Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ciao 2008, Hello 2009


The new year is almost here. Text messages have been coming in slowly but surely. The first one was from one of my VPs early this evening. With all the new and latest ways of sending messages and keeping in touch with friends, family and loved ones, it will be no surprise that the telcos are going to be the ones smiling when they tally their collections of the final day of 2008.

Anyway, as 2009 draws closer to the doorstep, looking back in retrospect, my 2008 was full with ups and downs. Work couldn’t have been more challenging and the home front was at times rocked with seasons of raging waves. I tell myself it’s just a phase and the storm will stall.

In a few minutes, we should be able to see the fireworks from the upstairs windows. Only Faris has gone over to his friend’s house to listen to music. As for the rest of us, we are safe and sound behind our doors, and glued to the telle hoping for a good movie to play on. (In my case, Nissa has completely controlled the ASTRO remote..it’s been Disney Channel for the last few hours…)

I have a few new resolutions for the year ahead, some are really personal while some are pretty trivial. Many of my resolutions (yah..things like shedding a couple of kgs, saving money, not buying on impulse etc etc) are repeat from the following years.

But most of all, I wish for the new tomorrow to bring along a whole year filled with joy, good health, rezeki and blessings from God Almighty.

Let's progress into 2009 with enthusiasm and purpose. To all friends and family far and near, I wish you a very happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Response to Tag

Many of the Makcik Bloggers have responded to Wanshana’s tag. Guess it’s my turn now and this is so typical of me, keeping things till the last minute. You see this is one bad habit of mine which I have conveniently allowed to breed in me since my student days.

Those days when I studied computer science, assignments came in many different forms and more often than not, the deadlines were crazily cruel to us students. Doing last minute assignments then became my cup of tea. Siap satu, hand in and work on the next one. At times, I even had to do multiples of computer programmes at one go. Ni tak termasuk nak study for quizzes and finals. Berasap kepala….

As such, even till now, I am so, so famous of doing things last minute, thriving on the adrenaline rush to give me that push to produce quality output. I know it irks my bosses most of the time, but when they see the output, they have no complains. And that also explains why at times I am awake all night long completing my work. Lagi lama perap, lagi bagus winenya (in my case, grape juice je lah..heh..heh).

Aduh…what a long intro. Ok, will get to the point now.

No 1 – Yup, I am a true blue procrastinator, would only do things right at the very last minute. Be it road tax renewal, maid application, banking stuffs etc, etc. Just love the adrenaline rush, but now I think I have to take it easy..may not be good for this aging heart.

No 2 – When I first started working, I didn’t have a maid. Did most of the house chores myself. Monday was for cleaning the rooms upstairs, Tuesday was bathroom scrubbing day, Wednesday was ironing day etc, etc. Boy, it was so tiring. One night, when I had to get up to prepare milk for Farah who was then still a baby, I missed calculated my steps and fell bergolek. That was the time when I realized that I needed help in the domestic front. Am definitely not going to kill myself trying to be a super doper house cleaner.

No 3 – Doing a double major in Computer Science and Statistics was a real killer. Wasn’t really my choice, but since I wanted to go study abroad, I was determined to give it a try. Though I think I would have done better if I switched to doing the non sciences. After my undergrad, I continued on to do TESL and training and that was how I got into this educational consultancy line. To give more icing (read: challenge a.k.a headache) to what I am doing now, educational consultancy is combined with IT project management. Confused?? Never mind, I’m pretty baffled myself with this mix combo.



No 4 – I once befriended this punk Mat Salleh chap. Bukan sebab apa, saja je nak test power. In the end, I chickened out when the guy was coming on too strong. Every time he asked me to join him to go see the punk bands playing on campus, I turned him down. In the end he got the message…phew!!! Cannot imagine the looks on my parents faces if I brought the punk home. Nak kena hambat ke apa!!!

No 5 – Before I flew to the States, my late Grandmother left me this one pesanan. She advised me to be selective when getting a life partner. “Kalau boleh biarlah orang kita (orghang Noghori) jugak,” she reminded me. Reason for that was she didn’t want my Mom to be all by herself celebrating Raya. At least, I’d be around if my other siblings were away celebrating Raya at their in laws. Fuhh…jenuh jugak nak mencari guys yang hailed from NS masa in UW dulu. Penat turning guys down upon asking them where they were from and if the answer was not Kuala Pilah or Seremban, I’d have to say, “Errmmm…sorry lah yer, tonight I got assignment to do.” Nasib baik bumped into ABE at a friend’s house and when he said he too was from Seremban, my next line was, “You suku apa?” Another relief was when he told me that he was from a different suku. Wokehh…good, you are my man…heh..heh!!!

No 6 – My pregnancies were all difficult. Morning sickness started from the time the doctor broke me the news that I was knocked out and it would continue till I delivered. I was huge during my pregnancies. All three babies weighed more than 3kg, Faris was 3.89kg, Farah was 3.68kg and Nissa was the biggest, weighing 3.98kg!!

No 7 – I followed strict pantangs when I delivered my two elder children since I stayed at my Mom’s during the confinement period . When it came to Nissa, I broke all the rules during pantang. My bengkung stint was only for two weeks instead of the required (by Mom) 40 days period. That explained the “enlargement” of my you know where….sigh.

No 8 – The up and down of my weight is like a yo-yo. Would like to lose another 5kg if possible. This has been my all time favourite new year resolution. It will again make it in my 2009 list…sigh.

No 9 – I swim pretty well. Started swimming when I was a little girl. The reason why my Dad sent us (TM and I) to swimming classes was because I was FAT. It did help to get me back into shape. I do 20 – 30 laps whenever I’m in the pool. It is also my way of diffusing all the unnecessary stress. So if you see me in the pool, splish splashing like crazy, it would mean that I am dead stressed!!

Ayoo…baru no 9 ka?? Another 7 to go…

No 10 - I taught my kids and ABE how to swim. Faris was the most liat. He said he’d only wanted to get his feet wet. This no compromising swim instructor pulled him into the pool and threw him into the deep end. Lepas tu, terus boleh swim and when he got better, the guard told me that he saw Faris doing triple somersault. Boys are just boys kan…

No 11 – I cannot read maps and often confused between right and left. I’d say left when my hand shows right and vice versa. Most of the time, I’d be the one behind the wheels and ABE would do the map reading.

No 12 – If I can help it, I try to do all my banking on the Internet or via kiosk banking. Malas nak pi start kereta, drive out and go to the bank. If I recall well, I only went to the bank 3 times this year. One time was to transfer money to ASB. The other time was to collect my credit card and I can’t remember what was the third visit for.

No 13 – I’m hopeless at doing housekeeping on my notebook, desktop berselerak. Bila nak buat presentation baru lah nak hide everything.

No 14 – Going the dentist really scares the daylight out of me. But nowadays, I don’t have a choice but drag myself and close my eyes tight till the treatment is over. Read about my dentist visit here.

No 15 – I am actually afraid of cats. Nissa was the one who persuaded me to take Manis and her kitties in. I’m now slowly learning to overcome my fear of felines.

No 16 - Ahhhh finally the last one. Kalau boleh I’d like to retire early, perhaps when I’m 45 (which will be in a few months...) or so. Kalau ikut ke-boringan with the ups and downs at work, rasa esok dah nak retire. But upon checking the bank account, haiyaaaa…..cannot lahhh!!!

Well, there you have it folks. I’m not tagging anyone coz almost everyone in my blog roll has been tagged.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Maal Hijrah 1430


A new year has arrived.

Alhamdulillah for all the blessings, rezeki, good health and segala yang dikurniakan Nya to us all.

My prayers for the coming new year agar tahun ini lebih bermakna, dikurniakan segala kebaikan serta kemakmuran. Bertambah keimanan serta ketaqwaan dan minta dijauhkan dari bala dan segala kejahatan..

Amin, ya rabbal alamin...

Day 2 - Sunset by the Pier

About 10 minutes walk from the apartment, was a fishing pier overlooking the city and houses along the Swan River.

Spotted this sporty one parked by the road


Rows of attractive town houses


Another hot wheels..and Faris just had to pose by it :)



As the sun started to set...

Beautiful sight..as the sun set further


Faris admiring the sunset spectacle

Day 2 - Videos of the City

Faris, our trainee videographer took these video shots of the city during our first day in Perth.


video
Still an early day for folks in the city.

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The town hall all decorated for Xmas, while Nissa tried to catch the birdie.


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A busy highway in Perth

Day 2 - Afternoon at the Museum

Western Australian Museum in Perth, a must visit when in Perth. It has abundance of collections of dinasours and other prehistoric animals. Didn't manage to snap many pics, camera battery sudah low...and trainee videographer was already exhaused :(

video

Day 2 - Chilly and Wet Start

Oooo…it was cold when I woke up for my Subuh that morning. This was summer?? But how come it felt like early autumn?? Needless to say, I went back to slumber land after my two rakaat. Asalamualaikum, asalamualaikum, took off my telekung and crawled under the covers again. I looked at the time, and it was only 5.00am. I figured another hour of hiding under the covers and perhaps another dream of sailing on a big yatch into the seas, would be really good. ABE was already awake and watching the news on telly. He’s such an early raiser, the real opposite of me, this sleepy head.

I must have dozed off again in no time. Next thing I knew, it was already bright outside but there was no sun though. I got up and peeked out the windows and very much to my dismay, it was raining!!! Alah….how to go jalan-jalan in the rain. I ran away from the cats and dogs pouring in KL and just my luck that it was also wet in Perth. Tak pe lah, I said to myself. We’ll just see how things develop as it was still very early.

View out my window...wet..wet..wet day.

It was scrambled eggs and mushrooms that morning. Kids ate like no tomorrow and I think they must have finished that first loaf of bread they got from the grocery store yesterday. Sejuk kan, so berselera nak makan. Farah packed some sandwiches to go. Everyone was ready to explore Perth, rain or no rain. By the time we left the apartment, it was almost 10am and the earlier pour had stopped. Our destination that day was Perth City Centre. We walked to the bus stop which was just around the corner of the apartment. Tak sempat nak enjoy the mild cold weather dah sampai the bus stop. Back in KL, I have never gone on a bus ride to the city. Someone told me before that one could get molested while riding in the packed Rapid KL buses. Eeewww…horrid!!!

Houses across Preston Street


Bus wait on Canning Highway

Cold ya..Nissa??

The schedule said that next bus was to arrive in another 5 minutes. Okay that wouldn't be so bad, I thought. Kids were saying, “Sejuk lah Mama.” I told them InshaAllah it would get better. Saw the forecast on tv that it would be high of 24˚C that day. Not too bad actually. I like it when it was temperate like that, nice weather for walking.

Back home in Malaysia, I never gave two hoots about the weather forecast. Maybe the forecast shown on tv didn’t mean much to me as most of the time it’d be either “hujan setempat-setempat” or “panas hingga petang”. Talk about creativity, the lacking of it so to speak. It wasn’t until I went to study in the States that I knew how important it was to know what the weather would be like for the day, the high and the low temperatures, the wind chill factors and the humidity levels or if it was going to snow, or flurries or rain for that day. I remember one of our parents angkat giving us the advice about listening to the weather forecasts. Now a retired Datuk KSU, Uncle D*m*n*u*i, said this to my friends and I (yang semuanya baru sampai ke America’s Dairyland), “Kat sini kena listen to the forecast, so that boleh dress properly. Silap-silap weather sejuk and you don’t have enough layers on body. Surely hangpa semua tak mau kejung sejuk sebab weather kat sini bukan macam Malaysia.”



Okay enough said about the weather. The bus was punctual as expected and off we went on it. ABE took care of the fares and asked about the stop we should be getting off in the city later. And again as expected, the bus driver obligingly provided his assistance. Back home ada?? Entah tak tau…tak pernah naik bas, wouldn't know if such a courtesy ever existed. Since it was way after the morning hour rush, most of the passengers that rode the bus were senior citizens. Another thing that I must really applaud was the fact that the society is so considerate towards the seniors. They get the front seats in these public transports and the drivers were ever ready to assist them if necessary. Kita kat sini?? I wouldn't allow my Mom to take the bus to town, no way!! My personal view has it that it can be somewhat dangerous to make them ride on the buses.

We got down at St Georges Terrace, right smack in the middle of down town Perth. Our first destination for the day was the Tourist Info Cente in Wellington Street, not far from where we stopped, about three blocks away but we had to walk uphill to get there. And this was the official start of our Perth City walking tour.

The Perth City Centre, located alongside the blue waters of the Swan River, is much smaller than its sisters Melbourne and Sydney. It has rows of low rise shops and well preserved old buildings that have been converted into hotels or offices. What is beautiful about Perth is that it overlooks the Swan River, a real breath taking sight. The shopping areas, Murray and Hay Streets are the main shopping hypes in the city, lined with popular outlets like Myers, Woolworth, David Jones, Borders, Fossil, Benetton and many others. There are also parks providing that lush green looks to the city.

Threesome on the CAT bus

What is good about Perth is that, it provides free in city buses. Called the CAT (Central Area Transport) buses, they ply routes in the surrounding city area. There are three free CATS available, the Red, Blue and Yellow. Our first CAT ride was on the yellow CAT, where it took us to the East side of the city. And that was what we did, we went on one CAT and hopped on to the next. Indeed it was a good way to understand the city, from east to west.





Downtown Perth..quiet as it was still early





MYER...nampak je place to shop!!!

War heroes given a special place in the heart of Perth

Places we visited that day were the Museum of Western Australia, the Art Gallery, the Parliament House and the Supreme Court Gardens. Kids enjoyed themselves at the Museum, seeing a range of varied exhibits from dinosaurs to Aborigines. It was a whole day of canvassing Perth city and its surroundings.



The Parliament House

White roses...



View of down town Perth

Buildings all decorated for Christmas

Shopping outlets around the Murray Street Mall



Shopping area around London Court


Cepat la Mom...I'm hungry lorrr

One pose before we break for lunch

Street deco...men marching to the bank!!

Swan Bells (tall structure) in the background







The Supere Court Park area



Before jumpa the real Roo, posing with Mr Roo keras pun ok..



Skies getting dark...

Rain on its way. Let's break for lunch!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa-Nissa

It was a day of just lazing around today. Bibik is back from her cuti-cuti Indon, thank god!! She is fine but just a couple of millions (rupiah lerr..) poorer. All her saved money had been spent on the family. Last time she went home, she got a sapi (cow) which was pregnant. It was like buy one get one in the stomach kind of thingy..heh..heh.

This time around, she said she got coloured tv and a generator set for her home in Lampung. All these years she's been working with us, she had managed to fund for a lot of things for the family. Earlier this year, she sent money to her son to buy "mesin bajak" to use in the paddy field back home. When not used for own purpose, the family would rent the machine to other farmers in the village. Pretty enterprising huh? Well, she's one very courageous woman and I am glad to see that this trip home had been as fruitful as the previous ones for her.

Little ones getting a warm hug

The guys of the house were out almost the whole day today, getting stuffs for their DIY project. Ohh...must you guys? Lucky thing Bibik is back to help with the post DIY clean up.


Santa-Nissa & Manis


Earlier in the morning, "Santa" came to spend time playing with the kitties. In her red Santa hat, Nissa was every where in the house fussing over Manis and her little ones. Suffice to say, the felines were extremely joyed to meet with Santa-Nissa today.

Feliz Navidad

merry_christmas4

May the Season brings only happiness and joy to you and your loved ones.

Warm wishes

for a season

bright with

special happiness

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 1 – Arrival at Perth International


The flight took almost 5 ½ hours to finally get to Perth. I managed to doze off for a short while before we landed. Local time when we touched down was almost 6.30pm but since it is summer, the sun was still out bright.

Just before we landed, it was announced on the PA about the strict Australian regulations on bringing food into the country. A whole list was read out and we had like 9 out of the 10 NO-NO items along with us in our baggage. No dairy products was allowed in and yes , there was MILO 3 in 1 in our bags. It wasn’t just MILO, there was Maggie (wajib ada bila travel :)), cookies, tuna spread, spaghetti sauce etc, etc. And now the real challenge, between yours truly and the authorities.

You see, some 8 years ago, when we landed at Melbourne International, the Customs officials took away our unopened, still panas from the store shelf MILO 3 in 1. The entire 20 sachets of MILO went flying into the bin!! Aduss…sungguh lah sedih rasa dihati, apakah yang akan diminum oleh kanak-kanak MILO ku nanti. But I redha with what happened. I remember what the officer said to me till this very day, “Maam, you are to declare the food that you bring along with you. It’s an offence not doing so. You could go to jail!!” Gosh, they were just MILO, the fortified energy chocolate drink. Reason behind prohibition of MILO and other dairy products was the infamous hand, foot and mouth disease. But yang tak seronok nyer tu, he also rubbed it in yang MILO from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia (huh????) was allowed in!! What the fish…??? (yes Waterlily, I’m borrowing your word)

I was very upset over the incident but dah tak de rezeki, so the was no use of sulking too long over it. Thank God our Maggie cups were cleared. They also took away the cookies we brought. It really puzzled me at times when thinking about what happened. Have traveled to many Mat Salleh countries, so far my MILO was never a problem. Kalu bawak meat stuffs, green and fresh vege or egg based products, faham lah nak kena confiscate.

So this time around, I was determined at outsmarting the Aussie Customs. I wasn’t bringing anything lethal nor illegal, anything wet, no meat based (uhuk..uhuk..the serunding was left behind). I had the usual Maggie cups, some cookies, and packets of Cadbury chocolate drink. All these food was slipped in between the nicely packed clothes. Nothing was visible on the surface of the luggage. There were 3 in 1 coffee packets stashed in the pockets of ABE’s neatly folded jeans. However, I did put in 2 sachets of the MILO 3 in 1 with some Tiger biscuits. That should do the trick, I really prayed to God. Siap baca-baca ayat kursi masa pack the bags. Well, kita tawakkal pada Allah kan.

In our visitor entry card, I put a tick at the box to declare that I was have food stuffs with me. I was following their regulations in all possible way, I have food and medication with me, so I declare them to you. Then it was our turn to have our passport stamped at the Immigrations. The officer asked us about the medication we brought with us. We explained to him, I have aspirin, gastric pills and cold medications for the kids just incase they fell sick. No problems with him and upon stamping our passports, we were off to collect our baggage. I noticed that he had marked our visitor card with the alphabet “Q” on it. Ahah….”Q” meant quarantine. Tak pe, then quarantine it is.


True enough, once we got our bags and once we showed the visitor cards to the other officer on duty, we were asked to go into another room and not walk out like the other passengers who didn’t do any declaration. The other passengers who didn’t make any food declaration, was asked to open their luggage for inspection anyway. My personal experience had it that the officers in the open customs check point area were more strict than the ones in the quarantine area. The sniff dogs went to almost every bag, and then signaling with fierce barks at passengers whom they suspected with food in their luggage. You’d feel as if you were real criminals. In the room, the officer asked us if he had any food with us. I said, “Yes, Maam.” and she asked us to open the bags and show us the food we brought. So I opened one bag first, and brought out the Maggie 3 in 1. Then she asked me if I had anymore food. Then out was my tuna spread and the miserable 2 sachets of 3 in 1 MILO. I saw the concern looks on her face and that got her to call her supervisor. When the supervisor came, he belek-belek the MILO and then he saw that part where it was written yang the MILO was made in Malaysia and he told me that he couldn’t allow the two sachets but the rest of the food was fine. I was elated with joy but I wasn’t going to show that yet. Then the bags were off to the scan machine and Alhamdulillah, they (the bags) and us were clear to go.

Just before we left, the Aussie supervisor told us the same story of the hand, foot and mouth thing and any dairy products from Malaysia was no go, but ok if they were from Singapore, Thailand and again Indonesia (huhh…still???). This time he told us that what we did was RIGHT as we had declared the food stuffs we brought in. I wanted to add on to what he said, something like, “Yeah, we learnt it the hard way last time.” But tak perlu lah sesi berbalas-balas jawapan dengan Mat Salleh yang mungkin has not even gone beyond Perth (chehh…tak baik nyer lah buruk sangka!!)

And that was it, we were ok to go. All Maggie cups made it safe and sound. So did the other Cadbury choc drink (which I was sure was also dairy based), the coffee 3 in 1 and a whole lot more of goodies in our bags. Earlier, I deliberated on whether I should or should not pack along the food stuffs. Of course I did some asking around prior to doing so, but there were no two stories that was similar. Some said yes this item can be brought in while others would have a contradicting experience. Of course, I had no intention of lugging my entire kitchen either. But when going to places where getting food (especially the Halal ones) could be tricky for the first few days for newbies in town, trust me, Maggie and tuna would be the fastest alternative. More so when for me when my kids are all such big eaters. They’d get hungry in the middle of the night, even after a heavy dinner.

74, Preston Street, Como, South Perth...home for the next one week

We finally got ourselves a Maxi taxi (for families and large groups) to the apartment where we would be staying. Surprisingly enough, there was no taxi booth as what is seen in KLIA or LCCT. We boarded the taxi and paid to the driver once we got off. All taxis had meters and we were to pay the charges as per what was displayed. The weather that afternoon was cool, slightly breezy and we got the kids to put on their jackets fearing that the sudden change in temperature might invite a nasty cold later. You just never know kan…

The top middle unit was ours



It took us about 20 minutes to get to the apartment on Preston Street in South Perth. Earlier I had Googled for apartments and their rates in Perth. After several enquiries, I finally made reservation at this place called Budget Apartment in Como, South Perth. It was a two bedroom apartment, with complete cooking, laundry and parking (parking rates can be a bomb in the city and other residential area) facilities. All communications with the business proprietor was done via emails. In fact the instructions on how to get the doors opened were just emailed to me. There were some codes that I had to use to get the door opened. Whatever would we do without the Internet kan!!!



Flowers just just blooming outside the apartment


Our unit, No 9, was on the top floor of the two story building. Built somewhat longish, the building houses about 20 of these two bedroom units. Actually this place reminded me of one place ABE used to rent on Spring Street, Madison when he was a student. My immediate response was, “Wahh…this place looks like Mr Fagan’s apartment, doesn’t it?” And he recognized the similarities immediately. (Chewah…sedangkan tempat jatuh lagi dikenang, inikan pula tempat berdating eh?? Heh..heh…)



We got in and settled down. Nissa wanted to take a peak at the playground and Farah was asked to accompany her. Alhamdulilah, we managed to still do our solat Jamak as Maghrib wasn’t till 8.15pm. Not longer after that, Nissa came back saying that she was already hungry. So Mommy here, mulalah acara memasak.

Fresh mushrooms for the spaghetti

Yummss...good dinner yah :)


Menu that night was spaghetti. Abe and the bigger kids walked to the small grocery store across the road and came back with milk, eggs, bread, butter and other stuffs. Dinner that night was simple yet very fulfilling as everyone was extra hungry and did two three extra helpings of the spaghetti. Nissa said my spaghetti was really delicious (mana tak nya, laparlah kata kan, semua makanan pun sedap daa…). Wooo…tak sangka yours truly hadn’t lost her moves in the kitchen.




By 10pm the kids were ready to hit the sack. Farah and Faris in one room and Nissa bunked in with us in the other room. There was a comfy rollaway bed for her, hence we wouldn’t be getting her flying kicks for the next few days or so…thank god, coz I really needed all the good night sleep I could get during this trip.

As usual I was the last to hit the sack that night, looked through my planned itinerary again and all confident that we were ready to explore Perth and beyond starting tomorrow.