Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bali, here there and everywhere

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Mother

You are the mother I received the day I wed your son.
And I just want to thank you, Mom, for all the things you've done.
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You have given me a gracious man with whom I share my life.
You are his lovely mother and I his lucky wife.
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You used to pat his little head and now I hold his hand.
You raised in love a little boy then gave to me a man.

Dedicated to my Mother in Law

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Weekend full of kids!

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Friday, 19 February 2010

School Shopping

I've been delaying this task for ages. Now, the "ages" has passed and all of a sudden this task become a unmaskable interrupt, the first priority on my to-do list.

Why did I delayed it till date? A lot of things. First of all, I only shop for fee-paying school (aka. Independent School) mainly because to get a place in state govern school one must stay in the catchment area of that school (and all of the state school nearby our area are really bad but, I am too lazy to move just for that sole reason). Secondly is my husband job situation. Since I've resigned as the sole bread winner in the family, my husband job and career will be our main interest. So, if we have to move because of his workplace we are prepared to do that.

Initally we are interested to get my son admitted in Winchester House School, primarily because of it's strong christian ethos. However, it's located rather out of my way to office so regretfully I have to withdraw the option. The second option will be either Quinton House school (about 10 min from our house) or Grove Independent School (about 15 min from my current work place). None of them are christian school but both taught good manner and disciple to children. So in a couple more weeks time we'll be busy with school open day and reading school prospectus.

I must admit there is a part of me which sort of yelling why make a big deal out of this school matters, he is just 4 year old, this is not as serious as picking college or university. But my own personal experience does say children who attend good primary school stand a better chance entering a good secondary school, and then getting a place in a good college.

Anyway... moving away from school matters. My son has recently become very chatty lately. He make sentences and able to use long words like "disappear", "beautiful", "delicious" or "impressive". But I guess as little kiddy, sometimes the meaning of these word is not exactly apparent to him. He like to say "beautiful movie" while what he means it is a good or interesting movie. He can count to 20 now, except that he often miss thriteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and just simply jump to twenty.

Another update is I just did my appraisal with my boss in office, and the result is very good. I've done better than last year (and only spend 1 day off sick all through-out the year!). Let's hope that appraisal materialise a bit... like... errr... an increase?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Color Enhance

I love to take picture. I guess that is a "public" secret. My idea of taking picture is to treasure the moment forever, the cheap way of course. Imagine if you are travelling to many places around the world, buying souveniers probably nice, but those that I like either need to drop a few zeros behind the asking price, or does not fit inside my suitace (yes one time I wanted a water fountain!) or... simply useless (like tons of keychain when you only have 1 house key).

That's why I like to take just picture, it's inexpensive (you can survive with second hand DSLR and lens like me), the only problem is only the weight...especially when you only have 2 hand and there is an extra load of 16kg bottomless eating machine that continue wanting your attention. I reckon the compact camera designer must be thinking of me when they create pocket camera.

Anyway, recently I installed a new GIMP and find this cool operation called "Colour Enhance". You can find it under Colour tab->Auto->Colour Enhance. This operation can magically transform your dull coloured picture into a vivid award winning quality! (no I am just joking, but believe me, it does help). I used to like to enhance the saturation, but this "Colour enhance" did something more.

For example we went to wales and capture this lovely picture which has beautiful but superdull-coloured looking backdrop.
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What can you do?
Unfortunately colour enhance makes human skin looks unnatural.So first, I normally select the person inside the picture using the "scissors" tool. Mark the selection by pressing ENTER key, and then INVERT the selection.
Then here comes the exciting part. Execute Colour Enhance and watch your backdrop changes it's colour.
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Notice the difference?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Here goes again

I have been a good girl last night, slept late doing my housework and wake up early editting some blog pics to show you all. Our family get over the disappointment feeling over my husband job situation. Nothing changes really, it's just us who now be able to accept the reality that even with TWO job offer (or even with ten) he won't be able to start his job until his student visa is converted to working visa (even when legally a PhD student who has submitted his thesis can work full time). However it's a bit tricky to convert it as he must get a graduation certificate from Oxford University which has notorious bureaucracy (should call this bureau-crazy instead). Which I count as the only negative thing about being in Oxford. So he is speaking about a 3-4 month wait of doing nothing.

Fortunately, our gracious Lord has moved his supervisor to give him a pay during this time, and some of his buddy has come to him asking his availability doing some part time job.

Now, let's move on to some updates. We've been doing a bit of Wales short vacation (and yes, to that same old place, Conwy Castle and Caernarfon Castle). Thank God that once again we saw a very bright and sunny day.
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We also have a pleasant surprise when our university back in sg come to visit us. My son really fond of him. He had never been this sweet to a new visitor who just sat in our sofa for a mere 5 minutes.
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And I had completely forgotten of Valentines day! (or Chinese New Year). One good excuse is because we hardly celebrate those (since restaurant, flower, chocolate, are so expensive either that or the store are closed for CNY). However, we did a V-day shot for our pastor and his beautiful wife.
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Keen to meet them? now come to Lifegate Baptist church in Corby, UK at 10.30am on sunday morning. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Feeling down

Apologise for the lack of update at hand.
Feeling rather down (and a bit mellow) at the moment. So many things to do, and so many problem to face. But I am glad, my Lord is always encourage me through friends, family or even stranger.

Recently I've been following a journal of Eric Ludwinski (you can read it here). A fortunante boy to be chosen among many to spread God's blessing, even to unknown, distant stranger like me.
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Here is his mom entry on the 14'th Feb marking Valentines Day after 20 year old Eric relapse and go home with the Lord few days ago :

A Grief Observed

I have been so terrified of grief. Final and total and complete grief. I was so afraid I would be completely incapacitated. I was afraid of the searing pain. How could I possibly manage to still function, and be a loving and fully engaged wife and mother? Suffering already for months from such severe dread, knowing Erik's days were numbered, I needed to talk to my friend Mary--so sweet, loving, soft-spoken, sincere Mary. Mary is such a beautiful Godly woman. I need to ask her these hard questions. How can I survive the loss of a child? How is that even possible?


Since last May (when a new spot showed on Erik's hip--first time he progressed on chemo) I knew that we would be facing his death sooner or later. Until then it seemed he might just keep beating back this wretched disease. I thought of it as mowing the grass--we can't get the roots out but can't we just keep mowing it down? He was doing so well. No one believed he was fighting cancer--going to college fulltime, acing his classes, creating art and music, traveling, loving every minute of his wonderful life.


Parents who hear that cancer is the reason their previously beautiful, healthy child is sick begin to immediately grieve in earnest. At diagnosis it is too early for most parents to comprehend the difference between a "good" prognosis or a "bad" prognosis. It all sounds bad because they used the word cancer.

In 1991 a child with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma was given perhaps 10% chance of living a few years. It wasn't even that rosy for Erik however, because of his age and unfavorable tumor characteristics. Our cute little boy was clobbered with two cycles of high-dose chemo (cisplat and cyclo), and we were devastated to be told his tumor didn't shrink, and consequently nothing would work. We were given not even a shadow of a hope that he would survive.

So the good doctors tried a new pilot protocol, and after 7 more cycles of high-dose chemo, surgery and radiation, he was in remission and eligible for a bone marrow transplant. I'll never forget how discouraged I was praying with Paul about the consent for the BMT. According to an Italian study that had just been published in 1992 with 400 kids--those who had BMT lived an average of 12 months, and those without transplant lived 14 months...would we chose something that could shorten his life?

In spite of us, our gut-wrenching decisions, a gloomy prognosis, God healed Erik anyway. Only suffering profound high-pitched hearing loss, Erik grew up. He was so tall, handsome, smart, friendly, talented--so enthusiastic about everything. He wanted to make a garden, dig a swimming pool, build a helicopter, travel to Malaysia. He was adventurous.


So my grief turned to joy. Erik didn't die! He lived!

Thirteen years later, an awful Mother's Day arrived. Erik, now a sophomore engineering student at NDSU, came home to surprise me even though he had tough finals the following week. He had a plane ticket for a week later and was already packed to spend the summer building homes in a dump in Mexico for the homeless. His lips were so pale. We saw him on his back on the trampoline so frustrated how out of breath he got trying to do his signature back flips. His hips hurt walking up the stairs to his dorm room.

Cancer again. Grief again. Nausea, headaches from crying, sleeplessness, finally falling asleep only to wake suddenly and realize that this nightmare is real, again. Only worse. So few survived first diagnosis, and almost none survive relapse.

And the grief of knowing what he was to suffer again. He really didn't remember how bad the chemo was--but I did. My heart broke at all that he would endure again.

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So much happened in the next 4 years and 9 months. I copied some of this journal into a Word document and it is over 200 pages! So much happened. What was most significant? While there is so much to tell, the grandest story is the miracle of a spiritual healing--God won over and healed Erik's sweet soul. Erik fell in love with Jesus and wanted only to glorify Him. Slowly, surely, mightily, God did a magnificent work in Erik.

But the grieving continued, mounted, tried to ruin me, even while I rejoiced in awe of what was happening before my eyes.

I have clung to Erik since I first held his tiny body next to mine. I hovered over him to make sure he was still breathing as an infant. I hovered over him in his last days as he struggled to breathe. Yes, my heart is broken.

But God gave the right words to Mary in December when I asked her--how do I do this? She held my hands up and said I needed to release Erik to God. She told me how God prepared her--and now he was preparing me.


Even though I agreed with my mind that God is wise, His plan is perfect, that he is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we ask or imagine....my heart still refused to accept that He would take Erik. I just dug in my heals and refused to let him go. Which explains why I was so afraid.


Just like clinging to a rock in the rapids. You can cling all you want but it doesn't change the outcome--you are going to be washed off that rock. You can go willingly or unwillingly, your choice.

Somehow, miraculously, Mary's words at that moment clicked something in my brain, in my heart, in my spirit. I suddenly, finally, truly got it.


I could breathe.


The crushing weight on my chest I had struggled with for more than 6 months lifted. My refusal to accept what God is doing was only hurting me. Just like racing down the rapids backwards!

So that is my story. In sad, despairing moments I almost wish Erik didn't love me so much because it only makes me cry more to think --why should I have had such a son?

Then I praise God. God in His Infinite Goodness gave us Erik! And his example of gratitude infuses our family with joy even in this terrible sadness.


Praise to God forever!


We thank God for you Erik!

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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Kecak

Of all the dances seen on Bali today, the Kecak dance is perhaps the most dramatic.
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The Kecak Dance tells the Indian story of Ramayana. Rama, a warrior and rightful hier to the throne of Ayodya, is exiled with his wife Sita to a faraway desert. There, an evil king spies Sita, falls in love with her, and sends a golden deer to lure Rama away. Sita is captured, and Rama rounds up his armies to defeat those of the evil king and rescue her. Rama is the man in green dancing in the center of the circle, the golden deer is in yellow in the back.
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What makes the Kecak such a fascinating dance to watch are the fifty or so men in the checkered pants. They are both the choir and the props, providing the music for the story in a series of constant vocal chants that change with the mood of the actors. They don't sit still, either, they wave their arms to simulate fire, and reposition themselves around the stage to represent wind and fire, prison cells, and unseen hand of protection from the gods.
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Here in Pura Luhur Uluwatu (uluwatu temple), you can pay Rp.80,000 to watch this beautiful dance with the sunset backdrop over the indian ocean. Let me tell you, it's one of the most memorable experience to hear those male voices mixed with "tembang" narrated by the soloist inbetween.
The dance is played in five acts and lasts roughly 45 minutes. Weekly (in some places daily) performances of the Kecak abound around the island, but the most well-known Kecak theater is in the town of Batubulan just north of the Balinese capital of Denpasar. The dance company provides transportation for a nominal fee to and from the resort.
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And the climax, and the best scene (even according to a 3 year old!) is when Anoman, the white monkey, escape from being burned to death.
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Wanted to get to know the kecak dancer/singer closely?
Apparently they are VERY loud. When this picture was taken, they are singing "cak...cak...cak...cak...cak", my son was startled and hold tight to his dad. But that explain how the song can be audibly clear without sound system.
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Monday, 8 February 2010

Good news!

Few good news everyone. First of all let me tell you that my husband has got his first job offer! I would like to thank everyone who prayed for him, I am sure every prayer counts. He is still on few other interview, so we will know which one he decides to take.
But I must say, this is a very strange case, because the HR dept has already rejected him. I'll tell the story another day.

Secondly is I got this award from Stardust! I want to thank her for tagging me, even though I must say there is loads to improve, especially my writting skill (which can be very boring too). I thank God for sweet blogging friends like you all :-)
With this I would like to tag 3 other people.



1. Jungle Hut, a missionary wife and a mother over in Amazon jungle. She scribble funny story, exotic experience while sharing gospel to the red indian.

2. HOPE, a mother, a wife, and a christian soldier who currently battling cancer. She wrote inpiring notes about how trial bestow her faith to her Lord.

3. Snow Catcher, she shares loads of pictures of God's wonderful creation. With her bike, she went to places I never dream exist. And she said, when she saw snow on the tip of the mountain, or frozen dew on the grass, she just saw the fingerprints of God!

Now the rules,

Upload the picture on blog, pass it on, and don't forget that it originates from here.