Month: September 2015

Visiting Zoo Negara

My husband loves animals in a way that is very dissimilar to mine, if there’s any left of that kind of love in me. I was surprised to discover that when we got married, because really, how on earth could anyone watch Natgeo Wild, or Natgeo all day long and remember all those little trivia about a certain species of animal? Just the other day I had to listen to his ‘story’ about orca, coming from the documentary he downloaded and watched… alone, of course.

Because of his weird interest, naturally Zoo Negara is a place he likes to visit. But he has refused to visit much sooner, and only recently I managed to get him to agree to make the trip. Isa is already three (and worryingly shows lack of interest in animals and nature for that matter) and we just can’t afford to wait for Khadijah to grow up to make it the most perfect time to visit the zoo. She’s shown her aptitude for going out and behaving nicely so why not now before our classes begin?

In case you are not aware, as Zoo Negara receives two pandas from China on a loan – so if you’d like to see them (for 20 minutes only) you may pay an extra RM22 for adult and RM11 for children on top of the usual fee, which is RM32 per adult and RM11 per child. We opted out of seeing the pandas, partly because I have no interest whatsoever in them, and my husband can be quite calculative himself despite his interest (“RM 22 for 20 minutes? That’s like RM 1 per minute, so no way!”).

And now I can say that lucky we didn’t pay that much, because kids will always, always be kids. Khadijah became really sleepy after half an hour being in the zoo and later slept peacefully in her stroller, and Isa  just could not be bothered with the animals after the first few. By the time we reached the safari he’s already crying for milk.  We purposely didn’t bring his bottle with us thinking that he’d enjoy seeing the animals much that he’d forget the bottle – but that didn’t happen apparently.

Because we the stroller was still occupied by his sleeping sister, my husband had to carry Isa on his back for some times – which was a better option that dragging him around. And just as a note for the future Isa who may be reading this: you cried and refused to see the tiger, fearing that it may eat you alive.

Overall, I think the Zoo has improved a lot since I last visited it 6 years ago. It is definitely children-friendly, with the trams ready for you should you just lose your legs and energy along the way. We paid RM3/person for a half-way trip back to the entrance, and I’d say the ride, despite it being quite short, was worth it given at our condition that time: a preschooler throwing tantrum, and a baby who just woke up and refused to stay quiet in the stroller.

Some notes:

  • Bring your own food and have a little picnic. There are many nicely placed benches overlooking the animals. We had our brunch next to the monkeys, for your info. Nice view nevertheless.
  • The animal show was not that impressive, at least compared to the one we saw at Zoo Melaka (Malacca Zoo) a couple of years back.
  • The Zoo photographers may usher you to the photo booth and snap some photos of you. We had ours printed before we left. We paid RM30 for the photo – the price for the one and only decent family photo so far.
  • Go early if you must. The zoo opens at 9 AM, and it is just the right time to be there. We had our meals, saw perhaps a quarter of the zoo, before relaxing a bit while watching the animal show at 11 AM. Plan your visit wisely.
  • The zoo also offers annual membership for children at the price of RM30/year. It is tempting for me to make a project for Isa based on that, but since the accompanying adult must pay the full price…I’ll pass. Even if the Zoo is less than 20 minutes away from my house.
  • There’s no more KFC within the zoo area. Yes, that iconic KFC is gone.

10 Years of Blogging

“…we write to find out what we know, and what we want to say.” (William Zinnser ‘Writing to Learn’)

10 years

In three months, it will be 10 years of me blogging.

I have moved from Blogspot to WordPress, and then experimented for a year with a self-hosting one, tried Livejournal and Tumblr along the way throughout those 10 years. Nevertheless, I guess now I am back to the free WordPress. Self-hosting seems to be too much of a work, the kind I am not so keen to dwell on despite paying only RM35/year, and I’d rather lose the flexibility and choices it offers  than be overwhelmed by them.

I can now confidently announced that I am back to blogging on this particular blog – one with its url bears my name, which houses now 700+ random whining and rantings and unstructured thoughts of a then young and naïve university student, turned corporate slave, a wife, an unemployed mother of two and now a postgraduate student too. Last night I went through some of them. While I am truly embarrassed by at least half of them, I am still going to keep them here. It’s a proof of an evolving point of view, maturity and wisdom over the years.

My purpose for blogging has also changed over the years. As a consistent diarist, I craved jotting down my random thoughts. When I discovered blogging during my first year of university, I joined the bandwagon, partly to satisfy the diarist in me (despite having to screen my posts to ensure a certain level of privacy maintained) and partly to connect to my family whom I left 10,000 miles away. I also noticed that my blog, when I was active in the student organisation, also served as a communication medium among my friends in the Malaysian community in Manchester. I came back for good to Malaysia in 2009 and began my working life, which witnessed how my energy was absorbed mercilessly by 9-5 job that I was not inspired to write, at all.

Then I became a mom.

In a way I could never explain, my children me to write consistently again, and unashamedly my posts revolve around them. I felt a strong need to record my life with them, which very much feels like a life being totally redefined. Hence I began writing on a new blog. I hope – though no blogging platform is that permanent – that my posts will serve as a memoir of some sort for my children to read and get to know me some day when they are older. Little did I know too when I began the new blog, that parenting and how I see life after carrying two children in my womb require much thoughts that need to be structured and captured – in writing specifically, because that is how I learn. I learn by writing.

And because I have a strong desire to learn as long as I live, I supposed this blog will see many days ahead, God willing.

May Allah ease. 

10 Things I Learned After 4 Years of Marriage

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Last night, just before I slept I took one last look at Facebook, and was reminded that today is my fourth nikah (wedding) anniversary. If not because of that Facebook reminder, the day may have passed without realising it – and that would be a shame because that is a good reason to be thankful.

Four years of staying married may not sound as glorious as 14 years or 24 years or 34 years – but when marriages these days sometimes only last for a few months, there is no way I should take it for granted. Alhamdulillah – all praise and thanks be to God. At least I am glad that this one passed the first two so-called crucial years of marriage.

After four years of living under one roof with a man, sharing joy and pain, living through good days and bad days, apart from raising two children together, I have learnt several things. I am jotting them down here as a reminder for myself.

  1. Know your rights as a wife, but focus more on fulfilling the rights of the partner.

    Marriage is an amazing opportunity to serve which reward is none other than His love. And such acts will be reciprocated by the partner sooner or later God willing. Good begets good.

  2. Do things because you want to please Allah first and foremost.

    There is no point on doing things or sacrificing certain things in your life because of your husband. He may forget, he may not appreciate – and you’ll be hurt and left in total pain when your expectation is not met. But God the Almighty will never forget, will never fail to appreciate them.

  3. Learn the love language(s) of your husband.

    I found that my husband loves it when I do things for him (i.e. Act of Service) more than getting him an expensive gift, holding his hand, or saying nice words. And I made it clear to him of my love language, and insist on getting enough ‘love’ when I feel like lacking. There’s no point in quietly sulking.

  4. In reference to point #3 – Ask. And more often than not you shalt get.
  5. Nobody’s perfect.

    During those moments when the worst of your partner emerges, remind yourself of the beautiful side of him; those traits that you love and adore. Whenever I am mad about anything my spouse did or did not do, I will ask this question: Is it worth doing damaging acts? Would I rather be with someone else? The answer is always ‘no’.

  6. Being thick-skinned as opposed to sensitive will make things easier. I guess that if anyone else hear the kind of jokes we make about each other, they would think that the one teased is severely hurt. At least I don’t. I know my worth that even if my husband is making fun about all my shortcomings I can laugh together with him. After all, if he doesn’t like all of those, why did he choose to marry me?
  7. Learn to speak ‘similar’ languages. 

    A person becomes your best friend because he or she understands you, have a lot in common with you, and because both of you are of the same ‘wavelength’. Because I want and need my husband to become my best friend forever a.k.a BFF, I see the importance of being able to speak the same language and to hold a conversation on his topics of interest. Engineering and physics, business-related issues, football, politics, religion etc. … and I am adding economics to the list now. I take it that I am doing well in this department, since my husband has never been out with his friends (outside office hours) :-P.

  8. Live and learn to love the in-laws. 

    Again, no one’s perfect. I am not perfect, and neither is, for instance my mother-in-law (just to refer to the typical feud exists between one’s wife and his mother). But I love my husband, and he is the lovable him now partly because of how his mother raised him. How could I not be thankful for that at the very least? I am lucky in a way however, because my husband understands that if I complain about certain things, it doesn’t mean that I hate them. It is just because sometimes I need him to be the sounding board. I love his family just the same, despite all the rantings. And oh, give presents – a lot of them if you have the means. They erase all the bad feelings you have towards a person like magic.

  9. Your family is a separate unit. It is hard to put this particular lesson in words, but I’ll try. I have learnt and realised after my first year of being married, that my husband sees our little union and growing family as an opportunity to build a thing from scratch, free of the influence of others. I, on the other hand, still carry the luggage and strong attachment to my family (which is not wrong to a certain extent, of course). My view was proven problematic if not hurtful to my husband. My arguments that more or less sound like ‘My/your father/mom does XX,so why can’t we/you/I do the same too?’ don’t work. What and how our families do it doesn’t matter. Both of us now are presented with the opportunity to do it differently and correctly (if the way it is being done is incorrect), so why hang on to those practices? Our little family is a separate entity on its own, with perhaps different (and hopefully better) internal culture, practices and new traditions to start.
  10. Say thanks – a lot. 

    No act of kindness by the spouse should be left unthanked. Even the smallest ones. Even those which are his responsibilities. I’ve read enough sad stories of dysfunctional families to be thankful of little things he does. Like when he brings home leftover fruit tarts from his departmental meetings because he knows I love fruit tarts but not talented enough to make them myself. Or when he lets me take unusually longer naps because he always thinks I am tired (even when I have the energy to run a marathon). Or when he kindly relieves me from having to iron his work clothes even after I becomw a full time SAHM. I know that not many men do these things, so I intend to keep mine by saying appreciating him.

So that’s it. 10 lessons I learned in my four (short) years of marriage, and I am looking forward to more wisdom.

May Allah ease.

p.s. Any wisdom you’d like to share with me on this matter?

I Am Back to School..and Loving it! (Part II)

 

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I have printed out my husband’s class timetable and put it on the notice board, one that sits right before me now. He is sitting for two professional exams this quarter. His ICAEW classes will begin this weekend and run until early December. He still has more than half way to go, which, if everything goes as he plans, will take nearly two years to complete.

Meanwhile, the timetable for my Master’s programme – Development Studies – has also been released. Yes, after 8 months of being a full time stay-at-home mom, now I am back to being a student, the one hat I truly miss wearing for the past 8 months, to be honest.

My classes will begin two days after my husband’s until the end of December. My initial plan was to take two subjects this semester, then pick another two next semester hence completing all five required coursework modules.  After that I will undertake the research part of the course, which I hope to finish in two semesters. That will make it 5 semesters in total – a sensible ‘slow and steady’ approach given my situation I suppose.

I discussed with my husband about the courses offered this semester. He’s encouraging me to enroll in three modules instead of two. Now that’s really not in the plan and to a certain extent unexpected of him. I even doubt that I could do well (partly because I have long set my mind that I’m going to choose only two) – three modules, with all the assignments and lengthy reading lists may be a bit too challenging for me to ace.

My only concern when devising my initial plan of finishing my Master’s degree in 5 semesters was the logistics. I’d like to avoid having to leave my two children to babysitters for various reasons – financial (I am a self-supporting student) and my growing lack-of-trust for outsiders. going without a babysitter is actually a feasible option, given that my classes only begins at 6 PM, just after office hour ends. The idea was to pass the kids to my husband to look after – either by me dropping the kids at his office for him to drive home with them while I go straight to the university, or by him coming home earlier just for me to have enough time to drive to the university.

But as much as his job was a 9-5 one, it is far from what is happening in reality. And working in a corporate office – having been there and done that – I would not want to make it hard for him having to leave office early too often. Three days a week could be too much I think, and I don’t really mind my studying taking a backseat.

But then again, he insisted. I don’t know what’s behind it but hell yeah, bring it on I say! After all, I am always more efficient when I am busier.

Last semester I sat for Development Theory & Practice module, and this semester I am thinking of enrolling in the compulsory Research Philosophy & Methodology, Globalisation & Development, and the elective Policy Analysis & Programme Evaluation. There are a few books I have requested for my husband to buy (since he’s covering all my out-of-pocket study expenses these days :-D) and I plan to start reading before the classes start. My brain sure needs some warming-ups after such a long break.

All in all, it is going to be a hectic period of four months. My husband will be away for his full-day classes on weekends, and me three days a week for three hours each.

I think our family can handle that. I hope my children can handle that.

****

Last night, I sat in our study room reading a book when Isa came to me.

“Abang Long (how he calls himself) wants to sleep with mommy.”

I told him it’s alright to sleep on my bed. After all my husband is suffering from cold and sleeps in a separate room.  I told him I am studying, that I would go and sleep with him later. I told him I need to become clever (the rationale we always give to the question ‘Why mommy/ayah needs to study?’), and he seems to buy it.

At that moment, I could foresee how the many nights to come would be like. A small part of me feels guilty for depriving him of the intimate moments (bedtime is always so), but I know this phase our family is going through comes with a huge bonus.

Sure, our weekends may not be that social anymore. I am nearly immobile with two kids – one stuck to my chest and another hanging onto my legs, as I always put it. We may not have enough fund for vacations, nor do we have the time and energy to indulge in one. Failing our exams means more money to be spent and longer period of studying, which we could not afford.

But despite this immediate drawbacks, I could see some lights. Bright ones in fact.

With both parents studying – Isa is accustomed to see us reading intensively. Reading is something natural – in our house it requires no specific time or spot to do. Children as we all know, mimic what we parents do and I could not be happier than for Isa to witness us doing this in his early years.

By now, Isa is also used to the concept of studying and learning which is not limited to any specific age groups. Studying and learning should never stops, and schools are never for the schoolchildren only. We are walking the talk here, and though learning can be done on our own informally, I am glad that formal education both of us are getting now provide the opportunity for us to inculcate in our children the desire and the need to learn without a stop, God willing.

If anything, these two are good-enough reasons for me to forego all my worries about my can’t-dos. I have begun explaining to Isa how our weeks to come would look like. After eight months of being by my side 24/7, he might need to acclimatise to the changes to come.

And I definitely need to begin properly stocking up Khadijah’s milk!

May Allah ease.