Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too much toilet time

C loves to read. When she is doing something she considers boring like eating or when she's on the 'throne', she has to read. When she gets her hands on a book, she'll not put it down until she's read the last page. We have difficulty getting her to stop reading during such times. While reading is a good habit, I feel, like in everything we do, there's a time and place for it.

Reading during mealtimes takes your attention away from enjoying your food and the company of the people you are eating with. You miss out on bonding time, sharing and talking with your family members.

Many people read while sitting on the 'throne'. I think that there's nothing too wrong with that except that when most people do that, they tend to spend a longer time in the toilet. It's alright if you are self-disiciplined and stop reading once you're done. With C, she can spend between half to an hour in there, even if she's done what she's supposed to do within 15 minutes. My main concern is that it is not a physcially healthy habit. Sitting too long on the toilet can cause hemorrhoids. As it is, she is sometimes constipated and has to strain.

Pressure to the anal veins, due to improper diet and straining causes the veins to become irritated and swollen, resulting in hemorrhoids. Sitting for too long on the toilet, like when you read in the toilet, also causes strain to the anal veins.

Here are some links for further information:
Mayo Clinic info
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
Hemorrhoid - Understanding Its Causes and Symptoms
And here's an excerpt from an article in Esquire dotcom:

Explains Dr. David Gutman, founder and lead physician of Advanced Hemorrhoid Specialists, "Hemorrhoids are derived from anatomical structures called anal cushions — like small balloons — embedded within the wall of the anal canal. When abdominal pressure is increased, these cushions instantly fill with blood to form a hydraulic seal to help prevent leakage.

"If the anal cushions become stretched out or get irritated, they are called hemorrhoids and can cause bleeding, itching, pain, and the protrusion of tissue through the rectum," the last condition also known as Jimmyfallonitis. "Sitting on the toilet too long can increase pressure on these anal cushions, which may eventually cause them to become hemorrhoids."

But doc, how long is too long?

"Well, you shouldn't be reading on the toilet. Bowel movements should be quick. I know people like to read in the bathroom, and what I would recommend is once they are done with the movement — if they insist on wanting to stay and read — they should wipe, flush, put the toilet-seat cover down, and sit on that. It's almost like sitting on a chair."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Putting it on paper

When C gets her hands on freebie spiral notebooks, empty school exercise books, or one of the few fancy cartoon-character pocket diaries in her collection, she will scribble, write or draw all sorts of things that come to her mind. Over the years, there's quite a pile of these half-used notebooks lying around.

She's written stories of her own in some of them. Some are short stories, some longer ones complete with prologue and chapters. She's designed 'game books' ala computer games, she's drawn pictures of her current craze whicb usually involve the books she's been reading. And then in some, she's jotted down her feelings, usually those of daydreams like a few years ago, her crush on a boy (not joking, and she was only 6 then!), or those of dissatisfaction and anger.

Her handwriting is not the nicest and if she were to participate in a 'best handwriting' contest, I can be certain that she'll not win. There are times when she's disinterested or impatient, especially when it comes to schoolwork, that her handwriting will be the most atrocious and sometimes totally illegible. She just doesn't care when it comes to being 'forced' to write things she doesn't like. But when it comes to writing on her own free will on a subject that she's interested in, like writing her own story, she can write pages and pages of words that are reasonably legible with proper punctuation even. She is one who does things only when she's interested and wants to, not because she has to, is forced to, or fears the consequences if she doesn't. I think there's pros and cons to such character....It's a challenge to draw the line and keep her in line where this is concerned.

And even in anger, she's able to write systematically. I came to this conclusion when I chanced upon a notebook she titled Who I Hate (original edition). I chuckled when I read it, and wondered what the 'original edition' meant. Inside, she wrote the date on the top right hand corner, and on the first line, the name of one of her teachers. Then on the next line was "Why: 4 reasons" and proceeded to list the four reasons in numbered format (talk about being systematic!). And those four reasons were actually valid, in my opinion. At the bottom of the page, she ended with "no one else" i.e. that's the only person she 'hated' at that time of writing. The rest of the notebook has been empty since that first jotting of 29 March.

While some parents might think I'm invading my child's privacy by reading her jottings, I feel that at this phase when she's still young (she's only turning nine later this year), it is still okay for me to find out things that she sometimes does not tell me verbally. Most of the time, she does express verbally her thoughts and feelings, especially when she feels strongly about something. It's important to know her 'inner workings' to better understand and deal with her. As she grows older, the privacy issue can come into the picture as respecting their privacy and giving them their own space will hopefully teach them to behave responsibly, knowing that we have entrusted them with the responsibility to know and do what's right.

Of course, verbal communication and sharing thoughts, feelings and problems every now and then is also important so that they know we're there for them when they need our support and understanding, and especially when it comes to the future turbulent teenage years.

Conscious parenting is certainly not a breeze!

Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture

This is an article I found in Scientific American.

Ten years ago, Certified Organic didn’t exist in the United States. Yet in 2010, a mere eight years after USDA’s regulations officially went into effect, organic foods and beverages made $26.7 billion. In the past year or two, certified organic sales have jumped to about $52 billion worldwide despite the fact that organic foods cost up to three times as much as those produced by conventional methods. More and more, people are shelling out their hard-earned cash for what they believe are the best foods available. Imagine, people say: you can improve your nutrition while helping save the planet from the evils of conventional agriculture – a complete win-win. And who wouldn’t buy organic, when it just sounds so good?

Here’s the thing: there are a lot of myths out there about organic foods, and a lot of propaganda supporting methods that are rarely understood.

Read the rest of this article here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sun & Surf with the MPO

Every two months, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) will present a weekend programme called Family Fun Day. It is a great way to introduce children to orchestral music in a fun, colourful and interactive manner. Last Sunday was one of them which ACE took the opportunity to enjoy. The Orchestra titled their performance 'Sun and Surf' and it was truly apt for this season of summer that many countries experience at this time of the year. Although here in Malaysia it is sunny all year round, many of the orchestra members come from countries with the four seasons and are looking forward to taking a summer break for some R&R from their hectic performance schedule.

When we mention 'orchestra', we tend to think of having to sit in our formal wear in a dim but grand hall, seriously concentrating on classical music played by the orchestra which members are all dressed formally in black gowns, suits or tuxedos with the conductor striking his most intense pose, baton in hand. No clapping in between movements, no shuffling in your seat and god forbid if you start chatting or coughing, or worse, allow your phone with its Lady Gaga ringtone shock the audience. No noisy kids or crying babies. It is an activity for the 'cultured' some would say.

But at Family Fun Day (note: they included the word 'fun'!), it's totally different. The dress code is smart casual (no sports attire, sneakers, slippers, jeans) and you can bring children. Children feature prominently on Family Fun Day. Now back to Sun and Surf. The usually boring rich wood-paneled stage with its rows of black chairs and music stands was decorated with just enough props of fake coconut trees and children's rubber ring floaties to let you know that you've arrived at the right place. And when it was time, an announcement was made to remind us to turn off our handphones. Then the entire orchestra, dressed in colourful floral shirts, many of them holding their instruments, walked onto stage! What a sudden burst of colours that changed the entire ambience. Some donned straw hats and sunglasses too!

Usually at Family Fun Day, there will be a presenter on stage to introduce the songs that will be played, giving a short background story of the song and its composer. He/she also gets the audience movin' and groovin' with some physical activities like getting the audience seated at one end of the hall to bounce a ball to audience at another end (that was at a previous performance we attended), standing up to do actions, dance and clap along, answering fun questions, and some kids also get to go on stage to do stuff.

At Sun & Surf, the presenter stepped onto stage with a rather large straw hat, gaudy Hawaiian shirt and shorts, beach slippers and gigantic plastic-framed sunglasses, giving everyone a bright and cheery greeting. He then introduced the condcutor who was also dressed in a blue floral shirt and huge sunglasses. They looked really funny. But this did not steal the limelight from the amazing, mesmerising, foot-tapping, hand-clapping music the orchestra played marvelously well that made you feel like getting off your seat to dance along -- which I could see many cute children doing with their parents swaying along. The presenter also got us to do some actions such as making wave-like motions, sunshine actions, flamenco finger snapping, clapping and at the finale, we all got to get up and shake or dance.

Songs that were played included (Sir) Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday, the classic Hawaii Five-O theme, Herb Alpert's Spanish Flea, an African lullaby (which included the use of the vuvuzela of the Fifa World Cup fame - a young girl got to go on stage to give a few blows into it), Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnole and the popular Brazilian Carnavale music. A male Brazilian-looking dancer came onstage and managed to persuade a female cellist to join him dancing to the lively Carnavale at the finale.

The array of instruments, besides the regular ones in a typical orchestra, that were used and highlighted through their respective solo parts also helped the audience learn the names, hear the sounds and see what they looked like. Other than the vuvuzela, there were the cowbell and timbales, glockenspiel, marimba, and castanets. The electric guitar and modern drum kit were on stage too. Listening to music played live in a concert hall by an orchestra is a totally different experience from just listening to it over the radio or watching it on TV or Youtube. Your entire body is involved and all your senses just come alive watching the various instruments and musicians in action and listening to how they all blend.

Family Fun Day is a good and exciting way to enjoy classical (and pop) music and widen our musical knowledge and experience. I would recommend all families, especially those with young children, to attend this event. Ticket prices are affordable from as low as RM15. It is held bi-monthly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Photography and video recording of the performance is not allowed so I'm not able to include any pictures in this post. I hope my description of it helped to give you an idea of what ACE enjoyed last Sunday at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas with the MPO.

Check out this website to learn more about the MPO and the many things it has to offer. Other than concerts, they have activities such as forums, chamber/ensemble performances, master classes, and talks.