Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008


Before I forget, I'd like to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope your 2007 was good and your 2008 will be great!

Polar lights

In areas near the north and south poles, you are able to see different coloured lights at night in the sky. They are called auroras (or aurorae). The northern lights are called aurora borealis while the southern lights are known as aurora australis.

I've known about these lights but never really got around to learning more about them until aurora australis was featured in the Disney movie, Eight Below. Since Christmas, Caitlin has been averaging a dozen views a day of this movie and has practically memorised all her favourite scenes and lines.

As usual, Wikipedia has been my most convenient source of information and it gives a good description and information on the origin of auroras and other details.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Six months later

Caitlin has been learning the drums for six months now and has progressed quite well compared to when she first started.

This was taken a few days ago when she was practising.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Life is a highway

I'm rediscovering the value and effects of music to the soul. Caitlin is currently watching "Cars" on Disney Channel. This is the theme song sung by Rascal Flatts:



Life is a Highway

Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won't hesitate to break down the garden gate
There's not much time left today

CHORUS:
Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I want to drive it all night long

Through all these cities and all these towns
It's in my blood and it's all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver's lights
Knock me down get back up again
You're in my blood I'm not a lonely man

There's no load I can't hold
Road so rough, this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Tell 'em we're survivors

[CHORUS x2]

There was a distance between you and I
A misunderstanding once but now
We look it in the eye

There ain't no load that I can't hold
Road so rough this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Tell 'em we're survivors

[CHORUS x3]

From: "Cars" the Disney movie

Most posts this month

I just went through my archives and realised that this month, I actually broke my record number of posts ever since I started blogging. As at today I have hit 27 posts this month compared to 20 last month and less in the months before....Having Caitlin at home this school holidays must be stressing me out more for me to escape here!

Happy Christmas to all!

To all our family and friends - wishing you a meaningful Christmas. Also, a happy and fruitful 2008.

Here's a song (or rather lyrics only!) for you:

My Wish

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

This is my wish
I hope you know somebody loves you
May all your dreams stay big

- Rascal Flatts

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

I'm another year older physically today, but mentally, I still feel the same like at least ten years ago. Physically, the skin has become less smooth (probably more lines developing!), a few strands of grey has started sprouting (that's why I just coloured my hair), joint and muscle aches are more frequent,....ok I'm revealing too much!

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Caitlin and Eugene this afternoon when I returned home from some last-minute shopping. As you can tell from the picture, the choice of cake was Caitlin's, (gaudy)rainbow colours with Hello Kitty and Ultraman! And the birthday banner was her idea too, with Eugene's help of course.

Thanks my best pals!!



Friday, December 21, 2007

Last minute again

It's three more days to Christmas and we have yet to get presents for some family members...Looks like every year is the same. There is always some last-minute shopping to be done. We normally start early enough but somehow get stuck along the way because Eugene just has to take his time to find the perfect presents. This is probably the only time every year when he is more of a perfectionist than me....

(sung to Jingle Bells)
Dashing through the shops, in a rush to get presents
Wondering what to get, for everyone we love
Is it this or that, for friends, and mum and dad
Oh what stress it is to get these gifts, and make sure they are right

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what stress it is to shop
'Tis only three days away!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Certain Sadness

Eugene recently replaced the cassette player in my car with a CD player. It was what's left to remind him of his Cookie RX7 Monster which he reluctantly parted with sometime mid this year. Now I can listen more to my CDs which have been collecting dust for quite a long time. This afternoon I played Astrud Gilberto on my way home from getting lunch from a nearby shop.

It had just rained and track number five somehow struck a chord in me to turn up the volume a little so that I could appreciate the lyrics. It was refreshing to hear a familiar beautiful voice singing and the soothing sounds of the guitar, piano and percussions in the background.



Look out the window when that rain storms
I let the wind blow up a brain storm
and now I'm wondering whether weather like this gets you too

It may go on like this for hours
Too late in Fall for April showers
So what we got here
Got a thought or two
I need to share with you

Here goes

Darling tell me now
Have I done wrong somehow
That you won't look at me

It is pointed out
Can't keep my wits about
When you won't look at me

Is there something I outta know
You're finding hard to say
Well there's just a trace
Hiding on your face
And I learned it that way

Just another soul
That really knows my soul
And you won't look at me

Does that take the prize
How much I love those eyes
and they won't look at me

Now the rain has gone
But something lingers on
There's certain sadness here
Now that the sky is clear

And it's so so clear
yes, it's all so clear
To me now

And I can't help but feel
That certain sadness's here
To stay


- sung by Astrud Gilberto

Be open

I sometimes wonder why people are not able to say what they really think, especially people in my part of the world and culture. This 'saving face', respect for elders, etc practice just gets me frustrated at times, when people don't know how to say 'no' or avoid confrontation by changing or avoiding the subject, postponing a response, giving excuses etc. It could be as simple as an invitation to an event, or a request to consider an idea. It sometimes gets worse if you press them a little further for a proper, definitive answer.

What's more irritating is that after this, they go behind your back and gossip about the issue with other people, without even having gotten the full facts simply because they were not open to listening and/or thought they knew better. Or they accuse you in your face with some unreasonable accusation.

I don't see anything wrong in saying 'no' or giving your honest opinion. It must however be arrived at after gaining proper knowledge and understanding i.e. an educated and fair opinion. I believe if it is done tactfully, politely, there is no reason for the person to feel offended, more so if he is a friend or close one. He would understand and respect the other's opinion/decision.

I'd prefer the person to speak his mind (reasonably, objectively, rationally) so that I can understand his thoughts and feelings better.

I have been a culprit of this too. I guess we who have been 'nurtured' in this Asian environment somehow tend to do it more than others. From young, children were to be seen and not heard. At school, you speak only when you are spoken too. You get scolded, belittled or worse still punished, if you were to offer your ideas or thoughts. We are spoonfed with information and learn by rote. We are not encouraged to question, discover, explore independently.

On the subject of respect, it is good that we are taught to respect our elders. But how can one learn respect when it is not mutual? Some people view respect as listening, obeying, following their instructions and ideas without consideration of new/alternative ideas or opinions. How can one expect respect if one does not first show respect?

OPEN communication and OPEN minds, that's what I'm all for.

“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.”

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

- E. B. White (American writer 1899-1985)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Inspiring


A good friend sent me this video clip. Watch it if you need to be motivated, inspired, comforted....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Caitlin's stories

I have started a new blog to keep a record of the stories told by Caitlin. It's called Caitlin's Stories. It is open to invited readers only.

Discovering the blogging community


The blogging community is amazingly huge! I've just joined MyBlogLog and wish I have more time to explore and learn new things about what the blogging world can offer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

To be (employed) or not to be, that is the question!

Caveat: This is a rather rambly and probably disjointed piece of random thoughts so if you are not interested in my personal opinion, please skip this post. All illustrations or examples mentioned do not refer to anyone in particular.

I received a call from someone who works in a hiring department of a prominent financial institution this afternoon. They were looking for someone to head their Corporate Communication department and wanted to consider me. I passed on the opportunity. The position comes with a five-figure monthly salary and the responsibility equivalent to that, reporting directly to the Group CEO.

Five years ago, I would have jumped at it. For now, I hesitate at the thought of:
1. having to become a 'rat' again and join the race to help the employer fatten its pot of gold
2.getting up in the morning, skipping breakfast to join the traffic jam to reach the office
3. worrying if my five-year-old is really in the good hands of hired help, especially if she, being mildly asthmatic, is sick
4. having to be responsible for the entire company's public image and communication functions
5. having to 'report' to a boss
6. missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime moments with my daughter and family

The list can go on but I shall stop. I'm sure you get the picture I'm painting. While we could really do lots more with the additional five-figure salary, I'm just not convinced this is the only way. This could be the fastest way but this is surely not the best way for the long term.

I had walked that road before and I don't think a fat paycheck is worth having if you have to put up with demanding bosses, sit and contribute your salary's worth in three-hour long management meetings, answer your boss's calls and SMS at midnight simply to assure him/her that the email has been sent out, manage staff who drift around wondering about their purpose in life....

Mix that with the stress of managing a household, frequently incompetent hired help, demands of family life and you'll get lots of grey hair. That's the mildest way to put it. Labels such as "supermum", "successful career mum" to me are over-hyped.

It is only when one lives out his/her passion, whatever that may be, is when he/she is successful. I am still searching for that 'passion'. Work will no longer become work or a job when it is done with love and enjoyment. Others will certainly ask what if your 'passion' cannot bring you the money you need to simply survive? There are many ways to make money. It is only whether one is able to think out of the box and not be shackled by the age-old idea that you are set for life only if you have a good education plus a well-paying job.

What is your self-worth based on? Long ago when I was in the career of "being an employee", I thought that having a grand title like "Vice President" (which I eventually did have), dressing up in designer suits, jet setting around the globe for "business" meant I had made it in life. Imagine if one day, all that disappears when your employer decides to end your career as an "employee"....

I came across this in a book I'm reading: "There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self...if you want to improve your life and live with all that you deservce you must run your own race. It doesn't matter what other people say about you. What is important is what you say to yourself.... Never be ashamed of doing that which is right; decide on what you think is good and then stick to it....never get into the petty habit of measuring your self-worth against other people's net worth....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More veggies, less meat!

I am trying to cut down intake of meat and 'outside' food but finding it difficult to do so. I think I'm not trying hard enough. Time management is always the problem here. Planning meals and preparing them myself takes time. Household chores, one active kid, errands etc is a juggling act.

I take my hat off to older generation parents with literally a dozen kids. But I actually think that they could have been more focused because they didn't have to ferry the kids to and from school, extra curricular activities etc. Kids those days either walked,cycled or took public transport if they could afford it unlike kids nowadays who are pampered by air-conditioned cars, chauffeurs etc. Kids those days didn't have to go for tuition for every subject, art classes, special math or computer classes, music, dance, swimming, gymnastics, ice skating or golf lessons.

Okay, enough of comparisons - back to the actual topic about becoming 'vegetarian'. This is mainly for health reasons since becoming more aware of the dangers of processed foods, preservatives, artificial additives, 'unhealthy' animal proteins, etc, etc, etc. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. The risks are so evident nowadays - high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood glucose, obesity, cancer, allergies, etc, etc, etc. Fresh and organic food seems like the better way to go these days....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lotus Root


Caitlin simply loves to eat lotus root. She calls it 'wagon wheel', from the way it looks after I cut them across to produce 'holey' circular slices. Although she dislikes foods in the vegetable category in general, she quite enjoys those that are crunchy like celery, carrot, broccoli stems, cauliflower, french beans and lotus root. So to retain its 'crunchiness', I normally stir-fry these veges lightly in oil with a bit of salt, to where they are just cooked, having lost their 'raw' taste, yet still crunchy.

Lotus root is high in dietary fibre, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It can be boiled in soup, stir-fried with other veges, mixed in salads. I normally boil it in soup with red dates, wolfberries and some meat to further sweeten the broth. You can also add dried cuttlefish and/or scallops as well as arrowroot. This is one of the common and nutritous types of Chinese ways of cooking lotus root. The Chinese believe that besides it being nutritious, lotus root has medicinal properties too.

Dreaming of travelling again

My restless mind is travelling again. This time to Norway. I checked out visitnorway dotcom and the pictures are just scenic enough to get me dreaming. Norway has more than the mountains and fjords I remember learning about in my secondary school geography lessons.

There's this interesting activity of swimming with killer whales! This takes place in Lofoten where you can go on a whale-watching safari. Apparently there are no reports of killer whales having attacked people, so "the bravest whale watchers are actually allowed to swim among them when conditions are favourable".

There's also a spectacular train ride on The Flåm Railway, a steep railway taking you by spectacular waterfalls, in and out of snow-capped mountains. The website says: "The train journey provides some of Norway's wildest and most magnificent scenery. On the 20 km-long train ride you can see rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls cascade down the side of steep, snow-capped mountains and mountain farms that cling dizzily to sheer slopes.

The Flåm Railway is one of the world's steepest railway lines on normal gauge. The gradient is 55/1000 on almost 80% of the line. The twisting tunnels that spiral in and out of the mountain are manifestations of the most daring and skilful engineering in Norwegian railway history".

Check out the site and see for yourself what Norway has in store for those who enjoy exploring new countries and experiences.

I decided not to put any pictures here so that you can view all of them yourself in the site.

Btw, this is not a sponsored post. I simply found this site while 'travelling' at my workstation.

Use Buzzfuse* to easily rate, review, and share this item

Boring subject of weather

The year-end monsoon season is in full swing. It has been raining daily for the past two weeks. The usual east coast and southern states of Peninsular Malaysia has been hit again by floods, forcing thousands to be evacuated. Here in the capital city, the sky's grey most days and the temperature cooler than usual.

Caitlin's into her coughing bout again since the past two weeks and she now has a mild fever. I guess the combination of the weather, her refusal to take her usual afternoon rest and late nights have caught up with her. Hey, tis the school holidays so why nap or sleep when there's much more fun things to do?

Sigh, kids these days....Compared to her, I guess I was pretty stupid to be obedient when I was her age and missing out on more of whatever fun I could have had!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dr Seuss


Many of us know Dr Seuss for his rhyming stories for children. His unique style is peculiar yet sensible, his rhymes are catchy and funny. Caitlin was first introduced to Dr Seuss when she was three with his infamous Cat in the Hat. She was enthralled with the sound of his words and his illustrations. Since then, we've collected a number of his books and PC games. One of her favourite stories at one time was Horton Hatches The Egg and later on, Horton Hears A Who!

What prompted me to write this post and to find out more about this man via Google is the sound of Dr Seuss PreSchool, an educational PC game, coming from the room next door. Caitlin has decided to entertain herself with it while I blog and Eugene fixes one of her broken toys.

Do you know that Theodor Seuss Geisel was a political cartoonist? He was chief editorial cartoonist for a New York newspaper before World War II and you can read more about it and view a catalog of his political cartoons here. This is something new to me and very interesting.

I also came across Dr Seuss's Seussville which I believe Caitlin and other kids would enjoy.

Prison and Work

I received an email from my aunt with a comment that this could just be the incentive to work towards financial freedom:

Just in case you ever get these two environments mixed up, this should make things a little bit clearer.

Prison:You spend the majority of your time in a 10X10 cell
Work:You spend the majority of your time in an 8X8 cubicle

Prison:You get three meals a day fully paid for
Work:You get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it

Prison: You get time off for good behavior
Work:You get more work for good behavior

Prison:The guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you
Work:You must often carry a security card and open all the doors for yourself

Prison:You can watch TV and play games
Work:You could get fired for watching TV and playing games

Prison:You get your own toilet
Work:You have to share the toilet with some people who pee on the seat

Prison:They allow your family and friends to visit
Work:You aren't even supposed to speak to your family

Prison:All expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required
Work:You get to pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners, and welfare

Prison:You spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out
Work:You spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars

Prison:You must deal with sadistic wardens
Work:They are called managers


Something to think about?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Friends

My friends are the ones:

1.I still keep in touch with since age seven (Standard 1 of primary school)
2.I still keep in touch with since age 13 (Form 1 of Secondary school)
3.I rarely keep in touch with since age 18 (Form 6 i.e. pre-university)
4.I became close to while at university, some still in touch, some drifting apart
5.I got to know in my working life in various companies, some out of touch, some no longer in touch, some still in touch especially via email
6.I unexpectedly found since I became a stay- and work-at-home mum

Some we meet again along the way, some we part temporarily or for good,
Some we meet again after parting a long time and it still feels like we met only yesterday,
Some we meet again and don't know what to say because we have changed,
Some we meet again along the way but we pretend not to see or know each other,
Some we could have spoken to but prefer to keep to ourselves or at best, share with or learn about from other mutual friends,
Some we just exchange smiles or hugs with and that's enough,
With all of these, some are precious enough to keep for life, some are unfortunately not...

I've discovered the degree of closeness with these groups of friends shifts from time to time. That's because we all travel on journeys unique only to ourselves, our own lives. How we view and judge situations and people is from our perspective, based on what we experience at any point of our lives. Everything is relative.

When I was 11 (Standard 5), I remember participating in an inter-school choral recitation competition. My three classmates and I recited this (it is actually a song titled "The World is a Circle"):

The World is a Circle without a beginning,
and nobody knows where it really ends.
Everything depends on where you
are in the cirle that never begins.
Nobody knows where the circle ends.

And just because you think you're small,
that doesn't mean that you're small at all.
And just the way a tiny branch is like a tree to a twig,
to someone else you are big.

The World is a Circle without a beginning,
and nobody knows where it really ends.
Everything depends on where you
are in the cirle that's spinning around.
Half of the time we are upside down.

And just because they say you're weak,
that doesn't mean you've a weak physique.
And even if they're partly right,
at least they're partially wrong.
To someone else you are strong.

And just because they say you're slow,
that doesn't mean that you're slow, you know.
And even if you're never first,
compared to someone who's last,
they're sure to think you are fast.

The World is a Circle without a beginning,
and nobody knows where it really ends.
Everything depends on where you
are in the cirle that never begins.
Nobody knows where the circle ends.

The World is a Circle that never begins.
Nobody knows where the circle ends.


By the way, we won the first prize with that. Ann Marie, do you remember? We did it with Chua Li Suan and Kamaruzah.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Paint mania



We went crazy with finger painting this morning to create our own 'hand' made Christmas gift wrappers. All we need next is to add some sparkle to them with some glitter glue.

These are Caitlin's creations, so if you are a recipient of a gift wrapped with one of these, I hope you won't mind the unique wrapper! After all, most times, the wrappers will be thrown away once the gifts have been unwrapped so why waste money on expensive store-bought wrappers when you can make your own?

All you need is some 'mahjong' paper and your creativity. It's also one way to keep a restless child occupied, as long as you can put up with the accommpanying mess!



Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ain't I cool?

Her inclination towards looking 'pretty' (it could be quite bizarre at times with ridiculously mismatched apparel in my definition) and posing with such natural ease baffles me everytime I ask her to smile for the camera!

Deck the malls

All the malls in town are decked up with mega decorations heralding the Christmas season. We visited two malls this week (Caitlin's 'passion')and I managed to capture some pictures shown here. The pictures actually do not do justice to evoke the overall ambience created by the decor.

Caitlin got a free ride on a mini choo-choo train in Santa's village at Sunway Pyramid, which by the way has become totally unrecognisable after its major renovation and extension.


Mid Valley Megamall


The mini train at Sunway Pyramid


A tree at Santa's village


Caitlin and Eugene by the wishing well

Friday, December 7, 2007

Insurance is important

I am glad that Eugene and I made the decision to purchase insurance for Caitlin right after she was born. When she was three years old, she caught pneumonia and had to be hospitalised for a week. Thankfully, with her insurance, her medical bills for the hospitalisation, and pre- and post-illness visits to the doctor were covered.

And if you have taken a home loan, it is advisable to also get a Mortgage Reducing Term Assurance (MRTA). MRTA helps to settle your housing loan in the event something happens to you. It can cover the unpaid portion of your loan and your family can rest assured they will not lose the house.

A few months ago, Eugene's car was hit from the back by a van. Again thankfully for insurance, a large part of the repair cost was covered.

Many insurance companies are pretty innovative nowadays offering various types of insurance from the regular life to
home, car, education, savings, investment types of insurance. And with the convenience of the Internet, such companies also offer value-added services. Some independent companies such as this one, helps you to even compare car insurance.

Getting insured has never been easier. Other than meeting face to face with an agent, we now have the information and ability to purchase online simply with the click of the mouse.

This is a sponsored post.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Homeschooling

I received this through an email subscription and really take my hat off to this mum. The dedication and commitment of any parent or parents who homeschool their children are admirable. The decision to do so is an act of bravery in my opinion.

The homeschooling system has yet to catch on in my part of the world and support, I believe, comes in the form of community groups, like-minded parents and mainly churches which run such programmes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Smile...

and the whole world smiles with you! Isn't this smile contagious?

It'll soon be Christmas

Being so caught up with daily life and work, December came last weekend without me realising it. It only struck me when we saw the Christmas tree and decor in Caitlin's drum teacher's living room on Monday. The highlight of December for us would be Christmas. Christmas has become so commercialised that we tend to conjure up images of Christmas trees, lights, shopping, presents, feasting and enjoyment first before anything else, particularly its religious significance.

I need to remind myself that Christmas is beyond these, while still having to shop for presents for family and friends. It is a time for Christians to celebrate and thank God for His Gift, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, it does not mean we cannot have fun as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends. I'm looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree. To me, the tree isn't such a big deal. It's more for Caitlin as she enjoys the activity and seeing it light up. And hopefully that will motivate Eugene and me to tidy up the house too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, located in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. Eugene and I climbed this mountain back in 1998, when I was at my peak in terms of fitness. It was indeed a challenge of our willpower.

The decreasing oxygen as the altitude increased gave me a constant headache. As I climbed on, my legs just got heavier. And for a person who loves the sun more than snow, the dropping temperature did not help in making the climb as enjoyable as when I first started from the bottom of the mountain.

We started our climb at around 10am and reached Laban Rata, the rest stop, in the early afternoon. Laban Rata is where most climbers rest for the night before making an early ascent at around 2am to reach the peak to witness the sunrise. Although we did not make it early enough to catch the sunrise, I was happy enough with just having made it. I literally felt on top of the world standing at over 13,000 feet above sea level.

The descent was much easier and faster. We 'recuperated' at a resthouse in Kinabalu Park, legs feeling like a ton of rocks. The next morning my friend Nicholas, a local resident of Kota Kinabalu (capital of Sabah), arrived to take us for a dip in the Poring Hot Springs before sending us to the airport.

My five-day visit to Kota Kinabalu and climbing the mountain was a memorable experience.

Convenient Hotel Reservations

Making travel plans can be quite a hassle sometimes, especially when so many choices of travel agents, destinations, types of accommodation, mode of travel etc are open to you. If you are the type who prefers to make your own plans and not leave your fate to the hands of a packaged tour, do check out Hotel Reservations. This comprehensive site offers you good options based on your destination, type of accommodation such as bed and breakfast, hotels, motels, vacation rental condos etc.

I checked out one of my dream destinations, Bahamas, and found a beach villa with air-conditioned room, and full kitchen for USD150 a night. Sounds like good value as it comes with a living room, fully furnished bedroom and kitchen, offers seclusion yet within five minutes from restaurants, shops and bars.

This site gives a lowest internet rate price guarantee.



This post is sponsored.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Irony

I received an SMS yesterday evening which stated:

Irony. You know you live in a silly world when being "normal" is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

I believe one answer to that situation would be to achieve financial freedom. I have just read this book "Speedwealth" by T. Harv Eker. He writes:

"Wealth is not just money. For most people, wealth includes an abundance of money, free time, loving relationships, inner peace, and having a sense of meaning and fulfillment....

What is unfortunate however, is that even though most people want to be happy, have more fun, laugh more, love more and enjoy their lives more, it's difficult to concentrate on these things when you're struggling financially.

Money problems can take the luster out of life. I'm not saying money is everything. Money isn't everything unless you don't have any, then it seems to become everything.

The fact is, in our society, money is an important TOOL. Money is like a lubricant -- going through life without it is very, very, rough.

Money doesn't buy happiness, but it can buy FREEDOM: freedom of choice, to be able to do what you enjoy doing and not be forced to do things just because you need "the money."

It's a shame. I have seen far too many good, kind-hearted, talented people, unable to share their unique gifts and talents to the fullest, because they're simply too busy trying to survive. They work long and hard but never get ahead financially. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "If you're going to work hard anyway, you might as well get rich...and the quicker the better."

Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of free speech in America?

I came across this article titled Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America. It rings a bell that sounds like the Malaysian scenario.

So how does this gel with the country's national anthem which I recall states it as the "land of the free and home of the brave"?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can't wait to grow up

Did you ever wish to be older or an adult in your childhood days? I did because I wanted to be able to do the things adults could. I had perceived adulthood as a life of independence and freedom, not having to get anyone's permission to do anything I wanted.

Caitlin turned five one month ago. And now she is already wanting to be six. Yesterday, she asked for high-heel shoes when she turns six. This morning, as I was tying up her hair, she asked if she could dye it when she turns six. She wants her hair to be pink, her favourite colour. When I told her pink is not quite suitable, she asked for yellow (blonde). What's next I wonder....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Caitlin's pets

Most children love animals. Caitlin is no different. She enjoys the Animal Planet channel on TV, loves reading and learning about animals, and playing with them, the real ones and the toy ones. One of her ambitions is to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She has already established the notion that she will indeed have two dogs when we move to a house; a male Schnauzer named Rusty and a female Dachsund named Mermaid Girl.

So far, she has had fish (goldfish, guppies, gourami, swordtail). Then she moved on to four terrapins which she named The Little Einsteins (June, Leo, Quincy and Annie). They now all have either returned to my dad's fish tanks or animal heaven. Then she also has countless toy pets like her Little Ponies, My Littlest Pet Shop animals, stuffed toys, rubber or plastic moulded animals. Her favourites are the Little Ponies and two white fluffy ones named PooPoo (because it's a poodle...and it's not smelly luckily!) and Daffodil the rabbit.

We have been pet-free (I mean live pets) for almost a year until today when we ended up bringing home four goldfish from my dad's place in a feeble attempt to pacify her insistence on going to the fish shop to get five angel fish.

Needless to say, the attempt failed and I had to endure 1 1/2 hours of continuous determined and sometimes angry and tearful demands to go to the shop to get her five angel fish. In the 45-minute drive from dad's home to ours, my 'radio' played "I want five angel fish" and "Mummy, mummy, mummy!" when I did not respond to the first 'song'.

Upon reaching home and settling the goldfish down, she proceeded to lie stubbornly in bed to continue her two 'songs'. My attempt to get her off the bed, and into the car half an hour later to go for her drum lessons was obviously a struggle.

Only after venting her emotions on her teacher's drum set did she become a little more reasonable. When we got home, she fed her fish, spent some time talking to them while snacking on a cookie.

It's been a long day for me having returned from Singapore at 3.00 am to catch some sleep before driving to my dad's home down south to take her home, patiently dealing with her angel fish tantrum and tending to the routine household needs.

I hope to have an earlier night tonight.

Refreshed mentally and emotionally

I had a pretty intensive weekend. I attended a self-development seminar in Singapore with about 3999 others from all walks of life. The speakers/trainers, T. Harv Eker and Robert Riopel were powerful. The energy in the huge hall at the Singapore Expo was hitting the roof. Lives were transformed, mindsets changed, and beliefs reconditioned. Practical help to having a better life and being a better you was free-flowing. Each day of the seminar lasted between 11-14 hours. Thank goodness for deodorant and good air conditioning!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day of Indulgence

After her Mandarin class this morning I indulged Caitlin in her request yesterday for a tiara or crown as she calls it. So off we went to Mid Valley. She was very obedient for once and even agreed to a visit to the washroom first followed by a chicken rice lunch before going to Toys R Us. We found the tiara. It came with a pair of earrings so it was a good bonus for her.



After being satisfied with browsing at all the other toys in the store, we headed to Jusco for the games. She mentioned on her own that she remembered her promise last night to play only one. She chose to play the Japanese drums where you have to beat on cue with the screen and music. That's the game she never fails to play everytime we visit that place.



We both had fun. What's more fulfilling than seeing your child happy, excited, and enjoying herself? The only challenge was carrying all 17 kilos of her out of the car into the lift, unlocking the doors while carrying her, and putting her down on the bed. She had 'knocked out' the minute I strapped her into the car seat after we left the mall.

I'm taking a breather now before I start wondering what's for dinner....

Monday, November 19, 2007

A busy bee

Like most Sunday nights, I asked Caitlin last night what day it would be the next day. Usually, her answer would be "Monday...school". Not last night. It was "Holiday!!"

This morning, she woke up extra bright and cheery and proceeded immediately to live out her holiday. Toys which had not been played with for months reappeared all over the house, especially her troupe of Barbies and fleet of toy cars. Computer games, V-Smile, books, remote control toy car, a little practice on the piano and drums, paints and brushes, a bath for one of her Barbies, Mandarin and drum lessons completed the day. I didn't have to find ways to keep her occupied as she busied herself independently. However, there were moments when she decided that the computer game required a second player to compete with her.

As for tomorrow, she has already got it planned. She has requested for a toy crown (ala Princess) to be bought from Toys R Us and a visit to the kid's entertainment zone at Jusco departmental store....Fearing that I would say 'no', she offered and promised to play only one game there.

Sigh, kids nowadays do have a mind of their own. In my days, I was just 'blur' and content with my story books during the school holidays.


Giving Barbie a bath


Engrossed with The Three Little Pigs


Completed the entire dot-to-dot book Daddy came home with within half an hour!

School break

The year-end school break is here again. It will be six weeks of 'freedom' for Caitlin although her Mandarin and music lessons continue until the week before Christmas when her teachers take a break.

I have yet to make plans to ensure these six weeks are 'balanced'.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Re-visiting Maldives from my desk



After mentioning Maldives yesterday, my mind has just kept wandering to that paradise every now and then. I guess this beautiful place deserves at least a second visit the next time I'm planning a real holiday.



The pictures look beautiful but you just have to be there to soak in the real beauty. It's a million times more beautiful. And if you are a snorkelling or diving enthusiast, this is the place to be up close with nature.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The weekend

The weekend is here again. It's yet another one filled with activities. And as usual, it will fly by in the blink of an eye. A family lunch, another family dinner, a birthday party, a doctor's appointment....what else?

I'm still dreaming of a weekend where I literally don't have to do anything besides eat, sleep and answer nature's call. I now wish I have Hiro's (the hit series Heroes) ability to teleport myself to somewhere exotic.

I would love to visit Maldives again.


100th post

I just realised that I've reached my hundredth post with the one I wrote on Wednesday. It just feels like yesterday when I started my blogging experience eight months ago in March. So far, I've found blogging most therapeutic. I can lose myself in my own thoughts and words....and have a few times paid the price by burning something simmering on the stove!

I've yet to turn this venture into a money-making one as you can tell. To be seriously making money from blogging (many people are doing so), I've yet to invest the time for it. Do I want to? I'm not sure, because it would make my blog impersonal and 'fake' at times, especially when I choose to write about something that's not 'me' simply for the money. So for now, I shall just write what I like and if any opportunities of interest come my way, I shall write and get the little pocket money that comes with it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judging a book

Do not judge a book by its cover. I find this so true, literally and figuratively.

I love reading and most times, the books that first catch my attention on the shelves in bookstores are those with beautifully-designed covers, nice pictures, attractive font, catchy titles. The advertising and marketing people sure know how to do their job well with the help of graphic designers. Some of these books have good content, no doubt, and can even be prize-winning bestsellers.

However, there are books with covers less attractive and long, boring titles. They tend to involve non-fiction, specialised topics or authors and publishers with lower budget.

Two weekends ago, I bought two books, "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" and "What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You". I'm sure you can tell which is the one with the more attractive cover in all sense of the word.



I actually had to get the "doctor" book from the living room to make sure I got the title right for this post. I'm halfway through the "doctor" book and find it very informative, and enlightening with unique insights. I read the first two pages of the "monk" book. While it's reputed to have good content, I have yet to be able to comment on it. I tried listening to the CD but it couldn't capture my attention.

I also love 'reading' people. It is a natural tendency to first get attracted to people who look good on the outside, those who are 'better packaged' and more 'prominently displayed', just like books. But we must not forget the more down-to-earth ones with their quiet wisdom and humility. As the Malay saying goes, "diam diam ubi berisi". I sometimes get really turned off by people who rattle on and on. What they say could be of value but they just don't know when to stop, they love hearing their own voice and seeing other people's impressed faces.

And there are those who judge you by your cover. I visited a doctor recently who assumed that being a housewife without makeup, and simply dressed, I have no knowledge of health, medicine, or science. When I started discussing with him and asking more in-depth questions, he remarked condescendingly, "You are quite a knowledgable lady!" Hello MCP! I tried to reign in the temptation to stoop to his level but couldn't resist revealing, "Well, I was a microbiology major..." And what I got in reply was, "You graduated in microbiology?? But now you're now practising it in the kitchen".

Which book would you prefer to read, mine or his?

Monday, November 12, 2007

My best pals


At this time of writing at 8.00pm, Caitlin is still asleep ('afternoon' nap!) while Eugene has just boarded his return flight, hopefully to arrive home by 11pm tonight. They are my best pals, although they do fall in the can't-live-with-them, can't-live-without-them category at times!

This picture was taken after Caitlin's school concert. She did us proud by acting in her class sketch "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". She was also chosen by her teacher to give the introduction of the sketch to the audience.

Business vs. employment

It'll be a busy week for Eugene this week as he's making day trips to a few places for work. Yes, DAY trips. So he left before the sun came up this morning to catch the first flight to Kuching and will be back on the last flight tonight.

In the middle of the week, it's probably Penang followed by Miri....

As an employee, your time is dictated by your employer. I experienced that too countless times in the 14 years I had worked in the corporate arena. As much as how some visionary employers try to provide flexi hours, nice work stations, staff lounge areas, even free or subsidised food and entertainment, etc, you still have deadlines, targets, quotas, KPIs to meet. And at the end, you often feel that despite all the effort and maybe even stellar performance, your rewards do not commensurate with the sacrifices you have made.

But what's sadder is the time, opportunities and special moments you had lost and missed in your personal and family life because you had to work.

I don't want to go in-depth to discuss this issue but in my simple mind, I think it's better to be a business owner. You still have targets, deadlines, KPIs to meet but they are yours to set and the rewards you reap are yours to keep, totally all of it.

Why didn't I learn this when I was young and wondering what to do when I grow up? I was only taught to gain as much knowledge as possible to get a good paper qualification, to get a good job (with an employer,)a good salary and finally to get what is defined as a 'good' life. Is life good when you have to work 12 hours a day, get stuck in traffic jams two to three hours a day, be away from your loved ones for at least that amount of time if you don't travel overseas for work, and at the end of the month have enough to pay all your bills and probably save a little for your children's future and rainy days? We tend to settle for just that and accept our lot. And I'm not even talking about the materialistic aspects of life.

So what is a good business to own if you lack capital, if you are an 'ordinary' person? And if you wish to be master of your time and money? Even some business people or professionals are slaves to their business as they have to put in all their time personally themselves all their lives to make it successful. A doctor who starts his own practice has to open his clinic and be there. Otherwise, no patients = no income; unless you've made it and can employ a team of doctors to work for you!

A good business is one where you don't need huge capital and yet get good returns from all the blood, sweat and tears you put in, and eventually over time, it can run on its own and give you freedom. It means still getting paid when you have stopped working and having all the time in the world to spend with your loved ones and pursue your personal interests. Doesn't that sound good? I know of one. Do you know of any?

p.s. Didn't Thomas Alva Edison say "Genious is one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration"?

New template

Blogger's template choices are pretty limited. I guess I can't complain since it's a free blog service unlike others like Typepad or Wordpress which you have to pay for. Since this is one template I've yet to try, I've decided to use it for now until I get bored with my blog's look.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Guide to cleaning mouth and hands

1. Turn on the tap.
2. Wet hands.
3. Squeeze liquid soap onto palm and rub hands together.
4. While rubbing hands, hold them up to check if clean, let soap drip down to elbows.
5. Wash soap off hands (and not forearm or elbows where soap dripped down).
6. Wipe and rub mouth with wet hands.
7. Turn off the tap but not fully so that it still trickles.
8. Dry mouth with shirt sleeve or collar.
9. Ignore hand towel. Dry hands on shirt or nearby wall.
10.If mummy is nearby, dry them on mummy's shirt or shorts.

by Caitlin, 5 years.

(Editor's note: the ideas in this article are original and copyrighted by Caitlin. No input whatsoever was provided by her main caregivers i.e. her parents. Her parents marvel at her creativity and resourcefulness)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bless our marriage

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Nothing planned as I have work. So my simple way of commemorating it here in my blog is to share this:

Bless Our Marriage

We thank you, O God
for the love You have implanted in our hearts.
May it always inspire us to be kind in our words,
considerate of feelings,
and concerned
for each other's needs and wishes.
Help us to be understanding
and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings.
Increase our faith and trust in You
and may Your prudence
guide our life and love.
Bless our marriage, O God,
with peace and happiness,
and make our love fruitful
for Your glory and our joy
both here and in eternity.
Amen.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Blog template

I started out with rather bold and defined templates in this blog of mine, changing the colours and templates when I feel bored with how it looks. I thought this latest one would be a good change as its design is more subtle with muted tones. On second thought, after having this template for about two weeks, I think it's one of the more boring looking ones. I shall start looking for a brighter, more upbeat one next week!

Good vs evil

Is having information at your fingertips good or bad? I always use Google when I need instant access to information about anything and everything under the sun. Sometimes I find that it's the best thing ever invented but other times, it simply scares me. There's so much good as well as bad stuff you can find that it's hard to differentiate between truth and lies, fact and fiction, rational opinions and emotional ones.

It is already difficult enough to sift out fact from 'fiction' when you read the newspapers (anywhere in the world) nowadays...what more via the Internet.

And if you have an online presence, be it a publication, a blog, a site etc or have made a public 'appearance' of some kind, chances are I can track you down simply by keying in your name or related words...

Some keywords to ponder about with regards to this topic are ethics, responsibility, consideration, privacy, discretion, trust, common sense, objectivity,....care to add more to the list?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life is precious

The realisation that life is fragile hits me every now and then, more often since the last 10 years or so. I know many people including myself who have had close calls, others who have said goodbye and some who are facing life's challenges. It always reminds me to live each day more meaningfully and not to sweat the small stuff.

Today, the realisation, hence this post, was triggered by a phone call from Eugene while I was having lunch. He asked me "What is nose cancer?". Ermmm, Dr Anna Tham told her dear husband..."Cancer of the nose-lah!" Either he wasn't thinking when he phrased the question, or he thought my 1980s knowledge in microbiology (which in actual fact has little to do with cancer) could help shed some light.

A friend of ours in her early thirties has been diagnosed with nose cancer. Other than that, I have no details yet of her condition. We will keep her in our prayers.

Two days ago, a close friend emailed me a report from The Star about an accident involving several cars and a bus. He was in the bus. Check out the picture in the report. We believe it was God's grace that kept him safe.

It's been two weeks that I've been totally irritated in all sense of the word, by an allergic rash. Till today, I've yet to pin down the allergen that's causing it. It's hard to function normally when it flares up and gets me irritable. So how can one enjoy life, even the simplest of pleasures, when one is plagued by ill health, disease....?

Last year, a very near and dear friend of mine celebrated her new life in heaven after battling cancer for over a year. In the late 90s, a colleague of mine in my department who was in her 20s also died of cancer. And in the early 80s, my aunt also died of cancer. I am not saying all cancer patients die; I know of survivors too. (My personal 'exposure' to cancer seems to tally with a report that one out of four Malaysians will get cancer nowadays).

Before I start sounding morbid, I'd better switch gears a little. As the title of this post goes, life is indeed precious. It is a miracle. I still wonder in amazement when I look at my five-year-old sleeping soundly. She grew inside me and came out a tiny little helpless bundle, just the length of my forearm. Now, she stands above my waist at 3 1/2 feet tall, has a strong will, talks back and plays the drums better than me!

My reflexologist (a stranger) told me today that I think and worry too much. I don't eat, sleep or exercise enough, thus getting headaches, neck and shoulder aches, have poor digestive system and liver function. All these 'diagnosed' by simply rubbing the relevant points on my soles. Hmm, pretty accurate for one who doesn't even know my name. He said I work too hard. So could all this contribute to my ill health and allergy? Very likely I think, although medical practitioners could probably say something else.

I think I should take a break, be lazy and not sweat the small stuff, please remind me!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kid Idol

I've been pretty busy the past few days. Not much time to write anything substantial here so I thought I'd just bore you once again with my "Kid Idol" video here:

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Caitlin is five today!

Caitlin turned five today and we celebrated her birthday with a party with family, her classmates and some friends. I managed to rent her kindergarten school hall since majority of our guests were her classmates. I felt that the venue was most ideal for their parents to not get lost finding the place or worry about their kids being in a strange environment; plus I did not have to rent children's tables and chairs separately.

All in all, it turned out well despite the air conditioning of that place being under efficient in stifling the afternoon heat. The constant opening of the doors (letting warm air in), and heat generated by almost 20 energetic kids all talking, shouting, laughing, screaming at the same time added to the problem.

I'm glad the food was more than enough with everyone being able to take extras home. Between Eugene and I, we managed to pull off the games to the kids' satisfaction. It's refreshing to see how kids can be happy with just the simple things - simple games, with simple rules and simple prizes. If only adults could be that easily satisfied....

Caitlin's cake was hit with the kids. When it was revealed, all those little 'itchy' fingers were raring to have a poke at The Incredibles family and after Caitlin cut it, they went after the sugar stars that surrounded it.

This is the first major party for Caitlin since her 'full moon' party to celebrate her first month after she was born in 2002. Her first to fourth birthdays were celebrated amongst family only. I guess over the years, she has attended enough 'fancy' children's parties and now knows that she wants one too. So we decided to indulge her this time. She was definitely happy at the party and happier when she opened some of the presents later this evening!

Meanwhile, mum and dad are tired out from having to manage so many kids for the first time. I guess tomorrow will be a lazy Sunday.

Here are some pictures which we managed to capture before the camera battery ran out. The next batch of photos were taken with Lynette's (Eugene's sis) camera so those will come later.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Do you know what RSVP means?

Two weeks ago, I had sent out invitations to Caitlin's classmates and some friends of ours to Caitlin's fifth birthday party. I had clearly indicated my name and phone number in the cards for the RSVP. Now, I'm sure most of us know what RSVP means i.e. "please reply". However, can you guess how many actually were courteous and considerate enough to do so? And even after a reminder to some of them? I was also told by one person indirectly to email his child at her own personal email...well, I hope the seven-year-old understands what RSVP means.

Donna Pilato who has written a short piece in About.com says: The term R.S.V.P. comes from the French expression "répondez s'il vous plaît", meaning "please respond". She continued to say that: I hear more and more often, and have found in my personal experience, that hosts often do not receive firm indications whether guests plan to attend their parties, even if R.S.V.P. is clearly printed on the invitation. This could mean either one of two things. First it could mean that rudeness is a growing trend in our society. Or, as I would prefer to believe, people no longer understand what the term means.

I sure would like to follow Donna and believe that maybe, just maybe, some people do not understand what RSVP means.

In the meantime, I do hope the food I have catered would be enough. If it is not, I shall tell those who did not RSVP that they can only have the fruit punch.

A holiday in Spain

Spain is a country in my dream holidays wishlist. But with the currency exchange, it would mean going on a budget. I have 'roughed it out' before on holidays so this could be one way to visit Spain too. Backpacking could be the cheapest option if we're talking about shoestring budget. And with the Internet nowadays, it would be quite easy to make online bookings and find affordable hotels in Spain .

The areas to visit are on the Mediterranean coastline covering Barcelona, Seville and Granada and of course the food and beaches are a must to check out.

There are many tourist attractions in the various cities in Spain. Some of the attractions include a historical tower, Torre de Bujaco and Muralla de Avila, a wall that surrounds the military Romanesque old town of Avila, located in a Unesco World Heritage Site.

If you choose to start your trip in Barcelona, there are hotels in Barcelona (hostels, actually) going for a low EUR19. One of the hotels listed in this website is Hotel Sagrada Familia which is located in the center of the city, near the famous cathedral of the same name.

la Boqueria is another place to visit in Barcelona and from the pictures and reviews I came across, it sounds like a place to feast your eyes and mouth on. The la Boqueria market is famous.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona showcases the great gothic buildings which marked the high point of the city and its culture during the Middle Ages. You can find the remains of the ancient fortified walls and palaces built by the Romans on the "Mons Taber" such as the temple dedicated to Augustus.

There are three-star hotels in Madrid starting from EUR29. The Prado Museum is one of the premium attractions in Madrid which houses paintings of El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch, and numerous other famous artists. Prado is one of the few museums that allows visitors to take no-flash photographs of its collection. Also in Madrid, the botanical gardens and the royal palace are must-see destinations.

After writing this, I'm now so tempted to just pack my bags and head to Spain....Unfortunately, I have to knock myself back to reality and continue to work hard and save for this dream vacation....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Random thoughts and feelings

Yesterday, the installer of the broadband service we applied for three weeks ago finally paid us a visit. We are now back to a 'wired' service compared to the unreliable wireless one we've been using the past two weeks.

So far, for the past one hour, I've not had any problems with it and it seems to be running fast and smooth enough for me. Eugene even managed to download three episodes of House (Season Four, yippee!) last night! I just have to find time somehow now to be able to see what's new in this latest season. How is Dr House coping with his self-inflicted loss of all his four competent doctors?

I have just re-committed myself to one of the greatest personal challenges last night towards becoming a better business person. I really don't know how I'm going to juggle this feat to speed up my earnings but if I don't try, I know I would be wondering for the rest of my life. It's going to be tough and painful and lonely at times. It's daunting, scary and overwhelming. It will however be rewarding in more ways than one. Looks like movies and even blogging will have to take a back seat for the time being. For a person like me who has found solace and relief from the Internet and networking online, it will be very hard to be disciplined and not waste time when seated at the computer for work. I will need all the support, encouragement and motivation I can get, so if any of you have any inspirational stuff, please send it my way!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Malaysian in outer space

I have not paid much attention to all the hype since the idea of sending the first Malaysian to space was mooted and eventually realised. If you ask me, I can only recall that the media provided ample coverage of the shortlisting of candidates leading to the two finalists. And finally two days before the Muslim Hari Raya, a Dr Sheikh-something who is also a part-time model, as reported by the papers, joined the esteemed crew, led by an American female (girl power!) commander, on board a space shuttle (don't ask me its name) to blast off from Kazakhstan into space and subsequently board the ISS space station.

Okay, that's as much as I know from not being able to avoid the in-your-face news last week and Astro's constant announcement of their dedicated channel 588 to keep Malaysians posted on Dr Sheikh's outer space experience.

In between, I get forwarded emails from friends mocking the disparity of how our Malaysian is labelled. We have proudly referred to him as our 'angkasawan' or astronaut. From the emails, I learnt that the NASA website calls him a 'flight participant', and of course, whoever authored the original email added "...or tourist?"

One day before Dr Sheikh blasts off, I received an SMS from a journalist friend of mine attached to an English daily asking me to contribute my comments and a message to our 'angkasawan'. I replied to her that I honestly did not have anything to say as I did not think very much of this achievement. This started me wondering what actually would Malaysia gain from sending one citizen out there. How would his experience contribute to the bigger picture of Malaysia's advancement in this field of aerospace technology in the bigger picture? Wouldn't sending a Malaysian team of aerospace experts (if we do have any) to work and learn from the Americans and Russians be better? I don't know so I shall not say more.

Then today, I received another email with this attachment. Call me ignorant or behind the times (I'm sure many of you already knew this) but this takes the cake and prompted me to write this post.



After I read it, something went "ding!" in my head. RM95 million?! I believe my thoughts echo what this news report from The Age Melbourne (15 November 2006) has pointed out so aptly.

As a Malaysian, I'm glad Malaysia has been 'boleh' in some ways but I think, we could have saved some of the 'bolehs' for better causes....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big $$$ for kid's birthday parties

Caitlin will be celebrating her fifth birthday in about 10 days' time. This year, she has specified that she wants a "fantastic" party with all her classmates and friends. And she had also specified the cake design as far as six months back.

Back in my time, birthday parties were not so hyped up. Those I attended and celebrated for me had the cake, the food, some games, and most of all, the homely feel as they were always held at home.

Kids nowadays are demanding for parties at kid's entertainment or edutainment outlets, fast food restaurants complete with fancy birthday cakes, professional entertainers like clowns, magicians, storytellers, games and activity hosts and the list continues.

This is all thanks to the creative business minds who know that parents would fork out just about anything for their kids and thus began such places offering their venue and services for kids' birthday parties.

What's good about these places is that they take the hassle of organising the party from the parents, from the decor, to the food and games. But of course, all these come with a price high enough to put a noticeable dent in the parents' pockets.

Caitlin has attended and enjoyed enough of such parties in her five years to now know that it is the type of party she would like to have. So my headache has begun. Thankfully, she has not specified any particular location or demanded any expensive activity.


Since the majority of her friends will be her classmates, we've decided to have the party in her school hall and we are giving in to her request for a cake featuring "The Incredibles". As for the food, I have no choice but to cater. And games? Looks like I might have to paint my face and don a red button nose.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shopping a female thing?

With online shopping so easily accessible nowadays, that is actually my preferred option. However, one problem is shipping and handling costs. Most shopping sites are out of the United States, European countries or larger cities like Singapore and Hong Kong within Asia. Being in Malaysia, the shipping and handling charges could in fact cost more than the product you have purchased so armchair shopping via internet is still most feasible only for items you really cannot get elsewhere. Also, for some things which still require the touch-and-feel and try-on experience, if you're not familiar with the brand's sizes and cuttings for clothes and shoes especially, I would still have to resort to walking into a physical store.

I've never been a typical girl shopper. What I mean by 'typical' is those generalised as females who simply love going shopping just about anytime, anywhere and buying stuff they fancy, being among the first to visit the latest mall that opens in town, check out the latest collection by a designer or a great sale in a departmental store. I'm glad I'm not like that. I'd have to have lots of spare cash if I were so, considering all the financial commitments we have. Not to mention that Eugene would have giant headaches everytime I tell him to top up our bank account since I'm currently his dependent!

However, I do have that craving sometimes to just go traipse around a mall and feast my eyes on those 'unmeaningful materialistic possessions' one could have simply by pulling out a credit card or some cash. I guess, the female in me who wants to look nice and have pretty things still surfaces once awhile. On second thought, I should say "my human nature" since the opposite sex also has the desire to look nice and have nice things. Yes, men love shopping too.

Of course, there are men who only shop when they run out of something. They will zoom into the exact aisle in the supermarket or deparmental store where what they are looking for is located and head straight for the cashier. Then there are those who only shop for themselves. They would not want to even be found dead in a women's section getting especially some undergarments, sanitary pads or tampons for their better half. But, there are those too who love roaming the malls window shopping and buying anything they fancy.

So who says shopping is a female thing?

The Law of the Garbage Truck

A friend sent me this short article and I feel that the message rings true.

Want to Be Happier?
Learn the Law of the Garbage Truck

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened:

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed and at the last moment the car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

And what did we see next? The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started swearing at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face.

And then here’s what blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck™” He said:

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.

So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home or on the street? It was then that I said, “I don’t want the garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

I began to see Garbage Trucks. Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” where the little boy said, “I see Dead People.” Well now “I see Garbage Trucks.” I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my taxi driver, I don’t take it personally; I just smile, wave, wish them well and move on.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day. What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more Garbage Trucks pass you by?

And my taxi driver was right. I am happier.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Singapore shots


The 'old' girls and their kids


Caitlin with two of her Singaporean cousins, LeReyne and Elroy

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rhythm of the drums


Caitlin's drum set arrived on Saturday. Now she can practise. Drums are relatively loud instruments and her teacher says she is a loud, rock drummer. She has a set of ear plugs to use at her lessons but now the whole family needs ear plugs too to protect our hearing when she practises.We do not have a soundproof room. Hopefully the neighbours will enjoy the rhythms and not complain!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Purpose Driven Life


I am currently re-reading this book "The Purpose Driven Life". The last time I read it was two years ago when I had just quit my job to be at home. I find this book helpful in providing direction and inspiration. It takes you on a 40-day journey with daily chapters which are short enough for busy people, and yet its contents really get down to the heart of the topic covered for that day with points to ponder on.

Despite the criticisms mentioned in the Wikipedia link above, I believe it is up to the individual to determine if the book has been helpful to him. After all, it is only a guide and ultimately, how one lives should be guided by one's heart, his relationship with God and His Word.

If you visit the website, it provides related resources and even has the first seven chapters available online.

Chapter 3 of the book stood out to me when I read it about 10 days ago. It's titled "What Drives Your Life?" and the two quotes at the top of the page were meaningful:

I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! Ecclesiastes 4:4

The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder -- a waif, a nothing, a no man. Thomas Carlyle


One of the benefits mentioned in this chapter about knowing your purpose is that it simplifies your life. Knowing your purpose "defines what you do and what you don't do. Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren't....Without a clear purpose you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources. You will tend to make choices based on circumstances, pressures, and your mood at that moment. People who don't know their purpose try to do too much -- and that causes stress, fatigue, and conflict."

Time for me to ponder now about the stress, fatigue and probably, conflicts, I sometimes experience!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Handbags

Ever since I became a work-at-home mum, my need for a chic or business-like handbag to go with my office wear has diminished. However, recently, when work started picking up and required me to go out more, I suddenly realised that my old handbags were deteriorating from lack of use and were somehow not to my taste anymore.

Thus, I'm on the lookout for a bag or bags that are versatile enough for work, casual outings and to also hold all the necessities a mother of a five-year-old would need to carry along when she goes out with her kid, and still look good!

Coincidentally, I was directed to an online shopping site which features a really good range, thousands in fact, of handbags and wallets, among other things.

Checking out the site, I found that it is user-friendly with pictures of the items, pricing, description and store that carries it. This site carries many brands of handbags, from cheap no-name ones (some of the bags ARE nice), to designer labels such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

You can search by categories of price range (below USD30 to above USD260), stores, brands, material and even closure (zipper, flap, etc). I saw quite a number of bags that I like from affordable ones to the ones I can only dream of....