Sunday, 30 June 2013

Taking things for granted

Fresh air, clear blue skies, sun, rain, clean water running in your tap, electricity, friendship, health and so much more. Most of these are in our lives on a daily basis. It's part of who we are and are very important for our existence. Some more important than the other.

One good lesson I learnt while watching Rollie Pollie Ollie is, to always be thankful and show it. (yes! I watch cartoon because that's the only TV time I get and I share it with my kids). The sun decided not to come out because no one appreciated it in Rollie town. He (the sun) only returned when Ollie and his friends started thanking him for all that sunshine he gave which enabled them to go out and play.

We recently experienced the same situation. The sun didn't hide but got blocked by thick dangerous smog we call haze. It's an annual problem but this time it was pretty bad that it managed close down schools, companies and offices. We were advised to stay indoors.
The toll of not being able to go out was particularly hard on the kids. They felt imprisoned in their own house.

Luckily, it was over quick. By the 3rd day we could see clear blue skies and were rewarded with strong breeze. Not wanting to waste a minute we dashed to our daily sanctuary; park close by. What we saw was a sight to behold. The park was crowded! More than usual. I guess my kids and I weren't the only feeling the grunt of the haze.

It was definitely a bonus day because the sky was filled with many colourful and shapes of kites.
My youngest could not take her eyes off these kites. The look she had on her was hard to explain but I strongly believe it was a look of bewilderment. She has never seen it before. Even I have never experienced a skyline like this before!

Like Dash, Mr. Incredible's son, we darted back into the house, armed ourselves with a big tumbler of iced cold water and dived into our minivan.
A quick 5 minutes drive and we were greeted by this!

Not wanting to miss the action, my kids got themselves a kite too. Not one of the finest but it did it's magic.
Sad to say, I am no good at flying kites. After a couple of 'almost there' attempts, I was voted out. I left the kite flying to my husband and found a nice spot to lie down on the lush green grass and admired a theatrical display of 'kites gone wild' in the sky.

There were kites as big as 50 feet long! The huge one had to be tied to a tree trunk. It is not possible to hold the string, like an ordinary kite because a strong gush of wind will sweep the man holding it, off his feet! Now that's a sight to see. Imagine, instead of a man flying a kite, the kite is flying the man!
These kites come with a hefty price tag too-a couple of thousand ringgit!

We stayed till dusk and watched them meticulously roll away these big enormous kites.
It's just too much work (in my personal opinion) but I guess if you pay that price you better darn make sure it doesn't get punctured or get the strings tangled up.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Heaven on Earth vs. Haze

It's been over 24 hours. My kids and I have not left the house nor did I let any fresh air circulate into the house. (How could I? The air outside was so hazy and smelled like smoke)

My usual drill; opening all windows early in the morning to let in some fresh air has been curtailed thanks to the haze!
Thanks to the multi-million dollars companies, who decided to take short-cuts in clearing forests by setting it on fire for their cultivation!
Thanks to all these, there is a price tag for breathing fresh air!-air purifiers
Haze in my neighbourhood

First, it was bottled water and now it's air-purifiers! Soon it will be air in a bottle!

All was fine up to 4 pm today but by 7 pm, I began feeling a little light headed and a little disoriented. I caught myself looking at the microwave oven and figuring out how to add minutes to heat up my curry.
Even my youngest was cranky.

Preparing dinner was a challenge because she wanted to be carried, all the time! My thoughts were so hazy that it didn't even cross my mind to carry her in my carrier. Instead, I tried reasoning with her by telling her that I could not carry her because I needed both my hands to roll chapati.. I even demonstrated to her how I roll the chapatis! All she did was cry and was so inconsolable after that.

I did everything I could, to ensure my kids didn't fall prey to the unforgiving haze.
I made fresh fruit juice, high in vitamin C and kept them well hydrated with a lot of water by playing a game of "Who can beat my score". The person with the highest number of cups of water would be rewarded.

I quickly dished out dinner and cajoled them to eat fast. There was no room for our usual dinner chat.
Within half hour, they were sent up to my room with the air-conditioner cranked up, hoping the air there would be much lighter and fresher than that I was experiencing in my living room.

Once in bed, we felt better. The laughter immediately took over the crankiness. Even the youngest went about playing with her toys and became less clingy. It felt so good not having them clamouring all over me.

That's when I decided to go to my digital world which is my nightly escape. Saw some of my weekend gateway pictures. The haze had clouded my thoughts so much that I had forgotten about this gateway which happened just 36 hours ago! Oh, how I wish I had stayed longer (I would have, if I had the foresight that state government was to announce, all schools to be closed due to the haze).

Perhaps, this could be a reason why my youngest was so cranky earlier. She had a blast at the waterfalls despite the cold freezing water. It was so good that we visited it twice over the short weekend.

The first, was with my sister's kids. The second, with my brother's kids. The kids got braver and ventured further by climbing up rocks and diving into the cold water. Luckily for us, this waterfall is located just an hour's drive from the city. 

As for me, I just wanted my free spa-natural jacuzzi. It was brilliant! Imagine having hundreds of tiny hands massaging your body and head, while listening to the gushing water and children's laughter. 

The gateway was so good that we have decided to mark it in our calendar and try to do this once every month. I get to visit my sister and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer which is so close to her place!

I can't stop looking at these pictures!

Chilling at Chilling Waterfalls

The first dip is the hardest! Water was freezing cold!

brrrrrr....too cold but I like

trying to keep warm by staying out of the water

Scenic view

everyone's initial reaction

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Pregnancy brain

I have realised that keeping tabs on 'where I did put that' is quite tough. I am not making a big deal out of it because I tell myself that "I am still recovering from pregnancy brain." It's either that, or I am losing my mind!

I am still "new" to this full-time mummy or glamourously known as SAHM (stay at home mom) despite being at it for 2 years.

It is the toughest job ever because there is no structure and system or at least, I am not with one. During my working life (employement), I had a certain KPIs (Key Performance Index) and all I had to do was, perform.

Now I am everything.

I am a doctor and a nurse
because I am miss know it all  and oddly enough, at most times I do.
I am a 5 star chef
because I need to cater and prepare a variety of dishes to meet my family's gastranomical diet.
I am a driver
because I ferry my kids from school
I am a tutor
because of the tons of homework, homework, homework!
I am a cleaner
Oh, lets not go there! It would require a whole new post to explain what constitutes cleaning here.

Pregnancy brain.....ah yes! That's what I am suppose to be talking about but here I am rambling about something completely different.
So as I was saying, I am still recovering from it and think, I have a long way to go before I can be a 100%.
Got to run and ferry my kids from school.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Jack of all trades, master of none.

I have a tendency to do things without thinking it over (thoroughly). I dive straight in and get so involved that I sometimes ignore my surrounding. 

Some of these 'trades':
  • Online trading - when I was pregnant with my first child, I became an ebay junkie. Working the graveyard shift to beat other potential bidders because I was hooked to the UK ebay. I was so convinced that my life as a new mother would only be perfect if I had certain baby items. It was such an arduous process-bidding, paying, arranging for delivery, returning faulty goods and so much more, that when child #2 came I didn't dare activate my account.
  • Second hand good's trading- after coming to terms that there was not going to a child #3, I began listing my baby and maternity goods. The process of listing was harder than when I was buying. Took me days to list these items and every little unused item in the house suddenly became interesting to sell. To my amazement, I did quite well. I guess I must have been a good salesperson (or perhaps it was the huge discounts offered). 
  • Baking-when I decided to stay at home in 2011, life was very boring especially when my kids were at school. To occupy myself I turned to baking cakes which helped and time passed me by quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed baking these cakes despite the work it involved.
    made this for my daughter's God parents' 10h anniversary

Most of these have now been put on hold because baby #3 requires a lot of attention. 

Old habits die hard.

Despite struggling with time management, I have once again taken up a new task.
This time I volunteered to spearhead a fruits group buy.
Seeing how others were getting lovely, plump and juicy fresh fruits, my envy got the best of me.
To my surprise I wasn't alone because there were many more from my neighbourhood who wanted it too.
Armed with enough information and a reliable fruit supplier, I made my first bulk order.
The fruits were amazing and juicy as promised.
Some of the boxes from the group buy

The sorting.

It was overwhelming to see so many boxes and cartons of fresh fruits. The sweet scent coming from these boxes, beckoned me to open and devour them right then but I had to put my little ones to bed before I could begin sorting. It was a blazing hot day and I didn't want that to ruin these fresh produce. Working at lightening speed, I managed to sort these fruits.
Little did I know that my lightening speed wasn't fast enough because it took me more than a couple of hours! Yet, as long as I managed to do it while my side kicks were napping, was good. 
Once they arose from their nap, it was fun watching their awe-stricken faces! The youngest one, who loves blueberries couldn't help herself from picking up as many punnet of blueberries as possible. She also managed to mix up the fruits from one box to the other.
The last box left box my house at 10.30pm and only then did I give out, a big and loud sigh of relief with a big smile on my face while munching on my flat peach from Turkey.
Was it tough? Yes, it was. 
Will I do it again? Yes, I will because it's worth it! To see my children enjoying these fruits and because it is a much better snack than my chocolates and crackers.

Enjoying her flat peach

Darn it! I missed my evening cuppa of coffee.

8th birthday party cake

for a surprise party

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Three is a stressful number

'Three is a Stressful Number', was a recent topic on an online parenting portal about life with three children.
I dropped everything I was doing and devoted the little free time I had to reading this article.

My initial reaction after reading it was that I am doomed because I have three kids! This doesn't bode well for my sanity, so I began devising a plan to tell my husband that we needed another child. You see, I knew he would disagree with me. This is because during my last pregnancy, I wasn't one of those 'sassy', 'stylish' and had-it-all-together pregnant ladies. I was more of a slob and full of complaints.-"Ohhhhh why did you get me pregnant?! When is this baby coming out of me?! I can't cook and function when I am like this! Leave me alone!" (the list of complaints was inexhaustible).

Everything changed once I had my little princess in my arms. In fact, I have never been calmer before. 
I guess three's a charm because I am more laid back and don't fuss over every small detail like I used to. I must admit that it took a while for me to get where I am now. 

When I first returned home with my newborn, it was tough because it was the start of school term. My 2nd princess, who had just graduated from her pre-school was to start her primary level. Luckily for me, she didn't require much from me to get ready for school. I think this has a lot to do with her independent character. It took some adjusting and life with three kids got better with every passing day.

Before baby #3:

  • I used to peel and cut grapes into quarters but nowadays it's, "the skin is good and full of nutrients".
  • I used to diligently cook up a storm and store these special baby purees in the freezer but nowadays she eats what I eat and sometimes I turn to my back-up baby food supply (which I have had to replenish many times) 
  • It was like clock works, ensuring she is fed the right amount and at the right time but nowadays she decides what she wants and when she wants to eat (luckily for me she snacks a lot on dried and fresh fruits).
With baby #3

  • I didn't bother getting a baby cot and opted to share my bed with her (oh! the pleasures of bed-sharing)
  • I managed to exclusively breastfeed her, so there was no more fussing over sterilising the bottles and getting up in the middle of the night, working like a lab assistant-measuring the right amount of water and carefully scooping the formula into the bottle. Making sure it's not too warm and the teats were in good working condition. 
  • I rediscovered the joys of babywearing and it is truly beneficial because baby #3 is very calm and a fuss free child.

So, to say that 3 is a stressful number may not be entirely true for me.

After having baby #3, I have never yearned for another baby like I do now but I think I am done with being pregnant again.

This article was featured in Parenthots

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Linking with Writing, Wishing and These little waves for Memories Captured

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Do as I say and not as I do.

"Don't hit her back!" I reprimanded my eldest daughter and tried explaining to her, how her baby sister is too young to understand what's wrong or right. Also, she would think hitting is acceptable because her elder sister is doing it.
I felt so wise and continued pouring my "wisdom" onto her.
At the end of the long lecture, she tells me not to be angry with her if she screams (I am guilty of screaming, a lot!)
That was bummer. All I could afford was a lame smile.
This got me thinking. All that I dislike my children doing is somehow my fault. It has to be because apart from school they don't speed an awful lot of time elsewhere.
My daughter is only 6 and all these years I was her first and most important teacher.
It's widely
known that children need role models and heroes to emulate and to for identifications. Hence we often hear ourselves saying; "What you see is what you get." or (mid-western quote) “You can’t pick corn if you planted taters.”
While searching for an answer to mend this issue, I came across an interesting write-up. Sharing an excerpt from it;
The instinct to emulate is the strongest characteristic of human nature. This too is a very useful and valuable trait. This helps the child to progress with its learning process like eating, dressing, speaking and other societal happenings in the environment. The human being is a natural mimic and keeps doing it throughout his life but children till the age of around five years do this more. For a long time the faculties of the child are not so developed that it is not able to decide the course of action by itself. In this period it emulates what the parents and others do in front of him.


BUT. Why is it that they, have not developed a habit to clean up after their mess or put their clothes into the laundry basket? Or even use a plate when they are snacking. I do this, all the time and they have seen me doing it.
Is it selective emulations, my kids have developed? Just like how they tend to switch-off when I switch-on my nagging mode because it truly seems like it.
Looks like, this shall remain a mystery until the day I decode it.

So, the next time if I see something I don't like, I need to sit back and reflect because they could be doing what I DO.

I am their window to the outside world and their behaviour should echo my upbringing.
Time to be more prudent. Next, when shake my head or give them the disapproved and disappointed look, it should be aimed, right back at me! 

Remember, when you point one finger at someone, four other fingers are pointing right back at you!

Also featured in The Star

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Friday, 7 June 2013

Cancer - It's Not an Irrecoverable Condition!

Updated 14th October 2014. Her cancer which we thought was cleared returned after a year. You can find out more in how do you say goodbye (post)

Cancer used to be a very scary and dreaded topic. In the past, if you hear someone has been diagnosed with cancer you feel terrible for them as though they have contracted an irrecoverable diseases. No one can be blamed to think so because there weren't many survivors in the past.

With the advancement of medical technology, mankind has conquered this disease.
Nowadays, if one has been diagnosed with cancer which attacks even the healthiest person, has nothing to fear if detected early.

I share with you a personal story.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2012, at about the same time I was to deliver my third addition to our very own Charlie's Angels.
My husband was devastated with the news but he wouldn't admit it. I guess there is a stigma associated with cancer which strongly looms but the person diagnosed with it, was cool as a cucumber. She didn't worry at all, despite being told that she had 3rd stage breast cancer.

Her reason behind this is that she has seen so many of her friends who had experienced the same thing and triumphed in defeating the diseases.

She also attributed it to her luck in being able to get a very quick surgery.
Time is a very treacherous thing when you are diagnosed with such disease. When you have too much time on your hands, your thoughts will tend to wonder in dangerous territories, thinking of all the 'what ifs'.

However that wasn't the case for her because she managed to successfully have her mastectomy by March 2012. The major life changing part was over quick, not giving her much time to imagine how her body would feel with this sudden change. She agreed it was a good thing. In fact her recovery was quick too. She was up and walking hours after the surgery and couldn't wait to return home. She felt no pain and didn't need any pain killers throughout the 7 days recovery. She even managed to go for a short holiday to Burma on her 10th day after the surgery.

Things were a little different though, during her chemotherapy which lasted 8 months. She is very used to being on her feet and always moving about like a hard working ant looking for mess to tidy, food to salvage from the fridge before it goes rotten and so much more. So, when she first returned from her chemotherapy it was very hard on her to accept the 'no-energy' and lethargy. The inability to eat much also made her a little depressed and angry. She mostly survived on fruit juices and loads of protein.

It helped a lot that she had a good support system around her. Her friends took turns to drop by and say their hello's. Some of them even brought the food she wanted which varied a lot because chemotherapy left a very metallic taste and she became a picky eater, A family-friend doctor, whom we call mamaji (mother's brother) chipped-in by getting her physically ready for all her chemotherapy appointments. For every single need she had during her recovery stage, there was someone willing to assist.

She told me that being aware is very important because had she not known about her 'adopted' sister's battle with breast cancer, she wouldn't have done a self breast examination and discovered her lump.

Tomorrow 8th of June she will be celebrating her birthday by spending 2 weeks in Eastern Europe with her husband and some friends.
The kids and I have planned a surprise breakfast in bed for her.

 "Go ahead, share my story" she said when I asked if she was willing because you never know who might benefit from it.

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A health awareness program by Ms. Harnesh Kaur the reigning Miss Malaysia India (2013), Are you in the Pink of Health will be in town! Don't miss this opportunity to be part of it and get ready to be bombarded with very useful information not only for yourself but for your loved ones too. Be their beacon of hope by showing them you know everything there is to be known.

The event:

Link of those participating in this cause:

Some useful information:

  • Worldwide scene

View the map below to see how your country is impacted by breast cancer (pink being the highest per capita):
World Wide Breast Cancer Map
Source: American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, 2005-2006.
  • Local scene
In Malaysia, reported by The Star: click here for the story


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

How do you improve your memory?

Before the arrival of our newest adorable member, I had loads of time to sit and play proper board games with my two elder daughters. The best so far is the game where we find matching pairs of cards. We used to jumble up about 40 cards and arrange them in rows of 10, with the pictures facing down. 

Each player would take a turn to flip over two cards and if both cards are a matching pair, it would be taken by that player. If not, the cards would be put back facing down for the next player to do the same.

My kids would make up a story as they went along flipping over the cards, to remember which animal was under each card. 

The player with the most matching pairs wins.

However, this game takes a bit of time to complete and with a new baby in the house it is tough to play it to the end. Now I use my surroundings to help sharpen this skill. 

Every day en route to school and back, I get my children to play a sequencing numbers game (I get to kill three birds with one stone). This game not only tests their memory, it also sharpens their listening skill and helps them master the times table.

I read out a list of numbers once, which they must listen to carefully and repeat in the same sequence. I usually use numbers from the times table. For example, five, 10, 15, 20, 25.

Some days, when they get bored of sequencing numbers, we switch to “tell me about your surroundings”. The objective of this game is to get them to be aware and alert.

While driving back from school, I get them to describe to me what their school guard looks like and to describe his clothes. Every day, I pick a different person or car for them to describe.

So far, this has been a good exercise for them and me. I find that I have become so much better at managing my own forgetfulness. I hope my exercise will benefit you, too.
Good game to improve logic & memory

This article won the April's Win A Puzzle by BRAINet featured in ParenThots 

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Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.

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