Nursing Mom’s Food For Thoughts


12 – 15 years ago the term BREASTFEEDING was not a cool word mothers want to associate themselves with, here in Malaysia. It simply was NOT chic to say you nurse your baby. In fact, I started breastfeeding feeling dejected because the nurse at the hospital from where I gave birth to my first son, Cheeky Koko, now 12, took one mean glance at the miserable 1 oz breast milk I managed to pump after hoarding the hospital pump for 2.5 hours at Day 4 postnatal (we have readmitted to treat Cheeky koko’s jaundice) and declared me a non-productive failure.

At home most visiting relatives told me I was starving my baby because he was crying to be fed every one to two hours. “He must be hungry because you don’t have enough milk!” was the most common comments because they got used to seeing placid, gentle babies who were formula fed and slept through 3 to 4 hours per stretch of nap time.

If there was only one good thing about me, it must be that I was courageous (and rebellious) in my love for my baby enough to prove them wrong. I embarked on a journey buying just about every nursing books on the book shelf and reading up just about every breastfeeding website information there were to know on what to do and how to do it right. Once I mastered the arts and loving every minute of it, I decided to share the knowledge with all the new breastfeeding moms out there who felt the failure as I did. With a writer friend we started a breastfeeding support forum that went on to be one of the most vocal groups to advocate nursing in Malaysia. From then I have been asked to visit some new moms we got to know during their first days in the journey to show them how to latch on right and basically give them the emotional support they need as they learn to give the best nature has intended to their babies.

Baby B

Baby B in action… Nutritional needs of a mom is an important aspect of the breastfeeding journey, especially when one nurses beyond the first year.

Some moms are a natural when it comes to breastfeeding their newborns and their babies come naturally adapted to “working” at this beautiful act with just the perfect latch and calm personality and without what is commonly known as the newborn tongue cut, or feeling too drowsy to nurse and etc, which could frustrate and make a new mom feels easily tired out at even trying further.

While I am no longer able to contribute in the online group due to my work commitment, I have continued to encourage friends, relatives, colleagues to trust in their maternal ability to nurse naturally in the last 7-8 years. Something that I always observe that is a major hurdle to breastfeeding among Asian moms is how traditional values can crash with the basic dietary needs of a nursing mom.

When I still had the loving support of my mother in law (who now resides in Heaven), she would gently and lovingly remind me not to drink too much plain cold water because I was supposed to be in confinement. Water is too “cold” for a new mom. But because I was breastfeeding, I was guzzling down 3.5L water everyday! I felt so thirsty I swear I could drink up a whole water tank! And that was on top of the 2L or so of the sweet red dates soups that I drank daily. The only thing I didn’t drink was those supplementary wines like what most moms would do because I just couldn’t take its bitter taste.

As I am also very Westernised in my health approach (thanks to my own mom who worked close to 30 years in the health field), I believe that there are certain health benefits to proper dietary supplementation for nursing mothers. It is in fact well-documented in the scientific literature that a mother’s diet (and her overall nutritional status) can influence the vitamin, mineral, and the essential fatty acid (EPA and DHA) composition of her breast milk, all of which impacts the overall nutritional quality of the breast milk, and ultimately the overall health of the breastfed infant.

In my case, I continued to take my pregnant multivitamins, and on alternate days, supplemented with colostrum supplement (a year after giving birth), fish oil, organic spirulina and milk alternative such as organic oat milk. And when I got sick, I took antioxidant supplements to get well faster and naturally.

Of course, all mothers intending to nurse should always consult with their own doctors about supplementing their own nutritional needs. Special thanks to Seven Seas Malaysia for sharing with me these findings when I told them that I was going to write an entry about the importance of eating well for nursing mothers:

1. Journal Title: Fatty acid composition in maternal milk and plasma during supplementation with cod liver oil

Cod liver oil influences the amount of essential fatty acids in mothers’ breast milk. Supplementation of lactating mothers with even small amounts of cod liver oil promotes increased DHA concentration in breast milk. Also, the amount of EPA in breast milk increased in all the supplemented groups.

2. Journal Title: The effect of maternal supplementation with linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids on the fat composition and content of human milk: a placebo-controlled trial.

Total fat content and therefore total energy content and the content of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in milk are known to decline with prolonged breast feeding. In a placebo-controlled study a variety of evening primrose oil rich in linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids, or a matching placebo were given to 39 women for a period of 8 months starting between the 2nd and 6th months of lactation. Total fat and EFA contents of the milk declined in the placebo group but rose in the primrose oil supplemented group. A surprisingly high proportion of the supplemented dietary fatty acids could be accounted for by appearance in the milk.

3. Journal Title: A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fish oil supplementation in late pregnancy and early lactation on the n-3 fatty acid content in human breast milk.

Dietary supplementation from week 30 of gestation and onward more than tripled the LCPUFA content in early breast milk; supplementation limited to pregnancy only was much less effective.

4. Journal Title: Antioxidant capacity of human milk

Studies have reported the effect of maternal dietary vitamin intakes and vitamin supplementation on human milk, showing that higher intakes results in a higher concentration of the respective vitamin in milk.

Because I am a working mother who eats out a lot, I don’t always have the convenience and much choice in choosing to eat healthy food always, supplement was also a necessity for my own well-being.

It’s also important to note that besides supplementing, a nursing mom must clock in sufficient good-quality sleep, especially because being a mother can be such a tiring and stressful job. In order to nurse well, do keep yourself hydrated sufficiently – think of your body as the ultimate milk machine, you just need to feed it well with the right ingredients such as water, protein, vitamins, fruits, vegetables, add in good emotional well-being and a good night rest, pretty much nothing else can defeat you!

Despite the initial doubts and hurdles, I went on to nurse all three kids spanning the last 12 years, each baby for 2 to 2.5 years of extended breastfeeding. At the end of the day, I reckon I couldn’t have done it all without the most important ingredients of all — the tremendous love and support I got from Daddy Joe, my mom and also my sister in law, Cathy.

May you believe in what you are capable of as a mother and do it fearlessly anyway and may you live each moment count. Happy breastfeeding, moomies!

Aging Thoughts


There is a valid reason I haven’t visited my own blog for some time now. I have clocked in so many late nights at work in the last few weeks that aging and I got along famously. It used to be that I’d work a few late nights in a row and bounced right back after a cuppa but now it has been two cuppa and one nice rubdown at the soothing hands of my masseur and I still look frazzled.

As I come to the stark realisation that my body is no longer as enthusiastic as my mind and age is catching up inside, outside and everywhere, I just have to come up with my own list of…

You Know You Are Getting Older When:

1) You cut down half the amount of rice you consume at lunch but can still feel this hideous thing called FAT creepily swarm around your midsection even when you are so focused on typing on your keyboard.

2) At the drug store’s beauty shelve where you used to shop for anti-shine skincare for your skin that would break-out once a while in your 20s, you now shop DESPERATELY for anti-aging skincare for a very parched skin that just won’t shine no matter what you put on.

3) The annual visit to the Gynae is no longer about finding out about whether you are pregnant (again). He tells you bluntly that accidental pregnancy rarely happens for YOUR AGE. It’s also a necessity to go through the dreaded Mammogram and Pap Smear just to find out that you have survived another year of being disease-free.

4) You go shopping at your usual local fashions store and secretly curse the fashions buyer for having the audacity of promoting clothes meant for Kate Moss! You ask the store manager why the clothes there are getting smaller and instead of calling you Miss, she politely refers you as Ma’am and point you to a more “womanly” fashions store next to hers which you had sworn off at one point when you were younger that you would never wear THESE clothes lest you get called an Aunty. But sugar, what was once baggy, “womanly” clothes there at the “womanly” store now fit you like a glove!

5) The optician insists that your eye sight is not getting better just because you eat tonnes of carrots or goji berries everyday. You’d merely move from having near-sightedness to presbyopia.

6) You actually tune in to a local radio station that only blasts slow and easy songs from the 80s and 90s and think these are classics that come from a time when people really know what good music should sound like. You don’t really get what’s all the hypes surrounding One Direction or the song about what the fox says. Like hello, who cares what a fox says.

7) Instead of the casual, gentle and calm manner with which your doc advises you to take up an exercise AT LEAST three days a week, he suddenly sounds like a broken record that presses on the URGENCY of you doing any moderate form of exercise five days a week.

8) You put on your working pants and it feels so snug around the hips that you FINALLY believe the reading on your digital weighing scale (after complaining to your spouse that it has malfunctioned for over one year).

9) You and a bunch of younger colleagues go for a lunch date and you have almost finished chomping down half of your food when all these young earthlings ever did in the last five minutes were taking photos of their food to upload onto their Instagram and Facebook FIRST.

10) You start lecturing your kids and younger staff with these words, “When I was your age…” or, “During my time…”. Over and over again.

Not saying that I am very old or feel old all the time but I am just going to excuse myself for a little while as I need every minute from now on to get on some anti-aging secrets books and lifestyle changes to get back to my usual highs.

Ultimately laughter is the best medicine. May we live and make everyday count — let NOT our age define us. Stay healthy and jovial as always. Cheers!

The Cold Never Bothered Them Anyway


“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway”

peekaboo

I sang along when my ray of sunshine Pumpkin Mei-Mei belted out her favourite song from “Frozen” the movie as we drove to our favourite park. The kids hopped out of the car and it turned into a scenario of a papa and mama geese chasing their wild goslings that were headed towards their favourite destination of choice — the playground. Never mind that the kids were running so fast that we almost couldn’t catch up with all of them, except for Baby B who got so excited over all the running around that we managed to scoop him up in a jiff, the rest of the park goers pretty much smiled at our family’s silly antics on the jogging track.

Beaming with pride as he watched Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei outran the other kids on the jogging tracks, Daddy Joe said, “I think my kids inherited my sporty genes. Look at their calves muscles, their strides, forms, the pace they pick up and the way they run, those are the stuff good runners are made of!”

“Goodness, they are just running the way other kids run, all over the place, laughing and having fun, darling! If you think they are athletes in the making, I would be a celebrity chef just by knowing how to add a fried egg over my instant noodles!” I said with a smile and continued, “But yes sure, you can get credit for whatever little sporty genes and DNA that are surely from your side of the family because I have never outrun anyone in my lifetime.”

Cold bugs be gone, let my kids grow strong and healthy!

Cold bugs be gone, let my kids grow strong and healthy!

“I am taking Cheeky Koko to his first 30km road biking next Wednesday anyway,” he said as we both watched baby B climbed up the stairs towards the slide.

“What? Are you crazy? He is only 12! Not that I think he is still a child therefore he cannot cycle for 30km but he hasn’t even done any shorter distance cycling before. May be you can start him off at 10km or 15km first?” Like a mother hen, I am over-protective, as always.

“Hey, he is good, darling, really, we went cycling around the block the other day and he was going very steady with his speed and followed through my instruction on staying close to the curbs,” Daddy Joe assured me, “and Pumpkin Mei-Mei could pick up badminton skills in just one session. These are confirmed my kids, man.”

“Right, your genes no doubt but I breastfed them for two years each, so that their good genes especially the sporty ones could be unleashed to run like a pro, hahaha…” the woman had to have her final say and the man laughed, because we always got into silly debates over whose legacy it was between the two of us that the kids inherited. The good legacy, that is.

“Darling, they are 12 and 10 now and even with all the wonderful benefit from the nursing years, they are to continue with good nutrition and suitable exercises to fully unleash my sporty genes.”

“Right. Your genes again!” I laughed, “But I am the one who buys them supplements!” The man was speechless. I really should have studied law. bike

Both Daddy Joe and I believe in extra nutritional boost for children from supplement because kids tend to pick up lots of germs and viruses from school and nursery. In a year they get some sick bugs here and there which are fairly nasty. Prevention is better than cure so every morning we repeat like a broken record to remind them to take their glass of juices that we blend right out of our kitchen’s juice machine before their breakfast. After a quick breakfast, we also give them a treat of Seven Seas Kids Fruit Gummies that they won’t resist at all, due to its yummy strawberry, blackcurrant and orange flavours, to start off their day in school.

Beyond its chewiness and yummy taste, the gummies boost Vitamin A, B6 and C for a healthy growth and development of children and is free from artificial colourings, flavourings, sweeteners and preservatives.

While I believe in getting all of our vital nutrition from good eating habit of a balanced diet, on school days 50% of my kids’ diets come from their own choice of food when they are in school and at their day care and I doubt there are much nutrition they get from the limited food choice they have from the canteen. The fact that the kids go to public schools and have contact with at least a thousand kids every day and often come back with sick bugs from time to is enough to send a working mom into a hyper-panic zone.

Seven Seas Kids Fruit Gummies come in 3 fruitilicious flavours

Seven Seas Kids Fruit Gummies come in 3 fruitilicious flavours

There are also only so much whole food one can eat and digest in order to get certain essential vitamins that hopefully do not get destroyed from food preparation and overheating from cooking.

According to Seven Seas Malaysia, a few vitamins are vital for healthy development of a child, such as:

Vitamin A — helps to maintain healthy eyes and skin. As an antioxidant, it also helps prevent damage to the cells, making it good for the overall well-being of the body.

Vitamin B6 — is good for the brain and is essential for blood to carry oxygen to the cells, tissues and organs of the body. It also helps to keep the immune system and nervous system healthy.

Vitamin C — is known to enhance the immune system to minimize incidences of children falling sick.  At the same time, it is also vital for ensuring health bones, teeth and gums in the growing years. 

Just then, Cheeky Koko climbed onto the top of the slide and jumped off it like a Tarzan.

“Haha, like a monkey, Hun, absolutely your genes!” I laughed it off.

Seven Seas Kids Fruit Gummies is available at all leading pharmacies nationwide. To make things even sweeter, Seven Seas Kids Fruit Gummies is also running a nationwide ‘Colour & Win’ contest now until 31st July 2014. You could let your child participate by colouring the Seven Seas Gummy Fruity Heroes on the contest form and stand a chance to win a Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 Lite/Kids or other goodies.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.sevenseas.com.my/index.php/promotion/

 

 

No Pain No Gain


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Family that eats together stays together!

Like a substitute baseball player waiting for my chance to score the first run for the team, I stepped onto the digital weighing scale wearing the broadest grin as if thousands of spectators each cheering and ready to pop the bottle of bubbly in their hands to celebrate my new found slenderness finally settle into a standstill silence as they watched the digital display stop unwillingly at the number that spoke of my new weight and… they went completely awe struck with dead silence.

WHAT?!! ONLY 1.5 kilogramme after ALL that sweat of walking, swimming and cycling in the last few months? My ego and motivation fell from Mount Kota Kinabalu-high to basement-low before I roared like a nut in my own room.

Oh WAIT, silly me! I was STILL wearing my wrist watch, wedding band and a aunty-ish broad hair band on me, of course! Now THAT explained why I did not reach my goal, ahahahah. OK just remove these extra and unnecessary accessories and I would have lost at least 5 kilogrammes! Life couldn’t get any better!

So I quickly took these stuff off, went to the bathroom to pee (cuz we don’t want to and shouldn’t overburden ourselves with gross weight. We are fishing for nett weight here because this is a crucial and defining life moment) and stepped onto the weighing scale again, expecting to see a good riddance of 5 kilogrammes from my former weight, but goodness, I had just gotten a nett reduction of 1.6 kilogrammes instead of FIVE!

Gasp. This can’t be happening … Oh wait, I need to tell Daddy Joe that we need to get a new digital weighing scale for the new year! It must have spoiled because it’s been with us for about five years now! May be the battery needs replacing already or may be… The kids have just done the impossible!

I jumped up to put on my clothes and summoned all three happiest little people into my bedroom like a CEO handling a major corporate crisis. “Speak now and no one gets hurt. Who has swapped the battery inside this weighing scale with may be one of the old batteries inside Baby B’s electronic toy?” I asked carefully. “Maaa, not me or Koko because we couldn’t reach Papa’s tool box inside the store room to get to the screw driver,” came the reply from the 10 years old daughter cum first defendant.

“Eh ga be leh siii da na ish kish” the 2 years old second defendant came out with his own gibberish reason, though we all had NO idea what he was saying nonetheless we resounded with “Oh ya, Baby B? Thanks darling!” In our bid to encourage him to talk.

“Ma, just what exactly is happening? You are NOT accusing us of doing something so tiring and full of labour just because we need new battery for our toys sometimes, right?” My smart 12 years old made complete sense – anything that required too much work just ain’t worthwhile for them to do when they’d rather go for a swim and cycle around during their spare time. I opened my eyes wide and inspected the battery panel. “Plus, plus, plus, Mama, we have tonnes of new battery in the cabinet and Papa has just changed the battery for this thing like a few months back.”

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One too many festivity and occasions turned my diet upside down!

“This CANNOT happen! You have seen mama walk like a nutcase every weekend… Well ALMOST every weekend around the park and I even do cycling and swimming every now and then but this machine says I have only lost 1.6kg from few months back til now!” I was in denial and rambled on like a defeated substitute player now.

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Yee Sang, my favourite yearly Chinese Salad.

“But we have one too many meals during the holidays, Mama… The Christmas dinner with grand Uncle, then Christmas lunch with Grandma, followed by New Year Eve dinner with Uncle Chris, then House-warming party at Uncle Wee’s home, I am so burbing just recalling all the food that had been stuffed inside my stomach!” Continued my eldest son, “oh, and Mama you had your company’s Chinese New Year dinner just the other day, some more tossing the Prosperity Yee Sang dish with all the Sashimi Salmon that I would have loved to have helped eat some, Mama!”

“Well, yah, sure I have eaten a lot these days… and gee, we have gotten a lot of junk food in our kitchen recently, haven’t we? We have gotten ourselves comfort food like ice-cream, banana chips, assorted peanuts, biscuits, chocolates and soft drinks for those movie nights and suppers!” Oh well, I am petrified but decided to come clean in front of the happiest little people because Daddy Joe are I are the ones who do the grocery and we haven’t taken charge at controlling the diet and the type of food that we feed ourselves and our kids. I feel like an enormous, earth-shaking TRUTH has been unveiled and I really need to do something about it.

What a family eats at home pretty much determines what a child chooses to eat daily when he or she grows up. How a family eats – if the food was enjoyed with a thanksgiving heart, peppered with great conversations and loving sharing gestures and the whole
positive culture and atmosphere of eating as a family has to start young and be cultivated right from young. It wasn’t about my weight and my effort to be healthier anymore; it was to do with a mother’s sense of responsibility of making sure that the kids have the healthiest lifestyle right from the beginning.

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Eat wisely live healthily — my new resolution for the family.

With that, this family has a new found corporate new year resolution to eat and live healthy, rise and shine early and make each trip to the grocery store an informed, decisive effort to stay out of junk food filled with preservative and unnecessary addictives. I am a true snacker but no pain no gain, we have an important goal to achieve in this family.

And the next round of taking my body weight? You bet it will come closer to the headline of GRACE.

Up Among The Stars


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Pumpkin Mei-Mei looked into the starry night and when she found the biggest, brightest of the stars, she closed her teary eyes and whispered into the night, “Ah Ma, I really miss you, thanks for taking care of me and Koko. You are gone now but I know you will always be up there watching over us and God will take good care of you from now on.” With that, we all echoed, “Good bye, Ah Ma!” into the stars as a form of closure for all of us. Slowly, Daddy Joe drove out of the parking next to the playground we have driven to earlier for stargazing.

The rest of that night sometime in October 2008 was as silent as the grave as we rode in the car heading home, each lost in his or her own long trail of thoughts of what had been the worst 3 months we had experienced for which the word loss existed. For weeks, I couldn’t look into Daddy Joe’s eyes without feeling the sorrow that was present all over his entire presence as he lost his dear mother to the cruelty of the big C.

My late mother-in-law or Ah Ma, as Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei used to call her affectionately as grandma in Hokkien, lost her battle to colorectal cancer at the age of 69, all within a short three months from diagnosis to her last breath in 2008.

It has been five years now whereby by God’s grace, we have moved on in life with a remarkable addition and the joy of the family Baby B, who would never get to know her as the doting grandma that she was, and we have also moved on in bringing closure to that chapter by moving to a newer, though smaller place across town that we now happily call home. I guess a big part of us wanted the fresh new start after dealing with the losses we felt at that point of our lives and moving on signified a promise fulfilled to my late mother-in-law who knew that we would soldier on our lives victoriously, for God, for her and for ourselves.

Just like her own children, my mother-in-law was a woman who hardly talked about anything – not what she had just bought at the wet market, not the conversations she had with her siblings during her trip back to her hometown in Kota Bharu, nor anything about those worrying signs of ill health she was experiencing even though she was staying with us.

When several distressing signs started to show up outwardly, such as when she started getting very angry and agitated easily or becoming more and more forgetful, we thought it was all part of a natural aging process. After all, this drastic outward deterioration didn’t take place very rampantly and wasn’t obvious to anyone, not even us. She was still a doting grandmother to the kids and she still cooked together with me on the weekend and somewhere in our messy kitchen, we shared many warm exchanges of our favourite family recipes and caring words with one another.

After one too many times of helping her to recover her misplaced wallet in the fridge and in her own cupboard, we decided that we would take her to see a doctor to diagnose for suspected dementia and to check if her high blood pressure were the culprits of her change in her personality. Before we could do that, one afternoon when I was away for my part-time work, our helper called me from home to inform that mother-in-law who had been having three days of fever had tripped in our living hall and could not get herself up from the floor. Daddy Joe and I rushed home from work and sent her to the hospital when we were told that her X-Ray test was showing what seemed to be cancerous cells in her bones. A few more lab tests and diagnosis later we were informed that she was having a 4th stage colorectal cancer that had spread into her bones and brain, which explained the sudden change in her mood and personality.

It was during this critical time that our helper went back to her home country in Indonesia and much of the caregiving job of mother-in-law were shouldered by Daddy Joe and me. Being a mother as well as having a mom who was once a nurse did prepare me well enough to care for an ailing person but I was not prepared for her emotional dependence on me during her down days when she would weep and at times got angry over her own disease. Somehow I managed to crack some jokes with her and comforted her as I took on the primary caregiver role of feeding, bathing and changing her daily and somehow in that short journey, we made up some lost time and our bond grew stronger, connected by the same love we have for her son, Daddy Joe. With Daddy Joe and his brother’s help, we managed to wheel her between the dining room, bathroom and her bedroom as a way for her to enjoy the company of her grandchildren. We really tried to make every effort to make her feel normal, much as the disease nor the eventual death were not normal in every sense of the word.

Her pain came in swiftly and unbearably furious at that stage of discovery. Looking back, we are glad that it didn’t last that long for her because not being able to do anything except for giving her our support, care and love as the cancer swiftly took away her body defence and bodily function in stages rendered us a sense of helplessness and sorrow that was extremely hard to bear. In the next three months or so, she was in and out of the government hospital for more assessment and eventually a final surgery was arranged to remove part of her colon as chemotherapy and radio therapy was really not an option anymore.

She never really got well after the surgery because the surgical wound could not heal and slowly we sensed she was giving up on fighting as she slipped into partial coma about a week after the surgery. We had her moved back to our home in early October so that she could have the comfort of being surrounded by her loved ones as she made the final passage to the last stretch of her life. One night just shortly after I sang her some prayer songs and whispered to her that we all loved her and that she had nothing more to worry about because her children have all grown up, she nodded slowly and fell into a deep sleep. Few hours later, she woke up to take a good last look at all of us once more, especially her sons, and left peacefully into eternity.

That night Daddy Joe endured yet another painful departure of someone so dear to him to cancer. 20 years ago when he and I were in college, we also lost his sister aged 15 then to a relapse of childhood leukemia.

Much as sad memories such as the death of a loved one leave much pain in life, they also teach us to appreciate life more and be less critical of all the imperfections and flaws of life. Cancer also is the ultimate test of one’s personal strength in that I was privileged to have come to discover that my late mother-in-law though was silent, was a strong and resilient fighter through her last journey in life.

As for us, the big C was a painful memory and rob us of those we loved but we had to learn to move on and live stronger and help those who may be undergoing the same journey. Daddy Joe and I have since been able to bless others by praying along with them and sharing about what we know about living well, alternative cancer treatment as well as our own experience of caring and supporting our loved ones whom we lost to cancer with the help of organisations such as NCSM, AXA AFFIN and Hospis Malaysia.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means of treating their cancers in the private hospitals, and this is where help is needed that can be provided by some of these organizations. AXA AFFIN for example, runs a cancer outreach campaign in collaboration with National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) to support cancer patients currently undergoing chemotherapy. By signing up the AXA 110 Cancer Care, AXA AFFIN offers early pay-out upon cancer diagnosis and 10 years of coverage in the event of cancer for the insured. The best part is that it will also help fund the chemotherapy daycare usage for those who can’t afford the expensive chemotherapy fight off the disease. Doing good while protecting yourself never came in a better package.

Hospis Malaysia, on the other hand, is a charitable organisation that offers professional Palliative Care to patients who are suffering from life-limiting illness, and who live within Klang Valley. Palliative care provides relief to patients suffering from a life-limiting illness, primarily through pain management and other symptom management. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains.

I realize that everyone’s life is a line that goes on in one direction that ends in the same eventuality of meeting our Maker one day. Sometimes the journey is a bed of roses and sometimes it’s a thorny path. But life can also teach us many things when we know how to care, love and support those we came to cross paths with. In loving memory of my late mother-in-law, I pray that as you read this, you will be blessed with a life well lived, and one that always seeks to love, help and forgive others. Last but not least, if you are battling a cancer right now, do know that there is a fighter in all of us and that God loves us enough that His mercy and grace will be more than sufficient as we trust in His healing from inside out.

Love and cheers to life.

Carpe Diem Parenting


It’s been a while since I have gotten that close to local celebrities. About an arm’s length, to be precise. The last time I was this close to any celebrity I was working for a fashion house and a few of them were invited to a fashion event the company was hosting. Lo and behold, some of these gorgeous superstar have morphed into the beautiful moms that they are now— Still gorgeous, still youthful (like how do they look so radiant and thin forever? Amazing!) and definitely fearless.

Supporting Friso Gold’s call toBe a G.U.T. Mom, which abbreviates ‘Growing Up Together’, Sazzy Falak, Belinda Chee, Putri Azalea Ramli and Low Ngai Yuen; have come together joining a group of like-minded Malaysian mothers who strongly believe in the importance of experiencing the growing up journey with their children.

Lending their glittery star presence to the launch were actress/model/TV host and proud mother to a 1-year-9-months-old girl, Belinda Chee; actress/TV host/entrepreneur and joyful mother to a pair of twins, Sazzy Falak; TV host/film producer/director of Kakiseni and mother of four children, Low Ngai Yuen.

Lending their glittery star presence to the launch were actress/model/TV host and proud mother to a 1-year-9-months-old girl, Belinda Chee; actress/TV host/entrepreneur and joyful mother to a pair of twins, Sazzy Falak; TV host/film producer/director of Kakiseni and mother of four children, Low Ngai Yuen.

That brought back memory of a well-intentioned lesson I learned from a cousin when Cheeky Koko was only four years old. We were invited to a home-cooked dinner by Daddy Joe’s uncle at 7.30pm one Wednesday night. I was an extremely busy working mama attached to a fashion house with an awful load of work and unpredictable meetings that often piled up last minute. On that night, I knew I was not going to be able to make it on time because a conference call with a US principal was scheduled at 8pm. Even if the call was to last only for 20 minutes, there was still the KL traffic jams to beat. There was also the email to draft to update my boss on what key issues were discussed with the principal right after the call.

I finally settled work and stepped off the office as one of the last few busy bees and sped on my way to his uncle’s suburb home in PJ and must have looked like my mind was scattered everywhere except for the dining room as I reached there 9.15pm looking every bit disconcerted and exhausted. After a lonely dinner (since everyone had finished theirs and were enjoying their coffee and desserts already), Daddy Joe’s cousin (a paediatrician) who was visiting from the UK asked if I’d always worked until that late that my kids went to bed way past bed time because in the UK, children went to bed at 8pm!

I came to know that Friso Gold is a premium milk powder fully imported from Holland! It is specially-formulated with Frisoshield, which contains a blend of nutrients, such as GOS, Zinc, Vitamins D and B6 and Selenium that are important for a child’s natural body resistance.

I came to know that Friso Gold is a premium milk powder fully imported from Holland! It is specially-formulated with Frisoshield, which contains a blend of nutrients, such as GOS, Zinc, Vitamins D and B6 and Selenium that are important for a child’s natural body resistance.

8pm!!!! Seriously??? At 8pm I would still be stuck in the office working on the press release for the next seasonal launch! Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei only went to bed at 10pm because this mama who had missed them dearly the entire day being at work wanted to catch up and play with them when she reached home around 9pm every night!

I couldn’t possibly forget what came next through the mail box a few days later: A handwritten letter from the concerned cousin straight off the plane as she was flying back to the UK where she shared how it was medically proven that a child’s characters were pretty much shaped and moulded in the first five years of his life. In other words, I had only a small window of the first formative five years to influence my child’s character before his personality, moral values and character are influenced by the outside world. Not sure if it was because of the rain that night but I was drenched with parenting guilt so deep.

I snapped out of that old, workaholic self and quickly put into place the change I wanted for my kids. I didn’t quit my job because we still had all the bills to pay, but I did the next best thing I could: I changed my work arrangement from full time to part time with the same company. Working only three work days a week, I then had more time to spend with the two little happiest people for a good two years. I seized the day and made everyday count.

Looking back, as a family, it was a much-welcomed and timely change as we learned to slow down and prioritised what mattered most and as a result of this change, we had the time to smell the flowers together along the way!

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Celebrity moms Sassy Falak and Belinda Chee are calling for all Malaysian moms to answer Friso Gold’s call for action to Be A G.U.T. Mom today by downloading a “Be A G.U.T Mom” profile badge for your facebook at Friso Gold Malaysia Facebook page.

Anja Henze, Marketing Director of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad which markets Friso Gold said, “at Friso Gold, we believe that the journey of growing up is one of life’s most unique experiences; as such, we encourage both parents and children to embrace these experiences and share the precious moments of growing up together. In a world

where human contact and interaction is gradually being replaced by technology, it is important for mother and child to share a bond that can only be strengthened by creating memorable experiences together”.

Anja Henze, Marketing Director of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad which markets Friso Gold is flanked by two gorgeous mom-ambassadors of Friso Gold, Sazzy Falak on her left and Belinda Chee on her right, as they present the new pack of Friso Gold at the launch.

Anja Henze, Marketing Director of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad which markets Friso Gold is flanked by two gorgeous mom-ambassadors of Friso Gold, Sazzy Falak on her left and Belinda Chee on her right, as they present the new pack of Friso Gold at the launch.

“Friso Gold helps strengthen children from the inside to support their growth and development, so that they are able to explore, play and learn, allowing them to experience the priceless journey of growing up together with mommy,” she continued. As an act of support to Friso Gold’s movement, all mothers at the launch event including the celebrity moms, donned on the “Be a G.U.T. Mom” badge, pledging their commitment and support. Moms who are interested to pledge your commitment and support to “Be a G.U.T. Mom” movement can go to Friso Gold Malaysia Facebook at here to download this profile badge.

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The not-so-glamourous mom i.e. yours truly donning a “Be a G.U.T. Mom” profile badge on my facebook profile picture. Are you gutsy enough to join me in being a Friso Gold G.U.T. Mom? :)

Studies have shown that a child develops best through experiences and discoveries. A mother’s role is to encourage her children by joining them to explore and discover the world together. There will be times when children may stumble and fall, but allowing them to learn while holding their hands and cheering them on is the best support a mother can provide along the way.

Striking the balance between work and family is never an easy task. However I believe that choice is always in our hand. Looking back, I am so glad that I seized the day to prioritise motherhood for the kiddos during their tender growing up years. I have never regretted the choice I made then because looking at the bond between the kids and myself now, I know I did good in that compartment. Most importantly I was with them together through the journey.

Carpe Diem, fellow moms!

Waist Matters


It was casual Friday – One of my lady bosses in her early 50s came to work dressed in her brand new jeans she bought from a recent trip to the US paired with a classic white polo tee. A few of us who were all making coffee in the pantry while sharing our daily dose of grind with one another complimented her over the absolutely amazing fit of her jeans that just made her look really good.

In her usual dash of confidence, she proudly told us that her pair of jeans was actually in a 26 inches-size, something she achieved effortlessly by playing badminton twice a week.

A wh… What? 26 inches? Like, really? I don’t think I was ever anything below 28 inches, even during my college years. For years after having the kids one after the other in a span of a decade, I tell myself that being a little bit fat is a form of art. Wasn’t it not too long ago that women were deemed beautiful being a little plump? A remarkable blessing that means you actually have love in your life. I don’t even want to know what my waistline is now but at the back of my mind I suspect it has a life of its own and a motto to keep expanding happily. I even blame whoever wrote the amazing story of Eat, Pray, Love and made it into a mega bucks movie is to be blamed for my love of good food.

Heck, the last time a measuring tape actually stood a chance to get close to me was when Cheeky Koko suddenly got hold of one at the IKEA store and exclaimed in a bewildered tone in front of at least four strangers that ‘Wow, Mom, you have such a HUGE backside! Wow, (AGAIN he said, as if he was genuinely impressed) look mom, the two ends of this tape can’t even meet around your hips!’.

Any mom who survives humongous humiliations such as this totally deserves a medal. Yes, I had to hold on to one of the sales bins to make sure that I wasn’t going to pass out from this acute attack on my ego. I also did try so very desperately to hide my head under the pile of cushions on sale but then realized that all I had surrounding my pathetic state of self consciousness were a few standing IKEA mirrors which seemed to magnify my motherly curve out of its usual proportion.

The long awkward silence eventually broke when all four random, furniture-shopping strangers gave me a knowing smile as if to comfort my crushing ego that kids always say the darnest things, but then, I wasn’t so sure about the smirks at the corner of their mouths after I caught them trying to size up my hips where the tape was still being held up by my boy.
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Gee, I just absolutely adore my kid’s sense of humour, inappropriately timed as it sometimes would take place. But that 26″ waist of my boss did give me a real slap in my butts along with my self-esteem. Short of making it a mandatory weekly regime for the family, I dragged a half-asleep Daddy Joe and the three not-so-enthusiastic little people into a morning walk with me at 8am one Saturday armed with a stroller and a bottle of water for the whole family.
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Like a crazy marching commando, I barked out motivations and long lectures about the importance of staying fit only to be greeted with annoying complaints from two pre-teens who had everything from proverbs, music to growing pain theory to debate with me all through the whole morning and all through the hilly path.
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Despite the endless bouts of complaints, the numbing ‘are we done yet?’ questions and a bucket of sweats, we got through our family walk that sunny morning just fine. I suppose the fresh air, the curious monkeys sitting on the tree branches, the gorgeous fallen leaves and troops of strong mountain bikers who kept praising our kids did help a lot.

Although the happy small set didn’t even dare to commit into a family walk again next week, the week after next and the months that follow, this mama firmly believes that her scheme to walk herself to a 26′ waist won’t be too far fetched either If she could convince herself that shopping does not count as an exercise and then really, really, really gets into walking at least once or twice a week. Watch this space for her progress after a month. 🙂

Go Pink!


I haven’t been very active socially for about a month already. Not that I am anti-social in any sense. I am just inactive on my personal Facebook. Being busy with work is one, being under the weather no thanks to the repeated visit of haze is two and then there is always all the lovely weddings and the birth of a few babies among my friends in the last stretch of the year that just makes my heart filled to the brim with a kind of tender nostalgia.

But perhaps deep down there is also another reason that had just put this working mom on some kind of an emotional rollercoaster of late.

Last month an ex-colleague posted an update of her profile picture. I admire her posting an update because I am one of those lazy FB-ians who hardly ever have anything interesting to update or share on my FB and yet I find great joy in reading what others share about their lives, on a weekly basis when I am free which usually means my private me-time in the bathroom – the only place in the little apartment we live that is absolutely free of one of my kids demanding a piece of me.

Anyway, the black and white photo shows this friend in her much thinner body frame flashing a courageous smile on her beautiful face and donning a fashionable scarf on her newly bald head, holding the hand of her devoted husband who couldn’t hide a tinge of sadness from the corner of his eyes despite his loving and assuring smile

Go Pink In October!

Go Pink In October!


I didn’t want to say the wrong thing before I found out what happened but reading the first few comments from her family members and friends on FB just confirmed my fear: that she was battling a cancer. A few exchange of emails later, I discovered that she was battling breast cancer, the same type that my mother has survived and conquered a few years ago.

In spite of her circumstances, she chooses to fight tooth and nail against her cancer for the love of her kids and the faithful support and love from her husband. While her cancer is discovered at a much earlier stage than my mother, she has undergone mastectomy and is currently having chemo treatment to remove the cancerous cells once and for all.

All of these brought back a flood of memories not too long ago of how as a family we supported my mom’s battle with cancer like an army of faithful soldiers – my father slept through all the night on the hospital chair next to her bed with each hospitalization; my siblings and I scoured through all the miracle anti-cancer medicines and herbal plants that could cure her; and I was with her through most of her chemotherapy sessions at the hospital just to extend support and prayer for her as the medicines were being administered into her body.

Today mom is enjoying a clean bill of health and enjoying her life to fullest without any regrets. And as we rejoice with her celebrating the precious gift of life and love that God has since given her again, somewhere inside me there is a nagging thought that I could likely be candidate of this eventuality, because one in every 19 women in Malaysia has Breast Cancer and I have 3 breast cancer survivors within my family. May be not now but our life is in God’s hand, and sometimes God bends us in order that our lives glorify Him through healing.

All these have led me thinking of the what-ifs. Would it take a serious illness like the big C to make us take a pause from all the hectic activities we take upon in our lives? When facing a life threatening disease will we rather spend more time with our loved ones, to just make each moment count and smell the flowers along our path rather than getting upset and over-worried over our finances and politics? Would people forgive one another for angers of yesteryears or would they continue to hold on to trivial grudges? What lifestyle choice could we make now that would make us less prone to such random diseases?

While I do not have the answers to all these, I want to make each moment count with my family. I want to start make that healthy choice and take the step forward in starting my walk in the park more regularly because I could just be the one with the big C some years down the road. Much as I know that I would fight nail and tooth on it, I just don’t want to look back on these days and regret that I haven’t done anything to make each day count.

This being the month of October, let’s wear pink and donate to breast cancer foundations in support of a wider Breast Cancer Awareness in Malaysia. Beyond that, let’s live well physically, emotionally and spiritually.

May we celebrate the beauty of life and be blessed with good health always!

The Cycling Family


Everyone in the happiest little planet here is riding with the wind now. Cycling is a great, low-impact way to stay fit and is something that I have enjoyed doing a lot ever since I was just a kid and even now, as a busy mom of three. My only grudge is that we do not have dedicated cyclist lane on our local roads and there are more and more parks that ban cycling in favour of running, jogging, picnics, rollerblading and just doing plain nothing. Ok scratch the last one. 🙂 There are also more parks and hills that are being destroyed in town now in the name of development. Bet you have heard of the impending sad fate of Kiara Hill too. So you know, it bothers me that we don’t care much about such good thing that can bond families. Haven’t they heard of the family that cycles together stays together?

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Oh well, if you ever saw this woman with her bright blue helmet cycling on the side of KL’s busy road, please do slow down in support of my newly reconnected favourite past time.

Back when I was just a kid we had only one really old, big grown-up bicycle that my parents got for my brother which he had cycled on for a few years, sometimes carrying me along on the back passenger seat to the nearest sundry shop. Because my older sister is not the adventurous type, I learned from young that sticking to my eldest brother who was a boy scout packed in a whole lot more fun, laughter and mischiefs than my cross-stitching and reading sis.

Like the time we have ventured into a huge monsoon drain near our house with my sis and some childhood friends only to disperse like a flock of silly birds just moments later being chased by some stray dogs!!! Except for my sis who has YET to get over the petty incident, (I know!!! (Smacking my own forehead in utter disbelief) it’s more than 30 years already!) and dramatically sworn off anymore of such dangerous undertaking, the rest of us pretty much laughed it off and talked ever so fondly about that day being our best venture ever in a drain. 🙂

Anyway, Chris is six years older than me and has a pudgy stomach (notice the present tense of “has”) which I would cling onto from the passenger seat as he set us off paddling on top speed down the slope in front of our house. Feeling the wind in my hair, I would giggle my head off as our bike gathered momentum chasing down cars that are cruising along the street at a thrilling pace, as if we could fly!

A few years later, Chris got a spanking new racing bike that was the uber cool thing for teens of that time, and gladly moved his old bicycle into the store room. After some time, I took pity of it and took it out of its cold storage, gave it a thorough wiping and some good pumping and decided that I would learn how to ride a bike now that Chris couldn’t (and wouldn’t) take me on his racing bike down the slope anymore.

In the next one hour or so, I basically just stood there like a stone staring at the old bulky machine that was standing tall above me and figured that the best way I could ride on it was from my usual passenger seat instead, which was from the back. That way, my long legs could reach the pedals and I could keep my feet on the grounds when I needed to come to a halt.

After getting on to my seat, I struggled to keep my feet on the pedals as I discovered that the bike wouldn’t stand straight unless I have both of my feet planted on the ground. But if I did that, the bike just wouldn’t move without me pedaling along like how Chris did. So I mustered enough courage and forced myself to cycle ftom the rear seat keeping my legs stretched straight and pedaled on. Needless to say, minutes into my first attempt to cycle, I fell disgracefully— a whole lot of times. While I didn’t crack any bones, I got bloodied up and sustained scratches and bruises all over my legs and arms for the next few days. (Unlike kids these days who have an overloaded supply of safety gadgets, we didn’t have cycling helmets and knee pads then) And yet. And yet. You simply couldn’t keep me out of sporty fun as such, could you?

About a week later, my mother was doing her gardening and found me STILL trying to learn to cycle rather unsuccessfully. Being a girl-Tarzan of her time growing up in a small kampong in the north, she was up to a lot of mischiefs during her time but also gathered tonnes of wisdom about riding safely. She told me that I would need to turn in the direction of an anticipated fall to prevent a fall. It didn’t make any sense when I was anxiously learning to balance and was headed towards the drain all at once. I crashed again but two days later, I totally got what mom meant and eagerly pushed the bike to an empty park near our house, picked up enough speed and whoosh, riding just came to be in my life.

And now my small sets are cycling like their mama. Just weeks ago, I had a hard time trying to encourage Pumpkin Mei-Mei to get over her fear of a possible fall from cycling on a two-wheeler. The more she was worried about a fall, the more intimidated she felt about cycling. It took several days of hitching a ride on my bike and plenty more of cajoling before she was willing to learn to ride her own bike.

We had to let her pick up the skill at the speed she was most comfortable at but she has finally mastered cycling after just 3 days of going off her training wheels.

There is only Baby B now who is too young to learn to ride but from the squeals I hear every time he feels the wind in his face as I pack him along cycling in the park, I am guessing this one too, is a cyclist in the making. 🙂

Fashionably Green


Be Green BebeOf late, organic clothing has landed in our home on a grand scale. Apart of me is a green mama at heart who yearns to let my kids enjoy the beauty of mother earth the way I am enjoying it for as long as possible. Be it recycling, sorting out our rubbish accordingly or making conscious lifestyle choices that are friendly to mother earth; I am all for it. Did I mention that I am starting to cycle a lot these days? Reducing some carbon emission whenever I can while trying to pedal into an enchanting land filled with nostalgic childhood memories.

The other part of me is this smalltime office lady who is living a self-serving notion that I want to be really comfortable in my dressing on my off days or mommy days. I’m really not that young anymore. I don’t really care if the ultra-mini skirt in lace is making a comeback now or if Taylor Swift totally rocks in frilly dresses. I don’t have the time to think over my style or the lack of it; neither do I have the time to research into the latest fashion trend. I just want soft and comfort next to my skin and it deserves nothing but the best in organic clothing.

Two months back this happened in my bedroom— I was planning a casual mother-daughter’s out-and-about with Pumpkin Mei-Mei, so I slipped into a pair of bright green leggings matched with a cool brown short-sleeved cotton tunic for the day. As I quickly combed my new short bob, put on just a hint of colour on my pale lips and felt completely pleased that I finally look quite fine to go out now, Pumpkin Mei-Mei was quietly absorbing the entire scene of her mom’s spur-of-the-moment wardrobe choice.

Then, then, then she made the most dreaded comment of the century— “Maaaaa, are you seriously wearing this to go out?”

Right. And you thought you have gotten past the age of seeking approval from MOM about your choice of clothing. Then DAUGHTER starts to dish out unsolicited disapproval on that ONE FINE DAY you want to feel liberated in fashions.

“Why, wh..what’s wrong with this outfit?” I asked glancing down at my own reflection in the mirror and still feel quite pleased with the pop of colour on my bottom half. “Mama, this traffic light green legging is hideous! It’s.. it is a bit too much for your age and it’s aunty-ish,” she laughed while dispensing her free fashion advice.

“Pumpkin, mama is really not thaaat old you know,” I replied defensively. “Also, this is a pair of organic pants, so comfy that mama’s legs are sleeping in it now! This green colour? You are just not used to my new sense of fashion called a pop of colour! It’s all the rage in fashions magazines now,” I continued. (Ok, may be I wasn’t very honest but honesty is dead when you have to defend your “maturing” fashion sense to a 9 years old audience).

“I should have bought you the same pair of leggings too! Hey, we can play twins, what do you think? Organic clothing is truly good for you too as you have such a sensitive skin.” I rambled on, ignoring the preteen’s mild protest.

That morning I painted the town green dressed in my traffic light green organic leggings and brown tee. 🙂
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While my choice of colour for that day may not have been appreciated by my small set, my choice of organic clothing for them feels completely wholesome inside out. It is all very sad that the happiest little people all have a varying degree of over-sensitive skins that manifest into eczema and patches of flare ups that feel like flaming itches on their skins.

Because the very clothing one puts on could sometimes be the source of many skin conditions such as dermatitis and mild to serious allergic reaction, I do think that little babies and toddlers who have very delicate skin deserve a lot of TLC (Tender Loving Care) in how we care for their total wellbeing, including choosing the most gentle baby toiletries, clothes, bed sheets, towels, pillows, soft toys and accessories that are kind to their skin. Even such minute details as the choice of baby detergent and choosing mattress, pillow that are anti-dust mite will benefit them in the long run, especially for kids with a family medical history of sensitive skin conditions.

Organic clothing is essentially made out of cotton that are grown on soil free of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and toxic substances – all of the irritants and baddies we don’t need in our environment and certainly not in such intimate contact with our bodies.

Green fashion is good for the entire planet too. Normally organic cotton is grown with sustainable practices that are friendly to the earth and the air. So I like to put money on where it matters to my family and my little ones for years to come. Anyway, let me just go ahead and gush about this little local online shop called Be Green Bebe which sells a range of gorgeous organic clothing brands for little ones.

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Baby B who was born in the year of the Rabbit has an Old Rectory pyjamas from the e-boutique which comes in a cute Rabbit printed in a lovely shade of green. (No, not my traffic light green, although I am still conspiring with friends in the fashions industry that it’s the next IT shade!) I must confess that I secretly put this on him 4 nights out of a week. If it wasn’t because I have had to wash it due to his constant drooling which causes too much waterworks, I would have let him wear it into his sweet slumber every night!

The PJ is dreamily comfy, made with the finest organic cotton that feels oh-so-soft, and retains its beautiful shape even with such frequent washing. The brand originates from Ireland and I love their vintage-inspired prints, all of which are reminiscent of the British countryside.

If I could invest into the future of our mother earth through the choice I make as a mother today, the marriage of organic and beauty will win my votes for supporting good companies with a heritage in being kind to the earth.

Yes, like I always said, beauty is subjective and may be I should even rethink about my traffic light green. But organic clothing? Totally!

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Of late, this green mama is doing fancy work on her own collection of photo, such as the one where Baby B seems to be lying down on a countryside with the background picture coming from Photopin at:

photo credit: <a href=”http://<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29278394@N00/4882354714/”>normanack</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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