Marche Noel, Strasbourg

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Everyone has been raving about the Christmas market in Strasbourg and how it would be a complete sin to miss it. So I thought ok, I better do this, or it might haunt me for a lifetime, or annoy all the nerves in me if someone were to say “What? You were in Paris in December and did not go to the Marche Noel in Strasbourg?!”

So I bought the train tickets and booked the apartment. The apartment was slightly pricey but worth every Euro cos the location was absolutely perfect. Just 2 minutes’ walk from the famous cathedral and the market (of course), AND it was on the prettiest street in Strasbourg; the shops had the best Christmas decorations and façade, hands down! And in Strasbourg Christmas décor is serious, I mean serious business, as is evident in the pictures I’ve posted. My favourite is the giant gingerbread man at the Office de Tourisme. Too cute.

Weather was as expected; chillier than in Paris. Seth Omar still insisted on removing his gloves. But the moment he shuts his eyes for a nap, I take the opportunity to put it on again. My adult hands still feel a bit sejuk despite having leather gloves on, what more his baby hands!

I bought everything I liked and especially those that would remind me of Strasbourg, I know I would bound to regret if I didn’t. Oh why did I just buy one of these? I should have gotten the set of table napkins.. etc etc. Leaving no room for regrets, I came back to Paris with a good amount of stuff. Pat on the back!

I am glad we only stayed for a night, the city is beautiful especially with the Christmas décor and all, but two nights would’ve been too much time in the city. We got first class tickets for the train, so it was a very comfortable ride to Strasbourg and back to Paris.

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Opera, done!

I had the experience of a lifetime last night; well it adds to a list of other lifetime experiences I’ve been fortunate to have, Alhamdulillah including listening to the national orchestra of Paris under the Louvre Pyramid, landing in South Africa (yes, I don’t know why I got so emotional when I arrived in Cape Town), standing just a glass display away from the Prophet’s sword, a strand of his beard in Topkapi, Istanbul, and of course nothing tops giving birth to my two darling boys, Ali Omar, insha Allah Mummy will see you again in Jannah, and Seth Omar whom I pray will also be a member of Jannah. May Allah keep all of us away from the Hell fire.

Back on the topic of lifetime experiences, last night I watched my very first opera! It was a hair-standing experience, literally. When the tenor hit the high note, my hair stood like it was listening to the national anthem of Hair Country!
It was at the Opera House in La Bastille, not the Palais Garnier (opposite Galaries Lafayette). It was a decision between charming classic venue and the performance. The only ones available at the moment in the grand Palais Garnier is a ballet performance. But at La Bastille, it was Tosca by Puccini, according to my all-things-art enthusiast, was the perfect opera.

The decision was not tough, I have seen the architectural splendour of the Palais Garnier, but I would bet that we won’t be having any good (what more excellent) opera performances in Kuala Lumpur. Come to think of it don’t think we’ve had any opera shows in KL, ever. So there, I wanted to be able to cross “watched an opera” of my to-do list. And Tosca is an Italian opera, so all the drama, the tenor, sopranos, of course tragic plots were there. I enjoyed myself, the tones and sheer power of their voices was beyond amazing, the well thought stage production, fully packed auditorium, and I must say elegant crowd (tres chic!). It was an excellent evening.

We had two intermissions; and the mom in me saw me whipping out my phone instantly to check on Seth Omar. He did go hunting for me around the house, and slept way past his usual bedtime, but all was well. I paid for it this morning of course, he would not let go off me. The type of situations where I wished I was a home-maker and did not have to work, or I owned my own business which was doing well enough to run without me occasionally, with the help of professional managers. Yes, yes a girl can dream, but who knows what the future holds, my dreams may just come true (Amin!)

I am not fond of OOTDs, but wish I took a shot of myself yesterday, wore a knit dress, straight cut, which hugged my bump perfectly. Side note on OOTDs, I think Instagram has caused a lot of people to become vain (for some, very vain) posting pictures of their outfits every day or outfits which they think would get them 1000 likes. May Allah protect us from becoming those.

It was raining when we got out of the opera house, and of all days I left my umbrella in another bag. But I must say it was the perfect weather to complement the evening. Slight rain, coolness in the air, joining the crowd making their way to the Metro station, with the La Bastille statue standing proud behind us. Ah, what an evening. Thank you Allah for this blessing.

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Of cool weather and clementines

Weather in Paris is a lot cooler compared to when we arrived in March, expected since its autumn. I personally prefer cooler temperatures than the warm summer days that we had. There were days in summer that was so hot, all that was missing is the humidity and it’d be KL weather, well almost.

I have the luxury of walking to work; a pleasant 6 minutes walk; slightly longer in heels (which I wore almost every day but stopped the last two weeks, cos the bump is getting bigger and I want to avoid damaging my back, but have not gone completely flat either, have opted for the convenient in-between, wedges!)

Anyway, yes its a short walk; joy compared to the the horrible traffic we go through in KL. I make it a point to take deep breaths during these walks, breath in the cool air, visualise it being passed on to PC III. I really hope you’re enjoying it as much as Mummy is sayang. I attended a pre natal yoga class once and the instructor mentioned that taking deep breaths is one of the best gifts you can give your baby.

Have been snacking a lot on clemetine and strawberries in this trimestre. In the first trimester, it was peaches and apples. But peaches are now out of season, and clementine are in, so clementine it is. I have been taking decaf cappucino (read decaf) once in the morning when I’m at work, a small cup, about 2 oz. I cant take any more than that, wont be able to finish. The only coffee I CAN finish in tall, is Starbuck’s caramel macchiato; but have not had that in a long while. I hope my decaf coffee intake does not add extra ‘ligat’ miles with PC III later when PC III makes the debut insha Allah.

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Saint Malo

It was refreshing to be out of Paris, even if it was just for the weekend. And Saint Malo turned out to be the perfect choice. Just 3 hours away by train from Paris, Saint Malo is a walled-city surrounded by the sea, in the region of Britanny or Bretagne in French. I was worried that it might rain, but weather was just right, cool wind and sun – the best weather condition combo.

Seth Omar needless to say enjoyed his time by the beach. It was such a sight to see him walk on his own, with the occasional fall-on-butt (FOB). He got sand on his hands (of course his pants etc too) each time he had a FOB, but I was very pleased that he made no attempt to lick the sand of his hands, or rub it on his face. He would just glance quickly at his hands with an “Hmmm I got more of this grainy stuff on my hands” look, then continued walking.

We also managed to squeeze a short drive to Cancale, just 18km away from Saint Malo for some fresh oysters. And the oysters don’t get any fresher than this, literally just out of the sea. Marie Christine, a good friend of mine whose parents live in Saint Malo, and happened to be back for the weekend drove us there.

Before we get to the oysters, I must write about the pier … we walked on the pier in Cancale, and it was one of those moments; the type you would remember till your memory fails you. At the start of the pier, Seth Omar motioned to get off his stroller, so I removed the straps, put him on his feet, held his baby hands, and we walked along the pier hand in hand all the way till the end. With the cool wind blowing, I made sure to take deep breaths so Precious Cargo III could get a taste of it too. The walk on the pier was like detox, I am sure it took some months off my ageing process (exaggeration, but seriously, it was THAT refreshing).

Now, back to the oysters! There was a small marche just by the beach. About 6-7 stalls, all selling oysters of different types. Cancale is lined with restaurants offering oysters too, but I preferred getting them fresh from the sellers, have the oysters being cracked open right in front of me, then sit by the beach and enjoy them. It was excellent. I don’t like anything on my oysters, love them raw as is. No lemon, nothing.

I’m glad we managed to go on this short getaway; the fresh air definitely did us some good, slept so well and reenergised to face work. I am definitely a beach-sorta person. I love it more than the city. I am quite sure Seth Omar loves the beach too.

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Seth Omar’s First Walk

Our little one walked for the first time last night. He stood up, which he has mastered for a while, saw him take a step which he has also done, then I saw him taking ANOTHER step, then another, ok I.held.my.breath. did not want to say a word, to not break his streak, he took one step after another from the couch to the TV, a total of 10 steps before plonking himself down because the TV was in the way (damned the TV, or else we could’ve witnessed 10 more steps at least!)

I was so so proud. I immediately glimpsed at the clock, 7:40pm, 2nd October 2014. Another moment I need to record in his journal. I am sure his children or grandchildren insha Allah would love to see the date he first walked along with other milestones penned down nicely.

Several babies I know who are younger than Seth Omar have started walking months earlier, mostly girls. But I remember my late aunt telling me she was worried that my cousin Khayum took so long to start walking, then her mother (Khayum’s grandmother) said “ Don’t worry, what’s the rush, he has his whole life to walk”. I absolutely love here reply. She hit it spot on.

He does have his whole life ahead of him, one that is blessed, exciting, fulfilling, and gives him a place in Jannah insha Allah.

Seth Omar is growing up

Sometime after Seth turned one his sleeping pattern at night began to change. He used to wake up once in the middle of the night for a feed say at 3 am, then again about 6plus. When this pattern changed, he would wake up every hour after 3am. No need for me to illustrate how tiring this was. I am about 3 months along now with Precious Cargo III, and the night feeds hit a new point of on the unbearable metre. I was beginning to get disgruntled.

I had a conversation with one of my colleagues who told me that her son started doing his nights (as they call here in Paris) when he was 1 month old. I was just so jealous. I wanted to follow her every step, but she told me it had to do with her son being a very big baby, weighed 4kg at birth. So she suggested giving Seth bigger meals, especially dinner. And so we did (but Seth always had a good appetite and is not a fussy eater, so I wasn’t that convinced that this was the problem). The big meals didn’t help. What did help eventually was when I fed him formula instead of direct feeding. If you ask why did I not this earlier, I did, but he would push the bottle away as if it was the most horrid thing I could offer him. But now somehow he accepts the bottle willingly.

I read that at a certain stage in the pregnancy milk production begins to fall, and I’m guessing I’m at that stage now. It is very sad weaning Seth, breastfeeding has been our special moment, just us. We still have many of those, but it was special. But this is part of the process, things have to change to make way for progress, my body is now focusing on his sibling, and Seth Omar you have begun your Abang duties my dear son, sacrificing for your sibling. May Allah keep you under His protection always sayang, Amin.

16 May 2013, one year after

Two very special loved ones who I love with all the life in me, and are God’s greatest gifts to me, are celebrating their birthdays tomorrow.

My dear mother and son.

That Thursday morning last year on 16 May 2013, I went to Gleneagles for the bi-weekly check-up. I had taken the day off because it was Mama’s birthday, and I was planning to drive to Shah Alam after the appointment and join my siblings to surprise her with an iPad which we bought as a gift. I was lying calmly on the examination table, was quite heavily pregnant, 37 weeks and 4 days along, when Dr Suhaiza told us “You can have the baby today, you are already 3cm dilated!” Cutting the long story short, that night our precious Seth Omar was born, and I gave Mama a very special birthday present, her cucu.

They unfortunately will be celebrating their birthdays apart in two different cities, Mama in Kuala Lumpur and Seth Omar in Paris. But there is no doubt in me that Mama will have Seth Omar in her thoughts and prayers as she celebrates her birthday, and though Seth Omar is too young, I will have Mama in mind as we blow the little candle on Seth Omar’s

 May Allah bestow barakah upon them and keep them under His protection in this life and the hereafter.

The greens for dinner

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Cos Mama always pesan don’t forget your greens.

Her birthday is coming up, she is Seth Omar’s twin :) They share the same birthdate. If I could give Mama a few gifts, one of it would be a fully grown farm of organic vegetables. She would love it, I know for sure.

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Japan and Moving On

“Furthermore, Japan must be a country where even people who have failed once have ample opportunites to succeed.

The people with the highest ability to succed are those who have once failed. In Silicon Valley, those who have the experience of failing are highly evaluated by investors. This is because those how who have failed understand what they need to improve upon.

I can be completely certain of this, speaking as a Prime Minster who have failed once but is now serving a second time.”

A part of Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan’s keynote address last Tuesday here at the OECD.

A few things striked me when I heard these statement by PM Abe,

1. It takes guts to admit that you’ve made a mistake, he went a step further and  even said he ‘failed’. And this is the Prime Minister of a country which holds honor so high that they host the practice of hara-kiri. What PM Abe did is nothing short of admirable. Others who who dont hold as siginificant a post find it difficult to admit their mistakes. Worst still hide their mistakes by blaming others.

2. My father says it’s ok to make mistakes, what matters is to not make the same mistake again. I am sure my father gets very annoyed sometimes because I have unfortunately repeated some mistakes in the course of my life, but my father is one who never gives up and never gets tired of giving guidance and advise. He doesnt throw the towel so easily, which is also another admirable trait.

3. What striked me the most is the reflection on the Japanese people,the willingness to give PM Abe a second chance, recognise his mistakes and allow him another try. Another try at curing Japan of the acute economic ailments it has suffered for many years.

PM Abe introduced Abenomics which includes several reform measures meant to regenerate Japan’s economy. And based on recent numbers, Japan is showing signs of economic recovery and growth. Had the Japanese stayed sour about the situation, they would have denied PM Abe the opportunity to save their country’s wealth and economic well being, but they didnt and now they are on the way to reap the benefits.

The willingness to move on and forge forward, is the key lesson I took away.

Sleeping baby bear

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Of late, the last 2 weeks or so Seth Omar has developed this lasakness before he sleeps. Actually its not lasak, more like looking for the best sleeping position, well at least thats what I think he’s doing. He would turn, hug me then let go, bulldoze the pillows, hug me again…in short, like a baby bear who’s just been hit by a tranquiliser. Its quite cute actually. Here he is post twists and turns, fast asleep.

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