Monday, April 8, 2013

Zakry is ONE!

My dearest Zakry,

A year ago today at this hour, Mummy was feeling the first pangs of labour - an exciting (and a little terrifying) sign that in a few hours I would meet the little man behind those pretty amazing tummy shapes you were able to make with your knees and elbows.

I didnt know then what a challenge having two children would be, how it is never the same as having just one child to focus on. I didnt know I would spend most of the next year exhausted, cranky, and not as wonderful a mother I wanted to be for you.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I havent been able to shower you with as much attention as I would have loved to. And in those moments of frustration and tears and tiredness, I have to remind myself often that I really am just another Mummy doing my very, very best. 

Despite our ups and downs, my love - the screaming, the madness, the tears and the fatigue (for us both!) - I still would not have had it any other way. For throughout it all, you have been and will always be my Precious One, the one we nearly lost, the one we fought to keep. 

On our tough days together, I think back to that moment when I first held you properly in my arms, during our first feed... engulfed in love and gratitude as I held your tiny hand, wrapped pitifully with a drip and a bandage. You opened your eyes briefly, and I saw the shimmer of your eyes, the beginning of that beautiful sparkle that still lights up your face when you smile today.

My beautiful baby boy... may our days together grow in closeness and understanding, may you forgive me for not being able to give you as much time and attention as you deserve, may you love me despite my failings and weaknesses. I love you more than you will ever know.

Happy Birthday my Little Man!

Love always,
Your Imperfect Mummy

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Does It Ever Get Easier?

8th May 2012 - Today, our little family’s newest member turns a month old. And what a month it will have been! Anyone who ever said it gets easier the second time round has got to be barking mad. Breastfeeding still killed me the first week and a half – throbbing, engorged (and very sore) boobs, cracked bleeding nipples, blebs, yep, the works. You’d think after having breastfed Zara for a year I’d have been able to avoid these potholes, but no one tells you that knowing the correct techniques doesn’t protect your boobs from the shock of a new, very hungry baby. Im glad though that despite the pain I persevered, because feeding the little man has gotten easier.

What hasn’t gotten easier is the sleeplessness! I haven’t been able to figure out a good routine for both the kiddos yet, so working between Zara’s established routine and around Zak’s erratic feeding times is proving tricky. This also means that Mummy’s routine has gone to shit. On top of a strict pantang schedule to follow, this leaves little time for me to catch up on some much needed sleeeeeppppp zzzzzzzzzzzz…. Oops sorry, there I go again.

Yes, well. Zak still wakes up about 4 times a night, with no real pattern emerging, unlike Zara who fell into a 12am-2am-5am-8am pattern pretty early. The result is that most nights I’m left guessing what is to come – will it be a good night, Mr Zak? Or will Mummy stumble out of bed half dead again in the morning? It doesn’t help that the hubby’s workload has increased significantly (rezeki anak, they say), which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because now we can start paying off our huge new housing loan that will leave us in debt for the rest of our lives. It’s bad because it means he’s hardly ever around these days and I have to manage both kids without him.

Is having 2 kids difficult? Well, it’s still too early to say. My guess is it will likely depend on Zak’s personality and how well I can coax him into a routine. With Zara, the first 6 months were tough. I had set some very rigid rules for myself with her that I intended to follow (exclusive breastfeeding, no bottle, no pacifier, the Gina Ford method, etc) which proved futile and a largely miserable experience. From that, I learnt my biggest parenting lesson – pragmatism. As parents, it’s fine to use ‘methods’ to help us get through tough parenting milestones, but at the end of the day, we must also learn to trust our instincts and balance them with the varied experiences of others. We have to always remember that no two children are the same and so our ‘methods’ must be flexible enough to work with their personalities. Right, so coming back to Zak. Im learning that he and Zara will probably be complete opposites, a little like my brother and I when we were growing up. I was the more headstrong, vocal, rebellious and feisty of the two; he the quiet follower.

Zak seems to be an unobtrusive little fellow; he can lie there quietly, observing the world go by, before softly falling asleep on his own. He doesn’t cry much, only when he’s hungry or his tummy doesn’t feel right (and when that happens, boy does he get red and angry!). He also shits a lot, almost as bad as his kakak, although she will forever hold the record of shooting the most people (4, including me) with her projectile shit (about 3 feet). I swear, sometimes when Zak shits, I worry he will take off like a jet! What’s happening in his diaper usually sounds so explosive you’d think there was a war going on in there. Then you open the diaper and get all disappointed with the tiny yellow splatter he seems fit to have presented you with. He also seems to enjoy shitting in nice fresh diapers. So you remove the diaper with the tiny yellow splatter, thinking he’s done, and right before you seal the new one, another explosion occurs. If you’re not fast enough, you’ll have the good fortune of being shat upon. My mother in law says if we were not Muslim, we could’ve ‘beli nombor’ and struck it big already. Apparently it’s very lucky to be shat on by a newborn. I cant seem to agree with that logic coz it certainly isn’t fun having shit down your front. Especially when you’ve just bathed the offending newborn.

Anyway, I digress. Zak’s so far unobtrusive personality seems to be jiving well with his kakak. From the first time she met him in the hospital, she has been nothing but a loving and very caring big sister. She knows Zak is her ‘adik’ and loves to caress his hair or kiss him on the forehead whenever she gets the chance. She has also taken to jumping up everytime he cries, covering her mouth and saying “Oh no! Baby cry!”. She will then rush over to pat him gently and say “Alolololo shayangggg…” The tricky part now is how to get kakak and adik to sleep at similar or overlapping times so Mummy can steal some sleep!

Zara and Zak with their Uncle Yean

Perhaps when this pantang thingie is over, everything might magically fall into place. I can only hope. But if my experience with Zara has taught me anything, it’s this  - you will operate like a zombie for some time and complain about it, but before you realize it, your kid is a toddler and you wonder where on earth the time went. Funnily enough, you will even wish the time didn’t pass by so fast, sleepless or not. So although I haven’t slept more than 2 hours straight for a month, I will try to appreciate and savour every sleepless moment I have with Zak, before he too grows up, too fast.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Welcome To Our World, Little Zakry!

On April 8th 2012, we welcomed our son Zakry Aiman Nazrudin into this world. At about 3 in the morning, one day after his due date (just like Zara!), I woke up to little sharp pangs low in my abdomen. Every night for a week up until then I had been experiencing the familiar tightening sensations of Braxton-Hicks contractions, wondering whether they were the ‘real thing’. Was this another false alarm? I lay in bed alone, wondering whether to call the hubby who was downstairs with his mates playing ‘Risk’. Nah, I thought, it didn’t feel like the labour I had with Zara, which were closer to Braxton-Hicks but more severe. So back to sleep I went.

At 4am, I woke again to the same pangs. Were they getting stronger or was I just imagining it? I decided to lie awake and time the twinges, to see if there was any pattern or regularity to them. 20 minutes later, and again 20 minutes later, there they were. I called Naz. “Yang, I think Im in labour…’ He bounded up to the room to check on me and then went back downstairs, I assumed, to call off the party. 20 minutes later, after another surge, he still wasn’t back. “Yang,” I called again, “Where are you?” Unbelievably, my darling hubby had resumed his game! “Naz,” I pleaded, “Please ask your friends to go home… I am pretty sure this is it.” Up he bounded again, went over to the dresser and picked up my pregnancy book. Flipping over to the page “Is it real labour?” he began to interview me about my ‘symptoms’. I vaguely remember wanting to kill him. “Ok ok,” he surrendered, “I’ll call it off.”

By 6am, there was very little doubt left what the pangs were. I got out of bed, finished packing my hospital bag and hopped into the shower. Naz had finally come back upstairs and was surprised to see me all packed and showered. I think about then it finally dawned on him that I really hadn’t been kidding. His eyes were like saucers as he gathered his things. In a few hours, our family of 3 would become 4.

0730hrs – We arrived at the hospital and checked in at the A&E where I was immediately wheeled into the Labour and Delivery Ward. By then, the surges were hitting me every 3-4 minutes. After being hooked up to a machine to check the baby’s heart rate, I was examined and told that my cervix was already 5cm dilated. This was fabulous news to me because with Zara’s 20 hour labour it had taken me considerably longer to get that far. Plus, I had already decided that with Zak I was going to attempt a completely drug-free delivery, so 5 cm along would also hopefully mean a shorter labour. Naz had brought along my ‘labour ball’, a gym ball that I’d been told would help ease the pain. I requested the nurses to take me off the monitor and quickly got on my knees before the next surge came. Wiggling my bum while hugging the ball, and with Naz coaxing me along, I managed to get through the next 3 hours of labour without too much difficulty.

Experiencing labour without the help of an epidural (with Zara, I caved after 13 hours) was nothing like I had imagined. I know this sounds strange but I never went for pre-natal classes of any kind – somehow I thought that I could ‘wing it’, and I mean hey, after Zara, how difficult could it be? But labour the way it’s meant to be is no easy feat. Hypnobirthing practitioners will probably be very upset with me for saying this, but the truth is, drug-free labour was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. When I got to 7cm, my awesome doctor (who has seen me through both a miscarriage and Zara’s birth) recommended breaking my water bag, and as soon as he did, the pain went literally off the charts. Not being able to hug my labour ball anymore at this point and having to lie prone on the bed meant I couldn’t ‘wiggle through’ the pain as I had the previous 3 hours. Naz, exhausted by now without any sleep, had to endure me tearing his shirt and grabbing at his hair as each surge came. At this point, I believe a primal urge sort of came over me – I was no longer really aware of what was happening, and Naz says I was groaning and growling like a wilderbeast. Im sure this cant have been very attractive and Im grateful that despite the bald patches he now has on his head from my hair-pulling, he still thinks I did great.

Barely an hour later, I was 10cm dilated and, as with Zara, I felt an overwhelming need to shit. Except this time, without an epidural, I honestly thought I was going to shit a football. With every surge, I felt my body being turned inside out. Dr Alex strolled in calmly in his scrubs and ‘wet market boots’ just as I yelled that I needed to push NOW.

A few seconds later, in my haze of disorientation, I heard Dr Alex say something about the baby’s umbilical cord and that I needed to stop pushing. Now for anyone who’s ever been in drug-free labour, this is an almost impossible feat. Torn between the unbearable pressure bearing down on my hips and Naz’s voice  screaming out to me to “Focus! Focus on me! The baby’s cord is around his neck… STOP PUSHING!”, I somehow managed to snap out of the haze and pull myself together. Naz said later that he had never seen me so terrified, my eyes so blank and yet so crazed. Looking back on it now, I recall feeling like my soul had left my body briefly before being sucked back suddenly into reality. I remember telling Naz that I had gone to pick up Zak’s soul from heaven to bring back with me. Corny, I know, but that’s really how it seemed to me at the time!

At 10.58am, after what seemed like an eternity as they loosened the cord from his neck, I felt little Zakry slide out of me with a gush of warm liquid. Just like that, the pain was gone. Zak lay on my chest squealing and I managed to hold him for a brief few seconds before he was whisked away for a quick clean. It was then that I was told he was having difficulty breathing and that they would need to rush him to the Neo-Natal High Dependency Unit for more oxygen and further tests. I still hadn’t fully recovered from the drama of the last few minutes and I don’t think it really registered until I was being stitched up. I remember asking over and over “Where’s Zak?”, before it finally hit me that our little boy was not well and it would be a while before we’d get to hold him again.

With my parents and in-laws an hour after delivering Zak.

The next few hours were a bit of a blur. I still didn’t have a clear idea of what was going on with Zak until Naz told me he had gone to see him in the HDU. After hearing that my little man was in a plastic box with tubes sticking out of him, I knew I needed to see my boy and make sure he was OK. I had been under some mistaken impression that delivering without an epidural would mean I’d be able to walk, run and jump around straight after, but I was so very wrong. Truth is, I was so sore my butt felt like it had been hit by a train. Not from the stitches but from the trauma of having a baby squeezed through my pelvis! I couldn’t walk or move without feeling bruised and battered. Despite this, I begged the nurses to please get me a wheelchair so I could go see my baby.

My poor baby boy.

Nothing really prepared me for the sight of seeing little Zak like that. He was so very pale and tiny, half his body in a plastic box, with a tube down his throat (to remove fluid that had gotten into his lungs), an IV poked in his arm (for antibiotics and glucose), and lots of other little wires stuck to him (to monitor his heart rate and temperature). I couldn’t hold him or feed him that day or the day after until the tests showed he was stable. I was told later that had it not been for the quick response from the midwife and nurses on duty that day, Zak might not have made it.  


I finally got to hold my little man 2 days after he was born, and I must admit, being able to smell his mottled wrinkly skin after everything he’d been through, will always rate as one of the simplest but greatest joys of my life (the other being my Zara).

*We owe our heartfelt gratitude to Dato’ Dr Alex Mathews, the midwives and nurses of Gleneagles Hospital for making sure our Zak would be the healthy chubby fellow he is today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Longer a Baby!

'Big Hug' from my Zara.

Tomorrow my baby, Zara Aaliyah turns TWO. I've been pinching myself a lot lately as this date has gotten nearer, wondering how it's possible that two years could have gone by so fast, and how my baby suddenly grew into a little girl without me realising!

But sure enough, here she is dancing in front of the TV to her favourite Sesame Street video ("Elmo's World" - which she chose herself by the way), mimicking the actions, songs and dialogue of all the characters, sometimes even before they appear (yes, she's got it memorised by heart!).

I remember thinking a year ago when she turned one what it might be like when Zara would be able to talk and express herself more clearly. I wondered what she'd be like as a little person - what would she say, what activities would she enjoy, what she'd look like. 

I'm not too far off in my imaginings: At one year, 364 days, Zara has grown into a sweet, caring little girl. She's very independent, very boisterous and can be very very stubborn, but she's also kind to animals (loves cats, though scared of dogs), worries when you look sad (she'll kiss you better, look at you closely and ask, "Better?")and shares all her stuff/food/toys willingly (but will get into a big fight with you if something is taken away from her forcefully). 

Most mornings I'm greeted with "Morning Mummy! Big kiss, big hug!" followed of course by a big kiss and a big hug. And sometimes we'll roll around in bed a little because she'll say "Lie down Mummy", pointing at the pillow and then proceed to cuddle me or stare at me with both hands cradling my face (I call these my 'special moments' because sadly I know they wont last!). There are also mornings when Abah or Mummy will wake up with a foot in our faces, wet diapers on our chests or a good kick in the nuts (oh, and this morning her diaper burst and I got pee down my front). Yes, those arent so great, but more often than not, the experiences are of the former (Thank God!).

When her 'angin' is good, Zara loves to 'sayang' (a cuddle and a pat) her Mummy, and if it's extra good, even Abah will get a sayang, especially if he has a boo-boo and needs a 'big kiss' to make it all 'better!' On these days, she will 'kemas' her toys and put them back in their rightful places, eat her meals all on her own with a fork or spoon (this morning she refused to eat her bread without her fork!), sit quietly in her playpen with a book she's chosen from the book shelf, or take off her clothes and put them in the clothes basket when asked.

When her 'angin' is bad, good luck lah trying to get her to do anything. These days, she wont walk (she will need to be dragged, literally), will throw tantrums on shopping mall floors (thankfully, this was just a brief phase), completely ignore you or do the exact opposite of what you ask. A couple of months ago, Naz and I disappeared for a quick weekend away and returned to find her arm covered in bite marks so bad they were bruised. I was horrified, thinking she must have gotten into a big fight with her cousin, only to find a few hours later that she allthough they were fighting, she was actually biting herself in frustration! She's also pretty good at playing 'tipu', where she'll pretend to cry (very tipu-sounding cry!) or sleep, just so she can block out what you're saying. And I cant count how many times she has tipped over her water or juice, despite me warning her not to, simply because she loves the drama of having to clean it up.

On the activities front, Zara has graduated to more grown up pursuits. She loves 'schwuming', pulling out her swimsuit every now and then to remind you to take her for a 'schwum'. She has just learned how to pedal her tricycle (yay!), and goes nuts around playgrounds (especially ones with 'schides' and 'weeeee' aka swings). 

No surprises here, but Zara is also quite the entertainer, loving to dance and sing for the aunties and uncles on Saturday nights at Tok's house. She will happily perform 'Row Row Row Your Boat', 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', 'ABCD...' and our favourite 'Proud to be a Cow' song from Sesame Street, and will go around to her audience making sure they clap during or after each song. 

Her vocabulary is not bad at all, she can name most things in her 'Words' book, sometimes in English ('dress') and sometimes in Malay ('baju'). She's pretty good at counting to ten, and will sometimes go up to 13, though sometimes she manages to count only 8 fingers or give me an extra 3 instead LOL.

And I've discovered that despite having mostly boys for cousins, you cant take the 'Ah Moi' out of this one. Zara loves carrying around her little 'handbag', loves being told she's 'pretty' and will tell you so if she think she looks nice, will wiggle her bum-bum when she's wearing a cute frilly skirt, and enjoys role-playing as Mummy with Elmo, feeding him (sometimes even with real food, urgh!), putting him to bed, and 'sayang-ing' him if he's fallen off the table.

Honestly, I have to say that the approach towards the Terrible Two's hasnt been as horrific as Ive expected. Of course, I've still got a whole year to discover what else is in store, but overall, I am truly thankful that in hindsight, Abah and Mummy have really had two wonderful years with a lovely little girl. Hard to believe she's mine (because I was a monster)!

Although I have neglected to update this space in quite a while, being busy with so many things (the business, TV work, planning Zara's party, planning for No 2's arrival) and carrying around an 8.5mth pregnant belly, I couldn't not take this opportunity to wish my little girl a very very happy birthday and to thank her for bringing meaning and joy to my entire existence. 

Yes, No 2 is on the way, and Mummy will soon have her attention divided (which worries me a great deal) but never ever forget, my Zara, that you will always be my baby, even when you're 16, 30, or even 50. I will love you even when you're embarassed to hear it, and will wish for your cuddles years after you no longer want to give them. 

Happy TERRIFIC TWO, darling girl!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

And Here We Go Again...

Yes, I'm a terrible blogger. But this time I have a really, really good excuse (REALLY!)...

Since my last post, as if life couldn't get any crazier, fate took it up a notch. 

Some time at the end of July, after a terrible bout of food poisoning that landed me in hospital for three days, I discovered I was pregnant again. I had been pretty sure I wasnt, despite my period being a tad late, because my urine test at the hospital 3 weeks earlier had been negative (and there hadn't been much "nocturnal activity" since then - LOL - due to Naz's mad schedule).  

It's not that the pregnancy was totally unplanned. We had actually been trying for around 8 months with no luck. Month after month of negative pregnancy kits was beginning to get a little depressing, so when I finally did take the test end July, I was honestly expecting the same result. I literally couldn't believe my eyes when two lines showed up instead of one, and I had to shake the test a few times just to be sure. But there they were... two beautiful perfect lines.

With my hands trembling, I dashed out of the loo, stood beaming in front of my bewildered hubby and said "Yang, you'll never believe it...", then held up the kit. Boy, was he psyched! He scooped me up and gave me a giant hug before pulling back with a worried face that said, wow, we're done for! 

A couple of days later, we went to see Dr Alex, the dear old man who delivered Zara. When I walked into his office, he was already standing with his hand outstretched and gave us both a hearty congratulatory handshake. And when he ran the ultrasound scan over my (still flat, though a little jiggly) belly, there the little fella was... Zara's adik - A blob, no less, but with a strong heartbeat that filled me with so much joy!

Now anyone who tells you the second time round is a little less exciting or meaningful than the first has got to be wrong. It's no less wonderful to see the beginnings of a No 2 than it is for No 1. There will always be a little something that's different, that surprises you, even at this stage. 

For one, we had to wait a while, anxiously, for Zara's heartbeat to appear. So to see (and hear) No 2's heartbeat, so strong and clear, at my first checkup was amazing.

Secondly, although the nausea and vomiting did make an appearance a week or so later, I am so blessed now (after 15 weeks) that it was a walk in the park compared to the bed-ridden weak state I was in when I was carrying Zara. First time round, I had to be hospitalized five times for dehydration, once for H1N1. With No 2, I am so proud to say I fought the worst of it and was only admitted once.

With Zara, I survived most of the first four months on only icecream and crackers (being unable to keep much else down). With No 2, I couldnt stomach anything cold (so icecream was out of the picture boohoo), water made me feel ill, plums - though sour - came straight back out, and I was constantly craving fried chicken! 

NOTE: Both my first trimesters shared one thing in common though - an insatiable, unexplainable desire for pineapples! Contrary to the pantangs about this, I went ahead and satisfied my cravings during both pregnancies, much to everyone else's horror. I'm happy to confirm this is most likely just a myth.

The most significant difference about this pregnancy so far though, is that when my symptoms started slowing around Week 11, instead of celebrating I actually got worried! I called Dr Alex and he asked me to come in for a check up. Prepared for the worst, I burst into tears when the scan showed a perfectly formed bouncing and very active critter :-D You cant help but fear the worst when you've had a previous miscarriage (my twin peanuts) and sudden loss of symptoms. But here was the proof, an unmistakable sign that sometimes, God gives you a break and lets you have it a little bit easier:

So here, I am now, at Week 15 (Alhamdulillah!), feeling about 99% fantastic, two weeks earlier than I did with Zara. I lost only 5 kilos compared to the 9 I lost the first time. I'm a lot more positive, knowing what to expect, and so very very grateful to not have been as sick and incapable as I was before. We're actually going for a family holiday in a couple of days, to enjoy Zara as much as we can while it's just us three, although I'll be taking this picture with me so he/she doesnt feel left out :-p

Well, I hope this 'excuse' warrants some forgiveness for my tardiness. My next excuse will be that I'm on holiday, but we'll see, maybe I'll make up for it and cram in a couple more posts before we leave. Hmm. We'll see.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Zara's Progress Report - 16 Months

Mummy's Girl...
Oops... I missed a month... naughty Mummy! I've let time slip by me yet again, and whaddaya know, Zara is 2 months older and I'm sitting here wondering where all that time went!

Zara is more of a Terrible Toddler these days, certainly no longer a little baby. I look back at her photos and videos, and somehow cant remember her ever being that small. Then again, in hindsight, she has always had some spunk this one; I knew at 2 months that she would be both a chatterbox and a go-getter, and every day that goes by now, I'm being proven right! (and I'm not sure that's a good thing LOL!)

She is also extremely funny, has a great sense of humour and a terrible temper. 

Her God-Daddy, Uncle Farez came by last night, and they kept each other very entertained, with Zara pretending to wrestle him to the ground with her signature move, The Fisticuff (i.e. cuffing Uncle Farez's shirt with her fist).  Uncle Farez of course responded with lots of grimacing and dramatic slow-mo TKOs, throwing Zara into a fit of giggles. Believe me, with her underbite and two bunny rabbit teeth, this  really looks hilarious! 

Abah and I were so amused we have bestowed her a Pro-Wrestler name - The ZaraNator.

She has also learnt a lot of new words these last two months, and is getting so much better at playing on her own. She also LOVES to dance, and has some pretty cool moves for a baby. Abah takes credit for this, because he insists I have  NO groove. Anyway...

Zara this month weighs in at over 11kg, and taller than 75cm, and I'm afraid I cant get the exact weight and measurements right now because she's in bed (hence my freedom to write).

 Skills & Quirks
She can now "salam" people when asked; sometimes she gets a little over enthusiastic - like at a recent kenduri when everyone was lifting their hands to doa, Zara thought they were holding out their hands for salam, so she took the initiative and went around kissing everyone's raised hands LOL! 

Still enjoys dancing, and added quite a few moves to her repertoire - she can jig, spin, and so something that resembles the Poco-Poco (not haram in Selangor I believe! :-p )... She especially loves it when I sing "The Hokey Pokey" and will make me to sing it again and again so she can continue dancing.

Loves picture books, she will 'read' in the car and they're also a good distraction during diaper changes!

She particularly likes her animal picture book!

Can go up and down steps without having to crouch, but it has resulted in her falling a couple of times. 

Can kiss Mummy on the lips when I say "Kiss Kiss", and on the cheeks when I point at my cheek. When she's done something wrong and is scolded, she knows she is forgiven when I say "Kiss kiss" and point at my cheek.

When  she's done with her milk at night, she'll put the cover on the bottle, walk over and give it back to me.

Can scribble with a pen or pencil. Usually on today's newspaper.

Or in this case, Tok's business pages!

She likes to climb onto things and balance precariously on them, even tiny little boxes. When we catch her doing it, she looks very guilty.

Still enjoys hiding things. When we went to Penang recently, I couldnt find most of her bangles until we were about to check out. She had hidden all of them under the TV!

She's very very friendly with people. Too much sometimes! She'll waltz up to strangers on the street and put her arms around them or 'salam' them. We hear the lines 'Wah, such a friendly baby' a lot! They have no idea about her temper! (See below: Bad Habits!)

She made friends with a group of Indian tourists in Penang!

Tries to comb her hair - she understands the concept but still cant figure out the right way to hold the comb.

Tries to brush her teeth on her own - she can wiggle the toothbrush in and out and around her mouth but still lacks a bit of dexterity. 
Communication Skills 
We've figured out that "Katakatakatakaiiiiiii....!" means something along the lines of "Kucing Hitam" (her favourite Tickling Game) or the sounds we make when we bounce her up and down. Either way, she's definitely mimicking something we've said, and she still repeats it a LOT.  
New words:
1) "Maam-Maam" (makan) is now "Naam- Naam". 
2) "Maam!" is the sound she now makes when she kisses Mummy on the cheek. 
3) She now says "Abah" a LOT, and knows it means Daddy. 
4)  She finally said "Me-Mi" on my birthday *beam*.
5) During bath time she will 'Wash her hair" and "Wash her tummy" when asked, and when I turn the shower off, she signs "Sudah habis".
6) When she knows we're going home or someone is leaving, she will wave and say "Bye".
7) When she's playing with the house phone or my mobile, she'll put it to her ear and say "Hi".
8) Can say "Nana" when she sees my Mum in person and in pictures, as well as when she hears Nana's voice on the phone.
9) She covers her eyes with her hands when we say "Tutup Mata"
10) Will cover her head  with her hands when we say "Tutup Tutup Panas Panas"
11) Will point and say "Nah-nah" when she sees a Banana, her favourite food
12) Can point at Elmo and say "Ay-mo"

Zara with her beloved Ay-Mo.

Uses words + hand signs for:
1) When she's had enough to eat, as in "Habis" (accompanied by the word "Haish").
2) When she wants something, she'll point at it and say "Nak".
3) When she wants to be carried, she'll hold out her arms, arch her back and bounce up and down.
4) When someone is being naughty, or when she knows she's done something she shouldn't have, she wiggles her index finger the way I do when I say "No".  

Her new love is "BabyTV". She is glued to it for as long as it's on and will happily play on her own if it's on without sound in the background. Useful when I need to reply emails or make phonecalls!

Continues to enjoy Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Sesame Street, her new favourite being "Sing Hoot & Howl". These days, she watches most of her SS and MMCH via YouTube on my Samsung Galaxy Tab because it's the easiest thing to distract her when I'm in a meeting and need to bring her along.

Yes, she takes her 'Tab-Time' very seriously.
Is more confident now in the water and not as scared to try wading on her own.

Loves to imitate what she sees happening around her - she will play masak-masak  with her pots and pans, then put Elmo in her feeding chair and pretend to feed him. 

Really enjoys her Nana and Ah Kong's garden! She will run everywhere and cant get enough of the grass!

She made poor Ah Kong run up and down the hill THREE times! 

Zara has a new fetish - SHOES! She *cannot* resist seeing a pair of shoes, baby-sized or otherwise, without trying them on. Presenting... the Zara Shoes Series:


Any type of shoe... you name it.

Zara is now completely self-weaned from breastmilk and only occasionally now will pull open my shirt in the morning for a bit of a nibble, but I reckon that's more out of habit than for milk.

Yep she scoffs down those bananas alright!
Breakfast these days is usually a banana with a 250ml packet of cold fresh milk, which I alternate with cereal and homemade apple puree, 2 slices of bread and milk, or yoghurt. 

Lunch is a 240ml bottle of warm milk before her nap.

 Dinner is usually anything I can put together with the stuff I have in the fridge. Her current favourites: Tuna & Mixed Vege Pasta, Brocolli/Cauliflower & Cheese, Ikan Bilis & Carrot Porridge with Marmite, Scrambled Eggs with Chives & Cheese, and Tuna & Spinach/Peas. She also adores Potato Chips, but wont touch Mashed Potato. 

For snacks, she'll happily chew on almost any biscuit you give her, but her new craze is sultanas. I've now stocked up on those little boxes of SunMaid Raisins, which she just loves eating on her own. She also enjoys watermelon and dragonfruit but has a love/hate relationship with Mangoes.  Oh, and she LOVES carrot juice - dont ask me why coz it tastes horrible, but she can easily down one glass over dinner.

We've since switched brands to Abbott Gain Plus EyeQ growing up milk, which Zara seems to really love. We used to have issues with her not finishing her milk, but since the switch, she'll easily finish a full bottle and sometimes even ask for more.

 One 240ml bottle of Abbott GainPlus before naptime at about 2pm, and another 240ml bottle at bedtime.
Naptime still once a day, from 2-4pm after lunchtime susu.
Bedtime from 10pm to 9am, or 10am if I'm lucky!

She also finds sleeping comfort in some really weird places!

Has  sprouted countless new teeth over the last month, but I cant get her to open her mouth long enough to check how many. She definitely has two new ones at the front on the lower jaw, another new one on the front at the upper jaw, a couple of molars at the bottom and at least one molar at the top. 
New bad habits!
   TANTRUMS! She can really throw a massive one when she wants to - but mostly only when she's tired and cranky. She'll throw herself on the floor and refuse to get up. Try pulling her up and she will stretch her arms high so that you cant grip her under the shoulders. Yep, the makings of a drama queen. Help!

It's getting impossible to leave her alone for even a minute - not even when I need to pee. While in Penang, I had to dash to the loo and when I got out, this is what Zara had done:

The ZaraNator used her Superhuman strength to wrestle 
The Drawer to the ground!

When you're not looking and don't realise she has poo in her diaper, watch out! I caught her the other day pulling shit pellets out of her pants and squishing them on the floor!

Other Major Milestones
Zara got her first passport!

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I am really enjoying Zara at this age, eventhough she is getting to be quite a handful. 

It can be really really exhausting chasing after her everywhere, especially since she likes taking chances and will try climbing/stepping over/running through/going under and/or getting into trouble, if she can. Plus, for all her daring, she's pretty clumsy and can fall flat on her face in a split second. Luckily, she's quite hardy and doesnt cry when she falls unless you fuss over her, so if you say "Alaa takpe takpe", she'll get up and off again as if nothing happened.

But there's an upside to all this, and it's that the more she observes and the more confident she becomes, the more she learns about people, about showing  her feelings and about love. And I can tell you, there's nothing more precious in the world than waking up in the morning having her arms wrapped around me or coming home after a bad day in the studio to a delighted face and warm little hug.
Yeah, I'm easy to please :-) And the terribles are simply more bearable when she points at me and says 'Me-Mi' *melts*