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Tess Stimson

Just for the record, I had a good fortune of landing myself with these books at the library:


The Cradle Snatcher
The Infidelity Chain


I like the way this author writes. Each chapter is from a different character's perspective so we got to know what the other person was thinking.. ok it's still fictional.. but I like it very much.


The other thing that I also liked is that one character from the previous book will always appear in the next, forming some kind of spider web. Like imagining how somebody's life is some tangled into others.


This post is so that I won't forget to keep looking for her books at the library.




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One week on...

...And I still feel spooked.

The first night after the encounter was terrible! I couldn't get any sleep cause I was scared of a recurrence.

I had Dad do the Azan and pray in my room. and he played the Qur'an CD in the living room on continuous playback.

Even then, in my head, I couldn't help replaying Tufeil screaming and saying "Shark (tawa)" over and over again. So much so that I had to sleep with the yellow (flourescent?) light on and the doors open. I told mum not to close her doors either. I even went the additional step of smsing Ash not to close our doors when she come home.

To make it worse still, I had my first day of period too. Great this is just great!

Incidentally, or as a result of the "visit", my computer broke down. There was a Fan Error and it refused to boot up. So I had nothing to accompany me before I sleep save for a book. But I made sure that I closed my book and eyes BEFORE midnight.

Still... I was on guard the whole night... Kept repeating (in my heart) all the Surahs I know, and kept asking Allah Al-Hafiz to protect us from Evil.

I was dreading the time when T wakes up for milk. I really really really hoped he won't see anything again. Thank god he didn't. He woke up at probably 2 and 4am. By which time, I gave up the idea of sleep. More because my bladder was gonna BURST but I didn't dare to go to the loo and leave T alone in the room.

The time just dragged on and on and on... Felt like I had read a ton of pages from my book but only 15min had past. close to 2hours later at 6am did I brave myself to venture outside as I was sure Dad was already up.

Running on just 3hours of intermittent sleep, I went to work.

We slept with the doors open again for the next 3 days. Monday, I started to close it to avoid any kinds of indecent exposure. But I still had the flourescent light (as oppose to the barely visible rainbow lights) on.

It was only last night (Thurs) that I really couldnt take the bright light anymore and turned on the C (rainbow) mode. As it happened, Tufeil was having a giggling fit (He seems to find it funny when I drag him back to me before he reaches the stand fan) and was not anywhere near DreamLand yet.

And then, T's face suddenly changed. I did hear something behind me too. Oh God Oh God I don't wanna turn around but I forced myself too and SHRIEKED my heart out! I saw a BIG CURLY SHADOW that was my own mom!!! Lord she really gave me a heart attack!!!

I don't know how much longer I'm gonna continue feeling fearful. It sucks. I hate sleeping in bright lights but I can't without it.

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Hear Year

I would have tweeted about it if I had only brought my hp along today.

I've been having an earache since Monday. It was sooo painful I ditched the idea of staying back late in the office. Luckily, I had some ear drops from the last time. The next day, the pain was gone.

However, the next 3 days, my ears just didn't pop back when it got blocked riding down the lift.

By this morning, Thursday the 4th day, I'm getting paranoid. (I secretly think i'm a hypochondriac. Not that I'm a health freak or even health conscious, but my imagination always become active at the slightest ill symptom.)

What if I lost my hearing totally because I went to the doctor too late? I didn't wanna go initially because I just saw her last week and I dont wanna make myself look bad like always falling sick or something... but I think this cannot be ignored anymore!! I mean it was really very scary when I couldn't hear the beep sound signalling the door's been opened. I had to rely on my sight.

The doc explained that my ear drum is inflamed. Possibly from the result of the high fever but no fever today at 36.8 Celcius. When the drum is inflamed, it gets thick and so noise doesnt bounce off making everything sound so muffled. Hell Yeah! And then because its thick and rigid, it is not able to bend from a sudden change of air pressure - that's the lift explained.

So I was prescribed anti-inflammation meds which is exactly the same for the throat. And also something to clear the blockage which is also applicable for nose.

I feel very conscious that I might be talking too loud because I can't hear myself talking!

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Tufeil in Pictures - January 2011

Just a few things of what we've been up to:

@ the library.

Like FINALLY Tufeil is interested to touch the interesting textures of touch & feel book. He looked confused when I told him that's straw... cos we use straw to DRINK. ENGLISH and their many meanings!

At least he doesn't throw books around very much now. He loves to interact with other kids, even big kids, and straddle the bench as if riding a horse.

His favourite pasttime at home is also...

to purposely send his various toy vehicles under the bed

So they could have joy in trying to retrieve it back.

Saturday, 15th January 2010.


I had a date with Ma to go and see the new baby Girl in our 11 BFFs group. She lives all the way on the other side of city. My parents were engaged in another appointment so I had to travel there all by myself. So i resolved myself to take the train. I can't take the bus cause I would be bringing the stroller. NO, I can't NOT bring it. Don't wanna carry him if he falls asleep or tired or simply refuses to walk!


So I travelled to Bishan, exchanged at Circle Line to Paya Lebar, then alighted at Tampines. Although I had to change trains twice, its easily 25min FASTER than going down via City Hall.


The first part of the journey was a nightmare! I almost wanted to give up and just take the cab. It was already 11am and he had been awake since 8.30am = NAPTIME! So he was demanding for his milk but I said he cldnt (MALU). He still didn't quite understand that. So I told him instead OK wait till we arrive at Bishan.


At Bishan Circle Line station, there was a corner and I sat down to nurse T. A male officer did walk past to see what we were up to but I was decent, so whatevs! Thankfully T said he's had enough just in time with the train's arrival. I gave him his lunch of Chocolate bread (Roti Nutella), always does the trick. And the rest of the ride was a breeze, Alhamdulillah.


Met Ma at Century Square and took the cab to Yaya's place.

3 boys trying to play together.

It's the first time T actually managed to build with blocks.


It defly is funny when you want them to mingle w friends they won't, but will get curious with complete strangers!


We went for lunch at nearby McDonalds.. it was already 3.30pm by the time we reached Tampines Mall and T still hadn't had his nap!! I was trying to find a good toilet (had to travel to Tampines 1) to change his soiled diaper and by the time I reached there, he already slept. Had to wake him so I had to walk around again back to Tampines Mall and rounded Century Square (macam sa'i) till he fell back to sleep THEN the shopping BEGAN!


I was elated to find BLOOM vanilla smelling lipgloss at SHINS! I've been trying to find this for 6-7 years cause Sasa doesnt carry that brand anymore.


Then felt guilty and bought some new crayons for T at Toys R us.


only THEN did i recall that I actually have $150 CapitaMall vouchers and Tampines Mall is one of them! DAMN! I Soooooo hafta return to Tampines Mall cos I NEED MY M.A.C. powder!!


My parents came just as T woke up and we went home.... Such a blissful saturday...

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Cheese Borak + Meat Filling

Firstly I'd like to thank Syrian Foodie for the recipe.

I had loved the Cheese puff I had in Damascus so much I googled around to find the actual name and stumbled upon the link above. Since it was equipped with a recipe and the ingredients looked simple enough, I thought, "Why not give it a go?"

The Pastry:
Flour 2 cups
Boiling water 3/4 cup
Vegetable oil 1/4 cup
Salt 1 tsp

For the filling:
Arabic White cheese (eg: Nabulsi) 200g
Chopped Parsley 30g
Sesame seeds (optional)
Black sesame seeds (optional)
Black pepper

Please see the rest of the instruction at the original website.

Of course there isn't any Arabic cheese to be found. So I had to use the alternative he'd given: equal amounts of Mozarella and Feta cheese.

And yes, just like he said, the dough was very easy to mix....

and because of the oil, it doesn't stick to the rolling pin - much. But I was soooo painstakingly slow at rolling them, it got a bit dry and started to stick.


Nope, I didn't have a pizza cutter either.

Trying to distract / entertain Tufeil with a stray piece of dough


He sampled the Raw dough... and didn't like it.

I had thought he'd like to "play" with it like all the other kids are messing around with home made play dough... to no avail. I knew he would try to EAT it and of course it doesnt taste very nice! hahaha

My Cheese filling


I realise I didnt have chopped parsley and replaced with chopped basil. I hope they are the same! hahaha

In the meantime, T also wanted to pot around in the kitchen.

Finally! My very own pre-fried Borak~!


The result, after 1.5hour on my feet!


Mostly i rolled and folded the pastry 3 times, like is suggested. But I find that The skin is too thick... I couldn't roll thin enough to make it crispier =( But this is TOTALLY MY FIRST TIME playing with any kind of PASTRY!


It didnt come out as salty and tantalizing as the original one I had in Syria. I totally blame the cheese. I WANT THAT ARABIC CHEESE!!!! Where to find???


Since we have a wrongly bought minced Mutton in the fridge, I decided to make use of it. There is actually another recipe called Meat Borak, so that kinda gave me the idea. It got nuts and everything which I don't eat so...

I stir fried the mutton with onion, cumin seeds and salt and pepper.


I realise now I missed out garlic!! haha


And started making ALL of them MEAT borak. instead of just cheese. I had to make another batch of the pastry (the next day) to finish using the filling. Proves how bad my rolling skill is, really!


I suppose it's nice to eat... If a bit sour (Could the cheese have gone bad cause i left it so long outside like 2hours and mixed with the hot mutton?) and very MUAK (er... dull taste?). HAD to eat with chilli sauce. hahahaha


Kak Ly also said it reminded her of Turkish Samsun Pide, except the dough is more like bread in the latter, of course.

All in all, it was exciting to cook something new But I don't see myself making it anytime soon as it took wayyyy too much time and T doesn't really take to it. Perhaps I should have added mushroom to tempt him. hahaha

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Dec Holiday - Day Ten

Fri, 24th Dec 2010

We woke up extremely late!! we had a lil under an hour to get ready and eat BF! AIYOOO!!!


The Spread
Although the dining room is very elegant, I was disappointed not to see any sausages. hahaha


But they have high chair! This is a first throughout the entire trip!
No meat =( but CocoPops my FAVOURITE!!




Daylight!

Hotel Entrance. See my shadow haha


We can SEE the airport but its about 5-10min drive away.

It wasn't cold at all the night we reached there. In the morning it was slightly crispy but nothing like Amman or Damascus.

I was a bit nervous at the prospect of an 8hour flight. But Alhamdulillah we had 3 seats together by the window and not the front row. Plane food was great, we ate Mum's as usual. Tufeil was entertained by Cars the movie, he slept twice for 2 hours each. I wanted to watch something as well while T was asleep, but couldn't stay interested in any of the listed movies!! I started to watch The Killers (Ashton Kutcher) but I kept nodding off I gave him after an hour. What a shame! What a shame!!

Nonetheless, I'm very grateful that T was very well behaved in the plane. It helped that we had Hannah sitting in front of us and Banana in the fruit trolley.

Reached Singapore 9pm. Syifaa' and family came to pick us up. We had dinner at Burger King first as we were famished. Thank God all 3 luggages managed to fit into the trunk. Just before moving off, discovered T pooped and got some stains! LOL the last time we came back from Perth, his pee overflowed all over my clothes! So me and Mum went to wash and change him. It was very difficult with no jet spray in the cubicle, we had to wash him in the sink. Made us quickly realise how much better the toilet experience the past 10 days had been.

Felt great to be home! But browsing through the photos, and writing the blog entries made me feel wistfully sentimental. Although most of the time there, I was super tired of the travelling in the bus for hours and scared of the next surprise coming, fearful of T's tantrum / comfort level, and generally being out of my comfort zone, in restrospect, it was a truly nice experience seeing NEW places and getting to know NEW people. Truly a Breath of FRESH air.

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Dec Holiday - Day Nine

Thurs, 23rd Dec 2010.

We were told the night before that there was some confusion in the itinerary. The group that came from Singapore (others were direct from Haj) had an overnight connecting flight from Dubai back to Singapore. This is an oversight from the agency and so... they rewarded us with a night's stay at Holiday Inn Express DUBAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were reminded to pack a sleepwear and the next day's clothes in our hand carries as the other checked-in luggages will NOT be with us in DUBAI!

I WAS LIKE JUMPING FOR JOY!!! A blessing in disguise. What a damn shame that he told us VERY LATE in the Day!!! we could have made arrangements to see friends and/or relatives or even to extend on more day there since it's the weekend and go sightseeing or something!

ANYWAYs, we had to leave our luggages outside our rooms at 7am for the porter to bring them down! And BF was to start at 8am, leave at 9am. That made no sense. If Bfast was to start at 8am, I would only shower at 7am then how to pack my dirty laundry?? GRRR In the end, we did manage to wake up 6.30am and was down for bfast at 7.30am. BTW, Ayah did not come with us as he had some tummy problem! Oopsie. Fortunately, its already at the tail end of the vacation and someone brought along the charcoal pills.

As our flight wasn't until 3pm, we had 1.5hr to kill at the bazaar! Mummy and I carefully watched where we went, lest we got lost since Ayah didn't come with us and opted to rest at the mosque instead. We basically bought more of the socks (finally got the correct one i like!), chocolates, sandbottles, etc... But most importantly...

We FINALLY got that shawarma!! Weeee!!

Strange, the feeling was of pickles and yogurt.


We finished every single Syrian pound. The last one being somebody thrusting a balloon into Tufeil's hands and we had to pay for it!


Early lunch at 11am at a nearby restaurant 5min walk away from the bazaar. I dont know why I was so cranky I didn't bother to take pictures.


Travelled for an hour to Damascus Airport.


Much bigger than the one at Amman, Jordan.



Thanks to this picture, I now realise we were at Terminal 1. haha


Inside, very spacious.


Didn't get to explore any shops though - not that there were many to see, I think.





Lovely signs


Packing the last minute shopping into the luggages.


In the meantime, T played w the balloon and ran ard w the boys.


I notice that at most airports, we had to pass the gates before we can actually check in our luggages. Once inside, we had to wait quite long for the group's luggages to clear. I had the opportunity to sit with Kak Siti - mother of the boys and a girl - and marvelled at how she discplined her children, mentally keeping notes.


Funny, a chinese looking young mother with an infant in her arms approached me looking exasperated and asked something in Arabic. ALAMAK! Fumbled! My spoken Arabic is sketchy at best! But we managed to figure out that she's trying to locate her counter. I didn't know so I tried to get someone to help her. But nobody came and she walked away. I felt so guilty. But can't be helped. I mean I'm a resident there, how could I know. But I certainly can imagine being in her shoes and I'd hate to be in that kinda situation.


It was quite crowded immediately inside after the check-in counters. We went further in to the prayer room. The toilets are very clean and ablution area very nice. Unfortunately the prayer room is quite small - the Ladies' side anyways.
Then we hung around for the next hour or so till our flight was called for boarding.

Abang Harris

Abang Ammar


Queueing up to the gate now.


T had been great all day. But after the gate, he got real cranky kept asking for his milk. I think because it was quite crowded and there wasn't much to distract him with and we had to wait for quite a bit. He was screaming again but I kept my stance that I will only give him the milk ON the plane.


He also smelt like he pooped again. When I checked, eh nothing. Turned out his inner pants got a bit of stain from the last round! so i removed and washed it. That was supposed to be his pyjama for tonight! Luckily he wore a bodysuit so He slept it just that. SORRY!


We didn't get the first row seat where the bassinet usually is, and a 2-person window seat. ALHAMDULILLAH!!! T was more comfortable this way because we could watch the tv easily even during take off and landing (without having to stow it away) and he can sit on the armrest nearest the window when we were having dinner. and 45min to landing, he fell asleep.
It took 2hours to reach Dubai at 10pm.

Luckily he didnt wake when we transferred him to the stroller.


Ayah resting after a turbulent tummy ride.

OMG DUBAI AIRPORT IS HUGE!!


If I remember correctly, I transitted in Dubai like... 13-14yrs ago otw to London. And the airport was very small, had NOTHING and now it blossomed sooooooo beauuuutifully.

Where's everybody at?

Waiting for the shuttle to Holiday Inn Express

The room!!
Ayah bunk in with us since his rommate already gone to catch the earlier flight. The sofa is folded out to make a bed.

Toilet is sooooo modern.
The shower got some complicate knobs that took a while to figure out. HAHA


Unfortunately, we only settled in at midnight and we had to wake at 6am to do get bf at 7 and die die MUST leave by 7.45am! What a real damn shame we couldn't go sightseeing!!! BOOHOOHOOOO

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Spooky Encounter

It was almost 1am when i finished watching Hell's Kitchen and wanted to turn in. Tufeil came awake and happily asking if he can take his toy van. I said its asleep now, we giggled and went back to sleep.

2.15am, i felt he was still nursing but suddenly he startled, sat up and shrieked! I jumped awake and heard his fear in his screams. To make matters worse, he was pointing at something behind me and crying now. Of course i didnt look.

It took me two auzubillah before i could gather my wits and read the ayat kursi. The first one didnt work. So i read again and again and louder and more determined until T calmed down. He calmed down enough to say "shark (ke)tawa" shark is laughing. I tried not to imagine what it looks like and failed. My hair stood. But im not sure if its bcos i imagined it or bcos it really was there.

T continued crying and saying "nak keluar sini" but tt is his common dialogue so i knew things were somewhat ok now.

I ran to my mum's room. When i told her this story she felt her hair stood too and again when we past by my room to go to the kitchen. Each time i was still reading the ayat kursi aloud.

Well it could also be his fever was too high 39deg celcius he was hallucinating. We gave him meds and sponged him to sleep. Mum slept w usfor the remainder of the night. After that one hour's sleep, i only caught another 2 intermittent ones before my own dry throat woke me up coughing.

I wondered how would i have handled this if i werent still living w my parents?? Worse if i had weaned T off BM??

One thing's for sure, I wldnt wanna experience it albeit vicariously again. Thanks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Dec Holiday - Day Eight

Wed, 22nd Dec 2010

Good morning! T's inner outfit for the day w double socks too!

Some of the besties would recognise the hoodie. kikiki


Told T that today's my birthday and he had to be a good boy for Mummy. Er... I don't think he caught that. Still tantrums at the toilet. Chet!


All this while I turned on FLIGHT mode on my iphone. But this morning, I turned it back on and received a couple of birthday wishes via sms. THANK YOU!!


The Boss thought that driving 2.5hours all the way to the province / city of HOMS for just one attraction is such a waste and asked the guide if he had any suggestions and he recommended us to go to the Castle!

We reached the mosque of Khalid Ibnul Walid - the guy with the brain for war tactics the KhandaQ (trench) - as well as Abdurrahman ibnu Umar ibnul Khattab.


The latter's tomb was actually quite open, no wall and goldish trappings around him.

A onesie on top of the inner outfit above.


Initially I thought of it as pyjama but later I thought no choice HAVE TO wear this even for daywear! All the other outer wear he's already worn like... 3 times each!
T LOVESSSS running trying to catch the pigeon.

Just before entering the mosque


At 11.30am, we were just in time for Zohr! Isnt that REAL EARLY? *jakun* The female prayer area is super duper small but we managed.

Thanks to this picture of the sign, I remember the name of this place! haha
We reached the lunch location which is minutes away from the Castle!

The surrounding

APPETIZERS! hahaa
There are certainly LOTS more to choose here!


SIDETRACK: I've only just discovered yesterday that the Moutabal i've been enjoying there is actually made of aubergine / eggplants!! and I dont normally vegetables!! I thought its just another version of Hummus which is made of chickpea just with added garlic or something. While I was googling for the name of that cheese puff snack, which is actually called BORAK / BOREK, I stumbled upon SYRIAN FOODIE blog complete with recipes! And when I clicked on Moutabal SURPRISE SURPRISE it's made of CHAR GRILLED EGGPLANTS only!! MY MY!


Ok end of side track.


Lunch was a merry affair with a gay (happy / hilarious) gay serving us. It was some kind of chicken rice but sad thing it was breast meat and not thigh meat that i only eat. But we sure packed all the fries leftover some other people's portions for T.


Luckily o runluckily, T made a deposit there. Toilet was crampy and I wet myself trying to wash him mid struggles. I also decided to put on another layer of jacket on him cos its super cold up there.


When we reached the castle, we were told that we had to pay extra SYP 150 about USD 3 for the tour of the castle that would last for 45min. I really wanted to go but didn't think T nor mum would appreciate the hundreds of steps going upwards. In the end, my parents sacrificed for me. I think this is some sort of a birthday present and I went in alone sans the kid and parents while they explored the exterior and took pictures from outside. I tried not to feel guilty about it.
The entrance - Large limestones.

The alley leading INSIDE the castle. Horses used to be ridden along here.

This used to be the base for the Crusades in whichever year

And this used to be a church complete with the Baptism well.


When the Muslim took over, they turned it into a mosque and built a mimbar.



The ceiling architecture of the "Conference Room" of the Knights.
The centre where two lines meet were supposed to resemble a cross. My angle doesn't capture that, I'm afraid.

We explored the dining area, the kitchen with a BIG ASS OVEN probably the size of my ROOM! no DOUBLE that; the sleeping quarters blah di blah di blah. It was too dark for iPhone. I expected myself to feel magically transformed back into medieval times like in the movies, alas, everything was so empty I just couldn't see it. I'm never good at pretend plays anyways.



UPWARDS, we reached the second floor and heading up another level to the Princess Room.
<

/div>
See the small squares with holes on the floor? Well that's the place where, in the event of a successful intrusion by the enemy, they would pour hot oil back down to the alley we were at just now before they could manage to get upstairs.

From the Princess Room looking back down to where I stood in the picture above.


Princess' window overlooking the city.
WINDY TO THE MAX!!!!!


Note I only had 1 glove on. Stupid iPhone can't read when you touch with your glove.


Onwards and upwards to the Command Tower - Highest point of castle.

video
A short clip capturing 360deg view from the Command Tower


I rushed back down and found Tufeil happily playing with the iPod with Dad in the bus. Ok if he's not cranky then I don't feel guilty leaving him for 45min.


We travelled back to Damascus City for dinner where we paid extra USD10 to watch a Sufi dance.
Atmosphere's something like Boat Quay minus the river?

Christmas decoration with lotsa pubs/clubs.

It was probably 8pm by the time we reached Othman Bek Restaurant is the name. It was dark so I couldn't take picture. The dining area looked somewhat like the Beit Siti from yesterday only a tad smaller and the buffet spread is in a room.

Appetisers
Desserts which again, i touched none of.


It was quite impossible to get T to eat. Thank god there was button mushroom to tempt T with. But he won't take much carbo. Just a couple of mouthfuls of rice and noodle. I don't know why Mum kept saying he has a good appetite. Well actually I know, and its because she ate even lesser than T so it seemed to her that T ate a MOUNTAIN.


I hope my dad filmed the Sufi Dance cause while being the commercialised kind of performance and not the real Zikr trance, it was beautiful and colourful and the ending was touching. Tufeil even got into the spotlight for a bit when he spinned his detachable skirt on top of our heads. LOL. T was mesmerized i think cos he stood quite still (on his chair) for a second!


Reached back to hotel at 10pm. All in all a good day.


Tomorrow, we would be heading back to the airport. SOB SOB SOB... but I sort of couldn't wait to get home too. Too tired of moving around.

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