Zayan and Ayman’s first train ride

Yesterday was a really fun day for me and the boys (I like to think Ayman was having fun ..even though he has the same attitude to everything really – dopey smiles when awake, sleeping rest of the time).

I decided to go solo with the boys to London via train. Cue overwhelming excitedness from Zayan. Zayan is currently obsessed with trains. He loves looking at them, playing with them, watching youtube videos of train (real or cartoonised). And he knows where the train station is from picking people up but has never been inside the station. He would point and say (shout) ‘TRAIN STATION!’ whenever we drive by the station. Anyway, so we went on the train.

I had everything organised and packed the night before, bought my train ticket ahead – free for under 5s – and was all set to go. On day trips/day out, I like to pack minimally. The ‘go bag’ (M termed the boys’ bag as the go bag) at all times has:

1. Spare set of clothes for Zayan (baju, seluar, socks and pants)
2. 3 pull up nappies
3. Spare set of clothes for Ayman
4. Nappies (around 3-5x depending on if I remember to top it up)
5. Wipes
6. Changing mat
7. Mini plastic bags for nappies
8. BF scarf
9. Blanket
10. Snacks*
11. Bottle*

*age and duration of trip dependent

And usually Zayan would sneak in a toy or two inside. If I think they might be a long wait somewhere, I’ll bring an activity book for Zayan. We don’t bring the ipad out unless for long car trips (>1 hour ride), I’d rather him soak in the environment and learn to be bored! I read somewhere that nowadays kids do not know how to deal with boredom. There’s always the ipad or iphone to entertain them. By limiting the ipad/iphone when going out, I’m hoping Zayan can learn to deal with being bored AKA sit still, be in his own thoughts and use his imagination. More on that of him being bored on the train!

In terms of logistics of bringing two kids, I decided to have Ayman in the stroller and Zayan to walk. I thought at least Ayman would sleep peacefully and I’ll somehow convince and motivate Zayan to walk the entire time. In my head, I was thinking: Depart St Pancras. Go to Westfield via taxi. Meet up friend. Leave westfield to cousin’s house. Take taxi back to train station. Not THAT much walking *kejam*

And as we all know, mummies need minimal things too! Phone, purse, lip balm and I’m good to go.

So this is how the day went:

We woke up just before 7 am. Zayan wakes up early (grrr) and usually I can convince him to go back to sleep but it’s good this time as we need to get ready pronto! As we were getting ready, there was a delivery. The quinny buggy board that we just bought has arrived… and just in time!!! Alhamdulillah *first blessing of the day* So Zayan doesnt have to walk and can just use the buggy board. Yay to no dragging a three year old!

Taxi arrived at 8 am as planned. Decided not to drive to the station as parking there is horrendous at that time of the day and expensive.

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Got inside the train station and we had thirty minutes to spare. Hmm, so unlike me. I was thinking ‘and this is why I dont like doing things early!’ but I guess I dont really want to rush with two kids and a stroller/buggy board. So we went to get some stuff from the WHSmith. Thinking back, I should have bought refreshments earlier on, overpriced banar kalau di train station/airport apa ani. And I made a wise £3 investment for the day. A Ninjago magazine with a lil lego figurine with it. Oh, this is my tip for train/airplane trips: have something new BUT SMALL/THIN to entertain your kid. Nothing expensive, just something to entertain them every now and then. It may be stickers, an activity book, a small car (Hot wheels is like $1 di brunei. but then again I dont like buying too many Hot wheels cars, it annoys me seeing it at random places in the house!). In this case … lego figurine! I did buy the kindle egg with toy inside for our san Francisco trip… those are taken out on times of desperation.

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When we arrived at the platform, I bumped into a few Bruneians. Never met them but they looked like Bruneians! Tagur lah and we coincidentally were sitting in the same coach. Alhamdulillah! *second blessing of the day* They helped out with the buggy, putting it in the rack, entertained zayan the whole ride and generally were good train companions. I actually forgot to ask the boys punya names but insyaAllah maybe bump into them di Leicester. There was a girl there jua, who I do know the name, but she didn’t live in Leicester. Anyway, they were cool – and if somehow, they read this …. *waves* Thanks for helping us out!

It made me realise that it would be nice to have more Bruneian exposure on a regular basis for Zayan. I do try to talk to him in malay tapi (1) I dont know/inda biasa the words for things sometimes (2) he understands more in English, so it’s easier to explain in English. Ok these are all excuses. I should just talk in Malay with him as often as I can. He does pick up things inadvertently – like when I mentioned once that ‘ada cacing dalam tanah’… he said ‘cicang’ when he saw the soil in his flowerpot.

We parted ways at the train station. Zayan, Ayman and I continued our journey (eseh macam cerita adventure banar) to Westfield via taxi. Usually we would take the tube but finding lifts in the tube station is like finding needle in haystack… with ten million other people swarming around you. M and I would just carry the kid in stroller up the stairs macam raja zaman dulu. Or up the escalator would be easier but that’s M punya job, I’m too scared to balance it.

Arrived at Westfield around 11. The taxi costs around £18 if anyone is interested. I remember taxi from St Pancras to Paddington averages around £12. Did some window shopping whilst waiting for my dear friend Farah, which was the main reason of the day trip. I wanted to look for work shoes, seeing I’m gonna go back to work soon… kira motivation lah ahha. Girls will always find an excuse for new pair of shoes for an occasion! I did find these cute, pretty shoes and feels comfy but it has thin soles, so will see how it fares after a grueling 12 hour shift!

And finally, jumpa Farah, her baby Keisha and her mum ( who is the coolest mum btw). We last saw each other three years ago but it felt like time has never passed us by! That’s the great thing with good friends… you just meet again and hit off like it was yesterday you last met. It was nice seeing Keisha and seeing Farah as a new mum. *air kiss* We had lunch at the food court, and boy was it a long lunch. Well, feeding babies and changing them included. We finally departed around 2.30 pm from the food court, walked ten steps out and found a lil cafe to have cake and tea. Haha! Lady of leisure banar. As she said, it feels like there are no worries in the world right now. Good food, good company, the sun is streaming through, kids are behaving…. We’re starting back work in two weeks time but who cares about that?? Haha!

*shout out to the Japanese teriyaki food I had. So yummy, halal too! It’s owned by malaysian I think. Well, the woman who seemed like the boss is Malaysian*

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I had to go around 3.30 pm as I planned to go to my cousin’s place. Zayan has been harping on seeing ‘Abang Mysha, Abang Uzma’ (KAKA! KAKA!). The night before, he saw their picture and said ‘my best friends’ as he looked at their picture in adoration. Their house is around 10-15 minutes walk from Westfield. Didn’t get to stay long as we had to leave to St Pancras around 5 pm. It was peak hour and I didn’t want to be stuck in traffic and miss our (ridiculously expensive ride of a) train ride.

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Sorry Kaka Mysha, Kaka Uzma… I know the kids were psyched to see Zayan jua. They hit off every time and riuh rumah selajur. InsyaAllah soon, ok? Maybe bank holiday in May. Eseh plan udah tapi alum tanya tuan rumah and tuan suami.

By that time though, I made an error in judgement: I should have used a backpack! I had a bag of my shopping stuff and bag of food (nasi lemak made by my Tangah. NYUMS!). So that’s a lot to hand carry aka when I get on the train. Imagine an awkward mum with a baby in car seat, three year old kid, carry bag and shopping bags. Ooo-err. Baik jua gentleman urang British ani. Had a few asking whether I needed help – as I dismantled the stroller – and then helping me on and off the train.

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Tip for day out: Bring snacks for kids!Even if you know you can buy food from the shops. I brought some cheesestrings and some sandwiches (“toast kaya”) and Zayan downed it. He had some on the way to London and some at the train station whilst waiting for the train. Full kids = happy kids!

Now here’s the complicated bit when you’re travelling with kid(s) on a train. You have reserved your train seat but unable to confirm that you can have a spare seat(s) next to you unless you paid for their tickets as well. Ideally you want a table seat and can have all kids within viewing range. On the train to London, I sat with the bruneians who secured a table seat and let me sit with the boys there. On the way back, it was busier and difficult to secure a table with three seats to spare! My reserved seat had someone else sitting next to me, dang it. In the end, I took Ayman out of his car seat and had him on my lap whilst Zayan sat across me (the woman next to me insisted to sit in her seat because ‘she had to sit facing the other way of train ride’. FINE FINE, since you paid for that seat). Zayan was then sitting diaganolly (sp? is there such a word?) of me but he seemed fine with it. He was still playing with his lego figurine by this point. On hindsight, I should have taken Ayman out of car seat and waited for everyone to sit and train to disembark. Then I can look properly where there are available seats are.

Ok, and the last train ride ani… we were all tired and sleepy. Zayan looked pretty knackered. He was playing with his lego figurine for the first 15-20 minutes and then wanted to put it away. He then just sat there, looking like he was bored and wants to do something. I told him to just sit back and relax, close his eyes if he wants to. He did that for half an hour, which is like a lifetime in toddler time. We changed seats to one nearer to the door and I can get all our things near to me, our stroller, car seat etc, and he had a window seat then. Keluar tia energy nya lagi. “WOW TRAIN SO FAST!” “SHEEP! SHEEP!” “Train koo” (cool).

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Mumtathil picked us up at the train station and it was so good to be back!

During bedtime, I usually have ‘bedtime conversation’ with Zayan. We would talk about what we/he did during the day, whether he had fun, what he remembered. It’s funny sometimes to hear what he remembers, like when we went to octonauts show, all he talked about was the octopus, which made him cry. So last night, as we laid our heads down, he immediately said ‘Zayan fun, mama. At Abang Uzma house….’

Pictures to be included soon. Ayman now awake and whimpering for attention!

Love, me

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New childminder

We’ve got a new childminder. Well, kinda ‘new’.

For those who has been reading this blog long enough, you might remember me writing about Zayan’s first childminder. She was very patient, calm, flexible, multi-lingual (she was the one who coined ‘Zayanino’) and she loved Zayan. Basically, in terms of childminder standards, she was difficult a childminder to top. But she got pregnant and we had to find a new childminder. She asks about Zayan and I update her from
time to time, but perhaps in the last year or so, we’ve lost in touch.

When I got on maternity leave, we stopped sending him to his childminder as I would be home all day anyway for six months… with the intention of finding a nanny before I start work.

For those not in the know:

Childminder = you send your kid to their house for a specified amount of time.
Nanny = the nanny comes to your house and stays there for a specified amount of time. You can have a live-in or live-out nanny.
There’s also au pairs but I’m not too sure who those refers to.

We opted for nanny this time because
(1) we dont have to add an extra hour in the morning rushing to send kids to the childminder, (2) kids can wake up in their own time – though my boys seems to be morning people (wake up no later than 9!) and (3) rushing TWO kids in the morning before 8 am just feels too much hard work.

So there I am, looking at the childcare website, looking at nannies’ profiles, trying to find one that sounded decent and doesn’t live too far away from us. Then I noticed one called ‘Bismillah childcare’. Intrigued, I clicked on the profile and it sounded so much like Zayan’s first childminder. She didnt list out her name, so I wasn’t sure. I sent a message through the website, hoping it was her. When we found out we knew each other…

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Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah! I did hope
dulu we would get her again but wasnt sure whether she would carry on being childminder after having a kid. And it was too sweet of her dreaming of Zayan playing with her kid one day.

Due to error on my part, she has started two weeks before my official starting work date. But its all good, means we’re settling in at a gradual pace.

So far so good. What I like is that she has an aura that is calming and makes me want to be a better person. On her first day, I wanted to pray zuhur before leaving the house. So we prayed together, which is always nice to pray jemaah with someone. InshaAllah we have got a childminder who will guide Zayan islamically when we’re not there. And bring me closer to the deen too.

Ok, I’m gonna sleep now. Update this later inshaAllah.

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Easter break

There’s so many things I want to talk about. And so many things we’ve done in the last few weeks.

Basically it’s Zayan’s easter break, like why nursery why you have to have break as well! We can send him still but mesti bayar HMPH.

I was slightly apprehensive on the two weeks break as I didnt want another mental “Omg I am turning insane being cooped up at home with kids and housework” breakdown. Especially since the weather was a bit pants in the beginning of his break.

Alhamdulillah though, Zayan has been in good behaviour, Ayman has been settling into his sleep ‘training’ (more on that later) and the weather has been good the last few days! I’m even beginning to hope that spring is definitely here and begone winter!

So what have we been up to?

M was on nights and we were well bored. So I decided to drive to Manchester to see my abang and his family. Yup, with my two boys solo. I think part of me wanted to do it to prove to myself that I can do it. Drive solo on a long trip. Plus it’s like an adventure!

The kids fell asleep not long after we set off. So I spent the 2.5 hour drive singing to pop songs and dancing to them. It brought me back to road trips with my girls, specifically Zimah. You know Taylor Swift and Jessie J makes good roadtrip music. There’s something liberating in that drive… like I can have some peace to my thoughts and have some satisfaction that I did it.

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We just chilled out in Manchester but it was nice to be around family. And not have Zayan following me around as he’s too busy playing with his cousins. And Ayman was just sleeping half the time. I seemed to think that he sleeps more easily and longer when we’re out of the house but it might just be me being more pre-occupied outside and not think ‘when are you gonna sleep, when???’

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Pic of my nephew Ameen and Zayan, they’re of the same ‘age range’ (you know how with your cousins, you have cliques of cousins with same age range) They used to not be friends, being indifferent initially and then nemesis. Now they’re starting to be friends with each other. They were the first to wake up and this showed some questionable parenting on my part. Biscuits for breakfast??? Sorry, it was 7 am, my head still throbbed and eyes blurry. Makantah kamu. I did stop them after a few biscuits!

Then there was the bank holiday weekend. We had steamboat with my BIL and SIL. That was nicceeeeee. I lovr steamboat. The idea is so simplistic but so good! Communal eating is the way to go. We had lots of thin strips of beef and mutton, huge shrimps and assorted seafood. Nyums. I dont usually like fishballs, it often taste too processed for me but these ones were niceeee.

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We also went to Twinlakes, which is a huge recreational place. It has rides for mostly little people, boat rides, train ride, outdoor playground, indoor soft play area, sandy pits, a mini farm and water park area. I like that it didnt have the commercialized feel of some recreational parks (like Alton Towers or Legoland). This is just a huge playground, have fun! We went on
what felt like the sunniest day of the year so far. So there was a looooot of people but it wasnt too crowded. You can have picnics with no other family around you for another few hundred yards.

By 3.30 pm, we were pooped and went back home.

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And yesterday my mummy buddy, Reema, and I took the kids to Twycross Zoo. That deserved a post of its own! Reema and I have been mummy buddies , with our almost synchronised maternity leave.

Ok that’s it for now!!Ta!

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Bloomin’

I wish I can blog all the time. In my head, I think of things that I want to write about. Or sometimes I narrate things in my head, like Carrie Bradshaw in sex and the city lol.

But I’m too tired most of the time. Or someone or something would be pulling me away.

So let me just share a picture for now:

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On Mother’s day, Zayan’s pre school gave all the mummies a tub of soil each. “Sunflower seed from Zayan,” the teacher said. Uhuh ok, what do I do with it?

I inwardly huffed. What, I have to look after this thing? On top of everything else! Cant they just get me flowers, instead of me growing them?? Usually every morning, I would make Zayan water the plant. Somehow I feel there’s a metaphor behind all this. As if this is an activity that will bring us together. Or it will teach Zayan to maintain and grow something (his relationship with his mummy).

I’m half asleep writing this, so am not sure I’m
making sense. Gtg now…

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Etiquettes in social media

Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Whatsapp.

It’s now part of our everyday life to be involved in these medium of communication nowadays. Stories and information can be released to so many people within minutes, within seconds even! You would think there would be an unspoken rule that people understand to abide by. Like you just dont go out without your trousers and underwear (unless its a nude beach ha). Or you dont shout profanities to someone walking across the street. Sadly though people seem to think that talking through your phone or laptop does not equate similarly to talking to someone face to face.

Here’s a few of my bugbears on social media:

1. If you dont know the truth about it, if you are doubting its authenticity but just passing on information ‘just in case’, DO NOT pass on information.

There are so many medically related articles with errors or biased writing that are passed on. Like you can stop a heart attack by pressing on your chest or something ridiculous like that. Or passing on stories that you dont even know its true. Putting on pictures of someone who MAY have committed a crime.

Firstly, you are endangering others by passing false information. Research things first. Secondly, sharing false stories is fitnah, an act that we as muslims are strongly against. We are shaming someone who probably has done nothing wrong!

2. If you want to say something, criticise someone, imagine saying it to their face. If you dont have the balls to do it to their face, dont say it. This is how online bullying starts. There is a face and heart behind that facebook/instagram profile. It’s so easy to demean and degrade someone with a few clicks of our keyboard, and yet we dont stop to think that person is human too.

من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

But you know, it came to my realisation that silence at all times is not exactly a virtue either. Positive voices drown out the negative ones. When people are saying bad things, isnt it nice for the person to know that there is someone out there backing them. I’m sure there are a lot of kids who have gone through online bullying and there are others against it but wouldnt speak up.

A reminder to myself first and foremost. And one I hope I can teach my kids.

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Grumpy mama

Zayan is talking more and more, and I’m amazed at the things he picked up. The other day I was cleaning his bum post poo and said ‘Your poo is so potent, Zayan!’. He repeated the word potent and has been saying it ever since.

Zayan: “Ayah, Zayan poo green.”
Me: How does it smell like?
Zayan: “Poo potent, Ayah…”

Today I was a bit grumpy. I was tired and baby was fussy and took awhile to go to sleep. He would nap for half an hour each time and then it would be harder to put him back to sleep.

I made a cup of coffee and didnt sit down to drink until an hour later (had to microwave it). You know as I held my sleeping baby… Zayan saw me drinking and the accompaying digestive biscuits. He insisted on having a big piece, which I initially resisted as there’s only three left (I’m like Joey. Fizah doesnt share food!). But I relented as I couldnt be bothered to argue. He dunked it in my hot drink but then got distracted looking at something and didnt eat it straight away. I told him to eat it straight away but he didnt. Of course, it dropped to the floor being soggy and all. In my grumpy state, I told him off for not listening. “Seee! Seee! What happens!” I cringe as I think back what happened. He looked down at the sorry soggy biscuit and gave a sorry look. I offered him another (smaller) piece but huffed about it as he ate it quietly.

Anyway, so he went back to playing and he was just minding his own business. But I felt bad. I’ve been such a grouchy cow all afternoon and now I’ve just told off my three year old son over some soggy biscuit.

Sigh.

So I called him over…

Me: Zayan, come here…
Zayan: *dutifully came over*
Me: Mama sorry ok? Mama shouldnt have been angry like that. Mama’s just tired, ok?
Zayan: Zayan sorry mama.
Me: It’s ok, mama just tired and need some sleep.
Zayan: Me too. Zayan tired…
Me: Shall we sleep? *hopeful*
Zayan: No… *carries on playing*

Ehhh hopeful dah dapat nap.

Anyway, I love you Zayanino. Mama so sorry for being a grumpy grouchy person sometimes! I’ll make you pancakes tomorrow to make it up, ok?

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Ramblings

So I’m waiting for a haircut. My appointment is at 4 pm. I came in 15 minutes and told they are running late anyway. There’s another 3 people waiting in line. So much for 4 pm appointment! (ignoring the fact that I was late)

To be honest, I knew this was gonna happen even though this is my first time at this particular one. They run on ‘Asian’ time including the customers! Oh she said that “when one person’s late, everything runs late…” Eh eh eh, inda ku terasa tu. I guess I’m not the only one late today.

I find it difficult to find ‘ladies only’ hair salon despite Leicester being pretty multicultural aka a lot of Asians/muslims. I go to Beeswax for my haircuts (which is like twice a year) but they’re currently closed for refurbishment. There is one who offered to open half an hour early so that I can be there when there is no potential male customers. I thought that was nice of her, unfortunately she only has slots in the weekday currently.

Omg she said to a walk in customer that it would be 45 min to 1 hour wait. There’s only two hairdressers, one is blowdrying since forever and one is threading eyebrows. My hair is like Hermione Granger in her younger years (kerebo frizzy hantap), so I’m pretty desperate.

Right so I watched the video clip of Mariah Carey singing in the car with James Corden. I can’t help but grin like mad and laugh watching it. It brings back memories of high school, singing to MC especially with my lovely War who try to the falsetto bit. Haha! Oh those were the carefree days.

What would I say to my 16 year old self? I was quite self conscious, feeling un-beautiful and un-pretty but hiding it quite well I think. I had great support network, my rnB friends who injected much confidence in each other. We didnt care what anyone thought, we were just living life and having fun. We were up for playing sports whenever wherever… playing ‘football’ (made out of crushed tin can) in middle of school corridor, no problem. Basketball and netball after school.
And then volleyball near the waiting area. Maybe people thought we were kambang. We didnt mean to attract attention, we were just …. having fun.

I love my girls… I really dont think I will be the person I am today without them. And I’m so glad we’re still friends and behind each other’s back.

Now we talk about kids and jobs and going through life’s battles. Out of that bubble, it transpires that life isnt as easy as it used to be… we learn that death can knock on the door of our loved ones unexpectedly. That our parents are ageing and are
more fragile than we realise. That relationships need hard work sometimes. That children test our patience. That our jobs can wear us down and having that going away break is much needed.

But you know what I love most, that we go way back. That my family know my friends and vice versa.

Love you girls, mwah!

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