i dreamt i talked to shin-chan

There’s no fancy way of putting it, but simply, I dreamt I talked to Shin-chan from AAA. Not as a fan at a fan meet, but as a friend.

We were sitting in the back seat of a car, waiting for some friends or family? Not certain who we were waiting for. We were listening to some Japanese music. I recall Perfume and some other artistes. I suppose it was our first time talking to each other coz when I tried to make small talk, he seemed rather aloof. People would know that the true blue introvert of me doesn’t like to make awkward small talk. Anyway, I asked him which college was he in. He answered quite curtly like he was uncomfortable revealing a detail of his personal life. But then, I hit jackpot when I started commenting on how there must be a couple of Asian supermarkets around his college just like how mine did. That’s like a god-send for students coming from Asian countries. He started opening up a bit more when we talked about that. Weird though, I commented at some point that he was Taiwanese. LIKE WHY WOULD I SAY HE’S TAIWANESE??? I must have quite a few Taiwanese friends, that’s why.

And that was all. I know it was a rather blah dream but it was a good one. I am an introvert but I do crave to get to know people on a one-on-one personal level. And yes, I would love to talk to Shin-chan one day and get to know him as a friend.

life with GD

My life just got a little more complicated.

I meant to blog earlier about the last baby seminar I attended, but things got a little busy for me. By the time I was ready to write, I got hit by some bad news. I had gone for the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) and the results weren’t good. I am diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

While I was half prepared for the bad news, I must say that it did shake me up a little. I couldn’t help but wonder why me. Things have been going really well for this pregnancy and now I’m being thrown into some crap situation. But the rational side of me knows that there is no use asking why because God has his plan and to be quite honest, I have already gotten the sweeter end of the deal so far (e.g. no morning sickness, no aches and pains, etc.).

I am grateful for the support I’ve received from family, friends and other mummies. Their encouraging words help me to get on with the slightly inconvenient change in life — planning my meals, watching my diet very closely, pricking my fingers seven times a day for twice a week. Yet, their encouragement can only get me so far.

It is not about bearing with this slight inconvenience for another three months. Three months? I am very sure I can do it. I’ve been resisting the temptation of eating sweet food since week 8 of my pregnancy (did pinch a little now and then, but otherwise, I’ve been quite disciplined), what’s another three months? Nothing much to me. It’s the afterwards that I fear, my friends. Two to six weeks after my pregnancy, I will need to go for another GTT to determine if I’m a regular diabetic to begin with. This is exceptionally scary for me. Due to my family history, I am at higher risk of developing diabetes.

Imagine not being able to enjoy sweet food and desserts all your life. Imagine giving up your favourite sweet dessert for good. Now, you tell me whether it’s scary or not? I don’t even know how my mum deals with her once in a blue moon can of Coke Zero or annual birthday cake only.

It is very frustrating…

Ok, back to planning my meals for today.

[Cross posted entry on MUMMY TO BABY]

life is not all about grades

A long overdued entry, but here it is…

A friend posted a sad piece of news on Facebook some time ago. It’s about a straight A student who committed suicide over two Bs in her O’levels. Shortly after her death, her mother followed suit and committed suicide as well.

I’m not going to retell the whole story as you can click on the link to read the full article, but I will share my thoughts on it. My first reaction was “Two Bs and she got so upset? Oh my, she really shouldn’t have.” Grades aren’t everything. Sure, good grades perhaps pave a better way towards a successful career that’s characterised with high pay and impressive titles, but who really knows what the future holds? At 16, do you even know what you want to do in the future?

Grades and Life

I use myself as an example. I scored three Bs and four Cs in my O’levels which meant I could not even smell the air of Junior College. That was alright since I already set my mind on studying in a polytechnic. Three years of polytechnic flew past and I scored mediocre grades. Not good enough for a local university, but I got a place in US college. Fair enough again since I never really wanted to attend a local university and I was lucky that my family could afford sending me overseas. Four years apart from my family in an unfamiliar country really opened my eyes. There was a pressure to do well as most of the other Singaporeans in the college were on scholarship and were expected to score a high GPA. I took that as motivation to study hard and finally earned a degree with honours. Of course, that degree got me a good and well-paying job. After two years, I quit and became a homemaker.

Moral of the story? I scored shit grades for O’levels and an average GPA in polytechnic, yet I managed to get to college and earn a degree with honours. So what? After that, I still ended up being a homemaker. Grades do matter a little, but they don’t write your life. Life is about the choices you make and the experiences you learn from. There are so many things that cannot be taught from books but must be learnt through experience. Do I regret my decisions in life? Maybe a little…definitely could have put in more effort in studying a lot earlier. But do I regret how my life has turned out? No. I have chosen this path to walk in life and along the way I’ve learnt so many things. These experiences become a part a me and shape who I am.

Many a time I’ve overheard students telling their friends that their parents expect them to end up with at least a Master’s degree. Are you even sure that’s what you want for yourself? Or is that just your parents’ wishes? Having a goal in life and working towards it is good, but you must be aware that there can be changes along the way. Again, no one knows what the future holds. Your thoughts may change due to whatever reason and you divert from your original path. And who’s to say this diversion is not good?

Kiasu Parenting

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. You hear of parents sending their two or three-year-olds for this and that enrichment class. Then, you hear of students going for two tuition sessions for the same subject. Parents, are you raising kids or zombies? Is all this really necessary? You didn’t go through this kind of childhood and you turned out fine, didn’t you?

If you think about it carefully, it again goes back to what characterises your life? Only grades? Or more than that?

As a mum-to-be, I can only say that I hope that my child does well in all aspects of life and not just be book smart. The last I want is a child that answers “studyyyyy~~~” like a robot when someone asks him/her what he/she does in his/her free time. (True story, by the way.)

While parents can hope that their child excels in everything, you should know by now that every kid is different. Each person has his strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same for education. Some have the aptitude for academics, others don’t. As parents, you can give your child a little push to make sure he doesn’t play too much and neglect his studies, but you shouldn’t go overboard. Everyone has a breaking point and you really don’t want your child (or even yourself) to reach that.

see you again someday, my friend

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is to check my phone. The usual…Whatsapp, LINE, Facebook, etc. Social media has indeed made the world a little smaller; news reaches us a lot faster. Except, I really didn’t want to wake up to this piece of sad news.

I wish it were some cruel joke or rumour that we sometimes see being passed around on Facebook. But no, the source of the news is credible. Days ago, I was still commenting on an article that you posted about Tesco making a blunder. And now, you are gone.

I remember you being an advocate of social media and its uses in the modern world for PR and communications. As much as you were a teacher, you were also keen to learn from your students. I saw the twinkle in your eye when you viewed our presentations for an assignment. I imagined that you were amazed at what some of your students could do.

You were more than a TA and mentor to me; you were a friend. When I graduated and went to say goodbye, you sat me down and talked to me about my future plans for education. Despite your wish that I consider going to grad school, you respected my decision that I was not ready yet, and that I wanted to go home and settle down with work and family. When you became a Professor, you were kind enough to keep reminding me that your promise of writing me a letter of recommendation for grad school still stood. When I decided to stop working, I wrote to you about it and you respected my decision. You have always respected my decisions in life (education) and work. Thank you so much.

If I have one regret, that would be that I’ll never have the chance to show you around my home. I have been hoping that one day you will stop by Singapore and I can let you taste all the good food we have here.

Life is indeed too precious and time waits for no one.

I will miss you, my friend. I will especially miss writing to you every Christmas.

Rest in peace, Owen Kulemeka. Till we meet again someday.

what’s in your heart?

I’m halfway through a rather interesting anime titled ココロコネク (Kokoro Connect). At first I thought it was a romance anime, but it turned out to be not quite that. It’s a little deeper than just about the friendship between five high-schoolers.

These five friends find themselves in unlikely situations all because of a spirit called Heartseed, who is able to control their thoughts and souls. In the first part, Heartseed switches their souls with their bodies. They learn about each other’s real selves through the experience. Just as they figured out one another, Heartseed begins another experiment by making them act upon their real desires/thoughts without any interference from their consciences or ability to reason.

I couldn’t help but begin to think what if it happened in real life. I think I could handle body swapping, but acting upon my real desires/thoughts? I think I’ll just end up hurting a lot of people just like the characters in the anime did. And of course, what do we do when we have such thoughts? We keep them inside (restrained by our ability to reason) or stay away from the people whom we think we’ll end up hurting. Again, just like the characters in the anime did.

Then, one of the characters said this:

If you play it safe the whole time, you’ll lose what’s important to you.

— 後藤先生

The meaning of his advice was to talk to the very people we want to prevent ourselves from hurting them. He believes that only by talking things out, can there be a possibility of reconciliation of friendship. If you stay away from the person, nothing can be done and soon the friendship will fade away.

I think that statement is rather powerful by itself. I can’t help but start thinking about my own relationships with my friends and family.

finding the time to invest

I have been a full-time housewife for a while now. While most would assume that I’m living it up, I’m actually gaining knowledge on personal finance and investment. Of course, I still find the time to do a lot of leisure things that I wouldn’t be able to do previously.

During the day, I read finance blog articles and one caught my eye — How Do You Find the Time to Learn Investing. Everybody says the same thing whether they are keen or not in learning about investing, they simply have no time to start. The author of the article argues that it’s not about time management but how we harness our energy.

That’s a possibly theory, but I really think it’s about how much you want to get your butt down to things. Trust me, I had zilch knowledge when I started and to make things worse, I was somewhat “forced” to learn about it. My only idea of money then was: the more the better because that means I can buy more stuff that I like. Of course, the husband would not take no for an answer to learning about personal finance and investment. It was either you learn and start making yourself useful or you jolly well go out to work. So one of the goals of investing simply became to earn enough through investments to justify why I’m not working. It may sound rather silly to set such a goal, but I guess that gave me a push and a little reason to start learning.

The ride hasn’t been easy at all. As we all know, we tend to drag our feet on tasks that we simply have no interest in. Till this day, even after I’ve already levelled up a little on my investment knowledge, I still drag my feet sometimes to read those printed investment articles or find the answers to investment-related questions the husband has. The temptation to do a million other leisure things is just too great compared to reading up on asset allocation or how to hedge currency risk when buying foreign ETFs.

But there are times when I find the energy to search for answers to things I don’t know. Like how I borrowed a book by Adam Khoo on stocks from the library and made it a point to actually read all of it. By the way, that really helped me understand a lot more about investing in stocks. Or how about when I had a debate with my friend on bonds and endowment plans? I had no idea what an endowment plan was and I actually researched on it. To be quite honest, my recent meeting with an insurance agent who was trying to sell me an endowment plan spurred me even further.

There’s still a lot I don’t know, but that just means I got to keep learning. There’s really no easy way out if you want to learn about personal finance and investment. Even when you start investing, you simply cannot have the naive thinking that you’ll make big bucks overnight. It takes time, effort and perhaps a few mistakes along the way. But isn’t that the same for learning any other thing?

So, to my friends who have showed a little interest in the subject, please ditch your “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know where to begin” excuses. I am the proof you need to tell you that it’s doable. If you really want to begin but need a little guidance, I am more than happy to point you to a few resources for beginners, but the rest is up to you.

And to those who say they have no money and cannot be bothered with personal finance, good luck to your future. If you don’t want to begin to change things, nobody can help you. But be warned that we live in a world where reality is harsh. If you don’t already know, the rate of inflation is higher than the bank’s rate of interest for your money in your savings account. I’m not saying that you must do what I do, after all, our financial backgrounds are all different. What I’m saying is that you need to begin saving and planning for your future. If you find yourself chronically in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, examine what has gone wrong in your planning and make the necessary adjustments to make sure your savings are actually growing and not dwindling.

tired of the world

Just watching the drama on Amos Yee unfold on Facebook. Some of us would recognise him as the boy who acted in Jack Neo’s movie. If you don’t know what happened, Amos got arrested for posting a hate video where he rejoiced over Lee Kuan Yew’s death and made some remarks about the Christian faith. And this is not the first time he has gotten into trouble. How did a cute boy grow up to be so spiteful and hateful?

There are now other articles on him that portray what he used to be like when he was in Secondary school. You can read them here and here.

On the surface, he might seem like an arrogant, attention-seeking little twit, but I think this boy truly needs help before he destroys himself. From the various articles on him, he seems to be an intelligent and articulate person. One who does not silently swallow injustice, but speaks up what he thinks is not done right. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I think he does not understand that most people cannot accept such boldness and that people can disagree with his view. To counter his view, they end up telling him off that he has no right to do so. In which, he ends up feeling sore about the situation. Over time, he grows up being known as the misfit and people shun him. This only leads to him feeling more hate for everyone and everything around him.

It is tiring to be unjustly told off all the time. You’re trying to find a place for yourself in this world, but it seems everyone is just against you and unwilling to hear you out. In the end, the hatred in you just grows and consumes you.

What I think he needs is the patience and concern from people to hear him out. Let him figure out his own emotions. Then guide him how to react appropriately when people do not want to consider his view. Instead of giving up when people react like “I am your senior, so you should just listen to me”, he should give himself a chance to explain his thoughts and give other people a chance to see things from his point of view.

rude relatives and relations

Rude relatives and relations, oh what would you do without them? They criticise every damn thing about you and all you can do is pretend that it doesn’t get to you.

The closest one to me has already said that I can’t do household chores and cook. She proclaims that I know nuts about fashion, make up, investment, etc. She even told me I’m too kiddy to be a mother. (Basically, she thinks she’s the guru to everything.)

Just this weekend, another close one commented that I’m fat (or rather, my butt is big). Why, thank you very much. As if I didn’t know that I have put on weight since Secondary school, you just had to say it out loud point blank and laugh about it. Someone related, but not by blood, jumped to my defense at that statement.

Why is it that someone NOT RELATED BY BLOOD is so much nicer? Yes, she tells me when I’ve put on weight, but she does it gently and out of concern. Not to poke fun or say it just to feel like she’s above everyone.

I have my armour to protect myself, but even the thickest of walls is vulnerable to damage over time.

keeping yourself covered adequately

Some time last month, I wrote an entry about taking care of your health and keeping yourself covered with medical insurance. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure that you and your loved ones (especially if you have ageing parents) are adequately covered.

Up until the day I moved out of the family home, my dad has been the one buying the necessary insurance and managing the family’s coverage. His hope was that one day his children would take over the responsibility of managing their own insurance matters. The day is here, but I guess it is regrettably a bit late. After seeing how hospital bills can add up to the five-figure range with my father-in-law and managing his insurance claims, I resolved to make sure my own parents were well covered. I found out that my mum was only covered under the Basic Medishield plan, while my sister was covered under an integrated shield plan for up to government-restructured hospital A ward. My mum has always been adamant about going to a private hospital and staying in A ward. Therefore, with their current plans, it didn’t seem enough. However (much to my dismay), my mum and sister’s plans cannot be upgraded due to their medical conditions. My mum is diabetic and my sister is undergoing treatment for depression. My insurance agent told me that underwriting for medical insurance is very strict.

So what’s my point of writing this entry? Yes, while most Singaporeans are covered under Basic Medishield (unless they opt out), the coverage is only up to government-restructured hospital B2 or C wards. I’m not saying that everyone should buy an integrated shield plan as supplement, but depending on your income level and lifestyle, it may be a good idea to look into it. Do it while you’re healthy…and especially while your parents are healthy. As age catches up, so do health problems.

The other part of my entry is more to whine a little about how unfair it is that people who are not born healthy, have to be excluded in getting themselves covered. While my mum insists that she is not born a diabetic, we all know that her side of the family has a history with diabetes and for the longest time, I’ve known her to be a diabetic. My grandparents were diabetic and so is my aunt. Even if she wasn’t born with that condition, it is more likely to be passed down genetically. From a business point of view, I can understand why insurance companies do not want to cover unhealthy people. They are a liability (so to speak) anyway as their risk of getting hospitalised or seeking treatment is higher. But from a human point of view, I just can’t get my head round the idea that people not born healthy have to be excluded just like that. Hellooooo, they didn’t ask to my born unhealthy. The hubby tried explaining it from another angle which helped me accept a little (if not fully) this rule. He said that if these people were included and they really had to be make more claims, the premiums for everyone would go up (since it’s based on shared risk) and the healthy ones (like me) would not like that right? Sigh, I guess he has a point.

Anyway, friends or anyone else reading this, if you have no clue about this insurance stuff and want some help, I’ll be happy to share what I know. Yup, this has been my job since I became a homemaker. Reading up on and understanding insurance and investment related matters.