Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year-End Turkey Dinner

It is the end of the year... time for New Year's resolutions and also for our family, a chance to continue the tradition we started since we arrived in Vancouver two years ago... to have a get together with our Malaysian friends.

Today we invited the families to our Turkey dinner instead of our usual undergrad crowd. We had En Aliman's family (from the Consulate General of Malaysia office), Fong Yen and hubby (she's doing her Master in UBC under UKM scholarship and coincidentally is in the same department as one of Mommy's auntie, Cik Ton... what a small world eh?), and, of course, Hayani and family... Since the number of people was small (plus no hungry teenage boys as usual), our menu was rather modest - one herb-roasted turkey, baked eggplant, potato-egg salad, grilled asparagus, and chocolate chip pound cake.

Ready for Guests

En Aliman and wife, Kak Ros, have 3 daughters - Amirah, Haifa, and Fatihah. Amirah is one year older than Melur, Haifa is born in January 2004 (slightly less than 2 months younger than Arman), and Fatihah is still a baby... Mommy and Papa were hoping that Melur and Arman would be practising their Malay language with Amirah and Haifa... But unfortunately, it was English all the way for the four kids. They seemed to be having so much fun playing together... and running around the house... upstairs and downstairs... upstairs and downstairs...

Kids Playing

It was also very funny since we used to make fun of Arman and Haifa playing together... But when En Aliman and family left, Arman said he doesn't want to play with Haifa anymore since she's still in pre-school while he is already in kindergarten...Basically, he is now too old for Haifa... right Arman...

All Done

All in all, I think we all had a great time... Hope to do this again at the end of 2009!

** For more pictures, check out this Facebook Album.

Note from Mommy: Most of the recipes are available online at The pound cake is originally called "Nana's chocolate chip brandy pound cake" but Mommy substituted the brandy with orange extract... the result is amazing!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Puzzles and Skype

Melur really loves puzzles, jigsaws to be exact. We got Melur and Arman each a jigsaw puzzle, and Melur solved them both overnight. And now she’s asking us to get her more complicated puzzles, with more pieces. Check out her proud achievement.

On this morning also, we were on Skype with Auntie Yaya. She’s watching from Bath via our laptop. How cool is that? I wish I had this technology back when I was in college.

It’s the weekend, and after all that shopping, we can take a little breather. Tomorrow, we’re having some guests over for Turkey. That should be fun…

Keep it up, Melur!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day 2008

It’s that time of year, when we go CRAZY shopping the day after Christmas. It’s BOXING DAY!!! And it snowed like CRAZY today too… really – Blizzard Crazy. We got a baby-sitter for Melur and Arman for the day, and made our way to Metrotown via zip car. And it took Mommy and Daddy almost an hour to get there (usually its about 30 minutes). Okay, so no pictures from our shopping trip, but we came back with plenty to share with the family.

What do you guys think? Not bad for a days worth of shopping (well okay, budget shopping).

Well… after we got home, we thought we’d take the kids out for a little bit. With all the snow we’ve been getting these past weeks, Daddy needs some new boots. And Arman needs some new shoes for school too. We made our way to the Shoe Warehouse, which was apparently quite packed with people. In this weather, everybody’s looking for snow boots.

The store closed at 6 pm, and we were barely able to get shoes for Arman before it closed (I picked mine out pretty quickly). After that, we made our way to McDonald’s for some food (we were too tired to cook).

Happy Boxing Day Everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

And the snow just won’t go away…

It’s Christmas Day. No biggie… We have nothing planned today, just another restful day at home… hopefully. We started the morning with Mommy preparing some cookies in the kitchen. Arman joined in the fun:

The cookies turned our DELICIOUS. Thank you Mommy.

Later in the evening, Mommy suggested we go for a walk outside (yeah, there’s a lot of snow out there, but what else can we do?). So we put on our jackets and shoes, and headed out toward the University Village.

Of course, everything was closed, but it was actually a nice night outside. The snow was still quite fresh (not yet brown and slushy). Might as well make the most of it.

If you guys are wondering, “is this normal Vancouver weather”? I have to say “no”, especially not in December. It’s usually rain, rain and more rain. I wonder how much snow is in store for us the rest of this season.

To all who celebrate it, Merry Christmas to you! And to everybody else, Happy Holidays!

Enjoy the snow!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dinner By a King

I came home from work this afternoon to this...

It's been continuing to snow and snow and snow. And the snow is really powdery – not that nasty brown stuff (which we'll probably get in a few days when the snow starts to melt). I took this opportunity to take a video from our living room. The kids look bored with the snow. I guess they've had enough.

So yeah... it's Christmas Eve. We don't celebrate Christmas, but I got home early today. Arman helped me prepare dinner. And when Arman starts cooking, he gets creative. When dinner was ready, Arman got started on preparing a menu. It was a feast by a king (not for a king, pardon the pun), since you see Arman wearing his home-made Kings crown again.

And once everything was ready, it was time for the festivities to start. Check out the video:

Thanks Arman, for helping out with dinner. You certainly make our evenings interesting. Anybody interested in dinner by a king?

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Snow

We've been experiencing some pretty heavy snow in Vancouver for the past few days. Today is not an exception. However, Melur and Arman are making the best of the situation... actually, they seem to be having loads of fun playing outside with friends.

About a year ago Mommy found a sled left in the community laundry room*. Mommy thought it would be a good idea to take it since the kids could use it during winter. It has been in the store room for months (maybe slightly more than a year really). Finally today... the sled gets to see the light of day... Melur and Arman took it out for a short play in the backyard. Yan-Lin, who is Melur's best friend from school, also joined in... They seem to be having a blast making snowballs. Mommy took pictures of them together. Don't they look adorable among the white snow?

* Since Acadia Park is a family housing area, people living here come and go. We often find things in the community laundry room and you can just pick them up if you like. The kids love to go to the laundry room... because sometimes they get to pick something small from there.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Day of Winter?

Well, technically, today IS the first day of winter, but obviously not the first day of snow. We had our first taste of snow this season a week ago. And it's snowing again... How cool is that? What a way to spend our Sunday.

The kids couldn't wait to go out and play. We made them wear their ski pants. Arman started playing with some other boys on the block. Mommy took some videos which you will see a little later. Melur on the other hand followed me around Acadia Park to check out the fresh snow. Here are some pictures and a video:

Melur and I found a sled, and I pulled Melur around in it. You see her here playing with some icicles I found dangling from our roof. We also found some interesting forts (made from snow), featuring the Canucks - Vancouver's own NFL Hockey team.

Happy Snow Day everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting into Kumon

It's Saturday, and it's been a week since we saw our first snow fall in Vancouver this year. We started out the morning with Arman vacuuming the living room. He kinda likes vacuuming, more so than his sister. Here you see him wearing his home-made kings crown, which he learned to make in Kinderclub.

Mommy and Daddy decided earlier this week, that we would supplement our kids' education with Kumon. Kumon is quite popular in Malaysia, and apparently so too in Vancouver. There are several locations in Vancouver where Kumon is taught, but we opted for the one near Broadway and Ash. It's a bit far, but worth it for the kids.

We arrived on time, about 30 minutes before closing time. In that time, both Melur and Arman took an assessment test. Melur took a really long time, but it turns out, she didn't read through the instructions (or at least nobody told her what to do), and she ended up doing a lot of extra work. I think it was pretty good of Melur, but I guess there was still some disconnect.

By the time we meet with the instructor to talk about Melur and Arman's assessment, the center was closed, and everyone had left. It was just us and the instructor to discuss things. Here you see Melur and Arman fooling around in the center while Mommy talks to the instructor.

We were there a pretty long time discussing Melur and Arman. The both of them are apparently pretty good at Math. Melur got all her answers right. And due to our tight budget, we decided to enroll both Melur and Arman in the Reading portion of Kumon. We'll sign them up for Math later, when we have a little more cash. In the meantime, we'll continue to supplement their math at home (you go Mommy!). I couldn't believe we were there for over 2 hours. We headed home right after...

Okay, so we stopped by Blenz on the way home – Mommy's favorite place. And THEN we headed home. Hopefully, the Kumon will do them good. We wish only the best for Melur and Arman.

Blenz - Mommy's Favorite Canadian Cafe

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Curious about Prayers

Arman has been rather curious about prayers these past few days. And so I thought it'd be good to get him started. We've prayed together a couple of times now, and he knows to just follow his dad. Here's a picture of him praying with his Daddy.

Arman also loves this new Science Book he got for his birthday. It's a book about the human anatomy, with descriptions of the various human systems and organs. Arman's always so curious, and is able to retain many of the things we teach him. I suspect I'll be reading from this book at bed time for many days to come. So far, it's been one system a night, and we're already starting to repeat systems.

Not to forget Melur, she just has to be part of the spotlight as well. Here she is doing a yoga pose from a book Mommy has been reading. I don't think Melur is particularly interested in Yoga, but she is quite flexible and athletic, in my humble opinion. Keep it going, Melur!

Do they look the same?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Snow and Ice Skating

We woke up this morning to this…

What do you say to that? When people ask me about Vancouver weather in the winter, I always say it’s mostly rainy, with maybe 2-3 days of snow for the entire season with barely any accumulation (maybe 1-2 inches). And really, that’s what I’ve heard, and it hasn’t been that far off. But today’s first day of snow really threw people off. And it’s not officially the winter yet.

We were planning to let the kids use their scooters to the ice rink today, but not with this snow. Instead, I got the kids to put on their snow clothing (water-proof snow pants in particular) and enjoy their first day of snow this winter. They were pretty excited to head out.

As you can see from the video, they didn’t spend very much time outside. Arman has better winter clothing than Melur, so Melur was in first. I think she needs better shoes, and maybe better gloves that are waterproof. What she has now is okay for cold weather, but definitely not suitable for snow fights and making snowmen.

Before heading out to the UBC Ice Skating Rink (which we’ve never been to before. We usually go to the Kitsilano Ice Rink), we had some baked breaded fish fillets for lunch. Not all that great, but does the job. We walked to ice rink through the thick snow. The ice rink is just behind the bus stop we’d usually take to Oakridge Mall.

When we arrived, we quickly rented our gear, and made our way to the rink. There are actually several rinks, 3 in total I think. We saw one was being used for hockey practice. Oh, admission and rentals for the 4 of us was CAD $20. Not sure if that’s cheap or pricey. It’s been so long since we last skated, I think it’s been over a year, maybe 2. But this rink is so much closer, and it doesn’t require a bus ride.

This facility also provides better training equipment than Kitsilano. We were expecting little orange cones for Arman, but instead he got to use a metal frame thingy he can use to support his weight while on the ice. He was extremely excited to be able to skate for the first time. I remember his last attempt to skate at Kitsilano wasn’t so rewarding.

I tried to get Mommy to skate with us, but she gave up. I guess it’s just not her thing. She’ll come along for more trips to the rink, but will most likely just watch from the sidelines. Melur as you might have guessed is already quite the expert on the ice. Sorry, I wasn’t able to take many pictures or videos. Arman likes to play with the camera while I’m not around, and by the time I started taking pictures and videos here at the rink, the battery was running out.

Well, this was our day at the rink, and also the first day of snow this December in 2008. After the ice-skating, we made our way one block east to the zip car to do some grocery shopping. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go ice-skating again soon.

Family Skate

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Aidil Adha Reception

It’s Saturday, and we have an Aidil Adha reception to attend, hosted by the Consulate General of Malaysia at Vancouver. Daddy had an IELTS exam to take this morning, so I’ll have to meet Mommy and gang at the reception after my test is over.

My exam finished at around 1:45 pm (it started at 8:30 am). I hurried down from SFU Harbour Centre to the Ukrainian Hall (where we had the MABC Deeparaya festivities). The reception is from 12 pm to 2 pm. I know, the event will be over by the time I get there, but I should be able to say hi to the hosts, and show that I didn’t completely forget their event.

Mommy and the kids arrived late too. It’s always hard to move the kids in the morning. They were so late that Mommy decided to take a cab there (which was really, really expensive, to us anyway – not recommended unless you have the cash). They arrived just before I did.

When I arrived, Mommy was already mingling with a few guests. Some kids from some of the families were still there. And the kids immediately started playing with them. They ran around the stage like they normally do, kind of like at the CG Eid Reception.

Anyway, we didn’t stay long, since people were already leaving. It was a short stay, and we headed home. When we got home, the kids had a chance to try out their new scooter. And Arman tried his new remote control car he got from Nenek for his birthday.

Tomorrow, we’re planning to go ice-skating before taking a short trip via Zip Car to the halal store for some supplies