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MH17 : Lost Forever

July 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Photo taken at Frankston Beach, Melbourne in Feb 2014

By now, you’ve all heard that on 17 July 2014 (4 months after the MH370 tragedy), MH17 – a Boeing 777-200ER travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur  was shot down by a Surface-to-air missile near the Russian-Ukraine border. Everyone on board perished. Why this senseless murder happened is beyond me. When reading about the news in the papers, I couldn’t help but shed some tears. Aidan was next to me and asked me why I was crying? I cannot even imagine how the 295 people on board must have felt. I cannot imagine how much of sorrow and anger is running through the victims’ families and loved ones.

This is a grim reminder to us all to stop sweating over the small stuff.

Put away our distractions.

Focus on our family and loved ones.

Take the time to listen to our children.

Because we can’t control what will happen in the future but we sure as hell can control our time now with our loved ones.

May the souls of MH17 victims rest in peace.

Amen.

Monster High – Frights, Camera, Action!

July 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The timing was just perfect. We didn’t know what to get for Ashley’s birthday and then in comes an email BrandThink Malaysia on behalf of Mattel  offering to send us the latest installment of the Monster High doll – Frights, Camera ,  Action! along with the DVD in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, Ashley is a big fan of Monster High so this was a no-brainer. She has a huge collection of Monster High dolls and was very pleased to have Lagoona Blue added to her growing collection.  Her current favorite Monster High doll is of course Lagoona Blue since it is the newest addition to her collection. She’s always reaching out for it while the others take a back seat.

Both Aidan and Ashley watched the Frights, Camera, Action! ‘boovie’ (movie) .  The movie is about how the Monster High ghouls set out on a journey to find the true Queen of the Vampires. If you are new to Monster High, parents need to know that these ghouls are a bunch of high school students and like most high school students, they are preoccupied with celebrity crushes and have boyfriends or girlfriends. There are also instances where some couples hug, briefly kiss and call each other stupid/loser/cray-cray so if you’re concerned in exposing your child(ren) to these,  well, you’ve been warned :) Nevertheless, my kids have watched all the Monster High movies and we are ok with it.

What do they like about the movie?
Ashley appreciates the play with words in the movie  - how London is called Londoom, Hollywood is called Hauntlywood, New Orleans is called New Gorleans…you get the drift. As for Aidan, he enjoys being with his sister – even if he has to sit through a Monster High movie :)

Dinoscovery by Dinosaurs Live!

July 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Last month, we were given the opportunity to visit the Dinoscovery by Dinosaurs Live! exhibition at Avenue K. This was similar to the Dinosaurs Live! Exhibition we went to at the National Science Museum 2 years ago except that this time round, they have brought it up a few notches.

Upon entering the exhibition,  the kids were transformed into a Paleontologist. Each were given a vest, a Dino Quest map, an RFID wrist band to help the kids with their scavenger hunt for dinosaur’s specimens, and the leader of the group was given a hat with a torchlight. Our group consisted of 4 kids and 3 adults. The adults were mainly there to supervise while the kids were doing all the work.

As we entered, we sat down to listen to a briefing about Dinosaurs on TV for about 5 minutes. After the briefing , the Dino Quest begun. The RFID wristband is a dino detector and will flash every time we were near a hidden specimen.

There were screens at each specimen and the kids had to flash their RFID wristband on the screen to find out the hidden specimens. After that, they had to paste the correct sticker (which were given along with the map) onto the correct spot as shown on the map.

One thing I’ve noticed though that Aidan (7yo) and Aaron (7.5yo) were more focused on finding the hidden specimens and were not so interested in the facts. They just wanted to finish the scavenger hunt as fast as possible so that they could be certified as a Junior Paleontologist.  As for Ashley (9yo), she took her time at each specimen to read up about the facts instead. There were also a set of questions at the back of the map where if they are answered correctly, they would be  a certified Expert Paleontologist. She worked with hubs to ensure that all the questions were answered.

There also other attractions which the kids enjoyed such as wall climbing to take a peek at a Pteranodon’s eggs, 10-metre race with a Gallimimus dinosaur (which btw was the fastest dinosaur in the world) , Dinoshooting range and lots more.

That’s Aidan on the left and Aaron on the right. The boys didn’t manage to take a peek at the Preranodon’s eggs though but Ashley managed to.


For Dinoshooting, each kid was given 8 pellets to shoot with. Though it was fun cause the kids were trigger happy, the kids didn’t know what the objective of the game was. There was someone there to assist the kids with the mask and load the pellets into the gun but no instructions and guidelines were given on how to hold the gun or what to look out for. That, we thought could be improved so that the kids could maximize their experience with Dinoshooting. By the time they realized  what needs to be done, they were done with their 8 pellets.

The kids enjoyed racing with the Gallimimus dinosaur.

Towards the tail end of the exhibition,  there was a playarea for younger kids.

There was also a 3D theater which filmed a documentary about dinosaurs – of which the kids were not interested at all. They played at the playarea instead!

We finished the exhibition in an hour.

The exhibition is open now until Feb 2015 and is open everyday including public holidays.

For more information about the Dinoscovery by Dinosaur Live! Exhibition, check out their official website.

My Little Helpers

June 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

We’ve had live-in domestic helpers for the past few years and now that our help has gone back for good, the kids have been more independent as well.  It’s a good thing that they are old enough to help around the house.

Seen here is a picture of Ashley making her own instant noodles (supervised of course). She loooooooves Mee Sedap. We let her eat it once in a while. She was pretty proud of her accomplishment.

This lil dude is also a very willing helper. He cleaned the dining table today after lunch and washed up after that. A little encouragement goes a long way :)

I jokingly asked him if we require a domestic helper.

He said, “No need. We can save the money.”

What a sweetheart right????

A Short Getaway – Ubud (16 – 18 May 2014)

June 19, 2014 at 4:20 pm

It was a spontaneous getaway. I felt like getting away to chill with my girl friends. The usual suspects. Unfortunately 2 of them were not able to make it during  the suggested time frame and KP originally planned on going for a solo trip to Ubud and invited me to join her instead.

So I did just that.

Bought the plane ticket on the same day and in less than a week, we flew to Denpasar - she from Jakarta and me from Kuala Lumpur and met up at Warung Made at Seminyak. The poor girl waited for me for hours because she flew in on an earlier flight –  plus it took me ages at the immigration at Denpasar. After taking some light snacks to settle my growing belly, we headed to Ubud. (We hired a driver for the day as it turned out to be cheaper than cabbing). About 1.5 hours later, we arrived at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa.

This resort was so nice and peaceful. It wasn’t fully occupied and I definitely felt very zen! The purpose of this trip was so we could rest and relax and that was exactly what we did!

So by the time we arrived at the resort, it was already in the evening. We got a corner room and got a breathtaking view of the padi fields.

The room was decorated nicely and I must say that I was very pleased by how well maintained the place is.

The bed faces the day bed – which can easily fit another adult.

This is the entrance. To the left is the bathroom. Surprisingly though, I didn’t take a picture of the bathroom – and it is a very lovely bathroom. Funnily enough, I actually enjoyed taking my shower in that bathroom. I know, quite an odd thing to say but the room wasn’t a typical hotel room. A lot of though has been put into the design and furniture used.

This is another picture of the beds taken during the day.

After settling down, we headed to Naughty Nuri’s Warung. Apparently there are 2 outlets at Ubud. The one we went to is at Jl. Raya Sanggingan (Depan Musium Neka), Ubud, Gianyar. Phone (0361) 977547. They are famous for their BBQ pork ribs here. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived there, all the ribs were sold out :(. We did however order other dishes e.g. pork steak, pork burgers, wedges and some german sausages. One thing to note though that the BBQ pit is situated at the front of the warung hence it’s best to dress casually and not get your hair done for dinner because you will definitely leave the place smelling of all the smoke from the BBQ :)

The next morning, while I slept in, KP went for a yoga class organized by the hotel (for free).  And by the time she got back, we got ready and headed to the breakfast hall for breakfast. We were very pleased with the breakfast spread.

See? Needless to say, we went for seconds and thirds….fourths maybe but by the time we walked out of there, my tummy was ready to explode. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was our breakfast spot for 2 days.

See the straw bag on the right? That was in the closet in our room which was provided by the hotel. It’s details like this which makes me a very happy customer. They make sure that you’re at least handbag-ready for your holiday!

The hotel provides shuttle bus service to the city at regular intervals. We decided to go into the city to do a bit of shopping.

A trip to Ubud is not complete if you don’t at least try the Babi Guling!

It was a hot day out and after lunch, we headed back to the hotel to chill.

There are 2 swimming pools at the resort. This one is next to the spa which overlooks the Petanu River Vaslley if I am not wrong. It was indeed very peaceful. I cannot imagine my kids being there at that moment because their boisterousness would kill the zen-nes of it all.

We then adjourned to the other pool which was closer to the main building and chilled out.

Every day from 4-5pm (or was it until 6pm), they offered tea and snacks to the guests. (Part of the package). The snacks were great – especially the chocolate moist cake which I had many many pieces of.

For dinner, we took a cab from the hotel to Bebek Bengil. Also a must try if you’re every at Ubud.

The food was great – and of course so was the company :)

After dinner, the restaurant got a driver to send us back to the hotel for free. It’s a service which they provide to their customers. So if you’re worried on how to go back, well, worry not.

The next day, after a scrumptious breakfast, we chilled out by the pool for a couple of hours before we checked out of the hotel and head to the airport. On the way to the airport, we stopped by at Cafe Batu Jimbar at Sanur.

We had some local food. Again, it was so yummy. (p.s I love Indonesian food!)

KP lives in Jakarta and has been to Bali many times. Hence, lucky me !!! cause she knows the good places to go to to eat! :)

After our last meal at Sanur, we headed to the airport and parted ways.

It was a short getaway but we definitely achieved what we wanted out of the weekends – to rest, relax, chill and eat!

I would definitely go back to Bali again!

Avillion, Port Dickson (10-12 May 2014)

June 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Last month, we decided to take a short trip to Port Dickson (in conjunction with Aidan’s birthday and Mother’s Day) and stay at the same old place we used to stay at i.e. Avillion. As usual, we bought the Kiddies Treat package (for 2 adults and 2 kids). As expected though, the price of the package has increased with nothing-to-shout-about items which they have changed/included from the last time we stayed at  Avillion. Here are the current details of the package I extracted from their official website :

Package starts from RM 1,020++ inclusive of:

1. 2 nights stay with breakfast for 2 adults and up to 2 children 
2. Daily buffet breakfast for 2 adults and up to 2 children –> this is by far the best highlight of the package for me. The breakfast spread was really good.
3. 1 buffet dinner for 2 adults and up to 2 children –> this was by far the crappiest dinner we had. It was supposed to be a buffet dinner but on that day, I guess they didn’t have buffet for dinner so they served us what seemed like leftover food which was defrosted. They served Szechuan chicken which was spicy (like hello? Kiddies treat package? My kids don’t eat spicy food), fish in some soup, mutton curry and can’t remember what was the other dish but it was terrible and disappointing.
4. Kids’ activity: batik painting or ceramic painting –> the kids went for batik painting and got to bring back their work of art.
5. Pirate ship 3D puzzle –> they used to give a bunch of picnic toys before. My kids preferred the toys cause they didn’t bring their stuff that trip hoping to get it free from the hotel. Oh well. Too bad.
6. 30 minutes use of Water Bee –> The kids enjoyed this one.  However, the hubs wasn’t too pleased as he had to do all the work in paddling the Water Bee.

7. Minibar basket –>They used to give out coupons for ice cream and milk float before.

Anyhow, besides the changes to the package, the kids did enjoy themselves because their cousin were there. However, the water slide didn’t appeal to them as much as before as because they probably outgrew it.

Ashley with cousin Noella

That said, they could stay in the water for hours! My parents came along with us as well and the hubs and I took the opportunity to swim at the adults-only pool – which was our first time that trip. The adults-only pool is as seen in the photo below.

The pool was nice and quiet and best of all, the water is heated!

Cousin Aaron and Aidan playing footsie with a balloon. Too bad we didn’t bring a football for them.

One of the reasons why this place is a hit with the kids is because there is a pet farm and the peacocks especially are free to roam about the compound.

At a specific time, the pet farm is open for the guests to pet and feed the animals.

On the first night, we had dinner at El Cactus – which was a 5-min drive away from the hotel. They serve Mexican food and frankly, I think their standard has dropped tremendously and it’s very unlikely we will go back there again. We missed the buffet dinner at the hotel that night. We were looking for the buffet dinner the next day but unfortunately, they didn’t have buffer dinner that evening! :(

Anyhow, I doubt we will go back to Avillion again. If we do, we’d probably stay at the Garden Chalet (as opposed to the Water Challet) which is cheaper. I think it’s time we explore other places :) The reason why we kept going back there was because it’s a small hotel and it’s only 1.5hr-drive away from KL.

What To Do When Your Domestic Helper Leaves Malaysia For Good

June 5, 2014 at 10:17 am

Photo taken on 8 Dec 2012 at Sekinchan

So, our kakak has gone back home to Philippines last night. She should have arrived at her home town by now.  Although there were ups and downs, I must say that she has helped us a lot for the last 2 years. There were stumbling blocks at first when she tried to test her boundaries and all but as an employer, I told her from the start that this is like a business arrangement.

Make it professional.

She helps me.

I help her.

I told her that we didn’t want any nonsense. She works, we give her a comfortable place to stay and make sure that she doesn’t go hungry and she gets paid at the end of each month. If she wanted something, all she had to do was ask. If we weren’t happy with anything, we told her upfront.

No grudges kept.

It’s all handled professionally.

Of course, we didn’t expect her to work like a dog from dawn to dusk. She took naps in the afternoons and we closed one eye to it. She watched TV while we were not around – we didn’t make a big fuss out of it. At the end of the day, she is only human.

After her first year, we let he go out with our neighbour’s helper once a month. She’d come back happy and recharged.

Win-win.

Unfortunately though, she didn’t want to renew her contract. 4 months ag0, she agreed to extend another year from June 2014 but 1 month ago, I guess she changed her mind after that. She intended to go back home and never come back even after I planned to renew her contract. I thought that was very devious of her. She shared her plans to my sis’ helper and my sis’ helper told us about our kakak’s plan. Basically, she was trying to screw us over. All we expected was  honesty. Anyway, upon confronting her about renewing her contract for the 3rd time, she finally confessed that she didn’t want to renew her contract.

Contrary to what she may have expected us to react,we accepted and respected her decision.

So before your Pinoy helper can hop onto the plane and go back home, her work permit needs to be cancelled at the immigration office. You can do it yourself at the Immigration office at Sri Hartamas or Putrajaya and it’s free. All you have to do is bring her passport and copy of her 1-way flight from KL  to PH. The immigration office will produce 3 checkout memos. 1 copy to be kept by the employer and 2 copies to be given to the immigration officer at the airport when she checks in at the airport. I would have done it myself but when  I went to the immigration office at Sri Hartamas, the bloody system was down. I called them the next day and the system was still down and no way was I going to Putrajaya ….so I paid RM150 for my agent to do it for me.

Sponsored Video : Lifebuoy – Tree of Life

June 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

I haven’t done sponsored posts lately but this one has struck a chord in my heart. Many of us are oblivious to how good we have it. Healthy children, good support system, financial stability, clean water  but we tend to take things for granted and not realize that there are people out there who’s simple wish is to be able to celebrate their child’s 5th birthday.   Lifebuoy is on a mission to help celebrate every child’s 5th birthday by stopping the spread of preventable diseases which cause 5,000 children under 5 to die every day. In one of our neighboring countries – Indonesia, in Utari’s village, a tree is planted at a child’s birth. In such villages, many children lose their lives before their 5th birthday to diseases like diarrhea that could be prevented through washing hands. All that remains, as in Utari’s case, is the tree. The simple act of hand washing can prevent many life-threatening diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.   Last year, Lifebuoy adopted Thesgora, India and by teaching healthy hand washing habits, reduced incidents of diarrhea from 36% to 5%. That’s a significant improvement if you ask me. This year they will adopt Bitobe, Indonesia.

What can you do to help?

Simple.

Do your part to help children reach their birthday by sharing this video and Utari’s story on social media with #helpachildreach5,

Indeed, nothing can surpass the love of a mother for her child or the sadness of losing a child.

Post sponsored by Lifebuoy.

I’ve Got Mail!

June 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Ok, so it looks like my online shopping habit hasn’t ceased. I love the convenience of online shopping. Hassle free. No need to drive out, get stuck in traffic, park etc. As long as I know exactly what I need, I get them online. I recently discovered Luxola - an online beauty store which is based in Singapore. I was looking for something in particular and googled it and Luxola came up.

So I got my package this morning. I totally forgot that I ordered this and hence the arrival of a postman at my doorstep was a  pleasant surprise indeed.

I ordered a Sigma Round Kabuki – F82 brush and they gave me a free sample of Rachel K Cleaning Gel.  I discovered this makeup brush in one of the YouTube Makeup Guru’s videos and had to try it with my liquid foundation and BB cream.

So yay! for now. I don’t have to rely on shopping assistants to order them from U.S anymore. I can now order makeup and beauty products from online stores in Malaysia and Singapore.

Can’t wait to try this new baby!

Getting Busy with Household Chores

June 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

I’m going to take a break from my Hong Kong holiday posts which, by the way is not finished yet. Tomorrow, our Filipino domestic helper will be going back to her country for good. I’m thankful for the help that she has given to us so far although there were ups and downs.  Nevertheless, as long as she helped us and we helped her financially, it’s a win-win situation for both parties. We’ve always emphasized to the kids that we cannot totally rely on domestic helpers because one fine day, we are going to do without one. My kids put their dirty laundry into the laundry basket (sometimes after being nagged at), they place their dirty dishes into the kitchen sink after every meal and clean up after their own mess (also after being nagged at too).  The point is that  I don’t want the presence of a domestic helper to cripple their ability to do simple tasks. The main reason why we hired a full time one was because I work from home full time and am in conference calls alot throughout the day and I need someone to oversee the kids and make sure the household chores are done and the meals are cooked. Now that the kids are older, we thought we could make do with just a part time helper as opposed to a full time helper until we discovered that we have another bun in the oven.

(*Warning : Proud  mama tooting her horns*) Aidan takes pride in pouring a glass of water for everyone before each meal and he’d hand out a piece of tissue to everyone on the table. He does this without being reminded to do so. I like this in him. He takes pride in the little things.

Last Sunday, I set out to do some spring cleaning. I decided to tackle the store room under the staircase. When Aidan realized what I was doing, he put down his toy and offered his services.  Very sweet boy this one.

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