Month: July 2015

Khadijah: The Fifth Month

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Khadijah turned five months old a few days ago, Alhamdulillah.

Here’s where she is development-wise: She is already a pro at rolling over, moving forward, backward and turning 360 degrees on her belly. Yesterday I just realised that she can actually sit up unsupported quite well – something I didn’t thought she would this early hence I didn’t attempt to put her in the position until yesterday. She plays well on her own; with her feet and hands, and also a responsive playmate to her brother. Well, including destructing whatever her brother builds.

And she loves to smile. That’s what everyone tells me, and I agree. She is such a sweetheart.

***

Khadijah grows before my eyes with rarely a moment missed. Regardless of what people think, this fact doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Isa grew up well under the care of others for a quarter of the day and I think he’s doing alright, and though I am her mother, I know I could never guarantee that my care is the best.

Nevertheless, when Khadijah cried for my attention, my mind sometimes wonder – that must had happened to Isa too when he was at his creche back then; crying for his mother who was nowhere to be found. Did somebody pick him up, comfort him and cheer him up when he cried just like how I do to Khadijah? How did he cope with that me not being there?

I tried to stop my mind from wondering much further, for I know if I do, I’ll break down into tears. I told myself those days are gone. I am living now, I am living today. Don’t relive the past.

***

Living 24/7 with an infant is, to sum it up, intense. For the past few weeks I was ridden with guilt: am I providing enough stimulation for Khadijah? Have I left her to be alone too much that it will affect her? Most of the time I feel like I HAVE to do something with her, but I run out of things to do. Or too tired to do anything. Or too occupied with other things.

Then I realised how different it is this time, living and caring for an infant. I had it easy last time, raising and caring for Isa with assistance, that I didn’t get to taste the REAL challenge (or at least what I think so) of being with a young child.

With my first born, I was willing to pour all my energy to him during the limited hours I got to spend with him.  Add the ‘working mom guilt‘ into the equation, you have a child who rarely had to entertain himself.  When half of Isa’s waking hours were spent with someone else, the work left for me to do was not much. There were days that I didn’t even get (or have to) change his clothes or bath him. Not that I am all sentimental about this, but bath time and changing time are great bonding moments for me, and I was exempted from those before.

****

My guilt with leaving Khadijah more frequent than I would with Isa led me to, of course, googling about the effect. This funnily brought me to Magda Gerber’s philosophy which basically lift some of the guilt off me. Well, I may not yet be converted from more or less an attachment parenting subscriber, but RIE (Resources for Infant Educarer) does have some points when it puts ‘encouraging uninterrupted, self-directed play’ as one of its basic principles.

It’s true that one-fits-all parenting approach is impossible. No two kids are the same, and my life situation also changes.

Though I every now and then I wonder if Khadijah is a more independent because of the more laid-back approach I adopt with her, or the other way around: she’s more independent naturally that this approach fits her well, I guess if she is happy (which she seems to be) there is no reason for me to worry.

May Allah guide us all.

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Not a Pinterest Mom

pinterest-avoid-kids-activities-family-ecards-someecards

How is your relationship with Pinterest?

Mine was pretty much a love-hate one, with now reduced to occasional encounters.

I love it for the fact that it is easy to navigate, and gives me a lot of positive inspirations. I actually began to use it when I was moving into our new house, and did spend a huge amount of time on it.

I hate it because I know, after a while, that I could never be one who would contribute to ‘pinnable’ photos. And I agree when people say that Pinterest makes you feel like a bad mom with all the things you didn’t do. The pressure could be tremendous for a Type A person like me. Haha.

Earlier this year I wrote about how I should spend my year learning to slow down. One of the ways I listed was to dive into my creative side which I know I have all this while, but tend to ignore. Pinterest provides a platform for me to be inspired by others who have put their creativity to good use. My interests were pretty much around sewing, making children crafts, organizing, and much earlier than that, home decorating and interior-designing; so I did spend some time browsing through those oh-so-pretty pins, creating my own inspiration boards.

Nevertheless,  after nearly seven months of being a stay-at-home mom I can safely conclude that I could never be a Pinterest mom.

I’ve attempted a number of things inspired by Pinterest, and let me tell you how they went.

Let’s begin with sewing.

My mom loves sewing and made a lot of pretty dresses for us girls, and she herself once pointed out that of all her three daughters, I am one who she could see some potentials in sewing. And I do have some interest in sewing too. The interest somehow heightened when I knew I was going to have a daughter of my own… and on Pinterest the dresses seem so easy to make on my own.

My mother-in-law had earlier given me one of her sewing machine, which over the past years has only been used to do a few small projects namely Isa’s pillow cases and the laundry room curtain. That’s an average of one project every two years 😀 So just before Ramadhan I braved myself an attempt to make a dress for Khadijah, partly because I  could not help myself but thinking ‘The dress is so easy to sew there is no way I will pay RM60 for it‘ whenever I saw a nice dress at the shop. So I ordered a fabric quarter (which I knew would just be enough for a then 3.5-month old infant) and started sewing….until I was stuck at making the button holes. Then I stopped. I gave up.

In retrospective, I found myself NOT enjoying the process, lack the motivation (I’m not here to dress up my baby like a doll), and the opportunity costs. The whole dress may just cost me less than RM10 once it’s finished, but Khadijah doesn’t really need another dress so why bother. I’d rather have that few hours (yes, it took a few hours because I am an amateur) either playing with my children… or as I was imagining mid way in front of my sewing machine: Reading. Snuggling under my blanket reading a favourite book is much more pleasurable than this.

I will finish this dress... someday.

I will finish this dress… someday.

So I say, unless the project is really, really worth it (I am attempting to make a cot bumper this week), there is no way you could see me sewing again.

Next, children crafts.

Isa doesn’t enjoy making crafts much so I am limiting myself to a few really interesting projects, thus far, to work on. I don’t browse for ideas in my free time i.e. leisurely, I only do so when I have items around the house I can recycle and make a project with. I have an egg carton in my kitchen, so I created a board on potential projects yesterday. My experience tells me that with all the options I have gathered, I might as well show them to Isa and let him choose. Otherwise, it will end up with me doing all of it.

In anticipation of his birthday.

In anticipation of his birthday.

And no, even the finished ones are not gonna be Pinterest-worthy. By now I believe that all the crafts on Pinterest were made by adults. I am positive. With the help of good lighting and careful styling.

What about organising?

Most of the things in my house have their own designated places, what I need is discipline which is not available on Pinterest.

Home decorating?

I lack the motivation, and my husband isn’t fond of anything that is purely aesthetics. Everything must have a function, according to him, and aesthetics is not one.

As I made peace with the fact that I am not a crafty, DIY mom, I don’t think you’ll find me browsing Pinterest longer than a few minutes. I learnt it the hard way that I could never have the will to  fight the temptation to stop half way through the project and grab a book.

And I am okay with that.

Visit Nurafnizar’s profile on Pinterest.//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

Eid 2015

 

Eid means differently as I grow up, I realised.

I could not remember any better thing related to Eid when I was a child other than the happiness it brought when my family got to ‘balik kampung‘, or going back to my grandparents’ places. Those days when my father was stationed some 500-700 km away from my grandparents, we could only afford to go back twice a year at most. As a child I love my maternal grandparents’ side more, particularly because my then favourite cousin cum best buddy stayed with them, and we got to do a lot of activities together.

Ramadhan and consequently Eid became more spiritual as I grow up, but less related to family kind of happiness during the four years of me living abroad.

Now that I am married and leading a separate life from my parents (and in-laws for that matter), Eid, apart from its spiritual meaning turns to be more and more about making the folks happy.

This Eid we spent it at my in-laws, which luckily is only 30 minutes away from our place. What that means is no traffic jam! Yeay for that!

We didn’t do a lot of visiting as most of our relatives live in the East Coast. Apart from Isa going the the mosque with his father (I could not because the mosque has limited spaces for the ladies), extra special meals my mother-in-law cooked for the family, and the usual photo session, our Eid celebration may not be as happening as others’, but looking at how happy our parents are at the sight of their grandchildren, I could not be anymore delighted.

Isa may not understand the spiritual meaning of Eid yet, but if anything, for him to equate Eid with togetherness is a good enough thought to instill in him.

p.s. To my readers, if there is still any, Eid Mubarak to you. May you have a blessed celebration, and I am wishing you blessings throughout the year.

My Take on Homelearning

The other day I came to realise that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for six months, masha Allah! Time does fly, and because the major purpose of me being at home is to actually spend more  QUALITY time with my children being their first teacher,  I had a reflection (perhaps you can call it KPI or performance review) on the past six months.

By the end of that I became anxious.

Have I done my best? When I decide to homeschool (or as I’d prefer to call it encouraging homelearning), I did have some principles I’d like to adhere to, as agreed with my husband, but seriously, looking at how other parents do it, you may become slightly less confident – am I doing enough?

I was heavily pregnant during the first two months at home, and the next two months were spent at my parents’ place as I was undergoing my post-partum confinement period. Even if I didn’t want to be too hard on myself, the transitional two months should be over by now, with the month of July here.

Of course, thinking of that I got agitated. Funnily, my immediate proposal to my husband was to purchase a colour printer! We already own a Laserjet black-and-white printer, but surely if I were to get serious, I need to have colour printer so that I could print those inviting worksheets for Isa, or so I thought.

Luckily, I got over the anxiety quite quickly.

After revising a few books and articles, I am reminded that Isa is only three. And as we parents are really keen on NOT being academic-oriented, I should not worry about those worksheets, or getting Isa to write or read. All he needs is PLAY, and that’s about it. And if that is the measuring stick we are to use, I think so far Isa is doing fine alhamdulillah.

And all I need to do better is to spend more quality time (no phone, no worrying about the house chores, no rush) playing with him.

My Homelearning Approach

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After reading a number of parenting and homeschooling/homelearning books, I figure out that I have found the most suitable approach for Isa.

One of the books I’ve read is the one shown in the photo above,and there are a few important take-home messages I get from it:

  1. More homeschooling parents move from being structured in their approach to being less structured;
  2. There is no one magical way to homeschool;
  3. Observe your child’s ability; plan activities which are not too easy nor too hard. Too easy – boring. Too hard – discouraging.
  4. Try out a few activities, and after that you may get some ideas on which activities that provide the least pleasure.
  5. Build on strengths and interests.
  6. Some homeschoolers allocate specific time for writing, reading, arithmetic, and ‘other i.e. the rest’. Some organise studies, for ‘the other i.e. the rest’ using unit study-approach, traditional (school-like) approach, history-based approach, interest-initiated approach, or combination of those. Decide which one is most effective for your family.
  7. The early years child requires very little by way of formal education, so I should not let caring a baby (along with a preschooler, in my case) stop me from homeschooling. Put the baby in close proximity, and soon she will become a toddler who isn’t going to be left out of anything. Twist the learning schedule around the baby’s.

I have attempted one-letter-a-week approach, a-theme-a-week approach (a continuation of Isa’s daycare’s method), and now I am comfortable with interest-initiated approach (see point #6 above).

Interest-initiated Approach

As far as my observation goes, I found that Isa is least interested in flashcards and letter tracing of any sorts. Hence I know that there is no way I could make him interested in doing worksheets at this stage.

Interest-initiated approach takes cue from the child current interests (If you have a child you know that he or she can be obsessed with certain things for a period of time). In my case, I can detect his interests (whether they are just passing interests, or something of his strength which can be developed) through the books he wants to read over and over again, the in-depth questions on specific things, songs he sing frequently, etc.

So what I do is just build on that. Go deeper. Because it is a subject of his interest, I know I won’t lose him mid way. Complement that with his usual favourites – LEGO, wooden blocks, train sets, role plays etc. I think we have enough things to do around here.

Thus far I have covered a few stuff – most of them indirectly woven in our daily lives. He borrowed a book from his cousin on clocks (and became obsessed with it for nearly a month) so I took the chance to teach him time-telling among other things. He currently fancies the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ nursery rhyme for example, and I am finding things to do around that. I may document these later, but surely you can’t count on a busy mom to do it meticulously 😉 We’ve done trains, aeroplanes, ambulances… the typical interest subjects of a boy.

Pre-arithmetic, pre-writing and pre-reading skills are all indirectly instill in these activities – I know I would not have to resort on (boring, context-less) worksheets anytime soon. Well, partly that is because we don’t expect him to know how to read or write that soon.

Nevertheless, I still have a few things I need to work on: get ourselves outside more, instill the love of nature for him, teach him self-care, include him more in house chores, do a bit of gardening (phew!), get messy more often, and cook together more frequently.

So far, I’d stick to these, in addition to me being seen reading books and reciting the Holy Quran more frequently.

After all he’s just three for goodness’ sake!

 

 

 

Isa’s Third Birthday

I once read a general guide on organising a child’s birthday party: Invite as many guests as your child age.

Isa turned three nearly two months ago, and though we tried not to make it a tradition of having a celebration Isa wanted to blow some candles, so we obliged. It won’t hurt. A cake perhaps, and a few candles to blow (three is definitely not enough) – that was all Isa has been looking forward to.

And to me, his birthday is also a good reason to have him doing so crafts, finally!

My observation tells me that Isa did not find it pleasurable to do this kind of activities, so unless we have a good motivation he would not want to put some effort. Luckily he has seen scenes at birthday parties in the books he reads, so I got him to make some party hats and paper chains garland to get in the celebration mood.

My husband agreed to get some cupcakes instead of a whole cake (which he thinks is a bit too much for just three of us) from Bisou nearby his office – six of them costs nearly as much as a small cake nevertheless after GST which I stupidly forgot about…. But Bisou cakes are delicious. What can I say?

 

I made the exception this time and served Isa’s favourite – fried chicken drummets (tonnes of them), and my sister who happened to be there helping me running some errands in the morning brought home extra side dishes so we already had a lot on our table.

Of course, what excited Isa most was blowing of the candles… and the drummets! The first thing he asked after he was done with the candles was the chicken. Haha.

 

Anyway, I guess Isa had a great time being surrounded by his loved ones – we didn’t plan for my sister and brother to be there, but surely they added some fun to the occasion. Birthday celebration is still NOT a must in our family, and we don’t intend to make it into one, so we don’t really want to make it too huge. The most important is to make memories – pleasant ones.

So in total it cost us less than RM80: RM3 for the cute candles, RM37 for the cupcakes, and RM 30 for the food. All the party decors were made of whatever lying around the house so no damage done to our pockets.

Hooray for simplicity!

p.s. Khadijah was fast asleep (after being vaccinated earlier that day) so she didn’t appear in any of the pics. Such as a shame though.

Abaya Review v.1: Habra and Calaqisya

I see that I’m still receiving visitors for my entries on Abayas, and when I checked back those entries I found that they are, especially the humble guide I wrote is severely outdated.

Two years ago when I made the decision to don only black jubahs or abayas, there were not many retailers who provided a good range of abayas to choose from. I had to search high and low. But now, you can well witness that there are A LOT to choose from. The muslimah fashion industry in Malaysia explodes before my eyes. How I wish this happened much earlier hence saving me time from having to browse and hunt for my ‘base’ collection of abaya!

These days my news feed on Facebook keeps shoving down my throat adverts over adverts.But since I only purchased three abayas in the past year, and two this year (hence using up my yearly self-imposed quota) I can say that I’m still able to control my whims. Haha.

Nevertheless, if this is of anything useful I think I will write down my personal reviews of products I have purchased.

I had three new ones in 2014, but two are those I had them tailored (which in total cost me nothing more than RM180 both, and I got to choose the kind of fabric I wanted).

The Poplook Dress – Salvia Black

The other one was a dress from Poplook – which is no longer available now. It was priced at RM89, quite cheap for a dress. The sole reason I bought this one is because I was tempted to wear chiffon – it looks so flowy and girly! For the price I paid I think it is a worth-it purchase. This dress is not breastfeeding friendly (by then I have stopped breastfeeding Isa), hence I need to make some alteration if I were to wear it now. Not the most comfortable dress , as the fabric used for lining is quite sticky. And I had to buy one size bigger (L size) to make sure that the dress is comfortably loose.

I think in general Poplook has a excellent range of nicely-designed dresses (fewer options for nursing moms though), if you can bear with the fabric, which is mostly chiffon (not of the highest quality).

Verdict: Unless I was desperate for a dress that has to follow a certain theme colour etc. I will not buy anymore chiffon dress.

The Habra Plain Jubah Wrap in Black

plain abaya habra official

I was dead bored during my confinement period recently, and what do bored housewives do? They go shopping. Online shopping.

I fall in love with wrap abayas ever since I saw this beautiful wrap abaya from Butik Abaya Tini. But that one is too pricey, at RM300+ so there is no way I would let myself spend that much on a dress. So when I decide (and my husband lets me, of course) to purchase a new one, I looked here and there, high and low for one of this pattern, and I found this one from Habra Offical on Instagram. (Later though, I found a few more retailers offering dresses of similar design).

The price was RM160 – on a discount at that moment – and after one exchange (the retailer sent me a wrong one) I can say that this dress is so pretty!

It has darts on the back, which I usually dislike in a dress (hence disqualifying it from being called abaya), but the dress can be worn loose or tight according to how you tie the inner belt. The design makes breastfeeding easy too.

Verdict: Love it! Though I secretly hope I can get away from dress from dull satin fabric since I already own one too many.

 

Calaqisya Azalea Dress in Black

calaqisya azalea

I have heard so much of this brand, but since I was not looking for a new dress I stop short from browsing through their website or instagram page. I bought this dress from their physical shop in Shah Alam, solely because the design is the least typical of all.

By the way, do you notice that the style of jubah sold these days are not that varied. Everything looks boring to me to be honest *yawn*.

This one is pretty odd in its design, though if I spotted in online I would not lose myself over ‘buy or not to buy’ it. Priced at RM129, and I bought size S/M. The best thing about this one is… you don’t have to iron it! Yay to a daily-wear jubah! It is made of moss crepe, which is, to be honest, not the most comfortable type of fabric to wear in tropical climate when you sweat a lot, but I still foresee this one being most useful when I am travelling.

And my sister has already complaint that I wear this one a bit too often.

Verdict: If Calaqisya comes up with more design which is age-appropriate for me I will purchase more from them. Those they offer now seems a little too fancy, instead of classy, for my liking.

p.s. Photos are from respective websites. I may post photos of myself wearing them later… it’s hard to find someone who could take good photos of me hahaha!!

The Mom of a Sick Child

I remember this particular day at work. I was walking towards the cafe on the ground floor of the office building when a colleague, whose son was also in the same creche as Isa then, stopped me.

She looked like she was in a total mess.

She asked me of Isa’s paediatrician, and confided, with tears flowing down her cheeks that her son was down with cold – terrible cold – that left them both sleepless at night. She was at her wit’s end trying to find a cure, but to no avail. She went to at least two medical centres, but though her son should be warded, both centres were too full to admit him.

My heart broke for her. I’ve been there. I’ve undergone that phase long enough to understand how her heart might be aching at that particular moment.

Tending to a sick child often leaves me feeling helpless. I was in as much pain as the child that I thought, when I was going through it, that I might die of anxiety. Is Isa breathing well? Did he just swallowed his vomit? Did the vomit entered his lungs? Isa was hospitalised in twice: one for pneumonia and another one for bronchiolitis and during the period leading to the admissions I found myself wondering if there is an end to that – Isa was consistently sick and seemed like never free from cold.

I remember hugging my colleague that morning, trying to calm her down. I felt her. I gave her the paed’s number, and secretly hoping that having her child been taken care of by the professional will relieve some of her burden.

These days, whenever my mind tries to wander back to those times I had to stop it. They were too painful to be relived even if it is just in my mind , and I am glad I took the option, the route that leads to less probabilities of me suffering from such pain. Khadijah thus far, all Glory be to Allah, is as healthy as she could be, when Isa, when he was her age, was warded for the first time.

Whenever I read, or hear about my friends who were in the same situation like this, I wish I could give them a hug and tell them to hang in there. It will be over soon.

I really do.