Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Big girl already (2) !

In Nov last year, Caylee did start going diaper-less at night. She succeeded for perhaps a week or two and then there were many accidents. So, to be kind to myself, I put her back on diapers.

She doesn't really like to wear her diaper. She is very particular about her kind of underwear, so you can imagine how uncomfortable a diaper is for her.

At any rate, late last year and early this year, given the move to the new house and a new mattress for her, I didn't want to take any chances that she will stain the new bed. So, She was put back on diaper. I kept telling myself that it is time to train her. But I was too tired and too lazy. Also the kids were to sleep in their own room so I could not be around her to train her in the middle of the night.

Fast forward to Sept 2014. She has been whining so much about her diaper that the daddy made an agreement with her. If for 3 days you don't pee in your diaper, then I will allow you to go to bed diaper-less. Previous nights, she would take it out herself in the middle of the night and we had occasional accidents to deal with.

On the 4th morning, she woke up very early, checked her diaper and came to announce to all of us that it was dry. It was a Saturday morning mind you and we were not too thrilled to be woken up at 7+ am. That night when the daddy started to bring out the diaper, she threw a fit! So, between daddy and daughter, the promise had to be kept.

It was to be that for the next 2 nights, she had to sleep with me since the daddy had a function to attend. And she actually did wake up in the middle of the night and request for me to bring her to the toilet.

To date she is going to toilet on her own and then going back to bed on her own...without the need for a night light even. And to date, about 1 and a half weeks now, she has managed a dry bed.

So, I reckon, we can give away the last 2 pack of diapers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Different lives in one same day

Dawn had not yet broken through. It was the time when darkness still prevailed. I was driving to work. Traffic was not light. I remember feeling harassed by some drivers urging me to move faster.
Traffic on my left lane was heavy. There were many heavy vehicles.

Then all of a sudden I noticed on my left lane in front of me, between a car and a large lorry was this motorbike. The rider and the pillion were both wearing helmets. The pillion was carrying a large school bag, almost the entire length of his torso. He was clad in dark blue pants. So, I knew he was a primary school student.

The rider looked like a woman, I am presuming to be his mum since the boy clutched her waist with one hand. She quickly gauged the distance my car was and I would see she was trying to overtake the large lorry.

Despite the strong and nearing lights behind me, I slowed down. I gave the rider more than enough space and time to maneuver round the lorry and back into the left lane further in front.

Then I sped by.

In such moments, I wish I could do more for so many people who may be struggling to put their kids through school and earn an honest living.

Here I was in my empty car and there they were. What kind of life did they lead? Although I know the world is full of dimwits finding an easy way out, I believe there are still good people doing their best, leading ordinary honest lives. It is sad though when thoughts seldom result in action. And when good is mocked as naive.

Perhaps all I can do today, in my different life is to thank God and just do, say and be what is right.

Lord, oh Lord! I pray I will never be indifferent!

Monday, September 1, 2014

SG Retreat 2014 - Avani Resort, Sepang

After a 5 year hiatus (due to baby bearing and toddler rearing), we decided to kick start the bie/a-nnual SG Retreat again! There were 6 couples and 13 kids - with only one kiddo about to turn 2, one into her 2nd year of teenager-hood and one 2 full years more to reach teens! So, in actual fact we had 10 mad kids to deal with!

We did intend to convoy to Avani but it being a Saturday, there were some chores and classes for the kids to attend and so we all decided to just meet there. The reception staff were really accommodating considering we didn't bring the check in registration slips. We could even check in for the others who had not yet arrived. We got all the room cards and proceeded to our rooms in a buggy. It was a good thing that the buggy service from the lobby always started empty else checking in would have been a pain! Checking out is a down right pain, I have to say at this point! So, make sure you are UP FOR A WALK if you don't want to wait for an empty buggy.

Anyways, as soon as we were checked in, as usual, the kids were itching to go to the pool. As to not tear the room apart, I decided to bring them. And as time passed, more and more of the families arrived and soon we were taking over the entire kids pool! I pity the people sitting near the pool cause we had perhaps 12 water guns capable of shooting piercing sprays of up to 5 feet!

About 2 hours in the pool, and we had to get out and be ready for dinner. Between 4 cars, we headed to Sg Pelek for dinner. The poor community of Sg Pelek were bombarded with endless chatter and some shouts from our 10 mad kids. And I bet those Sg Pelek kiddos never ever realized they could harass their parents for the phone if they finished their dinner quick enough. Their parent's lives will never be the same again!

Anyways, after dinner, it was beach time. Not a good time for my daughter who absolutely hates going to the beach dressed up! So, hubby and I took her back to the room, which really suited us fine. Christopher after all, had many a capable aunts and uncles to take care of him. I learnt they played lanterns at the beach. They returned at 10:40 pm and I put him straight to bed.

Now, the room. I don't really like it. Reason being the extra bed costs a bomb. Secondly, they suggested the use of the sofa bed as an alternative bed but we didn't come prepared so we had no sheets or blanket to use. In the end we ended up 4 people in a king sized bed. Kicks and bruises and no good night sleep. I tried using the sofa bed the 2nd night and ended up having the sniffles the next day! Avillion PD's water chalets were better in this aspect. I also don't really fancy the bathroom as it was too small. The water from the shower kept escaping and so our floor mat was literally always wet! When the bathroom door was open and the cupboard door was open, it was also a tight squeeze to walk out of the bathroom. And I have this bad habit of needing the clothes in the wardrobe to have some air! Well, anyways.....

Day 2 we were up by 8 and down for breakfast at 8:30 am. The spread was pretty extensive and well stocked. I reckon the F&B staff did a great job!

Beach for 2+ hours. Near the beach there were many interesting things. They had a pool, kiddie air structure for play, mini put, a trampoline and a court space. They also had canoe's for rent and swings made out of netting. It would seem there were sufficient deck chairs, some shade and beach towels. In this aspect Avani was excellent!!!

Pool time next for another 2 hours. By the time we were dressed and ready for lunch, it was almost 2. We went back to Sg Pelek for lunch with another family, Patrick and the girls. My boy was not really into food since his best buddy did not come. Surrounded by 3 girls, he grouching-ly ate something and couldn't wait to get back to the hotel. At least we got to try the famous rojak noodle and the pau kosong. Being out, we were sent on an errand to get some cold drinks for the people at the hotel.

Back from lunch, I was sent to deliver the drinks. Oh what fear for me to get on the bike with my son. It was my first time after my bike accident and these hotel bikes were too high! Thankfully along came Mrs Recipient and she took the drinks AND my son on a ride. So, I could attempt riding my bicycle with only a few adults and kids encouraging me on! I think I gripped the handle so tight (the bike was not aligned well either) that I could feel relieve in my arms when I at last came down. Back from his bicycle ride, the boy was in the room 15 min and then instigated the sister to go back to the pool! Even though they only had 1 hour of swimming/playing/war-ing (thank to Uncle John) time, they made full use of it. Darling little Alycia and Caylee kept me busy throwing them in the water. I had achy arms later lasting me till now, 2 days later!

We went to Lovers Bridge Restaurant Tanjung Sepat for dinner. Darn it...even with a booking it took 1 hour for the food to be served. It was a good thing we went early enough so that the ordering could be made and then the rest of us with the kids could walk out to the bridge. Some minutes later Caylee wanted to go back to the restaurant and I was soooo glad. Holding on to the kids on a cement platform with no barriers is not for the fainthearted. We had 10 mad kids, if you remember!

Bought our share of kuih bahulu and some keropok, we headed back to the hotel. Some crazy parents were still up to beach time. I thank Caylee for my escape. Went back with Isabel to play lanterns in the room. By 10, the peace of 2 adults and 3 kids were disrupted by the beach gang. Felt so sorry for Sin Loong and Mei Yin who had to accommodate 7 sandy children sitting on their bed! But all was good. We chased everyone down and got everyone back to their own rooms.

3rd and final day, breakfast at 8 am....NOT ! I woke up to Whatsapp message sounds and we pushed each other out of the bed. Lack of sleep, I watched as the kids played in the pool. Even out of the pool, I was a target of the water guns! At around 12, we checked out and went to Tg Sepat for lunch and to buy fishballs, pau and coffee.

How was my weekend? Tiring, I would say. Without other families to determine the activities, we would have woken up later and perhaps the kids would have had lessor swim and beach time. After all hubby is not really a beach person. So, even though it was tiring for me, I am glad my kids have this other bunch of adults and 8 other mad kids to play with. It takes the mothering out of this mummy and I was able to have some decent adult conversation with almost every single other mummy in the group. I love the bonds created and I love the bonds my kids create. Having a holiday group is not an easy thing to find or maintain and I hope even to our older days, we (and the kids) would still enjoy each others company enough to be 'overlook-ers' of small misdemeanors and still be charitable.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Changing car ownership

For the pass 6 months, to my knowledge, hubby has been contemplating a car change. It actually started from me, due to my 2 accidents. I felt I wanted a new car - a safer car, a brighter car. Not sure why compact was not in my terms of reference.

Given that a car is a car to me. And it made no real sense for me to change from my Myvi to a Jazz when hubby was already driving a City (we deemed Honda is one of the more safer cars, compact did not cross my mind). Thus, I relented to taking over hubby's City and allow him the new car instead.

We made one troublesome mistake in this process. The new car was registered under hubby's name and not mine. If would not have really mattered since both our insurance now is charged to the same card. Only who pays which portion. And it did not really matter whose name was tied to which NCB. But it never crossed our minds and so we had to go through the painful process of Puspakom and JPJ. If we were to trade in the City to get the new car, we would not have had this hassle. But since now we had to transfer ownership of the City to my name and Myvi to the new buyer's name, we spent close to 4 hours in JPJ.

So, we went to Puspakom 2 times. Once to check that the Myvi engine and tint was in accordance to the limit. And the 2nd time for the City. As a result, we had to re-tint the City.

With the Puspakom reports in hand (they only last a month), next stop was to the insurance. I actually could have done this earlier and saved myself a bit of running around that day. But, oh the trouble of leave and wrong info!

So, I had to cancel my previous insurance and start a new one. My current insurance company was suffering from a system-down that day. Darn it! So, I had to go to the next nearest insurance company to make a new insurance. You don't need your name to be on the registration card of the new car to create a new insurance no matter what your insurance agent tells you! But you need your new car to have an insurance if you want your new road tax!

So, insurance in hand, we went to JPJ. We did the transfer of ownership and the road tax in 10 minutes (although we waited 3 hours and 50 minutes)! The new buyer of the Myvi paid 100 to a runner in JPJ itself to do it through the back door (literally a door at the back) and she left after 1 hour.

So, I am driving the City now. And there is a real difference. I feel bends are easier to manuever, there is more grip. Braking is definitely an immediate effect now. The only thing I need to get used to is the ease of having a compact car not. That tight squeeze just became a little tighter for me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6th August 2014

This date marks an anniversary for me now. The anniversary of the passing of my dad.

This is what happened....

I dropped my son as usual at 6:35 am at my parents place. Daddy and mummy moved down to PJ late last year to help me ferry and care for my son who was to start Standard 1 this year. At his grandparents place, my son would have his breakfast prepared by my dad and dress up for school, with grandma's assistance and then grandpa will send him to school. So while my mum was helping him dress up, my dad went up to change and get ready to send my son to school. He went up around 7:10 am. Close to 7:20, with no sign of my dad, my mum went upstairs to check on him. This part of the story I heard from my mum. She went upstairs and saw my dad lying on the floor beside the bed. He was lying on his side, his comb not too far away from his hand. His pants was wet. My mum cried out! Having heard grandma, my son ran upstairs. I am not sure what happened at this juncture but my mum must have told my son that grandpa has fainted.
My son told my mum not to worry and rushed to the bathroom to bring handfuls of water to splash on my dad's face. He shook and shook my dad and told my dad to get up and bring him to school.
"The sun is up, time to get up, kung kung!"
"Cannot sleep already, I will be late for school!"
These were the cries of my innocent 6+ year old boy.
My mum called everyone she knew.

My neighbor was the first to arrive, having been roused by my husband to check what was happening. He told me that he jumped out of bed, washed his face, changed his clothes and rushed next door. He even forgot to brush his teeth. As soon as he arrived, my husband and my daughter arrived as well. Victor went up first soon to be followed by my husband. I learnt a few days later when I saw my son performing the same action on his sister that Victor attempted CPR. Victor later told me that when he arrived, my dad's hands and head were already cold. The only warmth he felt was near my dad's heart. Between my husband and Victor, they tried ways to resuscitate him. They also took turns calling hospital after hospital as well as the police in an attempt to get an ambulance to the house. The kids I heard were very good. Keeping to themselves and not being a bother.

I received the call from mummy at 7:23 am. I dropped everything and rushed home. On my way home, I kept praying that this was just a matter of low blood pressure and he would just need some glucose drip or something. Let everything be okay, I kept repeating it in my head. Driving keeps one from using the phone but when I reached the Sunway toll, there was a bad jam. So, I picked up the phone to call my husband. He picked at the 2nd attempt. I asked him about the kids. And I also asked him what was happening. It was all good until I asked him the last question. "Is daddy breathing very faint?" Silence speaks clearer than any words. My tears fell unchecked. I called my sis.

In my head while I was waiting for her to pick up the call, I heard myself think "Daddy will not be with us in Singapore!" (We were in the midst of planning our first overseas trip. It was supposed to be HK as promised by my dad to my son. But we opted for Singapore Sentosa Island instead. It would have  been out first family trip overseas.)

They were also caught in a jam and my bro inlaw was driving. So my sis could spend some time calming me down. I was never so aware of the need to drive careful than that time. My sis arrived at home first. I learnt from hubby that between the 3 of them men, they heaved my dad into my sister's car and made their way to Damansara Specialist Hospital. I arrived shortly after and parked my car at the house. Jumped into hubby's car and we decided to drop the kids at my daughter's (and my son's ex) kindergarten. The principal was kind enough to take both of them in and take care of them until evening.

Since I was no longer driving, I could make some calls. One to our pastor for prayer. A few messages to church members for prayer. I received a call just as we were parking from my bro inlaw asking me to hurry to the emergency ward. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating so fast. When I arrived, my mum exclaimed "Daddy has died, Ann!" My sis and mum were crying. Strangely I felt calm. To a certain extent I had already cried. I told mummy "It is okay, mummy. He lead a good life and he died a quick death. He did not suffer. It was the way he wanted to go." I noticed that my mum was immediately comforted and she stopped crying. In a way a little positiveness does help in situations of hopelessness. It was my way of coping and I hoped it was a way my mum could cope, at least for that very moment.

How the news spread was beyond me. We made a few calls to my dad's friends. And the news spread from one person to another so much so we had calls from people all over Malaysia.

Being new to the church in PJ and it being troublesome to bring the body back to Ipoh (to the church my dad spent 10 over years of his life), we asked if the pastor who baptized my dad could also bury him. He obliged and agreed that we should bury and not cremate him. Although my dad did mention he would like to be cremated, it was something we never talked seriously about. So, due to circumstances, we decided to buy a twin plot in Semenyih and bury him in the Christian Memorial Park. We came to realize that embalming packages bought in advance cost cheaper. And empty plots for burial are sorely limited and come at a high price. The embalming itself cost us 14K (21K if not bought in advance. But we bought 2, one for my mum so forked out 28K this time round), another 20K for the burial process and about 32K for the plot of land. The manager from Nirvana that saw to us was very kind and that really helps. So, best to do all of these in advance and determine the person you want to deal with and hope when you need to, that person is still working there.

The day of his death, we spent a lot of time at the bank. Everything, even though it had joined names, had to be cancelled. Only those things that had nominee we could afford to leave it for now. And Fixed Deposits have a tendency to be very troublesome - dependent on branch made, account branch and amount. We realized later that Maybank has this surviving clause where if the account is in joint name, the surviving member gets full sum of the account. In other banks, the surviving member gets only half. The other half dependent on the will.

We completed all the banking on Thursday at 11 am. Took a quick bite and made our way to Nirvana Sungai Besi. The embalming takes about 1 day so it was about the right time for us to perform the customary dressing up. Fastening the button of daddy's coat reminded me of the time when daddy put on my veil when I was getting married. The act of preparing the person for their biggest change in life. Although you are sad to see your kid getting married, you still have to let them go. I was saying goodbye to daddy. It would be the last time I get to touch him. There is some parting in performing this act. All necessary actions in the process of saying goodbye.

After which we choose the casket and finalized details of the wake service. It was to start that evening 7th August at 8:30 pm. Having done all that, we rushed to Semenyih to choose the burial plot. They say it is better to go there and decide for yourself rather than use digital images to decide. The look and feel of where you want your daddy to be resting. We chose based on convenience, the plot is near the road. We chose based on the fact that there was a healthy tree growing nearby. We chose based on how well the neighbor kept their plot. We were asked to make a decision at this time too. If we would like to have the casket put in, and then soil, and then cement slabs and then soil again. OR casket, cement slabs, then only soil on top. We decided for the former, thinking dust to dust right. But if I could choose again, I would choose the later as the soil when it knocked the casket did not sound comfortable. And it covered all the flowers we threw in.

I remembered on that day when we buried daddy, the sound of the earth hitting the casket made me think "Daddy, sorry about the noise!" Every hit made me cringe. I am glad the music helped bring me to another place.

The 2 days we had the wake, it was a full day affair. Olivia, my dearest friend who lost her mum told me that seeing daddy as often as I could that 2 days will help in the grieving process. So, whenever I could I would be my daddy talking to him and asking him to help me. I met friends of my dad who I actually cherish in my heart and I was so glad they were there that we could comfort each other. Even some friends who I know hate to travel made it all the way to bid my daddy farewell. I was so touched by their effort. And I hope one day I would be able to return their favor.

On Saturday we buried daddy. I didn't want the casket to be closed. I actually didn't feel ready not to see daddy anymore. But I had to let go. Incidents had happened which made my son very aware of my emotions and I had to teach him to let go. I walked away because I could not handle seeing them close the casket. I waited at the door and leaned on my eldest uncle's shoulders and watched them load the casket in the van. At that moment, I felt glad that I had a close enough relationship with most of my uncles and aunties. The preparation of the van was done in a seamless manner - to putting the picture of my dad at the front of the van to rearranging all the flowers in the van. We were told to walk behind the van for the short distance to the front gate. Mummy, sis and I with my 2 kids walked in front with so many friends and relatives following. We then proceeded to Semenyih.

When the burial process was complete, I really wanted to stay a while longer. Like what we see in the movies right. To sit quietly for a while and say good bye. But we were rushed off for lunch and it would have been for the best since it was close to 1 pm and lengthy goodbyes never did anyone any good. Seeing the whole process through, there was closure. And talking to aunties after that, mending some fences, understanding their grief, it all helped.

I am thankful that I have my son. He was very close to his grandfather and in a way both of us can grief in a way hubby and my daughter do not. I am trying to fill up the gaps my dad left in my son's life and he fills up  mine. So long daddy, see you one day in heaven.