Guu-d Food!

30 Jan

a couple of saturdays ago, my husband and i went out for some food and drinks.  i guess you can call it a date night, but i personally don’t like to call it that, because i don’t feel that we have to go out to have a ‘date night’.  the best ‘date night’ for me, is when my husband and i lie down in our bed and talk about our mistakes, failures, successes and the direction that god is leading us, personally and as a family.  god often convicts us separately, in our own time of prayer, but when we come together and talk about it, we find that our convictions are very similar.  it’s awesome to know that god speaks to us separately, but also together.

so on this night, we ended up going to a restaurant called ‘guu izakaya’ on church street.  it was the first time for my husband and the second time for me.  we had a good time and it was nice to share some good food with a date.

if you’ve been there, you’ll know that this place is loud!  waiters and chefs shout some sort of greeting (in japanese) when customers enter and leave the restaurant.  there’s also a long lineup, especially on the weekends.  it’s a sake-bar, and the dishes are tapas style and well-suited for drinks.

we ordered lots of food and here are some of my favourites – if you haven’t tried these yet, you must!!

takowasabi

yakiudon

scallop and enoki mushroom

okonomiyaki

salmon natto yukke

this picture was taken the last time i was there.  the best dish!

here are my husband’s fav’s;

kakimayo

this was his ultimate favourite, but i personally found it too greasy.

gyu tongue

i thought it would be gross, but it was actually tasty and the meat is very tender.

sapporo draft beer - big mug

this mug is huge!!  it is truly a ‘big mug’ and my husband loved it!

here are the so-so ones;

yellowtail sashimi - from special menu

we had high expectations when we ordered this dish from the special menu, because when we went to japan, the sashimi was out of this world!  it was the best sashimi we’ve ever tasted and we were hoping that this dish would come somewhat close.  it didn’t.  the fish wasn’t fresh and it was tasteless.

takoyaki

this one tasted just like the okonomiyaki, except it had octopus filling inside.  we heard that this was one of the best dishes but we didn’t think so.

ikapiri

it would have been better if it was crispy.  it’s pretty soggy.

we were very happy and full at the end of the night, but we ended up having an argument on our way home, over something really small.  yup, that’s marriage!

posting these pictures made me hungry, so i made myself a late night snack – bibim guksu.

ok, it was more like a full dinner…  oh boy, my already tight clothes are going to be tighter tomorrow… maybe it’s time to buy bigger clothes… sigh…

My Personal Top 6 Baby Products

23 Jan

when my husband and i found out that we were expecting a child, one of the first things that crossed our minds was what items do we need to buy?

there are millions of baby products and some are darn expensive!  i didn’t know if expensive items were ‘really’ worth it and i questioned my husband quite often as he wanted the best/most expensive things for our baby.

now that i’ve used some of the baby products for a year, i have opinions on some of the things we purchased or didn’t purchase.

here are my favourite items that we owned/used for our baby girl;

1.  cetaphil and eucerin baby aquaphor

my baby had the worst baby acne at around 2 months and we took her to see our doctor.  our family doctor was on maternity leave, so the nurse, who was covering for our doctor suggested using cetaphil and vaseline.  i wasn’t too keen about using vaseline on my girl’s face, so i researched and was introduced to a product called aquaphor.  it was magic!  after 3-4 times of using these products, our girl’s baby acne were gone.  she has a great skin now, but they tend to get very dry (just like me), so i still use them daily.  as far as i know, these products work well on any types of skin trouble for babies, including eczema.  oh, i also use cetaphil for my face as well.

2.  baby swing

we had fisher-price’s my little lamb dreamy motion cradle swing and for the first two months, it was a life saver for me and my husband.  i didn’t have much support around me and my husband went back to work after 2 weeks.  thanks to the swing, i was able to get a break, take showers, etc while i took care of my baby alone.  i would only put my girl on the swing for 10-15 min max, just enough time for me to take a shower.  we also had the bouncing chair, but our girl didn’t like it much in the beginning and started to like it when she was a bit older (3-4 months).

3.  baby bjorn’s travel crib/playpen

if you like to travel with your baby, it is a must have.  we absolutely loved it and still do.  you can use it at home when your baby is creeping (before walking stage) or learning to stand up holding on to things.  it’s also useful when your baby crawls everywhere and you need to contain him or her for a short period of time.  we looked into other playpens but none could compare with this one.  it folds really small and it weighs much less than any other playpen.  product dimensions – 7.2 x 24 x 19 inches ; 7.5 pounds.  it’s really light, great for travelling.  we took it with us when we went to mexico and it helped us so much.  our girl played and slept in this playpen while we spent the day by the pool.

click video to see more info.

4.  umbrella stroller – peg perego si lightweight stroller

one of our first baby product purchases was a stroller.  we initially got an uppababy vista (2010 model) and it was a good stroller.  the only thing was that it was super heavy.  it folded easily, drove super smooth and was durable, but it took quite some effort whenever i had to lift it and put into my car.  when my girl got a bit older, around 9 months, we looked into different types of umbrella strollers.  after much research, we decided on the peg perego si lightweight stroller (orange colour) and i love it and use it until this day.  it’s super light, but holds so much weight.  it drives well and has everything i can ask for.  the only bad thing i could think of is the cup holder because it doesn’t hold more than couple of pounds, so if you use a heavy travelling mug, it’s not going to work.  i personally like this stroller much better than the vista and it’s 5 times cheaper.  oh, you can also clip on a carseat so, you can use it before 9 months as well.  one of the best features are the huge canopy and also the full recline for the seat.  it’s great for travelling as well.

5.  brestfriend

breastfeeding isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for new moms.  i needed all the help i can get, so i invested on this breastfeeding pillow and i got great use out of it for 3-4 months (before my girl got too big).  i put this on like a belt, hence my husband called it my championship belt, whenever i breastfed.  the only bad thing was that i was very dependent on it, so carrying it around was difficult.

6.  beaba multiportion freezer tray

when your baby starts solid food, it’s an exciting time for new moms.  it sure was for me.  i had purchased a beaba babycook baby food maker and used it quite a bit (from 5 months to 8 months).  it was very easy to make different types of solids, especially easy to mix meat, veggies and fruits.  but more than the baby food maker itself, i found that the freezer tray made things much easier for me!  i would make a batch, freeze it in this tray and when frozen, pop it out and store it in a ziploc bag.  i especially like beaba’s freezer tray because for my girl, each portion was perfect.

there are other items that i liked and found it useful as well (but didn’t make it to my top 6).  bouncing chair, waterproof/water absorbing bibs (cloth outside, drool absorbing material inside), baby carrier (didn’t use it much, but very useful at times), baby bjorn plastic bib (solid food stage) were some of the things that i found useful.

some of the stuff that i didn’t find it very useful were a baby monitor, reusable breast pads and crib mattress protector/cover.  for baby monitor, i didn’t really need it because we co-slept with our baby.

i also want to say that these are my personal top six items.  since every baby is unique and each parenting style and need is different, not everyone will need or like the same types of baby products.  ultimately, you will just have to try and find out for yourself, what works for you and your baby.

i would also like to take this time to say thank you to my husband, the research king, who found and purchased all these items for me and our daughter.  in all honesty, i didn’t even know these products existed, if it wasn’t for him.  babe, this one is for you!

My Favourite Things…

20 Jan

today, i had a chance to look at some of the pictures that i took in the past month or so.  looking back at these pictures, it reminded of me some of my favourite moments with my family.

here are some;

i love seeing father and daughter play together.  it’s such a special relationship and it warms my heart to see them together.  seeing them play, laugh and have fun is one of my favourite things.

            

like many women out there, i’m also a fan of shoes.  i adore shoes.  for myself and also for my daughter.  i have a whole collection of shoes for my daughter and for most of them, she only wore them once or twice but they are too cute.  my husband thinks i buy way too many shoes for our daughter, but i really can’t resist…  they are one of my favourites!

          

spending quality time with my husband, eating yummy food with some bubbly is one of my favourites.  ok, we don’t eat or drink like this all the time.  this was from our new year’s eve celebration.

last, but not least… my daughter and her long, curly eye lashes.  she has the longest and curled-up lashes i’ve ever seen and i don’t know where she got them from!  anyways, it’s definitely one of my favourite things…

speaking of favourites, my daughter also has some of her own favourites.

                     

before she turned one, she just loved going through tunnels.  not so much anymore.  she also likes this mini trampoline and she still does.  she’s very active and anything that gets her going… are her favourite things (thus far).

                      

my daughter is obsessed with letters and books.  every so often, she gets up in the middle of the night and requests that i read her some books.  she will grab a book and bring it to me and start flipping pages in the dark, at 3 a.m.  i think she has a bit of an obsessive personality… when she likes something, that’s all she does, all day long.  the second picture shows one of her favourite toys.  she becomes obsessed with closing these pop up animals.  she has to make sure that everything is closed, otherwise, she can’t move on.  it’s kinda cute now, but probably not so much, if she continues to be like this.

             

i guess this is both my daughter’s and my favourite thing – hanging out at indigo bookstore.  miss ej has lots of fun playing with different toys and i get to have my starbucks and shop around.  win-win.

ok, i almost forgot to put my hubby’s favourites.  he’s a simple guy, so he doesn’t have too many favourites, but here are a few;                

yes, it is in order… first, ufc.  second, nba.  third, macbook air (and steve jobs).  miss ej must get her obsessiveness from her dad, because my husband can spend many hours watching or utilizing these things.  these are his all time favourites.

however, i have to admit.  i know that these two people in the below picture trump everything.  as much as my husband loves jesus, he loves us just as much.  my daughter and i are so thankful and very lucky to have him as husband and dad.

btw… an update (from my past post).

so i ended up applying to a position at a highly reputable company.  i got a call the next morning.  i had a phone interview on the same day, in the afternoon.  an in person interview occurred the day after, at 8:30 a.m.  i had three sets of gruelling interviews with 6 different people, in a span of 2 hours.  i ended up getting an offer at the end of my interview.  this was the fastest offer i’ve ever received.  i still have not made my decision, more so because this happened unexpectedly and way too fast.  i have not had much time to think or pray about it.  i usually take a long time (months) to make a decision, especially an important one such as this…  at this point, i’m not leaning to any decision and i can definitely go either way.  i’ll be praying and seeking god’s direction over the weekend and plan to talk it over with the family.  currently, i’m excited for a new opportunity and to be working again, yet, feel guilty to leave my daughter behind.  if i do go back to work, my comfort is that my mom will be taking care of my daughter and she doesn’t have to be left at a daycare all day long.  however, i do want to stay with her and watch her grow.  i think by early next week, i will have some answers.  to be continued…

Moms, We Can All Relate!

19 Jan

i stumbled upon a blog and i just loved this post.  i laughed, nodded and even cried at some parts.  i am certain that every mom will appreciate this post!

Source – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html

Don’t Carpe Diem
Glennon Melton | Jan 14, 2012

Every time I’m out with my kids — this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, “Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.”
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers — “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!” — those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: “Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast.”
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, “Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.”
That’s not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, “No. but I love having written.” What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, “Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t mean you love having parented?”
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I’m being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times — G, if you can’t handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don’t think it’s quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it’s hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she’s not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn’t add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it’s so hard means she IS doing it right…in her own way…and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don’t ever feel the need to suggest that he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing that it’s hard, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: “This career stuff…it goes by so fast…ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!”
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
“It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime.” And hopefully, every once in a while, I’ll add — “Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up — I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me. I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here’s what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is — This is the first time I’ve really seen Tish all day, and my God — she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.

Sacred Parenting…

15 Jan

kids are so wonderful. they bring so much joy and warmth to our hearts. they are so innocent, affectionate and amazingly adorable to look at and to hold. i love the way they smell, even their sweat smells much more sweeter than us, adults.

but having your own kid is quite different from occasional babysitting.  it requires a great amount of patience and sacrifice.  in the book, ‘sacred parenting’, the author mentions how we, as parents often have kids for narcissistic reasons.  it’s like marriage.  we have a romanticized view of what marriage is like, but in reality, it’s far from the what we ever imagined it to be.  in the same way, we might have kids to feel that we can be a hero to our kids or to obtain a sense that our kids would validate us as a man or woman.  although these motivations, as noble as they may sound, are still narcissistic at root, based on an idealized notion of children and a romanticized view of what family life is really like. (paraphrased from sacred parenting by gary thomas)

one of my friends wanted to have a kid for a long time, a couple of years or so.  she finally got pregnant and when the awful pregnancy symptoms kicked in with full force, she was unhappy and said, how come no one told me how difficult this was!  i told her i understand her pain.  i wanted to warn her that it gets even worse when the kid comes out, but i bit my tongue because i didn’t want to scare her.

i don’t blame this friend.  i felt similar way when i was pregnant.  i knew i was in for a rough ride once morning sickness kicked in with the body pain, headache, backache, fatigue, breathing difficulties, bloating, heaviness… and the list goes on.  i remember feeling that i wished someone could carry my baby, just for one day, so that i can get some rest.

then there is labour.  i don’t think i need elaborate on this…

and when the baby arrives, there are sleepless nights, growth spurts, teething, feeding issues, sleeping issues, spitting up, hours of crying (without particular reason) and illness.

of course, pregnancy, birth and parenting do bring good things, but i write these things to explain what it’s like… i mean, really like, to have a child of your own.  it is my hope that every mom-to-be understands and expects that there will be hard days, more often than good days, and really questions themselves, if they are ready to sacrifice their life for their child.  why do i care?  because, my own mother was not ready to have a child when she had me.  it was a tough time for my mom and due to many difficulties in her personal life, i was left to live with my grandma.  i grew up not really having a mom around, and even when i came back to live with my parents, my mom was still not around.  it gets pretty lonely and sad when you are left home alone.  probably the worst feeling for a child.  my mom thought i will eventually understand why she had to do the things that she did, but in all honesty, i don’t really understand.  i would never do what she did.  she’s a wonderful mom now, but her neglect in the past did affect me in many ways.  that is why i strongly feel that a parent should only have a child when they are mature and ready.  ready, in a way that you are willing to sacrifice your own life for your child.  isn’t sacrifice a mother’s instinct?  doesn’t it come naturally?  i would like to think that it does come naturally, but in reality, i don’t think it does for everyone.

a close friend of mine is studying to become a doctor.  she just finished med school and during her rotation, she interned at one of the big hospitals in toronto.  during her internship, she encountered an infant (probably a couple of months old), who came into the hospital because she would not eat or stop crying.  after the examination, the doctors found that her tiny ribs were broken and further examinations revealed that her arms and other bones were broken as well.  not only that, her esophagus was punctured.  my friend explained that for babies, their rib bones can only be broken by physical trauma/abuse.  also, the puncture seemed like it was made by a hard object, while forcing food down into the baby’s throat.  the doctors suspected physical abuse and they reported it to social services.

when i heard this story, it absolutely broke my heart and it literally made me sick.

i’m not a perfect parent or mom by any means and i’m in no place to judge.  there are times when i lose my patience and it feels like i can’t control my anger.  at those times, i have walked away from my crying daughter to calm myself down.  and a few times, i have gotten angry at her and have yelled ‘no!’, instead of talking to her gently and calmly.

parenting is difficult because your words and actions could affect and shape your child’s behaviour, habits, personality, character, values and many more.  raising a child has to be one of the biggest responsibilities that god has given us and although we, as parents can’t be perfect, i believe that we should try our best, not for anyone else, but in obedience to god.

having all these things in my mind, my husband and i have decided that i will not return to work and stay at home with my daughter until i receive my tesl certification and find a part time job teaching esl.  one of the reasons for my career change was so that i could be there for my daughter, as much as i can.

my previous career was within the purchasing industry.  i enjoyed being a purchaser and the type of work i did.  and for the past few weeks, i’ve been torn because i’ve been missing it.  i love being with my daughter, playing with her all day, but i began to miss the creativity and challenges that i faced while working as a purchaser.  don’t get me wrong.  working full time in the corporate world is not easy.  it has struggles of its own and now with a child, it would only be harder because i now would have to juggle work and parenting.

i also pondered about my pursuit in obtaining the tesl certification.  would i really enjoy teaching esl?  would i feel fulfilled or like it better than being a purchaser?  i do have experience in teaching and i did enjoy it and felt accomplished while teaching students, but i can’t say that it was the best experience i’ve ever had.

i finished (and passed) two of my tesl courses and i’m currently enrolled in my third and fourth courses.  if i give up now, it would be a waste.  however, if i don’t end up teaching or like teaching esl… then, it would even be a bigger waste.

so out of curiosity, i have looked at job boards to see what kind of opportunities were available in the purchasing industry.  as i searched and contemplated, a feeling of guilt settled in…  if i apply and get a job, i can no longer be there for my daughter for most of the day.  i would only see her for a few hours a day and on weekends.  would she feel neglected?  am i becoming my own mother, leaving my daughter to her grandmother?

and i thought about the sacrifice that i wrote earlier… is my career or the feeling of wanting to work, one of the sacrifices that i need to make in order to become the mom that i aspire to be?

i don’t have answers and have not made a decision yet.  i’m praying and praying, seeking god’s direction and wisdom.

all i can say at this point is that sacred parenting, more specifically, making decisions that honour god, your child and family are not easy.

while washing dishes this afternoon, i wondered how other moms make their decisions.  how about moms with 3 or more kids?  they not only have to consider one child, but two more.  how do they do what they do, day in and out?  being a mom has to be the most difficult and under appreciated job in the world.  for moms who have 3 or more kids, i honestly, from the deepest part of my heart, believe that they deserve some kind of reward, regardless of how they parent or how their kids turn out… a big, fat reward which consists of a month long holidays at one of the best spas in miami should be sufficient.

Miss EJ’s Dol (1st Birthday Party) Pictures

4 Jan

here are some pictures (of the decorations) from miss ej’s first birthday party.

no, the decorations were not done by me.  we hired a party stylist, who is very talented and well-knowledged in ‘dol’ (korean traditional 1st birthday).

i’m so glad that we hired the party stylist.  she made this day much easier and extra special!

head table

another shot of the head table

head table banner & cake

birthday cake (sugar cake & cupcakes)

absolutely loved the cake – the cupcakes were not only pretty but also tasty!

photo table

another shot of the photo table

doljabi event:  doljabi is an event that occurs on a child’s first birthday.  the child is placed in front of a table with a display of symbolic items like pens, books, rice, money, and so forth. Korean parents believe that their child’s fate will be dictated by whatever he or she picks up at the doljabi. A child who grabs a pen, for example, will become a scholar, while a child who grabs a bundle of string will have a long life. This event is usually eagerly watched by the crowd.

miss ej chose the microphone, which means that she will become a singer or announcer or mc or any type of career that uses a microphone.  perhaps, she will become a great speaker, speaking to a crowd about god and his amazing grace! 🙂

these are not all the pictures from the party, but unfortunately, i don’t plan on posting pictures of miss ej or guests, so i don’t have many pictures that i can post.

oh! if anyone wants any info, such as the party stylist’s contact info or restaurant info, please click ‘contact me’ and send me a note.

The ‘Dreaded’ Sleep Training and How We Did It

29 Dec

merry christmas and happy new year!

unlike last year’s christmas, which we spent at mt. sinai hospital getting phototherapy treatment for miss ej, this year’s christmas was… just perfect!

we spent christmas day at my in-laws with 10+ relatives, eating loads of food and drinking merrily. miss ej usually finds difficulty adjusting to a new environment/house. the last time we went to my in-laws, miss ej cried for hours, non-stop. surprisingly, this time around, she was an angel. she spent hours chasing after their 2 cats, which are the apples of my father-in-law’s eyes. she even tried to use one of the cats as a pillow, putting her head down on the cat’s prone body. she must have ran/walked around the house at least 20 times.

i’m allergic to cats and i was worried that miss ej would be too, but she wasn’t and she loved them! i’m worried that when she grows up, she will ask to own a cat one day. i was also worried for her sleep because she usually needs our bed in order to fall asleep and she has a hard time falling asleep when there are a lot of people or noise. so, i didn’t even bother to try putting her to sleep, even when she showed signs of fatigue. however, her dad, without even consulting me, took miss ej to her grandfather’s bed and tried to put her to sleep. eventually, i lied down with them, not believing that she would actually fall asleep. however, to my surprise, 15 minutes later, miss ej was deep asleep. it was unbelievable! 🙂

we came home really late and although miss ej awoke from her deep sleep, she didn’t shed a single tear, said goodbye to her grandparents and then sat in her carseat quietly, all the way home. i ended up falling asleep because she was so quiet.

speaking of sleep, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and i decided to ‘try’ sleep training miss ej. as i have mentioned in a previous post, miss ej has been co-sleeping with us ever since she was 4-5 months old. now that she’s a year old, we knew sleep training her wouldn’t be so easy, so we decided to try it out during my husband’s 1 week vacation, which is this week. we were dreading the day. ideally, we wanted to start from monday, but things got busy that we forgot. then, wednesday came along and i felt the pressure… i felt like it was going to be now or never. when i discussed my concerns to mr. jq, he felt the same way and all of a sudden, we were extremely fearful and anxious. ok, we were scared to our wit’s end!

we must have discussed a million pros and cons. the good outweighing the bad. the bad outweighing the good. we thought about every possible scenario and examples of other kids. i purposely didn’t go to google search because i knew it will only make me more confused. finally, the decision was made. thank god for my husband who possesses the ability to make a decision (more often good than bad). so we decided to start sleep training and we chose the most debatable ‘cry it out’ (CIO) method, which is also known for its cruelty.

for those who do not know CIO, this is the method we used;

1. bed time routine – bath, read a book, pray together, hug, kiss and say good night and we love you.

2. put the baby in the crib and leave the room. the baby will cry – miss ej cried hard (as hard as she could).

3. you let your baby cry (it out) for about 5 minutes – miss ej wailed.

4. after 5 minutes, go to your baby, say comforting words (without making it sound sad or guilty) and without picking up the baby – miss ej wanted to be picked up and she cried so much that she was shaking a bit. it was incredibly hard to witness and i also cried a bit. i know i wasn’t supposed to show any sadness or guilt, but i ended up putting my face against her crib so that she can touch my face with her fingers. she poked and stroked my face, begging me to hold her. i told her i was sorry and i love her but it’s her bed time and she needs to go to sleep. i repeated those words many times before leaving the room. it was the toughest thing i ever had to do.

5. leave after a couple of minutes. the baby will continue to cry or cry harder because you left again – i stayed with her for about 3 minutes and then left the room. yes, she screamed and cried the whole time.

6. this time, go to your baby after 10 minutes and repeat stage 4 (for each subsequent time, add 10 mins and stay with your baby a little less each time) – i didn’t have nerve to go through it again, so this time, my husband went and did what he had to do. i don’t honestly know what he actually did and i didn’t want to know. mr. jq stayed with her for a minute or so. he left fairly quick and she continued to cry hard.

we repeated stage 6 once. we waited about 2 minutes and we noticed that miss ej’s cries became weaker and in 5 minutes or so it died down. i urged my husband to go in and check but he waited until 20 minutes were up and went to see miss ej. apparently, she was trembling a little and sniffling as she was falling asleep. all in all, she was asleep.

sleep training day 1 was successful and it surpassed my expectations by far. i was thinking it would take hours and i would experience continual wake up cries, but it only took less than 30 minutes and she got up only twice, once at 4 am and once around 7 am. at 4 am, she was standing up in her crib, so i held her for a couple of seconds and put her back in her crib. she didn’t cry or get up. she went to sleep right away. at 7 am, my husband simply looked at her as she was lying down and was still sleeping. at 8:30 am, miss ej got up, cried for us and we all got up and had breakfast.

my husband’s and my biggest fear with this method was the damage it might cause (if any) to a baby. would she feel abandoned? will she develop some kind of phobia? will she hate us? will she develop high blood pressure for crying so hard? would it affect her heart as her heart rate will increase for a long period of time?

maybe it did cause some of these things. we don’t know as we have no way of gauging it, but we decided to observe miss ej carefully the next day, which was today. she seemed fine and we didn’t notice any changes. it felt like it never happened so we were relieved.

today was sleep training day 2. i’m happy to say it went well, even better than yesterday.

today, we only got to stage 5, i mentioned above. she was asleep in 10 minutes. i never thought she would do so well. my husband said to me, “why didn’t we do this before?”

hopefully, we will only get to stage 1 tomorrow.

and i really hope and wish that she or we (me and my husband) will not regress (especially, when she gets sick or is teething).

i also hope that this post doesn’t come across as i’m bragging or i’ve experienced a complete success. i know that there are many more trials and difficulties ahead for us. every baby is different and every parent is different. there are different ways to sleep with or without your baby. i’m simply writing about what we (my husband and i) decided to do. we decided on co-sleeping until age 1, then tried the CIO method after the 1st birthday. personally, i’m happy with our decision and if i ever have a second baby, i would choose this option again.

i’m a proponent of co-sleeping. i still am, even more so now because i feel that co-sleeping allowed her to feel secure enough to sleep on her own, when the timing was right. i feel like for miss ej, age 1 was the correct time because i sensed that she understood a lot of things like cause and effect, the meaning of ‘no’ and good and bad (up to a certain point).

mind you, we tried a couple of times previously and it was not successful. perhaps, the timing wasn’t right or it was because we didn’t follow the ‘correct’ method (we never left the room, when we tried previously) or maybe it’s a combination of both. i don’t know.

what i know is that the decision to not co-sleep when the baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler, is up to the parent (and the child) and the timing depends on the child. in another words, there is no correct way and it’s really dependent on you and your child. i’ve said that i will choose this method again with my second child, but who knows, it might be out the window with my second.

Breakfast of Champions

21 Dec

one of the reasons why i started this blog was to write and record the recipes that i developed for miss ej’s food (from baby food/puree to toddler food).  not only did i want to share the recipes, but i also wanted to look back and actually use them again when and if i ever needed to in the future.

i have tons of recipe, but i haven’t had the time to post them and i realized that i do not have available pictures.  however, better late than never and hopefully, i will be able to post all my recipes here, eventually.

when miss ej turned 9 months, she refused to take her baby/puree food.  no more baby cereal and purees.  so, i had to be creative, to give her the appropriate kinds of  food which do not contain any salt, sugar or additives.  miss ej really wanted our adult food and i had to make sure that her food was somewhat similar to our food, without all the junk.  thus, i started to research, explore and experiment.  i had successful and not so successful results.  i’ll only write the successful ones. 🙂

i used to worry a lot about miss ej’s breakfast because i did not want to spend too much time making her breakfast, but i still wanted it to be a good and nutritious meal.  i tried giving miss ej a bowl of cereal with homo milk then some toast with jam.  she didn’t like any of them.  after many tries, i figured out that she loves oatmeal mixed with homo milk.  she probably would like some sugar or syrup in it, but i did not want her to get used to the taste of sugar.  i plan to add some berries and give her some variation in the future.

here is today’s breakfast;

a bowl of oatmeal – a handful of organic quick oats with 2 oz. of homo milk

a cup of yogurt – 2 tbsp of 6% fat natural yogurt mix with 1 tbsp of Activia yogurt

1/2 ripe banana

a 3 oz. cup of homo milk

recently, i weaned miss ej off of her bottle and decided to give her milk in a cup.  i’ve introduced her to a plastic cup when she was around 6 months old and she’s been learning how to drink from it.  she had some difficulties (i.e. choking) initially, but now, she’s pretty good at drinking from a cup.

when i weaned her bottle, i also weaned her formula and switched over to homo milk.  although, she knew the taste of homo milk, she was very hesitant to drink more than 1 oz.  initially, i gave it to her in a plastic cup and she shook her head as soon as she saw the white liquid (instead of the clear liquid/water) inside the cup.  as always, i decided to trick her… 🙂  i noticed that she’s been staring at her dad when he drank his shot of espresso from his starbucks’ espresso cup.  a couple of times, she reached for it, wanting to play with it and imitate her dad.  so, i quickly switched it with a new, but same type of cup and instead of a shot of espresso, i poured in 3 oz. of homo milk.  and voila!  she drank it all and then some! 🙂

for tonight’s dinner, she had these;

a bowl of clam meeyukgook (seaweed soup) mixed with rice

1 clementine orange

1/4 cup of water

here is the recipe for clam meeyukgook (seaweed soup) with no salt, sugar or any additives;

ingredients:

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp crushed garlic

1/4 cup of clams

a handful of dry seaweed (meeyuk) – any korean supermarket sells these

2.5 small dry anchovies

3 cm of dry kelp (thicker and wider than seaweed/meeyuk)

directions:

1. boil 1-2 cups of water and add dry anchovies and kelp.  lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. soak the dry seaweed in the cold water for 5 minutes.  make sure to soak it in a big bowl (seaweed will expand quite a bit).

3. cut the soaked/expanded seaweed into small pieces (size that your baby is able to swallow)

4. soak the clams in salt water and wash throughly (some of the clams are not very clean, so make sure to wash them).  cut the washed clams into small pieces.

5. heat up a small pot, add sesame oil, garlic and diced clams.  lower the heat and stir.

6. take out the anchovies and kelp from simmered water.  pour the simmered water to the small pot with prepared clams.

7. once the water boils, add the diced seaweed into the boiling water.

8. boil in medium heat for about 7-10 minutes. (i usually add rice at around 7 minutes and boil for another 3 minutes because miss ej likes her rice in the soup)

make sure to taste!  it should taste good and shouldn’t taste too bland, because the natural flavours of anchovies and clams should help the soup to taste more flavourful, although no salt or additives were added.

my girl is a picky eater and if the food isn’t up to par, her mouth is closed tightly and no coaxing will get her mouth to open.

luckily, she loved this soup and she had a pretty big bowl and probably would have had some more.

it may not work for you, especially if your child isn’t into seafood.  my miss ej is a fan of seafood and prefers fish over meat, so this soup works well for her.  even if your child isn’t into seafood, you should try giving it to them!  who knows?  they might love it and it is a nutritious meal!

just be careful if your child is highly allergic, since shell fish (clams) may cause allergic reaction.  however, out of all the shell fish, i find that clams are the safest.

My Current Parenting Struggles – Top 5

19 Dec

motherhood is a wonderful experience, but it is also an experience that brings numerous struggles. i often say, “one thing after another”. you think you’ve overcome one thing, then there is another one awaiting.

the first 3 months were the toughest time for me. my girl wanted to be held, nursed and wanted to sleep in a particular way. until this day, i am in awe of those moms who are able to nurse their baby in public (with a cover over their shoulder). it was very difficult to nurse my daughter away from home, because she didn’t like to be covered and wanted my full attention while nursing. for some reason, whenever i looked away, she immediately stopped suckling and cried.

now that she is one year old, i no longer have theses struggles that i mentioned above. however, i must have traded those struggles for others and here are my top 5;

1. weaning the pacifier

when my girl was born, i made up my mind that i would not let my baby use a pacifier. however, my girl loved to suckle. before introducing her to a pacifier, she wanted to be nursed continuously. she obviously had a need to suckle and it seemed like her suckling needs were much greater than most babies. so i gave in and it made my life much easier. however, she became very dependent on her pacifier and it was in her mouth all the time! when she was awake, asleep and even when she ate. she would take a spoonful of her food, then suck on her pacifier. this repeated throughout the entire meal. i tried to take it away but she screamed and cried until she got it back. she even has a name for it; it’s “mamamamama”. she says this word a lot more than umma (mom in korean) and abba (dad in korean). not only that, her pacifier is in most of her pictures. you can’t hardly see her lips in any of her pictures.

i researched “how to wean pacifier” and read many mom’s blogs talking about their success stories of weaning the pacifier. many used a “cold-turkey” method and surprisingly, it often led to successful results! well, not for me. i tried. i tried to get her to use it only during her naps and sleep time. i almost succeeded… until, she got sick and it went back to square one!

none of the kids in her class use pacifiers. often times, the kids in her class pop my girl’s pacifier out of her mouth. i think it’s because they find it very interesting that my girl has it in her mouth all the time. most kids are usually limited in their pacifier usage… their pacifiers are kept inside their crib to be used only for nap and sleep time. today, a mom glanced at my girl and said to her baby daughter, “you only use your pacifier in your crib, right?”.

2. co-sleeping vs sleep training

some of my friends know that i am a proponent of co-sleeping. i believe that co-sleep allows a child to feel safe and secure and in turn, enhances their self-esteem (i hope). my husband and i decided to co-sleep and placed her crib right beside our bed.

i’ve tried different sleep training methods early on, until my girl was about 5 months old. it worked well until she started to have teething pain during the night. around 6th month, she was up 4-5 times throughout the night and i ended up bringing her into our bed. she was much happier and slept better (even with the teething pain).

when we started to co-sleep, we were all happy. the baby slept well and i slept well.

then… my girl started to crawl and walk. she crawled up to our bed, crawled over us and ended up sleeping in our bed. this repeated and eventually, the 3 of us slept together in a cramped queen size bed.

one night, i got up from my sleep because i was certain that my nose was broken. i heard a crack and tears were rolling down uncontrollably. i woke up my husband and said, i think my nose is broken. thank god, it wasn’t, but all this happened because my girl dropped her head on top of my nose while sleeping. incidents like this happened quite a bit.

so, i began to think… perhaps, she is too old to co-sleep and it’s time to sleep train. OMG…

i heard that the older they are, the harder it is to sleep train. i don’t know where to start…

one day, we put up the side of her crib which was down, previously. so, she was trapped inside her crib for the first time. we were still in the same room, right beside her. she cried and cried, wanting to come out of her crib. we ignored but still kept our eyes on her. maybe 5 minutes passed. her cries got stronger, became more like wailing. she became more and more angry and then… she threw up.

we had to change her crib sheets, wash and change her. she ended up sleeping with us in our bed, once again… she won.

me and my husband have no idea how to resolve this issue. we do not even know where to start. it’s scary to even think about it.

i think our only choice at this point is to put her crib in her room and try the cry it out method. we are thinking about setting aside 4-5 days during the holidays to try it out. i wonder how many times she will throw up…

3. how to parent a spirited child

while i was pregnant, i’ve looked at many different parenting books. one of them was called how to raise your spirited child. the author of this book defined a spirited child as a child who is sensitive, intense, perceptive, persistent and energetic. miss ej is definitely all of these. she has always been very sensitive, even as a newborn. she liked or disliked certain houses, she didn’t like certain soap that i used and until today, she favours certain people. some people, she refuses to even look at, but to some people/strangers, she will not hesitate to go hug or play with them. when she’s angry, i can’t get mad at her because that will make her more angry and her anger becomes uncontrollable. when she’s upset, i need to talk to her gently and give her hugs and kisses. this is the only way she will compromise or even consider listening to me. don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t cry or get angry very often. it takes a lot to get her upset.

the scary part is that when i was growing up, i behaved somewhat similar to miss ej. i wasn’t as strong and energetic as her, but i was a sensitive, persistent child. thus, i understand her to a certain degree and i know it’s important to work with her rather than just correct her.

i would love to read more about raising this type of child or even to learn from a professional. i don’t believe that miss ej has an issue and i know that spirited children are smart, loving children who have a special place in this world, accomplishing great things. i just want to help her and direct her to become all that she can be.

4. sleeping habits

miss ej slept through the night from her 2nd month, sleeping 9-10 hours straight, every night. i stopped night feeding from her 2nd month and never had to be up to feed her in middle of the night. it was a little different when she started to teeth but all in all, she’s been a good sleeper. on average, she has slept 10-11 hours a night and took 2-3 hours of naps.

ever since she turned 1 year old and started to walk on her own… everything changed. she no longer wants to take naps and getting her to fall asleep has been soooooo painful! i said to my husband, this is worse than labour and giving birth (and i had 26 hours of labour!)

she fights her sleep so much that it takes 2-3 hours of fussing and crying before she actually falls asleep. we even tried letting her play longer, thinking that she might not be tired, but it got her more tired, over-stimulated and then more fussing and crying. before she falls asleep, she has to have 2-3 crying sessions, 1-2 laughing sessions and 6-7 walking around the house sessions.

we take her to our bed several times. she gets up and gets out of the bed an equal amount of times. then, when she’s ready to go to sleep, she crawls over us several times, rubs her face (more like drops her head on top of my face) several times and kicks my face a few times… then, ends with a final cry.

it is the most frustrating thing, ever!

5. extreme attachement

i usually spend a whole day with miss ej, everyday. it’s natural that she’s attached to me. however, she has a hard time playing by herself or being alone for even 5 minutes. even when she plays, she has to make sure that i’m attached to her (physically). she make sures that i’m holding her hand or my leg is touching her back or leg or any part of her body. she cries when i go to the kitchen or go to the bathroom. she’s always been this way and i thought she would eventually grow out of it, but it hasn’t happened yet. the worst is when she refuses to stay/play with anyone else but me, not even her dad. i often take a shower when my husband comes home so that he can watch miss ej. at times, my husband had to stay in the bathroom with miss ej while i take a shower because miss ej didn’t want to be away from me, not for a second.

my daughter has numerous characteristics that are amazing. she is a healthy, happy, good hearted and affectionate child who loves to play with other kids (sharing toys and taking turns). she possesses many good characteristics (although kids’ personalities change many times) and she is a joy to be around. so, i hope people don’t misunderstand that my struggles are not due to her inadequacy, but they are struggles that most parents go through around her age.

i am writing this post, not just to complain, but i write because the struggles are part of parenting and i want to be able to look back and remember everything – the good parts as well as the bad.

Happy 1st Birthday!

18 Dec

my beautiful miss ej is one year old today!

we had a wonderful birthday celebration party with 60+ people yesterday. miss ej was tired, but nonetheless, she had tons of fun. the worst part for her was getting changed into 4-5 different outfits, but she cried only once! mr jq and i, were extremely proud of her and we had a wonderful day. one of the best days of our lives.

thank you miss ej for being our wonderful, healthy, sweet and pretty daughter. you bring so much joy into our lives. your dad’s and my life have become much more richer, meaningful and happier because of you. we love you so much.

thank you jesus for creating such a wonderful little girl, giving us an opportunity to raise her and helping/guiding us along the way. i know that i would not have survived the past year without christ.

a big thank you to my wonderful friends, who have been there for me in the past year; giving me tips, encouragements and just being there for me to hear me vent. i don’t know how i could have survived without my wonderful community of friends!

oh… how can i forget… my mom, who’s been there for me from the day miss ej was born… forcing me to eat so much meeyukgook (seaweed soup), judging my milk supply… 🙂 but she has helped me so much in the past year and has been there for me every time i needed help.

last, but not least, thank you to my wonderful husband. we’ve had lots of ups and downs… lots of laughs and cries… wasn’t it all worth it? thank you for becoming a wonderful dad (you had to learn so much in the past year)!

the past year flew by… what an eventful year it has been!

i thought i would never say this, but yes, i would do it all over again. 🙂