Friday, August 1, 2014

Look Who's Speaking! #BeGreatB6

Happy August! A couple days ago I switched that Blogalicious button on the side from "I'm attending" to "I'm presenting!" This will be my 3rd Blogalicious (you can read my recaps here and here) and the whole family is coming along to San Antonio, the site of Blogalicious November 6-8. Although I've been blogging since 2009, I only started attending blogging conferences in 2012 when BlogHer was in NYC (recap here) and from the get-go I set my sights on speaking especially as a certified Toastmaster.

At Blogalicious5
Here's a snippet of my session in the program guide, and you can find the full schedule here:



Oh and there's still time to register for the conference - you can do that here!

Have you attended a blogging conference before? Will I see you at Blogalicious? 
 
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quiana, Mother of Dragons (or My 5 Truths About Being a Mom of 2)

Thank you to Mr. Lovebird for his photography skills!
I've now been a mom of 2 for a little over a month and the entire time this post has been formulating in my head. As most of my longtime readers know, since having 2 kids was a long time coming I have quite a few perceptions, and I've been cautiously comparing them to reality. 

Here are my 5 truths I've learned so far about being a mom of 2:

Spacing and age (of kids) does matter: I cannot fathom having a toddler in diapers at the same time as having a newborn. I know people have done it (including my own mother!), and I stand in awe. Having a preschool-aged child (Nia turns 4 in two weeks) has made being a mom of two much easier than it would've been otherwise. A few moms who have similar spacing had told me this before and now that it's reality I find that it's absolutely true. Nia is such a help, and it makes a big difference that she's nearly self-sufficient. 

Throw your to-do list out the window: As a Type A, get-it-done type of woman, hardly anything is getting done around here! Take that back - maybe 3 tasks get done each day. That is a takeaway from ALT Summit where Hilary Rushford and Whitney English shared in the Overcome Overwhelm Session that one can really only accomplish 3 major tasks each day. I've found that about right especially now. Some days those tasks are: drinking all the water I'm supposed to, taking my vitamins and getting a shower; other days it's cleaning the floors, doing a load of laundry and publishing a blog post. My standards are now substantially lowered.


Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First: I have an entire post in mind based on this concept so eloquently discussed by fellow blogger Tara at The Young Mommy Life, but essentially it is a constant learning process especially now with two, to remember to engage in self-care. Leading up to my pregnancy I was getting back into the groove of it, but I've let it slide a bit. Now it's even simple things like scheduling beauty appointments for myself so I have something to look forward to or even taking a nap when Gray naps. I'm the better mommy for it too! I'm especially looking forward to my post-partum check-up with my midwife next week so I can get started at my new neighborhood gym I joined months ago and finally opened recently. Pre-kids, I used to be a 5a.m./5 days a week gym rat and while I doubt I'll get back to that anytime soon, I'm gonna get close! Besides I have Vegas coming up soon and gotta get ready...

Having Help is Crucial: I've felt more supported this time around and having Uka more physically present has helped immensely. Also, my community has been helpful as well and I'm especially thankful to those who have taken Nia out and about while I've been taking care of Gray. Since this summer is nearly over, knowing that Nia will be going back to full-time preschool is also a help unto itself (hooray for free PK3 & 4 in our city!). I appreciate having this summer together as well as classes I've been able to take her to, but I can tell she misses the social aspect of school. 

Making Comparisons Can't Be Helped: Perhaps this blog is to blame, but it's so easy to refer back to what Nia was doing as each stage (yes, I know it's only been a month!). Honestly, it even started during pregnancy: Nia was super active in the womb and was that way out of the womb (still is!) while Gray was chill in the womb and so far he is, much more so than his sister (Gray's full one month recap is here). 

As challenging as transitioning to a mom of two has been so far, it's definitely manageable, and I'm confident that I'm capable. I know the harried feeling starting out is temporary, and I'll get in my groove soon enough!

Any other moms of 2 out there? What are your truths? 

 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life With Gray: One Month Old


Yesterday we headed into the city for Gray's one month doctor's appointment - it was a family affair:



I cannot believe how this little guy's grown! I remember Nia's growth escalated pretty quickly but Gray's measuring a month ahead of her (and she's still nearly off the charts herself). He's quite the hefty boy! Check out the full recap for more details:
  • Baby's Weight: 11lbs, 1oz - he was born 8lbs exactly and lost a bit upon discharge; 48 hours later at his first well visit he had gained 13oz already
  • Baby's Height: 22" (he was 20" at birth)
  • What size of clothing does baby wear?  Gray can still fit into some newborn clothes, but 3 months fits best; he's mostly been in his sister's hand-me-down newborn gowns anyway!
  • Any milestones baby reached during the month: We gave cloth diapers a try a bit earlier than we did with Nia but with his skinny thighs we're going to formally hold off since blow-outs are epic. Since this is our last baby we won't be investing in newborn cloth diapers - we'll just use conventional diapers until he gets thicker. Also during tummy time he can turn his head from side to side; he's also started cooing - you can hear it a bit in this video (which was shot by Mr. Lovebird vertically - a pet peeve of mine!):




  • Special outings baby had during the month: If you follow me on Instagram you see I've been tracking our birthday party attendance this season, and he went to his first two weekends ago - I keep him bundled in his Moby or in his carrier to minimize others touching him!
  • What are your thoughts about the past month? It was definitely made sweeter by an easier recovery than last time (full birth story to come). I feel like I took great care to cherish the newborn stage, but had a bit of sadness with Gray as I did with Nia reflecting on the dependency of a newborn especially during a moment when I noticed Gray had an eyelash in his eye. It's a moment I remember having with Nia as well. I know how annoying it can be to have an eyelash in your eye, but the fact that there's no way for him to specifically communicate it and as with Nia, Gray didn't cry about it or show visible discomfort made me sad. I know it sounds strange, but that's how I feel!  
  • What was baby's routine? We're up for the day around 8a.m. (although Nia tries to get us up earlier), and he eats every hour unless he's sleeping, then I'm engorged. As with Nia, I feed Gray on demand. I don't feel like he's awake as much as Nia was though. He's a pretty drowsy baby and prefers to sleep on me even crying in the Moby so I can take him out and still hold him so most of the day I'm holding him asleep or nursing him. Part of me doesn't mind especially because he's my last baby (Lord willing!). His routine also involves a lot of spit-up too. He spits up much more than Nia ever did. I can count the times on one hand that she spit up her entire life, but he spits up multiple times a day. He's gassier in general and we've found a bit of relief with Tummy Calm. Between 12-3p.m. he's sleeping, and I usually am too. Nia helps keep him entertained while I'm trying to make dinner then when Uka gets home he plays with him, we eat around 6/7p.m. and he stays up with me and Uka until we crash between 11p.m.-midnight. Throughout the night he moves from his co-sleeper to our bed depending on his appetite/dirty diapers. If we fall asleep while nursing and he gets hungry again instead of crying he's now learned to swat my boobs. Kinda funny, but alarming!
  • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Definitely seeing Gray with Nia. We've had a few scary moments as she likes to rough him up sometimes (think love taps!) and do some acrobatics a bit too close to him, but overall she is very sweet with him and adores her
  • Did any big changes occur?  We've already started laying him in his crib to nap occasionally. We didn't do that with Nia for a while, but since we have two floors and the kids will eventually share the 1st floor nursery it's good practice plus Nia loves it when she's falling asleep too


  • What are baby's favorites? Nia is Gray's favorite person. He looks at her so intensely, following her with his eyes and even calls out to her in loud coos - we love it!

I have to ask: who do you think he looks like? At first I didn't see resemblance to Nia, but now I do especially when I watch her one month video



P.S. Click here to see Nia's one month recap! Wow how time flies!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The One Time I Met Tory Burch #CORYANDTORY

As I'm slowly making my way through recapping the whirlwind of events I attended during my 3rd trimester, I'm realizing how epic it really was! I nearly forgot that I met Tory Burch ya'll - crazy right?! Here's how it went down . . . 

About a week before the actual event a fellow Wellesley alum friend who works with U.S. Senator Cory Booker posted this listing on Facebook:


Seeing how soon the date was I thought, "Oh this must be full, but I'll give RSVPing a try anyway!" I logged onto Eventbrite and surprisingly, there were still openings so I signed right up. I mentioned it in passing a few days later to my sister Ariane, and she was a bit annoyed that I hadn't invited her. I let her know it was a NJ-business-centric event and didn't think she would be interested seeing how she's all "Miss Manhattan" and all. She's not really like that (!), but anyway, she was definitely interested. When Ariane tried to sign up it was sold out however a spot opened up last minute and she was able to join me. Hooray for sister power!

Ariane grabs a quick bite - it was so quick, it was blurry! Just keepin' it real!
The "fireside chat" event was held at Liberty House (quick fact: ran by a female entrepreneur!). It was a gorgeous, sun-filled room with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline - I would've loved to get pictures of the view, but the sun rising over the skyline just wouldn't allow it. Still the spot is definitely etched in my memory as one to visit with Mr. Lovebird. It was my first time there, and it's quite romantic! A networking breakfast was also provided, but with Nia in preschool and drop-off at 8:30 I couldn't get there early enough so Ariane and I grabbed a quick bite and took our seats.  

{Image Credit: Leading Women Entrepreneurs}
In the hour-long chat Tory shared her start-up story: how she requested funds from about 200 potential investors (mostly friends and family) and created a 5-year plan launching in 2004 without a dime spent on traditional media - yes, it can be done!


As a mom, I was especially interested to hear how Tory handles mompreneurship and she explained that it's ALWAYS a struggle, but that family is first. She makes sure she is 100% present when she is with them and takes her sons to school herself daily.

{Image Credit: Leading Women Entrepreneurs}
I was thrilled to hear Tory and Senator Booker share their enthusiasm for social media. I still can't believe how hard some folks diss it, but I'm also a firm believer. Of course there is foolishness on there, but as Senator Booker explained, if you have 200+ followers, you have influence beyond measure. Tory explained how becoming an early adopter of social media helped lead to her success especially without a marketing budget. In fact, she handles her own Instagram and Twitter accounts personally!


The biggest challenges Tory sees when it comes to female entrepreneurship is 1) access to capital and 2) mentorship. Because of this she created the Elizabeth Street Capital initiative (the name was derived from her 1st store location) partnering with Bank of America to provide $10 million towards low cost loans. She encouraged the audience to apply to the program which has basic criteria of a great idea and a sound plan. 

After the event, I knew the attendees would bum rush the front to get pictures and was surprised to see how gracious Tory was to take them. I cautiously made my way to the front with my large belly and a few ladies literally carved a path to Tory for me, and I was able to chat with her quickly and get a quick picture with her and my sister:


I was surprised when Tory asked me the name of the baby (kinda how Dr. Oz did)! I stumbled a moment and explained that my sister didn't even know it yet, and it was still under wraps. 

Overall, the event was a great kick-off for me and my sister as well as we're in the works on a special sister-business project along with our other sister Lauren. It's been a bit of a slow start, but we're confident in the direction we're headed, and it was such an inspiration to be able to hear directly from Tory about how she built her business. It was just the encouragement we needed!

Are you a Tory Burch fan? If you're a mompreneur, who inspires you?
 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Getting Gorgeous 2014 (Just in Time to Have My Baby!)

Disclosure: I was invited to Getting Gorgeous and given a gift bag; this post was not required and all opinions expressed are my own. 

Last year I attended Getting Gorgeous with Nia and this year I (kinda) attended with Grayson - that is if in utero counts!


Audrey and Vera threw another outstanding event and the size of it along with the brands represented was definitely my speed. And somehow, just like last year it was a beautiful day! I slowly waddled my way into the city, stayed just long enough to make a few rounds, say hi to my blogger friends then headed back to get Nia from school. It was the perfect day - take a look . . .

I was excited to learn that Jersey City is getting a huge Stop & Shop hub for grocery delivery! Our current grocery options are pretty bare
I stopped by the amazing-smelling Vitabath booth and took a quiz to find my signature scent - turns out it's Original Spring Green

Handing in my scent quiz {Image credit: bellamyblue.com}

I last remember Calgon from the 80s - well they've changed! The brand's updated and so refreshing. I look forward to indulging in their newest scents I took home

Summer Infant's innovative baby monitors were on display (hello wifi capability!) as was something I've been seeing get quite a bit of buzz lately...


The Pop 'n Play Portable Playard is EVERYTHING!
Pausing for a quick selfie with blogger buddy Nichol of Five Little Words
Of course I had to stop by the Pampers booth! We planned/are using Swaddlers starting out with Grayson until transitioning to cloth:

{Image credit: bellamyblue.com}

Pampers offered hand and foot massages too! Just what I needed to relax
Title sponsor V05 offered on-site salon hair styling and product sampling! I had nostalgic memories of the hot oil treatment my mom used to give me as a kid, and it's so exciting to see how the product line's evolved - stay tuned for a fun giveaway! {Image credit: bellamyblue.com}
This was just a sample of the swag bag - I took home lots more including these amazing Passion Roses which lasted FOREVER! {Image credit: bellamyblue.com}

Thank you Audrey, Vera and all the fab sponsors for a wonderful time - it was the perfect daytime getaway for this pregnant mama!

{Image credit: bellamyblue.com}

What's your trick or tip for feeling gorgeous? For me right now in newborn stage it's attempting getting a daily shower! Ha!
 


P.S. Curious about Getting Gorgeous 2013? Click here!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

#MasterYourHome with Samsung Living Atelier


Nia and I ventured into the city right before Grayson was born to visit Samsung's Living Atelier, a pop up shop showcasing their latest appliances. As a Samsung household I'm always intrigued by their latest innovations and was excited to learn that the president and CEO of Samsung Consumer Electronics would be in attendance - being business-minded I always like to learn about the brains behind the operation!


Samsung's Chef Collection includes a chef-designed 4-Door French Door Refrigerator. Yes, 4-doors! As a renter with a side-by-side that I loathe, this refrigerator is a dream come true. It boasts 34 cu. ft. of space which can fit 34 bags of groceries, an LED display and triple cooling providing multiple temperature zones to keep your food super fresh. 

Check it out:


Also on display were the 9100 Washer, featuring the largest capacity in the world and a SuperSpeed wash cycle (much needed in my life with a newborn right about now!), and the Range with Flex Duo which can amazingly split into two ovens with Smart Divider Technology.


Samsung also announced the latest member of their Club Des Chefs team, Chef Daniel Boulud. About that time Nia let me know it was time to go so we didn't get to stay the rest of the afternoon, but you can watch the full highlight video here.

Boo-Keun Yoon, President and CEO of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. along with the members of Club Des Chef
Be sure to follow Samsung on Facebook and Twitter for their latest product news.

If you could replace one of your appliances which would it be? I'd definitely replace my fridge!



Monday, July 21, 2014

Reducing Your Family's ID Theft Risk with LifeLock

Disclosure: I was a guest at a LifeLock event and received promotional items; all opinions expressed are my own.


The day I went into labor with Grayson I also attended a luncheon sponsored by LifeLock at Tavern on the Green. Since I was well overdue, a few people questioned my decision to venture into Manhattan, but I'm so glad I went - I actually think getting out into the city and walking helped bring labor on!

I had heard quite a bit about LifeLock over the years and was intrigued to learn Jean Chatzky, a finance expert I've followed over the years, would be in attendance. Oh and the fact that it was at the renovated Tavern on the Green wasn't too bad either - it was a gorgeous day to be out! 


The luncheon covered these 4 vulnerable groups that are often subject to ID theft:
  • Newlyweds
  • Parents
  • Homeowners
  • Newly Single 
I have never been a victim of identity theft, but have known those who have and it really is a nightmare. There was a woman in attendance who shared her own story, and while it definitely is important to learn from others who have gone through it, it is something I plan to never experience. Did you see that? I wrote plan NOT hope - it really does require planning to reduce the risk of being a victim of identity theft.


The panel including Jean Chatzky and Hilary Schneider, President of Lifelock, Inc. shared these helpful tips:
  • Avoid geotagging as it increases the likelihood of identity theft 5x (I also am selective in doing this just from a safety perspective with my kids)
  • Avoid posting your purchases online for example, the "I just bought . . ." auto-posting options many retail sites offer maymake it easier for someone to track your last few purchases which are often needed for verifying you bank account access when calling in
  • More devices = more risk: those with a phone, tablet and laptop increase their risk for ID theft by 46% so be careful about logging in across devices 
  • Only use your debit card for cash: consumer protection offered by credit cards can't be beat; the same can't be said for debit cards which are often cumbersome about proving and providing reimbursements for fraud purchases
  • Child ID theft it rampant: be sure to check your children's credit reports as well
With Jean Chatzky (and 41 weeks pregnant)
Although I had to leave during the Q & A to get Nia from school, I do have to say I really appreciated the information presented at the event, and that it wasn't an upsell for services - I left feeling empowered and I thank LifeLock for that!

Have you or someone close to you been the victim of identity theft? Have you made a plan to reduce the risk? Be sure to visit LifeLock to learn more.



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