Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning the technique of teaching Quran to babies and children

Today I went to the workshop on how to teach Quran to babies and children. You can find the information from here. If u have not heard about Darwish & Darwisya, u can read their stories from the mom's blog or from her facebook page.

There are loads of information and sharing from her on how she teach her 2 kids to memorize the Quran. I have been reading her blog for quite some time, and was so excited to go to the workshop this morning. It was from 9am-2pm, and the time just flies. At the end of the workshop, she brought in the 2 kids to recite some surahs. Darwish recited Al-Buruj and Darwisya (who despite the minor accident and her face still wet with her tears) recited the whole As-Sajadah so fluently. I was so speechless, bordering to teary....isk isk isk...hahaha...but seriously they are uber cute and gorgeous and listening to them reciting the surah with their kiddos' accent make them super gorgeous and adorable. It's just too overwhelming for me "the emo" mommy.

Anyway, the mommy, Pn Mazlina Karim is a very low profile woman. If u read her blog, u will notice u will never see her photos. What is so inspiring to me is when you meet her as a person. And u get to know her and her background. She is a working mother, with no religious background (as in no formal Islamic education). Her kids are not genius. At least not any genius than your kids or my kids. They start talking and walking relatively late. Which means they are just like normal kids.  And she is very open with their upbringing, in the sense that her kids have friends from different races. And they go to "western" kindergarten. Montessori, Vital Years, Early Learning Centre.Which is also why I admire her so much, coz I think we share similar thinking. Well, at least, some lahhhh :)

You don't have to send your kids to a formal religious school to make them a religious person. Sometimes, it may backfire too. To nurture them in an open environment will probably be better for them to learn how to be good Muslim in "real" life. And for parents not to take for granted that they have the biggest role in educating their children. I totally disagree with people who think religious school is a quick fix. If your kids are not performing well academically, or is having discipline problem, send them to a religious school for them to get fixed. Hmmm...don't u think that is so naive??

Religion is your way of life. And our life will be so imbalanced if everybody decides to just focus on the spiritual part. It becomes so textbook. The world will stop revolving if everybody becomes a religious scholar. You can be a religious scholar AND a professional. Everybody has the responsibility to contribute to the world and make this place a better place. And if u have the Quran in your heart, it will guide u to the right path. In moments of uncertainty, in moments of despair. Coz we the parents, can't protect our kids all the time.

At 4+yo, Darwisya already memorized Juz Amma and a few of the major surahs including Yasin, Ar-Rahman & As-Sajadah. Darwish who is 3+yo, which is about Medina's age (actually he's younger by few months), has memorized more than half of Juz Amma. Before he celebrates his 4th birthday he will probably completed the whole Juz Amma too. All the mother does is 1 hour of Quran every night with the 2 kids, 5 days a week. And mind u, that 1 hour is never a solid 1 hour. She shared a video of one of her Quran sessions with the kids where Darwisya was reciting the Quran, and Darwish was somersaulting at the background. It was quite hilarious, but it just shows how despite all that, with the right knowledge and technique it still can be done.

What is amazing about this woman is she is a true manifestation of everybody can do this. Every kids can memorize the Quran. IF the parents want it to happen. Especially the mothers. Mothers can make so much difference. That's why William Ross Wallace said it's the hand that rock the cradle that rule the world, NOT the father's ;)

I will not divulge so much on her lectures. If u r interested, go to the blog and read. If u want to know more, please join her workshop.  But seriously, I honestly feel what makes her so successful is her consistency in nurturing her kids. The only thing that set her apart from the rest of us is her mission and vision for the kids. And her persistence to pursue the vision and make the Quran a big part of their life.

I have wrote before how I have always felt guilty of slacking in putting more efforts on balancing the kid's education. Spiritually and academically. You can read my previous rambling here. Though it's probably relatively late, I am just grateful that Luqman and Hajar oblige to go to the tahfiz class. I am a strong believer that it will never be too late with your kids. And I hope that Emily will progress with her reading and memorizing this year, good enough to qualify her to join Luqman and Hajar next year. The speed might not be as fast as a young kid anymore, but whatever that they can achieve is good enough for me. As for Ms Maddie, I guess it's about time to start it formally. Come on Medina (and ummi), u can do ittttt!!!! ;)

Last night I finally found this video that I have been looking for agessss. The classic case of a cluttered mind. Found something interesting and never bookmark it properly. And then start looking high and low for it.

There is a bunch of people in Bayinnah Institute who is doing really great job in educating people around the world. May God bless them. I like this video because it teaches the way to pronounce the Arabic letters in a very fun way. Pronounciation is very important to start reading Quran correctly.

So let's hope my spirits keep soaring and this is not a "hangat2 tahi ayam" kinda of thing....M.U.S.T stop giving excuse and procrastinating woman!!

Let's do our best to nurture our kids to become a tahfiz professional who can rock the world. InsyaAllah ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr O

For someone that proclaimed he is not a cake person, there is very little option left for me on what to cook for a birthday celebration. Maybe it's the truth. Maybe he is just being plain difficult with me. As always. Anyway, since today is his birthday, I shouldn't be complaining. So I made a humongous pavlova.

Meringue sandwiched with icecream, whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries and almond. You can just assume it's a chocolate pavlova. The truth is it's a burnt my eagerness to get the meringue cooked so I can go out and do my raya shopping, I increased the oven temperature "a tad too much". Anyway, the burnt pavlova taste as awesome as the normal in  denial here, but seriously, it's pretty nice ;)

I have come to a conclusion that by the time men reach their 40's they will start having mid life crisis. Men need something to focus and keep them busy. In their 20's it's establishing themselves in their career. By mid 30's most men are quite established financially. Hence some men will start getting itchy and edgy for new challenges. These challenges come in many fling, new girlfriend, new wife, new hobby etc etc etc. The only way for men to stay sober during this phase is to upgrade their knowledge and increase their faith. That will keep them busy. So, that's the plan ladies.

So happy 38th birthday to my intensely private, intensely awkward husband. May Allah bless u and show u the right path. We love u loadssss, flaws and all ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blueberry and ginger layer cake.

Tomorrow is my youngest brother's birthday. Since the poor fella is working over the weekend, and he is doing some exhibition nearby my neighbourhood, so I thought of baking something for him today.

I am not an avid baker. The baking part can be therapeutic. But the washing and cleaning up is soooo stressful. But once in a while, in moment of insanity and yo-yoing hormones, I will contradict myself and suddenly find baking therapeutic. So today is one of those days.

I started blog hopping looking for nice cake. Then I stumbled on the blueberry and ginger layer cake by Emma of Poires Au Chocolat. I fall in love with the cake right away. Coz it looks so cute with all the blueberries. I like simple, natural, elegant cake. Sans the artifical colouring. Sans the elaborate frosting and whatever decorations coz my patience threshold is very little. Plus the few nagging sous chefs who are always curiously excitedly tagging along, it is so NOT for me. But I have never imagine a ginger + blueberry cake. The more I think of it, the more interesting and exciting it feels, to the point of orgasmic....hahahahha...ooopppsss...sorry...OK back to the cake.

So this morning, in between laundry and Emily's homework, I went out to buy the ingredients. Went to 3 places to buy the stuffs, with my car on empty tank. Completely forgotten about it until I finished my shopping. I am so lucky that my car didn't get stranded in the middle of the road. Insane. Woman. SIGHHH.

Anyway, the cake turned out quite well. I followed Emma's recipe. The only changes I made is the amount of sugar. Cut down the sugar in the cake, the ginger syrup and the frosting. I didn't have enough blueberries for the side. This is one of those days where I wish I live somewhere where berries are fresh and cheap and grow in my backyard. It is so unbelievably expensive here. But at least I have enough for the top. And since blueberries is such a precious commodity, I didn't do the compote. Just used the readymade blueberry filling from the bakery to layer the cake. So tadaaaaa ;)

 I am pretty happy with how it turns out.
The ginger taste is too subtle for me. Maybe I will infuse the ginger longer next time.
 The satisfied customer, whose birthday is not today. 
Nevertheless, she's more excited than the birthday dude ;)

My youngest brother is dyslexic. Diagnosed by me. After I discovered Emily is dyslexic. He has all the hallmark symptoms of dyslexia. But of course, when he was growing up we never knew it was dyslexia. We thought he is just a slow learner. But he is a perfect example how a dyslexic can still survive with the current education system. At least to the outsiders.

To the outsiders, he is normal. Did well in his exams, went to a boarding school, got a degree, got a job. The normal cycle. Perfectly successful by the generic standard. I would say he adjusted himself and beat the system. At the price of very low self esteem. You can still look normal and successful but  feel very stupid and inferior. Struggling with stuffs like reading and arithmetics that are easy peasy for other people can make you feel stupid. And that feeling stays with you forever. And it's worse when you keep it bottling inside you coz nobody arounds u understand the predicament.

But he is lucky. By the time he was ready for college, dad has mellowed down so much. During my time, it is unthinkable for my dad to let us do "fancy schmancy" course like art & design. It has to be something "reputable" like medicine or law or engineering. My brother got a scholarship to do a design course in Lim Kok Wing University. And dad relented reluctantly. It was during his university years he discovered his talent in art & design. And he was quite good, though interestingly he need people to tell him that. I think that's what happened to many dyslexics. They don't realize how good they are because that stupid feeling that they have acquired during their growing up years is so overwhelming.
My brother in his element. Doing what he loves best. 
Us in 2008. We were the 1st runner up for Piala Sri Endon Batik Competition (Soft Furnishing) 2008. I did the thinking part, he did the design part. The win really boosts his self confidence tremendously. And of course his resume.

I always find it amusing one of the most common comments when people found out Emily is dyslexic is "Aren't Tom Cruise and Einstein dyslexic too?? So she should be OK right?? Maybe she's a genius too??" Yeahhh, right. Pfffftttt...!!!! :(

What people don't realize is dyslexia is very common. It affect up to 20% of the population. So for every Tom Cruise or Einstein that excel despite their learning differences, there are many2 more who drop out of school and end up on the street. Not even knowing why they screwed up.

One of the book that I read and reread to keep things in perspective is The Gift of Dyslexia by Ron Davis.

This is an excerpt from the first chapter:

Usually when people hear the word dyslexia they think only of reading, writing, spelling, and math problems a child is having in school. Some associate it only with word and letter reversals, some only with slow learners. Almost everyone considers it some form of a learning disability, but the learning disability is only one face of dyslexia. Once as a guest on a television show, I was asked about the "positive" side of dyslexia. As part of my answer, I listed a dozen or so famous dyslexics. The hostess of the show then commented, "Isn't it amazing that all those people could be geniuses IN SPITE of having dyslexia." She missed the point. Their genius didn't occur in spite of their dyslexia, but BECAUSE of it! 

And having dyslexia won't make every dyslexic a genius. But I am hoping and praying really hard that if you intervene early and nurture them well (at least the best u can do) they will be one. After all, everybody is born a genius, in their own unique way right? At least that's what Einstein says ;)

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."--Albert Einstein.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Doing your part for charity

A friend of mine, Suzana and her group of friends called Let's Put a Smile on their Faces is seeking donation to help the less fortunate kids. This time, they are organizing "Sponsor an Iftar" programme for the Rohingya Orphanage of Darul Aitam in Selayang, Kuala Lumpur.

I had the priviledge to join her team last year. It was really an eye opener, for me and the kids. Firstly, the state of the orphanage which now housed 40 orphans really humbled me.
 The shower place
 The sleeping place
My knowledge regarding these refugees is very limited. What I know, they are allowed to enter Malaysia as refugees under the UNHCR. But there is no programme planned for them. They can't go to government school due to their refugee status. And they can't go back to Myanmar as most of them are orphans. So honestly, they are stuck here. Most of the times, they survive on charity. In the case of these boys, this young Ustaz, Ustaz Arif (who's a Rohingyan refugee himself) and his Malaysian wife voluntarily take care of them.
 Ustaz Arif.

For those who are capable of memorizing, Ustaz Arif will teach them the Quran. For those who can't memorize the Quran, they will be taught the hadith and the kitab. His wife taught the kids other subjects like Malay language.
Last year Suzana and her team managed to collect a total of RM 10, 510 which was really good. From that amount, they used more than 50% of it on shopping (kids' raya goods and also for the home). The rest was for their duit raya (angpau), and they gave an amount of cash to the caretaker for the kids' necessity. The caretaker has to carefully organize their budget for the whole year, as most of the money come from the month of Ramadhan. 

So we are hoping that this year will be a good one for the boys too. This is how Sponsor An Iftar work. There are 2 choices for the sponsors.

1) to sponsor the minimum amount per day which is RM250 for iftar and sahur
2) the sponsor themselves decide on the amount to give (no $$$$ is too little ;))

You can transfer the money to:
Suzana Sulaiman MAYBANK account number 114187306758
Please email her at: to notify her once u have transferred the money.

The deadline for donation is by end of July i.e before Ramadhan start. The plan is either to give the cash directly to the orphanage or look for a caterer and get them to deliver the sponsored food.

Whatever ways, it sure will put a smile on the boys' face. Seeing the smile on their innocent faces sure will melt your heart. InsyaAllah.

Let's do our part and kindly spread the words. It's the least we can do. Thanks people. May God bless us all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This is a long rant

Disclaimer; This is a rant. A LOONGG one. I just need to get it off my chest. If you disagree, it's fine. Don't take it personally. You don't have to read this.

The hottest topic on the news for the last few weeks has been BERSIH 2.0. The supposedly peaceful rally requesting for fair election. Sounds fair enough to me. Who would not want fair election right? So why the brouhahaha?? Why it gets so many people edgy? and emo? and start talking rubbish?

What annoys me most is how the whole issue is being handled. Blown out of proportion. As always. I hate it when they started hyping up the issue out of proportion, fanning racist sentiment, the talk about communism and Malay rights which of course gets the Malays really nervous and edgy on their special rights being taken away. And they did their best to potray the whole thing as violence. You get arrested wearing yellow shirt. How ridiculous is that??? And of course the avalanche of information from god knows where whose source of information was never verified...but they still went the email that have been circulating about the whole thing was funded by Jews and US, so as fellow Muslim we shouldn't fall into this trap...or since Datuk Ambiga handled the murtad case before, we shouldn't support whatever she does...nevermind the fact that it is totally 2 different doesn't matter coz we are fellow Muslims that are being threatened right now....everybody seems to have hidden agenda against us.

Oh God.....have mercy on ridiculous can this be? Why can't we learn to agree to disagree? You and me can have totally different opinion on the same matter, and still be civilised to each other. Isn't that respect? 54 years after we get our freedom, 9 more years before 2020... we still have this kind of mentality? This insecure mentality that we are being victimised in our own country??? Why so paranoid??

I noticed that one of the most effective ways to blow anything out of proportion is to poke the race and religion issue. Even if there's very little truth in it. Malays especially, get very edgy when the issues of the special rights crop up. I have benefited so much from the NEP. So by right I should be grateful. And I am. But I have wonder for many2 years, whether that special right is doing more harm than good to my race. And to my nation. After so many years of having the priviledge, why is Malay still behind in economy? What does it take to bring us infront? So is it a question of resources OR mentality?

I'll give you example.

In the 80's and 90's,it's pretty easy for a Malay to get a scholarship to study oversea. If u get a decent result (not necessarily super duper excellent), and u choose the right course and the right program, u will get it. Government spend billions to sponsor students to oversea. And the recipients of the scholarship are the indigineous people, mainly Malays. Me included. So when I was studying in Aussie, there were few Chinese students from Malaysia doing the same course with me. Privately sponsored by their parents. I always assumed they are filthy rich. But when u get to know them, u will be surprised some of them aren't. The parents have to mortgage their house and their land to fund their study. And one Sarawakian friend of mine told me that her parents recorded every single dollar and cent that she spent, coz eventually she has to pay them back.

Ironically, these students always end up being the top achievers. Maybe bcoz they are smart. Maybe bcoz they work harder than other people. Sometimes I wonder how they can study endlessly like robot. While at the same time, some of my Malay friends were struggling to complete their study, and some went home without graduating. For many reasons. Personal reasons. Valid reasons. And I know they are not alone. There are many students who came back without graduating. Most of the time they crumbled under pressure. Away from home. But I just can't help wondering, whether the story will be different if u were sponsored by your own hard earned money. Every single cents. Will you be more resilient in handling pressure?

I used to work in pharmaceutical MNC and did quite a lot of interviews to recruit medical sales representatives. Out of 20,30 applications there will probably be 1 or 2 Malay applicants. And sadly most of them didn't do well in the interview. The rest will mostly be Chinese.What strike me most is Chinese candidates are usually bolder. Not necessarily better. Their English is not necessarily good. Especially if they go to Chinese school. But MNC doesn't intimidate them. They know the job pays them well. That's their main driver. It's the willingness to learn and work hard that makes the difference. I have hired a guy who only have a diploma and can't even differentiate a GP and a specialist. That's how much he knows about health care industry when he first started. But he worked so hard, and improved by leaps and bounds. And it gives me pride to have the opportunity to be his boss and his mentor.

Many of my Malay friends told me they would rather work in the government than a MNC. Not because they love the job, but it's just easier. Less intimidating. So what will it takes to make Malay bolder? And more resilient? More special rights?? Or a knock on the head to change the mentality?? Could it be bcoz at the back of our mind, we know that we had things easier than some other people?

I am not pro-Chinese or anti-Malay. I have friends from all races. I have great respect for them. It makes me sick to the stomach when people gives racist remarks. Especially if it comes from educated people. It is such a shame if we live in a multi racial country and yet choose to just stick to our race. Thinking the other will always try to outdo you, or sabotage you. It's important for my kids to respect other races too. And you can only respect if you get to know them.

Some people prefer to stay out of politics. I am not a fan either. But I don't think u can run from it. Coz it affects my life. And my family. And my kid's future. And the way things are going right now do make me worry. Yes, we should be grateful for what we have. There's less beggars here compared to Cambodia or Myanmmar. There are developments, internet, healthcare etc etc etc. But seriously there is a clear difference between being grateful and complacent. If the country is going to progress, should u be comparing yourself with Cambodia OR Australia???

Many things worry how education in Malaysia looks more like a priviledge than a right.

I have to fork out quite a bit of money just to put my kids in a private school with a more conducive environment for learning. Because the government school in my neighbourhood is just too crowded. Hence not supportive to my dyslexic child. In fact, it's not that supportive to my other kids too. No offence to the teachers, who are overloaded with zillions of other things to do. The set up is just not right. I am not sure how many more oversea trips Mr Minister need to make to figure out a better education system. It perplexed me why can't a government school adopt the same approach the private school is using? Why can't they offer the same syllabus? If school is from 8am-4pm, won't it be easier for the working parents? And wouldn't school be more fun if u can learn other stuffs too to explore your strengths? Does it have to be profitable for the government to consider it???

A cousin who is a doctor for factory workers in Klang Valley told me about SPM school leavers who came to do medical check up with her. Some of them scored 7As and 8As and they were considering to be factory workers. Bcoz even if they got offered a place in local universities, their parents couldn't afford to pay the few thousand dollars that they need to spend to get started. Can u comprehend that??

And at the same time, a friend of mine who just got her Australian PR was telling me about her son who was doing pharmacy in Perth. The only thing that she has to pay is the annual tuition fees, which is very2 affordable BTW. The monthly AUD900+ youth allowance given by the Australian government is more than sufficient to support her son every month. How can their government afford to do that? And we can't??

Well the grass always look greener on the other side. But it does make me worry. So as much as I hate all this vicious politics, the least I can do is do my part to ensure we can have honest politicians. Of course no politicians is perfect. But if I have to choose between somebody who travel with Air Asia, or lives in the same wooden house for 20,30 years eversince he is in power with somebody whose wife has Birkin of every colour, I would probably have more confidence in the former than the latter.

So if a peaceful rally can make that happen, so be it. Stop scaring the people with nonsense tactics and insult our intelligence.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Would you like to earn a passive income?

Somebody asked me the question today. 

Would u like to earn a passive income that will allow u to have more money, bigger house, fancier cars, better education for your children, frequent oversea holidays...etc etc etc. And my answer to her was "It depends". It depends on what I need to do to get that passive income. More money would be nice...BUT if it means that I have to compromise my current lifestyle, then it's a NO ;p

I count my blessing everyday for having the luxury to skip the traffic jam. For being able to do my shopping on weekdays. For having the flexibility of time and yet still earn a decent income. For having time to listen to my kids babbling about whatever they feel like telling me. For having everyone home for dinner and Maghrib prayer. For having Mr O around most of the times. No outstation. For being able to cook for my family. For having me, my kids, and my family as my top worries, not some report or some business proposal or some deadlines. For having the time to nurture (or probably it's tortures most of the time...hahahaha) my kids to their fullest potential (even if it drives me nuts most of the time). So if it means I have to trade even some of these for "passive income", then I would rather keep things the way it is. Coz I'm pretty happy with how my life is right now. And I strongly believe it's not a coincidence. It's a choice I made.

I have reached a point in my life where I am comfortable with myself. It doesn't really bother me how people define me, or judge me. And I don't feel pressured to follow the crowd, to be accepted. Maybe it's age factor, maybe it's too much Oprah ;)

But her question lingered in my mind. I started asking myself, what is really a passive income? Something that continue to give you money when you are not working? But then, how long will we live in this world? So should we devote all our life for that? What if we die today? Or tomorrow? Does it matter anymore? At what expense? 

What about the passive income for the life here after? 
I remember the Hadith - Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said  "THREE things continue to benefit a (believing) person even after death - charity which he had given (which continues to benefit others), beneficial knowledge which he had left behind (i.e. authored or taught), and supplication on his behalf by a righteous child. (Muslim).
Children are so precious that it's so easy to love them too much. To get carried away in providing the physical and material needs...branded clothes, good school, top university etc etc etc...and neglect the spiritual needs. The substance that makes them a righteous person.

This doesn't only applies to Muslim. To me that's how I interpret Maslow's definition of self actualization, the highest hierarchy of human needs. To stay motivated in life, you need to have a reason bigger than yourself. Charity. Knowledge. Righteous child. It might not necessarily be legacy. BTW, Bill Gates think legacy is stupid ;) But he did say seeing what he did ended up empowering people is a very cool thing. Which to me means the same thing. I guess it's about giving and making a difference in this world in whatever ways u r capable of. Be it as a doctor, or engineer, or lawyer, or cook, or game designer, or artist, or just a mom. It doesn't really matter.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to sound holy here. And I don't have loads of cash to spare either. And of course fancy schmancy stuffs do make me drool...a nice year end skiing holiday will be does a Tod's G bag...or a new SUV...that will sure make me happy. But not getting them will not make me unhappy either. Will I sacrifice my time babbling with Ms Maddie and scratching my head tutoring Emily to earn more money?? Maybe not...

And ironically, I can't get this song out of my head today.
Well Bruno, not everybody wants to be a billionaire, and sit next to Oprah & the queen ;)