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Life

Life-learned lessons, relationships, marriage, faith, lifestyle, and everything else in between.

Filtering by Tag: parenthood

How I Screwed Up My Son's Brain. And How I'm fixing it.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I never believed that excessive screen time could affect children's speech, thinking and social skills. Until it happened to my son. Apparently, fixing it involves me having less screentime as well.

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On Losing Sleep & Chasing Dreams

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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" I lost sleep so I wouldn't have to lose my dream" - Group 1 Crew

I love this quote above by Group 1 Crew that talks about how this rapper spent sleepless nights working on a beat machine when he was younger, to create music and make his dreams come true.

I am not a rapper but I find this line to be so relatable.

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I originally wanted to start an e-commerce business so I don't have to rely on this blog to make an extra income. Plus, I was just so tired of the pretentious nature of the 'influencer industry', so I wanted to lay low and just blog for fun, not for money.

But then God kept on opening doors for me and my blog, and in the last couple of months, I have been blessed with opportunities and partnerships that have given me access to get free food, free tickets, and some extra money.

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So I embraced it. Doing my best to maintain the quality of my contents, without selling stuff to you guys all the time. Do it in a tasteful way, and yada yada yada. And this is time-consuming!

Now I have invested all of my money to building my store, so I have to do all that I can to make money from it! And so came the stress to do photoshoots, marketing, packaging, pop up shops, etc.

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To cut cost, I've decided to do my own photoshoots, even though I am not a professional photographer. I don't have a fancy DSLR so I have to rent one every once in a while and invite friends to support and model my stuff.

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This chick you see in the pic above is Emonne Markland. She is an author, a speaker, a TV producer, and most of all she is a mother and a wife. We met through instagram. She invited me to her Leave Your Beauty Mark coffee connect last year and she's been very supportive ever since! I find that genuine love to be rare, and I am grateful to have people like her in my life.

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It's not easy to maintain my relationships with people though (my family included). I get so busy all the time, my mind gets so occupied with my to-do lists that I can't even think about what I'm cooking for dinner or saying hi to a friend I haven't seen in a while.

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See the photo above? I woke up like that. Like a junkie with bags under my eyes lol. What can I do, I only got 4 hours of sleep!

But why do I do this, really. Are we struggling that bad financially? Can't I just get a 'normal job'?

Well the answer to both questions is NO, my friends. My family isn't going through a financial crisis, although J's surgery back in July was a big hit for us. I just really, really want to contribute to the household income with whatever I can do. I just like to hustle. It's just in me. And if doing what I love can bring us some extra money, why not?

And a 'normal job'? No way. I do not want to be chained to a portioned vacation days. I want to be there for J whenever I want and can although I feel like I haven't done it well enough after being a 'stay-at-home mom' for 3 years now.

Because while most people work from 9 to 5. Moms work from wake to sleep. 

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I believe this chaos is only for a season, though. I believe that I will eventually learn to manage my time better, to let go of some projects that are too time consuming, and to put my family first.

Because like this candle says in the pic above : "Light your home, light the world".

It all starts from home. And whatever I'm chasing won't be any good if I don't put my family first. Hmm...

 

*Item details : Starling Project Vanilla Hemlock Candle | Mozdeb Pretty Thoughts Journal & #Momstruggle Bag 

*behind the scene photos by Vanessa Espinoza, who was also modelling for me. 

The One Who Time Travels Through Stories

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I'm super excited about this month's heroine. She is a dear friend of mine who seems to know just the right thing to say at the right time. She founded this community called Openseat, press play and watch the video before you read this article :) https://youtu.be/EVF9wkmzj54

She is a queen in the her own right, a storyteller, a speaker, and most of all she is a wife and a mom. This is Queen K. Smith :)

You describe yourself as a story teller. How did you get into it? Why are you so passionate about it?

I grew up in a very community centered culture in Cameroon, West Africa. We must have coined the phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child,'' lol! One of my fondest memories was when the whole family, 18+ of us (yep you read that correctly!), would gather around the fireside and listen to stories from the elders. My father was an incredible story teller; I guess you can say like father like daughter. I remember being captivated by stories at a young age. Those stories allowed me to time travel, and every time a story was told I felt something different. It didn't matter if I had heard the story before. I pulled courage and inspiration from the moments shared.

During some of the stories I held my breath during the conflict and exhaled when hope was about to break through! Now as an adult nothing has changed. I still marvel at people and their stories and I still love eating with people I meet. I want to know where they have been/where are they now/ and where they are going. As a story teller I get to take you on a journey (without paying for airfare lol).

A lot of people write stories, but not many are good in telling them. What makes the two so different?

I know some amazing story tellers, I honestly think everyone I encounter is a story teller. When I do I share, I do so with intention to build and not to destroy. A good story in the wrong environment does not accomplish anything. A great story teller paints a visual picture that will not appear if he/she is disconnected from their audience and merely just sharing an experience.

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Do you personally feel like stories could make an impact in people's lives? How has it helped you personally?

Girl yes! Stories are up there with chicken tacos with avocado! Stories help encourage, reveal, teach, to pass knowledge and they help us other understand others. I have personally learned from other people's story to avoid mistakes. I have personally helped others uncover their story and their core. Stories often times bring clarity and wisdom. 4

 To you personally, what makes a good story?

Truth and Authenticity makes a great story. The key is to not make your story look like someone else's.

 

 You are a mom. Have you always wanted to be one? 

Always!! I come from a huge family and I have dreamed about having a football team as well, jk. We have a beautiful 2 year daughter that I prayed for. I think she looks like me, that’s my story and I am sticking to it lol. Everyone thinks that she looks like her dad. I love my family.

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Do you tell stories to your daughter? If yes, what's her favorite story?

I sure do and I go all out.  She is two and I can already see in her eyes that she thinks I am dramatic. She has the beginner's bible with stories about Jesus for children; we thought that was perfect for her to learn about Jesus, the ultimate story teller.

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The cool thing is that most of the stories are the miracles Jesus performed, I want her to dream big. She loves all those stories.

 If people want to listen to your stories, where should they go?

I get to do Story Telling at our Open Seat Community and different conferences/events. One upcoming event in particular will be at the Miss Africa Texas Pageant this Saturday in Plano, TX. I also have a YouTube channel under the name, Queen K Smith. I have some upcoming stuff that I am going to doing specifically geared towards stories. Be on the lookout, you may visit my website and subscribe for upcoming activities and events.

First Day of School Jitters

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I can't believe we're entering this stage this fall! This taking-your-kid-to-school stage. You might not understand how big of a deal this is, but I've been staying with J full time since day 1! I don't take him to daycare, no mothers day out program, nothing like that, although I do go to events or work-related occasions without him (that's when I rely on my husband, my mom whenever she's around, and my trusted group of babysitters to watch him). So to not have him around from 9 to 2 pm twice a week is a huge deal for me. I try not to get mellow but sometimes I do.  

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To be honest, we still haven't got our lives together. He still isn't potty-trained yet. I work at home all the time. I can go on and on about everything that is going 'wrong' with us. And I used to beat myself up for it. When I say 'used to' I mean two days ago haha..For real though.

 

But okay, we don't have to have it all together yet to move on to the new season right? I'm not making excuses or justifying any slacking of in my parenting. I'm just being realistic and acknowledging my weaknesses. So far all the prep I've done includes buying him a sleeping mat for school (they take naps at school), finding out his favorite snacks and lunches so I can just pack those before he goes to school, and telling him about the potty and how it's not scary. I also try to encourage him to doodle and greet people and use more words.

 

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I try not to pressure him though. We'll take it one day at a time. Surrender it all to God.

 

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I will do my best to get him ready for the world, to be by his side no matter what, and to hopefully work less when he's around. Oh and pray more! Gosh I need wisdom! Anyways, the first day of school is coming in a few weeks (along with his 3rd birthday), keep us in your prayers, friends! :)

 

The sneakers are Adidas NEO Advantage Clean | The Journal is my original design available on etsy

What I Learned from J's Recent Surgery

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

When I first became a mom, I didn't want to believe when people told me that no matter how careful you are in taking care of your kid, no matter how thick you bubble-wrap them, accidents happen. Because that's just how life is. Bad or unfortunate events happen in life. Well, an unfortunate event happened to J back in January. I was trying to get my New Year's resolution going by working out at the gym in my apartment complex, and I brought J with me. Why did I bring him? Because I brought him last year, when I was training for a 5K run, and he did fine. He enjoyed watching the cartoons there, he would play with his toys, I mean it wasn't a problem at all.

But this year...It's a different story. Why? Because he's almost 3. He was more curious about equipments around him, and he ended up sticking his left fingers under the treadmill I was running on. Yeah, it was pretty bad. Blood was splashing everywhere.

So that brought us to last Wednesday, when he had a plastic surgery that will enable him to extend his fingers again. Because they got burned really badly.

Instead of throwing a pity party, whining and complaining, I have decided to jot down what I've learned from the incident :

  1. You don't have to bring toys to the hospital. They have tons. (Especially Children's Medical Center!)

2. Your spouse might be as stressed out or as anxious as you are. So try your best to not cause drama. Keep calm. 

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3. When eating at the hospital cafeteria, don't go for the Asian selection. Always go for the popular, Western selection. 

4. Nobody can replace you, mom. Not even dad. Not even the kindest nurses. So please, be there for your kiddo. He's prolly scared and confused.

5. What you do today might and will affect your kid(s) tomorrow (or years after), not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. 

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So please, do your best to put their wellbeing first. And when accidents happen, have grace for yourself and others. And have faith! Things will get better :)

Have an awesome weekend y'all!

Celebrating the Superhero

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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When I was single, just like most of people, I thought choosing a husband involved a lot of loving feeling and romance. But thank God I realized early on, that in selecting the right one for me, I needed to USE MY BRAIN in order to determine whether or not he would be the right partner for me to do life with. Because really, at the end of the day, that's what marriage is about, doing life together, growing together, and raising a family together. Loving feeling comes and goes, but values, good principles, belief, and faith will stay. Today, with all of my heart I can say that I thankfully had chosen the right partner to do life with.

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He's a great friend, he keeps me on my toes, always truthful, and very loving (even more loving than me, I really need to improve in this area!). He is a great cook, very smart with money, a great planner, and thankfully, he is a great dad.

The kind of man I would want my son to look up to. Strong in his faith, very careful with his choices, not afraid of challenges, yet goofy and vulnerable at the same time. He's not afraid to show his feelings and cry, you know. That's rare to find.

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I know J can see that too through his 3-year-old mind and soul. That's why he lights up everytime his sees his dad. And I honestly think that's why J is into books and numbers (because, that surely didn't come from me lol).

I'm so blessed to have him as our superhero. He is not perfect, but I know that his heart is in the right place, and that is good enough to make any dad a superhero.

So at 10 days before Father's Day, we celebrate you, Mr.Man. Happy Father's Day!

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We got a help from Customink to create this t-shirt on their  Design Lab. Scanned J's handprints and uploaded them on the web, before placing the order and receiving it in just 3 days with their super rush delivery. Thank you Customink :) 

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A Mother's Promise

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Whenever our toddlers scream and throw a tantrum in public, our natural response as parents would be trying to calm him/her down and sometimes even apologizing to people around us for the inconvenience that the loud noises have caused. We feel embarrassed, often because it makes us look like bad as parents. Or at least that's what I usually think. What is it about being parents that makes us we feel so obligated to have kids that do not embarrass us? Why do we have to look good anyway?  Aren't the other parents dealing with the same things too?

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I remember how I used to set crazy goals for J, like getting potty-trained before he turned 1 or speaking 2 languages by the age of 2. Why? Because I wanted him to 'make me proud'.  Don't get me wrong, determination is good, goals are great, but if you've come to the point of forcing them to your kids before they're ready, you better check your motif :) Why do we them to advance so much?  To make us look good? Some parents do this until they're kids are grown!

In my case, it was simply potty-training.

Last year, I was so desperate to get him potty-trained by the time he turned 2  over the summer, that it frustrated the both of us. He just wasn't ready! After a few months of battling over the potty, I've finally made peace with it and tuned out all of the negative voices that said, "No he's ready, you're just too lazy" - in my head.

Today, I am content with the fact that he is not yet potty-trained at the age of 2.5. I know that every kid is different and mine will be ready whenever he is. Some might be interested in getting potty-trained at the age of 11 or 18 months old, and some don't. So why compare? Why get insecure?

In the words of one of my favorite speakers, Nancy Houston :

Your children are not here to make you look good.

Ouch! True this! They are their own person, with their own sets of skills and purposes on this earth. They are here to grow, love and learn - and we ought to remember that and respect that. Oh little J, I'm sorry for the way I forced you into things just to make me look good. I love you just the way you are. And I promise to remember what you are here for.

To remind me of my #MothersPromise, I've printed out this cute photos and framed them for his nursery :)

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We are planning to try potty-training him again before he goes to school this fall, but until then, I know that J is well taken care of in his comfortable, hypoallergenic (y'all know how sensitive his skin is), high-quality Pampers Premium Care diapers. I love that the fact that it's got a wetness indicator, unique absorb away liner, extra absorb channels, and that it's breathable inside & out! No sogginess and rashes for my bebe :) You can get them at your local Walmart or here at walmart.com.

Check out this video and don't forget to subscribe to my youtube channel :)

https://youtu.be/qGGLqc068Jw

 

How about you? What is your #MothersPromise? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Juggling for Balance

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

"Huh?," you might wonder, "How do you balance when you're juggling?" When we hear the word 'balance', we'd usually picture somebody with yoga pants on, standing with one foot on the ground and with both palms of their hands touching (Namaste!). Or, some of us might picture a scale with equal amount of weight on both sides. Well, these depictions are not wrong. In fact, if you google the word 'balance', these images would most likely to come up on the search result.

The word balance is often associated with an act of holding more than one thing at a time to maintain that peace...that quietness...and therefore that balance.

But when it comes to work and life, can balance really be achieved that way? By doing many things, if not everything, all at once a.k.a multi-tasking?

In an infograph by Social Caffeine that I posted a while ago, researches have shown that 40% of productivity is reduced when a person multi-tasks. Why? Because when you multi-task, you are open to more distractions! A lot of people said that women are great multi-taskers, because we can have so many 'tabs' opened in our brains at the same time. But is it really effective to try to do everything at once?

Experts have found that most people like to multi-task because it serves them emotionally. Meaning, it makes work more entertaining, like when you do your homework while binge-watching your favorite TV series or getting your presentation ready for tomorrow while spoon-feeding your baby. It sounds cool, because you are pleasing everybody and every one of your senses, but the problem is, with multi-tasking, errors are often inevitable. Ooh, you don't want that my friend. Having your clients complain about your work, risking your credibility and all? Uh uh, that's not what I call balance at all.

 

So what do we do?

 

SERIAL-TASKING

Maybe, we have all mistaken multi-tasking with what experts call "serial-tasking", which means getting a task done effectively before rapidly switching to another task. Realize that the keywords here are effectively and rapidly. So you focus on doing whatever you have to do at this hour, and when it's done, quickly move on to the next thing you have to do. Yes, kinda like juggling.

 

When it comes to keeping it balance between work and life with your family, being present is certainly crucial. Otherwise, it's not balanced at all! And multi-tasking will only mess it up. I have tried to do my work (articles, translations, etc) at home while my kiddo was around, or bringing him to meetings, and I tell ya, it's not a win-win solution. When he was a newborn, yes it was probably okay, but now that he's 2? No, no. I gotta be present both when I am playing with him, and when I'm writing or in a meeting. I can't do both at the same time! They have to take turns. Like balls that are flying in the air, waiting to fall back into a juggler's hand, one by one.

 

Scheduling

A juggler does not try to hold or toss 3 (or more) balls at the same time. Instead, he works with one ball at a time, tossing the others to the sky while keeping his rhythm going and somehow achieving balance in that seemingly chaotic dynamic. He has a gameplan and a schedule that he's mastered, so he knows which ball to work with now, which ball to worry about later, and which ball to catch next. Know what to do and when to do it - that's the key.

 

It definitely takes more discipline and self-control to juggle, but trust me it's actually more efficient! With blogging, I always schedule to do it at night. So I can finish an article/post in just 1.5 to 2 hours, distraction-free, while during the day, J has my undivided attention. I also try to only do my instagram posts in the morning (when we're driving to Mr. Man's work) or when J takes a nap in the afternoon. And! I try to take most of my photos when Mr. Man is at home.

 

For meetings, since we don't want to hire babysitters yet (at least until J can speak more fluently) the gameplan is to pick lunch time if the person I'm meeting with could meet up somewhere that is no further than 15 min-drive from Mr.Man's office. Why? So that he could take J out for lunch. Therefore I could have a decent meeting without worrying about chasing a toddler around. My other option is to do it in the afternoon at 4.30 p.m. (anywhere, it could be downtown or anywhere), so Mr. Man can take J out for an early dinner or afternoon snack while I'm having my meeting. With this though, he would have to come to work a little bit early so he could leave early. Since the meetings have usually been scheduled and planned ahead, it's not a problem. And, I believe  as both J and my blog grow, we would continue to find new gameplans to make this work without sacrificing neither of us.  

Living in the Moment

Now that I've achieved the 'work' part of the balance, the only way I could get the 'life' part balanced is by living in the moment. When I'm out with my fam, even if I do take photos, I'd post them way later, when whatever fun or engaging thing we're doing is over. I do this so our family won't have those moments where I'm busy editing photos on instagram while Mr. Man and J are enjoying the food at a restaurant. That's not balance at all, right? They are my life, after all.

 

So friends, in our daily attempts to achieve the ultimate balance, let's all learn to prioritize, plan, live in the moment and juggle on!

Don't forget to click the following links to check out what other wonderful bloggers say about this matter :)

Cheers!

The Myth of Multi-tasking

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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"What are you doing?" -- It is almost impossible to truly answer this question with just one word nowadays. You might be eating, but you could also be reading the news, while listening to iTunes as well as waiting for your friend's reply on whatsapp. You might be on a datenight with your husband, but you're also ten thousand miles away with your friend who's on a vacation in Paris, since you just liked and commented her picture on instagram. And what saddens me the most is, you could be having the most intimate moment with your baby, which is nursing, while stalking other people's facebook to see where they got that cute dress they posted earlier.

With the world at our finger tips, we are sinking in this ocean of an idea that if we can do more than 5 things all at once, why focus on just one?

Every improvement that the technology industry makes is meant to accommodate this new way of life called multi-tasking.

Oh yes, we're getting it all done, all at once. But are they done with an excellent quality, the best way that they could be done?

Are you sure?

Press play and learn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5y2GKk6sOI

I agree with what Propaganda says here in this video. No matter how important those things that you're trying to do all at once are, choose one. Prioritize and do them one at a time.

For multitasking is a myth.

Even if you get one thing done right, the other would eventually slip right through your finger, though it might seem alright at the beginning. Like the quality time that you have with your kid now, that you could never get back. Or the 'downtime' you have with your spouse at night after your baby's asleep, that you could use to talk to each other instead of replying people's comments or chats.

Networking is crucial, especially if you want to strengthen your influence, gain more follower, or get a new job. But again, first things first.

Social Caffeine breaks it down further in the following infographic :

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Oh wow.