December 31, 2009

Another decade down

It's that time of the year again - 31st December. The final day and hours of 2009. Can you believe it? I don't know about you but I have this odd sense of obligation to write a last entry in my blog even though I really have nothing to talk about. At this time of the year, most people would probably sit back and reflect on the year thinking about their stand-out moments. I've done that a few weeks ago so I can't do another reflection. I guess I'll just make this short and sweet by wishing everyone a very peaceful, safe and wonderful new year. To family, friends and fellow bloggers who visit my site, thank you for being a part this blog. It's been a year since my first post and I look forward to sharing more wacky and not-so wacky moments with you. Once again, Happy New Year.  

December 29, 2009

Survival Kits for 2010

I purchased these a few days ago. The pink organizer is meant to help me organize my life in 2010 by showing me stuff I need to do, deadlines to meet and papers to submit. Basically what a normal organizer or PDA would do. You all know that right? Okay spare me the 'duh' look. Anyway, the zodiac bible is crucial too because it tells me how capable I am in doing all the stuff listed in the organizer. Zodiac books are meant to do that. They help us understand our personality and they highlight our strengths, positive attributes and specialties.  Well, even though I don't take in everything the book says, it's fun to read and it can be a good source of motivation. Reading something like this every morning will definitely perk up my day:

You have an incredible power of insight, which you use socially, professionally and ultimately spiritually to obtain higher gifts of nature....You're are determined in life and forceful.....You are able to bewitch people...bla bla bla

You heard that? I mean, you read that? I am able to bewitch people! Who would've thought I had such power! Point is, self-motivation. That's all. Now I'm all geared up for 2010. Bring it on.

What needs to be done in 2010

Every year in December, I proclaim my New Year's Resolution for the upcoming year. Last year my New Year's Resolution was to start a blog that I worked on regularly, read more good books and eat more healthily. In addition to that, I also made a dozen of other resolutions which I've forgotten and failed to fulfill. This year, I think I'll do myself a favour and stick to the basic, achievable ones. Here's my top 16 resolutions for 2010.

1. Write at least 1 entry per week in my blog.
2. Write for at least 1 hour everyday, without fail (for my thesis).
3. Lose at least 4.5 kilograms. (The 500gm here makes it more achievable compared to losing 5kg cos 5kg = a small sack of rice)
4. Start using my U-Zap to help speed up no 3.
5. Read at least 1 non-fiction, good book in a month.
6. Reduce time spent on FB.
7. Not to indulge in retail therapy when feeling moody (maybe this one's not so practical).
8. Exercise at least once a week to achieve no 3 (not enough, I know).
9. Be consistent in using all my skincare products, day and night, everyday even when I feel worn out and crappy.
10. Travel to Dunedin, Queenstown and Kaikoura.
11. Reply mails promptly.
12. No more speeding tickets or other traffic offenses.
13. Learn at least 3 new recipes.
14. Eat less chocolate/potato chips/McD/boisenberry-flavoured ice cream and deep fried food
15. Try not to procrastinate. Do stuff on the spot.
16. Laugh more and not sweat over the small stuff.

I guess that's about it. My 16 Resolutions. Now I'm going to print this list and stick it on my fridge. What's your resolution?

December 24, 2009

Here comes Christmas

It is Christmas. The day that brings out the best in so many people - young and old. This year, I've learned a lot about the meaning of Christmas, from my brief experience as a Cathedral volunteer as well as from a good blog post written by a dear friend. Initially, I wanted to blog about how I spent my day running errands, walking through shopping malls in pursuit of the perfect gift for hubby.  I changed my mind after watching the rerun of Nine Lessons and Carols on TVONE.

The Bishop's message was to forget about gifts, presents and material stuff on Christmas day. Instead, focus on  the true meaning of Christmas - God's gift. She's right. I think it’s a really good idea to stop and think about what is really important to us about the holiday season.

A wonderful post from my friend CL reminds me to be grateful for all the blessings I have received and to pray for those who are less fortunate.

For those of us who are happy this Christmas, let us take time to say a prayer for those of us who are hurting and sad. For those who aren't that happy, may your faith increase as you focus on God. - CL

Now there’s something worth musing as we celebrate this special day with family and friends. Merry Christmas everyone.

December 23, 2009

Nine Lessons and Carols

About 3 weeks ago, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral requested that I do a reading for a service entitled The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols scheduled on December 20th. I was quite reluctant at first because no 1, I had never done any sort of reading in church before and no 2, I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself in front of 500 people. I tried to come up with some lame excuses, telling the Dean how inadequate I was in matters such as this but he was very very persistent. In the end, I find myself muttering a weak "yes" to the Dean and saying mati lah to myself.

So three weeks passed and Sunday came. A rainy and cloudy Sunday by the way. When we got to the Cathedral we realized that there wasn't any parking space left. Since I didn't want to be late, I went in with Alva and let hubby find a parking space in the drizzling rain. The administrator walked me to my seat (second front row) and assured me that a verger will guide hubby when he arrives. So I sat and waited, but still no sign of hubby. At exactly 8.30 pm, the Dean of the Cathedral started off the ceremony by welcoming everyone to the festival and the message he highlighted was to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Finally, he told everyone that the service will be broadcast on TVONE on Christmas Eve. Excuse me, WHAT? I blinked in disbelief when he said this because I suddenly realized the magnitude of this whole reading thingy. GOSH! No wonder everyone's looking so posh and elegant! We were going to be on TV and I didn't even get my hair done!

I was still in a dumbstruck state when we were asked to stand for the Processional Carol. At this point, the Christchurch Cathedral verger, administrator and choir made their way to the altar area (don't know the proper term for this) together with the Dean of the Cathedral and Bishop Victoria Matthews. Once the Bishop, the Dean and another person whose title I have no knowledge of, were seated, everyone else sat down. Then, the cathedral choir started its first song entitled Adam Lay Y'Bouden. The moment they sang everyone was mesmerized because they were really really really good. It gave everyone the wow effect as they sounded so melodious and harmonious. Like those choir you see in the old movies ba. Haiya, don't know how to explain. Anyway, I later found out that this elite choir group is the only professional choir of boys and men in New Zealand and for this special festival, they sang in English, Latin, Spanish and Huronian (the language of the Iroquois Indians of North America and Canada which became extinct in the last century). They are WOW. No other words to decribe them really.

Back to the Nine Lessons and Carols. So I was reader 6 for Lesson 6 and you can imagine my anxiety as my turn was drawing to a near. I had three things to worry about.  1. The reading- what if I mispronounce a mouthful of words? 2. The journey to the lectern-what if I slip and fall flat on my face? 3. How about Alva? Hubby is still MIA! So these thoughts were playing in my head when the choir was singing Angelus ad Virginem in Latin.   I couldn't enjoy the singing at this moment because well, you know why. Once they finished singing, my fate was sealed. I tried to remain calm and tell myself to get into the Que Sera Sera Mode. Whatever will be will be lah.

I panicked. When it was my turn, I stood up, took Alva with me and fled!


When it was my turn, the lady behind me (probably read my mind) offered to hold Alva. Phew! I took my crumpled paper and waited for the verger to lead me to the lectern. There was a dead silence. The journey to the lectern itself felt like a mile. When I was finally up there, I had to take a few seconds to compose myself. After 4 seconds, I read:

Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

I did it! The moment I finished, Alva started crying and everyone started looking at her. Some were smiling and some were not. I quickly walked to my seat and took her from that kind lady behind me. When the choir resumed, I felt so light and relieved. I did it! I did it! There was no slip, no fainting no falling. No tragedy. Hehe. After the ninth lesson, the festival ended with a joyful Christmas song that lit up everyone's mood.

And hubby? Where was hubby during all this drama? Well, apparently he was sitting at the back watching the whole show. He was having a hard time getting Alden to behave so the warden insisted that they sit at the back to avoid causing a commotion. Well, everything worked out anyway so it was not as disastrous as I thought it would be. Praise the Lord!

December 16, 2009

Oops I did It Again!

Back at home, in a beautiful city called Kota Kinabalu, speed limits are mostly 50 km/h in residential areas and 100 km/h on the highways. Speed traps, either in the form of a camera or a radar device, are quite rare. This explains why I have never ever gotten a speeding ticket.

I’m not saying that I have never violated any traffic rules. In fact, I’ve committed a few traffic violations like parking on the kerb at Wisma Sabah (RM50 fine), not wearing seat belts (policeman let me off), parking in a no parking zone (RM80 fine), talking on the phone (got away - another nice policeman!) and double parking (which most people do). Point is, you can get away with lots of traffic offenses in KK.

I haven't been so lucky in Christchurch. During my time here, I've had a few close encounters with the officials. Let's see, I've gotten one infringement notice for parking in towing zone (totally a misunderstanding), a $150 fine for Disabled Parking violation (it was an emergency), another infringement notice for reasons I can't remember and oh, on one occasion, I had my car clamped for parking on grass. That clamping episode was such an experience! Anyway, in total, I have perpetrated 4 traffic violations in CC, not counting the 4 parking tickets issued by the Uni's traffic patrol.

You know where this is going right?

Yesterday's speeding ticket broke that record and now it has amounted to five. The incident occurred at 11.25 a.m when I was driving to the city along Riccarton Avenue. Since I was already late for an appointment, I stepped on the accelerator, a bit harder than I realized. The posted speed limit said 50km/h which I was..ahem, unaware of. As fate would have it, a traffic patrol caught me pushing 67 km/h when I should have been creeping under 50 km. I was asked to pull over and produce my driver's licence on the spot.  I tried to get away by saying "I wasn't aware of the speed limit...", smiling pitifully, hoping he'd have the decency to let it slip. But there was no response. "I'll make this quick" he finally said, as if giving me a life sentence. He wrote my name and address on paper and issued me a whopping $120 fine. I gulped.

So that's how I got a $120 fine: speeding at a pathetic 67km/h.

Trying hard to ignore the icky feeling of being fined, I proceeded to the Cathedral square for my appointment. When I went to the reception, the clerk told me the Manager had asked me to wait for another 40 minutes. She was occupied with something else. Now why didn't she text me and save me all this trouble? I was livid. I refused to wait because I had just spent $120 to get to the Cathedral to to make it on time to see her. For goodness sake, I had a baby with me, doesn't that count for something?

I left, annoyed and upset. I knew my day was ruined unless I get some kind of therapy. There was only one thing to do.

Retail therapy at the mall!

    my favourite shop

A two-hour session was all I needed to feel good again. After all, who can resist a good Christmas Sale? The jewellery was on BUY 1 FREE 1 and the off-season clothes were on 75% discounts!! I licked my wound and bought a few things. I was very well-behaved you see. I only bought one cocktail dress, a bag which was the only one left and a pair of earrings.

I guess yesterday wasn't all that bad :)

December 15, 2009

On Being Thankful

I came across this list as I was searching for research materials. You might have read it before, but if you haven't..well, it's worth a minute of your time. It reminds us to be grateful for what we have.
                 I am thankful for...
  • The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
  • The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
  • The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
  • My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
  • A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
  • All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
  • My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
  • The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
  • The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
  • Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
  • The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.
  • Getting too much email bogs me down but at least I know I have friends who are thinking of me.                       
(Author Unknown)  


How about you? What are you thankful for? :)



December 13, 2009

Much Ado About Laundry

It amazes me how we produce so much dirty laundry in a week. Ten hours ago, I did 3 loads of laundry at Figlo Laundromat and I had to use 3 washers to accommodate 5 bags of clothes. As I pushed the start button on machine no 3, I realized how much laundry my family and I actually go through in a week.
This laundry thing never really bothered me until our washing machine decided to bonkers a few days ago. The nerve of that evil machine! From the first day we bought it off Trade Me, it has been nothing but trouble. Sure, it's a second hand but the seller said it was mechanically sound. What a rip off!

On first impression, the BOSCH seemed like a very good machine; shiny and neat, no scratches or marks.  Our biggest mistake was not testing the washer on site. It's not that we didn't want to. The thing is, she had already put it out at the front porch when we arrived and in doing so, made it impossible for us to do any testing. The darn machine is extremely heavy and it is really troublesome to move, so there was no way we could connect it to a socket. Against better judgment, we decided to trust her.  

The seller, a  UC student by the name of SOL HEBER  told us that the washer vibrates during the  spin cycle and that it was nothing to be worried about. That was the only flaw she highlighted and she said this in a  very nonchalant way so we didn't expect anything severe. She  never once mentioned about the washing machine's extraordinary abilities.

Now where should I start? Oh, have you seen Transformers? Well, like those robots, my washing machine transforms and comes to life whenever it goes  into spin cycle. It gyrates like a horse riding machine and you can practically sit on it to experience bronc riding in a rodeo. That's not all. The massive shakes can be felt throughout the house and one can really experience an earthquake for five minutes.  If that's not enough, we also also have to put up with the annoying loud noise, which resembles the sound of an airplane taking off. I am not exaggerating. It's the loudest washing machine I have ever encountered.
But that is all over now. The washer has stopped working about a month ago and since then Sunday has officially become my laundry day at laundromat. Sad sad sad.

Now all I want for Christmas is a washing machine. One that works.

December 8, 2009

TOP 10 LIST-2009

December 8 and still no news from the Academic Manager. Is he playing hide and seek ? Beats me. I’m tired of waiting so I’ll just get on with Plan XYZ. A contingency plan as my supervisor calls it. Don’t know what’s instore for me though. I’m totally counting on him to get past this hurdle. So that’s the plan - executing Plan XYZ. Case closed.

Moving on to greener pastures of thoughts…DECEMBER. A month of celebration for everybody. And like every year, the time to look back and reflect has come. What have I done? Achieved? Discovered? Fulfilled? Failed to do? Regretted not doing? These are questions that haunt me as the year closes. Well, if I were to write  down all the answers to these questions, I could write a book. And if I were graphic and honest enough to reveal all the dirt, it could even be a best seller (this is where you stick out your tongue and throw up, hehehe). So. I'll just make this short and sweet.

Here’s a list of random things in my life that stood out in 2009 - THE TOP 10 LIST

Most annoying/ shocked/depressing/terrifying/ akward moments of 2009

1. Getting a really bad haircut when a Korean hairdresser misunderstood what I said.

2. Getting an infringement notice for parking in a prohibited area. (Sis, please stop shaking your head).

3. Taking Alden to the oral health clinic for his dental surgery and seeing him ‘sleep’ under general anesthesia.

4. Freaking out when Alden had a frebrile convulsion, calling 111, waiting for the ambulance and rushing to the ER.

5. Sending my family to the airport (in July) and crying buckets of tears afterwards.

6. Reading my sister’s text message, saying that dad fell down and his tulang patah.

7. Presenting in my first departmental seminar.

8. Having my sneakers stolen when I was picking up Alden from school. Took them off and left them at the reception and they miraculously disappeared in 5 minutes.

9. Looking at my pay slip for the first time since I started studying and getting a brain freeze afterwards (all allowances were cut off).

10. Missing a $14 million lottery win by one number. (One of the 6 numbers I dreamt didn’t appear in the results and until today hubby is still sore).

Most pleasant/ fulfilling/ exciting/memorable moments of 2009

1. Knowing that I was having a girl and spreading the news to everyone I knew.

2. Getting the Booking Confirmation from Airasia for my balik kg trip next year (after spending almost half a day on the net).

3. Hugging my mom and sister when they arrived in Christchurch.

4. Being able to fit into my favourite jeans again.

5. Getting an A-ok for my research proposal.

6. Being asked to produce a valid ID when I was buying a bottle of wine for Alva’s ‘proxy’ godmother. The legal minimum age for purchasing alcohol in NZ : 18 years old.

7. Told hubby about the above incident the first chance I got and gloat about it. (I mean seriously, that’s such an ego-booster for a mother of 2 like me).

8. Seeing and stealing my first cherry blossoms.

9. Having hubby by my side during delivery and smiling at each other when we saw Alva for the first time.

10. Winning Lotto Division 3 ($1500.00) after seeing the winning numbers in my dream. It could’ve been $14 million but still, it felt really good to win.

There you have it. The good and the bad. 2009 has been a challenging year for me but anyway, nobody gets away with a life full of pleasure with no problems or pain right?

How about you? What’s your reflection?

December 6, 2009

Feeling the Spirit

I signed up to volunteer once a week at Christchurch Cathedral about a month ago. The time is flexible and we get to choose the day and hours we like, so this fits me perfectly. My chosen time is Saturday morning and yesterday was my second shift.

Having had a crappy mood the day before, I was looking forward to the volunteering job to ease my mind off my studies. As a Cathedral guardian, my job is to greet visitors with a friendly face, offer help when needed, answer questions about the Cathedral and talk to visitors about giving donation to the Cathedral in a positive way. They all sound fairly easy but they're really not.
I particularly do not like the asking for donation part because some visitors are just there to take pictures and hate being pestered. Being new, I am normally teamed up with 2 other experienced volunteers who have mastered the art of asking donations so for the time being I am safe from this task. Hehe.

The Cathedral is a very prominent landmark in Christchurch. It is located right at the centre of Christchurch because the city was established as an Anglican settlement and its leaders wanted to have a Cathedral at its heart.Over 700 000 people come here each year to worship and see this beautiful church. The view inside is breathtaking and you can understand why some people come here everyday just to sit and relax for a few hours.

We did not have a big crowd yesterday so I took the opportunity to explore the Cathedral and take some pictures. This is the Votive Candle Stand. It's a very attractive spot in the Cathedral and people from all over the world come here to pray and light up candles for their loved ones. I  myself lit 5 candles for my family, friends and my studies - the 2 miserable hours remember?

The Votive Candle Stand

After lighting candle number 5, it was very tempting to light more and more candles on the stand's just fun okay? I managed to restrain the silly urge and stopped myself from playing candles on my second day as a volunteer. Phew! Good thing I did because when I turned back, I realized that  Quintin, the head volunteer  was observing me. Yikes! Terus I pura pura cleaned the candle stand and scurried to the entrance to welcome a granny.

After awhile, more visitors came in and things started to get busy. Quite a number of people wanted to go up the tower so I was quite occupied, ushering visitors to the special door leading to the tower climb. One needs to climb 134 steps to get to the viewing platforms that give panoramic views of the city. This is certainly a must-do activity if you're visiting the Cathedral.

Towards the end of my shift, I started feeling hungry and well...a little bit bored too (bad of me, I know). Lucky for me the Cathedral's choir made up of 15 girls from the age of 6 to 15 had a practice that day. They were preparing for the Sunday service as well as a special Christmas service on the 25th. I sat in the back of the Nave and waited for them to sing the first song. When they did, I had goosebumps all over my body. I think my jaw dropped a few inches and I noticed that conversations among visitors came to a shuddering halt. They are that good. Mesmerized, I quickly moved from the Nave at the back to the front seats so I could really enjoy the Christmas carols. They sang like angels and they were brilliant.

My shift ended at 12.00 noon and as I walked out from the Cathedral, I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Maybe it's the Christmas spirit or maybe it's just the happy feeling of knowing I was having Hainan chicken rice for lunch but whatever it was, it made me feel good. I went home happy and high-spirited, all crappiness disappeared!

December 4, 2009

Janji Kaling

I’m in my office right now. I tell myself it’s really not a good idea to start blogging but I can’t help it. At the moment, it’s very therapeutic to just see words pop up on the spreedsheet as I type. Gives me a sense of satisfaction you know, doing just that. Weird? I guess.

Therapy is needed when you feel like you’re in the brink of madness or when you’re deeply affected by something. My reason is the latter. My research is now in a stationary state, held back by something. Same ol same ol pathetic plot. But seriously, it is hanging by a thread. Why? Because I can’t get access to my subjects. Why? Because the Academic Coordinator hasn’t cleared the logistics. Why? Because he’s too busy. Why? Because it’s almost the end of the semester now. So nothing is within my control, which is why it sucks so much.

I called the fella last Tuesday. Caught him by surprise because we usually communicate via email. He was so apologetic for not getting back to me and promised to email the next day. Quote
I’ll try talking to the tutors again and I promise you an email by 5pm today. 
At 5pm, there was no email. Not on Tuesday, or Wednesday or Thursday. Janji kaling butul butul.

So this morning I sent him another poilte email, asking for his response. My message was clear:

Look dude, I know you guys are busy with Christmas coming and all but I really need to do this study. I won’t take much of the students’ time. Just two hours. See, I’ve even reduced it to TWO hours. Not SIX long hours. So dude, what do you say? Pleeeeeeeeeease….Pleeeeeeease…..

I didn’t write that of course. The formal version was much more refined and erm…impersonal.

Then after a few hours, I got a reply! Finally!

I clicked on the INBOX and read

Out of Office AutoReply: Research

Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office. I will be back in the office on 7th December and will attend to your email then. If you require more urgent assistance please direct your email to XXXXXXX

Kind regards

I got an Autoreply. Bad omen. He has never ever sent me an autoreply before. I mean previously I’ve been sending him lots of mails but no matter how busy he was there was never an autoreply. So what does this mean? It’s obvious. He’s trying to get rid of me. To him I’m probably like this annoying hand phone salesman who never gives up until he gets to sell a Nokia. The type that wouldn’t stop. You know what I mean? He’s probably right. I will not stop pestering him until I get my two hours. Why can’t he just give me the two miserable hours???

So. Once again, I am stuck. And frustrated. But now that I’ve written about this, I feel a little bit better.

I guess things will have to wait until 7th December . Till then I think I’ll spend more therapeutic moments on the spreadsheet.

November 30, 2009

Let there be light in the darkness of thesis writing

If I could map out my enthusiasm for my research in a line graph it would probably look like this:

Figure X: Enthusiasm Count for  Thesis Writing

As shown in Figure X above, there was a drastic plunge in May, June, July and at the moment of speaking, in November. This lack of enthusiasm was entirely my fault, being mood-driven and all. I was  uninspired, my work got sloppy and as days went by, I became more and more demotivated.

Suddenly, the unexpected happened; I saw a flashlight in the middle of the tunnel! How did this happen?

You see, a very inspiring session during the recent NZ Postgraduate Conference somehow knocked some sense into me. It gave me a mild concussion but I really needed the wakeup call. I'm still in the tunnel, where everything's dark and unknown but at least now I have a flashlight to guide me through my journey.

The session was facilitated by two presenters who developed a programme to help PhD students succeed in their studies. From this project, they pooled together some valuable tips on how to be a sucessful thesis student. I don't think I can or am legally allowed to relay everything that was presented in the session, so I will just highlight the crucial ones. My version is of course simpler and less refined compared to the authors'.

Here goes...

Most thesis students suffer from two types of diseases:

- the belief that reading one more article will solve your research problems (Social Science student)

- The belief that doing one more experiment will solve all your research problems (Science student)

The moral of the story: You'll never get things done if you have these beliefs.

Myth 1
"I'll get it all clear in my head first and then write it down"
According to the presenters, this is so WRONG because
  • writing is not recording
  • writing is a creative process
  • writing clarifies your thinking
Myth 2
"I'll write when I feel ready and I'm not ready yet" (This is so me)
  • You may never feel ready
  • You have to write before you feel ready
  • That means now!
Just Do It
  • Write early and often
  • Bingeing vs. Snacking (Writing once in a blue moon vs. writing regularly - a research done has shown that academic staff who wrote 30 minutes everyday produced more journals than those who wrote occasionally)
  • Practice the golden hour - write for 2 hours everyday preferably in the morning (our brain is more alert in the morning, it is less used and not distracted by mental chores. Once we read emails, take calls and do stuff, we'll have more difficulty concentrating)
  • Assume position (Sit down in front of your pc)
  • Stay in position and nail your feet to the floor (Don't go anywhere for 2 hours - be disciplined)
  • Call supervisors and not wait to be called
  • Regular feedback will speed things up
  • Ask for specific feedback
  • Don't take comments personally
Last but not least, be REALISTIC - It's just a thesis, not a Nobel Prize

Notes taken during Hugh Kearns & Maria Gardiner's presentation entitled Some Secrets from Highly Sucessful Thesis Students at the 2009 NZPGC.

There you have it. The Dos and Don'ts. By applying these tips, struggling students like me can (hopefully) steer off from becoming another statistics in the failure category. Hope this helps :)


A Weekend in Windy Wellington

The yuckiest thing about coming home from a holiday is facing the inevitable, post-holiday mood. Don’t you just hate going back to work after a blissful week of fun? Yeah, I thought so. Well, as the world accelerates back into real time, I have to slowly bring myself back to reality and start working on my thesis.

But before I drift into the dreariness of academic writing, I thought I’d share with you a glimpse of my holiday in Wellington.

It was my first time to Wellington and I was there for the NZ Postgraduate conference held at Victoria University (will talk about the conference in another post). Since hubby and I had never been to any parts of the North Island before, we decided to turn this conference trip into a weekend-holiday escapade. A very brief one but satisfying nonetheless.

A bit about Wellington. It is the capital city of New Zealand and the second largest city in the country with a population of 423,765. Located between a beautiful harbour and rolling green hills, the city has a scenic view of the waterfront and the famous Mt. Victoria.

I was blown away when we first arrived in Wellington. It is nothing like Christchurch. Christchurch is beautiful but it is just that. Beautiful and boring and completely flat. Wellington is vibrant and exciting and hilly. The complete opposite of Christchurch.

We didn’t get to do much on the first day because I was more focused on my presentation. So all we did was stroll along Lambton Quay, where our hotel was located and take in the beautiful architecture of the cosmopolitan city. The fabulous boutiques, the busy streets and the lovely fashionistas sipping Lattes at baristas gave a Sex and the City vibe to Wellington. Hehe. I loved it. I’ve never been to New York but it sure felt good to imagine I was there.

The next day was presentation day. Two words. Nerve-wrecking.

Moving on…

With a 3 year old and a baby in tow, we didn’t want to be ambitious in this trip so we decided to do unadventurous activities instead. The next day we paid a visit to the Wellington Zoo. I wasn’t entirely excited about the visit because let’s face it, it’s a zoo, not a shopping mall.

Anyway, I was hoping the wild animals like Giraffes, Chimpanzees and Kangaroos would create a sparkle in Alden’s eye you know. I had this picture of Alden getting excited as he sees a real lion roar, shouting “mama, mama! Lion! Lion!”. But none of that happened. He was happy, yes, but there was no adrenaline rush. At certain times during our visit, I could see that hubby was more excited than the little one. Not surprising at all.

When it was time to go home, Alden didn’t want to get out of the rented stroller so I said

“We are going for a BUS ride”

His eyes sparkled as he got out from the pusher in less than a second. We took a Go-Wellington Bus back to the  hotel and it only cost $6.00. The bus trip was indeed the climax of Alden's day.

That night, we had dinner at Istana Malaysia, a Malaysian restaurant located at Courtenay Place somewhere along Allen Street. The restaurant has a really nice Malaysian atmosphere so you can’t help but feel relaxed. I ordered nasi lemak with rendang, hubby ordered Rice with lamb curry and soto ayam for alden. The verdict? Simply marvelous. It’s been awhile since we had authentic Malaysian cuisine and that night we really had a scrumptious meal.

On the last day, we visited the innovative and interactive Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. If you are interested in arts and culture then you can spend a few hours or the whole day exploring Te Papa. The museum is unlike most museums I’ve seen. It is modern and interactive, with an array of national art collections and world class exhibitions. Personally, I feel it’s too unconventional for my taste because it looks more like a planetarium to me. Having said that, I must say they do a very good job attracting the public to the museum as it is reported that an average of 1.3 million people visit the museum every year.

If we had more time, we would've expanded our journey to the outskirts of Wellington and perhaps visit a nice vineyard in the countryside. *SIGH* Well I'm sure we'll get to do more stuff the next time we visit. So that was it, our wonderful weekend in windy Wellington.

November 16, 2009

Spring fever is over, summer's here

Spring fever is over, summer’s here,
Can’t believe it has been a year,
What have I done for two semesters?
Nothing much, Oh dear! Oh dear!

Spring fever is over, summer’s here,
Deadlines draw near, but I don’t bother,
Tis’ a syndrome faced by many writers,
PROCRASTINATE – does that sound familiar?

Spring fever is over, summer’s here,
It’s time to switch gears, no time to ponder,
Do it now, instead of later,
It sounds clich├ęd but I need a closer;

Goodbye spring, welcome summer,
Everything should be better and brighter,
Create in your mind a print of the future,
What’s foggy will be clear, your doubts disappear.

November 9, 2009

A Day at the Park

With summer fast approaching, people are starting to gear up for outdoor activities like swimming, BBQ, gardening and hiking. Spring is still here but the temperatures are getting warmer now and once in awhile, it gets unbearably  hot, it almost feels like I'm in Kota Kinabalu Sabah. Hehe. In the spirit of celebrating the end of spring, we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for an outing at the Ferrymead Heritage Park.

Ferrymead park is an ideal place for a family outing especially if you have  a Thomas & Friends enthusiast  like Alden in your brood. The park’s biggest attractions are the unique tram and train rides offered to visitors. I personally think it is a must to visit on a Steam Sunday because that's when all the steam engines make a rare appearance and visitors can have as many rides as they want . Steam Sundays are held on the first Sunday of March to November and every Sunday in December, January and February.

The park presents an early 1900 Moorhouse township that goes way back to the Colonial times. Everything is so well-preserved and the town really has cowboy-feel to it  you know. Older visitors will definitely enjoy viewing the major heritage collections of transport and technology in the museum area. Apart from exciting train rides, the park also offers lots of exciting activities such as horse rides, riding the 2Ft Railway and sightseeing.

Alden got a bit hysterical when he first saw the steam train. He shouted  James! James! James!” (as in James no 5 in Thomas and Friends) and cheered in glee as a red steam engine passed us by. I had never seen him that happy. Like a monkey possessed, he was jumping up and down, shouting “TUT-TUT! TUT-TUT!” excitedly. Can you picture that?

We had a considerable number of train rides at the park and after an hour Alden got really tired. Towards the end of our tour, all his enthusiasm had dwindled down and he could barely keep his eyes open. There was even a drunken swagger to his walk, making him fall every now and then. We wanted to call it a day, but Alden still hadn’t had enough. ENERGIZER kan. So okay, we put up with him and continued our tour to the Fire Museum.

I didn't expect we'd end up spending a good three hours at the park. By the time we left, it was already 3.00 pm and we were all famished. Alden was cranky, Alva was restless and  I suddenly had this awful headache. But none of that mattered. We had a fantastic time that day :)

November 3, 2009

My green-eyed toddler

If I had done some research on How to prepare your toddler for a new baby, I would've discovered some useful tips on preventing Alden from being jealous of Alva. I did everything wrong the moment Alva was born, not knowing  these tips:
  • Do not leave changes to your son's routine until the baby comes.  Do them asap so he doesn't think it's all the new baby's fault and harbour resentment. (Oops. 2 weeks before I delivered, we added Alden's Preschool sessions to accomodate my demanding pregnancy) 
  • Do borrow a baby for an hour or so close to delivery date (several times if possible) and send its mother/father away so you can sit with it just you, your son and talk about it to him. What it does, how it eats, that it's okay that it cries, that you're going to have one of these come live in your house soon, etc. (Are you kidding me? Borrow a baby from where? Video-EZY?)
  • Do not hold the baby the first time that the older child meets him/her so he doesn't feel deposed. (Guilty as charged. I was holding Alva when Alden came to visit me at the hospital)  
  • Do get a special present for the older baby - it's as if the newborn is bringing a special present for the older baby. (We got him a toy 4 days after he met the baby, so this doesn't count)
More tips can be retrieved from

Until today, Alden is still sore about having a little sister.  He used to be the center of attention  but with Alva in the picture, he feels that mummy's affection is now lavished on her instead. I know he is jealous of the time that Alva spends with me because whenever I hold her, he starts throwing tantrums. There is a lot of kicking, screaming, crying and whining and if I don't watch him he will throw stuff at her. It's so hard not to freak out when he does this and the sheer effort of controlling my anger is adding years to my face. When Alden starts making money, he better pay for my botox treatment. He owes me that much.

Last week his jealousy got the better of him and he started misbehaving at home; annoying me by covering Alva's face with diapers and putting his toys all over her body. This morning while I was washing my hair, the same thing happened. I had only spent 5 minutes in the shower when I heard Alva's desperate cry for help. I ran to the living room only to find her covered with T-shirts, dirty sneakers and a pillow. Tears were trailing down her cheeks, kesian kan? And Alden? He was hiding in the bedroom.

Behind all that mischievous exterior, I see a loving little boy, yearning for mommy's undivided attention. So the question is, how do I tell Alden that my preoccupation with her baby sister doesn’t mean he’s not every bit as important to me as he always was? Will he understand? Nah, I guess he won't. I think all I need to do is show him how much he matters to me, which means we are back to square one.

This story doesn't have a happy ending yet, but once it does, I'll keep you posted.


November 1, 2009

Overdued entry

Before this post-birthday entry becomes stale, I thought it's a good idea to publish it as promised.

What I did...
I had dinner with hubby and kids at this Vietnamese restaurant along Riccarton road. Since both hubby and I were hungry at that time, the food was rated "supremely delicious". We went out quite early so by the time we finished, we still had time to go for a stroll at a shopping mall down town. We spent about an hour at South City mall before heading home.

What made me happy...
This year, hubby gave me an 8 in 1 hair styler that comes with a matching case. I really love it! Something practical and useful you know. I had wanted a microdermabrasion kit I saw on TV  but that takes about 4 weeks to arrive so I had to settle for the styler instead. A microdermabrasion kit for my Christmas present maybe? :)

My new toy

My colleagues surprised me with these Irises
Being superstitious...
Last but not least, my birthday wish. Call me silly, but I have this ab-surd superstition about having a birthday wish and I view it as a very crucial part of the birthday ritual. I always believe that my wishes will more or less come true once I've blown the candles on my birthday cake. It's like believing in Santa. No such thing right? Well, that's my own superstition. How about you? Do you believe in this myth?

As always, I got a bit greedy and made more than 1 wish when I blew the candles.

I had a wonderful birthday. Thanks to all of you who showed you care :-)

October 29, 2009

A year wiser?

Today is my birthday. Unlike many birthdays I had in the past, this one has an aura of solemnity about it. I guess the reason is obvious. I am thousands of miles away from home and being nostalgic about my birthday is simply a normal reaction, don’t you think?

Having said that, I do not want to make this post a sappy one.

So I am going to reflect on my 31 years of existence and come up with the things that make me happy. I am too lazy to compose these thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs so I hope you’ll settle for this instead. 
What I am thankful for:
  • Having a very loving and supportive family. A bit dysfunctional at times but they made me who I am today.
  • Being married to a great guy who loves me very much.
  • Having 2 beautiful kids - a pair! What more can I ask for?
  • Having really great friends who genuinely care for me. Not plastic ones.
  • Owning this virtual garden and having you to read my ramblings every now and then.
Life doesn’t always go my way, but when that happens, I think about this list and my world will be fine again. Hmm...after that reflection, I feel more eager to go out with hubby and the kids tonight. Post-birthday post coming out tomorrow :)
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years -Abraham Lincoln



October 27, 2009

These boots are made for blogging

Like so many women, I am the type who gets adrenaline rush when the word SALE is thrown in my face. The simple four-letter word is so powerful; it can make me forget the entire world. I transform into this hypnotized creature whose mission in life is to get a good bargain, no matter what. I haven’t been out shopping for quite some time, so I have almost forgotten what it feels like to be well, high.

Yesterday, as I walked into Warehouse, I was struck by that same feeling of giddiness when I saw a pair of ankle-boots in the MID SEASON SALE bin. When I tried them on, I knew it was destiny that brought me to the boots. The only pair left and it was in my size! I held the boots like a treasured trophy and scurried to the cashier to swipe my EFTPOS card. The cash register closes *TING*, the lady handed me a shopping bag and suddenly, I was hit by the familiar feeling of euphoria. Pure bliss! The kind of bliss you get from getting a good bargain. The price? Only for $4.97 after an 85% discount.

I’ll let that sink in your head for a while :)

The price seems to justify my spending don’t you think? After all, a woman can never have too many pairs of gorgeous shoes.

*I'm planning to adopt one of these styles to go with the boots. Experiment!

Short Skirts and Ankle Boots
This look is definitely a little more difficult to pull off, because a lot of women don't like their legs. But it works well because instead of showing no leg, you're showing a lot of leg -- the real trouble comes in when you only show a little leg. Look for skirts that are a couple of inches above the knee or shorter and skip anything that's too full, lest your outfit start to like a figure skating costume.

The Best Pants for Ankle Boots
This one is nearly a no-brainer -- ankle boots work with any kind of pants. The advantage to wearing them over shoes or taller boots is that you get ankle coverage without the bulk of a knee-high boot. But -- and this is a big "but" -- the only pants that work well tucked into ankle boots are very tight ones. Wide-legged pants tucked into short boots create a very unflattering balloon effect.

Ankle Boots with Leggings or Tights
I mentioned before that cropped leggings don't work well with ankle boots. Long leggings or tights however, look great -- assuming of course, that leggings look good on you in the first place. If they don't, pairing them with ankle boots isn't going to make the situation any better.

Clothes to Avoid Wearing with Ankle Boots
• Cropped Pants
• Cropped Tights
• Mid-Length Skirts with Bare Legs
• Pencil Skirts
• Shorts
• Capris


October 24, 2009

Bedtime Story

When kiwi moms ask me what time Alden goes to bed, I always find myself in a dilemma - Should I give them a heart attack or just tell a white lie? More often than not, I'd do the latter. I'd smile weakly and squirmishly say "ermm....9-nish?" I have been telling white lies  about Alden's bedtime routine to avoid getting the accusative, "she's a BAD mother" look from people. You see, when I do tell the truth, I instantly become an alien mother from outer space. It's just incredibale how many terrified looks you can get when you tell people "Oh, my son goes to bed at 11.00 pm" Their response: eyes bulged out, jaw dropped, tongue twisted and words just fail them. Pretty amazing huh?

So what time do Kiwi kids go to bed?

It's  either 6.00 or 7.00 pm. SEVEN o'clock! If you're having a brain freeze, now rest assured that it's normal. That's how I felt when I was told "Children in NZ go to bed at 7.00 pm Alice". So what time do they wake up? 7.00 am of course! They sleep for 12 solid hours. There's no waking up at night, no milk bottle in bed, no midnight tantrums or any of that sort. 

As your toddler starts becoming more and more independent and doing so many things for himself, it's tempting to think of him as "beyond babyhood." But keep in mind that he still has many of the same needs he had as a baby. He still needs a lot of attention, a lot of cuddling, and a lot of sleep. Toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep in total, usually 11 to 12 hours at night and another one to three hours during the day.

Adapted from Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Dr. Jodi Mindell and JOHNSON'S® Your Baby and Toddler, From Birth to 3 Years, DK Publishing Inc., 2004.

Fine. So the book says tots need a LOT of sleep. I can't agree more. But where sleep is concerned, Alden is nowhere near the normal range.

For many many months I have endured Alden's abnormal sleeping habit. He has the capacity to stay up until the wee hours of the night, sometimes up till 1.00 am. I've tried putting him to bed earlier but we always end up having a mommy-son battle in bed instead.  Alden just doesn't like sleeping. He likes playing and he loves cartoon and he loves  running around the house. He can indulge in these activities for hours and hours until his energy runs low. Let's put it this way, just imagine that other kids are EVEREADY and my son is the long lasting ENERGIZER. While the other kids get a recharge, my Alden keeps on going like the ENERGIZER bunny. His recharge time comes much much later.

Having said all that, there's a twist to this entry.

A week ago, a miracle happened. Alden came home from school one day and asked for a meal, "mummy, momom" he said. After a feed and a hot shower, he asked for his bottle and started lying down on the sofa. I figured he was probably over exhausted after a long day at playschool. So I put him to bed and started singing him a lullaby. In less than 5 minutes, he was fast asleep! At 7.05 pm! He slept through the night and only woke up at 7.00 the next morning. As I was saying, miracles do happen :)

Since then, Alden has become more of an EVEREADY and less of an ENERGIZER. His new bed time routine has continued for two weeks now and I'm starting to enjoy peaceful evenings at home. I no longer need to tell white lies coz now my son goes down at 7 (well sometimes 8) and wakes up at 7 just like every other Kiwi kid. Ahh...victory never tasted so sweet :)

October 16, 2009

For better or for worse, in good times and in bad

Back in 2007, I attended a research methodology course designed for PhD candidates. The aim of the course was to provide us with a basic knowledge of post-grad research and  give us an idea of what to expect as we embark on the journey. One of the speakers made quite an impression on me when she stated  "Your PhD is like your marriage; if you don't work at it, it'll end up in a divorce". After dropping that bomb of a simile, she went on saying that life will be tough, complicated, challenging and hectic. Basically, all the negatives. At that time, I didn't think much of it and thought she might have exaggerated a little. Well, after what I have gone through this week, I must admit her words rang true.

I am taking a deep breath now. I just need to get all this frustration out of my system.

I know I've been talking in riddles and some of you might be asking Helloooo, apa ba ko mau cakap ni? So I'm going to start my story chronologically so you'll understand my disposition. WHY do I want to do that? Because it gives me a sense of order and because at this moment, every part of my study is NOT in order. So stop questioning me (I'm talking to myself).

My data collection was scheduled this week and I have been planning, preparing and anticipating it for months. The first session was done on Monday, during the students' orientation day. I was told by the Programme Coordinator that I could take one of the slots during the orientation sessions scheduled at 2.30 pm. My aim was to recruit as many participants as I could for my research and get them sign a consent sheet. Sounds so simple right? NO. I waited for almost 3 hours for all the sessions to end. The Programme Coordinator was supposed to sell my research to the students and help with the recruitment. Unfortunately, he did not keep his promise and I had to sell myself to a roomful of uninterested people. They didn't take the bait. I ended up looking like an opportunist who was up to no good. Needless to say, very few volunteered and signed the consent sheets.

I am frustrated not because of the low turnout. I am more disappointed in the fact that my time was wasted after all that careful planning. You see, since hubby has started working, I have lost some of my flexibilities and now every appointment needs to be planned carefully.  On Monday for instance, I had to book a casual (expensive) half-day session for Alden and asked for Es' help in babysitting Alva. In the morning, I had to send hubby to work (together with the kids) and get back home to get them ready. There's the feeding, the shower, the lunch box, the back pack, the baby bag, the milk bottle and a zillion of things to do and prepare. Then, I had to send Alden to school and drive all the way to Kaiapoi to send Alva. I then drove back to UC only to be disappointed by a low turnout. That was Monday.

My roomate and part time babysitter, Yuki
On Tuesday, I was all geared up to meet my participants who had willingly signed the consent sheets. This time, I couldn't afford to trouble Es so I asked Shidra, my colleague to help me babysit Alva in the office. I was that desperate. After everything was settled, I rushed to the Rutherford building on the other side of the campus. I was given a slot at 10.30 am and upon reaching the lecture room I see my participants rushing out to have a coffee break. Now why would the Programme Coordinator give me a coffee break slot when he's well aware that students wouldn't stay to do my survey? Baffling and equally as frustrating. I could practically feel my face crack in disappointment.   

Excited and happy....

before data collection...
I didn't give up. I asked for another slot and was given a 12.30 session on Wednesday. I sent Alden to school and brought Alva to the office again! This time, I asked Louise and Marilyn (from my Tulip story) to help me with the babysitting and to my relief, they were happy to do it. They are just the coolest people in the college! Anyway, after that was settled, I went to the Rutherford building to meet my elusive participants for the third time. You must be tired of reading this plot over and over again. But that's what happened. There were only three participants waiting  in the lecture room. A pathetic THREE. What could I possibly do with THREE students?  NOTHING! I decided to reschedule and told them to go home.

Kathy and Marilyn babysitting
As I walked out of the building, I felt sooo....sooo...sooo...??? Hmmm....there isn't a word to describe what I felt. Let's just say I felt robbed. Let's just use that expression for the time being ok? So as I was saying, I felt robbed and all alone in a cruel cruel world. And out of nowhere my mind started playing Celine Dion's "All by Myself" song and for the hundredth time, I was having that moment again. I never told you this but the truth is, when I'm in the blues, my mind seems to have a will of its own and it will always, always play that horrid song.

Livin alone, I thought of all the friends I've known,
but when I dial the telephone, nobody's home
All by myself, don't wanna be,
all by myself anymore...

I felt like I was in a sad music video.

This went on and on until I reached the office. All this to say that I was deeply affected by the students' no-show.

Now that I've written about it, I feel so much better. My mind is clearer (barangkali la) and I no longer feel 'robbed'. I guess the speaker was right. I am married to my PhD for better, for worse. And no matter what happens, in good times and in bad, I have to work at it and not give up. Divorce is not an option. Thank you for reading.

October 8, 2009

My Gray Week

I’ve been out of the blog world radar for exactly 9 days as I had too much going on in my life…..AS IF! Okay, the truth is, I was too lazy to even write a coherent sentence in my blog. Yup. I was feeling rather crappy. The somber weather’s to blame for my lack of mood: dark, gray, cold...basically all adjectives associated with the word GLOOMY. That’s how I’d describe the weather last week. It was so gray, it almost felt like winter.

Anyway, here’s a running total of what my gray week consisted of. (In the interest of not boring you to tears, I’m only highlighting the significant ones. Overly mundane activities such as changing diapers and usual office work will not be listed)

• Alva had her first visit to the Plunket centre
• We attended a Malaysian student gathering
• My little princess was baptised over the weekend :)

Alva's first visit to the Plunket clinic

Plunket is the country's largest provider of support service for health, development and well being of babies. Even before Alva was born, I have decided to enrol to Plunket care because it is the most established and popular support service in NZ. Upon enrolling to the Plunket programme, a registered nurse named Jane was assigned to provide support and care to me and Alva. Jane had initially made home visits to the house, but after two visits, we were asked to continue the scheduled checks at the Plunket centre instead.

Last Wednesday, we paid our first visit to the centre in Riccarton. I was particularly excited as I was dying to know Alva's weight. The check up started with a routine Q & A regarding Alva's development;  her sleeping habit, feedings and achievements. So much to keep track on and she's only 3 months! Anyway, after the Q & A, it was time for the physical assessment. We had to take her clothes off and weigh her on the scale. My heart flip-flopped when I saw the numbers on the screen: 5.5 kilograms! She'd gained another 750 grams since the last check up. Seeing this, I couldn't help but smile proudly and look at hubby with this expression that said "thanks to me and my breast milk!".  Okay, so maybe I was a bit too much there. Anyway, to make this story short and less corny, let me just say that all is well where Alva is concerned. Jane assured us that her growth is within the normal range and that we are doing a splendid job so far :)

This is Jane
Moving on to the next event...You might want to get a cup of coffee to go with this post, coz this is quite long.

Free Makan
So this happened last Saturday - 3rd October 2009. (Forgive me for my obsession with dates and time. I have this absurd sense of obligation to record each event accurately). There I was in our messy living room, still groggy at 10.45 a.m. I slept very very late the night before as I was busy decorating my virtual farm in Farm Ville - Octavia, if you're reading this, you should know that I owe this new addiction to you ;). That explains my waking up late on Saturday. So, as I was saying, I woke up late and started  planning our activity for the day. The plan was to shop for a special candle for Alva's baptism on Sunday. Other than that, there wasn't any other agenda. Since there wasn't any hurry or anything major to do, I started checking my mails on my UC student account. There was only one message in the inbox, sent on Friday. It read:

Hello Alice 
I wonder whether you know that tomorrow ada meeting KSU KPM or KPT with M'sian postgrads at Afghan Restaurant (Colombo/St.Asaph Street) at 12 -2p.m. You're invited and hope to see you there.

Of course I didn't know coz no one told me! I glanced at the clock, 11.00 a.m. already!! "We have to get there in an hour?!" Mayday!Mayday!Mayday! I hit the panic button and just went to pieces. As you can imagine, the next 50 minutes was spent running around the house in a mad rush. Kelam kabut with a capital K.

We managed to get ourselves ready in record time and dashed to the city. It was fairly easy to find the place and luckily for us there were plenty of parking spaces. We got out of the car and started making our way to the restaurant. When we finally made it across the busy road, we found ourselves facing not a restaurant but a door leading to a staircase. Funny, I thought. Since hubby was pushing Alva in the stroller, I had to go and check to see if the restaurant was indeed upstairs. Alden and I took the stairs and made it to the 1st Floor. I peeked inside and saw what appeared to be a fancy restaurant filled with many hungry-looking Malaysians. I told hubby, who was still waiting downstairs, that we were at the right place.

I pushed the glass door open and made my way into the crowded restaurant. It wasn't easy as I had this 15kg toddler in my arms. Alden just refused (vehemently) to walk into the restaurant and in an effort to avoid an ugly scene, I resorted to carrying him like a baby. When I walked in, conversations came to a shuddering halt and all eyes were on me. There was a minute of silence in the air, like malaikat/ angel limpas kind of moment you know. I was so thankful I had Alden in my arms because he served as my defense mechanism against those judgmental eyes.

They were staring not because I was wearing something fancy or anything. No. It was because I came with a toddler. Everyone else came solo! How could I have known?  I quickly found a table and sat down. Phew! After a few minutes, imagine their surprise when they saw hubby pushing Alva in the stroller, making his way towards me. They must have thought "What? Another baby? Who are these people?" Once again there was a momentary silence. Hubby joined me at the table and we looked at each other, both asking (in telepathy) "What the heck have we gotten ourselves into?" Talk about awkward!

After awhile people started ignoring us and we were happy again. Lalalalala..The guest of honour (a big shot in the Ministry of Higher Education whose name I forgot) came at 1.00pm and everyone stood up to welcome the Datuk and Datin. How very Malaysian! The lovely emcee then delivered her wonderful welcoming speech and to our surprise, included a plea (addressed to the Datuk) to increase our living allowances. Everyone cheered and applauded in support of this. Ha! ha! Then, it was the Datuk's turn to give a speech, taking an agonizing 15 minutes. Finally at 1.35 p.m. lunch was served buffet style. Free Malaysian food for all!

My free meal

The food was simply marvelous! You know that Anton Ego's revelation scene in Ratatouille, where Ego had a moment of euphoria eating the peasant dish? Well, I had that moment when I took a bite of the Tandoori chicken. Terus balik kampung. All the waiting and morning kelamkabutness was worth the effort because we had a really great meal that day. End of story.

This is the last one, I promise :-)

Alva's Christening

I promise you this is going to be brief. Alva and Ryan (Es' son) were baptised last Sunday at St. Patrick's Catholic church, Kaiapoi. It was done during mass and Carmille (Es' friend) had to stand in as a proxy because Alva's real godmother couldn't make it to the baptism (she's in KK!). Everything went really well. She didn't even cry when the priest poured the Holy water over her head. She was an angel! Too bad there were only 3 photos taken during the baptism - and I looked fugly in all of them.  After mass, we had a BBQ feast at Es' place to celebrate our babies' Christening. The End. I told you it was going to be short. I'll let the photos do the talking :-)

Rev. Father Michael, a Malaysian from Kelantan. Small world huh?

Alva and mommy :)

Princess Alva :)

Till the next post, God Bless!