Whether you’re a working mom or a SAHM, we all have one thing in common–preparing and storing food for our bubs. Every mom has their own time saving methods; be it using ice cube trays to freeze purees into food cubes OR storing purees into food pots. For this post let’s focus on food pots! [Read more...]
Do you have a back up plan? — Photo credit to Images by John K on Flickr
Question: When was the last time you backed up your personal & work files i.e. documents, photos, music, videos, etc?
The reality is, a lot of us don’t pay much attention to the importance of backing up. We keep hearing about hard disks crashing, or even worst, a computer being stolen.
The latter happened to my work computer last month. The team and I were in Egypt running our final show for the year, and unlucky for us the office got broken into and most computers were taken.
I had a back up. But it was on another colleague’s computer—which was also stolen (then I realised that’s not really a sound back up plan FML). For a second, I felt my heart crush. All my hard work, all my sweat and blood for the last 3.5 years, all my portfolio….down the drain. My heart was all over the place—angry at the thieves mostly but at the same time upset that all my stuff’s gone. I later was told that I have an alternative back up on a HDD, but it was only backed up in mid-September; which meant I still lost 2 months of work in progress. Damn you thieves! I hope you choke on a fishball and die a painful death!!!
Anyhoo, because of the break in we’ve learnt that back up is not only important; it is essential. Being in a service industry, our product being intangible—our intangible assets are what drives our business. We’ve learnt that as much trouble and hassle it is to back up, WE HAVE TO BACK UP.
Even with our own computers at home I strongly feel that we need to have some sort of system to back up our personal documents, photos, videos and music. Just imagine losing your graduation photos, your wedding photos, your family holiday photos, your firstborn’s photos? How sucky would that be?
Be it using an external HDD or and online backup service or even a simple file sharing service like Dropbox, find a backup solution that suits you. There will be some investment involved but it will be worth it considering the files you’re backing up are priceless.
P.S. are you backed up? Here’s an easy way to get started. Sign up for Dropbox and backup your documents for free!
As Zachary continues to grow in size (and weight), it’s getting quite challenging to carry him and keep him still. Poor David had an achey shoulder a couple of weeks ago from carrying the boy, and I’m also getting my fair share of sore arms too. This is where a baby sling / baby carrier comes in handy!
There are SO MANY choices to choose from in the market, you’ll be spoilt! From the ones that look like a backpack with shoulder straps, to huge X-shaped carriers to simple ring slings and cloth pouches—they all serve the same purpose—to help you ease the burden of carrying your little one around.
I was given a baby ring sling from my friend & make up artist extraordinaire (thanks Lee Kuen!) but I haven’t really figured out how to use it. It looked kinda big for Zack’s current size, so to start off my “baby wearing” journey I bought over Grace’s Pupsik pouch (thanks Grace!) which looked more fitted and to my surprise t’was really easy to use! *Hmm…I should also kick my butt and learn how to use the ring sling*
All baby carriers have their own unique features, so try them on (with your baby of course!) and see which one fits best! The baby sling was a great buy and is truly my arm’s lifesaver!
Some of the more popular baby slings and baby carriers are:
Baby Bjorn – A Swedish outfit producing baby carriers with lotsa designs and functionality. It’s available at most baby and mom specialty boutiques. I see a lot of manly men carrying this and it doesn’t make them look gay at all! LOL
Pupsik Studio – They make lovely pouches for the modern mom. Available in most Mothercare outlets in the Klang Valley
HANAMUGURI – This is the “X” shaped one. Available online from Ellymamashop & Mamayayazone. I’ve also seen it in Brands Outlet in Ikano Power Centre. Kinda too over-the-top in terms of design but it is one of the cheapest carriers in town. Not suitable for dads cos it’s kinda girly, IMHO.
SNUGGBaby – Proudly made in Ipoh, Malaysia, this baby carrier is super colourful and stylish. They make cloth pouches and ring slings too!
JumpSac – Awesome and funky ring slings, not for the faint hearted. I love the designs!
Ever cringe at the sight of fugly diaper bags that looked like they belonged in the 80s? You know – those mimicking Chanel’s quilt culture but imagine it on white and blue PVC materials that have bunny designs on them? Ever wished that you could transform your favourite large bag into a diaper bag? YES YOU CAN! Gone are the days when moms were confined to unfashionable diaper bags; thanks to the ingenious baby bag organizer!
There are many bag organizer manufacturers in the market but one which caught my eye is our locally bred bag label Gin & Jacqie. I purchased their bag organizer simply named Organize Jo to go with my fairly large duffle bag that has lil cute popsicles and ice cream cones on it (yes, cuteness is a factor I considered when buying this bag). The bag organizer is fantabulous only because it helps to keep things in place where you want it to be. The Organize Jo holds A LOT of items, in fact up to 6 bottles if you needed to (but that means the pockets can’t house other baby stuff lah).
Me with my baby bag and my…baby?
Organize Jo has helped me store neatly 3 bottles, baby wipes / mouth & hand wipes / pacifier wipes, diapers, creams / lotions / hand sanitizer / antiseptic spray, pacifier, milk powder dispenser, changing mat, extra clothes for baby, hankies, blanket AND even his favourite toy! Made of durable canvas fabric, you can easily switch diaper bags if you wanted to—just simply remove the bag organizer and place it into the other bag. I thank God for the genius who thought of this ‘cos I can now transform virtually any large bag into a diaper bag whoopee-doo! Now if only I had other large bags to begin with …. dot dot dot …
There are also handbag organizers in the market, regardless if you’re a mom or not. I for one swear by my handbag organizer. Most women would have I have a couple of bags to rotate for work and leisure, and being really anal about keeping things in order, I cannot ever live with messed up contents in a bag. The best part is, changing bags is a breeze—no more forgotten pocket mirrors in one bag, lip balm in another, hair clips in the other (you get the drift…)
Both bag organizers are truly a lifesaver if you’re as anal as I am!
Where to buy?
Organize Jo can be purchased online from Gin & Jacqie for RM 59
I bought my bag organizer at the Curve flea market 2 years ago for RM 30; however, I found a few blogshops which are selling them online, with a variety of designs/materials/shape/sizes/function too. Check them out here:
Gin & Jacqie (from RM 44)
Cosway (from RM 19.90)
Lugmax (from RM 23)
Mum & Daughter (from RM 29)
Tidy & Neat (no price listed, email to enquire)
Shopaholic (from RM 30)
Get yourself organized today will ya?
Even before baby arrived, my family has had a digital thermometer for the longest time. We’d use it to check our temperature when we’re having a bout of fever, and very often use the readings to decide if it is finally time to go see the doctor. The last time we had an old skool glass thermometer was probably yonks ago when Boyzone was still popular. As I was doing my shopping list for Zachary, I insisted that we got another digital ear thermometer meant for infants and children.
With the number of immunizations and vaccinations a baby has to go through in his first year, there are chances of a fever brewing after the jabs—that’s when the thermometer comes into good use! You’ll know when to feed him some meds, and you’ll also be able to monitor if the fever has receded. Being a worrier (I worry when he has booger stuck in his nose too ok!!) this is certainly a lifesaver!
There are many brands of child ear thermometers out there. We weren’t brand specific as we got our Omron Ear Thermometer “free” via credit card points’ redemption. I only know of two banks offering this in their redemption catalogue:
Maybank – requiring 33,000 points
EON Bank – requiring 29,500 points
Certainly a great buy! (In this case a great gift redemption!)
Having a baby is life changing. It is also overwhelming and scary at times. And very often, every little change in baby (be it a rash, his growth, feeding/sleeping/poop times, behaviour, etc) may make us first time parents a little bit more sensitive to whether the baby’s doing okay.
Being someone who loves structure, guidance and reference, during my pregnancy my friend Grace loaned me her “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. I loved how the content was presented, taking me step by step through every week of baby’s development in the womb, and packed full with answers to typical questions every anxious mother to be has. Having had a good experience with that book, I decided to purchase another book in the What to Expect range simply titled “What to Expect The First Year”.
This book aims to help new parents who are transitioning into this new role; wondering how to cope, if the baby’s growth is normal; why he’s crying; what if baby’s sick; why he won’t sleep; etc etc etc. With this book I found the structure well laid, taking me step by step through the 1st month until he turns 1. It covers a great range of issues and provides information including immunisation, safety, childhood illnesses and tracking milestones.
I know not every new mom would be crazy about reading a book amidst the chaos of taking care of a newborn. However, what I found most useful in this book is that its information is compact and thorough at the same time; and being a worry wart myself this book has helped answer a lot of questions, without having me to ask the pediatrician in between his check-up visits. I’ve also realised that a lot of the times I worry for no reason when I come to know that what Zack is having (whether its acne on his face or white bumps on his gums) is perfectly normal in the development and growth of a baby.
I’d definitely suggest every new mom to purchase a childcare reference book, not neccesarily this one that I’m reading…ONLY because you’ll save yourself from worrying all the time! It is also good to know why baby’s do what they do and have something to benchmark against. IMHO definitely a lifesaver!
This book that I bought is 2nd hand and also purchased from Baby Barn Items (where I bought my changing table). Most major bookstores should have this in stock!
I hope this isn’t the beginning of me becoming a mom-zilla but I thought this would be a great series to help new moms prepare for their first child. As I move along my journey as a new mother, I would like to document and share some best buys on what new parents could consider including in their shopping list before the stork arrives. This guide is by no means to be taken as a “must-buy” check list; rather use the information here (be it reviews & experience sharing) on why these items made my essentials list (and potentially yours!)
First on my list is something that I never considered buying until the very last minute before I delivered my baby. In fact, it was another new mom who hadn’t thought of buying it and decided during confinement that she needed it, stat! When she told me about why I would need a changing table, I was sold just on that one reason – backache!
Instead of buying a brand new one, I looked up my favourite bargain blogshop to see if they had some in stock. I was in luck and I purchased a used MyDear changing table for only RM 120! Great value considering a brand new one is selling at RM 299.90! It was missing a bathtub (which I didn’t need, anyway) but everything else was in good condition. Just needed a good wipe down with wet wipes and my trusty Dettol.
Indeed this was a good buy because when I tried changing him on our bed, wahlau-eh, serious backache after! Even David was feeling achey, it wasn’t just me! A real lifesaver!
I first heard about cloth diapers from eco-loving-mom Leona who has been cloth diapering her son Josiah as soon as he could fit in them diapers. I was keen on trying these cloth diapers out too, hoping for an alternative to the traditional cotton lampin and the much loved disposable diapers. Finally, Zack has grown big enough to fit into the cloth diapers I bought him in the final weeks of my pregnancy.
After using it for about a week, I began to understand the obsession some moms have with these diapers:
- They are easy to use, just like fastening a disposable diaper
- They are easy to wash and quick to dry
- They come in many cute designs and endless colour choices
For the baby:
- It remains dry even after a few wettings (I kept them on for up to 3 hours)
- Comparatively more comfortable than lampin and requires less changing between wettings
- It is kind on the skin
- It’s a fashion statement
Once I started doing research on cloth diapers, little did I know that there are so many brands and makers of cloth diapers! Priced between RM 25 to over RM 100, I decided to try out the more affordable range of cloth diapers. I got 12 sets (with soakers) to begin with, and technically I could go 2 whole days with these (however, we’re still using disposables at night).
The Kasihku Sayangku diapers were the most expensive of the lot, priced at RM 55/each. Sunny Baby cost me RM 30/each and the cheapest in the market so far is Coolababy (selling at RM 25/each). I got 3 from Kasihku Sayangku, 3 from Sunny Baby and the rest from Coolababy to start my cloth-diapering journey. Price difference aside, all 3 brands have similar quality in the material, and performance. Oh, I did notice that the Kasihku Sayangku diapers had a larger cutting compared to Sunny Baby and Coolababy; so I’m keeping them until he can fit them more perfectly.
Although the initial investment may seem like a lot (RM405 in total for my 12 sets) but the long term savings makes great ROI sense. I’m still sticking to Mamy Poko for outings and night time (cos I’m practical like that) but the spending on disposables will definitely be at its minimum with our combination (disposable + reusable) diapering practice.
What about nappy rash you might ask? Zack has never experienced any form of nappy rash with disposables, lampin or cloth diapers…yet. Maybe its the amazing Bepanthen ointment or maybe it’s just a great combination of mixed diapering. I try to alternate lampin with the cloth diapers during the day so his skin isn’t subject to hours of being wrapped up in the warm enclosure of the cloth diaper. As much as the fleece material remains dry at all times, inevitably we live in a hot and humid country so it makes good sense to alternate between the two to allow his skin to breathe a little.
If you’re keen on cloth diapering for your baby, you can buy the cloth diapers I mentioned above from the following e-shops!
Making a baby doesn’t cost much. It may involve a romantic dinner for two, a bottle of bubbly, a hotel room (for those who don’t want to clean up after a night of messing with chocolate sauce *ahem*) and perhaps even a smokin’ lacey piece of babydoll lingerie. The woman’s egg and the man’s sperm is God-given, so no need to take out your credit card for that purchase; and timing the conception is probably 10% luck, 20% math and 70% God’s work. Still, not much moolah involved in making a baby.
Then, the creepy sounds of the “ka-ching!” begins. First you purchase that cutting edge digital pregnancy test kit (correction, you purchase TWO of those to be double sure). After that, the first consultation with the obgyn commences. I reviewed my receipts from all my check-ups & shopping for baby and boy oh boy–the cost of having a baby begins as soon as that pregnancy test kit says “pregnant”.
Here’s a summary:
- 10 consultations with the obgyn – RM 1,409.05
- Vitamins and supplements – RM 400.00
- Ante-natal class – RM 350.00
- Shopping for baby’s bare necessities – RM 3,670.42
Ka-ching! RM 5,829.47 spent before baby’s arrival.
Then, there’s the cost of delivering baby:
- Cost of delivery with epidural – RM 4,420.75
- Nursery fees – RM 672.75
Ka-ching! RM 5,093.50 spent on baby’s arrival
Now that baby is here, the investments that’s to come would include:
- Insurance & medical plans
- Vaccinations & doctor’s visits
- Diapering, feeding, toiletries, clothing, toys and the list goes on and on and on and on (insert ∞ here)
Simple math shows that having a baby is going to burn a hole in your pocket, but that said, having our lil’ boy brings so much joy to us–it’s something that any sum of money can’t buy. So honey, we’ll just have to be smarter with our spending and savings!
Photo credit – American Dollar 2 by thinkpanama on Flickr
How does one define how rich one is? Some measure with the amount of cash you have, others measure by number of tangible assets or what investments are in your basket, and a certain few may judge based on your personal outlook (from the car you drive to the clothes you wear).
Our society also has a very predictable mindset at how happy you could be if you are rich. Just last week I was following a discussion over the radio, the DJs asked listeners what they’d do if they were suddenly handed RM 1,000,000 cash. Without much surprise, typical answers were:
- buy a big house
- go for a holiday
- purchase a luxury car
- quit working
Looking at the answers, we can’t help but dream about spending that RM 1 million, or taking that much awaited Safari retreat in Africa, or just plain resigning from that daily grind called “the job”. But what is real wealth? Is that RM 1 million really going to sustain you until the day you leave Earth? Does the measure of richness in the form of assets owned really define your status of wealth? If you drive a Ferrari it means you’re probably pretty high society?
First of all, we have to move away from the traditional mindset of what wealth really is. Yes, inevitably we need to have some form of income to live our lives, to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes to cover ourselves. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t aim to advance in our careers, or attempt to look for ways to make more money. The problem is, we become greedy, and we want more. The main reason for this happening is, WE KEEP COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS’ WEALTH. Greed in turn means that we are never satisfied with what we have, what enough is and when it is enough!
Last year David bought a book by Ramit Sethi, simply titled “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”. It’s a no-nonsense, straight-in-your-face personal finance book. Honestly, I was quite put off by the title of the book, thinking, “Hey, another get-rich-quick-type-of-book”. To my surprise, Ramit helped me re-align my definition of wealth, and re-organised the way I looked at being rich. Of course, there were some parts of the book that were very US-centric (i.e. taxes, investments) but the rest of the topics discussed are very relevant, regardless if you’re in Timbuktu. Using the book as a guide, I had re-constructed my personal finances (streamlining credit cards & bank accounts, decided on investment choices, and revamped my spending budget); I could see clearly what being rich is to me.
So here’s my definition of wealth:
- Be in as little debt as possible – no credit card debts (yahoo!), really short hire-purchase loan terms (i.e. 5 years rather than 10 years), and flexible home loan terms (loans that allow you to reduce the % interest charged based on a reduction in amount owing)
- Ability to save 20% of income every month without feeling like you don’t have enough spending money (i.e. you are not reducing your lifestyle to zero). I have an allotted amount of guilt free spending money which I use for shopping, food and entertainment, and really spending it without guilt!
- Invest 10% of income every month automatically for long term returns.
- Pay my income tax yearly, responsibly.
- Review and minimise commitments and eliminate the unnecessary (i.e. review Astro packages, mobile phone plans)
I know I am rich when I can live comfortably without worrying about needing to make more money to maintain the lifestyle I’ve chosen; or indulging in yearly holidays without having to sacrifice something else for it. I know I am rich when I have the minimum amount of debt I’m in (so why dream of having a big house or drive a big car when I can be debt free quicker with what I have now … see the point of having just enough?). I know I’m rich when over the years I’ve extra income that I can grow my investments or save even more!
When we take away our greed factor, take away the comparing attitude, and take away the mentality that wealth means having everything big and great, you’ll find that you enjoy living your life more comfortably and you’re happier with what you have. We need to find that sweet spot of being contented and having enough. We’ll never be rich if we keep growing our commitments every time we have extra income—instead of improving our well being we’re putting ourselves in more debt! So if I had RM 1 million handed to me, I’d go on a holiday, and invest the rest of the money. ‘Nuff said.
P/S: I also enjoyed reading this article, which talks about how money was once the currency of a successful life, wealth is increasingly being measured in connection, sustainability and happiness. Read more about “Finding The Way To A Meaningful Life“