Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ladybird Organic Farm

Alhamdulillah for such a gorgeous day to be out and about in fresh air and sunshine!

The drive to Jalan Broga in Semenyih was not difficult at all as we followed the route to University of Nottingham from Country Heights. It is on the same side of the road as the university, just about 2 km farther down. 

Entrance was free, and we were allowed to freely roam on the farm. Workers went about their routine, insects buzzed without bothering us. Only a gaggle of geese honked loudly and cheerfully to greet us from their paddock which was a delightful treat for city kids.

The kids had a brief session of walkabout and came face to face with food source not already washed, processed, packed and placed onto shelves. They were amazed by the fact that their food were still rooted to the ground and growing! 

Priceless expressions on their city faces as they discovered earth, ant, sand, farm dog (which looked fierce and scared the kids just a wee bit), fish pond and met walking and talking farmers they have previously only seen in books (wow!). We did not get to the rabbits and cockrel cages as it was noon and just too hot.

The farm delivers organic produce to homes nearby and our request for KLCC was politely declined on the spot due to distance and traffic jam. If you live within Semenyih, Kajang and Bangi then you are in luck!

You may look it up on Facebook or ring Mr David at +6016-2634863 for group arrangements. It is open daily from 7.30am to 7.30pm. Entrance is free for free and easy roam, organised guided tour is RM10 per person. Meals can be pre-arranged too. 

Location: Ladybird Organic Farm, Lot 1731, Batu 25,Jalan Broga,43500 Semenyih, Selangor Darul Ehsan. (near University of Nottingham Malaysia campus)
GPS Coordinates: 2.939158, 101.898488

Hope you will enjoy this organic farm as much as we did *big smile* Happy Federal Territory Day/Blessed Thaipusam/ happy holidays!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Faith Friday: Reversion Anniversary

"Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things. Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness he will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith their patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (forever)." Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 256-257 of The Holy Quran.

In sha Allah, come 7 February 2015, I will turn 6 as a revert. "This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." Quotes from part of Surah Al-Maeda Ayat 5 of The Holy Quran.

 I am still fairly new on this journey and my wish is for Allah swt to purify me further. It is amazing how every year, He allows me to be a stronger Muslimah, to Him I am eternally grateful.

May I be reminded of His Mercy, always. I am reading Surah Al-Kafiroon Ayat 1-6 with stronger conviction than before about monotheism. It is such a beautiful Surah for me to hang on to during troubled, lonely times when I seem to struggle on my own, for myself, in getting closer to Him. I know He will come closer at least double the effort that I put in so I must stay encouraged. The promise of His Help is a prayer or supplication away and truly, and His Answers always is timely.

Thank You for removing my Dunya distractions one by one, and all praise and glory be unto You for reshaping, remoulding me to best serve Your Purpose. Thank You for removing my dark days of hurt and replacing it with joy from within.

Let's look forward to a more meaningful and productive year ahead on this personal hijrah journey, may my devotion and acts of worship be increased to please Him, Amin!
Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Skills For End Times

1. Swimming
2. Archery
3. Horse-Riding

Totally on my family to-do list. We pray Allah swt will grant us sufficient time to equip ourselves with these basic survival skills. We are blessed that the kids get swimming lessons as part of school syllabus so that is one less headache...

The groundwork and research has started for archery and horse-riding. Some of the fees are exorbitant while some others are more affordable (read: much farther from home).


If you have any good leads, please do share! Thank you. 
Saturday, 24 January 2015

How To Choose A Music School

We got ourselves a piano last year just as The Little Girl turned 4 because we wanted her to develop both her right and left brains, in a nutshell. 

In the bigger scheme of things, we hope she develops listening, pitching, movement (dancing) and tempo accurately. The Other Half and I both were deprived of proper/formal/private  music lessons when we were growing up so we were really keen not to have our children lack this wonderful lifetime skill. We were only offered a recorder and Government issue text book for music. While I can still read notes, he has no inkling whatsoever! 

I confess that the piano is the biggest gift I have bought for us all. This was the easy part. Due to space and budget constraint, I chose a brand new Yamaha upright.

As I could only play a few songs on the G clef and needed lessons so that I could help The Little Girl work her magic fingers to bring out lovely tunes of her favourite nursery rhymes. Obviously, we needed lessons!

At first, we signed her up for Yamaha 1-1 piano lessons at Yamaha BVII, but she didn't share any chemistry with her assigned teacher and that very nearly killed The Little Girl's interest. Every Saturday afternoon became a painful chore for everyone. 

Being the helicopter mum that I am, I meddled. I terminated the Yamaha 1-1 lessons. It just had to stop because the joy and excitement stopped. The period that we were away for summer 2014 helped The Little Girl "forget".

Luckily, we had paid for an online piano course offered by a kind teacher living in Melbourne to correct whatever "damage" and started to heal her musical relationship with the piano in her room once we were back from our summer break. It was great, special and personal but we knew we wanted more for long term.

A permanent solution had to be found.

Coincidentally, the Yamaha Music School from Ampang moved into Great Eastern Mall so we put our names in for a Saturday afternoon class. We agreed to joining the JMC with 11 other children/parents per class on this 2 year journey after one trial class.

The twinkle in her eyes returned. So far so good, alhamdulillah

The Little Girl loves every single class. She listens, sings solfege and lyrics, reads and draws notes, excited to place magnetic notes on the board, completes her theory worksheets without fuss, dances happily at class, interacts well with teacher and classmates, watches the DVD at home, sings along to the CD in the car, tries to guess notes of whatever songs that comes on the radio and I am just thankful she is loving music as a whole.

Bean loves the CD and DVD too! He tries to tinker on the piano keys at every chance he gets since the day the piano arrived a year ago. His current favourite piece is The Chicks' Ballet. 

Here is my share of experience in selecting the right music school. In sharing this journey, I hope you will find a programme and school that suits you and your little one best. Most importantly, enjoy the bonding and let the music heal your soul. 

1. Programme
Yamaha or ABRSM?
My daughter was 4 when she started so ABRSM really was out of the question for us. Yamaha 1-1 was boring for her. Yamaha JMC is the best fit for her. We even tried music online homeschooling and that was fun! Yamaha JMC requires 1 parent to accompany the child (which is great because I learn whatever The Little Girl learns, and we can complete the theory worksheets together). 

2. Location
We live in the city centre so going to BVII then was not a problem but going to Great Eastern Mall which is much closer to home has saved us a lot of commute time and cost. 

3. Size of Class
Our Yamaha JMC class can host 12 sets of parent/child and comes with an electronic organ for every set of parent/child. The teacher has an electronic organ, piano, CD player, white board and space for children to dance. 

4. Programme
Our Yamaha JMC Primary 1 is almost completed. We hope to complete up to Primary 4 for JMC then move forward to the next key stage, in sha Allah

5. Fees
We paid a deposit, terms fees (each term is 3 months, that means we pay 4 times a year) and will have to buy materials for each level (music book, theory book, DVD, CD). The magnetic board is once off. We were also given a cute bag for weekly use. The good news is the syllabus is not likely to change soon, and Bean will inherit those materials (except the theory book). 

6. Duration
Every class is 1 hour. We find that time flies because obviously, we are having fun learning together.

7. Teacher's Passion
Makes or breaks the deal. We find that the best type of music teacher is one who can pique and engage the interest and attention span of her young learners. Gone are the days of strict teachers who scold and knock knuckles with wooden rulers *sigh of relief*!

8. Atmosphere 
Bright, well ventilated/air-conditioned, happy, clean and safe environment are some key consideration. Please do not sign up at depressing outlets/showrooms where they do not permit playing with the musical instruments on display or worse, locked away - it is a real put-off being able to see but not allowed to touch and refrained from producing music at a music centre!

Syukur alhamdulillah this arrangement works for us at the moment so in sha Allah, will continue to work in our favour. We always pray The Little Girl and Bean will learn to make merry music to sing beautiful praises of Allah, to Allah, our One and Only. Amin!

Gratitude: Doing Small Things In A Great Way

Today, I am thankful for friendship/sisterhood. 

This little entry is inspired by JC, one of my loyal silent reader(s). We worked together for an average of 12 hours each weekday for about 18 months previously, took holidays abroad together and travelled as workmates extensively. Sweet memories! 

She has recently delivered a healthy and perfect little boy, VBAC and she is amazing in so many ways as a friend, sister and fellow mum throughout the many years we have known each other. Here is to many more, in sha Allah.

Dear JC,

I hope this addresses some of your questions.

It finally feels like I have two young children under the age of 5. After 19 months of having Bean around! The early days were intimidating and just thinking of how I was going to cope with two critters gave me anxiety. Of course it still is tiring, when both want my attention at the same time, nearly all the time. 

Which is why, it is never wrong to recharge and make time for oneself. Even if it means ten minutes in the morning before everyone else is awake, or ten minutes in the late evening after everyone else has retired for the night. When the mum is happy, the entire family is happy.

It finally feels like my role as a wife/mother is paramount to at least 3 other lives around me and that my life is beyond my personal dreams and opportunities. It is never wrong to harbour the dreams for it may come true someday. Whilst I would personally enjoy a career in my chosen field and travel again, now is simply not the right time to do so.

Right now, right here: priorities.  

My children are young and they need me. I am irreplaceable. The company can always hire someone else to do my job. I never ever want someone else to be the mum to my children. I never ever want someone else to be the wife to my husband! I am always happy for those mums who have a great support network and can juggle so well. In fact, I respect and admire them for what they do because they sacrifice a lot too!

It finally feels like the pendulum has stopped and I have found my equilibrium. It did not happen overnight. It took a lot of praying, debating with The Other Half and discussion with my PIL. The Little Girl vehemently voted against my return to the office. Bean voted by shaking his head everytime I speak of going away to Tower One close to home for work.

It finally feels like I have no grudges against my family for trading in my suits and heels for jeans and flats. Love is a wonderful chemistry reaction in the brains, indeed. It sure did make me do "silly" things like working 24/7 for "free". 

It finally feels like it is acceptable to do small things in a great way. Even if it is as small as tying the perfect ponytail for The Little Girl every morning, or as minuscule as making sure that Bean's pull-up pants are sufficiently stocked at home and on the go. It is not about sweating the details, but sprinkling love and care unconditionally in every task.

Is this what settling down means? 
Is this what growing up means?

I don't know for sure. Yet.
I only like my inner peace and serenity of being who I am right now. In knowing I am delivering the best quality of work on time every time. 

A wife.

A mum.

A daughter-in-law.

A friend.

Ultimately, a servant of Allah swt. This is one huge area I need to work on because once I do, everything will fall in place. I fall so short of being His Servant but strive I must and will, in sha Allah.

Perhaps, this is the best place to be. Alhamdulillah

Take cognisance that you are doing your best in delivering the best quality of life on time every time. Acknowledge that you are unique and irreplaceable. Know that you are special and loved by so many. 

Stay beautiful, stay encouraged, JC. Someday soon you will look back and know this is worth it. Every single bit of it. W and LX including your other half will all love and appreciate you endlessly for all that you do.

Until the next time we meet again, enjoy your "me" time and kiss the little ones for me. 

Your loving friend, sister and fellow mum,
Hampshire Mummy.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Entrance Assessment Preparation

We knew what we were in for after we had registered The Little Girl for a spot in our school of choice back in 2012. In retrospect, that was the easy part. 

We told ourselves we had 2 years to prepare for the entrance assessment, so we let her grow up and develop her love for learning through play. In her own time. That trust, knowing that she will be just fine, was occasionally peppered with doubts from my MIL who is a worry-wart. Which in turn stressed me out just a little bit, to be honest. My MIL's anxiety was slowly put to rest as The Little Girl started to bloom.

By and by, she learnt to read at 3 years old, properly held a pencil to write legibly at 4, counted and solved simple arithmetic at 4. Although her peers were comparatively faster at achieving milestones, we continued to let her play. At this point, my MIL was more assured that her precious granddaughter would cope, pass and maybe even excel at the "dreaded" entrance assessment. 

Those books above were games to her. We bought some which we thought would cover the basic English, Math and Science topics. She was never forced to complete anything within them. What we did do was left some copies on the dining table for her easy access, with colour pencils at her independent disposal. Choice. Free reign. Decision making on her part.

She even asked me to pack some of those to bring along during vacations and we always did oblige with smaller box of colour pencils and some stationery.

The rest were prayers. To Allah swt.

We were nervous about her being declined at The Big School so we prayed very, very fervently and steadfastly. We put in effort, and she did her best for her age. We then waited with bated breath for the results and offer. The Big School punctually replied within a week. Phew!

Good news came to pass so here we are, at peace with our choice and thankful for the opportunities, obediently accepting the challenges and hoping to grow from obstacles. Alhamdulillah, and we are ever so grateful to Him.

With Bean in tow, we will be keeping the above games, puzzles, worksheets and mazes. In sha Allah we will also be updating them when Bean's turn comes.

How do you prepare for your younglings' entrance assessments, my lovelies? Do you feel it is overrated and should be abolished? Please do share, I'd love to read your thoughts!

The Spelling Bee

When I first saw the words list for spelling in English and Malay, I figured I need to find a fun game method of doing this with The Little Girl. 

Google search returned a treasure of online resources suggesting at least 20 suitable word games we could possibly try out with The Little Girl. Being me, I picked one of the easiest, hassle-free method. 

So we bought some label stickers, wrote the alphabets of the words given in random order and presented the entire sheet of sticker labels before her.

I then call out the word and let her stick on the alphabets to form the words. When she was in a good mood, she copied the words, and drew corresponding pictures. 

So far this method works for us, alhamdulillah. We know it works because she came home with all 15 correctly spelled words this week, SubhanAllah for those sponge brains! May Allah swt continue to shower His Hidayah upon her, Amin!

How do you play your spelling bee games with your little ones, my lovelies? Please do share!

The Homework Journal

There is a simple SOP every Thursday. The class teacher pastes a list of homework, packs all books and worksheets into the school bag and upon dismissal of class, we bring the "luggage" home for some reality check.

Today, Mrs. R ever so sweetly said this during parting,"Welcome to Big School!" with just that hint of cheekiness. 

After settling The Little Girl down, cleaned and fed, rested and even played, we got down to work. The golden rule I have learnt and applied is to never request her to do anything before her physiological and emotional needs have been fulfilled. It is not too demanding but reasonable and understandable, in my opinion.

We sat together and sorted out the books according to the subject list given and put a tick for every match. Through this simple elimination process, we discovered that another Maths book is short and will be brought home tomorrow; after a quick SMS conversation with her assigned Tutor to confirm. 

She then started on her work independently while I prepared dinner; and I peeped at her work every now and then to see if she was progressing well/faced any trouble/started daydreaming/forgotten all about homework. To be honest, she can be quite focused and fast. Not the neatest handwriting but acceptable for someone who is 57 months young.

After about 20 minutes, we then happily checked off the tasks already done, complimented her on her good effort put in and refueled ourselves with a hearty dinner. 

Whatever outstanding homework that were not done, we saved it for later in the evening after cleaning up for the night. A relaxing shower and some soaking fun in the tub helped wind her down. 

Interestingly, she agreed to finish up the remaining pages then tidied up for tomorrow. After all, her motto is "play only all weekend long!" MasyaAllah I agree 100%!!

It sure looks like a trip to Art Friend is necessary this weekend as we stock up her art supply for arts and crafts at school next week. That, I am more than willing to complete *shopaholic grin*

Please do share how you and your little ones complete your homework, if any. I'd love to hear, my lovelies!
Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Snippets: Life, Death etc.

The Little Girl was being tucked into bed for the night, recited Surah al-Fatihah and Surah al-Ikhlas and as soon as she said "Amin" asked me about the 3 planes that crashed last year.

Probing further, I asked if her teachers or friends at The Big School had recently discussed the issue. She shook her head. I asked because I was curious as to where she had so randomly plucked this heavy topic for her goodnight chat.

We read 2 storybooks before bedtime and they were both light, happy and positive (Fancy Nancy: The Dazzling Book Report and Berenstain Bears: Aquarium).

Then, with big curious and innocent eyes wide open, she started to interrogate me in the dark. Systematically. I realised she has inherited my genes/skill when she sounded so much like me. Note to self to sound positive and less detective!

"Did they put the bodies into an ambulance to take to hospital?

Did they find all the bodies?

Did they have family waiting for them at home?

Do they (family at home) feel sad?

Where do the bodies go?

Where does each life go?

Where is Heaven?

Why is there only fire in Hell?

I want to sleep and visit Heaven. Can I?"

I tried my best to level with her and answer her as straight-forwardly/factually as possible. I know she understood it all because she seemed quite satisfied with the answers. For a moment, I thought an Angel was amongst us *such a light feeling*

Oh, my sweetheart, please wake up for school tomorrow and not leave Mummy. I know you came from Allah and to Him you will return.

But. Not a doubt His Will type of but. Just. Plain. But. Mums will know this powerful bond and love.

Oh, my sweetheart. May you live longer as anak solehah, Amin!

Hijab Confession

To Duck or not to Duck?
To Lofa or not to Lofa?

I got myself a Duck snow cap inner recently ...

(Photo of the flatlay by The Little Girl, a good start! Psst biased review by Hampshire Mummy of said flatlay, please do not shoot or judge me.)

... and I love the design because it stores neatly...

... but I must confess that the open ended inner from Nafyana has my vote for cooling comfort. I bought one in each available colour just because it is that cooling!

Hot school runs have left me with one simple conclusion: anything which requires a snow cap or neck inner and pins are way too stifling humid for me. I will preciously store my Innara for cooler days, in Sha Allah, such as my York and London balik kampung days. 

I guess it is back to express slip-on headscarves for this mum on the go. Sugarscarf, here I come. Thank you for trying your best to provide style and convenience to Goldilocks like myself.

No Medical Leave

Every year just before Chinese New Year during the monsoon shift, I tend to suffer from dry, scratchy throat with low grade fever and general malaise. Despite drinking about 3L of lemon infused water,  I just feel under the weather.

As you may already know, a medical leave for a work from home mum is unheard of, and even if I am granted one by medical officers at emergency ward, The Little Girl and Bean are tough bosses who do not give me the day off, haha!

What can I do to combat these uncomfortable symptoms?

Lemon infused water (please excuse my tired looking organic lemon slices above), with a dash of cinnamon powder. I now use the bottled version of cinnamon powder for sake of convenience. Otherwise, I would bring to a boil 2L of water with 2 sticks of cinnamon then stir in some honey once totally cooled and garnish with a slice of lemon. Please do not stir honey into hot water as I have read that some beneficial properties of honey is lost through heat. In fact, I was asked not to use stainless steel spoon to scoop honey! 

The Black Gold, as many Muslim mummies can profess to the benefits of habbatus sawda with honey. If you know of a better concentration and formula, please do drop me an email or a comment. Just a spoonful to start the day with and I feel this truly works for me. I cannot remember the brand that was being promoted on Radio IKIM so I bought what I found at Tabung Haji HQ.

Spirulina needs no introduction. This particular one is greener than usual so I asked Google if spirulina is highly water soluble and green? The answer is yes.

The bottom line is water. Drink it. Wash your hands with soap and rinse well with running water. Take your wuduk if Muslim and believe in His ability to remove the seen and unseen sins and dirt. Stay hydrated, wash your hands, and remain healthy my lovelies! To those who are feeling under the weather, get well soon *sends virtual flowers*

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Gratitude: Blessings

Today, I am thankful for good news. 

It has been some time since I was last excited or happy after reading the local dailies. Indeed, blessings of ease come in different forms.

This is mine today:

Electricty tariff will not increase this year, alhamdulillah!

The second blessing was smooth flowing traffic along the MRR2, which can be quite rare. We got home in record time of 20 minutes. If only, wishfully thinking, every day is like this, in sha Allah.

Here is wishing that your blessings will come your way soon too, Amin!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Ahjumma Updates

Bravo! Completed I Can Hear Your Voice, Pinocchio and now starting to follow Spy (and on most nights when I was finally free, I got too sleepy to watch anything).

In another unrelated update, The Other Half got his belated birthday present (iPhone 6+ 128GB), alhamdulillah. Happy One Year Wiser, Sayang! 

It is a coincidence the value of his gift matches the price of my gray leather arm candy *teehee* as I have "killed" my gray Sofina 2.1 which served me well and survived one return trip to England last year. The gray suited me really well so I went to search for a replacement bag in gray. I am just wired this way.

My Jim Thompson navy tote is frayed now after 3 years of constant wear. The danger is I have been eyeing the Balenciaga Velo in dark blue (instead of City in pink). In sha Allah, if it is my rezeki. Somehow, I admired it before it became the 2014 it bag. Once I see ladies carrying it every corner I turn, my desire for one immediately diminished. I do not like becoming a lemming. Again, I am just wired this way.

Completely random post, very ahjumma of me tonight. Toodles!

P/S: 28 Jan 2015 - Saw Sofina 3 today and it did not excite me the way Sofina 2.1 did. The navy bag search is ON! 

Mad Monday

I have spent 3.5 hours doing school run today. 1 hour to The Big School, 1 hour from The Big School to my appointment, 1 hour from my appointment back to The Big School and finally, bless, 30 minutes from The Big School to home.

After the long hours spent, my entire system was expecting a beach holiday at the end of the destination! Kudos to all supir, drivers, MamaBus, MamaVan operators. You have no idea how much I admire your stamina and tenacity in handling this many trips, for years and years!!

Those little cotton white gloves? I want a pair of those, please. Coupled with my oversized sunnies, I am sure I will look my part soon. I have my weekday collection of smart casuals and traditional wear that can take me both to work and errands. Yes, I just need those little cotton white gloves to add that touch of finesse to my "uniform". 

What do you wear for your school runs, my lovelies? Please do share!
Friday, 16 January 2015

Milestones: Bean Goes to Playschool

In sha Allah, Bean goes to Playschool this March instead of May 2015.

He is so ready, in our humble opinion. He is beginning to show signs of Playschool readiness lately (the first criterion is being able to walk well, then other criteria like feeding self food and drinks, able to signal for toilet etc) so we hope he will find Playschool as fun as his sister did. 

We have secured a spot for him in a safe, clean, happy and trustworthy Montessori close to home where The Little Girl had been. We especially love the close proximity of Playschool to home!

Playschool is filled with indoor and outdoor play, dance and music, art, speech and drama, water play, soccer, Kindermusik and more! Boredom for Bean? Not a chance.

New adjustments to weekday timelines for everyone is in order again and we are so glad we are phasing this process in staggered stages for each child. 

The Other Half looks forward to having his mornings dedicated to work and nothing but work as I look forward to some peace and quiet to complete my daily tasks without losing my sanity. 

Well, there goes another of my 2.55 but really, I am NOT complaining at all. *grin*

May this journey be one that will bring every single one of us happiness, growth and even more joy when we reunite after a few hours being apart on a weekday, Amin!


True that The Big School claims to be academic but as I delightfully discovered this week, the little learners have been given a very balanced time-table.

Evidence: Fridays mornings are fun. They start the day with games on the big field, go to the music studio for some jamming fun, put out some colour pencils for Art then have brunch before conducting some clever science experiments, learn moral studies or Agama Islam (my Muslim child and her other Muslim friends) before early dismissal at noon.

The highlight of their week is on Wednesday when an hour is set aside for swimming. Oh, my duckling loves the pool!! She watched videos of swim matches and is in awe of how the "big kids can swim so fast!". Her self-thought-out goal this year is to swim without arm floats. Way to go, girl!

My lightbulb moment was this: why haven't I thought of asking for a copy of the time-table of each different school when I was doing the ground work? Seeing is believing, after all.

We took the book list and felt confident the Playschool we enrolled The Little Girl at back then could prepare her for life and learning at The Big School. In fact, they do so well some of the other parents we know of are delaying entry to other established big school to Year One instead of Reception to save substantial fees!

If you are researching for a suitable learning institution for your little precious ones, please look beyond the fees and syllabus. Look to see if you are surrounded by happy faces with cheerful banter from existing learners. If you find light in their eyes and smile on their faces, you cannot be far from finding a suitable school. 

The Other Half and I witnessed these qualities in the students already enrolled going about their school day back in 2012 and we concluded that the right school had found us. They were orderly, polite, radiant from joy within and enthusiastic, amongst other positive qualities. 

We did not overhear anyone using foul language, hang out aimlessly and we still haven't. Doing so would score them demerit points, which is a real deterrent. Trouble makers who do not repent can and will be expelled. The disciplinary process is clearly spelled out from inception so that everyone is on the same page.

Good luck, my lovelies! May the right school finds you too. 

Faith Friday

Have you read your Surah al-Khaf [18:1-110] today?

 I am trying my best to discipline myself to do this every Friday, and read to compare different translations so that I can better understand this Surah. 

What better use of time and place than at the dining hall of The Big School while I wait for early dismissal.

May Allah swt grant me clearer understanding of His message, Amin!
Thursday, 15 January 2015

Weekend Worksheets

The honeymoon period is over and we are now blessed with weekend homework which we get every Thursday to be completed over the weekend and handed in every Monday.

The Big School issued "balanced" homework and The Little Girl was so eager to complete them all this evening so that she can "play the whole weekend", masyaAllah! The apple has not dropped far from its tree. The Other Half used to do his homework ahead of class while I used to complete mine on the day they were issued.

I sincerely pray her love for having fun when learning and completing school worksheets and homework will last a lifetime, Amin!

More worksheets and spelling words avalanche to be expected, as we had been cautioned prior to registration. Now, excuse me while I research fun spelling methods. Indeed, Mummy's Tuition Centre is now fully operational. 

In all fairness, the workload is manageable so far. Some pages take 5 minutes to complete while other more complex ones take slightly longer. We spent about 20 minutes 1-1 tonight and managed to strike off quite a few from the checklist.

In sha Allah, we get to play the whole weekend. 

One golden rule: Parent must try not to lose patience or focus during homework time. I find that that The Little Girl is eager after she is showered, changed, fed well with good snack of fruits, rested after a short play session with her Lego blocks and given enough attention. Physiological and emotional needs taken care of first make sense. Less distractions later. 

Praying for my level of patience to be increased by Allah swt. We will be on this journey until 2025!

Snippets: Strength

The Little Girl was offered a cool snack of strawberries and blueberries during the car ride home from The Big School.

She asked me, "Why do we need to fruits, Mummy?". Instead of diving head in to the "we need all nutrients in order to be healthy" and expose myself to another 1001 questions during changing of lanes and not missing our exit, I replied, "To make you sweet on the outside and strong from the inside."

Can you guess her witty comeback line?

"Mummy, I am strong inside out!"

Then she went on to praise how delicious the fruits were and ate everything up. Bless!

SubhanAllah what a cute girl. In sha Allah, yes, you are strong inside out. May Allah swt also shower you with some sweetness, Amin!

Easy Peasy Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

The slow cooker in my storage is making a comeback to the dry kitchen to ease my worry of insufficient time for making a simple dinner stew.

Why didn't I think of this last week? Lightbulb moment for 3 seconds last night as I was about to sleep. Alhamdulillah with the resolution to cook this today, I slept soundly.

Here's to healthy dinners without the madding rush! In Sha Allah, dinner preparation time can be reduced tonight as I only have the broccoli to parboil, and steamed rice to prepare. Now, I must not forget to press the switch on.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Overnight Oats

caught the overnight oats convenience bug for about a year now and I am pleased with the results. This simple, no cooking required recipe has kept my cholesterol index healthy. 

As much as I enjoy this cold breakfast, I also indulge in the occasional warm oats porridge on a weekend when not rushing to be out of the door for school run.

The easy-peasy steps, as you may already know:

1. Place 3 tablespoons of rolled oats into a jar. I use an airtight jar from IKEA because I happen to have a couple in storage. 

2. Add 200ml goats milk (you may use milk or soya milk, according to your preference). The easy formula is oat to milk ratio being 1:1.

3. Stir as lightly as possible to soak oats evenly. The more you stir, the thicker the oats as more beta-gluten is released. I just swirl the contents nowadays.

4. Place jar with lid tightly closed into the fridge overnight.

5. Stir well and serve with topping of choice. You may choose to scoop portions out of the jar to add toppings and serve; or eat from the jar after adding toppings.

I usually add one fruit with one type of nut or seed topped with one type of condiment. It is a fun game of adding whatever is acailable from my larder/fruit basket! As a result, I do not have a particular favourite combination and secretly love the surprise I give my family every morning. Different textures, colour and taste all help to keep my young ones interested. 

Firm favourites in the household: 
a) blueberries, walnuts, cinnamon powder, honey.

b) banana slices, cashew nuts, raisins, nutmeg powder, maple syrup (non-sugared). 

c) strawberries, dried apricot slices, dehydrated nutmeg slices, wolfberries, chia seeds.

How do you like your overnight oats served, my lovelies? Please do share!
Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Milestones: Bean Speaks

We were playing on the Fisher-Price playmat yesterday afternoon when Bean pointed at a print of blue elephant and said "blue" with a huge grin on his face.

I asked him again, out of excited disbelief,"What is the colour of this elephant?", and he replied without missing a beat,"Blue!".

Oh, my precious son, SubhanAllah! I felt my heart swell with pride, such a wonderful feeling that Allah swt has created for mothers to enjoy, Allahuakbar!

Bean pointed at and said "purple" last Saturday to my FIL. I missed that milestone! He also says "there" and "no" purposefully now. His favourite words are "bot bot" referring to Samsung Vacuum Robot, "baa baa" for four legged animals and "dada" for his favourite person at home. 

When we ask him to point out objects from his books, he can get it 90% correct, including finding the right object from a different page of the same book or corresponding image from a different book. Trick questions, we love asking him, as he reciprocates by enjoying the challenge. Evidently, he beams with pride and flashes the sweetest grin as he triumphs those trick questions.

Thank You, Allah swt for sending us Bean.

Snippets: Courage

The Little Girl cried at school today. 

On the stage.

In front of 1000+ fellow students, teachers, principals, et al. 

I would have cried too if I were 4 years old, missing home, missing my mummy and just wanted to play outside.

Her class had been asked to introduce themselves by name using a microphone and when her turn came, she broke down. I sincerely pray this will not scar her for life! Indeed, public speaking skills can be taught, talents can be honed. Maybe she will fare better next time.

The Chairwoman would recall meeting her just yesterday and had kindly given The Little Girl a strawberry-flavoured Mentos. Oh, dear me. 

As her mother, I feel that she must have felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the stage and audience in a huge, new, unfamiliar hall. While it is natural for me to turn all cave-woman and protective, I give credit to The Little Girl for being resilient in recomposing herself well enough to continue the remainder of the day unperturbed. By dismissal time when I picked her up, she was her usual merry self, SubhanAllah!

MasyaAllah, I have only comforting hugs for her. May Allah swt grant her courage, confidence and at the same time humility to learn. Education is indeed, not just about studying. May her passion for learning not be snuffed out, Amin!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Snippets: Banter

1. The Little Girl was served chicken kurma with rice and vegetables today at school lunch. Her review of the dish: "The chicken is not Chinese, Malay or English." Trust me, you don't want me to repeat my "short speech" on racism here. Let's just conclude she now knows to use adjectives such as spicy, salty, sweet, aromatic, etc to describe the chicken dish *broke a sweat there* 

2. The Little Girl's first peer pressure. Her exact words were,"But I want to ride the school bus with my friends." "We will see about that, young lady," came my quick, instinctive reply. After the earlier racism discussion, I thought I will spare her this "lemmings jump over the cliff, it does not mean you must too" (let's save this herd mentality for another day, I do not want to overload her). This is a repetitive request so my opportunity will come soon. 

3. Summary of mass/sunlight penetration/how clouds are made of water droplets/how water droplets have no colour on its own when asked why do clouds sometimes look white, gray or black. This was my favourite topic for the day. It is perpetually scientific and neutral, the quality of my parenting style will not come into question, ha!

Don't I just love car rides with her? If she keeps this up I may have to start to tag her witty/ignorant/cute/rude/sarcastic and sometimes borderline smart remarks.

What are your banters with your mini-you(s) like, my lovelies? Please do share!

Welcome Home, Bosch Dryer!

The replacement dryer arrived at noon today, alhamdulillah! The slot we were given was between 2 and 4 pm. TBM under-promised and over-delivered. Awesome!

I managed to see it placed before rushing off to pick The Little Girl up from The Big School. The weather was scorching hot, the sun was shining brightly. You'd have thought the sun was mocking delivery of my Bosch Classixx 7kg dryer!

We can now safely confirm that I am not a hoarder. Sure, it felt a bit sad to see my old, out-of-service, Electrolux dryer go but I felt close to zero attachment to it as it was being carted out of The Flat through the service door. The 7kg condenser dryer had served us well, thank you Electrolux for the glorious 5 years. The physical built was as new as a pin! Alas, it spins no more and the service centre's lack of response did not do it any justice.

Time to move on and make space for Boschie. Welcome home. Bismillah hirrahmahnirrahim. May you work hard and outlive your warranty period, Amin!

P/S: forgot to snap a photo of the former dryer for keepsake! 

Serendipity Saturday

The Little Girl and I were on our way to music lessons when by chance, lo and behold, we bumped into my "pupil master".

I say it in inverted commas because on record, his partner was my then pupil master. However, professional chemistry and work interest steered us together to work as a team. He was not a morning person and I was an early bird so that gave me plenty of chance to complete my mornings at the then Jalan Raja High Court for hearing in chambers, file searches and such. 

On a non-court morning, I used to have working breakfast with another lawyer who was already a partner but not hesitant to share her precious time with a newbie to guide, encourage, motivate and sometimes "reprimand". Often, breakfast was as simple as a small packet of nasi lemak with a cup of pulled tea, or as fancy as a big breakfast with latté. What mattered more was team spirit. That carried us through difficult files, tough clients and tight timelines.

I learnt a lot from them during my short stint there. By the time my long call came, we were all friends! I got offered back into oil and gas so I hung up my robe because it seemed far more lucrative as I especially loved the international exposure.

Coming back to serendipity. 

It is amazing how friends can part and nothing changes. We all went through passage of life along our own path but the ties and warmth remain. Alhamdulillah!

To MES and ZBM, thank you. 
Saturday, 10 January 2015

Popular Question

Some readers wonder what I do for a living, other than the obvious Domestic Engineer/Chef/Driver/Bibik/Madam-do-it-all-by-herself post I have held since 09.09.09. 

Well, in 2011 I obtained my Companies Commission of Malaysia license to practice as a Company Secretary and the license is renewable every 3 years on condition that I complete 60 hours of continued professional education, inter alia. 

Since then, I have been working with a private investment company. Majority of my drafting work is done late at night, after my kids have slept for the night. That can range from 8.30pm on a good evening, or never on a particularly difficult evening. Imagine the stress of looming deadlines, laugh not!

During the day, I try to schedule my meetings around school runs so that I can be as productive as possible. About 4 days per annum are spent in formal training workshops so my PIL help me watch and care for my children from 8 am to 6pm. For that, I am thankful.

Smartphones and 3G has indeed mobilised my office to a large extent. Board meetings are still conducted face to face but almost everything else can be settled online, fortunately!

This position pays my bills, and keeps me in the loop indirectly with corporate legal work that I have been professionally trained for and have had 10 years working experience before "quitting" the rat race in downstream oil and gas. I call it the ember of my career where given the right condition, it can spark and burn wood well again, figuratively speaking (imagine the hazard of an actual fire in an oil and gas company - no x infinity!).

My other job is pro bono for a charitable education trust. It is a cause close to my heart and keeps my passion alive through helping underprivileged students. Together with other advisory council members, we select beneficiaries, review performance of beneficiaries, device polices and plans to assist beneficiaries achieve more out of schooling life and generally support them until completion of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

It doesn't pay my bills, but this portfolio feeds my soul and keeps ennui at bay. I feel that it is important for my children to observe and participate in this education trust from young so that they can always be thankful for whatever little they have, knowing that love and family unity values are important, appreciate good education, value education as a way out of poverty for many people and that it is our obligation to help as best as we can. I really pray for my children to recognise that this is His Blessings ultimately and that we are just vessels to channel His Blessings to deserving persons.

That sums up the answer to the famous question *smiles*. What about you, my lovelies? What do you do for a living? Do you have causes that you support? Please do share!

Finally Friday

What a grand week it was! 

During an impromptu weekly summary meeting The Other Half called, we recounted the key events, took cognisance of areas to troubleshoot and proposed resolutions for trying out next week. We will keep workable methods and discard distractions.

We hope to be more efficient and effective as a family, targeting to cut down time wasted on the road, have more home cooked meals and generally aim to settle the kids down to our new school-centric routine. 

Were there minutes, you'd ask. 


The Other Half has timeline, financial projections, key action points etc. scary, right?

Honestly, this discipline works and he loves cracking his whip. I feel the pressure, mais bien sur, the greater good has to prevail. He runs a tight ship, and I must acknowledge that the new routine stresses him out. 

I feel like I have a Boss at home. A very KPI-driven Boss *pengsan*

Now, let's enjoy the weekend and relax before Monday comes to bite me on my behind!
Friday, 9 January 2015

Terrifying Thursday

It is the prolonged monsoon and my dryer broke down last week. All I can conclude is we need a dryer as there is no place at all to hang our laundry out to dry.

LaundryMonster is so gigantic I have chosen to turn a blind eye. As long as we have some matching clean clothes for everyone on a daily basis, I tell myself, "Good job, don't stress." It is an accomplishment for an OCD person who likes empty laundry baskets with no pending items to iron.

Instead of buying a replacement model right away, The Other Half and I decided to call Electrolux service centre. That was Monday. Someone at after sales service call centre mentioned someone else (a field electrician) will call us on Thursday but no call came in today. 

Which left The Other Half and I high and dry. Pun intended.

Which got The Other Half thinking about Electrolux as a whole. He is not in favour of a new Electrolux dryer now because if we were to encounter any problems with the new unit, in future, we would be calling the same number with no response. 

Which led us to Bosch in Publika. We sat in a 2 hour crawl just to get out of the city from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm. After a crappy dinner at a reliable food franchise, we marched to Bosch. Dismay followed when we discovered that the discounts they offered us had lapsed last Sunday. The unit we short-listed, a 7kg condenser dryer, now retails at RM3600 instead of RM3000. The RRP is RM4xxx! That is the price before warranty, before delivery quote and disposal comes with separate charges. 

The same Bosch 7kg condenser dryer is selling at RM2999 from our regular electrical shop known as TBM at Bangsar Village, comes with 5 year warranty, free delivery and free disposal of old dryer. 

You would say it is a no brainer after the above comparison, right?

In my view, as the end user, the product warranty should be 5 years, and my Electrolux did last me during the period. It served me well. My only grouse is with the after sales service, or the lack thereof.

I guess, the Electrolux will not get my consumer dollar this time. Wish me luck for smooth sailing purchase, delivery of my new Bosch because if the new unit gives me problems, The Other Half is going to put on a smug face and let me call for after sales service help (and hopefully help will come).


I don't like his smug face and I don't have much time to sit around to call the service centre and listen to the pre-recorded sales pitch. Oh, please let the new Bosch find a happy home in my laundry room for many years. Amin!
Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Wordy Wednesday

Last night, Bean woke up at midnight and refused to sleep until nearly my waking up time. He still carries the fever since vaccination on Monday. The final results? The Other Half and I were dadbie and mombie, respectively, today. We slept for about 2 hours each?

Despite my "hang over"/sheer exhaustion, I drove The Little Girl to Big School. As we were running late, I took the tolled road option via MEX. Every minute that we had saved, we spent by sitting in the jam on the access road leading up to school car park. Win some, lose some.

As usual, my 4 years 9 month young lady absolutely cannot keep her mouth zipped for long during car rides. 

Credit to the new routes unfamiliar us, she observed and commented on a few things today. Here are highlights that still make me feel all fuzzy inside after a long day:

1. "Mummy, the sun wakes up on East in the morning and then it moves up, up, up, then down, down, down, to sleep in the West." (She then tried looking for North and South base on finding East on her left hand side, followed by East on her right hand side). We will figure out Qiblat and solat times someday, in sha Allah.

2. "Mummy, I saw a lot of boxes on the hill." (We were driving past a cemetery). She then asked about her late uncle, T2's late grandma and where I will be when I die. Morbid, but at least she is pondering and using her brains!

3. "Mummy, I saw two red doll houses with some people inside." (We were driving past two red huts hosting idols within, Datuk Kong?) I launched into a small caution speech about never touching anything on the roadside, never playing with any such objects and not to disobey me on this one. She asked about a million "why" so in the end I had to veer off the topic when it got too heavy for me. I was not prepared to explain monotheism, Islam, etc. at her level of comprehension so I told her I will research first and she agreed to ask again next time. For now, she knows those are NOT doll houses. Phew!

I wonder what heavy topics she will think of tomorrow *gleeful anticipation*

Heavy topics, kalah morning radio crew who were on air today! Speaking of radio, I listened to 92.9FM for the first time today after a long interval. They had a short segment called "I-cannot-take-it-anymore Day" and the Andrew-Sara tea-coffee comment made me laugh. It is too long a story to repeat here though. The point is, it has been too long ago since I last laughed out loud listening to radio on my own in the traffic jam. 

That, my lovelies, me-time was the best cure for my hang over. Alhamdulillah!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Terrific Tuesday

The Other Half dropped The Little Girl off at Big School this morning.

I spent an exclusive 1-1 quality time in the morning with Bean, alhamdulillah! Priceless, as Bean is as adorably cute as a button at the present moment (he is my son, of course I would sing praises of him). 

Later in the morning, we went out to run some errands. The highlight of "errands" was Bean's haircut. He cried the entire place down, no change from his previous haircut. Let's hope it gets better from now onwards.

Now let's return to the point of this post now that I have deposed of preliminaries.

On our way back to fetch The Little Girl from Big School, I realised that The Other Half has not figured out the location of Big School in totality. He is familiar with only one route and that route alone. 

That meant spending more time on the road going home to start the journey to Big School (his solution) versus going to Big School from wherever we were at (my solution).

He was the driver, but he reluctantly agreed to my solution. Due to a MRT construction road diversion, we got "lost" as in we had to take a road less familiar. The amount of time spent ended up being the same as if we had taken the familiar route. Luckily, we made it to pick up time on the dot.

Which brought me to question myself if I have got the location and route all figured out. Regardless of where I am going to start the journey from, I can find the Big School?

The reason why I dwelled on this simple point is quite plain. In case of emergency, regardless of where I am, regardless of whether I have my Garmin/GPS/Waze etc, can I find my way to The Little Girl in the shortest time possible?

On a spiritual level, no matter how lost I get, can I find my way back to Allah swt on time?

Since The Other Half knows how to with absolute certainty, even if it is just one single route, maybe it is a pure blessing of The Straight Path?

When I came to realise that, I forgave The Other Half his cluelessness with directions. He is right all along. I am the one who has too much mental clutter of options, distractions and brain fog. *lighbulb moment for me*

In conclusion, it may not matter which way we use as long as we get there on time *hums the familiar tune where caravans were written within its lyrics* Revelations from Him, SubhanAllah the clarity is astounding (to me).

Have a wonderful evening, my lovelies!
Monday, 5 January 2015

Mighty Monday

Alhamdulillah it went well! Not superbly over the moon and back/see fireworks and rainbows type of well, but well enough to say "we almost nailed this one!" I could not have asked for more.

The air was fresh. Alhamdulillah.

The sun was shining brightly. Alhamdulillah.

The birds were chirping. Alhamdulillah.

I tried a new route to school without Garmin on, and it was easier despite the RM1.50 toll on MEX. I will save this route for emergencies (pray I will not be needing this route, Amin!).

I did not miss the junction to school. Alhamdulillah!

I brought the entire lot of books and it was indeed the right thing to do. The teachers have taken all the books which I have labelled and I will deposit the rest of the loot which I have only just labelled and wrapped this afternoon, tomorrow morning. Alhamdulillah and in sha Allah.

The Little Girl sat with T2, so that took care of any jitters they each may have had. There was a tiny frown and tear when the teacher ushered me out of class ever so politely and discreetly. Things quickly went uphill then as the little ones settled down and the mums hang out/catch up with one another, making merry new friends and set up a support group just like the kids! Alhamdulillah.

The cream bun and water were good decisions. There were no pre-paid meals in a bento box today so the measly meal saved The Little Girl from hunger and thirst on our drive home. There was no vanilla bun left, as The Other Half wolfed it down last night at supper (and did not tell me). Luckily I had a spare stash! Alhamdulillah.

Bean went to his wellness appointment without fuss. He cried during weighing, measuring and injection but was civil enough to say "bye bye" and waved to his paed. He even had a nap in the car then came home all merry and jolly. Super duper alhamdulillah.

We are still in two minds about putting The Little Girl on the secure school bus, so we will wait and see how my timing for daily commute works out to be. By secure, I mean dedicated chaperone teachers on board with driver's cellphone number and the rest of the class. Everyone seems to be on the bus except us. I hope The Little Girl will not miss out on the fun social life on board a school bus (I recall my fun years riding in one but those were different times with different circumstances).

On our drive home, I did not miss my exit junction. Super alhamdulillah.

It was lunch hour but the traffic was not too bad. Alhamdulillah.

In a nutshell, it was awesome and great start! May Allah swt bless The Little Girl abundantly, make every day as smooth as today and keep her safe always. Amin.
Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday Blues

Don't be blue, be thankful that you have a job to go to tomorrow.

Think of the lovely outfit and accessories, me-time during the commute/drive, potentially challenging tasks that will bring you to your next milestone or career high, scrumptious back-to-work lunch gathering, tea gossips of lovely holidays last December and jolly colleagues.

Please pardon my fluffy post. 

That is my cover for first day jitters of sending my firstborn to Big School tomorrow. It feels like she has been around forever and is only going to Big School? Not university? *insert nervous laughter*

I have yet to label/wrap/pack her books! I had almost the entire December to do it but I procrastinated/got distracted and now live to scamper late on eve of first day at Big School. I should be scolding myself for being so ineffective, inefficient, etc but I guess I had better spend whatever little time left before waking up time to get my act together. 

By getting my act together, I mean lugging the entire lot of books into my car boot first thing tomorrow so I won't have to miss a single book out if we need any during orientation. Loser mum disguised as a kiasu mum, oh dear me.

The dining hall had timely published the menu but I am not able to view it because my access which had been working just fine all along got into a little situation of wrong username and password. Now I don't know if lunch will be served it may be a good idea to bring a bottle of water and a piece of vanilla bun along, just in case?

Well, wish me luck! 

A mild depression which traditionally hits me every December made its ugly annual appearance and I confess it got the better of my preparation for commencement of school. I promise to get my act together, especially now that we are well into January. I sincerely pray I won't have to wait until after my birthday in February to feel like I have ushered in the new year. 

Bean has a wellness check-up concurrent with The Little Girl's Orientation Day so I wish I can clone myself and be at two places simultaneously. The reality is The Other Half will take Bean *insert mummy guilt* no wonder my mild depression is turning into something else (let's not make a mountain out of a molehill argument going on in my head). Let's just be thankful that The Other Half is able to take Bean to see his busy, always full of appointments but wonderfully-gifted and skilful paed. 

Chill pill for me. I need to chase my Sunday blues away. 

Happy return to the grind, my lovelies! May 2015 be a fruitful and fulfilling year for you and I, Amin! Goodnight.
Thursday, 1 January 2015

1 Jan 2015

I made my PIL smile today! Alhamdulillah, great start to the year.

1 down, 364 to go *grinning*

Here is my no secret method of which I am happy to share with you:

Happy New Year, my lovelies!