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Monthly Heroines

family life & style blog

Filtering by Tag: 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. 



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! 



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.





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.




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.




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.



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!
If you are in the DFW area this weekend and looking for something to do with your kiddo, sign up for her event, Gathered. 
Or if you are more interested to give back, sign up for her December event :) 
Don't forget to show love and follow her on instagram!

The One Who Juggles Motherhood and Online Business

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I can't remember how I found her instagram account, but I remember getting interested at this momma's profile picture. I was almost certain that she was a fellow mom-blogger. But she turned out to be an Etsy shop owner! "Whoa, does she also stay at home with her kid?," I wondered, "How does anyone manage to do this?"  

I've heard a number of other mothers who really want to do their own thing, starting up a blog or a business or something, because they know that they have the passion, the talent, and the education to support them. But, they're either too scared or too lazy to do it. It seems so hard, right? Building something from scratch? Maintaining it, pouring your all to it. But then, isn't it all worth it? Isn't having a flexible schedule that allows you to spend more time with your child while doing what you love worth the hard work?

Yes, I know, it's easier said than done. But this woman right here seems to be doing it pretty well! Ready to learn from her? :)

Meet Jacki Brown.




Have you always wanted to be a mother? 

Yes!  Recently my mom found an old essay I wrote when I was about 10 about what I wanted to be when I grew up. The first thing on the list of things I wanted was to be a mom. I've always wanted to be a mom and have a big family and lots of babies, 1 down hopefully lots more babies to go.

I was a full time college student before becoming a mom, so I worked jobs here and there, including a tutoring job, alongside school but I never entered the real workforce per say. I graduated with my BA in Psychology at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) 20 days before I gave birth to Eli! So I went from full time student to full time mom just like that.




Motherhood in 3 words for you

Hard, funny and awesome.


Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I think it ultimately started with a desire for both Zac and I to work from home for ourselves or to free up time to be able to travel and road trip! Little Native was started last November by me as a way to do something I really like and make some extra income then we finally decided together that we wanted to start a leather and woodworking business called Arrow & Board this past August. Of course our dream of working full time at home for ourselves (or in an airstream on the road into the middle of Montana or something ;) is still far off but maybe someday! Today though my husband just started a new job and I am enjoying life at home with my babe all while running our businesses!




What does your husband think about all this?

Zac is very supportive of anything I do and is my main go-to guy for questions about either business. He's a numbers guy and I'm a creative so we work well together (most of the time ;) and support each other.


Any mommy-entrepreneur that inspires you?

My aunt! She started and runs love41.com it's a for-profit company that gives all their proceeds to orphans, widows and street kids in Rwanda!


What's the biggest challenge in balancing business & family life?

Time! When Eli is awake during the day I try to not work on filling orders etc. I try to spend my time more intentionally focused on him. Same thing with my husband, we always try to at least eat dinner together in the evening and try to go to bed at the same time ( these two things sound so easy and maybe most people have them down but they can be hard for us to do).




Obviously some days I can't achieve all the things I mentioned, some days I just have too much to do (today is one of those days) but having the mindset of intentionally spending time with my boys helps. Plus I work my butt off during naptime.


It takes time. Don't get discouraged, starting Little Native was slooooow gooooing but I kept going and it paid off. Stay inspired, keep on keeping on, for me that was continuing on making designs for shirts or creating bags and having fun with it. You'll get there, keep up the good work.


Where did you get the idea to start Little Native shop?

It honestly came out of a want to have Eli dressed really cute without having to pay a whole lot of money but it's turned into something more! We are part Comanche Indian so the Native American Indian inspired designs seemed fitting and with the idea that every kid is a "Little Native" to somewhere I thought it was a great name for my brand!




I started looking into hand screen printing and found out that it was easier than it looked so I tried it and loved it! I've got a lot to learn still but I'm getting there and looking to the future with new ideas for Little Native.



How do you find inspiration for your new designs?

I stick to Native American inspired designs! It's part of my heritage and family so I take those classic designs and draw them out myself into my own style of design and then make them into screens for tees.

  With Arrow & Board, how involved are you in the whole process (production, marketing, etc)?

My husband does most of the woodworking part but for the leather working I am very involved, I know how to make all of our products by hand and am frequently the one who is filling orders on a day to day basis. Other than handcrafting products I am the social media and photography girl! I'm learning more about SEO and how to get our company out there and seen by people. I'm excited about the future of Arrow & Board!

  Any future plans for the brands and the family?

Currently some of Arrow & Board products include Apple Watch Bands, iPhone 6 Wallet Sleeve and a bohemian style fringe bag but we are working on a simple wallet, a field notes case and a couple other things. Arrow & Board is fun and I feel like it has lots of potential to do really well! Little Native has had the same designs for quite a while so I've got plans to get some new designs out (I really want to do a thunderbird print!) before Christmas. Plus I've started making personalized hand stamped leather bracelets, that was inspired by all the leatherworking involved in Arrow & Board.




As for our family, we are moving to Austin in the next couple of months, my husband just started a new job there! We're in the process of putting our house on the market and house hunting for a new place. We are going to miss our family and our church home and friends here in San Antonio but know and trust that this move is part of the plan that God has for our lives. We can't wait to see what He has in store for our businesses and our lives there in Austin! Oh and yes, babies, I want more and we're ready, so whenever it happens it happens!


At the time of this interview, Jacki hadn't find out about the fact that she's actually having another baby. Show love and congratulate her on instagram here :)




The One Who Keeps It Real

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

It's been almost a year since the last time I did an article on inspiring mothers. With the sickness (back in June) and everything that happened in between, I just haven't been able to do interviews and photoshoots in the past few months. But I've realized that "Heroines & Badasses" is one of my favourite article to write because I am not writing about me, I am writng about other people! Now with the rise of "#momsoninstagram", it's not easy to find someone who is real let alone relatable. Some are too staged with their photos on instagram, some are too 'up there and unapproachable', and many just don't even try (I'm sorry, I know we all have struggles, but I needed someone who has the right balance between being stylish and being real for this article, although not all mothers whom I've interviewed for this section is a blogger). So I was excited when I found a fellow Dallas mom-blogger, Camille Elena.


You know, when you see someone and you go, "I think I can get along with her." Yeah, that's how I felt looking at her photos on instagram. Not because we are so alike, in fact we're not. But because she seemed stylish without trying too hard, very casual, and relatable as a mother. She's not like one of those fashion bloggers who are just 'up there' you know. So yeah, I decided to reach out a few weeks ago and we ended up having coffee together last week. And, she brought little Zara with her!

     There was no attitude, she did not try to overcomplicate her answers, she turned out to be exactly how I thought she would be.

Motherhood in 3 words for you : Learning, stretching, and moving.


Have you always wanted to be a mother? Why? Not necessarily. The thought of having kids horrified me, especially since I was trying to finish up my degree at the time. My plan was to have kids at 30, or none at all. That is, until I met Robert.  


Why did you decide to become a stay-at-home mom? I worked part-time at ISP Studios as a production assistant and book-keeper while I was in college. Soon after having Zara, I graduated and tried working while being a new mom, but it was hard taking a newborn along. So I stopped for a while and decided that being a stay-at-home mom was best for the time being. She won’t be this little forever.


The best part about being Zara's mom?  Having a stand-in cuddle buddy when Robert is at work.




How would you describe your style? Clean, classic, chic but with hints of however I’m feeling that day thrown into my outfits. I like to add elements of bohemia, the 70’s, and edge. I also love neutral colors, but I’m not opposed to color either.


How do you make the time to dress up nicely and do your make up with a kiddo running around? (I honestly need some tips on this haha) One thing motherhood has taught me is the art of distraction. Most of the time Zara just simply wants to be with me, so whether I’m taking a shower or putting on makeup, I’ll usually let her hop in with me (clothes and all) or let her play in my makeup bag so she can feel as if she’s participating. It takes twice as long, but it makes her happy!  


As Zara continues to grow, how would you teach her about balancing between loving fashion, and having an inner-beauty? How do you do it with yourself so far? Well, the first thing I want to instill in her is to be confident in who she is and that inner-beauty is what matters the most. I also want to teach her that being herself in her love for fashion is also important and not to get too wrapped up in trying to be/dress like everyone else. Being different is what’s beautiful!


Who inspires you to be a fashion/mom-blogger? My mom of course! I sincerely believe if it weren’t for her, my sense of fashion wouldn’t be as keen as it is today. She is such a fashionable woman who has always dressed smart and appropriate for her age. And to be honest, she has always been more fashion-forward than me. She has always told me to wear what I want, because when I’m old I won’t be able. I am also inspired by other moms who are going through similar situations as me. In a sense, it’s as if we’re going through it together when we share stories and when we connect.



I've seen a lot of blogger post about the struggle to stay sane in this social media-crazed world, because as you know, we often find ourselves comparing ourselves with the other bloggers. Honestly, I feel that way too every now and then. What do you do when you feel that way? Any words of encouragement or tips? I try not to compare myself to others simply because I wasn’t taught to compare myself with anyone growing up. Instead of comparing, I like to see what I can learn from other bloggers on how they style their outfits or engage with their followers. I also keep in mind that they’re people just like me who are not perfect and who are just trying to put their best foot forward. So my word of encouragement to anyone reading is this: No one will ever be as good at being you than YOU.


How is your Mr. doing so far in terms of supporting your passion for fashion and blogging, what does he think of it? I think at first he was a bit skeptical and annoyed when I would ask him to take pictures, but he’s coming around to it. He’s not into social media at all, so he doesn’t quite understand why I have to take so many pictures, but he does understand that I enjoy doing it. I balance it out by blogging at night before I go to bed or while Zara naps, so it doesn’t interfere with family time. Now, I don’t think he minds it so much.


Fall is coming soon, any must-have fashion item for fall? Because I am a lover of shoes, the item that I am lusting over is the cut-out leather bootie! I recently purchased some Dolce Vita brand booties and I just can’t get enough and I certainly can’t wait to incorporate them into all my summer outfits, because let’s face it, the summer heat isn’t going anywhere for a while in Texas. And I am a firm believer that getting a new pair of shoes is like getting a whole new wardrobe, so the possibilities are endless!


She also encourages us mothers to know what we can and cannot pull off in terms of wearing fashion items and trends. "Lady Gaga can pull off just about anything because she's Lady Gaga, but what she got on might not look good on us! So make sure you know what works best for you, find your own style," she said.

Since we brought our kids that day, the chit-chat and photoshoot surely didn't go as smoothly as they might seem in the photos. I had to bring an iPad, a spare car key, and some blackberries to calm J down. Camille had to nurse Zara in between shoots, Zara bumped her head in my car when I hit the brake (because I thought the traffic light went green when it actually went red), I mean it was crazy! But it was real. And that's what I love about meeting up with real mothers.



When asked about the message she wants to convey through social media and blogging, Camille simply answered, "Be relatable."

Well said, mama.

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.
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!

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.

photo 5

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.

photo 3

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?


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.
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).
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.
Badudus 1
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.
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! :)