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Books : My 2020 Book Challenge

My goal is 33 books but I finished 50 books instead !

I'm still on Scribd this year and I've been listening/reading to digital books like in the previous years. I don't buy physical books anymore (except for Murakami's Killing Commandatore this year and books for Sofi). 


Here is the list of books that I enjoyed this year :

  1. Breast and Eggs by Mieko Kawakamo
  2. The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd (I cried and laughed listening to this - it is very relatable in this phase)
  3. Kintsugi Wellness by Candice Kumai
  4. Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
  5. Severance by Ling Ma
  6. This was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
  7. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni 
  8. How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
There are some notes about this reading challenge that I want to point out (for me to remember in the future) :

  • In the first half of 2020 I didn't read that much and most books that I listened to were boring (that was why I was a bit demotivated), I think I started listening and reading again after July. 
  • Listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka's Stories by Heather Morris made me open my eyes to the brutality of war and how human is just so, disappointing.. I am grateful to be living in such comfort and having things just enough, but knowing that there are places that still in war makes me reminding myself over and over that this lockdown and Covid situation is near to nothing compared to what they are dealing with at this moment. 
  • I enjoyed The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell so I started listening to Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite's series (added 7 more books in the list - can't remember the last time I read a long series) - I enjoyed this experience so much because I feel like I've been with Tracy Crosswhite along the way while she was growing up (and now she's in her middle age - her series is still continuing, I haven't read the latest one). 
  • I think this year I am focused on finding myself in between motherhood and career. So I've been reading several fictions and non-fictions related to that. Breast and Eggs, Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 and even A Lover's Discourse and more mother/parenthood-related books. Being a mother put me in an odd place that I'm still adapting so I'm trying to figure out what I'm feeling and where I am in this situation. These books have been an eye-opening experience. 
  • Severance by Ling Ma is a reminder on how bad the post-apocalyptic world can be. It's a satire, dark humour. It felt like a real life (considering we are in the middle of a pandemic and that doesn't mean there's zombies needed in a fiction to make it valid as post-apocalyptic world). Good read during a pandemic.  
  • Note : I love first person narration. I think it is the best way to analyze or observe human's emotion or feelings. Even though it might be fiction, but it still came from a person and I love being connected in such intimate way with the writer. We can't exactly know how people feel based on just looking at their outer presentation, but in writings, it's just there like an open book and ready to be consumed. 

The book list that I read/listened to this year is here. There are books that I didn't enjoyed or finished as well (the ones that I didn't finished are not in the list though). 


If you are like me and currently in the phase of searching for yourself since you've become a mother, you can read these books :

  1. Breast and Eggs by Mieko Kawakamo
  2. The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd
  3. Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
  4. How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
  5. Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
It doesn't help you 'find' the meaning or anything significant, it is just various stories shared by parents - as parents, we all know that it is hard and maybe we don't really say it aloud in fear of looking like we are ungrateful being. But it is hard, and yes, we will always need help to understand that we aren't alone in this. 

Let's hope I finish as many books (or more) next year !

Little Things 245 - After Midnight

Remember my previous curated playlist on Spotify called Wandering Soul

Well I made a new one since Sofi and I called it After Midnight. 

I used this picture I found by @michellisphoto , so it is not mine, all credit to her :


There is a phase that started post-pregnancy while I was still heavily hormonal and mildly depressed perhaps due to post-partum depression, stress and recovery. So the playlist started with a song that I listened-to while I was having a wild contraction in the middle of the night. The night that we didn't sleep and I was in constant pain. 

It was a wild night. 

It was a start of a new phase in my life, and I always come back to that night, the night that changed me.

And throughout the playlist I just added to the playlist, whatever songs that I found that were nice to listen to after midnight. Honestly I no longer sleep late, I'm in my 30s now, I don't do midnights anymore. But it is always nice to remember those life we left behind :)

My soul still speaks in written words and mellow melodies, so I can't help myself, even though I am turning 34 soon, I still enjoy songs and make playlist. It's the best reminder of the phases in my life. Af doesn't share the likings in music as I do, he doesn't hear lyrics or melodies, he doesn't put memories in songs, he doesn't even hum or let alone sings :F I's hard to explain to him, so I think I just write this down for me. 

Review : Bookxcess Book Haul (Dec 2020)

Right after I got my payment this month I made an online order from Bookxcess !

I ordered more picture books for Sofi since she started another phase of flipping-through all her picture books all day (especially before sleep at night). She flips-through it all repeatedly, even though she hasn't started talking yet (she is now 1 yr 4 mo). But she always push the books in my face so I could act / sing / read out for her - repeatedly as well. I would try to enjoy this repetition as much and as patient as I can before she starts to read them all by herself ok :F


These are all the books from the latest order :

These are all her worn-out books since the last book haul :


About the order :

It only took around 12 hours for the books to arrive, I was a bit surprised by how fast it was for the order to be processed and arrived. I fully recommend buying from Bookxcessonline. 

So their latest offer (for Dec 2020) is free shipping with the minimum purchase of RM 80, and you can get a lot of picture books from Bookxcess with RM 80 :D I bought 5 books : 

  • 4 picture books (Rm 15 - RM 18 each) - these are hard cover, fully coloured, picture books
  • 1 non-fiction (RM 19.90) - Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske


All the books from Bookxcess :


How to choose books for baby/toddler (below 2 yrs old) :
  • Start with picture books
  • Books related to their familiar nursery rhymes 
  • Hard cover with hard-cardboard / fabric pages (no papers yet)
  • Easy to relate - animals, normal items in the house, transportation

Sofi loves nursery rhymes : Itsy Bitsy Spider, Row Your Boat, Old McDonald. 

So even if you have picture books with animals in it (and not nursery rhymes), you can point to the animals and sing the nursery rhymes yourself (like pointing to the monkey for "5 little jumping monkeys", ducks for "5 little ducks", cows for "Old McDonald", shark for "Baby Shark" etc. She expects me to sing whenever she points something to me.

I'm surprised by her interest in books - I thought it would be much complicated compared to toys. 

PS : I started reading to her when she was 3 months old, and she started showing interest in the books by herself by 9 months - but no more reading to her, she got no patience for that, only songs and sounds nowadays.

Little Story 230 : Another Case of Muscle Strain and Stiff Neck

I tried Panadol Extend twice, I don't think it worked or maybe it did, but the pain didn't subside. I wore the neck brace when I can, but mostly not because it gives me rashes. I tried some light stretches, tried to loosen up, but I'm still in so much pain so I had to check my blog to see how I'd handled this situation before because I know this is not the first time, nor the second or the third.

In my previous post about the same situation (I wrote this post in 2015), I went to see a doctor and I got pain killers and muscle relaxer. I stopped writing about it after the 4th day, so I'm not sure how long it lasted. Probably almost a week based on my old posts. 

Today is the fourth day.

I'm still in so much pain.


This happens a lot of time, I think by far I've had 3-5 incidents and I can't even remember if Af had any of these at all. My body is really fragile, my muscles, my bones, my teeth, I'm just physically fragile and for someone that have a strong will on life and love to work, this can be a bit annoying. 

I had to rest and do nothing. 


Update for my future reference:

  • Day 5 : The pain is still as bad as the first 4 days, but it gets worst only after physical activities : like eating, or sitting. Some muscles were loosen up, I can now move my hands up and do stretches, I can yawn as well.
  • Day 6 : The worst pain subsided, left with only sharp pain on some points alongside my head and neck. I can now look to the left and right slowly. I think my body needs another day of rest to heal (but it's work day). I started drinking coffee again. I'm also started working again on the 6th day, so I need to remind myself to do stretches every 1/2 hour instead of get carried away on work.
  • Day 7 : The pain is almost gone, only sore muscles alongside the neck and shoulder. I'm glad this is over.  

I usually try to avoid drugs, so here's some things that can help with sore muscles and inflammation :
  • Chamomile / green tea
  • Turmeric (I take 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder every morning) , ginger powder also can !
  • Banana / watermelon
  • Cocoa ! (But need a good recipe for this one, it's really bitter)
  • Protein-based foods
  • Ice pack on the first 2 days to reduce inflammation, hot pack on the later days to heal faster
  • Rest, rest really helps

Tooth Story - the Root Canal Treatment & the New Crown

When I'm started writing this, I already finished my third root canal treatment. 
All these happened in around 6 weeks, the treatment was once a week. 

I came to the clinic in May 2020 for a consultation at a private dental clinic, right after they changed PKP to PKPB. If money is a big issue (since the MCO), then why did I went to a private clinic? It was because my right molar was broken, it was a huge one, it was broken before Sofi was even here, I was heavily pregnant during that time and having a major dental treatment wasn't advisable. So I waited for almost a year to deal with this. Even the old crown was now missing. So I needed a new one, and I needed one fast because my gum became sensitive and it felt more and more uncomfortable. But thank God I was never in pain.  

I knew if I went to KK, the doctor will just remove the molar completely because it was too big, the molar was problematic since I was in school and it was broken for the third time (if I'm not mistaken). It wasn't even a hole anymore, just a huge remaining to put a crown on. So the option at KK would be : remove the molar or a root canal treatment (scheduled probably next year). I couldn't wait that long anymore. 


The Root Canal Treatment fees :
  • Consultation - RM 50
  • 1st treatment - RM 300
  • 2n treatment - RM 300
  • 3rd treatment - RM 300 + RM 100 (for small molar filling next to the broken molar)

The new crown :
  • RM 800 (payment divided into 2 sessions)

The pain :
During the treatment I was shot with a mild anaesthetic that numb my right jaw, so I hardly feel pain. Maybe only once or twice during the treatment when the doctor put some chemical to kill the nerve (?) because it was a strong one, or during the shot itself when he started the treatment. Most of the time I felt uncomfortable, closing my eyes helped me avoid the unnecessary pain of imagination. Holding something also helped calming me down.

After the first treatment, later that evening when the anaesthetic wore off, I did feel pain. It was hard to eat, I made porridge and even that was hard to eat. But it was still mild to moderate level of pain. They gave me pain killer but I didn't need it because it was manageable. The next two treatments was not painful at all. 


The Duration :
  • Root canal treatment : The first treatment was the longest one, probably around 30-40 minutes, the 2nd treatment was around 10-15 minutes and the third one was around 20-30 minutes.  
  • Putting on a new crown : Just uncomfortable, the first session was to make a mould of my new fake molar, it took awhile (maybe around 20 minutes ?), and the doctor put a temporary filling so it won't be exposed for a week - I had to use my left side to chew and avoid the right side. The next session is when the doctor put the new crown (also around 20 minutes). 
  • That's it

A lot of things happened during the treatment, it was scary to be the one lying down for sure. But the pain level were mild, it was mostly uncomfortable. So if you need one, just go and deal with it because the longer you wait, the worse treatment you'll be needing.

I think having a filling done to the next molar was more painful than the whole root canal treatment itself because the nerve is still viable. The doctor mentioned that I have a start of a new small holes that needed fillings on my left molars and wisdom tooth. He reminded me to get them done soon =.= 

I felt disappointed. I've been taking a good care of my dental hygiene since I was in school (meaning that I brush my teeth twice - never missed, I floss, and I use mouthwash). Sure they are all straight and even all my wisdom teeth came out at the right places but my teeth are so weak. This keep on happening =.= Now all 5 out of 6 of my lower molars got fillings and 1 crown. 


By the time I finished writing this, several months passed after the treatments.
I still feel uncomfortable with the new molar, I'm not sure what. It is not pain, just a tingling feeling inside the root (different than before). The doctor said that the nerve is no longer functioning so I shouldn't feel pain or anything, I'm not sure what this feeling is. 

Well, I survived a root canal treatment in 2020 and it wasn't that bad.

Little Things 244 - Shikataganai

There are certain things in life that we can't change.

I've stayed at home for more than a year now, since I had Sofi. We hardly go out. We don't really go to public places or gatherings even before the pandemic. Sure it wasn't healthy, but I was determined to not let her be sick from cold or flu or fever for at least a year. I tried my best to let her grow in a controlled environment (which isn't healthy I know being sick is a part of growing to have a strong immunity).

Because I'm always worried, anxious. 


I'm trying to have a peace of mind nowadays.

'Shikataganai', letting go of things that can't be changed or helped. I'm trying to not be controlled by things that I can't do anything about. 

For example like how the pandemic is still the hottest topic in our daily life and every single day is a reminder about it. I'm already staying at home and we are taking all the precaution : wash hands, clean up and sanitize things from the outside world. I don't know what else could I do to avoid this pandemic. 

So I try not to feed my mind with fear. I've already tried my best to prevent it, I rather not have my daily life affected by thinking about the possibilities, every hour, every day. 

That's when shikataganai comes in, I need to be reminded to stop worrying about things that I can't do anything about. Still try to have a normal life, but at home, in a safe space. Letting go of the "what-ifs". I'm accepting that I've tried my best, and if bad things still happen, it is things that can't be controlled. 

I can't be afraid of living. 

I can't live in fear. 


Stay safe everyone. 

I hope you are well and I hope we can all survive this together. 

Mommy Post : The night

// Note : This is a long kept post. When I posted this, Sofi is already 10 months old.

My contraction started one day before I was supposed to be admitted to the hospital. I was having much intense Brixton-Hicks contractions and pelvic pain for over 2 weeks before the date - making me question whether I was in labour or not every day. When it started to really happen, I thought that it might still be false labour. 

My back pain started to get intense throughout the day and around 4 pm I started to get the first real intense contraction. I had to stand out and breathe through the contraction (that's how I know it was different). Sitting down was uncomfortable. I told my mom-in-law and she told me to slowly walk around the house. Then I told my sister because she was in the area (she came right after). Af was getting ready to come back home from work, so I didn't want him to worry. I told him when he arrived home, "it's happening".  

The contraction faded in the evening, and slowly built up again. I rested around 9 pm to get ready (just in case), and around 11 pm it got super intense and I no longer could sleep. We then decided to go to the hospital that night.

I remember we stopped by at 7/11 in Putrajaya near the hospital so that I could buy some bread to eat.

When we reach Hospital Putrajaya :
  • I registered
  • The nurses asked me to change to their hospital clothes
  • They took some blood, checked my pulse, put something like a belt on my tummy to check the baby's heart rate and my contraction level (the nurse mentioned that my contraction was really intense and how was I holding up ? - it was mostly around 80%+ )
  • It was late at night, so there weren't any doctor around except intern. 2 intern doctors tried to do vaginal examination on me and wasn't sure how dilated I was =.= ( It was around 1 cm ). 
  • I was admitted and sent to a room (shared with another Chinese woman with a baby). Af came to the room later with my bags.
  • I didn't sleep much, it was an intense night. My contractions were strong and long, I remember holding on to AF, tears falling down on my cheek without I realized I was crying, silently. I guess I was in pain.
  • Morning came, I was exhausted. The nurse checked my blood pressure and my contraction level. The nurse asked me to walk around the corridor, so I spent the morning walking. 
  • At 3pm, I finally met my doctor. She did another vaginal examination, it was only 3 cm. I'm not sure if I'm right, but she had to do a 'membrane sweeping' to help induce the labour. In this procedure, the doctor wore a glove, and swept the inside of the cervix in circular motion. It was painful. This was the most traumatic moment during my whole stay at the hospital. I cried afterwards because I felt somewhat abused (by the procedure). Later I decided to take an epi.
  • Things moved fast after 3 pm, I was already 24 hours into contraction. They took me for an epi, prepared me, I waited in the labour room shaking (because I was cold due to the epi and had really strong surges), they also gave me something on a drip to induce the labour and they broke my water as well. Most of the time I was just trying to follow the surges. Already too tired to function, I haven't eaten for so long.
  • At 8 pm, the doctor came. I think Sofi came out in less than 10 minutes *by the doctor's help. She did sucked the head, because I was losing it. I became too tired, I knew to push when they asked me to push, but I didn't know how far did I go - with epi I don't really feel the piercing pain, just a lot of pressure.
  • By the time they put Sofi on my tummy and she cried, I was too tired, I can't open my eyes. 
  • I didn't see her until they cleaned us up. 
The two days after was chaos. I fainted in the bathroom after I tried to pee, I was still too tired. No one mentioned how much blood that I'll be seeing afterwards, huh. The whole experience was surreal and exhausting. I just wanted it to be over.

Sofi had jaundice so she had to be put under the light. She won't sleep without sucking, so I hardly slept. We stayed a bit too long before the doctor released us *due to the jaundice. Af didn't sleep for 2 days. Things were a bit overwhelming. 


Personally, the whole 6 months after Sofi came out was physically and mentally challenging. I was trying to heal, and at the same time cope with a new baby in our lives. Writing this down is odd, because I didn't enjoyed the process much. But it became much better after 6 months. 

I could write so many things that I struggled during the early phase, I guess I really don't like to be weak and unpredictable. I am someone that need to plan things and want to be in control. This situation put me in an odd phase of "just follow the flow". It was so painful to endure. I had to ask for help, a lot. I didn't like that, at all. 

I always thought that I was ready. 
But motherhood is a life-long learning phase. 
And I don't think we will ever graduate from one.  

Do you want to know what I remember that intense night ?

Apocalypse, by Cigarette After Sex :

I can't thank Af enough for helping me get through the night, and Aja for so many things in my life post-pregnancy.

Mommy Post : Sofi and Her Sleep

I started writing this when Sofi turned 4 months old :

We are currently sleep training Sofi.

I do the reading and the researching, and Af is actually working on training her because Sofi likes to sleep on Af's arms (and I can't do everything, I need support). It usually takes twice the effort for me to make her sleep. It is always a struggle, a fight, a drama, or lot's of cries before she actually falls asleep. 

The 4 months sleep regression has just ended, and she's already reaching the 3rd week of 5 months (while I'm writing this). Af been training her since the 4th month after she graduated the forth trimester and ended the newborn phase. It is still a struggle, but we can now put her to sleep by herself after she fell asleep instead of sleeping in our arms for most of the time. She still cries at least once every hour throughout the night before her deep sleep phase (after 3am). Af does all that, the training, giving her bottled milk (at least twice), changing the diaper (once), attending to Sofi's every need - all through the night while I'm resting until 4am. Then I'll take the next shift until she is awake and starts her day. 

We are currently on the 7th week sleep training and still struggling. 
Major achievement : we can now finally put her to sleep on her own after she fell asleep. Baby steps.


Sofi's sleep journal :

First month : 
The first 2 weeks while she was having jaundice - she slept all the time and we had to force feed her. We thought she was an easy sleeper.
Afterwards - her personality arose, we were wrong : she is a super-light sleeper. It is hard to make her sleep for more than an hour without waking up. The sleeping pattern was all over the place, we were sleep deprived and exhausted.
She needed to be soothe most of the time, so I decided to find a pacifier. We tried several, she accepted the third pacifier : Philips NICU Soothie Pacifier for newborn. It was a success :F I can finally leave her side while she was asleep.

Second month :
She started sleeping through the night - there were several more than 3 hours sleep moments at night. We were hopeful :F We can put her to sleep laying down on her own at night.

Third month : The struggle started. She wanted to be held, all throughout the day and night. I can't do anything, at times, I didn't eat or had to run to go to the toilet, I was stressed out, sleep-deprived and depressed. Af helped me taking care of Sofi when he got home, but it wasn't enough. I was still healing and Sofi wasn't cooperating. She was still having colic many many times and it was bad. The fourth trimester was really challenging for me.

I also bought several essential oils for babies to help her sleep. Well, I don't know whether if it was working, because her sleeping was still a struggle.

Things I use :

  • Bedtime by Audelia Naturals  ( I put behind her ears / neck after shower )
  • Resty Oil by Tasneem Naturals (Spray onto her sleeping space before sleeping time)
  • Oil diffuser + Lavender (15 minutes before sleeping time, for 1 hour)

I can't give reviews about these items, because it was still really hard to make her sleep and she was the worst sleeper. I just hope it helped her a bit (at least if she understand the cue for sleep time).


Forth month :
The 4-months sleep regression started. She started wailing at night, she cried at least once every hour. We also started sleep training her during this time. The night-wails went on for about 7-8 weeks. During this time Af started working at home, so we took turn taking care of her while working. He helped me a lot. I got better, mentally and emotionally. I started working again. 

Fifth & sixth month :
We can now put her to sleep laying down instead of letting her sleep in our arms while she is sleeping.
She naps 2-3 times during the day, usually around 30-60 minutes (sometimes can even stretch to 2 hours - rarely). She will be awake around 1-3 hours depending on her mood and sleepiness, still gets super cranky when she wanted to sleep but usually gave up and let us help her sleep when we stretched her awake time.


7th month : Basically it is still the same. Af will put her to sleep quite easily nowadays - but she needs Af to pick her up and walk her several rounds in the living room. She still naps 2-3 times a day (usually 30-60 minutes). She mostly sleeps through the night, but will cry several times to be soothe by Af or she probably needs milk. There are nights when she cries at night and can't be soothe, maybe because of teething or it's too hot to sleep comfortably. We had to turn on the A/C nowadays :F

Her nap time actually improved after she started eating.
She can now nap 1-2 hours (this is a great improvement).

After the 4th month, she no longer can sleep on her baby car seat during long drive. She will get super fussy and wants Af (it is still a struggle for me to make her sleep because she has her 'favorite'). But I have to pick her up and help her sleep (she will sleep on me for an hour). A struggle, but still possible.

Note : I am still using all the essential oils that I bought in the fourth trimester (so even though they are crazy expensive, I'm still using those everyday until today).


Will continue this post until Sofi is 1 !