Saturday, 21 July 2012

Yay! It's finally here!!!!

Yupp, here it is... the long overdue collection of short stories about 'mommyhood'... my stories!!!

And if you wanna peek into the book, here it is, the first chapter. Sorry peeps, it's in Bahasa, not interested to translate it into English... yet :P

I hope you have a good time peeking into it / reading it :))

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Cover!

Last week, the publisher sent the draft cover for approval. Couldn't be more happy, seeing a book cover with my name in front of it.
This will be my first, and hopefully, wont be my last :))

Sorry, have to cover some parts as it is still a draft

Yess! I plan to write a series of books on motherhood stories - a comical one that is. However, the scientist inside me also wants to write down about science fiction tales: think Asimov, Verne, Wells, Brown and Crichton.
Well, an idea is an idea and it will be up to me to realize them. With work, home and little cupcake, it might be tough... But at least I wrote the idea here in the blog so now I can’t go back hi hi hi. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I'm not a perfect mom. So what??

It's that time of the month again. Time when I feel tired, bored the whole day; time when I fell like I wanna eat a bowl of sushi rice with chocolate and drink wine, while reading a chicklit or watching a Nora Ephron's movie. (And maybe smoke some weed too).

According to wikipedia, PMS is :

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (also called PMT or premenstrual tension) is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms related to a woman's menstrual cycle. While most women of child-bearing age (up to 85%) report having experienced physical symptoms related to normal ovulatory function, such as bloating or breast tenderness, medical definitions of PMS are limited to a consistent pattern of emotional and physical symptoms occurring only during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle that are of "sufficient severity to interfere with some aspects of life".[1]

So based on that, this time of the month is supposedly not a good time to Google photos of celeb moms. Excuse me......, but the first page that popped out when I opened my firefox today for work shows me this picture which make me groaned.

Can you believe that she has 6, SIX children! And can still smile after hours of transatlantic journey with 6 children on a plane?

And this one has 4, FOUR! But look at those legs! She could wear that mini I bought from H&M effortlessly I guess.

Wow. And I sometimes could not even keep up with one.

However, I never envy Angelina or Victoria ; they must have 24/7 standby nannies, private jets or PAs.

But what I do envy are mommas who never seem to lose out their temper to their children. They remind me of Carol Brady of the "Brady Bunch."

Sometimes I'm just sick and tired of hearing (or reading) that mothers should be compassionate and patient to their children's, should not yell, keep their temper, bla bla bla. Umm, hello... even when we have PMS? Stuff and saying like this made me feel so guilty whenever I got cranky (yes, I can get cranky too) each time Rania doesn't finish her fruit portion. Or when she refused to brush her teeth.

Sayings like that made me feel like I'm not a perfect mom. Not a good mom. I'm sure that 5 out of 10 moms I know feel the same way too. They are just to ashamed to admit it. 

But then I found this website, which made me laugh so hard! I'm not alone! I'm not alone! (I feel like I wanna run and show this website to the lady that sits next to me on the tram or my gynaecologist (why them? I have now idea...))

So I guess it is okay to do crazy stuff once and a while - not all the time ya. So no need to feel guilty if we become emotional and a scary mommy once and a while. Like the SM says : Cause Parenting does not have to be perfect.

Pics from and urban-hoopla; all credits belong to them.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Adventure of the Seas Day 5-6-7-8

Day 5.
As the trip to Pisa only started at around 9 AM, we had our breakfast at the main dining room. The buffet style breakfast was a 4 star hotel kind of way – one could find yogurt, fruits, pancake, to smoked salmon. Rania loved the buttermilk pancake and I opted for the sweet muesli. By 9 AM we went to the meeting point and were rushed to the gangway. One thing that I did not really enjoy was the fact that from the meeting point of the tour to the gangway, we were always escorted down to use the stairs. Luckily Rania was a no-complainer girl, but it was demanding to deck down 2 or 3 flights of stairs with a toddler. They should have also been prepared for people opting to use the lift – parents with toddler / buggy or senior with walking sticks. 
A small break before the 'photo session' in Pisa
That day, it was not our luckiest day on the bus. It seemed like a full ride; hence Rania had to sit on our lap for the 40 minutes on the way to Pisa. Our guide was a very informative lady called Simona and she literary could not only tell the history but also showing them as well. Something like, look at this wall and see the proof that building was already 500 years old. We arrived at the Pisa nature reserve and were asked to continue the journey on a small, open-style coach with a locomotive! It took us another 15 minutes on the coach and along the way Simona explained the history of the town of Pisa – which it used to be a small, independent country. We arrived at Pisa- Miracle Square and were given a 45 minutes of free time in front of the tower. When I first came, the area near the tower was closed for re-construction and I was pleased that now I could take pictures as close as possible to the tower. 
Ok, my tummy was not that big, the wind blew my top!
After 400 photo sessions later (hihi), we went back to our meeting point and took the coach ride to the river... yes, this time we went back to the bus by taking a boat trip with free ice cream, how cool was that! By around 1 PM we arrived back at the ship and we went straight to windjammer and then to our room for some needed ZzzZZ. Later that day we dropped Rania off as it was “diego day” at the kids club. By 7 we went to the dining room for our dinner. Our waiter was a Filipino called Efren, a very funny person indeed! He would greeted us cheerfully and sang during serving us. Finished with our dinner, we dropped Rania again at the kids club and this time went to try our luck at the casino; ka-ching! All the machines only accepted US coins, hence we need to change our Euros into USD dollars at the cashier, and with the minimum value for changing was 20 USD with Seapass card. We then used the slot machines to change the bills into coins. 40 coins later and then we ended up broke (hahaha) and decided to chill out watching the show called “Can’t stop the rock.” I did not understand why the show was called like that, as the show was about a tribute to best movie soundtracks – from “Love Story” to “The Bodyguards.” I must say the quality of the singers was good, and some were as good as American Idols contestants!
We called it a night by 10-ish and went to our state room for a well-deserved snooze.

Day 6.
We were already near the end of our vacation sniff....
We woke up in the morning for the beautiful view of Ajaccio, Corsica. The tiny island belonged to the French and had 9 mountains and many kilometres of coastline – our guide told us that Corsica is the only place in the world where one could swim at the ocean and skiing on the same day! The streets were always on traffic jam while we were there and they were narrow and the land was not flat at all.

The first part of the tour was to stop at Napoleon’s statue – Ajaccio was Napoleon’s birthplace by the way.

The second part of the trip, was rather appalling, instead of taking us to the city centre, we were brought to a reserved area near some building near ocean that seemed like lighthouses. I did not understand why they would take us there as there was nothing interesting around. 

The third part of the trip was the coolest; the beach! We were given some free time at the beach and used it to the fullest. Rania was at first screaming but later enjoyed it so much that we had to drag her out of the water. The beach was clean, with grey sands; the water was clear and not too cold

I'm building my own sandcastle!

This was a candid shot! I was scratching my head I guess...

Back at the ship, Rania this time asked to go to the kids club – on her own. We picked her up at 6 to dress up for the island frenzy parade at the Royal Promenade. The parade consisted of some entertainer using stilt walkers and was only for 10 minutes – it was too short. 

After having our dinner, we had our photos taken with the Captain. Rania was curious to see the captain – as the only captain she had in mind was Captain Hook –don’t ask me why ;) The Captain was a tall, bearded fella from Canada and seemed like a nice gentleman. From there, we went to the kids’ disco time, and then the theatre to watch a show.  Rania almost fell asleep at the theatre; hence we called it a day at around 10-ish.

Day 7.
Sea- day again. That day, the ship felt a bit shaky at times but it did not ruin our last day of vacation. After breakfast, Rania asked to be dropped at the kids club. We used the time to explore the ship and my husband did wall climbing – talk about having an adventure! 

When we picked Rania up at the kids club we were informed about the talent show for kids. So off we went to the talent show and rania, along with our 3 years olds danced with pom-poms to the tunes. It was so cute.

 After lunch, I decided to have a massage. It was a decision that I did not regret. Although the massage room was a bit shaky, the head-to-toe massage was great and my masseuse was really nice. By 5ish I went to the Jacuzzi, but before that, I joined the people at the poolside, dancing to the songs from the Spanish Duo. It was very cool.

 By 6 we headed down to the Royal Promenade for a parade. The Entertainment director used the occasion to introduce the entertainment officers and casts and we used the occasion to make picture with some of the casts. Rania on the other hand, used the occasion to gather as many as crepe confetti as possible to be used as a pom-pom.
We had our final dinner without Rania as she went to the kids club again and finally, had a chance to talk with the German couple of the table. 
Our dinner for the night and for the holiday? Steak and Lobster!
Nyummy Nyummy!
Even more Nyummy Nyummy!

The dinner was closed with all the waiters singing for us from the stairs. As today was the last day, it was also the day to pay gratuities to staff that served us : our stateroom attendant, which was a very nice guy called Jerome and our waiter and assistant waiter : Efren and Joly (forgot his full name). 

The cruise had stated the minimum gratuities that we must give to each staff, or in our case, we had paid the gratuities upfront. This way, we only received pieces of paper that stated our name and room number and we simply only need to give the papers to our favourite staff.
Back at the room, we were given the luggage tags, which also corresponded to the meeting point and the time of the our departure from the ship. We packed the suitcases, pasted the tags and put them up in front of our door by 11 PM so the staff could pick it up. 

Day 8
Ah... it was the end of our vacation. We put our dirty laundry from the night into a small bag as we did not have our suitcases anymore. We had our final breakfast at the ship, and went to the meeting point in time for our tag number to be called. Once out from the ship, we were taken to the conveyor belt where it shows which tag number belonged in which belt. We took our suitcases and same as at the beginning, from point to point we were advised which way to go and which bus to board. Everything was carefully detailed and they even had some staff in front of the information board at the airport to inform us which check in desk to go to. We arrived at the airport 2 hours before our flight. I would say this best vacation ever! Thank you to Jerome, Efren, Joly (sorry forgot your name), our first waiter Elmer, Suherman, the girls and Alan at the kids club Aquanauts and most importantly, Royal Caribbean. All the best!

Adventure of the Seas, Day 2-3-4

Day 2.
We had our early breakfast in the room - or in the balcony to be precise. Though the room service breakfast was terrible – the feeling of having tea in a balcony overlooking the ocean was priceless. 

We then went to the kids club to drop Rania off. As predicted, it was not easy for Rania and for us too. We left her in the club for about an hour and used the time to explore the ship and dipped our bums in the adults Jacuzzi. It was nothing special -except for the magnificent view – all one could see from the Jacuzzi was the bluish ocean. Wonderful!
The cruise had a lot of activities, all printed out in the ‘Cruise Compass” which acted more like the ship’s daily newspaper with all the activities and important info listed. I went to a seminar called “3 minutes make over”, which turned out was about the use of bronzer. We had our lunch in one of the ‘specialty restaurant’ – one must pay extra to eat there. The food was a so-so, it was not something worthier to pay extra for the restaurant compared to the free meals we got from the normal restaurants.
Around 1 PM the ship arrived in Valencia, Spain and around 2 PM we departed the ship to explore the city with tour booked from the cruise. Tours were not included in the cruise fare and one must book additionally. The extra trips can be booked online prior to cruising (like in our case), or during the cruise at the booking desk. The tour booking desk on the ship had a loooooong queue and we were so relieved that we had everything planned beforehand!
We took the tour called Panoramic Valencia. The tour went to some historic and interesting points of the city. Unfortunately, our guide seemed to be an unenthusiastic fellow, as the way he gave the information was not attention-grabbing, plus it was a Sunday and almost everything was closed, except for some small stores. I might say that this tour was not really interesting, as we should have taken the beach tour or the museum tour. That would have been more interesting.One interesting point in the tour was the City of Science and Arts. Now, that's what I called interesting museums! Rania called them as "houses of Dora.." I wonder who told her that.

We had dinner at the Windjammer just to try something new and finished the day by watching a performance – a tribute to the Bee Gees. The show was above our expectation as we danced and sang, standing up altogether! The performers were almost as good as the original Beeges and they were funny as well.
There was a 70’s disco party after that but we were too tired to attend as it was at 11.30 PM.

Day 3
Had I told that we had a TV in our room? Some were live-feed channels from around the globe and some were in-house channels. One interesting channel was the in-house channel 27 where the cruise’s officers –mainly the cruise director and the entertainment manager discussed about the activities listed in the cruise compass. Sometimes they also played out recording of the show’s activities the night before; hence, I could saw the 70’s party from last night that I missed out.
It was sea day, meaning that no docking out that day. We dropped Rania off again at the kids club with less hassle. I went to “beginner’s Italian class” with a very funny Cultural Director, a French guy called Jerome. After eating, we went off to the ice skating ring to watch a show. It was one hell of a skating cum acrobatic show, especially knowing that the ship’s movement had somehow an effect on skating. The ice skating casts ranged from Baltic to West Europeans but mainly were British and Americans skaters.  Finished with that, we went to the mini golf. Rania had her first mini golf super mini play – it was only for one hole, ha ha ha.

The dinner was ‘formal night’ meaning that we were expected to dress in formal attire – gowns for ladies and black ties for men. Rania wore her pink ball ‘princess’ gown and everyone was just mesmerized by her charms! The food was superb, though we still hadn’t talked to our German friends on the table, hi hi.
By 8.30 PM the diner was done and we went to one of the disco for a Family Disco time for an hour. It was so funny seeing all these little kids and their Moms and Dads with formal attires, dancing to tunes! By 9.30 PM the event finished and we went off to our room.

Day 4.
We arrived in Rome, the eternal City!
We had another ‘breakfast in room’ but this time, no time to en joy the breakfast in balcony. We woke up around 7ish while the tour meet up started at 7.30ish. So we rushed with our breakfast and rushed again to our meeting point. By 7.45, we were already at the bus and men, it was full! As Rania is a toddler and did not have to pay a fare, she did not have any designated seat for her – meaning she would have to sit on my lap on the 1.5 hours drive to Rome! Luckily, another bus was only half full and we were given the choice to change bus. We took the chance and Princess Rania was happy again with her own seat. The drive was 1.5 hours and we passed the breathtaking scenery of Rome countryside, marvellous. 
The Fountain!

We arrived around 10 AM in Rome. The tour that we took was called “Imperial Rome” – it is the second most expensive Rome tour packet of the cruise, with 10 hours of tour and journey, and meals included. The most expensive tour only focussed on the trip to Vatican with a lunch. The cheap Family tour only consisted of a trip downtown with ice cream and a 3 hours free-time. No superhuman could walk around roaming Rome in 3 hours; hence, we decided to book this Imperial Rome tour.
Nice design!
All the tours from the Cruise stated the pace of the tours and the intended recipients: panoramic / slow tour for grannies, medium walking tour, or even long-walking tour, and this tour was considered as a long-walking tour –intended for adults in a good shape. We first drove by the city at a glimpse and stopped at Fontana di Trevi for 15 minutes of Photos and bathroom breaks. From there, we drove to Fatherland Altar and the Forums. We walked all the way to Roman Forum and the Colloseum. The tour guide was a very informative and knowledgeable lady called Rumina with very good level of English, but she was quite a walker! We had to catch a breath to follow her and the temperature that reached almost 39 degrees did not make it easier. Though this was my second time to Rome, this tour had opened my eyes as I saw things and learned history that I did not learn on my first trip. Like Colloseum was called a Colloseum as there used to be a statue of a Colossus (a giant human) at the side of the structure or the fact that there was an underground city underneath Rome, remained to be unburied! 

The girl who did not complain :))
At around 1 PM we went to a small restaurant for our lunch as part of the tour. I was a bit dismayed as we were told that it was a 4 star restaurant, but the restaurant looked dull plus, we were not given a menu as the food was the same for everyone, even Rania, no choice. Luckily the meal, which was tomato pasta with veal and soft cake, was uh-maze-ing! We were also given a free flow of wine and champagne. We sat next to some Americans whom all complimented Rania as she was the only toddler in the group, but she was as strong as the adults, no whining no complaining, nothing! Good girl Rania!
Can you believe that it used to be the Vatican 'Hill'?

At around 2 PM we went off again to the last part of the trip, St Peter’s basilica. The queue for the was overwhelming because there were two queues, first, the queues for physical security check – as Vatican is a different country from Italy ;) Second, a queue for attire check – no short shorts and shoulder must be covered. Again, our guide gave some insights of the church. By 4.45 we were done and had 20 minutes of free time, which I used to look for a book and to search for gelato flavour which was named ‘smurf’ – it was blue in colour! I got the book but could not find the gelato.
Smurf Ice Cream!!

By 5 PM we went back to the bus and by 6.30 PM we arrived at the port. After spending the whole day at 39 degrees, having a breeze inside the ship felt nice! We were too tired to have our dinner at the main dining room hence we went to Wind Jammer. By 9 pm we snoozed out already. 

PS: all photos from our camera, except for the smurf ice cream, the photo belongs to