Stitching Up A Newsletter

Assalamu’alaikum all,

How is it already February MashaAllah!

As last year was pretty unstructured for me (because I mainly followed my lil explorer’s very unpredictable schedule), one of my goals this year is to have more structure insyaAllah. Toddlers, you never know how they will feel! One time they are happy, the next they are suddenly screaming and shouting. And then dah penat all become cranky and then play some more even tho dah ngantuk all, and then like eons later finally go to sleep.

But in no way am I complaining coz it’s been the most rewarding journey thus far Alhamdulillah (you know sometimes we just need to ranttt). This year will mark my second year in motherhood (how is it that my little newborn is almost 2??!) and I’m still learning along the way.

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Speaking of growth in my previous post, and following my creative pursuit on Mekar Maker, I’ve decided to, gasp, start a newsletter for my mommies! Well, to be honest it’s not just meant for mommies je lah, but I’ll be sharing more of my motherhood journey, what I’ve learnt and the likes. I’ll also be sharing about what I’m up to with my embroidery projects (not that I have a lot right now) and what I did (and am doing) to keep myself sane as a SAHM hahaha. Plus I thought I’d do something more productive and presentable with my writings lah kan insyaAllah. In this blog I try to write well but always like tunggang langgang like that coz it’s more informal gitu the ambience.

I love blogging here too, but I guess I want to reach out through a different platform, through email, and be more intentional in my writings. To be honest I *never* thought I’d be having a newsletter of my own because the idea of appearing in someone’s inbox personally like that initially scared me off (I’m pretty shy actually and an introvert through and through, but I do like making connections and one-to-one conversations and talking to a small group of people too), but Aida from The Shawl Label does it so well (if you haven’t subscribed to her Tuesday Love Letters please do! It’s super awesome I tell you). And I really love what they do (they even have a podcast for ladies). So I *somehow* got inspired to start my own newsletter for my super awesome ladies, sisters in humanity, especially moms who love having some side projects of your own… but if you’re not a mommy (or not a mommy yet), and you’re okay with reading this kind of stuff heh (which hopefully does not bore you), I fully welcome you to join! 🙂

P.S: When you click the subscribe link above you’ll be directed to a page where you can subscribe to our newsletter which insyaAllah I aim to send every Thursday. (I do plan to have a proper website but it’s currently under construction).

P.P.S: For now I’ll be leaving this blog as it is and update as and when (not that I update here often but you know, bila bila feeling feeling nak blog gitu).

Love, Mardhiah

A 2016 of Growth and Learning

Assalamu’alaikum all, happy new year everyone! Just thought I would like to share a little wrap-up of my 2016 here since it’s been a while since my last update. I hope all of you are well and smiling and welcoming 2017 with a fresh and rejuvenated spirit, just like me.

2016 marks my second year of motherhood. I welcomed my baby boy in May 2015 and entered the beginning of 2016 with a 7-month old. In 2016, we celebrated his 1st birthday by going on a short trip to Malacca as a little family of three. Alhamdulillah he’s currently 19-month now as we speak, literally.

Babywearing kept me busy in the first half of 2016. I fell in love with the art of wrapping and practiced babywearing the lil bub a lot with a variety of wraps and eventually decided to get a woven wrap from Carering Sling. So much so that I got the opportunity to be involved in a babywearing photoshoot with Jars of Fluff. It was pretty cool and I got to try the Serenity jacquard woven wrap by Soul Slings in size 3. In the photoshoot I did a Poppins carry, one of my favourite carries (because Poppins is just so pretty!) but also one out of only two shorty carries that I know of.

You need a village to raise a child indeed. Alhamdulillah for the mommy friends that Allah has blessed me with in 2016, whom I met personally through Ummi fitness dates and also, online through FB groups. Hehe my mummy village also happens to be online too most of the time. #socialmediamummyvillage

Being your own person. In March I started a dedicated art platform called Mekar Maker (@mekarmaker in Instagram) to showcase my embroidery works and other creative pursuits. 2016 also saw me spending more time pursuing creative interests, which greatly helped me in my motherhood journey. Honestly I do experience some mommy guilt doing this, but I realised it was important as I got the chance to just be my own person amidst being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend which in turn helped me be a more confident and happy mommy. Alhamdulillah this venture led me to meet like-minded creative individuals whom I admire for their principles and creative work.

So those are my highlights of 2016 Alhamdulillah. Among these highlights there were definitely some lows which were pretty rough and so painful. But, important lessons indeed which is so essential to keep the heart in remembering Him and purify our occupied, distracted hearts MashaAllah. In 2017 I hope to continue serving Him with all that He has blessed me with in my many roles, and I hope to do it well insyaAllah. May this new year bring plenty of opportunities, happiness, joy, sustenance in many forms and most importantly contentment and gratefulness. InsyaAllah ameen.

-M.

On Making Choices as a Mother

The thing about motherhood is that every decision you make has a trade-off and you have to choose your priorities. The sooner you can accept that, the less stressed and frustrated you will be and more accepting of your current life. The sooner you will find peace despite the voices in your head and despite what is happening around you.

The most important thing is to strive to be an empowered mother regardless of the choices we make because ultimately every mom wants the best for her kids and every family has a different “formula” (there is no formula though), what works for you may not work for others and vice versa. You just have to do what makes you feel right and what works best for all of you. And God knows how much our children will benefit more from empowered and happy moms instead of stressed out and insecure ones.

If we look at the Muslimah mummies in Islamic history, all of them had a different story of their own. Like Khadijah r.a. was a businesswoman, and Fatimah r.a. was a homemaker. But both were special in the eyes of Allah s.w.t. and Rasulullah s.a.w loved them both so so much. Allah blessed Aisyah r.a. with knowledge and Maryam raised Isa a.s. on her own. Rabiatul Adawiyah never married and Zainab r.a. went through a separation before being married to the Prophet s.a.w. Hajar found Zamzam while running between two mountains in searching for food for her baby SubhanAllah. 

Their challenges were different from each other and Allah purposely made it that way so there is something for everyone. Likewise, our children are unique individuals and so are we. We always read up about children being different from each other but hey, no two moms are alike too! My own mother and mother-in-law couldn’t be any more different MashaAllah, with their quirks and personalities – but they manage to raise us to the best of their capabilities Alhamdulillah.  

So whenever we catch ourselves comparing with other moms (as we usually do, let’s face it), we should insyaAllah try and be conscious of our thoughts – as most of the time they are whispers from the syaitan, who always wants you to feel bad about yourself. #goodvibesonly 

Allah said that “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative…” (excerpt of surah Fatir, verse 18).

So see? It’s totally okay that you have chosen this and not that or that happened and not this (like what you have planned). At the end of the day, only Allah’s redha is necessary, not anyone else’s. He knows Best.

Coffee and Scone.

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 A “light breakfast” and a cranberry orange scone along with a flat white at And All Things Delicious.

I have always loved a good coffee and a well-made scone. But for a new mom like me, with an increasingly active 8-month old and a little family to take care of, to enjoy a good coffee and scone  – alone – while at my favourite cafe is seriously the best thing ever. Or at least, one of the best ways to recharge and have some much needed me time.

A fulfilling breakfast of roasted pumpkin on toasted multi-grain bread, with perfectly boiled eggs served with cherry tomatoes and arugula helps lift up the mood (and tummy) too!

I love the cosy vibe of this cafe that also makes me feel like I’m out of the country. My little escapade.

Korban; sebuah puisi

Setiap pagi minggu
Ku korbankan tenaga dan waktu
Ke madrasah mengejar ilmu
Menimba ilmu tentang Yang Satu

Namun hanya Dia yang tahu
Betapa hati ini sukar dan sayu
Meninggalkan si kecilku
Untuk sepeninggalan waktu

Wajahnya sentiasa di mindaku
Hati ini penuh rindu
Tapi harus ku cekalkan kalbu
Kerana korban itu perlu

Untuk aku menjadi seorang guru
Yang terbaik untuk anakku
Kerana al ummu madrasatu
Dan sekolah ini bermula dariku

Wahai anak, inilah korban ibumu
Wahai diri, inilah jihadmu

Dikarang di Madrasah Aljunied, 6 September 2015

Nota penulis: Sempena hari raya haji yang bakal tiba. Di bulan Zulhijjah yang penuh barakah. Setiap seseorang mempunyai pengorbanan mereka tersendiri, dan inilah salah satu pengorbananku. Seorang pelajar yang sedang menuntut ilmu, juga sebagai ibu baru. Bukan mudah untuk ditempuhi, tetapi inilah dia sebahagian dari perjalanan keimananku…

A New Journey Begins

It has been some time since I wrote anything here. I miss this space.

Just 2 days ago Singapore turned 50. The Golden Jubilee year. While it seems pretty young for a country, we’ve come a pretty long way from just being a small trading port in the past. We’re still a tiny little red dot in the world map, but this tiny little country is where I call home. It is where I was born and raised, met my husband, got married, and recently gave birth to an adorable little baby boy two months ago, Alhamdulillah.

The past two months have been a journey of sorts while we navigate through a lot of first times, but our hearts have never been so full. Of love. Of faith. Of mercy and compassion. Towards this gift and amanah presented to us, and towards each other as we slowly embrace our new roles as parents.

And so a new journey begins. One that I’ve never been on and each step will be a first. The exhilarating journey of motherhood and parenthood.

May Allah guide me and my husband throughout this process, and may He make us the best of parents for our little one. InsyaAllah, ameen.

parenting
Best job ever.

Of Endings and Beginnings

Recently, a dearest friend of mine lost her mother. She passed away peacefully in her sleep during the wee hours of the morning.

It was one day before the wedding day of another dearest friend of mine as she embarks on her new journey as a wife.

I was reflecting on how we go through endings and beginnings every single day on earth and shared this short poem in my facebook page:

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim.

Today a dearest friend’s mother passed away.
Tomorrow, another dearest friend is getting married.

One will begin life without a mother,
While the other will begin life with a husband.

Two new beginnings,
Two totally different circumstances.

The ending of a soul in earth,
And the ending of singlehood.

Life in dunya, filled with beginnings and endings.
An ending brings a beginning of something.
With a beginning, there is an end.
And our ultimate end – is back to Him.

“Therefore glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things, and to Him you shall be brought back.” – Yaseen, 83

It’s true isn’t it? One day our life in this world is going to end and we will move on to the world that we came from, to a world that is eternal.

Speaking about beginnings, currently I am going through a new beginning (MashaAllah, who knew a career switch would be really t-o-u-g-h). Another thing about beginnings is the importance of breaking out of your comfort zone and have the guts to learn new things. For my newly wedded friend, she has to adapt to having a new person in her life 24/7 and her new responsibilities as a wife. For my friend who has lost her mum, she will have to learn to slowly deal with her own emotions of grief – as well as her father’s.

May Allah bring us through our different personal challenges and may these tests that He has presented us with, only aim to bring us closer to Allah s.w.t. InsyaAllah ameen.

Kiwimoon: Food and Solat – For the Muslim Traveler

Assalamu’alaikum lovelies!

I am finally blogging about this as I have mentioned in my last post on my Kiwimoon series.

Food

We mostly prepared our own food to save cost so that we didn’t have to spend it on eating out all the time. But there were occasions when we did buy food from the available halal restaurant available, Turkish Kebabs. Before we left for our trip we researched on the nearest supermarket along our lodge so that we would know where to go to get any groceries.

Hence on our first day upon our arrival, after collecting our car we went to the supermarket at Queenstown central “Fresh Choice” to shop for groceries before checking-in. Bread, eggs, instant noodles, mayonnaise, canned tuna, cheese slices, tea, mineral water, dried mixed fruits pack for snacking and also box of tissues… Buat macam rumah sendiri lah kan with all these groceries hehe. This is because we were mostly staying in lodge or apartment kind of accommodation instead of hotel kind, where there is a kitchenette available so we could prepare our own meals.

Mainly we made simple egg and tuna sandwiches, half and full boiled eggs, and mee goreng instant for our meals accompanied with a warm cup of tea and/or coffee.

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Halal restaurant in Queenstown

Out of the three places that we went, Queenstown, Tekapo and Wanaka, only in Queenstown did we find a halal restaurant. We initially found it online through this blog before we went but we didn’t know if it was still there. Alhamdulillah, we were glad to discover that Turkish Kebabs was still around and it was still located along Queenstown Mall. There were some changes to the building but overall still the same.

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We dined here on our second day for lunch after riding the Skyline Gondola, and then on our third day we bought some for a takeaway breakfast before leaving for our drive to Lake Tekapo. Then on our final night at Queenstown we came here again for our last dinner for the trip (sob sob). A plate of kebab set costs around 11 – 15 NZD each but it was worth it as the servings were huge.

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Other than that, and outside of Queenstown, we chose to prepare simple breakfast, lunch and dinner meals ourselves. As worth it as the servings were, it was still cheaper to eat-in and we chose to save whenever we can so that we can stick to our budget and spend on activities and souvenirs. Plus we can’t possibly eat kebabs every day right? Hehe… For our trip to Milford Sound, we prepared cheese sandwiches and brought it along for the ride. But we did indulge in cuppa coffees throughout… Sejuk sejuk sedap minum kopi mmdaappp…

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Our priority was to go to New Zealand no matter what so we knew the limited choices we would have there hence didn’t mind spending lesser on food (I guess for some people they would want to stay in nice hotels, eat good hotel food for their honeymoon etc)… If you are not was-was you can also choose to dine in non-halal restaurants and have the seafood and/or vegetarian choices but for us we chose to stick to halal ones and DIY meals for the reasons I have mentioned. To each is their own preferences.

Solat

One of the beautiful things about Islam is the ease in prayer that Allah has provided for us when we travel. We can shorten the fard prayers (qasar) and pray two solat times together (jamak). Allah has presented us with blessings to travel to another part of His lands, so we must remember Him and give thanks in the way that He has ordained us to do right? So don’t leave our fardhu prayers when we travel overseas 🙂

Before we went we checked out the prayer time in Queenstown for the duration of our trip there. As our flight from SG to Melbourne was at 7.55pm, we prayed our Maghrib in the plane, sitting down. When we reached Queenstown then we started praying jamak and qasar. Alhamdulillah due to the more than 90km distance between the towns that we went, and that we didn’t stay in each town for more than 3 days, we were able to jamak and qasar throughout our 7 days there. During our transit while waiting for our flight back to SG, we did our final prayers as musafir at a corner spot in the airport lounge (lucky thing it wasn’t that crowded).

So that was basically how we got around for our food and performing our five daily prayers in NZ as fellow Muslim travelers. As I’m typing this, I am in reminiscing mode and I can’t wait to go there again… I don’t know when that will be but who knows, one day InsyaAllah… 🙂

Epilogue: As a concluding note, I will clarify that we DIY our honeymoon aka mini road trip instead of following any tour companies. This means that we had control over most of the things, from our itineraries, food, transport and accommodation. The only thing is you do have to do a lot of research, do very thorough planning and drive your own car (except for the day trip to Milford Sound, my husband drove so we kept our distances short). But I am pleased with how everything turned out Alhamdulillah and we would not have had it any other way.

Since it’s a honeymoon, we managed to have our own privacy (instead of traveling with other people in a tour), make the trip free and easy instead of having to stick to fixed schedules, and the most important thing is it increased our appreciation, love, and complete trust and tawakkal for Allah s.w.t. who kept us safe throughout Alhamdulillah. I would say it’s also a good test on your marriage and relationship hehe… with just you and your spouse planning the whole thing, with Allah by our side always.

To read the rest of the entries on Kiwimoon, click here.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri from The Hakims & First Syawal as Husband and Wife.

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Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim brothers and sisters! 🙂

(You can also say “Eid Mubarak” which means “Have a blessed Eid to all of you.”)

This year is the first time I am spending Hari Raya with my husband, so it is kind of a big deal. Ok, not kind of. A really really big deal. Hehe. So this year we decided to go green! Why green? Well there is a story behind this actually.

My sister-in-law bought this lace green fabric for my mother-in-law to wear for our wedding. My MIL then made a mini kurung out of it so she only used half of the fabric and had a balance of 2 metres. So not wanting to waste it, she gave it to me some time before Ramadhan. Since I had not bought any fabric or outfit for Raya, I thought, why not make this part of my outfit and go green this Raya. So I asked my husband and family to also wear green for the first day of Raya, because that’s what I tend to do as the eldest. Be the boss of my family. Haha. Actually there’s another reason why I thought of wearing green, because the last time we wore green together was a long time ago… I mean look at this:

An oldie but a goodie photo of us in 1996, I think. My mum sewed for me and my sister our baju kurung that time. This year, I sewed for them their baju raya. #fullcircle

The last time we wore green was when we still had my father with us, and my sister was still that small! So how long ago was that lah kan. Now forward to 2014, a group photo of us this Syawal with my grandma:

the mahmoods
Selamat Hari Raya from The Mahmoods.

We took this photo at night because I only managed to go to my grandma’s house in the evening because… I spent the first half with my husband’s family, my in-laws:

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With hubby’s parents, brothers, sister-in-law, cousin and grandma.

Previously when I was still single ehem ehem, I would go to my grandma’s house with my family somewhere in the afternoon after visiting elders from my mum’s side with my cousins. But of course, there are some changes this year. Because not only do I have my own dad and mum’s side to visit, I also have my husband’s dad and mum’s side to incorporate into the raya visiting schedules. MashaAllah! The challenge is to balance all four sides as fairly as possible.

masjid alkaff view
Colorful view of people walking to the mosque on the morning of 1st Syawal.

The day started with solat hari raya or Eid prayers at the mosque with my husband and my mum. After that, I got ready to siap-siap to go to the first house of the day, my husband’s grandma’s house. Hubby’s brother and my SIL usually spent the first day of Syawal visiting hubby’s grandma and then proceed to SIL’s side, so we decided to tag along before they left for visiting SIL’s side.

Left: Hubby’s grandma, Nenek Nima. Right: My grandma, Nenek Rahmah,

What is raya without visiting our grandparents and elderly family members right? Hubby is left with grandparents from his mum’s side and for me is my dearest one and only grandma from my dad’s side. Let’s treasure our grandparents while we still can… May Allah bless their years with tranquility, mercy and love… InsyaAllah.

Next up were to two houses – my father-in-law’s eldest siblings (hubby’s grandparents from his dad’s side have passed on). And finally, to my grandma’s house in the evening until night time when I finally got to meet up with my grandma, aunties, uncles and cousins.

my family
Ohana.

The night before, the night of 1st Syawal was the first time I did not spend (the first half of) malam raya at my own house. Hubby’s family has a gathering every malam raya for kenduri, takbir together and bermaaf-maafan because his father’s side is large and this was one of the times that they get to meet altogether. So off I go to follow the husband. Luckily for me I had my SIL to tag along with amongst my many new family members hehe Alhamdulillah.

It’s been an interesting experience to go visiting with a husband as compared to being single. The past week of raya roundings have been filled with introductions of the hubby to my relatives, neneks and datuks as they have seen him during the wedding, but not on a close-up level. “Nek/Tok Xxx, ini suami saya…” Hehe paisey dan malu semua tolak tepi lah. Coz you can’t just go into the house and leave your other half to introduce himself/herself to your relative, it’s you who must do the job. And my neneks and toks are the sweetest la MashaAllah. They even gave us presents and special duit raya for pengantin baru! Fuhlaamak, touching beb. Alhamdulillah… 🙂

Speaking of touching moments, I want to record down this moment when one of my closest uncles gave me and my siblings duit raya. We were all like, “dah keje, dah kahwin da etc…” and he said,

“Even if I’m 60 and you’re 40, I will still give you duit raya coz you guys will always be my nieces and nephews…”

*inserts tears rolling down emoticon from whatsapp*

SubhanAllah, may Allah bless my uncle with more rezki InsyaAllah.

So that was my first Syawal experience and as a wife so far. We have 3 more weeks to go, and I’m sure it’s gonna be more interesting and colourful as we go along, InsyaAllah. Have a blessed Eid everyone! 😀

Outfit details: Mini kurung top sewn by me. Skirt is part of another baju kurung I already have which I decided to match with this mini kurung (had no time to make the skirt because I was sewing 3 other outfits for my family and closest friend). Satin pashmina shawl from Ameemoo – totally loving the mint green colour. Shoes from Vincci Malaysia bought a couple of years ago.

Precious moments and precious nights

SubhanAllah we’ve already reached the final days of Ramadhan.

These final days and nights are so precious, for Laylatul Qadr could be on one of these nights…

As I’m blogging now I smell a whiff of kuih tart baking in the oven… Mmm…

I haven’t blogged since my previous post and that is by choice. I thought I’d set some goals this Ramadhan after following emails by Productive Muslim and watching Productive Ramadhan videos on being more productive in Ramadhan. For starters, spending less time on social media and internet. I actually deactivated my facebook on the first day of Ramadhan simply because I can be a busybody and get distracted easily everytime I log in to fb hehehe. So deactivating it was actually one of the best things that’s happened, lol. But really. I actually do get a lot more things done Alhamdulillah!

A couple of weeks ago during the beginning of Ramadhan, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an autism school. So I got to see how special education teachers work as well as seeing children and teens with autism in school. It was an eye-opening experience, because it was my first time being inside a school specially for autistic students, hence my first time seeing their many various behaviours and antics. I discovered that there are verbal and non-verbal students. Meaning there are students who can express their words verbally and those that can’t. There are many highlights and moments that I took away from.

One of them was this. At one of the classes I was attached to, there was a Malay Muslim 12-year old boy. I discovered with a pleasant surprise, being told by his teacher, that he was actually fasting. SubhanAllah, my heart suddenly welled with emotions. Children who have not reached puberty and especially people who are not of “complete sound mind” are not required to fast, and here he was, a 12 year old child with autism and he had chosen to fast. I felt touched. Boy’s going to Jannah InsyaAllah. During the class’ snack time, he sat at another corner of the cafeteria so I accompanied him while he colored in his coloring book. I managed to have a short conversation with him (he is a student who is able to verbalise his words) and he asked me when is Hari Raya. I thought, Allah presents these moments for us to learn so much things from, SubhanAllah…

Beautiful moments in Ramadhan, when you’re praying taraweeh and you didn’t bring the sejadah because you just don’t bother to and you don’t mind sujood at the carpets, and suddenly the sister beside you chose to share her beautiful soft and puffy sejadah with you. MashaAllah. Love.

And that is my short post for now, InsyaAllah I will blog more soon! Meanwhile, I wrote a summary on my Ramadhan last year and here it is. (Don’t mind the slightly “sad” tone of the post, because I was going through some trying times mainly wedding planning stress and work stress and whathaveyounot so Ramadhan came as a saviour. But Alhamdulillah this Ramadhan I am feeling a lot happier Alhamdulillah). Smiley face to show that 😀

To my dear BTBs who are spending this Ramadhan as the last time being single, if you’re feeling stressed, hang in there ok sayangs? InsyaAllah all will be worth it when you get to spend the next Ramadhan with your significant other. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. And please do embrace your last single Ramadhan and do as many good deeds as you can as a singleton. Especially the personal time that you have with God, spend as much time to tahajjud with Him when you have more time for yourself now.

May Allah accept all our deeds, grant us Paradise, grant us His forgiveness and safe us from the Hellfire, InsyaAllah.

May Allah make us steadfast in our efforts and make our hearts gentle and peaceful always, InsyaAllah.

May Allah ease the pain of our brothers and sisters around the world who are going through calamities, and may Allah erase all their sins and grant them Paradise, InsyaAllah.

Ameen.