Month: October 2014

In Preparation for BBW 2014

Big Bad Wolf (BBW) is coming!

So this year’s biggest books warehouse sale will be on 6-15 December 2014 – that’s another month to go, but I am all geared up. I am pretty sure I’d be heavier by that time, and it would not be as pleasurable as before, but cheap and good books don’t come easy.

Just like last year, I have no plan to buy books for myself. I buy books almost every other month from Kinokuniya according to my needs, and my husband mostly buys his books during the yearly Pesta Buku Antarabangsa at PWTC. So BBW sale is really for Isa’s little library.

I could see that Isa has transitioned from picture books to story books, but still loves his alphabet and number books as he still occasionally flips through them. He has begun to love story books to the extent of memorizing the story line and having them read aloud for him over and over again. BBW has a lot to offer on story books, but I prefer giving him Malay books (check out these books by PTS illustrated by the ever-amazing Emila Yusof, at only RM5!). Other non-story books that we have currently range from wild animals, shapes, colours, pets, numbers, alphabets, transportations (still his favourite topics) – so I am thinking, what else?

As Isa is fast approaching 3 years old next year, I tried to find out what kind of books suitable for age 3-4 which could differ from his current needs. Here are in general different types of children books (source: here , here and here):

1. Factual/informational books e.g. dictionaries, simple cyclopaedia – for topics of interest where he’d like to know in details. In my mind it’s definitely cars!
2. Wordless books – encourage free story telling. I don’t have any of these yet.
3. Rhythmic Books – will make reading predictable (and predictable means fun for the kids)
4. Fairy tales – can enrich imagination
5. Activity books – he can read and move his fingers too
6. Alphabet and number books – for reading and math readiness, but should be with good pictures and ‘stories’ as well
7. Nursery rhymes – can sing along
8. Participation books – books that invite the reader to respond

I am thinking perhaps for this book sale I should concentrate on finding informational books for Isa, in addition to activity books which come really, really cheap at BBW (books with puzzle cost around RM10-15) and have an extra long staying power. Extra books which I could keep their novelty to be used during needy days (e.g. when mommy is sick or super busy) could be Isa’s favourite Thomas & Friends books (listed as RM5 each on the website). Isa has enough books on shapes, alphabets, numbers, transports, colours, animals and such, so I may need to stock up a bit more of books focusing on routine things e.g. daily life activities (I’ve spotted some suitable titles from the website).

Oh, I am so high!

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Reading List : October 2014 Update

I went to Kinokuniya the other day, looking for some homeschooling books. I have searched on its website before that, but was disappointed to know that many of the books suggested by homeschooling moms around the Net are available upon order only. I thought I’d go to the bookstore anyway (Isa was kidnapped by the grandparents, so it’s just perfect for book-browsing) and see what they have in stock.

It turns out that Kinokuniya really doesn’t have many books on homeschooling (I do not wonder why, it’s illegal here in Malaysia except for very few exceptions) but I still buy two books.

One of them is Learning at Home: A Mother’s Guide to Homeschooling  by Marty Layne. Since this week was a parenting/education book of a different style than Einstein Never Used Flashcards, I managed to finish it in, guess what, four days! I intend to share a few notes on what I found interesting in this book (not much, but some are truly useful) in another post, God willing.

So my read list goes like this, now:

  1. Al Muhaddithat
  2.  Sustainability is for Everyone
  3.  Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Reread)
  4. PhD: Kecil Tapi Signifikan
  5. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  6. Ukuran Pembangunan Pendekatan Kapitalis dan Islami
  7. Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
  8. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
  9. Learning at Home: A Mother’s Guide to Homeschooling

I am currently reading three books:

  1. Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart
  2. Development as Freedom
  3. The Playful Parent: 7 Ways to Happier, Calmer, More Creative Days with Your Under-Fives

One of them is in the list because my Professor has made in near compulsory to read (in fact for my first term paper I had to use the book – Development as Freedom – intensively). The third one is the book I bought along with Learning at Home. The first book is well, a true gem that I am taking my own sweet time to finish it.

Anyway, I am still one book behind, to date,  to achieve my 12 books a year target (shame on me!).

 

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This entry is part of my ‘Read-a-Book-a-Month’ attempt.

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The Love that Knows No Boundaries

My parents were around for nearly two weeks. As usual they would split their time between my sister’s place and mine, so that they can spend time with their two grandchildren.

However now that I am pregnant with their third grandchild (and most probably their first granddaughter), the attention was split even further, with some given to the cravings of the pregnant lady. Oh, am I not lucky that way!

Yesterday, upon coming back from the mosque for early morning prayer, my father told us he has made new friends, and had breakfast with them. He described specifically the breakfast he had – glutinous rice with salted fish. And I started to salivate straight away. To which, of course, my parents reacted. They said they had a pack of uncooked glutinous rice in their car, that we could have it for dinner!

So we had the traditional meal I wanted for dinner that evening – glutinous rice, with shred coconut, some salted fish and my mom’s anchovies ‘sambal’. Alhamdulillah.

And since I have discreetly said that I wish I could have black glutinous rice sweet porridge (bubur pulut hitam) – which I usually dislike when I am not pregnant – my mom also made a full pot of that last night.  I am yet to taste it since I was so full with the dinner I could not even handle the porridge for dessert.

This morning, while we were having our final breakfast together before they left, my mom asked if I would like to have cabbage cooked with coconut rice cooked – she told me my dad asked him to prepare that dish since I have mentioned that I love it so much. I declined.

I mean, it was not even a complicated dish to make (takes me less than 10 minutes to prepare) but I guess parents are parents and they have this weird, unconditional love that has no boundaries.

O Allah, grant them happiness and have mercy on them parents.

Cameron Highlands with a Toddler

I could feel that my husband was craving for another getaway when he asked me to check whether there would be another destination we’d like to go to during Air Asia was having a massive mark down. Then we realised that we only have a short window of time still opened now that I am in my second trimester. Come third trimester I’d be too heavy to be adventurous, and most airlines won’t accept me as their passenger. Then come the baby – and yeah, I don’t fancy travelling with a baby less than six month old.

If we were to go somewhere now, we were left with less choices. It’s the end of the year, and most beaches on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and in Borneo are no longer perfect for visiting with the monsoon coming.

So we were left with inland vacation – the only place I could think of was Cameron Highlands, which I have visited at least twice, and my husband probably none. Perfect, I thought!

Is Cameron Highlands suitable for toddlers?

Yes! Plenty of things to do and none of them really takes a long time before you finish looking at everything (save you from having a toddler throwing tantrums out of boredom). However, some of the places are not buggy/stroller-friendly. Suitable for toddlers who are in the phase of learning about animals, and perhaps (this is my assumption) for little girls who may have started to appreciate pretty flowers – my son doesn’t (as much as I hoped).

How should we schedule our trip?

I’ll skip the part on how to get there, though if you can, please use the route from Simpang Pulai instead of Tapah, especially if you are pregnant in your first trimester i.e. bound to feel nauseous. It is a more comfortable route to use if you have a bunch of screaming children on your back seats.

As my travelling principle revolves around being Free & Easy and making sure Isa is in his best mood (i.e. he has his nap comfortably and most importantly enough), my itinerary was pretty relaxed. We stayed there for three nights, and with the weather being a bit wet (it’s nearly rainy season), we got to do everything I planned for. Well, almost. I’ll explain later.  What I should have done better was to not over estimate the time needed to enjoy each places visited. As I have said before, most places we went to don’t require more than 2 hours. But, here is the big BUT, during weekends the traffic in Cameron Highlands is extremely terrible. It took us one hour to move less than 4 km. Weekdays may be a better option.

My itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: 

  • Left KL around 10:00 AM, and arrived at Simpang Pulai (check point where we met my parents) for lunch around 1:30PM
  • Reached Hotel Copthorne around 3 PM, checked-in and rest.
  • After the pregnant mom has her rest, we went out to the Night Market at Brinchang little town.

Day 2:

  • Left hotel after breakfast for the Big Red Strawberry Farm at Brinchang. Excused ourselves from visiting the Cactus farm nearby though.
  • Went to Sg Palas BOH Tea Plantation. It rained heavily so we had our short mid day tea break over there before heading back to the hotel.
  • Left Isa with my parents to get lunch for them from KFC. Reached hotel only at 3:30 PM
  • Rest for the rest of the day because it rained heavily.

Day 3:

  • Left hotel after breakfast for the Lavender Garden at Tringkap.
  • Went to Ee Feng Gu Bee Farm at Kea Farm after that.
  • Had lunch at Tanah Rata.
  • Went back to Hotel through massive traffic jam.
  • Went out to Brinchang ‘town’ for dinner. Stopped by a roadside market on the way back to the hotel.

Day 4:

  • Left hotel after breakfast for Rose Centre at Kea Farm.
  • Did some shopping at Kea Farm market.
  • Checked-out and left Cameron Highlands.

Best places to stay in Cameron Highlands?

If you are coming from Tapah, towards the highest reachable place i.e. Kea Farm, you will pass through Ringlet first, then Tanah Rata, then Kea Farm. If you are coming from Simpang Pulai, upon climbing upwards (in a car, of course), you will see Blue Valley, then Kg. Raja, then further uphill would be Tringkap, before you reach Kea Farm.

We stayed at Kea Farm (where the Copthorne Hotel is), and I am pretty happy with the choice given that it has better view (not saying the best view of the farms, it’s subjective) because I don’t prefer an accommodation in a town, though that will make it easier to find good places to eat. Those nearby the Sultan Ahmad Shah Golf Club would offer reasonably good view of nature too, but I suspect the price tags are not any cheaper.

If you don’t prefer breakfasts at the hotel, then perhaps a better choice would be any accommodation at Brinchang or Tanah Rata where you’d have better access to restaurants, food courts and stalls.

I will continue with posts on specific places we visited in Cameron Highlands soon!

 

Sunrise at Cameron Highlands

I sprinted to finish off my first assignment as a Master student yesterday, and submitted it as early as I could and we began our journey to Cameron Highlands. It is one of the places you’ll go in Malaysia if you miss the chilling European weather (but that’s not my reason) – it’s practically 17 degree Celsius last evening, and with light shower it felt much colder.

My parents are with us – so happy to have them around. I remember those days, even with limited amount of money they had, they would still make the effort to bring us somewhere special whenever I was about to sit for big, important exams.

This morning I was greeted by this view from our room on the 10th floor of the hotel, somewhere 1620m above the sea level.

Subhanallah.

Of a Secure Man

What constitutes a secure man? I have come across not few instances of men who act out of their insecurity in their relationship and I cringed each time. That is partly because I married to the most wonderful, secure man in the world – Alhamdulillah – and because of these men I met who are so different from the man I marry, I am able to list some traits of what I think manifest a man’s security:

  • is unafraid of what others are saying about his choices
  • allows his woman to grow, not just as a wife, but as a person
  • not confined by standards set by the society in terms of beauty – including about himself
  • unafraid of his woman’s achievements and strength
  • leads, not demands and controls
  • educates, not forces. After all, force can only ensure a one-off compliance, while education induces self-initiated change which lasts longer (though may take time to see the results)
  • allows his decisions to be challenged and improved as he values truth more than he values the notion of man as the absolute decision-maker
  • doesn’t sweat the small stuff in a relationship
  • confident with his woman’s choice – that’s him as a life partner – which entails him not being overly jealous and controlling. If he believes that his woman makes only the best decisions, why would he doubt her decision to choose and marry him over other men?

What do you think?

p.s. Nearly a month ago,  my husband cum soul mate cum best friend cum ultimate sweetheart cum intellectual sparring partner cum love of my life who is undeniably – I have to reiterate here – the most secure man I have ever met, has turned 27. If you are reading this, please know that I thank you so much for being that and saves me from all the headaches. Happy birthday love!

 

Eid-ul Adha 2014

 

This Eidul Adha we spent it at my in-law’s place, and Isa had a great time having every uncles and aunt’s attention. We brought him along to the mosque for the Eid prayer, and my husband reported that he behaved well (by the way, we arrived just in time before the prayer started), and got to see the cows and goats that were to be sacrificed.

And I have to say, Isa looked so adorable (I mean, which mom would not think her child NOT adorable) in that ‘jubah’ my mom bought him 😀

Eid Mubarak my readers, may the year bring you blessings and happiness!