Random thoughts

Random thoughts that would go well to be written in twitter but I can’t remember my password.

1. Around 9 pm, when I look out Zayan’s bedroom window, I can see a star and also a plane flying past. Everyday, or at least all the time when I look out the window. I find this predictability very reassuring and comforting.

It’s like when you do your daily walk to work and you go past a stranger. You recognise that stranger because he/she always passes you by at the same place during your daily walk. It’s so comforting dont you think. Like the world has its routine and it will keep turning come what may.

2. Whenever I clean the kitchen sink and throw away the dirty bits on that hole thing (what is it called?), I think of my mum. Somehow I associate cleaning it as a grown up thing to do.

3. I didnt know what the difference between rocket and spaceship is until we went to the space galley at the Science Museum: Or maybe I vaguely do. I asked mumtathil if we can put people in rockets, he looked at me incredulously. I’m pretty sure he wonder about my intelligence sometimes. (He proceeded to explain in great detail the difference zzzzzzzzz)

4. There are times when I am unable to appease Ayman when he cries. Like when I’m in the middle of pakaikan baju Zayan or when driving. I find it reassuring in a way though. When he cries, I know he’s breathing.

Ok that’s it, sekian.

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Life back then in Kg Ayer

I had an idea the other day. I would write about life in Kg Ayer back in the old days, as in a non ficitional writing. Mostly I wanted to ask my parents about life back then. I knew bits and pieces and heard some stories now and again of the life in Kg Ayer. But I wanted to know more.

This sudden peak of interest came after all those deaths I wrote about. Thinking about mortality and how we can never predict. So although I wish for my parents to be with me forever after, we can never predict how life will pan out to be. I dont want to regret not asking their life when they were kids, a life that is so foreign to us now. A life that Zayan and Aymanwill never know of. One they probably can’t even imagine. At least I had some memories of sleeping over my nini/cousins place and had a glimpse of life there.

My grandma made awesome kuih brunei. Back when she was more
active, there was always some sort of kueh on the kitchen table. Kuih tilapam, tapai, ardam, penyaram, penyelurut (sp?), sri muka, kutu mayang…. you name if, she can do it. When my grandma passed away, I regretted not learning how to make the traditional kuih Brunei from her. I had always wanted to but never made the time or properly asked her. It was always something that was at the back of my head.

So now, with time on my hands (kinda), I’ve asked my parents on life in Kg Ayer. Our conversation has been sporadic and random but I’ll try to articulate it properly in another post.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of conversation with my dad on swimming:

“Dulu dulu semua pandai beranang. Jarang eh kanak kanak lamas. Kalau anak damit gugur saja, atu pun jarang banar. Dari umur tiga ampat tahun sudah pandai beranang. Mula mula main aing, lapas atu belajar sendiri2…”

(“Back then, all the kids in Kg Ayer knew how to swim. Drowning was very rare except if anak damit (babies) fell in, and that’s very rare. Kids knew how to swim since they were three or four years old. It starts off with main aing. Then you just learn by yourself how to swim.”)

I reminded him on the story of how my aunty (his younger sister) was thrown into the waters by my dad, who was the eldest brother.

“Ohh, atu pasal apa tu ah… ahh pasal kalau beulah, kana umban dalam aing”

(“Ohh, what was that about… ahhh if you misbehave, you get thrown into the waters”)

*Insert crying-laughter emoticon*

Ok that’s it from me now. Will relay more stories in future post(s), insyaAllah.

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What we did at San Francisco

I am
now feeling much less depressed being back. And sleeping and waking up at a reasonable time. It took us four days to get over jet lag. Recovering from jet lag with kids are tough! Tougher than the flight itself – the ten hour flight feels like a breeze in comparison. Either kid(s) is too cranky or too hyper and your brain is still wondering what to do with itself. And the bed is calling you, all the time.

I’d love to do a proper post but in meantime, here’s a snapshot:

We rented a car. They gave us a jeep because the compact car we wanted wasnt available. Aint complaining!

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This means a lot of pictures of the hills which I have failed to capture. (San Francisco is ridiculously hilly!)

And also a lot of selfies…

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(I am quite good at looking at the map and giving directions most of the time really)

Making Zayan pose for a picture. Unsuccessful when asked.

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More vanity action whilst carrying this little one – who seems to be good at looking at the camera. Yes, train them young folks.

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Taking ten thousand pics of the Golden Gate bridge. And pointing to Zayan ‘the Big Hero 6 bridge’ each time.

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Eating good sushi. It makes me feel like I’ve been ripped off by Yo sshi!

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And just enjoying the sea. The beach. The waters.

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Fun facts about San Francisco:

1. The Chinatown is the largest in the world outside China.

2. There are so many oriental and southeast Asian restaurants there! It feels like everywhere I turn, there’s a japanese or chinese or korean restaurant interpersed with thai and vietnamese restaurants.

3. There are not a lot of KFC/McDonalds in the city – for a US city I was so surprised to see this! Zayan ate chips only ONCE in the whole ten days we were there! There wasnt even a popular fast food restaurant in the airport terminal we were at. There was italian, american diner-like, japanese, chinese, grilled food….so (pleasantly) surprised!

4. They have very little roundabout in San Francisco (I think maybe the whole US is like this?). Instead they have a lot of junctions – no traffic lights – and everyone seems pretty civil in letting the other driver(s) go past first. We’re unsure how it works but we think the driver who arrived first at a cross junction goes first.

5. The Golden Gate bridge is painted red… not golden… why is this?

Sekian, till next time.

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What’s your legacy?

I know I havent written for awhile. We went to San Francisco, hence the pause in writing. But there’s also another reason why I haven’t written.

Lately there’s a few sad news that makes me think about life. And there’s nothing else I want to write about except that. But it’s such a monumental and huge loss that I can’t even begin to write about it.

Cut story short, my ex-boss passed away, an unexpected death on his way to work. Working in rotations (changing every few months or every year), I’ve worked for many consultants. He was one of my favourites. And I’m not just saying it just. But whenever we have those ‘so whose your fave consultant? the scary one? etc’ with other medical and nursing colleagues, I’ll certainly mention him.

Reading people’s tributes on facebook and his fundraising page. it cemented how much he has given to us as trainees. He was so grounded despite being so senior and established. With the current ‘defensive medicine’ (where people just do thousands of investigations and hand out medications like no tomorrow), he taughts us to think, think and think, and use our clinical judgement. He does weekly teaching for those doigg clinicals. Since I sat for it three times, by the third time, I vowed to pass it or I wouldn’t dare to show my face to him again. And he would grill us and ask us difficult questions and make you squirm as you stumble and ramble with your answer. And then he would give honest feedback and not make you feel stupid even though you gave the stupidest answer (I have given many many stupidest answers).

I felt so upset and sad with his passing. And I still am. I still think he would be there for me to work again with.

Someone wrotw on facebook that his legacy will transpire down generations of doctors. All that he has taught us, we will carry and teach back to future doctors.

And then there were the three American muslims who were killed by their neighbour. They did so much charity work and even on their death, because of their compassion and goodwill, people
have prayed for them and donated on their behalf.

When we were in San Francisco, we visited the Museum of Fine Arts. Which has amazingly tall beautiful ‘Roman Empire-like’ buildings. M asked me ‘Imagine people thousands of years ago built this and now people are admiring it. This is their legacy. What’s yours?’

I paused, and could only point at our two children. They are my only legacy (for now?). It dawned on me how much I have yet to give. How amazing would it be when my soul leaves this earth and people would keep praying for me. Giving because of me. Inspiring and be inspired because of me.

Morbid thoughts but all the same, motivated me to create my own legacy, whatever it is. For now, I’ll focus on raising my sons so they will be two fine boys with kind souls and be leaders of the Ummah. Ameen.

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A manual on parenting

Last night Zayan kept doing things despite us telling him not to do it – jumping on sofa, throwing pillows around, playing around with his food, making a mess, throwing toy at his Ayah (when his Ayah asked for it). By the end of it, I was tired of it and despite multiple ‘time outs’ and ‘I’m sorry’, he kept misbehaving. What made me even angrier is that he would be laughing when we’re clearly being angry at him. Seriously, when I was a kid, we were too scared of our parents to misbehave like this. Kan mau penampar atau kana cubit ada kali masa damit. (Actually my dad has never laid a hand on me but the mere thought of him being angry would make me scared)

Anyway, I had enough after awhile and just took him upstairs, mandi, changed to PJs and sleeptime without any milk. I felt bad pulang because he didnt eat much dinner, but I figured he’ll wake up if and when he’s hungry and had milk at hand for him if that happens (it did).

Sigh.

I asked M – “Do you think we’re doing the right things (as parents)?”
“I dont know. Sometimes I think we are, sometimes we’re not…”

Sigh.

If only there was a manual on parenting. Sometimes I imagine what our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. would do. Like I think of his characters and think what he would do in these situations. (Be patient is the epitome of it all) I try to remember the stories of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W with children. Like how when a kid peed on him and he just asked someone to get some water. And like how he carried his granddaughter during salah. When he bowed, he would put her down. And when he stood up, he would pick her up again.

Anyway, I’ve researched (googled) on more hadiths and came across these:

1. Narrated by Anas ibn Malik:

The Prophet said, “(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.” (Al-Bukhari)

2. Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Hasan ibn `Ali while Al-Aqra` ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him . Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.” The Prophet cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Al-Bukhari)

3. Reported by Abdullah ibn Shaddad from his father:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came out to lead us in either maghrib or ‘isha’ one night, and he was carrying Hassan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah came forward and put (the child) down, then he said takbir and started to pray. During the prayer, he prostrated and made his prostration long.

My father said: “I raised my head and I saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah whilst he was prostrating, so I returned to my prostration.”

When the Messenger of Allah finished praying, the people said:

“O Messenger of Allah, during your prayer you prostrated for so long that we thought something had happened or that you were receiving Revelation.”

He said:

Nothing at all happened, but my son was riding on my back and I did not want to disturb him until he had had enough. (An-Nisa’i)

I have to remind myself of this whenever Zayan does this to me.

4. Narrated by Abu Hurairah:

“Dates used to be brought to Allah’s Messenger immediately after being plucked. Different persons would bring their dates till a big heap collected (in front of the Prophet). Once Al-Hassan and Al-Husain were playing with these dates, one of them took a date and put it in his mouth. Allah’s Messenger looked at him and took it out from his mouth and said: “Don’t you know that Muhammad’s offspring do not eat what is given in charity?” (Al-Bukhari)

This explains how we should just take the offending item (things we ask not to touch or eat) and give brief explanation of why not to do it.

5. Anas said:

“Allah’s messenger was one of the best of men in character. One day, he sent me to do something, and I said: “I swear by Allah that I will not go”. But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what the Prophet of Allah had commanded me. So I went out and came upon some boys who were playing in the street. All of a sudden Allah’s Messenger, who had come up behind, caught me by the back of the neck, and when I looked at him, he was laughing. He said: “Go where I ordered you, little Anas”. I replied: “Yes, I am going, messenger of Allah!” (Abu Dawud)

Of course, I’m only human and get impatient and raise my voice. But I hope I can harness any anger or annoyance yang inda berpatutan, so I do not get too emotional when angry/annoyed. InsyaAllah. I pray that I would be as gentle and merciful and try to follow the footsteps of our Rasul, Ameen.

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A mother’s expectations

Something has been weighing heavily in my mind these last few days. I try not to think about it too much but I think by confronting it and finally writing about it, I can resolve it in my heart and head.

Zayan has done me proud since the day he entered our lives. Yes, he was a high maintenance baby (cries and fusses a lot, has very specific needs to be met, etc) but he is also a very ‘interactive’ child. He loves giving hugs. He likes meeting new people and saying hello and being all around inquisitive with them. He is very advanced with his motor skills when he was a baby. He says the sweetest things sometimes.

But lately, I have done the one thing that parents shouldnt (but inevitably) do. I compare. I look at other kids and think how articulate they are. How they seem to understand fully rules, how to play a game, general social etiquette. I look at other children and am amazed at how much they can count already, how they identify letters.. all around the same age as Zayan.

I have to keep reminding myself that Zayan has always been delayed with his language skills. He didn’t start speaking until he was 2 years old – I really kid you not. He would understand what we say and understand instructions but he just wouldn’t talk. However much I repeat words, ask him to say things, NADA. And then he started speaking and he says things more and more now. But he isn’t near what (some of) his peers are. My friend, who has seen Zayan growing up, reminded me that he has gone leaps and bounds in the last few months.

I go through counting and alphabet books with him and he doesn’t seem to remember what I teach him a minute after we went through it. *sabar fiz sabar* Then, he surprises me by saying them a couple of days later. I tend to forget how much of a sponge his brain is. He may not show it to me right there and then but he has demonstrated that he is absorbing things so much. Sometimes he says words that I’m not even sure where he gets them from – for example I was explaining what Ayah’s job is (he keeps asking “Where Ayah gone?” – like multiple times in a day) and he said “Ayah work in office.” Where did he get that from???

And I keep doubting what I’m doing. Am I doing enough? Am I not teaching him enough? He likes to play pretend and re-enact movie scenes. Now this is ok, and quite funny. But it isn’t so much when we’re walking in the mall and he decides to re-enact robot scenes or Kungfu Panda scenes. With full facial emotions and arm gestures. Often stopping people in their tracks and looking bewildered (or terrified if they’re kids). I feel he is in his own world sometimes and doesn’t understand the social etiquette of not being in his own world when in public! I’ve tried telling him that he can only do this at home (“In car?” he asks. “Ok, in car too…”) but he play pretend from time to time, somewhat unable to control himself.

Don’t even get me started on him having the occasional hitting. That said, he was playing with his friend Riaz the other day and they were fighting over some cushions. He suddenly hit Riaz in the face. All the adults, myself included, were standing at the other end of the room. Riaz sat shocked and turned towards me. Before I said anything, Zayan (whose back was towards the adults) hugged and apologised. The two of them started playing together again. I could never be more proud of the two boys – Riaz for not crying and telltaling and Zayan for apologising.

Anyway, I have to stop comparing. I have to remember that he will get there eventually and he will mature eventually. It has dawned on me that I have my own expectations of my child and sometimes I just have to let it go. I’m doing my best and I will strive to give him the encouragement and resources to grow in his own time.

I love you Zayan, and I’ll try not to be too much of a Tiger Mama.

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Traveling long haul with kids: part 1

The first time Zayan went on a plane, he was six months old. We were flying to Brunei and I flew solo. (Mumtathil couldn’t go just yet and would meet up with us a week later) It was actually an ok trip, with minimal crying and stress. And I think it’s because I was fairly organised with it.

That’s the secret of travelling with kids, I feel. Things need to be organised and easily accessible. I read an extensive blogpost by this ex stewardess on what to expect when travelling long haul with kids, which was really useful. Unfortunately I can’t find it now :(

So, here’s my take of travelling with Zayan, both as a baby and as a toddler (he last flew when he was 2.5 years old – again on my own):

Arriving at the airport:
– Remember to check in online if you can. The queue for online check in is usually much much less. Toddlers hate queuing!

– Also book your seats, especially if you want a bassinet.

– Think of how you want to have your kid travelling around the airport. It’s such a long walk from the moment you walk in the airport to the gate. When Zayan was a baby, I used the Mobywrap and had him wrapped around me from the get go. I didn’t have to take him out of it at the security check (YAY!). When he was older, I had him in a stroller, which I used all the way to the gate. The stroller can be brought to the gate as long as you inform them when checking in.

– Milk: I brought expressed breast milk once in a carry on bag (I put it in a small cooler bag filled with dry ice packs). I think I was asked to taste it, but can’t really remember now. As long as you inform them at the security check, there wasn’t much of a fuss. They did have to check it in their machine but it wasn’t a problem really (just 2-3 minutes of waiting).

Then when he was older and drinking formula/cow’s milk, I just bought some milk inside the terminal. In Brunei, they didn’t have this of course but I did bring in milk (formula) and they didnt stop me.

– When going through security check, I just had to be efficient. Make sure our outer gear is removed. Pack up the stroller. Have all liquids in one bag. Have electronics (phone and ipad) out.

In the terminal:
– I have learnt that it’s better to eat before going into the plane. Only because it might be another hour or so before meal is served. From house to airport, it takes us two hours so by the time we’re in terminal, Zayan is most likely to be famished. So it’s better to just have a meal. A full toddler is a happy toddler.

– Ditto for toileting activities. Empty the kid’s bladder and change nappy before boarding. It would be another hour before this can be done and anyway, the plane’s toilets are not that big and comfortable anyway. (It was a bit like juggling act to have zayan as a 2 year old and myself in the cramped space of a toilet – and ensuring he doesn’t press any alarms/roll down the toilet roll/any other mischiefs).

– Before getting inside the plane, when packing the stroller, take any bits that are loose. I forgot to take one of the stroller adapter thing and it got lost by the time we arrived in Brunei :( Lesson learnt!

In the plane:
– I have surprise ‘presents’ for Zayan in the plane when he was older. Just small, lightweight stuff like books, stickers, little car. Given at intervals ie before he gets too bored/stresses me out.

– It’s better to bring a lot of snacks as well. Zayan eats a lot of things – he’ll eat rice, pasta, meat, chicken. But he eats what he recognises. So sometimes it takes awhile before he’ll eat something that looks new to him. Or he wouldn’t even eat at all. Also the kids meals actually is not what zayan is used to – he doesn’t eat nuggets, pizza. So, we should prepare to bring stuff which he can eat if he refuses to eat plane food.

– Remember to change nappy every so often! He slept a lot really, maybe in 18 hour flight (two legs of 8 hours each and a stop at Dubai), he would sleep 10-12 hours. Sometimes I wouldnt wake him up so as not to disturb him but actually forgot to change his nappy. Once this happened and I found his seat to be wet and him having a really full nappy *cue crying emoji*. We had 3 change of clothes: one for the overflowing nappy and two for being so messy/spilled drinks. Sigh. SO MORAL OF STORY: Bring at least 3 sets of clothes and also, for yourself.

– When baby sleeps, you rest too! Because usually for Zayan, he would sleep on one leg and then be so energised for the next!

– Organise your kid’s carry on bag well. I like the idea of having ziplock bags and putting a set of clothes for each kid in it. Then I dont have to rummage around looking for Zayan or Ayman’s clothes. Also, have a little bag that only has changing mat, wipes and one or two nappy. Then, you can just whip it out and go to the toilet with it each time.

– If it’s a night flight, I do change Zayan into PJs when we’re in the plane. Basically, treat it like his bedtime at home.

Ok, that’s all I can think of right now. Next: Jet lag and how I hate it.

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