Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hot day of parties

A few Sundays ago, like any of our standard epic weekends, it was epic-ly hot.

We had breakfast at a nearby hawker centre because we thought there were some new stalls from Longhouse. Unfortunately, it was too early and the stalls were not opened. This began a hot and stuffy morning.

Z and X had a field day running around in the empty hawker centre.

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I took Z to swimming class for a change. Boy, was I melting under the sun while he was enjoying his class which was followed by a game of ‘water-polo’ with his swimming classmate.

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We rushed to a baby’s full month party before rushing to one end of Singapore for Z’s classmate’s birthday party. It was a poolside party with some awesome props.

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The parents were all busy fanning or wiping the sweat dry. Hot as it was, the hosts provided pretty nice red wine so I had glasses and glasses of it. There were carnival booths for the party guests. It was a pretty elaborate birthday party, completed with a bouncy castle and an hour’s long puppet show. It actually kept X occupied!

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Then again, it could be sugar rush from the ice cream, popcorn or cotton candy.

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The boys played so much that they missed their afternoon naps and still had energy for table soccer.

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And light sticks wielding into the night..

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X’s first trip to the Zoo

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Given that we had such an extensively planned day, we actually reached the zoo at 845am. The earliest time ever… And it was a free visit, courtesy of the corporate pass from the company.

I had also applied for the corporate pass to visit the River Safari and Bird Park in June too. Double cheers for that!

We started the visit with the treetop trail. We also stopped for a morning tea break. Z was at a better position to understand and ask questions. X was simply excited. He pointed at some birds in the sky and said,”burp!”

We were impressed until we realized he called every animal “burp”.

After a previous visit to the water playground, X got very excited when he saw the setup at Kidzworld.

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He was thrilled yet scared at the same time. He was lucky to have Z to hold his hand and guide him. That helped to build his courage to explore other parts of the water playground.

We cleaned both boys up at a quarter to 11 so that they could catch the animal show. It was disappointing though. Perhaps the show was too overpacked with audience and there was too much movement of people trying to find seats, after the show had started, which affected the performance. I also guessed it could be because there were too many people so the children were not allowed to pet the animals at the end of the show too. The last time Z came when I was still pregnant with X, he had a fine time watching the show and learning about the pet animals too.

We finished up the other side of the zoo trail and was impressed with the polar bear’s cove. Well, it was great that they were doing some upgrades to the zoo.

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Some creepy crawlies

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I recalled having a nightmare looking for tables and queuing for food at the zoo, so I planned for lunch at Tott Bistro which was 10 minutes’ drive away. I rather liked this arrangement.

Tucking into our favorite earl grey lavender beancurd

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We wrapped up the day with a facial for myself, naps for the boys and a dinner date with family. We even squeezed in a short grocery trip.

Marketing, advertising & reviews

Having been in this line for pretty long, at times, I liked to break down the hidden message in a marketing promotion, an advertisement or a review.  I looked at things in a particular manner and dissected every single word mentally.

Similarly, when salespeople talked to me, I always tried to read their true and real intention.  That did not mean I was not susceptible to their claims.  What I merely wanted to do was to decipher and sieve out the genuine claims from the inflated claims.

I truly enjoyed marketing because it was an art and it was fun.  I enjoyed being drawn in and to be made to feel like buying something.  Some of the magazines were really fantastic, so it got to a point where I thought it would be healthier for my wallet not to flip the pages.  Harper’s Bazaar had the most awesome product shoots and layouts ever.  Very long ago, there was ‘Smitten’ which got me pretty smitten that I would be sure to seek out apparels and accessories featured in the magazine.  Unfortunately, the publisher folded shortly after one year.

I generally trust Japanese & European brands slightly more than the others because they were truer in a sense.  Having worked in Japanese firms, I knew how strong an integrity they held.  They might not be able to craft the sexiest marketing message because of so many reasons out there, they were really made of steadfast quality.

There were too many truths and untruths to filter through.  No wonder brand loyalty would develop.

Leaders in school

Z and his friends had been rostering the role of leader in school.  We did not know about this arrangement until Z brought it up.

However, this little boy had been feeling out of sorts.  He told us that he had only been made leader once while some of his friends had gotten to lead the class (like the role of a monitor) more than once.  He was not alone in his predicament and had even discussed with the affected classmate.

This revelation alone made me realise how old he was growing up to be.  He was not even 4.5 years’ old yet!

I suggested to him to talk to his teachers because he seemed so forlorn about it.  It disturbed him so much that I had to step in to talk to his teachers, only to find out that he might have missed out on his turn when he did not attend school on some days.  The teachers had not realised that the little ones had taken so much heart and attention to it.

Well, neither did we, so we all learnt.

Reading independently

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-495909/Pushy-parents-pressurise-5s-read-risk-causing-long-term-damage.html

Interesting piece of research though I wondered about the sample size, the family background and the way they tested on the performance.

I did not force Z to read, nor would I engage him in anything that he did not want to do. I had tried my luck and realized he was not a ready academia material. Who was I kidding? Academia did not actively run in our family but business instincts – yes. Z loved to hear me talk about the concept of selling, buying, rental, retail, distribution chain, how goods were made and more. Sometimes, he would ask about about advertisements and why different types of businesses existed. I guessed it was exposure from our talk that prompted his interest in business.

I felt that if he wanted to do anything, it should be requested by him and he should make an effort to make it materialize. I did not and would not hand it to him on a silver platter. I knew that by giving him everything freely, it would undermine the concept of its intrinsic value.

Recently, he surprised us by reading off his Chinese worksheets. We had not expected that and he was so gleeful and proud of it. He was grinning so happily. I was careful not to overpraise him. We commended him on a great job and I went on to tell him, “We love surprises! Surprise us again next time!” In doing so, I had set my expectation that he had done well and more could be done to improve on his current level. Z was gamed to take it on.

I also realized how steep the learning curve had been since Z started K1. His school had really ensured a lot of play when he was 3 and 4. Now that he was in the year of 5 years old, they had stepped up substantially. He was blessed with dedicated teachers who would start special reading classes earlier for the children on a rostering basis. It showed me a lot of dedication for their work. I had to say I was really impressed by the teachers’ passion and initiatives in teaching and moulding these little kids. It made me almost teary knowing how much they cared for Z and his friends.

What drives you?

It would be easier to say I don’t know.
However, I suspected I always knew.

1. Envisioning the goal state

2. Habitual and/or OCD

3. Passion for life

Sometimes, I felt like I was an unlimited fuel engine. I might complain at times but I would always get things done. Always.

Of the above which summarized my driving factors, OCD seemed to be the biggest culprit of all. I could have not cared, I could have taken the shorter route and I could have delivered a poorer job, my OCD nature forced me to push myself beyond what I thought I could do.

Whenever anything bothered me sufficiently to get me down, the mind had an amazing power to sweep away all the unhappiness because the mind was stronger than might. I expected myself to stay happy and contented, my OCD mind would enforce so.

Then I thought deeper.

It was family that gave me the greatest happiness of all. Seeing the young and baby smiles, they gave me such joy and happiness. They rejuvenated my days, made me laugh and even though they could be frustrating at times, cuddling them always made the world seemed right again.

The way X ate his berries, the way Z read off the Chinese worksheet and the way Mr H pampered me in his acts of love, they made my world bright and beautiful.

Family was my biggest driving factor because of the happiness they brought with them.

What about you?

Once in a lifetime experience at Forest Adventure

It would be once because that would be my first and last time.  As the name went, it was truly a forest adventure.  It was physically intensive for the entire hour plus when we were up traversing in the trees. You would really had to head down to Bedok Reservoir to take a look or tried it to know what I was talking about.

As part of our team building activity, my colleague had arranged this memorable adventure.  I checked out the website with trepidation.  While I was not a big fan of unsecured heights, I was less of a fan of water bodies.  There would be 4 flying fox trails over the Bedok Reservoir.  I was not thrilled to find out.  Worse, there was a heavy downpour in the morning.  The thought of landing on mud was not appealing too.  Thankfully, when we started the ‘adventure’ at nearly 3pm, the skies were bright and everything looked pretty dry.

I absolutely had no photos or videos of this adventure.  We were taught how to use the safety equipment so that we would not land on the ground when we fell.  We were at a height of 5m~9m above the ground.  Each site would end off with a flying fox trail.  The first time when I had to jump off a height of 5m, it was nervous but manageable.  The first time when I had to take the flying fox (with lines across the water body), it was more nervous.

I found the general adventure physically acceptable in the beginning.  However, the ‘adventure’ got more and more challenging, I would find myself dangling loosely at a height.  It was not a comfortable feeling.  Worse, at Site 2, we ended up taking the more challenging route and it was freaking difficult.  At one point, I was cursing and swearing with every breath I took – I should have opted for the simpler route but I had no idea that I missed it!

Another reason why I found it more challenging was because I was short!!!  You had to be at least 1.4m to participate on this ‘adventure’ and short people definitely would have it harder with shorter limbs and all!

At the most difficult part of the ‘adventure’, I felt I was stuck in a position when I had to advance.  Backtracking was just as bad.  Dangling at a height was a killer.  Over time, the nerve system became immune to the height.  Gradually, I was more preoccupied with the roughness of the rope against my palms and how physically tiring it was!

A lot of upper body strength was required, like A LOT.  Thankfully or not thankfully, being a mother of two kids and having had days where you had to carry a 10kg sack for hours, it helped.

However, when the body was weary, the obstacles became tougher (i.e. balance, swinging required) inversely to the level of strength left.  I was struggling at a rope net wall towards the end because my arms were so tired.  There was another circular loop bit which I struggled with, mainly became my arms were too tired to instil more control.

When the going got tough, the mind had to take over and to think about anything else apart from the physical challenges.  The MBA-corrupted mind started to conjure management theories.

1. Techniques matter – if you knew how to tackle the obstacle correctly, it would help you to gain confidence.  The subsequent steps would be easier to follow through.  When I felt lost (and stuck amidst the trees), I did think how important it was to have studied the course on the tree platform before attempting.  Once on the obstacle, I was too preoccupied with balancing and only had tunnel vision.  It reminded me not to jump on board too fast without understanding the background.

2. Be precise – sometimes, you only had one shot at it before you lost footing and control.

3. Overcoming the worst nightmare first – we faced with the toughest obstacle at Site 2 (out of 4 sites).  It was a steep learning curve and a ‘culture shock’.  After cursing and swearing at Site 2, I was appreciative of the experience gained at Site 2.  Though the obstacles at Site 3 & 4 were no less difficult, it was chicken feat compared to the nightmarish obstacle at Site 2.  Similarly, at work or just about anything in life, the toughest challenge would only train you well for the future.

4. Always believe that you could reach the end – Persevere.  Determination.  Other than believing in yourself and disregarding all your weaknesses (hunger, fatigue & more), that was the only way you could arrive at the final destination.

5. Don’t follow blindly, always ask and clarify – Had I paid more attention instead of following blindly, I might not have gone on the optional but super challenging obstacle course at Site 2.  Had I asked or be more observant, I would not have gotten myself stuck in hot soup.

As you could see, I really thought very deeply whilst up in the trees.  I really had to distract myself to overcome the mundane fatigue.