The Way We Were Raised

We were raised very differently, my spouse and I. He was brought up in a strict manner. His parents were strict on food, strict on toys, strict on studies. As for me, mom died when I was 10. Dad was a policeman and he had 5 of us to look after in addition to making sure we had enough money for our education etc. I don’t think he had very much time to ponder on how we were being raised. So I was left pretty much to myself.

It is because of this difference in the way that we were raised that constantly comes up between us when we are trying to raise our own kids. It is not that we want it that way but it is hard to change our values and the way we were brought up ourselves. For example, the spouse believes in pushing the kids in their studies. He wants them to have the values of doing the best that they can. He wants them to learn that they have to work hard for what they want. Nothing wrong with that. These are good values to have.

However, it causes challenges for me. I want the kids to have time to be kids. To play and be happy. So, I the primary caregiver since I am at home with them most of the time, am not meeting up to his standards of working hard. For instance, during the school holidays he wants me to sit down and do revision with the kids. His reasoning is I should do so otherwise they will have a hard time when school starts. (and this is true).  If we don’t take the opportunity to do some work during the holidays, quite often we have a hard time catching up in school during school days but I reasoned that if we work them hard during the holidays too, then when will they ever have a holiday? When will they ever get time to play?

Of course the spouse being the family man that he is tries to make sure they have time to play as well. He makes time for them, takes them to the movies, out to the mall etc. Still, I feel a little bit stressed and worked up every time he asks me “So, did you all do some work today?” and the pressure to get good results is very high during exam periods. Recently, my girl did not do very well for her essay papers in Chinese and Malay. I told him that she had worked very hard and his “You must not only work hard but work smart” resonates in my ears and in my heart.

I am not a very good teacher. I feel so overwhelmed looking at all the things that they don’t know and I don’t know where to start. We seem to go around in circles. It is really hard trying to teach the kids 3 languages plus Maths and Science. The spouse teaches the kids Maths and Science so that helps but getting them to be good in 3 languages? That’s really really tough. Sigh. This post was tough to write too. I don’t know how to put my thoughts into words the way I usually am able to. I’m rambling. Its all wrong. 🙁

Daiso burned my pocket

Sticky Note

We went to Daiso at The Curve yesterday to get my girl a RM5 digital watch to replace her broken one and ended up RM60 poorer with all sorts and manners of knick knacks, decorative items, stationery, origami paper etc. Oops!

We were in a hurry. Otherwise, the hole in our pockets would have been bigger. The kids got away with these batch of cute sticky notes. Recently, they’ve started sticking sticky notes all over their tables and books to remind them of things to do.

Too bad I was pressed for time or perhaps it’s a good thing I was in a hurry, otherwise, I would be very much poorer as I didn’t get to explore the shop in detail leaving out the kitchenware, women’s accessories etc. I love Daiso.

Thean Hou Gong Temple

This year for Chinese New Year we visited the Thean Hou Gong Temple twice. I never know how to spell the Thean Hou Gong temple. I think where pinyin is concerned it should read Tian Hou Gong temple meaning The Heavenly Queen’s Palace. However, I’ve often seen it spelled as Thean Hou Gong (in fact the sign at the bottom of the hill leading to the temple says “Thean Hou Temple”) and sometimes Then Hou Gong or Thien Hou Kong. I guess it also depends on whether you are pronouncing it in Cantonese or Mandarin. Some would add a “Miu” at the back making it Thean Hou Gong Miu. Miu stands for temple.

Anyway, I digress. We visited it twice this year because we wanted to see the Laser Light Show at the Thean Hou Gong temple. Well, actually we visited it three times because on the night that we went for the light show, we waited for an hour only to be told that the lights were not working and for safety reasons they will cancel the night show for that evening. Just our luck. The light show was supposed to be on every hour during Chinese New Year starting from 8pm and ending at 11pm. So we went back the next night. Here are some photos we took of our outing at the Thean Hou Gong Temple.

Here is a picture of the entrance of the Thean Hou Gong Temple in the day and night. You’ll have to click on the picture to get a better view. It’s so small here. 🙁

Thean Hou Gong Temple Entrance

I do so love looking at the lanterns at the Thean Hou Gong Temple. It’s so pretty whether it is day or night but it is more enchanting and magical at night.

In the daytime at the Thean Hou Gong temple during Chinese New Year, it is very hot but the atmosphere is great with lion dances and people reaching out for the lions to either give angpows or grab mandarin oranges or “kum” (The orange word for oranges sounds like “gold”) for good luck.

On a clear day, you can have a good view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline from the Thean Hou Temple.

During the night at the Thean Hou Gong temple, it is cooler and more colorful with lights and Chinese New Year music to put everyone in the mood. There will be free entertainment and shows during the day and night too. Sometimes there are acrobatic shows, sometimes singing and dancing.

Finally, many do not know that at the back of the Thean Hou Gong temple, there is a lovely garden with plenty of tortoises.

Some facts of the Thean Hou Gong temple:

  1. There is a wedding registrar or marriage registration office there. That is where we got married. 🙂
  2. Here is the address of the Thean Hou Gong Temple – Thean Hou Temple, 65 Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
  3. More facts about the Thean Hou Temple can be found here
  4. Here is a map to the Thean Hou Gong Temple


View Larger Map

Chinese New Year Family Routine and Tradition

Chinese New Year FlowersThere are traditions and there are family routines. Tradition may be brought down from generation to generation but I believe that family routines can be created by your family and then enjoyed from year to year.

The kids are older now and our Chinese New Year routine has been established. Before, when they were younger, we did not have any routine but we thought that it would be very nice to have a family routine that they can look forward to each year. Now they know it well and look forward to …

  1. Shopping for Chinese New Year Clothes. We limit our shopping to once a year only (unless necessary), then we go all out and have a shopping spree for Chinese New Year and everyone looks forward to having new clothes. We figured out that if you buy new clothes throughout the year, Chinese New Year would not feel any different.
  2. Chinese New Year Cookies. Mummy does not bake so she will order the same cookies from the same place and when she brings them home the kids gape and go ooh and ahhh when they see the familiar cookies that they only get to eat once in a year. Then the kids will say “Please, please mummy can we eat them now?” and bad mommy will say “No, you will have to wait till Chinese New Year.”
  3. Haircuts. The whole family goes to the salon and  have a haircut together. It kind of breaks the bank a little but its nice to go together. On normal days, sometimes mummy gives them home haircuts but for Chinese New Year, its off to the salon we go.
  4. Chinese New Year Decorations. Now that the kids are older, they can help out. They love clipping, stringing and making homemade angpow decorations and I love listening to them work as a team in deciding where to hang each decoration. Usually, I will ask their opinion and let them decide so they can really get in the mood and contribute.
  5. Spring Cleaning for Chinese New Year. Mummy gets to do most of it of course but on the eve of Chinese New Year, the kids will be roped in to wash the car and the porch. How they love the water and soap splashing fun.
  6. Reunion Dinner. Usually its just the four of us because parents in law are no longer with us but we still cook up a storm anyway and everyone dons new pyjamas after dinner. Then we pack money into the red packets that will be given out as angpows and mummy and daughter will do their nails. Then mummy and daddy will give the kids their angpow and they will put it under their pillow to sleep on. Everyone stays up late and at midnight we will turn on every light in the house to welcome New Year.
  7. First Day of Chinese New Year. Everyone gets up bright and early and have mee suah (vermicelli) soup then put on their brand new clothes and shoes. Then we go to the temple to watch the lion dances. At the temple, we’ll make it a point to buy the kids some inflatable helium balloons which we will let go and watch it fly in the sky later in the day. (This is not a Chinese New Year tradition, just our  very own special routine.) After that we may go visiting or just stay home to relax and pack for the next day’s journey.
  8. Balik Kampung. We will usually go back to mummy’s home town from the 2nd to the 4th day of Chinese New Year. We visit mummy’s aunties and see more lion dances, we play by the beach, go to more temples, pay respects to mummy’s mummy, play fireworks by the sea and send lighted lanterns into the sky.
  9. Middle of Chinese New Year. Sometimes daddy invites his friends over and mummy cooks for them and the kids get to play host and hostess to other kids.
  10. Chap Goh Meh. On the 15th day of Chinese New Year or the last day of Chinese New Year, its time to meet mummy’s brothers and sisters to have a gathering or dinner and exchange angpows with all the nephews and nieces.

That’s it. We do this every year to create a routine and tradition for the kids so that they look forward to Chinese New Year and in doing so, we enjoy our Chinese New Year very much too.

Kids, when you are grown and have your own families, we hope that you will remember fondly and continue with this routine and tradition that you have grown up with.

KSSR vs. KBSR Confusion when buying workbooks

KSSR vs KBSR

This year, 2012, I have a child in Std 2 doing the KSSR syllabus and a Std 4 child doing the KBSR syllabus.

So what is KSSR? What does KSSR stand for? I am sure that most parents in Malaysia know that kids start the new KSSR syllabus in 2012 but just what does KSSR stand for? Now, that’s simple. KSSR stands for Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah.

What about the older KBSR then? What does KBSR stand for? Now, that one is easy too. KBSR stands for Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah.

Now that we’ve got the easy part of the way, deriving the abbreviation for KSSR and KBSR, lets talk about the hard part.

The hard part is faced by parents whose children are doing the new KSSR new syllabus. Parents whose kids are doing the KBSR syllabus can skip this post. Let me give you an example.

I have children doing both the syllabus. My standard 2 child cannot recycle or reuse his sister’s books because the syllabus has changed for almost every subject, English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Maths and Science. For example in Math, he is now taught Fractions in Std 1 and Fractions and Decimals in Std 2. Previously, it was not taught till Std 3. So if you buy the old KBSR workbooks you would have missed out two whole chapters. This is only an example of one confusion that can arise.

Worse still, the book publishers and printers are in a bind. How do they get rid of their old KBSR stocks? What’s happening is, when I went to the bookshops, I had trouble finding Std 2 workbooks or rather very few Std 2 KSSR workbooks. Std 1 is ok since there is new print for this year but not Std 2. For almost every publisher, I could find Std 1 then Std 3, 4, 5,6  but not Std 2. I had trouble finding KSSR books for Std 2, probably they will be available later on.

Then there are unscrupulous publishers who change the name of the cover to KSSR! Well, at least that is what I think because I had bought a KSSR book but when I looked inside the syllabus was the same as the old one. So before you go out to buy any workbooks for your child, make sure you look at his textbook to know his syllabus first, then make sure it matches those of the workbooks. Don’t buy blindly. Do some homework first.

Here is my tips for parents when buying primary school workbooks:

  1. Std 1 and Std 2 parents buy books with KSSR on the cover
  2. However, make sure you check your child’s textbook before buying. Make sure that the syllabus in the workbook matches the syllabus in the textbook
  3. You will need to buy KSSR for the 5 core subjects, i.e. the 3 languages English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, plus Maths and Science
  4. However, you may get KBSR books for the paper 2 for English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. Paper 2 meaning the Writing Practise Paper as this do not change very much. (Paper 1 is Comprehension or Pemahaman, Paper 2 is Writing or Penulisan) Note: In Std 1 and 2, there is no Paper 2 test for English, however workbooks are available for practise. There is Paper 2 test for Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Cina or Chinese though)
  5. If your child is in Chinese School, go to the SJKC section to pick books. What does SJKC stand for? (SJKC stands for Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina). As for those in National Schools, buy your workbooks from the SJK section (SJK stands for Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan). They syllabus for both are different.

So many acronyms and abbreviations to learn. Parenting is hard enough without all this headache.

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