A Greater Cause


Some of you might have already known hahanoyume 母の夢, is Japanese for Mother’s Dream. It was my dream to be the primary caregiver to my baby girl. My dream to grow the business above and beyond. My dream to be able to contribute to a greater cause.

I have always had a calling towards children who is in need – be it in education, basic livelihood, and health. No child deserves to suffer through any life threatening disease, or be refused their basic right to education and clean food and water. Which is why a portion of our sales goes to World Vision who provides mainly for children and families living under poverty. 

But I would like to do more. I would like to reach out to the urban poor and the sick. The child whose parents couldn’t afford to get them books or basic school supplies for they don’t have enough to go by each day. I believe that education itself is able to lift a generation out of poverty. Or even the sick child who’s living long days in the hospital. Happy books will definitely cheer them up, don’t you agree?

So I would like to do just that – BLESS a different child EACH MONTH with US$50 worth of books and basic aid. And I’ll need YOUR help to point me to the right deserving child.

I know US$50 is not a lot of money, but it is what I can afford to give at this juncture. And I’m confident this amount will only grow in time to come.

So PLEASE. Please NOMINATE a child whom you think deserves this help by emailing me your story about this child. And do help me share the cause to your friends by sharing this post on your social media. I hope to be able to bless as many children possible every single month. All around the world.

Remember. Please email me your story to hahanoyume@gmail.com

Thank you all so much for your help ❤️

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A look at the rear view mirror

It’s been a long while since I last penned anything on the blog. Way too long. For some of you who’ve been following the blog since the very beginning, you would know that I first started out the business with 2 other partners, but have since gone solo since December last year. And I’ve been swamped ever since, managing the business on my own, on top of juggling the tasks of taking care of my now 2 years old daughter. How she has grown. Just today, a random customer called me on my mobile, asking if I’m Meredith’s mom, and that she wanted to place an order over the phone. Now, that’s a whole new level of branding altogether, when customers remember the baby boss’ name instead of the actual boss! Who am I kidding. She’s definitely the BOSS. LOL.

So, how has it been for us since I last wrote? Our very humble business has since managed to reach customers in many parts of the world, including Guam and Venezuela. It’s such an honor and blessing to have so many moms out there who believed in our brand and have faith in what we do. Made lots of new friends along the way, working on two different time zones resulting in a very sleep-deprived me. But it’s all so worth it! I love that I’m able to place a pin on the world map for all the different cities I’ve sent our apparels to. And I’m eternally grateful to our brand enthusiasts and reps (and their ever so talented photographer-moms) who gave us such wonderful, gorgeous photos. These children are born to be in front of the camera, I must say!

Speaking of pinning on the world map, another catalyst to achieving part of that is our partnership with Pinkoi (I like to refer them as the Asian version of Etsy, but a friendlier and more supportive platform for budding designer/ entrepreneurs like myself). Thanks to Pinkoi, or rather, thanks to the ever so efficient and supportive account manager, Raffi, my brand has reached the shores of Taiwan and Hong Kong, something I couldn’t have achieved on my own, not this soon that’s for sure. On their kind invitation, we participated in their trade fairs in Taipei and Kowloon back in June and October this year. It was my first visit to Taiwan, my third to Hong Kong. At the Taiwan fair, it was unfortunate that it rained almost the entire time the fair was open. BUT! The Taiwanese didn’t allow the heavy rain deter them from their shopping! They came in their ponchos, wellies and umbrellas (some even came with their babies, all tucked in their rain-proof strollers!) to shop at the fair! Wouldn’t have known this if I wasn’t there to see it for myself. An eye-opening experience indeed. As for Hong Kong, to say that the turnout was great is an understatement. I ran out of my entire 200 pieces of business cards within 3 hours! Never have I sold out all my stocks in one single weekend! They were literally queuing to enter the event space, even 30 minutes to closing time! The marketing team in Pinkoi did such a great job promoting for both events, I’m so grateful and privileged to be invited to both events, to not only introduce my brand, but to also learn and experience the different cultures of both cities. Keeping fingers crossed that we will be invited for more international fairs next year!

pinkoimajorie
Here’s M earning her keep at the Hong Kong Pinkoi Fair, being the sole representative from Malaysia 🙂

Back at the home front. We turned down an opportunity to list our products in a major departmental store (in both Malaysia and Singapore) as it wasn’t financially viable for us, although it would have given us a major brand lift. Unfortunately, we are not a mass producer, we do not have big margins to buffer against high retail margins, not forgetting other overhead and incidental costs. We will just have to continue to chug along and work out of our small and humble abode for the time being. On another note, we were honored that MamyPoko chose our kimono rompers to be part of their giveaway contest (in both Malaysia and Singapore), Japan Fiesta 2016 for their premium diaper range, Air Fit. Contest ends 30 November, so head on over to your nearest supermarkets or click here for more info. Can you spot 9-months old Lil M in the video promo?

We will be launching a new design next month, so do look for it! Just a little hint, it’s a playful twist of our existing kimono romper, catering for active, inquisitive toddlers. Sign up for our newsletter to get first hand updates on the new launch as well as a discount code for your purchase.

Now that we are nearing the end of 2016, what’s next for us? I would love to join more international trade fairs/ pop-up markets in 2017. If you have any suggestions, do let me know! And we are always on the lookout for international resellers. If you’re interested, or if you know of anyone who is, please drop me an email at hahanoyume@gmail.com. Till then, hope to write again real soon!

p/s. Some of you may have already know that my daughter was recently hospitalized for 5 days after being diagnosed with Kawasaki disease. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts, she is doing ok, discharged last Sunday. She’s on aspirin, 4 times daily now, and is scheduled for an echo scan next Wednesday to have her heart checked. Will update her progress in a separate post, if time permits.

p/s/s We are also having a Buy-1-Get-1-Free sale over at our store, sale ending this Sunday.

A brand new year

Gosh, time certainly flies! It’s been close to 9 months since hahanoyume was on the drawing board when the lil missy was only 6 months old. She’s now 15 months old and how she has grown! She was the body model for our kimono rompers (which explains the larger cut! Coz she was chubbehhh) and now she could hardly fit in them anymore. Which is sad coz I love those rompers so much. Soooo…. I’d decided to make them in larger sizes (12-18 months) just so that she can wear them! Yea, it’s a perk to have your own baby clothing line, just so that you can dress your lil ones up. Hehe. So yes, to many moms out there who requested for larger sizes, your wish came true! We are launching the 12-18 mo rompers middle of Jan, so stay tuned 🙂

2015, how shall I put it simply, was a roller coaster year for me. Lots of ups and downs, some lull, but I suppose, mostly ups if I were to put it in a more positive perspective. I’ve learnt so much, having no background in baby fashion, or even social media marketing for that matter. But I’m glad I took this path as it’s fun to learn new things, venture into the great unknown, and discover strengths and talents that i never knew I ever had. LOL. I now know I can survive with so little sleep (sometimes less than 5 hours even) as the only time I get to work is when the lil one is in bed. At 10pm. And I’ll work till it’s past lunch hour in NYC. So many things to do, so little time. But I like it, the adrenaline rush that I get from having so much going on in my head and getting things done in the way I visualized it to be. Never knew I had creative juices going on in there until I’m actually doing it. Loved arranging photographs together in our maiden catalogue, enjoyed designing posters for our social media pages. Well, doesn’t rake in as much dough as when I was in the bank, but hey, at least I’m enjoying what I do right? That’s putting it in a positive perspective alright. LOL

And now that I’m left alone to run the show (oh yea, forgot to mention that F and S have decided to spend more time with their families, hence are no longer in the business), it can be quite daunting at first (I’m a techie idiot!), but survival skills kicked in the very next day and I had to pull myself together and just continue the marathon. Slow and steady wins the race, they say. Well steady yes, not too slow, I’d say. The world is ever changing and competition is rife. Consumers are getting wiser by the minute. They expect perfection. And that is what we strive to offer. In the quality of our fabric, to how we wrap and box our kimonos. The speed we deliver the boxed kimonos to how fast we reply customers’ queries. I even posted the certificates of origin of our fabrics on our website as I believe in not breaching our customers’ trust in us. 

So, what lies ahead for us in 2016. Plenty. We wil be rolling out new designs middle of this month, with bigger sizes for rompers (12-18 mo) and tops & dress (3-4 yo). We want to also be in Penang (so that our loyal northern customers can shop for their kimonos there), so do let us know if there are any retailers in Penang which you think will be perfect to carry our apparels. There’re also plans to enter into a major departmental store in KL, still rather premature at this stage, keeping fingers crossed! We are also looking at venturing down south, now that’s a totally new chapter altogether 😉

Last but not least, we are also on the lookout for brand reps and enthusiasts on Instagram. Do head over to our account @hahanoyume for details 🙂

Till our next post, wishing all a very Happy New Year! Yoi otoshi o!  よいお年を!xoxo

  

Depression – what’s it like?

The recent news of a mother jumping to her death 10 days after her delivery shocked many mothers, bringing back memories of our own journey as new mums. Many have blogged about it, or shared about their own experience on social media. 

I personally have experienced what they called “baby blues” in the second month, postpartum. I don’t think I was depressed (coz I know what it actually feels like being depressed, but we will get there soon enough), but I was definitely resenting the very situation I was in. The total lack of sleep (as the baby was up every 1 hour, and it took another 45 mins to put her back to sleep), the “shortage” of breastmilk (or so I thought) with the constant negative input from the elders, the witching hours when baby would cry for no reason (not convinced it’s colic, as gripe water solved the problem in the end, after 3 weeks). I remember leaving the baby to cry in her cot after yelling at her to stop crying, shut her room door and went to our bedroom and shut the door as well. And screamed. And cried. And cursed. And hit myself. I needed to feel the physical pain as I was numbed from all the regret of having a baby. The life that I thought I’d lost. No more sleep-ins. No more traveling the world. No one told me about how hard it was going to be. The books I bought didn’t warn me about postnatal remorse. I didn’t sign up to be a demented mother resenting her own child. I went back to her room after one hour. And she was still crying. But she stopped eventually. And I stopped resenting eventually too. 

I suppose I had it easy. I was the lucky one I guess. Some mothers had it much worse. Probably lack of spousal support. Or too much negativity going on around her with family members spewing accusations that she’s not doing enough. That she’s just acting up. That she’s just being a drama queen. And it takes just one trigger to flip the switch. And she breaks. 

But you see, postnatal depression is not the main culprit here. The people surrounding the patients are. There are so many people out there suffering from depression, the colleague sitting across you. The lady who serves your coffee at your favorite coffee joint. The cab driver. The person sleeping next to you. And because you never bother to read up about depression and learn to pick up the signs, you’ll never know what to look out for in a person suffering from depression, and help that person heal. 

I suffered from depression back in my late-20s. I was stuck in a job I hated, the boss was sexually harassing me, and I couldn’t leave the job until I found another one (needed to support my family, don’t have a dad, remember?). So I cried every single day. For close to 6 months until I got a new job to move on to. The crying stopped. I should be feeling fine by now, but I wasn’t. I was perpetually shrouded in a “dark cloud”, looking fine on the outside, but feeling miserable on the inside. It was torturous to attend social events, even a small friends gathering would tear me inside as I dread meeting and hanging out with people. I would cry in the showers for no reason. I would hit myself just to feel something. I would wish to just disappear from the face of the earth. Imagining myself getting hit by the bus. Imagining slitting my wrists. Pondering over the bottle of sleeping pills at the pharmacy. But the next day, I’ll just pick myself up, and get ready for work. Did pretty well at work actually, bosses thought I was a very hardworking and commited employee, staying back during lunch hours to work instead of going out with colleagues. I needed to complete my work, that was my excuse. Yea, good excuse really. Met my KPIs, bosses real pleased. But no one knew the real reason. I was suffering. I needed to be on my own. 

But I knew myself better. This couldn’t be right. I can be picky with people, whom I hang out with and befriend. But there’s no way I can feel so low all the time, day and night, wishing to disappear. So I read. A lot. I researched on the web and read all I can about what I was going through. And I went to see a doctor and told him about my own prognosis. “Doctor, I think I have depression”. He agreed and prescribed me Paxil, a type of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) to manage my condition. 

It didn’t work immediately of course. It took time, and for a long while, I didn’t have any feelings at all.  I didn’t feel low anymore, neither do I feel excited or happy. I just felt flat. Like meh. Like whatever. But after a couple of months later, I started to function normally again. I didn’t feel like quitting life anymore. I could even joke with my mum and call my meds my “crazy pill”. My then boyfriend (who’s my husband now), didn’t know anything at all about depression. He didn’t read up about it nor made any effort to. I was the one who had to educate him about the illness. Thank God he listened and trusted what I told him (I mean, I could have been bullshitting him, and he would just believe me). And with the info I gave him, he stood by me and was patient with me on my road to recovery. A rather long road. Close to 7 years actually. Yea, depression don’t just leave you in a jiffy after you take your meds. It’s not the common cold, you know. LOL.

And I decided one day to stop the meds myself. Let’s try to do this, I told myself. Well, I failed. I went back on meds. But I never gave up on my hope to be meds-free. You know why? Because i want to rid my system of these horrid chemicals. Paxil causes complications for pregnant women, including the risk of serious birth defects. I may not have decided that I wanted children at that point (I was already married by then), but it takes 1 whole year to fully get rid of the poison from your bloodstream. So I had to do this for my future child (we decided to try for a baby 1.5 years after I was “clean”). And in those 7 years, no one knew. Bosses didn’t know. Colleagues and friends didn’t know. Why? Coz it was a taboo. What if they think you’re mentally incompetent for your job? How do you progress in your career? You must have had the devil in you which made one go “mad”. Or not praying enough which was why one is sick. It’s just hormonal imbalance, dear people of “faith”. Of course, I prayed. I prayed for a faster recovery. But just because recovery didn’t come sooner, it does not make me a person of lesser faith. 

Well, the moral of the story? Read up about the illness folks. It’s not so much a taboo these days thanks to the advent of social media. Everyone’s got their own struggles, so stop being judgmental and presumptuous. Don’t be a hypocrite and jump the gun accusing another person having a weaker faith. Shame on you. 

It’s a medical condition. Be aware of the symptoms and be there for the patient. Doesn’t matter what’s the trigger point. What matters is your continuous support and understanding, and your walk with the patient, no matter how long and arduous the walk is. 

And to all new mothers out there, you’re doing a great job by the very fact that you carried your child in your womb for close to 9 months, go through physical and emotional changes, caring for your child till this very day. Sleep or no sleep, we soldier on! Supermoms ftw! xoxo

Mothers and Daughters

There were 2 tear-jerking videos that I watched just recently, which reminded me of my mum, and how it was like when I was younger.

One was about how a mother, a street vendor, taught her daughter how to sell frozen pineapples in the market.  And the other, was about how another mother, also a street vendor, encourages her young daughter to always try and never give up in anything that she sets her mind to. Both mothers, despite their shortcomings, gave the best gift any child could ask for. Their time and attention. Both daughters learnt perseverance through their mothers’ encouragement. To never give up. Something that the most expensive schools can never teach.

I didn’t come from a well to do family, heck, I came from a broken family. I used to be ashamed about it. Angry. Bitter. But no longer. I look back at my past, and I think it’s safe to say I did pretty well for a kid from a broken home. I’m sure my late mom would be uber proud too, she is probably beaming with joy from the heavens above that both her children turned out to be well adjusted individuals.

I have to be honest here. There are days when I’m filled with self doubt, whether I made the right decision to quit my banking career and forego my paycheck. Many said it was a foolish move, that I was being silly. We were so comfortable back then, not having to worry about money. Now, I have to go back to being frugal, something not alien to me of course as I’ve been there before, trust me. Balance transfer from one credit card to another, just to get the zero interest installment plans, as I slowly, but surely, settle my credit card debts arising from my late mom’s medical bills (she had cancer, and no insurance cover). Despite my financial difficulties back then, I made it a point to continue my children sponsoring program under World Vision. Instead of tithing to the church, I gave my 10 percent to them, as I believed that there are children out there who are more in dire need of financial support than I was. I just had to cut back on everything else, that’s all. Nothing much to it, really.

But you see, although I’ve been there, doesn’t mean I want to go back there, if you know what I mean. But as I write this post, it occurred to me that sometimes life throws you a curve ball just to make you stay grounded. To not forget my roots. Not to say that I have forgotten my roots, but I guess it’s just a way to go back to basics. Live the simple life, once in a while. Bake your own cake, for example. Make your own noodles! Grow your own chilies 🙂

Whenever I’m in my lows, I worry about my child’s education fund. A little too soon, you say? Well, I have friends who sends their toddlers to playschools which cost several grand a semester! Not saying that I envy them, ’cause I’m not. I’m glad that I have a chance to spend almost every waking (and sleeping!) hour with my daughter, as I get to home-school her and teach her the values that I want her to grow up with (just yesterday, I taught her how to throw her own dirty diaper into the bin!). Like how my mom did for me and my brother. I was privileged to have my mom with me 24/7 till I was 17, before the big s*** happened. We weren’t well to do before that, but we made do with whatever that we could afford. I was a little entrepreneur back in school, from selling trinkets, sandwiches, and books, to giving out taekwondo lessons and maths tutorial when I was in high school. We didn’t get expensive toys or eat-outs. We ate at home, and we cherished meal times when we would tell our mom stories about school, not forgetting complaining to her about each other. Simple meals, but best bonding times ever. She never put us down, nor doubt our efforts. She always encourages us to try new things, to venture out to the unknown. To be independent. To keep on fighting. Probably that’s one of the reasons why my brother and I have this enterprising spirit in us. And due to our family circumstances, we have the fighting spirit too. A raging one. And I will share stories of my mum with my little girl, that she will come to know her too 🙂

Wonder whether does my lil' one look like me? Hmm..
Wonder whether does my lil’ one look like me? Hmm..
So, whenever I feel bad, I remind myself that, hey, if I was able to build myself from nothing (no inheritance, no monetary support from parents, no overseas education) then, why can’t I do it all over again now? If I was able to be the top performer in the bank despite the economic slowdown, why can’t I pull off another similar stunt now? Different scene, but same spirit. Same roots. Besides, I have my husband by my side to make it work together. Side by side. Not forgetting my fellow strong women, Fiona and Sue, we will make it happen, yes? 🙂

Which was why I made it a point to make a clear statement on our website that we want to give back to the society. To stay grounded. To remember our roots. And because children hold a special place in our hearts, we picked Shelter Home and Dignity for Children. And not forgetting fellow mothers too. We are working with an elderly mother (she’s an ex-nurse, half paralyzed, relying on her pensions) who will be sewing baby blankets for us, and profits will be shared equally. This is one way of helping her sustain her livelihood and to allow her to live out her passion, which is sewing. In the near future, when our company cash flow improves, we will want to work with single mothers group (or even stay-at-home mothers) to engage them in sewing hand-made products as well. My dream and vision is to be able to empower all mothers to make a decent living for themselves, and provide for their children. It’s not shameful to be a single mother, nor it is a shame to come from a broken home. It’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to be able to know what it is like, and to be able to come out of it, and help others come out of it too. This is humanity 🙂

p/s. Was chatting with Angie, the strong lady behind Moms4Project (check her FB page for more info) about what my blog is about, that I should consider, perhaps, write about more current issues affecting moms and families in general. What do you guys think? What do you want me to write about, apart from my on-and-off musings about my baby and the business. I love to travel though (traveled so much before, till we went cold turkey after we had M!), so perhaps I should write about that? Any suggestions? 🙂

Babies are the most wonderful gifts ever

My baby turned one today. Oh, how time flies! It didn’t feel like it has been 12 months already, but she has since grown so much. Apart from the obvious size growth, it’s amazing how much this little human being can achieve in her milestones, sometimes a matter of just overnight! I’ve learnt that when she’s particularly fussy and clingy, and having frequent waking intervals at night, her little brain and body is preparing her (and us!) for a new skill and ability. And then, the fussy phase will pass, leaving us room to enjoy her new found ability, be it standing or dancing, or even calling mama (well, in her case, it’s meh). Before you know it, the cycle repeats itself again, with another bout of sleepless nights (for the mum, of course).

Babies are just the cutest lil’ things. They really are. And you can never turn back time to when they were tiny again. It felt like it was just yesterday when we took this picture of her in our kimono romper, Maru (it was taken back when she was 10 months old):

Lil' Maru Ann
Lil’ Maru Ann. Pic by Lee Tze Leong

Which is why, at times when she’s a handful to handle, I tell myself, this will not last. Before I know it, she will be old enough to drive!

Don't drink (milk) and drive, lil' missy!
Don’t drink (milk) and drive, lil’ missy!

I guess it’s because of this very fact (that they’re grow up so fast!), most mums will make every effort to capture moments of their baby(ies) growing up, be it still shots or videos, whenever they possibly can. Heck, my iPhone memory ran out of space long time ago, till I had to save the photos into Dropbox and Google Drive, which also has since ran out of space too! So now, it’s a 1.3TB external hard drive. Gosh.

Was at my nephew’s 100 days old party last weekend. This lil tike weighs a hefty 7kg at 3 months! Just look at ’em cheeks! OMG. And when I hold him in my arms, I reminisce back to the time when M was just as tiny as him (although not nearly as heavy as him!)

Check out 'em cheeks!
Check out ’em cheeks! Pic by KeanPoh Photography

Babies. They are just the best thing to hold on to and cuddle (if they let you). And recently, we had 2 newborn babies photoshoot (credits to bluecicada photography) wearing our hahanoyume baby kimono rompers. I decided that a video montage complete with a Japanese haiku, A Star Festival Song, is befitting the beautiful photographs. Enjoy the video! And do leave us a review, a like or even share the video with your family and friends!

Bamboo Leaves are Rustling

笹の葉 さらさら
軒端にゆれる
お星様 キラキラ
金銀砂子

五紙器の短冊
私が書いた
お星様キラキラ
空から見てる

Bamboo leaves are rustling, rustling,
Swaying close to the roof’s edge,
Oh, how the stars are twinkling, twinkling,
Gold and silver grains of sand.

Five wishes
I have written
The stars are twinkling
And watching from the sky.

To my dearest chunky munkey. I would give you all the stars in the sky if I could. But you gave me the universe. You’re the best present any mum can ask for. Happy birthday, my precious.

To have or not to have

Most of my high school friends who are married, are now mothers of 2 (at the very least), with the eldest either attending kindie, or are already in primary school. I think I’m one of the late comers, having a child when I was in my mid-30s. And it was by choice. 

6 months before I turned 35, I had a very objective talk with my husband about whether we should embark on parenthood. Both of us were perfectly happy and contented with our lifestyle. Care-free, able to just pack our bags and travel whenever and wherever we want to. We would lose our freedom, both time and finances. Whatever time we have will have to go to the baby. What we earn will have to go to the baby. Basically, our whole entire life itself!  Parenthood scared the sh** out of both of us. And not forgetting my career. How to climb corporate ladder with me being away on 3-months maternity leave, and having to take emergency leaves whenever the baby is unwell. How to stay and work late hours when you have a baby waiting for you at home? I struggled with my own selfish needs and aspirations. 

But then, I told my husband K, as a matter-of-fact kind of way, that I wouldn’t want to die regretting not having tried for a baby. Not knowing what it’s like being a mum. Yea, simple as that. I don’t want to leave this world remorseful, with regrets. And because I was at my mid-30s, being married for close to 4 years without any “accidents” (if you know what I mean 😉), we gave ourselves 6-months to conceive, starting from 31 Dec 2013 (the talk took place in mid-2013). If nothing happens by end of 6 months, we will just call it a day. It’s fated that we will not be parents. Straight-to-the-point kind of decision. 

So we went about our usual routine during the rest of 2013, and we went on our annual pilgrimage to Bangkok in end December to visit my uncle and his family (my late mum was a Thai of Chinese descent). AND KAPOWWWW!! The deed was done. On 31 Dec 2013 (or one of those days. Lol). Never have I seen anything as accurate as this. And K used to say that I conned him into it, telling him that it’ll take at least 6 months before anything happens. And now he had “lost” 6 months of fun time (ie traveling). Crazy traveling fanatics, we are (till today!). 

Fast forward to today, it’s definitely a life changer. The rest is history. And all of you know my story from then on, so not going to elaborate. I’m glad we decided to hop unto the parenthood bandwagon. 

Reminiscing back to when I see my girth size grew bigger by the week. Thank God no morning sickness or any other complications from my herniated disc. The baby will kungfu kick furiously inside, till I can actually see my belly expand and move sideways and up. I naively thought I could survive birthing without epidural (no thanks to superhero F who did without! I realize my pain threshold is very much lower than hers. Sigh) but cringed in pain when the doc inserted his fingers to check my dilation. I begged the doc to increase my epidural but he refused, wanting me to feel the pain so that I know when to push (gasp!). Struggled with breastfeeding. And not forgetting the lack of sleep! Was telling K today how mind bogglingly amazing that I can function normally with so little sleep. Lol. Mums are superwomen, I tell ya. 

But now to the point of this blog post. Will I have another one? 

I’ve got 2 friends /ex-colleagues (F being one of them), who got pregnant shortly (second baby for both) after they tendered their resignation. Talk about being stress-free. Your womb literally goes into overdrive just because of the surge of estrogen and happy hormones (cocktail of serotonin-endorphins-dopamine) in your system! And another ex-colleague who’ve been trying so very hard to conceive since the night of her wedding (literally!) but successfully got pregnant after going on a stress-free getaway (I shared with her my success-story’s “secret recipe”. Lol. Hint hint to another friend of mine, J, who’s stressing out on conceiving her 2nd child 😉). Stress-free getaway entails skipping the bungee jump and roller a coaster rides please. She just delivered her baby girl 2 weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure she’s a very happy mum (her in- laws too I’m guessing coz her MIL was practically stuffing her with all sorts of Chinese fertility herbal concoction!). 

Just the other day, F was telling me no way she’s having a third one with all the morning sickness going on, even in her 2nd trimester. And not forgetting “pregnancy brain” too! I experienced it myself, forgetting simple stuff, losing your train of thought midway of your conversation (the horror when it happens in a business meeting. Gasp!!). F now writes down every single thing she needs to do everyday, and crosses them out one by one. You know, just in case. 

Having a strong support system is crucial in times like these. Husbands, please understand the body and emotional changes your wife is going through. Every pregnancy is different. Don’t expect your wife to still iron your clothes and make you breakfast when she’s struggling with morning sickness and lack of sleep due to nursing a sick and clingy toddler. You’re a grown man. Help your wife and she will love you even more. That’s a promise every wife will make to you. I really salute and respect single mums out there (my mum being one of them) who single handedly manage the children’s upbringing and wellfare (not forgetting household matters) all by themselves. There’s this single mother-of-two whose 3 years old boy, Ethan, was striken with leukemia early this year. As a mum, my heart aches terribly for her. But she’s amazingly strong and steadfast in her faith in facing this life extremely difficult hurdle. I don’t know her personally, but her posts on the mothers connect groups in Facebook makes me feel as though I do know a little about her struggle. If you’re reading this, stay strong and continue to be the inspiration to all of us. Our prayers goes out to Ethan that he will be a strong boy, and that he will recover very very soon, and to you, that you may continue to stay steadfast in your faith and that He will bless you and your family greatly. 

But back to the point of this blog post (finally!). Will I have another child? Let’s list down the pros and cons to it. 

Pro (this is what everyone tells us, but I don’t buy it 100%. But oh well)

1. Another sibling for my child to accompany her throughout her life when we are no longer around. 

2. The more the merrier. 

Cons (the list is longer!)

1.   I can’t see how I can split my time and love (and finances) for another child. It will kill me inside to have to spend less time with my precious lil girl. And losing even more sleep?! Can I cope with any less sleep?? Having the stamina to run after a toddler and managing an infant is a whole new level altogether! 

2. Education is gonna cost us a bomb with the crazy inflation (coupled with the fact that our currency is devaluing faster than you can say devaluing) happening these days.

3. And being in my late 30s, the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome will be way higher. I don’t think I’m strong enough to cope with that. 

So, with that, I conclude a no. Call me selfish (for depriving my girl of a sibling), but I don’t think I’ll have another child. Not at this point of my life. 

But then again, no one knows what the future holds for anyone of us. Also, I’ve not tied my tubes (apologies for the info overload). So if it’s God’s will, then so be it. But if you were to leave it to me (and K will agree too), we are now perfectly happy with being just the 3 of us. Happy days ❤️

p/s If babies can come delivered to the doorstep (without having the 40-weeks incubation period) with an instruction manual and million dollar education fund, I won’t mind another one. Or two. The more the merrier right? 😁

Mama on a budget 

When one no longer draws a 5-figure monthly paycheck, and you see your bank balances depleting by the day, especially when you have a new start-up, every dollar counts. Seriously. Before I quit my bank job, the once-a-year long haul holiday is an absolute must, with loads of shopping and dining. Back at home, branded toiletries and make-up. Japanese and Thai eat outs every other day. Imported foodstuff. Even placed a deposit for a Merc!

Those days are over. For now at least. Now, my focus is on my child and business. Don’t get me wrong, I still provide the best for my child. I buy all things natural and organic for her, as far as I can. Her wardrobe is more extensive (and expensive!) than mine now. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I shopped anything fancy for myself. Boohoo. But that’s the thing. Mums, generally (those who’s otherwise, please don’t shoot the writer!) are willing to spend more on their children (be it education, toys, clothing, food, etc) eventhough they need to be on a tight budget themselves.

So now. In view that I’ve got limited budget, and overseas trip is a no-go (for now!), what can we do instead? I figured, why not I list down a few not-so-expensive stuff to do with your family, and keep everyone happy at the same time? Here goes.

1. Support local tourism

Visit your local cities and go off the not-so-beaten tracks (can’t be too adventurous with babies now, can we?). Instead of checking into your usual (boring!) hotels, why don’t you opt for homestay? They’re affordable, but yet gives you a slightly different experience as compared to a hotel. Of course, you won’t get your standard hotel breakfast and gym/pool facilities, but hey, a break from the norm can be rather refreshing for the soul!

The recent trip we made to Malacca, the historical state of Malaysia, courtesy of Mr Hubby who decided to take us for a short excursion to celebrate my new found “corporate freedom”. He found us a nice, cosy homestay called The Stable for RM380 a night, located right at the centre of Jonker Street, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. Not super baby friendly, but we managed comfortably. Thanks to the very comfortable king sized bed and soft pillows, M enjoyed her beauty sleep so much, she slept till close to 10am the next day!

Looking out at ya from The Stable. Do not let the facade fool you, Inside’s cozy and gorgeous!

Or go on a foodie trip (perhaps a stay over too!) and fill up your “tanks” with good local hawker food. Try to avoid weekends or public holidays if you can, less be overwhelmed (and frustrated) by the sheer number of people surrounding you waiting for your table. Totally not baby friendly, unless your tot is so well behaved, he or she doesn’t crank up in the heat and hustle and bustle, I would avoid going to these places on a weekend at all cost. Last weekend we were in Ipoh for a quick getaway, good weather (thank God!) and (almost) well-behaved baby. Happy days 🙂

Artsy mailboxes, perfect for the camera! Outside Sekeping Kong Heng
2. Visit your local parks and zoo
We took M to Aquaria, a bit pricey in my view, but it was M’s first time, and she loved it! So, anything to keep her happy and entertained, i say!

Thoroughly enjoying the “seaview”
Next would probably be the zoo, bird parkbutterfly parkFarm in the City. Or you can even go to your local swimming pools for a swim! It costs less than 5 bucks per person, go early and if possible, avoid weekends, to have a decent time of splashing fun with your little one.

3. Have a cook/ bake-out at home

I’ve been cooking and baking more at home these days, reliving my yesteryear passion, one that was put on the back burner ever since I joined my last employer 4 years ago (no thanks to the long hours and stress). Also, wanted to make sure the little one is well fed with as much unprocessed food possible. Japanese meals (udon, teriyaki, chawanmushi, etc), pasta (with tomato paste made from scratch!) and even cheesecakes. Might not be easy juggling all that work that entails, including attending to a fussy baby (not forgetting the cleaning up afters) but the little one learns as we go along, that mommy is making food for her, that she might as well watch and learn! I’ll hand her the kitchen utensils to play (and throw!), spaghetti noodles to fiddle and figure out how to feed herself, bits of fruits to chew on while I finish cutting up the rest. She’s mighty busy herself, with all that “work” that she’s assigned with. But on days when Ms Fussy Pots decides that she needs to have a close up helicopter view of whatever that I’m doing at the kitchen, I’ll end up carrying her in one arm, and working with the other. Just yesterday, I attempted to make thin crust pizza for the very first time. I thought I did good, with all that effort in making my own tomato paste and all, until I took a bite off that crust. OMG! I forgot to add baking soda to my dough! My pizza ended up tasting like biscuit. Lol. Next time, we shall try again. Next experiment, spinach hand made noodles 😁

Looks can be deceiving. LOL
So yea. Life doesn’t have to be a bore eventhough one is on a budget. There’s much to learn and explore as a family, just need to be more imaginative and willing to try on new things.

p/s. Oh, did I also mention that I’ve cancelled my Astro (cable tv) subscription. STRICTLY NO TV (and NO children/baby shows on iPad/ laptop!) for my child until she’s at least 2. I would rather spend time reading and playing with her. And no tv for me coz I just don’t have the time! Any time that I have left at the end of the day is spent on work. And blogging 🙂

Rainbows and Sunshine

It’s been a month since I left my banking career for good, to start this business of ours. And it has been close to 2 weeks since we officially launched it. I’ve gotten used to sending out formal emails with the subject – Hello from hahanoyume, the baby kimono company. Sounds kinda cool and catchy, I think 🙂

So. How has it been so far, as a tight-budget-entrepreneur, as well as a mum spending almost every waking (and sleeping!) hours with her child?

Well, the mumsy part, not gonna lie to you, there’re good and bad days, mostly good. But there’re definitely some bad days where I wish that I could afford a full time helper at home (uh-oh! I’ve got to watch out for AK47 interrogation from the grandparents after this post! Sigh…). Days when the 10-month old decides that she is all grown up and doesn’t need sleep until it’s very late at night. Days when she decides that she wants to go on hunger strikes and refuse to open her mouth for food, or worse, spits out food that used to be her favorite. Days when I clean up after her more than I clean myself. There was a short period of time when she turned into Ms Hyde at night, and wakes to cry for no apparent reason – I sang, I rocked, I cried, I almost gave up. But, hey, overall, all is good. I enjoy time spent with her – reading, playing, bathing. Yea, I get to bathe with her now. So much fun, I tell ya! She has started to call papa (mama was when she hit 8 months). Her father is over the moon! And she finally cut her first tooth. My nips are so thankful that her pearly whites decide to make a late appearance. At least I don’t have to suffer the bites. Lol.
And I have to thank my dear husband for being there to help out, in whatever little way he can. Otherwise, I would have ended up like a vagabond – unkempt and disorganized. I like the fact that our daughter gets to spend more quality time with both parents, hopefully she will grow up to be a wise, intelligent and discerning young lady. Oh, and be a music protege please! Take us to America with you!

As for the business, sales has been encouraging. Not gonna sugarcoat things here. There are days when I feel we are doomed (yea, silly me right?). But, we are actually not! We are so blessed to be able to connect to a few awesome mummy bloggers as well as certain channels for a feature write-up – one in August and another in September. One of the interview is next Thursday! So excited, and yet so deeply humbled by the support that we get and opportunities that we have. Oh! And we have finalized the designs for our toddler range (1-3 years old) – kimono tops for boys and kimono dresses for girls (they’re so pweetyyyyyy!). And we hope to reveal them by end August, so do stay tuned!

It’s been rather hot and humid lately. But there are days when it rains, and you get to see the rainbow. Life’s like that, isn’t it. There will be days where you feel low and hopeless, filled with self doubt. But there will always be rainbows and sunshine after that shower of rain. Here’s to great times ahead, have a blessed weekend everyone! xoxo

Counting down!

So here we are, at the cornerstone of our impending product launch. We wait with bated breath, anxious of how it will turn out. The finished product, packaging, photographs, website, payment portal, delivery channel, storage, product description, charities, sales. Every single nitty gritty detail has to be covered to our best human ability! We worry. We breakdown. We go over and over every single detail in our head even while we are sleeping. Our livelihood depends on this. We have to now learn how to tie the perfect bow. How to fold delicate tissue paper without creasing it. How to take perfect photographs! S was such a patient photographer, and we have her to thank for all the beautiful pictures of our baby models as well as still shots of our kimono rompers. 

Was just chatting with F this morning about the sheer quantity of goods that we will be receiving from our suppliers this coming week. It suddenly dawned on me that we had commited all we have to this business venture of ours. And it frightened me. Will we succeed? Was just sharing with F how our babies’ future depends on the success of this business as we do not have other means of income now. Make it or break it. Or rather, just make it. No other way. 

It was such an opportune timing that I came across this post on Facebook today by Zig Ziglar– “It’s the size of your hope that’s going to determine how far you’ll go in your life”. 

Yup. It’s hope alright. We have high hopes that this venture of ours will fly. Hope that the decision we made to quit our corporate careers to do this was the right one. Hope that our babies will have all the opportunities in this world to achieve greater heights, something that their mums never had. 

As F always say, “We are in this together, no matter what. We will watch each other’s back. Always”. And I love her for that. She’s always so cool-headed, she’s like my anchor in this little voyage that we are setting sail together. And I’m glad that S decided to come on board too. She’s totally amazing with people and guess what? She just delivered our very first gift wrapped parcel to our first VVIP customer today! And many more to go! And all before our actual launch! And all this is only made possible with the help of our manufacturer, this young lady is the most dedicated businesswoman I know. She works till close to midnight at her factory just to make sure everything is on schedule (despite our fabric from Japan reached the factory a week late. So sorry SY!!). I’m just so very thankful for these ladies, they’re the perfect pieces to the jigsaw puzzle, they truly are. God sent. 

Exciting times ahead indeed. Keeping fingers crossed!