December 21, 2007

Ds Gets It

I've always made a point to explain to dd and ds the meaning of Allah and muslim so they won't be confused of their muslim identity. Unlike me when I was a kid, I had little clue what a muslim entails except learning arabic letters and tajwid at M'sian Hall on Sundays. Everytime I went to the brownies weekly meeting with my sister, the head teacher would ask each brownies attendee, one by one, if we went to church with the group last Sunday and if we hadn't, then why not? I had to answer that we're muslim as this was what my mum told me to say. It was quite frightening for me to defend myself (and sis) and answer like this at the time and I wonder why the teacher didn't get what I was saying and why she had to ask the same question the following week.
Whereas Dd has quite a good understanding of her religion and could explain some islamic terms etc, I wasn't expecting my playful dear son(ds) to understand much. However, last week he was watching a cartoon on TV by himself called "Joseph and the multicolor coat" and there was one scene when one prisoner asked Joseph what did he believed in, and Joseph said "I believe in the one true God."Ds quietly said "One True God!" and a lightbulb hit him and he exclaimed to me "Mama, Joseph believed in Allah. Joseph is a muslim!" OMG! Ds gets it!

December 18, 2007

Swimming & Pools

I've started to send dd and ds to their swimming classes this week. Hopefully I could continue with the weekly program next year. It is quite hard to get a place in the swimming class for ds. Places are quite limited or they go quickly especially during summer. Last year I wanted to enrol him into a learn-to-swim class but there wasn't any places available on a Saturday at the previous sports centre. Dd got a place though but she had already acquired basic swimming skills beforehand in KL with her cousin prior to coming to Oz ( It was paid for by my dad as a birthday gift to them both). Ds didn't get to go to the one in KL either as he was 3 and half yo and the centre only allowed children if they are over 5 yo. Surprisingly in Oz (well, not a surprise really, Oz being quite a sporty and outdoorish nation), there is not much of a age limit anywhere and you can go to the class as early with your say > 3 months old baby.
I am quite impressed to see ds' swimming skills. He seems to be quite advanced than I originally thought. He can swim like a fish underwater only coming up to gasp some air every 2 or 3 seconds. However, I would like him to learn the correct stroke techniques just to be on the safe side. We have a pool in our backyard and before we secured a padlock on the child lock gate, ds was always finding ways to open it. (He could open the gate very easily if he stood on a chair) . I take water safety quite seriously and I should of brought the life buoy to Oz which my dad had originally given me when I was living in a condominium with pools in the complex.
Actually, my mum is more safety conscious than I, or shall I say water phobic? Once, she came over to my lil flat with my sister and nephews and we all went down for a dip in the pool. She was so water phobic that she insisted that all my nephews wear life jackets. So I let them wear my kids' life jacket just to please her. So there we were at the kids' wading pool which was only 2 feet deep, 4 kids under the watchful eyes of my mum (the matriarch), my sister and I , and 3 Indonesian maids!
I can't really blame my mum for being water phobic. We used to live in a house with a pool when we were little, and I think she remembered my dad too often diving in the pool to fish out my siblings (mainly my younger sister) out from the pool to save us from drowning. After which I guess it proved too much for my parents that we subsequently moved to a house without a pool (though this subsequent house did have a pond with tadpoles in it).

December 11, 2007

Summer kids' activities

The kid's school term will end this week and I have some things up my sleeve to keep them occupied. Next week I'm sending them to a swimming bootcamp. Then we'll go to the library next door. The library has a superb summer reading program for kids and dd already has half the stamps in her passport to qualify for a reward. I think it might take longer for her brother to collect the stamps. I hope he doesn't get too bored this hol. He might want to go swimming or to the playground everyday or even to the icecream parlour/toy shop. Boy, it is going to be a looong hot summer. Any suggestions?

December 07, 2007

Alfresco dining with a twist..

I 've nothing to blog about this week except dd and ds award ceremony (dd received high achiever award again and certificate for cultural excellence, and ds, a certificate of excellence in (school) citizenship). Only something out of the ordinary happen today. I've abandoned looking for fresh wholesome fish to bake in the oven in favour of alfresco dining at the local mall. I would normally sit outside the cafe but today was scorching hot so I opted to eat in the air-conditioned interior. I ordered fish of the day and some garlic chilli prawns for toddler and I , and while waiting for our order to arrive, started looking outside the cafe (as in people watching) . There was a woman who was walking quite normally in the sun when suddenly she looked dizzily up to the sky and half of her face trembled like she was having a stroke. She then collapsed backwards to the ground. I immediately stood up , about to go to aid the woman but realizing I had toddler to take care of, I only did the second best thing, and alerted diners of the situation. I also went to the counter to ask them to call the ambulance. The waitresses were chatting away not realizing what had happened but one waiter /manager immediately called the mall's security personnel after being informed. Some other lady diners outside had already rushed to help the woman and put some towels from a restaurant for her to lie her head on. The cafe manager then immediately carried a big cafe umbrella to shade the woman from the blazing sun. The mall security and first aid personnel also came over to handle the situation. I later quizzed one of the diners to find out her progress and he said she was going to be fine and it wasn't life threatening. She was probably dizzy, dehydrated and had a fit from walking in the scorching heat. I was quite relieved that she didn't suffer a stroke as I initially thought. At the end of the ordeal , an ambulance came and the woman was seen sitting up for a bit before being whisked away to the hospital.

December 02, 2007

Dd's small garden

Dd had asked me to buy some seeds for her to plant and she is now planting some tomatoes, sunflowers etc in little plastic containers. I've yet to figure where she could transfer them when the plants grows bigger but probably her dad would have some idea as he is in charge of the backyard/garden. Some people are natural green fingers like my FIL who has all kinds of fruit and herbs in his garden patches. My mum also likes to garden for its therapeutic qualities. Hers consist mainly of bougainvilleas and other flowers which I don't know their names, and in recent years, orchids. (I gave her orchids in a pot once or twice for her birthday instead of a bouquet of roses and she was hooked).
I'm afraid that I'm not a green finger at all. Once a Spanish friend gave me a flower in a pot during my varsity days and I left it on the window sill of the kitchen and it got eaten by tiny green bugs! She, on the hand, was great with plants. I gave her a fern plant in return and when I visited her at her home , it had flourished amazingly!
Dd's seeds have now grown into little buds. It is amazing to watch them grow. If her projects goes well, I'll ask her to plant some herbs for me in a flower pot so I could use them when I'm cooking.

December 01, 2007

Cooking away...

[You can see I'm in cooking mode by looking at how many entries I have bout cooking. ]
Mum called earlier this week and she proclaimed happily that my sister had given a glowing report on me, a good cook, doing housework nonstop and looking after the kids. She said I cooked a delicious roast chicken for her. I guess that did the trick. I wonder if my mum will be pleased if I made some cakes, muffins and brownies during sis's stay.
I tried some recipes from Delia's How to Cook Book two and three earlier this week. I tried fast-roast chicken with tarragon and lemons recipe. It was good but didn't turn out as I expected mainly coz dh had decided that day that he will get a fresh chicken weighing 3kg instead of the usual 1kg plus size and I don't think chickens > 2kg are suitable for fast roasting. I also tried her stir fried chicken in lime and coconut but this recipe is a bit too simple for an Asian dish and left much to be desired. Lastly, I tried the old fashion beef stew which required baking in oven for 4 and half hours. It was a bit salty, probably added too much salt but my sons actually love it and probably might do it again minus the salt.
Now my mind is set on cooking fish and hoping I could find some fresh fish at the supermarket. (They actually had a few flounders which I bought during my sister's stay. My sis cooked it immediately that day. She had earlier asked us whether we eat fish/I cook fish here in Oz). For cooking fish , I love Rick Stein's seafood odyssey DVD and book. Apparently , the programme was made earlier this millenium but travel and discovery channel didn't show it in KL. I'd like to bake a whole fish perhaps instead of fish fillet but have no clue where the fish market is here.

November 26, 2007

In the name of science

Dd had obtained a recipe sheet for igneous rock lollies from her science teacher so she could do it at home with me. I had to buy one of the ingredients so when I was ready one fine morning, I mixed them in a pot to dissolve them and boil. Dd disappeared to her room to watch her fave TV program so I was left to carry on the science experiment on my own. When the mixture was ready , I had to add a bit of baking powder to half of the mix, then pour onto the baking tray. Dd had finished watching Pokemon by now and had come back to the kitchen to resume the science experiment with me. The lolly mixtures supposedly had similarities with real life volcanic lava and pumice... (Gosh, I wished my science classes at my old secondary school were as interesting as dd's).
This morning I thought I'll try some crispy waffles instead. I had bought an electric beater and waffle maker so am experimenting with some recipes all in the name of science (home science that is).. Plus this is the only way to get dd to eat some decent food too.

November 24, 2007

Roast Chicken

I didn't get to bake any cakes when my sis was staying over. She was in shopping mode and I had to drive her almost everyday to the mall so she could get something on her shopping list. On the weekends , we drove her to the tourist attractions and theme parks, what have you.
I only managed to cook a special roast chicken on the night of her departure. She was commenting on the day that she had gone to SIL mother's house for our niece's b'day party and SIL had made a tasty roast chicken by smothering lee kum kee oyster sauce all over the bird. I had to frown and say "Hey, that's not roast chicken , that's asian chicken". I asked sis if she made roast chicken before and she said she always marinated chicken with all kind of sauces for her bbqs but nope, technically no roast chicken in the very sense of the word. (Incidentally she almost finished my previously unopened and unused lee kum kee oyster sauce during her stay). By golly, we had borrowed cooking books by Delia Smith from the local library, the author of whom, sis claims she had learnt the correct cooking techniques from (ie via Delia's cooking shows when sis was just newly wed and living in London in the late 90's) .
So I volunteered to show her how to cook the real mccoy/original roast chicken to her. It just needs some olive oil , garlic and some herbs and wallah! Roast chicken. (No sauces necessary!). Sis made some crunchy roast potatoes and I added some spinach on the side.
To my pleasant surprise (lol), sis said the roast chicken was the highlight of her stay, apparently beating her photo session with the dashing Robin at Movie World. (Batman gave her a piercing cold look as batmans do). She probably forgotten that we had had lunch with a friend who had cooked an insanely tantalising and heavenly sumptuous Afghan spread for us with pilao rice (divine!) , Afghani bread stuffed with spinach (double divine!), kebab burgers and lamb stew(triple!), a week prior. And what about the talk by Michael Palin, hmm.. I had a lil cold then, otherwise I would have leaped up and queued for his autograph during Q&A sessions like some people did, after which, there was no point in queuing later as it was so dang looong. (*sob*).

November 06, 2007

I'm off

I'm going to be laying off blogging the next couple of weeks as my sis is coming to stay and I probably won't have the time (or privacy) to blog.
Mental note: HAVE TO MAKE EFFORT TO TIDY HOUSE. Even mop as usual contractor (aka dh) is far too busy at the moment to mop despite frequent reminder. (He says I'm no good at mopping). But yes, I had just mopped the kitchen with a steam mop.
Mum is probably gonna ask my sister casually at some point if I have maintained the house well and kept it tidy. (Mum actually prefers housekeeping to cooking. I'm the opposite).
Oh yes, absolutely no baking of muffins/cakes or anything that has any sugar content either. (Mum absolutely abhors anything with a sugar content even the innocent honey). Well, maybe I'll bake once or twice to show sis what a pro I am at baking now!

November 03, 2007

Kitchen Gadgets

Dh was outstation for most of this week so I was cooking western to appease my kids appetite. I cooked black pepper steaks and lamb chop with mint sauce . It didn't really turn out as I had hoped. The recipe said fry the steak a few minutes on each side for rare , add a few more minutes for medium and more for well done. It didn't happen like that. I was cooking on my really old tefal pan and I was wondering was it time to buy new pans? My mint sauce didn't happen either as my made in china knife was soo blunt . So I went to the mall to get the knife that you can rock from left to right , right to left to slice up fresh herbs (what's it call? I saw Nigella use it once). I found one in a shop that specialise in kitchenware. It was originally $19.95 but reduced to $11.95. I used the herb slicer yesterday to slice fresh dill and oregano for scallops with dill butter sauce and spaghetti marinara. My kids loved the seafood , I would have to do this more often.
I was also looking out for some new pans. I scouted Myers dept store for Tefal pans but could not find any. Even though they had 30% off kitchen utensils, the branded pans were insanely priced from $119-$199 per item. I didn't know the price of cookware could be so dear!
I was scouting again one day and suddenly by chance I found a Breville cast iron cookware that had red price tags on them. One griddle pan had be reduced from $139 to $83. The color was being discontinued. It was my fave color ie light blue so I thought I would get it. They gave an additional 30% so I only paid $58 which was a bargain I thought for cast iron cookware. So now how and what do I use the pan for?

October 29, 2007

Zany dd

Me: Who wants noodles for dinner?
Dd: I do.
Older son: I do.
Dd to her brother: We love noodles so much we want to marry it.

October 20, 2007

10 things about toddler

My baby son has turned two so I can't call him my baby anymore. *sob*
Here are some interesting facts about him.
  1. He weighed slightly more than 4.5kg , just an ounce less than 10 lbs at birth.
  2. He still needs to breast feed , well at least before he goes for naps.
  3. He likes to eat cooked prawns or whatever food is in his siblings' hands.
  4. In the morning, whenever everyone is getting ready for work /school , he volunteers to take off his PJs and showers with his siblings.
  5. Whenever he sees his dad clutching car keys, he hurries to find his shoes to wear and follow dad (coz mama is so boring doing housework all day). Twice, he had his shoes on and was ready to go, only thing is he was stark naked.
  6. He likes cats and almost bashed a black cat blue in kl.
  7. He likes to play feline with his brother. Older brother being the cat and he stroking his pretend cat's head.
  8. He likes toy cars.
  9. He really likes toy cars.
  10. He really, really likes toy cars.

October 16, 2007

Eid Mishaps

I thought I'll blog about some mishaps on Eid for a change.
  1. The queue at the women's section for the rice and curry after Eid prayers... what can I say... we queued unsystematically left , right and centre. The plates was placed on the left. We queued on the right. queue on the right.. no plates... people not queuing grabbing plates and cutting the queue. And one poor lil girl got poured with curry on her head! At that point, I left the queue and relied on dh's ability to get us a plate at the men's queue. Incidentally, there was an eid celebration at my kid's school today and I was amazed that the kids can queue in a straight line to get the sweets, cakes and stuff (as compared to us adults).
  2. Went to the chemist to get some stuff. A thin young African security guard looked like he was sort of following me. It was probably my fault as I have this bad habit of spending too much time reading the ingredients on the label of the skincare products to see if it is compatible with my sensitive skin, so they probably thought I am a suspect to shoplift. (Actually, I gather, it is okay to touch and read stuff in Oz or KL, but people expect you to grab and go pay in UK). I told dh about the security guard later and he said that the guy might have thought I'm from some African tribe . It was Eid and I had just a tad too many shiny beads on my pashmina and clothes...
  3. Asked dh to take some eid photos of me near the swimming pool before I changed into my mundane clothes. Dear 5yo son had just changed into a new spiderman shirt and pants that I bought him for eid when he was walking and... while he was looking at me in my black jilbab with toddler son doing our photo shoot, he tripped and he fell in the pool in his best clothes.......

October 15, 2007

Eid Gathering

I cooked for a lil Eid gathering on Sunday. Dh's M'sian friends and their family wanted to come over for the obligatory ziarah/visiting. So lazy me had to cook some food for them. It was all a last minute affair. Dh had to go out in the morning as I've decided to make barbecue seafood as we could not get any meat from the muslim butchers as they weren't open on Eid weekend. Dh took the whole morning getting the stuff so when he came back , we had only a couple of hours to stick the seafood on the skewers . Initially , I wanted to marinade the prawns but dh bought cooked prawns instead of uncooked , as per my instruction. So I made a last ditch attempt dill sauce (which didn't have any dill in it) and a sweet chilli sauce to go with the bbq . I also made some prawn salad and salad nicoise to accompany it. Plus there was some beef rendang which I made a day earlier (it took 4 hours to make) and ketupat nasi and lemang courtesy of Nona/flora food co.
The guests came at the alloted time and were ready to eat while we were still figuring out where to put the electric bbq thingy. They soon ate to their hearts content and were really bowled over with the bbq seafood and beef rendang. One lady guest actually came over to me when I was busy in the kitchen to extract the dill sauce recipe from me. She took me by surprise and I only repeated the general ingredients of the sauce that I could retrieve from my memory. There was about 90% butter in the sauce so I think it is more appropriate to call it butter sauce and I used coriander leaves instead of dill.
My friends ie the postgrad and her single housemates also came by later and they also liked the spread (or what was left of it). They also wanted the recipe for the dill /butter sauce which I gave willingly from a cookbook, and the beef rendang recipe. I can't really remember recipe for the latter as it sort of evaporated like the coconut milk (which is one of the main ingredient required), just as soon as I finished cooking it. Each year I have to phone my mum to jog my memory a bit of the specialised Eid cuisine and some of the ingredients are not easily obtainable like fresh galangal and tumeric leaves so I have to improvise the recipe according to what is available.
All in all, the gathering was sort of a success . Dh was very pleased that his friends went back home contented. I'm sorry I can't cook for his friends more often though. I'm naturally born lazy lol.

October 10, 2007

The Art of Baking

These past weeks , I've been attempting to bake cakes. I have this recipe book I bought from Angus and Robertson bookstore called "Cooking, A Commonsense Guide" which is quite good for newbies at baking like me. Baking cakes isn't really my family's tradition. I never can recall my mum baking a cake for us! So naturally, I never felt the urge for baking. We were very much a savoury sort of family anyhow, so the main course was more important for us. Fresh fruits like slices of mangoes and oranges would do fine for dessert. To my mum's credit though, she is a great cook when she cooks for us and dh thinks she is the best cook in the world.
Mum used to make the most outstanding traditional Malay kuih (sweet cakes/desserts/snacks) like kuih talam, seri muka, apam, lompang, currypuff (the pusing/circle type), rosles & kuih cara etc when we were little in London. I 've never tasted anyone's who could make kuih as good as hers from any traders, except from La Cucur where you have to pay a premium price. Unfortunately , mum didn't make much kuih when we came back to KL. I don't think she likes cooking desserts much. She later told us that she had to make the kuih in London for the M'sian VVIP /head of state's and their entourage who came to visit London (probably more so for the LIP( lesser important people) in the entourage).
I digress. Coming back to my baking attempts, I felt compelled to bake something for dd. She sometimes bake cookies etc at her school and she would often inquire or ask me if I could bake her something. I started out baking muffins for her as they were the easiest to make whereas most cookies and cakes I assume would require electric mixers. Yes, I don't own a electric mixer as yet!
Last week , I thought it was high time I tried to bake a chocolate cake. There was a recipe for a chocolate mud cake in the book and it didn't require an electric beater. I had all the ingredients in the pantry so I mixed them up accordingly and pop the cake mix in the oven. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out well. It was on the dry side coz the oven temperature was too high. I had earlier baked a tea cake and 12 mini pizzas at 220 degrees, hence, the oven did not cool down to the required 160 degrees. (So I guess I better made sure I do not bake any pizzas in the oven beforehand next time hmm).
My second attempt yesterday was okay and actually looked and taste fine despite that I put extra chocolate in the mix as half the bar had melt in the midday heat so I could not estimate properly, lol. I am feeling confident that perhaps I could maybe bake a cake for my MIL family when we are back in KL. ( Just perhaps)
My in law's family are totally the opposite of mine. Whereas mum would order tasty kuih raya (eid cookies) from a relative or someone else, MIL and her four daughters used to put in a lot of effort baking for eid celebration and make heaps of cookies and fry heaps of kerepek, (traditional malay flour based crisps equivalent to junk food ) weeks prior. My SILs often attempt to bake different type of cakes which sometimes turn out great or not so great depending on the season, lol. Not only do they make cookies and all, they actually enjoy finishing them off as I noticed that there wasn't any left when I visited them 1 and 2 weeks after Eid, whereas at my mum's place would still have plenty of leftover cookies that could be carried forward to Eid ul Adha.
My friend's used to send me Eid cards and the usual question would be "Dah buat kuih raya?" ("Have you made any Eid cookies yet?) and then the question would later evolve into "Dah beli kuih raya?" ("Have you bought any Eid cookies yet?) or to that effect. Whatever it is, bought or baked, I hope you have a Happy Eid everyone!

September 28, 2007

Langkawi Trip

[I really don't have much time to do this since kid's holidays coincide with Ramadan. I'm afraid they spend quite a lot of time in front of PC (more than me) now while I still have to churn out more food and food for their tummies.]
So I think I'll do it point form. Check out links below for more info.

  • Day 1 :Arrived at Langkawi Airport. Before landing saw a mountain peak that looked like a man's face from the side view. Found out later it was Gunung Machinchang. Rented a car at airport and headed to Hotel.Check in hotel and dh and kids went straight to frolic on the beach. In the evening, ordered expensive room service food as everyone was too tired to go out. Holiday Villa
  • Day 2: Had a quick breakfast at the buffet . Left dh and ds to have an extended breakfast while dd and I and toddler got ready to jump in the pool. The hotel had a ladies only indoor pool but we opted for the outside pool so that I could swim backstrokes while looking at the clouds above which was awesome. Then we got ready to go out. Specifically , to visit Underwater World. The first part of the exhibit , a lush tropical jungle room was the only thing I liked there. The seals in their tanks looked bored and sad. One was spinning continuously in the water. I exited while dh brought 2 older kids to the 2D show. Toddler and I waited at the cafe at the exit for them but they took ages and toddler accidently fell asleep on the table after his meal. I didn't eat anything there. It was oily and unappetising. I was surprise it was managed by the same restaurant famous for great seafood and steaks.
  • Went back to Hotel to freshen up and had a quick lunch at a surprisingly tasty place called Restoran Haji Ramli. Barbecue fish and cockle salads were great. It would be added bonus if the staff could smile a little for their customer even though it was a hot and humid day.
  • Went on a cable car ride at Gunung Machinchang. The view was awesome. Dh discovered that the mountain was the 3rd mountain created 500 million years on earth after the tectonic plates shift. I'm afraid I can't elaborate more as I left my book detailing the thingy in KL. (Dh inquired about this from a vendor selling drinks at the top of the mountain). The mountain is now a UNESCO heritage site since June 2007. Perhaps they could have written it down on a poster and stuck it somewhere for visitors to read. Langkawi Geo Park
  • Went back to the Hotel after take away KFC for dinner . Dh commented that the KFC restaurant had the best harbour view in the world.
  • Dh and kids went swimming at the hotel.
  • Day 3: Went on a wild goose chase looking for batik sarong for MIL. Finally, found a place where they print exclusive batiks at 4 times the price of batik indon. Bought some in case can't find any cheap ones for MIL.
  • Went to Mahsuri 's grave/tomb site or commercially known as Kota Mahsuri. Dh wanted to teach some history lessons to our kids. Learning the sad story of Mahsuri from their dad , our kids were a bit scared to go as they were afraid that the villain in the story, an evil prince would still be there. Learnt from the old lady who is the maintenance worker/keeper of the toilets, that Mahsuri's grave was moved from it's original grave site to the current so that they could develop the site further into a little complex. (The pretty Mahsuri house wasn't really her original house too).
  • Went to Pekan Kuah for lunch and bought the elusive batik sarong for MIL.
  • Headed to Sungai Kilim for the highlight of the vacation. A boat trip on the river to see Gua Kelewar (Bat Cave), Gua Buaya (Crocodile Cavern) , Floating Seafood Restaurant and fishfarm and also, possibly see eagles feeding on the river.
  • Had dinner with our boatman cum tourist guide at the floating restaurant. Nice guy and the lad was quite well informed of his stuff. Hole in the wall Restaurant
  • I would advise people if they were to take a boat ride on the river to wear the life jackets even it is not compulsory. Our boat hit a jutting stone cliff as our boatman was sms-ing somebody at the crucial time. Dh had to tell him at the last seconds before it hit. He stopped the engine so the impact was lesser than it could have been. Otherwise , it would have made greater damage to the boat .
  • Dear son was afraid to go into the Bat Cave initially,however he braved it in the end. There were many bats inside and they were all sleeping fortunately.
  • In the Crocodile Cave, the boatman was really enthusiastic telling dh that one of the stones looked like a crocodile ,that everyone was leaning on the port side of the boat. I had to tell them that the boat was almost tipping before they realised it.
  • We watched Brahminy eagles/kites feeding on chicken skin floating in the water. All in all , it was an awesome spectacle. There were 40 or more of them . The boatman said if we went in the morning , there were more eagles around, possibly in 100s.
  • Day 4: Caught our flight back to KL. It was delayed for more than an hour as torrential rain fell. Dh managed to capture images of Ajaz Ahmed, one of the tallest men in the world as he arrived at Langkawi airport.
  • Arrived back in KL.

More info on Langkawi places of attraction , go to Langkawi Geo Park

September 20, 2007

Recondition

I just came back from KL and am reconditioning myself back to living as a nucleus family in Oz. I hardly did any cooking in KL. Someone else did it at my mum's or we can go out and get some cheap and delicious food. Now I have to cook for the family again.
Did you know dd actually ate rice and chicken at her granny's house. I ask her why she ate rice in KL and not in Oz. She said that she was spoonfed by the maid. Do I have to really spoon feed her here to make her eat rice? Hmmm.. maybe I 'll try to sometime.
We went for a wonderful trip to Langkawi and enjoyed it's natural beauty. I'm glad it still retained some of its natural allure . The beach was still looking pristine since I last remember visiting it which was while I was a kid accompanying my mum to visit one of her aunts. That was waayy before the tourism boom. Now I think there are more footprints showing on the sandy shores.
I''ll write more concisely about Langkawi in my next entry and what we did there, insha Allah.

August 22, 2007

Carrots & Zikr

I dare say I can look at a carrot the same again. I had sent a bundle of my kids' clothes that no longer fit them to a friend's house , ie the Afghan family with 6 girls. The mom was peeling and slicing carrots at that time. She invited me in. I said I had to run errands at the post office and also had to make it in time to attend my son's special hat event that afternoon. However, I went in just the same after she insisted a couple of time. Besides, drinking tea without sugar and munching almonds wasn't going do much harm.
After she brought out some tea, raisins, almonds and sweets for me on a tray, she continued to peel carrots and slice them up julienne style, sometimes chewing raw carrots in her own mouth, sometimes handing them out to her youngest, a one year baby and my toddler, while her second youngest , a 2 year old toddler was sound asleep under a blanket. She said she was going to cook the carrots with some rice for her family. I think she was preparing a bag of them , about 10 or more carrots for dinner that day. I've never seen anyone peel that much carrots for an entire hour with such zest. In fact I've never seen anyone peel carrots before except myself . But I will only chop up one carrot (or two) in under a minute to cook them for my toddler who seems to be the only member in my household who likes to eat them. While this family in front of me took to carrot like fish to water. I watched her concentrating on the carrots , shifting through the sliced up carrots in the colander to see if everything is sliced up and slicing any remainder left that hasn't been, while we conversed in rudimentary English about daily matters on the floor of her living room. Her patience undertaking this kitchen chore on the sprawling Persian carpet, amazes me. I could only liken it to seeing the serenity of one making zikr with his/her tasbih/prayer beads on a sejadah, completely oblivious of his/her surroundings.

Continued..

Dd had her numeracy test yesterday and she told us her mind was thinking about the story book in her desk that the teacher said she could read after she finished her test.... Hmmm.. Hope she did okay though.
Her school and another school won for best project and presentation. Dh told me their booths were really informative and very well presented. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they share the same science teachers who teach at both the schools. Anyway, I am pleased that they beat another school nearby with the much larger pupil population and great amenities ( including a swimming pool). Wicked huh!

August 15, 2007

Dd's Test Preparation

Dd will have a big test next week. I keep asking her to practice and do some mock tests at home which has fallen on deaf ear. She keeps reading books. Story books. My fault. I kept on buying her story books by Roald Dahl and Andy Griffith for the past weeks.
May I add that she also has a science presentation on the night of the test. The teacher says she will be fine. (I hope so).
Oh well she 's only 8. Who cares about test at that age!

August 11, 2007

In Search of Good Books

As I darted my eyes across the shelves laden with books , I came across "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho on one of them. I bought it along with some other books for dd. I haven't read a fiction for ages but gave it a go before bed, reading about 40+ pages. And the next morning , finished the 170+ pages in between making breakfast for the family. It was a breeze reading the book, quite effortless, fluid.. The words flowing easily as they were simple and manageable. The backdrop was also one of my fave places; The Sahara Desert.
I checked the library catalogue if any of Paulo Coelho books were available to borrow. Unfortunately not. So I went to the bookstores to find some more books to read. I chose "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and "The Kite Runner" both by Khaled Hosseini, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne and "Like a Flowing River" by Paulo Coelho which I read of his thoughts and reflection. I tried reading a few pages of The Kite Runner at the same time. It was descriptive and I found it initially difficult and not as fluid to read as Coelho's books. However, Afghanistan history/culture intrigues me. I had watched the DVD of "In Search of an Afghan Girl" the previous week about the refugee girl with the haunting sea green eyes on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. (I used to collect Nat Geo magazines monthly issues since I read an article of Ibnu Battuta in 1991. I still kept some of them}.
Once more , I gave "The Kite Runner" another try and finished it in one day. Then I gave "A Thousand Splendid Suns" a try and finished it in a day today. Compelling stories. How could people endure them?....

July 24, 2007

Dd's Birthday Bash

[It has been almost a month since we moved in our new residence. I have been busy the first few weeks unpacking and tidying stuff . Dh had packed all my kitchen stuff, cutlery and crockery into bubble wrappers and then into boxes (thanks dear if you happen to read this) but for the most part I had to do the unpacking myself since it is the co FYE and his mind set is at work mode this month. We still got boxes of books and kid's stuff to unpack and organise. I'm waiting for dh to sort that out and get some extra shelves for the rumpus room downstairs. ]
I managed to organise a lil birthday bash for dd and her friends at a bowling centre last week. At first I planned for dd to go to the movie with some of her pals. I asked her the names of her pals and she came up with names that sounded that they were boys. That wasn't going to do so I thought I'd plan a bowling theme party instead with some families with kids from her school.
It has been quite a while since I organised a party at an outside venue for her since her third birthday at McD in KL. It was a relatively last minute plan but Alhamdulilah for the most part, all went relatively smooth and dd and her friends seemed that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I'd say as smooth as a party with 15 active children can be! A party host was allocated for the kids but at some point or another, dh and I had to take care of a couple of boisterous toddlers while the mums nipped out to the shops. (I realised later they went out to get some last minute gift shopping).
The kids had to play bowling for the first hour and some of the younger kids were already feeling peckish and complained to me. I could understand their feeling as we went to a a kid's high voltage gymnastic theme birthday last year and we were wondering when it was all gonna end and when it was time to eat. I had to give them some potato crisps for them to satisfy their hungry pangs. Dh also bought extra chips and calamari to fuel them to play til finish. However, when it was time to eat the party food , I was wandering why some of the kids had not entered the room where it was held. It turned out that they were playing at the game arcade as dh had bought tokens and distributed it to them. Games certainly distracted the kids from their hunger pangs!When they all came in to eat , dh said it suddenly turned quiet as everyone was soo hungry and happily tucking into their meal. After the ice cream birthday cake came and disappeared into every one's mouth and they received the party bags dd made for them , the kids left the rooms again to finish their last token in the game arcade. They seemed very eager to accumulate tickets and win some small prizes there.

June 26, 2007

We're moving..

to another house this weekend insha Allah. Still haven't finished packing our stuff in the boxes/bags. Kids are at home for their school break so doubly busy. Probably won't be updating blog next week til dh change our acc details.

June 24, 2007

Ds can ride a bike?

I sent ds and dd to my friend's house for an hour of play last week. When I picked them up , ds said his friend (who is the same age as him) taught him to ride a bike. I didn't really think much of it as he doesn't have a bike at home and his older sister is possessive of her small bike with the training wheels. On Saturday, he was pestering his dad for a big bike without any training wheels and his dad caved in to the pressure and bought him a bike much bigger than dd's. They had to assemble it first which took a while and his dad had to go out and buy a specific tool. Then I didn't get to see him in action outside as I went upstairs. Well, today the dad and kids team were all geared up with their bikes to go to the park while I went to a local store hoping to buy some halal meat. However, it turned out that my fave store with the friendly family staff had closed down. :( So I went back to the park to see dh and the kids in action. I asked dh if ds could really ride a bike and he said yes. It was funny to see ds riding a bike which was a lil big for him. His legs were too short to push start it so we had to help push it before he could ride it. Dd on the other hand, was riding a bike which was meant for her when she was around her brother's age. I am amazed that they could do it at their age and especially ds to learn how to ride a bike from his 5yo friend who I think just got the hang of it recently (but whose siblings seem to be quite proficient bike riders as I sometime see them either walking or riding a bike to and fro school.)

June 23, 2007

Coldest Days

The days were very cold this week.. I think during mid week, the wind was so blustery .. I could hear the wind howling outside the window ..It reminded me of my years in England.. The news confirmed that it was indeed the coldest day in 18 years in Queensland. (Darwin also suffered miserably at 23 degrees, Poor Darwin).
I went out to buy some winter clothings for my kids especially my toddler who has outgrown his jacket which I bought for him a few months ago. He is growing up so fast. He is on the chubby side so I usually have to get 1 or 2 size larger than his age group.
Despite the cold mornings, dd refuses to wear her jacket and would only carry in her arms. I asked her dad to ask them to wear their sweaters. They usually obey their dad for some unbeknown reason. Yesterday, I wanted her to wear her school jacket before I drove them to school and I explained the word hypothermia to her and the implications. She relented but when I picked her up at school , the weather had turned slightly warmer again and she had stuffed it in her backpack.

June 16, 2007

All Geared Up

Dh is car shopping for me. Insha Allah, he is getting me a car so that I can send the kids to school if we move to a house a little further than where they are currently schooling. He is asking me what type of car I like??! Actually , I have no clue what car I like.. really.. As long as it's engine is fine, it can move from one place to another and the most crucial criteria .. it is easier to park than his ford falcon, I don't think I mind what type it is.... Car shopping . Dh is all geared up but this is one shopping trip I'd prefer not to go to really. (yawn).

June 11, 2007

Cooking for the fussy eater

My dear daughter is a fussy eater. She does not like to see any onion in her food. Nor does she like chilli ridden food. In short , she barely eats Asian inspired food whereas her dad likes hotter and chilli based food. Her brothers Ds looooves fried chicken wing or anything chicken related and toddler son loves prawns, carrots and cheese sticks. Sometimes I cook a myriad of dishes for dinner just to meet all their preferences. (Gone are the simple meals of yesteryears where everyone eats whatever mom cooks or else!) Sometimes I'm press for time and only cook rice, chicken and sambal dishes for dinner catered for dh and the boys. They are willing candidates to finish the food but dd barely touches her food. She will opt for bread, fruits and cereal instead.
I have to be really innovative to make her eat more. Thankfully, she eats a hearty breakfast every morning so I don't have to worry about her energy level during the day. Lately, I tried some new things . Things that she would like usually made from flour or bake or grill. I made bread and butter pudding two or three times. The pitiful first version was a cross between b&b pudding and the Malay bengkang. Surprisingly, her dad came back and tried it and actually thought I bought it from the shop. I made another one and followed a recipe somewhat. They gobbled it all up with ice cream/custard. I made cekodok ie fried banana batter/fritters. I made some mini muffins from scratch and dd and ds loved them. I also made a simple roast chicken last night (one of my specialty). Dd and the boys love roast chicken and ate it all up. Tonight I made burgers from scratch. I asked dh to get some mince meat and breadcrumbs so that I could make homemade burger patties. It turned out well and they ate it happily. Hey, I'm happy when they're happy, full and contented. Teehee.

June 08, 2007

Awfully Busy!

I 've been awfully busy these days organising kid's school stuff and househunting.
Ds 's classmate loved her visit to play with ds/dd that she begged her mum to allow her to come over for 3 consecutive schooldays. She told ds that she wanted to come over like everyday but it actually rained a couple days after that so dh picked up the kids from school. Dh has a bad flu/sore throat this week. Being a workaholic as he is, he still went to work daily but had to come back home when he lost his voice...

May 31, 2007

Sociable Ds

After school Ds is always looking out for some friends to recruit and bring home with him to play. So far , it hasn't been successful as although his friends wants to come along , their parents hasn't been informed properly and I really don't want them to be wondering where their kids are.
That is until today.. He managed to convinced one of his classmate friend to come home with us and she has permission from her mum.... I just hope the word doesn't go round thereafter as am hoping that his friends won't invade our lil townhouse and paint it red....

May 25, 2007

Cuties

I was going down the hill to pick up my older kids yesterday as a school girl who lives across the road from us came up to me on her way back home with her friends and said "I know you. You live across the street from me.You are ds and dd's mum". I said "Yes". "Ohhh, they are sooo cuuute" she added. I noticed that she has a liking to ds and dd and is always waving at dd or chatting to ds. My only concern is that she didn't notice the cutest members of the family ie the mum and the toddler. lol ... (Okay, I'm too old to be cute ).

May 21, 2007

A Jog in the Park

On Saturday, I told dh that if I wanted to jog on Sunday morning , could he make breakfast for our kids etc. He said I always say the if word and that I wanna jog but never follow through. So this Sunday was the day that I had to prove to dh I indeed mean business. I left him to look after our toddler and he cooked 2 versions of fried rice, 1 not spicy for kids and 1 spicy for us while watching his fave Mawi concert DVD. I was sure glad to get out of the house when he turned on the volume at full blast.
Kiddies decided to follow me for a jog too after their brekkie. Ds rode his scooter and dd jogged with me to the park down the road. This park was bigger than the usual park we frequent to and had heaps of things for kids to do including a skate park for ds to scooter around. It just happened that some of their schoolmates had made and decorated blocks of concrete with lovely fish patterns and these pillars were positioned at the park. They were very colourful and eye catching but too bad I didn't have my digicam with me to take pics. I think we stayed at the park for almost an hour before we headed back home following a different route. I also taught them about looking for landmarks to identify where we are and make it easier to make our way home.
When we came back home , my toddler son was asleep and I asked dh how it felt like to be a stay at home dad and if he would not mind to do it again next weekend so I could jog again. He said Boleehhh and continued relaxing and watching his golf cd...

May 14, 2007

4 Lasagna and a Wedding

I was so totally immersed in other things for the past weeks/weekends that I forgot to fill up dear son's homework file and PASS IT UP Last Friday. Dh being the playdad that he is didn't remember either. A week ago, I was helping a friend shop for her wedding gifts and we also ended up celebrating her birthday on 3 consecutive days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On Saturday I bought a cake and halal pizza for her so that she (and dear son and dd) could blow candles. On Sunday, her housemates made a lil party for her. And on Monday, I returned her lasagna bake for dd with a full fledged nasi lemak, sambal sotong and sambal udang (coconut flavoured rice and sambal).
Yesterday, she offered to cook lasagna again for dd. At first I had declined to pick up the lasagna as dh and kids had plans but we decided to go to her flat in the evening to give her a lil wedding presie, ie a 40 piece set of corelle tableware that she always talked about getting but hadn't. We ended up eating lasagna again as she had baked like 4 trays of lasagna last night for some friends. It was like a kenduri of sorts prelude to her departure back to M'sia this week for her upcoming wedding. Dd and I will sorely miss her lasagna.. I mean her .. but Dh I think will secretly be rejoicing so that he doesn't have to ferry us to and fro to my friend's house in the next coming weeks!

May 13, 2007

Southbank 2

I went to Southbank again for a pre mother's day lunch at my fave restaurant (coz everyday is mother's day). OMG, the handmade turkish ice cream are soo yummy.. very flavoursome and not too sweet as the mass produced ones. They had blackmulberry, pistachio, apricot flavour icecreams plus the usual fare of strawberry and chocolate.
After lunch , kiddies had a swim at the artificial beach. There was also a newly built pool section with an interesting mechanism pouring water on the ground .. I can't quite describe it ... Perhaps, I'll take a pic of it next time.
I also went to the market and bought a multipurpose face/hand/feet polish from www.houseofoils.com.au made of sugar from sugarcane sourced locally. I tried it at home and asked dh if my hands felt softer. He said yes that they were while eyes transfixed to the tv screen but noted that my hands has always been that way. Anyway, the lemon ironbark polish/exfoliant smelt divine and I tried it on my feet and they felt great too.

May 09, 2007

My personal remote control

I have a unique lil remote control that understands my commands. When I say "switch on, switch on", he switches on the TV in my room and when I say "switch off/tutup" , he switches off the TV for me. Okay, he has a mind of his own and switches the TV on and off whenever he likes too. lol.

May 04, 2007

Regurgitation

I sent an email recently to the registrar of a potential school for my kids in M'sia to find out whether it is suitable for them . I asked her about next year 's intake. She gave me the A to Z for this year's intake. All in all she answered my straightforward informal questions with a formal letter cum email type piece. In other words she didn't answer my questions. This led me to a dejavu situation of my past school days to when exams question ask you one thing and students lacking the means and understanding regurgitate whatever they read in the text books remotely related to the subject. Can this regurgitation process really be passed on into the life after school days? Eww .

April 30, 2007

The Perfect Family Vacation

I met blogger Tasmiya and her family on Sunday. She is such a sweetie and her sons are too cute! She was telling me about her vacation with her extended family of sixteen to Malaysia. I was like in awe that they could actually work out an itinerary that suited everyone's taste buds.
For my family , I mean for my dad , the perfect vacation would be going to the jungle, camping out and hunting deers whereas dh will be contented to bask in the sun at the beach all day. However, dh is rather an obliging person, the perfect son in law and my dad somehow convinced us to go to Taman Negara/The National Park a few years ago. So we went in 2 cars, my dad's 4wd rangerover and our beaten up proton. It was 4 hours drive from KL to Taman Negara. Phew.
The resort at the national park was almost fully booked and there was only 1 chalet available. My dad did not want this to spoil his vacation so we all stayed in one big spacious chalet, my mum, dad , me , dh , and 2 small kids under 4. Luckily, my dad brought a tent along so dh camped outside in the verandah so there was somehow enough beds for us inside. Poor dh! He said he could hear all kinds of sounds coming from the jungle at night but I think he rather likes camping as he camped out in our aussie backyard once or twice with our 2 older kids.
We had to wake up real early, ie before dawn the next day so that we could watch the deers from the lookout hut near the saltlake in the jungle nearby. My mum babysitted the kids who were asleep while dh, dad and I went out. My dad was sure to give us a pet talk us before hand on how to walk in the jungle as not to startle any wild animals/tigers if we met any. Easy for him to say. Thankfully, we didn't meet any wild animals but we did see some deers at the lookout with the aid of flashlights. Their eyes reflected the light and looked somewhat red. Since it was the national park , hunting was prohibited so those lucky deers were not afraid of hunters hunting them down. Even when the sound of the azan broke out via the loud speakers from a mosque nearby, they were unperturbed. This was one of the highlights of the vacation.
We also took a boat trip up the river. I brought a life jacket for dd to wear and dh held baby son on his lap. (They just provided life jackets for adults). We saw some Malaysian tourists having fun in the river floating on rubber tyres downstream. There were also many Western tourists out and about. There were restaurants afloat on the river and also orang asli settlements. My dad said he could smell a tiger in the jungle nearby when we passed a certain section of the river. I hope he was kidding. Thankfully, we did not see a glimpse of any! They are really quite elusive animals .
All in all, it was a great family holiday and something new to experience !

April 29, 2007

Local Park

Some pics of the local park with glimpse of the local library. There were plenty of birds in the trees judging from the birdcalls I heard but I could not get a glimpse of them as they were well hidden in the foliage except for one who got a share of my nachos.



Magpies Pics

Some pics of the birds. They are not as photogenic as the rainbow lorikeets but wow.. they have such a superb singing voice. Second only to the Pied Butcherbird. I wanted to photograph a whole flock of birds but my toddler frustrated my efforts so these are the remnants.




April 23, 2007

Homework Reinterpreted

I 've getting more offers lately from dd and ds to tidy up their room. They even want to wash the dishes and help me cook! This is largely due to the reinterpretation of their homework sheet the past week. I have to sign on their homework sheet every time they help with the housework. I wish they had redefined homework a year ago so that I don't have to tidy up after my kids all the time.
Physical activities such as jogging, walking , and swimming are also part of homework so that they are encouraged to spend less time in front of TV etc. Another reason for this is to reduce childhood obesity which is becoming more prevalent in society. The school always encourage parents to fill the kids lunchboxes with healthy food like fruit and yoghurt instead of sugary stuff like chocolate and sweets. My kids don't really have a problem with their weight (although my sons have good appetites ), as they do a lot of outside activities such as rollerblading and rockclimbing with their dad during the weekends. We're also encourage to read books together. All in all, homework is aimed at bonding the family and is not supposed to be stressful for either child or parent.

April 19, 2007

Magpies in Backyard

Dd keeps feeding magpies in the backyard despite her mum asking her not to. (Okay her mum feeds them too). So there are always magpies roaming around. When we came back this afternoon , there was a whole troop of >10 magpies in the backyard as I had left pieces of bread. I went to get my digicam upstairs and when I came down , my toddler had chased them all away. (And he was afraid of the birds in the beginning of his life). Man! it is hard to take pics of wildlife.

April 16, 2007

Intruder Alert!

Dd installed an alarm on her bedroom door. I feel like a burglar breaking an entry every time I go to her room to clean up. How come I can't install one on my master bedroom door. That's because it is a silly slide door with no knob.

April 12, 2007

The Fire Talk

We went to the local library today as they had publicised that there was going to be a talk conducted by a person/s from the fire brigade. Goodness, there was a relatively huge crowd that congregated, mainly babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents/carers. It was half hour past the time and still no firemen. The librarians did all sorts of things to keep the little ones amused like singing songs and storytelling. In the end , my kids and I left as we had to get some panadol syrup at the pharmacy for dd who was not feeling well( but who insisted on going to the talk). When we were on our way back, I asked one of the mums if the firemen did indeed come and she said they came (late obviously) , stayed for 5 mins and had to leave again and she said she could even smell smoke in the air?! I wonder what an excuse firemen have for running late. "Sorry we're late, we had to extinguish a fire before we could come over. For heaven sakes, saving lives and property is far more important than giving talks, dang it!"

April 10, 2007

A Break or not

We just came back from a break in Gold Coast (GC just coz hotels in Sunshine Coast were overbooked this easter). Loads of washing to do plus the switch to the ceramic stove and oven is not working or something. Fortunately , we have an electric hotplate that dh has taken out from our store so guess I have to do most of the cooking on that and the deep fryer. This is one of those days that I wish Oz was like M'sia and have the abundance of street food. I miss my fave street stalls that sell crunchy tasty goreng pisang (banana fritters) and laksa just for RM1.50 per pack (dh's fave). *sigh* The kids will be at home for a week. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.

April 03, 2007

Baby In Arms

I went to see Mr Bean's Holiday with my toddler today. I couldn't watch it last Saturday with my older kids as I was helping a friend shopping for some stuff for her big day. The cinema has special sessions for parents with babies. Dear son was well behaved and was happy just sitting and watching the movie with a bag of popcorn and water bottle. I wish they have special sessions like this in KL.
Babes in Arms

March 28, 2007

Barter Trade

Sometimes I invite my friends' children to my house after school to get some quick snacks on their way back to their home. Today, I gave away ice blocks to 4 siblings. I also wanted to pay $ for some fresh honey their mum sells. They said they wanna give it to me for free. Kids! So there you are, I barter traded 4 ice blocks for 1 container of sweet and delicious 100% pure honey which will be delivered tomorrow morning at my door step insha Allah. A bargain. lol.

March 22, 2007

Awesome Turkish Restaurant

Last night , dh and I had dinner at an awesome Turkish restaurant in Southbank with some of his officemates. The CFO wanted to treat the dept after finishing something I'm still vague about so she asked dh to recommend a halal restaurant to dine at. Realising dh would probably recommend an Indian restaurant cum takeaway (again) , I thought of a name of a Turkish restaurant that had previously advertised in a local muslim newsletter during Ramadan. They followed up with my recommendation much to my delight as I haven't eaten at a lovely turkish restaurant for ages. So the dinner was marvellous and we were really pleased with the food served. So appetising and yummy! The restaurant had a very rich red turkish interior with a cozy and well lit ambience enticing people to come and dine in . However, we were sitted outside which was equally nice as it was breezy and tranquil under the starry, starry night... Just beautiful!
Check out their website www.mado.com.au

March 15, 2007

Neglect

Sorry to neglect you, dear blog but I'm having techie problems right now and can't find anyone who would supply me a new AC adaptor for my modem. Where is after sales service when you need it?
*Update* Okay , so I managed to solve this techie challenge with the ac adaptor I bought from Tandy a few weeks ago after I could not get hold of the service provider on the phone (they are all automated now to save on high labour cost and they don't want to entertain cranky callers with minor probs) plus an electrical superstore asked us to deal with the supplier directly so what's the point . I just had to adjust the volt setting, as the 9 volt on the adaptor was not high enough for the modem to work.
I promise to update this blog soon and upload some great pics (insha Allah). How about that? (chuckle).

March 04, 2007

6 weird things

I've been tagged by Ms Blabs to write 6 weird things about myself.
1. I'm a travel junkie and at the moment I wanna travel the Sahara and meet the Tuareg and Berbers. If God gave me the choice of who I wanna be , I 'd say Michael Palin or Ibnu Battuta.
2. Dh thinks this is weird. I have sliced/ parts of cucumber in the fridge that I use to sooth my eyes and reduce puffiness.
3. I like to take a siesta during lunch hour. I thought this was weird til I visited South of Spain and realised they all have siesta in the afternoon from 2-5pm. The shops close during this time.
4. I like to buy hand creams even though I may not need them and the sales assistants keep telling me that my hands are soft even before I try them on.
5. I chatter more to taxi drivers/strangers than to my friends.
6. I'm telepathic and can read and send messages to my friends without the need to email, write letters , phone etc.
So 6 friends, you know who you are. You've been tagged. Lol.

February 20, 2007

Dinner with Directors

Last Friday night , we had dinner at Sanctuary Cove with a group of directors from Malaysia (Dato's and Tan Sris and accompanying Datins). As usual, dh would inform me at the last minute about important events so I did not really have time to find a suitable babysitter for our kids. Nonetheless, dh already figured out a plan with his M'sian colleague who was also invited to the dinner. We were to drop our 2 older kids at the colleague' s house after maghrib and he would call his babysitter service to babysit their twins and our kids. Then us parents (and one baby )would all go together in dh's car. Trust dh to make a foolproof plan. Their house was more than 20 mins away so I knew we were going to be terribly late from the start. (But better late than never hey?).
Anyway, we arrived at the seafood restaurant perhaps more than half hour than we're supposed to and the directors were almost done with their dinner. We introduced ourselves to the group and was later ushered to a empty table reserved for us. (I went earlier to the table coz baby was not happy when the co secretary wanted to be friendly to him). The colleague and his wife knew one of the datins as one of their friend's mum. So the datin came over to talk to them. A dato' also came over to our table and later on a CFO came over to chat with us whereas dh being the perfect host and equipped with his people skills, went over to the other tables to have a chat there while the colleague , his wife and I skimmed through the menu to place our order. I did not really want to order an appetizer as you know, we were fashionably late and it is really not good etiquette to let people (esp VIPs) to wait . However it did not deter the other two to order , say 3 starters and 2 mains amongst themselves while I just ordered a soup and 2 mains for dh and I. The directors looked like they enjoyed their meals and were ordering more stuff so we had some time to eat our dinner before we parted. There was nothing extraordinary about the seafood restaurant . It looked like any other fancy restaurant with white table cloths and cutlery laid meticulously on the tables while waiters in white shirts and black bowties attend to you. However, when I looked outside the glass walls, I could see the silhouettes of yachts anchored at the marina in the pitch darkness of the night. One of them directly outside the restaurant, OMG, was humongous and I thought it looked liked it was more than 70 foot long as it was bigger than 2 bungalows combined.
Initially, the M'sian co secretary had sought dh's help to find out where are the best hotels to stay in Gold Coast. Again, his opinion was sought to find halal Malaysian food and dh had recommended some restaurants we knew of .The next day , dh went to play golf with the directors( after they had their nasi lemak, roti canai and teh tarik for breakfast ) ,as he puts it, at the best golf course he ever played in. Even the golf balls can be tracked down by satellite, (dh mentioned the name of the tracking method but I forgot it). I can see a correlation here , even though the M'sian directors wanted one of the best hotels to stay in and the best golf course to play at, they still love their M'sian hawker style breakfast ie roti canai , nasi lemak and teh tarik in the morning. Soo typical of Malaysians la!

February 11, 2007

The Courteous Bus Driver

Sometimes I will take the bus to get from point A to point B. Public transport is quite efficient here and I can check the bus schedule on the net. Last week I took a bus. I sat in front of the bus as I was carrying baby and a stroller.
I like to observe people coming in or out of the bus or look out the window when I am on the bus. On that particular day, there was an old woman who wanted to get off the bus at one stop but she had difficulty bringing a large shopping bag on wheels down the steps. I wished I could help her but I could not leave my baby on the seat alone. Fortunately for her, the bus driver offered to help and the old lady managed to get off without a hitch after he turned off the bus engine and carried the black trolley bag down for her. She thanked him and remarked to him, "What will I do without you."
A few stops further, a student with deep blue eyes and an American businessman in a yellowish tan colored suit came on board. The student wanted a discounted fare. The bus driver explained to him that he would have to apply for the student card first and showed him the poster about how to apply behind his driver seat. The American wanted to go to the city somewhere and the bus driver said they were headed that way. I knew he was an American from his accent and he was phoning somebody on his mobile about his frequent flyer points what have you, and probably everyone on the bus could have heard his whole conversation of wanting to upgrade to a business class. Then a woman came on at another stop and asked the bus driver whether she is on the correct bus route and which bus should she take after that. The bus driver said she should take bus 333 after that but wasn't sure which side of the road she had to wait for it so he called someone on his phone to confirm before he gave her a definite answer. I was quite impressed with the bus driver's level of professionalism in helping his passengers (not to mention he did offer to help with my stroller down the bus). Bus drivers could be helpful and yet be quite punctual. Hence, being helpful to people isn't an excuse to be late. I don't know if the bus drivers in KL help people in this way at all as I am not a frequent commuter. The buses in KL seems quite crowded especially during peak hours and the safety and well being of passengers are not their utmost priority as the doors are sometimes left open and the bus driver will start driving even if you have not found a good seat to sit yet.

February 08, 2007

February 07, 2007

I was surrounded by..

the whitish hair of senior citizens. You'd think I was in a bingo hall or a place of worship. Nope. I was watching the latest flick, Miss Potter about the life of the writer Beatrice Potter at a cinemaplex. I had 2 free passes to see the movie and I had to go and see. This is one of the rare occasion that I could get to watch a movie of my choice and calibre. Dh sent us to the cineplex after which he had to send ( and babysit) our sons at one of older son friend's birthday party. It was a mid morning show and dd and I headed into the theatre at the same time as 2 senior citizens. I offered to help one lady with a walking stick up the steps. She said she was fine. Dd had shooted ahead and I could not help the old lady much. I just have to admire their sense of independence.
Anyway, about the movie, I could just totally relate to Beatrice Potter who had a mother that could not quite understand her inclination. My mum and I are totally different in personality. She, ultra feminine , ultra tidy, prim and proper sort of a person whilst I am pretty much laid back and pragmatic. She says none of her offsprings follows her traits , being tidy to a t etc. However, I believe my sister follows many of her traits than my mum gives her credit for. They could be twins. The only thing is, my mum would only tell things to me as I could keep a secret better than my sister who would impart any info she knows/hear on the next fella she meets. I like one phrase that the main character Beatrice Potter used in the movie about her relationship with her mother, that she and her mother has reached an understanding that they will not be able to understand each other. Sums it up quite nicely.

February 02, 2007

A Taxi Tale

The kids have started their new school term this week and it looks like they are settling well in their class. So I decided to go out for some shopping today instead of staying in. I took a taxi instead of going by bus as it was raining heavily in the morning. Usually, I would call my normal cab number and they would come right away but today I thought I'd try the alternative cab co. It took quite a long time for the taxi to arrive as my number was linked to another address on their database . Finally, when the taxi arrived, I huddled my baby and stroller in the car while the driver looked on. Normally, they would help me put my stuff in the boot.
When we were in the cab heading to the destination, the driver asked me what religion I was. I said I am muslim. I asked him whether he is muslim or sikh. He said he is Sikh. Then he asked me why muslim men can marry 4? This is one of the favourite questions I get asked by cab drivers when they know I am muslim. So I usually answer it by giving some logical explanation that came into my mind. Honestly, I think a man could rationalise and be able to answer this question himself better than a woman! Today I reasoned that there is only one very very short sentence in the Quran (which contains >6000 aayah/sentences) that mentions men could marry more than one. (So why the fuss?).
Anyway, this particular cab driver was asking me a lot of questions. Eg Where are you from? I answered Malaysia. Before you went to Malaysia, where were you from originally?? Malaysia. I thought I answered that already. Do you speak Urdu? No I don't speak Urdu. More qts. How old are you? How many kids? Are you married ? Are you happily married??? Gosh! He was bombarding me with some personal questions and I wasn't ready for the onslaught. My mind was on other things like when would we arrive at my destination! I am sure he was driving slower... and slower...
At last, when we were almost there, he said "Actually, you have a beautiful face, especially ...." When I heard that, I had to laugh and I said "Gosh , I haven't heard someone said that to me for a long time". And then he went on to say "If you were not married, I would offer you." ??? ?? Me think , OFFER ME WHAT??? But I rather not know the answer. To that, I just hurried myself and baby out of the cab after I paid the fare . He said that he hoped to see me again. No way, jose is all I can say. I am sticking to my old cab co next time.

January 26, 2007

The Scent of the Sea

I like to try the perfumes and room sprays whenever I am at the shops. One of my fav, Crabtree and Evelyn has room sprays call Waikiki and Salt Air which I have not tried before. I wonder if they really smell like the air near the sea though I feel no matter how many perfumes and sprays we make, nothing could beat the real thing.
We are planning to go to the beach less than an hour drive from here soon. The coastline in Oz is so beautiful with its golden sandy beaches stretching for miles and miles. And so are the beaches back home. They each have their own allure... To me, there is nothing more delightful than walking on the beach, looking at the waves breaking and collecting seashells ( and in my kids case , building sand castles and hitting the water ). Will the Salt Air spray smell like the true scent of the sea in the crisp morning air? Oh, I wish... so that I can have a part of the sea with me when I am at home in the city.
I can still remember the scent of the sea at Sydney Harbour when we were there last month. The wind was blowing strongly making it quite cool though it was a sunny afternoon. I went to the river side next to the Botanical Gardens to look at the view there while dh and the kids climbed up the stairs of the Opera House to take pics . I inhaled and smelled the rather pungent salty scent of the saltwater lingering in the air. It made me realise that the sea was not too far away from the harbour. The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge looked quite grand and stunning that day.... but grander still was the harbour with the white sailboats, yachts and ships sailing through its river mouth.

*Update* Dd collected some stones and shells from a beach on the Gold Coast and I said she could make a potpourri with it. She washed her shells and stones and put them on our back deck to dry them under the sun. I had to bring them inside when baby raided them. The bathroom where I laid them suddenly bursted with the scent of salt air from dd's homemade potpourri!

January 24, 2007

Back to School

This week I had to walk down to the school and get my children's school booklist as school commences next week. That was the plan. I got them dressed and stashed some money in my pouch in case we made a detour to the shops after that. When I got the list, I realised that I had to make a payment to the office for resource contribution and booktexts. Of course. How absent minded of me not to realise that I would need more money for school expenses? After all, there was always something we parents had to pay or contribute to for our children each week of the school term. I had to admit to them that I didn't bring enough ca$h and may I possibly pay it next week (as I did not think a second trip down in scorching heat my idea of fun). Better stay home and alternatively ask dh if he could squeeze some time to make the payment before he goes to work.
Well, we did make a detour to the shops and on the way , we saw 4 humongous spider on their webs which they spun between a power line and a tree. We also saw some pink/grey colored parrots on the school field and some green parrots flying. (I have to look up what their proper names are) . I went to the news agency with the list of stationery and asked the newsagent if she could do it for me. She said she could and I asked if she could get some of the stuff ready while we wait , then that would be great. So she sorted the things and got the stuff ready for us even though there were a few interruptions when other customers came in to buy some things. At last when she managed to put all the things together and summed it all up, the grand total was almost $100 and I realised that I only had enough money on me for 1 kid's list of things. She suggested I get just one kid's list of stuff and pick up the other one later. This is unthinkable. I can't get just one kid's stuff . The other kid who didn't get one will sulk until he/she gets his/hers. I had to get both or none. I chose the latter. Again, I promised that dh will turn up tomorrow morning to make the payment... While we were there some of dear son's classmates and their mums also turned up with their list of stationery (which they obtained last term) to give to the newsagent to sort out by next week. We were all in the same boat of last minute shoppers and in my case, one forgetful mum short of ca$h..

January 21, 2007

One morning at Southbank

Today, we decided to go to Southbank, a buzzing popular local attraction near the CBD. Dh's officemates had been recommending it to him but we never got to go as we were always interested in going somewhere else. Well, since there were some activities held in conjunction with The 5th Asian Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery, I thought it was a good idea to have a look at the area. We parked our car at the basement and had a brekkie, then decided to stroll along the river bank. We didn't have a glimpse of any gallery or museum when dear son saw there... an artificial manmade beach near the river, and our program to see the gallery went haywire. Play dad took out wetsuits for the kiddos and after a change of clothes , they were all set to hit the water. They stayed there for hours. Luckily, there was a craft market nearby and I had a stroll with baby. I bought him a big hat to protect my precious baby from the glaring sun and sent him back to have some fun at the the beach.
There were some interesting things at the market. One lady was selling some locally made olive oil and spices. I am a sucker for Mediterranean food and had to see what was on offer. She demonstrated how to eat the dukkah. Use a toothpick to pick up some bread ( cut into bitesize pieces) , soak it into some olive oil and then dunk it into the dukkah spice mix. Yummy. I bought some dukkah and olives straight away. I also had a look at a stall that was selling swimwear with UPF 50. Full body attire swimwear is the rage in Oz to avoid over exposure to the sun. Funsunwear. The lady was willing to measure me and make a tailor made and full body cover swimwear for me. I had to take a raincheck. I already had a burqini I bought from a ahiida.com dealer.

January 17, 2007

Play mum?

The kids are still on their summer vacation and so I am pretty tied up with cooking and cleaning up after them whilst kiddos watch more and more DVDs and also they seem to play endlessly. Dd sometimes want me to play with her and she would make a pitiful face and say "Mama, you NEVER play with me!". It is half true as I have lots of unfinished house chores to do and I don't really fancy playing after all that. But I obliged today and we played a little version of " monkey in the middle" in the corridor as it was scorching hot outside. Wow, it was fun and I felt energised but then after 15 mins it was back to mundane work and surfing the web after that. Lol. Dh sometimes argues that I should play more with kids (He relishes his role as play dad on weekends!) but I tell him I honestly don't see any mums I know playing with their kids that much. Mums are always cooking or housecleaning or doing chores inside/outside the house and some mums are not even around for their kids and they want me to be play mum? Can someone tell me how many play mums are out there playing ball/soccer with their kids?

January 09, 2007

Travelling whilst Muslim/Malaysian

A brother who has been an Aussie citizen for almost all his 20 plus years of his life told me he was detained for about 2 hours when he came back from his hols to Malaysia last year. The airport personnel asked him why did he choose to go to Malaysia? He told them that he likes Malaysia! He told me that he probably got detained coz he wears a kufi/kopiah on his head. So I guess they do some racial profiling on muslims especially supposed young single muslim men sometimes. The bro is married with 4 kids. This year if he gets detained by airport staff and if they ask him why Malaysia, he can say it is Visit Malaysia Year 2007!
I have some airport tales but not as dramatic as the brother's story. I lost one of my kid's metal spoon (why on earth did they confiscate that?) at heathrow airport once and a small penknife at the airport in Oz . I sometimes like to bring a swiss army victorinox penknife to cut open food wrappers for my children. My sister bought me a pretty flowery swiss army penknife from Switzerland when she went there in oct of last year and when I wanted to travel to Bangkok a few weeks ago, my dad being ever security conscious, asked me to surrender all sharp objects to him before boarding the plane. I gave him the flowery penknife and it is still in my dad's possession as I forgot to take it back. Anyway, I managed to buy 2 nail clippers at the airport terminal before I boarded the plane. My nails were bugging me. I had to cut my nails on the plane.
Well, the customs at the airports in Oz are more interested in the food products you bring in their country than anything else. We declared that we were bringing some food as usual when we came back from KL. Dh forgot to buy plastic wrappers with bubbles and so he stored some of the soya sauce bottles in our baby's clean nappies so that it would withstand the impact of bag handling at the airport. He was really serious in bringing the bottles of kicap/soya sauce as the ones sold in Oz were quite bland by Malaysian standard. However, it wasn't the bottles in the nappies that caught the attention of the custom officer. He immediately zoomed in on 4 packets of our 3 in 1 instant teh tarik and 1 packet of 3 in 1 instant nescafe and took them out of our food bag and stacked them outside. We hoped for the best when we saw this but in the end the whole 5 packets got confiscated as it had milk/dairy products in them. Dh was a bit stunned to learn that milk/dairy products processed in Malaysia didn't get to be on the list of countries that follow Oz's perfect hygiene standards. If only the 3in 1s were manufactured in Singapore. I bought the 3 in 1 teh tarik packs for dh knowing he loves teh tarik, the hot cup of very sweet frothy milky tea fare in Msia.(As for me, I don't drink coffee and I prefer tea with milk and no sugar). Poor dh, I guess he has to drink the normal bland aussie fare for the coming months.

January 06, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I'm back on line. Oh my! It is so good to be online again using broadband connection. I used someone's old tmnet account connection in KL and the speed really sucked. I mean it could not even download yahoo homepage. The earthquake off the shore of Taiwan probably had something to do with the phenomenal slow download of the internet too I gather. Who knows?!
Well, now I am back on the blog, I really don't feel like writing anything. *Sigh*. It feels quiet and surreal here after a few weeks living in the fast lane of KL. Anyway, I am so glad to be back home again. No more nephews to boot out of my room. Just my own flesh and blood.