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Life

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

Filtering by Category: Life in DFW

On 10 Years After Turning 18. And The People I Love.

Debora Manusama

So I just turned 28 last week. You know what that means? It's been 10 years since I went to college. Wow! My biggest mistakes were made in the last decade. I pray and hope that some of my biggest achievements will be accomplished this decade!

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Sushi, Cocktails, and Therapeutic Girl-Time

Debora Manusama

I don't know about you, but I feel like a night out with my girlfriends is vital for my sanity lol. It doesn't have to be super epic and crazy, we just need to get together and be girls ya know. And talk about everything from parenting to men in fitted suits ;) 

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Expecting A Little and Getting A Lot.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I usually treat my birthdays like the New Years. I would stay up until 12, list all of the major things that had happened throughout the year (from the last birthday to the upcoming birthday), and then list my goals for the 'new year'. I'd also expect my loved ones to put together a more elaborate celebration for me. Like last year, I asked Mr.Man for a staycation in downtown Dallas. This year however, I didn't feel the need to do anything major. I just wanted to chill with my family! Maybe I am getting old?

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So didn't do much prior to the 'big day', even though it was going to my birthday + mother's day combo. I just went to Susie Cakes, got my Vanilla Celebration cake (Susie gave me discounts, thank you ma'am), and got my pictures taken by the talented Beckley & Co. 

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The theme of the shoot was just me strolling around downtown Dallas with some white balloons, wearing nothing fancy, just a casual kimono sleeve dress by ASOS, no high heels, just me being me.

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Yeah, I suck at fake-laughing. LOL. Anyways, if you were wondering about the necklace...

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It's PETRA necklace by SLATE, it's sold for $70, but if you sign up for a monthly jewelry subscription with Rocksbox using my code MOZDEBXOXO, you can borrow it for a month for FREE along with 2 other jewelries on your first month :)

Afterwards, the birthday week that I thought would be 'plain' and simple turned out to be epic when on Wednesday Ms. Lauryn Hill performed in Dallas. I have been a fan of hers my whole life and to finally see her perform was a dream come true!

I went to a bunch of meetings during the week, got some partnership opportunities that I look forward to, and finally went to a yummy brunch with my family at our favorite spot on Saturday.

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Of course you cannot expect a 2.5 year old to behave at brunch. We stayed for 1.5 hour and then left immediately before he started screaming. Haha. #momstruggles.

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I had the lox benedict, wasn't impressed because look at those tiny pieces of lox! And the caviars were barely there. Ugh, I was expecting more, I would go with the Duck Confit at next time.

On the day, I stayed home the whole day with Mr. Man and J. We ate some home-cooked Indonesian food (which is the best food!), watched TV, and just chilled. But then at night, Mr.Man took us to Perry's Steakhouse for some serious dinner.

Had some Rosa Regale, chopped salad, fried asparagus, and the Mother's Day specials : Pork Chops. Unfortunately, they were very salty so I didn't finish mine. And we weren't the only ones disappointed, the guests on the table next to us were also disappointed!

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It was still a good night regardless, because I got to spend time with my two favorite people at a nice restaurant. Mr.Man said he took us to fancy dinner (and gave me a budget to go shopping! He also booked me a massage appointment) because I didn't ask for anything this year.

Funny how that works in life and relationships sometimes. When you don't demand too much and pressure others to give to you too much, you might just get more than you expect. 

 

And I thought wow  I didn't plan to have such a great birthday week this year, but everything fell into place just perfectly and I got to enjoy my birthday without asking too much or spending too much.  bday (9 of 9)

We told one of the servers that we weren't happy with the pork chops so they didn't charge us for them (yay!). We ended the night by savoring some delicious desserts that actually saved the night.

Well,I hope you guys had a wonderful Mother's Day and to all of you May babies out there, happy birthday! Cheers!

 

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.

Rescue Her's October 'Soap Outreach'

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

If you've read my previous post about my first time volunteering for Rescue Her last month, you would be aware of this thing that we do called Soap Outreach. It's basically a new form of outreach that Rescue Her does involving soaps, stickers, motels, and cookies. So how does it work?  

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We visit motels in low-income areas (because unlike hotels, motels give traffickers the ability to pay in cash and even by the hour, so it's easier for them to avoid detection), meet the managers/owners, introduce ourselves and our cause, then help them fight human trafficking alongside us by giving away free soaps! Not just any soap, but premium quality bar soaps with national anti-human trafficking hotline number labeled on them.

 

 

We also give them stickers to put on the check-in counter and bathroom mirrors, because who knows, a girl in need might see it and get help asap. This outreach sounds so simple yet the impact could be really powerful and life-changing for these girls. It could help them change their future! And because we do this out of love, we can't forget to give a bag of cookies to each motel manager/owner (even the vegan ones!).

 

 

And, we also bring goodie bags filled with beauty products to give to girls that we might find at the motels. Again, we just want to love on them and hopefully let them know that they are beautiful and loved. And to me, this has been a lifelong goal. I am really passionate about letting young girls know that they are loved and beautiful just the way they are.

 

But the thing is, even though last Friday was my second time volunteering, I still didn't feel comfortable enough to talk, so I stayed in the car most of the time, taking photos and all (which is good for documentation, but still..). Why did I hesitate to go out and talk to motel owners? Because I don't speak a perfect English, and I worried that if I got nervous or excited, I would stutter. This was a ridiculous concern of course, because most of the motel owners don't even speak good English! And on my way home, I was reminded of what Rev. Samuel Rodriguez once said "God is not looking for those who have everything, but those who are willing to give up everything." I don't have to have all the skills, I just have to be willing. Darn, I wish I would've had more courage!

 

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Anyways, my fellow volunteers here, Caren and Noah, did great. Karen is actually a 'veteran', she's done outreach stuff for years, so she knew what to do. Oh, back to the matter of speaking English, sadly, my excuse was the very excuse that many motel owners used to get rid of us. A few of them immediately pretended to be confused or not able to speak English, as soon as we started telling them about our cause.

 

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The second most popular excuse that they used to get rid of us was "the manager is not here" - scenario. Ugh, come on people. Really? Well, maybe they were just too scared to get involved with anything that would threaten their income, I don't know. One of them even turned lights off and just shook her head without even bothering to listen to us. Ouch.

 

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But not every visit went in vain! In fact most of the motels that we visited said yes to the soaps, stickers, and of course the cookies. This guy in the picture above even asked for prayer and gave a hug at the end! So overall, it was a successful night!

 

Now if you live in DFW and are thinking to get involved, you can donate to Rescue Her or sign up as a volunteer at Rescue Her website. Once you're through with the volunteer application process, you'll start receiving emails about the upcoming events and volunteering opportunities, Soap outreach being one of them (they're planning to do this every month). Reply the email to confirm your attendance. And, on an assigned Friday night, show up on time for the briefing!

 

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At this month's outreach, Brad Carignan was the one in charge to lead us because his wife and the founder of Rescue Her, Josie couldn't be there with us. He split us into two groups,  I went with him, Noah, and these awesome ladies, Hayley, Ashley, and Caren.

 

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Ashley reading the map and writing reports. Yes, you can take turns and stay in the car to write reports while the others talk to the motel owners. Next time, I will make efforts to go and talk to those motel owners/managers. While they're using language barrier as an excuse to ignore the fact that there are 100,000 girls being trafficked in the U.S every year (source : Rescue Her), I will ignore the fact I've still got language barrier to help them realize this sad statistic. Wish me luck! ;)

 

God Bless America

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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I still remember it like it was yesterday -- watching Home Alone 2 for the first time, getting blown away by the breathtaking view of the twinkling lights and the Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center. The snow, the beautiful buildings and houses (with basements! we do not have those back home!), the toys, and oh The Plaza Hotel! "Where is this place? I'd like to live there one day," I said to my little self. Countless of VHS 'Donut Man' videos (my mom got them for me on her international trips with dad) later, I became more and more aware of this place, this country, that's so far away from home yet seemed so amazing. A country called the U.S.of A.

Growing up in a Christ-loving home, I was fascinated by a country that's got "In God We Trust" written all over its money and whose presidents say "God bless America" at the end of their speeches. Those words seemed to resonate with my faith more than the religious phrases that the leaders of my home country usually say, which are mostly in Arabic. "It must be so nice to live in a country where most people believe in what you believe in," I thought.

Fast-forward to June 2014. After living in Indonesia for almost my whole life, I finally said goodbye to my motherland for America. For growth. For a fresh start (because I desperately needed one). For a better life.

Now I'm technically F.O.B (fresh off the boat), but I've lived abroad before so I'm no stranger to the 'liberality' of the western countries. However, it is important to keep in mind that during those years when I studied overseas, I was single! I wasn't trying to raise a family, therefore what I considered to be 'safe' and tolerable was different.

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Today, though my family and I are living in one of the states famously known as a part of the Bible Belt, the things I've seen on American media this past year have been very disturbing. It's not the fact that a lot of people are gay, bi, or trans or whatever that bothers me (even though seeing them being so highly celebrated here is still pretty weird, because back home, it's far from common). It's their business. And honestly, we are taught to love everyone. And I've been good friends with some of them back then. But it's the fact that it's 'safer' for a person to say "I'm gay" than to say "I'm a Christian" here nowadays that bothers and actually scares me sometimes.

Whatever happened to that country that I thought was the 'safe haven' for people of faith as a little kid?

On youtube comments, twitter, instagram comments, facebook status, magazine articles and even on TV, you can see people crying out for equality while labeling us people with religion (especially Christians) as haters of progress. The media do not say it out loud, but it seems like they are trying to stir people's opinion towards that direction as well.  Wait, we can't say Merry Christmas because it might offend an atheist, but you can hang a rainbow flag at the office and not being considered as 'forcing' your belief to others? How is that equal? Just sayin.

Well of course there are a lot of annoying Christians out there, I understand. But there are also a lot of us who are living the faith for real. And dismissing us from society because of all of the hypocrites you've met is like hating the gym because all of the out-of-shape people you see in there (got this quote from a meme I saw on instagram last year, pretty accurate right?).

Anyway, when it comes to quality of life, I'm not going to lie, my family and I are enjoying a way better one here. To be able to go to a decent library and to enjoy tons of activities for free, to stroll around a clean public park for free, to have facilities that accommodate us as parents like childcare at churches and gyms (in Indonesia, it's like everything encourages us to have maids and nannies, and that's not how I want to run my household) -- topped by a way better traffic (my hometown has the worst traffic in the world), 4 seasons (back home, it's summer all year), real good churches (when you have a family, you'd consider having a healthy community for your family to grow as a top priority, and am grateful that there are still plenty of churches that are real here despite the craziness we see on the media), and the fact that Mr. Man can have a work-life balance (he used to leave home at 7 a.m. and come back at 8 or 9 p.m., now he leaves at 8 a.m. and comes home at 4.30 or 5 p.m.!) -- I can say that we've reached our goal of getting a better life. And we truly believe that it's all a part of God's blessing.

I don't know what's coming, maybe people can wake up one day and claim that they are actually dogs trapped inside of a human body, and they'd like to legally marry actual dogs, then the celebrities might endorse that idea on social media and then the government might end up approving it - who knows? The possibilities are endless in this country.

But I know there's still hope. And I can still see myself raising a family here, standing for the God we believe in.

As for Indonesia, oh I will forever love it. In fact, I appreciate my home country more than ever now. Because at least, over there, we respect people with religious beliefs. I can wish my moslem friends a Happy Eid Mubarak and they can wish me a Merry Christmas - and no one will get offended (at least in my circle, I don't know about others). What's cool is that faith is legally recognized as a part of our identity there (we even have our religion written on our ID card), and I think the founding fathers of our nation really understood the importance of having a set of moral values and a belief based on something holier and greater than our crooked human self. And I am proud of my home country for that.

I just hope that these 'mean' Americans I see on the media can see that too one day. Or at least tolerate the idea and stop generalizing and even persecuting those of us with religious beliefs. And every time the leader of the nation says "God bless America", may it be a prayer that will still be answered.