Monday, May 30, 2011

Ohhh school holiday....

Sometimes I wish there is no school holiday. Why do they need one anyway??

You need to make sure the pantry is stocked up. Because they will forever be hungry. And you need to make sure you cook something before you leave them at home. And even after you cook, they will still complain they are hungry. Or better still, they don't like what you cook, and they feel like eating something else.

Then you have to bear with the endless whining "I'm bored". Despite the myriads of options they have to occupy themselves... TV, computer, internet, Wii, Ipad, PSP, swimming pool, tennis court, badminton court, bicycle, loads of story books, board games, painting...what else ?????? Think about all those budak2 kampung yang keep themselves happy with batu and guli tu pleaseeee :P

And once they get bored of being bored...they will start bickering and annoying each other...without fail.

And oh yeahhhh...don't forget the money you have to spend and the effort you have to make to get the kids occupied. And the mess in the house...which look more like a scene from Dr Seuss's cat in the hat.

And amidst all these madness, I need to make sure I stay sober. Smile ummi...chill ummi....ohmmmmmm....ohmmmmm...(while the horn start growing on my head)
Life is gooooodddd...I love my kids...tralalalala...lalala...lalala.... ohhhmmmm...ohhhhmmmmm :P am I doing on the 4th day of school holiday this time? Not too bad I guess ;)

I get better every school holidays. This time, the demerit system and the daily schedule help a lot. At least the house and their room is pretty clean. The trick is to keep them busy. REALLY busy. But that is the hardest part.

And school holiday is the time to catch up with your studies...and get ahead of your class....ehemmm ehemmm...ooppsss...that's the tiger mommy in me speaking....but seriously...can't be all play no work right?? ;) BTW..there is a very nice write up on Amy Chua on yesterday's The Star. 

We did nothing on Saturday. Luq & Hajar had tahfiz class in the morning, and Onn was working in the afternoon. And I didn't want to go anywhere at night because I was anticipating the Barca vs MU game. So much of anticipation....dozed myself all the way through....woke up 4.30am..right on the 90th minute. damn pissed with myself...damn pissed bcoz Barca played awesomely....damn pissed "SOMEBODY" watched the game "ALONE"!!!! The only consolation is Barca won ;)

On Sunday, after the tahfiz class finished, we brought the kids to 1Utama. I hate going to shopping complex on weekend. Double hate when it's a school holiday. The crowds just give me spitting headache. But because I felt so obliged to treat the kids, had to brave myself through the crowds...not to mention had to drag my sleep deprived reluctant husband along.

First we went to Genius Aulad's story telling in MPH. Genius Aulad is an Islamic preschool using English as a medium. They have few branches in Klang Valley. Unfortunately, none anywhere near my neighbourhood. Which means my hunt for a good English Islamic kindy for Ms Maddie still continues.

Anyway, I love story telling. I think there should be more of this. And not only to preschoolers. Storytelling should be extended to bigger kids and tween and teenagers too. Such a powerful outlet to engage them and get your message across. And to inculcate the love of reading to the youngsters. The girls had fun. Hajar & Emily is a tad too old for this, coz I think the target audience is more of preschoolers. But they were chaperoning Medina....doing their part as the nice sisters...while reliving whatever child left in them... ;)

They had 2 storytelling sessions with 2 colouring activities and some singing and dancing and hokey pokey in between.

There were 2 drawing sessions. Three best drawings were chosen for each session.  And guess what?? Medina won.

And she won again ;)

She was happy. The sisters were ecstatic.

She generously gave one of her prezzies to Kakak Hajar, for helping her out ;) Ummi was really proud of Ms Maddie ;)

After the storytelling, we went to watch Kungfu Panda.

Inner peace....inner peaceeee....yes much needed. Lots of it okay. I was actually too tired to enjoy the movie. But kids had a good laugh. And Emily didn't sleep throughout the movie. So I guess everybody had a good time.

So today, back to work. I went to Monash in the morning, with the Astro smart card. And dearest abah disconnect the internet halfway through the day, coz somebody was caught web surfing. Nobody argues with me why they need to study on school holiday. Coz everybody agrees we already had fun yesterday ;)

So now you know why I felt so obliged to drag myself to a shopping complex on weekend...I need to make them feel obliged to do their work...and guilty if they don' return of ummi's hard work...hahahaha...I am so twisted. Hopefully this obligation will last at least for the week. You do what you need to do ;)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vanity at 3

I thought I'm vain. Well, Ms Maddy is wayyyy more vain than me. Maybe she get that from the father, whom I think is more vain than me....hahahahaha.

She's turning 4 in September. So technically she's 3+++. The stuffs that come out from her mouth sometime makes me wonder...where did u get this hahhh? And most of the times she cracks me up too. She can be really funny...and witty. I think it's the result of having older siblings as your playing buddies. It makes you think like a tween, or a teenagers...not a 4yo.

She hates her school uniform. I actually think the uniform is cute. Don't u think so??

"I look like a dork". DORK?? U r too young missy to be  a dork!!

She had to wear the uniform on Tuesday for her school trip to the firestation. So I have to tell her one merry go round looong bullshitting story to make her agree to wear it. And she insist to take it off immediately after she came back from school.

Refused to be photographed in that "dorky" uniform.

Yesterday, out of the blue, she took my lisptick and asked me to put it on her.

And this is how u pose when u have your lipstick on. SIGHHHHH....

Rock the world Medina ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting fit and in shape.

As I get nearer to the big 4-0, I started feeling very sluggish. Plus I have gained quite a bit of weight. Well..probably more than a bit. Blame it on the countless cup of coffees. Anyway, watching how my parents struggled with their health in their 50's and 60's scares the shit out of me. At 50, Madonna is still looking h-a-w-ttttt ;) I remember seeing Mick Jagger performed in one of the shows and thinking...what the hell?? The dude is rocking the stage like nobody's 70+??? Anywayyyy,  our dearest Rasulullah (pbuh) was a very fit man too. He was actively fighting in war in his 50's.

So I started running beginning of the year. But I got very weak knee. So the knee pain started. Then I have been running on and off. Inconsistently. And the frequent evening rain doesn't help much. So I have found an alternative. Belly dancing...wooottt ;)

I have always wanted to dance. But I have 2 left feets. And I think I'm dyslexic too. Can never remember the steps. So I will look really stupid dancing with people. So thank you to youtube I can do it all by myself.

This is one video that I have been doing for quite a while. Zaheer Rafiq Arabic Belly Dance Fat Burning. Again, inconsistently. But I really sweats. And I like the steps coz it's not too strenuous like some other dance steps. Good for super beginner like me. There are 4 parts. The third part is the most challenging. But I enjoy the workout. Of course, watching the svelte dancers effortlessly working it out is the most painful part ;P
Sometime I complement the belly dance with the yoga exercise from here. This is super hard for me, but I think if I do it everyday, I should be more agile ;)

From time to time, I get a bit bored with the same routine. So I alternate the belly dance workout with another video from here.

I think, if I do this everyday, plus 30 minutes running 3 times a week, plus limiting my cuppa to strictly 1 cup a day (hence limiting my sugar intake), plus diligently taking my 5 serving of fruits & vege & 8 glass of water...I probably can shed 10kg by year end. Do you think so???? hahahaha...we'll see ;) 

Let's change the inconsistent to consistent first.

The progress of my demerit system

I think it's working ;) Of course I have to be very cautious with their motivation over money. But seriously, I have seen some positive changes.

This is how they finished last month.
Hajar got $72, Luqman $68, and "somebody" ended up with a deficit. The deficit were mainly due to her missing her prayers. I think it was quite hard for her when we took Hajar & Luq out to spend their money, and she has to stay back home. Luckily my parents was around at that time. So she was home doing her homework with Epi. Hopefully she will earn some money this month. Come on Emily, u can do ittttt !! :)

This is the latest update as of today.
 Do you notice who is leading?? ;-) That is one of the most obvious change I have noticed. Last month, not suprisingly it was Hajar all the way. She's my ambitious proactive most reliable girl. I know she will be reading this...hahahaha...but truly my dear, I am very proud of u ;) Luqman never give a hoot about it. And that has always been my problem. His couldn't care elss attitude with almost everything. So to see the competitive side of him coming out is really2 a nice suprise.

Towards the end of last month he started actively earning points. Washing the dishes, cleaning up the table, cleaning up the living room etc etc. Last night, he washed the dishes and Hajar put away all the groceries. This never happened before. Even Emily have started doing small favours like taking plate for me, or water for Hajar...sweeetttt. I think she's slowly understanding the concept ;)

Their rooms are much much cleaner nowadays. Some days they are messy. But not as messy as before. This is the girls' room this morning.

They are supposed to clean up the room either before they go to bed or before they go to school. The room used to be so messy and it annoys the hell out of me. Everything unthinkable is on the floor, on the bed, in the closet...they still got lots to improve, but I sincerely think this is an achievement ;)

Just like Stephen Covey is never too late with a child. NEVER. So keep your faith ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Exam fever

Emily & Hajar's exam starts today. Luqman's will start on Friday. So the house is a bit of a war zone. I am no where near a tiger mommy. More like a "fang"less tiger mommy.

We have never push the kids so much academically. No tuition (unless really2 necessary). On the pretext of we don't want to pressure them so much, and we want them to enjoy their schooling years, and we are not kiasu parents who only appreciate how many A's you got. I think the real truth behind this is (at least for me), due to my childhood experience. Dad was so fierce and excellence in education is all that matters to him. And this can be retraced back to his deprivation of education during his childhood as well. Me and Hisham were so terrified if we didn't get 1st place. That's all that matters. And in the end, of course both of us did really well in academic. But we also grow up to be somebody who never think we are good enough in anything. So I guess my leniency towards the kids has a lot to do with how much I hate this part of my childhood.

However, the price for that leniency and lack of expectation is the kids become so lackaidisical. Their academic performance is very2 average, and to some below average. Luq's performance has deteriorated to D's...D???? Hell yeah....and the excruciating part is he doesn't seem to be bothered by the string of C's and D's he's getting. And me being super overwhelmed with Emily's issues, Hajar has always been left to be independant ...and it is less than 100 days to her big exam UPSR, and she's still struggling with her weak subjects. BM and Maths. And she's not doing super excellent in other subjects too. And she's still having problem prioritizing and focusing. And of course Emily continues to be soooo behind her peers.

This mid year exam is a big thing to me. I need to see there is light at the end of the tunnel. I need to change. Onn needs to change. In order for the kids to change. I have been reading a lot. One of the books I have been scouring is Zaid Mohamad's Smart Parent's Brighter Kids.
I actually bought the Malay version. Couldn't find the English version. Anyway, I like this guy coz I think he has the same philosophy with me. Sort of ;). Kids can excel best at home. No tuition, no boarding school.

He outlined his 7 strategies on how to get your kids to excel. Starting with love. So easy to say, so difficult to do. Especially when you end up in that frustrating power struggle trying to get everybody to do their works. It's difficult to feel love, and express love when you feel like pulling your hair and everybody's hair too. Let's keep it real lah kan??? hahahaha...I soo sound like a bitch mother here.....but I do get his point. And I have read this many times too. Khalifah method puts a lot of emphasis in creating a loving environment in our home too. Kids learn better when they feel the LOVEEEEE :P

His strategies are quite good.To be honest, I have not much expectation. I was expecting more of the typical generic yada yada yadaaa strategies. But one of the things he suggested is to have a schedule, and a plan for each child. Detailing where they are and where they want to be. Academically. And of course I am pretty sure this works well in life too. So this is one of THE missing links between me and my kids all this while. I keep telling them they must improve, must score...and none of us had no idea what exactly that means. It's pretty ridiculous to expect everybody to get all A's right?? But that has been pretty much my generic statement all this while. Of course, ideally he suggested that this vision plan thingy to be a collaboration between you and your child. But me being me, to get this started let's just do it myself first lah kan?? hahaha....

Anyway, I painstakingly prepared the daily schedule for everybody. Which they painstakingly try to follow.

It has not been followed to the tee. But I DO get them to do more works done than before. Before, everybody came back from school and dumped their bags at the door...and chill  (read; watch TV, facebook, computer, PSP all day all night).

And I let it be, because they are tired, and I am tired, and it's much easier for all of us. Trust me, to improve their grades, to make them excel in life, and even to be a kiasu over ambitious parents....need LOTS of work and active involvement from the parents. Which is why many people choose the easier way. Just let them be....Que sera sera....

The schedule still needs tweaking. My biggest problem is they are very tired after spending the whole day in school. And with homeworks, it's sometimes almost impossible to do any revision on week day. And kids like Emily will just shut down once she's tired. But a schedule is still waaayyyy better than no schedule.

Then I printed their past performance. And their target for this coming mid year exam. Pasted this on their door. Doing this helps clarify lots of things to me, to Onn, and to them. I realize Emily is not that bad. She got some C's which we can work on to B and even A. Her E's are those subjects that she usually submit an empty paper. Not because she doesn't understand anything, but more of the techniques to answer the questions are too alien to her. So we got hope ;)

And I realize Hajar's weakest subjects are Bahasa Malaysia (writing) and Maths. And the main reason is more of lack of practise and effort...rather than the subjects are difficult. So if I drill her to do even a bit of these 2 subjects everyday, she will definitely improve. You don't excel in language and Maths overnight my dear. It comes with practise.
And of course dearest Luqman is trailing behind. C & D are just not acceptable. Especially for him. He needs to realize that if you trail behind in secondary, you just cannot catch up. It's going to get worse and worse. And he needs to learn to make good choices, and take charge. Luqman is the type of kid who will do well if the teacher is good and interesting, and vice versa. Coz he didn't study much at home. So he captures and absorbs everything that he knows purely (my guess) from the classroom. So if the teacher is boring, tough luck. But the thing is, you will face this issue throughout your life. A boring teacher, a boring can't blame them for your performance. You have to figure out what u can do to make it interesting. And with internet, there is just no excuse my dearest son.
So with all these in place, Saturday and Sunday was tough. The house was like a war zone. At some point, I feel like packing my bag and just run away. It was so frustrating and so hard. But in the end, me and Onn got everybody to work. And for the first time in history, Emily actually revised everything that needs to be covered for the exam.

Whatever the outcome doesn't matter. The most important thing is to keep the system in place. And to keep going. The outcome will improve if you got the system in place. God give me strength, and patience, and lots of wisdom. Pleaseeeee. Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry cheese cake

I am not a Secret recipe's fan. I found their cake too dry to my liking. But few weeks ago, after lunch with Pei Ming, I need some small change, and need to kill time before picking up Medina. So I had a slice of the raspberry cheesecake, and suprisingly liking it.

So I went back and start googling. And made this...tadaaaa ;)

The crust recipe is from here and the cake is from here. I have made this twice. Quite nice. But still need to tweak the recipe. It's too dense for me. I love lighter cheesecake. Bon appetit ;)

Happy Mother's Day

Mom n Dad were here for 10 days. They went back to Kota Bahru yesterday. The house felt kinda empty. The kids were complaining they should be here longer. My laundry will start piling up again...hehehe...coz mom will dilligently fold them everyday. I miss them.Terribly.

It's great to see how they perk up spending time with the grandchildrens. Despite their deteriorating health, they just look better. Dad was beaming with pride when Medina joined him for Maghrib prayer daily. He soo looked forward for it every night ;) He also bought a study lamp for Luqman, in his attempt to provide a conducive learning environment and inspire his only grandson. And I know he's really happy to see Hajar & Luqman going to tahfiz class on weekend...and seeing Hajar wearing her hijab ;)

To be honest, I am not very close to my parents. Our relationship has always been so formal. In addition, me and my siblings spend our growing up years away from them. The boarding school. The university years. And by the time I graduated, I was too busy with my own family. During those years, I had my fair share of fighting and disagreements with them. The biggest was probably my refusal to do medicine in India. I know my dad was so crushed.

Anyway, after 4 kids, I have come to realize parents are flawed. But most parents will work so hard to do their best in giving the best to their children. Maybe their best is not best enough. But we, the children... should learn to accept it & live with that. Our children should be taught to appreciate and respect their parents. Not holding the grudges of all the mistakes and the flaws.

Nowadays, I learn a lot just by observing my parents. Once your kids become adult, you don't have the power to change them anymore. Even if you don't like it. They have their own mind. Their own way. Their own life. So you have to swallow the heartache, the pain, the have to learn to let go. Something that my parents are really struggling with. Which also makes me more adamant to have all my kids close to me during their growing up years.

Need to make sure their foundation is strong. Spiritually and emotionally. Need to make sure they will have strong filial piety. Need to make sure they will love, respect & appreciate their parents unconditionally. Need to make sure they know all the sacrifices made. Need to make sure I don't have to tiptoe around them when I grow old. Need to...SIGHHH :P

It's just so sad and heartbreaking to see how my mom n dad are so disappointed with certain issues with my siblings, and yet  they have to tiptoe gingerly on the subject matter, not the other way round. The time when ironically, parents have to be careful with what they want to say, and what they want to do. And the children are not so careful with what they say, and what they do.

Anyway, on a happy2 note.....I was having my sugar crave yesterday. And since it was Mother's Day, it was just a perfect excuse for me to indulge myself ;) Bought this from Opera in Empire. For me n mom.

Berry mille crepe. Not bad. I actually quite like it. But Onn and kiddos don't really fancy it. My genetically so not adventurous brood ;P

For the uninitiated, Mille Crepe is a French dessert, basically made by many layers of very thin cooked pancake. There are some custards and other flavorings in between the layers, usually presented in slices, kinda like Cheesecake. Mille literally means a thousand, but in this case, there were 20 layers of crepe that made up this dessert. Opera has 2 type, Berry & Mascarpone. Maybe next time I should try Mascarpone ;)

In the afternoon, we went to KLIA to send off mom n dad. And while kids were having late lunch in KFC, the staffs gave away the gift. Sweet thought. Nice suprise. Love it. Though I hate the junks inside ;)
 The one who's enjoying the gift. And end up being so hyper after the sugar overdose.

Happy Mother's Day people ;) Mom & Dad, I love you...God bless all of us. Amen.