Notes From An Interviewer


His face got so tensed that I could tell that he was trying to fight his teeth from coming out to bite my head off my neck. “Third girl in the last 2 weeks! What can I say of you? Third girl resigned from your team in a matter of 2 weeks!” Gosh. I hate it when my boss repeat something twice in a sentence. It sounds super awful.

“That I am an inspiring leader?” I tried to lighten up the atmosphere in the boss’ room. He didn’t seem convinced. “And how is that so? Let me get this straight. One left because she found her aspiration to start writing a book after her travel to Tibet, and the second?” he asked.

“Oh she uhm… found the inspiration to start her own business after a trip to Melbourne.” I shook my head. “And the third lady?” He pressed on.

“That doesn’t even count. She is my staff but to be fair, she is from the client’s side, so technically under my team with our company… I mean your company, Sir, let’s just say that I have helped two persons discovered their passions for making a living elsewhere,” I defended. “Really, I do not think I am a horrible boss. There’s movie for it starring Jennifer Anniston but no, it’s certainly not inspired by me.”

“I am not saying that you are a horrible boss but with half of your team gone in a span of few weeks, I think that’s why you are stressed out and running thin. I don’t know how you are going to do it but my dear, you have about half a dozen projects to deliver in the next few months that I expect you get it delivered beyond my expectation. Get it? 6 projects until August. (See? He repeats serious stuff like twice, all the time!) I suggest you ask Jeannie to put up some recruitment ads to get a manager and a senior executive to assist you. Ok?” “Noted, boss.” I looked straight into his eyes and was grateful that help was on the way, at least with The Boss’s immediate instruction to the HR to get me some good staff.   960589386_09bbf2e6d8 And so I found myself sitting across the board room table from some interviewees in the last one month as I got in on the whole act of recruitment like a ball of energy mass to find my replacement team members. That was the exciting part and my story would have ended lovely here had I been more in touch with the mannerism and aspirations of some of these young job seekers. Obviously I am so out of touch that there are top six types of interviewees that absolutely drive me up the wall!

  • The Blurry

I had to run to another project site at 4.15pm. I stared at the office clock and nervously saw that it was already 3.15pm. “Jeannie, that Alice girl for the 3pm interview, is she coming or not?” I asked my colleague Jeannie, the HR Manager.

“Hmmm… Let me give her a call now and get back to you shortly.”

Five minutes later, Jeannie buzzed me from the intercom and said, “Guess what? Alice said she was so busy with her work that she had completely forgotten about the interview! She was asking if she could come see you this Saturday instead?”

I thought for a while and told Jeannie, “No, tell her that I may forget about her before the end of today!” 9227922133_c862915d95

  • The ME, ME & I King

He rattled off his success like stories from the Almanac of Successful People. “I accomplished this this and that too. It was all about me, myself and I. I led my team and achieved RM1 million in that SUPER successful case. I am so good and I am even better than the next 10 candidates you are interviewing for the rest of this week.”

Once he paused from his extremely illustrious stories, I asked him, “So is there anything else you would like to add on about your successes?”

“Yes, I am the best. The greatest. Period”. I thought to myself, Wow. And I never wanted to see him again. Period. 13771862765_03a8158ece

  • The Newbie Interviewee

What drives you?” I asked.

“I want to drive a BMW.” He replied without a slight hesitation.

Holding back my crazy laughter, I clarified politely, “I mean, what are the things that motivate you in life.”

“Oh, sorry I thought you asked me what car I wanted to drive.” 4709580506_cc6f3e0762

  • The Ambitious Sweet Young Thing

“Your goal in the next year?” I looked up to meet the eyes of the sweet young thing.

“I don’t know, may be… to be somebody in the company… like achieving the position of a director of the division by the time I am 25 years old and leading my own team of staff”

“But you have just graduated and you are only 23 years old, not trying to undermine your determination but what are the steps you will be taking to reach that goal within the next 1.5 years?”

“I don’t know but I am a quick learner. It’s like a very simple school project. I will get there irregardless.” 5228373874_056282e649

  • The Floater

“Is there any particular reasons you have jumped through 4 companies in the last 1.5 years?” I asked casually.

“Oh the first company gave me such low salary, so I left it and got 150% increment in the second job. But after 3 months I was angry that the new company gave me so much more work than the first one that I moved on to the third company. This time I thought I was lucky because work load was reduced but I got a bit bored and jumped ship again to my present company.”

“And the reason for moving on now?” I was clearly amused.

“Oh, just that I am not happy. My happiness is of utmost importance. I am looking forward to joining your company to find that happiness and fulfillment that were missing from all the bad companies that I have worked for.”

“I don’t think I can give you that. Job satisfaction comes from within yourself and if you have not been able to find that from your previous and present jobs, chances are we don’t store it in here too. Thanks for your time anyway. All the best to you as you find the ultimate happiness in your next job. Send my regards to it.” 117635854_385449ffa6

  • The Economist

“ What’s your present salary?” I glanced through his CV.

“RM4000 for basic and I have another RM500 for transportation allowance.” He replied politely.

“You are asking for RM7000 now. May I know the reason for asking such a big jump in your demand for the basic salary?”

“Oh I am planning to marry my girlfriend end of this year so my father in law asked me if I could afford to take care of his precious daughter. I told him I would find a new job that can pay for both of us so that my girlfriend could just stay home and take care of the 5 kids we plan to have.”

“Wow, that’s a very big increment in your salary and a great big plan there. Is this figure negotiable?”

“I am sorry, Miss, but I need this amount to marry my dream girl,” came the incredible reply from him.

“I am sorry, but then, this is not going to be the place to get your dream pay.” I stood up to bid my farewell to him.11901612346_36ca812923 …………………………………….

Believe it or not but I did eventually find 2 replacement out of the three vacancies that I need to fill. I tell myself that good staff are hard to come by but they are made harder when all we meet are rather strange, twilight-zone, young interviewees who make me feel like I have invaded a different planet altogether. As I continue to search for my third candidate, I keep myself sane with this mantra that…

ALL THESE SHALL PASS TOO.

PHOTO CREDIT

    Photo Credit photo credit: N00/960589386″>てんつくマンとの対談 via photopin (license) photo credit: N06/9227922133″>177 // 365 – Splitting Headache // Rasender Kopfschmerz via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/5228373874″>OMG! via photopin (license) photo credit: N08/13771862765″>IMG_5217 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/4709580506″>We had a fun day via photopin (license) photo credit: N05/11901612346″>CYMERA_20140110_114505 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/228551283″>liwanag sa dilim via photopin (license)  

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!

Hope & Prayer


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Let there be hope for MH370.
Picture taken using Panasonic Lumix GM1 – “Vivid Sunset Glow” setting at Penang

I have not been able to put my mind and thoughts to blogging since the whole episode of the disappearance of Malaysia Airline MAS MH370 on March 8th unfold before the eyes of a now-worldwide audience and a multinational search and rescue operation that ensued.

As with most Malaysians, my first incredible flight experience was delivered by MAS when my papa bought our whole family to Singapore on a MAS flight when I was only five years old.

Everything about the flying journey was awesome – the all-dolled up air stewardess in the gorgeous green Kebaya uniform who smiled and gave me some sweets as a treat was what I imagined a princess should look like, and when she brought out the brown colour in-flight blanket and a little pillow for me, I literally thought all angels worked in the sky!

The view above the clouds were magnificent beyond words – little soft, fluffy white clouds that floated underneath the wings of the plane reminded me of the pillows Mickey and Donald rested their heads on after a long tiring day that were made of the softest, finest cotton which carried them to their sweetest dreams.

The experience of being able to fly like birds in the sky and even rise above them and witness the warm glowing sun cast a lovely ray of rich hues over the clear blue skyline was incredibly breath-taking.

So many contradicting theories and guesses have taken place over the last eight days and none seemed to emerge as the answer as to what actually happened to Flight 370 along with its 239 crews and passengers. Perhaps because I am a mother, I can’t help but to feel sad for the family members and friends of those who were on board the ill-fated flight, especially the seven child passengers who were also in the plane.

Along with all Malaysians, my hope and prayers go out to those in the flight and their loved ones – May God sustain them, keep them safe and sound and fill their days with His loving grace until they reunite with their loved ones.

Our Today Moments


“So… if one unleashed the power of Zeus, he would hurl thunderbolts and bring about killing rain that could then kill even Poseidon ‘cuz he is the aerial god. But Poseidon can counter this power with his own powerful weapon, which is a trident, and it can cause something like an earthquake that can kill the other fellas. Did you know that he is second to Zeus in power amongst the gods? So he is really cool too… I like him because he can control the sea. Imagine the power to call forth Tsunami-grade wave…”

“Hmmm…” I nodded at the split-second pause I had to insert my comment. I must be the only mom in this land who finds her preteen talks without any punctuations and pauses in his sentences.

“Mama, you don’t understand what I am talking about, right?” (Yes I really had NO clue and finaaaally, he got it!)

“Sweetie, I was listening, of course…” came my half-distracted tone when I finally found the crumpled box of raisins from my weathered handbag and quickly tossed it to the passenger seat towards Baby B to buy some peace.  I could not believe that we have only made it to the junction outside our home when it felt like I had driven for hours with a babbling toddler who was trying to escape from his car seat strapped next to his preteen sister who had the perpetual need to interfere my conversation with her brother who was literally speaking Greek to me since the morning!

“Well then, who’s your favourite Greek God, Mama?”

“Urm… the only one I remembered from my school days was Apollo – He is the god of sun, right? I remember reading about him riding on a chariot with four horses to chase the Sun across the sky.”

“Yah, ditto! Apollo is the son of Zeus too— He is the god of music. His weapon is an archer with a silver bow. He has cool healing power that people were crazy about. Did you know he is also the god of truth, so the funny thing is this guy can’t tell lies because he has an honest soul – Maybe that’s why you like him, Mama, ‘cuz you always say lying is the worst thing a kid does, right?”

“Hmmm…I guess so…” I tried to focus hard on the traffic ahead driving the three happiest little people to a neighbourhood mall to get some back-to-school stuff but the truth was I was losing my attention span thinking about my work, their school transportation arrangement, the stationery and grocery on my shopping list, their tuition fees and buying some night diapers for Baby B.

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Yes I often feel like I am a Super Mom – except that in this planet I haven’t mastered the whole juggling act perfectly and don’t think I’d ever get there either!

“Mama, I don’t think you were listening to what I said, that or you are completely unaware of all the powerful weapons these characters have in the cartoon I just said” Cheeky Koko made a passing comment that brought me back from my daydreaming.

It reminded me of a car bumper sticker I got as a Christmas present from Pumpkin Mei-Mei weeks ago. It showed a frazzled mom driving in the car with three kids making lots of noises and it says “Driving Under The Influence of Children!” that had me chuckled upon seeing how well it described my multitasking-life as a mother.

But now it wasn’t funny! I realise that as a working mother, this sort of occasional chronic inattentiveness is becoming debilitating. I am always with the kids whenever I am not working and much as I try my best, I can be half-present sometimes in that my mind does wander off to all the other things such as work tasks that are waiting for me to complete at the back of my mind.

I would lurve to be a stay-home mother (which by the way, was secretly my ambition if money, diapers, grocery, loan payback and all of life’s necessities can just rain into our lawn from the sky!) but it’s just not an option for us, for now.image

I don’t think I am alone in this struggle either. Most other working moms I have come to know struggle with juggling acts of their own as they try to ace in both of their callings in Family and Work.

In the recent Friso Mum Survey in which I was invited to take part in, I realise that I am part of the phenomenal statistic of the Working Mom’s Syndromes, which include but not limited to:

1)      Spending about 2.5 hours lesser than a non-working mum or housewife with her children, and she considers only half her time with her children as “quality time”.

2)      Constantly feeling the tension to balance between work and family which results in:

A. Don’t have enough time in her daily life/routine (Totally true, just look at how I am deprived of a quality bath time here!)

  1. Struggle to juggle between work, housework and the family (Another truth, because I can so ruin our holiday!)
  2. Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with their children and try to fulfil their children’s needs by giving them what they want. (Gulp, my father’s wisdom prevails here!)

While the journey of motherhood brings incredible experiences and immeasurable joys to a mom, the reality of having to juggle between work and family do create a lot of emotional tensions for working moms.

The insensitive commentators say we should just suck it all up and march it on with glitz and glitter since we choose to work, but the sad reality is mostly, we Don’t have a choice in having to work and we have tonnes on our plates — From work, sending and picking up the kids, cooking, bathing feeding them, plus household chores, that we are often left feeling out of time, exhausted, guilty and helpless.

In doing that, I echo Friso Gold’s sentiment for wanting to call on mothers to get in on the acts of “Our Today Moments” in creating lasting moments and spending more quality time with their kids. It’s about the quality time we craft out with our kids that focuses on being in that moment and being in “Today”.  In another words, it’s about us making the effort to make every moment count with our kids –  “Our Today Moments”!

As I pulled into the parking lot of the mall, I apologised to Cheeky Koko that I wasn’t really paying much attention into what he was saying because I had just have a very rough week at work.

“Really? You could have shared your burden with me, Mama. And it’s ok, Mama, I know you work hard for us, so that we can have a good future and I just wanted to share with you what I am into these days, because you said that as I slowly turn into a teenager in the next few years, I may just shut myself out from you and may even be a pain like choosing my friends over you. So guess what? I am making sure that I won’t be a bad teen by sharing my stuff with you including the cartoon I am watching these days… because I love you, Mama”

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In my mind, I did a little chicken dance as the happy, smashing hen so so so… loved by her chicks dearly.

It is said that motherhood chooses us while we can choose to beat the odds in being the best that we can. I was committed to being a better mom there and then and being in the PRESENT whenever my child speaks the next time. My kids just needed me to be with them in the moment, in “Our Today’s Moment” — A sweet lesson I simply have to learn from a 12 years old.

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Photo Credit:

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/127619542/”>bies</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

A Three Dimensional Fun


My almost-75 years old papa led my siblings and I to the living room as we continued our grownup’s discussion.

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‘Well, I just want to remind all of you not to think that you owe your children a family vacation every year. Even if it’s just a local trip, it still costs money. It’s a vicious cycle, then you work hard to save for the trip and then because you work so hard, you hardly have time to spend with your kids. What’s wrong with spending quality time that do not cost as much but that which allows you to enrich their souls through affordable channels such as a visit to the local museum that can offer them plenty of fun learning?” He asked us, like a wise owl which has seen it all from above his forest of life.

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With that piece of golden nuggets of wisdom from Papa, my siblings and I scrambled for Google to check on local activities that are both educational and affordable for our own set of children, which led me to uncover the ancient art of trompe-l’oeil a few weeks later at the Trick Art Museum, located at i-City— a tourist attraction that offers family entertainment activities in Shah Alam, Selangor.

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The Wikipedia says that an oft-told ancient Greek story concerning this ancient art is that of a contest between two renowned painters. Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) produced a still-life painting so convincing that birds flew down to peck at the painted grapes. A rival, Parrhasius, asked Zeuxis to judge one of his paintings that was behind a pair of tattered curtains in his study. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to pull back the curtains, but when Zeuxis tried, he could not, as the curtains were Parrhasius’s painting—making Parrhasius the winner. Wow!

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Here at our local Trick Art Museum, specially drawn paintings play tricks on our mind through two dimensional (2D) paintings that have been skilfully rendered by artists to make them appear as three dimensional (3D). Basically, the optical illusions are created by the clever painting of shadows and action outside the perimeter of the picture frames which the visitors can participate by adding on their own poses as if they are also the subject of the extended painting. Of course, well positioned lighting enhances the overall 3D effect.

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The place is not large but fairly small with only 8,000 sq.ft. of space housed over two floors of a shoplot and has been divided into 5 themes — Masterpieces, Egyptian, Marine Life, Animal Kingdom and Modern Classics.

Because it is not a large place, the entire visit can be concluded within an hour and a half. The museum is open from 11am until midnight and entry cost is RM5 per pax. The three happiest little people obviously enjoyed posing along and we hope that it was a trip that had sparked their life-long creativity and opened up a world of imagination and appreciation for arts for them.
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After that we wanted to visit the Wax Museum which was just a block away… which woman wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with Brad Pitt, right… (OK, Angelina Jolie too, since she is too near him in life and in wax form!) but because adults were charged with an entrance fee of RM80 and children RM40 respectively even with our MyKad, our whole family would have to pay something like RM240 for a few hours visit! Alas, our budgets have some limitations so I told the kids that we just had to work on our patience until the museum offer us folks a discount in the future.

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Yes, it’s all cheap parenting here my papa would agree that a smart parent saves for what matter more in life! Wink* 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

Another Type of PR


I rarely ever want to talk about my work in the blogosphere.

I suppose if I were Steve Job, I would be proud to answer what I do for a living when being prompted at a social gathering, “Oh nothing much, you know, just inventing some computers and a smart tablet called an Ipad at my garage for the brand that has with the apple logo.”

Or that I deliver about a couple hundred babies a year including twins and triplets as an Ob-gyn.

How about running a successful chain of fusion restaurants at KL’s hippest spots (suddenly every type of food that is east meets west is called FUSION in KL now, I’m guessing that anything can go these days when you can even have a gelato with a Belacan flavor).

Even better, if I was a new age guru who has attained the best kept cosmic secrets to longevity— Surely that would make me the most sought after speaker for health-related workshops and fetch me a fat piggy among the rich and famous.

I’d be proud just to walk into the local wet market with any of the above feel-good who’s who descriptions, even if I only have enough cash to buy Kangkung that morning.

What significance could I possibly feel doing what I’m doing now then— planning for which newspapers to place ads and whether the press conference have reached a certain publicity mileage or if the promotion our team is planning helps achieve the sales target. I also cannot see how all these marketing tools such as advertising, promotion and the likes have anything to do with the whole gamut of human life.

Well, except for Public Relations (PR). PR is the one and only tool that is connected to the tapestry of life, of the complexity of human relationships with one another and not just with the media.

In marketing, PR is an important element to engage customers and the public harnessing the power of the media, to get a favourable angle in the news and to create ripples of desired marketing outcome.

In life, understanding the intricacy of human relations, much like public relations, helps businesses achieve long term partnership and short term gains, just because certain business owners do it right in their Personal Relationship, another PR . A coworker with great Personal Relationship skill also wins friends at the workplace— Here’s what they do:

1) It’s not just the food. At my first media lunch with some fashion editors, one of my ex bosses who is respected by many peers as a public relations doyen, taught me about the art of paying close attention to the details even when it’s just a lunch. Of course, we had a business proposition to pitch but it felt more like a happy gathering of friends than a business lunch.

Half way through the dim sum lunch and as this ex-boss was sharing a light moment with our media friends, she gently smiled at me while casting a sideway glance and quick signal of sort over the Chinese tea pot, reminding me to refill everyone’s tea cup. Oh shucks, like i’ve had an epiphany… I had completely immersed myself in the lunch and with the company so much so that I have forgotten to play a graceful host. I quickly got up and haven’t stopped observing and refilling others’ Chinese tea cups ever since!

2) Personal touch means everything. Corporate gifting is a common practice, but there’s nothing like receiving a personally signed greeting card from someone who calls you a friend. Every Chinese New Year, I receive greeting cards from business suppliers who squeeze 30 employee signatures under the printed corporate logo and no one, not the CEO nor the executive I deal with ever bothered to pen a personalized message eg “Gong Xi Fatt Choy” on the card. Are we making corporate gesture way too impersonal and too much of a business obligation? If the senders treat greeting card sending as just a business obligation, rest be assured the recipient feels it so too.

3) Thank you but no thanks. A friend has complained of her colleague who was just very tight lipped about her thank you. First of all, when she asks for a favour, she doesn’t care if you have other jobs on hand or that you have your own deadlines to chase. After you have helped her with a task such as a presentation, she would only respond with criticism and offered no thank you. It was no surprise that she never had any true friends in her work place. Regardless of one’s level of seniority and experience, a genuine thank you will always wins friends at work.

4) Don’t be late and don’t show up without an appointment. Really, unless you are my close friends or my husband that being late will be affectionately excused or a sudden show up at my office brings me an anticipated joy, in business 3pm is 3pm, no appointment made means let’s meet another day when I’m actually not rushing any critical deadlines.

5) Respect others. I have met many big shots and CEOs who walk into a room bringing the sunshine along when the whole office starts in a gloom on Monday morning. And then there are those high-level business associates who remember names of small fries like me (instead of preferring only to speak to my direct boss as if I am suddenly an invincible lamp post). Apparently you become respectable when you first respect the others.

At the next kids birthday party or friendly kiddie football league and if I ever got asked again about what I do for a living, perhaps I will just say I specialize in Public Relations for real life. Throw in all these observations and I’d be feeling like a guru.

Ms. Jessie J sings that everything comes with a price. Forget about the price tag as life lessons can be free when one observes and practices good PR skills.

Reading My Way To Be A Better Mom


image10Weariness does not even begin to describe what I feel these days. And being a working mom, I suppose I am not entitled to complaint either. Didn’t I choose this path of trying to juggle the demands of work and family, so that for a few hours a day I can sneak off the perennial duties of cleaning the poops, preparing the dishes, butting heads with my tweens and beating the traffic jams with the other 300 moms to get to school on time, all in the name of work?

Not that I intentionally want to escape these responsibilities but I have done some soul searching over the years and frankly, I couldn’t find good domestic skills and quality that I’d be proud to flaunt around. For one, I have never been a domestic goddess though I find a major spring cleaning on a quiet Saturday is delightfully therapeutic for me. I am not very creative with my meal planning for the family either. Chicken is always just stir-fried with ginger and cooking wine Chinese style, occasionally it goes into the crock pot for Chinese herbal soup, and when the kids crave for something western, the kitchen of a working mom just does not have enough fresh herbs to make fancy dishes on a whim (like who would stock fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage when you live in the reality of Asia). At most it is roasted with a pinch of dried herbs, cheated by the aroma of butter and sometimes bottled sauces. And I have trained the happiest little people to eat salads simply because it uses less of my unimaginative culinary skills.

I would really like to start a gardening project on our apartment’s balcony but then I have caused the death of more plants than I would like to admit and as such this remains both a challenge and a dream until I retire into the sunset. I can sew though, and that’s probably the only quality I can boast of being at home with motherhood, but I have only sewn costumes for Halloween and dolls that can only last for a night. I have gathered some bits and pieces of keepsake fabric to make a baby quilt for each of my baby but they have somehow grown a lot bigger over the years and way faster than I could catch up on my sewing.

So this 7pm to 7am mom is always fascinated with stay home moms and work at home moms. To me, they are the angels God place on earth to make a house, a home. They are the lighthouse of their family—A superb home manager, an educator, a multitasker and a supportive cheerleader, all of whom I am not, at least not on a full time basis.

It is no wonder that there are numerous parenting books targeting moms (who are still trying to champion a personal cause to be a better MOM) like me that make it to the New York Times Bestsellers every year. Yes these mortal moms such as I want to learn why French kids don’t throw food on the dinner food. Heck, there is even Chicken Soup in the form of a book for working moms. We are intrigued by why the Tiger Mama raises the most disciplined kids and we want to know why poor Daddy doesn’t need to produce poor kids. For the most part, we want to know how to raise up obedient children who love God wholeheartedly without losing our own hair and sanity.

It’s as if I could float to a different dimension with a book in hand — books take my mind to places other than the frenzied world outside my office and my quiet respite (also called my bedroom). They take me to a fictional place of perfection where I can cook a variety of amazing, nutritious meals with my freshly harvested veg and herbs from my own little garden. May be even a place where I can imagine a calmer and more organised me bathed in sunshine smile all day long even if I have just had a bad day at work. Not just books, but magazines as well. I like to go straight to the parenting section of any magazines and read about the latest scoop on parenting, home decoration and family health.

I know that I am having a secret love affair with books and magazines but please don’t wake me up from this little world of fantasy that I could escape into… for now, the quilting, cooking, gardening and domestic chores 101 will need to wait as I enter into a place of literacy sanctuary to embrace my shortcoming and make peace with my own parenting constraints. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of this dreamy indulgence? Guess what? It’s happening!

From now til 28 Sept 2013, Seven2SevenMom is proud to partner with Zinio, the world’s largest digital newsstand, for a fantastic giveaway that is easy to win! There are a total of 10 absolutely free digital magazine subscriptions for Seven2SevenMom’s readers from all over the world, so if you want it, grab it FAST!

10 Winners can each choose any title offered on Zinio — *subscription length depends on which title you choose (they’re all different – in the description of a particular title at http://www.zinio.com/ you’ll find how many issues comes in the subscription). For me, I am going to get the Good Housekeeping to perfect the whole art of mothering. Yay!

Zinio has thousands of top magazines from around the world and you can browse and purchase subscriptions or single issues instantly from your computer or mobile device to read wherever and whenever you like. Check out its Z-Pass, where you can even get 3 magazines for a low monthly flat rate!
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If you love to read, well, quickly EMAIL me at seven2sevenmom@yahoo.com with the following details:

1) Your full name

2) Your email address

3) Title of choice

4) Which blog post of Seven2SevenMom do you like most and why? (No, don’t write a book, just a line or two will suffice) 😉

Winners are selected based on the most inspiring / interesting reply to the above. If selected, you will get an email on how to redeem your prize latest by 2 October 2013.

Act now… fellow readers! 🙂

Milk Donation


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Still on the topic of breastfeeding, well, I saw a video on China Mother’s Milk Bank from Yahoo a month ago, as the link below:

http://my.news.yahoo.com/video/chinese-breast-milk-bank-starts-170101629.htm

According to the news, here’s what’s happening in China now:

The first mother’s milk bank in mainland China has opened in Guangzhou. It is starting out with four rooms and 80 mothers donating milk. The southern city has a population of more than 12 million. But the two founders at the Maternity and Childcare Hospital say new callers have been eager to give, and the response is more than they expected.

One donor said she was motivated by the sick babies she learned about on television, who she felt sorry for. China was struck by a terrifying food scare in 2008 when parents feared for their babies’ lives.

At least six infants died and 300,000 fell ill from drinking store-bought milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine. Beijing has tried to reassure people that milk powder and dairy products in China are now safe and rigorously tested.

However, lax regulatory enforcement is still a problem. Demand for foreign milk powder is high. Animal milk production in China falls far below demand. A cow there produces one third the milk of an average Western cow.

In 2010, China imported 550,000 tonnes of powdered milk, and today half its needs. Ten years ago, most of the country’s dairy operations had ten cows or fewer. Now, well over half of them are much bigger, having been grouped together into modern cooperatives for efficiencies of scale, hygiene and quality control.

Scandals shook consumer confidence in Chinese-made baby products and led to shortages of powdered milk in Hong Kong and Australia as people bought boxes to export to China. Some British stores have rationed sales after Chinese visitors and bulk buyers cleared their shelves of baby milk to send to China.

The rise of the middle-class Chinese working mother has greatly increased sales of baby milk in the world’s most populous country. Paediatrician Liu Xihong said there are relatively few breast-feeding mothers in China, and that another problem is she found just eight percent of mothers would agree to let their child feed on another mother’s milk – rather than formula.

The UN Children’s Fund said fewer than one in three Chinese under-six-month-old is breastfed.

Hmmm… Wonder if Malaysia would ever set up a milk bank as a reliable bio-nutrition source to help ailing babies and kids in the paediatric wards fight off diseases and speed up healing and if we did have one, how many moms would sign up as donors and how many moms would be willing to accept milk donations for their babies.

I still remember when I was breastfeeding Cheeky Koko a decade ago, I was part of a group of weekly mama milk donors for a little boy who was undergoing chemotherapy for paediatric leukaemia. By God’s grace, he survived the cancer and after the treatment, did so exceedingly well in terms of healing and growing up. Like donating blood, milk donation does have its life-saving merits, in combination with other medical treatment.

Of course, it boils down to raising the breastfeeding rate and acceptance level amongst Malaysian new moms first. May we one day be a land overflowing with precious mama milk, eh!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/found_drama/3411453025/”>found_drama</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>