Monday, November 30, 2009

Life without you...

At 9:30p.m last night, I sent this SMS -

"Asslmkum. Ini Ibu Shana. Mau bertanya samada Dar sudah selamat sampai ke rumah? Pesawatnya tiba di Yogyakarta pukul 8:30 pagi tadi. Terima kasih"

2 minutes after that, came the reply -

"Wlaikmsalam. Alhamdulillah. Sudah selamat sampai. Maaf baru bagi kabar"

And I sent a reply -

"Syukur alhamdulillah. Sampaikan salam kepada keluarga di kampung. Hilman minta beritau Dar dia baru beli 2 ekor anak kura-kura!"

Those SMSs were sent to Bibik Dar's husband.

YES - Dar has gone back home for a 2-month break. And I really hope she IS coming back to Malaysia and work with us again. We've heard of stories of maids who were supposed to come back after their holidays who never came back, and this was after their majikan had paid for all the charges/fees for permit renewal and all.

So, to play safe, when she asked us to transfer all her gaji home 2 weeks ago, we told her that we would keep the amount already spent for her permit renewal, and she could send it home AFTER she comes back in January nanti. And she was okay with that.

So, we take that to mean that she IS coming back.

But, at the same time, we're not keeping our hopes too high because the cash my MIL and my Mom gave her, and all the stuff we bought for her and her daughters to bring home with her could easily be about the same amount we're keeping, if not more. So, she MIGHT feel that she could just forego her gaji that we're still keeping.

When I asked Ayah if he thought Dar was coming back or not, he said "50-50", especially when we checked her room, and saw that she had brought ALL her things with her, save for the clothes she wore the night before and the towel she used yesterday morning.

But, for now we want to bersangka baik... and insya Allah she will come back especially when we have promised her a significant increase in her pay for the next two years.

She told me that she would come back once the work to repair her house (especially the roof) is done, and that should only take about a month. And even though she is supposed to go home for 2 months, she said she would come back by Mid-January. I can only make do'a that she will come back, no matter when exactly, insya Allah.

And YES, we've bought two terrapins last night, and the kids (or rather the girls) have decided to name them Jasper and Seth. Apparently they're a couple of characters from the "Twilight" saga (?!). My 14-year old Hanna seems to think that "Seth" is such a sexy name (??!!). That worries me - giving a sexy name to a terrapin?! Hehehe... And she also said that when she gets married and have kids nanti, all her sons will have "Seth" as their first names. Hmmmmm...Sexy names for her sons...and it started with naming her terrapin "Seth", too?! Aiyoooo, Hanna...

So, the terrapins are additions to our existing pets. We already have a couple of Syrian hamsters at home - Benji and Button, and I just hope the kids will be responsible pet-owners and take really good care of them. Dar had been the one who cleaned their cage, bathed them and changed their water and food all this while, and for the next couple of months, the kids will have to be responsible for them. At least the pets will keep them occupied over the school holiday, I hope.

(A good sign this morning when Hilman woke up, and the first thing he asked me was, "Mommy, when do I feed the terrapins, Mommy?" :))

I made sure that they sit and see and help Dar to clean the hamsters' cage on Saturday night so that they know how to do it and not expect ME to clean it for them every time. I have so many other things to do without adding "cleaning hamsters' cage" to my already long list of things to do over the next couple of months.

And, oh ya - I've already cooked 6 chicken/beef/fish dishes yesterday and have frozen them in small containers for convenience. So now we have frozen Assam Pedas Tenggiri, Lemak Chili Padi Tenggiri, Daging Kicap, Daging Masak Merah, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Ayam Masak Lemak Putih in our freezer. Not forgetting the big pot of Sup Tulang/Daging Qorban on the stove :) If we were to eat at home on alternate days, those should last us for about 2 weeks, insya Allah. I only need to teach Hanna how to cook the rice now. (Yup! She never masak nasi before this - all throughout her 14-years of life...)

As for the laundry, I've made enquiries at the nearest Laundrette, and nampak gayanya I'll be a regular there. They charge 2kg per kilo, and for ironing, it's RM1.20 per piece. I would probably wash and dry everything at home, and just send the necessary clothes for ironing. But, then again - what with it raining everyday, I would probably dump everything there every 2-3 days or so and let them take care of everything. I've also bought a small pail and detergent for each kid to put in their bathrooms for them to wash whatever necessary themselves.

Hanna is now in-charge of sweeping the floor every day so that it'll be easier for me to do the mopping later on. We're so used to Dar mopping the house every day, and we have to make sure that we stick to that. Failing which, maybe we would just do it every other day (or maybe once in 3 days...or once a week ke...? See la how it goes :))

Dar had also blended all the onions, garlic, ginger, dried chillies and had put them in their usual containers in the fridge, just in case I need to use them. That should last me for about a week, that is - IF I were to cook everyday, but, I'm not, am I?;)) Anyway, IF I run out of them, I need not worry as Pasar Taman Tun has this gerai which provides all things under the sun blended. They also have pre-mix pastes for rendang, asam pedas, Nyonya/Kapitan curry, and the lot. I loike :) I've also bought some Maggi pre-mix paste last week. Just in case. Anyway, Pizza Hut, Dominoes and McDonalds are just a phonecall away, kan? :)

Anyway, it's Day 2 without Dar, and so far, so good. The kids helped me clear the kitchen and wash the dishes last night (but this morning I had to re-wash a few of them!) Hopefully they'll get better in time, insya Allah.

All we need now is luck. Loads and loads of luck.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This and that, and everything in between...

"Hmmmmm....I can't remember when was the last weekend I was NOT busy..."

Ayah suddenly said to me last night while organizing his notebook before he started working on his presentation. He has to prepare 3 powerpoint presentations for a couple of seminars today it seems. Truth be told, I've lost track of how many talks he has to give nowadays.

I went quiet. Or rather, I let out a small "Hmmmm..." before I made my way to the kitchen. In my heart, I was saying, "I hope you also realized that that means it has been that many weekends that we had not had a real family time..."

For the last 4-5 weekends, Ayah had been pretty busy with stuff. If it was not this, it would be that. Vise versa. You know what I mean? He had been busy preparing for talks held nearly every weekend at different venues and function/seminars. At the same time, he had been bogged down with deadlines to meet for his weekly article with MM. And he also had to go to Kuching for a few days last week to attend a Course, after which, when he came back, he was tied down with his Primary School Alumni Dinner on Sunday. All that ON TOP of his usual clinical/hospital routines which always see him coming home way after 10:00p.m every night.

He has been working/attending seminars/giving talks/attending courses over the last few Saturdays AND Sundays, and so, I had been attending to the kids' weekend routines/schedule. At least I had the kids with me almost all the time. That's a good thing, I guess. But, sometimes I do need him at home with me, just to talk. One to one. Without any distractions. Definitely NOT while he's busy working on his notebook. Sometimes I feel that he always could MAKE time for other stuff, but not for us... (Don't mind me. Tengah melayan perasaan...)

Anyway, just thought I'd get THAT out of my system.

Now, on to other things, shall we? :)

We went to Hilman and Hasya's Hari Anugerah Kecemerlangan last Tuesday. I stayed on until the end, while Ayah had to leave right after both kids had received their awards. Hasya received an award for getting No. 2 in her class, while Hilman received two awards - one for getting No. 3 in class, and another one for getting 5A's :) Syukur alhamdulillah.

Their school starts streaming the pupils when they are in Standard 4, and insya Allah both of them will be placed in one of the top classes. That means fiercer competition for Hilman, while Hasya will probably have to face another set of children of kiasu parents... Hehehe! Oh ya, Hasya has been selected to become a prefect next year. More responsibilities for her, and I hope that will mean she'll learn how to manage her time better.

On Tuesday night, we had a small birthday do for Hanna's 14th Birthday. Her Aunty Adek cooked Roast Chicken a la Jamie Oliver, Some Yummy Baked Potatoes, and Tagliatelle with Meatballs and Cream Sauce. It was just among Ayah's side of the family. I can't believe my Hanna is already 14...And next year she'll be sitting for her PMR! Yikes!

That Tuesday, too, Hilman started to develop some rash on his hands, feet/legs, and ulcers in his mouth. The first thing that came to my mind was Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. But a visit to the doctor told us that it was not. He is not within the usual age group to get HFM, and the rashes on his hands and feet were not on his palms or soles, but rather, around his wrists, elbows and ankles, and on his groins and bu*t, and a few here and there on his body - which are atypical of HFM. He didn't have any fever, and the rashes were more like chicken-pox blisters. We were told that it was from the same family - chicken-pox, cold sores and shingles, and as contagious. We suspect that he may have contracted it at a birthday party he attended at Ki*s Zo*e on Sunday.

So, Hilman had to be quarantined. Poor baby :( He has been in his room for the last 3 days - well equipped with his PS2 and DVD Player. But, I think he misses his ASTRO. Ayah said he could only be de-quarantined tomorrow. Until then, he's only allowed to leave his room when he needs to go to the loo and take his shower. I have been applying Zovirax cream on his blisters over the last few days, and they look like they're healing. Thank God. I was quite worried that they would leave scars because Hilman is so puteh melepak!

I had bought him De*to* anti-bacterial shower gel, and De*to* anti-bacterial spray for him to spray all surfaces he touches in the bathroom/toilet. And I've also asked Dar to soak all his clothes and towels in De*to* solution before washing them in the washing machine. Of course - separately from the rest of the washing. Tomorrow will be his beddings pulak. You can never be too sure, kan? Hehehe! (Teruknya Mommy dia ni...Anyway, I have to make sure his kakaks don't get it, too, right?)

I think Hasya misses his brother. Every now and then she would pass his room and shout out, "HI, HILMAN!!!" before going up to her room or downstairs to the Study or Living Room. To which Hilman would reply back, "HI, KAK NGAH!!" from behind the door. Sedih lah pulak I tengok :( Tak per...soon he'll be okay to play with his Kak Ngah, insya Allah.

The thing about the rashes - Hilman had to miss his Class Party on Thursday, and I knew he was quite sad because he was really looking forward to it. Siap dah suruh and ingatkan his Makcik Dar to goreng Ayamas Hot & Spicy Chicken for the party since last week! Kesian dia... He also had to withdraw from a swimming competition which he was supposed to enter today. He had registered for the 25m freestyle event. I had to withdraw Hasya from the competition, too, when it just so happened that it's that time when she cannot go into the pool. She was supposed to race in the 25m freestyle and breast-stroke events. It is a pity because it would have been their first experience competing in a race. It's just not meant to be. Tak per lah...insya Allah next year.

And yes, of course - the school holidays are finally here...and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

For one, Bibik Dar will be going back to Indonesia for a 2-month holiday and her flight is on 29th November - next Sunday, and I have yet to find a temporary maid. I have stocked up my pantry with all sorts of instant meals/mixtures, just in case I would not have the time to prepare all the nitty gritty ingredients to cook a proper meal. Thank God for Maggi mixtures for Kicap Berempah, Tandoori, Ayam Madu, Asam Pedas and the likes. Having said that, I have also bought all the bawangs, halia, and chilli kering for Dar to blend and keep in the fridge for my convenience during her absence. Should all of the above finish mid-way through Dar's holiday, I will have to resort to the Nyonya in Pasar Taman Tun who prepares all blended stuffs under the sun, including all ready-made pastes. Just add Ayam/Daging/Ikan saja (and santan if necessary :)).

Either that, or Nasi Kandar Se*ap will be very rich at the end of the two months...

The pantry is also full to the brim with all kinds of snacks and light food for the kids, and all sorts of 3-in-1 stuffs. You'll find canned and packet (powdered) soups, all sorts of canned tuna, pre-mix pasta sauces, UHT Milk, Cordials, crisps, etc. You just name it, you'll probaly find it in our pantry :) The fridge is also packed with all kinds of sausages, nuggets, drummets, and ice creams. Not forgetting the full list of protein sources. Cuti sekolah ni memang grocery bill and utility bills melambung tinggi... Kids asyik bukak fridge, and search for food. And they would switch on the airconds and laptops 24/7. Same old same old...

I'm thinking of having my Mommy to stay with us and be with the kids while I'm at work over the holidays - not to take care of them, but, just to be with them. Hanna is old enough to be given the task of re-heating the meals and setting/clearing the tables and washing the dishes with Hasya (but, I will have to brace myself for a few reports of broken glasses and dishes here and there, I guess). And I might just send the kids to my Sis Lala for a few sleepovers here and there over the holidays.

We have not planned to go anywhere this time as Ayah will not be able to get away from work, and me myself will be cracking my head with a few deadlines. Anyway, we already had that Bali trip in June. That should fulfill our overseas holiday ration for the year :) We might just follow Ayah who's attending a conference some time in December for a few days, insya Allah. Just to get away from KL sekejap. Cuti-cuti Malaysia :)

I just hope Ayah will not be that busy over the next few weekends during the school holidays ni. Kesian the kids...and their Mommy, too, for that matter :(

Will update you guys on that :)

In the meantime, to all mothers out there - GOOD LUCK FOR THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS, Y'ALL :)

* Click below for some photos from last week :)

Facebook | Your Photos - Last Week Before School Holidays 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy 14th Birthday, Kak Long Hanna :)

14 years ago today, we welcomed our firstborn - Hanna Suhaila binti Haizal, into this world...

I remember that day very clearly even until today. We had the first snow in Newcastle upon Tyne for that year in that early hours of 17th November 1995, and the grounds were already covered with snow by the time I had my first contractions at 4:15a.m in the morning that day.

Being extra-cautious and extra-anxious first-time parents-to-be, Ayah and I had prepared ourselves for that moment and had rehearsed the drill over and over again (in our heads, that is) on what to do and how to do them, especially should the contractions start during ungodly hours (as it was in fact fated to be!). But of course, nothing could have prepared us for the real thing. For one, we didn't expect it to snow (and quite heavily, too!) on the day I went into labour!

It must have been just before 4:00a.m when I had to go to the loo to ease myself when I noticed a show and I immediately woke Ayah up. The EDD was 19th November 1995, and we were hoping and praying that the baby would stick to the EDD (Hehehe...wishful thinking, right? But no - she decided to come out 2 days early!) Barely 15 minutes after that, the contractions started.

I immediately asked Ayah to get the hospital bag and call the hospital to expect us within the next 15 minutes. But as fate had it, the icy and snowy weather which started a few hours earlier had led to the windscreen of our car to be covered with ice, and the roads with snow that morning.

While anxiously monitoring the intervals between the contractions, I tried very hard not to panic while watching and waiting for Ayah who had to spend nearly 15 minutes scraping the hardened frost off the windshield of the car. Ayah being Ayah, he was pretty calm throughout the time, and I have to admit that THAT in a way had helped me to remain calm as well.

Once the ice came off, we started our drive to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI). The journey to the hospital from our place in Forest Hall which normally would have taken us only 10 minutes, had taken us about 40 minutes due to the snow-covered roads. Syukur alhamdulillah, the baby was quite comfortable and quite contented to stay put in my tummy throughout the journey which seemed to be like the longest journey of my life ever.

We reached the hospital just after 5:00a.m and I was immediately wheeled to the Labour Room where I was given a change of clothes in the form of a hospital robe, and the nurses started to take some readings and monitor my progress, and I was prepared for the actual delivery.

I remember so vividly when the waterbag broke while I was sitting on the sofa. I've read about it, and I've heard about it from others. But experiencing it myself was another thing. I was drenched from the waist down and my whole body suddenly felt very light. The nurses took this cue to give me a change of robe, and immediately after that sent me straight to the Delivery Room.

The contractions became more regular and more painful within the next hour, and as it was happening too fast, they were not able to give me the epidural fearing that it would take full effect at the wrong time and might cause complications during delivery. And throughout the whole time, I was only relying on Enthonox to relieve the pain.

As the intervals between the contractions became shorter and shorter, the labour room became more crowded with nurses and doctors as the medical team realized that the baby's heartbeat was going down to abnormal level everytime I was having the contractions. At one time, there were 5 doctors attending to me and the baby in my tummy, and in my enthonox-induced dazed situation I was praying hard in my heart for everything to be okay.

Concerned with the possibility of complications while delivering the baby, the doctors had asked our consent to extract some blood from the baby's crown for some tests to determine the actual cause of distress, and to eliminate other possible factors so as to prepare them for any unexpected labour room crisis. Ayah gave them the green-light and they did whatever needed to be done. I couldn't quite comprehend what really happened within the next 1 hour or so after that, but, what I remembered was when I was told that there was nothing really wrong with the baby. It was just that she was too lazy to work her way out of her mommy's tummy, it seems :)

Ayah was beside me throughout the whole time, and everytime the contractions became unbearable, I would squeeze his hands like there was no tomorrow... In retrospect, he probably was in more pain than I was then, I think. Poor thing...

And at 7:10a.m on 17th November 1995, I safely delivered Hanna Suhaila, weighing at 3.54kg. She came out with thick, black spiky hair, and lips like rubies. And the wail that she gave out when the world welcomed her was the sweetest music to my ears...

I remember holding her immediately after that, and putting her on my chest and she suddenly stopped crying, and I looked at Ayah. He was smiling at me and squeezing my hands. And while kissing my forehead, he whispered to me -

"Our baby..."

And my eyes just welled up and I started crying - out of the undescribable joy and love I felt at that moment.

And Hanna, no matter what happens, no matter how old you are, and no matter where you are, you will always be our baby, my dearest...

And please know it in your heart that Ayah and I love you so very much, and we will do anything for you.

Mommy do'akan your life be filled with love and happiness and people who truly care about you. You have brought so much joy not just to Mommy and Ayah, but also to so many people - friends and family, with your special ways, and your kind heart. Semoga Hanna menjadi anak yang solehah, berbudi pekerti dan mempunyai akhlak yang mulia, dan berjaya dalam kehidupan, insya Allah...

Again, please remember that you'll always be our baby, and if you ever need us, we'll be there...

Happy 14th Birthday, sayang...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And the results are in!!!

It’s that time of the year again – exam results time.

Ayah and I already knew Hasya’s and Hilman’s results last week, but, we only knew Hanna’s today when I attended Sr* Am*n’s Open Day this morning to collect her report. Ayah couldn’t make it as he is now in Kuching and will only be back on Saturday night. But, I have been giving him ‘Live Feed’ of the results and everything else religiously :)

The Verdicts –

Hanna has improved (depending on how you look at her results).

Hasya has also improved (also depending on how you look at her results).

Hilman pulak, merosot (whatever way you look at his results).

Hanna :

For her Form 1 Mid-Year exam last year, she got #17 in her class and #40 in the whole Form, and for her Finals, she got #3 in her class and #7 in the whole Form. There was a vast improvement in her performance last year. Last year’s results were, by the way, based on the traditional percentage-based ranking.

However, Sr* Am*n has changed their policy this year and now rank their students based on their CGPAs. Meaning, even if you score 8 very high A’s and you get 1 high B, you still will be placed lower than your friends who get 9 straight A’s, even though their overall total marks and percentage may be less than you. The more A's you get, the higher your CGPAs, the higher your ranking will be.

So, based on the new CGPA system, for her Mid-Year this year , Hanna got #17 in her class, and #36 in the whole Form 2 (with 6As and 3Bs) and for her Finals (which I just got to know today), Hanna got #10 in class and #18 the whole Form (with 8As and 1B). I guess for a school like Sr* Am*n, that’s not bad a position to get at all :)

Apparently, according to Hanna, if the ranking were to be based on total percentage, she could have gotten a better position. Well, Hanna. It is NOT. So you’d better make sure you aim for all A’s next time, okay? You will just have to work harder for Sejarah, and at the same time maintain your A’s for all the other subjects.

So, if we were to look at her position in Class and Form now, and compare them with her last year’s FINAL exam – she dah merosot. But, if we were to compare between her Mid-Year and Finals this year, she has improved. A lot. :)

Her current CGPA is 3.79, which will be brought forward to next year. There is still room for improvement, and I make do’a that she’ll do better every time, insya Allah.

It’s your PMR year next year, girl... You’d better work hard(er) and smart(er), okay? (Goshhhh!! Baru macam semalam I blogged about her UPSR results! How time flies...)

Hasya :

Here’s the tricky one. If we were to look at Hasya’s Mid-Year and Final Exam rankings since she was in Standard 1, they were #1 and #1 (Std 1), #2 and #1 (Std 2), and #1 and #2 (Std 3). However, for her Mid-Year this year, she slipped to #5! Anyway, syukur Alhamdulillah, for her Finals this year, Hasya got #2.

Yes, she has improved when it comes to her position in class this year, i.e. naik 3 mata anak tangga, BUT, she didn’t get all As for her subjects. For the main UPSR subjects, Hasya got 4As and 1B (No prize for guessing what subject she got B in...YUP! Pemahaman... :( But, she has improved in terms of her total percentage. So, I’m okay about it (but, I’m not sure about her Ayah, though!).

Hasya has been banned by her Ayah from using her laptop and/or going on the internet since we got to know that she got a ‘B’ for her Pemahaman. And that means, she has not been FB-ing for the last 2 weeks. And I think all her plants and animals in Farmville have wilted away, died and gone to heaven. And all the food in her Restaurant City dah basi and berkulat and dah jadi tapai kot?! :)

She kept on asking when the ban will be lifted without telling me in so many words that it’s her Farmville and Restaurant City which she’s so worried about. But, I’m her mother. I know. :)

I just want to prolong her agony at least until Tuesday next week, coz’ that will be the school’s Hari Anugerah Kecemerlangan when she’ll get to go on stage and receive her prize. Unlike the previous years when Hasya would also get prizes for getting highest for 1 or 2 subjects (normally English), this year, she’s only going on stage for getting #2 in her class.

Hilman :

Now, Hilman ni pun tricky jugak ni.

If we were to look at his performance since Standard 1 – his positions in class had been #12 and #5 (Std 1) – meaning he improved a lot that year! He maintained and got #1 and #1 (Std 2), and for his Mid-Year this year, he got #1, too. However, for his Finals this year, he has slipped dua mata anak tangga to #3! And for that, his Ayah has banned him from playing his PS2 and PSP indefinitely. His total percentage has also gone down :(

And unlike the previous years when he would also receive prizes for getting highest for Science, this year he’s only going on stage to receive his prize for getting #3 in class. Just like Hasya, there will be no prize for best in subjects this year...

But, but, but...To make up for it, he will be getting another prize called the “Hadiah Kecemerlangan” which has just been introduced by the school, for getting all As for his exam! Yeay!!! :) But, then again, he got all As for his last exam anyway, so, no "improvement" as such in that department lah this time, kan? Only 5 pupils from his Class got all As apparently. I’m not sure about the rest of the Standard 3 classes. So, insya Allah, Hilman will be placed in the best class next year.

Anyway, I have to admit - this time punyer exam, both Ayah and I were pretty tied up with work and stuff, and neither of us had the time and the chance to come up with our normal mock papers for Hilman and Hasya. In fact, for Hasya we basically left it to her tuition teachers to go over her subjects. And as for Hilman, I only had time to go through his workbooks the nights before his papers :( (Maybe...JUST maybe, the mock papers could have made the difference?!)

Anyway, Mommy just want to say that I am so proud of all three of you!!! Keep up the good work, and Mommy hope to see a lot more improvement for next year, okay? MMMUUUAAAHHHSSS AND (((((HUGS)))))!!!

So, next Tuesday will see both Ayah and I attending SK Sr* Pe*al*in*’s Hari Anugerah Kecemerlangan to cheer Hasya and Hilman on when they walk up the stage to receive their prize(s). That is - IF Ayah tak mogok and doesn’t want to go because his kids didn’t get #1... Hehehe!

If that’s the case, I’ll be there... still :)

And a big shoutout to Hanna's friends who read my blog: