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If you have ever watched the Mickey Mouse Club, you would know that a Mouseketeer is a seriously talented child. You only have to remember that many current actors and singers  – Oh hello Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake! – started their careers with the famous TV series.

Do you spot them? Some famous celebrities started their journey in showbiz as Disney Mouseketeers (Picture from Disney)

Malaysia’s own young talents

If your child is hooked on Malaysia’s very own Club Mickey Mouse, you would know the show also features seven youngsters who are bubbling with talent. The Malaysian edition of the popular series is led by Head Mouseketeer Charis Ow, 26, who is joined by Mouseketeers Dheena Menon Jayadeep (Dheena), 13, Erissa Puteri Hashim (Erissa), 14, Ahmad Faiz Najib (Faiz), 15, Gabriel Noel Pountney (Gabriel), 16, Nur Alianatsha Hanafi (Natasya), 14, and Mohd Wafiy Ilhan Johan (Wafiy), 15. It took a nationwide search with open auditions and talent agencies to find the right personalities for the group and show.

Makchic talks to Dheena, Erissa and Wafiy to find out how they started their musical careers, and how their parents encouraged their talents.

Dheena: I would sing and dance in front of my family and relatives


How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I have always been passionate about music, and that’s thanks to my mom because while she was pregnant with me, she would let me listen to music! Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve been taking music lessons since the age of 3. And I’m really grateful for that because now as a Mouseketeer on Club Mickey Mouse, we get to sing, dance and act, so it’s a dream come true for me!

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents are my biggest supporters. When I was younger, they would take me to music classes. And we’ve had many memorable moments as a family singing together in the car while driving! And now that I have become a Mouseketeer, they are still my biggest fans and supporters. I would have not gotten to where I am if it wasn’t for them.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I can play a number of instruments such as piano, guitar and ukulele. Recently, I’ve also developed a new interest in drums.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance skills! When I was auditioning my role for the Mouseketeer, I looked to YouTube for music and dance inspiration.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
Well, since young my parents would tell me that whenever there is a family gathering, whether it is Chinese New Year, Christmas or Deepavali, I would perform! I would bravely sing and dance in front of my family and relatives. My love for performing continued on till today and it became the reason why I decided to audition for Club Mickey Mouse. It gave me joy to perform in front of an audience and it also made me realise that I brought joy to the fans of the show. That makes me feel really happy.

Erissa: Playing the guitar is stress relief


How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I was born into a family of entertainers. Both my mom and dad are in the entertainment industry. Mom is a singer, and Dad is a keyboardist and guitarist and naturally I was drawn to music and singing since I was 5 years old.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
As entertainers, it was natural for my parents to encourage me to develop my musical skills. They would guide me on how to play musical instruments and we would sing along together as a family. Having their support has also motivated me to work harder in my role as a Mouseketeer.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes I do, I love playing the guitar because it is a form of stress relief and it helps me to improve my singing skills as I play and sing at the same time.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance. Before my audition for Club Mickey Mouse, I researched different Disney songs and performance that I could learn from on YouTube, and that helped prepare me well for my audition.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
I have been performing since I was young, so I had many fond memories and experiences singing and dancing. However one of my most memorable experiences would be when I was participating in a singing competition on Astro Ceria Popstar, a singing contest that I participated with my fellow Mouseketeer Wafiy Ilhan. We were sent for training sessions before the filming took place. The experience taught me that you have to work hard and pursue your dreams with determination. And it was that same mentality that led me to audition for the role of a Mouseketeer, and I hope that my experience will inspire other kids as well.

Wafiy: Working hard for what you want

How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
My love for music started when I was introduced to different television music programs when I was 3.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents recognised my interest in music, and to cultivate it further they sent me to music classes for training. To encourage me further they took me to participate in different singing auditions. From then on, I have been participating in many auditions especially those by Astro. And through hard work, I have landed many roles, including being part of Malaysia’s first group of Mouseketeers and hosting Club Mickey Mouse on Disney Channel.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I love the guitar and keyboards and I can play both well.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, with YouTube being so accessible to everyone and there are so many fun programs, kids these days can pick up music and dance skills. Another fun way to learn music and dance is to visit our Youtube channel, where you can check out the Mouseketeers in action.

What does it take to be a Mouseketeer?
Being a Mouseketeer requires you to have talents in areas such as singing, acting, hosting and dancing. But above all, it requires you to be brave, responsible and be an exemplary role model that kids and fans can look to for inspiration. I also hope that my experience will inspire kids to never give up on their dreams, and to work hard for what you want.

If you’re a parent looking to inspire your musically-inclined child in a family-friendly way, tune in to Disney Channel, Astro Channel 615 every Friday, at 1.30pm, where you can see the Mouseketeers in action!

By Nellie Liang

I have woken up for the fourth time tonight to nurse my baby, and I know tomorrow morning I will feel like the back end of a bus.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved those quiet and sweet moments, nestling my babies. But so help me God, I have had it with this breastfeeding business.

My firstborn son, who is now 2-and-a-half, was mixed fed till he was one. My second son has been exclusively breastfed since he was born about seven months ago.

With my firstborn, breastfeeding was challenging from the first day

Breastfeeding was not easy for me, right from the start. Before my first son was born, I remember discussing the issue with my husband. My mother had warned me that she had serious problems breastfeeding, opting finally to formula feed my brothers and I. I had assumed, therefore, that this was going to be the case with me.

I told my husband that I was going to try my best, but if it did not work, then so be it. My preoccupation at the time was on the imminent labour. At the back of my mind, however, I did think that formula would be a possibility in the feeding of my child. I remember feeling okay about it. Relaxed, even.

The Realities of Breastfeeding

Little did I know what a total mindfuck my breastfeeding journey would be. I did not know how this was going to affect me so much and turn me into an emotional, blubbering, bitter zombie.

I would resent my husband, who slept through pretty much everything, but especially through a baby cryfest at 4am.

My breast pump would be a source of much hate – you stupid, loud pump with your stupid fiddly parts and your stupid bottles and stupid freezer bags. And oh, you sterilisers, damn you shitty sterilisers with your high and mighty ‘killing 99.9% of harmful germs’ crap.

Because I had such difficulty at the start, I had to resort to formula milk early on while waiting for the milk to come in. (I had no idea about colostrum or how ‘milk came in days after’). This would make me feel like a failure right from the get go, and result in me being extra obsessed about breastfeeding my baby. I was so determined that I went from feeding my baby 100% formula milk to 100% breastmilk. Only mums who have gone through the whole breastfeeding melodrama would know how difficult that is.

The Pain, Pain, Pain

Mixed feeding meant I had the worst of both worlds. I had to endure the never-ending chase for good supply, while dealing with the horrid world of pumping, bottles, milk powder and so on and so forth.

I had two tongue-tied babies – which means they could not latch properly, therefore resulting in excruciating pain and bloody, raw nipples. The agony was worse than labour, I remember thinking incredulously – and I have a pretty strong threshold for pain, having had two natural births without a lick of pain relief.

My mother watched me sadly as I cried when it hurt. Sometimes I would hold the baby right before a latch, pause, and take a deep breath, grimacing before the impending anguish. Mum would softly say to me ‘You don’t have to do this, let’s just use formula’.

Forcing a smile on a hard day – pumping equipment a regular sight in our household

I don’t know what happened to the me who said I wouldn’t torture myself about breastfeeding. Yours truly became the least chill person about breastfeeding. I would burst into tears talking to midwives, lactation experts, health visitors, even random strangers. I would spend quiet hours in the night wondering how to relieve blocked ducts and nipple blisters. Nursing on all fours, vibrating toothbrush on blocked ducts, popping blebs – you name it, I did it.

My husband was surprised at how intense I became over the whole thing – he kept reminding me gently that formula milk was fine and he would support me in anything I wanted to do. But my brain was somehow wired to this notion of success – this pressure to nourish my babies through my own mammaries. When anybody told me about how ‘formula was fine’, I imagined stabbing them repeatedly in the forehead. YOU ARE NOT BEING HELPFUL, GO AWAY. This was me, furious with my perfectly helpful and kind husband and mother.

The Lactative Prison Sentence

Why did I do this to myself? After having gone through all that with my firstborn, I was more ready with my second son. I knew what to do now. It would be cool, things would be better.

And they were, to an extent. I knew how to flag up tongue tie faster, and get the release procedure done in a flash. The pain at the start was still horrific, but I cried like shit persevered through it all.

My second son had the benefit of being breastfed since he was born. But that has resulted in its own set of problems. He now comfort feeds through the night, preferring little irritating ‘snacks’ every two hours or so. What is this nonsense, son? This is the thanks I get for supplying you with natural boob juice all this while? For never leaving you for more than a few hours so I can keep you alive? This is what I get for restraining myself from drinking my body weight in wine?

This evening I ranted to my husband and close friends about how I was going to put him on formula milk so I could at least finally release my body from this lactative prison sentence. The only thing that is keeping me breastfeeding is the great loathing I have for the world of bottles and feeding paraphernalia I will have to deal with if I choose to go with the formula route.

Different Mummies, Different Feeding

Having gone through everything and all the ups and downs, I have great empathy for a wide range of mums going through a wide range of feeding options.

To the mummies who have had a lovely and easy breastfeeding experience, you have my admiration and envy, now go away! (Smiley face)

To the mummies who have had a tough time at the start but continued on, well done you for trying so hard for your babies. I can only fist bump you in camaraderie, and hope you don’t judge me if I ditch it all soon.

To the mummies who turned to formula and feel guilty for not having breastfed your children, life is too short for such guilt. You love your babies just as much as the next mum. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

For the Mummies in Tears

But this is especially for the mummies who have tried so hard to nurse your babies, but had to turn to formula. Or the mummies who are agonising so much at the thought of possibly turning to formula.

I see your tears, and I feel your pain. You have tried or are trying your best, and it is making you feel depressed, distressed and helpless.

Do not fret about using formula – it is not the demon monster some people make it out to be. My firstborn was a mixed fed baby and is thriving. I feel a certain debt to formula milk because it allowed me to help feed and nourish my baby while we worked on improving breastfeeding.

So long as you are caring and loving your child the best way you know how, fed is best.

Breastfeeding can be wonderful, but even as a breastfeeding mum, I can say that my love for my children is not defined by whether I nursed them or not. Fed is best.

And even as I wake to another day thinking ‘Okay, maybe I am not done with breastfeeding yet’, falling into that guilty-mum vortex again, I see you now, and I assure you that it will all be okay. Fed is best.

With my two thriving boys – fed is best.

 

By Laych Koh

Laych Koh is the editor-in-chief of makchic.com

 


Breastfeeding: Daddy Duties Parenting Workshop

However way you end up feeding your baby, would you like to know what the first few months will be like with your newborn? Do you want to give breastfeeding the best shot you’ve got? In collaboration with Me Books Asia and makchic, renown breastfeeding counselor Gina Yong will be coaching daddies and mummies on January 27th, 2017 in Breastfeeding: Daddy Duties Parenting Workshop.

Read more about Gina Yong and the challenges of breastfeeding in our interview with her here.

Exclusive for Makchic readers:
+ Makchic readers will get a 10% discount for this workshop, just use the promo code MBAxMakchicBF
+ Two lucky couples will get to attend the workshop free and receive a premium Me Books Crate worth RM99 and a RM50 Me Books Voucher. To stand a chance, email us at makchic@popdigital.my with your name and contact details today!

Before children get moving on their own two legs, it’s important that they have spent enough time crawling. Here’s why.

Walking, that coordinated movement of the legs that most of us perform regularly but don’t think twice about, is what sets us apart from other mammalians. We are the only species that engage in and with our world as bipeds . Our two feet, with our bodies upright and facing forward.

It appears to be a natural skill but that’s because the learning process took place during the first year or so of our lives. We have taken to it so well that we forget what a monumental task it was when we started and how long it took, with small daily progression.

As parents, we delight in those little improvements our child makes from day to day. We celebrate our infant’s earliest steps as his/her first life milestone. We can’t wait to announce it to our family and friends or post it on our Facebook pages. But as impatient as you may be for the day to arrive, you should not want your child to walk before he/she has crawled enough.

Natural learning curve

As babies, we didn’t just spend our time lying around and then suddenly popped up to stand and walk. Each day, we explored our bodies and discovered our limbs.  We engaged with our environment, and learned how we relate to the outside world. One day, we discovered our right hand; we stared and examined it for days. Then we began reaching for things around us, we saw new perspectives when we rolled over. We closed distances to our favorite toys or our parents by squirming on our belly, and then we began crawling.

Each stage of discovery may be small but they are all profoundly significant. Every incremental step lays the foundation for the next. For example, before we grabbed our toys, we had to first discover our hands and their movement potential.

The same applies to walking. The good news is that the ability of the human body to achieve upright walking is genetically embedded in our body’s intelligence. We don’t need to be given lessons on walking, we learn to do it on our own. The progression happens in a predetermined order. When followed correctly, it enables us to grow and develop that important ability to walk.

The bad news is, this order can get disrupted by certain congenital development difficulties or in our modern world, by new gadgets and expectations. Sometimes, babies are not given the space and time to explore and move.  Instead they are exposed to the appeal of television, gadgets and electronic toys. Increasingly, children are becoming more adroit with their fingers – to swipe, touch, tap or press buttons – than they are with their other limbs!

How often do you hear one say, “She’s so clever, she started walking at a very early age, without crawling!”? Baby supplies stores are stocked with varieties of walkers, assisted belts and handles that are aimed at hastening children’s ability to walk. Parents, innocently and with good intentions, are propping up their babies to sit or walk before they begin crawling. What’s the price to pay for such supposed advancements?

Opening up neurological pathways

If we follow the natural developmental order, every new discovery and movement – such as learning about their toes and then moving them – turns on a switch our baby’s neurological wiring pathways. What this means is that the act of moving is also a brain development exercise, and a highly crucial one at that.

Visualize the body, its nerves, blood vessels, muscles and organs as a network of complex highways. When a baby is learning to move, he is opening up roads to enable traffic flow – roads that would otherwise have been built, but not utilised.

As parents, we need to nurture, support and create an environment that is conducive for our children to embark on their journey towards a healthy movement development.

Here are four ways you can help and encourage your infant to move, without skipping crucial steps:

Create space

Allocate a spacious area for them to move around freely. Ensure that the space is free of things that could be harmful to them (such as sharp corners and fragile items).

Get down to it

When playing with your baby, lower yourself to the floor so that you are on the same eye level. Interact with them in different positions – on their backs, lying on their sides and on their stomachs.

Keep toys at a safe distance

Do not place their toys within arm’s reach or bring the toys to them. Let them work through their body to move towards the toys while you observe.

Give it time

Allow your baby plenty of floor time, away from gadgets, seating aids, swings, walkers and bouncers.

 

 

By Amy Tan

Amy is a movement therapist and educator passionate about living with nature. Since becoming a mother,  she left the city for a free-range farm life in the jungle where she raises her two children. Her jungle family life was featured on the documentary series, Living Free with Kimi Werner on National Geographic.