Friday, July 15, 2016

My progress on water colour painting

Check it. I bought myself a pocket size Daler Rowney water colour pan set on impulse. Just because it was so cute! So decided to put into some good use.

Life of a Suzuki Mom

It isn't like the good old days, where our parents will just drop us off at music class and they come back half an hour later and that is it. We are told to practice everyday and next week the routine is repeated. Parents pays the fees every month, we go for the ABRSM exams every year and we become their bragging rights.

That was back then when I was learning the piano. Somewhere along the lines I actually finished the whole programme with the certification to go with it. And my parents never knew what a Staccato was or Vivace means.

The Suzuki method is a world of difference. Having left the music world for so long, I thought the Suzuki method was something new. Apparently it's been around for 50 years. Which means it was around during when I stared my piano lessons.

The Suzuki method is an amazing music programme by Japanese Violinist Shinichi Suzuki (1898 - 1998) which came up in the mid - 20th century. He pioneered the Idea that pre - school aged children could learn to play the violin if the learning steps were small enough. Due to this young age, parental involvement is also required in the learning process. Parents are required to take notes, or in the case of Ayden's teacher, encouraged me to take a video of the lesson. He also welcomes the whole family including their siblings into the class too!

With Ayden almost a year into Book 1, I can see how their method is so effective and fun to learn. The method does not require the child to be able to read, but instead you learn it by singing the notes in number fingerings. Within the 1st month of learning, one would be able to play twinkle. And twinkle is the foundation to a Suzuki child's learning,  improvements on  techniques and proper holding and bowing. With every piece you learn something new. To play on 2 strings for example, to use the finger number 4, to play Staccato. They do etudes for petes  sake and it's made so easy! Ayden aced it in 2 weeks.

But with ANY child, practice didn't come easy. It was HARD to get him to practice. We fought, we argued, there were tears, I lost my temper on many occasions.  I thought to myself, I can't keep going like this, neither do I want him to give up. As biased as it sounds, I really think Ayden can succeed in it. I didn't want him to give up so easily when the going gets tough. He did started off really enjoying it. He didn't have objections going for classes compared to his swimming class.

So I trolled the net for solutions. I found loads of Suzuki mummy blogs with all having the same issues as me!

So I found a solution. Was not quite a straight forward one, but involved many gradual steps.

Ayden had grown too reliant on me when he practices. Yes it is understood that Suzuki kids are too young to practice on their own, but he came to a point where I have to read out the notes for him because he just won't look at the score.  It is also stressful for him when I  become impatient with him. So for this pain point,  I decided to sit outside the room, but within earshot, when he practices. So he is less dependent on me, puts effort into figuring where he had gone wrong, and near enough to shout for help when he is stuck. It is also less stressful for him because he does not have a mummy hovering him over every mistake. Works like a charm.

Next, I enrolled him into a group class. Ayden is a people's person, so he was thrilled that there are other boys his age learning the violin too. This did wonders in motivating him to practice and play well.

I play duets with him. Suzuki actually has a violin duet book that covers Book 1 to 3. Yes i also play the violin. I stopped at Grade 3 when i was at University but picked it up again when Ayden started his classes. I thought it would be fun to play with him. Ayden definitely got more motivated and excited when we play together. The piece sounds so much more musical and interesting.

Lastly, I introduced a bribe. He can only play his Ipad if he practice. His siblings does not get access to the Ipad either if Abang does not practice. This is the most magical method so far!

So with the above, I'm pleased to say that Ayden is practicing everyday,  reviewing from song number 12 right to twinkle. My instruction is two times each song. Best of all, he is able to practice without me. He stops to see where he did not get right. He starts the bar again that note right. And most of all, he actually enjoys it. He is able to explain to daddy ( according to daddy during one practice session, daddy was sitting with him while I was doing the dishes), which is his favourite song. Which song is a million times better than the other, that the twinkle that he is playing is a bit different from the twinkle we usually hear.

I really hope his enthusiasm lasts. Learning a musical has so many benefits. Besides musical appreciation, it also helps a child to:

- memorising information
- Develop resilience. Controlling inhibitions. Not give up when the going gets tough.
- Prolongs focus and attention

Cheers to us Suzuki moms.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Salam Ramadan

And with the blink of an eye, or both, it's already 20 days into Ramadan. I must say this year it's not quite so exciting. At least I don't feel the excitement I usually do. I used to look forward to Ramadan. To fast and breakfast. It is a month where I feel peace and content.

I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bucket list checked! Open water PADI diver certified!

It wasn’t quite something that I fathom to do. I could hardly snorkel. Scuba diving was mind blowing.
Then an email from KSRP came in announcing a dive trip in Redang Island. The open water license was so cheap! I could resist a good deal, so I signed up anyway, despite my fear for scuba diving. This was last year.

This April, KSRP announced another trip. It is a bi-annual trip, the first one being in April, the other in September. Having proudly passed my open water license last year, I decided to enroll for the leisure dive this year. I was still pretty jittery, I did not quite got over my anxiety of being underwater. I was told that if I dived more often (by the very encouraging and friendly KSRP divers) I will get better at it. The thing I love about KSRP dive trips is that, everything is arranged for you. You just have to pay up, and show up!

The bus left KLCC at midnight of Wednesday. Armed with a neck pillow and warm jumper, I slept through the journey. We arrived in Batu Rakit for a nasi dagang breakfast before boarding the ferry at Merang Jetty for the Island. The sea was calm and blue. The one hour boat ride was smooth and pleasant. When we disembarked from our ride, the blue sea and white sand took my breath away. I’m ready to dive!

There were 6 dives arranged for us. Two dives a day. All meals were provided for us at the Redang Mutiara Resort where we were putting up. Our dive “tour guides” were from Seamonkey Dive Centre. The weather was sunny but cool, nothing like the heatwave that we were having in KL. A very much welcomed break from the heat!

After our sumptuous kampong style lunch, we got ready for our first dive. Our BCDs (the thingy that helps us float and sink), regulators (the thing that we breath through) and fins (cheapos like me don’t want to invest on my own fins just yet. But I did buy my own mask. The first thing that you should buy I was told) was all prepared for us by the dive centre. We just needed to check that it fits and bring it onto the boat. Our tanks were already on the jetty.

We had two dives arranged that afternoon. We trooped onto our boat at 2.30pm and chugged out into the open sea. Upon arrival at our dive site, we were split into two groups. The expert divers group, and the “still jittery but still want to dive” group. I was in the latter. Our first dive site was only 11 meters deep. Specially selected for us to get comfortable and have a small refresher before going for deeper dives. A big relief for me. The expert group hit the water first while we wait for our turn.
I strapped on my BCD, made my way to the edge of the boat. I forgot how heavy the tank and BCD was. Luckily there were people helping me steady myself while, already in my fins, clumsily edge my way to the edge of the boat. It was one of those big boats with a small deck at the back to jump off the boat.

I adjusted my mask into my face, placed the regulator into my mouth, looked into the horizon and took my giant stride into the water. That first hit into the water and the first breath of compressed air was exhilarating! Once I was properly buoyant I signaled to the boatman that I was ok and made space for the next diver. When we were all in the water and ready, we made our descend. Slow and majestically. When everyone was at the bottom we were told to practice removing our regulator (yes removing the thing that we use to breath in!), let it go and put it back into our mouth and start breathing again. We also had to practice clearing our mask. These may sound a bit daft, but these are essential safety skills that at minimum we must master in case someone yanked out regulators off by mistake or kick our mask off. Once everyone had passed the mini refresher course, we were ready to explore the dive site. Like a school of fish we followed our dive master around the corals and navigate our way through a completely different world. It’s almost surreal. Having fishes swim past you, fishes that we only see in Aquaria. There were also lots of sea cucumbers, all sorts of corals and clams that open and shut when you tease it. 

After our mini refresher dive, the subsequent dive sites were deeper and even more interesting.
The following days were filled with so much more wonder and awe. Corals were more colourful and more fishes come out to play in deeper waters. I had the privilege of spotting turtles at two different dive sites. A thing that I could never imagine to witness. Turtles swimming before me. Clownfish is a common sight. Just like in the cartoon, they swim and play in their anemones. I made it a special point to take a video of them just to show my kids. We were told that it was the trigger fish nesting season. They are particularly dangerous at this time and we were to keep away and never swim over them. They do attack when they feel threatened and their sting can really hurt. The things we learn from the ocean. It was liberating finning around and over the corals, alongside fishes and taking goofy pictures with our dive buddies. Needless to say my Instagram was filled with photos from the trip almost instantly.

One of the dive site that we explored was a shipwreck. It was a boat that was donated and purposely sunk. I didn’t think much of the shipwreck. It was sunk only last year so it was still “fresh” and only a bit rusty. We explored it nevertheless and swum over and around it.

With every dive I completed, I was more and more confident. I could descend with no issues and have almost no anxieties. So it is true, the advice that I was given. At the end of the 6 dives, I already look forward to my next trip.

After 4 days of fun in the sun and in the water, we packed up and headed home. Heart singing from the adventure, new found friends and memories to last a lifetime.


The yummy nasi dagang breakfast at Batu Rakit


My gear


Preparing our equipment for our first dive


Happy divers


All ok!


Happy shinny people


At the shipwreck with our dive masters













Saturday, January 09, 2016

This year's challenge

I've decided to go for violin exams!

I've been taking classes the past few months. It was fun but I don't feel the push to improve and sharpen my skills. I really want to do well and eventually play in orchestras. 

I left off in grade 3 when I was in uni. So will try for grade 4!

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 08, 2016

My latest obsession. Midori Travel Notebook!

Who would have thought that journaling can be so fun! I've never heard or seen a midori before until a colleague told me about it. And my colleague don't even own one! So after checking out the midori travel notebook on instagram and YouTube I was totally sold. What an exciting way to journal!

So I headed to Stickerrific, kids and hubby in tow and got my first midori, a weekly insert and a whole lot of accessories to go with it. I bought it 2 weeks before the year end, supposedly to start filling up at the start of the brand new year. But I just couldn't wait so I started writing in it already.

So far I already have 4 inserts. A weekly planner, a blank 124 page insert for daily gratitude journaling, a blank craft paper insert for my photoshoot appointment and an insert for my trip to Perth next month.

And since the time I purchased the midori  (actually it's actually anniversary gift from hubby) I had already collected a whole lot of washie tapes  (who would have thought I would get into washie tapes!!), a whole lot of stickers and even rubber stamps! Oh and my collection of pens and hand lettering brush pens are building up quite modestly too!

So here's some snap shots of my midori. I'm yet to take some photos of the contents but will do so soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My first attempt at drawing and painting my own drawing

I never had the courage to draw. After watching a few YouTube videos on how other people do it I decided to give it a shot.

I used a photo I took when we dined at Rimba and Rusa and copied it carefully with a pencil. I loved the interior of that Cafe so much! Then I outlined the drawing and  painted it with Sakura Koi water colours. I should have painted it first then outline because the ink smears under the water colours.

So here are the results!

Monday, December 14, 2015

From Secret Paris book

Used Derwent water colours. Really have no clue on how to paint with water colours. Just winging it for now until I find some classes to go to