On LKY, F&F7, Easter and relaxation

Note: all flowers pictured below grew in my garden during winter 2014.

Well, lots of events have happened since the hubby returned on March 14. For one thing, the kids and I have finished the second quarter of our schoolyear (we need to finish one schoolyear within one academic year otherwise my children will be dropped).

Theoretically, completing an academic year within one calendar year is not an impossibility. However, the requirements of having to show five tests per subject per child per quarter truly drives me to depression. And procastination. Maybe. Because. I’m not a professional teacher. Heck, I avoided the teaching profession when I was at university. I would see the education majors walking across the campus and I would pity them, thinking about how they’d need to check assignments and plan lessons at home.

So it’s ironic that here I am, a homeschooling mother who plans lessons while cooking and who checks assignments in between putting dirty laundry into the washer and dreaming of taking a vacation in Italy.

My favorite flower: the pink rose.
My favorite flower: the pink rose. This one grew from a stem cutting last winter.

Anyway, homeschooling is not why I am blogging today. On weekends, I take a break and, being an out-of-sight and out-of-mind person, completely forget about HSing. Which leads me to panic come Sunday* morning because I can’t remember what I taught the fifth grader for Science or the first grader for English Phonics the previous week. Today it’s Easter Sunday so I’m saved from the tyranny of rushing through the morning because the hubby took the family to the beach and I had a relaxing time chatting to another couple from our hometown.

Rushing and relaxing are the key words right now in my mind. Because. As Singapore mourns the death of Lee Kuan Yew, I was reminded that nation building (or character building for that matter) takes time. Lots and lots of it, in fact. I got wind of LKY’s health in early February when an elderly Chinese mentioned that he’d been admitted to hospital. So. When his death ushered in a look at Singapore’s past, I read the flattering news reports of how he’d led Singapore to become the progressive city-state it now is.

Sadly, spring is when flowers die in the Levant.
Sadly, spring is when flowers die in the Levant.

What most don’t know – even though it has been widely reported in the past – is that Singapore’s strongman had help from a Dutch economist, Albert Winsemius. We lived in Singapore during the 1980s when it celebrated its 25th independence as a nation (did you know that Malaysia forced out Singapore from its federation in August 1965? that LKY never wanted Singapore to exist independent of Malaysia? that LKY cried on national TV over the event?) and believe it or not, the country feted Winsemius like no other. After all, they owed the guy. Here is LKY’s tribute to Winsemius after his death in 1996.

Well, now. Let’s go back to the theme of relaxing. Because. I truly feel my age. Time was. Relaxing meant activities to soothe tired nerves. Today, relaxing has taken on several new dimensions – none of which I recognize. Hmmm. Me, I’m an arts and culture kind of gal. However, being married to an action type of guy has meant giving concessions during times of relaxation, which invariably means indulging in entertainment of the celluloid kind.

My pots of dianthus are slowly dying due to the heat ...
My pots of dianthus are slowly dying due to the heat …

So. We were in theaters yesterday to watch Fast and Furious 7. I didn’t want to go but Abu Dhabi features in the franchise and I was curious as to how Paul Walker’s death would affect the storyline and how the emirate where we’re now was depicted in the film. Plus, our discounted tickets (Dh20 for a ticket with a tub of popcorn and soda!) had finally arrived.

Also, I’m left out whenever mealtime conversations veer towards action movies. I mean, even my eight-year-old daughter can summarize all three Bourne movies as “the story of a guy who forgot his past.” While I stare blankly as the three boys and the hubby discuss scenes from American Sniper, Lone Survivor, Captain Philips, Black Hawk Down, etc … Sigh … the travails of having three sons … with only one daughter, I always lose whenever there’s a vote over what film to view.

Just like last year’s Captain America, the film bored me with its weak plot and threaded-together action scenes although it was evident that it was a well-crafted production. The hubby was disappointed over how Abu Dhabi was depicted (I reminded him “That’s why they made the prince a Jordanian!”) because he felt it was not respectful towards the country’s Muslim culture. Speaking of culture, the scenes set in Abu Dhabi featured the Emirates Palace Hotel, a seven-star hotel, and Etihad Towers, one of the if not the toniest address(es) in town. Just in case you’re wondering if females do parade in two-pieces by the poolside here, well … we were at Dubai’s Atlantis Hotel last June and I assure you, I felt overdressed with all the ladies in bikinis by the pool.

Meanwhile, I noticed Michele Rodriguez’s lack of jewelry with her red dress. In Abu Dhabi, where bling-bling of the real kind reaches pop-your-eyes proportion, no female would dare to go to such a party without jewelry. If you’re wondering whether the party scene in Abu Dhabi reflects the city’s culture realistically, read Jo Tatchell’s Diamond in the Desert (you might even want to read the telling comments!)

Euphorbia mili aka crown of thorns
Euphorbia mili aka crown of thorns

All in all, F&F7 was not a vehicle for relaxation for me. Still, it had a touching tribute to Paul Walker towards the end. Today, my eight-grader and I argued over its merits as a suspense film. Basically, he pointed to the back-to-back action scenes that literally felt like one climax after another and left few moments for the suspense to build up to back up his claim that it was not an action movie. Hearing his defense, I rested my case.

Meanwhile, it’s Easter. And spring. A time for rebirth. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that after months of feeling down over a situation over which I have no control, I have finally let go and let God. Not because I want to – my feelings dictate otherwise. But because I know Him and He knows me. Which is all that matters in the end – knowing God. And that, my friends, is true relaxation – letting go and letting God. Happy Easter!

Crimson double-crested hibiscus
Crimson double-crested hibiscus stand guard beside our gate

PS. I need to say it was a truly relaxing weekend because the hubby kindly ordered takeout two times, we ate out once and so I had minimal kitchen duty! If only all weekends were like this ….

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