Monday, June 4, 2012

We Have Moved!

Hi there! Thanks for visiting Mommy Cafe! In case you're wondering about the lack of activity on this blog recently, it's because we've moved!

Yes, for the past two weeks, I've been busy migrating and learning how to use the new blogging platform. So happy to announce that I've finally got the hang of it *pat on my own back*

Hop over the new blog now; the look and feel is pretty much the same, so you'll feel just right at home *smiles* 

Please click here and it go to the new Mommy Cafe blog! See you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Results of the Mother's Day Giveaway

Sorry for being late in posting the results of this giveaway! As there are only three participants, so I've decided that the winners will be the first two entries. So congratulations to:

Mich & Adeline Oon!

Please email me at with your full name and home address so we can get the book mailed to you! Hope you will share some insights you've gleaned from this book with me! :)

Thanks Melissa Chor of Image Harmony for sponsoring this giveaway!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Lesson in Perseverance

The words came out of his mouth most unsuspectingly.

We were playing with a pair of toy chopsticks and I asked him to try to use it to pick up some felt balls. Without even attempting a try, he merely paused for a brief moment before declaring with a cute face, "I don't know!"

"I don't know"? Since when did he learn those words and from whom? Ok, redundant question. If it's not from the parents, then it's most likely from school.

While I think it's good to admit that you don't know how to do something, it's not a good idea when you decide that you'll not want to at least give it a try.

That was exactly what my boy did. After saying those words, he sat back, looked at me and said, "Mommy do!"

While it may be no big deal in the eyes of another parent (after all he’s just a two year-old right?) but it was enough to sound off an alarm in my head.

Think I overreacted? Well, you need to understand what kind of mom I am.

Big on values

of course, I'm no supermom, in fact, far from it. I know my weaknesses – I find it a constant challenge to come up with interesting educational crafts and activities to do with my boy. I even use it as an excuse sometimes not to think of something and just let him do free play (after all we sent him to school right? He should have quite a bit of structured play and learning in class).

I once thought I’ll be quite the kiasu mom who diligently trains her son into a future Einstein, but I quickly realised that it doesn’t resonate with me.

I discovered that I’m big on VALUES, as well as EQ. I believe that if I inculcate the right values and principles in my son, help him develop good communication and interpersonal skills, he will go far in life.  Look at how many of the successful people aren’t usually the smartest students in class and you’ll know what I mean.

Plus I’m never for the corporate rat race, I think it sucks. I mean, your income will never truly reflect your capability and hard work, and the best worker doesn’t always get the next promotion he deserves.

So if you ask me what’s my dream for my son, it will not be that he will grow up and get the President Scholarship and then walk down a career path that someone has laid out for him, no doubt it’s gonna be quite a cushy path and daddy and mommy will not have to worry about his college tuition fees and can use the money to travel round the world!

I’m not saying that he can then neglect his studies, I think it’s still good to acquire knowledge and learn to be as smart as he can. If not, he’s gonna get eaten up by the sharks!

But I wish he will be an enterprising individual who has the freedom to pursue his passion and live a fulfilled, meaningful life. Oh, I wish too, that he will earn lots of money. Not so that he will live a life of luxury (he can indulge a bit). I hope he will have greater means to change the world and make it a better place, and people who have the money can do so much more than those who don’t.  Heart plus money – it can be real powerful!

Success is usually just another try away

Anyway, I digressed!

Back to the “I don’t know” - I felt that it was an important learning moment, regardless of whether he really understood where I was coming from. I wanted him to learn perseverance and the importance of not giving up easily, and I believe values need to be inculcated from young.

So I told him if he doesn’t know how to do it, he can say so and asks me to teach him.

I took his small hand in mine and showed him how to use the chopstick. When he finally managed to pick up a ball on his own, I cheered and applauded will all my might and heart.

I ended the play session saying, “See Kenan, you can do it! Don’t say you don’t know, at least try.”

A few days later, he was playing with his wooden blocks and was building something. I was at the dining table working.

Suddenly, he shouted, “I can do this, yeah!” I couldn’t believe my ears. I stopped whatever I was doing, rushed over to his side and hugged him tightly. The joy I felt was immense. I’m not sure if it was because of what I taught him days before, but still I am overjoyed.

 Son, that’s the right attitude. Well done and keep it up! Persevere and don’t give up easily, because success is usually just another try away.

Do you feel like giving up on something? Or you have a dream, tried pursuing it but failed. Well, don’t let go of your dream too quickly and easily. Not everyone succeed on the first try. Give it another go, your dream is worth every second chance. If you don’t give yourself that chance, who will?

So go and be that strong woman and mommy. When you persevere with your goals and dreams, your child will also learn to pursue theirs with the same tenacity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Reflections

Mother’s Day has just passed, how has the day been for you?

I had initially planned on writing a Mother’s Day post, but just couldn’t get the words out. To be honest, it felt just like any other day, except that the husband’s little surprises this year made it all so special for me, even when I didn’t feel that way.

First, there was the cake…

Then a card which made me cry...

Even the son did his part with a card he made in school (I asked him who is it for, he said it’s for himself! *LAUGHS*)

But touched as I was, I couldn't help feeling guilty. Guilty that I have been working too much lately and haven’t spend enough time with my boy; guilty that besides play, I haven't been doing much learning related activities with him; guilty that I have been spending more time online than being present with my son.

But as the "mommy guilt" grew, I realised I better stop berating myself as it does nothing to make the situation any better.

As I reflected on what I'm feeling, I am making a commitment this Mother's Day to change and to be a better mom.

I will set aside time for my son every day, remembering that he’s the very reason I’m a WAHM.

I will be more organised and stay focused when I work (no distractions from FB, Twitter etc.) so I don’t waste precious time and end up complaining there isn't enough time.

I will remind myself not to be a 'kiasu' mom and that it doesn’t matter if some of my boy’s peers can count up to 20, if he’s not ready to do so, so be it. He’s just a two year-old, let him enjoy his childhood, some things can wait.

On the same note, I will take time to discover and nurture my son’s unique gifts and talents, remembering that what other parents do don't necessarily benefit my son nor will he lose out if we don't follow suit.

Lastly, I will stop comparing myself with other moms. My boy doesn’t need a mom who’s feeling inadequate and lousy about herself, he needs a mom who feels happy being a mom and believes in her own strengths. I will stop berating myself and instead look at how I can improve and be a better mom and individual.

I want to add that being a mom is a special blessing every day, and not just on Mother’s Day. It include those days when everything seems to be going wrong and the house is in an incredible mess, the kids are throwing incessant tantrums and you lost it and yelled at them. It definitely doesn’t feel like it's such a blessing on those days, but isn't the very fact that our kids are with us something precious and worth giving thanks for as a mom?

Do you sometimes feel the "mommy guilt" or sense of inadequacy as a mom? How do you deal with these feelings?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Work & Entrepreneurship Series: To Nurture the Young

Hi! After a long break, we are back with another entrepreneurship story.
Sabrina Quek is mom to two beautiful children ages five and two. A preschool teacher before starting her family and passionate about teaching young children, she founded  NurtureWorks in 2009 to provide enrichment programs for children as young as four months old to primary school. The company specialises in music and movement, brain development and dance programs.

Interview with Sabrina:

1. Is NurtureWorks your first business venture? If not, what other businesses have you had or are still running?
I had a diaper bags and baby clothes online business about two years before NurtureWorks, I have since closed this online business to concentrate my efforts and time fully on my current business.

2. What challenges did you face when starting your business and how did you overcome them? 
I had difficulty getting assignments for myself and my teachers, as most centres wanted more established names to run programs in their centres. I overcame this setback by marketing my programs to my ex-polytechnic course mates who were running childcare centres. With that, my program got around through word-of-mouth, I also started a home-based and private baby and toddler playgroup program to start generating a customer base. It was a good way to fine-tune my programs.

Being a mum with two young children, time is also a challenge. The year I was pregnant, and also after my confinement with my second child was especially tough because I did not had any employees yet.  To overcome this issue, I asked some friends who had teaching background to relief me once in awhile when there was no one that could take care of my baby girl. About six months after I gave birth, I finally found my first employee. Now I have three teachers working for me.

3. What are three things you did that contributed the most to growing your business?
Marketing through the right channels. Instead of marketing to the mass market by distributing flyers, I concentrated my efforts to people I know to help me.

By starting with very low capital. I started this business without taking on a property/venue to run the program. This way I am not tied down to monthly rental and overheads.

Starting with home-based and private playgroup programs to build my customer base, who in turn helped me with the informal marketing of my business,

4. How do you deal with competition from other similar businesses?
I realise many people go for overseas brands which are more established etc. So I find a niche, which are my home-based programs and private playgroup programs.

5. What do you enjoy most about the business, and what do you like least?
I enjoy teaching babies and children, and meeting parents. I also enjoy mentoring my younger teachers. Doing administrative requirements is my least favourite!

6. What are three important lessons you learnt from running your business?
First, stick to realistic targets and set realistic challenges. Second, stay focused and disciplined; learn to set priorities for work and home. Lastly, persevere. The first two years are tough for most businesses, even for my business, though we are into the third year, we are still small but growing slowly.

7. What business achievements are you most proud of?
When other business investors like my business idea and want to help me grow the business. Now I am also in the midst of turning the business into a social enterprise. I am going to have my programs be available to low-income families.

8. How do you strike a balance between work and family commitments?
For me, its always family first. I spend most of my daily time with the children, as I am also homeschooling them. I only do my work at night or during free time, such as when my parents help take care of the children during weekends.

9. What sacrifices have you had to make to start your own business?
I had to sacrifice many Sundays, while the kids are their grandparents, foregoing my own time for shopping, watching movies etc. and instead to spend time on program-planning and marketing efforts.

10. What three pieces of advice do you have for those aspiring to start their own business, especially moms? 
Do your market research, and find out what will work best for you business.
Make it like a family-business. For example, my husband chilps in to help with my business too, he is my unofficial photographer, technical support and business advisor! For free! Finally, persevere, do not give up. It takes a couple of years for most business to pick up.

I hope you've enjoyed this interview and that it has inspired you in some ways. If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and would like to share your story with us, please email me:

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Shop Smarter: Three Fashion Shopping Tips for Busy Moms (Plus a Giveaway!)

This week, we are celebrating Mother’s Day here on Mommy Café. I’ve invited a friend from the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), Melissa Chor, to share some fashion shopping tips for moms. 

In my many years as an expert shopper and style consultant, I have come to one conclusion: ALL women (no matter what they say) LOVE to shop. It’s in our DNA. Women are also emotional beings and shopping meets our emotional needs to a certain extent. Hence, we shop when we are happy or when we are sad. When making shopping decisions, we are often ruled by our hearts more than our heads. This explains why some of us make shopping mistakes over and over again.

Whatever your shopping challenges are, apply these three principles and you will soon find that you can shop more effectively and still have fun!

1. Spring-clean your wardrobe
You need to get rid of the old before putting in the new. Do this once every two years or annually if you shop very often. Discard or donate stuff that you have not worn for more than a year. Get rid of clothes that are worn out and faded or remind you of unhappy memories! You want a wardrobe that you can cherish and feel happy about every time you see it.

Once you have done that, reorganise your clothes by occasion such as work, leisure and home. Then organise your individual wardrobe by colour, type (dresses together, pants together etc…) and design (printed ones together, long sleeve tops together etc...).

This will give you a clear idea of what you now have at a glance. You may find that you have too many clothes in the same boring hues, so add instant style into your wardrobe with a dash of colours. Or you have too many tops and not enough bottoms to match, so you need to get more bottoms on your next shopping trip. With regular spring-cleaning and proper organisation, you will be able to identify what you really need to make your wardrobe work for you.
2. Stick to the basics

Whether you are revamping your wardrobe or developing a brand new one, always start with the basics first. Now, what do I mean by that?

Basics refer to the foundation of your wardrobe. You need to have a basic set of wardrobe which never goes out of style and is easy to coordinate with just about everything in your wardrobe currently or new purchases. Items such as a classic white shirt, a slim skirt, tank tops, a well-tailored jacket and a pair of straight cut pants will help you to maximise your entire wardrobe. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you should invest in several plain coloured tops, a pair of bootleg cut jeans, an A-line skirt and a few pairs of casual pants/shorts.

You can start with a five, seven, nine etc… basic pieces. Keep the colours neutrals (e.g. black, blue, gray, white and beige) and the style simple and plain. Then you can add on new pieces in different styles, colours and prints to jazz up your wardrobe. It is much easier to build on a basic set of clothing than a variety of styles. (Refer to images below)         

3. Plan for a shopping day

As a busy mom juggling multiple roles and tasks daily, I can imagine what little energy you will have left for shopping! While family, work and commitments are your priorities, you need to always set aside some “Me” time. I am sure you can find some hours to set aside for a little shopping if you so desire.

Don’t shop in between rushing from one appointment or task to another. You may end up not trying out the outfit or grabbing the same old stuff. Then when you reach home, you realise that the outfit is not that great after all or it is the same boring style as what you already have by the dozens in your wardrobe!

Some of my clients dislike shopping because they found it unproductive i.e. they return empty-handed or didn’t like what they bought. Upon my probing, they eventually confessed that they either did not try on the clothes or went for their comfort style due to lack of time to shop properly. So, do plan a time and date for your shopping where you will not be distracted by a thousand and one tasks.

Melissa Chor is a certified image professional (CIP) with the AICI, one of only a handful of CIP members in Singapore.

Passionate about helping clients to look fabulous and confident, Melissa has transformed many individuals’ personal styles to reflect their capabilities, potentials and personalities. Melissa founded Image Harmony, in 2007 and offers a wide spectrum of image services such as colour analysis, style personality assessment, make-up tutorial, wardrobe revamp and personal shopping in local and overseas countries.  

She currently serves as Secretary and Chair of Philanthropy on the AICI Singapore Chapter Board of Directors, 2011-2013. 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Melissa for the wonderful tips! She has many more principles on how to shop effectively. To find out more, get a copy of her book ‘Born to Shop – Guide to Making Your Shopping Fun and Fabulous!’. It’s available for purchase on her website.

Giveway Contest
As Mother’s Day is approaching, Melissa has generously offered to give away TWO copies of her book, and personally autographed too!

This is how to take part:
3. Leave a comment on this post or on Mommy Café’s Facebook page, sharing with us the main style/fashion challenges you face. Melissa will address some of your style issues in the next blog post (so keep a look out for it!).
4. The contest will end on 12 May 2012, 11:59pm.
5. The two winners will be randomly picked, results will be announced on this blog and on Mommy Cafe's Facebook page.
6. Please note that this giveaway is open to readers residing in Singapore... and internationally!

All the best everyone!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We Are Celebrating Mother's Day!

Hi! In the coming week, Mommy Cafe is celebrating Mother's Day! All posts will be for moms and about moms.

Just to give you a  peek of what's coming up, there will be a post on tips for fashion shopping for busy moms, interview with a mompreneur, as well as a giveaway!

So do join us next week, see you!


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