Thursday, October 27, 2011

October babies, kiwis & discussions

How many kids does it take to make a bed?

It's been a packed and eventful day so far. We started the morning with the kids taking an active role in helping me to keep the house as neat and tidy as possible. Since it is essentially our first day back on our own. Hopefully, we'll be able (read: I will be able) to manage without too much trouble for the time being.

He didn't want Ben 10!

Just before heading off for school, a very special delivery arrived. It was Yousof's moist chocolate cake for the IIUM Educare, October babies birthday celebration. It looked awesome, though sadly I won't be able to taste it since he will only be slicing the cake at school. Thanks to Zaireen from D'Bak Sensations :)

Wait for it...

Educare birthday celebration. Photo from Tengku Nahdatul Azlin's FB.

The kids were all dressed in their New Zealand t-shirts courtesy of TokWan and TokKi's recent trip. Hopefully one day, we'll all get to go there to see the amazing scenery for ourselves. Their holiday photos looked incredible.


Today, I substituted for another lecturer for a Y2 Case Discussion. To be honest, this was my first time conducting one or even participating in one since we never had a slot for Case Discussions when I was in medical school. It was essentially discussing certain important and relevant points based on a given scenario. Today's topic was "Cardivascular response to exercise". A purely physiological discussion. Gulp. Many of the details, I had not read in over 10 years. Thank God for good basics. Though I was even luckier to get a group that was very well prepared. They discussed the topics very well and hardly missed a step even when I asked them to utilize the whiteboard to explain their answers. Basically, they taught themselves with a little nudge from me. If they continue at that level, I have no worries that they will do well in their upcoming End Block Exam.

They said they take pictures with their lecturers after every session. Pulling my leg?? Hehe

The morning was rounded off with a seminar on Birth and postnatal care. I can only imagine what these pre-clinical students felt when watching the birthing videos. Truly, giving birth to another human being is an extraordinary event. Allah in His Wisdom made women strong enough not only to survive childbirth but to then be able to nurture a baby into adulthood. Hopefully, I was able to impart some of my personal experiences (mother of three, hello) to them. It always amazes me how quickly a beautiful, healthy baby can make us forget excruciating pain. Even before they experience firsthand the wonders of having their own children, they will soon be able to take part in this miracle of life when they step foot in the labour room. One of my favourite postings both during medical school and housemanship was O&G. It's a grand feeling to help bring beautiful babies into this world. 

Hopefully the second half of the day will be as productive and stimulating.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Basic plot

Anna, Claire and Coop live on a farm in Northern California with their stern no-nonsense father. Their family is not like anyone else as none of them are actually related. Tragedy brought them together and tragedy drove them apart. Though, the trouble with family is, no matter how much distance and time passes, nothing can make them forget.

What I liked about this book

The language is definitely beautiful. Each character and scene painted with the a deft hand and vivid colours. 

What I disliked about the book

Personally, I think the book lacks continuity and fluidity that could have made it incredible. I found it difficult to relate to the main characters and their journeys especially after they separated from each other. Perhaps, it was beauty over substance.

A quote I liked from the book

We have become unintelligible in our secrets, governed by our previous selves. 
Rating: 3/5


Monday, October 24, 2011

Lies and secret babies

I had to send my maid back yesterday. After 2 wonderful months of having someone help me around the house with the housework so I could spend more time with the kids, tragedy struck. I found out that she was almost 6 months pregnant. Unbelievable! Seems that when she came to work for us, she was already 3 months pregnant but for some unfathomable reason, she thought that it would not be detected. 

It is true what they say, you can never see something if your brain does not think it. The thought of someone hiding a pregnancy never crossed my mind and therefore I was totally blindsided. It was quite a shock to me when the FOMEMA panel approved doctor called me into her clinic to inform me.

There were no big fireworks (though I was pretty upset- mostly because of the betrayal and the thought of having to do everything by myself again but all tears were shed alone- I refused to cry or get angry in front of her), I did not quiz her as to why she knowingly came here even though she was with child or why she was begging me not to tell her family back home. Why and how she became pregnant is none of my business, that is between her, her family and Allah. 

My parents were even more forgiving than me. My father said, we have to just accept this unfortunate news as fate. There was no point in being angry, despite the substantial amount of money we had spent. He also reminded me that people in poverty can do such things as acts of desperation and we cannot judge her since we are fortunate enough not to be in her situation.

She was a hard-worker and her help was invaluable. For this, I am very sad to lose her. However, I had no choice but to send her back immediately since FOMEMA would never approve a pregnant maid and I could not risk anything happen to her or her unborn child while under my roof. 

So for now, it will just be us again. Ya Allah give me strength to do the best I can for my children. Amin.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So THIS is the East Coast Mall

Off to paint Kuantan RED

I've been in Kuantan for almost 4 months now but sadly, I have not had the chance to explore much of it. Until very recently, the only places I have been to includes work, home and Giant. So last weekend, I decided to finally see a little more of this city.

 With a hand-drawn map in one hand courtesy of my colleague, we set of to find the East Coast Mall. It is the biggest shopping mall that Kuantan has to offer. My first thoughts upon entering the large building was, "no wonder everybody has been telling me to go". It had the usual mall offerings, shops (I didn't get to survey properly but there seemed to be a good selection), eateries (Black Canyon, Chicken Rice Shop, KFC, Pizza Hut Baskin Robbins, Starbucks, Rotiboy) and a decent sized Parkson. Parking is quite cheap (RM1 per entry on weekdays and RM 2 on weekends).

I wanna go home and play

We made a beeline straight for Parkson. I wanted to buy the kids some toys. It was Yousof's birthday recently but as any parent knows, you can't walk into a toy section with 3 kids and come out with 1 toy. Impossible. 

We chose some great (yet affordable), stimulating toys. A basic Lego set, a 60 piece puzzle set and a Snakes & Ladders board game. So armed with a "present" each, my kids were grinning from ear to ear. Lunch was at the Chicken Rice Shop since I was trying to stay away from fast food (they've had their quota for this month) and we stopped by Big Apple to buy a box of doughnuts for tea.

The kids enjoyed their simple toys immensely and I was so glad. The next day, we went shopping for groceries and the kids had a playdate to share their new toys. It was a nice weekend.

Doughnuts to end the day

Monday, October 17, 2011

Music Mondays #16: It must have been love by Roxette

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, October 13, 2011

First encounter - My first PBL session

Ever since I reported for duty 2 months ago, I have not actually had much contact with the students. This is because, I am sort of in "no man's land" while waiting for my Masters viva and subsequently registering for my PhD. Therefore, I am almost an anonymous entity walking the corridors of IIUM Kuantan campus sans the spooky music and levitating, of course. 

Yesterday however, I had my very first encounter with actual students. I was asked to stand in as a last minute replacement to handle a PBL (problem based learning) session for the 2nd Year Medical Students. PBLs are part of the medical syllabus where small groups of students are given a clinical scenario and problems which they have to discuss and subsequently reach a diagnosis. PBLs are an interactive and interesting way to encourage good thought process, correlate lectures with real situations and also hone presentation skills. I spent the morning refreshing my memory going over the case and making sure that my basic knowledge was up to par (we all get a bit rusty at times, usually by the time we graduate, work and further our studies, the minute details we learned ten years ago are not as fresh in our minds as they are in those of students who just heard that lecture a few days ago). 

The students were surprised to see me, probably because they had no idea who I was. I broke the ice by introducing myself and telling them that I too was literally once in their shoes. In fact since they are currently the 14th batch of IIUM medical students, I am exactly 10 years their senior (gosh! I feel so old). I also came armed with a bribe, sweets to be used only in emergencies such as an irrepressible urge to fall asleep. 

Initially, they were very timid but after a while, they started coming out of their shells, asking questions to each other and me. I tried to tie in what we were learning with real situations I had faced before in the hospital when dealing with patients, not only to make the session more interesting but to show that stuff we learn in a little room on an overcast Wednesday afternoon can actually serve them well when they become doctors themselves. So instead of just a straightforward and mundane series of presentations, we had demonstrations, questions, anecdotes, lame jokes (mostly from me) and all in all a good learning experience. 

I ended the session by telling them how much I used to enjoy my PBLs when I was a medical student because I was fortunate enough to have a great group, great lecturers and we fully utilized our PBLs by making them as interactive, informative and even fun as we could. 

I hope the students had as beneficial a session as I did. Maybe I am a bit more unconventional then they are used to, hopefully I didn't scare them haha. Am looking forward to next week. I wonder how they will feel when they see that it's me again ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Yousof!

6 years old today

My first born child. A sensitive, caring, smart, kind, loving, good boy. A patient elder brother to his siblings. He always knows when I am sad and is happiest when I am happy. May you grow up to be the best that you can be. 


Monday, October 10, 2011

Music Mondays #15: Runaway by The Corrs

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, October 8, 2011

Green thumbs

We're fortunate enough to own a house with a little patch of land, but unfortunately, I have yet to get anything to grow on it besides grass (and weeds of course). Since my parents are in Kuantan for the weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to right this wrong. So, early this morning we set off in search for some trees and flowers to help brighten up our little garden.

I left all the decisions and designing to my father, he is a landscape architect by profession after all. I love looking at other people's well kept gardens but am hopeless at picking out trees suited to the climate or imagining how different shrubs can be organized to make a garden look amazing.

Hamzah with the nursery owner

The kids were excited. They loved helping out their grandfather to clear the garden. After a short trip to several nearby nurseries, we came back home with a car full of plants, grass and dirt. The kids insisted that the trees be planted right away and enjoyed planting each one. We all know how much kids love playing with dirt don't we?

Our first tree!

Hopefully the garden will grow, the trees flourish and the flowers bloom. Just a few plants for now, but slowly, with adequate nurturing and care, anything can become something beautiful.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How will I know ? by Sheila O'Flanagan

Basic plot

Claire and Bill Hudson have been soulmates since they were 5 years old . They went through life together, loved each other and planned to spend the rest of their lives together. Their daughter Georgia completed the almost fairy-tale picture of perfect happiness. That is until, a tragic accident leaves Claire and Georgia alone without the most important man in their lives. Years later, Claire is still trying to cope, to forget, to live but is at a loss when her now teenage daughter asks her for advice on boys. Her relationship with Bill had been simple and straightforward, she knows nothing about dating and the usual teenage angst. Claire decides to take a radical approach by throwing herself into the strange world of dating, all in the name of research of course, in order to better answer her young daughter's queries. What results is a funny string of events involving blind dates, David Beckham look-alikes and grumpy gardeners. 

What I liked about this book

I have often stressed that I am not a fan of chick lit. However, since I have previously read Ms O'Flanagan's book (Isobel's Wedding), I knew that her books were not run of the mill fluffy female fodder. This book was sweet, funny and very heartwarming. The supporting characters were also very interesting and added colour to the story. It was a very pleasant read.

What I disliked about this book

In some instances, I felt Claire was slightly one-dimensional compared to the other people around her, which was strange as she was the main character. I wished that I could have empathized with her more, perhaps had a stronger sense of her relationship with Bill who also could have used more layers. I would have preferred the story to focus more on them and Georgia's relationship with her father plus the subsequent dating experiments as opposed to frequent trips to address the best friend's marriage troubles.

A quote I liked from the book

The nice men are ugly. The handsome men are not nice. The handsome and nice men are gay. The handsome, nice and heterosexual men are married. The men who are not so handsome, but are nice men, have no money. The men who are not so handsome, but are nice men with money, think we are only after their money. The handsome men without money are after our money. The handsome men who are not so nice and somewhat heterosexual don't think we are beautiful enough. The men who think we are beautiful, that are heterosexual, somewhat nice and have money are pigs. The men who are somewhat handsome, somewhat nice and have some money thank GOD are heterosexual are shy and NEVER MAKE THE FIRST MOVE! The men who never make the first move automatically lose the interest in us when we take the initiative. NOW, WHO IN THE WORLD UNDERSTAND MEN? Men are like afine wine.They all start out like grapes, and it's our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd like to have dinner with.
Rating: 4/5


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shattered stream

This morning as I was preparing for the drive back to Kuantan, our neighbour knocked on the door with some devastating news. It seems that my car had been broken into during the night. I was shocked and understandably very distressed. When I went to survey the damage, my heart sank. The vandal/low-life/thief had smashed both front windows and ripped up the car dashboard to try and steal the car radio. Despite the level of destruction, he was not even successful in doing that. Even if he had managed to do it, how much could he have fenced it for? Not more than a few ringgit, surely. What was most surprising was that despite the damage, the alarm did not go off or if it did, nobody heard it.

Since my parents had to rush out to attend an important event, I was left to settle things by myself. I decided to snap a few pictures first before going to the police station to file a report. As I took the photos, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a wave of despair. I needed the car, to drive back to Kuantan, to go to work, to send the kids to school. So I sat down on the curb and cried. A passing motorcyclist stopped and asked me if I was ok. Even though I told him that I was fine, and it was just the car, he did not want to leave me there alone. He said that there have been cases before where upon seeing women in distress, criminals will then mug them. He told me not to worry and called the police to send a patrol car.

A young couple who were jogging past also stopped and kept me company. In fact, when they found out that I was alone and had to go to the police station, they accompanied me and stayed throughout the whole process until my car was safely in the workshop. They were a couple years younger than me and very recently (3 weeks) married and I had never met them before. Both Shahrul & Akmam & the nice man who was just on his way home from the market (who I didn't even have the chance to ask his name though he stayed until we went to the police station) were total strangers but they were kind enough to help a fellow human being in distress. For that, I am very grateful. 

There is no denying that I am deeply saddened by what happened but InsyaAllah this is a lesson in patience.


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