Monday, 29 May 2017

Save More, Spend Less or Earn More Money?


I have been keeping an expense log since November 2015 till March 2016. I stopped updating our monthly expenses report till today as I felt it was a tough job tracking every cent that we spent. Recently I have taken some time to think about some important questions like what does being financially free/independent mean to me? What is my attitude towards money?  Why do I continue to track our spending? Why be frugal and prudent? To what end?

At first, I got really excited when I started reading other people's journey in personal finance and decidedly made decisions that I wanted the same, only to realise that everyone has different needs and circumstances. Could I save 70% of my income like the Frugalwoods? Invest in stocks like Dividend Magic in creating his Freedom Fund? Saving money and living frugally like RinggitOhRinggit? Different! We all different and on different journeys! We each have our  own set of challenge and circumstances that we are responsible for.

According to Wikipedia, Hubby and I have a gold class membership in Club Sandwich which by the way is an interesting read. My parents definitely had membership there too and I am now only realising how challenging and tough it can be. However, I am eternally grateful that my parents have been living really wisely and are now quite self sufficient. Furthermore as government servants their healthcare and medical expenses are all fully paid for by the Malaysian government. (Phew!) Even then having two very young children and 1 set of parents to look after financially can cause you sleepless nights a lot of days.

So back to our discussion, Hubby is a "it is more important to earn money kind of guy rather than check on how we spend it" I on the other hand, recently and decidedly felt that we have to spend less, save more. However, I do realise that time and not money is the most important commodity. Time allows you to earn more money but more than that, it allows you to pursue your God given purpose in life, other passions and interests. Spend time with the people that you love, stay healthy by eating well and exercising more, resting and relaxing, sowing into other people's lives, writing! So, I have come to a realisation that to me being financially independent means having the freedom of time!

Freedom of time most of all to have the choice to care for my two children and pursue work that allows me to do so.  Freedom of time to give to family and friend, to give back and be involved in the community around you. Today everyone is just too busy. I want more than just lunches and dinner catch ups, or coffee afternoons. I want to be involved in each others lives and give of both time and money. So time is really so precious.


Mother's day lunch this year. My WHY, or "whys" to work towards financial independence

So it is going to take all three to achieve my definition of success and financial independence! It is the effort of saving more, spending less (far less) than you earn whilst continuing to earn more money.

 Here is a video that catches the essence of how we live nowadays and here is to changing that for our family anyway (clinking a champagne glass together with anyone who believes that we all need to change in our consumerist society!!) and inspiring others to find the simple pleasures in life and focusing on what is really important!


Words of wisdom from the world's poorest President of Uruguay


What does success and financial independence mean to you?

Saturday, 13 May 2017

What My 13 Months Clothes Buying Ban Has Done For Me...

My first posting of 2017! Gosh time flies but I am back! Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year has come and gone! It is now May! Second month in the second quarter of the year!  My boys are a year older and I am now only catching up with my writings! They have really grown so much and the year has just gone by in a flash.

Chapati eating his cheese

Little Murtabak chewing on his favourite dragon soft toy!

I thought what better way to start my writing this year than to do a review of my posting back in September 2015 about financial independance and simple living. That was when I decided on 3 things to do immediately which was my clothes buying ban, track our family monthly expense and de-clutter our home.

I am pleased to report that I successfully...albeit after a small road bump in November last year when I bought 2 stretchy dresses from Cotton On on the account of my growing belly (Murtabak was on his way to us), have not bought any clothes for myself since December 2015! 2015! I broke my clothes buying ban in January 2017 so all in all I did not spend any money on buying clothes for 14 and the half months if you count half of September 2015 and October 2015. But I am happy with 13 months!


The 2 dresses which were my undoing...)

I am so excited that I actually managed to do this! I didn't think it was possible to not buy any new clothes. That is not even the best part of it! In reflection, I realised that when I stopped buying clothes, I also stopped buying a lot of other things that came with shopping in general. The impulse buys, the lipstick that you just got to have, the latest gadget that makes life easier, that pretty double walled mug, the lock & lock plastic containers that just happened to be on 50% sale, the latest shade of eye make up (which is really similar to the one I currently have....) that really cute notebook that costs a bomb (RM45!), the Innisfree green tea seed serum that is on promotion, the must-have nude pair of high heels to match my office outfits, the designer handbags that I have always wanted is on 70% sale!!!...Ok ok I am sure you get the picture. There is just so many opportunities to spend money needlessly. The reason I can name specific items is because this year, I broke my clothes buying ban on a massive scale and that is a post for another time!

Emergency Cash Fund

To start with, Hubby and I did not have an emergency cash fund. Shocking right? Everything we earned monthly was channeled into investments in property and Hubby's laundry business and then into bills, eating out and stuff for the kids, general groceries...etc. We didn't have a lot of liquid cash as we thought that if there was an emergency we could utilise our credit cards. So we made a conscious decision to build an emergency cash fund. Our plan was pretty  loose and we didn't really have a figure in mind but this is what I did.

1) Pay off all my credit cards debt in full first
2) Transfer RM 3,250 every month into a separate savings account
3) Pay off monthly bills, housing loan, car loan, insurance, our parents....etc
4) Spend carefully throughout the month
5) Transfer whatever remaining money we have into the savings account mentioned in 2)
6) Transfer any bonuses that I received from my job, ang pows received for the kids during Chinese New Year, Hubby's additional business income into the saving accounts mentioned.

Voila! We are so happy that we now have an emergency cash fund! This is pure funds set aside and not touched for anything. Our investment funds are different. Now that we have done this, we have now planned and set some goals to accumulate a more significant emergency cash fund by end of 2017! Another post coming up soon I guess? :)

Credit Cards Paid In Full

For years, both Hubby and I have always had credit card debts. The banks have certainly made a lot of money from us in the interest that we have paid so far. It is easy for my credit cards to get out of control and accummulate more than RM10K of debt in the past. A little purchase here, a little purchase there and suddenly I owe the bank quite a few thousand ringgit. With today's rising cost of living, the danger of credit card debt is ever present and imminent if you are not intentional about this.
I have always wanted to clear all my credit cards since 2014 and have working towards it, however in 2016, I have consistently paid off my credit cards in full! Now we have to work on Hubby's cards. :) How did I clear my credit card? Wow, now I have more stories to tell!

Opportunity to invest in Bitcoins/Cryptocurrency

I started researching and reading up about Bitcoins and Cryptocurrency since end 2015. Instinctively, I knew it was something that  we could diversify into but the concept was challenging to grasp. I then immersed myself into the tech community who was more than welcoming to a newbie and have since become a staunch supporter of cryptocurrency.

Honestly, it was only because of the emergency cash fund that we had and were building that gave me the confidence to take some risks and to make my first bitcoin purchase in August 2016. Borrowing a saying from someone I really respect in the crypto community, "down the rabbit hole" I went not knowing where I would end up! What followed was an exciting 6 months if you follow the news and I am glad to say that I had the means to continue purchasing more bitcoins! I must say that our forays into the world of cryptocurrency  has made us some lucrative returns which we have realised early this year.  Having said that, the price of bitcoins have continued to sky rocket so investing in alt coins is also something that we have looked into. I have an awesome story to tell! Soon soon...

Sense of Achievement and Peace of Mind

The sense of achievement and satisfaction is really a fantastic feeling. Really how many new clothes do I actually need? The better question is how many different clothes do I actually wear? Looking at my clothes cupboard, it is packed full of clothes that I have not touched in years...some of them 10 years or more! I kept wearing the same ones over and over again. I realised that I had too many clothes and would just pull the recent ones that I had been wearing before.

I also came to understand that clothes were not a priority to me. Of course I believe in being presentable and appropriately dressed for any occasion but I didn't have to buy a new dress every time! Watching our savings account grow was more satisfying knowing that we were focused on a goal.

Renewed Hope and New Possibilities

The experience of being credit card debt free is empowering and gave me great peace of mind. I realise that there are other more important things in life than just shopping for something. I could pursue other interests and even business possibilities. I am excited that I could be doing new things this year like travel more...a lot more! Home school the boys and spend more time with them, blog more, start a new internet business, make my own natural products with Ameo essential oils, serve in church, mentor, help and inspire others to be financially wiser, start my edible garden, give time and money towards the community around us and share the gospel...so many possibilities,

I am grateful and thankful that I started this journey of learning to become more self aware and being more financially prudent. I have still have a long way to go but what a great start!


Their first visit to the beach! Tough trying to get both of them to smile and look at the camera!

Do you have a success story to share about unique knock-on effects of achieving a goal you set out to accomplish? 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Lure of Holiday Spending! Christmas Is Coming!

Gosh it is good to be back writing again after nearly two month of craziness! Working, expanding our fruit group buy, taking care of Chapati and Murtabak....! One good thing about all this busyness, we have managed to stay prudent and frugal in our spending. Yeah, it is sooo difficult to go out and spend money when you have little time even for sleep! (Hahahaha!) But honestly when you are jam packed with projects, it is a great way to be able to save.


Kor Kor and Di Di learning how to sleep together now! So adorable....

Well it is the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is coming and the holiday season brings cheer and sparkle to many shopping malls and is food for the roving eye! I recently took a walk around the malls and restaurants and they were decked out to the max! I really love the festive atmosphere and beautiful decorations but they really make you want to take out your wallet and buy everything in sight! Somehow things look extra enticing during this time of the year! It's not just the buying but all the feasting and merriment! I love turkey and it is the only time of the year that we can get them in Malaysia. 


How do you say no to all these goodies!!??? 


Our feasting and merriment started the first week of December this year!!! 


On top of everything, there is the numerous sales going on literally everywhere! One that could make severe dents in your willpower to not spend so much is the Big Bad Wolf Book sale!!! Needless to say I found myself there on Preview day having gotten free passes from a good friend. Everyone brought luggage bags to carry their purchases and I mean big huge ass ones!! A 24 hour sale is really both awesome and terrible at the same time! If you know what I mean...and it is on till the 19th of December

Look at all those books! Books! Books! Books!

So as I was saying the lure of just spending like crazy is nearly irresistible! Here are a couple of things that I have done to stay sane and not go into the malls like a roving lunatic zombie chomping my way through endless stuff and long cashier queues!

  • I keep reminding myself that this is the season where it is more blessed to give...ok this doesn't help...buy things so that I can give? Give could mean a lot of things! Gift of your time and creativity in coming up with ways that doesn't involve just going out to a mall and buying something. We also had extra incentive that we had to teach our kids about the real meaning of Christmas. 
  • Make your own gifts - I am working on fruit leathers for all my friends as family presents. It is is healthy and pretty. Not to mention I am able to use up all the fruits from my group buy!
  • Chocolate and sugar is bad for you!! Who cares...once a year only right? Still I fell trap into buying near RM100 bucks worth of candy canes, chocolates and chippies just for the atmosphere! My other excuse was other peoples kids when they come to our house for Christmas! So it's not for us, it's for others!
  • I have been clearing my credit cards in full every month, so I won't buy if it causes me to not be able to do that.
  • Shop throughout the year for simple useful gifts on promotions - Now we are armed and ready if our friend's kids descend on us at anytime during Christmas
  • Clutter blocks success and if I go out and simply buy stuff, that's what it going to be CLUTTER
  • Staying focused on our family mandate to live a more simple life that is not just filled with things
  • Taking time to consider my purchases! Ie. I don't buy straightaway. The great thing about the Big Bad Wolf sale this year is that they allow you to put the stuff that you choose in storage for specific period of time. I choose a lot of books and children's stuff, now I am able to go back and choose exactly what I want. 
  • Asking if we really need it!
Ok, ok I am going to get to my point soon...I think..hope...this is part rant and part reflection. We are learning that indeed we have so much to be grateful for. We are learning to find joys in simplicity and not just spending because it is Christmas. But yes at the same time, it is wonderful that we can buy whatever we want and need. We feel so privileged to be able to spend money on things that bring joy to us and also to others. We do want to continue to be prudent and frugal. We do want to live a simpler life and not succumb the colossal force of consumerism and finally we want our financial independence being able to do the things that we want because we want to and not because we have to!

Merry Christmas!


 My candy stash!

Do you feel the lure of spending too during this holiday season?



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Malaysia Homeschooling Tribe's Art Festival

Hubby and I have been exploring the world of homeschooling with the hopes of giving our children the experience of fun child-led learning, developing their passion and talents early on, being an all rounder, becoming a God loving and fearing person with a heart for people. We want them to also have compassion and to give back to the community around them both people and the environment.

We are still working out what we suits us best as a family with regards to their education but in meantime we are going to immerse ourselves in the homeschooling community to experience and learn as much as we can to ultimately make that decision. One main consideration is the cost of good education in Malaysia. But I won't go into that now, will probably rant all about it in another post!

Anyway, back to the Arts Festival, I am so excited that the Malaysian Homeschooling Tribe first ever Arts Festival is happening on the 6th of November 2016. It will be an awesome time for families to come together and the children to showcase their talents and interests in the Arts! It starts at 12 pm - 4 pm a the Pusat Kreatif Kanak Kanak Tuanku Bainun in TTDI. Registration however starts at 10.30 am so come early! 

There is an art exhibition for little budding artists, collage mural painting, pollock painting and sculpture lessons for different age groups of children. The activities are age specific and you will have to purchase tickets which cost anything from RM5 to RM15 per person. However, as of today all the tickets for the activities are SOLD OUT! However you can buy entrance tickets for RM12 person or RM40 for family tickets (up to 4 persons) Children under 5 years old are FREE! Get your tickets HERE.

There are a lot of free activities which you can participate in like the Story Tent up in the Dome area where the Story Gang has been working very hard to create this Story Tent so come and listen to a story of if you feel like it, you can TELL a story too! There will also be performances on stage to watch, flashmobs to enjoy and a Colour Parade at 3.30 pm - 4 pm . According to the organisers, you can make costumes inspired by the colours of the world or you can dress up as colourful characters from fiction or simply wear your BRIGHTEST coloured clothes!

Another interesting activity is a Parents Speed Social where you can meet other new and seasoned homeschoolers. This is a speed socialising event where you can participate in 5 - 10 short conversations with different homeschoolers. You will have 6 minutes to find out more about each other and decide if you want to swap numbers to meet up again. If you don't have a small community where you are, then this is your chance to find one. You will have to register HERE before the day. 

Lastly what is a festival without jumble sale booths? Budding entrepreneurs have an opportunity to sell homemade craft or food...and in our case...FRUITS! Yes! We got ourselves a small booth during this festival to introduce our fresh fruits and veges! We are thrilled as this is also our first time setting up a booth for our fruits. 

So if you want to find out more about this awesome event that is happening do head over to https://hs-arts-festival-2016.myshopify.com/pages/frontpage 

We look forward to seeing you there! 


Thursday, 22 September 2016

My Confinement Stay Review (Final) - General Care For Mummy & Baby

DISCLAIMER: Please do note that this is my personal experience. I understand that everyone has different expectations and therefore different experiences. Please do ensure that you do your own due diligence. Please visit the center and ask the questions which are important to you. I am happy to share if anyone has specific questions. Please do connect with me on themummynotebook@gmail.com


This is my final installment about my stay in Yuan Yuan Confinement Retreat Center for my one month confinement after the birth of our little Murtabak. I decided to break my review about my stay down to bite size posts so that I could cover in my stay in more details as I have been getting request/emails and comments from my blog readers on specifics areas. You can read my earlier reviews when I first checked in for some tips if you are going to stay in a confinement center. I also wrote about the location and facilities in my Part 2 review. My Part 3 review covered the food that I was served and now my final posting will be about the general care for both Mummy and Baby!




My hungry little bundle of joy! Slept straight after feeding. He is so tiny and sooo cute! :)

Mummy

The Call Bell


You can read from my first review that upon check-in we were all given a little call bell to get whatever help that we need whilst staying there. The first 4-5 days for me were really difficult and challenging. I literally did not leave my room and only either walked to the toilet or to the dining table which was a few steps away from my bed. I used the call bell to ask for help for everything, refill red dates tea, help to walk to the bathroom because I was pretty unsteady, anything and everything to do with baby. So after feeding I would get them to come up and burp little Murtabak, change his diaper, take him for his morning sun, daily bath and checking. It was very helpful indeed knowing that if you needed any help at all, there were ready people to attend to you. I am also pleased to say that all the nannies and helpers there were very friendly, polite and helpful. They were always ready to cheerfully serve and assist where and when I needed them. I remember during my confinement with Chapati and I had my confinement lady for two months, it was pretty difficult to keep asking her to do stuff. One she is an elderly lady and it kinda reminded me of my own mother. Imagine asking your Mum to do trivial stuff for you. Two, she not has to look after you but the baby as well and cook and clean...etc. There is only so much that one person can really do. But at Yuan Yuan, there was always a few people around so if one was busy someone else could help. Though, I heard some stories that people sometimes do abuse the facility. Aiya...would attribute that to PPD maybe? 

Bathing & Personal Hygiene

Every morning,the caregivers would carry a pail of boiled herbal bath for each Mummy should we choose to get cleaned up. Personally for me, I have to have a bath everyday. It's just personal hygiene, what's more when you live in sunny humid Malaysia, you WILL sweat. I remember my first week, for some reason, every time I would wake up sweating and my pillow and bedsheets would be damp. Must be all the "warm" foods that I ate to help with my recovery.  Not to mention the fact that if you had a normal delivery, you would still be bleeding profusely for some time. 

It as funny because on my second day there, I was wondering what all the pails filled with black coloured hot water was. So I asked my room mate and found out that it was for bathing! :) I was so happy that I quickly proceeded to have a bath. Then I found out that the water was boiling hot and there wasn't any water that had been cooled to add to the herbal bath. Traditionally our Chinese customs dictate that we should only use water that has been boiled. I really couldn't wait and decided to use the shower head there to mix the water so that I could have a warm relaxing bath. I am not particular as long as the water was clean. However, I do know another Mummy who was paticular and she was not very happy. 
Simple solution, ask them to leave a big pail of boiled for you the night before and voila! Cooled boiled water will be available for you to use in the morning. 


There was another important part of the bathing and recovery process that I wanted to practice which is to have a Sitz bath everyday. It really helps in the healing process and you also feel a lot cleaner. You can read all about Sitz baths 
here. Taking the excerpt from the Healthline website:-


"A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath that cleanses the perineum, which is the space between the rectum and the vulva or scrotum. A sitz bath can be used for everyday personal hygiene. It can also provide relief from pain or itching in the genital area."

I remember when I signed up at, a sitz bath would be provided at the Center. But somehow that didn't materialise. I don't know if it was just because of a lack of execution or they simply forgot about it. Once again, I was not shy to ask. When I did ask, the answer was rather vague almost as if they didn't know what it was. There was also no facilities to have a Sitz bath. So I asked my Mum if I could borrow a shallow plastic container from her and I had already bought a lot of specialty salts during a Country Farm Organic warehouse sale specifically for this. So my Sitz Bath consisted of Himalayan Rock Salt Epsom Salt and Portugese Sea Salt. Come to think of it, I spent a whole lot of money to buys salts to soak my bum in! Arrghh...(story for another time...) I would ask the caregiver to bring me a pail of boiling water every night and mix the salts for a soothing soak. Tip: Bring your own container, it is better hygiene anyway.


Picture of My Salts
My Salts!


Laundry & Room Linen

The shared room had a shared laundry basket whilst the single VIP & Deluxe rooms had their own laundry basket.


Shared laundry basket in the Sharing Room

Laundry is done on a daily basis which is very good. They will collect your clothes to wash every morning and usually you can collect your folded laundry from a table in the general area upstairs. So please don't pack your whole cupboard! I packed about 7 sets of clothing, ie. pants, button down blouses (for easy breastfeeding) and underwear and I would rotate wearing them. I think I didn't even wear some of the clothes that I brought with me. Believe me it's a pain when you are packing to go home, so really only pack the minimum! I brought 2 towels with me so that I would always have one when the other was bring washed. In hindsight, I would bring 3 because there times when I dirtied the towel and both were being washed, I had to run downstairs get the one that had been washed and dried earlier.

Tip: Bring your own washing nets to keep your delicates like bras and underwear and remember to pack it when you go home. I left mine behind. (Sob...) 

With regards to room linen, they don't have a schedule to change them and it was based on your request. I didn't know that but because I was sweating a lot and leaked a lot of milk when I breastfed little Murtabak lying, I asked them to change the sheets fairly often. It wasn't until nearly the last week that I realised  because my sheets didn't get changed! :)

Tip: Ask them to change your sheets if you feel that it's dirty or you usually change your sheets weekly.

Doctors Appointments/KKIA Nurse Visits/Sneaky Home Visits

I wrote a post back in March about Murtabak's severe jaundice at birth  and because of this we had to go back to the doctor for blood tests during his first two weeks. So contrary the notion of confinement, I actually went out quite a bit! Secondly, the KKIA nurse home visits were to our own home, so every few days during the first 10 days of checking into the center, I would have to go home for a few hours to wait for them to come and check on me and baby.

I discussed with them that I had these appointments to go for and I was so pleasantly surprised that they offered to prepare and pack food for me.  They shared that I should not simple eat any outside food because it could be detrimental to my health as I had only just given birth. I feel that they went over and above in their service to look after me. They would pack the entire meal for me with soup! On top of that they also packed a flask of red dates tea so that I also had something to drink whilst I was out. It was complete with cutlery and serviettes too!


My wholesome and nutritious take away lunch whilst I was out and about

I would let them know my schedule the day before and they would have everything ready for me before I left. It was pretty awesome!

Tip: Bring your own thermal flask for the soup and tiffin carrier for the food. I for one prefer to not put hot food in plastic...chemical leaching and all that jazz...

Baby

I brought only one set of clothing for little Murtabak. This is to dress him in when we go home. During our entire stay at the Center, they provided disposable diapers and clothes for him.  This is so awesome as you don't have to spend extra money to buy disposal diapers! More savings! Newborns in their first month really go through a lot of diapers! What's more, the center used good brands like Huggies and Pet Pet.
 

Breastfeeding/Feeding

I shared with them when I checked in that I have decided to fully breastfeed my baby via direct latch so that I could build my milk supply. I didn't bring any feeding bottles at all, I wanted to make sure that they didn't "accidentally" feed him with the bottle. :) They were very open and supportive of this. Nearer towards the end of my stay there I started going out a lot more with Hubby and Chapati, they would then help to syringe feed Murtabak. One of the helpers there is actually a qualified staff nurse from the Phillipines.

They provide a fridge and freezer to keep pumped breast milk. So I started to build my supply and keep for the future. They will give you a container and you can put all your bottles or milk bags in there so that it doesn't get confused between Mummies.

I was pleased to find out that they help to wash and steam all the feeding and storage bottles, teats, storage bottles and pump flanges to ensure cleanliness. It was very helpful as I could pump and not worry about all the washing and steaming of equipment

Bath/Morning Sun

Every morning they will usually come up and bring little Murtabak down for a bath and during his first week or so, they would also take him out for a little sunshine due to his jaundice. It took about nearly two weeks for him to really get over it. Considering how bad he had jaundice at birth this was already very good.

Their baby toiletries were also of reasonably good quality and they also put on diaper rash cream for him every time he had a diaper change. Of course it wasn't the equivalent of Buds but Johnson and the likes of it is pretty acceptable.

Jaundice Meter

I believe that the center wisely invested in a Jaundice Meter. It is quite accurate and all you had to do was touch the metal tip to your baby's chest and the jaundice reading will appear on the LCD screen. I felt a lot more assured that he was slowly getting better and we didn't have to keep going to the clinic to get his little heel poked for blood to test or the need to worry about trying to estimate how bad his jaundice is by guessing his shade of yellow by the hour! :)


The Jaundice Meter

Baby Monitoring

Another aspect of baby care that I was quite please with was that they actually keep track of baby feeding, diaper changes, temperature and jaundice levels. Essentially, they keep a clipboard for each Mummy and baby.

They also write down the colour of your baby's stools and even the name of the helper that attended to your baby just in case you need to check on something.

As I was breastfeeding on demand, they didn't really do a good job of tracking my baby's stats. They only him tracked for a few days and then gave up. I think it is was also because the center has less Mummies and babies to attend to.

Tip: If the center is full, please do insist that they at least track your baby's feeding time and jaundice levels consistently. You can also ask to see your chart to make sure that they do not overlook something that may be of importance. 



This was my clipboard. I took a picture of it a few days after checking in.

Doctors Appointments/KKIA Nurse Visits/Sneaky Home Visits

I was pleasantly surprised when they handed me a little paper bag which was care kit for my Murtabak the first time we went out for a doctor's appointment. It was a mini diaper bag equivalent for Murtabak! Again it was very thoughtful of them. 

The paper bag contained:

1) 2-3 pieces of diaper depending on how long you would be away from the center
2) 2 little face towels for cleaning up Murtabak after feeding
3) 1 spare set of clothes 
4) 1 baby napkin to wrap him up in
5) 1 small packet of baby wipes


Luckily hubby remembered to take a picture. ;)

Special Care for Murtabak's Elective Medical Procedure

We took Murtabak in for a small medical procedure when he was about 2 weeks old. After the procedure was completed, we were given medications to apply and paracetamol. I took special care to share with them the kind of care that he needed. During the first few days, I was rather anxious and would check on them every time he had a diaper change and remind them when the medicines were due.  I am happy to say that they were extremely gentle with him and diligent with the medications. 

Overall, the one month experience for me was positive and it helped me to recover after giving birth. Time flew by really quickly and before you know it, Murtabak is almost turning 1 month old. It was time to go home!


my lil' cutie pie


We decided to leave after dinner, so I got to eat one more wholesome meal before going home. We were pleasantly surprised that the center got us a small cake to celebrate and also gave us a set of new baby clothes as a present for him turning 1 month old.



Family pic!

HOME SWEET HOME!



Update: 30th December 2016

The center has been rebranded to Culture Romance Confinement Retreat Center. You can reach them on their Facebook page at @cultureromance

Friday, 12 August 2016

Klinik Kesihatan Ibu & Anak - Maternal Concerns (Instincts) With Regards To Your Child

We are always looking for ways and means to save money and spend less even on important things like healthcare for our children. So going to KKIA for free medical check ups and immunisation is a no brainer for us. If you are pregnant or have recently delivered your baby and want to know how we saved a whole lot of cash on medical fees for our little Murtabak, you can read my KKIA posting to get an idea of how you can get yourself or your little one registered asap and start saving money on medical expenses.

However today I wanted to write about my recent experience when I took our little Murtabak for his 5 month check up. Both he and Chapati have been sick over the last few weeks. They were both phlegmy with running nose and cough. So it was rather tiring as it was difficult for them to rest well. I will usually request to see the doctor everytime I go for his KKIA check up if I have any doubt at all about his physical condition. Even though Chapati is only 2.5 years old, I have already forgotten a lot of things.


Catching some Zzzzz...while waiting for his turn

So as usual the clinic was packed with people and it took quite a while for someone to see us. When we were called and I sat down. I was very surprised that the nurse did not even bother to look at him and just continue to fill in the booklet. She asked me one or two questions (which I can't even remember what they were) and when I started to describe to her that he had been unwell and still is, she turned to me, her expression incredulous and said in Malay that there was nothing wrong with him. Mind you at this point, he didn't even bother to check him. I repeated again quietly that he had an on going couch and was phlegm, to which she once again said that there was completely nothing wrong with him and continued to write in the booklet.

I was of course a little annoyed that she was not even interested to hear what I had to say, so I raised my voice a little more and told to her that he was sick. She then put her palm on his chest and once again said that there was nothing wrong with him. At this point I was way past annoyed and told her directly that he was sick and I wanted to see the doctor. She then purposely asked me to come back after lunch because the doctor is going out for lunch now. I told her to her face, that it was not yet lunch time and I know for a fact that doctor is upstairs and would like to see. She was not happy I could tell and I did not want to cause a scene so I asked her if she was also going to give him his immunisation jab. She told me to come back after lunch since I wanted to see the doctor. I then asked her if she could jab him first before I go and see the doctor and she finally agreed. Honestly I was nervous about her giving him a jab, as I didn't want her to take out her unkindness and unprofessional behaviour on a baby that can't defend himself, what's more MY baby. So I was very watchful and decided to tell hubby aloud in her presence so that other people in the clinic can hear and hopefully shame her into doing the right thing. Although I can only hope and pray that the medicine jab she gave him was the correct and suitable one.

We then went to see Doctor Tharini and when I shared with her what I experienced I am so glad that she affirmed me. Little Murtabak did have a phelgmy chest! She specifically mentioned that when dealing with babies or children who cannot communicate, maternal concerns are very important in being able to treat a child. The mother or father is the caregiver and will be able to tell if there are changes in the conditions of the child. So I wasn't crazy after all and it only strengthened my resolve to be more assertive when it comes to healthcare for my child. This is coupled with our experience with the doctor when he was jaundiced during the first 12 hours of his birth. A child being unwell doesn't necessarily present itself with a fever. A middle ear infection could start and they still don't have a fever until it gets worse. (This is from a doctor, not just my quack advice...)


Chapati happy to be able eat lunch...finally...after a long restless wait

Anyway, while it is very good to be able to save a lot of money going to our government hospitals and clinics for medical attention. I have learnt that it is really easy for them to overlook something due to their workload and numerous patients. Please ask and ask and ask (nicely of course) to understand more, no matter how the nurses or doctors react/respond to you. You never want to regret that you allowed someone else to brush off your concerns when it could turn out to be something more serious. You have nothing to lose after all, if it is really nothing, thank them profusely and praise them for being a conscientious and exceptional healthcare provider!




Do you think that the trade off between price and care at government hospitals/clinics worth it? Or would you still prefer to go to private healthcare? 





Thursday, 11 August 2016

My Confinement Stay Review (Part 3) - Food

DISCLAIMER: Please do note that this is my personal experience. I understand that everyone has different expectations and therefore different experiences. Please do ensure that you do your own due diligence. Please visit the center and ask the questions which are important to you. I am happy to share if anyone has specific questions. Please do connect with me on themummynotebook@gmail.com




I finally get to sit down and finish my third installment about my stay at Yuan Yuan Confinement Retreat Center for my one month confinement after the birth of our little Murtabak. I decided to break this review down to bite size posts so that I could cover my stay in more details as I have been getting requests/emails and comments from my blog readers on specific areas. You can read my earlier reviews when I first checked in for some tips if you are going to stay in a confinement center. I also detailed some information on the location and facilities of the center. Now I am going to review the food and finally my last posting will be about general care for both baby and Mummy.

Food

Part of the general practices during  post natal period of confinement and one of the biggest part of it is the food that we new mothers eat. This is supposed to help us recover from the rigours of pregnancy, labour and birth. In our Chinese culture, there is literally a soup/food that can help to replenish any kind of deficiency! :) All about food we are...

So since diet is so important during this period, I thought that food deserved a whole section of its own! Personally for me, I love confinement food like the rice wine chicken/pork/kidney, vinegar pork trotters and soups! I am really a soup person, I can have soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still drink soup for a snack. So you can imagine my delight when confinement consists of drinking soup everyday for lunch and dinner! Heavenly! After all when we eat well, we provide the best quality breast milk for our precious little one! My little Murtabak!


Slightly over a week old and so clever to smile!

Hubby was very kind to upgrade my food package for an additional RM 500 to the VIP food package. He wanted to make sure that I get better types of fish and I also could make requests for the food that I want (within reason of course!) So after a few days of eating this is my experience. I arrived at the center around 3 something in the afternoon as we only checked out of the hospital at 2 pm. They were very flexible and gave me a snack and told me that dinner would be prepared very soon.



This was my very first meal. Ginger chicken with soy sauce.


My first supper of hot Milo and a really yummy peach/pineapple cake! 

My first two days or so I was on the non VIP food package, however I must say that the quality of food was pretty good value! The only exception was breakfast on my 3rd day of stay. I was really surprised that they would serve processed meat and chicken nuggets!! Suffice to say, I didn't finish my breakfast and only ate the bread and eggs. I shared with them that I would not prefer to eat processed meat for the time being. Once again they were very accommodating and took my feedback positively.


English breakfast? Ham, chicken nuggets and eggs?? Bacon I would have appreciated more and definitely eaten. ;)

Soups

I shared with them my love of soups and straightaway they asked if I would like a bigger bowl of soup at every meal. I said yes! So from then on, I would get a larger bowl of soup compared to the other mummies. Sigh, forgot to take a bowl size comparison but believe me the size of my bowl was way bigger than the other mummies and fuller too!

On top of that, everyday I would  get a special double boiled nutritious soup to help me in my recovery.

My supper of cake, double boiled soup and a cup of black sesame drink


Rice  

I love the rice that they serve at Yuan Yuan, the white rice is very fragrant and cooked very well. Not to soft and not to hard. It is just right. I am glad that they provide us with good quality rice. The only drawback is that I prefer to eat brown rice but that option is not available. Hopefully in the near future, the option for brown rice will become available for mummies who want a healthier option. As for me, I didn't mind eating white rice but I was so scared of putting on weight that I told them I wanted a really small portion of rice. Once again they were happy to accommodate my request.


Hahaha, size comparison for you on the rice vs vegetables portion. Vegetables wins hands down!


One more comparison against the rest of the food served. 

Vegetables

Once again I am very much a vegetables and fruit person. I can eat fruits and vegetables all day! They were happy to adjust my vegetable portion just like my soup portion. So I ate quite a lot of vegetables during my confinement. Needless to say I had no problems with constipation. :) Some of my favourites are in the pictures below.


Meat/Fish

Everyday they would give us a serving of either chicken, pork or fish. I must say that as far as I can remember, I would get fish for one meal nearly every day. I really enjoyed the meals as it was so wholesome! It was also tasty and they were willing to adjust to my tastebuds. On occasion I would get tau foo and egg dishes which I really love to eat. They also have other interesting dishes like this fried mushroom and chicken wanton. Delicious!




Scallops, Tau Foo and Mince Pork dish. Double Yummy! :) 



Fish Paste 


The different types of fish cooked in different ways. 


Afternoon Tea and Supper

I would usually get a drink with special bread/buns/cake or tong sui (sweet dessert)


Sweet potato and ginger soup 


Light and fluffy cheesecake


Breakfast

Every morning they will ensure that you get a glass of black sesame drink which is so invigorating in the morning. I very often woke up hungry and gulping down a hot cup of wholesome black sesame drink was very satisfying. Sometimes, I would even request for an additional serving of black sesame. You could choose between having fried noodles, soup noodles or bread for breakfast.



Fried Mee Hoon and Hot Black Sesame Drink



Cantonese Style Fried Noodles


On the whole I enjoyed the food during my stay although I must say that different people have different taste buds. I know a couple of Mummies there who didn't seem as happy with the food as I was but then again, it's hard to please everybody. Honestly though, the food was good quality and it was always served fresh and hot. 

They were also very generous in terms of the serving size and on and off they would serve the Mummies with little special treats. I got the ultimate! Double boiled birds nest! 


Special treat of Bird's Nest Soup! So generous of Mr Lee. Thank you.



My favourite meal - rice wine pork and kidney with ladies fingers cooked with ginger. Yummy!


The Good:
Wholesome and flavourful dishes
Good variety, however they were more than happy to accommodate my request for one rice wine dish everyday! Yum!
Able to adjust for taste, ie. more or less salty
Able to adjust for portion size
Just in case you feel hungry at anytime (pretty rare considering how much and how often you eat during confinement) there is Milo and snacks like biscuits and bread available 24/7. 


The Bad:
No fruits. I am a fruit a lover so I had my parents and hubby bring fruit over for me every other day.


Tip:

If limited by budget and you end up staying in the shared room, request for the VIP food upgrade. It is definitely worth it!
Share with them your food preferences from the very beginning. It will help them to plan your meals.
In the event you get hungry outside of the 5 feeding times, don't hesitate to ask the helpers there for a hot cup of Milo and some snacks. (Depending on what's available.)


I have one last posting to review their general care and phew I am done! Thank you for bearing with me so far. It has taken me quite a while to finish my posting. Later!



Update: 30th December 2016

The center has been rebranded to Culture Romance Confinement Retreat Center. You can reach them on their Facebook page at @cultureromance