Saturday, February 28, 2009

Haiqal Turns 7

happy birthday, haiqal!

who is haiqal?
  • my nephew
  • my eldest sister's eldest son
  • my abah's first grandson
  • he's the only one whom my mak took care of when yong went to work - very, very manja with my mak!


and now he's a young man at 7! all grown up and off to standard 1, learning taekwando, was chosen for a reading performance of a rather difficult piece in the english language and winning an award for best behaviour, an anugerah sahsiah terbaik or something.

have the funnest birthday celebration, haiqal. khaleef and kahfi tak sabar nak jumpa dengan abang!

for a wacky birthday present, just enjoy these shots, taken somewhere in 2007, when we lepak at abah's house in ipoh for a fun weekend.








* * *

on another note, i received a rather chatty visitor today. all the way from malaysia, she came to doha initially to visit a relative. then she flew here to jalan-jalan, and going to oman next for more jalan-jalan! i call her kak yong mislia and she is yong's sister in law. a fun person with endless stories to share, she brought me packets of keropok ikan. yum!

she talked about her many 'adventures' in her many trips to numerous places. she's really a resourceful traveller - independent and ready to walk a mile to gain fresh experience and meet new people. she also doesn't mind spending the extra money in return for a priceless journey to another country.

she said she's already 'in love' with dubai marina, saying that it's definitely the 'new york of middle east'. she even called yong just to shout, "syimee!!! dubai marina cantiknyaaaa!!!" she said she really enjoyed 'the walk', and vowed that on her next trip to dubai marina, she would wear her sneakers instead, and really 'walk' from one end to the other.

that's a real traveller!

kak yong mislia pictured here with haiqal's youngest sister, the chubby wubby husna born a few months before kahfi

thank you for the keropok and your fun, warm presence. kalau singgah dubai lagi do visit us again! i know you will definitely come back to dubai marina, right?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lit Fest & A Fun-tabulous Bday Party

the dubai international festival of literature kicked off yesterday. we went today to check out the buzz of activities on the second day. we went straight to the festival square which is an open space at the heart of the mall - dubai festival city. there were performances in and outside of the square with stages on both sides, placed back to back.

shoppers can either watch the performances inside the confines of the mall, or outside in the open. under the sun. amidst the heat. it was an obvious choice for me!

the festival square @ dubai festival city

when we arrived, the choir group from dubai british school was getting ready to perform. adorable expressions, lovely voices but too bad the sound system was such that the sound echoed inaudibly across the square. audiences may sprawl on the floor all they want. there were bean-bags!


next, we caught a lovely performance by five talented teenagers from the english college. they performed an excerpt from the much loved tale, 'the wizard of oz'. khaleef sat watching, slumped on one of the many, many bean-bags at the square. so lepak!

once the performance was over, i wanted to take khaleef's photo with dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man, the lion and the witch - but right after the performance, the 'lion' in thick fur costume immediately said, "i'm going to change!" the heat definitely got to him!


then we went to check out the outside of the square, where a poetry recital had just ended. we walked straight towards the marina, and at the terrace which overlooks the marina was the time out kids' zone. khaleef hung out for awhile colouring and playing a couple of games. there was also a 'face painting' kiosk, but the kids looked too grotesque under all that bad painting by the staff - thanks, but i'll pass!

i was hoping i'd see more performances but i guess this would do, especially for khaleef. at least he enjoyed the 'wizard of oz' singing rather than making him sit through shakespeare monologues...

* * *

in the picts above : khaleef licking lollipop with azfar and sitting strangely quiet alongside hanaa

after a 'cultural' experience at dubai festival of literature, we headed to a friend's house to help meriahkan a birthday party for their son and daughter, the cheeky azfar and the adowable hanaa.

the party sucks!

ha ha. told fauziah i would write that!

the party was smashing! she and her amiable husband, fairoz welcomed us with warm smiles and big, big heart, stuffed us fat with all the delicious, cleverly chosen food (read: mandy) and kept the kids busy with a few games that brought the parents laughing in amusement.

they began with a doa-selamat session with the reading of surah Yaasin and then it's makan time!

i can't believe this BAD photograph is the only shot i have of the food!

the yummies in our tummies
the food was fantastic. period. what do you feel like having?

  • they had my addictive fix, mandy - from a different place this one
  • there's roti canai - with dhal and homemade curry made by the hostess herself
  • there's domino's pizza for the kids
  • assortment of agar-agar
  • juicy, fatty doughnuts from krispy kreme
  • and lots more yummies yummies yummies

...agh, i don't care about the other as long as i have my fix! mandy mandy mandy! good job, fairoz - and you better cancel that plan to get mandy kambing with khairul! he's had enough!


games, glorious games
khaleef was so tired afterwards he slept in the car all the way back home, woke up only to be forced to take a bath, and continued sleeping right after. that was how much fun he had! i applaud the hosts' initiative to organize and prepare the items for the games as well as the presents. on top of that, they managed the games well in spite of the screaming, yelling, shrieking toddlers running around, and having to repeat every instruction twice. or more!

tuan rumah with their bday babies - fairoz with azfar and fauziah with hanaa

before going back, we were sent off with an extremely generous portion of 'tapau' food - like what mr. khairul said, "we can make our own kenduri with this!"

thank you for having us, fauziah and fairoz - for the food, the presents for my boys and for the generosity and good company. i think i'll go heat up the mandy you gave me...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kindergarten Lessons For Politicians

mr khairul forwards stuff to me in my g-mail.
writings on education, politics, current economic standing, celebrity gossips, just thoughts - serious discussions to downright silly pictures or youtube clips he likes.

he says i don't read most of 'em and just toss 'em in the 'trash' file. well, he's partially correct about that. i do delete long-winded politic craps written by emotional people tryin to show the world how much he knows or how undeniably right his thoughts are.

but i do appreciate little gems that he sends; the one on a joke about an old couple, whose wife complains "you used to bite my neck.." and the husband got up to - get his teeth. (love you too, honey) or informative ones like the one on gulfnews report on the hike of school fees in dubai, or the one about what is the meaning of inflation, really.

..and this one is definitely a good read. it's by robert fulghum. this guy, you just have to love! his writings are about subjects so simple and around us, yet meaningful in his message that i was so envious reading his thoughts in his 'journal'.

meanwhile, enjoy this one first. "rugi ambik MBA!" quipped mr. khairul. ha ha.

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
by robert fulghum

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.


These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

clap! clap!

well, said!

if you haven't already read anas zubedy's cleaver, straightforward, everyone-is-thinking-it-but-why-haven't-anyone-write-this plea to the BN and PKR politicians to stop monkeying around, click here. good job, man. if you have, this one by mr. fulghum is apt too, doncha think?

and yet, our world is not a utopian one - even in kindergarten we have kids who refused to share, throw stuff at other kids, kick and pinch and stick out their tongue. kids who don't finish their vegetables and leave toys all over the place.

let's just hope for the best!

send me more of these cute gems, honey.
yes, i DO appreciate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Literature Lovers, Lend Me Your Ears

there are places only books can take you.

why did i take up literature and linguistics as my major?

i just watched robin william's 'dead poets society' for the uptenth time, and was reminded why i will do everything the same, all over again, had i the second chance. having said that, it explains why i was super-excited to know that dubai is holding the international festival of LITERATURE!

dubai is more cultured that i had ever imagine!



the international poetry festival has not yet started, but dubai will open its door to yet another international fest - the international festival of literature, sponsored by emirates airline, in association with magrudy - the cute bookstore chain with the camel.

WHAT
this literature festival features more than 50 events comprising 66 international and arab authors from 22 countries. as always, anything in dubai will be dubbed either 'the first', 'the biggest', 'the tallest' or 'the only' - as with this festival, said to be 'the first' event of its kind on this scale to be held in the middle east, bringing together people of all nationalities and cultures to celebrate:

the written word.

the festival also boasts a lot of talks, workshops, activities and showcases which include the 'author program', the 'education day', and the 'fringe activity'.

authors program
each session lasts an hour, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. the only author's workshop or talk that i would be keen on attending is the one with terry brooks because he'd be talking on 'why i write about elves'. cute.

there are a few other interesting talks such as on 'writer and translator' and also 'babies need books'. kahfi?

education day
day four is for that. and aptly named so because it is a day where selected authors visit schools and institutions to "speak directly to the students in order to kindle an interest in the vitality of language and literature", according to its official website.

fringe festival
the key word is 'free and unticketed' - (ha ha typical malaysian who jumps at any chance to get something for free, huh?) which also could mean baby-friendly as it's held in open space and we could come and go as we please - in case of poop emergency!

this fringe festival will be a lively and colourful complement to the authors programme. it involves volunteers from several schools and institutions in dubai to showcase their talents in acting, singing, dancing, musical instrument, story-telling and such. it's an event for extraordinary diversity, all for the love of literature. there's creative writing classes and book-signing too.

as part of the literature festival, a competition was held recently to encourage students to write, and they were asked to write an essay of about 500 words titled 'the sea'. tomorrow they'll reward the winners with the first edition of the compilation of their winning essays. coolness.

it's a 'flood of local talent'!

the official website states, "..all events are free and open to the public, so whether you’re hustling past doing your shopping, waiting for your favourite author to speak or just kicking back and letting it all wash over you, you’ll gain something from the EAIFL Fringe."

time out kids' zone (from official website)
this is where our younger guests, and their parents, can enjoy free entertainment throughout the festival. the kids zone will host story-telling from local authors and illustrators, puppet shows, and visits from characters from children’s favorites such as Freej and Letterland – along with much more besides.

there's an important reminder for parents NOT to leave children unsupervised in the kids zone, as EAIFL volunteers can’t be responsible for their care.

where the fringe festival will take place

find our more about the events and activities in store, what, when and who - here at the official website. you will find the program sheet in pdf format. there are choir performances, story-telling sessions, puppet shows (for khaleef and kahfi) and debates.

there's even a 'sweeney todd' performance by one of the school kids! way cool! i'm watching that!

WHY
  • book lovers will be able to explore books irrespective of the language, as simultaneous translations will be provided for seminars and workshops through wireless headsets.
  • as the director of magrudy says, "the reason you are here is to meet those who make this a bestseller: the authors."
  • also on how it will encourage a love of reading. to stimulate, to entertain and to inspire.
  • "as a booklover, people can explore new genres and new authors that they were not exposed to before." - this best dedicated to me as i am not adventurous with books. i stick to the genres i like and used to - horror, gothic, weird science and fantasy-humor.
but i'll try everything once!

WHEN

the festival will run from 26th february - 1st march 2009. the fringe activity will start at 11am tomorrow at dubai festival city. hundreds of volunteers will open a life-sized book! there's also a parade of literary characters.

HOW MUCH
entrance to the four-day fringe festival will be FOC - free of charge, however the authors program are ticketed events including creative writing and poetry workshops, calligraphy classes, debates, seminars and conferences. most are priced at 35dhs while others for 100dhs.





WHERE
the festival will be held at dubai festival city, with ticketed author programme events taking place in the hotel ballrooms.

the fringe festival, the one i'll be going this friday, is taking place around the festival centre and waterfront.

* * *

ok - level with me now - you really haven't seen 'dead poets society'? robin williams was mr. keating, a brilliant english teacher with a new way of teaching, a new approach of seeing art and literature which the school sees as unorthodox. he inspires his students to 'seize the day'. watching the movie made me realize how much i love the literary world.

carpe diem.
make your life extraordinary.

here is the best monologue from mr. keating:
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for...you are here - that life exists...that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?

p/s: sape-sape pergi dubai festival village jumaat ni boleh jumpa di sana okay?
4pm @ kids zone ade puppet show! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2 Months After Kahfi's Birth Day

yesterday kahfi turns 2 months old.
he's now big and chubby and gwubby and wubby dubby fuffy wuffy.

(sorry, can't help the baby talk)

we brought him for his shots @ safa clinic.
he now weighs 5.6kg and measured at 56cm!


steps
  1. go to dubai hospital to make a health card for kahfi - did this last month
  2. dubai hosp refer us to safa clinic, nearest to dubai marina
  3. registration - open file for kahfi
  4. nurse fill in file
  5. weighing kahfi
  6. measuring kahfi
  7. nurse did reflex test : how kahfi grabs with hands, how he moves, reponses and reflexes
  8. time for his shot!
  9. kahfi's shot is FOC :)


just like his brother, kahfi cried very hard, but very quick. after the initial prick he did scream - and was quiet soon after. macam takde ape-ape! strong boy!

urat dawai tulang besi!

what was abang khaleef doing during the big commotion? making himself at home watching cartoon network at the clinic lobby.


go go kahfi!
these are kahfi's achievement by his 62nd day:
  • responds to his name by moving his head towards the sound
  • follows moving object with his eye
  • smile consistently after each feeding - yes, almost always that it kinda creeps me out when it's in the middle of the night! hihi
  • most adorable audible cooing can be heard he's dry, well-fed and had enough sleep or after bath-time
  • been able to lift up his head when placed on his front
  • once, was already able to roll back to position after being place on his front - but that's probably coincidence coz it's only that one time!
  • able to say 'gleeba' and do the freestyle swimming. ok i made that up.
good luck in your 3rd month, kahfi.
bapak, mak and abang are proud of you!

Monday, February 23, 2009

And The Oscar Goes To...

so brad and angie didn't win.


would be an awesome thing if they did, huh? historical oscar moment. imagine these married couple - equally super gorgeous and sexy - and on top of that extremely talented actors as well.

what a combo!

i love academy awards
mr khairul and i had different preference when it comes to awards show. he digs music awards - american music awards, mtv awards - the boogying, bling-blings and the honeys. i enjoy movie awards more - so i was more excited about the academy awards than he is.

like syida mentioned in her blog, mak was always the one who would be the first to find out about good movies that's out. watching the academy awards with her, she would talked about the movies, who's in it, what's it about - from what she read or saw on tv. we would make predictions. we would trash the fashions of the celebrities. we would laugh at the gimics and jokes.

between me and mr. khairul, i now play the part in telling him about this movie and that movie and who's in it and what's it about, who won, and who should've! just like mak did.

am glad too!

my take
i don't need to tell you who won what from which movie, right? you's already knew that, or you can always google that yourself.

the host
i was like - what the..? hugh jackman?


it's not totally outrageous that they pick him - but wasn't oscar previously hosted by comedians (billy crystal, whoppi goldberg, ellen degeneres) but watching the suave aussie, you'd be wondering about those wasted years when they should've pick a sexy actor over a funny comedian any day.

and he was wonderful as a host - good singing, great entertainment and daymn, what a body...err...i mean smile. what a smile (snicker!). loveable to the end, he charmed me right from the beginning when he sang himself silly with the cheesy high-skool-concert-like opening number about all the nominated movies. man, he can sing! and dance! bravo! hope to see you again next year, hugh jackman!

the stage
some say oscar this year has a more 'intimate' stage. the first thing i said when i saw the stage was "keciknya!" and this was made obvious as the indian dancers pranced around for the theme score for slumdog millionaire. memang kecik!

intimate may be, but at some point especially during the introduction of the nominees for best actors and the best in supporting roles by 5 past winners - the stage was so close to where the rest were sitting that some intro seemed intimate, close at heart and honest, while others only came across as fake, pretentious and awkward. i'm especially talking about the intro for kate winslet. yes, i think she spoke so annoyingly slow it's like dragging words out of her that she didn't mean.

mr. khairul said, 'cost cutting measures'. i say, again, keciknya!

the intro of nominees
speaking of the introduction of nominees by the previous winners - i actually love the idea! it was so regal in the way they raised up the five curtains and 5 past-queens and kings of great acting stepped forward to introduce the nominees.

i don't know why the actresses sounded less sincere in their appraisal - you know how bitchy hollywood can get - but the actors spoke of their counterparts with more honesty and buddy-like, especially when robert de niro spoke of sean penn, and anthony hopkins on brad pitt.

favourite oscar moments
  • ben stiller's hillarious impersonation of joaquin phoenix's bizarre appearance in the late show with david letterman - "i just want to retire from being a funny man.." in a deadpan voice and he proceeded to walk slowly around the podium as his co-presenter natalie portman continue to speak.
  • hugh jackman pulling anne hathaway up the stage to sing with him in a 'planned-impromptu' act during the opening number - she's got a great musical-stage-play voice!
  • the adorable jack black constantly mentioning kungfu panda, when co-presenting with jennifer aniston - who i'm sure trying very hard to not look directly at the right side of the audience where brad and angie were sitting...
  • sarah jessica parker and daniel craig, "we don't have to tell you what make-up does, just look at us."
  • kate winslet, when accepting the oscar for best actress for 'the reader' dedicated her award to her 'mum and dad' - "dad, who is somewhere in this hall, dad, whistle or something!" and then a loud sharp whistle was heard - and there he was, the proud dad, waving enthusiastically. it was so sweet!
  • "good writing never dies." - "the person who said that, is dead." or something like that, i can't remember the exact words. ha ha.

so there, my take on the oscars. unlike syida, i haven't seen any of the nominated movies! well, i did see half of batman - and i find it boring! maybe i've always told myself that michael keaton is the best batman ever. i can't even get to the part with heath ledger. was he really that oscar-worthy? how did the other nominees feel i wonder, "i didn't get the freakin oscar, and they wasted it on a dead guy?!"

nways, syida you'd better start crackin on those cds and send me some academy award-nominee-movies! pronto!

enjoy this bit. cracks me up everytime.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Party of Five

look closely at the picture below.
these are my sisters.
no prize for guessing who is the clown in the family.
..and proud of it!


i miss my sisters.

i really cried reading syida's latest posting in her blog. everyone was there except me! (sheesh, how selfish can i get, huh?) i have every right to be anyway - right now i just want to see my sisters.

me being the only one away from home, syida mentioned in her blog:

"Lately actually my blog is like a letter to Yang. Cause the stories I'm telling is actually stories for her."

well, i want to write letters to all of you too.
this page is for you, then.

nah. ni untuk korang tau.

this is yong and me on hari raya 2007
dear yong,

so wonderful to see haiqal wearing an actual school uniform. big boy already! i am missing a lot! don't be too busy on me - i'm still adjusting having 2 boys now, just like you do. how DID you do it?

eh, baju kebaya batik kami tu dah siap ke?

oh, be careful yong - you're looking more and more like a typical cikgu sekolah! controlled smile and a speech that is too proper - oh, wait - weren't you always like that? hihi. when i come home i'll make nasi minyak and you'll whip some ayam masak merah and puding caramel okay?

yong is the eldest in the family. sweet, demure, feminine, soft spoken - nothing like me! hihi. a purdue graduate, married to high skool sweetheart, future yb husin - blessed with terrible twos haiqal and haqeem and the chubby wubby husna.

* * *

syima and me in auckland, 2004
dear syima,

hows your masters going? and the pregnancy? muntah teruk macam dulu ke? still craving chicken chop?

cuya is looking more and more like you! i can say she's the exact duplicate of you when you were small. she was already very shy and susah nak kat orang when i left - looking at her pictures with abang haiqal and haqeem she seemed to be adjusting well as she grows. i hope when she meets us she would still remember her auntie gim and abang khaleef.

syima was born 2 years after me. her nick in the family is ngah - as in tengah - being the middle child. the mad scientist and brainiac of the family - a microbio major. though it's a safe bet that it is azi and i am the ones vying for the 'mad' title. married to fellow lab-rat din - blessed with a bunny wabbit daughter sufya and another one coming.

* * *

syida and me in klia, minutes before she left for melbourne
dear syida,

so hate to have to pack already, huh? i'm so psyched up to be back this july but it's pretty sucky since you're not gonna be there. jangan rajin sangat kat melbourne - keep logging on ok! hihi. ape punya nasihat. will miss all our crazy chats!

ish geramnye tengok gamba syida pakai baju puteri gunung ledang! i want one! of all the malay theaters that i've seen - i had to miss this one - dang it! nways, go - go see 'wicked' - it's a really good experience watching theaters in a foreign country - it'll be worth every dollar.

oh, and i won't forget to bring home your roald dahl. see, i remember!

syida is the fourth one. she writes, she draws, she digs theaters and she reads stephen king and roald dahl - i'd say we both share the most common traits and likes. currently seeing nash - baik jugak budaknya. be good! will fly back to melbourne for new term of her masters in international finance.

* * *

me and azi @ great ocean road, aussie in 2004
dear azi,

rindunya nak chat dengan azi. been so busy with exams, huh?

hows the driving?
dah confident drive from tmn tun to upm? i will always miss my last few weeks in malaysia before going to dubai - sleepovers at trellises, gossip about syida, driving all the way to upm with kfc untuk azi and mengharung crowd in bazaar ramadhan ttdi.

tunggu Yang balik july ni okay? kita jalan-jalan naik kelisa lagi!

azi is my youngest sister. crazy, wacky, zany - have i left out anything that doesn't have the same meaning as gila-gila? when she laughs at something, do not try to hold back on not laughing along. it's loud and infectious - with no known vaccine against it! currently happily struggling with comp science in upm. dating college-mate, din yang macam penyanyi nasyid tu. be good! no, i'm talking to you, azi! not din. hihi.

* * *


so there.

hey, tunggu kami balik okay.
kita masak-masak best-best untuk abah, makan kat golf club, pegi jusco, pegi megoplex cari tudung and redah rumah auntyna, cik, mak keh and kedai tokcik.

oh ya, kirim salam pada umi.

tak sabar nak balik!
can't wait!

love always,
Yang

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Paintball @ Sharjah Golf Club

do you play *paintball?

when mr khairul mentioned paintballing this saturday, it reminded me of my officemate haida. she was nuts about paintball - having been actively involved in the game as a player, at times photographer and sometimes coordinating the games herself. she had suggested it to me a couple of times - thanks, but no thanks! however, mr. khairul was very interested but never got around to actually do it.

and today he got the chance! we went to a golf and shooting club in sharjah, another state in the UAE, just a few minutes drive from dubai.

* paintball is a game in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with pellets containing paint (referred to as a "paintball") usually shot from a carbon dioxide or compressed-gas (HPA or N2) powered paintball gun (or marker)

us!

what is it about paintball that made full-grown men behave like kids at play? and still look cool doing it?

here's a chance to role play - armed with a rifle-like gadget called a 'marker', a cool mask, equipped oneself with mechanic-like garb and vest like bullet-proof ones - and you're ready to kick some butts. without actually killing anyone, that is. hurting yes. oh, how it hurts!

types of paintball games
speaking of role play, there are variations of paintball - the ones that mr khairul played today were *speedball and *scenario.

*speedball consists of inflatable bunkers, while *scenario type is much more interesting. in scenario, instead of boring 'floats', there would be old tanks and jeeps, rusty aeroplanes that appeared to crash-land on the field - it re-creates an atmosphere much like in a war zone. players used these 'items' as shields to protect them as they try to shoot and avoid being shot at while completing their tasks.


getting in touch with his inner warlord, khaleef tried a hand on the marker. ironically, he needs some growing up to do to play this 'toy'!


meet new friends! khaleef was all too glad to hang out with young adam, playing big brother with pride. adam's mom, adawiyah welcomed us into her tent, which helped a lot under the scorching heat and kahfi's occasional tantrums. khaleef already made himself at home in the tent much to the amusement of adam.


what happened?
  • change into appropriate attire - chest pad, mask - for protection
  • before games started, hardcore paintball player zam gave a briefing on the do's and don'ts as well as what to do when with whom
  • play! speedball style
  • mr. khairul came out with a visible green patch on his chest - spot on!
  • play another round before stopping for solat
  • continue with a scenario
  • came out tired, bruised but satisfied
  • ate nasi goreng, courtesy of adawiyah

the team took a friendly shot together right before 'killing' each other.



so how was the game?

best!
sakit jugak!

mr. khairul had one complaint - "marker i rosak! pellet pusing ke kiri when i nak aim straight!" (excuses...excuses...) well, being a member of kl rifle club he was dead-confident that paintballing would be no different than shooting bull's eye at a shooting range. "i'm a sharp-shooter, ape! marker buat hal!"

right.

so, want to try paintballing?

Friday, February 20, 2009

CNY Party @ Embassy & Dubai Global Village

it's never too late to give friends and buddies well-wishes, so here i am, a few weeks late, wishing my chinese friends a happy year of the ox - may the courage and strength of the mighty ox reflects in our hard work this year giving us plenty of wealth and ong!

cheers!

in keeping with the malaysian tradition of open house, the malaysian embassy in abu dhabi held a chinese new year makan-makan.


we came early, as we wanted to leave early to make it to the dubai global village before sundown. the crowd slowly poured in soon after. throngs of malaysian chinese in dubai packed the place up and before long, mr khairul already making himself comfy meeting new friends. i met this lovely chinese lady from kelantan, just arrived 2 weeks ago to join her husband here. it's a shame i didn't get her number! if you're reading this, drop me a line!

the food was alright - the chicken rendang was surprisingly delicious - being someone who doesn't like to eat rendang with rice (me likey with lemang or nothing!). in fact the rendang was the most malaysian dish served. in the words of the chinese uncle lining up in the buffet queue behind me - "no satay...where's satay? should have satay-lor than only malaysia maa..." i smiled in agreement.

man, i miss manglish!


speaking of meeting new friends, i got to know jesi, mom of three adorable boys, the youngest the same age as khaleef. sweet as a button! also met a charming pilot who cheekily quipped that he was left with his three kids here while his wife went back to malaysia with the baby. 3 spies for dad, huh?


this is us with the approachable malaysian ambassador to UAE, datuk yahaya abdul jabar. all smiles, he hailed from penang, much to the pride of mr. khairul, a penang boy himself. so eye-rolling-up lah when they start to speak in loghat penang! yawn!

khaleef enjoying his first ever-ever-ever cotton candy - sceptical at first; looking suspiciously at the kapas-like thingy until i said, "eat!"

leaving the makan-makan, we headed to dubai global village. we successfully arrived before sundown - discovered it was super-jam-packed. i mean, it was pretty packed when we went twice before, but this is outrageously packed! well, it figures - since tomorrow is the last day and they will bungkus after that, until next year comes for them to start it up again. so people were making their last kopek shopping, hoping to get the best bargain on these last 2 days.

notice kahfi was wrapped all warm and cosy in his crib while parents and bro shop around

we had few missions set up from the beginning as not to get too distracted by other things:

  • get more honey from the yemen pavillion
  • get more shawls and jubah
  • find rugs or cheap carpets
  • find framed ayat Quran to put on the wall

we did get the honey (read about our honey-buying experience here) - and bought shawls from lebanon, rugs from syria and senegal and jubah from egypt. great bargain! we also got this gorgeous sculptured ayat Quran from the egypt pavillion. we went to the iran pavillion and saw that it was truly famous for its kacang-kacang - so mr. khairul bought himself pistachios and this sweet-choc-peanuty candy thingy. crunch!

most interesting part was when we met a mr. jamal at the lebanon pavillion. mr. khairul and him got to talking about the lebanese traditional garb, mr. khairul telling him he'll be going to lebanon in may and mr. jamal having 2 factories back home - let's just say that at the end of the conversation with him, he pleasantly said in his typical lebanese accent,

"come to lebanon. in lebanon, you have a friend."

and he pat his chest as he said that. you can't get anymore sincere and full of warmth like he was.

video

i'll leave you now - satisfied with our great buys - with a pinch of how bustling the dubai global village was, packed with people of all nationality. it was very difficult to maneuvere with two strollers along the pathways inside each pavillion, so when buying the ayat Quran, mr. khairul went inside alone, while i waited outside. bored, i took this video.

enjoy.

find out what is the dubai global village in my posting about it here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shop For School


there comes a proud moment in a mother's life when her son becomes a man.

khaleef is going to school!

well, not yet - but we're scouting for the best place that offers good education with reasonable fee. this is my first time ever going to schools as parents, intending to send my child to the institutions. we both were very excited beyond words!

today was our first day touring one of the private schools in dubai. tomorrow there's another tour. and another a day after. busy week!

prep time
i'm telling ya - i really felt like lynette from desperate housewives trying to put her terror twins into the private school that bree's kids went - dressing up khaleef real sharp and nice - heard there is a long waiting list to these top schools, so we've got to make a good impression! besides, for khaleef to be able to communicate fairly well in the english language is a criteria to be taken into consideration in the application.

arrival
we arrived early - one brownie point! and get to watch a sports activity taking place right outside the main building. there were hoops and cones - ooh, an obstacle course! fun! the one thing that caught my eye were the cute blondies, blue-eyed tots and adorable arab kids cheering their teammates to victory. imagine my little khaleef among them. hmm.

inside
we were welcomed with warm greetings and met a lovely english couple thinking of sending their girls there. kahfi was asleep in my arms, so angelic; winning the hearts of the girls, i must say, rather than the detached khaleef. moody baru bangun tido kot. ha ha.

over the next few minutes, more parents started to arrive - most - actually all of them brought girls, aged about 5 to 7 so khaleef stuck out as the only boy and the youngest in the group. so there were about 5 couples with kids to start the tour rolling.

the tour
the school rep brought us around. her briefing was quick, to the point, and informative enough to show how good the school is without being too unrealistic - "we're not specialist, but we provide the support your child might need" when speaking about helping out with learning or language difficulty.

we were shown the gym, the music hall, the stage, the science lab, the courtyard, the swimming pool and the library - the whole shebang.

the school
i loved it. the school is just bursting with energy, colours and freedom of expression. everywhere you look there would be a work of art by the kids or a written masterpiece. on the wall, on the floor, at a corner, on the table - even up the ceiling down! some quirky ones were framed and placed along the stairs. i'm definitely doing that with khaleef's artwork!

to me, the most amazing, mouth-agaped, awe-struck section of the school has got to be the fairytale corner - with this huge kids-made tree in the middle with patchy paint-job and paper leaves sticking to it haphazardly - it's so ugly green that it's cute!

around it - fairytale characters lying around. there are teddy bears with three bowls and three chairs of different sizes - i'm sure you can guess which story is that. in another corner, shoe boxes painted dark brown, stacked up as bricks, with pigs hiding inside and a wolf outside - ring a bell? and against a wall, a cloth hanger with lots of dresses the kids use in the fairy tale role play. there were also swords and crowns and mermaid's pond and even a dragon.

i totally loved it!

the classes
at khaleef's age, we're looking into puting him in the foundation program, where the area of learning involves personal, social and emotional development:
  • development of the motor skills
  • communication, language and literacy
  • mathematical and creative development
  • knowledge and understanding of the world

i was surprised that as 'touring' parents we were allowed to go in and out freely about the school and the classrooms. won't we be interupting the flow of the class? taking the kids' attention? the school rep cheekily said;

"you're not as interesting as you think you are. the kids have a lot of stuff to do and if they even look at you - you're doing ok."

in one of the foundation classrooms that i went to, the kids were making themselves at home on the floor, making a circle with a teacher on a small chair, talking rather slowly, very clearly and articulately to the kids. i can already imagine khaleef in the room. khaleef can dig this. he can sure dig this.

the classrooms were as interesting and as colourful as the rest of the school. pictures lined up the wall - colourful plastic boxes filled the cabinets, labeled with the kids' names, or stuff used in class like 'balls', 'crayons' or even 'bean bags'.

i like it but at one point, i had the word 'cluttered' running through my head.

end of tour
we were invited to snack on butter cookies, fruit juice and hot tea over talks and questions we might have. mr. khairul and i had a few qna sessions while khaleef enjoying gobbling up cookies and sipping orange juice.

i was talking to one of the parents - she had already sent her daughter at another private school but thinking of moving her to another just because she felt that despite the fancy, new equipment and facilities in the school, her daughter was given the old skool approach - sit down, shut up and listen to teacher.

like me, she too was amazed at the displays of the kids' creativity. she felt like this could be the school she was looking for, which does not confine her daughter to strictly class-base studying but also learning through art, stories, cooking, sports and music.

i asked her, "what exactly are you looking for in a school?" and before she can reply, even i wasn't even sure of the answer. as parents we want the best for our children. the best. no less for our young ones. the deserve only the best, yessir.

what is the best?

  • do you look for the school that offers the biggest space - the bigger the school, the better?
  • do you look for branding? the popular the school, so it must be better?
  • do you look at the facilities? the more up-to-date, the better?
  • do you look at teaching staff? number of kids in a class?
  • the curriculum?

or, forget the kid! - some parents say how will it help me?
  • how far is the school from my house? the nearer the better!
  • how much do i have to pay? the cheaper the better!

earlier on i mentioned wanting a 'place that offers good education with reasonable fee'. so it's a bit of both. khaleef wins, mak and bapak win.

this is my first time scouting for schools.
one down, more to go to.
i hope i will make the right decision for my boy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I Will Protect You, Lil Bro


brothers
by khaleef khairul

mak cooks
bapak works
i will look after you
younger brother

mak blogs
bapak checks mails
i will keep my eye on you
little brother

mak here
bapak there
i will take care of you
noisy brother

mak snoozes
bapak snores
i will sing you to sleep
shweepy brother

i will protect you
my brother

someone to lean on,
someone to count on,
someone to tell on!

p/s: touch my brother and you're dead meat!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Birthday Party @ Marrybrown

who doesnt like birthday parties?
cakes and balloons.
presents and happy toons.
games and such.
food and fruit punch!

on saturday we joined little alya with proud parents aida and afza in celebrating her 5th birthday held at our local fast food chain in dubai, marrybrown. afza is mr khairul's mckk classmate. aida said she wanted to be 'politically correct' and not take chances in doing the birthday at burger king or mcdonalds - if you get what i mean...

thanks for having us!

a specially decorated room was prepared for the occasion. we could see balloons and 'happy birthday nor alya' pasted at a wall at the back end of the room, visible the moment one enters the room. that was also the corner where the dancing, magic show and games would take place.

we arrived quite timely; some were already getting comfortable at their seats, kids kicking balloons and many more started arriving soon after. khaleef had a fantastic time err..just kicking balloons. alya was pretty in white - complete with white leggings and white shoes plus a girly hairband that looks like a garland of flowers. birthday girl celebrates in style!

body paint
kids, come get your fake tattoos! i asked for ben10 but too bad the guy was not so sure about the specifics of an amnitrix. oh, well. finally khaleef got himself a spiderman on his arm. wicked.


games
the more the merrier. more kids means more fun and laughter. khaleef did not seem to have trouble following instructions during the game, but the game master failed in keeping his attention. in a minute or so through the game, khaleef can be seen kicking up balloons again!

there was the mandatory musical chair - ever wonder who invented this game? - chairs were first arranged in a circle but khaleef thought it would be more fun standing in the middle of the chairs!


late last year we did go for a marry brown birthday party for 'abang' rahul, 7 year old son of khairul's staff, radha. he's one of the more polite and thoughtful boy i've known. oh and he adores khaleef! he lets khaleef do his thang - kick him, punch him, golek-golek with him - he doesn't mind playing big brother to khaleef.

during that party, khaleef did win in a game. the game master give 'tasks' for kids to do: "get one dirham!" or "bring a black shoe!" and khaleef won the round when the task was "bring your mother!" because i was just sitting really really close to the game area.

ok, well - we cheated - he didn't actually bring me - i went! rather hurriedly!

magic show
after the games, another pinoy guy went up to showcase his talent in magic. ooo. the kids laughed so earnestly, you'd remember how easy it is to amuse these group of young audience. make faces, do voices, throw in a simple trick - and you got a good crowd cheering. ok, i laughed too. a bit. ok a lot. ok, fine! i enjoyed it too! it's been too long since i watch david copperfield, ok!

special appearance
then the squirrel came. oh, wait was it a bear? - well, the marrybrown mascott. then they do the official dance-off. kids go wild! then it was time to eat - buffet style.


birthdays in the family
i remember being the event-coordinator for ANY birthday celebration in my family. buy presents, buy cakes. i say 'celebration' and not 'party' because we hardly have parties - with lots of food and and a big crowd - it's always just us - mak, us five, and abah would join when he comes home from work.

my best memory of an actual birthday party was for my 16th - when i had it at mcdonald's with yummy burgers, shakes and great friends! to me, bukan senang to have birthday parties at mcdonald's ok, so it was a big deal when mak gave me provisions for one! yay!


my birthday
another great birthday celebration was for my 25th birthday which was combined with father's day. we asked my aunt, cik to make her delicious char kuey teow and we had a little bbq goin on on the side. i made my juicy coleslaw and i think i bought my own cake! - my favorite secret recipe cake - banana choc.

it was such a simple do, but all of 5 of us were there and we had fun doing it outdoor on a quiet evening. i remember earlier that day, climbing up to paste the balloons and strings of color paper for the very very simple decor, just to have that birthday party feel because, seriously - we don't usually do this - at all!

all of us wore our best pajamas (dress code! hihi) and hang out til the wee hours of the night. just us girls and the big guy.

i'm having my birthday here in dubai this year. boo hoo hoo.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lullaby at Bath Time

do you have a special lullaby for your kids?
you should!

ba ba black sheep?
twinkle-twinkle little star?
enjit-enjit semut?
air pasang pagi?
*baby got back?

the choice is endless. kita orang melayu memang kaya with classic songs for kids. on top of that, we have the songs in english to choose from. to my non-malay friends, share with us the songs in your mother tongue, will you?

want to relive the classic kids' songs? click here. i had fun scrolling through a list of cute little malay tunes our moms sang for us when were younger. man, i had a laugh singing the ones i know too. it was a blast!

go ahead, sing! i know you want to...


i don't sing to my boys come sleeping time. i usually sing to them when i bathe them and when i clothe them after that! crooning happily while slapping their cute tiny tushy with baby powder and rubbing ointment on their round little tummies.

my favorite song to them while bathing is 'buih sabun' - even mr khairul got sick of that song! while khaleef has outgrown the song, kahfi still has to endure this song for another year or so...

do you know it?

saya suka main buih sabun
gelembung bulat cantik berkilat
bila di tiup angin melayang
terbang tinggi sampai ke awan

sabun campur air kocak kocak
jadi buih
ambil buih celup
tiup buih terbang sayup......


(added 19/4/2011 - click here to listen to the song. thanks to k.e.r.i)

since khaleef is old enough to bathe himself, he would be in the bathroom alone, main air. i would do stuff outside, keeping close eye on him once in awhile.

from inside the bathroom he would occasionally shout - "mak! ABC!" which means he wants me to sing with him the ABC song. sometimes it's, "mak! fish!" which means i have to do a duet of the little mermaid song 'part of your world' with him. if it's not that, it's tigger and pooh or it's miska muska mickey mouse cluhhouse song.

hey, i'm not complaining. anyone can tell you that syigim loves to sing. absolutely love singing. so i'd happily oblige and sang at the top of my lung for him to listen to or sing along from the comfort of his bath tub.

"mak.........nyanyi lagu chris brown pulak, boleh?"

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