Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How Do You Cope?

One fellow mum asked me the above question yesterday over a quick breakfast. It was a candid, rapid fire of questions as soon as she learnt that I am a work-from-home mother of two with no part-time cleaner coping without a live-in Bibik. 

I don't blame her at all, tried my best to apply what Prophet Luqman had said, "Remember two matters and forget two matters: Remember Allah and death; forget any good that you have done to another and any evil that was done to you by another."

There are a few mums like myself whom I know of, and they are thriving! Of course, there are days when I feel exhausted and need to rest/recharge but up I get and live my life.

My honest answer to her question was this: "I don't think, I just cruise along. I only think of how to do it better, using lesser resources."

The objections and rebuttals were impressive. They were all statements I have had in my head for myself in the past when I was doubting myself and struggling to come to terms with what I need to do versus what I want to do.

"But you are a lawyer!"

"But you were at Petronas!"

"But you had a good salary and perks!"

"But you had a future!"

"Don't you miss the business class flights and executive suites?"

"Don't you miss the designer bags, shoes and all?"

"Don't you miss seeing your EPF statement grow?"

"Don't you miss meeting intelligent adults?"

"Don't you miss all the corporate perks and lifestyle?"

I let all those comments slip. I did not feel any hurt or regret! A new topic was soon introduced and the atmosphere  remained cheerful. I am getting better at this.

In retrospect, those statements she had mentioned have stopped bothering me. I don't have time, how conveniently so. Doubts and negativity-infused mental chatter is something I have learnt to overcome. 

I only had this typed out so that I can remind myself of how far I have come along since 9.9.9 and be grateful for my journey, and how my priorities shifted over the years.

My greater but seemingly menial immediate concerns are, amongst others:

- spending sufficient quality time with each of my two children while maintaining a healthy line of communication with The Other Half. 

- meeting professional due dates and being on time for appointments. 

- serving healthy, wholesome, clean, nutritious home-cooked meals prepared on time before hungry children,
especially Bean, cry.

- having clean clothes ready for whatever activity the day calls for. 

- making sure homework is done and lessons properly understood.

- piano pieces practiced and theory sheets completed.

- keeping The Flat and The Car clean.

- the 1001 things I just have to manage when presented with them (life has a way of doing this elegantly, doesn't it?)

If the above is not KPI, I am keen to learn from you, my lovelies. Help me improve!

Yes, I have resigned to the fact that this is my calling, for now. When I delve into my blessings, I truly believe I have more now than ever before. Both extrinsic and intrinsic, spiritually too.

Only Allah swt knows  His Plans. I only know I am in the right place doing the right thing at the right time. Maybe that is all I need to know. 

This is the greener side of my field. Stay, and help me grow!

Snippets: World Population

We were driving along Jalan Ampang heading towards MRR2 this morning when she asked me a question.

Random, as usual.

"Mummy, how many people are there in this world today?"

I blurted out a ball park 7 billion.

My guess is that the number is just a number to her. Like 7 or 70. She may not truly comprehend or appreciate how many people 7 billion really is. 

I am not too sure if it is time I introduce her to or

What do you think? Would she be obsessed with the ticking numbers? Are the numbers accurate? 
Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Little Girl is 5!

The standard issue Rainbow Ruffles Cake, which was a dream come true for The Little Girl. Simple, affordable and delicious!

We ordered another customised Frozen Ruffles Cake for The Little Girl to share with her classmates and teachers. Apologies for not being able to show you this other beautiful 10"x10" lavender, baby blue, baby pink and white ruffles cake as it was surrounded by many young girls and boys whose privacy and identity must be protected *hehehe*

Cakes were from Cake Sense at KLCC. If you ask to see the manager, you can arrange for customised cake design with 3 days' notice. Prices vary according to individual cake specifications.

Due to limited commute time, I could not place an order with our favourite baker in Subang like we did last year. Perhaps next time, in sha Allah.

The Little Girl's most memorable presents this year are Frozen Lego set and ELC Easel. Made her year! She is a year short of being 6 (the recommended age for Frozen Lego set) but we figured she is "big enough". It is Bean we have to watch! As such, the play set is redesigned to her own bedroom's play area instead of being placed at the common play area.

The ELC Easel has a huge footprint so we have decided for it to be kept at The Flat Upstairs. I just cannot handle Bean trying to climb, topple over or snap shut the easel over himself every time I need to prepare meals. 

Her birthday loot this year includes the usual suspects: birthday cards, books and a couple of dresses. 

Bean had his own loot of books, puzzles and cars too, bless!

Madam Kwan's also threw The Little Girl a surprise birthday song and ice cream with a candle after dinner. She had an anxiety attack, hid under the tables, and had tears rolling down her cheeks when The Other Half carried her out of the cafe.  This is not the first time you have read about her anxiety attacks - and I am going to ask her counsellor for ways to cope better. Despite this little incident...

... syukur alhamdulillah for such a lovely birthday. May Allah swt bless The Little Girl always and may she grow up to be a Muslimah solehah. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

The 20 Seconds Hug

Do you have a go-to love-affirming strategy at home?

I learnt this love-affirming strategy known as the 20 Seconds Hug from Dr. Andrea Mayrhofer in a Positive Parenting Workshop in 2013.

It does take much out of me when I need a strong love-ammo to deal with sibling rivalry, amongst others. Over time, I come to appreciate that this simple method works for my stressed out spouse too.

Hug tightly. Count silently from 1-20 or say "I love you very much, baby *insert name here*."

The Little Girl was going through a rough patch emotionally after she had realised that Bean is here to stay and that she could not just return him to the hospital or stuff him back into my belly. After many doses of The 20 Seconds Hug peppered with back rubs and kisses on her cheeks, she throws hardly any tantrums now compared to before.

Bean gets his fair share of 20 seconds hugs too because he sometimes goes through separation anxiety when he is being dropped off at The Playschool, or sees me leaving home for The Big School with his elder sister.

Works 80% of the time, and is good enough for me.

My liberal dose of 20 seconds hugs at other times of the day:
- before I hit the shower/use the bathroom
- before I start any chore at the kitchen or laundry area
- before tucking The Little Girl in for the night

When I am very lucky, they give me the 20 seconds hug! You'd be surprised how long 20 seconds feels like just being present in that moment. 
Thursday, 26 March 2015

Botany Observation Homework

I remember doing this Science homework at Primary 5 or 6. My assignment was to put the beans in the dark (deprivation from sunlight) but water it daily. Needless to say, none of the beans sprouted. All I had for show and tell was a container full of greenish black mould, revolting much!

The Little Girl is doing this (and doing it better than I did) at Reception. She listened to the instructions to water it daily, give it some sunshine exposure daily and observe. After numbering the growth sequence correctly, she tried mixing the colour pencils for the right shade to accurately reflect the progress of the bean stalks.

Little details such as this assures me that we are on the right course for her learning experience at The Big School.

Now that the homework is done, and the bean stalks are still thriving, she waters her pet plant once daily. She even warned Bean not to pull or eat her homework. Too adorable!
Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Another Busy Week

How is your week going, my lovelies?

Bean is down with fever. He eats and maintains his jolly self so we are going to monitor his progress. The Other Half and I are zombies from keeping watch, sponging and occasionally carrying him to ease his discomfort. Alhamdulillah, he recovered overnight!

If he is not at Playschool, I will have more on my plate than usual.

The Little Girl is getting her exam results back this week and we are excited for her. There always is excitement with our firstborn. 

No, she did not play and sing at the mini concert last Saturday. I saw it coming, remember?

She did, however, perform the whole repertoire perfectly for me to record then Whatsapp to her teacher. Privately. Shy violet. We will have to work on her stage fright. Those videos saved her and she is progressing to JMC Primary 2, alhamdulillah.

We need to work on her stage fright/nervousness pronto since we need her to overcome it by this Saturday. Sports carnival and family day is coming up this weekend and already she is planning on not participating, despite faring well and even winning at the telematch rehearsals.

We have been cheering her on, boosting her morale, explain teamwork spirit and try to gauge her understanding on being a positive contributor towards the coveted championship trophy for Red House. 

Fell on deaf ears, I suspect. 

So here I am, fatigued from the beatings of this week but not quite giving up on extending my best to motivate her. If you know of any good strategies, please do share!
Monday, 23 March 2015

Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir

It was quite hazy last Saturday. This view would have been spectacular on a clear day.

Soothing sight.

The playground was not as clean or as big as the KLCC playground but we hope for its condition to improve because the kids love this park. They were especially excited upon seeing the lake's resident terrapin come up to sun itself on a tyre fixture.

We also spotted a few little cafes open for breakfast and hope to be back, in sha Allah.

Snippets: Qiblat

The Little Girl was really excited to face the Qiblat for saying her prayers a couple of nights ago. With gusto,"Let's face the house of God!" she exclaimed. She then held her palms together, faced Qiblat from her bedroom and recited the 2 Surahs she knows by heart. 

She no longer rushes her recitation, holds better focus and is generally calmer during prayers after learning about Qiblat.


Earlier last week, I briefly introduced her to Mekkah, Kaaba and Qiblat. It is kept brief, concise and so far so good because she seems eager to apply what she learnt. She has more questions for me and I have been rereading my notes from 2008/9 to prepare draft answers in my head. Hopefully when her questions pour my way, I will have clear and short answers ready, in sha Allah.

Oh, Allah swt, may you open my heart and hers to learn more and grow together. May every little step be pleasing  to You, Amin!
Saturday, 21 March 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Vegetarian Platter

In the midst of a hectic week, I forgot to purchase chicken from the supermarket. Turned out to be a real blessing though.

AirFryer carrots and potatoes, brown rice with scrambled eggs, stir-fried spinach with baby corn, sprinkle of pine nuts and chopped spring onion as photographed above was our meal.

The Dinner Rotation Committee Members voted for this oil-free dish to come on board, with cheeky request for everything oily like papadom, keropok lekor and chicken satay on the side. (Hello, Hampshire Mummy is MamaKitchen, not Hampshire Hotel!)

I would like to add a side garnish of chopped cili padi, garlic and shallots in soya sauce or kimchi, for myself *grins* 

Please do share your fried rice short-cut method, my lovelies! 
Friday, 20 March 2015

10 Angels In Islam

The Little Girl asked me about Angels before sleeping one night last week after praying because I mentioned that Angels will protect her when she sleeps.

"Mummy, do you know all the names of Allah's Angels?", she asked in the tone that Puan Ira at The Big School uses. Very cute indeed when repeated by a bossy 59 month old.

I haven't committed them to memory and I should! Instead of giving her an "I don't know" line, I promised to look it up and continue the discussion some day when I have found the answers.

Luckily for me, she was quite happy with my "let's start with Angel Jibril as, who brings Revelations from Allah swt to Prophets saw of Allah swt." Syukur alhamdulillah no tantrums. 

She was enchanted by how Allah swt had created Angels from Light. 

She was enamoured by the huge wings Angels possess.

She was impressed by her Right Angel Raqib as and Left Angel Atid as, the pair of scribes.

Here is an update for The Little Girl, and especially myself:

1. Angel Jibril as (Gabriel): One of the four most important angels of Allah swt. He brought the divine messages of Allah swt to all the Prophets of Allah swt, who appeared on earth at different stages of history.

2. Angel Mikail as (Michael): One of the four most important angels of Allah swt. He is the guardian spirit of land, sea and air. He is the angel of providence.

3. Angel Israfil as: One of the four most important angels of Allah swt. He is in charge of luhulmahfuz (Protected Boards/Records) and swar (the Trumpet or Horn).

4. Angel Izrail as: One of the four most important angels of Allah swt. He is in charge of death. He is also known as malaikatul maut (the angel of death).

5. Ridwan as: He is in charge of heaven.

6. Malik as: He is in charge of hell.

7. Raqib as: He records all the good deeds of a person. He sits on your right shoulder.
8. Atid as: He records all the bad deeds of a person. He sits on your left shoulder.
9. Munkar as: Testing and trial of person(s) in the grave.
10. Nakir as: Testing and trial of person(s) in the grave.

Thank you, Allah swt for sending me (literally) Hidayah. Through The Little Girl, You increase my faith and thirst for knowledge, renewing what I have forgotten and refreshing my quest for The Straight Path.

Our Julia Donaldson Crush

We love books.
We love reading them (over and over, cover to cover) to both our children, especially as a precursor to bedtime.
So, it is natural that we occasionally share our author crush with them. It is also natural that we sometimes hunt down new titles to complete a particular series, the way we did with Eric Carle a couple of years ago.

Last summer in York, we fell in love with Julia Donaldson after reading The Gruffalo. We went on to her many other titles rapidly after that first book. We even have the DVD version of The Graffalo and Room On The Broom, because they are just so wonderful! Waterstones and BHS did an amazing job promoting Julia Donaldson, more thorough than MPH, Borders and Kinokuniya in Malaysia ever did.
Despite my breakneck speed at work and home front this week, I managed to purchase sapu some Julia Donaldson books at an intimate book fair organised by The Playschool. It was held at the large hall. Discounted Julia Donaldson for titles no longer stocked at Kinokuniya KLCC brought The Other Half and I immense joy and satisfaction for finding such gems!
Oh, digressing to the large hall at The Playschool: this cheery and bright hall holds many memories for me personally. The Little Girl had achieved so many firsts, if only these mirrored walls and tall windows can talk. Gym on Mondays, Music on Tuesdays, Ballet on Thursdays, parties, dances, feasts of various festivals, celebrations of many foreign countries...and I have enjoyed being 5 minutes ahead of pick up time, stood outside the sliding door to watch her grow before my very eyes so often in the past.
We are so blessed to have Bean join this little tradition of ours and carry the legacy of his elder sister at The Playschool. Syukur alhamdulillah.

Who is/are your favourite author, my lovelies? Please do share your literary list!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Busy Week

Please pardon my excitement- it is The Little Girl's first exam week at The Big School!

She started on Tuesday with English and Spelling; followed by Mathematics and Science yesterday; with Malay as Foreign Language and Ejaan (Malay Spelling) as ending today. 

Honestly, she did not "study" but played a lot throughout the preparation period. I do not think I will be saying this in 10 years' time, so let me enjoy this prep-free exam period *grin* 

When the Examinable Areas were first disclosed, I made a mental note to check with her if she had understood those lessons as taught in class. When we did go through the books during "revision", I asked if she wanted to clarify any confusion/forgotten lessons. She sounded alright and I left it at that, not wanting to create any self-doubt in her. 

She then watched Cars from Disney and The Wolf Children (highly recommended work by Mamoru Hosoda) and played with her toys. Story time at night was Sukukata for only once (because I panicked, she was fine!).

Bean turned 21 months today. Still 16 teeth with no signs of the final 4. Still breastfeeding at noon, bedtime, 2 am and 5 am as his Happylatch Meals. 9 more months to go, in sha Allah. Precious moments every time I cuddle him for a feed as he is now an active toddler. Alhamdulillah.

More updates on The Little Girl: we have reached the end of JMC Primary 1 so Teacher has lined up a "mini concert" this Saturday. 

Songs to sing: Come And Play With Me and Whales' Sneeze. Solfege. Play 2 songs. The Little Girl chose See You Tomorrow and A Cuckoo Clock on the piano. I am not bringing any extra audience to avoid her getting stage fright, but I am sure The Other Half and Bean will get the best seats in the room. 

The last time she was to act in The Bear Hunt at The Playschool, she clammed up and refused to act upon seeing the many new adult faces. I really hope she will be brave enough this time, as the piano faces the wall and not the audience. 

I still have work pending and really should get going to clear the trays before the weekend starts. I have a very dear friend returning to Tokyo with her children this Sunday *sobs* - how fast 24 months flew us by! See my post on this friendship here.

How is your week going so far, my lovelies? Happy holidays to those enjoying the school break. Safe travels, journey mercies and please do share those beautiful memories!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

See You Again

One of our close and dear family friends are returning to Tokyo this Sunday. 

have been, for the want of better emotional expression, sad. 

The Other Half comforted me by saying,"Don't be sad that it is over, be happy that it happened." He knows fully well this friendship is not over, it is just being physically split into 2 capital cities. 

Two years passed us by in a blink.

It had started with a friendly and genuine "Ohaiyo gozaimasu" one November morning in 2013. Distinctively Tokyo accented, very polite and pretty voice from a petite lady.

I turned my head and there she was - a beautiful Japanese lady wearing her baby boy, the handsomest and chubbiest bundle of joy straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki animated film!

Mrs. Yoshizawa thought I were a Japanese lady and was quickly apologetic when I responded with a foreign, inaccurate, clumsy reply of "Ohaiyo. Hi!" 

We exchanged bows that hot and humid morning at The Playschool. It was our year end open day with carnival for our little ones to enjoy.

Her husband had been posted to work in Kuala Lumpur and they had just enrolled An-chan into the same class as The Little Girl. 

We soon discovered that our 2 young ladies were born in the same year and same month, about 2 weeks apart. Our 2 young men were born in the same year about 3 months apart. What a close match!

In Mr. Yoshizawa's apt description of our children, "Same size, same energy level, same age!". He could not have been more precise!

Typical to the nature of Malaysian hospitality, we soon agreed on a play date/tea and an invitation was extended to them to visit us at The Flat as a welcome to Malaysia "party". 

The rest of our 24 months of living within the same community is now a pleasant juxtaposition of swimming lessons for the young ladies, play dates for the children, school run quick hellos and goodbyes, ballet classes, Gymboree classes for the young men and Isetan KLCC chance encounters. Our lives were lived in parallel, almost.

The farewell/birthday party last Sunday was especially extended for us to include a quick dinner at Avenue K. A new Nando's outlet had just opened and our party of 8 had a simple farewell dinner. The young ladies played and ate without their usual drama. The young men gobbled up their platter just like the way they do at The Playschool. It was pleasantly bittersweet. 

By the end of the evening, we had exchanged many sweet memories, laughter, bows and more bows. So many bows everyone else at Nando's thought we were truly Japanese! Photographs soon followed so that we could freeze those parting moments forever.

Dearest Yoshizawas,

Thank you for being such great family friends, Yoshizawas! May our paths cross again someday, in sha Allah! May your family grow and flourish forever more, in love, health, peace and vitality!

With lots of love,
The Hampshire Family 

P/S: God willing, we will come and visit you in Tokyo <3
Saturday, 14 March 2015

Gratitude: Sunny Saturday

Today, I am thankful for the sunny and cheerful Saturday morning at the playground. 

The Little Girl got over-confident at the monkey bars and bruised her knees from a bad landing. No, I was not even using my phone at that point of time. The Other Half was busy watching Bean when it happened in a flash. Ouch! We are thankful for the lesson. 

She also scratched her left arm at another careless fall, under my watchful eyes and verbal caution. Double ouch! We are, again, thankful for the lesson.

After some whining, consoling, first aid made of hugs and kisses and sweating it out, we treated ourselves to some fresh waffles.
The waffles were so delicious that The Other Half asked why haven't we got ourselves a waffle-maker at home yet. No prize for predicting what is to be this year's Mothers' Day present. Still, I am thankful. In sha Allah, we will have homemade waffles. 

How is your weekend coming along, my lovelies? Please do share your highlight!
Friday, 13 March 2015

Snippets: Dinner

"Mama, that looks like my school lunch. I am NOT going to eat it."

She stood her ground that night and went to bed without "dinner". Instead, she ate bananas, overnight oats and a slice of cheese sandwich, washed down with a cupful of milk. Well, she did say, "Bismillah, I have food!". Definitely one of those moments I feel like squeezing her!

Mission to plan dinner that does not clash with Playschool and The Big School lunches - fail. 

Back to the drawing board!

Malaysian Rate at Shangri-la Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

It is a fact I love booking for hotel rooms via Agoda. Convenient, options, great discounts, awesome loyalty programme, secure payment, immediate confirmation, no cancellation fee deals, insider deals, you name it I like it!

It is also a fact that every April is our annual visit to Pearl of the Orient/work/leisure/balik kampung trip. We try to stay for as long as possible for the children to enjoy some sand, beach, and fresh air. They just love it there and a whole week can pass just bumming around at the beach and pool.

Put the two together and you will think I will book our annual rooms at our home away from home with Agoda, right?

Yes. True for many years. 


...I found out last year that as a Malaysian, I have to only pay a (much) lower local rate instead of the "international rate" best deal we have been getting via Agoda!

Oh, well. Live and learn.

This year, I am going to wise up and stretch my RM by calling to book directly. Wish me luck!

An update as of 14 March 2015: Agoda is the lowest offer in town! I redeemed my points, put in all my special requests and got ourselves a great bargain insider deal! Alhamdulillah. Now let's pray I get all my special requests met by hotel!

I love the avoidance of doubt factor with Agoda. The deals are transparent, up front and immediate. No dropped calls, delayed email, or human ineffectiveness. Bless!

(A further update as of 20 March 2015: This year, I have just been quoted RM1200 per night add 10% Service Charge, add 6% GST, add RM3 per visitor to Penang as imposed by the State Government for one Terrace Junior Suite which comes with one king size bed and twin beds including daily breakfast for 2 adults. However, the offer came a little too late so we will keep this option in view for our next visit.)

P/S: Ambition for this trip - spa! It has not been possible for too many years I am about to just wing it. In sha Allah. Spa.
Thursday, 12 March 2015

GST In Malaysia

Someone nudged me to say that I have been really quiet in this blog of late.

Here is what I have been up to (other than settling Bean at Playschool or paying zakat and personal income tax or washing the curtains at The Flat):

The Government has not directly educated me as an end consumer much as to the looming GST. 

When I exit the cashier at supermarkets, I do not see where I can pick up leaflets to summarise my taxable, exempted or zero-rated sundry. 

When I went for a hair trim at KLCC, the transaction was not even recorded! It was a cash transaction sans receipt! Never mind about asking for a GST info pamphlet there. PETRONAS is much better because the receipt is already GST format-compliant, bravo!

Consequently, I got anxious. Then I got proactive.

Over the last one week, I took matters into my own device quite literally to go online on the Royal Malaysian Customs Department site and check the categories of goods and services that will hit me directly first come 1 April 2015. It is structured, concise and quite informative if you have the time to "study".

*bleary eye momster mode on*

Thanks to that, I can now plan my purchases and avoid panick stock-pile. Simply because I know which items can wait (zero-rated), which "luxury" big ticket item currently not taxed will cost 6% more, and hope to see services that are currently charged 10% service charge add 5% government tax be reduced to merely an all encompassing GST of 6% (although disappointingly, most will continue with the 10% service charge add 6% GST). Those items on the exempted list, I hope will grow to a longer list and stay exempted for much longer.

*back to mengaji Customs*

Toodles, my lovelies!

Zakat & Income Tax

Syukur alhamdulillah, time of the year to fulfil my dues in this world to the government of the day and more importantly my dues to the Lord of the Worlds has arrived once again.

Syukur alhamdulillah, both can be done online in the comforts of my own home without having to brave any jams, look for parking or climb any stairs (style of income tax season from yesteryear when I first paid income tax!).

Just be sure to read my niat for zakat and say Amin! Just be sure to keep my receipts for 7 years and submit my digital signature for personal income tax. 

If you haven't done so yourself, please do. Set aside 20 minutes without any interruption. It took me less than that to settle mine (including time to retrieve a link for forgotten password). 

Well, if you work for a large organisation and are still waiting to produce the EA form to be transmitted to your staff, then, may I politely suggest that you get it done so that you too, can close this chapter and move on to more interesting matters like the impending GST.

All the best!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

It's a Wrap!

Lions pranced steadily on stilts.

Masked magician with many tricks up his sleeves and, especially, layered multi-colour masks.

Many mandatory mandarins to cool down.

The annual features included tok-tok candy stall, kuih kapit stall, wishing well, traditional games, arts, crafts, calligraphy and more! You cannot not understand Chinese New Year festivities after such a comprehensive interactive encounter! I am glad the culture and meaning are well-preserved, accurately observed and generously shared. 

That was how we spent our last Saturday morning with our Playschool family where many nations come together in a cocoon of harmony, friendship and love.

What a great way to wrap up Chinese New Year! Goat Xi Fa Cai, my lovelies!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Steamed Chicken With Vegetables

1. Chop vegetables/fruits of choice, and arrange them at bottom of bowl, with ginger slices where chicken will sit on.

2. Place marinated chicken (we used sesame oil, sea salt and pepper this time) on top of ginger and garnish with one piece of star anise. 

*If you prefer your vegetables not as soft, you can steam it for only 20 minutes (by steaming the chicken and vegetables separately, adding the vegetables at the last 20 minutes interval).

3. Steam for 35-40 minutes.

Serve hot with noodles or rice.

We very nearly roasted this dish earlier but the weather was scorching hot we decided to steam it instead. We would have omitted the sesame oil, ginger, wolfberries and star anise in the roast version. 

Bon appetit!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Room With A View

This tree is special.

This tree was just a newly planted sapling when The Little Girl first joined The Playschool at 23 months old. She used to look out of this window forlornly to wave her sad goodbyes at me and watched me leave; and then gleefully anticipated my return at noon to bring her home.

Bean is now 20 months and The Little Girl is 59 months.

He gets a much prettier sight out of the same window, in my opinion. I cannot help but feel the passage of time when I saw this soothing mass of green foliage this morning. Indeed, blessings are not always monetary if we care to ponder.

Oh, how this tree has grown, syukur alhamdulillah. And will continue to grow, in sha Allah.

"While he is in such pursuit, all in the world even fish in the sea or any in the hole seek pardon for him, and when he walks, Angels spread out their wings for him." Hadith from The Holy Prophet Muhammad saw, regarding education.


*recalling bittersweet tales from FIL how the kampung folks used to measure their children's age by planting a designated coconut tree upon birth of each child*

**that would mean having two coconut trees in our "imaginary kampong garden", visually estimating leaf scars to guesstimate age of each tree and noting the differing heights, if that were the case - how unscientifically sweet!**

End of digression.

Have a nice day, my lovelies. 

Easy Peasy Recipe: Stuck In A Rut

The magic of 1 Pasta + 1 Protein + 1 Vegetable. Well, 2 Protein in the case below.

Plenty got done here in the piano, homework and play department with the kids though, so I am not complaining since they lapped all their dinner up.

I promise NOT to update anymore on this staple and simple dish *haha* Please do share which are your overused/often-repeated/highly successful recipes!

Next up, roast chicken, beef stir fry sort of dishes lined up on my roster *sigh of relief* in sha Allah! May my cooking skills and repertoire expand for everyone's sake *beaming*

Bon appetit!
Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Gratitude: Rain

Today, I am grateful for rain. 

It has been scorching hot with 36-38C and high humidity of above 70% lately so when some rain fell, I almost knelt down with gratitude.

A portion of Surah An-Nur Ayat 43 of The Holy Quran states, "Do you not see that Allah drives along the clouds, then gathers them together, then piles them up, so that you see the rain coming forth from their midst?"

In Surah Ar-Rum Ayat 48 of The Holy Quran,"Allah is He who sends the winds, so they raise the clouds, and spread them along the sky as He wills, and then break them into fragments, until you see rain drops come forth from their midst! Then when He has made them fall on whom of His slaves as He will, Lo! They rejoice!"

Indeed, the wind You created has brought clouds to form and shower us with some rain, SubhanAllah Your presence is eminently assuring. Thank you, my Lord. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

The New Routine

"Education is compulsory both for males and females, and that it should be searched even if it is available in a distant land as China." Hadith from The Holy Prophet Muhammad saw regarding education.

We have a new routine starting today. 

Bean is 20 months 2 weeks. His sister is 59 months. It took us this long to finally have a somewhat sane morning routine. Syukur alhamdulillah for this Ease.

Bean has enrolled at his elder sister's former Playschool (and he is loving it!). 

Syukur alhamdulillah separation anxiety is manageable but we will see how this develops. In sha Allah it will not get too difficult. The Other Half generally manage the kids much better than I do; the kids get slightly over the top with display of their attachment and emotions when it comes to me *I wonder why*

Our new school run routine will see The Other Half getting the honour to drop Bean off in the morning as I am already at The Big School with The Little Girl,
and braving the traffic into the city again with the rest of the workforce. 

The Other Half and I will then reunite, finish some work in the morning, have brunch, run errands and prepare for weekday homecoming of our 2 kids. Solid few productive hours!

It makes more sense for me to stay with Bean at home after he comes home while The Other Half goes to pick The Little Girl up from The Big School daily except Fridays. We will see how Friday goes. Friday is when they both finish at noon and we have to fetch one kid each from separate locations. Wish us luck!

Well. That takes care of school run. 

How was Bean's first day you'd ask? He mostly observed, ate and played. Although he knew most of the hand movement songs and phonics because we do them at home, he observed in awe today how differently it sounded like in the presence of new teachers and peers. Circle time was something new to him because this time it involves real children and not 18 of his soft toys and an elder sister!

A small incident of tripping over a ride did not mar his first day at all. No tears, just ice pack on cheeks and he carried on. Such a trooper! I am of course thankful it wasn't a serious incident.

The teachers were satisfied with his food and drink intake, and he knew to request for second helpings at lunch. He enjoyed his spagetti meatballs, papayas and watermelon. Good on him. By the looks of menu rotation, and comparing it with his sister's, I am going to adjust our family dinner menu rotation to avoid clashing.

The first thing he did as soon as he got home was to nurse to sleep, exhausted from his new stimuli and environment. 

Here's praying and hoping Bean will make the best of his childhood carefree days at Playschool, may Allah swt keep him safe and happy always. Amin!