Children Toys: To Clean Up or Not Clean Up

At the very time I am writing this, my living room is a total mess. Just to illustrate it better, I am shamelessly putting a photo of it:

And at this very moment too, there is a little boy sitting in front of me having his breakfast, which means I can expect more mess soon.

There are days when I am a bit more productive than usual that before I go to bed I’d clear up my living room, and spare myself from the headache when I wake up in the morning. But it was not yesterday (most days, to be honest), when I was more keen on finishing the chapter I was reading.

Now that my little girl has started being mobile, and active I must add, she also contributes to this. Yes, my 5-month-old baby is now officially a proficient mess-making machine. Just the other day upon coming out of the kitchen I saw her pulling a small basket of toys of the toy shelf. In addition to that she now also pays much interest to what his brother is playing – which leads to his brother being annoyed and leaves whatever he’s playing just like that. In short, she contributes both directly and indirectly to the mess 😀

I am torn when it comes to messy play.

Sure, this is not even messy if you follow the ‘definition’ of messy play (which involves paints, sand, and perhaps all things gooey), which I know has enormous benefits to the children. Nevertheless, it still gives me some sort of headache though I am never an OCD person. Just the other day I could only stare at my wall helplessly; one blotted with a patch of pink homemade play-dough, and found myself making a silent promise that I would never make a new batch of play-dough.

I am torn because as much as I’d like to encourage creative play, how much responsibility should I give to my children when it comes to putting the toys away?

I could bark on Isa to put away the toys and blocks as soon as he finishes with them, but what if that stops him from, you know, developing further what he’s playing by leaving them overnight for instance? I remember the kind of play I was engaged in when I was smaller, and it didn’t happen only for one evening. Sometimes I’d take a break, but would like to come back to the scene without having to rebuild it, so there’s really no point of putting the toys away.


When Isa was younger, the rule ‘take one out, put one away’ worked well. But his play is getting more intricate and elaborate, that to not mix up his train set with his Mega Blocks and wooden blocks, or his countless toy cars is just impossible. But allowing all of those to be taken out means it will be harder to get him to clean up. And would really like to NOT yell.

Not pushing him to tidy clean up however, I fear, would bring about the false sense of entitlement, that there’s always someone else (often be me) to sort up all the mess. But to keep on reciting the rule ‘Put them away’  may discourage him from playing at all, and I have seen it first hand with the Lego set we bought him. We got him a 1000-piece Lego set a few months back, and suddenly his mom (that’s me) became obsessed with the cute little bricks that she kept dictating how and where the bricks should be kept and organized over and over again. The outcome? Isa did not touch the set for more than two weeks. Well, it could be the fact that he was a bit frustrated after having some difficulties (after all the set is meant for 4+), but I suspect it was due to my irritating, over-controlling behaviour: ‘Too many rules I’d rather not play with it,’ I guess.  Since I changed my approach, apparently Isa has warmed up and found some pleasure in playing with the little bricks.

I have long came to yield to the belief that a house with kids could never be spotless, but anyone, seriously, how do you deal with this? Where’s the fine line between being too restrictive and too liberal as a parent?

Maybe I think a tad too much.


Khadijah’s First Time in a Pool


My husband came home from work earlier than usual. The sun was still shining, and it felt just like the best time for…swimming!

Isa has been away from the pool for the longest time – I could not remember when exactly was the last time we’ve been there, perhaps when I was pregnant with Khadijah. And Khadijah, she seems ready for the new adventure, so we said, why not.

Isa was reluctant at first – he has been acting that way whenever I invited him to go out, but agreed to join a bit later once he saw Khadijah all prepped up in her swimming suit, a hand-me-down from her cousin.

The adult pool was a bit dirty, so we didn’t let Isa go there as he’d usual do. He joined Khadijah in the children pool – a smaller, but sufficient for these two to have fun. Khadijah indeed is a natural water lover much like her brother, but when I watched her reaction and her brother’s reaction in a video captured during his first time, they are totally different. Isa was all hyped up, but Khadijah was..a bit calmer, and perhaps analytical.

No two children are the same, remember?


Khadijah: The Fifth Month

photo 1 photo 2

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.

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.

The Siblings Dynamics

I remember the day we brought Isa in to see his sister for the first time. Despite our effort to prepare him for the moment e.g. begin calling him Abang Long (‘Big Brother’) much earlier, reading pregnancy books together, and bringing him along to ultrasound sessions with the obstetrician, letting him choose the name for his sister (He chose Khadijah over Khaulah, and even cried to make his point -_-‘ , his expression at that moment was priceless. It was something I couldn’t bring myself to snap a photo of.

The first day they both met. In person.

The first day they both met. In person.

He was stunned at the sight of a baby – one unknown and unfamiliar to him – lying next to me.

But Isa warmed up quite quickly to his sister.

The family members have been well advised by my concern parents to pay extra attention to Isa, which I believe that really helped him to adjust. He’s fine during the early days, and to date, after four months I could see that both my children adore each other, Alhamdulillah.

I love to observe the dynamics of the brother-sister relationship. Sure, the love between them are God-given, but isn’t it amazing to see such pure, somehow selfless love emerges?

1. More often than not, the first thing Isa would ask once he wakes up is ‘Where is Khadijah?‘ and ‘Is she awake?

2. Sometimes, when both of them are awake before I do, I will rise to the sounds of laughter of my children entertaining each other. That’s pretty heavenly if you ask me.

3. Khadijah sleeps better if she has her brother on her side.

4. Things Isa does to Khadijah which I thought would make her cry often makes her smile and laugh.

5. Isa doesn’t think of Khadijah as a hindrance to him playing. In fact he welcomes her, which is evident by the fact that he could not understand why he needs to be quiet so that Khadijah will fall asleep to allow mommy to play with him. Khadijah can always join, that’s what he’s saying.

6. No, he would not entertain the idea of leaving Khadijah to someone else to be looked after. During the early days, he would urge me to stop whatever I was doing and go tend to Khadijah if she cried.

7.   The concern on him hurting Khadijah only arises when he is sleepy. He’d attempt all sorts of weird things – like all sleepy kids do when they are overly tired; when he could not control himself. Like a few days back, when he bit Khadijah’s little finger and her chubby arm. *mommy cries*

8.  Of all the things I do with Khadijah that excludes him, reading  aloud for her is the only activity he could not tolerate. Once he screamed and rolled on the floor crying because I read to Khadijah while he was having his meal and could not join. Well, I take that as a sign that reading is such an intimate, pleasurable time that he never want to miss.

9. These days I often catch him singing and ‘reading’ books to his little sister. That melts my heart, you know.

10. And in return for all the sweet gestures her brother has shown to her, Khadijah has scratched his brother’s forehead and cheeks, torn his brother’s Lego instruction sheets, and destructed his brother’s train tracks – when mommy least expected it. Her brother’s reaction? ‘Khadijah, jangan XXX, nanti Allah marah, nanti Abang Long marah!’ (Khadijah, don’t do that. Or else God will be angry with you, and I will be angry with you.)

It’s a beautiful relationship they have, and though things are going fine thus far, but I don’t know what the future holds – so I am still going to read that ‘Siblings without Rivalry’ book!



May Allah ease.

Our Little Khadijah

Khadijah turned 3 months two days ago, and only then I realised that I have not written anything specifically about her here. I should not let the moments pass without me recording them  – after all this blog is meant for that.

My little Khadijah, alhamdulillah, is all I could ask for in a baby. I often describe my firstborn Isa as a textbook/easy baby. That is really how I feel when caring for him, but seriously, my second child is easier beyond imagination.

She’s not even two months old when she started sleeping throughout the night – by night I mean a 5-to-6 hour stretch. She breastfeeds well – in a way that is different from his brother, where she would stop only when she’s really full and then normally falls asleep if she decides that she’s satisfied (while his brother would fall asleep during feeding, often unsatisfied). She can be left to entertain herself to sleep in many occasions in addition to that, so really, in the sleep department I am generally okay. No panda eyes yet.

Khadijah, as many commented, is like a mirror image of his brother Masha Allah! I didn’t notice that of course (their noses are totally different is you ask me) but when I checked against Isa’s old photos, it is so true – she looks exactly like her brother. By that it means that both of them seem to take after my look (quoting what people said) – yay to that!

And the famous mother-daughter bond – it’s there, and it’s truly different from the connection I have with my son. Not in any way better, but essentially different. Perhaps a tiny bit more possessive and fiercely more protective of her. With my son I often feel overwhelmingly loved and adored by him – and these days, strangely protected by him, but with this girl it is the total opposite. I love her and adore her.

Now at 3 months, she has begun cooing intensively especially when he’s with my husband. Oh, and my husband could be wrong about this, she seems to really fight for her father’s attention against her big brother! I don’t think I notice anything like that when my husband is not around and we are left with ourselves – three of us, as my heart often warms at Khadijah’s adoring look towards her brother. And she’s not capable of making fist bumps!

Also, we are now a shopping team! Finally I might have someone who could comment on my outfits AFTER looking at them (as opposed to my husband who would say ‘I can’t notice any difference’, or my son whom when I ask would give the remark ‘It’s pretty’ without even examining my outfits). We’ve been on a few shopping trips (well, groceries included) and Khadijah is really one tough girl so far Alhamdulillah – rarely gets cranky and all.

To be honest, I could not bury that worrying thoughts I have always had. In all honesty too, when I knew I was pregnant for the second time, I secretly hoped for another boy. I don’t have the confidence to raise a girl, because I myself am still looking and searching for the truth. I feel that we are living in a truly distorted world. One day I feel satisfied that I thought I have found the true role designed by God for women in this world and another day I will be confused again. I don’t wish to discuss this further here- my point is, how can I raise the girl to be a human being who will fulfill her duty befitting of her as a female as prescribed by the Creator, when I myself, the mother is still looking for the correct prescription?

O Sweet Child of Mine

O Sweet Child of Mine

Surely Allah knows best when He sent me a girl – a perfect one all praise be to Him – and makes me work harder at that.

Aishah (radi Allahu anha) reported: A woman came to me with her two daughters. She asked me (for charity) but she found nothing with me except one date-fruit, so I gave it to her. She accepted it and then divided it between her two daughters and she ate nothing out of that. She then got up and went out. When the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) came in, and I narrated to him the story, he said, “He who is involved (in the responsibility) of (bringing up) daughters, and he is benevolent towards them, they would become protection for him against Hell-fire.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]

May Allah ease.

And So She Arrived

Monday 23 February 2015

I was already 3 days overdue, and though in the morning the bloody show – blood-tinged mucous – was observed, I felt okay. My mom reassured that bloody show means that the labour could still be far away. I had my husband on alert mode anyway, just in case, since he has a long meeting ahead at work. No contractions felt, except that night when I felt the baby started to headbutt my pelvic bones more frequently. I didn’t lose my sleep though.

Tuesday 24 Feb 2015

I requested for my husband to take a leave from work today, because today felt like The Day, and the mucous that came out was no more tinged with blood, there was already dark red blood. At 9 we found ourselves on the way to Tawakkal Specialist Hospital where I planned to give birth.

9.30 AM – I was asked upon arrival to undergo CTG monitoring. No strong contractions detected, but upon checking I was found to be 4cm dilated, hence needed to be admitted. My husband, my – soft-hearted husband – upon leaving me to deal with the admission reminded me : ‘If you need the epidural, just ask, and you better ask for it now before it is too late’. I laughed. Amidst the hype of having natural birth here I have my husband who would do whatever possible to ease the pain off me (I remember last time when I opted for epidural and complained about the pain, and he was like ‘We paid for it and you still feel the pain of childbirth?!’)

10:30 AM– I was given Labour Room 2, the same room in which I gave birth to Isa. I was given enema. The pain came, but it felt nothing like the one I experienced when I was in labour with Isa. With Isa, I was already down on my knees in pain with 4cm dilation, but this time at 4cm I am still at ease. I refused to lie down, and try to keep moving when the pain came. Being on all fours and moving my hip forward and backward especially  helped a lot. Only after the cannula was inserted that my movement became a bit limited. The doctor came, and applauded my choice of not getting epidural. The nurse too, for me seeming to go for all-natural childbirth. I told her I don’t care whether my labour could be termed ‘natural’ or not, it was just that this labour is different from the previous one, and at 4cm I think I could do without pain relief.

11:30 AM – The nurse came and got my contraction monitored by the CTG. The pain was felt more often on my hip – it felt like the baby was moving and hitting my bones, but the machine could only detect weak contractions. The nurses expected that I’d be given Pitocin in no time by the doctor. My husband stayed on my side, trying to find ways to distract me from the pain whenever it came. He offered to share some points from the lectures I knew he was listening to for the past few days, on the tafseer of Surah al Kahfi. I agreed.

12:30 PM – The nurse came and checked – I was already 8cm dilated, hence there’s no need for Pitocin. I requested for the catheter to not be inserted until later because I still wanted to move around, and my doctor agreed to insert that a bit later when I was closer to labour.

My husband went downstairs to grab his lunch (which was a loaf of bread and energy drinks). I was left alone in the labour room, and I remember looking straight at the ceiling – praying and crying. I didn’t wish to go through the pain, and now there was no way out and Allah is the only one I could hold on to. It is something I have long known, but it came like an epiphany at that time.

The pain was still tolerable up until around the time the doctor came and broke the water, and I think between 1:30 PM to 2:15 PM I had the worst time in my life. The pain was excruciating when it was there, but during the interval I could manage to smile and talk calmly. I remember grabbing my husband violently, screaming in pain and my husband most often was left clueless on what to do – massaging didn’t even help! I remember looking at the clock before me and putting a secret aim of delivering this precious baby by 2.30 PM, because the reality hits me – the only way I could get rid of the pain is by pushing the baby out, and fight the intolerable pain. The nurse offered Entonox but I vomited before I could try it properly, and decided to ditch that. I had the catheter inserted around this time.

Around 1:45 I surrendered, agreeing to the morphine injection offered, but of course it didn’t work. The pain was still there – it just gave me an extra ounce of calmness during the intervals. I remember hearing my husband kept reciting Selawat Syifa’, and surely that gave me the comfort I very much needed

2:00 PM – The nurse suggested that I lie on my left side and push gently whenever I feel like bearing down. She gently tried to calm me down whenever I started to scream in pain, and reminded me Allah has made my labour of much ease, as she thought that I was progressing very quickly. Should I push correctly now, she said, it would not be long before I could see my baby. I did so, and the nurses quickly made the arrangement for the final push with the doctor’s presence. Unfortunately, when everything was ready the doctor was still away offering her Zuhur prayer.

2:15 PM – I had to skip two contractions before the doctor arrived, and by the time she was ready in her scrubs the head was already showing. The nurse offered if I’d like to touch it – I said no. I was keener to push and get that little human out, which I did Alhamdulillah after that one long push, one that I made with my eyes shut, taking a few short breath along the way, and screamed ‘I could not push anymore’ just when I felt there was no more muscle left that I can control – and that’s when I knew it was over.

The baby was out.

My dear Khadijah was out, at 2:29 PM weighing 2.88 kg – warm and wet on my chest, breathing heavily. She has made her entrance into this world, the much awaited one. Alhamdulillah.

I opted for the Entonox throughout the process of getting the placenta out and stitching (though both took less than 15 minutes).

So that’s it – Khadijah’s birth story.

P.s. It feels great to be able to lie on my back comfortably again.