Friday, December 4, 2009

....its December

wow...its that time of year again. Tis' the holiday season....school is out...older kids having exams...shopping malls filled with lovely X'massy decorations...and the odd feeling that the year is coming to a close and the new year's just round the corner.

Then..its time to reflect on what important events took place this year, wow..what a year it has been...too early to reflect..no not really..I will just list here..else it might take me some time to get back here to write . For me, it has been a whirlwind kind of year...the biggest event would be my dad's passing, followed by my mum's second major operation...my PTK exam, my two kids' major exams and then going to China.

Its' been a year of emotional upheavals, sometimes tension -tied and sometimes pleasant memories. 2009 is a year that I will remember always. Personally...it has enlightened me once again to the fact that we are all facing death as a certainty, that life doesn't owe us anything, we have to make the bets of it, someone once said: when you fight life, life always wins. So we just have to go with the flow.

I would like to say for myself that 2009 was an interesting year. We learn from events that happen, (by the way, we are supposed to do that by studying history not repeating it), we grow richer emotionally and spiritually, internally as a person, we change ourselves to adapt to what is happening around us. yes we all want to change for the better. I hope I have ...

All the best for 2010...
Cheers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank God for modern medicine

Hi all,
Great news for us all...and definitely for mum.
Thanks to my brother who managed to get the pain-killer medicine for her..yes. she went in for the procedure a week ago today and walla...the pain she had all these months have been greatly reduced. Now she can stand up and sit down with little or no pain...her knees still hurt and she still has problems walking but most important the pain is incredibly less. Thank God for modern medicine. Now mum is happy and cheerful and that helps us all. She is still lonely...why not dad is not around but at least her days are now almost pain free and that makes us all happy as well.
We hope it lasts but my brother says it will only last for three months and she has to get another injection. Well, until then...we hope mum will be comfortable and less stressed.
Cheers all.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Updates

Hi all,
Just updating all... been busy like anything...
For the last few months...moving to a new department, sorting out the sector's workload, the getting the Kem Membaca 1Malaysia ready for the launch. Then it was the Hari Raya celebrations, so things slowed down some what...and before I knew it, the PTK exam came up...just ended last Friday..what a relief! Basically, it was more a mental kind of exercise...getting the tugasan ready, then undergoing the weeklong oral and written evaluation. Phew..what an experience...guess I wont be hitting any more books anytime soon.
Now am busy, getting ready for my presentation at the APEID-UNESCO conference in Hangzhou, China. This is in the middle of the month so busy, busy, busy.
Work at the office continues..I was just making a checklist..and yes..you guys at the office..we have almost 30 items on our list to finish before end of the year. Let's get cracking...
To the family...thanks for getting it all together while I have been busy.
Oh yes, i must congratulate my better half for completing his hike up Mt Kinabalu over the weekend. You did it! So for all of you at the 50yr range..get going.
Oh yes, October 25 came and went..that was my late dad's 80th birthday..if he had been alive today. Anyway, we all hold our own special thoughts for him. And yesterday being All Souls day, we were at the cemetery for a visit. This is our yearly visit and a chance for family to get togther and clean the family graves, light some candles and decorate with flowers. Guess this period of time brings out the feeling of mortality in all of us.
As for mum, well, she will be going in for a checkup this week...we hope the doctors can help alleviate the pain she is going through . We pray for the best.
Cheers.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of achievements and awards...

Yes, it's great to be recognised at last for your sacrifices and hard work. Two weekends ago, about 159 officers from BTP and its branches all over the country were treated to a dinner and given certificates of appreciation in recognition of the excemplary perfomance last year. Yes, yours truly was one of the recipients.

It was a happy occasion and all receipients dressed in their best, to walk on stage and receive their certs from our deputy Director General of Education and our own Director. Yes, 18 August 2009 will be a date to remember. That nite also saw the launch of the Patriotic Month...if you didn't know, that would be from 16 August to 16 September. We sang the famous Sudriman song, Tanggal 31 and waved our Jalur Gemilang. Yes, it was a nite we would all remember.


Talking about awards...some deserve it and some, they say dont't deserve it at all. The APC has a history behind it too. The award is given to deserving candidates who have shown their good work during the year. Too often then not, the award is give to those closest to the top heads of depts, seniority and those who haven't got it before. So sometimes even when you deserve it, you won't get it, cos' you need to be recommended by the bosses. And there are often cases of cronyism and favouritism. I have learnt to be patient and just do my work...somehow...I feel you will be recognised for what you have done all these years, besides..how many cronies can they give to, with passage of time, everyone will get it at least once or twice in their civil service career. By the way, according to rule, candidates are eligible every three years and when they change grades, but then again rules are meant to be broken and challenged. I have got it twice so far, once in 1994 and then 2008...imagine, a total of almost fourteen years in between. Even working in different places and giving your best at all times doesn't guarantee one anything. Guess it doesn't help that some bosses think that one should only get it once and give the APC to others who haven't got before even if that officer has just started work for a year! But I shall let all that talk about fairness and justice slide...Thank God my previous boss thought I deserved it, after all these years.

Let's not even think about the awards that are given out yearly by the states and federal governments. Again, each year, we get hundreds of JPs, AMNs, AMPs, JMNs, Datuks, Datos', Tan Sris etc. Some are suggested candidates who deserve the awards, some are chronies, some are armchair supporters, some are new politicians, and some buy the awards...that's what we hear, but I'd like to think that everyone who gets an award at state or federal level really deserves it. It bugs me though why some people get almost the same awards every year, I mean, some of these Datuks/Datos' get a few Datukships! Why? It beats me. Suffice to say, giving of such awards must be based on merit and for those who truly deserve it, nothing else.

As for me, the APC means a lot. At last, after 14 long years, and serving different bosses and different departments, finally, someone felt I deserved it again. I will continue to do my best, without expecting any reward...cos' when you don't expect it, it's sweeter when you do. And when you don't get it, you won't be so disappointed. So here's to all those deserving candidates, congratulations and continue to do your best. Life is making the most of what it has to offer.

Cheers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

51 and living it....

A little over a year ago..I started my blog. At that time, I wanted to write about being 50 and living it, living my life as I wanted it to be. Well, i just turned 51...and as I ponder and reflect on the past year...I wonder if I have achieved what I set out to do and be.

I think I didn't allow disappointments to hit me or bring me down. I didn't let racial bigotry or bitter rivalry get the better of me...for I still believed in the positive side of things...that one day, things will be better and one day...I will get what I should get. True enough patience served the day. I recently received an Excellence Service Award for Civil Servants in my category, of course with support from my immediate previous superiors. Thanks to all involved. I also received my promotion which I had waited with abated breathh since Sept last year and which I finally got in May. Somehow, that put my faith back in the system or maybe I was one of the luckier ones...Whatever, I will continue to look at the positive side of things...finally I would say..God is Great!

Today..being where I am, in a new post and trying my best to set things right and handle matters as best as I could...I find myself still doing what is best, what is right, still striving to make things right, still working hard to ensure that others do what is right and bringing out the best in themselves. My fellow colleagues all work just as hard, being a civil servant these days is no joke..no ordinary life, man, whoever said being a civil servant was easy..must be a real deadwood! We all try our best and hope that things will work out. With a new director and a new deputy Director who expect that we work our best at all times have helped set our directions clear and loud. I hope everyone will lend their support and help to bring quality education to our children in all our different capacities.

As for me...being 51 means a year older. It also means I can still look forward to another year of love and friendships with family and loved ones.My health has been generally good, I had a couple of bouts with a weak tummy this year thus far, my weight has gone up a bit..up 2 kilos from the 7 that I lost...shucks.. this weight yo-yo thingy has got to be another one of my resolutions this year...I feel great and I look ok...so they say for someone my age! What do you think it means :)

I still my maintain old friendships, I have started with Facebook and got connected to friends and relatives I lost contact with, I have been able to receive news from long lost friends and view photos of people I have not seen or met in ages. Facebook has its positives...wish I had more time to spend there...anyway, an occasional poke at it has been worthwhile.

As I age ...he he...I think I look at my life from a different prospect. I have had my share of problems and arguements but I am not as judgemental as I was years ago, I accept that some things cannot be changed, I refuse to challenge some things that really are negative cos' somehow I believe that the record will straighten itself out, especially when it involves friendships or relationships at the workplace. I simply deplore office politics but somehow one can never escape it...I wish people would spend more time working then gossiping about others and plotting how to get at other people. I have hopes for humanity..one day..things will be better...i sincerely hope the new PM and his Cabinet will make 1 Malaysia work!

At 51, I want to be living a healthy and fun life with friends and family. this year, I want to write, to present papers, to finish my proposal and contribute to society in some way or other.
I want to remain healthy, to play my roles right...wife, mother, daughter, sister, best friend, superior, subordinate, teacher... and in all make the years in my life complete. I shall live my life as I see fit. I shall give my best and I shall expect the best. I shall be a better person then I was last year. I shall be a stronger person then I was...I shall be happy with my life! Nothing will stop me from living the life I want it to be...be a friend and support me in my endeavours!
God Bless you all!

Monday, July 20, 2009

...and weddings.




Yes, 5 July saw our family's first nephew tying the knot with his long time girlfriend.
It was a reunion of sorts albeit my late father wasnt there. We missed you, dad.
The tea-ceremony at noon started the wedding celebration for us.
Then it was dinner at Hotel Mutiara, Century Gardens, Johor Bahru.
The theme was Nyonya Kebaya, seeing that our late great-grandmother was a Grand Nyonya herself. We took some lovely pics, you can view them in Facebook.


It was a fun and different wedding of sorts. There was karaoke, song and dance by members of the family, kids and grown-ups..then believe it or not, yes, a PS competition between bride and groom, then best man and bridesmaid, then free for all. It was as usual a gathering of old friends and relatives from far and near. yes it would have been complete if my dad was there, but some things we can't change... anyway, ...
To Adrian and Serene here's wishing you some verses by Joanna Fuchus..

On your joyful wedding day,
You begin a brand new life.
Friends and family give their gifts
To joyful husband, blissful wife.
But the greatest gift you'll ever get,
A gift from heaven above,
Is love forever, ending never, Everlasting love.
You'll share life's joy and pleasure;
You'll have plenty of that, it's true.
But love is the real treasure.
For your new spouse and you.
And if life hands you challenges,
As it does to one and all,
Your love will hold you steady
And never let you fall.
Your wedding day is full of joy;
Among the finest things in life,
a good marriage is the most satisfying and rewarding,
the deepest and best of pleasures.

That blessed relationship uplifts, enriches, encourages and strengthens both husband and wife.
A loving marriage overcomes any obstacles the world may put in its way,
strengthening the special marital bond with every challenge conquered.
Your wedding is the start of something better than you can imagine.
May your marriage be all that you dream of and more.
A wedding is a door to happiness,
When two decide to share their lives as one.
Your marriage is an adventure bright and new;
The pleasures and delights have just begun.
I/We wish for you a lifetime full of love;
May you always keep that magical attraction.
Let your bond and your commitment grow with time,
So that all your days are filled with satisfaction.
Congratulations and God Bless you both.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of birthdays......

It's only been a month since I last wrote... wish I could find time to write daily..I should actually..well, June saw some birthday babies...including my first born, Jennifer who celebrated her 21st birthday on the 30 June. It was a wonderful occasion ..to see Jenny all grown up..

So here's some birthday verses for you..

How very fast the time has flown
The years seem such a whirl
The years were such a joy
Since you were just a tiny child
A precious baby girl.
How quickly you have blossomed
Through those tender childhood years
When every single day had moments
Full of joy and tears.

But those nostalgic schooldays
Which have sped so swiftly by
Have seen you reach twenty one
All in the blinking of an eye.So think about your future
Special things to see and do
New faces and new challenges
Just waiting there for you.
How could it be so long ago
You were just a babe in arms
Melting everybody's heart
With all those baby charms.

How could the years have gone so quick
It seems like yesterday
When you were just a little girl
Running out to play.
Did somebody put forward
The precious hands of time
And turn our little daughter
Into a woman so sublime.

For here you are today
All grown up and lovely too
A warm and gentle person
So special through and through.
And all those childhood charms you had
Have grown with you each day
And made you much more special
Than words could ever say.

So Jenny, may all the dreams
You hold within your heart
Come true and bring you happiness
From which you'll never part.
May the days that lie ahead
Be filled with gladness, success, good health too
For there just couldn't be anyone
Who deserves it more than you.
Happy Birthday and Congratulations!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Dear all,



It's another day to remember...Father's Day and for us...with dad gone two months today, its a day we all miss him. For those of us who still have our fathers, I guess we are constantly reminded, bombarded by commercials and advertisements, articles in newspapers...on how we should appreciate our fathers, in fact both parents whilst they are still with us. To take care of them, to love them unconditionally..its hard at times...our generations have drifted apart...our way of life now so different from their time, our social world so global our parents may not even comprehend, our expectations of ourselves, their expectations of us...the conflicts we may have as we try to live together.



Yes indeed, if dad was around, we would be out celebrating father's day with dinner and a get together. It's the usual thing with all of us..we are all so bust but comes Father's or Mother's Day and birthdays and festive seasons, we all do make time for family. We will continue with that for mum.. I am sure we will do the same with our immediate family. So to all fathers out there, A Happy Father's Day.

I think this poem says it all:

Happy Father's Day
A Dad is a person who is loving and kind,
And often he knows what you have on your mind.
He's someone who listens, suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one of your very best friends!
He's proud of your triumphs, but when things go wrong,
A dad can be patient and helpful and strong
In all that you do, a dad's love plays a part.
There's always a place for him deep in your heart.
And each year that passes, you're even more glad,
More grateful and proud just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad...for listening and caring, for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!
Happy Father's Day

Dad, we miss you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Friends forever?

It's been a while...
Still missing my dad, mum has yet to come to terms with it, and for her, the days are passing ever so slowly, for the rest of us, the loss is felt but we are also caught in our own world of our immediate family, circle of friends and workplace. Time does help to heal some of the hurt but time does not actually let us forget...it just helps with the healing process...
Anyway, a friend sent me this and I thought its really true for all of us to ponder where we are, and where we are going in our lives minus the professional part of it, this is personal...
What would you do if every time you fell in love with someone you had to say good-bye?
What would you do if every time you wanted someone they would never be there?
What would you do if for every moment you were truly happy there would be 10 moments of sadness?
What would you do if your best friend died tomorrow and you never got to tell them how you felt?
What would you do if you loved someone more than anything else and you could never have them?
Some people live and some people die.
But I want to tell you I love you and you are a true friend...
That I will always be here for you when and if you need me...
If I died tomorrow, you would be in my heart forever.
Would I be in yours?

You might be best friends one year, pretty good friends the next year, don't talk that often the next year, and don't want to talk at all the year after that.

So, I just wanted to say, even if I never talk to you again in my life, you are special to me and you have made a difference in my life.
I look up to you, respect you, and truly cherish you.
Let old friends know you haven't forgotten them, and tell new friends you never will.
Remember, everyone needs a friend, someday you might feel like you have NO FRIENDS at all, just remember this and take comfort in knowing somebody out there cares about you and always will.

Cheers.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day







It's Mother's day. For most of us, its family time.
A time for us to gather, to appreciate our mum and make the day special for her.
What is a mum?
A mum is someone whom we turn to when things go wrong and she will wipe the hurt away.
A mum is the bank we deposit our fears, our tears, our problems, our hopes and dreams.
A mum is the cement and rock of our family, that keeps the fanmily together in good times and in bad.
It takes a Mother's Love to make a house a home,
A place to be remembered,no matter where we roam.
It takes a Mother's Patience,to bring a child up right,
And her Courage and her Cheerfulness to make a dark day bright.
It takes a Mother's Thoughtfulness to mend the heart's deep "hurts,"
And her Skill and her Endurance to mend little socks and shirts.
It takes a Mother's Kindness to forgive us when we err,
To sympathize in trouble and bow her head in prayer.
It takes a Mother's Wisdom to recognize our needs
And to give us reassurance by her loving words and deeds.
It takes a Mother's Endless Faith,her Confidence and Trust
To guide us through the pitfalls of selfishness and lust.
And that is why in all this world there could not be another,
Who could fulfill God's purpose as completely as a MOTHER!
Helen Steiner Rice
Bless all our mothers for they are special.
Happy Mother's Day.

In Memoriam



Dad was buried on Saturday, the 25 April 2009 at around 12.00pm. It was actually a very hot afternoon but for the short time we travelled to the cemetery and the time we had the short service there till the time he was laid to rest, the sky was cloudy and gloomy as if joining us in mourning our loss, and protected us from the heat and strains of the day. Dad must have wanted to make sure we were all comfortable in our period of sadness. The church service was short and beautiful. I think it was great that three priests celebrated his funeral Mass. Then there were the two eulogies, one read by my nephew, Jason, and the other by my brother, David. The final send off song that was Dad’s favourite at our family karaoke sessions, was lead by all the grandchildren accompanied by their aunt on the piano, entitled, “The Moon Represents my Heart” or “Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin” by Teresa Teng Lee Chin. It was all in all a beautiful service for my dad.

All too soon, it was over. I cannot describe our feelings that day, especially mum. She has been in a state of disbelief and deep sorrow all week. Dad, we hope you will be granted peace and eternal rest. Dad, it has been three weeks. The loss is still very new to us, especially mum. Today is Mother’s Day but what meaning has it when the main partner is missing. But I guess, life has to go on for the living. I am sure you would want us to continue to fill our lives with joy, laughter, success and happiness. We pray everyday for your eternal peace in the arms of the Lord.

I was browsing some photos taken the past year and you look so fine…if only we knew, we would have taken more pics with you. I was looking at pictures taken during your last birthday dinner, also during Christmas, CNY, David’s birthday and also the Easter weekend when Juls was back. It all seemed so recent…well at least for the living we can look back and ponder over past happy times. Thank you for all the years you spent taking care of us with mum, you never complained how hard it was, only mum knew. We should and will treasure the moments spent with you and mum. Though we sometimes forget that parents are not going to be there always, we should spend whatever time with them as long as they are with us. Live life to the fullest with your dearest ones cos we never know when our time is up.
Dad, we will remember you always.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goodbye Dad.

It’s hard to say goodbye forever…but that is the reality we all have to face one day..for us tomorrow we would be saying goodbye to our beloved dad. It’s not easy for most members of my family, goodbye was last Easter Sunday. For most of us, we were not there when dad breathed his last. Only my mom and my eldest brother. I arrived just…and missed it. My goodbye was the night before. If I had known, if I had paid heed to the many signs dad had given, I would have got myself there on time to say my final goodbye. But as fate would have it, God decided it was the right place and time to take him. we can only plan but God determines.

Death is like a thief in the night. We do not know when the Lord will come. We do not know when it will be our time to go, is it sooner or later? Death is the reality we cannot avoid: all of us have to face it one day. Jesus tells us that this experience of pain, sorrow and tears is only for a time. We pray that you will give mum the spiritual support she sorely needs at this time and for the months ahead. We will be there for her, don’t worry.

Dad, you will be dearly missed. I am sure you can smell the more than 70 floral wreaths that surround you and also see how beautiful they are. Tomorrow we will say goodbye but you will not be forgotten. You will forever remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. Thank you for always being there for us. We will continue to celebrate your life with us. On our part, we will live our lives to the fullest each day, we will try to remind ourselves that our time on earth is but a temporary thing.
Rest now in the arms of the Lord in Heaven.
Goodbye and May you rest in peace.
Your youngest daughter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Passing of a loved one

By now, you all would have known about my dad’s passing last Monday, 20 April 2009.
“Death” they say is the only thing that is certain. As I write about this, we are at his wake at the Lazarus Room, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Johor Bahru, Johor. He will lie here for our friends andrelatives to pay their last respects till Saturday. Funeral has been set for the 25 April.
I haven’t been able to sit down and write for some time, commitments: work, family, parent-sitting andthe lot. No excuses as they say, cos’ time is how we manage it not the other way round. To the living, time flies, time heals, time spent cannot be recouped, this too shall pass…common clich├ęs we all use in our lives…time is but a phase…, for the dying, time is of the utmost essence, time is what they do nothave and when he/she breathes his/her last, time is what they do not have forever.

“To the educated mind, death is but the next great journey” (Dumbledore/Harry Potter).

My dad passed away at the age of 79 years. We were planning his 80th birthday with a big dinner come October. Guess, last Easter week was the last time we had our family gathering. Dad enjoyed himself and sang his favorite songs by Teresa Teng. We took family photos cos’ all six children and their families were around this time. My sister who lives in London came back too. We didn’t know then that, that was the last outing or even a family dinner we would have with dad. Yes, dad has begun his journey to the next life. Words cannot express how we feel cos’ it was always my mum who has the most health problems, dad was the quiet one. I don’t think he was ever hospitalized for anything nor had any serious health problems except for his manageable hypertension and the last two years, Parkinson’s disease. Dad was the healthy one! We just figured he’d be around with us for a long time. Well, God decided it was time for him to go…

How should one describe dad? Quiet, patient, unassuming, even though he had dementia, he had lapses where he would reminiscence and his memory would be as sharp as ever. He could recall the old days when he was growing up, when we were growing up, his old friends and relatives. Mind you, he could name you the various Presidents of the United States that surprised all of us. We were proud that he could be so knowledgeable yet when he seems lost in his own world, he would see invisible friends and even hold conversations with them that at first frightened us but later accepted as part and parcel of his condition.

I guess I could recall growing up, with dad working across the causeway, and us living and studying in JB. He was the dad who worked so hard for us, and the dad who made us sit at the table and study each night. I think we feared getting any red marks come report card day…and he did use the cane on my older brother and sisters but I don’t recall getting hit once not that I didn’t get any red marks but mostly because I didn’t. To my parents who did not finish their education due to the Japanese Occupation, education was a way out of poverty. They saw to it that we did well in school. They believed in our potential and what we could become. And I think it was because of our background and upbringing that we are what we have become today. We are all successful in our own way and mostly because of our parents. I remember growing up in a kampong house in Tarom, then moving to Stulang Laut, then to Pelangi Garden and the last house we moved to In Taman Perling, Tampoi.


My father loved Elvis Presley and we never missed his movies, he would bring us to the Grand Prix motorbike races and the yearly Chingay processions. Yes, we all could recall those memorable times, both happy and difficult. As I went away to university, started my career, moved to Kuantan, got married, had a family and then later moved to Kuala Lumpur, my visits home to JB were regular and limited to birthdays and festive seasons. But then, my parents were always up in KL every other month and my daily phone calls over the years made sure we were never were too far away.

The last year when mum had to undergo a by-pass saw them move up to KL to stay with my brother and his family. Of course it meant uprooting them from their own home, but that was the only thing we could see possible as they were then not able to care for themselves as mum was too weak. This also meant that it was easier for me and my family to visit often. I am glad the last year, my children got to know my parents especially dad better than all the years put together. My son would engage dad in a game of Chinese chess and promptly lose to him as dad was very good at the game. My husband would engage him in conversations to stir his memory. Come weekends, it was parent sitting and taking grandparents for shopping trips and dinners. So the last year was a year that meant a lot to me personally. Though my time was divided between work, family and parents…I managed quite well, I think. By taking care of our parents and sharing the responsibilities, somehow it has brought us all brothers and sisters closer than we have ever been before. The family is close-knit as ever. I thank the Lord for letting me have my parents close to us especially dad since he left us quite suddenly.

The last two weeks had been blurry, dad had his hernia operation, an op dimmed minor but I guess for a man his age, nothing was considered minor. But dad was discharged after three days…he seemed to be recovering well and that was the Easter week. The last few days before he died, he didn’t have much of an appetite but we took it to be probably post-op blues. I guess we took it that dad being uncomplaining and quiet was doing well. We didn’t realize that he was slipping away from us. Last Sunday, I spent about five hours helping mum and dad make him comfortable and trying to help him keep some drinks and medicine down . He was throwing up whatever we tried to give him. His feet and legs were icy cold and yet he said it was too hot and refused any blanket. He kept wiping his nose and yes it was running. We didn’t realize that these were signs…my final goodbye was around 9pm when I told him I had to go back, and see to my kids. He was lying in bed and when I told him I had to leave, he just held my hand tightly and told me to take care of the children. In my heart, I think I knew he was slipping away but I didn’t realize it was so soon. We all didn’t. I didn’t have a restful night. The next day…Monday…he passed away.

Dad, you have begun your next journey. We pray you will continue to bless us from Heaven. Dad, you will be missed so much by all of us especially when birthdays and festivals come along. But we still have mom and for us left behind, we will make use of the time we have with mum and make her as comfortable as possible. Dad, may God grant you eternal peace and rest.
We love you dad!



“Hold your family and friends close to your heart. They are the ones who will stand by you, with you, when no one else will.”

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Learn from History…


“History is not to be repeated , but history gives us a chance to learn from our past mistakes” my son told me in no uncertain terms, quoting someone somewhere I think, when we were discussing the subject that to my children is better left to bookworms and historians, whilst they choose to live in the present, not dwell on the past. Someone else also said: “the fact that we can learn, that we have the gift of memory that allows us to keep an inventory of our mistakes, thus preventing us from repeating them all over again” shows us that mankind can make positive changes and revert negative information.

It brings to mind cases in history, like the wars in various parts of the world, Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan…that should not be repeated but avoided at all costs. How often we mourn over lives lost, lost causes, properties burnt-out, misplaced families, relatives and friends. Then we have financial fallouts, monetary disasters, investment cheats, loan defaulters and a breakdown in the financial systems of the world…can the world get over all these human-made disasters? Can the same men who brought us despair and a sense of hopelessness, now learn from the past and bring forth positive changes for the good of mankind?

What about ourselves, our daily lives? We often lament to our children, “back when we were younger, when your parents went to school by bus and pocket money was only 20 sen, when there was only a black and white TV that we could afford, and of course, no such thing as eating out and going to the movies was a once a year New Year treat!”. But our children listen and nod their heads as if in sympathy and then we remind them to be thankful for what they have now and are receiving daily. Life is such a sinch these days, kids have maids, I find it difficult to juggle my career with that of a homemaker without one! I was without one for a whole month when the last one returned to Indonesia. Today, I picked the new one up, judging by her looks and first impressions, she seems polite and obedient. Hope I get lucky cos’ with all the tales about maids attacking their employers these days…one can’t be too careful. Thank God, this weekend is a three day one, so I have ample time to show her the ropes before I fly off to Kuching on Tuesday.

Oh well, life goes on for everyone…take care…

cheers


Monday, March 2, 2009

Story to live by...

Folks, here is a story too good not to share...
There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.'

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.
He asked her,'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?'
The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.
Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to hersaying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.
Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

Life Is a Gift

Today
before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.

Before
you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before
you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion.

Today
before you complain about life - Think of someone who died too early on this earth.

Before
you complain about your children - Think of someone who desires children but they're barren.

Before
you argue about your dirty house someone didn't clean or sweep - Think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before
whining about the distance you drive - Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when
you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.

But
before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another - Remember that not one of us is without sin.

And when
depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and think: you're alive and still around.
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Medical checkup for those above 40 years old…

Yes folks, today I went for a medical checkup at the Tanglin Hospital, for government servants.
There were thirty of us from the same work place. We arrived at 8am (myself and a colleaque, we met some others who had arrived at 7am. Still, we were given numbers during registration, and proceeded to the lab for blood tests. It was followed by height, weight and BMI measurement. Yours truly as confirmed put back the 2 kgs lost before the X’mas holidays and CNY! But my BMI was 25.4 which was slightly above the allowed level of 25. Now, all I have to do is go back to my diet of eating properly and presto before my next appointment I should lose the 2 kgs!
This was followed by an eye and dental examination. My eye-exam made me realize that something also not right with the right eye, so far I only wear glasses that reflected only the left eye which was far-sighted. That’s good I suppose. Then, the dental examination confirmed two chipped teeth on the lower and upper teeth and so that warranted an appointment. I feared for the worst as I often hear tales of appointments at public hospitals and clinics that may take 6 months to a year. Fortunately for me, my next appointment was on 2 April, wow, a month only, not bad at all, considering the number of cases the clinic handles daily. Then it was back to the healthy citizen’s clinic for an appointment to have urine tests and other tests not covered today, plus also the results for the blood tests taken today. A month for the results, oh well, better late than never. Anyway, I managed to put this appointment together with the dental appointment , killing two birds with one stone so to speak, so it will save me time to visit the clinic instead of twice.
So, all in all, considering the number of tests we had to undergo at different locations, three hours was good time. So you see, my colleague and I were back at our workplace by 11am.
I really wanted to have myself checked out this year so this is a good thing. We should all go for a medical checkup as we age..he he…for me and for many others, once past fifty, we really better be looking after ourselves well. I had a similar one done last year, but that included quite a comprehensive one cos’ it was for a well-being and leadership course. I am ready for the appointments in April. In the meantime, its back to a proper diet and exercise plan for me. I really want to see if I can lose that two kgs!

Cheers!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

RECOVERY –UNDER THE KNIFE ONCE AGAIN.

Well it’s been almost three weeks since mum had her operation for her medical condition termed massive bleeding from a caecal diverticula.. It’s been a slow recovery for her and we, the children, who are care-takers as well. We hope for the best and are glad that we can afford to give her the best medical care at a good private hospital and also the healing that comes after that. Through it all, since mum’s heart by-pass operation last June, I have observed that time also brings out the best and the worst of us. Maybe we are so caught up with our own lives that we are unwilling to disrupt our day to day lives.

During the last op, my sister from London, who has nursing background, took a month’s leave to help her recover and the rest of us did what we could but more or less, really got away with taking care of her directly. Mum recovered very well. This time round, she couldn’t get leave so it fell on my eldest sis, my eldest bro, his wife and myself to help take care of her needs plus a supportive maid, courtesy of my eldest bro. The other family members do visit but are too far away to help out personally but do so financially.

I believe that peace of mind, a happy disposition, a positive attitude and support from everyone around her will aid in her recovery. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not happen as we plan. Mum remains slow to recover in body, mind and soul. She remains negative in ever recovering fully, and wonder what next to ‘cut up’ since she has had so much surgery done on her physically. She has had a major heart surgery and three knee operations and now an abdominal cut…wowo..can any sane person endure so much pain and so much trauma. I wish all of us, especially family members will take note of her condition and try to empathise, let us place ourselves in her position. We are all so busy with our lives, we believe that it is not our problem, this is her problem, we fail to see that it is something (anyone of her operations) that can happen to us one day in the future. I don’t question God, though mum has been doing that a lot lately, "what evil deeds have I done to deserve all these". Perhaps a priest can help her sought out her religious queries aside from counselling her on her despair and fears. As her children, we all don’t want to see her suffer more that is necessary in her journey of recovery but I hope everyone will be patient and play his or her role, and take note that one is susceptible to all ills, it’s just a matter of time, and also note that we will all grow old one day!

Remember, that when we were young, our parents took care of all our needs, how did she manage with 6 children and we can’t even manage with two of our own? Now it is our turn and we make so many excuses not to take care of one person. There is also dad but that’s another story…will write about that soon. Let us do what good we can today before it is too late, cos we should ask ourselves, how long more will mum or dad be with us? Remember, that one day when we are old and sick, we also want our children to take care of us, we want to be loved and cared about…I believe in karma..what goes round comes round…so I wish to thank everyone in the family, in-laws included, relatives and friends for your support and love in our times of need. I love u mum and dad!

So do your part and God will do the rest, he he.
Cheers!

Overtaken by events...

Hello everyone,

Hope everyone is in the pink of health.

Just in case everyone is wondering what's up with me...well my family and I are fine.
This was written sometime back but not posted due to everything being overtaken by events.

Why so quiet you say this CNY? Well friends, it has been quite a year for us last year, my mum had her major by pass heart operation in June 2008 and my dad with his deteriorating Parkinsons disease. I know 2008 also took away some of our dear ones...our sympathies.

Well the CNY was spent in Kuala Lumpur as my mum is still recuperating and they are with my brother here in Damansara. My parents haven't been in the best of health but they trudge on and we try our best to make them happy. Last Saturday, mum was warded in the ICU for internal bleeding. It was until last night that they located the source, near the caecum..large intestine..if u google u will see what I mean.. Due to her contiinuous bleeding, doctors tried to plug it with a coil but it was unsuccessful..and they finished at 3.30am..so we waited till morning.
Today at ten, they decided they couldnt wait and a major op was carried out at 2.00pm today, they have since removed one third of her colon and tied up the rest...we just left her..she has been sedated with morphine but groans in pain as they have to cut up her stomach..so soon after her heart op..we shudder at what she is going through...she is indeed a very strong person, anyway, docs say her surgery was a success, thank God...but we will all have to see about her recuperation...she is still in the ICU of course but we hope she'll be better enough to move to the normal ward in a few days time. Praise God.

Well just wanted to share my story...in case you all are wondering what happened to us..I suppose all of us have our own stories to tell..but if we dont share no one will know right..we just wanted your prayers and thoughts...
we will also pray for everyone's good health and success this year and the years ahead. Age sure is catching up on us all, so take care everyone. Eat the right food and exercise!

Today is the last day of CNY-Happy Chap Goh Mei! It has indeed been a special CNY for us.


God Bless.
Lucia and family.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chinese New Year: Year of the Ox-2009


CHINESE NEW YEAR (Part 1)

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.
The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth."

Chinese New Year Day is the first day of the first lunar month of Chinese calendar year. The Chinese new year day is always between January 20 to February 20 of the Gregorian calendar each year. The preparation to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival begins around 8th day of 12th lunar month. The last day of the Chinese New Year festival is on the 15th day of first lunar month. That means, it requires about three weeks to prepare for the festival and 15 days to celebrate it. Traditionally, a Chinese man works outside for a living and his wife takes care of everything inside the home. A month is not long enough for a housewife to clean the entire house, put new interior and exterior decorations, prepare new clothes and gifts for all family members, and food for many events. You can imagine that Chinese New Year festival combined with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Day together.

To understand more about the 15-day Chinese New Year festival, we need to know some Chinese cultural background first. Thousands of years ago, China was mainly an agricultural society. Each year, the Dynasty government announced the annual calendar for farmers. The calendar contained the solar, lunar and weather information for people to know when to seed, plant, harvest on their land and even when to work, rest, pray and celebrate their activities. Obviously, farmers know they count on the sky for their living. The sky is connected to heaven and heaven is related to religion. The major activity of the religion is to pray to gods for good luck, wealth, health, wisdom, career, longevity, peace and happiness at the temple or at home.

Chinese New Year Eve - 30th (or 29th) Lunar day of 12th Lunar Month
Chinese New Year Eve usually is on 30th lunar day of 12th lunar month. However, a lunar month might have only 29 days. In this case, the Chinese New Year Eve becomes on 29th day of 12th lunar month. The next day will be a new moon day, which is the Chinese New Year Day.
In Chinese, Chinese New Year Eve is called Chu-Xi or Guo-Nian . Chu means removal. Xi means night. Guo means passing. Nian means year.

Original meaning of Nian is related to the farmer's harvest. Chinese Farmers celebrated their achievements for the past year, appreciated the gracious rewards given from the gods, and prayed for the same luck for the coming year.
Nobody knows when the legendary story about Nian began. Nian was a ferocious and carnivorous beast. It had lion-type head with elephant-type body. Nian couldn't find any food in the cold winter time, because many animals hibernated in the mountains. It must go down from the mountain to find the livestock. Later, it became a man-eater.

Nian was too strong to kill. Every winter night, people must stay inside the house. Years later, people found Nian was afraid of red, fire and noisy sound. So they cut red-color peach wood hanging on the door, made a campfire in the front of the door. When Nian approached the village, then people put the bamboo into the fire to make cracking sound. They also beat the metal kitchen and farming utensils to make noisy sound to scare Nian away.

People survived, celebrated and congratulation each other on the next day. People felt like a restarting point after passing the disaster. Then, they called Guo-Nian (passing Nian) as the day before the new starting day.

Events on the Day of Chinese New Year Eve

House cleaning should be ready on or before the day Chinese New Year eve. But most Chinese families are still very busy on this day. Early morning, someone has to go to the flower-market to buy flowers for worship events and new year day’s decoration. Red is the auspicious color in China. The pink peach flower and Japanese sakura are very popular choices for the flower arrangement.

The first event on the Chinese New Year Eve is to worship the Jade Emperor with flowers and fruits without animal sacrifices (top ranking gods are vegetarian) in the early morning to thank the gracious protection from the god of heaven in the past year and pray for safety, health and luck for the coming year.

Many families probably are still working on the final house decorations. They need to finish the decoration on doors and windows. Chinese calligraphers write the New Year's poetry on the red color paper and people pasted them on the top and both of sides of main-entry door. They said this custom comes from the story of man-eater Nian animal, which was afraid of red. At the beginning, people drew The God of Door images on the red-color peach tree wood hanging on the door to scare the devil spirit away. Later, Chinese use red color paper instead. There is an even simpler way is to write a single character on the diamond-shape red paper and paste on the doors, windows, containers, posts, storages and money safety boxes. The popular characters are Spring, Luck, Full, Money, Happiness, Wealth, Safety or Prosperity. Some are posted upside down, because the sound of upside-down in Chinese is similar to the word of come. So the upside-down MONEY poster means money comes. The upside-down LUCK poster means the luck comes.

A long time ago, the Chinese pasted the New Year paper-cutting arts on the windows. It's hard to find people doing this today, because it's required the experienced skill and lots of patience to create those art works. It's also quite time-consuming to put the arts on the windows.
In the afternoon around 2 or 3 P.M., the Chinese need to say good-bye to the current year by telling the gods and ancestors at family Buddhist altar with Nian-Gao (sweet rice cake), Fa-Gao (steamed rice cake), animal sacrifices (pork, duck, chicken or fish), fruit, drink, candy with big red candles. A long time ago, one thing important and special is to put a hundred coins tied with red thread and hope for good money luck and wish to live to 100 years old. Today, people put cash as much as you can instead.

After saying goodbye to gods and ancestors, women begin to prepare the reunion dinner. The main dish sitting on the center of the table is Hot-Pot. The traditional Hot-Pot is a big metal (alumni) bowel and has a hollow tube in the center. Chinese put hot bone soup in the bowel and cook different kind of sliced meat, seafood, vegetable, meat balls and seafood balls during the dinner. They put hot-rock or hot-coal inside the hollow tube to keep food warm. So they can eat the reunion dinner each for hours.

Chinese New Year day usually is close to spring, but it's very often that the weather is still cold. In ancient China, in order to eat the warm food, Chinese had to sit around the cooking stove for New Year Eve dinner. That's why this dinner is also called Wei-Lu , which means "surrounding the stove".
There are many dishes on the dinner table. Every dish has an auspicious meaning behind it. It's connected to longevity, reunion, perfection, good luck, health, diligence, satisfaction or promotion based on the homophone of the dish's name. Family members are supposed to have some from every dish. So they can eat and chat for longer time and share love and care during this time. However, Chinese don't touch fish on the table. This is because the homophone of fish is remainder, which means they have surplus or extra saving in the end of the year. On the other hand, they need leftovers for Chinese New Year Day - nobody cooks at home.

After dinner, that's a exciting time for the children. They are waiting for New Year's Hong Bao , which is a Red Envelope containing the brand-new money. Adults or parents will hand out the Red Envelopes to children, unmarried immediate family and their parents before going to the bed. Children will put all Red Envelopes under the pillow when sleeping. They said children can sleep well without bad dreams and become richer next year. The family expense increase sharply during the Chinese New Year period. Usually, Chinese receive year-end bonus of about one or two months salary pay. (The lucky ones can even have one year salary) from the company before Chinese New Year holiday. Therefore, most families can afford better food, clothing and decoration for Chinese New Year. Banks will prepare many brand new bills for people to exchange. That's why all the lucky money in the Red Envelope are brand-new.

The last event is the vigil to wait for advent of the new year. One main reason is to extend the parents’ lifespan. The sound of Sleepiness in Chinese is similar to Trouble. Sleepless means no trouble for the coming year. How can Chinese keep them awake? It's simple. They watch TV shows or Chinese New Year specials. The other way is gambling - playing Mah-Jong. It requireds lots of skill, memorization, calculation, strategy and luck to win the money. Since you have to concentrate fully, you will feel the time pass quickly. Usually, they will play Mah-Jong all night long, because the losers wouldn't quit!

The most popular sweet cakes are Nian-Gao and Fa-Gao . In Chinese, Nian is Year and Gao is Cake. So Nian-Gao means Year Cake. Since Nian-Gao is made of glutinous sweet rice and. Nian has the same sound with Chinese character Sticky. Nian-Gao is also called Sticky Cake. Fa literally means Prosperity. Gao has a similar sounds to Chinese character High. Eating Fa-Gao helps people's career, wealth and health to go a step higher.

Today, many Chinese directly buy the Nian-Gao and Fa-Gao from the supermarket. Nian-Gao can be cut into pieces, then fry or deep-fry it. Nian-Gao is very taste right after frying. Fa-Gao can be re-heat or re-steam before serving.
Many people will gather outside the temple after reunion dinner, everyone wants to be the first person of the year to be blessed by the God. There is the first incense stick race at many temples every year. One the first second of Rat hour, 11 P.M., as soon as the temple's main gate is opened, people will dash into the temple to insert the incense stick into the incense container. The winner will win a big Red-Envelope from the temple. But the most important thing is the winner will be very lucky in the coming year.

After receiving the Red Envelopes, young people like to go outside for the vigil of the year. Before midnight, they gather with friends or relatives around park, riverside or tall buildings to wait for the Chinese New Year fireworks.
Chinese New Year Day - The First Lunar Day of The First Lunar Month
Chinese New Year fireworks will open the event for the Chinese New Year festival. The sound of firecrackers tells people the new year has arrived. People offers the New Year's greetings while they are watching TV shows, enjoying the fireworks, asking luck at temple or gambling. The most popular greeting is Gong Xi Fa Chai (Cantonese pronounces Gong Hay Fat Choy), which means "congratulations and make a fortune." The firecracker and congratulations greeting are from the story of animal Nian. "Make a fortune" is to wish people wealth, because Chinese love to talk about money.

Some Chinese family change into new clothes right after midnight or the Rat hour in the Chinese New Year Eve. Then, they choose the lucky hour from Chinese Farmer's Calendar to worship spirits and ancestors with candles, fruit, rice cake, tea, long noodle and candies. The purpose of this worship to tell spirits and ancestors the new year arrives. In the end of the ceremony, they will open the door, select a lucky money direction to explode the firecrackers, which means to get rid of old bad stuff and welcome the new coming. Some Chinese families give the Red Envelope to children at this time, then the children go to bed.
After dawn, it's time to say Chinese New Year greetings to neighbors, friends, coworkers, and relatives. Previously, school teachers will go back to school to greet each other. Government employees will go back the office to say happy new year. Now, many people say Gong Xi Fa Chai by phone via sms or send the greeting by e-mail.
On Chinese New Year day, Chinese eat the breakfast without meat from the New Year Eve leftover. At noon, they have to worship the Spirit of The House with simple animal sacrifices, vegetables and rice. At the evening, they worship family ancestors again with full dinner food.
In the morning, all the children are supposed to wear new clothes, pants, shoes, hat or jacket. Every family should prepare many different kinds of sweet candies in a tray for people visiting their houses. If a child goes with an adult to visit someone and says Gong Xi Fa Chai, he can receive a Red Envelope. In Taiwan, the president, city majors and temples will prepare many Red Envelopes for their supporters. Since the number of Red Envelopes is limited, people have to go earlier and wait in a long line in order to have a handshake and Red Envelope.

Chinese New Year day is close to the early spring. That means it's a beginning of blossom season. The popular flowers for Chinese New Year are orchid, narcissuses, peach flower, chrysanthemum, kumquat, cherry blossoms, camellia and so on. So some people like to visit the flower garden or attend flower expo to enjoy the sight of flowers or bring some flower pots home.
Some Chinese would like to take whole family to countryside to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Some like to go to the temples to see the crowd and pray for coming luck. Today, more young people go to department stores to spend their Red Envelope money and shop for the New Year special bargains or go to movie theater with friends. Certainly, some still like to sit by the Mah-Jong table to earn money.

It's getting less possible to see the lion dancing or dragon dancing on the modern city street. People have to go to national culture streets to see the Chinese New Year traditional activities. Over there, people can see lion dance, the god of money, parade, open theater opera, puppet show, etc. They also can buy different traditional candies, their zodiac animal symbols, food, gifts from the culture stores.

The Chinese keep the lion dancing custom because that they think the lion image can expel the evil spirits away. The Chinese also believe that dragon is in charge of rain. The dragon dancing is praying for appropriate rain to water the crops during the farming season. Also, the dragon is an auspicious and notable symbol which can bring people luck. You can watch the Dragon Dancing video from the following links - video 1 video 2 photos.

The unique style of music for Chinese New Year can be heard at Chinese New Year Music (MP3). You can hear music from department stores, radio stations, TV stations, and during the lion dancing or dragon dancing on the street.

There are some taboos on the Chinese New Year Day:

1. Since everybody is in a festive mood under a joyful and hilarious atmosphere, people shouldn't argue with each other. Also parents shouldn't scold or punish the children. Otherwise, you will have more arguments in the new year.
2. Women shouldn't use knife or shear in the kitchen, which indicates evil, anger, danger and cutting out the luck. As a result, women don't cook new dishes on this day, people eat meals from the leftovers.
3. Breaking dish plate, bowel or cup means bad money luck coming. In case that happens, then Chinese put all broken pieces in a round container until the coming trash day.
4. A married women shouldn't go back to her mother’s home, otherwise her mother’s family will get poorer.
5. To sweep the floor or dump the trash will take away the wealth and luck from the house.
6. Don't have a lunch nap at noon, otherwise people will be lazy year long.
7. To wash the hair will wash your good luck away.
8. Don't wear in black or white to visit friends, because black and white are funeral colors in China
9. People shouldn't visit friend's house, if they have a family member that has just passed away.
10.Don't eat rice porridge in the morning for breakfast, otherwise you won't get rich because only poor people eat rice porridge in the past.
11. Don't eat meat in the morning breakfast, because many gods who are vegetarians arrive New Year Day festival in the morning.
12.Don't wake up people by calling their names, otherwise that sleeping person needs people's push all year long.
13.Don't eat unnecessary medicine, otherwise you will become unhealthy this year.
14.Don't wash clothes, because New Year Day is the birthday of the god of Water. 15.If someone owes you money, do not ask for the money back on this day. Otherwise, you will do it often in the rest of the year.
16.Don't let people take anything away from your pocket or purse, because that's a sign of money loss in the year.


The Second Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Day of Son-In-Law
Many Chinese families worship the God of Land every 2nd and 16th lunar day. This is the first time of the year to worship the God of Land with animal offerings and ask for safety and luck. Some Chinese will eat dumplings because it is shaped like the ancient Chinese money - gold ingot.

The big event for this day is that a married woman can return to her mother’s home. Usually, the newlywed woman's brother will come to take her sister home in the morning. The husband must escort his newlywed wife to see his parents-in-law. Certainly, the married woman needs to prepare Red Envelopes for her parents, nephews and nieces. The lunch time is their reunion dinner. The married couples will leave after 3:00 PM. Long time ago, married woman will bring back a pair of sugar cane and a pair of chickens. Sugar cane represents the sweet married life while the chicken stands for more children.

If some married women's parents have passed away, then they either stay at the husband’s house or return to her eldest brother's home.
If every married woman returns her mother home on the 2nd lunar day, then the husband’s house might be without women's hands to entertain his married sisters. Therefore, some married women return home on the third lunar day.

The Third Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Red-Dog Day and Mice Wedding Day
The third lunar day of the year is Red Dog day according to Chinese Farmer's Calendar. Red Dog is the name of the God of Anger, who brings bad luck to people. So people don't like to go out on this day, otherwise they can lose temper easily and have argument with others. Actually, After 2-day celebrating, eating, drinking, playing, gambling, many people are tired and might get up very late. They said that if people want to work on this day, they won't get much progress. Therefore, the Red Dog day is a good excuse for people need a rest.
They also said that people should turn off the lights and go to bed early, because the night is the Mice's Wedding Day and we shouldn't disturb them. The other saying is we want to make it dark, so mice have difficulty to making the wedding, which can slow down mice's breeding. In the old farmer society, people will leave a few of rice cakes in the corner of a room for the mice at night.

Anyway, to get up late and turn in early is for those people who were busy to prepare for Chinese New Year festival since last December have a chance to take a break.
Some people bring trash, which accumulates since Chinese New Year Eve, outside the house on this day. They said that's to sweep out the Poor Spirit from the house.

The 4th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Welcome the God of Stove Back
On the 24th of 12th lunar month, The God of Stove went back the Heaven to report his duty. The God of Stove will return the house on the 4th lunar day of Chinese New Year.
Since the Heaven is far away from the Earth, it will take almost a day for The God of Stove to travel down to Chinese family's kitchen. The God of Stove must leave the Heaven in the morning. He should arrive people house in the afternoon. Therefore, the Welcome Ceremony will be in the afternoon. This is the same for the Farewell day, Chinese prepare animal sacrifices, fruit, food, cake and wine to worship The God of Stove. After the Welcome Ceremony, Chinese families will burn firecrackers to welcome The God of Stove back into the house.

The 5th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Open Business Day - Welcome the God of Wealth
After a 4-day vacation, people are ready to go back to work. Most of companies will open business on the 5th lunar day. Many Chinese always select an auspicious hour from Chinese Farmer's Calendar to open the company door. Company owners who have faith in religioun will worship the Gods of Wealth with animal sacrifices before opening business. After the ceremony, they will burn a long string of firecracker to get people's attention. Today, some cities ban firecrackers, people play the recoding sound of firecrackers from tape or DVD players instead.
The lion dance team will parade on the street with the sound of drums, cymbals and firecrackers. They wait for the stores to invite them to have a lion dance fore- opening their business. Then lion dance team will wish the store a prosperous business and bring in wealth and propserity all year long. Then, they will be rewarded with a Red Envelope from the store owner after the performance.

Sometimes, we can see someone wearing the God of Wealth's mascot to ask Red Envelope from the opening stores. Many store owners are reluctant to give away the Red Envelope. But no store wants to turn the God of Wealth away.
The exploding sound of the firecracker tells people the company is ready for business and ask people to come into the door. Usually the first customer might get a Red Envelope from the store owner. It's very important that a company cannot fail the first transaction of the year.
The New Year Greeting Party of schools, big corporations or government departments should be held on New Year Day. But many people don't want to spend valuable time on the New Year day; so many organizations move the New Year Greeting hours on this day.
Also, the 5th lunar day is a trash day. All trashes collected from the New Year Day Eve, finally, can get rid of it from the house. Everything should return to normal.
Who is the God of Wealth? There are more than one the Gods of Wealth.

The 6th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Clear-Water Master Day (The God of Pig Day)
This day is the death anniversary of the Clear-Water Grand Master. The Master was a monk in Sung dynasty. He prayed for rain many times to save people during the drought. He persuaded people to build many bridges and to plant trees. Many miracles happened after his death. Once he lived at Clear-Water Rock Mountain. So people call him Clear-Water Grand Master. His temple will have a big ceremony on this day. Many people are still on holiday vacation and will attend the ceremony.

In Taiwan, there is a contest for the title of the God of Pig at the temple of Clear-Water Grand Master. The heaviest pig can win the title. The 2007 winner pig was close to 2000 lbs. All the contest pigs will be killed, haircut, colored and shown their back on the truck. Because the God of Pig is so heavy, the owner can sell pork for more than a million Taiwanese dollars!
The traditional Chinese opera will be invited to perform on the street for days to celebrate this special festival.

The 7th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Human Day
According to Chinese genesis, the goddess with snake body (2852-2738 B.C.) created chicken on the first day of the first lunar month, dog on the 2nd day, sheep on the 3rd day, pig on the 4th day, cow on the 5th day, horse on the 6th and human on the 7th day.
The goddess made many human using mud mixed by yellow soil and water. Also she taught humans about the marriage; so human can reproduce themselves. Therefore, the 7th lunar day of the year becomes the human's birthday.
Almost no Chinese celebrate on this day. Some people just eat potatoes with angel hair noodle. The long noodle stands for longevity. On this day, the Chinese will eat seven kinds of vegetables (celery, shepherd's purse, spinach, green onion, garlic, mugwort and colewort) on the human day, or yan yat which can repel the evil spirits and sickness away.

The 8th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Completion Day

The holiday for government and business company ends on the 5th lunar day. But some people take long days off until 8th lunar day. The Completion Day means people should return from the holiday vacation and go back to work. All the meat and cake prepared for Chinese New Year should finish on this day. Everything should be back to normal.
The 8th lunar day of the first month is also the birthday of Yen-Lo King, who is 5th king of Legendary Hell in 5th palace.

The 9th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Birthday of King of Heaven - Jade Emperor
According to Taoism (Daoism), the Jade Emperor lives in the 33rd heaven and governs 33 heavens; so he is the king of heavens. Jade Emperor is a vegetarian. To celebrate his birthday, Chinese prepare three bundles of long noodles, three tea cups with green tea, five different kinds of fruit and six different kinds of dry vegetables to worship Jade Emperor. But people also prepare five animal sacrifices, different sweet cakes and turtle cake (turtle is a symbol of longevity) on a different table for the Jade Emperor's guardian soldiers.
To show the sincerity, many people take bath on the 8th lunar night, then wait for the first minute of 8th lunar day to begin the ceremony with their clean body. After the ceremony, Chinese burn the firecrackers. That's why we can hear the scattered sound of fire crackers from midnight to sunrise. The temple of Jade Emperor will be crowded as the Chinese New Year day since the night of 8th lunar day for those people unable to hold the worship event at home. For the same purpose, Chinese always pray for better luck, safety, health, love or money, when they visit the temple.


The 10th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Eating Day
On the next day of the Jade Emperor's birthday, there are a lot of food left over from the birthday's ceremony. People have to take care of all the vegetables, animal scarifies, cakes and fruit on the 10th lunar day of the year.

The 11th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Break Day
There is no special event on the 11th lunar day. Some families will invite daughters and sons-in-law back to the house to enjoy the final meal left from Jade Emperor's birthday feast.

The 12th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Diarrhea Day
Many people keep eating with greasy food from Chinese New Year Eve for 11 days. They might have a trouble for diarrhea on this day. For some people have to begin to prepare the Lantern Festival, which is on the 15th lunar day.

The 13th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Death Anniversary of General Kuan Yu
All the festival food would probably be gone on the 13th lunar day of the year. People just eat something simple on this day. This day is also the death anniversary of General Kuan Yu. Some Chinese will visit the temple of General Kuan to pray for safety and money luck.
Kuan Yu was a general in Three Kingdom period, (2211-263 AD), after the late Han Dynasty. He killed a bad guy and disguised himself with a red face when young. He helped his friend and tried to recover Han Dynasty. People remembered his bravery and skill in fighting, his righteousness, loyalty to friends, faith and acts of justice. But his life ended when he was beheaded. After his death, his spirit wouldn't die and his divine image appeared in the sky several times. People worship General Kuan Yu to repel evil spirits away. Also, some Chinese treat General Kuan as a God of Wealth. This is because General Kuan won hundreds of battles and business people want to win the battle in their business deals.

The 14th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Lantern Decoration Day

The day before the Lantern Festival, the Lantern Display stage will be built on the open square in front of temples. People will bring their designed lanterns to the display stage for the competition. A dedicated lantern might take more than a month to complete. The ancient lantern has a candle inside to keep it bright. Candles might cause a fire. Today's lantern is lighted up by battery or electricity. Therefore, people need to test the lantern at night. If any performance on the Lantern Festival will have rehearsals on this day.
Before adult made lanterns for children on the 14th lunar day. Now children can go to the store to find and buy their own lanterns. The most popular lantern is always related to the Chinese horoscope animal of the new year.


The 15th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival is called Yuan-Xiao Festival in China. This is because Chinese eat Yuan-Xiao on this day. Yuan-Xiao just look and taste like Tang-Yuan (See Winter Solstice - Tang-Yuan Day) . The difference is the way they made.
The Lantern Festival is also called San-Yuan (upper period of the year) Festival in Taoism. This day is the birthday of the Heaven Officer who blesses human luck. So many people have a worship ceremony at home and some go to Taoism temple pray for luck.
Yuan-Xiao Festival is a traditional Chinese festival going back to the Han Dynasty of over 2000 years ago. There is a story about the Lantern Festival. A beautiful heavenly bird flew down to a village and was killed. The God of Heaven was very angry and wanted to burn down the entire village on the 15th lunar day. One wise man advised every family to hang candle lanterns around the house, carry lanterns on the street, burn the firecracker at the 15th lunar night. The soldiers of the God of Heaven saw the village was on fire from the heaven, and returned back to the heaven. The village survived and people keep the lantern activity on this day every year.
Today, not too many children carry the candle lanterns on the night of 15th lunar day. But lantern displays are shown in the town center square or next to the temple. The most popular lantern is the animal symbol of the Chinese calendar year. The gods, saints and fairy of Taoism or historical figures are popular and common subjects.
Besides the lantern display, a traditional riddle games will be held in the temple. The questions are related with to the lantern displays, news or popular persons in town. When the game begins, the person who figures out the answers first, can win a prize.
Lantern laser shows, flying sky lantern or ‘kuomintang’, mass firecrackers, fireworks and music concerts are essential activities. The events continue all night long.

In Malaysia, we celebrate Chap Goh Mei. In Hokkien dialect, it means the 15th night of Chinese New Year. It is celebrated with paryers and offerings to mark theend of the CNY. Houses are again brightly decorated with lights for the least day of the celebration. Legend has it that young unmarried women who throw tangerines into the sea will find a good husband. So you will find this happening near rivers and on bridges. After this day, it is business as usual and everyone is looking forward to the next Chinese New Year.

This year, we celebrated CNY with my parents at my eldest brother’s house in Sunway Damansara. The previous two years, we had our CNY at my younger brother’s place in Ayer Molek, Johor. All members of my family returned for the reunion dinner, except for my sister in London, she couldn’t get leave this time. This year, our family members totalled twenty-one. They all stayed on for three days and went back to their respective houses. It was quite a reunion as usual, so much eating, playing cards, ginrummy, and just having fun keeping each other company. I think it was quite a good gathering…thank God my girl managed to get a ticket home at the last minute, but it was filled with horror stories of the air-conditioner breaking done and sweating for most of the journey. Anyway, she was only back for three days and had to go back to NUS, her lectures started in third day of CNY. Still she’s doing well and enjoying her studies.

Well, in a few days time it will be Chap Goh Mei, the 15 day and the last day of the CNY. Find out more via this website: You can visit: www.chinapage.com/newyear

To everyone celebrating CNY, I would like to wish all of you a fantastic OX year, have a great bull run and perhaps amidst all the economic gloom, let’s enjoy till the cows come home!
For more info pls go to:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jonthan's Confirmation as a Catholic

Two Sundays ago, 18 January 2009 marked my son’s Confirmation as a Catholic, the fourth sacrament in the life of a Catholic. My son, who is sixteen and now in Form Five, had already gone through the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion or Eucharist and Reconciliation. He has prepared for Confirmation for the last four years. In preparation for last Sunday’s ritual, he attended a one and half day camp and we, parents also had to attend a session with the facilitator over the weekend. It was an enlightening session and I must say that Martin Jalleh is a fantastic speaker and motivator. My youngest daughter, now in Form Three, is already looking forward to her Confirmation in two years time.

So what do we know of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace. Here is the list: Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. For further info one can visit the website: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Sacraments/default.asp on the Seven Catholic Sacraments.

For most of us adult Catholics, we would have gone through six of the sacraments before we die. Those who choose to give themselves to God and become priests and nuns would have the privilege of taking the full seven sacraments. We all want to lead good Christian lives. It’s a competitive world out there, the whole world is now a global village.
Here are some tips on how to be a good Christian taken from :
http://www.wikihow.com/Live-A -Good-Christian-Life

1. Follow Jesus' greatest commandment: Love God completely and everybody even if they treat you wrongly whether you know them or not. Jesus said "You have heard love your neighbor and hate your enemies, but I say love [be kind to] your enemies also..." (Matthew 5:43)

2. Acknowledge you're a sinner and then repent. Realize that conversion is not simply one act but the beginning of a life-long commitment. Don't be hard on yourself if and when you fail, pick yourself up, trust in God and go forward.

3. Read your Bible. You can really learn a lot from this. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable [for something] for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"(2 Timothy 3:16) If you open to a part that is not meaningful to you consider skipping a chapter or two and try again or close your Bible and open it again.

4. Set aside time for effective and meaningful prayer. Make intercession for people who do not pray enough for their own development, i.e.: children, cousins, friends, enemies and family, etc.
5. Try to see the perspectives (point of view) of others, even if you personally disagree with them. Of course, an answered prayer for peace for your enemies and that they would become blessed as children of God would help both you and them.

5. Be patient with people who anger you; work on trying to forgive those who may have hurt you. You must learn to love your enemies. God loves everyone, and we need to, also. Say farewell to selective loving. If you have a hard time loving your enemies, pray to God for help.

6. Work and pray for others to the best of your abilities to help others in many ways.

7. Treat others kindly as you would like to be treated. Even simple acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone are good deeds that can help you feel less paranoid--because then you feel that others should think well of you and of your testimony in Christ.

8. Volunteer to help people. For example, you could take a shift at a soup kitchen near you, help with a Christmas effort to give gifts to the poor on Christmas, or visit a people staying in a nursing home.

9. Remain conservative in your ethics, moderate and modest being sure to remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us. The source of all sin is oneself and not considering others (greed, lust, hate, murder, theft, etc.).
10. Share your beliefs so that you spread the good news. Remember, living the Christian life through your actions will make others want to follow God. Always stick up for your beliefs such as being conservative in good morals and liberal in giving your own goods--not being a Robin Hood or "welfare-pimp" or "welfare-monger" (profiting off poverty) or welfare-cheat, but converting others to Christ by grace through faith, and then into good-works.

11. Understand what Christians believe God said that you will be persecuted for your beliefs, so do not allow others' attacks to weaken your faith. Have the courage of you convictions to do well but not for judging others.

12. Make special efforts to fellowship with other believers. It is a wonderful thing that God wants Christians to unite in church and Bible study evenings--so do not think of others as hypocrites or hold yourself out as an example. Give the credit for any good that you may do to God and to God's blessing. You will find it a blessing to talk with Bible study members about the Christian life: but not sensationalism like argumentative opinions or sex-talk, of course... This may be called being accountable--being open to share your views or any misgivings and weaknesses.

13. Reform yourself: it's crucial--but not for salvation--only to do well and to be right (in line with the Truth). You must "put off" the old man and "put on" the whole armor or God. One may sin against himself and possibly against God's purpose and plan by just carelessly maintaining old habits. The Bible says "Therefore, rid yourselves of everything impure and every expression of wickedness, and with a gentle spirit welcome the word planted in you that can save your souls."(James 1:21)

14. Remember the heart of your faith should be love, not an obligation to check off these boxes but to live as Jesus--easier said than done--but as long as you are aspiring to be like him, you're on the right track. God will always be there to help you through it, one step at a time.
15.Fall in love with God, and trust Him with all your heart, mind and soul! He loves you more than anyone on the planet is even slightly capable of doing! That's worth everything!

16. Remember that being a Christian is a life-long journey toward benefiting others in Christ. Don't expect to be free from sin and error overnight and do not judge yourself or others harshly. Maintain good morals and good habits that glorify God in your body in everyday life--to brag or boast, but to glorify God.

17. Attend church and Sunday school to help learn more about the Christian life and what it means to practice your faith. Go to confession frequently if offered at your church. Some Christian faiths believe we all sin through our words, deeds, and even our thoughts, whether we realize it or not. As part of religious practice some faiths believe Christians should go to confession to cleanse their souls so they may grow closer to our Lord as part of their religious belief system. Remember though, don't be mistaken that it means you only have forgiveness if you do it through someone else... No! God knows your heart, and as long as you ask forgiveness for real, you're forgiven. God's always there for you!.

18.Never lose faith in God.(There will be times this happens in life, we are not perfect and not called to be) . Remember that God loves everybody, and we should too.

19.You can know a Christian by his fruits, but that is a positive statement not judging ill of another. Do not try to judge others to be unsaveable in any circumstances. There is one judge of all; love others as you love yourself.

20. Prayer is powerful; do not underestimate it.

21.When you are confused as to how to live right, you can ask God for help. "If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn't find fault with them."(James 1:5)

22.You can change a lot through prayer, but do not abuse it. God answers all prayers, and He will say "No," to any prayers that are unjust or hurtful. Pray that His will be done in you, because He wants the best for all of us, and He changes all bad things in our life to be good, if we'll trust in Him to do so.

23. Forgive and don't bring it up again--although you cannot change past events--but you can change your views and activities about the past and so (pray thankfully and really forgive). God forgives all manner of sin when we repent sincerely: be like God!

24.Realize that ill-health or illnesses like cancers, sugar diabetes, drunkenness, drug use, extreme obesity, other physical and emotional suffering are often related to personal choices that one knew were not conducive to health, good morals or character.

25.Do not bury your talents or exclude your goods from others--share as much as possible--give to those with less than yourself and serve as a guide giving aide to the less fortunate instead of judging them as lazy or as sinners because of their ill-fortune and poverty. Usually poverty is not a punishment from God, for example an extreme drought or terrible storms may bring starvation, disease and famine and they fall upon all in a state or nation even upon the good and the wise.

So many tips for us (not only Christians), to lead our lives as people should, love ourselves, our families, our neighbours and simply put, why sweat the small stuff when all around us, there is poverty, suffering and war…we should all pray for peace, for justice, for friendship, for harmony cos’ this life is only temporary! Let us all do the best we can to make the world we live in a better place for everyone. Remember, we are all living on borrowed time and our children will inherit this earth we leave behind. So what we do today will be there for them tomorrow.

So, I try to live my life as best as I can, though not perfect. I hope our children will make the right choices in their lives and lead better lives than we can.
Cheers.