Saturday, March 31, 2007

Holiday

Hubby talked about a holiday and I gasped! My passport is expiring in July and I had been procrastinating to doing a new one.

Since he mentioned it, though destination still undecided, I think I had better make a new passport for myself and Aricia.

I need a break. I'm hoping for a long break.... but then it means I'll have to plan the itinery and we get to the places ourselves etc.. quite tiring to do all these planning at home amidst taking care of children. Siong ah..... Hoping for Europe or US (again) or perhaps Australia will be a good idea too for kids. Perhaps, perhaps.... ai yah better don't talk so much lah! Sekali hubby tell me "let's go Bintan" I faint siah!

Aricia mei-mei

After I've been complaining about Aricia's development - she can finally sit! When I propped her up, she remained seated and started playing, instead of sliding herself down flat and laugh. Of course we will not let her sit too long at a time, still in the training stage. But I'm thankful that she's learning something new now. Still moving backwards, and she moves really fast. Often she likes it more when she has her legs dangling down on the sofa sides or bed sides. But once she does that, I carry her up and back. And she'll do it again. Now she's found something new to test my patience. Hasn't said her "ba's, pa's" at all. Did manage to catch her say "ma" and today she said something else. We nicknamed Athena "na-na", and were calling her when suddenly heard Aricia saying "na" Wonder when she'll start crawling. She's really cute. Love her so so much!

She loves it when I turn on her VCD. Will sit there and watch it. Today, I was alternating the VCD when she started kicking excitedly when the trailer came on. Dunno what's so interesting about that.
Came back home in the afternoon and saw a cute and pretty baby smiling at me. Although the 'coconut' thing is a trend in the past.. KZ tied her hair up and she looks so charming. Athena didn't look that cute last time with her 'coconuts'. I think it's because Aricia has curly hair so it kinds of open like a flower and it nicer than a straight one.

Do they look the same??

KZ told me that Aricia really look like Athena. I thought there's a slight resemblence, of course different size.
Athena

Aricia

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mumblings

Things that Athena's been repeating and repeating lately

1) Recently she's been singing to the song "Do Your Ears hang low" with some mumbling behind (not sure of lyrics) and then she's been bugging me to sing it in French for her. And you think I can sing it well? I had problem pronouncing French! Even relying on the lyrics didn't help coz' I sound funny.

And recently she's been mumbling in her Japanese words too. When I asked her she can pronounce it well but once she starts singing - she ended up singing Russian.?!?! A simple song : Head & shoulders, knees & toes in Japanese turned out horrible. Duh! Better send her to language school.

When I put her in bed, she insists that I sing "This Old Man" to her. I've been singing this boring song for the whole week!

2) Boring too is her asking me for this story : The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Now I tell her the very Singaporean way with Singapore food; Athena as the caterpillar but instead of turning into a butterfly - she pangsai (to her laughter). And the thing is that during our trip to the Zoo, I showed her caterpillars and the life cycle. So when I read this book to her for the first time, she told me what happened to the caterpillar. And then she started bragging that she saw it in the Zoo and that I had explained to her about it and about insects camouflaging themselves.

Things I need to do with Athena :
1) Been wanting to do polymer clay with Athena but never got the chance to do it. However knowing my girl, before she can do anything, I'll die of heart attack. I mean, even with her Playdoh, I'm already nagging and screaming at her for doing it wrongly etc.. Too high expectations from this mummy huh?

2) I think her extra violin lesson is killing me. It not only takes up one day where I can't do much with her after she gets back home, but it also means that daily I'll have additional revision with her. And I'm always pressed for time. Doesn't help when you have a girl who don't understand the meaning of time constraints and keep dilly dallying around the house. And I scream at her everyday. Mom says I'm over- stressing myself. Nobody is as ON as me. Perhaps if I close both eyes to my children's education I'll live longer. But I still need to do her assesments books with her. Now I get so fed up with her, I promised her her drawing only after she's finished what I needed to do with her.

3) Was doing Maths with her and I was about to bang her head against the wall. She writes the mirror image of the number '5'. When I asked Ms Chan only then did I realise that the children haven't even done their writing for this year for Maths. What the heck are they doing in class? Worst still, told me "they're doing patterning." "What? Still doing patterning." Oh my! Am I too advance, and I was already doing addition and subtraction with her. Even let her do the multiplication. Too kiasu? Too slow curriculum in school? How are they going to prepare the children well for P1? Isn't it abit too late for me to put her in another school?
So, now I realise gotta get her to practice more numeral writings. Should I put a halt to what I'm doing? Heck lah! I'll go ahead since I have plenty of assesments books .

4) Her DIY rhyme cards was ready for a long time, but haven't got the chance to play it with her. Why? You see our busy schedule lah! Hubby either comes back home late or out of country, can't help to take care of children so KZ and me have to work hand-in-hand. If not, it'll be easier to have him to help take care of the younger one and I can put them both to bed earlier.

5) Her GD flashcards; assesment books; music lesson takes up the time. That...........I can only read one book for her bedtime. And I've totally forgotten about her Chinese 'I Can Read' books. Gotta remember to do that.

6) She hasn't been doing her CD-rom lately all thanks to her again. So before I die of heart attack from pressing her to hurry up, I better let her play her CD-roms.

7) Haven't even had the time to bake cookies with Athena over the weekends, she has those cute cookie cutters which she enjoys cutting her bread - so hopefully can make use of it in another way. Bake the cookies and she can do the colouring.

8) Didn't do the right-brain training with her when she was young. So, I hope with what I learn from Shichida with Aricia, I can do something with her. Dunno if it's too late to help nurture that side of her brain which is (I think) empty. So, gotta prepare flashcards and flashcards. Even more busy coz' I can only do it in the afternoons, and how much do I really have when I gotta spend time with Aricia? No need to sleep lor.. sometimes really gotta send the kids sleep in KZ's and our room while I do printing and things in Athena's room. Meant to keep my printer now, but looks like it's gonna stay here for dunno how long more. I hope whatever I'm doing with the kids are worth it man!

June school holiday programs:
1) Dunno whether I have the time or not, I'll like to invite Amanda, Eliz and Victoria over again for them to play. But must check with their mommies if they mind. Helen will be doing her confinement so maybe she'll be alone. Maybe I can manage?? Of course bearing in mind on their individual programs, must find a suitable day.

2) Elmo is coming to town again, Athena says she dowan to watch it again. So, can save money. But I'm really hoping for Hi5 to come.

3) Own activities with Athena. I have these cute chocolate molds of Pooh & gang, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse & gang etc.. dunno what else can I do with it. She's done the chocolates a couple of times but you know I'm restricting her chocolate intake so it's like wasting the chocolates. Soap? Gotta figure out how to do. Or what else can I do with it?

4) Plan to pull her out from school a few days, so that I can bring her out on excursions. Been wanting to bring her to Science Centre but dunno if she's too young for it? But will be keen on bringing her to air-conditioned place.

My own mumblings (something which I can do very well)

1) I know I have been threatening her dunno how many times to throw away her toys and never to buy her toys again - I still bought her more toys. I think Athena knows which place has the best toys, she loves ELC and The Better Toy Store, and I can understand why - they really have the good toys. Even ToysRUs isn't that interesting to us.
I wanted to buy board games, but after the last board game - Bus Stop (which is supposedly to learn how to add & subtract) I was pek-chek when she uses it as a checker peg. It's meant to be a fun thing to play along with her but I've broken the rules myself! See lah, even if I try learn thru play, I can get frustrated with her.
End up I bought her Makili (which I read from Mel's blog & needed for Aricia's session next time)& Impossiblo (which I had problem doing it myself). Okay, not to bad.... her memory is good. But ask her to recite the story again, she can tell me but not in fluency. Ok, can't expect much from a 4yr old. She can join the pictures together for Impossiblo but seems to have problem with the last 3 cards. I always have problem with one last card.

2) Dr Ng said he overheard me teaching Athena Maths outside while waiting to see him, He mentioned how funny I sounded when I kept asking her to "tell me the equation. What is the equation? See properly.." So I explained that she was doing addition, and it's shown eg. 2 + 3 = , on the bottom they draw something so they can count. Without counting, she simply counted everything and said it's '5' and wrote down 5 without seeing the equation. Of course I pek-chek lah! She's suppose to learn what adds up to the number but she's counting it straightaway. I might as well bring her to NTUC and ask her to count the number of eggs there. ?!?!
Annie (nurse) said that she doesn't do that much with her children. Well, it's a totally different matter for me coz' I'm not working so I have to make full use of it. If I ever worked again, I'll definitely have to slow down.
Annie commented that she is reluctant to learn the new approach in teaching children. Eg. the way she does her calculations is based on what she's been used to for the past 20 over years. Justifiable! I also but my opinion is that for Maths we have no choice but to keep up with how the children can derive an answer from the equation. And she said she only knew what is number bond now, whereas I'm already into number bonds with Athena.

3) Birthdays : We are definitely celebrating Aricia's 1st birthday - important milestone leh! It's only another 6 months down the road, so I gotta start preparing things. Theme is already decided so will work from there. Likewise, to be fair, we will be celebrating Athena's birthday. She told me what she wanted as her theme. As usual, she recently changed her mind to "I want to have my party in MacDonalds" Ai yoh.. that girl huh. I think I'd like to keep it small for her this year. Too many children, cannot cope, too many guests I can't entertain - so paiseh. Won't it be boring for the parents for the MacDonald's party?

4) Aricia's baby book: She's 6 months old and her book is very empty. I haven't had the time to do it. Most importantly, I haven't developed Aricia's photos since she was born & Athena's last developed photos was some time in August 06. Oh goash! It's going to cost alot!

5) Thank goodness I signed Athena up for computer class in her school. Yesterday she wanted to play on my laptop.. and she knew how to use the touchpad and when we gave her the mousepad; she knew how to use it. It's so much better now, I used to scream at her "press the left click, why did you press the right click? Move your mouse, move! "

Managed a lil' shopping

with Aricia alone, and I'm already tired. The busy week has made me looked forward to this jalan-jalan, but it has somehow put me off! I would love to bring Aricia out with me to gai-gai (as I often did with Athena) but frankly I had to cut down on it coz' I need the afternoons to flash cards to her & when we start Shichida - more things to do with her.

What put me off which was supposed to be a nice and enjoyable outing with daughter? Is the fact that she didn't want to be in a stroller, she likes the human touch. And I didn't bring the baby carrier from the car so was struggling with her. It is hard to carry her and push the stroller at the same time. And when I carry her, she likes to wobble to & fro, then put her head closer to me; look at me; move closer; I get the hint and move head forward; she bangs my head; start smiling; arch body back in "laughter" and continues. She is so happy, looking around; smiling and kept kicking her legs in excitement.All these actions from her makes it even harder to push the stroller.
She was in the stroller for barely an hour in total!! See how naughty my girl is! Whenever I put her down, she protests by sliding down dangling her legs and crying out loud & looking at me. Goash! People thought I was ill-treating her. The moment I carry her, her cries immediately stopped; so precise to that second!

********************************************************************************
At the toy shop, she looked so adorable when she was looking at the wooden toys moving.
Her eyes and head moved accordingly and her mouth was wide opened. When she saw one toy which has a woodpecker on the long stick and you hit the nose on it, the woodpecker will peck down the stick - her head was moving accordingly and she was laughing. All these are new toys to her coz' she has never seen them at all. Frankly speaking, I do like these toys but I am not going to spend the money on something which is not beneficial to her.
As we left the shop, something caught her attention and she kept staring hard at it, probably wondering why the head kept bobbing up and down.


I'm glad that I managed to buy some toys for the both of them & some snacks from Pigeon for Aricia. Replenished my Lactacyd as well, since two kids are using Lactacyd to bathe, my bottles finish up very quickly. And it's so bloody expensive!


How assured are you?

As full-time mothers, how many times do we wish we can have time on our own? Most of the times is the answer.
And how are we to have time on our own without help right? Ok.. so come my main question now.

How assured are you leaving your child with a helper? or a nanny?
I'm not! Although I do leave Aricia with KZ, I'm not assured that I can rely on her. Don't be mistaken, from what I see KZ will not ill-treat my children but I'll still not leave her to care for her for long. Although I may risk putting Aricia to harm by her carelessness within that short time span too.
We read in the papers that helpers put things into baby's milk; give toes to let baby suck; smack the child and the worsts - abuse the child. It's sad to see that it does happen around you. Who knows? The constant screaming from a young kid in my block (somewhere) could be due to helper beating child coz' I don't hear the parents' or adult voices. Oh goash!
Now, I leave Aricia in KZ's care for 3-4 hrs when I hit the gym. And not a single time I can work out without thinking how my girl is. I did tell KZ, that should I find out that any of my children have been mistreated I can send her back anytime. Of course there was the assurance from her "no..I will never do it", I did psycho her "let's hope that whatever you do is based on your conscience. And as a Christian, I know you will not. So, let me put trust you in this. If anything happens, you will revoke your conscience more than anything else in this world."
My 3-4hrs is already a big challenge since I never dare to leave her with helper alone. Gf Moo Han will remember how I talk about "not trusting" and how crazy I'll be to bring Aricia out in the morning & back home vv the evening time - even when I only leave the house for less than an hour each time.
Instructions have since been given that
1) she can stop her housework to help care for Aricia for that few hours while I'm in gym
2) she can only feed and play with her. I'll bathe her or (touch wood) give medications or those daily pao-shen/cordeyceps myself.

Mom has seen how KZ feeds her. I was busy with Athena at that time when she saw KZ feeding Aricia while she was on her back. Mom told her never to do that again and how a child can get choke. The moment she said that and quickly lifted Aricia up, she started coughing. KZ seemed oblivious to the fact; thinking it's Aricia's way of rejecting food (she does cough when she don't want any more milk / food) Mom can hear the difference, put her finger in and dug out a piece of bread. ?!?!
Mom did question me if I've seen it. Of course not lah! If I did, I would have told her off immediately. So the point is, even when I'm at home and probably busy somewhere (eg. checking emails; sitting on throne; preparing study materials) KZ is making the mistakes in bringing up a child. I know, she's not a mother herself. She has never cared for any young children before so she does make mistakes. But how assured are you to leave your child in the hands or carelessness on your helper's part?

Dad has seen how she tried to play with Aricia by carrying her and turning her ownself round and round in a fast manner. Told her off, she didn't know about the dangers.

Okay, to be fair let's talk about brother's helper who has cared for children while working in Indonesia. Mom saw how she fed Iggy. Propped the bottle with pillows! Oh my! Frankly speaking, I've seen many lazy parents doing that in strollers too. I mean, why can't you just carry the child up and feed him/her. I will do that even if I'm out shopping (so you see, I always never get my shopping done unless someone is with me). I'd rather let that 15-20mins pass than to see that lovely dress and risk my child getting air from the bottle; or worst still - suffocated from the propped pillows. How careless can some parents be? Tsk tsk.
She didn't even support Iggy's head well when carrying him! So... some helpers talk about "I know how to care for children" depends on how the parents' think. If the parents are the lazy or bo-chap kind.. they think the helpers are doing fine.

How about nanny? Umm... let's put it this way. Although they have the experiences in taking care of children, I find most of them will do little with the child. They will feed the child and put them to sleep or try to lull them to sleep so that they don't have to be so busy themselves. And since they usually have at least 2-3 other kids around, the lesser they will do with each child. Talking about feeding. There's no way you can check what they feed your child. Yah.. spotcheck day they cook meal fit for a king, when you're not around they feed plain porridge. Even my MIL can feed her own grandsons Ikan Kurau citing "cheap, can buy alot" while people like us and some friends I know insists on threadfin, cod etc.. So, you think the nanny will cook quality food? Wait long long..... or you pay more.
Sadly, no nannies (I heard so far) will go the extra mile in talking to your child. So the poor child is not stimulated. [No wonder I'm so stupid! My nanny didn't bother about me.]

Of course easy for me to say since I'm not working (before I get my dear readers cursing at me) but if given the option I'll go playschool. Although..........playschool I also worry about how they take charge of the children. But at least... anything happens I can sue right? Hopefully not at the risk of my child.

Perhaps you can read that I don't trust anyone except myself & my mom. You can see too that I'm involved with my children coz' I'm too kan-cheong over every thing.

Since I'm on this topic. Let me divert the topic a little on how careless some parents can be too! Apart from the feeding child with pillows in stroller, they probably also fed them that way at home. There are some idiot parents who leave their child alone at home! I never leave my child alone at home unless it's a quick dash to throw rubbish in the main chute.
Today, Diksha (Athena's classmate) was locked in by her mother. She was crying "mummy.. open the door." At first I thought she was locked out but she was locked in!! I didn't know how long more she was locked in after that 10mins I went over to their house. Didn't she realise that it's so dangerous. And from what I was told by my SIL, she can climb up/down. Isn't that even more dangerous? I even had an ex-colleague leaving her child at home while she went out to nearby coffeeshop to have her meal. How careless some parents can be? No wonder we read about how some children can drown in pail of water; fall from windows etc.. sometimes even when parents are at home.

Now you know, I'm with the child every single minute of the day (of course KZ will take over for my pee break). Once Aricia don't get too edgy being in mom's place, I'll bring her over while I exercise.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

The most expensive balloon

I paid $2000+ for a helium blown balloon. And my daughter had better not bursts it!


Now.........that explains it right?

Aaron approached me today in gym today, asking if I was interested in continuing my membership with them. And so, I sat down to see what he's offering me coz' I seriously did think if I'm going to sign on with them or to change gym (or probably not join gym at all). The only thing I didn't like about Cali is that they don't have a babysitting option. Otherwise it'll be nice to bring Aricia with me while I workout and I can set off with her gai-gai after that.
I was offered the 2 yrs, 4 yrs and life plan. And I was considering if I should go for life, and kept thinking if it's going to be money wasted once after the children gets older and I'm more busy with them.
So.. in the end I went for the 4 yrs plan (my current membership ends this Dec so I'll continue all the way till Dec 2011). Aaron asked me to collect my free gym bag on Monday. I told him I don't need the gym bag but if he could give me one balloon for my girl. He looked at me and obliged. When I left the place, I quipped "this is the most expensive balloon I bought!" to the laughter of the staffs there.

When I was leaving, Jefferson came by and surprised to see me around at close to 2pm (normally I leave the place at 12 or 12+pm). Tried to ask if I'm interested then to sign on more PT sessions. Wah piang eh..........I just spent money today and 2 weeks ago on his session, asked me if I want to sign up more. I need more financial backing-up siah! I'll see lah! I may even peng-seng before I finish my 12 sessions with him.

Athena asked me "mummy, you go gym today?"
M : Yes. How did you know?
A : Neh... (pointing to picture) got tree. I know....
That girl can spot the logo when I only told her once.

Athena, that ungrateful girl, can even tell me :
A : But mummy.... I don't like blue colour leh. Why you never ask for orange?
M : They gave it to me, so I take it
A : Mummy... I like many balloons leh..
M : This balloon costs mummy alot of money
A : Never mind, I want 3
M : 3? That's $6000+ in total
A : Huh? What's that? Never mind lah. $6 something something lor
*Later in the night*
A : Mummy, next time you go gym. You ask aunty for orange colour balloon. And then another time you ask again.
Wah.... she thinks her mother cheap-skate one huh?

Mad day

Can't believe I was out the whole day!! It's nothing strange but... I felt awkward as it was not planned.

Morning, decided to bring her down to family doctor to get her prescription of Flixotide and Ventolin - coz' her PD is off today and I don't want to spend almost 2-3hours of crazy waiting in the clinic. Anyway, it's good that she's goes to family doctor too! Coz' she can still be in school rather than having to bang my head against the wall.
But I was told.... that Dr Ng is only able to see her around 9.30 - 10am and there was a queue already. Oh no! So, I lazed around mom's place; played with Iggy and then went down to pick Athena from school to see him. By the time we finished everything it was already close to 11am.
I missed my Bodycombat, so contemplating if I should still go down. In the end, went down since I was already in gym wear.

So...obviously, by the time I finished my workout was 1+.

Called home to see if Aricia is doing fine and if KZ can cope all alone with her the whole day today. She's very well-behaved (kena sai!) and can cope.

So, went down to visit mom in SGH and can let Aricia turn mouldy until I return home to bathe her. Left at 5+pm coz' Athena did ask me the day before "mummy, why you so long never let me watch television in school?" I obliged her last night, since I've been bringing her out on the dot since beginning of this year. When I was there, she stood up when she saw me..came out and I noticed they were airing Mr Bean. So asked how long is the show, in the end whipped her back to school for the next 15 mins to complete the show.
(Ps. She likes the Mr Bean animation. Always want to watch it on Ch33. And she'll make the funny dance in the beginning/end of show. Real comical!)

Well, for that 15 mins saw Si Sian's mother and chatted with her. It's amazing how she slimmed down so fast. Why is life so unfair????? Oh! Remember Si Sian's mother wanted to exchange Aricia with her Si Yuan when we were both preggie? I declined but now offered to give it to her.

I confirmed with Mrs Wong on Athena's attendance next Thursday. Very tempted to bring her there coz' she has her friends there but......since she don't allow me to meet them there. And + I thought she will be extremely tired after the whole day in school......She's not going.

A new member in my 3rd family

I was pleasantly surprised to meet another member of my 3rd family. And how is it that I have 3 families?!

Peizhen, a girl originally from Thursday class just joined us, was accompanied by her mother today. Last week her dad brought her in, her mom chatted with me (trying to find out more about Peggy, and also our conversation dragged on to other topics - as all mothers always discuss : children)
Somehow in the class, she did tell me "you look familiar" didn't struck a note to me, until her next sentence came "were you a crew?" Usually, no one will ever say the word "crew", coz to them crew would mean Fastfood restaurants' crew. But somehow all crews will know who the crews are when they meet. (Oh yes, all crew will know and joke about the very 'senior' conscious crew are. The sentence about "when did you join? What's your staff number?") Immediately we both acknowledged and the very 'crew mannerism' came up and we did the self introductions. And funny thing is, I asked her when she resigned coz' I have no inking memory of her at all (or perhaps so...bump into one another), her reply was "I joined in 1987 and resigned in 2000". Er.... I don't mean to ask her when she join coz' she did look older to me so of course she must have joined much much earlier than me - but see what I mean when I say "conscious about seniority?" Anyway we were pleasantly surprised to meet each other in a music class.

I know there are thousands of crew (colleagues) around & we never met everyone, and chances of meeting one in the streets can be quite high too. But.........now what's that word to phrase it??
Eer.. it's like meeting our own family (and we all knew we were a big family) and strangely everyone behaved the same way when we click together. The very SQ upbringing. When I met up some ex-crew in Cait Lin's party last year, somehow the way we speak automatically switched on to the 'very crew-like mode'. Very strange how humans behave if you ask me.

Too much entries about my previous job in SQ in my blog, I guess. It's not because I'm bragging about the job (what's there to brag since you do get the zapping & bitching about inside) but in that family I was happy; it somehow made me want to go back flying (apart from the perks & good experiences from the job) because of the family.

Welcome to the family, Grace!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

FAT ATTACK : Hollywood's Secret Skinny Pill

Every generation of print media, television and motion pictures holds several examples of celebrities who were or are overly susceptible to the pressures to be thin.

Add to that the number of female athletes forced to strip away all body fat, the innumerable multitudes of common people subjected to abuse or scorn based on society’s fickle standards, and individuals suffering from eating disorders and unhealthy compulsions and it’s easy to understand why there’s such a huge demand for powerful weight-loss drugs.

Living Under a Microscope
America is an image-conscious society. Too often we judge and are judged purely by physical criteria, ignoring more important qualities such as character and intelligence in favor of blond hair, fluorescent white smiles, prominent cheekbones and tight skin that doesn’t jiggle, crease or pucker.

Consider the people you see daily around the office, at the gym or in stores. It’s likely that you spend more time commenting on their appearance than discussing their dreams, goals or accomplishments.

You might know details about every outfit your officemate has worn, but have no idea if she’s taking night classes, owns her own home or takes care of elderly parents.

Perhaps, because so many of our relationships are shallow and superficial, more time is spent discussing hairstyles, fashion and skinfolds than worrying about improving our education, environment or understanding current events.

Women who live under the microscope of scrutiny unique to visual media like magazines, television and motion pictures have learned to fear the possibility that a tabloid photographer might catch a snapshot of them with a belly roll as they’re fetching the morning paper off the porch, strutting the red carpet in a designer gown, or waving to their ubiquitous fans – all of which is recorded in high definition to be displayed in the pages of People, the Star or on TV.

Further, talent agents, marketing consultants and casting directors offer fame and fortune to those who are willing to drop 15 pounds to fill a role on a moment’s notice, regardless of current weight.

Fashion designers and super-stylists may be the worst offenders of all by forcing models and clients to fit into size zero (and below) outfits in a perverted and distorted perception of what looks good.

Recently, popular news shows and magazines have been reporting on the revelation of a specific practice that’s been going on for well over a decade among Hollywood’s “A” list.

It’s no surprise that actresses and models use drugs for any purpose— long gone are the days of celebrities being role models.

While the hotel room-trashing days of the ’70s and ’80s are passed, drug use remains as pervasive as ever, with one clear distinction among today’s glamourati – the favored drugs of abuse are no longer street drugs, but prescription drugs.

Even though examples of cocaine or heroin abuse among Hollywood’s elite still make headlines, more than ever, our leading men and ladies are abusing – and in many cases becoming addicted to – prescription medications.

Relative to the anorexic pursuits of celebrity sylphs, there’s a long history of misusing prescription drugs to blunt the appetite, burn fat and boost energy, including the use of thyroid hormones, amphetamines, Redux and fen-phen.

Ever more exotic drugs are entering the off-label formulary as certain medications used to treat seizures, depression, diabetes and attention-deficit are being prescribed in numbers exceeding the known population of patients suffering from the relevant conditions.

This month’s headline grabber is a unique example of a prescription drug intended to treat an unrelated disease being used successfully, but not without consequences, to rapidly cut weight beyond what’s healthy or attractive.

A New Skinny Pill
Clenbuterol is a stimulant drug used in some countries to treat asthma, but is only available (legally) for use in horses in the United States.

Known by a variety of brand names (Ventipulmin, Spiropent, Novegam and Oxyflux) and commonly called “Clen,” clenbuterol is circulating among the image-conscious more rapidly than rumors of a television series’ cancellation.

Though the gossip columns treat clenbuterol use as an emerging practice, it has been used for decades by bodybuilders preparing for a contest, as the drug is a very potent aid in stripping body fat down to paper-thin levels.

Female bodybuilders are particularly fond of the drug as it not only is incredibly effective for fat loss, but also provides increases in strength and muscle size without the risk of masculinizing side effects (such as facial hair and a deepening voice) seen with most anabolic steroids.

Two studies have been published on the strength-enhancing effect of clenbuterol and salbutamol, a similar beta-2 agonist, in healthy patients in an orthopedic clinic.

Clenbuterol’s history and the vast majority of research have been in the animal sciences. It’s well known that adding clenbuterol to the feed of animals will increase meat production; it also appears to increase egg-laying in chickens.

However, clenbuterol is banned from use in animals that are destined for food production, as the high doses given to the animals to promote growth are retained in the meat and many examples of localized epidemics of clenbuterol poisoning from tainted meat have been reported.

Despite the ban, many farmers continue to use the product illegally. The drug is even allegedly used by members of 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, who frequently dope their show cows, sheep, etc. in the pursuit of a blue ribbon.

Thermogenic Effects
Though it’s often wrongly referred to as a steroid or steroid alternative due to its muscle-building properties, clenbuterol is a stimulant drug known as a beta-2 adrenergic agonist (β2), which means that it creates some of the same reactions experienced with adrenalin (the hormone that causes your heart to race when you get scared or excited).

However, as opposed to adrenalin, which creates all sorts of physiologic responses, clenbuterol is much more selective, primarily affecting only one type of adrenalin-sensitive receptor – the β2 receptor.

There are two main classes of adrenergic receptors and several subtypes (categories) within these two groups. The beta (β) receptors are responsible for most of the recognized effects of adrenalin, including increasing the heart rate and burning fat, as well as promoting muscle growth.

The racing heartbeat is a result of β1 stimulation, so by being relatively specific to the β2 receptors, clenbuterol is able to promote fat loss and muscle growth without substantially affecting the heart rate.

Working at these two sites (the fat cell and the muscles) give clenbuterol the ability to combine both thermogenic (burning calories through heat production) and lipolytic (releasing stored body fat) properties in a single pill.

However, the therapeutic window for clenbuterol is narrow, meaning that people who are very sensitive to the drug or use it in excess will experience a rapid, possibly irregular heartbeat and other side effects that may require hospitalization.

Clenbuterol is distributed in two forms: as a pill or a syrup. Most users prefer the pill, as it can be carried and used discretely. Clenbuterol is commonly dosed at 20 micrograms per tablet, which is a very small amount.

In comparison, a caffeine tablet usually contains 200 milligrams, which is 10,000 times greater by weight. This should offer a clear idea of the potency of this drug.

Users who haven’t tried clenbuterol or those who’ve been off the drug for several weeks or months typically start with one tablet as they’re so sensitive to the drug that a higher dosage may cause tremors, insomnia, nausea and a fast heart rate.

Generally, the dose is gradually increased, based on how well the drug is tolerated, to a typical daily dose range or two to four (40-80 micrograms) tablets for women and two to eight (40-160 micrograms) tablets for men.

Dramatic Shifts in Weight
Though users would love to stay on clenbuterol indefinitely, it’s rarely used for more than a month at a time, even among professional weightlifters. It’s believed that the loss of effect is due to the body reducing the number of β2 receptors, making the drug less effective.

Bodybuilders monitor for this transition by taking their temperature. If the clenbuterol is working, body temperature will be higher than normal while off the drug due to the thermogenic effect of the drug.

After a few weeks, normal body temperature or even lower body temperature will be noted and clenbuterol is discontinued at this time. If the dose is increased, little additional benefit is realized and side effects become prominent.

Due to this down-regulating phenomenon, users cycle on and off clenbuterol, perhaps explaining some of the dramatic changes in weight documented by paparazzi.

Many elaborate dosing schemes have been devised to delay this shutdown in effectiveness, such as using the drug in a two days on/two days off cycle, but to little avail.

The body appears to be defending against overstimulation, and a drug holiday of several weeks is usually necessary to recalibrate the system. Bodybuilders have circumvented the downregulation to some degree by combining a number of other drugs with clenbuterol to maximize and prolong its effectiveness.

Considered pioneers by some, human guinea pigs by others, many of the techniques used in muscle building or weight loss originated among weightlifters.

They are known to use thyroid hormone (Cytomel or T3) and growth hormone to accelerate fat loss, as these agents promote fat loss via separate pathways and protect against β2 receptor down-regulation.

A little known drug called ketotifen, an anti-histamine used to treat allergy symptoms, is also combined with clenbuterol as it’s been shown to upregulate β2 receptors.

Notably, Bill Llewellyn, author of the book Anabolics 2006, reports on a published study demonstrating an increase in β2 receptors in humans when ketotifen is used in combination with clenbuterol, as compared to using clenbuterol by itself.

These findings agree with other published studies.

Unfortunately, despite its effectiveness and popularity, clenbuterol isn’t without risk. Use without proper supervision and training can lead to serious short-term side effects and unknown long-term side effects.

Doomsayers are quick to point out (speculatively) that clenbuterol might cause “heart stiffening” due to animal studies that use exaggeratedly high doses. Curiously, it may actually have protective effects for the heart, according to another animal study.

This conflicting data highlights the need for well-designed studies and monitoring of human clenbuterol exposure.

Buyer Beware
Though it’s of some relief to realize clenbuterol is used safely and effectively as a prescription asthma drug in many countries, one of the greatest concerns in the United States is the modes of acquiring clenbuterol.

The black market – including the many Internet sites – offer a formulary of drugs without the benefits of quality assurance and safety that are taken for granted by U.S. consumers.

Illegitimate products sold as clenbuterol may not contain the drug or the dose may not be consistent with the label or from tablet to tablet, greatly increasing the risk of an adverse event.

Given the increase in demand that’s certain to arise from the widely circulated news stories regarding celebrity use of this drug, it’s certain that the number of phony products or incorrectly dosed tablets will increase.

Adulterated street drugs containing clenbuterol have been reported for years, including a recent outbreak of clenbuterol-adulterated heroin that sent at least 26 identified people into the hospital.

The number of heroin users affected by the drug is certainly much higher, as clenbuterol isn’t detected by most drug screens. In addition, heroin addicts may not have sought medical care or been honest about the cause of their symptoms.

Much of the toxicological history of clenbuterol revolves around tainted meat reaching consumers. However, several reports more relevant to the use of the drug for dieting are found in the literature.

Though the risks and dangers of this drug are overstated when it’s used wisely and under proper supervision, it’s clear that abuse of this drug is dangerous— even deadly.

Consider these demonstrative cases of the risks associated with clenbuterol:

-28-year-old female – dangerous heart rhythm and electrolyte imbalance

-17-year-old male bodybuilder – heart attack

-Two male bodybuilders— tremors, weakness, fast heart rate and palpitations due to tainted, black market drugs

-26-year-old male bodybuilder – heart attack

-73-year-old male – tardive dyskinesia (uncontrolled movements) after five years of 20 micrograms twice a day (two pills daily)

-22-year-old female – suicide attempt, massive overdose, severe muscle breakdown

-34-year-old male bodybuilder – muscle breakdown

Clenbuterol is very effective for fat loss. As a prescription drug in Europe, it’s considered safe and effective for long-term use in treating asthma.

Bodybuilders, baseball players, cyclists and other athletes have been using the drug illicitly for decades and its introduction to Hollywood probably occurred in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

Yet, because the tabloid media is pointing an accusatory finger at anorexic-looking actresses – particularly those who have experienced rapid weight fluctuations – and claiming those emaciated figures are the result of clenbuterol use, demand is already escalating as message boards are filling up with queries and posts about how to obtain and use clenbuterol.

Camp Survivors
Sadly, many people will fall prey to unscrupulous black market dealers selling bogus pills.

Even worse, some are destined to suffer from clenbuterol overdose, either purposefully, in their haste to lose weight, or accidentally, due to poor quality control at a black market lab.

Perhaps worst of all is the revelation of how distorted the image of beauty has become in certain circles.

Few people outside the glamour industries would ever wish to become so thin that bones protrude, muscles become wasted, breasts disappear (unless augmented) and the health and function of most organs become compromised.

These women are forcing themselves, or being forced by others, to experience nutritional deprivation similar to the inhumane practices of prisoner-of-war camp survivors.

Clenbuterol is extremely potent; many cases of clenbuterol poisoning or overdose have already been reported, which likely represent a small percentage of the actual number.

It’s a shame that this potent and effective drug is making news as a black market drug, because legislation will likely make it difficult, if not impossible, to investigate the legitimate use of this or similar drugs for fat loss.

For those who’ve already chosen to use the drug, consider carefully your drug source and monitor your health closely.

Perhaps some good may come of these exploitive news stories if it causes certain powers in Hollywood, New York and Paris to change the demands they place on vulnerable actresses and models.

Losing Cellulite

Intent on losing cellulite? From creams to exercise to liposuction, women everywhere are focused on losing cellulite.

Cellulite is usually found on the thighs and buttox and has an undesirable 'orange peel' look. Cellulite is really just fat that dimples because of the way fat cells lie in or between connective tissues in the body.

Regardless of what it is or why it looks that way, you probably just want to lose the cellulite - now!

So what can you do?

Most women don't have the money or inclination to pay for expensive cellulite creams or get liposuction. But there are more natural ways to remove the orange peel look from our thighs.

Here are 3 natural cellulite remedy fixes you may not have heard about that don't cost much and anyone can try.


#1) Coffee Grounds
Rub approximate 1/2 cup of warm brewed coffee grounds into dimpled areas (the heat helps to release the caffeine) and then use plastic wrap to trap the grounds against your skin. Think of this as your own spa caffeine body wrap.

Leave the plastic wrap on for about 10-15 minutes. Since caffeine is a diuretic, it helps shrink skin cells for a tighter look. Effects can last up to 24 hours.


#2) Cranberry Juice
Cranberries are a great source of bioflavonoids, antioxidants that have been proven to help improve circulation (one of the reasons for cellulite is poor circulation). Try drinking one glass of pure cranberry juice a day and you should see a difference in approximately 3 weeks.

(However pure cranberry juice can also be expensive - and strong tasting - so you might want to try watering it down a bit and sipping throughout the day).

This may not be as fast as the coffee grounds method but it will also give you the advantage of more beautiful skin and lots of antioxidant benefits.


#3) Seaweed Baths
Seaweed is an excellent detoxifyer and helps to release trapped toxins that are often stored in the fat cells. A seaweed bath can increase blood and lymph flow to circulation starved areas, break down cellulite, and move the resultant waste out of your body.

Take a sheet of seaweed (you can find seaweed at your local grocery store usually in the health food section), break it up and add it to your bathwater. Soak at least 10 - 15 minutes.

While it may not be as effective, this is still an excellent substitute for those expensive seaweed baths you get at the spa.


So those are three ways to start losing cellulite in a natural way. Remember however that - as cellulite is nothing more than fat - if you want to keep cellulite at bay, you should also follow a low fat diet, drink lots of water and exercise regularly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Losing weight

The most dreadful thing a woman can deal with is her body after childbirth.

And being the vain mother, I wanted to be slim down. And to think my stupid father can tell me (when I'm stroking Iggy) "quickly, you go to have another boy then you stop lah! And Pauline (SIL) can go and have another girl." Frustrated for having to try so hard to lose the weight, he's still suggesting this?!
Actually I do enjoy my pregnancies and children , it's the bringing up of children that makes me want to stop at two. Otherwise I would be a sow and help the country's population.

I've been trying to lose weight the logical and hard way - exercise and watch my diet. I'm losing it very slow but I'm simply IMPATIENT. I want a quick way! Going to gym has become a chore to me, coz' I'm going because I have to not I want to. And not forgetting the zipping from Punggol - Tampines - Orchard - Punggol - busy with Aricia - Punggol - Tampines - Punggol (or whatever classes) - busy with Athena, makes me tired.
Sad to say, it's going to take a long long long long long time to lose the extra flabs coz' there's no such thing as spot reduction at all!

I've been watching what I eat. Chocolates; desserts - can see cannot eat. Quite poor thing leh! I eat carefully and surprisingly my appetite has also gone smaller. Or course I'm not talking about crash diets helping me to lose weight. I can't do a crash diet, coz' I still need the energy to mind the kids and for my gym-ing.
Then................hubby had to give me a big surprise today by buying my 700g L'Opera cake from Carrefour. I finished the whole thing the last time, remember? Wah piang ah..... so many times, I simply looked and walked away when I was in Carrefour but now there's one in my fridge - how to resist?

Regret?

A tongue in cheek SMS between a girlfriend (secondary school classmate) today left me thinking if I'm regretting over my choice of life, now that I can't party/enjoy life coz' I have my children as a full time commitments. Her reply was "who asked you to get married so early?" Although I joked that I didn't want to rot on the shelf, but I guess maybe it was 'the time' God had planned for us to settle down. Just as he had suddenly promoted us to 'parents' after a year of marriage, to perhaps make me grounded. Duh! I was so much closer to God up there and he had to do this to me?? Okay kidding.....

Can we choose the way we want to lead our lives and future? Or do we just let things happen and then say "it's God plan!"

I don't know, but whatever it is - there's no turning back for me. I can't pretend that I never had two beautiful (ahem.. trying to sound endearing) but hair-tearing kids. I can't pretend that I had never met my hubby. Actually I never even paid attention to his presence in the first place- haha!
But perhaps I'll look back on my (OMG! 32 years of life) life and think it had been a wonderful life for me so far.

Minus the childhood which was fun (obviously) and got things my way (yippee!thanks to being the youngest in the family); being enemy with my sister and love my brother; got average grades in an all-girls' convent school. And one American (Dave-plays the saxophone) thought I was really a gal studying to be a nun. blah blah blah..... I think I've somehow fulfilled what I had always wanted.

1) My ambition was to be a flight stewardess when I was young. I did and spent many wonderful years in there with intangible memories and good value instillments in me. Big thanks to SQ!

2) When I was older and more realistic of my ugly looks wanted to be in Public Relations. Although I didn't pursue a degree immediately after school, I went on doing part-time courses in Mass Communications while flying. With my experience plus (maybe) the Adv Dip I had I landed in Corporate Communications. Corp Comms is me, and if I ever find a job in the future - it's going to be Corp Comms again.

3) Own business. Just as I started out on my own and going slow; got preggie second time and then now I've to fully commit to my children. When the time is right, I'll try again. If it doesn't reap, then I might as well give it up. And I really want to do what I'm interested in... but I just dunno how to start. So my dreams of being a BIG BOSS is still unaccomplished.

3) Marry a rich old dying man. Haha! Not the part about old dying man. My hubby is 8 years older than I am, quite a big gap. Rich? He earns alot but..... he's very thrifty choosing to live in HDB flat and drive a small car. So we live our life (not in poorly manner) but not in luxury either. And the rests goes to savings; retirement plans etc.... so that we won't get dumped in the Old Folks Home by our children next time.
Sometimes I do wish to be a rich tai-tai but then tai-tais have their problems too! They get criticized by other jealous tai-tais; their husbands might cheat on them etc.. I think I just want to lead a normal and no-backstabbing life. No one to chauffeur me around, but I'm a chauffeur.
I wonder if my hubby intends to move, where we will move to? Upgrade to condo or landed property? Or worst still! Stay in this flat until we die!!

4) Children. We didn't plan to have children so soon. But perhaps God wanted me to be grounded, and he probably got worried if hubby forgot his promise on our wedding day "no need to fly after one year okay?" - wait?! Did he mean no need to fly; stay at home to shake leg or no need to fly but you better find a ground job?
Missed my job and was like.... "ai yoh. How come pregnant?" To be on the safe side I tendered resignation immediately and bumped around the streets in Singapore. Did pass the interview to go back as flying mother. Was happy like crazy only to be stopped by hubby and received worldly advise from Aunty Pat. Okay, so it's "Really you cannot fly after you have children", so did I regret that I had to stop flying so soon? A little but what can I do? I can't terminate an innocent life! A job can be replaced but not a child!

5) No more fun? Obviously right?! Now that I have two kids, how to have fun? The only fun is playing; teasing them. And then the seriousness sets in - study! Apart from that, I guess I had my fair share of fun - pubbing ; going on roller coaster rides (front seat) a few times on the same ride. Shiok! No more two-some holidaying with mom (we had so much fun!).

6) Can't pursue further in my studies.

Let's just assume that things didn't happen the way it were.
1) I wouldn't even started blogging, and you reading this.
2) Assuming I met my hubby but rejected his proposal, we are either still together or gone our separate ways. a) Now then I start feeling the clock ticking on me b) find another guy c)really going to rot on the shelf
3) Assuming I didn't meet my hubby, I'm either with someone better or worse ( in terms of personality and financial backing). And I probably wouldn't even have taken up Mass Comm.
4) I could have just continued on to JC and my path is different
5) Or I'm either (still) in SQ and being called a 'bitchy Leading Stewardess (or perhaps Chief Stewardess by now)' or choose a ground job in SQ.
6) Never knew how wonderful it is to have children
7) Never knew that post pregnancy body is horrible. Never get to live with my flabs. (thank goodness I don't have stretch marks or ugly veins)

Somehow there's no point in looking back and regret. Most importantly things happened as they meant to be and I guess I did enjoy my life so far - and will continue to do so.

Night Safari

Athena's school is organising a Night Safari for the children and parent/s next Thursday. I'm so tempted to bring her there.
The only thing is, transport is provided to and fro from the school. Means at 11+pm, I'll have to follow the school bus back to Tampines and drive home from there. I dunno if they allow me to proceed to the place myself; wait for them at the entrance and then I'll leave with Athena from Mandai to home.
But I'm also so worried about her getting mozzies coming at her despite the repellent that I put on her exposed skin; patches on her clothings. Mozzies seems to like her, coz her body temperature is high (but we lie to her it's because she don't take vegetables & fruits so mozzies are attracted to her). Also, I will miss Aricia leh....

3rd violin lesson

Correct me if I'm wrong. Does it really take that long to learn the violin? Or is it because it's the method where Ms Low is still trying to make it a fun way to teach the 5 children.Or because I'm simply impatient.

45mins x 3 lessons and they're still on the :
1) Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - singing AAAA AA EEEE EE......only last lesson, plucked one string whenever they sing the letters A & E.
2) Slowly learning which hand is for holding violin / bow. Fingering for 3, 2, 1 on left hand (violin hand).
3) How to do a "rabbit" (bow hand) and slowly progressing to really holding the bow
4) Rest position to bringing the violin to the neck; posture & hold the violin without the hand.
Must admit I'm so proud of Athena, she do very well in all her lessons (and I'm so afraid she can't cope).. only sometimes she complains she's tired. When all the other children are standing, she wants to lean on me. Wondering if it's the wrong timing. But then again, her YJC is at 8.15pm - isn't that even much later?


Okay, I do get questions from friends "what exactly is Suzuki method", honestly speaking I've heard so much but only knew it means teaching in a 'montessori' method. So here is the correct answer :

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SUZUKI VIOLIN VS TRADITIONAL VIOLIN
A Suzuki Violin Teacher's View
by Richard Coff
The Suzuki violin method has come to dominate the way violin is taught in America and throughout much of the world. Mention the Suzuki violin method to music educators, and you will get a variety of responses: "Suzuki violin study produces child geniuses ... Suzuki violin method produces mindless imitators ... Suzuki violin method is the most natural approach to learning the violin ... Suzuki violin study is introduced to children when they are too young to begin study ... With the Suzuki violin method, any child can learn to play violin beautifully ... Suzuki violin students never learn to read." The list goes on. There certainly is no shortage of opinions!
How to make sense of the claims and counter-claims in the Suzuki violin versus traditional violin debate? It's easy to see how music educators and parents could be confused by the many mixed messages. Examination and comparison can help to clarify the issues raised.
VARIABLES THAT AFFECT THE DISCUSSION
A difficulty with comparing Suzuki violin and traditional violin study arises from the fact that in practice, if not in theory, there are different versions of Suzuki violin study. There is even less standardization in generic traditional violin study. Add to this that it is common for teachers to mix elements of Suzuki violin method with the traditional approach, and matters are further complicated.
It is not the intention here to present a detailed in-depth analysis of the variability found within "Suzuki violin" and "traditional violin" schools. Perhaps this would be a good subject for another article. Instead, descriptions and comparisons of some key features of these approaches are outlined to clarify points raised in the "Suzuki violin versus traditional violin" debate. It is hoped that this will help educators and parents to better evaluate the various approaches, practitioners, and claims concerning the different approaches to violin study.
WHEN TO BEGIN FORMAL STUDY
Suzuki Violin method practitioners advocate starting formal violin training by age two or three. The so-called, "Talent Education Movement," created and developed by Suzuki and his colleagues, was based on the notion that the earliest years of a child's life is the best time to begin training children to play violin. While the Suzuki violin method is uniquely suited for training the youngest children, it has proven to be effective in training students of any age.
Traditional violin teachers are rarely willing or qualified to teach the very youngest students. Beginning in the six to ten year old age range is favored by most, if not all, traditional violin teachers.
THE ROLE OF PASSIVE LISTENING AND ABOUT READING MUSIC
Suzuki violin study emphasizes passive modes of learning - watching and listening. Before engaging in formal study, Suzuki violin students are exposed to recordings of the first and subsequent pieces they will play, as well as recordings of great performances from the general classical repertory. This continues when students begin formal study and as they progress. Recordings are played as "background music", for hours each day and at low volume levels. Here, the thinking is that exposure to recordings is similar to the effect of immersion that naturally occurs in the process of primary language acquisition. Successful study is enhanced by prolonged repeated exposure. Suzuki violin students develop an internal model of the music to be studied. They memorize the music and internalize the nuances of pitch, tone, timing, articulation, and dynamics demonstrated in recorded performances.
Suzuki Violin method also uses language acquisition as a model for teaching students to read music. Just as one would never teach young children to read before they have learned to speak, Suzuki violin teachers defer reading until there is a technical mastery of basic skills for playing and musical memory has been developed sufficiently. As a result, students learn to express music with ease and fluency. Suzuki teaches that students can more readily develop technical mastery if the student's attention is not divided by learning to simultaneously read and play.
Traditional violin study favors a type of training that virtually ignores passive learning approaches. While students may be encouraged to listen to recordings of the more advanced repertory played by concert artists or symphony orchestras, beginning students are generally not given the opportunity to listen to recordings of the beginning pieces that they are or will be studying.
Traditional violin teachers often justify the avoidance of making use of recordings of the pieces the beginner plays, suggesting that students will become dependent on learning by rote at the expense of developing the ability to read music, and that learning by rote leads to mechanical imitation. Instead, traditional teachers have students read pieces note by note, when learning and playing pieces.
MASTERCLASS/GROUP LESSONS VS. ONE-ON-ONE LESSONS
Suzuki violin incorporates the passive mode in class. Before Suzuki violin students ever receive the violin, they observe others who are doing what they will eventually do. Even after receiving and working with the violin, they continue to observe others in the masterclass setting and group lessons.
Suzuki violin classroom structure enables students to work alongside with peers who share a common repertory, musical skills, and aspirations. Social interaction and the opportunity to play as a group are important features that make lessons a productive and satisfying. Cooperation is fostered. Great care is taken to avoid competition and its negative effects.
Traditional violin teachers use a classroom structure based on the one-on-one lesson model, using a "hands-on" approach that offers little or no opportunity for observing the lessons of others. Typically, children are given a violin without much, if any, preparatory observation. In this environment, the teacher conveys points by playing musical samples or use verbal explanations.
Traditional violin lessons are modeled on an environment of isolation. When students do interact, competition between individual students is often used as a means to motivate them. Cooperative learning techniques are neglected or ignored. With the one-on-one model, students don't get much opportunity to study and play music with peers.
THE PARENT'S ROLE
Suzuki violin study is "parent intensive". The parent and the teacher become true partners. Parents attend all lessons and attentively note the teacher's instructions. Parents' attendance at class enables them to work closely and skillfully with their children at home. They assume the role of "home- teachers". Parent involvement gives the Suzuki violin student a substantial advantage.
Suzuki violin study requires so much parent involvement that many might feel that the time and dedication needed is excessive. While Suzuki violin study demands a great deal from parents, the payoff is big. Students achieve greater success with the skillful assistance and participation of parents, and the shared activity is an opportunity rather than a burden.
Traditional violin study typically has the parent play a marginal role in their children's training, reminding (or admonishing) them to practice. They may attend or deliver the student to the occasional recital.
Traditional violin lessons are usually conducted without the parent's presence in class. Parents are rarely trained or encouraged to work closely with students at home. Although many parents may feel that this is convenient, by excluding the parent, a student lacks the advantage that a parent's help can bring, and both miss the shared experience that is made possible through Suzuki violin study.
TECHNIQUE
Suzuki violin pedagogy imparts technical skills needed to play the violin in a way that has similarities with the approach used in traditional Asian martial arts. There is meticulous attention to form, detail, and movement. Suzuki formulated a highly original violin technique that is radical and remarkably efficient. He has disseminated these ideas to teachers and students in the form of "teaching points" - specific descriptions, each dealing with a single aspect of technique and recommended exercises for its mastery. In the process of renovating violin study, Suzuki dramatically improved the way the violin is technically mastered.
Traditional violin pedagogy is far from standardized in its approach to violin technique. Some traditional teachers focus on "musical" aspects of playing and are vague or not concerned with form, position, and movement. Others teach laborious, elaborate, and inefficient ways of playing, using standard scales and the traditional etudes. On the whole, technical training in traditional violin pedagogy has been a clumsy affair. Many students with the potential to become fine violinists have been discouraged by the "trial by ordeal" nature of technical study taught in the traditional way.
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Today's lesson is rather interesting, coz' I've always wanted to know where to press on each string to get a different pitch. In guitars there are frets, the fingerboard on violins are plain. And I got my answers today.
The song : Twinkle Twinkle Little Star goes like this

AAAA AA EEEE EE (E1)1111 11[F#] EEEE EE
(A3)3333 33[D] (A2)2222 22[C#] (A1)1111 11[B] AAAA AA
EEEE EE (A3)3333 33[D] (A2)2222 22[C#] (A1)1111 11[B]
EEEE EE (A3)3333 33[D] (A2)2222 22[C#] (A1)1111 11[B]
AAAA AA EEEE EE (E1)1111 11[F#] EEEE EE
(A3)3333 33[D] (A2)2222 22[C#] (A1)1111 11[B] AAAA AA

To help the children, Ms Low put 3 stickers on their fingerboard. And taught them A1, A2, A3, E1, E2, E3.
And then she told us to take note of the A1, A2 etc.. for the song.

Soon, it became what you read in the ()brackets above. I need to be ahead of Athena's progression, so that I can "know more than her" and influence her to play better coz' she will know I'll drill her in her revisions at home. I'm trying to figure out the music notes on what she taught =s to. It is shown in green

Ahem... infact, I've been cheating on my hubby - I am beginning to fall in love with the violin now. Strange, I used to hate the instrument coz' it makes non-soothing sounds (no offence please) but now I am beginning to love the sound. I want to learn more and perhaps try to play? Maybe it's possible, coz' I did figure how to play the guitar by myself. Play in her 1/10 violin? Haha!

I guess I'm just too excited.. and asked Ms Low a stupid question, how you'd figure out the 1, 2, 3 is the A1/2/3 or E1/2/3 string for that matter? Thank goodness only 2 strings are taught at that moment. Perhaps I was still thinking in the traditional theory method, then she said "we'll come to reading notes later" which didn't sound friendly. So, now the question is :- should a child learn the violin first before the actual traditional music lesson starts or vv (eg. in Athena's case on her YJC)?

I felt very awkward everytime hearing the out-of-tune violin when we do her practice at home.And have been tempted to tune her violin at home. Once bitten twice shy, long time ago I kapo want to help my sister tune her acoustic guitar when I wanted to play a song and......*snap* my sister had to re-string her guitar all thanks to me. Mind you, it's not those cheap nylon strings she had to buy. I want to tune but fear that U gotta re-string dunno how many times. It's not the fear of me paying extra money to re-string, but it's just the fear of having the string snap at me. It's just like I have this fear of balloons bursting at me but I still want to try to twist balloons for Athena, and everytime I do so I squim my eyes and in the end - the ballons either don't look like the animals they should be or I am in shock when it bursts on me. Most times.. they bursts.

Then I asked Ms Low how she'd know whether to tune from the pegs or fine tuners. She said (again in a non-friendly manner) "parents better don't tune the violin yourself." She could have said it in a tactful manner really!

Anyway, I googled search and found this :
I have been playing the violin for 4 years.Go to this website and click on the letter of each string, play the same string on your violin.If you violin sounds a little lower or higher than the pitch use you fine tuners (The 4 little metal knobs above the chin rest), if your violin sounds higher than the pitch, twist the strings fine tuner to the left, if it sounds lower than the pitch, twist the strings fine tuner to the right.If your violin is really out of tune you will need to use the pegs.Go to this website.http://www.get-tuned.com/violin_tuner.php
I dunno if I will attempt to tune her violin for her or still have that fear in me

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What's so funny?

Aricia is very fascinated with balloons (now that I know of).

Che-che had some balloons when we were out today, a few sculptured balloons and one normal balloon.
In the night, we took out the balloon stick. We haven't done anything to the balloon when Aricia started kicking her legs and laughed out loud.
She continued laughing and laughing, with her mouth wide open; body arched forward and eyes sparkling with joy. That cute 'want to pinch cheek' look made us love her even more.
Then she wanted to play balloon with her che-che. It's so charming....... to see the both of them so happy.

Are my ears playing tricks on me??

I swear ............ I heard this a couple of times today.

A couple of times Aricia in her 'about to cry' state for me kept saying "ma............ma..........ma....." Not that she was calling me (I wish) but she's learnt to vocalise new words - I think. And I thought vocalizing means 'lying/sitting down in a relaxed state and a baby goes "oo.. ba...ma etc...." and not when she's in a frantic state.' Quite stupid thinking.

I shall listen again later and the next few days. I can't remember when did Athena vocalize more words but I do remember her (Athena) going "ah bu .. ah bu" when she was about 8 months and crawling. Rather cute and I kept saying that she was calling me. Funny it seems, we always want our children to call us sooner. And when they're older and go "mummy, can I have more pocket money?" we wished they hadn't learnt how to call us.
It's always known that the second or last child usually picks things up faster than the first born coz' they can listen and emulate their older siblings. So I shall see if Aricia will pick up words faster than her che-che. And be faster than her che-che in every academic way.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Athena

Have been writing so much about Aricia lately that I kindda neglected on my lao-da.

Today, I'm rather pleased with her performance in her Speech & Drama class. Dominic said that she spoke up alot today, when asked if it was the 'this much' and doing the action; he said "no, she spoke alot & she did very well."
I'm quite surprised coz' she was teary when I brought her in, no thanks to another new gal Janice who suddenly bursts out crying.

A check with Dominic on the book he read for the class :



We were in Compass Point after dropping by in hubby's office, so I tried to borrow the books but don't understand what they meant by "traced". Umm... borrowed other books written by him to see his style of writing.
One other funny book I borrowed is :

The book writes about How To Be a bear; snake; dog etc... and it's really interesting coz' with the book, I get the chance to ask Athena how each animal behaves and eats etc (with her learning things in a different manner).. before I started reading the book. And she was laughing when I mimicked the action of a monkey walking and scratching its armpits. Then she joined me as the little monkey and we were monkeying (ahem scratching.. she then mimicked herself scratching the groin area- sick!) around in the room. Then we mimicked other animals, and this time I asked her to show it to me before we did it together. Hubby thought what had happened in the room coz' animals' sounds were coming from inside.

Another hilarious thing about Athena is that she keeps thinking she's drinking the best milk - coz' we kept complaining that Enfa milks are the most expensive milk. Today, hubby teased her about buying another brand milk formula for her. Only to have her screaming in the supermarket "no!!!!! After I drink this one, I not smart how? I drink this one (started hugging one big can of EnfaKid) I very smart!" Haha! Strangers laughed at her funny remark.

Small baby

Aricia never fails to get attention from strangers; they either say that she's very cute or very small. Ah...........and when I get strangers asking me how old is she and their eyes gave me a clue to what they're thinking, I'd admit "small baby right". Feeling rather embarrassed, they say "yes, but as long as she's healthy it doesn't matter" trying to be tactful.

Frankly, we do agree that she is indeed small. And although we (hubby & myself) keep psycho-ing ourselves that as long as she's healthy and happy - she's a very happy smiley baby. Well..........and 'very very very very very much' (trying to sound like Athena) active too! We simply can't believe that despite that being so normal - she's small! And kept questioning if there's anything wrong with her genes.
I can't help but worry about so many things on Aricia.
1) I worry if she has ADHD (which Athena's teacher told me - no sign of Aricia having it coz' she response very well)
2) I worry if there's something wrong with her spine coz' she simply refuse to sit when we propped her up. Dr Tan checked, said no problem with her at all. Only recently, she's adopting the tripod pose and stay longer when I prop her up, otherwise that mischievous girl will deliberately use her buttocks to move herself forward and she'll fall flat on her back; then she starts smiling / laughing. Infact, I think she found it fun & amusing herself when she kept doing it a couple of times every day - perhaps she knew she was trying to test my patience.
3) Now hubby worry if there's something wrong with her genes. Oh shit! Is she going to be short like mummy??? Argh! I hope not! Then again her length did shot up from 3 %tile to 50 %tile. It's only her weight that we worry about. Goash! Slightly more than a 5kg rice.

We tried to increase her milk but she simply won't drink much. Infact, I noticed both my gals don't drink much milk. OMG! Can you believe Ignatius is drinking 120ml or sometimes 150ml every 3 hours?? I think that's over-feeding and making his stomach big.

Master Tan did say in his life analysis of Aricia that she has good figure. I don't know what he was hinting to us, that she's probably a slim slender girl as compared to the pui pui Athena??

Research have shown that babies / young children should have sufficient rest. When they're sleeping, they are developing brain cells and they grow faster / bigger. Aricia don't sleep much, she can sleep for one hour and then up for play. (she loves to play). So now, I wonder if her size is really inter-linked??