Books & Reading

Blogging: There and Back Again

When I revived this old blog some months ago to mark my 10th year of blogging I thought I would be able to be consistent about it. But somehow, at one point I began contemplating about distancing myself from social media. I have lived without Twitter. Scrolling on Facebook and Instagram on the other hand, was (and is still is) something I should work on reducing – so I resolved that’s where the focus should be.

After all, they are greedy time-eaters, I told myself. The longer I immerse myself in the matter of akhlaq and purification of hearts the more I could see that these media are not compatible with the practices of the Salaf in protecting their hearts from diseases. Name any diseases of the heart, and you could see how these social platforms can make it worse. To an extent, I believe that the benefits could never outweigh their harms.

But for some reasons, including that feeling of isolation being 24/7 at home with minimal adult interaction if I were to free myself from these social platforms, stopped me from doing so. So I told myself to set a limit and work around it.

Then I am left with another social account to deliberate on – this blog. My blog.

That is an undoubtedly a difficult decision to make. It is apparent that I have been on a long writing hiatus whether intentionally and unintentionally. I am truly weighing the alternative – my friends have, once in a while, warmed my heart by remarking the beneficial things they gained from some of my writings – but I am aware that I am, albeit subconsciously, creating an online persona that is perhaps could not be further than the truth. Words I chose may portray what I am not, an image that is deceiving to say the least. The stories I am wrote may have been subconsciously curated and filtered to let only the good parts show.

I certainly am not writing to get famous or have my posts viral. If that is what I have in mind, I have no business writing in English (on another note, I have to shamefully admit that my thoughts flow better if written in my second language, English). Posts in Bahasa Melayu, on Facebook,  with clickbait titles will get better hits if that is what I am looking for. But no, I don’t seek that, and hopefully never will be.

So some months ago I decidedly abandon this blog. That was the end of my personal public rantings, I concluded.

But as I finished Zinsser’s ‘On Writing Well’ , I was coaxed into writing again.

Maybe a private journal or a diary will suit the purpose I was trying to achieve too. I did try to reason against that change of mind. But would not a little consciousness that somebody else may read my posts persuade me to write better? For years my writing skills have benefited from that awareness of a readership, despite small, does exist for my blog so that is a winning point I should not discount, I concluded.

Paradoxically, as Zinsser admitted, I should never write for an audience of more than one.

Soon after you confront the matter of preserving your identity, another question will occur to you: “Who am I writing for? It’s a fundamental question, and it has a fundamental answer: You are writing for yourself.

You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.

And deep inside there is a growing urge to have my voice to be preserved – that is I am fully aware off.  As much as I know how impermanent WordPress is – I feel the desire to record my thoughts for my children to know me. Not myself as a mom, but how I feel and think as a person. It is an odd objective alright, one I didn’t particularly think of when I started the blog 10 years ago but somehow feels relevant now, and a desire not easily killed.

As Zinsser advised, I will only write on matters that I know most. And that, is certainly on myself and my life. I write above all, to introspect, to organise my thoughts, to clarify on them and understand my own feelings better.

So this is my blog: there and back again.

Because after all, I am a lifelong learner. And if I am writing to learn, there is no way I should ever abandon this again, shouldn’t I?

 

The Unseen Struggle of a Child

I am currently reading Erika Christakis’ book entitled ‘The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups’. I still have a few more chapters left, and while I have a lot to say on how the book is organised (it’s really hard to pinpoint the proofs put forward and follow the arguments) I am struck by a number of anecdotes, examples and snippets written.

One particular passage I couldn’t help but sharing here is this, a description of how a child may struggle to put on her coat (or perhaps, any other item of clothing) all by herself, in a kindergarten setting:

Occupational therapists use a concept called motor planning to describe the steps required to plan and carry out a series of movement. Putting a coat involves more than just sticking your arms through two sleeves. From the moment a young child is instructed to put on her coat, she has to think about how to move her body from one place to another, without bumping into her peers or knocking over their block tower. Then she has to position her body so she can grab the coat without pulling her backpack off the hook or pushing her boots to the floor. Then she has to find a big enough space to put her coat on without taking up other people’s space and think about  how she can get her right arm into what only appears to be the left sleeve and the left arm into what appears to be the right sleeve. This of course assumes she can see which part of the coat is the front and which is the back and transpose that visual image to her own body. And forget about zippers and buttons and snow pants and wet gloves that have turned inside out. There are probably dozens of motor planning steps required just to get outside.

If you are still not overwhelmed by that description, imagine instead having to fumble in a spacesuit in zero gravity with a wrench the size of a pair of tweezers and being asked to repair a two-hundred-million-dollar telescope on the international space station before being blown off -structure by satellite debris, like Sandra Bullock in the movie Gravity.

Just yesterday we were arguing over his refusal to take shower. I told him showering is easy and simple: take of your pants and shirt, step into the shower, pee, brush your teeth, use the shower gel, rinse, dry your body, put on your fresh clothes, and voila, you are ready to play again. To that he screamed: No, showering is difficult and a long process!

After reading the above passage, I could not help but feeling a little more emphatic.

Sure, if I list it down like that the process seems trivial to me, we adults can do these mindlessly with our eyes close. But to a 4-year-old child who has just mastered putting on and taking off clothes by himself in less than a few months, it indeed involves hard work, if from a child’s eyes the steps to take are as challenging as the author described.

Luckily, my husband has a little more empathy than I do – and seems to understand well how the brain of a child works: you will see how he lists down all the moves needed for my son to pee and clean himself, how to jump, how to turn an inside-out shirt to its right side. I could see how this approach eases the process for our son, but pheww, the waiting you have to endure for the process to finish, when you have a lot of other things to do will make any trace of empathy fly out the window. That methodic approach of the husband gives birth to another methodical person in my household (it is not something I truly dislike, but I am more carefree and now I have two persons commenting on how I do works).

But then again, that’s what a parent does. We do what is right, which is to be patient, and not what is convenient for us.

And surely, the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is now applicable to both of us.

“Nak main dengan mommy!”

Ignore the mess in the background, the children were having fun!

Ignore the mess in the background, the children were having fun!

Soalan pertama aku kepada Isa setiap kali dia terjaga dari tidur adalah “Abang Long nak buat apa hari ni?” dan jawapannya selalu konsisten : “ Abang Long nak main dengan mommy.”

‘Main dengan mommy’ bermaksud aku berada di sampingnya, berinteraksi dengannya (Isa rajin bercerita, lebih-lebih lagi sejak imaginative play sudah berkembang) walaupun kadang-kadang Isa tak kisah jika aku cuma duduk di sofa dan minum kopi sambil melayannya bermain dan bercerita.

But I have to tell you a secret: after a year and half being at home, I concede that I couldn’t stay focused at playing with him for more than 15 minutes. 15 minit. It’s a shame. Sometimes I feel terribly sleepy, sometimes I have to fight the urge to pick up my phone, or I just need to get up and do some chores. Their dad i.e. my husband has always been the fun one, not me.

Aku selalu terfikir: kalaulah ini yang didefinisikan sebagai meluangkan masa berkualiti, then I am really suck at it.

Aku rasa bersalah. Aku rasa bersalah sehinggalah akumendapat jawapan kenapa sukar sungguh untuk akududuk diam dan menemankan anak bermain tanpa multi-tasking, apabila membaca buku ‘You are Your Child’s First Teacher: Encouraging  Your Child’s Natural Development from Birth to Age Six’ tulisan Rahima Baldwin Dancy.

Kata Baldwin-Dancy dalam bab kedua bukunya di bawah subtopik  ‘Why Is It So Difficult to Be Home with Children Today?’ beliau menyedari ramai ibu bapa tidak menyangka bahawa kehidupan stay-at-home bersama anak-anak di rumah rupanya sangat mencabar.

Beliau percaya salah-satu faktor yang menyebabkan hal ini berlaku adalah struktur masyarakat dan gaya hidup yang berubah, di mana keluarga nuklear (dan subnuklear) hidup dalam berjauhan daripada keluarga besar masing-masing. Berdasarkan pengalaman Baldwin-Dancy, ibu (dan bapa) berpendidikan tinggi (university-educated) memang tidak mungkin boleh hidup terpencil dengan anak kecil tanpa interaksi dan bantuan daripada ahli keluarga besar. Ini ditambah lagi dengan kurangnya pengiktirafan dan penghargaan daripada masyarakat sekeliling secara umumnya tentang peranan ibu atau bapa stay-at-home.

It takes a village to raise a child – sebab itulah cadang Baldwin-Dancy kepada ibu bapa: carilah keluarga lain dan juga generasi yang lebih tua sebagai pengganti keluarga kembangan (extended family) jika tiada, yang sebenarnya turut berkongsi peranan membesarkan anak-anak.

Baldwin-Dancy turut menceritakan bagaimana sahabatnya, ketika berada di sebuah kampung di Mexico. Sahabatnya ini pengamal kaedah attachment parenting yang menggalakkan bayi dikendong i.e. babywearing. Selama Sembilan bulan sahabatnya itu mengamalkan babywearing, yang akhirnya menyaksikan dia hampir terbang semangat dek kepenatan hilir mudik dengan bayinya. Memang bayi di kampung itu semuanya dikendong sepanjang masa tetapi bukan semestinya oleh ibunya! Kadang-kadang bayi itu ada bersama neneknya, kadang-kala dikendong oleh kakaknya, dan ada ketikanya dengan makciknya. Pokoknya, seorang bayi di kampung itu tidak diasuh secara bersendirian oleh ibu bapanya sahaja.

Faktor kedua, kata Baldwin-Dancy, yang menyebabkan tinggal di rumah bersama anak-anak begitu sukar adalah kefahaman ibu bapa bahawa mereka harus fokus 100% kepada anak-anak i.e. anak-anak adalah prioriti utama. Kata penulis lagi, kefahaman ini tidak tepat  kerana membiarkan anak-anak memerhatikan ibu bapa melakukan kerja-kerja harian di rumah i.e. merupakan satu keperluan. Senang cerita, ada nilainya apabila mereka melihat pergerakan kita melipat baju, mambancuh teh, mengemop lantai dan sebagainya. Oleh sebab keperluan ini tidak dipenuhilah, kata Baldwin-Dancy, anak-anak mula menunjukkan tantrum, yang sering disalah tafsirkan oleh ibu bapa sebagai kesan kekurangan perhatian.

Malangnya, kehidupan moden yang sudah diringkaskan dan dipermudah oleh sekian banyak gajet dan makanan segera menyebabkan kerja-kerja seharian seperti memasak, menyapu lantai, dan lain-lain kerja fizikal berkurangan. Sudahnya, tiada apa lagi yang menarik untuk diperhatikan oleh anak-anak sedangkan itulah yang membantu mereka belajar dan membesar. Kata Jean Liedloff (pengasas konsep attachment parenting), kanak-kanak perlu menjadi pemerhati kerja-kerja seharian kita, bukan menjadi fokus utama ibu bapa sepanjang masa. Kita yang dewasa ini pun, kalau diperhatikan 24 jam sehari boleh jadi ‘sakit jiwa’.

Aku turunkan petikan daripada buku tersebut yang kufikir menarik:

“In her book she recommends keeping babies in physical contact all day night until they crawl, as is done in the Yequana culture, where the parent or caregiver may occasionally play with the child, but most of the time pays attentiton to something else, not the baby. Sge says in her article, “Being played with, talked to, or admired all day deprives the babe of this in-arms spectator phase that would feel right to him. Unable to say what he needs, he will act out his discontentment. This is the attention-getting behaviour parents interpret as needing more attention when in reality, the child just wants parent to take charge of adult life, because the child needs to see a life in order to imitate it!”

***

Aku boleh menerima penjelasan penulis buku ini bukan kerana ia membebaskan aku daripada rasa bersalah. Bukan juga kerana sekarang aku ada alasan lebih kukuh untuk membiarkan anak bermain sendiri (bermain sendiri pun ada cabarannya sekarang, lebih-lebih lagi dengan wujudnya gajet yang bagi-terus-diam sebagai alternatif). Tetapi penjelasan ini membolehkan aku untuk lebih fokus dan memahami prioriti dalam memenuhi keperluan anak-anak, bukan escapisme.

Isa dan Khadijah masih perlukan aku untuk bermain di samping mereka pada masa-masa tertentu. Kajian menunjukkan permainan anak-anak menjadi lebih sofistikated dan kompleks bila ada sedikit ‘bantuan’ daripada orang dewasa, dan itu bagus untuk mereka. Tetapi lebih penting daripada itu aku mengajar diri aku untuk slow down. Perlu vakum lantai? Tak perlu cepat-cepat. Ambil masa, dan jika mereka mahu menolong, berikan peluang. They need movement, and here’s a chance. Tak payah tergesa-gesa mahu siapkan semua kerja dalam to-do list. Perlu jemur baju? Biarkan mereka ikut serta, bukan halang mereka dengan alasan ‘Mommy nak cepat ni, ada banyak kerja lain!’. Memang susah nak amalkan, tapi kalau aku boleh  tinggalkan banyak perkara lain untuk berada di rumah 24/7 dengan mereka, maka ini perkara wajib aku lakukan dan dahulukan.

Contact times, pada aku, perlu bukan sahaja untuk hal-hal sedemikian. Lebih lama contact time, lebih banyak teachable moments  yang merupakan peluang untuk kita mendemonstrasikan nilai-nilai penting dalam kehidupan. Kalau tak duduk lama dengan anak, macam mana mereka nak Nampak cara-cara melayan tetamu? Cara selesaikan masalah e.g. bila air tumpah? Cara mengawal emosi bila marah? Anak-anak mengambil contoh tauladan daripada orang yang paling rapat dengan mereka i.e. ibu bapa. We are their universe and they look up to us, so take some responsibilities and start behaving yourselves.

Lebih daripada itu, aku kena belajar untuk menerima dan meminta bantuan. Belajar untuk percaya bahawa anak-anak akan belajar banyak perkara daripada ahli keluarga selain aku dan ayahnya. It helps me to keep myself sane too, and learn to trust others. Anak-anak memerlukan aku, but I’m not going to be at their disposal all the time – and that’s okay. It’s still healthy and maybe even crucial for their development.

Bi iznillah.

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

IMG_7244

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!

 

 

 

Notes from Al-Muhaddithat

I found this unpublished, unfinished short note on the book I read last year entitled al-Muhaddithat. I thought that rather then putting it in the trash, I might as well publish it for my benefit and record if not for others.

****

Well, I am cheating a bit here. I chose the book ‘al-Muhaddithat’ to read in December 2013, and a heavy read as it is, I only finished in in January 2014. The down side of having a goal like the one I made is that you might be tempted to read books just to cross it from your reading list, which is totally defeating the purpose.

So I slowed down and tried to savour the book. It was indeed an interesting read, laden with amazing and inspiring facts.

Here’s what I have learned, roughly. I should have cross-checked these with the book, but I don’t have the book around at the moment – so this comes from top of my head:

  1. I am amazed by the kind of support the women received during those time to become an expert in the field. It is worth noting that women from the households of male scholars were ones who became scholars themselves – which means that those who understood Islam most were ones who supported and realized the need and importance of women to become scholars themselves. I guess the number one prerequisite is this: Family support.
  2. Unfortunately for me, this book – or maybe just how their history were recorded – would not allow for me to know these female scholars traits and attitude, or their specific practices in life, other than that they were pious, upright person.
  3. When I read to my husband some lines on how these scholars devoted themselves to a certain discipline of Islamic knowledge, my husband asked : ‘Did they ever get married? Did they have children?” . By the look of it, with the kind of commitment they made, marriage and family seems impossible. But who knows. They had slaves during those days – so it is perhaps a different social condition altogether.
  4. Many scholars started to study at a very young age. Very, very young. Again, family support, especially from the males. They brought the girls to the mosque and other places attending lessons.
  5. The female scholars taught. And they taught both males and females. Many of the students were great scholars. And they taught – I am truly envy this – in their homes and garden. As well as mosques.
  6. There are many anecdotes in the book, which inspires me. I hate the notions that some women have that you ought to find a good, religious, knowledgeable husband to learn from him. Not that finding good, religious and knowledgeable husbands is wrong, but why on earth would you rely on someone else to become knowledgeable? Why don’t you go and learn yourself? Many anecdotes shared in the book (and I at least have heard one myself from a shaykh), that show how the knowledgeable women taught their husbands on certain matters related to fiqh and all.

2014: Year in Review

Whenever I look back into the past, I recognise that there are some years which were more momentous than the other. Most often, these years were the year in which I could not predict what could happen due to the life-changing events that would occur in that year. Take 2003 for instance. At the end of 2002, I sat for my O-Level equivalent national exam (or SPM), and the coming of 2003 was full with uncertainties – what would my exam result look like? Where would it take me? Similar with the year 2009, in which I graduated, and I remember living by month (and for someone who loves to plan, like me, it was such a headache) because I truly had no idea what would I do after I graduated.

And the coming of 2015 gives me the same feeling. It is full of the unknowns, to a level that I feel slightly uncomfortable about that. My last date at work is 31 December 2014, and 2015 is really the beginning of a chapter in my life – as an unemployed full-time home maker and a part-time student, who is expecting a second child in less than two months.

I wish I could make a proper plan like I always do.

I wish I could make proper resolutions like I did for every other new year in the past. But I don’t exactly know how I would fare being at home, and how will it be taking care of TWO kids instead of one.

Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to review my achievements with regards to my 2014 resolutions (I wrote about them here) – and see if I could carry forward some of them to 2015.

Alright, I was impressed with an article I read, where a woman looks 10 years younger by drinking more water. In her case 3L of water as prescribed by her doctor. I can't promise 3L, but I'll try 8 glasses. That's 1.6L.   It is such a wonder how hard it is to make such a simple thing a habit. I know there is a debate on how much our body actually needs, but the bottom line is - I need to drink more. I notice that I drink less on weekends, which causes constipation! I hate that bloated feeling, so at least for this particular reason I must drink ENOUGH water.   Also, I can't wait to look 18 again!

Alright, I was impressed with an article I read, where a woman looks 10 years younger by drinking more water. In her case 3L of water as prescribed by her doctor. I can’t promise 3L, but I’ll try 8 glasses. That’s 1.6L. It is such a wonder how hard it is to make such a simple thing a habit. I know there is a debate on how much our body actually needs, but the bottom line is – I need to drink more. I notice that I drink less on weekends, which causes constipation! I hate that bloated feeling, so at least for this particular reason I must drink ENOUGH water. Also, I can’t wait to look 18 again!

Verdict : FAILED. 

However, since this is such an important habit to instil, I’ll definitely carry it forward in 2015 InshaAllah. After all, I really need to be serious about this given the fact that I am going to be 30 next year God willing, and will be breastfeeding my second baby too. It will definitely be more challenging since I realise that I drink water less when I am at home, compared to when I am in the office.

In support of #9, maybe that this one is included in the list. It's really a love-hate relationship I have with my smartphone. It helps me to find recipes easily for instance, but it could consume my life! I always feel the need to check my FB, Instagram. It is harmful, and we know it.    So bring it on - No-Phone Weekends!

In support of #9, maybe that this one is included in the list. It’s really a love-hate relationship I have with my smartphone. It helps me to find recipes easily for instance, but it could consume my life! I always feel the need to check my FB, Instagram. It is harmful, and we know it. So bring it on – No-Phone Weekends!

Verdict: FAILED, miserably I have to add.

Of course, I will carry this forward with more constraints (Since I am going to be a stay-at-home mom) – off the phone most of the time except when the child(ren) are sleeping.

That little brain needs stimulation, and I am all for it! I know it should not be grand every time (little things count, right?), but this one would require me to prepare ahead and think. While I am lucky to live in a big city where all I need is to be resourceful, the challenge here is really to maximise Isa's exposure to nature.

That little brain needs stimulation, and I am all for it! I know it should not be grand every time (little things count, right?), but this one would require me to prepare ahead and think. While I am lucky to live in a big city where all I need is to be resourceful, the challenge here is really to maximise Isa’s exposure to nature.

Verdict: Uncertain.

Since I didn’t properly record (in the form of blog posts) as consistent as I wished, I could not track this, though I am pretty sure that even if I failed, it was severely lagging behind my target. As I am going to stay at home with my children soon inshaAllah, this point will be carried forward in other forms of plan.

I am a blogger since 2007, and only recently I realised that blogging, apart from being an outlet for my never silent mind, has been beneficial to me in many ways. It helps me to structure my ideas and opinions, and evidently makes me more articulate.  And now that I am a mother, I would like this blog, in its way to record my life playing that role. So that someday, when I am no more around, Isa would have some memories of me - written.

I am a blogger since 2007, and only recently I realised that blogging, apart from being an outlet for my never silent mind, has been beneficial to me in many ways. It helps me to structure my ideas and opinions, and evidently makes me more articulate. And now that I am a mother, I would like this blog, in its way to record my life playing that role. So that someday, when I am no more around, Isa would have some memories of me – written.

Verdict: FAILED, which is pretty obvious.

I am not sure how I would manage blogging once I stay at home full time, but I will try to post maybe once a week next year. I don’t know yet, could not even do I trial run as I did this time last year.

Enough said. This item needs to be in this list, because it is such a headache to see them piling up. Doing this on a daily basis may not be the greenest thing to do (best to wash your laundry on full load) but it helps. It helps me from getting stressed out and overwhelmed with folding and putting them back into the wardrobe.

Enough said. This item needs to be in this list, because it is such a headache to see them piling up. Doing this on a daily basis may not be the greenest thing to do (best to wash your laundry on full load) but it helps. It helps me from getting stressed out and overwhelmed with folding and putting them back into the wardrobe.

Verdict: FAILED. 

Because I am tired all the time, and I have found a better way to manage my laundry. We’ll see about next year, but this item would not be big anymore I suppose.

While every mosque in Malaysia would definitely has its schedule of weekly religious classes, studying different topics/books on different days, I sadly could not commit. At this stage, what I knew I need is more than just 'tazkirah', but in-depth studying of a topic. Inflexibility in the schedule is really a problem now that I am a mother (never mind how lame this excuse is), so I know, I need to find alternative for structured study sessions if I really want to widen and deepen my knowledge.  I found that Seekers Guidance provide good courses for free (students are welcomed to give donations), and I enrolled for one course before and found it really beneficial. I have enrolled for one more which will begin in January and hopefully many more to come - and I am sure that Resolution #5 will support this one - early morning should be a great time to study.  I also included in this resolution, attending live classes, perhaps attending courses organised by al Kauthar at least twice a year. I love their courses because they are structured excellently and only last for one full weekend.

While every mosque in Malaysia would definitely has its schedule of weekly religious classes, studying different topics/books on different days, I sadly could not commit. At this stage, what I knew I need is more than just ‘tazkirah’, but in-depth studying of a topic. Inflexibility in the schedule is really a problem now that I am a mother (never mind how lame this excuse is), so I know, I need to find alternative for structured study sessions if I really want to widen and deepen my knowledge. I found that Seekers Guidance provide good courses for free (students are welcomed to give donations), and I enrolled for one course before and found it really beneficial. I have enrolled for one more which will begin in January and hopefully many more to come – and I am sure that Resolution #5 will support this one – early morning should be a great time to study. I also included in this resolution, attending live classes, perhaps attending courses organised by al Kauthar at least twice a year. I love their courses because they are structured excellently and only last for one full weekend.

Verdict: FAILED

I enrolled myself into a course TWICE because I could not discipline myself to finish one in the allocated time. Boooo!! Nevertheless, I am a Master student now, so I suppose that counts as 6 informal causes 😛

I often wonder why it was so much easier for me to wake up at 4.30 AM during my school years to do revision and stuff, while it is so difficult to do so nowadays. Perhaps the bed has become comfier. Or now that I have a partner, nothing is fancier than to cuddle up. Whatever the causes are, I need to fight the temptation and wake up earlier.  An extra hour or two is precious. Time is life. Wasting time is wasting life.   By waking up earlier I could do more things: perform supererogatory prayers that are much loved by God, read, clean the house, or just watering the plants.  All of this, however, are only possible if the morning bird in our family i.e. Isa doesn't wake up too.

I often wonder why it was so much easier for me to wake up at 4.30 AM during my school years to do revision and stuff, while it is so difficult to do so nowadays. Perhaps the bed has become comfier. Or now that I have a partner, nothing is fancier than to cuddle up. Whatever the causes are, I need to fight the temptation and wake up earlier. An extra hour or two is precious. Time is life. Wasting time is wasting life. By waking up earlier I could do more things: perform supererogatory prayers that are much-loved by God, read, clean the house, or just watering the plants. All of this, however, are only possible if the morning bird in our family i.e. Isa doesn’t wake up too.

Verdict: FAILED. FAILED. FAILED.

I have no idea how my routine would be next year (though I do have a tentative routine in mind) but I know this will be a part of it. Some days of the week at least.

This has become my current obsession recently, as I started doing this nearly two months ago. I wrote about this in another post, and doing this satisfies the diarist in me. Though I am studying verse and verse, I am really challenging myself to get the verses to speak to me directly - to relate them to my life. It is a very slow process studying one verse could take me a few days, jotting down my reflections and thoughts on that along the way while referring to many tafseer available to me. Slow as it is, I am reminded that it is exactly the way the Prophet's Companion studied the verses of the Quran. They would learn ten verses at one time, and would not move to the next ten unless they had fully digested, understood, and implemented the verses in their lives.   I really, really encourage my fellow Muslim readers to start their Quranic journals.

This has become my current obsession recently, as I started doing this nearly two months ago. I wrote about this in another post, and doing this satisfies the diarist in me. Though I am studying verse and verse, I am really challenging myself to get the verses to speak to me directly – to relate them to my life. It is a very slow process studying one verse could take me a few days, jotting down my reflections and thoughts on that along the way while referring to many tafseer available to me. Slow as it is, I am reminded that it is exactly the way the Prophet’s Companion studied the verses of the Quran. They would learn ten verses at one time, and would not move to the next ten unless they had fully digested, understood, and implemented the verses in their lives. I really, really encourage my fellow Muslim readers to start their Quranic journals.

Verdict: Failed halfway.

This is one of the most satisfying introspective thing I have done, and I could not deny the need to start doing this again. May need to improvise the system though.

There are times when laziness gets the best of me. And at that time, all those visions of preparing healthy food for my family will vanish. But I am more determined than ever to prepare homemade meals. What comes with this might be the need for me to prepare meal plans (this doesn't work before, but maybe I can try again), and going to the market more often, but I am up for that.   My husband is a fan of my (lousy) cooking who rarely complains, so really, why should not I cook more often?  Oh yes, breakfast at home too. On weekdays.

There are times when laziness gets the best of me. And at that time, all those visions of preparing healthy food for my family will vanish. But I am more determined than ever to prepare homemade meals. What comes with this might be the need for me to prepare meal plans (this doesn’t work before, but maybe I can try again), and going to the market more often, but I am up for that. My husband is a fan of my (lousy) cooking who rarely complains, so really, why should not I cook more often? Oh yes, breakfast at home too. On weekdays.

Verdict: Uncertain, since I lost track. 

I may not cook exactly 4 times a week (on certain weeks I didn’t cook at all, and on the other I cooked everyday) but I guess on average I cooked 3-4 times a week. Not bad, baby!

Phew. I really need to get back to reading. I feel more and more stupid each day without doing this. I put a very minimal target - one book a month. Of course, non-fiction doesn't count. I want Isa to see me reading more often, and hopefully ignite the love for reading in him.   The good thing is I have a brilliant husband with whom I can discuss things I read about.

Phew. I really need to get back to reading. I feel more and more stupid each day without doing this. I put a very minimal target – one book a month. Of course, non-fiction doesn’t count. I want Isa to see me reading more often, and hopefully ignite the love for reading in him. The good thing is I have a brilliant husband with whom I can discuss things I read about.

Verdict: Successful! Alhamdulillah.

So here’s the one and only part that I manage to carefully track and fulfill – I am yet to update my full list, but InshaAllah by end of December it will be 12 (non-fiction) books in my read list. That is largely contributed by the fact that this one was integrated into the ‘personal goal drive’ at work (I wrote about it here ) and that the module I took this semester requires a lot of reading.

I don’t know how I would manage my time with two kids later on and find a window to read, but I may put an additional 6 books into my reading resolution next year, making it, maybe,  ‘to finish 18 books in 2015’. We’ll see.

We have a free gym one floor down my office, so I really have no excuse. The major target is to get fit. The bonus point is I get a better body.  I am going to be 29 March next year, and I am pretty sure my metabolism by now has started to slow down.    Oh yes, I want to get healthier before I try for the next baby. No more back pain, no more iron deficiency.

We have a free gym one floor down my office, so I really have no excuse. The major target is to get fit. The bonus point is I get a better body. I am going to be 29 March next year, and I am pretty sure my metabolism by now has started to slow down. Oh yes, I want to get healthier before I try for the next baby. No more back pain, no more iron deficiency.

Verdict: FAILED, as early as March.

Then I got pregnant in May, so this eventually stopped. I was as heavy as I am now (30 weeks pregnant) in March this year. 57-58kg. The heaviest non-pregnancy weight I ever had in my life. Can’t wait to get skinny again with the coming of the second baby 😀

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So that’s it. A review of my performance this year – with regards to my resolutions. How was your year?

Reading List : October 2014 Update

I went to Kinokuniya the other day, looking for some homeschooling books. I have searched on its website before that, but was disappointed to know that many of the books suggested by homeschooling moms around the Net are available upon order only. I thought I’d go to the bookstore anyway (Isa was kidnapped by the grandparents, so it’s just perfect for book-browsing) and see what they have in stock.

It turns out that Kinokuniya really doesn’t have many books on homeschooling (I do not wonder why, it’s illegal here in Malaysia except for very few exceptions) but I still buy two books.

One of them is Learning at Home: A Mother’s Guide to Homeschooling  by Marty Layne. Since this week was a parenting/education book of a different style than Einstein Never Used Flashcards, I managed to finish it in, guess what, four days! I intend to share a few notes on what I found interesting in this book (not much, but some are truly useful) in another post, God willing.

So my read list goes like this, now:

  1. Al Muhaddithat
  2.  Sustainability is for Everyone
  3.  Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Reread)
  4. PhD: Kecil Tapi Signifikan
  5. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  6. Ukuran Pembangunan Pendekatan Kapitalis dan Islami
  7. Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
  8. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
  9. Learning at Home: A Mother’s Guide to Homeschooling

I am currently reading three books:

  1. Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart
  2. Development as Freedom
  3. The Playful Parent: 7 Ways to Happier, Calmer, More Creative Days with Your Under-Fives

One of them is in the list because my Professor has made in near compulsory to read (in fact for my first term paper I had to use the book – Development as Freedom – intensively). The third one is the book I bought along with Learning at Home. The first book is well, a true gem that I am taking my own sweet time to finish it.

Anyway, I am still one book behind, to date,  to achieve my 12 books a year target (shame on me!).

 

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This entry is part of my ‘Read-a-Book-a-Month’ attempt.

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