Go To Seoul

My notes said. So after realizing that no we don’t want to fly to Pusan I changed our flights to Seoul approximately 5 different phone calls later and with a slight penalty ($) later we flew to Seoul (with 3 kids, 4 backpacks, 2 luggage bags, a stroller and the two of us). The “short flight” went relatively well. Note to self…when traveling one should ALWAYS request the bassinet it seems (too bad I’m just learning that now).
Change of the Guard_1
Anyhow…I’m writing this to remember the chaos, the fun, the intensity we’re ignoring and to generally laugh at my mistakes.
Success 1: the invention of the travel day.
We landed an hour later than anticipated and got into the hotel around 7pm…again later than anticipated. Our free shuttle bus came with the perks of being free ie waiting game. But hey with littles, the time to run was perfect. I sat, wondered at how many people were shaming us for our kids antics but frankly…an hour bus ride with calmish kids…worth it.
Happy Lunar Celebration_Seoul_Feb 2018
Success 2: Adjusting Day
Considering no one really slept that first night (or any of the following nights)…scheduling a visit to a local palace in Seoul was a blast! It was so neat to compare architecture to our current host country called home. We spent a bunch of time on this day realizing that the KTX train (I’d followed directions but on location they couldn’t find my tickets…lesson learned…don’t rely on the internets) was largely sold out and to get to the Olympics we had to take said train. Somehow we scored THREE tickets to our location and grabbed the train. In that heightened state of concern somehow “PyeongChang 2018” meant PyeongChang train station in my mind. So we got off at PyeongChang and wondered why more people weren’t getting off. Fun fact…our events were in Gangneung and the station was called Gangneung. So luck, grace of God, amazingness, we got THREE more tickets at PyeongChang to Gangneung 40 minutes away.
Happy Lunar Celebration_Seoul_Feb 2018_2
Surprise 2: Wait What
Upon arrival at Gangneung station…1 hr later…Why we were being individually photographed by very aggressive photographers put us on extreme edge. George soon thereafter got an EMERGENCY ALERT in Korean on his phone….Close by there were about 100 uniformed police protecting people marching with American and Korean flags. A car drove by saying something in Korean with a sign about the political Olympics. A man was walking by with a mega phone saying something about Kim Jun-Un. Needless to say we were uneasy. Google translate on George’s phone wouldn’t work. Hastily we moved away from where we were standing and determined the emergency alert to be about fire safety (it was super dry). All was fine.
Olympics 2018_1
Travel a:
Again with the details…the distance from the train to our shared airBnB was …well it took us about an hour to go 20 minutes. When we got off at our stop, the bus announced we were at a prison. Oh ok fun. Check your location route too. A quick $2 taxi later, we piled out and arrived at our destination 2 minutes ahead of our friends.
Good, Fearless Friends:
Traveling and touring with good friends with kids was just incredibly awesome. The oh we are going to leave early so we get there with ten minutes to spare or late was just awesome. Good times, good friends. Fantastic. We enjoyed hockey, ice dance practice, Korean food (we swear we’re out of all food but somehow weren’t haha). Somehow Dabu was able to get day of tickets to see curling. That was a miracle feat in itself. Then to get six tickets together by the US curling team!!! So crazy! Our combined tribe of 4 kids did AWESOME! No real breakdowns. Ok Sweetpea decided she couldn’t walk. Elle wanted to EEEEEEE (eat) and Gretchen had a massive blowout requiring a full outfit change (sorry for that detail). The curling arena ran out of food so we eeked by on popcorn and prayed for peace. We bused home, ran to the convenience store raided their kimchi, rice and noodles and were thankful to BB for a delicious dinner….at 1am.
Other Moments of Awesome:
  • You never really realize how important little details like the lack of curtains can directly impact your life. I’m pretty sure no one loved the 7am alarm clock. Thanks Elle.
  • Walking back from dinner watching Elle yell “we go” every five seconds as she toddle-ran chasing after George/Sweetpea’s race…cutest minutes everCurling

10 Things My Civilian Boss Taught Me

I wrote this a while ago.  It’s an overly honest note to myself.  I learned a lot from one of my first civilian bosses.  He’s since moved to another job so I can post it now.
When I got off of active service I thought I had seen it all and more or less reached the pinnacle of leadership. I understood to be a Ship’s Captain that there would be things I needed to know but generally as a leader I felt competent, confident and ready.  I mean at that point I had managed underway refueling, managed a plant during a Reactor Complex Overhaul, received reports of equipment damage, made multiple strategic suggestions, helped light the spark in people….what more could I learn? Wow, don’t I sound arrogant. Yikes.
Right before I left Active Service
Then I grew up.
I think realizing that there is so much for me to learn — was eye opening.  Almost like getting my BS…I know a rain drop of information compared to the sea of knowledge.  So to remember some recent leadership lessons my boss thought me…
  1. A Leader Doesn’t Have to Be an Extrovert
  2. Schedule time to Organize your calendar (don’t let it rule you) or as I like to say these days: Plan, Predict, Prioritize, Communicate (why can’t I think of a word for communicate that starts with a P!)
  3. Read all email every day…and respond in a timely manner
  4. Process training and pay requests in near immediate time
  5. Clear off your desk (keep it organized)
  6. Schedule time to talk with employees about performance or to just talk
  7. Truly operate under an open door policy (despite other deadline pressures)
  8. Be Transparent
  9. Take time off for you
  10. Leave work on time
Nov 2017
Believe it or not…I sleep more these days than I did before.
Then a note to myself as a mom of three girls: remember what your priority is —
a. Consistently pick up children from school/childcare on time;
b. Be present when you are home with them (put the phone/tablet/electronics down)

The Art of Saying Ye—Nope

I have a problem.  I like to do too much.  For some reason I have the hardest time saying no to all the awesome things life has to offer.  In 2013, I started prioritizing what I would commit to as noted in this post (Drowning is Not an Option).   Essentially I decided I would mature the wife, mother, employee, Reservist and self part of my life.  Then I tried to add a “slicer“…that failed.

Zoey Shimoda_Sept 2017_5
I want to be fully present: These are the minutes

So let’s fast forward to today…it’s amazing how you can only “plan, predict and prioritize” so much.  Over the last wow 5ish years…I’ve been perfecting my ability to do things.

Hi Daddy_Shimoda_Sept 2017
Hi Daddy — We were missing George on his business trip

So when my boss asked me if I wanted to increase my work hours from 32 per week to 40…I excitedly said YES!  But then I thought about it and he called me out for my inability to stick to the yes.  So this year’s focus is saying no.  I want to focus on work/life balance (you know things like eating, sleeping…drinking water).  I’m not going to answer all the questions I can answer on Facebook.  I’m not going to provide unsolicited advice.  I’ll write about it and just try to focus on the me part a little more this year.

Zoey_Snapshot in time_Nov 2017
I’m going to own this decision.  Focus on work/life balance.

So 2018…this year is for me.  I’m going to work out, drink water every day, eat, try to sleep, and say no to over committing myself.

If You Give a Toddler a Lollipop

She will stick it in her hair.

That’s the theme of this last week. A calamity of events I’ll say. But you know we did it together and it was AWESOME. Seriously.

My youngest brother is getting married later this month to an amazing lady whom I love. It is important to me that we attend. So naturally four of us, sans George (still on his business trip), piled into a plane and took a quick hop home … ok not so quick. Our first flight was 9 hours.


So I thought I’d reflect on flying solo and general travel with three for a minute. Let’s start at leaving our house…Armed with the standard flying luggage…you know my trusty umbrella stroller, two car seats, one large luggage roller bag with clothes to support 40’F to 80’F weather, activity backpacks and the standard infant necessities I marched the crew to the train. According to Google that should take 3 minutes…it took an hour (lugging all that down two flights of concrete stairs is a challenge). Then fast forward two hours on the train where Elle decided she was done with the train…I think the icing on that cake was the final train station didn’t have an elevator and had four flights of concrete stairs. That took another hour and I hurt myself (hip flexors I think) double wearing and carrying that luggage bag.


We had left the day prior to our flight to ensure no last minute awesomeness. When we arrived at the hotel in high spirits (at 1 am…Hahahaha) our elation was somewhat crumpled when our flight out was cancelled. Okay…so naturally the next day we walked to the local library in the rain because it would rain all day…and enjoyed a good read. That walk to and from the library was full of Sweetpea chatter….jokes, realizations and lessons she needed to teach me, advice on life, and the ever reassurance that I’m a strong Mom and that I can do this. As we traipsed back to our hotel, the moments were not lost on me. I felt I had the biggest smile and warmest heart. What a beautiful moment in time. I will treasure this.


Ok yes another fun fact about travel is sometimes little ladies get a little bit uneasy about new places to sleep. I celebrated the hotel when I saw the pack and play but quickly realized no one, including Gigi, wanted anything to do with it. So I found it immensely entertaining that to fit all four of us in a double (full? I don’t know whatever is one size down from a queen) we all had to sleep cross wise on the bed. I’m just glad that all 5’3” ish of me is around the width of that mattress. The room was the last room available (and in shuttle range of the air terminal)…Elle felt so special snuggled right next to me…except this lovely little lady felt the need to name and point out each body part she knew on all sleeping people: Toe!!!!! Nooooooo (nose)!!!!! Ear!!!!! Her enthusiasm was precious and punctuated with giggles and laughter with Sweetpea. At first, I was irritated and then listened to them and hoped those precious sounds are something I will always remember.



To be honest, I chose a military flight (Space A) for our first adventure because mistakes are bound to happen ie how does one get on or off an airplane with capable four yr old, an infant, a toddler who runs and two car seats (yup…no idea…just realizing that one)…I didn’t think that one through. Not to assume my military sisters and brothers aide….but I did and I will pay the amazing support forward.

So some of the fun:
1. You know with three someone oftentimes needs something. There is hardly a dull moment. BUT….after three hours of Elle’s frustration (the standard crying, yelling, screaming, anger with brief lulls as toys and her gracious neighbor temporarily distracted her) at being in her car seat…she passed out.
2. Right when Elle passed out…Gigi woke up. BUT with three hours til landing — Gigi fell asleep.
3. Right when Gigi fell asleep, Sweetpea had her first melt down on this plane…the warming eye mask I’d brought with us was too hot for her and didn’t fit her head. So a lullaby later, snuggled in an airplane blanket, she fell asleep.
4. I promptly fell asleep…Elle and Gigi in their car seats and Sweetpea…well she had two seats by the window by herself and was now fast asleep with her legs shooting into the isle.
5. I do not think the four of us can fit in the airplane bathroom. Thankfully I had car seats to secure kids in…not sure how I feel about leaving kids for restroom breaks. I’m really not such the fan.
6. Lollipops were genius for take off/landing until I saw Elle matte it in her hair.
7. New toys were great time passers….Sweetpea informed me that her next fidget spinner …well she wants one to light up one “like Cyrus”…her preschool buddy. Peer pressure starts so young…as does consumerism!
8. Filling out customs forms is simply hilarious. “On this flight the flight attendant does not have a pen so please borrow from your neighbor.” That’s funny…or not. Because seriously where did I pack the pen….
9. I was so thankful for some of the games on my tv monitor…that blackjack game kept my brain awake. I just don’t like the idea of falling asleep while holding Gigi. I should be fine but that “should” factor has many endings some of which I want nothing to do with…that’s a horrid thought.


Instant Pot Thoughts

Flowers_April 2017

I thought I’d continue my Instant Pot or Instapot thoughts.  So far I’m finding that the instapot is not:

  1. Going to help me lose weight…I feel people start cooking healthier foods with the Instapot (?)…I will say Indian cuisine calls for coconut milk etc etc and though delicious it IS high in fat.
  2. Going to save time.  Most of the recipes say “25 minutes” but fail to account for things like a) I don’t chop like a chef, b) we have three children and two dogs, c) I forgot where the garam masala is and d) the instapot takes time to pressurize and depressurize…so I plan on an hour for each meal.

What the Instapot does allow for:

  1. Hands off while cooking amazingness.  I can be present while someone needs a book read, a diaper change, a face washed, a crayon wall drawing rescued…etc.
  2. Cooking frozen meats to cooked deliciousness without having to thaw the meat out
  3. Cooking two meals on a Sunday in a reasonable amount of time so that I can heat up Monday’s dinner but then cook Tuesday’s dinner the day prior.
Coke with low sugar maybe no calories
The Instapot is not the Coke 0 of cooking.  High fat is still high fat…

I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes:

Butter Chicken (It’s not spicy … just delicious)

Chicken Korma

Pork Carnitas


Then add that into my other “in a pinch” recipes:

So Life Happens

Only If You Have Time

Two to Three Kids!

We welcomed Gigi into our lives a little over a week ago. So far she is the most amazing baby ever.  Just a generally happy little girl.  She sleeps through Sweetpea and Elle’s anti-quiet playtime and generally goes with whatever is going on.  Before having her, 3 didn’t seem to bad. Now we’re a week or so into it all and … as a good friend said…having more children is still introducing a new person to your routine.  So yes things area bit slower, take a little longer, but so far so good.

Zoey_Negishi Park_Sept 2017_3
Elle LOVES Gigi

My only real concern is Elle.  She LOVES baby G.  She seriously thinks Gigi is her real live baby.  Allot of my time is spent protecting Gigi from Elle.  In an effort to make interactions positive, we’re focusing on gentle touches and loving sister…but not LOVING sister.  So lots of watching there.

Sweetpea is an INCREDIBLE help

Sweetpea argues with me to help more.  I don’t want her to feel burdened by siblings or helping but she seriously wants to.  I have to make an effort to not ask her for too much.  She will go and do so much.  I’d rather she still be four.

So that leaves me.  I thought I’d be honest.  Physically, consistent with the past, I’m about 10 lbs from my pre-baby weight.  That will go away soon due to breastfeeding.  I bring this up because the first indication someone sees is physical.  So it looks like everything is great.  The problem is sometimes there is more than physical.  For me, post baby can be a time of difficulty.  I do great on the physical return to myself, it’s the brain part that’s difficult.  I get anxious.  Post Sweetpea I didn’t realize that not everyone experiences anxiety/depression.  So this time, I’m focusing on establishing a routine, doing something every day for me, task management, organization, taking vitamins, getting out of the house in the mornings (when I’m anxious).  Things seem to be progressing better than in the past…which is so good.  I’ll be solo-parenting here soon so the better off I am…I’d really appreciate it.

“Let’s Compromise Mom.”

Probably not what I was expecting my then two year old Sweetpea to say.  I remember looking at her and thinking who. are. you???????? Oh yeah that’s right, you’re echoing things I say.  As Sweetpea has grown, so has her logic, her vocabulary, her curiosity, and her capability.

The Body
Mom, Can you tell me what this does?

This past week preschool had a “wear your favorite color” to class day…Sweetpea’s response, “Mom, I need something spectacular to wear tomorrow.”  We ultimately settled settled on a favorite dress…Then follow this by the excitement that it’s her day to do her laundry…It’s moments like these I remember but also forget Sweetpea is 4.  I forget what 4 is supposed to mean.

Sister Playing

Then I slow down from the hundred other things I’m supposed to be doing and watch a quiet moment between sisters.  I look at what they’re playing with and realize four and one are….four and one.   It’s me calming down and being patient.  It’s realizing that though I told someone to put their toys away (seventeen hundred times), someone probably didn’t register it or see their toys on the floor.  It’s realizing that the “water on the stone” still applies.  It’s remembering that Daniel Tiger is still an interesting show.

Stacking toy
One day this won’t be a major accomplishment or even a toy in our house

Wholesome Living: Finding Balance