Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"I'm pregnant not sick"

It was almost 12 pm today when we reached the foothill of Gunung Senyum, somewhere in the middle of palm oil estate in Temerloh, Pahang. I was with a friend and an Iraqi PhD student.

I saw two MSc students waiting for us. The arrangement was, a ranger would take us in but he was nowhere to be seen. They told me he left with a visitor, one of the most prominent and active caver in Malaysia. I knew he was coming as I talked to him yesterday but he told me he would be out from the cave just about time that I supposed to arrive.

Anyway, both ranger and caver were almost at the entrance when I (dengan begitu greamnya, macam singa lapar) called them. Ranger confidently said, since it was students third time there he was sure they could bring us in. It was my third time too but the first one was like ages ago, and I could be easily lost in malls, what more hutan hijau tropika!

But we moved on...walking in no prob as it was down a slope all the way but we spent about an hour trying to locate the entrance ofthe specific cave. Since I'm 32-week (I think, lost count already lah) or 8 month pregnant, I was not going to be moving around and left it to the students. Actually ada sedikit upset as I thought they should have tried harder to stop the ranger as I already made the arrangement last week.

Anyway, both caver and ranger did their job fast and suddenly I received a receiving tone from the caver's phone. Told him, we would wait for him somewhere.

We finally met them, I would terkam ranger like singa lapar if not due to the presence of the caver. ...thought ranger would follow us in. But he apologised and apologised saying that his mom is warded and he had to be out of there. Again said he was confident students could bring us in. The word mom being warded really softened singa lapar a bit.

I asked what if we didn't get out. He said with a smile, he would arrange a search party tomorrow morning...grrrr!

And he gave me one look and sigh "Macam ni pun mau datang lagi (referring to my tummy)". I asked "What?" pretending I didn't get him.

Anyway, we managed to finish everything. Getting there was quite streaneous especially to a 8-month-pregnant lady;) and it was almost up and up the slope all the way back. Back and forth was almost 4 hours walk.

All I wanted was a hot shower at home, and later a back massage by hubby's magical hands. But we don't have water-heater, home was still at least 4 hours away and hubby is outstation and will only be back tomorrow...huhuhu!!

I remember his words last night. "Don't go, let the students do it". I said "I don't trust them..."

I remember I asked a Californian lady geologist during a trip to Gunung Buda in Sarawak when I was 5-month preggie with Bea2 "Would you be doing this if you are 5 month pregnant". She said "No way...I would curl on my sofa with the aircond on".

The Iraqi kept asking me "Are you ok?". Got tired with that I said "I'm pregnant, not sick!".

So, what all the hassle are about. Let me share with you a bit:

This is what we call stalactite or soda straw. Rainwater percolates through cracks in the limestone cover, dissolved the rock and depending on the saturation may or may not form the stalactite or stalagmite. Observe the tip and you can see the tiny bit of water. We wait for it to drip and it takes ages and it drives us crazy.

Why it is important? Because it carries the information about among other things, certain elements from the rain that could tell about the climate.

And when it drops and form this:

the information about the climate is preserved along the growth of the stalagtite. When we have the date of the tite, we know when for example the history of the changes of the climate thousands of years ago!

So, that's the reason why a 8-month pregnant lady was adamant that she should do the trip.

Well, anyway...that's one of my passion I'd say. And I'm glad I'm making a living out of it too.

And many goes oooh and ahhh when they got to know that I'm doing the Mothering Mothers at the same time. Think one comment from Shamira explains it:

"Been busy in my own world lately and so am glad to have someone like you to steer this and bring us back into realities of life"

Yes, a lot of time I'm too busy that I tend to be too comfortable with my life that I forget about the reality. So, that's why I gave a slap on my face last week (after being bugged by another mom, you know who you are;)), and went ahead with it eventhough at the same time I was sceptical that I could make it with such a short time. Alhamdulillah for the responce so far.

Anyway, about being 8-month preggie and in out of caves. is too risky sometimes but I try to pray to Almighty all the time to keep me away from harm and I just believe my instinct. That's how I do it, Alhamdulillah though challenging, all goes well.

Ok now I should be in bed. Keep the spirit high for Mothering Mothers ok!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

With a recipe like this, I don't have to wait for weekend to bake

I had all stuffs ready for yet another baking adventure (I mean trying out new recipes) on Sunday. But it just didn't happen for various reasons.

I had to wait for that, but I had some pathetic looking brown bananas needed to be rescued. I was so glad that I found this recipe. Easy peasy, no need for mixer, less cleaning up.

In fact I did that while coaching Bea1 with her spelling last night. Thank God for the tiny apartment, she in the living and me the kitchen and we were just yelling to one another.

I just love looking at the batter rising up in the oven.

3 bananas, 2/3 cup corn oil, 1 cup milk, 3 cups flour (I just used self-rising flour) and 1 cup sugar give us 20 medium-sized (the square tins), 24 mini muffins and a flat (less batter left) loaf of banana cake. Plenty for Bea1 to bring to both schools, Bea2 and Bea3 to kindy, to be shared with the babysitter and for teatime today.

Thought of having them plain but Bea2 insisted to help out. Wished we have those colourful sprinkles but the choc chips were fine too. Thought i would see the common banana cake look, but all I got was smooth texture inside. Maybe due to over-blending.

Kids love it, I love it...will definitely bake it again. An excellent alternative to the boring oily cokodok pisang!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kids develop in funny ways sometimes

I remember Bea1 started to cruise around the house, holding furniture or the cot to stand up at about 9 months old. She did that for a while, and then stopped. There was very little moments of 'bertatih' for her.

Until a day after her birthday, she just got up and walked and from that moment no looking back for her. I thought in all that 3 months, the muscle of her legs (or whatever) has been developed for proper walking but my girl just found cruising too slow that she preferred to crawl.

Bea3 had been talking just like her sisters since about she was a year old. I'm not sure if I can call it baby-talk but she used to only pronounce the last 'sukukata' (aiseh I can't remember what they call it in English). Up till she turned 3, she could tell a story but only with the last sukukata for each word. Was a bit worried then, but I thought it was not that she was not talking...only the pronounciation. It was challenging to understand her sometimes, frustrating too.

Right after her 3rd birthday, all of a sudden words flowed smoothly that it really surprised everybody. Her opah, atuk and my parents were all surprised to listen to her talking. Such a drastic change, they said and I could not agree more.

I thought all this while she had been absorbing words but I just don't know why only then she says them loud. Now, I get something like this from her:

We were driving to school one morning
Bea3: Mama, Nisha nampak mama kat situ.
Mama: Mana?
Bea3: Situ (pointing to the front screen)
Mama:Oh, itu imej mama.
Bea3: Kenapa mama ada kat situ?
Ok, you get the drift...

Just something to share before I head off to dropping and fetching again. I'm sure some parents experience that too....ciao!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Choosing a mattress also a headache!

Eight years and almost 5 kids later, hubby finally complained that the mattress has became too soft for him. Well, I thought he should be aware that he is gaining weight more and more that the mattress also cannot tahan already.

Anyway, being a loving wife that I am, I'm more concerned about his back. And I'm aware about all the hypes about how imporatant a good mattress is. So it's time to buy a new mattress at....where else if not Ikea!

We waited for the Bedroom Weeks Sales as only during this time they have the service to dispose the old mattress for free. We'd love to change our rickety bed as well but no free disposal for that. That's really a problem for us.

We bought both also from Ikea, on sales for less than RM700 8 years ago. That time we didn't really know how to choose a mattress, all bantai aje.

Anyway, I just love the way they make our life easier by putting something like this in the catalogue:

That exactly sound like hubby, easy peasy...but wait a sec. How about the partner who has all the opposites of the above, with half of the weight. Anyway, I somehow thought that firm was generally always good.

Though I hate weekend crowd, we did a trip to Ikea on Sunday for hubby to test the mattresses there. What I had in mind was we must find the most firm type which they say suitable for those who are heavy. And hubby's weight is already in the range that needs the most firm type. And I don't think hubby would shed his kilos, only gain.

He suggested that we chose something in between firm and soft, but that time I could not concentrate as my mind was kind of made up. Plus with the kids fighting over food (having dinner at the cafe) and the crowd, I could not think straight. So we chose one spring 26 cm mattress, a matress pad and a waterproof mattress protector. The second most expensive Ikea purchase after the kitchen cabinet. Thanks to the zero-interest monthly payment for Ikea Friends.

But I made a deal with hubby before that. The mattress must be in the master bedroom, that also means we would finally move out from the girls' room. He was reluctant, saying that they were not ready. But I was adamant that there won't be any space for the new baby in that room any more.

When he is reluctant I can't rely too much on him. So yesterday, while waiting for the delivery with the help of a Phillipino maid from a cleaning service, I dissembled and reassembled a daybed and part of a queen bed, and switched places. Daybed to girls' room and queen bed to master room. It was tiring, I was drenched in sweat but we laughed a lot. It was good to do that with a total stranger. I stick to the same company but I never had the same maid twice.

Later, I welcome our new mattress and bid farewell to the old almost dilapidated one. A bit sad and embarrassed too as it has stains all over milk (mostly breast milk of course), pee (from the kids of course) and DNA maybe...hehe!

Hubby made the effort to 'reinforce' the bed a bit at night. Tighten screws, a little ketuk here and there...and after that's not that rickety any more!

I felt satisfied...the day's hardwork paid off, I thought. Just according to the deal with Bea1, I must stay with them in their room till they are asleep, then only I could leave. I did that and fell asleep too. Woke up and was eager to try our new mattress the first time.

But far from what I expected, I just tossed and turned for hours, I tried to snuggle closer to hubby for comfort but something was just not right. Not because I missed the girls, or Adel kept kicking me....I felt just a little comfortable than laying on a piece of a wood plank. And I missed my old mattress...arghhh!

I tried laying on it again this morning, trying to be comfortable on it...but still it was too hard to me. It was not feel that bad in the showroom.

Yes, I'm happy with the 100-day return policy that Ikea is giving now but I just feel so tired. Now I think, I should try the ones in between the firm and soft. I should have done it and escape the hassle.

I flipped the catalogue again. Since we bought the expensive mattress pad (for spring mattress), we are stuck with it as it is non-returnable unless we choose a spring mattress again. The pad is quite thick and now I don't think we need that thick mattress. From what I saw the prices are a lot cheaper. Ikea will give vouchers for refunds but I have promised myself that I was not going to get big Ikea stuffs for some time after the purchase. Well, I may have to sell them I guess.

I will definitely change the mattress and I hope I won't make the mistake twice. Hubby won't like it when he finds this out. When the time comes...I will put the "Ikea Vouchers for Sale" ads the meantime, guess I have to squezze with Adel on the sofabed in the girls' room *sigh*.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tiny yogurt marble cupcakes

Curious of how a cake with yogurt taste, I gave it a try. I love' em tiny, but swirling the batter to make the pattern in tiny paper cups is challenging.

I baked them in 24 tiny and 4 big cups. They turned out ugly the first time. I used a chopstick to twirl the batter.

The first batch gone within minutes. That's how ravenous my kids are.
Ugly or not, it does not matter if your kid indulge like this, right?

I whipped another mixture and baked it in a big pan, malas already. I got better pattern this time around. Then only it occured to me, the chopstick was too big.

With that in mind, I tried again today. I used a stick that we got when we buy readily cut fruits. A toothpick will do the job too. Better I guess, but think more experienced and artistic baker can do better.

Bea1 brought some to school today (replacement classes). And I'm sure the rest will be gone soon too.

Recipe and better pic can be found here. But I only made half of the choc mixture and omitted the coffee. I also only bake my tiny cakes in about 13 minutes in 165C.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some tales about shoes

When it comes to shoes, I'm one of those rare species of women that does not mind having only a few pairs at a time. I have a casual pair that I 'lanyak' everyday. Something flat that goes well with my everyday jeans and pants, something like mocassin or just a pair of loafers. And they must be black or dark brown for easy matching.

I have maybe one pair for formal occasions, and one or two pairs of sandals to wear with my baju kurung. I only buy new ones when I can't even take a look at them. My everyday wear can last me for more than a year most of the time. As I rarely wear the others, they last even longer.

For brands I've been sticking to Hush Puppies, Vincci and La Premavera for quite some time now. That's it!

Until I heard about a friend who raved about her Clarks. Well, I never really considered Clarks as I thought I just could not afford it. My friend reminded me to look out for Clarks summer sales when I was in the UK. I did that (without being aware of the prices of them over here). In fact I went to two shops. They were priced about 20-30 pounds a pair which I thought was good. But nothing really suited me...they were summer sales, but what they had to me looked more for winter. I left empty-handed.

But I still could not get over my friend's raving about it. I finally bought my first pair of Clarks in 1U last year. It was the most expensive pair for me, something like this

with a sole like this. I didn't find the exact model in the net.

I wore them for everyday 'lanyak'ing for 4 months happily until one of the leather strands broke off. A bit dissapointed as I thought Clarks should last longer (but maybe not with my 'lanyak'ing). A cobbler asked for RM40 to repair but a Clarks branch in MidV said I could return it to 1U branch. I did that, and they said they need two weeks. I was glad that they didn't ask for a payment. A pair caught my eyes there but told hubby, with that incidence no more Clarks for me. Not worth it lah!

About a week after that I received a call. The shoe was beyond repair but before I could feel even sadder, the staff surprised me with "You can come here to choose a new pair!". I didn't expect that at all. No question asked, they didn't even ask for a proof of purchase, well they may have the record. Anything I like, if the price is higher than my old sandals I have to pay the difference, if lower there won't be any refund. I was so excited!

So, off I went to get my brand new Clarks. I just took the one that caught my eyes during the previous visit. I'm not very keen to show my feet, they look bad now as with each pregnancy I have dry skin all over. But the sandals look nicer in them, so:

Nice or not? Hubby says "Buruknya....!". He thinks all my sandals have 'orang tua' punya design. To him I just should be in something most comfortable like the mocassin everywhere at any time even in my baju kurung. He does not like the colour too. Malas layan!

That's of course not for everyday 'lanyak'ing. So I just got myself another pair from Hush Puppies today. Hubby would approve this, I know.

But when Bea1 first saw it, she said "I've seen shoes like this the airport, in London!" It must be worn by some simple yet stylish woman, I thought.

She continued "Orang tua gemuk!"

And the image of a plump English old lady in long white socks came to mind....Arghhhh!

Anyway, something to share with other Clarks fans. The staff in 1U said a lot of Clarks come from China now, unlike last time. Even those in the UK, so quality has been compromised (not very sure if I use the right word here). But with the kind of service I get from Clarks...think I would definitely consider buying them again. But not too soon!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The bestest cheese omelette!

Crack some eggs. Add some milk and beat.

Pour on a hot skillet, cut (or if mama is lazy, she just tear) cheese slices into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the eggs.

Carefully turn both sides of omelette while trying not to let the melted cheese to get out. Anyway that's a job for big hands. Let it cook for a while and remove.

It needs a little garnishing, and since we never have enough of cheese...we cut more cheese and decorate as we please while it is still hot...Yummy!

Friday, April 03, 2009

I love Fridays even more now!

I normally hate crowd in malls but I love watching working ladies talking and laughing over their lunches on Friday, maybe with colleagues and friends. The long lunchtime is always the right time to catch up with friends to most working moms, and to do quick shopping.

But to me it is completely different. Previously it meant more time at the playground in the kindy, as I allowed the kids to play as long as they wished. Later, longer time at the babysitter's with them.

Once I was driving with them to the babysitter's, and there was Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" on the radio. All of us sang that out loud together, that felt so good even I did that with a bunch of 4-6 year olds...but it just occured to me "What am I doing?, it's Friday lunchtime...why didn't I make arragement to have some catching up with with friends over lunch somewhere in one of the malls".

And it just ended there....I found it really hard to do just that!

And now Bea1 finishes KAFA at 1030 and starts school at 2.10 pm, the new routine is we would fetch the other two girls from kindy at about 11 am and it's girls timeout!

And you may guess means a trip to Ikea for almost every week now. Well we did Ikea every week before this, but normally at night after work. Can't afford to do that now as Bea1 must be in bed early.

We even do grocery shopping together during Friday lunchtime. That also means we almost stop doing outing to malls during the weekend now. I like that as I just hate weekend crowd.

Since I have no class in the morning for the past a few weeks, both Bea1 and I even manage to be home. If I have urgent work, I just do in the comfort of home sweet home. Alhamdulillah for the short distance again!

Today, I managed to do some housechores while she helped a bit. Later we fetched the two girls and brought them to the office. An ex-student was throwing a thank-you party for lunch. The girls were the only kids there but they were so excited and had so much fun running around, making the party more lively. Since there was no routine trip to Ikea, I brought them to the campus bookstore. Normally I just brought Bea1.

The younger two were so excited with the newly arrived books of Barbie's Mariposa. While Bea1 just could not decide on what to get, everything looked good to her. She just wanted to sit there and read but it was almost school time. They finally settled on a number of books that cost me almost RM100. I keep having the image of their anticipation on their faces, of being home with the new books on my mind!

My girls now eagerly wait for Fridays. And I'm still finding ways to do more catching up with friends. Managed to belanja an old friend yesterday at...of course Ikea again (to take a peek at their Bedroom Week Sale, that's why I do not mind for no Ikea today hehe). Can't do that often, though.

Well, I just stick to phonecalls for the time being. Get to fetch Bea1 now...have a great weekend everyone!