Monday, April 17, 2017

When boredom turns to creativity

As mentioned, Andre is on a long break and even with his part-time job and lounging around, he was bound to get bored at some point. Some kids like Lesley-Anne, would have no problem filling their time in productive ways, like reading, but we all know this has never been Andre's favourite activity and he wasn't about to start now.

"Play a game with me!" he would pester but to this mum, a two-hour Monopoly game is as mind-numbing as reading maths equations. "Play mini table tennis with me!" asked the hopeful boy, lugging the table into my office. Sometimes, out of sheer guilt, I obliged but after a while, every sedentary bone in my body would whine in chorus, so I fell back on the age-old excuse: "I have to work!"

Left to his own devices, Andre figured he had to find ways to entertain himself. So here: let Andre show you how mini table tennis can be a solo sport. Not just one, but three different ways!

At the start of the holidays, I told Andre he should use the time to do something worthwhile. One of the activities he told me he would do during the break is to restart his piano playing. Those of you who have followed my blog those many years back might remember how I decided to stop his piano lessons when I grew tired of fighting with him about practising. That was back in 2011 and I was mentally prepared that it would be the last time I would hear Andre on the piano. 

So when he told me he wanted to start playing the piano again, I was skeptical, to say the least. (I think my exact words were, "Yeah, riiight! I'll believe it when I see it.") True to form, when he asked me for help, I realised that he had completely returned his few years of music training. I mean, COMPLETELY. This is a boy who had actually passed Grade 5 theory and Grade 4 practical piano exams, but he asked questions typical of a new student, including: "What's a rest?" "What's a bass clef?" "What's this black note with a stick??" DOH!

But then, he started searching and printing out sheet music of pop songs. With just cursory help from me, he diligently plodded through them, note by note. And quite to my astonishment, he stuck with it. Not only did he learn song after song, he even played them from memory. These past few weeks, my piano has sung more than it has over the last few years. I can scarcely believe it.

As a friend said, it's amazing what kids can conjure up when they have enough free time to dream. I whole-heartedly agree. Forget about classes or curriculum to nurture creativity. Just give them time to be bored.

So Andre's no Lang Lang but it's a mini miracle to me that he actually returned to the piano on his own. That makes my heart sing. 💖

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hymn for the weekend

We had a celebratory weekend. First, we had an early birthday celebration for Lesley-Anne because she wouldn't be able to come home the coming weekend. As a surprise for her, we decided to go vegetarian! I say surprise because except for her, we're pretty much carnivores in our household. Even our helper, knowing our preferences, once served macaroni salad as the "salad", much to Lesley-Anne's chagrin.

But hey, it's Lesley-Anne's birthday so we eat what she likes! After some surfing, we decided to go to Original Sin at Holland Village, which many consider THE place for vegetarian food. Here are our orders:

Feta cheese balls
Broccoli pesto pasta
Absolut - penne in pink sauce
Fried corn fritters for grandma
Cannelloni verde
I say this unreservedly: everything was delicious. And I mean, everything. Even the cannelloni verde, which doesn't look like much in the picture, was super tasty. After the meal, Kenneth said, "if all vegetarian food tasted like this, I can easily go vegetarian!"

Ok, so it's quite pricey, which would be the only reason stopping us from making this a regular haunt, but if you're looking for a nice vegetarian treat with lots of options, I highly recommend this place.

Dessert was, of course, birthday cake at home - Over the Moon cheesecake from cheesecake specialist, Cat & the Fiddle.    

This is the year she enters her 20s and I shall refrain from going into the usual lament of "where did my baby go?" as I do every year. But seriously, WHERE DID MY BABY GO??? 😆😆

The second "celebratory" event of the weekend was the Coldplay concert I attended with Andre. I just HAD to write about this because it was one of those incredible experiences that you don't just remember but bask in for a long time.

Perhaps it's no secret that I consider Coldplay the most, musically brilliant band of our time. In my book, The Good, the Bad and the PSLE, I named some of the chapter titles after their songs. When they burst into the scene in 2000 with Parachutes, they caught the world's attention with their very different and intriguing sound. Then A Rush of Blood to the Head propelled them to fame and there was no looking back. 17 years later, they are still mesmerising the world with their iconic musical style, meditative (and sometimes trippy) lyrics reminiscent of the Beatles, and often earworm-inducing melodies. With the exception of Ghost Stories, which I personally feel was an insipid letdown, each of their other 6 albums is exceptional.

I attended the last Coldplay concert in Singapore in 2009 with Kenneth at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and it made such an impression that I promised myself I would bring the kids if they ever played again in Singapore. Unfortunately, Lesley-Anne was uninterested in being at a venue with loud music and 50,000 other people, but Andre was game. Purchasing tickets was a nightmare, as you probably know, with tickets being snapped up within minutes. Fortunately, thanks to a friend, we managed to secure terrific seats.

How can I describe the experience? It was like being in a dream bubble for two hours. The choreography was superb. Psychedelic, kaleidoscope backdrops synchronised perfectly with wristbands (given to the audience) that flooded the stadium with colour. There were pyrotechnics, lasers, balloons - perfectly paced to keep the momentum going.

Chris Martin is the consummate showman. His infectious energy (running and jumping around on stage) kept the audience enthralled. It's no easy feat to engage a 50,000-strong audience for two hours but he did it. Up tempo songs were interspersed with ballads, where his hauntingly plaintive vocals soared. Every time the distinctive opening to a song started, the audience cheered. Viva La Vida, Fix You, The Scientist, Yellow, Hymn for the Weekend, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, Something Just Like This - we lapped it all up.

A very rapt boy

Two hours of unadulterated bliss, according to this Fan Girl. Who says you need drugs to get high 😍. After that, Andre and I lived in a happy glow, even till the very next day. Andre has had Coldplay on loop in his playlist ever since that evening.

I am a firm believer in paying for experiences rather than things...and what an experience that was. A sky full of stars, a head full of dreams. Call it magic. 

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