Monday, January 24, 2011

Estelle is 5 years old (Part 1)

Estelle turns 5 today on 25 Jan 2011. She was born in 2006.

It is a special day not only because it's her birthday. It was a tough day for me as I had to go through a painful ordeal and eventually gave birth to her through emergency caesarean. But all the trauma and suffering ended the minute I heard her first cries in the operating theatre. I just burst into tears because her arrival meant so much to us and it was the start of another beautiful chaper in our lives.

Why did I say she meant a lot to us? Estelle was not from my first pregnancy. Before that, I had gone through 2 consecutive miscarriages in 2004. Being a strong and optimistic person, I was able to pull myself up from there, but deep down I had never completely recovered from the loss. I could not bear to ask my friends who were pregnant how they were doing; I could not look at baby clothes and shoes, and I could not bring myself to carry babies in my arms ------- until Estelle came. When she became a reality, I was completely cured of my pain and I became strong and positive instantly. She is the source of my strength because she is my firstborn, and such a perfect one.

I am thankful that she is mine. She is beautiful on the outside and inside. She is intelligent. She is kind. She is talented. She is adored by all including her teachers and everyone else. She is a real darling.

I have specially taken a day off from work to spend the day with her. I have just finished preparing her birthday goody bags for her classmates. It's 4am! I ought to catch some sleep. I shall continue with Part 2 tomorrow.

Happy birthday to my sweet princess. I love you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Managing My Maid

Today my maid "complained" to me that my father scolded her very harshly last Friday. Apparently, she forgot to make milk for Estroy (yet again) and my dad flared at her. She complained that "Ah Gong scold me very loud, he point at me and THREATEN to tell you." And she "feel very hurting inside. I go to the toilet to cry." She is not happy that my dad scolded her like that.


I asked her a few questions to establish the facts. I know how to manage people like her. Then our conversation went like this.

Me: Why didn't you make the milk at the correct time?
maid: Sometimes I do other things, then I never see the clock.
Me: Is this the first time?
maid: No
Me: It has happened many times right?
maid: Yes
Me: So am I right to say you have been told many times, and you have been making the same mistake over a few months.
maid: **silence**
Me: I am also working. If I make the same mistake so many times at work, I would have been fired.
maid: Ya, I know I make the milk late, but can Ah Gong threaten me and scold me like that?
Me: Let's get a few things straight. Firstly, I am your BOSS. I have every right to know what happened at home, and Ah Gong has every right to tell me. In fact, it is my instuction that he reports everything to me. That is not a threat. He is telling you that he is going to tell me. That is not a threat, so you stop using this word 'threaten'. Secondly, that is his scolding style. You are the one who made the mistake, you cannot expect to be scolded nicely.
maid: But would you scold me like that? Would you scold me in public?
Me: I will not scold like that, because that is not my style. And I never scold you in public. Ah Gong also did not scold you in public. But Ah Gong's scolding style is like that.
maid: **not convinced** But he can tell me nicely.

Me: Let me give u a scenario. Suppose I am a teacher and I have 2 bosses, one is a VP and one is P. When I make a mistake, my VP scolded me gently. My P scolded me very harshly. Yes, I'm upset. But I did make the mistake didn't I? I deserve to be scolded. Can I tell the VP, hey look, can you tell the P to scold me gently like what you did? I am so hurt you know.
maid: **beginning to see my point**
Me: So, Mary, when you make a mistake and you get scolded harshly, its just too bad that the scolding is harsh because you did make a mistake and you repeated the mistake over a few months and therefore YOU DESERVE TO BE SCOLDED. You have no right to ask people to scold you gently.
maid: **nods and understood my point** but I very upset.
Me: It is normal to be upset. Nobody gets scolding and feel happy. You need to recognise your own mistake and learn from it. And you need to learn to manage your own emotions. You cannot be sensitive about everything and expect other people to always accommodate you. This is a real world, Mary. Learn!

After the lecture, I continued with Part 2: Coaching.

Me: I want to share something with you. You have a huge problem about being defensive. You have too much pride and you always refuse to see your own mistake.
maid: **blur**
Me: OK. Example. Suppose I make a mistake in marking a student's exam paper. He is supposed to get 80 marks and I only gave him 60. So the parent comes to me and ask me for the marks.

Scenario 1:
I am defensive. I blame the child for untidy handwriting so I cannot see his working clearly. Somemore that day I was very busy and I had a headache. So that's why I mark wrongly. What is going to happen? The parent is going to be so upset and he will likely complain to the P or even to the Ministry. What is the outcome of me being defensive? The more I want to find excuses the worse it's going to become.

Scenario 2:
I apologise nicely to the parent, admit that I marked wrongly, then assure the parent that I will go through his paper more thoroughly and adjust the marks accordingly. What is going to happen? Likely that the parent will be happy to get back the 20 marks and leave it as that.

Me: Let's go back to your story. You forgot to make milk. That is the mistake. All those crap about doing other things and didn't see the clock are EXCUSES TO COVER UP YOUR MISTAKE. If you would just admit your mistake, recognise that you have made a mistake, and reconcile with yourself that you have indeed done something wrong, then you will learn. If you always find excuses for yourself, you will forever be trapped and you cannot swallow anything.

I'm not trying to defend my father but I am putting things into perspective for you.

maid: Yes, I understand now.


How in the world did she think that she can outtalk me?

How in the world did she think that she can do something like that and get away with it?

She has no slightest idea whom she is talking to.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My Favourite Things

Lyrics written by Desiree, sung to the tune of Julie Andrew's "My favourite Things"
A sudden inspiration to summarise my life this year as I move into the last month of my 12-month leave and into my birthday month. (1 Dec 2010)

Early in the morning when the warm sun rays shine in
Kids crawl into my bed and cuddle beside me
They kiss me one by one and say "morning!"
These are a few of my favourite things

Drive to McDonalds for breakfast and bonding
Hotcakes and mcmuffin and a cup of hot coffee
All the chatter and laughter and the smiles
These are a few of my favourite things

Dip in the pool downstairs with such convenience
Bagful of toys and shooters sprawled all over
Kids swim around in their rings and arm floats
These are a few of my favourite things

When the kids fight
When the kids cry
When I'm feeling vexed
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Steal time in the afternoon to meet my Dear
Go to Ikea to eat their chicken wings
Best part is coffee and parking are free
These are a few of my favourite things

Fill our tummies and browse the display in-store
Dream and fantasize about our next dream home
Sofa cabinet designer kitchen
These are a few of my favourite things

Shopping and movies are once-in-a-blue-moon treats
Facial and pedicure make me feel oh-so-pretty
Coffee and gossiping enhance friendship
These are a few of my favourite things

When the maid slacks
When she talks back
When I'm feeling mad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Kids sleeping soundly and hugging their bolsters
With looks of innocence they dream their night away
I slouch on the sofa and watch drama
These are a few of my favourite things

Internet surfing and Facebook MSN
Online shopping and email and some blogging
Reading papers and Simply Her magazine
These are a few of my favourite things

When the bills come
When I kenna summon
When I'm feeling scared
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What It Means To Be A Teacher

A group of my ex pupils visit me almost every year during TD (Teachers' Day) since they graduated from primary school in 2002. I taught some of them when they were in P5 in 2001. Although I followed them up to P6 in 2002, some of them moved to a different class in P6, so technically, I had only taught some of them for a year in P5. Looking back, it has been a good 9 years since I taught them. Each year, I get TD gift that gets more and more creative. When they were younger in secondary school, they gave me a jigsaw puzzle made out of our class photo. 2 years back, they came to my place and cooked pasta for me. This year, they got together and produced a video clip in a dvd. In it, they acted out their days in P5 and showed me how they all had cheated in Spelling back in those days. I am a person with good video filming and editing skills, and by my standard, I must say that the video was very well scripted, acted, filmed and edited. These kids were 11 in 2001. Now, they are 20 years old. They have grown up indeed.

I was indeed very happy. But my joy came from something deeper than receiving the gift. It came from something more than being remembered by them. Every TD, I reflect and ask myself why I want to be a teacher. To me, what it means to be a teacher is having the privilege to be able to participate in a child's formative years (never mind that it may be just one year). Being a teacher means that I have the opportunity to rectify a misbehaviour, correct a wrong value, put right a warped perspective, adjust a bad attitude. Being a teacher gives me the opportunity to encourage a timid child, nurse a disappointment, advise a lost soul, mend a broken heart, open a blocked mind, widen a narrow thinking, straighten confused thoughts, clear misunderstandings, motivate the unmotivated, inspire the uninspired, interest the uninterested, fill an ignorant mind, and care for the ones who are deprived of love and care. In other words, being a teacher means that I get to make a difference in somebody's life. Teaching is an investment of love, care, knowledge and skills. More often than not, the returns are not immediate, because children take time to internalize your teaching.

I look at this bunch of then-11-now-20 year olds. Some are studying in poly, some are serving NS, some are working. It doesn't matter if they had taken a longer route to get to where they are. The important thing is, they have arrived at where they want to be. The love, care, kniowledge and skills that I have invested in them have yielded returns. They are now fine individuals who are raring to carve out their own future. That is my satisfaction of being a teacher. My joy lies in knowing that I have made a difference in their lives, never mind if it is just a small difference. There are many of my students out there who are successful in their own right. My satisfaction is in knowing that I have once participated in their lives and made a little difference. if they remember me, it is a bonus. If they don't, it doesn't matter too. What matters is that they are doing well. That is the aim of education, and what everu teacher wants.

There are many things in the teaching service that I am disappointed in. What remains a constant and a source of motivation is my personal belief that teaching is about touching lives. Although I will be taking a 2-year break from teaching when I join MOE next year, I will always pride myself for being a teacher. I hope that my investment of love, care, knowledge and skills in my own 3 children will also yield returns in future.

Teaching is a painful journey, but rewarding when the children turn out well.

Happy Teachers' Day to myself, my husband and all my teacher friends.

2010 - The 20-year-old boys.

2010 - The 20-year-old girls.

2008 - The 18-year-old boys and girls.

2007 - The 17-year-old boys and girls.

2001 - The 11-year-old class of 5A5 at Xinghua Primary School.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Estroy is 1 Year Old !

It is the wee hours of 2 July 2010. Estroy is officially 1 year old today. I've not been blogging eversince I stepped into the world of facebook, but I'm going to dedicate 1 special blog entry to my baby boy (no more a baby!) to mark his 1st birthday.

I still remember one night, when hubby and I had to wake up for a night feed for Eston, we said, "Ok, this is it, we will stop at 2."

We moved to our new place, watched Estelle and Eston grow up cuter and cuter by the day, and one particular night, I looked at their faces, and at that spur of the moment, I wanted 1 more child. That moment changed my life.

Why do I say that Estroy has changed my life? I guess if he hadn't come along, I probably would not have taken a year of no-pay-leave, would not have opened a blogshop, would not have made more friends, would not have tried new things, would not have had the time to dabble with my hobbies like painting, reading, swimming, beading, crafting (and so on. My hobbies are endless), would not have the chance to send Estelle and Eston to school, would not be able to do so many things with my kids, would not be able to correct their misbehaviour in time, etc. The list is endless.

Estroy has turned 1. All my 3 kids were born through caesarean delivery, but I have forgotten the pain and trauma. All I can remember is the tremendous joy they have brought us, and how much they have strengthened our marriage. I am grateful. I count my blessings every day. My parents come over to my place every weekday to help me with the kids and meals. I must have done a lot of good in my previous life to deserve such great parents, without whom I simply cannot achieve so much. The only way I can repay them is to be filial and be a just-as-good parent to my own kids.

So, I just want to say, I love you Estroy, just like how much I love Estelle and Eston. And the person I love the most is my hubby. I have perfect parents, a perfect husband, 3 perfect kids, and a perfect career. I can't ask for anything more. I have everything!

Happy birthday, my darling!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Estroy is 1 Month Old

At 1 month old, his vital statistics are as follows:
Height : 54cm
Weight : 5 kg
Head Circumference : 38cm (at time of birth it was 36cm)
A quick comparison shows that he has grown quite a fair bit. :-)
He drinks 150ml at this point in time. A big eater compared to his Kor Kor and Cheh Cheh who only drank 120ml at 1 month old.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Quick Photo Update

Estroy looking happy.

The forceps marks on his foreheadand left eyelid are taking very long to clear.

Eston loves his little brother.

He is forever kissing him!

My 2 boys.

Can see that he enjoys being around him and entertaining him.

Eston striking a funny pose.

I love this photo. Eston tells his sister to keep quiet coz didi is sleeping.