Teaching Kids About Money

This Chinese New Year, my preschooler received a grand total of $40 in ang pows. In my humble opinion, that’s 40 times too much for an almost 4 year old.

I was tempted to pocket the cash myself (oh, I mean put it in a bank), but instead I decided to teach my child a bit about money. I was quite reluctant, because honestly, I felt that this money conversation was happening a bit too early.

We sat on the floor and he tore open all his red packets. He was very excited. Then he looked at all the money and went “Wow. What happens now?”

I explained where money comes from – Dad goes to work, works hard and he gets money.
What money is for – Paying for the things we need now : water, food, house, petrol. Paying for the things we need later : education, the future. And buying things we want : A new bike, new sneakers.
How we use the money – use it really carefully, make plans so you don’t use it all up, put some in the bank to save it for the future, give some to others who need help.

I had no idea whether he understood me. So still sitting on the floor, we split the money up. $20 for his piggy bank. $5 for church. $5 for charity. And $10 to spend on something special for the new year.

That should do for now.

Chinese New Year Ball 2007

Last night we went to a Chinese New Year Grand Ball at Burswood Hotel. Every year my dad is quite involved in the organising committee, so our whole family + partners gets to attend.

This year was probably the best it’s ever been – in terms of organisation, performances, the meal, the music and dancing, the awards and speeches, the attendance of government officials. Everything was really well done, and it was all very grand.

I’ve realised that I’ve been going to these Chinese Community functions for over 10 years now. And even though it’s a fixed annual event in my family’s calendar, I still feel like an outsider. I still feel that this is something the “oldies” do. That perhaps my own generation of Australian-Born-Chinese needs to embrace …something before we can feel part of this community.

I’ve come to accept that these huge Chinese celebrations are a part of my life. Every time I walk through the huge doors of the ballroom and hear the lion dance drums ringing in the air, it feels like home.

Bach’s Goldberg

This evening I went to a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, as part of the Perth International Art Festival. It was, to quote the advertising material, “classical music and jazz intersect, as two piano virtuosi meet one musical genius: JS Bach.”

We were given 2 free tickets (in fantastic seats) by a friend of ours. But we couldn’t get a babysitter, so my husband stayed home and I went with a girlfriend.

Now, I enjoy musical performances. Everything from orchestral classics, to more modern pieces; and usually they accompany a theatrical or opera performance.

But this was the first time I went to a piano recital. An enormous concert hall. A huge wooden stage. A grand piano. A stool. And NOTHING else.

In fear of sounding like an uncultured fool… the truth is, I don’t know much about Bach and his works. I can recognise plenty of other famous classical melodies by Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky etc. I could probably even hum them for you. But I probably wouldn’t be able to pick a snippet of Bach if it was playing in, say a toilet paper advertisement.

So when I saw the empty stage, I thought – Oh. I’m not a Bach fan. This might be a problem.

A man walked onto the stage. He bowed. We clapped. He sat down. He played. Like a master.

I went wow. This guy is good. This is most excellent.

After 5 minutes, however.

I was bored. It was not a good sign. The flyer said : This performance lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

I looked about. Hundreds of people, rooted to their seat. Motionless. Silent. Deathly silent. Their heads and eyes were frozen in hypnotic awe. I swear. The only thing moving in that concert hall, was the pianist’s fingers and right foot.

What on earth is going through these people’s heads? What are they thinking about? That woman is wearing a very cool scarf. That guy looks like the Mayor of Perth. The pianist looks like Mr Bean. How do all these people sit so STILL?? Wow this guy’s technique is really impressive. Is his piano seat made out of leather or vinyl? I thought the graphic design for this event’s poster was quite charming.

I couldn’t stop myself. I was having multiple, uncontrollable conversations in my head. About the performance. The people around me. The experience I was having. What we were going to eat for dinner later. What I was going to write on my blog. The unexplained details of the book I’m reading. What’s happening this weekend. Funny things the kids did yesterday. Other really random stuff. The thoughts just kept coming and coming and coming.

In the silence of the concert hall, I was tormented by the unrelenting noise of my imagination. It was torture.

60 minutes later.

I suddenly perked up. I recognised the final canon. And Oh. My. It was exquisite. It was astonishing. I gasped. Then I almost stopped breathing, lest the air in my chest disrupted the staggering beauty of the music. Holy crap I had no words to describe how amazing it sounded. I was spellbound. Frozen in a state of spiritual ecstasy for less than 5 minutes.

Interval.

The next interpretation was very modern. It was contemporary with jazzy overtones. The overall structure seemed similar. But I couldn’t identify any of the original Goldberg in it. Like I would know anyway.

It was definitely much easier to listen to. It had heaps of interesting bits, and the guy’s technique was rather colourful. Especially when he started smashing the keys with clawed fingers, like they do in the cartoons. Haha.

But I must admit, although it kept me engaged for the whole 70 minutes… it didn’t move my soul once. Isn’t that interesting.

[I thought I should include a foot note. These two pianist were highly accomplished and internationally recognised musicians – who fully deserves a better review from someone who doesn’t sit in their pyjamas all weekend watching Battlestar Galactica.]

Banana & Walnut Muffins

We made some yummy muffins for morning tea! I swapped a few ingredients to make them extra healthy. I used no sugar, so it had a lovely bready, nutty flavour.

We ate them straight from the oven, steaming hot with natural yoghurt, honey and blueberries. My kids loved them!

Banana & Walnut Muffin Recipe

225g (8 oz) SF white wholemeal flour
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt
75g (3 oz) butter organic butter
2 medium eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of sugar (or try none)
450g (1lb) banana, weighed with skin. Peeled and mashed.
100g (4 oz) walnuts, chopped

1. Heat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
2. Mix flour, bicarb soda and salt.
3. Cream margarine (and sugar), add the eggs.
4. Stir in sifted flour, bananas and nuts. Mix.
5. Spoon mixture into muffin cases, dividing equally. Bake for 30 minutes until well risen and skewer comes out clean.
6. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.