Parenting book

I was going to start writing about a parenting book I’ve recently picked up. It’s called Toddler Taming – sounds like it’s a book for wild toddlers’ parents but actually it tells about milestones and different – ahem – issues you can have with a lil tot. I flicked through the ‘Sleep’ section.

Now, I’ve got a 4 year old who will not stay in his room. When it’s bedtime, he will fall asleep with one of us in the room with him – not necessarily in his bed. Then sometime in the night between 2-4 am, he will creep into our bed. Sometimes he will cry and I’ll wake up and pat him back to sleep. Mostly he creeps in very sleuth-like and I wouldn’t even realise he is in the bed until his kicks wakes me up (so fidgety even in his REM sleep) or when I realise I no longer have my space/pillow. Mostly we get on with it, sometimes it is ah-noy-ying.

I guess looking back, we have come far with him. He was so difficult to put to sleep as a baby. It involved a lot of wild rocking, singing, crying (both me and him) and a whole lot more rocking. I tried the cry-it-out when he was around 3-4 months – failed miserably and I couldnt handle it. I did get him to cry less after some reasonable -expensive- advice from a sleep consultant. Yes, you heard me right. I paid for an individualised online sleep consultant advice and book. That was how desperate I was (totally recommend it though – ‘The Baby Sleep site’ – it tells you what to expect from newborn, different age groups, why babies/kids wake up in middle of night, babies sleep physiology). I also read the ‘No cry sleep’ book – which is oookkk. It helps you have some advice you can take to get babies to sleep better.

It wasn’t until my ex-consultant went ‘YOUR 10 MONTH OLD STILL SLEEPS IN YOUR ROOM? GET HIM OUT!’ She reasoned he should no longer need night feeds but just wanted it for comfort. Now at that point, I was sleep deprived, doing my oncalls, commuting two hours a day and I have just had it. I need my sleep and space back. (He was waking up every 2 hours, crying and hard to put back to sleep unless there’s ME. And I felt guilty when I’m not there on night shifts and M has to put up with not being me.) So we did it, it was trying week but he went to sleep on his own in his own cot. We moved house a few months later, and his cot has to be dismantled for awhile. Then he started sleeping on our bed again and it was so hard to get him to sleep on his bed. I was HEAVILY pregnant with Ayman and I had to sleep in his cot – he must have been 2 year plus. I guess a lot of it is that I didn’t follow through on keeping him in his bed – I was either tired or just wanted some sleep after a long day at work. He can now sleep in his bed but the issue is him creeping on our bed. I’ve been trying to get him to creep onto Ayman’s bed instead – HAAA! It SOMETIMES work, lol.

Anyway, so I’m reading this toddler taming book. The thing I love about it is that it is old-school, which might seem uncomfortable to take for the more new-age parents. It gives advice on when to be firm and I think that’s useful, because sometimes when I see my patients’ attitudes, I just wish there’s more ‘firm’ attitude from the parents. I dont have it with me right now but I’ll copy and paste once I have it.

The other book I do recommend is ‘French Kids Don’t Throw Food’. Read here for my review on it.

The thing is with all these parenting books and websites:

  1. They are not be-all/end-all for parenting. We can only wish there’s one big manual that helps for all the kids. There are some things that you think – nah I can’t do that. Especially with some kids. Like with zayan, I’ve learnt he needs more reasoning when I tell him to do something. It’s best to tell him in a calm, reasonable way and when he’s in a happy place. The more I get angry, the more he wouldn’t listen to me. Ayman on the other hand (even though he is still a baby, I can see the difference in personalities) are more easygoing and alternates between being ‘scared’ – he will follow what you say- and ambivalent.
  2. Over time, I realise I shouldn’t put myself (and the kids) in such high expectations. I find myself in a ‘I’m a failure’ state when I read these books. Like WTH, it didnt work that easy for me.
  3. Take it with a pinch of salt and follow your instinct.

Recently, I’ve been trying to get Zayan to read/learn alphabets. It is so hard to get him to focus and sit down. The ‘Toddler Taming’ book says that there is no academic difference between a kid who learnt to read at 4 and at 6 years old. Most kids learn to read between 5-6 year olds. Phew. That made me feel so much better. It says that it’s better to give kids that time to play with them. Those are the times that can never be returned back. Kids that learn to ‘read’ at an earlier age may be good at ‘rote’ learning aka memorising and identifying letters through patterns, but it’s better to teach letters and numbers and reading in a contextual manner.

Sometimes I worry about all these things I’m not teaching him. Like maybe I need to sit down with him more and learning about numbers and letters and writing. And memorise dua/surah. He is not a ‘sit down’ happily kid. His attention span is like Dori. So I need more innovative ways to teach him. The thing is he picks up phrases and letters and words without me realising it. My childminder said that he is saying more italian words to her, even though she doesnt speak to him with it (she speaks to her husband and kid).

I love his imagination though. This is what he told me recently in our bedtime conversations. We were quiet and the room was dark already. He suddenly said:

Mama, I want a bigger house.

Oh really? Why? More space to play?

Mm, no. I want four rooms. And robot bed.’

What does robot bed do?

‘Hoover. And shoot.’

Oh no, but our house will be destroyed if robot bed shoots!

Robot shoot outside wall!‘ (He looks at me like I was being a noob)

‘You can have robot bed too mama, and Ayah and Ayman.’

Oh Zayan! I like how you chose a bed that hoovers too. How awesome would that be? And everyone of us can have it too!

Anyway, I think I have to remind myself from time to time – that if my kid grows up as a kind, tolerant, self-controlled child who is generous and respects people, I’ve done half my job. As Nouman Ali Khan said, it’s better to teach them the characteristics of a muslim before teaching them to read/memorise the Qur’an, for then they are already learning the contents of our book. 

Love,

me

 

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Third culture kids

And so my 90 day fiance addiction continues. I am now watching Season 2, having finished Season 3 yesterday. One of the things broached by a father of the groom, who was skeptical of interracial relationships, were how hard it would be for the kids.

I have – and still do – think of how it would be for my kids. I came across a term before: Third culture kids.

Taken from Teacher Wiki,

Third culture kid (TCK) is a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.[1]The definition is not constrained to describing only children, but can also be used to describe adults who have had the experience of being an ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kid). The experience of being a TCK is unique in that these individuals are moving between cultures before they have had the opportunity to fully develop their personal and cultural identity.[2] The first culture of children refers to the culture of the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the culture in which the family currently resides, and the third culture refers to the amalgamation of these two cultures.”

Ok firstly, just to confuse everyone, M comes from a mixed race family himself (half bengali, half chinese – adopting neither bengali or chinese culture or language). Then take me, Bruneian girl who has lived in UK for 14 years with a slight American tinge to my spoken English/accent. Then we have our kids. And one day, inshaAllah, we will bring our kids to Brunei.

Oh boy, that will be interesting.

I’m always scared of the boys not fusing well with the language, the culture, because they’re used to being here. I want them to have a sense of belonging. I know at the end of day, we are Allah’s Abd, His slaves – so culture and race and language shouldn’t matter. As long as we have our deen, it would be ok. But I can’t help but think of how important my culture is to me. I know there are some parts of Bruneian culture (like the wedding culture) that I disagree with. But there are others that I embrace too.

I guess I want my kids to have an identity that they can relate to. That they don’t feel lost. Hmm, lost might not be right word. Rootless?

“One of the challenges of being a third culture individual is developing a sense of belonging, commitment, and attachment to a culture. These factors play a strong role in one’s self-esteem and identity, and are especially apparent as present or not present among TCKs.” (Again, taken from wiki)

At the end of the day though, I guess there are two important things:

  1. Relating to our deen – as long as we have that, we shouldn’t feel lost.
  2. Knowing your family is there. Wherever they are, however they feel, I know that my kids will have two sets of families who love them.

Lotsa love,

me

 

 

 

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90 day fiance

So I came across this show called 90 day fiance – it looks into lives of different couples, essentially one American and the other non-American. There is a fiance visa called K1 visa where the non American can enter USA and stay for 90 days. In that 90 days, the couple have to get married or else the non-american has to leave the country. All of them met somehow or other briefly and seen each other face-to-face for brief periods of time, essentially having long distance relationship.

Though it is of different circumstances for me and M, I felt like I could relate to some of it – like the intercultural bit of the relationship. There was so many difficult questions in the beginning. And we were pretty ‘fast’ for a couple. We got together in October, he flew to Brunei a few months after (March?), his parents came over in June and we got married in September.

From the beginning of our relationship, I’ve stated that if we were to be together, he has to come to Brunei at the end of our training. That has always been my intention – I’ve never wanted to stay here forever and never felt at home here. He agreed, though it prompted many difficult conversations in the beginning. I think he was worried of his family’s reactions as opposed to him personally not wanting to come to Brunei.

Then there were questions that comes every now and then. Like if both of us are deceased, who will take care of our children. Where will we be buried. Will we leave the country if the other dies. It sounds morbid but I guess you have to broach these questions.

As a couple, I feel fortunate that we have the same values in life,work, religion, upbringing of children. We don’t fight much over the BIG things. I guess that made it work – watching the show, when there’s a core value that gets misaligned, it’s pretty hard to imagine how the couples go through it.

We’re still a young couple (6 years together, 5 years married) and we have a lot to learn and go through. There are things that I’m learning that are important to him and he’s realising is important for me. Like raya for me is the biggest thing. I love celebrating raya and being with family for raya and just making a huge big deal out of it. He didn’t grow up that way. He’s always been helping me out for first day raya every year but until last year, he was always oncall. So it was never a big celebration anyway. I think he gets it now though… make a big deal for raya: tick.

As for learning about each other, I KNOW to make things tidy for him (I don’t always though). I was a slob in my single days – my room was always like a shipwreck (‘organised chaos’), I am not tidy AT ALL, I could have damp laundry sitting in the washing machine overnight, I eat on my bed. I must say, I am so much better now. Friends who used to live with me would be surprised. The house is tidy 98% of the time – 2% messy when M is at work and then back to tidy 30 minutes before he comes back. I do find it stressy when the house needs to be tidy all the time. But actually having such busy schedules, it pays to have it tidy. We would have a shipwrecked house otherwise!! I don’t have to worry about allocating half an hour or an hour of cleaning/tidying up. Apart from meals and kids toys, there’s nothing to do really (M probably begs to differ – he who vacuums the house regularly).

Ok I gtg. Just rambling now.

Love, me

 

 

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Who am I?

So I met up with some friends the other day who are new mummies. It brought me back to the newborn days, which for Zayan’s newborn days are termed as ‘the dark cloud’ days. That’s how it felt like then!! It was so overwhelming and tiring and I felt that’s how my life will be from then on – feeding and changing and feeding and having someone stuck to me forever and ever.

That was four years ago. I laugh now because I’ve gone past it and think how ridunkolous was I. Kids grow up and now I’ll be lucky if he wants cuddle s (actually Zayan is still up for cuddles, for maybe 5 minutes).

When I spoke to my lifecoach and she asked me what my core values are (what do I believe in? what do I enjoy?), my mind went blank when I thought of what I enjoy doing. There was silence, a long awkward pause. I … I … I can’t remember me I stuttered. I like photography! And writing! And sports!!But I dont do those things anymore. I just work and am a mummy.

When I was pregnant with Zayan, I was adamant not to write too much about the pregnancy. I didnt want to be that mother. Although I’m that mother now, ha! I mean, I didnt want to be defined as just a mum. I want to be everything thats me (as well as being a mum) — except I’ve forgotten who me is.

I mean me now is different to a few years ago. Today’s checklist/mission to do consisted of:

Sorting old kids clothes
Printing pics for my scrapbook (80% of which have my kids faces)
Cleaning the bathroom
Teaching Zayan to read
Bake cake

I did think I should go to gym class/run but there were too many excuses that took over.

I did manage to read, although it resulted in this:
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Ayman climbing on top of me as I (try to) read.

Then when I put him on the floor, he managed to open the jar of eczema cream. Dont ask why cream is in nutella jar.

Anyway, I dont know what my point is. My points are:

(1) I need to accept that the me now have different priorities.

(2) At the same time, like what my lifecoach said, I have to do things that I love so I can be more of me and happier with myself.

*Googles Lonely Planet Places to Travel in 2016*

Lotsa love,
me

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Highlights of 2015

I’ve been blogging for 11 years now, since 2004. And this blog has been up for 5 years. I used to write a summary of the last 12 months at the end of year but have been abandoning that now. In my downcast mood, I thought I need to build up my optimism again. All I can think right now is ALL I DO IS WORK ANYWAY.

However, let’s give this a lil twist (ie malas mode), these are the highlights of 2015 for me – in no particular order because my memory fails me these days.

Big transcontinental trip to the US

San Francisco woot woot!

Those were the best 2 weeks. Ayman was small enough to sleep all the time and not make too much fuss. Zayan was fairly well behaved throughout. We stayed over at our friend’s place, who were great host/hostess and M’s bff – therefore making it even more memorable. The sun was shining all the time and we stayed a few minutes walk from the beach. California, we love you.

 

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The view near their house

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The beach near our friend’s house – Jealous much – WALKING DISTANCE YO

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At the bay – This looks just like a random picture but Zayan was just so happy playing with the bubbles. He was laughing and jumping, the innocence and happiness over something trivial is refreshing.

 

I met a lifecoach 

Say what, you say? It’s a long story but I got recommended to see someone to improve my assertive skills. Around that time, I was hoping to pass my exam. I actually met her at the end of 2014 when I was about to do my clinical exam. I met up again with her after my maternity leave ended and I’m so glad to have met her. She was motivating and helped build up my confidence. She gave little tips to improve my presentation skills, speaking up and being more concise, she even told me ways to ‘SAY NO’ (I can’t say no).

One thing that I remember but fail to follow is this:

We went through my ‘core values’ – things that makes me, that makes me happy, that makes me unhappy.

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I’ve just re-read her last email and this explains what she was trying to tell me.

Hi Hafizah,

Lovely to see you today – what a shame it was our last meeting!
I’ve attached your values circle which, as I explained, you should read from the core outwards. This means the key to happiness for you is in becoming more organised and efficient, doing some sport or fitness and letting that independent spirit of yours out! you can then ripple out towards positivity, creativity and knuckle down to do what you need to do. Then just keep the ripples going until you can do what perhaps you’re best known for: smiling, having fun and making a difference to other people’s lives.
Enjoy being you!
We went to Brunei – twice!! 
Left: My cousin Keri’s wedding in September 2015
Right: My abang’s nikah in December 2015
Our first trip away as a couple since Zayan was born  
-aka first in 4 years!
We went for a weekend to Copenhagen. Thanks to No-no for looking after the kids!
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Above: The Tivoli Gardens – a magical, permanent Winter Wonderland kinda themed. Such  a fairytale place and not so commercialized – if that makes sense. It has a nostalgic feeling around it.
We spent a lot lot lot of time with my Abang and his family
They lived in Manchester for a year as a family and it was so nice to have Zayan be with his cousins. We also went to Ireland for a weekend trip when my parents came over.
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Zayan hit so many milestones
But mostly, he started to talk more fluently. In sentences. Non stop. He says stuff like ‘I want excavator’ – had to google what excavator really is. ‘Mama you the billen’ (villain) ‘This my weben’ (weapon)
Can you guess what kind of games we play? (ie I’m forced to play)
And he turned 4 and had first bday party in Brunei!
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Ayman woke up more and became a lil man himself
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From laughing for the first time
And walking
He is so different from his Abang Zayan. Quiet and unassuming, but his mischiefs are done in a more sleuth-like way. And then he looks at you as if nothing’s wrong.
Keeping it real
There are other hard things too. My family went through a lot this year. But alhamdulillah, we’re closer now and actually the ended better than expected. Have a new (not evil) sister in law!*
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Do you know what a success it is having 8 kids look at the camera at once?
Do you know what… I feel better already. Counting my blessings, and thanking Allah for all that is given to me and my family. And also, it made me realise how much travelling makes me happy.
Lotsa love,
me
PS I used to have a fear of having evil sister in laws. Alhamdulillah, fear unfounded!

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Is this worth it?

I realise I’ve been abandoning this blog for awhile now. For the first time ever, I actually forgot of its existence. In fact, for awhile, I have gone off blog-hopping, a used-to-be fave pastime of mine.

A week or so ago, I reached a tipping point. Without trying to sound melodramatic, I felt jaded with work at the age of 31. Talking to other colleagues, it seems like I might not be the only one. It felt like going through a hamster’s threadmill every day, working and pushing to your limits, and for what? Do I enjoy my work? I love working with children, I love seeing them transform from being so well and then running out of the ward, I find comforting and reassuring parents a satisfying job. But then there are other aspects of the job – the never ending ‘service provision, the lack of appreciation when all you want to do is do the best, getting bollocked by parents. I love the team I work in, they have been nothing but supportive, but I just came to a point thinking: This is just not worth it anymore. I know I still have years of working to pay back my dues but for now, I am tired of giving my all.

I’ll get it back again. Not too long in the future I’m sure because I have always wanted to do my best. For now though, let me just wallow in my hibernating self. And try to get my mojo back somehow, someway.

Love, me

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Copenhagen

Wow so it’s been almost a month since I posted something!

Anyway, I just wanna post this before bangas ceritanya and I cant be bothered to write about it. It’s a monumental occasion I feel because for the first time ever since becoming parents (aka a month short of 4 years), M and I left the kids for one night *shock collapses*. Actually it was 2 days and one night.

What I was looking forward to the most is a lie in. Not having to wake up and tend to a child, just taking my time.

I’ve been busy at work all week before and the week before and the week before, so I didnt really have time to prep for the trip. We planned to do something for our 5th year anniversary and discussed around going somewhere in UK. Then I started looking around for short flights/Eurotrain around Europe. The key thing is to have as little journey time as possible. so as to maximize our time in whatever place we decide. In the end, we chose Copenhagen (I wanted Amsterdam) because M wanted to go to a Scandinavian country. And yknow what, it was a good choice.

The flight itself only took 1.5 hrs from London ? Gatwick. We took the 7 am flight – omg leaving house at 4 am, I’m surprised we were still up for a full day holidaying. It was so easy going from Airport to city centre – took the metro and within 5-6 stops (less than 20 mins), we arrived at the city centre!

Now we didnt really have a plan. We knew about Tivoli garden but aside from that, we knew nought where to go. It was only at 6 am that day I started looking properly of where to go and places to eat (tripadvisor was my friend).

Let’s just browse through pics from ny phone:

Nyhavn – pretty and picturuesque. It’s slightly touristy but it didnt feel commercialized or tacky. Probably akin to walking around Covent Garden, in the sense there’s some stuff for tourists and the feeling of place/architecture is different from rest of city. Fact: Hans Anderson house was in this area. No 67 in fact.

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We took those tour guide boats which I feel is a rip off usually (from experience of tour boats/bus in Paris/Spain/Portugal). I did fall asleep at one point in the one hour boat ride but we did see some interesting places that we wouldnt have time to come across. The woman talking came out with facts/puns which made it interesting.

We had lunch at Nyhavn as there was a strip of restaurants there. Seafood choices is of abundance there FYI.

We checked in to the hotel around 4 pm, which was niceeeeee. Normally we go to Premier inn or some 3 star hotel/4 star B&B. I made M choose a more expensive hotel this time. And it was lush. The hotel had character I must say.

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In the evening, we went to Tivoli. It’s an old style amusement park but it was decked with lights everywhere and had games like ferris wheel and carousel. It had a nostalgic feel and the kind of place where you can see people getting proposed there. Yesss, it was certainly #success of a date night. There were a lot of different restaurants as well, even wagamama! There’s also another chinese/japanese restaurant but instead – because of M’s craving for meat – we had kebab!! (I think kami sakai it was halal as well) Ate it on a bench. Romantic.

Perhaps in my post prandial satisfied state, I agreed to go on the highest carousel ever and a roller coaster. I was shitting myself both times but it was fun as soon as I was in the ground again. The carousel was so high up you could see the view of the city for a long distance. Well I could have properly looked but I was too scared to open my eyes for long. Verdict: Tivoli cannot be missed when going to Copenhagen.

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I havent taken much pics the next day. in summay, we had a lot of fun and it was nice just being a couple again. No interruptions to our conversation. Holding hands. Just talking and being.

We both concluded that annual weekend getaways is a must!

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