Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pick-pocketed at christmastime

The worst time of the year to be pick-pocketed has to be in December, at christmastime (though of course any time is a bad time to be pick-pocketed). It happened to me yesterday, on a train from Mid-Valley KL to KL Sentral. In a journey that was so short, it happened I almost couldn't believe it!

It's a family holiday; hubby and I were taking the kids to see KLCC. We decided to take the train instead of drive because it was a Friday and the trafic was at its worst. I must have been careless, because I having been used to live in KL for a few years, I need not be told that pickpocketing is common in KL. I am familiar with all the precautions: never put all your cards in the same place, never take too much cash, never put your handbag by your side etc. And yet, I didn't do any of those things!

I put all my atm cards and credit cards in the same purse, brought above RM500 with me, and in an attempt to ensure that my girls were fine in that impossibly packed train, I forgot all about my handbag. The next thing I know as we got off the train was that my bag was opened when it shouldn't, and so much lighter. I knew then that it had happened.

Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent cancelling cards and making a police report, which took quite some time as apparently there were several people that were pickpocketed in the same train. Now I have to wait till after christmas to get the replacement...what a trial. You could never be too careful these days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Home alone

Can't believe it's already mid December. Again. I am home alone, trying desperately to finish up things that need to be done before my leave next week. The kids, thankfully are at my parents', no doubt enjoying their freedom from the parents' rules and regulations. The hubby is away again. I thought I'd be able to do my work faster without the kids to distract me, but hmm...not really. It feels a bit weird not having them around after a week. The house seems very quiet that even the cockroaches have started to come out of their hidings.

So I've been missing my family, and though I've been forcing myself to work really hard, the progress is not as fast as I'd like it to be :(. I ended up distracting myself with candle pics today. Christmas candles, for I suddenly look forward to christmas. A day of joy, a day of love, and lots of merry-making when it comes to my family.

I hope your christmas is going to be filled with happy memories this year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The little boy's thoughts again

I unashamedly love to see my little boy grows. In fact I enjoy every second of it. He'll be 8 comes 12.12.2011, and very soon will be transforming into a teenager (hopefully a cheerful one).

Yesterday he said that "adults overthink things, that's why they are forgetful". His message came loud and clear to me- pay attention to the things that matter. Like family.

Last week he did something unexpected. He handed me some 50 cents coins. "Belated birthday present", he said. My birthday was on 14.10. Apparently he wished to continue a tradition he started last year. He gave me twelve 50 cents coins that he had dilligently saved, wrapped in a piece of paper torn from his school exercise book. For some reason I found that so sweet. Now I have sixteen 50 cents coins from him, that I know I will keep as my lucky coins.

My little boy is certainly growing. Gone had the time when he gave me his robot for my birthday and asked me to return it at night because "your birthday is over". He now knows the concept 'belated birthday gifts', and that it's the thought, rather than the amount or number of gifts that count.

Well, my boy might have failed his Maths in his year 2 final exam recently, but at least he is a thinking little boy. At least for now he is my little boy...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Meaningful Life

It's Saturday again. Hmm...time flies. Another class awaits me at 6pm today. The class was supposed to be at 8am but some of the students (long distance adult learners) couldn't make it so I decided to be accommodative. It's one of my favourite subjects to teach anyway so I'm not complaining.

I have 5 subjects to teach this semester when I could have chosen to stick to 2 subjects. It was accidental though. One of the reasons was to help someone out, and the other was to help a student. The subject he has to take was phased out 2 years ago and at that time he had to suspend his studies because of a personal problem. Now he is back to school and had to take the subject and I was asked whether I was willing to teach it. Why did I say 'yes' I wonder? Was it an altruistic tendency in me I wonder? Oh well, I've said yes so I'll live with it for the next two and a half months.

I've promised myself that I won't be stressed out because of this. Instead I'd just think that my life is meaningful because I am able to give something to others. Indeed, you put meaning to your own life. And you will be happy to live life in your own way...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

so much for pampering myself :)

Sometimes hubby's job takes him places, leaving me to handle everything at the home front alone. Three kids, two puppies and a few fish. It gets quite taxing at times especially when hubby has to be away for a week or so.

Last week was one such week. And since I am teaching two new courses, I have to spend a lot of time writing new teaching and learning materials. By Thursday last week, my body could hardly take it anymore. "Time for a massage", I vowed to myself. Coincidently, a friend who owns a reflexology shop near my house texted to let me know that her shop has started operating till 11pm. "Just as well," I responded happily and texted her to say that I was going for a massage after 8pm on that day.

By 7pm I was home after buying groceries. I cooked some dinner for the kids, asked them to clean up after and told them to go to bed while I was out for my massage. In anticipation of a relaxing foot massage, I left home without my mobile (the battery was flat), and house keys (which I only realized much later).

I came back from my rejuvenating massage at 10pm, and realized at the front door that I did not have my keys with me! On top of that, the normally quiet neighbours were having visitors so it was too much for me to try to shout and wake up the kids. I wandered around for pins, or metal pieces that I could use to pick the lock. I got some but the lock picking attempt was to no avail. Apparently the locks were of good materials, thanks to hubby!

Thinking hard and exhausted, I sat quietly in the car. At midnight as the last of the neighbour's visitors drove away, I decided to try to borrow a phone from a 24 hour convenient store nearby. The boy at the counter was very helpful after I explained my situation. Unfortunately my calls went unanswered- who could blame the kids. They must have been tired too. The boy suggested for me to buy a set of padlock and try to use the keys to unlock my door. Which I did. But it was not meant to be...

At 1am, I called it quit. Grudgingly, I made myself comfortable in my car (thank god for the pillows and large towels I always have there) and fell asleep, surprisingly. At about 5am, Eldest Girl opened the door, looking very worried. As I emerged from the car, she was practically gaping. "Moooom, you slept in there last night?" she exclaimed with disbelief. The two other kids ran to hug me...and to my surprise, Youngest Son who was normally hard to get ready, was all ready in his school uniform. "What's the problem?" I asked stoically, and the kids looked at me as if I was the weirdest person on earth.

"So much for pampering myself" I muttered. I vowed that the next thing I'd do would be to get another set of the house keys made, and keep them somewhere helpful :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pain and strength

I met somebody who I've only been communicated through emails fro the first time yesterday. She came over to talk to my boss about the prospect of getting a job at my institution. She struck me as a calm, gentle but strong lady.

I accidentally made her miss her appointment, having kept her a few minutes longer than I should have in my office. But it turned out to be a good thing. At least for me. I got to talk to her and learnt that she's a widow who had been through an ordeal of watching her husband painfully died of cancer. He was bedridden for nine months, a long, agonizing process to him and his loved ones.

I could only imagine the pain she must have gone through. She and her six young children then. And I learned another lesson in life- that pain can keep the family together, and make them strong.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A beginning and an end


It was supposed to be a happy occasion. Like any weddings should be. But destiny has a way that is often hard to understand, to mess up with plans.

There was a wedding last Saturday. The bride and groom said "I do" beautifully, witnessed by family and friends who wished them well. A reception was to follow a few hours after the wedding, at the bride's parents' house not far from the little church in which they were wedded. Right in front of the house is the main road that connects two towns.

The groom's sending off troop had just parked their cars at the compound of the house when a tragedy happened. A boy of about 8 years old ran across the road from the bride's house, just as a car came by and hit him hard. He didn't even had a chance. He's gone, just like that. The joy and laughter at the wedding turned to heart-wrenching sobs.

The wedding reception had to go on, and people tried to pretend that there was nothing wrong. But the atmosphere wasn't quite right. There was a sadness lingering on the air. It must have been a great trial for the bride and groom. A trial in that form, just as they were beginning their life as one. But as they say, trials are a given for any married couple. Some got theirs right after they said "I do".

It was a beginning for them, and an end to a little boy. I can only say a little prayer that God gives the couple and the boy's family strength to accept their fates. No one knows what life has in store for them.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 19, 2011

self-confessed scrabble addict


So, okay, I'm a scrabble addict. Every chance I got, I'd play scrabble on FB. But hey, I don't play at work...or rather, can't play. The office has kindly blocked all access to any game applications (including language games that my students would have enjoyed in the classroom) so I've been able to discipline myself. Otherwise the temptation would have been great, and I would have ended up playing during office hours. How scary is that? :) It is scary...then I could have blamed all the unfinished work on the game.

Anyway, much that I love the game, and I normally play for a while every morning after preparing the kids' lunch boxes and breakfast (before going to work) and after coming back from work, I try to keep it a secret that I actually play. Reasons being: 1) it's not good for the kids to know that their mom cheats (no computer games allowed on weekdays for them) and 2) I am a professional...a professional shouldn't be playing scrabble, should s/he?

But, oh no, suddenly Arielle, my second girl asked a few minutes ago "Mom, are you playing scrabble?". Not suspecting anything I said "yes, why? Do you want to invite me to play?" (It's weekend anyway, so everyone is allowed to play). Arielle said, "No, it says on my screen that you are playing scrabble". Darn! And I thought I'd carefully hidden all the notifications that let my FB friends know what I'm doing. Hmm, one can never be too here I am, confessing that I am a scrabble addict. There, done. At least I can claim to play only this game...that's the truth (because I dare not play and get addicted to more games). Hey, I get my job descriptions done despite being an addict! I shouldn't be ashamed, should I? (Ok, I am feeling embarrassed!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Multifaceted beings

My brother, obviously fed up with the world, said "everyone is a hypocrite", and I think he means that people, more often then not, do not really say what they think, especially when what they think is not popular, and agree to others even when they know they can't do that. One can be a wonderful friend, a tough boss, a gentle parent, an outspoken subordinate, an agreeable colleague; one can be anything depending on the situation. Does that make one a hypocrite? It depends.

I look at people as multifaceted beings though. We all have in us the qualities of being gentle, tough, nasty, compromising, honest, angry, patient...and those qualities take turn appearing in us. That's why I think I sometimes get puzzled by people. I often wonder why was it that yesterday this person said something, and today they say something else? Could the person be a liar? Tough question. Maybe it's just the other facet showing its side. And the person could be just plain ignorant that they are doing that.

Our multifacetedness confuses others, as we are confused by theirs. After all, human beings are complicated. I guess that's why it helps when people communicate effectively. To be tactful when expressing anger, for instance. Maybe despite the multifacetedness, there is one facet of every person that is more prominent. The one that people will know is constant, that makes up the person's basic personality even when their other facets show.

No matter what, as a friend once said, "if they are 10 qualities of a person, and only one seems good, concentrate on that one quality so you don't end up judging the person". I agree.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's Harry Potter season again

The kids have been counting the days, waiting for the last episode of the Harry Potter movies to be released in Malaysia. And the mom is as bad as the kids. I am so looking forward to see the last episode-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2. I wonder if it is as good as the book? The last book, to me is a bit loopsided. The first part is almost disappointingly slow you can't help wondering whether it would be devoid of actions to the end. Just as you are about to give up hope, the actions just roll in and never stop till the end.

I was delightfully surprised with how wonderful they have turned the first part of the last book into a movie. With clever dialogues, and a little bit of twisting of the plot (that's my impression), they have succeeded in making it such a good movie.

My addiction with the Harry Potter series is accidental. Firstly, one couldn't help but wonder what it was all when the whole world was talking about it way back in 1998 after the first book was published. Secondly, my daughter started reading the book when she was in year 2, and as a parent I felt that I had to read whatever she's reading, just in case...and guess what? I got as hooked as the little girl that we had to buy all the books. Then watched all the movies...and bought all the dvds...

It has been fun watching the actors grew up. The cute little Harry, Ron, Hermione and their Hogwarts' friends turning into handsome and beautiful people. I bet it's going to be a teary goodbye for me when I watch the final episode. Typical mushy me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Being a mom

I've not had the energy to write in the past few days. As the kids grow, they have more and more demands.

Eldest girl, for one, had to compete in a girl guide speech competition last week. She asked me to discuss the points with her, which I gladly did. But...she wouln't have me suggest sentences for her ("I won't remember it if I don't write it on my own"- ok, proud of that, girl- "besides, you use big words that I don't even understand"- oh, well, I tend to forget that you are only 13 dear). After she had prepared the speech, she asked her younger sister to time her practice, which was supposed to be 5 minutes. But when I asked her to practice in front of me, hmm, she said "I have already practiced in front of aunty (who happened to be her girl guides' teacher at school)", and stubbornly refused to do it. I told myself, "that's ok big girl. You will learn what a hard thing giving speech is", and simply reminded her that a good speech takes a good deal of knowing what one is saying, and a good deal of practice.

To make long story short, she went for that competition, apparently forgot her points on the stage for some long seconds (enough to cause her aunty some panic), admitted to the judges she forgot the particular points she was going to say, and told them "seeing that I forgot, I'd just move on to the next one...". She managed to convince the judges in the second part, the impromptu speech, that she was quite good to get second place. And so she got second place at school level, and since she has to compete at district level next week, I have to be disqualified from being one of the judges, which I had been so looking forward to do :). Life's irony...At least she admitted that "it felt good not to have made a fool of myself on the stage, which I almost did". Hopefully, she has enough sense to practice for the bigger competition. But I know better not to remind her. When one is 13, aren't mom's words so not important?

Anyway, eldest daughter went to girl guides patrol leaders'camp this morning. I reminded her to prepare everything much earlier since a few days ago. As usual, despite her "ok, ok", she didn't really take me seriously. Ended up waking up late, making the brother and sister late to arrive at school, and forgetting stuffs that I had to send to the campsite later. Oh dear...I pray that the camp will change her a bit...please God, make her become more responsible (like I was when I was her least that's what I think :)).

At least, despite the chaos and stress I had to go through this week, I had fun listening to JJ and Ian's (, 100.8 fm) tongue twisters this morning:

"The freshly fried flying fish"

which is kind of normal.

"unique new york"

which is still ok.


"red lorry yellow lorry"

definitely sounded so funny spoken by somebody with an Indian accent (no offence to the person saying it on the radio this morning).

Life is still good...with all the little things that make it wonderful, like tongue twisters :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

of pink bra and school demerit

It's first school report pick-up-time for eldest daughter today. Since she's the first in high school for me, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Turned out to be a normal session of class teacher explaining her strengths and weaknesses, lavishing her with praises for the good things she does...but, giving me a shock by saying that she has a demerit of 10 marks because of wearing a pink bra! Class Teacher quickly said "not to worry, it's only 10 marks" before dismissing us, and of course, before I digested the info, although alarm bells have started ringing in my head then. As I am a bit slow in responding to shocking things, I didn't get to respond appropriately to Class Teacher on the spot.

Later, when we were at the car and about to leave the parking spot, I asked Daughter "what was that pink bra all about again?". So she explained that one day in May, there was a disciplinary check-up at her class, during which, the prefect on duty checked to see her bra colour and decided that, since it was pink, she had to get a demerit of 10 marks. "So how did you feel about it?", I asked as casually as I could. "It feels weird, as if I'm being violated", she responded. "That's the thing, didn't you see that that's one form of unfairness? Why didn't you tell anyone then?", I couldn't hold it anymore. "I did feel that it's unfair! But I didn't want to get into more trouble!", she defended herself hotly. "Well you should have told me. I would have complained to your teacher", I told her.

Daughter and I discussed the matter, and I explained to her that checking somebody's bra is indeed a violation of privacy. Firstly, it is basic human right to wear whatever colour underwears they want. Secondly, that particular color might be the only one in which they can find their size. Thirdly, it could be the only one available to wear at that time. I reminded her to fight for her rights, although being an aspiring prefect herself at her age, I know she would rather dismiss the thing as unimportant rather than jeopardize her chance of being selected as a permanent prefect. (That is how successful the system is in brainwashing the young ones to compromise their basic rights in exchange of power. It is so disturbing.)

We checked the school's discipline booklet, and to my horror there's a clause that states "Hanya baju dalam (bra) yang mirip warna kulit (skin ccolour) dibenarkan" (Only skin-coloured bras are allowed). What the heck?!!! Why do people make such a big fuss about bra colours? It's not as if she is going to strip and show it off to others! Phew, I still feel angry so I'm going to have to postpone writing the letter of complain I was going to write to the principal...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The ugly side of me poking its head

Youngest son wanted a toy badly. Again. As usual, he was boring his sisters and me with his infamous "I NEED a toy...". As I was in no mood to argue with him, I made him sacrifice one of the things he had wanted for a long time in exchange of this particular toy. After some bargaining, he got his wish. Excitedly, he picked up a toy that he had been eyeing since we entered the department store about half an hour earlier. Since it was Saturday, the queue to the checkout counter was impossibly long. So I made the mistake of not asking the guys to check whether the toy was working well.

Which was not. Son discovered it in the car, halfway home, when he put the batteries in. As expected, he threw tantrums, and I promised to take the toy back to be replaced the next day. Anything, as long as I got my peace and quiet back! "What if they don't want to accept it back?", he demanded. "We'll worry about that tomorrow", I said. But in my heart, a whisper of doubt started. In some places in KK, they just don't allow this kind of thing.

On Sunday, I took the toy back to the store. Another long queue at the checkout counter. The doubt about whether or not they would swap the toy with a good one poked its ugly head again. And despite my normal self (I think I'm normally much nicer :)), I was beginning to visualize possible ugly scenarios right there at the counter. The guy would say to me "it's your fault for not having it checked when you paid for it yesterday". I'd say to him "oh really? What kind of store is this with this kind of policy? Don't you know that customer should always be right?" Not good enough. Another response. "If you say so. I'll just take a picture of this toy, post it on the internet so people know you sell lousy stuffs". And on and on nasty responses played in my head.

Finally, it was my turn. I explained the problem, and a young guy took the toy without a word from me. And the dialogues in my head grew more intense. After a few minutes, he returned and told me that "yes, the toy is faulty and we'd replace it with a new one". I looked at him with disbelief. It took me a moment to realize that I'd been playing long nasty dialogues in my head for nothing! It dawned on me that I'd been really nasty for no reason. Ashamed of myself, I quietly let him do the swap, showed me how the toy worked, and bagged it for me. I thanked him meekly after, saying that "it's my fault for not having it checked yesterday". Served me well for having been such a jerk!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Livvy's Story

For the first time after 2 weeks yesterday, I decided to drive again. Well, more because of force of circumstance, really. Hubby had two back to back meetings at the office, so I told him I'd pick up the kids from school. After all, the wound's healing well and I felt ok.

I started Livvy (my grand livina) at 9.30am, thinking that I'd pick up my brother from his college first since he wasn't feeling well. Alas, Livvy refused to start. I called up my brother the mechanic, but I couldn't reach him. I called up another brother who lives nearby, and also couldn't reach him. Suspecting that the culprit must be the battery, I texted Hubby, who confirmed what I thought. Thinking hard where to find a mechanic in the area (without having to go to yellow pages), I suddenly remembered a cousin who mentioned that he had used the lousy service of a little workshop in my housing area. Oh well, lousy or not, beggars can be choosers. I asked him for the workshop's numbers.

Yes it was kind of lousy from even the phone call stage. My call was answered by a guy with a 'shouting' voice. (I wish I wasn't desperate so I could just hang up on him!). I gave him my nicest tone, asking if he could ask somebody to come and check on Livvy. I gave him the direction to my place and told him that I'd be waiting in front of my gate. I don't know what he told his 'Ah Chai' because 15 minutes later (and the distance of his workshop to my house is about 1 minute drive), I was still waiting. When I was about to call him, he called me first, and without preamble shouted that I gave him the wrong direction. Patiently, I repeated my direction, and strangely enough he asked if there was a yellow 4WD parked near my house, which shows that the 'Ah Chai' did actually arrive earlier.

Anyway, Ah Chai came, jump-started Livvy and confirmed that it was the battery. He asked me to drive to the workshop to have the battery replaced. Since I only had RM200 on me, I had to ask him how much was the cost. To my relief, he said RM190. Without an ATM nearby, it would have been embarrassing not to have enough money to pay for the battery. Especially to a guy who likes to shout.

When I arrived at the workshop, the boss with the shouty-voice tried his best to be nice to me. He gently coaxed me into buying a dry-battery for Livvy, which cost RM240. I told him honestly that I only had RM200 with me, and sweetly he said "it's ok, you can come back to pay the balance this afternoon. It's only RM40," and added that "this battery is very suitable for women WHO DO NOT CHECK their cars. Then you won't have to worry about battery water and all that". Oh dear, how right he was about me not checking my car. (Well, Hubby does that for me anyway :(). I ended up taking the dry battery, making him RM50 richer, and actually owed RM40 for a few hours! Weird of me...but at least Livvy spurted to life as soon as she had the new battery installed. And maybe in the long run, I'd be better off with that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kuih Lapis and Chocolate Cupcakes Day

Maybe my state of temporary immobility is a blessing in disguise after all. Less time spent on supermarket aisles means less snacks at home. Hubby buys only 'the necessary basic groceries', so it's not surprising that the kids have started to whine after failing to find last-schoolday-of-the-week treats today. "Mom, please make me some kuih lapis", begged the eldest. "No Mom, I want cupcakes", said the youngest. In the end, I had to make both, and the one who didn't ask for anything (the middle child) got busy with me.

I baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, with the last of my ingredients. (I really need to go shopping soon). For some reason, I couldn't make my cupcakes look perfect. Talk about being a permanent novice. But at least they taste yummy (ehem, otherwise they wouldn't get demolished that fast, unless of course, the kids have picked up the garbage-bin syndrome from somewhere).

At least I think I've perfected my kuih lapis (steamed layered cake) recipe. Since Hubby has a fondness for this particular kuih, I've always enjoyed making it whenever I have the time. This time, I only used a bit of red colouring to create the pink colour, instead of using red and green like I used to do. Since I couldn't get my hands on fresh pandan leaves, I modified the taste with some vanilla essence. It would have been much better with pandan leaves though.

The ingredients:
(boiled together and cooled)
2-4 pandanus leaves
2 cups water
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut milk (sometimes I used a box of KARA instant coconut milk)

1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix coconut milk with water. Add little by little to the flour mixture so as to avoid lumps. Divide into two or three portions. Use red and or green coloring for the two portions and leave the other one white. Place a greased 8 inch round steaming pan on a steaming rack. Heat up for 5 mins. Pour about 1 cup of one of the portions and steamed covered till set (2-4 minutes). Repeat, alternating the different color portions. Steam the last layer for about 8 mins. Make sure to wipe the water off the lid from time to time so that the kuih remains intact. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

This recipe is, at least, perfect for my family :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This too shall pass

I don't remember when was the first time I encountered this proverb. Maybe when I was young and was struggling to acquire English as a second or third language. Somehow it stuck. And many a time, it gives me consolation. The time when I felt sad because I didn't do very well in my exam, or the time when I had a difficult stage in friendship and relationship, or when somebody upset me so much to the point of crying. I'd recite the words like a mantra, and true enough, the bad time would pass.

I hang on to the words again, as I endure a stage of discomfort in my present life. 13 days post-operation. Comfortable enough to read, do some computer work and prepare light meal, but still unable to walk as fast as I would rather walk. And still dreaming of doing Latin dance (my form of exercise) every Friday with colleagues of same hobby. It will be months before I can do that again.

This too shall pass...I am saying this with a big smile on my face. (and will fake the smile till it becomes real!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Neighbourly Neighbour

I didn't know whether to laugh or to feel insulted when my casual helper told me about her encounter with one of my neighbours this morning. I decided to laugh in the end. It's quite neighbourly in a funny sort of way. Helper told me the neighbour asked her why she was going back early yesterday (the usual discourse opener) at her usual going home time which is 4.00pm. Of course, being the chatterbox that she is, Helper told Neighbour that it was not that early, and plus "Mrs ada di rumah" (my employer is at home).

Neighbour, naturally took that as a cue to satisfy her curiousity of why the two cars in my house have been in the garage/parked in the driveway for the past few days. "Mrs ada operation itu hari" (my employer had an operation the other day), said Helper to Neighbour. Surprised, Neighbour asked what operation was that. Confidently, Helper told her that "Mrs ada ketumbuhan dekat tembuni" (my employer had a growth near the placenta)...I looked at her, and said, "kau salah cakap sudah itu, bukan tembuni, ovari. Tembuni ada bila ada baby dalam perut saja" (what you said was wrong, it's not placenta, it's the ovary. Placenta exists only when one is pregnant). She looked puzzled, but too excited to finish her story, didn't really pay attention to my correction. I decided to let her be. Who knows what interesting tale will go around in the neighborhood in the next few days? The neighbourly neighbour told Helper she would visit me later...I hope very much later when I feel up to entertaining visitors:)

Anyway, I told Hubby about the story, and we laughed over how by the next few days, words would have already spread that the mrs of hse no 7 had had an operation due to...and possibly they would say an unusual pregnancy, or all sort of things that are related to the word 'tembuni'. Hubby jokingly said they must be thinking that we have lost our jobs after seeing the cars being idle for 10 days, which was exactly my thought. Anyway, "it's a neighbour thing to want to know what's going on with the next doors, and what easier way to pry than talking to the helpers? You'd be wondering too were you in their shoes", he said. Well, maybe. After all, that's what a neighbourly neihgbour does, huh? I'm still working on being one though. Having been a not very sociable person in the past few years (perhaps I was younger and less wiser ;)), it must be high time for me to change.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Slipping Through My Fingers

*Sigh*. Having 'too much' time on your hands could be disastrous. Especially when you know that those are only borrowed time. That is exactly what is going on with me now. I am on the 4 weeks of medical leave that I, at first, welcomed. The welcome wears out after barely a week. Each time I curl up on the settee with a good book, comes the nagging feeling that I am neglecting my work. And yet I can't bring myself to start working from home. Instead, I spend time reading through favourite blogs.

Stumbled upon Gunaqz's today. Her title, 'slipping through my fingers' brings back old memories of sending up the kids to school for the first time and feeling like a seasoned mom. It also evokes a feeling of how everything seems to be slipping through my fingers of late. Especially my good health. Post tumor-removal operation, I had a bad gastric that I thought was due to the medicine. But a check-up at the doctor revealed that the culprit was a gall-bladder stone. I realized on that day that I'd forever be having this problem, and only by watching my diet I'd feel normal again. Hmm...I've been trying to watch my diet in the past two years, quite unsuccessfully perhaps, but I tried my best. But when I was told that it's either watch my diet or have the constant pain, I felt like screaming "unfair"! Why don't I have a choice? Now that I am calmer, I know that I just have to accept and bear this with a big smile on my face. My good health might be slipping through my fingers, but it shouldn't stop me from enjoying life in ways I can, shouldn't it?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

To all fathers, "Happy Father's Day". Seemingly under-appreciated as compared to mothers, fathers are an equally important part of the family structure. And so in appreciation of fathers (especially the father of my children), I took the time to find these beautiful verses:

Fathers can be solitary mountains,
All their love rock-like, steep, and strong.
Though warm and caring, somehow they belong
Halfway home to mothers' bubbling fountains.
Each of us needs love that knows no quarter,
Reminding us of bonds that cross a border,
Strengthening our sense of right and wrong.

(here this site.)

What Makes a Dad

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it ... Dad

~~Author Unknown.~~ (here)

Only a Dad

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.
Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.
Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.
Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Author Unknown

Sunday, June 12, 2011


12 June 2011- I'm back home, after a seemingly long ordeal, which actually lasted only a few hours. I had my ovarian tumor removed at Sabah Medical Centre on 10 June 2011, 12pm. The decision to have it removed wasn't easy for me to make. I worried about the after effects on my life. It was a shock for me. Imagine only knowing in April that I have that thing inside me. Well, I shouldn't have been surprised. In 1995 when I was 22, I had my damaged right ovary removed of multiple cysts, and had been fairly warned of the possibility of recurrent on the other ovary. I've been warned of other things too, like the possibility of not being able to conceive. 16 years later, I am thankful that I have three beautiful children with a wonderful man I love with all my heart.

Anyway, after going through the first operation in 1995, and the c-section of my last child in 2003, I've told myself I've had enough of needles, knife and blood-things I'm most scared of. But apparently one doesn't get to choose what kind of trials one wants to go through in life. And I was handed this one again. I was scared and I felt so helpless when I found out in April that the tumor was growing. It was even scarier that it did not even cause me tremendous pain. It's as if it was not there, but actually it was. So after three consultations with three doctors, I decided that the only way to have my peace of mind again was by having it removed.

I had been warned of two possibilities: 1) that the tumor was benign and I could save part of the ovary, 2) that it was possibly malignant and I'd have to have the whole thing removed. Of course I'd been worried sick. Who wouldn't? It was especially worrying to think that having no ovary would make me menopausal...and at 38. Through the internet, I read about other people's experiences with the same thing...and sad to say the more I read, the more scared I got. Most people seemed to have bad things to report.

Then I started talking to family and friends, and slowly regained my courage. I asked them to pray for me, regardless of their faith, because I believe that the Maker listens to every sincere prayer. And I started feeling much better.

On 10.06.2011, as the nice nurses wheeled me off to the operating theater, I had a moment of panic, but I managed to stay calm. Before the doctor performed the procedure, he did a final scan, and told me honestly that the tumor 'looked bad'. I begged him to take care of me and to cut off only the necessary bit. He reassured me that he would do his best to take care of me, but asked me to give him the 1% possibility of having to remove the whole thing if he had to. With a heavy heart, I said 'yes' to him, praying in my heart that it wouldn't come to that.

After 3pm, as I regained consciousness, the first question that came to mind was "did I get to keep my ovary?". I waited impatiently for the doctor to come. When he did, and told me yes I still have part of my ovary, I was overjoyed. It didn't matter when he told me that the operation was more complicated than what he initially thought, because of the delicate position of the tumor. It didn't matter that I had to be on the table for over an hour. All that matter was that I still have part of my ovary! Thank you Dr.K, you're my hero.

And all I want to offer today is thankfulness. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, and who has wished me well. It has helped me to survive this ordeal. I'm on my way to full recovery.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

If ages were exam grades

The little son is now 7 going 8. Naturally his perception of things expands. And ever so full of surprising observation.

"Mom, you are a D", he said out of the blue one day. "Huh?", I looked at him with obvious puzzle. "Yes, you are a D. A D is in between 35 to 39. Sandra, Arielle and me are all an F". When all of them laughed, I realized that he was talking of age in terms of exam grades. "Oh, so what would Daddy be then", I asked him playfully. "He is the only one of the family that got a pass grade. He's a C", he said confidently. The sisters scowled at him, obviously disagreeing. "No, Daddy is still only a D+", one of the sisters said. And they went on and on arguing about Daddy's age grade...

If only life is measured in terms of exam grades...But in some ways it makes sense. When you are an A, you would have lived a long life, have experienced all the things that one your age should have experienced, and is full of wisdom. Many might not get to be that age. In that sense, being a D is not too bad. Perhaps not very wise yet, but harvesting wisdom along the way. If I get to be a B next time, I would definitely celebrate...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My new gadget

My i-pad 2. I've been coveting this one for months. Not particularly technology-savvy, I don't normally care much for new gadgets. But this one, I really felt that I have to have it. In my imagination, this thing will be useful to me in many ways. For one thing, there are times when I have to attend a formal function involving vvips, and that means having to wait a long time for their arrival. What could be more useful than an i-pad in such circumstances? Besides, the size is perfect for me who just can't bear straining my eyes looking at tiny screens. Because of its perfect size, it fits in my handbag beautifully. I can take it anywhere, anytime. Most of all, I can access all the e-books I want to read, and read comfortably. Yay! I don't have to buy so many books anymore (we'll see if this one works as well as I imagine it to be)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I don't know what to expect this time. The pain is not bad now, and not even there all the time. But the tumor is big enough to have to be removed. Not new to the procedure, I know what will go on in the operation theater. I know I'll have to go under, and at this point that is the scariest thing in my mind. The throat and shoulder blades pain due to the gases post-op, also do not make for pleasant memory.

16 years ago, when I had to go through the same operation, I was in a lot of pain. So going under the knife was like a salvation. Even having an ovary removed then did not seem to be so much a of a big deal because my priority was to be out of the maddening pain. Plus I was way younger. A 20 something body could get back to in shape in no time.

I am not 20-something anymore. Will I get back in shape as fast as I would like to? Will my hormones be affected that I'll be left struggling with mood swings and depression? Even knowing that positive thinking is powerful can't seem to get rid of my fear. Most of all, I am scared of the unknown. What will they find inside me apart from the tumor revealed on the scan? Let them find nothing else please. I do hope that they won't have to remove the whole ovary this time.

I'm faced with the biggest task ever. To overcome this fear. Oh yes I pray. But I am still scared. I hope by writing this I won't feel so scared anymore.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cupcake Therapy

Last Christmas I didn't get to bake at all. I thought I had forgotten how to. But the baking idleness didn't last long. With a 10 yr old girl who's so into cake decorating in the family, how can a mom not feel guilty if she doesn't encourage the 'talent'?

So I bought us an oven. A medium sized one with basic function but functional nonetheless. And starting last Easter, we started cupcake baking again. I've almost forgotten how therapeutic it can be. Playing with fondant as if it is a clay dough, my girl patiently created her 'masterpieces'. We look for reasons to bake: Easter gathering with the family, fullmoon of the latest addition to the family members, somebody's birthday. We might never reach the professional level, but we are becoming better as time goes by...and definitely happy offering our signature cupcakes to family and friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back on track with the diet

It took gaining all those lost kilos to actually get me back on track with my diet. The whole of 2010, I practically 'forgot' to count kalories. Subconsciously I remembered, but the mind was always so clever to deny the necessity of doing it. Not surprisingly, I gained most of the eight kgs that I lost in 2009. What can I say? Malaysian food are just too tempting. You step in a shop areas and wafting aromas of food embrace you straight away.

Four months into 2011- I forced myself to go back to the healthy diet that I used to adhere to strictly in 2009. After all, I've been telling myself to do it since the dawn of 2011. It was such a big challenge. A battle that I constantly lost. Then two of my brothers started losing weight-really lose weight. One of them lost 12kgs in a month. His secret? No rice. Strictly no rice. favourite staple. And so after celebrating the end of semester in style with my colleagues, I vowed to be off-rice. That was two weeks ago. Well, I cheated 3 times. Took a little bit of rice for lunch. Just a few tablespoonfuls.

The results? Still have a long way to go but losing 2 kg in 2 weeks gives me a nice feeling. I feel more motivated now. Hoping that this determination lasts...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Life is still beautiful

Sometimes it feels that the only choice you have is "no choice". Like when your doctor tells you that you are suffering from a health problem that can only be fixed with some surgical procedures. Scary but what choice do you have? I guess one can choose to still be happy about life, because when you look around you, there are countless beautiful things to remind you that not only bad things happen, but also good. To everyone. We all have our share of joy and sorrow in different ways. And from them we learn and grow. It is unpleasant to be in a "no choice" situation, of any type, but "this too shall pass". Smile, tough it out, and remember life is still beautiful no matter what.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Take time to smell the flowers

Life is busy indeed. It's hard to believe that it's already March. It feels like yesterday when I welcomed 2011. Looking at the list of tasks in front of me, I think I could easily go insane if I don't take time to relax and unwind.

So days like yesterday are good for me. Simply being with the family, taking a lazy stroll in the wildlife park, enjoying nature. Even if I can't really appreciate animals, I definitely can appreciate plants. I stopped to scrutinize every plant by the roadside, to take pictures of those that appeal to me. The little yellow flower that bravely survived amid the withering ones. The dying white flower with long stem (and I don't even know its name). The native leaves that I know my people use to wrap rice in. Everything is fascinating.

Two hours of leisurely stroll did me good. My faith in life is restored. As simple as that. And I remind myself again "take time to smell the flowers".

Friday, March 4, 2011

amazing lesson

I was having my regular foot massage with my favourite masseur, Effa, at her shop a few blocks away from my place. (This lady gives the best massage, gentle but firm, attacking areas of your foot that are problematic. Glad I discovered her a few months ago. I can now say "bye bye" to other masseurs who seem to be practising their skills on one's feet rather than know what they do).

Anyway, while having the massage, I had a headache that had lasted for the whole day. My own cultural diagnosis of it was it was a "cold-headache" or "wind-headache" to be more literal. The night before, after coming back from a friend's bbq on the evening, I washed my hair and fell asleep with my hair wet while putting my little boy to bed. This kind of headache is dull and makes your head feel heavy.

While Effa was giving me the massage, her air-cond guy came over. She told me the guy could press points on the head and make the headache go away. She asked me whether I'd like his help to do that. Hesitating, I looked at the guy. "Seems genuine and sincere", was my impression. I asked him whether he would mind, and he asked me whether I could stand the pain. I said "yes" and he set to work. He put his fingers through my hair on the crown of my head, gave a quick press on certain points, gathered my hair on his fingers and tugged! Something cracked, there was an uncomfortable sensation for a few seconds, then...nothing. And then it happened...I shook my head, and the pain seemed to be less. Seconds later, I sweated profusely, and the headache was totally gone.

Amazed, I asked him how did he do it. He simply replied that he learned from his master 'sifu', a Buddhist guru. I asked him if there's any other thing he could teach me. So here's what he taught me.

When you have a fever, take 7 grains of rice, two slices of ginger (unspecified size), and a pinch of salt. Mix them with a glass of warm water, steep for a while, and drink the water. The fever will soon go away.

When I asked him "why 7?", he gave me a look that said "why do you have to ask so many questions?", so I kept silent. At home, I prepared his 'medicine', had it, and guess what? It worked!

Friday, February 18, 2011

beautiful song

In the quiet post-rain morning, the lyrics suddenly popped up in my mind. Took me quite a while to remember what song it it...a beautiful song. One that soothes the heart, perfect for unwinding...

Monday, February 7, 2011

I choose to be...

I really like this expression. You can add any adjective at the end of it and often in my mind, I add the word HAPPY. Well, it's not always true. Sometimes I am not as happy as I want to be but I try to trick my mind in believing that I am. Often, it works.

You make a choice between something positive and negative, and if you can make the positive choice win, you win too. It's not always easy because sometimes there are things that bother you so much it is almost impossible to stay positive. But trying makes a difference. Always.

Like this morning. I ran over a stray dog that came running right in front while I was doing 80km/hr. Braking wasn't an option because there were cars behind that would surely knock into me should I had stopped. The dog didn't die. But my dear car suffered quite a serious damage. I was shaken and the accident was about to affect my mood adversely. Thank goodness I remembered what I have always believed in. That little accidents happen so as to avoid big accidents. Why, in the past two days I have came across four bad accidents anyway-not something very surprising in Malaysia during the festival seasons. And so I convinced myself that it could have been worse, and that by suffering this minor accident, I have avoided the worst.

I don't feel so good about it, but at least I have managed to avoid brooding it. I'm choosing to be thankful for being alive and well. We might not have choices over things that happen, but we have choices over how to react on them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

the fundamental photography course

I must have been out of my mind. Sitting in a
crowded room among people who were really passionate about photography, clutching my D5000, handed down by hubby just that morning with a promise that it was going to be mine if I found myself being interested in photography after all. My friend at work, a photographer, offered to enroll me for the course, and since the package sounded too good to turn down (RM30 for a whole day course/shooting practice), I thought "why not?".

The session was begun with participant's introduction- with the crucial questions how long have I had this camera? and what's my camera model? I felt like I must have been the only one who had only touched my camera that very morning, with nil experience, and even worse, was still unable to remember my camera model. But after the 40 min ice-breaking session, my confidence grew a little bit. I wasn't the only one without experience! and I had two very nice neighbours who were eager to lend a hand, helping me to figure out how to turn on the camera and locate buttons. (Vanessa)

Four hours of theory and we were deemed ready to shoot some pictures. There were four models aka talents to shoot, but with a hundred participants all vying to get the best positions to shoot, it was quite a hard work. It didn't help that most of the participants were much younger and agile! But at the end of the day, I managed to get a few shots (Two of them are the above pics of Abby and Vanessa, two of the models). I was far from happy with the quality of my work but of course, to be a pro one needs years of practice!

All in all, I found myself intrigued...and keen to pursue this new hobby. Now I understand why hubby bought a D90 with all the fancy lenses. Before, I thought it would have been good if he saved the money for the kids' college...but ironically, I am now on his side. Maybe this will do me good after all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January Misery

Much that I love welcoming every new year, I always dread one thing. Year after year, January has always been the time when everyone at home comes down with the flu. The cycle normally starts with one of the kids getting it first, which results in the kid having to rest at home for at least two days. Soon, the other kids get it, and there'll be more home-rest, which means the parents have to take turn taking a few days off work. And finally the parents get it, after about two weeks of enduring the kids' misery, sleeping in snatches for a few nights.

It's not the physical pain and fatigue that are unbearable. It's the pain at heart to see the young ones suffer. To see them struggling with the high temperature, and to hear them cough incessantly, straining their little chests every time they do. It's a torture.

I've come to believe that when January is over, everyone will be well again. It always does, year after year. A few more days till January is over now. I can't wait.

Blogging Life...TataJane Copyright © 2010