Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

January

We had just gotten back from a dreamy vacation in Jamaica and literally the first thing we did was pick up Pesto from Maryland. We added a new member to the family! Will we ever adopt a dog in the middle of winter again? Probably not.

Our female cichlid laid EGGS and we made a homemade tumbler. Only one egg eventually made it to be a full-grown adult. What a trooper.

We experienced a historical day...from our couch.

February

I cooked a 5-course meal on Valentine's Day. I enjoyed it and hubs did too!

I spent A LOT of time on my blog layout. In the end, I went back to something simple and clean and am sticking with it for 7 months and counting.

I cooked Hong Kong Style Pan Fried Noodles. It is one of my most popular posts! Unfortunately, I haven't cooked it again since...

March

Beef Noodle Soup. Another one of my most popular posts! It is frequently searched.

My dad turned 70.

At the tail end of March, my mom and I went on our first mother/daughter trip - Madrid and Barcelona! It was a great trip with new experiences.

April

After nearly 4 months, Pargo and Pesto were finally getting along. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Not to toot my own horn, but the photos I took at the White House Gardens and Grounds Tour were pretty awesome.

In honor of our 6th Date-versary, we dined at our favorite little bakery.

May

Hubs was taking a crazy number of classes, but we still kept in touch.

We went to Ireland!! It was a once-in-the-life-time trip.

June

I got crafty and busted out several projects, including fabric covered magnets, marble magnets, and freezer paper stenciling. Fun times.

I learned to use my big camera properly (1 and 2).

July

OMG, we are pregnant! Baby A will make her debut in March 2010.

I got into a minor fender bender. Ended up not fixing the car and walked away with enough money to cover our upcoming Disney trip.

August

Life in general came to a halt when I was hit with morning sickness, food aversion, and fatigue. I only posted 7 times in August.

After hearing the baby's healthy heartbeat, we told our family the baby news at 11 weeks.

September

We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and went on our annual Disney trip. I still haven't finished blogging about it.

I announced my pregnancy to the blogging world and received many kind comments.

October

I got promoted at work! I was completely surprised, but really secretly hoping it would happen. On that same day, my mom turned 60. We went to Bob Evans for dinner.

We found out Baby A is a girl and I started shopping for maternity clothes.

I did not get a chance to write about this: hubs completed his MBA program! Welcome to the club, babes.

November

Another slow month - I only posted 8 times. Highlights included eating yummy cupcakes and noticing Baby A's first kick. I also found some good baby bargains.

December

Instead of jetting off to someplace exotic, we spent the holidays at home for the first time in 3 years. We got hit with 20+ inches of snow! We stayed nice and cozy and I got a bonus day off from work.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

dec. daily {no.29}: Hello Again

Sheesh! Has it really been over a week since I blogged?

How was everyone's break? Hope it was merry and bright. I did a lot of this over the 3-day weekend:

Chillaxing. :) It was wonderful.

I did get myself off the couch every once in a while to spend time with family, take advantage of THE slickest deal ever (a big success story here - lets just say Baby A will be wearing GAP/Old Navy for the next decade), and look at houses (completely fruitless in this department).

Now it's back to work...although the office is unusually quiet. I plan to fully enjoy this quiet time before the hustle and bustle start up again after the New Year's.

Wishing all of you are staying warm and happy!

--
PS. Wearing one of my Christmas presents from the hubs in the picture above. The PJ is comfy and girly - exactly what I need as I reach my 29 weeks of being pregnant.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

dec. daily {no.20}: big white beautiful mess

This morning, even before the sun came up, hubs bundled up and went to dug up our cars from the snow....with an ice scraper.

Dear Santa, all we want for Christmas is a snow shovel.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

dec. daily {no. 19}: Oh the weather outside is frightful,

But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

I am loving this blizzard we have going on outside. Supposed to be getting around 20 inches of the white fluff by the time it is all said and done. Yesterday after work, like the rest of Virginians, I went grocery shopping. It was a madhouse, couldn't even find a cart. And the lines...never seen anything like it before. But I got it done and stocked up on the staples - milk, lasagna, and cookie mix.

Today we are not leaving the house. Am enjoying the winter wonderland from within. We are all staying safe and warm and wishing you and your family the same thing, too.

{Picture taken not too long ago. Not to worry, Pargo wasn't out for more than 30 seconds. No animals were harmed during the shoot.}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

dec. daily {no.16}: thankful

Wow, am feeling mega-loved today. My coworkers surprised me with a gift card to Babies R Us at our holiday luncheon. It was completely unexpected and I was blown away by their generosity.

The best part? Since this was our holiday luncheon (and not a baby shower of any sort), after a little speech, we moved quickly to the eating and mingling part and all eyes were off me!

I am so thankful for their thoughtfulness! Let the real baby preparation commence!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

dec. daily {no.13}: snip snip

Three inches chopped off and, instantly, feeling a whole lot "lighter". Despite the fact that, in reality, I am heavier than I have ever been.

26w4d today.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

dec. daily {no.12}: give

Our extended families don't have the tradition of gift-giving so I don't have many people (read: 1 person and 2 dogs) to shop for, but I am still sticking to a savvy spending plan. Here's how:

-- clip coupons {from online and inserts}
-- read advertisements and compare and buy everything on sale
-- plan out route {to achieve minimal store-hopping, many stores price match or use competitors' coupons}
-- wrap in newspaper {reduce, reuse, recycle!}

Armed with a stack of coupons this morning, I did just that. It took me 3 hours, but I am almost to the finish line. Just a few more to go...

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

dec. daily {no.8}: here fishy fishy

Besides loving our dogs, hubs and I are also fish people. So when I spotted this "MiGi Splash" bedding set, I fell head over heels for it. It's simple, bright, and fresh-looking. I love it that it doesn't have any hint of pink, but still suitable for a baby girl. Bonus: it's got green!

Naturally, I researched the heck out of the set and even tried to find something I might like even more. But not a surprise, I always came back to this set. I ran it by hubs and he immediately gave a thumbs-up.

I wanted to wait until it goes on sale, but I found that Target already has a fairly reasonable price tag to begin with (I did a google search and the set ranges from $180 at Sears to $100 at Target) so with a coupon code (a mere $7 off, but hey) I found online, I went ahead and ordered it!

I am so excited!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

dec. daily {no.5}: treat

Popcorn, pizza, hot dog, junior mints, chocolate-covered raisins, sour patch kids, fruit snacks, and reese's pieces. All for breakfast? Yes, please!

For the 3rd year in the row (see 2007 and 2008), we had an all-you-can-eat buffet at the theater concession stand this morning, courtesy of my company. For this pregnant lady, it was heaven on earth.

The movie we saw was Planet 51. Not much to say about it. IMDB gives it 5.9 stars...way too generous, IMO. Regardless, a special treat for me + hub on this snowy day.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, December 4, 2009

dec. daily {no.4}: wish

What are you wishing for this season?

This year, besides winning the lottery (obviously!), I am wishing for good health for hubs + me, family members, friends, and my blog readers.

~~
PS. So what triggered this wish? I don't mean to sound gross, but have you ever gotten a canker sore on your tongue before? It makes talking and eating painfully impossible. I even took a day off earlier this week because of it. Am so glad the end of the tunnel is near. Seriously.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

dec. daily {no.3}: greet

As much as I like the idea of homemade Christmas cards, I just don't think I can make them as nice, as cute, or as economical (especially with the help of this coupon) as the ones from good ol' Hallmark .

I spent what seemed like a long time browsing at the store. Some were too dorky. Some were too lovey-dovey. This one was just right. The image above is a snippet of the design.

Now the easy part is done, time to tackle the writing, signing, sealing, stamping, and sending business.

Less blogging, more action.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

dec. daily {no.2}: sweet

Now is such a sweet time. No more nausea or fatigue. Not yet to the point of an overbearing belly, or sore back, or swollen ankles.

Second trimester has been good to me.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

dec. daily {no.1}: tunes

Amazon is giving out a free Christmas song each day starting today until Christmas. I am not a fan of today's song of the day, Joy to the World, but nothing beats free.

I will have to remember to put the headphone on my belly so Baby A can get into the holiday merriment as well. :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Baby Purchases, Round I

While we haven't purchased any big ticket items for Baby A, we have been filling up our place with a couple of little things. I didn't intend to buy them this early on, but when I found them to the tune of practically zero dollars, I was all over it.

About two weeks ago, I was browsing online and came across this super-amazing deal. When it was all said and done, I paid a total of $.40 for a box of Pampers 216-count diapers, shipped (no, the dot before the 4 is not a typo). The deal is dead now and I don't think it will ever come back alive, but I think I was more excited about this than my $5 wedding dress!

A day later, I found another coupon code online for the same site and bought a couple of Born Free bottles (5oz and 9oz), nipples, and pacifiers. I read all the reviews and it seemed like mothers generally prefer Born Free than all other brands. I know babies all have preferences on what they like, I hope Baby A likes Born Free. I never knew bottles were so expensive, but I got everything for about $6.

I also stocked up on all the bath products Baby A will ever need for the first year of her life. It's funny, though. Hubs and I always go for the generic Equate brand for ourselves, but when it comes to Baby A, we are all about Johnson and Johnson and Baby Magic. Guess it's true what they say - you always want what's best for you kids. Although I am not sure if name-brand shampoo and body wash will make a big difference in the long run. However, when the total price was a mere fraction of what it would have cost originally, I snatched a bottle of everything. I got so many that I had to clear a shelve in our linen closet for all her things.

Of course, we didn't find the cheapest of everything. I splurged on a pack of aden+anais swaddling blankets. I have read so many good reviews that I knew I must have them. I got them just a few dollars cheaper than regularly priced on Amazon. I hope Baby A loves them and they will be multi-purpose like the website advertised.

Every time we go shopping now, we always stop by at the baby clearance section for cheap clothes. I think Baby A have enough clothes for the first couple of months - through September at least - so no more buying clothes, no matter how cute they are. The best bargain thus far? $.17 for a pair of socks at Old Navy. We got 5 for under a $1.

We got lucky and received My Brest Friend and a bath tub from an old friend of mine. Both in basically mint condition and the best part is not having to do any research on them. (Thanks Sophia!)

I know as far as baby purchases, we have only made a tiny dent. But I am also sticking to my guns and will only buy the necessities. This means, instead of buying a play gym for tummy time, I think a great substitute may be simply lay out a blanket (the aden+anais swaddling blanket?) and put out colorful, plush toys. Also, bouncers and swings, are they really necessary? What about bottle warmer, diaper pail, and wipe warmer?

For now, we still need to prepare for a lot of necessities, from tiny things like baby wipes and baby-friendly laundry detergent to bigger things like a travel system and crib. I am doing lots of research and looking out for deals.

I can't believe we are almost down to less than 3 months!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's that time of the year...

and that means our little tree is once again gracing our little living room.

And suddenly, this place of ours is feeling more homey, ready to greet the holidays.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 22: She Kicks!

Every pregnancy is different, but most women say they could feel baby movements around 17 or 18 weeks.

When Week 17 came and gone with no movements, I shrugged it off.

Then Week 18 passed and I got a bit concerned. I couldn't help but wondered, "Hey, are you still in there? Are you still growing, Baby A?"

I received my anatomy scan at Week 19, it was a relieve to see Baby A alive and well. Still...I felt no kicking. None that I could feel anyway.

Few days later, I even called the doctor's office to check the results of my anatomy scan. I specifically asked about the placement of my placenta since if it happens to be in front of the baby, it would harder to feel any movements. The doctor just told me everything is normal.

Comforting to hear, but no help at all.

Then, around Week 21, just a week ago, I swear I started feeling something in my belly! A feeling of popping bubbles.

Since then, I have been feeling the bubbles more and more consistently.

And just yesterday, all of a sudden, at 22w5d, I felt a more distinct nudge. I placed my hands over my belly and, as if she wanted to make sure I am aware of her presence, she kicked again and, this time, I felt it from the outside!

It was incredible!

Last night at the dinner table, I felt her kicking again and I immediately placed hub's hand over my belly. Few seconds later, another strong kick! We both looked up and smiled so big at each other.

I think I am most excited that hubs can finally feel her too.

I love it that I can feel Baby A now. It makes everything a little bit more real.

Already, I am learning the daily patterns of the movement. It’s quiet during the day. But the moment I lie down to sleep, she throws a party and learns to dance in there.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Up + Monsters, Inc = Happy Hubs

Here in our little household, one of us is a bit obsessed with Disney/Pixar movies...so when I saw this hot thread, I knew I had to get in on the deal.

I read every single word and all the different scenarios. My head was about to explode by the end (bargain hunting is hard work), but if you are interested in these blu-ray movies, this is exactly how I got them for a grand total of $7.43 at my local Target store (the plain and no fuss way):

Up $19.99 (on sale at Target) + Monsters, Inc $18.99 (price match from Best Buy - makes sure to bring the ad) - Target coupon $10 (link) - Up coupon $10 (link) - Monsters, Inc coupon $8 (join Disney Movie Rewards and use code 786936164886) - GC $5 (a gift card that we won from inside a cereal box) + tax = $7.43 (!!!!)

Christmas shopping for the hubs is half way done...:)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 21: First Belly Pic!

21 weeks. More than half way there. I like to say that time is going by in a flash, but in reality, it has been crawling. Hopefully it will speed up now that the holidays are almost here. The most wonderful time of the year is usually over before I know it - I wish this year will be the same.

Some updates...

:: My belly is definitely becoming more obvious. Actually it has been for the last several weeks now. I kept on telling myself to take belly pics, but this lazy pregger just kept on putting it off...until today. It's my goal to start documenting this growing belly. I know that if I don't, I will regret it.

So here is the first of the belly pics...

:: I am not sleeping too well these days. I wake up once or twice (sometimes even 3 times) at night. And since I go to bed early, around the time I wake up at 1am for my last bathroom break, I can't go back to sleep for an hour or two. I toss and turn and try to find a comfortable position using my 3 pillows. Luckily, I still eventually fall back to sleep and wake up fairly refreshed.

:: For my entire life, I never had problems with allergies. Now I live with stuffy and runny nose. My nose is constantly itchy and I sneeze more than ever. *achoo* And, oh, those leg cramps are killing me. They come without any warning.

:: Books, friends, and doctors all say that regular exercise will help with labor and delivery. Since I will need all that help I can get, I have been taking 30-minute walk daily. They say swimming helps too, but I am too cheap to buy a swimming suit. I will start doing yoga at home soon, though.

:: I *think* I feel Baby A kicking! It's still hard to tell since it's not consistent and sometimes I wonder if it is just gas, but I am 95% sure it is her practicing karate. I can't feel the kicking from outside yet, so of course, neither can hubs, but I am looking forward for that day to come.

More updates next week!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

$1 ON Scarves

{link 1 and 2}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pargo Turns FOUR!

Dear Pargo,

Happy 4th birthday! I hope you enjoyed that drumstick.

Oh, what a year it has been for you! Earlier this year, you got a new brother. Yes, you didn't warm up to him until weeks later, but you were very generous in sharing your toys and bed with the little newcomer right off the bat. (You weren't very good at teaching him to use the bathroom outside, though.)

Although we are still not entirely sure whether or not you love your bother 100%, you have actually re-learned a few things from him! You now, once again, love to lick (our hands and faces), snuggle, and sleep under the blanket.

You are adorable as ever, especially with all the haircuts that Daddy gives you! You also get especially happy after Mommy brushes your hair and wipes your eyes every morning. You appreciate the little things in life.

We love you Pargo! Next year you will become a big brother again. I can't wait to see how you will interact with your baby sister. :)

xoxo,
Mommy

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lavender Moon Cupcakery

This Halloween, hubs and I got our sweets in the form of cupcakes!

I have long wanted to visit Lavender Moon Cupcakery (heck, even hubs had them before and raved about them) in Old Town Alexandria and this past weekend, I finally did.

There were around 12-15 flavors available, we decided on tiramisu, blood orange dreamsicle, smores, and chocolate cupcake with peanut butter and chocolate ganache frosting. $3 each.

I thought all the cupcakes were delicious. The cakes were dense and moist, while the frostings were light and fluffy. I don't usually like dense cakes, but I will make exceptions for these! Yum. I have to say that blood orange dramsicle was my fav, but maybe it was because I was really, really hungry when I had it.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery is located right off King Street, nestled in a row of stores. The store sign isn't terribly big so it's easy to miss. Hubs has good eyes and spotted it right away. To keep it small and low-key, they don't have a website nor they take credit cards! Luckily, we got just enough cash on hand. Whew!

---
Lavender Moon Cupcakery
116 S. Royal Street
Alexandria, VA
703-683-0588

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 20: The Anatomy Scan

This past Monday, I had my 20 week ultrasound examination, sometimes called the anatomy scan.

The main purpose of this scan is to check the baby’s anatomy for normality. A thorough examination of the baby’s brain, heart, spine, kidneys, organs and limbs will be undertaken. The placenta is checked for its position and measurements of the baby will be performed to ensure he/she is growing normally.

And you can find out the sex of the baby.



Although finding out about the sex was beyond exciting, I was primary interested in the health of the baby.

Everything about my pregnancy has been going smoothly (sans the slight morning sickness that I AM STILL HAVING!), but since becoming pregnant, I worry about everything. Will the baby have 10 fingers and toes? Two eyes? Two legs?

When it was finally my turn, I lay on the examination table while the sonographer did her thing. The exam took about 30 minutes, my back was KILLING me.

She made some polite chit chat, and then gave a commentary on what she was doing, what parts of the baby she was checking, head circumference, length of legs, heart beat, lips, and nostrils.

It was great seeing Baby A again, we saw her yawn.

All is well.

Baby A is perfect and measuring just right.

Sometime during the exam, she exclaimed, "A girl! See, there is nothing here, I am pretty sure it's a girl!"

I was shocked. All these time, I thought I was growing a boy!

Regardless, we left the appointment happy and giddy.

That night, over burgers and fries, we imagined what our little baby girl will be like.

She will be brainy and pretty, naturally. She will be sassy.

She will be a tomboy.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 19: She's a Girl!

Here’s a big happy grin from our little girl!

I am going to have two boys and a girl!

I AM COMPLETELY JAZZED!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Shopping For Maternity Wear

When it came to maternity clothes, I tried to spend as little as possible.

Unfortunately, I didn't receive any hand-me-downs from friends or family. So as an alternative, I scoured diligently on Craigslist, but fuzzy photos and bad descriptions made my search fruitless.

Around Week 15, my pants started to feel tight and I used the rubber-band technique to last me through the week. Some pregnant women use BellaBand to help them wear regular clothing all the way until 19 or 20 weeks, but at $16 a pop, I skipped it. Instead, my mom and I went shopping and I got two pairs of maternity pants (suitable for work) at Motherhood Maternity for $50. With those two pair of pants and my normal skirts, I lasted another 2 weeks.

The next time I went shopping for maternity clothes was at Old Navy. I had looked through their online maternity shop at home, but was surprised at the tiny selection they have in the store! I managed to find a pair of casual black pants and a sweater for $30.

Last week, Week 18, I knew I couldn't hold off any longer in buying maternity tops. Again, I did a thorough research online and it took me back to ON, where I found the cheapest prices. With a 25% off code, I ordered 3 cardigans, 3 tank tops for layering, and 3 casual tops. All for $117.
So in total, I have spent a little bit less than $200. Depends on who you ask, it may seem like a lot or not much at all. I think of it as a little upgrade to my fall/winter wardrobe and made peace with it.

I hope that the pieces I bought will last me through the pregnancy. Luckily, my workplace isn't super fancy so I shouldn't look like a total slob rotating the same clothes every week.

The only staple I am missing is jeans. I might get it the next time I see free shipping at ON.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 18: Weight Gain

This morning, at 18w6d, according to my bathroom scale, I have officially gained 10 pounds!

But, according to various research online, I seem to be on track.

My pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for my height (with a BMI of 18.5), which means I should gain between 25 to 35 pounds during my pregnancy. In addition, the proper way to do it is gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the remainder of the pregnancy.

I still have 21 weeks left before full term and that means I can expect to gain 21 more pounds. Of course, it will probably be more. Some women gain an average of 1.5 pounds a week during the second and third trimester. However, my goal is to not break 35 pounds total.

I feel I have been eating fairly healthy. I still avoid cookies, chips, and sodas like I used to. Pregnancy hasn't made me crave for junk food.

My daily meals look something like this (I also take prenatal vitamins and drink at least 50 fl oz of water):

Breakfast: Two cups of 2% milk and cereal.
Snack: Yogurt.
Lunch: Whatever I pack for lunch. Typically leftovers from night before - rice, veggies, and meat.
Snack: Two pieces/servings of fruit (banana/apple/orange/pineapple/cantaloupe).
Snack (when I get home from work): A small meat bun.
Dinner: Whatever I make for dinner. Typically rice, veggies, meat, and soup.
Snack: Some kind of Asian snack.
Snack: Fruit.

Will I stay within my goal? We shall see how I do at the end of 40 weeks!

In less than 6 days, we find out whether we will be shopping for pink or blue. Can't wait!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 17: Maternity Leave

Perhaps one of the things I look forward to the MOST about being pregnant is the time off I will get once I deliver in March!

This week, I have been thinking about maternity leave - finding more about the company policy and asking experienced co-workers and friends on how long they took off.

While my firm is consistently listed as one of the best companies for working mothers by several magazines, I am surprised they only give two weeks of maternity leave! Since there is no way I will be ready to go back to work after two short weeks, I will be supplementing it with short-term disability, my personal vacation days, and maybe leave-without-pay.

By my rough calculation, I should have 12 weeks of paid leave and, if I choose, another 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Not too shabby.

So what happens after 12 or 24 weeks?

I don't know yet. I haven't looked into daycare (so expensive!) or any other options. Right now, if we still live nearby, I am counting on my dad since he happens to be retiring next March! I think the stars are perfectly aligned on this one. :)

On another note, I am currently 17w6d and fully outfitted in maternity clothes. The pants are a bit loose, but it's much better than trying to squeeze into my regular ones. It's not quite showing underneath all these clothes, but I am sporting a little bump.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Shower @ The Ritz

I went to my friend Irena's baby shower yesterday. It was a lovely, elegant tea party at the Ritz Carlton. There were about 20 women, all oohing and aahing over baby goodies - from bunny suits to tiny pink dresses. It was all incredibly girly, very entertaining, and heaps of fun.

I sat next to the mother-to-be and we shared our pregnancy experiences thus far. Two of my close friends were also there and we caught up on work and life.

While the pianist played, we sipped on tea, snacked on dainty finger sandwiches, and indulged in sweets.

Overall, what a special treat.

I left the party in my pretty dress feeling classy that I just had afternoon tea at the Ritz.

But after I got home, still hungry and in my jammies, I inhaled two slices of pizza, drenched in oil and covered in sausages.

Ah, perfect balance.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray


Unexpectedly, I received some fantastic news yesterday!

I got promoted at work! (yay me!)

Of course a greater salary comes with greater responsibilities.

But I will worry about that later.

For now, I am just thrilled about my extra 5 days of vacation!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spring Planting: We Got One!

After months of waiting, I finally have ONE cayenne pepper...although not quite ready for harvest.

But that's okay, I can wait a couple of more days (weeks?), it will give me enough time to plan an entire menu around it!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Disney 2009: For the Last Time (at MK)

With Baby A on the way, hubs and I are fully aware that the end of our three-trips-a-year is also on its way.

The Disney trip last month is probably the last time we will go to Disney in a long, long time. I know what you may be thinking - "Wait a minute...isn't Disney World a great place to take the kiddies?" Maybe. But for us, it's a definite NO. Kids will just slow us down! We saw countless parents pushing their sleepy little ones around in strollers and we have no interests in doing that. So yeah, no more Disney for us for a while. *sob*

Anyway, while at Disney, the words "for the last time" came out often. We walked out of Disney Hollywood Studios at the end of the night with a little wave to the Sorcerer's Hat, we reluctantly said goodbye to the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, and we stayed as long as we physically could at EPCOT.

At the Magic Kingdom, here are a few of my "for the last time" moments:

Putting on our "opera glasses" for the last time.

Smile in front of the Cinderalla Castle for the last time.

Getting disgustingly full from the brownie sundae from Mrs. Potts' Cupboard for the last time.

Being inappropriate...but probably NOT for the last time. :)

I am sure hubs and I will look back to our last Disney trip (as a unit of 2) with fond memories!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 16: Baby Brain

I've been doing some really dumb things lately. I blame it on baby brain.

I've left my credit card with cashiers, bought wrong items at the grocery store, drove in the wrong direction, left opened cereal boxes on the table, added too much salt to scrambled eggs, and threw away a perfectly good CVS Extra Buck.

I used to be so organized and careful!

I've also noticed that I lost my ability to multi-task.

Usually I can multi-task like the best of them.

I can cook, and while the food cooks, I can clip and organize coupons. I can look through the ads and make mental note to myself on what I need to buy at which store. All in the same time, I can talk to Pargo and play with Pesto.

But with BABY BRAIN...I have to do ONE THING AT A TIME.

I can’t cope with anything more. One task. Then another.

It’s so inefficient.

I am not what I am used to.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Opinions Wanted: Name

My given name is Chia-Yi. When I was 16, when I became an US citizen, I legally changed it to Joyce. I love my Chinese name...when spoken in Chinese. But when translated to English? Not so much. Kids at school called me Chia Pet.

The reason why I legally changed it to Joyce was purely because so it would be easier for others to pronounce, and, at that time, fitting in was important to me.

Now as a grown adult, I think if my Chinese name had been more pronounceable or translated correctly (it should be Jaiyee), I would have kept it. It's unique, different, and more meaningful. In a similar situation, my sister-in-law says the same about her own name.

Still...

When it comes to naming Baby A, I have always thought: AmericanFirstName ChineseMiddleName LastName. He/she will be born in the US, so it just makes sense to have an American name. The Chinese middle name is to signify his/her cultural root. Sounds good, right?

But hubs is less than enthused.

Baby A's name should just be: ChineseFirstName LastName. Why have an American name just so it would be easier for others to pronounce? And it's always the Koreans/Chinese/Taiwanese who change their names. You don't see the Japanese changing their names to John, Bob, or Mary.

"We need to be different!" he said.

I still like my version better, but I agree that if we make sure Baby A's Chinese name is easy to pronounce, then I would be willing to go that route.

I talked to a coworker about this and he also likes my idea better. He said that if the baby chooses to, he/she can go by the American first name or the Chinese middle name, but at least there will be an option.

Then I look at my friend Su-Ting LastName. Her name is pretty (both in sound and look). She simply goes by Su. No American name, even though she was born and raised here.

What do you think? My way or hub's way?

--
10/1/09 - Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! They were all very helpful. On another note, I must had a case of "baby brain" when hubs and I had the conversation. Just want to clarify one point - besides the Japanese typically not changing their names, hubs also said it is the same with many Indians and other nationalities.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 15: A Little Announcement

Today is a special day. Today I share with you a little big secret that I have been keeping for the last 2+ months. Today I am ready to share it with the blogging world!

My husband and I are going to be parents (to a human baby) next March!

Eeeee!

Although the pregnancy planned, it wasn't meticulously done. So while hubs and I are delighted to welcome a new little person into the family next year, I would be lying if I didn't also mention that we are still adjusting to the fact that our easy, responsibilities-free lives are about to change...in a big way.

I've written several posts on the journey thus far and you can read the whole story of Making Baby A here.

--
P.S. I do have to say "sorry" for the neglect that the blog has suffered. After the morning sickness (and fatigue and food aversion) kicked-in in early August, cooking went out of the window, pictures didn't get taken, and weekends got boring. All in all, the last few weeks of summer went by in one big lazy blur. Although the symptoms haven't completely vanished yet, I am glad to say that at least I don't fall asleep by 7pm anymore. So hopefully regular blogging will return this fall. :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello+Goodbye

Goodbye flip flops, short shorts, and tank tops
Goodbye strawberry pops
Goodbye light traffic
Goodbye warm summer days

Hello gold+red+orange leaves
Hello Halloween, Hello Thanksgiving
Hello must-see TV
Hello chilly mornings and cozy evenings

Welcome fall, I am glad you are here!

{picture by my sister-in-law}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Summary Sept 18-20


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making Baby A, Week 14: First Baby Purchase

Hubs and I went to a consignment sale entirely dedicated to baby/kids merchandise this weekend. We didn't find out about the event until a couple of hours prior so we went on a whim, without a clue of what we were looking for. Even though I had been researching baby products a bit, I was nowhere near buying anything. Besides, I am only 14 weeks along - buying anything right now is premature. Still, we decided to check it out.

Inside a high school cafeteria, besides hundreds of people, we saw almost anything imaginable for infants and kids: cribs, toddler beds, bassinets, gliders, pack-n-plays, strollers, high chairs, booster seats, swings, bouncy seats, bath toys, bottles, utensils, bibs, linens, nursing accessories, safety items, gates, potty training items, infant carriers/back packs, diaper bags, books, dvds, and CLOTHES!

Hubs and I were overwhelmed by all the STUFF! So we went a more familiar territory - the onesies section - and start digging through the boxes. We found a few new-ish looking onesies packaged in zip-lock bags and threw them in our shopping bag. Not knowing the sex of the baby yet, we looked for gender-neutral pieces, but most were either blue or pink. We ended up with several blue onesies - girls can still wear blue, but boys can't wear pink, right? We also bought some caps and a swaddler.

I was surprised at how organized the event was - helpers all around and despite the heavy crowd, check-out was a breeze.

We came home and I decided to do research on the MOST BASIC NECESSITIES NEEDED FOR THE FIRST 6 WEEKS. I found the lists (see them here and here), but narrowed them down even further. I think this is probably what hubs and I will need to buy before next March:

Feeding
Nursing pillow: Boppy or My Brest Friend
Bibs (4)
Breast pump: rent or buy?
Formula: just in case breastfeeding doesn't work out
Bottles and nipples

Diapering
Diapers
Diaper wipes
Diaper cream or petroleum jelly

Sleeping
I don't think we will buy a crib immediately - hopefully we can find a cheap bassinet off Craigslist. If not, maybe we will just buy a playard that comes with a changing table and bassinet.

Bathtime
Plastic bathtub
Hooded terrycloth towels

Getting around
Front pack or sling
Car seat

Accessories
Receiving blankets (4)
Pacifiers

Clothes
One-piece outfits (4-7)
One-piece pajamas or wearable blankets (4-7)
Socks and booties (4-7)
Cap or bonnet (1-3)

I will have to run this list by a couple of experienced mothers (ie. friends with babies) and see what they think. I really want to avoid buying too much, but I also don't want to not cover the most basic.

So much to think about...

{written on 9/20/09, published on 9/23/09}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Disney 2009: We go to Hollywood!

Next stop: Hollywood!

Disney Hollywood Studios is rather small compared to other parks, but we ended up spending the entire day there! The light crowd made it hard to leave - we spent a lot of time just sittin' around.

Our day went a little bit like this -

First ride of the day - Star Tours, where we raced to the Moon of Endor with a novice "pilot-in-training". I wasn't a fan of this bumpy ride. The best part of it was walking into the gift shop after the ride and finally learned what an "Ewok" was.

Next we strolled down Sunset Boulevard and went on an elevator ride inside The Hollywood Tower Hotel. This ride had me at the edge of my seat because you never know when the elevator is going to drop. When it finally did, let me just say that my butt was in the air and I didn't stop screaming.

A quick snapshot of us as we waited in the hotel lobby...

Seeing that there was no wait at the Voyage of The Little Mermaid show, hubs and I jumped in. Lighting techniques and special effects made me felt like I was indeed under the sea. Wonderful, wonderful show.

When we got hungry for lunch, we hit the ABC Commissary and chowed down burgers, fries, and a couple of desserts. Tasty!

After lunch, we visited Hollywood's legendary Chinese Theater for The Great Movie Ride. We sat on a large moving tram and we were treated to scenes from famous old movies such as Casablanca, Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, and Alien.

At the Magic of Disney Animation, we attended a class hosted by a Disney Animator and learned how to draw Pooh. Mine didn't turn out so well. Hubs' was better, but we didn't get a picture.

The Toy Story Mania ride was so fun. This short ride is an interactive shooting game adventure like Buzz Lightyear, except it involves video screens and 3-D glasses! You sit in a vehicle and wind and twirl your way through a maze of objectives to score as many points as you can. Shooting balloons, capturing aliens, and just generally hitting targets!

And at the end of the ride…here were our scores. Hubs won by a landslide, but notice who had the better accuracy?

Sometimes after lunch and before dinner, we squeezed in some gigantic cupcakes. We were ready for a nap after this! And hubs did take one - at the Beauty and the Beast show. He missed out on some great singing, chereography, and dancing, though.

'Course we couldn't leave the park without a picture with the Sorcerer's Hat...

as well as one last walk through the Streets of America.

Oh Disney, how I miss you already.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birthday No. 3x

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Disney 2009: lions, tigers, but no bears

Maybe it was the economy, maybe it was our good timing, but on the day we went to Animal Kingdom, the park was near empty. Hubs and I had no complaints as we ran straight to DinoLand USA as soon as we went through the turnstiles. First ride - DINOSAUR!

We got on the time rover and blasted back 65 million years to bring back the last iguanodon!

I don't know why a couple of animatronics dinosaurs scared me so much. Pffft.

Next, we headed to "Theater in the Wild" for Finding Nemo-The Musical. We arrived 30 minutes early and kept ourselves busy by people-watching and finding Nemo in one of the plastic bubbles on stage. The show? I never did like the puppets, the singing, or the dancing, but hubs (he actually stayed awake this time) enjoyed it so it was all good. We both left the theater with a cramped back, though. The seats were just hideous - not at all contoured.

After the show, we walked through Asia and arrived in Africa for our lunch reservation at Tusker House. Hubs stuffed himself silly with lemon bars and I had fun just watching him eat.

The perfect way to digest all that food was to go on an open-air safari ride through the African savannah and try to spot elephants, tigers, lions, and giraffes roaming free. This ride never gets old for me, especially this time when we saw more animals than ever! We didn't take a single picture as we've been to the savannah countless times. So instead, this time, we just enjoyed the ride and breeze. It was niiiiice.

Looking for a way to cool down, we decided to catch a 3D showing of "It's Tough to be a Bug". Hosted by Flik, we were made honorary insects for 8 minutes. I have to admit that some special effects made me jump - even though, again, I have seen the show, like, a gazillion times. It was still fun.

One thing we had never done, but so glad we caught it this year (at the end of the day too!), was the Flights of Wonder, a show featuring species of free-flying exotic birds. During the show, birds big and small flew inches above our heads. It was so entertaining! I never knew that birds were so smart and trainable and talented. Definitely tops as one of my favorite shows at Disney!

Once the show concluded, hubs and I were pretty much ready to call it a day. However, not without some pictures to document the fact that we were there. So we each got a pop (strawberry for me and pineapple for him) and smiled for the camera.

We had a magical day! :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pesto!

My younger boy turned 1 this past Wednesday, which also happened to be our wedding anniversary! Since we were away on vacation, we didn't give him a proper celebration (although thanks to my mom, he had a great day filled with chicken) so I decided to bake him a cake today (recipe at the end of the post).

Pesto has been with us for 9 months now! I have to say that it hasn't all been easy. We got him right in the middle of dark, cold winter and standing outside waiting for him to do his business was never my idea of a good time. For the first few weeks, he pee'd and pooped inside the house - our little household was gross and filled with yelling. Then spring came and followed by summer...things gradually became better, but definitely not perfect. Our ADD boy is as hyper and needy as they come and he still has a long road of training in front of him.

Regardless, I love Pesto! He brings lots of love and laughter to the family. He's a klutz who often falls off the bed or the couch. He thinks your fingers and toes are his treats. He gets super jealous when he sees you brush Pargo and will sit close to you until it is his turn. He walks like a duck, makes squeaky sounds, and hides his bones for rainy days. He follows you, cuddles with you, and tries his darnest to please you.

Happy Birthday, Pesto! May you always be forever young at heart!

And now...the cake. Huge success! The two boys gobbled it all up! It smelled so good even I wanted a piece.

Pesto's Monkey Cake:

- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup honey (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and mix quickly. Bake in a greased 6" pan at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Store in the refrigerator. Recipe adapted from here

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Disney 2009: The Grub

And we are back from Disney World!

Hubs disappointed me and only gained 6 pounds, but overall, another tasty trip!

What we put in our tummies:

We started out with dinner at Chefs de France (EPCOT/France). This was probably the worst meal we have ever had at Disney (or anywhere else for that matter). The lobster bisque was disgustingly salty, the salmon was bland and fishy, and beef short ribs were unappetizing. For dessert we ordered crème brulee and puff choux with vanilla ice cream - both were just so-so at best.

I whole-heartily do not recommend this place and would definitely not eat here again.

The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom) buffet features Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. The restaurant is bright, light filled, and spacious. However, as nice as the atmosphere was, the food options were limited. Even hubs, the least pickiest person I know, couldn't find a whole lot to eat. For me, the saving grace was the beef vegetable soup.

Hubs was all smiles about the dessert, though.

After two bad meals, things began to look up.

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano (Disney Hollywood Studios) was surprisingly good! Great service, cozy atmosphere. I ordered spicy sausage with rigatoni pasta, peppers, onions, and tomato basil sauce. Hubs had steak with polenta and asparagus.

We finished EVERYTHING.

The Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) was a repeat from last year. I think hubs enjoyed it even more this time around. He loved everything, especially the lemon bar! We were stuffed from the buffet until 8pm at night.

We had our anniversary dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse (EPCOT/Canada) and it was the best meal we've had in a long time! The steaks were tender, juicy, and yummy. Besides the food, the service was also top-notch. We both really liked the place!

Our waitress recommended the filet mignon and that was what I ordered. The steak was served with wild mushroom risotto and butter sauce. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of ordering it medium-well, which turned out to be basicially well-done. Still good, but definitely would had been better if it was a bit pink inside. Hubs had the New York strip steak with potato au graitin. Yum-o!

We have been to Disney World four times in the last four years and have ate at a good number of restaurants. I like to try new things so when I made the reservations for this year, I randomly picked a few new restaurants to try. I have to admit that of the new restaurants we tried, I would only return to Le Cellier again.

So there you have it, a little taste of our culinary adventure at Disney!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!