Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!



Finally! The flight from NYC to Indianapolis took 2 hours and here we were, in Indianapolis! It was 10.30 in the morning, local time. Excited but at the same time, I was concerned about how were we going to get to the Uni from the airport. Was it near or far? As we walked a few steps further, right in the middle of the spacious arrival hall, we were greeted by a gigantic IU banner! When we took the escalator down towards the exit, we spotted a help desk set up by Indiana University! As we approached, we were greeted by a student volunteer who then told us how to get to the uni campus. What a great welcome, especially for new students. Thank you, IU. Bravo, IU!!!! At the Go Express Shuttle counter, the attendant, a kind elderly lady cheerfully gave us a brief introduction to Indianapolis and Bloomington. We were the 1st Malaysian customers of hers! She kept a list of countries which people came from, with whom she had interaction with at the counter.

From Indianapolis airport to Bloomington, the journey took around 1 hour by shuttle bus. Quite a distance away with not much to see along the way except for scatter of houses and isolated small shops. The shuttle took us right up to the dorm entrance, thankfully!

Sonner got checked in. We planned for him to stay in his dorm in advance so that we have time to get supplies, for him to get adjusted to the new living environment as well as getting to know his room-mate before semester commences. Don't expect 5-star but it's a nice size for students – 2 beds, 2 study tables, 2 closets and bathroom attached. As days passed, the room became cozier (his feedback) and he got along well with his room-mate. The Korean buddy studied in Malaysia for 2 years before coming to Bloomington. He even spoke Malaysian English!

I checked into my motel. Since my booking was done late (considered very late since it was a peak season), I have limited choice of hotels to choose from. Despite the state of its exterior, the room was clean and the Queen-sized bed was comfortable. Took me a while to get to know how to operate the air-con and coffee maker though. However, had a hard time with the shower which kept giving me higher than average temperature of water. Spoken to the front desk twice about it, still not fixed. Sigh.

After experiencing 2 challenging nights, I finally got the chance to change hotel to the one on campus ground. Many parents had checked out after their children's orientation. What a great relief to be nearer to Sonner's dorm. It's a short walk to downtown too! I no longer need to call fr Uber ride just to have a meal. This hotel was so much more comfortable. I longed for a peaceful sleep and finally getting!

All in all, I sat through 4 days of Parents Orientation, missed the first 2 days as we were still in NYC. The email from uni reached us late, after we had done our flights bookings. Nonetheless, not all were lost. They were accommodative and offered me a private campus tour. Bloomington is a small town but people are friendly and most helpful. Spoken to an Uber driver who had just transferred to Bloomington from another state in March. He loves this place. The locals have been exposed to the presence of many foreign students that they got to learn and understand different cultures other than their own. This is indeed a beautiful town with beautiful people!

We shopped at Target, Best Buy and College Mall to get his supplies. He quickly got a road bike on the 2nd day of arrival when we saw he size of the campus. Walking is possible but if one is rushing for classes, it'll be crazy to walk from the dorm to another building. It stretches to quite a distance in between. Staying here, if you move around on foot, you can easily reach your 10,000 steps a day, no sweat! Very good exercise with fresh air.

Every Saturday morning till 1.00pm, there is the Farmer's Market located in front of the City Hall, where residents can get fresh produces like vegetables, fruits, plants and herbs. Additionally, there are some local handicrafts for sale too.

The Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) building houses the Biddel hotel and convention centre, has in-house foodcourt, bookshop, IU shop, Starbucks, Burger King, cafes, bowling alley, and several halls for students to study and do some works. A short walk to the Sample Gate (main entrance of the Uni – pictures below) and downtown.

No worries about food here. Besides McDonald's, Taco Bell, Bloomington Bagels, KFC, Pizza Hut, Chilis, etc, there are Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Burmese, Indian restaurants! Seafood restaurants like Red Lobster and The Running Crab are a few minutes drive away. There's Barnes & Noble bookshop to get the latest publications, books and mags alike. I can't stop telling you guys how much I like this place.

As for IU, it has the Asian Culture Centre (ACC), not specifically for Asians only; others who are interested in Asian culture are always welcome. The seniors immediately got Sonner to sign up as a volunteer photographer for ACC when they learned that he has his own equipment. I'm glad he'll have some other activities to keep him occupied besides attending classes.

The uni provides an academic and a career adviser to each student to guide and support them throughout their studies. There is also counseling for students who might have personal issues like depression, time management, sleeping problem, getting settled down, etc. Here, IU Family is not restricted to merely students and alumni but includes staffs, parents, benefactors, and anyone who is linked to IU. It is one big happy family.

I would highly recommend this uni to anyone, anytime. The environment is most suitable for studying – fresh air, trees everywhere. This small town provides sufficient shops to serve the community. Not much of distractions, unlike in the big cities. When one has too many choices, they can pose as problems than blessings, sometimes.

I'm left with a few more days, 2.5 days to be exact, before I fly home. I can safely say that I'm glad Sonner settles in well and faster than expected. He'll survive here well. I pray that he'll carry himself well and have a wonderful campus experience these 2 years here at IU. And of course, graduate in Y2019.

Yup, I'm a proud Hoosier mom! Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!

Cheers,
Alice

Exploring Big Apple

Our next destination after Orange country was the Big Apple. Yeah, from Orange to Apple! Took an evening flight for 8 hours to reach New York. Time difference between New York and Amsterdam is -6 hours. Between New York and Malaysia is -12 hours. Sharing the beautiful image that greeted us the minute we exited from the JFK arrival hall.

Again, to avoid being jet lagged, we timed our bedtime. We were awake at 6am in Amsterdam which was 12am in NYC. After checking into the hotel, we got ourselves city tour and boat cruise tix from the concierge, for the next day. My son couldn't wait to taste the food of The Halal Guys. Off we walked from the UN Plaza to Fifth Avenue. The evening was moderately cool, good temperature and comfortable for long walks.

Finally, The Halal Guys! We had the combo meal. Not bad. They were in many places, always with a long queue. Once the stomach was filled, we walked back to the hotel. FaceTime session with family back home and finally slept at 1am! That was 25 hours since we woke up in Amsterdam! That's a record.

The next morning, we decided to try out hotdogs by the roadside stall as we saw on TV shows. Then, we hop onto the Big Bus. It's drizzling and looks like going to pour heavier soon. Oh no……

From the bus ride, we got off for our cruise along the Hudson River. Remember how Sully did an emergency landing on the Hudson river? According to the movie (based on true story), it made a record when all passengers on board survived the dangerous yet unusual landing. Following picture shows the landing path along Hudson River.

Though it's raining, we are kept dry on the boat. We had some snacks – nachos and pretzel with hot choc.

It rained the whole day in NYC. It's a pity that we couldn't cover as many places as I planned for originally. Couldn't make it to downtown and uptown sides. Save it for next visit. We only managed to move around the midtown. We walked to Madison Square Park, armed with NYC gift shop umbrellas, for the famous Shake Shack burgers. No shades whatsoever, the place only had garden tables and chairs but it was raining. We ate by the Shake Shack unused mobile stall which provided us with a makeshift table and a bit of cover from the rain. What an adventure it was….

On the way back, we managed to grab some Yankees caps and NMDs from FootLocker. There wasn't any sale going on at FootLocker NYC, unlike in Amsterdam (didn't have our sizes anyway). Oh well….we are happy campers just the same.


Finally, we were back to the cosy hotel. Exhausted, we agreed to order in-room dining. A great plan as we had to wake up very early in the morning for our flight to THE destination.

The following morning, the bell captain convinced us to hail the Yellow instead of calling for an Uber ride. Cab rate to the airport was on fixed rate, plus highway (toll) charges, which added up to less than $60. A very friendly and helpful bell captain. He even spent 10 minutes advising my son about life. George, who's now in his 60s, came to US from Ghana. A proud dad with 3 adult professional children working in the big cities in America. Thank you, George for the advice!

At the airport, again we fill up our stomachs with Shake Shack burgers. The ones at Madison Sq Park were better and not that oily.

For our health conscious friends, these are a nightmare, right? No worries….we walked a lot and able to burn all those fats (excuse…hahaha). Moreover, it is okay to live a little. We hardly do fast food back home. Au revoir, NYC!

That's it folks. This wrapped up our Big Apple (lack of) experience.

Cheers,
Alice

My Orange Experience

A day after my birthday, my son and I flew to Amsterdam. Our flight plan en route to Indianapolis is with 2 stopovers, Amsterdam and New York. Since we are flying so far away from home, we might as well stop at these two cities to rest, relax and sightseeing. Also, to allow son and I to spend a little bit more holiday time together. Let him relax before the next semester commences. I know he is anxious, new environment and all, yet excited about what lies ahead. He also misses his sister and girlfriend terribly, being separated from them. It is the first time in 15.5 years being separated from the sister cum bestie for the first time. Fortunately, with FaceTime, they can video chat anytime.

Our KLM experience for this long-haul night flight was wonderful. We were served with snacks, dinner and breakfast. Had our sleep then watch 2 movies till we touched down at almost 6.00am local time. As usual, when there's a train service to my destination, I'd rather use the train than a cab. The train station was just a few steps away from arrival hall. Bought our tix and off we went searching for the right platform. Boarded the train but it was not as convenient as the one we took in Osaka, Japan which has a special compartment to stow your luggage securely before proceeding to your seats. On board the Amsterdam train, space along the aisle was narrow. If you are traveling with more than 1 luggage, you wouldn't find it easy to move them around. Despite all that limitations, taking the train was easy and straight forward. We reached central station within 30 minutes.

From the train terminal, we took a 10-15 mins walk to our hotel. Weather was clear, quite cold and very windy, just the way I like it. Though it was very early, before 7.00am, the hotel allowed us to check into our room immediately! Excellent front desk service; the lady showed us around the lobby – tea making area, the same place where they hosted wine drinking session every evening from 5pm to 6pm. Off we went to our room. Neat and cosy. Love the cup and saucer and the familiar Nespresso machine.


Off we went to hunt for a cafe for our 2nd breakfast. I've always liked to sit at the sidewalk cafe, sipping my hot cup of coffee while watching activities around me. We can't do that back home on a sunny day. Armed with the city map, we walked wherever the legs took us. We were fortunate to arrive early that we got the chance to enjoy 2 full days in the city before departing for our next destination the following day. Son and I felt that having 3D 2N in AMS is just nice.

We took our time to visit some museums and had a cruise tour along the canal. We returned to the hotel in time for the wine drinking session. Dry white, red wine and rosé were served with some finger food. The staffs were friendly and chatted with every guest. Dear son looked younger than his age that he was politely asked for identification before being poured a glass of wine. The legal age for consuming beer and wine in Netherlands is 16! Well, he can still drink here but not anymore when we reach the States.

We walked to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner. After the long flight, we'd better take it easy on Day 1 but sleep at proper bedtime so that to avoid having jet lag. The sun set around 9.30pm. It's nice to see the sky so clear and still bright at dinnertime.

The following day, we bought ourselves the City Sightseeing (hop on and hop off) bus and boat tour. It is the best way and shortest time to cover the entire city. Made easier when I downloaded the app into my phone. That Sunday was also the Gay Pride Day. The whole city came alive with so many people, music and colours. They party all day long. What a lovely and exciting experience from merely watching the crowd!

Finally, upon checking out, we took the train to Schipol International Airport. The train arrived and left on time, not a minute more or less. So, remember to check for the time and the right platform. Our flight to New York was in the evening and touched down the same evening, local time. Couldn't wait for another new experience. Big Apple here we come!

To sum it all up, AMS was a wonderful experience, an eye opener, with beautiful weather. People were friendly, the place was rather clean (except for the morning after, after the party). The cleaning vehicle didn't stop sweeping the roads. However, I'm not used to the smell of weeds in the air. It's being sold in every corner. I was told that it's prescribed as medicine to treat some medical condition to help patients be more focused or something. Anyway, then most memorable food experience was the freshly made stroofwafel and the no1. Both son and I enjoyed our stay in AMS, discovering places and food.

Cheers,
Alice N.

Final Year of My 40s

Today marked the balance of 12 months of my life in the forties. Frankly, age has always been just a number and I really mean it and live it as it is. I accept that life has its ups and downs. Nonetheless, I look forward to experimenting more new things in life, facing new challenges and of course, watching my children grow and transform. Exciting, isn't it?

That's what life means to me. To my body, however, as years advancing, I can feel that it isn't as flexible as it was some 20 years back. I'm sure you guys know that too. This doesn't apply to the younger ones, well, not yet. I have to remind myself not to spring out of bed (an old habit), not to run or turn too fast, or I'll pull a muscle or tendon or whatever. That is why I am back to the gym, combined with Pilate sessions which help a lot to keep myself fitter. I love food, therefore I exercise to eat (not a good example, so don't be like me). On a more serious note, I realize that I can't just sit and eat while idling away. People like me who enjoy good food must take great care of ourselves so that the body can serve us well…and to eat some more (hahaha)

To my mind, it seems to get stuck in the time machine where the clock stops some 30 years back…hahaha…I'm always up to monkey mischief and never fail to have fun with my teenagers. I see myself as their mother as well as a loyal and honest friend. I love and cherish the time spent with the children, mine as well as students at the school. The students are like children to me, whilst teachers are friends. I find that I learn a lot about life through their eyes and life experiences, young and the elders alike. They are amazing!

So, what makes this person (me, of course!) tick? Year after year, I learn to know myself deeper and get in touch with my inner self. I learn what I can, can't and won't do. I know what I actually like and dislike. I'm more brave and confident at speaking my mind. I understand that I can't and won't please everyone. I learn to choose who to care deeply for and who to keep at arms length. I know I can make some difference when I put my heart and soul into it. Most importantly is, whatever comes out of a sincere and caring heart, nothing could go very wrong. Decisions I made and actions taken may not please everyone but it usually serves the right recipients and purpose.

Yup, the 24 hours that you have is the same 24 hours I get. I learn to prioritize and be more selective on how I spend my time. You can call me a juggler alright. Not all are perfect. There were times when I ran around like headless chicken (yeah, happened quite a lot). I can't give much to the community that I serve, but time, brain cells and leg works! I find great pleasure in sprinkling some encouraging words when needed, splashing a friendly smile, sharing a simple meal, lending a hand here and there, exchanging ideas, imparting some knowledge…having in mind, everyone has his/her own battle to fight. Everything may look all rosy outside but sometimes it was a just brave front being worn to show the world that despite the gloomy steps ahead, there is still hope. Having said that, it would be wonderful if each of us could be kinder to the next person. We have the ability to choose to be pleasant with people around us despite having a lousy day. Who knows, that simple act may actually lift your spirit!

As much as I wish to, this year I won't be able to spend a quiet day alone doing what I enjoy doing at each Birthday, which happens to be…hanging around a mall, eat and enjoy my food in my own company then spend some time at the bookstore, reading a book while sipping a cup of Long Black then move on to having a bowl of ice-cream before heading home. That is a typical birthday for me. I enjoy the silence and not having any conversation with anyone. I enjoy reading a book, at the cafe, while sipping coffee and eating a slice of cake. I only have myself to please for that few hours. I treasure the calmness and quiet time alone.

This year is different as the first born will be leaving the comfortable and familiar nest to further his studies. We'll be flying in the next 24 hours or so but I have yet to pack or make any preparation for the long journey (except flights and hotels secured). It is my first trip to the States and I pray that it will be a pleasant one for us. Excited and anxious at the same time but I so looking forward to the journey. So, that shall be treated as my birthday celebration.

To all my lovely family and friends, thank you for your wonderful wishes. Your presence and friendship mean a lot to me. Love you all always.

Cheers,
Alice

Seoul-ful Adventure


After so many years of watching K-dramas and dreaming of going to Korea, we finally got the chance to fly in for a 4-day weekend getaway. The AirAsia Premium Flatbed was a comfort for an almost 7-hour flight. Finally, arrived @ Incheon International Airport. Well decorated, systematic and you’d be pleasantly surprised to listen to recorded home-language greeting when you presented your passport at the immigration. 


I was delighted to discover that we could choose to take a limousine bus to our hotel. I’ve always preferred moving around with public transport like the train, bus or simply walking if the distance isn’t too far. Walking around the city is the best! We’ll get to see more by walking and exploring the streets. 


The public limo bus was rather spacious and clean inside. A 50-minute ride from airport to the hotel, and they offered mags to read too! Relieved to see that there was always someone standing by to help load the bags and unload them upon arrival. It stopped right at the hotel. How convenient! 

Checking in was smooth. We were shown to a waiting lounge while waiting for our turn to check-in.

The room at the new wing was spacious. Just nice and cosy for the 3 of us. Simply lovely! The children, as always, would enjoy the bubble bath. Off to Lush for supplies!


Mainly, we explored the streets in Myeongdong, Namdaemun market and Namsan N Tower. All within walking distance. Boy, did we go crazy over the cosmetics shops! Another place to grab for foodstuffs would be the Lotte mart. Lots of snacks and everything was delicious!


The weather was so lovely. Sunny, windy and cold. Temperature was around 15degC to below 10 at night. Windy throughout the day and night. Our noses, ears and hands were freezing. Eyes and lips drying. However on the day of our departure, it showered in the early morning and then cloudy with temperature at 8degC in the afternoon.

I liked the foodcourts here. The whole exercise was : Select your food and pay at the cashier. We’re given the buzzer. Collect the food at the stall and after eating, return the food tray to the respective stall. There’s a drinking water station with sterilized cups and it’s complimentary. The floor attendants would wipe the tables ensuring everyone returned their trays and throw rubbish into the bins provided for. That’s great isn’t it? Wish it’s done the same way in my home country. 

If you can’t speak Korean, there is still chance of “survivorship” here. Mandarin is widely spoken in retail shops, restaurants and by stall operators. If you speak neither languages, like me, then there’s going to be an issue. Fortunately, I had my children with me. They became my translators (Mandarin – English) and in exchange I was their banker (LOL!). 

It was a wonderful weekend well-spent. Not long enough to explore more places in Seoul, but just nice to satisfy my curiosity. I had a fabulous experience, especially the food! Now, back home. Rain greeted us when we landed. Temperature at 20degC. Nice! Next, need to exercise to burn the excess weight….oh noooo! 

Back to work and school/classes for children. Gonna be busier than usual as I’m left with just this month to complete my cases or handover those W.I.P. ones before I leave the firm for good. 

Just before we flew back home, the children said to me, “Mom, no more weekend getaway or flying for a while, ok?”….but my traveling engine has just warmed up! Oh boy!
Cheers,

AliceN.

Retirement?


After working for 28 years, and the last 17 years growing in the financial industry, I’ve finally decided to retire from it. Those who heard about it couldn’t believe that I’m “retiring” from the works…which I’m so passionate about. My chidren till today still continue to ask if I’m really, really, really retiring (LOL!). I guess they are concerned about what I’d do with my time and myself. Never in their growing years have I stopped working. Not even during my confinement – when I worked from home/bed. 

Some colleagues who knew about my past attempts to quit from the firm thought I’d stay again when the shareholders chat with me. I was offered to freelance at the firm on specific (to my expertise) cases too. Nope, not this time. The 4th time is for good. And yes, I do agree that it is such a waste now that my knowledge and skill will not be put to good use to help clients plan for their generational wealth preservation strategies. It’ll be the consultation, advice, mediation and interaction with clients which I’m going to miss the most. 

What’s next? 

1. To complete my long outstanding thesis so that I can finally graduate with my MSc (Finance);

2. Spend more time with my family. Right, time to be more motherly and homely. Learn new recipes, learn to bake, etc;

3. Perhaps, try my hands on some e-biz or something;

4. Actively blogging;

5. PhD in Psychology? I’ve always have interest in social psychology, not the clinical kind;

6. Let Go and Let God. Can’t really plan for everything. 

No worries, guys. I won’t end up being a couch potato nor an ahjummah chasing after the next episode of Korean dramas. My back can’t take sitting on the couch for so long. More time to meet up with friends and have a cuppa or two. 

Focusing more on health too, keeping stress to the minimal. Scheduling a minor surgery for beginning of the year. Having more quality and relaxing lifestyle. I should be cutting down on a lot of “works” and just be as laid back as possible for 2017. Traveling will still remain on my list. 

So, what is retirement to you? Mine is to complete what I can’t when I’m running from one place to another when working….from gainfully employed full-time for the first 11 years of my career to working on contract for the next 17 years. Once those are completed, I’m sure I can find something, which I enjoy doing. Lecturing? Training? We’ll see how it turns out next year. 

Retirement to me doesn’t mean stop everything and sitting in front of the TV or going to spa treatment whole day long or shopping with friends. There’s more to life than just that, I’m sure. I’m still young therefore I shall make full use of my youth and time to do what I’ve always wanted to achieve, for my family and I. I used to answer people that there is no such thing as retirement because life has got so much to offer. Why must we stop moving and growing? Instead, we can choose to move and grow at our own pace and that is retirement. The brain is still active. The body is still young. The mind is matured, experienced and knowledgeable. 

So, with effect from December 2016, I’m unemployed and a “young” retiree (wink). Let’s see how I survive it (LOL!)
Cheers,

Alice N.

My PTA Experience

What is the PTA? Parent Teacher Association. What does it do? An organization of parents and teachers for promoting closer relations and improving educational facilities at the school. Bearing in mind that the PTA does not interfere in the day-to-day administration of the schools. Instead, it serves as support group and a significant partner of the school in providing a forum for discussion of issues and solutions related to the entire school programme. It also undertakes fund-raising activities to support the school’s academic and co-curricular activities.

Why be part of the PTA? Here are some of PTA’s benefits I can personally testify:

  • Leverage Volunteer Power. PTA organises hard-working, dedicated volunteers; Parents who are ready to help implement school improvement programmes. Parents who are willing to spare their time for such activities, when required.
  • See Measurable Results. More than 85 research studies conducted over the past 30 years prove that children do better in school when their parents are involved. Exam scores improve. Attendance increases. Better self-discipline.
  • Discover More Dollars. PTAs are self-funding. PTA fundraisers support school programmes, building improvements and educational events.
  • Enjoy Informed Parents. Involved parents understand the challenges school faces and become part of the solution. By developing a closer relationship with parents, student achievement improves, and the school develops a positive reputation in the community.

Now, I would like to share my personal journey towards the PTA. When my children were in primary school, as much as I wanted to, I did not take part in the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) because of language barrier. I sent them to a vernacular school so that they could master another language (i.e. Mandarin) besides English and Malay.

When my elder child entered secondary school in January 2010, I was excited and keen to contribute towards the PTA. However, as a new parent in the school, not knowing how things work, I felt that I should observe and learn first. That was when I decided to be a “shadow” PTA member. I contributed behind an active PTA committee member, working in anonymity. I allowed myself to be  a sub-committee member in a fund-raising event organised by the PTA. That was my initial involvement and small contribution towards the school PTA from the start….

I worked in anonymity for 4 years before I finally accepted the nomination to be a member of the PTA, fulfilling a promise I made to the then principal. At that time, I had completed all 10 courses of my Masters degree, dissertation pending. To this year, it has been my 3rd year as an official PTA committee member, 7th year actively participating in my children’s school. Not as much as I wanted to but I can confidently say that I have done my best for the school and students. Challenges will always be part of our lives. It is what we choose to do at time of adversity that makes the difference. I am a firm believer of teamwork. As a team, we can achieve much more when we pool our resources together.

Being a member of the PTA has its pre-requisites. Some people thought that you have to be wealthy to qualify; some felt that you must have this much of free time to dedicate yourself; etc. etc. If you think along this line of thought, I’m sorry to say that you are not entirely correct. It is a big bonus to have the money but how much can one person continue to contribute for the entire school? Most importantly is to capitalise on our  network of people and to dedicate the time to do so passionately. The more people involved, the bigger the network is going to be. I am not ashamed to ask for help in any way possible. After all, what we do is for a good cause – for our future leaders, the students.

Volunteering ourselves to serve in the PTA require us to be committed, honest, sincere and responsible. Whatever that we do, we must carry out the tasks with clear conscience. Just as mindful as we are in taking great care of our home and family, we would extend the same, if not more to our bigger “home and family” i.e. the school and students. We shall protect students’ and teachers’ welfare as well as we would do the same for our own family.

I personally believe and live by this : I shall not settle for anything lesser than my best. Be passionate in whatever that I do. Despite my heavy work and social schedule, I shall make time for it as best as I can. If I can’t give my best, I shall without second thought, step down and let another take over the seat. I will not selfishly hold on to my position for the sake of holding on. I am sure there are always others out there who can do a better job than me. This is not a glamorous job, but I shall call it “labour of love”.

Dear parents, if you are concerned about the well-being of your children in school and in their education (academic as well as co-curriculum), be active in the PTA. If you have ideas to improve the condition of the school for your beloved children, don’t be satisfied with mere exchange of criticism outside the fences of the school. Step forward to volunteer your services.

Not to worry about being a newbie. Everyone is still learning. So am I. I was “born and bred” in the corporate world throughout my working life. My way of doing things is, cut the red tapes and tackle the issue at source in the shortest time possible. Look for solutions when faced with problems. Regardless of where you come from, we will always find ways to work together harmoniously. It is made possible because we share common objectives and focus on working towards achieving that common goals.

I shall hope to see more volunteers stepping forward to serve in the PTA. The success of the school is very much depended on the PTA. When school administrators work well with the parents, together we can achieve much more and reach greater heights. After all, the ultimate purpose is to provide a more conducive learning environment for our children.

I am most grateful to be given the chance to work with so many wonderful people, teachers and parents alike, who work so hard to ensure the interests of our stakeholders are protected. It has become a lovely big family to me, so much I had seen and experienced, the ups and downs we went through together. Hats off to those who have served the school in the PTA and the ones continue to do so. Great job, everyone! Keep it up!

Cheers,

Alice N.

Friends

   

We all have friends. Young and old; friends from the school, work and social environment. Some friends, we have known since we were little. Some are rather new, met personally and through social networking.

I still remember when I was very young, aged between 7 to 12, friendship was formed instantly and naturally. Almost everyone I met was a friend. Life was simpler in the eyes of a young child, isn’t it? 

I had the same circle of friends till I was 13. The following year, I moved back to my home state. Starting afresh at a new school and town without a friend was rather scary. I was the new kid on the block with different accent (lol). Fortunately, my differences created curiosity in others and I made new friends quickly. Sadly, I lost the old ones sooner than I thought. 

You see, back in the late 70s to early 80s, we didn’t have any other way to communicate with one another except via snail mail or home telephone. Land line calls were rather costly for inter-states. Gradually, we lost touch permanently. It was like a part of my past had been erased. Wish I could re-connect with some of my old friends from the Father Barres Convent secondary school in Sungei Petani, Kedah. 

As we get older, friendship can become a little more complicated. People have the tendency to become more selfish, possessive, suspicious, envious, prejudiced and selective one way or the other.  We are divided by our thoughts and perceptions, which resulted in  building more walls than bridges. Regretfully, there are friends who build friendship based on benefits only. 

I’d rather keep to myself when things get too messy. I enjoy being alone as much as being with friends. Recent years, I’ve made some  new wonderful friends but sadly, I have also lost some used-to-be-wonderful friends. Change is inevitable. Just like a moving train, some got off halfway, some get on board along the way. Funny how some friendships created through the Internet are closer than those built from around us. From mere acquaintance, we become closer with the few whom we share common interests and meet more often. 

Everything in life requires putting in effort to make it work, including friendship. In our busy lifestyle, if we care about our friendship, we need to make time for it. Either meet to catch up sometimes or drop a line or two would be just as nice. Don’t seek out friends only when we are in trouble. We should be there rain or shine, sharing not just tears but laughter too!

One word of caution though. Be careful who you make friends with on the Internet chat rooms, Facebook, Instagram or whichever network. Being conservative is wise. Being paranoid about safety is life-saving. Let your family members know about your “internet friends”, just as you would tell them about your friends around you. For initial meetings, meet at public places during the day, in a group. It is better to have someone accompanying you for these meetings. Let your family members know who you are meeting, where and what are their contact details. 

To this date and age, I have become even more selective with friends. Yes, I agree that living in this world, we need friends besides our families. How many friends is enough? I’d rather choose true but few friends over being in a big crowd. There are times when being alone is more enjoyable and beneficial to me, especially when I require peace and quiet to get in touch with my inner self.

Everyone has faults, so do I. No one is ever a perfect person. I may be a great friend to one but a lousy friend to another. Depends on how the person perceive me as. My definition of a true friend is someone who sees beyond our faults, still try to understand us and want to spend time with us; someone who will not be swayed by how others feel about us; someone who tells the truth even if it is not so pleasant; someone who will defend us in your absence; someone who will find time to keep in touch……. A true friend is indeed a rarest gem in the world.

Some friends we keep close to our hearts, some we shall remain polite with. When we have true friends, do not take the friendship for granted. Do not allow others to destroy it so easily when it takes such a long time to build the foundation of your friendship. 

  

My Dearest Friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me the meaning of true friendship. Thank you for being there for me, sharing my frustrations and laughter. Thank you for your warm thoughts. Thank you for the lovely gifts. Most of all, thank you for asking me sometimes, “Are you alright?”. The three most beautiful words I’ve ever heard from wonderful friends, who are the rare gems. Thank you and I love you all.

Cheers,

~ Alice N.

 

Saying Farewell to 2015, Greetings to 2016!

2015 has been a year filled with long, emotional roller coaster ride for me. Lessons learnt about friendship, studies, work and other personal duties which have casted clouds of doubts to my usual confident and calm self. Too many distractions and diversions for a systematic person like me, will turn my world topsy-turvy (LOL!).

I have always treasured friendship with friends, existing and anew. I greatly appreciate sincerity and honesty in a friend, but loathe politics of all sorts. Loving to share generously what I know, since I’d been there and done that. We all know how it feels like to be ignorant and sometimes helpless or hopeless. Hopefully it will help ease the burden of another person. 

But, I have learnt the painful way that sharing has its faults. Same goes to being generous, kind, optimistic and happy. I have also learnt that if I don’t follow the lead of someone, however wrong it may seem, I’m an outcast or I’m classified as rebellious. I also saw how envy and jealousy can destroy a beautiful friendship. Exactly what we see faced by our kids do happen in adult friendship too; as childish as “camps” and “grouping” and passing snide remarks like passing flu virus. If the so-called “leader” dislikes something about you, the rest of the “clan” will boycott you or be critical of you or subtly avoiding you. 

I always thought as an adult, being wiser, we should be able to weigh our thoughts and consider our actions, independently. We know how to advise our children or others to follow their hearts and intuition, but sometimes we forgot to take our own advice. Sad…

Something new this year is that I’ve learnt from kind souls on how to cook healthier foods for my family, more about fashion, gardening and other self-enrichment skills. Thanks to them with ❤️.

Moving on to 2016, I shall choose to be more selective with people around me, words spoken and actions made. I shall give permission to myself to be selfish sometimes, to do what is right for me and my family and not pleasing others too much. 

The year 2015 has gone to waste in terms of my attempt on completing the thesis for my Masters program. Time is just isn’t enough and I humbly admit that I got distracted with other urgent matters of greater importance. Entering 2016, I have to sit myself like a good student, be more focused and force myself to complete as little or as much as possible day by day till I submit my journal to my Prof. I shall look forward to graduating in 2016. It has to happen!!!!

Work-wise, uncertainty of some sort. Regretably, once a great passion to me has now dwindled to mere interest, in the midst of negotiating my new contract with the firm. I may be very giving but business is still business. Though it is great passion to me, I should be appropriately compensated for my time and effort. For those who had worked with me in the past, they know that I set high expectation upon my deliverables. I pour my heart and soul into it. I was once advised, “If you can’t do your best, might as well don’t do it!”. I shall carry it with me till my last breath. 

In 2016, I shall only reward my loyalty in return of appreciation for my contribution. I trust that I have given my very best ever so freely all these years that my conscience is clear.

Life is short and fragile. A new year has come, giving us an opportunity to start afresh on a new page. I also feel that it is time to introduce writing resolutions to my teenage children. Some of you will think that it is a waste of time and adding unnecessary pressure. Me too but I feel that this time, it is going to be different and more fun to do it together with them. Hopefully, we could cross-motivate and monitor one another throughout the year!  I’m all excited to greet the new year…!

In 2016, I’ll resume blogging more often and journaling. I’ve stopped writing journals for quite some time but now I feel it is good to start again. You should try doing so too, if you have not already done so. It is therapeutic! Makes one wiser too.

New Year Eve dinner with my beloved family is starting soon. Let me wish you a very happy new year 2016,  may your wishes materialize, may your health be better, may your family be showered with love and happiness and finally, many 2016 be a prosperous new year, better and bigger than the last. Have a blast ushering in the new year!

Cheers!

~ Alice N.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

  To all mothers in the world, Happy Mother’s Day to you. Specially dedicated to my Mom, Godmom, sisters-in-law, relatives and friends. 

  This was sent by my son first thing in the morning on my Facebook timeline, knowing I love fast cars but with quiet engines. Don’t think I fancy  “announcing” my arrivals as I prefer to arrive quietly…he knows me so well! Love you, son. Also to my sweet daughter for her heart-warming Mother’s Day message. Not forgetting my darling hubby for being supportive of my causes and much more. That means a lot to me. We make one great team! I feel so blessed…

I didn’t know anything about being mothers before I became one. As teenagers, almost all of us found our moms to be naggy, the one who always stood in between us and what we wanted. Their favorite word, (amazing how all mothers were alike in this) was “NO!”. Most of the time our favourite things got confiscated. We believed that moms have another pair of eyes behind their heads; and that they put us under secret surveillance because they knew things even though they weren’t there! These are from a teenager’s point of view, at least in my mind when I was a teenager.

When I first became a mom, with the arrival of my firstborn some 17.5 years ago, I learned what it actually meant to carry the title “MOM”. Boy, if you take it lightly, you’re going to feel the weight of unspoken fear and self-doubts when something knocks you off your feet and fall into a bottomless pit. You’ll know what “Helpless” and “Hopeless” really really mean. If you think life is tough, try being a MOM. I guess MOMs are the ones who say prayers the most, not for themselves but for the well-being of their children, especially.  How true the statement goes. I didn’t know what I could do and how much I had to deal with until I stepped into the shoes of being a mother. No parenting or motherhood books could prepare you for the role. There is not one operation manual or standard operating procedure (SOP) guide book or advice from good meaning fellow mothers that could make you fully prepared to face the days of motherhood. It is a hands-on experienced only.

There may be some similarities but each baby or child is unique in his/her own way. Having my two beautiful children testified and endorsed that. Both children have some similar habits and behavior but that do not mean one method works for both. There are many trials and errors…after almost 18 years, I am still on this learning journey. It’s a long haul, lifelong commitment. There is no particular way and certainly not enough time to perfect being a mother because the landscape keeps changing as the children grow older. 

I thought as they grow, I would become closer to being an expert in motherhood but was I wrong! I’m still learning like an intern in each phase of motherhood. Now both are at teen age. I found that boy teenager and girl teenager are different in many ways. Cross referencing doesn’t quite work. It is like a totally new chapter altogether, not even a sub-topic! Life is filled with surprises, isn’t it? I guess that is the secret of looking younger than your age (LOL!)

Having said that, amidst the challenges, I am also blessed to go through life seeing my babies grow up. They have enriched my life, makes me grow as well. Besides being responsible for myself and my wonderful husband, I have to be mindful too for the sake of my children. How I act, speak and do things will reflect on them. Children see and model us one way or another, if not now, later in age. Don’t forget that. 

So, parents… don’t use this line, “you can’t/don’t do it” when you yourselves are doing it. If you feel you can do it due to whatever valid reasons, please explain to make them understand why they can’t. Failing to do so will make them confused, which turns it into curiosity to try it out. Then, they might do it behind your back. We have to practise some degree of transparency and democracy with children of today. They are getting smarter and they understand better than we did when we were their age. Educate them properly. Expose them to some freedom while they are still under our wings so to give us chance to guide them when the need arises. Be not afraid to explore new territories with your children or to speak to them at the same level as you. In turn, you’ll discover that they will respect you more.  We must recognize that we all learn through mistakes and lessons and so do they.

I can’t help but to feel proud of myself that I have come this far whenever I look into the faces of my children. I continuously share our family values with them and hope that they will live through it and then, spread it to their own families and so forth. 

Finally, Mothers, go out and celebrate being a MOM and enjoy motherhood, lock stock and barrel (LOL!). Happy Mother’s Day to all! 
Cheers,

~ Alice N.