|August 23, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
The photo above is of me (in red) doing an Indian dance during a school concert. I was around 11-12 years old at the time. Next to me was my best friend – she’s Indian, btw – and my two Malay classmates. Our choreographer, trainer and instructor was none other than our Indian math/class teacher. I don’t really remember how I got roped into the whole thing except that my best friend told me that they were performing for the school concert and that I should try it out. At that time, I was hanging out at her place quite often and sampling Indian food, being exposed to Indian culture so I thought why not? Turned out to be one very interesting and memorable experience.
I grew up in a multicultural environment. I studied in a multicultural environment both at primary, secondary and tertiery level – my good friend in college were Malay and Maldivian respectively. I worked with people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups – I had lunch with my Malay and Indian colleges. In fact, at one office, I ate more chapatis, dhaal and Malay mix rice than I did Chinese food!
When I moved to France and Switzerland, I said goodbye to this and settled for a predominantly white-European environment. While there are a myriad of different cultures and communities in these two countries, they are not as prominent as in Malaysia or obvious – perhaps because I live in a small town and not in the cities where it is highly diverse and dynamic. In France, Eva was one of the handful of kids who had immigrant parents (me la) – there was a child whose parents were from Madagascar, another one from Algeria, one from China but that was it. Traditional costumes are not commonplace – in fact, at a school carnival, Eva was the only one dressed in one (a Nyonya outfit).
A far cry from my experience where people wore Punjabi suits and baju kurung to work, baju Melayu during Hari Raya, cheongsam for Chinese New Year, saris and lenghas for Deepavali, etc. Credit must be given to my hubby for being utterly supportive and even persistent about me exposing the kids (and others back in Europe) to Malaysian culture and heritage. He would insist that I wear a kebaya to a friend’s wedding even though it would have been cheaper for me to just go out and get a regular dress. Even made Eva wear the same Nyonya outfit as well.
So when we moved back to Malaysia, I jumped at the opportunity to expose my children to the very same things that I grew up with – the different foods, culture, festive occasions and so forth. Her kindy is filled with not just expats but locals as well (in fact, locals outnumber the expats) and her teachers are locals too. We arrived just before Hari Raya and got a chance to look at the various Raya decorations at shops.
A few days ago, I got a note from the school stating that they would be having a Raya party and children were asked to come in a traditional outfit. I had missed the Raya sale and while I could settle for a normal baju kurung and baju Melayu for the kids, I went and got the kids a lengha/lehnga and punjabi/ali baba-styled outfits. As Eva paraded around in her lengha/lehnga, I am reminded of my own multicultural experiences.
If there is anything amazingly awesome about being in Malaysia, it is this – a Chinese girl can dressed up in a sari and perform an Indian dance with both Indian and Malay dancers.
*Cross posted on the baby blog*
|August 2, 2013||Posted by Mabel under General|
Our new place in Penang is on the 18th floor and since its purchase, the owner has never seen the need to install grills for the windows or balcony sliding door (we are his first tenants in this unit). So while the owner scouted around for quotations, I set about babyproofing the home – at least temporarily. The children are actually house-proofed already. They know not to play with doors, switches, power sockets and so forth but the worrypot in me is still quite concerned about height-related safety. So we came up with a couple of cheap solutions – a piece of wood (to function as a lock for the sliding door), safety gate (with or without extensions) and adjustable cabinet locks.
While they work just fine, especially the safety gate which can be adult-proof too, my concern is more of the windows as I prefer something more “permanent” like grill. Those will be installed next week but until then, these cabinet locks will do just fine. At least it’s better than a fully open window (*heart attack moment*).
|July 9, 2013||Posted by Mabel under General, Parenthood|
…in Malaysia, that is.
We moved down to Malaysia – from France – last month and arrived at the worst time ever. The haze hit the capital city and its surrounding areas. On top of that, the heat was just terrible. Noah’s eczema flared up – the worst in over a year – and later, both kids caught a stomach bug which resulted in plenty of tantrums, bowls pushed aside and “super-glue” behaviour.
Now, a couple of weeks later, the kids are adjusting to the weather (and mozzies and all). We are heading out nearly every day for walks at the park, the neighbourhood, etc. Yesterday the kids went to the park nearby and enjoyed the kids’ play area. The slides, bridges and what-nots make the area large in comparison to the French playground in Dole. The floor isn’t entirely covered with rubber – normal with most public playgrounds here in Malaysia – but it’s still a fairly safe place for kids. A pity that it isn’t more well-maintained though (some sections had stagnant water on the slides due to the concave dip at the bottom of the slide, etc).
Earlier today, we made a trip to Aquaria KLCC via LRT. Eva wanted to go on the train and it was Noah’s first time on a metro train so why not? It was a pretty nice experience for the kids who got to experience a train ride and watched two feedings. The aquarium is small – reminiscent of the one in Paris but unlike the French one, Aquaria was cheaper. Exhibits are quite well maintained and the staff were ultra friendly – we had people assist us in finding the elevator, the toilet, etc. The kids, especially Noah, went bonkers during the feeding.
Food-wise, the kids have (re)discovered Indian snacks, tropical fruits (rambutan, mangosteen, durian too!), local delights (noodle, roti canai, etc) and came away enjoying it. We shy-ed away from imported fruits, vegetables and even meats as well as dairy because of the price. Imported fruits like cherries are selling for at least RM28 per kilo while you can get a heft 3 kilo bag of rambutans for RM10. The lack of cheese – I only bought a block of cheddar for the kids – also means that the adults, namely the hubs, are not packing on the weight from dairy products. Good for the stomach and the wallet too!
Now to find a playschool/kindy for the kids and get them settled into our new place in Penang! Tehehehe.
|May 30, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood|
“Good bye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.” – From the Fox & the Hound
On Sunday, I was hospitalised for bleeding. I was supposed to be 9-10 weeks pregnant with Bubs No 3. As the gynae examined me via a transvaginal ultrasound, his face changed. He began to look really grim.
“I’m so annoyed…hmpr. Sorry but I’m just annoyed because it doesn’t seem good.”
It was then that I got the news – I was having a miscarriage. There was an embryo but no heartbeat. Also it was small, too small for a 9-10 weeker. It seem that the pregnancy had stalled sometime around Week 6-7 of gestation. He ran through the options – because the size is still quite large, he can’t let me go home as he feared the bleeding might get out of control so I have to check in and then he’ll do a D&C the next day. Chances are, he said, it was a chromosomal defect but who knows?
I ran through the motions of being hospitalised. Everyone around me looked more devastated than I truly felt…to the point where I started feeling awkward.
Am I supposed to feel devastated and bawl my eyeballs out?
Am I suppose to collapse…or do something extreme?
Bubs No 3 was unplanned. In fact, I still remember screaming bloody murder at the hubby when I found out. Then we took a step back and said that this was a blessing, that many people out there want kids but can’t have any, that we were lucky and should be grateful. Despite the craziness of it all (packing, moving to another country), we began to look forward to an addition to the family.
Then Sun/Monday happened.
The first thing I could think of was “Dang, what am I going to tell my parents?” Then I gave the whole situation some thought. I could have easily just dwelt on the half empty glass – was it my fault? was it something I did? why now? why this? – but I chose to look at things differently.
My hubby asked me how I felt when I told him that I had to stay at the hospital. I didn’t sugarcoat my words but instead told him the truth – “I’m fine. The timing just wasn’t great.”.
Yes, I am sad but I am not devastated. Things happen for a reason. It always has. I want to look at the silver lining which is that I have two lovely children, that this is my body’s way of coping with a defect/problem, that this is perhaps God’s path for us. In a way, we can now focus on the move and the children, things won’t be so hectic and maybe then, it will allow us to consider if we want another child or not AND that I will be able to give my full attention to that baby.
Not feeling devastated doesn’t mean that I will forget. This is something that you just don’t chuck away in a corner, cover it with flowers or a cloth and say, voila, it’s over, time to forget about it. For the rest of my life, every time someone asks about my medical history, it’ll be there. Every time I look at ultrasound photos, I’ll be reminded of that little 6 weeker that I saw and of what could have been.
It may be another goodbye but it isn’t the end…
|May 1, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Thoughts & Emo-ness|
…from this coming M’sian General Election.
Always keep your head on your shoulders.
In the words, don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement. Fear can make people do crazy things…and so does anger and frustration. Always remind yourself that you are capable of rational thought and self-awareness.
Be informed at every step of your journey.
It’s important to know your environment, the situation and the people involved. Read up, question what you already know, talk to the RIGHT people (don’t just talk to any Tom, Dick & Harry) and form your own opinion. Herd mentality is very dangerous.
Have faith and courage.
A lot of things in life are out of our control. We can only do our best and leave the rest to God. Have faith in yourself, the people around you and God. It doesn’t hurt to have some faith. Do not be afraid to live even if it means facing challenges and conflicts that may hurt you or your family. Living helps us build character, memories and experiences – yes, as cheesy as it sounds, it is true. By living, we end up growing too – for better or worse.
Talk alone equals inaction.
Don’t just complain and rant if you’re unhappy. Do something. Channel your frustrations and annoyance at the situation into action. Be proactive. Be the change yourself instead of expecting others to change the situation for you. This is YOUR life and no one else’s.
Running away is not an answer.
Life is full of challenges and tests. Running away is not an answer to life’s conflicts and tests. It is easy, yes, no one will deny that, but a journey fought and fought well is something to be more proud of than a journey that you hide from.
I hope that one day, my children will look back and remember how my husband was there to support me as I casted my vote as a postal voter & how we try to set a good example for them.
|April 14, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Just Noah, Playtime Learning|
A while back, I’ve been giving Noah a free-hand with the pencils and paper lying around on Eva’s little table. He has been showing interest in his sister’s doodling and colouring activites much to her chagrin. (He is always pulling at her pants, trying to steal the paper from under her and even tossing aside the pencils and pens.)
While he is still a novice at drawing – he makes dots and very light doodles – it is clear that he is definitely exploring the creative aspect of things. At the moment, he seems to be gravitating towards making noise with the pencil or just exploring the shape & feel rather than doodle with it. But on some days, he is just like his sister – all doodles and scribbles.
For me, it doesn’t really matter if he likes doodling or not. As long as he’s happy and learning something. After all, creativity manifests itself in many aspects – music, painting, drawing, design work, baking, cooking…I should know. LOL.