Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Drive-By Update - Week Ten

A Drive-by Update - Week One, Week Six, and Week Eight.

Will's napping habits have gone from mediocre to bad since my last update. He takes spurts of 30-minute power naps throughout the day. He's tired enough to fall asleep in our arms, but almost as soon as we put him down in the bassinet or the crib, he wakes up. It is a never ending cycle and we are all exhausted!

For 3 days straight, he was really good at sleeping at night. We put him down around 8p and he didn't wake up until 5a the next day for feeding! Nice, right? But lately, he's back to waking up twice a night (around midnight and then again around 3a or 4a).

Grandma and I both agree that Anna was a better sleeper. At 2.5 months old, Anna already had a schedule. She napped regularly and woke up just once a night. I guess we didn't luck out with the second one!

Oh well. I complain, but at the end of the day, I still love my Willy Wonka. I just love holding him...when he's not fussing hysterically, of course.
Another round of tummy time
It's so hard to tend to two kids at once, especially when both rely on you to do stuff for them. Although Anna is 22.5 months old, self-feeding is still something we are working on. It's not so much that she doesn't know how to use utensils, but it's more that we can't leave her alone and trust that she will eat on her own. One of us has to watch her like a hawk, making sure that she eats while constantly reminding her to take small bites, chew, and swallow. If Will is awake and in a happy mood, it's fine. But when Will is going crazy, I want to pull my hair out.

I am on maternity leave until May 1st. My goals for Anna before I return to work: have her self-feed without us monitoring and potty trained. Am I being over-ambitious?

Not much to say about me, except that I see myself being impatient with Anna because I am frustrated with Will's fussiness. I need to stop that.

Hubs turned a year older yesterday. I made Zuppa Toscana and we ate it while listening to Wheels on the Bus on repeat.
Cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
(happy new year! congratulations and be prosperous!)

Tonight we all made it to hubby's parents' place for family reunion dinner to welcome the New Year. Even though I was on Will-duty all night long, I still managed to stuff myself with noodles, shrimps, and pork. Yum.

I just love Anna's Chinese outfit. So stinkin' cute. She really got into the spirit. We had been reading about the Chinese New Year in her storybook so when Grandma gave out the red envelopes, she immediately said "hong bao!" But what she didn't know was that there was money inside so she never open them. Hehe. Hmmm...does that mean Mama gets to keep the money? :)

It was a good night, but we were all so tired by the time we got home. I am the only one in the family who's still up, but I just wanted to share these pictures with you! Can't wait to show the last one to Will when he's older.
Lunar New Year Eve 2012
Lunar New Year Eve 2012
Lunar New Year Eve 2012
There are many more pictures here. I especially like this one!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Anna - 22 Months

Anna is two months away from turning two years old.
22 Months
Life with Will
Anna threw tantrums for a while after Will was born, but now she's totally used to him being a part of the family. She loves her baby brother and comes running whenever he cries. While I am on maternity leave, life really is no different for Anna - in fact, it may actually be better! She has been getting out of the house more than ever and is loving it. We snuggle up in bed (in the middle of the day!) and read books.

Yes, life is good for this little girl.

Anna continues to add new words to her vocabulary and learning phrases. She can speak in up to 5 word sentences, such as: Mama clip nails, Grape juice all done, Baba says no touch, Baby Will cry a lot.

She still can't 100% effectively communicate what she needs, but I think we will get there soon. She will, however, tell us exactly what she wants to watch, which coat she wants to wear, and what she doesn't want to eat.

It's hard to learn a different language in an English-speaking environment, but she knows a lot in Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese). However, although she can understand, she only responds in English.

I still think Anna has the sweetest personality and a well-behaved girl. She asks for permission before doing something - like if she can sit at the kiddie table at the library or get a diaper so she can put on her bear. When she's around other kids, she asks to share if she wants to play with their toys and has no problems sharing the toys that she's playing with.

Generally, she listens very well and will do whatever we ask of her. She wears a smile on her face and just happy all around. I hope her sweet personality sticks around!

This month, Anna stopped drinking milk. She woke up one day and quit cold turkey. The only way we can get a little bit of milk in her is through cereal. She used to drink about 16 oz a day so I am still struggling with what I can feed her to make up for those lost calories and calcium. For the time being, she's encouraged to eat all the ice cream and cookies as she pleases.

She is also slow eater and holds food in her mouth for a long time. It takes FOREVER for her to eat and it drives me nuts! We nag her a lot during mealtime, "Anna. Bite. Chew. Swallow. Hurry."
22 Months
Despite the hard times, life with a toddler is a lot of fun. Now I know why people say that being a parent is the best job in the world. It is.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Months Big

2 Months
Will is already 2 months old. I can hardly believe this boy is growing so fast.

My boy:
...does the best stretch. I pick him up from the bassinet and he reaches his arms up, balls his tiny hands into fists, and arches his back. Am I the only one who finds that adorable?
...loves being held to sleep. He will fight, but eventually looses the battle and falls into a peaceful slumber. people with marvel. His eyes are like magnets, glued to everyone's move. It's like he's saying, don't leave me.
...coos so much it's a tiny giggle. And smiles readily.
...has a gazillion facial expressions that makes me wish I am forever armed with a camera so I can capture every bit of it.
2-months checkup
2-months stats: 14 lbs 2 oz, 23 inches

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Warning: this is a "my kids are so cute!" post.

My kids are so cute! Look at that gorilla pose. The innocent look. The twinkling eyes. The mouth-wide-open smile.
The end. :)

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Friday, January 13, 2012

A Drive-By Update - Week Eight

A Drive-By Update - Week One and Week Six

Will is 8 weeks old. Now that he's transitioning out of the sleepy newborn stage, his sleep has gotten a little rough around the edges. Sometimes all Grandma does all day (from 7a - 3p) is getting him to stay asleep. He doesn't nap well in the bassinet so she puts him in the bouncer and whenever he starts to stir, she rocks him a few times to keep him asleep. That seems to be working well.

However, after she leaves, I don't have time to sit by the bouncer and rock him so it can be hectic during the late afternoon hours (3p - 5p), when I try to cook and feed Anna, as well as try to sooth Will. Sometimes, though, the unthinkable happens and he naps until 5p, after we are all done with dinner. Then I wake him up and we all have family time together.

Night time sleep is getting better. He falls asleep between 7p - 8p, wakes up around 11:30p for feeding, then 3a - 4a, and then 6a - 7a. At least, this has been the pattern for the last few days, which isn't bad. But sometimes he doesn't fall right back to sleep after a feeding and it takes me 45 minutes before I can put him back in the bassinet.

Will can be really fussy. And we can try everything to calm him, but he will just cry and kick. I can't bear putting him down and just letting him cry it out because he's still so young. So I have been relying on the pacifier. We gave Anna pacifiers when she was a baby, but she eventually grew out of it so we never had to wean her. I hope Will will do the same.

He's still growing like a champ. Just look at this photo.
When I was working full-time, I didn't get a chance to read to Anna much and she wasn't that into books. Everything changed when I started taking her to story-time at the library and checking out heaps of books. Now she's all about book. So much that she will voluntarily turn off TV and bring me books. She wants to read books when she wakes up, before bed, during meals. All the time. Her love for books is so great that I use it as a weapon. Two more bites and Mama will read one more page. Haha.
i love to read
I am 8 weeks into my 24 weeks of maternity leave. It will be May soon enough and I will have to go back to work. I am not dreading it - I can never be a SAHM. But I do need to start thinking more seriously about what I am going to do about Anna after I go back to work. I would love to put her in a half-day preschool this fall, 2 or 3 days a week.

On another note, I am 8 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. All that pumping and nursing is helping me shedding the pounds. I snack like crazy, too. Ice cream. Fudge cookies. Chocolates. The way I see it, I won't get a chance to binge like this ever again. So bring them on.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie w/ Puff Pastry

With the leftovers from my Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot, I made chicken pot pie.

Now, this isn't the first time I made chicken pot pie, but it is the first time that I didn't open a can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup. I loosely followed this recipe, which has more than 600 reviews and a perfect 5 stars.

I didn't have some of the ingredients it called for - potato, celery, and half-and-half. So I used elbow macaroni (Anna's new favorite type of pasta), peas, and whole milk. With casserole-type dishes, it is always okay to substitute with whatever you have on hand, I think. Also, instead of 2 cups of broth per recipe, I used 3 cups. At first I used only 2 cups, but I found it a bit dry while cooking so I just added more. Whatever works!

The best part of the pot pie for me was that rather than using the traditional pie crust, I used puff pastry. Mmmm....I love puff pastry. So light and flaky and buttery. Full of fat, perfect for Anna.

So here is how I made the pot pie:

In the morning before I took Anna out to story-time, I prepped the ingredients. I had already made chicken stock and chicken was already shredded from the previous day.

During Anna's nap, I cooked. I boiled some elbow macaroni and drained. In a separate pan, I melted butter and sauteed the vegetables (onions, peas, carrots, and corn) for 10 minutes. Added flour. Added chicken broth and milk. Added salt and pepper. Added chicken and macaroni. Mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 13x9 glass baking dish. Took the puff pastry out to defrost from the freezer.

(This took only maybe 30 minutes and I was able to nap too!)

Then after Anna's nap, I put the puff pastry on top of the mixture. Baked in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the puff pastry is golden brown.

The verdict: Very good! No more Cream of Chicken Soup for me, ever. The puff pastry definitely made it better and a whole lot easier. As for Anna....the girl wasn't too interested in it when I sat her down to eat, but while she ran around playing, I was able to trick her into a few spoonful.

Will make it again. For sure.
Chicken Pot Pie w/ Puff Pastry

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

5 More Must-Haves

I posted about my 7 Must-Haves and 3 Nice-to-Haves baby gears as a first time Mama back when Anna (an early Spring baby) just turned 3 months old. We lived in a one-level condo at that time.

Every item I posted there still holds true - I still find them all important to survive the first few months/years of parenthood.

But now that I am a second time around Mama with a toddler and living in a three-level house, there are some things I have with Will (a late Fall baby) that I didn't have with Anna that I find extremely helpful.

1. Electric Pump - With Anna, I only had a manual pump and I pumped exclusively for one whole year! Looking back, I don't know how I made it and I have to give myself some credit. It was a huge commitment. While I was pregnant with Will, hubs saw a great deal on this electric pump and bought it for me. Pumping is still a pain, but with this electric pump, it is manageable and doesn't take up too much time, especially when I have Anna to chase around. Luckily, Will is a great nurser and I can nurse him too if I really don't have time to pump on a particular day.

2. Bottle Warmer - We have two of them - one in the kitchen and one in our bedroom. There is no way we are running up and down the steps in cold winter nights. It is the cheapest one on Amazon and it works fine. With Anna, we kept constant warm water in our water heater, but bottle warmer is a faster solution. Will screams bloody murder if he doesn't get his bottle soon enough.

3. Baby Monitor - I find this another must since we live in a three-level home now. Again, it is the cheapest option on Amazon - no bells and whistles - just sound detection. It works for us.

4. BundleMe - We received this as a gift from my friend and it has proven to be useful. We don't have to worry about Will getting cold whenever we are out and about.
Will in Bundle Me
5. Bath Sponge - For $8, this was a great buy! Will is nice and snug in the bath tub and even Anna uses it too. It is light and stores easily. Definitely wished we had this with Anna from the very beginning.

After we are all done with this baby stage, I hope to hand them down to Anna and Will's future cousins! :)

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot

I recently cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot and it was so easy that I just had to share.
Whole Chicken in Crock Pot
There are lots of recipes out there (just Google "crock pot whole chicken"), but I pretty much made up my own since I didn't have a lot of the spices they called for like thyme, paprika, or cayenne pepper.

I seasoned my 4 lbs chicken with whatever I had in the pantry (salt and garlic & pepper rub), tossed carrots and red skin potatoes into the crock pot, and placed the chicken on top of the vegetables. Cooked on high for 6.5 hours. The result? Tender, moist chicken meat. The meat literally fell apart when I used a pair of tongs to pick it up.
That night, we had drumsticks and thighs for dinner (along with bok choy and rice). Next day for lunch, I used some of the white meat and made chicken salad with seedless grapes (yum!). I still have a bunch of meat leftover.

So I guess my point here is that this chicken can be made into several meals and I love the simplicity of it all.

Oh, even though no liquid was added to crock pot, at the end of 6.5 hours. the chicken produced the most flavorful and concentrated chicken stock. Anna is teething and hasn't been eating well, so I made rice porridge and added the chicken stock to it. She ate it all up.
So, how does this chicken compare to My First Roasted Chicken? I like this one more because it's less prep work and I can just let it cook all day long while we go out and play. However, if we were having guests and presentation is important, then the old traditional in-the-oven is the way to go.

Winter is here and I am sure to be using my crock pot more often. I hope to share more of my meals as I go along.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bouncy Bounce

On the day that Anna turned 7 weeks old, we took this video and it has us laughing to this day. Also in the post, I mentioned that Anna was starting to smile and coo.

Today Will is 7 weeks old and here is a video of him doing the same bouncy thing. And similar to Anna, just in the past 2 or 3 days, he has been flashing us smiles and having "conversations" with us. So sweet!

Just thought I share!

Oh, video was taken in Anna's newly decorated big girl room. More pictures to come.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

See ya later, 2011!

The days are long, the years are short. I totally get that now. I am finding it hard to believe that 2012 is already here. The years tend to go by faster as I get older, but 2011 flew by at lightening speed.

Anna grew day-by-day and before our eyes went from a crawling baby to a a beautiful, intelligent, funny girl. We celebrated her first birthday at home, surrounded by family and friends. She took her first steps, spoke her first sentence (“bye-bye beach”) and knows her numbers and letters to the alphabet. She says please, thank you, sorry, and you are welcome. She is my pride and joy.

Spring brought the news that another baby was coming into our lives, and if that wasn't the icing on the 2011 cake, I don't know what was.

We spent the summer taking Anna everywhere, from touring Baltimore to digging our toes in the sand. Fall included the celebration of my brother's wedding, Anna's second Halloween where she was the most adorable butterfly I have ever seen, and the biggest of all - the arrival of William.

We ended the year with a cozy Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

It certainly was a good year, with more positives than negatives. I can only hope that 2012 can hold a candle to how great 2011 was. Happy New Year, everyone.
NYE 2012

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