Saturday, April 16, 2011

What I learn from 'Playgroup chit chat - Sawmia's Vadey'

When Al Fateh was two and Alwani was a newborn, we frequent the playgroup in our area. It's held once a week where moms and dads brought their child(ren) to meet others at the same age. It's a get-together time for the moms, too. Most of the time, we brought a plate of food to share. Sawmia, originated from India but has been staying in Perth for ages, always brought vegetarian food. One of them was my favourite, Vadey!!

This is Sawmia's version, simply yet super tasty!

Baked version.
Sawmia's Vadey
  1. Yellow split peas - soaked
    • 3 portions blend to paste
    • a portion as it is.
  2. Curry leaves
  3. Chopped onions
  4. Chillies, both powder and coarse
  5. Salt to taste.
Mix them all. Shape them into balls - flatten them.
Deep fry until golden.
Serve hot.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy eh? I always make them in a big batch. I don't fry them all, but bake most of them, cool them, and place them in small packets. Then deep freeze them. I only take a packet at a time for tea time. Clever eh? heheh.. Mak's technique.
Frozen vadeys ready to be baked/fried.

Bon Appétit!

 AF AW playgroup

What I learn from 'Alwani's 4th'

Happy Birthday my Princess Alwani. May you grow up to be a strong and steadfast muslimah, like Sumayyah Bint Khabbab; shielded with courage like Umayyah binti Qais al-Ghiffaria, who provided the medical assistance during the Battle of Khaybar. Aamin.

Abi and Ummi love you. And your brothers do, too, though sometimes they act like they don't, but boys will be boys ;D

Here are some snapshots of her handmade goody bag gifts and some scenes at school. These simple yet pretty personalised items were easy to make and fun to do, especially when the kids got involved in creating them (i.e. tearing the original label, cutting the new label into small pieces, sticky dot them). Alwani (and I) love the end product. Credit to Aisyah who helped in this process.

Crispy chocolate bar
Goody bag for school

Mini mentos

Ang-pow from Nenek

She wanted a white, pink and princessy cake. So there you go!  

Attacking the cake till the base @ Wadi Ez-Zahra. Delish!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I learn from 'my 1st year PhD journey'.

As I reached the first birthday of my unborn PhD thesis, I was asked to submit a Confirmation of Status (CoS) report. It's the prime time for me to show (off) to my supervisors and other members of the faculty what I have been doing and try hard to cover the things that I haven't done (but to no avail). 

Writing a report of a minimum of 10K words was among the biggest hurdle. But, alhamdulillah, my supervisor advised me to chillax and take it easy and kindly gave me a tip, which was to write the report according to the structure of the thesis, and he asked me to produce one in 2 hours time (so much of the chillax moment!).

And so, this was what I came out with.. my CoS skeleton.


My supervisor accepted my CoS Skeleton Proposal and I was asked to 'beef-it-up' in 4 weeks.

Having this skeleton did help me to focus on my 10k journey of CoS. The lovely thing about having this skeleton was, I could start on whichever point I wanted. Meaning, I could beef up the 3.7s though my 2.3 was still boney (to be honest, the literature review haunts me till now!!).

Hence, I learn that I need skeletons in my PhD life for clear and distinct directions. Thanks to my supervisor for introducing this concept. Now I know that I'm one of the Vygotsky-ans.

Oh by the way, my uni only wanted me to produce up to the (3.7) Research Procedure bit. Yours might be different, but at least, if you're just starting your PhD journey, you could have the fast-forward ticket by doing this from the very beginning! You'll be the model student for your professor, I bet!

All the best to us! May Allah eases our journey to gain beneficial knowledge and excellence, aamin.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What I learn from 'Hamza Yusuf's artistic talent - unleashed!'

My husband came back from his work, emptied his pocket onto the top of the dresser. It consisted of the usual items for a lecturer, which include multi coloured marker pens. Afterwards, our usual routine is to perform the Asr prayers together before having our tea.

While performing the prayers, I heard an 'unidentifiable child' (since I was praying) dragging a stool to the master bedroom and a few moments later, I could smell a very distinct smell of the ink from marker pen.. (so much of khusyu' asr prayers that day! Astaghfirullah!)

And this was the masterpiece.

I've never thought Yusuf, at the wee age of two, was talented not just in graffiti art, but also in problem solving activities. He managed to observe Abi's behaviour (with the sole interest in the marker pen), drag the stool from the kitchen sink to the master bedroom, climbed, tiptoed and secure his precious goal - the glorified marker pen! He must have been interested in it for a long time, for Yusuf was banned to even hold it since an earlier incident, which caused Alwani's cheeks and feet were stained for nearly 4 days.

And we were right to ban him.
Proudly admitting 'Yusuf conteng..' (I doodled this.)
Warning was due. We believe that a child should be told that he/she did a wrong thing, however young they are. It is important to start early because the child might thought what his/her actions were purely normal and acceptable. He/She would be shocked (not forgetting, would rebel in return) when he/she was told off in another year or two. In his mind, he might think, 'why can't I do it now when I've been doing this for the past 5 years!?' Hence, it is important to start disciplining our child as early as possible.
 I don't know how to rotate videos. Sorry for the head spin! This footage was taken in Malay Language.

Obviously, Yusuf still finds it hard to say sorry and making eye contact at the same time. We are still working on it. I realised that when my kids apologised without making eye contact, the tendency to make the same mistake all over again is highly promising.

On the same note, I believe that it is highly essential for both parents to be on the same page on the discipline routine. The discipline regime won't work when the mom is exercising it and the father 'rescues' the child. Children are intelligent creatures, and do not underestimate them.

And so, Hamza Yusuf's punishment was to help me clean up his own mess. He tried (in an extremely short time), and then proclaimed, 'Penat. Nak milk, please' (I'm exhausted. Can I have milk, please). And I told him straight to his face, with a wicked smile, 'I'm a bit busy, you can play outside first', and believe it or not, he dashed out to play with his trike, without demanding his rights to have milk! Told you that the wee Nessie can be very bright and sharp, even when he's only two!

So, accompanied with the faithful WD40 (the essential ointment for my hubster's Pinarello wheel), I sprayed and scrubbed with the dish scrub and after half an hour of my right hand work-out, voilà!!

Not as good as new, but at least our rented wall was clear(ish) from Yusuf's unwelcomed artwork.

Another practice I learned (and perhaps, try to practise) from renting a house in Australia was to return something you borrowed in as perfect condition as possible. The issue of being responsible (amanah) should be put into practice, especially when you're using another's house for shelter and safety. Embedding the feeling of respect to our landlord's property should be applied not only within ourselves, but also within our children.

Yusuf knew what he did was wrong. He even confessed to our landlady (who actually lived next door to us) and said sorry! Now, how can you actually be cross with the sweet wee Nessie?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What I learn from 'Machik Norziah aka Mak Shafis - Mee Rebus Johor'

I learned this recipe when I stayed in Dealy Close, Cannington, when the purple-skinned-white-flesh kumara were in abundance. At that time Shafis' mom worked her magic in the kitchen. I missed those 'hu-ha' carefree moments.

This is my reproduction of Macik Norziah's Mee Rebus. Made the meal for two main reasons:
1. The orange-flesh kumara was super cheap in Mydin last week. 
2. Mr Hubs randomly talked about Mak Shafis' mee rebus (what a huge hint!!)

Ingredients for:
A1. heaps of onions, 1 inch ginger, garlic, chilli powder
A2. 2 sticks of lemon grass, Babas fish curry powder
A3. 3 tbs dried shrimps
B1. Kumara of any type  - peel, wash, dice, boil, blend
Blend A1, A2 and A3. Stir fry in a big pot with appropriate amount of oil.
If you have shrimp stock, chuck it in the pot, if not, water will do. 
When all are nicely boiled, pour in the blended kumara. Add sugar, if needed. 

Deep fried tofu - diced.
Mustard green aka sawi - chopped as you like.
Bean sprouts - blanched super quickly.
Eggs - boiled and halved.
Green chilles - thinly sliced.
Fried shallots.

Spaghetti/Yellow noodle/Mee gemuk (in Alwani's language)

Keropok (which I didn't do since lacking of ingredients during this attempt)
Rice flour
Finely chopped garlic
Chicken cube
Mixed them all till very thin. Deep fry. 
Spread thinly at the sides of the frying pan.

Thanks Machik Norziah!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I learn from being 'a new Ummi, thrice.'

Mak carrying Al Fateh, Monika (R) and the registered midwife (L)
When I was in Perth, the first time mothers were encouraged to attend First-Time Mom Groups, which were held weekly, starting from the first week till the 10th. It was FOC and was supervised by registered midwives. It was fun and helpful, and most importantly, you feel that you have supports from others in the same boat! Some of these tips were gathered from them and from personal 'findings', too. Hopefully they're helpful! 

Tips for new moms out there. 
  • DO NOT stress about what you do not know about caring for a newborn. It takes time and every baby is different.
  • Make sure you take time out for yourself. You need to take care of yourself, too!
  • Accept offers from others to help.
  • Breastfeeding can be frustrating at first, but it is well worth it. Invest in a good pump if you can afford it. I personally used Medela PISA from my first born till now (my Medela is celebrating its 6th birthday soon!)
  • When you're nursing - drink, drink, drink. If you notice frequent headaches, you could be dehydrated and in need of more fluid. Good rule of thumb: each time you sit down to a feeding, grab a glass of water.
  • Right from the start, let Dad do as much as possible. Avoid the tendency to feel that you are the only one who can look after your child (though it might not be up to your 'standard' but at least you can have some time off!). Aside from breastfeeding, there is nothing that he can't do. Mothers need to give fathers the confidence that they can contribute as much as Mom.
  • Sleep in while your husband or a relative watches the baby. If you're breastfeeding, have a bottle (with your milk in it) on hand so you can sleep in. So now, even your husband can feed the baby!
  • Calm parents = calm baby
  • Starting at birth, talk to you child as if he/she understands everything you say. Don't be afraid to use big or complicated words.
  • Keep worry to a minimum. Children go through so many different stages throughout their lives that you will drive yourself crazy over worry. Go with the flow, do what feels right. Stop fussing too much!
  • Have patience. Adjusting to the sounds of a screaming baby can be a nerve racking experience. Don’t stress yourself out if your baby doesn’t calm him/herself instantly. It's natural!
  • Don't keep the house too quiet when the little one is sleeping. Most new babies sleep just as well in a nosier environment -- and then they don't get used to needing absolute silence!
  • Try to teach your baby to get himself to sleep by putting him down awake. When you know your baby is tired, have him fall asleep in his crib without you holding, patting, or rocking him. Al Fateh and Alwani are the living example (but not Yusuf!).
  • You and your husband need to make decisions based on what is best for your baby. Don't let other people make you feel bad because you decide to raise your child your way.
  • Get your baby on a regular schedule – mine was EAT-PLAY-SLEEP, midwives in Perth taught me this.
  • Update your baby book(s) and photo albums on a regular basis. If you put them aside for a few months, trying to catch up can be overwhelming.
  • Talk to your baby. It may seem silly talking to your baby at first, but it is how your baby develops speech!
  • Use your baby’s name in conversation.  
  • As early as you can, read to your child. Read colourful books out loud during breastfeeding and play times.
  •  Recite surahs from Al Quran and sing lullabies to your child in the form of zikir. Fantastic tune which soothes the bubb (and you’ll be rewarded by Him in return!) One of the examples is Zain Bhika’s Hush Little Baby.
  • Learn and practise your nursery rhymes collections! It has loads of vocabs!      
  • Teach your baby independence by teaching him/her to be alone, and most likely he/she will be happy. This will help as the baby gets older to learn how to entertain him/herself for small amount of time.           
  • Don't buy too many small clothes--buy big and let your baby grow into them.
  • You don't have to buy everything brand new. You child doesn't know the difference. Just as long as you show them you love them, they don't care what they wear. They’ll outgrow them ever so quickly, too!
  • Jamu (traditional herbs) can be disastrous - constipation for both moms and baby, less milk production - so use cautiously. 
 And last but not least,
  • You will get lots of advice from everyone on how to raise your child. Everyone will share their opinions with you.The best advice is to ignore most of these people and follow your own instincts!

What I learn from being 'the First-Time Mom'

Pre Ummi-hood
Nothing could prepare me for the pain of giving birth. 'Labour' - that's why the term is called being in labour because I was practically working hard like a sweaty stinky labour (maybe harder), with every super duper contractions which lasted nearly 10 hours during my first birthing experience (and amazingly, I was not sick of it because I went through another 2 long.. loooooong labours! Bless the forgetfulness and the missing neurons during previous labours!) Nonetheless, I do believe that it's a compensation from Him, since I had no difficulty being pregnant and easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy three trimesters pregnancy, all praises to Allah!

I have to acknowledge the essential tools that I used (extravagantly) during the labours that I have gone through (to this date) -
  1. My darling husband, who massaged, recited du'as and zikr, supported me during the huge waves of contractions, whispered love and encouragement and ultimately, by just being beside me, willingly, without hesitations and doubts; 
  2. Epidural (that worked), which helped me to save some energy for the pushing bit (and it didn't work during my third birth, the epi was all over the mattress!); 
  3. Supportive and attentive midwives. Yes, I love the midwives better than MDs during labour. They helped me made it a special experience, and not just a science project (but to all MDs out there, you can prove me wrong during my next birth, inshaAllah); and
  4. Ultimately, ALLAH and the trust & faith in Him, who makes it bearable and tolerable (most of the time).

Alhamdulillah, remember, not all of us ladies are privileged to be a mother, to go through a painful yet beautiful experience being a Mom. To all momsies out there, never forget that we are the chosen ones, we are the special people that He chooses to mold another generations of great Muslims - even when the endless midnight crying episodes occur!

[And I do want to remind myself to always be sensitive and not to brag about how cool being a mom is, since this kind of statements might hurt others who are desperately trying to be one... (and I do apologise for my wrong doings). I sincerely pray to Allah to ease the conceiving process for my friends who are trying to expand the quality Muslim ummah. Aamin.]

Mak with Registered Midwife Lorraine,
minutes after Al Fateh was born at King Eddie's, Subiaco.

Being the First-Time Ummi

There are several things that I wish I knew before I had a baby. Of course no lesson is truly learned without firsthand experience, but trust me, you will get through those first two weeks, two months and live to tell about it.

The first night home with a newborn is like being taught how to cook when your mom is not around. You're not sure of how much, how long, how to, when to, then what .. but you just do it. I confess that I didn't do everything right the first time, but I learn from my mistakes and move on. Unfortunately, parenting doesn't come with a manual and until we're face-to-face with an eating/pooping/crying/sleeping factory, junior has to endure the trial and error mode. Just do your best, ask for help when you need it, and before too long, you'll be a pro!

It might get very lonely when you're feeding and burping at 3am, when you could actually here the chooks' cockle-doodle-doos and hubster's deep snores in sync - please do not despair, you're not alone, and it will get easier. Rule of thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky, SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY IS ASLEEP! You need the rest to gain back your energy (and sanity as well as patience!).

Drink water, loads of them to increase milk production and reduce constipation. Some old schools are against this but it helped me, alhamdulillah.

Routine is essential. Get your baby on a feeding and sleeping schedule as soon as possible (i.e. feed every three to four hours, etc.) It will help you and your baby become more comfortable and know what to expect if you have a routine. 

Do not reject offers to help, especially if you have tried feeding, changing the nappy, burping but junior is still cranky and not content - let hubby, grandma, grandpa, sister or anyone hold the baby while you clean yourself, or go on the bed and have a nap, or even endure a pitiless massage. Please do not feel guilty.

I had a love-hate relationship with my milk factory during the first few weeks of birth. Latching junior on the engorged, painful milk factory with sensationally sore at the end of production line, was a huge battle for me. I remembered taking a HUGE breathe-in before latching junior, while stomping my feet on the floor with grimace and pain, pinching myself as junior nursed.  Even though it was painful, I looked down at his little face and I know he was enjoying it so much and getting the nutrition he needs.  It was priceless and completely worth it.  Even so, I wish that breastfeeding could be easier. So I salute to breastfeeding moms out there.

.... And well, time rolls along and you either get more sleep or you get used to not having any, but either way, life gets easier and more bearable. Just take each day moment by moment and cherish them and enjoy each moment to connect with your baby. I say this because sometimes it can feel like you're just doing a 'job' taking care of your baby and always seem tired and rushed. Remember to slow down and just enjoy your baby. The infant stage is gone in a the blink of an eye. Take loads of photos!

This piece is dedicated to the first-time moms of..

Ilyaas Hafiy bin Abdul Halim (25.3.2011) - Siti Nur Fathiyah
Irfan Muqri bin Uzair (27.3.2011) - Maizah Abdullah
Rezafran Damien bin Razim (31.3.2011)- Rafiza Idayu

Please share and comment on your experiences, the goods and the bads =D !! It might prepare other new moms for the new chapters in their lives!

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