Saturday, April 30, 2011

General Updates - 30 April 2011

Yeah. What a boring title for this post. But what to do?
Cannot think... plus this post will have a myriad of topics...

PJ Visit
Took boys back to PJ during the 2-week Easter Break. Arrived in KUL on MAS on Saturday afternoon (9th April). Normally, don't really take MAS but as we booked quite last minute, the price on MAS worked out better compared to both AirAsia and KLM.

As you know, I left the boys with my parents and flew-off to the States with H on Monday (11th April), only arriving back in KUL on Friday (22 April). Basically, did some last minute shopping, visited the dentist, checked my eyes at Vista and then flew off the next day with the boys. So no time to do anything else. Didn't meet up with anyone..... Perhaps next trip.

US Trip
This trip was basically a vacation for H. He was so busy working prior to the trip. Weeks in Europe and then conference calls till 9 - 10 pm. Many times, I had to bring his dinner into his 'conference room' (which is actually our downstairs TV room). And now, he has gone to Europe again. My mom always says that my husband takes the plane as if it is a bus.... He arrived home on Friday (US to Asia), and then left on Sunday for his work trip (Asia to Europe) - basically circumventing the globe.

I have to say that we did nothing except eat, sleep, shop. No rushing to places. No visiting of touristy sights etc. Only touristy thing we did was watch The Jersey Boys.
The whole trip, my DSLR did not see the light of day. No photos to scrapbook with
So what's the use of me buying more scrapbooking stuff??
H thinks it is so that I can compete with my girlfriend KL, on who has more stuff!!!
hahahha... eh. But she wins hands-down lah.
Go check out her stuff.....

Start of Term 3
Term 3 of school started on the 25th April, 2011. So basically, boys only had Sunday to chill out before going back to school.

This term, both S1 and I are going to work hard for the Year 9 Assessments. He needs to show that he can do well to get into the top set. I have droned on-and-on about the stupidity of his school in my older post. They have decided that they will not extend the Additional Mathematics class to the 2nd Set (which is where S2 is currently at). As my friend kept saying " The School is 'DUMBING DOWN'".
I can accept all the nonsense if this is a FREE Public School... but it is NOT.
So you can imagine how frustrating it is.

Starting a Business
Yes. I am going to do it. This time for REAL.
Have been talking about doing something for years, and it was all NATO.
No Action Talk Only ....
Lawyers have been engaged (and paid) to draw up papers.....
Will let you know more details later when things are firm-up.

Tutoring
Okay. This one still NATO.
Only action that I actually did was to purchase the relevant books, and studying... Maths, Physics and Chemistry. I have the leaflet (to advertise my tutoring services) prepared but yet to be printed out. Still need to amend some text.
I probably only want to have one or two students per week. Need some time for all my other pursuits (be it fun, work or mommy obligations).

Online Course
I have recently signed up on a TESOL online course, i.e. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Errr... not that I really want to teach, I just want to get the Certificate. Why? Not sure why yet. Hahahhaha
Just did my first Unit yesterday, and have yet to receive feedback from my tutor.
There will be some kind of test (not sure how it is going to be done. Perhaps I have to go to a Center in town) at the end of the Course, in order to be certified.
By the way, did I mention that I actually went to take the IELTS test?
My score?
9.0 of course... Ahbahden??? hahahah

Okay lah... S2 is up. Need to ketuk him to complete some Math worksheets.
(What to do? All these ang-moh schools don't do enough.....don't give homework... don't challenge kids. Need to send them a copy of Amy Chua's book!!! )\

Malibu Beach House....

When we took the boys to Malibu beach last December, somehow the topic of owning a beach house in Malibu came up. And my boys actually said that they would buy us one in Malibu! So sweet of them!
I don't know about Malibu beach houses, but I did check up on the house prices on Manhattan Beach, which is located just south of LAX. Still pricey but I am sure we can afford a tiny-weeny holiday apartment to squeeze both H and I in when we retire..... And you know what I always wanted?
Shutters.
Yup. I just love shutters on the windows. So if we do buy a little place by the beach, I will install custom plantation shutters on my windows. And for a beachside home, it will have to be WHITE!
We have dreams of owning a chalet up on the Swiss Alps too... and of course, shutters on my windows too... As for the colours, .... perhaps BLUE....or GREEN.... with a pretty flower boxes ...
Dreaming......Dreaming......

Father's Day Pressies...

Did I mention that my H is away in Europe again?
For work, of course.
He's been pretty busy with his work.... even when he is home, he would be on conference calls till 9 pm. At times, he had to skip dinner as the calls were made with colleagues stationed on the other side of the globe. With all that he does to provide for this family, I wonder what we can get him to show our appreciation this Father's Day. Know any father presents that would appeal to my H? Something that will make his day unforgettable?

Did you watch THE ROYAL WEDDING?

I almost missed it!

Well, I never ever turn on the cable tv as I seldom watch TV on my own accord. So when I turned on the TV at 2 pm (local time. Wedding at Westminster at 5 pm local time, but there was already live coverage), the stupid scream display read "SmartCard is Expired"!
Wah! Boy! Was I mad! I immediately called the Cable company and complained!!!

Luckily they managed to fixed it. Otherwise?????

Did anyone go "Awwww...." when they saw Diana's little boy all grown-up? ...with a wee bit of tears?
I have to say that I did.
She would have been sooooooooooooo proud and happy.
Errr... except she probably would wonder "Why does he have to have his father's hair??Why? Why? " or rather the lack of it!


Anyway, here is The KISS......


I too, want a KISS! But as H is thousands of miles away working in Helsinki, I had to resort to a kiss from someone else.
Who did I call upon?
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My S2. Of course!
He gave me a big smacker! Hahahhaah

And with all wedding commemorative items, you will get some tasteful ones and some ghastly ones. Check out this Wills and Kate PEZ Dispenser!!



ADOI is the word, indeed!




And you know what was the other thing that caught my eye? Besides the ugly hats and dresses worn by The Duke of York's two daughters? Really fashion faux-pas!!!




So who caught my eye???


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David Beckham!


I was never a fan, and he never really appealed to me.

BUT. I thought he looked pretty dashing at the Royal Wedding...



He certainly looks good here...
It's something to do with age? Like Richard Gere? I think he looks damn good too!



Okay. Gonna go droooooool now. Hahahhaha

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leaving the City of Angels...

It has come to the end of our trip. Time does fly real quick. And in about an hour and a half, we will depart from LAX.
Didn't do much here either... Other than SHOP SHOP SHOP!!
I tell you ah...America is one big big big shopping mall. Laundryamah will go crazy when she cones later this year for her Laundry convention!!!
We went to the Caramillo Premium Outlets on Monday (The same company is opening up in Johor in November 2011!) and Banana Republic had shirts going for 13 dollars! Some dresses for 20 dollars!! Timberland shoes from 30 dollars!! And when we were at Beverly Center yesterday (Tuesday), I saw a pair of Banana Republic trousers at the retail shop at 8.97! And it's another 40% off! 5 dollars for Banana Republic trousers??? Where can find such deals in Asia???
And scrapbooking stuff... Said I wasn't gonna buy anything but of course I did. But not that much la..just 3 DCWV stacks, some Stickles, and punches. So basically, this was a shopping trip ...YIKES! As if I dont have enough things to pack when I move house!!
Errrr GILA us also bought hand soap from Bath and Body Works, plus shower gels and lotions. Not forgetting the vitamins for the boys...
And a Kate Spade handbag for MIL's birthday....and one for moi.....
Really cannot shop anymore... I supposed we did the right thing when we turned down the job in Dallas, otherwise ALL we do will be Shopping! haha....
Okay lah... Later

Monday, April 18, 2011

Utter Laziness in the Big Apple...

.... We have been here for four nights and all we have done is eat and sleep. Actually more of sleeping than anything else. I supposed that's what a holiday is all about. Utter relaxation and laziness!
Since I have already done most of the must-do touristy stuff the last two trips, I didn't feel the need to pester H to go on any sightseeing tours. Initially, our plan was to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday (Saturday, 16th April) as H wanted to show me the REAL Assyrian Lion. As I am not exactly a keen museum visitor, I told H that I would probably say MY Assyrian Lion looks better (go to artbynomadicmom.blogspot.com to have a look of MY Assyrian Lion) so ended up not going and stayed back in the hotel to zzzz. Basically, we shopped and ate in the morning/ early afternoons and then head back to the hotel by late afternoon.

Where did we stay?
The Hudson at Central Park South. Only one block from Columbus Circle Subway Station..very good location, I must say!! Well, I didn't pick this hotel, of course. As usual, it's good ole Priceline's Name Your Own Price that selected the hotel. Got it for USD 155 plus tax per night. The cheapest rate I could find online for our dates (if the hotel name is known) was USD 220 plus tax. So we sorta saved USD 65 per night. How was the hotel? Errr...rooms as usual was tiny but at least bigger than The Paramount, which we stayed-in for New Year's 2010. But the bed was very very noisy. So cannot be too notti. Hahaha... Hotel had lots of bad reviews but overall I thought it is kinda okay. Philip Stark designed rooms, and the dark lobby was kinda cool.

What did we eat?
Think the best meal was at Eataly on 23rd and 5th Avenue (I think). We had Parma Ham (yum yum), some other cold cuts and a myriad of Italian cheeses, Baked Sea Scallops and French Fries of the Sea paired with crisp Italian white wine. We also went to Gramercy Tavern, Bourbon Street Bar & Restaurant, Red Lobster. Worst I think was this morning's Dim Sum meal in Chinatown. Not only Dim Sum was sub-standard, we had to 'tapp-toi'. Have not done that in ages!

What did we buy?
Nothing much as we didn't go to Woodbury Common this time. So just some GAP shorts, Naruto T-shirts and a G-shock watch for S2, 2 tops each from Loft and Uni Qlo for me, Cole Haan sneakers for me, 2 pairs of Fitflops for me, some Calvin Kleins for H, iPad pen and some scrapbooking stuff (they were 50% off in this Paper Shop on Spring Street). Looks like I didn't get anything for S1...but he was very specific on what he wanted...some cards that will be launched tomorrow and I am to go to ToysRus to get it.

What did we watch?
A visit to The Big Apple will not be complete without watching a show on Broadway!!
This time, we Saw The Jersey Boys. Didn't even know so many songs are by them.

This trip is really such a lazy trip that I did not even take a single photo!....... Although I did lug my DSLR and zoom lens with me..cross the Pacific Ocean, and then across continental USA! I suppose good also la... Less photos to develop as I have yet to develop our December holiday photos with the boys. Speaking of boys... Where are they? With their grandparents back in PJ lor. Mommy and daddy off and away on holiday without them.... H says last December holidays was not a holiday as he was so stressed with the boys constantly fighting o er everything. After this trip, he'll be off to Europe for work again. And I have to continue with my studies...
But until then, we still have few more days of our holiday to enjoy. We are off to Los Angeles now...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

My Mind is Rev-ing Up...

Yes. Indeed. My mind has been rev-ing up in the last week..... after being dormant for the last five years. And I kid you not, it is not an easy task of re-starting an idle mind. At the end of the day, I am dead tired. Though I can doze off quite quickly, I find that I wake up before the alarm clock which is a NO-NO in my books! Even woke up at 4 am the other morning and couldnt' go back to bed. What do I do to try to compensate? Snooze in the car if the opportunity arises. Hope my driver didn't see my dripping saliva!! Hahhahaa

So what have I been up to?
Studying!
Hahahhaha....
But it is true. I have been brushing up on my Maths, Add Maths, Physics and Chemistry.... well at least to the iGCSE Levels for the time being.
Why?
Two Reasons:
1) My brain will go kaput if I don't do something.... So have decided to offer private tutoring to students in the boys' school once Term 3 starts. This will force me to 'work' the brain. '
2) S1 needs to work hard to get into the Additional Maths group, and also ...he takes in iGCSE in 2013. Seems distant but need to start condition him. (Hey! I will even make him complete a couple of Maths problems in the plane later...and he agreed!)

Actually, already decided before I went to Bali with my girlfriends a couple of weeks ago. There are also a few things that is in the pipeline.... partnering with a Malaysian and some local partners. Will update when it is MORE official.

Okay. Better go to see if there is any last-minute packing...
Boys' two week Easter Break starts today, and we are flying off to KUL this morning.
ADIOS!

HOT and COLD...

HOT and COLD... Opposites right? But what would you think if I said "Hot and Cold goes together?" Will you be thinking in terms of Physics, say Heat flowing from HOT - a higher temperature body to COLD - a lower temperature body? Or would you be thinking about the HOT and COLD moods of your spouse? I actually have something totally different in my mind... thinking more of the simple pleasures of life. .... Have you ever sat out in your backyard or terrace in front of an open fire pit, sipping a mug of hot cocoa in the middle of winter? I tell you, it is rather exhilarating yet comforting at the same time. Yes. Even in the -10 deg Celcius Helsinki temperatures, HOT and COLD goes together. Ever heard of jumping into the famed frozen lakes after a sauna?

Sleeping on Someone Else's Bed Tonight!

THAT statement caught your attention, didn't it? Wondering whose bed am I going to be sleeping on tonight? What will my hubby think? Oh! Mon Dieu! Hahahaha ... Well, in case you are wondering, there is nothing sinister nor having any tinge of hanky-panky going on. In fact, I will be on my mother's bed tonight.... all comfortably fitted with sferra sheets. Surprised? Don't be. It's the boys' two week Easter Break starting today, and we are flying off home in about 4 hours time. See you around town this evening!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Offshore Engineers.....

Did I mention that I am a trained Chemical Engineer? Before I joined the work force, when I was still a fresh-eyed student, I had dreams of working offshore in an oil rig. The thoughts of working 2 weeks on, and 2 weeks off seems so ideal. But my vivid imagination squashed all those ideas, as I kept thinking about the what-ifs. I kept thinking of my safety.... I mean most oil rigs will be filled with men, and I really didn't fancy to be the only female on the rig. In addition to that, Offshore Accidents can happen and I am a scaredy-cat. What did I do then? I opted to start off in a water and wastewater engineering firm.....

What really works to get rid of thunder thighs?

My friend recently took me to a 'Beauty Clinic' for treatment of a cold sore that popped out by the side of my lip. This 'Beauty Clinic' seems to provide a whole lot of services from consultation with dermatologists, to normal facials, to IPLs to injections with Vitamin C to dissolve body fats. I was a bit surprised with the Vitamin C injections, but my friend who has tried it swears that she no longer has thunder thighs. I don't know about 'injections'.... scardy-cat like me would probably just get a bottle of adapexin-p fat burner pills and try my luck.

Friday, April 01, 2011

S1's Sensitive Skin

Did I mention that my S1 has very sensitive skin? It didn't take long before his skin started to react to the dry Californian air when we were in Los Angeles last December. His lips cracked really badly even with the application of lip balm. He used up so many sticks of lip balm that you probably thought that he ate them! His skin around his ears also cracked badly. We joked that if we were to move to Helsinki, his ears would immediately fall off the moment he got off the plane! hahaha... I guess if we ever relocate to a place with dry air, we would have to buy a humidifier just for him.

Our Malaysian Education System is not that bad...

First thing first. When I said that, I am basically referring to MY time in school. Waaaaa... that is over 20 years ago. Or perhaps I should say 25 years ago???
I do not know how it is TODAY so can't comment.

What compelled me to use that as my blog title?
Well, as you know.... I have been reading up on iGCSE Mathematics while lounging by the beach in Bali. The more I read, the more questions I have regarding the system at my boys' school, the more upset I got.

The school segregates the kids into 5 different Maths groups. Currently S1 is in the 2nd Group. All this while, S1 tells me that 1st Group will take their iGCSE in Year 10 instead of Year 11. Being the relaxed mom that I am, I certainly didn't feel the need to push him to be in the 1st Group - thinking they are all learning the same stuff, just difference in speed. I mean why wanna do the Exams a year earlier?

Anyway, I found out recently that the 1st Group will write the Cambridge Board and the rest all Edexcel. And not only that, they will get to take iGCSE Additional Maths in Year 11. My thoughts are why the difference in Examination Boards?? Why only the 1st Group take Additional Maths? Why is the school depriving the kids from learning MORE? And why split Mathematics and Additional Mathematics to be taken in two separate years? I remember taking BOTH papers the SAME year, and that wasn't a problem AT ALL.


What irks me is that in general, the examination boards, the school is lowering the bar and NOT pushing kids to do their best. I tell you... I have never seen my S1 do Maths homework. Only homework I see regularly is his Japanese Language... which even then takes only 20 or so minutes to complete. Mind you. My S1 is at the 'PMR level' this year (Year 9), and taking his iGCSE in 2 years time. When there are 'challenge questions', it is always an OPTION. So surely kids OPT NOT TO DO. How can? They (other kids) say the 1st Group is waaaaaaaaaay ahead than the 2nd Group. Well, from what I hear, almost ALL kids in the 1st Group does outside tuition. Compare this with my S1 who has no tuition, does no homework, and lazes in front of the TV every single day. Everytime I ask him about homework, he says he has completed them. (Once he answered me "Mom. Please trust me when I tell you that I've done my homework. There ought to be some trust between mother and son." I tell you. I was really flabbergasted. What could I say? When he is so right?), and his report is always on target. So I am a bit weary about their so-called reports. And don't you think if my son just does a weeeeee bit more... he would be as good as the 1st Group students? So he can do it. So why why not challenge him? And why close the doors at this early stage when higher level Mathematics will open some doors??

So what is mommy going to do??
I'm spoken to the Class Rep (her son is also in the 2nd Group and keen to do Additional Maths. She and hubby are Actuaries) and she has spoken to the Principal, and is arranging to meet with the Head of the Maths department etc to GET Additional Mathematics subject for the 2nd Group. (Everyone can't cram into the 1st Group. There is always a maximum, thus not enough slots.) We have had a new principal and he is determined to bring the academic standards UP, which is great news.
Meanwhile, I am going to write to S1's Math teacher to voice my concern etc etc... Will try to bug him to PUSH my S1 to the 1st Group. *sigh* I don't want to be the kiasu mom, but I don't want him to NOT do Additional Maths. I really don't mind him staying in 2nd or whatever group as long as the kids are accorded the same learning opportunities. Clearly this is NOT the case. Further discussion with more moms made me even more disappointed. I suppose I was ignorant about the schooling for a while. Thinking we were leaving the school last July, and need not bother. And now we are staying in Jakarta I have to plan to see what is best for my children's education.

Apparently, the school is discouraging kids from taking Higher Level Mathematics at IB telling them that it is hard. WTF? As a school or parent, we should not discourage our kids to NOT do something because it is hard. What are we teaching them? Take the easy way out ALL the time? My friends tell me that the school wants to have lots of As and if students take harder subjects, it might result in less As and more Bs or Cs. Aiyo. How can? My S1 says he wants to be a doctor (maybe too much HOUSE, perhaps?) and that would require HL Maths, HL Chemistry, HL Biology in a lot of universities. So I can't let him miss out on Additional Maths at this level. Otherwise, the jump from iGCSE Maths to IB HL Maths would be very great.

I was also disappointed to find out (though it does not concern me) that the 5th Group in the school is doing Foundation Level Mathematics instead of the Extended Level. This means that the maximum grade attainable is a C .... no matter how hard the kids slog. I feel that being a fee-paying school, they shouldn't even have this Level. I am sure a lot of the parents do NOT know this. Otherwise they would be doing all they can to move their child up the learning curve, be it by extra tutoring or whatever. It's like before they even try to study hard, you put a limit to a maximum of C. And from last year, expansion of brackets will be removed from the syllabus for this Foundation Level. This instantly brought to mind an email that circulated around...
If you recall-
The question was: Expand (x+2)(x+3)
The student did this: ( x.....+.......2 )( x .....+.......3 )
This will be what the 5th Group students be doing if given this question!!

And I went to my first trial tutoring session yesterday. Didn't really teach as she was waaaay ahead in her class already. She is in the 3rd Group, but she had some old books from 2 years back from her previous British school in Europe. And the work she has done in Year 7 then is not even touched-upon in her current Year 9 class. So you say lah. The standard of Mathematics in this school must be waaaaaaaay below normal. So what was the only outcome of the session?
Mom was pleased that she is now agreeable to move to a higher level group, i.e. 2nd Group; whereby she previously strongly opposed (so much so that she would shutdown and not do any work). Kids!
So will I get another session? I told her mom "No need". What's the point when she is already waaaaay ahead in her group. Perhaps only when she moves up to the next group, and has to play catch-up.

So back to my blog title.... Everybody in the Science stream does both Mathematics and Additional Mathematics. All sama-sama same same. No need to fight. Better kids get better grade. The not so good kids get lower grades. I still think a C in Additional Mathematics is better than NO grade in Additional Mathematics.
We cover more topics in more depth (eventhough my class then was like 40-over people)... maybe because we were FORCED to do practice sheets as homework???
And when I look at some PMR workbooks, the topic depth coverage is more than what my S1 is currently doing. *sigh* The sad thing is my school fees then were in the tens of Ringgit, and here... the school fees can make my nose bleed.... As the Cantonese saying goes "LAU PEI HUIT" especially when we have to pay our own school fees in August...

PENGSANZZZZZ

Royal Wedding of the Century

Unless you have been living in a cocoon for the last umpteen months, I am sure you have heard about the Royal Wedding. What Royal Wedding??? Wow! You really are living in a cocoon! I am referring to The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday, 29th April 2011 at Westminster Abbey, London. I had wanted to fly over to London and drag my sister, G (the one living in London) to 'attend' the wedding festivities. Yes. Yes. I hear you say "security would be so tight that you will not get near enough to see anything!". Perhaps if both of us wear designer bridesmaid dresses might fool the security folks into thinking that we are Kate's bridesmaids. No? You think it would not work???

"Coast-to-Coast LA-to-Chicago"

Remember the British singer, Sade? The song "Smooth Operator"? The Title of my blog post today is a line from that song. And me being me, I had to sing it out loud whilst typing it out. Errr..... whether it is in tune or not is another thing. Why the sudden thought about coast-to-coast LA-to-Chicago? Well, my silly H suggested that we drive coast-to-coast, but not from LA-to-Chicago but from LA-to-NYC. That would be great if we have ample time. But to do it within a week? I think not! That would be torture rather than relaxation. Perhaps in our retirement, we would get a RV (one that is as luxurious as the one in the movie 'Meet the Parents') and take this trip. Only worry is rv breakdowns. What would two oldies do in the middle of the Mojave Desert? Really have to equip ourselves with the right rv repair insurance or company that will provide swift 'rescue' service.... wouldn't want us two oldies to be eaten up by coyotes!

Getting our own car....

Come July this year, we will have to either purchase a car or continue to lease a car. I've been calculating that perhaps buying a car would work out to be more economical. The only problem of owning our own car is the cost of maintenance and the exorbitant car insurances. I wonder if there is a cheap car insurance that I can sign on. Ok. Not any Tom Dick and Harry insurances, but one that is reliable, economical and provides the best coverage. Any good companies to recommend?