Monday, April 17, 2017

April is Autism Awareness Month :)


Hello my lovelies :) I've been meaning to post something for Autism Awareness Month, but I haven't had the chance to do so. But I told myself, I have to get it done before Arif's birthday, which is on April 30th. Can you believe it, he will be turning three soon!

Since Arif's autism diagnosis in October last year, Arif has been attending occupational therapy and he is showing many positive signs of progress. He also started speech therapy early last month and we are so happy for him.

I recently came across this great article about autism awareness in Malaysia, and if you're interested to know more about autism, it's a must read. Click here to read it. It talks about stigma and misconceptions, as well as lack of expertise and opportunities, which are just some of the challenges faced by people with autism.

PS: To raise funds for Arif's autism therapies, I am having an online garage sale via Carousell, To check it out, visit:
                            RifiMemeShop  




Friday, March 17, 2017

Bre-Adventures: My Tesco breadmaker

I have three resolutions for 2017. 1. To get healthier as a family, 2. To embrace minimalism and 3. To be more self sufficient. And part of being self sufficient (at least in my view) is to learn how to make and do things for myself. To me, there's pleasure in slowing down and learning to make things by hand, even the basic things that we've taken for granted in our busy lives... Like making bread!

IMG_20170227_082320

I've gawked at The Baker Brothers' bread-making videos for ages and they make it look so easy, but where does a novice like me even begin? I thought I'd start by getting myself a bread maker. So a few months ago, I bought the Tesco BM1333 2L, which I got at a discount from Lazada, at around RM170. Here's what it looks like...

Image result for Tesco BM1333

How do I like my bread maker and what kinds of breads have I made? Find out after the jump...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Case of the Rotten Frozen Drummets from Tesco Delivery

Hi everyone! I've been meaning to blog about this for a while, but I've been rushing to complete a few tasks that I had on hand. Today I want to share with you my experience receiving a bag of rotten frozen drummets (yuck!) from Tesco Home Delivery AND how I got a replacement for them.

IMG_20170124_192144
The bag of rotten drummets :(
I've blogged about using Tesco's Home Delivery service before, which is absolutely heaven-sent for me because trips to the supermarket are tough with Arif's autism and sensory sensitivities. But once in a while, a slip-up will happen, but thankfully they have a pretty good customer service team on hand to help customers. 

I had ordered a bag of Ayamas frozen Drummets along with my other groceries and was going to make some for dinner, but when I opened the bag, I was greeted with an unpleasant smell. No doubt the drummets had gone off. They were clumped together like they had thawed and refroze. There were black spots on the drummets too. I fried one in my air fryer and it turned out horrible. Just the smell alone made me gag.

So the next day, I PM'd Tesco Malaysia's FB page. They replied and said it is against their policy to offer reimbursement for frozen foods, but that I should call their customer service centre and explain. So that's what I did. I called them up and told them my situation. The lady on the line called up the Tesco branch in Puchong, which is responsible for delivering my groceries. They said they would give me a replacement.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sensory bottles for Arif

As an autistic child, my two year old son Arif has trouble keeping focused and has sensory processing issues. To help him explore his senses and encourage focus, I made some sensory bottles (also known as calm down bottles) for him out of materials I have at home. I also got him a mermaid pillow case. He likes them a lot - Check out his reactions to them!

VID_20161120_091041
This is the first sensory bottle I made. It contains blue glitter and water. The glitter swirls around and provides a mesmerising visual treat.

VID_20161120_121628
This one was an experiment. I mixed water, cooking oil and a few lego pieces. The oil and water don't mix obviously, and the legos are suspended between them.

VID_20161218_145722
I made this one with clear water beads or orbeez. They capture the light and sparkle. 

VID_20161218_110708
In this one, I used only dry materials, like pom poms, rice, beans and sequins. It provides something to look at and sound.

Arif playing with his mermaid pillow
Now this, is a "mermaid pillow," so called because it looks like scales. I got it online. It offers textural and visual exploration as it changes colour at Arif's touch :)

It's been a couple of months since I made these, and Arif still plays with them from time to time. If you're looking to try your hand at making sensory bottles. Here are a few tutorials. But before you begin, here's a safety tip - always superglue or tape the bottle caps securely to avoid choking hazards. 

Here's how to make your basic glitter sensory bottle.

Now here's something I;d like to try! Looks so cool :)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Understanding autism

Since Arif was diagnosed with autism back in October 2016, I stopped blogging for two main reasons. One, I kept myself insanely busy - learning all I could about autism and taking Arif to therapy, as well as taking on all the extra work I could find and selling my stuff online to save up money for his autism therapies. Two, I just didn't know what to write about from a personal angle anymore. All I could think about was autism and yet it was something quite difficult for me to talk about, since I am very new to it myself.

I worked so hard in the last few months of last year, that I was close to burn out. I have since pledged to take things more slowly and reduce my work commitments, so that I can find a better balance and be more present for both of my children.

Now at the start of 2017, I am feeling much more positive about Arif's autism and how we are coping. If I had to explain it, I guess I would say I think Arif is perfect just the way he is. I have also become quite passionate about spreading awareness on autism, and so for my first post in 2017, I'd like to share a few videos with you about autism :) These videos and others like them have helped me to understand Arif more. I hope you'll find them helpful too.




Monday, October 24, 2016

Adventures with Autism: Realisation and reaction

My second son Arif, who is now 2 and a half years old, was born premature at 33 weeks. He was also small for his gestational age, weighing 1.36 kg at birth. He also suffered a 2nd Grade Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) that left scars inside his brain. When I first saw him a few days after he was born, his head was so soft, it looked like a partially-deflated beach ball.

IMG_20161005_140627
Arif and his bunch of favourite softies.

When he was about 3 months old, we took him to the hospital for a scheduled ultrasound of his cranium. They saw what they thought was a subdural effusion and he was immediately admitted. They told me there was fluid on the exterior of his brain and it was either spinal fluid, blood or puss. A few agonising days passed and he had an MRI done on the third day of Aidilfitri. That evening we were told that there was nothing wrong with him after all.

He then started going for monthly occupational and physio therapies at the hospital. Arif hated them and always cried the hour away. So basically we couldn't get him to do anything. Frustrated, we pulled him out of therapy and started doing it ourselves at home.

The first year of Arif's life was pretty much blissful. But due to his medical history, I knew he was at a high risk for autism. I watched him grow from strength to strength and reach many of his milestones. He never ceased to amaze me because since he was in the womb, he has been a fighter. But as the months passed, we noticed that he still hadn't spoken a word. We hoped that it was just due to his prematurity and that he would eventually catch up.

After he turned two, I started noticing certain 'odd' things. I did some online research and realised these were signs of autism.

He doesn't respond to his name or make much eye contact.
He doesn't point or wave.
He doesn't play with toys appropriately (role playing).
He doesn't like to have his teeth brushed.
He dislikes most foods and prefers to drink milk.
He throws epic tantrums for no reason and when I try to calm him down he's even more frantic.
He starts having meltdowns in public areas.
The list goes on.

When I came to realise that my son was autistic, because the signs were undeniable, I basically cried for two full days. It wasn't because I couldn't accept God's will, but it pains me to see him struggle. The more I learnt about autism, I realised that I had to let go of any dreams that I had for Arif and set new ones.

Around the same time, I was hit with the news that a dear friend has passed away suddenly. So for a while, I alternated between being on the verge of tears to feeling completely numb. Nevertheless, I was in problem-solving mode. What do I do? Where do I go? How much does it cost? A million questions came to my mind. 

I immediately joined the Autism Malaysia group on Facebook to ask the parents there about my best options for diagnosis and therapies. I googled and called up the various autism therapy centres near my home to find out more about their specialists, waiting lists and fees.  

I then learnt that therapies for autism at private centres was expensive, around RM150 per one hour session. And usually, there's two sessions per week. Public hospitals could only offer once-a-month therapy sessions, which is hardly enough. Where was I going to get the money to get him the therapies he needs?

I'm a freelancer and I'll need to do less work to be able to take Arif to therapy and to work with him at home. Money was becoming a major concern for me. So I decided that I would sell most of my prized vintage pyrex collection that I had amassed over the past few years. Fortunately, I was able to sell quite a bit. The money I earned could help pay for the first few weeks of therapy.

IMG_20161007_101608
Just some of the many boxes of stuff that I sold online, waiting to be picked up by the courier service.

However, to keep myself sane, I needed a hobby. As an ex-curator, I love objects with great design. Therefore, I rekindled an old (and much cheaper) hobby - collecting decorative tins. ever resourceful, I was even able to sell some of the tins I found for a profit, which helped add to Arif's therapy fund. 

I discovered through support groups that if I went to a public hospital, I would probably have to wait weeks or months to get Arif his diagnosis. Therefore, I decided to take him to a child development specialist at WQ Park, Kelana Jaya. We met with Dr Raja Juanita, she saw Arif and diagnosed him with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She also passed us a form for us to register Arif as an OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya/ Disabled Person) or the more PC terms Orang Kelainan Upaya (Persons with Different Abilities).

Yesterday, my son was just a 'normal' kid. Today. he's a 'disabled' one. At least on paper. But in my eyes, he has always been perfect.

IMG_20161012_153548
This piece of paper gave me a sense of relief. We now have a diagnosis.

When I broke the news about Arif's autism diagnosis on Facebook, many friends and family members told me that since I could write, I should share my experiences with others, because maybe it would help someone out there. While the thought had crossed my mind, even before anyone suggested it, during the first few weeks of receiving the diagnosis, I was in no position to discuss how I was feeling or what I was going through.

I was exhausted. I was relieved that I had a diagnosis, but I was emotionally and psychologically tired from all the frantic fact-finding. I needed some time just to let it all sink in and let it go.

Now, I'm pretty much done with crying and sadness. I don't have time nor energy for that. Instead, I'm keeping myself busy and I'm determined to take this all in my stride. I am thinking and feeling positive. All systems go! I am a proud autism mama and my son Arif is my hero!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Autism: Our Greatest Adventure

Yesterday, a day after my husband's 40th birthday, my two year old son Arif was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am still reeling from a whirlwind of emotions, but as soon as I can, I'd like to share our journey with autism here on this blog. I consider it our biggest adventure. #stayingpositive #arifmyhero

   IMG_20160924_201630
Arif being his adorable self.

IMG_20161012_153548
Arif's diagnosis.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review & recipe: Roast chicken with potatoes and veges using a Philips Pressure Cooker

Just look at this roast chicken... looks good doesn't it? I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I'm quite proud of this chicken LOL. I've finally mastered how to roast/bake a chicken in a pressure cooker! Yaay! Read on to find out how I did it and the recipe :)

IMG_20160827_191838
Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables - yummy! Find out how to make it after the jump!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Trio Air Fryer Review

One of my least favourite tasks when cooking is deep frying, mainly because it takes such a long time and it leaves my kitchen oily. Plus, using so much oil isn't healthy, which is why I've been wishing for an air fryer for quite some time.

However, I was put off from owning one because the models I find in stores are expensive, some retailing near RM1000! So I was happy to discover that there are less expensive models online. I recently went on Lazada and got myself a Trio air fryer, which cost me about RM250.

After using it for a few weeks, here's my review :)

IMG_20160723_100400
The Trio air fryer is quite large but has a sleek design nonetheless.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ordering Food Online @ Shogun2u

IMG_20160715_125022

I've been a little saddened by the fact that I can't order Japanese food via Food Panda, because most restaurants don't cover my area in SS1, PJ. So I was over the moon to learn that Shogun2u does deliver to Kg Tunku! Plus, they have an amazing variety of food - Japanese, Korean, Thai, Western and local dishes! 

So I told myself, after Raya, I HAD to give them a try. And today I made my first order, so I am excited to give you guys a review when the food arrives! I ordered five meals. Two for lunch for Amir and I, and three for dinner for Rezad, Amir and I. But because of their raya promo till the end of July and the RM10 credit that I got for downloading the Shogun2u app, I only paid RM49 for five meals to be delivered to my doorstep! So happy and grateful. Alhamdulillah :)

Check out what I ordered!

IMG_20160715_125051

Yes, I ordered quite a lot of food. Haha. But this is for lunch AND dinner. That's right, mama's not cooking tonight! More info after the jump :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Thistle Hotel, Port Dickson - Room & Facilities

Just before Ramadhan began, we went to Port Dickson for a short getaway with the kids. We stayed at Thistle Hotel, Teluk Kemang for the first time, so here's my review of the room and facilities.

IMG_20160604_142058_1
We stayed in the Deluxe Room and for weekend stays, there is a surcharge. We opted for the 2 super single beds as we have two kids. The room is spacious and the beds are comfortable.

IMG_20160604_142143_1
There was a comfortable bay window seat, where Amir would often take naps.


IMG_20160604_142212_1
Here is the coffee-making facility with a mini fridge underneath.

IMG_20160604_142223_1
Here's the TV, which comes with Astro (one cartoon and one movie channel) and writing desk. As you can see the floor is terracotta tile, which is typical for seaside resorts. But be warned, it gets very cold, so bring socks. The hotel room slippers were too thin to keep my feet warm.


IMG_20160604_142249_1
Our room came with a pool-facing balcony. When you open the sliding door to the balcony, the aircon automatically shuts off, which is a smart feature.

IMG_20160604_142535
The bathroom was quite large and not too shabby. 

IMG_20160604_144945

There is a small closet by the entrance, with extra pillows, a safe and an iron/ironing board. Sejadahs are available upon request. They also have Qurans, Bibles etc.


IMG_20160604_150121
The highlight of the hotel is its expansive swimming pool, There is a baby/kids wading pool, but I found the water there to be quite dirty to be honest. So I opted to bring my kids to another pool. The management should really look into the cleanliness of the wading pools. Small kids are more likely to swallow the water and their skin is also very sensitive.

IMG_20160604_162735
A short walk away is the beach. 


IMG_20160604_162902
Before you reach the beach you'll come across the Cumulus bar and infinity pool, which is very deep.

IMG_20160604_163026
I wouldn't say this is the best beach in PD. It was not the cleanest, a lot of detritus from the trees and also some litter. I even found a broken glass bottle, which I removed to keep others safe. So please be careful!

IMG_20160604_163357
The sand here is reddish and quite rough. But Arif still had fun playing in it.

IMG_20160604_192159
When you're tired of the pool and beach, you can try out their recreation centre.

IMG_20160604_150010
There's a lego room for kids. Amir was very excited about this.

IMG_20160604_192328
It wasn't as exciting as he thought it'd be, as there are limited blocks, but still it's worth checking out.

IMG_20160604_192519
Next to the Lego room is the toddlers' play room.

IMG_20160604_192430
There was a ball pit, but I don't think these rubber balls are suitable for this purpose. Many were deflated.

There is a spa at the hotel, called Santai, but I didn't get a chance to check it out. Maybe next time. In a future post, I will tell you about the food we ate there, including the dinner buffet, room service, breakfast buffet and sahur package/options. See ya later!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Catching My Baby Dust

Dear friends, I am pleased to announce that "Catching My Baby Dust," the book that I co-wrote with the doctors at the KL Fertility Centre, will soon be available at Borders for RM23! If you (or anyone you know) have any concerns about reproductive health, this is an excellent reference. In addition to write ups by fertility specialists on the types of fertility issues and treatments available, there are also numerous stories by couples who share their struggles with infertility and journey to becoming parents (including yours truly). Please feel free to share this post. For more about KLFC, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/klfertilitycentre/

Catching My Baby Dust

Friday, April 29, 2016

My Ikea Hack: Display cabinet from Gnedby + Oxberg

As an avid collector of vintage kitchenalia, I'm always thinking about how best to display my collection. For a cost-effective and sleek cabinet, I've chosen to use white shelves from Ikea - Billy for the large pyrex pieces and Gnedy for the smaller ones. These tall and slim shelves help me to make the most out of my wall space while taking up less visual and floor space. However, my toddler had been attacking my books and my small pyrex pieces had been collecting dust. I needed to find a way to protect my books and my pyrex. Thankfully, I got the idea to use an Oxberg door (they are meant for Billy book shelves) with my Gnedbys. And here's how it turned out:

IMG_20160423_130844

I think it turned out really well, the Gnedby shelves have blended in with my Billy shelves even more! Here's a closer look. The Gnedbys shelves are ideal for cups, butter dishes, pixies and other small pyrex. If you collect cars, figurines or the like, this set up could work for you as well.


Gnedby & oxberg
Here's a look from the side.

IMG_20160423_130903
The Oxberg door won't fit into the existing holes in a Gnedby, but it's easy enough for you to just screw the door in place.


IMG_20160423_130914
Here's a close-up of one of the two hinges. 

IMG_20160423_130830

I'm really pleased with how my cabinet turned out. I wish I had more wall space, I would love to have more of these!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Compact living: My "transformers" dining table - Seats none to six!


I've owned two Ikea tables for several years, The first is a Norden gateleg dining table, which I use in my dining area and the second is a Norbo drop leaf table, which I use in the kitchen. Recently, I was struck with inspiration to turn my four-seater dining table into a six-seater. Basically, I attached my Norbo next to my Norden and as you can see from the picture below, it's a perfect fit!  

My dining table - Norden & Norbo combo
Here's the 6-seater configuration. I use Frosta stools instead of chairs because they're stackable, space saving and can double as side tables. In a small home like mine, every inch of space counts and just about everything does double duty. 

My dining table - Norden & Norbo combo
When I don't need the extra table space, I drop one side of the Norden and it becomes a 4-seater. 

    My dining table - Norden & Norbo combo
Then, if I need some floor space, I can fold the Norden down completely and push it to one side to act like a console. With just the Norbo table, I have a seat for two by the window. 

My dining table - Norden & Norbo combo
And when I need all the floor space I can get, I can fold the Norbo table down too! Isn't that neat? This is why I love Ikea AND living in a small space. It forces me to be more creative and challenges me to come up with solutions that will work for us :) 

IMG_20160424_115724
I love my "transformers" dining table and Amir appreciates all the extra elbow room. He loves model and lego building and so he spends his time here now working on new projects.

PS: Actually this table can have two more configurations if I fold down the Norbo completely and just use the Norden with one or two leaves open;)