the aim of keeping the students occupied productively after school hours.  But, why only curriculum is emphasized in this system?  There is only an hour of co-curriculum in the entire 'extra' classes.

I am not sure if the school has conducted any research to prove that the extra after-school hours can actually help students to excel.  Whatever it is, I don't doubt that the school has failed to consider the fact that not all students need to be 'educated' the same way.

Now, instead of clocking in 7.20am to 4pm on a daily basis, Wyng can be dismissed at 1.10 pm on Mondays to Tuesdays and 12.40pm from Wednesdays to Fridays.  He has his hearty lunch, finishes his homework after that and for the rest of the day, he either watches television, plays, does his reading or attends his Chinese or Kumon classes.

What's wrong with this? Nothing wrong at all and he will continue to enjoy such routine at least for another two more years.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What is my kid reading?

"Mom, see, his ambition is to be an accountant like you"

"This is how it works"
He reads manuals, he reads circulars, he reads brochures, flyers apart from his usual story books. In short, he reads anything with words, lots of them. Somehow, he is intrigued by how things happen and why things happen.

Whilst waiting for his brother during one of the Kumon classes, (well, he finished earlier sometimes) he grabbed hold of a Kumon newsletter.  What attracted him was the page with many tiny words listing down names of Kumon achievers.  He browsed through the photos of achievers and actually read (out to me) what the students felt about their achievements after taking Kumon. Some of them wrote about their ambitions.

Something I couldn't stand about him is he reads 'dry' and boring stuff such as manuals.  Here, in this picture, he was reading an operating manual of a vacuum cleaner. At this point of blogging this, I asked him the name of the vacuum cleaner. He went to his desk and showed me the manual from Dyson. He's still keeping the manual!

Don't ask me if this is a positive sign that this guy seems to love reading technical stuff.  Only time will tell.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back to school

The first week of school has flown past. As Wyng is in Standard 3 this year, there isn't many problems associated with resistance to go to school or stuff like that.  Wyng has to adapt to morning session. Same for Mom.

Transport has been arranged and all the rest.  What's new this year was I have to submit an application letter to exempt him from after-school tuition, similar to what I did for Hoe.  After spending a few hours in school, I got what I wanted done.

I'll blog more of my 'accomplishments' of the few hours I spent in this school later.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A wet holiday to remember - Part 2

The time the kids had been waiting for had arrived. We were finally at Bukit Gambang Water Park. 

Shunning the sun, I found a nice, cosy spot while the kids and Dad scurried to the rides. I nested there for a good two plus hours with only my books and netbook as company.  And of course, my groundnuts and orange juice.  Being a cashless theme park, Dad had bought some credit while I didn't.  One thing I like about this theme park is the availability of rest areas (called Cabana, as pictured here on the top right) for rental.  But, we were not early enough to get one.

This water park claims to have the biggest wave pool, Coco Beach.

After a good three-hour wait, Mom finally welcomed the kids and Daddy back from their fun and joy at the park.  As usual after dipping and playing in the water, all of them ate like horses.  The boredom of waiting and exposure to the sun were worth it as they gave a verdict of 'great fun at the park'.

A wet holiday at Kuantan with the family

Would you expect a holiday at a Kuantan resort to be hot and sunny? Sure is since our destination this time would be the Bukit Gambang Resort! So, there I went, packing singlets or sleeveless tees and shorts for the kids and myself.  But, instead of a holiday of sun and tan, we were unexpectedly greeted with relentless rain and gloomy skies.  Adamant that the east coast would be our holiday destination, we had totally forgotten about Mother Nature's power on the east coast around the end of the year. Going to the beach during the monsoon season around this time of the year somewhat turned our holiday into a wet one.

Thankfully, Wyng was dressed in a pair of long pants and jacket on his first day in an early morning journey. He was in his long pants and jacket most of the time we were in Kuantan.  Most of our car journeys were surrounded by cool and misty air and we didn't even turn on our air-cond.  "Sun, sun, where are you?" yearned all of us. We even thought we were at Genting at certain part of the place.  The kids prayed real hard that 'Smiley' would be out soon so that they could play at the water park.

"Rain,rain, go away, come again another day". From the highway to Kuantan town, we were accompanied by the continuous drizzle.  
When we finally reached our hotel at noon, it was still drizzling.  Not being able to check-in as we were 2 hours early and the kids also couldn't play at the water theme park in that wet weather, we decided to head to town to lunch first.

Daddy suggested Teluk Chempedak, (Chempedak Bay) a popular tourist destination in Kuantan since we were just a few kilometres away. As we neared the beach, the rain had stopped. This was our first time to this beach.  Stepping out of our car, we were pleasantly surprised that the waves were so choppy.  The refreshing strong wind made all of us felt that the drizzle prior to reaching the place had brought us to Teluk Chempedak.

Although it was a Sunday, the beach was not packed.  There were picnickers, children frolicking at the shore  and some beach activities such as kite flying and boating.  Many just lazed around to enjoy the strong wind and view.
We didn't want to 'waste' the view. There were McD and KFC and we chose the latter as it is nearer to the beach. What a view!

What a windy day!

Although the view outside is magnificent, we chose to eat indoor as it was just too windy out there
After our KFC meal, we took a stroll on the pavement along with scores of other holiday makers, taking some windy air.
Wyng with his 'drug' ice-cream, and Hoe having jolly fun

Hoe attempting to climb the coconut tree

As we reached the end of the pavement, we were amused by our roaming intelligent 'friends'. One of them, who was obviously thirsty,couldn't resist the bottle of apple juice left on the grass and efficiently broke it to quench its thirst.  The smart monkey, after drinking half a bottle, went on to harass a girl who dropped her bread out of fear, to the monkey.  After some pictures snapping, it's about time to check-in into our hotel.

It started to drizzle on our way back to our hotel, can you believe it? The kids were lamenting how unlucky they were as they couldn't play at the water park.  They could do nothing but wait for the Rain God to call it a day.  By the time when the drizzle stopped, it was late noon and to go into the park at that hour would mean that the kids could only enjoy for a couple of hours or two before it closed.  So, the final decision was to go to the park the next morning. The other water activity would be swimming at the hotel 'infinity' (so-called) pool.

Well, it's better than nothing.  Not a big and fantastic pool, but the kids, nevertheless, enjoyed themselves.

Hoe and Wyng had a whale of a time at the pool...
...despite the gloomy weather

At night, we drove out to Kuantan town, hoping to get some Chinese food for dinner. Compared to KL, Kuantan is never famous for its delicacies, so don't hope to savour any yummy food.  The further we drove, the heavier the rain got. After a fruitless hunt for Chinese food, we finally settled to eat at Pizza Hut at Giant. It was a good dinner though, good service too.

In order to spend the night 'productively', I took the kids to the family amusement centre located at the same hotel. Because of the drizzle (oh no!), they couldn't ride the carousel and others.  They settled for some of the arcade games there.

That's the end of Day 1, a wet, wet one...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A wet holiday to remember - Part 1

From the bay, we chose the lake as the next destination.

For Day 2 of our holiday at Kuantan, instead of going to the water theme park, we decided to start the day with a visit to Tasik Chini, 80 km from BGRC.  With no maps or GPS in hand, we adventurously followed the road sign and set out to our destination, taking us slightly more than an hour.  

Being our first visit to the lake and not having much information about it except that this is one of the largest lake in Malaysia, we didn't know what to expect.  All we knew was that we had to travel quite deep to reach the lake.  What surprised us was that the place, being a tourist destination, was too quiet.  There wasn't any economic activities, not to mention crowd.  From the picture at the entrance here, what you see is what you get.  There were hardly any souls except the few of us.  
After much anticipation, we quickly snapped a photo as memorabilia 
The jetty at Tasik Chini
Daddy suggested to take a 30 minute-boat ride on the lake, much to the kids' pleasure.  It was kind of eerie when we didn't see any other tourists or visitors until we reached the end of the jetty.  A family of about four were waiting for their boat to come.
An orang asli house on the top left. On the top right: Quite a gloomy view from the boat. Both the kids obligingly posing for the camera. 
We passed by the orang asli settlement. At one point, the rower told us that there used to be quick sand under the lake. That kept us, especially the kids, in awe for a while.

Dad and Wyng, enjoying the breezy boat ride.
Along most part of the lake, there are lots of mengkuang (screw pine leaves) plant (as can be seen in the video) which is used to weave mats.  The plants grow in such abundance that they seem to slowly dominate the lake. 

Not wanting to leave the lake yet, the kids and Dad fed the fish with bananas at the jetty.  Due to the monsoon, the water has risen. Notice the water level at the steps leading from the jetty on the top right? During drier season, the water doesn't reach that high.

Abundant mengkuang plants dotting the lakeside, as can be seen in the pictures.

Our prayers seem to be heard when the sun finally came out by the time we intended to leave the lake. We headed back to BGRC promptly.  As it was already going to be noon, we checked out from our hotel and drove straight to the water theme park which was just a stone's throw away.

Happy New Year!

This was the first time we counted down to the new year at my sister's house with the family.  We had dinner, potluck style. Lots of food, lots of laughter, especially the kids who get to mingle and chat during festive occasions and noise from the older 'generation'.  Not many, only 3 generations under one roof.  There was some 'drama' too to end the year. "Otherwise there's nothing to spice up our day!", enthused my sister.

Another memorable thing for me is that this was the first time I contributed something I cooked myself for this family function.  The fireworks display was shot from the balcony of my sister's apartment.  We'd never done this before, witnessing and shooting a video at such close distance. Quite a refreshing start for the year 2012!