Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I have 5 mins

She opened her eyes and uttered, " Sea, sand.... friend."

Were you dreaming of the beach darling? When you were playing with the sand?

We just came back from a short trip to D@ha, Q@tar. We spend Friday at The Four Seasons for brunch and a quick sit down at the private beach. Obviously the 30 mins we spent there had a great impression on The Little One. She had found 2 buckets and a spade by the seats and attacked the sand with such gusto, shovelling the sand into the buckets. When the buckets were full, she overturned them and started over again. It looked like it was so much fun that another girl decided to join her. She asked her mother in Arabic pointing to The Little One and I encouraged her to play.

I encouraged The Little One to share her bucket and spade.

Is that what you dreamed about darling? The friend you made at the beach in Doha?

I hope your life will be filled with more memorable moments.


**********************************
I have to salute those mothers with multiple children who handles motherhood like a breeze.

I however am trying to cram laundry, lunch, surfing and TV all in one go. Because The Little One is finally sleeping. She missed her nap yesterday and at the end of the day I was so exhausted, I slept at 9 pm. It doesn't help that I gave the help time off. How other mothers survive without help is just beyond me. Kudos to them.

The Little One's birthday is 4 days away and I have decided that this year we will not have a party. I am crap at organizing parties and at the end of the day she received so many toys, some of which I have begun to give away.

I have to say that I am so thankful for The Little One's fortune. She seems to receive gifts throughout the year and at this time of the year she gets the most fabulous gifts from friends and neighbours. I am truly grateful to them for their kind thoughts. I am amazed how many people think of and for her. I hope her good fortune will continue throughout her life, may she always be loved by everyone around her and may her life will always be in abundance.

OK so no party but as parents we have decided that we are on a mission to create happy childhood memories. That little brain is like a magic sponge now. She remembers too clearly the boat ride she took in Langkawi with Wan, Atuk, Umi, Abah, Kak Nayli, mummy, Daddy and Uncle Ajud. The boat ride was the best money we paid out for.

I know I have been digressing. Truth is I still don't know what to do!

Anyways plans are what we have for next year. How many will materialize? We'll see.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ummi Happy?

On my journey of motherhood I sometimes encounter rocky roads but often time the joy of the journey surprises me out of no where.

I was trying to put The Little One down for a nap yesterday but it wasn't easy. Partly my fault really. I blame it on Mr Krispy Kreme. But anyways, as she was lying down beside me, I said, "You will be the happiest girl in the world and may your life always be filled with happiness."

The Little One with her bright eyes stopped suckling and asked me, "Ummi happy?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Abah happy?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered.

"Little One happy?" I asked her.

"Little One happy," she answered.

She closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.

Does she really know what happy means or is she just emulating me? Can she really grasp the concept of happiness?

Over the past couple of months she has surprised me so much. She knows what she likes or not like with "Not nice." Or what she wants.

Many people have told me that she speaks well. But I didn't think it was extraordinary. According to the BabyCenter she is just right smack on top developmentally. But seriously some words that do come out does sometimes surprise me. It shouldn't really with all the reading and talking I have done with her. Its no different than watching my papaya tree grow in my backyard. I put the seed in the soil with great hope and when the seed grew into a tree, I was pleasantly surprised yet anxious that the tree will bear fruit. Not just any fruit but edible fruits.

So I have to tend both The Little One and papaya tree with great care. Not to pat my back too soon. And continue to persevere. On both good days and bad days.

I've been so busy the past month with my new career. Sometimes I feel I really have to make difficult choices, time for myself or time for my Little One. Do I send her out so I can work, sew, surf, read or do research? Or do I spend my time tending her, enriching her, showering her with love and attention.

I am so torn some days. Torn between my tendency to over commit myself and my desire to enrich my Little Ones's Life. I know its not necessarily one or the other but somedays it feels that way.

I haven't been able to quilt for the past 2 months now. I do miss it a lot and deadlines are looming. But here I am blogging again.

The past month has been so hectic for me and some days I feel I can hardly breathe. I do realize that I am so lucky to be this busy. Many in my shoes are languishing with boredom. Prioritizing became a priority for me. Some invites I had to decline. Some meetings I just cannot arrange and some emails I could not reply. Friends might just find me flaky but at least I am honest to myself. I must learn to decline more.

More importantly, I concentrate on things and people that make ME happy.

I want to remember, that yesterday The Little One, MY Little One asked me if I was happy. And I told her I was.

I am happy.

And Darlings you bring the joy in my life.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thank you

I would like to thank my friends who took the effort to meet up with us when we were back for holidays. And I would like to apologize to those who we didn't get to meet. Time is such a precious commodity on such trips and this being Hari Raya meant we had to divide time between family, friends and relatives not to mention AM's enrichment classes and shopping!

But I have to say that I was very extremely touched by the splendid four who met up with us the night before we flew out. You know who you and and I lap yew! Seriously! Satay never tasted better! I thought I was so over with Satay Hj Samuri but the company made me hungry ;) Your entertaining stories plus the air kelapa was just so fabulous! It was so good to relive old times! Rasa macam zaman dating-dating dulu despite the sleeping child strapped to my chest.

I always feel guilty that I am horrible at keeping in touch. But you guys really are what friendship is all about. Not even time nor distance can break friendships. Sometimes I really do miss the good old days!

Yes I am back here to my "normal" life. Sometimes I am just too tired of making new friends or the need to conform. Hanging out with you made me feel so comfortable and so relieved that I can just be me, the old me.

Adoii mushy plaks ni! OK lain kali taun depan kita jumpa lagi ta kisahlah berempat atau berlapan :)

Thank you guys! I am so lucky I have friends like you!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Why do I commit myself to these things?

Here I am blogging when I am suppose to sew 13 tails. Tails? Yes Tails for some mice. Holiday mice. I have no idea where to start or how the tails will look like except it will be between 30 cm to 40 cm in length.

I actually feel somewhat pressured to do this right. I had a nightmare about it 2 days ago!

Why did I volunteer myself to this? I don't know! Apparently I have also volunteered to help set up a website to provide info about living in this city. On top of that I am suppose to update the Guild website which I haven't done. I have said that I will redesign the banner, again I have not done yet.

And I have to start sewing my Challenge quilt which is due in March. I have not touched my sewing machine since it failed to sew the other day. I spent 3 days looking for the manual.

I could start sewing The Little One's memory quilt project. I plan to use her old clothes to make them into a quilt. Maybe if I give up, I may just give those clothes away.

I could properly unpack and put the clothes away instead of chucking them at a corner.

I could declutter by packing away my old and unwanted clothes since I bought a whole bunch this trip.

Not to mention I am suppose to prepare lessons for my students next week. I have yet to find my hole puncher! Its been a week so I'm giving up. Will be buying a new hole puncher as soon as I can possibly drag HIM to the Mall. I so know that I am so going to find my old hole puncher as soon as I buy the new one!

And what do I do? I blog!

Sometimes I miss the other home

Its almost 2 weeks now since we came back and I have been so busy. I've started teaching again. At first reluctantly because I am somewhat rusty but somehow its all coming back to me now. It helps that the rate is pretty good. I do feel guilty when I have to send The Little One away though. All my other projects have come to a standstill because all my free time is spent searching for teaching materials.

Although we have just only came back, I cannot help feeling somewhat envious when I hear of friends and neighbors going away for the Dec holidays. I seem to remember all too clearly our holiday last year. But we are somewhat skint. I had too much fun during the last trip. It didn't help that the USD went to an all time low.

We will probably go away somewhere during the holidays. The plans are not yet confirmed.

Until then I will keep a hope upon hope and a wish that we would get free tickets home.

Whats the likelihood of that?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Obsessive?

Just to prove that some things have changed for me, my priority was to enroll The Little One into KinderMusik and Gymboree over visiting friends and shopping. I do like my friends and yes I miss them but some how it was very important for me that The Little One is stimulated with something different and enriching.

And boy was I so quickly rewarded. I could see the change in her. We went for a Kindermusik trial session today and she enjoyed herself very much and I was suitably impressed. The teacher was very engaging and each child had his/her own individual minutes with the teacher. The Little One did not stick to me like glue. She explored her environment and went forward to the teacher asking for the different equipment. Everything was so new and so different to her. She was truly exploring her environment. In fact I often had to call her to come back to me because she was so excited she wanted to stand in front of the teacher.

I must say that I am very pleased. So much so I have commited the remaining weekdays here to more sessions. I even signed up for membership and bought whatever curiculum they were willing to sell to me. I do look forward to have some sessions with her at home.

I am guessing she is missing her toys and books. She was really concentrating on the toys in Starbucks just now and even asked for a book which she happily read to herself.

Its days like these that often makes me wonder how worthwhile is it for us to stay there. But I do realize more than anything that we can afford whatever it is we're affording here because we live there. Although with the current currency exchange our spending power is quickly diminishing.

I forgot how incredibly expensive Singapore is until today. But we're having a blast! Thats the most important thing I guess.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Aidilfitri

I'm off to Malaysia and Singapore for Eid. Wishing everyone Eid Mubarak.

I would like to apologize for my short comings and may Allah bless us all to good days ahead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mothers Against Untrained Teachers I

When I thought that I would have more time for myself once The Little One is in school, boy was I so wrong!

Apparently at least 4 other mothers are upset with how the things are in school. I was invited to a meeting with them to discuss the school.

Because my Little One was crying so much the first two weeks, I had to spend some days with her there and could see how the school was run. Which made me quite angry really. Because what I saw was more of a babysitting service rather than a nursery. For AM's class there was no teacher, just two helpers. They spend the first 45 mins with freeplay with the toys downstairs. And then they are made to go upstairs to their "classrooms" which had proper tables and chairs. With AM's class they were given crayons to color, or puzzles to play with. There were about 4 object picture books in the class, no story books. And then there was "PE" where they were told to play and the Skate Park, an underground playground about 5 minutes walk away in then 42oC. What's the point in that when parents could themselves bring the children there after school? They should have water play or be making more crafts! Or even have a story read to them.

More alarmingly were the stories the other mothers were sharing with me. The boys were in 2 different "classes" then my Little One. They came home using the word "Stupid" either among themselves or their helper. Its a reflection the children have in school really. Either the teacher has used it on a child or have not stopped the children from using the word.

So we discuss our strategy on approaching the owner of the school. We have to make sure we are constructive. The owner, SH, has been described as a brick wall. Not a person normally associated with running a pre school. We would wish for someone with a lot more smiles, enthusiasm, passion for children and creativity. From what she tells us her background is teaching 11 grade science. So we listed some changes we would like to see, for example, we don't want the 2 year old children spending time in a classroom learning to write with a helper holding their hand and practically writing for them. Alphabet recognition is nice but not really necessary. Basically we want to see our children have more fun. Do more crafts. Read more. And improve their quality of play. Surely its not too much to ask?

Especially since we're paying a handsome sum for them to go there. It costs us $60 a day (in local currency) plus $500 registration fee. For the Little One who goes 3 times a week, it costs us $720 a month. For the children 2 and above who goes everyday, their parents pay $1,200 per child. Quite expensive for a babysitting service surely! Its about time we get some value for our money or we'll bring our business elsewhere!

There is a lack of flexibility in term's of a parent's choice in the nursery. For example, I had planned on sending my Little One just once a week and gradually increase her time there once she has settled in. But SH promptly told me that for her age group, its 3 times a week, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. There was no room for negotiation.

SO today is our third meeting. We decided to discuss our approach first before meeting her in the afternoon. Wish us luck! I will keep my thinking positive and I hope that SH will take our suggestions on board.

Failing which MAUT may come up with Plan B.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

School week 3



After 9 days of being in nursery, The Little One is finally settling in. Slowly.

The school owner finally realized that she needed to be distracted with crafts or activities so that she would forget to cry.

Surely any trained early childhood education practitioner would have known that. But I have decided to keep my gripe about the school and its untrained staff separate from my quest to get The Little One used to the idea of going to school.

I am happy with her progress. DH who drops The Little One to school tells me she still cries when he leaves her. But at least I don't have to accompany her in school. The school owner says she cries on and off. She stops crying when its time they did some craft, even though they felt the craft activity may be too advance for her but she seemed to like it. Not surprising since we have been doing those activities at home.

I tried a combination of bribery (Ice cream for breakfast and cookies in her lunch box,) stickers as positive reinforcement and homeopathy and Bach flowers remedy. Pulsatilla seems to help ease the transition and Bach rescue remedy pastilles as a treat on her way to school. And prayers of course! Lots of prayers, morning, midmorning, day and night!

Already I have seen many changes in her. She is getting stronger physically, gaining better control of her motor skills. She can climb the stairs to the slide all by herself. She knows the difference between pull and push. One afternoon, while having lunch, she was making airplane noises while putting cookies in her mouth. I was surprised when she proclaimed, "Eplane!" to me.

While looking at pictures, she pointed "C!" to me. Then I realized that she is pointing to the sea. It was a picture that Elisa (or was it Taufik?) had taken for us in Kh0b@r with the background of the sea. How does she know these things? I guess she has been taking notes all along.

On the other hand she has perfected the art of fake crying. She does it to get my attention. Something that she didn't use so much. She sometimes give up a high pitch cry to get attention. Perhaps its something that she realize works in attracting attention. I have tried to ignore the behavior hoping that she would not be screaming so much.

She is constantly testing her boundaries. When I tell her that a behavior is unacceptable, trying out different variations to make sure that they are all not acceptable or if she could get away with anything at all.

She can ask for "Ice cream" quite clearly and "gogurt" (yogurt). Her current favorite food is "mush-room" and "bisket" (biscuit.)

I wish that the school would be more stimulating but unless trained staff are employed I don't think it would happen overnight. On the other hand, the opportunity for her to interact with other children some old and some younger than her is quite valuable. And that she understands that she could have some fun without mummy being beside her.

The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that in 2 weeks we're scheduled to go away for a month long holiday, and I hope we don't have to start the adjustment period all over again from scratch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

School week 2

Thank you Nina, MobileMom, AnaSalwa and Elisa for your words of encouragement.

And the status of nursery for week 2? Still weak.

I guess from the day we took The Little One home, we knew she could cry. A far cry really from the day she was born! The NICU matron told us that she could not cry. She did not cry when she was hungry or otherwise. The first time when she was taken out of her incubator and brought to my room, we were overjoyed to hear her cry. And there was no stopping her thereafter.

And cried she did at Nursery. Apparently there was no way of distracting her. Occasionally when she was not crying she would be asking for "susu" or "umi." I had to join her in school again on Sunday. She was doing very well when I was in the room with her. She could even play by herself at a quiet corner while I played with other children. That didn't bothered her. She was happy as long as I was in the room.

The teachers kept asking me if she was still breastfed. As I had read the thoughts of other mothers like me, who continue to breastfeed after our child is 1 year old, its an uncomfortable topic with people who didn't do the same. Somehow non breast feeding moms feel that this is a character flaw.

I told them that she can survive without milk and she doesn't really need it. She would be quite happy with the juice if offered to her.

Yesterday they didn't call me and I thought perhaps its a good idea to pick her up at 11:30 instead of 12:15. I thought she was doing much better.

But apparently not. They said they tried all sorts of things to make her stop crying including putting her in a room all by herself. She was told that she would be taken out only if she stopped crying. Do threats and intimidation really work?

I understand the benefits of time out. But an anxious child being punished?

The school owner also suggested that perhaps she could come to nursery for 5 days a week instead of three. They thought that perhaps the 4 days break is a too long. I talked to my friend and she felt 3 days a week was long enough. Afterall The Little One is only 20 months. 5 days a week, 4 hours a day is a lot of time being away from Mummy she felt.

How do I feel about all this? I do want her to go to Nursery because I feel its important for her to know that she can have fun without mummy. And that even when mummy goes away, she does come back. And that being independent can be a good thing. Reasons why I decided to send her to Nursery in the first place.

But I don't want her to get all traumatized or anything.

Aside from prayers, I am also trying alternative therapy to calm her down. I tried giving her homeopathic remedy, first chamomilla and today pulsatilla. I even put two drops of Bach Rescue remedy. We'll see how it pans out today.

I know that things may have to get worse before it gets better. I just don't want to break her. I really hope she learns to have fun in school.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In school

The Little One started going to the play group this week. I had planned to send her in November but decided to enroll her anyways last Wednesday. The class for her age group is scheduled for three times a week, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

I've been debating with myself with regards to sending her school for the longest time. This is my second attempt. Some of my neighbours do not feel the need for sending them to school this young, saying that their children are too young to learn anything.

Personally, I do not feel teaching the Little One is a problem for me. At 20 months she enjoys books very much. We read to her as often as we can and as often as she wants to. Well I have been reading to her since she was a month old and she's quite used to that. She understands the concept of counting, her favourite numbers are 3 and 9. And she understand my instructions to her perfectly.

So I chose to send her to school to be socialize. I do recognize that she is very dependent on my company. Some might even consider her clingy. Well, I did practice attachment parenting thus it is no wonder that she is very attached. Furthermore she is still breastfed, something which is a surprise to many people.

I felt that she needed to experience some fun without me. Her nanny goes take her out to the playpark in the afternoons, but I guess she still gets 1 on 1 attention then.

By sending to school I wanted her to learn some independence and acquire the skill to interact with other children without being under my shadow.

Did it work?

For the three days in school, I had to accompany her in class for the first and the third day. It felt like we took 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards. I understand that being the first and only child The Little One may take some time to adjust and get used to it. She was crying non stop the two days I was called back by the teacher to school.

I understand that its early days but at the same time, at the back of my mind I wondered if more could be done to make her experience better. I felt that there some things lacking in the school. It is rather new afterall and it is only the first day of school but with a registration fee of 500 bucks and the cost of 60 bucks a day am I wrong to expect something better?

Perhaps what makes me more critical is my background in education and my determination in educating myself in the different approaches towards early childhood education.

The school owner jokingly told The Little One that if she insist that I come with her everyday then perhaps the school would have to hire me. Frankly, I know I would be capable in handling the children. I have more than enough resources. (Note to self; I have to thank Atenah for some of her pointers.) But for me the whole idea of sending her to school is so that we can spend some time apart. So she could learn that its possible for her to do fun things without her mummy. And that I can finally have some time to myself. To sew perhaps. Or even to start my private teaching again.

In just three days I have seen some changes in her behavior. She has been more talkative. From what I have seen she is a very observant child. She would watch what other children are doing and would slowly imitate them. She can now do a fake-cry She can now climb the steps of the slide and lean forward down the slide all by herself.

That little brain of hers is like a sponge taking in everything.

I do hope that her school would improve. I hope the teachers would come up with novel ways to stimulate the children, failing which I would have to do it myself.

Ramadhan starts next week, we'll have to see how things turn out then.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Somedays

Somedays I ask myself why we are still here.

Then I ask myself why I didn't pack my bags and go off as soon as we had that chance.

On good days, we thought can stay here for a long long time.

On bad days, I yearn to move on.

I just have to remember to visualize that house we're going to build.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Persian Queen

I guess I was dreading it so much that I took my time to bid her farewell. I didn't know that it would have affected me so, but it did. At the back of my mind, I knew that it was inevitable, that the day would come. Living this life, homes and friendships could be transient. People come and go in my life.

She was one of the first few people I got to know in the compound. The hermit and shy side of me didn't enjoy making new friends. I heard her telling another lady on the bus about her trip to Austri@ and the new sandals she got from there. I listened to her conversation and stayed silent. I didn't want to appear forward or nosy.

I don't exactly remember how or when but we began to hang out. She was very friendly, with a big heart. Perhaps she took pity on me, perhaps she enjoyed my company, I don't know. But she included me during her lunch meets and her walks. She often invited me to hang out with her in the evenings.

When I was in my dark moods and needed to stay isolated, she understood and respected that. When I was ready to come out, I was welcomed with open arms.

She was always the light of the party. There is a certain magnetism about her. Both men and women, even children flocked to her. She was kind, gracious and full of energy. I am always entertained by her stories. Stories about her childhood, about her grandma and about the different people she met or hung out with.

Her fearlessness inspired me. I remembered the day she desperately needed a puff. She stood outside the bus while a car filled with boys teased her, drove round and round the bus and calling her something. But she casually ignored them, not batting an eyelid, took her last drag and moved on. Undisturbed.

She could stand on her ground and yet accommodate those around her. A skill which not many could have.

Her diplomacy is unsurpassed. She tolerated those who continually harassed her.

As a friend she was always willing to help. With friends you meet on the road, you can never tell. Some just want to use you, and take advantage of you. But not her. She was one of those people who showed genuine generosity and consideration.

I often admire just how easily she hung out with all sorts of people of different ages, gender and background. Perhaps it is her gift.

To Negin, I wish you the best of luck! I know you will have loads of friends around you in no time at all because its just you. Know that you are loved and deeply missed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Can I give up dairy products?

I have to confess that I am a big consumer of dairy products. As a student I used to buy the gallon size skim milk and drank it like I would water. Back home milk wasn't as delicious but I would still pay the premium for fresh milk.

And I haven't started telling you about Gold Top milk from the guernsey ad jersey cow! Boy their milk is just oh so creamy and I'm salivating as I'm writing this. And just half an hour ago I had strawberries with double cream. I love that stuff.

And cheese. What would life be like without cheese? No Muller?

So why this crazy talk about giving up dairy products? Well two sources I've heard so far are suggesting that I should give up milk products, one from a homeopathy standpoint and the other, from Skinny bitch. (Then again they also recommend going vegan. Yucks!)

Does this mean I will never be skinny?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My 18 month comprehends what goes around her

The Little One has been suffering from a high fever and on the fourth day we brought her to the Doctor. After a brief physical he prescribed an antibiotic shot and asked us to come back the following day for a checkup.

SO I brought her back to the hospital the following day and she OK at the waiting area. Once the nurse called out her name and ushered us to the weighing area The Little One started crying. I guess she remembered distinctly the nurse who administered her the shot the day before. I tried to calm her down and managed to do so in the room 4. But once the nurse ushered us to room 2, where she was examined the day prior she started bawling her eyes out and there was no way of consoling her!

As soon as the doctor entered the room she started to point to the door going, "There! There!" Obviously telling me that she wanted out!

So I told her, "AM you have to stop crying. We will leave this room after I finish the conversation with the doctor. I need to talk to the doctor and we will leave as soon as we finish." With that she calmed down a little bit.

So the doctor and I discussed a little bit. Since her fever did not return there was no need for a second injection. The Little One who was sobbing quietly suddenly got a little louder when she heard the word "INJECTION." I had to laugh there and then. I had to explain to the nurse and doctor that she understood "Injection."

So the Doctor obliged by saying, "OK NO injection today."

And the Little One stopped crying. She could even muster "Bye!" to the nurses on the way out!

I really have to be careful what I say and do because she understand everything perfectly and I attribute all this entirely to attachment parenting!

Update:
Unfortunately I found rashes on the front and back of her torso in the afternoon. There was none behind her ears. I guess we may have to pay the Doctor a visit again tomorrow. :(

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Books, books, glorious books

It's been a long while since I posted anything. Even the previous post was done in such a hurry. I stumbled upon LibraryThing while surfing the other day and I was intrigued. I liked it so much that I decided to feature it on my blog. And then I was addicted. I slept at 2 am 2 days in a row trying to catalog my books. First I started with the books I have here, then the books I owned and liked a lot (thought I may not remember where they are now.)

Problem with moving so much is that I have different things everywhere. And most of all I miss my books. I've been scratching my head to remember the tittle and author of a book I read back in the UK 5 years ago about this guy who arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker and his experiences. I remembered that I looked up the author and he was a lecturer of one of the Universities. I almost wanted to write to him to tell him how much I enjoyed his book but was too shy. The first chapter of the book was about the main character not speaking.

OK I have a screaming child who detest me spending time at the pc.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Meme for Charity

Ghazali tagged me, a meme that began with Idham

The rules are as follows:
If you are tagged, you need to write an entry related to the meme. At the end of your entry you just need to tag as many person as you like. You will then leave a comment in their blog to let them know they have been tagged. And to include this message, "By doing this meme you are contributing rm127 to the Darul Izzah Orphanage".
Then please copy and paste this rule somewhere in your entry.

The meme is about completing at least seventeen out of the following twenty seven sentences........ *These can be copied and pasted to your entry*

1. A person is only as good as his/her word.

2. Friendship is always about being able to understand and respect one another .

3. To love is to share the good times and the bad times.

4. Money makes me live comfortably.

5. I miss being able to travel more.

6. My way of saying I care is by contributing what I can.

7. I try to spread love and happiness by caring.

8. Pick the flowers when they are in full bloom.

9. To love someone is to let them grow.

10. Beauty is in the heart.

11. When I was thirteen, what I remember the most was the nerdy glasses I wore and the new friends I had to make at my new school.

12. When I was twenty one, I remember arriving in Canada alone, not knowing the place or anyone and the new world I saw with my own eyes.

13. I am most happy when I am travelling.

14. Nothing makes me happier than hearing my child's laugh and my beloved saying "I love you." (But something sparkly from a blue box with white ribbon makes me happy too.)

15. If I can change one thing, I will change airport security.

16. If smiles were gold then I'd be a goldsmith.

17. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all live together in peace.

18. If you want to achieve anything then you have to work hard and send good thoughts.

19. Money is not everything but it helps you to live comfortably.

20. The most touching moments I have experienced is when my child says I Love you to me and comes to me and kiss me..

21. I smile when I am happy.

22. When I am happy, I am on top of the world.

23. If only I don't have to be responsible, then I can go parapenting.

24. The best thing I did yesterday was spend quality time with my family.

25. If I ever write a book, I will give it this title,"Traveller's Tales"

26. One thing I must do before I die is to climb the wall of China.

27. Doing this meme, I feel like I need to pee! Help I've been trying to finish this before Am wakes up!


The Bloggers I am tagging are:

1) Elisa Taufik
2)Leen-Ashburn
3)MedameRosse

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Secret



I've been trying to read about The Secret lately. Trying is the operative word, 10 mins here and there while I'm on the throne or the little time I have in the afternoons when she is taking her nap.

From the little I read, somehow the books makes good sense to me. I did discuss with my beloved about the bits I read and he pointed out that perhaps the contents are really nothing new. That perhaps its no different from the fundamentals of I/s/l/am with "niat" or intent and "dua" or prayer. I didn't disagree with him.

But I do find the book refreshing in terms of reminding me of some things that I perhaps have overlooked or taken for granted.

Personally I sometimes let my own negative thoughts take over me. And worst still some days those negative thoughts snowball clouding my week and even my month. So The Secret helped me to remind myself to keep the positive thoughts.

Just the past week I caught myself when my mind was wandering into negative thoughts again.

Right now I am focusing on how I want the future to be. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I am truly grateful

I am truly grateful to The Creator for the life he has given me.

I am grateful that I have a husband who loves me and appreciates me for who I am.
For the past couple of years he has tolerated me not wearing any make up, and just one afternoon he reminded me thats perhaps a touch of lipstick would brighten my face.
What more can I ask than a man who is not afraid to tell me the truth?
Who is willing to share his days with me, even the hours when I am not with him.
Who didn't complain or grumble when I told him I could not cook so please pick up something on the way home.
Who showed so much appreciation with the most meagre and simple meals I cooked.

I am grateful that I have you.

I am grateful that I have a daughter who continues to surprise me everyday.
Who loves me unconditionally and constantly remind me that what I do today, will affect her life tomorrow.
Her sharpness often surprise me. When she utters words that perhaps just the two of us understand.
She reminds me that even when I feel useless and wasting my life away, that something good is coming.

I am biased, I know but I am grateful that she is the smartest, cutest, prettiest, cleverest and happiest child I know.

She brings a different purpose to life. Makes me see the world very differently.

I am grateful that I have her.

I am grateful to the life I lead. I consider it normal, some considered it charmed while others considered it oppressed.
I may not be an important person at an office or a country but I know, I am appreciated by my beloved and my daughter.

For that I am truly grateful.


What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nasi Dagang , Star Wars Marathon and Urban Legend

Over the weekend the local cable station had a back-t0-back Star Wars marathon. I am not a fan. But my beloved and some of his friends were. He railroaded our friend with the largest TV to host a Star Wars martahon party at his house and we all went over to watch the Star Wars movie.

When I said "we" I meant the men, who during the duration of the 7 hours we were at that house. sat with eyes glued to the TV except breaks for solat, short walks to the buffet table and toilet breaks. The other "we," namely the womenfolk sat at the dinning table, ate and exchanged stories and gossip.

I managed to find a lady who makes delicious Nasi Dagang here and was overjoyed when I found out that she was willing to cook it for me. Yahooo! I ordered two sets, one to bring to the party and another set for me to keep at home which I had for dinner the following day.

It was still delicious the following day! I resteamed the rice and it was fabulous!

One of the current hot topics is about the possible existence of a certain "album" containing pictures of women who are interested in looking for a spouse. That bit wasn't that interesting. Rumour has it that THE album was shown and seen by certain MBAs. No not those with the Masters in Business, rather the Married but Available variety of men.

Rumour has it, some women have banned their husbands from going to the house where THE ALBUM is kept.

I for one, am tempted to approach the owner of the album myself, to ask to view it. Not that I am interested in looking for a wife, no. But rather to see if the album really exist or if it is merely an urban legend.

Another rumour has been confirmed as a fact. An MBA did marry wife no 2 here. Wife no 1 is back in Malaysia apparently oblivious to the new development in her husband. Everyone else remarked how wife no 1 was fair and pretty and didn't understand why wife no 2 was taken on board.

The man in question is one of those who was very quiet and looked very pious. Often seen with a kopiah on his head. Actually I don't think I have seen him sans his kopiah. Perhaps the white skullcaps cover the horns very well?

Oh well.

I have started asking around who would be interested in inheriting the steamer I bought in Pekan Rabu or the mortar and pestle (or is it pestle and mortar) I had bought in Saco. I never did use it except when MIL came to visit.

I still don't know if we are staying or moving. I have to start packing soon. I hate packing! But the last thing I want to happen is to find out that we are really moving and I havent packed a thing! I know I have way too much stuff, some I inherited from friends who left so its time I passed it on.

We ended the nite with making arrangements to meet again.

Good friends and good food makes a good insulation when living here. I think one of the things I would really miss most if we move is their company. If we don't move we'll continue to make plans for winter hopefully.


PS Thank you everyone for your comments and opinions. At the moment the status of my move is still "pending."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Am I ready to return?

For some, their hearts are always set to their homeland. Everyday they think about what they miss back home in Malaysia. And every holiday they look forward to returning to Malaysia. Even though their bodies are here, their spirits and their minds are still back in Malaysia.

Unfortunately I am one of those people who don't really fancy the idea of going back. Not at the moment anyways. Yes I do miss some of the family. (Although I have to confess that I don't mind being out of the loop from the family gossips and the latest misunderstanding etc.) And yes I do miss the food.

I can't believe I am saying this myself but I am beginning to like it here. More accurately, I like the life we lead here. I don't have to worry about going to weddings and kenduris. Most of my time is our own, we're not tied down to taking to attend family functions etc. I guess its not just the life here but generally life abroad.

I like the fact that we could travel and of course it helps that we have a bigger disposable income here. For me there is a balance between the amount we could spend and the amount we could save.

Luckily for me my dearest share my passion for travel and seeing and trying new things. I would be so devastated if all he ever want to do is return to Malaysia for holidays. We do like to go to different places ever so often.

So he puts forward to me the possibility of returning back to The Homeland and suddenly I get a little bit sweaty. For me I had always envisioned that we would return when its time to retire. Or at least we would return after we have finished paying off all our debts, have a well cushioned retirement plan.

But of course things change a little bit since we have The Little One. Suddenly we realize the value of living near The Family so both parties could get to know each other better. Also it would be more beneficial for The Little One to know more about traditions and her cultural background. Something which I am not very big on. I know very little about cultural believes and in fact sometimes believe very little in them. (Like pantang larang lepas bersalin etc. I was at the supermarket 5 days after delivering the baby.) But I do realize its important for The Little One to see some of that for herself because its part of her cultural identity and it will be up to her in the future to decide if she would like to keep them or not.

And I guess the other thing is, for me, if or when we return, its means that we are settling down. And settling down is something that I am uncertain if I am ready for. We've been travelling for the last 9 years and I like the adventure of living abroad.

I suppose what it is, is more change. Change in lifestyle. Change in income. Change in responsibilities. Naturally I am somewhat apprehensive to this sort change.

I already lost my mum while we were on the road. Perhaps going back now will be good so The Little One could spend more time with her remaining grandparents, uncles and aunties.

Funnily enough I would have to relearn the Malaysian way of doing things if we go back. Perhaps it is time?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

In search of a better life II

A man often sometimes chooses to come here for a job stint sans family because sometimes:

1)his wife does not want to uproot herself and live in a foreign land
2)his children are going to good schools and he refuses to "disrupt" their education
3)his job does not allow for a family visa, the company wants to save some money
4) . . .

Somehow this story really depresses me. A guy had been working here for awhile, alone without his fmaily. He finally completed his contract and went home to spend time with his family.

Five days after he returned home, his five year old son passed away.

Of course I believe in predestination and destiny.

But I often wonder, how worthwhile is it for a family to be split apart for the sake of economy?

I guess for the likes of us who have enough to eat everyday, it is an issue to be pondered and debated upon.

But for those who didn't have the luxury of choice, who did it out of neccessity, what would you do?

In search of a better life I

Our waiter asked us how old The Little One was.

"Fifteen months," we told him.

How quickly time flies. She was a month old when we first brought her with us to the restaurant.

We asked him if he had any children.

"A girl," he told us. "She's fourteen now. She lives all by herself in the Ph/ll/p/nes."

All by herself at fourteen?

"Yes her mum is working here with me as a nurse. We thought that by working here for a few years we could provide her a better future. "

"With the salaries we earn here, we could afford to send her a much better school."

Obviously the sacrifice is that their teenage daughter is growing up without her parents.

Not all expats get a cushiony package. But almost all come with hope to get a better life for their loved ones, one way or other.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Uncertainty is one word I could use to describe my current situation. Will we stay or do we move on?

If we do move on where will we be going? There was hope that it was to be Ireland. Then there was promise of Tehran. And then there's the possibility of Bahrain. Or back to the UK. Or home to KL/Singapore. Or we could stay here.

If push comes to shove, if we do move, I will. If we have to move every few months, I will.

For the longest time, I had everything I had with me in 2 suitcases. Then we had 2 mugs, 2 plates, 2 sets of cutlery and a saucepan that travelled with me. And then I thought, I was tired of living that way. I thought, finally, I wanted to live in a place that really felt like home. We got a proper dinnerware, real cutlery, that sort of thing.

Now that I had gotten some furniture from Ikea, got the carpenter to repair the shoe cupboard and hang up our family portrait, there is a possibility of moving again.

The story of my life really. We move whenever I form roots. So much so sometimes I do refrain from making friends.

All I ask is that Allah put us where ever he thinks is good for us. A place where we can grow and be happy.

Pardon me if this space will be unattended for awhile. I'm trying to make some sort of order in my world of uncertainty.

But one thing I am certain, change is inevitable and it will be good for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A new venture

If you asked me 10 years ago, what I would be doing in 10 years time, perhaps I would have said "Teacher" but I wouldn't have thought that I'd be a quilting teacher.

After many requests for me to have quilting class, I finally became brave enough to take the plunge. I had five students whom I charged 50 bucks each. Actually I thought that perhaps charging them 50 bucks per class might be too expensive but somehow I'm finding that I am merely breaking even in terms of operating cost.

The maid costs 15 bucks per hour, for 5 hours thats 75 bucks. I bought some snacks etc costing 65 bucks. So I made a cool 140 bucks for 5 hours of teaching and conversation. As you can tell, I won't exactly become rich doing this.

More importantly the company was fabulous. We caught up with some gossip and updates. If anything I am happy to pass on the joy of learning a new skill to the ladies. I hope they feel the same about coming to my home to learn.

Perhaps one day I'd have my own quilt shop selling fabrics, notions and everything else. Not many people make real money from selling the quilts themselves, because they do require a lot of time and effort and when you're competing against mass produced ones, theirs would be a lot cheaper no doubt. Unless I become really famous and produce my own quilt books or people will pay me big money to come and do a demonstration.

But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I feel for her

Out of the blue we managed to talk again. Its been awhile but I know I’ve been terrible at keeping in touch.

But things haven’t been too good for her. She is still with HIM. Its her choice and its not up to me to judge. We all, individually, make our own decisions based on what we think works for us.

She has 3 young girls. Its not easy starting over with 3 young girls. I know some have done it but not everyone is as brave.

He promised to end things with the other woman. And she took his word for it.

Suffice to say, she found out later on that he actually married that woman across the border. He said he felt responsible for the other HER.

She says that she is happy that he is working abroad, out of the picture, and that he would send money every month to her bank account.

If I could talk to her again, I would ask her if she is happy with her life. I know she sticks with him because she thinks he makes her happy. Does she realize that he is the source of her grief? Does he realize that he is the source of her depression?

Personally, I don’t see why she would stay with someone who is controlling, who treats her like a door mat, who causes her grief and depression.

But I do understand why she stays with him. Because the children need their father and because it’s harder to start over looking for love.

Not many men will be interested in starting life with a 30 something woman with 3 young children.

He has systematically shaved down her feeling of self worth, her self esteem, her circle of friends, the support of family members and the exuberance she once had. He made her dependent on him. He made himself the center of the world, and she could not see the sunlight beyond his shadow.

Sometimes I feel like shaking her, asking her, why? Why do you do this to yourself? Why do you let him do this to you? And what do you think your children will get out of this?

But I know she is too fragile for those questions.

I do admire her steadfast nature and the love she has for her children.

If you are reading this, I want you to know, as a friend, I only want you to be happy. I’m not trying to jeer you or alienate you. Its not my place to judge you.

Instead I want to encourage you to make a better life for yourself and your girls. They are all that you have and they learn everything by watching what you do and how you deal with this crisis in your life.

Do not give let him control your lives. Love yourself more. You know you deserve all the love that you need and you don’t need that love from him. You can get it from you.

But the girls will need the love from you.

Take care of yourself and take this down time to take stock of your life. Your future is in your hands. The future of your girls are in your hands. Reclaim back that power before its to late.

What would you say to her?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

How quickly time flies




As the weather gets warmer and summer draws near, we often lose a few friends we've made. I made this quilt for Hassania last summer and this June will mark one year of her going home.

Just last Wednesday we drove 4 hours for the oppurtunity to meet with C & J before J flies off back to Australia the following day. At first I thought we'd meet again because she thought she'll be here till July but she decided that she isn't coming back.

For J, the 6 of us swapped blogs and promised to sew our quilts and show each other the pictures. I finished mine in time but yet to see the other blocks for me to piece them together.

J has always been an inspiration to me. I can remember the day we met as if it was yesterday. She had just moved into the compound and had shown up for the quilting class. She was very friendly and told us that she was homeschooling her children. In turn we told her about another lady in the compound who was also homeschooling and they hooked up.

J would invite me to her house to teach us how to make bread. I remember that afternoon just like yesterday. I was pregnant then, so I waddled over to her place. The ladies gave me the cushiest chair to sit on while they made hot cross buns, bagels and pseudo chinese buns.

When I wanted to try to make some bread with her recipe (I said I but my beloved made the bread really while I watched) we borrowed her breadmachine.

And then there were her entrepreneurship. She had hooked up with K to make all sorts of crafts from cards to giftbags, placemats, oven mitts and chocolates to sell.

As J's farewell present to me, she gave me her breadmachine which still sits in the plastic bag she gave me in. That with some bread improver.

Already, I know S will be going back to the States this summer. Who else is next?

And it is inevitable that we will leave one day too. The difficult bit about leading this life for me is the constant packing and unpacking and the hellos and goodbyes to friends we made. The longer the roots, the harder it is to uproot.

The older I get, the more baggage I have, the harder it becomes to move. Now there are other considerations to consider; will there be good schools? a playground or a park for The Little One to play? is the city kiddie friendly?

If anything else, I know this much is true. I know we are adaptable people, the fact that we managed to get comfortable here meant that we could make ourselves comfortable anywhere. I know we can make new friends wherever we move, some we're still in touch with while others we know are somewhere about. We will take advantage of whatever is available where ever we may go.

Most importantly, we're together, supporting each other.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Strawberry Pajeri

Its amazing how some bloggers have inspired me in so many ways.

I was reading Anasalwa's entry about Kumquat Pajeri that I had this urge to try some. I was looking around at the fruits available in Carrefour the following day for me to make Pajeri but didn't see any kumquat. Since Ana's Kak N had made Kiwi Fruit Pajeri, I thought perhaps its possible to make Strawberry Pajeri. Afterall they were on sale for $3.50 a punnet. What made the strawberried perfect Pajeri candidate was that there were rather sharp.

Growing up, the pajeri I ever tried was only Pajeri Nenas and they were somewhat watery, and didn't quite look like Ana's Pajeri. In fact, I think coming from the South, we call it Paceri rather than Pajeri.

I used Ana's recipe as a guide and looked at other Pajeri recipes on recipe.net.





And Wallah! Here's my Pajeri strawberry. My skeptical other half was rather amused with what I served him that day. And his comment, it was better than he thought it was going to be.

Thanks AnaSalwa for inspiring me to try out new things.

Next thing I want to try is Nina's Beef in Sweet Betel Leaves. I have been looking out for the Betel Leaves but no luck so far. Perhaps I'd need to grow them myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One night in Madinah and one hour in Rawdah

The drive was 8 hours. We left at 6:30 am, half an hour later than promised. The drive was beautiful, our fellow travellers had packed us cake, sandwiches and toasted cheese. We did stop for nasi lemak at a 10 riyal an hour room. No, they didn't sell Nasi Lemak there silly! We packed our own and ate it there, behind the petrol station in the middle of no where. At least the toilet was marginally clean.

We arrived just before Asar. I realized its been two years since I was here last. Because it was the weekend, finding parking was difficult. I had to forgo Asar prayer at Masjidil Nabawi because I needed to change my clothes.

If I had forgotten, the little one somehow made me remember that life is somewhat a little different when I travel with her. For example, mummy should have remembered to change her diapers when we were at the pit stop. Yes I was a bad mummy and I did forget to change. As a result her nappy leaked. All over her and all over me. And when travelling with a child, its an infinite number of extra clothes you need to bring, not just for her but for you too! Luckily I had brought a spare Abaya. The other clothes I brought were meant to be worn under an abaya! Not suitable for err public places.

Thank God for understanding and helpful travel companions. At least one lady who had her red flag could babysit the Little One for Magrib and Isyak. Perhaps I should have brought her to the masjid. But she does get quite alarmed and cries. Me, getting distracted is one thing but I didn't want other people to be distracted too. Perhaps next time Insyallah.

The next morning I arranged with another lady to go to Rawdah. They are open to women from 7 to 10 am. 3 hours for the ladies. At the door, ladyguards checked our bags for contraband. The lady in front of me was frisked. Phones must be turned off and no camera phones allowed. We followed the crowd towards Rawdah.

The last time I was there, it was a weekday and there were a lot less people. Today however, there was a blanket of black. Partly because the umrah visas have not been issued yet and partly because its Friday morning. The local crowd is around.

Making one's way to the front is a tricky task. Women are everywhere, at every available space. Some reading the Quran, some praying, some kneeling and some standing. Others like us, just finding space to solat. Even that is no easy task. There were women walking past you, walking on top of you and some pushing past you. Well what do you expect? Everyone want to go to paradise, don't they? Or at least the ladies who were there wanted that. Including me.

We found a spot to perform the tahyatul masjid. The crowd in front seems to be going home but more are coming. I decided to make my way to the front. With Bismillah, lots of patience and guts to step over people and squeezing into whatever small space available to move forward I got there.

Mother-In-Law had told me where the posts that marked Rawdah was when we came two years earlier. In my ignorance then, I didn't understand why she insist on moving forward to pray. Surely Allah can hear us praying both from the front to the back of the Masjid and even anywhere for that matter? But she explained that since we wanted to pray in Rawdah then in Rawdah we should be.

After much waiting, I was there at the posts. There was no room to kneel or to sit. Standing room only. And all I could do was to start my du'a. It was emotional for me. Don't ask me why but it was. Perhaps how hard it was to get there was one of the factors.

Then I heard a voice calling, "Siti Rahmah! Siti Rahmah!"

Surely it isn't me.

"Solah! Solah!"

I looked to the right. One of the lady guards was trying to tell me that there was room for me to perform my solat! I moved a little to the right. And she put me in position. Without much thinking, I plonked my bag down and started praying.

Finally there was space for me! Now looking back I would think of 10 other solats I could have done! But even with the tiny space concentration was difficult. The moving around. The pushing around. The story of my life really! I should have planned this much better! I should have concentrated more on what I was doing instead of getting side tracked by my surrounding. Instead the "considerate" old me decided not to hog the space and move on to the oppurtunity to someone else, with hope that I would have the chance to pray there again in the future. Perhaps many more times in the future. Or better still, claim my own permanent spot in eternity in the Jannah.

Walking away was more difficult than getting in because people are starting to stream in again. I bid my farewell to the Prophet.

After breakfast it was a mad rush to drive back. We had a hard time getting to a gas station because they were all closed in preparation for the Friday prayers. What we forgot was that every single person (we think) working there were Muslim, unlike over here in the capital where there are non Muslims who man the pumps up to the point of prayer call. In Madinah, they have all gone home to take their shower and wear their Friday best to the Masjid.

Goodbye Madinah, till next time Insyallah.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Deadline looming

Who would have thought that quilters would have deadline?

Its all my fault really, I signed up to do one friendship quilt and another farewell quilt. One required 20 blocks and the other 6 blocks. I finished the latter but still working steadfastly on the earlier one. And it hasn't been easy. I have sewn 25 blocks in all and had to reject 10 and in turn need 5 more.

And what was I thinking signing up to be in the Guild board? And as Secretary no less? I have many minutes untyped and yet another meeting to go for this week!

Pardon me if I take time off from blogging. Either the solar flares render my internet connection useless or I am sewing furiously to meet my deadline or have many women upset at me!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Untuk si Gersang

Di mana kau letak harga diri?
Bermanja dengan lelaki-lelaki bergelar suami.
Kau ghairah menonjolkan diri
Pada mana lelaki yang kau mahu miliki

Pada si isteri kau katakan
Lelaki boleh berkawin empat

Apa yang kau cari?
Kasi sayang?
Nama?
Wang?
Kuasa?
Perhatian?

Banyak mata memandang
Hanya diam
Tidak sanggup berlaku tidak sopan
Tak kuasa hendak bertekak
Yang ada hanya buat pekak

Kau jaja dirimu begitu mudah
Pada siapa sahaja yang kau sangka
Dapat memberimu perhatian
Tanpa malu atau segan
Padahal manusia ada batasan

Sedarlah sendiri
Senja menanti ke malam hari
Jangan hanya mengejar bayang-bayang
Yang akan hilang tanpa pesan

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Who's keeping track?

I find the conversation people strike with me really odd sometimes. Is it because they have nothing to talk about or are they just trying to make polite conversation? But it really irks me when someone asks me about somebody else.

"Is so-and-so going for holiday? How long is she going?"

Why ask me? Why not ask her directly?

More annoying most recently I was asked, " I had this conversation this other lady and she was asking if SO-n-SO does not want a child or cannot have a child?"

Why ask me? Why not ask the So-n-SO herself? Why is the other lady asking you and you in turn ask me? Why does she need to know? And plus what is it anyone's bussiness asking all that? What is it to the person asking if the other goes on vacation? What is it to other people if some people don't have children? Is it really any of their business asking? And why am I being involved in all this?

Perhaps I am overly sensitive but perhaps the way the questions are asked made me stand on guard. Because I am asked all these questions about other people, I wonder if they ask other people the same questions about me?

I feel that I am interrogated. I feel like every move I make is being taken note of. I feel that they want a report of my movement. Where I went. What I did. With whom I went with or did it with.

And my first impulse is to run. Run as far away as I can from my interrogators.

Of course in turn I am labelled a snob. Whatever!

I can't live my life on eggshells because I don't want to offend people. So what if they are offended. SO what if I am labelled hermit or outcast.

I will live my life the way I want to and I'll invite people whom I want to hang around with or omit people I cannot stand or cannot understand without guilt.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Feeling wretched

I have been feeling somewhat down and a little overwhelmed for over a week now. First was the shooting of the 4 Fr3nchm3n. Not that I knew them personally. But living in this small community of expats, its inevitable that someone knew someone who does.

I found out about the shooting at 8:45 am on Tuesday morning. I had gotten up early, took my shower and got ready to catch the 11 am bus to go for the annual cultural festival. At 845 am the phone rang. It was the receptionist telling me that the bus to the festival was cancelled due to the shooting. What shooting? I hadn't watch the news the night before. I called a few friends asking if they heard anything and they in turn called a few friends asking if they had heard anything. Finally between us we found some pieces to the jigsaw puzzle. News were sketchy.

I didn't get to go to the Annual cultural festival. I was somewhat disappointed. Perhaps I will have next year. Perhaps.

The following day I noticed that there were a lot of people next door. The B3lgians who live there had gone on the same trip to the historic ruins with the men who were shot. The difference was my neighbours came home safely but their friends didn't.

While washing my dishes suddenly I saw all their children walking out of the house.

And all of them were crying. Some were consoling each other, some were just crying alone.

I didn't know what to do.

When I peeked at the front window I saw the mother was crying outside too.

Apparently they had all just found out that the 16 year old boy had just passed away. He succumbed to his injuries.

One day they were having fun, the next, their friend had died.

-----------------------------------------------

Over the weekend, we went to the Iris fields again. This trip had been planned for some time now. Concerned friends who knew I was going called me and cautioned me against going. Apparently most of the Western embassies have issued a warning against their citizens going to the desert. Even one of our friends have decided not to go. Apparently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here have released a statement cautioning diplomats from travelling to the desert.

We however decided to go. Undettered by terrorist threats, five cars took the journey to Tuma/r. Only to face a terrible sandstorm. Even the shepherds were taking their herd away from the Iris field. the sandstorm was hitting Tuma/r in full force. Did we turn back? No no! the show must go on!

We parked the cars in such a way we thought would reduce the brute force of the wind. I was sooooo hungry that despite the sand that was everywhere and was getting into everything I insist that we took out some of our food. First we distributed the ice cream, then the chicken wings. After we found that the sand didn't quite change the taste of the ice cream or the chicken wings, we took out all the other food and started eating.

When it was time for us to watch the flowers bloom, I felt somewhat faint and decided to sit in the car instead of waiting for them to bloom. A drink of water and some air conditioner made me a little better. I went out to see the flowers again. tried to take some pictures but this time my camera jammed. The sand had somehow got in the lenses and jammed them. *sigh* It was just not meant to be.

We then adjourned at R's house.

Perhaps the weather was mourning for the men who were slain. Never underestimate the desert.

-------------------------------------------

News about the passing of Nazrah's mum spread quite quickly. I got a ym message from CK and then an SMS from Elisa. Tried sending Nazrah an SMS but not sure if she received it.

I know too well how it felt like losing a mother. I had to help arrange her funeral. Its been awhile but its one of those things that you'll never forget. Somehow the news made me recalls details about the funeral arrangements.

I wish her well and hope she has the strength to go through the days ahead.


------------------------------------------

I have 2 sets of blocks I have to finish by this weekend. Argghh friendship blocks are meant to be fun and full of happy memories but I am beginning to really hate this excercise. Triangles drive me crazy!

My whole body is aching and my mind exhausted. My time table is full.

Are we staying or are we going?

Frankly I don't mind it either way. All I ask is that Allah give us whatever it is that is the best for us. I accept that Allah knows best and what he decides is the best for me. Sometimes its a test, sometimes the goodness is only seen in hindsight.

In the meantime, I will exercise my freewill to make the best out of my situation.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Iris field of Tuma?r

Last Thursday we drove out 1.5 hrs out of R]yadh to Tuma/r to witness the Irises bloom during mid-afternoon.



Would you have thought that the Desert could be this green? Well spring is here, after a cold winter and lots of rain, there is a lot of green.


When we first arrived all we saw were bits of purple. We had our lunch and then saw some activity amongst the flower. At about 1 pm, the petals were slowly unfolding. We all stood up, gathered near the areas where there were lots of buds and stood or sat waiting to watch for the Iris to bloom.


And then suddenly the petals opened up, releasing a beautiful smell in the air.


As you can see, the little one is excited too! She was happy to pick on some of the flowers.




I know this picture doesn't do the place justice, but suddenly, there was a sea of purple patches!


Here the Irises are in full bloom. As you can see, the flowers are up to 2 year-old Ray's knees.

Would you believe that Irises grow in the wild in the desert if you didn't see these pictures? I wouldn't have.

These flowers bloom during this time of the year for about a month before they wither and perish under the scorching heat in the desert.

Masyallah! Many praises to Allah for the beautiful world he has created for us.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thank you

Thank you for your comments, Lollies, Anasalwa, Ann and Mel Ija.

Anasalwa, at the moment I am working on two friendship blocks, boring things really, a basket block and a Mellinium block. Trouble is I have a deadline and the deadline is looming fast. Out of 20 blocks I sew I had to reject 10 because they didn't come to exactly 6.5" blocks. If it was my own quilt I would have used them but since I am handing them over to other people I had to make sure that they are precise. But I will try to put them up sometime. But I am just a little embarrased that mine are boring blocks rather than your lovely artistic ones.

Lollies, Ann and Mel Ija I hope you guys get your battery recharged too. Mel Ija perhaps if I could visit your blog sometime it would be nice.

Atenah, yes I do realised that I have been tagged. I've been trying to write it out but failed miserably. The problem is because what I would consider normal is what others might call weird. I had listed some down and decided that I was anal retentive, not weird LOL. See I ended up psycho analysying myself and therefore render me unable to complete the task. Haha. I will but the tag in my IN box and get round to doing it sometime.

I have 2 entries i hope to post the next few days:
1. Pajeri strawberry (inspired by Anasalwa's pajeri kumquat)
2. Trip to the Iris fields

I have a baby protesting that I am typing in front of the pc. Hopefully I get some free time soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Of dreams and guilt

I had an odd dream last night. I dreamed that my teacher gave us the exam paper in advance, told us to take it home, go through it and we will sit for the same paper again after the weekend. In my dream I was anxious to have a group discussion on how best to answer the questions. But my friends were reluctant to have the group meet with me. They told me that it was a mock exam, the paper was last year's paper and the exam will be at a later date. I was tired an disappointed. The following day, instead of tackling the questions I called up my friend Rosse and asked her how she was.

I have been wandering how Rosse is doing. Hope she is doing OK.

I related my dream to my beloved. He pointed out that perhaps I am re-examining my life.

And its true, I have. I am pondering at the possibility of moving again. If we move, we move, I should have no fear, we used to do it every 8 months or so. But we haven't heard any news. Just wait and see.

Two days ago, I felt insanely guilty. I felt guilty because I sent AM out to play with the housekeeper. They went to the underground skate park to play while I quilt whilst watching them on the CCTV. I should be there playing with her myself but I needed some time to quilt.

Quilting is therepeutic for me. Makes me use my mind, my creativity, my hordes of fabric and my new sewing machine. I had a quilt guild meeting that evening hence the last minute sewing to bring my blocks in.

Its terrible feeling stuck and guilty. When I quilt, I feel guilty that I am not spending time with her, not stimulating her, not creating a new memory or recreating an old memory.

But when I am with her, I feel frustrated that I could not quilt.

But I had to remind myself that when I am with her I would give her 100% of my attention, and when I am quilting I would concentrate to avoid mistakes. Her mum needs to tend to some of her personal needs and personal growth. Only then she'd be a better mother.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cake


Unlike other domestic godessess who baked their child's first birthday cake, I, Sunflora, took the easy way out, by ordering the birthday cake from our favourite bakery. Another testimony of how terrible I am, I organized the party 1.5 months later, with no clowns nor balloons and not that many little children either. Just some of our friends who already gave her presies, as a thank you to them for remembering her birthday.

But isn't it amazing how technology has evolved even in the cake making industry? We can now have real life like pictures on cakes? What ever next?

What did I give her? A book that made me cry when I read it to her.

May you gain a lifelong love for books and an incessant thirst for knowledge. May you have the tenacity and perserevance to make your dreams come true.

Know that you are so loved and will always be loved by everyone around you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cemana?


Kesian Akak ni. Dia sebenarnya menang lucky draw di shopping center berdekatan dengan rumahnya. Hadiahnya adalah sebijik kereta BMW. Dia di beritahu yang dialah pemenang kereta tersebut. Tapi lepas 4 bulan kereta tak muncul tiba. Rupanya tuan punya shopping center tu tipu. Kereta tersebut tak bayar pun pada dealer.

Akhirnya Chamber of Commerce di sana pun tolong. Inilah dia upucara penyampaian kunci. Untuk menampakkan kelainan skit dia belilah tudung cantik. Warna tetap hitam, tapi kurang-kurangnya nampaklah kerawang-kerawang lace. Sure mahal tudung ni, yerlah nak ambil BMW yang berharga RM134,000.

Tapi cemana dia nak bawak keta dengan muka tertutup camtu? Oooo lupa plak, kat negri ni orang pompuan takleh bawak keta. Yerlahh takut mendatangkan maksiat kalau pompuan bawak keta nanti.

Kiranya cukup bagus gaklah depa kasi kat dia kunci kereta tu. Boleh lah dia jual ke, bagi hadiah kat suami dia ke atau adik lelaki dia ke, bapak dia ke, anak lelaki dia ke. Sekurang-kurangnya kalau dia jual pun leh dapat duit kan. Sedihlah kalau ade keta best-best tapi takleh bawak sendiri, kene amik supir dari luar negeri untuk bawak keta tu. Sedaplah supir tu nanti.

Pelik kat sini pompuan takleh bawak keta sendiri. Tapi pompuan leh duduk belakang supir atau taxi driver duk depan.


Tahniah akak dapat keta sebijik, walaupun takleh bawak sendiri tapi dapat juga keta tu!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Little One is Sick


In fact we all are. Down with fever, flu and cough. The Doctor told us that it was a viral infection. The Little One is clingy, wants to be breastfed all the time, refuses any food. When she suddenly has a burst of energy, she is considerably chatty and points outside. She wants to go out. To the play grond. To the play park.

But what's more difficult for me is when I am sick myself and at the same time, having to look after her. Looks like my beloved is falling sick as well.

Hope we all get better soon!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Slowly, slowy

I have to say that for most part I am a babywearer. I tend to carry my 13 month old using the Ergo when I go shopping. This is one story why I prefer using the baby carrier rather than s stroller.

Just yesterday we went to a local Mall. This one was one of the poshest, if not one of the nicest Mall in the capital. At this Mall you can see defiant local teenagers, females, with faces uncovered, @b@yas unbuttoned often showing off fashionable, sometimes tight fitting clothes.

I was using the stroller yesterday, because I thought it would be handy to have The Little One on the stroller while I shop. Normally I would use the lift but decided to take the elevator instead. Its a bit tricky I know but I managed to get the hang of it.

Now in most other countries where I have been, people; men and women would let you go first because they understand the intricacies of going up the elevator with a stroller. This being a country where the men dominate, things are somehow different. There is no such thing as chivalry, only chauvinism.

When a man dressed in army fatigues saw me approaching the escalator. What does he do? He walked faster and INSTRUCTED me to go slower. Surely he is in somesort of a hurry you'd think. Because at the top of the elevator is a food court! He told me to wait for him to get on the escalator first before I get on, even though I was there first, so they he can go to the food court before me! How very considerate of him!

I tell ya, even typing this story it makes my blood boil! Does he even have the consideration of a human being? I guess not. If anything, the man is the essence of the men here. They are often in a hurry to do nothing. They have no consideration for other people but for themselves. They are selfish. Pure chauvinistic pigs!

Its a shame really because I really had a much nicer experience using the stroller in Europe. People offer to help when they see a woman negotiating stairs with a stroller.

I always have to remind myself, culture is not the same as religion. It is the culture here that make the men the way they are, not the religion. The religion calls for tolerance, understanding and help for one another. They make think they are enforcing religious laws here but what it is really is the enforcement of their culture.

And I have to remind myself not to generalize.

Sebab nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga.

* Literal translation: Because of a drop of blue dye,a whole pot of milk is contaminated. Just because of a person's fault,the whole community/group related to the person gets a bad reputation.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Of choices and Decisions

About the new preschool in the compound, at the beginning there was talk about the possibility of having a group for the Little One's age group. But its been over a month since they opened and still no group for the Little One. My G3rman neighbour is ever too eager to send her child there. I however thought that I wanted to sit back and watch first, see if they have enough teachers to handle the children or have the capability to handle them. For me its not the going to school part thats important, but the quality of the experience that the Little One will get. The school owner is a bussiness woman who owns a home facial/beauty business and now a preschool business. The manager who runs it is. to my knowledge not one educated in early childhood education. A Western teacher, another mother, a journalist by training, had some previous experience as preschool teacher but no qualification in early childhood education either. And 3 other helpers, again no qualification. The mums are there so that their children have a school to go to. A noble idea, just that I'm weary.

Whats the point in spending money on something that would not be enriching her experience? Perhaps I'm better off educating her myself?

In the meantime I have been trying to educate myself a little bit more on this area. Even before I had The Little One, I had been toying the idea of homeschooling. Once upon a time I was a teacher myself and I recognize the perils of a large class with just one teacher. The student to teacher ratio, in my opinion, is pertinent to the quality of time, attention and interaction the student will have with the teacher. Often enough, its the trouble makers who dominate the teacher's attention. With homeschooling, ideally the child would have the undivided attention of the educator.

But I also recognize that a homeschooling mum is one who is capable of setting up and following a schedule. Uh uh. I have problems when it comes to schedules and time management. Take my friend Y who homeschools her 3 children. She does not go on the shopping bus because her children have school in the morning. She sets up a proper school room in her villa. And she has the patience and the tenacity to handle the education of her children. Her three children are very well behaved, well adjusted and well mannered. Can I do it as well as Y can?

And then I came across the concept of unschooling. The idea that the child would determine what the child would like to learn, without following a set curriculum. Apparently John Holt coined the term unschooling. Thus I need to get one or two of his books to read more about his ideas and philosophy.

So what I do in the meantime? Just to shower The Little One with as much love as attention as I can I guess. Even while I'm nursing my PMS.

Another sale I could not resist

I know, I know, I am getting too predictable. All I talk about is shopping. But hey what's a woman to do when the sales here is really really good? How good you may ask. Well, Debenhams has been having this sale and their sales item were reduced up to 70% off. And just for two days, they have a buy one and get one free, promotion for all sales item.

Imagine this, a child's clothing item is $115. After discount, its been reduced to $45. And on top of that, you buy one item, you get the second item free. So if you get 2 similar priced items, the average cost per item is $22.50. And so of course the little one gets a lil bit of spoiling. Got her 3 bottoms and 3 tops. Bought sizes slighter bigger than what she wears but hey children sometimes seems to have built in magic beans or something. One day they are tiny and the next, their clothes don't fit anymore!!

Just this morning I was trying to put on this new top I got for her about 2 months ago. The size for the top was 12 months, she's only 13 months so it should fit. But guess what? Her head was too big for the opening on the top! I almost had to tear the neck of the top off!

And for me? I could never resist a good Denby. I first fell in love with a Denby mug when I saw them in Hong Kong about 6 years ago. The mugs were a wee bit more than what we would normally pay for mugs but I was talking pottery lessons then, and had just learned the intricacies of glazing. We were so in love with the Denby mugs that we bought a pair.

When we were in England, we never did manage to go to the Denby factory. I had thought that perhaps they may have one in Stoke-upon-Trent. But of course my beloved pointed out that they won't be called Denby if they had a factory elsewhere.

But I am digressing. I managed to get a casserole pot for $150(Origionally $300) and get a pie dish free (Originally $275). My dearest, always so sweet also loved the Denby and pointed out the cappucino set to me. Of course we had to have 2 pairs. 4 sets for the price of a pair! Not bad indeed.

So much for trying not to spend! My beloved actually said that perhaps I should quit trying not to spend because I am such a rebellious character that I love to do things that I am not supposed to do! Haa haaa!

Now, all I need is a Nespresso machine! (In Belgium the Nespresso machines were all the rage, ranging from the cheap brands to the super expensive ones.) Don't think they'll have a buy one get one free Nespresso machine. Or would they?

[Ok I lied! On top of the Nespresso machine I would also like a Kenwood Major Chef Or a Kitchen Aid, a Dualit toaster, a new Magimix, an electric grill and an electric korean BBQ set. But all this could be a blog entry on its own!]

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lost

It seems I have lost my coherance and my ability to spell. I don't know what happened to me, somewhere between pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing I seem to have lost the ability to spell. Ocasionally when I do get to re-read my post I find countless spelling mistakes and even grammar mistakes! Have I lost some brain cells?

Perhaps I havent had time to read as much as I used to. I read AnaSalwa entries about the books she recently read and I am envious. My literary staple these days include blogs, magazines and the ocasional child development books. And a few children books of course. Nothing too complex, just books with a lot of pictures and minimal words. Is that why my spelling capability is dimisnishing? All the grrrr and the awwww and the meowwss and the mbeekkss? Perhaps my spelling brain cells have been replaced by animal sounds brain cells.

Or perhaps its my medication? It has made me lose a lot of hair! They seem to fall off in clumps. Does losing one's hair make one unable to spell or string gramatically coherant sentences?

Anyways I want to know if anyone else has a suggestion how I can regain these brain cells back!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My greatest weakness

There is one thing I cannot resist. As Awang Goneng aptly pointed out to me before, hogging is a sin ( ;)) but when it comes to shoes I have this weakness that I simply cannot overcome. Just recently on our holiday I acquired five pairs of shoes, three of them from my uncle Ferragamo. In my defence, I got them at very good prices, discounted no less, half off! At Bicester I bought 2 boots, one very practical black, flat shiny boots which were exceedingly comfortable. Now if you have big feet like me, comfortable shoes meant men shoes. But not since I was introduced to uncle Ferragamo! And the other is a very pretty 4cm heels. In Brussels, I got a pair of court shoes. Again I can never resist a good bargain.

The fourth was the classic Chanel ballerina pumps. Now I am compelled to buy from this one because for one, Chanel isn't available here. And two, when I wanted to buy them back in Singapore and/or Malaysia, they didn't have my size. Apparently, there don't bring in size 9s. Surely shoe sizes have changed back in Singapore/Malaysia but no they didn't bring in any. So of course I HAD to buy them! Its a necessity!

The fifth pair was a no brainer. It was a thirteen pound, fifteen pence Nine West shoes. We have Nine West here but the sort of shoes they bring in is so different from the ones available in the UK. Here they bring in the strappy sandals and the ornamental shoes while over there there bring in the sensible, very comfortable, walking shoes. I supposed people don't walk as much in their shoes here. With no public transport, its only 5 steps to the car and another 5 steps from the car to the door of the Mall. I was so chuffed when I found out that the origional price was fifty-five pounds, reduced twice before finally reduced to thirteen fifty. Almost bought another pair but I absolutely could not fit in another pair in my luggage. In fact, I could hardly zip up my luggage!

So I thought I had enough shoes for the year surely. As hubby dearest would say, I am all shoed out. Surprise, surprise! With little instigation yesterday, I bought another pair of white Ferragamo sandals. Of course its too cold to wear them now! But imagine wearing them in the Summer, when it gets really hot here. Surely I won't be able to wear the above boots and pumps! I will definitely need the open toed sandals!

My dearest wasn't too pleased. After all I, promised to save for the next holiday since we got back. But at three hundred eighty ringgit I could not resist!

When it comes to shoes. Especially comfortable ones and Ferragamo ones. I just cannot resist!

I've come a long way since my $20 budget on school shoes. At $20, it meant I had to wear canvas Bata, which had to be kapo-ed for most of my school going ife!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cultural Difference

I know a blogger who would be very interested in this topic but unfortunately she is too busy finishing her thesis at the moment.

I overheard this conversation on the bus recently. The background to this conversation is that a new playgroup has just been opened in our compound. The previous one was run by a British ladies and the current one is by a Canadian of Middle Eastern origin.

Some of the ladies were discussing if they would or would not send their child to the play group. One lady said that her child is only one and a half years old and therefore would not be able to learn anything. She said she would send her daughter when the daughter is three or four years old. "When we were young we didn't have all this but look at us now. We are OK. So why should we send our children to all this things? Why must we make them study early? They should just relax."

Another lady replied, "Well we want out children to be better than us."

I remember Atenah telling me about some cultures that don't stimulate their child before the age of two because they do not believe that the child would understand.

And I have seen many Malay families here who do not see the importance of sending their children to kindergarten. Also Arab news published a statistic that less than 8% of children in this kingdom go to kindergarten at all.

Very different from the Europeans. They send their children to the playgroups as soon as the play group would take them. They feel that it is very important for their children to be socialized especially at a young age. My German neighbour insist on meeting twice a week if not more often so the children could play together.

And my view? I personally have seen how the Little One has benefit from the social interactions with other children and other adults. And her experiences and exposure she had when we went to vacation recently has made her more aware of her surroundings. But she is inherently a very curoius child who seek social interaction. She would wave or seek attention of other children who passes by, or have I taught her that way?

Nature or nurture?