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Monthly Heroines

family life & style blog

Filtering by Category: motherhood

The One Who Wanted to Change The World in One Day

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

In a world where everyone tries so hard to impress people they don't even know or like through social media, I am very careful with who/what I'm feeding my mind, and therefore life, with. I am not so much interested in those who impress me anymore, but rather those who inspire me. And for this blog's 'heroines and badasses' posts, I don't want to just feature famous mom-bloggers. I want to feature real moms who are achieving their dreams in their own way, without having to 'sacrifice' their kids. So I was excited when I found out about this event planner slash mother of two. This momma right here doesn't just plan kid-friendly events. Through her creative event studio, Maxwell and Gray, she plans events that provide mothers with creative and fun activities which allow them to bond with other moms as well as their children. On top of that, she puts a little more thought and depth in to them. Meaning, these events are with purpose, mamas. Meet Stacy Hillstead. 

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After having a little chit-chat at one of her events back in October, I invited her for a playdate a few weeks ago. It was a busy, chaotic day for both of us and I must admit that it wasn't as smooth as we'd like it to be. Our boys were a little fussy and sleepy, but thankfully we managed to have a good conversation and take some pictures in between our toddler-chasing, or as Stacy'd like to call it, our 'Juggle Struggle' :) 

 

She seemed more calm than me though. And when she told me she had just gone to another meeting that day for her upcoming event, I wondered, "How does she do this?" and more importantly, "Why would she want all this trouble with event planning and mothering?"  - especially because she just moved to Dallas too! 

 

So I asked her these few questions. Read along and get inspired! 

 

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A lot of moms give up their dreams for their kids, but you seem to be discovering and pursuing new dreams after having kids. You used to plan weddings, and now you're planning events for moms and kids, with purpose. How did you come up with that idea? And in your opinion, how important is it for moms to pursue new dreams after having kids?  

 

I've always had crazy dreams. Ask my husband and he'll tell you that I wanted to change the world in a day. I've always had a deep calling in my heart to do something to help women but I never knew what that looked like. And having studied journalism growing up, I always had a passion to tell peoples' stories but again, never knew what that looked like. Fast forward to when when I first got involved with events as a wedding planner... I realized I could tell peoples' stories through events. The events could go deeper and actually be the end result of really cool people planning something really inspirational. And after I had my kids, I wanted so badly to connect with other moms and to find things to do apart from "the norm" (as much as I love the norm). I realized that I could, in fact, combine my two passions of helping women and storytelling through events to create events designed around moms and for moms that are still creative and well-executed. And my purpose with these events is to take that next step and dig deeper. Rather than just throwing something together haphazardly, I specifically reach out to small business owners to collaborate with who have the same passion of reaching and inspiring women.

 

 

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I feel like kids are the greatest inspiration for a mom to follow new dreams. God is always calling us to "go" in some shape or form and while scary, I think the most beautiful thing we can do as moms is to live out our dreams right in front of our children so they too can be inspired to reach for the stars. I'm a firm believer in timing and that there is a reason for everything. Whether your dream is to be at home with your kids or to be the next CEO, I've learned that if you're doing what you love, you will feel a confidence unlike anything else. And when you feel confident as a mom, you are able to love yourself more and in turn, love your kids even more.

 

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What has been the biggest challenge in doing all this so far?

 

The biggest challenge has been time. Honestly, finding time to plan and network and share my business and dream and connect with other entrepreneurs and women while being a mom of two kids is just as hard as it sounds. It's possible but it's a challenge. And sometimes you feel guilty for wanting to work for a few hours when you want to be with your kids. Or when you're with your kids, you find yourself wishing you had more time to work - it's an honest challenge and it's real but I find myself praying for energy at 10 or 11 at night to make this work. The other challenge is doing it alone. It's scary. When I decided to start my own business and to just "dive in", I didn't know exactly how it would work or what would come of it, but I just followed my heart and continue to do so knowing that amazing people are being placed in my life to encourage and uplift and support, which is more than I could ever ask for.

 

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How do you overcome it/them?

 

With the help of three things. 1. My husband. Honestly, I believe a marriage has to be so strong once you become a parent. And even stronger after you become a business owner. He is constantly supporting, encouraging, challenging and helping with the kids - all of which I could never do alone. 2. My faith and drive. My dad always said, "If you do what you love, work hard and serve the Lord, the rest will follow." And I believe that. There's a lot I don't know these days, but I DO know I'm following my heart and am on the right path. My faith keeps me going when I have self-doubt or fear or exhaustion. 3. Sharing. To my point above about it being scary starting a new business or following your dreams, I've come to learn that sharing your story and passion with others is the best piece of advice. People are always willing to help and if nothing else, lend an open ear. I've found by opening up, meeting new people, sharing about my mission and spending time with others has been the biggest blessing these first few months.

 

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Last one, 3 things you love about Dallas?
Community - It is incredibly family-friendly but still inspiring and unique and creative where you can do fun things with your kids
Restaurants - I never knew Dallas had great restaurants but after living here for several months now, we've found amazing hidden gems of local eateries that we love.
Libraries & Parks - I was never one to always go to the public library, but now that I have kids, I have found myself exploring new museums and libraries and have been blown away by the public library story times, play areas, etc. Also, the parks. Compared to where we lived in San Francisco, they are so clean, so safe and so easily accessible. We find ourselves outside all the time!
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If you are in the DFW area this weekend and looking for something to do with your kiddo, sign up for her event, Gathered. 
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Or if you are more interested to give back, sign up for her December event :) 
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Don't forget to show love and follow her on instagram!

The One Who Does Her Part

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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I'm not sure of when did the phenomenon that Anthony Bourdain once described as the Hipster Apocalypse officially started, but in the last 7 years, I have seen more and more of hipsters or their wannabe's walking around the planet, even in third-world countries. Who are they and what do they look like? In a nutshell, the males usually have this long beard (if not hair) and tattoos. They wear skinny jeans and round-rim hats. The females are usually dressed in some boho-vintage-inspired outfit (probably bought at Urban Outfitters or American Apparel). They  are into arts, vintage vinyl, vintage camera (and polaroids). They drink craft beer (and even the gluten-free ones). And they are usually into bands that nobody's ever heard before as well as indie movies that nobody really gets.

infograph by MIchael Mahaffey

 

Yeah, the infograph above has pretty much summed it up. Hipsters are basically the 'anti-mainstream' people, which I think is pretty ironic since being a hipster is almost as mainstream as being gay in America these days.

They usually live in Denver, Austin, or Brooklyn (or aspire to do so). Many of them are vegan or vegetarian (or paleo or whatever), they shop organic and certified fair-trade products, do yoga, and yet smoke on regular basis at the same time. Yeah more irony right there.

Okay why am I talking about them, again? Oh yeah, I am writing a prologue of my friend Karen's inspiring story, because she kinda reminds me of those hipsters I saw at Williamsburg, Brooklyn where my friend Kathy used to take me back in summer 2011. Not because Karen hangs a dreamcatcher on her walls or wears flower crowns in the summer, but because she is just a 'normal' person who lives in Dallas, not into weed nor Bon Iver but is actually abiding by the natural and organic lifestyle in its truest form.

You shop in an all-organic grocer? She volunteers in a co-op and gets produce, meat, eggs, and even yoghurt delivered to a pick-up point straight from the farm. You use eco-friendly diapers? She uses cloth diapers. You drink kombucha? She grows it herself at her own kitchen! Seriously, how hippie can a person be? Haha...

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I find the fact that she is a very normal yet very 'earth-loving' person to be fascinating. "I'm an undercover hippie", she joked to me once. Whatever you call these people who choose a more natural lifestyle like Karen these days, I think we ought to learn from her. Cause everyone has a story of why they do things the way they do,

and the following is hers.

***

I have always been passionate about health and well-being. Having volunteered in associations like the Amigos Sin Fronteras, I knew from a very young age, that helping other people especially with their health was something that I wanted to do for a living. So I went on to study stomatology in BUAP (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla) for almost 5 years before studying dental hygiene for another 3 years in Houston, Texas. Throughout these years spent learning and working in medical field, I was exposed to so many different aspects of the industry that were quite traumatizing, including witnessing  a woman in labor and c-section surgeries. "I wouldn't want to see all this when I give birth one day. I want to get anesthetized and sleep through the whole process," I said to myself.

While still studying, around year 2008, I started to experience many symptoms that lead to confusion. It took the doctors 9 months to diagnose me with hyperthyroidism. I had to take so many medication, my blood pressure sky-rocketed, and if I was to follow their advice I would have to take the medication forever -- which can't be good, right? Moreover, they told me that it would be hard for me to conceive a child. And if I ever got pregnant, it would be a high-risk pregnancy, since I would have to take some hormonal meds (that I was allergic of). Lastly, they told me that it was better for me to have my thyroid removed.

On top of it all, my liver was intoxicated and I couldn't handle the medication anymore. And then in 2011, my sister, who'd just given birth naturally at home, suggested me to look for alternative treatments. I then stopped taking the medication at the beginning of 2012 and started consulting my health with a chiropractor, who taught me that healing and health start with the right diet. I thought I was healthy, I mean I used to give nutritional consultation back then. But I discovered that what I Iearned in school was largely influenced by the food industry (for example : they used to say that coconut oil is bad for you because of the fat, but the truth is, it is actually good for your heart, read more here. whereas the popular canola and corn oil are more suspicious because most of them got GMO's).

So I started to do an intense detoxification diet : no wheat, soy, canola, corn, and dairy.

I know that God gives us miracles, but I also realize that it is our responsibility to take care of our own body. We ask Him to do His part all the time, without realizing that we need to do our part and give thanks

My healing started when I realized that I was already healed. That all I needed to survive and to be healthy was already there. I stopped asking for healing and started to give thanks for it, while doing my best to keep my health. I even gave thanks for a baby that I did not have yet.

I felt at peace and my whole attitude changed when I started to be grateful and to take that step of faith.

And in less than 2 months, I got pregnant.

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Now I knew that if I'd gone to the regular ob-gyns, they would've treated me as if I had a high-risk pregnancy. So I went to a midwife, who could tell my baby's position just by touching and feeling my belly and not by conducting an ultrasonography observation all the time. I did everything naturally, my thyroid level was normal, and my whole pregnancy was easy (I didn't even experience morning sickness). Finally on March 2013, I gave birth to my precious Benjamin through water birth.

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Even during labor, I embraced the natural pain that I felt. I knew that it was there to give me a sign that Ben was going to be born soon. It was a moment like no other, and it got us, my husband and I, closer than ever before.

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I believe that our part as human is also to consume things the way God has created them to be consumed, or in other words naturally. That's why I still breastfeed my little one and eat healthy. And that's why I question everything now regarding my child's well-being, like the benefits of immunization and even the school system.

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Not everything is bad as bad as you think and not everything is as good as you think. The key is to ask the right people and do your own research.

The One with a Handmade Love

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

This particular interview is special because it's the first one that I've done live since moving to Dallas. For months, I've been interviewing mothers whom I've found inspiring in their own way from all over the world, through sending emails /instant messaging / social media chats. This one however, was 'real' and I actually took these photographs myself (I think they're pretty good for a self-taught amateur photographer don't you think? hehe...). Anyways, it all started when I met her at my church' nursing room on one Saturday afternoon. She stood out from 5 other mothers who were there nursing their babies because she was carrying her baby on a really unique-looking carrier which happened to be a custom-made Mei Tai. Other mothers noticed it too and started to ask her about it. Now I, being all shy and trying-to-be-as-subtle-as-possible kind of blogger, didn't want to approach her until there was no one else in the room. Long story short, it was not until 1 month after that day that I managed to finally interview her.

Crystal, is her name. And the following is her view as well as experience on everything from baby-wearing to running a business at home.

***

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Growing up in a rural area, I have always been used to making things from scratch. My parents are farmers, my dad crafts leather goods, my mom makes canned food, and both of my grandmas were seamstress. Creating things with my own hands comes naturally for me.

I decided to study Fiber Arts when I went to college and that's where I fell in love with African fabrics. What attracted me the most about it was the way that it was used by African society in so many ways, one of which is in baby-wearing. Many years after, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I then started to dig deeper on the benefits of baby-wearing. I did a lot of research and decided that it was the best for my baby and me.

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I found out that baby-wearing fosters the much-needed parent-baby connection which will nurture the baby's confidence. Many might claim that carrying your baby or toddler 'too often' might cause him to be clingy, over-attached, and over-dependent. But I experience the contrary. My kids are fairly social. They are confident, they have no separation anxiety, and I believe that it's due to their established sense of security through baby-wearing.

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I am actually a part of the North Dallas Wearing Mamas, I've been doing it since I had my first child and it has more positive impact on my kids and me, more than most people think it has. I mean, even if you have back issues, you can just wear your baby and he will act as counter pressure to solve it. How great is that? However, I am not against strollers, at all.

I just love the practicality, since I do on-demand nursing. It's just easier for us moms to read our baby's cues, you know. We can quickly tell if they're hungry or needs a diaper change or a nap. It actually reduces crying and therefore relaxes the baby. Plus, you can freely do your chores and cook with your two hands while nursing him in your soft-structured carrier! It's a win-win solution.

I make my own soft-structured carrier (in this case, it's Mei-Tai, as seen in picture below). I choose the color, pattern, and style according to my liking. A lot of people like it when they see it so they often ask me to make their custom-made carriers. That's why I develop Fox Paper Scissors, where you can find things like nursing/teething necklaces, women's & baby clothes/accessories, soft toys, knitted garments & accessories, homegoods, and much more.

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Since working on these homemade goods, I have become a work-at-home mom. It is not easy, but I am committed to give the best for my kids. It took me a while to find my husband. I had a series of relationships with people who I just couldn't picture raising a family with. So when I finally find him and started a family together, I just knew that I wanted to do it in the best possible way, and to us that is as natural as possible. Of course, that doesn't mean we're perfect. My daughter still plays with an iPad every now and then.

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I am quite of an idealist who just wouldn't let anyone else influence the core principles of my kids. And I am blessed enough to be able to take care of them myself at home.

So far we garden, we mostly eat organic, and we are thinking of adapting some elements of the unschooling method. I am not prescribing it though, I just want to adapt some elements of it. I do not want to put too much emphasis on what my kids can and cannot do. I want the kind of education that actually fosters their creativity through playing, traveling, and of course, art.

 

The One with 4 Kids & a Fashion Blog

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I must admit, having a toddler running around (yes, J started walking 2 weeks ago), making breakfast + lunch + dinner 5 days a week, doing the laundry and blogging in between have made "getting stylishly dressed" for a day out seems impossible. However, I've come to realize that taking care of myself is crucial not only to me but to my kid(s). I mean, I wouldn't want them to grow up with a mother who does a great job in taking care of everything and everybody else but herself. What kind of principle/message am I communicating/teaching by living that way?
I think a person's "inner beauty" should actually visible. Not only through her attitude, words, and actions, but also through how she represents herself. And in this case, through how she wears her clothes.

I found this mother's blog when I was looking for some inspiration. And to my surprise, she can manage to look so effortlessly good with 4, not 1, but 4 kids running around!!!!  Whaaatt....??

Her style is real. Not too fancy and glamorous like Kim or Beyonce. Which what we, real everyday mothers, can achieve too ourselves! Decent, not flashy. Nothing speaks class more than subtlety, right?
So let us learn from her. A stylist, a wife, a mommy, a soup stirrer and an "occasional dinner burner" whose life soundtrack includes Bach, Brandie Carlisle, First Aid kit, and "(sadly) Frozen". She drinks tea, thrifts and blogs during her spare time ("wait, what is spare time?"), here is Shalice Noel.
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I played with dolls since forever and I used to babysit too. I was that kind of babysitter that turned off the TV and played with the kids the whole time. I loved it! And after my husband and I got married, we got pregnant shortly after. 3 months into the marriage, to be exact. My first daughter (now age 6) arrived at our first wedding anniversary. It kind of makes us laugh now but it was one tough year!
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With so many activities done during the day, I write in the wee hours of the night, which makes for hard mornings. I keep all random ideas noted in a folder on my phone so no matter where I am, I can document inspiration. Because we all know the best ideas are when we least expect, like when your hands are wet while doing laundry.

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Speaking of laundry, while taking care of my 4 kids, I have learned to spend a little time on myself. To forget the laundry, because it'll always be there. I mean, I haven't seen the bottom of my laundry basket in months! Spend a little time on yourself, mothers. On your hair, get a new lip stick, get fitted for a new bra and jeans that actually fit! I've found that the number one problem mom's have is not getting properly fitted and wearing the wrong sizes. No one feels good when frump is going on.

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I have always been into fashion. I used to prep all my outfits the night before and devoured fashion mags and pinned looks on boards. The old fashioned way, ha! Now to 'keep up' with it without spending too much money on it, I think it's best to invest in your closet. Namely a good bag and a good pair of shoes. If you follow me on Instagram or my blog you'll notice I use the same pieces over and again. This is because I've learned through trial and error how to shop smart. And what pieces will carry you through the seasons. I blog about this at www.shalicenoel.blogspot.com/costperwear. Feel free to check it our and get inspired!

I'm working with some great companies, a giveaway planned and had a blast modeling Anthropologie's FW line last week. I definitely succumb to baby fever and I'd love to have a 5th kid, but who knows. Because life will never slow down from here or get any crazier?

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The One Who Makes Her Surroundings Beautiful

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Ask her what she loves to snack on, and she  will definitely say "peanut butter toast and banana slices" :)
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*photo by Sugar Fit
As for what she loves to do, you don't have to ask. Just check out her styling & decorating IG account where she makes it obvious that keeping her surroundings beautiful is her passion.
a wife, a mom, a DIY and decorating maestro, here is Reneé Richello.
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Growing up, I have four younger siblings, so being around babies and kids is nothing new for me. I actually looked forward to having my own. It was hard to believe that it was real at first, when we found out about my first baby. My husband and I were "ready," or so we thought! It was a wonderful time, preparing to become parents. Fast-forward to today, we are incredibly happy and blessed with two boys, Joseph Isaiah (2 y.o) and Domenic James (1 y.o).
Juggling motherhood is not easy, but it does not mean that you can't keep your house tidy and pretty. One thing that I've learned to be very helpful is to clean and pick up toys at intervals throughout the day, and have my boys help. For example, if we are leaving the house, we take a few moments to pick up and put away. We also do this before nap times and before bedtime. I want them to learn that their toys don't get put away magically!
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Also, for toy storage, I love having lots of baskets and a designated place for everything. It's so much easier to clean up when there's a place to put it all! I've learned as well to just make lower cabinets, shelves, and tables for the boys and their toys so I am never worried about something being broken or dangerous.
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More than just keeping it tidy, I also love to keep my home pretty. My mom is an artist and from a very young age she inspired me to make my surroundings beautiful. She put a very special corner cabinet in my room when I was a teenager, and there I often practiced styling and decorating.
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I am very inspired by nature ~ I love bringing nature indoors. I am always drawn to light and bright spaces, and designs that I can do myself inexpensively.
I just bought some lovely gray chalky-finish paint, so I'm experimenting with painting many small furniture and decor pieces ~ one being a stool for my boys bathroom to help them reach the sink. My next big project will be turning my boys' closet into a reading nook ~ I can't wait to start that one!  I'm just getting started with a handlettered print business, and will be opening a shop soon!
If you are looking for some decorating inspiration, my favorites are magazines like House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Country Living, and Better Homes and Gardens.
Keep it clean, fun, and beautiful, mommas.
 

The One Who Just Wants to be a Mom

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Just like gaziollions of other 21st century human being in the world, I spend probably upto 30 percents of my day (or more) instagramming. What? Oh come on, admit it, you guys do too. It's so fun to just look at pictures of people we don't really know and find out what they're having for lunch. Haha. I usually look for inspiration to write on instagram by clicking the 'explore' button and just by checking out what's popular. I like the idea of getting inspired by others through looking at their pictures, without having to 'add' them as 'friends' because that would be awkward (no offense, facebook, I still love you). I follow tons of other mom-bloggers, successful momma-preneurs, and mom-instragrammers who posts cool pics of their babies and their lives in general. It just charms me to see others enduring motherhood with their own style. Just like this momma right here. Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 8.13.48 PM

Young, stylish without trying too hard (cause I am not really fond of those who dress up too 'voguish'-ly - if that's even a word-  to look good on instagram), Krissa looks like an everyday mom who manages to grace motherhood without forgetting to take care of herself. Here's her beautiful little story that I hope will put a little smile on your face.

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On Being a Momma

I went to collage and majored in Studio Art. I met my future husband there and eventually dropped out. "Art is just my hobby," I told my dad, and "What I really want to do is be a mom!". The first time around, motherhood came as no surprise to us. Jeremy and I were freshly married and doing what married people do. He was on his xbox and I was figuring out the pregnancy test like a kid with a new toy. I yelled the test results from the bathroom and we screamed and laughed and danced. So nervous but loving it.

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Although, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage shortly after, I like to remember those first feelings we had. We had a few more miscarriages and a long, scary 9 months but 3 years later I gave birth (emergency C-section) to the chubbiest and healthiest baby boy I have ever seen, Archer Atlas DuBois.

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On The Biggest Challenge That Comes with Motherhood So Far

No time for the hubs was the worst. Archer turned into my "new best friend" and we did everything together. Jeremy would start kissing me and I would hear a faint baby coo and be up in the nursery before he even opened his eyes! (I feel ya, Kriss, kisses v.s. baby coo's are never easy to choose from - moz)

IMG957095 As much as I felt bad for Jeremy I'm glad that I was so infatuated with my little babe. I mean yeah, sleeping in Archer's crib might have been overboard but at least I embraced that precious newborn stage. Jeremy says he hardly noticed. So I guess we're good there...

On Lessons Learned & Her On-going Projects

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I've learned to take care of myself (I eat my veggies now). I've learned to be more patient; and I've also learned that family trumps all. My dudes are inspiration and I want to be the best that I can be for them!

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Right now I'm working on a couple of projects. I have the BITSYbb denim, which is a distressed jeans and shorts line for babies. I'm also trying to open a local baby store full of unique baby products (this is a long-term project). All the while, I redo furniture with my big brother for his shop. And to top it all off, Jeremy and I are currently trying for another boy ;)

The One Who Didn't Like to Cook

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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There are way too many people who are into taking self-potraits nowadays. From work-out selfies, getting-ready-for-the-day selfies, I'm-taking-a-vacation "thighs selfies", to of course me-and-my-baby selfies. Ain't nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I just want things that are more inspiring to be on my instagram feed! So I decided to explore the social media and stumbled upon this extraordinary momma's instagram called @peachpiku that's got pictures of cute food like the one below. Screen shot 2014-08-07 at 9.05.11 PM

As it turns out, this particular mom promotes making homemade meals for your own child in the most creative ways, and I think we should get to know her a little closer than her food art.

Vicka Queenthantina Angelika is a former banker who is now a stay-at-home mom of the 1.5 year little man, Muhammad Athar Benzema, in the city of Indramayu, Indonesia.

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With her husband working abroad, Vicka has learned to enjoy raising Athar with only the help of her parents. And so far, I think it's pretty clear that she is doing just fine. With no further due, here is my little chit-chat with the woman behind those gorgeous food art posts.

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1. How would you describe motherhood so far?
Alhamdulillah, I feel very blessed to be given such amazing responsibility of raising, educating, and guiding my God-given son. Being a mom is not a goal nor a dream, it is a phase of life that I was meant to go through once I've decided to be a wife :) That's what my mother taught me. I am grateful that I got my baby right after tying the knot, remembering there are a lot of other women out there who'd have to struggle just to get pregnant.
2. Wow, what a genuine thought on motherhood. Speaking of, do you actually cook for Athar? Are those instagram posts "real"?
Yes of course, the food I post are homecooked meals I've prepared myself for my own son, even though not all of them suits his taste. Sometimes he would eat just a little, and other times he would not eat them at all :) But it is completely normal, in my opinion. So if anyone asks me on IG, I would just answer them honestly, I do not need to 'maintain an image' or anything like that.
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I'm not doing this to be seen as a crafty and clever mom whose son is such a good eater, because he's not always like that at all.  I am doing this because I was inspired by other mothers (like the ones at Mama Koki Handal) who cook homemade meals for their kids, which I think is a positive thing that I can do too. I love the fact that I can share the food I cook for my son with other moms on instagram. It's like talking with a bunch of friends and staying updated without even stepping outside my home. And you know being a stay-at-home mom will make you feel quite 'outdated' at times, right?
3. Agreed :) But anyways, have you always been such a great cook?
The funny thing is, I was always the person who thought of cooking as something super complicated and unappealing! I didn't even like helping my mother in the kitchen. But I have grown so much now, particularly because of Athar. And my love for cooking has grown too :) It has grown to the point where not cooking feels wrong...maybe because it means there's nothing to post on instagram! hahaha!
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4.Now, with a mom who's a good cook, is Athar a good eater?
From the first time he got introduced to solid food, Athar has never eaten that much. He eats, but with a small portion. Every kid is different, some are really good eaters and some are not.
20140805-113209-41529427.jpgThat's why I do not want to force him to finish his food all the time, because I know he still gets great nutrition from breastfeeding. I am not saying we do not have to be consistent in feeding our kids, I'm just saying that we do not need to panic when he is not eating that much.
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As long as his body weight is normal, and he is not affected by any disease, he is fine. So far, Athar has been very healthy, he is a strong boy. Thanks to breastmilk too of course!
 5. Appreciate the honesty. Now do you plan Athar's meal everyday? How do you do it so creatively?
I get this comment all the time on instagram. But the truth is, I don't think I am that creative. I just love what I see other moms do on instagram and pinterest, put my little spin on it and voila! Those are what you see on my posts. I usually think of them the night before and do some shopping at the market the next day before cooking them. Again, Athar does not always eat them. But it's okay, I see this more as my project as a mom. Does that sound selfish? Hahaha..
6. Not really, you go momma! :) Okay last one, you promote breastfeeding on your IG profile, you must be a total believer! Any thoughts that might help other nursing moms out there?
Yes, I really believe in breastfeeding. At first, my breastmilk didn't come out until three days after Athar's birth. Afterwards, I have been eating a lot of veggies and thankfully, it has been enough for Athar. It is a struggle, but it has challenged me to stay creative. One time, Athar refused to drink from my left breast, and it hurt because it started to get really full and 'swollen'. I had to figure out a way to make him want to drink from that one again. Not so long after, he turned and drank from it, and it has been running very smoothly until today.

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According to my Moslem belief, a mom ought to nurse her baby for 2 years. It says so in the Quran, so I abide by it. All I need to do is to pray, keep my motives right and my heart straight, everything else will fall into place.

 

The One Who Has Got Something to Give

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The idea of being away from a career, a precious little world made of lifelong best friends, and all of the familiarity of a home country might often seem to outweigh one's need to be with her husband abroad. As you might know, a lot of women choose to do a long-distance marriage for such reason (among many others, I don't judge, really). However, moving abroad might still be 'appealing' if your husband is being assigned to work or to study in big cities like New York or London. But what if he is being allocated somewhere more remote and unpopular? Will it be a deadend? chica1

Not to this hijabi mother-of-two, it's not! She bravely decided to follow her husband from Indonesia all the way to New Bedford, Massachusetts (never heard of the city before? Same here! -moz) about 4 years ago with a 4-month-old baby under her care. She is not afraid of the unknown. Even better, she subdues the unknown and make it familiar. She has inspired me to be proactive in enjoying the city I'm in. And I hope she'd inspire you too, as you read along.

A lionhearted wife, a dedicated mother, and a charming blogger, Here is Chica.

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On being a Momma

I am the oldest of 6. My youngest sibling is 13 years younger than me. So I am used to the responsibility of being my mom's right hand when it comes to taking care of younger kids. Even so, becoming a stay-at-home mom has never occurred to me before. In fact, up until I was in year 6 of elementary school, I didn't know what a stay-at-home mom was! Because the mother I knew growing up was the kind of mom who was very much a career woman.

Many years later, at the start of my relationship with my husband, Ara (then-boyfriend) expressed his desire to marry me under one circumstance : I should be a full-time mom. I clearly rebelled against this! I was a student at one of Indonesia's  top universities, dreaming of working for an oil company with a paycheck of thousands of dollars after graduation! I couldn't end up staying at home!! Besides, I have always been active, I could never sit around at home all day! (turns out, being a SaHM never allows you to just sit around, right? hehehe). Anyway, we got engaged and then got into a 2-year long-distance relationship when my then-fiancee decided to pursue his master's degree in Germany.

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As time passed us by, I started to realize that being a full-time mom does not mean forsaking my degrees (she got a master's degree from University of Indonesia, and her bachelor's was from ITB - moz).  There is a greater cause to fight for here! I am obliged to excellently play my role as a wife and as a mother, especially during these golden years of their growth as children, and our development as a family. This does not mean forgetting my long-term dreams and goals either, for Ara fully supports them. He has been my bestfriend since we were in college, by the way.

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We finally got married! Our firstborn Malik Azka Sagara Hakim (4 y.o) came when we were about to move to the U.S. Ara went first, then Azka and I flew together a few months after (yes, that long flight, just the two of us!). Afterwards, Khalif Arana Razzaq Hakim (2 y.o) came into this world, being the first American in the family.

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Raising two boys can keep you really busy. Alhamdulillah my dear husband accommodates my need of some "me time" by allowing me to have at least 1 hour away from home chores and the kids. You know, to work out, ride a bike, take photos, and to write. It helps keeping me balanced.

On Moving to the U.S.

I was so excited to move to the U.S. ! I can clearly recall that one time back in 2005 when I told my friends that I wanted to live in America with Ara and our own little family when they asked me "Where are you going to be in the next 5 years?" Alhamdulillah, by the power of dream, the universe conspired to make it happen!

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To be honest, the early days of living here were not easy at all. I was thrilled to go on an adventure in America, but then I had to adapt with my life as a new mom, which could be really stressful. Besides, the absence of relatives and family really made it harder. I was overwhelmed. Back then, we lived in an empty apartment, we couldn't afford a furniture so we needed to borrow our landlord's. I couldn't even cook while eating out would be expensive. We didn't have a car so we had to ride buses everywhere. Ara even had to walk to his campus during hailing snow in winter back then! And in summer, our non-air-conditioned apartment would get very hot. Can you imagine?

But through all of these tough times, Ara would always say to me "enjoy the process"...

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So we did, and we are stronger for it today.

 

On Enjoying New Bedford

It's a good thing that I have once worked as a researcher and that I am always eager to check on things. So for example, when the management of an apartment we wanted to move into told us that we were not illegible to do so because of our citizenship, I went online and looked for legal statutes to prove them wrong. As a result, the management agreed that they were being unfair and that we could move in to that apartment! It is much cheaper and it comes with good amenities and benefits! Thank God, I did the research right?

I then looked up ways to get involved in my community and to make the most of my time in this city. I started going to public libraries and museums while volunteering here and there, like in the picture below for example, when I volunteered for the National Park.

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I signed up to various different communities and I just try to connect and make the most of everything that I have on my plate now. Volunteering is a great way for me to channel my energy and skills on a positive outlet, and in the future I really want to establish a volunteer-based organization to make changes, because I believe everyone has got something to give.

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On Going Back to Indo
I miss Indonesia, I miss my parents and I definitely miss Indonesian food. But in the last 4 years since we moved here, my family and I have not gone back home yet, the tickets are so pricy!
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My husband will be done with his PhD soon, but we might want to stay here just a little bit longer. So we'll see. I will just go on and enjoy the ride.

***

 

The One Who Has Found Herself

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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When I decided to write more about my motherhood journey and others' on this blog, I didn't really have the confidence. Why? Because I had only been a mom for 2 months at the time, I am young and still clueless about all this -- so who am I to talk about motherhood online? Plus! there are thousands of other mothers around the world who already got their blogs out there, why should I make one and be just a face in a crowd? But then Mr. Man convinced me that everyone has his/her own message. He actually just mentioned it a few days ago. What you write about, what you experience can never be identical to those of others, because we are all different! Made of different sets of habits, past experiences, cultures, beliefs, etc. So why not learn from other mothers instead and get inspired? Besides, if you say"why start something, it's nothing new anyway" every time you have an idea, you will end up inventing nothing, right?

So I started to learn from others and stumbled upon this extraordinary mom-blog called mama-maya, a beautiful and an intimate blog about the journey of a mother of three lovely kids, Marcia Josephine the M1 (6), Micah Joshua the M2 (4), Maxton James the M3 (1). A diary-keeper herself, Maya has always found writing to be therapeutic. And to read the words she's written is like "going on a time machine," she described.

More than just to share her journey, Maya intends her blog to be a record-keeper for her children to later know her story, the joys they bring her, and to understand why she does the things she does...

"I want them to know me. Because I know that my brain would never be able to contain all these stories. I write, so I can remember, so that I can tell my children about my journey. These early years, these so-called golden years, they will not remember. When time has passed and we’re old, our memories would have failed us and we have nothing to tell them, our children would have only seen the end result of our parenting. They wouldn’t have known of the journey. I write, so they may know"

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What a thoughtful motivation.

I've never really thought about blogging and writing that way. And I've never been so speechless about answers given by my interviewee, because they are just beautiful enough that I do not really need to do that much editing on them.

An inspiring mother, a word enchantress who is into Sara Bareilles' Brave & Katy Perry's Roar  at the moment, here is Mama Maya :)

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First of all, what's it like to have 3 kids? Did you actually plan to have 3?

Having three kids is, well... let’s just say that there is never a dull day in this house. My husband and I always wanted more than one child, but we’ve left the planning entirely to God. We just did our part :) Our M3 caught us a little by surprise. We were quite comfortable being a family of four and while the subject of a fifth member did come up once, we agreed to take it off the table and revisit again only after the World Cup in 2014. But God intervened, and now that fifth member of our family sometimes sit up with my husband at night, getting excited over the play. He supports the Netherlands. Or so I’d like to think.

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You're called "mama maya", have you always wanted to be a mom?

Honestly, I used to dream about being a woman of power, sitting in the corner office of an international corporation. But never in my wildest dream have I ever imagined being a mother to these three little beings. But I’m here today, I am a full time mom and I want to own it. I have tried the whole working-mom thing, the part-time working mom thing, you know, always attributing myself to some kind of job or a title on a business card. And it wasn’t until I really submit myself to this role that I really found satisfaction. More than that, I actually found myself.

And if I look back, I don’t think that any dreams would be substantial enough to even describe the thrill that is motherhood.

I decided to leave the corporate world (she was the General Manager of Marketing of Kenny Rogers Roasters Indonesia! - moz) and become a full time mom at the end of 2011. It wasn’t an easy shift for me. I knew in my heart that this was where I was supposed to be, but it took a lot to brush off the insecurities I had as a result to the decision. But things went uphill the moment I owned up to motherhood. Being a mom was what I do, and it’s tiring sometimes as all jobs are, but I get to see my children grow with my fingerprints on them and that’s the joy, right there. I love it. That’s what being a “woman of power” is to me now.

“Mama Maya” is something my friends used to sing out to me from the monkey bars back in Grade 4. The song went: “Mama, Mama Maya, we wish you joy... we wish you joy!” I guess that kind of stuck with me... and that could have very well been a prophecy, I don’t know. Haha.

3 things that motherhood has taught you so far :

  • Firstly, is to completely depend on God. There is no way I could ever do this on my own. My children are His children too, and He has every best interest in their lives. I believe that He is taking care of them just as much as He is taking care of me. Then I can focus on being a warrior instead of a worrier :)
  • Secondly. I used to joke to my husband, that “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” is the bedrock of our marriage. But who knew that there could be so much truth to find behind what seems like a really selfish statement? A mother’s heart is home for her children. We must guard our hearts to ensure that they have a nice place to live in and to come home to. (Ouch! A slap on the face right here! I guess happiness is a choice, not a result -moz)

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  • Thirdly, I need to be the person I want my children to be. Because no matter how much convenient it would be for me, “do what I say, not what I do” is textbook and isn’t that applicable in life. (Well, not in mine anyway.) Being a mom has forced me more times that I would have liked to expand and rapidly grow into a better person.

Why did you choose to 'put yourself out there' and blog about your family for public to read?

While I wrote of my experiences, I realized that there were others who were going through the same things as I was, at that exact same time. There were others who were waltzing through the same season as I was. I found that I had a thing or two to share.

If I’m not posting a diary entry for my children about their updates, I particularly love to focus my messages on inviting readers to relax and take care of themselves. So many moms get sucked into mothering and so wrapped up with the day-to-day that they forget that they are also people who need to be taken care of just the same, that they were wives before they were mothers, and that to admit not knowing everything is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Mothers fight hard battles everyday, and sometimes, all we need is just a friendly encouragement.

So I share and I blog mainly to encourage. But while I thought that I was telling stuff, I was actually learning, because these people also had volumes to share.

Any positive impact you've gained from blogging? 

The positive impact of my blogging, other than to find a community, is to get writing gigs. I now ghost-blog for a couple of sites, write copy for websites, translate books, and basically get to do what I love from the comfort of my own home, while still having the time to drive my children to and from school. What started off as a hobby has evolved into a financial support for my family on more than one occasion and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

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How do you make the time to blog with three kids running around?

Words seems to flow in silence. So, I usually write after my children are asleep. Or when my husband extends his kindness to me by letting me have some quiet writing time while he watches the kids. Having Grandma around is also a great blessing. At Grandma’s house, chocolate is the norm and Mama’s rules don’t apply. They love it there and Mama loves to score some time for herself. It’s a win-win.

 

Any other blogs you religiously check?

There are many I randomly check, but I really love visiting Melissa Jordan on www.braveinlove.com, Jen Lula on www.jenloveskev.com, Ashley on www.thehandmadehome.net,  random stories and updates on www.mommiesdaily.com or www.theurbanmama.com and Naomi on www.lovetaza.com because really, who doesn’t love a New Yorker Mama? :) But mostly I’ve learned to keep up through their IG feeds.

What's next for you and family? Any upcoming project / holiday plans?

Next for our family is probably the ongoing work in progress towards entrepreneurial/financial freedom. We’re still trying to find the rhythm between raising our children and growing our business while learning to dance to the music. Other than that, holidays... yes! That’s always in the books for us... we love to travel. The kids are praying for a winter holiday this year, so we’re working very hard to make that happen.

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A piece of advice for new moms like me :)  ?

Parenting is a continuous process. Never stop learning. Never stop educating yourself. Never be too “mature” to learn from your children, because they can teach you a lot of things.

Always make the time to remind yourself that you are doing a good job, to give yourself a pat on the back and to tell yourself that you are a good mom. Cut yourself some slack. So what if beds aren’t made once in a while? We’ve never heard of people dying of an unmade bed, am I right? (I am sighing in relieve, thank you for this, mama maya, I can't help but to call you 'mama' too -moz)

Forgive yourself, a lot! Nobody is perfect anyway :)

Also, when you’re busy taking care of everybody else, don’t forget to take care of you.

***

The Upper West-sider

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Now that I'm officially an immigrant mom in the U.S., I think it's wise to hear and share some of the stories of moms who have been here way before me and experienced the perks of raising a kid or two in a foreign country. This one right here has only been in the U.S. for less than a year,  but here's the thing --> She is fresh from Indo, facing the challenges of not having a domestic helper + not having a carrier at the moment (these 2 things must be causing a major 'culture-shock', right?) while adapting to her new role as a mom in the Empire State that is none other than New York!!
Here is the young, loving, and always-eager-to-learn, Yania Andarini.
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I have always been an active woman. With a degree from University of Indonesia in Dutch Literature, I have worked for a while as a media enggagement assistant manager at PT. Combiphar, before giving it up to accompany my husband in his studies in Columbia University, New York last year.
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At the start of our marriage, we didn't plan to have a kid yet to prolong our 'honeymoon' phase. However, we didn't try to postpone pregnancy either. We were just going to let it all happen naturally, according to God's will. Thankfully, He heard our prayers at exactly one year after our wedding.
When we found out about the baby, my husband and I were excited yet nervous at the same time. Why? because we were going to have an interview at the U.S. Embassy at the following week. Would they approve my visa if I've told them that I was pregnant?
Again, thankfully, it all went smoothly and we finally got to the Big Apple when I got to my second trimester, five months into the pregnancy to be exact.
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Soon after, in 9 January 2014, our little man Harsya Aryasatya Ibrahim was born.
Unlike other moms back home who might have got their family and relatives around during labor, I didn't have anyone but my husband. It was just the two of us at the hospital, waiting for Harsya to be born. It got more challenging when we were told that Harsya's bilirubin numbers went up and that he needed to stay at the NICU.
My first weeks of motherhood got even tougher when I noticed Harsya's inability to latch on while breastfeeding. The confusion kept on building up because I was just not used to having a baby yet. Even though I've read tons of articles on taking care of babies during my pregnancy, actually doing it is a different thing! Frankly speaking, I found it pretty hard to enjoy motherhood during those days.
But again, thankfully, my husband stood by me. He helped me a lot in taking care of baby Harsya, though he had to show up in class the next morning. More importantly, he was patient enough to handle my emotional cycle that went up and down a lot during that period.
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As Harsya continues to grow, I begin to find joy in my new life as a mother. I begin to take it slow and learn to keep it all simple. The absence of domestic helper is definitely a challenge, because I've got to do it all by myself! But I've learned to take it easy and to leave the chores when Harsya needs me. The washing and cleaning can wait, right?
I've realized that when the mom is not happy, the baby won't be happy. They can tell the difference! That's why I try my best to keep a positive energy around him although I don't always feel like it.
To say I do not miss my working days would be a lie. I miss them at times, but I try to embrace this season we're in now. I am grateful for the fact that I get to experience all of this now in New York! Raising a kid, having a little family, living abroad...I view this phase as my extra long leave from work :)
Later on when we have settled back to Indonesia, I would like to go back to work. Why? Cause I know it's possible to balance things out. My mother is a living proof. She is a doctor who could still manage to wake up at dawn to prepare exam preparation quizzes for me, before she left for work. A mom who was always there for me when I needed her, someway, somehow. A mom who is tough yet patient. And a mom who is also a bestfriend to me.
It is going to take a lot for me to get to that point, but for now, I aim to focus on raising Harsya, supporting my husband as he continues his studies here, and make the most of our time here in New York..New York..
***

 

The One Who Reminds You of Macarons

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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yanka 2 I first saw this woman a few years ago at Brightspot Market, where I tried her famous red velvet cupcake and eclairs for the first time. Been obsessed with the patisserie ever since (esp. cause I used to get freebies from one of its employees, my good friend who is single and available Tika). Her fierce outward persona might often be translated as unfriendliness, but when you talk to her, she is actually a sweetheart. And last week, as we began our conversation on motherhood, the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts-graduate was as passionate about it as she was with desserts.

Tough on the outside, surprisingly delicate on the inside, here is Serradella Patisserie owner and chef, Sharianka Adiella.

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On Her Early Days of Motherhood

I have  always wanted to be a mother. That dream was fulfilled when I gave birth to Gaeluca Adrianno Andiko (now 1.5 y.o.). But it was not easy at all at first. I was going through a series of baby blues mainly because of breastfeeding. As many of you who have gone through it might know, breastfeeding is usually quite painful at first, with the engorgement, swelling, and all. I was pressured to nourish Gael with the best nutrition possible, but I was also pressured to lose weight. It was just stressful, and I ended up giving up on breastfeeding and decided to hire a nanny to help me out.

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On Gael's 7th month, I then decided to take care of him myself because hiring a nanny had caused me too much drama at that point. Not so long after, I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, Gianina Ariella Andiko (now 1 month-old). It couldn't get any crazier! But we survived. Thanks to the help of my parents and their household assistants for their huge support.

On Running a Culinary Business

In Jakarta nowadays, anyone can call themselves a chef and start a culinary business, primarily because it's one of the fastest growing businesses in the country. But I have been passionate about it since long ago,which had brought me to Boston for a proper education on it in 2002.

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During the years of my studying abroad, I'd come home and bake cupcakes as well as chocolate chip cookies that thankfully got some reputation in local bazaars. Back then, cupcakes were not that popular in Jakarta (around year 2004-2005). I then decided to start Serradella when I got home in 2006.

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Over the years, we have been blessed to grow as a business. And this year, particularly this June, we are collaborating with Foodhall, by which you can get our sweet treats at their outlets in Mall Kelapa Gading and soon Plaza Indonesia.

On Balancing Both of Her Roles

It is tough, especially because my firstborn is a toddler now. More than taking care of him physically, the hardest part is to take care of him mentally and morally, because you need to put your mind to it. But being an over-achiever that is myself, I have figured out a way to balance it all. Since I am my own employer, I have the freedom to manage my time and to choose my office location. That's why I've chosen to build our kitchen here at my parents' home, where I can watch my kids and my work at the same time.

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The key is to not complicate things. Don't make it hard. Enjoy each moment cause they are not going to last that long! Use reliable help as much as you need, like your parents for instance. And make sure that your husband supports you.

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On What's Next

Definitely having our own Serradella outlet hopefully in 2 or 3 years. After that, having a third child, why not right? And actually, I have this dream of continuing my culinary education in Paris, but I think it's not going to happen for at least another few years, so let's just leave it at that.

***

 

 

 

 

The Humanizer

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Been quoting her, been writing about her, you can tell that I'm so inspired by this woman. She is a mother-of-two strong and gorgeous kids, Ginosko Anugrisa Badudu (Gisko, 11 y.o) and Jasyanda Karunisa Badudu (Syanda, 9 y.o), who graces parenting life with commitment and love. A teacher, a learner, a mother, here is Mara Badudu.
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1. As a parenting mentor, how would you describe 'Parenting' in 3 words?
"CHILDREN ARE PEOPLE". As I have mentioned earlier, children are beings with brain, heart, and soul. Every gesture, word, or reaction that parents project at home WILL be absorbed and copied by the kids. Moreover, these actions will help shaping the kids at the same time! Some parents watch things with adult contents in front of their 6 year-olds, while others punish their kids by locking them in the bathroom. Dehumanizing much?
They might not realize this, but children will only view something as "okay" and "normal" when the parents make it look "okay" and "normal" on daily basis. So when we realize that children are people who have brain, heart & soul, we will surely pay more attention to whatever they see, hear, & feel (particularly from us).
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2. When did you start learning about parenting? How? 
It all started with a calling and a slammed door, not in my face, but in my mother's face. I grew up in an unhealthy christian family. One day, I saw my older sibling came home really late and slammed her door in my mother's face for trying to ask her where she'd been. At that moment, I thought "what can I do to not end up having a kid like this?"
I then started to do my own research, reading books that I couldn't afford to buy at that time (in bookstores, just flipping through the pages), cause I was just so called to do it right. My calling then came into life when Gisko was conceived.
3. So what do you basically do with your kids? 
First of all, I put purpose in my being a housewife and a mother. If you are doing it without a purpose, you will view this role as something dull, boring, and just...pointless. And before long, you will end up in the mall, spending your husband's money and neglecting your kids. I might not have a carrier or a fat paycheck, but I know that what I'm doing at home with my kids is far more important and actually rewarding than any money I could ever earn. So with that in mind and heart, I have been putting purpose and value in every encounter I have with my kids.
I try my best to always be aware of what my kids are going through each day, both good and bad, big or small. I want to know them all, and if there is anything good that I could do to help or fix it, I will do it.
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I aim to be the most comfortable place that my kids could come to, not because I say yes to everything they want, but because I can deliver the truth in a way that is acceptable to them. I realize that I do not have that much time. Researchers have proven that during the first 10 years of a kid's life, he/she absorbs 80%-100% of your teachings. That means, afterwards, they are on their own! we are no longer their 'only source', they will be bombarded with teachings from their friends and the media.
This is why most parents have fights with their teenagers. When their kids were little, they didn't teach them anything cause they thought "kids are kids, let them be". But then they'd try to do what they should've done earlier (which is teaching the kid), when the kid is a teenager. It's too late! No wonder the kid rebels! How can you expect them to listen to you now? You should've trained them when they were younger to face life on their own when they are older. Not the other way around!
4. Now that is an eye-opener! So, what can a new parent like me teach to my kids? Where should I start?
When your kid is still an infant, they can't really do anything so you just need to take care of them with the right attitude and the right spirit, cause believe it or not, babies can actually capture our spirit.  However, as soon as he turns 8 months old, he can already throw things away or puke his food out deliberately. At this point, we can already teach our babies simple manners and values.
What should we teach them first? Let us ask ourselves first, "what do we have to do as parents?" Always bring it back to you, not to the kid. Cause parenting without the parents, will not going to work. It will only be a set of rules that can soon be broken because it will be lacking something. And that thing is connection.
You can't possibly teach your kids anything if they are not on the same page with you. And they can't possibly be on the same page with you if you've never lead them there.
So again, it starts with you, mothers! You have the power that is greater than authority. You know what it is? It's the power to touch your kids' hearts! Use that power, learn how to master it so your parenting and actually your life can be effective! And most importantly, get creative and have fun with it.
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***
Throughout my chit-chats with her, I have learned a LOT from Mara Badudu. But if I could point out one thought that I think we should learn together, it's this :
 "What most people see as difficult and "too much" (= parenting with purpose) is actually 'easier' cause you WILL reap a good result later. Whereas, what most people see as easy (= purposeless parenting) is actually 'harder' cause you WILL reap a bad result later"
And it's not just bad! it could jeopardize their future if they got into the extreme! (drugs/ teen pregnancy, etc). So let us figure out where we want our kids to end up and make our choice today. What we do now might seem little but the result is enormous! :)

 

The One who Finally Understands

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

You might have heard of this momma-preneur from one of the fastest-growing local clothing lines to date, Cotton Ink, as she is its co-founder and Brand & Campaign Marketing Director. I personally first met Ria Sarwono 3 years ago, when I was producing a fashion-themed radio show on Trax FM called Trax Style (on which she gave us some free scarfs yeay! haha). Been following her on instagram and omg, I am so fascinated by how she makes motherhood looks fun! Little did I know that Ria had to go through quite some serious baby blues before she got to this point. This is her story.

***

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I got pregnant at the 4th month of my marriage. The pregnancy took me by surprise cause I felt like I still needed more time to adapt to the marriage life itself while managing my business. The first 4 months of the pregnancy were the toughest! I often get mad at my husband back then, and when I told my business partner that I was pregnant, she cried in fear of losing me as a friend.

 

Things were not so smooth at all until I started to enjoy my pregnancy on the fifth month. And finally  on May 18th, 2012, my baby boy Aksara Sajjana Mulia was born.

The struggle didn't stop there, though, as I began to experience baby blues for about 6 months after my post-partum period. I felt so powerless. In fact, the first year of motherhood turned out to be agitating for me, because it has caused my life and my routines to change drastically! I then apologized to Ara, for every negativity I have allowed him to see or hear from when he was conceived. And magically, he said "yes mom".
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 I then learn to balance my motherhood life and my work life. I am so grateful for the fact that my son is healthy and joyful today. Moreover, I am grateful for the fact that I can now accept the fact that I have a kid that I need to take care of. That I have this little monster that depends on his mother.
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Of course 'doing it all' is not easy at all. Although I am running my own business, a lot of responsibilities are still demanded of me. I might not have to show up every day from 9 to 5, doing presentations and all. But I have to strategize and figure out ways to hire the right people for my team. Plus, I gotta nurture that person into my company's culture, and be his or her role model. It's a different kind of challenge and responsibility. And it's the kind I prefer to being employed. Thankfully, I am blessed with a great business partner. And together we are launching Cotton Ink's upper line at the end of the year. 
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On top of all this, keep in mind that to completely balance everything is impossible. So in my case, I just go with it and do my best. My son has motivated me be to become a better person, and I want to thrive to give him a great childhood. I remember how good it was to have my mother around, when I was younger. She was (and is) such a comforter.  My struggles are nothing compared to the struggle of this full-time mom who raised three kids including myself. Her presence was the reason I rushed home from school. If there was no ibu, there would be no Ria. And now I understand.

 

 

 

 

 

The One who Left the Fashion World and Came Back Again

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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A lot of women sacrifice their dreams for their kids. Some sacrifice their kids for their dreams. But this one right here wants it all, because she can.

***
I first met Prisya in 2009, when I was working at AMICA magazine (an Italian fashion magazine franchised by MRA Media Group). She was this fashionable girl whom I heard went to the prestigious Central St. Martin's School, London. I also heard that she won a Mattel contest to design a Barbie costume when she was younger. "Wow, this girl's gonna go far in this industry," I said to myself as we were being introduced. Not so long after, I left the job to work at a radio station, while her career flourished to the point where she became a Jr. Fashion Editor at DEWI Magazine. But then, she resigned. Her gorgeous wedding and a little boy named Atharjahja Wira Nugroho were the reasons why.
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"It was hard to let go of my dream of becoming 'somebody' in the fashion industry. But then the first trimesters of my pregnancy were really rough, I was constantly sick and dizzy. So I knew I just had to quit work anyway," she recalled the experience. Though Prisya had always wanted to be a mom, everything that came with it was not as easy as she thought it would be.
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However, she pressed on and survived early motherhood, to the point where it became her comfort zone. Being a stay-at-home mom could get somewhat comfortable, right? But then, Prisya knew she had to make a change. She had to realize her dreams in her own terms. Though it was challenging, she then started MATROISHKA, a clothing line that offers more stylish options for nursing and pregnant mothers. "I have all the means to run my own business : vision, mission, commitment, strategy, taste, and of course support from my husband! so why not?"
Why do you choose to run your own business though? Why not just go back to work? "Well, first and foremost, it's because of flexibility. I want the freedom of choosing when and when not to work. Other than that, for me, when you run your own business, the sky is the limit! it's so challenging!", says the woman who was so pleased when I told her that these are the reasons why Princeton and Harvard graduates left their jobs to run their own businesses from home too! It's called the "Opt-Out Revolution", I quoted it in my previous post here (2011, I was single back then), but you can read the NY Times article here.
You do have to keep in mind though, that running your own business is far more complicated and stressful than working as an employee. "You can't just go home and not think of your company. Your business is your reputation. You put your money in it. And the success or the downfall of the business depends on you!" shared Prisya. "I find myself thinking about my business even at times when I have to spend time with Athar, that's why I schedule my work time only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. I have to work on the weekend sometimes, but I can balance it all," she continued. Of course, cause she's the boss!
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Inspired by her own mom and her mom-in-law, Prisya wants to continue to be a good mother ("an even better one than them!" she said) while realizing her dreams. She left the fashion world for a while and came back to it with a different mission and a bigger impact this time. She's touching the lives of others through clothing, while still paying full attention to her son (she still breastfeeds the 2-year-old boy).
What's next for Prisya? the birth of her second child and of course expanding MATROISHKA. She is currently working on 'Real Mothers' campaign, which celebrates everyday moms with different backgrounds and challenges.
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She does thank God for the presence of her loyal nanny. However, when going on a vacation and on the weekends, she usually leaves the nanny at home. "And the good thing is, Athar still prefers his dad and I over his nanny! haha!" she chuckled as we ended the conversation. Ah, if she can have it all. We can too :)

The One Who Soldiered Up

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Today's society often portrays motherhood as something that is so 'burdensome' that a lot of women are beginning to avoid it. Well, it's actually quite good to avoid it if you think you can't handle it just yet due to your personal maturity level, ongoing career, unfinished studies or difficult financial situation, because motherhood comes with a whole lot of changes that WILL turn your current world upside down, and if you ain't ready for it you might end up harming an innocent kid with the way you raise him/her (DANG, THIS WAS A LONG SENTENCE, haha !!). Anyways, but how about those who suddenly 'tripped' themselves into it? Are they 'doomed' to end up victimizing their child because of  their 'un-prepared-ness' ? I sat down with my bestfriend, Nasya Badudu-Budiman, one of the very few young mothers who are very committed to her family, in spite of the 'complicated' circumstances when she first started.

***

It was my 23rd birthday eve, when my mom came home and brought the shocking news that got me crying in disbelief. "The baby is about 7 weeks old now," she said. I found the pregnancy news of this particular friend of mine to be impossible because she was someone that I, among many, looked up to since high school (and in our culture, this kind of thing is a big no-no). I was nervous for her and her family, I mean can they handle it well?

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She was always that girl who's good at everything, gets the highest scores on the hardest tests (Humanities and Literature, she even nailed the 'bonus questions' !!), designs all kinds of awesome graphic stuff (my wedding invitations included), sings at church etc! She'd never been with anyone in her life (at least officially) and she'd never 'defiled' herself with stupid stuff like most young girls (me, included). /p>

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Yeap, tough, dorky, smart, all in one person. she is not the type to cry in front of people (ever since she was a kid!), she doesn't even get moody during PMS (she thinks it's a lame excuse for girls to justify their mood swing).

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Nasya had just turned 24 that year when she discovered that she was with child without a marital status yet, though she had planned to get married to the baby daddy the following year. Assumptions, judgements, demeaning comments were said here and there of course, and the news spread so fast that before long, I was asked about her pregnancy too by people who didn't even know her that well. But that time brought us closer than ever. I was in tears (again, gosh) when she finally walked down the aisle to the song "Great is Thy Faithfulness" in June 3, 2012 :')

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Days prior to her big day, I was curious of what kind of mother she'd become. Will she stress out? Will she drown in regret and shame and frustration? But then again, this is Nasya we're talking about. She is good at everything, remember?

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Well today, she is happily married with one beautiful daughter who just turned 1, Kharistia (derived from the Greek word 'Eucharistia' which means thankfulness) Nayyara (a Sanskrit name that means luminous/shining/joyful) Budiman. She quit her job, does not hire a nanny (in Jakarta, it's super common for middle class people to have nannies running around, taking care of their kids), she breastfeeds, she gave birth naturally, she doesn't have a maid, and on top of it all, she still manages to do freelance designing gigs here and there. Whoa! This is more than Sarah Jessica Parker in the movie I Don't Know How She Does It. This is a hardcore supermom right huurrrr!! When I asked her how she does it, she simply answered, "It's about the way you view and respond to your circumstances, it's about choosing between getting stuck in your 'incapability' of being a parent, or stepping up to learn to function as the parent you child needs you to be."

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"To be honest with you, my husband (then boyfriend) and I had thought about abortion when we first found out about the baby. But we chose not to commit it and to adapt to whatever comes with having this baby. As my pregnancy progressed, I began to focus on how to nurture and raise my daughter in the best possible way," she explained. Well, what about shame, guilt, frustration? I mean, she wasn't ready to have a baby, this baby was 'unplanned'!

She said she is no longer battling those regrets. She had let them go for a long time, because what matters is what you make of you now.

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Of course like many other great stories, it always involves a great team work, and in Nasya's particular case it involves her husband, Vedie. Today, by God's grace, they have thrived and turned what people saw as a 'failure' into an inspiration and so much more! She said, "Jangan jadi banci! We did what we did, now we gotta stand up tall and do what we gotta do." 6-Family Pic Bali

Instead of making up excuses, they learned to forgive themselves, they stepped up to give nothing but the best for their little luminous miracle, Kharistia, whose light is shining brighter and brighter everyday :)

If they, who were not ready for a baby and who's got a rough start in their marriage, can step up and give the best for their kid, the rest of us who are blessed enough to have an 'easier' circumstance ain't got no excuse to be lousy in our parenting. It's our choice to stop making excuses, though it gets so hard sometimes. Let us learn. Let us be thankful. And make it all fun!

xx