Sunday, December 30, 2012

3 Crucial Marriage Tips

3 Tips For Making a Marriage Work

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a marriage gets rocky, and before it gets worse, there are things you can and should do to save that marriage. 1.  Lower your expectations of your spouse. Often disagreement is caused by different levels of expectations related to an issue. If my spouse has an approach to an issue and that approach doesn't cross the religious boundaries, then I will give in and quietly back off. But I will also share my point of view with him indirectly through means that he won't see as confrontational. 2.   Make time to do some special things for your spouse. Buy him something he loves, cook for him his favourite meal, and be extra "hot" when the both of you are going to bed. One aspect that people often overlook is what you call your spouse. Call him with a sweet name, in a sweet tone. 3.   Accept your spouse for whoever he is. He is the best that God has selected for you. Be grateful if he has been an honest and loyal partner. When he errs, remind him of what God requires us to do, but in ways that will not affect his ego (it's hard, but with experience, we will find his soft spot).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Special Baby Soffyah - Ventriculomegaly at Birth

Soffyah is a special baby born on 5th April 2011, placed immediately in Special Care Nursery right after birth, and went through MRI when she was 3 days old.

Baby Soffyah was diagnosed with fetal ventriculomegaly at 20 weeks during a prenatal checkup. The ultrasound technician, while scanning, kept asking me if the doctor said anything about the baby, and no, I was clueless for what was to come.

I was then sent for a more detailed scan where the doctor then confirmed the condition. But before the doctor told me about the condition, I was prepared for the worse, as I caught a glimpse of the scan showing a big liquid-filled space in my baby's head, where there was supposed to be brain tissues.

I googled and found some inspiring stories about ventriculomegaly babies, some of them are worse off than others. But there were some quotes I can never forget.

Special babies are given to special moms. Believe in your child, and have faith that he or she will be just fine. 

Ventriculomegaly babies, depending on the seriousness of the brain abnormality, can suffer from developmental delays - mental and physical, and are also at risk of death in early childhood.

Wild thoughts ran through my mind during those days when I was not sure what my baby will be like. Will she be able to walk, talk, or look like other normal babies? Will she be able to survive at all? I have lost my first child and I do not want to lose another one. I prayed hard that she will be fine, and I asked that God give me the strength to be a good mom to her. They were the scariest days of my pregnancy. I tried however to distract myself from thinking too much about it.

The doctor monitored the size of her head during the following pre-natal scans and it was certain that her head was bigger than normal. When she was born, I was thankful to see that her head looks pretty fine and in proportion to her little chubby body.

Post-delivery, she was taken immediately to the Special Care Nursery, where doctors and nurses took many tests and continued to monitor her condition. I was discharged from the hospital the next day, but my baby had to stay in hospital for a few more days as the doctor wanted to do an MRI on her.

I went home without baby, far from being able to cuddle and breastfeed her as I had planned to. During the quiet moments at home, I will remember her and start to tear, and pray so that she could be quickly discharged, and so that her brain would heal by God's will.

I called the doctor up every day to ask about my baby. On the 3rd day, I received good news that my baby could be discharged. I hurried to fetch her, and was so elated to finally have her in my arms again. Before leaving the hospital, she cried as she was hungry, and I managed to breastfeed her for the very first time.

We had to return to the hospital for frequent weekly checks, and then monthly checks. The doctors put baby Soffyah under the Early Intervention Program, where she had regular sessions with the physiotherapist who checked her growth and development and who helped us train her so that she would not be too far behind the normal babies.

It was an eye opener for me being in the Early Intervention Program sessions. I saw many kids, from babies to older kids, with conditions that are not normal, accompanied by their parents to meet their therapists. I felt so much for them, and I know that their parents are really strong people, who have braved the hardships they have met along the way as they raise their special kids. These meetings reminded me of how we should be grateful for what God has blessed us with, because there are reasons why God wants it that way. And God always wants the best for us.

We also had appointments with the neurosurgeon who monitors her head scans, and her mental and physical development. There were also the routine monthly checks by the pediatrician who will look out for any signs of developmental delay.

On one of our visits, when Baby Soffyah was 5 months, the pediatrician was not too satisfied with her response during the knee jerk test, and her overall "floppiness". Her muscles were weak. We were sent for another head scan a few weeks later.

The earlier sessions with the physiotherapist always made me feel depressed at the end of the sessions. Baby Soffyah didn't do too well for her tests, where she had to perform an action and was graded by her response. For example, when she was required to lift her head and hold it for 10 seconds, she managed only 3 seconds. Each time I returned from the sessions, I would end up feeling that I didn't do as best as I could have done to help baby Soffyah.

We prayed hard - my husband and I, his family and mine. We did special prayers to seek God's assistance in helping baby Soffyah develop into a normal healthy baby.

When she turned one year (in picture, as she had first birthday celebration), we had an appointment with the neurosurgeon where we were greeted with very good news. He said that baby Soffyah's head size looked fine, and her development was on par with the normal babies her age. He also said that we should not worry, because she could have just suffered from a stroke while she was in my womb, but the brain is plastic and has made up for the loss by itself. He confirmed by looking again at the head scans and told us that the size of the brain ventricles did not increase.

As a standard procedure, we still have to visit the neurosurgeon for another year, and if there is no cause for concern, she can be discharged. For now, we are enjoying every little time we have with each other, discovering the funny and cute sides of this ventriculomegaly survivor - our special baby.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

When Working Moms Earn, Save, Invest for Allah

Send the right cues to your children on the importance of appreciating  and managing wealth for the sake of Allah. What have we spent for Allah, especially for Allah today?

In the hustle and bustle of city life, the busy working mom will often live according to schedule, the demands of work and the needs of her family.

Without the right spiritual motivation, she will soon be living in a mental state ruled by social influence and most dangerously, materialism. Soon, her children too will be subconsciously taking in the cue that life is about being rich, buying expensive things, and being respected by others. Even in school, the values taught to the children circle around getting good grades that will allow getting a job that pays well.

Nothing wrong with getting a good pay, but the disturbing thing is what do they use the large amount of money for? Often the hard earned money is lavished on branded goods and high tech gadgets that soon got outdated and the desire to stay current with the trend then becomes overpowering. So more and more money is spent on goods that are far from necessary!

Remember that most of those who will dwell in Heaven are poor people. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. gave up almost all of his wealth to help the poor and needy, and to spend according to what God has commanded him to. There is no fear at all about not having enough for himself. He has trusted in God and God will take care of that.

And remember that the more wealth we have, the more accountable we are in the Hereafter, where Allah will question us on how well we have used our wealth in the ways that please Him.

God loves those who work to earn a living, and God wants us to wisely manage what we earned. To put the Now and the Hereafter in the right perspective. My former ustaz, the late Kiyai Haji Kassim Bin Adenan always mentioned this in his lessons:
"Use your lifetime to plant, (invest) for akhirat."

Lifetime is not about realising materialistic fantasies...huge modernistic houses, expensive requirements for entertainment, luxury cars, fine dining. Such desires often stem from the feeling of ungratefulness. The temptation that always lures you to getting more than what you have.

Of course, at times, you feel like having that extra piece of something, perhaps an occasional expensive item to add to your wardrobe. But before you make that purchase, just reflect back on what better use of that money, if you had put it to help someone in dire need. Or simply, instead of buying something really unnecessary for yourself, e.g. a Gucci handbag when you already have a Kate Spade tote bag, buy something necessary for yourself or for another person that will remind us of Allah.

One suggestion is to save that money and bring your family to the places where our Prophet and his Sahabah have left behind their footprints, and also visit the living Sheikhs, the people who have been devoting most of their lives in gratefulness and longing to meet their Creator and their beloved Prophet. They are the people who are blessed with the ability to help others see the ultimate Truth needed to lead a successful life now and in the Hereafter. 

You will never know when the switch will be turned off. If the inevitable happens and God takes back what He has been giving you so far, it is a little too late to properly "invest" in akhirat.

Let's now think about what we have spent for Allah, especially for Allah today. Let's step back and look at the bigger picture. Remind ourselves: Invest for akhirat.

A beautiful prayer that a mom should recite each time she leaves the house for work in the morning:

O Allah, please bless me and my family with the benefits of this job, and guide us to use them well in ways that please You. And keep us away from the harm and the shortcomings of this job, that we know or we do not know of.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Honorable Muslim Women- Rabiatul Adawiyah r.a.

I first heard her name from a popular nasheed, and soon I grew curious to get to know who this great lady is.

I found a book in the nearby library, and was so elated to finally discover the great life of Rabi'atul Adawiyah. It was also the first time I was so moved by a book.

She is the fourth girl born in a poor family. This slide shows some brief notes about her.

What I find very unforgettable about her is the way she thinks about life as a continuous remembrance of God. Here is an essay that beautifully describes her God-centric life.

She doesn't bother too much about the worldly issues and the many difficulties she faces on Earth. She rejected several rich men who had asked for her hand in marriage. Plus she prays, and presents her prayers sincerely for God, and not for anything in return, not even for the sake of getting a place in Heaven.

All she wants is the opportunity to see And meet her Creator face to face.
May Allah cleanse our hearts so we too can see life in the eyes of Rabi'atul Adawiyah.
Rabi’a loved all of life and all sentient creatures because the eye of her mind had been cleansed, and she was able to appreciate the sacred presence in whales, stars, and the sea.
I refrain from using past tense in mentioning about what she has done because her spirit lives and she is not dead. I hope we can meet her in the Hereafter and kiss her hands.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why We End Up Not Feeling Satisfied After Our Holidays

The mention of the word "holiday" excites almost everyone. To some, it is a chance to travel and escape the stress of working life.

To others, it is a time to just lounge around, having that extra hours in bed or spending more time with family and friends.

How do we define our holidays? Rest and relax...yeah...

But unfortunately, there is a lot more to the word, that we are missing out, and perhaps this is the cause why we always do not feel satisfied at the end of our "holidays".

What most of us don't know is the origin of the word "holiday". Can you make a guess?

I just discovered it myself as I read an article on my favourite magazine, Anis.

"Holiday" comes from the word "Holy Day" from ancient English. A day to strengthen the spiritual state of minds, to be closer to the Creator.

So, this is the real meaning. Our early ancestors had benefited from their holidays, as they rejuvenated their spirituality, and this brought a positive outcome on their physical and mental states.

I am not saying that you should be attending more religious classes or spiritual sessions during the holidays. What you need to change now is the deeper realisation of the One that creates the beautiful things you are enjoying so far.

Who created the breathtaking views that you have captured on your DSLR when you were in Europe or Middle East? Visiting the remains of an ancient civilisation? What happened to the glorious kingdoms in the past? What can we learn from these?

Going on a rollercoaster ride in a new theme park? What makes this technology possible? Gravity? Who creates gravity? 

Realise that all these show how powerless and small we are, in front of the Creator.

So, now, think deeper into your holiday activities. Do they enhance your lives spiritually? If the answer is "No", you are simply wasting away your holidays and perhaps your money too.

Let's now think of Holidays as Spiritual Rejuvenation.

You will bring home a new lease of energy and meaning in life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Self Reinforcement of a Full Time Working Mom

1. I am working to bring goodness to the family, not only in terms of financial gain, but also knowledge gain.

2. I will make time to be with my children, and will guide them for as much as I can, in my presence or absence (enrolling them in meaningful classes or activities).

3. The helper I have chosen is helping me to look after my kids. But she will not be expected to be perfect. I will need to teach her the things she can to improve her caretaker skills.

4. To ensure the day goes smoothly, I will plan more systematically and more frequently to prepare for important events. My plan must be scheduled around my kids, e.g. Nap time is part of routine, as they need adequate rest.

5. I am responsible for ensuring that resources are not wasted. I will buy bulk purchases and use discounts in order to save some of the monthly budget. I will not spend on anything that does not fall under the Needs category, but will set aside some budget once a week for a family outing.

6. I will exercise at least twice a week, and will encourage others to do the same.

7. I will learn a new skill each month and teach my kids if relevant.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

How Do You Keep Your Sanity and Dignity as a Full Time Working Mom

When office duty called over two weekends, I thought that I wouldn't have enough time for a fulfilling activity with my two busy tots.

Or that I wouldn't have time to complete the extra office task that I had brought home.

But things went better than expected. I managed to bring the kids to a waterplay area near our home, and also did some retail therapy with the kids plus played with them the toys they have bought later that evening.

The day culminated with everyone feeling satisfied and I even managed to complete the office task when the kids were asleep.

What kept me in momentum was the priorities of my day's tasks, and to set a lower expectation of what I can achieve that day, especially considering the kids' temperament that day. On a good day, my kids will want to sit in their pram and I will be able to do my purchases faster than if they decided to walk and control where they want to go.

I also made sure that I do something that will make me happy - bought my favourite cupcakes and savoured the taste slowly.

But what I forgot to do was to check the time when I was finishing my office task that night. Yes, I got carried away and ended up feeling sleep-deprived the next day.

Your Sanity

Lesson 1. ;-) Plan your task and prioritise.

Lesson 2. ;-) Set lower expectations when managing time. You are juggling between the unpredictable events in motherhood and the always-urgent office duties. This is no easy feat but you will soon master your own unique time management strategy.

Lesson 3. :-) Keep happy, via the joyful little things.

Your Dignity

Lesson  1. Plan your leave days in advance so you can participate in your kids' school events, and establish better rapport with the teachers.

Lesson 2. Have some interesting snacks and toys handy whenever you bring them out. So these can be used as distraction in episodes of crying tantrums.

Lesson 3. Do not entertain people who have zero tolerance for your kid's antics, provided your kids are not doing dangerous activities.

May Success be with you...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Confession of an IT Goner - Falling in Love With My Internet Marketing Job

Down the memory lane entering the Google and Internet Marketing World

It was a bizarre experience - applying for a job that I had never imagined doing. Since having annoying episodes of erronous programming, I told myself that working in IT will be something I ought to avoid.

But fate had it otherwise. While 4 months pregnant with my third child, I applied for a part time post to help supplement the household income, since we were 'expanding' as a family. A week later, I was welcomed with good news, plus the bonus of working only 4 bus stops away from home.

Within three months, my knowledge of websites, search engines and the Internet multiplied quickly and I was given the trust to write creatives and research to help local and overseas manufacturing companies meet their sales targets.

Right through the pregnancy, I was in full gear, learning pretty hot stuff about the Web.

My first SEM campaign went quite well. This made me addicted to more success through better strategy implementation and more knowledge of best practices.

Of course, a few strategies turned awry, but these provided a foundation of what to avoid in future. I take pride in sharing these mistakes to the customers, as people value transparency, and honesty.

I took a whole 2 years to truly understand the realm of online marketing. At the moment, I am devising ways to help other Internet Marketing professionals manage their time and resources more efficiently.

I am online for more than 12 hours a day, finding more thrill from the Internet. Riding Gangnam style on search engines, social media and very technical and industrial terms...

Oppa Google Style!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Great-to-Have Resources for Your Ageing Parents

Do you find yourself lost when your parents are ill? What information will be good to have to care for your ageing parents? What government incentives can you take advantage of?

 Recently, I have been doing a lot of online research to find out how to help my mom solve her swollen leg problem. As my mom's mobility worsen due to her painful leg, I began to look for answers on how to help her control her weight, to alleviate her leg pain. It also struck me that I need to stay equipped with useful health and caregiver resources, and to have a ready list of healthcare/emergency services that I can use in needful situations.
It is not enough to rely on a foreign domestic worker who is young and has no healthcare background to look after your ageing parent.
You need to have the knowledge to share useful caregiver tips to them, or if you don't, the caregiver must be given the training or essential resources that will help in the long-term care of your parents.

 Here are some of the tools I suggest everyone who cares for their ageing parents should have:

  •   Health Apps - Include Find A Doctor App, Diet and Activity Tracker, Glossary of Medical Symptoms in the SingHealth App 
  •   C3A App - Services, discounts and activities for senior citizens 
  •   Caregiver's Handbook by Asian Women's Welfare Association. Perhaps you can use this to guide the FDW you have employed to care for your parent. 
  •   Singapore Silver Pages - Resources for Elderly, Family Members and Caregivers 
  •   Silver Infocomm HotSpots - Free Internet for above 60. If your parent loves to learn about the Internet Technology, they can visit nearby community centres for an IT session. 

Some tech stuff I strongly recommend that will benefit the senior citizens who are already using mobile phones:

  •  WhatsApp - Free messaging tool 
  •  Facebook - For sharing the joys of their children and grandchildren, and for keeping in touch with their friends
  • Google Maps - For GPS 
  •  YouTube - Watching online lessons, e.g. hobbies-related, spiritual or simply entertainment 

 As the number of older people in our society increases, we need to have more self-reliance, and not be too dependent on hospitals or FDWs. More importantly, we know our parents more, and we should get to know more about what they want, so that they can spend their days in greater comfort.

 By keeping updated with the latest available resources, we can decide better on what will be best to help our parents, and what not to do.

 I don't know how much longer I will live, but if I grow old into the 60s, I would want to have access to information that matters about my health, finance, and ongoing online and offline activities/lessons that I can participate in. I would also love to find out the latest updates on my siblings, my close friends, my children and my grandchildren, especially.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thank You Family Support Network

It's been a busy 12 h work-at-home day for me? The monthly reports have to be settled before I set out for a short getaway with my family.

My poor kids were wondering why their mommy was spending all the time fixed in front of her laptop, right on a weekend. My helper was entertaining them, and making sure to distract them from me. My mom was the day's time checker, and reminded me on my meal times and to take breaks.

At the end of the day, my kids were super possessive of their mommy, and both were pulling me to play with them. It made me realise how much time I had been emotionally away from them, although I was doing work at home, in their presence.

I am truly blessed to have such an awesome family support network. I wouldn't be able to complete my job and succeed in my tasks, without them. Life is much smoother and happier, as some of the important daily tasks are already taken cared of.

I am planning some gifts for their dedication in caring for my precious little girls.

Thank your family support network...