Boob Food: my 5 tips for surviving breastfeeding

Truly Julie offering her son Driggs diamonds and gold in exchange to make breast feeding easier:)
IMG_5912This post is about boobs…. but sorry guys, this is in context of nursing. It’s true what they say: breast feeding is HARD. Call me dramatic, but I had thoughts of Guantanamo Bay as I wept in pain and screamed in agony as I tried to get nursing right. Long story short, my son was tongue tied at birth, meaning, he could not latch deeply. By the time we discovered this, he was already 3 days old and feeding every 1-2 hours. To put it mildy, it felt like I was reopening a scab/blister every hour with the help of a piranha. For me, getting the latch right came down to a handful of very helpful, knowlegeable nurses at the hospital. I tell ya, from my brain surgery to my c-section…the nurses are the unsung heros! Of course, I do LOVE and appreciate my doctors (Thank you Dr. Shamsah Amersi for delivering our baby boy!). And once I got home, I found the below 5 items to be super helpful. To all the mamas out there, may the force be with you (and your boobs).

1) Lasinoh Gel Pads. My breast feeding experience, at first, included blood and tears. Seriously. Stock up on these gel pad as they are the only things that can give you some relief from the pain. shopping

2) Milkies Milk-Saver. Since breast milk is gold, why waste a drop?! I save many ounces of milk daily by catching it with Milkies. How you use it sounds silly, but trust me, it works. Simply weave your nipple into the device as you’re nursing your baby on the other breast. The leaking milk collects in the Milklies and before you know it, you’ve saved enough for entire bottle without ever pumping.


3) The “Arden Bra” by The Dairy Fairy. This single bra lets you nurse or hands-free pump, and it’s one of the cuter mama bras out there. It even comes with a matching undie! But most of all, this bra saves time. I’ve found that it’s pretty annoying to have to take off a nurshing bra to put on a pump-friendly bra…only to put the nursing bra back on when you’re done. With The Arden, you’re good to go.unnamed4) The Munchkin Latch bottles. The acordian nipple technology and the anti-colic valve at the bottom of the bottle are genius. Seriously, the engineers or designers who came up with this need to work for NASA. outfit-bottle-1-of-5


5) Mother’s Milk Tea/Fenugreek supplements/Korean Seaweed Soup. All three increase production of milk. Mother’s Milk Tea is great because it tastes like licorice. The fenugreek supplements are much cheaper and effective than the vitamins that are specifically marketed for breast feeding. If you read the fine print in those so-called nursing vitamins, you’ll see the main incredient is fenugreek. Korean Seaweed Soup is beyond beneficial for nursing. With so much seaweed per serving it’s loaded with calcium, iodine, fibre, omega acids, vitamin B1 & B3, while low in calorie. You can find many easy receipes online. I used this oneIMG_5260

Happy New Year! My 2015 Resolutions.

Truly Julie at the same spot in Malibu a year ago, but at a very different point in life…(smile)IMG_5746If you told me that this would be my life a year ago, I would’ve never believed you. I’d just had my brain tumor removed. I’d lost half my vision. And! I was told conceiving might be difficult for the next two years as my body healed. Happy and beyond grateful to be an outlier. My goals for 2015 and beyond are pretty simple yet major. I hope to be a good wife, a good mama, and a good citizen of the world. Remember…so much can happen in year! Survive. Thrive. And don’t forget to smile along the way.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Truly Julie and her hubby’s greatest collaboration: baby Driggs!Baby DriggsWell, needless to say, our son Driggs is the best Christmas present ever!! To us, he symbolizes everything we’ve ever wanted in life. Health, love, purpose, meaning…and LIFE itself. For those of you who asked, his full name is Driggs Jisuk Drake. His first name is a homage to Brooklyn, New York. Back when Leif and I were falling in love, we’d frollick around Brooklyn like two kids at the playground. I think just weeks into dating, we stumbled upon a street called Driggs, and no joke, I said, “I LOVE that as a name. One day if I ever have a son, I’m going to name him Driggs.” And here we are many moons later. Driggs’ middle name Jisuk is in honor of my dad’s name. My dad passed away 10 years ago as of this December 11th and as we marked his anniversary, we did so with a heavy heart…knowing our son would never meet his grandfather Jisuk. But truth be told, I felt his presense during my c-section and so much of his spirit lives on through me and my sisters. Driggs’ last name Drake is self explanatory…but as the first boy Drake grandchild, he’s got dibs on passing along Leif’s family name.

I’ve always said that all human beings have 3 things in common: we are constantly searching for purpose, meaning, and clarity in life. For me, all three “clicked” to a new profound level the minute I heard Driggs’ crying out his first breath. I’ll be honest. It’s overwhelming and almost frightening to become a parent. Pretty much, their only reality during their first few years is the one you create for them. That’s so much pressure! But, in the same breath…what an incredible honor. I’m so grateful Driggs’ has chosen me to be his mama. He’s one week old as of today and I can already tell he’s going to be a fun little Korean Viking. IMG_5562

Thankful for LIFE!

                     Truly Julie in all her 9-months-pregnant glory on Venice Beach!IMG_5139Last Thanksgiving, I was grateful for my 2nd chance at life. This Thanksgiving, I’m beyound blissful and appreciative that I’m healthy enough to create life…for where there’s life, there’s hope:) Happy Thanksgiving!

From Baby Shower to Halloween, Dr. Suess is Our THING!


This gallery contains 19 photos.

                                 Truly Julie’s Dr. Suess themed month!They say your friends are a reflection of who you are, and if that’s the case, my hubby and … Continue reading

Our Boho Vineyard Wedding!

    Once in a while, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.
Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 9.11.32 PMIn the last 10 months, I had brain surgery, eloped with my man, gained my vision back, and announced that we are expecting a little one this December. I feel like the ultimate comeback kid! Somewhere in the flurry of these monumental life moments, we also threw a “wedding”, though, we had already eloped by then:) Despite the blood, sweat and lots of Bevmo runs that it took to plan the big celebration, we’d do it all over again. 99.99% of our wedding was DIY. I want all photo (76)the future brides and grooms out there to know that with a little creativity and time, you can cut a bulk of the cost by doing most of the things yourself. Sure, it’s a bit more hectic than just showing up for the dance, but I think planning a wedding together with your partner is such a great microcosm of what marriage is all about. You’re working with a budget, dealing with family/friends politics, things falling through, all the while not losing perspective that this is just a “party”. And that, ultimately, you’re building a beautiful memory together. From the wedding invites (I swear I have carpel tunnel from writing enough invite calligraphy to rival the Torah!) to the flowers (we got them from Trader Joe’s! Spent all of $250, including flowers for my bouquet and flower crown!) to the hair and makeup team (Um, that’d be me!), so much of our big day had our personal touch. A slew of family members and friends pitched in all their talents to add to our big day. To us…this made our wedding all the more special, not to mention, possible! Condé Nast’s Brides was kind enough to feature our special day: “A Boho Vineyard Wedding in Paso Robles, California”. Brides included the detail of how my man proposed. It was pretty much the day I tried to break up with him! It’s not what you think. It’s rather very Nicholas Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 9.23.45 PMSparks. If you’re curious, click here. And like so many of Sparks’ heart tugging novels, our fairytale definitely came with its ups and downs. But the beauty is…by the time we got to the alter, we never had to say in “sickness and in health” because through our journey, we already knew. Truth is, no magazine feature or blog post, can capture the magic of July 12, 2014. With the rare super moon illuminating the sky, the rolling hills of Hammersky Vineyards ensconcing us in a space that somehow felt so expansive yet so intimate, all set to the live music of our favorite band, The Family Crest …it’s a miracle we didn’t see unicorns. The rehearsal night was also clutch Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 8.57.05 PMbecause it was pretty much all the same people, same venue, but very chill. The summer camp theme (think Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”), the taco truck, and bonfire all highlighted our playful, easygoing nature. After all, we’re just two kids from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who were lucky enough to find each other again in bustling New York. And now here we are…building a family together in California. In the spirit of our wedding…here’s to s’mores love:)

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hammersky Vineyards || Bride’s Wedding Dress: Grace Loves Lace || Shoes:Pour La Victoire || Jewelry: Vram || Hair & Makeup: The bride || Groom’s Attire: J.Crew || Flower Girls’ Attire:Zara || Ring Bearer’s Attire: J.Crew || Engagement Ring: The bride’s grandmother, Harry Winston || Wedding Bands: Vram || Florist: The bride, sister of the bride || Music: The Family Crest || Cake: Lady M Confections|| Rentals: All About Events || Photography: Ballad’s Photography

2 Weddings and a Baby!


Truly Julie and hubby, Leif, at their “wedding” rehearsal night.The theme: Glamping!

photo(4)I dropped a lot of bombshells this past week. Our July 12th wedding was actually our 2nd! Leif and I eloped last October, just one month after my brain tumor diagnosis. The reason photo (74)is perhaps the least and the most romantic. Leif was the only person with me during my brain surgery. So, in the case of any major split-second decisions in the operating room, he needed to be my “husband.” Furthermore, Leif’s insurance was much more comprehensive than mine. Leif was emotionally and logistically taking care of me:)
You could say the Good Day LA family was surprised by the photoelopement news. Watch! Only thing that could top this moment was the BIG news on my little news that I shared just the following day. Watch! I’ll share more wedding #1 (elopement) and wedding #2 pictures in the weeks to come, but for now, I wanted to share this hilarious video from our Hammersky Vineyard nuptials . Thanks SLO Motions for the memmmmm…ooooor…..riesssss (insert slow speech).

Changchella: a Bridal Festival Full of Love, Laughter & Lingerie!

                         Truly Julie (bridal) showered with so much love and light!photo (1)

I’d be lucky to have just one friend who is thoughtful, creative, fun, loving, smart, inspirational, caring, loyal and generous, but somehow, I hit the jackpot in the friendship lotto and I ended up with a dozen or so friends who are all freaking ROCK STAR human beings. This weekend (in person & in spirit) they threw me a bachelorette party/bridal shower that was so festive that we could only call it: Changchella. With handmade REAL flower crowns, boho chicness galore, and a sunset worthy of a postcard, these ladies created the most epic bride-to-be weekend. They were there when I was sick…and they are here as I embrace perhaps one of the happiest moments in my life. I’m so glad I’m able to give them a better reason to celebrate these days. Now excuse me as I need to try on a trunk full of beautiful things! 

When Someone Loves You in Sickness and in Health…YOU KNOW!

                     Truly Julie with her…(holy cow, grownup word)…fiancé!

photo (54)I had the pleasure of catching up with the Good Day LA gang this week. It’s kinda surreal. For weeks my man and I researched the best brain tumor centers around the country. Now…we’re looking for the perfect wedding venue:) Life. It always keeps you guessing. Here’s me gushing about the best man I know. 

12 Days of Christmas Gratitudes Continued…

                               Truly Julie with a full head of hair at 3 months! photo (45)7) I’m grateful my brain tumor has brought my family closer together. We hit a rough patch after my dad passed. He was the glue. However, my health scare reminded us that it’s not worth arguing about things that don’t matter…with people that matter.

Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 4.21.39 PM8) I’m happy hair grows back. I know it sounds vain and silly…but it was hard having a third of it buzzed. You can’t see a tumor (excluding X-ray). But you can see long locks hitting the floor & you most certainly can hear the loud humming of a shaver. Plus…I’ve always joked that God didn’t give me height but he gave me a lot of hair. Look at my baby picture above…I was born with a full mop! So to lose some of that identity was unsettling. However, that discomfort was short lived. My hair is growing back fast…and luckily, the bald, patchy parts are in the back of my head so it’s easier to conceal. Again…very trivial thing to worry about given the scope of everything. Regardless, I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to re-grow hair.

photo (46)9) I’m grateful I had the chance to work with Lighthouse International for the years I was in New York. For 5 years, I emceed its scholarship lunch where college students with vision loss accomplished the unthinkable. I’ll never forget the story of one scholarship recipient. She was blind since birth. At a young age, she became a single mom to a down syndrome child. Despite the challenges…she worked hard, excelled at school, and replaced the thought of “disability” with “this ability”.  Long story short, she got into a masters program at Yale. There…she married a man who respected and admired her for her differences…and had two more children. We honored her with a scholarship so she can continue her work on developing algorithms that benefit those with vision impairment. I also volunteered at the Lighthouse’s Saturday school…where children with vision loss learned how to cook, use computer programs, play instruments, make arts & crafts, etc. They focused on being handy…not “handicapped”. I share these experiences because I genuinely think the Lighthouse was put in my path to help me through this journey: one of the greatest risks of my surgery was the possibility of losing my vision. Last week…my vision test with my neuro-opthalmologist was a bit Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 5.28.26 PMdiscouraging. It’s been almost 5 weeks since my brain tumor surgery, and yet, my right field of vision is still impaired. This picture on the left is a diagram of both of my eyes. The black parts are where I can’t see. Will it get better? Maybe. Maybe not. That is out of my control. What is under my control is how I look at it. I’m grateful that I have any vision at all. I’m blessed that my left field of vision was unimpacted. I’m thankful to have met so many abled folks at the Lighthouse to know…that it’s more important to celebrate what you can do than it is to dwell on what you can’t do. Recognizing this analogy may sound trivial, but here’s how I look at it…you can complain that you have so much laundry to do. Or be thankful that you are in a well enough place to own clothes and to have access to clean water. My vision may be compromised…but I hope my spirit never falters.

10) I’m thankful for having health insurance. My brain surgery cost was equivalent to buying a 4-bedroom home. In the initial stages…it wasn’t clear if I’d be covered. At times…you have to have the procedure first, then file a claim…and only then will you find out what part of your procedure will be covered. So, in addition to the scare of having a clementine size tumor in my brain…I was also fearful of going bankrupt. Not to mention…so many of your choices – doctors, hospitals, prescriptions, pre-op/post-op care – are limited by your insurance plan. For the millions who face this dilemma…I empathize with you on a new level.

ChristmasDinner11) I’m appreciative for my appetite. I didn’t feel like eating a thing for the week I was in the hospital. And once I could eat…my jaw hurt too much to bite on anything good. I could only open it by a centimeter or so. Since the entry to my tumor was through the back of my head…they had me on my face for the 6 hour surgery. Between that and having a breathing tube wedged into my mouth…my jaw was stiff as a board for weeks. We as a society focus so much on NOT eating. Don’t forget…craving and enjoying food (with balance)  is a sign of health. So joyful that my appetite came back just in time for the holidays:) Above is my mom’s Korean New Year’s dumpling soup and cucumber kimchee. Mmmmmmm.

12) I’m beyond grateful for what lies ahead. Remember in my last blog post I talked about how you don’t have to see to have a vision? I can already tell that 2014 is going to be a lot brighter. When someone loves you at your worst…weakest…and without a sure answer of how you’ll be after a major brain operation… it provides clarity like you have 20/20 vision. Good bye, tumor. Hello, new year…new chapter. Yes