Hello moms and soon-to-be moms! I have an idea that I believe will help moms collect and share information but before I take the time to build it, I need to know that moms will come. This would be a huge undertaking and labor of love so before I can commit my blood, sweat, tears, time, money, resources and everything else, I need to know that it’ll actually be useful for moms. Please take 5 minutes to take this survey. Your opinion is very important to me so provide as much information as possible. Thanks so much!
It’s a term companies use right when they’re about to go under and are grasping for a chance to stay alive. They hope that by changing their process, market or focus they’ll find that missing link that was keeping them from success. Well, my friends, I’m at that crossroad. After clocking in at my day job, I come home to start my second shift – feeding the kids and getting them to bed. Usually, the kids are down by 9 at which point round three starts – trying to get MomCom going. With only 24 hours in the day, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend on MomCom. And those few precious hours are cut even shorter to maintain this blog. Thus, the impasse. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing these blog posts, I have to remember the bigger picture and that is MomCom. So I’m putting a hold on the blog indefinitely. I’ll write from time to time and will keep you in the loop on MomCom’s progress but it’ll be periodic, not consistent. Hopefully something awesome will happen soon so I’ll have some news to report back. So don’t forget about me completely and check back once in a while. And thanks so much for sticking with me this far – I promise I’ll be back.
Often when we hear about the hardships of our friends or strangers, the common response is “I don’t think I could survive that”. When in fact, we have all overcome adversity that we had initially thought were impossible – failing a class, heartbreak over a first love, never ending job search, long nights with a crying baby. And as we get more invested in life, the bigger our adversities become and the more we have to lose. But for whatever reasons, we still feel unprepared for the struggles that await us and panic at its arrival. However I have found that women, all women, possess amazing strength that we are unaware of. When disaster occurs, that strength finds us and carries us through. Because we, as women, are more resilient than we know and stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
When we think of war, we think of the big bombs and courageous soldiers. But what we forget is that life goes on. That on the same fields where bombs are destroying, there are people marrying, dying, divorcing, growing, laughing, crying and loving. And while we’re familiar with the heroic tales of the soldiers and commanders, what we do not hear are the stories of the women who keep life going. Zainab Salibi tells in her Ted Talk of the mother who puts on puppet shows for her children so that they would not be afraid of the fighting taking place outside their doorstep. The music teacher who kept her school open during the war and had children playing wearing coats, mittens and hats so that they could still have music in their lives. The woman who ran around her village and collected all the flour the moment cease fire was declared so that if there was no cease fire tomorrow, there would be bread for everyone to eat. These women went above and beyond just the call to survive but rose up beyond the tragedy and made something good. Their strength aided not to the end of war but the continuing of life. Because when war ends, and it eventually does, there will be something to come back to, children to carry out the generation and life still flourishing all thanks to these women.
When my dad passed away suddenly, my mom found herself alone for the first time in her life. She had gone from living in her parents’s home to living with my dad. They lived together, they worked together, they did everything together. My dad took care of everything – from home life to the store and driving in between. If my mom had a doctor’s appointment, my dad would drive her the day before so she would know where to go. But in a matter of mere moments, my mom found herself alone. Alone at home, alone at work and alone to take care of all things that my dad had done. My sister and I helped where we could, stayed with her as long as we could and even invited her to stay with us but she refused. This was her way of life now.
Since then my mom has adjusted. She’s been running the store by herself, finding her way to the doctor’s by herself and living in a new place by herself. She comes over and plays with the kids, she volunteers at church and even cooks me food. Where she finds the energy, I do not know. I used to hold my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Its been two years and it never has. I know when her world turned upside down, she didn’t think she could go on but she did and did so with more grace and strength than I thought was humanly possible.
There are moments in my own life when I’m not sure how things will turn out and if I have much more to give. But I remember that deep inside myself, I have a reservoir of strength to draw upon. Strength that have been deposited by my mother and her mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends, the women before me and the women after me. No one wakes up with the thought that today, they will do something life altering. We all wake up and we do what the day asks of us. But its in answering those calls that we find ourselves doing the extraordinary – giving more than what we thought we had in us to give and doing better than we had anticipated. It is only when we look back that we see how hard it was, how much we’ve grown and how much stronger we are now. So, my dear friends, the next time you’re up in the middle of the night worried about how you’ll make ends meet, how you’ll face the day or how you’ll ever go on, take a deep breath and know that you have the strength to face whatever challenge that stands before you. Because you, a women, are amazing and have more strength, more courage, more love than you think you do – I am sure of it!
One of the problems with digital photos is that we usually forget to print them. All of our photos are archived on our phones and computers forever and ever – who has the time to comb through the hundreds of photos, pick out favorites and put it into an album? Thats where Chatbooks comes in. Chatbooks links directly to your Instagram or Facebook so every time you post a picture, that pictures is automatically added to your book. And since each page only holds one picture, no time is wasted trying to figure out the best layout. In addition to the picture, it also captures the description, date and even location. There are many options such as multiple contributors, books for a specified hashtag and uploading directly from your phone (no social media necessary).
I use Chatbooks not as just an album but to journal milestones, funny things the kids do or say and moments I want to remember. It’s a good way to document the milestones without having to create a separate book. If you don’t want to share every moment of your life on social media, you can upload directly to Chatbooks. However, the one downside of Chatbooks is that it doesn’t have the capability to edit photos. You have to use a separate photo editing app then import it to Chatbooks. To get around this, you can create a separate account on Instagram and add that account to your book so that posts from both accounts will be part of your book (you can also add your spouse or other family members). And since Instagram recently updated their app to support multiple accounts, it’s easy to switch between accounts. In addition to the using Chatbooks as a journal, I also have a separate books for all of Lincoln’s artwork. I take a picture, upload it to Instagram on my secret account and hashtag it with #lincolnproject. All pictures with that hashtag are automatically compiled into a separate book and shipped once I fill 60 pages. This makes saving Lincoln’s artwork easy and I don’t have look for new wall space every week.
Another great feature of Chatbooks is the multiple contributors to one book. So if you go on a group trip, you can create one book with everyone on the trip by using the same hashtag. Then all pictures from your group with the hashtag #beachtrip2016 will be automatically added to the book. No more emailing pictures back and forth or trying to decide on a layout! Best of all, you can subscribe a book series so that once you have 60 pages, it will automatically print and ship – all for $8! You can even ship it to multiple recipients (i.e. grandma and grandpa). Chatbooks is a great way to get your pictures out of your phone and into a hard copy with minimal extra effort. As much as I love scrolling through old photos on my phone, there’s something satisfying about looking at them in print. Try it and let me know what you think! And as always, if you have questions or have tips, let me know about that too!
My three year old loves Daniel Tiger and frankly, so do I. There’s no violence, sexual innuendoes and each episode includes a life lesson wrapped in a catchy tune. The other day, we were watching Daniel Tiger and the lesson of day was saying sorry. According to Daniel Tiger’s mom, saying sorry is only the first step. To fully rectify the situation, we have to ask, how can we help? I think this is a lesson many of us have forgotten, myself very much included. We do malicious things or say hurtful words to our friends and loved ones and when confronted, say sorry and expect to be immediately forgiven. Its a familiar scene: you muster up the courage to tell your friend how their comment hurt you, they say sorry, then five seconds later, asks if you’re still mad. Of course I’m still mad! Saying sorry does not relieve the anguish – it’s just the beginning! To complete the apology, we have to ask how can we help make it better? This may include confronting a third party, paying for a damaged object, adjusting our attitude, having some quality time, or picking up the tab after a round (or two) or drinks. In most cases, the perpetuator knows what needs to be done (if you don’t, ask); the hard part is following thru. But an apology is nothing without the after action. So the next time you slip up and find yourself apologizing, remember the words from a very wise tiger and ask how can I help?
Hello Readers! Our good friend, Pamela, is sharing her experiences dealing with the terrible twos as a stay-at-home mom of two kids – Aubrey, 2 1/2, and Evan, 9 months. The terrible twos – that dreaded stage where tantrums can hit without any warnings, test your every nerve, patience and sanity and leave behind a trail of destruction. No shelter can shield it, no parent is immune to it, no discipline/punishment/method/medicine/bribe can prevent it. You just have to buckle down and weather the storm as best as you can. To Pamela and all the parents of toddlers – godspeed.
I think it is safe to say we are in full fledge tantrum hell. Our little soon to be threeanger is a completely different creature than the sweet baby girl who graced our lives these past 2 ½ years. Don’t get me wrong – she is still my best friend and the sweetest girl that I have ever met (of course I say that because she’s deliciously mine). However, this sweet baby girl has an attitude of a teenager girl and no fear of public shame.
I think my all-time low came in the parking lot of Home Depot. It was a beautiful day, one of the first warm days of 2016, Aubrey (my soon threeanger) and I were out pretty much all day. It was as perfect as it can be. With a 9 month old baby boy, it’s rare to get any alone time so I really relished this girls day for us. We picked out some flowers then walked a few doors down to get some pizza together. On the way back to the car, I needed to change her soiled pull-up. As I removed her pants and diapers, she decided she didn’t want to be clothed from the waist down. She threw a tantrum in the middle of the parking lot. With safety and sanitary means in mind I couldn’t just leave her to throw her tantrum. It was nearly impossible to physically hold her up so I gave her a warning then a spanking. At this point, she really didn’t care about being spanked or the punishment. She was going to have her tantrum.
Strangers stared as I struggled to physically hold this demon possessed child in my arms, trying not to restrain her too hard so she doesn’t get hurt. Finally I managed to get her pull-up on and into her carseat. A mere seconds later she was cheerful, happy and snacking on her gold fish crackers. I looked back while driving home and gave her a smile all the while thinking in my head, my child is certifiable.
Sounds familiar? Well, it’s our life right now. A tantrum of some sort or intensity occurs at least once a day. I used to be confused and try to reason or discipline her during these outbursts…bribery, coercion, yelling, threats, etc. What I realized is that my emotions only added to the steam and made me regret my own behavior later on. I’ve learned what works for us for now, is for me to pray in silence for patience and God’s grace. Then I wait for the tantrum to run its course.
I often feel defeated and a failure as a parent. However, Aubrey and I are starting to discuss her misbehavior after a fit. She and I agree that she was not listening and obeying. Sometimes she will even imitate her own hysterical behavior. We’ll laugh and then I set forth the privileges she’s lost due to the tantrum. At best, we have found a way to cope with these dismays. At worst, I dread the imminent coming of the next tantrum. I try to stay positive and think about the countless parents who have endured and survived. My husband and I encourage each other to look forward to the end of this phase. After all, God’s promise is that “this too shall pass”, right? In the meantime, I find myself anywhere between laughing or crying at the thought of my daughter’s terrible tantrums.
I used to have really great memory. I could remember my grocery lists, to-do’s and people’s birthdays without writing any of it down. Of course occasionally I’d come home and realize I forgot the vanilla extract but for the most part, I had a lot of confidence in my old noggin. But as life got busier and more chaotic, my trusty brain became less trustworthy. I ignore it at first, calling it a brain fart or a slip but soon there were too many brain farts to ignore the smell (ba dum chi!). It wasn’t that my brain wasn’t working the way it used to but I just didn’t have as much time to think and process. After years of trying to make the old way work, I finally gave up and found new ways to adapt. After all, I had things to do, little humans to take care – it was time to maximize efficiency.
Declutter email. Without realizing it, I had developed a routine. Every morning, I would open up my inbox and delete the same emails. Most were marketing emails from sites I had subscribed to but 9 times out of 10, I was deleting them without even opening them. It didn’t take a lot of time to delete these emails but they cluttered up my inbox and cluttered my brain.
The emails were also great distractions. Whenever an email claimed sale, I had to check it out. I would spend precious time checking out the site, putting things into my cart, comparing it against others sites only to leave without buying a thing. It was a huge time waster and draining on the wallet because I would buy things I didn’t need. So I singled out the emails that I read consistently (such as news sites, blog feeds) and edited my shopping sites to the stores I wear now (if its a store that you only buy from 1-2 times a year – ditch it) and unsubscribed from the rest. Its amazing how this little change can boost your productivity.
Maximize your calendar. With four people in the house, its hard to manage everyone’s schedules and make plans without a barrage of back and forth texts. To keep track, we put everything into the calendar on our phones. We have three calendars that we share: a family calendar for family events such as birthday parties or the kids’ activities and personal calendars for Mike and me for our individuals events such as work events or a girls night out. So if I’m trying to schedule a dinner with a friend, I can check my calendar to see if Mike has a work event instead of sending Mike a text for available dates, waiting for his reply, then making an angry call asking why he’s not answering my very important text. Additionally, it helps us keep track of our events and a make sure we don’t forget when a class time has changed or the dinner we schedule a few weeks prior.
Write out your grocery list and share it. Mike and I have different lists for different stores (Costco, Wegmans, Home Depot, etc) that we share on our phone. As soon as something runs out, we add it to the list. Not only can I can run in and out of the store without forgetting anything but if Mike makes an impromptu Wegmans run, he can get everything we need without texting me, waiting for my reply then inevitably calling me because I never hear my phone. We do the same with to-do’s around the house or things to pack when we’re going on a trip. It helps to share the daily load and creates a back up system. We use Wunderlist but there are tons of great list-making apps.
Just write everything down. Questions for the doctor, recipes, REI member ID – I put it all in my Notes app that I sync with my gmail which makes it searchable in my inbox. So when I’m buying something from REI online, I can do a quick search in my gmail for REI and there it is. There is an exception to this rule: I do not use it to store my username/password – there are better ways for managing this. But any information that I will need at some future point, I put it in my Notes app.
Slice. Since becoming a parent, I order everything online. No time to go to the mall – no problem. To help track all my packages, I use Slice. Slice will automatically track your packages and notify you when its shipped, out for delivery and when its delivered. It will also notify you if there’s a price drop or a product recall (though I haven’t tested this part yet). Its easy to forget about a delivery (especially with Amazon Prime) but Slice makes sure you get what you paid for.
Are there any apps/tips that you swear by?
Its a popular scene. Girl is sad and moping in her room. Her favorite song comes on and slowly she starts to dance. First, its just a tap of the foot but by the time the bridge is playing, she’s dancing like she’s auditioning for Foot Loose. I’ve always watched these scenes with skepticism. Who really does that? Is one song really going to produce an about-face on a person’s crappy mood?
Well, I did it. I turned off the TV to write a blog about something serious, put my headphones on and sat down to write. But this great song that I had never heard of came on. The beat was catchy, the words were happy and it screamed get up and dance – so I did. I closed my eyes and danced like no one was watching which wasn’t hard at two in the morning. I jumped, bobbed my head like a chicken, high fived a million no ones, and kicked my legs in the air without a care about rhythm or looks. If anyone had seen me, they would’ve thought I was having a spasm or doing some ancient calisthenics – Elaine Benson had nothing on my dance moves. But I didn’t care and man – it felt good! I’ve had my fair share of hitting the clubs and have dance parties with my kids but this was different. Dancing alone, I had the freedom to dance without worry or forethought of my next move. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, a smile crept in and somewhere after the twelfth karate kick I lost all self consciousness and happiness took over. I forgot about the tiredness of the day, the cold I’ve been fighting all week, and my normally reserved nature and started having the best time, pumping my fist all alone in the middle of my living room. So do it – get up, plug in your earphones, close your eyes and dance when no is watching. I promise, it’s every bit as fun as they show in the movies.
To help you get started, here’s the song that got me up and moving. What’s your song?
Dohls, or Korean first birthday celebrations, have become ridiculously ornate – at least in Northern Virginia. Why? No one knows. Even Korean ahjumahs are perplexed, wondering why young moms are losing precious sleep to overproduce an extravagant first birthday party the intended recipient will ultimately not enjoy. But its a thing and in the microcosm of Koreans in Northern Virginia where teenagers drive BMW’s and carry Louis Vuitton purses, the trend is gaining traction. The celebrations are getting more extravagant, looking more like a wedding then a child’s birthday party. So when my baby Charlotte was nearing the one year mark, I was faced with a decision: do I conform or do I dare buck the trend and stand against the man (or in this case, the Ferragamo clad Korean man). I’m not going to lie – I buckled like a shoe. I hired a fancy event planner who planned a fancy event. On December 13, 2015, history was not made. But fun times were had, memories were created and shared and a whole lot of good looking people got together at a good looking venue to share a delicious meal. The evidence is as follows:
Happy Birthday my sweet baby Charlotte!
Does this ever happen to you? Your kid is doing something incredibly cute/hilarious/amazing/dangerous so you reach for your phone to record the moment only to get an error message saying that you’re out of storage and cannot take any more pictures. You scramble to find a few pictures you can live without then rush to your trash to delete them permanently only to find that the moment has passed and your kid is back to picking his nose like nothing ever happened. All the time? My friends, its time to back that thing up!
The obvious answer is to regularly download your pictures to your computer and delete them off your phone. But what if you’ve reached your max storage on your computer? Or you never remember to download your pictures to your computer except those moments when you really need to take a picture and that stupid error message pops up? I’m not even going to mention that backing up is the smart thing to do because you never know when you might drop your phone at the pool or leave it on the plane. Nope, not going there.
There are a couple options for backup storage; the first is a network drive. This is good to have because you have complete control and can store anything you want, not just photos. To move your photos if you’re using Apple’s iPhoto or Photos app, you’ll want to open the library and grab everything from the Masters folder. Whenever you download photos from your phone or camera, make sure to also copy them onto the network drive.
The second option, and one I highly recommend, is to have a backup on a cloud because an external hard drive can break or something can happen to your home (knock on wood). There are many options and I’ll highlight a few. The first option is for anyone who has Amazon Prime. Prime is not just for free 2-day shipping (another post for another day). Amazon Prime also offers unlimited cloud storage for photos for all Prime members. They have a super easy app that will upload all the photos from your phone to your cloud drive as well as a website you can upload your pictures from your desktop. You can even set your phone app to automatically upload new pictures/videos when its connected to wifi so you don’t even have to think about backing up. As amazing as it is, it’s not a complete solution. While you have unlimited photo storage, non-photo storage (aka: video) is limited to 5 G. That sounds like a lot but videos are your largest files and will quickly add up. To get unlimited storage (video and otherwise), it’s $60/year – not a bad price for unlimited everything (photos, videos, documents, etc). But even if you don’t want to pay $60/year, if you are a Prime member, at least take advantage of this free offer and back up your photos. Seriously, do it now.
Apple iCloud is convenient for those with Apple devices because you not only back up your photos and videos but data from your apps or documents if you have a Mac. Pricing is not bad at $0.99/mo for 50 G, $2.99/mo for 200 G, $9.99/mo for 1 T. Just a word of caution: 50 G sounds like enough and 200 G sounds like a lot but it fills up fast. I’m nearing 200 G already and since I have no plans to erase anything, it’s just going to keep growing.
The third option is Google. Google Photos has free unlimited picture and video storage with unparalleled search capabilities. For example, you can search for “cat” to find all the pictures of your cat and it’ll find them for you even without you tagging them. This will be very useful as your photo database gets bigger and bigger. The one caveat is that they limit your resolution at 16 MP for photos and 1080p for videos and will downgrade them. If you’re taking pictures from your phone, its not a problem. Otherwise, upgrade to 100 G for just $2/month. However, nothing in life is free. Google may be using your photos to collect data and targeting ads based on a profile they’ve created with your data. Creepy but honestly, nothing new.
A few other options:
Smugmug – unlimited photo and video, desktop and mobile app, and you can share albums where your friends can download pictures all for $60/year. Many professional photographers also use Smugmug to host online galleries for their clients.
Flickr – free 1TB of storage. There’s ads but who cares even you’ve got a TB of free storage.
Dropbox – as an early adopter of cloud storage, everyone probably already has a Dropbox account which makes adding photos easy. The app is easy to use, it integrates easily with social media, and you can share photos. However, costs are subpar – 2 G free, 1 TB is $10/month, and unlimited is $15/month.
Backblaze – I just discovered them and wish I had found them sooner. Not only is it unlimited backup for all files for just $5/month (or $50/year), they will also run automatic backups for you and even have a computer locator function should you lose your laptop. However, since they’re a backup company and not storage, you can’t browse through all your photos using Backblaze as you would in the aforementioned choices.
A few parting words:
- If you have Amazon Prime, download the Amazon photos app ASAP for Apple or Android
- If you don’t have Dropbox, create a free one here. This is a good-to-have for when you want to share files (music, photos, documents) or if you want a secure place for them.
- If you’re thinking of getting a network drive, I recommend getting at least 1 TB. You’ll thank me later.