Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tennis Anyone?

When Sharon planned to come visit us she sent an email asking if there was anything we would like for her to bring us from the US. Without thinking too much, I asked her to bring me a CD on learning tennis. So she brought us one. Yesterday, I sat and watched the CD and it was really good. I hope one day I will be able to play like Serena or Venus Williams, hahaha.

This morning, my husband, my neighbor Zam, Zam’s friend Khairul and I played a match and a half. It was so good but I had to leave before we finished the 2nd match because I had to go to my “tajwid” class.

Dried Squid, My Favorite Snack!

I love dried squid. It’s one of the best snacks ever been invented. I have been keeping this package for my friend Mona who’s supposed to pick it up from my home weeks ago. She’s been so busy to stop by. I don’t know how many more days I can stand before I tear the package open. Mona… come get it or I will clobber the poor dried sea creatures.

What’s For Dinner?

Tonight Steve made 3 trays of pizzas for dinner. Two with just cheese topping, which the kids love and the other he put tomato slices, cauli-flower, and pineapple chunks. Yummy!

This is with half cheese and half no topping, just tomato sauce.

This one is half cheese only, and the other half with pineapple chunks, tomato slices, and cauli-flower slices.

This is the slice for me, yum, yum

To Read Or Not To Read

Books are the only assets we have (besides 2 cars). The whole family is crazy about buying and reading books. I have so many that I have not read and a few that I am in the middle of reading. Lo and behold! Steve came home from his carnival day with 10 more new books! He said he couldn’t resist them because they were only RM2.00 a piece. Ten books still costs him less than buying 1 brand new one. What a bargain indeed!

Actually this is what I would like to finish reading.

I am also reading these:

And these are the newly acquired ones…

My Earth Hour

What did I do for the Earth Hour last night? Nothing! Absolutely nothing special. I did what I would normally do. Wait a minute. Before anybody starts to judge me, let me explain. What is such a big deal about doing good to our mother earth for one stinking hour if I have been doing it day after day for as long as I can remember. As a practicing Muslim, it is “wajib” (compulsory) for me to safeguard this earth. The holy Qu’ran teaches us to do that and so did our beloved prophet Muhammad s.a.w. (peace be upon him). My home doesn’t have any air-con, no home theater systems, no unnecessary gadgets. We certainly do not have a private jet! We do our bit to recycle and reuse old stuff, and we don’t even have hot water! We have been doing it for 365 days a year. So, tell me, is it so wrong if we didn’t participate in turning off lights for an hour?

Our Saturday Outing

Steve had to be at his school for some kind of a carnival day. Yasmin and Danial were at the camp. Hannah and I had our piano class so I had to take Najla along. Harris decided to stay home alone playing with his computer game. After the class ended, I thought of bringing the kids out for breakfast (more like a brunch). So I drove home, picked Harris up and headed back to town and went to Taj Restaurant near Kuantan Medical Center. Harris ordered “roti telor”. Hannah and Najla wanted rice and fried chicken. I am not much of an Indian food lover so I took rice and fried squid instead. Suddenly Harris decided not to eat his “roti telor” because “it is not the same as the one from the shop near our house” he said. So I ended up finishing the “roti” and he took my rice and ordered another piece of fried chicken. While eating, a young sales woman came and asked if we wanted to buy any books she was selling. Well, it didn’t take her long to persuade the kids to buy one. They chose the one titled “My Magic Encyclopedia, Animal World”. It comes with 2 CDs.

After brunch, we went to Telok Chempedak beach for about an hour. Harris, Hannah, and Najla had so much fun playing with the sand while I sat and watched them. I nearly dozed off on the bench due to the hypnotizing effect of the cool ocean breeze the sound of the waves. Luckily we managed to get home safely. As soon as we arrived home, I went straight to bed to take a nap and the kids turned on the CD player to watch their new CD. It was a win-win situation…

At night we were invited to a dinner gathering at our neighbors’ house. All 5 of us went and what a great feast it was.

Big Kids Camp

Last Monday (16 March) Yasmin attended School Youth Cadet Camp at Kompleks Rakan Muda Klang. She left on a 1 am bus from Kuantan bus station. Her program started on Tuesday morning. She came Friday andack on Friday around 9 o’clock at night. Her face got sun burned from too much marching.

Last Friday (27 March) afternoon, Yasmin and Danial attended Mukhayyam (character building camp) at Kampong Pandan, Kuantan. Yasmin said they participated in bicycling around the village, kayaking, IQ games, and jungle trekking. She said she loved kayaking the best. Jungle trekking was her least favorite because everyone had to catch at least one leech before they could go back to the camp site. Eeeee. They got home today around 2.30 pm.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sharon’s Visit to Kuantan

Sunday evening (15 March) we left Sharon, Garry and Renae at their friend’s condo in Cheras and headed back to my mom’s house. After dinner we left for Kuantan. The next morning (on Monday 16 March) I picked them up from Kuantan airport around 10.30am. Poor Renae! Her luggage didn’t make it to Kuantan. The airport personnel told us that they would send it to my house in the evening, and they did. Since Steve had so much going on at his school, he couldn’t take leave for Sharon’s family visit. What a great excuse for me to get away from work and be a wonderful tour guide instead. Hmm… I wonder if I should change jobs and be a permanent tour guide… I had fun doing it and I hope they had fun as well. Anyway, before I took them home, we stopped at Zaman Restaurant for breakfast. I am so glad I did because they loved the “roti canai” so much.

After resting for a while, I took them to Pahang Weaving Center in Pulau Keladi in Pekan. It was a nice experience for them and for me and the kids, too. We also visited the house where Tun Razak was born and the small museum dedicated to him. At night, after Renae’s luggage arrived we went to Tanjung Lumpur to eat “ikan bakar”. Then we went home to rest before we had to go to the bus station to send Yasmin. She had to go to the School Youth Cadet camp in Klang. Sharon’s family didn’t go to the station with us. I am sure they were very tired and sleepy.The next day we had a packed schedule. First we went to the Kuantan River jetty hoping to catch the 9 am cruise. Unfortunately I didn’t make any reservation so we had to take the 11 am trip. It was a blessing in disguise because Garry forgot to bring his camera bag. So we went back to get it. While waiting, we visited Batik RM where they got some batik souvenirs to take back to Texas. Garry got to see how batik was printed while Sharon and Renae were busy shopping.

The cruise was wonderful except for seeing the unsightly floating trash that was thrown into the river by some irresponsible “entity”. I was hoping that they could see big iguanas and monkeys. Unfortunately it was not the time of the day for them to come out. Perhaps, the tide was a bit high for the iguanas but we managed to see a few eagles. The board-walk into the mangrove was wonderfull, too.

Below are pictures on the ferry ride.

Najla, Hannah, and Harris on the board walk

After the cruise ended, we went to the Turtle Sanctuary in Cherating. On the way, we stopped by the Black Rock Beach (Pantai Batu Hitam) for lunch.

My kids really had a good time at the Sanctuary. I hope Renae, Sharon and Garry did too. Sharon bought some souvenirs from the nearby shop.

From Cherating we continued our sight-seeing tour to the Telok Chempedak Beach. Renae, Harris, Hannah and Najla bathed in the sea but Garry, Sharon, and I just sat while watching and enjoying the gorgeous view and the wonderful sound of the waves.
Telok Chempedak

Later on, Steve and Danial joined us because we planned on going to eat “satay” for dinner. It was a great choice because Sharon’s family loved satay.

Wednesday morning, Garry and I played tennis at the KPTM courts. Renae came along to watch us play. The court was pretty slippery and Garry slipped a couple of times. After the game we went to get some breakfast at the Taman Guru shop. They bought more “roti canai”. After breakfast, we went to the Kuantan Craft Center in Kampung Pandan. They bought a few more souvenirs to take home.

Since Renae didn’t have a chance to see the monkeys the day before, I took them to Taman Teruntum and Telok Chempedak (again) in case the monkeys decided to come out in the middle of the day. No Luck! Sorry Renae, perhaps in the next visit. The last stop we made was to look for “batik sarong” for Renae. We went to a few shops and finally she found one she liked. By the time we got home, there was just enough time for them to refresh themselves, pack the luggage into the car, and drive to the airport.After they left Najla cried the whole way home and said she didn’t want to go to the TASKA (nursery) the next day. She said “why did you send Renae home? I want to play with her.” To cheer her up, we took the kids to see a movie called the Race to Witch Mountain. Najla slept half-way through the movie.

Sharon’s Visit to My Kampong

The moment we had been waiting for finally came on Saturday 14 March. It was the day that we had to pick Renae (Sharon’s daughter) up from the LCCT near KL International Airport. Sharon and her husband Garry had arrived 2 days earlier but they stayed at a friend’s condo in Cheras. We drove from my mom’s home in Negeri Sembilan and met them at the airport. It was so good seeing them again since our last meeting at the family reunion in Kansas in 2005. However, this is the first time we met Garry because he wasn’t at the reunion.

Since they were staying for only 5 days, we didn’t waste anytime but jumped straight into sight-seeing business. The first stop was of course Putra Jaya since it was close to the airport. Then we headed back to my mom’s home. Unfortunately, it rained so hard in Seremban so we decided to take a longer route through Tampin because we didn’t want to be trapped in Bukit Putus landslide. Poor Renae was so sleepy after a very long plane ride from Texas. She tried hard not to fall asleep but she did for a while between Seremban and Tampin. She didn’t miss much because we could hardly see anything outside due to the heavy rainfall. Renae is majoring in Wild-life and Fisheries, so she was interested to see some wild animals which cannot be found in the US. We did see a few monkeys near Kuala Pilah.

We stopped by the fruit stall in Kuala Pilah and bought some “cikus”, jackfruits, water apples (jambu air), guavas, star fruits, and bananas. We also stopped for some durians at the stall near the Ulu Bendul mosque. They were not too crazy about durians but they didn’t say anything too bad like some of the comments I heard from other foreigners who tried them.

When we arrived at my mom’s house around 6pm, she was making a traditional Malaysian cake called “cucur”. Boy, it was a hit among Sharon’s family. I like cucur my self. The next morning we let them explored my mom’s “kampong” and enjoyed some coconut juice before we took them to Sri Menanti, the Negeri Sembilan royal town. We took them to Ulu Bendul recreational park for a short while before heading back to my mom’s house so they could pack their stuff before we sent them back to Cheras.

Water, Water, Everywhere, Not A Drop To Drink

Thursday 12 March 2009 - If I had to choose between a day without electricity and a day without water, I would definitely choose no electricity. When I was a kid we never had electricity until I was in standard six (12 years old) and I was doing just fine. But imagine living without water for that amount of time. I don’t think I would be sitting here today, writing this blog entry.

On Tuesday, the day of my husband’s birthday, the whole city of Kuantan was out of water supply. No wonder I forgot his birthday! It was such a pain having 7 people living in a house without any reserved water. Later that day I was told that the turbine at the dam in Kuantan burst. Since it was an emergency, JBA didn’t have time to warn us the poor consumers. Thank God the water supply was back on Wednesday night.

I Did It Again!

Thursday 12 March 2009 - How could I have forgotten my husband’s birthday again! His birthday is on the 10th of March, just one day after Najla’s. Actually we could have chosen to “make” Najla’s birthday the same as her father’s because she was overdue and induced. The doctor told me that I could still wait for one or two more days after we went for the checkup. What? Was she kidding! I couldn’t even wait for another minute to be carrying around that weight. So we decided to force her out on the 9th of March 2004.

Anyway, this entry is not about Najla’s birth date. Like I said earlier, I forgot Steve’s birthday for the 4th or more times already. What makes me feel double terrible is that he never forgot mine (so far). As usual, everybody was busy getting ready for work and school on that day, and suddenly it was time to leave the house already. Then, Danial said, “Did anybody wish abah happy birthday?” Only then I remembered about it and I wished him happy birthday. Being a practical person, I asked what he wanted as presents and he told me to get him a new belt and some pants. I am off to go shopping tonight. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough goes shopping!

Yahoo! I Got My Check

Thursday 12 March 2009 - Last year I substituted 2 classes for a lecturer who was on a maternity leave. It was towards the end of the semester already so I didn’t get to teach for so many hours. It was a great experience and a welcoming break from my mundane job as an administrator. I submitted my claim sometime in late December and I got my first pay check as a “teacher” 2 days ago. Yesterday I deposited the check into my bank account. It wasn’t much but enough to buy a digital camera and a new cell phone. I have been dying to get a new cell phone that has a speaker so I don’t have to kill my brain cells anymore (at least that’s what I heard people say).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Watch Out Monkey!

The above toys were bought at the National Zoo when we went there on 21 December 2008. The monkey belongs to Najla and the snake is Hannah's.

Najla’s Birthday Cake

Last night I baked a moist chocolate cake for Najla’s birthday. It is our family tradition to bake our own cake for kids’ birthdays. They always request for the same type of cake. I wonder if they ever get tired of it.

For those who are interested in trying to bake the cake, here’s the recipe:


1. 2 cups flour
2. 2 cups sugar
3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
4. 1 cup water
5. 1 cup margarine
6. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
7. 2 eggs – lightly beaten
8. ½ cup fresh milk
9. 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the first 3 ingredients and set aside (A). Heat up the next 3 ingredients until the margarine melts (B). Pour B into A and stir until well blended. Add lightly beaten eggs and milk alternately. Add vanilla and pour batter into greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (about 40 minutes). Good luck!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Najla’s Birthday

Najla got up really early because today (9 March 09) is her 5th birthday. As soon as she got up she asked for her present. Her father bought 2 presents for her yesterday, a Baby Alive toy and Barbie shoe set. He had to keep the present in the car so that Najla would not see them. She was so excited when we gave her the presents.

She asked Hannah to play with the toys right away. After a while, she bathed and asked for her cake so she could cut it. We tried to persuade her to do it later until Danial and Harris come back from their friend Hamizan’s house in Sungai Isap where they stayed overnight. But she couldn’t wait so we had to do it without Danial and Harris.

Then I went to do facial at Nury Fiza Salon near Bukit Goh. As soon as I got back, we went out for lunch at Pizza Hut at Kuantan Parade. On the way to PH, we picked Danial and Harris up. We ordered one large kids’ favorite pizza- pepperoni and a regular vegi lover for Steve, Yasmin and I. Before we left, they all had ice cream at the McD ice cream stall in the mall. Najla was so happy because all her wish came true.

The face of a contented birthday girl!

Money Definitely Can’t Buy Everything!

Marriages involve hard work - careful planning, sacrifice, sensitivity, compassion, tolerance, empathy, etc. etc. If you are a Muslim, add 2 more elements - “doa” and “tawakkal”. Even after all that, things can still go haywire. Recently, a friend of mine who has been married for many years shocked me with news that her husband divorced her to marry his co-worker.

It was like watching a soap opera listening to her pouring her heart out. The ex-husband holds a very high post in an organization and makes a 5-figure salary a month. So I guess that woman was after his money and position. The sad part is that my friend is not working because her ex-husband asked her to quit her job much earlier in their marriage in order to take care of their children.

I am not going to make any judgment because I don’t know the whole truth of what happened but there are a few good lessons to be learned as women:

1. Always be grateful of what we have. Do not look for a greener pasture because the color changes as you get to it.
2. Do not love a person too much, the more you do the worse the effects are.
3. Always trust in the Creator, because in Islam, there are no co-incidences. All things happened for reasons.
4. Never give up your job for any man! And,
5. Money can't buy everything, especially happiness, health, and peace.

Stay cool …

Belimbing Buluh

These tart fruits are delicious to cook “Masak Lemak Cili Padi” with fish or “daging salai” (smoked meat?). I have quite a lot of them at the back of my house. The tree is still small because Steve planted it quite recently. I think this is the first time the tree bears so many fruits. I have to confess that I am not too fond of cooking so I am afraid that they will end up rotting and falling off the tree. I wonder if there are some friends who would like to take them before it’s too late. What a shame.

Grand Piano & Weight Lifting

Yesterday (7Mar09), Hannah and I had our piano lesson at 9am as usual and the teacher asked us to play on the grand piano, wow!

In the evening Danial and I went to the gym. That was the first time Danial went to the gym. He expressed his interest to go weight lifting with me sometime ago but he always had other activities going on when it was time for me to go. He did a few routines for his upper and lower body. Ashraf, one of the regulars, showed Danial how to do the routines. He was pretty excited about it. He said he wants to go again and his goal is to be muscular so nobody can intimidate him. Hmmm…

Danial Lost His Cell Phone

Monday 2 March. The kids had no school that day because of Yaumul Ihtifal (award giving ceremony) on Saturday. As usual, when they don’t have school I would take them to the Kolej so they could go to the library. I wouldn’t let them spend too much free time at home unsupervised because they would do nothing but watch the idiot box! Normally I would ask them to stay at the library until my lunch break at 1pm. Then I would take them home.

So, that day we followed the same ritual except that at about half way home Danial realized that his cell phone has gone missing. I took him back to the Kolej, checked all the places he had been, but no such luck. When the library personnel called his cell phone number, it was off already. I sent an sms to inform his father about it and he replied that he received an sms message from Danial’s phone number after the phone was gone and the message said exactly like this: “I am busy right now, I will call later”. I am very curious who the thief might be. That was the second cell phone he lost withing less than a year!

Being a good citizen I am, I went to the police station to lodge a report the next day. Unfortunately, the computer at the police station I went to, next to Teruntum, was off- line that day, of course! I went again on Wednesday, and thank God the computer was online.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Friend’s Wedding

Finally, now that I have caught up with time, I don’t have to write by the month anymore. I can enter my entry based on current event(s).

Sunday 1 March. Danial, Yasmin and Harris were still at Jaynina’s house. They only came back after Isya’ at night. So, only the four of us went to attend Zetty’s wedding. Before that we also attended another wedding at Taman Guru. One of my neighbor’s son (or perhaps daughter, I forgot) got married. If I am not mistaken, after Steve sent us home he went to his office to work on accreditation report for his school. The poor guy has been working like a dog lately because his school is going to have its accreditation visit in late April. Until then he will probably has to continue this crazy work pattern like he has no life besides work. Well, a man has to do what he has to do for his family right?

February 2009

Wow, there is hardly any notes being jotted down in my planner for this month except for a few activities during weekends. Danial had his first guitar lesson on Friday 6 Feb from 4.30 to 5 pm. Yasmin and Hannah have art class on Fridays also, from 4.15 to 6.15pm. Harris used to enroll in that class but he quit. He told us he likes to draw and paint but he doesn’t like the do's and the don’t’s in that class. That sounds very much like Harris.

On 8 Feb we went to visit Husni and Melor’s new baby. They named her Zainab, a very classic name for this era. In fact all their kids have classic names such as Khadijah, Omar, Hassan, and the new comer Zainab. It’s very rare for Muslims in Malaysia to name their kids with those names these days. Yours truly is also guilty as charged. Anyway, we also got a chance to visit with Khadijah (a close friend of Yasmin), who just came back for vacation, for 2 weeks. She is currently studying in Egypt.

On Saturday 14 Feb, I went for a morning walk with my friend Faridah whom I have not seen for months. We used to walk together almost every weekend until she was transferred first to Ampang, and now Temerloh. It was great to see her again. I was able to walk on that day because my piano lesson which was supposed to be at 9 am, was delayed until 11 am. That night, Faridah, my son Danial and I went bowling at the Premium lane. It was full and we had to wait until 11pm to be able to bowl. While waiting Danial and I played pool. We played 2 games of bowling. I don’t remember their scores anymore but mine was 101 and 115. For someone who hasn’t gone bowling for months or perhaps more than a year, that was pretty good. I took a bowling class when I was doing my undergraduate degree at Indiana University. Somewhere in the middle of the semester, I scored the highest score in my life which was 290! I have never even come close to it since then. I would love to get that score again. In those days we recorded our score on a piece of paper called score sheet. I should have kept the sheet and framed it!

The next day, Sunday 15 Feb, I went to my friend Hamahani’s salon near Bukit Goh to do facial (after many months of not doing it!). While there I had my hair cut also. Najla also cut her hair. Actually, sometime within that week, I told Najla of my plan to cut my hair and she said she wanted to cut hers too. I tried to convince her not to do it in fear of losing her curls. It happened to Hannah before. She lost all her curls after we cut her hair short. Najla was determined to cut it and she told me, “It’s ok, my hair is not important, but the Quran is”. Hmm… I took some pictures of her before and after hair cut.

I went for Sukan MARA selection of players for ping pong at MRSM Kuantan on Saturday 21 Feb. I wanted to try out for tennis. Unfortunately, the organizer cancelled tennis for women, I guess not enough women tennis players. There were 19 males trying out for ping pong and only 6 were selected. But for women, there were only 2 of us, a teacher from MRSM Bentong and yours truly! So we got in by default. The sports event is going to be held in Skudai (at UTM Campus) in June. I have been training with some KPTM lecturers and students every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday since I got selected. I hope we will win.

Our kids’ school had its award giving ceremony on Saturday 28 Feb, from 8am until 12.30pm. Everyone in our family went to see Danial, Yasmin, and Hannah receiving their awards. Harris didn’t get any awards but he performed a group song and a sketch on Palestine war. The night before Steve had to buy a toy gun for him because he acted as an Israeli soldier.

After the ceremony was over, we went home and brought Yasmin’s and Danial’s friends (Jaynina and her brother Aiman) to our house because their mother was not home. They stayed until after magrib. Steve baked pizzas for the kids and I cook tom yam for them. After eating our late lunch or early dinner, whichever you prefer to look at it, everyone except Steve, Yasmin, and Jaynina went to the Kolej to play some games. Danial, Aiman, and I played tennis. Harris, Hannah, and Najla just ran around the court having fun being kids. Later Steve, Yasmin, and Jaynina decided to walk to the Kolej and joined us. We went back just before magrib because Aiman’s and Jaynina’s father was coming to pick them (plus my kids) up. Danial, Yasmin, and Harris went home with them to stay overnight at their friends’ house.

After they left, Steve, Hannah, Najla, and I drove to Zetty Adela’s house somewhere in Semambu to attend her akad nikah. When we arrived at Zetty’s house, both Hannah and Najla were already asleep. In addition, the rain was poring hard. Steve told me to go ahead and attend while he stayed in the car baby sitting. How romantic of him for letting me enjoy myself while he sat in the dark, looking after sleeping kids, with no food around! Luckily he ate some left over pizza before we left our home. C’est la vie…

The akad nikah went well as they planned with some tears being shed by the bride, the groom, and their parents. Surprisingly I did too although I didn’t cry during my own wedding. Perhaps I am getting more sensitive as I get older. The food was plenty and delicious too. I would have stuffed my face a lot more if it was during the day.