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Finally the day came when we packed our bags into two cars and shoot off to the Pearl Of  The Orient (Penang). I was exceptionally nervous because this is the first time I am driving long distance and five lives depended on me ie my mom-in-law, dad-in-law, my two sons and of course my own life! I had to follow my bro-in-law’s car since I have no clue as to the directions. Some people are just born without radars!

Thanks to my Penang bro-in-law we had good reason to drive down. Meeting for the first time and dinner with his future in-laws. Oh yes, he’s ending his bachelor days in September soon. We can hardly wait for the church wedding to see the dashing groom and his blushing bride. I am such a romantic softie at heart.

The journey there went smoothly. We had our lunch and I very wisely ordered Fried Kuay Teow (after all, this is one of the dish Penang is famous for!). My dish was up to my expectations but the rest of them were let down by the Kuay Teow soup (tsk! tsk! this is what Ipoh is famous for, not Penang!). Our stomachs filled and off we went to Kek Lok Si Temple. It’s been years since I went. Previous I walked up but this time with the gang, we drove up. Knowing my driving limitations, luckily I asked my bro-in-law to drive as the ride up was steep and narrow.

Oh! The view was breathtaking. Even the slight drizzle did not dampen our enthusiasm. My camera had a life of its own. What a terrific time we had taking photos! There were so many tourists around. The scenery was lovely with its statues in the garden. We took photo at the pavillion. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, we decided to take the famous Penang laksa and boy, did it lived up to its name! Even though it was by the roadside, the tables were full. We went across the road and the service was quick. Aah, I was satisfied after having my bowl of steaming hot laksa. What would the trip be without eating the laksa! Pointless at least for me..

We reached my bro-in-law’s condominum and unpacked. I brought along my boys’ pillows to make them feel at home. Before we knew it, time for dinner with his in-laws. I have never seen his girlfriend and I could hardly wait. It seem like such a long ride to the Chinese restaurant. Parking is horrendous in Penang. They were already there waiting for us. A slim, simple and beautiful girl was my first impression and brainy too from her profession. The dishes were generous in size. Luckily my dad-in-law’s talent for small talk came in handy. He can talked on any topic and to any stranger. The rest of us were slow to break the ice. My niece and nephew who came along, played with my boys while the adults chit-chat. An enjoyable meal all in all and ended with smiles everywhere. Whew! I was afraid the children misbehave but luckily my nightmare did not come true.

The next day searched for the island famous biscuits. I managed to buy for my mum who loves the biscuit. My mission accomplished. Breakfast was Prawn Hokkien noodles which was mouth-watering. The beach beckoned next. Travelling round the island took a lot of our time. My sons could hardly contained their excitement as our hometown do not have any beaches. The children had a grand splashing time. We worked up a good appetite for lunch and it was good old solid rice with dishes.  We decided to go back to the condomium so that the designated drivers (me and my bro-in-law) have a quick snooze. It was a pretty tiring but enjoyable day.

My boys were reluctant to leave but in the end, we bid farewells and the journey to home begun. The holiday rejuvenated my sagging spirits and I felt revitalised even though physically tired because I am the type who have trouble sleeping elsewhere. A five-star hotel room would have been wasted on me because I just need my own bed to sleep! Everyone should have a break now and then with their loved ones because only then we can have lovely memories and feelings to cherish!

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A Glorious Afternoon

I hate festivals. And I waited with dread this coming Chinese New Year. I am not the type who socialise easily nor the type who can talk about anything under the sun. Small talk is alien to me. This is also probably due to the fact that not all is going well in my life. Oh, I am also kind of a private person so I shall not dwell on the difficulties of my personal life. Don’t get me wrong. I still find things to be grateful about.

What a surprise to find that I am having such great fun this festival. Yesterday was a glorious afternoon. Our lovely hostess and host did a wonderful job in setting up a reunion of old schoolmates of over 25 years in their mansion which I can only described as coming right out of a magazine cover! Faces whom I have not seen for more than 2 decades were there. Most of them looked hardly a day older. Of course if you scrutinized closer, you can see some find lines, grey hair (at least those not covered by dye!). Catching up with friends in a wonderful setting – truly the interior decoration was a feast for our eyes. Of course, the spread on the table was delicious too! All have become very successful in their own careers. High flyers actually..Though some have quit the rat race to focus on their families. I wish I could afford to do so! Sadly my pitiful state of finance forbids me..

Today I thought I was meeting with a couple of old schoolmates. And to my surprise, another reunion in an old schoolmate’s house. Today’s reunion was a different group of schoolmates. I must add that I could not recognized a couple of them but slowly my rusty brain started working and memories came flooding back. Oh yes, so some of them have added a couple of pounds but in the end, we started chatting and again time flew..

Well, tomorrow I am meeting another group of people but this group is in my current life – they are friends whom I have made in my working life and whom I kept in constant contact. I shall see whether with the earlier two reunions we shall keep in touch with each other as we have exchanged telephone numbers and email addresses. Due to our hectic working lives and family demands, there is no time for anything left…At least until the next reunion!

A Broken Piece

I read an article called ‘Broken People’  today and I thought how appropriate – that kind of sounded like me. Now, I have always been rather cheerful in my posts but I cannot denied that there is part of me stayed broken inside.

Basically the article stated that when someone went through something terrible, the impact is enormous but he did not realised the implications or just shrugged it off. He lived through life as seemingly normal and functional human being but with a broken piece inside. The article also stated that we shrugged off life’s trial and tribulation pretending they have made us stronger, while in actual fact masking their inner turmoil with routine work and hectic lifestyles.

I am living the best I can with the emotional turmoil that I am facing. Life is bittersweet. Unfortunately it is more bitter at this point of my life. Still, I have a lot to be thankful for. I drawed a lot from my inner strength. No matter what positions we are in, there is someone who is facing an even greater struggle. Someone that we do not know or could be someone in our vicinity – if only we opened our hearts and minds.

Life is tough. There’s no doubt about it. We sailed through obstacles and heartaches in our journey through life. But if we take the time to put things into perspective, there is always something to appreciate and give thanks for. There is a time in life whereby we should slow down and comtemplate where we are heading.

Ever since my beloved dad passed on five years ago from cancer, life has not been the same. He was my confidante, my source of strength and always a pillar of support. Ever the optimistic person, he can see the positive side of things. Life always seemed better with him around. Even as a child, I feared for the day when he leaves us. And of course, the day came sooner than expected. I might already have been a mother myself but still, nothing prepared me for the inevitable. Completely lost, devastated, alone, wondering how I am going to face life without my dad from then on..

My children are my balm in my darkest hour. They soothes my pain with their endearing ways and innocent joy. Naturally with joy there are also heartaches. Nothing pains me more than when my younger son wakes up crying in pain due to his arthritis (JRA/JIA). On the bright side, his juvenile arthritis is under control by medication so far.

My heart skipped a beat when my elder boy asked me with a brave but shaky voice whether I loved his brother more than him. How could he have such an idea? Perhaps I behaved more tenderly towards my younger boy because he is inflicted by pain daily. His pain is just a matter of severity. My words stumbled as I hasten to assure and comfort my elder boy that I loved them both wholeheartedly. I explained that the attention I gave to his brother is due to his condition and luckily he was very brave during the regular trips to hospital. My elder boy seem reassured by my words. I am just so thankful to have my boys in my life. They are loving and affectionate but boisterous when playing together despite the arthritis.

Recently I went to have a cancer test. Luckily it was not as painful as I expected. Even though I am not a Christian yet but my first thought was Praise The Lord, when the test cleared me of that particular cancer. I just felt so relieved and was like given a new lease of life. I just felt a new appreciation for life. I enjoyed more with my boys as I wanted to give them happy memories during their childhood days.

All in all, we should not take the blessings given to us for granted. The satisfaction derived from the pursuit of material things will not last long. Self-indulgence and satisfying own needs first are very common nowadays. It is so easy to lose our focus. I just prayed I have the strength to stay on course.

I do have my own insecurities and inadequacies but all in all, I am thankful for what I have. Just live the best we can for our time on earth will pass by.

A Typical Sunday

Sunday morning began today with the sun shining brightly. After a hurried breakfast, we rushed to church. As with our usual routine, together with my mom after the sermon ended, we went to UO Shopping Mall. My boys were still hungry and so we headed to the Food Court. Laksa for my younger boy and I headed to buy two plates of Nasi Lemak for me and my elder boy. Unfortunately it was sold out. In the end, it was laksa for all of us.

Later my mom emerged with two huge plastic bags filled with groceries.  After sending her back, we rushed back to my in-laws for my boys to take their bath and lunch. Then it was tuition time for my elder boy. Next we headed to a shopping complex which was celebrating its anniversary. Great buys galore! Bought some jeans and T-Shirts for my boys. Sigh! None for me. These are tough times we are living. Cannot afford to splurge on myself. Sob!

Time to fetch my elder boy from his tuition centre. The boys were excited because I detoured to another road instead of heading back home. Heard there was a Science and Technology Exhibition at the Stadium. So, off we went. We could barely made it past the entrance without being cornered by sales people. Saw a rocket ship thingy whereby you had to pay to sit in it for two minutes. We learnt a lot about our local animals, bird species and there were several species of mock rafflesia flowers. Next, we went to another booth whereby there was a giant Aedes mosquito on display. There were some larvaes swimming in a bowl. Both boys eagerly looked into the microscope to view in detail. Younger boy’s comment was a ‘Yuck’. Elder boy was cool about it.

There were a lot of other exhibition booths. How about a robot to clean your floor? Cute little round thing which costs four figure. No problem if you are rich. We had enough and conveniently there was an ice cream vendor on our way out. Naturally we had ice cream being such a hot day and well, I had no choice actually.

By now, it was late afternoon. Time to head back home and relax in the sanctuary of our home. Aah, it was sheer bliss when we stepped into our house because it was so cooling and inviting. What a glorious day!

Just A Happy Day!

How do we define happiness? Is it a state of our mind? Happiness is being in control of our circumstances no matter how down the situation is rather than letting it control ourselves. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I have had my share of unhappiness. Days when I felt so down that I wished I was not born. Thank goodness, moments let this passed by later. If not, I think I would have to see a shrink, I meant psychiatrist. Depression affected a lot of people and it can hit them unknowingly.

The sun shone brightly today. A glorious day to go to church. Met my mom there. As usual, I could hardly understand what the pastor was preaching because of communication barrier. Wish my mom went to the English session. My sons refused to go to Sunday School for the same reason. They have difficulty understanding the language which is actually Mandarin. Well, we do loved the church gospel songs. We had refreshments after that and mingle around with other members.

After that, we went to a shopping complex. Food, food, food is all we ever bought each time. It’s a wonder all of us are so skinny. I wished we can put on some weight. Sometimes, I think what is wrong with us. It is no fun when I get commented on this each time an acquantaince saw me after a while.

My sons played some games at the Play Station and were really happy. Even my younger boy was very active with no complaints of his joints. Later in the car, he told me he wanted to paint a picture as a surprise for me for taking them to play. And that he did with his hands and shirt full of colourful paints. He drew a picture of him and wrote his name, with some flowers and a sun in the background. What a dear! He can drive me around the bend and yet he can be so thoughtful at times. My elder boy wrote on a paper to thank me for taking them out. I kind of suspected that he did that only because his younger brother painted a picture and he did not want to be left out!

All in all, it was a happy and carefree day. Sometimes children can be so exasperating but you would truly missed them if they were not around. They soothe my wounds when the chips are down. I loved them to bits…

It began with an unexplained pain in his right knee one day. I scrutinised for sign of bruises and cuts. Having found none, I interrogated my younger boy as to what happened and whether he fell down. All he could gave me was a puzzled look. Well, he’s only six after all.

Thus began our trips to the doctors, specialists, and so forth. A bone specialist said it is growing pains that afflicted some children. Whereas a doctor specialising in eastern medicine said he had child arthritis. We could not believe our ears. Arthritis at his age! After countless medicine and trips back to his paedrician who confirmed after numerous blood tests and X-Rays that he did have arthritis.

Since our state does not have an expert on child rheumatism, we had to go to a hospital in another state. The good doctor explained that he had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) or Juvenile Idiopahtic Arthritis (JIA). The causes are not known but research indicated that it is an autoimmune disease. In short, this means that the white blood cells lose the ability to differentiate the body’s own healthy cells and harmful invaders. Thus instead of protecting the body, it releases harmful chemicals that can damage harmful tissues and cause inflammation.

And now my little boy has inflammation in his right knee and left wrist. He has Oligoarticular JIA which meant four or fewer joints affected. Since oral medication proved futile, he had medication injected directed into his joints by the outstation Consultant Paedrician Rheumatologist. So, far it has been five days since the injections. He had to be sedated before undergoing the treatment. He did not cry even once but just asked in a shaky voice with a huge tear squeezing out from his eye whether it will end soon. My own will nearly gave way upon seeing him lying so fragile on the hospital bed and asking me with such a trusting voice.

I know people always say God works in mysterious ways but I wonder why some children have to go through so much pain. There is a reason probably but so far I have not found it yet…