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With Father’s Day upon us, I was racking my brain for something thoughtful and sentimental. I’ve already done the photobook thing, plus I found it too time consuming. I’d have to spend time I don’t have to edit pictures, upload them, then put them in a layout that would satisfy me. That was out.
My thoughts turned to Instagram. All my favorite pictures are already in my account and filtered to my liking, so I decided to look into companies that specialized in Instagram prints. I came across Printstagram and decided to give it a whirl. The web interface looked nice, and I liked the product offerings.
They offer a variety of options – you can get individualized Instagram prints, get them bound into a book, create a poster, or have your pictures framed. I loved the poster idea and at $25-35, it sounded really reasonable. My problem was that I didn’t have enough Instagram photos to do it. Ever since, I’ve been making it my mission to make sure I get my favorite photos uploaded onto Instagram – apologies for those who follow me, and the bombardment of pictures you’ve been seeing lately. I eventually want to get that poster made and framed for our parents!
This is how the process works:
1. On the Printstagram site, they’ll have you login to your Instagram account so they can pull all your pictures.
2. Choose which product you’re interested in. Do the appropriate click-throughs.
3. Pick and choose which Instagram photos you want printed.
4. Checkout! Shipping is a flat rate of $7 regardless of how many products you purchase, so I would recommend ordering in bulk.
I decided to go with a Framed Print, which was part of Mr. Heels’ Father’s Day gift, and 2 Minibooks that I gave both our Mom’s as part of their Mother’s Day gifts.
I was very pleased with the minibooks! You get to choose up to 100 Instagram photos, split into two books of 50 prints each, OR you can choose 50 photos and make 2 of the exact same books. I chose 50 photos and got two identical minibooks, one for each of our mom’s. It truly is mini, and about the size of a baseball card. Now they have wallet-sized photos of our kids to carry around wherever they go!
The cover is made out of thick, transparent plastic and the back is on opalescent, white plastic. I used the back to write a little Mother’s Day note. These would be great to use in lieu of a card because at $6/book, they’re pretty similar in price as the nicer cards these days! The photos are printed on really thick, glossy cardstock, and the colors came out so vibrant and clear. I’d definitely recommend this product!
Framed Print Review:
I ordered two frames – one with a lot of daddy/daughter and daddy/son pictures, and another of just Noelle. In the future, I plan to create one with just Jaren. You can create a frame with up to 16 images by doing a 4 x 4 collage, or frame as little as one oversized Instagram image. I chose a 3 x 3 because I wanted my Instagram prints to be large enough that you can view them from afar, but I also wanted a decent amount of pictures in my frame.
The frames came tightly packaged in a lot of bubble wrap and brown paper, in a box that fit the dimensions of the frames exactly. The frames were really lightweight and felt kind of cheap to me, and although I had an idea of what the dimensions were going to be 12″ x 12″ frames, it still looked smaller than I imagined.
I was not IN LOVE with this purchase, but once I put it on the wall it looked nice. Is it worth the $60 per frame? No, I think it’s supremely overpriced. Next time I will probably purchase a frame separately, print out individual Instagram prints, and arrange my pictures together in the 9 x 9 style on my own.
Bottom Line – I would definitely order prints from Printstagram again, but some of their products are more worth it than others. The quality is excellent. I was happy with the thickness of their cardstock, quality of the ink, and prompt shipping. At the time I ordered, they posted an apology saying there would be a 2-3 week turnaround time for any framed prints… so imagine my surprise when the frames arrived in perfect condition 2 days later! The minibooks arrived the next day in a separate shipment. The biggest con at the moment is that you can’t rearrange your photos in a particular way, they are randomized. However, the company did say that is a feature they are trying to implement. I’m hopeful that this company will only continue to get better, and I can’t wait to see them expand their product offerings as they grow!
Have you printed out any Instagram photos?
GONG XI FA CAI! (That’s Happy Chinese New Year! in Mandarin)
This past weekend, we celebrated Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, over a feast of authentic Chinese food.
A whole roasted chicken – signifying prosperity.
Steamed Whole Fish – symbolizing abundance for the coming year.
Lion’s Head Meatballs – representing strength and power.
Braised Pork – just because it’s delicious!
She also got to reap the rewards of being part Chinese by the abundance of red envelopes she was given; each filled with its fair share of money.
As we gathered that night with family, celebrating an age-old Chinese tradition, I thought about how interesting it’ll be for Noelle to grow up with two different, unique cultures. Although she is 100% Asian, she is only half Chinese and half Korean. She’s already so distinct from me and S just from the pure fact that she is made up of two ethnicities. That, in and of itself, is something we could never identify with.
Korean Hanbok in the middle; Chinese Chipao on the Left and Right
From the food to the language to the holidays celebrated, we want to make a conscious effort to incorporate both these cultures into our lives. It’s no easy task, considering we’re already a little removed from our origins simply because we were both born and raised in America. We speak our respective languages, but not as well as we should. We followed certain cultural rites because our parents told us to, but somewhere along the way, the significance of it all got lost. We don’t know the why behind the do. I’ve found this to be a common theme amongst my many second-generation Asian-American friends.
Wearing a Chipao in honor of Chinese New Year. Once she tried on the pink, she refused to take it off. She even chose her own pink shoes to match!
We’re still figuring out how to marry our two cultures into her life as she grows, but one thing we did agree on is if she could only master one language other than English, we would want it to be Mandarin Chinese. With this in mind, we’ve been looking into Chinese language immersion schools and finding ways to incorporate Mandarin into our everyday language (even though I’m the only one in this household that speaks it). Other ways we want to celebrate our two cultures is by ensuring we upkeep the major holidays, and exposing her to different types of Chinese and Korean foods.
Do you think about how culture will play a role in your child’s life? How do you plan to expose your children to your roots?
Our main reason for going this time was for Celine!!! I’ve waited years to see this show. I was so sad when she left, and thought I missed my chance, so imagine my excitement when she announced her return! I was hoping to watch it when we went to Vegas last November for our 3-year anniversary, but she wasn’t performing in November or December. We secured tickets for January 18th – a month before my due date. I knew we had to watch her before Baby #2 came along, or else I may never get the chance.
Sam and I made the 5-hour drive to Vegas around 10 am Saturday morning, giving us a chance to spend a few hours with our little girl before heading out. It was hard to leave her as an infant, but it’s even harder to leave her now that she’s so much more fun and aware.
I was a little worried about how I’d do with the long drive at 35 weeks pregnant, but surprisingly, my bladder was well under control hehe. My husband stopped every 1-1.5 hours to let me stretch my legs and back and walk around, so that definitely helped. We made it around 2:30 pm and checked into The Flamingo Hotel. We usually stay there because it’s affordable and close to everything! We got a room on the 20th floor, with a view overlooking the Bellagio Fountain.
Day 1 (Saturday): check-in, dinner with friends at Holstein’s, Celineeee!!, then a midnight Secret Pizza run!
Had high hopes for Holstein’s, but we all agreed the burger patty was dry and the food overpriced for what you get. But then again, it’s Vegas – everything is overpriced. I got the “Rising Sun” burger, which is Asian inspired and comes with a Kobe beef patty, avocado tempura, sweet potato tempura, nori flakes, and sweet teriyaki sauce. I think it was the best burger of the bunch, but still mediocre. Our table also shared lobster mac ‘n cheese and some wings.
Then we went our separate ways – all of us had separate shows to catch. Shan & Terry went to watch “O”, Jenn & Chris went to watch “Love”, Arnold & Wendy went to watch the Treasure Island show, while me & Sam, Shawn & Teresa, and Maggie & Jon went to catch the singing sensation herself in action!
Can you see the excitement on our faces??
They don’t allow any pictures during the show, so I have no pics of Celine rockin’ it live. I was expecting a lot of dancing and backup dancers with extravagant costumes because that’s how my friend described it to me when she went a few years ago, but there was none of that. I guess she changed her show after she came back?? The show mainly showcased her singing and the phenomenal orchestra behind her. The entire show was still amazing though and I even choked up a few times! She has this way of drawing out your emotions with the purity of her voice. I was mesmerized from beginning to end. Though he hates to admit it, hubby was thoroughly impressed too!
Afterwards I went back to the hotel to sleep because what’s a 35-week prego going to do in Vegas? The smoke and nastiness of the air was killing me. I walked through the casinos holding my breath, and couldn’t stand the stench on my clothes. Shan and I hung out in my room while our hubby’s went to grab a beer and try their luck at the tables. We were on the verge of sleeping when we got a text saying they were headed to Secret Pizza! No way we were missing that… so we dragged our lazy booty’s up and got the most heavenly slice of NY pizza in the city.
Yes, it’s as good as it looks. Highly recommend the “white pizza”!
Day 2 (Sunday): brunch at Mon Ami Gabi, nap, dinner at Lotus of Siam
Some people in our group had to leave right after brunch, and others left right after dinner. I didn’t realize so many people don’t get MLK Jr. Day off anymore! This was a low-key day filled with more eating and a whole lotta sleeping. Brunch was awful, but dinner made up for it!
The best item was the Blueberry French Toast.
A lot of people were anticipating this meal, and it delivered!! Everyone loved Lotus of Siam!
Day 3 (Monday): used our complimentary brunch vouchers at The Flamingo with the only other couple remaining, Shannon and Terry. We left right after so we could get home to our girl just in time for her to wake from her nap!
Came back to this firecracker!
So what did our weekend consist of? A lot of eating, a lot of sleeping, and a Celine show somewhere in-between! I was even able to finish an entire book while in Vegas. I loved the balance of hanging out with friends while still getting a substantial amount of alone time. It made me realize though, that Vegas is really boring to me… and I probably don’t want to go back for awhile. I can’t stand the crowds and the smoke and I don’t even like to gamble. Plus everything there is overpriced – there’s no incentive to even go shopping!
This past weekend, we celebrated our 3-year anniversary in the most unlikely place for two old souls (and one of us is prego!) – Las Vegas, NV! Although Vegas is known for its shows, casinos, and buffets… we wanted to keep it casual and relaxed. So we decided to explore Vegas off-the-beaten path.
We booked our two-night stay at Elements Hotel about 20-minutes off the strip. This was a seriously fab hotel – free wifi, free parking, free breakfast, a mini kitchenette, and President Obama stayed here the last time he was in town! You can find my review here. My husband loved it so much he wants to stay here every time we’re in Vegas! It’s so family-friendly too… we’re definitely coming back with our babies next time.
Saturday: We arrived in the afternoon around 4 pm. After settling in and taking a short nap, we headed out to a James Beard award-winning Thai restaurant called Lotus of Siam. It’s often touted as THE best Thai restaurant in the United States. We made the mistake of NOT making reservations, so even though we came only 10-min after they opened, we still had to wait an hour. It was worth the wait though, and we can’t wait to come back with friends so we can try more of their dishes!
Located in an obscure strip mall, with elegantly presented food.
Sunday: we slept in, ate breakfast at the hotel, then headed out to Red Rock Canyon to do some hiking. We both love to hike! S isn’t a big workout/exercise person, but he loves the outdoors and I’m so happy we both find joy in this hobby. There’s something so alluring about being out and about in nature. I can’t help but fall in love with God all over again when I look upon His creations, admiring His artwork, and soaking in the fresh air.
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. - Henry David Thoreau
After hiking, we got our grub on at an AYCE sushi place. Yes yes, I’m pregnant and I’ve been eating sushi, and doing a lot of other things I probably shouldn’t be doing. After stuffing our faces, we went back to the hotel, watched some HGTV, and took a big fat nap. When we recovered from our food coma, we finally made our way to The Strip. We ate at the most delicious sandwich place – Earl of Sandwich – have you been? SO GOOD. Afterwards, we decided to play our hand at the tables. Lady luck wasn’t on our side that night and we each lost $100 at Pai Gow. This is why I never gamble.
Monday: slept in again. Sleep, glorious sleep! Then got our stuff ready to go so we could make the 4-hour drive home. On our way, we popped into the Primm Outlets and scored a few great deals at Gap and Old Navy. Our shopping always ends up being for Noelle these days. We were dying to get home to her, and missed her like crazy all weekend. It’s nice to get away sometimes, but our hearts yearned for her. We called home every day and hearing her voice over the phone just wasn’t enough. When we walked through the door, she RAN to us with the BIGGEST grin, and gave each of us a tight bear hug and delicious kiss. We were tired, but could not wait to spend time with our baby girl. We took her to the park where she played to her heart’s delight. I looked on, thinking only good thoughts about my husband, my girl, my life. It was the perfect end to a great anniversary weekend.
My two (soon-to-be-three) joys.
3 years, 2 kids, 1 unbelievable life. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
This marks N’s 2nd Halloween, but first time as an actual trick-or-treater.
The first year, we bought her a costume mostly for picture purposes. This year, we made plans to go trick-or-treating with a few friends who have kids around her age. I didn’t have any expectations going in. In fact, I fully expected to push her around in her stroller most of the night; asking for candy on her behalf.
This raincloud, little red riding hood, and ladybug surprised us all! Never underestimate kids on the hunt for sweets.
There was some hesitation at first as we led them up the long driveway to the door of the first house. Their eyes opened wide as strange aunties and uncles piled candy into their miniature-sized buckets. By the time we got to the third house, you would’ve thought these three kiddos have been trick-or-treating for years! They left us behind and toddled their way to the front of each house, patiently waiting for the door to open. They thrust their buckets out unashamedly and shyly accepted whatever delights were given to them. Compliments poured in at how cute they were, and so polite too, with their “hello’s”, “thank you’s”, and “goodbye’s!”. N even said a “trick-or-treat” or two.
This Halloween was another first for our family. I think it was just as much (if not more) a thrill for us to see our N light up at this new festive event. We tried our best to document the occasion with endless snapshots and a video clip or two in the pitch dark night. She even got her first taste of chocolate (not quite by our choice, but by biting through the wrapper), and could not stop saying, “MMM! YUMMY!”. How could we deny her that luxury on just this one night? She was holding so tightly onto her pumpkin bucket, never once letting it go (when we got home, we finally tricked her away from it somehow).
The night’s come and gone, but we’ll treasure this night forever. We’re on a high – sure, a sugar high, but we’re also on a high from love. It’s a love that comes from knowing we are blessed beyond belief; we ate an abundance of good food, have amazing friends (who I know we can call lifelong), and get to watch our little one blossom before our very eyes as she learns to navigate this life.
It was a more than perfect night, and we couldn’t have asked for a better first trick-or-treating experience with My Little Red.
For Father’s Day Part II, my husband woke up to a McDonald’s breakfast. I even let him have TWO hashbrowns. I don’t know if that makes me a good or terrible wife. SIGH. That saying, “the key to a man’s heart is his stomach”, holds so true for him!
We spent most of the morning at church, where they honored the dad’s with an Umami giftcard. For Mother’s Day, they gave us each Sprinkles cupcakes! Such thoughtful gifts!
Then, I spent the majority of my afternoon making one of his favorite Korean dishes – a sweet, salty braised shortrib dish called Galbijjim (pronounced kye-bee-jeem). One year, I made this dish every day for a week straight just to perfect the recipe. He said that was one of his favorite weeks ever. I had too much time on my hands.
Daddy and daughter played in the backyard while they waited for dinner… He is her #1, and mine as well!
Dinner is served.
It was such a gorgeous day – we decided to eat outside and soak in the sun…
My FIL and my two SIL’s. I am grateful for in-laws that I love, and love me in return.
With my Big Love and my Little Love. My husband started calling us that first, and I stole it.
A wise woman once said,“The GREATEST thing a man can do for his children, is to love their mother”. If that’s true, then my husband must be the best dad there is. Because I feel so secure in his love every day.
Happy Father’s Day, Big Love.
I hope you feel celebrated not just today, but everyday.
This Father’s Day, I planned a full weekend celebration. To start, we got together with some friends to do a joint Father’s Day event. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with friends. After all, it takes a village. So our Saturday was spent BBQing and relaxing at our friends’ beautiful, newly remodeled, rustic home. Noelle had taken an extra-long morning nap, so she was well-rested and we didn’t worry about skipping her afternoon nap.
As soon as she woke, we moseyed on over to our friends’ place. We brought scalloped potatoes, 6-layer dip, fresh fruit, and baked salmon. This was on top of the array of goodies waiting for us – thick slabs of juicy Ribeye, gourmet chicken and pork sausages, grilled squash and zucchinis, and roasted red and yellow peppers. I was foaming at the mouth.
We all have 2011 babies, with just a few months between them. One of us is pregnant with her 2nd, the other is done (with 4 kids ranging from 1 to 12 years), and she means it. Me? Well… we’ll see… Life’s just begun.
The children played. The dad’s ate. And I climbed a tree.
After we recovered from our food coma, we decided to strap up our kiddos and walk over to another friend’s place a mile down. They had just brought home a newborn. Another baby added to the fun.
Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful, sacrificial Daddies out there.
We appreciate you for all you are, and all that you do.
Long overdue, but here are the highlights from Noelle’s 1st Birthday… my super talented friend took all these photos, and my other super talented friend made the amazing cake!
I tried to keep Noelle’s birthday party lively + fun, but simple at the same time. We decided to do an UP! themed Dol at home. It’s one of my favorite Pixar movies, the wife of Carl is named “Ellie”, and I figured it would be doable with lots of balloons and bright colors everywhere. Not to mention Noellie is in a huge balls and balloons phase. We also had all our guests dress up in UP! appropriate attire. Everyone looked great in their suspenders, ties, and cute party dresses.
The head table – nothing too fancy.
What do you think she chose?
At the time, she had just discovered her nose.
Now she can point out her ears, head, knees, nose, eyes, and belly button.
Hello, sweet girl! She was in such good spirits that day… she must’ve known it was her birthday.
Sharing a moment
This is why I call her my “pouty face”
She chose the pencil! Maybe she’ll be a future novelist…
Her buddies – Nathan and Selah~
2011 has been a blur of a year (mostly due to sleep deprivation), but if I had to choose one word to describe my 2011, it would be transition. I haven’t lived that long, but with my limited knowledge… I am going to make the bold claim that there is no greater transition than that from single adulthood to parenthood.
The birth of my daughter on January 6th kicked off my 2011. It marked most of my highs but also many many lows. Seeing her grow and become a real, little person before my eyes was like witnessing a miracle. I love her more than she knows and more than even I can understand. Despite the beauty of birth and a baby… the sacrifices are real and exhausting. I had my share of breakdowns this year. I broke down when I felt I was doing too much and my husband not enough. I pulled the “it’s not fair” card when she wanted only me to feed her, rock her, hold her, love her. I looked at others and their “easy” babies and wished mine could stay up til 10pm without a fuss or sleep peacefully in her swing and carseat without a hissy fit. Tired didn’t even begin to describe it.
In February, my in-laws moved in. Transition, again. At first, this didn’t sit too well with me… especially with our limited space and the fact that we had just brought home a newborn. I’m a minimalist, and all of a sudden all this stuff was everywhere cluttering up my space. But my imagination made things out to be far worse than they really were. The reality of it was that having them live with us was a huge blessing. I was grateful for help with the baby. We were able to go out on date nights (just the two of us!) and hangout with friends (without the baby) more often than most. His parents were quiet, considerate, thoughtful, and non-imposing. I got to eat homemade Korean food every morning, noon, and evening! I saw my husband’s prayer warrior mother kneeling before our God every night in the quiet of the garage… and I felt safe. I knew there was this layer of protection over us that was not quite there before, and it gave me peace.
In 2011, my relationship with my own mom strengthened like never before. I thought I understood her as a person when I entered my 20s, but motherhood shifted my perspective on her yet again. I saw her love for me with truer eyes. I understood her sacrifices with even more clarity. The last my resentment towards her washed away as I finally saw her heart. I see me in her and her in me. It took me becoming a mother for me to finally understand why she made the choices she did…
Spring and summer came and went. My baby turned 7-months, and I went back to work full-time. Transition again. I found a job relatively quickly after being out of work for nearly 2 years – I couldn’t believe it. At times I was skeptical my MBA would do me any good, but this made it all worth it. This job is everything I wanted and more. It offered a short commute and gives me a healthy work/life balance so I can still be the mom I want to be.
The holidays were spectacular. We were a family of three now, and our daughter found everything delightful! Pumpkins, Costumes, Candy, Christmas Trees, Wagon Rides, Christmas Lights. I saw things through new and different eyes.
We close 2011 with one last transition. We moved – to a bigger, more comfortable place in the same city. This is a place we now call our “forever home”. Noelle will grow up here, make friends here, feel a sense of belonging here. I grew up in the same city all my life from preschool to high school. My childhood friendships have stayed with me well into adulthood. My hope is that she will get the same opportunity.
This was a year of transition not only because our lives changed, but our mindsets too. Every want we have is not for us, but for her. Our lives – what we work for, what we give up, what we desire… a lot of what we do is for her. Not because we have to, but because we want to.
2011 – The Year of Transition.
It’s 2012 and I’m still blogging about Christmas… boy, do I have some catching up to do! Our first Christmas with Noelle is one I definitely want to remember, so here goes…
We kicked off our Christmas festivities with our church’s annual holiday party. My friend and I co-planned it and it was a lot of fun. The 50+ white elephant gift exchange was hilarious. I thought I had gotten away with taking home the Steve Jobs biography, but alas, a loser took it from me.
Then, the friday before Christmas, our college friends came to town and we went to one of my favorite tapas restaurants. I love eating family style because you get to try a little bit of everything. Being an avid yelp reviewer, that gives me a lot more to work with.
Full and happy… except the 2nd one to the left.
We usually celebrate by having a family dinner on Christmas Eve, but this year we didn’t because my sister-in-law had to work (she’s a nurse and works the night shift). So we didn’t do much on Christmas Eve.
My in-laws bought take out sushi from a Japanese market and that’s pretty much all we did.
… but we woke up bright and early on Christmas Day to…
Drink hot cocoa and open presents!
We bought our daughter a Melissa & Doug Dollhouse. Here I am helping her tear open her gift. I don’t think she knew what to make of it, hehe.
Noelle got the most gifts from our family and friends! She is a blessed little girl!
Then I made brunch for some friends. We had a morning ‘jama party..
Good thing I wore my fat ‘jamas. Strawberry Shortbread Cookies, Cranberry Scones, Bacon, Ham & Egg Crepe Squares, Pumpkin French Toast, and Mimosas! So full.
Noelle was down for her morning nap so we got to watch one of my favorite movies, Inception!
And I recently found out that Titanic is going to be BACK in theaters next year… in 3D and better than ever. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s still one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. I’ll never let go Jack, I’ll never let go… <let’s go>
Christmas Dinner with the fambam consisted of traditional Korean food. Korean braised short ribs (galbijjim), fried dumplings (mandoo), sauteed vermicelli noodles (chapchae), and spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi). I also had to make The Pioneer Woman’s Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries.
We also managed to squeeze in a family photo by the tree…
What a special, memorable Christmas (and year) this was!