Friday Favorites

Work is still crazy and I have a lingering cold so that means I’m intentionally hoarding things that I love and enjoy. Little treats and moments of gratitude have helped me through these past weeks.

Cadbury Caramel Eggs – I love caramel. You all know that!

Milk Tea – made with PG Tips tea bags, full fat milk powder and raw honey. The best comfort drink.

Playing sea otters with Sagan – we have been enjoying videos of this baby sea otter and his momma, floating in the sea so he has been laying on my belly while we pretend to be sea otters.

Penelope Dullaghan’s Instagram posts of her work – love the recent pieces with blues and whites.

This book – Owls: Our Most Charming Bird – lovely illustrations. Sagan loves owls, but we never got a reference-style book and when I saw this, I knew this would be it.

Sheet Masks – finally, my face has stopped peeling and is playing nice with my foundation/makeup. My mum bought me a whole bunch of them from Etude House when she went back to Singapore, they have all worked equally well.

Staying Cool in the Heat

Skagit Sun Strawberries #hellosummer

A photo posted by @astromei on

Eating cold spicy peanut sesame noodles – quick and easy and delicious! Use rice noodles or soba for a gluten-free option.

Listening to Leon Bridges’ new album – his sound is timeless.

Reading The Little Prince again because when you are feeling a little tired and off, this tips you in the right direction.

Enjoying warmer mornings, toddler chit chat, iced tea and dark chocolate-covered dried mango.

2 years + 81 days

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My dear boy,

I can’t believe how time flies every day and no matter how much I remind myself, I am still afraid that I forget to be grateful to be your momma. Some nights when I’m tired from a day of keeping up with you or exasperated by your obsession with your cars, I still find myself looking back at pictures that I have taken of you. I marvel at how quickly you learn and how you don’t want to be a baby anymore. You are only 2, my son, slow down a little.

You started carrying around your Lightning McQueen backpack a couple of weeks ago. You pile all of your cars into it and try with all your might to put it on your back. You funnily call it your “hand bag”.

Some of your favorite things to eat are bacon, sausage, chicken wings, curry, mushrooms and prawns. You love prawns. Just like I do. And you seem to be hungry a lot these days. I don’t think that 11 hours of sleep would leave anyone THAT hungry when they wake from it. Especially if they ate well just before they went to bed.

You are definitely honing your negotiation skills. With words and mostly, with the sprawl-on-floor-leg-kicking trick.

You put on your own boots, albeit mostly on the wrong foot.

You call everyone buddy and are very polite, especially when someone brings you food – “Thank you, buddy! It’s lunch!”

You are definitely favoring your daddy these days and you don’t know how happy that makes me to see you two together. The two people that I love most in this world.

I know that I will not be able to remember everything, even if I write them all down but my boy, you can be sure that momma cherishes every moment that she shares with you.

 

Summer

Weeks during the summer seem to fly by more quickly than others. We are having a Seattle heat wave right now but it barely reaches 90 degrees, so no complaints! This year, we bought a portable air conditioning unit and it makes things so much better. We retreat into the bedroom early in the evening, usually after a post-workout shower. Cool air and rest after some hard work really feels good.

Last weekend, I celebrated a milestone birthday. The big 4-0. I didn’t feel traumatized. I actually felt invigorated and excited for the next decade. Honestly, I am in the best shape of my life. I have so much energy even with waking up once or twice a night for Sagan. He doesn’t keep me up but it’s sometimes hard to fall back to sleep. There is still quite a ways to go in terms of meeting my fitness goals but I feel so much stronger and fitter.

Mike and I also got done with our Whole30 this past week. It was a good challenge that we undertook together with some members of our Crossfit box. We were already on our primal way of eating but Whole30 was much stricter – no sugar, no alcohol and no dairy. I really missed my cheese. I didn’t miss my alcohol. I love a good cocktail but I did not feel deprived. Sometimes just having the option is enough for me.

Sagan turned one 2 weeks ago. He is already walking, my friends. Walking more than he crawls. How did he suddenly become a toddler? Such a big boy. He loves anything with wheels on them – trucks, cars, motorbikes, shopping carts and even garage doors. We does his rounds in the morning, opening and closing every cabinet door in my kitchen. He opens them, pulls out one or two things and then leaves them open. Most of the time, I just navigate around them and then do a little “closing” after he’s done his rounds and goes off in a different direction. I do this a few times a day. He loves to eat eggs, cheese, sausage, hamburgers, applesauce, peaches, blueberries, oatmeal, yogurt, crackers and dried apricots. He is starting to transition to cow’s milk but is still nursing in the evenings and before naps. He still is not a fan of sleeping in. He wakes up by 5.30am, raring to go. Just like someone I know, someone he calls “da-dee”. He says quite a few words now, like “da-dee”, “neh neh” (for milk or me), “ma ma” (for me or grandma – the tone is different), “pa pa” (for grandpa), “fow-fuh” (flower), “bot bot” (robot), “bux” (box), “drin drin” (rolling his Rs, when he wants some water) and “duck” (truck). He does love his daddy. I love to watch the both of them together – M would toss him in the air, hang him upside down and rough-house with him, S would just giggle and laugh with so much excitement. He drinks from a sippy cup or a Camelbak bottle. That way I don’t worry when I forget his cup. He can always take my Camelbak bottle. In fact, he prefers it. He just wants to be all grown up. I can go on and on about him but I have to go. He is being quiet and usually that means he’s having a moment that will require a diaper change or getting stuck in something.

We leave for our first family road trip tomorrow. Just a weekend to Portland where delicious eats await. Can you say Pok Pok? And Salt & Straw? Also, since S goes down to bed early in the evening, we’re packing a lovely indoor picnic when we get there. I hear the charcuterie at Olympic Provisions are to die for. Meat, cheese, olives, wine and some fruit. Perfect summery fare.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

Dear Sagan

You are now a week over 9 months old and you are so independently mobile. You crawl so fast that all I see is a blur. I can often find you trapped under a chair or table but only because you gravitate towards those and then try to stand up while under them. You love pulling up on your changing table and reaching for that light on the wipe warmer. I’m sure its amber glow is hard to resist. Sometimes you play quietly in your play area but mostly you try to move the fence with you. You love to pull the books off my shelves especially those with red dust covers. The rustling of papers brings you to where I want you but nothing beats the jingle of my keys! You have all sorts of fun toys but all you want are shoes, an old toothbrush holder, a suction cup from a sign I hang on the window (of course it now lays flat in some drawer) and my shiny keyboard (I don’t blame you, it always beckons me too).

You don’t drink from a bottle anymore. We only had to go through 4 sippy cups to find you the right one. You actually know how to sip through a straw! You love your oatmeal, bananas, pears, coconut milk, meat and cheese. You never refuse cheese and you are always game to try new foods we put in your mouth.You do all this eating with one tooth in your mouth. You hate bibs, you either try to pull them off (velcro) or you just try to eat it in between spoonfuls. You also like to grab the spoon that feeds you. It is not helpful, my dear boy.

You still don’t sleep through the night and are always raring to go by 6am. Dr S says you are a night-feeder but I like to think that you love our special time at night. Some day you’ll sleep better and when you grow up, I’ll be sure to wake you early in the morning. For fun.

I love your little smiles, the way you scrunch up face and snigger and even the “it’s not me” look you give when I find you getting into trouble. Oh and when you giggle if you see a pic of yourself on my phone.

I just want you to know that I love you. I worry that I will forget all the moments that you make so special in my life because there are too many of them. Here’s my weak attempt at recording some of them. Some day you might read this since nothing that gets on the Internet is ever lost.

Thank you, my beautiful boy.

Love you, mummy

Around here

Our little S turned 8 months today. 8 months. I can wrap my brain around 8 weeks, but 8 months? I can’t imagine 8 years. I am pretty sure that it will come around soon enough. And I will be lamenting about how it all flew by. Did I say in the last post that he is not crawling fast? I stand corrected. He is fast now and I can only imagine how much faster he will move in the next week or so. He seems disinterested in actual toys and would much rather navigate my un-baby-proofed workspace. He pulls the drawers out from the apothecary chest, tries to pull out my cookbooks from my Sapien bookcase and constantly crawls to fiddle at the wheels of his grandpa’s office chair. Unstoppable.

In other news, Scarlett has a new neighbor. My folks’ house is right next door and is so close to being completed. Only the fence left! Will share a pic of the front yard between both houses when it is done. I got a free gate out of their new fence installation but they have to share one not-so-new fence that belongs to Scarlett. (oops!) Maybe in a few years, we’ll get a new fence.

Today marks my one month at Crossfit. I am still loving it and have not missed a single class. That is an achievement for me. I did the same WOD (Workout of the Day) yesterday that I did on my first session. I made so much better time. It surprised me. Although I am nowhere near doing an actual pushup or an actual pull-up, I am definitely pushing my limits and getting stronger. Carrying S around also helps with that but I have to say that it is getting easier to carry him around.

Primally, I made some Thai meat balls, inspired by this recipe. Here is mine:

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs grass-fed ground meat
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, lower white parts grated
  • 1/4″ galangal, grated (about 1-2 tbsp after grating)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (I like to make sure the meat is well-seasoned. An under-seasoned meatball is just not right.)
  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 Thai bird chillies, chopped finely (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. Form meat balls and pan fry.

We served it with organic salad greens tossed in olive oil, fish sauce and some lime juice. My new favorite salad dressing.

Tomorrow, I try my hand at some art journaling. On a small scale. But I feel that I might be hooked.

Oh and have you heard about PostalPix for getting prints of your iPhone/Instagram pictures? I ordered some and will see how the quality is.

Growing

Have you seen the Google Chrome ad that shows a dad writing notes, saving videos and photos that he sends to his daughter? That got me all teary. In a Kodak-Paul Anka kind of way. If you grew up in the 70’s you’ll know what I’m referring to. It inspired me to do something similar for S.

I take a lot of photos and videos of Sagan every day and I keep little notes here and there about things I’d remember about him being at this age.  The pictures that I take of him are sorted chronologically in Flickr but I wanted to create a set so as to see his weekly progression. It’s been interesting to see how he’s grown over the last 16 weeks and makes me a little sentimental about him never being so tiny again. *insert momma maudlin face*

I do my best and take in every moment. I enjoy him as he grows each day and look forward to all the new things he will try. Mostly, I can’t wait for the day when he will show me things that I would have never imagined.

Grow my little one, daddy and I are standing by you every step of the way!

Travel with baby

Before our trip to Chicago last week, I was quite nervous about our first time travelling with a little one. Most of the parents that I had spoken to, calmed my fears and worries by telling me that it’s easier when they are so young.

I wondered about what I needed to pack, whether he would do ok with the cabin pressure, or if he would nurse ok in public.

Despite the anxiety, I definitely enjoyed the trip as there were many firsts for Sagan. His first time through the security line, first time in the boarding room of an airport, first time down the walkway to the airplane, first time breathing airplane smells, first ascent and descent, first time out of Seattle and first time getting his diaper changed at 30,000 feet in the air. So many other firsts for us as parents too.

Here is what I did that seemed to work for me:

1)  We did not pack the car seat. We carried him in our baby carrier and took shuttles from place to place. I think that packing the car seat would be a good idea if you were renting a car at your destination but for us, it worked out that we didn’t need it. We did pack the stroller. We didn’t check it at the gate but chose to check it with our bags. Again, he was in the baby carrier with us, the rest of the time. He did wonderfully. I think I would have packed a smaller stroller instead of the big one that works with his car seat. Maybe when he is older, I would be more comfortable with him in an umbrella/lightweight stroller.

One regret I had was not buying one of those plastic covers for the stroller to shield from wind and rain. We braved some crazy Chicago winds one morning to get to Bongo Room for pancakes.  I felt like a dreadful mum when a bunch of folks waiting for the bus yelled out that the baby was getting rained on. We only had a blanket and another sarong cover for the stroller. You could definitely tell that we were not from around there and were first time parents. That was when M decided to wrap S in his windbreaker and walk instead.  Thereafter, I had many other passerby’s look at my empty stroller, wondering what I did with my baby! That was fun, not! But guess what? Now I have that plastic shield and it is set up and ready for walks in our liquid sunshine.

2) I did not pack my breast pump.  I nursed S exclusively for the entire time I was there. When I am home, I usually have to pump once or twice a day to build my stash for when I return to work and to cope with my oversupply. The first 3 days were challenging because S did not nurse as much. He was probably distracted by all the sights and the changes. But I got used to it, so much so that when I first returned home, I still continued to nurse him exclusively.  I pump only once a day now so that M can give him a bottle in the middle of the night.

It did not save that much space but it was one less thing to pack and manage.

3) Plastic sweater bags. I use these to pack S’s clothes, his various other cloth needs (burp, bib, washcloth), my own clothes, my nursing items like pads, feeding bottle (in case I had to hand express and save some for a feed) and nipple cream.

If I was going on a shorter trip, I would pack diapers and wipes into one of these bags but we were going for about a week and so one pack of 80 diapers saw us through.

4) Sleeping. We had the option of having a crib in our room but I opted for S to sleep in his stroller and our bed. His stroller allows him to lay flat so we padded it with good soft blankets and he slept like a baby (pardon the pun). It was way more comfortable than our bed, in fact. We had a bed that sank in too far. Not fun. If I didn’t wake to nurse frequently, my back would have hurt.

I’m glad I got through this first trip and I look forward to many more with my boys! Maybe an escape to the mountains or maybe a trip up north for good food.

Fall

I am truly grateful for this time at home, with my little guy.  It is difficult at about 3.30am in the morning but when he smiles and coos back at me, nothing else matters. As much as we try to get him into a routine, he always surprises us. Like on our recent trip, he slept from 10pm to 4.45am. I woke up suddenly, worried that I had missed his cries. But there he was, sound asleep.

Chicago was fun. There was still more that I’d like to have done but when you are travelling with an infant, it just takes a little more planning and things have to move in a bit of a slow motion. S did great on the flights (even flirted with a couple of high school girls) and was such a trooper when we dragged him through the windy rains to get flapjacks at Bongo Room (yum!). We ate deep dish pizza, Italian Beef sandwiches dipped in au jus, Vienna Beef Hot Dogs Chicago-style, tasty Corned Beef sandwiches and even enjoyed a little bit of Barcelona-Catalunya cooking at Mercat a la Planxa. Yum yum. No trip is complete without foodie finds like these.

I was also a little nervous about travelling while breastfeeding.  I usually have no problems about nursing in public, but it really isn’t always convenient to just sit down and nurse. Fortunately I had some really good experiences – one museum had a nursing room and another had lots of seating near the restrooms. Almost intuitively, S drank efficiently and didn’t want to nurse too often. Maybe he was just distracted. Having always pumped and nursed, I was engorged for the first 3 days but then I think my body regulated itself. Breastfeeding is such a challenge but the benefits for S and our alone time is so worth it.  I met a mum in the restroom pumping while travelling. Her 11-month old was home and she said she was planning to start weaning by age 1. That is my goal. We’ll see how this goes.

Some things I’ve come across lately:

The days are getting shorter and I am enjoying cozy evenings cuddling with my boys. Are you finding some warmth in these cooler climes?

Pie

I love pie. Remember that sweet potato pie declaration that I made in my last post? Well, I haven’t had the chance to make that pie yet. I did, however, make a lemon custard pie. The recipe I used is from America’s Test Kitchen book, Baking Illustrated. One of my favorites, none of the recipes I have tried from it have ever failed me.

We celebrated my brother’s and dad’s birthday early today. So, we also had a scrummy chocolate cake from Whole Foods. They make really good tasty cakes there. My favorite is their Chantilly cake. The vanilla girl in me cannot refuse that golden vanilla cake, mixed berries and Chantilly frosting. Yum…but this chocolate one is a close second!

I’m on the lookout for a good baby sling. I have read many good things about babywearing and even though we have a BabyBjorn, I want something easier to put on and that I can use around the house. I figured that he won’t be this size for long and I would love to hold him close as much as possible. Snuggly time with mummy means happy baby. And happy mummy too, of course! I’ve read great things about the Balboa Sling.

Look what I made Sagan – a mobile with an old embroidery hoop and some color dots sewn together. These are the colors of his nursery.

I recently updated to OS5 on my trusty iPhone 3GS. It seems to be working pretty well. I am sure there are some obvious lags but I guess I am used to it. I am thinking about getting the new 4S but I don’t really need Siri and I can always surf with my iPad.

Nursing a new baby also gives me a lot of time to check out YouTube videos. I have been watching Nigel Slater‘s Simple Suppers as well as the Delicious Miss Dahl – Sophie Dahl. I find myself attracted by the kitchen set-ups and English accent of both the cooks.