Friday, November 26, 2010


i dont really like updating the look of my blog. i do like the new look every now and then. but being my usual neurotic self, i feel like editing all my previous entries since all the text and pictures are jumbled up. argh...stressness to the max!

on a brighter note, we've booked everything we can for this trip - the stadium tours, the hotels, the trains, buses, entry tickets. the only pending item is the airport transfer from heathrow to the city centre. other than that, its just tearing out the daily calendar.

this weekend will be a weekend of storing old clothes and preparation for the boys' new school year. ah...and maybe i'll edit the jumbled entries then too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Books

the first books given to the boys were their immunisation cards. i love looking at them. more to look at the immunisation schedule and to plan when - when to take leave, when to take them to the hospital - and of course, who - who to take. because the boys are so close in age, their jab schedules sometimes coincide. i try not to take more than 2 at the same time but i think i have done that.

seeing the cards bring back a lot of memories - how each react when they get their jabs, how they react a couple of days after that, how the parents react at their reaction, how they behave at the clinic, how they behave with their pead. there's a lot a parent learn at immunisation sessions, other than of the immunisation itself.

its been a while since we've taken the boys for their immunisation. we're always at the paed's clinic but usually for something that akmal has. the next appointment would be for asyraf's MMR and akmal's two jabs of double antigen & hep A.

while preparing the 2 cards (of asyraf and akmal) i start comparing how each was at birth. time wise, 3 of them were born at almost the same time. almost similar delivery from the time i came into the hospital (8:00am) to the time i was brought into the labour room (8:30am) to the time my gynae came and broke the water bag (yes...she broke all 4 at 9am, i never experienced a water bag breaking before) to the time they were delivered - amir at 2:55pm, asyraf at 2:05pm and akmal at 2:31pm. ariff, the easiest delivery was born at 11:27am. ariff was the only 1 who came out without assistance while the other 3 had to be vacuumed out.

weight too, were similar. amir at 3.08kg, asyraf at 3.07kg and ariff at 3.05kg. akmal came out earlier than his brothers at 36 weeks was slightly lighter at 2.8kg. if he had lasted another week or 2, he may be the same weight as his abangs. their length was also close. asyraf slightly tall at 49cm, amir and akmal both at 48cm and ariff at 46.5cm. head circumference was also within the same range, amir at 35cm, asyraf and akmal at 34cm and ariff at 33cm. semua lebih kurang lah tu.

looking inside the card, all their primary jabs been taken. all except akmal's last 2 jabs. kinda bittersweet. sweet that we dont have to take off work on a monthly basis for jabs anymore but sad, at the same time, that they are all grown. in a couple of months, amir will turn 6 and in a few months, akmal will turn 2. next year, we'll be preparing for amir's entry to standard 1 while akmal will be starting his lessons under cikgu sally. sigh...dah besar dah our eais...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Itinerary

i know some may be wondering how our balik kampung itinerary would look like. i dont really want to share this. not because of kedekut ilmu or anything but its kinda heavy for me to share something i've spent a year doing, something i spent hundreds of hours compiling and most of all because its for the 6 of us, list of things that we like doing, that we look forward to. hence i feel its a bit funny when people ask to see since what you want to do wont be what we want to do, would it? plus they are all easily available on the body of mr google anyway...

but since people have been asking, here's a glimpse of what we'll be up to. the booklet (all 65 pages of it) will only be shared with certain 'chosen' people (you know who you are) but, as i said i'm not kedekut ilmu, so i'll share our itinerary.

we're flying out on wednesday, in the wee hours of the morning, at 3:45am to be exact. the boys would be fast asleep then, so to ensure they sleep for the 7 hours of the journey we rely on dr piriton (with the blessings of the boys' pediatrician). the piriton will also be taken by the parents as we too need our sleep. we are to transit in doha and loved that the travel agency was very attentive and booked us on a connecting flight 2 hours after landing. not too short, not too long. i'm a bit nervous about the 2nd half of the journey as the boys would be up and awake.

our arrival time is quite good, 1:30pm local time. enough time for us to go through immigration and take the airport transfer to town and meet the apartment owner before it gets dark. then it would be unpacking and refreshing time before we step out to get our groceries. we were lucky to get a good apartment, a one-bedded which can sleep up to 6 people, right smack in town. its just off marylebone road and a stone's throw from oxford street and edgware road. kinda like the apartment we used to stay in at stourcliffe close. close to the amenities unlike the hyde park gate apartment - but of course the hyde park gate apartments were of a higher class being right in front of kensington palace (i saw the late lady di in her car once).

anyway, to keep the boys awake to follow the local time, we plan to bring them out - just to the nearby sainsbury's - and get them to fight the jet lag. hopefully we can get them to stay awake until 8pm, at least. then they'll be up at a good time the next day.

day 2 (thursday) - on our first proper day, we plan to take the hop-on-hop-off bus to get ourselves familiar with the area, what's new, what's attractive, what's changed. then we'll take the river cruise and hop back on the bus to get to rainforest cafe at trafalgar square for lunch. after that we'll go around leicester square, picadilly circus before taking a walk towards regent street (or hamleys to be exact). as we'll be indoors early every night (isyak is at 5pm) and on both weekends, we need to keep the boys occupied.

day 3 (friday) - this plan was a bit last minute, it was only finalised in october. i wasnt too keen on outdoor touristy stuff as it would be too cold. i was afraid hubby and the boys wouldnt enjoy being in that weather for too long. but after a lot of thoughts and discussions, we felt that a trip to england would not be complete if we did not visit a 'proper' castle. granted there's buckingham palace and kensington palace in london town itself but it would be nice to see a castle with nice greenery background. so we decided on a coach trip to windsor (being the closest external castle). while googling we found some tours which include one or two other destinations and decided to do a windsor plus oxford tour. the whole trip would be roughly 10 hours with traveling time and we wouldnt get to spend much time in each town (probably about 3 hours max each) but at least we get to cover 2 places in a day.

day 4 (saturday) - this would be hubby's footie day. he's gotten himself tickets for the arsenal-chelsea game. if we have time, we'd take a walk on oxford street in the morning before going our separate ways - hubby and amir to emirates, me and the other 3 back to marylebone.

day 5 (sunday) - we'll probably go down to spitalfields market. one of the apartments that we were looking at was in that area and i have slotted down one weekend to see the market. now that we've booked an apartment in marylebone, i still would like to drop by the market, but only if we're up to it.

day 6 (monday) - we plan to drive down to canterbury. there's a budget car rental very near the apartment, on marylebone road. they've got a good deal for vw sharan (which is even bigger than our 5) and its automatic. most car rental outlets offer a manual vauxhall zafira for the same price. the drive down wont be too long, about 1 and a half hours if i remember correctly. we'll be visiting my old uni (university of kent at canterbury), my lovely eliot college, the beloved parkwood, the high street and maybe the rupert bear museum. when i was there 15 years ago, there was no halal food at all. we bought our meat from 1 guy and it was difficult to get him. now i hear there's a couple of halal outlets in town, alhamdulillah for that. after lunch, we'll drive to ashford (about 25km away) for our pre-christmas shopping at the mcarthur glenn outlet.

day 7 (tuesday) - i found out that the place we'll be heading to will only be open at 12pm. i initially planned to leave the house by 8am to be first in line at the entrance at 10am but now we can leave around 9am and take a slow journey north to staffordshire. i think the boys will scream their lungs out when we arrive at 'thomas land'. right now hubby and i would use codes when discussing some of our plans, thomas land is 'tempat keretapi'. if they boys knew we're planning a trip to their heaven on earth, they would bug us everyday since january. we plan to stay until around 4-430pm before the park closes and before the evening rush hour starts. the we'll be taking the m6 to manchester and spending the night there.

day 8 (wednesday) - i've booked 2 rooms at premier inn without breakfast (i still cant believe a family room costs only £29) so we'll be having our own simple cereal breakfast in the room. at 10am, we would have to be in old trafford for a stadium tour. then we'll drive back to the inn, solat, freshen up and check-out. just a short overnight trip up north. on the way back we plan to stop by bicester village. we're not big shoppers so maybe 3-4 hours would be enough. after dinner at either harry ramsden or pret a manger, we'll start our journey down south.

day 9 (thursday) - early in the morning hubby would be returning the rented sharan. then we'll make our way via the victoria line to emirates stadium. hubby's looking at the legend's tour so we'd prolly be there til around lunchtime. after the tour, we'll take the victoria line to oxford circus and do a bit of shopping. we're trying not to overdo our plans for this day as we had 3 days on the road.

day 10 (friday) - the morning will be spent at madame tussauds. its near the apartment so that we can go back easily when hubby goes off for his friday prayers. after lunch we have no specific plans laid out as its christmas eve. dont think there'll be many places opened and the transport services wont be at its full capacity. so this will be the start of our 3 days at home.

day 11 (saturday) - its prolly good that christmas falls on the weekend at least we wont lose any weekdays. i'd love to go around to look at christmas lights but then again, the transport services may not be encouraging.

day 12 (sunday) - boxing day. another day of footie for hubby. this time its arsenal v stoke. so another day at home for me plus three.

day 13 (monday) - this is another trip where hubby and i use codes. for this its 'tempat tikus'. i cant even spell as the boys know how mickey mouse is spelt. we'll be taking the early morning eurostar down to paris. i wanted to get a train+hotel+park tickets package but they only offer certain train schedule and i'm not keen on leaving the park at 7pm and arriving at st pancras after 9pm. so a better option would be to take the eurostar to paris then take the local train to marne-la-vallee. that would also give us the opportunity to walk around paris. hubby wants to see the eiffel tower and the arch de triomph. i googled a bit and managed to prepare a sub-itinerary for paris, which includes where to leave our luggage, what time is the local train, etc. as we'll be arriving in paris quite early, we'll be able to walk, see the sights, have lunch, take the train and arrive in disneyland around 4pm. i booked us at sequoia lodge. it was a toss between that and the newport bay hotel - both same star, nearby, similar amenities. i stayed at the newport bay with tisu and nenny in 1997 and really liked it. but i have a feeling hubby would like the outdoor-ish environment that sequoia lodge offers. i was lucky to come across a website that lists down the menu of all restaurants in disneyland, so i could browse and decide which would suit us beforehand. we'll be dining at annette's diner on our first night in disneyland. i was attracted by the waitress in rollerskates concept. i'm also thinking whether we want to take the boys to see the wild wild west show but i'm afraid they'd be too tired from the journey.

day 14 (tuesday) - whole day in disneyland. i hope the boys love it. lunch would be at buzz lightyear pizza planet - more for the decor than the food (as the review says) and dinner would be simple mcdonalds at disney village.

day 15 (wednesday) - we'll be checking out and taking the eurostar from paris at 1:04pm. i do think to cover all parks we need more than 2 days but not this time. not to mention, the outlet shopping. an excuse for us to go back??

day 16 (thursday) - final shopping day to buy anything we left out and to take advantage of the boxing day sale. one item which is a must is luggage...i have a feeling we'll be going back with double the amount we came with. packing day for me.

day 17 (friday) - our last day in my kampung. even as i write this i'm getting chills. 17 days, pass by just like that.

so there...our itinerary for the trip. our booklet is more detailed with solat times, info of places, pre-travel, post-travel, timing, maps, booking info. i hope it satisfies those who asked to see the list. if it doesnt, then do look for everybody's best friend - mr google

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Unwell

every few weeks my facebook status would highlight akmal's condition. its a monthly cycle, quite predictive. akmal is very sensitive, he gets flu easily, quite like me. when he has his flu, because of his small nasal airway and small chest, it would lead to blockage faster and the blockage contributes to the high temperature.

sometimes, i regret updating my status about akmal because it would draw un-favourable comments. i do get uncomfortable when people say things like...
'he's always sick' - yes, he falls sick on a monthly basis but he's not 'sick', its normal flu like every other children have but because of his small nasal airway and chest, the effect on him is significantly major compared to other children;

'your children is always unwell' - no, its just akmal, asyraf hardly gets sick (alhamdulillah), amir & ariff gets the occasional flu and fever but that's about it;

'you should look into alternative medication' - well, thank you but we're quite happy with akmal's peadiatrician at the moment. akmal gets special request to see him once a month - regardless he is under the weather or otherwise. his doctor is a peadiatric chest specialist - cant ask for a better doctor than that.

yes, akmal does get sick often but we're not worried. help is there, his medication is there, hubby and i are pretty confident in handling him, his teachers are ok in taking care of him. there have been instances when we dont feel too good. like last month when akmal had his bout of flu. something normal for him but it just wouldnt go away even after taking antamins and claritynes for almost 2 weeks that i just prayed and prayed every night that he would just get over that period. it was too taxing.

there's also times when without warning, his temperature would shoot up above 40c. this usually happens at night. then its voltaren and hours of sponging. those instances are tiring and takes a toll on us.

akmal has many, many medication. from the basic paracetamol, phenergen, voltaren and clarityne to antamin, alvesco, piriton, iliadin, ventolin, prednisolone, seratide, flixonase and of course, his usual augmentin. akmal alone needs over 10 medication when we're traveling.

worried? honestly, no i'm not. i consider taking care of akmal as a lesson. i dont want to be one of those parents who learn with just their first child or first and second children and feel the rest are 'same old, same old'. one would think at no 4, what is there to learn anymore - but with akmal, every month is a learning experience. alhamdulillah, we manage to get through each experience. nothing gives me greater pleasure then waking up, after 3-4 days of night nursing, seeing akmal with a big smile on his face, asking him 'adik baby sihat dah ke?' and having to do that every month, is really wonderful - come on, you have to find something positive out of all this.

everything about the whole situation - the small nasal airway (i remember the first time the peadiatrician told me about it when akmal was just 1 month old, being wheeled into the neonatal ICU), the small chest, the bird's chest that scares quite a number of people, the countless admissions to DSH, the monthly check up (macam pre-natal check up lah pulak), the twice-a-day ventolin and seratide puffs for almost 3 months now - everything about it spells akmal. the peadiatrician is confident he would grow out of it. i pray it will be soon, insyaallah.

akmal's latest hospital visit photos and his everyday medication (the everyday ones, not monthly ones).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My Aim to always have home-cooked food on the table for the boys. i'm very envious of those (moms or dads) who can whip up dishes for their children in a jiffy. i do like cooking, i especially love seeing the pictures from recipe books come to life on in my kitchen. but i'm not there yet. i dont cook on a daily basis, i dont even cook on a weekly basis. i would love to, but its not viable yet for us.

that's why i take great pleasure in planning a weekend of cooking. i know some would say 'itu pun kena plan ke' but for us, yes. we plan the grocery list as we need to be quick about it with 4 terrorists in tow, we also need to buy only necessary ingredients as the next time we cook may be weeks after that. we plan the menu so that we have a bit of everything over the couple of days. we plan so that we dont waste something that is rare for us.

over the past couple of months, hubby and i have been getting an itch to cook. getting the groceries itself is already exciting. the cooking is another thing altogether. seeing the boys enjoy their food is the icing on the cake. giant is great when you leave by 10am while cold storage is great all-around.

the dishes we manage to serve for the boys. lauks like chili crabs, ayam & ikan percik (gasp! they're easy to make), sayur with udang & sayur with sotong (the boys call them octopus).

mexican baked eggs - so easy!
brown minced meat (the recipe calls for refriend beans in the recipe but i altered. put the meat in a square baking pan. top with sour cream and cheese. make 4 indents. break 4 eggs in each quarter. add salsa around it. bake for 15/20 minutes. serve with leftover salsa and sour cream

macaroni soup - a break-away from the normal baked pasta menu
sautee minced onion and crushed garlic. add diced potato and arrots, beef and mushroom. leave til soft. add water. add pasta (boil pasta separately). add herbs (oregano, mixed herbs, rosemary) and season

simple steak
marinade steak with black pepper sauce, mixed herbs, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper & olive oil. grill for 10 minutes each side. serve with cherry tomato, boiled eggs, romaine lettuce & cheese salad

Monday, November 01, 2010

Makeover - Master bedroom & Living Room

bit by bit, we're getting the project done. months after the boys' rooms are done, its daddy and mummy's turn to get a room with a new-look. firstly, the high ceilings need to go. for years we've beared the heat and sweat that comes with being in a room with high ceilings. both the master bedroom and living room had a ceiling with over 15 feet in height. our room also had 4 windows way at the top corner. its like direct entry for morning sunlight hence why we wake up at 650am every weekend and on holidays. looks nice, feels not so nice.

so plaster ceiling heads the list. with that, of course, comes painting. for our room, the main colour should be blue - hubby's and my favourite colour. i needed to find a blue that would go well with white which is the primary colour of our furnishing and finishing. then its the living room. since the sofa set is blueish grey, the feature wall should be of similar colour. i only wanted to paint 1 wall as the living room had sliding doors everywhere. painting the whole living room would be a waste.

so hubby and i planned to start the work on a friday, he was to take leave so that he can monitor the renovation work. the contractor promised that the plaster ceiling work can be done within a day. he was not kidding! but the electrical and paint work needed another day. on saturday we sent 2 boys to school and 2 boys to damansara. all in all, total work took only 12 hours (6 hours for plaster ceiling on friday and 6 hours for painting & electrical work on saturday).

the house was still full of dirt, dust and renovation leftovers. after the cleaners came by on sunday, we finally can enjoy the new rooms.

work being done on friday. thank god i wasnt around, i think i would have fainted from the sight of everything being thrown around.

our room. love the lowered ceiling...goodbye irritating small windows. even akmal gasped in delight when he saw this room. we need a new wing chair, bookshelf and a chest of drawer - all in white. waiting for macy sale. of course, we need new curtains and borders around the room. i'm thinking of pastel or light green as a contrast to the blue.

the living room. love the blue grey feature wall. i seriously want to close off the airwell, its taking up so much space and is a waste. the room needs a new carpet and new curtain. and air-cond.

our family tv area. this room needs a major makeover - the balcony needs to be closed off, plaster ceiling needs to be done and we need to have a linen closet at one unused corner. that will be next year's plan. for now, we bought new curtains to replace the thin, torn ones. that's what happens when you move into a new house when you dont have money, everything bought was of low quality and low cost.


the value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults - peter de vries

grown-ups never understand anything for themselves and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explainning things to them - antoine de saint-exupery
Images by Freepik