Welcome Me Back

Hi, maybe some of you must have noticed that I have been out of action (writing) for almost a week. 

That’s because I’ve left my country and now I’m in…..

yup – New York. Amazing place. Different culture. Neck-breaking tall buildings. 

I’ll be here for a while and have been busy apartment hunting. I’ll get back to writing as soon as I can. 

Rare Combination

When I was in Secondary school through University, one of my motivations to study or write is colored pens and highlighters – green, purple, pink, orange, blue etc. And until now, when I teach, I still love colored pens and I have different types and brands of colored pens.


When I had children of my own, I used colored pens, highlighters and markers to encourage them to study, write and draw, since they were very young.  It worked.  It made them sit down for a good 1-1.5 hours – enough time for me to read to them, make them write and draw or color. Encouraging kids to do seat work for such duration is important to build up their discipline of being able to sit in their seats in school.  Nowadays, many students (even middle and high school) cannot sit in their seats for longer than 30 minutes.  They get restless and fidget a lot.  So it’s up to the teacher to change their strategies in class so as not to lose their attention.  Which is actually hard work for the teachers.

In class, I device a rewarding scheme – colored pens, markers and highlighters for good behavior, top in quizzes, full marks for spelling and many other things.  I also encourage my students to use different colored pens (except red) in their graphic organizers, or when making summaries or when copying notes, to delineate the important points from the non-important ones.  As far as I know, students enjoy doing it and studying from the colored notes is much better than facing lots of black, printed texts on pages of paper.

Besides colored pens, I love multicolored beads and gems – whether fake or real.


Thus, it’s a rare opportunity that I can get both all in one.  I’ll call it a rare combination like these.

They are just too lovely and I love them to pieces.


The Problem with Youth

The problem with youth is that they don’t want to learn from their lessons.  Some people call it tenacity.  I call it stubbornness.  Tenacity means very determined to do something or not easily stopped or pulled apart; firm and strong (Merriem Webster definition).  I tend to relate tenacity to something good, like pursuing a degree, a medal, a win in a competition, a dream.  These pursuits require tenacity, determination, hard work and perseverance – continue and continue and not to give up.

But if it is doing something bad, it’s pure stubbornness, not tenacity. For example failure in exam due to not studying or working hard enough, continuing to smoke despite knowing that it can kill, ignoring cleanliness despite having had a bad diarrhea due to food contamination or poisoning, eating unhealthily even though knowing that it could lead to tons of illnesses and side effects.

That’s the big problem with youth. They are rash, impulsive, immature, irrational, illogical and sometimes compulsive.  They think of the present enjoyment or present objective of wanting to achieve something quickly.  They fail to think of the long run and they put aside all bad possibilities. Which means they are always optimistic.  They always feel NOTHING bad will happen to them.  For example, they think they will pass their examination next time (but still refuse to study), they will not get cancer or any illnesses from smoking, they will not get food poisoning again, they will not get fatter, they will not get sick, they can win the next medal etc.. Well, optimism is good, but not in this way.  This is pure craziness.

In life, we have to take precautions.  We have to listen to reminders and advices.  We have to learn from our bad lessons and abstain from repeating our mistakes.  That’s where true learning comes in.



Rare Spotting (Weekly Photo Challenge)

Went to the Giza Zoo, Egypt today.  Spotted this signboard and thought it was a cool name.  When I was looking at the birds, I got a rare treat.


Spotted this very rare scene of 2 love birds in action.  Very cute.

Love birds

Close up picture.



Also spotted this cute gazelle look-a-like (can’t remember the label on the enclosure).  It was busy chewing and turning its head left to right.



When it saw that I was trying to take a photo of it, it stopped chewing and turning around and posed for me for a good few seconds, without blinking its eyes.  I got a few shots.


When it saw that I was done, it continued chewing and looking left to right and stopped for a while when my daughter tried to touch its nose. Very cute indeed.



The perfect decision

Sometimes you thought you have made a perfect decision and you’re so jubilant and so proud of it.  For example taking up that new job, buying that new dress or car or piece of jewelry or the spouse that you picked. However, along the way, when some calamity befalls you, you start to realize and actually said -‘I shouldn’t have bought that or chosen that or involved myself in that’.  In your mind’s eye, you feel that you’ve actually made the wrong decision.  This feeling of regret gnaws you so much that you just want to get rid of that particular thing or that particular person that has caused you more pain than pleasure.

However, not all things (or people) can be disposed easily. For example that big expensive car, your spouse, your mother-in-law, your boss, your job, or simply your work. You have commitments and you can’t just leave and see goodbye or dump these things somewhere and carry on with your life. You just can’t.

And then when we can’t dispose off these things, we start to compare ourselves to others or other people’s situations – claiming our life is so bad and we are so unlucky. And we see the grass to be always greener on the other side compared to our own grass.

Now if you have ever felt these things before, there’s only one thing that you must remember: You are not alone.

EVERYBODY has challenges in their lives. EVERYBODY FEELS that they have made somewhat wrong decisions in their lives. I included the word ‘FEEL’ because I want to stress that sometimes we feel it’s the wrong decision when faced with difficulties associated with that decision but is it really?  Sometimes in the end, it turns out to be good and it’s a real blessing instead of a curse. Just because we had some petty arguments with our spouse we start to regret marrying him or her. Just because our mother-in-law criticized our cooking, we regret inviting her to dinner. Just because you have problems with one or two colleagues, we should have quitted the job.

No, instead we should always take everything that we have gone through as useful lessons in our lives. Put in your mind’s eye that problems are not always bad. Take these incidences of altercations, accidents, bad remarks, comments, heartaches as life lessons which we should keep in our portfolio.  We should use these problems as lessons so that we don’t make the same mistake again.  Or use them to change our own personality and character – we try to become more patient, compassionate, humble, more responsible, and more determined to achieve whatever we wish for. Use these bad experiences as platforms to perform better and build up our character to be a better individual, a better mom, co-worker, wife, son or daughter-in-law, teacher, lawyer or whatever it is.

The only thing you shouldn’t feel is REGRET. Because every ordainment in our lives is a blessing. Either the blessing provides us with happiness and attainment of something we like OR it’s a chance for us to learn something new and gain an experience which will soon benefit us in the future.


Ghost playing with me

Back in my old house, I always felt there was something not right in my house – I always felt there was something else in there, especially when I was alone.  I would feel there was something behind me and I would turn around suddenly to catch ‘it’ though I wasn’t sure I was really ready to see whatever it was..

At night, whenever I slept alone and my husband was out of the country, sometimes, strange things happened.  In my country, the weather could change very, very quickly from hot to cold, especially when it rains.  So, usually I would have my robe hanging on the clothes rack in my room.

One night, the weather was extremely, extremely hot and humid, so I slept with just my light nightdress and the aircon was turned on.  In the middle of the night, exactly at 2.am., I woke up feeling very, very hot and my wet hair was sticking to my neck and face.  I got up and found myself wearing my thick robe over my light nightdress and the aircon was turned off (it was not on a timer).  I felt so puzzled and kept asking myself whether I had woken up and turned off the aircon and worn the robe.  I couldn’t remember anything and thought I must have done it in my sleep, unconsciously.

A few days later, it was raining really, really heavily with strong winds, thunder and lightning.  Again, my husband was not around that night.  So, I put on some thick clothes and wore a robe over it and then went to sleep.  I remembered it very clearly that I really had worn thick clothes and a robe before I slept.

I woke up suddenly from sleep shivering so badly that my teeth were clattering.  I hugged myself trying to keep warm and was looking for my blanket when I looked at myself and saw that I was only wearing my light nightdress and my robe was hanging neatly on its normal rack.  And then I realized the aircon was on at full blast.  Again I was bewildered and puzzled.  But one look at the clock made me realize it was not a coincidence.  The clock showed exactly 2.00 am.

This incident scared me so badly that I really believed there was a ghost playing with me inside my own house and inside my room.  It took me quite a while to go back to sleep but I managed to sleep nevertheless.

Days later, while talking to my kids, my son told me that he had been seeing faces on the curtains in his room before sleeping.  The faces would be smiling and grinning at him.  I asked him why he didn’t tell me or his dad about it, he answered that he wasn’t scared.

I realized that I actually wasn’t scared either on those two nights.  A typical reaction would be to scream at the top of my voice and run out of the room.  But I didn’t and I was calm and cool and in fact could fall back to sleep.  (Of course, I was mumbling and chanting some prayers under my breath – just in case the thing decided to pop his/her face).

These two particular incidences really stick in my mind and I couldn’t forget it till now. Sometimes, nowadays, when I remember the incidents, my hair at the back of my neck would stood on ends and I’d have goosebumps.  But I’m glad that it didn’t really affect me that much.  For me, as long as these beings do not endanger my life as well as my family’s lives, I prefer to just forget about it and lead a normal life.

Throughout the 11 years I stayed in that house, there were other scary incidences.  But I think these 2 stories would suffice for now.


Carry on

Reading about Joseph Schooling’s (The Singapore swimmer who won the gold medal in the Olympics for swimming) background story towards stardom reminds me once again that success doesn’t come easy. You have to go through lots of debilitating obstacles before you reach the pinnacle. That’s how life is, was and will be. You can’t change it.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he is too stupid to learn anything.  And he made 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.  Many athletes, actors/actresses or other famous people took years of training, hard work, blood, disappointment and money before they make that break in their pursuit of their dream – sometimes from as young as 3 years old.  Read about Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and many others and you’ll see the same story of failures before success.

Even millionaires and billionaires don’t become what they are now overnight. Read their stories and understand how they struggle in the beginning.

How do these people carry on their desires and determination through years and years of hard work?  Do they at one time give up? What makes them rekindle their desire?

Talent is not enough. Though nature may equip you with a talent, but if you don’t nurture it in your lifetime, it will not shine and it’ll go to waste. Or if you fail, you should not give up but instead carry on until you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Persisting is one of the 16 habits of mind (HOM) that we educators should strive to teach. Kids nowadays think that success can come easily or if they have the money, they can get whatever they want. They give up easily or they ask for help at the first instant of difficulty. Either they are just too lazy to think and try or they are just too pampered.

(16 Habits of mind) and powerpoint slides 16 Habits of Mind

We really have to teach our students and own kids to be persistent and persevering. We have to teach them to want to carry on despite hindrances, failures, afflictions and discouragements.

Without this desire to carry on, success would remain a dream, failure would become the norm of the day and life would become stagnant.



Camel A:  Look there Cammy!  There’s a human peeping at us….I mean taking our photo.

Camel B:  I’m confused with these human behaviors.  What’s with the camera?  They are always taking photos of us animals.

Camel A:  Maybe they think we are beautiful.

Camel B:  What do you mean they think we are beautiful?  We are gorgeous.  Just look at our eye-lashes, thick lips and long legs.

(Find out ‘Why do camels have long eyelashes?’)


Camel A & B:  Hello there human.  We were just having our breakfast.  Want some?  You look confused.  What’s wrong?  No, no.  Don’t worry.  We won’t choke on our food.  We have big teeth.





Now you see me, now you don’t!

This fancy pigeon is gorgeous.  One of my husband’s favorites.  It has a feathery mane like the lion.  But sometimes it’s cheeky and loves to hide his face from view.  Maybe he’s shy because he knows we are admiring him. Or maybe, he’s just having fun playing hide and seek.  But at times he is proud and showy and will fluff up his feathers and strut around.


This type of pigeon is identified as a jacobin (read more from this website: http://mentalfloss.com/article/54359/9-bizarre-and-beautiful-fancy-pigeons)

jacobin pigeon

It’s definitely fun to watch them.