Mom in the spotlight: Chicago food blogger on motherhood

Julie Yoon, 36, is a food blogger and YouTube personality. We sat down with her to talk about life with husband Joe Yoon and baby Lincoln.

How has the transition to becoming a mom been?

It’s been a really surprising journey for me. … What I realized is that instinct is a lot stronger than you realize, and that every single baby is different. So you have to take whatever advice you get from friends and family with a grain of salt because I really believe that each mom is designed for that baby. You know your baby more than anyone else. … I really understand unconditional love now. … You’re easy to forgive, you’re easy to forget. I think that just experiencing him every day as he changes, it’s like a Christmas present every day. You don’t know what you’re going to get that morning. … The hardest thing is dying to yourself. Literally, you feel like there’s a death to your selfishness, sometimes your ambition, your priorities, and even your alone time. … When I didn’t have a baby, I kind of set my own schedule and I could do what I wanted. But now I have this little boss that dictates my time.

What is your favorite way to spend time with him?

We tote him around everywhere. … I take him to the library or to Barnes & Noble to play with the trains. Wherever we go, we just take him—even though it’s harder—so he can experience the world. … I love discovering what he’s discovering. I can’t wait until I can take him out to the zoo, or the aquarium, just to see his face light up when he starts to explore and understand and comprehend things. I can’t wait until he has his first taste of ice cream. It’s just fun to see him discover every little new thing.

As a chef, are there other foods that you’re looking forward to Lincoln trying?

This is the most humbling thing: He does not like food. … Right now, all he eats is avocados and bananas. That’s it. I sit there making all these homemade purees … and then he doesn’t eat it. … I want him to have a wide range [of tastes] so that he’s not reliant on chicken fingers and French fries and macaroni and cheese. I want him to be able to eat what’s given to him—eat our food—so I don’t have to be a short-order cook. That’s what I’m hoping for; I don’t know if it will get there at this rate.

Do you have any cooking tips for moms in that first year?

I’m truly passionate about cooking, I love it. … [But] after I became a mom, I understood other moms who said “I don’t have time to cook.” I understood where they were coming from because it is really hard to find that time where your baby doesn’t need you and isn’t crying … My meals have become simpler. … I literally stir-fry everything! And it doesn’t even have to be Asian stir-fry; I’ll make stir-fry kielbasa with potatoes … just anything that’s quick. I love stage cooking. … Whatever you can prep in stages, do it. [If] you’re going to make a stir-fry the next day, the night before, chop all your vegetables and keep them in Ziploc bags, and make the sauce in advance and keep it in the fridge. Just prep whenever you can. … And utilize your freezer.

What are your hopes for Lincoln’s future?

I pray that he becomes a man of faith, honestly. I feel like that will get you through a lot of hard times in life. That he will be respectful and have [emotional intelligence]. I feel like that’s more important than having brain knowledge, being book smart. That he gets along with people. And that he goes after his passions. … Growing up … it was really tough to march to the beat of my own drum and follow what I wanted to do. So as long as he’s passionate and works hard toward something, I want him to strive for that, whatever that is.

Baby must-haves:

Stroller weather shield and Baby Connect app

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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