Saturday, December 16, 2006
It is a good thing that Theophilus' Kumons center have a personalized ceremony for their pupils (at least those who get awards. i.e. bronze and above). So, we went for his prize giving ceremony - now to honour those in the particular center who are award winners. The previous ASHR ceremony was for Gold award winners alone... Ah, never mind... let's do it again.
There was the usual playing around....
Gracia is having fun... running around and putting her head into this picture-taking-board...
With a little help from brother, of course...
No help needed for brother.
Taking a shot with the chief instructor, Mr. Yang ... needless to say, there were many "ooo..." and "ahhh..." when he went up for his prize... there were only 2 Gold awards for Maths, and he is the youngest.
And the post-activity is similar to previous prize ceremony - he is caught polishing his medal (I am very proud of him. I must admit it, even though I am just his Dad and not the one going up to receive the prize.... It was like - Heh, that's my son!) Well, his first medal anyway...
And on his desk, there is an additional present. This is only given to Gold award students.... and how is the feeling like? Well, here's the expression....
And the additional present is.... a remote control car!
Someone in the crowd whispered:"Why we don't have the big present?". Mr Yang's reply is: "Is it really not easy to get Gold award...."
I know, I know. I have been watching him struggle to get it. Without hardwork, there is no reward. He have tried very hard. And it is not an easy thing to come by.
Theophilus told me this is one of the best day of his life.
He is looking forward to get the Gold award again, next year.... well.... I think that's a good idea.
Monday, December 04, 2006
I was booked on Qantas to fly to London, and transit to Philadelphia by British Airways. It all started wrongly! Qantas was late for departure for 1 hour.... and I thought that was fine, anyway, I have 3 hours of transit time... the weather came in. Heathrow was closed, the plane was diverted (and we only got to know very late in the travel... and not through the captain first! But via the Travel Map on my console directly infront of me).
Then, again, who can "blame" that pilot? It is the weather... we touched down at Amsterdam. They collected our head-sets. Switched off the entertainment system.... and were not allowed to disembark the plane. We were stucked in the plane for 2 hours - as if my 18 hours of flight is insufficient!
We were not served any coffee / tea (as hinted by the captain). We were not served any food (they did not cater for this). We were left hungry... and meanwhile, my plane over in London is approaching boarding time.
The cruel joke was that some passengers were actually going to Amsterdam. They were not allowed to disembark (well, who can blame them "again"?) But they were forced to fly to London (which we don't know when the airport will be reopen again). Anyhow...
We did fly off to London (and guess what? is my baggage going to Philadelphia directly or is it not?)...
We arrived at Heathrow. Honestly, that's not my favourite airport. It is supposed to be "International".... but they really need to upgrade it. The line that leads to Terminal 4 was very long. Due to the long backlogs... meanwhile my time is ticking away.
The strange thing about travelling in Heathrow airport is that they ONLY allow 1 baggage. Fine for me... not so fine for many ladies who are carrying their laptop + handbag. Anyhow, none of my business... let's move on with the queue.
After the customs check, I went to the Connection Flights counter or the staff just at the end of the queue. To my dismay, I could not catch my connecting flight on time.... I will need to reboard and get another boarding pass.
And guess how long we waited at the Connection Flights queue?
At one point, we were so hungry (remember? we were not served any food on our Qantas flight?), some passengers actually flared up. One obnoxious manager came out and said this to a complaining customer:
"Sir, what do you expect me to do? If you are not satisified with our service, I am very willing to switch you to another airline."
Absolutely, horrendous serivce by a British Airways ground staff. There are 8 counters and only 4 are opened (2 of them goes to Business class, 2 attends to Economy)... and the queue at the Economy is 20 times longer than the business class. Well... again... who can blame them, right? They are just doing the "right" thing.
Sometimes, I really think good service goes beyond the "right" thing.
And to add on to the injury - my baggage is still left behind at Heathrow!
So, I came to Philadelphia with just my laptop. Tired and hungry with no change of clothes.
One thing for sure - given a chance I will NEVER travel by Qantas and British Airways. And certainly not going through Heathrow airport. It is a terrible experience. The travel experience given by both air liners were way below what I believe is "International" standards. I believe there are worst ones... but that's not the point. If they want to provide service for international customers, they need to lift up to the image. Not to mention that it protrays a bad image as a national airliner to both countries.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
We made our way to NUS Cultural Center for the ASHR ceremony.
He was warmly welcomed with applause... good way to start off.
Well, what should we do? The ceremony have not started yet... so we play around...
Here is a picture to show you how he felt...
Sitting down is never an easy task... especially waiting for prize presentations!
Now, that he has received it... taking a shot with me...
Caught him polishing his trophy (the first of his collection)... perhaps, the sweetness of success will attract him further...
The trophy is sitting on his piano top... as a reminder to him...
Well, done, my boy. Well done. You deserved the applause.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Anyhow, my latest craze is my son's cartoon series - Avatar - The Last Airbender. Some of the quotes are here. No doubt... this is NOT the best cartoon for the typical Christian family, I must admit... so, this is NOT a recommendation. It is just a cartoon I enjoyed. I enjoyed the speech, the fights, the clowny faces... it is ... well.... cartoon. You might want to be aware of the cultural and religious influences (read here).
It is unfortunate that my Singapore's cable subscription through StarHub is ALWAYS repeating the backdated series. They are not even showing the latest series (which I cannot purchase on DVD) which is shown here in Nickelodeon here in US. So, why is my Singapore subscription of StarHub and viewing of Nickelodeon different from my US view of Nickelodeon? Sigh, I am on the verge of unsubscribing my cable TV at home. I am watching old stuff and paying good money.
BTW, this is the only "US TV Series" that I am following (only 30 minutes in front of the TV).
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
This one shows the joy of walking. It has been quite a while since I have learnt walking, so watching Gracia takes her walks without any support and the joy shown on her face reminds me of the little achievements we make in life (and we have taken that for granted).
Isn't she so cute?
Well, boys are different. Theophilus is building a castle...
Hmmm.... maybe we should take a civil engineering course prior to building anything....
We took a walk in the park (Fairmount Park) again... it is like our hideout... it has a big area for us to run and pick up leafs...
Mommy and girl... it is quite cold for us... can't imagine winter...
Family shot.... good thing my Nokia N70 has a second camera...
Someone is getting married...
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
So, to be "proud of children" is perhaps (often but not always) closely akin to the achievements of our children. Well, not that it is a good or a bad thing. We are proud of many things that our children do. For example, Theophilus actually walked up to a waitress 2 days back and asked whether he could take a piece of paper out of the restuarant. In a sense, he need not, yet when he asked he is "free" of thieft. And acted responsibily. I am proud of that behaviour. It shows his maturity and responsibility. There are other aspects, like for example, Gracia is starting to walk (unsupported) and I am proud of her attempt to make those brave few steps. In this case, it is an external expression. An achievement that is visual.
I seem to notice many gifted children lately. And as a parent, I (perhaps, or is it due to vainity?) ask myself whether my kid or kids are gifted. As it turns out, I think there is always challenges on both sides of the coin.
I read an article (written by a fellow Singaporean parent) on the struggle of parenting a gifted child. And I seem to see a small shadow of myself lurking in the article as well. And there was a line that caught my attention:
It would be good to be in the gifted program but even otherwise, I think his needs can be met – though a lot of effort and patience may be needed as there is perhaps already some level of damage done.
It would be good... but even otherwise. Wow.... good to be otherwise. Good even not in a gifted program? This might seem strange to many Singaporean parents. At least a good number of them (I know, some readers who are Singaporean parent might protest to my observation, but general statements are usually generally wrong anyway). To a good number of us, we push these kids pretty hard (I am not throwing any stones here. This is not a judgemental statement. I stand guilty and condemned). There seems to really a need to change our way of helping them along the way the journey of learning and becoming a wholesome human being.
And I think sometimes, I agree with the suggestion - not to be enrolled in a gifted program could also be a good thing. Our educational system seems to honor (sometimes, even going to the extend of honor ONLY) those who are elite in our society. To be normal is to be abnormal. What's wrong being normal?
If it (ever) comes to my turn to make the decision as to whether to enroll my children into a gifted program, I hope I will remember to also talk to them about how they feel about getting into one. If all his friends are going to the "normal" program, his learning will be a lonely process. Elite, as he/she might be... but alone. And that is not very healthy. We have many gifted elites who cannot integrate into the society.
Anyhow, children are like kites. Always pulling the string tault is not a good idea. Sometimes in order to make the kite fly higher, we need to let it go.... let it be a "real" kite.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I have taken the chance to write to Theophilus and Yan in this trip overseas. To 'betray' my feelings. To feel vunerable to those I love. To show them my inner thoughts, my feelings. Not just in the crafting of words. But how the characters are formed. The strength of writing... the angle and presentation form of my feelings. In conversation, we have tones... in writing, it takes a keen eye to read between the lines and even behind the pages (the strength used in the writing). It amazes me sometimes that people don't take note of such things. Certainly, we write with force and convictions... we shows more than just the arrangement of words.
I am going to the Post Office soon (after written the mails and cards for 2 days... I was not able to find the time to post it off... will do it during lunch break today).
Oh, on Saturday, I was visiting downtown Philadelphia... and was at one of the place where I read one of Benjamin Franklin's mail to his wife (Deborah Franklin). I like the letter... I wish I could see it in its original form...
It reads like this:
".... I sent you two saucepans, plated inside with silver instead of tinning. I bought them at Sheffield, because I thought they would please you..."
I thought of Yan when I read that. I miss her. Benajamin is so sweet. He was away. He bought them not just from a functional point of view. It was also because he thought "they would please" Deborah.
I hope my letters will arrive in the same way... that they might please them.
Monday, August 07, 2006
For those who are not interested to read on any religious or things pertaining to faith, well... just pass these by and go for the original chronicles, they will still exists.
OK, this is the first episode, the first page, the first blog on my faith and within the context of a father, so I will write on something that happens fairly recently - i.e. today.
It turns out that Theophilus is asking for more memory verses. He has memorized John 3:16 and wrote it down probably enough times. I've a short discussion with Yan and we decided to move him to Philippians 4:4. I think it is a great book to start of with. There are many verses tagged in there to change our mind - a great chance for transformation of our attitudes and our view of the world and events that occurs in our lives.
BTW, if you are looking for some good bible study material for your young ones, I highly recommend XTB (Explore The Bible) series. You can see them here. Theophilus have been using this series and he have enjoyed it very much. I have given out copies of it to my friends who have young kids (about 5 years old, i.e.) ... it is part of my contribution to the next generation of Christian.
Friday, August 04, 2006
To prepare for this long trip, I have setup my web cam both at home and on my laptop here. So, I get to "see" my family everyday which is always a good thing. In fact, technology have really shrink the world. Back in those days, video conference was an expensive thing and used only in office. Now? Well, I am on Skype and I talk to my family everyday. It is not the best thing, though, I still wish I am with them physically. It is still... different.
The difference can be quite sharp to me... as I have commented to one of my team mates with me now. I was mentioning writing a "snail" mail to Theophilus and post it to him, and he asked why not write him an email. Hmmmm... because "snail" mail have a personal touch? It is handwritten. I like handwritten mails. It is different. It has a different touch to it... even though I tecki guy... I still like "snail" mails.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
When he requested to run together with me 2 weeks back, I thought he was merely joking about it. Little did I realised that he was quite serious about this suggestion. So, yestarday, he brought up the suggestion again. To run with Dad....
I felt that training him is part of my responsibility. He is young, and training him young will be good... but 5 years old? Hmmm... a bit too young.... even to my standard. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead. To "train" him in cross-country running - for a mere starting distance of 1 km.
He suprised me.
He did not stop for more than 3 seconds during the 1 km of undulating terrain. It was quite an enjoyable run, though at the end of the run he was quite exhausted (just enough energy left to do his usual climbing of obstacles in the McRitchie playground).
It is great to run with my boy. I did not really start to train in cross-country running until I was about 10 years old... so, he is doing it half of my age. I did not want to discourage him by running way ahead, but to do it beside him... cheering him on.... knowing that once he "conquer" his first kilometer... there will be more to come.
I hope he will continue in less injury-prone sports (e.g. swimming). Running tend to wear off your joins easily especially for undulating terrain. I don't want him to suffer all the injuries before he reach his prime...
I am looking forward to another run with him. As for Yan and Gracia... they were waiting for us at the finishing point... he was so glad to see them!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Actually, I could not recall how I really got the idea of cycling. I mean... I could recall my brother helping me to get onto one, and holding onto the bicycle and riding downslope (downslope training is easier, but more dangerous?) And then... somewhere along the way, I could balance and ride on my own. It was not just as if I aquired the skill all in one day. I believe it was more like a week of practising.
So, today's is the first day I expose him to a really bicycle. Not that he was not on a real thing, but it was with two additional supporting back wheels. I removed those back wheels and brought him down to the park....
As usual, I go through the theory. Being an engineer here does help, I think?
First, it is how to get onto the bicycle. Ya, if you know how to ride on one, this is almost like second nature. But to one who is entirely new to this experience... ghosh, we really got to get to the basic and never ignore the steep learning curve.
As I said, it is how to get onto the bicycle. Part 1 was short. Holding onto the handles, climbing over, adjusting the peddles. Being familiar with which leg might be a "stronger" one which can help you to peddle off at the first push... due to job hazard, I even mentioned the angle of the foot peddle at starting point that will give the best push forward! It is as if I am going to calculate the force of the foot press... anyway, he did it quite naturely. At times, it was tough for him. He need to make sure that he has one foot on the ground. Balance himself and holding onto the handles, and ... once done... look up! He can get engrossed in the whole process of preparation that he fail to look up and move off.
I held onto his handles as I let him taste the fun of riding without the back two wheels. It was fun for him... well... not entirely enjoyable for my back after 20 minutes . The bending over and holding onto the handles was breaking my back. Good thing, I brought along his water bottle. We took breaks in between and look at the clouds and bring back the world of dinosaurs.
He is still not capable to ride on his own without support. But since it is just the first 40 minutes of training (module 1?) well... I think he is doing fine . I don't expect things to be magical. It is not like the movie E.T - with the touch of a finger, we take off into the air!
Overall, I did enjoy the company and the learning together. Yan did appear at the second half of the training. She got her hands dirtied. It is always good to have another method of teaching. Who knows? In this area, perhaps, her method might be more suitable? But her expectations were higher - she expects him to ride without support today (well, with a bit of falling off, of course).
It has been a great day.
Monday, July 10, 2006
One thing that attracted me to this set is that it is broken up to nice set of 2 volumes each. Futhermore, it is a full-color gift edition box set. However, there is a miss on the order of those volumes. My current box contains "The Magician's Nephew" together with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". Ahhh!!! I thought it should have been in this order:
1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician's Nephew
7. The Last Battle
To be honest, I did not know that it was more suitable for ages 8 and beyond. I bought it with the intention to read it together with Theophilus. And as an introductory material for him to go beyond into the more advance stages of reading.
He went beyond my expectations....
He read more than 2 chapters on his own and came asking for more. In fact, he stopped just to let me continue on the reading tonight that we might enjoy it together. (So nice of him to do just that). It was a delight to know that he is capable to move on to more advance materials (and even sometimes ... "dry" materials).
I notice from the publisher's website that I might be stuck with just this set... I could not find the rest of the volumes.... I hope this is just a temporary situation and that they will print all the rest quickly. I wrote in to enquire about it... let's hope it will turn out positive.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
On our latest favourite reading list this week:
The ArrowHawk. Read my review here.
Actually, I have in mind to buy this beautiful book. Theophilus seems to like it very much and have read it numerous time over and over again.
The second one on the list is this which is in his own personal library:
It is slightly more wordy and is quite a suitable book for him to get onto being a great reader. I am still planning on the series of books to really expose him to. I don't think I will go for Harry Potter series or things like that. Perhaps, I will choose the route of C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia. I will go for the complete set, and I believe he will certain enjoy it (with us or by himself). Someone did highlight the order of those books... I will keep that in mind...
Monday, June 26, 2006
After 10 days of working on his maths (with 2 sets of 250 sums to complete each day).... He made it! (He should get past Level C by the end of this year... without much pain) One of his senior teacher was filled with praise for him (for his tender age, speed and concentration level). In fact, I've to concentrate hard to mark his assessments lately. He is given 28 mins to complete his present set of worksheets. He is meeting the timing... and I think it is tough. 28 mins of full concentration. It is a lot of mastery for his age.
A closer shot now....
Now that the holidays are over.... he is slowing things down.
I am so proud of him. It is an achievement. And guess what we gotten as a "reward" for him?
Yes, it is Lego Knights' Kingdom. The last set... it is 8877! The cashiers raised their eye-brows when I paid for it (I could almost hear ... "You mean, this guy is buying this big set of expensive toy? He must be crazy").
He does not desire to have anymore sets. He said he has enough.
Yan spent the night building it for him... while he slept.... poor girl.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Well, wel, well.... it has been so long since I've last blogged isn't it?
Many things have happened in between. Kids gotten ill, I fell ill ... the bug circulates and passed around like a parcel. In fact, Gracia was one of the worst hit in the episode. She was down with bronchitis. Poor girl. Got to get her to the clinic, (btw, all these are aftermath now).... and as you can envision it - the clinic is FULL.
I mean, what a better season to fall ill? The school holidays, I am busy with project work... AND to top it? The clinic is filled with kids who are down with some flu bug or something. OK, the first victim in our family was Theophilus. I believe he might have caught the virus from his school (in fact, we were dead worried after we found out that there were cases of HFM in his school). To his delight, he was relieved from his last 2 weeks of school just before the holiday begins. Or rather the OFFICIAL holiday.
What blessings in disguised for him? What a nightmare to us!
Anyway, back to the girl - she was quite a poor thing. Quite restless and couldn't rest well at all. We even have to bring home the nabulizer. Well, it was only after the nabulizer treatment that things gotten better.
When we were back to the clinic for a review, it was ANOTHER long waiting session (3 hours I believe or ... to put it another way - my Saturday was maytred at the doors of the clinic). Yet, there were moments I could not help but play with some tune and words in my head. For example:
Doctor, doctor, quick quick quick,
My daughter, my daugther, she is sick
Nurses, nurses bill me quick
My daughter is restless and became a wiggly twig
Ah, a great amount of my life is spent waiting, queueing, .... such is the true of life. What do people do when they wait? It is a period of great agony to me. Well, I guess that is also part of my job description for being a daddy - Must be capable to transcient across the (waiting) time.
Friday, May 12, 2006
He has been working on it for over two years. I cannot say it was easy for him (there were times of disappointment, frustration and tears). The fact is that he is working on his weakest topic, so I must admit that this is quite an achievement for him - yes! he is on the Advance Student Club now. He is still struglling to keep up with it. Working hard to improve... it can be very tough when he moves on to a new higher level every time and it takes alot of time before he could master the topic.
Here is his picture on the notice board (since last week):
A closer shot:
He is the youngest in his grade to have achieved this far. Still a long way to go, but for now....
It is good enough, my boy. Good enough. Just continue to work on it...
The good part is that the discipline which he has harness during this learning experience, he is putting it into his piano lessons now. To him, practising his pieces is plain simple and fun.... what could be worst than doing his maths (under timing)? He is asking for more music lessons... it is so fun for him.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
We have celebrated his birthday last week. He is five. Five good years. If what studies say concerning the importance of the first five years of a child's life is important, then I think these five years is really well invested. There are signs of what we have trained him showing fruits - he is self-motivated to practise his piano everyday (without us pushing him at all. Amazing... but then piano is so much much much much more easier compared to his maths lessons... - from the horse's mouth)
It was a good time of celebration and was a simple one. The arrangement is requested by him. He did not want any fanfare. He just wanted to have all of us together. Goto the beach, eat sandwiches, enjoy some moments together... go home, and eat a cake. So simple. Previously, it was more elaborate. The celebration in school is as usual - cut a big cake, give out goodie bags... he was so happy on the day of celebration in school.
I've enjoyed him for five years. Every part of it. From diapers changing, to running at the playground, to reading, to drawing, to swimming, playing Lego together... catching fish, running after birds, pretending to be pirates or dinosaurs. Life have been enriched with his coming.
I am looking forward to the next five years. The toys that we play will be different. They topics that we dicuss will be different.... he will be fast approaching adolescence and will have different struggles. But I hope to be the person he can talk to and confide in even as he have more friends around him.... even as I grow older and perhaps... can't run as fast as I could a few years back.
Oh, guess what was the best gift (from his perspective, of course) for this year? Yes, he received more than 1 birthday gift from Daddy and Mommy every year...
The best birthday gift for this year is: A book! Here is the book.
He has been reading it and enjoying every story....
Monday, March 27, 2006
This is not my first trip out of town for a project. In fact, being in Sun for coming to 6 years... I've lost count on the flights... but only a handful were memorable. Today, my flight out is memorable. It has been quite a while that I've flown out without my family coming along. I am used to them around. I am "addicted" to their company. In fact, I find it hard to concentrate without them around me. So, when it is made known to them that I will be away for a couple of days.... there were alot of mental preparation.... Daddy is not going to be at home....
Theophilus wrote me notes. Love notes. He drew drawings for me. He comforted me:
Son: Daddy, if your customer makes you sad.... just open this drawing and remember me... and cheer up, OK?
Yes, being in the service arm of Sun does have it's "job-hazardous" days, and Theophilus is aware that I am trying to keep up my spirit.
At the airport, I could notice that he was not looking into my eyes when we parted. I believe he could not understand his emotions. He missed me so much.... and when asked by Yan at the escalator... the dam broke. He broke into tears. Big drops of it. He missed Daddy.
I have just touched down and washed up. Yan told me that he cried to sleep (what a lousy way to fall asleep)... He wrote on his diary today. It is a sad note.
He wrote 'i cried' on one whole page n it really looked like the words cried
It is never easy leaving my family behind and getting my job done. Sometimes, even customers don't appreciate that too (and take that for granted).
Don't cry, my boy. Before you know it, I will be beside you again. Sleep well, tomorrow you will be stronger to face another day. Sleep tight.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
It is a good thing to be a father. And even better to be a father of two kids! I could recall how interesting some of the growing milestones of Theophilus... and how they are unfolded once again in Gracia's life. I get the chance of savouring such moments again (well, with a little twist sometimes).
It was only like yestarday that Theophilus was the one who picked up his toy infront of him and throw it to the floor and watch how it rolls with the curious face of 'Ghee... what's happening here?'. Now, it is Gracia's turn. She is picking her toys and throwing them on the floor. She is curious. I am patient. She probably dropped it more than thirty times (look, I am not counting... but the stretching and bending... is not too good for me these days... getting old... or in engineering term - My back is suffering from fatigue stress, and if I don't take good care of it... it will go beyond the factual point.)
But I like to watch the whole episode. I put the toy infront of her. She picks it up. Look at me. Look at the toy. Place it over the edge of her walker, and drop it off. She bends over and look at the toy. What is in her little mind? Is she wondering why it is not breaking to pieces? Or is she trying to figure out the whole thing about gravity - why is the object moving down and not up like the balloon she saw the other day?
It is a mini-experiment. She is discovering the truth of our world. Data is consolidated. Hypothesis made and re-evaluated. They are turned to axioms. Re-challenged. Re-confirmed. The whole lesson went on again and again till she is satisfied with the conclusion.
I enjoyed the whole learning episode. I never mind the lesson of rediscovery of simple truths. I am attracted by her curiousity and her hunger to learn about this world - it is so different from the time she was 'in mommy's tummy'.
"Strangely", Theophilus could not recall this stage of his development. He could only take it as the truth when I told him that he did the same thing too - dropping toys onto the flow.... only thing he had one more act - he bit his toy after dropping them (what was he trying to check? that they don't change in form when they drop onto the floor?.... ) He is very patient with the little sister's learning. He is not fussed with the dropping of toys. He accepts it readily as part of learning. Just pick it up again. Just drop another one.
Soon, I will get to enjoy the other phases too. Like fussing over which hair-pin to get for her when she goes to school.... Ah.... I like parenting.