Monday, January 20, 2014

Kung Fu Swim

I am sure you have heard of Kung fu Soccer made popular by Stephen Chow, the actor which was a hit many years ago. Have you heard or seen Kung fu Swim then?

I certainly have and the star of this unique style of swimming is none other than our boy, Ryan Looi. Yes, he loves swimming and he adores kung fu, the fist fights and the kicks. And the best moment he enjoyed the most during his twice a week swimming lessons with his coach Mr Lee, are towards the end of the session where he gets to play and have fun with his coach.

Look mommy, I am flying .....

At the end of each session, his coach will reward him by tossing him high into the air and letting him do his stunt before splashing into the water. He is quite a sensation, I must say at the swimming pool each time, they do this because, many parents would be staring in disbelief and and marveled at how agile and daring this tiny little boy is, having no fear, as it were of the water or the height.

The Eagle stance flying through the air ...

The Bruce Lee's high kick ....

Just a couple of days ago, I took him for his usual swimming lessons. We were a little early. His trainer was still teaching another kid. The moment, Ryan changed into his swimming costume, put on his cap and goggle and the next thing he did, was jumped straight into the deep end without any hesitation.

Jumping into the pool with style ...

There was another mommy who was there watching his daughter swim, and I could see her mouth gasped as she pointed at Ryan. I could see her disbelief and concern, I am sure, thinking that Ryan was reckless. Then I can see that her facial expression turned into one of envy the moment Ryan's head popped up from the water and started his first breaststroke lap.

She came over later and asked if Ryan was our son and how old he is and how long he has been swimming. 

Words cannot described how proud we were, when we happily declared that he is and he is only 5. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Swimming like a Fish

Although Ryan has always wanted me to stay through his hourly swimming lesson, I have often opted not to, because the indoor swimming pool tends to get rather stuffy and hot (even in winter) since the pools are heated and I always ended up with a splitting headache after staying there for 30 minutes.

Ryan doing a backward flip into the pool for me to take this picture...

He was his usual self, asking us to stay behind after dropping him off at the pool for his lessons. Since my wife and Chenya came along, we decided to stay to watch his progress. After all, this would be his 58th hourly lesson since we started him off one year ago with Mr Lee, his coach. We knew that Ryan has learnt much and came a long way but seeing him swim that evening was simply awesome.

The moment he changed into his swimming suit and had his cap on, he jumped right into the adult pool. His coach was already there waiting for him. He put Ryan through some simple warm up exercises in the pool and then sent him off to practice his breaststroke, which was the very first swimming style that Ryan learnt.

Ryan coming up for air as he did his breaststroke ...

I sat there, watching him swimming from end to end of the pool, each lap measuring 50 meters. Ryan is a small size boy and it is rather cute to see his tiny frame floating across the pool with his tiny head, popping up every so often for catch his breath before it disappeared again into the water ...

I started to count the number of laps that he is doing while his coach urges him on, screaming instructions and corrections, to make sure that his technique is right. Second, third, fourth, fifth and so on. I started to realize that the coach is now not just ensuring that Ryan knows how to swim but having the right technique to swim the breaststroke to maximize speed, as if he was being trained for Olympics. To my disbelief, he actually swam TEN laps of 50 meters each continuously without stopping. That was an amazing 500 METERS for a 5 years old boy. I can't even do three continuously but then again, I can't swim!

Then, after a short breather, he was put through his paces with his free style and then his backstroke, all of which he demonstrated with such ease and little difficulties.

Ryan doing his freestyle ....

Ryan doing his backstroke ....

It has always been our dream to see our son swim like a fish and whenever we see a child swim the entire length of the pool, we wish that Ryan could do the same. Sitting there, that evening, I realized that our dream has been realized. There he was, swimming the entire length of the pool, not once but ten times, and not just in one style but three.

Finally, the coach took Ryan through his paces on his most current technique, the butterfly. Although his timing and his coordination is still not exactly right, I can see his determination to learn and to master it and that was exactly, what his coach sees too.

"He is a very determined child. He does not have the physical strength but his mental strength is amazing." Lee shared with us.

Ryan with his coach whom he adores....Lee

Well, Ryan, as parents, we believed that this is one of the best gift that we have given you, apart from all the toys that you have been receiving...the skill to swim like a fish, a skill that will last a lifetime, a skill that we hope will strengthen your self confidence.

A Tree For His School

Ryan's school had a Christmas party just before Christmas and the school closed for the Christmas season recently. Parents were invited and were requested to bring some food or drinks to the party. We were scratching our heads as to what to bring for the party. I am definitely not one into baking and hence baking Christmas cookies was definitely out of the question. We were thinking of buying some fruits but we were uncertain as to what fruits we should be buying and who is going to cut it for the kids. Moreover, we were quite certain that there would already be fruits at the party.

Then, the idea of presenting the class with a Christmas Tree and some ornaments came upon us. We made a quick call to the school as to whether that would be OK. They more than welcome the idea.

We believe that the tree would be a more 'lasting' gift because they could use it for several years (hopefully) and it fits in nicely with the theme and festive period of the season.

Ryan, Mommy and Chenya enjoying their snacks ...

Hence, we rushed back to the vendor where we got our own tree. She was too happy to see us when we told her that we wanted an exact tree and four boxes of shinny ornaments. My wife, of course was the negotiator and by the time, she finished with her bargaining, the vendor (she) and her were practically best of friends. The vendor was an equally shrewd businesswoman herself. I guessed that they finally found someone to match their wits and crossed swords and were happy and satisfied at the end of the day.

The children taking part in the unpacking the tree ....

The children at the class were all excited when they learnt that they were getting a Christmas Tree. Ryan, of course, was running up and down telling everyone that his mommy and daddy were the ones would bought the tree and he has one similar one at home. Everyone took part in the unpacking of the tree and took turns to put up the ornaments with some help from the teachers and some parents.

"Now, how am I going to organize this and get them to work together without fighting ??????"

All in all, it was interesting to see how the children came together to get it done without crashing the tree, and helping each other out with the taller children decorating those parts of the tree where the younger ones could not reach.

With them putting up their ornaments, the tree somewhat became `their' tree and that sense of belonging.

The children all taking part in putting up the ornaments to decorate the tree ...

We actually suggested to the teachers if they could just get each student in the class to write their name and year on an ornament and put them on the tree, hence, leaving behind a mark that they have been there before. Over the years then, one could see all the children who have had a hand in decorating the tree every Christmas as way of remembrance.

Ryan with Jeff, the Santa Claus and Grace, two of his favorite teachers in the world right now ....

I certainly hope that our little gift has somewhat made this Christmas more memorable and exciting for Ryan and his little friends in his class.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Putting Up The Tree

We will be spending Christmas this year in Beijing and I certainly hope that it would be a white Christmas. The temperature has already plunged below zero but snow is slow this year. However, Christmas is still a week away and there is hope yet.

I packed my 7 foot Christmas tree from Malaysia when we shifted over to Beijing last year and we opened up the box to put up the tree last year, we  found that the stand for the tree was damaged in the shifting. Hence, we have not tree in Beijing last year.

The new Christmas tree that we put up this year in Beijing ..

This year, since we are staying put in Beijing for Christmas and no Christmas is complete without a tree, we went out to buy a new one. We were told that they were much cheaper here but we have no idea how cheap they really were until we got ours. We bought a new 5 footer with fiber optic lights, just like the one we had, for only RMB150 (RM75)!!! I remembered that we bought ours back in Malaysia for RM400 (RMB800) at a special discount and we had to drive all the way to Petaling Street to get it!

This would be the first year that Chenya could help in decorating the tree and she had fun, both helping and fighting with her brother while helping of course. Daddy was busy in putting up the ornaments while mommy was busy with the camera (or busy figuring out how to use the camera).

We also bought a Christmas wreath to hang on our door for the very first time. I have always wanted to buy one and hang on our doors for so many years but they were so so expensive back in Malaysia that I could not bear to pay the price to buy one. After much bargaining, of which my better half is pretty good at, we managed to get one that we like for a steal. Only RMB70 (RM35)! 

In fact, when Ryan had a Christmas party in school last week and we were asked to contribute some food, we contributed a similar tree instead of food, so that the children could put up the tree and hang up the ornaments themselves. And the tree can be used for a few years to come and we told the teachers that it would be a cool idea to get the kids to write their names and year and hang it up on the tree. Hence, over the years, they can actually see ornaments belonging to different kids who have been to that class previously.

More of that and pictures in the next post.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ryan in The BeijingKids Magazine

The much awaited December 2013 issue of the Beijingkids expat magazine is finally out. We have been eagerly waiting for it because Ryan would be featured in it, promoting a Northeastern Chinese cuisine restaurant known as Liulaogen located at Dongcheng District.

Ryan featured promoting a Northeastern Chinese cuisine Restaurant in the December 2013 issue of the BEIJINGKIDS

He was invited by the magazine to be photographed, promoting this restaurant last month, after we wrote in with pictures of both Ryan and Chenya, informing that we would be glad if either one of them could be given opportunities to be used as models for their magazines. Our sole purpose is to provide them with the commercial photography exposure and experience.

I did not think that the invitation would come so fast but came it did, one month later.

Well, I must said that Ryan was a super easy child model to work with because he was just super friendly and obedient on set and did everything that was asked of him, without raising a fuss. On top of that, he actually enjoyed tasting the food that was put before him and that made the photographer's job so much more easier.

He was enjoying his food so much that the writer wrote in her column "During the shoot, our photographer had to stop to let the model finish a piece because he found it "too yummy to concentrate on the camera."

It was certainly a `First' for everyone at home. Hopefully, he would get more invitations in the future, not so much for the money (that would be good too) or the free stuff (I would not mind having any of that) but more so, for his own personal exposure and experience.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Legend of Kung Fu

As far as I can remembered, Ryan has always been interested in kung fu and has been demonstrating and posing with his self taught moves in a lot of his pictures as far back as when he was only two. He was agile, flexible and above all, focus and passionate for the art.

Ryan, his friend Slevin and his head coach posing with the performers on stage after the show 'The Legend of Kung Fu'

Hence, as I have posted in one of my earlier post, we wasted no time, in registering him to one of the Shaolin kung fu classes for children his age when we finally found one bear our place. He has been practicing and learning his Shaolin kung fu for a couple of months now and had learnt quite a number of impressive moves which include his signature eagle, tiger and snake stance, all of which he is just too eager to demonstrate whenever he has a chance. Chenya is picking up her kung fu `moves' too, imitating his brother, watching from the sidelines.

Ryan going through his kung fu moves during training every Sunday afternoon.

His head coach seemed to have a special liking for him and at times, pushed him to practice with some older kids or used him to demonstrate some moves to the younger ones, all of which Ryan was just too please.

Ryan with his kung fu stance, taken during our holiday trip to Club Med Bali in 2011. We had always wanted him to learn wushu properly. Little did imagine, that he is now learning Shaolin Kung Fun in BEIJING, CHINA!

Recently, his class organized an evening to watch the well received 'The LEGEND OF KUNG FU' performance at the Red Theatre in Beijing ( Ryan was over the moon. Honestly, so was I as I have always, always been amazed with the`seemingly super human' feats that this monks could do. It was a family affair. We got special discounts for our seats and only had to pay RMB260 (RM130) for the RMB325 seats and it was 90 minutes performance.

Right from the word go, Ryan was sitting at the edge of his seat, eyes glued to the stage as the monks of all ages, leaped, jumped, somersaulted and `flew' with amazing flexibility and ease, occasionally yelling in recognition, some stance that he could identified with... "Tiger!!! Monkey!!! Eagle ...!!!"

Pictures from The Legend of Kung Fu website

The show was spectacular both as far as the stage production is concerned as well as the high quality of performance from the performers, bringing forth the message of the true value and meaning of practicing kung fu, their quest in training their body likened to rock and steel, as protectors of peace.

And where was Chenya in all this? Silently being cuddled by her mommy, hanging on to her trusty napkin, her thumb comfortably in her mouth, and her eyes peeled, constantly on a lookout for performers dropping from the ceiling or coming out from the side doors.

They must have been impressed by the performance. Why? Because I caught Chenya that night, smiling and with her eyes still closed, laughed and yelled "Very good (in Cantonese) and clapped" and continue sleeping.

And Ryan? He now inspired to be as good and wants to be able to break a metal bar over his head!!!!!! Not wanting to disappoint him, we told him that he could do that in due time and he need to practice harder and eat more to build up enough muscles and strength.

I just found out that they organized special tours to visit the Shaolin Temple. Emmmm...that would sound interesting, don't you think?   

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I hate the word ACUTE

There is one word that I fear the most here in Beijing. And that dreaded word is ACUTE.

Why? Because, every time, both the kids fall sick and when we bring them to the hospital for treatments, this dreaded word will almost always appear in their diagnosis.

It seemed that everything that they were infected here were ACUTE.

Both kids enjoying some rare moments, playing together without fighting and quarreling. Ryan was pretending that he was on his high power motorcycle, bringing Chenya for a ride.

With winter kicking in recently and temperature plummeting from high 30's during summer to sub zeroes in winter coupled with strong chilling wind, the entire family has been under the weather for almost two weeks now.

Both the kids are back to school today after over two weeks of coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, running nose and more coughing. Daddy and mommy were not spared either. Both of us were also done with fever, coughing and diarrhea.

At first, Chenya came down with diarrhea and was diagnosed as Rotavirus. Before she recovered, Ryan was down and while both were recovering, both mommy and daddy were infected. When both Ryan and Chenya finally recovered from their diarrhea, Chenya caught the flu bug and was down with fever. By then, Ryan came down with a nasty cough and fever. 

He was first diagnosed with ACUTE upper respiratory infection. By the second day of infection, his cough got worse and was `barking' like a seal at night, leaving everybody with very little sleep. We brought him to the hospital again and this round, we was diagnosed with ACUTE laryngotracheobronchitis or CROUP COUGH! We were warned that the virus is infectious and air borne. We were worried sick because the last thing we wanted was Chenya coming down with it, especially since she is only two. We had to split up the kids in separate bedrooms since just to make sure.

I just hope that the worst is over and that we could now get through the winter with less drama and hopefully enjoy our very first WHITE CHRISTMAS here in Beijing.

"Dashing through the snow, In a one-horse open sleigh...
O'er the fields we go, laughing ALL THE WAY! .."