Thursday, September 29, 2011

A stranger in the house

I have always had reservations about having a full-time, live in maid since I am essentially a very private person. However, as with all things in life, situations change. Currently as a working, full-time, single mom to three children under the age of six, I had to admit that I could not do everything myself.

My biggest concerns were the kids, of course. I worry for their safety. How would a foreign maid interact with them? We have all seen the horror youtube clips of maids abusing children under their care. The second issue was trust, how trust-worthy are these people. I did not want to be constantly suspicious of whether my belongings would go missing or if she would allow strangers into the house during my absence. Thirdly, I truly am not used to ordering other people to do work around the house. What sort of employer would I be?

Therefore, the decision I made to employ a foreign maid was made after great deliberation and thought. I knew that since I was working full-time and still wanted to spend as much time with my kids as possible that it really was the most practical solution. Two months living alone in a new city with them taught me that caring for them alone and still doing everything that I wanted to do for them was an exhausting task. By the time I had cooked and settled the basic housework, I would be all worn out.

Currently, I view the maid as an expediter. She does all the housework and ensures that the house is clean and tidy, the laundry is washed, ironed and folded and some light gardening (we only have grass at the moment). I still take care of anything to do with the kids (getting them ready for school, ready for bed) and do all the cooking. I do not want her to cook for us, as I really do believe that it is best for kids to grow up with home cooked meals prepared with love by their own mother (old-fashioned ideals but I stick by them). But cooking is alot easier and enjoyable (not to mention faster), when all the "work" part is removed from the equation, namely, I don't have to worry about washing the dishes or scrubbing the pots or throwing out the garbage.

Though the maid settles all things to do with laundry, I still pack for the kids each day, picking out their outfits for school. I also make sure they pick up after themselves, putting dirty clothes in the clothes hamper and hanging their towels after showering. I do not want them to take it for granted that there is someone who will pick up their mess after them.

So far, I have been able to set boundaries with the maid as to what she is expected to do and what she should not do. Compared to other maids, I believe she has a very small workload. She eats with us and watches tv at night after she finishes tidying up. As long as she does what I need her to do, I do not mind. I am hopeful that, without having to worry about housework, I can spend more quality time with the kids. I am doing my best to be careful not to fall into the trap of having a stranger raise my kids. How about you?

InsyaAllah, you can also read this post soon at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

Basic plot

Gwyna, a girl-child, is inexplicably thrown into an unbelievable life as page to Myrddin, as a boy no less. She travels in Arthur's army as he marches through medieval England, conquering lands and fighting the Saxons. Soon, Gwyna discovers that Arthur, the warrior and saviour of the land is very much different from Arthur, the man. She learns that not all stories, however grand, are to be believed.

What I like about this book

The story of Arthur and his knights, Merlin, Lancelot and Guinevere have been told countless of times through books and movies alike. This book takes a novel approach by demoting Arthur from his legendary status into that of a normal man. It also offers a plausible explanation as to how these stories and legends came to be. Simply put, Arthur had a brilliant PR officer at the time. Myrddin, the bard and storyteller enchants everyone with his depictions of Arthur's expeditions, simultaneously cementing the Arthur that history will remember. Tell a good enough story and people will believe what they choose to believe. A lesson well learnt by young Gwyna through the course of this book.

What I disliked about the book

Since the book was targeted for the the young adult audience, it lacked a certain depth that I prefer in books based on historic characters. I would have liked for the author to have delved deeper into each character. 

A quote I liked from the book

If you have nothing, no man can take it away from you.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Every day is my birthday- Aishah

Princess Cake (of course)

Seems like we have been celebrating Aishah's birthday all of August and September this year. Since her birthday was on 31st August (which was over the Raya holidays) and August was during Ramadhan, so her "school" held their Birthday Celebrations for August/September plus Raya Gathering last Thursday. Unfortunately, due to unavoidable circumstances, the kids had to miss out on the event.

Super short hair! (Not my fault)

So we ended up with a rather large and pretty chocolate cake on our hands. What to do? Eat it of course. Haha.
After school!
The moist chocolate cake was quite nice, though it probably would have been nicer if eaten straight away instead of storing in the fridge for 4 days. I ordered it from D'Bak Sensations. This is the first time that I have ever actually ordered a custom cake (birthdays have never been a big thing in my family). Will definitely order from them again. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

Of getting wet, getting lost and getting married

Last weekend (Malaysia Day weekend) we headed off to Johor Bahru to attend my cousin's daughter's wedding. Since the wedding was on Saturday, we decided to get there a day earlier just to make a short holiday of it. My father decided to stay at the Puteri Pacific Hotel. All in all it was a decent hotel with friendly staff, adequately spacious rooms and a good breakfast buffet. The highlight for the kids was, of course, the pool. 

This time I actually came prepared. I had bought them flotation devices (finally!) and they had a grand time swimming (almost). In fact by the second day Yousof could already swim laps in the big pool. Eleven times! Not bad for a 6 year old who can't technically swim. I am excited to try and find them proper lessons ASAP. My only grouse is that the kiddies pool was definitely too small, and as soon as more than 3 kids were in it, it was hard for them to move about at all. 

JB has changed alot since I lived there, though to be honest, when I did live there, I never actually went anywhere except for the hospital. That night it took us almost 2 hours and 5 long-winded U-turns (3 of which was actually the same U-turn) to find Restoran Singgah Selalu. By the time we finally made it, the kids were exhausted and I was starving. Thank God, some smart person thought of building a playroom. Understandably the kids perked up immediately. The food, when it came, was quite okay. The otak2 was delicious. Since we had arrived late, the only fish left was siakap and we ordered it sweet & sour. Probably the waiter forgot to write the "sour" part because it ended up being mostly sweet. Though I really shouldn't complain because I at single-handedly polished off 3/4 of the fish. The butter prawn was average. Other side dishes were also fair. The rice was on the dry and hard side, which I didn't really care for. But everybody was just happy to be there and to eat.

The next day we headed off to Pasir Gudang to my cousin's house for the wedding and managed to get utterly and completely lost again. I even resorted to using Google Maps on my phone. In the end it just added to he confusion because since I have never used it before, it took me many wrong turns before realizing that the flickering blue dot was us! (Yes, I can be that technologically inept at times). We finally made it, just in time to eat (the akad nikah had taken place a few minutes before we arrived). The bride & groom looked ravishing, the family was all smiles and the food (especially the lamb) was awesome.

Congratulations Dr Ikhwani & Ismail. May your lives be full of happiness, joy and love.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Basic Plot

This book was based on the true life story of the author's grandmother Lily Casey Smith. Lily was spunky, resourceful child who grew up to be a resilient and amazing woman. Despite having odds stacked against her, she managed to persevere and adapt to every imaginable situation. Breaking in wild horses, learning to drive an automobile and even a plane, also teaching kids in distant one-pony towns across the deserts. 

What I liked about this book

It is said that in order to write a great book, one must find a great story. The story of Lily Casey Smith is definitely a great story. Her life was told with such straightforwardness and honesty that every character in this book came to life. Lily Casey was not only a survivor, she was a fighter. An inspirational read.

What I disliked about the book

Nothing much really. I loved it.

A quote I liked from the book

God had saved us, but had also taken our house from us. Whether as payment for saving us or as punishment because we didn't deserve it, I couldn't say. Maybe he was just giving us a kick in the behind to say: Time to move on.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to Lydia for lending me this book.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Mondays #14: Arms by Christina Perri

This song is just a warm, cozy, cuddly song for a rainy Monday morning. Love her songs as the lyrics are often very honest and raw.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

Basic plot 

Mayor Penn Cage is disillusioned with his role, his hopes of bringing change to the town he grew up in seemed a lost cause when he realizes that being mayor does not mean he has everything under control. When his childhood friend tells him of an unspeakable evil that lurks just beneath the surface of the town, he can hardly believe it. Soon, not only is he force to take on these demons in human form but his life and those of the ones he love depend on it. A horrifying look at the dark side of blood sports and corruption, all in the name of greed and entertainment.

What I liked about this book

Once the plot started developing, the story ran at quite a good pace. The villains were suitably evil and the heroes not perfect but human and flawed. Good people that you root for to succeed. 

What I disliked about the book

Initially, it was a slow starter. The author tends to be a bit wordy, going to great lengths to describe certain things or people. Gambling, dog-fighting and prostitution is not really my cup of tea but it did open my eyes to the seedy underworld of casino towns.

A quote I liked from this book

I'm only the mayor. And no one knows better than I how little power I truly have.

Rating: 3.5/5


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Introducing ..Me!

The first year students had their Introduction to Pharmacology lecture today, given by Dr Anil. He also introduced the rest of the pharmacology lecturers (only 3 of us in the department right now). Had to stand in front of all the students so they could get a good look. 

Seems like a good batch, they asked many questions during the Q&A session (after a bit of coaxing and prodding from Dr Anil of course- I find students are always a bit apprehensive at first about asking questions). Hopefully will get to meet them all personally soon (as in give a lecture) but they won't be starting this subject until Block 3 (a few months to go). 

Am excited about lecturing but not sure if I will get the chance before starting my PhD, it all depends on my Masters viva. Looking forward to it :) In the mean time, my door (though as yet, still not labelled) is always open.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Mondays #13 : As time goes by by Rod Stuart & Chrissie Hynde

Some things never change ... at least I hope that they don't.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Taaruf Week: New beginnings and old memories

The Taaruf attire is still as unflattering as ever, a shade of brown that isn't quite brown or orange or bronze. But then it's been that way since the beginning of time, the only nice Taaruf colours are the ones the committee have on (a nice bright blue one this year). I see them walking in groups, with that somewhat lost expression on their faces, the Kuantan campus does seem vast and somewhat intimidating despite its beauty, even to me. 

I was one of them once not so long ago (okay, who am I kidding? It was aeons ago). I remember exactly how it felt finally stepping into medical school. Of course, back then it was a different and less impressive campus (Jalan Hospital Campus) but the feelings were most assuredly the same. The sense of trepidation mixed in with anticipation and spiced up with a tiny dash of hope interspersed with fear. 
I knew, as they all know, that life ...would never be the same again.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Music Mondays #12 : Senandung Hari Raya Untukmu by Dayang Ku Intan

First day back from the Raya holidays. Still trying to get into gear. Just wanted to share one of my favourite Raya songs (I love all the classics). This is such an upbeat song but has bittersweet lyrics. (For non-Malay speakers, it's about not being with a loved one during Eid celebration but sending love instead).

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 31- Arrival || Live blogging


Alhamdulillah, we arrived safely at KLIA in spite of flight delay & bad weather & seat allocation mix ups. Food on Firefly is really bad (I usually like plane food). I guess it's called low cost air travel for a reason. Glad to be (almost) home.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 30- Departure || Live blogging


At Kuching International Airport, we have a couple of hours yet before our flight. Time to say goodbye to Usu Izzat, Usu Zila & Umairah first. We'll be back InsyaAllah.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 29- Wet wet wet journey || Live blogging


We're on the way to Kuching airport today. It's been a good week, maybe not very exciting or amazing but spent with family & loved ones. It's been the longest holiday I've had in 9 years. We're adjusting, adapting and hopefully surviving. One day at a time.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 28- A chance to learn || Live blogging


We take alot for granted. A quiet place to study. Books to read. Someone to answer questions when we don't know the answer. Sometimes, all it takes, is a chance to learn.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 27- Kuching waterfront || Live blogging


We stopped off at Kuching waterfront to pick up Abah's franking machine (a manual embosser). We didn't get out of the car though since it was getting late & we needed to make another stop to buy supplies. Seems like we won't have time to go to Pasar Saratok, no Terubok Masin this time. Everyone is still on Raya leave anyway. Sigh.

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 26- Meow! || Live blogging


A museum full of cat statues, figurines, stuffed animals, pictures & posters. The kids loved it. I would have preferred real cats haha. PS: Kuching town is NOT named after cats. The Sarawakian word for cat is pusak. Kuching comes from a name of a ship that sailed to port a long time ago named "Kechiang" (or so says my dad). But Kuching authorities like cadhing in on the cat angle. Oh well, it amuses the kids at least :)

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 25- 4 little ducks || Live blogging


4 ducks off to Kuching today. Actually little Umairah can't come but she showed up for the photo shoot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011: Part 24- Re-stocking || Live blogging


Not much planned today. Initially we planned to go to Kuching, but since today is still a PH , we decided against it. So today is basically "doing nothing" & "play" day. Am sure the kids will be knocking on the door soon. My kids? They're off to re-stock on "mercun tahi kambing" (those tiny things that go pop on impact). One of the highlights of their Raya. Yes, kids are easily amused.


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