Blogger Interview #2: A Smoker For 13 Years, This Daddy Blogger Quits After His 3-Year-Old Daughter Said …

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“Papa, if you smoke too much, you will die, then we cannot be together.”

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I’ve recently spotted a father smoking at a pedestrian crossing, with one hand holding onto his young daughter’s hand, and the other holding that lit cigarette. I instantly felt disgusted at how he could subject his young child to his second-hand smoke with not a thought for her health. So I have a lot of respect for fathers (and mothers too) who decide to quit smoking because of the young ones at home.

I got to know about daddy blogger Steven Teo via Facebook and mutual friends. And yes, admittedly, I was surprised at the number of children he has. FOUR! And the family lives in a 3-room flat!

I love those wall stickers, by the way 😀

family blogger Steven Teo

[From left: Stacci, Steven, Laifong, Steffi, baby Louie, and Leroy. All pictures in this blogpost are courtesy of Steven Teo from http://theperfectfathersg.blogspot.sg/]

Naturally, I have too many questions for Steven – why four children, how the couple coped with that miscarriage, how they navigate our crowded public transport system as the family doesn’t own a car, the financial burden of raising four children in Singapore, and so much more!

But first, that saying goodbye to cigarettes…

Back in May 2011, his firstborn (Steffi) came up to him just as he was reaching for his cigarette pack and uttered those words: “Papa, if you smoke too much, you will die, then we cannot be together.”

1) You decided to immediately quit smoking because of what your daughter told you that day? 

Well, I did smoke that last pack because I felt it was a waste of money to throw it away. 😀

And I’ve always suspected that my wife had taught my daughter to say those words to me. But she has never admitted it.

At that time, I had been smoking for some 12 to 13 years, and Steffi said those words to me just as I was reaching for the cigarettes.

I mean… which smoker doesn’t know smoking is bad? We just have to find the right reason to quit. And usually that reason is not for ourselves. It’s usually for our family.

2) Few people know that before you had this huge family with 4 kids, there was a miscarriage. How did you both, as a couple, pick yourselves up and decide to continue trying for children?

Well, we thought we were still young. I’d gotten married at age 24, and my wife was my poly classmate. And we had already been trying for a while before conceiving. Despite the miscarriage, we thought we would try again.

And we didn’t expect that it would be so fast… my wife conceived Steffi within a year!

daddy blogger steven teo

3) I’ve also seen a recent Facebook post you did, in which you mentioned that borrowing or lending money to relatives is one sure way of never hearing from them again. What was that about?

I tried to borrow money from a wealthy relative, so I could purchase a bigger flat. Because it’s a resale flat, there’s a high COV (*cash over valuation) amount that I had to fork out in cash. I wanted to borrow 30K to 40K from that rich relative, not as a pure loan, but with collateral I’d put up. I knew I could pay it back.

But that relative did not contact me anymore after I’d broached the idea of a loan.

It worked out well in the end, thankfully, as we dropped the idea of the resale property and applied for a BTO flat, and with a big family, we were accorded priority status.

4) That question you’ve probably been asked a million times: Why FOUR kids? 😀

The running joke among friends is that I don’t have a television set at home and so there is nothing to do at night! 😀

People are always asking why we have so many kids that I’m used to those questions already.

I think one important factor, besides the love of children, is that we have strong support from my mother-in-law, who is actually our ‘neighbor’ – she lives just two units away on the same level. She loves kids, took great care of our firstborn, and encouraged us to have more children. She has 4 daughters, while my own parents have 4 sons, so you might say this runs in the family.

Baby Louie and that very photogenic Leroy:

Steven Teo family blogger

We don’t have serious thoughts about number 5 at the moment, but I think it’s still possible! 😀

[Grace: Give this couple an award already! Come on! Any award! SG50 Most Inspiring Couple???]

5) Would it be possible for either you or your wife to quit and stay home to take care of the children?

It will definitely take a lot of courage to do so, though it is not impossible. I’ve been toying with the idea, actually. If it happens, we’ll definitely have to “tighten the belt” much more!

6) How does Blogging help relieve some of that financial pressure when you have 4 kids to take care of?

Blogging definitely helps with regard to visits to places of interest. A family of my size will have to spend quite a bit on admission tickets to places such as the Zoo or Universal Studios Singapore. With invites, my kids get to enjoy all of these attractions for free.

Aside from blogging, I’ve also won a number of Facebook contests, such as Friso’s Family Of The Month award, which gave us S$600 in vouchers that we used to buy milk powder with.

Last year, we also had a ‘Name Our Baby Boy’ contest on Facebook because we were at a loss for a name starting with ‘L’ for him. The older boy, Leroy, was named after a cartoon character in that ‘Stitch’ movie and he lives up to his name, being quite naughty. 😉

The youngest one was eventually named Louie, and we think the name suits him because he is cute, and also because it sounds like “lui” which is a hokkien term meaning “money”, and therefore easy for his grandparents to pronounce. 😀

7) How do you deal with materialistic demands from children, e.g. wanting a new iPad or iPhone?

Steven Teo family blogger

I don’t really buy new things for my kids. From Steffi onwards, we have been thrifty and there are a lot of hand-me-downs. For instance, Stacci is wearing clothes that Steffi used to wear.

Through my mother-in-law and through contests, we get many toys. In fact, we have an endless supply of toys as birthday gifts and Christmas presents from family and friends. It has gotten to the point whereby I think the children don’t really treasure these toys, unlike people from our generation – we cherished the toys we had! I think it’s not a very good thing.

I try to inculcate the right values in them, but it’s often a matter of ‘They ask, and they get’ from relatives and friends. They bank on their ‘cuteness’ to ask for the toys they want. It’s kind of scary, actually.

8) I’ve met other bloggers’ kids who can be quite unfriendly and maybe even a tad arrogant. However, your kids are so friendly, happy, and approachable! Why?

We encourage them to interact with our friends, and even with strangers. When Steffi was 18 months old, we sent her to a childcare centre to socialize with other people. We teach them to be polite, courteous to all, and to always put themselves in other people’s shoes – “Will you want your friend to treat you like that?”

And my wife also says that I’m like a big kid! 😀 We play a lot at home. You’ve probably seen me executing a balancing act with my 4 kids.

Steven Teo family blogger

And when there were 3:

Steven Teo family blogger

At the end of the day, each kid is different. Louie gave us a scare with Kawasaki Disease. He had an ongoing fever which didn’t subside even with medication. Only treatment via an IV transfusion of hemoglobin would work. This disease has to be diagnosed early or else there will be heart problems and enlarged arteries. Even though it was diagnosed early, Louie has an enlarged artery and this means he is at risk of coronary problems later in life, such as heart attacks or heart failure.

9) How do you navigate our transport system with FOUR kids?!

It’s always a problem on buses. My twin-seater pram (which can actually seat 3 kids) is allowed on MRT trains. However, open prams are not allowed on buses. So I have to fold the pram and get 3 kids on board.

Steven Teo family blogger

Most of the time, they will fall asleep during the ride, and this can be ‘sucky’ especially if I’m on my own with them. If you wake them up, they’ll throw tantrums and so I usually end up carrying all 3 of them. Yes, it’s actually possible to carry 3 children all at once.

10) What’s your advice for couples who are inspired by your example, and despite having no kids yet, want to aim for 4 children?

That Nike slogan! 😀

My neighborhood friends all have 2 or 3 children. They see us with 4 kids, and how it can work out, and they go ahead and have 2 or even 3. The people you hang out with could help determine your number of offspring. 😀

[Grace: Maybe I should stay away from Steven then. Hahaha! But his kids are the most adorable!!!]

And going on group holidays can be described in one word: Terrible.

The last trip to Bali (two years ago), which I organized, was just… MASSIVE. We had a total of 8 families and 13 kids then. Now, there’s an addition of 6 babies!

And at home, yes, with a big family and many kids, the guilt is inevitable. One kid or another will sometimes come up to me and say “It’s been a long time since I went out with you and Mommy alone”. So I try to bring them out on my own too. 🙂

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Check out Louie’s face in the picture on the right 😀 

Steven Teo family blogger

family blogger steven teo

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Through Steven’s sharing, and via his blogposts, I get to appreciate the joys of being in a large(er) family. While I would personally heed the government’s (previous) call to stop at one, I do think Steven and his wife have made the right decision in making more cute babies.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s largely due to selfish desires that I do not want to have, say, two or more children. It’ll likely turn my life upside down (or right side up, I wouldn’t know). But, like Steven, I do also believe in spending as much time as possible with my kid(s) at home and engaging them in play. We can buy kids all the toys in the world but it’ll never be as good as a parent’s undivided attention during those minutes or hours of play. With the financial burden of a larger family, it is unlikely that I’ll be able to spend more time with my (future) children if I’m constantly thinking about making more money to pay the bills.

And I’m glad that Blogging is able to give Steven’s kids certain opportunities that they might not have had. Admission tickets to some of these places of interest are indeed pricey. And I, too, have been on the receiving end of some lovely invites and freebies because of my status as a blogger. I’ve been to places I’d probably never visit on my own, and done things I’d not attempt previously, such as climbing Mount Kinabalu or going seawalking! 😀

And I do think that among the many things Steven has done right as a blogger, what I appreciate most is that he does not ‘pimp’ his children on social media, even though they are super cute. I think it’s morally reprehensible to make your young children your money-making tools and to be proud of it. From his blog and social media accounts, I get to know Steven as Steven, not as the father of that cute kid Leroy or that sweet Stacci. Because I believe even little kids should have their privacy respected and not have pictures or videos of them uploaded multiple times a day, everyday, for all and sundry to view.

And despite being the busy father of 4 children, Steven has also taken some time out to inspire other parents via the Health Promotion Board’s I Quit campaign. I believe his sharing has touched the hearts of many smokers who want to quit smoking but have never quite found the “right reason” to. I’m a Health Ambassador (on a voluntary basis) with the Health Promotion Board, and I’ve always had difficulties explaining to smokers at our roadshows about why and how they should quit smoking, having never been a smoker myself.

If you are a parent and also a smoker looking for a good reason to quit, I do hope you think about what 3-year-old Steffi said…

“Papa, if you smoke too much, you will die, then we cannot be together.”

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Slaying The Dragon In Each Of Us

Slaying The Dragon

I made sure I took a dump before writing this. So people can accuse me of many things but they cannot say I am being ‘anal-retentive’. 😉

Now, first things first. I have not read that blogpost, but concerned people around me have sent me questions regarding its contents, so I have a vague notion of what’s in that blogpost (and I do believe the writer had the good sense to consult a lawyer before uploading it so it would seem ‘milder’ as compared to blogposts uploaded years ago).

C's comment

It is true that the doctor wrote down, verbatim, what I told her in the consultation room. And it is also true that while the rest of my affidavit submitted to court was typed out and printed, I had handwritten the ‘poor sleep, headaches, and loose stools’ portion as “symptoms” of my being harassed, and some say, ‘cyber-bullied’.

I knew that anyone who wanted to embarrass, insult, torment, or simply, mock me would pounce on that ‘loose stools’ bit.

And I have been proven right.

Has anyone wondered why I wrote down those symptoms with a pen instead of having it typed out and printed? 😉

So it would be impossible to miss.

*And by the way, I’ve already shared on Facebook and Twitter that if you want to send me toilet paper, I prefer the one with Hello Kitty print on it. Don’t be a ‘cheapo’ ok? 🙂

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If you have been bullied in school before, you’ll know this: The bullying doesn’t stop even if you have already shown signs of distress.

For instance, the school bully taunts Little Amy and makes her cry. Does the bullying stop there? More often than not, it doesn’t. “Oh Amy Amy, why are you crying? You’re such a crybaby! Crybaby, crybaby, crybaby!”

In adulthood, what does this translate to?

If you hand over a medical document/report to describe what you are experiencing (because now your bully doesn’t see you crying in the playground), does he/she wave it about like a victory flag? I believe you have the answer.

Come to think of it, who has never experienced ‘loose stools’ before? A more commonly used term is ‘diarrhoea’. I had the pleasure of being hosted for dinner by my Malaysian blogger pal on Wednesday night. The delicious Thai food cooked by a real Thai chef in a restaurant in KL was SO spicy that we all had loose stools by Thursday morning. I can’t say that anyone complained, because the food tasted really good – we just couldn’t stomach the ‘heat’. LOL.

Hands up if you have never had diarrhoea or loose stools before in your entire life! 😀

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Now, I have already shared in an earlier blogpost that I am no saint, I made mistakes previously in calling my hater certain unflattering names, and I have apologized for it, but the person had requested that I remove that blogpost with the public apology. So, what to do?

I have also requested that Wendy remove her blogpost. Email sent last night. Will she do it?

Wendy Cheng Email

I have never tried to be right all the time. I do only strive to be fair.

Even when I did that blogpost about how even the best bloggers lie, I made sure to state that I felt I also fail to be 100% honest 100% of the time. Because no one is capable of that. Can you be 100% honest all the time? No, so to be fair, I was not targeting any single blogger. I was stating that I, like all other bloggers, have encountered times when companies and agencies have asked us to remove the “advertorial” / “sponsored post” tag, or been asked to write about a product/service using keywords and phrases stated in the press release. In fact, I’ve been requested to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement recently to state that I cannot reveal details about one agency doing this, i.e. requesting that the blogposts don’t come with disclaimers.

Now, about kids and family members being dragged into blogger spats. I am definitely of the opinion that the innocent people not be brought into these things. And I fully respected the fact that a loving mother would want to celebrate her son’s birthday, and be there with him 100%. So, the day before the birthday, I stated publicly on my blog that I would not do anything to ruin their day if I did not hear from her. But I did hear from her. I received an email with a super-long Letter Of Demand from her lawyer (sent to me on the child’s birthday). It had excessively harsh terms, and even asked me to propose a sum of damages, which they would later want to negotiate too. In short, she wanted to sue me for “Defamation”.

It was not your typical cease-and-desist letter.

So I made the comment on my Instagram post that someone seems to care more about herself than about her child’s birthday. Simply because I had already stated I won’t say anything more about our spat, and that she could send me letters or emails or even make more comments about me on any other day. Why not just be full of love on your child’s birthday? Kids only turn age two ONCE.

Was my offer of an olive branch on a cute kid’s birthday fair? I think so. Would I want her to do such a thing for me if I have a kid and am celebrating his birthday today? Yes, I would.

You and I know that children, especially really young children, are innocent and should not be brought into any blogger spat.

Now, what about the adults at home?

Perhaps this deserves mention: I brought in the subject of her mother not because she had merely, or ‘accidentally’, hit the ‘Like’ button on her daughter’s less-than-kind comments about me. I am of the opinion that if a mother is strongly opposed to other bloggers commenting about her son, that this same mother should also be strongly opposed to her daughter’s caustic remarks about another blogger.

I believe someone old enough should also have the good sense to be fair enough, and not have double standards.

Don’t you think that’s only fair?

In any case, pardon me for not being clear enough in my affidavit about why the mother came into the picture. I am no lawyer, and have never had any legal training, and did not know I need a 37558345982391-word ‘Written Submission’ to go along with it. But now I do. 😉 (*You don’t really need so many words but you get the idea. *wink* In any case, just hire a lawyer. Or if you need a template, email me and I might be able to send you one)

*As for the Protection Order (PO) + Lawyer fees, let me just state upfront that it’s no 5-figure sum. I spent approximately S$2,000 all-in, GST and all. If you need proof, email me and I can scan and send you the bills when I get back to Singapore.

If you have been harassed and need to get a protection order, here are some things to note:

1) Furnish proof of a threat of physical harm to you or your loved ones. I avoided naming imaginary stalkers or setting up hate sites just to bolster my case because I respect that whatever I submit in court has to be under oath, and you just don’t mess with such things. If you say someone is stalking you, and claim to have proof, then if he/she later shows proof of being overseas at that time, then well… you are sc***ed. And if you set up a hate site which people later trace back to you as the originator, double whammy.

2) If the Respondent you are taking out a PO against does not have a public identity (i.e. is anonymous) then it gets tricky. But get a lawyer and he/she can help you work around it.

3) If the Respondent does not show up in court, you have a higher chance of getting that PO granted.

Now, my case: My Respondent sent a lawyer to represent her, I did not state that I was being stalked/had death threats made against me/have hate sites about me that constitute a serious harm to my well-being, PLUS my Respondent had removed all her comments made about me a few days before the Pre-Trial Conference. Also, her lawyer was instructed to send me her affidavit and written submission THE DAY BEFORE the PTC, “out of goodwill”.

So the judge and I agreed that there was no longer a need for a PO since my Respondent seemed very agreeable, and even undertook not to make any further comments about me after the PTC. And so I withdrew my application for the PO. Why pay more money and go for mediation, right? Since the judge already said it’s gonna be costly to go all the way and fight for a PO, and my Respondent seems, erm… friendly?

And now… you know what happened next.

The blogpost was uploaded yesterday and my Respondent even tagged me on Instagram (a first!) so that I would be notified that she had blogged about me. RIGHT BEFORE I took to the stage at the Malaysian Social Media Week for my presentation. One can easily check the agenda online and know what time I’ll take to the stage. 😉 Tun Dr Mahathir spoke just before I did, and it was definitely a ‘peak in my career as a blogger’. Did my Respondent extend the same courtesy to me, the way I did for her child’s birthday?

It was definitely not ‘gentlemanly’ (or ‘ladylike’, if you want to be anal about gender), and in Singaporean terms, definitely ‘BUAY STEADY‘.

But is Life always fair? Nope. So I’ve learnt.

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Why the title ‘Slaying The Dragon In Each Of Us’?

Because, to be fair, all of us have a “dragon” within us. As Tun Dr Mahathir shared with us in KL yesterday, social media presents us each with opportunities to have “absolute power” and we are largely free to “irritate” people online.

This is why I have publicly admitted and apologized for using the term “pineapple blogger” (and its variations), after my Facebook follower pointed it out. I believe the term is not vulgar but could still be offending to the party on the receiving end.

I think that’s fair.

Have I received any form of apology, other than what I thought was a sincere undertaking to not make anymore “insulting, threatening or abusive” comments about me after 15th April 2015’s Pre-Trial Conference?

Nope.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it’s time we start to use social media responsibly. Also, I do hope for a better blogosphere.

I have learnt so much just these couple of days. And I have to thank my Malaysian blogger pal, Sock Peng, for giving me this opportunity to learn and grow. She is one of the top Mandarin bloggers in Malaysia and she often does things which make me (a Singaporean blogger) slightly puzzled.

1. When I came to Malaysia for a holiday earlier this year, she sent out a couple of emails and helped get me and my fiance sponsored accommodation. She doesn’t get paid to do this. This certainly goes beyond just taking your visitors from overseas out for dinner.

2. An advertiser contacted her regarding advertorials to promote a trendy range of bags, and she asked if I’d be keen to take on the assignment too, so people in Singapore could know about this brand which is famous in Taiwan but doesn’t have stores in Singapore (yet). And yes, I got the deal, and no, she doesn’t get paid to refer me.

3. She was involved in filming for a TV program about local food recently, and she even recommended other bloggers to the producer, and got these bloggers featured on the show too.

The way she helps support other bloggers is something I try to emulate. In fact, I had the pleasure of recommending Sock Peng to the organizers for Malaysia Social Media Week 2015 so she could join me as a fellow Speaker at this amazing event, and share about ‘Mandarin blogs’.

And I am happy to announce that she did a great job too. 🙂

Likewise, in Singapore, I have had the pleasure of recommending bloggers to advertisers for paid assignments. Bloggers like Alvin, Regina, Kirbie, Steven Lek and Steven Teo, Melvin, Dawn (her surname’s not Yang), Hong Peng, Joey, Rachel, etc., have received paid assignments due to my recommendations.

So I now have an announcement to make:

I no longer want to be a blogger. I want to be an author, a speaker, an anti-bullying activist. I’m not just a blogger.

I have been on both the receiving and giving ends of Bullying. Whether passive-aggressive or not, I have (and I do admit) retaliated in my own way. And if this should happen again, yes, I would urge netizens to call me out on that and say “Hey, this isn’t what an anti-bullying activist does!”

More importantly, I want to support bloggers. Because, to me, you don’t have to be in my ‘clique’ or inner circle before I’d recommend you to an advertiser of mine. If the advertiser wants to engage more bloggers but doesn’t want to take the route of paying a marketing agency for influencers, I’m always happy to link them up with bloggers I trust will do a good job of promoting their product or service.

To conclude this very long blogpost, let me just say that it’s been a great learning experience and I believe everything happens for a reason. If you ever feel like ‘shitting your pants’ in fear because a bully has come after you, you are welcome to chat with me. Honestly, I have been terrified before – ‘poking’ a dragon in the eye (or so that analogy goes) can have disastrous consequences even if you think you have brought enough ‘fire extinguishers’. Who knew what an application for a PO against a not-anonymous top-blogger-awarded-by-the-company-she-has-shares-in would bring about, since it was a first?

What have I learnt? There will always be Bullies, and there will always be Trolls. What matters most is not their attacks on you, but your response to them. Don’t let someone else’s ‘dragon’ awake the ‘dragon’ in you.

Heard about the Cherokee Legend about the ‘good wolf’ and the ‘bad wolf’? Well… I leave you with this:

[From wizdompath.wordpress.com]

One evening, an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

National Cancer Centre Singapore – Happy Staff Delight Customers

National Cancer Centre Singapore

I have a few friends and family members who have succumbed to cancer, yet I’ve never been to the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) before. The NCCS is one of the finalists for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, and I was invited to visit the Centre and discover for myself how the care for patients is their staff’s top priority. In the picture above, I am reading one of the many ‘thank you’ cards given to staff by their patients. I was also brought on a tour of the premises.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just patients diagnosed with cancer who go to the NCCS. Dr Terence Tan from NCCS shared with me that some people come here for genetic testing, for instance, so as to get peace of mind if they are at high risk of getting cancer. Early detection and early treatment helps save lives!

NCCS receives about 135,000 patient visits a year and provides purely outpatient service – there are no beds here. If patients have to be hospitalized, they go to SGH next door and the doctors go over to look after them.

The NCCS has the most advanced radiotherapy equipment in this part of the world and while Clinical Quality is important to them, they hold Service Quality close to their heart as well.

I was surprised to note that Patient Relationship Officers greet and welcome patients at the entrances to the clinics. In fact, the NCCS has an in-house service quality program ‘NCCS Cares’ which they developed together with the Disney Institute. The aim is to keep staff happy and satisfy their customers. Thus, their Service Quality mission is to provide the “Best Experience through Compassionate Care”.

Dr Terence Tan shared with me that patients are with the NCCS for life – they do not get discharged, and do still come back even after the end of the treatment cycle. “We have a unique opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with them, and that’s what our staff do.” For instance, patients who require radiotherapy come to the NCCS every day for 7 weeks, and develop a bond with the people who help treat them.

I also had the privilege of speaking with a Senior Staff Nurse, Audrey Quek, whose animated gestures and infectious bright smile, along with cheery chuckles, clearly helps lighten the atmosphere in any room. Audrey has 35 years of nursing experience!

My photographer pal, Max Clyne, sent me a hilarious caption for the photo below:

Nurse: “I know Kungfu ok”

Grace: “I note it down”

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Audrey was actually explaining to me about how doctors can sometimes get too taxed with the patient load (there is an increase in the number of new patients year on year) so nurses help spend time with the patients, befriend them, share about surgical procedures, let the patient know what to expect in the operation, and also how to cope with the pain after, etc.

The aim, she says, is to help the patient feel relieved and assured of getting good service and anything else they may need during the course of their treatment, e.g. financial assistance or counselling. There is also a Cancer Helpline they can call.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

[Me, Audrey and Dr Tan]

The NCCS sends the top 3 or 4 staff each year to Disneyland to see a world-class service organization at work, so they can come back and infect the rest, according to Dr Tan. Audrey was one of the winners of the annual trips.

She shared…

“I asked myself why is everyone so happy there? I compared the two different clientele. Disneyland is for pleasure; people go there to enjoy themselves. Patients here hope somebody can help them in all aspects – finance, mental and emotional support, and hope that they can get comfort and assurance. The principle is the same – find out what is the client’s objective.”

~ Chemotherapy Unit ~

There I met another two of NCCS’s staff: Chia Chor Hoon and Simon Chen.

Chor Hoon shared with me that the place can get quite cold sometimes so the staff will offer patients some warm water and blankets – “We cannot take away the pain, but we can give them some comfort and reassure them that we will take good care of them.”

Simon, who has worked in NCCS since 2010 shared…

Our mood can influence our patients’ mood. Why not make a difference in their lives by suggesting ways they can cope with the disease, how they can lift themselves up? Bring in their family members to encourage them e.g. by sharing about the positive things in their prognosis. Whenever I see any signs of good news, e.g. a decline in cancer markers, straightaway I will tell them so they have something to look forward to… A glass can be seen as half-filled or half-empty. Even if the doctor tells you there is only 30% chance of recovering, tell yourself you are 1 of the 30% instead of focusing on ‘oh dear, the odds are against me’.

Simon’s belief is that besides treating patients, staff have to help give them hope too.

~ Radiotherapy Unit ~

At the Radiotherapy unit, I got to meet Yusnita Bte Omar, the Assistant Manager for Education and Training. She has been at NCCS for 19 years! She showed me how they prepare patients for the treatments.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

In radiotherapy, patients have to be immobilized, e.g. for treating brain tumors and such. The sheet she is holding has to be warmed up, and quickly placed on the patient’s face, and contoured to the shape of the patient’s head, and made into a “mask”. This is especially tricky when the patient is a child or is claustrophobic. Yusnita says they have to first understand the patient’s fear and demonstrate to them the procedure first – either on other patients who have given their consent, or on one of the medical officers.

Mask-making takes 20 minutes and patients have to wear the mask every day of treatment. Yusnita shared that during training, they have all undergone the mask-making procedure and know that the contouring around the neck region feels like someone is strangling you. This helps them empathize with patients, and they will sometimes hold the patient’s hand, put him/her at ease, and once the mask hardens, cut it open around the eye region so the patient can ‘see’ and feel less afraid.

With kids, they use play therapy. They will wrap a piece of the material around the child’s wrist first, “like a Ben 10 super watch”. They will also print cutouts of the cartoon character and paste them over the “watch”. This process helps the children feel how warm the mask will be, and how it “grabs your skin”. Only as a last resort will general anesthesia be used.

Because they have made what is a usually-scary procedure fun for the children, Yusnita shared that “some run in and say I’m ready. Can I have my mask today?” as it makes them feel like superheroes.

Radiation Treatment Room:

National Cancer Centre Singapore

The radiation treatment room has in-room music, and sometimes patients bring in their own music selection too. Each treatment room comes with a ceiling in a special theme – garden, waterfall, sky, etc.

The beautiful ceilings play a role in helping to calm them down. One of their patients was a diver. Before starting her treatment, she went on a holiday then she came and laid down on the treatment bed and made the comment that “oh, I’m still holidaying”. 🙂

Yusnita shared with me about the importance of Passion in her job – “Know why you are here, who you are working for, keep on track. Burn that passionate flame. It’s important to love what you are doing.”

And because her department is located in the basement of the NCCS, colleagues who work at level 1 and above joke about not knowing they exist. Yusnita shares with a smile:

“There’s no sunshine so we bring along the sunshine with our personality. If not, the place will be cold. We need warm people around.”

Indeed, the staff that I met at NCCS are warm, cheerful and optimistic people. Like Dr Tan shared, “it takes a special kind of nurse to work here”.

Key Takeaway: I found the visit an eye-opening experience. I had expected an atmosphere of ‘doom and gloom’ but what I noticed was an upbeat, cheerful atmosphere. And staff selection is so crucial for organizations handling patient care – you need motivated, friendly, and optimistic people to spread a message of hope among patients who could be feeling very helpless. Thus, the company culture of care and respect among the staff, and the shared mission of delivering the best experience through compassionate care, has resulted in a situation whereby happy staff continue to delight and serve patients every single day.

Coffee Nowhere – The Food Is Good Too!

Coffee Nowhere

Earlier this month, I was invited to a food tasting and coffee appreciation session at Coffee Nowhere at West Coast Plaza (#B1-06/07). Coffee Nowhere (pronounced “Coffee Now Here”) serves specialty coffee which is surprisingly good, and should come with a warning that you’ll probably not like your kopitiam coffee as much after trying theirs.

*I like how they have kids’ high chairs stacked near the entrance; it serves as a “Welcome” sign to parents with children. 😉

One fellow blogger, Steven, brought three children and they sure had fun. You’ll see a picture of one of his daughters (super cute!) later in this blogpost.

Also, check out the pictures Coffee Nowhere fans took and posted on Instagram:

Coffee Nowhere

Interesting coffee art! 🙂

Us bloggers had the privilege of learning about coffee appreciation from one of the few Q graders in Singapore, Mr Ian Consulta. If you pop by, head to the Brew Bar where lessons will be conducted. 🙂

Coffee Nowhere

But here’s a quick guide if you don’t know what the terms “Syphon”, “Aeropress”, “French Press” and “Pour Over” mean in relation to cofffee…

Coffee Nowhere

Go ahead and try one of each if you want to find your favorite. 🙂 As for me, I like the aromatic coffee brewed using the Syphon method.

What I believe makes Coffee Nowhere stand out from the crowd of ‘coffee places’ is the quality of the food they serve. After all, it is most troublesome to have a cuppa at a cafe, then up and leave for food elsewhere. At Coffee Nowhere, just sink into a comfortable seat and enjoy the brew and the food.

Here are my favorite items from their menu:

Cheesy Fries (S$8.80) – This is one guilty indulgence. A tad pricey, but worth the calories. 😀

Coffee Nowhere

Pizza Nowhere (S$19.80) – First time I’m seeing lychee on pizza! Together with smoked duck, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese and their homemade tomato sauce, this is one yummy pizza.

Coffee Nowhere

Wild Mushroom Pizza (S$16.80) – I’m a fan of mushrooms so I love this pizza too. The crust is so thin that yes, 2 people can probably finish eating this pizza together.

Coffee Nowhere

Burger Nowhere (S$14.80) – If you’re ordering this, my advice is “Don’t Share!” as you’ll want to eat the whole burger on your own. The beef patty is juicy and tender, and I love the fries too! 😀 And yes, 8 of us shared 2 of these burgers, and now have to return for more.

Coffee Nowhere

Chili Crab Spaghetti (S$14.80) – We ordered two plates of this yummy spaghetti and somehow it still wasn’t enough. I think their homemade sauce does the trick, though I haven’t discovered the secret behind the sauce.

Coffee Nowhere

As for dessert, oh boy, it was divine. The reason I ordered the Granny Smith Apple Cheesecake was ‘cos I’ve never eaten such a cheesecake before. Why Granny Smith Apples? I don’t know. But the cake is absolutely delicious. And the chocolate-y drawing is too cute…

Coffee Nowhere

The brownie with ice cream tastes as good as it looks:

Coffee Nowhere

And there’s the little girl posting for pictures. Steven is so lucky to have adorable kids like this little angel.

Coffee Nowhere

I skipped the waffles as I was feeling too full by then but I was told that the waffles are pretty decent. And at a promotional price of S$9.90, it’s affordable too.

Coffee Nowhere

The next time I pop by West Coast Plaza, I’m heading back into Coffee Nowhere for a burger and coffee. Plus that yummy cheesecake! 🙂

154 West Coast Rd #B1-06/07

https://www.facebook.com/coffeenowhere.sg

The Patissier’s Passionfruit Meringue (My Pre-Workout Snack)

image

Bought 2 slices of this Passionfruit Meringue (S$8.03 each) from The Patissier at 4 Mohd Sultan Rd (Tel:67373369), near my gym. It’s my pre-workout snack for today. Lol. *And no, don’t try this if you are battling a weight issue. Get something less sweet.

For some reason, it’s my trainer’s favorite cake shop. (@_@)

I like the meringue… crisp, chewy, tangy from the passionfruit and altogether, delightful. Because meringues are so sweet, it’s good to have the passionfruit ‘counter’ it.

The Patissier has another outlet at 18 Ann Siang Rd #01-01 (Tel: 62205565). You can check it out if you’d like. I’ve never been to that branch before. [Update: There’s only one outlet now and it’s at Mohd Sultan Rd]

I’ll likely update this post in future with other purchases from The Patissier. There are a few other pretty creations I wanna try. Oops. 🙂

And yes, despite the family history of Diabetes… eat first, talk later lah.

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes (My First Attempt At A Kid’s Story, Ok)

So, it’s Monday and I have some Cocktail Truss Tomatoes still sitting in the fridge for about a week now. And I felt like I had to do something with them before they started rotting. I thought they were simply giant-sized cherry tomatoes, but a Google search found that…

“Truss” refers to the fact that these tomatoes are ripened on the vine (as opposed to being picked unripe and then left to ripen actually off the vine) which maximizes their flavour. They are then picked still attached to their stem. Also, the tomatoes at the top of the vine, the truss, ripen the first. If baking, pierce the skin to avoid the tomatoes exploding. Keep them out, in a bowl, at room temperature; don’t keep them in the fridge – the cold spoils their flavour.

Oops. Didn’t know they should be kept at room temperature. Oh well.

Anyway, I came up with a quick 5-picture story, or comic strip if you’d like, about my Sonny Angels and the tomatoes, hence the title ‘Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes’. 😀

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes

Sonny And The Giant Tomatoes

Ok, I have no idea what they were doing in the last bit. 😀 Kinda like what people do at the fountain of wealth, I guess. Just going round in circles.

And if you are a parent, feel free to share this story with your kid and ask:

1) Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? *wink*

2) If you find something strange on the ground, and you think it might be food, should you pick it up and eat it?

3) If you find a lot of yummy food, should you eat it yourself or share it with your friends?

(In case you are wondering what those toys are, and where to get them, check out my blogpost about Sonny Angel HERE)

Singtel’s UnexpecTech Deals bring their BEST tech-show deals to you, NOW!

SingTel UnexpecTech Deals

I love the awesome bargains at tech shows but the place is always so crowded and it is extremely tough to get to the deals that I want. Haven’t you experienced this before too? 😉 This year, Singtel’s helping us enjoy their tech show deals in a rather unexpected way – with their UnexpecTech Deals. 😀 There is just one catch though – it’s still fastest fingers first, but this time round, you can hunt for those deals in the comfort of your home!

Does that sound good already?

You will get the chance to take advantage of their best tech show deals before the tech show even starts! And that’s not all! You can enjoy these deals at the Singtel Shop or get them online!

And it’s also a lot of fun.

Singtel has hidden all their fabulous deals – from extra mobile data, to free months of fibre and great discounts on phones – in the one place you’re used to searching for stuff: your web browser! Say what?! Yes!

Get online and get everything from Free data, Extra Talk Time, Free 3 Months Off Fibre Broadband, $0 Samsung Phones, Xiaomi Powerbanks and more! As I’ve mentioned, it’s fastest fingers first as some of these are limited in quantity, so you’ll have to really swoop in fast.

Don’t worry though, as they have put clues all over the place to help you search for the deals. Just keep your eyes open for them…

Here’s one clue I found:

Hint: Milky Way is not a bar.
unexpectechdeals/_ _ _ _ _ _tab4forfree

😉

Have a lot of fun, get good deals, plus stand a chance to win some great prizes too! You’ll have to act fast because some of the really cool ones are available for a limited time only! *wink*

For more details on how to play, visit Singtel.com/unexpectechdeals and keep an eye out for all of these #unexpectechdeals 😀 Good luck and happy shopping!

SingTel UnexpecTech Deals

Maku Store Singapore’s Beautiful Pastel-Colored Sling Bag :)

Maku Store Singapore

Yes, I have yet another new bag from Maku Store Singapore! It comes in a combination of 3 beautiful pastel shades that makes me think of macarons, for some reason. 😀 And pictured above are my Sonny Angels, and some macaron erasers from Smiggle Singapore. Aren’t they all just too adorable?

This sling bag is just the perfect size for dates and meetup with pals, when I don’t want to carry a bag that is too big or heavy. This one is just right, and makes me carefully consider what I want to put inside.

Maku Store Singapore

There’s a compartment at the back (as you see above) and it comes with a detachable sling which you can remove if you want to carry this as a handbag.

*Sudden brainwave: Instead of using the sling, I can hook on a little dangly accessory by the side. I’ll definitely have to look out for either a furball or hello kitty one. Hehehe.

And here’s what I had in the bag for this shoot. There’s my umbrella, a book (which I will review soon), my Maku Store limited edition wallet and a powerbank from Julie’s Biscuits! 🙂 And of course, my handphone will fit in there too, except that I used my phone to take these pictures.

Maku Store Singapore

The bag also has an inner zipped compartment and some card and phone slots too. I usually stick my ezlink card and a tube of eyelash glue into those slots.

Maku Store Singapore

This is definitely one pretty bag you will want to treasure. To check out this design, and many more others, pop by Maku Store Singapore at Bugis Junction #03-20 and be sure to quote my name / blog name for exclusive discounts and privileges. And don’t forget to check out the limited edition items in store. For barely any difference in price, you can be the sole owner of that particular design (bag, wallet, etc) in Singapore! Yes, no one else has this particular wallet featured above. *WINK*

Get Some Cash After The Train Breakdowns

Have you noticed how the trains in Singapore tend to break down pretty often during rush hour? Could be due to a signal fault, train fault, track fault, whatever fault.

The silver lining to this is the possibility of making some cash out of taking off-peak trains. I, for one, LOVE avoiding peak hour (human) traffic and I travel off-peak pretty often. Hence, I’ve taken full advantage of the Travel Smart Rewards program which rewards commuters for taking off-peak trains.

Here’s a screenshot of my actual CASH earnings:

Travel Smart Rewards

Yup, I’ve made a total of S$58 so far. Not bad eh?

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions:

1) How do I earn points?

You earn points by taking train trips using the CEPAS card registered in Travel Smart Rewards. You will automatically earn 1 point for every 1 kilometre you travel on the train all day during a weekday, Monday through Friday. Weekend and bus travel does not count. If your trip on the train begins during a designated decongesting hour on a weekday you will receive 3 points per kilometre instead of 1 if you are Bronze, 4 points if you are Silver, 5 points if you are Gold and 6 points if you are Platinum! Decongesting hours are between 6:15 – 7:15am and 8:45 – 9:45am.

2) What are “decongesting trips”?

Travel Smart Rewards targets peak-hour commuters by offering them additional credits for shifting their schedules to less congested trains before or after the morning peak commute hour. Specifically, a “decongesting” trip is initiated between 6:15am and before 7:15am, or between 8:45am and before 9:45am on a weekday. You will receive 3, 4, 5 or 6 points per kilometre travelled if you are Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum respectively, when you tap into the train station during one of these decongesting hours.

3) What are “peak” trips?

A “peak” trip is any trip Monday through Friday initiated between 7:15am and 8:45am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during this hour.

4) What are “off-peak” trips?

An “off-peak” trip is any train trip Monday through Friday, which is initiated after 9:45am and before 6:15am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during these hours.

5) How many points do I earn on weekends?

Train travel on Saturdays and Sundays are not part of Travel Smart Rewards at this time and no points are earned for travel on weekends.

In short, all you need to do is sign up for a free account, link your ezlink card with your account, and you will automatically start collecting points each time you travel by train on weekdays. You can have the system auto-spin the wheel using your points, and when you earn any amount of cash, you will receive an email to notify you to either get the cash credited to your ezlink card at any top-up machine, or be credited to your bank account. I’ll always get the $$ added to my ezlink card balance. Free travel. 🙂

Sign up here -> https://travelsmartrewards.sg/r/8Lv7vtMx/

National Flowers of the World (In My #Migmepedia)

I’ve been having fun on a new social media platform (*new in Singapore, but rather established elsewhere). Head over to Migme and look for me (‘thegracetan’) 😀 I’ve recently been doing a series of posts about the National Flowers of various countries over on Mig and this blogpost is a summary of the posts that I’ve uploaded.

-> Connect with me: http://mig.me/u/thegracetan <-

1) National Flower of Nepal

National Flower of Nepal

2) National Flower of Bangladesh

National Flower of Bangladesh

3) National Flower of India

National Flower of India

4) National Flower of Pakistan

National Flower of Pakistan

5) National Flower of Singapore

National Flower of Singapore

6) National Flower of Maldives

National Flower of Maldives

*repost of National Flower of Nepal*

National Flower of Nepal repost

7) National Flower of Indonesia

National Flower of Indonesia

8) National Flower of Korea

National Flower of Korea

9) National Flower of Malaysia

National Flower of Malaysia

10) National Flower of Syria

National Flower of Syria