Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good Behaviour Chart

About a year ago when Ilham and Ihsan became old enough to do chores, I decided to put up a Star Chart as a reward (thus motivation) system to encourage them to complete their chores. Each chore that is completed well (keyword: 'well') will be rewarded with a star, that could be converted into money that could be spent on anything they want, be it books, toys, trinkets on our travels and what not.
For disobedience (i.e. not listening to me, disrespecting, hitting), I used the naughty-spot/time-out method.

As three of them got older, I think they have outgrown the naughty-spot method, so to keep their behaviour in check especially during the school holidays when tension runs high and opportunities for conflict is aplenty, I have decided to introduce the Good Behaviour Chart.

left: Star Chart, right: Behaviour Chart (click for a bigger image)

Each of them gets an initial 10 points on their chart (Because I believe that they are essentially good). For each bad behaviour (Starting a fight, hitting, not listening/ignoring instructions, screaming, etc), one point will be crossed out. The person(s) with the most good behaviour points at the end of the week will get a reward: They get to choose where we eat during the weekend.
We have only been using it for a week plus, and last week Ihsan chose to eat Roti Telur at Madina Restaurant. This week so far, nobody has gotten their points crossed out yet, but it's only Sunday so we'll see.
I think so far so good. My kids have started to think twice before they do anything, and it only takes a "Do you want a point off?" from me to keep them in check.

Oh man.. now that I've written that all down, I think I sound like some military matron...
*hangs head in shame*

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Holiday Schedule

Here we go again, another trip back home!
Here's my tentative plan.

Click for a larger image

Aside from the arrival and departure dates, the makan2 at Sabrina's on July 20th, the KLCC trip on July 21st, the kenduri (wedding reception) on July 26th, the trip to Besut-Perhentian-Merang-Kemaman-Kuantan from August 3rd to 10th, everything else is not really set in stone.
So if you want me to pencil you in, tell me.
We're planning a trip to Kuala Gandah to look at elephants on Sunday August 17th. You're welcomed to come with us if you want.

Tentative date?: Saturday, August 16th (First day of school holiday), but am open for other suggestions. Please check my calendar for availability.
Suggest a place! Previous gatherings were held at Putrajaya Taman Wetlands (2005), FRIM (2006) and my house (2007).
Suggest menu! Previous gatherings were always potluck, but no harm in changing it up a bit.
Looking forward to hearing from you :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Too Many Ideas

My mom-in-law has this phrase "Banyak akai", which is actually "banyak akal", which literally means "too many ideas". It is often referred to a child who can't seem to sit still, which is exactly what Izani has become.

I am sure Ilham, Ihsan and Anis were as crafty as him, but perhaps I was not as aware of it because I didnt spend the whole day with them. Therefore, I was also spared the frustration of having to clean-up after them and closely monitor them to make sure they don't get into another mischief.
I can't leave Izani alone for even 5 minutes. I went to the toilet this morning and came out to discover he had ripped off the box cover of a borrowed CD. While I was downstairs cooking and his older siblings were engrossed in Hanna Montana, he had thrown all his hot wheels (and something else, we dont know what) into the toilet bowl and flushed it. Because the toilet got clogged, Taufik decided to throw away all of my kids' small toys (poor kids!). I give him a bowl of cereal to eat in front of the TV because he wanted to watch teletubbies and I go make my bed and the next thing I know, the whole living room is covered in cereal. The other day I had to use a tweezer to take a spring out of his nose!

Now Izani's current obsession is taking off his clothes and diapers.
HORROR you know !!!
It started with just him learning to take off his clothes. He'd be running around with only his diapers on and I'd be chasing him yelling "shame shame boy! shame shame boy!". It turned into a game. Then he started pulling the diapers down a bit so that his dickie would stick out. It was funny at first. But then he learnt how to rip open the tabs. He'd be sitting quietly and the next thing I know he'd be nekkid!
He'd still be watching TV, or doing whatever, but he'd be nekkid. The other day I had to wash the sofa coz he had an 'accident'. I will not go into details for fear no one would want to come to my house or invite me over.
This morning.
This morning was the last straw.
He had actually ripped open the seams for the diapers (don't ask me how! Coz the seams are like sewn or something! It boggles me!) and the gel stuff came spilling out.
Eyyyyew okayyyy?????
And do you know how difficult it is to clean up those gels thingies?? I cant wash it out, coz they absorb water. It's like filled with pee and yellow and all so I can't possibly touch it. It's like, really tiny and gets into carpet piles and sofa crevices.
*shudders and screams in disgust*
By hook or by crook, I had to clean them up. I used the small broom thingy and also a vacuum cleaner then sprayed disinfectant all over the place.

While I'm typing this up, I've gotten up and checked on him for, like, 10 times. Last I checked, he was fiddling with the red, white and yellow audio/video connectors on the TV. When he saw me coming, he dropped what he was doing and ran to the sofa and buried his face in the cushions.

Other mommies are making their house safe for their kid. I have to start thinking about keeping my house safe from my kid.

Pening bonda...

cheeky little devil!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


If you're wondering why I've been so quiet these past few days, it's because I've been a little bit busy.

not with playing sudoku or trying to beat CK's pathwords score or playing scrabble with my siblings (and sibling in law *wink*).
Come to think of it, "The Book of Face" as someone on manon's blog calls it, has been taking over my life a bit, and if i could remember who invited me to it, I would probably curse him or her. But actually it's kinda fun coz as i said, how else could I play scrabble with my family? I would invite my dad in too, but a parent's curse are potent, so I don't think I want to take that risk.

where was I?

oh yeah.

I have been busy transferring my old posts from efx2blogs to blogspot.

okay whine*slash*explanation coming up.

I dunno.
I love the people in efx2, but you know things are getting a bit weird in efx2 with keith being so quiet and spambots filling up my comment alerts and some of my favourite people moving away and stuff.
So yeah, I'm thinking of moving.
and I figured, even if I decide not to move, I'd have a backup and wont lose all my posts like i did when modblog went down *shudders*. All those memories.. down the drain *wipes a tear*.

So anyways.
That's what I've been doing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The House in Batu Buruk

Having finished reading Growing Up In Trengganu by Awang Goneng, I am inspired to write down my own memories of my home state. I will be posting these writing under the category/labels "Trengganu Jam".
I only really lived in Trengganu till I was 8 years old, because we moved away then, but we always went back to Trengganu during the school holidays. So I guess you could say that I did grow up in Trengganu, coz a lot can happen (and did happen) to a child during the holidays. Even though I actually spent more time out of Trengganu than in it, in my heart, I had always been, and always be a Trengganu girl.
My memory is a little bit like swiss cheese when it comes to my life as a child in Trengganu, so bear with me. Perhaps some of you can correct me or help me clarify the blurr bits.

I will start with my earliest memory, living in a house in Batu Buruk.

From what I can recall, the wooden house we lived in in Batu Buruk was either painted white, or a very pale green. I remember it had a long corridor that led from the living room to the other rooms and the kitchen at the back of the house. I remember this because I once roller skated down that corridor and could recall the sound the wooden wheels on metal shoes made on the uncarpeted wooden floors. Along the corridor there were long doors that open out, with railings to prevent naughty little kids from falling out. I remember sitting by the doors, with my legs dangling outside through the railing, watching birds on the pokok terajang and the next door neighbours' brick house with the lovely dahlias.

I must've been about 4 or 5 years old, because I know I haven't gone to school yet then. I spent most of my days sitting at home waiting for my KakLong (eldest sister) to come back from school and show me the latest thing she learnt. When she comes home, I'd follow her around, sometimes to watch her play, sometimes to her Qur'an lesson, where she'd also bring the day's leftover rice and dried out coconut scrapings in a plastic bag to a neighbour's house that has a lot of chickens. The neighbour would give us some coins, and we would by tit bits from a small store, also on the way to the Qur'an lesson. Our favourite were these plastic packets that sometimes had fish crackers, sometimes candy canes but always a golden bangle (which was of course, not really made of gold). We'd break the bangle and straighten it out and use it as a glamorous pointer for our Qur'an lessons.

Weekend mornings I'd follow my KakLong to buy roti canai at the shop on the main road. We'd walk across the huge field in front of our house, through some bushes, then up a slight incline where we would emerge at a small lane at the side of the roti canai shop. We'd go to the front of the shop to make our order. Sometimes we'd bring with us some eggs, to be added to our roti canai. While we wait for our order to be fulfilled, I'd watch cars pass by and look beyond the other side of the road listening to the sounds of the South China Sea waves crashing onto the beach of Pantai Batu Buruk. When we got our order, we'd walk back the same way, sometimes bumping into other people who use the same path to get their roti canai.

The field in front of our house was a curious little thing. Once it rained really hard for many many days, and filled our whole compound with water, including the field. When the rain stopped and the rain receded, the field did not dry up. It became a pond instead, and there were even fish in it. It really amazed us then how fish could've gotten in there. My sister and I made up theories that maybe there were fish eggs that had been lying dormant in the ground and all that water had coaxed them out. Somehow it never occurred to us that fish might have been swept into the field during the rain, and was trapped there when the rain stopped.

I don't remember watching any TV when I was living there. Most of the time we were playing outside in some rok (bushes). We picked mmuting (kemunting - something like berries), played tag or just walked around and theorizing on how ponds got filled with fish. Children are left to their own devices most of the time and we were allowed to roam free, with or without shoes. We knew to come home when it starts getting dark and we hear the azang ggarek (the call for prayers at dusk). Once, I missed my cue to go home and I reached my front door only to find that it had been locked. I had to duduk ccokkoh (sit doing nothing) in the dark by the door, listening to the noises of the crickets and ungodly creatures outside and the noises of preparations for dinner inside. I was finally let in, with a lesson learnt for life.

When I started going to kindergarten, we moved out of that house to another house in Bukit Kecil.
Every time we drive on that road leading to Kuala Trengganu via Batu Buruk, I would peer behind the buildings by the side of the road and try to identify that house. Unfortunately I could never tell which was the house I had fond memories of.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sole Survivor

I've tried to nurture many many plants in the hostile saudi environment.
I have tried basil, rosemary, lavender, various flowering plants, japanese roses .. all of them died. Some due to lack of water when I went away for holidays. Some due to too much water when I got overzealous and thought I could counter the dryness with lots of water. Some due to the extreme heat outside. Some due to lack of sun (when I decided to bring them indoors to escape the heat). Boring tulll .. dah lah pokok kat sini mahal.(I am frustrated coz plants are expensive over here)
I know there are many books out there to tell me how to take care of plants in this extreme weather. I have read them in bookstores (read:I sneak-read them without buying), but none of the tips worked for my plants. (Perhaps I need to buy the books and read them properly instead of trying to remember as much as I can. tee hee.)
This is my only surviving plant :

That's the kalanchoe plant that went missing a few months ago.
I had been keeping it by the kitchen window before, but it has grown bigger so I moved it into a bigger pot and now it looks nice enough to be in my living room. I water it every other day and put it by the sliding door every morning to make sure it gets enough sun.

My kitchen window sill is decorated by a row of fake flowers in small pots (Daiso - QR/SR6 per pot). These are more my style. They don't need watering and can withstand the heat :)

Note: Taufik has been better at keeping his plants alive. He has a jasmine tree and a frangipani tree on our front porch. He also has these really hardy creepy leafy plants that could live out of just a bowl of water. They now sit on either side of my kitchen sink.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

2 movies and 1 dramatic end

I caught The Prestige on the movie channel a few days ago.
I had seen promos for this movie and was intrigued by the story of rivalry between two magicians (plus the fact that it had Hugh Jackman *and* Christian Bale *and* Michael Caine). It was indeed a story about rivalry between two magicians, but it was also something more. From the get go, this movie was intriguing, and it stayed intruiging to the very last second.
Apart from The Usual Suspects, not many movies could keep me engaged and make me go Wow in the end like this movie did. I spent the next two days going over each scene in my mind, picking up clues in hindsight.
I have to warn you though, that the movie's time-line is a little askewed, coz there were many flashbacks within a flashbacks. Just get that straight and you'll have no problem.
I was also surprised to find out that one of the characters was David Bowie ;)
I would definitely recommend this movie.

I also saw Becoming Jane, which made me cry a bit. Such a lovely story. Made me feel how lucky I am to be able to end up with a person I truly love.

In other news, I have had a dramatic but successful end for my efforts on weaning Izani! Yay!! Read about it on the bonda blab blog - Wean or Lose?.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


A few days ago I responded to my friend June's wondering about who eats porridge for breakfast. I told her that I am one of the people who eats rice porridge for breakfast, even if I'm not sick.
My innocent respond led me to crave for porridge (as every little thing often make me crave for something or other... ). So when I had some leftover vegetable soup, I decided to make rice porridge with it.
Smelling the softening rice on the stove reminded me of when I went to visit my sister in Jakarta. I followed her out to get some breakfast one morning. We stopped at one of the many streets in Menteng where I saw there was a small crowd of people in front of a big mansion, crowding around a van. There were also a few huge luxury cars parked along the street.
I discovered that the man in the van was selling rice porridge. He'd pack porridge with some soup , and together with a pack of krupuk (crispy crackers) and some other condiments (I can't remember what.. i think there were crispy fried shallots and chopped parsley or something). His assistant would sometimes take and bring orders to the parked luxury cars. My sister said the porridge seller is doing very very well, coz he owns one of the huge houses on the street. We had porridge with krupuk for breakfast that morning and it was pretty yummeh.
That memory prompted me to fry my own stash of krupuk, to be eaten with my porridge.
I said "krupuk" (kerr-roo-pook) because I meant the Indonesian version, which is usually made of rice flour and vegetable flavours like onion or garlic. These, and the orange shrimp crackers or white fish crackers, can be found easily in the supermarkets here. The Trengganu "keropok" (kerr-row-poke), which is made of succulent fish and sago flour and is often greyish-brown due to being rich in fish, I treasure like gold and save only for special occasions (like when I feel like eating nasi kerabu or guests are coming and I have nothing else in the larder).
From my visit to Indonesia 2 years ago, I realised that just like the folks in Trengganu, the indonesians really love their krupuk. Just like we folks in the east coast of Malaysia like to use our fish crackers as spoons for our fried noodles, the indonesians use them as condiments for their fried noodles. They even have "mee keriuk", and instant fried noodles which comes with it's own small packet of crispy krupuk in the packaging.
Perhaps that's where I got my habit of having to have something crunchy for me to eat all the time. Like eating cheetos with my fried noodles. Afterall, my family do have blood from Indonesia flowing in us.
That also explains why my kids inherited the same liking to anything crunchy and crispy...

Izani and his basket of krupuk

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Easy Peasy Spinach Filo Pie

It's more like a filo 'lasagne' than a 'pie' coz the ingredients are all layered up, but instead of using pasta sheets, I used filo pastry sheets (which are much much thinner), so I am reluctant to call it a lasagne.

This recipe involves quite a few ingredients and steps - the spinach filling, the bechamel sauce, the construction using filo pastry and cheese, and then the actual baking. Since the filling and sauce can be made in advance, however, plus the fact that the filo pastry can be bought from a store, the actual 'making' of this dish was quite easy and quick.

Easy Peasy Spinach FIlo Pie serves 8


200grams spinach, frozen or fresh, chopped up and wilted.
200grams cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic minced
1 shallot minced
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
optional - chopped up smoked turkey breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pack small filo pastry squares
50 grams butter, melted
200grams shredded mozarella cheese


In a bowl, mix cheese and spinach well, add salt and pepper to taste.
In a saucepan, saute minced garlic and shallots in butter till slightly golden. Add the flour and stir until it's golden brown (This is called making the 'roux', a thickening agent). Add in the milk and stock and stir till thick. Add in the meat, if using, and salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375degF/190degC.
In a pie pan or casserole dish, arrange one layer of filo pastry squares at the bottom (it's ok to overlap). Brush some butter, then arrange another layer of filo. Spoon 1/3 of sauce over the bottom, then spread 1/3 of the spinach filling. Sprinkle 1/4 of the shredded cheese, then repeat the previous steps - one layer filo, brush with butter, 2nd layer filo, sauce, filling, cheese, until all the filling and sauce is finished. Arrange filo pastry squares that has been brushed with butter to form a lid, preferrably diagonally so that corners stick out like flower petals. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the filo pastry is browned.
Let cool before serving.

You would need a fork and knife to eat this coz the edges is kinda crunchy but the middle is kinda chewy.
My kids didn't like that they could still see the spinach, so maybe next time I'll mince them finer.

Happy Trying! :)