Tuesday, March 30, 2010

being a mom

Lord & Taylor has the cutest little clothes for Anna. I had reward card money to spend, so I purchased some summer/spring outfits for her (her wardrobe no longer consists of just onesies - although I did get more of those too)!

Gosh, am I a mom now or what? Spending reward card money on her and not me!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chinese Confinement

Chinese people have a tradition called “confinement”.

It is based on the belief that when a woman has given birth, her body is “cold, weak, and empty”. In order to bring herself back to health, she must observe a month of certain lifestyle and dietary changes. If done correctly, a woman can be in better health than before she gave birth. If done incorrectly, a woman may suffer poor health for the rest of her life.

Some of the changes are:

The woman cannot eat spicy, fried, or grilled food. She cannot drink cold water. She should not have any fruits, except seedless grapes, papaya, or raisins.

The woman must stay indoors. She should not go out and expose herself to cold temperatures or cold wind. She must rest as much as possible. She should cover herself from head to toe.

The woman should not touch cold water, do housework, wash hair, or shower.

While I appreciate the significance of traditional beliefs – I am not following many of these practices. Stay indoors for a month? I have baby appointments. Not shower for a month? That's just not possible for sanitary reasons. As for housework, I may overlook a little bit of dust, but I hate clutters and, with a newborn, clutters build up fast that I have no choice but do light housework.

However, I am happy to observe confinement food. There’s a whole list of weird and wonderful Chinese foods that are said to nourish the woman’s body and increase the supply of breast milk.

My mom and hubs' mom made delicious dishes with chicken, sesame oil, rice wine, and ginger. LOTS and LOTS of ginger! Also to increase my milk supply, I have been eating pig feet & peanut soup. Yes, you heard me right. It's amazing what a mother would do for her child. But truthfully, the soup is growing on me.

I think I will miss the food aspect of "confinement" the most.

In all seriousness, I wonder if there are truths to "confinement". Am I going to suffer health problems when I am older just because I am taking showers and washing hair during this time?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby Anna: Week Two

Miss Anna is two weeks old today!

She's really good at:

: Letting us know loud and clear when she's hungry.
: Peeing at the exact moment when we take away the dirty diaper and just before putting on a fresh one.
: Making her parents do laundry 3x a week.
: Staring at faces and everything else.
: Wiggling uncontrollably.
: Looking oh-so-adorable with all her facial expressions. Although I can't seem to capture them on camera...
: Giving us that half-smile (or is it a smirk?) that melt our hearts.
: Downing her bottles in 10-minutes flat. A great eater, that little girl.
: Sleeping during the day and partying like a rock star at night.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making Baby A: The Hospital Stay

During my pregnancy, lots of people asked where I would be delivering. Upon hearing Fair Oaks Hospital, they assured me that I would receive excellent care.

They were right.

My labor & delivery went without any hiccups. After spending an hour in the L&D room recovering, I was wheeled to the room where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. We had a rather spacious room all to ourselves and all the room service we wanted.

The nurses/staff came to check on us every couple of hours. There was a breastfeeding class taught by lactation consultants. There was a 24-hour nursery for parents who wanted extra help. There were medical supplies I needed to help feeling better. I felt so pampered.

Anna did just what a perfect baby was supposed to do at this stage – eat and sleep. As a result, I could also pretty much just eat and sleep.

Hubs stayed with us both nights on the little foldout couch. We had such a memorable time learning to take care of Anna and spending time as a new family. This is definitely something I won't be forgetting anytime soon...but in case memory starts to fade, we have videos to help us remember.

By the second morning (3/16), I was ready to be discharged and go home. After signing some paperwork, we packed up our baby (along with all the goodies hospital gave us - diapers, wipes, and formula) and took her home to start her life with our family.

I am so grateful for such an easy start.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pargo Approved!

At our little household, we test all baby products on the puppies first before trying them out on little A.

Here is Pargo riding in the ever-popular BABYBJĂ–RN Baby Carrier.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

my two other babies

I started thinking about how much less time I spend with Pargo + Pesto since little A came home. Before Anna, I poured all my attention to my two puppies. Nowadays, my whole day evolves around my little baby. They are definitely neglected.

The puppies are not scared of Anna - instead they are just tentative and curious about her. I am happy that they seem to accept her pretty well. I was especially worried about Pesto because he tends to demonstrate jealously behaviors. But he surprised me - he has been more than okay with her.

All in all, both puppies are doing fine, but I see them hanging around by themselves a lot when they used to be on our laps. :(

To make everything as normal for Pargo + Pesto as possible, we are not strict about keeping everything baby-related apart from them. For example, we don't wash hands after petting the puppies before handling Anna. We are more than fine with Anna laying on the same couch or bed that the puppies lay on. After all, aren't babies less prone to get allergies and have better immune system if they grow up with pets in the house?

I am optimistic that once I have a routine down, I will spend more time with the puppies again. The last thing I want is forgetting about my two fur babies.

PS. Happy Adopt-versary, Pargo! Thanks for bringing us so much joy the past 4 years!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy 10 Days of Life!

Since birth, little A has been in deep hibernation. That girl sleeps all. the. time. She's 10 days old and probably slept through at least 9.5 days. Today, for whatever reason, she was super alert for an hour or so. I read her Goodnight Moon, sang songs, and placed her on the play mat for some leg kicking. It was so fun interacting with her.

I haven't taken many pictures of Anna because she's always sleeping. Hopefully that will change soon. I don't want to miss documenting her babyhood. She's already growing up too fast. Like every parent says, I wish I could bottle her up and keep her this tiny and precious forever. But at the same time, I know I will cherish the adventures in each stage as they come. Right now I am getting antsy for her to just stay awake.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"the deal of the century"

Hubs is very proud of himself today that he said to me, "You must post this on your blog! This is the deal of the century!"

This week only: Get Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 on blu-ray @ Toys R Us for $14! As a bonus, there is also a code for free movie ticket to see Toy Story 3 in theaters in each pack. Since we got both movies, we now have a date on June 18 to see the newest Toy Story.

Good bargain, I have admit.

Still, I told the hubs, "I think the deal I found last November was better." :P

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, March 22, 2010

On Breastfeeding

{chubby cheeks and small eyes, just like her Mama}

While pregnant, I did lots of reading on breastfeeding. About how difficult it may be. About how painful it may be. I never assumed that I would be completely successful at it, but there was no doubt that I would try.

As soon as the nurses cleaned up Anna and placed her on my chest, they immediately showed me how to let the baby latch on. Baby A took my breast like a champ and started sucking. I was doing it!

I was told to let baby latch on every 2-3 hours for 10-15 minutes per breast. Although I knew all about the correct way to latch on, executing it was another story. Incorrect latch on meant sore, cracked, bleeding nipples and that was exactly what happened. Days 0-2 were just awful. I dreaded every time when feeding time rolled around. It was hard and painful, but I dealt with it.

On the morning of Day 3, I found that my milk came in and busted out my little basic manual pump to give it a try. I realized that I have a decent amount of milk supply - enough to express 60ml - every 2-3 hours to feed Anna. It provided such relief. I was able to give my little girl breast milk without being in constant pain. From that day on, I have been pumping and, eventually, my sore/cracked/bleeding nipples healed.

So far so good. My milk supply is gradually increasing with the constant pumping and hubs can help with feeding as well. Although it's double the work, for the sake of my sanity, it's worth it.

Now that I have completely healed, I am thinking about letting the baby latch on again just to see and to keep the supply going. But when I think what may happen, I put it off again and again.

So although I am not breastfeeding Anna by her latching on, I am using the second best alternative...and all is going well.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baby Anna: Week One

Today Anna is one week old!

It's crazy to think she's already been here for a full week. Then again, not...We've been awake for most of it! It's been one amazing week of snuggling, staring, and just getting to know this little girl. Our camera can hardly keep up.

Thank goodness for the meals prepared by family, we haven't had to worry about what to eat. In fact, our fridge has never been fuller. Also with their help, I have been squeezing in naps in the afternoon and blogging/browsing sessions at night. Life is tiring, but it definitely could be a lot worse.

Naturally, with a newborn, this week was also filled with unnecessary excitements. Little A's umbilical cord fell off (er...maybe I knocked it?) on Day 3 - way too early - and that caused a bit of meltdown on my part. One explosive diaper resulted hubs giving her a bath in the middle of the night. Our little girl also has her day and night reversed - she sleeps all day and parties at night. We are making small progress in changing that behavior. It's working. Last night she slept for five hours straight. FIVE. Hubs and I had the best slumber since we got home.

All in all, we are adjusting well and just cherishing every single moment of our life of five.

More updates this upcoming week!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Making Baby A: The Labor & Delivery Story

Thinking that Baby A was going to be late, Saturday, March 13, started out like it was any other day. We had cereal for breakfast and after putting laundry in the washer, we settled down for a movie - Horton Hears a Who! - to pass time. My 39w3d pregnant belly was getting increasingly uncomfortable and sitting still for a movie was no small feat, even if it was less than 90 minutes.

During the movie, I heard a "popping" sound....and asked hubs if he heard it too. With Pesto next to him, he said, "I think that was Pesto." I shrugged it off and continued on with the movie. (Note: I still don't know if that was my water breaking or if it was just a sound I imagined.)

Our plan for the remaining of the day was to 1) walk around the mall to help getting the labor started, 2) meet with our realtor at 2:15pm to look at houses, and 3) dinner with hubs' family at 5pm. It was going to be a busy day...neither one of us thought that we would be going to the hospital.

Around 3pm while visiting house #2, I could feel myself leaking...(sorry, too much information). I didn't tell the hubs until we were coming home because near the end of the pregnancy, you never know whether you just had an "accident" or something else. His reaction: Oh, it's probably nothing.

When we got home at 3:45pm, with a little research on the computer, I was 90% sure that I was leaking amniotic fluid. I called the OB at 4pm, described to her the situation, and she said to go ahead and go to the hospital! We finished packing the hospital bags, gathered the puppies' things, and headed to hubs' parents' house to drop off the puppies and then to the hospital.

We checked in at 5:25pm at the emergency room front desk (since it was after hours on a weekend) and by 6pm, we settled into our Labor & Delivery room. I wasn't in too much pain yet, just uncomfortable menstrual cramps. The room was spacious with all the movies we could watch - although we were too distracted to do so. I picked up the menu for things to order only to be told that I could only have ice chips!

At 6:15pm, my doctor checked my cervix and I was only 2cm dilated.

While the hubs' parents knew I was in labor, my parents had no idea. So at 6:40pm, I called my parents and brothers to let them know the news. Everyone wished me luck.

At 7:45pm, in an effort to get my contractions stronger and more regular, the doctor ordered Pitocin. Shortly after, the contractions did get stronger and more regular. I was in pain and trying my best to breath through them. Alas, hubs and I skipped all the baby classes and I had no idea what I was doing.

By 8:45pm, I was 3cm dilated and requested an epidural. Best. decision. I. made.

At 9:15pm, the anesthesiologist arrived. His magic drug provided instant relief and from this point on until I delivered, I can honestly say that my L&D experience was nothing but lovely. However, my blood pressure and baby's heartbeat did drop and caused a bit of an alarm. After some turning from one side to another again and again, it went back to normal.

At 10:40pm, I was 4cm dilated. At 12 midnight, I was 8cm. By 3am, I was fully dilated to 10cm. Never in my life would I think that I would be taking naps during L&D, but I did and it was just wonderful. Although I was fully dilated, the doctor decided to wait another hour or so before we start pushing. This way, the baby could labor down some more.

At 5:30am, the baby was at +3 station and it was time to push! A couple of practice pushes confirmed that Baby A was very close in being born that the doctor and nurse called the baby team for help. By 5:40am, the baby team got everything all set up and, with hubs holding up one of my legs, I PUSHED. Apparently I was a very effective pusher despite me telling the doctor and nurse that I don't even feel myself pushing.

A series of pushes later, Baby A was born at 5:57am, weighing in at a whopping 8 lb 2.3 oz and 20" long. No one expected a baby this big! Hubs cut the cord and Baby A was immediately placed on my chest. After 9 months, I finally met my Anna Banana!

We spent an hour or so in the L&D room, recovering and bonding.

One of the first family pictures...although Anna is partially blocked.

A few notes:

- I didn't have a birth plan. I read all about L&D and knew about the different scenarios. My plan was to be flexible.
- I didn't expect the doctor to ask hubs to hold one of my legs. I thought he would be up by my head, but instead, he saw everything. During the pregnancy, he said he did not want to see the head crown.
- I didn't expect to push for only 25 minutes. All in all, roughly 12 hours after we checked into the hospital, I delivered a baby. I did not labor at home.

Coming up next: Our (WONDERFUL!) hospital stay

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MamAnna

by Guest
MamAnna is now a new word in the Chong house lexicon - Mama + Anna. I'm glad to report that Joyce had absolutely no troubles popping out this little whopper of a baby. Anna is 8 lbs 2.3 oz (3.7 kg) and 20" long. She joined us early this morning at 5:57 and has checked out all healthy by all the various doctors and their needles. She had visits from both her grandparents and aunt, but pretty much slept through it all. She actually really likes to sleep and stays pretty quiet, except when it comes to baths.

MamAnna are both due to be released on Tuesday morning. Can't wait to get the family home so she can meet her fuzzy brothers. Till then, here are some pics. Oh, one more thing, the staff here at INOVA Fair Oaks simply kick ass!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

She's Comin Round the Mountain...

by Guest
So the due date was supposed to be 3/17 and our last trip to the doctor sounded as if we would pass over that date without anything eventful. She suggested we walk more to help get the labor process started. Well, with that, we headed to the mall this rainy Saturday morning to stroll around a bit. Low and behold, we are now sitting in the hospital. Both mom and baby are doing great. Wish us luck and more updates to follow.

Yes, Mama is not in too much pain, yet. She's enjoying the facilities here very much so.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bing: Getting Paid to Shop

Two months ago, I gave Bing Cashback (BCB) a try and never looked back.

Work like other cashback programs such as FatWallet, BCB gives you a percentage of purchase price back if you shop through Bing. Some as much as 20%! Since January, I've made several substantial baby purchases online and they are adding up fast.

Bing has a 60-day window between the order being placed and the cashback dollars being available to the user, but it's worth the wait. Back in January when I made the purchases, I thought to myself that it would be forever before the money is available to me...but here we are in March and the cashback from the first purchase I made became active as of yesterday. And soon the rest will follow...

As for the money, I have the option of getting a check mailed to me, direct deposited to my bank account, or a money transfer to my Amazon account. I think I may go for the 3rd option.

Hubs has been using FatWallet for a long time and he likes it. However, I like BCB because I already have an account with Microsoft (long time hotmail user) and I think the percentage cashback is a bit higher than what FatWallet offers. The only thing to be careful about BCB is that it may be tricky to use because you search for keywords to get the max percentage. I am no expert so I refer to this link a lot.

Do you use any cashback programs?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

closet organization made simple?

I don't think our closet is horribly messy (I make it a habit to purge at least once a year), but it could use some organization. The other day, I was flipping through the Bed Bath & Beyond ad that came in the mail and this new line of Real Simple organization tools caught my eyes. Or maybe it was the orange + blue combo? Either way, I really like it. With the $5 off coupon and a gift card that has been sitting in my purse for 2+ years, I think I may get this sweater organizer. While the concept is nothing new, I like it that the it coverts from lengthwise to side-by-side hanging so you don't have to bend down to reach the bottom shelves.

Another project added to the Maternity Leave Must-Do List.

Do you have a super organized closet? How do you keep it that way? Are you doing any spring cleaning/organizing?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Making Baby A, Week 38: 2 week countdown...(well, actually 8 days)

Guys and gals, it's really been 9 whole months and Baby A is ready to pop! We are coming close to the end and a whole new journey is about to begin. I am feeling: anxious yet patient, wonderful yet whale-ish, and ready yet not.

I am ready to remember how it feels to be un-pregnant. To be able to leap off the couch, sleep in whatever position I please, un-gain 30 lbs, and (hopefully) fit into my old shorts just in time for spring. If I am up for it, I might want to do another little belly photoshoot this weekend to remember this special time.

Also starting to wrap things up at work. Sitting in a meeting today, I realized I soon won't have to deal with deadlines, but instead I will be following a feed/sleep/poop schedule. My life is about to take a 180-degree turn! I will miss the coworkers - they have all been so good to me, filling my head with praises and more. Lucky 3/19 is my last day at work, that is, if Baby A doesn't come before then.

As for labor and delivery, I am actually feeling calm about the whole thing, considering hubs and I passed on all the baby classes. It is natural, my body will know what to do to get the baby out, and worrying will only make my job harder. All women before me have done it, some even without medication. As long as I remain flexible, I am going to be just fine, right? I am not even afraid of my water breaking in public, believe it or not. Whatever will be will be. All I can do right now to prepare is relax and save energy, which is definitely something I have been doing without complaints!

On the other hand, I just have feeling that Baby A is going to be stubborn and wait at least another week or two before making her debut...but I promise to keep you all updated!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, March 8, 2010

DIY: Card Sleeves

I have accumulated a stack of gift cards and the thought of losing them was giving me panic attacks. So as a solution to keep myself sane, I made these little card sleeves. They are exactly what you can buy here.



Since I had no luck in finding a pre-made template online, I had to create my own in Word. It was easy. I drew a 4.75" by 3.625" box, just a wee bigger than the standard size you can buy because I wanted to be able to fit two gift cards in one sleeve. I then drew a dotted line right down the middle, where I would score+fold. Next, I placed two rectangular boxes outside of the big box - for gluing. Finally, since I was short on time, I simply put a large dot in the middle as the "design" and called it a day.



Once the template is done and printed on cardstock, the rest is even easier. I don't think it requires explanation. You can even cut the template and trace it on a pretty scrapbook paper for a different look.

href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_sXTnsyRr3JY/S5WVcERskxI/AAAAAAAAF5w/0tbS8e_k2NM/s1600-h/IMG_4887.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">

Now that all my gift cards all have a home, I can breath a sigh of relief. And it was a fun, quick project to boot!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

baby goodies

The other day I went to the mall after work.  I had a coupon I wanted to use and I figured that walking might help me inch toward labor.

The mall was quiet at 3:30pm and I saw tons of moms pushing strollers.  I made a mental note to do the same when Baby A comes.

Eventually I found myself inside Gymboree, a very cute children's clothing store. I wanted to buy everything! All the little dresses and jumpers and bubble tops! So cute!  Of course I resisted.  I know it will be a while before I put Baby A in outfits.  For the first few months, she will live in onesies and sleepers.

I did dig deep through the clearance section and found a couple of things for Baby A.  Four pairs of socks, a sun hat, and a newborn cap.  All for $4. 


As I paid for my purchase, the lady behind the register started a conversation with me:

Lady: {glancing at my belly} Oh, when are you due?  {looking at the stuff I placed on the counter} I see you are having a girl. Get ready to shop all the time.  
Me: Yup, a girl.  My due date is in...um...less than 2 weeks.
Lady: Wow, you don't look it....you look good!
Me: Thanks...but I am just hiding behind this big coat.
Lady: Oh no, you look very good!
Me: {big goofy grin on my face} Thanks!

Well, I don't know if Gymboree trains their employees to flatter their customers, but I enjoyed my first shopping experience there and I will definitely be back for more of their tiny clothes!  And next time, I may or may not just stop at the clearance section. :)

I ♥ their Little Goldfish collection!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 5, 2010

just some random rambling

by Pargo
Tap, tap. Is this thing on?

It's me, Pargo.

I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but now that spring is just around the corner, I am finally crawling out from my warm bed to say hello. Hello! Wheeeew...(stretching front legs)...that feels good!

So lets talk about this winter. Hasn't it just been insane with all the snow storms?! I don't know about you, but Pesto and I are sick of the white stuff and we are ready to hop around on green grass and smell pretty flowers again. After all, we are two small puppies and 2+ feet of snow was just a bit too much. Thank goodness Daddy always shoveled a path for us whenever we needed to go outside, but my poor puppy paws still took a beating. All that sand and salt, yuck.

The only good thing about the whole mess was that Mommy got to work from home one entire week in February. It was so nice to have the family together 24/7.

But now that snowy days are (hopefully) behind us and since Daddy switched jobs two weeks ago, Pesto and I have been home alone more often. I mostly just do some spying on the neighbors from my window box and catching a few Zzzzz's to pass the time.

Speaking of sleep, I haven't been sleeping well lately. I don't know why, but Mommy is huge now and she's taking up lots of room on the bed. Us 3 men are squished to one tiny corner. In addition, our entire place is filled up with weird stuff, but regardless, my brother and I still have room to run and chase so we are still two happy campers.

Oh and one last thing, I hear the 'rents talking about Baby A a lot. Not sure what is a Baby A...maybe they are getting another puppy?! Yes, it all starting to make sense, my 4th Adopt-versary is coming up later this month, I bet they are planning a surprise for me.

Have a hip-hoppity March, friends! I promise to be a better blogger this spring!

xoxo, P

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the start of a little library...

When the time comes, I will surely introduce the wonderful world of libraries to Baby A, but I thought it would be nice to have a tiny library of her own as well. So we have been slowly collecting books as we see good deals.

I can't wait to read these books to her!

What's your favorite book from childhood? I remember adoring all Amelia Bedelia books.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chinese-Style Fried Pork Chops

Large family-size assorted pork loin chops is on-sale at my local super market this week so I picked up a pack the other day. Instead of cooking it my usual way - Deep Fried Pork Cutlets - Tonkatsu - I decided to look for new recipes.

I combined two recipes I found online (Christine Recipe's Pan-fried Pork Chops with Spicy Salt and Recipezaar's Chinese Style Fried Pork Chops) and came up with my own version.

Overall, I thought the dish was just so-so (although hubs enjoyed it a lot more than me). I do know what I need to do to improve next time, though - tenderize the meat more and use center-cut pork loins. The nice five-spice spicy flavor was there, but it was a bit dry and hard to eat with all the bones. My favorite part of the dish was the sauteed spring onion and chili. It made the dish not only more tasty, but aesthetically appealing! Will definitely try again.

Chinese-Style Fried Pork Chops:

- 4 pork chops or pork tenderloins
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 dash pepper or five-spice powder
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp cornstarch
- oil (for frying)
- 1 red chili, chopped
- 1 spring onion, chopped

1. Tenderize pork with a meat mallet.
2. Mix together all ingredients except cornstarch, oil, red chili, and spring onion
in a large bowl. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
3. Just before frying, coat the pork with cornstarch.
4. Heat enough oil in a large skillet to cover bottom. Place pork chops in pan when oil begins to shimmer. Cook pork chops over med-high heat until cooked through.
5. Push pork chops to the edges of skillet. Add spring onion and chili. Saute until aromatic.
6. Dish out and garnish with the spring onions and chili mixture.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!