Dear Daughters,

At the moment I began writing this letter, I can't help smiling. One is singing at half past midnight and the other is fast asleep since 9pm - as always. Khayla and Khadeeja. Like night and day. The same pod actually produced different peas, who would've guessed?

I've been late again at this letter. I'm supposed to write it on the day you both turned a month older - but come to think of it, how could I say - 'Khadeeja flipped over at the age of 3 months' when you just turned 3 months, right? So please bear with the delay, sweeties. Besides, it's more fun watching both of you grow up before my very own eyes!

Dear Khadeeja,

Happy 3 months, precious child! What can I say, I've never seen anyone so generous with her smiles, so eager to reach out and tug at people's heartstring! Remember the visit to your pediatrician where you were busy being super friendly towards all the nurses including to the doctor? And then you amazed me when you didn't even cry when the doctor gave you a jab because you were too occupied with flashing the biggest grin to the doctor. No doubt both you and your sister were equally adorable at this age but when it comes to the title Social Baby With The Most Smiles, you win this hands down.

Smiling even after the 3rd month immunisation jab

Basically that's the biggest description about you, munchkin. But that's not all. You are also pretty independent. I can leave you in the cot after a round of feeding and you will fall asleep on your own. No comfort nursing, pacifier and cuddling required when you are really sleepy. All you do is just suck your own thumb and close your eyes.

Adorable sleepyhead...

Talking about thumb-sucking, this month you discovered the joy of having a pair of thumbs. It was an accidental discovery, you were rubbing your eyes and somehow your fingers ended up in your mouth. But then you learnt to just put your thumb in your mouth and the next thing we know is you making such a noise slobbering over your own thumb!

Engrossed with enjoying your thumb

Of course this made me feel really upset - I have bought almost all kind of pacifiers for you but you merely spat them out and then continued sucking your thumb. Sometimes in the midst of breastfeeding your thumb also got in the way because you love your thumb so much!

My little chocolate sundae,

I should've guessed that this month you will start shoving things into your mouth when you started salivating almost all the time. You grab anything that you can wrap your fingers around - toys, blanket, plastic bag, my shirt, your sister's hair. I hope it wasn't intentional though, because it upset your sister to no ends whenever you managed to pull her hair. And I also hope it is not the beginning of hair pulling fights between sisters either!

Once you managed to grab the thing, you find it a must to experiment the taste. Does that rattle taste like Mommy's milk? Does this blanket taste yummy? So off everything goes into your mouth!

My toy is yummy!

Khadeeja my adorable baby girl,

Unlike your sister, you showed a keen interest in books at this age. When it is reading time, your eyes lit up in deep interest at the sharp contract of colours and patterns in the baby book. You would lean forward to bat at the book pages. I hope that this interest in books will be a lasting one, and you will grow up to be like Mommy - a bookworm!

While busy with being a happy-go-lucky baby who loves thumbs, books and falling asleep, you did not neglect other developmental milestones - like chuckling! Hey, you chuckled, you little babe! When Daddy lifted you up and brought you down, you made gasping sounds that turned into chuckles, and you almost suffocate me from too much cuteness! And not to forget, you can flip over from back to belly, and sometimes the other way around. Yeay!

And now to my darling Khayla.

Dear Khayla,

This month you learnt a few words in two different languages (Malay/English) that basically means the same thing. It is 'Finish' that means the same as 'Habis', and 'Monyet' which is 'Monkey' in English. You also tend to ask things and then translating it, like, 'What's that?' followed by, 'Apa tu?' You enjoy altercating between two languages, showing that your vocabulary prowess is getting a lot better. The only thing that you still don't grasp is that 'Mommy' is exclusively another word for 'Emak', and thus you happily call everyone Mommy. Makyeng = Mommy. Usu Farah = Mommy. Wa Liza = Mommy. Even Bapak is called Mommy sometimes!

The adorable but exasperating thing about 2-year-olds are how they understand things but deliberately get it all wrong. For example, you are aware that 'Finish' is pronounced 'Finish', but you still say, 'Nimish!' You know that I want you to  pick up your toys which you leave all over the house, but you simply stare at me and then walk off pretending that you don't understand a word. You also know that certain things are wrong, like scribbling on the sofa with crayon or spilling milk on it, but you still do it!

Therefore, I am beginning to introduce you something called 'discipline'. When you do something naughty (which both you and I know is something wrong), I will put you in a corner for a time out so that you can think about (not) doing it again.

Time out corner
Another thing we have to talk about sweetheart, is the term 'sharing'. You get upset when Khadeeja gets hold of a toy even though it's hers, and want to take it away. Each and every time. When are you going to realise that you are now an older sister, and older sister shares toys with little sister? When you managed to prise the toy from her fingers, you would walk away and hide the toy. Although it amuses me, I know that this behaviour needs to go. Bapak can't afford to buy two of everything! So you have no choice sayang, but to learn to play together with your sister ok?

My bubbly little parrot,

One of the amazing thing about being this age is how powerful is your observation skills. You like to repeat our actions - be it using fork and spoon while eating, or shush-ing Khadeeja, or flushing the toilet. A few weeks back, I caught you opening my purse and taking out a few notes from it. You then walked over to the fridge and began to push those notes, one by one, between the fridge doors. I laughed then, because I didn't know that you were observing me buying drinks from the vending machine, and now you thought you can only get drinks from the fridge if you inserted money in it!

I'm buying drinks from the fridge, Mak!
Another time, you grabbed Daddy's car keys on the table and then tried to insert it in your ride-on car because you observed Daddy when he started the car engine. See how your brains are making connections between real car and ride-on car, or between vending machine and fridge?

My beautiful angel,

Once upon a time, I used to worry about your development. As a baby, you disliked books (the moment we settled down with a book for reading session when you were a baby, you would yawn and then doze off, nor did you show any interest in books whatsoever), you were lagging behind with flipping over, crawling and walking, and you made no attempts to be friends with any of the kids at your previous daycare.

But now, you are nuts over books (be it for looking at pictures in it, or for scribbling!), you are ahead of others your age when it comes to motor skills (jumping, drinking from a cup, running) and last week, your teacher told me that when you reached school, you greeted a friend and that cheered him up. You are turning out to be a bright, active and cheerful little toddler - the source of my joy and pride!

My little cupcakes and sugar candies,

Whenever I think about how in some countries, people value boys over girls, I couldn't help thinking that they must be nuts. Because little girls like you are made of sugar, spice and everything nice, which is why I keep referring both of you as my comfort food for thought!

To the two most beautiful little girls in the world,

You both rock my world in the way no one else can.


With lots of love and kisses,
Mak

Hi peeps!

Today I'm gonna talk about cloth diaper experience. Ever since my friend introduced me to cloth diapers, I have been a huge fan of it for numerous reasons. One, because I love the environment. Do you know how much landfills are made up of dirty diapers? Can you imagine inheriting those landfills to your kids? I can't. I want them to have a clean, good environment to live in when they grow up. Two, because in the long run it saves us a lot of money. Three, because it's available in various cute colours *coughcoughpurple* Four, the modern cloth diaper is designed in practical manner and can be used from newborn to toddler age. Last but not least, it's so easy to use and to clean - gone are the days when cloth diapers need to be hand-washed separately to remove the soils and urine.

Basically, switching to cloth diaper is not tedious at all and therefore, suits my busy lifestyle.

Khadeeja wearing cloth diaper by Lunatots brand
Ever since I was pregnant with Khadeeja, I've made up my mind to use cloth diapers on her on daily basis. The disposable diapers are only reserved for long outings (which I intend to change soon and try using cloth diaper exclusively).

I chose Lunatots cloth diaper (CD) because I love their practical design that enables the CD to grow with the baby - their adjustable buttons are the trick. Isn't that clever? Secondly, most diapers are designed to have inner inserts. Lunatots Premium CD have outer inserts that are easily removed for cleaning and only need to be clipped onto the outer layer for use. Read more on my reviews of their CD here and here.

Starting the cloth diaper is neither hard nor expensive, once you have decided to be an environmental- and price-conscious mom. These are some of the initial reservations and how I handled it:

1. Cloth diapers are expensive! Disposables are cheaper in the short-run. Do I really save a lot if I switched to cloth diapers?

For moms who find the initial investment quite intimidating (the premium cloth diaper's price sets you back by RM69.90 per set), do not lose heart. It may look intimidating now, but the savings that you make in the long run especially when you start early is worth it. For example, after I decided to use CD exclusively, we never found the need to re-stock Khadeeja's disposable diaper since a month ago. That saves us RM75/month. If she used CD till she's fully potty-trained at the age of 36 months old, we would save roughly RM1302.

Some people will say, 'Oh, it's not that much savings! Only RM1302 for 3 years. What's the big deal?' If we put that RM75 to her savings every month, she would have more than that amount since she'll earn dividends and whatnots, don't you agree? Furthermore, if you have two kids using diapers, you can save around RM2k with the same initial investment. Double the savings, parents!

2. But I don't earn that much! How can I buy enough diapers for daily use?

I thought of the same too. But since I found out about my pregnancy, I started to purchase the diapers in small quantity every month. I bought at least one diaper per month, and towards the end of my pregnancy, I had collected 20 CDs of the same brand (including those I bought for Khayla before I knew I was pregnant again). The CDs are used by my firstborn before Khadeeja's arrival, and now that Khayla is most of the time diaper-free, Khadeeja uses the diapers daily :)

3. Does it leak? I doubt it will last as long as a disposable. I might have to change it sooner than a disposable.

Mothers, what are thinking? Do you wear the same sanitary pad all day during your menses? No, right? Why practise differently when it comes to your baby? Disposables might not leak because they have chemical gels to lock the urine, but as it absorbs more urine, the gel will soon get in contact with the baby's bottom and baby ends up with diaper rash. Diapers need to be changed on regular basis whether it's "full" or not anyway.

By the way, so far I change the CD every 3-4 hours for 3-month old Khadeeja (unless she poops, of course). That is roughly the same duration of using a disposable. And since the outer layer is water-proof, the CD doesn't leak. Therefore in a day, Khadeeja wears 5 CDs (at night, I put extra layer for her comfort).

Besides saving me a lot of disposables, it also means less garbage for us to bring down to the garbage bin, especially since we are living in an apartment!

4. Five CDs in a day? So in 4 days, she'll run out of clean CD and that means more laundry, right? How troublesome.

When you are the type that sends dirty clothes to a nearby laundry instead of doing your own laundry, yes. When you don't have a washing machine and instead, hand-wash your clothes, yes. For the first type, having a kid is not advisable. For the second type, get a washing machine! What's wrong with you?? Let the machine do the job while you bond with your kids.

For me, every time I change the diapers, I will put the soiled CD in a pail. When the pail is full, I dump everything in the washing machine, fill it up with water and detergent, let the diapers soak for an hour or two before starting the washing mode. If Khadeeja poops in it, I just remove the poo in the toilet bowl, give it a bit of a rub to remove the excess soil, and soak the insert in detergent and just a little bit of bleach overnight before adding that to the washing machine. Remember, I'm mom to 2 kids, and I've done this since I was working and studying, while looking after a young toddler and pregnant at the same time! What's your excuse?

At the same time, I do advise you to wash the CDs once the clean ones are down to a day's need so that there's ample time for the CDs to dry and you will have more clean stock to last you for the next few days :)

All in all, considering the huge benefits of using a cloth diaper, it was a decision that I don't regret. Of course nothing is ever perfect - for example after a while the outer layer velcro tapes tend to wear out and don't stick as good as before. This is because I don't use the mesh bag when laundering the CDs. Lunatots also have another option of buttons instead of velcro tapes. Furthermore, I'm informed that they can help you to change the velcro tapes at a fee if you bring the CDs to their shop. You can even change it yourself.

I hope more and more mothers will make the decision to use cloth diapers because saving the environment is not a job for only one mom. I've done my part, so please do your part as well, won't you?

Help me grow up in a clean environment, people...
Happy Saturday peeps!

I've been wanting to document the story of Khayla's potty training because in no time at all, I'll be potty-training Khadeeja for all I know! Seriously, these kids grow up too fast. One minute Khadeeja is just a wrinkled, day-old baby and now she's rolling on the mattress and turning herself from back to front! Sob, sob… I wish I could freeze time and spend more time with their baby selves, you Moms out there know what I mean right?

Ok. So back to potty-training journey.

Before I gave birth to Khadeeja, we found out that Khayla's awesome nursery is closing shop and suddenly, we are back to square one - taska shopping! I tell you, this is one task that I hate to do because it involves major transition and nerve-wrecking, trust/relationship-building all over again. What if Khayla can't fit in? What if she cries every day? What if the new place is not as good as the old ones? Eh, eh, why am I writing about taska-shopping pulak?

Anyway, soon we found the best school in Sri Gombak to send our 2-year old daughter. The moment I stepped into the school, I just love the environment, the syllabus, the friendly kids of which some attended Khayla's previous nursery so she won't be too lonely after losing her one and only best friend.

The only problem is - okay there are two problems. One, she was not 2 and a half years old yet. She just turned two. The school only admits 2 1/2 year old kids to 6 years old for some developmental milestones reasons and because their concept is not a nursery but a kindergarten. Two, because she wasn't potty-trained yet.

We are back on the potty-training story. Yeay!

It was then I decided that she should start to be potty-trained so that she could try out at the school because developmental wise, I'm confident my Khayla is quite an independent spirit. She just needs to lose the diaper and she's as good as any 2 1/2 year old kids. Hehe.

The moment I got back from my maternity leave in Bintulu, we straightaway got down to the potty-training task.

WARNING: 'Accidents' WILL happen during this process. My friend warned me to put away carpet and put water-proof layer on my sofa which I didn't heed (and later regretted). Always ensure mop is available and plenty of rags to wipe up the pool of urine! Occasionally, you might also need kitchen towel to pick up faeces. So make sure you put your kid on a regular diet and NOT introduce something that might IRRITATE his/her tummy during this process!

TIPS: When can you start potty-training? Studies show that starting too young is not really beneficial (except it saves you on diapers, probably?) because kids will learn to control their bladder / bowel movement around 18months or as early as 15 months old. Therefore, even though you start training them at few months old, they will only master the skill at around 18months old and maybe even later. Another suggestion is to start potty-training once the baby/toddler could communicate to you of her/his need to go to the toilet.

Step #1: Buy a training pant


I purchased this Bambinomio training pants

The purpose of wearing training pant is to avoid accidents but at the same time the waterproof layer makes the toddler feel wetness on her bum area. Bambinomio has these pants in various cute colours :) For more info, go to Bambinomio.com to check out the details.

For the first few days, Khayla looked puzzled and kept stopping to feel the pants because it must have been weird that it isn't as heavy as wearing a diaper! LOL! I still put this on her as her underwear at home because sometimes she gets engrossed in her play and only realises she needs to go to the toilet when it's too late :p

Step #2: Buy a potty chair

I thought of potty-training Khayla ever since she turned one so I bought a potty seat, you know the one that you just put over the toilet seat so that kids will not fall into the toilet while using it. But then I fell pregnant with Khadeeja and just didn't have the energy to potty-train a toddler with my constantly sick condition.

Potty seat similar to the one that I first purchased last year

Why I bought this? First of all, it's less than RM10. And the practical me thought - let's skip the whole potty chair thing-y and get her used to using the real toilet because I don't have to clean up the potty after she does her business. Ladies & gentlemen, that is one dumb thought. Most toddlers find it terrifying to sit on a toilet for the first time because they feel like they will fall into the toilet bowl. My Khayla is no exception.

So I bought a potty chair that resembles the toilet for her to use. She thought it was great fun lifting up the lid, sitting on it and then pretending to flush it for the first few days.

Kids' potty chair

Oh yeah? How did she figure out the whole steps? Through observations, of course. There's no such thing as privacy when you become a parent!

Step #3: Scheduled toilet visits

This is the second most tiring part after wiping and mopping urine off the floor. Basically every 30 minutes I had to call her and bring her to sit on the potty chair whether she really wants to go or not. I will stand by the door making 'sheee-ing' sounds while she gave bewildered stare at me. This lasted between 10-15 minutes and then she was free to step out. The next minute I knew, she made this sound, 'Ahhh… Shee-shee…' and I have a pool of urine to clean up!

T_T

Step #4: Free, free as a bird!

With cloth diaper and training pants are not producing any exciting behaviour modification just yet, so I decided to heed a few people's advice of letting her loose without any diapers. Just shorts, or even in just her t-shirt sometimes. The first few days were nightmares - I was screaming non-stop whenever she had her 'accidents' on the carpet / sofa / bed / floor. Especially on the carpet! I know it's not her fault for not telling because she's still not used to it, but I couldn't help ranting at her for making me wipe the carpet / floor / change sheets / etc.!  This continued on for the next 3 days.

By the 4th day, she was kind enough to let me know by saying, 'Ahhh… Shee-shee!' while she had her 'accidents'. So I ranted at her again ('Why must you tell me AFTER you have done it???') for the next 2-3 days.

By the 2nd week, somehow it got through her mind that she must tell me before she went, so she said, 'Shee-shee?' and off we sprinted to the toilet together, me cheering her on and giving praises for her thoughtfulness!

Talk about positive and negative reinforcement!

Step #5: Let her be involved in the process

Since Khayla loves to imitate my actions and loves feeling like a grown-up, so I let her empty her potty after she has had a go, then flush the toilet. This is the part that she loves doing the most and thankfully, she has gone through the transition from diaper to potty within just 2 weeks without much fuss (and lots of exercise for me of course).

In fact, she became so used to being clean and dry all day that she even refused to wet her diaper pant when we go out, but instead will make a noise that will escalate to frantic noises if she has to go to the toilet! Sometimes at night, she also wakes us up to go to the loo. It was kind of amusing at first, but now we look back in nostalgia at those times when we had a good night sleep!

Khayla also became confident enough to use the toilet itself whenever she has to do No. 2, much to my relief. She learnt to rest her feet on the potty chair lid so having the potty chair was a blessing indeed.

So there it is. Khayla's potty-training journey. I hope that Khadeeja's journey will be as smooth and turbulent-free as this one!

Dear Khayla & Khadeeja,

I'm sorry that this has been very much overdue darling daughters. I am not sure what is wrong with Blogspot because I've typed a lot of words lovingly to depict the progress made by both of you and I've no idea where did all those words gone to! Grr… Perhaps I should switch to Wordpress now, eh? EH?

Ok, sabar… I'll give Blogspot another chance this time.

This month both of you turned a month older. A month is just another month for grown-ups like Mak and Bapak, but for both of you, it means one of you can sing Twinkle-twinkle Little Star in a more coherent manner, and the other has outgrown a lot of those cute little one-sies.



Khadeeja my chubby-licious baby,

I'm just so madly, deeply and irrevocably in love with you, sayang! For a two-month old baby, you are quite advanced in terms of social development. Perhaps because my pregnancy hormones this time were less raging and I was not such a dragon when I was pregger with you? I don't know, but I'm so enjoying you right now. Why you ask?

First. There's your chubby cheeks, just asking to be kissed and smooched all the time. Then those chunky arms and legs, making me feel so 'geram' and always asking to be picked up. Your eyes, always lit up with joy whenever you see me approaching. And the highlight of my day, your beautiful smile that you bestowed so generously on anyone who greets and coos with you.



Those lovely coos. Have I not mentioned those cooing sounds you started making this month? You are one very friendly baby, sweetheart. When I bathe you, when I pick you up and when I cuddle with you, you are full of coos. Sometimes we ended up engaged in deep conversations where I asked you questions about your day and you answer me earnestly in coos. I know that your day has been so damned great when you coo so much to me.

'Let's coo, Mak...'
My diamond and precious jewel,

Whenever we go out, I can't help feeling extremely proud when people pass remarks of how cute you are. The most notable remark is probably your shockingly thick hair which you inherit not from me. Hehehe. As I fondly told others, if I did not witness you coming out of my tummy with those abundant hair, I would not believe that I have given birth to such a beautiful baby either.



Dear Khayla,

Last month was the first time you were away from me. Since I had to stay in KL until I had my urut session, you went back with Makyeng alone and I was racked with worry and pangs of missing my firstborn daughter. On the first day, I called Makyeng and pestered her with a lot of questions like, 'Did she cry? Did she ask for me? Did she ask for her Bapak?' But mom assured me that you are not at all thinking of us, but are delighted to find a house full of cats and hey, your tricycle from last August! Over the past few days after that, your grandmother had been keeping me updated with your new explorations and discoveries, and various outings in the Kancil that you tremendously enjoyed.

This month you started going to kindergarten after three months of staying at home. I was worried that you would not be able to adapt yourself back to school life. The first day was rather an anxious moment for me, and as we left you at the very posh kindergarten (of course, nothing but the best for you) you were bewildered and started to cry. But those cries were not for long. When I picked you up from school, you were all smiles. The next day, you looked forward to going to school again because they had so many toys I guess? LOL. Teachers told me that you have been wonderful and even better than other newcomers. Not only you did not cry, you also can drink from a cup unassisted and joined in with class activities. Did you hear that? You, the youngest of them all, top them by not crying on your first week at school!



I'm beyond proud - I feel like shouting on the rooftop that I have the best babies in the world!

There. That's what being two years old is all about. Boundless of energy, and SINGING. My goodness, there was never a moment when you did not sing. You sing and hum all the time, and you memorise all your favourite nursery tunes namely TTLS (Twinkle-twinkle Little Star), OMHAF (Old McDonald Has A Farm, IBS (Itsy-Bitsy Spider), and even throw in an occasional Row, Row, Row Your Boat and the rain song (Rain, Rain, Go Away).



In addition to singing, you have started to show strong interest in scribbling. Give you a crayon and a colouring book, and you are one happy toddler. So happy that you also scribbled my very expensive cabinet surface! *pengsan*


My sweet pumpkin,

So many things that you have achieved this month - you are like this super-absorbent sponge soaking up new words, new actions, new songs and everything in very short time. One of your most delightful new skill is going from diaper-wearing to using the potty. It took me 2 weeks to put you on the potty and waiting for you to do your business while you made puzzled expressions at me making 'shee'-ing sounds, pulling out my hair giving you earfuls when you forgot to tell that you need to go to the toilet, mopping the floor and wiping the carpet endlessly train you to use the potty and when you finally did it and learnt to tell us when you need to go, I felt that the achievement was way beyond winning the Royal Award and Deans' List award. 

Khayla & Khadeeja,

Both of you are my greatest achievements. Thank you for brightening up my day.

Love you both with every beat of my heart,
Mak