Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alphabet flash cards

Courtesy of

Activity for: Child & Parents

Print (or make your own) a set of alphabet flash cards and ideas on how to use them for your childs learning. Make learning fun and your child won't even know that they're learning! Don't you wish all schools are fun like this? Imagine waking up in the morning and you can't wait to go to school. Wouldn't that be great?

Below are a number of ideas of how to use these cards. Remember to adjust each activity according to your child’s age and ability and above all – be positive, patient and give them lots of praise. (Isn't that what parenthood is all about?)

Spell my name

Help you child pick out all the letters in their name and lay them out in order. Go through each letter and make the relevant sounds. Finally, spell the name out loud.

Look at the word

Look at the picture on the front of the card and then write the word on the back of the card. Ask your child to tell you what the picture is. Once they have identified it correctly turn the card over and show them the word. Sound out all the letters in the word.

Pick out the colour

Once your child has coloured in the pictures, ask them to go through and pick out all the pictures that contain a certain colour. Once completed go through the cards and practice identifying the image, letter and sound.

Vowels and Consonants

For the older children, ask them to separate the cards into 2 groups – vowels and consonants. Practice making simple words by picking one vowel and adding some consonants.


Lay out 3 or 4 cards in a row. Go through the cards together with your child and talk about the letter and image. Ask you child to close their eyes and take one away. See if they can pick the one that’s missing, then it’s your turn.

I Spy

Ask your child to pick a card. Review the letter and the sound it makes. Ask them to find something else in their home that starts with the same letter. It’s easier if you go first so they have an example of what to do. It’ll also help keep their attention if you pick something they love like biscuit, bike, book etc…instead of broccoli.

Cut and Paste

Ask your child to pick out a few of the flash cards. Give them a few old magazines you never had time to read anyway. Help them cut out pictures like the ones they see on the cards as well as pictures of other things that begin with the same letter. Try gluing them into a scrapbook and help them write the letter on the page. You can get great, cheap scrapbooks from your local supermarket.

For starters, check out this sites for free printable flash cards, FileGuru and ESL Flashcards. Loads of choices there. Have fun learning!


Monday, June 22, 2009

How to save with a baby in tow

I found this article in TheNestBaby a while back, before I had my first daughter. But I’ve modified it a bit with what little experience I have. Let’s face it, having a baby is expensive and can really break the bank, if you splurge on every single thing. (If you’re filthy rich like the Beckhams, who am I to complain? Do as you please, madam.) But most of us, I believe are average or slightly above average income earners, who would to love to spend wisely and save more for that dream house/car/vacation/whatever. Money doesn’t grow from trees, you know. So just have a look at this list, it may be worth a little of your time.

Buy gear and clothes from department stores.

Department stores are often full of great maternity and baby clothes as well as gear and furniture. I bought two maternity jeans at Jusco for RM130 (one jeans and one slim pants) which look like the expensive ones in Modernmum, if you don’t look too closely. I would have considered buying secondhand stuff, but my sister gave us her wooden baby cot and old carseat, so we already saved a lot there.

Borrow a bassinet (or skip it altogether).

Most bassinets can only be used until baby starts rolling over, so try to find one that you can borrow for those few weeks. We didn’t buy any for this same reason. I kinda regretted buying the baby bouncer too, because my daughter used it only until she was 5-6 months old. But we’re gonna use it for the second baby, so that’s ok, I guess.

Hold off.

If you aren’t sure which products will work best for baby (especially with bottles, pacifiers, even diapers), buy the minimum to start with, then stock up once you know baby’s preferences. We tried buying a cheaper brand of diapers, but my daughter developed rashes. So we stashed them away and might try our luck with the next baby.

Limit the tests.

Not pregnant yet? Buy three (and no more than three) pregnancy tests to keep on hand. If you have a larger supply, you’re likely to wind up with a trash can full of them, because like me, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I discovered I was pregnant for the second time (it was totally unexpected!). If I had 10 tests, I would’ve used them all up to my heart’s content.

Go easy on the starter diapers.

Start with only one pack of newborn diapers. Baby may not even fit into them at the start, and he’ll grow fast. I wasted an almost full packet of size S diapers because my daughter outgrew them. So I gave them to a friend who just had her baby, at least someone else benefitted from that mistake.

Breastfeed for as long as possible.

Not only breast milk is best for baby, the cost of formula adds up, really. (My main reason to breastfeed is to save money, but the bonding and cuddling is a great bonus.) Even though I didn’t breastfeed exclusively, breast milk makes up about 90% of my daughter’s diet, so we saved A LOT. So when I weaned her off after her first birthday when discovering I was pregnant again, we really felt the cost of formula. But I’m gonna do it all over again in 5 months time, so I’m going to enjoy this break as much as possible.


You might need to invest in a good, rather expensive breastpump. But it’s totally worth the money, trouble and time when you see your baby healthier than the formula feeding babies, not needing to buy 5 cans of formula a month, not worrying on your baby’s compatibility to the formula, thus saving on medical costs.

Formula feeding? Ask for samples.

Be sure to head home from the hospital with samples (some now only give them upon request), and ask for samples at each visit to the pediatrician. We got lucky when my daughter’s pediatrician gave us a small can of formula instead of packets of samples. So don’t be shy - it never hurts to ask. Also, sign up as members for several types of formulas, they give you free samples as well. We got even luckier when a friend of mine got a job at Nestle, so I bought lots of formula from her using her staff discount. Yeay!

Buy a convertible crib.

A crib that converts into a toddler bed will definitely save you some cash over the years. We got lucky again here. Like I said earlier, my sister gave to me her old wooden baby cot she bought 12 years ago, complete with a mattress, a set of bedding and cot bumper. They are a little aged of course, but are still in good quality. My daughter sleeps in it until now. Later my brother gave me a travel playpen, and we got an attachable crib for a free gift when we bought the breastpump. So we won’t need to buy any cribs, ever. A real money-saver.

Do your homework!

Research is essential to make sure you know which products give you the most bang for your buck. I spent a lot of time on the Net searching for warehouse sales so I could buy at cheaper prices.

Get mom (or aunt, or MIL…) to babysit.

Family can quickly turn into your most valuable childcare resource. I’m sure grandparents would love to spend some time with their grandchildren too, so this is a win-win situation.

Buy in bulk.

You know you’ll need lots of some things (like wipes, shampoo and baby wash). If you have the storage space, stock up to save cash. Stock up on diapers and formula only when your baby’s suitable to them. During the early days, test out a few brands with your baby until you’re sure she’s compatible to it, in order to avoid waste.

Make your own baby food.

When baby starts to eat solids, toss cooked veggies into the blender with a bit of liquid, and save the meals in ice trays -- the money you’ll save makes it worth the extra effort. I cooked a two or three days batch of chicken and fish porridge to take to her nursery. My daughter never really like the boxed up baby food, anyway.

Forget the comforter.

Since baby won’t actually USE it, it isn’t really necessary. In fact, now my daughter would kick off her blanket when I cover her up. She even takes off her socks when she has the chance. And we have an air conditioner in the room. Now I use the comforter as her mattress padding.

Get crafty.

DIY projects take time, but they save cash, and add fun personal touches. Try making a baby mobile , as it’s pretty easy and it won’t be used for a long time. (You should remove it when the baby can stand up on her own, as you don’t want her to put them in the mouth and get choked, or get tangled up in the strings.) I love Make Baby Stuff, Instructables and Ehow.

Forget the fancy toys.

Baby will be content with smaller price tags or no-brands toys (or spoons, pans, and cardboard boxes, for that matter). Most of the time, parents (like us) are the ones more excited about buying toys for their kids. When we celebrated her first birthday, she got lots of toys too, so that saves a lot.

Go without a changing table.

Changing tables are expensive and can be dangerous, especially if you have a non-stop wiggling baby like mine. Instead, top the dresser with a changing pad and add a few wall shelves for storage. I changed her on our bed until now. But I’ve got to be more watchful so she won’t jump off the bed by accident. Better still, put a mattress or padding on the floor.


Eating out, ordering in, and frozen meals can eat up a lot of cash. I try to cook when I’m not too tired, just simple, two-dishes meal. But then I’ll contract my husband to clean up as I’ll be too exhausted, haha.

Search for sales.

Find a product you love? Hold your horses. Shopping around for a better price can help you save enough for future splurges, especially when buying an expensive item that you intend to use for a long time. We spent quite some money for the breastpump, but I intend to use it for all our kids to come. And did I mention that we got a free gift of an attachable crib worth RM600?

Check out online sites.

There are a lot of forums and blogs selling secondhand and gently used baby stuff. Some that I know of are MumCentre Malaysia, Baiboo, SusuIbu and Some even offer stuff for rent such as Ibu who rents out car seats, travel cots and breastpumps. My friend told me of Toys-4-rent and Playlend for toys that are available for rental.

Get convertible gear.

Like with furniture, items such as a car seat or stroller that grow with baby can prove invaluable, even though you might need to spend a considerable amount up front. Of course, good quality, long wearing stuff are rarely cheap. Unless you know where to look.

Don’t buy lots of shoes.

I know baby shoes are adorable, especially girl shoes. Just for fun, check out Heelarious, they sell soft high heeled shoes for babies 0-6 months of age. Well yeah, they are absolutely cute. But I’d rather spend USD35 on formula and diapers than buying shoes that she can’t even wear to walk! Before baby is walking (and some would argue the same for a while after), shoes won’t really be necessary. Socks will do to keep those tootsies warm.

Take care of your own physical and mental health.

Keeping mommy (and daddy) sane and healthy can help you save on medical expenses. But if your company covers your medical bills like mine does, I guess you can allow yourself go crazy once in a while. In a good way, I mean.

Buy generic and less expensive brands.

Does baby’s label really make a difference? She’ll only be in that onesie for a few months, so resist the urge to splurge. All of my daughter’s clothing cost less than RM20, even the party dresses, cause I bought those at a warehouse sale. Most of her daily day-wear cost around RM5-RM10. You’ll get nice, expensive dresses from grandmas and aunts, don’t worry.

Baby proof.

Prepping your home to prevent accidents can help you save on medical costs (not to mention stress!), even though you’ll take some time to open the drawer or door yourself. But hey, better to be safe than sorry, right?

Get a belly band.

This awesome invention (a stretchy band you wear around your waist) will keep you in your pre-pregnancy pants much longer, saving money on maternity clothes. Check out Belly Belt from MamaParadise.

Wait on the maternity clothes until you really need them.

Ignore the urge to buy maternity clothes just because you’re excited about being pregnant. I could wear my roomier clothes up to 7 months before needing to wear maternity tops, so I didn’t buy a lot. Better still, I bought transitional maternity tops that can be used for breastfeeding so I can still wear them after the birth. Check out these sites for nursing tops, MamaParadise, Butik My-Dreams and FabulousMom.

Save baby’s clothes for future siblings.

This is pretty obvious, isn’t it? So even we get a boy this time, he’ll be wearing pink baby suits and flowery caps, I guess. I’m sure he won’t mind. Unless I show him his baby pictures when he’s older.

Try working from home.

I know lots of moms are able to balance part-time work with caring for baby, and I’d love to be able to do this in the next few years. This way you don’t lose money to childcare AND you bring in some extra earnings. For the time being, I’m working on it.

Get good insurance BEFORE you conceive.

Make sure you know your provider’s policies before getting pregnant, and be absolutely sure that you’re covered -- there are laws against considering pregnancy a "pre-existing condition," but the law contains several loopholes that could hinder your prenatal coverage, particularly if you are switching from one individual plan to another or from a group health plan to an individual plan. I don’t know about this, though. We still haven’t bought any insurance plans yet. But we have plans of doing so, in the near future. Still planning on it.

Lose weight before getting pregnant.

Obesity increases medical expenses and increase risks of complications. Even better, keep fit throughout the pregnancy, so you won’t have to go to slimming centres after the birth to slim down. Think of that as a last, hopefully-not-needed, desperate resort.

Consider cloth diapers.

I really admire moms that can commit to cloth diapers, because I just can’t face all that mountain of laundry. Not only you’ll save a lot, but it’s better for the environment too, as disposable diapers take forever to decompose. But, ermm, I’ll stick to disposables for now.

Donate or sell your toys and old gear.

Help other people save or get a toy they would have never had at cheaper prices, by donating or having a garage sale. Or if you have loads of stuff, you can start your rental service and rake in some cash.

Buy washable nursing pads.

Okay, so the disposable ones aren’t so expensive, but you’ll still save a little.

Make a budget and keep track!

If you’re aware of your spending, you’ll be more likely to cut corners. Easier said than done, though. My corners are so closely shaved sometimes, I could fall under the cheapskate category. I think.

Courtesy of

Buy things that last.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how often you find yourself buying things that are poorly made or disposable. Invest in sturdy stuff that can be handed down from generation to generation (or at least from baby to baby). This is my main principal in buying most baby stuff but I still would not buy the most expensive item in the market. Just a good enough one that can at least last for a few years.

Shop the clearance rack.

This is basically what I do with all my daughter’s clothes. I only buy clothes that are around RM5-RM10. I’d usually buy a few sizes bigger to maximise wear. Some clothes she could only wear properly now because previously we had to fold up her pants so she wouldn’t trip on them. But we saved some RM, that’s the main point.

Get a piggy bank.

I’d prefer another animal, but you get the idea. Toss in your loose change every day, slide in a dollar (or five) now and then, and you just might find yourself with a vacation fund in the near future.

Before you buy it, be sure you NEED IT.

Lots of first-time parents complain about winding up with tons of unused gear and goods. Ask friends and family about their own experience and preference. I got some pretty valuable advice from my mom, mom-in-law and friends. There are plenty of baby checklists available on the Net, but you don’t have to buy all of them, all at once.

Don’t get emotional.

Okay, so this is easier said than done when those pregnancy hormones are running wild, but try not to shop when you’re feeling super sentimental. (This applies to daddies-to-be too.) The excitement can easily lead to over-shopping for baby. Believe me, I’ve been there. We do have some pretty bibs and caps and ribbons that we hardly use. What a pity.

Ask for stuff.

My aunts, cousins and sisters asked me what we might need for the baby, so we don’t end with twos of everything. One that we did have a double is the baby bouncer, which of course, we used only one. We also got another diaper bag exactly like the one we bought, only in different colours. I used one for the nursery, and the other one for weekend outings.

Buy the best diapers you can afford.

The store brand diapers may be less expensive, but you’ll likely save money in the long run by avoiding the cleanups and thrown out clothes that result from cheap diaper mishaps. I used Mamy Poko diapers, which I think are the most expensive in the market, just for night use as they are really absorbent. My daughter can wear it for 12 hours, sometimes more, without leakage and nappy rash.

There you go, tons of ways to save! Do you have any tips and ideas of your own? Come and share them here!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baby hand prints banner

Courtesy of

I haven't tried this out, but it looks so easy and fun to do! Isn't it adorable?

You can hang this in the baby's room, in the living room or make it a birthday decoration. Or turn it into a personalised invitation or card. The possibilities are endless!

Try it out, won't you?


  • Paper - heavier is better (like cardstock) and will last longer but even computer paper will work
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch - you can also poke holes with the scissors instead
  • Ribbon or String - length depends on how long you want your finished banner to be
  • Paint - finger paint or other washable paint can be used, but if you are making a banner you'd like to keep for several years, use non-toxic acrylic paint or watercolor paint. When buying acrylic or watercolor paints, look for the AP Certified Non-Toxic seal. Wash baby's hands right away after using the paint and it will come off with a little soap and warm water. However, acrylic paint and professional water color paint (in the tubes, not those cheapie tray of hardened cakes) will permanently mark clothes so be sure to use a smock, bib or have baby paint without a shirt on. Finger paints/washable paints are fine, but over time they will break down and fade so should not be used for keepsake art.

You can either start by stamping baby's hand on sheets of paper (leaving room between to cut out) or you can cut out circles, squares, triangles or hearts in the paper first and then stamp on the shapes. I didn't have time to pre-cut out shapes (my son was ready to go, he loves crafts!) so we just did our hand stamps directly onto big sheets of drawing paper. Once completely dry, we traced an upside down martini glass for the circle shape but you could use glasses, bowls, food containers or large cookie cutters or just freehand shapes like hearts or stars.

Once you have your shapes all ready, use a hole punch to make two holes in your shape, at least an inch apart. Finally, thread your ribbon through the two holes as shown and keep going until your baby hand prints banner garland is complete. Using ribbon (rather than thin string) is ideal because it "holds" the paper circles in place and they don't shift around. You can arrange them overlapping or spread them apart. If you have enough, put two circles back to back so your banner will be double sided and can be hung streamer style across the center of a room. If you don't have enough, you can just hang along a wall.

These are very lightweight and just a bit of tape will hold them up but you could also use tacks and place the tack right through the ribbon for a secure hanging.

Variation Ideas:

For younger babies under the age of one, it may be easier to make a banner out of footprints, as some babies tend to grab at the paint/paper and it may be difficult to get a good clear hand stamp. How many you use depends on how long you want your banner garland to be.

As with all our tutorials, we show the basics as a jumping off point! Some variations of this craft are to use colored paper, cut out the shapes with a pinking shears to have a decorative edge, have older children write and draw on the shapes add "Happy Birthday" letters across the banner in between the handprints, use different shapes other than circles, use foot prints, add glitter or use fabric and do the stamps direct onto fabric with acrylic paint. And so on...have fun getting creative!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A good night’s sleep is a mom’s luxury

Aliah at 3 months old. She looked like a boy!

I read a quote somewhere which says “Where there’s a newborn baby, there’s a sleepy mom out there.” Indeed, sleep is no longer a necessity; it’s a luxury, like that special bottle of perfume you buy when you get your annual bonus. Something like that. My daughter did not start sleeping through the night until recently. I was surprised when I woke up in the morning on my own accord and not in the middle of the night because of her cries. Even so, after a week of two of blissful sleep, she starts changing her sleep pattern again, waking up but not wanting milk (when I already prepared a bottle and gave it to her) but she’s just thirsty and wants water. Then she starts babbling and drifts back to sleep on her own.

Oh but that was an easy night. Months before that, there were many nights of torture for both me and my husband. My daughter’s sleep patterns had been a volatile graph right from the start. She has difficulties falling asleep and wakes up too easily. We’ve tried a LOT of ways to get her to sleep e.g. on our bed, in her crib, swaddled in the baby rocker, swaddled in the traditional spring buai, on our laps, on our shoulders, on a full stomach, in a quiet and dark room, in the hall with the tv booming, nurse her to sleep and some others that I can’t remember. She had been sleeping in the spring buai until a few months back recently until I decided to make her fall asleep on her own in her cot (because I was too tired to sit up and swing the buai up and down every time she cries. My arms hurt.)

You know the cry-it-out method to get your baby to sleep? I decided to try it out. After her diaper and night clothing change, her bottle of milk and her reading session, I’ll put her in her cot wide awake with her water bottle. (Sometimes she drinks water from her bottle until she falls asleep.) Then I’ll turn off the lights, give her one last kiss and hug and lie down in my bed beside her cot. Most of the time, she’d still want to continue playing in the dark, throwing her pillows at me, sometimes poking me in the face. I would just ignore her and pretend to sleep (most of the time, I really slept instead of just pretending). I’d hear her babble, walk around her cot, gulping down water and rolling around trying to sleep. It’d take around 30 to 45 minutes, but she did sleep on her own in the end. Voila!

So in case you want to try it out with your baby, here’s the tried and tested way of doing it, from But remember, you know your baby best and the steps are for a guideline only. (I didn't follow every single step either. I just did the best I could.) In the end, you just got to whing it and deal with it.

The Key Steps to Settling Your Baby

  • Newborn - 6 months
  • 6 to 12 months
  • Tips on settling the older toddler

The decision to change your baby’s sleeping habits is not one you will make lightly. Generally parents have reached their threshold of exhaustion when they decide to take on the commitment of change.These techniques are not for everyone, there is some crying involved. Some babies will respond immediately to the techniques while others can take up to 3 weeks. Persistence is the key to success as babies learn from repetition.Try to hold this thought – these settling techniques will be no harder than what you are already going through.

The following things should be considered before starting a settling program.

  1. Ensure your baby is well.
  2. Any concerns you might have should be cleared with your doctor before starting.
  3. If your baby becomes unwell during the weeks that you are attempting to get the program to work, stop and start again when they are well.
  4. Make sure you yourself are well. It won’t do either of you any good to be starting a new routine under stress.
  5. Try to keep a fairly free week so you can devote as much time and effort as possible into making the program work. A busy schedule will make it harder to do the techniques with each sleep and take longer to work.
  6. If you have other caregivers, make sure they follow the new routine. This is to ensure that there are no mixed messages being given.
  7. Make sure the cot is well ventilated with no bumpers or pillows.
  8. Remove all toys from the cot. The cot should be designated for sleeping rather than playing.
  9. Have a dim night light so as baby can see their surroundings when they wake.
  10. Make sure your partner is agreeable about the new routine. Even if they don’t wish to be overly involved in the settling, explain to them what it is that you are attempting to do so they can appreciate the added pressure you are under. They too will be great beneficiaries of a child that sleeps well.
  11. If not your partner, try and have a support person to take over for you if need be.

Newborn - 6 months

SIDS and Kids Australia recommend wrapping a baby and sleeping them on their back. We always recommend that all parents follow SIDS guidelines when your baby is asleep. During the program we use a technique of settling a baby on their side, however you should never leave your baby to sleep in this position. Follow these steps to settle your baby:

Courtesy of

  1. Wrap your baby firmly but not tightly in a lightweight material, cotton or muslin is ideal. This will help him feel secure and take control of his hands, stopping him from catching himself on the face if he flails around. Once baby is sleeping we will then loosen the wrap and roll baby onto their back. Always ensure wrapping is well secured and unable to cover your babies breathing passages. Wrapping is not required after the age of 3 months.
  2. Place him in his cot on his side, facing away from you, and with his feet close to the end of the cot. This is to avoid any eye contact.
  3. Make a note of the time: you’re going to give him 15 minutes to settle. Place one hand on his shoulder and with the other hand pat his bottom. He will probably be crying at this stage but keep patting. When the crying stops then stop the patting. The aim is to get him to fall asleep by himself not pat him off to sleep. If the crying starts again, start patting.
  4. If after 15 minutes he has not settled, pick him up give him a cuddle to settle him down (be careful not to rock him off to sleep) then turning him onto his other side (you will need to go around to the other side of the cot) begin the settling again for a further 15 minutes. You can settle for up to one hour, but after that you should offer a drink.
  5. Once he is sleeping you can then roll him onto his back and loosen and secure the wrap.
  6. Anything under one hour is considered a catnap and you should use the settling techniques to resettle without picking them up first.

6 to 12 months

  1. Lie your baby in his cot on his back with his feet to the end of the cot, cover him and say “it’s time to sleep” and leave the room.
  2. Wait outside for 2 minutes, he will probably be protesting. After 2, minutes go back into the room and lay him on his side facing away from you to avoid eye contact. Place one hand on his shoulder and with the other hand pat his bottom – repeating “it’s time to sleep". When the crying stops then stop the patting. Be careful not to pat baby off to sleep, the aim is to get him to sleep independently. If after 2 minutes he is still crying, leave the room and wait outside for 4 minutes this time.
  3. If baby is still protesting after 4 minutes outside the room, go back in and settle the same way, this time for 4 minutes.
  4. Keep increasing the time outside the room and inside the room by 2 minutes each time (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) until you have reached 10 minutes. It is recommended not to leave a baby longer than ten minutes at any time. If after 1 hour of trying your baby has not settled, pick him up, offer a drink and a reassuring cuddle. During the day if baby has not responded get him up and try again next sleep. During the night you will need to persist with the techniques until he is asleep.

Tips on settling the older toddler

  1. After the bath have some quiet time. Never over stimulate them at bedtime with rough or loud play. Allow them to have a drink, go to the toilet or put on a clean nappy and then choose a story or two.
  2. Set the number of stories to be read before you begin and stick to it, remember you must be in control not your little one.
  3. When trying a new routine, perhaps get them a nice new bedtime friend, if they stay in their bed they can have it, but if they get out of bed then let them know that you will take it away.
  4. Say good night and leave the room. If they get up just keep putting them back and leaving. If it goes on for too long, let them know that next time they get up you will have to shut the door. Keep in mind that what ever you say you are going to do you need to follow through.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new accessory to wear: your baby!

Me wearing my baby in a night street market. She was sleeping despite the noise around.

Yesterday I asked my husband whether we should buy a new twin stroller, as my daughter is still a baby herself when our second child comes in November. He immediately scratched out my suggestion. “Didn’t we get a big stroller for a gift, but we didn’t use it? We can just use that one.” I reminded him flat out that it was too big that once we put it into the back of the car, there was no room for anything else. That was the main reason why I bought…. “The baby carrier! We can just carry her around like we did Aliah until baby gets too heavy. Then Aliah would have outgrown the stroller and we can use it for the baby.” He quickly agreed and the discussion was closed.

I bought the carrier when my daughter was around 6 to 7 months. The big stroller was really too big and bulky to lug around, and she was too small to put into an umbrella stroller, which I think is really meant for older babies. So I surfed around the Net to find some information and the variety of styles and models there are out there. Turns out, there is a LOT of stuff about babywearing. And actually, it’s nothing new. Indonesian women in carry their children in slings of fabric since, I don’t know, the dawn of time, maybe. Aliah’s previous babysitter, who is actually my sister’s maid, carried her in an unsewn batik fabric which she slipped and knotted over her shoulder. Aliah would be cooing from inside the sling and fall asleep contentedly, who is definitely a fussy sleeper. It was amazing! Later I found out that wearing your baby is very beneficial for fussy babies, among many other advantages. Read them on below (from

Why babywearing is good for you:-

  • You can go on doing whatever it is you’re doing (excluding any dangerous activities, of course) e.g. cooking, cleaning, walking at the mall, you get the idea, while providing a stimulating learning environment for your baby, keeping him or her happy and close to you.
  • Breastfeed hands-free in discreet wherever you are. Some babies feed much better while the mother’s moving around and having the food source close at all times. I haven’t mastered this trick though. Remember I said that my daughter bites and clamps? Yeah.
  • You can insert some exercise by walking wearing your baby on your body. All that bouncing is sure to lull her to sleep, and the extra weight burns more calories for you. Perfect!
    When we go out and my daughter gets sleepy and cranky, I strap her on and she takes around 5-10 minutes to settle down and doze off.
  • No need to carry any strollers into the car, bus or up a staircase, which is why I bought my carrier in the first place.

Why babywearing is good for your baby:-

  • Babies cry less. Because they are close to you at all times, they don’t see the need to bawl. Research has shown that babies who are carried cry (on average) 43% less overall and 54% less in the evenings. In cultures where babies are carried almost continuously, babies cry much less than those in non-carrying cultures.
  • Good for baby’s mental development, as they spend more time in a “quiet, alert state” when carried, which is the ideal state for learning. When carried, your baby sees the world from your view point, instead of the ceiling above his crib or people’s knees from a stroller. This extra stimulation benefits the brain development.
  • Good for baby’s emotional development, where babies are quickly able to develop a sense of security and trust when carried. They are more likely to be securely attached to their care-givers and often become independent at an earlier age.
  • Good for baby’s physical development, as babies thrive better when they are in close contact. Your heartbeat, breathing, voice and warmth are familiar surroundings which help newborns adapt faster to life outside the womb.
  • Good for babies for whose mums are depressed. I personally think it’s good for mums to have their babies so close to you at all times. Babies who are not held need more verbal and physical interaction and eye contact, just to be reassured that you’re there. Carrying your baby is a great way to connect with her without the “burden” of having to interact. Of course, she’ll be right under your nose whenever you feel like kissing and snuggling. Very convenient.

Which one and what style?

They are quite a number of slings, carriers, pouches and wraparounds in the market, just to name a few. They come with a range of prices, from dirt cheap to break-your-bank expensive. For the crafty mamas, make one yourself! It isn’t that difficult and there are many resources on the Net, step-by-step how-to’s, even instruction videos on Youtube. Just to start you off on your search, here’s a comparison chart of different types of carriers, its known advantages and disadvantages.

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I bought myself a Kozy Carrier from Peekaroobaby. I like the fact that it’s pretty versatile that you can carry your baby from birth to toddlerhood, on your front, side or back. My favourite position (and my daughter’s too) is the front carry with my daughter facing me. I received a lot of comments while wearing her such as how cute she looks in the carrier, how cute the carrier is, how comfortably content she is, even questions of “Did you make it yourself?” and “where did you buy this?”

One woman who saw me even called her pregnant friend to look at my carrier and said “You should buy this.” Once I was cooking and carried her on my back, and she didn’t make a sound throughout. Only when I’ve finished did I notice that she’s fallen asleep drooling down my back. I would’ve still carried her, if she still wanted to. But since she started walking, she didn’t like to be carried so much like she did before. And she’s gotten much heavier, so I didn’t complain either.

So go on and wear your baby. I guarantee it’ll be your best accessory ever. You won’t need any more necklaces or earrings or bracelets. I think.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A mom needs all the help she can get.

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Really. Some moms are sometimes too proud to call for help, thinking herself of superwoman. I watched House on AXN last week (or was it last month? Oh, whatever.) where this lady who is in charge of the hospital and who seems to have a romantic connection with House, (I don’t watch House regularly, so I only know House’s name. Who has the time to watch tv when there’s a household to run??) just adopted a baby. She’s a successful doctor, with a number of degrees decorating her office wall, who’s dressed immaculately. But since becoming a surrogate mom, she finds herself a little flustered (okay, a lot.) and feels her life zooming out of control at times. But then again, doesn’t all moms feel the same way at some point of their lives?

So, the health visitor came to her house to ensure that she’s fit enough to be the surrogate mother of this baby. She was clearly panicked, with calls from the hospital and trying to get her house in order, she hid all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, put some dirty diapers in the diaper bag and hid the unwashed bottles in the sink. Not to mention her clothes strewn around the house and a mess of papers on the table as she tried to work while minding the baby. She was even more flustered when the health visitor has just stepped into her house for ten minutes and said, okay, you passed the test. He told her not to worry about the mess and she is more qualified to be a mother than most women he had seen. And later, a friend of hers dropped by her house and told her, “Get help. Get a housekeeper. Get someone to cover you when you need to leave the office. You’re not a superwoman, you know. You can’t do it all.”

So you see, even the most successful mom needs help sometimes. Don’t worry, you’re not weak, you’re human. Take up all helpful offers you get. If your mom offers to babysit your baby, accept her offer and take a break from the house. Go watch a movie or take a walk. Or even better, pamper yourself with a manicure. It’s nice to be taken care of when you’re so busy tending to other people’s needs. Remember, a happy mom means a happy baby.

Every mom is multitasking at any given moment, but too much of a good thing is sometimes, well, too much. Sometimes I was doing something, then suddenly some totally urgent, unrelated task, like “I need to buy a packet of diapers after work today!” popped into my mind, and I hurriedly made a note somewhere or put a reminder in my phone. Then when I was going to get back to what I was doing, I have totally forgotten what I was doing. Have this ever happened to you? This seems to happen a lot now that I’m pregnant. Do you know that many pregnant women experienced this forgetful syndrome? So it helps if you can focus on one thing at a time, and oh yeah, catch your breath.

Or use these really cool tools for moms I found here. One of my favourite sites, offers free downloads of Tools For the Tired and Time-Starved, which consists of cute, colourful organizers that you can print out, such as Week at a Glance Note, The Balance Sheet (balance between work and home stuff to do, not assets and liabilities) and The Eat Sheet. Read articles from its contributing writers, who are also working moms, about trying to juggle work, family and kids, articles about funny to embarrassing to serious stuff.

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Another cool tool is from It offers online journals, notes, shopping lists, calendars for every member of the family. One tool I really liked is the downloadable screen saver, which looks like multiple frames that display all your photos in your My Pictures folder. Instead of one gigantic photo coming out from the screen, several photos in frames are displayed. Cool huh?

Go and check them out today. And relax, the house is a disaster whether you cleaned it up or not. Let it be for the day, and clean up next week. ;)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Facilities & Nursing Rooms

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I thought being a nursing mom, I would be confined at home and unable to go out, as it would be difficult in case my daughter needs to nurse or did a poop job. So I did some research on the Net and found out there are lots of options and facilities available out there! I could buy nursing tops, or nursing covers or go to baby friendly places, where there are baby changing facilities and nursing rooms available. As my daughter was a vicious little milksucker who clamps and bites, I’d rather not make a scene and nurse in public wearing a nursing cover.
I found this list of baby changing facilities and nursing rooms available in shopping centres below at but the link doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ll just write them down here. Mind you, I found this list about a year ago, so there might have been any changes in the facilities. Please let me know and I’ll update them accordingly in the list.
The best changing areas I’ve been to were the ones in Isetan KLCC and Parkson Grand, Alamanda, Putrajaya. The one in Isetan was very spacious and clean, with three or four private nursing rooms with doors (Ikano, Ikea, and Jaya Jusco’s nursing rooms use curtains), a big sink for washing, and hot and cold water dispenser complete with drinking cups. The one in Parkson Grand Alamanda wasn’t too bad either, which have two nursing rooms (with curtains).The sink was big enough for our daughter to sit in and for my husband to bath her due to her leaking diaper. They even put a powder container with a puff beside the changing table. Luckily it was stuck permanently, so my daughter couldn’t take it off and cover herself in powder, which is her favourite hobby right now.
So, no fear mommies, you can shop in peace now.
1 Utama Shopping Centre
Old Wing – Foldaway change table located at Lower Ground Floor and 1st Floor of Jaya Jusco
Other services:
Baby strollers are available free of charge at the Information Counter located at Ground Floor, opposite Padini
New Wing - Foldaway changing table located at Ground Floor to 2nd Floor
Other services:
Baby strollers are available free of charge at Ground Floor High Street next to Guess outlet and Prominent next to Burger King
Alamanda Putrajaya
Baby Changing Rooms each equipped with water boiler, baby mattresses, foamed sheets and private nursing rooms

Baby Changing Room in Parkson – 2nd Floor (Children’s department store) equipped with water boiler, warm water, baby mattresses, foamed sheets and private nursing rooms
Other services:
Baby strollers are available at the Customer Service Counter located at the Centre Atrium on the Lower Ground Floor

Bangsar Shopping Centre
Foldaway changing table are available within female washrooms on all levels in both East and West Wings
Bangsar Village I
1st Floor, located by Skywalk, behind Caffe 1920. Equipped with 2 changing stations with mattresses and two private nursing areas
Bangsar Village II
Foldaway changing table located within wheelchair washroom on all levels
Carrefour Subang
Baby care rooms available for feeding and diaper changing
Great Eastern Mall
Located on Ground Floor near Island Shop, equipped with 2 changing stations with mattresses, toilet and 2 private nursing areas
Hartamas Shopping Centre @ Plaza Damas
Nursing Room located on Level 2 equipped with changing station and nursing chair
Ikano Power Centre
Ground Floor – near to Cold Storage
1st Floor – Near to Harvey Norman Furniture
2nd Floor – Near to World of Cartoons
Each baby care room is equipped with 2 changing stations with mattresses and a private nursing area
Foldaway changing tables are available within both male and female washrooms located on the Ground Floor near the entrance
Baby Care Room on 1st Floor near café equipped with 2 changing stations with mattresses and a private nursing area
Other services:
Smaland – a supervised play area available for children aged 3-10 years old
Child friendly café with a children’s corner to play or watch TV. Other facilities include highchairs and microwave ovens for warming food. Cereals and baby food are also sold in the café.
Low Yat Plaza
Foldaway changing tables are available within female washroom located at Ground Floor
Mid Valley Megamall
Baby care rooms located within female washrooms on:
Ground Floor – East Wing
1st Floor – North, South & East Wings
2nd Floor – North, South & East Wings
Nursing Rooms are located at Metrojaya on the 2nd Floor and on Ground Floor and 1st Floor of Jaya Jusco
Other services:
Baby strollers and joggers for toddlers are available at the Information Counter located at Centre Court on the Ground Floor
Subang Parade
Mother’s room located on 1st Floor, next to Tumble Tots. Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Equipped with room attendants, microwaves, individual feeding rooms, diaper changing areas & enclosed play area
Sogo Complex
Changing baby mattresses area available with warm water located at 4th Floor next to Anakku counter
Other services:
Baby strollers are available with a deposit of RM200 and a full refund to be made when the stroller is returned to the Customer Service Counter at Ground Floor
Sungei Wang Plaza
Foldaway changing tables are available within female washroom from Concourse to 6th Floor
Other services:
Baby strollers available free of charge at the Information Counter on the Lower Ground Floor
Sunway Pyramid
Currently undergoing refurbishment. Installing baby changing stations in all male and female washrooms
Other services:
Baby strollers available free of charge at the Concierge Counter by the main entrance on the Ground Floor
Suria KLCC
Parents Room located on Concourse Level equipped with changing mattresses, private nursing rooms and small play area for children. Parent and child toilets are also available.
Changing mattresses are available within female washrooms on Concourse Level, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 of both Ramlee and Ampang Malls
Baby Care Rooms are also available in Isetan, Parkson Grand and Mothercare on Level 2
Other services:
Baby strollers available at Customer Service Desk, Concourse Level
Rental rates: Free for 1st two hours, RM10 for every subsequent hour
The Curve
Baby Care Room on 1st Floor located near Mothercare equipped with 2 changing stations with mattresses and 2 private nursing areas
Other services:
Baby strollers available at Concierge Desk, Ground Floor
The Mines Shopping Fair
Foldaway changing tables are available within female washroom located at 2nd Floor
Berjaya Times Square
Changing mattresses complete with accessories are available within female washroom located at Level 3, Level 5 and Level 7

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stack & Nest Building Blocks

Courtesy of

There are a lot of variations on these stack & nest toys i.e. wooden ones, plastic ones, rings, blocks, cups, just to name a few. It’s good if you can get those classic wooden blocks that will truly stand the test of time, so you can keep it for all your children to come. The stacking and nesting enhances problem solving skills and strengthens the eye-hand coordination.

My daughter’s favorite thing to do with the blocks is swipe at it with her hand so they all come tumbling down. I’d make a funny face, and then she’d laugh. (I tried to take a photo of the blocks still standing, but I wasn’t fast enough. She keeps swiping them down!) I also showed her how to nest them inside each other and she’s beginning to get the ropes. This is another favorite toy of hers and could keep her occupied for some time. Something so simple, yet so enjoyable to little kids. Goes to show that life can be simple after all. To kids, that is.

Here's some choices for you. The one in the picture above is Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stacking Action Blocks. It's on sale at for RM35.91.

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The above is Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups, also on sale at for RM35.91.

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This one is Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Rock A Stack, also on sale at for RM26.91.

Or if you prefer a cheaper version, go to Ikea!

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MULA Stacking Rings, made of wood and synthetic rubber, for RM29.90.

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MULA Building Beakers, made of plastic and synthetic rubber, for RM6.90. (Perfect for cheapskates like me.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Water Babies

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Take your baby for a swim and see her natural swimming instincts.

Most babies (and toddlers and kids) love water. My daughter surely does! Even after I bring her out of the bath tub, she’ll want to get back in again and screams her head off when I bundle her up in her towel. For me, I started going to swimming pools since I was 8 or 9 years old. I learned how to swim when I was 11, without any formal training or classes. So my “techniques” are non-standard, so to say. I’ve enrolled myself in adult swimming lessons to get my techniques right but falling pregnant before I could get to freestyle and my ultimate dream, the butterfly stroke. There are no swimming lessons available for pregnant moms in Malaysia, or at least none that I know of, so I had to quit.

I would love to pass my love of the water to my daughter, but baby swimming lessons are scarce here or possibly non-existent, so I read up on the internet. Some of the well researched benefits are:

  • Early swimmers perform better on tests of social, academic, motor and personality developments.
  • Water offers a multi-sensory stimulation involving all senses i.e. touch, hearing, taste, sight and smell. The intense physical and eye contact with parents offer quality stimulation, which means excellent for parent and baby bonding.
  • Swimming allows babies to move independently and weightlessly through water long before they can walk, aiding muscle development, coordination and balance, lung capacity, stamina and the brain.
  • Early swimming helps develops babies’ personalities. Cautious babies learn to accept risk while boisterous babies learn to be more prudent.
  • As a result of all this, their independence and self confidence will increase.
  • A safeguard against water accidents. No amount of swimming lessons could guarantee a safeguard against drowning, but at least it would increase her survival skills in her times of need.

When to start taking your baby for a swim

It really depends on your own comfort, availability to a pool and your baby’s health. My daughter was terrified of the water until she was around 4 to 5 months when she really began to enjoy herself during bath time. I could tell by the serene look on her face, her quiet cooing and of course, the lack of cries and screams. Then she kept getting colds and a runny nose, so I kept postponing our trip to the pool. We finally got to take her for her first swim in our apartment baby pool in the morning, in order to avoid the noisy crowds in the late afternoons.

What to take with you

If you’re taking your baby to your condo’s pool like me, you can just bring a towel, as you can deal with everything else at home. But if you’re going to a public pool, you should bring pretty much the same things you bring with you during an outing such as:

  • A bottle of formula and some snacks for after swimming – swimming makes babies hungry just as they make you hungry
  • A towel or a toweling dressing gown (if you have one)
  • Water or bath toys such as balls, rubber duckies, plastic turtles or boats etc.
  • Don’t forget your diaper bag.

Have fun!

  • Let your baby splash & play with her toys. Throw one across the pool and “zoom” her through the water to get it.
  • Put your mouth under water and show your baby how to blow bubbles. This is an important lesson for babies to learn, as they can't inhale water if they are blowing. For young babies, blow a toy across the water and get him to blow it back, or at least mimic you blowing.
  • When he can sit up, usually at around six months, sit your baby on the side of the pool and lift him down into the water with a splash. Do it with older siblings and you’re guaranteed a few laughs and cackles!
  • Lay him on his back with his head resting on your shoulder and encourage him to kick his legs. My daughter instinctively starts to kick her legs about when in the water, even dipping her head a few times and gasping. Be careful not to let your baby swallow too much water, though.


  • Make sure the weather’s not too cold. It’s unlikely you can get a heated swimming pool just at the right temperature here in Kuala Lumpur, so try to take your baby in the morning before it gets too hot, or in the late afternoon.
  • As soon as your baby starts to shiver, get him out of the pool and wrap him up warmly. Babies and young toddlers can only stand about 15-30 minutes before they start to shiver, so be watchful.
  • Never EVER leave your baby unattended, or even let go of your hand of her, not even for a second. This is especially important if your baby is already mobile i.e. crawling or able to turn over on her own.

Take a look at my daughter in action. She's having the time of her life!

Playing ball with a friend.

Keep those legs kicking!

See what I mean? Time of her life!

Now she knows water can get into her ears, hehe.. .

All in all, she had a blast! I ended up with a sore back, though, from all that bending over. Next time I'll bring her baby float.


Friday, June 5, 2009

A Tribute to my Mom

Mom and her three girls. That's me in pink.

During my childhood and teenage years, for as long as I can remember, my mother was always at home. She told me that she worked as a kindergarten teacher briefly until she had my eldest sister. She chose to stay home and raise her children herself because she couldn’t bear the thought of her children in other people’s care. My father was a busy man, and as his main office was two hours away from our home, we normally see him on weekends. My mother practically raised us single handedly by herself.

I remembered reading a quote somewhere, “A mother never stops being a mother.” Now being a mother myself, I understand now why my mother worries so much for her kids, which are no longer kids, mind you. But there are some things that I admire about her, several sides of her that I wish I had taken after, but sadly didn’t.

All her children except my youngest brother went to boarding schools, so we were pretty independent teenagers for our age. But that never stopped her from constantly mothering us, especially me, because my school was about ten minutes from home. I wasn’t allowed to go home every weekend, so she came every weekend without fail, bringing me home-cooked meals, washing my dirty laundry, sending them back to me nicely folded and ironed. Even when she couldn’t come, she would send my older brother to send my food stocks. When she had extra time, she would even cook up extra food enough to feed my whole dorm. Needless to say, my whole dorm and class were so used to seeing my mother, they knew her by face.

The nag of the house is reversed in our home. My mother doesn’t nag. My father does. But as you probably know, people don’t listen to nags. Their voices tend to drift into one ear and come out the other without you even registering what they say and you just go “Emmm. Ahh… Okay.” That was my father’s voice’s effect on us. But my mother never scolds, at least in my memory; I don’t remember her scolding me, ever. But she would speak in quiet, disappointed tones that would make your heart go thud, right down to your feet. She would say it just once. But it was far more powerful than any yells, screams and nags and has immediate effect. That was her way of enlightening and educating us.

When I started working, my first job was as an auditor, which means absurdly long work hours. I was staying in a big, intimidating city with my cousin. My work required me to travel a lot, mostly to clients’ places around the city. When I needed to work late, I would usually continue working in the office, where there would still be a number of people working until the wee hours of the morning. There were a few times that I did an all-nighter i.e. working straight to 6 a.m., go home, take a shower and put on fresh clothes, and go back to the office. When I think back to those times, I think I must be crazy to enslave myself to work that way. It doesn’t even pay me all that much!

How does my mother come into the picture? My mother calls me every night, without fail, to make sure I have arrived safely at home. I think during those two years I was an auditor, she was worried sick for me. There came times when I just had to lie, knowing she would worry too much if she knew I was still working at unearthly hours. Sometimes she would call when I was hard at work in the main “aquarium”, the main working area where it was all rowdy and loud with auditors. Then I would run to the partner’s toilet and close myself inside and tell her, yes mom, I’m safe and sound at home. Sometimes she calls during my late night drinks with other colleagues at stalls. Then I would yell to any friend whose car parked the closest to us “Give me your keys!” and jump inside her or his car for a few minutes, and again, lie through my teeth. This scenario was pretty popular with my friends, and they never forgot it even after I’ve left my audit job.

Now a mom myself, I understand and appreciate my mother more than ever before. Now when I go back to their home, I wondered how my mother held herself together, being a full-time stay-at-home mother. I am running around breathless with one toddler, who is driving me insane, trying to be a good mother, wife and employee all at the same time. How did she manage five? Nothing more than motherly love and patience, no doubt.

I wish that I could say I inherited her amazing patience, but I didn't. (What a drag.) But I must say that being a mother has extended my patience limit by a whole lot, as I am definitely not a patient person. Even so, my patience is stretched to the limit a lot, and I do lose my temper sometimes with my bundle of joy. But not my mother, no. The phrase “patience is a virtue” must have originated from her. She's more patient with my daughter than I am. (Ermm...I hope this doesn't make me a bad mother.)

So here's to you, mom. Love you more than ever.

The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.-W. R. Wallace

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baby signing in progress

Have you tried signing with your baby yet? If your baby is around 8 to 10 months old, you could show a few signs now. It’ll take some time for your baby to really master it, but it is so satisfying to actually see your baby signing back. You’ll feel so proud and feel like your baby is the smartest baby in the world! Read my previous entry for some guidelines:

Here’s some photos of my 14-month old, Aliah signing sleep and milk, her most used sign. The milk sign is done by clenching and unclenching the fingers into a fist, like the action of milking a cow. But of course, I can’t show that in one picture. Here, she’s clenching her fingers.

This is sleep, obviously.

Okay Aliah, it's bedtime!

This morning in the car, en route to her nursery, she pointed at her backpack and made the milk sign. (She just had a bottle before leaving the house, so I didn’t prepare extra bottles.) So when I didn’t give her a bottle, she naturally protested i.e. yell. Then my husband decided to teach a new sign “Patient” as in be patient, dear. He rubbed his hand vertically on his chest. I took Aliah’s hand and rubbed it up and down her own chest. I laughed and said, rub it a little further down (to the tummy) and we’ll think she’s hungry.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Courtesy of

My husband has some rashes on his feet and puts some topical cream on it to cool it off and stop the itching. The funny thing is, my daughter seems very interested watching him putting cream on it. She looks at it closely and even wants to touch it. My husband moves his leg right and left, and still she follows diligently, trying to touch it. This would be mainly due to the curiosity that is present in every kid. We keep laughing to see her concentration on the matter, just like a CSI agent dissecting a victim’s body on AXN. We keep asking her, “Do you want to be a doctor when you grow up?”

I thought nothing much about it until a few days later, while I was at work, doing some mundane stuff that’s got me to the point of puking. My job never seems so bleak and monotonous. I wish I could say I love my job and enjoy doing what I do, but I’m sad to say that I don’t. Wouldn’t it be nice to be doing something you really love and get paid to do it? Being the good girl that I am, I followed my dad’s advice and studied accountancy instead of following my heart’s passion, which is writing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying accountancy is not a good profession, I just think it doesn’t suit me. I wish I had taken up creative writing or journalism. But I can’t just abandon everything; I mean, my job at least gives good benefits. The least I can do now is pour my heart and soul into another outlet i.e. HERE. Maybe something good may come out of this.

So what do you want for your child? To be a lawyer, architect, lecturer, doctor, general manager? These are all noble professions, but why don’t you let them decide for themselves? For me, as a mother, I would give my children options, ask them what they really want to do, harness their skills the right way and let them be. As long as it is not against the religion and it’s legal, a clean and honest living is all I wish for them. So what if she loves to bake, sew or make crafts? I know lots of people that make more money than I am by baking, sewing and making jewellery. I just hope she doesn’t sing too well though. I really don’t want her to take too much liking to Akademi Fantasia or Mentor, or things like that.
Courtesy of

And while you’re thinking about what you want your child to be when they grow up, what about you? Are you who you wanna be?

I notice that people here in Malaysia puts too much emphasize on money, and not passion. I guess we don’t really have a choice. Or do we? Do you think that our parents would have approved if you had wanted to take up painting and be a professional artist? The first thing they would say is, “Do you know how hard it is to make it as an artist? It doesn’t pay much, either.”

Well, times have changed. It is now possible to combine both business and pleasure. Why don’t you go and ask that goreng pisang seller in front of your house how much he makes in a month? Quite a lot more than I do, that much I know. So why am I cracking my head and stay back late in the office, while they spend 4 to 5 hours a day, and are richer than me? I ask myself that question everyday, but like most people, I am afraid to take the plunge. I am too comfortable in where I am now to make too much drastic changes in my life. I really hope this would change in the near future, because I can’t bear to do this same work everyday for the next 20 years.

Take a listen to this song. Listen to its words, which for me, really hits home. (Tom Welling is really cute, by the way. Haha.)

As for me, I’ll keep on writing as long as my words still flow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Toys for 12 to 18 months

Aliah with TWO toys; one is the baby walker which we bought when she's already walking, and the other is her grandma's lipstick. She's combining fashion with play. Good gal.

Your toddler is really taking off these days -- and as you chase your little runaway down the street yet again, you may miss the days before she learned to use her legs so well. "Active" is the best way to describe her now, and she likes any toy or game that allows her to throw her whole self into it -- balls, swings and little climbing frames to name a few.

Her hands are becoming more coordinated, too, and she can now use shape sorters more efficiently, build even bigger block towers, and scribble a drawing. Her play involves lots of experimentation, such as "What happens if I drop this ball?" or "What happens if pull this lever?" She's very interested in the consequences of her actions, and because her memory isn't well developed she won't tire of repetition. Toddlers also like to try out what they see adults doing, so look for toys that imitate daily life.

Push and pull toys: Heavily weighted push toys can give your beginner something to lean on as she motors around your home. Pull toys are great for more advanced walkers who can look behind them as they move forward: ones that flap, bob up and down, squeak or in any other way catch attention are favourites. (Like the one in the picture)

Sorting and nesting toys: Toddlers love to sort, stack, unsort, unstack, and basically reorganise their lives. Sorting and nesting toys are great fun for those who are trying out their early problem-solving skills.

Climbing frame: A small climbing frame can give your toddler a safe place to climb, hide, slide, and practice all her emerging motor skills -- over and over again. But they can also be pricey and are quickly outgrown. Or you can let him climb your grilled door for free. (Just kidding.)

Balls: Any ball that's easy to grasp will be a hit with this group -- underinflated beach balls, tennis balls, cloth balls. Stay away from foam balls that could end up as a mouthful. This is the age at which you can introduce your child to "catch". Start slowly -- she'll begin to get the back-and-forth rhythm with some practice.

Washable crayons and paper: Let the scribbling begin! Hand your toddler no more than a couple of crayons at a time -- you don't want to overwhelm her -- and tape the paper to the floor so she can make her mark without dragging the paper along with her.

Ride-on vehicles: This mode of locomotion may be even more popular than walking. Many small ride-on toys have handles for an adult to push when the child gets tired. Avoid the electronic versions -- they're expensive and take away from the fun of getting around under your own power.

Tool bench or toy kitchen: Fix-it kids or aspiring chefs will get hours of play out of plastic or wooden models scaled to their size. Toys like these give a child a chance to emulate the things he sees adults doing, and they'll continue to hold his interest for several months as his play gets more sophisticated. Check this one out at I wish I had this for a kid. (Maybe I would've been a better cook, ;)

Picture books: Your toddler will enjoy more advanced picture books showing familiar objects and activities. She may also start to take pride in her own library and the chance to pick out a favourite for you to read.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Enjoy being pregnant!

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As you may know, I am currently 4 months pregnant with my second child, with my 14-month old daughter currently in the very active age. So this second pregnancy was very challenging, exhausting and wearing, mentally and physically. Which is rather disappointing, because I had such a great pregnancy the first time around. It was, in some ways, even better than the honeymoon period, it was such a blast of 9 months of my life!

So I wrote this article to remind myself, and all the pregnant moms out there, no matter whether you’re on your first, second or ninth pregnancy, how lucky and how indefinitely blessed we are, in this wonderfully life-changing time of our lives. A God’s miracle is taking place inside your own body, how’s that for life-changing?

7 reasons to be glad you’re pregnant
  1. I have several friends that have been married for some years and still do not have children. Despite my complaints of tiredness, bouts of headaches, excessive wind, never-ending backaches and lack of sleep, I remind myself daily that there many women in the world that are unable to bear children for some reason, that would be so glad to have my complaints, just once in their lifetime. Holding your own baby for the first time, after fighting your blood, sweat and tears, was by far, the best miracle in my life.
  2. I have always been a weight conscious person in my life, which is also one reason why I work out a lot. As I love to eat (what woman doesn’t?), I need to work out a lot to keep fit and avoid being fat and sluggish. Being pregnant is like a new revelation to me. What better excuse do you need to binge your heart out than “I’m pregnant”? All those cravings for chocolates, ice cream, cheesy nachos, your favourite nasi lemak and fried chicken because “I just feel like it.” This is the time your husband will definitely pamper you with whatever you want to eat. Of course, it’s nice if you maintain a healthy diet and all that. But come on, mommies, ‘fess up. Any of you craving for a Caesar salad? I don’t think so. So seize the day, mommies!
  3. Talking about husbands pampering, your body will undergo a series of changes that you would never dream yourself of experiencing. Besides the obviously expanding belly, other parts of your body expand too, namely your waistline, your breasts, your butt and of course, the appearance of the inevitable stretch marks. Don’t be too worried about the stretch marks, though. Your husband will be too fascinated by, ahem, certain body parts to care about some little marks.
  4. Pregnancy is definitely the best reason to go, brace yourselves ladies…. SHOPPING! New tops, new pants, new skirts, new shoes, even new underwear! There’s never a better time to splurge, because you totally deserve it! But if you’re a cheapskate like me and prefer not to splurge too much, find clothes that could fit you throughout the pregnancy and could be used for breastfeeding. I did buy one or two nice tops that I could wear to dinners and weddings, but other than that, I bought mostly non-maternity, stretchy tops that could cover my bump but could still be worn after the birth. I also bought a few nursing tops that looks formal enough to be worn to office but casual enough to be worn with jeans and comfy slippers. Instead of buying those overpriced maternity pants in Modern Mum and Mothercare, I bought a few of those stretchy, yoga pants that are so comfy, I still wear them to bed now. For RM19.90! But that nice long dress in Modern Mum looks very nice too. On second thought. Nah, I don’t wear dresses anyway.
  5. Other that shopping for yourself, the next best thing is definitely shopping for the baby. As people keep telling me babies grow so fast that they won’t fit into their clothes for too long, baby clothes are too cute to resist! I remember the first time we went shopping for the baby. It was at a baby fair, so the clothes were quite cheap, ranging from RM5 to RM15 per piece. My husband was exclaiming “Are these clothes for dolls? They’re so small!” as I was searching for pink pajamas and skirts that our unborn daughter wouldn’t be able to fit into until she was 3 months old. We bought the sleep hats that she wore like, 5 times, varied coloured socks, burp cloths, bibs and around a dozen sleepsuits and day-wear. Oh, and my husband couldn't resist buying one of those battery operated fans with flashing lights to clip to her stroller and car seat. Now one of plastic blades is torn from my daughter’s tug.
  6. People are so nice you! They give you way when you get into LRTs, gets up to allow you to sit, give you food for “the baby”, opens doors for you, lets you go forward in a line and so much more. They even smile more to you! A lot of women smile at me and ask me when I’m due, is it a boy or a girl, things like that. My male colleagues bought me food stuff because I was “craving” for it. People tell me I look glowing. I could go on and on.
  7. One of my favourite things in pregnancy – feeling the kicks and turns of your baby inside me. It was the first bonding feeling I felt and was pretty surreal. In the first trimester, all you can confirm of your pregnancy is your protruding belly. But once I felt that first flutter, I was in love with my own tummy! Me and my husband both. He loves stroking my tummy and talking to the baby. Once, after a monthly checkup, the doctor told us that our baby was in a breach position. Even though I was not due until a few months later, I was worried that our baby won’t turn around in time, and I might need to be cut open. My husband “told” the baby softly to turn so she wouldn’t hurt Mommy, and at the next checkup, what do you know? She’s in perfect position for labour! My husband keeps praising her for being such a good girl, until now.

Those were my personal, favourite reasons for being pregnant. If you still need more reasons, read more in this article. You’ll be thanking your lucky stars when you’re done reading.

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