Truly in the heart there is a void that can not be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness

(Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyy)

O Lord

O Lord,
If tomorrow on Judgment Day
You send me to Hell,
I will tell such a secret
That Hell will race from me
Until it is a thousand years away.

O Lord,
Whatever share of this world
You could give to me,
Give it to Your enemies;
Whatever share of the next world
You want to give to me,
Give it to Your friends.
You are enough for me.

O Lord,
If I worship You
From fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.

O Lord,
If I worship You
From hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You for Yourself alone
Then grace me forever the splendor of Your Face.

(Rabi'ah al-'Adawiyyah)

Abdullah...my name is.

I had been quite busy last week that I didn't have the opportunity to post any entry. Hmm...Wafitos was still reluctant to go to school every morning, crying and mopping, claiming that the 8-4 school session really made him exhausted and bored. Afafita Mi Amor had started to make new friends at school. Among the most repeated names are Aishah and Inta (I guess the girl's name is Intan, knowing that Afafita has this kind of attitude of omitting the last few letters of her friends' name). And I was still the same me..., still searching the right tempo for me, to manage my new career as a homemaker.

There are few positive changes (or I may say it as progress) in my kids since they start schooling here. As for afafita, she can utter few Arabic words that she learnt at school. And among the famous words are "ista'id- istirahan" which mean "sedia- senang diri". I guess she picked this up during the morning assembly at school. And alhamdulillah, now Wafitos knows some basic zikir, and happily humming the zikir every now and then at home. (sometimes during shower too!)

One evening, upon reaching home from school, Chichi eagerly said to me: "Mama, I learnt a new nasyid at school".
"Sing it for me, I would like to listen", I asnwered.

"It's about Prophet Muhammad's children".
After singing that nasyid, Chichi asked me. "Mama, I want to change my name. Please change my name".

"What? Changing name? But why?" I responded to him.

"I love the name 'Abdullah'. It sounds nice, not like my name. I want that name. I want to be called as Abdullah".

"No, you can't change your name. Papa had chosen this name specially for you. Do you know how long it took me to find and choose the best and suitable name for you?" Chichi's father interupted our conversation.

"But why can't I change my name if I don't like mine now?" Chichi argued, as usual, urging for a justification from us.

Actually, I was taken aback by this issue. Hmm.... when I was young, about 13 or 14, I fancied several of my friend's name, which I thought more up-to-date and glamorous. I guess it's normal, especially for teenagers. I must confess that I used to dream of being named with such modern names. Names like Aminah, Khadijah or Fatimah had never been on the list. :) But I never thought my son would love classic names such as Abdullah. Apart of that, I never thought he would ever thought of changing his name at the age of 6. Compared to me, at the age of 6, I just started learning to write and spell my name correctly.

Kids nowadays are more advanced; in a sense that they can think of complex issues and complicated problems, compared to kids twenty years ago. Their brain's capacity are better and advanced too. A 5 years old child can think of who orders or asks the sun to arise every morning, who switch off all the street lights every morning and how does he do it, how to create a robot that can help his mother to finish house chores so that his mother can spend more time with him, why people must use money to buy things, etc. Well, I guess, as our kids become more advanced in thinking and questioning, we too should be prepared and be advanced in giving reasonable answers and justification.

And Chichi....is Chichi, Chichi would never be Abdullah.


Last Friday, as I did the daily routine of mother-son talk on things did and happened in school, wafitos excitedly and proudly told me his first experience as the muadzzin at school during the congregational Zuhur prayer with his friends.

"Mama. today the school prefect appointed me as the muadzzin at school during Zuhur prayer, you know!" He exclaimed.
"Hmm...that's good! That's my smart and clever son!" I exclaimed with proud of course. "But how did he ask you?" I tried to know more of the story.
"Well...when he stood up and asked who wanted to be the muadzin, I brave myself to raise my hand and said to him I wanted to the muadzzin", Wafitos smiled at me.
"Is it so? You're so brave....it's good for you to try out doing positive and good things. Keep up the good work, son!". I encouraged him more.

That's the typical wafitos. Despite his jumping around the house, carelessness, non-focus during lessons that made me yelling at him and chasing him around the house, despite his big appetite-always asking for food around the clock- that drove me crazy and helplessly stuck in the kitchen day and night, he is really a wonderful child with a very high level of self-confidence. He may not be the top student in the class, or the one who attains the most A in the exam, but I know and I really hope that he can go further in his journey towards success if he keep on believing in his ability.

And this positive attitude -never afraid of trying- is actually the rule of thumb of attaining success in life. And this is what I don't have and I don't know how could I possibly learn to try new things, to try doing something that I don't usually do in my life. And I know, I must learn from my own son. Maybe, he could be the best teacher for me to come out from my shell and learn to try new things and subsequently learn form my trials.

Why Reading Matters

Why Reading Matters
- by Barbara Freedman-De Vito

We're always telling children that books and reading are good for them, but have we ever really thought about why that's true ? Exactly what do older children get out of reading novels ? What do younger kids get from being read to ? Does reading matter?

The purpose of this article is to say that, yes, it's true, reading really is important, and that there are some solid reasons why that is so. Let's begin with the practical benefits and then move on to

the less tangible rewards of a life filled with reading.

Books Help Children Develop Vital Language Skills

Reading is an important skill that needs to be developed in children. Not only is it necessary for survival in the world of schools

and (later on) universities, but in adult life as well. The ability to learn about new subjects and find helpful information on anything from health problems and consumer protection to more academic research into science or the arts depends on the ability to read.

Futurologists used to predict the death of the printed word but, ironically, Internet has made reading more and more a part of people's daily lives. The paperless society is a myth. The computer's ability to process and analyze data means that endless variations on reports and other types of documents can be and are generated. Internet, itself an enormous new source of information and recreation, is based on the humble written word. To effectively utilize the web and judge the authenticity and value of what is found there, both reading and critical thinking skills are of prime importance.

The more children read, the better they become at reading. It's as simple as that. The more enjoyable the things they read are, the more they'll stick with them and develop the reading skills that they'll need for full access to information in their adult lives. Reading should be viewed as a pleasurable activity - as a source of entertaining tales and useful and interesting factual information.

The more young children are read to, the greater their interest in mastering reading. Reading out loud exposes children to proper grammar and phrasing. It enhances the development of their spoken language skills, their ability to express themselves verbally.

Reading, by way of books, magazines or websites, exposes kids to new vocabulary. Even when they don't understand every new
word, they absorb something from the context that may deepen their understanding of it the next time the word is encountered. When parents read aloud to children, the children also hear correct pronunciation as they see the words on the page, even if they can't yet read the words on their own.

Reading Can Open Up New Worlds and Enrich Children's Lives

As mentioned above, reading opens doors - doors to factual information about any subject on earth, practical or theoretical. Given the wealth of available resources such as Internet, libraries, schools and bookstores, if children can read well and if they see reading as a source of information, then for the rest of their lives they will have access to all of the accumulated knowledge of mankind, access to all of the great minds and ideas of the past and present. It truly is magic!

Through books, children can also learn about people and places from other parts of the world, improving their understanding of and concern for all of humanity. This, in turn, contributes towards our sense that we truly live in a "global village" and may help us bring about a more peaceful future for everyone. This can happen through nonfiction but, perhaps even more importantly, reading novels that are set in other places and time periods can give children a deeper understanding of others through identification with individual characters and their plights.

Through stories and novels children can vicariously try out new experiences and test new ideas, with no negative consequences in their real lives. They can meet characters who they'll enjoy returning to for comforting and satisfying visits when they reread a cherished book or discover a sequel. Books also give kids the opportunity to flex their critical thinking skills in such areas as problem solving, the concepts of cause and effect, conflict resolution, and acceptance of responsibility for one's actions.

Mysteries allow children to follow clues to their logical conclusions and to try to outguess the author. Even for very young children, a simple story with a repetitive refrain or a simple mystery to solve
gives a confidence boost. Children can predict the patterns and successfully solve the riddles.

Children are influenced by and imitate the world around them. While a steady diet of violent cartoons may have a detrimental effect on children's development, carefully chosen stories and books can have a positive influence on children, sensitizing them to the needs of others. For example, books can encourage children to be more cooperative, to share with others, to be kind to animals, or to respect the natural environment.

Reading Can Enhance Children's Social Skills

Although reading is thought of as the quintessential solitary activity, in certain circumstances reading can be a socializing activity. For example, a parent or grandparent reading a story aloud, whether from a traditional printed book or from an ebook, can be a great opportunity for adult and child to share some quiet, relaxed quality time together away from the rush and stresses of the business of daily living. They share a few minutes of precious time, plus they share the ideas that are contained in the story. In addition, older children can be encouraged to read aloud to younger ones as a means of enhancing their relationship.

At school or at a library story hour, books can bring children together and can be part of a positive shared experience. For some preschoolers this may be their primary opportunity to socialize and to learn how to behave around other children or how to sit quietly for a group activity. Make the most of this experience by encouraging children to talk about what they've read or heard.

Reading Can Improve Hand-Eye Coordination

It may sound funny, but e-books can be a way for children to improve their fine motor skills and their hand-eye coordination, as they click around a child friendly website or click the backward and forward buttons of online story pages.

They may also be picking up valuable computer skills that they'll need in school and later in life.

Reading Can Provide Children With Plenty of Good, Clean Fun

I've saved the most important point for last. Reading can provide children with endless hours of fun and entertainment. All of the pragmatic reasons above aren't at all necessary to justify reading's place in children's lives. Stories can free up imaginations and open up exciting new worlds of fantasy or reality. They allow children to dream and may give them a good start on the road to viewing reading as a lifelong source of pleasure, so read to your young children every day.

Inspire your older children to read. Give them access to plenty of reading material that they'll enjoy and discuss it with them. Sample everything - traditional printed books and e-books on Internet, classic children's novels and fairy tales, as well as more modern stories.

If a child wants to hear the same story over and over again, don't worry about it. Children take comfort from the familiarity and predictability of a beloved story that they know by heart. There's no harm in that. Reread old favorites and, at the same time, introduce your children to new stories. Your child's mind and heart have room for both.

So Reading Really Does matter After All

There are so many ways in which reading continues to be both a vital skill for children to master, and an important source of knowledge and pleasure that can last a lifetime. Nurture it in your children. Make the most of all the resources that are available and waiting for you: printed books, online books, magazines and so forth.

Encourage follow- up activities involving creative writing skills and the arts, as well, so that your children can reflect upon or
expand on what they've absorbed and, at the same time, develop their own creativity. As you help your kids appreciate the magic of reading, you'll find that there's a whole wonderful world full of children's literature out there that YOU can enjoy too.

The big kakak-kakak touch my hair

Searching for a kindy for affita was indeed an arduous task. I've never knew it was going to be time-consuming and mind-boggling task. There are many things that should be taken into consideration in searching and choosing a kindy for my little princess. Besides the location, the most important aspects for me are the curriculum and teachers. Since afafita had had a wonderful and sweet experience during her schooldays in Tadika ELite Ceria in JB last year, my observation is that she has become quite choosy about school and teachers.

Last week, I sent her to a school nearby my house. It's only about 6 minutes from home and on the way to her papa's office. Basically, it's the best place and the most convenient kindy for her (and her papa of course). However, afafita dislikes that school since the very first day I sent her there. "I don't like the big kakak-kakak in the school," she uttered as soon as she reached home. "Why, sayang?" I asked her, trying to investigate the matter. "Because, the big kakak-kakak like my hair, and always touch and play with my hair. I don't like them to touch my hair".

Actually, that very decent and sincere answer made me smile, thinking of how a 4 years old child think and what does really matter in their lives. I also wondered, what a simple life for a 4 years old child! Compared to an adult, a child is so blessed by God with a non-complicated, simple, non-challenging, non-crisis, non-demanding life! It's so lucky to be a child indeed. How I wish I could be a child again........

So, back to afafita's kindy story. On the next day, she refused to go to school. I didn't force her, since I wanted to give her some space to relax and think about this matter thoroughly (what? how could I expect this from a 4 years old child?) At home, we continue with our homeschooling session and lessons. It went quite well. And I started to contact and find new kindergartens to survey, in case that afafita really refuse to go to her school.

But alhamdulillah, this week, she seems to be so excited again about going to school. Most probably she had forgotten about the big kakak-kakak. And yesterday, when I asked her about school, she happily said "the big kakak-kakak never touch my hair again. No more big kakak-kakak". So, the problem is solved simply like that. Hmmm... how I wish I could solve all my problem as simply as afafita.......

Test...test....From the Merciful

I always believe that Allah will test us from time to time, to see whether or not we truly believe in Him and test our patience. I also profoundly believe that before we get something good or "nikmat', we are often tested by Allah in many ways. Maybe, that's what happening to me right now. Moving in to this new house and living together with the complete family members- me, the kids and my husband- is considered one of Allah's Blessings upon us in this year 2008.

However, like we know, no pain, no gain. Maybe, to celebrate and enjoy these happy moments of living together again after three years, we have to endure some tests from Allah. So, in my case, I guess, my bad health condition since last week is considered Allah's test. I haven't recover from my flu since last week. In fact, it becomes worse. Now, not only suffering from sore throat, I also have this intense cough and aches all over my body.

Despite the illness and tiredness, I still try my best to carry out my duties as a homemaker and a mother. Alhamdulillah, thank God for the support from my husband. (he had to sent me to the clinic twice in a week). And as for the kids, I can see that Afafita is very concerned about my health. Whenever she hears me cough or sees me lying on the couch, she will remind me to take some medicines. In fact, I think in just these few weeks, she has turned out to be more matured -I may say she's more matured than her brother- and grown up to be a very considerate child.

Well, like Allah said in the Qur'an: Inna ma'al usri yusra. For every hardship and difficulty, there is a way out. So, alhamdulillah, eventhough life here is quite hectic for me, Allah did fulfill His words and blessed me with a very helpful, sweet, caring 4 years old daughter. Hopefully, I can recover soon and be fully fit again to embark my missions as a student cum homemaker cum manager cum teacher cum nurturer again.

The Conference Day

When the alarm clock (actually The Pretender's 500 miles mp3 which I assigned as my ringtone) rang for the second time, I bounced from my bed. Ya Allah, it's D-Day! Dashing up and down the stairs to prepare the breakfast, hot bath for the kids and pulling them out of the bed, I knew that I really need extra super duper energy for today. Today, my hubby and I would attend the Conference in KL, organized by the University which I newly registered as a postgraduate student three weeks ago. And this is also the first day of Afafita's schooldays in a nearby kindergarten.

Luckily I had made all the essential preparations the night before, something that I rarely do in my life. So, I had laid the kids uniform, ironed my clothes and tudung (the special clothes which are worn only during special occasions like attending seminars, conference, dinners,etc) and prepared afafita's backpack for her daycare. All these are done since I realize, I'm not a ma'am anymore, no more bibik (helper) and none of my sisters (atan, ibon or dilah) are here to help me.

The Conference was really worthy to attend. Besides new information and knowledge, I also made new friends and most importantly I had the chance to meet kak AA, my bestfriend and colleague in my office.

It was quiet a hectic day, considering that I've caught flu two days ago and still not fully recover. But I guess hubby is more tired, he have just returned home minutes ago (the time is 12.52 am) after entertaining his friends, the speakers of the conference.


Alhamdulillah, wafitos have started schooling in an Islamic school nearby our house. In fact, it it is within a walking distance. (not for Malaysians, cos' Malaysians hate walking I may say) The advantage of going to a nearby school is that my hubby could send wafitos as late as five minutes before the schoool bell rings at 8 a.m. The school starts at 8 a.m and ends at 4 pm. It is really an arduous day for my little chichi. But I don't have any other choice but to send him to that school since I'm not able to send him to and fro the public Malaysian school and the evening session of 'sekolah agama'. I think that will be more tiring and time consuming.

By the way, chichi's school is an integrated Islamic school. It means that he will learn all the usual subjects taught in public school plus several religious subjects such as 'mengaji' (reading the Qur'an), Islamic education, etc. On top of that, the school emphasizes on instilling Islamic values and nurturing the kids in an Islamic-based environment. Nevertheless, the only limitation is its poos English language usage during teaching and learning. Well, there's no sucb perfect school anyway!

Afafita is still homeschooling with mama, and right now is crying for my attention beside me. I think it's hard for me to homechool her since I need to start doing my home-based research and focusing on my own study. She always begging me to play with her and her make-believe-sister named aisyah, but the worst part is, she's turning to become my shadow in this house, following me all the time. So, the best solution is, I have to find a suitable school for her a.s.a.p. If I hadn't, either I would end up be a 5 year old girl or she would turn up to be a lonesome little girl!

Singlish? Malaylish?

Julia Gabriel was in town recently to conduct a seminar for the Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning. So this article (which is taken from mumcentre website) is on her expound vivaciously talk on the importance of teaching your children what she calls “Standard English”.

What exactly is Standard English? According to Julia, it is :

- An international world language.

- The official language of the entire English speaking world.

- The language of educated English-speaking people in formal situations.

- Not localized to a particular area or country.

Standard English is not the preserve of Caucasians. Many of us do use it already, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that most of us tend to default to Manglish or Singlish or another local derivative of the language.

As Julia says, that’s not necessarily a problem. But it is important for your children’s future success that they are able to switch to Standard English when the need arises.

Major differences between Manglish and Standard English

  1. Confused tenses

Manglish – Yesterday he come my house.

SE – He came to my house yesterday.

  1. Redundancies

Manglish – I eat the cake already.

SE – I ate the cake.

  1. Question tag

Manglish – You cook chicken, can or not?

SE - Can you cook chicken?

  1. Omissions

Manglish – I still working

SE – I’m still working.

  1. Wrong pronunciation

We don’t enunciate clearly and dispense with end consonants totally. For example disc may end up as dis, facts as fax and upsize as upsai. In Standard English, the stress on syllables is important to convey the meaning of words. Manglish speakers tend to mangle the stress. For example, we are wont to say ker-LIG instead of KO-lig for colleague. Instead of logging on to the online dictionaries to learn proper pronunciation, use this general rule as a guide.

Stress the first syllable of nouns (things), adjectives and adverbs (descriptive words) and the second syllable of verbs (action words). In these sentences, the same words are pronounced differently.

  1. I signed the CONtract. (noun)
  2. In the jungle, he might conTRACT a disease. (verb)
  3. What is the CONtent of the book? (noun)
  4. I am happy with my life, so I am conTENT. (verb)

Cannot speak Manglish meh?

Die-lah if we cannot speak Manglish in our own country. Of course we can use Manglish in Malaysia just as Julia said that “Singlish is acceptable in Singapore as it is a healthy, linguistically organic and appropriate code of language if used ONLY informally, amongst Singaporeans, in Singapore.”

Though it is alright for children to use Manglish informally and at play, they should switch to Standard English at school. (You may be thinking : Our school teachers command of English is suspect, how can the children learn Standard English lah? Read on.)

Don’t correct our children’s English or they will zip up. Constant correction destroys confidence. Just accept it and model it back to them and they will follow suit.

For example if they say :

“At what o’clock we must go to cinema ah?”

We say :

“When do we have to go to the cinema? At one o’clock.”

Don’t ask them to repeat the sentence; it’s not natural.

The key time for children to explore language is from 0 to 3 years of age. Babies learn sounds before they are born. In a study, it was found that three-week old Russian babies suck more strongly when they hear Russian, the same with French babies when they hear French.

Now don’t slap your forehead in despair if your children aren’t toddlers anymore. They can pick up Standard English with the right environment.

Code Switching

Children are born linguists. They slip easily into the appropriate codes of English if they have been exposed to them early in life, before the age of six. This is called code switching.

How to children get to know two codes of English? By engaging and interacting with people who use Standard English, they master the patterns of sound and construction. Manglish is a simplified code, learned easily as the language of play and informality.

In a multi-cultural society like ours, we need two codes of English. It is okay to speak to our husbands in Manglish in front of the children but keep it for informal bonding, joking and playing. It is better to use Standard English when discussing current affairs or talking about books that requires a higher code of language. Let the children see us code switch naturally.

How do children learn Standard English?

Language is caught not taught.

1. Children learn Standard English language most easily from birth to 6 years of age by engaging with Standard English speakers.

2. The language that children use is copied from those with whom they interact, like friends and teachers who chat and play with them.

3. Exchanging, interacting and engaging with language is more important than instruction in developing linguistic ability.

4. Children don’t learn Standard English from formal instruction, they ‘catch’ it in environments where they play and enjoy themselves.

5. Children learn grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation through using and fully engaging with language (playing, talking, conversation, interacting with stories and poems, drama.)

How can parents support children in acquiring Standard English?

1. Make time to play, talk, listen and read books in Standard English.

2. Eliminate Manglish as much as possible.

3. Fill the home with books, newspapers and periodicals. Discuss what we read with the children.

4. Visit the library regularly. Talk about the books we read.

5. Reduce television watching – talk more.

6. Watch or listen to BBC World or World Service.

Julia made the case for promoting Standard English as children cannot afford to be limited by speaking a minority dialect of English. Standard English is critical to education and success.

Parents who speak only bloken Ingris but want their children to master Standard English shouldn’t fret. Just as Julia advocates :

Put your children in an interactive Standard English environment with a Standard English speaking teacher as often as possible.

( Well...well...my two kids are also conversing the Malaylish with lah, can you or not, etc. I hope I could help them improve their standard English soon).