Are children overprotected nowadays?

Whenever I go for my aqua-gym sessions, the pool is always shared with other adult swimmers and children occupying the other lanes.

Each time that we’re done, there will always be a crowd at the showers – mostly with mothers, easily distinguished by the bright blue plastic shoe covers, fussing over their daughters – like putting shampoo for them, insisting on lathering them up with soap. It’s not like the girls are not able to do it themselves. They look autonomous at about 8 – 10 years old.

I observed the scenario. It wasn’t something new. But something clicked in my head. I’ve been going to this pool for several years now but I’ve never really given much thought on how overprotected many children are.

Another example is how school children, under the age of 12 are not allowed to go home without the accompaniment of a trusted adult.

I understand the motive, but growing up in Singapore, for me,this was something that took a while for me to get used to, because most of us have been taught to be independent as soon as possible.

One may say that the 80s was a very different time from the present. And that the level of crime was lower in the old days.

Nevertheless, it’s common even now to see a regular South East Asian kid, of the same age as the girls from the pool, being able to take the bus by herself, being able go to school by herself and even go to swimming classes by herself if she wanted to.

Just an observation. I’m sure it’s just a matter of cultural differences.

 

Dolce far niente

Oh gosh. Where does the time go? It’s crazy how the day just pass by so quickly – I wake up, do stuff and the day is over?!

I’ve blogged about this before about ten years ago, but it’s still an amazement to me. I remember when I was a kid and had about an hour to play before dinner and that hour to me, felt like an entire afternoon. Gosh, how and when did it change to how we are now?

Perhaps it is because our perception of time changes as we grow older, in the sense that we have more tasks to achieve and when we are not able to do them all, time seems to go fast. But I also think that especially with the distractions of technology, time is stolen away bit by bit.

Perhaps we should just slow down and live in the moment, no matter how boring the present may be. I’d like to try for my senses be more present and be self aware of what’s around me – like admiring at the jackets the people who pass me by are wearing or smelling the coffee aroma as I pass by a bar.

Sometimes it’s nice to just breathe and do nothing.

My life is boring

My life is boring.

Each morning I wake up at about 6 am and I check the phone. Eventually I find the strength to get up to do my morning routine. It’ll be especially hard if I did gym the day before.

rinaz.net Vegan Diet

I unwillingly do a bit of housework. If it’s a Monday or a Wednesday or Friday, I’d normally go for a nice walk, playing pokemon go or Ingress along the way, to the market to get some fresh produce. By the time I reach home, it’ll be time for lunch and I’d usually make something simple with the ingredients that I just bought.

rinaz.net Vegan Diet

After lunch, I’d get ready with my teaching materials and then I’m off to teach English.

And then I reach home, and have a cup of tea. If it’s Tuesday and Thursday, I get ready for exercise and would get home exhausted. Cart will usually prepare dinner. The other days I’d lounge around before deciding what to cook. Finally Cart and I would watch something on Netflix. I’d always fall asleep on the sofa as soon at it turns 11 pm.

rinaz.net Using Chromecast with Netflix

Rinse and repeat for Mondays till Fridays.

(Weekends are the days where I completely slack around apart from my aqua-gym session and making my cartoon strip)

Yes my life is boring. But it’s okay. While sometimes I wonder if this is as good as it gets, I’m sure that there are greats things to come in time.

5 things I stopped buying

The thing about living in a country with different seasons means that there are things that I store away for months till I need to use them. Sometimes I forget that I have them in the first place till I rummage through the closet.

Today, I was trying to find my bottle of WD40 (which has mysteriously disappeared) in the hopes to fix my car’s fuel tank which sometimes won’t release the key. And then I saw my heels that I haven’t worn out at all.

rinaz.net Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels

They are gorgeous, and I love them. But they are just not practical for walking around and I don’t last more than 15 minutes in them. (As a sidenote, I was watching this youtube video about this French lady who spent a day in her stilettos)

Personally I wouldn’t get these high heels for myself, but Cart got these for me as a gift and kept telling me that it’s useful to have when we go out for functions. But I really don’t see the day when we’d need to attend a fancy event. Oh well.

Looking through the amount of things that I already have though, got me thinking that I shouldn’t get more of them because I should use the things that I already have, at least once in a year.

So here are a 5 things at the top of my head that I’ve stopped buying (at least for 2017)  :

1. Magazines

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I loved magazines –  thumbing through the colourful pages, and looking at the stylish clothes. There was a time I thought that I could try to learn how to make my own clothes, using some sewing magazines. I stopped because cloth is ridiculously expensive here (20 euro per metre? Yikes!) As much as I like my magazines, they keep piling up and takes up so much space under the coffee table. And now, they are just collecting dust. I might just give them away in the future.

2. Sanitary Pads

I haven’t used a disposable sanitary pad since last September, now that I’ve been using my menstrual and reusable pads. I love them.

rinaz.net Things I stopped buying

I’ve been interested in using a menstrual cup for the longest time – so many women has been extolling the virtues, like how it’s better for the environment, how its saves you money …  but I haven’t had the courage to use one.

Now that I’ve used one, it’s not such a big deal. It can be a bit daunting to use for the first time, and a lot has never talked about cup “slaps”. But it will get better the more you practise and because I don’t flow much, I can leave it in for 12 hours and I don’t even feel a thing (not like tampons)

And when my flow gets lighter, I just use my cute reusable pads. I love them so much! If menstrual cups are too scary for you, I highly recommend these as they are so easy to care for. Once you’re done, rinse them, and then just pop them in the washing machine.

I still have some boxes of disposable pads … I don’t know what to do with them. People are going to be grossed out if I gave them away I think (even if they are not used)

3. Bags

I find a lot of bags in my closet. How on earth did that happen? There are so many –  Fancy tiny ones, sling bags, backpacks, some from freebie packs, some were gifts … I don’t even consider myself a bag person. But I won’t be getting myself new ones and figure out what to do with the ones that I currently have.

(I’m not even going to open my closet to take a picture of my bags)

4. Jewellery

As much as I love bling, funnily enough, I don’t think to wear them when I go out. They can be quite cumbersome and get in the way when I’m on my scooter or when I need to wear gloves. I’ve since given away many of my costume jewelries I had and I’m sticking to my gold ones.

rinaz.net Things I stopped buying

The irony is that I don’t see many (if any) Italian women use gold jewellery. I wonder why.

5. Makeup

rinaz.net Kiko Velvet Mat Lipstick 612

I like makeup, and how it can make me look a more polished version of me. Now that I’m on a plant based diet, I’ve been searching for vegan cosmetics – so far I’ve found a brand that I’ve been lemming for.

But for the moment, I haven’t even made a dent in the cosmetics that I currently have. These days I normally go makeup free, and use them only on special days like wedding anniversaries and birthdays. So it doesn’t make sense for me to get new ones.

There goes my chance of being a beauty blogger 😛

One thing that should, but I didn’t put on the list is clothes. I have a lot of them, which means that I shouldn’t get more of them but there are certain types that get worn out faster than others like my exercise clothes. So I’ll try to limit myself, perhaps a maximum of 12 pieces for this year?

And yes, that includes thrift shops too.

Goodbye 2016!

Hi everyone!

2016 is almost to its close. Goodness, where does the time pass by? It feels that it wasn’t too long ago when we unpacked our luggage from our trip back from Singapore back in January.

So for the last post of this year, I thought that I’d write my reflections about the year and the things that I’m grateful for.

2016 has been quite an adventure and new experiences for me. Cart and I have been travelling more, and even though the trips has been short, it has opened my eyes to the magnificence and beauty of the different places in the world.

It’s like the game Diablo where the more you walk around, the more you reveal your map and for me, it was something like that. I loved seeing the colourful carnival in Viareggio. Walking around the parks in Vienna was breathtaking. Padova was charmed me with her vibrance and Cologne made me so happy because there were so many friendly faces.

It’s also incredible the opportunities that I’ve been given – like leading a team during an anomaly, participating in my first Obstacle challenge, even helping out with a Television Programme. Yeah, I probably am going to sound like a broken record because I mention these so often, but I’m still very thankful.

And I guess that with the more things that you see and experience in the world, it inadvertently makes you grow.

For me, I’ve noticed a change in myself in the sense that I feel that now I’m much calmer compared to before. Things which used to bother me, doesn’t faze me anymore. It’ll just take too much of my precious energy and in the end, leaves me burnt. Nah, there are other things better to focus on.

Maybe that’s what happens as one grows older, I suppose.

What’s in store for me in 2017?

Nothing much. Apart from visiting my family during the Summer, there hasn’t been any plans to travel as of yet.

I’ve never been one who makes resolutions but for now, I want to continue with my vegan diet, continue doing Cross Fit (and maybe join a spartan race if it’s not too expensive) and try to keep blogging of course. For the moment, I’m trying to get in the momentum of posting 3 times a week – Cartoon Mondays, Vlog Wednesdays and Random Fridays.

I also want to do merchandising with my cartoons, of course. I keep saying that I’ll start but I need someone to kick me in the butt give me motivation. I keep procrastinating. Why? -_-

My worst fear has come true

November is here already. Just 9 more weekends and then we’ll be saying hello to 2017. My goodness. Time really flows by quickly.

Loads of memorable things has happened so far since the start of the year. For 2016, I wanted to be stronger so for a start, I’ve embarked on a plant based diet, and have taken up crossfit (I’m still not sure if I like it or not)

I’d like to get my cartoons to a higher level. I’m still clueless at how merchandising works, but so far, friends seem genuinely excited at the small little knickknacks that I’ve done. That gives me the motivation to continue and do more.

The past months we visited Vienna which was absolutely gorgeous in the Spring. Then Padova, where I participated in my first Obstacle Challenge. And then Cologne, where I wished I could spend more time in. I think the pièce de résistance was when we visited the Carnival in Viareggio with a Singaporean TV Crew. The episode was out last night, so you can imagine how excited my family was, watching it. I thought I couldn’t watch since it was aired in Singapore, but am pleasantly surprised to find that I could watch it online.

And yet 2016 contains one of the most painful memory for me too. My aunt passed away two weeks ago. I still remember the moment clearly. It was Friday morning and I had just woken up and checked my messages. My mom wrote, “Mak Oteh is gone” and I stared at the message. Stunned and then felt a deep, hollow pain and bellowed out. I couldn’t stop crying.

It was a pain that I’ve never felt before.

Growing up, our families lived close to each other. So I’d be dropped at her house while my parents went to work or when I was done with primary school. I still remember her mashing up chillies using her Batu Giling at the old-old house at Taman Jurong. This was the time when the houses were 5 stories high, if I’m not wrong. I don’t remember it having elevators.

And then my aunts and my grandfather moved closer to our old house, sharing the same block. I remember her giving me snacks of soda biscuits eaten with canned tuna flavoured with chopped onions and green chilli. I remember us sitting on the floor, watching Cinderella or American Werewolf in London or Indonesian horror movies which freaked me out.

Then when we had to move again because our blocks were to be demolished, about 15 years ago to where my parents are currently staying and Mak Oteh chose to live in the same block together.

As I started to go to tertiary education and then started to work, I didn’t manage to spend as much time with her. Nevertheless our families try to do a lot of reunions together. Not one Hari Raya would we miss going to each other’s house and I’d eat her delicious food. I’d always look forward to eating her Mee Hoon Goreng Putih.

And I remember us spending vacations together. The time when we got stranded and our extended family had to stay in a really seedy hotel. And then the time when we stayed in little huts somewhere near Terengganu where we caught sea snails and then she managed to de-shell them and then turn them into a nice sambal. Or the time when we went to Kuala Lumpur together and woke up to the sound of chickens.

I still remember.

Mak Oteh was a good person. She has this way of making people around her feel special and while she can be naggy, she always had a kind word for me and advice. I feel loved when I’m with her and I feel like she’s my other mom, since we spent so much time together.

While she didn’t like to exercise, she was a hard worker and would do something with commitment. Which is why I felt such honour when she volunteered to cook for our wedding. It’s not at all an easy thing or glamorous thing to do to feed over thousands of guests.

I remember her saying in her relaxed, bright voice that she’ll come running to Rome as soon as she finds out that I’m pregnant…

The last time that I saw her was in January while we were in Singapore. She was visibly thinner compared to the regular Mak Oteh. I should have seen it coming when my brother was recounting about the time when she went to the hospital. I brought it up to her, and she was as chatty as usual, just not as energetic as before. Never did I imagine that it’ll be last time that I see her.

I should have known…

You know how people say that they feel their heart breaking? It was overwhelming the sadness and for the whole day I just couldn’t stop crying. Completely devastated. The thought of her gone. Not being able to see her anymore, talking to her, hugging her, getting a whiff of the make-up that she likes to put on.

One of my worst fear has come true. And living so far away, gives me no sense of closure.

I just don’t understand. It’s not fair. She’s not old. She should live at least 20 years more. Why?

Thoughts ran in my mind and I didn’t feel like blogging, I didn’t feel like going anywhere or meeting anyone or do anything. Just looking at our photos together was painful. It took a week for me to stop crying.

And yet, I don’t know how I’ll react the next time I come and visit Singapore. I just can’t imagine not being able to go to her house – with her rows of potted plants and not see her or hear her voice as your reach the gate

I’m still in pain.

I wish that somehow we had a way to back ourselves up and connect our consciousness together. That way, we could visit our loved ones at any time without this distance between us.

Coping with homesickness

I saw an interesting topic on a forum and I thought that I would blog about it today – “Coping with homesickness

The first few months of arrival wasn’t easy for me.

There were lots of things that are different between Rome and Singapore – the climate, the culture, the bureaucracy, and of course the language among others.

During the first few months, I remember crying a lot and feeling miserable – the cold winter didn’t help that much either. I surprised myself even, when Cart brought home a pack of vegetable couscous and for some reason it reminded me of biryani – something that I ate often when I was in Singapore. And I cried, much to Cartcart’s horror.

Eventually I’ve adapted to living here. Which I should, since it’s been seven years that I’ve been living in Rome. But if I could tell 2009 Marina what I know now, I would have told her several things to make the transition easier.

1. Install social media

Technology in 2009 wasn’t the same as what we have today, but apps like Facebook and Whatsapp makes it easier to communicate with your family and friends. We even have a Telegram group for my family chat. Singapore and Italy has an 8 hour different timezone and sometimes it’s hard for me to catch anyone on the phone on Skype but it’s better than nothing.

2. Explore your neighbourhood.

2009 Marina was very afraid to venture out of the house. She was worried that people would treat her badly because she doesn’t know the language well. Nonsense! Just try to leave the house every day and go out and explore and expand your map. It’s good to know where important places like supermarkets, pharmacies, gyms and whatnot. And the more you explore, the more confident you feel.

Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to even get yourself lost, riding a bus you’ve never taken before and taking a random subway. Worst case scenario is if you can’t find yourself back, there is always Google Maps.

For me, once I’ve taken my riding license in Rome, it opened a whole new world of freedom. I could travel around faster and more efficiently.

3. Find something you enjoy doing

An easy way to socialise with other people is to find something that interests you. If you like exercising for instance, you may want to search for nice gym to go to near you. If you like photography, you may want to participate in an Instagram meet, there are even ‘centro sociale‘ in Rome, which functions like a community centre where you could learn and meet other people. Cart and I learnt how to make bread and I did a bit of yoga here.

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I probably made the most friends through Ingress – a GPS based game which ideally you need to play as a group.

4. Immerse yourself in the culture

2009 Marina spent a lot of time trying to find as much things that reminds her of her homeland – trying to find as much Asian foodstuff, searching for other expatriates from South East Asia … which is all fine.

Personally for me, after several years trying to find acceptable SE Asian food, I get fed up because many a times it’s way too expensive and doesn’t taste the same. So I save my appetite for when I go back to Singapore and buy all the things I need to carry over to Rome.

It makes more sense to buy local. They are more abundant and cheaper. There are plenty of interesting places to experience and discover in Rome. Apart from visiting historical sites, there are always events that might interest you.

Not forgetting where you come from is important, but I think, it is also important to also embrace your new home too.

If I could somehow tell 2009 Marina, I’d tell her to just chill, have fun exploring around and not to worry too much about the language barrier. It’ll come eventually. The faster it is that you explore and interact, the easier it is to pick up the language.

The important thing is to just keep yourself busy with things that makes you feel excited about. It’s when you don’t occupy yourself, is when you have all these nostalgia. And having too much of it isn’t good. You start to compare and then get disgruntled.

One of the things that I did that I’m quite excited about of is creating my weekly cartoon strips – I first drew the characters them around the time when I started this blog in 2006, but I thought it would be a nice way to try to improve my Italian so I started my strips a few years ago and I actually have a few people who appreciate my cartoons which gives me the inspiration and drive to continue.

All in all, when you have something to look forward to, eventually you don’t think about your homesickness.

Germany, here I come!

Cart and I are going to Cologne, Germany in about two weeks time for the Via Lux anomaly and we’re slowly getting ready for it – the plane tickets bought, our Airbnb apartment booked and I’m even thinking of making some stickers to give out.

rinaz.net Ordering Moo Stickers

Aren’t these cute? They are kind of expensive though at 46 euro for 156 pieces considering that they are quite small at 3.8 cm each. But if they turn out well, I might make more.

I’m looking forward to this trip. There are plenty of things to be seen – museums and architectures and I’ve read that there is even a chocolate museum there.

But you know what I’d really want to see? A trip to their supermarkets. Yes, it sounds a little anticlimactic but I’ve always been curious ever since I’ve watched a video documenting how the goods there are cheaper compared to the ones in Italy. So that’ll be something interesting to compare.

Plus I’d like to visit at least one vegan joint there. I was looking through happycow the other day, and there is this vegan burger place which (I think) isn’t too far away from our accomodation.

rinaz.net Ingress Anomaly Obsidian Vienna

I don’t speak German, this will be interesting experience

If I had more time, I’d love to see things at a slower pace. But after my experiences, I have to be pragmatic. That’s the biggest issue with doing an anomaly – you’re so busy trying to orient yourself in a new country, then you move all around the city by foot, your eyes are on the scanner for most of the day and you get so exhausted you just want to faint but when the next day comes, you’d have to rush to do the mission banner and then it’s time to fly back home.

rinaz.net Toon!

Something better than nothing! Maybe I can take this experience as a recce? And maybe one day I’ll even try to travel alone.

Living in Rome changed the way I speak

I’ve been watching quite a fair amount of videos by Mark Weins, a vlogger that I enjoy watching. He travels a lot to Asia, and I like seeing him experiencing places that I’ve been to. In a way, I can rekindle my memories somewhat.

Like when he went to Langkawi, PenangKuala Lumpur, Singapore … all of them places that I’ve been to, and I’ve even already blogged about. I find Mark amusing when he tastes food that he likes by closing his eyes, and tilting his head and saying, “mmm…”

Anyway, out of curiosity I decided to watch one of his older videos.

7 years, ago his voice was deeper, he spoke slower and his accent was distinctly American. Two years later, living in South East Asia, his voice started to change.

In a way, it doesn’t really surprise me. Voices and accents change depending on where you live. Sometimes you don’t even need to live overseas for a long time for your accent to change. I’m sure you find yourself talking differently when you’re talking to different people.

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For example, if you were to meet a person of a different nationality – let’s say a French person, you find yourself talking differently to make yourself understood more easily.

Living in Rome, I have to force myself to speak a little louder and enunciate to make myself understood by the locals here. I guess I’m influenced by the environment here because when I go back to Singapore, my friends and family sometimes comment, “Marina! You have an Italian accent now!

Without realising it, I now tend to intonate certain words like their Italian counterpart when I speak in English like “Really?” (Davvero?)  and sometimes I find myself doing direct translations when having to switch from English to Italian and vice versa. Something like, “How many years does he have?” Then I realised what I said and correct myself.

I wouldn’t say that I’m great at speaking Italian, I still have a long way to go to being fluent. Nevertheless, I find the changes interesting.

Looking through my facebook feed, many of my friends have now emigrated (or going to) to different parts of the world. It’ll be interesting to hear them talk again in person!

Is this wrong?

I thought that I’d share something that I’ve recently read on Facebook – This was an answer to a Primary 1 student’s English composition :

rinaz.net Singapore Primary 1 student english composition answer

At first glance, I thought that the student didn’t do anything wrong. And then I went through the comments, many of them very harsh – saying about how the teacher needs to go back and study English, and how she should be fired.

But then I managed to read the question :

rinaz.net Singapore Primary 1 student english composition answer

“If you are celebrating a family member’s birthday, how do you plan to celebrate it?”

Granted that the use of the conditional “if” is a bit awkward,  I realised that the teacher wasn’t in the wrong at all. For every question, you’d have to answer accordingly.

When you are asked, “If you ARE to plan her birthday, how DO you plan to do it?” And so you have to answer in the matching tense, that is, “If I AM to plan he birthday, I WILL …”

And when you are asked, “If you WERE to plan her birthday, how WOULD you plan to do it?” then you could answer it with, “If I WERE to plan her birthday, I WOULD …”.

The trouble with the conditional IF when used in past tense, is for situations that is hypothetical, or something impossible for you to do, like, “If I were able to fly”, “If I was a man”, “If I was rich”.

But planning a birthday party is something do-able. Which is why I understand why the question was phrased that way.

This reminds me of another question that I read some while back. I can’t find the exact one, but it’s quite similar to this one :

rinaz.net Singapore Primary 3 student science question

The student’s answer was along the lines of : “Both of them can walk”.

When the answer was posted online, there were many comments of how, “This is killing children’s creativity” and whatnots. But this is a science question, and when you see the words, study or observe the picture, you’ll need to answer on what is based on what you see. Which is :

  • They both have four feet (or)
  • They both have two ears (or)
  • They both have a tail

And so on and so forth.

I wouldn’t say that I’m perfect academically, but it’s logical that if someone asks for “A”, one should answer back in “A”. It’s nothing to do with stifling a child’s imagination or creativity –  It’s just not answering the question.

But on the other hand, we have to be careful not to lead children only  use rote memorizations without understanding its meaning like in the video below :

The clip comes from the movie, “Three Idiots” and if you haven’t watched it yet, watch it! It’s the funniest movie that I’ve watched in a while 🙂