Wednesday, November 1, 2017

6 Mommy Budget Hacks

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Hi!!! Having three children isn’t a walk in the park. Nor are they friendly for your wallet. That’s why over the years I’ve become very savvy with spending on a budget. I’m still learning and discovering new outlets but so far, I think I’m doing good. I’ve never been this earth friendly until I have 3 kids!

1. DIAPERS

The most budget friendly at this point will be cloth diapers. I thought about it, even purchased a bundle in 2013 but decided against it because it didn’t fit our lifestyle. So I settled with the next best thing – bulk diaper buying.

My kids wear Drypers. So far they’ve been very practical and does containment exceptionally well. Currently I’m using 2 different sizes, S and L. So I buy them in a box usually from Lazada or Tesco (online of course). They cost me an average RM75 per box.

If I have to buy them loose, I’ll pick a packet from 99speedmart. Their prices are the lowest.

2. MILK POWDERS

Ibrahim, my 2nd born is on soy milk, Isomil. An 800g tin would cost around RM80 in Aeon. Different 99Speedmart has different pricing. But so far the cheapest is at chinese supermarkets. My place is near a few of these chinese supermarkets. Their selling price for a tin is RM69. The catch? No debit/credit. Only Cash.

3. ONESIES & CLOTHING

Onesies are a babies staple clothing. My babies at home are in onesies 99% of the time. They’re just so convenient and versatile. I get nice Gap and Next rejects at Plaza Massalam for RM10 each.

4. SECOND HAND ITEMS

I promise this isn’t as icky as it sounds. We Malaysians love shiny new things. Why not go green and get second hand items. You have to be smart about buying 2nd hand. For me personally, I try to choose items that are NEW or LIGHTLY USED. Yes, they exist on the second hand market… and usually at a fraction of a brand new price. NEW/LIGHTLY USED items I’ve purchased before: sneakers, baby rocker, pregnancy waist extender & car seat.

Not everything secondhand is good. You’ll have to be picky but I assure you that it’s worth it and very satisfying when you score a great bargain. Some sellers only use things once or twice before deciding they don’t want something. Proceed with caution though, because bargain hunting this way is very addictive.

For important items, I always do COD, which means that you go pick up the items personally so you can see the condition with your own eyes.

My secondhand bargain port: Carousell App for nice novelty items, Preloved Facebook group, Preloved baby goods Malaysia Facebook group, Mudah.my, Expat KL group for furnitures

5. GENERAL EVERYDAY

Always try to shop at one place and get a membership. One that allows you to collect points and redeem vouchers sort of thing. I choose Tesco because I can either shop physically or online and it allows me to collect points both ways.

6. FURNITURE/ELECTRONICS

Always compare prices on LAZADA. They have the best prices hands down. I’ve done comparisons with Seng Heng / Aeon / Courts / Harvey Norman etc but LAZADA takes the cake for cheapest price. This goes for bigger brands like Panasonic, Tefal, KDK. We’ve purchased beds for our homestays on LAZADA. Cheap & arrives within 2 weeks.

Do you have any favorite hacks to share?

Friday, October 27, 2017

KRABI FOR THE SECOND TIME

*This is a backdated post from March 2017*

We’ve actually been to Krabi twice since I first wrote about it. I can be considered a Krabi family holiday expert now.

I personally enjoyed the first time we went more because Naila was 2 years old and we get to do more things. The second time around, we also brought along 7 month old Ibrahim and I was 4 months pregnant. It was a bit tiring compared to last time.

But I think the most question I get asked is “why go to Krabi again?” To answer this, I have to tell a story about one guy me & hubs got to know about in Bali. The guy was from Germany. He was treated like an old friend at the villa. And we found out from the owner that he returns every single year. Because he loves it there. It was so simple and profound.

It was a mental shift both of us went through in our one month old marriage at the time. So the answer to that question we get so many times is because we love Krabi the first time we went.

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This time we decided to go by flight. I’m not sure which one is more tiring because on one hand, we arrived in Krabi within 1.5 hours. But the waiting in the airport took a few hours.

Naila was excited about the plane ride but Ibrahim couldn’t be bothered. I think more than anything, he was annoyed that we disturbed his sleeping time.

We arrived early in the morning at 6 am. We went straight to our hotel because we’ve requested for an early check-in beforehand. That morning, we took a rest for a few hours before heading out to eat. We’re so happy to eat at May & Zin again. Love it. The food is as tasty as it was before.

Our hotel has 2 pools and they’re empty most of the time. So we had fun playing at our ‘private pool’ that afternoon.

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It was Ibrahim’s first time in a pool. He was 7 months old! He loves it!


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One for the camera!

The second day, we decided to go island hopping. Just If you opt for the normal boat, there could easily be more than 15 people on the boat and you would have to follow their schedule.

Since we’re totting a 3 year old and a 7 month old, we decided that private boat is the way to go.

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One of the stops was Hong Island. The kids loved playing in the sea. They enjoyed the sand. The limestone hills were magnificent. 

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At Hong island is also where we swam with the fish. Naila was a bit spooked out by the fishes following and poking her. I think it was the flowery swimming suit that attracted the fish.

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Ibrahim’s first boat ride. He was behaving so good. Totally enjoyed the wind blowing his hair. We spent the whole day outside on the boat. Luckily the boat was shaded and we brought some snacks on board.

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Towards the end of the day, we were all so tired. Just going with a baby is a lot of work. Add that I was pregnant. I wouldn’t do it again under those circumstances. I really won’t. I’ll revisit the possibility when the kids aren’t in diapers anymore at least.

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Here’s Naila really SLEEPING on the plank. Baby Ibrahim was also sleeping on our way back to shore.

On the third day, we hung out at the hotel. We ordered hotel food in the afternoon. Sunda Hotel food is good. The breakfast buffet is good, ala carte is also good. No complains there.

Hubs went on a diving trip to Koh Phi Phi island. This time around he said the water visibility is great, unlike the last time. It’s supposed to be one of the best times to dive when we went in March.

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Ibrahim ready to spend the day in Krabi. That night, we went to the night market in Krabi Town riding a tuk tuk. The drive to Krabi Town took about 30 minutes. The tuk tuk was just a motorcycle connected with a contraption that allows 4 adult passengers to be seated. It was very windy to say the least.

Upon arriving at the market, I carried Ibrahim in the carrier and Naila was strapped in the stroller. The market had lots of interesting trinkets as should a Thailand market have. And tasty street food.

The best thing about being in Krabi is the HALAL FOOD. You can eat anything because they’re halal and cooked by muslims. Halal everywhere. I love it! One of the reasons we LOVE Krabi.

The market itself is small size. You can make a round within 30 minutes. We went back after having our snacks. (sweet potato balls yum. Come to think of it, I’m ganna make it for my kids)

So on the final days in Krabi, we strolled along the beach alot, enjoying the sea, sand and sun.

Krabi might be an annual thing for our family, because it’s just super friendly for us muslims. It’s different, you get to be in another country, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the food is superb. Last but not least, Krabi is very affordable. I guarantee it will not break your bank.

I think that’s the end of my 2nd trip to Krabi story! Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wonder in These Years

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We’re starting to settle into a normal routine. We get up around 6.30-7am. Everybody has breakfast, shower. Hubs leave around 7.30 – 8am. I send Naila to school around 8.30am. I started taking Ibrahim with me lately so after sending Naila, we sometimes walk downstairs at the playground area.

Then I ask my maid, Dewi to play downstairs with Ibrahim. I put baby to sleep. I’m starting to exercise a bit but I don’t have a fixed routine yet. I start doing work on the laptop. Follow ups, putting up ads, attending to enquiries. On days that I have to go out, I’ll maneuver around that timing.

Sometimes I leave Naila in school. I try not to leave all 3 kids with my maid for more than 2 hours. Sometimes I’ll take one of the babies with me for viewings or meetings or inspections. If I plan to leave the baby at home, I’ll pump milk in the morning. I don’t collect frozen expressed milk, only a few bags in the freezer for emergency too long outings. So far I haven’t used them for baby.

I usually pick up Naila at 12pm. The kids nap in the afternoon except for Naila who usually does her colouring/play doll house/lego/sticker book or ipad time. Afternoons are usually varied depends on whether I leave house or not that day.

By 4pm I usually wrap up my laptop time though I still answer calls or messages. I take them down to the playground while my maid cooks. 6-6.30pm we have dinner. Bath time. Story time. Mengamuk time. If I’m not too tired we do our sleeping time routine.. play shadows, read books or telling stories with a flashlight in the dark. Actually this is only possible if the baby is asleep or he’s surprisingly quiet. By 8.30pm, lights off.

The kids will usually be asleep by 9pm. If I don’t accidently fall asleep as well, I’ll wake up to update my listings, make a to do list for tomorrow. Then if it’s still early, I watch a movie or tv series. I gotta be honest. I love my nights. I wouldn’t be able to survive without my nights!

The days are long, but the years are short.

I still remember the days with Naila alone, and thinking “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Obviously I haven’t met Ibrahim and Hassan yet at that point! Honestly if I see other moms out there, I’ll be like “how the heck does she manage?” I sometimes ask myself the same question but the answer is that.. you just do.

It’s one day at a time.. Suddenly everybody is grown up. Naila is turning 4. Ibrahim has started walking. Hassan has started smiling. 2 months ago Hassan was still a bun in the oven!

I will never forget these wonderful years. Tiring, but wonderful.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pantang with three

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I’m not going to attempt to write a backstory to all this. As it is now, I currently have an almost pre-schooler, a toddler and a newborn. I’m nearing the end of pantang but it wasn’t much of a pantang to be honest. I broke all the rules of pantang. Not wearing socks? Checked. Go up and down the stairs? Checked. No urut? Checked. Carry heavy objects? Checked. The heavy object is actually my one year old bumbling Ibrahim who’s 9.5kg.

Aiyaya…

As my number of births go up, I start to have a different perspective on pantang. Right now, for me berpantang is being comfortable, enjoying my time with the babies, eating healthy food most of the time and funny enough, catching up on afternoon naps. I have a newborn and a toddler.. can’t say I’m catching up on nighttime sleep.

The first week was a breeze. (My confinement is always at mom’s house and we have a maid. It was very manageable because my mom basically insists that I do nothing at all other than to tend to the newborn)

The second week was when the horror started. Naila came back from school with a viral fever that turned out to be HMFD. Then, surprise.. Ibrahim caught it. So bye-bye sleep. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and can’t even drink his milk. It was horrible! My poor baby.

The worst part is when I cannot touch or hold him because we didn’t want it to spread to the baby. HMFD is worse than chicken pox. I mean the effect on him. He was crying and wanted to be carried all the time.

But luckily the baby didn’t catch it.

By now nothing is shocking anymore. I’ve become the unfazed mother.

Daughter HMFD with 2 babies in the house? Manageable.

One year old crying asking to be picked up while holding newborn? Manageable.

3 kids crying for milk at the same time? Manageable.

I’m not saying that I’m doing it all alone.. I’ve got mom, dad, husband, bibik and my two brothers occasionally. So it’s VERY manageable. I’ll say compared to when I was alone handling only one baby. That was harder because I’ve got no one to pass the baby to.

My pantang days are almost over. We’re ganna have to settle into the new normal. I never ever in a billion years imagine that I’ll be a mom of three by 30 but it’s always funny how things turn out, right?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Getting Ma Babies To Sleep Early

Both my babies are sleeping while I'm writing this. They usually go to sleep around 8-8.30pm. It started before Naila was born and hubs gave me this one baby sleep book. So being the excited first time mom, I read like, 10 parenting books even before I delivered. I ate them up.

But one thing I really feel I need is my sleep. If that sounds selfish.. well you know they say that you have to take care of your self first, to become the best mom for your children. Because you gotta give and give and give. What happens if you're out of steam?

That's when you start becoming mommy monster. Not that I've never been.. but the key word here is 'trying' to take care of yourself.

So that's why I started putting my babies to sleep early.

I love my alone time.. I think I'm more of an introvert, I need my space. Even from my babies. ESPECIALLY from my babies after a looonngg day.

And I love having adult conversations at the end of the day with hubs, as opposed to baby talk the rest of the day.

Anyway according to the books that I've read.. babies are programmed to sleep early.. you just have to help them go to sleep! I've got friends who complained that their babies won't sleep way into midnight.. and I think the babies are just too overstimulated.

Naila is currently 3 years old and Ibrahim is 11 months old.. Both have NEVER slept past 9pm except during Raya or special times. We went on vacation and they slept at 8.30pm outside. So yeap we trained 'em good.

During Naila's time I was very methodical.. as in we had a sleep routine down to the minutes. When Ibrahim came along, I had to adjust for 2.. and I might skip a few things one day.. and do it another day. But it's really the same routine overall.

NUMBER 0: Last nap of the day ends at 5pm, or 3pm depending on their age. Let them play outside.. burn some energy, swim or do whatever that keeps them occupied.

NUMBER 1: Start bathing them around 6.30pm. Or sometimes they eat first.

NUMBER 2: Eat dinner. Around 7pm.

NUMBER 3: Play... puzzles, books, colouring.. sometimes things get out of hand with 2 kids because they'll end up overexcited but I always try to get them to wind down. Maybe play with torchlight in the dark.. That's Naila's favorite. Until around 8.15pm. I'll squeeze in Maghrib prayers while the kids play & hubs take over for a few mins.

NUMBER 4: Lights off. By 8.30PM. Or earlier if I'm too tired.

They will doze off within 15 mins.

Rinse and repeat for the next 10 years! HAha.

I know it sounds simple but only if you start early. And as a parent, I had to stick to schedule every single day. I'm not ashamed to admit that I really love this part because once they're asleep, I'm FREEEEE.

I started training them since they're 1 month old.. before that newborns are just too little to care about routines. And newborns are adjusting to alot of things. They don't know the difference between napping in the morning and sleeping at night.

Everybody has a circadian rhythm or 'sleep wake body cycle' and in babies, they're not developed yet. So first thing is to teach them that we sleep at night.. starting 8pm, it's lights off for the baby. If the baby doesn't want to sleep, just let them lie there in the dark... with you of course.

If they wake up at 3am cooing and you smell poo.. just change their diapers as fast as possible and get back to bed. No playing, no making faces, no talking to them. I swear the baby will get it within a month. They'll poo and cry.. but they will be asleep when you change them.

The baby will be prepped by the time he's 2 months old. Some babies start sleeping through the night.. of course mine doesn't.. I bf my babies but I still manage to get them to sleep by 8.30pm and by 9 months, they're sleeping through the night.

I know, some people will be like, why do I need to put my kids to sleep early? I like having them around!

NUMBER 1: Babies need 14 hours sleep for their development. Some babies don't even like to nap...so getting them to sleep early is one way to fill up their sleep quota.

NUMBER 2: Good habits die hard. And I believe sleeping early is a good habit to have especially when they start school. And haven't you heard? Successful people wake up very early in the morning to start their day. Sleep early=wake up early. Subuh pun senang. Ehem.

NUMBER 3: Like I said... I get some alone time.. to zone out on my phone, to talk to hubs, to read, to clean up the mess etc etc etc. It does wonders on your mental health.. I promise!

So that's it! How I get my kids to sleep early.. I don't believe in having kids 'who don't want to sleep early'. It's probably because their not helped to sleep early.. They won't just miraculously fall asleep early. I Wish!

Just have to keep trying until eventually... they tell you when they're sleepy! I'm off to drink hot choc & read. In peace and quiet. Kids Free.

'Till then, TC.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Milestones & Parenting the Danish Way


Naila is having a 2 week holiday so naturally I've got my hands full. It's a blessing that she now knows how to play independently but at the same time, she still needs my company after 1 hour playing alone.. Ibrahim naps 2-3 times a day. 

This week it seems both had a milestone jump.. Naila suddenly started looking at her Lego Duplo in a new light. If she was building 4-5 block structures before, now she's suddenly interested in building mega structures.. finishing all the lego blocks in one go! 

One day she just came to me and said "Mommy! I need to show you something!!" 

So I went to her room.. low and behold... a behemoth structure by her previous standards. I felt so proud of her for figuring it out by herself! 

We played lego soo many times together. I tried showing her many ways to assemble the lego but she couldn't care less. Then she went on to discover stuff by herself! 

Major mind shift on my part.. 

Then I found out about Danish parenting.. which means that you don't have to actively play with your kids all the time. You can just let them learn to play by themselves sometimes. 

One more thing that Naila started doing is to scribble zig zags. It might not sound like much. I was even getting worried that she doesn't seem to have any drawing skills or even remotely interested in writing.  

If forced to draw, she'd be doing circles over and over again. She'll say its Olaf or something. I'm expecting her to draw like a stick man or something by now... but nope. So I'm pretty happy that she suddenly enjoys writing zig zags in the notebook.. And they're pretty nice zig zags too. 

Ibrahim on the hand started playing imitation games last week. He'd nod and shake his head. He would move his fingers when we sing twinkle-twinkle little star. Honestly, he's at such a fun age.

Giggly and funny. He'll be 11 months soon. Ahhh time flies by! 
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