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Life

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

Filtering by Tag: parenting

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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What My Recent Blog Stats Has Taught Me

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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I put this throwback photo up as this post's cover just to show you how it all started. In early 2014, I decided to start blogging about motherhood and my journey of moving to the U.S. with my family. I didn't really think about making money from it or having a huge following, although I've always thought that it would be nice to get recognized somehow.

I mostly wrote about life lessons I had learned from everyday moments as a young mom and wife, about 4 to 8 times a month. Nothing crazy or ambitious, and back then, I only had about 500 followers on instagram. I didn't post everyday on social media. And! I took ALL of my photos only with my iPhone 4s.

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Remember this photo? Taken on my anniversary morning,with an iPhone. And J was a little over 1 year old. I remember shocked seeing '200 likes' on my instagram page for the first time lol.

Fast forward to today, I have over 11k followers on instagram, I get invitations to local lifestyle events, tons of partnership with different brands, photographers taking my photos, a fancy camera for me to take photos on my own, a new computer and softwares to edit everything from photos to videos (oh yeah, I have a youtube channel) - I mean, it's safe to say that my blogging life has been upgraded to a new level of influence, or so I thought.

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According to the statistics though, that isn't the case here. My readership has actually dropped almost 4 times since last year!

But what happened? I didn't even try last year. I didn't even post that often on instagram last year. I didn't even get invited to fancy events last year. Nobody in Dallas even knew me last year! I was a regular stay-at-home mom last year!

Wait, is that why?

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Have I grown apart from my original purpose of blogging which was to inspire young mothers and women?

This statistic has proven this powerful statement right here :

Having popularity is not the same as having influence. 

I was touching so many lives last year without even trying! Now, I'm making money yes, I'm not gonna lie to you. But I feel like I do not affect as many people as I did last year, personally. How is that possible? I really don't know.

But I know this : I can breathe now.

I can focus on my family now and not neglect them over my editing and blogging.

I don't have to worry about partnerships and getting invitations to events.

I can just breathe. And be.

And I can to go back to sharing my heart out, without getting too personal (you know my style, I do not treat my blog or social media as my diary, I treat it as an outlet for me to share the lessons I've learned. So I won't give away personal details that are not necessary on the internet lol).

Because at the end of the day, this broken world craves for hope, love, and light. And if I could shine just a little, I could make an impact in someone's life.

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For those of you who have stuck with me throughout the changes, thank you :) I'm learning to balance it all. I'm not gonna stop doing business of course, but I will definitely pour out my heart more. Thanks again, I am grateful for y'all!

*cover photo by Shakti Siddarta, Bishop Art photo by Megan Weaver 

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!

Why Mommy-dates Are Vital for Our Survival

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

No matter how 'fun' and 'okay' my motherhood life might seem on social media (hashtag it #momlife hayyy ;) ), I am gonna be real honest with you and tell you this : I face real challenges that other moms face and there are days when I just snap and lose my patience. I remember crying in the restroom because I had J's poop all over my shirt last year. Sometimes we feel helpless and just overwhelmed, no matter how many kids we have and however young or old they are.

At those moments, we tend to think that we are the only one going through this, while the other moms have it all together. But let me tell you this : we ALL have those days in our walks as mothers and wives. So why go through it alone when you can have your fellow mommy-friends supporting you and cheering for you?

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That's why I think having a community of moms who uphold the kind of values you uphold is very important. We bring our kids to playdates so they can socialize and learn to interact with other kids, why don't we go on mommy-dates ourselves?

I'm so grateful for my friend and neighbor, Roselle, who has been able to pick me up and go on little playdate slash mommy-dates with me on almost every Tuesday. We've been to local libraries, Dallas Arboretum, and recently, a Midwestern-based restaurant that specializes in ButterBurgers and Fresh Frozen Custard, Culver's.

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Started back in 1984, Culver's has now grown to over 550 restaurants, including in the DFW metroplex. We went to the one in The Colony, which was just opened back in September of 2015. And of course, we brought our kiddos with us.

Roselle decided to try the Beef Pot Roast sandwich (left) with some BBQ sauce on top, and I tried the ButterBurger Cheese. Yum!!

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I like the fact that their ButterBurger is cooked-to-order and the patties are NOT frozen, seared to perfection, so you get that crust when you bite into it. Check them out on instagram to see more of their delicious burgers, sammiches, and more. 

Over the delicious lunch, Roselle and I talked about everything from parenting, Disney movies, to Beyonce! I love that when you carpool and go out for lunch with your fellow moms and their kid(s), you get to see how they deal with their kids, how they overcome challenges you might be facing or have yet to face. And be real, you know.

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For dessert, I tried the Frozen Custard made with cold-pressed vanilla and fine dairy. This one's the Chocolate Chip Cookie Concrete Mixer. I added some brownie bits too!

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Roselle tried the flavor of the day which was Cherry Cheesecake and she said it was super yummy!!

We ended the afternoon by taking photos (and being photobombed by our sons) and taking a long ride home together.

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Wherever you are in your journey of motherhood, don't ever feel like you are alone. Find a good friend and hold on to them. Support them and cheer for them, because we are better together.