A bit of good news to share...

We got our visas!

Aqil, Afraz, and I, will be moving to Melbourne, Australia very soon!

I am still trying to let it sink in. I can't believe it's finally happening! It feels so surreal. As of right now, the plan is for us to fly there in mid-December. So I have two more months to pack up my whole life and get my butt (and those of my progeny) there.

It's a bittersweet occasion, though. I find myself often dwelling on the people and things I'll miss. Family, friends, the staff at my neighborhood mamak. Y'know, the important people in my life.

But I know this will be a grand adventure with the love of my life and the two loves of our lives. It'll be crazy, it'll be fun, it'll be us. Together. Finally!

7 Gift Ideas For The Moms In Your Life (That You Can't Buy At The Mall)

Have you ever been stumped when trying to figure out what gift to get for your friend who is a mom? Whether it's a special occasion, or just some way for you to show your appreciation, we've all been there. The gift should show her you care, and it has to be more than just "store-bought". So here are some ideas on what you can get for the moms in your life that you can't just buy at the mall!
  1. Treat her to a day at the spa
    This is such a great gift! Moms usually don't take the time to really treat ourselves (even when it is sorely needed), so treat her to a spa treatment. If she's a new mom who doesn't want to leave her baby, get a masseuse to come to the house, or get the folks at Nails On Wheels to come around and do her nails.

  2. Free babysittingOffer to babysit her baby, in her home, no-strings-attached. If she is anxious to leave her children (normal for new moms especially), offer to babysit while she does whatever she wants at home in a different room or floor of the house. I had a friend who used to come to my house and make me go take a long shower while she watched my babies. Yes, she is the best.

  3. A day out for the kids (which leads alone time or social time for mom)
    If her kids are old enough to be separated from her for an hour or two (probably around 5 years above), treat her kids to an hour or two at Get Crafty, PlayGo, or BlokSpace. The kids can have fun there while being watched by staff, while she can have some time alone or even time to chat with you! This is a great idea for all those childless friends who whine that they never get to have kids-free time with their mom friends. Oh, quick tip: Make sure the kids go to the toilet before dropping them off at the activity centers. Just...uh, just trust me on this. Seriously.

  4. Home-cooked meals for an entire week, sent directly to her
    Whether she stays at home or works outside the home, she will need to feed her family somehow. Give her the gift of free time by doing this for her. You can cook extra batches of your own cooking and send them every day, or use the many food delivery services available in your area (this list of healthy food delivery options by Hype is an excellent start). For her kids, you can order healthy, home-made food from Baby Eats By Justlixa.

  5. A night out 
    Convince her partner or family members to watch her kids for a couple of hours, and take her out for a night out! If all she can have is a couple of hours, why not go for karaoke somewhere with food, like Red Box Karaoke. Fun and food, all in one!

  6. A night in (AKA grown-up sleepovers!)
    Is she a new mom who is anxious about leaving her kids? Does she not have anyone to watch her kids at all? Arrange a sleepover at her place! There was a time in my life that I literally did not have anyone to watch my kids, so my amazing friends would come over for sleepovers so I didn't have to leave my kids to spend time with them (I am blessed, I know). Sometimes it was movie nights, sometimes it was just girly chats, sometimes it was a crazy night of cooking and laughing and falling asleep on mattresses in the living room - each time, it was so special and fun...and exactly what I needed.

  7. Ask her what she's been wanting to do but hasn't had the time to do...and do it for her
    Scrapbooking? Organizing her wardrobe? Collecting items in her home to give away to charity? If she has been wanting to do something for a while, but just cannot find the time to do it, step up to the plate and do it for her! This is a kindness one cannot buy, and is definitely something any mom (or person, actually) would appreciate.

Why Do I Do This To Myself? (P.S: I Know Some Of Y'all Do It Too)

So the other day I was watching this amazing video of an X-Factor UK audition by a girl named Louisa Johnson, which made me cry. And then I clicked on related videos on YouTube...and an hour later, my eyes were completely swollen from watching an assortment of videos including talent show auditions and soldiers returning home to surprise their kids.


Why did I do this?!?! And why am I not the only one? It's not even that I'm sad watching these videos. I'm just...emotional. I think that Kristen Bell's comments on her Epic Sloth Meltdown says it best:

Basically, just like Kristen, I'll cry if I'm too sad, and I'll cry if I'm too happy.

While I'm fairly indifferent to sloths, I can tell you that I shed buckets of tears when I watch talent show audition videos, inspiring human interest stories of overcoming challenges, reactions of kids who are surprised by the appearance of their military moms or dads, or The Notebook.

The worst part is that I sometimes seek this footage out. Like, I want to cry. This strange, almost masochistic behavior, isn't that peculiar. All I'm saying is, I KNOW a lot of y'all do it too.

I like to think that I do it because it's really cathartic. A lot of people would define me as stoic or stubbornly positive (really, someone has described me this way before). But I do experience fear, anxiety, and despair just like any other human being...I just find it hard to be vulnerable with other human beings.

So in the privacy of my own home, watching Susan Boyle killing her epic audition or watching a mother-of-the-bride give a beautiful gift to her daughter before she walks down the aisle, I give myself permission to feel. It's a special brand of satisfaction, I swear.

There is also something to be said for the feeling of elation after the tears. An intense feeling of gratitude for the good bits in my life, or (as the young folks say) having my "faith in humanity restored" usually follows a good cry. Apparently research has found this to be an actual thing that happens, so I'm not crazy!

So give yourself permission to cry, and thank me later for all the videos I've linked to in this post ;)

How Dan & I Cope With Our Long-Distance Relationship

Dan & I have been together 2 years today. Most people know our story already, but if you don't, we basically met on September 12, 2013, while we were both on holiday in Phuket. We fell for each other pretty much immediately, and have been together since. Well..."together" is defined differently for everyone, isn't it? Because while we have been a couple for 2 years, we've only been physically together a grand total of maybe 3 months in that time.

We managed well enough with our long-distance relationship to end up married, so even though I am hardly a relationship guru, I think this is one relationship challenge I can say I have a lot of experience in!

We are looking forward to closing the distance soon. My visa application is being processed and I have ZERO idea when it'll be approved (for all those who ask!), so I'm taking it one day at a time. It's almost more difficult to cope now than it was before, because of the anticipation.

In any case, if you or someone you know is currently in a long-distance relationship and struggling, here are some ways Dan and I cope with our long-distance relationship. Hope this helps!

We Trust Each Other

This is fundamental to any functional relationship, of course, but it becomes that much more important when you are living so far away from each other and can't "keep tabs" on one another easily. I have trust issues (if you knew me around the time of my divorce, you'd know why!), but Daniel worked really hard to prove himself trustworthy to me. It still is a challenge some days, but I can honestly say I trust him 100% with my heart, and I am pretty sure he feels the same way about me!

How: Be transparent with your activities, your social life, your feelings for your partner. In short, be honest and open! 

We Make Our Commitment Clear

Cultivating a relationship while living apart requires extra effort in this department. Dan and I were very clear about what we wanted from the relationship and the level of commitment we expected from each other. This could be wisdom that comes with age and experience (read: we're too old to play games and too impatient for bullshit), but I think that anyone can relate to wanting to feel wanted.

What you can do: Don't try to play coy and mysterious. Be clear about your feelings and expectations. Don't expect your partner to read your mind! 

We Meet As Often As We Can

To be clear: as often as we can. Which may be more or less often than other couples can. In general, we meet every 3 months or so. The longest duration we've been apart was 4 months, and it was very hard. But I know couples who spend up to a year apart at any one time. Whatever it is, making plans to meet is such a great motivation when you're in a long-distance relationship. On the days where I miss him a lot, I do things like check my flight details and plan some kind of itinerary - it helps me cope!

Pro tip: I've only ever been on flights that I got for really cheap thanks to promos. Generally, transportation is cheaper the earlier you book 'em, so plan way ahead to meet so you can save some moolah.

What you can do: Make concrete plans to meet, which means buying those plane or train tickets.  

We Have Date Nights

It seemed silly when we first started this, but it's a big part of our relationship now. We take time, at least once a week, to watch movies or TV shows together. Occasionally, we'll just have a meal and talk. This isn't the same as our daily chats with each other - this is time we carve our especially for one-on-one time, with an activity in mind. The most important thing is that we are doing something together.

What you can do: Pick a DVD that you both can enjoy, and watch it together while on video chat! 

We Share Our Interests With Each Other

Dan knows way too much about One Direction than a normal 30-something male should know. But this just shows how much he takes an interest in my obsession interest. Meanwhile, whenever he sends me silly YouTube clips, I make sure to watch them (no matter how many brain cells I feel I have lost afterwards). We also share a lot of music recommendations with each other, which is fun.

What you can do: A really easy way to do this is to recommend music, books, movies to each other. 

We Communicate With Each Other

Every day. Every. Single. Day. There has not been a single day in the last 730 days where we have not chatted. Whether it's through text or via video chat, we make sure to touch base throughout the day. We frequently have hours-long conversations on FaceTime every night. In fact, the boys have a goodnight chat with their Daddiel every single night (my heart swells just thinking of that).

Funny story: when we first started dating, I would actually put on makeup to FaceTime with him...which meant that I was putting on makeup at like 9pm every night, lol. Oh, and sweet story: When my parents were engaged, my dad was living in the UK while my mom stayed in Malaysia, and they wrote letters to each other every single day for the whole year. Where there's a will, there's a way.

What you can do: Just communicate, yo. E-mail, Facebook, WhatsApp, Line, FaceTime, Skype, Google Chat...there are SO MANY WAYS! 

We Stay Positive

This is probably the #1 most difficult thing to do when you're in a long-distance relationship. Not gonna lie, some days are harder than others. There are days where even a love song can cause me to start sobbing. Being in love with someone 6000km ain't easy...but it is so worth it. And that's what it comes to in the end. We stay positive and we keep encouraging each other to stay positive, because the light at the end of the tunnel is worth the effort.

What you can do: Think of your next meet-up, think of the funny things your partner says, think about how special your relationship is...and remind your partner to do the same. 

3 Ways To Convert Regular Clothes Into Nursing Clothes

I'm a big believer in nursing wear. I just think that it makes it a lot more convenient for moms to breastfeed, which in turn encourages them to breastfeed longer! That being said, I don't think that breastfeeding moms should be stuck wearing nursing clothes for the entire time they are breastfeeding. Sure, there are a LOT of stylish nursing wear out there, but sometimes you want to partake in a very specific current trend, and your only options are non-nursing clothes.

So here are some ways you can convert regular, non-nursing clothes into nursing (AKA breastfeeding-friendly) clothes! (Btw, I used to use these combos when I was breastfeeding, so believe me when I say they work):

1. The Deep V-Neck and DIY Nursing Tank Combo

V-Neck Tee by Cotton On: BUY HERE

This was one of my most favorite combinations when I was breastfeeding. Just pair a deep v-neck top (or even a kimono-style top) with this DIY tank. Simply cut a semi circle opening on the sides of the tank top. I managed to get tank tops for RM10-RM15 at various places, so please don't cut up any of your really expensive tanks!

Simply lower the neck of your tee, and allow your child to nurse through the nursing openings of your tank top.

2. The Button-Up Shirt and DIY Nursing Tank Combo 

Fly Front Long Sleeve Shirt by Hana Tajima for Uniqlo: BUY HERE

Pair a button-up shirt (I love this one from the Hana Tajima collection at Uniqlo, but you can always borrow your hubby's shirt!) with a tank top with side slits which you can DIY in all of 10 seconds, if that.

Just unbutton the first few buttons of your shirt, and your child can access the boob from the nursing openings in the tank.

3. The Loose Crop Top and Regular Tank Top Combo

Basic Zipper Flare Top by Something Borrowed: BUY HERE

Loose crop tops are all the rage right now, and I love this chic one by Something Borrowed. Pair it with a regular tank top, although make sure you choose something stretchy so that you can pull down the tank top while allowing your loose crop top to provide some cover. Discreet!

My Secret Method To Not Let Life Drag Me Down

I get asked this a lot:

"It's really cool that you've been so strong throughout all the challenges life throws at you. How do you stay so positive?"

My usual answer usually goes like:

"I'm really lucky I've got a great support system around me."

"My kids really keep me strong."

"I just really try to count my blessings every day!"

And while these are all true, I have to admit that I've been hiding the real reason I stay positive and strong when times get hard:

I'm really lazy.

Like really, really lazy. It's true. And it's the reason I just don't let life drag me down. I'm genuinely just...too lazy!

Here is what laziness prevents you from doing:
  • Holding a grudge
  • Being perpetually negative
  • Gossiping about people
  • Creating drama

Think about it: How much energy do the above activities use up? The answer is: A LOT. It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge. It is exhausting to be perpetually negative. And gossiping? Well you'll have to work really hard to make up rumors or catch up on the latest rumors...it's a full time job! As for creating drama - damn, you've got to have a lot of dedication and free time for that, I'm sure.

See, for a lazy person like me, it just isn't worth it. I'd rather be doing something that suits my lazy nature, such as:
  • Chillaxing and not letting life drag me down.


(P.S: The title of this post was inspired by this awesome song)

5 Punk Rock Outfits For Moms

I am always re-inventing my own personal style, but no matter what phases I go through, I somehow always find my way back to my punk rock style. There are so many different names for it - edgy, grunge, hipster (?) - but punk rock has a fun ring to it. I have items that I've kept since my teenager that I use to this day, lol.