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)

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