Dear Nadra, 3.5 years on

Dear Nadra,

How and where should I start? 3.5 years you are now, how time flies!

Every night, after you have fallen asleep, I would look at you thinking how much you have grown. From a tiny little human, barely a length of a pillow, now, almost the height of the bolster. It never fails to amaze me how mature you have become over the years.

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I know it has been a roller-coaster ride for you, having to adapt to new house, new school, new addition of family and all, but look at you! You survived it all without with no complains. Well, a little bit of hesitance here and there but overall, you did very well.

You love school, especially your Teacher Eloise. Every weekday after we have fetched you from school, you would excitedly tell us the things you did in school, sing the songs you’ve learned or show the dance moves you’ve mastered. You understand better now that during the day we had to work and Irfan and you will be in school to learn new things and play with friends. On some days you feel sad having to leave and would sob while we drop you off, but don’t worry, that is normal. Even we adults sometimes have to drag ourselves to work. You told us you wanted to be a doctor when you grow up. We will support you regardless.

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Nadra, at 3.5years, you are able to converse very well. You can speak very clearly and voice your displeasures. When you are unhappy, you would tell us, and if you want something we do not allow, you would try to negotiate. Now that you are a little older, you tend not to stick to routine as much as we would like you to. Just the other day, after reaching home, you told us to give you 10minutes before showering so you could “rest” and watch Octonauts. Usually, we would insist on you showering at that instance, resulting you to cry uncontrollably. However, that day, we gave in. We showered Irfan first, and after 10minutes was up, you switched off the TV, went to the bathroom without being asked and told us you were ready to shower. We were surprised! No kid at the right mind would stick to timings so obediently. Even your father’s 10minutes would stretched to an hour if he was playing with his PS4! Now that we know you meant what you say, we will, listen to you more.

We have started teaching you about money and the value of it, the concept of savings, of course not expecting you to understand it all, but you did. Whenever you received money from your grandparents, you would place them in your coin box. If it doesn’t fit, you would pass to us and told us to save for you. You saw us selling a few of our items away and asked why we did that. After explaining, you straight away went into your room and pointed us a few toys you wanted to sell cause you no longer play with them. “ I can sell these toys to other children so I can buy new toys,” you said. During your first sale, you were beaming. You were smiling so widely clutching your earnings and telling us about the new toy you wanted. We were so proud, not only you were willing to let go, you also understood that money has to be earned.

Your relationship with Irfan is getting better. Though there are fights, you two made up very quickly. There are lesser pulling of hair, pushing and biting each other. Snatching of toys still have not changed. I understand you value your toys very dearly, but we must learn to share, especially with your own siblings. And Nadra, we do not tolerate you putting your brother in the washing machine! You might laugh later when you read this, but trust me, you said that twice during your fights with Irfan. On the other hand, you were very protective of Irfan too. When Irfan cries, you would get very worried and asked why and wiped his tears away. You would hold his hand when walking and shampooed his hair during bath time. When we are busy with the house chores, and you saw Irfan crying for attention, you would call for him. “Come Irfan, Nadra is here”. Thank you for being a supportive big Sister to Irfan, we could never asked for more.

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Nadra, more changes will be happening this year. I can’t promise it will be smooth, even I am worried myself. However I am sure, you will embrace this change with open heart. After all, you have always been our one tough cookie.

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Love,
Ummi

Dear Irfan, 15 months on

Dear Irfan,

I have never written to you before. I had a letter for Nadra, and that too was long ago. So many things have happened and I do not even know where to begin with.

You are now 15 months my little boy and your developments have never failed to amaze your father and I.

Whilst being a second child, you never showed any jealousy towards your sister. In fact, your easy going nature since young has got us so thankful. It made Nadra adjusted with your presence quickly and loves you with all her heart. I know she sometimes does things to irritate you, but do know she meant well. She calls no one else “Cute Cute Boy” except for you and kisses you the moment we fetched you from school.

Ever since a baby, you are an observer. You observed everything, like how we read our books, comb our hair, Nadra dances, and even when Nadra was having her un-glamorous meltdown!

It took you awhile to get used to loving the water but you did eventually. Straddling in the kid’s pool is no problem at all. You love to read. Every night without fail you would go into Nadra’s room, takes a few books and hands them to me.

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It really warms my heart how every weekday without fail, you would wait patiently for us to fetch you at your school’s door, with eyes lighted up immediately at the sight of us. No words needed to know how much we meant to you, as much as you meant to us.

At 15 months, you are rather independent and listen to instructions very well. Just the other day, you tried so hard to take off your pants. In the process, you fell forward and bump your forehead. But that did not stopped you. Not only did you managed to take off your pants, you took off your diaper as well. You love to clean. We bought you your own cleaning set because ours are not meant for children. They are too long and dirty. We could never save on tissues at home. Every spill you make or every crumb you drop, you would grab a bunch of tissues to clean it up. Well, that is totally fine with me but your father thinks that we should not waste tissues. You thrive when given tasks to do. Your current tasks are to put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket and throw your soiled diapers in the rubbish bin. Oh how these tasks bring so much joy to you. The moment you’ve completed your task, you would clap your hands, smiled and walked away full of triumph. Sometimes I wish I have feelings like you, easily content with the simplest thing. As we grow up, our emotions are tainted by so many things and sometimes, we do not know how to feel happy and satisfied anymore. I hope you will remember all this tiny little things that makes you happy. Life will be so much better.

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And Irfan, you do have your moments too. There are meltdowns and fights and screams that tested our patience. Like how you screamed and refused to let anyone feed you at the restaurant cause you wanted to self-feed even though you knew it will spill and create a huge mess which we have to clean up later. Or, how you refused to go out of the bathroom and ended up pinning yourself on the bathroom floor. Or, how you peeled away the bumper guard cause we told you that you can’t climb onto the tv console. Or even throwing whatever you are holding when we denied you something that you want. Real temper you have there. We understand these emotions are all new to you. Do not worry, we will guide you along.

As I dropped you in school today, seeing how you placed your shoes into your cubby-hole, waved me goodbye and hurried to play. I realised how much you have grown in the past 15 months. I may not be the best mother around but until I learn to be right, I hope you will be patient with me as how you have been all this while.

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Love you always,
Your Ummi

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Twenties

This year, will be my last year celebrating my twenties.

If you know me well enough, I am a go-getter. I can’t and will not stop if my mind is set on something. I do not tolerate last minute plans and likes orderliness.
In other words, I do not like surprises.

Faiz and me have been together for a very long time, and he never could execute a surprise. He usually ends up spilling the beans when triggered.

This year, amongst our hectic schedule, the kid’s birthday and Irfan’s viral fever, he managed to quietly planned the birthday itenarary without me instigating.

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It was simple, no-rushed, something befitting our schedule.

I got to try a new cake flavor from my favourite cake shop, lunch at a new cafe and a dessert on a thick slice of bread.

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Though we had to shorten the day as Irfan’s fever made a comeback, it was a day well spent.

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What more could I ask for after seeing my kids, one singing me a birthday song at her top of her lung, and another happily clapping away. A sight that melts any mother’s heart.

Thank you Faiz for the birthday treats. It was well thought of. 🙂

Turning a year older

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The kids have just turned a year older in October, Nadra turned 3 and Irfan turned 1. I still cannot believed they are toddlers now. How time flies! Especially with Irfan, I feel that his “baby-time” is too short. We seldom have an alone-with-Irfan time. Usually it will be with Faiz, me and almost always with Nadra. Irfan, being the most easy-going person in the family, seemed accustomed with the fact he has a very clingy sister and most of the time mind his own business.

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Irfan can walk now, and he is always on the move and quietly planning something up his tiny sleeves. He is a quiet observer but learns very fast. Yesterday, his nose was runny and I told him to get a tissue to wipe it off (of course I wasn’t expecting him to understand). He walked towards the tissue box, pulled the tissue and wiped his nose! We were shocked. He even walked to the dustbin in the kitchen to throw the soiled tissue away. While eating his puffs, he accidentally spilled the contents from the bottle. He went “oh oh” and carefully picked the puffs one by one, placing it back into the bottle. He is very independent for a 1 year old. There are of course some days that he would just cling onto us, but on normal days, he is good on his own. He tends to look intently at people he doesn’t know but when he does recognise, he will flashes them a smile.

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Nadra on the other hand, is quite a character. Her vocabulary tripled and so does her tantrums. One minute she is happily singing, and the next minute she can go into hysterical. It can be because of anything! Like if she was not able to maneuver her tricycle to turn and it went straight instead, or her shoe straps came undone or even because her feet got wet (because she jumped on a puddle)! She still have yet to learn how to control her emotions. Now, whenever she was being scolded or she felt embarrassed she would shout/smack. Putting her in the corner didn’t work, she would just run away. We learnt that by not responding and leaving her to calm herself was the best option. Every day is a new discovery with this girl. She ate better now and is always negotiating. She hates cutting her hair. On days she needs to get her fringe cut, she would bargain. “Okay, I will cut my hair. But you must give me ice-cream”.  Every morning, before sending her to school, when I asked her to put on her shoe, she would negotiate “Can you give me a minute to watch Octonauts”? Her “a minute” usually ends up 5 minutes though.

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Okay, back on their birthdays. Like Nadra’s previous birthdays, it was private with presence of immediate family members and very close friends. This year was no difference. We had Nadra’s birthday celebration in school with her friends and a combined celebration for Nadra and Irfan at home with family members and close friends.

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Prior to Nadra’s birthday, she specifically mentioned that her cake should not be shared and Irfan should have his own cake. She wasn’t able to make up her mind on her cake and kept going back and forth on Barney and Minions. She had a barney cake last year, so we thought she should have minions this year.

If you know me, I do not like fondant. They taste like sweet plasticine and most importantly, I never handled fondant before. So when Faiz told me that I should make a 3D cake for Nadra, I shuddered. “Children only cares on how the cake look. Nadra will be surprise if she sees  a minion 3D cake. She will be over the moon. Think about it.”

So I succumbed. You cannot imagine how frustrated I was while making this. The humidity was not helping causing the fondant to sweat like crazy!

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Not the nicest looking thing (untidy!), but it made the children wild excited and we ended up getting hugs from all the children in school.

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To compensate the fondant taste, I made a rich chocolate cake filled with oreo cream cheese frosting and covered with dark chocolate fudge frosting. The combination somehow worked. Cake was not sweet and fondant taste was not detectable. Children and teachers had second serving. Nadra gave me a big hug and thanked me. “Thank you for making me a Minion Cake Ummi”!

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For Irfan’s birthday, we wanted something simpler, a traditional cake, nothing fancy but tasted nice nevertheless. I baked a light coconut sponge cake filled with lemon curd, covered with coconut swiss meringue buttercream and coconut flakes. Can you believe I actually forgot to take a picture of the cake? I also prepared Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel tartlets. We catered food from Ummi’s Abdullah Ambeng Cafe and my mum supplemented with curry puffs and nutella blossoms. Kids were having lots of fun opening their gifts and the attention they are getting.

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We were drained once everyone went home, but kids slept soundly with a smile on their face. Irfan hugging his new toy train, and Nadra hugging her new book. A sight so beautiful, putting our exhaustion away. Never mind we do not even have a proper family photo.

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Calling out

Nadra’s first word was “Abah”, the same goes for Irfan. 

I don’t know if it is because of the easy pronounciation or they are just more fond of their father. “Ummi” seemed not to be in their early vocabulary. Nadra only addressed me as “Ummi” when she was about 15months old.

Yesterday, as I was folding the laundry after putting the kids to sleep, I heard a soft calling from the room.

“Mmmama…mmmama…”

I hurried to the room and saw my little boy, already seated with arms outreach, trying to reach for me, “mmmama”.

My heart swelled. My 1 year old, calling for me. Well, not exactly “Ummi”, but Mama will do for now. Knowing who I am and what to call, are already good enough for me.

  

  

Shiny everything

Nadra loves the word “shiny”. She uses it in almost everything. 

Is my dress shiny? (Eventhough it is not. How can a plain floral t-shirt be shiny, there isn’t any glitters either).

Is my nails shiny? (After just trimming her nails).

Ummi, look! I brushed my teeth! They are so shiny!

Just a few days ago, after washing her up after she used her potty, “My butt is so shiny”! *facepalm*

Err, Nadra clean is not shiny and shiny does not always means it is nice. 

  

The birthday cake

Yesterday during bedtime, Nadra was talking about birthdays and we told her that her birthday is coming soon. Oh she was excited alright. She even told us what cake she wants. 

Me: Nadra, do you want to celebrate your birthday together with Irfan in school? (Their birthday is 12 days apart)

N: No, Nadra is Nadra. Irfan is Irfan. Cannot share.

N: I want a Barney birthday cake for my birthday okay?

Me: Again? Last year you already had that you know.

Faiz: Not nice la picture cake. Plain white cake then put 3d figurine are nicer.

N: Abah doesn’t like my birthday cake! I don’t like you! (pointing to Faiz)

Faiz: No…no I like. 

Nadra already turned away and pretended to sleep. 

You see dads, never destroy a kid’s dream, especially not how they want their birthday cake to be. 

Conversation with Nadra

Ever since Nadra can talk, she always amuses us with her matter-of-fact reasoning.

Situation 1: Faiz was playing with her by throwing her up in the air while at the beach.

N: Don’t throw me up too high. Later I disappear. 

F: (trying to contain his laugh) You can’t disappear!

N: Yes! If you throw me too high in the sky.
Situation 2: Lately Nadra eats very little and complains of stomach pain.

N: My tummy is painful.

Me: It might be because you didn’t want to eat. You must eat something ok?

N: Ok. I want to eat waffle ice cream.

Me: No, not ice-cream. You have to eat proper food.

N: Waffle ice-cream is food, not toy.

  

Tantrum knows no night and day

Yesterday, we were woken up in the middle of the night by Nadra’s scream and violent kicking. We couldnt make out what she was trying to say until she began pulling off her diaper.

Nadra is toilet trained by the day. She has no problem telling us when she needs to use the bathroom. However at night, she does get into occasional accidents especially, if she is very tired. We all know how tiring raya visiting is. After she peed on our bed the day before, we thought she still needs diaper on when she goes to bed. 

Well, certainly someone wasn’t happy about it. 

“I don’t want diapers!” She screamed again while throwing off her unfastened diaper over the bed. 

After putting on her underpants and pajamas, she fell right back to sleep as if no drama just happened. As we tried to get ourselves back to sleep, Faiz laughed, saying how unexpected that tantrum was and it was funny. 

Well, children’s tantrum certainly can happen anytime, anywhere, be it night, midnight or day. We just need to be prepare ourselves when it strikes. 😩

 Nadra who had enough of house visitings and kept asking to go back home.