Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Raya 2009

I was really looking forward to having a week off so that my family and I could go visit our relatives and friends whom we haven’t seen since last Raya (or before that). Unfortunately the first 2 days of Raya we couldn’t visit anybody who lives more than 20 kilometers away because my mom was not feeling well. She had neck and chest pains. She was especially worse in the mornings.


Since my mom was feeling much better on the third Raya day, we went to Melaka to visit my long lost roommate when I was at a university. It was so wonderful seeing her again because the last time we saw each other was before I got married and now I have been married for 17 years! I used to contact her when she was at UPM but after her retirement we lost contact. She has a beautiful English cottage which she “designed” herself (with the help of an architect of course!). She has a beautiful garden and she even has two date trees in her yard. We arrived at her house around 2.30 pm and stayed until 5pm! Time flew by so fast when we had fun reminiscing the good old days.


On the way home we stopped in Tampin to visit my aunty. A while later, my cousin’s son dropped by. Actually I have never met this guy. After we introduced each other he called his father (my cousin) and told him that I was at my aunt’s house. I felt obligated to visit my cousin whom I haven’t seen since the day I got married! We ended up getting back at my mom’s house very late at night.

My former roommate and I
On the 4th day of Raya we went to KL to renew Harris’ and Najla’s passports. We were so lucky to have a guest from Morroco to celebrate Raya this year. On the way to KL we dropped him off at Seremban Bus terminal to catch a 10.30am bus to Kuantan. He had to go home early to find a new apartment because his apartment contract would expire at the end of September. After we were done with our business at the passport office, it was time for lunch. All of them wanted to eat at one of the fast food joints, so we visited Colonel Sanders and gained fat!
Our Moroccan guest & our kidsHannah & Najla at Col. Sanders' constructing their Sponge Bob

While the kids were eating I sent messages to 2 of my friends, Kak Ju and Marzi. We went to Kak Ju’s house in Ampang first because Marzi was out shopping at the Mid Valley mall. Marzi said we could come and visit at 4pm. It was good seeing Kak Ju again. I am not sure if we saw her last Raya or not. She is in food business making different sauces with a factory in Klang. Before we left her house, she gave us a bottle each of BBQ, chilli, mayonnaise, and pasta sauce. I would like to help promote her products (with no commission, ok) under the brand Jasma. Her products can be bought at Giant and other supermarkets / hyper markets in Malaysia. They are 100% halal products. Then we went to PJ to visit Marzi and her family.

Jasma Halal Products

Our final stop for the day was MPH at Mid Valley. The kids went wild searching for their favorite books and we spent around RM450 for all of them. By the time we got back to my mom’s house, it was close to midnight.


The next day my mom asked Steve and I to accompany her to the bank in KP and to buy groceries. On the way back from KP, we stopped by my uncle’s and my aunty’s house in Terachi. Only Najla came with us so she got extra “duit raya” compared to her other siblings. On Friday (the 6th day), we didn’t go anywhere, just loafed around and relaxed. I bought a book titled “Travelog Haji” by Prof. Kamil when we went to MPH on Wednesday. I started reading it on Thursday night and finished it by Friday morning. It was such a refreshing read. I definitely recommend the book to any practicing Muslim.


Saturday afternoon we went to KLIA to send Yasmin’s friend off to Egypt. She’s the same age as Yasmin (should be in form 1) but her parents sent her to Egypt to study Quran. She seemed so matured for her age. Steve and I would definitely not send our kids overseas at such young age. We want to keep them under our roof for as long as we can because once they leave, they will be gone. That’s why we didn’t send Danial and Yasmin to any boarding schools although both of them got 5As for their UPSR.


Yasmin's friend & her mom

Since KLIA is close enough to Bangi, we decided to visit our friend AA and his family in BB Bangi. We arrived around 9pm and left nearly 2 hours later. We didn’t plan to stay that long but since we haven’t seen each other for quite sometime, we got a little carried away. For the third time, we got back to my mom’s house at around midnight. Alhamdulillah she was doing fine.

We wanted to go back to Kuantan on Saturday but my niece convinced us to stay until Sunday because her sister (my other niece) had an engagement at noon on that day. Her fiancĂ© is from Perak so the guy’s family brought along pomelos, star fruits, and guavas. Finally, at 4pm we left the kampong. All in all, it was a good Raya despite the below expectation beginning.

Our Raya photo

Najla's Craft

All of my children except Danial have created their goody box with a pyramid-shaped cover like the ones pictured above. This latest addition belongs to Najla. She made it at her art class sometime in early September. The day she brought it home, she asked me to take a picture of it so “you can put it in your blog” she said. I kept postponing it thinking that I would remember the exact date she made it. Unfortunately, my aging mind does not allow me to retain information more than a few days only. Finally on 13 September I took my camera and snapped a few shots of the box. All of them (Yasmin, Hannah, and Najla) seem to like their art class very much. Only Danial never got a chance to enroll because he was more than 12 years old when we first discovered the class. Harris was enrolled for a few months and decided to quit because “ I don’t like to draw based on a specific theme” he said. In my opinion, what he was trying to say was that “I am bored with it and I hate to follow instructions!”. That’s so like Harris.



Champions!

Yasmin's trophy
Danial's trophy

Yasmin was so nervous a few days before she entered the Quranic reading competition. Danial didn’t seem so. Even if he did, he covered his feelings pretty well. When the day came, Yasmin hugged me and said, “please pray for me that I will be asked easy questions and surahs”. It was on Tuesday 15 September, which was a working day therefore I couldn’t attend the ceremony. I guess they must have had easy questions because both of them came home with a trophy each. They both got first prize for their category. I am very happy for them.



Web Cam

Steve has been toying with the idea of buying this baby for quite sometime. Finally, on 5 September 09 he brought home the one pictured above. His mom just bought a laptop and installed an internet at her home recently. He wants to install the web cam so that when he talks to his mom, they can both see one another despite being thousand miles away from each other. Somehow, until today he still hasn’t used it yet. I am not sure what technical problem he’s facing. Well, I can’t help much because I am no techie.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Salam Aidil Fitri (Eid Mubarak)

Salam to all my Muslim friends, fellow bloggers and readers around the Globe. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you the best and safest Eid. Please forgive me if any of my entries in both of my blogs have offended you in any way. I would like to share the following message which I received from a friend through my email. If you already know it, take it as a reminder and if it is new, I hope it will benefit you:

 
 
Suratul Faatiha:                  protects one from the anger of Allah
 
Surah Yaseen:                     protects one from the thirst of the Day of Judgment
 
Suratul Waaqi’ah:               protects one from poverty and starvation
 
Surah Mulk:                         protects one from the punishment of the grave
 
Suratul Kauthar:                 protects one from the enmity of the enemy
 
Suratul Kaafiroon:              protects one from “kufr” at the time of death
 
Suratul Ikhlaas:                   protects one from hypocrisy
 
Suratul Falaq:                      protects one from calamities
 
Suratun Naas:                     protects one from evil thoughts

Monday, September 14, 2009

My “Jewels”

Danial:

My eldest just finished his trial PMR. I hardly saw him studying or reviewing his studies at home. Every time I asked him whether he was ready, his reply was “Insya Allah”, We’ll see when the results are out… I just bought him 3 or 4 novels recently and he finished reading them in a flash. Right now I think he’s rereading the newly acquired novels or sometimes he reread his old (or very old) ones. I don’t know what to do. I wish there are people who live around here with tons of novels which he likes so we can swap books. At the rate we are buying, we will have trouble storing them soon. Selling them as used books? Out of the question because he wants to keep them all! He still goes to a guitar lesson every Friday afternoon but I have never heard him play guitar at home. He keeps playing piano whenever his mood strikes. He goes to the “surau” most of the time when his father goes there for Magrib or Isyak prayers. He does his chores without grumbling (turning dry laundry right-side-out, washing dishes, and sometimes throwing trash out). He had attended a 2-day camp (Saturday-Sunday: 12 & 13 Sept 09) near Pantai Sepat. It was for form three students who will be sitting for their PMR in October
Yasmin's Certificate

Yasmin:

I just convinced her to open her own blog (http://yasmin128.blogspot.com) last week because she loves to scribble. She picked up reading much later than Danial, I think when she was in standard 4. She used to just sit in front of the TV every time she got a chance. I used to get upset with her about her TV habit. She loves to draw and we enrolled her in the art class at Da Vinci. She’s very good at drawing Japanese cartoon characters. It must be from watching those shows on TV! We sent her to piano lessons for 2 years but I never heard her playing after she stopped attending the classes. She wants to learn how to play a violin but I am skeptical to send her. Besides I don’t know where to send her for that around here. She loves to eat cereal and milk that’s why she has strong and beautiful teeth. I used to “fight” with her a lot. Almost everyday I had something to complain about her. I think because our characters are so much alike that we repel each other. Recently we have become better friends. She does her chores too (turning dry laundry right-side-out and washing dishes) but sometimes with grumbles. Last Thursday we had “iftar” at her school. Before the breaking of fast we attended a simple ceremony in which the school gave certificates to students who performed well in their UPSR last year. Yasmin was one of the recipients. Actually the gifts were from Yayasan Pahang but delivered to students by the school. Each of them received a certificate and RM100, so Yasmin can buy her own “baju raya” :)


Harris at the dentist
Harris:

Last Wednesday was a very memorable day because the date was 09-09-09 (9 Sept. 2009) and at 09 am Harris had an appointment to see a dentist at HTAA. We arrived 15 minutes late because I had trouble finding a parking space. We ended up parking at the housing area behind the hospital. It was quite far so we had to walk really fast. Poor Harris, he was fasting too. Finally at 9.40am the process began. Harris’ pain threshold is very low so he was groaning and screaming most of the time. It was hard for me to watch him in pain and not being able to do anything. It was over at 11.30am. I am very pleased with Harris’ changed in attitude towards reading. He used not to like it as much as Danial and Yasmin because he was always playing the computer games or watching cartoons. He did read bionicles books but not other novels. Since we bought Alex Rider series, he really sits down and read! I never thought the time would come so soon, but I am happy. His temper has improved some too. He used to be upset a lot more and screamed at us all the time. Now he is more “patient”. He’s doing better in school too. Wow, Harris is growing up! He lost a tooth on Tuesday night. On Saturday (12 Sept. 09) Harris performed in a sketch at his school during the “musabaqah” competition. He played as Abu Lahab or Abu Jahal. He likes performing arts.


Hannah:

She lost 2 teeth- 1 Wednesday (9 Sept.09) and 1 the day before at about the same time Harris lost his. Of all the kids, she’s the most sensitive, cries a lot and sulks so easily. Sometimes she drives all of us nuts. She can really stay up late but she can’t get up in the morning. We have to drag her out of bed or sprinkle water on her face. She loves to draw so much and she’s also enrolled at Da Vinci art class. She’s taking a piano lesson with me but she hardly practices her piano at home. She would rather draw greeting cards for us. She likes to read also but not at the same level as Danial or Yasmin yet. She’s so afraid of any creepy crawlies, and she definitely got that from me! She would really love to learn how to swim but we have to wait until MPK pool is fully renovated. So far she hasn’t broken any of her fasts yet. She is so flexible that she can lie on her tummy, arch her back, and touch her chin with her toes! She should enroll in a ballet or gymnastic class. But nay… they wear skimpy clothes. Best of all, Hannah is a very loving daughter.



Najla:

How could I be upset when I found out that I was pregnant with her? Since Najla is the youngest, she’s the most adorable and very smart. There were so many instances that she would say something that would catch me by surprise. She is a very confident person probably because she gets hug a lot. So she feels very secure about herself. She’s adorable when in good mood but terrible when she throws one of her stunts. On Saturday she was really mad because I didn’t take her to the store to buy her “baju raya”. Just like any kids, we can’t afford to make any promises unless we are so sure that we can fulfill them. She loves to draw pictures and she folds the papers, and gives them to us as greeting cards. She just enrolled in Da Vinci class last month (or was it in July, I don’t remember). She loves to read as well. She has been nagging me to register her at her brothers' and sisters' school. Last week I went to the school to get the registration form. I was told that the school’s priority is to accept 7 year-olds. Since Najla will only be 6 years old next year, she will be on a waiting list. I hope Najla won’t be so upset.

Our Ramadhan


It feels like yesterday when we started our fast. Without realizing it we are entering the 24th day already. Only 5 or 6 more days are left. I am proud to say that our family has never been to or bought food from any bazaar Ramadhan yet. We are trying to keep the spirit of Ramadhan alive and keep our food simple (such as the ones pictured above). We do not serve many varieties either. Usually we have dates, rice, and one (or two max.) side dish. Once in while we made spaghetti or pizza. Alhamdulillah, our kids are not fussy. They are happy with french toasts, cereal, or "jemput-jemput kosong". Our regular beverage is the good old plain cold water. Sometimes the kids asked for canned soft drinks which we obliged. We thought we had more time to shop for raya clothes but suddenly it hit us that we only had yesterday as the best time to do it. Feeling semi panicked, we packed all the kids in the car and off we went shopping. So now everyone has 1 set of "baju melayu" or "baju kurung", except for Yasmin because she prefers "jubah". The kids have one extra set of non-traditional clothes as well. Najla got so excited, she took hers to her kindergarten today. We didn't buy shoes for anyone because our kids love to wear sandals or slippers. Everywhere they go (including our trips to the US) they would put on their rubber sandals. Alhamdulillah, our kids are very low maintenance children.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

English?

Have you ever seen sign boards, posters, etc. which are supposed to be written in English but you don’t quite understand what they are saying? Well, on the way back to the kampong last Saturday, Steve stopped at one of the gas stations because Najla wanted to use the toilet. Naturally, every time we stopped, somebody would “need” to get something from the shop. That time Hannah bought a small packet of seven colored crystal balls which would turn into sea creatures once you soak them in water. When we got back into the car Danial took the packet from Hannah, read the direction written on it, and started to laugh. Of course everyone was curious and started to read it too, and we all had a great laugh. It says:

“Product Use Information

  1. add water 400 gm on the product, about 4 hours it will grow up.
  2. one clear beauty satiety face will grow up.
  3. When the flower want to oxygen and nutrition, I will help you too much.”

Hmmm…???



Thursday, September 3, 2009

Marriage

During fasting month, all the workers at my College get to go home at 4.30pm which is half an hour earlier than our regular time. I bet some people are envious of that, especially those who never leave their office until the sun has completely set. Anyway, as soon as my watch turned 4.30pm, I switched off my computer, packed my bag, and walked out of my office. Then I saw two lecturers sitting in the room across from mine, so I asked them why they were still there. Apparently, they were waiting for their roommate who had to teach until 5pm. Since both of them are new comers, I decided to get to know them for a few minutes.

During our conversation, a topic of marriage came up. I said I was married a bit late (at the age of 28). Then they seemed worried and asked me whether 28 is really too late to get married. I told them that it is not late per say, but you will feel it when you see your friend’s kids are already in college while yours are still wearing diapers. However, if you are not concerned about things like that, it really doesn’t matter anyway. After all, getting married isn’t that simple. You have to have a partner whom you are going to marry. Hopefully, you meet someone who will go through thick and thin with you. Thank God I don’t have to go through the journey of finding Mr. Right anymore.

Reading

I can’t recall when I started reading “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama. It’s an interesting and well written book. He can definitely be a novelist. However, I still can’t finish the book for whatever cosmic reason that might be. For one thing, the font is small, and the language is a bit hard for me to understand. I have to really concentrate when reading Obama’s book, unlike the most recent book I read by Dr. Muhaya which only took me an hour to finish. Now I am contemplating on reading “Ke Mana Wang Anda?” by Hajah Rohani Datuk Hj Mohd Shahir. I bet by the time I finish this one, I will still have many more pages (or chapters) of Obama’s.

Whatever happens, the most important thing is to keep on reading. Reading helps our mind to stay active. I guess when our mind is active it is less likely for us to be senile. When I was a kid I hated reading but I started picking up the habit when I was studying at a university. I guess I didn’t have good models to follow as a kid. My husband and I made a conscious effort to read to or in front of our kids from the day they were born. Alhamdulillah, we are seeing the fruit of our labor. Children will not follow what the parents tell them, but they definitely follow what their parents do, at least where reading is concerned. So to all parents (and parents to be) out there, if you would like to have kids who like to read, you better start reading.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Raya Card

This morning I received a wonderful handmade Raya Card from Najla. She showed it to me in the car yesterday when we were on the way back from my mom’s kampong. But at that time it was not colored yet so I asked her to color it first. I think this will be the first and the last conventional card I will receive for this year because my friends prefer to send electronic cards. I realize that my daughters are better at giving gifts and cards to Steve and I compared to our two boys. I wonder if that is common to other people’s children too. Maybe, a research needs to be done and the topic would be “Gifts giving: Is it more common among girls or boys?”


Raya card for me
Raya card for Steve

New Addition

Baby Ambar is back to sleep after being fed

Last Friday was the most memorable day (or the most depressing day, depending on how one looks at it) for me because I became a grandmother! No! The baby is not one of my children’s because they are too young to be parents. Actually, my niece who got married in November last year just had a baby. They named the baby Ambar Kasturi. Hmm… I wonder what it means. When I asked my niece’s husband that question, his reply was “it runs in my family”. Ok, no arguments from me. I hope someday he’ll be a well-known architect like Hijaz Kasturi. The baby is so tiny, only 2++ kgs. The lightest one of my kids weighted 3.45 kgs at birth, and the heaviest was 4.2 kgs. It’s funny that the weight keeps on increasing from one baby to the next. If I had more babies, conceivably, their weights could climb up to 5 or 6 kgs! OMG! What a scary thought. Luckily I am smart enough to stop (I hope), hahaha!




New Books

These are the books which we bought at Kinokuniya last Sunday.


Those who like to read motivational books, I would really like to recommend the book by Dr Muhaya titled “How to Become a Good & Successful Medical Student: A Holistic Approach. It’s only 99 pages (not counting the appendices) and I finished reading it while traveling on the commuter from KL to Seremban. Although it was written for medical students, the content can be applied to students in basically every field. It also contains useful tips for good living in general.