Saturday, January 14, 2017

fairy with bat wings

Shee Yun has marching at school every day now. It is in preparation for their sports day. Michelle used to do something similar during her secondary school days. There was once she fainted due to the heat. Shee Yun has not fainted yet, but she has been getting sun burnt. She is often tired after school, and sometimes she goes to bed as early as 8pm. I think it's good that she is getting some physical exercise. She seems to be enjoying schooling at Wesley. I think it is all very refreshing to her. She probably also likes that lessons are taught in English. Homework is less than at Naam Kheung. Sometimes she has no homework.

Shee Yun's ex-classmates have been bugging Chen Rui at school, keen to find out how Shee Yun is doing at her new school. Sometimes Chen Rui tries to avoid them.

Shee Yun will be taking Chinese classes. In the first week, Michelle had asked her about it, and she said she didn't want to take Chinese. Michelle allowed her to decide. After Michelle told me, I felt uncomfortable about it. I know the standard of Chinese being taught at international schools is usually lower than the standard at national schools. The progress of the syllabus is about half, i.e. content being taught at Form 1 covers only half of the Form 1 content at national schools. So by Form 5, the standard is only at about first half of Form 3 at national schools. Still, I prefer Shee Yun continues to take Chinese. We are Chinese and we should not lose this part of our identity and heritage. It is not just the practicality and usefulness of knowing Chinese. It is also the values, the culture and the way of thinking that come with knowing Chinese and learning Chinese. Last year, before we agreed to let Shee Yun try Wesley, she had agreed to continue her Chinese learning. So I spoke to her. She did remember agreeing to it, and she agreed to take Chinese classes. That was a relief to me. It is still a little unbelievable to me that despite both Michelle and I being so Chinese, the children are very westernised. Michelle and I used to be active in Chinese Language Societies, and in my case even up to university days. Chinese lessons are not included in the basic school fees. We have to pay extra for it.

Now Shee Yun is going to school by herself. I still walk her to the station in the morning, because the route is usually deserted so early in the morning. I bid her goodbye at the LRT station. There will always be some people at the station and on the train, and from the destination station to school there are always other fellow students. Since I am getting up so early every day, I make it a routine to do my 45-minute stair walking after sending Shee Yun off. This will help me maintain regular exercise.

Last weekend we helped Christina's (Chee Ying) family move house. Chee Chee was sad at first because she felt her elder sister has close friends, but she doesn't have any. Poor girl. Kok Man says she is unlike Christina and she doesn't proactively mix with other children. Thankfully she joined the older girls later and cheered up. In the afternoon when she and Christina came to our home (so that their parents can continue the work at the new house without worrying about them), the moment she stepped into Shee Yun and Chen Rui's room she bluntly declared how messy the room was. Indeed Shee Yun and Chen Rui are rather hopeless in keeping their room tidy.

At the end of the day, after Christina and Chee Chee had left, they turned back, because Chee Chee said she wanted to give a Pokemon doll to Chen Rui. I was surprised. I guess she likes Chen Rui. Chen Rui does like Pokemon a lot.

I started a new game of Fiasco with the children, this time using the scenario that I created, based on a world similar to Harry Potter's. Wizards and witches live among humans, unknown to mankind in general. Many of the locations I use in the scenario are real-life places I found using Google Maps, so before we played I showed these locations to the girls, e.g. Dartmoor National Park and Tavistock town in England. I showed them the pyramids of Giza and also photos that Michelle and I took when we visited Egypt. We used Google Maps to look up the places in London where Michelle used to stay, and also places in Melbourne where I used to stayed. We then looked up our homes in KL, in KK, and also Michelle's parents' home in KK. We spent so much time playing with Google Maps that we ended up not writing much that day. Our Fiasco is becoming an on-and-off thing, broken up into many small sessions. It is originally meant to be played in a single session of about 2 to 3 hours.

After writing a few paragraphs of Fiasco, we played Love Letter instead. It was great fun.

This is my character, Kevin Smith, in our new Fiasco game, a top student.

This is Shee Yun's character, Novelia Salway, a mischievous student. I think she came up with this name by using an online name generator. She said she couldn't draw, so I drew her character for her. Her requirements were blond and green eyes. I decided the rest for her.

This is Chen Rui's character, Fiona Prelich, the school caretaker, who is also the mother of Kevin Smith, but the relationship is unknown to most people at school. So Chen Rui is my mom. Even before we started playing she had already decided what kind of character she wanted to be. She wanted to be a fairy with bat wings. So she forced this onto the character we created during game setup. Now she is supposed to be some guardian secretly protecting the Dartmoor Wizarding School.

I keep teasing her "butt wings, butt wings".

Saturday, January 07, 2017


On New Year's Eve Chen Rui and I were in KK, while Shee Yun and Michelle were in KL. Chen Rui asked me whether she could stay up late for the countdown. She told me that Shee Yun and her had done it before, without Michelle and I knowing. I said OK, and she did manage to stay awake till midnight. I was wondering whether she would fall asleep before midnight. I guess playing Minecraft kept her awake.

In KK I noticed that Chen Rui saves the best for last when she eats. She can completely not touch the 春卷, or meatball, and only start eating them after she finishes her rice and other vegetables. I remember I used to do this too.

31 Dec 2016. Chen Rui has a huge collection of hajimat, and she likes to use one of them as a bag for the rest of them.

I had a gout attack. It started on New Year's Eve. The last gout attack before this was in Nov 2012. I stopped taking my gout medication in May 2013, when I tried the buah gorek recommended by Edward. The buah gorek didn't lower my uric acid, but for more than 3.5 years I didn't have any gout attack. It may be because I have been doing some exercise. I try to avoid foods that may cause high uric acid, but not completely. In recent years I do eat pan mee (despite not eating the ikan bilis directly, I think the soup does have some ikan bilis essence), peanuts and peanut butter, just not heavily. I know in the last few weeks in December I have not been eating healthily or exercising much. The gout attack was a little depressing. I hope it is not a return to the regular attacks I had in 2011 and 2012. If this happens the doctor will surely ask me to take regular medication, which I want to avoid.

For this attack, I took colchicine for about two days. I initially mistook the allopurinol pills as colchicine. Allopurinol is meant for daily consumption, and colchicine for gout attacks. The doctor had instructed that in the event of an attack I take colchicine till I start having diarrhea, and once the diarrhea comes I should stop the medication immediately. I took my first dose of colchicine at 5pm on Day 2 of the attack, and by 7pm I started having mild diarrhea. It seemed too easy, so I decided to continue taking colchicine. I had more diarrhea the next day, and I only stopped the medication in the afternoon that day (Day 3).

Thankfully my gout attacks are not severe. Walking hurts, but not too much. I limp a little when I take the stairs, but overall I function normally. I need to return to my previous exercise routine of walking the stairs 4 - 5 times per day. I think staying healthy in general will help. I probably should be more strict about eating high uric acid foods now. The doctor has been urging me to do this, but I have been slack about it since I had not had any attack for so long.

This year the children are going to different schools. Shee Yun is in secondary school now. This week I have been accompanying her to school in the morning, taking the LRT. We leave the house before daybreak. There are always some fellow students on the train. There are also students from other schools. The path from home to the station is quiet and deserted, and may be dangerous. The train is not yet crowded, but the seats are almost full, so there is a decent number of passengers. The walk from the station to school is short, and there are always a few other students taking the same route. So Shee Yun may soon be taking the train by herself. I will likely just accompany her to the station in the morning, and will not be making the round trip there and back, which takes almost 1.5 hours. Waking up early will be good for me too - I can use this to enforce the routine of exercising after sending her to the station.

When we reach the station near Shee Yun's school, she doesn't want me to help her carry her bags. She wants to carry them herself, even when they are quite heavy. There was one particular day when she had to carry her normal backpack plus another bag of books. She insisted that she carried them herself, even though I knew it was quite heavy for her. She walked rather slowly when we were walking from home to the station, and gladly accepted my offer when I said I'd carry the second bag for her. When we reached the destination station, she took over. She felt embarrassed about not carrying her own bags.

3 Jan 2017. Shee Yun on the LRT en route to school.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

sleeping alone

Chen Rui is still afraid of sleeping alone. She is afraid of ghosts and monsters. Michelle and Shee Yun have returned to KL earlier, because Shee Yun has orientation. Chen Rui and I stay a few days more in KK. Initially Chen Rui said she didn't want to sleep alone and wanted to sleep in my room, but I said she was to sleep in her (well, Mei's) room, and the most I would do was to accompany her for 15 minutes or so while she fell asleep. This has gone on for two nights. Yesterday we had a conversation about it. She kept telling me she was afraid. She asked what if there was a ghost right there in the room, there, or there, or here, pointing at specific places in the room. I said ghosts are dead people who died unhappily and they stayed on in this world because they wanted revenge. So as long as she has not done anything bad to anyone, she need not worry. Also I said if we are a happy family, we will create positive energy in our home, and ghosts won't come. That didn't seem to help much. She was still afraid. I had to stay in the room for about half an hour, until she finally fell asleep.

Chen Rui is now multitasking with my iPad. She plays Minecraft (or other games) on my iPad (which is faster and more stable than hers), and watches Youtube on her iPad. Sometimes she lets the Youtube video run while she plays the game. Sometimes she pauses the game to pay attention to the video. I convinced her to try Clash Royale. She played through the 7 tutorial matches, and also played a few real matches. However she probably finds it stressful, because it is a player vs player competitive game. That doesn't stop her from seeking out and watching some videos on Clash Royale and Clash of Clans, a game which has the same characters.

29 Dec 2016. Chen Rui had a haircut in KK.

Ba had a haircut too. Three of us went together. Only I didn't have a haircut.

When Michelle and I came back to KK, we brought Chen Rui her birthday present. It was a small sketchbook, A5 sized, with completely blank pages of good paper. She likes drawing and this type of sketchbook is convenient for her. We bought this in KL when we went to watch Star Wars: Rogue One. One day, Chen Rui couldn't find the sketchbook. She became desperate and cried. I guess she does like it a lot. Eventually Michelle found it for her. It was hidden under another book or an iPad.

Ba was curious about Chen Rui's head size and did a measurement. He found that they both have the same head size!

When Michelle was in KK, she found that Sabahans are friendlier than people in KL. They are more helpful. When we renewed our passports, the officers were nice, very unlike the one Michelle's friend encountered in KL. Maybe it's partly because we are on holidays, so we are in high spirits and pleasant moods ourselves, which will affect the interactions we have with people we meet.

Now that Michelle and Shee Yun are back in KL, Michelle offered Shee Yun to sleep together in the master bedroom. Chen Rui would have accepted without a second thought, but Shee Yun declined, saying she missed her own bed. So she would rather sleep alone than not sleep in her own bed.

31 Dec 2016. Shee Yun in her new school uniform.

Her class will be 7 Gamma. There was an orientation event this morning.

card designs 2016

The inspiration for the designs for 2016 was doodles, simple repeating patterns that one draws idly which can become quite a beautiful canvas. I also created some simple characters, and used them to tell a story, a moral or simply an observation.

There are some of the pictures which served as my inspiration.

This is for Chinese New Year. No doodle in this drawing.

These are the six designs for birthday cards.

This is for Christmas.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Legend of the Golden Panda

Finally Shee Yun, Chen Rui and I are done with the Fiasco game. It took us about a month to complete it. I first learned to play this role-playing game in January. It is meant to be played within one session of 3 hours or so. However I had planned this to be a holiday homework for the children, so we played mostly remotely, with them in KK and me in KL. Instead of sitting at a table to compose the story verbally, we wrote the story in a Google Doc. We communicated using Skype and Whatsapp. My objectives in getting the children to play this are twofold. I want them to practise their touch typing, and the creative process will be a good experience for them too.

The children aren't all that enthusiastic. Sometimes they find it funny, but if I don't make them sit down and do it, they wouldn't do it. They would be away on their iPads, or maybe reading in the case of Shee Yun.

Touch typing is a useful skill now, but I wonder whether it will become obsolete in the future. The dictation feature on the iPhone works very well. Maybe in future the keyboard will become obsolete.

Here is the story we have written - The Legend of the Golden Panda. I have not edited it much so it still contains errors. Some parts of the story will feel disjointed or illogical. This is our first jointly written story.

The children attended a Christmas party at the temple which Michelle's mum goes to.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

putting on weight

It seems both the children have put on some weight recently. I guess that's a good thing. They are eating well. They are enjoying their school holiday. They have been alternating between staying at Michelle's parents' home and Ba and Ma's home. Sometimes Yung En and Yung Ken comes to stay overnight.

Shee Yun seems to have learned to be more responsible during the school holidays. She does remember to practise piano, and she also reminds Chen Rui to do so. I'm not exactly sure this is a new trait or just an extension of her sense of responsibility being a school prefect. Sometimes Chen Rui ignores her, and she gets frustrated and cries (or at least she was upset). Poor girl. And how different they are. Sometimes Chen Rui doesn't really care what others tell her to do when she is absorbed in what she is doing. Just a few days ago both Shee Yun and Ma told her to take her shower, reminding her many times. She was playing with the iPad and kept delaying. Later on when Yung En and Yung Ken were leaving, she wanted to go with them. Ma said she was not allowed to, because she hadn't taken her shower. Baru kau tau!

Chen Rui's progress on the Fiasco story has stalled since 9 Dec, which is more than two weeks ago. I have been reminding her on and off, and I think Shee Yun too (I asked her to help me remind Chen Rui). Chen Rui said she couldn't think of how to continue the story. I did create a difficult situation for her character, but I think the bigger reason she didn't continue was she simply tried to avoid doing it because she wanted to play. I am going to sit down with them to continue the story together. And hopefully next we will move on to another story which I am going to design for them. I told Shee Yun my idea and she seemed to be interested.

Michelle's father often sent us photos of the children when we were still in KL, and most of the time the photos were taken during meal time.

They went to watch Moana, which I hear is a good one. Michelle's father probably found it boring because he's not into cartoons or animation movies. Shee Yun is reading again.

Chen Rui's birthday celebration was remotely coordinated by Michelle. She assigned tasks to our elders in KK - her mum to cook, Ma to buy the cake, and her uncle (姨丈) to make 汤圆. Shee Yun likes the 汤圆.

This is a type of Pokemon. Chen Rui requested for it. I think she provided the image to the cake shop too.

Chen Rui didn't want to damage the Pokemon drawing and the text, so the cake was cut this way. All this was kept in the fridge, waiting for Michelle and I to be back in KK. We had it for breakfast today. Previously we had asked them to finish the cake and not wait for us, since it was almost a one week wait. They decided to keep the cake for us anyway. It was still good. Not spoilt.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

PK, Broga Hills

PK is an Indian movie. It was on my to-do list of movies to watch, but I don't remember how it got there and for how long it had been there. Maybe it was recommended by Wan Kong Yew. I watched it, and enjoyed it greatly. It is a comedy, and it is very funny. It reflects human nature and human society. It has some sobering messages which are quite meaningful. Some parts are quite touching too. It does come with some singing and dancing, which is mandatory in Indian movies.

Michelle and I watched Rogue One, the latest Star Wars movie. That was fun too. Some aspects are quite expected, but some are a little unexpected, which I think is good. It was not as big a pleasant surprise as PK, because I had no basis for expectations at all in the case of PK.

Over the long weekend I went on a hill hiking trip to Broga Hills with some colleagues. We were a party of eleven. Nine including me were colleagues and two were colleagues' friends. We almost cancelled it, because it started raining after we met up around 6am. We went for breakfast, hoping to wait the rain out. By the time we were done, the rain had turned to a light drizzle. We decided to go for a shorter hike which had paved roads. However when we passed by the entrance to the Broga Hills trail, we saw many people going for the hike. So at the last minute we changed our minds again to go for the proper hike. In hindsight it was probably a bad idea. The trail was wet and slippery. Quite a few of us slipped and fell. One colleague Chui fell and dislocated his shoulder. But it was a good hike. It took us about three hours. My right ankle hurt a little by the time we were coming down, even though I had brought a hiking stick upon Michelle's urging. Thankfully the pain went away soon. The next day I did have muscle sore all over my body, and on the upper part of my right arm (due to using the walking stick), but those went away soon too.

It was a nice hike. The weather was cool, since it was right after rain. There was a soothing breeze. The path was slippery so we had to be careful. There were multiple paths to the peak, and unfortunately for us we had picked one (not intentionally of course) which had a difficult section. One of us, Eva, could not make it. She made it past one difficult slope, but could not manage the next more difficult one. Originally she had planned to just wait for us to return from the top, but when another group passed by that area, she joined them and returned to the starting point earlier. Chui's fall shocked us all. None of us knew how to handle a dislocation. Thankfully we managed to get back down without him suffering any other fall. We immediately sent him to the Kajang Hospital. It was a long wait. I had thought it would be quick. We waited from around 11:30am till around 1:30pm. Eventually we decided to go for lunch and then come back to fetch him. Lunch took a long time too. The shop was small and it was full. The food was good, but the wait was long. When we returned to the hospital, we were surprised to find that the nurses were sending Chui to the operating theatre. The doctor wanted to give him general anesthetic in order to fix his shoulder. They tried to do it while he was awake but I guess they couldn't. So we decided we would go home first, and then take turns to come back to look after him. I took first shift. I went home to shower, then packed some clothes for Chui, then went to the hospital again. He was awake soon after the procedure, but he was nauseous. He had to stay one night at the hospital. I left around 8:30pm after making sure he was OK and settled. I had thought I might be able to send him home, because I had thought he could be discharged on the same day. He could only be discharged the next day. His brother took care of him. The Broga Hill trip was originally a morning event, but it had turned out to be a full day event for me.