Food review: Kelava!

IMG_0184-1

image source: http://www.kelava.my

If you’re looking for locally-made, vegan ice cream that actually tastes HEAVENLY – look no further than Kelava. Their freshly churned ice-cream is incredibly tasty and full of coconuty (is that a word?) goodness. So. Delicious. Plus, they deliver it straight to your doorstep if you’re in the Klang Valley, which is wonderful for mums with small kids looking for a healthier stress fix. Ahem. Yes.

Here are my ratings of what I’ve tasted so far:

Vanilla – 6/5 (SO DELISH.)

Chocolate – 6/5 (This is the fancy chocolate flavour, not the cheapo ones that leave that bad aftertaste.)

Strawberry – 4/5 (A nice mix of sweet and sour…but I’m not a big strawberry flavour fan to begin with.)

Coconut Latte – 5/5  (Super yum! Not the sweet kind.)

Salted Gula Melaka – 6/5 (Ah, always a hit for me.)

Onde Onde – 6/5 (So. Good. Kind of reminded me of cendol.)

 

 

Creative Rainbow Mama

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-28 at 10.27.21 AM

[Note: I wrote this 2 months ago]

Husna turned 3 months! Alhamdulilah, can’t believe it’s already been 12 weeks. I’m writing this while Taskeen is in the garden and Husna is napping. Let’s see how far I get.

I took this picture a few Wednesdays ago. That was one blissful morning of reading, journalling and sipping on tea – alone. And of course, eating a gigantic meal because breastfeeding hunger is real.

If your’e a creative mama who wonders if she’ll ever write/paint/craft/sculpt again – READ THIS BOOK. I can’t stress that enough. You’ll probably be interrupted and it’ll take you a while to get through it, but it’s so worthwhile.

Thank you, Lucy Pearce, for writing such a wonderful, paradigm-shifting and nourishing book. It made me realise the most commonly known mother archetype, Earth Mother, is not better or worse than the lesser known archetype – Creative Rainbow Mother. I still love to nurture my daughters, bake, cook and so on….I just also really crave and need that quiet time and space to nurture my own creativity. I’m a lot less cranky afterwards.

I remember wondering if I would ever write again, when Taskeen was first born. I did get to journal, and still do, but I guess I was really shocked at how little time I had left over for writing. I’ve realised now the key to writing while in the trenches of newborn life (and now, newborn and toddler life) is flexibility. And lots of self-compassion. Take what you can get! 10 minutes of writing is better than nothing at all. But on those super bad days when it’s meltdown after meltdown…it’s OK to just rest, recover, and prepare of the next day.

Second-time around, with Husna, I’m a lot more accepting of the shocking newborn stage. Surprisingly, the hardest adjustment hasn’t been the sleep deprivation. It’s Taskeen’s very strong feelings about her sister. There are the heart-melting “Awwww!” moments, and there are the “Don’t do that!” moments. My spirited toddler has very, very strong feelings, and every day, I get a lot of opportunities to help her learn how to cope. (This is motherspeak for EVERY DAY FEELS SO LONG AND WHEN WILL IRFAN COME HOME?!) Sigh. Emotional regulation. So important.

Are you also a Creative Rainbow Mama? How do you carve out time to create? Drop me a line. I would love to hear your story.

Selamat Hari Raya!

eyeoftheheart_An-Online-4-Week-Contemplative-Writing-Workshop_June_July+_1_*resurfaces for air*

Belated Selamat Hari Raya, Eid Mubarak, maaf zahir dan batin!

SO. I’m still alive. Thank you to everyone who took the time to congratulate me on the birth of my youngest girl. My newborn is now a 5 month old baby! My toddler will turn three soon and will transform into a preschooler! I have never been so time-starved in my life!

Inhala, exhala.

I’m enrolled in this incredible online poetry course by Baraka Blue – Opening The Eye of The Heart. If you resonate with poetry being a spiritual practice, want to deepen your craft and connect to other like-minded souls…this course is absolutely for you. (FYI I’m not sure if there are any spots left – just give it a shot!)

Working through this incredible course is how I nourish myself, after an entire day of nourishing my daughters. Writing 30 poems in 30 days sounds like a gift beyond measure for me, in this stage of my life. Alas, my daughters will not tell me, “Mama, go ahead and fill your self-care cup by tapping into your love for poetry.” Well, at least not for another TWO DECADES.

So, here’s to me and all mamas who need to carve out time to recharge. I matter. You matter. We matter. Nourished mamas have more to give their little ones. Rinse, repeat.

**I wrote a draft blog post before this, about finally realising that I’m a Creative Rainbow Mother, and not an Earth Mother. But then my life swallowed me up again. Ha. So I’ll get around to publishing that soon. Ish. Soon-ish.

It’s a girl!

Screen-Shot-2016-03-30-at-9.08.49-PM

Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to my second baby girl, Husna Aminah Binti Mohamed Irfan at 12:56 am, Friday, 12th January 2018. She was 40 weeks and 10 days, a solid 3.53 kg, and 52 cm long ❤

For any mamas looking for a gentle birth-supportive hospital, I highly recommend Dr Bheena and her Columbia Asia PJ team of nurses and midwives. Dr Bheena was hands-off and supportive enough to respect my birth plan, trust my birthing instincts, leaving me and my amazing Pak Bidan/birth coach husband, Irfan, to birth my baby.

I really recommend Hafsa Hasan’s wonderful holistic care for any fear release exercises and homeopathic support. After weeks of having my baby’s head being engaged and in position, all it took was one session with Hafsa on Tuesday, and I gave birth to Husna early on Friday morning. Woo! She does Skype consultations for anyone outside KL.

Husna is almost one month old, and I’m trying to nap when I can during the day. I’m so grateful for the support of my mum and mum-in-law – they help keep my 2.5 year old daughter entertained so I can rest.

It’s still early days in this precious and exhausting fourth trimester, and after putting my feet up, getting my painful and healing postnatal massages, heat pack treatment, herbal washes, belly-binding etc I’m starting to feel a lot better.

Which brings me to my next point – HOW DOES ANYONE RECOVER WITHOUT CONFINEMENT CARE???? IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

giphy

My next question – HOW DOES ANYONE HAVE MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

Elmo

Sigh. Work in progress, work in progress. Learning to juggle life with a newborn and a toddler is truly a laboratory of patience-making. I guess the difference this time is that I know the painful stages will end…only to be replaced by something else lolol.  And then my toddler and newborn smile at me and I’m mush again. Haha. I live for them squishy smiles. Ahh smelling my newborn’s head makes all that sleep deprivation worth it.

If you’re pregnant, want to be pregnant, or just are curious about all things related to babies and birth, check out some of my favourite resources:

101 Tips For Having A Natural Childbirth

Spinning Babies

Gentle Beginnings Doula Services

 

My book launch is at KLPAC on Dec 17th, 3 pm!

Please come and join me and the rest of the “Bitter Root, Sweet Fruit” team on Sunday 17th December at KLPAC , 3 pm 🙂

I’m so thrilled to be part of this wonderful collection of short stories. Thank you, D.K. Dutt Award team, Sharon Bakar and Dipika Mukherjee for bringing my words to life!

The night I wrote this piece, my toddler kept waking up throughout the night. This was long before she was nightweaned, and I was in those “Will I ever sleep again? Will I ever write without interruptions?” modes. I was desperate to meet the deadline, to prove to myself that I could and would still write. Despite that, and perhaps because of that desperation, I channeled all that into my writing. I didn’t expect to hear back from them, and to see my story in a book is beyond exciting!

So, if you’re a writerly mama, don’t lose hope. Short stories, at least, are still within reach – in between all the tantrums, diapers, breastfeeding, weaning, and fevers!

 

 

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

So when you have a spirited toddler, it can be challenging to sit down and read. This is why Audible is my friend. Yay for audiobooks, which I can listen to in the car!

I’ve always been a huge fantasy fan. My favourite book when I was 12 was Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce.  Here’s a list of some of my fantasy favourites, in no particular order:

  • Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, MaddAdam
  • Ursula Le Guin – Tales of Earthsea
  • N.K. Jemisin – Stone Sky trilogy
  • J.RR. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Phillip Pullman – His Dark Materials trilogy

The one annoying thing though, is the lack of diversity in all of the fantasy books I know and love. Except for Le Guin’s, of course. So! This is why it’s been wonderful reading more local Malaysian work – plenty of diversity to spice things up.

I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Sorcerer to the Crown. It’s a refreshingly different fantasy story by a talented Malaysian author, Zen Cho. The two main protagonists are people of colour, which is already a big plus. She weaves a hilarious tale of magical hijinks set in England, against a backdrop of racism, sexism, and all the fun things I love to see deconstructed. Lots of witty banter!

It does take some time to build up to the action, so you’ll need to be patient. Totally worth it though, so hang in there and enjoy the story. Here’s more info on the book from Zen Cho’s website.

Next book review – N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series.

 

On motherhood and writing

So….it’s been a while. Much has happened. In short, motherhood is decimating, on so many levels, especially with a spirited toddler.  Please don’t tell me, “Wait til she becomes a teenager!” I will strangle you with my mind.

My pre-motherhood writing practice: Daily, disciplined, at my desk, mug of tea, nature sounds playing in the background.

Current writing practice: WHAT PRACTICE!? WHAT DESK?

Haha. I kid you. I do have a desk. I’m just not there as much as I’d like to be. Right now, I take what I get. Much like a starving person and scraps of food. Motherhood has shown me how much of an introvert I really am, and how much writing helps me surface for much-needed air.

I loved these articles:

  1. Freelancing with a Family: How to Balance Your Work and Your Kids
  2. Yes, It Is Possible to Write a Novel With Small Children Hanging On You
  3. Making Time to Write When You Have Young Children: Mission Impossible?

This post really resonates with me: After Page One: Claiming Space. So beautiful and so real. There is no perfect writing room for me, either – but I make do what with I have.

My daughter spurs my creativity, as much as I need to work around her. I write this as my toddler woke up from sleep. My husband brought her down to have breakfast. She’s in a good mood this morning, so that buys me approximately 10-20 minutes, before she starts calling for me once my husband leaves for work. Go, Raidah, go!

If you’re a writing parent, especially a writing mum, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you find time and energy to write? What helps? What doesn’t help? How do you balance forgiving yourself for not writing as much as you’d like, alongside celebrating your small victories?

Some blog ideas I’m playing with, as I resurrect my blog from the abyss of mothering a toddler:

  • Book review on N.K. Jemisin’s incredible Broken Earth trilogy.
  • Book review on Zen Cho’s Sorcerer To the Crown.
  • Reflections on reading my poetry at my sister’s chapbook launch.
  • I finally submitted my poetry manuscript to the wonderful Ethos Books!

I’m open to suggestions. Leave a comment and share your thoughts 🙂