Thursday, December 31, 2009

Long Wait @ LAX

We are now @ LAX...waiting for our 11 pm Continental flight to Newark. It's only 8.50 pm and we were here at the airport at 7.30 pm after returning our rental car. So early!! And I was happily shopping at Michaels (art/craft store that also stocks scrapbooking materials), and H kept hurrying me. He thought that the queues at the airport would be long (due to heightened security measures) but instead there was practically NO queue. Also, he thought we could have a shower at the lounge. Unfortunately, no showers in the lounge. Luckily there's Wi-Fi...otherwise will be bored to my bones waiting for our flight.

Anyway, what have we done since my last post?

Christmas Eve
This morning, we went to pick-up our rental car from Hertz....Other than going to the Fisherman's Wharf for about an hour, we didn't really go anywhere with the car. We drove it back to the hotel carpark (had to pick the car up on Christmas Eve as Christmas Day was closed), and because it was cheaper to walk to wherever we want to go than take the car. Parking in San Francisco is pretty expensive! Even parking at the hotel costs USD 25/- per day....and this was considered cheap. The other rates that I saw was upwards of USD 29/- plus tax! GILA!!!!
Anyway, we had lunch at a Korean restaurant as I was craving for some noodle soup. H had the Pork Bulgogi. Gosh! Not only their portions were huge, the side dishes that were provided were more than what we were used to.
After lunch, we went to Union Square for some shopping. Errr...bought another winter jacket (as if I live in temperate countries and not tropics!) from Macy's. H bought some i-Tunes cards from the Apple store. We hung around near the Ice-Rink at Union Square till early evening before going back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. Instead of a traditional Xmas Dinner, we opted to go to a Jazz Club. We ended up at Yoshi's San Francisco for Christmas jazz performance. Can't remember the performer's name....

Christmas Day
We checked-out pretty early on Christmas Day....and headed out to Monterey/Carmel. But we did stop at the Cliff House on the Pacific Coast for breakfast first. H and I shared a Eggs San Francisco, which is kinda like Eggs Benedict except that it had Dungeness Crab and some brandy added. It was quite yummy..but expensive. I supposed one has to pay for the views out to the Pacific Ocean. Took some pictures of the coast....will post them when I get back home.

After breakfast, we headed out onto the Freeways for Monterey. Somehow, our drive was longer than anticipated....perhaps because we salah-jalan. I was the navigator utilising the maps on H's i-Phone. Our rental car did not have a GPS. On arrival at Monterey, we went to have a late lunch. Not many places were open (since Christmas Day), and we ended up at The Fish Hopper. H insisted that I have the Monterey Bay Abalone/Scallop dish as I like abalone. But I have to say that nothing beats the Chinese-style of cooking abalone! H had a mussels/clam dish which was not so tasty. The clam chowder was pretty good though. We also had a free fried calamari dish which we had to Ta-pau (too much!!!!). After the heavy-meal, we took a drive down Ocean Blvd....but H was just too sleepy to continue (Still jet-lagged!). So we parked the car near Lover's Point, and I went down to have a stroll while he napped in the car!

We continued on to Carmel after he has his 10-minute battery recharged. We gave 17-mile Drive in Pebble Beach a miss this time round (we did this last October already, and I didn't fancy paying the tolls again...). I have to say that Carmel is a really quaint little village that is really really UNLIKE the rest of the US cities. It's nice, and I do like it. Clint Eastwood was the mayor once.... Anyway, we stayed at the Carmel Mission Inn for the night. The next morning, we went to the Cottage Restaurant for breakfast..... What did we have? Eggs Benedict, of course. Somehow, I think Eggs Benedict is THE breakfast for Carmel. Most restaurants here have different variants of Eggs Benedict.

Boxing Day
After breakfast, we were on our way for our looooooooong drive to LA. We arrived at our hotel near LAX at about 2.30 pm. Why stay at a hotel near LAX???
It's cheap, and it's close to all major Freeways.
We stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites LAX. It's alright. Rooms are decent and clean. Best of all, there's free WI-FI. There's also free breakfast but we didn't eat though. After check-in, guess where we headed out to???
Shopping, of course!!!
And where did I go?
A Joann store..... to get Scrapbooking Stuff! I was like a little kid in a toy store. There was a sale on DCWV premium papers, and I almost went berserk. The only thing that stopped me was the WEIGHT!!!! And then there were the albums and stickers!!
I have to say that I was a little exhausted after all this. Hehehehehhehe.
We had dinner at Benihana Restaurant... by mistake.

Okay. Got to go.... to board our flight!!

Are you a Dummy?

Are you? .....A dummy when it comes to life insurance?
I confess. I am a real dummy.
Not to defend myself. But don't you think that life insurance products are so confusing? There are so many different types, limits, coverages etc...... And from so many different insurance companies. But thankfully, I have a sister who is in the insurance business, and she has been educating me on the various insurance policies from her company. If you are not as fortunate as I am, I supposed you could always obtain life insurance online quotes and see for yourself what is the best insurance for you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lazy Holiday....

We arrived in SFO an hour early.... on Tuesday, 22nd December. Took a door-to-door van to the hotel. Booked into the Cova Hotel on Ellis Street. Got a really really good deal over the internet. About USD 60/nite including tax. The only thing is that it is slightly further away from Union Square than the hotel we stayed last time. But for such a good rate, walk abit lah. Hotel also has free Wi-fi (thus the blogging now) and breakfast. Plus was pleasantly surprised when we got a room with two double beds. Told H to take another bed...and he said that we might as well not come on holiday together if I banished him to another bed...heheheheheh. The hotel is actually nicely furnished with modern bathroom. The reviews did mention that it's at the edge of the not-so-good area... But so far, seems okay.

Anyway, slept like a baby throughout the nite....no real signs of jet-lag. In fact, if it wasn't for my friend HT 's phone call at about 9.30 am, I would still be zzzzzzz. Spoke to her on the phone for about an hour. Don't think will be able to meet up with her as she & her family are driving to Lake Tahoe tomorrow to join her brother's family.

By the time we left the hotel...it was close to noon. Walked to Union Square as H wanted to go to the bank, then took the historic cable car to Fisherman's Wharf to have lunch. Walked down Pier 43 where loads and loads of crabs were freshly boiled. Though I like crabs, somehow the aroma was not too appetizing. I supposed it's because it's just too much ...and the smell just envelopes you. We decided to eat at Scoma's down at Pier 43 1/2 (I think). We had lobster bisque (H), butternut squash with crab (me), a sampler plate (crab cakes, scampi in wine sauce & fried calamari) and a whole roasted dungeness crab....washed down with Pinot Grigio (H) and Prosecco (me). And guess what we did after lunch... We went back to hotel for a rest. A rest turned out to be a 3 hour nap for me!!!!

And we went out to Union Square again....went to Borders and some jalan-jalan. Then had dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express at Macy's.... Clam Chowder and a Warm Turkey Melt..finished with a Haagen Daz bar. Came back to hotel to check on my emails, and to book for our Xmas Eve dinner for tomorrow... and NOW Back to lounging in bed........

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And Away We Go....

...without both our boys. When we left at 7 am this morning for the LCCT, boys were still in bed. They did bade farewell to us... and with the same breath uttered "Don't forget to buy my Halo 2!". 

My dad drove us to the terminal. Actually, our flight was at 10 am but dad said the traffic might be bad. We reached LCCT in pretty good time. Checked-in, and still had lots of time for a cup of coffee and a read of yesterday's FREE Malay Mail. Flight was on time, and we reached Singapore at 11.10 am. 

I'm sure you are asking why on earth did we take such an early flight to Singapore when our SIA flight to SFO is only at 5.50 pm???? Well, initially H was supposed to meet me in Singapore. But because of some last minute changes, he flew back to KL as well. (Wah! All these last minute AirAsia flights are ridiculously EXPENSIVE leh!!!!!) In fact, he was in KL a day earlier than boys and I. Anyway, we were afraid of delays on AirAsia which might result in us missing our SQ flight, plus we thought of going downtown to Takashimaya for lunch and some jalan-jalan for a few hours. In the end, too lazy to go all the way to town lah. We just went to the Crystal Jade here at the airport to have our lunch. Now just hang around lor...surf the net, read the magazines, shower, early dinner and then go on the flight. Actually, I might go for a shoulder massage before the flight. Will be more expensive than Jakarta or KL...but what to do. My shoulder and arm still painful. How to tahan the long flight to SFO? There's also the short stopover at Hong Kong.... H said that we shouldn't sleep at all on the flight...until we reach San Francisco. Aiyo. Can meh??

If I don't get to post before Christmas....

WISHING YOU A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Still not too late...

We all know that it is important to have life insurance. But there are many people who wait, procrastinate till their golden years. Some might find that by then, their choices for affordable insurance have dwindled or be totally out of reach. However, fret not. All may not be lost. There still are specialty companies that can provide best affordable rates for life insurance for senior citizens. You just need to know where to look.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Cha-pa-lang Post

Punishment
Remember my last post about my irresponsible kids? As a result of the FLUTE incident, I have taken their weekday TV privileges away. I really think they watched too much TV until their brains are all mucked up until they cannot store any other information.
S1 came home the other day (I was out), and as usual turned on the TV...which of course couldn't work (I took away the connecting cables). Then he proceeded to S2's room. TV also not working. Only then he realised that mommy had done something.
With no TV today, I see more reading and other activities. So my decision or removing this privilege is really quite justified. Don't you think?

Painting Exhibition
Okay. None of my paintings were sold. I didn't feel disappointed. Didn't expect to sell them anyway... But was just pretty excited to have my paintings displayed.
I asked H if I should be disappointed....and he said "if all the paintings were sold except yours, then clearly you should be disappointed. But since not many paintings were sold, nothing to be disappointed. In fact, I think the whole exhibition is a lost-making for the organizers"...and then he proceeded to calculate the costs of having the exhibition. Actually, we kepoh-ed on early Sunday morning. We walked around and looked how many paintings were sold...and we counted 2. This was after two full days of exhibition and out of over 100 paintings. As there were many good paintings around, we think not many people actually come with the intention to buy. And some might not know that there are paintings around... this friend went all the way there, and then didn't manage to view my paintings. She went to the exhibits that were near the Prada/Bulgari areas, whereas mine were near Roberto Cavalli.
Oh yeah. I only managed to exhibit 4 of my paintings as I only booked 4 panels. Initially, I thought I'll squashed all 6 paintings into 4 panels. But the organizers said it'll look too ugly. So, The Kiss and Thommanon was out.

One thing I learnt from this exhibition is... do NOT have too many paintings!
Why?
Aiyo...must CARRY them all the way to the venue. Not easy lah.
And then CARRY all the way out after the exhibition.
Next time, better just exhibit a max of 2 pieces lah.
There's another exhibition coming in March...which I want to participate. :-) but this time, I will just exhibit 2 small ones lah.

Busy Baking
Yes. I've been busy baking for the last 2 days...despite my back pain (yeah. Stupid pain is back!). Not because I want to, but because the boys have end of year Xmas Parties at school. S1's party was today, and S2's tomorrow....

Going Home
Yeah. Yeah. I fly back to KL this Saturday....that's less than 3 days away. So many things to do....have to do S2's passport, have my eyes checked, eat my Chue-Yoke-Meen (hahahahha) before I fly to San Francisco on Tuesday, 22nd December.

Okay lah...better go rest my back now. Otherwise all the chiropratic adjustments are not going to help!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

HIGHLY Irresponsible Kids!!!

Whose?
Mine!!!!
I am soooooooooooooooooooooo mad that I have to vent somewhere.
I was "ngam-ngam-chamm-chamm" and H kept saying why early in the morning like that.
BUT how can I not?

Let me tell you why I am soooooooooooo mad. Well, today is the School's Christmas Concert, which S2 will be playing his flute in the Primary School Orchestra. There would be FULL rehearsal after school right till the concert start at 6.30 pm.
So last evening, I told S2 to keep his things in his bag so that he won't forget anything.
Said so again later...and specifically to put his FLUTE in his bag. Then I asked if he had his attire for the occasion, and asked if everything was in order.
This morning, again, I reminded him to have everything together.
And guess what? At 8 am just now, I got a call.
It was S2. Asking me to tell the driver to bring his FLUTE!!!!
You say lah. ANGRY or not???
If the concert is not today, I will just let it be. But now...I have to organise for the driver to bring the flute all the way to him. And the journey is not exactly down the road!!

I tell you...I have such irresponsible kids that it is beyond belief! Can't trust them to do anything right for themselves. Don't even let me start on my S1. Another irresponsible bugger....with no care for anything at all. I bought him a pair of glasses which costs about USD 150/- about a month back, and he comes back 3 weeks later, beating around the bush for 3 days, then told me that he lost his glasses. How lah! Not to mention the lost mobile phone, gameboy and what-nots!
It's not that I don't make them pay for lost things. I do deduct money from their allowance/birthday money...but that doesn't seem to do any justice. It seems like everything I say just falls on deaf ears.

What about wasted food?
Uneaten food in their lunch boxes is a norm. And what can be done other than disposing the food when they come home in the late afternoon? It'll be too yucky to even give to the maid.
And there's the yogurt and such that they love to bring to their rooms, and then not eat it, and I'll find the tubs the next day. How to eat them again? Have to throw, right? And mind you, these are not cheap yogurt either. I've seen S1 done this soooooooooooooo many times. I am just so fed-up.

I really have tearing my hair out. Nagging and sitting them down nicely is not working,
Just soooooooooooooooooooooo fed-up.

Friday, December 11, 2009

TODAY is THE Day!

Yup. Yup. Yup.

The Painting Exhibition starts TODAY!

Exhibition Invite


Nope. I have not gone to see it.

Yesterday, we had to deliver the paintings to the exhibition venue - Pacific Place Mall. We were told to come in from 11 pm onwards as we had to wait for the mall to close. When we arrived, the organizers were just starting to set-up. We registered ourselves, and then had our paintings tagged.

My Paintings getting tagged


And then we waited and waited....and waited.
Even at midnight, the carpets at the area where the panels were to be set up were not yet completely laid. We just could NOT stand-around and wait for the workmen to finish.
So what do we do?
Go home lor ....

Can't wait to see how my paintings look under the spotlight!!

Actually, whilst waiting....I saw some other paintings, and then thought "perhaps I have under-priced mine!". Hahhaha. Regardless. I will be mighty happy if any of my paintings is sold!

BTW, check-out my latest painting - Snooty.
(Nope. This one is not in the exhibition...not in time for it)

Ping Pong Table?

Do you remember my old pool table? The one that I sold a few months back?
With the pool table gone, I was pretty glad to 'reclaim' that part of my living area.
But guess what my boys said..."Now we have the space, can we have a ping pong table?".
Boy! Were they fast!
Did they get one?
Well, NOPE!
I know my boys...they just want to buy buy buy, and not really want to play.
Heck! If they are really interested to play, I would even buy TWO ping pong tables! Afterall, it's not that expensive.

Tropical Holidays

The holidays are near... and many expats here are thinking where to go.
A Winter Holiday? Or a Tropical One?
Those who miss the cold wintry white scenery over Christmas will opt to go for a Winter Holiday. But many still choose a Tropical one. Hey...in fact, we wanted to take a cruise around the Caribbean, visiting Bahamas, St Martin, the us virgin islands and more. But Christmas is PEAK season. Thus H and I decided to do it some other time.

A MUST in Every Home!

"What is it?", you ask.
The toilet. Of course!
Can you imagine living in a home without one?
I certainly can't. Can you imagine trotting out into the bush in the middle of the night?
Eeeeks!
And don't let some people fool you with their definition of a toilet... I remember when I was younger, there were these "hole in the ground" that they call toilet. Hey. I don't need American Standard toilets but at least something made of porcelain will suffice!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More Photos of Roemah Djawa

Managed to upload a few more photos of Roemah Djawa. See the other photos here.


The houseowners loves bright colours...as can be seen from the purples, blues, oranges, reds on the walls. Even their air-cond units are painted as per the wall colours!


Entrance of a Hallway
(Paintings of the ASMATs)

Artefacts from Archeological Digs
(Some of these items are over 2 million years old!!!)

Remember I said in my previous post that the houseowners run a specialty tour company? Well, I am pretty interested to go on this particular tour which includes one full day of archeological digs at the site of JavaMan. That reminds me, I need to email them for the information. They only do it once a year in mid-May (Shucks! but that is the time my MIL will be in town... let's see if I can squeeze in between!)


The Main Living Area
(Again, I shouldn't have squashed 6 photos in
)
Mask and Puppet Room
(One should not buy a Mask anyhow. A Mask must "call out to you"!)


Batik Room
There's still the Bead Room, The office, the West Kalimantan Room, the Master bedroom... and all chockablock with collectibles.
And what do you know? I managed to get invited to visit this Treasure Trove again last Friday for a Wine and Cheese do. Dragged H with me then. We were the first, and naturally he started drinking at 6 pm....and all the way till 11 pm! And all with just cheese to fill in the gaps. Needless to say, he was a bit weird at the end of the evening. :-)
H commented that he has never ever seen a private home with a collection such as this! He was totally amazed with the 2.5 million year old HomoErectus skull on display. Just that would worth a tidy sum!!!

May Wedding...

Another sister getting married!
And who other than the bride and groom is excited?
Well...don't think you can guess that it would be my S2.
That boy is thinking of what to wear for the wedding..and he is thinking of a full tuxedo. It would be nice if both my boys could wear tuxedos....BUT realistically, it might not be a good idea. After the wedding and with the tropical weather, the only thing that they could probably wear again would be the tuxedo shirts alone. Don't you agree? Maybe I should just get the formal tuxedo shirts and forget about the rest of the ensemble.

TV Addicts

Who?
Our whole family, that is.
There's only 4 of us, but there are 6 TVs in our house, 2 with home theater systems. I'm fine without the surround sound etc. But my H? He needs to have the whole theater package. In his "Selfish Room", there are like 9 speakers for his home theater system. Yes. You read correct. 9! I hear things like woofer, sub-woofer so-on and so-forth and I'm thinking "a dog of some sort??"....... Shhhh.....don't let my H hear me say that!!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Photos of Roemah Djawa

Only managed to upload some photos. Don't know what happened. Either my PC has gone whacko or the internet connection or blogger. One of those days when everything seems to go wrong...

The Entrance to the House
(bottom right photo depicts the "Pendopo" in the main living area)
The house has 14 rooms (I think) and each room has it's own theme/function. There's the Chinese Room, Batik Room, ASMAT Room, Puppet Room, Beads Room, etc etc.
The Chinese Room
(Maybe I shouldn't have squashed 10 photos into this collage)

The HomeOwner's Bathroom
(The amount of jewellery can make any girl envious!)
ASMAT Room
(filled with Primitive Art from ASMAT tribe. Apparently the collection here is better than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York!)
Stairway to Upstairs Area

There were many many more photos that I took. But just have so much problems uploading them. IT is indeed a very interesting home to visit. And despite having 14 rooms, the house is deemed too small for the vast collection of antiques and art. A new house has just been completed...and the move has already started, and anticipated to be ready to receive visitors mid-2010. I'm told that there would be a performance hall to showcase the rich culture.

What's the Problem?

I really do NOT understand what is the problem with my blog.
When I tried to view it, it just says "LINK is BROKEN" or "Website cannot be found"...
BUT BUT and yet. I can log in and post. But cannot read.
WEIRD!!!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Some Updates - 1 Dec 2009

Wow! It's DECEMBER already. Time really flew by this year. Don't you think??
I know that I have been really lax in both reading your blogs, and also in updating mine. Anyway, here's some updates.

Back to School
Boys went back to school yesterday...after a week long break. Stayed put in the city. Initially wanted to go Singapore...but back problems and the absence of our passports made this option impossible. So this was what we did:
- Immigration Office to sort out our passports
- Waterbom (waterpark)
- Watched 2012, Michael Jackson's This Is It and New Moon.
- S2's friends and their mommies over to our house for playdate and chit-chat respectively
- S1's friend Sleepover on Friday Night
- Boys continued with their twice-weekly Mandarin Classes

Movies. Movies. Movies.
I have to say that if Michael was still alive, his This Is It concert would be a GREAT one. S2 was the one who wanted to watch it. He and his pals is crazy over the songs. We bought him the CD and he nearly made me go crazy with its REPEATED playing. When we went to watch it, the theater was really empty. Halfway through, he went to the front and I'm sure he must have danced and sang along. :-)
As for New Moon. We got conned into watching it. S1 assured us that this 2nd movie would be more on vampires and werewolves...and not a love story like the first show. WAH! It's a LOVE story to the MAX. Not your ordinary LOVE story BUT one with the "I will die for you" kind of love story! Waaaaaay too much of lovey-dovey ...even for me!

BAD Parents
Who?
Both H and I.....as we are dumping the boys with my parents in Malaysia, and then going to the States for Xmas and New Year. I fly out to KUL on the 19th of December with the boys, and I fly down to Singapore on the 22nd to meet up with H for our flight to SFO. From there, we will make our way down to Los Angeles. And we fly out to New York to be in time for the New Year's countdown in Times Square. My girlfriend C commented "How cheesy can your H be? Countdown at Times Square!" Hahahhaha. But I guess it's a once a lifetime thing.
I tell you...all the hotel rooms are cheap around this time of the year.... EXCEPT New Year's Eve in New York. Our 3 nights in New York still cost much more than our 8 nights on the West Coast. Anyway, I will get back to KUL on the 6th of January 2010.....to pick the boys up for our flight back on the 8th of January. They start school on the Monday after.

Roemah Djawa
I had a great time visiting Roemah Djawa this morning. It's a private home which is filled to the brim with antiques and art from the Indonesian Archipelago. It's a museum and art gallery! I tried to upload some photos but somehow there is a problem. I will try to do it tomorrow. Anyway, the home has been showcased in Architectural Digest, Financial Times etc. If you wanna read a little bit about this place, go here . The homeowners run a specialty travel company Remote Destinations...and Mick Jagger is a key client (seen from photos of Mick with the owner). The husband was away...so it was his American wife that gave the tour this morning.

Painting Exhibition
Will be participating in an art exhibition in less than two weeks! My FIRST! Am kinda excited and don't know what to expect. Just imagining my paintings in the exhibition catalogue is thrilling enough. Wah! But if somehow buys my painting, I will be really OVER THE MOON! (I've priced my painting from USD 300 upwards. :-) )
Will update on this event later.

Okay later...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What happened to SAFETY FIRST?

In my years working in construction sites, waste treatment and petchem chem plants, SAFETY was always paramount. Safety helmets, vests, harness, boots, coveralls, glasses or goggles etc were the norm. SAFETY FIRST was the motto. But it seems that safety is not always highly regarded by others. Many a times, I would see workers working on a road in the dead of night with no high-visibility safety vests. Is it nonchalant attitude towards their own safety, ignorance or employer non-diligence?

Fulfillment Services

As more and more consumers turn to shopping online, many traditional retailers are finding the need to tap into the e-marketplace in order to maintain marketshare. In many cases, this has been the fastest growing sales channel for retailers. Many of these retailers find it highly advantageous to outsource their order fulfillments by engaging a fulfillment company. Generally, the fulfillment company would provide product storage, handle order processing, package and deliver the ordered item to the end-consumer on behalf of the retailer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

General Updates - 23 Nov 2009

Week Long Break!
Boys are having a week long break. And what does that mean??
Games. TV. Internet.
What else?
Originally, intended to either bring the boys to Yogjakarta or Singapore. H actually prefer that I go to Singapore. But with my 'cacat' neck/back/arm, decided to stay put to keep to my chiropractic schedules.
Besides, we are without passports....as our visa/permit needs extension.
Donno why sooooo many holidays one. And it'll only be another 3 weeks before they break for 3 weeks over Xmas/New Year.
Anyway, planning to take them to Waterbom on Wednesday....if it doesn't rain....RAINY season now...

CryBaby
Me. That is.
I find that my tear ducts are ULTRA sensitive these days. The more so, the older I get.
I cry at almost any movies.
I actually cried a few times watching 2012 yesterday!
H was very amused...
GILA or not??
BTW, thought that 2012 was quite a nice movie...

Neck/Back/Arm Pains...
Am better...but still not totally okay.
Despite of the pains, I adhered to my usual planned activities last week.... did went painting on Monday, scrapbooking on Tuesday, tour to Villa D'Equilibrium on Wed, gym on Thursday (though I reduced my time and extent). Friday...think I just lazed about after my chiropractic adjustment. Hee hee..
Went for a swim with the boys this evening...could feel that my right arm has minimal strength. Needed a noodle to help me afloat. Don't know when I would totally be okay... the chiropractor mentioned at least 36 sessions. My insurance policy generally covers up to 16 sessions only, and they would only approve more sessions with a medical resport. Yes. Will be getting the chiropractor to prepare a detail report. Will see how this goes...

New Painting
Yes! I've completed another painting. Actually, completed last Monday.
Check it out HERE.
You like?

What happened to my Baking???
Yup. Haven't baked for ages. And I mean ages!!!!
For one, I've been in pain....and also lazy. There are numerous Xmas bazaars around town that I could have had a stall selling my cupcakes. Boys' school had one on the 11th. And then the American school just last Saturday, and then there's another bazaar tomorrow...and another next week. But But But....PAIN and LAZINESS just does not allow me to commit. :-)
Plus, I wanted to finish off my paintings... going to participate in an art exhibition next month.
More details later...

New Maid
Two weeks. So far so good....and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she'll last longer than the rest! She's not really a cook, but as long as she can prepare and cut the ingredients, deep-fry stuff (I hate doing this), do simple stir-frys...should be okay lah. She made fish and chips today, which turned out alright. I can do the more complicated stuff, if required.
She's definitely neater than my last runaway maid. How can I tell?
You know those cleaning sponges and cloths that you normally keep under the sink? Where no one sees?
Well, the last maid basically THROWs everything intho the cabinet. Whereas this one actually folds the cloth, and nicely stack the sponges.
So. I'm hopeful....

Visit to the Sacred Source

Last Wednesday (18th Nov), my Explorer Group visited Villa D'Equilibrium. It's where EQUIL natural mineral water is bottled. At present, I'm told they've exported to Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Learnt quite a bit about what the term "natural" means, i.e. the water must NOT be treated at all, and bottled immediately at source.

We toured the bottling plant and even had a "water-tasting" session. Yes. We always hear about Wine-tasting...but water tastes different too. And Yes. The EQUIL did taste sweeter and smoother than a competitor's water.

I forgot to take a photo of the main Villa. How Silly!!! So, here is a nice one which I "borrowed" from their site.

Villa D'Equilibrium with Mount Salak in the background
The pine trees around the estate.
A cute deer


The source is believed to be sacred, and it was founded by a paranormal. In fact, the whole design of the property is based on advice from this paranormal.
View towards the Sacred Source
Closer View - The Sacred Source is enclosed in a Brick structure in the background
One can enter the Sacred area... but had to be done individually and in an anti-clockwise manner. Some feel peace. Others breathlessness, or heart palpitations. Me? Nothing. Perhaps too blurr??
Majority of the water from the sacred source is diverted to the bottling plant, and a small flow is allowed to emanated from here...

It is believed that two guardians stand guard of this source, and one can make a wish whilst drinking from here. With a 'cacat' (retarded) right arm, I was hesitant to sip directly from the spring... as you would have to support your body with your arms as you kneel down to sip. But after much persuasion, I had a go....
That's me...in RED

I was okay the first time I went down to have a sip. But when I tried to dip my face into the water (according to the staff, good for the face!!!), I could feel both my arms just gave way. No. I didn't fall in nor knock my head. Composed myself and pushed myself up. Apparently, the two guardians are males and would sometimes play tricks on females. Last week, at another explorers' tour, two ladies experienced the same thing...and one of them was very athletic and strong! Am told of another incident whereby a pregnant Singaporean lady started dancing a local dance after a sip of the water.
:-)
We then had lunch in the grounds under a tent. Didn't stay too long to chat as I had to rush off to catch my chiropractor's appointment. It was indeed an interesting trip!!
p/s In case you are wondering...I feel fine after drinking water straight from the ground!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Better Today....

After days of agony....and basically immobilized in bed, I finally felt better yesterday evening. I supposed it's because I am pumped full of painkillers, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants...coupled with the few sessions of chiropractic treatments.

I was in so much pain on Friday that I went to see my regular GP. She looked at my XRays, recommended that I continue with my chiropractic care, and prescribed me with the above-said drugs.

I tell you... really "hou-chann" (good earning capabilities??) this chiropractor. I'm in and out of the clinic in 15 minutes flat. The nurse/ assistant will massage my back with those electronic handheld massagers for a few minutes to loosen up my muscles and tendons and what-nots. Then he comes in. I think he only lay his hands on me for 7 minutes or so. And you know how much that costs?? USD 60 !!!!
Really "fatt-tatt" ...don't you think?
Do I hear you say GO somewhere else?
Aiya. This place comes highly recommended. Plus the chiropractors are all foreigners. My chiropractor is a Californian chap. Don't think there are that many practicing chiropractors here.
What to do? Expensive also must pay ler...

You know what my silly H said?
"Ah? Like that only ah? And costs USD 60? I also can press press here. Twist twist there for you! Better still. I go and open one shop."
Aduh!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crazeeeeeee Week!

Yes. This has indeed been a crazy week.
Power has been CUT sooooooo often that I am almost crazy.
Really GILA. I tell you.
I mean the first 3 years we were here, I think there were only like 2 or 3 power cuts, and they were like only for 2 hours or so.
But these last 5 months, the power cuts are like uncountable liow. And for such crazy duration like 5 to 6 hours!!!!
Just this last week, power cut for I don't know how long...as I took the boys out to the mall to have movie and dinner.
Then just this last Saturday (Yup, the day that my sister and family arrived. Greet them with NO power!), power was out from 8 AM to about 2 PM.
Then on Monday morning, from 1.30 AM to 6.30 AM.
Tuesday, from 1.30 PM to about 6.30 PM
And then yesterday, the power went out twice! Once for an hour in the morning, and I don't know for how long in the afternoon as we all went out to luxuriate in the air-conditioning of the malls.
I tell you really CRAZEEEEEEEE.

Why suddenly so many power cuts?? Well, apparently a power station caught fire sometime in September...and that caused havoc. As if that is not enough, some transformer went whacko earlier this month.
We are contemplating to install a generator.... perhaps to lease one.
If buying...we'll have problems disposing when we leave. Aiya donno lah.

As if the power cuts weren't enough.... woke up to find that I didn't have water on Monday morning.... as when the power went off, so did my groundwater pumps. Yeah. Most houses run on water pumped out from the ground. And thus, no water being pumped up from the ground to my tanks. ADUH! I almost pengsan! The maintenance guys did come and fix the problem in a jiffy....But even then, had to wait for the small positive-displacement pump to transfer the groundwater up to my tank. Even now..at this hour, I can still hear my pump working really hard...non-stop.

As if all these craziness is not enough... I took my sister and family up to the Safari Park. Made the mistake of going all the way to the top of the hill for breakfast, and got stuck coming downhill. The jam was really really crazy. As in it took 20 minutes to go up the hill from the point of the Safari Park, but OVER TWO hours to come down to the same point. Really really crazy. And then there was also heavy heavy traffic when we left the Safari Park.
Thank Goodness that the little kids did not complain as much as I expected.
Have to say they were quite good boys lah.

Despite the craziness of the last week, I did have a maid that came to work on Monday. She seems quite pleasant. So far so good lah. But then, today is only the third day. But my first impression was a good one. I actually had one that came for an interview on Friday. First look, I wasn't really keen...but Beggars Can't be Choosers so went ahead to talk to her. Couldn't really understand her. Driver kept explaining to me what she said...but I told him to stop as I needed understand her. Luckily she wasn't willing to handle pork. And I wasn't gonna give up eating pork because of a maid. So told her to go. No point discussing further.

On Sat, he told me there was another maid....and he told her to come on Monday. He said she'll be here at 9 AM. But according to my guard, she was already waiting outside of my house at 7 AM. Spoke to her...blah blah blah blah.. and then ask when she could start.
She actually already took all her clothes over!
So she started on Monday.
I only had a trickling of water in the house, so she cleaned whatever she could.
I told her mopping was most important....and went out with my sister.
I know. I know. So brave to leave a total stranger in the house.
But I couldn't be bothered to stay at home to babysit the maid lah. If really want to steal stuff...work 5 years or whatever, also can steal ler.
Anyway, we'll see how this one maid goes....

Agony!!!!!!!

That's where I am in now!
I am in so much pain that I also don't know why I am at the computer.
But one can't be sleeping all the time right??? That's the only time that I don't feel the pain.
I did have a 2 hour nap...Just got up actually. My S1 was adamant that I rest, and not go with him to their Chinese class. I usually drop them off and then I go off to the gym. But not today...

What is wrong with me??
Well, I thought it was a PULLED muscle.
As you know, my main RAN AWAY last wednesday.... and my sister and family were arriving in town on Saturday. So what do I do?
I cleaned the house on Friday. I thought I was SUPERWOMAN as I cleaned ALL the toilets, mopped the floors, even had a private painting class, did grocery shopping, etc etc. By the end of Friday, my neck was pretty stiff and in pain. But tolerable.
Monday, the pain had gone to around the shoulder blades...and by Tuesday, I could feel my right arm in pain too. By Wednesday, I was in tears.

I then got some referrals from friends for a chiropractor...and trott off to see him in the afternoon. There was this gadget that measures the alignment of the spine... I could see some deviations but the main bit that was kinda out was at the vertebrae at the base of my neck.
Saw the chiropractor (not bad looking chap ...heehee) and he sent me off to have Xrays taken at a hospital. Saw him again this morning... BOY! Is my spine CROOKED or what???
Aduh. I could see my spine bending to the LEFT and then to the RIGHT. And when he showed me the SIDE view of my neck area, it was waaaaay OFF normal! ADUH! He said that this condition did not arise overnight nor over months. It was built up over a long time. Just that four months ago, my body was giving me signs of troubles to come (remember my SUPPORT PILLOW which I went out to buy??), and here it is FULL BLOWN.

I was hoping that with today's visit, everything would be miraculously sorted. BUT BUT. Guess what?? I have to have intensive sessions like 3 TIMES a week for 8 Weeks, and then twice for another 6 Weeks. And that is just to correct my NECK. The other crooked bits? He said to try to use more of my left side, and he'll teach me some exercises to reduce the STIFFNESS of my mid-back which is starting to show signs of extra bone growth (as in cantonese "kuatt-chi"). Damn depressing lah. And to think that I am still soooooooooooooooooo YOUNG. Have been kidding myself, huh??

Next session is tomorrow. Wish me luck that my pain will be alleviated!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More about the maid...

...... Not that I am sour grapes because she doesn't want to work for me anymore. But I feel I must blog abit leh.
Driver went and ask some people and apparently, her grandmother had passed on yonks ago. Proof that she lied. She also borrowed some money from him, which she hasn't repaid. And she really did take stuff from my house... he will HUNT her down. As it is, he will seek her out for the loan repayment. He's quite upset with her as he is the one that recommended her to the job. Her deceased husband was his friend and obviously, he thought he was doing good. He said that she came in by the front door, and she should leave by the front door. Not sneakily through the back door (metaphorically speaking).

They (guards and driver) is sure that she is pregnant. She has been vomiting for like 3 weeks, and she only worked for me a month. Plus, my driver has seen her "boyfriend" previously.

Anyway, I did the unthinkable yesterday. I actually texted my old maid (the one who worked for me for over 2 years, but left in January when her son passed away) to ask her if she wanted to come back and work for me. I had assumed that she wanted to come back as she texted me in late September to send me wishes for my birthday, and to ask about the boys.
Well, I was wrong. She is now pregnant and residing in the village. Good for her lor. I sent her my best wishes with my broken bahasa.

Driver is going to help me look for another maid....and I will probably have her over either on Sunday or Monday. Yeah. Yeah. Easy to find maids. But good or not is another thing. Actually, it is quite a scary thing isn't it? Having a maid. You literally INVITE a stranger into your house....with all your belongings easily assessible. And if you have young children, stranger with your children! Mine are quite big monsters already, so at least not so scared. The most is steal some little things.
Errr...but don't want to think about GILA maids lah. One that suddenly go coo-coo and chase after you with chopping knife kind.... Eeeeeeks!
Better change topic...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Maids!!!!!

Well. Guess what?
I'm without a maid again.
I went to the Parent-Teacher conference this afternoon, when I came home, she was gone.... The guard said that she left just 5 minutes after I left giving some lame excuse about her grandma passing. She left me a note citing same reason...and that she took the garbage fee of US 10 for her 3 days salary.

It's definitely ALL BALONEY. I'm sure she wanted to leave waaaay before. I gave her the garbage money 2 days before, and she didn't pay the garbage man....and kept the money for herself. And how come so coincidence that she would get the call and to leave just 5 minutes after???

And S1 has just told me that his mobile phone is missing. I know my kids usually put their things all over the place...but I was sure that I saw it on his bedside table this morning....because he told me that his credits had expired etc etc. The guard did check her things...but she does have her own mobile. So I guessed he saw the mobile and assumed it belonged to her. Oh well...what to do?

Anyway, I wasn't too happy with her... but thought I could TRAIN her to do it MY way. As I mentioned before, she worked as a part-timer for me for about 4 months. She wasn't perfectly clean then. But I sorta shrug it off...thinking limited time to fully clean stuff, but she did manage to complete all the tasks in 4 hours. So when she said that she wanted the full-time job, I gave it to her although I had my reservations. I mean a FULL-timers responsibilities would be very different from a PART-timers. Also, with part-timers, my tolerance for not-so-perfect work is higher. I was afraid that she would have problems "adjusting" to my standards.

True enough....she was leaving things like how I did when I didn't have a FULL-time maid. When she worked for me as a part-timer, I made my own bed, and it wasn't as smooth as nice as I would have liked but being a busy bee with grocery shopping, painting, scrapbooking etc...I just make do. So when she became a Full-timer, she also made my bed in a not-so-perfect way. No improvement whatsoever. All my previous maids actually made my bed oh-so-smooooooth.

The other thing that I couldn't stand is her HALF-DONE work. When she was a Part-timer, she HAD to complete all the task given in the 4 hours and then she get paid. When she became a Full-Timer, she was delaying and dragging her feet on her chores. I would see plates and stuff from breakfast in the sink for the longest of time. Or pots washed but not kept till like waaaaaaaaay later. For example, the other day...I saw pots on the drainer at 9 am before I went out. When I came back at 3 pm, she was starting to put them away.
Or she would wash the kitchen cloths, take it out and leave it on the washing machine....and then only hang them out like an hour later. WHY? I don't know. It's not that she doesn't do it. She does but like waaaaaaaay later. She seems to like breaking a task into many sections so at any one time, there would be 3 or 4 incomplete half done task.

I am out almost everyday....and when I am home, I seldom call on her. And when I do, she is ALWAYS in her room. Not ironing. Not in the house tidying. Not in the garden. But in her room. Please don't get me wrong. I am not a slave driver. One can surely rest. BUT to have so many half done task staring in my face is just too much. I usually come downstairs at about 9 ish am. And what do I see? Carpets all rolled up. Yes. She has cleaned and mop the floors, but just couldn't bother to replace the carpets after the floors are dry. So it looks really untidy. I go into the kitchen. Pots are left in the sink unwashed. The washed kitchen cloths sitting on the washing machine. And where is she? In her room....doing what I don't know.

Always in her room. All my previous maids will run out to get my groceries with a honk from the car. This one? My driver will always have to call and call, or most of the time, carry my groceries into my kitchen for me. My driver says that she probably is trying to find new husband, "pak-tor" via phone....that's why always in her room.

Actually, I just got my driver to have a talk with her yesterday...cause I was getting tired of reminding her to do things....like washing the toilets everyday. I mean it's a simple task. Why wait till I see dirty toilet, get upset then only get on with the washing???
Why get the driver? Because he was the one that brought her in to work for me.
She is a widow, and her deceased husband used to work as a driver.
I kept her despite all my complaints. My friends were all urging me to get rid of her. But I thought... a bit "chamm" (kesihan. pitiful) to ask her to go if she has 2 daughters to feed back home.

But what do you know?? Apparently, she is pregnant!!!
According to my guard. That is. How true I don't know lah.

I should have known that she is abit dodgy the first couple of days as a full-timer....cause she was wearing her sleepwear in the morning...while working. As in making breakfast for my kids and mopping the floors. I then told her to CHANGE and wear appropriate clothes.

Oh well.... only loss is my S1's mobile. So far, that is.
Who knows?
I might discover some other lost items later...

Art by Nomadic Mom

Must advertise my new blog abit lah....

Go and view MY Art at www.artbynomadicmom.blogspot.com !

Updates.... 4th November 2009

Some boring updates....

S2's Residential
As usual, S2 had a ball of a time at his 3 days/2 nights Residential Trip....visited museum, had fun at a water park, stayed in a 5 * hotel room with his pals...and best of all, NO mommy NAGS for the duration!

Dubai?
H came home the other day and mentioned the possibility of Dubai on the cards...
I said "Huh? No driver wor...." and then H said "but people drive BMWs there...since no tax"
Me - "Okay. I want an X5!"
H - "X5? Got camel also thau-cheow already!!"
Hahhahah...
That's just all talk lah. I've learnt earlier on NOT to think and fret about where we are going next.... cause it's all talk and probably will not come into fruition. As H says "Sapp wakk ter mei yau yatt peet" (have to say in Cantonese lah).
Will cross the bridge when we come to the waters.... I just want to put this in as I thought H's comment about the CAMEL was rather funny. Heee

H Away
H is currently on his way to Europe for work. Took the midnight flight out from Singapore. The last time I spoke to him, he sounded rather stressed about work....lots of changes, it seems. I hope he is coping okay. He actually left for Singapore on Sunday....and will only be back next Sunday. Whilst he is away, S2 is keeping his side of the bed warm...which means either I have to be in bed early OR S2 goes to bed later than his usual bedtime. The plus thing is I could just kick him up... instead of getting up and then going to his room to wake him. Hhahaha. Yes. Lazy mommy.

No Baking ...
Yeah. I haven't baked for two weeks. Seems like a long time. I had some "missed" inquiries that was sent via email. My fault. Of course...
I was also too lazy to bake for the boys' class....despite repeated pleas. Don't know lah. Just have no mood to bake...although I did buy Martha Stewarts book with 175 cupcake recipes last weekend. :-D

Parent-Teacher Conference
My S1 has a student -led conference with the teachers today, which means I would have to take the long ride out to school. S1's home with me now. I think he is feeling kinda restless since no TV and Computer allowed. But he is good in the sense that he read his book and then practised his Sax. Both he and S2 managed to get the tunes for the HOUSE theme... as in you know the series Dr. House????
Anyway, will see what his teachers say about his performance at school later today....

Sis and Family
Yeah. 2nd sis and her family will be flying in from Singapore this Saturday for a short visit. Have been trying to see where to go. Water Park? Safari Park? Kidzania? Seaworld?
We have not decided yet as my boys only can accompany them over the weekend. We'll see how ler...

New Blog
Check out my new blog! I've been busy...
ART by NOMADIC MOM

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!


We are indeed sad souls.... Not invited for any Halloween Parties.

No Trick or Treat for the kids.

So what do we do?? We went to Ritz Carlton for a buffet dinner. We were done is less than an hour....

I told H that if it's just us (with no friends whatsoever) we should NOT go for buffets anymore.....seems like we just eat and go, like eating Char Kway Teow in a coffee shop only. H was like "Full already. Go home and sleep lah. What for stay here? Do what?"
That's true lah.
Another reason we shouldn't go for buffets anymore... we don't eat as much as before. Old already. Can't eat that much. Not worth it. (Yes. Yes. This is KIASU talk. Must eat 'kau-kau'!!)

Plus these days, I prefer my Chinese COMFORT foods.... my noodles, porridge etc as compared to roasts and steaks. Think my boys did eat "enough" to match the price (boys still half-price) but don't think I did....so RUGI lah. Hahhahaha.

So better just stick to my chinese roast pork and duck place next time.

Part-time Job for a Mom?

If you are a stay-at-home mom, and you are thinking of working part-time.... A job that allows you to earn some money, help others, is fullfilling, and have prospects. What would that be?
Medical Assistants.
What do Medical Assistants do?
Medical Assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks to keep the medical offices and clinics running smoothly. They are also involved in helping patients feel at ease. Many Medical Assistants work part-time, which is ideal for a mom.
To start, all you need is to obtain a medical assisting certification, which is easily achievable through a ten-month ONLINE program. So what are you waiting for?

Medical Travel...

Did you know that thousands of people travel OUTSIDE of their country of residence for medical diagnosis and treatment?
Why?
Well, there are many reasons...ranging from competitive costs to superior care, to medical advancement etc. Medical travel is now a worldwide trend. Europeans travelling to Asia for plastic and other surgeries, Americans getting spine surgery Mexico packages, Asians travelling to Australia or the US, and the list goes on....

Signs of Adulthood...

What do you think is the first visible sign of adulthood?
Acne, of course!
At 12 years of age, my S1's face is starting to be filled-up with acne of all shapes and sizes. Some are quite gross, I have to say! though I've bought him some oil-control facial cleansers, I don't know if he actually used them....as he thinks acne is a mark of adulthood!
Or maybe the cleansers are not sufficient. Perhaps I have to get some natural acne treatments as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where Can???

Sure cannot lah... How to really NOT care about the monsters?
All talk only. At the end, also sure give in.
How not to? When the younger one has a 3 day/2 night Residential?
I had to make sure he has got all the necessary stuff, and most importantly, I had to make sure the school nurse gets his asthma meds. Cannot exactly NOT give them the meds, right?
So what do I do?
Trot all the way to school early Wednesday morning lah!!
Talk about being TOUGH... All bluff people one.

Yeah. Yeah. My S2 going on a Residential.... Not roughing it out. No Sireeeeeee.
The kids will all be staying in a 5 * Hotel. Yup! You heard me right!
Apparently, the food on this trip is so good that one of the teachers put on 2 kilos whenever she goes on this trip....which takes place annually for the Year 5s.
With S2 away, house is especially quiet.....

Later..

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leave them....

....to their own devises???

Sure won't work. Sure will be haywire.

Being a mom...how to NOT care???

Aduh!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tiles, tiles and more tiles!

Do you know how many types of tiles are used in your home?
I counted at least five different types in mine.
- White marble tiles in the living and dining area.
- Black granite tiles in the kitchen.
- Heavy duty natural stone tiles in the pool area.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles in the bathrooms.
The bedrooms are covered with wood-parquet....which is also a type of tile, isn't it?
Looks like every single part of my house is covered with one type of tile or other.....certainly surrounded by tiles, tiles and more tiles!

I didn't know!

Honest!
I didn't know such a thing as a walk in bath exists.
Did you?
Well, if you are ignorant like I am, this is how it looks like ----->



I know that many people get rid of their conventional bath tubs when they start having problems climbing over the sides. They compromised the luxury of a warm bath with quick showers. Now with this type of walk in baths, there's no need to compromise. Isn't it great?

A better kitchen....

Okay. I am not really complaining about my kitchen. But I think a few additions would really make it better. Firstly, a larder would be nice. No more opened jars, bottles and what-nots messing up the counter-tops. A granite-topped island would be a great convenience for my baking venture. At the moment, I have to move stuff out onto the dining table. Quite a hassle...I must say! And to clean up all the baking mess, a pull-out spray kitchen faucet would certainly come in handy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hand me a NOOSE....

.....so that I can HANG myself!

Remember the 2-week no nagging/scolding/screaming rules?
Well, I sucked in sticking to it.
How to?
When you have kids that just refuse to listen. Refuse to just do what they are told?

BUT I am determined to stick to it now. How? When I failed miserably before?
Well, by NOT CARING.
It's only when you care, then you get upset, angry, sad, etc etc....
If you don't care, no feelings, emotions will ever be hurt.
Yes. I am hurt. So very hurt.
I feel that I really failed as a mother.
So.... I'm NOT going be one.
I will leave H to do whatever parenting he wants to do.
I will just go about my own business.

NO more waking them up in the morning. They can rely on their alarm clocks or whatever. I don't need to have angry grumpy faces greeting me in the morning for disturbing their slumber.

NO more sitting with them at breakfast. They can eat their breakfast. Don't eat their breakfast. I don't care. They can be hungry. Have gastric. No energy. No concentration. I don't care.

NO more reminding them if they did their homework or packed their bags. They can get punished by their teachers. They can do badly at school. I don't care. As H puts it. If they fail miserably in their studies, and fail to get into universities; we will save soooooooooo much money for our holidays around the world! Wooooo-Hooooo!!

NO more pushing them to go for Mandarin. If they feel they can excel in this world with just a singular language...then so be it.

NO more reminding them to go for music classes....nor to practise at home. No other skills?
No problemo.

NO more reminding them to go for swimming classes. Swimming is a life-skill...and I'm sure they are both proficient enough to save themselves if need be. Just thought that continuing this activitiy would improve their fitness levels, and build muscle mass. But heck! What adolescent want to have a BOD like a GREEK GOD, right? I'm sure they would be happy with skinny puny wimpy bodies....

NO more asking them to eat their vegetables nor vitamins or whatever. Who needs vegetables, right?

I could go ON and ON like an EverReady battery....but I think I will just stop now.

NO more CARING!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Shouting and Nagging???

Remember my previous post about my boys??
Well. I donno how to describe BEYOND FED-UP.

This morning, I reminded S1 about his Saxophone lesson today. And he is to re-check the time so that he won't miss it. He thanked me for reminding him.
And guess what?
He did NOT bring his saxophone to school. So obviously did NOT go for the lesson.
When I queried him about it. He gave some stupid excuse about having some exam blah blah blah.
Stupid excuses to cover up his irresponsibilities.

Yesterday. I reminded S2 to pack his swimming gear for today. And asked him again this morning if he has packed his swimming gear. Answer was YES.
When he came home in the afternoon, I asked him if he went swimming today. He answered Yes. When I asked a few more questions. He was like err. ahh. I knew that he lied.
Then comes stupid excuses about NOT able to find goggles. No swimming cap blah blah blah.

What's with them?
I am really sooooooooooooooooo fed-up. I complained to H about HIS boys.
And he did give the boys an earful. Obviously -
Nudging gently doesn't work.
Nagging doesn't work.
Scolding doesn't work.
Screaming doesnt work.
So what works???

I don't know....
BUT I've been told to BACK-OFF by H for two weeks.
No Nagging.
No Scolding.
No Screaming.
Just tell ONCE and then leave it at that. Don't react. Just observe.
For two whole weeks.

Not only that. He told the boys that they could watch TV, Play games. Do whatever they want.
And what do I do?
Observe their level of responsibility.
Homework done?
Bags packed?
Things put away?

I really don't know how this works. But H is adamant that I do this. He says ALL my old ways obviously do NOT work. He said that I NAGGED too much and NOBODY pays attention to NAGGING... Sure I will be IGNORED. So NO NAGGING ever!

I am having problems coming to grips with this "arrangement". Well, they seem to be "behaving"so far this evening... as in doing what they are told. But that could be because H is the one that is doing the telling. But what happens when he travels for work?
H says I shouldn't REACT even if they do not do as they are told. Just observe....
Very very difficult to do.......

Wish me LUCK that I stay sane for the next two weeks....

Fried Foods....

My whole family just loves Fried Foods. I know. It's pretty fattening. My boys are fine, and still as skinny as ever.... as they are so active and can burn the extra calories off pretty easily.But what about me? I am not as active nor do I go to the gym often enough. So I try to limit the amount of fried foods in my house. Alternatively, I could indulge and then turn to diet pills for rescue!

Different This Year

How many of you out there is like me?
Hands Up.
Like me in what way? - I hear you ask.
Like me as in buying Christmas cards after Christmas when it is ON SALE.....and I keep them for a whole year till the NEXT Christmas.
Terrible. I know.
BUT this year, I am going to be DIFFERENT!
I will get personalized holiday photo cards specially made. It'll be a nice touch...and it won't be a year old!
Hahaha

Inventory of Belongings

Being an expat family, we move every few years from one country to another. With every move, there would be the usual packing and listing of our belongings. It's easy with the larger items such as furniture and appliances. But items like books, CDs and DVDs are a little bit more difficult to itemize. I was wondering if I could get a handheld barcode scanner to do the job. All my books, CDs, DVDs listed in a proper format. That would be great. Don't you think?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fuming Mad!

Fed-UP!
With whom?
My boys. Who else??
How do you get them to listen?????
I am just so tired of repeating myself. I am like a BROKEN RECORD that is going on and on and on. Everyday, there would be something that I need to reprimand over. As it is now, both of them are "GROUNDED", i.e. no TV nor computer...till end of this month.
Problem is that the school homework assignments require the use of the internet. Obviously I would have to give them access to the computer.
And what do I see when I do a spot check?
Behind the "homework" page, would be the online games page or email or facebook or whatever nonsense.

Permission is to be sought before the computer can be used. But no prizes for guessing whether they ask for permission prior to computer usage. I just don't understand. Is it so difficult to just ask?????
And I really hate it when they download all sorts of nonsense onto the computer...to the extend that it fouls out certain applications. S2 usually is the culprit. So much so that I had to bring the old DELL to be re-formatted as the whole hard drive was a real MESS!

And you know what? When I went to get something from my study room at 11-ish PM last night, I saw the computer was on. And what was on it? S2's Facebook page. I thought "Eh. The boys forgot to turn the computer off"...and then at the corner of my eye, I saw S2 trying a getaway or whatever he was doing. He actually sneaked out of his room to go on the computer.
No. 1 - He is supposed to be in bed....I tucked him into bed at 8.30 PM
No. 2 - He is NOT allowed the computer!
You say lah. ANGRY or not??

I hate doing it...but it seems that it is the only way. WATCH them like a HAWK!

When will we get a new car?

I don't know if I mentioned this before, .... that our car is leased on an annual basis. Therefore, we have an option to change at the end of each leasing period. Well, the time is now, but we are still waiting for a new car from the leasing company. I do not know what is taking them so long to execute the change. It's not that we are demanding a hard-to-get model nor state-of-the-art car accessories. We are not even demanding a brand new car. Just one that is newer than what we currently have. And one that doesn't have funny noises coming out of the engine. It's not too much to ask. Is it?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Six Nights in London...

I need to post about our trip here, otherwise by the time I do my scrapbooking pages, I would have forgotten everything and don't know how to do the journalling.

We arrived at London Stansted on Tuesday, 22nd September half an hour earlier than scheduled. As a result, we had to wait quite a while for our pre-booked taxi that we got from here. It is definitely cheaper than getting the Stansted Express. Not only that, it is so much more convenient as the train goes to Liverpool Street, and we would have to catch the tube to where we were staying. With the taxi, it drops us right in front of the doorstep of our serviced apartment. Booked into So Quartier at Kilburn Park via laterooms.com. It's quite a good rate at GBP 100/night for a serviced one-bedroom apartment. Boys slept on the sofabed out in the living room. Though located in Zone 2, we didn't spend that much extra as compared if we were to stay in a Zone 1 place. H and I each had Oyster Cards, and S1's off-peak travelcard was only GBP 1/- per day for all zones. S2 is free.

Now....let me see where we went.

Wednesday, 23rd - We went to the Tower of London. A guided tour by the Beefeaters is included in the ticket price. And whilst he was talking about Guy Fawkes, Ann Boleyn, Henry the VIII.... my smart alec S2 interrupted him and completed the sentence for him. Aiyo..... We later told him that people generally HATE smart alecs. Then H added "when dad was your age, I would drag the smart alecs to one corner and beat them up!" hahahahahhaha

The White Tower (I think) at The Tower of London


Then we crossed the Tower Bridge, towards London Dungeons. I have to say the London Dungeons is quite crap lah. If it weren't because we had to walk from one area to another, I'm sure I would have dozed-off!

Tower Bridge

Thursday, 24th - Boys started off the morning terrorizing the pigeons at Green Park. We then went to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben etc. We bought sandwiches and such and had brunch in St.James Park. Really nice and pleasant....sitting down and gazing at the greens and the birds and ducks. Boys? They had a blast here at St.James Park. Terrorizing the pigeons and the squirrels! I was wondering if the 'Against Cruelty to Animals' people were gonna come after us.

Ready. Get Set. Go!

Then it was time for Changing of the Guards. Whilst waiting, my S2 was whiney as ever....as it was quite warm. H asked if S2 is made of wax and is melting in the sun???

How often do you get such BLUE skies in London?

Crowds waiting for Changing of the Guards


We had pre-booked tickets to visit the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. The State Rooms were indeed grand. Can't take photos inside though... Only in the Gardens. We had some scones etc at the Palace's Cafe.

Buckingham Palace - The Rear

After the Palace Tour, off we went to BV at Sloan Street to get my birthday present from H. I seriously didn't want it....but he insisted. He had wanted to buy the bag for me since last year. But I kept insisting NO. Will post a pic later lah. And while we were there, my S1 had to go do his BIG BUSINESS. Aiyo....As it was a staff toilet, the salesguy had to literally WAIT outside the toilet for my S1 to finish with his poo. Yucks!

Friday, 25th - Think we visited the British Museum today... Not sure if the boys actually enjoyed themselves or not. But I did learn a little bit more about the Greeks at the free museum tour. The British Museum had so many statues that were taken from the Parthenon.When we were in Athens two years back, I remember the Acropolis Museum wanting the British Museum to return the artefacts....

And then to Covent Garden Market... Boys enjoyed themselves watching the different buskers. As usual, my S2 was picked by one of the magicians to do "magic". S2 was supposed to make some paper disappear, and while he wasn't looking, the guy threw the paper away (which everyone saw). But when S2 realised that the paper was gone, you could see a real surprised look....as if he believed the paper miraculously disappeared. The guy said " I love kids. They are so stupid". I have to say it was rather funny. As mentioned here, celebrated my birthday with dinner at Halepi with my sister G and her fiance.

Saturday, 26th - Had bought a REDUCED loaf of bread from Tescos so that boys could feed the ducks and swans over at Kensington Gardens. Warned them to feed far faaaaaaar away from me as I don't want the birds etc to come after me.

Boys running away from the birds...as they weren't fast enough with the feed
We then met with SH at Royal China for lunch. Her little one was not feeling well, so WK stayed at home and she drove down to London with her older one. After lunch, the boys wanted to go to the park to feed the ducks again. NO reduced bread. I was adamant at NOT paying full price for a loaf of bread meant for ducks ok!!!!! BUT H....as usual, spoiling the kids whenever.... bought a loaf of bread at GBP 1.09! This is really expensive for a loaf of bread. Even at UK standards! Even M&S bread is less than a pound at full price!!!!! Bleah...
As I was dishing out each piece of bread to the boys, I of course ngam-ngam-cham-cham. Bread is soooo soft, and I had to eat a bit of it. SH finds that amusing. But the bread is fresh what!
Princess of Wales Playground was the next stop. And what do you know??? My S2 gets himself "missing" inside. We couldn't find him. I knew he was in there somewhere (gated and fenced)....but not knowing where he was was not a pleasant feeling. Got so fed-up and dragged him out when we finally found him. Said our goodbyes with SH and then off to Oxford Circus as our musical Sister Act was to be at the London Paladium. Since there, thought...bring the boys to Hamleys. Soooo crowded. Told the boys to stay close. And what do you know? Just go in NOT even 2 minutes. I couldn't see the boys liow. I waited at the entrance/exit and H went round to look for them. Boy! Was I p!ssed with them. I was so mad that I told H to bring them back to the apartment, and I went off shopping on Oxford Street myself!
And what do you know? He took them back into Hamleys...and bought them each a weird looking frisbee. I wouldn't have bought the frisbee...cost over 10 quid EACH! Bought Two some more! Gila!
Really spoil them too much lah!!!!!!
Anyway, Sister Act was pretty good. Would be better if it had the main songs from the movie. Remember the one "Nothing you could do, could tear me away from My God. My God. " Well, it all consisted of new songs. I kept waiting and waiting for the familiar songs....thinking maybe Finale. But still tadaa. But boys enjoyed the show tremendously. Had made them watch the movie version in the morning (G brought the dvd to us on Friday) so that would at least know the storyline.

Sunday, 27th - G and R had volunteered to take the boys out to the museums. So met them at South Ken station. H and I hung out with them at the Natural History Museum for awhile, and then lunch at the pub before splitting.
Some Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum



Whilst H and I went shopping (not that we bought alot), G and R took the boys to the Science Museum. and then to the park. When I texted her later inquiring on their whereabouts, this was her reply "At the Thames, drowing your boys". I'm sure the boys must have somewhat drove them up the wall. Hahhaha. Anyway, we met them at the park again before heading off to dinner at Khans....where we met with my old friend D and his wife.

Monday, 28th - Decided to take the boys to Trafalgar Square for a look-see since they like to terrorize the pigeons so much. But to my surprise, the square is all cleaned up. You don't see big flocks like years ago.

Trafalgar Square

Also attempted to go to the Central Perk Cafe again. It is a 'pop-up' cafe to commemerate the 15th Anniversary of FRIENDS. It is only opened for two weeks, and is located near Carnaby Street. H took the boys there on Saturday, but the queue was too long. Thus didn't go in. So figured as this is a Monday, we might get a chance on entering. But no such luck. Queue was still way too long.

Central Perk


We went to Harrods for tea...which was really yummy. But expensive lor. Took boys to have a look at the pets department. Then the topic of US having a pet came up again. H wants one. But I seriously don't fancy a dog IN the house. Hair on my carpets. On my Sofa. And me being the cleaner running after the dog. Noooooooo Way! The pet accessories at Harrods are even nicer than people things...and even more expensive. I saw some dog cookies that cost more than the ones selling in the foodhall downstairs ok! Some people have too much money!

Anyway, we met D for drinks again in the afternoon, and chatted till about 7 pm! Boys were glued to their online games over at Whiteleys so was not complaining. In fact, they wanted to stay longer.

We only checked out of our apartment at 9 PM....paid an additional half-day so that we could at least have a shower before our flight out of Stansted at 1.30 AM on Tuesday, 29th.

Six nights in London was definitely enough. I seriously don't know what else to do in London if we were staying more days. In the morning, H and I were asking each other "where to go ah??". If we took trips outside of london, then perhaps more days needed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Four Nights in Rome

We arrived in Rome Ciampino at 9-ish am on Friday, 18th September 2009. We had a pre-booked limo from here. I would recommend them. We paid EUR 44 for a Mercedes E220 from Ciampino to the city center, which is cheaper than many other company's saloon (charges from EUR 60). It's only slightly more expensive than taking the buses/metro combo. Plus soooooo much more convenient. No need to LUG your luggage around....especially when you have loads and travelling with kids. We could load 2 large suitcases and 3 trolley hand-luggage in the boot of the car. 

We stayed in an apartment near the Colosseum (about 700 m) which was pretty convenient...especially the washer/dryer. Yes. I did washing!  There were restaurants and supermarket nearby for our meals. Yes. We cooked. Metro station about 500 m away if we wanna go further afield. Apparently, this area is NOT very desirable....Only found that out after we came back. But we all thought the area looked pretty decent. Didn't see any vagrants nor beggars....but lots of nuns though. Maybe that's why we could get a 2-bedroom apartment for EUR 110 a night? 

The weather in Rome was HOT. Hot as in T-shirts and shorts-type. H did give me a heads-up on the weather. Whilst I did pack T-shirts and shorts for the boys, I didn't do the same for myself. I thought I could tolerate the heat in my jeans and short-sleeved tops. Boy! Was I wrong. Soooooo hot. 

First place we visited was of course Colosseum....since it is so near. H and S2 actually went there 3 times! Once was to get the NIGHT view. But we only went INSIDE once. We bought Roma Passes (EUR 23 each. No discounts for kids) for all four of us. It allows FREE visit to the first two museums/archaeological site, discounts for subsequent sites and 3 days of transport within Rome. 

As the entry tickets to Colosseum is one of the most expensive, we used our Roma Passes here. The key advantage of having the pass is NOT having to queue at the normal ticket queue. We could just breeze past the loooooooooooooong line, swipe our passes and through the turnstiles. Speaking of queues, I HIGHLY recommend buying your Vatican Museum tickets ONLINE. The queues to enter the Vatican Museum is really really really crazily long. No joke. Thank goodness that we did buy our tickets online. It's a little bit more expensive but certainly worth it. When we were there, the queue to enter was literally snaking round the walls towards the entrance to St. Peters. It IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. That day, it was also drizzling. So can you imagine if you have to queue in the rain? Again, we bypassed the queue to a separate line into the Vatican Museums. I'm sure it would be at least TWO hours if we were to join the regular queue!!!

Anyway, here are some photos...

Colosseum

Our Shadows on the cobblestones by The Colosseum
(Nice? I am of course the one with the BIG handbag)

The Hole on the Roof of the Pantheon at Piazza Rotunda

Trevi Fountain @ Night

As you know, Angels & Demons (the movie) was just released NOT too long ago. Naturally, I wanted to go round to the places featured in the movie. Think we covered most of the sites except the Santa Maria Vittoria.  We did go to Piazza del Popolo...but didn't go into the Santa Maria del Popolo church to view the Chigi Chapel. The boys were all kinda restless by then...including the BIG boy, and was like going "Hurry UP lah!".  Even when we went to Piazza Navona,  H was like "Hurry Up. Nothing to see here!"Aduh!
We did manage to cover most key attractions in Rome including the Palatine Hill, Foro Romano, Spanish Steps, the "Wedding Cake" and those you see here. 


St. Peter's Square and Basilica

We did go down to the grottos where the popes were buried. Though I am not a Christian, somehow when we were standing in front of Pope John Paul II's crypt, with the very sad touching music, I started to tear. Anyway, we were at the Vatican City on a Sunday. Initially, we wanted to wait for the current Pope to come out and bless the people. But found out that he doesn't really "come out" and it's all done via video camera and giant screens. Thus, decided not to wait and give it a miss. When I was last in the Vatican City with H (many many years ago), Pope John Paul II did come out and blessed the crowd at the square. You could see him at the window...tiny but at least in real flesh. 

We headed out to Castel Sant Angelo. We used our Roma Passes here again. As this is not that popular, there weren't separate queues. Queues weren't long when we went. 

Castel Sant Angelo

The view at the top of the Castel is pretty good. Can see quite far afield. There's a bar/restaurant with great views. Naturally, we sat and had drinks. The boys had a field day here. Whilst H and I were enjoying our Frascati, the boys were doing their own exploring.... so much so that they became our "guides" to show us the frescos. They even guided an old English Couple up to the Fresco rooms when they couldn't find their way. 

We went to the Vatican Museums on Monday, 21st. And eventhough it was a Monday, queues were looooooooooooooong. With H, he was just interested to go and see ONE particular painting in the Sistene Chapel. So once we entered, we were like chasing train to reach the Sistene Chapel. Think we were like a tornado whirring through the halls of the Vatican Museum..... whizzing past the Rafael rooms even! We weren't allowed to take photographs in the Sistene Chapel....think the flash might spoil the frescos?
We really spent very little time in the Vatican Museum. I told H that if I had queued like everybody else, I would INSIST that we stay inside the Museum for at least 5 hours. Don't care whether I am admiring the masterpieces or sleeping in there.

Beautiful Ceilings in The Vatican Museum

Spiral Staircase at the Vatican Museum

H bought a book at the museum library that illustrates and explains the paintings in the Sistene Chapel. Only when we got home, he started reading it and then remarked "Aiya. Miss this one. Miss that one. Aiya....". Aiya here. Aiya there. Also too late liow...

Four nights is indeed enough for us. Again, we took a limo from the same company to the airport for our flight back to London. Will write about London in a separate post.