Friday, August 31, 2007

August News Flash

This month we welcome 1 new model to our childcare centre

Jeffrey is 3 months old

His older brother Adam who was with me three years ago


Ms Jade’s first birthday!!!

Guo Yi celebrated his second birthday this month.

Guo Yi is my dinner date from Monday to Friday in the article Feeding your toddler

Guo Yi took me out to dinner to celebrate his birthday

My relationship with Guo Yi’s family goes back 10 years when his parents attended my antenatal class with their first baby.

Marie helping to paint our bedroom

Happy Merdeka!

On 31 August 2007, Malaysia will celebrate its 50 th independence day. Let us all hold our hands, celebrate it together and pray for the longevity and prosperity of our motherland. We all should let out our voices by shouting “Merdeka!” and enjoy together all the hard work our forefathers have done for us. Malaysia will continue to be an independent country till the end of the world. Long live Malaysia!

Malaysia is one of the most pleasant, hassle-free countries to visit in Southeast Asia. It is buoyant and wealthy, and has moved towards a pluralist culture based on a vibrant and interesting fusion of Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous cultures and customs. How did it all start?

In 1826, the British settlements of Malacca, Penang, and Singapore were combined to form the Colony of the Straits Settlements. From these strongholds, in the 19th and early 20th centuries the British established protectorates over the Malay sultanates on the peninsula. During their rule the British developed large-scale rubber and tin production and established a system of public administration. British control was interrupted by World War II and the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945.

Popular sentiment for independence swelled during and after the war. The territories of peninsular Malaysia joined together to form the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and eventually negotiated independence from the British in 1957. Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first prime minister when he proudly declared the independence of Malaya by shouting out “Merdeka” seven times at the Merdeka Stadium on the glorious day of 31 August 1957

In 1963 the British colonies of Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah joined the Federation, which was renamed Malaysia. Singapore's membership was short-lived, however; it left in 1965 and became an independent republic.

The flag of Malaysia, also known as the Jalur Gemilang ("Stripes of Glory"), comprises a field of 14 alternating red and white stripes along the fly and a blue canton bearing a crescent and a 14-point star known as the Bintang Persekutuan or Federal Star. The 14 stripes, of equal width, represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government, while the 14 points of the star represent the unity between these entities. The crescent represents Islam, the country's official religion; the yellow of the star and crescent is the royal colour of the Malay rulers; the blue canton symbolizes the unity of the Malaysian people. This blue canton was originally chosen to represent a connection between the federation and the Commonwealth but this was gradually downplayed and eventually supplanted by its current interpretation.

Just for fun

There are three major races in Malaysia - Malay, Chinese and Indian.

The Malays have the political power and so they set up the party UMNO, which literally means "U Must Not Object".

The Chinese, on the other hand, controls most of the economy and they called their party MCA which means "Money Conquers All".

Then there are the Indians who have no say in politics or economics. They set up their party called MIC. Hence, every parliamentary meeting the Indians would ask: "Must I Come?"

We celebrated Malaysia’s 50 th birthday at a Charity event for an orphanage

The highlight of the evening was a performance by a group of orang asli children. They were really good.

Traditional festival

August 13 th is the first day of the seventh lunar month which marks the beginning of the Hungry Ghost month when the gates of hell open to let out the ghosts to wander among the living. T he festival represents a connection between the ancestors and the descendants, the living and the dead, earth and heaven, as well as body and soul. Prayers, incense, hell money, and food are offered on roadsides to appease these ghosts and discourage them from entering the homes of the living.

The Hungry Ghost festival also known as Phor Thor is a month long celebration. Some private enterprises sponsor the staging of street operas and puppet shows which can be seen in different neighborhoods most nights of the month.

Myths and legends

There are at least two opinions on how the practice of feeding hungry ghosts came about. They may differ in content, but both share the same motive behind the custom, which is about performing charitable acts for the less fortunate. marks the beginning of the Hungry Ghost Fest

One legend tells you the story of Mu Lian a well-to-do merchant who gives up his trade to become a Buddhist monk and his mother. After attaining enlightenment he thought of his parents and wondered what had happened to them. He used his clairvoyance skill and found his father in heaven and his mother in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. His mother had been greedy with the money he left her. He had instructed her to kindly host any Buddhist monks that ever came her way, but instead she withheld her kindness and her money. Mu-lien rescues his mother from hell by battling various demons and imploring Buddha’s help. A deal is made and Buddha installs a day of prayer and offering in which monks can pray and make sacrifices on behalf of dead ancestors or hungry ghosts.

Yet another tale tells how the practice of Phor Tor originated from Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. She was believed to have been the first person to feed the poor famished spirits by throwing a banquet for them. Unfortunately, the ghostly guests behaved rather badly, which resulted in Kuan Yin summoning the King of Hades himself to discipline them. From then on people pray to this deity to ensure good behaviour of the ghosts for the whole year, thus avoiding undue mischief. Despite his fearsome looking countenance, the Tai Su Yah (King of Hades) represented mercy and charity. This humane perspective is supported by orthodox Buddhism which believes that the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is actually meant for all children to practice filial piety towards living parents, parents of the past lives and even parents of future lives!

Other activities include, burying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies "giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

Taboos during the Ghost month

During the “Hungry Ghost Month” children and young toddlers should not go out, especially at night, for fear of them being harmed by malevolent “Hungry Ghosts”. Having a wedding or moving house is considered bad luck and going to the beach and swimming is discouraged because many swimming tragedies have taken place during this period.

The 30th day of the seventh moon is the last day of the festival. At midnight paper money and other goods are burnt in a giant bonfire as a final gift. The ghosts return to Hell and the gates are shut after them.

If you like reading hungry ghost stories try “Singapore Ghost Stories” by Russell Lee.

The Buddha's happy day

To Buddhists, the seventh lunar month is a month of joy. This is because the fifteenth day of the seventh month is the Buddha's joyful day and the day of rejoice for monks.

The origins of the Buddha's joyful day can be found in the scriptures. When the Buddha was alive, his disciples meditated in the forests of India during the rainy season of summer. Three months later, on the fifteen day of the seventh month, they would emerge from the forests to celebrate the completion of their meditation and report their progress to the Buddha. Because the number of monks who attained enlightenment during that period was high, the Buddha was very pleased.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The story below is in memory of Belinda Emmett, in appreciation of Kylie Minogue, some of my friends and relatives, and anyone who has been struck down by cancer.

A handsome, middle-aged man walked quietly into the cafe and sat down. Before he ordered, he couldn’t help but notice a group of younger men at the table next to him.

It was obvious they were making fun of something about him, and it wasn’t until he remembered he was wearing a small pink ribbon on the lapel of his suit that he became
aware of what the joke was all about.

The man brushed off the reaction as ignorance, but the smirks began to get to him.

He looked one of the rude men square in the eye, placed his hand beneath the ribbon and asked, quizzically, “This?” With that the men all began to laugh out loud.

The man he addressed said, as he fought back laughter, “Hey, sorry man, but we were just commenting on how pretty your pink ribbon looks against your blue jacket!”

The middle aged man calmly motioned for the joker to come over to his table and invited him to sit down. The guy obliged but was not really sure why. In a soft voice, the middle aged man said, “I wear this ribbon to bring awareness about breast cancer. I wear it in my mother’s honour.”

“Oh, sorry dude. She died of breast cancer?”

“No, she didn’t. She’s alive and well. But her breasts nourished me as an infant and were a soft resting place for my head when I was scared or lonely as a little boy. I’m very grateful for my mother’s breasts and her health.”

“Umm,” the stranger replied, “Yeah.”

“And I wear this ribbon to honour my wife,” the middle aged man went on.

“And she’s okay, too?” the other guy asked.

“Oh, yes. She’s fine. Her breasts have been a great source of loving pleasure for both of us and with them she nurtured and nourished our beautiful daughter 23 years ago. I am grateful for my wife’s breasts, and for her health.”

“Uh huh. And I guess you wear it to honour your daughter, also?”

“It’s too late to honour my daughter by wearing it now. My daughter died of breast cancer one month ago. She thought she was too young to have breast cancer, so when she
accidentally noticed a small lump, she ignored it. She thought that since it wasn’t painful, it must not be anything to worry about.”

Shaken and ashamed, the now sober stranger said, “Oh, man, I’m so sorry mister.”

“So, in my daughter’s memory, too, I proudly wear this little ribbon, which allows me the opportunity to enlighten others. Now, go home and talk to your wife and your daughters, your mother and your friends.”

And here, the middle-aged man reached in his pocket and handed the other man a little pink ribbon. The guy looked at it, slowly raised his head and asked, “Can ya help me put it on?”

This is breast cancer awareness month.

Do regular breast self-exams and encourage those women you love to do the same.

Please send this on to anyone you would like to remind of the importance of breast cancer awareness.



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