Month: March 2013

I Like to Make My Husband Nervous

Last night.

Me: Oh, I made a purchase today. Forgot to tell you that.
Him: Aaaaaa [nervous]
Me: I bought something on Groupon.
Him: Aaaaaa [nervous]
Me: It’s 52 bucks.
Him: 52 bucks! What is it?
Me: It’s a spa treatment.
Him: Spa treatment for 52 bucks? [shocked – and I wonder why]
Me: Kidding. I bought a voucher for photobook.
Him: For what?
Me: For Isa. It looks better than our wedding photo album it seems.
Him: Does that involve photo session??
Me: No. Just use our photos and upload them into their templates.
Him: If you do it for Isa, then you have to do it for the other kids as well [saying this as if THAT will be a problem]
Me: *Sigh* No worries. I’ll do for the rest as well.

Case closed.

The Night I Got to Sleep Undisturbed

Last night was the second night where Isa would scream whenever I pulled away my chest from him.

It started two nights ago. Isa still wanted to suck even after 15 minutes, and I let him to, thinking that he might still be hungry.

Then I fell asleep, and when I was awaken four hours after that, his mouth was still intact where it was, and when I pulled away he woke up and started crying.

I breastfed him lying down, and even so, lying on my side for four hours still hurt.

I could not take it anymore and beg my husband to prepare a few ounces of formula milk for him in the middle of the night.

He was quiet when fed with the formula – and even continued to have a second serving.

At first I thought that he was hungry, because it was Sunday and he rarely eats a lot during weekend (as he prefers playing with his dad than having his meals), but yesterday was Monday and he ate a lot at the crèche but still, similar thing happened.

He fed on almost 6 ounces of milk last night, and that makes me think – probably my milk supply is just not enough for him anymore.

It was a mixed feeling.

For the first time after almost a year, I get to sleep more than 5 hours undisturbed. My husband took the role of preparing the milk (now he knows how it feels!) and feeding him.

That’s great.

But somehow I feel losing something important. I love breastfeeding. I love to see his trusting eyes so closed to me, I love to see his drunken smile after emptying my breast.

I am 8 weeks away from the milestone of 12 months, and I’d love to reach that milestone still feeding him with my milk despite in combination with formula.

It’s either I go with the flow, and continue bottlefeeding him at night, and wean him sooner than I thought, or I push harder to relactate (which means, back to two times a day pumping at work, and some power pumpings at night to increase the supply).

I read about relactating (which applies to those adoptive mothers, or mothers who has stopped breastfeeding for a while, also those like me) and found out that as the baby grows older, it will get harder to start fully breastfeeding again.

I do not know. If I were to go ahead with this process, what will be the aim?
Is it to aim for fully breastfeeding again? Can I stand the anxiety of not knowing whether my milk supplied to the crèche will be enough or not for my son? Will I have the energy to do so?

Or is it to aim for combined breastfeeding with formula supplementing only when I’m at work, where I could not express enough?

The latter seems to be more feasible, with the kind of commitment I have and Isa’s routine.

I have to choose the middle way I suppose – giving him breastmilk, despite a little, is still beneficial for Isa at least when he reaches 2 years old.

My husband has left it for me to decide (though I suppose he’d prefer me continuing) – but I guess if I were to go back to more frequent, effective breastfeeding I have to skip cooking for dinner, to save energy for that one hour power pumping.

Let see if this works.

The Downsizing Journey: A Smaller Closet

I have been living with a downsized closet for four months – and very happy with it.

I would say that there were two major drivers for the downsizing of my closet. First, I breastfeed. That makes a lot of my clothes less friendly to this full time job of nursing. And then we were moving into our new home, which provided me with an opportunity to really declutter..

When I went through my clothes, I found that more than half of those were:

1. haven’t been worn for quite sometimes because they are special occasion items
2. not nursing-friendly
3. too tight or too short to my liking
4. very, very old.

I told myself I need to get rid of them.

And I did.

I’m glad I made a decision to downsize and simplify.

From having one full three-door wardrobe which my clothes and hijabs couldn’t fit, now my clothes can fit into three-feet long clothing rail, and two 3-feet long drawers.

Here are some changes I made to have a smaller wardrobe (though I notice it is somehow growing, albeit infinitesimally):

Clothes worn outside: I now only don black abayas (I have less than 15 of them). I have saved some blouses and long shirts for occasions that require physical activities, but those are really limited to the high quality ones. I wrote about the decision to wear abayas here. I have also offered my more than 20 pairs of baju kurung (Malay traditional dress which I normally wore to office) to an interested person I knew through Freecycle KL. I wrote briefly about this departing here.I gave most of my officewears – the shirts which are not long enough or not loose enough, to charity, and am very very happy to get rid of them. Many were bought rather impulsively and later I could not bring myself to wear them.

Hijabs: I gave my large collection of hijabs which I didn’t wear anymore (since I have opted bigger and longer ones to ease nursing in public) to others. Even after doing so my hijabs still fill a three-feet long drawer, and I’m thinking of giving those impractical shawls which I bought during the transition period to my sister.

What's left of my hijabs/scarves. Still a lot, I know.

What’s left of my hijabs/scarves. Still a lot, I know.

Clothes worn around the house: I reduced the number of clothes I wear around the house to just one full drawer, which is really a huge feat!

Shoes: I used to love to buy shoes, but now I resolve to buying only one pair that I would wear for work and play.For this one pair (flat ones of course) I go for quality (my choice is always Clarks) and hence a bit pricey. The sneakers I bought 10 years ago still serves me well if I were to go exercising – which is really once in a blue moon.I still have four pairs of leather high-heel shoes (dark green, maroon, black and red), which I need to repair. I’ll keep them for really formal events anyway.

Accessories: I used to have a sizeable collection of bracelets and bangles, and when I was about to leave uni, I chose to give all of them away and now stick to my wedding ring and bracelet. I’m glad there is one less thing to think about when dressing up.I love collecting brooches to wear with my hijabs, but I have stopped doing so because I am now stealing from my mother’s collection. She told me that she doesn’t need them much now that she has retired, so here is one really happy daughter!

The consequence of this simplification?

Less time spent to dress up. And I like that.

I can now pick any hijab with my eyes closed, because all colours match my black abaya.

I’m not saying by choosing to wear a black dress everyday it would be less tempting to shop (abayas are beautiful they have many styles you feel like having to own them all!). I’ve been on an abaya spending spree for a while and by now I don’t see any need for a new one (though I have an appetite to actually try and make one myself!) .I am still tempted to buy new hijabs – but now that I have chosen for something more practical (instant hijab, to ease my performing solat, large chest coverage to facilitate nursing in public), they are pricier and harder to find. And that deters me from shopping effectively!

Now that I have downsized, I could stand even thinking about how much money I have wasted in my previous life!

 

Slow Down, Savour Life…I Will

If we go by Personality Plus’ Choleric-Melancholy-Sanguine-Phlegmatic, I am Choleric, by nature. Even my mother will testify for this.The problem with cholerics is that they have a bigger tendency to get heart attacks being easily angered, can’t relax, and impatient.

Picture-81

A few weeks back I was in total hell- partly because of how I handled things being a choleric.

It started with a long trail of backlogs in the office.
I was on several urgent assignments that left me with no possible way to relax.

The consequences were severe.
My home was in mess. I could not spare quality time with Isa, nor my husband. I got upset a lot with them.I was spiritually low – my prayers were not focused.

I was all over the place, in short.

Then when all of that were over, it hit me that my life, for that one month, passed by with me remembering none of the details.Nor was it meaningful.

I know that was a month that I have totally wasted.I rushed through everything. And when I look back, I do not know what I was rushing for..I played with Isa, but in a rush.I took my shower, but in a rush.I prayed, but in a rush.I did the housechores, in a rush, and of course, none was completed perfectly.Multitasking really gets the worst of me.

And I know, if I didn’t put a stop to this, many years will pass by uselessly.

I want to enjoy life.
I want to savour every details of it.

So I said to myself: slow down.Now.

*******

Slowing down isn’t as hard as I thought.

One of the reasons is that I married someone who has mastered that art of ‘slow down, do less’ very successfully (or probably it is in his blood). I have always been frustrated by him being ‘slow’ previously. I thought that if I rush through things, a lot can be done. But him being him, he pays attention to every detail that I missed. And slows me down, positively, whenever he could.

I remember once when I told him my plan for the day off I was taking, from doing the laundry, buying the groceries, going the post office…and his response was: Why don’t you take a nap somewhere in between.

That's my 'role model'. A few minutes before that he just promised me he will pick up the laundry for the lines.

That’s my ‘role model’. A few minutes before that he just promised me he will pick up the laundry for the lines.

Slow down, take a nap. In the middle of carefully folded laundry.

Slow down, take a nap. In the middle of carefully folded laundry.

I have found many resources on the internet around this, which are really helpful if you have a chronic problem like me:

International Institute of Not Doing Much (I swear it was my husband who founded this!)

10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More

How to reduce stress by doing less and doing it slowly

After going through all the tips and advice, I figured out I should start with a few things, e.g.:

  1. Learn to enjoy to housechores. Pay attention to the details, and worry not about taking longer time to finish it. My husband spends almost half an hour putting laundry on the clothes line. And I always rush in doing it – which is normally met by complaints by my husband on how bad I did it.
  2. Reduce multi task. I have taken my office mailbox off my mobile phone – well, it all started when the server was done, and now I could not care if it is up, because I am just NOT reconnecting to the server again.
  3. Have less ambitious workplans around the house. Or even in the office.
  4. Start slowing down on other little things. I think I am gonna put this on my Twitter, as a record.

In summary, I will from now on, start to slow down, do less, and live life.

To the Book Heaven..Finally

My parents were around in KL yesterday and planned to spent a few nights at my place – which means that Isa will be off the crèche for a few days since my parents are more than happy to have Isa and his cousin (my elder sister’s son) Adam around.

With Isa not at the creche I’d have longer lunch time and less restricted about the time we reach home in the evening so yeah, this is a golden opportunity for me to pay a visit after work to my favourite bookstore – Kinokuniya!

My husband was stuck at work (it’s peak time in his department), so I spent my time leisurely at the store which is heavenly. No screaming, no stroller, no puke. Just me.

At the end I bought two books – in addition to other books I am yet to read:

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

and

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, Third Edition: Encouraging Your Child’s Natural Development from Birth to Age Six

My husband is very sceptical on the possibility of me finishing these books, but hey, I take that as a challenge. I read these days, but mostly on my iPhone i.e. stuff on the Net, but books are never replaceable, aren’t they?

So yes, I’m back to reading.

Wish me luck!

The Downsizing Journey: Elected Financial Controller

Make It Do Quote (4X6) copyI have never thought that someday I’d actually be running on the track towards minimalism. I have of course, aspired to do so so many times being a sustainability practitioner and very much believe in living within my means.But knowing all the facts and being able to act upon them are two different things.

Before I got married, I was still tempted to shop every month. I shopped for clothes and everything else, and had very minimal saving, less than 10% of my gross salary each month.

Which was, of course, unhealthy.

Then I met my husband.

This is a guy who have went for his pilgrimage/Hajj to Mecca using his own money (it costs around MYR10-15k these days).

This is the guy who straightforward told me that he has the means to get married anytime financially (he even told me his 6-figure saving he had), only after a year of working and three month jobless period before switching to another company.

This is the guy who saved almost half of his monthly salary.

This is also the guy who could not figure out why he needs to buy any clothes, at all (FYI, it was his mom who normally insisted on him buying anything).

In short, it was a frugal, simple guy I actually chose to be married to.

And he has, since then, been a great motivator and reminder to me not to stray away from this path of simplifying our lives.

The Elected Financial Controller

The biggest change that I have made to date, which I have never ever thought I would, is to let my husband control my finance. Sounds like me losing my independence, but God, I could not be more thankful for Him sending an accountant to be my husband.

Being spendthrift is a weakness that I somehow don’t have the ability to overcome on my own, and I recognise it very well.I know and realise very well that shopping for new stuff, and owning new stuff does not make me happy, but I still buy. A lot.

So I let my husband know every spending I made, even if the money comes from my very own pocket.Any proposal will be met with questions: Why would I need it? Can you live without it? (and the most ridiculous of all: Why do we have to buy? Why can’t we make it ourselves?) etc. He reminds me of our bigger financial goals at that time, be it the downpayment for our very house, saving for the house makeover, a new car that we just have to find, the private school I have been eyeing for Isa…

And yes,for so many months I am very happy with the balance in my bank account.

Do I feel deprived?

At times, yes especially when I am steered by my emotion. But after a year being encouraged by him, I have become aware myself. The self-control came.

He’s frugal, but he’s not cheap – this does make it easier. But he has reasons – very rational you can’t rarely argue with it. It is not that you suppress yourself from the emotional side of being human – to like nice things and all, but it is more about prioritising.

And delayed gratification.

As he always reminds me – Islam has never prohibit ‘wants’ and asks you to concentrate on ‘needs’ only, but it is a matter of balance. It is not that God asks us to be cheapskate, but to acknowledge the fact that this worldly life is nothing but temporary, and that we should invest on our eternal life.

p.s. I will continue documenting about my journey towards minimalism, God willing. More to come.