Saturday, January 29, 2011

What is important, Mum?

Tonight I reached home around 9.30 - my earliest since the New Year.  I had my dinner and was just about "dumping" myself in my favourite corner of the sofa when Damia came "dumping" herself right next to me.

"Ibu, can you show me how to print? she started asking.
"I will but later, Darling." I responded.
"Ibu, is energy saving important?" she asked again.
"Yes, Darling, it is." Heaven knows where this is going to, I thought.
"Ibu, what else is important?"
Little that I know that I was going to be caught by a six going on seven-year-old.
"Being polite, being clean,...." I answered almost absent-mindedly. Then when she answered back, I was almost ashamed with myself, for she said,
"But Ibu, I thought Love is the most important thing of all."
And with that, I looked at her. With different eyes this time.
"Yes, Darling. You are right. Love is the most important thing."
"What if people have no love, Ibu?"

Now, it's time to think properly before giving an answer.

People with no love? Will they necessarily be cruel? Mean? Heartless? Will they search and search for love? Well, I seriously have no answer to that. At least not yet, not tonight. Maybe I can get away tonight for she was busy watching £1,000,000 Drop after receiving no response from me. But, I know I cannot get away for long.  Between tonight and tomorrow night, I will have to come out with an answer.  Till then... let me have my forty or a hundred twenty winks. For to be frank, I have yet any clue for the best answer. Moments later when I felt something warm resting on my shoulder, I can't do much but kiss her forehead and cheek and whispered in her ears that no matter what I will make sure that she will get the most important thing of all - all her life - LOVE.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Of Cravings

I do have cravings from time to time.  The most recent, a marmalade.  Marmalade? You may asked. I was re-reading a book by Alexander McCall Smith the other day when there was a mention of marmalade. It brings me back to  the time when I was reading "Alice in Wonderland" many, many years back and was wondering (at that time) whether I pronounced the word correctly.  Well, since then, I do enjoy marmalade from time to time. I can't really say I love it but I do enjoy whenever I have access to it.  Unlike jam or honey or even peanut butter where you take a spoonful directly into your mouth, you cannot do the same with marmalade, the bitterness puts you off - at least in my case.  Anyway, bitter or not I really enjoy it whenever I allow myself to it- a simple indulgence more like.

So imagine my disappointment a fortnight ago when my newly bought bottle of thick cut marmalade rolled from the grocery bag as we opened the back of the car and crashed into our tiled lawn! I almost felt like crying when it happened right before my eyes! Anyway, this week I bought another and hmm.... how heavenly it was! 

Talking about marmalade, most people will have it with toast and coffee; in Alexander McCall Smith's book, the characters took it with oatcakes. I am not too choosy, I can spread it over cream crackers; toast, or even over fairy cakes!!! when this happened I will try to stabilise the sweetness by taking hot tea without sugar - I normally take my tea with sugar.

Well, before I dispose myself for the night, let me share with you some facts on Marmalade :
Why it is called Marmalade?

According to legend, French-Speaking Mary Queen of the Scots, wasn’t feeling well. She requested for her servants to make her a medicinal concoction made by boiled oranges. Soon, the kitchen room was bursting with activities, servants rushing to get her the medicine,while shouting Marie Malade, which is french for Mary Sick though leading to marmalade. 
Of course it is just a legend! Marmalade was created long before the Scottish Queen was born! Marmalade comes from the Portuguese word, Marmelada.

And yes, Marmalade has a long association with the Scottish city of Dundee, where there is a factory named the Dundee Marmalade.

The traditional citrus fruit for making marmalade is the seville orange.  It is higher in pectin than sweet oranges and the peel has a bitter taste which gives the bitterness in marmalade.

Good Night Everyone :-D

(Sources of image : dundee marmalade from; Alice in Wonderland from; seville oranges from

Monday, January 3, 2011

Of Holidays & Hitchin Market

The children are still on holiday.  Since last weekend was a long one for me, I spent a lot of time with them (after all these while!).  As usual for children, they are not always good - they can be very peaceful - all four of them in harmony or you can sometimes think you are in a war zone when they are not in their best behaviours. More often than not, I just let them be - as long as there is no harm done.  But at times, I did wonder whether they are really my children - especially when Damia was belting out "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in the most saddest, melancholic manner on top of her voice - Goodness me!  I just hope the neighbour won't be complaining one of these days. She's going to be six soon but imagine how it is when she turns into her teenage years! I don't even want to think about it...Nope! She can take time reaching there...

A Mushroom?

But that is quite nothing as compared to when everyone have piled into the car for outing - which was seldom due to the cold weather - just as everyone settled, nicely tucked in their respective belts, suddenly a soft cry can be heard. "What is wrong?", "Why are you crying?" And came the answer,"Hakim said I looked like a mushroom!" And how good it felt to give Hakim his well-deserved spank! But, of course that was only in thoughts - Hakim is safe, for then! And just as we reached our destination, somebody was saying "I need to go now!". "Didn't you go just now? Before we left? I thought I asked all of you to go before we left the house?" And we just shook our heads and depending on the gender, one of us will have to accompany him or her. And just as we thought it will be smooth sailing, someone will announce "I'm hungry, can I have something now?" "We just had our breakfast before we left". "But I'm hungry." Now you really have to grit your teeth and take a deep breath. Hmm... those are just little examples. Parenting is tiring - it drains you of all  your energy.  But anyway, let's not talk about that - I will frighten those who are going to start a family.  Anyway, despite all that - they can give you joy - an enormous one at that! Trust me :-D

The blue & white striped stalls are where the car boot is held

One of our favourite outings every weekend is the Hitchin Market. It is an award winning market which opens every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. It is a general market as well as an Antiques & Collecters market every Friday.  Every last Saturday of the month, it holds a Farmers  & Crafts Market.  But on Sundays, it's always Car Boot sales - though it is in the form of hard standing stalls. When we first discovered the place, the children were so... excited asking if we can go there every weekend. So, we have been frequenting Hitchin Market since.

The St Mary's Church

The car boot at Hitchin market offers diversified items - books, toys, knitwear (a full length knitted coat priced from £3 - a bargain?), cds, dvds, art & crafts, sewing materials, textiles, fruits and vegetables, clothings, handbags - really, you never know what you can find - that's what the children (and their parents) like here.  Some of the stalls are selling brand new items too! Our trips here brought back some dvds, tablecloth, toys, shoes (a brand new football boots, really at £3), books and of course vegetables and fruits - especially chestnuts - hmm... yummy!

Hitchin Town

It is not quite unlike George Street in Luton, really. But maybe because we are here on Sundays, it is not at all busy. Not quite sure on other days of the week. Today is especially quiet. Maybe because most people are still on holidays.  Next week, if we are there early enough, we may get bargains on brand new items - you see, some people took their unwanted Christmas gifts to sell at the car boot sale.  I am on the look out for a new containers for sugar and herbs - Hakim accidentally broke the cover of the sugar container - and a letter opener. Hope I have some luck next week.

Till then :-D

Source of School Holiday image :

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Enter 2011

The snow had disappeared. It is quite warm now. Today, it is forecasted to be between -1 to 5 degrees. There's a promise of the sun sharing its rays with us today - a big relief. We woke up much later than usual. It's time to look forward to a new day.  The earth looked washed through. Was it raining last night?

Looking back as the curtain fell over 2010, I think I have had a good year. Not that it was easy though. Last year saw me juggling between going to classes while taking care of the children. There were times when I have no choice but to bring them to School. I was grateful to the Lecturers then for understanding - when I came to the lecture with one or two children trailing behind me. More grateful when thay make them feel welcomed.  Aqil always have to follow me - And he became quite famous too at School.  Overall, it was very tiring. Juggling between studying and parenting are real hard work.  Not to mention days when I have to go for discussions to prepare for presentations and days of lab work ... I am glad I managed unscathed. And somehow I managed to graduate.

2010 is not without its share of sadness - lost of a family member, a family member being diagnosed with level 3 of the Big C, another fell and in stroke - But we have to stay strong and to be even stronger. Only prayers for Mercy from the Al Mighty makes it a bit easier to shoulder.

Since we are practically on our own makes us one very close-knit family. We depend on each other to survive. We tackled obstacles together and understood how important it is for us to stay together no matter what we have to face.  We were grateful for what little that we have for we can't afford to be lavish. But none of us complaint. We made the children learned that they can't always have things new and to praise the Lord with everything good that come our way no matter how small.

Now I look at them with very different eyes. These 5 team members of mine, who sacrificed their comfortable life to go through difficult times with me to support me chasing my dream - they are real gems to me. They provided me with the much needed strength to move on and fired the determination when I almost gave up. For that, I Thank You, Darlings....

Happy New Year Everyone :-D