Monday, July 24, 2017

Water Claire

In the time that came after, the story of Water Claire took different forms. It was told and retold; things were forgotten, or shaped and changed. Always, though, there was this truth: that she came from the sea, flung in by that fearsome December storm years before.

Some said she was found, later, when the scudding clouds pulled aside and showed low sun in early evening: that she was there on the strip of beach, her clothes half torn from her, and they thought she was dead till she stirred and her eyes opened to show the deep amber-flecked green that later all remembered the same.

Others said no, it was Tall Andras who saw her in the waves, who threw himself in and grabbed her by her long hair as she clung to a thick wood beam, that he swam with her till he could stand, and when they looked her was there in the churning broth of sea with her in his thick arms, her head against his beard, and that he said but one word: "Mine."

Children said she was carried in by dolphins and they made games of it, and rhymes, but all that was just tale-spinning and fun, and no one took it to be true.

Others murmured "selkie" from time to time when she was remembered, but only as a fanciful tale. The selkie stories of seal creatures were well known, oft told, and in all of them there was a shed skin. Water Claire had come in clothing, though it had been shredded by the gritty winter sea. She was human. There was no seal to her.

Or mermaid, either.

She was a human girl sent to them by the sea, who stayed among them for a time, became a woman, and went away again.

Lois Lowry, 'Son'

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Aidil Fitri 2017

I hope it's not too late to wish everyone Eid Mubarak. This Aidil Fitri, we actually managed to get the whole family together on the first day and get pictures of everyone in their Raya oufits. I don't think Arif understood much of everything, but he allowed himself to be decked out and taken photos of rather calmly. Alia, on the other hand, loved the festivities and was proud to show off the clothes she chose for herself. I'd say that this Aidil Fitri was the most successful one so far since we had kids - minimal tantrum throwing and crying, and just lots of laughter and family fun.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Your children vividly remember every unkind thing you ever did to them, plus a few you really didn't.

For the past few days, Arif has been down with a fever. It's not uncommon for the children to get sick, since they go to daycare and don't exactly have the best hygiene habits (picking stuff off the floor and eating it - anyone?), but his fever lasted longer than usual this time, even after medication, and it was worrying. He's all right now, anyway, but it was certainly an exhausting weekend.

While we've been busy tending to Arif (mainly monitoring his temperature and feeding him his medication - that kid fights like an animal every time!), Alia became needy and clingy. With me not getting enough sleep and on frazzled nerves (Fit is not the best person to care for a sick child - he gets panicky at the slightest temperature increase), she was constantly at the receiving end of my short temper.

It broke my heart to see the bewildered look on her face when I snapped at her for leaving her stuff in my way, or for not doing something quickly enough, or for not answering the minute I called. At that moment, I told myself that I would apologize to her and give her a hug later, but then her brother caught my attention again and I forgot. And I keep forgetting, until it is late at night and she's sleeping in her bed and I feel guilty for all the times I've been unfair to her.

I know I need to treat my children better and spend more time nurturing them instead of disciplining them. I get so tired all the time, and when I'm not, I can't seem to be able to just sit down with them and chill without my mind whirring on things that needed to be done around the house. People say that cleaning and laundry can wait, but if I don't clean, the house will be a mess when we wake up and the children will trip over their toys, and if I don't wash clothes, or iron, there will be nothing for us to wear to work and school. It's a conundrum!

(Title quote by Mignon McLaughlin.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Weekly roundup

I have been struggling with time. I know, every parent does, but sometimes I feel extremely overwhelmed by the things I don't have time to do. And by 'things', I don't mean hobbies like reading or scrap booking or gardening - I mean essentials for a sane, organized life, like ironing work clothes or putting away clean laundry or purging two-week-old leftovers out of the fridge. I can't remember the last time I mopped the floors or  cleaned the kids' car seats (no one spilled chocolate milk yet, so they're staying for now). I'm looking for tips, any tip, as to how I can cram more into the few hours I have at home after work every day, without sacrificing time spent with the children (and sleep, this mom needs her sleep!).

Some things I discovered this week.

  • People usually say child birth is an enlightening, powerfully spiritual act - I have never heard it being described like this article did. To be honest, though, I feel the same way too.

    'Child birth didn’t feel empowering to me. It didn’t feel un-empowering either. Instead it felt to me mostly like a biological process — a difficult one, but one that my body was designed to go through. I didn’t necessarily feel pride at what my body did because I didn’t feel like I could even take credit for it. (In fact, if I did take credit for it, then would that mean that women who couldn’t experience the relatively easy kind of births I had should feel the opposite of pride? Shame or guilt?)'

  • I pinned these tips on Pinterest, because, for a long time after Arif's birth, Alia went through the 'anxious preschooler' phase, where she was desperate for attention and threw tantrums at the slight dissatisfaction. One minute I was pleased that she's able to pack her own backpack, or cook an egg, or read a long word, and the next I was frustrated and yelling at her because she refused to take a sip of water or because she is screaming for her favorite jammies that are in the wash. I felt guilty (still do!) because I felt like I was too strict, but often she really tried my patience so!

  • This book is absolutely awesome. Now I feel sorry for not giving my kids really long names, because then they'll have a thicker book! I want badly to get one of these for Alia, but the steep price (especially when converted to Ringgit Malaysia) gave me pause. Maybe on her birthday?

Monday, January 09, 2017


Is it too late to wish a Happy New Year?

I have been neglecting this space, as I have done with all my online spaces. Sometimes I am tempted to just shut it down, but this blog has come so far and it feels like such a waste to just... end it. I am an introvert who expresses herself better in writing than in conversations, and that is why this place is still sacred to me. My main problem, as it often is, is motivation. Every day I struggle to write something, anything, even in my personal journal. There are days when I succeed. Most days I don't.

The kids, when they're playing nice.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

His first year

A couple of days ago, this boy turned one.

In a blink of an eye, he is no longer a baby. He amazes us daily with his cunning and perseverance. Nothing deters him from his goals. If he wants something, he'll try for it (reaching, climbing, pushing it over), and if he isn't able to, he'll just leave it and attend to something else, but then always coming back again with another plan (which often includes a makeshift equipment of some sort).

He's extremely cheeky, always chuckling and laughing and making others chase him around. He's never shy with people and is always looking at them with open curiosity. He loves having a crowd around, and enjoys going to school and getting together with his cousins.

He also loves to tease his sister so! He's always following her around, tailing on her heels and demanding to be let in whatever she's doing. He likes to watch her read, although these sessions often end up with him sitting on the books and making her impatient. And he just can't get enough of cuddling and rolling around with her, which is causing me a lot of headaches come bedtime every day.

Happy birthday, our darling Arif! May you grow strong and healthy, and have a long, happy, prosperous life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children’s gratitude or woman’s love.

Time sure flies. In a blink of an eye, months has passed.

Nothing major has happened in our lives - I've been focusing hard on our day to day and trying to establish some sort of routine with both Fit and I having busy, erratic work schedules. The kids have had two weeks off in the past two months because both of us were unable to send and fetch them from school, resorting to them staying with their grandparents in KL while I'm working. The children, of course, loved it, but it sure is a pain to settle them down again once we're back home.

Also, because of Fit constantly working, I've been toting Alia and Arif on flights to and from KL. I'm starting to enjoy traveling with them. Arif's just started walking and is always excited to waddle off on his own, and Alia is now old enough to not need a stroller all the time. They both still need their naps, which can be cumbersome during travel, but I try to arrange so that they'll get some rest upon arrival.

Alia's reading is progressing well, and she's started learning the Qur'an too. Fit has commented that she's more eloquent, and I notice it too, since she loves telling stories about her day in the car ride home. She's still shy around strangers, but is definitely more confident in herself, and she makes me so proud every time she's able to ask and pay for things over the counter.

Arif is almost one! I can hardly believe it. When Alia was a baby, the days seemed to pass by so slowly as I watched her grow. With Arif, it seems like only yesterday he was a creeping on his tummy, picking up pieces of fluff off the floor (and eating them), and today he's a toddler, running around in circles and hanging precariously off the child gate. He's understanding every word and have opinions on every thing, and talks back like a sassy teen.

The best of part of everything, though, is just how much these two love each other. I wish for them to always love each other this way.

(Title quote by W. B. Yeats.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I need sleep.

This year's Ramadhan is particularly hard on me. I've been fasting yearly since I was five, so not eating and drinking (or picking my nose!) during the day is not difficult, but it's the lack of sleep that's getting to me.

I am the kind of person who needs a lot of sleep to get them going. During Ramadhan, I have to wake up for sahur in the wee hours, which would not be such a bad thing, except that my kids seem to not be sleeping well at all nowadays. I try to go to bed earlier, but Alia is fighting her bedtime and is sleeping late daily. She refuses to sleep in her own room (suddenly, she's afraid of the dark, and tells me that she's scared because she can't see), and when she's in our bed she tosses and turns so bad that I can't fall asleep.

Then, not long she finally dozes off, Arif would start waking up, for various reasons - he had a bad dream, he wants a (literal) sip of milk, his binky fell out and is an inch away from his mouth, his head is up against the cot wall and he can't move any further, he can't stick his feet out between the rails because of his sleep sack, etc. - and in between Arif's cries I get an hour of shut eye, max. I am so tired, each day, every day, it's ridiculous.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Weekly roundup

Ramadhan starts next week, and while some people might think it's crazy early, we've prepared for Aidil Fitri. Well, prepared is actually too big a word for it - we just bought Arif a few traditional Johor baju melayu that match the clothes we already have, and since I've always bought Alia extra large baju kurung in various colors (and adjusted them as necessary), hers still fit and she'll be wearing them again this year. It makes sense for us to do it this way - the kids hardly ever wear their traditional dresses anyway, and I don't see the need for them to have new ones every single Aidil Fitri. And preparing the clothes now saves us the hassle of having to shop during Ramadhan - the crowds then would be crazy!

Some links for this week.

  • I wish there were more parents like this. There were so many times when I've told other kids at the playground to please play nice and parents would stare daggers at me. One time, a dad even yelled at me because I told his tween son off for climbing up the slide while my daughter was going down it. I'm not a guardian of the playground - I just want to make sure that my kids are safe when they are playing there. So if that involves me telling your rough-housing, loud-mouthed, queue-cutting, profanity-spewing spawn to behave or be gone, then so be it.

  • Number five or this article really hits close to my heart. 'Listen closely: Happiness begets happiness. Sure, it's a bit of a zinger when your best friend meets the love of her life while you're still swiping right or your colleague drops twenty pounds while you're struggling to get motivated. But understanding that someone else achieving their goals doesn't mean there's one less achievement available to you will make life a whole lot easier.'

  • How is this even a question? It does not matter how well-behaved your kids are on every other occasion, but when they cause damage to people's properties, they (or you, if they are too young to understand the implications) should be accountable to pay for any ramifications.

  • This is an interesting read. I wish people in Malaysia would smile more. I have what people would call a 'resting bitch face' (It's a real thing, Google it!), but I make an effort to genuinely smile at people when I greet them.

  • This article confirmed what my mom always said - let the baby be. Our kids are very poor sleepers, and I think I contributed to it by being too coddling with them. The truth is, I just can't sleep with a child whining and tossing and turning in the same room! Now that Arif is seven months old, I am considering moving his cot into another room, so that I wouldn't wake up at his slightest whimper, and let him learn to self soothe.

Until next time, happy weekend and have a blessed Ramadhan!