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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year 2017

Salam my lovelies,

Happy New Year! May this year be better than ever for you and your loved ones.

I am so glad my 2016 taught me invaluable lessons about people, business, friendship, marriage, parenting and so much more. It was difficult, sure, but Allah swt sent me help and signs in so many ways through so many people I am really thankful for it all although it was tough to express the same at that point of time. Syukur alhamdulillah for 2016.

InshaAllah, 2017 will be our best year yet.

Summer in Sydney: Day Five

Final Day in the city, kids strapped us to Queen Victoria Building and did the long walk along Pitt St. to the harbour. We came home to pack, did as much laundry as possible and got ready to vacate for flight home early the following day.

My poor health could be felt and I did not push for much. Just the slow and easy pace and ample self-reflection, tried my best to be grateful and quietly learnt ways to be friends with The Other Half again after a very difficult time. I was quiet, contemplating my course of treatment options. I told myself the fever and pain will go away soon. I made a new friend in Pauline Hor and it has been Godsent. Our children go to the same school so she understands my routine and struggles too well.

By the time we boarded the plane to head home, all my unresolved issues with Sydney came to a peaceful closure and acceptance too.

Goodbye, 2016. Thank you for the lessons but please let 2016 remain in 2016. Forever. Amin.

Summer in Sydney : Day Four

Paddington Market Day! 

Kids played at the church playground, The Other Half and I took turns to shop for handicrafts. Once it got boring for us adults we hitched another taxi back to Hyde Park to let the little ones run free. 

Hyde Park Barracks Museum provided the much needed afternoon shield from summer sun. Another long trek to Botanical Gardens. Kids thoroughly enjoyed the red choo-choo ride around the vast garden.

It got too hot, so Bean threw a major tantrum at Sydney Opera House as he wanted to order cold chocolate at one of the lounges that serves only alcohol (big oops and drama there!). We persuaded him to go to ice-cream stall at Circular Quay but have you ever met a toddler with tantrums? Yes, that was us. Spectacular!

I basically carried him all the way back to Circular Quay, he almost got his foot caught at the train gap and then fell asleep in my arms at Queen Victoria Building. Precious, right? The sweaty mop of hair, flushed cheeks and calm snoring that weighed just about 15 kg of dead weight. 

As soon as we got home, everything settled down for a much needed rest for everyone. Girl and The Other Half kept to their habit of buying Shopkins from Woolsworth before 10 pm nightly. Bless.
Friday, 30 December 2016

Summer In Sydney: Day Three

Taronga Zoo Day!

Here is the summary:
The Bare Bears on telly during breakfast - what a good routine of no homework/no shouty parents. Everyone was happy to do their own thing at their own pace.

The only time I said "chop chop time to go" was for the walk to QVB train station.

On with train ride to Circular Quay, disembarked for short walk to Wharf for Taronga Zoo. We got the ferry return tickets that comes with combo of Taronga Zoo family pass AND cable car passes. It saved us quite a hefty sum and precious time.

Girl and Bean had their own programme in mind. They played at every playground, lunched at The View (the view was indeed spectacular!), visited more playground, bumped into Girl's schoolmates and finally at 5 p.m. took the trip back to Circular Quay.

We then bought ferry tickets to Pyrmont Bay, walked towards Darling Quarters for even more playground time. The same schoolmate's mummy had the same unsaid ideas for Darling Quarters so we spent a long evening getting to know one another properly and bonded.

When it was time for dinner, we opted for a nearby Japanese restaurant, while the kids continued to play till dusk at Darling Quarters. Bean refused to leave so he rewarded me with a major meltdown. I was tired and in pain so we hitched a taxi ride back to the flat because I was too tired to walk with a kicking 15 kg Bean in my grip.

By some miracle, we got everyone showered and tucked in by bed time. What a tiring day it really was.

We did not see much at the zoo but we sure did a whole lot of playing and eating of ice-creams there! Wonderful excuse to return next time, inshaAllah.

P/S: Will upload photos when I iCloud my files...hehehe. 

Summer in Sydney: Day Two

The hallmark of Girl's Sydney breakfast ritual is morning cartoons. This trip, she discovered a cartoon about 3 bears - polar bear, brown grizzly bear and panda bear who coexist in a home near a town. Her last trip was all Ben-10! Bean was obsessed with The Bare Bears every morning so I had often brought them their breakfast and allowed them to eat in front of the telly while they were still in their pyjamas!

Since this was going to be a short holiday, we literally had to turn off the telly and pry them out of the serviced apartment by 10 am. We walked to the ANZAC Memorial, had both lunch and tea at Australian Museum and dinner at Sydney Opera House.

They both spent many hours collecting twigs and leaves at ANZAC Memorial and Hyde Park. It was a taste of normal childhood as they played tag (ran and chased one another while laughing crazily and loudly) while The Other Half and I sipped our lattes and watched out for their safety. Inside the memorial, Girl was able to recognise the red poppy garland as a tribute to fallen soldiers who fought the war.

We went indoors at Australian Museum as soon as the sun got hotter and we left the kids to be fascinated by display about Spiders. They especially loved colouring their own spiders, scanned it at the kiosk and see their own spider animated. There was just so much for them to do we spent many hours and two meals there until closing time. The rooftop cafe offers a lovely view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Fresh air and sunshine were let in as they left the sliding doors wide open for natural ventilation. Fresh food and drinks were of fairly good quality too, a nice change from just cold sandwiches, pastries and coffee which you often find at museums.

After an overload of Spiders,  we let the kids loose again at Hyde Park and Botanical Gardens until the shower hit us at 5.30 pm as per weather forecast. We had ponchos and umbrellas ready. Dinner was at Sydney Opera House for the Harbour Bridge view. Japanese cuisine was fresh and tasty but we were too stuffed to order any dessert.

At around 7pm, the little ones started showing signs of having had too much fun (read as: tired, tantrums) so we boarded the train from Circular Quay back to Town Hall. A quick walk past Queen Victoria Building, and we were almost at doorstep of our home away from home. Bean threw a mini tantrum because he wanted to hold all 4 Opal cards, and insisted on being carried once he got tired of walking. I was his one and only MamaTaxi, and to be honest I enjoyed kissing his cheeks while he clung on tightly for dear life.

Again, everyone got washed and retired early while adults stayed up to pray, finish the laundry and enjoy a cup of tea - which soon became a good routine considering it was a holiday.
Thursday, 29 December 2016

Summer in Sydney: Day One


Once we breezily cleared our immigration and collected our two luggages, we went out to search for Alex. He is our trusted, reliable and friendly limo driver, whenever we visit Sydney.

Remember how we declined our pre-booked in-flight meals as we were sleeping during meal time? We were so famished and thirsty we requested for a quick breakfast at the arrival hall. Alex Anani introduced us to a kiosk that serves halal pita bread, baked on the spot! Brews fresh ground coffee too. We bought apple juice for the kids but oh, fresh pita bread with latte for breakfast was simply divine! He was so kind he let us eat and drink in his luxury car (we promised not to leave crumbs or spills).

There has been an upgrade to his Mercedes-Benz since we last saw him and kids were thrilled with the sunroof. They kept saying it was just like their grandad's last car and how it works differently from the current Lexus sunroof, I distracted myself by looking out of the car window as we passed Zetland and headed into the city. I felt right at home. Home away from home. Only with cleaner air.

A short 20 minutes later, we arrived at Meriton Pitt St. Check-in time was brief as they had all our details. The bonus was that they had a unit of serviced apartment ready for us right away at noon. Check-in time is stated at 2 pm and we were not charged the extra couple of hours. Sweet!

The reception staff was also culturally-sensitive/aware and asked if I had any objections to the number 4404 fengshui-wise. We did not mind one bit and our only minor comment after being shown the unit was that the master bedroom was a bit of a squash and a squeeze.

The extra two hours allowed me to unpack, got everyone showered and we ventured out to Woolworth for supplies (laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, fruits, tea, cereals and bread). We went out again for a walk as soon as the groceries had been brought home. There was a construction site along Kent St. so luckily we did not select Meriton Kent St.!

We walked towards Pitt St Mall and since there were buskers everywhere, we did not have a chance to go shopping. Bean asked for a photo of Sydney Tower from Pitt St Mall before asking for an early dinner from the Japanese cafe near Meriton Pitt St. He got over-stimulated at an electrical and computer store, and only cooled down once we were outdoors.

After a quick dinner and wash up, we retired early to recharge for the adventures ahead. I did the laundry with eucalyptus laundry gel - and be the first woman in history who regrets not buying a dozen bottles of laundry gel to bring home. 

Oh, Sydney. You have changed so much and yet everything is the way it is. 
Monday, 26 December 2016

Summer in Sydney: Air Asia

I know I have not posted detailed account of our long, wet, summer in Ireland yet, oopsie-a-daisy.

We left for Sydney, Australia as soon as school holidays started. It was our first Air Asia flight as a family so you can imagine my nervousness coupled with streaks of anticipation. We were blessed with an awesome GrabCar driver with Nissan people mover. She provides wifi, water, snacks and and YouTube onboard from home to KLIA2.

As soon as we were dropped off at KLIA2 Departure Hall, we ate our dinner at the first cafe we stumbled upon, Secret Recipe. It was nothing special but kids were thrilled with the cold chocolate treat after dinner. We had to sugar them up to last until check-in and boarding time at 11.30 pm which is way past their bedtime.

As we had lots of time to kill before checking-in (we were first timers at KLIA2 and had no idea how to plan out timing), kids explored the few shops and Malaysian aviation milestone board. I hope they remember something about aviation history in this country, but I doubt it. I bet they only recall the mock palm trees and large screen LCDs.

When our check-in counter finally opened at 8.30 pm, we were nearly the first ones to check-in. We packed really light (thanks to reliable washer and dryer at Meriton Pitt St) and since Bean had just been potty trained, we had even more space in the luggage sans MamyPoko Pull-Up Pants.

Immigration clearance was uneventful, luckily. We then finished up all our water in our bottle just in time for toilet time before boarding. Theboredom stemming from long waiting time nearly killed us so fortunately the shopkeepers were not too fussed about having 2 noisy and active children jump into their rides, touch their early Christmas display and laugh the place down. Cold chocolate drink after dinner, remember?

The boredom of waiting without lounge and creative ways of inventing new games are all eye-opener for us 4. The 2 noisy and crazy travellers were a bit sleepy by 11 pm and started misbehaving from sugar crash. Instead of curling up to sleep, they noisily climbed on every seat at the waiting area. I think I have never glared and hissed that much before my entire life.

By the time we boarded, got our seat belts buckled and settled in, Girl mumbled that she wanted a flatbed (we got hot seats, not knowing earlier that we should have bought flat beds). Point to note if we ever travel with Air Asia again (mentally guesstimating the cost to be equivalent to MAS tickets).

Bean basically suckled to sleep. One other traveller was curious of his age and why he has not been weaned to a bottle of formula yet. Me, being the thick skinned nurse in public mum with lack of sleep just politely replied that I was tired and dozed off.

The sound of creaking trolley woke me up. We refused our pre-booked meals as we were sleeping. Luckily, we have packed travel blankets for the 2 of them but the upright seats with limited recline were not the best beds. Too tired to care, everyone slept and stirred.

In the end, the flight comfort (or rather lack of comfort) had not matter that much because we woke up to glorious Sydney! We were thankful the kids travelled well without incidents. We were just so thankful Bean has been officially potty trained and kept dry without accidents. He wore his Mothercare trainer pants just to be safe throughout the holiday, but his potty training had been relatively easy because he told us when he was ready. I learnt an important lesson from Bean: Often times, it is OK to be led by child.

The Sydney air did us 4 a whole lot of good. It was the change of scenery and circumstances we have been waiting for, for an entire year. Syukur alhamdulillah!




Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Your Health Bankrupt Lady

Back in November, I was looking forward to lunch with some of the loveliest school mums. As two of them were celebrating their birthdays, Drama Queen and I had arranged for a cosy lunch at Publika.

All was good that morning and I went to my dental appointment for routine scaling and cleaning after dropping off Bean at The Playschool. My dentist reminded me to go for my follow-up endodontic appointment for X-Ray so that we may proceed to replace my old crown, etc and I was driving from dentist towards Publika when l I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left arm pit.

Oh, no!

I have had numb left arm a few times earlier that month which I thought was just bad sleeping posture. There were also a few days of numbing pain in that site which I thought was just a muscle pull from having to wrestle Bean during one of his tantrums.

Suddenly, the dreaded thought of having to cancel or postpone our upcoming holidays flashed before my mind. I quickly arranged for Bean to be picked up by The Other Half and since I was not sure how long I was going to take at ER, I asked for his help to pick Girl up too.

The lunch group of school mums were quickly informed as I drove to Prince Court Medical Centre. By the time I was shown to Radiology as a walk-in emergency case, the 3 lovely ladies had sent me beautiful photos of what I was missing out on! They sent me healing thoughts, prayers and positive notes so I was emotionally still fine.

Not long after that, it was my turn for an ultrasound. Both breasts looked lumpy and the Radiologist was not surprised with my sag from breastfeeding since 29 March 2010 when Girl was born. She also picked up a lump on my leg breast which is a probable cause of my pain. I was immediately given a new date to consult her colleagues in oncology as well as plastic and reconstructive surgery. That was when I started shaking (from anxiety) and stuttering (from fear).

What a whirlwind it has been since.

Blood tests, biopsy, MRI, consultations and and upcoming review with the different surgeons involved. New medical lingo just opened up to me and I have been spending time reading to review pros and cons of each different treatments. Lumpectomy versus mastectomy. Lifespan of implants versus uptake of fat graft. Chemo or radiation. Eat clean, raw eating, juicing, qigong, yoga, etc. My career comeback options versus my health.

The cherry on the cake came today when I passed out at One Utama after lunch. I felt quesy and hot flash just before. I was not dehydrated, as Ijust drank a whole glass of dragon fruit juice, warm ginger tea and a sip of coffee with my lunch. I also had breakfast earlier before we left home. The Other Half and my two munchkins were with me at lunch so luckily they looked after me, strangers reached out to help and the security team at One Utama responded in a timely and professional manner. Alhamdulillah for all the help and blessings. This incident has put a new sense of urgency to my health plan at Prince Court so we shall see what happens next.

I am so thankful both Bean and Girl did not panic. I am so glad The Other Half did not lose his cool. I dare not imagine how much worse I could have been without Izumio and Super Lutein. I remind myself not to wish for health come 2017 because I did for my 40th birthday in 2016 and look where I am.

In the end, Allah knows best. May this be the way He purifies and brings me back on His Path. Amin.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Report Card Day

Last 25 November 2016 was Report Card Day at The Big School. We dropped Bean off at The Playschool then drove Girl to The Big School for her Autumn/Winter term report.

I waited to see her personal tutor while she walked The Other Half up to the rooftop garden, and around the school compound. By the time they were done, I was still in queue to meet her personal tutor (who took great lengths to discuss progress with other parents ahead of me), so she went to breakfast with The Other Half at the Dining Hall, then read story books at the mini Library (why it is named The Ice-Cream Parlour, I have no idea).

It turned out that Girl's Math teacher had the most to comment on Girl's brains being "switched off", how she had during the period I was trying to resume work and mend my marriage with The Other Half  became distracted and stopped learning. Stopped participating. Stopped living and just existed.

It broke my heart.

When the Math teacher asked if everything was alright at home, I wanted to cry but instead I felt anger and frustration, mostly directed at myself. She held both my hands throughout and kept telling me that I am a good mother, and there is no need to change classes or school because children will meet all sorts of people who say all sorts of things and that children grow resilient from being thrown harsh comments.

In all honesty, I know that Girl dreads her Math teacher's personality. She is in her 80s and ought to retire. She is very old-school and I have raised Girl with positive reinforcement instead of the old-way of "challenge". My "You can do it" versus her "Prove to me you are not stupid". Sigh. 80/100 is NOT stupid although I agree with Math teacher 100/100 is what Girl really is made of. In Girl's class, 80/100 for Math is the lowest score, so it is understandable that this is a cause for concern.

I must suck it all up indeed and continue to be the home tutor, no matter what. I will not push her to score 100/100 although she is the type of student who can when she puts in effort because that had been her score for Math and many other subjects. I just hate to see her not realising her true potential. As her mother, I do not want her self-confidence and self-esteem to be eroded by harsh comparisons and mean words by teachers and other students.

In another incident, Girl refused to revise her Geography lessons and all the revision questions I had prepared for her actually came out in the examinations. I was heart-broken when I saw her careless mistakes because had she revised with me, she would have gotten them all correct. I comfort myself that Girl is 6 and will soon realise her own silliness, so my job is to guide her along. On the other hand, I am really pleased that other schoolmates who revised using the same revision paper fared better!

When I did eventually meet Girl's personal tutor, she hugged me. She knows I am trying my best to manage, cope and survive 2016. There was no review of Girl's performance as overall it still is good, and we parted with only kind words to welcome better and brighter 2017.

When the session concluded, we walked Girl to the car, and wished her all the best for the new term with options for her to choose. The Headmistress presented us with several options and a month to think it over.

Girl can:
i) Stay in current class and switch her Math brains on, despite the teacher's personality;
ii) Change to another class and still face the same Math teacher and the bundle of glory she is;
iii) Change to another class without the Math teacher and assimilate to her new class;
iv) Change campus (Commute time!!); or
v) Change school (Last resort).

It has been a few weeks since the Report Card Day and Girl is still mulling over these options, so we have yet to email her Headmistress.

Moral of my story?

Quality of my marriage co-relates to my child's emotional wellbeing.

I slapped myself to wake me up, yes I did.

Thank you for this timely wake up call. Report Card Day truly reflected my poor performance as a mother and home tutor, so I need to improve myself for the sake of Girl (and the entire family as a whole).

Here's to happier and better Term 2 in January 2017, inshaAllah.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sunday Routine

There is something magical about Sunday routines that I hold dear when we are not at The House.

Washing, drying and chalking canvas shoes.

Ironing all school uniform and packing bags.

Sharpening all colour pencils and replacing missing ones from the spare set. Arranging them in hues of the rainbow (OCD mummies will be high 5-ing me right now).

My simple pleasures, bliss! I know I do these still for my little ones and I will enjoy them as much as possible now before they grow to be independent.

What are your favourite things to do on Sundays? Please do share!
Thursday, 10 November 2016

Fire Station Field Visit

The Playschool has been hosting annual visit from the Jelatek fire station by sending us one of their biggest and modern fire engines. Girl used to enjoy climbing up one; and watching the rescue demo. Her personal favourite still is turning on or off the siren!

This year, Bean will be going on a field trip to the fire station as The Playschool is tweking some of the details as we grow. Since Bean is obsessed with all things built with wheels, he is really looking forward to this fun (and educational, but let's not tell him that just yet) visit. A yellow school bus AND a red fire engine. Gosh!

I wish them all a safe and enjoyable trip with no tears when it comes to home time.

How exciting!

Autumn/Winter Term

...is coming to an end and the term exams signifies the checkpoint of what Girl has been up to at The Big School.

I only realised how much she has grown (physically) when her outfit all looked a size too small right after the Mothercare sale had ended. Which means having to pay regular prices less only 10% instead of 40-60% off during the sale! Growth spurts happen overnight when she sleeps, I can vouch that much.

Emotionally, she is going through an insecure phase where she feels I spend too much with with Bean while she is away at The Big School. I reassured her that Bean goes to Playschool too, and that I only spend the "extra hour" with him in the morning before he leaves home. This hour is also compensated during afternoon school run when I fetch Girl and it is our daily 1-1 time. We even extend this to include grocery shopping, bath, homework and dinner preparation time. Bean will then come home from his 1-1 time with The Other Half at about 5.30 pm.

Sometimes, Girl cries before bedtime because she feels like staying up a little longer but knows that if she does not get sufficient sleep, she will also feel tired and cry in the morning. In the wee hours, she had been coming in to sleep at the bottom of my bed. Imagine 4 of us on the king size bed? What a squash and a squeeze!

Kids will be kids. If she is going to feel all insecure and count the minutes and seconds she is spending with me, I better appreciate this and reciprocate with quality  and quantity of time before she outgrows this phase and choose to spend her time with her friends or a special someone in future.

For now, syukur alhamdulillah for our mother-daughter time. I shall try my best not to feel suffocated.
Monday, 31 October 2016

Clone Me

Every night, during bedtime ritual for Girl and Bean, I wish I can clone myself and be present in two places at the same time.

Bean wants me to shower him, place him into the bath tub for 10 minutes (we turn on the timer, so we know precisely when 10 minutes is up), lift him up, rinse and dry him before letting him choose his pyjamas for the night. He calls it "poh-jar-mous", in his cutest voice ever.

Concurrent to this lovely scene:

On nights when Girl wants me to accompany her to brush her teeth, wash up for the night, tuck her in after her prayers and cuddles (which happens almost every night, but of course!) - on nights when The Other Half can and will help but vehemently refused by Girl...

She cries. Loudly. In her bedroom.

Bean cries too. Loudly. In the bath tub.

Sigh.

Clone me. Quickly.

How do you avoid such time clashes in your nightly routine? Do you stagger bed times? I have tried and still these two cheeky rascals will somehow time it such that I wish I can be cloned.

Help!
Saturday, 29 October 2016

Happy Deepavali

Salam my lovelies,

May the Light thriumph over evil. May your muruku and jelebi be in abundant supplies. Safe travels and happy holidays!

I am having a terrible time nursing a bad flu and fever and cannot wait to be better so that I can devour crispy muruku and sweet jelebi.

Oh, I am obsessed with these two right now because I cannot have them, argh...! Let's hope the dengue bloodtest and H1N1 swabs return negative results.

***2 hours later***

Negative for dengue.
Negative for H1N1.

Syukur alhamdulillah.

A course of antibiotics for 5 days has been prescribed because bacterial infection showed up in the blood test. I am also on a "high dosage" of a few packets of Izumio with 2 capsules of Super Lutein every few hours right now to help my body recover.

Totally enjoyed those few pieces of muruku from PIL's driver's wife. Thank you, Madam Usha. It went so well with a cup of hot tea and Marnie, a Studio Ghibli final production.

Deepavali and Halloween well spent, despite the flu and fever.


Friday, 21 October 2016

I Can Never Be Who I Was Before

Silly me.

I went to search for myself to realise that I can never the person I once was. I am like the proverbial hermit crab who has outgrown her shell and need to find a bigger, shinier, stronger, better shell.

The person from 10 years ago who was single, without the Love and Mercy of Allah swt, hand-to-mouth-making-ends-meet while looking good in suits and corporate business trips, no dependents whatsover other than plants and bills and mostly spends her entire life working even when travelling.

What was I thinking?

I am so glad I came to realise this. It took me many cups of latte on my own to think straight but the harsh truth came from someone I used to know, who recently reconnected on a professional basis. "You are now a mum of 2. Not single anymore. You wear tudung now."

Wow.

OUCH.

Thanks! I sure needed that rude slap from one of the most rude and selfish persons I have ever encountered. That aside, it is truth is I am a mum of 2. I am married and trying to make my marriage as happy as can be. I do don the headscarf, despite my dugaan of heat and sweat.

On a positive note, I am more aware of my blessings and shortcomings now. I make a conscious effort to improve myself. Stay with me and root for me.

Have a blessed Friday and weekend, my lovelies!




Monday, 17 October 2016

I Question Myself Sometimes

It saddens me that there are a few types of "charities" in Kuala Lumpur.

The Other Half and I were approached by someone who gave salam, and showed us his plastered wound and asked for money in shopping mall near home. It made us feel bad if we had not returned his salam. It made us feel bad that he was suffering from a wound (that looks a little too Halloween, if you have seen one of those before). It made us feel bad that he would suffer even more if we do not give him any donation.

The same man plies the same pitiful situation in a few malls (Suria KLCC, Avenue K and Great Eastern Mall) and we bumped into him several times on different days. Just like that, our hearts became hardened and we stopped pitying "his situation".

Conscience.

I guess it is the same as the many "my-spouse-is-blind" couples who give salam, sell tissue papers and hover around mamak stalls and open air eateries in Bangsar and Damansara Utama. Over the years, I learnt not to fall foolishly into such business schemes.

Conscience.

Recently, it hit close to home. Someone I have been assisting "got found out". His Revelations were timely and accurate. Just like that, I told myself to stop. It is no use giving fish to someone whom I had already taught to fish but refuses to fish for him/herself.

Syukur alhamdulillah for His Revelations and Signs. I "halalkan" everything given before, of course. I just will not continue being bullied and used, that's all. Thank you so much for the lessons.

Conscience.

Do you question yourself too?
Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Solo versus Partnership

Salam, my lovelies.

So it has come to pass that I am better suited as an in-house legal counsel for various reasons. The mother of all reasons would be my flexibility to work-from-home so that I can still care for my children.

I know.

Same old story.

Money is not always sole reward or motivation. Access to client account, decision-making process, structure of partnership, and 1001 details should be clearly spelt out in partnership agreement. Therefore, in a situation where  a draft partnership agreement is not forthcoming, that reflects on lack of interest to pursue further.

One can also stick to the quiz on the Malaysian Bar Council website to help determine if one is better suited as a sole proprietor or a partner before even considering such talks. It helps with decision-making process beyond wanting to have partners just for the sole purpose of "beefing up the firm profile", "opening doors" and such.

Well, I have sort of reached my conclusion about myself, and insyaAllah, this is a "happy" one. Syukur alhamdulillah!

Note to self: Shaytaan threatens you with poverty and command you with evil and obscene deeds. [Al-Quran 2:268]
Friday, 7 October 2016

When September Ends

Hello, October!

My month of September was one full of revelations, sign and answers. Syukur alhamdulillah, I can say the outcome is better than my imagination.

While work load is heavy, I tell myself to be thankful for His rezeki.
While my body is weary, I thank those who are here to root for me; and sincerely want to see me survive and eventually triumph this transition period.

You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Monday, 19 September 2016

Carefree versus Career

Honestly, I miss my carefree days of working only on selected projects, not worrying about bills, concerned only with what to cook for dinner and if my children achieved their milestones.
Or hanging out with fellow mums from The Playschool and The Big School during brunch and home time.
Or making sure I do not miss the Mothercare sale.
You get the drift.

Those were the good old days, just not too long ago.

The harsh reality, if you ask me, comeback career comes with sacrifices.

My children are getting used to me working from home. They are used to seeing the home office door shut. When they peep in for a cuddle, they see my somewhat stressed out face with my ears glued to the phone and eyes on some documents. They sacrifice a lot too. It breaks my heart, truly.

I worry about bills although I am not the one paying for them currently. What if I have to someday and I cannot afford to?

I worry about escalating cost of property although we have no mortgage on where we live now. How are my children going to ever afford buying a place of their own without my help?

I worry about my own retirement because EPF is not going to be sufficient with double whammy of rate of inflation and Ringgit Malaysia depreciation. Who is going to pay for my cost of living when I am old and infirm?

All the more I am thankful and grateful for my weekly cheque from Naturally Plus. It is hard work presenting an alternative to self- care without antibiotics and medication, especially when I am not a medical representative, but if some many people have succeeded, so can I! I know for a fact an extra RM16,000 per month in my bank account (someday) will take a lot of stress off my chest. That includes being able to relieve others of some of their pain and suffering too.

All the more I am thankful for building up my legal portfolio now. I am grateful for more and more clients just base on referral after delivery of quality and timely projects.

As bland as it comes, I am also thankful for the minimal wages I have been keeping for 5 years. It is not a lot but it matters. The "extra" money has been useful on more than one occasion in helping ourselves and a few others with their difficult challenges (I have been so diligent with not buying handbags because every single time I feel the urge to purchase, I make the effort to donate instead - this is not wise either because Chanel is good investment!)

I guess I am thankful for all that I have now. Syukur alhamdulillah for this wake-up call.
Friday, 16 September 2016

Happy Malaysia Day!

Salam, my lovelies.

How are you spending Malaysia's 53rd birthday?

I had fun cleaning, no joke. There is a certain happy aura once everything is spick and span (I am beyond help, you may snigger away). After spring cleaning, I went to dinner on my own at Bonjour Garden (the kids gave me a holiday, woohoo!) and stocked up on groceries from Jaya Grocers' at Intermark (RM350 for a couple of stuff?!)

Looks like it is going to be piano lessons tomorrow (assessment and concert are fast approaching) and Sunday at The House.

Have a good holiday and fun, everyone!
Monday, 12 September 2016

Selamat Hari Raya Eiduladha

Salam, my lovelies!

Have a blessed Eiduladha and happy holidays. My family and I do not celebrate this in a grand manner other than the Qurban share/donations in the few days leading up to this event. Yesterday was Arafah Day, so we tried making someone else's day brighter.

To all who are celebrating, please do share how you go about it and spread the joy!
Saturday, 3 September 2016

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

A few of you requested for updates of our recent summer break to the beautiful island of Republic and Northern Ireland, especially on attractions and places of interest for young children. Thank you for your continued interest in my rant and babble.

To be completely honest, we boarded the flight on 22 August to head home via Dubai, arrived Kuala Lumpur on 23 August and school term for Autumn/Winter started on 24 September. There was no time for jet lag, so we hit the ground running.

To top it all, I started working on my client's file by morning of 25 September. Alhamdulillah for rezeki, no complaints there.

The holiday post will have to be uploaded in piecemeal *grin*

Here goes:
1 (Monday) and 2 (Tuesday) August 2016:
We checked-in to Sama-Sama Hotel in the afternoon. The kids enjoyed their family taxi ride to the hotel from home.

The famous Haji Samuri satay from the cafe was not available as the cafe was being renovated so we dined at another lobby restaurant. The satay has been oven grilled, dry and tough. No repeat orders after the first dozen.

Our Emirates flight was scheduled for 2.10 am so by 11pm, we checked-out of our comfortable room and took the kids for their highlight of the night - the airport club car ride to the terminal. They were so easy to please.

Our luggages were wrapped to stay clean and dry (weather forecast was summer rain in Dublin). Being paranoid of losing one of our 3 luggages, I packed in such a way that in the event one of the luggages should go missing, we still have enough to wear for a couple of days. However, I must admit that packing for 4 persons into one luggage had become easier over the years.

The Priority Lane check-in consumed a long time, it felt like the entire world was travelling First and Business Class. KLIA Check-In Hall was balmy with hardly any air-conditioning on. After what seemed like an hour, we were issued our boarding passes. The kids were restless by then so the inter-terminal train ride after passport clearance was a grand welcome.

The Business Lounge was another highlight for the kids. They treated themselves to a grand supper then wrecked havoc at the TV Hall, with their loud and happy voices at 1am. By boarding time, I was counting down the minutes when they could finally be in bed 30.000 feet above sea level. Girl did sleep on her flat bed as soon as the seat belt sign went off, bless. Bean was alert and a set of Emirates airport scene toys were quickly purchased from on board duty-free from the get-go to occupy him. For the entire A380 flight to Dubai, he stayed up and had 100% mummy-time. I was so sleepy and grouchy.

2 August 2016 (Tuesday):
Dubai to Dublin leg. The Business Class Lounge was a welcome change after being confined to our seats for 6 hours plus with Bean. Lights on/off, service call button on/off, TV on/off, toys were all over, books read many times, nursery rhymes sang on repeat (particularly Wheels on the Bus) and endless random topics of endless conversations later, Bean was still energised to walk while I felt like crashing. Instead, we rode the inter-terminal train, plodded our way to breakfast and onward to board our connecting flight to Dublin. This leg, Bean slept while Girl was up. I caught up with my French movies of 2015/6 to reward myself since no sleep was possible. The Boeing felt small after the A380.

We arrived at Dublin safely, all green and fresh (the grass, not us!). It was drizzling when we went to get our car rental from Hertz. Our car rental booking was upgraded from Mazda to BMW BUT the driver and front seats were locked in position! I had been looking forward to driving on country roads, I was destined to be passenger for the entire 3 weeks, it was frustrating and crazy. Allah swt has His Plans, yes.

We checked-in to Premier Inn Dublin Airport Airside and crashed to local time. Best feature of this hotel: Free Wifi. You can also upgrade for 5 Euros.

3 August 2016 (Wednesday):
We drove to Galway. Checked-in to Salthill Promenade Hotel and after a hearty lunch, we unpacked and took the kids out to a garden across the hotel and summer fun fair just a few minutes' walk away. The tokens were expensive at 20 Euros (every ride was at least 2 Euro per child) but the young ones had a gala time. This routine of park and fun fair soon became their highlight at Salthill.

4 August 2016 (Thursday):
Park, fun fair, repeat. Bye bye Euros.

5 August 2016 (Friday):
We rode the local bus to The Latin Quarters and had lunch there. Girl had her hair braided by a local artist before we headed back to Salthill for some fun in the sand at the sandy promenade across the hotel. Best features of Salthill Hotel: Great service at breakfast and free Wifi.

6 August 2016 (Saturday):
We drove to Sligo, bought supplies and checked-in to the house at Bundoran. Best feature of this house: Free wifi. I know I keep reviewing the Wifi connection of everywhere we were staying at because my sanity, work and discussions depended on it.

7 until 12 August 2016 (Sunday):
We spent a week here; sufficient for some form of routine to be introduced. One that included visits to the local launderette, playground, my favourite bakery Hardy Amies, cinema (kids watched Ice Age: Continental Drift and Finding Dory), chat with local mums to find places of interest for little ones (Castle Farm and Playground highly recommended) and basically lived like locals. We stopped being tourists and assimilated into life at Bundoran! Bundoran is close enough to drive to some of the places we wanted to visit  (Smuggler's Creek, back to Sligo, Yeats' Country, Lisadell House etc) so it was a decent anchor.

13 August 2016 (Saturday):
We drove to the United Kingdom side of the island, Coleraine. Dinner was hosted by one of the two aunts and since she moved to a new townhouse, we had difficulty finding her new home. Kids were totally tired by the time the meal was served so we quickly bundled them into the car and back to Premier Inn Coleraine for an early night.

14 August 2016 (Sunday):
We spent the day at the playground near the seaside. A family lunch went awry and some harsh words were exchanged. Not pretty. The kids had fun and ice-cream so the incident was quickly forgotten but FIL had a one to one chat with The Other Half about the latter's behaviour. It was about time someone did! Alhamdulillah things got better after that.

15 August 2016 (Monday):
Kids day out with the Grandparents and The Other Half. They had a great sunshiny day at The Giants Causeway. Sea water tasted salty, the kids came home drenched in sea water of The Atlantic and covered in sand but happy as can be. Bless.
I spent my day sleeping in and wandering at the shops nearby. It felt so good to be with my own company and thoughts, it was probably the best day of my summer. The Wifi had to be purchased because it kept logging me out but it was worth the GBP5 because I managed to get some work done!

16 August 2016 (Tuesday):
We drove to Omagh, hometown of MIL. We saw the old house where she grew up then we took the kids to the playground to burn off some excess energy.

17 August 2016 (Wednesday):
We found the local laundrette and paid a visit to one of the other aunt still living nearby. Silver Birch Hotel had zero connection for both 4G and Wifi, I felt so cut off from the rest of the world. It was not fun because Girl was expecting her new promotion list at The Big School and I was going to set up the Mummies' Chat Group for the new class. Finally, outside the launderette in town, I had brief connection to 4G so my little situation with the school and Izumio/Super Lutein orders were immediately sorted.

18 August 2016 (Thursday):
I was given a couple of hours to myself after breakfast to look for 4G connection and work but Cafe Nero came with zero Wifi. I ended up browsing at the shops and bought nothing. Omagh is quite a dead town. Kids went to Fintona with second cousins and had a great time at an indoor playground. Later that evening, we took the kids to the town centre for a walk but Bean suffered a meltdown from being too tired. We went back to the hotel for an early night in and "celebrated leaving Omagh soon".

19 August 2016 (Friday):
We drove south towards Dublin and had lunch at Four Seasons en route. It was a lovely lunch, for me. The same Premier Inn Airside with its reliable Wifi and breakfast. Girl followed The Grandparents to meet and greet The Lloyds (they put up at Holiday Inn) then Pavilion (shopping centre near the airport).

20 August 2016 (Saturday):
Malahide Castle was a really pleasant experience. I especially enjoyed the meal at Cafe Avoca. Disappointingly, I had no time to browse at the gift shop because we were going at The Lloyds' pace (rush, rush, rush). That evening, we took the feeder bus to the airport to hitch the bus to the town, walked in the rain, ate at a fast food halal joint, walked back in the rain to the bus stop and took the bus back to airport to change to hotel feeder bus. Kids enjoyed the many bus rides.

21 August 2016 (Sunday):
We were at the Dublin Zoo the entire day. Kids took their time walking, eating, playing at the many mini playground and just did what they did best - being happy. Bean cried when we left at closing time, ha ha ha. Luckily, Girl had good mood and even temperament throughout the holiday.

22 August 2016 (Monday):
Checked-out of Premier Inn Dublin Airside, checked-in our luggages and flights, returned our Hertz BMW, cleared immigration on express with Emirates Fast Pass, snacked at the Business Class Lounge and boarded our Boeing flight. I caught up with French movies all the way to Dubai. Resolved to visit Galway and Dublin again someday with the kids but oh please spare me from Northern Ireland (maybe I was just bogged down by too many issues at Northern Ireland to really enjoy it).

Dubai to Kuala Lumpur flight was good because Girl, Bean and I slept all the way. What a nice way to end the holidays!







Post Qualifying Experience

How often have you applied to jobs with x number of years in PQE and realised you have been working for a long time in your chosen profession?

I recently updated my LinkedIn account and it dawned on me that I have 14 years PQE. Instead of feeling old and rusty for career-break of 7 years to raise this young family, I felt (strangely) empowered and experienced - ready to take on clients and their matters.

"God works in mysterious ways." this cannot be more true.

21-23 August are special dates to me because those dates were when I first met my like-minded and warm bodied mentor in 1998, soon after my graduation from law school. It has been 18 years and the mentoring is still there.

"Why do you want to complete your CLP and pupillage?", my mentor had asked when I was failing at my CLP due to the mess it was before the major clean up in 2001.

"I do not want wake up at 40 and regret not doing my CLP and getting called to the Bar." I was in my 20s, super-confident and super-resilient then.

Well, my lovelies. I am now 40.

And guess what?

I am so thankful the sacrifices of resitting my CLP until I passed in 2001 (discovered that system failed me and many other candidates due to corruption and mismanagement) AND quitting my corporate job in oil and gas for one year to read in chambers as a pupil so that I could be called to the Bar are worth it. So very worth it.

I am now 40, satisfied that I made those decisions and had the right mentor who came into my life to support those decisions.

Alhamdulillah.

P/S: Yes, I am back in practice now. So grateful.

September

Salam my lovelies,

Allah swt Decides all indeed. I had an annual leave paid for since July for a short break to Sydney on my own to recharge and reassess my situation only to wake up one morning and discovered that plans had to be changed.

Redha. Amendments were made to flights, hotel booking were cancelled and rebooked.

Maybe this change is better suited for everyone. Girl can then sit for her piano assessment and concert before my departure. I will have to miss my FIL's birthday this year, and celebrate in advance to make up for my absence on the actual date. Maybe I can visit the late Mama Elena's pusara earlier too.

Surely, things fall in place when He is the driver. Alhamdulillah.
Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Autumn/Winter 2016

Girl starts year 2. What a milestone. 

She had her summer braid cut off tonight, and her two front teeth are missing. Her nails cleaned off the nail art I designed for her and trimmed to perfection too. 

As I labeled and wrapped her books tonight, I realised she will be off to boarding school and university in another two blinks.

In no time at all, Bean will be joining Girl in the same school and saving us the hassle of multiple school runs in different parts of the city.

It has been a bittersweet 21 days in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both Girl and Bean grew so much in that time. I grew too, perhaps.

Remember this, my lovelies:
1. Give your best attempt at life; and 
2. Enjoy growing as a person.

I love you both very much.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Concert Day

Make-up? Check!

Costume? Check!

Dance steps? Check!

Here we come!

It was glorious. Girl and the entire school
performed so well they made my heart swell with pride and joy.

What a wonderful end to Spring/Summer 2016. Syukur alhamdulillah.

Report Card Day

Girl concluded her final term exams and have since moved on to one of the most fun time in the school calendar - concert practice!

I met with her personal tutor on 28.7.2016 and whilst her academic results are excellent, we could work with The Big School to enhance the delivery and experience for Geography. 

Girl is not in the top 3 of the class this year but she is in the top class of one of the top schools in Kuala Lumpur so I am not fussing over her. The two things she must promise to do are:
1. Enjoy her school life as much as possible; and 
2. Always give her best effort.

Bravo, Girl! I am so proud of your eagerness to learn. Hearing you declare,
"I did my best, Mummy!" tells me you have got the spirit of a survivor. 

May Allah swt continue to bless your mind, body and soul to be the best you can be! 

Goodbye, Year 1. Hello, Year 2.
Friday, 22 July 2016

Insomnia

Salam my lovelies,

I usually fall asleep within minutes of my head touching my pillow. 

Tonight is an exception. Rare exception.

So much happened yesterday and it is not quite sinking in. I have so much to be thankful for, and so much more to ask for from our Most Beneficient and Most Loving. 

To those who faltered along The Straight Path, may your journey back to Him be easy and clear.

To unjustly separated families, I pray for your joyful reunion to brighten up your precious lives again.

To unjustly separated lovers, I pray for your reconciliation and tranquility in growing together once more.

To impatient lovers seeking instant gratification and answers. I pray for your Light and Truth to come swiftly.

To all who envy, may Happiness and Blessings be manifold in your lives that you will never be envious again.

Amin. 
Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The 7th Anniversary

We did nothing to celebrate the 7th wedding anniversary recently. 

One card from The Other Half stating how sorry he is for all the pain and suffering he has put me and the kids through, backed up by his reasons why he way he is.

I booked his appointment for him to see a marriage counsellor and a mental health professional; a very special gift from my broken heart because I want him to be happy and functioning again. 

We will work this out. InshaAllah.




Sunday, 17 July 2016

Final Term Exams

How is your weekend going, my lovelies?

Girl is sitting for her final term examinations tomorrow onwards and we have not done as much revision as we did previous term. I blame myself for not being 100% dedicated this time because of the emotional turmoil on the home front. All I can do now is make the best out of today and pray for the best!

We were given the exam dates and topics before Eid and the entire Eid week was spent at The House. Both Girl and Bean had a good time running up and down staircases, raced on their toy trikes, chased each other in the garden and indulged in the cookies and ice-cream that only The Grandmother would give them (eating of those sweets
made them sick!). Relatives visited and before you know it the school break was over with hardly any work done.

Her Mandarin paper results were encouraging despite my not helping her much with revision because we are blessed with one of the most patient and sweet Mandarin teachers at The Big School who makes lessons and revision all quite fun. We adore this young lady very much! What would I do without her? 
Saturday, 9 July 2016

Visualise

One of my weaknesses in the last 7 years is that I have stopped visualising my future. 

I have been taking it one step at a time, subscribing to predestination set by Allah swt for me. 
Proviso: Before You compose your hate mail, please know it in your heart that I am a relatively new Muslimah so please spare me your khutbah. Your support, guidance and love is greatly appreciated and may Allah swt bless you abundantly.

How did I lose this important life skill of mine? Visualising.

I set out to reflect the other day, without blaming anyone or judging myself.

1. Difficult pregnancy with Girl.
I did not visualise how motherhood, breastfeeding, parenting and coping without a helper was going to be like. I just did what had to be done as it happened. Nausea and vomit for 20 weeks left me depressed and I had quit my job at NatOilCo. Only one person spoke to me about the situation and it was the HR Manager. She still is my good friend and counsel today, years after we have both left NatOilCo. She remembers offering me the option of working from home until the pregnancy was over but she also understood how I had zero support network and have no choice but care for Girl myself. Leaving NatOilCo was a mistake and I still miss it for different reasons constantly.

2. Breastfeeding Girl when pregnant with Bean. 
Repeat of the above "just do it" and mostly relying on Allah swt to send me ease. We had no helper still, and towards  the end I had to ask for a part-timer to help clean The Flat during my confinement period. It was so bad on most days I had to drink coffee to perk me up during my pregnancy with Bean just so I could read Girl another book or sing her another song. Alhamdulillah Bean turned out alright. I wanted to hire a confinement lady to help us out but the suggestion was shot down by MIL. She cooked my meals and helped to watch Girl for about 4 weeks before busying herself with her own daughter's family visit. Instead of 44 days, we had about 28 days of confinement food. I cooked the rest of the meals after that. I don't remember the details of how we coped but we somehow did. It was one big blur.

3. Looking further back, when I first met The Other Half, I did try to visualise what we were going to be like but just could not. I was working 12 hours average at a high-stress tight-deadline environment which left me no brain cell or time left at the end of every day. He was working 12 hours shift work at HP before switching to 12 hours day, 4 days a week shift at Air Products.
We both were tired (I had given up social life at this point of time) and went on autopilot mode. Dinner, sometimes a movie when we were both not working late on a week night. There were no deep discussions about what we want out of life. We were just existing.

It is haram to date from the point of view of Islam and it bothered him. He proposed 4 months after meeting me. I wanted to say "No" but was sincerely worried he could not handle the rejection. By then, I was a newly minted Muslim and wished I had a bit more personal time to get more comfortable with being a practising Muslim. Against my better judgment, tired from being overworked and lost hope in a closure with a past relationship that had not happen after a few years - I said "OK". 

The ring was wrong. There were no flowers and no chocolates. He cried about an hour after proposing, as we stood at a corner at Mid Valley Megamall because he knew he was not going to be able to afford to give me the life I was working for with financial and eventually retirement goals. 

That was when his parents stepped in with a short engagement period 5 months instead of at least a year. The reason was his sister's family was coming back for a trip that July and it would be quite costly to ask them to return for a wedding the following February. Against, against my better judgement, I relented to suit them. With barely 5 months to prepare for a wedding, I went on autopilot for event management. If I had a year and a chance to review the situation, I would have broken off the engagement. Retrospective wisdom: now I know his parents had seen it coming and mitigated the matter. 

Soon after we were married, my MIL told me "not to worry" about my finances because they were going to let The Other Half inherit The House and that his ASB  account will generate some dividends to tie us over. I knew deep inside it was not going to be sufficient and neither were those in my name. By this point, my bachelorette pad had been sold to prevent my debt from accumulating. 

My biggest mistake? I kept quiet. Out of respect for the elders. 

I understood and knew I had to work for my own sustenance and contacted my headhunter in Singapore. Which failed and went back to square one because of lack of support network, no nanny and no helper and worst of all no permission to work outside the home. About 2 years later, my FIL offered me a position with minimum salary so I could stay in the professional loop and care for Girl. Of course I am grateful but it does not bring me to my financial or professional goals. It is more like a "please do not get a divorce" pacifier. In the meantime, my MIL kept telling The Other Half "She will ask for a divorce and take the kids with her". They saw all the pain and suffering and warned their son but not offer me any help to better the union. Do you see it, or am I imagining the selfishness from their part?

The point is, visualise. 

I have not visualised anything in the last 7 years and it is about time that I do again. I need time off to be able to do that. Map it out. Without distractions. Take a solo trip for a much needed time-out.

What would life be with (or without The Other Half)?

What are my sustenance options?

Will I be able to juggle shared custody for Girl and Bean? 

Will I find myself again? 

Will I just be plain tired of trying to make ends meet, on my own?

Visualise.

Pray for answers.

Pray for signs.

Pray for ease.  

Pray with me. 
Thursday, 7 July 2016

Getting To Know Myself

Salam my lovelies,

In order to cope with my recent low period, I tried recalling all the best moments from my past. Akin to Timeline Therapy, yes.

This process really did lift me up, one memory at a time. It is like rediscovering who I was, with objective of understanding myself again.

No wonder History is an important subject. Lessons, lessons, lessons.

Through understanding my past, I am able to move forward, lighter and happier.

I have since:
1. Purchased my favourite Mont Blanc green ink refill. I used to mark my drafts with green ink and my former Boss would automatically recognise my mark. His was violet so when he returned my draft covered in violet I can gauge if it was going to be a late night at work or a bye bye at 5.30 pm. Those were the days before I abused Word with "Track Changes".

2. Reconnected with my former hairstylist from is back from Paddington, New South Wales after 3 years abroad. He gave me my former best hairstyle, and we chat about suburbs in NSW like old chums. Oh dear, we are old chums!

3. Daily messages with my BFF. We are so blessed to have one another despite the distance. It just makes everything we are facing more bearable. On top of that, I have a few of my close girl friends and fellow mums to keep their eyes on me. Thank you, my lovelies. 

4. Carve out a few minutes daily just for myself. Sanity break! I usually choose to spring clean, reorganise sections of my closet, shop online, try out new scent at the perfume section, pray or whatever makes me fulfilled. Once, I took my time applying my skin moisturiser and I felt good all day long! Work of any kind is strictly excluded and so far, work has not suffered. Phew!

If you feel this is my mid-life crisis, bear with me. I don't know where this will take me but I know it will be better than where I was. 

Have you revamped/rediscovered yourself lately with Timeline Therapy? Try it, and please do share your experience! 

The End?


Salam my lovelies,

I have been going through a rough period pretty much on my own about appreciating The Other Half since the end of last year when we were constantly falling ill and holidays were cancelled one after another all in quick succession.

I questioned myself if I were just in this marriage for the easy portion (because I would like to kick my own derrière if this the case!). We endured two surgeries, scoring one each also in quick succession. By the grace of Allah swt, I survived the tough period quietly.

Our marriage needs fine-tuning. I am tired. Tired of constantly existing and persevering without "sparkles".

The one night hospital stay recharged me. The big bouquet of flowers helped reinforce the sweetness and love The Other Half could express because one of the nurses who saw him related to me how he brought it, and waited for me.

It did not resolve that easily. The Other Half slipped into manic depression, with the highs being euphoric and the lows in the gutter of gutters. The kids got the brunt of it. So did I.

Something had to be done because I was crying daily. 

Then I reached out to someone dear to me who stayed close to monitor, encourage and uplift me. Thank you, my dear. Thank God for you.

How has this improved my situation with The Other Half? Why was this phase a test?

On his good days:

I start to appreciate The Other Half again for who he is, to me, in the gentle and respectful way he treats me as the mother to his children, and his life partner. 

The little things like fetching my cup of English Breakfast Tea with just the right amount of milk without any sugar served just at its perfect drinking temperature when I nurse Bean. 

The medium things like sending Girl to The Big School when I am flat out tired and unfit to drive in the morning after a particularly clingy Bean stayed up all night and letting me nap when I suffer from broken sleep the night before.

The major things like making sure all bills are paid on time, and always being prudent. He provides to the best of his ability and I am thankful.

On his bad days:

The bad was so bad I am not going to list it here. Suffice to say the list is longer than my gratitude list. It went downhill so fast I did not have time to comprehend what was going on.

Luckily, I got a good contact from my pillar of strength. I sought the help of a professional counsellor and we carved out my options as well as useful pointers of how I can improve the situation.
A bird's eye view, emotional SWOT analysis and action plan.

One of the things to do is to send The Other Half for an assessment so that he can cope better too. A lifestyle modification plan! I am glad he sees this as an opportunity to move forward happier instead of groping in the dark and damaging everyone and everything around him. 

We were so close to losing this marriage and family. It was that bad.

May Allah swt protect and guide us into the 7th anniversary. Amin.

Eid Mubarak

Salam, my lovelies.

I am happy you are all celebrating joyously with family and friends. Journey mercies, happy holidays and catch up again soon, inshaAllah.

For all the private emails and messages to encourage me during my recent low mood, thank you and may Allah swt bless your good deed abundantly.

If you feel lethargic from all that rendang, lemang, cookies and sugary syrup...drop me an email at hannah.zulkifli@gmail.com if you want to reset/reboot your health/need a gym buddy. I will be glad to cheer you on and provide some emotional support. We can do it!

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.
Friday, 24 June 2016

The Low

Hello my lovelies,

I have not been posting because of some personal struggles. Emotional and faith battles within me during this Holy Month is presently still making me feel all dry and empty.

On the other hand, possibilities of overcoming the tests and invaluable emotional support from a few close friends are easing the knots up a little. For them, I am truly grateful. Thank you, my lovelies. 

One day at a time. 


I sincerely hope lessons in life is what is changing me, for the better. So much is at stake that I back down from fear of making the wrong decisions affecting lives of loved ones.

One day at a time.

Inhale. 

Exhale. 

One day at a time.
Monday, 6 June 2016

Ramadhan Kareem

Salam my lovelies,

I bet you have seen this a lot in the last two days:


...and...

Here is wishing everyone a fruitful blessed month and may all our ibadah and good deeds be pleasing and accepted by Allah swt.




Thursday, 2 June 2016

Big Yellow Bus

Bean rode on The Big Yellow Bus for the first time in his life yesterday from The Playschool to a concert hall.

When Girl did the same last time, I was that security/stalker mum but this time, I am that relaxed mum who goes to her appointments knowing that The Playschool will do a safe and fabulous job in caring for the little ones under their charge. 

He had gone to The Playschool in his circus design yellow pajamas (matching set) earlier but in the photo sent by one of the new security/stalker mums on duty, Bean was seen wearing his green London Zoo tee with red shorts.

When he came home, he was wearing the green London Zoo tee with his yellow zoo pajama pants. 

What is with his sense of fashion lately?!

I bet he is going to ask for his shark tee again and calm down once I explain Aunty M can only iron it this Saturday. God bless Aunty M. 

When I asked if he was excited about The Big Yellow bus, he said nothing. Girl was so in love with The Big Yellow Bus back in 2012, 2013 and 2014! 

Let's see if he will notice and report anything after his next ride.

BeansTalk: Pajamas

Bean wore his favourite car design pajama top and matched it against his favourite elephant pajama pants after his shower.

When I saw his mismatched pajamas set, I asked,"So, you have a car top with elephant pants on."

Bean replied,"Is it nice? Do you like it?"

Gotta love his big smile and confidence!
Tuesday, 31 May 2016

BeansTalk: You Fix

Bean says the funniest things sometimes. We were getting ready to go out one day and he asked each and every one of us what is it that we fix.

Bean: What (do) you fix?
Girl: I fix my dolls.

Bean: What (does) Daddy fix?
The Other Half: I fix your toy car.

Bean: What (does) Mummy fix?
Hampshire Mummy: I fix dinners.
Bean: No. You fix boogers.

We burst out laughing. That is obviously within the job scope of this mother now.

Bye bye, flu! 
Sunday, 29 May 2016

Ramadhan Preparation

Faith-wise, I feel like I am not 100% ready to face Ramadhan just yet. Some conscious effort has to be put in place, for my own good. 

I am not referring to frozen beef rendang cooked in advance although yes, that should also be part of preparation I should be making for The Other Half. I am going to try eating clean food for sahur and monitor if this will help reduce my bloatiness and carbohydrate-induced fatigue.

The only worldly preparation so far is storing up of some organic medjool dates, so you catch my drift by now especially if you were a Muslimah as unprepared as I am!

I am freeing up my work diary to get myself in gear. Faith wise, I may not be able to khatam al-Quran English translation at my beginner's pace so I had better start early. Girl also asked for new short Surah to memorise, bless her too!

My ex-colleague so graciously reminded me so when she postponed our lunch to replace her missed fast. SubhanAllah, His Signs. I feel so thankful for His Hidayah through various people and means. 

Are you ready; or are you also taking a step back to brace yourself for, InshaAllah, blessed Ramadhan? 

Ramadhan Kareem, my lovelies.
Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Field Trip


Girl joined her classmates and teachers for a field trip to Pizza Hut and Beryl Chocolate Factory today. Was she excited or was she excited?!

They put together their own Hawaiian Chicken Pizza in personal pan size, and ate it for lunch. Girl was quite sure she had added a lot of cheese and very little chicken but ended up with a pizza with little cheese and lots of chicken. Haha!

The chocolate factory was a little overwhelming for Girl (bean to finished product presentation) as she confessed during home time. Excitedly, she showed me her purchase of the day - 2 chocolates wafer boxes. Strawberry for her and dark chocolate for me. How sweet (literally and figuratively!).
The budget was RM20. She paid the correct price and brought home the accurate change. That is great for Applied Math, hurrah!

I am glad the trip went well and everyone returned safe and happy.

Alhamdulillah. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Apologies for the lack of updates. Girl came down with RSV a couple of weeks ago. The Other Half took her to ER at PCMC when we noticed cyanosis. Yes, her lips turned deep blue like blueberries and it was quite alarming. Fever of 39C but she claimed to feel really cold and was shivering. Poor kiddo.

They gave her a blood test to know exactly what was happening. The report showed RSV. I had to Google it and turned to www.nlm.nih.gov for some reliable information.



The Other Half was having a flu at about the same time but he did not get the cyclical fever so we are not sure if the strain is the same. He recovered just by taking a frequent dose of Izumio and Super Lutein. Alhamdulillah. 

Anyway, the week that Girl caught RSV was the week the English Topical Test was being carried out. She managed to take 2/3 papers with Spelling & Dictation still pending. 

The following week, she missed going to school so we sent her in thinking her fever was under control but The Big School rang for our consent to administer Paracetamol because her fever spiked. Poor kid. From then on, she was kept at home on medical leave and only went to sit for her Math Topical Test. I did not even homeschool her, and treated it as a rest period for her. She brought home her Math results yesterday and for someone who had been really ill, she did well. Alhamdulillah. 

Well,'something quite special happened. 

She was looking forward to joining the school field trip to a pizza and cookie factory and understood that no field trip accepts students with RSV or any illness. 

So she diligently started to chew 1 capsule of Super Lutein, 3 times a day. The day she started, I nearly teared because I have been trying to persuade her to do so for the last 5.5 months.

Honestly, I still want to tear now because that means she takes 90 capsules per month now and her cost of Izumio and Super Lutein is quite high (thank goodness there are ways to earn back!!) 

So, we know that a viral infection is something the body has to fight with all its own might without needing any antibiotics. That is exactly what Girl and her chewing of Super Lutein did for her. Plenty of carotenoids from fruits and vegetables of all colours of the rainbow helped boost her immunity and increased her ability to fight the virus. Izumio hydrogen water undoubtedly helped to flush all the nasties out.

This morning, Girl is fit as a fiddle to join her classmates and teachers for a fun field trip to the pizza and cookie factory. I pray for safe return journey and that they all have a jolly time (then write History and Geography Topical Test papers later in the week).

Looking forward to hearing all her fun stories later today, inshaAllah.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

My Iron Lady

LaundryMonster no longer rules our roost, alhamdulillah!

Miss M comes over for two hours twice weekly and she has been consistingly producing these great results:


My stress levels have dropped since. I can actually sit down and work every evening for productive 20 minutes or so and still have time to read to the kids if they decide to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights. Without me losing my mind.

I am not sure if I did share openly about my low period? I was liking The Other Half less because he too, was not coping with the ironing. When I had to put in extra 4 hours a week to just cover for him, I started feeling resentful and bitter. Actually, exhaustion and feeling depleted can be very damaging.

We had a heart-to-heart talk and agreed to budget for a part-time, live-out helper. 

Everyone feels so much better now:
1. The Other Half can also rest and focus on the kids (I believe my next move is to remove the handheld device from him for 2 hours every night when he is supposed to be spending time with the kids!!)

2. I feel less resentment and can actually watch a DVD at night at home once a month with The Other Half without guilt (or running short of things to wear that actually matches). I used to feel like a useless mum not in control of my home and chores because of LaundryMonster. Shopping for clothes is more liberating now because I do not focus on how long it would take to iron anymore and choose base on what looks good on me.

3. Girl has her clothes all sorted out now. I just focus on her Taekwando uniform and swim bags. Those frills and bows, sashes and pleats? Miss M does not mind them one bit. Yay!!

4. Bean has a good choice of shark, cars and trucks tees and pajamas with their matching shorts/pants. Bean's tantrum from not getting what he wants to wear when he wants "it" has reduced significantly. Even when a favourite item is still in the wash, I can just reason with him, "Aunty M will iron it for you after it is washed. She will be here tomorrow." Magic.

5. Miss M is happy with the extra income and since she considers our laundry bulk small for a family of four,  we are an easy family to work with. 

We count of blessings for having Miss M. To think that we had her phone number all these while but not trying out her services until The Other Half and I were recovering from our respective surgery. 

We had been silly, haven't we?