This has been the most hectic month of the year. There is only two days left and I must complete my thoughts for 2010 before 2011 begins.

Lots have happened in this one month. Invigilation took a major part of my time. Made keropok. Then NeeChia and family came. That was really a major event. Infact it is still not over yet. We travelled all the way south and now up north. I think the kids have covered more than half of the peninsula. No pictures here....uploaded them all into my facebook. Don't have the time to blog on them.

Then it was christmas. Another busy busy time. Rather low key this year because I wasn't well but the others like my mom in law, KC and NeeChia did quite a bit to help me out. Not to forget Ah Yean who took over the cleaning.

Kids were real busy with their carolling practises. They sang at Terminal 1 and 2. The carollers did a wonderful job this year and the commitment amongst them was great. Now Lyn is off to Youth Quake and Dan is having great fun with his cousins. I feel that I have not spent enough time with my children this holiday.

Dan had a fall. Frightened all of us. Spent RM200plus for his checkup and x-ray. Thank God; nothing serious. Then I myself fell seriously ill. Lost my voice and had fever for quite a few days. Finally when Christmas came, I was flat. Slept most of the time.

Now...it's meeting non-stop in school. So work has begun. What can I say except the holiday is full to the brim and I need another holiday from my holiday!!!

I am not sure how prepared we are to face 2011. At least for me, I have started going to school and it's like a prelude to 2011. I'm afraid my kids are going to have anti-climax on 1st January when reality hits them that holiday is over and school is starting. It's going to be an important year for them as they will be having major exams. Well, they have played hard this time; so study hard the next year!!
The kids returned from carolling last night past 12am. The cousins were so excited to see them because my kids had been out the whole afternoon and night.

They took a can shandy and passed round. Stood around the dining area and talked and talked.

KC and I went up first as KC has to work today. Then suddenly Lyn had the urge to play the piano!! I rushed out to tell her to keep the tone down as the dad and the uncle were trying to sleep.

When I opened my door I saw these 3 young boys walking up the stairs talking. Dan was removing his tie and said, 'It's just like we've gone to the pub, we've just drunk beer!!!'
Woke up this morning and found my voice totally gone. I could hardly make myself heard. I remembered losing my voice like this eleven years ago. (no pain; just voiceless.) I have to whisper when I talk. It's quite frustrating when you want to be heard and nothing comes out.

Back to reminiscing eleven years ago, KC was in the US when it happened. Early one morning (before 6pm), aunty Vivian phoned and asked if I heard about KPing (KC's second brother). Said he passed away...my heart almost stopped. It was like a joke. I whispered loudly into the phone and said no. She asked if I wanted to go Mantin with her to check and see what was happening, I said I couldn't go because KC wasn't home and I couldn't leave my baby alone. Phoned 7R and there was no answer; everybody had gone to Mantin.

I called Ing and whispered to her that KPing passed away. She couldn't hear me too well and thought KC passed away. What drama; she called Vancouver to inform our family there about it. What a shock I had when I found out how the news was misunderstood all because I couldn't make myself heard!!!

I'm going to the airport now to meet Neechia and family. I can't phone them because I can't talk over the phone. Hope Neechia knows how to sms by now.
I was hanging the laundry one morning when I saw this in the sky. An X across the sky. Looks real nice.



DIY

One of the places that we love to visit is Ikea. We just enjoy walking through the big store, looking at how the furniture is arranged and the variety of stuff that one can have in the house. It is from Ikea that we get some ideas on how to arrange our own house.

Besides looking at the furnishing; we love the restaurant too. It is a must for us to eat the beefballs served in some kind of sauce and jam. Before leaving the store, I will always buy the frozen beefballs and sauce to make our own at home. This time I am so greedy; I bought two packets of the beefballs (1kg each). Of course, we have to pack the currypuffs to eat on our journey home.

This trip to Ikea, we bought a coffee table to fill up our living hall. KC prefers the hall empty; looks more spacious. I managed to convince him the table would look good in the hall with a carpet at the bottom.


Ikea stuff is DIY....we've done plenty of this based on the leaflets provided. Pretty simple. I've fixed a few myself too.

The final product.
This is the busiest holiday ever. I just 'merdeka' yesterday....finished my invigilation. I came home to a house full of kids n people, the porch muddy because the kids played water balloons again, dining table laden with fish curry, crabs, sardine curry.....enough to eat for a few days. Not complaining here but trying to commit everything in my memory to blog so I will remember it again next time when I read it. That was my view of the house when I stepped in.

Ing promised to send the kids to Jusco on her way to the toll...she was snoring on the sofa at 2.30pm. I quickly rushed them to the mall because they had only an hour to spend. At 3.15pm, Ing was still lazing on the sofa. I had to rush everybody again because I need to leave the house to pick the kids up and send mine for carolling practice and neechia for dental appointment.

At 5.15pm, I was off again to pick neechia from dental clinic and send her and family to Nilai to meet Suzane. Reached home 6.45pm; warmed up the rice and rushed off to church to pick kids up. What a day!!!

It's the beginning of my real holiday and I can see myself busy like this till early next year. Must learn to stop every now and then to take a breather so that I will be energized again.

Thursday I have PIBG meeting, 27th there is staff meeting (can't attend because away with my neechia and family). I believe other meetings are scheduled before school reopens. I need to make a trip back home before the year ends to say hi to my father.

This is a different holiday. Anyway....I managed to make 8kg of keropok...eaten 1kg already!!! Not sure how much will be left for CNY.
The cousins arrived yesterday. Ing thought they were touching ground at 12pm; but I remembered Nee Chia mentioned 1pm in her email. Noni came to massage us and she was done with me at 12pm. Ing started rushing me saying that we were late. By the time we left the house; it was past 12.30pm. I suggested we take the kampung road through LBJ but I wasn't sure of the route. So I asked her to lead the way(we had to take two cars). She drove like a madwoman! In the kampung road she was hurtling away at about 100km/hr and most of the time I was left behind. When we hit the four lanes; she just zoomed off; way ahead of me doing about 130km/hour (I think). I lost her even though I was doing 100km/hr. When I reached the roundabout, I panicked...didn't know which road to take. I did a 360degree trying to decide where to turn to. Finally I turned 9 o'clock. Then she phoned, saying that she was waiting for me at the 12o'clock turn. I was so angry with her...told her to just go on her own and I will find my own way there. When I reached a junction, I saw her car hurtling past at great speed (hah...my route was correct and faster). By the time I came out of the car; my hands were totally cold and shaking....I will never ever follow her again. (We found out later that she was mistaken about the time).

Anyway...back to the topic; the kids played water balloon this morning after a heavy breakfast at alWazer. The balloons came all the way from Vancouver. There are different from the normal balloons; thin and small; meant for water fights.


Jackie watched in anticipation as the boys get the balloons ready. Wasn't easy. Christina filled them up; passed to Dan; Dan passed them to Mark to tie.

Hard at work getting the balloons ready...the whole back porch was totally wet. Had to remind them over and over not to run as it was really slippery.

Dan holding his hose; ready for the fight.


Mark still struggling filling up the balloons. He was already wet before the fight began. He loves playing with water. He wasn't hesitant to roll across the wet floor to catch a runaway balloon. After playing; he just picked up the pail of water and poured the water on himself. It's summer!!

Ok...ready; one with the balloon; the other with a hose ready to hit it. I don't think he managed to hit any.

Nice throw....Mark has gaya like a baseball player. That's bonding for them. They left after NeeChia's dental appointment with Eric. They are now in Sitiawan attending a wedding dinner; Tien's daughter's wedding. (that is our cousin's daughter....rather distant...don't even know who she is.)




One of Dan's duty is to dry and keep away containers into the cabinets. Don't think he enjoys it much but he tries to make it fun. He will arrange the containers like the twin towers. This time he believes he has stacked the tallest tower; he made me take pictures of it to blog.
Look at the tower....looks kind of dangerous; like about to topple over.

Yes....almost as tall as he is!!
Jackie came to the family when he was close to two years old. We decided to get a dog when somebody tried to break in to the old house. So we passed word round and Rebecca introduced us to this Indian family who had too many dogs in their house.

It wasn't easy choosing from so many dogs but Jackie was better looking than his other siblings and seemed to like us. So we got him into the car...I sat behind holding him. I was shocked when I saw tears rolling down his cheeks...he was crying because he knew he was leaving his family. For at least two days, he did not make a single sound and we were quite worried for him.

I remembered one incident when Dan played catching with him. Dan took a paper box and chased him all over the garden trying to trap him with the box. So Jackie ran all over trying to escape Dan. Suddenly Dan came running to the kitchen sounding worried....Jackie couldn't be found. He wasn't under the car or anywhere else. Then I saw two round eyes looking at us from behind the potted plants!!!! What a clever dog...he managed to get behind the crowded plants and was totally hidden by the leaves.

Today, Jackie is five years old. We have grown very attached to him especially ma. He is good company to ma. Ma loves him a lot and talks to him. Pets are very good company for senior folks.

That's Jackie...with the look that he is up to something.





We keep a bowl of clean water for him but he prefers drinking water from the ground, floor .... such a dirty dog.

When he feels good he has this real happy look on his face; like smiling. There are days when he looks sad and down and when he is sick; he really looks under the weather.


After a bath...Ing complained that he is smelly so I bathe him today.


He loves to rub himself on the dirty floor after his bath. There goes all my effort to keep him clean.




One is hitting the piano keys; the other is trying to sing the notes correctly. Not easy trying to get one who is a little tone deaf to sing accurately but no harm trying....who knows eventually he will get it right.

Hope temper won't flare and patience abounds. Afterall this is the season to be sharing and caring....(the caring part may be quite challenging now).

Anyway it's good to see the sister training the brother. I have to step in every now and then to encourage and keep the spirit up. Poor fella.

Can you spot the dirtiest looking white shoes? It's gray; not white. It belongs to the one and only person who can get his shoes this colour the very first day to school.
I remember Dan's first day to school...everything new and clean. When I picked him up, I was shocked to see his white shoes were already gray whereas the sister's shoes still look sparkling white.
The picture above was taken a week before the school closed for the year. He couldn't be bothered with the colour of his shoes anymore.
I have learnt over the years not to complain about the dirt...nothing about him surprises me now. He changes his school bag twice a year (they get holes in no time or the strap just putus...). His shoes are in the most pitiful state....besides being black; they are torn (he has two pairs). His white shirt collars are forever black (he has five shirts). I have to get him new pants every year because he grows too fast around the tummy.
The new school year is starting next month...I am now listing what I need to get him before school starts. Shoes and bag..definitely. Pants...I'm hoping he can fit in...it will be his last year wearing dark blue shorts. Shirts...just got new blue ones for him...so can skip that. Oh yes...water bottle!!!! He lost my Tupperware (I paid almost RM50 for it) and he changed his water bottle/tumbler almost five times this year alone. Not to mention the number of food Tupperwares that never came home over the years.
....all because his name is Dan.
Been away from the computer for a while. First, the modem kena struck by lightning....got a new one but the line is terribly sluggish. Then Dan took my laptop away every noon for a whole week to prepare for his robotic competition. On top of it, busy and tired after SPM invigilation. Finally, tonight...am in the right mood and setting for blogging.

As the title goes....I confess I am a banana and quite ashamed of it sometimes. I'm invigilating SPM in a chinese medium school. There are only two Chinese teachers there. The other is a POL teacher; so the language is no problem.

I have BIG problem with the Chinese Language. The students will raise their hands and go blabbering in Chinese; I have to say to them, 'You either speak to me in English or Malay'. It happens over and over.....never have this problem in a kebangsaan school.

Really feel so banana with these people. I'm glad my kids are not like me. Must thank Mrs Yeow for convincing me to send them to chinese medium school.
Drove into Berjaya Time Square parking lot two weeks ago and was surprised to hear Christmas songs on air. I wasn't even ready for it!! When we walked into the complex; we were so surprised to see the place all decorated and ready for Christmas. So commercial but it sort of put me in the Christmassy mood.
The deco....quite grand.

Some fellas dressed in Christmas apparel don't know doing what.....and the malay chap trying to get his picture taken with them. Don't think they know what Christmas is all about. This reminded me...Dan's school celebrated Christmas one of the saturdays before school closed and I didn't let him attend.

Well, since the place is all made up; it's a waste not to take pictures, right? Since nobody wanted to pose, I had to be the model. This is the best photo I could find of myself.
And that is not all.....from that day onwards, we play Christmas songs in the car, in the house, I search the youtube for long forgotten carols. Here is one of my favourite, forgetten singer...Anne Murray.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOPkImLx8YA&feature=related


I'm invigilating SPM this year. There are four of us in this particular hall. Today, the chief was away for another meeting. One of the teachers in my hall went out 10 minutes after the paper started and returned 10 minutes before the paper ended.

I asked loudly when she walked in apologizing her absence, 'Where have you been?' She mumbled some rubbish and sat down.

Another teacher came by and asked, 'Balik tidur ke?' She started to talk about some family problem.

Oh my....how appalling. No wonder teaching is no longer the respected and revered profession.
It was probably five or six years ago when I last made keropok (when I had a maid to peel the prawns). Yesterday at the market, we saw the prawns (not too small; so easy to peel) that is suitable for making keropok. The fishmonger said the magic words...it's good for making keropok. KC was nodding his head. I know I had to buy it and do something about it. So I bought one kilo of it...RM8.00. Then I bought tapioca flour. According to the recipe it is two kilos of prawns to a kilo of flour.
The stuff needed...I used to make two kilo of prawns but I only had a kilo yesterday (forgotten the recipe)...a kilo prawns, half kilo tapioca flour, two tsp fine salt and pepper.

Used my chopper to mash up the prawns till it is like a paste. Add seasoning to it.

Cleaned my marble top table...it's the best table for making keropok as it's solid. Pour out the flour next to the prawn paste so that it's easy to mix and knead in.


The first part of mixing is very messy as it's wet and gooey and sticky. Make sure all rings and bracelets are removed.

As it gets drier, the work gets easier.


The dough has to be kneaded till it doesn't stick to the hand. Then knead it well; like washing clothes.

There, the dough is ready. See how clean the table is now. As I kneaded, Kristen used the scraper to clean the table and I just rolled all that she scrapped into the dough. If the dough is still sticky, it won't be able to clean the table up like this. I did not use all the 500g flour...there was a little left.


Shape it into a log.


Before shaping the logs, need to slam the dough on the table many times to remove the air bubbles. Otherwise the keropok will have holes. That is why the marble top table is good.


A kilo prawns can make two logs. See the fly; hopefully my family members who see the fly will decide not to eat any of my keropok so I can have more share!!!


Line the steaming tray with aluminium foil. MIL uses banana leaves. Steam for 45 minutes and this is the result. This is the time when the kids will ask me to cut a slice for them to test; not just the kids...the worst culprit is the father.


The logs are wrapped in the foil and left in the fridge overnight. This morning I rushed home from church to slice the keropok. I use a slicer as above. Don't put too much pressure if you want the keropok to be thin but we like it thicker...there's more to bite.


This is how it looks like after slicing the log. The ends and bits here and there were eaten up by KC.


The keropok is laid out slice by slice under the sun. Thank God it's sunny today. It may take two to three days to dry. If it's not dry, it won't 'kembang' after frying and it may taste like 'masuk angin'.


KC putting the keropok under the sun. It's his mother's recipe and a must in his during CNY. Cookies are not popular but keropok will finish in no time. As it's his favourite, I learnt to make from MIL. Actually whatever I learnt from MIL are all his favourite. The way to a man't heart is through his stomach. You can see him grinning from ear to ear because next CNY he has his wife's home made keropok to eat. That amount of keropok in the picture is worth at least RM26 - 28 in the market. I spent at least RM100 this year buying keropok for CNY!!!! Every reason I should make my own. This is the first round...more rounds to come.











We had wanted to hike Broga Hill a long time. The first attempt failed because of heavy downpour. We planned for the hike on the Monday after Deepavali hols (as all of us are still on holiday).

By two pm that day, I was getting a bit worried. The clear sky was getting cloudy. I told KC we had better start early instead of leaving at 4pm. I smsed Tiffany and found out that it was also cloudy her side. By the time we left the house (it's very difficult getting people out of the house); it was almost 4pm....so much for an early start. My heart dropped when it started raining.


Leaving Seremban....pretty heavy rain but we were praying that it would stop raining or it won't be raining at Broga.

There was no rain when we hit the Lekas highway but the sky was definitely dark. I was feeling real lousy as I was looking forward to this hike very very much.

We made a wrong turn and ended up in Semenyih town but it wasn't very difficult getting out as the king scout sense is very good. It's quite a cowboy town.



We stopped in front of this place (the entrance to the hill is opposite of it). Rabbit Fun Land....is it a place for the rabbits to have fun or people to have fun with the rabbits?? It seems this place sells rabbits and rabbit meat. Thought of getting some rabbit meat for ma but it was not opened. So I don't think the rabbits have fun here.




We parked our car at this oil palm estate. This is the beginning of the journey uphill.



There are many wells like this around the estate. Don't know what's the purpose. Not deep.



Ha.....here is the sign showing us the way uphill...not that far. Just 4.8km; seemed easy to me.



We left the oil palm estate and started our way uphill. This is definitely different from the hike to the lighthouse at Cape Rachado. The path is narrow and more difficult and steep. It was quite tough for the children. I rushed them quite a bit because it was very dark and I was hoping to get to the top before it started raining.



There is deep ravine to the left and right of the path; so it is quite dangerous. Many people hike up early in the morning (6am) to catch the sunrise. I think that is even more dangerous (maybe there is another route).



We made up halfway....Lyn wasn't feeling good. She said it was as bad as doing Segak (physical fitness exam in school). She didn't look good. I felt bad for pushing her. So decided to go downhill. The sky was turning real dark and I could hear thunder. Didn't feel safe because we were exposed to lightning at certain stretches.


It started raining before we reached downhill. We opened our umbrellas and walked down. At the foot we met another hiker going up with an umbrella and walking stick.


So it was off to Nottingham University to meet Tiffany. So much for our hike to Broga. I was very disappointed but the kids disliked the hike as it was too tiring for them. From their faces I know if they have a chance, they would not want to do it again....I think I need to be more diligent in forcing them to build up their stamina.


Nottingham University here we come!!!! We met Tiffany and she introduced us to the ducks in the lake. These ducks are imported from UK!!!! The white duck is always alone. Poor duck. We pity it so much. KC suggested getting a local duck to accompany it.



Tiff bringing us around the lake and campus. It's a small campus. Very new...maybe 5 years old. Looks nice and quite scenic as it is hilly.



Another group of ducks. There is a total of 7 miserable English ducks.




As we were walking pass the cafeteria, I spotted a familiar looking face inside. She looked at me and I looked at her. It's Geraldine! We were quite excited to see each other (probably that's the last place on earth she expects to see me). Geraldine was my student.



After visiting the sports center, (good facilites), we went to dinner with Tiffany. The first restaurant (no 58 was closed); so she brought us the pineapple restaurant.


We reached home close to 830pm; and ma was quite worried. She phoned to check on me.