Life's like that!

April 28, 2011

Family Storytime - Frogs

This evening, I brought DD1 to the nearby public library to attend a family storytime while husband took care of DD2 at home.

About 10 kids and their parents attended the program. Today's theme was about frogs, so the Librarian read two books for preschoolers:

1. Jump Frog Jump by Robert Kalan
2. A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson

Then she sang two nursery rhymes with the kids. I can only recall one of them and here are the words:

Two little froggies sitting on a hill
One named Jack, and the other named Jill
Jump away Jack, jump away Jill
Jump back Jack, jump back Jill

At the end of the program, the kids got to make a frog puppet with paper bags. DD1 had a lot of fun saying the rhymes and acting it out as well. When we got back home, we drew and cut out a snake, a fish and a turtle to play with her frog puppet according to the story in the book 'Jump Frog Jump.

All praise be to Allah SWT DD1 really enjoyed this interactive program at the public library. Allah SWT willing next Thursday husband will bring DD1 to the library for the family storytime.


End-of-Year Reflection

What did I learn? (skills, knowledge, awareness, etc.)

What did I accomplish? A list of my wins and achievements.

What would I have done differently? Why?

What did I complete or release? What still feels incomplete to me?

What were the most significant events of the year past? List the top three.

What did I do right? What do I feel especially good about? What was my greatest contribution?

What were the fun things I did? What were the not-so-fun?

What were my biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties?

How am I different this year than last?

For what am I particularly grateful?


April 27, 2011

Palm PDA Graveyard

Four years ago, When I worked as a librarian I invested in a Palm Tungsten E2 to help me manage the library better.

Then when I decided to stay at home with DD1 three years ago, I used the PDA as an address book and played Solitaire on it occasionally. I also bought a wireless keyboard in New York City when I visited a green expo with my younger brother. I bought it so that I can type notes with the keyboard instead of using the stylus.

Yesterday I went online and found this web site 'Palm PDA Graveyard'. According to this website, technical support for all palm PDAs ceased in 2009. So I guess I'll have to search online for freeware that other palm PDA diehard fans create.


Crazy gas prices!

Yesterday morning, I pumped $20 worth of gasoline into husband's car on my way to work. Gas price was $3.68 per gallon.

Yesterday afternoon, I pumped $30 worth of gasoline into my car on my way home. Gas price was $3.79 per gallon.

What can I say? Just gotta bit the bullet and pay for it with an arm and a leg.


Za'atar Recipe

When I lived in West Texas several years ago, I had my first taste of za'atar bread made by an Egyptian friend whose husband was working as a professor at the university where I worked.

I immediately fell in love with this delicious snack and had hoped to learn how to make it for myself and my family.

All praise be to Allah SWT two months ago, a teacher made a stack of za'atar bread for my because I was craving for it, and taught me how to make it. So I bought a packet of pre-mixed za'atar from a greek grocery store and made it at home. Husband and DD1 both loved it! Now I plan to make it at least once a week for the whole family to enjoy.

Recipe from here.


1/4 cup sumac
2 tablespoons thyme
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Grind the sesame seeds in food processor or with mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Direction for toasting za'atar on pita bread:
1. Mix 1/3 cup of za'atar with 1/2 cup of olive oil.
2. Spread mixture on top of a pita bread.
3. Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree F toaster oven for 10 minutes.

*Store za'atar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, za'atar can be used from 3-6 months.


April 25, 2011

Reunion with an old friend

All praise be to Allah SWT this morning, an ex-colleague who used to teach Arabic in Pre-K and elementary levels came to visit. She and her family moved to the Saudi Arabia three years ago. Although we did not stay in touch when she was away, I really miss her and always remember her dedication and love for her students.

When I worked as the school's librarian, she used to help me select Arabic books and translate the titles into English for easy cataloging. Tears of joy flew down my face as I hugged her. We chatted for a while in the cafeteria.

All praise be to Allah SWT she now has four kids, three boys and a girl. Allah SWT willing her family will be moving back to the United States soon and she intend to send her children to the school where I working. I am so thankful that I'll get to see her more often and really looking forward to hanging out with her.


April 20, 2011

Playing with Dolls

Several months ago, I bought a Mulan doll for DD1.

After watching the Disney movie version of 'Mulan' with DD1, I found the doll on sale at a nearby grocery store. So I bought one for her and played the doll with her to reinforce the good values bravery and obedience to one's parents. In addition, I also purchased two Chinese books with English translation about Hua Mu Lan's story. I took time to explain to DD1 how the story of Mulan in those books are different from the movie version. DD1 loves to read these books with me and talks about how Mulan was brave to fight the bad guys. She even asked me if she could learn Chinese martial arts like Kung Fu so that she can fight like Mulan.

When DD1 goes to her babysitter, she brings her Mulan doll along and tells her babysitter about Mulan's story. I explained to her babysitter that I want DD1 to play with dolls but not to focus on the doll's proportion and beautiful outfits. Instead I want her to understand a doll's character and learn to focus on the doll's good morals.


No eggs for me

Yesterday afternoon, I threw up in school.

I had three eggs on Monday night, and felt really sick yesterday morning. Determined to shake off the nauseous feeling, I went to work and felt horrible the whole morning. Even though I tried to have crackers and bread with cheese, it did not help. So I had to threw up everything in my stomach and felt only slightly better. After that I couldn't focus on helping students with the state standardized test preparation for next week's tests, I told the 4th grade teacher that I am going home early to rest. All praise be to Allah SWT, she was understanding and told me to get some good rest.

Before I left school, I called husband and asked him to pick up DD1 and DD2 at the babysitter's place. I am thankful that he was able to leave work early to do so.

Coincidentally another teacher who is also pregnant now told me that she would throw up after eating eggs. Since eating eggs made me sick when I was pregnant with DD1 and DD2, I should have know better. Looks like I'll have to eat more tempeh as an alternate source of protein for eggs.


My girl is going to school

All praise be to Allah SWT, DD1 has been accepted into the school where I am working. Next school year, she will be attending kindergarten.

I am thankful that Allah SWT has given me DD1. She is a happy child and is learning to take on big responsibilities as an elder sister. She is also eager to explore the world around her and let her curiosity take her to new and interesting places.

So far I have not been tired of answering her million questions of why things happen; rather I have find it delightful to impart my knowledge to her, and prompt her to think about possible answers for her questions. Often I introduce new concepts in its simplest form when I think she is able to comprehend them. For example, when she asked if baby #3 is in my tummy, I told her that he is in my womb. And I explain to her that Allah SWT gave a womb to every woman for babies to grow. So now she knows that our stomach is for digesting food while a woman's womb is a home for babies.

I am thankful that DD1 has a fun-loving personality but knows when to be serious when it comes to getting work done. Last night, she helped me to fold laundry and we finished the task in 15 minutes. Although it took her a while to fold her pants and her sister's cloth diapers, she was happy that she could help around the house. Sometimes when I am preparing meals in the kitchen, she would play with her sister and make her laugh. I always try to praise DD1 with comments such as 'I am proud of you for playing puppets with your sister while I am busy.' or 'Allah is very happy with you for sharing your toys with your sister.' right after she did that.

Allah SWT willing I hope that through patience and guidance, I can cultivate a strong loving bond among my kids as they grow up together.


April 14, 2011

Ice Skating for DD1

This Saturday, Allah SWT willing, I am bringing DD1 to the nearby ice skating center. When I was in secondary school, I used to roller skate often. I remember buying my first pair of yellow roller skates from one of the shops in the Queensway Shopping Center. Then in junior college, I switched to ice skating at the one and only ice skating rink in Serangoon. I do not profess to be an expert skater, but for the most part I was able to stay on my feet and skated pretty well.

Since DD1 is more active now, and has expressed interest in ice skating, I want to see if she has a talent for this sport. Allah SWT willing if she does, I plan to let her take some lessons from a certified instructor at the ice skating center. Even if she can only stand on her two feet in the ice skating rink, I want her to learn better balancing skills, and adapt good body posture. I can't wait to ice skate with DD1 after baby #3 is born!


April 13, 2011

Mellow Baby

This afternoon, the 4th grade teacher's eldest daughter brought her 3-month-old son to the school. He is such a quiet and adorable baby! He wore a cute little blue t-shirt with the words 'I dig grandma!'. While his grandma held him, he did not fuss at all. He just sat on her lap or rest in her arm quietly and enjoyed looking around the classroom. When his grandma read a picture book to him, his big eyes focused on the colorful illustrations and responded happily after every page that she read to him. Allah SWT willing, I hope baby #3 has a mellow personality when he is born.


April 12, 2011






   现在,都市里出现了“低薪休闲族”,他们重视生活质量,宁愿放弃高薪却紧张的工作来换取更多的休息时间,从而达到一种“可持续发展”,而不是像以往那样 拼命工作挣钱!他们的特征就是经常休假或辞职,然后独自穿行名山大川,体验风餐露宿的快乐;放弃假日丰厚的加班费,结伴驱车驰骋于荒山大漠;因为周末经常 出差,和经理闹翻脸;在转工跳槽时,宁可要低职低薪,甚至主动放弃高职高薪,为的是拥有一份悠闲和快乐的心情……

  “低薪休闲族”让人多 少有点跌眼镜。不过也说明有更多的人开始把身体健康和享受生活作为生活的目标来追求了。很多人在物质生活尽管实现了“小康”,但精神生活、身体状况却没有 实现“小康”。很多人永远仍然像只不停旋转的陀螺,不由自主地把闲暇的时间全部投进去,以期得到更多的钱和权力。


   我还有一个朋友年轻能干,在一家大型跨国公司做业务经理很多年,年薪十多万元。但最近却要跳槽,不是往高处走,而是找了个没什么加班(当然薪水也少)的 单位上班。他的理由是因为工作太忙,长年累月加班加点,身心疲惫到极点,最近到医院体检,发现患了冠心病,他为此非常郁闷。“健康是最重要的,没有健康钱 再多有什么用?”在高薪与身体不可兼得时,他放弃高薪工作。现在的他过得很逍遥自在,时间多了,有空就钓钓鱼,旅旅游,逛逛街,“钱少的生活好像更有生活 的质感,以前人好象是漂的!”他说。


  钱是永远都挣不完的,而生命对我们却只有一次,所以健康和快乐才是最重要的,失去了这两样,再多的钱也只能是废纸。“低薪休闲族” 为了寻求生活中的平衡点,他们不太愿意像前辈那样牺牲个人生活。他们重视的价值观是真正的友情、快乐和幸福。





April 11, 2011

Back to container gardening

Yesterday, I brought DD1 and DD2 to the nearby garden center.

I bought 2 cubic feet of garden soil, 1 Chinese eggplant seedling and a bottle of slow-release fertilizers for flowers and vegetables.

Due to the pending birth of baby #3 in August, I decided to go back to container gardening this summer. I thought about the effort and time needed to weed the vegetable garden in the backyard, and realized that husband would not have the time nor energy to keep up with it since he will be taking care of two kids, chickens/quail, rabbit and guinea pig.

DD1 helped to sow some okra and green bean seeds into pots that I moved from the backyard to the front porch. I also repotted rosemary, sage and thyme since they need more space for their roots. All praise be to Allah SWT, I am now 5 months pregnant and still able to handle light gardening.

Now the only gardening chore will be weekly light weeding and daily watering. Allah SWT willing I will let DD1 help with these easy chores.


Soccer practice

All praise be to Allah SWT, baby #3 is having soccer practice everyday now.

I'm glad that he is active and exercising his limbs, but I am still trying to get use to having the fluttering feeling in my tummy.

DD1 has been saying that she wants to play with baby #3 when he is born. She also keeps saying that she and DD2 used to be in my womb when they were babies. Last month, when she asked me how did she and her siblings get into my womb, I told her that Allah SWT made it happen. I don't think this is the right time to go into the birds and the bees.

Allah SWT willing I hope that her interest in the birth of her baby brother will help to reduce the jealousy that she'll feel when the baby is here in mid-August.


A short story about focusing on the day of judgement

Received via community mailing list.

A young man came to a shaykh (knowledgeable Muslim scholar) and said, “I am a young man with strong desires. I cannot help looking at people when I am in the bazaar(market). What do I do?” The shaykh handed him a cup of milk that was full to the brim, and told him to deliver it to an address that would take the young man directly through the bazaar (market). He then instructed the young man that the milk should not spill, and the man said that it would not. The shaykh then summoned one of his students and told him to accompany the man through the bazaar to the destination, and to severely beat him if any milk were to spill.

This man successfully took the milk to the destination and returned to give the good news to the shaykh. The shaykh asked, “Tell me, how many sights and faces did you see in the bazaar?” The man replied incredulously, “Sheik, I didn’t even realize what was going on around me. I was only fearful of the beating and disgrace that I would have to endure in public if a drop of milk were to spill.”

The shaykh smiled and said, “It is the same with a believer. The believer fears that Allah may disgrace him in front of the entire creation on the Day of Judgment if his faith were to spill over from his heart.” Such people save themselves from sin because they constantly remain focused on the Day of Judgment !

April 02, 2011

Ah Choo!

All praise be to Allah SWT, all of us are recovering well from the cold/flu. Yesterday, the babysitter said that DD2 finally smiled at her for the first time since Wednesday. This means that she has recovered from the cold that started last Thursday. DD1 slept more than usual, but she was also more energetic after she woke up. Husband's ear infection is going away and he is also recovering from a cold. My chest congestion is easing and I am able to sleep better at night. The only health problem I have now is allergies. Itchy, watery and red eyes are something I am not looking forward to have when I am pregnant. I cannot take any allergy medicine and just have to tough it out. Allah SWT willing I hope that by eating more garlic and putting a cut onion on the kitchen counter top will help to ease this problem. Read about how onions can help you to fight infections. >Benefits of Onions for Cold and Flu Symptoms