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Monthly Heroines

family life & style blog

Filtering by Tag: working mom

The One Who Time Travels Through Stories

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I'm super excited about this month's heroine. She is a dear friend of mine who seems to know just the right thing to say at the right time. She founded this community called Openseat, press play and watch the video before you read this article :) https://youtu.be/EVF9wkmzj54

She is a queen in the her own right, a storyteller, a speaker, and most of all she is a wife and a mom. This is Queen K. Smith :)

You describe yourself as a story teller. How did you get into it? Why are you so passionate about it?

I grew up in a very community centered culture in Cameroon, West Africa. We must have coined the phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child,'' lol! One of my fondest memories was when the whole family, 18+ of us (yep you read that correctly!), would gather around the fireside and listen to stories from the elders. My father was an incredible story teller; I guess you can say like father like daughter. I remember being captivated by stories at a young age. Those stories allowed me to time travel, and every time a story was told I felt something different. It didn't matter if I had heard the story before. I pulled courage and inspiration from the moments shared.

During some of the stories I held my breath during the conflict and exhaled when hope was about to break through! Now as an adult nothing has changed. I still marvel at people and their stories and I still love eating with people I meet. I want to know where they have been/where are they now/ and where they are going. As a story teller I get to take you on a journey (without paying for airfare lol).

A lot of people write stories, but not many are good in telling them. What makes the two so different?

I know some amazing story tellers, I honestly think everyone I encounter is a story teller. When I do I share, I do so with intention to build and not to destroy. A good story in the wrong environment does not accomplish anything. A great story teller paints a visual picture that will not appear if he/she is disconnected from their audience and merely just sharing an experience.


Do you personally feel like stories could make an impact in people's lives? How has it helped you personally?

Girl yes! Stories are up there with chicken tacos with avocado! Stories help encourage, reveal, teach, to pass knowledge and they help us other understand others. I have personally learned from other people's story to avoid mistakes. I have personally helped others uncover their story and their core. Stories often times bring clarity and wisdom. 4

 To you personally, what makes a good story?

Truth and Authenticity makes a great story. The key is to not make your story look like someone else's.


 You are a mom. Have you always wanted to be one? 

Always!! I come from a huge family and I have dreamed about having a football team as well, jk. We have a beautiful 2 year daughter that I prayed for. I think she looks like me, that’s my story and I am sticking to it lol. Everyone thinks that she looks like her dad. I love my family.


Do you tell stories to your daughter? If yes, what's her favorite story?

I sure do and I go all out.  She is two and I can already see in her eyes that she thinks I am dramatic. She has the beginner's bible with stories about Jesus for children; we thought that was perfect for her to learn about Jesus, the ultimate story teller.


The cool thing is that most of the stories are the miracles Jesus performed, I want her to dream big. She loves all those stories.

 If people want to listen to your stories, where should they go?

I get to do Story Telling at our Open Seat Community and different conferences/events. One upcoming event in particular will be at the Miss Africa Texas Pageant this Saturday in Plano, TX. I also have a YouTube channel under the name, Queen K Smith. I have some upcoming stuff that I am going to doing specifically geared towards stories. Be on the lookout, you may visit my website and subscribe for upcoming activities and events.

The One Who Juggles Motherhood and Online Business

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I can't remember how I found her instagram account, but I remember getting interested at this momma's profile picture. I was almost certain that she was a fellow mom-blogger. But she turned out to be an Etsy shop owner! "Whoa, does she also stay at home with her kid?," I wondered, "How does anyone manage to do this?"  

I've heard a number of other mothers who really want to do their own thing, starting up a blog or a business or something, because they know that they have the passion, the talent, and the education to support them. But, they're either too scared or too lazy to do it. It seems so hard, right? Building something from scratch? Maintaining it, pouring your all to it. But then, isn't it all worth it? Isn't having a flexible schedule that allows you to spend more time with your child while doing what you love worth the hard work?

Yes, I know, it's easier said than done. But this woman right here seems to be doing it pretty well! Ready to learn from her? :)

Meet Jacki Brown.




Have you always wanted to be a mother? 

Yes!  Recently my mom found an old essay I wrote when I was about 10 about what I wanted to be when I grew up. The first thing on the list of things I wanted was to be a mom. I've always wanted to be a mom and have a big family and lots of babies, 1 down hopefully lots more babies to go.

I was a full time college student before becoming a mom, so I worked jobs here and there, including a tutoring job, alongside school but I never entered the real workforce per say. I graduated with my BA in Psychology at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) 20 days before I gave birth to Eli! So I went from full time student to full time mom just like that.




Motherhood in 3 words for you

Hard, funny and awesome.


Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I think it ultimately started with a desire for both Zac and I to work from home for ourselves or to free up time to be able to travel and road trip! Little Native was started last November by me as a way to do something I really like and make some extra income then we finally decided together that we wanted to start a leather and woodworking business called Arrow & Board this past August. Of course our dream of working full time at home for ourselves (or in an airstream on the road into the middle of Montana or something ;) is still far off but maybe someday! Today though my husband just started a new job and I am enjoying life at home with my babe all while running our businesses!




What does your husband think about all this?

Zac is very supportive of anything I do and is my main go-to guy for questions about either business. He's a numbers guy and I'm a creative so we work well together (most of the time ;) and support each other.


Any mommy-entrepreneur that inspires you?

My aunt! She started and runs love41.com it's a for-profit company that gives all their proceeds to orphans, widows and street kids in Rwanda!


What's the biggest challenge in balancing business & family life?

Time! When Eli is awake during the day I try to not work on filling orders etc. I try to spend my time more intentionally focused on him. Same thing with my husband, we always try to at least eat dinner together in the evening and try to go to bed at the same time ( these two things sound so easy and maybe most people have them down but they can be hard for us to do).




Obviously some days I can't achieve all the things I mentioned, some days I just have too much to do (today is one of those days) but having the mindset of intentionally spending time with my boys helps. Plus I work my butt off during naptime.


It takes time. Don't get discouraged, starting Little Native was slooooow gooooing but I kept going and it paid off. Stay inspired, keep on keeping on, for me that was continuing on making designs for shirts or creating bags and having fun with it. You'll get there, keep up the good work.


Where did you get the idea to start Little Native shop?

It honestly came out of a want to have Eli dressed really cute without having to pay a whole lot of money but it's turned into something more! We are part Comanche Indian so the Native American Indian inspired designs seemed fitting and with the idea that every kid is a "Little Native" to somewhere I thought it was a great name for my brand!




I started looking into hand screen printing and found out that it was easier than it looked so I tried it and loved it! I've got a lot to learn still but I'm getting there and looking to the future with new ideas for Little Native.



How do you find inspiration for your new designs?

I stick to Native American inspired designs! It's part of my heritage and family so I take those classic designs and draw them out myself into my own style of design and then make them into screens for tees.

  With Arrow & Board, how involved are you in the whole process (production, marketing, etc)?

My husband does most of the woodworking part but for the leather working I am very involved, I know how to make all of our products by hand and am frequently the one who is filling orders on a day to day basis. Other than handcrafting products I am the social media and photography girl! I'm learning more about SEO and how to get our company out there and seen by people. I'm excited about the future of Arrow & Board!

  Any future plans for the brands and the family?

Currently some of Arrow & Board products include Apple Watch Bands, iPhone 6 Wallet Sleeve and a bohemian style fringe bag but we are working on a simple wallet, a field notes case and a couple other things. Arrow & Board is fun and I feel like it has lots of potential to do really well! Little Native has had the same designs for quite a while so I've got plans to get some new designs out (I really want to do a thunderbird print!) before Christmas. Plus I've started making personalized hand stamped leather bracelets, that was inspired by all the leatherworking involved in Arrow & Board.




As for our family, we are moving to Austin in the next couple of months, my husband just started a new job there! We're in the process of putting our house on the market and house hunting for a new place. We are going to miss our family and our church home and friends here in San Antonio but know and trust that this move is part of the plan that God has for our lives. We can't wait to see what He has in store for our businesses and our lives there in Austin! Oh and yes, babies, I want more and we're ready, so whenever it happens it happens!


At the time of this interview, Jacki hadn't find out about the fact that she's actually having another baby. Show love and congratulate her on instagram here :)




The One Who Has Found Herself

Debora Manusama-Sinaga


When I decided to write more about my motherhood journey and others' on this blog, I didn't really have the confidence. Why? Because I had only been a mom for 2 months at the time, I am young and still clueless about all this -- so who am I to talk about motherhood online? Plus! there are thousands of other mothers around the world who already got their blogs out there, why should I make one and be just a face in a crowd? But then Mr. Man convinced me that everyone has his/her own message. He actually just mentioned it a few days ago. What you write about, what you experience can never be identical to those of others, because we are all different! Made of different sets of habits, past experiences, cultures, beliefs, etc. So why not learn from other mothers instead and get inspired? Besides, if you say"why start something, it's nothing new anyway" every time you have an idea, you will end up inventing nothing, right?

So I started to learn from others and stumbled upon this extraordinary mom-blog called mama-maya, a beautiful and an intimate blog about the journey of a mother of three lovely kids, Marcia Josephine the M1 (6), Micah Joshua the M2 (4), Maxton James the M3 (1). A diary-keeper herself, Maya has always found writing to be therapeutic. And to read the words she's written is like "going on a time machine," she described.

More than just to share her journey, Maya intends her blog to be a record-keeper for her children to later know her story, the joys they bring her, and to understand why she does the things she does...

"I want them to know me. Because I know that my brain would never be able to contain all these stories. I write, so I can remember, so that I can tell my children about my journey. These early years, these so-called golden years, they will not remember. When time has passed and we’re old, our memories would have failed us and we have nothing to tell them, our children would have only seen the end result of our parenting. They wouldn’t have known of the journey. I write, so they may know"


What a thoughtful motivation.

I've never really thought about blogging and writing that way. And I've never been so speechless about answers given by my interviewee, because they are just beautiful enough that I do not really need to do that much editing on them.

An inspiring mother, a word enchantress who is into Sara Bareilles' Brave & Katy Perry's Roar  at the moment, here is Mama Maya :)


First of all, what's it like to have 3 kids? Did you actually plan to have 3?

Having three kids is, well... let’s just say that there is never a dull day in this house. My husband and I always wanted more than one child, but we’ve left the planning entirely to God. We just did our part :) Our M3 caught us a little by surprise. We were quite comfortable being a family of four and while the subject of a fifth member did come up once, we agreed to take it off the table and revisit again only after the World Cup in 2014. But God intervened, and now that fifth member of our family sometimes sit up with my husband at night, getting excited over the play. He supports the Netherlands. Or so I’d like to think.


You're called "mama maya", have you always wanted to be a mom?

Honestly, I used to dream about being a woman of power, sitting in the corner office of an international corporation. But never in my wildest dream have I ever imagined being a mother to these three little beings. But I’m here today, I am a full time mom and I want to own it. I have tried the whole working-mom thing, the part-time working mom thing, you know, always attributing myself to some kind of job or a title on a business card. And it wasn’t until I really submit myself to this role that I really found satisfaction. More than that, I actually found myself.

And if I look back, I don’t think that any dreams would be substantial enough to even describe the thrill that is motherhood.

I decided to leave the corporate world (she was the General Manager of Marketing of Kenny Rogers Roasters Indonesia! - moz) and become a full time mom at the end of 2011. It wasn’t an easy shift for me. I knew in my heart that this was where I was supposed to be, but it took a lot to brush off the insecurities I had as a result to the decision. But things went uphill the moment I owned up to motherhood. Being a mom was what I do, and it’s tiring sometimes as all jobs are, but I get to see my children grow with my fingerprints on them and that’s the joy, right there. I love it. That’s what being a “woman of power” is to me now.

“Mama Maya” is something my friends used to sing out to me from the monkey bars back in Grade 4. The song went: “Mama, Mama Maya, we wish you joy... we wish you joy!” I guess that kind of stuck with me... and that could have very well been a prophecy, I don’t know. Haha.

3 things that motherhood has taught you so far :

  • Firstly, is to completely depend on God. There is no way I could ever do this on my own. My children are His children too, and He has every best interest in their lives. I believe that He is taking care of them just as much as He is taking care of me. Then I can focus on being a warrior instead of a worrier :)
  • Secondly. I used to joke to my husband, that “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” is the bedrock of our marriage. But who knew that there could be so much truth to find behind what seems like a really selfish statement? A mother’s heart is home for her children. We must guard our hearts to ensure that they have a nice place to live in and to come home to. (Ouch! A slap on the face right here! I guess happiness is a choice, not a result -moz)


  • Thirdly, I need to be the person I want my children to be. Because no matter how much convenient it would be for me, “do what I say, not what I do” is textbook and isn’t that applicable in life. (Well, not in mine anyway.) Being a mom has forced me more times that I would have liked to expand and rapidly grow into a better person.

Why did you choose to 'put yourself out there' and blog about your family for public to read?

While I wrote of my experiences, I realized that there were others who were going through the same things as I was, at that exact same time. There were others who were waltzing through the same season as I was. I found that I had a thing or two to share.

If I’m not posting a diary entry for my children about their updates, I particularly love to focus my messages on inviting readers to relax and take care of themselves. So many moms get sucked into mothering and so wrapped up with the day-to-day that they forget that they are also people who need to be taken care of just the same, that they were wives before they were mothers, and that to admit not knowing everything is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Mothers fight hard battles everyday, and sometimes, all we need is just a friendly encouragement.

So I share and I blog mainly to encourage. But while I thought that I was telling stuff, I was actually learning, because these people also had volumes to share.

Any positive impact you've gained from blogging? 

The positive impact of my blogging, other than to find a community, is to get writing gigs. I now ghost-blog for a couple of sites, write copy for websites, translate books, and basically get to do what I love from the comfort of my own home, while still having the time to drive my children to and from school. What started off as a hobby has evolved into a financial support for my family on more than one occasion and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

Screen shot 2014-06-30 at 3.52.41 PM

How do you make the time to blog with three kids running around?

Words seems to flow in silence. So, I usually write after my children are asleep. Or when my husband extends his kindness to me by letting me have some quiet writing time while he watches the kids. Having Grandma around is also a great blessing. At Grandma’s house, chocolate is the norm and Mama’s rules don’t apply. They love it there and Mama loves to score some time for herself. It’s a win-win.


Any other blogs you religiously check?

There are many I randomly check, but I really love visiting Melissa Jordan on www.braveinlove.com, Jen Lula on www.jenloveskev.com, Ashley on www.thehandmadehome.net,  random stories and updates on www.mommiesdaily.com or www.theurbanmama.com and Naomi on www.lovetaza.com because really, who doesn’t love a New Yorker Mama? :) But mostly I’ve learned to keep up through their IG feeds.

What's next for you and family? Any upcoming project / holiday plans?

Next for our family is probably the ongoing work in progress towards entrepreneurial/financial freedom. We’re still trying to find the rhythm between raising our children and growing our business while learning to dance to the music. Other than that, holidays... yes! That’s always in the books for us... we love to travel. The kids are praying for a winter holiday this year, so we’re working very hard to make that happen.


A piece of advice for new moms like me :)  ?

Parenting is a continuous process. Never stop learning. Never stop educating yourself. Never be too “mature” to learn from your children, because they can teach you a lot of things.

Always make the time to remind yourself that you are doing a good job, to give yourself a pat on the back and to tell yourself that you are a good mom. Cut yourself some slack. So what if beds aren’t made once in a while? We’ve never heard of people dying of an unmade bed, am I right? (I am sighing in relieve, thank you for this, mama maya, I can't help but to call you 'mama' too -moz)

Forgive yourself, a lot! Nobody is perfect anyway :)

Also, when you’re busy taking care of everybody else, don’t forget to take care of you.


The Upper West-sider

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Now that I'm officially an immigrant mom in the U.S., I think it's wise to hear and share some of the stories of moms who have been here way before me and experienced the perks of raising a kid or two in a foreign country. This one right here has only been in the U.S. for less than a year,  but here's the thing --> She is fresh from Indo, facing the challenges of not having a domestic helper + not having a carrier at the moment (these 2 things must be causing a major 'culture-shock', right?) while adapting to her new role as a mom in the Empire State that is none other than New York!!
Here is the young, loving, and always-eager-to-learn, Yania Andarini.


I have always been an active woman. With a degree from University of Indonesia in Dutch Literature, I have worked for a while as a media enggagement assistant manager at PT. Combiphar, before giving it up to accompany my husband in his studies in Columbia University, New York last year.
yania 2
At the start of our marriage, we didn't plan to have a kid yet to prolong our 'honeymoon' phase. However, we didn't try to postpone pregnancy either. We were just going to let it all happen naturally, according to God's will. Thankfully, He heard our prayers at exactly one year after our wedding.
When we found out about the baby, my husband and I were excited yet nervous at the same time. Why? because we were going to have an interview at the U.S. Embassy at the following week. Would they approve my visa if I've told them that I was pregnant?
Again, thankfully, it all went smoothly and we finally got to the Big Apple when I got to my second trimester, five months into the pregnancy to be exact.
yania 3_Fotor
Soon after, in 9 January 2014, our little man Harsya Aryasatya Ibrahim was born.
Unlike other moms back home who might have got their family and relatives around during labor, I didn't have anyone but my husband. It was just the two of us at the hospital, waiting for Harsya to be born. It got more challenging when we were told that Harsya's bilirubin numbers went up and that he needed to stay at the NICU.
My first weeks of motherhood got even tougher when I noticed Harsya's inability to latch on while breastfeeding. The confusion kept on building up because I was just not used to having a baby yet. Even though I've read tons of articles on taking care of babies during my pregnancy, actually doing it is a different thing! Frankly speaking, I found it pretty hard to enjoy motherhood during those days.
But again, thankfully, my husband stood by me. He helped me a lot in taking care of baby Harsya, though he had to show up in class the next morning. More importantly, he was patient enough to handle my emotional cycle that went up and down a lot during that period.
yania 1
As Harsya continues to grow, I begin to find joy in my new life as a mother. I begin to take it slow and learn to keep it all simple. The absence of domestic helper is definitely a challenge, because I've got to do it all by myself! But I've learned to take it easy and to leave the chores when Harsya needs me. The washing and cleaning can wait, right?
I've realized that when the mom is not happy, the baby won't be happy. They can tell the difference! That's why I try my best to keep a positive energy around him although I don't always feel like it.
To say I do not miss my working days would be a lie. I miss them at times, but I try to embrace this season we're in now. I am grateful for the fact that I get to experience all of this now in New York! Raising a kid, having a little family, living abroad...I view this phase as my extra long leave from work :)
Later on when we have settled back to Indonesia, I would like to go back to work. Why? Cause I know it's possible to balance things out. My mother is a living proof. She is a doctor who could still manage to wake up at dawn to prepare exam preparation quizzes for me, before she left for work. A mom who was always there for me when I needed her, someway, somehow. A mom who is tough yet patient. And a mom who is also a bestfriend to me.
It is going to take a lot for me to get to that point, but for now, I aim to focus on raising Harsya, supporting my husband as he continues his studies here, and make the most of our time here in New York..New York..


The One who Finally Understands

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

You might have heard of this momma-preneur from one of the fastest-growing local clothing lines to date, Cotton Ink, as she is its co-founder and Brand & Campaign Marketing Director. I personally first met Ria Sarwono 3 years ago, when I was producing a fashion-themed radio show on Trax FM called Trax Style (on which she gave us some free scarfs yeay! haha). Been following her on instagram and omg, I am so fascinated by how she makes motherhood looks fun! Little did I know that Ria had to go through quite some serious baby blues before she got to this point. This is her story.



I got pregnant at the 4th month of my marriage. The pregnancy took me by surprise cause I felt like I still needed more time to adapt to the marriage life itself while managing my business. The first 4 months of the pregnancy were the toughest! I often get mad at my husband back then, and when I told my business partner that I was pregnant, she cried in fear of losing me as a friend.


Things were not so smooth at all until I started to enjoy my pregnancy on the fifth month. And finally  on May 18th, 2012, my baby boy Aksara Sajjana Mulia was born.

The struggle didn't stop there, though, as I began to experience baby blues for about 6 months after my post-partum period. I felt so powerless. In fact, the first year of motherhood turned out to be agitating for me, because it has caused my life and my routines to change drastically! I then apologized to Ara, for every negativity I have allowed him to see or hear from when he was conceived. And magically, he said "yes mom".
 I then learn to balance my motherhood life and my work life. I am so grateful for the fact that my son is healthy and joyful today. Moreover, I am grateful for the fact that I can now accept the fact that I have a kid that I need to take care of. That I have this little monster that depends on his mother.
Of course 'doing it all' is not easy at all. Although I am running my own business, a lot of responsibilities are still demanded of me. I might not have to show up every day from 9 to 5, doing presentations and all. But I have to strategize and figure out ways to hire the right people for my team. Plus, I gotta nurture that person into my company's culture, and be his or her role model. It's a different kind of challenge and responsibility. And it's the kind I prefer to being employed. Thankfully, I am blessed with a great business partner. And together we are launching Cotton Ink's upper line at the end of the year. 
On top of all this, keep in mind that to completely balance everything is impossible. So in my case, I just go with it and do my best. My son has motivated me be to become a better person, and I want to thrive to give him a great childhood. I remember how good it was to have my mother around, when I was younger. She was (and is) such a comforter.  My struggles are nothing compared to the struggle of this full-time mom who raised three kids including myself. Her presence was the reason I rushed home from school. If there was no ibu, there would be no Ria. And now I understand.






The One who Left the Fashion World and Came Back Again

Debora Manusama-Sinaga


A lot of women sacrifice their dreams for their kids. Some sacrifice their kids for their dreams. But this one right here wants it all, because she can.

I first met Prisya in 2009, when I was working at AMICA magazine (an Italian fashion magazine franchised by MRA Media Group). She was this fashionable girl whom I heard went to the prestigious Central St. Martin's School, London. I also heard that she won a Mattel contest to design a Barbie costume when she was younger. "Wow, this girl's gonna go far in this industry," I said to myself as we were being introduced. Not so long after, I left the job to work at a radio station, while her career flourished to the point where she became a Jr. Fashion Editor at DEWI Magazine. But then, she resigned. Her gorgeous wedding and a little boy named Atharjahja Wira Nugroho were the reasons why.
"It was hard to let go of my dream of becoming 'somebody' in the fashion industry. But then the first trimesters of my pregnancy were really rough, I was constantly sick and dizzy. So I knew I just had to quit work anyway," she recalled the experience. Though Prisya had always wanted to be a mom, everything that came with it was not as easy as she thought it would be.
However, she pressed on and survived early motherhood, to the point where it became her comfort zone. Being a stay-at-home mom could get somewhat comfortable, right? But then, Prisya knew she had to make a change. She had to realize her dreams in her own terms. Though it was challenging, she then started MATROISHKA, a clothing line that offers more stylish options for nursing and pregnant mothers. "I have all the means to run my own business : vision, mission, commitment, strategy, taste, and of course support from my husband! so why not?"
Why do you choose to run your own business though? Why not just go back to work? "Well, first and foremost, it's because of flexibility. I want the freedom of choosing when and when not to work. Other than that, for me, when you run your own business, the sky is the limit! it's so challenging!", says the woman who was so pleased when I told her that these are the reasons why Princeton and Harvard graduates left their jobs to run their own businesses from home too! It's called the "Opt-Out Revolution", I quoted it in my previous post here (2011, I was single back then), but you can read the NY Times article here.
You do have to keep in mind though, that running your own business is far more complicated and stressful than working as an employee. "You can't just go home and not think of your company. Your business is your reputation. You put your money in it. And the success or the downfall of the business depends on you!" shared Prisya. "I find myself thinking about my business even at times when I have to spend time with Athar, that's why I schedule my work time only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. I have to work on the weekend sometimes, but I can balance it all," she continued. Of course, cause she's the boss!
Inspired by her own mom and her mom-in-law, Prisya wants to continue to be a good mother ("an even better one than them!" she said) while realizing her dreams. She left the fashion world for a while and came back to it with a different mission and a bigger impact this time. She's touching the lives of others through clothing, while still paying full attention to her son (she still breastfeeds the 2-year-old boy).
What's next for Prisya? the birth of her second child and of course expanding MATROISHKA. She is currently working on 'Real Mothers' campaign, which celebrates everyday moms with different backgrounds and challenges.
She does thank God for the presence of her loyal nanny. However, when going on a vacation and on the weekends, she usually leaves the nanny at home. "And the good thing is, Athar still prefers his dad and I over his nanny! haha!" she chuckled as we ended the conversation. Ah, if she can have it all. We can too :)