Christmas gifts for my young ladies!
How time flies! It's going to be Christmas next week and I'm not even halfway done with my Christmas shopping. Every year I will try to get the perfect gifts for my kids: now 2 young ladies and a pre-teen boy. Imagine, just a few years ago they were these small and would be content to get toys or books for their Christmas gifts!


 Not anymore! "Mom" has more headache trying to get them the right gifts. Then mom come across this link christmas gifts online items, and voila! problem solved! (Shhhh...the girls can't know about this or their surprise will be ruined!)

These gifts are really exciting for the feminine ladies-the girly girl type which loves everything related to fashion and cute stuffs. Are my girls the girly types? Hmm...at times yes. The girl in blue, Arielle has grown to be a 14 year old who loves dresses. She is quite choosy though. As they say, a dress-girl dresses in a way that portrays their elegant yet adorable character. Oh, that's so my Arielle. 


As for Sandra, she does love dresses but since she is a big-sized girl, it's not always easy to get her sizes (well, she takes after her mom. We plus sizes are sometimes not so lucky). But hey, this site has our sizes! Hallelujah :)

And make-ups too! Sandra and I love make ups. Being the new era teen, she has some tricks that her mom doesn't know...so mom has resorted to learning to put on make-up from her. Especially mascara and eye-liner. Oh well, every woman will always need makeup. Whether the basic essentials or a complete set consisting of lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow or palettes, a woman will always never say no to a makeup gift set received on Christmas. The vain me needs make up for work to help cover up a few spots on my tired morning face. The need doubles up for dinner events, and weddings. Haha I am not that feminine but I will never be caught out without at least having a slight hint of makeup on. Vain vain vain. I guess I'll get some make-ups for my own Christmas gifts as well...

Oh, and the bags are just awesome! For a bag person like me, this is perfect! There's only one small problem though. I get so blinded by the vast array of choices they offer. At times like this, this tip is useful "Choose a handbag which closely represents the  character of the person, and let them show it off in front of others. The tip to select a perfect handbag is to purchase a handbag with sleek detailing with an expensive appearance. For a safe choice, opt for colours such as black, cream, white or brown..." I've always thought that you can never go wrong with black anyway :D

Gifts taken care of for my young ladies. Still left with the headache of getting one for the boy and the Dad. In fact there're also others to get for other family members in kampung, as the big extended family will gather again at my mom's place this Christmas. (My mom has had a total-knee-replacement operation on 24.11.2014. As it is she is still not very mobile, so everyone kindly offered to come over to her house for our family Christmas (another typical Dusun gathering with lots of foods, drinks (moderate hopefully!) and musics. Oh gosh, I think I'm starting to get into the mood. Yay!)

Merry Christmas all. Here's wishing you joy, peace and love!
 
 
Another wedding story
Part I
Last year through to this year, a lot of weddings happened in my extended family. My 6th brother’s wedding (that’s the wedding of Nathanael to my beautiful sister-in-law, Jennifer), took place in February 2013, during which, I got the chance to organize a traditional Bundu wedding  ceremony  for the first time.  Not without hassles. My mom wasn’t very supportive because being a staunch Catholic, she would rather just stick to the church’s sacrament of holy matrimony tradition. But she didn’t discourage me either, so I got my wish anyway.
I had to find elderly folks to research how the traditional Bundu weddings were conducted in those days. There were a few versions but since there were going to be weddings in the family after my brother’s, I set to experiment with two versions: the panau ceremony (literally means ‘walk’), and the papasalakoi do pinorikot ceremony (welcoming home the bride). So my 6th brother went through the panau ceremony which turned out to be imperfect but meaningful. Why imperfect? Because I, myself, had to be one of the party singing the traditional poetic songs ‘tondiadi’ for the wedding! With my lame karaoke voice, it was a struggle to hit high and low notes with deep emotion. And the lady I was singing the song to (bless you aunty Rusiah), had a stage fright so bad that she forgot her lyrics while singing J. We were saved by the collective spirit of the community in the end…every lady my mom's age ended up backing us up in a harmonious choir!
In August 2013, I got to conduct another panau ceremony for my dear cousin, Tata and her husband Kay. This time around, the experiment took a different turn. Many people were starting to support my ‘fancy activity’ (as they termed it). I convinced my aunty Mairin to sing one part of the tondiadi while one of my late grandmother’s best friend, Mdm Kusoi sang the response part. Turned out to be a bit mismatched because Mdm Kusoi (who we fondly call Ganakau, as it was a name she and my late grandma called each other) is Penampang born and her rites are based on the place she is from. But it went well anyway. We had a bit of an innovation here…instead of walking the bride and groom back to the reception place, they were ceremoniously driven in a car. It’s modern day after all!

Part II
Other cousins got married, Andy to Vera, Jack to Iris, Ireneus to Kelvity. The clan is growing bigger, a blessing indeed. And so on 24.05.2014, my 5th brother Jewin married the love of his life, Marion Elyy. The church wedding at the bride’s was followed by a Chinese traditional ceremony, as Elyy’s dad is Chinese. Beautiful…beautiful ceremony it was. Sense of humour defines the bride and groom, and the ceremony was also humorous in many ways. Why, Jewin had to sing his feelings on that day as one of the obstacles he had to go through before getting to Elyy’s bedroom. Imagine how hilarious it was to see the groom, donned in an apron and oversized boxing gloves, singing a church song “hari ini ku rasa bahagia” (Today I feel happy) eagerly so that he could claim his bride! On top of that his 12 male  companions had to dance to the song, some of them in ladies dresses as required by the ‘demanding’ and ‘firm’  female protectors of Elyy who were actually only teenagers. Ini kali lah! (This is it- a Sabahan expression to show the intensity of an event, among others). I supposed he must have felt a great relief when he was finally given the most coveted pass to claim his bride.

At the reception night I finally got to meet all my brother’s best friends from the time he was in the university till the time he worked in Penang.  Some, I have met before like Fabian William, the celebrated singer and his wife,  Nelly. But others, I have only heard of or see virtually like Walter, Johnny, Guns, Aguk,  and Brandon. The saying “birds of the same feathers flock together” must be really true. I got the impression that all of Jewin’s friends are just like him! Good singers, loyal, fun, active/dynamic, and a little bit crazy (in a good way). (Well, Brandon did admit that yours truly the big sister has that ‘crazy’ side too ;). Crazy runs in the family apparently.
I conducted my third Bundu traditional wedding ceremony on 31.05.2014. This time around, I followed version two, papasalakoi do pinorikot  (Welcoming the bride home). Instead of the groom going over to the bride’s place to get her, the bride was taken to the groom’s home. Since my aunty Dumie of Dad’s side couldn’t make it, I forced my youngest aunty Collesta to sing the tondiadi. This time around, I got aunty Dumie who is in her 70s to check and  correct the lyrics that I got from earlier informants. (I thank my cousin Helena for being our instrument via FB correspondence).  Aunty Mairin was still doing the other part. On the day of the ceremony, aunts Mairin and Collesta were joined by another aunty, aunt Majulinah (mama Bundu Tuhan) and a dear neighbor Mdm Gundiba to do the singing. Everything was perfect during the preparation…they practiced for about an hour, and I wasn’t worried at all about them not being able to pull it off.
The moment came. Elyy’s family members from Keningau arrived. From my aunty’s place about 200m away, we sent Elyy off to my Dad’s house. The gong beating was beautiful, the four decoys were beautifully made up. We walked over to my Dad’s house, to the waiting guests who were family members and friends, including my Dad’s ex-colleagues while he was a teacher years ago. While Elyy’s family members were served the lihing (traditional rice wine) in suki (bamboo glass), my cousins and I worked fast to cover Elyy and the decoys with sarongs for Jewin to identify after the tondiadi. (At this point, I think my brother was at his wits end waiting for the ceremony to start. Who could blame the cranky groom anyway, after being locked up in his room for two hours throughout lunch time? (On my instruction because I didn’t want him to cheat so that he could choose his bride easily. Didn’t expect us to be too long that the lunch was delayed!).

The aunts took their places and started the tondiadi. The worst thing that could ever happen to a performer unexpectedly happened! One of them forgot the tune, and the rest just lost their confidence! At that point I did something that I shouldn’t have done…I joined in the singing! Then my uncle Paladin (Peter Sanie) got impatient and joined in the singing as well. Then my mum, who can actually do the singing better than everyone else but was just too shy to do it, joined in too! (I am laughing now as I remember it). It wasn’t the perfect singing I envisioned but it was so entertaining I know I can still use it for teaching materials. Well, there are positive sides to everything, aren’t they?

Jewin finally was allowed to go out of his room to identify his bride from the 5 covered ‘ladies’ sitting on the sofa outside of the house. He was about to identify the correct one, but we convinced him that that was not her! (Yes, I cheated there. Why? Because I promised my aunt Magdalena that she could have her little revenge by making the Keningau family drink a lot. They had to drink lihing each time Jewin chose wrongly. Aunt Magdalena said in Keningau during the Chinese Wedding ceremony, the 12 companions had to drink a lot as part of the obstacles so it was only fair that we made them drink too! Point taken…that was an innovation though, not part of the original Bundu ceremony). Jewin chose all the wrong ones before he got to Elyy in the end. The only real surprises for him were to discover that one of the decoys was my 14 year old daughter Arielle, and another was our 18 year old nephew Rob. Rob played along with us just to see his uncle’s reaction. As expected, in reflex Jewin lifted his hand to threaten to slap Rob! (Again, this is an innovation. My ancestors must have turned in their graves to see us include a male decoy in the ceremony. Siou oi komolohingan ‘sorry ancestors’.) Finally, Elyy was found, and the traditional ceremony was concluded by the bride and groom’s sharing a meal. (It was another hilarious moment. I forgot to tell them that they were supposed to eat symbolically only. But because it was past lunch time, both were so hungry they ate heartily!)

It started to rain right after the traditional ceremony was over. Despite that, we had a lot of fun, as befitted a typical Dusun wedding reception- eating, drinking and  merry-making. I wish my dear brother Jewin and my new sister Marion Elyy a lifetime of happiness. No marriage is at all time sweet…but the not-so-sweet moments are meant for the couple to learn the meaning of life, to hang on to the love that brought them together in the first place. Let’s believe that love overcomes every difficulty.

As for the video, it was done by Kay Kastum, our bro-in-law, of kastumized creation. He is a pro, evidenced by him winning the My Air Asia X challenge  recently.  Every one of his videos tells a story that you will definitely appreciate. Well done talented bro-in-law (the Dusun people love bragging about their family and friends, so bear with me!) Also credits to the photographer, my cousin Crys J.P. Her passion in photography is so great she can capture moments very well!

*and so I have to stop writing because I have piles of exam papers to mark…till next time.
Lesson-packed Christmastime (24.12.13-26.12.13)
(I- Thankfulness) I'd like to begin this piece with thanks, from the bottom of my heart (and hubby's too). To Dr Heric Cory of Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2 Kota Kinabalu, Dr G. Mohan of Tuaran Hospital, Dr Ahmad ... of Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2 (whose full name I regretfully didn't catch during those moments of panic), the ambulance staff of Tuaran Hospital whose efficiency was just amazing, Dr Christina Rundi of JKNS, Dr William G. of Queen Elizabeth 2 KK, Mr. Nelbon, Mr. Nurali, Mr. Rudi, and each and everyone of hubby's colleagues and staff at JKNS. During our moments of fear and uncertainty, these kindhearted people have helped us selflessly- organizing the smooth running of medical attention to hubby, wishing him well and supporting him in prayers. To our family members, who assisted, prayed and strenghtened us in many ways, we really appreciate that.
(II- Christmas Eve 2013: the pain) Trials often come in the most unexpected moments. For myself and hubby's, it came in the form of intense stomach pain experienced by hubby minutes before we were leaving for Christmas Eve mass at our church. It was 6pm. The day started out quite normal, full of Christmas Eve anticipations, even though it was raining cats and dogs and there was flood on our main road already. Roasted chicken and vegetables nicely done in the oven, we happily got ready to leave earlier for church so that we could catch the carols before the mass. All of a sudden, hubby started rubbing his stomach, a grimace on his face. I asked him if he was ok, and he said his tummy felt uncomfortable. I casually told him that he should go to the bathroom and see if he feels better after that. He went up, and the kids and I waited downstairs. Minutes passed- "Dad calls you, Mom", the eldest daughter alerted me. Feeling that something was wrong, I quickly ran up the stairs and barged in the bedroom. My heart stopped when I found him in a kneeling position, leaning on the bed and groaning in pain. Gripped by fear, I rubbed his stomach, and felt more fear when I felt it hardening like it shouldn't be. Worse, he couldn't even move from that position. Saying random prayers, I grabbed his phone and punched 999. Once, no one picked up. Twice, still no one picked it up. I felt like howling out loud in frustration. Then he mumbled "Dr. Heric". Scrolling down the contact list as fast as I could, I pressed Dr. Heric's number, which thankfully he answered at once. (Looking back now, I know that I must have rudely interrupted whatever activity he was doing at the moment and I am so sorry for that. But I am truly grateful that he did pick up the phone). I couldn't remember what I told him, but what I remember was that he said he was in West Malaysia, asked if I have called 999, and asked if I could drive hubby myself to the emergency unit since the call to 999 wasn't picked up. I am ashamed of myself when I recall the situation now, but because of the flood, and my panic state, I knew I could never drive him in my Livina without having some sort of breakdown. Dr Heric asked me to wait as he was calling somebody from Queen to help me out. As soon as we ended the conversation, I asked hubby if there's anyone else I could call. He mumbled "Dr Mohan". I quickly called Dr Mohan, and unashamedly begged for his help. (I must have shocked him beyond words, for having answered his cheerful "Merry Christmas" with a plead, after introducing myself. Dr Mohan, my humble apologies for bad manners). He said an ambulance would be on the way shortly, which relieved me so much. One thing I remember vividly, when I asked him "what can I do to make my husband feel better"? He answered, "keep cool". It really helped me overcome my panic. I had barely ended the call with Dr Mohan when Dr Ahmad called, having been requested to do so by Dr Heric. (Dr Ahmad, I could barely register what we talked about. I couldn't even remember your full name when you introduced yourself, but one day I'd like to meet you in person to thank you and to apologise :(). All I knew was I was telling him an ambulance was being sent by Dr Mohan to our house.
(III- The ambulance ride and Emergency Unit ) Never in my wildest dream did I imagine a ride in an ambulance- neither as a patient, nor as an accompanying passenger. Not even 15 minutes after all the calls, somebody from the ambulance called me to say that they were already at our housing area and asked for specific directions to our house. By then, hubby was feeling better, and thankfully could walk down the stairs. Not knowing what to expect, I got into the ambulance passenger seat like a hypnotised person, once they arrived. (Thank goodness the kids remembered to give us big hugs before we left, with very puzzled expressions on their faces, or else I would have forgotten that too! The littlest one, who is ten, asked sadly if there was going to be presents-unwrapping at all that day. I told him that each of them was allowed to open one present if we didn't come back home by 9pm). The ambulance staff told us they were taking hubby to Queen Hospital 2, as per Dr's instruction. I wasn't very positive that we would reach there fast as it was some 25km away and I thought the flood still hadn't subsided. As soon as we got to the main road, the driver turned on the familiar blaring ambulance sound, that always works to make other drivers politely give way. In my fuzzy state of mind, I remembered thinking "oh yeah, I give way all the time when I hear this sound". I also have this habit of saying a little prayer to wish whoever it was on the ambulance a fast recovery. At that moment, I was hoping that somebody out there had the same habit and would say a little prayer for hubby. (Yes that was what desperado felt like, I finally knew). As soon as we got into the emergency unit, hubby was given an efficient treatment. I noticed that the staff were all very calm and capable. It felt a bit surreal to be in an ER, having all this while, only watched such things on TV. Being the coward me, I swear I was shaking from top to toe, just by being inside the room. I prayed hard that no serious cases like accident casualties would be brought in at that time, for I was almost sure that if I saw blood oozing out of a person, I would make a spectacle of myself by fainting. It was quite enough to see needles poking my hubby's arm, a few times. Tests after tests were conducted. It was a relief that he was no longer in pain, but I could never have my peace of mind before knowing what was wrong. About 8pm, all but one test results were out. There seemed to be nothing seriously wrong. By then I had my hope up, thinking that we would be able to go home to our kids that night. Alas, it was not meant to be. The specialists were of the opinion that he should stay in the ward for observation. Of course they have all reasons to be concerned, as they know best. While waiting for a room to be prepared, I had no choice but observed the surrounding. Most scary thing that night- the scream of somebody whose appendicitis burst! Gosh, that was the sound of pain, of suffering that (please God)I do not care to hear again. (I bet that's why God doesn't intend for me to be a doctor, and my respect for all the ER staff goes several notches up. Salute!) All the while while in ER, whatsapp messages from hubby's colleagues/friends and family members kept pouring in. I do not make it a habit to peek into hubby's private messages, let alone whatsapp groups, (although we don't keep secrets from each other) but on his request, I answered most of the messages that night. If any of hubby's colleagues felt weirded out that the wifey did that, my sincere apologies.
(IV- Christmas: - at the ward) I was hoping that hubby would be discharged on 25.12.2013. Hubby couldn't wait to be home too, but our hope deflated after the MO's morning round. We were told that he needed to have an ultrasound scan done but because it was a public holiday, he had to wait till the next day. At first we thought we would insist that he be allowed to go home. But having taken into account the experts' advice, that as long as the cause of pain was still unknown, we shouldn't take things for granted, we decided not to force it. I reluctantly left hubby in the ward on Christmas day, to go home to my kids, to, later, take them to visit him. Upon reaching home, there was nothing more heartwarming then the wafting smell of cake baking in the oven, baked with love by Daddy's girl, our second girl, the baker of the family. She said she's taking the cake to cheer Daddy up at the hospital later. At visiting time, I took the kids to the hospital. In that short time, we tried to pretend that we were having a Christmas celebration, doing 'selfies' and whatever nots. Some Christmas it was :(.
(V- The lessons) Hubby was finally discharged on 26.12.2013, late in the day. Oh happy day! When we reached home, just seeing the smiles on the three kids' faces was heaven. There definitely isn't anything more valuable than my family, but on that day, the feeling was intensified. When I said the marriage vow of "...in good and bad times, in health and sickness, till death do us part", I could only imagine its meaning. But on the day I saw hubby doubled over with intense pain, I felt the meaning of those words. I thought I physically felt his pain and it was paralyzing. May God keep him in his tender care always. I also learnt that help and supports from family, friends and community, in any forms, are very empowering indeed. Kind words, prayers...they are indeed balm to the soul. Only God can repay everyone for their kindness. On a final note, I also realize that I need to overcome my fear of driving the Hilux. Should the flood have persisted that day, and there was no available ambulance, I wouldn't have been able to take hubby to the ER with the Livina. After the ordeal was over, I came out slightly tougher and resoluted that in 2014, I'll be able to drive the Hilux like any normal person can. All in all, I still believe that everything happens for a reason. I might not always understand it, but who am I to question nature's way, to doubt God's way...
Because every wedding is beautiful...
(I've not been writing for a while, though there are so much to write about...but this year the extended family of my mom's side receives a few new additions through marriages that it reminds me of the time I got married, and I have to urge myself to write. In my extended family, every cousin is as good as a brother or a sister...thus, the cousins-in-law become brothers or sisters-in- law.)
My brother got married in Feb 2013. And I earned a beautiful sister-in-law (The pic above was taken during their Dusun traditional wedding ceremony aka the panau 'travel, walk'). It was very exciting as I only have a sister and it was not that fun to do the girly things with just the two of us! Now there are more ladies in the family and life can't possibly get any better. In a few days, my cousin Tata Jane is marrying Kay. Since Tata is one of my favourite people ever, Kay automatically goes into my favourite people list too! So this entry is mainly for Tata, although also for my other sisters-in-law/sisters-in-law-to-be. According to the old Dusun ways, a marriage sees that the bride becomes the husband's family's 'property'. After I got engaged in 1995, my aunty Dumie who's my father's older sister had a long talk with me, about how to become the 'perfect' Dusun wife. Aunty Dumie is very traditional, so she gives culture-based advice. The gist of which: 1. When you are married, you would then join your husband's family. You have to blend with them/learn their ways. Never ever say the names of your tiwanon (parents/grandparents/aunties/uncles-in-law, as something bad will happen to you. 2. You will be expected to act like one of the daughters and do the housework. Sitting around doing nothing is not only embarrasing to you, but also your parents because it would show that they didn't teach you well. (the koikum-ikum concept) 3. You don't complaint about your in law's family...once you are married into the family, they are your family too. 4. If your mother in law goes mindahu , you have to join her too. If possible, do more than her. (the aparu concept) Of course, I never did go mindahu with my mother-in-law. I interpret no 4 as 'in my life as a modern career woman, it is understood that I won't have time to help out in the farm', plus my mother-in-law only ever does a little farming since I join the family till now. Thus, I am exempted :) (Okay okay...this is a lazy person lame excuse but it's the truth anyway). And my uncle Peter Sanie of my mom's side, is very good at giving advice on how to be fair to both sides of parents once you are married. This uncle, who we fondly call 'Beliau' always reminds newly-weds in the family of this analogy "if you have a fish to give and you are visiting both sides of parents, you split the fish lengthwise instead of crosswise. That way both sets of parents have equal parts of the fish". Beliau is the only maternal uncle I have left, having buried the other beloved uncle just over two weeks ago :( (May his soul rest). And Beliau's advice is more significant than ever as I learn to appreciate things in life. In my 17 years of marriage, I see the merits of the advice. Being fair to both sides of the family is a must. Yes it is impossible to be equal all the time, but at least we try. It's the thought and sincerity that count. We can't risk having any parents sulk, it would spoil your happiness. Having said that, it is also important to have time together, just the two of you. Or else the marriage faces 'burnout' and other problems that left unattended, might get bigger and kill the marriage. That's why even the Dusun people of the olden days understood the need to have a separate house once a new family was formed. As for joining your new family, it could get awkward at first. I bet with our extended family, it's even more awkward for others to join. But slowly, it gets easier. Having parents-in-law is a blessing, really. I only have a mother-in-law but it's good enough for me. Even though we live quite a short distance from each other, I don't really get to see her that often. But when I do see her, the gossip session is always lengthy and entertaining. Being the expressive person that she is, she would tell me all about the people in her kampung that I feel I know everyone. Our session can extend well over midnight, making me feel that I have learned a little bit more about life each time we gossip. Everyone will get a mother-in-law with different personalities. Be open-minded. It doesn't do to have a set of rigid expectations on them. Take them as they are and they'll take you as you are too. Do we still uphold the koikum-ikum and aparu concepts? Common sense will dictate that we do to a certain extent. It is expected in the community that we do not just sit around doing nothing in our own house, let alone in our in-law's place. Not because we want to show off, but that really should be the way. Doing the housework together also does more than just merely getting the chores done. It helps in bonding. The best extended family time for me is always in the kitchen...when some family members cook, some clean, some eat, and some simply talk. It works in both side of my own family and my husband's family. I feel that I get to know the family members better from this activity. Not saying the names of your tiwanon can present difficulties sometimes. When people ask who's your father-in-law, how are you supposed to tell them if you are not allowed to say their names, right? To me, I'd just say it...after all it is for a real thing. I know of some people who will spell the names of their in-laws out loud when asked, though. Salute for that respectfulness. Well, our late grandfather Leo K used to say, 'sumilou o totud' (knee would turn yellow) if you say the names of your elderly relatives...and tiwanon. Take your pick...you want to be as Dusun as can be, our a modern Dusun who respects the traditions and modifies some! Anyway, unfortunately I have never been in a session in which a male relative is being given a pre-marriage talk. But experience tells that a man is expected to provide for his family. Any humble job will do- farming, doing odd jobs, any, as long as he puts food on the table. I supposed, to Kay and all my other brothers/cousins, I can only say try to give the best to your wives and (future) children. Adding a modern interpretation to this, I'd say, see not only to their physical needs, but also the emotional needs ;). Females are complicated creatures...never expect them to think, act an speak like you men do! Lastly, I have learned through the years that the golden key to a solid marriage is honest communication between the wife and the husband. We no longer live in those days where the Dusun wives were expected to be silent and to accept the husbands' mistakes without any say. Thank God for that and let's make use of that right. Say what you want to say to each other, with tolerance because no one is perfect. You might feel that at that moment you dislike your partner very much because you are not happy with him/her, but just remember even then that you love each other to have married one another. After that, make peace with each other and live in the love you have found in one another. Because every wedding is beautiful...I believe yours has a great love story to tell. May the love you have found in each other lasts for eternity.