Thursday, July 31, 2008

TV no-no

When you have a gathering among friends, especially with those whom you seldom see and should catch up with, what do you do and where do you do it?

Outside of home, on 'neutral' ground to everyone's ease and convenience of travel is one way. No worries about food and drinks mainly. But what if it's held at a friend's home? Depending on how large the group is, food can either be cooked by the host, catered, or shared ala potluck, or a combination of these options. The type of food and drinks served depends on the time of day or theme of the gathering, if any.

Entertainment? For me, nothing beats conversation in the company of good friends, maybe with some soft background music at the most. Unless it's a movie marathon get-together, the television set should not be left on (if it was on before the friends arrive) or turned on during the gathering in my opinion.

I find the television distracting and an anti-social element when you have company. People will start watching the box instead of catching up with each other and bonding. Some say conversation can still take place but it would certainly be centred around what is being watched, rather than meaningful chatter.

What if one of the guests decides to turn the set on himself? I think that is not a very nice thing to do. If the show he wanted to watch was more important than meeting his friends, then he should have just stayed home and watched it on his own TV (unless he doesn't have one!).

Maybe another reason for watching TV instead of making conversation is that the person feels out of place or even worse, is avoiding conversation with certain people he dislikes perhaps, for whatever reason. Still, I think he should not do it. Can't he just talk to others he feels more comfortable with?

What do you do if that happens when you are hosting? Tell the person politely to turn it off to avoid distracting others from making meaningful conversation? I think that's one way. The person should respect your request and be sensible enough to realise his mistake, intentional or otherwise.

Another way would be to have the gathering at the part of your home where the TV is not located, such as in the garden if the weather is suitable, at the dining area, lanai or patio. Some people avoid such situations by placing their TV in a private family room, bedroom or AV room if they have enough room in their house.

Home is where the heart is

I've been stuck at home this week since returning from Ipoh over the weekend; mainly because Caitlin's fever and runny nose since Sunday has yet to let up. She stayed home yesterday and today. I plan to keep her home tomorrow too. Managed to do a quick run to the supermarket last night after Eugene got home to get some urgent groceries.

Yesterday, Eugene went to work late as he had to stay home to watch Caitlin while I went to the school in Brickfields to get a transfer request form and find out what other documentation is required.

The husband-wife tag team happens in times like this in a family that does not have household help. In such times, I'm glad I'm a homemaker. The stress of juggling a full-time day job as an employee, coupled with the worry of a sick child alone at home with a maid you can't fully trust, and other pressing needs like meeting the school transfer deadline, is enough to drive an 'ageing' person like me crazy. I think I'm past the age of high-stress living and trying to be 'supermum'.

It's best to be realistic. There's more to life than a high-flying, high-paying job. You can work just about anytime in your life but your baby's first steps, first words, other Kodak moments happen just once in a lifetime.

I stumbled across an article which mentioned that "Seven out of ten young women say they want to take it easier than their mothers did, and one in four would like to give up work altogether to raise a family. Many said they found females who combine a lucrative career with bringing up a family 'irritating' and 'unhelpful'." I wonder if I was 'irritating' and 'unhelpful' during my career mum days...

The article also said, "They don't want to work crazy hours while their children are put into nurseries and their relationships disintegrate under the strain. Young women today are increasingly putting their personal happiness before a big salary or a high-powered career."

While I often lament about my hand dermatitis, not having my 'freedom', not enough cash to last us till month's end or for a much-needed holiday, I'd echo the article title "Supermum? Not me, thanks" if I were asked to choose between being "supermum" and "plain mum".

In fact, "plain mum" is already feeling like "supermum" right now. I'm concurrently blogging, chatting online, overseeing Caitlin with her sums and simmering soup on the stove while the laundry is spinning.

I have to go now. The Math kid is feeling lonely...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do you read blogs?

I read blogs of my blogosphere friends, my 'normal' friends who blog and sometimes other interesting blogs that I happen to come across while reading or surfing the Net.

I get an idea of my blog traffic through Sitemeter on a weekly basis via an automated email report. I'm also able to see where my readers come from, at what time of day and keywords used in searches that point to my blog via MyBlogLog and Nuffnang.

It's interesting to note bloggers are of course the main bulk of blog readers. Then there are those who are very much into a particular topic (for e.g. political commentary) or a fan of a particular blogger (could be a celeb, a specialist).

On the other side of the fence are people who are not aware that there is such a thing called a "blog". There are also those who don't really care for blogs, be it an intelectually-stimulating, entertaining, educational or informational one, or one that simply belongs to a close friend sharing his daily thoughts and life.

People read blogs for many reasons, depending on the blog's content. If you want to generate high traffic for your blog be it for fame, money or ego or whatever, you should write about what people want to read. Get a target audience. It is easier to write about something you are interested in or passionate about. Armed with knowledge and putting your 'heart' or emotion into writing makes it easier for you to write. The words flow much easier and you'd seldom encounter writer's block.

That's my two cents' worth about blogs, blog readers, non-blog readers and blogging. As for my blog, it's my avenue for psychotherapy and an open journal. When people ask me what's been happening in my life, I tell them "Read my blog". If they are not blog readers and still really want to know, I'm inclined to say "How about a drink one day?". I'd know then if they really want to know what's been happening! Hee hee.

Random pictures


Caitlin giving her goldfish a cuddle


An ugly Malaysian driver in front of me throwing mangosteen skins out of his car window


"To dare is to do", motto of the Tottenham Hotspurs team

Sick at school vs. sick at home

Caitlin's been down with a cold and fever since Sunday. I told her not to go to school yesterday but she insisted, not because she loves school so much but she simply wanted to experience being sick at school.

She told me that if children get sick in school, the teacher will take them to the office to use the thermometer. If their fever is high, the teacher will stick the cooling pad on their forehead and they can rest in the playroom.

To convince me further to let her go, she said "Teacher is just like mummy in school. Because mummies cannot be in school with their children, the teacher will look after them." That was an exact repeat of what I told her once when I explained to her why she had to tell her teacher if anything was wrong, like if she felt sick, fell or got hurt.

I told her that I will put her fever medicine in her bag so that teacher could give it to her when it was time for it. She exclaimed with arms up in the air, "Yay...!" Boy, it looks like taking medicine in school is something fun and to be proudly shown off to others in class!

At home, she'll request for a cuddle and/or one kiss on each cheek first to "give me power" and then count to 10 nervously while holding the medicine cup before downing it with a grimace....

Hmmm.....

Caitlin's primary school

Yesterday, we received the official letter from the Education Ministry about Caitlin's placement in primary school next year. We did not get the Chinese school of our choice which is a 'good' school located quite near our current home. Instead we have been given a school that is much further away in Brickfields.

We are not keen on that school as it means longer travel time and probably the pain of traffic during school and office peak hours. The other reason is also that following our application for enrolment in March last year, we had purchased a home which we plan to move into end this year that will make it even further from the Brickfields school.

So now we have to start all over again so to speak and look for schools nearer to the new home. The Malaysian school enrolment system sucks in my opinion.

I have till 28th August to get this settled. Checking out new alternatives -- probably visiting the schools, sussing out the quality of teaching staff and type of kids that go there and hopefully being able to meet the Headmaster/mistress will take up time....

Sigh, so many things to consider and do in such a short period. We did not prefer 'Kebangsaan' (national-type, Malay language) schools for Caitlin, especially when those around our area are not up to standard and we'd like to expose Caitlin to a Chinese-speaking and learning environment for starters. There are pros and cons to both types of schools.

For non-Mandarin speaking people like us, we are caught in between. The easy way out could be private schools but they cost two arms and two legs. Private schools however also have their advantages and disadvantages. Alternatively, there's always homeschooling which I think is a good choice but I don't have the courage for it....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Home and steamboat

We got home from Ipoh about four hours ago. It's been two long days since we drove up to Ipoh yesterday morning and returned this evening. Ate quite a lot over one short weekend with one wedding dinner and a birthday lunch, both in Ipoh. And since there was no time to cook dinner tonight, we went out to a nearby popular steamboat restaurant.


Upon checking the receipt, I discovered that this place has a website. This restaurant used to occupy one corner shoplot and the five-foot walkway stretching quite a long way down. They are only open for dinner. Their roaring biz, especially on weekends, has obviously profited them well to enable them to expand to aircon extensions in the adjoining lot on the ground floor and upstairs.

Upon checking out the website, I discovered they have four restaurants i.e. in Segambut, Bandar Menjalara, Sri Petaling and Kota Damansara.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Busy weekends

We have been travelling every weekend this month. The first weekend, we went to Melaka to see my grandmother who was ill. The second, we went to Kuching for a working cum holiday trip. Last weekend, we went to Melaka again for my grandmother's funeral. Today, we're going up north to Ipoh for a wedding.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Explaining God

I received this in an email today which said that it was written by an 8-year-old boy named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista, CA. He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to 'explain God'.

I doubt I'd been able to explain it as well as him if I were given the task when I was eight years old.


EXPLANATION OF GOD :

'One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'

'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'

'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.'

'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista . At least there aren't any who come to our church.'

'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'

'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.'

'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.'

'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!

Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.'

'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.'

'But...you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.

And...that's why I believe in God.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My laundry journey


I sometimes wish we could wear disposable clothes. Then we can wear new clothes, new fashion everyday and not worry about washing, drying, folding, dry cleaning and ironing. And if you stain your party dress with the red wine you were sharing with your hunk while watching the stars, just chuck it into the dustbin. No worries about stain removers or crying over the hundreds you spent on that dress.

I remember long ago during the days when I was a student and then a single working girl, renting, taking public transport and could not afford a bed let alone a washing machine, I simply hated hand-washing and ironing my clothes. Nevertheless, I still had to do it as there was no one else but me and me alone to get things done.

Then, when I got a step higher on the ladder, I decided to send my clothes to the laundromat. Here in Malaysia, laundromats are not self-service. No self-operating coin-using washers or dryers. We simply leave the dirty clothes with them and collect them a day or two later. We can choose to be charged per item or by weight (cheaper) and ironing is charged separately. So while my clothes got washed and neatly folded, the pile sometimes returned minus a few pieces. They were either lost among other customers' laundry or probably stolen. Then there were some which returned looking like they'd been tie-dyed...

Later when I moved into my own place, I finally got a washing machine, AND dryer. The dryer was necessary as apartment-living proved a challenge for sun-drying (what a waste of natural resource and un-earth friendly). Then came the extra cost in terms of water, electricity, detergent for front-loader, fabric softener, and ten years later (i.e. a few weeks ago), replacement of parts.

While the clothes got washed and dried by 'themselves', there is still no escape from sun-drying certain dryer-restricted clothes, the ironing and occasional visit to the dry cleaners. So at present, I still have to fold and do some ironing. I say 'some' because I pay someone for ironing help on alternate weeks. I iron Caitlin's and my clothes myself while the helper does Eugene's work clothes.

The vain husband is very particular about the quality of ironing of his shirts especially. Since ironing is not my favourite hobby, and pleats and French cuffs are not my forte, I'd rather leave it to the helper. If he complains, I won't take it personally then!

So where am I now in my laundry journey? The crooked and thorny path has somewhat straightened but I'm still far from the end of the road. I foresee a few steps backwards when I move to a house later this year. To conserve electricity consumption and be earth-friendly, I shall revert to sun-drying my laundry. And I should be having a love-hate relationship with Malaysian weather then. The folding and ironing will remain, unless I get a live-in maid (which I doubt we will) or unless disposable clothes become the norm!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

About grandma

We bade farewell to my grandma yesterday. The funeral proceedings went smoothly at her home before her cremation at the Melaka Memorial Park. After it was all over, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant.

It was a gray rainy morning as we left Kuala Lumpur for the drive down to Melaka. We spotted a rainbow along the way as the drizzle turned into a heavy downpour halfway through the journey. Eugene had driven his 'bella' (his Italian second wife)at a speed which I was only aware of upon arrival much earlier than expected (get the picture?). The day was cool and slightly overcast. I guess Por Por (grandma) had made a pact with God to spare us from the heat. Caitlin was generally well-behaved and manageable. I'm glad she was prepared mentally for it. She only asked one question to re-confirm her death after seeing her lying in the casket and placing the note she had written earlier inside it.

True to what I'd read earlier about experts saying that kids her age view death as something temporary or reversible, while in the washroom she asked if Por Tai (great grandma) had died forever. So I repeated what I had told her the day before based on the answers recommended by the experts in the article.

I have yet to start really missing my grandma. In my younger days, Por Por was a motherly figure who was soft-spoken, gentle and a great cook. I don't recall any time when she had raised her voice or complained. She was born in Mauritius 90 years ago and I guess, as a young lady, she came to this country, married my late grandpa and had nine children altogether.

During my school days, Sunday lunch was a family gathering at her home. She single-handedly cooked many great dishes for her children and their families. I had mentioned at lunch yesterday about this and one cousin chipped in with his memory of her tasty red rice wine chicken and stuffed calamari which I also remember and enjoyed. My mum remembers that Por Por not only served us lunch but also made extras for all of us to take away. There was always plenty of good and delicious food on the table, double servings of each, every Sunday. There were times when she also handmade fish paste for the traditional Hakka yong tau foo and fermented her own Chinese rice wine for cooking.

When I started school, I lived with my paternal grandparents as my dad had a career which required him to move from one place to another every few years. This was unsettling for our education so my parents decided that we remain in our hometown and live with my grandparents. When I was 10 years old, my paternal grandma had to re-locate temporarily for a year to Singapore. I then lived with Por Por and an aunt that school year. Looking back, the disruption to my routine which encompassed mainly my school and piano lessons was hardly felt. I can only conclude that Por Por and my aunt did a great job in taking care of me for me to not have experienced any discomfort or inconvenience.

I also remember one afternoon when Por Por accompanied me for my piano lesson. There was some confusion as to where the lesson was to be held. It was usually at my home i.e paternal grandparents' home, so we went there first. But my teacher was late and we thought that maybe we were wrong and had to go to her home, which was about half a kilometre away. Those were the days when a mobile phone never existed so we decided to walk there and find out. While walking, my teacher who was finally on her way to my place spotted us, picked us up and drove us back to my place. I still remember my teacher 'scolding' me for making my grandma walk. But hey teacher, I was only 10 then and you were late....

Those were some things I remember clearly. After I went to university and started life in Kuala Lumpur, visiting grandma became less frequent. From weekly Sunday lunches those days, it dwindled to only the annual Chinese New Year, her birthday, important family gatherings and short visits when I happened to make trips back to my hometown. At each meeting, she would take my hand and kiss it when I greeted her. She would ask how the others (Eugene, my brothers) were doing if they were not present with me then. She always found ways to return the equivalent value of any gift we gave her, be it in cash (angpows or Chinese red packets) or kind.

In the past few years, as she grew older, she became naturally 'slower' in movement and activity. While she was not as talkative as before, it was clear that she was still attentive and found pleasure in trying to 'connect' with her great grandchildren like Caitlin.

At her auspicious 88th birthday dinner almost two years ago, I felt proud that Por Por could live to such an old age. I had expected her to leave us through natural causes at least a number of years later. I guess God decided otherwise and that it was time for her to re-unite with grandpa and an aunt (a daughter of hers who passed away about 25 years ago).

Looking on the bright side, although she was suddenly diagnosed with colon cancer, her suffering was for only three weeks, compared to the months and years other cancer patients and their families would have endured.

Por Por is now free from pain and I would like to believe, resting happily in the afterworld.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Answers

An attempt to help Caitlin be aware of the responsibility involved in having a pet dog.

Scene: While unlocking the front door upon arrival home from our holiday in Kuching.

Me: Hey, we've not fed our goldfish for three days. I hope they're ok. Next time if we have a dog, who's going to take care of it if we go on holiday?

Caitlin: We need a maid. She can take care of it.

Me: But sometimes, the maid needs a holiday too and she might come along with us. Then how?

Caitlin: We have two maids-lah!

An attempt to get Caitlin to wash up and change into her pyjamas before she watches Kung Fu Panda.

Me: Let's wash up and change first so that you can watch the movie without being interrupted later. You might miss some parts later if I tell you to wash up later while the movie is on.

Caitlin: No, I'll watch it now. I can PAUSE the movie later if you ask me to go and wash up and change. Then I won't miss.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A note from Caitlin

Kids can sometimes be more thoughtful and mature than you make them out to be. I was planning to inform Caitlin about her great grandma's death only tomorrow i.e. one day before we attend the funeral on Friday. I decided on the one-day lead time because I wanted her to be prepared mentally for the funeral but didn't want too much time ahead in case it would get her down or distract her from her daily routine.

The opportunity, however, presented itself earlier. This afternoon she voiced some plans of hers for Friday. As I did not want to give her the false idea that she could do what she wanted on Friday, I decided to break the news then.

She took it well. She knows what dying means in general as she has experienced the loss of some pet fishes, seen death of animals, people and funerals on TV. She's also experienced us leaving her with other family members to attend funerals.
She teared a little with a sad expression on her face and we hugged. I explained to her simply what death means (see here, here and here) and also gave her a general idea what a funeral is like. I hope it's enough to prepare her for Friday as this is the first funeral she will be experiencing.

She has several 'scrapbooks', freebie spiral notebooks we've acquired somehow that she has claimed as hers. She draws and writes in them whenever she feels like it. Most times, they are pictures of people, animals, the sea, house and garden, patterns, and very often, 'I "heart" you' messages for Eugene and me.

After the short cuddle, she picked up a pencil and started 'working' on her current fave scrapbook. And this is what she produced.


'Por Tai' means great grandma in Hakka, our Chinese dialect.

She then proceeded to tear it out of the notebook so I asked her why. She replied, "So that I can put it on the 'box' where they keep Por Tai's body."

Hmm, how thoughtful.... I then told her that the 'box' is called a casket or coffin. She then switched to 'normal' mode and we went to Mandarin class.

Por Tai, may you rest in peace.

Monday, July 14, 2008

At a loss for words

After two surgeries and three weeks in hospital, my beloved grandmother passed away peacefully early this morning at 12.30am. The funeral will take place in my hometown in Melaka on Friday morning.

Kenny Sia


picture from Borneo Post Online

It was an 'un-kenny' moment when I caught sight of the front cover of one pullout of the Sunday edition of Borneo Post, Sunday Post, while 'stranded' for two hours in Kuching Airport. It featured 26-year-old Malaysian celebrity blogger Kenny Sia. He hails from Kuching, started his blog as a personal diary and now it's garnering extremely high traffic and $$$.

I'm aware of his existence but somehow have never really visited or read his blog so when he was highlighted in the papers, it kinda piqued my interest a little.

A cat's-eye view

Pictures of what the camera caught in Santubong, Kuching and thereabouts.


Star books or 'star' rims?


View from lobby of Damai Puri Resort at Santubong


View of mountains from the beach of Damai Puri Resort


Mount Santubong from the window of Sarawak Cultural Village shuttle (bus) to Kuching


Ad on the back of bus seat. Sarawakian-English pronounces "ay" (as in "eight") as "a" (as in "at"). One-two-EIGHT = want to ADD?


Big grasshopper on pillar in Kuching town, spotted by Caitlin


Riverside view at Waterfront


Pua weaving demo at Sarawak Cultural Village


Captured while queueing to board plane back to Kuala Lumpur


Chicken and mushroom linguini with parmesan (kid's platter) at Kuching airport Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf


Restless kid in hotel room


Khatulistiwa ('Equator' in Malay) Restaurant & Bar at Waterfront


X marks the spot: the Celcom X Pax booth at Sarawak Cultural Village with native street performers


Caitlin's 'kuching' (cats)


Bored kid awaiting 'bore-ding' on one-hour-delayed flight

A visit to Kuching

Over the weekend, we took a short break in Kuching, Sarawak. Eugene was going for work so we took the opportunity to tag along, and to give Caitlin her much-awaited first-time plane ride.

Kuching is the capital city of the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is one of the two (the other being Sabah) Malaysian states located in the island of Borneo. We normally refer to these two states as East Malaysia, as it is to the east of Peninsular Malaysia, separated by the South China Sea.

It was our first visit to "Cat City". "Kuching" means "cat" in the Malay language. I don't know how it got its name. Caitlin asked if there are a lot of cats there!
We woke Caitlin up at 5.30am and she shot out of bed like a grasshopper, unlike normal days when she whined and lingered, unwilling to get out of bed for school. Her excited chatter began immediately and continued non-stop (even when brushing teeth!)all the way to Kuching!

We left home at 6.00am to catch the 8.00am flight which took two hours to Kuching. Caitlin thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was talking and questioning excitedly. We stayed two nights at Damai Puri Resort in Santubong, one hour's drive north of Kuching.


View from hotel lobby


Happy to have arrived!

After checking in and lunch, Caitlin and Eugene headed for the resort's private beach and family pool while I relaxed at the spa with an aromatherapy massage. The massage was tension-relieving although I wish it could have lasted longer than the one-hour allocation. After the massage, I joined them at the beach and pool for a while. Caitlin was only willing to leave around 5.00pm.


Beach babe

After a shower and her afternoon snack and dose of milk, she 'knocked out' like a light. It was a deep sleep and attempts to wake her around 7.00pm for dinner and a visit to the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival were futile. She was obviously tired out from the early morning flight and fun at the beach and pool.


The adult infinity pool


View from our balcony

While Eugene went over to the Sarawak Cultural Village for the event, I stayed in the room, ordered room service for dinner, watched TV and waited for Caitlin to wake. She finally did at 10.00pm by which it was too late and raining too heavily to join Eugene at the event. Eugene got back soaked to the skin and reported that despite the rain, the turnout was good, with many going shirtless and enjoying the outdoor concert in the heavy shower. I guess the event lived up to its name "Rainforest".

The next day after breakfast, Caitlin and I did some batik painting.

After that, the three of us took a one-hour shuttle ride into the city centre to see what Kuching town is like.


We visited the Chinese History Museum and browsed at some curio and native handicraft shops along the Waterfront.


Old and new: The brightly-painted Tua Pek Kong Temple located opposite a stainless steel sculpture near Chinese History Museum at Waterfront

That outing was physically tough for Eugene and emotionally tiring for me. Caitlin was grumbling about the heat and complaining that her legs were tired, asking to be carried all the time.


I guess at her age, a holiday is one filled with fun at the beach/pool, or visiting some children-related attraction ie zoo, carnival, mall... In an attempt to pacify her, we dropped into a mall and found a bookstore. We got her a book which she read while lunching on pizza.

In the evening, we went to the Cultural Village to get dinner and catch that night's performance.


Sarawak Cultural Village main entrance

Caitlin got her face painted at the Celcom XPax booth and was very pleased with her Princess Jasmine look. She refused to clean her face that night and went to bed with the make-up. She still had it on yesterday all the way home to Kuala Lumpur and only allowed her cheeks and eyes to be cleaned last night. She insisted on showing her classmates her make-up today at school so she went to school this morning still sporting whatever's left on her forehead...and brought along a photograph of herself with the full make-up. Eugene had printed the photo for her to take to school in an attempt to get her to remove the make up entirely last night.


Pretty in pink

All in all, it was a good change from the daily routine, although this morning, we all groaned as we walked out the door to head to school and work. It was too short a break to have provided the much-needed relaxation but it was quite good nevertheless.

Our return flight to KL was delayed one hour and we encountered some turbulence upon approaching KL. We touched down on a wet tarmac and reached home to unpack loads of dirty laundry. Last Thursday, Caitlin declared she wanted her very own room, so we continued with what little we could last night in transforming the room to make it 'hers'. I changed the curtains, Eugene re-positioned some furniture while the 'lady of the room' occupied herself with her favourite toys on her new bed....

If I were to go to Kuching again, I would want to spend more time at the World Music Festival. This time, we did not get the opportunity because Caitlin, despite being a music fan, was not too keen with the natural rainforest jungle set-up (read hot, humid, dark, grassy, muddy, haphazard, crowded). Eugene and I figured that we should get her more used to travelling and roughing it out so that she'd outgrow her Miss City Girl disposition, the aircon-loving, minimal-walking, sterile and sanitary type of environments.

For general info on visiting Sarawak, check it out here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Take care of your hands


If you are one whose hands are constantly exposed to detergents, chemicals and water due to your work, you might want to take better care of your hands. Hair stylists, dental/medical workers like nurses and surgeons, housewives for example, are susceptible to what is called hand dermatitis, especially if their skin is the 'sensitive' type.

It could be due to internal factors such as your genes (allergy) or external factors (contact with chemicals or repetitive wetting and drying of hands which could strip off your skin's natural protective layer). The result is dry, chapped hands, redness, itchy rashes, tiny liquid-filled blisters, scaling, peeling and possible infection.

Some care tips from DermNet NZ:

Where possible, avoid wet-work and contact with irritants. Protect your hands using vinyl gloves, which are less likely than rubber to cause allergic reactions. Don't wear these for long periods, as sweating will also aggravate dermatitis. Always make sure the gloves are scrupulously clean inside.

Use emollients frequently. A thin smear of a thick barrier cream should be applied to all affected areas before work, and reapplied after washing and whenever the skin dries out.

Your doctor will prescribe topical steroids to reduce inflammation. These come in various strengths and should only be applied to areas of active dermatitis once or twice daily. Generally a potent topical steroid is used for several weeks.

If your dermatitis is infected, your doctor will prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic such as flucloxacillin for about a week. See a dermatologist if your dermatitis persists more than a few months or is severe. You may be treated with a course of oral steroids (prednisone) or other immunosuppressive medication. A form of ultraviolet radiation treatment called (PUVA) may be recommended.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Goodbye by Alicia Keys

I've not been paying much attention to current pop music for many years now. New singers come and go, new hits stay on top for a while and forgotten forever, unlike some of the legends of the past. Some however have managed to stay on, won Grammys, produced good albums. I just learnt from Wikipedia that Alicia Keys has 11 Grammy Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.

Her debut album, "Songs in A Minor" was a worldwide success and received five Grammy Awards in a single night in 2002, a record for female artists, which she shares with Lauryn Hill (1999), Norah Jones (2003), Beyoncé (2004), and Amy Winehouse (2008).

This is one of her songs, Goodbye, from this album.



How do you love someone
That hurts you oh so bad
With intentions good
Was all he ever had

But how do I let go when I've
Loved him for so long and I've
Given him all that I could
Maybe love is a hopeless crime
Giving up what seems your lifetime
What went wrong with something once so good

How do you find the words to say
To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)
When your heart don't have the heart to say
To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)

I know now I was naive
Never knew where this would lead
And I'm not trying to take away
From the good man that he is

But how do I let go when I've
Loved him for so long and I've
Given him all that I could
Was it something wrong that we did
Because others infiltrated
What went wrong with something once so good

How do you find the words to say
To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)
When your heart don't have the heart to say
To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)

Is this the end (end)are you sure (are you sure)
How should you know when you've never been here before
It's so hard (hard)to just let go (just let go)
When this is the one and only love I've ever known

So, how do you find the words to say ( when it's been so long )
To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)(to say good bye)
When your heart don't have the heart to say To say goodbye (find the words to say good bye)

What is a 'Tai Tai'

In these few years of being a homemaker, I've received remarks from acquaintances and even strangers about how 'lucky' I am to be able to stay at home and 'not work'. Some of them used the term 'tai tai'. If we were to really look into the actual meaning of this term, it confirms that I'm totally far from being a 'tai tai'.

According to this site, "to qualify as a Tai Tai, one has to have lots of leisure time, lots of money to spend and lots of gossip to exchange. A Tai Tai would win if shopping were an Olympic event." LOL, but I agree! With just this simple definition, I already don't qualify.

And wait, there's more. It also says:

Real Tai Tai's meet the following criteria:

1. A tremendous amount of leisure time
2. Lots of money to spend. A Tai Tai travels a lot
3. Concerned about status, social standing, and owning the 'latest in anything" that is remotely hot (ie: Pashminas. Fendi Baguette Bag,....) God forbid a Tai Tai be seen with last year's style!
4. Keenly interested in beauty upkeep (pedicures/manicures/facials/slimming treatments). Will stop at nothing to eradicate the tiniest sign of ageing.
5. Often associated with do-good charity works and community.
6. Discerning about the company she keeps. Must be in the right social circles
7. Well-educated and global in perspective. Has lived on more than one continent. Experience and detail are what distinguishes a real tai tai from the wanna-be's.
8. Buy in multiples and only the real thing. To get a better price and for their other homes in New York, London, Hong Kong, Vancouver and Singapore, they will bargain.

So, I'm a homemaker, not a 'tai tai'... don't have lots of money to spend, no pedicure, manicure, shopping, travel, gossip, leisure time, let alone buy in multiples, have homes around the world; although I consider myself educated enough and I will bargain (for obvious reasons of course!) to get a better price.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Queen

I Want To Break Free


This rock group rocks. I think this is the one of the few rock groups that I can really groove to. From the musical viewpoint (read his sexual orientation aside), I think lead singer Freddie Mercury is one good composer and performer of his time.

Too Much Love Will Kill You

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Interesting people

Have you come across some people who give you that feeling that they must always be 'one-up'? Is it their inferiority complex manifesting as superiority complex? I'm not a psychologist...so why am I writing this post? I guess I'm just wondering why some people do things they do or say things they say that give you this impression.

They seem to place a lot of importance on what others think of them; of what they do, say, think, wear, the places they go to, etc. Does that have to do with lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem, or the opposite i.e. being absolutely full of themselves and overly prideful of their accomplishments?

Which do you prefer to be around?

The humble 'diam diam ubi berisi*' type, regardless of how successful or talented they are

or

The type that think the world revolves around them, those who show off, be it blatantly or subtly?

I'm trying not to discriminate either one here as both have its good and bad points, and advantages and disadvantages.

The former could probably be more well-liked by others, but being too 'quiet' at times may not get him as far as he wants to go. This is especially so when the people that matter are not aware of how capable he is.

Meanwhile, the latter could be irritating as hell, boasting all his life or always competing, but gets where he wants to be because everyone knows what he can do; it's just that he's too 'loud' at times.

I'm thinking of a middle ground. It's healthy to compete but it doesn't reflect well when you start to look like you must always be better than others i.e. 'kiasu' (afraid to lose). It's alright to tell others about your accomplishments, with the sincere intention of sharing your personal happiness or putting on record with your boss, for instance, what you have done. It's not too alright when you start telling others of your successes simply to boost your own ego.



* Malay proverb that means the opposite of 'empty vessels make the loudest noise'

Friday, July 4, 2008

Are you stressed?

Stress can affect your health. I have heard that excessive stress could lead to illnesses such as heart problems and cancer. I was checking out some information and came across this.

Some excerpts from it:

Signs and symptoms of excessive stress can show in our health, our thoughts, our feelings, and our behavior. Excessive and chronic stress can create disease and discomfort physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.

More frequent "hot" stress responses can result in an inability to concentrate, obsessive thinking, chronic tension and anxiety, chronic depression or boredom, broken relationships, and aggressive outbursts. Our behavior can be reflective of our stress levels when we act impulsively, increase consumption of food, tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs; are easily startled, grind our teeth, or cry inappropriately.

Physically, we can respond to excessive stress by sweating, increased heart rate, increased breathing, headaches, backaches, tight muscles, changes in appetite, or even nausea. Over time, chronic excessive stress has shown to be linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancers, and increased incidents of cold or flu virus infections. The major causes of death in the United States are lifestyle related, and be reduced with the help of stress management.


So, if you're feeling stressed and your body is confirming it, it's time for a time-out before it's too late.

As for me, I'm back to drinking coffee, feeling tight and aching muscles, tired and bored, sleepy, lazy. I need a time-out. The question now is "When and how?"

Meat and you

This week, I came across two items that once again draws attention to why we should cut down or totally stop eating meat, especially red meat.

First, a friend sent me an excerpt of a video narrated by Joaquin Phoenix titled "Earthlings".

The synopsis from Google video:
EARTHLINGS is a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called "non-human providers." The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (GLADIATOR) and features music by the critically acclaimed platinum artist Moby. With an in-depth study into pet stores, puppy mills and animals shelters, as well as factory farms, the leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, and finally the medical and scientific profession, EARTHLINGS uses hidden cameras and never before seen footage to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. Powerful, informative and thought-provoking, EARTHLINGS is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals, and human economic interests. There are many worthy animal rights films available, but this one transcends the setting. EARTHLINGS cries to be seen.

Click here to watch it. I would like to warn that this video contains disturbing scenes but it is important that we watch it.

Secondly, today I received an article, "Red Meat Consumption Linked Yet Again to Increased Cancer Risk" that details some research findings.

How do you feel now that you have watched the video and read the article?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ramblings on a rainy afternoon

God made everyone different. Nobody's perfect. We must learn to live with each other and accept each other warts and all. There are times we must be tolerant. There are times we must lay our cards on the table and get it straight, communicate, debate. But this must be done with the understanding from both parties that the ultimate goal for letting it all out is for better understanding and acceptance.

Name-calling, tantrums, unreasonable accusations, irrational actions would only hurt and not achieve anything positive. When one party is hurt, especially unfairly, the tendency is to react 'an eye for an eye'. It requires great effort, love and generosity to forgive. It requires humility, love and courage to ask for forgiveness. Egos must be set aside. Constructive feedback should be taken positively and viewed objectively, not emotionally. Critique should be given fairly, unemotionally, constructively, with relevant knowledge and not hearsay, biased opinion or assumptions. We must build, not destroy.

For what is life if it is always lived in anger, hatred and bitterness? It is a life with poison within your heart that pumps through your arteries and veins. Lava from an angry volcano destroys all in its path. A tree with poisonous roots bears poisonous fruits.

Love
1 Cor. 13

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud. It is not rude,
it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes
always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are
prophecies, they will cease; where there
are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge, it will come to pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes,
the imperfect disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways
behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection;
then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am full known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

Faith
by Beth Fagan Quinn

Faith begins by believing
in your heart that what is right
has a chance.

Faith is knowing in your heart
that good can overcome evil,
that the sun can shine
in a rainstorm.

Faith is peaceful
and comforting, because it
comes from within
where no one can invade
your private dreams.

Faith is not something
you can demand or command;
it is a result of commitment to belief.

Faith is believing in something
you can't see or hear,
something deep inside
that only you understand
and control.

Faith is trusting in yourself
enough to know that no matter
how things turn out,
you will make
the best of them.


Hope
by Anonymous

Hope is not the closing of your eyes
to the difficulty, the risk,
or the failure.

It is a trust that ...
If I fail now...
I shall not fail forever;
and if I am hurt,
I shall be healed.

It is a trust that
life is good,
love is powerful,
and the future is full of promise.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When it rains, it pours


Somehow, today didn't quite turn out much better than yesterday. I lost some money. Someone had taken it and I'm very sure of how it happened and who possibly took it because I had withdrawn the money from the ATM just before visiting that place. And after I was done at that place, I didn't use any cash at all. I paid using a credit card and went straight home after that.

I only discovered a portion of the total I withdrew missing after I got home. It was then that I realised that momentarily-strange feeling I had when I was removing my purse from my handbang to get my credit card. The purse was not in the section of my handbag I usually kept it in.

I have no proof but still complained to the establishment. That place has only three staff, the manager who didn't attend to me, and two staff who attended to me. The manager vouches for the honesty of the senior staff but was not able to do so for the newer one. She called back later and said she had questioned her staff and did a search but zilch. She has offered to reimburse me half the amount I lost and 'repay' the other half through her services....

The washing machine guy could not make it today at my specified time to replace the faulty part so I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning.

And while writing this post, I got a call. My grandma who is still in ICU is now critical - complication from the surgery. Her children are now deciding whether she goes for another surgery or not. Either way, the outcome is not promising.

I visited her last Saturday in my hometown two hours' drive away from where I live. She was in the ICU and was asleep so I did not get to talk to her. Caitlin made her a get-well card. I wonder if she saw it....Caitlin was disappointed that she could not see her great-grandma because ICU does not allow children visitors.

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards" -- Goethe