Wednesday, December 19, 2007
So, it is beach....
And beach... which is good ....
We did manage to catch a few crabs... yes, in the red pail that I am holding.
I think the morning walk on the beach is nice....
Good thing my camera can take pictures in two ways....
The beach is still quite empty... they actually have to smoothen the sand every morning...
Nope, we didn't stay on those apartments... we are more land-loving people....
What the brother does.... the sister will do...
She is climbing up.... and tells me not to take the shot first till she climbs up....
No, girls don't climb trees.... at least not to me.... now come down!
Believe me... this is a tough shot. Yan is tickling her actually...
Oh, I was suprised to know that they have a farm in the resort. It is like a mini-zoo... so it is animal feeding time...
As usual, he need to touch those creatures...
And feed them....
And feed them more food....
The bad experience that Yan and myself got: We were badly bitten by some mosquitoes.... and it is really badly bitten. Good thing the kids are spared. I went to see a doctor for it, it didn't work that well. Suprisingly, the Aloe Vera Gel from Jorubi did a better job.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
The whole family clapped and celebrated his improvement. It is really difficult for him to do it all right and so quickly..... and at times, when I overlook his shoulders.... I found that my answer is wrong. So he is quickier and more accurate than us now... hopefully, he will get stronger and stronger as the days roll on.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Today we have the award giving ceremony for Ten-Mile junction.
It is a ceremony to encourage the students who have tried hard and excel. Never mind whether it is gold, bronze or silver. They are getting a pat on the back to let them know they are heading the right direction. That to me is very important.
Here you see, Theophilus with the rest of the kids waiting for the ceremony to start....
While the brother is waiting... so is the sister... need to keep her occupied... come on, let's do some writing...
In case you are wondering, yes, she has hit pass her letter "J" now and moving on to "K". She is quite a self-motivated girl. She practises her writing of alphabets on her own.
There is a very interesting video clip of the students... what they want to be. Here is a short list from what I remembered:
4. Chef (not bad huh?)
5. Judge (wow)
8. Astronaut (my son!!!)
Well, I have thought of most of them as I was a boy too (especially the fireman and soldier too). I did consider muscian, mathematician and at one point a scientist. Not a doctor. I hate needles. Never mind about poking others and not myself. I still got to look at them when I inject someone isn't it?
Here you have it, Mr. Yang and Theophilus. Mr. Yang is his teacher... very patient with him, believe me when I say teaching him maths can be just one level above eating broken glass. The "funny" thing is that once he gets it, he flies faster than I could read the question!
He is getting his Gold award this year.
Gracia cannot keep up with all these... she needs food...
Theophilus is excited about his prize. He was just expecting his usual medal, but it came with an additional suprise - a set of vouchers too.
Here you have Mr. William Tan making a speech.... I am glad that he told the kids to quiet down... what a din! And now William and Theophilus taking a photo together. It ended well...
Forget about the food, let's take another shot with Mr. Yang again...
I always try to look at what he does with the awards.... I caught him again polishing this new medal (and it can be polished!!!)
He was using his shirt to polish his new medal!
Now, the medal sits on his piano top besides his trophy and believe me, he says this is such a nice medal. To me, I think so too - it has a star on it and to the kids ... stars mean something special to them.
BTW, in case you wonder about something. I think it was really very nice that William taught the students to thank their parents (and people who have helped them). Theophilus thanked us more than 3 times after the ceremony, and I know he really meant every word that he said. To me that's a virtue I want to instill in my kids - gratitude. Not just being an intelligent kid, we need to have kids who show gratitude. It will go a long way in life - more than the fractions that he is doing now....
And what does Theophilus wants to be?
Yes, he wants to complete his journey in Kumon - to be a Kumon completer, I think he is heading in the right direction.
Well done, boy!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Here we are before taking the cable car. BTW, there was a promotion - we can get discount as Singaporeans if we produce our Identity Cards and the kids get discounted tickets too. So rush for the cable car fun before the holiday runs out.
Here is how the Integrated Resorts look from the cable car....
We are reaching the end of the ride....
We went to the butterfly kingdom....
Quite a few nice exhibits here (free promo for them)...
As usual, static displays is a yawn to Theophilus.... he needs to touch. He learns by touching living objects. There was only a few "live" things. How about a turtle?
It is so scary putting your life in the hands of a small boy.... put me down quickly!!!
Good thing that's not the end of the tour... the second part is nicer actually.... the collection of bettles...
Took a rare shot of myself.... most of the time, I prefer to take photos instead.
Heh, these guys look like our angsana seeds....
How could we leave without taking photos of his favourite three-horned bettle?
Well, Gracia is having a nice time dancing...
And seeing the real one in action again....
Took the cable car ride back..... btw, even for this short trip.... we are tired. But it was sure fun having the whole family around to celebrate our 10th year!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Here you have my two kids.... Theophilus with his new found treasure - a coconut!
I found a crab (dead), and a clam ... mostly dead, I think.
I have quite a bit of time with Theophilus and I always enjoy the time talking to him. He swam by the edge of the waters, with me walking besides and we talked. Just father and son.
Son: Daddy, you know last time the world was just one island....
Dad (thinking to himself): Wow, he knows contential drift at 6 years old? I only knew it at twice his age...
Son: Ya, and it broke up. Really!
Dad: Where did you learn that from?
Son: From a book... and it says we come from monkeys (actually, should be apes, but he says monkey, never mind)
Dad: Really? And you believe in that?
Son: The book says so....
Dad: You think that's true?
Son is slient.
Dad: What did the bible say? ..... Didn't the Bible says that God created Adam and Eve?
Dad: Did the Bible says that God created the monkeys and they became Adam and Eve?
Son: (broke out laughing) From monkeys? Ha ha ha ha
Dad: Well, God created the animals and that before He created man. So, the book was in some sense right. So, God must have created the Dinosaurs too before he created man. But Man from monkeys? Well, that's a wrong deduction.
Dad: You see, it is scientific. But it is a wrong deduction in this instance. We didn't come from monkeys or apes. The bible is clear about this. God created us. We are special. So no monkey business here, OK?
Son was contented with the answer and that settles it while he swam back to mom and Gracia. We were created. The animals were created before us (so the chart was right up to a point).
So, Darwin.... you have a missing link - God.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
To all moms out there - this is really to honour you! You must be the super creatures here on earth!.... and Yes, any character flaw in our children must be due to their "father's DNA". Ha ha ha ha ...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Remove the lock. Release the catch. Turned the keys....
The first lovely words fills my ears, and with that come visual effects - Theophilus came running with open arms.
He is holding on to a trophy. Hmmmm.... it looks like the one he received on his prize presentation ceremony earlier, but no..... his eyes are sparkling. With his fingers pointing and words overflowing....
Theophilus: Daddy, you see? It has my name on it!
YES!!!! It has. It has his name. It has his level. It has the year (2007). It has the word "Gold". It even have the Kumon's thinking face. It is his. It belongs to him. Not a cookie. A real one. An award. His. His. His.
I dropped my laptop and carry him up. Gracia came running behind. Two in arms. Tiredness forgotten. A short celebration - in case you are wondering, Yan is cooking in the kitchen.
He could not stop telling me of the wonderful experience he received in the training centre today. They call out to him. They presented him the "new trophy". They clapped and cheered him on. It is as much as an experience as he have had in last year's ASHR ceremony (minus the dim lightings, but heh, those are not important).
He felt good. I asked him, of course, why he felt good. He couldn't say - just that it is a good feeling and uplifting. Well, I know it. I felt it before. It is recognition of your hard work. A taste of success. An affirmation that you are heading the right way (heh, nobody likes to bang heads on a piece of work every day and do not get the hope that he is heading somewhere and the "right" way).
He ate his dinner. He is tired, but it cannot bring down his joy. I can see it on his face. I could see his delight. I could see a shade of shyness to it. He is not apt to lying and he cannot say "it is nothing" when it is "something" to him.
I would really want to thank the staffs of Kumon on this special experience he has today. It meant something to him. And it does to me if it does to him. I don't need the clapping. I have my share of it already. His journey will be a long one, and I hope this is one of those that enhance his self-image. Enhance his confidence and reliance that success do come from God.
I wished I were there to drink up the entire session. Every movement. Every sound. Every lighting. But alas, it is good enough. Good enough for me, and really appreciative and thankful for all that worked out.
Well done, my boy! Well done.
Those were my last words to him as I set him to bed....
Saturday, November 10, 2007
We wrote to William on a separate email to express our disappointment and provide our feedback. And guess what? He wrote back! To be honest, I was suprised.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Paul Ho,
I am grateful that you write to me and share your thoughts about the ASHR Ceremony.
I felt terrible after the ASHR ceremony last Saturday because I made similar observations like you. The increase in ASHR students was a great motivation to us, and the sharing by the child Soo Yen and her parents were an inspiration, but at the end of the day, I did not feel good like the previous year. Reading your email and blog, it becomes clear where have gone wrong. You are excellent parents who know the importance of genuine motivation for the child's efforts, but we have failed on our part to do what is most fundamental: motivation of children one by one. I am most sorry to bring disappointment to your child and family. Learning from this lesson, every single child shall be the focus and theme for 2008.
For the trophy, I agree that the name is important. I am sure your boy, Theopilus's trophy with his name engraved is being prepared. I am discussing with Mr. Yang to see how I can present to him in the soonest possible time. I understand that Mr. Yang is preparing his center ASHR at the Head Office in December. This time, for Theopilus and the other children, we must do it right.
Kumon Asia and Oceania
Wonderful!!! We are seeing the same picture. And I am so happy to work alongside with William and his staffs to improve on the situation. I am hopeful that we can bring a better experience when the opportunity arrives again....
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Yes, today is a special day. We have been waiting for 1 year. Since last year. Hard work. Tears, and at times frustration coupled with disappointment. It is an understatement that today should be the highlight of the year. A glimpse of success. But how disapointed I must be with Kumons' Advance Student Honoury Roll (ASHR) ceremony today.
Perhaps, it is my second and therefore I have something to compare against. However, as you will read from the rest of my blog for today you will see that my disappointment is not unfounded (especially those who have attended it last year).
Last year, Theophilus walked into the reception area with much gusto. There were two rows of Kumons staff clapping to welcome his arrival. He went around taking photos. He queued excited and in anticipation with me to get into the hall. We sat together waiting for his turn to get to the stage to receive his Kumon's Star trophy - personalized with his name on it and the year! Food was not an issue (we don't stay to eat and minger anyway).
This year? None of those happened. In fact, it was quite opposite. We walked in unnoticed (by the way, we even made the effort to walk a bigger round to enter through the main entrance - Theophilus was REALLY expecting the usual fanfare welcome). His anticipation of welcomed with clapping of hands was replaced with staffs busy - busy talking among themselves. I am not trying to be whinny here - but it is really true - there are so many Kumons staff standing around talking among themselves. They could have helped out to make this day a special day for the children. They are not. They are not enthusaistic. It was a sad sight.
Yes, there is still photo taking session. Those Kumon's board which the children like to stand and pose against. And to my horror - the photos taken (I gave 4 chances - 2 for Theophilus and 2 for Gracia) were taken in very bad way. Certainly not taken in a way that meets the Kumons philosophy of perfection. If I have a scanner here tonight, I would have proved it to Mr. William Tan (MD of Kumons). It is utter disappointing! How could they do this? The staffs just want to go for mass production - quickly, next child. Quick next child. Quick next child. No sense of personalization. This has gone to be very cold.
This year, no parent is allowed to sit together with his/her child. The ushers were not in the best of tone.
"Parents, please move in and filled all the seats..."
Well, reading that does not reveal anything. Hearing it will give you the creeps. Are they talking to me?! Commanding me?! Or simply ordering?! The words can be so right that you cannot fault them - yet you do get the feeling that they are rushing this whole event (perhaps for the afternoon session?).
I tried to hide my disappointment from Theophilus.
William made the usual speech. He cut his hair (as he did every year). He congradulated the kids for doing well. The number of pupils who gotten Gold award this year have increased together with the population of children joining the programme....
As a parent of child who is going through the programme, I must say that Theophilus have benefited from it. But not today. It is so in-personal. Even the trophy!
Nope. It is not a Kumons Star Trophy this year (which came in a nice box last year). Nope, it is not metallic (even Theophilus was bored when trying to "polish" the gold). It is plastic. Yes, it is tall. Nope, there is NO name on the trophy. Every single of them. The same. Every single one of them. THE SAME!!! Are they making cookies? Are they paying me lips-serivce when they say that every child is unique? What have they shown today really makes me doubt their ability to put words into action. They have moved into commercialization from education. I really wished William were to read what I wrote here tonight and apologize to the many parents and children who attended this ceremony. This might be an oversight. But what an oversight!
This is utterly disappointing! They made no effort in this aspect (i.e. the trophy) to make it special for these children. Is it due to cost cutting? It is due to lack of time? Is it due to the large number of children getting the award that by having a personalized name and year on the trophy cost so much? What is the reason of such cold treatment? What is the reason for such patronization? Is this really a ceremony to celebrate those who have put in the effort to mantain the high standard? Or another opportunity to sell "the completer" marketing effort?
I am not enthusaistic about next year. I don't know how to use today as a catalyst to propel him to go for next year's ASHR ceremony. In fact, I could not honestly do it. With such level of personalization? I rather he forget about the ceremony. Leave the trophy to them. I could reward him with a better one. When the heart is not there, the gift is cold and tasteless.
I know the objection to what I have written is "But Kumons has given your child a much better reward. He is now an independent learner...." Try raising a kid for yourself and see how you stomach those words. It tastes bitter to me. Hollow and patronizing. This is my boy. He felt it. I felt it.
I really don't wish that Kumons will turn from education to commercialization. No doubt they are into the business of making money through education. But don't do it without sensitivity to your customers!
Nope. I don't look forward to the next ASHR ceremony. It is a great disappointment. A let down to say the least. Perhaps, the center's award ceremony might be better. That is the last chance of using such event as a support to him during those "tough" moments of learning and training.
Yes, I am utterly disappointed with today's ASHR ceremony.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Even though I know his threshold for pressure have increased these couple of years, but I don't want him to loose his steam and joy of learning altogether. Learning is fun and should stay that way.
Ah, it was our fault. We forgotten all about his Chinese spelling test today. Only realized that after breakfast. He was so forgiving:
Son: Its OK. Its OK. Just give me a few minutes. .... (he then ran off to look for his pencil and book to practise his Chinese spelling test for today).
I must say that his memory is quite good and most of the time we don't bother about his spelling (especially his English weekly spelling test - yes, he gets full marks and we don't even know on which day is his test nor the words). But for Chinese... well... we need to keep an eye - just one eye, that is.
I hope he gets by today's spelling test. Won't fault him if he didn't do well.... I should have remember to revise with him. He was still holding to the list of words when I drove him to school.... but he looked very relaxed.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Your IQ score is 122
Your Intellectual Type is Visual Mathematician. This means you are gifted at spotting patterns — both in pictures and in numbers. These talents combined with your overall high intelligence make you good at understanding the big picture, which is why people trust your instincts and turn to you for direction — especially in the workplace. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.
Heh, must I remind you that I am an average guy - holding an average job, but relatively happy? Apart from vanity, there is little contribution to such test to me.
There was a moment which Yan and myself debated whether we should expose Theophilus to such test. We are not that keen. But we know that they might go through such a test (optional) during primary 3 for screening out the top-level talents. It is a tool that is used by the Ministry of Education to identify those super-talented-gifted children. Send them to special programmes and maybe make them to be the leaders of the next generation.
Well.... whatever it is, I know I am hovering between some numbers and most likely those numbers are skewed by how many sandwiches I taken in the morning.
Oops! They did mention that "Most adult intelligence tests are designed for people who are at least 16 years old. For this reason, if you are younger than 16, your Tickle IQ score might be slightly lower than your "true" IQ." Guess, I am not handicapped due to the inevitable aging process (is it still known as the 2nd law of Theomodynamics?)
There was a cute comment on that test site:
wow! im thankful for taking a logi course this year! i scored 124! i felt bad at first, think it was out of 1000! lol!
Ha ha ha ha
Well, I hope I didn't fail too. But what the hack? Life is more than mere intelligence.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Anyhow, back to the IQ test. Yes, I was tempted to check out whether have I "improved" on this facet of my intellect (if I have much to measure, that is).
And yes! I passed. At least to some - I am normal (or above average). What is average? I don't know actually. I am already average. I am NORMAL!!!! Great. Isn't that great? It is good to know that I am average and normal. I don't need to be super intelligent actually. I am already happy with myself.
I am happy to have a team member who is at 120. He is considered "Very superior intelligence". And I tend to agree to that. He has always been on the Dean's list. .... well, I always joked that I have been too - just that I have been on the "Naughty list".
Anyhow, I am normal and I am like the rest of the 50% of this world. That is so nice.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
These 2 weeks, I have been searching at the bottom of my coffee table. For magazines. Not just any magazine. I am looking for magazine with huge prints. Best if it contains lots of capital letters.
Yes, I am teaching Gracia how to recognise alphabet. Her learning approach is a slight twist from her brother's. She is not just visual / graphical. She has a "hook" on shapes actually. So, letters are of different shapes. And that's her starting point.
Dad: This is "A". Say "A"...
Dad: Now, where can you find more "A"s... can you circle for me?
Gracia: Over here! ....
(circles it up)
Dad: Good! How about here?....
This "Find-The-Alphabet" game is fun. I like it. We circle all those "A"s. Then we moved to "B" and .... it is a very slow process. She is getting it. And we are not going to stop anytime soon.
Reading. To me it is a tool. A key. A key to a world of discovery. And as a Christian - the needed skill for her to read the Bible on her own and understand it. Reading is not just eye-ing of characters. It provokes emotions. It enlightens us. It moves us to action. Reading requires thinking, understanding, ... though I must admit at times - an unfair situation. Why "unfair"? Because I voluntarily enter into a monologue. The authors speaks constantly to me. I have a private exchange with him - which he cannot respond! Now that's unfair!
Theophilus has good reading habit and skill. His ability to comprehend what he reads is amazing. And, sometimes, we shape him through the choice of books. We have many books at home. I am a great fan of books. Some parents feel it is a waste of money (or at least feel but don't voice it out the way I am writing now). I don't see it a waste of money. A good book can bring us far. It is a constant enjoyment. Better than watching television or a movie. I get to color the places. I get to imagine how the wind howl. I fly through thick clouds and sit in the eye of a storm.
When I was younger in Secondary school, I have had an interesting situation. I was the only fellow in the class of 40 who broke out in laughter while the teacher was reading out "Things Fall Apart". My literature teacher, of course, asked me what's the joke. Sure, an explain "joke" is not as laughable when explained. Nevertheless, I did explain what was so funny in that section of the story - which my teacher smiled in approval (yes, she did reveal to me that she was wondering why the class was not laughing out loud).
I want my children to enjoy reading. Not just eyeing of characters or words. Some authors are great word craftsman. The words are so carefully chosen. They are almost like Christmas gifts waiting to be unwrapped. Waiting to surprise and delight the careful trotting reader.
I am also disgusted with bad books. Books that promote wrong values. Books that bring harm. Some authors are best kept in prisons or locked-up. They poison the mind. The spill venom on the canvas of young minds. Zoe brought to my attention on such a book today. They appear Godly but are corrupted. They give assurance when there is no ground for such. I need to steer my children far away from such materials.
Meanwhile, I will continue to build on the foundations for Gracia.... let's circle the "D"s....
Thursday, October 18, 2007
So, don't just read, but do it!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Well, at least, I have a relaxing break (minus the drive which is quite long).
Our family took a trip to Cameron Highlands over the weekends, and to celebrate Gracia's second birthday. The drive was really killing at one point, especially the way up to the resort which requires me to do so many turns. Anyhow, I am very thankful that we made it without any accident or landslide.
We taken some shots using my good-old-faithful Olympus digital camera. Here are some shots.
Here we are.... evidence that we did go to the Rose centre. Not a fantastic place, I must say....
perhaps, I am not that much of a "rose-lover"? But some of the flowers were quite pretty. Like this one...
Quite a big garden actually...
Not forgetting to pose?
Ah, that's Gracia. She is not good at posing for the camera. It is better to take candid shots on her.... will try again later.
Theophilus is better at posing (when he is not up to nonsense).
One last look at the roses...
Verdict: I won't go there again. Not for the entrance fee vs experience value.
Second stop: Strawberry farm....
Here is how the flowers look like....
and here is the "forbidden fruit" - yes, we are told NOT to pluck them.
Verdict: You should not buy strawberry from strawberry farm! Suprisingly, it is cheaper just down the road. All the talk about "fresher" while in the farm - I don't buy that. I bought mine at the road-side stalls and taste better than those samples provided by the farm. No, I won't go back to the farm.
Next stop: Butterfly garden.
Well.... not just about butterfly. By now, I am quite used to paying enterance fees. But, I am pleasantly suprise. Much much to my suprise.
The attraction of the butterfly garden for our family are NOT the butterflies (honestly, I think the Singapore Zoo's Fragile Forrest has just as much as a good view too). The thing that really caught us by suprise is the enthusaism of a keeper there.
Theophilus gets the best out of this trip. The keeper took out
Yes, the Rhino-bettle. This little fellow looks fierce, but he eats fruits! A vegeterian!
Even, Gracia is not spare of the fun...
I guess, she is "talking" to it... there is some communication down there... just hard for me to decifer...
Theophilus get to handle the lizard...
Or even have a scorpion on his head! Yup, I think he is brave.
Handle a frog...
Well.... now, the butterfly part...
Verdict: Super value for money. Theophilus gave it a top-vote and vouch to go there again without objections. I think it is highly due to the keeper who was there and he matched his enthusiasm on insects and reptiles. But much much better value compared to the rose garden or the strawberry farm.
We went to the bee-farm. No shots taken. Short tour.
Next stop: Tea leaves plantation.
A short tour on BOH tea center and I get to eat at the caferia.... I think it is one of the most relaxing place to just sip tea...
Yan took a very relaxing shot...
I take a relaxing shot....
Theophilus took a relaxing shot too....
That's all for the tour.
Verdict: Not too bad a place to drink tea. Considering the education-tour around the factory and the scenic caferia. Worth the effort. But not against the hours of drive to reach Cameron from Singapore. Yet, I think this is one of the more memorable stops of our trip.
In the night, we celebrated Gracia's birthday with... a slice of cake. Yup, we don't take too much cake after the last overdoze during Yan's birthday.
And just before we left Cameron on Sunday (Gracia's birthday) back to Singapore...
All dressed up ready to go. Yup, she threw up twice on the way down from Cameron Highlands even though I was driving very very slowly. She couldn't sleep and was singing along the way.
By the way, my Dopod gave me problem during this trip. I couldn't use my SIM card when I was up on Cameron Highlands, was OK along the way. And could only recover it when I am back home after switching SIM card with Yan on my old N70.