Thursday, July 28, 2011

Education Revisited

Hello blogworld!

I know, I know. No sound or movement on this site for more than six months. The usual excuses don't quite cut it. Too busy, too exhausted, watching too much TV (Mad Men, Treme, Outrageous Fortune, now Downton Abbey), other (ad)ventures keeping me busy, oh and of course the fact that I work full-time and have a kid! Heh.

Well, am reviving this for a day as I'm at a social media course. Yes another one. Am becoming very wired, in the best sense of the word!

OK, gotta go back to student mode, and in tribute, here's a tribute to education. Or the need to rethink it in the age of the cloud.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dove Onslaught vs Dove Onslaught(er)

At a course right now on New Media and was shown this. LOVE THE IRONY.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Jordy Book Club: 2010 Retrospective

I last wrote about Jordy's favorite books a year ago. In the year since, he's developed an even deeper love for reading and stories, and can recite along almost word for word to many of his favorites. I love that he has a pretty established library now, filled with books that are taped together and dog-eared from daily use. That library of over 150 books is so much a part of who he is. For two fellow readers, it's a lovely thing to witness.

So without further ado, here are the top books of 2010, ranked in no particular order, and treated like members of the family by my little bibliophile.

Let's start off with the night books. By this I mean, these are the books that are either inside, or under his cot. A pool from which we read between three to six most nights before bed.

Airport, by Byron Barton
I bought this for Jordy to help him make sense of his first flight, an 11-hour long epic journey to New Zealand in December 2009. He started off fascinated by the wonderful detail in the pictures and point out all the objects he recognized, from buses to planes to a little boy with a red bag. Now he knows the whole book by heart, and can recite whole passages, a particular favourite bit being "control tower to pilot: all clear for takeoff!".

Papa, please get the moon for me, by Eric Carle
Yet another one he knows by heart. Made even more special when D reads it with Jordy. Oh and he loves the Youtube version too!

I Love You as Big as the World, by David Van Buren and Time Warnes
I got this off a Scholastic book club order form from Jordy's school and am so delighted I did. It is one of the sweetest books about a parent and child, and shows a nose-kiss on the cover - one of Jordy's favourite past-times, aside from eating cake!

The Little Red Caboose
I still don't know why he loves this one so much. But it has to be in his cot when he sleeps!

Lion in the Meadow
A classic New Zealand beautifully-rendered tale about a young boy and his friendship with a lion. The appearance of a huge pink dragon is of particular delight to J. As is the wonderful pictorial detail. Jordy loves reciting the lines, some of them a mouthful which he does with stunning accuracy, like "Mother, there is a huge, whiskery, yellow lion in the meadow." And he's started describing the tiniest details in the book with his usual panache. Example. "little boy reading a book on mummy's lap" or "lion whispering story to little boy". And the pink Shrek dragon Godpa James bought for Jordy from Universal Studios is the EXACT replica of the dragon in the meadow. Just wonderful!

Run Rabbit Run
Another Kiwi favorite. For some reason, the line "Is it the farmer come to bring me some carrots?"tickles him to no end.

Chocolate mousse for greedy goose
He started out iffy about this one, but now it is a firm favorite. Favorite line to recite includes "macaroni for shetland pony". The sweetest thing, he calls the book "chocolate moose, reading goose".

Where is the Green Sheep?
LOVES this one. Has invented a whole bunch of names for the sheep depicted, including "astronaut sheep", "reflection sheep" for a sheep gazing at himself in a pond, "birthday cake sheep" for a bunch of picnicing sheep, and "aeroplane sheep" for a sheep with angel wings.

Toddle Waddle
This was the first Julia Donaldson that started him off. And the first book that featured a travelling snail, so of course he loved it!

The last bedtime book is one that I got as a cheapie from Kinokuniya called Charlie's Clothes. It must be no longer available as I can't find any image of it online!

As for day time books, there are truly too many to name for 2010. But these are the ones we come back to time and again.

The little yellow digger
Fabulous rhymes, one of the books in Jordy's collection I love reading out loud the most.

Spur of the moment purchase turned favorite dinner time book. He now calls peas Pete and Penelope.

The very hungry caterpillar
We had this for ages but he showed no interest in it before he turned 18 months. After that though, it suddenly became a mealtime staple. And now he loves counting the different fruit and saying in a loud voice "one slice of salami!"

My big world book
His favourite of the genre. Jordy's always loved being tested on his vocabulary. Must get it from me. In the early days, he'd point at the koala and say "kaupapa!". Very sweet. These days, he shows his nature boy tendencies by pointing out things like "Huge rock under the waterfall!"

Monkey puzzle
I used to have to read this everyday! Now it's more like once a week.

On the subject of reading though, my sister just posted the single best speech I have read in a looooong time. Mario Vargas Llosa's Nobel Prize for Literature lecture on reading. I almost teared in awe at how he managed to make epic the simple acts of imagining, writing and reading. I was alternately thrilled and inspired. And also very thankful that I have married a reading man, and we are raising a little reading boy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What does work-life harmony mean to you?

To me, it means undertaking meaningful work while remaining engaged with your family. I'm moved to write about this because the last week of January will be the most intense and busy work-wise for me since I started working in the non-profit sector. It's a once-in-a-lifetime world volunteer conference event which I'll be managing the communications for. It'll also see me working from 7am to God-knows-what-time for four days.

"What's four days?" I hear some of you ask. Four days is eight Jordy pick-ups and drop-offs, four breakfasts and dinners, 32 stories, endless negotiations over length of baths and how many biccies for dessert, and about a thousand tickles. Four days is also a lot of juggling for poor D and I.

While I know we'll get through it, and I won't likely have to work those types of hours for some time, I can't help but think of those parents out there for whom this is a reality. Not to mention the single parents. Perhaps work life harmony is not about the absolute hours you work, but about reaching an arrangement where you are comfortable, or at least can live with, the roles you take on.

Which started me thinking about the most kid-friendly jobs out there for someone with my sort of skills and interests. Just storing this away for future reference, and for the possible scenario of a number two child (purely hypothetical at this stage!):

1. PR Consultant - need to get client mix right. Best would be non-consumer based accounts. Perhaps government project, international NGO, research agency or think-tank.

2. Online retail store owner - I harbour such dreams surrounding online retail. I reckon I'd be good at sales. Never tried it professionally, unless you count 'selling' ideas to clients and media, but my gut tells me I could be good at this. Have so many ideas floating in my head right now. So exciting!

3. Freelance writer - doable, but now that I am working closely with one at work, realise it's a continual challenge getting steady work. What you need is at least one anchor retainer client. Who pays on time. Also, not sure about long-term job satisfaction.

4. Tuition teacher - reckon I could earn tidy sum teaching GP or English, but again, job-satisfaction and need to work weekends.

5. Start own business that is child or parenting focused - except I don't think I subscribe to the main parenting values in Singapore. May not understand what drives potential customers. Example, I don't believe in enrichment programmes or hothousing at a young age, also have strong distaste for anything labelled Xxx-method. But believe there are a growing number like me. Always worth revisiting.

Anyway, where I am really suits me right now. I do feel I am achieving work life harmony most days, though don't even talk to me about that last week of January. Ah well, as long as I feel I am getting somewhere. Didn't Confucius say something about just keep moving, however slowly, as long as you don't stop? Will keep those words close to my heart for now.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Resolute in my resolutions

Publishing my resolutions in the hopes of becoming more accountable for them...

1. Exercise twice a week: build up to 10 laps of the pool at work, and brisk walking on the treadmill for 6 to 8 songs on iPod.

2. Be more tolerant and patient, and forgiving. Especially of the people dearest to me.

3. Put pen to paper. Sit down and write at least one hour a week. Fiction, business plan, volunteer copywriting, whatever it is, just get it out. If not it's juts a bunch of incoherent thoughts in my brain.

4. Cook at least three dinners a week. Aim for two of these to be vegetarian or fish-based.

5. Eat oatmeal at least twice a week.

6. Count blessings everyday to ward off Singaporean envy-your-neighbour/friends/colleagues/random people syndrome.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Very Camel New Year to You!

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My first creation of 2011. This could get addictive!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Sunset of the Year

We just came back from witnessing the last sunset of the year at Labarador Park. It was truly beautiful. Reminded me to take stock of all the good things in life and try not to get sucked into the national pastime of complaining!

It also reminded me to just sit down and write a blog for goodness sake! Though the blogging has been sporadic at best, so many blog-rich things have happened this past year which never made it to the pages of The Camel Diaries. Much like how many of life's best moments aren't captured on film as you were too busy, well, living.

So in the spirit of rememberances of things past, and of tomorrow's fortunes told, here are some life events which never made it to blogland, but should have!

1. Awesome holidays - Turnip staycation in Swissotel, Bintan family trip to celebrate gong gong and mama's 40th wedding anniversary

2. Jordy in the news - Meant to post the wonderful piece Janice wrote about Jordy in The Straits Tiimes. Aside from capturing Jordy's personality in an uncannily accurate way, what was most special to me was the obvious bond the two shared. They are both introverts (and I mean this in the best possible way) and I am blessed to have them in my extroverted life.

3. The Jordy Language Explosion - from single words to quirky phrases, and now to full on sentences and semi-conversations, and even the daily word game, this is one journey I really regret not capturing in more detail. How did the child who started off saying "car!" to everything now make all sorts of random statements like "fountain is hiding behind the bush" and "Jordy don't want to go play school. Jordy want to go gong gong and mama's house. Gong gong and mama's house this way!" (said in car seat while pointing in direction of expressway). And just today, we were revisiting some old PowerPoints he used to love, and he shocked me by being able to recognise and say all the alphabets and all the shapes in the slideshow, yes, including pentagon, hexagon and trapezium (though he pronounces it poot-pee-zium, which I suspect is a little insider joke of his.

4. The meaning of Christmas = patience - we put up our tree on 17 November and Jordy never once insisted on opening any of his presents. His first present under the tree was a red package from sheepie and dragon, and he was so thrilled that they rememebered. As the days wore on, the red box got buried under the growing pile of presents. On Christmas Eve, D and I told Jordy on the way home from his cousins that he could open one present when he got home. As we pulled into the carpark he was extremely jaunty, and did his self-satisfied waddle back home. As soon as he got in the door, re ran to the tree and fished out the red present from under the sea of brightly-packages, and said "love, sheepie and dragon" - D and I were amazed and very moved.

5. Dora the Explorer - she has become the fourth flatmate in our already cosy apartment...

6. A fine balance - still finding my feet in the working world, but feeling very buoyed by several professional firsts for me, all involving unprecedented media coverage of volunteerism and philanthropy in Singapore. Of course it's not all due to my efforts, not by far, but I did play a pretty crucial role in making it happen, and I am so pleased with this addition to my portfolio and CV. Definitely something to be proud of. Also, I feel like I am moving in the right direction work-wise, and I feel very lucky to have negotiated successfully flexible work arrangements. Not normal for a local organisation, so I'm counting my blessings.

7. The Wire - D and I finished all five seasons and dare we say it, we actually think it ranks as top of our list of TV series in a long time. So much so that when we went back to watch The West Wing, we astonished ourselves by cringing now and again at the hokey-ness of some of the scenes. BUT The West Wing is still very much up there for us, and will suffer no more criticism from me again. Just this once, ha ha.

8. The Ipad - D gave me one for Christmas. I love it (and him) very, very much.

9. Many more, including an awesome visit from Godpa James, my first visit to Universal Studios Singapore, Jordy's lovely, blossoming relationship with his cousins, Jordy being promoted to nursery 1 (!), Jordy spending his first night away from us - and now asking to go to gong gong and mama's for sleepoveers, oh and a pretty lovely Christmas party we threw for a bunch of friends and kids (that saw me cooking a kinda three-course meal to suit vegetarians and pescatarians, which I had a blast doing and so wanna do again), awesome books I'd like to recommend like Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, and now my stomach is rumbling and it's new year's eve so I'm going to get me some sparkling grape juice and cookies.

In short, blogging declined because I was too busy with life. Help! But I have also realized that blogging is a fun part of my life at least and I resolve to do more of it in 2011. Which brings me to... Resolutions. Won't be many this year. Still mulling, but will post them in the new year.

May 2011 be filled with happiness, joy, peace and tiny miracles. xo.