Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Increasing productivity.

Staying at home with no fixed routine.. It's really easy to lose track of what I did/have been doing the whole day. By the time Adam comes home from work he usually asks, so what have you been up to?

Most answers will usually begin with, hmm.. think!

I have to, since then, find a way to keep track of things - be it what I want to do, or what I should do. So I came up with this.


My own personal planner/organiser.

Inspired by bullet journaling, except that I still can't seem to get my head around the concept. Given that I'm partially OCD to things, I like to have a bit of structure with my planner. Not so carefree, after all. So I came up with a layout that I thought suits me best for now. You can see on the right side things are still a little bit all over the place - I'm working on how best to tackle it. But the main focus is on the weekly spread/layout.

Note that tasks are not arranged in order of importance or time of the day. Also, I just have to break down tasks into small chunks, especially when it comes to daunting things. In my case it's always the laundry. So to make it less painful, I often break laundry to 3 things - angkat, lipat, kemas.

You can argue that they all fall into the same chore of laundry, but since I really dread doing them, I often take my own time with it. (Sometimes, too much time). Often I angkat dried clothes and dump them on the ironing board next to drying rack and leave them overnight. Or I lipat them, and leave them on the bed, alternating between bed and chair, before I finally simpan them nicely into the clothes drawer. Now that's the whole of laundry done.

Another thing that I find really useful is this little tracker.


This tracker is specific for my spiritual daily habits. Before I went on maternity leave, I was so determined to up my iman game. Work got in the way all these while and I just couldn't seem to adjust these into my daily life. So this weekly tracker helps me to get back on track.

If anything, a tick alone is enough to become my motivation. For example, I've been feeling so sluggish after asr prayer that I just wanted to skip mathurat pm altogether. But comes maghrib, my mind starts to ponder.. If I sit another 5-7 minutes longer after prayer for mathurat.. I can get another tick.

Hopefully I'll get to a point where it becomes a habit, rather than merely a tick..

Anyways, this is one of the things that I do to increase my productivity, and so far it works brilliantly. I'm continuously trying to improve the layout, probably add another few things to it. But feel free to tweak things/add different kinds of tracker, e.g. healthy eating, less spending, exercise, whatever works for you!

And oh, I learnt the hard way - it doesn't have to be pretty to work. My OCD level is quite annoying in a sense that I won't do/write/plan things if it's not pretty. So I decided to go simple with black pen and a blank book. And like I said, it works. :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Seed: 35 weeks.

This week's been pretty odd, I have to say. It's an alternate between fasting and non-fasting days. I know, I know. I haven't actually finished my ganti puasa just yet. (Head hung down). I have a few days left and am so determined to finish it before giving birth, because there'll be another 30 days of fasting awaits once Seed pops out. He's due just before Ramadhan, so I'm pretty sure that's the whole month of no-fast for me (nifas, or lochia as they say here, gross, sorry). (Btw no-fast, nifas, geddit geddit?). Anyways, a little bit about fasting at the end of pregnancy.

I don't think it's entirely recommended, but I can imagine if you're actually pregnant in Ramadhan itself, you wouldn't want to just skip them altogether. There's no right or wrong to it, everyone's different. But here's what I've been doing.

1. Fast on alternate days. Maghrib here is now around 8pm, and fajr around 4am, therefore not much time to gulp down that 2 litres of water overnight. And even if I manage to, that means no sleep at all as I'll be on a conveyor belt between the bed and bathroom. So fasting on alternate days give me time to recover my fluid intake.

2. Keep an eye on baby's movement. This is key. I learnt it the hard way when I was dehydrated while working and had reduced foetal movement (baby not moving much). This time while fasting, although I don't feel particularly tired or hungry, I'm always alert whenever Seed moves. I even talk to him, reassuring him that we only have however-many-hours left to go. Baby pep-talk, anyone?

3. Sahur. Self-explanatory. Drink plenty of water. If you missed sahur, I honestly feel it might be safest to just skip fasting on that day.

4. Or just ganti puasa awal-awal. Take it from me. I had the chance to do it in winter time when maghrib is at 4pm but I was working like mad so didn't quite feel like it. Looking back, I really have should.

Anyways, on to baby things now. I managed to sort quite a few bits out. Productivity is catching up!


The view before. I always joked that we could've set up a baby garage sale in the living room.


Managed to do some laundry of these tiny things. Still quite a few left, but I think if Seed comes out tomorrow (please don't!) we're good to go.

Wait, we haven't bought nappies yet (!!).


Tiny socks for tiny feet. Adam thought my socks are annoying enough (I have 5 pairs of identical grey socks), so when he was hanging these up.. My heart goes out to him.


Even managed to sort out a little corner for Seed!

Here's the tricky thing about preparing for this little one's arrival. We're going home for good in around August, inshaAllah. (I'll go into that some other day.) So we want to really limit on things to buy, given that we then would have to think about shipping later. I'm desperate to focus on necessities - what babies really need, but at the same time I'm trying to be well-prepared too. It is hard. For example, how would you know if you're gonna need that breast pump later? What if baby latches perfectly fine so we won't be needing it at all? And pumping means bottles. Do we buy them now, or should we wait? Hint: we didn't wait.

Another thing worth mentioning is that, most of Seed's stuff are second-hand. Being thrifty is one thing, but for the most part, I don't see why babies need brand new things (especially clothes) since they grow up so fast. This is, of course, each to their own. If you have the capacity for it, by all means. We, on the other hands, are rather tight on space, mainly. We can afford them if we want, Alhamdulillah, but we'd rather save up, especially given that we're going home soon, and that means no income for a while until we figure something out.

So most of the clothes that you see are all second-hands, bought from Gumtree, at a total cost of £15. I appreciate some would disagree, what more with this as our first-born and we're both earning pretty good amount, so why not just splurge a little bit. It's more of a personal choice, really.


The real challenge is not resisting to buy new, but how to make do with what we already have. So here's part of the solution - little boxes! There's absolutely no point in buying new rack or wardrobe, so I figure these shoe and Amazon boxes work pretty neat. 

So.. The boxes you see on the shelves.. Yup, they're practically Seed's wardrobe. Not sure how long they'll stay organised in this way, but I do hope at least until August!

Also the highlight of this week..

We had an adorable little surprise in the mail!


This came while Adam was at work. Since it's addressed to S. Adam, I thought I'd let Adam open it (his name is vaguely there, how mysterious). Apparently he was just as clueless as I was. 


But then.. Mystery solved! This came from Nadd. And the "S" stands for Seed.


Well this thing is just too cute. You know how we always say "I don't want to adult anymore"? This is just the thing for tiny humans.

I call it the "How to Baby" guide book.


Look at that. The one on the left? Thanks Nadd, I foresee myself watching/rehearsing word by word of whatever cartoon there is in future.

So yes, I still have plenty to go through - haven't washed the towels and beddings just yet. And I need to think of what to put into the hospital bags. But I'm already pleased with this week's achievement so I'm just going to put my feet up a bit and chill!

Also, it might be worth saying this now as a reminder for future me - one whole week into maternity leave, and it already feels AWESOME. Adam comes home to nicely cooked food every time, his clothes laundered and ironed.. It's a satisfaction on its own. I mean, is this what the stay-at-home-mums feel? Pretty awesome I'd say.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Seed: 34 weeks.

Hitting 34 weeks feels like taking this pregnancy to a whole new level. No joke.

I AM OFFICIALLY ON MATERNITY LEAVE!


Look. At. That. Bump. Smile.

If I'm honest there were times when I doubted myself if I really could do it - doctoring while being heavily pregnant. The tiredness, the stress, the lack of sleep.. Everything! I even wondered what would happen if I took the last 2 days off because I was in so much discomfort over the weekend that by Monday I was just exhausted.

But I made it through, Alhamdulillah!

Speaking of the weekend, here's what happened. Braxton Hicks. Yes, Braxton Hicks was what happened. I've had them before, so it's not like I didn't know what was coming. But over the weekend they were so strong and frequent and lasted for what felt like hours! My bump could go rock solid for a very long time, that sometimes I found myself doing the deep slow breathing just to ease it off. 

Btw Braxton Hicks are false contractions in preparation for the actual labour. They're often irregular without any pattern. Not particularly painful, but CAN be very very, very, uncomfortable.

I rang the midwife on Monday just to check if what I had was normal - first pregnancy, not a clue. She advised that it did sound like my tummy was just practicing for the actual day, so nothing to be worried about. And Seed's been moving fine too, not that I'm overly worried anyway. I think I was just so exhausted from the discomfort, more than anything. It's easing off now, thank God.

Speaking of Seed, we can often feel his feet sticking out just under my ribs a lot of the times. It's pretty funny because I like to poke them and he would then kick back in annoyance (I imagine). Haha.

Adam and I also went to an antenatal class aimed for first time parents last week. Free on NHS, so why not. 

And the class was.. Okay. I was hoping for more practical advice, like real-life solution for things. But it was a lot of medical facts, e.g. stages of labour, pain relief ladder.. Most of them I already knew. I guess it'd be more useful for laypersons, not quite for those who are well-acquainted with hospital and medical stuff.

I am now sitting in bed typing this while thinking of the amount of chores to tackle while I'm off. It's very tempting to think that I've got all the time in the world to do them, but so far my only achievement are cooking lunch and doing one load of laundry.

Hoping for a more productive me soon. Phew.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Seed: 33 weeks.

33 weeks! How time flies! Here in UK, when you register your pregnancy with your midwife/GP (wow that feels like aaages ago), they often give you a starter pack for pregnancy - depending on which organisation they partner with, e.g. Bounty or Emma's Diary. The starter pack often includes a booklet/magazine on pregnancy and gazilion leaflets of pregnancy/baby-related products - some of them might be useful, most of them are marketing works. 

But the one thing that I love about the packs is that they often come with vouchers for freebies! So naturally the thrifty in me went through each and every one of the magazine, looking for vouchers that I could claim. And we spent the last week or so hunting these little goodies down. 

Bounty.com

The packs come in 3 types. Mum-to-be, Newborn, and Family Pack, depending on where you are at your pregnancy/motherhood. So I got the Mum-to-be one.


This one's got nappies from Boots own brand, Sudocrem nappy rash cream, Persil detergent wash and some pantyliners from Always. Always in UK is a bit like Kotex in Malaysia - they're pretty much the leading brand for sanitary towels, given that there's not a lot of choice as people often prefer tampons here!

Emma's Diary

So far I've got the Bump to Baby and Mum to Be packs. They're quite okay, just that I don't really see the point of having a baby bunting. Maybe it's because we don't intend to convert the second room aka Adam's office to baby's room, perhaps? And we're not going crazy with this baby's stuff, so we're more focused on needs as opposed to wants.

I quite like the samples though.


Apart from the bunting, there are samples from Pampers, Metanium nappy rash cream (this is widely used in hospitals) and a bunch of Lansinoh products - baby wash, breastmilk storage bags and a pair of nursing pads. I've read that the nursing pads are really good for leaky boobs, but we'll see. 

(I'd accept if you guys stop reading at this point, too mak-mak, lol).


Another pack contains more nappies from Boots, Palmer tummy butter, more Persil detergent (we have always used Persil anyway!) and more samples of pads and pantyliners for those accident-prone days. Or even normal days, who am I kidding.

All in all, it's still better than nothing! I still think nappies make the best samples, for obvious reasons. They are definitely needed - and purchasing one brand in one size in bulk without really knowing whether your baby will get on with them doesn't sound like a wise idea. 

The same goes with bottles. If only I could get a sample of some of the brands.. How I wish! I ended up buying a starter set anyway - they're on sale, can't resist, don't judge. So hopefully Seed will get on fine with them.

Can't help but realise that I sound so mak-mak, haha. Well brace yourself, there's more to come.

Anyways, 2 days of work left, yay!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Seed: 28 weeks.

I've always wanted to write a whole post on being pregnant - this time not so much focusing on Seed, but rather, ME.

1. Of gaining weight.

One of my biggest fears of pregnancy is gaining weight. Yes, weight. Both my mum and sister are on the chunkier side - imagine the pressure. Yes, I never had any weight issues growing up, but man am I scared of gaining weight..

And my mum used to tell me that she weighed way less than I did pre-pregnancy. Lagi lah pressure kau. And to be veeery honest, I take pride of my figure. I did not just magically have toned abs (not six-packs!) - I planked, I ran, I did crunches for years. I even went on healthy diet at some point, ha! So yes, I can honestly say I was quite fit pre-pregnancy, despite being on the rather 'small' side.

I've not gained massive weight so far on this pregnancy just yet, but I really am scared. For someone who's never had any weight issue, my fear of gaining weight can be rather irrational..

2. Of stretch marks.

Again, this one.. I did a whole lot of research at the early stages of pregnancy. Even considered buying high-end creams with a hefty price tag in an effort to 'prevent' them! But sooner than later I learned that stretch marks are mainly genetics. And luck. Some people never had one, some had it in first trimester. My mum definitely had them, although I'm sure having 5 children plays a role in that matter. I succumbed to the fact that there's not much that can be done about it, so mehh, let's just embrace it. I still, religiously put creams on my tummy - Diprobase emolient, no less, because we had a heck of 500g bottle of that stuff when Adam had some skin rash last year. Alhamdulillah, not a streak of line (apart from linea nigra, that's some serious strange business man!!).

To be fair I did have a habit of applying lotions on my skin after every shower pre-pregnancy, not sure if that contributes.

3. Of uncomfortable sleeps.

Adam and I.. We're both independent sleepers (more so me than him). Which means we don't really cuddle to sleep with the exception of some midnight cuddles when we're both half-asleep. But man.. Do I crave to have the whole bed to myself.

There was a time when Adam did his night shift over the weekend, and I have to admit I loved the 3 nights that I got the whole bed to myself. It's just impossible to be comfortable with such growing bump - and having another person sharing the bed doesn't really help.

I feel bad saying this, but honestly, the thought of going to bed doesn't equate to being well-rested, no matter how tired I already am. And every now and then I end up sleeping in the lounge surrounded by a bunch of thick duvets on the floor - all the space I can get to roll around!

4. Of random twinges of pain and discomfort.

Getting up from the chair is uncomfortable. Peeing is uncomfortable. Putting on the socks can be a struggle. And worst of all, waking up from lying down, man, that's serious business.

Heck my tummy feels so stretched and tight even now as I'm typing this.

It's about 15-minute walk to hospital where I work, and it's an uphill walk. Not the most pleasant walk unfortunately.

5. Of drinking for England.

On one occasion, I couldn't feel Seed moving very much. Had to get myself checked out by the midwife, and I turned out to be very dehydrated. Since then I've been drinking for England. And peeing like a tap too.

I don't know what is it about pregnancy but I never seem to be getting enough fluid intake. The moment I felt good about my drinking habit, my pee was still dark yellow. I mean, come on, I've had 1.5L in already!

And yes, hello midnight bathroom trips. There was a time I was so knackered in the morning as I had to get up 4-5 times at night to pee just because I've been drinking a gallon during the evening. I kinda learn the trick now - drink like a champ during the day, even if that means going to the toilet after seeing each patient on ward round (can be hilarious), and then limit myself to one cup in the evening. Of course, the moment I wake up in the morning, the pee would still be dark, but heck, mommy need that 8-hr minimum sleep.

6. Of loneliness.

They say motherhood can be a lonely journey. They never said anything about pregnancy. I cannot help but feel so alone sometimes. Unless you've been pregnant before, you would never know how it feels to carry a >5kg bump 24/7. I didn't. I used to think, ahh look at those pregnant ladies, all glowing and smiling. I always thought pregnant women are beautiful. But I don't feel like one, how come? I'm all puffed up, my eye bags alone might have contributed to 1kg of the weight gain. The loneliness.. Is real. They say pregnancy is not a disease. I agree, but it's "normal" to a whole new level. It's the strangest physiological thing that can ever happen to your body.

A lot of times.. It's between you and baby and God.

****************

This was written when I was at 28w. Didn't get to finish it then (typical!). I'm waaay beyond that now, so you might want to multiply the above by 1.25 or something. I'm heavier, bumpier, slower - everything you can ever imagine.

BUT,

I'm more contented too. (Surprise!). Somehow knowing that the baby's growing nice and healthy.. And realising that we're going to meet him sooner than later.. That, my friends, is such an indescribable feeling. Every kick, every swish, every roll, every Braxon Hicks (!!), means we're a step closer. And that is always something to be grateful for.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship."

I have a small confession.

I never really wanted to do Medicine.

Not news? Alright, how about.. I'm still not sure if I want to.

Despite the nearly 7 months of doctoring.
Despite the kind words from my colleagues and staff nurses.
Despite the praises from my seniors.
Despite the look of appreciation from my patients.
Despite the glowing assessment by my team members.

"You're a good doctor, you really are, but that's probably not what you wanted to hear."

I have another month or so to finish this rotation before going off on my maternity leave. The initial plan was to leave and never come back, ever (there, I said it), but I created a whole fuss in management department because I left my online portfolio completely untouched, apart from some team assessments and meetings with supervisors. They're not too happy, especially given that I would've completed 8 months of FY1 by the time I leave and not a single evidence of competencies. That's 2/3rd of becoming fully a registered/certified doctor!

"Your lack of engagement with the portfolio is almost like your way of saying 'that's it, you've had enough.'"

An act of rebellion.

True, it's that one thing that I can (sort of) control within my power. I cannot choose to not go to work - professionalism. I cannot choose to not see sick patients - patient safety. I cannot choose to not do my job sloppily - heck, have some standard, will you? You're a flippin' doctor!

But I can choose to not do any of the online things, can I? 

Well until I got caught anyway.

So I agreed to work on that bit - at least giving myself an option to return to medicine after 1 year of maternity leave, as my visa would still be running/ongoing throughout that period.

I have to say, it felt such a relief to finally be able to voice out how I've been feeling and finally be heard/taken seriously. For once, it didn't feel like everyone is on my back to complete this, ie continue medicine. I tried seeking help when I was in medical school, but all I got was "you have to finish this", or "you'll be fine", or "try working as a doctor first see how you feel". Well, I am a friggin' doctor and this is how I feel.

Unhappy.

There's a massive hikmah on me not working on my eportfolio. It's amazing how Allah always knows what's best for you.

A part of me feels that if only I sought help earlier at work.. Although I doubt it's going to change the outcome anyway, at least I won't struggle alone - hidden by a confident, chilled facade on everyday work.

"Find light in the beautiful sea 
I choose to be happy" - Diamonds, Rihanna

Happiness is a choice, indeed. And I choose to be happy.

We are currently presented with an opportunity to finally stop doctoring. We, because Adam too, isn't really the biggest fan of doctoring. And opportunity, because I've learnt to see every difficulty as an opportunity since my epic fallout many years ago.

We've spent years of our lives following a path that's been carved right in front of us. It was challenging, but it's a rather straight path, nevertheless. All we had to do was follow the path, survive through the path, and it brought us here - by choice or not.

I feel that it's time for us to make an active decision and take charge of our life and not let the path decide for us. We've been at ease all these while, and somehow this speech by Denzel Washington came at a right time, hitting home.


"Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship."

Link here.

In the end, Allah is the best planner, after all.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

USA Day 1-2: JFK and New York.

Suddenly in the mood of travelling - the last time we went away was to Italy in October last year and it wasn't particularly great - what with me being unwell and all.

But USA was amaaaazing. No, like really, A-MAH-ZING. Tetiba USA hahaha.

We started off the journey from Birmingham International Airport.

[KLM]
Birmingham → Amsterdam Schiphol → John F. Kennedy Airport, New York

return

[Air France]
John F. Kennedy Airport, New York → Paris Charles de Goule → Birmingham

Our tickets costed about £550pp return. We could've saved more if we flew from London but Adam was working the day before the trip, so we decided not to get too stressed out on planning and just pay extra for the convenience. And I always prefer flying out from Birmingham as it's a smaller airport (despite being international) and it's easier to get to (about 1 hour plus by train from Leicester).

And I only learnt on our trip that KLM and Air France sort of like partner together. You can manage your KLM booking on Air France website and vice versa, although I personally find KLM website more user friendly.

A little note as well, I know most overseas students are aware of this, but I'm surprised that some of my friends in Malaysia don't. Go to skyscanner.net to find and compare cheap flights. It works most of the time, and Alhamdulillah so far I had no issues with the agents/companies listed. However it's quite tricky with domestic Malaysian flights. MAS, for example, doesn't display the total amount including tax on Skyscanner (not even on their website, I believe?). So while they appear cheap on Skyscanner, the total amount changes after you're directed to MAS website. I feel this is quite deceiving, especially having become used to the UK/EU system where they're obligated to include tax in their display price - what you see is what you pay. But it's nothing too major, just something to keep in mind.

Another tip - I'm one of those who religiously key in my MH Enrich number (MAS loyalty point) in whatever airline that I fly with, especially with the long-haul ones. I don't really check if the airline that I'm flying with actually partners with MAS, but since I have the number in hand anyway, I just put it in. This proves to be a smart move as I always have some magic Enrich points appearing on my account - which means, free flights, woohoo! Not really free since you do have to pay some fee and whatnot, but it's definitely cheaper and you're more flexible to book at the last minute with Enrich points, since the points required stay the same. 

Anyways, we haven't gotten into the USA part yet, whaaatt?!??

Right, back to business.


While on this map the journey doesn't look particularly impressive, this one certainly does.


Talk about flying trans-Atlantic, woha! 

The journey itself wasn't too long, probably around 7 hours. But bearing in mind that we had to transit in Amsterdam/Paris, total travelling time one way was around 16 hours, almost the same as going back to Malaysia including transit. If you manage to bag a direct flight UK/Ireland to USA, it would be around 7 hours max.

We spent around 10 days including travelling times around The States. We only went to New York City, Niagara (Buffalo), and Washington DC before heading back to New York JFK. Considering how maaaaasssive the country is, you can imagine how much time we spent on the road driving from one place to another.

On to New York.

Day 1: JFK Arrival

We arrived at JFK quite late at night. Having foreseen this, I decided to book a room via AirBnB nearby the airport. The host also offered pick-up for a little extra cost so that was a bonus. Unfortunately I didn't take any picture as we were super tired and the place wasn't very exciting either. It did the job for both of us - a double bed with shared bathroom. The pick-up was straightforward, I can highly recommend this place for a short night or quick transfer to/from JFK.

Link to AirBnB: Room with wifi near JFK

Day 2: New Yoooorrkkkk

Took the train into NYC rather early in the morning and started the day with this.


HAHAHA true New Yorker I tell you.

Not sure what got into Adam's mind when he ordered a dozen donuts.

Since we were staying at New Jersey (NJ), ie not in Manhattan, we had to carry our rucksacks around us. We found a place to leave our luggages, I think it cost around $10 per bag for the whole day. Google, and you shall find.

So onto NYC.


New Yoooorrrrrrk, country jungle wet dreams tomaaahhtoooo. There's nothing you can't doooooo.

I. Could. Not. Get. That. Song. Out. Off. My. Head. (I made up the first part)

But really, there we were, in the middle of the busy Times Square, and mind you, it's The New York Times Square, NOT Berjaya Times Square *scoffs HAHAHA. I can still feel the excitement in my bones right now, honestly.

Being the city girl that I am, the experience was thrilling. Exhilarating. Growing up with American movies and dramas, everything felt so surreal. People (by that I mean, the Brits) used to comment on my American accent when I first came to England - THIS WAS IT, people. I grew up watching/listening to THIS. 

Btw I sound more British now. *scoff some more

That day was basically spent walking around with our heads tilted up all day. 


Like this, the Empire State Building. Now now, how could I get Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind our of my head, you tell me. New Yoooooorrkkkkk ---

Okay I should probably stop now.

But this building truly reminded me of Sleepless in Seattle movie, hopeless romantic I know.


A picture in front of Sephora because I promised Nadd I would take one, just because. And no, I did not get a single thing there.

Grand Central Terminal.



Inside Grand Central Terminal. 

I grew up listening to it being called The Grand Central Station (blame the movies!). So imagine my disappointment (and rather, embarrassment of my own ignorance) when I found out that it is now called Grand Central Terminal. Again, there are few movies that were filmed here, but one that I remember most is from Step Up 3D. 

Ahh my life in movies.


The Rockefeller Center. Notice Malaysian flag waving up there?!

Each place in NYC has its own story to tell, but you can do that from your own reading I guess. But anyways, this Rockefeller Center has a viewing deck where you can see New York from up above, including the Empire State Building. It doesn't come cheap though, although I couldn't really remember how much you'd have to pay to go in.

And here's the best part of New York City..


The Halal Guys!

I read about them A LOT before travelling to The States. And A LOT of the comments involved  QUEUES. And they weren't joking about it either. The queue extended to the corner of the block, so imagine how we felt when we first saw them. But fret not, once you're in the queue, it was only for 10 minutes top. They only take cash, so have your 10 bucks notes ready. Meals are around $7 each, and the portions are huge. It's a simple menu, I think with 5-6 options depending whether you want rice or kebab with either lamb or chicken, or both. But man, the food was heavenly.

We had our food at the side walk like a true New Yorker (haha I doubt!), partly because we were starving and the smell was too tempting.


The you-think-I'm-gonna-share? look.

We walked around for a bit more before heading bag to the luggage storage as they closed at around 6pm.



Times Square in panoramic view.

Since we were staying in New Jersey, we had to take the bus from Port Authority Bus Station. Round trip was $3 pp if I remember correctly, but you could also purchase 10-tickets for better price. The journey itself took around 15-20 minutes one way from Port Authority to NJ.

And this was what greeted us once we got off the bus at NJ.


New York skyline!

To be completely honest, part of the reasons why I chose this AirBnb (click for link) was honestly for the view. It wasn't the cheapest option if I wanted to be truly calculative, but I thought it was worth the journey and view. And the whole stay was amazing! We stayed for 4d3n and honestly, I couldn't fault the host at all. We had pastries and freshly brewed coffee every morning - and THE Hazelnut Coffeemate - I blame them for introducing that to me!

I initially considered staying somewhere in Manhattan to save on transport cost, and some of them worked out pretty much the same as staying in NJ. You pay more for the accommodation, but less on transport. Problem is, these accommodations are usually the dingy ones - shared bathrooms, no breakfast etc. Nowhere near what we got with the AirBnB. Highly recommended.

Arrived here to the magic padlock with a secret code, ha!



And somehow I became Anabel during that stay. 




They had 2 cats, which Adam wasn't particularly excited about. But me? CATS! Okay I can be quite scared of them but still, CATS!


So that sums up our first day around NYC. Hoping that I could keep up with this USA series as God knows how many pictures I have to scroll through, and the brain exercise to remember the details is just, bleghhh. But hey, it's NEW YORK!

Okay excitement over. Later.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stonehenge - just, rocks.

Ayah has been wanting to visit Stonehenge since his last UK trip some time in July last year. But we were short of time and Adam was working so logistics were quite difficult. We went around Wales - which deserves a post on on its own (as usual), but not quite Stonehenge. So this time we had a weekend off with the family so I thought, why not.

The journey itself took about 2 hours according to Google map, but we had to detour for a very good reason (will share later!), so it felt like a very long never-ending drive. You know it's a long drive when there's this.


Road trip selfie.

After what felt like an eternal journey into nothing-ness, we finally caught a glimpse of the magnificent..


Rocks.

My first thought, "I expect you to be bigger?!"

And now is the time that I bore you with this legendary Windows 97 screensaver/wallpaper.


But our photo, first.


While this looks pretty majestic, it actually isn't. It's not even as big as I thought it would be. I mean, you look at Kaabah pictures and when you got there you're like, wow, I just cannot, like wow. But this one..

Obviously comparing it to our qiblat isn't the most appropriate thing, but just to tell you how disappointed I was..

I was properly disappointed. Heartbroken. Gutted. Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. The list goes on.


Putting a grainy picture of us from my cousin's phone - one for the memory.

Apart from the rocks, there's also other areas to explore. Like this,


Tiny huts which are just about my height.


And this - where you can find out how many people of the same strength you need to recruit to build your own Stonehenge. I thought Adam did pretty great although the scale only lasted a few micro seconds. 

Grow up strong ok Seed buddy.

I personally feel that our biggest mistake was not exploring the Information Centre first (didn't take any pictures inside because I was already too disappointed, ha!). We went straight to see the rocks despite the staff recommendation to start with the Information Centre first, which of course didn't make a lot of sense. 

Once we've been inside the Info Centre only then things started to be more interesting. I mean, I now know that no one can actually be sure on why Stonehenge was built in the first place - it was thought to be a sacred burial place for the dead - but no one could truly confirm this.

Great.

But really, start with Info Centre first.


This is how the entrance looks like, btw. 

The actual site itself is about 1.5miles from the entrance, but they do provide free shuttles back and forth.


Not sure why I end this post with a picture of their shuttle, but there you go.

Some tips.

1. Book online to save money. The ticket itself is about £15.50 pp online but a quid or two more at the entrance. And you'd have to queue if you buy at the gate.

2. Bring snacks. Unless you want to be trapped in the overpriced cafe with very limited selections, bring some snacks with you. There's no eateries elsewhere within 3 miles radius (I made that one up) either.

3. If you're not a big fan of history, maybe give Stonehenge a miss. Unless you live nearby or going towards that direction anyway. Nothing personal, just not sure it was worth the long drive in our case.

4. Last but not least, if you do decide to go just because, go with an open mind!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Home, away from home.

Here's to more blogposts in 2017!

I realised I haven't really posted any pictures around our not-so-new home. So here's one.


Hehehe.

We were doing a bit of cleaning around the house before my family arrived, and this was taken just after Adam vacuumed the rug. I thought it's pretty cute seeing his palm prints on there, probably because he couldn't resist having a little 'sketch' on it, haha.

Serious photo now.


Our humble simple no-nonsense living room! 

Having moved from a tiny 1-bed flat with very limited living space to a 2-bed flat with maaaassive living room (and bedroom too!), it was initially really tempting to fill in the space with more stuff to make it more homey. Maybe a couple of pictures here and there, and a small vase with plastic (or fresh) flowers? But we persevered. 

Well more like I persevered, because Adam really couldn't be bothered. 

I wanted the space to look a bit more homey and personal, but at the same time I don't want clutters. I never really appreciate flowers and small trinkets anyway, although I do adore them when I see them at others' places. So what we had back then is all that we have now. In fact if you look at the picture, we hardly ever buy things!

1. TV - free.  It's from Adam's previous apartment in Belfast. (I don't know how he managed to get away inheriting the TV and not paying for it.)

2. TV stand - free. The previous tenant at our previous flat in Leicester left it for us. (I asked if they had anything to sell us before they moved out, and they gave it for free!)

3. Leather couch - free. My neighbour at Grasmere St where I used to live with my housemates left it outside their house with a sign saying "Help Yourself". And of course I couldn't help myself. It's friggin' free!

4. Purple couch cover - (sorta) free. It's actually a duvet cover from Adam's years in Belfast. I haaaate leather couch (freezing bums!) which is a bit ironic because I insisted to have this one, but at the same time couldn't justify spending £20 plus for a fabric cover. This did the job.

5. Rug - (sorta) free. From my years in Grasmere St, Leicester. The house had wooden floors.

6. Stand lamp - (sorta) free. Again, from Grasmere St.

So really, we didn't buy anything new since Adam moved in to Leicester last year, apart from the Xbox 360 - and even that is second-hand.

(My mom always wonders how is it that we're so thrifty given that both of us are doctors.)

Speaking of Xbox, I played Castle Crashers yesterday and this popped up.


Sent it to Adam because he was on a long day 13-hr shift, hehehe.

And I thought I'd share this picture as well.


This was last night when Adam just got home from his shift having dinner, and I love how everyone was very fixated on the movie. Reminds me that yes, this flat is quite expensive for what it is, but nothing compares to having everyone in the same space comfortably. (We could never do this in Leicester.)

Anyways, my favourite space of this flat is actually the kitchen! Will probably share that one someday.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The longest January yet.

January feels like it's dragging on foreeveeeerr. Let's see, I've done nights (8.30pm-9.30am), I've done lates (2pm-10pm), I've even done long days (8.30am-9.30pm). And I'm currently on day 8 of a 9-day stretch, yet it's not even February! There's something about this Paediatrics job that makes time go awfully selloowww I swear.

On the bright side, I've actually been working for nearly 2 months on this job, nearly half way done!

Anyway, on to my favourite topic - Seed.

He's a big boy now! Fine, more like tummy's getting bigger and bigger. I can no longer sujud without feeling the pressure around the hip. Walking fast means holding my tummy for support (read: mums' instinctive mechanism). I just feel constantly heavy.

Which brings us to the next point - I'm not exactly heavy, heavy. I've only gained a little over 4kgs over the last 6 months. I don't look terribly pregnant apart from the growing tummy. So I shouldn't really feel that 'heavy', if anything.

In fact, I've hit my current weight once when I was home in Malaysia for nearly 2 months or so. So really, this isn't really heavy.

It's a lie if I say I'm not worried about Seed not growing enough - after all people keep warning me about weight gain in pregnancy and I, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. I've been constantly tired and stressed on the job, and I well know it can affect baby's growth.

But I keep reminding myself, as long as Seed's healthy, figures don't matter. He's been kicking up a storm, his favourites are handover time at work and just as I'm about to sleep. I have a feeling he's responding to voices (hence the handover dance!). Also, he sometimes kicks like mad when Adam's telling me things, and pauses when I tell Adam about this - what a cheeky bunny.

I've been told that babies recognise the language spoken to them - as if, they pick up the accent and lingo. Obviously they might not understand just yet, but they're aware. And for this very reason, I reeeeally think Adam and I should speak more English at home.

Yes, we often talk gibberish to each other - (rahsia kebahagiaan, kah!). How to speak English then?

Craving-wise, I find myself in a bit of a sticky dark mess of coffee addiction. I cannot get the Hazelnut Coffeemate that we had in The States out of my mind. That. Is. Pure. Gold. I tell you. So I've been looking for alternatives here - Old Town's not one of them as they're too high in sugar, and the less sugar ones taste too artificial to my liking. So I ended up scouring through Amazon and found the Hazelnut Coffeemate, for a friggin' £7! Gaaahhhhhh.

Although to be fair, it's not really the money I'm too concerned about, it's the potential exponential increment of coffee consumption that might come with it that's more worrying.

(Word of caution: I might still end up buying it, lol.)

So yeah, reeeally. Nothing too exciting going on right now. My family's now here, actually in Amsterdam to be exact, ha! Other than that, life's pretty much as what it is - work and sleep. I've also been posting from my iPhone instead of laptop, because, sleeeeeep. (I need at least 8-9hours of sleep to function properly the next day).

Mad respect to pregnant doctors who work until right before they're due!


One not-terribly-pregnant doctor counting hours to finish her 13-hour shift. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Something warm and fuzzy.

There's something about living abroad thousands of miles away from home, just the two of you - just him, and you. 


It can be pretty lonely, it can seem like an endless journey with no definite destination, and at times, it can be really frustrating. 


But it's mostly amazing. The love that you have for each other, is a different kind of love. It's the tenderness, the affection, the morning snuggles on a frosty Sunday morning when you have to work for a 13-hour shift, knowing full well that none of us really wants to do that. 


It's knowing that we're in this together, lonely or not. Alone, we can be lonely together, can't we?


Adam was about to snuggle up to me one night, when I suddenly shoved a bolster into him and turned the other way. I was half-asleep (with somehow very good reflex) so of course I didn't remember anything. 


So when he told me this the next morning, we laughed. He even acted out the whole thing again - there we were, two perfectly grown adults on a foreign land far far away from home - jumping in bed, re-enacting the scene that wouldn't even mean much to others. But at that moment, at that very moment, it felt like we belong here. We belong together, and that's all that matters.


It's just warmth and fuzziness. 


I have a habit of tickling his feet in the morning when they stick out of the duvet (he's just got really long legs!), and he would shuffle, sometimes even wiggle his toes, half-asleep. 


The same as how he likes to snuggle up to me at night, and hold me close when I'm asleep. I don't think he even realises doing it, especially in the middle of the night - I'm a light sleeper, he's the complete opposite, totally comatosed. Still, he'd give me soft pats as if trying to put me back to sleep.


(Basically we really like each other when one of us is asleep.)


I suppose that's the thing about the togetherness in us. Lonely or not, we're in this, together. 


Always.