Thursday, August 6, 2015

Focus on God and from the out flowing of love comes....

When you first start to read this post, the title I had given would seem way off....but hold on to your horses and read on.

So, it all started out with a colleague of mine telling me at my last-5-working-minutes that her son did something she was so proud of. That she made the best decision in the world by sending him to this religious kindergarten near her house.

Since we were both 5 minutes away from clocking off, she left it at that.

All the way home, I thought of what she said. Part of me wondered what filial or honorable thing her son did as a result of religious teaching from ages 4-6. And as usual I wondered too about my religious teachings to my son when he was that age. In my opinion, there seemed to be nothing much my son did that would make me exclaim the way she did!

We are from a Christian home. The kindergarten her son went to was a Buddhist school. I cannot say she is Buddhist since they do not really practise any Buddhist customs to the letter. And driving home, I began to analyse how a Christian home is different from a Buddhist home to affect a kid at that tender age.

Now, at ages 4-6, I have already begun teaching my son about God. Reading Bible stories was a norm. Teaching him Godly values and doing all that church has to offer - worship, prayer, Bible reading and even tithing.

From what I hear about the Buddhist kindy, her son has been taught to wash the feet of his parents, served them meals, performed acts of love and kindness in their school to their parents, involved themselves in recycling projects and even abstained from meat.

And then I saw it! As a Christian parent, my religious teaching to my son is always about God. What God did, Who God is and the whole story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. I reckon in all my teachings to him, I may have only mentioned honor thy mother and father 3 times!

But it would seem, from what I hear about the Buddhist kindy, is an emphasis on being filial, respecting your parents, and love for the environment. In fact the emphasis on respect, love and being filial is heavily drummed in their eyes and ears and minds.

While I focus upward, it would seem their focus is horizontal. Nothing wrong in that. In fact washing the feet of your parents is the most touching, heartfelt emotion a parent and child can have. And not all Christian homes develop the greatest kids either. Everything does depend on the execution.

However, I did realize this one thing, and that is the upward focus of Christian teaching. And if God helps us to do it well, then from the out flowing of love to God and from God, honoring thy mother and father is a lesson taught as it is.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Parenting by example but are we making a difference to the world?

There are 2 points that I know in my mind and parents can usually agree on.

1) We should parent by example AND
2) We don't need our kids to be brilliant and rich. Instead we would like to see them happy and capable to make a difference in their world.

But can we and do we link these 2 conditions together? We want them to be happy, are we? And more importantly we want them to make a difference in their world, but are we doing the same? The latter question being the crux of the matter.

Or are we caught up in the endless cycle of making a living for the sole purpose of elevating our lifestyle and creating a safety net for our kids?

There are 2 aspects to this from the people I see and know around me.

The first is easier so I shall mention that first. The parents themselves don't see the need to make any difference to the world. And even if they do, since every one has a conscience, they do so through means of once-in-a-while charity or recycling. What I have in mind when I talk about making a difference is in our everyday lives. Forever and always considering love for thy neighbor.

But the excuse behind this would be - I don't even have sufficient time to get my own house in order, what more love my neighbor. Truthfully, it does not take much effort to love thy neighbor. It just takes a determined action to divert some time and effort from self pleasure. In other words, our sole purpose should not be in purely elevating our lifestyle but to live a life of sufficiency.

The second aspect is the concept of a safety net. We work hard to earn sufficient savings, for a rainy day, so to speak. But savings are never sufficient. It's very much like losing weight, once you start and feel elated with the results, it becomes an endless cycle of requirement, counting, increasing the limitations.

So much so, love to thy neighbor becomes a calculated action. Sometimes even an action that subconsciously demands something in return. After all, we need to take care of ourselves. If we don't do that, who will?

But living in God's kingdom seems contradictory to the 2 aspects and excuses we think of. Living in God's kingdom is not all about leaving it up tot God. He never told us to live our lives that way. But He did command us to love our neighbor, sometimes even more than ourselves. Not that we should suffer in their stead. But in right sense to consider the needs of our neighbor and not only our own.

If I want to take it a little further, I should ask myself: How can I make a difference to my world? Will the difference I intend to make be a positive example for my kids?

But I do know that if we live a white mice wheel of stagnant running in that circle that goes no where, this will also be the live that they will turn out to lead. In my case, always working for safety, never working for the now.

Food for thought.....

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A weekend of investments

I did want to say that it was an expensive weekend initially. But then, everything should be viewed as half full. So, in that light, I will go with the term investments.

First one was done after some deliberation.

You see, I was always known as the anti-Apple one. In a crowd of 5, I would be the only one pro Android. Not so much that I knew so much about the technology but well, I always fought for the under dogs. And the picture they painted of an Android was too extreme, most of the time. I mean, Apple must have some faults apart from just battery issues right?

So, when my Samsung started crashing on me, making me almost late for my son's school 3 times in a row, I decided since I was going to change my phone, let me try an iphone once in my lifetime. Just to really know how 'good' an Apple product really is. Also, I was trying to shed off being stubborn about things - you know an Android-always-an-Android mentality.

So, 1 hour later, I was MYR 2,800 poorer and 2 years bounded by Digi on the MYR78 plan. Moving from Android to Apple is a pain but so far I am loving how fast the phone is working in my hands. On the positive note, there were 2 calendar apps which I managed to download where I could restore the data through the App from my Android to my iphone.

I am still calling my phone an Apple and not an iphone. And I have come to realize a phone is really just a phone to me. All I need from it is stability and storage. Seriously, I was not that excited when I was buying the phone.

Second investment was also done after much encouragement.

Hubby is learning swimming. He has signed up for the MYR2000 course with Swimin12 and will learn EJ's marvelous techniques up to freestyle level. I am glad after his first trial lesson hubby was super tired but super excited for his next lesson! Soon we will be swimming together as a family!

Third investment was on some skincare and hair care that I have been looking for.

Costing less - MYR148, I got myself Aloe Vera + Olive Oil cleanser (it was marketed for body but I am using it for my face), Water Gel Aloe Vera which leaves a layer of water which hydrates the skin after usage. I reckon a night cream off the shelf cost almost the same. So, an organic aloe lotion for my night regime seems reasonable. And a conditioner which I bought simply coz it smells great and well, my long hair could do with some intense moisture once in a while.

So, the weekend set me back MYR 5000 but the first 2 is really an investment after all.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Labor Day Roadtrip

One more off the list of nearby places I had wanted to explore - Pulau Ketam.

Road trips are so much nicer when you have like minded people to go with you.

At any rate, after a 2-car-or-1-car debate, we made our way to Crabby Island in 1 car. We had Mrs mum with us, so girl had to sit on my lap throughout. Which was fine considering it was 'just Klang'. But Mrs sitting in the middle had a hard time balancing herself too.

The air-con, with a TV boat to the island cost RM7 per way, per adult. Kids cost RM 4 (or was it 5) per way, per ticket. We bought a 2-way ticket and went to line up. While lining up, we saw many people moving ahead of us and we were wondering why. We deduced those without tickets probably got to go ahead since they had to buy the tickets on board, which could be more expensive. And thus they were allowed to go ahead first. If our deduction proved right, this would only happen in Malaysia. It was not in our best interest to find out if we were right. At any rate I was too busy trying not to be thrown overboard by a group of jostlers!

I loved the first feeling getting off the boat into the island. It's a moment of 'going back' to era-s of the past, you either love it or not. But not having to fully experience the lack of hygiene, lack of water or electricity or the hard work that came from my the island's older citizens, going back for me only carries no resemblance of simple, care-free, lazy days of reading and playing.

What is it about an old sundry shop or several planks joined together to form a walkway or houses selling produce in their front porch that attracts city dwellers like me? And to walk along a rickety road sometimes onto the porch of a house. Half my mind asks myself 'Don't the house owners mind?', the intrusion into their sanctuary. But unlike us city dwellers who lock our gates and close our doors, people on the island have their doors wide open, their porches free for us tourists to stand away from the mid-day sun.

So, Crabby Island....it stays true to its name. We saw many little crabs at low tide. And apart from sea produce being sold by almost every other household, eateries seem to be the main source of income. There was one rather nice hotel, and I reckon a little further from the maddening main street, a few more home stays. The community on this island are mainly Chinese, we saw 3 temples in itself along the long main street and further up the main housing street. And I reckon karaoke would be the main source of entertainment. Bet you fishing does not count as recreational activity for them! But we saw a couple of tourists carrying fishing rods for their recreational use. Main mode of transport is the bicycle. But on a holiday like today, feet gets you around faster.

We spent only about 2.5 hours on the island. Eating took up most of our time. We had lunch and then ice-cream.

We had every intention of making this a DAY trip, so back in Klang, we decided to visit GM Klang. I am always lost in GM Klang. Partly coz I have nothing to buy. And even if I did, it takes a while to know which shop to get to. And then I always had to kids to entertain. Walking around and seeing things which have no interest to them in a crowded, haphazard place sure ain't fun to them. That is unless they are in one of those toy shops choosing a toy you are bound to have to buy for them. It's like going to a candy store and denying them candy. I mentally prepare myself for a toy everytime I enter GM Klang. But anyway, this time round, Mrs was with me so she led the way until I lost myself in a garden shop. And the elder girls were with us too, meaning I didn't have to mind the kids all that much.

We finished with GM Klang at 4+ and still being too early for dinner, we decided to choose somewhere further to do for dinner so that the trip there will make up for some time. We are ridiculously crazy that way!!!

At any rate, we arrived at Bagan Hailam at a respectable time for dinner. Dinner was good, music was great. And by the time we were done, the sun hadn't even set yet. But we were almost done with Klang. So, we made our way home. Stopped by for desert (always!!) at Soft Serve. I have NO IDEA what the fuss is all about. It was not great and too expensive.

By the time we went home, it was close to 8 perhaps coz after settling everyone in, I took a sinus pill and was in bed by 9:30!

Road trips make me sleep so much better!!! Or perhaps it was the sea breeze and the dreams of days from the past....lazy days and hammocks.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lost World of Tambun SG Retreat

Our last SG retreat to Avani turned out to be so much of a success doing nothing that we decided to go to another place this year where we could just hang out. It was touch and go a few times but the Yoongs made it happen.

Some 3 weeks after CNY break, you don't really feel the need for a holiday yet. So the 14th of March drew by without much anticipation right until Friday the 13th itself when I brought out the bag to be packed.

From my experience with Avani, I really felt the need to bring out our camping gear this time round. So, I packed my air mattress, sleeping bag as well as a pump. All that in, it really did look like we were going overseas!

My mum came along with us, so we didn't go with the rest of the morning group. There were 7 families going and with the kids growing up many of us could not converge and go at the same times. So most of us met at a later time in the (now) famous Woong Kee Tau Fu Fah shop, and the others caught up with us at the hotel itself.

The hotel was basic but comfortable. We were all given rooms next to each other. So the Yoongs, Lings, Chins and ourselves lucky drew ourselves into our rooms. Glad to say the day bed turned out quite alright for my 8 year old son to sleep in. So, we didn't pump up the air mattress after all. The Lings and the Chins rested in. The Yoongs just couldn't keep still so teamed up with us to make some noise. By this time, the remaining group came trickling in so we could not venture far.

And then it was time for dinner!

We tried a new place - Restoran Huang Ting - this time, as suggested by my mum. Although the internet did not give us a right address and my mum was not great in giving me directions. We thus got lost, was late for our reservation and in fact I got a little anxious. Ipoh to me has always  been 'you-can't-really-get-lost'. I don't always know with certainty if I should turn right or left, especially when I venture in areas I never went to when I was younger. But what is a wrong turn but another right turn home!

But with a crowd of 4 cars following you, well....that's a different matter. And for once I found myself using Waze in Ipoh! And finding roads that I have never seen before!

We arrived at last at our dinner place. I never knew First Garden was so near to Buntong! Dinner was CHEAP! It cost us only RM51 per couple! Cheapest dinner EVER! Taste wise was marginally good. Although we did forget to try the purple cane drink which was so famous there. But after all that stress finding the place, I totally forgot!

After dinner, and a little drama about which car which kid wanted to sit it, we toured the Railway Station. WHAT A CROWD! So, we skipped it and went ahead to Kinta Riverfront. the kids burnt all their calories there running races! Perhaps SL and John also used up many calories there. The rest of us took pics and became maids to the 16 kids.

Back at the hotel, with 16 kids, it was a mad house! I had to knock on 5 doors to find my kid.

The following day was Day In at Tambun Lost World. There was a dim sum rendezvous but we didn't see the likes of anything coming back. The rest of us settled for hotel buffet.

Now, Tambun Lost World is worth going especially when you have school going kids. Any younger perhaps you will need their friend to be with them to enjoy the petting zoo and some of the water areas. But the school going ones will enjoy it the most, if they are of comparable height. The rides in the dry theme park are relatively NON scream stoppers! You know when you are screaming, it means you are still OK!

I spent most of the time talking with the other mums then actually playing with the kids. Because we were 14 adults spread out at different areas, most of the time we would keep an eye on the kids in our area and allow our own kids to be watched by the adult in the other area.

The reason why I was talking most of the time too was because we joined an 'amazing race' and I had burnt my fingers in a zip line activity. So water and burns don't really go well together!

At 6 pm, we were all tanned, tired and in need of a good shower. I mean the adults, not the kids. The kids would have continued playing if we had let them. And with all that activity it is a good thing that food is sold in Lost World and it tastes good and it was not that expensive! Like the Chocolate pancake we had at 5:30 was somewhat AWESOME!!!

We had intended to go to Aneka Selera or dinner. But at 6:30, we were all too tired and we opted for a cool, comfortable sit down dinner instead. We went to East Ocean and paid RM100 per couple for a sumptuous dinner. At least who needed to sleep could sleep while the parents ate!

I could not believe it, but there were some eager for the Hot Springs at night. Perhaps if not for my fingers, I would have went. But as it is, some of us decided to get drunk instead. We retired close to midnight that day. For me, it was a night of minimal sleep with a bandaged hand! Thanks be to SL for the bandage.

Day 3 was a real bummer for the kids coz they knew we were all heading home. Good thing no one cried this time round. The lack of a swimming pool in the hotel helped. So there was no over bonding in the morning time. We had buffet breakfast at the hotel which we were supposed to be charged for since some of our kids are tall, but didn't happen! We 'toured' the souvenir shop and bought a few things. Coming home now and trying the 3in1 they provided in the hotel room, I would have bought some if I had known. I will the next time I am in Ipoh though! At 30 gm, it was not too rich nor too light for a white coffee!

We left around 11 for DNS/CTS kacang putih in Buntong, Ching Han Guan, Salted Chicken and Tau Fu Fah. A few of us left for home after that while some of us had lunch. THe group further thinned out after lunch and some went on to buy Swiss rolls.

On the way home, I asked hubby and Christopher which one they preferred - Avani or Tambun. Hubby and I prefer Avani. I reckon Avani had more togetherness and was more relaxing. Christopher loves whatever he can get his hands on!!!

It is for that purpose after all we do this. Not for the adults but that the kids will have memories of each other to draw them closer. That even when the adults are not around, they will have someone close enough to them to turn to. Such is the purpose that we do all this.