Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moving On

Truthfully, I've been harboring a deep dark secret for a few months now. As you all know, the oil and gas industry isn't doing really well now, with layoffs happening left right and center.

The Dutch Oil Company had their own reorganization November last year. It was a job placement (people couldn't choose which jobs they wanted to do) and it was based on merit and previous individual performance (so they said). During the said reorganization, I was told that my project would be 'ring fenced', hence everyone working on that project wouldn't have to worry about new job placements. All we needed to do was to focus on delivering the project successfully.

During the same reorganization, I was also told that they had found me a new assignment post current project. Which was extremely good news because it meant that I had job security.

Fast forward to just 6 months later, everyone in the project were given 'at risk' letters. We were given ramp down duration and last day on payroll dates. What's worse was for the team to find out that all available jobs were taken up during the last reorg and hence there were none left for us leaving the current project. What's even worse was... the next job offer that they had promised me back in November was no longer on table (due to legal issues which I had no part in, which I will not divulge here as it involves another staff). I felt as if the carpet was pulled right under me. After more than 10 years in the company, I never imagined that I would have to leave in these circumstances. I mean, I always knew that I wanted to resign before I was 40 to concentrate on the kids and the household. But I didn't count on leaving when I was 34, and especially not on my terms!

The first week was depressing. I was extremely bitchy and fuming angry. How can the company give me an 'at risk' letter and still expect for me to deliver my best for the project? Such bad timing, especially since it was just 2 months before I was due to go offshore. I snapped at everyone (and everything). I panicked! Hubby and I started looking at our finances and made plans in case we were driven down to a single income household. It was not just about the money, but it was also about the benefits, specifically medical, that the family had enjoyed since the start.

The second week I was cynical and bitter. Every opportunity I had, I took a stab at the company and the circumstances. By the third week, I guess I finally came to my senses. I took a day off just to update my CV and submit applications. At the end of the day I forced myself to find peace. In other words, redha. God knows best.

In all my prayers to Allah, I prayed for him to show me the path forward. "If the best for myself, my family and my religion is for me to continue in the company, then please help me secure a new job placement. If the best for myself, my family and my religion is to not continue in the company, then please help me accept this fact graciously, ease my heart and grant me rezeki in any other form or manner."

Well I guess Allah decided that the former was the best for me. (He probably took pity on Hubby as I am such a shopaholic!) Alhamdulillah after several grueling interviews, I managed to land a new role which will start on the 1st of September.

Although the role is much more commercial than what I'm used too, it is still quite technical in nature. Without getting into too much detail, all I can say is I will still be crunching numbers... but the dollars and cents kinda numbers. It is very much a development role for me, as I will be exposed to a discipline that is quite foreign for me. But ultimately it will equip me with skills to be a better project engineer and future project manager.

Not everything is rosy in the Dutch Oil Company now. As I enjoy my last few days of offshore leave, I received news that most of my Upstream buddies were given their second round of 'at risk' letters and news of an imminent wave of reorganization. It is a very depressing time for most of my friends, and all I can do is to doakan the best for them, and pray that Allah grants them strength to go through this next reorganization round.

Kunfayakun - if it is meant to be, it will be. God is great.

Surreal... after 8 great years, I will bid goodbye to the Upstream world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Green Screen

Hello hello hello!

Yesterday was certainly an eventful day for me. It was my first green screen group interview! (Or should I say debate?)

As a blogger, I've been blessed with the experience of being interviewed in front of the camera, interviewed in a press conference, and acted in a video shoot. But this time around, Nuffnang decided to test my limits yet again!

Malaysiakini held a tri-party debate among hard core users of iPhone, Samsung and Huawei, and there was certainly no surprise on which camp I was fighting for. Each smartphone brand was represented by two participants, and we were all provided with some background questions so we could do our own research.

The green screen magically became a blue screen on TV!

Dry run session in the morning.

After hair and make up.

The first time we shot the first few questions, the crew pulled everyone out and told us to stop being so proper and polite. They wanted drama... blood and tears, the whole works. (Ok fine I'm exaggerating but you get the gist). So we were asked to re-shoot the whole thing all over again. Needless to say, it ended with Pokeballs being thrown at each other, mic drops and even a blue wig came out (say what???!!) *giggles*

Anyway, I had a crazy fun time with everyone. I won't get into the details just yet, but stay tuned for the full video, soon to be released on Malaysiakini. (As usual, be kind on the critics! Especially since we had to act outside of our comfort zones, to make it an interesting, dramatic and viral-worthy for everyone. But don't worry, in the end we all remained friends. *chuckles* )

Funny moment during the shoot.

Group shot at the end.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Random Ramblings

Happy Sunday peeps. As you can see, I've been spending my offshore leave catching up on backdated posts. So here's a brief update on what I've been up to during my time at home.

I mentioned our house renovation briefly in this post. And yessssss it is finally going full swing! They started just two days before I came home and in just a week and a bit, most of the wet works are done. If you don't know what we're up to, here's a brief recap. The plan is to break the patio to make a new dining hall, while the current dining hall will be turned into a family hall. Hence the TV in the living hall will be moved to the back, so the living hall becomes more 'formal', and guests can chat properly without being distracted by the kids watching Disney Channel!

Still keeping to the subject of renovations, I spent my first weekend at dry land hunting for new furniture. I think age has finally caught up to me; I find myself admiring mirror furniture and chesterfield sofas. I went to check out SSF for mirror coffee tables and consoles... Nearly pengsan looking at the price. On the other hand, we were driving to Denai Alam to order curtains when we saw a signage pointing to a furniture warehouse sale. I went there with zero expectations and zero intentions (siap boleh main Pokemon Go lagi when we arrived). Pandang everything sebelah mata until my eyes landed on the one and only piece worth staring at. It was a suede chesterfield sofa. Hubby joked with the shopkeeper, "Nie kalau jual RM600 saya beli". I gelak gelak jer. Well guess what?? Since we started at such a low price (we were joking, seriously!), he sold it to us for 1K. We bought it on the spot! (Lepas tuh sekarang pening kepala mana nak campak our old sofa uurrghhhh!!!)

Sneak preview of our sofa. Wait for the official reveal later!

Even Ian is holding a four digit price tag!

Wannabe Avatars!

I took advantage of my offshore leave to fulfill some blogging expectations. I was at Malaysiakini early this week. To get there I had to drive by several factories, but when I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Malaysiakini office. A homely office with unfinished walls, quirky graffiti/sketches and a laid back ambience. Will you be reading about me in Malaysiakini anytime soon? All good things I hope! After the meeting my blog manager brought me for a damn fine banana leaf lunch at Kana Nasi Kandar. Blew my calorie count that day!

No, I'm not about to become a politician.

After more than two weeks at sea, everything looks too good to resist!

Hubby (and I) are bitten by the Pokemon Go craze. Despite my vehement attempts at deflecting the urge, I succumbed to the temptation and joined Aiden in his quest for Pikachu. Hubby's friends pulak memang gila main the game so he jumped on the bandwagon as well. I find myself driving out of the way just to get to Pokestops, and driving slowlyyyyyy (which is so unlike me) to hatch eggs. A few days ago, I actually called hubby up and the first thing I said was, "Yang! Kenape I tak boleh amik anymore balls? Dia kata the bag is full!" Hahahahahahahaha after he explained how to unload the bag baru we laughed about our conversation. And just yesterday we were soft banned because Hubby and I turned on the game on two different devices at two different locations. Berpeluh jugak when we couldn't collect balls from our usual Pokestops. In the end I calmed myself down, shut down the game and went grocery shopping. By the time I was done, it was working again. Phewww!!!

We actually turned the game into a family affair! We went to eCurve, sat down between two Pokestops (Johnny Rockets), turned on a magic egg and evolved a week's worth of Pokemon candy!

Aiden's 'calculations' for Pokemon evolutions.

Ian started potty training on Thursday. Since all our furniture and carpets were in storage for the renovation, it was a perfect time to try. (Clean ups are way easier on bare floors!) So far so good, sometimes he says "pee pee" and we rush him to the toilet. Other times he'll say "pee pee" while watching his pee streaming down his legs. *gasp* I hope he gets the hang of it soon!!!!

Still on Ian, he has somehow cultivated the habit of putting his fingers in his mouth. Every time I caution him, "Ian, finger out!", he'll calmly take it out but then fiddle his fingers near his chin as if he did nothing wrong. Macam macam perangai! Also, since Hubby started allowing him to sleep on our bed while I was away, we're having a tough time kicking him out again!!! He would bawl his eyes out in sorrow, and he would insist on holding hands - him on the mattress on the floor while hubby or me on our bed. Lenguh tangan weih! And then in the middle of the night, he would climb onto our bed, then at Subuh, Aiden pulak joins him. (Aiden memang penakut that way!)

Development wise, he's very chatty. Lovessssss watching us play Pokemon Go (poyeayonnnn), knows to answer his name and age, knows most alphabets and numbers, anddddddd stopped going to school. Yup! Since my maid came back, he refused to step foot at school again. I don't feel like forcing him (he's not even 3 yet!) so I guess I'll be doing the whole "first day of school" drama with Ian again next year.

My cheeky poyeayonnnn posing with his Pichu (Pikachu).

Aiden got some of his exam results. So far he has scored all As in his core subjects, and awaiting the last paper, Bahasa Malaysia. However, his Pendidikan Islam results were not good. If speaking Malay was a huge hurdle for my boy, imagine having to decipher jawi too. *sigh* Butttttt I have to give him credit for the below. Since jawi is written from right to left, he decided that his name and class had to be written that way too. Talk about thinking out of the box!! *chuckles*

Must give him points for creativity!

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Pray that we survive through this thick layer of dust surrounding the house, courtesy of the renovation!

Have a good week ahead!

Friday, August 19, 2016

DIY Wainscoting

After all those posts on party DIYs, a home deco DIY is probably long overdue.

Remember this post? I was in awe over how something as simple as wainscoting could add such visual interest to a room. I wanted to call my ID contractor as soon as I left the show house. Hubby on the other hand, was confident that he could do it himself.

Historically, wainscoting is a classic old decorative wall treatment that uses wood rails and panelling for the bottom half of interior walls. In general, there are two types of wainscoting. There is the method of applying thin strips of trim directly to the wall to create the illusion of wainscoting. The other is the application of (bead)boards capped by another kind of horizontal trim called chair rails (to protect walls from damage in case chairs were tipped/pushed back to the wall).

I am drawn towards the modern application of wainscoting, hence I prefer the former. Just sleek pleasing lines to boost the aesthetic composition of my bare walls.

DIY wainscoting is pretty simple, especially if you know your way around an electric saw. Surprisingly, it will not dent a hole in your pocket. What you need (other than the said saw) are:
  • strips of wooden trim
  • paint
  • filler (you can use wood filler, but I used a wall filler and it worked out just fine)
  • sandpaper
  • masking tape
  • nails (and nail gun)
  • liquid nails
  • measuring tape 
  • and a flair for precise measurements!
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules to DIY wainscoting. The key is to get a seamless finish (attainable using filler) and to ensure that everything is symmetrical in size.

First, measure the wall and sketch your desired wainscoting. Remember that bit about being symmetrical? A bit of math is required to ensure identical width in between the trims. Don't forget to take into account a suitable gap between the wainscoting and the floor/edge of the wall.

Something simplistic as this works too.

Using a sandpaper, sand the wooden trims in a back and forth pattern with the grain. If your wall requires a fresh coat of paint, this is the time to do it. The trims you bought will need to be painted too (if not yet done by the shop). We chose matte (instead of glossy) white. Leave to dry.

Matte white.

This cheeky boy was very hand-on.

The painted trims.

Next, cut the wooden trims using an electric saw. In the pictures below, we used a manual saw. It was agonizing; not the sawing bit but rather matching the alignment of the trims. If you can, get a jigsaw electric saw to get a perfect 45deg cut. I recommend aligning the trims on the floor to make a perfect box before attempting to nail them in.

Precise measurements.

After we used the manual saw a few times, we gave up, went out and bought an electric saw!

Aligning the trims on the floor.

After you're happy with the alignment, apply some liquid nails to the back of the trim and stick them to the wall. The liquid nail acts as a guide for your alignment, but is not meant as the final attachment to your wall. This is where the nails come in handy. You can use a nail gun, or just hammer in the nails like we did. This is the crucial part. I had to be (literally) hands on all the time for this. It's not just about holding it down, but you have to ensure that the hammering doesn't move the trim. The other headache is if you have uneven walls. We had a patch of uneven wall right at the edge, and we simply couldn't hammer the darn trim in - it kept bouncing out. In the end we had to cut the trim into two and hammer them in separately.

I had to hold the trims in place while Hubby hammered the nails in.

Next, is cover up time! Cover all alignment gaps using a filler and when dry, paint over the filled patches. You can use a masking tape to prevent your touch up paint from smearing your newly painted walls. We did that the first few times but I gave up after a while as it was too tedious. In the end I used a small artist paint brush (from Aiden's art class) and carefully painted the filled edges and trims. And you know how OCD I am right??? Let's just say it took me a longgggg time before I was finally happy with the touch ups.

The mess we made in the living hall.

Removing the masking tape.

End of day one. Halfway done!

End of day two... finally done!

Our biggest cost for this whole project were the wooden trims. We bought an electric saw too, but that is an investment (so it doesn't count)! It took us nearly two days to complete the whole thing. Could have been faster, but we took our own sweet time.

Have fun, DIY-ing!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Aiden & Ian's Star Wars Birthday Party - Event Pictures

So here's Part 2 of Aiden and Ian's Star Wars birthday party. (If you missed Part 1 - the DIY details of the party, read it here.)

Just our luck, there was another party scheduled in the morning of our party. Hence it meant we had to wait for them to clear out before we could set up. Although we had loaded and prepared all we could the day before, it still gave us only about an hour to not just get the deco up and ready, but to also allow Kizsport to clear the room from all the mess from the prior party. To add to the headache, I actually invited everyone an hour earlier than the actual scheduled time, to cater for the janji melayu crowd.

Unfortunately, (or should I say fortunately?) the Malays made me proud that day. Nearly everyone arrived promptly at 12. The Kizsport crew were still sweeping the floor, my dear neighbors were setting up the food stations while my sister in laws and I were running around like headless chickens putting the finishing touches on the kids' tables and dessert table. Memang kelam kabut la, no wonder I forgot to put on the pennant banner and turn on Darth Vader's mask.

The welcome signage at the entrance.

Princess Leia wannabes.

My very 'helpful' sister in laws. *giggles* Well actually, they are so used to my needs and wants hence they were taking photos of every single inch of the dessert table, as back up in case the photographer missed a few details.

By 1230, the crowd got even bigger. I had hoped that the kids would head to the play area first to sweat it out, but noooooo everyone wanted to get straight into the party. We couldn't allow anyone into the party room until everything was ready, but you could feel their eyes on us as we scrambled to get things done. Syed from Kizsport was awesome, he bought some time by getting the kids to line up for the entrance march. I had planned for kids to march in, serenaded by the Imperial March. It went perfectly as planned, although for the life of me I couldn't remember who turned on the music on at that exact time.

Imagine all those eyes watching your every move.

The entrance march, led by Aiden Skywalker.

Ian Skywalker had his own escort.

From the march in, we got straight to cake cutting. Initially, Ian got lost in the crowd, until someone 'rescued' him and passed him into my arms. You will notice in the following pictures that he was barely smiling. Not because he was forgotten, but rather because he was still at an age where he hadn't grasped the idea of smiling. Yup, he only started smiling in pictures just last month. *chuckles*

Ian was not impressed with the fireworks candle.

I had to help Aiden with the cake, cos it was elevated and all. Kalau jatuh, Daddy yang nangis nanti. 

Happy birthday Aiden and Ian!

After cake cutting, the kids started eating. For some strange reason, even with 60 tables we didn't have enough seats for everyone. Some children were also too young to eat independently so there were parents crowding around their kids too. Note to self: must get bigger party room next year!

Food was absolutely awesome. A dear neighbour who is also an excellent cook agreed to cater for the event. Other than the normal finger food for kids, we provided a scrumptious and filling lunch for the parents: nasi lemak, bihun goreng, roti jala with kari ayam and kuih melayu. I'm glad we decided to provide a heavy lunch because most of the adults came back for seconds while their kids were busy wrecking havoc at the play gym. *smiles*

Kids enjoying the themed masks and light sabers.

Stormtrooper waiting for his lunch.

Birthday Jedi brandishing his light saber.

While the guests were eating, we were busy posing!

Tak sempat nak carik light saber sendiri, kena share with my better half too!

After everyone's tummies were filled with good food, I turned to Syed to ask him to proceed with the party games. Imagine my shock when he told me that I didn't arrange for him to conduct such a thing! (I must have thought that the kids would spend the rest of their day running around the play area.) Like I said, Syed is such a godsend. I requested to add that on to the party package and he agreed on the spot! Impromptu habisssss. Note to self again: play gym may not be good enough for the kids. Must have additional activities too!

I don't know what sort of games Syed organized in such a short span of notice, but pictorial evidences suggested that the kids (and their parents!) certainly had a good time. Somewhere in the middle of the party, Hubby and I got dragged to sit on a parachute. (Ian was fast asleep by then.) But other than that, I barely set foot into the games area. It gave me great comfort knowing Syed was entertaining the kids, that I was actually able to socialize with my guests!

Birthday boy in action.

Very interactive crowd!

Interactive parents too! *giggles*

Happy kids.

Us on a parachute.

Ian was fast asleep by this time.

Birthday boy queuing for a hit at the pinata.

Check out the longgggggg line.

Our pinata received quite a few whacks before it finally split into two and fell to the floor.

A hugeeeeeeeee thank you to everyone who made the time to celebrate both Aiden and Ian. This was the first time we allowed Aiden to issue invitations all on his own, so I may have missed greeting a few parents. Not because I was too busy or anything, but because I wasn't sure whether they were guests (or just public patrons at the play gym) or parents of which child. But I certainly recognized Aiden's friends and guests! 

With my stepsister and her friend.

The BBGS gang, missing a few.

Selfie with Mr Stormtrooper.

The gang pagar sekolah!

Last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to the back bone of the party; my neighbours! I don't know what I would do without them, but heck, I owe them big time.

The very supportive neighbours.

What would I do without this awesome peeps.

Big hugs all around!

One more for the camera.

The kiddos after the party.

Toys to last Aiden for the next five years. *giggles*

Aiden opening his birthday present from Mummy and Daddy.

Someone's a happy boy!!!

Till next year's party (and headache), thanks for reading! :)
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