Monday, February 23, 2015

Meh the huat be with you

CNY is a very big deal in our family, especially in terms of the food. We were very glad of the long weekend this year. We made a trip to Chinatown for my mil to get her usual array of waxed duck and sausages.

Kenneth managed to find a really nice kumquat plant this year.

More huat for the Hedgehogs, please!

A tradition we've kept all these years - serving tea to Grandma on CNY morning.

On the first day of CNY, Kenneth's extended family comes over for lunch. For this mega event, my mil and helper start preparing and cooking almost a week before. Look at the drool-worthy feast!

Lesley-Anne is usually the appointed photographer but this year, she got tired of taking the usual shots and went with a more unconventional theme. (Lego minifigures supplied by Andre).

Somewhere along the milky way
Darth Vader: Noooooooooo!
Darth Vader: Yeeeeeeeeesss!
I came in like a wrecking boar!
Where's chew-bak-kwa?
For the non-Star Wars fans, this is for you (though it would be funnier if you'd watched the Lego Movie).

Trust your instincts...
Must conquer...
Everything is awesome!!

Goat Xi Fa Cai, everybodeeee!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Much Ado About Nothing

Act 1, Scene 1

Monica is working in her office. Enter Andre.

Andre: *takes a few sheets of tissue paper from Monica's box*

Monica: "I thought you ran out a few days ago? Why didn't you just get yourself a new box?"

Andre: "I told you I ran out. I thought you would get a box for me."

Monica: "Take it yourself! You're so lazy. Why do I have to do everything for you?"

Andre *pouts*: "You're so selfish."

Monica *taunting*: "Selfish, shellfish. So I'm an oyster."

Andre: "An oyster is not a shellfish!"

Monica: "What do you mean? Of course it is!" *googles* "There, Wiki says a shellfish can refer to anything from clams and oysters to lobster and shrimp!"

Andre *protesting*: "You were the one who said Wiki was not reliable!"

Enter Lesley-Anne.

Andre: "Jie, jie, are oysters shellfish?"

Lesley-Anne *confused*: "Huh?"

Monica *reads from Wiki*: "'Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms'. What on earth..."

Lesley-Anne *thinks hard*: "Well, if the broad definition is exoskeleton, then probably yes..."

Monica: "Oysters have shells! So they're shellfish!"

Lesley-Anne: "That's not the definition of shellfish! Snails have shells too! Are they shellfish then?"

Enter Kenneth.

Andre: "Daddy, are oysters shellfish? They're not, right?"

Kenneth *tries to remember his ancient biology notes*: "No...Yes they are. No wait, technically, they're molluscs."

Monica: "Says here molluscs are shellfish!"

Several minutes of heated debate. Finally...

Kenneth: "How did this topic even come up?"

Monica: "Oh, we were arguing over a box of tissue..."

Kenneth: ?????

Lesley-Anne: "I don't even."

Exit stage left.

Monday, February 2, 2015

See Dot Run

One of Lesley-Anne's 'A' level subjects is English Language and Linguistics (ELL) and part of it involves learning how to write for different audiences. Last year, one of their exercises was to write a short story for children with simple syntax (sentence structures).

Sounds legitimate enough. However, the example that the teacher showed the class was a story from one of those archaic Peter and Jane books:

Some of the students baulked at the tired cliches and decided to put their own spin on the assignment. This was Lesley-Anne's contribution:

Kate has a dog. The dog is white and its name is Dot. Mom and Dad love Kate and Kate loves Dot. Kate loves to play fetch with Dot.

One day, they go to the beach. Kate is afraid of the water so she stands on the sand. But Dot loves the water so she runs into the sea. Kate throws a shell into the sea. Dot runs to fetch it. They play the game for a long time. Kate and Dot are happy.

Kate throws a shell. The shell flies far into the sea. Dot runs after it. The waves are big and strong and the water splashes about. Kate cannot see Dot anymore. She runs to the edge of the sea. She is scared. She starts calling for Dot. She throws more shells.

But the dog does not come back.

She keeps throwing shells anyway.

Little Miss Macabre. I told Lesley-Anne if kids ever read that, they'd be traumatised for life! Fortunately, she didn't have to hand it up in the end because I'm not sure the teacher would have approved of such a ghoulish tale.

A few months later, the ELL class received another minor assignment to write a story for a brochure informing children about responsible pet ownership. Lesley-Anne's output was a prequel to her Kate and Dot story:

Kate was lonely. She wanted a pet to keep her company. So she set off in search of the perfect pet. She peeped at rabbits in their hutches. She watched fishes in their tanks. She spotted alley cats near the road. 

But Kate liked dogs best. On she went in search of the perfect dog. One was too lazy and slept all day. One was too hyper and jumped onto Kate. One was too noisy and barked all day. One was too shy and hid from Kate. 

One time, she seemed to have found the perfect dog. But it was too furry and Kate could not brush its fur. Another time, the dog was too big. Kate could not walk the dog. The dog walked her.

Kate was walking along the beach. She was still lonely. She picked up a shell and threw it into the ocean. Lo and behold! The perfect dog ran into the water and picked up the shell. Kate was afraid of the water. She stood on the shore while the dog stood in the water.

“Hello!” called Kate.

The dog looked up. It stood there quietly looking at Kate. It was not too noisy. It was not too furry. It was not too big.

“Come, dog!” said Kate. “Come and play with me!”

The dog ran over and put the shell in Kate’s hands. It sat quietly at her feet. It was not too lazy. It was not too hyper. It was not too shy.

“I’ll call you Dot!” cried Kate.

The dog barked a reply. It wagged its tail and smiled. Dot was perfect.

Kate threw the shell into the sea. She saw Dot run to fetch it. They played the game for hours. Kate laughed and Dot woofed. The two best friends spent the whole day at the beach. Their game could have gone on forever.

And Kate was happy. 

Can you tell that I have a morbid daughter? When you read this in isolation, it sounds like a perfectly pleasant story but as a back story to the previous exercise...shudder. The teacher never got around to marking the assignment, so Lesley-Anne doesn't know how she did.

Personally, I love it when kids show creativity and dare to think outside the boundaries. When we conduct writing workshops, we always encourage the kids to be as imaginative and original as possible. However, I'm realistic enough to know that not every teacher or examiner would agree.

Ah well. At least I know that if all else fails, Lesley-Anne can pursue a career as a horror script writer.

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