Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Tag: children

Highlights of the Month

I have no mood to write anything these days. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided to post some pictures that I took for the past one month ;).

Leaves have started to fall in Eindhoven, after few weeks of sunny and warm weather. Usually, we’d take our gloves out by the month of October. But the weather has been very warm lately. Does that mean winter would be worst and colder than last year? 😐

Fall in Eindhoven

I was invited to a Korean lunch at a friend’s house. I forgot what this dish was called but I always loved it! This was the second time I ate it.


Baby Nolan and baby Mentari are two of my favorite kids πŸ™‚ I’ve watched them grow ever since they were born and it’s always impressive and exciting to see them growing and doing their things for the first time :).

Baby Nolan was upset coz I took him away from his mom :P Baby Mentari is a happy baby :)

A tribute to Michael Jackson...Last weekend, Jessie and I went to the McDonald’s near Best. This particular McD got a Rock & Roll theme. There was a huge statue of Michael Jackson on its parking lot. I saw lots of pictures, flowers, and messages from his fans near the statue. We were checking out these memorabilia, when we saw a teenage boy crying with his family trying to console him. That was my first time to actually see with my own eyes someone crying because of the death of a celebrity. How stupid does that sound?! Isn’t it ironic that people don’t believe in God but they believe in these fake looking celebrities that they have no relations to and have no idea whether these celebrities are honestly a good person or not…! A strange world we live in…

This picture is not actually mine, but this one was taken at the Welcoming Party organized by PPI/e (Indonesian Student Association). I had a great time there, meeting new Indonesian students. I gave a short presentation about Dutch culture. It was OK, I think I should have done it much better than that. I prepared it in less than 8 hours before the event itself haha. But it was a relief to know that people found it useful.

Girls of Eindhoven ;)

How I Used to Spend My Free Time

My mom used to tell me how she used to play in sawah (rice fields) when she was a little kid and she always told me how during those times there were no such things as dolls or Barbie’s. Whenever I see small children playing with their parents’ phone or iPad, I smile. I see the same thing as what my mom saw. Oh how the world has dramatically changed! People of my generation didn’t have those gadgets or even computers to play with. We didn’t have internet or mobile phones. But still, we were happy. Probably even happier than today :P. This post is just to reminisce about the good old days before the social media- and gadget-era πŸ™‚

How did I spend my free time?

Teddy Bear

My most favorite toy was definitely my teddy bear! He’s the only one I used to sleep with β€” I actually couldn’t sleep without him! LOL. I used to bring him everywhere I went. My parents told me I lost my teddy bear during 1990 Hajj. I fell ill because of it! (!!!) We still lived in Mekkah at that time and my dad had to go all the way to Jeddah to find a similar version of it. You couldn’t find any dolls in Mekkah at that time. He found a similar one and this was the one I still remember til this very day. I started to abandon my teddy bear as soon as my little brother, Aiman, was born. Not sure why! I think my mom threw away my teddy bear during the time we moved to a different house.

The brown teddy bear was my teddy bear! :)


Like any girls, I loved playing with Barbie. I didn’t have the original Barbie though. We couldn’t afford the original one, which was quite expensive, because I would buy more than one Barbie dolls. But still, I was happy enough to have those Barbie-looking dolls. My mom used to make some clothes for these dolls. I would play with them for hours! My childhood friend, Anne, would come to play with me (or I would come to her house to play with her original Barbie’s… hehehe).

Some parents refuse to buy Barbie for their children, because they’re afraid that their children will attempt to emulate her. As far as I remember, I didn’t have a slight attempt to imitate her. It never occurred to me that I would ever see her as a role model. I just loved playing with her. That’s all. Perhaps this was because I was not influenced by the image portrayed on TV. The only thing I watched on TV was Tom & Jerry and other animal or hero cartoons (which got nothing to do with beauty or anything like that). I rarely watched Disney princess-like movies (I watched them at my friend’s house. We didn’t have them at ours). I got a feeling that my parents discouraged having these Disney cartoons in our house. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions that my parents ever made.

I have to say, Saudi government also did a great job of selecting which cartoons were worth to be watched by children!!! (Note that we didn’t have satellite TV back then. So the only thing we watched was the two Saudi channels)


I used to build a big tent out of sheets of blankets inside my room (which was also my sister’s room too). I tied them by the door, on the chairs, desk, and on any strong objects I could find. My whole room was covered with these blankets β€” or tents β€” and I would pretend as if I was camping in a forest. I would bring my teddy bear, Barbie’s, and other dolls inside these tents. Sometimes my sister (who used to follow whatever I did) joined me. I loved playing the camping game! πŸ˜€ After the game, I had to tidy my room up and fold those blankets again, otherwise I would get into trouble πŸ˜›

Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze was a popular British game show aired on Saudi Channel 2. It was one of my favorite TV shows at that time! It was very fun to watch each team playing various games in different settings (or so-called zones). The final challenge of the game was entering the Crystal Dome,  as shown in this picture:

The teams had to enter this big Crystal Dome to collect as many “gold tokens”. The tokens were made of foil and were blown around from the fan below the dome β€” and the team had to catch these tokens and collect a minimum number of tokens in order to win. Here’s the video if you want to have a look on how it actually works:

Inspired by this game, I recreated the “Crystal Dome”. Well, I didn’t create the Dome itself, of course. But I liked the idea of blowing the tokens and catching them as many as I could. So, when my friends came over, we used to play this game. We cut out papers to make them as big as a paper money. Then one of us would take turn of climbing on top of my wardrobe (which was quite high). The person who was on the top had to “blow” or throw these papers down. We also put a big fan so that they were blown. The rest of us had to collect them. The one who could collect the most was of course the winner! Hahahaha. Creative enough? πŸ™‚

Riding a Bike

I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood where we used to live. I used to do that almost every afternoon after school. This was the time when I also played with other Arab neighbors. The thing I remember about them was that they always wanted to decide everything. They wanted to control everything. Other children had to follow their lead. It annoyed the hell out of me haha. Anyway, I stopped riding my bike right after a religious police screamed at me for not wearing an abaya. I think I was around 13-15 years old. Riding a bike with an abaya on is too troublesome. So I decided not to play outside the house anymore.


I had a cooking/kitchen set (as shown in the picture above) and I also loved playing with it. I wonder why cooking is not my favorite activities these days :P. Well, eating is!


Every weekend, my family and I used to go to Obhur (which is part of the Red Sea) to swim. Some of my childhood friends joined us too. We would stay there until the afternoon and had lunch together afterwards. When I got a little older, my dad became so busy that we didn’t have time to do it every weekend. So we would do it every year instead. We would rent a cottage for a night and stayed there. When I was in Junior High School, I used to also go to a women-only sport club nearby to swim with some friends. I did that every weekend and I loved it! I remember swimming was the only sport I enjoyed doing. Ever since I put on hijab, I became too lazy to swim despite the fact that I had a swimming pool in my apartment in Brisbane.


By the time I reached the age of 13, I no longer played the same game I used to play when I was much younger. So I tried to find something else to make myself entertained. I began doing a correspondence. The idea came from one of teen magazines (I think it was Anita magazine). I sent my profile to them and they published it on the correspondence section. I began receiving letters from people in Indonesia.

After some time, one of the penpals introduced me to a “worldwide” correspondence. The idea was that, she sent me a so-called penpal book. This small book was filled with names and addresses of people who had received it. The last person who got the book (who could fill it on the last page) had to return it back to the book’s owner. Those who filled the book were also allowed to send letters to some people in that book to make some friends. It was just a great idea :).

I had hundreds of penpals around the world by the time I was in Junior High School. It was really fun and it was really great to practice and improve my English. Every month I got at least 100 letters to be replied. I remember the person who worked at the post office looked always pissed off every time I went there. Because he knew I would cheat. I would put a 50 halalah (cents) stamp on each envelope, instead of a 100 halalah (or 1 Saudi Riyal). That’s one of the ways to reduce the expenses my dad had to endure for my correspondence activities. Sometimes I would ask some penpals to return my stamps, so that I could wash and reuse them again.

I stopped corresponding by the time I went to High School in Indonesia. I didn’t have much time to write anymore (as we had a 9am-to-10pm activity every day). I remember I still received some letters (delivered to my Saudi address) when I was in Australia!


My first exposure with a computer was when my dad first bought a PC with a DOS in it. I think it was around 1993. There were some games in it, but I didn’t remember playing them (or maybe I didn’t like them). I remember there was a Qur’an software which I used it to play some short Surahs. I memorized Surah Abasa from this software.

We got an Internet when I was in Junior High School (around 1997). I think I was one of the first few people in class who had an access to the Internet at that time. The first thing I did when I had an Internet access was to create a Yahoo! email (which I still use until today) and check out Leonardo DiCaprio’s and Mariah Carey’s websites!! LOL. I was a huge fan of them. I used to have their posters all over my room.

But Internet at that time was not too huge. I couldn’t do much with it anyway (slow dial-up connection, anyone?). All I could do was chatting or browsing. But it definitely didn’t take more than an hour. After few years of knowing the Internet, I had the opportunity to create my own personal website using Geocities. Creating a website has become my favorite thing ever since! I’ve been learning everything from scratch. From building it using Geocities’ web builder, Microsoft FrontPage editor, to manually writing HTML and CSS codes. From a static website to a dynamic one. Everything was self-taught!

Video Games

I didn’t have video games during my childhood. My parents never allowed my sister and I to have one (but somehow this rule was relaxed with my brother…). The only way I could play video games was in my friend Anne’s house. I used to play Nintendo’s Mario Bros and Sega’s Sonic. That only happened few times a month. Hehehe.

Oh the good old days!!! πŸ™‚

Parenting 101: Rules

I was so happy when I found this parenting blog. Many parenting-related websites that I found did not suit me, but this one was something different. Sadly to say, there aren’t that many posts you can find there, but I greatly enjoy reading all of them! Cynthia, the blog owner, really knows how to tell stories and write them! Anyway…

One thing I like about her approach on how to parent is how she handled things without starting confrontations with her daughter Maia. Many parents set the I-am-right-and-you-have-to-obey-me and I-am-right-and-you-shouldn’t-ask-why-or-argue-about-it kind of rules. That’s probably the fastest way to handle it and get things done real quick. But I would agree more on her approach, by letting the kids violate the rule and learn the lesson by themselves.

When Maia insisted on not taking a bath and not sleeping early, Cynthia would let her do it. Eventually, she found out after few days that although she’s not smelly, she scratched her head all the time and felt so itchy. That’s when she understood that she had to take a shower everyday and no questions being asked anymore. The same thing with sleeping early, Cynthia told Maia that she would be responsible for it if she missed school (i.e. she would need to go to the head of school herself and Cynthia would not write an excuse letter for her). As expected, Maia missed her school. The next time Cynthia told her to go to bed, she went to bed straight away. No plea. No discussion. Nothing.

This is not an easy approach, I agree. It requires a lot of patient (and patient has never been in my department β€” I guess a bugis blood is to be blamed haha). When you disagree with your children, you would argue why they had to do it and they would argue you back. So it’s an endless journey, one of them β€” either the parents or the kids β€” need to give up. Eventually, you need to let the kids know why they need to obey your rules, instead of saying "Obey me, stop asking why!" or screaming or name-calling or punishing them.

I believe there is a reason in everything. But not every reason is "reasonable" enough to the kids. That’s why they tend to break the rules. But when they understand the consequences of not doing them, they tend to try to obey the rules. I have to agree with Cynthia, parents need to handle everything creatively if they want to avoid the shouting, screaming, and forcing. They need to present as many reasons as they can β€” creatively β€” to ensure the kids understand and satisfy with it.

Cynthia does have 5 rules set that were unbreakable. But these rules were strictly applied not only to her daughter, but the rest of the members in the house. That means, she and her husband had to conform to these rules as well. Parents are their role models, so when exceptions are made to the kid alone, they tend to break the rules. Simple things like, limiting the kids to watching TV maximum 2 hours a day β€” that needs to be obeyed by the parents too! If they want the kids to do what they expect, parents need to change their lifestyle and behavior.

But can everything be done using this approach? I’m actually not sure. Definitely, as a parent, there are certain things that you want your kids to do. Take for example: praying. What kind of argument would you give to the kids if they refuse to pray? Tell them that God would be angry? Tell them about the consequences in the hereafter? It definitely won’t work, simply because they can’t see the danger of not doing it now. Well, for me, the best solution would be to instill this ritual early on. Praying together rather than individually and setting it as an unbreakable rule for the whole family would work, I think. And of course, providing a good base on religious knowledge to the kids is important!That’s what I have in mind. That’s what I’ve observed or experienced. Clearly, I still have a lot of things to learn! πŸ™‚

Parenting 101: Praising

* I decided to post the series of Parenting 101 that I found through the stuff I read (especially on Twitter), so that I can refer to it again when the time comes πŸ™‚

Research study shows that praising children for their brain and intelligence can have adverse effects on them, especially with regards to their academic achievement. These so-called fixed-mindset children tend to:

  • Consider failure as a result of intrinsic factor, i.e. their intelligence. Therefore they tend to think that failure is beyond their control.
  • Put an extra emphasis on being smart and “looking” smart rather than trying as hard as they can (and learn from their success or failure)
  • Be more reluctant to make efforts and attempts, and to learn from their past mistakes or failure.

So what’s the solution?

Rather than praising children for being smart, parents should have praised them for working hard. On the successful completion of a test, parents should not have said, “I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart.” They should have said, “I’m so proud of you. You must have really studied hard.” Big difference. This appeals to your child’s controllable effort rather than to mysterious, unchangeable talent. It’s called “growth mindset” praise.

More than 30 years of study show that children raised in growth-mindset homes consistently outscore their fixed-mindset peers in academic achievement. For example, kids regularly praised for effort solve 50 to 60 percent more hard math problems than kids praised for intelligence. Because these growth-mindset kids believe mistakes occur from of lack of effort, not from a lack of ability, the kids know exactly how to remedy mistakes: simply apply more effort.

With regards to praising, I also have to agree with Nouman Ali Khan that praising someone (anyone, not only kids) boosts their ego. It does more harm than good, although I admit I praise people without me realizing hahaha… I have to be more careful next time!


Parenting & Favoritism

I stumbled upon an interesting post titled Mom Confession: I Think I Love My Son Just a Little Bit More. Although I may not agree with her approach by publishing it online (what if her daughter read it in few years time?!), it is quite interesting, because she had the courage to say it. All this time I always wonder, how can you treat your children equally? How can you equally love them with all your heart? It’s surely not easy and it reminded me of my childhood, actually.

When I was around 8-15 years old, I used to be so jealous of my sister, because I used to think that my mom loved her more than me. I did tell my mom about it and (of course) she said she loved and treated us equally. But after I went to high school, I realized that I was indeed the source of the problem. I was a rebellious kid, very hard to control, and often got scolded (you can see how messed up the adult Amalia is right?! hahahaha). My sister, on the other hand, never got scolded, because she almost always followed whatever rules or orders that were given to her. She was very quiet and lovable. And you know the stupid rule of "you are older, so you have to give your younger sister the chance"? I hated that. It’s so unfair. I always got scolded and I had to give up whatever things I wanted to do. LOL πŸ˜›

This parenting stuff is veeery interesting. The thing I hate about it is that you can’t really "practice" it. You practice and at the same time jump into it. And the fact that every child is different makes it even more interesting and challenging. So things that work out with your first child may not work out with the second one.

I know what you’re thinking, "it’s about time". Don’t ever bring that topic up!! πŸ˜›

Changing Education Paradigms

Last March, I wrote about Sir Ken Robinson who is the world-renowned education and creativity expert. I watched his talks on TED and YouTube and I actually really like some of his brilliant views on education.

One thing he said about the current education system is that it is "modeled on the interests of industrialism and the image of it". For example, schools are still organized on factory lines: ringing bells, separate facilities, and specializations into separate subjects. Children are also educated by batches. They are put into the system by age group (a great analogy for products grouped by the date of manufacture), when in fact some children of the same age perform better than the rest of the group. Some of them are also flourished when they work in smaller groups, large groups, or even alone. Children are not like products, in which they are the same. They have different capabilities. When products do not pass the standardized tests, they are destroyed or be sold for cheaper price. But we can’t do the same thing to these children. Some children perform better in some disciplines than the others. And what’s the used of these tests or exams? Why is getting high grades the most important thing in this world? (I still see most of job advertisements in Indonesia requiring future employees to have certain minimum grades. How sad!)

Sir Robinson said: "if you are interested in the model of education, you don’t start from the production line mentality." πŸ™‚ We don’t need a reform in our education system. But we certainly need to transform the system.

Schools Kill Creativity

Ken Robinson gave an interesting and funny talk at TED. In his opinion, schools nowadays kill our creativity and the creativity of many children. But, in what way?

As all of us may know, kids are not frightened of being wrong. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” said Robinson. But the problem is that: how can they remain to be an “artist” as they grow up? Most children have lost their capacity as they grow older; and as a result, they have become so scared of being wrong. Because this is what schools nowadays teach us about. They have been teaching us that mistakes are the worst thing that we can do. That we can’t make mistakes. We are pressured. And therefore, we try so hard to avoid them. The result is that: schools educate us out of our creativity.

Education system around the world has been created and influenced to meet the needs of industrialism. The most useful subjects for work are definitely at the top: science, maths, etc. People are discouraged to take their path to music or arts merely because of the unpromising job that they would get. But the thing is that different people have different ability. They have different talents. Don’t they have to do something that they really like? Why do we have to kill their creativity and talents when those things are probably the only things they have?

Not to mention the so called “academic inflation” which indicates the whole structure of our education system is shifting beyond our ability and capacity. Years ago, having a high school diploma was enough to get a decent job. But this was quickly shifted to having a minimum of bachelor degree. Nowadays, masters degree is important and will become a necessity in few years time (even now!). I can imagine that there will be time when probably PhD is gonna take the lead. πŸ™

One interesting thing that Robinson said is this: we start to teach children from the waist up as they grow up. We teach them how to walk. Dance. Draw. Talk. Then we focus on their heads; and eventually to one side of the head. This is so true! Education has become sooooo focused on the brain, not creativity. High marks are important. But producing the most beautiful and creative work of art is less important. How come we don’t value creativity? How can we come up with something original and new when our education itself doesn’t support this? How can we see the future? πŸ™‚