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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Erin is TWO years old!

Oh my, oh my......my "baby" is 2 years old already??????   I can't help thinking she's still a leeeetle girl!!!  
 
For her 2nd birthday, we had a simple birthday celebration for her at home.  And as with current tradition, of course I had to bake a girl for my little princess.
 
Ta daaa.......here's the birthday girl with her birthday cake.
 
 
"That's MY cake!"
She loved her cake.  *Grins*
 
 
Clap Clap during birthday song
 
 
Blow!
 
 
The 4 of us
 
 
Inside of cake
Simple butter cake with chocolate cake. I was happy when I found the M&Ms and Kit Kat decoration idea from the net. Practically fail-proof!  Ok, not healthy at all but what the heck, birthdays come only once year!  And as expected, kids loved it. (ahem....even 70+ year old Ah Kong was "caught" munching on a Kit Kat before the cake was cut. Haha!)
 
Party food
Got lazy and tapao'ed everything this time. This neighbourhood restaurant even loaned us the serving trays.
 

With some of her presents
Didn't manage to get a smiling photo



Cousins playing after dinner
I didn't even bother trying to get everyone in the photo this time. Practically an impossible task ;-)

 
Opening presents
Jie jie seems even more excited than birthday girl ;-)  
 
 
Birthday hug from jie jie 
 
 
My dear princess Erin....you're TWO years old already.  We are all still waiting for you to talk properly.  Though sometimes, daddy and I think it's your ploy to make us believe you are still a little girl.  And by doing that, Yes, you do get away with murder sometimes!  Ah Kong still insists that you shouldn't get scolded because you are far too young. But from your actions, your responses and your gestures, we know you understand and comprehend a lot of things.  So, we will wait until you are ready.
Mummy doesn't update your milestones diligently like for jie jie last time, but rest assured, mummy loves you LOADS and LOADS!  Happy 2nd Birthday!
 
 
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Teacher's Day Gift

---another late post--
 
Similar to last year, I decided to bake something for Elyssa to give her teachers on Teacher's Day.
 
I baked Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Cookies this time.
 
Cookie Box for her class teacher
 
Single cookies for her other teachers
Thought it look a bit plain, so I added a simple ribbon loop at the top.
Supposed to be 2 in a pack, but I burnt my first lot of cookies  :(
 
 
Back View  : Simple thank you note from Elyssa
No masterpiece cos all were done in < 20 minutes. No time to even colour.
 
A bit rushed to do things on a weeknight after work, but glad we managed to pull it off  :-)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On a Hot, Hot Day

What's good on a Hot, Hot Day??  Pool time !!!
 
Both girls were jumping and shouting with joy when it was time to change to their swimsuits  :)
 
Happy in the pool
Errr...... dunno why Erin insisted on wearing the swim float around her neck
 
I wish I was small enough to fit inside the pool too !
 
Busy "cooking"

 Erin playing with water
  
And that's hubby playing with water... 
 
 
Girls happy = Parents happy.  Yay !!  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Renewing Cambodian Maid Passport and Work Permit (DIY)

*long-post ahead*

Few weeks ago, I found myself in this predicament:
1. My Cambodian maid's permit going to expire in 17 days
2. Her passport had less than 1 year validity
3. My agent wanted to charge me approx RM2,800 for renewal of work permit and passport.

I felt the amount quoted was wayyy to high! Felt like daylight robbery. But I wasn't sure how to do it myself and googling on the internet didn't give me much information. I posted some questions on Facebook (what would I do without FB? ha ha) , got some useful leads and then decided to walk the path slightly less travelled.  ;-)

In the end, I managed to get everything done on time without any penalty.
   Number of annual leave taken : 1 day
   Amount saved :  approx RM 1,500
   Satisfaction of not paying agent :  PRICELESS !!!   :)



Here are the steps, for the benefit of those who do not want to pay exorbitant agent fees.
There's 2 parts :  A - For Passport Renewal  and B - For Work Permit Renewal.

A : For Passport Renewal

Step 1. Contact PIKAP - Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Agensi Pekerjaan Malaysia.
  Link : http://www.pikap.org.my/cms/
 (i)  Not much information on their website, so I called one of the numbers listed : 012-2032007 for Haji. (a bit skeptical when I saw it was a h/p number at first). Haji turned out to be really helpful and re-assuring. He asked me to sms him my email address so that he could send me all the required forms.
(ii) The next morning, he sent me an email with multiple attachments - extension employment contract, salary confirmation, salary letter, insurance cover letter,checklist of documents required etc

Step 2. Fill up all the forms and collect necessary items as per email from PIKAP.
Items required - passport photo of employer, spouse and maid, electricity bill, *bank book/draft, **insurance, stamping of contract etc.

* Bank Book has to be in the name of maid only.  No joint account allowed.
  -While waiting for PIKAP's email, hubby brought our maid to the bank to open her bank account. We panicked BIG time when the bank officer said he cannot open bank account cos maid's work permit had  <  6 months validity.  I called up Haji again and he said not to worry - just buy a bank draft in maid's name. Phew!

** Insurance & stamping of contract - can do this outside or directly via PIKAP for a small fee. I chose the latter since I didn't have much time.

Step 3.  Go to PIKAP kiosk with completed forms and all required items (and maid)
It's actually a very small kiosk practically next to a busy road. Haji advised me to be there early.
With the aid of my GPS, I was there before 9am and got the 1st number  :)  Haji was there but I was attended to by his rather grumpy lady colleague.
She checked the documents, asked why I didn't fill up certain parts correctly (I felt like a school kid with a fierce teacher. ke ke)  and asked my maid some basic questions.
After about 45 minutes or so, she stamped my documents.  Yay!

My payment to PIKAP : RM 303.
Extension handling process : RM 150, Pikap endorsement : RM 50, Maid pass : RM 3, Document stamping and 1 year insurance : RM 100. (if not mistaken, one year insurance is RM 70)

Step 4. Go to Cambodian Embassy in Jalan U-Thant with maid
The embassy is about 10 minutes away from PIKAP kiosk. I was surprised it was an old bungalow with a small signboard and locked gates! I thought it was closed! Anyway, when I was parking my car, I saw a guy walking towards the embassy. Not sure whether he rang the door bell or hollered, but someone from inside came to open the gate. I told him I wanted to renew my maid's passport. His only question was "got PIKAP chop?" When I nodded, he asked me to go in.

In the embassy, I waited about 10 minutes to see the officer. He had a quick look at my documents and then interviewed my maid in Cambodian.(she later told me he asked her whether she was treated well, had enough food, had enough sleep, how long she wanted to stay and why, how much was her salary etc). He was rather pleasant and my maid was smiling a lot throughout the interview.

After the short interview, he collected my payment of RM200, got her passport stamped and DONE!

Time check?  10.45am. 

I couldn't help grinning at that point. I was prepared for a whole day affair!


B : For Work Permit Renewal
Since it was still early, I proceeded with the work permit renewal process.

-------------------------------------------
Step 1. Fomema Registration
 Link : http://www.fomema.com.my/
This part is similar to Indonesian maids. Plenty of write-ups on the net for this, so I shall be brief -

Step1(a). Buy Bank draft / postal order / money order for RM190. Payee name : "Fomema Sdn Bhd".
Step 1(b). Go to Fomema office with copy of passport. (maid not required to be there.) They will provide a free Registration Form to fill up. One of the items to fill up is choice of clinic. Choose from their list of clinics (hard copies posted on notice boards at the Fomema office. also available online) and a useful tip is to choose a clinic which has x-ray facilities so that only 1 trip to the clinic is needed.
Once done, the officers will provide a printed form with several carbon copies.

Step 2 : Bring Maid for Medical Checkup
Maid not required to fast beforehand.  Excluding waiting time, the whole procedure at the clinic only takes about 30 minutes.  It's basically a urine test, x-ray, blood test and a quick physical examination.
---------------------------------------------

Time check for completion of Step 1 and 2 ?  3.30pm.
And that included waiting time at Maybank for my bank draft, getting lost, taking ages to find a parking lot at Solaris Dutamas, leisurely lunch at KFC with Elyssa (who tagged along the whole process) and maid etc etc. 
Next step was to wait for Fomema results so that was all I could do for that day. Managed to squeeze in time for a latte at my favourite coffee place and then went to the cinema to watch Star Trek.  Excellent show  :-)


Step 3 : Check Fomema Results Online
This can take up to 10 days.  My clinic did it for me in 4 days. Yay!

Step 4 : Go to Immigration Office (no need to bring maid)
I went during my lunch break to the Immigration Department in Jalan Duta. Was a little concerned whether I would have enough time as coincidentally, my colleague renewed her own passport there that morning and she told me it was pretty crowded.

Upon reaching, I asked at the info counter and was directed to take the escalator to Level 2 and then the first room on the right.  Luckily, there were not that many people. I took a number (had to give the officer my IC and maid's passport to get the number), waited a bit and then was asked to make payment of RM 500 (either bank draft or cash) for the work permit levy.
Waited a bit more then the officer gave me back my maid's passport with the new work permit.  Yay!!!!  All DONE!!  I kept thinking : That's it???

Time Taken in the Immigration Office : approx 25 minutes only.


So, so glad I didn't go through my maid agency who kept telling me the process is soooooooooooooo  difficult and that her permit may get rejected.    ;-)

  Summary of costs:
PIKAP : RM303.  Cambodian Embassy : RM200, Fomema : RM190,  Immigration Dept : RM 500.   Total : RM 1,193