Saturday, June 27

Goodbye Houston

It's finally time for me to go home! Wow, time flies.. 2 weeks feels like nothing.. I am all over excited to see hubby and my 2 kids again.. missed them so much. However, I'm still heavy-hearted to leave Houston when I'm having a great time- feels like I'm on vacation. Wished that my family can come here instead! Here's why.. in no particular order..

1) Everything paid- as like other business trip, everything is paid by the company. So, you can stay in a great hotel, eat out without hesitation, order room service as much as you want, rent a car as long as you need it, etc etc. Now back in Malaysia I have to spend on my own again (not that I dont shop a lot here!).

2) Driving in Houston/US- for all of you who have studied or worked here know how easy it is to drive here. It is lot easier than in Malaysia, trust me! People here are very civilized and courteous, plus the roads are wide and many lanes with a better system than in Malaysia. Now I got to face the Malaysian drivers again, and not to mention the mat rempits too!

3) Everything air-conditioned- Loving the 24 hrs air-condition in the room. Back home, the air-con in our room does not functioned well, so we always sleep sweating. Oh, if only we got money to buy a bigger air-con and turn it on every time we want!

4) Lots of ME time- not that I dont enjoy the company of my family (I wont trade that for anything!!), but it's good to enjoy some ME time. I got to read lots of story books (some people know what I'm reading.. heheh), and surf the internet like nobody business.. haha.. and of course, go out anytime I want. Back at home, the kids are always around, seeking my attention. So, the only free time is at night, and by that time I'm tired too!

5) Oh, one of the best reason.. don't have to work! Don't even have to think about work. Over here, you just attend classes and make sure you're useful to be company later. Oh, I am groaning on what's waiting for me back at the office!

6) Living in a hotel- We're staying at Doubletree Suites, and the room is just perfect. We are settling in a one bedroom suite with 2 queen beds. Enjoyed the services; room service, laundry service.. housekeeping (not like I dont have a maid back home.. hehe)

But I missed home, too. Missed my family, my friends, the comfort of my home, the home-cooked food! My flight is departing this evening. See you back in Malaysia soon enough! (Is 30 hours soon enough?)

Saturday, June 20

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there... especially to my husband, who has been a great dad to my kids. I don't know how I would take care of the kids alone, and appreciate him really really much. One thing for sure, his influence and guidance on the kids are strong, and they are very lucky to have him as their dad. Thank you dear, Happy Father's Day!

Here is a layout I did before I left for Houston.. seems like a long time ago...

Thursday, June 18

Houston trip - part 3

Today, my mother and I remembered to bring our camera along. We just went to Hobby Lobby, and had dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Read my Scrapperocks! blog for more info on what I did in Hobby Lobby...hehe. Anyway, here are some pictures of me and my mom, especially for my hubby and the kids.. :)

My bed.. one of the bed in our room.. my mom has exactly the same one besides mine.

Outside Outback Steakhouse.. steak is no fun without hubby, who is a big steak fan..

Our rental car.. Dodge Avenger.. not bad lah

Houston trip - part 2

Class ended early today, but have to wait for a colleague who car-pool with me to go back to our hotel. So I have half an hour to kill, what else to do than writing on your blog? haha.. The class was OK, enjoyed the exercise and learned something new too (that's supposed to be my main purpose here). It's the middle of first week already, and am enjoying myself here (but it'll be better if my family is here). I'm still getting used of driving the car on the other side of the road, and also driving a big car (anything here is big compared to my myvi back home!). I am driving a Dodge Avenger (not that big but still intimidating). I am really bad at parking after driving myvi, which have the smaller turning radius.. hehe

Planning to check out a couple of scrapbook stores today. This is the chance to use the GPS tool I rented. Hopefully, we won't get lost! Very excited about it, but afraid that I will be tempted with all the beautiful and hopefully cheap SB stuff!!!

OK.. gtg.. will continue later!

Wednesday, June 17

Shopping ideas?

As a man, i'm not that educated on shopping. I might know a little bit about brands and prices but to find bargains and good buys are just not my good trade.

The wife wants to buy me stuff from houston (outlets and malls), asked about my shopping list. The only thing i can think off is timberland stuff (because ridiculously overpriced here - x2 more) and electronics (iphone/palm pre - but macam susah je electronics).

So here i am asking for advice. Any suggestions?? Ladies ?? This blog entry is so stereotype. No offence intended.

Here are some funny quotes for your amusement:

If men liked shopping, they'd call it research. -- Cynthia Nelms

Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping. -- Bo Derek

The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her. -- Marcelene Cox

A bargain ain't a bargain unless it's something you need. ~Sidney Carroll (my favorite)

Tuesday, June 16

Houston trip - part 1

I am all the way opposite the globe from my home, and I am missing my family really much. This is my third time to Houston, and it was not as exciting as before, especially without my kids n hubby around. Zara was supposed to be here with me, but she didnt come due to the risk of swine flu infection. At least she will entertain us. Oh well, as long as I am here, I might as well enjoy myself, right?

Today is my first day of class.. after sleepless night yesterday, I was so sleepy in class today. Plus, I knew most of the stuff they taught today.. speaking of too experienced for the class, they should have sent me 2 years ago! But anyway, I tried to entertain myself enough to survive the day. Later, we had sushi for dinner! What a treat! It was not like Sushi King, more like Sushi Groove kind of style. Love it! (may want to go again someday.. hehe)

There is so much to do here.. places to visit.. but I guess it's our lucky stars as Victoria's Secret Semi-anual sale starts tomorrow! ... for the whole 2 weeks we are here too! FYI- my mother and I are VS big fan, especially my mother la.. hehehe.. I also need to check out the countless scrapbook stores scattered around Houston. Not to forget, the factory outlet store!!! Plan to spend 1 and 1/2 day there! It is a near outlet, never been there before and was told it was bigger and better than Katy Mills. Do you noticed that my plans revolved around shopping? haha.. (plus nobody will be nagging when I am shopping.. hehe) Where else to go, and what else to do in Houston?

OK.. very sleepy now.. could not get enough sleep last night.. time for catch-up.. will update more later, hopefully with pictures..

p/s: ain, zareef n zara.. i miss you guys so much!!!

How i pray our loved ones wouldnt get sick!

I just found out my close friend's grandma is having cancer. All my prayers and well wishes for him and his family. I know he's very attached to her. Even our circle of friends are close with her.

Every time somebody gets sick i will always remind myself of my beloved mother. To those who knows her, shes a very 'lively' person with a 'very strong persona'. Unfortunately she has always been sick most of my life. She has acute diabetes (kencing manis - kadang2 out of scale when measured glucose content) therefore other sickness tagged along. Heart problems, minor stroke kaki lebam/hitam to name a few serious ones.

It saddens me more that its taking its toll on her now knowingly how active/'lively' she was. She did everything for her kids. I mean everything. It makes me sad because i feel i dont do enough to take care of her. Another point is that she will never listen to me (only my dad and little sister gets through to her). One of the most stubborn person i know if not the most stubborn person. Way too strong of a personality for me to handle.

I have always dreamed of bringing her (yes.. my dad too) to fancy restaurants, malls, movies, concerts, vacations and all that (now that i have a little bit of money) because by my recollection she doesn't indulge on herself very much. I cant remember if we ever did go to a fancy restaurant (mcdonalds pun like 3 bulan sekali.. tu kira lavish dah), vacations that wasnt part of her work or anything expensive she bought herself. Very very modest in her spending. Not that she didnt make enough, its just that she spends it on us (especially education.. i lot on education siap jual tanah/hutang to send my brothers overseas). Sure is different from women nowadays.

Nowadays (after her minor stroke) shes very sensitive to movements, light and easily winded (every 10 steps she has to stop). Transporting her around in a car is a big no to her (the only time she goes out is to the dr's). So it frustrates me i cant bring her around. The last time i (just me and her)brought her to One Utama (10 minutes drive) she vomited and had a panic attack. Scared the living daylights out of me. I dont dare to do it again. I envy those who can bring their parents around for a threat.

I just wish i can provide her those few precious memories that she utterly deserves.

Monday, June 15

Things to do when the wife is away

  1. Act like the king of the house (selama ni 'theory' saje)
  2. Rearrange the furniture around to make it more 'practical' (move everything into the bedroom)
  3. Hog the TV/computer/best chair etc.
  4. Let the kids do whatever they want as long it is a convenience for you (i favor allowing them to create a 'construction site')
  5. Eat whatever you want and whenever you want (midnight burger ramli [double daging special with chease] + chezels + teh ice + cadbury almond chocolate bar = heaven)
  6. Go to/ get out of bed at whatever time you want (for that matter the house too). Up for anything guys at anytime.
  7. Act all sad every time she calls. Jual nama anak will always work. Hopefully she loves you more and get you a bigger home coming present.
  8. Go to places you always had to presuade her going.
  9. Other 'to do's' are just not that interesting (codename: secret)
  10. Write on the blog to ask for more 'to do's' advice and as reference for other men.

Saturday, June 13

Real Madrid's business model

As a Real Madrid fan (self-proclaimed), i cant help defending the club when people talk bad about it (even though kadang2 menegakkan benang yg basah). The talk now is the so called 'madness' spending spree buying ronaldo & kaka (total around euro 150m or so). many more to come mind you. Here are my amateurish arguments (what little i know - escape clause):

1) yes the world finances are unprecedented in trouble. credit crunch, shadow banking and all that. but football (big 5 euro leagues) are among the few industries that has seen an increase in revenue (10%, total of euro 7.7bil) based on Deloitte's.
2) Real Madrid finances does not depend on billionaires (e.g chelsea abrahamovic, man u glazers, liverpool gilette, arsenal russian oilmen) but its own revenue-generating ability (not bad for a non-profit organization). Anyways, if a bank has confidence in giving you loans nowadays that means its feasible (of course they do their homework). Shows good management and market confidence in a way. Perez claims the money is from the club and not his pocket which is a rare thing today.
3) Management is democratic. election every 4 years by the 70000 odd members. members must pay the annual fees $191 and be a season ticket holder. (please forgive the election rigging of 2008 dec elections - damn calderon). So when management mismanaged it can be overthrown. Therefore actions taken are on the consensus (so called lah). Thats why its a very stable organization unlike certain clubs that follows dilly dally its new owners.
4) Its been proven right. just look the revenue has double since 2002. coming up to more than euro350m annually and about euro 70m profit.
5) Real Madrid have 3 major revenues category. below is the chart from delloite.

6)Matchday revenue/attendance is the 3rd highest in europe and not much room for growth as i understand as nearly 80-90% seats are sold before the first kick of the season.
7) Merchandise. yet again proven to work. Beckham case, t-shirt sales in japan itself dah cover its transfer fee. i wouldddd LOVVEE to have a Kaka jersey. Ronaldo not that much. 50% of the players rights also go to the club. sponsors lagi such as addidas, bwin and others.
8)The real carrot is in the Tv rights especially the emerging markets. the team that has the most marketable players and supporters will get the best TV deals. Another point,for example Asia has many Man U followers (some ronaldo's followers). what better way to steal their fans (especially yg follow stars) by buying its star players.
9) One time a commercial director said real madrid wants to be like a hollywood film. get audience addicted stars (tom cruise, angela jollie) to attract ppl to watch the movie comparing it to getting galacticos to play with them.
10) Many financial experts have not mention real madrid spending is 'madness' but contrary instead stating it as smart business model. its the non-financial ppl that are saying bad things (which i understand.. because its just too much money and makes the football industry shaky).

so.. thats my supporting argument on the matter. please feel free to argue and say your take on it.

ps.. i think this a classic example of "spend big, win big" and "the rich gets richer and the poor get poorer".

Friday, June 12

Happy Birthday Zareef!

Today is the REAL birthday for our hero, Zareef. For him, he already had his birthday, and when I asked what he wants to do for his birthday today, he answered that his birthday was at Burger King :). For me, today my boy turns 4. Time flies so fast, I really can't believe that he is all grown up. He grew up to be one fine boy; very smart, cheeky, sometimes (maybe a lot of times) naughty and very cute too. One could not ask for more!

Looking back, having Zareef in our lives was the greatest thing (any parents would agree). We were married almost a year when I discovered that I was pregnant. It was unplanned (kinda of like oppss), and I was shocked and don't know what to expect. Not that we don't want a baby, but not that soon (OKla, we initially planned to wait for a year.. so almost lah). But as the pregnancy progressed, I was happy and excited to be a mom! Except for the first few months morning sickness, the pregnancy went on smoothly. I didn't have any major problems and I was really happy (yes, really enjoying it!) to be pregnant.

The delivery was relatively easy.. relative OK, still very painful! We arrived at the Pantai Medical Center, Bangsar, around 3 am after my water broke (before that I was already having mild pain but was in denial.. hehe). After waiting for ~ 4 hours, I asked for a pain killer as I was only 5cm 'open'. But right immadiately after that, I felt a pain that was really really strong... Apparently I was fully dilated and ready to push! But the doctor was not there yet as it happened so fast. I have to wait for a about 20 minutes (seems like hours) for the doctor to come. I was asked to hold off the pushing sensation (so pissed off at that time). It was so painful and I, who was half-asleep (beacause of the pain killer), held my husband's and my mom's hand really really tight (sorry for that.. hehe). But when the doctor came, I pushed with all my might and Zareef was borned with only one push! When the doctor put Zareef on my belly, I almost cried. It was really a special moment.....

So now Zareef is already 4 years old. My wish for him is to grow up to be a good boy; a boy who is smart and who can think for himself, talk intelligently, open-minded, independent (very sticky now!), healthy and cheerful. We love you so much Zareef! Happy Birthday!

p/s: Plus today he is being a very good boy. Maybe because he knows that I'm leaving him for 2 weeks! :)

Zareef when he was just borned

Zareef @ 1 year old

Zareef @ his 2nd birthday
Zareef @ his 3rd birthday with his Smart Reader friends
Zareef @ his latest 4 th birthday party

Tuesday, June 9

KAKA, KAKA, KAKA!!! Hala Madrid!!!!

First thing in the morning i checked whether Kaka is coming or not (they said they wanted to announce midnight euro time.. lama tunggu = 2 years). WASSSSUPPPPPP!!! my dream came true. its official Kaka has arrived. once again, i repeat KAKA HAS ARRIVED!! Note to all skeptics never underestimate real madrid eventhough it costed Euro 65m (pounds 56m) second highest transfer fee behind zidane Euro 76m ( pounds 46m).

Its a terrific victory. i always knew zidane and perez would get the job done (from the very first day zidane came in, i knew its time for greatness). in a gentlemanly manner lagi. its not that easy (real hardcore fans understands this - especially for someone like Kaka). it always has and always been the core value of real madrid to keep check its manners and gentleman conduct (sorry for the past 3-4 years under calderon - buat malu je).

Few details about Kaka (my next idol after zidane):
Full Name: Ricardo Izecson Dos Santos Leite (panggil kaka due to little brother panggil manja)
Status: married (childhood sweetheart) with 1 child. Sorry girls..
Date of Birth: Apr 22, 1982
Nationality: Brazil
Resume:FIFA World Cup 2002 (tak kira sangat sebab sub je), Serie A 2004, Italian Super Cup 2004,UEFA Champions League 2007, UEFA Super Cup 2007, FIFA Club World Cup 2007, , Serie A Footballer of the Year 2004, 2007, UEFA Champions League Top Scorer 2007, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year 2007, FIFPro World Player of the Year 2007, Ballon d'Or 2007, FIFA World Player of the Year 2007. (zidane and ronaldo gemuk je yg ade better resume.. that i know of.. correct me if im wrong.. nahhh.. im right!)

i havent been this excited about football since zidane left in 2006 (final worldcup 2006 - sedih giler time tu). This news has lift my confidence in real madrid and renewed my football enthusiasm. semangat dah membara dah ni.. tak sabar dah ni. Hala madrid!!

ps.. icing on the cake kalau kaka amik jersey no. 5. seems like only ballon d'or/world cup winner team captains/ fifa world player of the year je layak pakai.

Zareef's 4th b'day home-made video

This is my first home-made video. Its about zareef's 4th b'day party. Do enjoy it and please forgive my amateurish shooting/editing.

ps.. its not long about 3 minutes only

Monday, June 8

Layouts for our Birthday Hero

This week, I did these layouts about our Birthday Boy Zareef. He turns 4 this June, so it is the perfect time to create layouts for my boy (plus without realizing, I have lots of boyish papers and embellishments!). I still can't believe that Zareef is 4 years old already. Time flies so fast, you can barely catch them growing up!!

Love these pictures of Zareef playing at the park near our house. I finally got the chance to use this very cool Fancy Pants paper, which is perfect for the occasion.

I love these boyish and grunge papers from Kaisercraft, and this picture is perfect for it! This picture was taken by Amru during Qamelia 1st birthday. Love the shot, showed a mischiveous and naughty look of Zareef :)

Sunday, June 7

Zareef's Birthday Bash

The party is over. We had fun (with a few hiccups) and most importantly, without any hassle at all! (Semua BK buat.. just need to buy the cake.. and pay la of course). Zareef was very excited at first, jumping around the house before departing to Burger King. The venue is very nice, it is a new BK at Shah Alam Extreme Park.. very spacious and comfortable. We had a section, including the playground, all to ourselves.

Guests started arriving around 4.30 pm (yeah, malaysian style, that's why i ordered food to be served after 4.30 pm.. hehe). Zareef had a few tantrum and 'angin' episodes, especially when we did not allow him to open his presents yet. He hid behind the slides, just as his Smart Reader friends arriving, merajuk. We tried to comfort him, and presuaded him to come out to meet his friends but Zareef was determined to stay mad. After a while, after we just let him be, he came out and played with his friends (lucky Shazwan is there to pujuk and play with him.. ) Zareef was really testing with our patience!!!!!!!!!!! (penat je buat party tapi buat hal pulak)

OKlah.. he party went on. Thankfully, Zareef played well with his friends. We played games, by we I mean kids plus adults. We did not have enough kids so some adults yang perasan kids dengan happynya join.. hehe.. The first game was the famous musical chair. Zareef is grumpy during the first round, but after that he ran round and round and round, pushing other kids. Not a good strategy as he was running far from the chair (not like Shazwan, who was constantly touching the chairs). But it was down to Zareef and Shazwan to fight for the last chair. Shazwan won, forcefully pushing Zareef out of the chair (Children are so competitive!). Zareef cried in defeat (malu la depan orang).

Next is the poison box. The person who holds the box when the mucis stops, is out. Zareef was out during the early rounds, but he got a Spiderman poster, so he's not complaining. Raveena won that round. The last game is the dancing game. Some adults joined the 'fun' but only Shazwan followed the rule, where everybody stops dancing when the music stops.. I mean, he was really like a statue. So he won again.. hehe. I wished that we have more kids coming, but due to the school holiday and the 3 day-weekend, a lot of them when cuti2 Malaysia or makan nasi minyak or balik kampung. But the most important thing is that the kids had fun.

After that is the cake cutting... Zareef had a Ben Ten cake from Secret Recipe. The kids as always, were excited and crowded (and touched) the cake. We sang Happy Birthday and Zareef blowed the candles. Gareth and Zareef wanted a center portion of the cake, where Ben Ten sign is located (Kesian Shah BK melayan mereka.. hehe). I didn't taste the cake, hopefully it's good. After a group photo, the party ends...

Back at home, Zareef excitedly unwrapped the presents. Wow, what a lovely set of gifts! Thank you everybody for the lovely gifts. Zareef got a couple of swords, a Transformers, a Ben 10 watch, Hot Wheels, an art set, a funny face set, some books & stationaries, a junior scrabbles, a board game, a remote control car, an educating magnetic tiles, and also a construction site mini set!! (You know how Zareef likes constructions) That will keep him busy for ... a while. Now he is playing everything, each for 15 minutes.. haha. I just hope that he takes good care of the toys. He is notoriously for misplacing his toys once he's 'done' with it.

All in all.. it was a good day. I hope eveybody had fun and enjoyed the Whopper. Zareef had a blast too! (but I dont think there will be another party next year for Zareef, looking at the way he behaved yesterday). Thank you for coming guys.your weekends are precious! Here are some amateurish picture snippets of the party.. we are waiting for some pro photos, courtesy of Azfar, the trainee of Amru and Enchanted Forest. Will upload the pics when we get them.

The Birthday King... Zara happily playing at the playground..
Zareef with his friends..
Nenek, Uncle Man, Bibik, Zara and me
Untie Annod, Untie Aisha & Arif
Untie Fina and Adella
With Shahrul, Su & Shania..
The lovely presents...
Zareef says Thank You..

Saturday, June 6

Bearybox challenge #28 - SWEET

I just could not resist the interesting sketch from Bearybox challenge #28, that I created a layout from it. I finally managed to use the large flowers I have in my stash (just love flowers!). I love this picture (thanks amru for the nice shot!) of Zareef and Soraya's daughter, Qariena. Zareef is very close with Qariena @ Nana. Everytime they meet, they will hold hands and go everywhere together... hehe.. (romeo sungguh!)

Thursday, June 4

Zareef's Mechana Party

Another 2 days for Zareef's birthday party!!! For those who are invited, and are coming, can't wait to see you there! In case you're wondering, Mechana Party refers to Animal Mechanical show, which is Zareef's favourite show. Zareef really likes constructions, buildings, tractors, robots and machines. No wonder la why he likes the show. His favorite is Mechana Stretchyyyy.. Squaquash.. (don't know how to spell). He likes to act like Squaquash.. heheh..

OK.. back to the party... see you all there. Sorry that I can't invite everybody due to places (and budget) constraint. Zareef's actual birthday is on 12th June but I'll be leaving to Houston that weekend. Can't believe my boy is 4 already!! How he has grown and becomes a very lovely, naughty, cheeky, very smart, sticky, talkative and handsome boy!

Will load the pictures later!

Houston 2006 pull mini album

I finally managed to complete one of the mini album I created with Jessy @ Papier. Thanks Jessy for the lesson, a private lesson lagi! I love this self-flip pull album. You can pull the tabs and the pages will flip by itself. Nice one, Jessy! I did an album about my business trip to Houston in 2006, where my hubby and Zareef accompanied me.

Zareef was about 1 year 4 months at that time. We had fun, went to the Aquarium, Houston Zoo, The Children's Museum (Zareef really like this place.. ) and visited friends. It was during Ramadhan (we cant enjoy the 'sponsored' food that much la.. ) but we had fun.. The plane ride was very tiring with a very active Zareef on board. Lucky that I was in business class (poor hubby back at economy) so that Zareef had his 'space' to play around. So, in the other hand, kind of thankful that Zara is not coming to Houston with me next week, as I knew how tiring will that be. But my mother and I are still sad that Zara can't come along for an all-girls outing.. plus very sad that I have to totally wean her off, as I wanted to bf her until she is 2...

Ok.. here are some pictures of the album. For more picture, visit my Scrapperocks! gallery