Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Musings of a momprenuer in the year 2015.

It's 2015 and we are already in February and approaching CNY. Time sure flies when you have so many things going on in your life. If you don't already know who I am, I am Jen, a mom to a pair of boy girl twins conceived via IVF. If you are going through IVF or am considering IVF, do go all the way back to my previous posts and read through to get an idea of what to expect. I also am a business owner and I operate My Pixie Baby - www.mypixiebaby.com and we primarily sell baby essentials and Mustela products. I also am teaching in a student care centre and that occupies about half my day. Sometimes with so much on my plate, it makes me wonder where I got my energy from. I guess I am one of those people who just take things as it come, try not to think about it and just get through it as much as I can. I consider myself more successful compared to others not in the monetary sense, but experiences wise.

I was reading through a fellow childhood friend's blog and was so inspired by her drive and passions to succeed. She too, has a very successful online business and has travelled to many parts of the world. This year, I hope to be more like her, and be less lazy and aim to lead a healthier and an even more fulfilling life. (As I am typing this, I am almost passing out from the effects of the cough mixture I downed earlier so pardon my incoherent sentences)

I just wanted to get this out before I sit on it for far too long and forget all about it. So anyway, I wanted to blog about my experiences as an entrepreneur and how I hope I can inspire other moms to take the plunge and be like me!

These are the 3 things that truly define me as a Momprenuer.

1. Being able to admit your past failures.

I never liked looking back at what went wrong. I knew that if I sat myself down and started to be really critical with myself, I will probably have a looong list of what should have been done or what should have not. I knew that I would probably hate myself after that but still, I went ahead and accessed myself. I was harsh and focused on what I could have done better. I insisted to dig deep and tried to understand what I was weak in and asked for help in those areas. This self assessment helped me to see my faults and humbled me to ask for help when needed. I now understand that there are some things you just cannot do it by yourself. Hah..

2. Knowing when to let go.

Learning to let go is a skill that I am still trying to master. Sometimes I find it hard to let go of my ideas or the way to get a certain thing done. I often kill myself in the process of getting there and not all the times is it worth for me to try even. I have slowly learnt to be less stubborn, listen and discern more. Learning to let go also means letting go of toxic people in your life. They may be friends or colleagues who always bring you down and make you feel shitty about yourself or do things that makes you doubt your self worth. These people are worth clearing out periodically because you need to be only filling up your life with the people who truly matter.

3. Being able to laugh at yourself and then move on.

Before My Pixie Baby, I had GlamzPixie. I started this out with my sister selling women's accessories and branded bags online and at flea markets. I realised that what I thought looked good and nice might not be the same for others. Although it wasn't a successful business venture, I was lucky that I learnt many valuable lessons from it. It is through this that I am even more determined to make My Pixie Baby work. I don't dwell too much about the fact that I might not have even gotten back my capital. I just chin up, look ahead and move on, this time a lot more careful with how I run my business.

4. Knowing that being a Momprenuer means I do sacrifice personal time for myself and it's not really a bed of roses.

Whenever people hear that I do have a business, their reaction is that I wake up late, work for 3 hours and slack the whole day while waiting for orders to come in and money to drop from the sky. I hope that I can achieve that one day, but for now, this isn't the reality for me. I have to work late at nights because I want to spend time with the kids while they are awake. This means that if I am packing orders or updating my stock inventory, I will have to be doing it after 10pm and sometimes this stretches to after 12 midnight. I also have to wake up early at around 7 plus in the morning to continue where I have left off and then, prepare and hug the kids for school then go to work. It is PURE.HARD.WORK and I don't get it easy. I don't have as much time as I used to to meet my girlfriends for an after work dinner and drinks. Weekends are spent cramping as much play time and errands with the kids then work again late into the night. It is really not easy and not everyone is able to have the discipline to live this way.

This year, I aim to expand my business and keep myself healthy so that I can have the energy to keep up with everything. I hope this inspires you to find out what you love and take the plunge to achieving your dreams.

Follow us on FB at https://www.facebook.com/mypixiebabyjen for more updates!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Taking better care of yourself, even if you are a Stay Home Mom.

I am guilty of a few things. I am guilty of hanging around my house in my pjs till after noon and only bathe until I stink badly/ or need to go out. I am guilty of buying too many facial products and not using them as often as I should be. I am guilty of not exercising which explains the size I am today.
Sigh. I don't even wish to continue the list anymore. It just reminds me of how lazy I have allowed myself to become ever since I quit my full time job and reverted to being a stay home mom. I left my job because I had to work on Saturdays and Sundays and this meant that I would miss out on a lot of family gatherings and time spent with the kids. I rather scrimp and save more than to work and be unhappy all the time. When I was working, I would slap on makeup everyday and go through more than 3 steps of my beauty regime before leaving my house. I had to meet clients and was managing a team so I wanted to look professional at all times. When I came back from work and before sleeping, I would bathe and carefully remove all make up, then go through another 7 steps of beauty regime before I finally go to bed. I would wake up with a flawless face and baby smooth skin. And people will praise me saying I look radiant. So a week in after resigning from my job, I stared at myself in the mirror and saw a face I could hardly recognise. I had a few break outs, my skin looked kind of dry and I allowed my eyebrows to grow out like a bush. So I decided something had to be done right away. I immediately took out my tweezers and began working on my brows. I quickly gave myself a mini facial, scrub, mask and moisturise. After doing so, I felt so much better and it certainly gave my confidence a big boost!
This made me think, how many mommies in Singapore are like me, given up on taking care of themselves because they are so busy taking care of their kids? How many moms have stalked their friend's FB page and admired how good they looked and wished they could be as well groomed too? My fellow mommy friends, the truth is, you can do it too. It starts with bathing,  putting on a clean Tshirt and a nice pair of shorts, tying up your hair and taking care of your skin. There's a Chinese saying that goes ' In this world, there are no ugly women. Only lazy ones.' I totally agree with it. If we don't make an effort to look good for ourselves, we can't blame our husbands if they wanna look somewhere which is pretty, right? Taking pride in how we look like also means that we don't allow ourselves to look all tired and worn out as if we were what the cat dragged in.  
So because I was reminded of how I looked better when I took care of myself, I decided not to be lazy and from today onwards, adopt the same skin care routine as before and start exercising. Seeing my old pic with all the breakouts verses the me now who has a smooth clear skin, I am really motivated to maintain the same routine and allocate time to myself and love myself a bit more. I'm also going to share with you the routine I have adopted to allow me to have better looking skin and although I must say it seems quite a lot to do, it really only takes less than 15 mins every day to get it done. So before I share the products I use, here's a before and after pic to share so you can see the difference for yourself. Lazy vs Hardworking.

Without too much rambling, I will be sharing with you on the products that I used plus a short write up on some of the better ones that I really like. Hopefully after this read, you will be more inclined to take better care of yourself and look better! Note that all the reviews of the items listed are solely my own point of view and therefore, unbiased.
Step 1: Cleanser
I use the Vichy Normaderm Cleanser. It's good for people with sensitive skin and 1 pump of this product is good enough for my entire face so I would say this is quite value for money. This product does not leave my face dry and tight after washing so I really love it. Sometimes I use the Mustela Dermo Cleanser to wash my face as well especially on days when I don't have any make up on. I like the smell of it and it's so gentle and doesn't leave my skin dry and tight too. For days that I need to remove makeup, I like to use Bioderma Sensibio H2O (makeup remover) to clean my face. It is by far one of the best make up removers I've ever tried.

 Step 2: First Essence

 Formulated with 91% fermented Jeju soybean concentrate, this product helps to promote healthy and vibrant skin. I use this as a first step after cleansing and before toner. This helps to soften the skin and prep it for the other products that I will layer upon. Initially when I started using this, I didn't see any results so I thought this was a waste of money. After about 3 weeks, I realised my skin was able to absorb products better and it's softer. The surface of the skin did not look as dry as it was before and my face seems clearer. I tried the Tony Moly's First Essence but I felt it left a greasy film after application and it probably is a little too rich for people with oily skin.

Step 3: Toner

 I am super in love with this toner. It's from Etude House and true to its name, Wonder Pore Freshner, it really does wonders and it's so refreshing! This product helps shrink your pores, keep it clean and reduce blackheads. It also contains alcohol, so this helps with sebum and oil control. I love that after about 2 weeks of using this product, my T zone is less oily and I need not blot of touch up my make up that often anymore. This is currently my holy grail for toners. It contains peppermint extract so after use, you get a nice refreshing clean and cool feeling on your face. Love it.

 Step 4: Eye Cream

 Innisfree Eco Science Eye Cream. I'm still a little undecided on this one. I cannot decide whether the dark circles that were lightened were due to this eye cream or because I am having more sleep. What I liked about this cream is that it probably did help with the fine lines below my eyes and kept it moisturised so whenever I put on concealer, it doesn't settle in the lines and look disgusting. I also like that this eye cream comes in a pump bottle kind so I don't have to put my fingers into the jar and dig around. It has a light gel consistency and while it is easy to pat on, it doesn't get absorbed very easily so it leaves an oily looking film beneath the eyes for a while. Despite that, it does not give me millia seeds so I am quite pleased with the eye cream. I only use this at night because of the oily looking sheen but it disappears by the next morning leaving soft and supple skin around the eye area.

Step 5: Brightening Essence / Serum

 I am currently using the Etude House brightening serum in the day time and the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair at night. The brightening serum has a liquidy gel like consistency that spreads easily and absorbed very quickly without leaving any sticky feeling. This is very good for our warm climate where sometimes the moment you step out of the house you start perspiring. It seems to minimise pores and even out skin tone. It BRIGHTENS up skin tone rather than whiten it for my case. It's a step before moisturiser/cream.

The Missha time revolution is one of Missha's best selling products. I like that it is easy to spread on and it protects the skin from environmental damage, reduce fine lines, even out skin tone, and moisturizes the skin. The star ingredient in this serum is Bifida Ferment Lysate, a probiotic that has been traditionally used internally to strengthen the immune system. When applied topically, it’s been shown in at least one study to reduce skin sensitivity and increase the skin barrier’s ability to repair itself. I can see results after adding this to my skin care collection. My cheeks weren't as red and I would like to think that it's doing its work in preventing wrinkles and the aging of my skin!

Step 6: Moisturiser/Cream

  I use the Innisfree balancing cream for night because it is heavier and does not get absorbed that quickly . I got it upon recommendation from the guy working at the shop and I have to say that it really does its job very well. I have combi skin and it helped to moisturise my face while controlling the sebum in the T zone.  It smells very good and it does give the skin a dewy appearance. However, because it's heavier and not absorbed that quickly, I am not keen to use it for day time. But so far, this is my to go to cream for night use.

For day time, I use the Etude House Brightening Essence Lotion together with the Collagen Moistfull Emulsion. It gives me a dewy appearance as well and absorbs very well, meaning I need not have to blot it or wait for it to dry on my face before putting on my sunscreen. It really gives the skin a boing boing effect which I really love.

Step 7: Sunscreen

I truly love this sunscreen and when I do have time I'm going to dedicate an entry just for the Holika Holika Wonder Sheild Primer sunscreen. It acts as a primer and a sunscreen and I tell you, this sunscreen is not oily and it doesn't have that strong sun screen smell! It's usually my last step of skincare for day time and somedays I skip BB cream and just lightly powder my face, draw my brows, put on some lip gloss and mascara then off I go. It does leave a bit of a white cast but by the time I leave house and take the bus it's not that obvious anymore. I really love that it is not sticky and provides enough coverage so you don't look all caked up. I really love love love this sunscreen and although I tried Kiehls before, I didn't like it as much as I love Holika Holika's sunscreen. I must say that it's worth a buy and if there's anything I must put on before I leave home, it will be this.

Facial Masks

1. I absolutely love the Innisfree Volcanic clay mask - It helps to clean out my pores and leaves the skin looking very clean and soft. I will probably do a review separately on this as well eventually. But this is now my twice a week mask.

2. Sulwhasoo TruFresh Mask - This was given to me as a birthday gift and I also absolutely love it. It helped to calm my skin when I was having my breakout due to a hormonal imbalance during that time of the month. It can be left on overnight or washed off after 10 mins. I like how the mask keeps your skin very soft and smooth after use and it seems to have brightening properties too!

3. Face shop's ampoule mask - The ampoules are to be put on your face before you put on the mask sheet. I find the amount for the ampoule to be quite a lot, so you can properly use half of it first with the mask and just use the remaining half next day. My face was very soft and well moisturised and I really recommend this to mommies who have not much time on their hands as this is very easy to use and it really packs a punch.

4. Innisfree's second skin mask - Also very good. It really covers your skin well and also very moisturising. One of my favourite too.

Again I know this might seem like a lot to do. You definitely can skip a few steps if you are time pressed, but really do invest some time in taking care of your skin. You don't want to look like you are 40 when you are 30, and 60 when you are 40. I have heard of friends who take care of themselves because they are scared their husbands will stray, but I strongly recommend you to do it to feel better about yourself. It's isn't about being beautiful, it's about taking pride in your looks and respecting yourself. When your kids see a happier you instead of a frazzled and unkempt mommy, I am sure they will be happier too!

Do write in the comments section below what are some of your holy grail products. I would love to hear what are you guys using for your facial routine!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Nursery Essentials - (things that you wished someone had told you to buy before baby comes home!)

When I was waiting for the twins to be discharged from the NICU, I started to prepare my room for the arrival of them. I started to get confused and hyperventilated from the sheer amount of work to be done. I had to set up the crib and because I am a HDB dweller, my room had space only to fit in a queen sized bed and a cot. I wasn't able to fit in 2 unless I decided that I wouldn't be needing to open my wardrobe. I also wanted the twins to sleep together as they were kept separate from birth, having to be in different incubators. So I set about trying to prepare and soon found myself in a whirlpool of baby products and necessities. No doubt some of the information online is helpful, I needed a list that would cater to a Singaporean Chinese family. I wanted a good mix of traditional and modern items that would make caring for baby much easier. So without too much rambling, I present you, Jenny's  List of Baby's essentials for your nursery.

If you, like me live in a HDB flat, the following will help you cut down on unnecessary purchases and help you save a little.

Big Ticket Items

1. Baby Cot - If you are on a budget, you can easily buy a 2nd hand cot and just invest in a good mattress. Seahorse brand has a standard size allows you to customise if you cot is well, special. For 2nd hand items, you should go to Lovey or Preloved Baby Goods on Facebook to see if you might come across any special deals.If you have a cot, you will also need cot bedding. My advice is just to get 1 set of bedding, and then have 2 or 3 pieces of mattress sheets. There's really no need to spend so much on the bumper and comforter (which you prolly won't use for long anyway).

2. Play yard/Play Pen - Again, these are items that you can buy 2nd hand cause you don't usually use it for a long time. A play pen is good if you don't have any additional help. So you can keep 1 in the living room and put baby in while you go about doing your chores. It might not be the most comfortable place to sleep in so I suggest it for older babies or when they are starting to stand and it's no longer to leave them in the cot for more than 15 mins. I suggest not using the cot for play so babies will just solely associate the cot for sleep. Play yards have more mileage and can go a longer way but are more costly. Again, go through the Facebook Groups mentioned to see if you can grab any good deals. If you buy a play yard, you will need a play mat but I have seen people using a thin mattress. Play mats are good to cushion the knocks and bumps for baby in future.

3. Steriliser - It comes in many brands and if you are on a budget, do get a 2nd hand item. However you will need to do a good descaling if you buy a 2nd hand sterilizer. For that matter, I prefer the Pigeon brand to Avent because for the Pigeon one, you can see the build up and it's 'open' as compared to Avent where there's a hole where water accumulates and you cannot see the disgusting stuff that's in there. So you really wouldn't know how much gunk is in there as you can't see it. Some people I know use the traditional way of boiling the bottles and teats. It's probably the cheaper alternative so do whichever that you feel is more convenient for you.

4. Breast Pump - If you intend to breast feed/pump. If you decide to latch then you probably don't need this. Good to have a manual one on standby to boost the supply or for emergency use when baby is unable to latch. A good manual one that I have tried is the Avent Manual Breast Pump. Very good suction and it sometimes yield more milk than my Mustela Freestyle. I used that for emergency purposes when I forgot to charge my pump and still feel it's a good breast pump.

These are some of the items that I can think off hand which are the more expensive ones. We will now move on to Diaper Changing Essentials.

1. A cot organizer (if you don't have table space. This can be hung onto the cot thereby making your life slightly easier) I had a changing table given to me from Ikea and just used that. I have seen my friends bought the Toyogo stand with wheels as well. Practical and cheap. Below is an example of it.


2. Diapers / washable and dispposable- You don't have to get too many newborn sized ones as they grow out of it very quickly. Stock up on S and Medium sizes as these are easier to sell if baby grows out of it. I also bought some muslin cloths meant to fold them for nappy use but the kids were too small and the cloth was too big so I gave up. Besides, I didn't have much time after pumping and latching them to wash their nappy and hang it dry.

3. Wet wipes / cotton wool - When the kids first came home, I used only water and cotton (those that comes in a roll and you can cut it into bigger squares) to clean their butt. For poo, I will use tissue to wipe off first then wash their butt to prevent nappy rash. I only used wet wipes when we were out and after they were about 6 months old. What you don't need, is a wet wipe warmer. This is because we are not living in a country that has winter which might result in cold or frozen wet wipes. Besides, how cold can our wet wipes be?

4. Diaper cream - I recommend the Mustela Vitamin Barrier Cream or the Earth Mama Baby Bottom Balm, both of which are selling in my online shop at www.mypixiebaby.com. These are 2 very effective diaper creams which prevents rash and red butt which can be very sore for them. Reviews on the diaper creams next time.

5. Ru Yi Oil - I simply love this oil. I love the smell of this on my babies! It's supposed to help rid the baby's tummy of gas and I think it really does. If you don't burp baby properly, it might result in them having gas in their tummy which might cause a bit of discomfort. So to help them fart, you can apply a few drops of  Ru Yi Oil on your palm, rub them together to warm it up and gently place them on your baby's belly. I was told to rub it clockwise, but I followed my grandma's method of stroking downwards and LIGHTLY pinching the base of the belly as if you are trying to "pluck" out the wind. Not sure if you understand this. Hahah. I also like to apply the oil to the base of my babies' feet as it has a bit of warming feeling and I feel they always sleep better after doing that.

I think that's about what you need for home use for diaper changes. Let's move on to feeding essentials.

When the twins came back, they each had 6 bottles, 6 teats and 2 pacifiers. Honestly, It was quite crazy but it saved me ALOT of time washing and sterilizing it multiple times. After milk, I will quickly rinse out the milk, put it into a basin and then, when I am almost down to the last bottle, I will wash everything at one go and sterilize all at 1 time. I had to do whatever that kept my sanity as looking after twins with no help was really quite crazy.

1. Bottles and teats - You can choose any brand you like. For hygiene purposes I don't suggest you use preloved ones for these. I liked the NUK ortho teats series and it comes with cute Disney designs!

2. Steriliser (as mentioned above)

3. Pacifier - There are many schools of thoughts on this. I used the pacifier because the twins wanted to latch all the time and my nipples were bleeding from their latching and pumping. I initially did not want to, but I had to save my nipples as it just simply got too painful.

4. Woods Gripe Water / Dentinox Colic Drops - I had both on standby because I was afraid that my kids would be colicky. I didn't have to use it because of good burping techniques taught to me. I did however introduced the Gripe Water diluted with water when the kids were about 6 months and only gave them after their bath. They were also on Neosure to gain weight so my mom recommended to feed some water as their poo was very hard.

Bath essentials. Ah, this would cost quite a bit if you are not careful. When the kids came home, I was using the California Baby body wash for them. Later I found it to be a bit drying for my daughter so I changed it to Mustela and have been using it since then till now. Good skin care is a must. In our tropical weather, babies tend to develop heat rash easily so invest in one that doesn't dry out the skin. A good moisturizer is essential if your baby sleeps in the air con with you. What you will need:

1. Bath towels x 3
2. Bath essentials like your shampoo, body wash etc. I personally love Mustela cause it's very easy to wash off and the smell is very good. Light and very baby-ish. Exactly how a baby should smell like. I used the Mustela Dermo Cleanser and the Mustela Baby Shampoo. SInce then, I didn't have to deal with angry red rashes or dry skin.
3. Moisturizer and baby powder. (Some use powder, some don't. It's up to you.) I used the Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion. It's easy to absorb and very light. Not sticky after application. You can buy these cheaper than retail on my online shop at www.mypixiebaby.com.

After bath, I basically just changed my kids on the changing table or on my bed itself. I didn't fuss around with too many things because the simplier my life was, the better for us.

Other important things to have:

1. Clothes. I recommend buying about 9 to 10 rompers for 1 child. You can decide to let baby wear the romper to bed or just to go out. At home my kids usually just wear rompers and for sleeping use, I bought the long pants from this shop near the Guan Yin Temple in Bugis. It's cheap, like $12 for 6 pairs of long pants. The address of the shop is Blk 269 Queen Street #01-246 (S) 183269, Tel: 6338 3260. The shop is just opposite the Guan Yin Temple and a few steps away from the public toilets.

2. Bath Towels and hanky (used for cleaning milk stains, bath use), muslin cloth - All can be bought from the wholesale shop too. Muslin cloth is good as a burp cloth too. =)

3. A dustbin with a lid. This is for you to throw baby's smelly diapers in and keep the smell at bay.

4. A nightlight. Just so you need not switch on all the lights just to change 1 diaper.

5. I used Aden and Anais muslin cloths as blankies as they were big and light enough for day time when I only used a fan. For night time, I swaddled the babies so I just covered them with the muslin blanket.

6. Socks x 8 - for the cold weather and for going out or wearing it at night. You don't have to buy too many at one go as they outgrow it quite quickly.

7. Digital Ear Thermometer - I used the Braun one. www.mypixiebaby.com is bringing it in soon. Watch out for it!

8. Nail cutter / nail scissors.

9. Hair brush, grooming kit.

10. Beanies (some old people like to say that before the head fuses, wind can enter through the top of the head so we must keep it covered always. I didn't do it though as I found it pretty cumbersome.)

11. Mittens and booties. Also coming soon in www.mypixiebaby.com

12. Nose Frida - I must say this was a life saver when I had to suck out the mucus when the kiddos caught the flu bug. The pigeon bulb one was a useless piece of trash that didn't do much. I think they have one similar one to the Nose Frida but I have never tried it before so I'm not sure if that works fine.

As I was typing this it suddenly occurred I should also include a list of things that were a waste of money!

1. Crib toys. Trust me, I'd rather you play with your baby peek-a-boo instead. Don't waste money buying all those crib toys said to boost eyesight whatever. You will end up throwing it away instead.

2. Cot bumpers. I don't know why I spent so much money buying those. I hardly ever used it as I was more concerned of SIDS.

3. A formula milk stirrer. Seriously. This was a waste of money. Instead of helping to dissolve the milk powder, it ended up making the formula very foamy and almost like a teh tarik. Sigh..

4. The Pigeon brand mucus sucker,. That one with the bulb thingy. It doesn't do anything and can you imagine the stuff that stays inside because you are unable to clean it! Eeewl!

I cannot think of what else was a nonsense buy for now but as I spring clean my room, I will be sure I find more items that were useless! I will add onto this list every now and then.

Till then, thank you for reading and good luck!

Lots of Love,