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!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I sustain myself with the love of family.

He loves having conversations and exchanging kisses with his reflection.

Last week, on the last day of school, the kids came down with a stomach bug. When I picked her up, Alia cried and told me that her tummy was hurting. When she couldn't tell me what she had to eat for lunch, I thought that she probably didn't have anything at all, and thus was just gassy. When we got home, she threw up - nothing but water - but then declared that she was feeling better after drinking some warm milk.

Later in the evening, after fussing for a bit, it was Arif who threw up upon waking from his nap. His vomit was also all liquid (no curds), and since now both of them were throwing up, we figured it was something in the water they had in school (Arif was not eating solids in daycare yet.). Both of them ended up throwing up a few more times throughout the night. Arif was pretty weak - he didn't want to play and only wanted to snuggle - and Alia complained of stomach cramps on and off, but then they both finally settled in to sleep from exhaustion. Thankfully, they recovered, and was much better (in body and spirit) after waking up late the next morning.

That Violet plushie has been Alia's favorite for more than two years.

While I know sickness happens, and it was minor in this case, I was worried to see my usually rambunctious kids being so mellow and listless. It was a good thing my parents were here on a visit - Alia and Arif seemed to recover much faster when they have their grandparents to shower them with lots of kisses and cuddles!

(Title quote by Maya Angelou.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Weekly roundup


This week our family was hit with a round of fever among the kids. They've been having runny noses, cough and slight temperature rises on and off since Sunday. Arif is also sporting a rash that I first thought was an allergic reaction to dust, which then evolved into something that looked suspiciously like the onset of measles (his vaccine is due in two months). Fortunately, his pediatrician is confident that it is just a post-viral infection rash that will subside in a few days. I feel so relieved!

Some links for this week.

  • China's super mums. In some cultures, a confinement period after giving birth is not a necessity. Living in an Asian country, however, it is pretty much a given, with every post natal mother being expected to observe some sort of indoor resting period. While my family is not very traditional, I also observed some basic confinement rituals after giving birth to my children. I must say, being able to put your feet up and take it slow, and given massages while being fed with nutritious food is not at all a bad way to recuperate after the ordeal that is childbirth.

  • Want to raise successful kids? Science says do these 7 things every day.

  • I love planners, and you might notice that I've been pinning a lot of journaling pictures lately. This is because I'm currently very curious about the idea that is the Bullet Journal. While this method is too time consuming for me, I think it's an interestingly creative way to plan, and love to see how other people execute it.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Weekly roundup



These two weeks are the first semester exam period for the nation's schools. While I am sure all the questions Alia would have to answer probably comprise of coloring the largest apple or tracing the letter 'A' (and maybe a few count the butterflies), I can't help but feel nervous. My firstborn taking her first test! How'd she grow up so fast?

Now, a few things I found on the Internet.

  • In defense of absurdly early bedtimes. I agree wholeheartedly that our kids need earlier bedtimes. As it is, Arif goes to bed at 9 (or earlier if he's sleepy) - being a baby, he doesn't fuss much during bedtime - but Alia goes to bed a lot later (Her supposed bedtime is at 10, but she fights it so!). While I try my best to keep them to a routine, rushing dinner, bath and books before bedtime (and then arguing with a preschooler who does not want to go to sleep) daily does take its toll. It's much easier to take Alia to bed with me at my bedtime and have her fall asleep in five minutes rather than listen to her toss and turn in her room for two hours.

  • How music taste evolved. I couldn't stop watching this! I loved listening to all the 90's hits and remembering the days back in school when we would listen to 'Rick Dees Top 40' on our transistor radios while flipping through 'Smash Hits' during the weekends.

  • The most important question of your life. 'Because happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. You can only avoid negative experiences for so long before they come roaring back to life. [...] Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?'

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Where'd the days go, when all we did was play?
And the stress that we were under wasn't stress at all



I have been spending a lot of nights away from home for work, and it felt like each time I left, I came back to monumental changes in the kids. Every time I hugged Alia when I arrived home, she always felt a few inches taller, and when I pick Arif up, he was always heftier, stockier. I can't help but feel like I am missing out on important moments in their lives.

It's strange to be the parent who's always not there. After Alia was born, I did not leave her overnight until she was more than one year old. On the other hand, I first left Arif for two nights, on a trip back to my hometown with Alia, when he was just four months old. I have left him for many, many more nights afterwards.



In a way, it's liberating to be able to jet off and not worry about the kids constantly pining for me. Fit has gotten very capable of taking care of Arif without me, and Alia has also stopped needing me (or anyone else, at that) to put her to bed. (When she's really sleepy, she just crawls into our bed and goes to sleep. Getting her to sleep in her own bed is the real fight.) When I'm a hundred miles away, I can always call home, and see that the kids are fed, clean and healthy.

It's just... a bit sad. It's like my babies are all growing up without me.



(Title quote from 'These Streets' by Paolo Nutini.)

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Family forever











My parents came over for a visit over the long Labor Day weekend, bringing along Hana and Amir with them. While Amir and Arif quietly tinkered with Alia's toys and books, these two girls (who are both naturally chatty when together) were constantly either playing loudly or fighting even louder still. It was constantly "Mama, Hana buat Alia!" (Mama, Hana did this to me!) or "Auntie Sara, Alia kacau Hana!" (Auntie Sara, Alia is bothering me!). I think I heard the phrase "Tak nak kawan!" (I don't want to be friends with you!) being yelled more times this weekend than in my entire life. (Honestly, is that really the worse insult that little girls can throw at each other?)

Deep down, though, I think the girls adore each other. Hana cried herself to sleep one night when Alia, who promised to sleep in the other room with her, decided to sleep in our room instead. (Alia has yet to understand the concept of a promise - she says one thing one minute and does another the next.) All during the visit, Alia would copy what Hana was wearing and demanded to wear something similar. She also didn't say anything about Hana after everyone left, but when I was putting away the sheets, she touched a quilt that Hana often used and told me "Ini Hana punya. Mama simpan, OK?" (This is Hana's. Please keep it nicely, Mama.).

I hope they'll stay good friends for the rest of their lives. Only cousins could truly understand the quirks of your family.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Langkawi family holiday





Alia had been asking to 'go on an airplane' and 'see the fishes' ever since she saw the pictures from our Langkawi trip last year. We thought it might be fun for her to go again, since she seemed to really enjoy herself the last time.


This time, though, there were four of us, including five month old Arif, so we made it a longer, leisurely trip. We didn't have any specific plans other than to get on an airplane (two, actually, because there were no direct flights from JB), get to Langkawi and mainly chill. It was fortunate we didn't have high expectations of the trip, because the weather was so hot that we couldn't stand to be outside much. The Langkawi Cable Car was also closed for maintenance, much to my disappointment, and Fit's glee (he hates heights).


So all we did was visit the Langkawi 3D Art Museum and the Underwater World Langkawi, tried the local dishes, and spent hot afternoons napping in the room before jumping into the pool when it cooled afterwards.





Alia had fun (I think) although the 3D paintings in the art museum really scared her (her horrified expressions in the photos were not made up). She loved watching the sea creatures, but cried when I put my hand into the petting pool because 'the fish might eat Mama's hand'. Arif was excited about travelling (you couldn't see it in his face - he's macho like that - but he was looking at and grabbing everything he could) but spent so much time in the carrier that he was pretty exhausted by bedtime every night. When we arrived home after the trip, he just sprawled without moving on his alphabet mat in relief, sucking on his hand.





I am looking forward to our next trip to wherever. The kids are getting easier to travel with (or maybe we're getting used to handling them?) and maybe we could do more of these longer family vacations in times to come. I am really excited to show Alia that there is more to life than just school and work, and to teach her to be braver and more open to new experiences.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Time with the little ones


Fit was away for work the weekend and left the kids with me. This was the first whole few days I got to spend alone with them since I started work and I was really looking forward to it.

Even though we didn't plan on going anywhere, she insisted on wearing a dress.

Working full time, I don't get to spend much time with the kids on weekdays. We wake them up in the morning and send them off to daycare. In the evening, we pick them up and take them home. Then it's a flurry of activities with showers, dinner and bedtime. If I'm efficient, I would get an hour or so to sit down with Alia and read, color or write with her. Otherwise, if Arif is particularly fussy (That kid is starting to fight his bedtime!) or if we arrive home late, I'd only finish putting Arif to bed before I had to do the same for Alia.

It doesn't take much to amuse this little one.

It was great having them all to myself for the weekend. We slept in, then woke up and rolled around under the covers before a leisurely breakfast. Alia got a splash in the blow up pool while I cleaned up in the kitchen, and Arif did whatever a baby does (roll over, swim in spit up, eat the carpet, you know, exciting stuff). When everyone's clean and fresh, we read, and colored, and played with Alia's many, many toys. Afterwards they both had a bottle and nap (me included). Alia woke up hungry so then there was a late lunch (rice and eggs or chicken for her, a sandwich for me) and a movie and TV show. By then it was late afternoon and time for some snacks before the usual evening routine.

We even managed to get some school holiday homework done!

I love having the time to just be with them, in the house, without all the fuss of packing and traveling. Of course, it is always fun to have a retreat, go somewhere with real swimming pools and playgrounds and to eat out, but sometimes all you need is a few quiet days at home to soak up all the love and attention of your little ones.