Sunday, July 20, 2014

Christopher's Swimming Lessons

After much seeking, found a swimming class for Christopher - Swimcube @ The Strand.

It's indoor. The pool is about 3/4 the length of a shoplot. The remaining 1/4 is where parents wait around.

He has had a scare with pools before. Thus one of the reasons why I chose this class for him. The pool is not that deep and he is tall enough that he can stand in it. So, it takes away half of his fear.

On his first class, he was half excited and half fearful. His sister went with him on his first day since we wanted to know if she was ready for lessons as well. So perhaps his sister's greater fear made him slightly braver. He didn't go down the pool the right way. He wanted to go face first - something, I guess, about meeting your fears head on. But I am glad the 2nd time he went down the pool, he did it the right way.

On his first lesson, hubby and I stayed and watched outside, peeping through the sliding glass. We were chased out because my daughter kept crying for me every time she saw me. Without me there, she actually did very well. As for Christopher, we heard him talking and talking to the instructor. Instead of accepting instructions and doing as he was told, he tried to negotiate with the instructor to do it his way - the lazier way. Even once we heard him 'scold' the instructor as to why he let go of the float when he promised he would not. The instructor calmly told him that he has reached the end of the pool! And all this while my crying baby girl clung to his neck for dear life!

So after lesson 1, Caylee proclaimed with fierce determination NO MORE SWIMMING for her. And Christopher jumped up and down asking us to come back for class tomorrow. He is into his 3rd lesson now. He is excited as he is learning free style now. I am glad he likes his lessons and hope he will learn to swim soon.

As for Caylee, she actually did very well in her one and only lesson. She had the stamina to kick the entire length of the pool where her brother could not - sometimes being able to stand in the pool does not help at all! But she is happy to see her brother go in and she remain firmly high and dry.

I am happy for both of them either way. They aren't too young to be making some choices in life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Conscious Parenting

Was reading through a Newsletter of my daughter's previous play school today and they had an interesting article on Conscious Parenting.

Listening to the 2 Youtube links provided in the newsletter, some words spoken by Dr. Shefali, clinical psychologist and Dr Becky Bailey, CEO of Conscious Discipline, seemed to leap out at me. One of them being 'excuse'. It was used in the context that we are parents and there is no excuse for us to ever stop being a parent. Being a parent should always be our priority if we choose to have kids. Not that we cannot have time for ourselves. But when we are at home and with our kids, we should be a parent to them when they turn to us, their parents.

I went on to view more of the videos under Conscious Discipline and more and more of the things that Dr Becky mentions are very real to me. Reactive disciplining is very common. I am guilty of yelling at the kids to stop screaming at each other. And I snatch back a toy from my girl and scold her from snatching from her brother. Dr Becky mentions that when things like this happen, take 3 deep breaths.

What happens when we take 3 deep breaths is that sometimes a CD ROM in our head starts to play. We hear phrases like "I need to teach them a lesson." or "I am cooking, where the heck is daddy to handle this?" or "Give me a break, I am so tired already". And we have to stop the CD and instead replace them with thoughts like I am calm, I am able to handle this, I am ok (she used safe, but I prefer OK).

Because if we don't and have reactive disciplining instead, it will end up with us feeling guilty and trying to make up to our kids for it. AND THESE KIDS KNOW IT !

Dr. Becky also mentions frontal lobe development. When we take the deep breaths and use positive words, it takes us from the center of our brain, the reactive place to the front of our brain, the conscious place. And when we reach there, we can then use the frontal lobes to help us make disciplining conscious.

As long as we don't use our frontal lobes, we will be reactive. And for our kids, it takes them 2 decades to have fully developed frontal lobes. And in this 20 years, we as parents must help them be their frontal lobes and help them develop their frontal lobes. It is a tiring job - not only do we have to be in control of our own frontal lobes and use it often but we must also be frontal lobes for our kids and help them develop theirs.

It's an interesting video. Have a listen. Maybe it can help you in some ways too.

Understanding the Frontal Lobe

There's one on temper tantrums too!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Open Day - meeting the teacher

Meeting the teacher and seeing his results and position in class takes a whole new perspective now that he is in Standard 1. Perhaps as the years go by I will get used to this and it will be just another day in school.

It was quite a journey after his exam and seeing his results come out one by one. The most disappointing subject for me was his Math. I expected him to do so much better since we have been giving alot of emphasis on his Math since kindergarten. But I realized that it was not Math that he didn't know but the language that pulled down his grade.

The other up and down ride for me was when the teacher posted he got a 52 in his Science. I know my son and if he tells me he did OK, it definitely doesn't call for a 52. So, for almost 2 weeks before Open Day I was thinking maybe he really misinterpreted a section and did it totally wrong.

Anyways, during Open Day itself I saw his Science paper and it was not a 52. Damn....I felt so 'cheated' that I had to go through all days of wondering. At any rate, I am glad he did well for no other reason than that how he thinks he did is almost how he really did.

He was positioned 19 in class which ain't that bad. With this new assessment, it doesn't matter anyway what your position is and he just needs to be in the better band within the subject assessment. Heard the school may open another class next year for the weaker students which would be a good thing for those who really cannot cope with the current pace of class.

Any reward for him? No. I told him studying hard is his responsibility and not something I will need to reward him with. But truth be told in my own quiet way I will reward him for being patient and willing to study hard. He is quite a good boy in that way.

Church Camp 2014

So I told myself when my son starts being able to go to camp, I will help out. 2014 marks the first year.

Being new to the camp, there were many things to learn. It was a good thing I had great team members.
It seemed there were a lot to ready myself with initially. It was kind of overwhelming at times. But things started to fall into place, and into perspective.

I think what I loved most preparing for the camp was the total reliance on God. It felt good to feel the heart of God and follow His prompting.

As it is I am not an overly excitable person. And most times I feel that events like this require me to be excited and eager and loud - if for no other reason than to make the kids excited and eager and respond. But I realize that there are others who worked alongside me who were not like that. Some were doing work quietly and some motivated personally. Is it a group leader thing that I placed myself in such a role? If I were a helper instead, would I have reacted differently to the situations in the camp? In fact looking back at the videos in the camp, I wonder who that person that looks like me is?

Talking to kids I don't know on the first day was also tough for me. It was exhausting trying to coax them to talk and tell us their darkest deepest secrets. And being the private person that I am, I found it tough to keep the group talking and excited about topics of interest. I rather prefer the quite times with individual kids praying for them and getting them brave enough to pray for me. It's a wonder that as a kid grows, their ability to pray out loud diminishes if not prompted continuously by their parents and teachers. This was a lesson to me to always give my kids the courage to pray out loud in a group.

Son fell sick 2nd day of the camp. Which made me feel sad because there is a different kind of bond that is developed when you 'play' with your son in a church camp. The setting is formal and you see the way he interacts with his peers and group leaders. And you see that social part of him that emerging right before your eyes. It was touching to a mother seeing her son in a different light.

At the end of the camp, I did feel a little sad. Partly because I know the stories of my kids and feel sad that I cannot follow up further. Partly also when you have pushed yourself to the high, coming back down to the middle ground takes another round of effort. After surviving the camp, teaching, being teacher in charge and even organizing Easter and Field Trips ain't that hard. Perhaps because the people I need to be involved with are a great bunch. Working with any other people I don't know still seems a far off ability.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Penang and Ipoh 2014

Why is it that I am feeling this only now?

My recent trip to Penang via Ipoh made me realize a few things:

1) In the local supermarkets in Penang, aunties rule the aisle. And when not serving you, they are busy chatting with each other. These are slightly older than middle aged aunties, making use of their time earning some small income while still meeting their need to talk. Perhaps the ease of travel to work enables them to continue working.

2) In most restaurants, the people who work there are local chinese people. Seldom did  notice an foreigner serving my food or wiping my table. Of course I am  refering to restaurants and not the big scale food courts. So much so, I felt 'safer' allowing my kids to put their elbows on the table (which was dry after being wiped with a wet and then a dry cloth). And the fact that a local served me my rice and dishes somehow made a slight difference.

3) Surprisingly drivers in Penang are very tolerant. They don't squeeze you out of a junction so that they make the turn faster than you. Neither do they honk when the car in front keeps looking at the side instead of looking to the front and driving better.

4) Drivers in Ipoh on the other hand seem to love to honk. They honk when you are trying to reverse out of your parking bay. They honk when they are coming and you seem to want to make that quick turn.

5) I wanted to get some 'leong sum' for the kids. Went into a chinese medicinal shop and asked for it. And the guy could tell me that he does have it, but the quality isn't that great. So, he would rather not sell it to me. Please can you go here and her to buy instead. Initially I was shocked but after a while cynical me emerged and I was like 'Huh....are you really that honest?'

At any rate, this trip to Penang was not the best. The boy was recovering from a sore throat so we had to be very careful with his food and water intake. Had to strike the right balance between allowing them pool fun and not falling ill any further.

It wasn't the best foodie trip in that regard. I made sure the kids had proper dinners and lots of fluids while we were walking around Armenia Street and Chowrasta market. That was the only touristy thing we did. Apart from the crazy Waze supported trip to Sunshine Ayer Item to buy the Old tree white coffee. And then to our uncle Cheah's Nutmeg shop.

2 days of pool fun. It was funny coz there was a Malay boy on the 2nd day of pool fun. And the boy kept coming to me and asking me how to say such and such a word in Malay. Like as if the other boy didn't know English. Or as if suddenly Malay to him is more real a language. Was fine until I had to tell him what was shark in Malay....of course NOW I know it is Ikan Yu. But at that time I was like what-the-heck!

The girl was fun to watch coz she kept looking at her brother jumping into the pool and creating such a joyful splash. So she went up, squatted next to the pool and looked in, again and again contemplating if she could make the jump. She even went down one step and jumped in and decided it was doable at 2 steps, now let me try 3 steps, equivalent to the edge of the pool. In the end, she didn't manage to overcome her fear and waded over to me to ask for help. 5-8 jumps later, holding my hand, she attempted the jump on her own and succeeded. I love her look of utter satisfaction. In fact this time round, the girl learnt to put her head under water like her kor kor and even when she was submerged, she was not afraid. A great improvement for her from not even daring to put her head under water.

In Ipoh, of course I had to have my white coffee fix, tau fu fah fix and kacang putih fix. 3 hours later, we were back on the road to KL. A 1 foot iron rod speared hubby's bumper on the NKVE on the way back. We thank God that it didn't hit the radiator or the windscreen. But it was such a fright.

A good enough break. The kids are asking when is the next pool fun holiday? We are all nursing a flu, cough and the first for the girl - conjunctivitis. But all's well that ends well. And the weekend is approaching.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

From star to supporting role!

This pass few weeks has been literally 'hell' for me at work. For my colleagues in HQ New York, this 'hell' has been lasting months. But until this pass few weeks, I was always able to help them work out the positiveness of the situation.

I cannot believe that just about 1 month ago, I attended the Regional ICT workshop for UNDP in KL. And I felt so inspired, so eager to get it on and work on all the IT initiatives UNDP had in mind. We were being taught about the Cloud and how UNDP was going to go there. We were seeing Microsoft 360 and how we will utilize that to its full potential. We were talking strategic partnership. We saw ourselves up there pushing the organization into achieving greener offices, more efficient work processes, reaching out to far and beyond communities with just very simple hardware. We saw the role of IT and how with minimal cost the power IT can bring to the goals of UNDP. Wow....we were all geared up.

Then slightly more than a month later, we received the worse devastating news that UN as a whole does not understand such power of IT. They unfortunately still see IT as a supporting role to finance and projects and HR. From a pillar that supports the organization, IT has been reduced to a stone that forms an existing pillar.

Such redundancy really breaks my heart.

And what affects me more is that Shirin Hamid, my CTO's post has been demolished. In actual fact now, the IT deputy reports to an Administrative person.

I have great admiration for Shirin Hamid. She not only addresses her by name but remembers any issues or concerns that has been brought up to her attention by us. She takes time to talk to 'lowly' staff like us without making us feel we are lowly. She is small in size yet big in stature. The achievements she has accomplished as a person and thus bringing UNDP IT in the limelight as well is out of this world! I am sad that UNDP does not see that. And that UNDP will have lost a person such as she.

Looking at the new organigram, I shudder at the days to come. I see the positions that have been downgraded. I see the people that will need to move. I see the staff who went to US with a UN working visa and who are now out of job. I see the people who are laid off without any remuneration save for their unexpended leave. I see the number of people holding a certain grade and now they have to fight amongst themselves to retain their position.

My own supervisor, having been in US for close to 20 years with a UN working visa now finds she has to relocate to Malaysia. A Filipino citizen, a single mother with a daughter close to 18. She suddenly finds her life turning upside down.

My colleague with health issues has to find comfort in other doctors in a foreign country. Where in times of an emergency a phone call away to mum and dad will no longer be possible.

And they ask questions like "What am I still doing with UN?" and "For all I contributed to UN, this is how they treat me?" Sad but inevitable. Such is life, full of changes and uncertainties, especially working with the UN.

I think it's sad - from strategic partnership, we are reduced to such fate. Like a star come crashing down. Like brilliance we are slowly losing light.