iHerb purchase #2

*Evil laugh*

Hubby’s colleague recently went to the US and we decided to take advantage of his cargo load access to get “some” stuff from iHerb yet again. We bought 12 items weighing a total of 3kg+ comprising vitamins, toiletries, cream and teas.

The parcel

Because the purchase came up to more than US$40 and was delivered to an address in US, the delivery cost was free! That’s quite a bit of savings there, considering the products themselves are already discounted and rather cheap. For instance, the Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Third Trimester Tea (US$4.79) which I have been sipping since the beginning of my third trimester is almost 3 times cheaper compared to Malaysia (RM14.85 vs RM41.90)!

Here’s what I bought (from left to right):

My 2nd loot

1. Alba Botanica SPF 45 Natural Sunblock (Green Tea) – For me!
2. Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash – For mm
3. Alive! Whole Food Energizer Multi-Vitamin – For Hubby (180 tablets can last him 3-4 months for around RM98 per bottle)
4. Rainbow Light Prenatal Once Food-Based Multivitamin – For me throughout breastfeeding months (150 tablets can last me 4 months for around RM98 per bottle)

5. Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Third Trimester Tea – For the last few weeks of pregnancy
6. Dr. Woods Soothing Lavender Castile Soap – Body wash for all
7. Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Always good to keep a jar of VCO around
8. XyliWhite Kids Toothpaste Gel Strawberry Splash – For E
9. Animal Parade Gold Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamin & Mineral – For E
10. Florasone Eczema Topical Cream – For E…it’s homeopathic
11. Motherlove Sitz Bath Spray – For post-partum recovery
12. Hyland’s Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids (not in pic) – For E…it’s homeopathic

That should be all we need from iHerb…for now 🙂

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E turns 2! Wooooot!

When E was a newborn, I remembered feeling really exhausted and drained emotionally, wondering if this is how it was going to be forever. I thought, how long more would it be before we could feel more normal and sane? Then…

Zap, zap, zap! Swoooooooooosh….he’s 2!
O. M. G….2!
My baby is a grown-up boy now!

I still can’t believe myself. Indeed, time flies when you’re having fun. Parenthood has been such a rewarding, inspiring and time-consuming journey that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At 24 months, Ewan is…

► Very vocal. His speech capabilities suddenly accelerated at such amazing rate that he improved from two-word conversation to four- to five-word sentences overnight. For instance, he has been saying “Mi, take out” whenever he wants me to remove his Scratchsleeves. Now, he says, “Mommy, take out please” – clearly and accurately. Whenever we ask how his day was, he would try his best to answer by saying “Play ball” then “More balls”.

► Can count from 1 to 10, skipping ‘5’ and ‘9’ at times.

► Can recognise 30% of the alphabets. The other day, we asked him to spell out Daddy’s number plate. He got all six letters and numbers correctly, except one.

► Loves to sing along whenever we play his nursery rhymes music in the car. While driving, I can hear him saying the bits and pieces of each sentence. For instance, the Do Re Mi song would sound like “Do…deer…deer”, “Re….sun”, “Me…name…self” and so on – with pauses in between. Otherwise it would be humming, some words and sometimes ‘la la la’. It’s hilarious! That’s real entertainment 🙂

► Seems to understand the meaning of time. Whenever he asks for something eg. play at the driver’s seat or stay longer in the bathtub, we would say “Alright but two minutes only” to which he will reply “Yes, two minutes” while signing ‘2’.

► Having been a child that dislikes any kind of soft toys since young, I have recently introduced my childhood companion – a soft Pooh bear with a missing eyebrow – to him. He has grown an attachment to it, occassionally reading and talking to Pooh bear. Another of his lovey is his amber necklace, which he would remind me to wear it for him every time after bath.

► We love his pronounciation of “thank you” and “handsome”. They sound like “ah kiu” and “awesome”. So now we call him “handsome and awesome!”

► In front of new faces, he is still a rather cautious child and requires some time to warm up. Our friend James who loves kids, took 30 minutes to coax E before he was allowed to carry him.

► Like me, he loves variety. He loves mixing and matching Megabloks with an assortment of colours. There usually isn’t one same colour in each creation. And boy, he loves building really high towers!

► Because of the recent eczema flare-up and frequent application of moisturiser after moisturiser, he would willingly allow us to do it while sitting still. At times when the itch intensifies, he would ask his “Kakak Wawa” (daycare nurse) to apply “kh-nut oil” (coconut oil). The bath solution recommended by Joyce, Pinetarsol, seems to be working well.

► Potty training wise, he can alert us whenever a poop is coming but will usually refuse to sit on the potty. I don’t know what’s with boys and standing up to poop! He seems to enjoy the rehearsal experience of standing up to pee on the toilet bowl though, narrating “Stand…hold…pee pee…flush”

► Likes to test the boundaries and see how far he can go before we get mad at him. For instance, whenever he gets overexcited, he would hit or push us then wait for our reaction. Most of the time, we would give him a 2-minute time-out facing the wall at a boring corner, to which he would respond “Ewan beat, Ewan sit here” and pretend to sulk.

► I’m proud to know that he’s quick to apologise whenever he does something wrong. His tantrums are also much more easy to contain now that he can communicate better. The only thing we need to work on is his kicking habit. His legs can’t seem to stay still.

► Language wise, I started off speaking Mandarin to him since a newborn but somehow deviated to English after a while as it was easier to express myself that way. He understands whenever I speak Mandarin to him but most of the time, he responds in English. Even when he tries to speak Mandarin to me, I can’t decipher what he’s trying to say :S

♥ MEMORABLE MOMENTS ♥

► Whenever I pick him up from the daycare, I would usually spend some time there to interact with his friends and caregivers. And this is when I witness one of his efficiently funny antics. Whenever one of the Kakaks there called out “Milk time!” from the kitchen, E would be the first to dash for his milk bottle. And when I say ‘dash’, I really mean that he sprints towards the kitchen in wobbly running steps. Just last week, he dashed past me like a gush of wind…as if I wasn’t even there. The daycare operator told me he’s always the first to arrive for every task/activity. No idea where he got the ‘kiasu’ genes from but the running part? Definitely from me 😀

► E also knows how needy his Mommy is, so he’s always up with tricks to make me jealous. The other day, I said “I love you, Ewan”. Then he said, “Daddy, Ewan love Daddy” while patting Hubby. Pouting, I asked, “How about Mommy? Do you love Mommy?” He replied, “No no, Ewan love Daddy.” Boo-hooooooooooo!

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my dear son! We love you so much!

REVIEW: ScratchSleeves vs ScratchMeNot

After wearing Scratchsleeves for over a year and finally outgrowing it, I decided to try out ScratchMeNot this time around. Here’s a comparison between Scratchsleeves (SS) and ScratchMeNot (SMN):

Photos source: http://www.Scratchsleeves.co.uk
Photos source: http://www.ScratchMeNot.com
Click for larger and clearer view

Verdict
To date, we own 2 SS and 1 SMN. I usually choose practicality over aesthetic and personally prefer SS due to its thin and easier-to-dry material. The great customer service and quick delivery from the UK company are another two plus points. I received my SS in less than a week! However, if your child is constantly in an air-conditioned environment, I strongly recommend SMN for a better value for money.

Tip
Do not buy according to the recommended age sizes as UK/US babies are usually a lot bigger than Asian ones. Instead, measure your child from wing to wing and refer to the measurements.

Balancing online facts and an expert’s take

E’s regular paediatrician recently prescribed him an ointment named Protopic to treat his eczema. I had previously expressed my concern about the use of steroid-based creams and how I have isolated the ‘collection’ we have at home. Priced at RM200+ for a tiny 30g tube, we contemplated for a while before decided to try out Protopic.

Within a day of applying the ointment, E’s rashes subsided by around 70% appearance-wise. Minus some minor spots here and there, his skin went back to normal the following day. As the ointment gave him some burning sensation after application – judging from his reaction – I decided to do a research on Protopic and was shocked to discover that:

* It should only be used if all other medications (eg. steroid-based cream) cease to work.
* It is not safe for children younger than 2 years old. There are two concentrations of Protopic, namely the 0.1% for adults and children who are at least 16 years old, while anyone younger than that should use the 0.03% concentration. E was prescribed the former (!!!).
* Protopic has been linked to causing skin cancer or lymphoma although not entirely proven.

I panicked big time. Guilt, anger, confusion…you name it, I felt it. I just put on a cancer-causing cream on my child! Only a foolish mom will put her entire trust on an expert’s words. Bear in mind that I have always had huge respect for Dr Ling’s work. He’s one of the most responsible, dedicated and caring paediatricians we have come across so far. By talking to him, you will be able to sense his sincerity and passion in treating children. Okay okay, I admit his Patch Adams’ balloon sculpting skills won me over too… And it’s really rare to come across genuine doctors like him.

I couldn’t help but to ponder, is Protopic stronger and possibly more damaging than steroid-based creams? Will there be any horrible side effects we should be aware of in the long term? I found myself hiding the ointment deep beneath the clothes drawer. GO ROT AWAY THERE!

You know how sometimes we shouldn’t believe entirely what we read on the Internet? I decided to investigate. Armed with the facts I have gathered online, I shot an email to Dr Ling Shih Gang. His reply was not only detailed and shedded light on the concern, but also taught me a little about balancing my judgements, dissecting the context matter and be more in-depth minded. I’m sharing his reply as it is:

1. protopic as last option?
Yes and no. Yes because for some children whose eczema is very persistent, continuous usage of steroid based creams would be detrimental. protopis is steroid-free and therefore can be used regularly. No because for some parents who have phobia regarding steroid use, i prescribe protopic as first line.

2. protopic stronger and more damaging?
If you talk of stronger as being more effective probably not so as it is of equal potency as medium strength steroid cream. in terms of side effects, happiness –no steroid side effects! not much of other major side effects. maybe more damaging to our pockets! really costly! about 10x more!

3. not safe for children under2 years old?
to say it is not safe for those under 2 years old would be inaccurate. a better description would be that its safety is not tested in those below two and therefore unknown. having said that, almost all medications would have problems being tested in young children as it would be difficult getting participants. most medications including many we happily use for young children such as paracetamol have also never undergone such testing. only thru time sometimes can we be definitively certain of its safety.

4. 0.1% for adults , 0.03% for children/
you are right. that is the recommended prescription. however, whenever i use the adult strength, it is only once a day whereas the actual frequency is twice a day. i believe the potential of this causing side effects is negligible.

5.damaging side effects?
if there is any inkling of damaging long term side effects, i would not have prescribed to any patient, and FDA would not have approved its use at all. i believe its side effects if any is far less compared to steroids.

6.Protopic causing cancer?
studies done on tacrolimus (real name of protopic) has shown high safety profile when used topically. some studies showed cancer development but that was done in mice where they injected mice with 150 times the normal dose. applying topically is very diffenr from injecting and to use 150 times the dose, any medication used may also lead to cancer.

7. Online research?
very hazardous and misleading. you will always be able to find view supporting or opposing a particular issue. from vaccines causing mental retardation to water causing cancer, you will surely find it.

8. To use protopic?
If you feel uncomfortable after your brief research online, maybe you can search more or get opinions from more doctors on this. if you still feel uncomfy, then don’t use it, maybe switch back to steroids or other moisturizers. if i were a parent i would be more than happy to use it on my children. i would not prescribe your child a medication i myself would not prescribe my own children.
With that, I won’t say that I will use Protopic on E on a consistent basis, but only when it’s really required ie. it’s affecting his personality/sleep, he can’t function well from the constant itch etc. And of course, even when it is used, I’ll make sure that the prescription dosage is followed very closely – only a very thin layer once a day.

It’s back AGAIN~

I’m sad. Like really sad. Okay, more like guilty and helpless. And confused too.

E’s eczema is back again, and this time, with a vengeance. It has been dormant ever since he crossed the one-year old mark and I have been quietly rejoicing for around 10 months. Then, right after we returned from hometown on the 4th day of CNY, ka-boooom! Big time flare-up. Initially we suspected the dust in the house after being left untouched for a week. So Hubby changed the sheets, wiped, vacuumed and mopped the floors. It took two weeks to go away with diligent application of virgin coconut oil, Physiogel and Eurax. We also used the super duper expensive cream prescribed by his paediatrician – Protopic. I’ll write more about this supposedly cancer-causing cream soon.

His skin and face were back to normal for like 4-5 days before…ka-boooom, second time attack. This time around, it’s definitely NOT dust. He went back to daycare after a long break (remember the Thaipusam weekend) and came home with rashes. This morning, it was so bad I felt extremely horrible for being a working mum and not able to be there for him. If I were to stay home, his environment would be more stable and his immune system will not be subjected to so many possible allergens, right? But then again, how long can I keep him at home with me? He has to leave the nest one day too…*sigh*

What do I do now? I’m contemplating of another blood test – a more comprehensive one that will cover not only foods but also other factors like environments and chemicals. That would cost us around RM700+ to RM800+ and I’m kind of short of money now (believe it or not, I’m left with RM200 only in my bank account and it’s not even mid-month yet…no thanks to Chinese New Year. Never been this poor in my life). Money can always be earned again. It’s better to find out what are the other culprits, avoid them and keep the eczema under control rather than see him suffer week in week out. Dr Ling did mention that foods only constitute a very tiny trigger factor of eczema. It’s mostly environmental. So it could be more than just cow’s milk, egg and peanut.

We recently tried goat’s milk on him (before the flare-up) but I don’t think he’s allergic to this as the rashes only appeared two days after. His system reacts very quickly to allergens; licking some gelato will send rashes to skin surrounding his lips within 5 minutes, followed by itchiness.

I’m also thinking of trying traditional Chinese medicine on him soon…it’s time to try the alternative method.

I’m like a headless chicken now…at my wit’s end 😦