Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Home Sweet Home

We celebrated our 3rd anniversary at The Flat recently. Every Deepavali since 2011 marks our memories here. We thank Allah swt for shelter and protection in our little cosy home.

In 2012, we did not experience much electrical wear and tear, as The Flat was brand new. However, our door frames paint started bubbling up, popped and let loose dust/fine particles that left me with bronchitis. We have yet to find a contractor who is keen on taking the task of replacing those door frames and doors without ripping our wall paper apart. In order to provide short-term remedy, we have covered the paint bubbles over with contact paper in brown wood grain design. It is an eyesore, as the original paint is white, but one that we have to live with for now. Be thankful for small mercies. 

By 2013, our air-conditioner units started having problems one by one (we have 5) but we managed to service them. Maintenance of these 5 cost as much as buying one new unit and the tipping point came this year when the problematic unit in our master bedroom broke down.

2014 is the year The Other Half and I learn what BTU and HP do to cool our master bedroom down efficiently. We also learn that our concealed hoses and pipes would mean that changing our air-conditioner units to inverter models would first require hacking walls, floors, plaster ceiling and definitely not a project we are keen on.

In addition to BTU and HP, we need to factor in additional requirement as we have tempered glass windows facing west; humidity from master bathroom with added heat from its tempered glass windows, and the bonus of hosting up to 4 persons in the master bedroom (occasionally 2 young persons would be jumping on the bed!).

It was an expensive lesson as the first 1HP air-conditioner we bought wasn't providing sufficient cooling. We tried it for a week and Bean basically perspired whole night long, with irritable waking up for more feeds.

That resulted in a long heart-to-heart chat between The Other Half and I as we tried to find an amicable resolution.

In the end, we agreed to purchase another normal 2HP air-conditioner and trade-in our brand new 1HP Sharp at a loss (we couldn't find anyone to inherit this one week young unit!). In sha Allah, this will keep us cool and sleeping well for years to come.

On another note, we pray the marble tiles will not chip and crack too much, as that would mean topping the entire living and dining with treated laminated wood *cringe at the thought of hard labour involved* already there are some really bad/deep chips and I am trying to find solutions that do not involve carpets (slip hazard, dust).

How do you upkeep and maintain your home? Do you set annual budget allocation for improvements and repairs? Do you have reliable contractors who do a fine job? Please do share!
Tuesday, 28 October 2014


No, I am NOT pregnant.

Work is so stressful lately I feel nauseated whenever more work related email comes into my inbox. 

The last time I felt this insurmountable  stress was 2002 when I was serving my pupillage! The gloom and doom, uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety...expectations...

How do you cope with such stress? Do you network and look for solutions amongst peers? Do you have a reliable mentor to fall back on for counsel?

Quitting is not an option in my it  looks like I will just have to persevere until I find solutions to those matters. In my line of practice, experience counts  equally as much if not more than knowledge. Right now, I could use some extra dose of both.

Staying-at-home and dealing with kids then working-from-home and still dealing with kids, I admit, has weakened my work-related skills, accuracy and acumen after 61 months.

Whilst it can be tough to focus on drafting documents with background noise and putting the pairs of eyes behind my head on full alert in case Bean bumps or falls, those are not excuses acceptable to my paymaster. The sooner I find my mojo, the better.

The silver lining is that I turn to Him for answers, and strength to carry on. May Allah swt shower answers, wisdom and blessings my way, Amin!

As well as this drawing by The Little Girl as motivation:

I can do this! I have to.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Ahjumma Alert

One of the ways I destress is by watching  K-dramas (DVD box set which allows for flexibility of time I take to finish a series). 

The last was "Shark" as it was attention-grabbing till the very end. I first caught it on Astro and enjoyed it so much I bought the box set to re-watch in future. It has joined my stash of Sex And The City and Lipstick Jungle!

In search of something new, I had recently stumbled upon "I Can Hear Your Voice" and find it thrilling enough to desire following all 18 episodes. I watch an episode a week, so it is really slow going for me. K-drama marathons are unfortunately a luxury I cannot afford as sleep, broken or otherwise, is vital for me to properly function. 

Watching fictional dramas allow some silliness into my already too real, tiring and sometimes stressful life. I like the fact that plots are merely fiction, therefore the events depicted do not affect my emotions.

Korean fashion and screenplay style is a fresh change from Hollywood production. I suspect this is the same reason why I enjoy independent films from Europe, when I can find good ones with English subtitles. The clean, bright and happy aura from romance fore story, despite murder backstories in courtroom drama, is uplifting!

Are you an ahjumma too? Which K-drama series would you recommend, and why? Please do share!
Friday, 24 October 2014

New Resolution

We are celebrating a new hijrah year, in sha Allah, tomorrow.

Syukur alhamdulillah for the year that is passing. With every new year, I have a new resolution to be a better person to correct my "misdeed". After all, my life is about a journey towards betterment.

I am sorry for any posts that may have somehow offended any of you. This blog is to record my journey as a person with different roles and not written with mala fide to judge others. 

Let's start the new hijrah year with a clean slate, repent our past mistakes and fill the year to come with more good deeds/thoughts and graciousness. 

Salam Awal Muharram, my lovelies. Have a great hijrah year and blessed 1436H ahead!
Thursday, 23 October 2014

Day 4 Malacca

We got a bright and early start to visit some of the remaining museums near the hotel right after breakfast. The Little Girl kept a mental checklist of which buildings we "needed" to go by eliminating those we had already been to. 

At 9 am, we were probably the first visitors at the UMNO Museum. I bet we almost beat the staff to the punch card machines! The best thing about having been early was that we could capture a human-traffic free photo of the Fort A Formosa:


The other museums were not as captivating as all The Little Girl could think about was the playground! There weren't any interactive displays to our dismay. 

Curious note: what is the difference between stamp museum and philately museum, can someone please point out the difference(s) to me? I thought the Melaka Stamp Museum should be Melaka Philately Museum simply because it contained a very detailed display of more than just stamps. Perhaps we should credit the museum for its extensive philatelic collection?

Incidentally we had sung the national anthem under the flag that previous rainy afternoon and she remembered! The tune, some lyrics and especially memories of her nutty family! We sang another round of our national anthem then paced back to the hotel as we had to meet the check-out deadline at noon, with a preceding lunch via room service. 

At the end of this trip, we did promise her another trip to this wonderful historical city when she gets local history and geography to learn up at The Big School. 

Our drive back to Ayer Keroh toll via Jonker area was quite interesting as we got a glimpse of various shop façade. Garmin very nearly led us home via the country roads (that would have been scenic indeed!) but we were just dying to get back home as quickly as we could so we hit "override" Garmin by following the reliable and clear road signs. Perhaps, scenic route next time, in sha Allah. The best part about our drive home just had to be the sight of two sleeping children, snoring away, exhausted from new sensorial overdose. 

Syukur Alhamdulillah for the short, sweet and safe mini break. Thank you for hosting us, Malacca!
Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Day 3 Malacca

Mini Malaysia was a huge success with the kids on our third day in Malacca. They explored all 13 state houses.

Here is a summary of what they did:
Removed shoes.
Climbed up steps.
Checked every room.
Ran along every corridor.
Peeped out of every window.
Jumped on every verandah.
Stood under every fan.
Climbed down steps.
Put on shoes.
Ran to the house next door.

x 13!

At "high speed mode"!

Havoc is an understatement!!

I do not know how a small portion of breakfast at the hotel can power them on endlessly?!

The Little Girl was later treated her second round of pony ride, a whole can of cold, sugary soya bean drink to cool down and 3 copies of family photographs from the booth (modus operand: Mini Malaysia staff would capture family photos at the entrance before anyone is drenched in perspiration, how clever!).

We were so exhausted and famished at the end of it, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious and sumptuous lunch at Kampachi. Initially, we thought the kids would konk out after the meal fit for a king; but they were so full of energy they wanted more to do!

So, out we went to Jonker Walk, TLDM Museum, Customs Museum and The Ship. Stadhuys was under renovation and shut, unfortunately.

The long and hot walk ended at the playground near Taming Sari Tower (the queue to ride up the tower was too long for us to even want to think about joining it). Since the skies were hazy, we decided to strike this off our checklist.

Disappointingly, it was another evening of dinner via room service (but the good food makes up for it!); and early night in for everyone after being washed up. Truly, I wished for some halal nyonya cuisine but alas...


I have recently learnt a new approach from a dear friend/mentor/sister. 

"What others think of you is their business, not yours."

Simple, much?

Works like a charm every time I feel small, intimidated or inferior over what someone else thinks/says about me/what I do, etc. 

Try it! Please do share if it helps you too. Stay positive, my lovelies!

Happy Deepavali

Have a good one, my lovelies! Stay safe and enjoy the festivities with your loved ones. 
Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Day 2 Malacca

Our second day at Malacca was a pleasant surprise. We chanced upon Melaka Bird Park with canopy walk! 

Unfortunately Bean was having his morning nap so he missed most of the climbing and walking atop the park The Little Girl had enjoyed herself thoroughly with The Other Half. In hindsight, we should have bought the birdfeed sold at the entrance to make the visit even more interesting for The Little Girl.

The Melaka Bird Park is relatively new, and the birds looked "fresher" compared to KL Bird Park. 
After cooling down with some cold drinks at the café, we drove to Melaka Mall for lunch but could not find anything suitable and had to force down a meal at McDonald's. The kids ate very little as they are not used to fast food. After lunch, we saw Aeon with slightly broader food option just across the street *facepalm*

We tried going to Mini Malaysia but rain started to pour as soon as we arrived at its entrance so it was very quickly decided that a rain cheque was most apt.

The monsoon rain poured on and by 4 pm, we took out our brollies, packed Bean into my Ergobaby carrier, braved the raindrops-puddles-on-the-road and took the kids to Istana Budaya and Independence Museum nearby. They also saw Fort A Famosa but especially enjoyed running along the long corridors inside Istana Budaya. 

The Little Girl saw a flagpole with Malaysia flag drenched in the rain so The Other Half and I sang her our national anthem to cheer her up. Patriotism must be instilled from young, and we wish for her to be proud of being a Malaysian. Bean sang too, if you count teepateepateh as a tune!

Dinner was a convenient meal via room service and the kids slept early after being washed, exhausted from sightseeing. They were recharging for another day promised with adventures, bless!
Monday, 20 October 2014

Day 1 Malacca

We started our short Deepavali holiday quite late in the day as we only left home after lunch. How typical, some would assert! 

As soon as we exit the toll at Ayer Keroh, we were greeted by an overdose of Mister Potato advertisement by Mamee-Double Decker. Every single turn, every single space imaginable were covered with the single message. 

The next message was "Don't Mess With Melaka" which we did not quite get until we saw an explanation, 3 days later. (It is an anti-littering campaign!). 

Our 4D/3N trip was firstly spent walking around Dataran Pahlawan, Hatten Square, Mahkota Parade and back. The Other Half and I last visited Melaka in 2008, so we were quite surprised to find so many new buildings in the vicinity. We were expecting UNESCO site with preservation and active conservation!

The bonus: We saw some new digs in and around the fort. We were quite surprised not to find many tourists flocking these historical sites. 

Despite the many new hotels offered on Agoda, we booked for Equatorial Melaka because it is within walking distance to museums. That proved to be a wise decision as proximity to places of attraction when walking about with two children under 5 can sometimes feel like a cross-country challenge with extra dose of heat and humidity.

Noticeably, every mall we entered had displays of kolam considering it was Deepavali week. It was pleasant to see diversity being celebrated. The lobby of Equatorial Melaka had a huge kolam too!

Not knowing where to find halal food other than at the hotel, that was not McDonald's, we settled for Nando's at Mahkota Parade. Not the most adventurous diners, evidently! 

We then marched safely back to the hotel for an early night in before Maghrib. Not the most adventurous travellers either, evidently!
Sunday, 19 October 2014

16 Months

Bean turns 16 months today.

He has cut a new left hand side upper pramolar to mark this special occasion, bringing his total pearly whites to 15.

Today, he insisted on cleaning the floor using our Kao Magic Dry Mop. It was the cutest sight to me. 

Whenever we sit at the piano to tinker a tune or two, he requests for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by gesturing with his 10 fingers. Open. Close. Open. Close. When I play him his favourite tune, he chuckles with glee and has recently shown interest in playing piano using the "one finger" method. He knows to press the same key twice for this familiar song.

His animal-sound-association is improving as we sing Old MacDonald reinforced with picture book. He is now able to say "baa baa" when he sees a drawing/picture/photograph of sheep. 

He describes the rest with pointer finger and a grunt. So manly, yes?! We are not fretting over his speech as he has been calling us (respectively at the correct person), "dada", "mama", "kakak", "Gan dad" and "Gan ma". No rush with speech.

As a parent, I am proud of his motor skills like walking (can even reverse!), running and climbing down the sofa/bed using the "touch tummy to sofa/bed, feet first method".

If there is one thing he doesn't do very much, it is outdoor playground - all credit and glory to haze for this, unfortunately. 

His favourite toys are Lego Duplo, balls, vehicles with wheels, musical instruments, basic puzzles, his sister's dolls house and kitchen, his tool table and soft toys. When we visit at the local mall, he knows to point at rides and grunts/screams until we let him ride on one. Or two. Or more!

Books keep him busy. Eric Carle, Julia Donaldson, Beatrix Potter and Laura Wall are some of his current favourite authors. He would pick a book then plonks himself onto my lap for story time. 

His appetite is normal for someone his age. Egg yolk is not his favourite food, so I would usually scramble his eggs to ensure he consumes the whole egg. It would seem he eats better than The Little Girl, who is an average eater, but both are big fans of fruits and vegetables.

He is still being breastfed. He keeps a routine of morning feed before waking up, afternoon before his nap, and evening before sleeping. He is fed on demand throughout the night on a 3 or 4 hourly pattern.

His use of the sippy cup is works-in-progress. Occasionally, he chokes from the fast flow. Once, he threw up his just eaten snack from the gag reflex. Poor boy and poor Mummy who were both covered in "cookie batter" grime and saliva!

His pincer grip and general grip is decent enough to self-feed cut fruits and vegetables. We are slowly introducing spoon and spork. 

Increasingly, his interest is in carrying out out tasks with two instructions/action. For example, "please take this school bag and hand it to Kakak", or "sit here and read your book". He knows to "wait", "stop" and "come here". I love "kiss Mummy" and "cuddle Mummy" because he would press both my cheeks, kisses me on my lips and sometimes even wrap his arms around my neck.

The sound of pitter patter footsteps as he runs to greet me melts me. Arms high up in the air, huge grin on his cheeky face, sparkle in his eyes and the warmest cuddle be mine when I lift him up. Especially sweet of him to greet me this way when I return from school run.

I forget about my broken sleep, and my fatigue gets erased easily with his unconditional love. 

Bless! Happy 16th month, Bean.
Saturday, 18 October 2014

Vegetarian Night

Yes, I am still feeling under the weather. 

We had a vegetarian stir fry dish with hard boiled eggs for dinner. Luckily for me, the kids love simple dishes (I am not a very good cook, and still have so much to learn!). 

Also, we managed to pack 50% of our luggage. The other 50% will be added tomorrow once we can, in sha Allah.

Happy holidays, my lovelies!
Friday, 17 October 2014

Soul Food

I, the cook, have a sore throat and presumptiously brought out the couldron to boil some chicken soup (for the soul). 

A sickly cook is not the best cook. I gathered every bit of energy left and started making dinner at 3.30 pm! 

An hour later, dinner was served.

4.30 pm!! 

You read that right.

The "high tea" was macaroni with cheese for The Little Girl and Bean; while The Other Half and I ate macaroni with braised mushroom and butter chicken in maple syrup sauce. 

High tea concluded at 5.30 pm and we quickly washed Bean as he was screaming for some sleep after a busy day. 

The Little Girl is slightly more resilient, and  is now enjoying her evening routine of shower, story books, a few bottles of goats' milk and clean up time before being tucked in. 

Oh, just as well we didn't eat out tonight because the evening shower promptly fell during the evening rush hour and the artery outside is blocked, true to Friday exodus from KLCC. It is not monsoon thunderstorm, luckily for those still stuck and probably thinking of RM2.50/l of petrol as the sea of red lights flickered. 

Have a great weekend, my lovelies! Safe travels and happy holidays to those who are celebrating Diwali/term break. 
Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Throat Soother

The haze! The haze! 

My own lemon-strawberry vitamin water to the rescue. Sometimes I use lemon-mint for that zesty minty fresh taste. When my throat is especially scratchy and dry, I add some Manuka honey.

The Little Girl calls this "mummy's fancy jug of water". She loves drinking from it too, luckily for me!

What is your favourite home concoction of vitamin water? Please do share!

An Apology For Delays

I finally made it a point this morning to compile my bank statements for the last 7 years. It feels good to be able to have easy access to them in a neat file should the need arise again for quick reference/documentary evidence of transactions.

The neat freak in me loves this exercise so much that it has spilled over to insurance, trust, and other financial related documents relating to both personal and work areas.

Once they are orderly, I am going to review each and every file to better manage each of them. Which insurance policies require inflation adjustments, which trust beneficiaries require better stipends, which properties require rental increment reviews etc.

Looks like a busy week ahead, and I am loving it! If indeed you receive a message from me in the next week or two, you will know for sure your matter is being handled, managed and taken care of. As for the few who are experiencing delays, I promise to pull myself together and work expediently on your matter.

Until then, take good care, my lovelies!


Two things are certain in this life, they say. Death; and taxes.

Last week, these two certainties came to pass.

Firstly, I lost a beloved friend/mother figure. Al-Fatihah is what I say every time I think of her. From Him we come, to Him we shall return. May Allah swt place her among the best of His believers, Amin!

Secondly, I received a tax refund confirmation from LHDN. A refund that has been credited into my bank account. It had been an uncomfortable audit but, truly, alhamdulillah for this favourable results.

If you find yourself facing one or both of these certainties, please do not despair - just trust in Him. Stay encouraged, my lovelies!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Yasmin Mogahed

"Learning is a gift. Even when pain is your teacher."

"You become what you love. So, choose wisely what you love."

The above phrases pierced my heart and soul this week and has been keeping me motivated to trudge on, to untangle some corporate knots and most importantly to remain calm when baseless accusations fly. A quick lunch with a soul sister has revealed so much for us both to learn and take invaluable lessons from the experience. 

Similarly, The Little Girl recently discovered that she is at a tough spot of her piano lessons. Chords are getting tougher, the pace has rapidly developed from minim to semi-quiver. She is only 4.5 years old so quitting is not an option. I can attest the fine line between discipline and passion now as the discipline it takes to master some pieces must not kill her passion for making music! The gameplan has changed from traditional class method to immersion. Little Einstein, the animated series, in DVD form, is coming to rescue us. Hopefully she will recall all the tunes and tinker again at ebony and ivory. 

As such, we are keeping those wise words from Yasmin Mogahed to plant our feet firmly to the ground without ever losing our dreams in the clouds. We have at our own space and time shed some tears over our own struggles, and that is all part and parcel of personal accountability. As the song goes, "superheroes have the right to bleed" too. 

I am sure we will both survive this tough period. In sha Allah!
Monday, 13 October 2014

Books Exchange

We love our books and it has come to a point where our book clutter has to be reduced.

Fortunately, we recently stumbled upon this book exchange which accepts pre-loved books in good condition to be shared with others. 

This wonderful nook is at the Ground Floor of The Curve, at a premium frozen yoghurt cafe, complete with a cosy reading corner.

Feel free to ply the shelves with your pre-loved books, and when you are very blessed, you may find an edition that suits your fancy too!

Sharing is caring, have fun!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Another Speedy Indeedy Meal

It has been hazy, humid and affecting our appetite for heavy meals. 

My mojo for cooking seems to deteriorate every time the API index gets higher *wonderful excuse to tell The Other Half* but eat healthily and wholesomely we still must do!

Light meals such as cheese sandwiches with fruit salad at lunch serve us well. The more fruits and vegetables we consume during such hazy days, the lesser chance of us falling ill. 

As for me, the cook, no cooking makes me happy! The fruit salad changes every time as I prepare a combination of random seasonal fruits we happen to have in the fruit drawer of our fridge.

Give it a munch and let me know if you enjoy the clean, refreshing taste as much as we do.

Bon appetit!

Special Laundry Day

Do you have such days too? 

We do this about once monthly. The toys take turns, so the kids will still have sufficient toys to play with when some are being washed and left flat to dry. 

On weeks when the toys are not being washed, a Rainbow "vacuum in a bag" treatment help rid of dust and fluff. 

Admittedly, we have too many soft toys and we have held countless family meetings to decide which stays, and which will go to underprivileged children. So far, none are going. 

Meeting adjourned. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Bonding Meeting

Essentially, that was a fancy label for "Report Card Day".

The Little Girl has been assessed as an advanced reader in English Language for her age. Zero Mandarin, smattering of Bahasa Melayu sukukata

She is making progress at writing sentences, solving sums (+/-) up to 50, colouring and drawing. 

Especially keen in life skills materials such as bottles and caps, trying to master buttons and zippers, and is a daydreamer who needs prompting when it comes to practising her writing within the lines. 

Confirmed left-handed, one who tries to adjust to the right-handed world by being ambidextrous, except for writing.

Alhamdulillah she is on track, for what is to come.

Big School, here we come!

KL Bird Park

It was 10 am, just in time for the feeding session. Hot and humid, as expected. We paid the discounted entry fees by producing our respective MyKad and MyKid cards. Parking was free of charge.

Mr. Peacock.

Madam Peafowl.

Scarlet ibis, a visual treat for all of us that morning. The stream was a free and easy open space which we prefer over large cages where the hornbills were kept.

There were also fenced and caged areas for emu and ostrich which left us to later on wonder the purpose of so doing to flightless birds as KL Bird Park is a covered aviary. 

Regrettably, there was no baby change room in sight, so we were understandably overjoyed to find Bean's dry diaper that morning.

Fortunately, we have packed along some drinking water for the little ones, and Hornbill Café sells icy cold Ribena at the exit point, which we deemed as necessary treat upon completing the circuit on a humid day. The strong blast of cool air from air-conditioning units was a bonus!

Would we return next year, as we tend to visit the Bird Park once annually?

In sha Allah, yes. 

Enjoy your day out, my lovelies!

14 Teeth

Bean has added a bottom right pramolar to his chewing crew. Homemade chicken popcorn gets eaten faster than ever, cooling cucumber sticks chopped off faster than I can blink.

It is sweet of him to offer to brush his own teeth as part of his evening routine. One toothbrush for him to explore with, the other for me to actually brush his 14 teeth with. Occasionally, he would refuse to place his toothbrush back or runs away with it with loud laughter, sporting a huge mischievous grin. 

We forgot we have this soothing gel to calm his teething discomfort, how silly! We used to rub some on every evening when he was cutting his incisors. Maybe we should resume...

Alhamdulillah he slept well last night, and may he sleep well for many nights to come, Amin!

The Speedy Indeedy Meal

Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, served with grated cheese. We recently discovered that The Little Girl and Bean both enjoy their pasta sauce mince-free. We also learnt that some grated cheese always adds a fun twist to their taste and texture on a platter *slow parents*

Steamed broccoli. No brainer, 100% win for all as it is so easy to chop, rinse and steam *lazy mum*

Skinless pan-fried chicken breast. Wash, pat dry, score, marinate with pinch of salt and pepper, coat lightly with corn flour, fry with butter 5 minutes on each side. The trick to retaining juicy fried chicken is keeping the lid on while frying (use a glass lid, and kitchen timer) *slow learner*

In conclusion, there is hope for me in the kitchen. The trinity of my being a slow parent, lazy mum and slow learner all add up as odds against my attempt at being Annabel Karmel-Jamie Oliver-Chef Wan. 

The verdict is since my family cleaned their dinner plates last night, I will keep this combo as a fortnightly feature on our dinner rotation.

Feel free to try this meal if you are in a rush. Bon appetit!
Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Gratitude: Dignified, Quality Life

Today I am thankful for the dignified and quality life Allah swt has blessed my FIL with. 

Happy, blessed 71st birthday, Dad. May Allah swt grant you good health and protection, laughter and carefree days. May your life in Dunya be meaningful and fruitful. May your right scale be ever full, ever heavy. May your right Angel be ever busy scribing your good deeds and may your Ibadah all be perfect and accepted.

We love you and thank you for being you, Dad. Happy blessed birthday, from us all. 

Al-Fatihah: Mama Elena

Today, I had been mostly tearful inside. Occasionally the tears flows but my heart mostly bleeds from within.

This is going to be a very difficult post to write so this will remain in my draft till I am ready to hit the "publish" button.

By the time you read this, Mama Elena, mother to Mamapumpkin, had been placed to rest at Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery. 

As I ride the wave of the 5 stages of Loss and Grief as proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I am sure her other dear and close family and friends are/were/still feeling them more intensely. 

A chance encounter with her daughter, Mamapumpkin, (after following the latter's blog about her struggles, inter alia) on one blessed afternoon last year led to a friendship inexplicably random but close. We grew from strangers to online friends to sisters of kindred spirits within months. Her mama became mine. 

Bottles of air zam zam, healing guidebooks and translations of The Holy Quran, iQuran HD downloads, arrangements for Ustazah appointments, a couple of home visits and numerous text messages all seem so little in the lifetime she has fought her illness. 

I feel like I was merely 1/14 of it all. The last 14/14 portion. The little piece that helped the puzzle piece together.

The random cards and gifts for birthday and Mothers' Day were puisne in the greater scheme of things. My only wish remain that those little thoughts had brought her some cheer. Some hope. Some time. Some healing.

Had I been His Vessel? Had I been a mark that the end was close? 

I don't know. Only He Knows. SubhanAllah.

It hit me like a tonne of bricks on Monday 6 October 2014 when I received a text message to describe that she had been hospitalised after being sent to Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur via an ambulance earlier that day.

On my home front, arrangements were quickly made, permission from The Other Half sought, and dinner prepared, ready to be served after the brief hospital visit. I did not have to go, but I wanted to. I just knew I had to be there.

Another tonne of bricks fell upon me when another text message described that should something happen to her, my fardhu kifayah duties would fall upon me.

I was not ready, emotionally.

How can one ever prepare for this?

When I saw her last, I whispered our shahadah, repeatedly, into her left ear as her right ear was pressed down upon a pillow. She was facing the qiblat, and was alert. She whispered back what she could. 

I had whispered to her that we all love her very very much, and that I will be here for her daughter and family. 

I whispered her that when Allah gives us pain, He takes away all our sins.

She was calm, and ready.

She then asked for her tasbih, and started praying, berzikir. La ilaha illala. SubhanAllah. Astagfirullah. 

That was the last time I saw her. Berzikir. 

I left the hospital with The Little Girl soon after a quiet discussion outside the ward along the hallway with Mamapumpkin and another lady. We arrived home and family evening routine resumed.

In the wee hours of 7 October 2014, I had a dream. She was calm. I had told her in my dreams not to worry. From Him we come, to Him we return.

This morning, I was late. A text message arrived to say "mom passed away". All at once I felt anger. Angry at myself for having placed work above her. Angry at myself for not doing enough.

I cried. 

I cried because I broke my promise to visit her punctually after dropping The Little Girl off at Playschool. I cried because I didn't have the emotional strength to face what was coming.

The Other Half remained strong and steady to provide practical solutions and guidance, and a shoulder to cry on. He knew too well that I cannot possibly be at two places simultaneously so he took charge of Bean and The Little Girl's school run, just for a short while, so that I could pay a short visit to arwah. 

A good fight it had been. Rest well, Mama Elena. 

I am ever thankful to Allah swt that our paths crossed, albeit just for a short time. I wish my sincerity had been deeper, my love stronger, my devotion fuller. I wish everything had been more obvious from the start so that I could have done more.

Whatever little we have shared, laughed over, prayed together, fasted for, I will cherish forever. 

Thank you for building my faith, and showing me how strong yours is.

Thank you for fortifying my soul, through your inner beauty and outward grace.

Thank you for showing me the meaning of life, through fighting for yours.

Thank you for everything. 

Al-Fatihah, Mama Elena. May Allah swt place you in Jannah amongst the best of His Believers. Amin!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Second Pregnancy: Nyonya Acar

Please do not ask me what possessed me to make this dish from scratch. My only defence is that I was pregnant with Bean at that time and I can assure you MY crazy hormones were entirely responsible for this manic act.

It was delicious so maybe I will attempt this again someday!

What is/was your unreasonable pregnancy craving? Please do share!

AirFryer: Frozen Fish Fingers & Chips

On busy days, pressed for time, I would serve this for dinner. 180C for 18 minutes for the frozen fish fingers and chips (no oil added!).

In order to lessen my guilt on feeding my lot unhealthy meals, I steam some broccoli and carrots for 20 minutes.

I am not entirely proud of myself but...

AirFryer: Kale

Organic kale, washed and drained, drizzled with 1 tbsp olive oil. 

Placed into my trusty Philips AirFryer at 180C for 15 minutes.


"Keropok," said The Little Girl. 

Bon appetit!

Potty Training

We potty trained The Little Girl at about 36-39 months old. 

Disclaimer: By potty training here, I mean training her to urinate into the toilet bowl using a toilet seat with toilet seat insert for children. Also includes personal hygiene and proper hand washing with soap, water and drying afterwards. 

Further disclaimer: We are still working on squat toilet technique.

Final Disclaimer: This is NOT the best method.

Back to our experience...

It coincided with the final trimester when I was carrying Bean and if not for Miss K at the Playschool, I would not have initiated it (I had wrongfully thought it was too much for me to deal with!).

Surprisingly, The Little Girl was ready and she was able to stay dry both day and night with the caveat that we had to cue her potty calls initially. 

We made it on account of trial and error - when we could have bought a book and read up ahead just like so many other area of parenting...tsk tsk tsk...

Excitingly, we had to repeatedly cue her before car rides (oh, we had an incident once where she told us she needed the loo when in fact she had already done it in her car seat - horrors!). On the bright side, I learnt how to handwash and dry car seat covers *pout*

We also learnt to never allow her too much to drink if we were dining out (rushing to the loo midway through an expensive meal and leaving a table full of our meal to be taken away - horrors!).

On the upside, her biggest achievement was staying dry from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Feringghi with only one toilet break at Ipoh. Score for that road trip!

Due to my own insecurities/laziness, we still gave her the option of a pair of disposable pull up pants at night but eventually upgraded her to one of those cloth training pants with cotton padded inserts. 

Photo above- day time training pants.

Our secret was: We bought the most boring design we could find so as to motivate her toward the more attractive and comfortable cotton panties. 

Photo above - night time/sleeping training pants.

Initially there were a few accidents at night around 5 or 6 am but luckily for us, the hospital quality bed absorbant liners protected our mattresses. A quick grab of all wet sheets and clothing, 60C machine wash and tumble dry were real blessings!

Slowly but surely those accidents lessened and one fine day, it felt as if she had been potty trained since...forever!

The biggest relief was not having to buy her anymore disposable pull up pants, compensated only by having to purchase one of those disposable toilet seat liners to prevent getting dirty at public facilities.

Was I ready to potty train her? No.
Was the effort worth it? Yes!
Do I remember how tough it was? Not really.

*sometimes I love having a vague memory of the difficult/challenging parts to parenting*

By all means, do buy that book on potty training. It just makes life so much simpler.  Rule No. 1: Relax. 

Happy potty training! 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Floor Mat Safety

Late last year, I learnt of a sad incident where a child ran, slipped, knocked the back of her head really hard and went into a coma. She eventually died without gaining consciousness. She was 5.

When an unfortunate incident such as the above happens, it prompts me to look into the health and safety issues we have at The Flat.

One way I thought we can prevent injuries is to stow away clean floor mats away from curious little ones who will play magic carpet rides etc with them. Very good for imagination, not so good in terms of slipping risk. (Please keep those little Aladdins and Princesses Jasmine under watchful eyes).

Another way I thought we can prevent slippy floor mats is to add the grip tape to the underside of our floor mats so that they stay, well, gripped. 

The grip tape we are currently using was bought from Lakeland in York, but I have been informed that similar ones are available at Home-Fix around Klang Valley.

Take a minute of your next floor mat change, please tape on each corner just about 2" of grip tape on the underside. 

Better safe than sorry. 

Keep safe, my lovelies!

Gratitude: Official Affairs

I am thankful for smooth completion of some official affairs today.

Especially so because I have not done an increase of authorised share capital exercise since 2008!

Firstly, a receiving officer at Maybank KLCC was efficient at her task despite the long queue. Her smile was a plus point. She did not seem stressed out at all, and seemed to enjoy her job - how sweet!

Secondly,  an officer behind the counter was especially kind and smiley which just makes my day. A smile is one of the best charity one can do all the time. May Allah swt bless them both.

Thirdly, I discovered that I secretly enjoy my quiet "me-time" during long wait at the queues today. I cannot remember the last time I could just stand in line patiently, my mind free to think of ideas without getting interrupted by chatter or noise (usual suspects being my kids!). That to me, was resting. I wasn't multi-tasking, I wasn't rushing. I was just present. Thank Allah swt for that gentle reminder that we can remember Him and Praise Him more during such "down time". 

With all the official business of the day concluded, and the Jamie Oliver Roast Chicken that did not burn in our oven, thank You!

How about you, my lovelies? Did you have a fruitful day too?

P/S: Our printer broke down last night but only after all my essential papers for this morning have been printed. Do you see how He Wills everything to happen, or otherwise? SubhanAllah!
Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Gratitude: Protection

Today I am thankful for His Protection.

1. Our experienced family solicitor vetted some corporate documents and corrected some minor but vital errors that I have made. I learn so much every time we meet, it makes me feel that undoubtedly hands-on work experience is invaluable. He is in his 60s and has lived so much yet remains so humble it is touching.

2. A truck-van mishap happened along Lebuhraya Mahameru right in front of my car. The Little Girl was safely anchored in her 5 point harness Recaro. I had just finished saying a supplication for safety on our journey home as the rain was beginning to pour. Never underestimate how much our reliance is on His Protection. Syukur alhamdulillah.

3. My trustworthy consultant submitted an invoice for services to be rendered. Their professional advice has guided me throughout the years to make sound judgment, although some have been intricate and tedious which seem expensive on the surface. I am thankful for having been introduced them. 

What are you thankful for today? Please do share!