The Smiley One that went Missing!

Here’s Mister Smiley.

I always thought Ihsan would be the shy, introverted one. But he’s not. He’s very friendly, he loves to sing and dance, always says hello to people he meets on walks or in the elevator.

He loves the playground. I can see a glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he looks down at the playground from our living room. And it almost always quickly follows with a sing-song request, “Mama, playgrnnnnd?”

He loves to swim and always tries to pull on his swimsuit over his head when he finds it in my wardrobe.

And he smiles on cue, whenever I ask.

But he’s also starting to challenge us much more. Just the other day, he refused to go down for his nap and cried himself to sleep by his room door, while his brother, hubby and myself fell asleep just metres away. We were exhausted and had given up on trying to pacify him. He DID NOT want to nap!

I have to reason with him every morning, explaining why he needs to wear clothes. If given a choice, he’d love to run around in only his diapers. Well, I’m sure he’d love to run around naked if he could. =P

When I tell him to stop doing something, when I give him one last warning, he looks me in the eye, grins and then does it anyway.

And after his 2 minutes are up in his time out corner, and when I walk in to ‘lecture him’ before picking him up, he tilts his head sideways and smiles so sweetly, that I just melt. He knows that he just needs to raise his arms, say the cutest… “Sorry Mama” ever….and I am on my knees just begging for a hug and for his kisses…

Was I surprised when my mom-in-Law said that they almost lost him when he was with them over the weekend? Not really. The parents-in-law were distracted by his brother for a second, before they turned to find that Ihsan was nowhere to be seen. They were at the playground.

Apparently, mom-in-law fled towards the carpark with Irfan in her arms, calling out for Ihsan. And dad-in-law ran in the opposite direction. They found him later at the void deck of ANOTHER block!

I can imagine, how he looked as the ran after him. He would shriek in excitement and start running away, delighted that someone was engaging in a game of ‘catching’ with him!

My heart stopped for awhile when mom-in-law shared this story later that night when they dropped them off. She mentioned it like it was….. nothing. They knew better than to call me to tell me he was missing. I think if she had called, I would have dropped dead of shock!

Thank goodness they found him. I can’t imagine it, if they hadn’t! This cheeky Mr Smiley…that sigh…I can’t deny…..I think…takes after me. =P

Facing my fears, wearing the Hijab.

I started wearing the hijab on 01 Ramadhan this year.

I haven’t spoken much about this beyond a recent post that pretty much warned people not to ask me about it if I ever did decide to wear the Hijab. That defensiveness had a lot to do with my own personal fears and worries about whether I was brave enough to wear the hijab. I did write about my personal experience of boys cursing a burqa wearing lady in SFO in this facebook post (or appended below). I feared the Hate I felt that day.

Since I started wearing the hijab, people have asked me about my decision and I was surprised that I found myself quite happy to talk about my journey.

I don’t think my story is unique. But it is my story.

I have always known that I would wear the Hijab. It was only a matter of- when? I’ve been raised to believe that young girls must dress modestly and don the hijab as soon as they hit puberty. But I was also raised to believe that there is no point in wearing the hijab if the way I lived my life was in conflict with the teachings of Islam, i.e. no point trying to look like a virtuous Muslim girl by wearing the hijab, if I don’t pray 5 times a day, if I don’t feel a connection to our faith and god, cheat or lie.

And for many years, that connection wasn’t very strong. I’ll be honest. I would only turn to God when I felt I needed divine intervention. Sometime I felt I needed divine intervention for what, on hindsight, does seem quite trivial, like exams or heartbreak. Other times for more serious things, such as praying for a loved one to recover from a serious illness.

While the connection wasn’t very strong, that connection…was, nonetheless, still there. Never in my mind did I ever doubt the existence of God, or my belief in Islam.

One of those times I felt I needed to turn to God was after the miscarriage I experienced 3 or so years ago. I turned to God in my moment of darkness. Praying that he would lift my spirits, heal me physically and emotionally, and not to take away, forever, the hopes of a child in our lives.

When we learnt that we were pregnant with twins, I was over the moon. But I was also riddled with deep dark fears that I would lose the pregnancy. Some of it was fear that God would punish me for all the naughty things that I had done, and believe you me- I’ve been naughty!

During this time, I received a lot of emotional support from many beloved friends. Many of whom are of the Christian faith. Whether they said it explicitly or not, I knew that I was always in their hearts and sometimes in their prayers. I begun to admire their initimate connection and genuine love for their creater, and felt envious of how their faith was such an enriching source of light and happiness for them.

As far as I can remember, I was taught to fear my creator and the fires of hell, more than to love and admire the Almighty’s greatness, compassion and love. I don’t remember people telling me I should wear the hijab or pray to demonstrate my love and commitment to the Almighty. However, I do remember elders asking me why I was not more afraid of the hellfire?

Anyways, the friends, the friend, they inspired me to revisit my connection with my faith and my own beliefs. Their faith helped me find my own.

My connection is no longer rooted in the fear of punishment, but more in appreciation for the gifts that I have been bestowed- my sons, my loving husband, my caring  family and friends who have been a source of strength.                                                                    

It is also rooted in a trust that whatever obstacles that is laid before me, was laid purposefully to help me learn and to strengthen me through hardship. They were and are not meant to break me. The pain of my first pregnancy only proved to my husband and I, that we wanted, more than anything else, to start a family. It also brought us and our families closer together in support of each other.

Did I feel like I needed to wear the hijab to represent this change? I don’t think so. It wasn’t about making a public statement of my commitment and faith. The truth is, I just woke up one day and felt that it was something i wanted to do.

I knew I was far from perfect. Have I missed a prayer since? Sure. Everyone knows how bitchy I am and how I LOVE to gossip. And I don’t even notice anymore when I flirt with men! Whether I like it or not, I am never going to be the perfect Muslim. After all, no one is perfect. It is more important that I don’t stop striving to be better. I believe God accepts me despite my imperfections and will love me for the sincerity of my intentions.

But I didn’t start wearing the hijab the day I woke up and felt like it was the right thing to do. It took me a whole year to finally muster up enough courage to wear the hijab. Much of it had to do with that story of hate I experienced. And some of it was a discomfort of losing the anonymity of identity I once possessed.

“It’s just that i like my anonymity- that i look a little chinese, filipino, thai, malay,cambodian and nepali. i don’t like that people know what race or religion i am, just from looking at me. it’s also why i’m reluctant to put on the headscarf, if i do- i’d be pigeon holed as a muslim girl. i just like my anonymity too much at this point of time to give it up.”

eveeleva, 2009

While I’ve come to terms with giving up my anonymity in Singapore by wearing my faith on my head, as it were. I’m not sure whether I will feel the same way if I’m traveling or living in the US or Europe. I can’t be certain that the fears I felt that warm summer day in SFO, won’t flood back and that I’d be tempted to yank the hijab off my head, stuff it in a bag, so that no kid would shout to a bus-driver asking that I be run down.

When that day in the future comes, will I have the courage to face my fears? Will I keep the hijab on despite my fears and insecurities, in the face of possible hatred and discrimination? I’m not sure.

But I have the courage today to say, whatever happens in the future is beyond my control. I do, however, have control of what I do today. And today, I choose to wear the hijab. I choose to be proud of my faith. And I choose to try and be a better Muslim today than I was yesterday.

I choose to take it one day at a time.

_____

remember like it happened yesterday the chills that ran down my back when 2 boys in a bus in San Francisco yelled to the bus driver, “run her down!” They were referring to a lady crossing the street. She was dressed in an all black burqa. You could only see her eyes. I sat silently. Relieved that they couldn’t identify me, the girl sitting a row before them, as a muslim. 

One of the reasons I h

aven’t worn the hijab earlier, is the fear of the hate I would encounter if I did wear it. I also felt shame for feeling that way. Perhaps that was why I hardly share this encounter since it happened the summer of 2005.

9/11 changed the world. And it did so startlingly for the millions of Muslims who do not condone the act but are suddenly vilified because of our identity as Muslims.

My fear hasn’t altogether dissipated despite the fact that I’ve decided to adorn the hijab.

But I’m comforted everyday by the non Muslim friends and colleague who accept me despite this change. I feel no different today wearing my faith on my head, as it were, then before. And I walk down the street everyday knowing, w absolute certainty, that noone on a bus is hoping I get lynched.For that and much more I am thankful for being a Muslim in Singapore.

Today I want to honor the memory of the lives lost on 9/11 and the families, frens and loved ones who must still be grieving their loss. I too wish that 9/11 had never happened and that we were restored the lives, happiness and peace we once enjoyed.


Eveeleva, 9/11/2012

It’s 5.30am and I’m Wide Awake

It’s 5.30am on a SATURDAY morning and I’m wide awake. And it feels great! In fact, I conciously told myself, no more work- blog now and have a bit of fun!

I’m into the second week of this experiment that i think is going to turn permanent.

The experiment:
Sleep between 9-10pm each night.
Plan to get at least 5hours of sleep. 
Wake up between 3-4am.
Clear emails and do some work.
Or if there are outstanding work that needs to be done, skip the emails and sort out the work.
Shower between 6-6.30am, before waking the boys up at 7am and getting them sorted for school!

My bosses actually asked me if things were ok, as they realised I was sending out emails at 4-5am in the morning. So sweet of them to be concerned, don’t you think? And my reply was- things are GGGGRRREEEEAT!

You see…I try and leave the office early. Usually i try and dash out by 5am so that I can spend some time with my boys. They go to bed about 8.30pm. If I leave at 5. I get back about 6ish, and get a good 3 plus hours with them. I can’t imagine spending any less time with them on a daily basis!

Given that work hours are largely filled with meetings, most of my peers and I end up doing a lot of work and clearing of emails outside of official working hours. It’s easy to keep up with work, when you have no commitments and can work till 8-9pm in the office every other day. But for me…i’m exhausted by the time I put the boys to bed at 8.30pm.

With other stuff I have to settle at home, I end up struggling to finish my work and end up logging off between 12am-1am. I then take an 1hour of wind down, i.e. read a book or watch tv before I sleep. If I don’t wind down, I will end up just staring at the ceiling all night long, my mind going through every line of email or work I had done, or intend to do. So I sleep around 2am, and then depending on my luck, the twins will take turns waking up between 4.30am-6.30 am for their early morning bottle of milk.

Yes, that means I haven’t had a good stretch of sleep in close to 2 years!

The perils of Mommy-dom!

This new schedule is working great. I go to bed right after I put the boys to sleep, which is when i’m sleepiest. I actually work in a good 5-6hours of sleep, which is all I need and I actually clear work after a good nights sleep, rather than at the end of a long and tiring day. This means I’m actually doing work in the morning twice as fast than late at night.

Of course this means I tire easily at night. Last Friday, I was out karaoke-ing with the colleagues. I was half-asleep by 9.30pm. Not much fun after that. But it’s kinda ok, cos you know, I have no social life anymore. Last Friday night was a total anomaly!

So since I spend most it not all my nights at home, getting to bed around 9pm is kinda easy! =) Its working so well, I’m even waking up early on my Saturday so that I can do stuff and not throw the schedule out of whack!

Mommies who work and are under a lot of pressure to put in the hours- you should SOOOO try this!

School Sucks?

This was a photo I snapped of the boys after school last week. 
Poor exhausted looking boys!
My brother laughed when he saw the picture. 
He said that a perfect caption for the picture was – SCHOOL SUCKS!
Photo taken on my iphone 4
But I’m glad to report that, despite the picture, they’re settling in well in school.They still cry when they realise that we are leaving the centre but I think are generally ok after that.
I do feel that leaving them from 7.30 to 6pm is just way too long. So i’ve enlisted the help of my mom to pick them up at about 4.30pm. She brings them home with her for some quality playtime her and my dad. I’m sure going from 5 full days a week with the twins to none at all would be a traumatising change for them, so I think this works out quite well. She has more of the day to do her own stuff but still has some time with the boys.
And it works for me especially as the boys aren’t exposed to any Malay language during the day. They do Mandarin, which is great. But i do want them to understand and speak Malay too! So that’s grandma’s assignment!
Here’s another cute picture of Ihsan with his school bag, which is obviously WAY too heavy for him. He insisted on carrying it, so we had to help him a little bit along the way! Tooo CUTE!

Photo taken with my iphone 4

What to Read When

Was pleasantly surprised when I dropped off the boys at school this morning when one of the Nursery teachers said ,” They really love to read, yar?”

Apparently, the boys are always heading straight to the childcare’s book collection.

I must admit, my heart glowed when i heard this.

She then asked if we read to the boys often?

But of course! We’ve started reading to them since they were 2 or 3 months old (I can’t be sure, most of the first few weeks were a blur for me) . And books have been a large part of their winding down routine before bed.

She then said,” You MUST have a large library of books for the children!”

I looked at Mr Eveel, and we kinda shrugged our shoulders and said, “Not really. We have a couple of books that we really do enjoy reading. And we just read them again and again.”

The conversation later made me think about a book that I had picked up- ‘What to read when’. I was at Kino looking for books for the boys. But because I was so overwhelmed with the selection of books there, I ended up looking for books about selecting books for your children. And i found this book. And OH MY! It was SUCH A GEM!

“Through books and stories that are designed to be read aloud, we convey to our children the beauty of language, the joys of rhythm and rhyme; and in the books we choose to read and the way we read them, we also convey the values we hold dear. 

Everyday as you pack a lunch, wave a goodbye to a school bus, tie a shoelace, braid a ponytail, the words you want to say to your child hum inside you: I love you, be safe, I love you, be free. I love you, I love you, let the world treat you kindly, come back to me. Here are the values of my life, our family, here is what I hope for you, here is what I dream for you.”

Isn’t that just wondrous?

Pam Alyn, in this book, was able to convey what is in the deepest part of my soul when I think about the connections that I am building with my children through the stories we share together.

Her book served as both a reminder as well as a guide for why we must read to and with our children, talks about how we can help our children be life-long readers and provides a reading ladder- what to read to your child when.

One important thing that i got away from her was when you read what level of difficulty books with your kid, and the fact that reading to your child is NOT an activity that stops as soon as they learn to read. It is about the opportunity to dialogue with your child.

I will definitely blog more about the book soon!….because…it’s worth sharing it! I mean, there’s sooooo many books out there. If there was a way for us to be able to filter the not so great books from what are going to be the CLASSICS of our children’s time, wouldn’t you want to know how to do so?

Call me kiasu. But when it comes to my children’s reading experience- I am definitely prepared to go ALL OUT!

It’s the boys first day of school and MOMMA is exhausted!

Today, my little baby boys started childcare.

I’ve been an anxious mess for awhile. I know my kids will start off probably kicking and screaming. But i never knew how much I would be taken off-guard.

They’re attending the PCF childcare Sparkletots which is at my void deck. SCORE! With 2 boys and no car, having their childcare be situated at the void-deck is heaven sent!

Thank you the gods of HDB that had bestowed us with a good ballot number for this SERs development!

(Dear God, I didn’t really mean that. I do thank you for all that. I just wanted to be sarcastic about the housing situation in Singapore and how many of my peers are finding it really tough to get decently prices housing in a good location. I’m really very thankful!)

Okay, sorry…I disgress.

I really thought that they were going to be a-okay if I was around. Confidently told my husband, he didn’t need to sit in with them and that I, the SUPERMUM, would be able to handle everything! You see, parents are encouraged to sit in for the 1st 3 days. But only for half a day, and the kid goes home with you at noon. So I thought, sure, no problem!

And they were ok. Kinda. I mean, they were rambunctious. Didn’t listen to the teacher, kinda played with toys and puzzles they weren’t suppose to play with and climbed tables which were not for climbing. Of course all this while other children, some of them pretty new, set nicely and listened to teacher.

So things were ok, until teacher said, “let’s go for a short-walk”. And i was like ,” HOLY CRAP!” (under my breath of course!). There were 3 teachers and like 10 toddlers, from like 1.5-3yrs. I was like- “You folks, sure are brave!”

I really felt absolutely powerless. I never bring the boys out walking, just us! They’re always in their tandem tricycle or in the prams. And i only let them out to run wild, in areas which are contained! Today- I had no control over the situation.

While all the little children walked in straight file, holding each others hands, I was trying to drag my boys along. They were trying to do all sorts of things but walk quietly!

And it was such a short short short walk! Like all of 50m before they wanted the kids to go back in!

I was soo thinking that we were screwed! The boys are used to me/grandpa letting them run loose at playgrounds and sandpits for like hours at an end. A 5 min walk, not even run or crawl, was not going to sit well with either.

True enough, they started to throw tantrums, screaming “NAK SHOOOEEEEEE!!!! “(want shoe) on loop. I’m sure the whole freaking estate heard them.

They continued to cry and scream, refusing to let me go. I was absolutely losing it, utterly embarassed in front of the chinese speaking other mum, who gave no visual signals of encouragement to me, but was focusing on her child who was behaving perfectly. ERK!

I sent a text SOS to my hubby. Who came down. And, I dunno if it was cos he was there, that the 2 calmed down, and the rest of the day went on a bit better.

Sigh..day 2 tomorrow, and hubby isn’t going to be around.

Wish me luck!