New Zealand highlights

hello! alhamdulillah we came back from NZ safe and sound last week. 🙂 it was a good, good trip with NG’s school friends, so here are some highlights and photos of our 12-day adventure.

Skydiving in Queenstown

ok hands down the wildest thing I’ve done. considering that I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I generally avoid rollercoasters or jumping into water, and I get scared of my own shadow sometimes. whoops. in the weeks leading up to the trip, I tried to convince myself that the few seconds of free fall is only a fraction of a painful plank exercise. I had so much fear going into it.

in hindsight, it wasn’t too too scary. apparently bungee jumping is scarier. we went with Skydive Paradise, whose base is in Glenorchy. they use a small plane which fits in 2-3 pairs at a time. this is good coz we basically sat at the edge of the plane when we reached 12,000 ft and our instructors were the ones who did the dirty job of letting go. some people I know took bigger planes, and one friend said he had to be the one jumping. eeek! I would probably be standing there forever.

anyhoos it went by super quickly, and I walked away feeling more pening than high from the adrenaline rush. hur.

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a public service reminder to BTBs on borrowing items

a recent ordeal motivated me to write a friendly public service reminder, so here goes!

to all brides to be, do remember to assign a bridesmaid or family member to help you return borrowed items for your wedding in a timely manner, which basically means asap.

this person could either
(a) help return the items on your behalf or
(b) help drive you around so that you can return these items to the relevant people

these outstanding/borrowed items can be accessories from your mak andam, cake stand from your cake vendor, the decorations and items from your dulang hantaran vendor, etc.

please try to return within same day of or max 1-2 days after your wedding. also good to do so before your honeymoon, because once you return, you’ll be so obsessed and overwhelmed at the same time with your new role and lifestyle as a wife and daughter in law etc that resuming wedding-related errands will feel so yesterday and will take a lot of inertia to overcome. I know coz I took 6-7 months to collect my photo album from my photographer! haha.

it would also be courteous to not make the person have to chase you repeatedly for the items. do reply messages promptly like how you wish your vendors to do so. don’t make it seem like they are the ones who owe you something when you are the one holding on to their belongings 😉

and if, nauzubillah, should you accidentally damage the item you borrowed, do inform them as soon as it happens. if you wait for them to ask you, it makes the annoying situation even more annoying. if it is easily replaceable, lucky you for having a way out. if it is not, it would be best to have an open discussion on how to best make good. understand that some items are sentimental, people’s favourites and may not be easy to find. espesh those that were bought overseas from far away and painstakingly lugged home…

we may be raja sehari (kings and queens for a day) but it certainly does not free us from our obligations to other people. if all this sounds like common sense, you are right. which is why it is super disappointing to come across people who don’t take this seriously. I’m sure everyone wants to transit from wedding day into marriage life on a good note and with a lot of barakah, right? so make tying the loose ends from your wedding reception a priority / couple activity in the first few days of being married. 

lastly… I hate to be a wet blanket in this online BTB community… be wary before you help or stick your neck out to strangers. some people may sound sensible in their entries but it takes only one experience to reveal their character…or lack thereof. 😌

ok back to regular programming, girls!

our first Ramadhan and Syawal together

when ramadhan rolled around, I planned to wake up earlier than usual to help mama kraken prepare sahur. I figured that I better start practising waking up super early and getting myself comfy in the kitchen, in case we are on our own next year. gone are the days where I could wake up after food is served on the table, waiting for me.

so in the beginning of ramadhan, I succeeded in waking up about half an hour earlier to help mama kraken to at least set the table. unfortunately as ramadhan progressed, my resolve regressed. I started waking up later and later and eventually barely helped much to prepare sahur. whoops.

I also had grand plans of learning from mama kraken how to cook this month. that one also fail because usually after I reached home from work, I’d be too tired (and admittedly lazy). padahal I adjusted my working hours (again) such that I get to knock off at 5.00pm. hai. I really worry about how I’m going to prepare food for sahur once we have our own place. guess I’ll have to try harder in the next few months to learn from mama kraken while I’m still at my parents’. alternatively, I could get NG to do the cooking for us ha ha. I’m happy to do the dishes seh. but no lah. new roles as a wife and homeowner means I must work hard and learn new skills. menyesal jugak tak belajar masak dari dulu…

the BTO

but anyways the possibility of us observing the next ramadhan, kalau panjang umur insyaAllah, at our new house is 50-50. our BTO’s probable completion date (PCD) is 2Q 2016. I’m hoping and expecting to get the keys by 1Q 2016. I believe the days when projects are ready about 6 months earlier are over cos of labour crunch and all the recent hooha on defects. perhaps the contractor will take longer to do their own inspections. there was a recent project in my neighbourhood when the keys were handed over after the PCD so yeh. we shall see.

I’ve begun to look at renotalk to familiarise myself with reno jargon and collect ideas. fun ah reading the t-blogs. some of the writers are so gerek, I cannot. also, this means that I’m back to saving hard for the next milestone in my life. it doesn’t end does it? but takpe lah. it’s a rite of passage for anyone who settles down. and I should be thankful that i have this one year to save — I’m not sure if I could have made it if I needed to save for both wedding and house at the same time :/

back to our first ramadhan together … or not.

another “highlight” was that I spent the first week (and the one before that) apart from NG. he was in LA and San Fran for his incentive trip, which he earned after hitting some performance targets at work. it was the most miserable time of my life. haha. I mean, I knew about the trip before the wedding, but back then i didn’t think much about what it was going to be like as a new-ish wife being left behind by her new-ish husband. it’s like this -> (T_T). you know lah pengantin baru. we want to be together 24/7 where possible. sorry kalau meluat, but it’s the truth!

so yea I have newfound respect for wives whose (new) husbands get posted overseas. it’s not easy dealing with the loneliness or trying not to be petty over little things to make up for the lack of attention and couple time. it probably gets easier over the years when the marriage is more stable and stronger (insyaAllah). but for me, it was a dark place. espesh when I was having bad days at work and he be posting photos like this:

monterrey beach in california

geram kannn! nonetheless, I must be thankful that he came back home safe and sound. alhamdulilllah. all this was in mid to late June, during the time when Singapore and the Malay community were reeling in the sad news of the Sabah earthquake victims and the unexpected departure of a young actor. the general mood was somber and we had reminder after reminder that death comes anytime…

alamak now this entry so sad pulak.

ok, ok other than that, ramadhan with a husband is very sweet. in previous years we saw each other less during ramadhan, but insyaAllah starting from this year, we get to sahur together and plan for raya together and split duit raya into half hahaha ok just kidding. (it’s not true because you also have twice the amount of people to give.) and of course the best part is having extra hands to help with house cleaning, woo!

because I’m still staying with my parents, my first ramadhan as a wife wasn’t too foreign. can’t say the same for NG, though. but perhaps a key difference now is splitting our buka appointments between both families, friends and work. and it’s interesting to observe the differences between our family cultures wrt Ramadhan. luckily there was nothing too striking to warrant major adjustments from either of us, so it was all good. alhamdulillah.

our first syawal

hari raya… let’s just say there are good days and then there are bad days ha ha. padahal it’s only the first week eh.

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some observations post-wedding

you know, it wasn’t until we started living together that i learnt how much of a follower ninja groom is to my blog. kembang jugak aku. haha.

you know, i thought i was busy in the weeks leading up to the wedding. turns out, the busy-ness doesn’t stop! ha. there’s always something to do at home these days, whether it’s ironing NG’s clothes or helping out with the chores. and it’s not like we have our own place yet! i guess now that i’m someone’s wife, i feel compelled to train up my domestic skills. and i also feel extra bad if i hear my mum preparing dinner in the kitchen and i’m chilling out in my room, not helping her. so yeah. we’ve been so busy that i’ve not even had the chance to edit my honeymoon photos!

you know, since getting married, both of us observed that we start feeling more tired easily. all we want to do after work on a weekday is sleep. but maybe it’s a good thing cos for the longest time, i was telling myself to sleep early but never did. i would get distracted by social media and phone games etc and end up sleeping past 12am when i had aimed for 11pm. NG claims his bedtime has been shifted from 10pm to 8pm lulz.

you know, NG is doing a fine job adapting to my parents’ house even though we do many things differently and he’s been feeling homesick. i believe he’s also been scoring brownie points by helping to drive mama kraken to places and cooking my dad’s  breakfast request — veh good, veh good my husband. and on my part i need to be more patient with his settling in. for example, i’ve caught myself getting flustered on two occasions when he let the kitchen sink run for 3 seconds too long (felt like eternity). also need to use remember to use my Nice Voice in such crises … ok, ok fine, i exaggerate.

you know, when i see photos of newly weds, i get a tad jealous because i want to be a pengantin again. cos i’ve never felt so loved. and i don’t mean the romantic love which led us to the wedding in the first place, but love by family and friends. now that i’ve been a bride, i know what it’s like when you give people an invitation card and they show up. i didn’t really take it for granted that people would show up (ah, me and my birthday party fears) so when they did, i really really appreciated it. especially by those who came alone (they didn’t let the paiseh-ness of attending a wedding alone stop them!) and those who live in Jurong/Bukit Batok lol. cos I live in Tampines and i know how … berat … a wedding invite in the West can feel. also, my phone was unusually buzzing with messages, mostly well wishes. ahhh, i miss feeling super loved, miss the sweet anticipation in the last few days, and miss the satisfaction of seeing everything come together. nak kahwin lagi (to the same man) please!

lastly, and on a more sombre note, my deepest condolences to the victims of the recent earthquake in Sabah. especially the ones in the TKPS expedition. it’s a reminder to the rest of us that we are only temporary in this world and ultimately powerless in the face of Allah swt’s Will. here’s a powerful quote that my sister shared…

“A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.”
Jay Neugeboren, An Orphan’s Tale

family meeting on wedding programme

yesterday we had a Family Meeting to discuss my wedding programme. I was a bit anxious going into it cos I was afraid I would have to overhaul my prog or something. you know, like when you think you have it all nicely planned out and then a sibling or a parent asks “but what about…”

thankfully, nothing (much) like that. we also settled my biggest worry — thanks to my sister stressing me out over her stressing out over this — which is my rombongan / bridal party accompanying me to ninja groom’s reception at night. mama kraken has already secured a core group of close relatives who are willing to stay for the evening, and we’ll also get the help of close neighbours and my bridesmaids to make my send off party more merry insyaAllah. this also means having to watch the time very closely because it wouldn’t be fair to NG and his reception if we’re late so… wish us luck please!

my new worry is the seating plan for my nikah. I’ve always wanted to follow the Malaysian-style where the bride sits on the floor in the same space as the kadi, wali and groom. as opposed to the Singaporean style where the bride sits either in her bedroom, on the chair on the dais, or on a chair in a corner of the room. I was hoping to draw up this seating plan in advance, which means knowing which other uncles will also be sitting on the stage, but mama kraken said we don’t know yet; we have to see who’s there; we have to invite whoever who is there up on the stage (cos we don’t want to offend anybody) and I’m like whaaaaat. there’s limited space on the CC stage kay. and also I want NG to be in my line of sight lulz. otherwise the back of someone’s head is going to be the target of my glares. ok kidding! tak manis kan. it was agreed that we’ll settle this on Fri night when we’ve seen the actual set up. hopefully we find a win-win solution.

Islamic talk by Yasmin Mogahed

anyway, alhamdulilah yesterday I also attended my first Yasmin Mogahed talk at Downtown East. her main message was to love Allah swt most. she also talked about how everything that happens to us is also His Creation, and how there are typically 3 responses when faced with a challenge.

(1) asking “why me?” ie rejecting His Will
(2) with patience/sabr ie accepting His Will
(3) with contentment/redha ie being grateful for His Will, for difficulties are an opportunity for Allah swt to elevate us

do note that above summary is really just scratching the surface. she also shared that it’s normal to be human and feel sad during difficult times and still redha. wallahu a’lam.

so yep thought it was an insightful session. reflected on my responses to certain developments in wedding planning and realised that I could have responded better towards some of the incidents. insyaAllah I hope to carry these lessons with me too for the next chapters in my life. 

hoping for this week to be better than the last two…

wise words ii

ST: You have been married for 56 years. What would you tell young Singaporeans on what it takes to keep a marriage going that long?

Mrs Lee: My advice is don’t marry someone if you hope to change him after marriage. You have to be prepared to take him as he is and to make compromises over any differences, and if you are lucky, you will find someone who has the same attitude.

– Interview with Mrs Lee Kuan Yew by M. Nirmala, published in The Straits Times on 14 Sep 2003

Advice to Daughter-in-laws

At times we may feel that we know exactly what we are doing and most importantly we think that we are the best at it. That usually is not that case and as anything thing in life, we need to learn and improve ourselves. This is from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him). Followed is some amazing advice for our sister who are getting married are already married by Moulana Abdul Hameed Ishaq.

Read full article here.

our kursus experience: round 2!

alhamdulilah, our previous marriage preparation course provider honoured their word to give us a refund 🙂 it was done amicably and professionally, so I’m happy with how it turned out. I can sense the owners’ sincerity in doing good for the community, so I really do wish them success in their endeavours.

and then! we signed up for kasih sejati by suchi success in search for a better fit. haha. to be honest, there were moments before and during the course where we doubted ourselves and wondered whyyy we had to be so semangat about attending a second course. alhamdulilah in retrospect, it was worth it (ok lah, maybe we are justifying our own investment into the course also) cos not only did we benefit from the materials provided, we also got a little bit of insights on a successful training/consultancy business model heh.

lots has already been shared about kasih sejati so I think there’s not much value-add for me to spell out the syllabus here. on the whole, the course syllabus is comparable with cinta abadi. each has its strengths over the other. one of the things that kasih sejati did cover was the role of the wali, and certain situations in which a nikah can be considered tidak sah — scary! definitely not to be messed with.

we attended the course at the training centre. the facilities were not too bad — the room gets a little cold so do bring a jacket. our trainers were mr mohd khair (the big boss), ustaz zulkifli and mdm suriati (the big boss’s wife). mr khair was really good. he has his own style of presenting which is laden with both substance and humour. so in a way after spending two half-days with him and being spoiled by his level of engagement, it felt like the other two speakers couldn’t match up.

oh yes forgot to mention that the course, including the notes, are in Malay. unfortunately, my Malay is terrible. but anyways ninja groom thought he would troll me by threatening to write his answers in Malay, but I totally owned him by writing my answers in Malay. HA! not without tapping the girl beside me to ask “what is respect in Malay?” and “how do I say ‘willing’?” and making grammatical errors, but y’know, I did it! I thought and wrote *real stuff* in Malay!

the highs & low…s

what I enjoyed: all the relationship advice, the Get to Know Your Partner exercises, and the fact that the discussion on roles of husband and wives went higher level by quoting from the Quran (instead of asking participants to suggest — we don’t know what we don’t know!) also there were not too many group activities/games, which I liked 😀 I mean nothing against group activities but after the last round where some of the activities were poorly designed, I’m like, let’s not try to do any fancy things here. let’s just KISS ok!

what I didn’t really enjoy: the fruit personality test (I recently did an MBTI course at work, which I find more established. how many people will understand me if I say I’m a grape compared to ENFP?). and… that’s about it lah. the parts that were a little snoozefest-ish for me was either due to the instructors (sorry!) or cos it’s a repeat from cinta abadi. there was one exercise which we felt could have been facilitated better (ader aje yang nak critique eh!) but yeah not a biggie.

on the whole, the course mentally prepared me to think that marriage is going to be harrrd work; that the first 1-3 years is going to be most important in setting a strong foundation for our marriage for life; and to embrace the fact that ninja groom is from mars and I’m from venus, and that it’s the differences in the way we are wired that makes life (whimsically) wonderful. insyaAllah 🙂

off the wedding checklist: shoes and honeymoon flights!

it was a heavy rain kinda morning when I started drafting this post (yesterday). I was seated comfortably in the bus otw to work so I thought I would squeeze in a mindless update on wedding preps…

so two things have been settled/booked: shoes and flights!

love at first sight

credits: Shamsydar Ani Photography

I really loved this pair of shoes when I saw the photo. unfortunately by then, they were starting to be OOS at Charles and Keith. so I turned to Carousell. saw that a seller was selling them in size 38, so I got them! $35, not too shabby right? they arrived via courier yesterday and alhamdulilah they fit ok. in real life they’re not as glittery though, but hopefully once they hit the light etc, they’ll look more glam 🙂

booked our flights!

alhamdulilah, our flights are settled!!! exciting nye. insyaAllah, we fly off on the Monday night after our wedding. in the beginning, our honeymoon was supposed to be 2-3 weeks after the wedding. but after my future SIL got married and flew off for her honeymoon within the following week, ninja groom pun ter-influenced to move our honeymoon earlier 😀 so inside I very happy lah. as an office worker i’m just glad I don’t have to return to work on say Tuesday with my inai still in its full-ish glory heh.

did you know that there are websites out there dedicated to discussing which are the best seats to choose in an aeroplane? yep. airlines will usually say which aircraft they’re using, so you can search for your airline + aeroplane model, or just input your flight number on these websites. since we are doing a long haul flight, I decided to consult these websites before selecting our seats.




ok excuse the image quality. this was me taking photos of SeatExpert on my laptop screen and sending them to ninja groom for his opinion. you can see the different colour codes… white = average seat, green = above average, yellow = mixed reviews, orange = below average, red = beware. of cos airlines will sell the more spacious seats for an extra fee. for those of us who aren’t looking to top up for better seats, the charts are more useful to know which seats to avoid.

anyway, I ended up cross-referring to another website which didn’t agree that the three green seats were really above average, so I picked us normal/boring central seats some rows further behind. apparently someone/some people were booking same time as I was, cos some seats disappeared upon refresh. for a flight that’s 5 months away, quite a lot of seats have already been selected boo.

also happy to report that we hit our credit card spend/travel hacking target. reaaally hope the miles we’ve earned can redeem us at least one return ticket to NZ for next year!

so yep, that’s the story of our flights. so excited that’s it’s slowly materialisinggg 😀 ❤ thank you, you! I've already gotten in-principle approval for my leave. insyaAllah I'll just be working for 2 days in May 2015 bebeh! aaand I realised much later that the Monday that I was supposed to return to work on, is a public holiday – Vesak Day. so I get an extra day off… gerek ah. only thing is that my pre-wedding leave is only from the Wednesday onwards. cos I stingy heh. it's gonna be tight but hopefully I'll pull through. fighting!