Friday, January 07, 2011
In case you are wondering what Toastmasters Club is, it is definitely a bunch of us sitting around toasting our breads and discussing what is the best way to do it. Go google or read more here
Anyway we are having our very first club meeting next Tuesday and as a club officer, along with 2 others, we voluntered to be the very first to give our speeches. The first project is the Ice Breaker and it is meant to be a speech about yourself.
I spent 2 days thinking of an angle to approach this topic. It should be easy but I wanted my first speech to be a bang and not just another documentary about my where I was born, where I schooled etc.
Its in the final touch-up stage to tighten the language but here goes ....
Tell me what you think, won't you ?
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
It has gotten so bad that my mind goes into freeze mode whenever a situation arise that requires me to add, subtract, multiply or divide. It is not so much that I am bad at mathematics (I was a below average student in Maths but have never flunk any papers) It is just that my mental ability to process numbers is somehow not developed.
My husband calls me plain lazy to think and although deep inside I agree with him, it has become almost a physical thing. My brain goes into freeze mode and I get into a frantic state where I either whip out my mobile to use the calculator when I am alone or look helplessly to my husband to provide the answer (cue “I’m a Barbie girl” song)
Part of the reason is perhaps I have never had a good foundation in Maths. When I first started learning Math in school, I always hear everyone around me say “I’ve never been good at Maths” and “Eee I hate Maths. Good luck to you” “So far no one is our family is good at Maths”. It was almost inherent that I kind of self prophesize that I will also be horrid at Maths. I’ve heard of stories where a person hated Maths but because she/he had an exceptionally inspirational teacher who made the subject interesting he/she develop an interest in the subject. Unfortunately I never had such a teacher or role model.
More than anything else, I have never had the interest and repeated wrong answers kind of broke my self confidence in the subject and wilted any motivation I had to do well.
I once met an ex-classmate who said he was majoring in Mathematics at the Uni. I remember looking at him like he was an alien from outer space and thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to major in Mathematics ? “
I realize now that Mathematics is very essential and it is very disadvantageous if we do not have the necessary skills for it. Now that I am a parent, I would very much like to ensure I do not prejudice my child against any set of knowledge. I want them to be the very best they can be and will do anything within my power to provide the necessary environment for them to excel. Which is how I come across Kumon.
I have done quite a bit of research into this. I like the methodology for the following reasons
a) It starts off the child at a manageable level and allows the child to build their self confidence.
b) It is one to one & customised according to the child’s ability, very much similar to the Montessori method which I strongly adhere to.
c) It is a daily thing (this has its cons too)
d) It instills independent learning and will allow the child to learn to solve problems on their own
e) it develops the child’s mental capability and gives them the advantage to master arithmetic, the very basic of a lot of mathematics concepts.
f) It is independent of the school syllabus and allows the child to learn concepts beyond those taught at his age in school
I have reservations on this methodology because of the following
a) It is very tedious, requires lots of repetition in order to achieve mastery and can be very boring for a child with an inquisitive mind.
b) It gives the child a inflated sense of confidence when they progress beyond their school level and can bring rise to arrogance and over-confidence & in its worst case scenario, confuses the child when he is taught the same lesson in school
c) It kills creativity and can rebound & cause said child to HATE Math (unlikely though, it seems)
d) It is expensive and will take a sizable chunk of my disposable income (something I hope the hubby will subsidise) It will be worse when my Muzaffar comes of age to join Kumon classes
e) It involves very detailed parent involvement to monitor that the child does his worksheet every day w/o fail and I may drop the ball when work and family commitments comes to the fore. (thinking of family vacation )
f) I know that Kumon will be beneficial for Maths but I have my doubts over the English syllabus (more on that later)
I have gone for the Parent orientation and like what I see for now. Tonight I will be sending my 4 year old boy for the diagnostic session to see which level he should join.
If I may make an unbiased assessment of my son, I would say he is above average but he has a very short attention span. He also thrives on praises and positive encouragement in order to motivate him to do well and take the next step. He is discouraged very easily when he meets a roadblock. I hope that Kumon will give him a head start and his bolstered self confidence will spur him to want to explore and reach his full potential.
I have been told that the first 3-6 months is the most difficult as the child needs to get into the routine of doing kumon worksheets daily and resistance is to be expected.
I will provide more periodic updates on whether I actually go through with enrolling my Mubarak into Kumon and how he (and I) fare with time.
So imagine my despair and utter despondence when upon my return from celebrating my son’s birthday on 1st Dec, I realized the phone wasn’t on my physical self and was not in any of the bags I was carrying. I turned the car upside down in the hope it had dropped into the crevices and searched all the family members' bag in case it somehow went into theirs.
Lucky for me, my husband is not the kind who berates. He could see how dejected I was and consoled me by telling me not to think too much and accept the fact it was gone. He called the operator to suspend my line and arranged for me to collect the replacement SIM card. I did my due diligence and called up the places we went, to see if any kind souls found the phone and reported it to the management. It was a very long shot as I honestly did not expect anyone to do anything else but pocket the phone. After all it was a brand new HTC Desire and was less than 6 months old.
Out of the blue on Sunday evening, I received a call from a Miss Asmunah of the Snow City asking if I had visited the premises recently. My heart was beating out of my chest as I waited for what she had to say. It seems she found a phone on the snow slope (no less) and held on to it, hoping the owner will call up the phone or if the owner would come back to claim it. When a few days has passed and the phone was still in the lost and found box, she actually went through my contact list and called up the number listed as “Home”.
To say I was over the moon would be a gross understatement. Needless to say within the hour I was over at the Snow City to collect my phone.
What impressed me most was that
- She could have pocketed the phone but didn’t
- She is sure to come across a hundred lost items in a day but she took the effort to follow up to look for the owner of the phone she has found.
- She could have left it in the lost and found box to rot or until the grace period is up and then give it to her colleague/kid/ whoever.
- My phone has a PIN lock. She actually took out the Sim card, put it in her phone and searched for my Home number. That takes effort. I am not sure I would have gone through all that effort if I was in her place.
I thanked her profusely when I met her and took down her details. I was determined to highlight this gesture she has done for me and show my appreciation to her. The very next day I googled all the email addresses of the management of Snow City and sent them an email to highlight what she has done for me.
I will be sending a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates to her as well.
I reproduce the email below as well as the reply from the management.
Dear Sharifah, thanks for taking the time to write and letting us know the incident. We will convey our thanks to Asmunah for what she had done.
Snow Venture Pte Ltd.
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: A Bouquet of Thanks to Asmunah Selamat
I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation and thanks to one of your employee, Ms Asmunah Selamat. I am sending this to you to highlight what a gem of an employee she is to your organization and hopefully you will express to her my thanks and recognize the value she has brought to your organization.
My family and I visited the Snow City on 1st Dec 2010 for my son’s birthday celebration. We had a marvelous time there and it was only when I reached home that evening that I realized my mobile phone was missing. I had no recollection where I had misplaced it or if it had dropped out from my pocket.
I called the Snow City to enquire on 2nd and 3rd Dec 2010 if there was a phone reported as found. It was a longshot enquiry and I was not surprised when the person I spoke to said no phone was found. I had given up all hope and was deeply saddened as the phone was very recently purchased and contained various confidential and personal financial information.
Imagine my surprise when on Sunday evening 5th Dec 2010, a lady, Ms Asmunah, called from the Snow City to enquire if I had visited the premise recently and lost something. She said she had been waiting for someone to call the mobile or come to collect the phone but when no one did, she took her own initiative to look through my contacts and called the phone number listed as “HOME”.
That was not all that she did. She stayed behind to meet me well after her working hours on the same evening when I came by about 9pm to collect the phone.
I acknowledge the effort and initiative she has showed. She could have just as easily pocketed the phone, or dumped it in the lost and found box until someone came looking for it. Her honesty, conscientiousness and great initiative is something I truly appreciate. I hope you as her employer will do the same.
Please send my regards to her and I hope you highlight this incident to her. She is not just a model employee but a model human being.
I will not hesitate to recommend Snow City to my clients and family members not just because it is an interesting tourist attraction but because of the value of the employees found there.
Should you need to reach me, you can call my mobile at XXXXXXX or my number below.
Thank you very much.
With my best regards,
Monday, November 29, 2010
We will be taking leave on this day and spending the day with him, to celebrate the day he was born, along with all the people he loves. Although it seems that the celebration is for him, in truth a small part of it is for us, the parents. We want to celebrate the day he was gifted to us by Allah s.w.t, two souls who had nothing – no money (well, not much) , no knowledge on how to raise a child other than the little we had read, no clue as to what to except and yeah basically Nothing except lots and lots of love for each other and the firm belief that we are truly blessed to have been awarded this perfect child by Allah s.w.t and that we will do our best to raise him right.
I know this is going to sound cliché but honestly it does feel like it was just last year that we had him and we brought him home from the hospital. Of all the things that happened in both my deliveries, the most poignant moment were the trips home from the hospital.
I remember vividly every single detail about the journey from getting dressed in the hospital room, saying goodbyes to my Gynae and the wonderful nurses at Glen E, being escorted out of the ward on a wheelchair (hospital procedures) by the hospital staff and waiting at the lobby while the valet brought us the car. I remember carrying the small, precious bundle in my arms, dressed in his best. Most of all, I remember my thoughts lucid and crystal clearly. All the time on the wheelchair and all the way home in the car, I was thinking to myself “OMG, OMG, OMG, Is this real ? Are we going home ? Am I really ready to be a mother? Can the both of us take care of a baby?”
Now as I look at my son, I realized so much has happened since then. He is now a bright young man who is full of sunshine. He is very expressive, articulate and a cheerful child. He is well liked by his teachers and friends and my uncles and aunts as well as the hubby’s uncles and aunts continuously sing praises on how well behaved he is.
He is well-rounded, loves Lady Gaga as much as he loves his Asma’ul Husna (and he can recite it well too) He is great at taking care of his brother and relishes any duty given to him to carry out. The best thing about him, he has a sense of humour and is able to see the funny side of things! (something not many people can do)
He has a looong way to go and I hope the hubby and I will be around to hold his hand as he makes his way through the meandering roads of his life.
Happy 4th birthday my darling Mubarak. May you succeed in life and make all your dreams and aspirations a reality. Insya’ Allah. Amin.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I am inspired to write my own list for my boys. More on that later....
Meanwhile enjoy !
1. You DON'T have to please everyone all the time. You DON'T have to please ANYONE at all, if you don't feel like it. Sure, nice people sometimes do some things for others that make them (others) feel good. I am all for such niceties. But remember - NEVER be forced into doing something, anything for someone if your heart, gut or mind says no. Listen to your "self". I am not condoning selfishness. I am just saying that do not give in to someone's "Good girls make sure their parents/husbands/boyfriends/friends/God/whoever are happy". Remember, a happy and contented self is much better than a happy anyone-else. But diplomacy sure does make life easier - remember that!
2. Stand up for yourself. Because no one else will, if you don't. Don't be bullied into doing something you don't want to. If you think what you are offering someone is reasonable and fair, it probably is. If they don't agree, negotiate. But DO. NOT. BE. BULLIED. INTO. SUBMISSION!! It is possible to be pleasant and yet stand your ground. At the same time, never be hesitant in unsheathing your claws when you have to. Sometimes you HAVE to show people what you are really made of in order for them to take you seriously.
3. Remember good men don't hit women. They don't terrorize women, humiliate them or coerce them into doing something they don't want to do. There are plenty of good men around. You DON'T have to settle for anyone less than "good". Not even for "good enough". It is better to spend life alone than to put up with an abuser just because "Good" didn't come along. Have the confidence to go on your way alone and I am sure you will find someone who is just right for you. Even if you don't, remember YOU are perfect for you! Remember how your dad loves and respects me. Always remember - you deserve such a partner too. Never settle for anything less.
4. Be financially independent. No matter how loving a husband/partner you have and even if you are well taken care of, make sure you have at least one UPDATED skill that can get you gainful employment whenever you need. You never know what curveball life will throw at you next year, next month or next moment. Be prepared. If you WANT to work, never let anyone tell you that good wives or mothers don't. Never let another person dictate whether or not you should work, or where for that matter. There is no blessing greater in this world than to be able to do what you want to do in life. And don't let any idealist tell you that working to "earn money" is inferior to any other goal. Don't let money be your be all, end all. But do make some money. You will realize a healthy bank balance brings along mental peace and allows you to focus on the more important things in life - like family. Don't undervalue money, but don't overvalue it either.
5. Take good care of yourselves. Take time out for yourself, no matter how crazy life is and no matter how many responsibilities you have. Even if you are with someone, make sure you take out time for YOU. Alone. Very important for your "self" AND for any relationship. Eat healthy, exercise, be active. Have some hobbies that take you outdoors and allow you to be physically active. Mental agility is good too. Try and strike the balance between the two.
6. Be cautious. In unknown locations, uncertain situations and around unknown people. ALWAYS be on your guard! Safety should be a habit, not a "hobby". I cannot stress this enough.
7. Learn everything there is to learn to survive AND to live comfortably. Learn what it takes to progress in your professional fields, learn to cook, to sew, to change a flat tire, change a light bulb, repair a fuse, fix a toilet. In short - anything that you might need to do one day. Or earn enough to be able to pay others to do all this for you. But I'd still say knowing how to do all these things is a good idea - then you will know if someone is trying to rip you off by charging, say, 50 bucks to fix a fuse.
8. Don't hold regrets and grudges. They poison minds, hearts and relationships. It is a difficult thing to learn. I am still learning it. But I hope you will do a better job of it than me. Talk things out. Don't let a little disagreement fester into a big one. Learn to apologize when it is your fault, but don't be apologetic all the time. Learn when to say "I understand you feel this way, but I think I am right".
9. Take a long time to make friends and even longer to end friendships. Remember it is hard to undo the hurt of a mean word or gesture. But also know when to let a relationship go. If it is preying on your mind and being, but going nowhere, you are probably best OUT of it than in.
10. Be competitive. Healthy competition builds character. Don't let the pacifists tell you that participation is good enough. Participation is good but winning, or trying to win, is better. I don't mean to tell you that your efforts are worthless if you don't win. What I mean to tell you is put in your 100% efforts and then some more. If you win, good, if not at least you know you tried your best.
11. Love each other unconditionally. A sister (sibling) is our first and ever lasting best friend. Sure you will have differences. Who doesn't? But learn to resolve those differences amicably. In the end, when your dad and I are gone, you will only have each other to lean on.
Anyway I wanted to share a little about siblings love. I am the only one from my mother and I have not truly felt any feeling of sibling love or rivalry, Which is why I am adamant about my Mubarak not being an only, lonely child, like I was.
As a child, I was always aware that I am an only child. Sure I had siblings from my dad’s earlier marriage but they were so old and distant they were as good as aunts and uncles.
I am always in awe of this great love between siblings. I feel a twinge of jealousy when my mother meets up with her sister and they huddle close together in a room and whisper. I feel lonely when I see my cousin and her brother share an inside joke on their parents. Of course, there are times I feel sorry for them when they have to share their toys /books (FYI, I hate sharing! That word shld never have been invented) and I secretly gloat about being an only child when my cousin or friend has to give in to a younger sibling just because and they scream “IT’S NOT FAIR! THAT’S MINE!!”
Still, I thought being an only child was no fun and I am glad that I am now the proud mother of 2 boys !
My husband and I try to inculcate sibling love right from the beginning. We tell the elder that his first best friend should be his brother and that no matter what he should always priorities his brother. We will tell the younger one the same when he understands the concept.
At 4 and 18 months. It is really too early to see if they have developed a lifelong sibling bond but we are happy with what we see so far. Whenever the younger one is being disciplined, the elder one will rush in with a hug and will try to soothe n placate him with a toy or food. Out of the blue while they are playing, the younger one will suddenly stop, turn to his elder brother and give him a loving hug which is reciprocated eagerly.
I also like how, despite having playmates his age, my elder will ask his younger brother to join in the fun. Whenever I ask the younger one to join me for a short bout of reading or when I call him to have his dinner, he will pull his elder bro along.
Of course this has its embarrassing moments too. Once while my mother and sister –in-law brought the elder out for some shopping, a lady shopper commented on how smart (mouth) my boy was and gave him a toy and a $2 note. (I don’t know why ppl give money to strangers’ kids but that is another post altogether) Instantaneously, he asked the lady, “what about my brother ? Where is his ? “ Ooops !
I have a distant relative who has 5 kids and the siblings are super close. They do everything together and now , even though they are each married and with their own families, they are still very close and always make it a point to meet up at least once a week. I would very much for my kids to be like that and I have on numerous occasions asked the mother what does she do to instill this great bond between them. She says she does not have any particular formula other than making the elder one personally responsible for the next one and that participating in family event is a must and is non-negotiable. Simple? Sounds very simple but actually implementing it will not be so easy, I think.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I knew they ordered in food because I saw the delivery guy arrived and I knew there was a cake coz I met the cake-buyer in the lift in the morning with her huge bag. She had this "Pleze let there be a hole so I can disappear look" and I really felt so sorry for her and guilty that I didn't mention anything about the cake. But I certainly didn't expect such a big spread!! They ordered enough for an army !! And the way they celebrated my birthday was sooo very extravagant !!!
I was on the phone when I received an Instant Message that the Country Manager (CM)wanted to see me in the conference room. I peeked from outside and the room was dark so I knew something was up. I entered the room cautiously and inside was my CM in the dark holding a birthday cake with lighted candles and my other colleagues all came in after me to sing me a birthday song. Now THAT was a big surprise !! *flashback to my last birthday party when I was 7 years old*
And when I got home, I received another surprise. My birthday bouquet of a dozen pink roses plus that one essential red rose !!!
Now that for that bday gift I've been waiting for....... hehe
Ain't birthdays the best !!!!
Monday, February 11, 2008
Mubarak has not woke up for a night feeding ever since he was barely a month old. I have been enjoying uninterrupted sleep almost since forever.. that is ..until last week. Mubarak is not eating as much as he used to and as a result, is drinking a lot more milk than normal. Unfortunately this also means that he now wakes up at 3 in the morning and screams for milk. I have never had to wake up in the middle of the night and considering I was breastfeeding until recently, we do not have any milk making facilities in the bedroom. So, it's a real nightmare having to wake up in the middle of the night, make the trip to the kitchen and having to do it real fast since he is crying for milk at the top of his voice.
Most nights, it is his Abah who has to make the trip to the kitchen so last night, we decided to bring in a small flask, tepid water and milk filled bottles into the bedroom so that we did not have to make the dreaded trip to the kitchen. When he woke up promptly at 3am, I trudged to the milk station and made Mubarak's nightly cap. Strangely he took one sip, took the bottle out of his mouth and shook his head (all the while still sleeping) I kept insisting and he kept shaking his head. Thinking he has changed his mind, I left him in his cot and continued sleeping. Barely a few mins later he screamed bloody murder again and this time despite many attempts by his Abah to give him milk, he also refused. Out of desperation for sleep, I offered him breast milk instead. At 6am he woke up again asking for milk. Clearly the breast milk was not filling enough. Again he refused the milk when his Abah gave it to him. Suddenly his Abah realised why. Instead of filling the hot water and tepid water into the bottle with the pre-measured milk, I had poured the water into a nearly empty bottle - the bottle Mubarak had finished before he fell asleep. No wonder he refused the milk. It was 99.9% water and 0.1% milk residue. In my sleepiness stupor, I must have mistakenly poured it into the wrong bottle.
Umi is so so so sorry Darling. I promise not to do it again. From now on I will make sure ONLY ABAH WAKES UP TO MAKE YOUR MILK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!
Monday, January 28, 2008
"In a paper published online on Sunday by the journal Nature Medicine, a National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) team exposed lactating mice to airborne dust containing ovalbumin, a well-known asthma allergen that is found in egg whites.The mother mice transmitted the allergen to their newborn through the milk, helping the offspring to develop an immunological tolerance to the irritant.The tolerance was induced thanks to the presence of TGF beta, an important signalling protein, in the breast milk.Breastfed mice whose mother had been exposed to ovalbumin were far less likely to develop wheezing, airway mucus and other asthma symptoms than non-breastfed counterparts." more...
One of the major reasons I insisted on breastfeeding Mubarak and Insya'allah all my children is because I would like to try my best to ensure my children do not suffer asthma like I do. While the other benefits of breastfeeding like increased immunity etc are more widely known, the theory that breastfed babies were unlikely to inherit asthma has never been really proven. In fact there are some research that suggest the contrary. Still, I am convinced that breastfeeding has benefits far beyond what has been discovered. If it says so in the Quran and Hadis, no amount of studies and research with whatever results can convince me otherwise.
I'm glad to say that I have reached my initial goal of fully breastfeeding for the first 6 months. I thought my downfall was sure to happen when I started work and had to pump at work but despite the difficulties, I survived. My next goal was to continue fully breastfeeding for the next 6 months and while I fell short by one month when I started partial formula at 11 months, I must say I am very proud of what I have achieved. At the present moment, I am still partially breastfeeding Mubarak and insya'allah I will continue until he reach 24 months, the recommended breastfeeding duration in Islam. He no longer breastfeeds for hunger and nutrition but more for comfort. Nothing is more blissfull to me when I walk in the door from work than to find him running to greet me at the door and asking for his milk. Even if he just finished his 180ml bottle a few minutes earlier. He may not be able to express himself in words yet but his actions is enough to tell me he misses me and want to be close to me.
The additional benefits that come with breastfeeding is also truly remarkable. I thought it was just my good luck that Mubarak is an easy to care for child. He very rarely falls ill, has great self-confidence and sleeps through the night. Until my aunt (who breastfed all her 6 children to 2 years) told me that breastfed children are usually easier to care for. Well, let's hope its true for all of my children as well. Insya'allah.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
But now, 3 and a half month after baby it has started happening. Its horrendous!!! When I comb my hair, it falls out in clumps, when I wake up in the morning, my whole pillow is full of hair!!! And the floor.... I have to sweep twice a day just so that I can remain sane and not get on my hands and knees to pick up every hair I see. And lets not even mention the shower drain. That's a major chore to clear every single time I take a bath.
Despite all the books I have read that discusses this phenomenon and all the old wives tale I hear from all the makciks, the first day it happened to me, I had visions of myself balding and in need of chemotheraphy (Ok I know its the chemo that causes hair fall but I can't help but associate hair falling with chemo and cancer) Nauzubillah min zalik.
Apparently its called postpartum telogen effluvium and it happens to most women about 3 months after delivery. It seems that its normal to shed about 100 hair a day and during pregnancy since you don't shed much hair due to hormones, at some point those hair will have to be shed anyway to make room for new hair. But must it all fall at the same time??? Uurrgghh !!!
It totally doesn't help either that my boy is at a stage where he is super curious and super active and every so often I find him holding fistfuls of my hair and I frantically try to clear it before he plunges his fingers into his mouth.
I have been told that the situation should clear up within 3 to six months. It is almost guaranteed that by the time my lil' hero is a year I will stop shedding hair like a shaggy dog but that's way to long to suffer, if you ask me. Till then, if I greet you at the door with a shower cap please don't be alarmed. You have been warned!