Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 23- Exhausted || Live blogging


After a long day of Raya visits and playing host to group after group of kampung kids visiting for Raya (and for duit Raya haha), Aishah & Hamzah finally surrendered. I'm also all Raya-ed out. I think I've eaten enough Sarawakian layered cake & drunk enough fizzy drinks to last until Eid al-Adha. Am avoiding the weighing scale, so difficult when we have the best tasting cakes in the whole kampung. Am not even a cake person and yet I can't stop eating. Aaaargh!

Aidilfitri 201: Part 22- A brother's sacrifice || Live blogging

This is my uncle Sakawi (we call him Yak Sakawi because he is the 4th in the family). When my father was young, the family was so poor that my late grandmother could not afford to send more than one child to secondary school at a time. So as soon they reached 13 or 14 years old, the elder one would have to make way for the younger one by dropping out of school to find work. My father is the 3rd in the family, when it came to his turn to quit school, my uncle volunteered to take his place though he was younger by a couple of years. At the time, the family could see that my father had a better chance to excel academically and maybe help the family out of poverty. So as a young teen, my uncle worked odd jobs and at a sawmill to put my father through school. Who knows where we'd all be today without his selfless act. May my children learn the meaning of love and loyalty too. Family, people bound by blood and held by love.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 21- Counting our blessings || Live blogging


My father makes it a point to not only visit relatives but close friends of his late father & the less fortunate people in the kampung. When I was younger, these visits were a chore as I never knew who these people were. The houses were hot with no electricity and the dishes & cakes served were not as grand. I was just a kid. Now that I'm older, I understand what he was trying to teach us. Now, I try to pass this tradition to my children. Hopefully, 1 day they too will understand.

Happy Birthday My Merdeka Day Sweetheart

Happy Birthday my Merdeka Day Sweetheart
I love you

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 20- Birthday blitz|| Live blogging


Turns out that Umairah (my bro's daughter), Nurin (Umaurah's cousin), Hakim (their neighbour) all have birthdays in late August. Aishah's of course is tomorrow. So we had a little birthday 'party'. Angry bird? Her Ummi has yet to introduce her to this concept (I know, am bad haha). Happy birthday little ones.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 19- Being thankful || Live blogging

As the sun is setting on the first day of Eid in Kampung Gedong, I realize that I am truly blessed. Allah gave me three beautiful and amazing children, supportive parents who have stood by me through my darkest hours, a wonderful brother (who I was not close to growing up- we were too busy quarreling haha, but since we are both adults, is now someone who I know will always have my back) and  a sister in law who finally allows me to understand what it means to have a sister & an adorable niece for me to fawn over. I was given a family, to double my joy and half my grief. For that, I am truly grateful.


Aidilfitri 2011: Part 18- Rumah orang kaya || Live blogging


It's been non-stop since morning. The kampung kids have spread the word that our house is giving away RM 2 per packet (going rate is either 0 or 1). Kids keep coming in waves, some even become "guides" & bring their friends or try to sneak past for 2nd visit. Even kids from the neighbouring villages pop up. Closing up shop for a while, wanna geet some rest, been washing more dishes & glasses than I can count. Sorry kids, come back later ok?

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 17- Jalan Raya || Live blogging


After Eid prayers, we went to visit close relatives. The highly densely packed houses of Kampung Gedong made manouvering the narrow streets & overflow of city folks returning to the kampung almost impossible. Back home, the second round of Berjalan Raya later. Exhausted. This is what happens when every other door is a relative.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 16- Our Raya dishes || Live blogging


Our Raya dishes: Satay Kajang, Lontong, Rendang Ayam & Daging and Lamb Kuzi. Cooked by candle light. Alhamdullilah it did not affect the taste. Hehe

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 15- Eid morning || Live blogging


Eid Mubarak. It's morning. Everyone is of to the mosque for Eid prayers. Looking out for the young ones at home. Hamzah & Raya cakes & cookies? who's smart idea was that? Haha

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 14- Lessons learnt || Live blogging


Perhaps the hardest lessons learnt this Ramadhan is that of acceptance. With a heavy heart I welcome Syawal, may the months to come be less challenging for us all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 13- Pitch black || Live blogging


We have been plagued with blackouts for 2 nights now. Been pitch black since 7pm. Will now have to cook everything via candlelight.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 12- His last Iftar of the year || Live blogging


Alhamdulillah. Yousof counting down to his last Iftar of the year. He's been stellar this whole Ramadhan missing less than 10 days. A good effort for his first year of fasting.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 11- Rendang simmering || Live blogging


Yes, we do leave everything to last minute. Just getting started on our Raya fare. Probably the only Sarawakian dish on the menu is the layered cake. Oh well, 1Malaysia?

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 10- Ziarah the dearly departed|| Live blogging


Back from going to ziarah my late grandmother's grave. A truly humble lady who raised 7 children alone after the death of her husband, in extremes of poverty. I still choke up when my father tells us stories from his childhood. How hard she worked, how much they sacrificed. My grandfather's grave can only be reached by boat, too far for us today. In remembering those who have passed, we learn to value our present. Al-Fatihah.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 9- Instant friendship || Live blogging


Kids make friends easily. Even when local dialects make communications jerky. The true sign of friendship? When you run outside to play with the kids next door, while still in pyjamas.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 8- Morning serenity & chicken run|||| Live blogging


Kids cannot sleep when the rooster crows, not my city born kids anyway. It must turn into a chicken chasing expedition. At the end of our lane is a small jetty, where the river is calm & all is quiet. Until of course the chicken chasing kids come. Hehe.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 7- Bunga api || Live blogging


I don't think kids should play with firecrackers (mercun), year after year we hear of child after child losing their fingers & getting burnt. Sparklers (bunga api) on the other hand, under adult supervision, can be alot of fun & should be part of a child's Raya memories.

Aidilfitri 2011- Part 6: Ghosts of Raya past

Spending Hari Raya in Gedong this year, I am overwhelmed by the mixed feelings that creep up when least expected. So much has changed since the last time we were here. 2 years ago, we were here not only on the joyous occasion of Raya but my brother's wedding. Now, we are all camped out at his house and little Umairah is almost walking. Time does fly by. There is perhaps a sense of loss, an unspoken fact that hangs in the air but we do not dwell on things that cannot be changed.

Ever since I was very young, we have mostly spent our Aidilfitri here in Gedong since the Aidilfitri celebrations here are probably more grand than in my other kampung (Kelantan- where we often went back for Raya Haji). People in gedong take their Aidilfitri celebrations "seriously". It is celebrated with great joy and gusto and often lasts the whole month. Every house will have prepared the famous Sarawakian layered cakes for the guests and the kids will visit long into the night.

When I was small, there was no concept of giving "duit raya", children would visit to eat the cakes and goodies served and drink lukewarm fizzy drinks until they either got a massive sugar rush or tummy ache. Nowadays, even the kids in Gedong expect "duit raya". 
I have many relatives here, my father comes from a large family. My numerous cousins now have many children of their own, and sad to say, coming here once every couple of years, I have lost track of them, not being able to put names to faces. I have always been terrible with names.

Listening to my brother talk about the social ills that plague my kampung now, I can't help but yearn to turn back the clock to a time when coming back to Gedong for Raya meant running around with cousins and eating more cake than I could possibly ever fit into my tummy. I am saddened to hear that progress here has brought more dark elements than good, with corruption reigning freely and youths squandering their lives on alcohol and drugs. I pray for my brother and his family and hope that they can make a difference. The only way people can break free from poverty is through education, good family values and hard-work. Hopefully, everyone here will realize that before it is too late. I wonder if villages elsewhere are also under attack from these forces or are still the idyllic havens that they used to be.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 5- Boulevard, Kuching|| Live blogging


We decided to shop at Boulevard, one of the newer malls in Kuching. Seems like the rest of Kuchingites had the same idea. Didn't really see what stores were there due to the sea of people. Smelled a Famous Amos though :). Two overladen trollies later, we made it out (just barely) with ingredients for our Raya menu. Back to Kampung Gedong we go!

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 4- Bandar Serian || Live blogging


Planned to do some last minute shopping for ingredients to cook Raya morning. Bandar Serian is the nearest small town to Kampung Gedong (27 km). There are a few supermarkets, wet markets, banks, schools (probably as big as Batu Pahat) but after stopping at one of the supermarkets, we decided to head for Kuching. There would be more choice & no need to go to many stores & wade through the sea of people at the market. So Kuching here we come!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 3- Kampung Gedong || Live blogging


We arrived just before Iftar. immediately the kids were excited to see their cousin Umairah. My brother & his wife Zila already bought them really cool new sparkly toys, including this safe alternative to fireworks. It's like a little slingshot that can propel the brightly coloured projectile straight up. Totally safe & hours of fun, unless of course you're a bad shot & shoot straight for the roof. :)

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 2- Kuching International Airport|| Live blogging


Safely arrived at Kuching International Airport. The kids had a good flight, ate the in-flight meal. We sat in the first two rows, so the first thing Hamzah asked was "Siapa drive aeroplane? Tokki ke?". Kids were a bit cranky when we stepped out of the airport, it's been a long day but they cheered up immediately when they saw their Usu Izzat. Onwards to Kg Gedong!

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 1- KLIA || Live blogging


All ready to go. Our flight is at 1pm, check-in counter opens at 11am and it's not even 10 am yet. Got alot of baggage, most of it are the kids'. Also brought back Sate Kajang (dunno if that will make it to Raya though haha). Our last trip to Sarawak was 2 years ago for my brother's wedding. So much has happened since then.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Slowly learning to Fast

With the end of Ramadhan nearing, I realize that this year truly has been the first of many. Our first month in a new town, our first Ramadhan alone and the first time my first-born attempts to fast. My son Yousof will be 6 years old by the end of the year. This year, we decided, was a good age to start training him to fast.

Believe me, I did not have high expectations. He is still very young (though I do remember that my parents began training me at roughly the same age). Alhamdulillah, he was super-excited about it. Credit to his teachers at Educare IIUM Kuantan for getting the kids excited about learning to fast, to my parents and his father for encouraging him. I also tried to support him as best I can.

When the first day of Ramadhan came, I had my sahur alone, and woke him up around 6am for his sahur. He was slightly upset that I did not wake him up before Fajr because he already knows that fasting begins after Fajr. I explained to him that it was fine, because he was still a child, it was not compulsory for him to fast therefore he was allowed to have his sahur a little later than me. He accepted this but requested to sahur with me, for the days to come. So from the next day, we would Sahur together, but I would always wake him as late as possible (around 20 mins before Fajr) and make sure that he ate adequately and had a mug of hot beverage (hot chocolate/Milo). I allowed him to extend beyond the call for Fajr prayers and waited until he was satisfied and finished eating. Then we would perform Fajr together.

Alhamdulillah ever since the first day, Yousof has managed to fast very well. When I pick him up from school, there is just over two hours left before Maghrib. He usually spends this time playing with his younger siblings or watching television while I prepare Iftar and dinner. I usually cook because my children are fussy eaters so they often do not like food from the Pasar Ramadhan. We stop by the 7-Eleven on our way back from kindergarten so that Yousof (and his non-fasting siblings) get to choose a simple treat that they would like for Iftar. Usually, they buy a juicebox or chocolate biscuits as I discourage junk food. I always ask Yousof if there is any particular dish he would like to have for dinner, or ask if if what I have decided to cook is ok with him. Unlike many other families, we usually Iftar with dates and water & whatever treat the kids chose for themselves & perform maghrib before sitting down to dinner. Since I only have a short time to cook the meal, it is usually very simple (1 dish + rice) and catered to the children's tastebuds (chicken curry, ayam kicap, ikan goreng tepung, chicken soup). Alhamdulillah, what may seem too simple compared to other people suits us well.

After dinner, his father will drop by and take him for tarawikh prayers at the nearby mosque. I stay at home with the two younger children. We believe it is important for Yousof to also start learning the importance of jamaah prayers. At home Yousof usually prays with me and I try to make sure he does not miss his prayers.
This Ramadhan, my 5 year old boy has not managed to fast every single day. Usually the days when we travel (to KL, Kelantan), he will ask to break the fast. Even at home he sometimes asks. I usually tell him, if he is too hungry or tired, then of course he is allowed to break the fast, but if he thinks he can make it to Maghrib, then he will get the satisfaction of completing the fast. Amazingly, this little boy, tired from a day of learning, with 2 younger siblings eating & drinking near him, will decide to wait. And when he hears the azan, he does not rush to get food or water, but reads the doa, shares a date with me (he doesn't really like the taste but he knows it is sunat to eat, so eats a little) first, before eating his choice of foods. I think, I have truly been blessed because surely I was not this easy to train.

Here are some things that I have learned this Ramdhan to help train a child to fast (most I adapted from Wardina Safiyyah's tips):
  1. Teach your child to solat first. It would be very contradictory if you impress upon them the importance of fasting but do not ask them to solat.
  2. Do not be too rigid. Like insisting they wake up for sahur and finish sahur before Fajr. Or refusing to let them break fast by saying things like "Now? There'se only an hour left. What a waste."
  3. Even with children, self-motivation is very strong. Allow them to feel a sense of achievement. But be careful, sometimes, they do things just to please you. Try and make sure they know why they are fasting.
  4. Make the child feel special.  It is also a good thing to show the younger ones "Abang Yousof can choose 2 things because he is fasting today. Abang Yousof gets this big piece of chicken because he is fasting today. etc"
  5. Do not be disheartened if he doesn't make it through the day. Praise him for his effort. Tell him he can try again tomorrow and next year hopefully he will fast the whole month.

I just wanted to share this experience with you all. InsyaAllah you can also read this article on soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our short sojourn at Equatorial Bangi

Last week, I went back to KL to submit my thesis. I got an SMS from my dad telling me that after Iftar at our house, I should bring the kids & my mum to the Equatorial Bangi since he had a 3 day conference there and they allocated him a big room. 

The kids were excited of course, they love staying in hotels. After making a U-turn at Shah Alam (yes! people I actually missed the Sungai Besi toll and ended up in Shah Alam), we managed to find the Bangi exit and the Equatorial easily. 

The kids had a great time just playing around. The grounds were beautiful and the kids pool was really nice. Some hotels have a wading pool that is to me, still too deep for small children, so as a default tense parent, I always stand by the side worrying. The Equatorial wading pool was just perfect. 

My only gripe was the room service. The menu promised Nasi Goreng BBQ Chicken for RM26 ++. Listed in the description was BBQ chicken, egg and veggies. What arrived instead was a sorry excuse of a Nasi Goreng that I wouldn't pay RM 2.60 for, the BBQ chicken was actually tiny diced chicken sausage inside the rice and the egg was also tiny flecks in the rice. The menu was totally misleading as the other Nasi Goreng listed sate as its ingredients (so I wonder now, will the sate also have arrived as finely diced). If Nasi Goreng Sate comes with sate, logically Nasi Goreng BBQ Chicken should come with BBQ chicken.

Other than that we had a great time. Even a one day holiday, counts as a holiday in my book.


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