About half a year ago, at 12 midnight to be exact, I made a few resolutions I called the 'FUN YEAR LIST'. In that list, I promised myself that I would spend more time with friends outside work - because everything this year is not going to be about work.

Over the past few months somehow things were unexpectedly hectic so there was not much opportunity for me to kickstart this revolution. But when you have friends like Kak Retna and Sis Lin who are willing to make things happen, it doesn't take much longer to finally nail down the date, time and venue of another of our awesome event.

I count myself lucky because we have friends whom I considered as very good chums, the kind that comes charging into your life with drums and trumpets and firework - and just make your life feels a lot more awesome than usual. 

We used to have annual activities like going camping together, breaking fast or simply bonding over karaoke sessions. Since some of them stay in JB, we would go down to JB or they would come up to KL for these get-together sessions. However, lately things seems to have quietened down a bit so I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to have the first gathering this year over lunch.

Over Whatsapp messages, we discussed the date, time and menu for the day. Finally the lunch event took place yesterday.

Kak Retna in da house!

It was a potluck luncheon so everyone got to bring their own favourite dishes - we as the host prepared laksa Sarawak (our specialty), our friends Romzi & his wife Amai brought garlic bread & mushroom soup, Shai & wife Nazuha prepared spaghetti bolognese, Umie & hubby turned up with maggi goreng, Kak CT & CM, daughter Lily & their 3 boys chipped in marble bread pudding & fried meehoon, Topek brought bread and Sambalava, Sis Lin came bringing 'kuih deram' & 'buah mata kucing', Kiki provided sweet melons for starter, and last but not least Kak Ret sponsored bottles of apple juice and a delicious tiramisu cake for dessert. Kak Diella, Sodep & Bro Ross came with their empty tummy, LOL!

Amai & Romzi turned up first, but unfortunately Mr Hubs forgot to take a photo of them holding the potluck lunch event poster. We only managed to snap these photos of them, including Kiki who came with her ultra-shy nephew, Umar & niece, Aishah. Sorry folks!

Kiki looking after her shy niece & nephew
Romzi and wife came earliest but had to leave early

But later we took photos of the rest:

Kak CT and N - who turned up wearing purple because they thought the theme is purple! LOL!

Umie & hubby finally making appearance after a long time. Congratulations on the good news! *wink*

The most awaited guests from JB - Sis Lin, Abg Sabar, Naz, Yana & Amat are here!

Topek came last because he lost his way! LOL!

Some of the food our guests brought - spaghetti, fried meehoon & sweet melons

Spaghetti bolognese

Couldn't stop eating this marble bread pudding made by Kak Ct :)

Khayla loves the meehoon and had 3rd helpings! ^_^

Our house bursting with guests and loads of food. Am so blessed :)

Hubby, CM & Lily

My girls had different reactions to getting a lot of guests in the house today. Khayla was basking in the overwhelming attention given to her and all the time she was singing happily and playing with Iman and Kak Ct's youngest boy. She was in high spirits the whole day and ate a lot of the food brought by our friends :)

Khadeeja on the other hand has developed separation anxiety, and was agitated at seeing so many new faces surrounding her. So most of the time people only get to hold her for a few minutes before handing her over to us. Everyone agreed that she looks a lot DIFFERENT than Khayla, and that she has such beautiful hair and huge eyes :) 

Later in the evening after the two babies had gone to sleep we put on old videos of our previous events and the house was rocked with laughter as we reminisced the good ol' & funny days! 

Feel so blessed to know these people and praying that our friendship will remain fast and steady for many more years to come (with lots more feasts like this in between, LOL!). 

P/S: Thanks everyone, love you guys! :)
For as long as I could remember, I've always loved going to a library. There is always an excitement when stepping foot into a library - the clean smell of an air-conditioned room, the sight of rows upon rows of books promising an escape to a foreign or magical world and the calming silence broken only by the sound of turning pages.

Half of my childhood was spent in the small neighborhood library where my sister and I devoured all the story books in the kids section, so much so that the librarians still asked our mom about us even today. It's like, 'How are your girls doing nowadays? They used to come to the library every day after school last time.' My reputation as a bookworm still lives on.

My favorite story books back then were Enid Blyton's, Snow Spider (Jenny Nimmo), Diana Wynne Jones' (especially 'Magicians of Caprona'), The Boy in the Bubble (Ian Strachan), Mary Hooper's School Series and a series of books about school children written by a Singaporean author.

Anyway, last weekend we spent the time at Perpustakaan Raja Tun Uda in Shah Alam since hubby said he wanted to study at the library. Another reason was because we wanted to escape the strong smell of haze that lingered in the house even though we closed the windows. 

The kids sleeping on the way to the library

Photo credit: skyscrapercity.com

Parking is quite limited as the library doesn't have basement parking and the open car park was quite full (probably because it is also revision week in nearby UiTM Shah Alam). We couldn't help admiring the modern glass architecture of the building. There is also a cafeteria with nice décor next to the library where we had a quick lunch before entering the library. To enter the library from side entrance, visitors must remove their shoes and place them in the provided canvas bag (which you have to carry with you) as the library floors are mostly carpeted.

Guess what, the library has a 6D theater! Unfortunately since we brought our small baby and toddler we couldn't go in to find out what a 6D theater is all about. I told hubby one of these days we MUST find a way to experience that!

We didn't manage to explore the whole library because I assumed kids are not allowed in other sections so we just spent the time at the kids section. The moment we went inside, we were greeted with the sight of a virtual aquarium on the floor. When Khayla stepped on the 'fishes' swimming in the aquarium, the water actually rippled! Turned out the projector has motion sensor like the one in Petrosains :)

Then there's the huge artificial tree in the middle of the kids' section that made the kids go wild:

The tree of knowledge?

Luckily it is an artificial tree. If it was a live banyan tree, I supposed parents would forbid their kids from running around or sitting underneath it for fear of 'kena sampuk jin'! LOL!

My kids also got so psyched up when they saw the tree. Since the 'hill slope' is covered with green carpet and the section is a 'no-shoes' zone, I could plonk my baby on it and leave her there without much worries, except that Khadeeja also became excited about bergolek-golek (rolling) down the hill!

Khayla running around while Khadeeja crawled here and there!

I was tempted to pay RM1 just to use this iMac, LOL! I know, lame. Sama je macam guna MacBook Air, except the screen is humongous. Anyway, just to show how updated and modern the amenities provided in the library, what with iMac and Kinect games:

Parents can access Internet at RM1/hour while waiting for their kids. Jangan sampai leka, sudah!

Anyone in need of stretching after doing some reading can try out the Kinect

I think creating activity corners and activity rooms (where kids can play board games) is a brilliant idea. The only problem I observed is that there is no supervision, so some kids took the opportunity to hog the PCs, Kinect and whatsoever games provided while the more timid ones stood nearby watching with longing eyes!

It would be better if they installed a token system where kids can get the token from the library counter and use the facility within a time limit. Once the time is up, the PC will log out / games will stop until the next token coin is inserted. That way, everyone has a chance to use the facility.

My brother is going to be sooooo impressed with this Xbox 360!

Comfy and brightly coloured seating area for parents (in front) and story-telling stage (back)

Another observation that I made is because there is so many interesting high tech activities provided, kids became distracted from the main purpose of visiting the library (unless their purpose is to play games!), which is reading books. Only a handful of kids could be seen reading books, some of them are also doing homework and revisions for the upcoming UPSR / PMR exams, while the rest spent the time frolicking around and playing computer games, Kinect and board games.

Colourful book bins line one side of the library's section

Sadly, the books are also quite old, many with torn / missing pages. Knowing Khadeeja's destructive power, I tried to look for board books that will not tear / easily chewed by her. I only managed to find two or three of these kind of books though. Upgrading the books' collection (renewing old favourites or getting new titles in) or loaning access to e-books would certainly improve the service at the library.

Khadeeja 'reading' Maisy's Best Friends, one of the few board books I could find

Still, the girls enjoyed their time in the library. Khadeeja was amazed by the huge open space surrounding her that she didn't know where to begin crawling, LOL! She was annoyed by other kids though, because they kept stopping to stare at her and kiss her chubby cheeks!

Hmm… Where do I go from here?

Khayla pulak, loved running around especially circling the tree and playing chase. Recently, she learned to make friends with other kids which is a huge relief to me. At the library, she befriended a slightly older boy and spent the time chasing each other.

Fun time in the library!

It's really awesome that Malaysia has a really nice library like Perpustakaan Raja Tun Uda. The National Library could take a leaf out of this library's book (no puns intended!) and provide the same facilities :) For me, I'm just glad that I have another "free" entertainment centre to bring my kids to!
We had a blast escaping the city heat and tripping to Cameron Highlands last couple of weeks for some fresh cool air :) This was the first time the kids had ever been to a high-altitude area where the air is cool all the time without someone having to pay the electricity bills on aircond. Sure they won't be running amidst rows of tea bushes nor will they remember much about it a few years from now on but still, we had a blast.

I wanted to book a room at Century Pines Resort where we enjoyed staying at a couple of times before, but unfortunately the trip coincided with school holiday period so most of the hotels are fully booked. We almost gave up on the trip until we tried agoda.com and boom! An affordable, value-for-money family room at Titiwangsa Hotel in Brinchang for less than RM200 which included steamboat dinner & breakfast for 4 pax. I was sceptical at first when I read a few negative reviews about the hotel at tripadvisor.com but hey, turned out the family room was spacious, clean (including the bathroom & toilet which was super important because I can't stand icky bathrooms & toilets!) and definitely value for money :) Sorry did not have any photos though since we were so tired and immediately crashed on the bed after checking in!

That morning everybody woke up early even Khayla, who was excited because she could sense something different in the air - the way everybody bustled around packing food, diapers, milk bottles, getting them ready. As usual I've packed our clothes the night, choosing warm clothes and jackets for the kids. In order to reach Cameron Highlands before 2pm, we left home at 7.30am - quite a challenging task when you have 2 small kids! But we managed to do so, and only stopped to refuel and bought some kuih for breakfast. My mom stocked a lot of food (snacks and fruits) for the journey and even bought few packets of nasi lemak, which we had for lunch when we reached Cameron Highlands :) I told my mom she would most probably be in charge of food ration if she was posted in military coz she managed to pack enough to feed an army!

Since if was a long journey our girls were strapped in their car seats. I posted a picture of both girls sleeping serenely in the car like little angels but that was not the case for most of the journey though! 😛

As usual, she slept throughout the journey and only woke up when we reached Cameron Highlands. I quite envied her because she has the best and most comfortable seat in the car!

Unlike her sister, Khadeeja only slept for half an hour and spent the rest of the 3 hour-journey being a cranky traveller :|

Thankfully we reached Cameron Highlands by noon. As expected there was a lot of crowd of tourists still in Cameron Highlands but half of them were leaving already. Khayla woke up from her nap and the first thing she exclaimed was, 'Look! Shoobayyliiii (strawberry!)' Hehe.

Someone's so excited to see this strawberry replica!

We stopped by S Corner Kea Farm first to have lunch, stretch our legs and use the restroom. I eagerly tried their scones but was hugely disappointed because they did not serve them with fresh cream. Then we proceeded to the hotel even though it was not 2pm yet. Luckily the room was ready so the hotel staff allowed us to check in earlier :)

After checking in we took a nap since we were exhausted (especially yours truly who had stayed up doing revision and then having to entertain a fussy baby throughout the journey). The blissfully cool temperature was also conducive for the afternoon nap! *heaven*

Later in the evening we went to Bharat Tea House / Plantation for some English-inspired tea (milk tea since it was cold, and hot scones with butter and strawberry jam - yummy!).

After our very scrumptious and heartwarming tea, it was time for some photos at the tea plantation:

Khadeeja regained her cheerfulness and didn't mind being dressed in thick one-sies as the weather is cold

Our first family photo at Cameron Highlands :)

Khadeeja being so curious over tea leaves (or any leaves for that matter!)
At night, Mom and I decided to explore the Brinchang night market which was just a few hundred meters away from the hotel. It was drizzling so the weather was super cool but enjoyable. There was a lot of food hawkers selling a variety of local favourites, vendors selling souvenir shirts and other souvenirs, and even farmers selling plants and flowers like cactus, roses and other local harvests. Mom got really excited looking at all the flowers on sale but since she couldn't bring them back on flight, so she didn't buy any. We bought lots of food (I went crazy with chocolate coated strawberries - so sweet and packed with vitamin C!) before going back to the hotel at 9pm for the steamboat dinner.

The next day, after breakfast we went to Boh Tea Factory to see how tea leaves are processed.

Hubby in front of the factory building - looked so old and rundown

The inside of Boh Tea Factory - quite an old factory but most of the process are automated

And also to have some tea and more English scones at the Boh Tea House :)

Best scones so far - melt in the mouth with a slight sweet taste *swoon*

Khadeeja, my mom & my bro against the greenery scene backdrop

We noticed a few of the visitors making their way to the top of a look out spot on top of a hill behind the factory, so we joined them - even my mom! It was like climbing a shorter version of Broga Hills :p

One helluva of exercise carrying my 6kg+ baby up the hill!

Khayla refused to walk so my bro had to carry her down the hill :p

Back from Boh Tea Plantation, we went back to the hotel to shower, pack and check out of the hotel. Then we went to a few places namely flower nursery (which my mom loves), and the weekend market to buy some fresh harvests from Cameron Highlands farms (cheap vegetables - yummy!) and of course, more strawberries dipped in melted chocolates! I think I must have eaten dozens of strawberries because they are fresh and juicy and sweet :p

Last but not least, we made a stop at the latest attraction in Cameron Highlands - the Lavender Garden.

Love this photo because it could be mistaken as a trip to Holland :)

More family photos & strawberry replicas!

Mom in front of giant cabbage - I think

Crazy about purple lavenders!

Looking forward to more family trips again :)

Dear sweethearts,

My apologies - I've been dawdling on this month's letter until it dawned on me that the next one is due in a couple of days! I have to whip my lazy bum bum and start writing because one day, when I'm old and wrinkled, and hardly able to feed myself, this letter will remind both of you that you owe me BIG time, girls! Khayla for the amount of time I chased you with a bowl of rice while you ran helter-skelter because you refused to eat. And Khadeeja - my sweet little Khadeeja, for the laborious effort I took to mash bananas, carrots and sweet potatoes, and mix it with breastmilk plus lots of love - because my 5 months old has decided to follow in her sister's footstep of starting solid early!

Let's start there, Khadeeja. The moment you tasted food, glorious food.

Sometime after turning 5 months old, I noticed that your drools have become more than just a passing hobby - something to pass the awfully slow time while you grow up. Whenever we all sat at the dining table, you watched with interest as we ate our meals. Then you drooled. And grabbed something - anything, to shove into your mouth.

My chubby, jolly baby early in the morning

You are no longer sleeping fitfully throughout the night as you did when you were four months old. Several times you woke up searching for my boob and the way you suckled so hungrily and so enthusiastically sent an alarm signal to my brains - this baby of mine is ready to be weaned! Where did those few months go, how fast time flies!

The first time we fed you mashed banana, you were so eager and leant forward with open mouth. The moment you realised that unlike other objects you kept trying to put in your mouth this one actually tasted nice and edible, you swallowed it like a pro. This was not in the case of your sister previously because her first meal ended up mostly on her bib. Not you though - most of your first meal safely ended up in your tummy and I had very little clean-up to do after that. Bravo, Khadeeja!

So far you have had a taste of banana (which you love), carrot (which you don't, and kept spitting it out with the most outrageous sound!), mango (you enjoy having it in the baby feeder, which you can hold yourself and shove in your mouth) and sweet potatoes. Occasionally I gave you baby cereal rice as well, which most of the time you eagerly finished without much complaints.

Someone's sitting in baby chair for the first time!

My super-adorable baby,

This month also marked another significant milestone - you could sit unassisted. This way, you enjoy your toys so much more because you can busy your hands pushing buttons and cranking sticks on the toys :) While you were on your front, you could also push yourself up in half-sitting position - almost like doing a one-hand pumping!

I can sit!

But sitting still and playing is not really your cup of tea. No-uh. You prefer to half-crawl, half-wiggle your way all over the living area, the dining area and even attempted to go down the hallway if we let you. If you must have a middle name, I am tempted to name you 'Makcik Kepoh-chi' for the ultra-curious nature that you show at this age.

Exploring the tea leaves at Cameron Highland

Yes, for a five months old baby, you love exploring every niche, nook, corner and whatnots of this house. Everything fascinate you even for just a short while. To make it worse, your hands are super-quick to grab at things - even your sister's hair and especially her favourite possessions. Then all hell break loose and I ended up having two babies bawling out their lungs!

Wanting to grab the lit birthday candle while your sister protested

Sadly to say, you hate travelling that the moment we buckle you up in the car seat you scream, twist your body in protest and cry big fat dramatic tears! It isn't the idea of motion-sickness that makes you miserable - no. It's the fact that you have to sit quietly in the car seat, or in our hands when your father grew tired of hearing you throwing fits in your car seat - that sent you to the edge. Being confined is a dreadful experience to you because you can't be mobile and explore your surrounding. Our recent trip to Cameron Highland was an excitement until the time we have to travel in the car - and then I wished that I have a time machine so that we could spent just a moment in the car on our way back to KL.

Not such a happy traveller
And then there is my other, adorable little toddler named Khayla.

Dear Khayla,

One day you came back from school and surprised me with the sweetest gift ever - Mother's Day gift! Whoa! I never dreamed that I would be celebrating Mother's Day before you could talk in proper sentences or narrating your day at the school, yet here you are handing me a bouquet of flowers and a big, heart-shaped card with your hands' prints on it! My heart was practically bursting from so much pride of being a mother to this wonderful little girl!

She made this Mother's Day card herself!

This month you are ultra-happy because two great things happened - one, you had 2 weeks school break and therefore did not have to battle it out with your father on having to wake up early and taking a shower to go to school (joy, joy!). Two, Mak Yeng is here and that means you can go for 'walk-walk' every day! Mak Yeng and you shared the same passion for car ride and window-shopping, so it is no surprise that you are her favourite granddaughter.

So many wonderful things happened this month as well - you've perfected the 'Gwiyomi' act, went swimming almost every day and you even surprised us when you sing the national anthem. You continued to add a lot of words in your expanding vocabulary, which you enjoyed pointing out and exclaiming them whenever we came across one.

You exclaimed, 'Aahh… Stobeli!' when you saw this replica of strawberries

Another notable development this month is you can already share some of your toys with Khadeeja without much coaxing. Like the other day you offered a rattle to her in exchange for the toy you want to play yourself. Mak Yeng said one day you came back from school and then sat with your sister with a book. Then you began pointing pictures in the book, asking her 'What's that, Khadeeja?' before answering your own question, 'Giraffe!' I guess you have been busy observing us as we read books to you and Khadeeja and even brought both of you to the children's library recently. You also offered to comfort your sister when she wailed in the car, shushing her and telling her, 'Look Khadeeja! Sky!' in your attempt to distract her. For that, I love you :)

You like the idea of blowing candles and singing 'Happy Birthday'

My darling daughters,

I just want to say that I don't regret my decision to get off work this year so I could spend my time being around you two. Every day you both came up with something new to make me fall even more deeply in love with you. Watching you both grow up in front of my eyes - are just too precious. If I could freeze time, I want this year to never end and you two stay the same - delightful, loveable and cuddlesome for as long as I live.

Sweet sisters sleep together

Love you both incessantly,