April is National Autism Awareness Month

 

My first full-time job after graduating from college, was at a school for children with autism.  As a 22-year-old, I didn’t know much about autism and actually thought it was a rare occurrence.  I had a lot less perspective than I do now.  Now that I’m a parent, I’m around more families, so not only do I encounter more children with autism, but a good friend of ours has a daughter who was recently diagnosed with autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.  (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html)

As parents, we celebrate so many of our children’s milestones with Facebook posts, photos, detailed entries in baby books, and phone calls to loved ones.  Imagine if your child were late in reaching these milestones.  Life as a parent is so fast-paced, and we love our children so much, that I can see how signs of autism may go unnoticed.  What strikes me most about autism is the fact that the characteristic behaviors of autism may or may not be apparent in infancy, but usually become obvious during early childhood.  Although there are many “late bloomers” and children develop on extremely different timelines, it’s important to visit your doctor often and watch for signs/behaviors listed below.

As part of a well-baby/well-child visit, your child’s doctor should perform a “developmental screening,” asking specific questions about your baby’s progress. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five behaviors that warrant further evaluation:

  • Does not babble or coo by 12 months
  • Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  • Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age

Any of these five “red flags” does not mean your child has autism. But because the symptoms of the disorder vary so much, a child showing these behaviors should have further evaluations by a multidisciplinary team. This team may include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant or other professionals knowledgeable about autism. (http://www.autism-society.org/about-autism/symptoms/)

This week we are doing our small part to spread the word about Autism by sharing this information and donating a portion of sales from lollaland.com to Team Zoe.  We encourage you to support Team Zoe (directly or through lollaland.com) or any Autism-related organization/cause before the month ends.

Please support Team Zoe or any Autism-related organization/cause this month!

Please support Team Zoe or any Autism-related organization/cause this month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on Autism, please visit www.cdc.gov/actearly OR autismspeaks.org.

 

Feeling thankful during a family crisis. By: Lolladad

Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  What is better for your soul than thinking about all the things you are grateful for?  Also, who doesn’t love that it is perfectly acceptable to spend 7 straight days obsessing about gorging yourself all night?

That being said, this year’s Thanksgiving is bittersweet for our family.  Hanna has been suffering all year with a severe skin condition for the past 9 months (link to blog post).  I can’t even begin to imagine how I would handle being in that much pain every morning, noon, and night for such an extended period of time.  Luckily we have had amazing support.  We moved into my parents’ house (thanks mom!) for 6 months because Hanna was unable to properly care for our newborn and our friends would send food and flowers on a weekly basis (best friends ever).  Yet, even though we feel incredibly blessed, it has been difficult to deal with the countless nights of crying and feeling utterly helpless.

While I was exhibiting at a tradeshow in Las Vegas last month, I was beginning to feel sorry for myself.  Even though I didn’t show it, having to deal with this major adjustment in our lives while struggling to grow this small business was starting to affect my mental state… Until I met Bill.

Bill and Mark meet in Las Vegas at the ABC Kids Expo. Baby Face Band and Lollacup meet!

Lollacup + Baby Face Band meet in Las Vegas at the ABC Kid’s Expo

Bill is the owner of Baby Face Band, a very useful item that allows you to personalize your child’s cup or bottle by putting the picture of your child on a band that goes around bottle.  It makes perfect sense because your kid could easily identify his/her cup without having to know how to read!

Bill approached me in Las Vegas to talk about my experience on Shark Tank.  I was more than happy to talk about our journey and when I asked him about his story, I learned that we had a lot in common.  Baby Face Band was created by his wife, Laura, they were in contact with Shark Tank, and they also have three young children.  It’s almost like we were the same family except in different states!

But as the conversation went on I learned that Bill had lost his wife to cancer just about a year ago and that he was exhibiting at the show to keep her vision alive.  As soon as he shared this with me it took every muscle in my body from dropping to my knees and crying for him.  Immediately, I felt a rush of guilt for feeling so sorry for myself while Bill, who has the biggest smile in the US, is juggling his business and his kids without his wife.

For the past month, I’ve been thinking and praying for Bill and his family.  We’ve only been in touch a few times since I met him in Las Vegas but his story has given me a lot of perspective.  I really admire his strength and I’m hoping to learn how to be as positive as he is.  I will definitely spend this Thanksgiving thanking my lucky stars and hugging my family members as hard as I can.

 

Lollaland + Baby Face Band Giveaway!

To enter: Send good thoughts to Bill and his three young children during the holidays and enter either Red, Green, Blue, or Pink.  We will choose 4 lucky winners (Ends Dec 1, 2013) to get a free lollacup and matching Baby Face Band.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Here it is in action: (picture of adorable baby not included)

Baby Face Band + Lollacup

Kill Your Darlings

 

I have a friend who is a talented writer, and every time I talk to her, I learn something new.  The other day, we were talking and she asked me if I’d ever heard the phrase, “kill your darlings.”  Apparently, it’s a phrase used by journalists, who often have a great idea for a piece or a fabulous opening that may turn out to be tangential or simply not a good fit.  Instead of being married to said idea or concept, journalists are taught to “kill their darlings” – don’t use it, and get over it.

I began to think that I, as a parent, sometimes need to “kill my darlings.”  Don’t get me wrong, I know my children can drive me crazy at times, but that’s not what I mean.  I know I’m not alone when I say that I do my best to be the perfect mother and my husband, the ultimate father.  To that end, we tend to hold onto these notions of what ideal parenting looks like.  We get distraught over missed naps, feel guilty about unhealthy meals, struggle to maintain discipline, etc.  We get so much advice, read so many parenting tips, and witness other seemingly perfect children and do everything in our power to parent that way.  BUT sometimes what’s right for one family or what we hope to do and achieve as parents is simply not a good fit.  Moving forward, I have vowed to “kill my darlings” and get over it.  I hope you will consider the same.  I’m thinking [and hoping] that it is going to make parenting a LOT less stressful.

 

Marriage 101 – Appreciation

 

The Pastor who married my husband and me required us to take a premarital class before saying, “I do.”  The class served to enlighten us doe-eyed lovebirds about the realities of marriage.  He wasn’t kidding – marriage is great, but it really is a lot of work.  The class covered common “issues” like money and family, but one topic that was emphasized during this crash-course in marriage was appreciation.  Life gets so busy at times that it’s easy to forget to appreciate [and express that appreciation for] one another.

LollaDADYesterday was Father’s Day, and I had nothing but a deep appreciation for my husband and father of our three amazing girls.  I know that Father’s Day was yesterday, but this week [and always], I want my husband to know:

  1. I am fully aware of all that he does: works, manages family drama, helps around the house, plays “princess” unabashedly with our daughters, and makes me laugh.
  2. I am grateful for his support through my rough patches.
  3. I value our friendship and love.

For those of you in a relationship, remember to appreciate and also feel appreciated!  Mark, I appreciate you – more than I show and say.

My Go-To Prime Rib

 

I love to cook and entertain, but now that I’m a working mother, entertaining means cooking something that’s 1. easy (this is key!) 2. presentable (because I want to impress my guests and make them believe I have it all together) and 3. delicious (this is an obvious one, but sometimes the most challenging).  This is the “go-to” prime rib I make for occasions like Christmas eve, my mother-in-law’s birthday, etc.  With this “fancy” prime rib as the centerpiece of the meal, you can pair it with easy sides like, roasted asparagus/brussel sprouts, a simple salad, baked potatoes and/or dinner rolls.  Enjoy and happy entertaining (busy mom/dad-style).

Ingredients
1 (3-rib) prime rib beef roast, about 6 pounds
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl mash together the horseradish, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a paste. Smear the paste generously over the entire roast and drizzle with some extra oil. Place the roast, rib side down, in a roasting pan. Roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for medium rare (they say to cook approximately 20 minutes per pound for medium-rare). Remove to a carving board, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

100 Days of Pure Bliss

 

How is it that my baby is 100 days old? They weren’t kidding when they said, “Third time’s a charm.” With my first two children getting to the 100-day-mark felt eternal thanks to baby blues, sleep deprivation, around-the-clock nursing, and simply not knowing if I was doing anything correctly. With my third [and last] baby girl, I am reveling in every moment, even though the exhaustion is indescribable and life feels like a blur.

So what’s with the 100 days? My husband was born here in America, and I was born in Brazil, but we are of Korean descent. We both come from immigrant families who now live very “American” lives, but have held onto some Korean traditions, one of which is the 100-day celebration known as a child’s Baek-Il. It is essentially a 100th-day birthday party. Historically, the survival rate of a baby before the first 100 days was low, but the rate would drastically increase after the first 100 days. So on the child’s 100th day of life, we celebrate her health.

100day

100th Day Table Setting – Traditional Rice Cakes

 

Dear Zoe,

On your 100th day of life, we are hosting a luncheon in honor of you and your health. Your extended family will be here as a symbol of their love for you and their commitment to supporting you as families so graciously do. Today, I just want you to know that I am absolutely obsessed with all things Zoe: your smell, your porcelain skin, your dramatic wails, your ability to suck both your right and left thumbs, your wild hair, your heartwarming smile, your awful-smelling poops, and your manly burps.
I feel so blessed to be your mother, and I hope that this day brings a lifetime of love, health, and joy.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

I cannot believe Mother’s Day is here.  In honor of the fabulous day, I am compelled to write about how my mother and mother-in-law have recently reminded me why mothers are so amazing.

A Mother's Day gift from my 5-year-old.

A Mother’s Day gift from my 5-year-old.

When I had my first daughter, I was overwhelmed by my mothers.  Though everything was done out of love for this first grandchild [on both sides], my mother and mother-in-law may have single-handedly been the reason I had post-partum depression.  My mother stayed with me for a couple months after I had the baby, and while her homemade meals and extra hand were a Godsend, the suggestions, questions, nagging, etc. were too much for my emotionally unstable self.  Although I needed the help, we fought a lot and got very snappy with one another.  My mother-in-law visited everyday for hours on end and would often wake the baby to “play” with her.  The most invasive moment for me was when she kissed my baby’s head while I was breastfeeding.  My first-born was only weeks old, and I was begging my husband to move out of state.

While thinking about that time still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I do think I was much more sensitive as a first-time mom.  I had this perfect vision of motherhood: I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it all and be a great mom, and my mothers were raining on my parade.  They wouldn’t leave me or the baby alone and the unsolicited advice drove me insane.  By the time baby #2 came around, I was much more grateful for the help and more mentally prepared for the chaos of having a newborn around.

With the arrival of baby #3, I knew I was going to welcome any help I could get.  Soon after the baby arrived and I fell more and more ill with my skin condition, my mother and mother-in-law literally came to my rescue, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  For the first time in my life I have had to let go of control and trust that my moms were going to help me through this difficult time.  This is no easy feat for a control-freak, type A personality like myself.

Being a good mother/parent, I’m realizing, is a perfect balance of selflessness and selfishness.  Watching my mother and mother-in-law step in and do everything and anything possible to help me and my family through this difficult time has been both humbling and touching.  There is no greater love than this.  Their selflessness is unparalleled.  Through this ordeal, I have also learned how important it is to be selfish –  I need to do whatever it takes to take care of my health so that I can care for my own little ones and follow in the footsteps of my mothers by being there for my family through thick and thin.

Cheers to all you moms out there.  Remember to take time for yourselves this mother’s day, and may you be spoiled rotten!

You are more beautiful than you think

 

I’m not one to share every video I come across on Facebook or even find much enjoyment in all the “viral” videos my dear husband likes to show me, but today I came across a video that really spoke to me.  Although it’s essentially a cheesy Dove commercial, Real Beauty, has an amazing message.

As I mentioned in my “Eczema” post several weeks ago, I have been struggling with trying to heal my out-of-control eczema.  Things have taken a turn for the worse recently, and it’s been quite debilitating and frustrating.  However, seeing this video today reminded me to stay strong and tell myself, “You are more beautiful than you think [and feel]“.

On a larger scale, it was a good reminder to instill a positive self-image in my three children.  How one accomplishes that, I have no idea, but I have to believe it starts simply with love.  Love your little ones for the individuals they are, and express love in every little thing you do.

To see the Real Beauty video, click here.

Lotus + Lollacup Giveaway

 

IMG_8538Last week I was in a bit of a panic.  The girls’ spring break was fast-approaching, which meant they would be home all day for a whole week.  How was I going to juggle entertaining them, dealing with my crazy skin issues, tending to the new baby, and working on Lollacup?   Instead, I decided to pack up the family and visit my parents, because it would be a much-needed change of scenery.

I’m sure many of you know that packing for a family of five is no easy feat.  When the car was packed, there wasn’t an inch of empty space, and I consider myself a light packer.  Luckily my two older girls are at an age where they don’t need much, as long as they have one another. This is the beauty of siblings.   Most of the “essentials” revolved around the baby.  Because she was only 6-weeks-old, she, too, didn’t need much: clothing, swaddles, diapers, wipes, formula, burp cloths, and a place to sleep.

IMG_8536Now the reason for this blog post. . .  I didn’t think I was going to have another child, so I gave away most of my baby gear.  I was, however, fortunate enough to receive a Lotus Everywhere Crib as a gift, so we took it with us on this trip, and it was awesome.  There’s no assembly involved, it essentially pops open and collapses closed, and it packs neatly into its own little travel bag!  We had it set up the whole time in the house for sleeping & “playtime” and we were able to quickly collapse it down and take it down to the pool as well.  This being said, we’ve partnered with the makers of the very cool Lotus Everywhere Crib to do an exciting “baby essentials” giveaway.  Click here to enter the giveaway.  Good luck and have a great week!

Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis – Oh My!

 

Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis – Apparently, I’ve had it all since the day I was born.   I’ve struggled with dry, itchy skin, rashes, and redness my whole life, but six weeks ago, before I had my 3rd daughter, my eczema flared up like never before.  My face and most of my body were red and blistery and unbearably itchy and dry.  After I had the baby, Mark Cuban invited us to do an appearance with him on The View, so for vanity reasons, I called my dermatologist, who gave me a potent steroid cream to use for 3 days only.  My skin cleared up almost instantaneously, just in time to look eczema-free on the show.  I stopped using the steroid cream the morning of the taping, and twelve hours later, my eczema went into overdrive.  I had never seen my skin look that bad.

To make a long story, short, I’m convinced my skin is addicted to topical steroid creams.  I used them on and off throughout my life when my eczema would flare, but who knew you could become addicted to skin creams?  I am under the care of a dermatologist, who says the only remedy is to “withdraw” from the steroids.  The upside is that he says by withdrawing or stopping the use of all steroid creams, steroid injections, and oral steroids,  I will be completely cured of eczema.  The downside is that I will look like a burn victim and have intense eczema flares for at least 6 months to as long as 2 years!!!  Since one’s skin is the largest organ of the body, it may take a long time to recover from this “addiction.”  Another thing that makes it difficult is that I need to stay out of the sun and keep my body cool for the time being.  This should be quite a feat considering I live in Southern California!

I have consulted many dermatologists over the years and thought long and hard about what to do about my persistent eczema, and I’ve decided that going through this God-awful withdrawal is my only option.   Right now, I look like I have 3rd degree burns all over my face and body, and it goes through a different phase daily – red, oozing, burning, extremely dry, etc.  Everyday is so unpredictable.  I go between getting chills and sweating profusely and it’s uncomfortable to wear clothes, so I have not left my house except to see doctors.  Thankfully, Lollacup headquarters is in my home, so I am able to work and I have a precious newborn to love and care for, so that has been my saving grace.  It is going to be a long year, but I’m hopeful that this doctor is right and my eczema will be gone after the whole withdrawal process is said and done.

I know that this is just temporary, and I am so very thankful that I am healthy otherwise, but I feel compelled to write about my condition to alert those of you with eczema or children with eczema to be very cautious of steroid use.  I am not an expert or a physician, so I’m not saying that all steroids are bad, but I think it’s important to know that one’s skin can become addicted to topical steroids and the side effects of these creams are quite scary.

FYI, this is the non-profit organization (itsan.org) that is trying to get the word out about topical steroid addiction.  It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this website that I realized what was happening to me.