Dance When No One Is Watching

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?

Charlotte’s Dohl

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:

Charlotte-14

 

Dohl Table
Destiny: Musician
Photo Table

Charlotte-74Charlotte-81

Happy Birthday my sweet baby Charlotte!

Venue: 2941 Restaurant
Event Planner: Party Eve
Photographer: Sincereli

Transitions: This one is for the mommies

You know the age old “mommy wars” – outside of home working mom versus stay at home (also working) mom??  Yeah, I’m pretty sure most moms do not even see this as a real point of contention. Let’s face it, we all know that raising kids (regardless of what else you are doing) is way harder than any other thing we could possibly do… that is why God created wine :).  I have had the pleasure of experiencing both scenarios and love things about staying home while I also really love things about working outside of the home.  I am literally writing this on the eve of transitioning back to working full time after staying home with my three littles for the past year and a half.  The emotions are endless and way more exhausting than I thought they would be.  Let’s face it, I worked full time up until we picked up our little family of 5 and moved to Seoul, Korea a year and a half ago. At that point, I had to quit my full time job in order to move across the world, but hey, there was a new adventure brewing. I spent the next year and a half working as a taxi driver (not paid, of course, because my kids only make 1 dollar a week for allowance). I loved almost every minute of it. There was laughter and tears and a lot of candy bribes. Overall, I consider myself lucky to have the chance to experience that with my kids.

Tomorrow, I will return to work full time at the US embassy and I am excited as ever.  A new challenge awaits, new things to learn and people to meet.  However, tears will flow tonight. I will doubt myself and wonder if I am doing the right thing. I will worry about my kids endlessly.  Will they miss me in the afternoons after school? Will they resent that they cannot do all of the fun extra-curricular activities they used to do?  Will they feel a bit abandoned by me?  The likely answer is yes to all of these, at some point. But that is okay!  As Mothers we will constantly second guess ourselves and how we are doing.  We will sometimes wonder if we made the wrong choice or if our kids could be happier.  We will sometimes worry and stress.  Knowing that, I’m ready. I’m ready to show my kids that their mommy can pursue her interests and still be an amazing parent to them.  I say all of this to get it off my chest but to also say that I have been on both sides of this so called, “mommy war” and it doesn’t exist.  We are all just doing what we need to for our families and ourselves. Support each other because we all need someone to say that we are doing a great job once in a while.  Great job mommies!!! Now, I’m off to prep lunches, school clothes and dust off my work clothes… wish me luck

The In-Between: Post Partum Fashion

When I gave birth to my first daughter in 2008, I’m sure I was the joke of the day for the nursing staff.  I literally gave birth and then pulled out my carefully packed hospital bag and asked the nurse how I was supposed to wear my (pre-preggo) jeans and thong underwear with all of the other stuff that you have to wear after birth.  I seriously had no clue.  And it didn’t end there…. I returned home to some maternity leave and then returned to work a few months later with no clue what to wear for months on end.  I find that post partum wardrobes are discussed but only in regards to the immediate post partum time frame. What about women like me, who happen to not return to their pre-pregnancy weight / size for quite a while, if not ever?

I came to the realization that I quickly became too small for my maternity clothing and too big for my pre-mommy clothes but that really left me with nothing to wear other than pajamas and spandex (not the hottest thing to wear when you aren’t feeling superhot to begin with).  Pajamas, sweats and the like were all fine and good until I wanted to go out somewhere in the real world.  Returning to work also proved difficult.  Not only did I have to tear myself away from my little one but I felt like I either looked like I was swimming in my clothes or I had squeezed myself into a skirt suit that was way too small.  Not to mention, any nursing mothers will know that as the hours pass, anything that seemed to fit well before you left the house, now is obscenely small in the chest area… the epitome of “Not Safe for Work”!

The tough thing here is that, not only do we not have time to shop as new moms but we also don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on clothes that we will possibly not be wearing for that long.  By the way, why hasn’t someone started a post partum clothing line??? Perhaps there is one and I just haven’t found it but, BRILLIANT!

Here are a few tips that will help you feel great and still allow you enough money to buy toys, food and all that other expensive baby stuff:

Wear a tank top under your shirt.  This will allow you to nurse easily if nursing and will help you feel a bit more secure about your tummy area. I was a nursing mommy for all three of my littles so I wore tanks that I could easily pull down from the top to nurse – this allowed me to pull up my top shirt without exposing my midsection to everyone and freezing to death in the winter months. I also am a fan of the slimming (tight fitting) tanks / camisoles to wear under things because it feels like everything is being held in.

Awesome accessories:  I totally believe in accessorizing paired with solid basics.  You can wear slimming, sophisticated colors like black but it will look so much cooler paired with a gorgeous long necklace. You may have to forego huge statement pieces but a long, eye catching necklace will help direct someone’s eye and just make you feel good. Bracelets are great but sometimes bulky and can just plain get in the way when dealing with a baby so feel free to ditch or if you are going out for the night, sport a gorgeous bangle. No need for too much but it will make you feel like you put some effort in.

I love this necklace from Coco Hill:

necklace

When in doubt and you don’t want to use a necklace, I would add some small gold or silver earrings that baby can’t tug on but will gain you points on the sophistication scale and make you feel more polished.

Jeggings and leggings – The obvious way to look pretty chic but also feel comfortable. The great thing about leggings is that they go perfectly with something loose on top. I like to pair them with something a little longer that covers my rear such as tunics, long shirts, or cardigans. I love Zella leggings because they are thick, not see through and they hold their color. Ingrid and Isabel make some great black maternity leggings and you can fold down the top after baby for continued use!

Tunics, blouses, and cardigans / Shawls. I’m just going to come out and say it: tunics are awesome. They are long enough to cover the booty but short enough to still be categorized as a shirt so you can wear leggings underneath and not worry about shaving your legs. Tunics + leggings are an easy and fantastic combo for weekends or work at home mommas. For a casual look, a bright colored shirt may work well for you and make you feel like you are sporting something other than black. If you have to go into an office, I would opt for a blazer or a cute longer cardigan to feel comfortable but still look stylish. Long cardigans are a must actually if you want to hide any lumps or bumps. Anthropologie has a great assortment of cardigans and shawls.

cardigan

If you google this topic, you will see a lot of people mention wearing comfortable flats. I would disagree unless the outfit calls for flats. I love me some heels and, let’s face it, you have probably been in flats for months while you were pregnant so I say glam it up with some gorgeous heels. Wedges or shoes with a thicker heel can help the transition be a little easier. It will make you feel sexy, fun and will even make your work outfit feel more polished and professional.

Dresses:  If you have a baby near the summer months, consider yourself lucky. You can throw on some maxi dresses and slip out the door looking cute as can be!  Flowy skirts and dresses are every woman’s best friend when it is warm and sunny outside.  I personally prefer solid or block colors as opposed to prints when I feel like I need something flattering. Something along these lines would be beautiful:

skirt

I also love blouses but I personally always need a camisole of some sort underneath or my belly feels a little too “out there”… if you know what I mean.

Office Look:  For the office, invest in some nice black pants that fit well and make you feel good. These are a good investment… even if you end up losing baby weight, you can have them tailored and still wear them.  If you are going to spend some money, spend it on nice black pants.  Black for work is very slimming, makes you feel great and works well.  You can pair this look with a few accessories and look and feel fantastic!

Now, let’s be honest… your outfit can be amazing but if your hair and makeup are a mess, it’s all for not.  The problem here is time… moms just don’t have it! So let’s go over some great hair and makeup hacks, tricks and ideas to help you look and feel your best:

If you can, splurge on a trip to the salon within the first three months of having your baby!  It will make you feel great.  If you don’t want a cut or color, you can always make your way to a blowdry bar and pamper yourself a bit.  Dry shampoo will seriously be your BFF… don’t leave home without it. A favorite is Kevin Murphy Doo Over – it smells great and it’s a combination dry shampoo and setting spray. If you don’t have a great dry shampoo on hand, you can also use translucent face powder on your roots!

Now on to make-up!  I was never great at makeup and to be honest, my “day” and “night” makeup looked exactly the same. That, added to having three kids and no time, makeup took a backseat.  I treated myself to a skype one on one makeup course with Behrens Artistry which has helped me in so many ways.  Let’s make this simple and quick because most women just don’t have time in the morning… kids or not.  Start with some concealer like a BB or CC cream (there are so many great brands but I love SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 or BeautyCounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer).  Throw on some blush or you can even use lipstick as blush if you don’t have any with you, some mascara and lipgloss and you are out the door!  I also have been known to use a little oil (like BeautyCounter’s Lustro Oil) as a hightlighter (dab some down the bridge of your nose and under your eyes / on your cheekbones).

Let us know your post-partum fashion thoughts!! This is a beautiful time in life and you should feel beautiful too!

Back That Thing Up

 *This post first appeared on my Instagram but I’ve updated it with new information.

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.

Hello and Welcome!

Hello! Happy New Year! Happy Early Martin Luther King Jr Day!

I never know how to start these posts so I’m just going to jump right in. Like Lauren posted, we’re working on a project that’s aimed at connecting moms and facilitating real conversations. We’re in the very early stages so there aren’t too many details to share but we’ll be writing them here as the project progresses so I hope you’ll follow along. We’ll also be writing about things we find interesting, things we find to be helpful, funny things, everyday things as well as tech-related things so there’s something for everyone – not just moms.

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about this project and she asked me a very interesting question. She knew I had been thinking about another project, one that was smaller, easier to implement and applied to a wider group of people. To her, it made more sense to start with that project first. She was right but here’s the thing: I feel like not many people are looking out for moms, especially when its tech-related. As someone in the tech field, I hear the statistics all the time: Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold just 25% of the jobs in technical or computing fields. Women today represent 18% of all computer science graduates. If the tech world is dominated by men, who’s looking out for the best interest of moms? The best example of this is the breast pump – why hasn’t technology progressed? Its painful, loud and not as effective as it should be – there has to be a better way, no?

Well, I have an idea that I believe will help other moms. It’s a good one, something I’m convinced of every time I talk to other moms about it. Its a big undertaking, no doubt. And its happening at a time when life is already too hectic and most days I feel like I’m barely getting by.  But this is important. And if I don’t do it, I’m not sure that someone else will. Lauren and I don’t have all the skills to make it happen and we’re certainly new to this startup world but we’re willing to learn. And if we fail, at least we can say that we tried.  After all, its about the journey and not the destination, right?

Here We Go!!

Hi All!

If you are reading this, you are probably a friend of either Minsun or mine (Lauren) because we are just starting out our adventures in blogging.  We appreciate you taking the time to visit our site and check out what we are up to!  It is now officially 2016 and now that the New Year is upon us, we are geared up to really pursue some adventures!! So, this is both scary and exciting and I’m praying that my writing gets better with time (it has been a while since I have had to write anything other than a work email). We have started this blog in order to discuss whatever is on our minds but also to document our adventures in entrepreneurship.  You heard it here… we are currently working on a project that we hope will be much more than an application.  I will let Minsun explain her vision more in a post but it all started with the need to express what is really going on in life and ask REAL questions with UNFILTERED discussions. So much of our social media lives are really just a highlight reel, right (be honest)? I don’t know about you but I need somewhere to ask more personal questions, find information, be genuine without the fear of someone judging me and support my friends, family or a stranger in need of help. We realize that we are embarking on an uphill battle.  Our incredibly busy lives don’t need extra work added, yet we still get excited and brainstorm and draw out screen shots on napkins in front of the Apple store (yes that really happened).  We are doing this and we hope that you support us along the way by reading our blog posts / adventures and give us feedback ;).  I know it isn’t really clear what we are doing yet… I actually am keeping it somewhat vague because I haven’t spoken with Minsun about how much we want to put out there yet but just know that it will be really cool.  We will be documenting a lot of our process through this blog but will also be blogging about things happening in our lives, work, love, kids… everything.  If you have made it this far, thank you for enduring my terrible writing skills for a few minutes and Happy New Year!!! 2016 will be a year of hurdles and firsts for us!!  Follow along with us and let’s have some fun!