Teaching & Learning Moment – Flowers

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Author: I’m a full-time mummy

I like to bring our kiddos to the playground whenever situations and weather permits. One morning after dropping off our oldest kiddo at kindy, I brought our girls to the playground. Our girls left me and happily moved onto the slides so I sat in one of the swings when I noticed something on the floor. A white flower! Ahhh… thank you God for this learning opportunity!

I immediately called our girls over and gently pointed to them the flower, telling them to be careful as they looks very fragile. It’s not easy picking these flowers up as well. Now, I thought what can we learn from this lovely thing?

#1 – I taught our girls to pronounce the word ‘flower’ properly. Fuh-lao-were. Flower.

#2 – I taught our girls to identify the petals and to pronounce the word ‘petal’ properly. Peh-turl. Petal.

I looked around the playground and noticed quite a lot of these flowers on the ground. Possibly fell after the earlier rain in the morning. So I told our girls to gently pick up the flowers and bring them to me. As they picked up the flowers, they get to practise their finger motor skills and learning to be gentle and careful at the same time so as not to destroy the flowers.

Our older girl has started to arrange the flower and counting it as she aligned them properly, possibly remembering one of our previous teaching & learning moment where we learn to count with flowers. This time, I told our older girl to arrange into a shape. I asked ‘How about circle shape?‘ and so she started adjusting and realigning the flowers to make a circle shape. Awesome!

Teaching & Learning Moment


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Yes, Kids Are On Instagram

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Author: Creative-Type Dad

Back in 2011 I signed up for a little photo-sharing App called Instagram. I loved it from the start – the filters, the creativity of people from around the world of photographers, artists, interesting hobbyist, vinyl record collectors, hand-letterer’s, foodies taking pictures of food – who knew that could be so interesting? 
Oh, and of course, close friends!
What I like most about it is that everybody is mostly anonymous, unlike Facebook which I’m no fan of at all (ironically Facebook bought Instagram in 2012.) Instagram still remains my favorite and go-to, even when I’m taking a break from work. 
My wife soon jumped on in 2012 and has since used it more than anything, even Facebook, which she has pretty much nearly abandoned.

The Kid “Follow’s”
Soon my daughter, 8 year’s old at the time after getting an Apple iTouch that she got for Christmas, asked for her own Instagram account.

After some discussion and setting some rules, my wife and I made sure it was private and we would approve who she followed and who was allowed to follow her back. 
Over the years, now pretty much all of her friends ranging from 9-11 and some as young as 7 are on it. Kids from school, church, kids of our friends, camp friends, friends from after-school activities, whatever. 
The kids these days now use it as their premiere go-to social network. Who knew that Instagram, or IG as they call it, would have migrated that way?
To be clear, most ALL of her friends are on it. And they use it a few times a week some a few times a day and all of their parents (well parents that we know) know about it. Yes, some are not-private which scares me personally, but the vast majority are private, using anonymous names, or just first names, and we all follow our kids and watch them.

Breaking The Law?
So imagine to my surprise I come to find out that Instagram is actually illegal for kids under 13?

Yes! And YouTube. YouTube, second to Netflix, is what the kids watch all the time much more than TV with its cartoons and lots of great how-to videos and such. The legal terms says this:
“In any case, you affirm that you are over the age of 13, as the Service is not intended for children under 13. If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service”

To skirt around it and to their credit, YouTube launched a new limited “YouTube Kids” App that is really only for preschoolers.
This took some digging, and reading, and more reading, and then eventually what turned into many conversations with a few privacy attorneys that specialize in COPPA law.
 My research and take in a nutshell-
Back in the 90’s government officials got together with some so-called parent advocacy groups (which pretty much was the 1% vocal minority with no real experience in technology) to create laws “protecting kids” from the internet called the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 “. To their credit, it seemed pretty well-intentioned at the time to non-techie parents who didn’t get the internet at all. But because parents became more tech oriented growing up with the stuff, and technology pretty much re-invents every 18-months or so and creates new ideas fast, and the old web turned more into the mobile web from the advent of the Apple iPhone in 1997 creating the modern-day smartphone with all of it’s Apps, the laws became outdated fast. 
Then, because the government is pretty much slow to respond to anything, they got back together and in 2013 updated those laws. To their credit they did talk with a few of the larger tech players this time around, and again to the vocal 1% minority which got most of their way, but now it did give some advantages to some really large players like the YouTube’s and Disney’s of the world as they can cover the expenses but smaller entry players are out of luck trying to comply to COPPA laws. Make one minor mistake and they’re bankrupt with the absorbent compliance fees. 
But of course those ‘new’ laws have become outdated, once again.

How To Fix It?

One major thing lawmakers and the vocal 1% so-called advocacy groups don’t understand is that kids WANT to be where everybody is and not on some remote island and parents just need controls that are specific to the App. The “one-size-fits-all” rules don’t work! These advocacy groups want their ideal scenario in the world that all should conform to, but in the end, they end up hurting the people (kids) they want to help by pushing them into breaking the law. 
So back to Instagram, I’m absolutely sure they can easily make a 12 and under setting.  Just put in the parents email address instead of their own, allow parents to make it private/approve friends, or allow the kid to do so, or even allow the kids to the ability to drop in open comments. If my kid gets crazy with them – I can turn them off delete, erase. BUT the law doesn’t allow Instagram to even figure any of that out –  it’s pretty much black and white. All in 13+ or not at all ‘in compliance’ with COPPA laws.
So now we have a whole slew of “tweens” on Instagram breaking the law with most all parents allowing it, but with NO controls because Instagram is not allowed to even acknowledge it or they’ll get fined for each ‘violation’ which can pretty much turn into billions the way the law is written. I’m sure Facebook, their owner, just doesn’t want to bother with the PR nightmare of changing, or better yet, abandoning the the law. Imagine the field day the so-called vocal parent advocacy groups would have with that and the news headlines of, “Facebook WANTS to put your children in DANGER!” (photo of preschoolers.)
Yes, my 10YO is on Instagram and I allow it because our laws won’t allow places like Instagram or even game Apps, to work with real parents (not so-called non-tech savy advocacy groups) in relation to their specific App or product to put in controls for parents. 
Until these laws are downright removed altogether or greatly amended allowing individual Apps to work with parents actually using the service, they have to conform to a one-size-all outdated government policy ultimately hurting the kids they think they’re helping. 
*photo credit: @cats_of_instagram 

Preparing For Emergencies With A Newborn

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Author: Sarah

As a mom, it’s not fun to think about awful things happening, but it’s wise to prepare for the worst.  Consider teaching your newborn to take a bottle at least once in a while in case something unfortunate happens.

A friend of mine had the sudden inspiration to pump a lot of milk soon after her daughter was born.  Weeks later, she found herself in the hospital having an emergency gall bladder removal.  Her baby couldn’t be with her and fortunately she had the milk for her family to give her, which ended up being exactly the right amount. 

Weeks ago, I had what I thought was painful acne on one side of my abdomen, side, and back.  I finally went to my doctor a few days later and he confirmed that it was shingles.  I would need to take anti-virals for a week to prevent problems that would last for months or years.  He suggested I not breastfeed during that time.  I was devastated and in pain, having no idea how I would get my daughter to take a bottle.  She took one months ago, but we haven’t been able to get her to do it since then.  She won’t go to sleep or stay asleep without nursing.  He also suggested I only nurse on the side that wasn’t affected because shingles is the chicken pox virus and she could get it.  This was another thing I knew my daughter wouldn’t accept without a long night of thrashing around.  If you’ve had shingles, now imagine a baby kicking you repeatedly and clawing at your skin.  When my doctor said, “It will be OK”, I kind of wanted to smack him. 

I was lucky though. I called the pharmacist and asked, “Isn’t there something I can take while breastfeeding?”  He said, “Yes, you can take Valtrex.”  Upon further research, it wasn’t recommended you stop breastfeeding just because you might give your baby chicken pox.  I took my chances and so far, so good.  No chicken pox.

It’s upsetting to think that something worse could have happened and that my baby would be traumatized in the event of my sudden absence.  I think of my family and how upset they would be already, but also having to convince our inconsolable baby to eat in a different way.

There are also other events that could happen.  Imagine you’re just leaving your baby with family while you run an errand and your car breaks down.  Does your baby have a way to eat at home?

Or Heaven forbid you have another child who is hospitalized and you need to be with them, but your baby isn’t allowed to come with you.  There are many different scenarios.

I feel like a dodged a bullet.  She’s now eating more solid foods, so I wouldn’t have to worry about her starving, but I cringe to think that I wasn’t prepared. 

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Angpow Story – Sungei Wang

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Author: I’m a full-time mummy

I have been sharing some of my favorite angpow pieces on an angpow collectors group in Facebook and some members have been telling me to continue sharing my memorable stories and so I thought, why not write it down, that way, our kiddos can read about it when they grow up next time, eh?

For those of you who are not familiar or never heard of the words ‘Angpow’ (also known as ‘ang pau’, ‘ang pao’, ‘angpau’), here is a quick definition:

Angpow = Red Packet (filled with cash inside) given during festivals

So for today’s angpow story, it comes from this piece of lovely angpow:

Angpow Story

Today’s  storytime revolves around this angpow from Sungei Wang. Those who have read my previous storytime about the Metrojaya butterfly angpow might remember that I started working part-time at 16 years old during school holidays, 10am to 10pm every day for 1 month plus.

Throughout my working time then, I get half an hour break twice daily and most of the time, I will go to the 4th floor of Sungei Wang, where the food court is to have my lunch and dinner. It was famous for its numerous economical and budget food for working folks around there. 

I remembered the rows and rows of long connected tables and chairs, people sitting and joining other people’s table, all in a hurry to eat and rush back to work. Our small little luxury then was the many TVs all around the food court areas showing Stephew Chow’s (one of the famous Hong Kong actor) movies. You can practically see which are the popular hot spots around the food court, as lots of people will be sitting near the TV areas hahahah…

I went back to work part-time in Metrojaya again while waiting for my SPM results and of course, Sungei Wang remains my favorite eating and break time spot for me.

The last I went there was years ago, things have changed so much there, more foreigners working there, lots of new shops, things are just not the same as how I remembered it decades ago.

Sungei Wang holds a very dear place in my heart thanks to my early working experience there.


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More Questionably Legal Claims Made By The Dairy Farmers of Canada

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You might remember a few weeks ago when I questioned the legality of the claims being made by the Dairy Farmers of Canada at a recent Canadian Obesity Network conference.

The issues at hand were two-fold.

Firstly claims were being made about milk products’ abilities to prevent colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, improve bone health, and confer healthy blood pressure. Secondly, those claims were being made about milk products as a whole, and not about the nutrients found in milk.

Both of those are a no-no, as according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,

Nutrient function claims may not refer to the treatment, prevention or cure of a Schedule A disease; or claim to treat, mitigate, or prevent a disease, disorder or physical state; or claim to correct, restore or modify an organic function [3(1) and 3(2), FDA]. Such claims are considered to be drug claims (see Drugs vs. Foods).


Nutrient function claims are not made for a food per se; they may only be made respecting the energy value or nutrients in a food. For example, the nutrient function claim “Milk helps build strong bones and teeth” is unacceptable, because a nutrient function claim refers to the nutritional function of energy or a nutrient (e.g., calcium) in a food, not a particular food (e.g., milk). An acceptable claim is “Milk is an excellent source of calcium which helps build strong bones and teeth”.

The Dairy Farmers’ Executive Director, Caroline Emond, reached out to me to explain that because the conference wasn’t targeting the general public, Dairy Farmers of Canada were free to make whatever claims they wanted, and to support her case, she cited a 1987 decision of a judge from the Alberta Court of Appeals who stated,

By including the word “general” as a modifier in s. 3(2) the broad term “public” is narrowed. The section totally prohibits advertisement to the general public. It is designed not to interfere with advertisements to the “specialized” professional medical community in specialized trade and professional publications, such as medical journals, pharmaceutical journals and so on.

And yet here, the Dairy Farmers of Canada are claiming, on their “Get Enough” website (and the same information and graphics are available in its accompanying app) – a venue that’s definitely targeting the general public – that milk products reduce the risk of hypertension, keep your bones healthy, lower your risk of colon cancer, help you to manage your weight, and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

My take on dairy literature is that milk products have not been proven to be magical or particularly dangerous. They’re simply a protein source that includes calcium, and definitely aren’t deserving of their own dietary category, or of their blind restriction. Seems to me though that the Dairy Farmers’ inflated claims here might not meet the letter of the law – though perhaps there’s another loophole that I’m unaware of that makes these kosher too.

If you’d like to read a different viewpoint on dairy, here’s an interesting Q&A with Alissa Hamilton, the author of Got Milked, whose tough talk on dairy is certainly more extreme than mine, but if you’re looking for something to balance the Dairy Farmer’s magical claims, definitely have a peek.

[Thanks to the public health RD who’d prefer to remain anonymous who sent this my way]

Utah Event: "Once I Was A Beehive!" Movie Release and PARTY!!!

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Author: Heather Johnson-Family Volley

With 5 Girls at home, my husband and I are always on the look out for wholesome shows, events, movies and music for them. It is not everyday that a great event, and movie comes along that we know we can trust taking them to!

Well look no further. Do you live in Utah? Are you looking for a great new movie to take your girls to? 
We are excited to announce that we (the Co-hosts) of The Living Room, our new online podcast, will be hosting and emceeing two screenings of the new film, “Once I Was A Beehive!” From those who brought us “The Saratov Approach” comes a sweet film based on hundreds of true stories about Girl’s Camp, the campers, the leaders and the experiences at camp. Experiences that last a lifetime! I clearly remember each and every year I attended camp, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. You can rest assured that this will be a great movie for your daughters, and for you. 
The movie isn’t released until August 14th, but you can see it early, meet some of the cast and crew, win prizes and of course meet us! It is a PARTY and we hope you will come. If you are interested in attending, please do the following. 
1. Check out the Facebook group and RSVP https://www.facebook.com/events/100279866991871/
2. Purchase your ticket! Simply RSVP’ing does not assure you a seat….be sure you follow the links and buy your tickets. THEY WILL SELL OUT, so don’t delay. 
We will be at the following events. WE WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU!
TUESDAY, AUGUST 4th, 2015 @ 7pm
Megaplex Pineview 10
St. George, UT
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7th, 2015 @ 7pm
Cinemark University Mall
Orem, UT
We are excited to be co-hosting this awesome movie! We are excited to meet you! Don’t miss it!

The Chair of Nutritional Sciences at UofT Says Canada's Food Guide Sucks

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And boy does it ever. I’ve been railing on about how bad it is for nearly a decade now, and just a few weeks ago, Dr. Mary L’Abbe, the Chair of the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, along with her graduate student, Mahsa Jessi published their paper, “The Time for an Updated Canadian Food Guide Has Arrived (Full Text)“. After reading it, I invited them to write me a guest post, and here one is as written by PhD candidate Jessi.

Since 1942, Canada has published food guides with a strong emphasis on meeting nutrient requirements. Canada, like many other Western countries, however, experienced a nutritional transition decades ago where widespread micronutrient deficiency was replaced with overconsumption of energy-dense foods and calories. This phenomenon has resulted in a drastic increase in diet-related chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; thus we now need dietary recommendations targeted specifically towards the types of foods associated with maintaining a healthy body weight and preventing chronic diseases. Recently we published a critical review of 2007 Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (EWCFG) calling for an urgent update to these national Canadian dietary guidelines. Now you may be asking what are the limitations of EWCFG 2007 and why it needs an “urgent update”?

Firstly, if you add up the calories recommended for the four food groups: Fruits and Vegetables, Grain Products, Meat and Alternatives, Milk and Alternatives, and healthy oils (essential calories) for each age and sex group, the total would be higher than the recommended energy requirement for Canadians, confirming the claims made by previous researchers that following the EWCFG leads to overconsumption of calories. There is also no room left for the calories from “other foods” (e.g., high fat and sugary products) which are completely omitted from the 2007 EWCFG, which is another problem. We know from the Canadian national nutrition survey data that nearly 1/4 of the calories consumed by Canadians are from “other foods”; food guides from most other countries leave some calories for these treats that we sometimes eat – which further suggests that EWCFG is obesogenic in nature. Equally important, the same number of servings are recommended for all physical activity levels, with no different recommendations for a sedentary individual and a very highly active athlete.

As pointed out by other researchers, the Canadian EWCFG was highly influenced by the food industry; one-third of all stakeholders involved in consultations were from the food industry who could therefore have influenced much of its development.

Another important issue that’s lacking in the current food guide is consideration of cultural dietary behaviors. We know that one in every 5 Canadians was a visible minatory in 2011 and yet our EWCFG 2007 neglects their cultural food preferences and practices, and instead recommends one eating pattern for all, while we already know there is more than one way of healthy eating. Of course, the first step towards development of a comprehensive evidence-based, culturally-sensitive dietary guideline would be to collect food intake information from multi-ethnic individuals in Canada. Unlike other countries, Canada does not have a plan for conducting multiethnic nutrition surveys.

These along with other limitations mentioned in our article, call for an evidence-based unbiased action for drafting a new Canadian food guide using the most recent national Canadian nutrition survey, considering the changes in food supply, the epidemics of chronic diseases, and using a socio-ecological perspective of different food patterns. Such an “ideal” Food Guide would be more focused on maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, rather than preventing nutrient deficiencies – which Canadians have a very few of!

Weight Is the Wrong Measure for Physical Activity Interventions

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The other day I was reading about point-of-action queues and their impact on stair climbing behaviour and I came across this study, ‘Take the stairs instead of the escalator’: effect of environmental prompts on community stair use and implications for a national ‘Small Steps’ campaignIt’s a straight forward paper that looked at 8 studies and the impact they found stair climbing prompts in heavily trafficked areas had on stair climbing behaviours.

The authors found that simple point-of-action signage and prompts led to a nearly 5% increase in stair climbing among women and half that among men. Their work also predicted that every week those signs stayed in place led to 2200 new stair users.

And yet, despite these terrific and pretty much cost and effort free interventions, the authors’ tempered their conclusions (both in the abstract and of course the larger piece) with negativity stating,

The projected effect on correcting energy imbalance appears small, suggesting that this intervention alone will not have a potent effect on leveraging population-level body weight or obesity prevalence

But as I’ve calculated before, to burn the calories of a small Snickers bar you’d need to climb 122 flights of stairs.

That researchers apparently wondered whether or not a few extra daily flights of stair climbing in malls and office buildings would have a dramatic, let alone any, impact on weight, frightens me. Truly, that weight was included as a discussion piece in this study speaks to just how widespread is, even among those who really ought to know better, the erroneous belief that physical activity is such a large player in weight that even tiny increases to it might lead to weight loss.

Angpow Story – Drums

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Author: I’m a full-time mummy

I have been sharing some of my favorite angpow pieces on an angpow collectors group in Facebook and some members have been telling me to continue sharing my memorable stories and so I thought, why not write it down, that way, our kiddos can read about it when they grow up next time, eh?

For those of you who are not familiar or never heard of the words ‘Angpow’ (also known as ‘ang pau’, ‘ang pao’, ‘angpau’), here is a quick definition:

Angpow = Red Packet (filled with cash inside) given during festivals

So for today’s angpow story, it comes from this piece of lovely angpow:

Angpow Story

Take a look at the picture of the man playing the big drum on the bottom left part of the angpow. I remembered one of my earliest encounter with lion dance troop at very close up (like 2-3 feet away) was during my school holiday time at my late mum’s hometown.

During CNY, there will be a group of lion dance troop that will go from house to house to perform. They will do all the dance in front of each house’s altar (my late popo was a Buddhist) and plucking and peeling the lettuce or orange and then taking away the angpow.

It was during the peeling process that was so thrilling as the lion dance was lying down still and quiet (with drums sound softly tapping behind mimicking your surprise heartbeat). I remembered few occassions where my cousins and I would be touching the lion dance costume and the head and was curious and excited at the same time.

One time, my cousins and I even tried to play the drum using tin can but was told by someone not to ever do that as there was a belief that whoever other than those in the lion dance troop who play the drums wrongly, is kinda like mocking the spirit of the lion or whatever (can’t remember) and can even incur wrath and bring death to your ownself. I can’t recall clearly what other details on this but needless to say, we stopped drumming for fear of dying and incurring the wrath of whatever/whoever…


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Teaching & Learning Moment – Fish and Japan

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Author: I’m a full-time mummy

As a stay-at home mum of 3 kiddos under 7 years old, I try my best to incorporate learning lessons in our daily life. Sometimes when our oldest kiddo is on kindy holiday, I would still take an hour or so in the morning to teach him something, phonics or writing exercise or reading few chapters of children’s bible stories to kiddos, drawing activities, some Maths exercises or just let kiddos play with puzzles or toys in our study room.

Last week, we went to this pet shop in a nearby mall after our dinner. While looking at one of the aquarium tanks, our 6 year old boy nudged and said to me ‘Mummy, this fish looks like the Japan flag‘. I looked at the fish he pointed at…


I thought to myself ‘Uhmmm… these are just normal white and red gold fishes? What does he mean by Japan flag? What is he talking about?!‘ I paused, took a deep breath and tried to keep my mind clear and tried to understand just what does our 6 year old boy meant.

I looked at the those fishes swimming again and then the realization hit me.

Japan flag.

** Image from Google search

I looked at the fishes again and mentally switched back to the visual of the flag of Japan country on my mind. Wow! He is right! I’m excited and very impressed! Then I tried to think back where did he learned that from? And I remembered weeks and weeks ago during one of our playing plus learning time in our study room, I went through the world map on the wall in our study room and chose some easy to identify and remember country flags to teach him such as Japan, and our very own country Malaysia, and I even went to explain to him the flags of Australia, England and New Zealand and why they kinda look similar. Then I got him to play a fun and short game where I will say out the country name and he had to quickly point out the country’s flag to me.

Just that one time incident of playing and subsconsciouly teaching and learning moment and he remembered it until now.

Wow! I’m still amazed!

I’m just happy to know that such a simple fun activity could leave such an impact to a child.

Nothing is impossible when it comes to learning through playing!

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