Happy Belated Father’s Day and Breakfast Burgers

Father’s Day was this past weekend here in North America and Melissa and her other half posted a very sweet Father’s Day Gift Idea.  We celebrated by having burgers for breakfast (yummy sauce recipe below) and ice cream cake for dessert.  I wish my daddy a very Happy Father’s Day even though I wasn’t be there to celebrate with him.

fathers day ice cream Cake

Saying my daddy was always working is probably an understatement and most my memories are of my daddy were of him working, but I have many fond memories too.

When I was really young, he was never around the house because he was always working. But then as my siblings and I were a little older, I remember playing at the back of the building where daddy and mommy worked.  This was a large dirt area where my daddy taught us how to ride our bikes when he was on a break.  I also remember playing in an empty parking lot while they worked.  This was the same parking lot where I remember my daddy teaching us how to play badminton and to fly a kite.

My dad worked seven days a week for 16 hours a day but I remember that he was often smiling while he worked.  Because working, while tiring and sometimes challenging, was an opportunity to better ourselves.  So I am not afraid of hard work, I am appreciative of what I have and most importantly, I smile, even when the going is tough, all because of my daddy.

Then when I was even older, I remember helping out, and then working alongside, and eventually holding fort on my own.  Nothing could have honed my skills or boosted my confidence in my abilities or prepared me for the real world more than those experiences, all thanks to my daddy.

While most memories revolved around working, there were some other fond memories too, like of all the times he brought home a new dog or cat.  He also instilled a love of camping, road trips, open water and the general appreciation of nature.  He taught me how to fish and was there for my first catch and again, he was there when I accidentally caught one of the biggest fish of the day.

fishing

He taught me how to drive and parallel park like a champ (probably can’t do it anymore but that’s not his fault).  And he also taught the importance of good dental hygiene.

This article at the art of manliness covers 10 reasons according to science why Fathers are important.  My daddy is important to me because he took the time to teach me so much and helped make me the person who I am today.

My daughter is probably still too young to tell me how her daddy is important to her at the moment but she has some big shoes to fill.

shoes - toddler and daddy

(These daddy’s and my shoes photos were cuter when her shoes were teeny tiny but I think I’ll still keep taking them for her.  So if she ever becomes a shoe lover like me, she’ll have these pictures to help her remember her shoes from her childhood.)

shoes - toddler and daddy

Happy belated Father’s Day to my daddy, my daughter’s daddy, and to all the daddies out there!  Thank you.  You Guys Rock!

Breakfast Burger Sauce Recipe

Makes enough sauce for four burgers.  Adapted from the Food Network

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

I used a sweet chili sauce instead of the hot sauce, and omitted the chili powder so there would be less heat since my daughter and her daddy aren’t huge on spicy foods.  Enjoy!

breakfast burger

 

Cheers,

with love charlie

 

Beach Essesntials With Babies & Toddlers

Now that we have a daughter, and she is a little older, we go to the beach 3 or 4 times a year.  It’s a relatively easy trip to plan and something our whole family can enjoy.  It’s not even summer yet and we’ve already been twice this year to nearby destinations.  Before we had our daughter, I was at the lake or on a beach almost every other weekend during the summer months.  Life prior to baby was definitely more carefree and spontaneous.  Before baby, planning was simply:

Friends: “Beach this weekend?”

Me: “Sure!”

After baby, as simple as I try to keep the planning and packing, the car is still loaded up to the brim, and then there is the logistics of actually getting to the beach involved.  A 6 hour drive is no longer 6 hours as we need to stop more frequently for diaper changes and melt downs.  We try to time the bulk of the drive during nap times for our sanity but that means the actual vacation time is cut short since driving is done during the middle of the day.  After finally arriving at the beach, how long we stay is dictated by baby’s needs and many times I might not even get a chance to go in the water, tan or walk along the shore.  Please don’t get me wrong though; I’m not complaining.  These beach trips are treasured family adventures and I love seeing my daughter enjoying the gorgeous outdoors.  I’m just noting the complications going to the beach now entails for me after becoming a mother.

mother and toddler playing in sand at beach

Earlier, as a lead up to Mother’s Day, I had written about my 3 unexpected pregnancy challenges, but like Melissa, restrictions were top on my list of (expected) pregnancy challenges.  Jet skiing was definitely something I gave up after I became pregnant.  I also didn’t go boating anymore and eventually stopped going to the lake and beach because I didn’t want to wait or watch alone by the shore.  My friend, who owned the boat and jet skis, didn’t really understand my overly cautious stance as his wife was also pregnant at the same time I was and she continued to go boating with him.  If I were 10 years younger like she was, or if I hadn’t miscarried before, or if it hadn’t taken such a long time to get pregnant again after the traumatizing miscarriage, I might have continued to join them.

I don’t know how many more years it will be before I can be a spontaneous beach goer like before, but packing for the beach this year with my 3 year old was already notably less intensive than packing for the beach last year or the year prior.  Maybe with each experience we get better at determining which gears work for us but my 3 year old also has much more predictable needs and her schedule is more flexible. I also didn’t need to prepare and bring specific (baby) food, diapers, swim diapers, and more diapers.  The essentials that haven’t changed for our family beach trips, in no particular order, are:

Sun Protection

Some or all of these: Sunglasses, hat, sunblock, umbrella, and tent or shelter with SPF.  The tent also comes in handy for keeping baby off sand and for naps, and privacy if you’re big on that like I am (e.g. for diaper changes, nursing, etc.).  A rash-guard with SPF, especially ones with sleeves, will also provide more sun protection coverage than a swim suit and serve double duty in keeping baby or young child warm if the surf is cold.

Sunday Afternoon Toddler's Play Hat

 

Baby Powder (talc-free)

This makes removing sand a breeze. BREEZE!  Just apply liberally to body and the sand brushes right off with the powder.

 

Toys

This can be as simple as a disposable cup or spoon for the sand and water.  My daughter’s favorite is still just a shovel and a bucket.  Bubbles and a kite are also fun toys at the beach.  Other toy ideas we tried include water gun, floats, and sand molds.

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We haven’t tried a metal detector but that was a great suggestion from Stephanie. She also suggested the great idea of burying treasure, such as beautiful seashells, for kids to discover or dig out and it was a super huge hit with my daughter.

seashells by the seashore

A young baby also needs toys, albeit maybe not sand toys, but toys to distract baby from trying to eat sand.

 

Towels/ Change of Clothes

For drying off (and for laying or sitting on if not bringing blankets or beach chairs).

Dry clothes with plastic bag(s) for wet or sandy clothes or suits.

 

Hand and Face Wipes

You could just use a towel, but I felt the moist wipes were better and most conveniently, not sandy, when attempting to clean food from faces, wiping runny noses, moping up sweat, or cleaning weird stuff found on the little fingers etc.

 

Hydration

Beverage bottles with built in lids like funtainers (I swear I never knew these existed before my daughter needed one and now I see that almost all kids have one?) are so much easier to use on the beach than trying to open a bottle cap with sandy hands, and keeping tabs on the cap.

 

Food/ Snacks

For me, I found it’s almost always handy to have some (healthy) snacks on hand when with young kids.  They can expend a lot of energy in a short period of time and a snack can be just that, but it can also be the magic that prevents an impending melt down from over exhaustion.  Some snacks like fruits will also provide hydration.

How much food to bring really depends on how long you’re staying on the beach and when you’re going.  I used to see families with young kids spend the whole day on the beach eating not one but two meals in the sand, and I envy them.  With my daughter, we have stayed for a maximum of 3 hours, because she would either want to, or I would see that she needs to leave.  We have been having lunch on the beach because my daughter loves picnics but since we stay for just a few hours, we can easily just go after lunch and not have to bring any food to the beach.

 

Safety/ First Aid

It doesn’t have to be fancy and can be just a plastic bag with saline solution, in case sand or sunblock gets in eyes, and a few bandages and antiseptic ointment, in case of cuts (e.g. sharp rocks or shells vs. little tender baby feet).

This year we took a life jacket with us because my daughter loves the water and despite swim lessons, can’t swim.  I can’t swim to save my life either after 5+ years of lessons so I thought a life jacket when playing in deeper water would be the safer bet.

Life jacket or swim floaties is where I see the most variation on the beach. Most families have some sort of toys, or food, or sun protection with them, but as far as life jackets or floaties, it’s all over the map.  Some families are on one extreme of helicopter parenting, like ours, where the kid is within arms reach and attached to some sort of flotation device, while some families are on the other extreme of ‘no-rescue’/ free-range/ platform parenting, and kids barely able to walk yet are playing happily along the shoreline with the parents looking up from tanning only when the kid returns, with all kind of variations along the two ends of the spectrum.

Toddler in life jacket on boogie board at beach

Depending on where along the paranoid parent spectrum you fall, safety/ first aid might not be beach essentials on your list.  On our last day at the beach, the family next to us had 4 beautiful boys ranging from a non-crawling infant to maybe 5 or 6 years old.  They had a large cooler of snacks and beverages and lots of toys.  But then the 2nd eldest boy came back to their tent crying because he got sand in his eye.  And he got spanked for crying and refusing to go back out to play because he said his eye hurt too much so I’m sure they thought our kid looked absolutely ridiculous in a life jacket.

 

Waterproof Bags/ Pouches

You can probably leave most your valuables at home/ hotel but something for your keys and phone can be useful.  I really wanted needed a phone protector because face it, don’t you want to try to get pictures of your cute kid on the beach too?  Water proof pouches also double as sand proofing gear too.

waterproof phone protector (1)

 

Most things are standard for a beach trip with or without kids; just with babies and young kids, I need to be extra diligent about sun protection and hydration.  I never use all I bring but I just find it less stressful being prepared for contingencies.  Having some extra clothes and extra towels in the car came in handy several times.  So what are your beach essentials when going with a baby or young kids?

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Cheers,

with love charlie

 

 

 

 

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Pregnancy challenges and cravings

Have you read Charlie’s post about her three pregnancy challenges?  I, too, got leg cramps, but not to the extent that she did.  Ouch!  These were my pregnancy challenges and cravings…

I had a relatively painless pregnancy, well until the end anyway, but that’s another post to come…. This easy pregnancy was surprising to me because I am a high stressed/easily stressed person.  Given my personality, I thought I would have a tough pregnancy, but I didn’t even have high blood pressure the entire time.

Being pregnant wasn’t like what I’d seen in the movies.  I didn’t have bad morning sickness (except for one minor episode).  I had some nausea in the early months, which was easily cured by snacking, which in turn helped the constant hunger I felt.   You don’t know how many times I went to bed, after I had brushed by teeth, feeling like I wanted something to eat.  Most of the time I resisted and just went to sleep hungry.  A couple of times, I asked my husband to get me a snack and I ate in bed – a no no in my books on a regular day, but being pregnant I thought I would give myself a break.  😉

Cravings

I didn’t have majorly weird cravings.  No desire for pickles on ice cream for this lady.  No siree!  I did have an affinity for spicy foods, and seemingly an increased tolerance for it because whether it was curry or kimchi, it wasn’t spicy enough.  Whatever I ate just didn’t seem as flavourful as it used to be.  Maybe the extra spicy foods I ate is why my daughter turned out so sassy – total opposite of me!

My husband claims that I once had a craving for jalapeno cheddar bagels from this particular coffee shop chain one morning and sent him all over the city to get it for me.  Truth be told, I merely suggested it for breakfast.  Turns out, the closest shop to us was closed due to renovations after a fire and he had to go across town to the next closest one.  Took him an hour to come back with breakfast.  It was very sweet of him, but I would’ve lived if we had something else for breakfast.  🙂

My major pregnancy woes were the constant tiredness and restrictions.  Let me explain.

Constant fatigue

I felt like I had a cold the whole time I was pregnant, and I did for a good four months.  I was tired, ALL THE TIME.  I went from sleeping at around midnight to being in bed by 9:30pm.  Just like that, I turned into an old lady (no offense to those of you who sleep early).  Though I was tired and fell asleep easily, I often woke up in the middle of the night, sometimes due to leg cramps and sometimes to use the washroom.  Other times, I would wake at 3 or 4 am and have trouble falling back to sleep.  During those times, I took the opportunity to update my Facebook status or message friends on the east coast, who were already up and getting ready for work.  Good use of time wouldn’t you agree?   Later on in my pregnancy, it become even harder for me to sleep because of my big belly, which made me wish I had invested in a pregnancy pillow.  Do those things help?

Restrictions

Two of my biggest weakness are coffee and….baked goods of course.  They go hand in hand, right?  I thought I would have a tough time cutting back on the caffeine, since I usually drink more coffee than water, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Maybe the early bedtime helped.  Even though I knew I was allowed 2 cups a day, I usually only drank about half a cup.  I have since more than made up for all the coffee I could’ve had but didn’t. 😉

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Being in a higher risk group for developing gestational diabetes, my health care providers advised that I cut back the on the sugar intake.  I had to cut the sugar out of my coffee, which wasn’t difficult since I wasn’t drinking much anyway.  But cutting out baked good was extremely difficult.  I used to bake a lot.  And although I usually say I bake for my husband, I probably end up consuming more of it then he does.  I have a major sweet tooth.  I even had to cut back on some fruits because of the high sugar content. 🙁

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I also had trouble trying to eat healthy and getting enough of the right fats, nutrients, vitamins, yada, yada, yada…. It was hard enough for me to keep track of when to take my prenatal vitamins and iron and calcium supplements, let alone making sure I ate enough of the right foods.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  I mean, what did people do in the olden days when there weren’t prenatal vitamins, etc, and they had to worry about more important things like not being eaten by a dinosaur?  But I digress.

What were your pregnancy challenges?  Did you have any strange cravings?

 

 

My 3 Unexpected Pregnancy Challenges

Mother’s Day is less than a month away and so we wanted to share some of the milestones and challenges on our journey to motherhood.  Overall my pregnancy was easy and everything had gone smoothly but, I faced 3 challenges that I want to share:  leg cramps, anemia, and limited access to care during the Christmas holiday season.

LEG CRAMPS/ CHARLEY HORSE

Overall I had an easy pregnancy- no morning sickness, no excessive mood changes (I think), no real back pain, and only slight swelling despite 60+ lbs weight gain at the highest (I actually lost some weight in the third trimester). But. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.  Were the leg cramps horrible! I didn’t know leg cramps were common in pregnancies (they are, particularly in the 2nd trimester) so I hadn’t expected them which made the first episode worse than it was because it scared me as much as it hurt.  I was worried the cramping was a sign that something terrible was happening and I was going to lose my baby (again).  

They were so frequent too.  Almost every morning when I woke, I was greeted by an excruciating one. Anytime I tried to stretch, hello leg cramp.  In a meeting at work? Cramp.  Whenever I got to a good part of a movie? Yikes. Trying to eat lunch or dinner? Cramp and cramp.  Sleep? Nah, it’s cramp time.  I cramped so often that my legs were constantly tired and hurt like I had a really good workout.

They were so frequent that I couldn’t risk driving to work (or anywhere).  When it was a severe cramp, which it often was in the 2nd trimester, the muscles in my leg (never both at the exact same time) would knot/ lump up and be rock hard and I would almost be immobile until the cramping stopped so I was worried that I would get into an accident if my leg cramped while I was driving.

5 THINGS I TRIED TO HELP PREVENT LEG CRAMPS

  • Staying well hydrated
  • Eating a calcium, potassium and magnesium rich diet (e.g. spinach, banana, yogurt, lentils, nuts & seeds, avocados etc.)
  • Wearing compression stocking or socks (support hose)
  • Stretching (shin and calf muscles in particular) and exercising
  • Resting and taking breaks often (even from sitting or walking or standing)

I had originally dreaded wearing compression socks, also good for reducing swelling, because I had ignorantly thought they would look ugly, but there are compression socks that look just like regular socks.  There were a large selection of compression socks with fun prints too!

5 THINGS I TRIED TO STOP/ RELIEVE LEG CRAMPS

  • Running water down leg in the sink or shower
  • Standing/ walking barefoot on a cold surface
  • Straightening leg and flex toes  
  • Applying heat (heat pad)
  • Massaging


Running water down my leg helped me the most while straightening my leg and stretching during a cramp sometimes helped but sometimes made it cramp worse for me.

 

ANEMIA/ B12 DEFICIENCY

Just went my legs stopped cramping as frequently, either due to my efforts above, or just because I was now in my 3rd trimester, my memory and concentration started to get notably terrible.  I had thought maybe pregnancy brain isn’t just a myth.  Turned out I was anemic, despite watching my nutrition closely on a daily basis.  Ensuring I got enough of everything was partly why I had such a big +60 weight gain.

My obgyn sent me to a hematologist who recommended iron supplements and B12 injections.  Luckily my legs were no longer cramping frequently because I had to drive to the hematologist often during my last trimester.  After the initial 3x a week B12 loading doses, I still had to return weekly for the B12 injections.

I still got blood work every six months after giving birth because I had decided to nurse my daughter.  When I stopped nursing, I also stopped monitoring my blood and last month, when I got a routine check up, I found out I was anemic again and made me worry about my daughter (since we have a similar diet) and I saw that it may affect IQ in children so I switched her multivitamin to one that includes iron too.

HELLO?  IS EVERYONE SERIOUSLY ON VACATION?

I was supposed to get weekly B12 injections but the month before my due date, I was unable to find anyone to administer it.  The hematologist I was seeing had gone on vacation and I couldn’t get any appointments with the doctors covering her.  Getting care only got worse from that point.

My baby’s due date was right around Christmas, and at the beginning of December, at the 37 week visit, the obgyn said she was concerned that my baby will have a low birth weight (~6lbs) and referred me to a mfm specialist.  But after arriving at the mfm’s office, the receptionist insisted I had no referral.  I persisted so an assistant briefly talked to me- to advise me that the mfm can’t see me, but she had describe my situation to the mfm, and both she and the mfm felt that due to my size (only 5’3”) a ~6lb baby would be normal, not low or concerning, especially since fetal weight estimation by ultrasound had a 15% margin of error in 85-90% of cases.  They do not believe I require mfm care and won’t set up any appointments for me.

I didn’t tell her that I had overheard her conversation with the mfm.  I also didn’t tell her that she neglected to relay the part where the mfm’s opinion was that my obgyn was just trying to dump my care on her since it was the holidays.

When I went back to my obgyn, I suspect the mfm’s opinion was correct as my 3 remaining weekly obgyn appointments, made a few months in advance, were all cancelled without my knowledge.  It was impossible to reschedule as no more appointments were available.  As a result, I had no prenatal care or checkups for the last three weeks until I delivered.

These 3 challenges aside though, I was very lucky and had a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy.  What challenges, if any, did you face in your pregnancy?

 

 

NOTE:  Please note that there are some affiliate links in this post; these were just products I had success using and wanted to review and share.  This post and blog are for information purpose only.  I am not giving any kind of education or medical advice (I don’t know what’s what).  Please consult your health care provider (pediatrician, physician, obgyn, mfm, hematologist, etc.) for diagnosis, treatment and medical advice.

 

Links/ resources for Pregnancy Leg Cramps/ Charley Horses:

 

 

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Pregnancy Announcement – Happy Thanksgiving! We’re Adopting Another Dog.

With Mother’s Day coming up, we thought it would be fun to share a few things about our journeys to becoming moms.  So here goes….this is how we made our pregnancy announcement….

My husband and I were lucky in that it was not really difficult for us to conceive.  It only took a few months once we decided to start trying.  But even though it was only about 3 months or so before we saw those double lines on the pregnancy test, it was still disappointing those months when we were not successful.  I dreaded my monthly visit from aunt Flo a little more than usual.  When she was late, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I waited…and waited…for maybe about a week before I took a test.  And when I did, I still wasn’t so sure because that second line that appeared was so darn faint!  Why couldn’t they make these tests better?!?  I mean, you would expect the second line to be the same intensity as the first, no???  So what was I to do?  Google of course!  It  confirmed that if you see a second line, the test is positive, no matter how faint it was.  Even after that, I was still in disbelief.  I knew that miscarriages were common (1 out of 6 women have a miscarriage during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy) so I waited a few more weeks before I went to the doctor’s to confirm.  It wasn’t until my first ultrasound, when we saw the little tiny heart beating that I believed there was a tiny human being growing inside of me.

During these weeks, both my husband and I were tight lipped about our developing little babe.  We didn’t even tell our parents or siblings.  We wanted to wait until the second trimester since the risk of miscarriage is lower after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  It was Thanksgiving around the start of my second trimester so we thought we would tell our families at our Thanksgiving gatherings.  With my family, we thought we would play with them a little before we told them.  Yes, we are cruel that way.  We made them wait 7 years, what’s a few more minutes so that we can have some fun with them? 😉   My mom and sister have been bugging us about having children the second after we got married.  I am not exaggerating.  As the years went by and we remained childless, their hopes decreased and they started to bug us less.  A few months before we got pregnant, we adopted a dog.  I’m sure when we adopted our dog, Rocky, that their hopes of us having children decreased even more.  So, during our Thanksgiving dinner, we told them that we were going to adopt another dog and that we had a picture of the dog to show them.

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When we showed them this ultrasound, my sister instantly burst into tears, while my mom didn’t understand and asked, “Rocky’s having a baby?”  Silly mom, Rocky’s a boy!  Lol.  We had to explain that we were the ones having a baby, which led to more tears for all.

With my husband’s family, we weren’t as cruel.  Before dinner, we gathered everyone to take a picture, with hubby behind the camera pretending to take a picture but all the while recording a video of the whole thing.  Instead of having everyone say cheese, he told them to say “Happy Thanksgiving” and then with the next photo, he had everyone say, “We’re having a baby!”.  They all repeated, “We’re having a baby…….whaaaaat??”  It took a while after they said it before they realized what it meant.  And once again, as you can imagine there were more tears. 🙂

How did you announce your pregnancy?

Did you know that Mother’s Day was created by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who never had any children?  For more fun Mother’s Day facts, see yesterday’s post. 🙂

 

 

Lead up to Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, a celebration of motherhood that falls on the 2nd Sunday in May in North America, is only a month away. What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

THE FIRST MOTHER’S DAY

According to the History channel it became an official US holiday in 1914 due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis.  Jarvis, who was childless her entire life, created Mother’s Day in 1908 to celebrate and honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children following her mother’s death in 1905.  A church service was held in observation of Mother’s Day and Jarvis selected the carnation, her mother’s favorite flower, as a symbol of Mother’s Day.

Pink Carnations

photo by Rawlik

The most likely precedent of Mother’s Day was the Christian festival of Mothering Sunday, held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, where the faithful would return to their “mother church” for a special service.

MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS

The holiday was originally church service and visiting one’s mother, but it quickly became commercialized. Now, when I hear Mother’s Day, I almost automatically expect a third word to follow: brunch, or gift, or card, or flowers.  Billions are spent on Mother’s Day flowers each year, with Mother’s Day in second place for the most holiday floral sales, after Christmas/ Chanukah and ahead of Valentine’s Day according to aboutflowers.com.

Flower Boquet for Mom

Photo by pixbox

And here are a Few Quick Mother’s Day Card Stats:
Mother's Day Card Stats

Growing up, we didn’t really celebrate Mother’s Day. My parents were self employed in retail so they always worked on Mother’s Day. There was no brunch and our family never really did cards or presents. I vaguely remember getting mom a cake some years, but I can’t be certain.

After I moved away from home, I started calling. Then when I started working, I began sending flowers.

And before having my daughter, this was what I expected that my future kids would at least do. They better call and get flowers for me. I thought I would be sad if they didn’t, but now that I have a daughter, my view on this holiday changed a little.

I love my mom even more, and want to do more to show her my love, gratitude and appreciation, but I also no longer expect anything on Mother’s Day. My daughter is the greatest gift I could have and having her love brings me happiness. If she didn’t love me, then I rather her not just gesturally send me a card or gift. It will only make me cry. Emotional yeah?

I had thought that the powerful emotional effects from pregnancy hormones ended after giving birth but something must have carried over for me. I feel I’m more emotional now that I’m a mom; after Melissa shared her amazing home-birth story with me, I started reminiscing about my own daughter’s delivery.

Since Mother’s Day is only a month away, all of us here at Sinks Full of Dishes wanted to take the next few weeks sharing some parts of our journey to motherhood and the events that ultimately changed our roles on Mother’s Day.  Please come back and join us!

In the mean time, check out this pretty infographic from ftd.com:
Mother's Day Flowers Infographicsource: FTD.com

Crocheted Easter Eggs

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Crocheted Easter Eggs

Since my daughter is only 11 months old, we will not be doing much with her to celebrate Easter this year.  There will be no Easter crafts or games.  She’s too young to dye Easter eggs and join in on an Easter egg hunt.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t still get into the Easter spirit.  No, I did not go out and buy a ton of chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies.  Instead, I decided to try my hand at amigurumi.  Say what?  I know, I can’t even pronounce it myself.  Let’s call it ami for short.  Ami is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed dolls, which can be animals or inanimate objects.  As you know, I crochet during my spare time, usually when baby is sleeping.  I actually began crocheting as a hobby about 6 months ago and have been “hooked” ever since.  So, I still consider myself a beginner, even though I have a massive yarn stash that can revival those of long-time crocheters, I’ve spent many, many hours crocheting (late at night, instead of sleeping) and made many, many hats, scarves and headbands.  I thought, crocheted Easter eggs can’t be too difficult to make.  It’s just a round ball, really.  And ami is usually crocheted with just one stitch, the single crochet stitch, which I already know how to do and I already had most of everything needed (yarn, G hook, stitch marker, yarn needle).  All I had to buy was the polyester fiberfill to stuff the inside of the egg, which can be found at any craft store or online.  Alternatively, you can also stuff the insides with scrape pieces of yarn.

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These eggs are super easy to make.  I followed the free pattern from Petal to Picots.  She gives great suggestions on how to change yarn colours to make striped eggs.  But if you’re lazy, I mean, short on time like me, just use multi-coloured yarn and let the yarn create the pattern for you. 🙂  I whipped these little eggs up in no time!  Aren’t they so cute?

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Not bad for my first go at ami, right?  Maybe next year, I’ll try crocheting a bunny. In the meantime, this little guy is going to have to fill in.  😉

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You can include these crocheted eggs in your little one’s Easter baskets.  Or why not include them in your Easter egg hunt as decoys?  You can also use them as centerpieces to decorate your coffee or dining table.  Whatever you do with them, the best thing about these eggs, is that they’ll never go bad.  Use these handmade mementos again and again. 🙂

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Looking for other things to put in your little one’s Easter basket?  Check out Charlie’s post on 7 Non-Candy Easter Gift Ideas for Toddlers.  Have a wonderful day!

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7 Non-Candy Easter Gift Ideas for Toddlers

This is NOT a sponsored post.  I had really wanted to find some non-candy treats for my sweet little girl’s Easter basket this year and this is what I came up with.  There are some affiliate links in this post however.
I know Easter is not just about gifts and baskets and treats, but if you’re going to give the little love ones in your life something anyway, then here are some gift ideas that aren’t candy or chocolate.
Although have you seen these super adorable Lindt Chocolates?  I got them from Costco recently.  The carrot shaped box contains chocolate chicks, lambs, carrots, lady bugs, bees, three kind of eggs and rabbits.
Chocolate Bunnies, Lambs, Chicks, Eggs, Carrots, Lady Bugs, Bees and EggsWhen my daughter took one of the eggs into bed (she didn’t want to eat it, just nap with it), I ended up eating it after she fell asleep.  Since it was in her little hand for quite some time, I inadvertently found out that the soft inside melts to a liquid before the outer shell melts for a totally special treat.  Now I hold them in my hand for a few minutes before eating.  But shhh…I’m afraid there won’t be any left for her egg piñata.

7 NON-CANDY GIFT IDEAS FOR EASTER

  1. Toys/ Games
  2. Puzzles
  3. Plush Animals
  4. Clothes
  5. Accessories (e.g. Sunglasses, Caps, Umbrellas, Rain boots, Rain jackets, etc.)
  6. Books
  7. Keepsakes (e.g. Photo frames, Music boxes, Money banks, etc.)

TOYS/ GAMES

My daughter will probably love any toy or game given to her, especially balls, but since Easter is often associated with baby bunnies, lambs and chicks, and eggs, I thought maybe I’ll stick to that theme.

Meet Jack the rabbit:

Jumping Jack

My daughter loves playing this exciting game. Kids take turn spinning to see how many carrots to pull from the hill. One of the carrots will make Jack jump out and all the players try to catch him to win.

Since my daughter loves Jumping Jack so much, I’m getting her this Funny Bunny Game for Easter.  Each player has four bunnies and the first to the top of the hill wins.  But beware of holes!  Kids take turn drawing cards to see how many spaces to move but the big carrot card means it’s time to turn the carrot, which triggers the holes.  It’s for 2-4 players ages 4 and up (hey, that’s me; I can’t wait to play this with her).
My daughter is three so I thought she would be too old for these Stacking and Nesting Eggs but she plays with them several times a day in so many different ways.

Stacking Nesting EggsSometimes they are chickens on her farm. Sometimes they are cups.  Sometimes she uses them to “wrap” or hide presents for me.  Sometimes she even asks for them as her bath toy for the night (letting her pick a toy to take into the bath has been the most useful tip I got to get her cleaned up at the end of the day).
She likes her Stacking and Nesting Eggs so much that I’m considering these Hide N Squeak Eggs for her Easter basket.  They are also meant for a younger child because the eggs have different expressions to encourage shape and color recognition but they are so cute and they make happy cheep-cheep sounds.  I think they’ll make a fun Easter gift but also great for year round play.  What do you think?

Or would they be too similar to her Stacking and Nesting Eggs and these wooden Ukrainian nesting Easter eggs be a better choice?

PUZZLES

My daughter loves puzzles so I’m sure these will make a good gift for her.  How about your little ones?  Puzzles are great is so many ways.  Puzzles can help develop fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, problem solving, memory, and shape recognition!  I’ve noticed my daughter developing and practicing different strategies too when working on her puzzles.  For example, sometimes she will sort similar patterns and colors and complete those pieces first, while at other times she will complete the outside edge first.

PLUSH ANIMALS

My daughter has gotten a variety of plush/ stuff animals over her three years of life and while she never took to a lovie as a baby, she does play with and nurture her stuffed animals now that she is older.  She calls her favorites her babies and treats them like so.  I think they allow her a safe way to role play and make sense of her environment.  For example, a year or two ago she would put diapers on all her animals and swaddle them to sleep.  Now, she takes them to the potty and tells them to stay at the table when she serves them dinner.
Calico CrittersCalico Critters RabbitThese Calico Critters Bunnies aren’t really stuffed animals – they are more like miniature anthropomorphic animal figures with a soft flocked material and they are super adorable.
Aren’t these Hopscotch twins just the cutest?
Hopscotch Rabbit Twins
Here, my daughter placed all her “Easter buddies” onto her chair to watch a dance show she is putting on:
Easter Lovies, stuffed animals (bunnies, chicks, lambs)
She is quite the performer.  This bunny had a special ticket so she is seated in the VIP section:
Bunny on ShelfWhich of these would be perfect peaking out of an Easter gift basket?  The realistic looking lamb? Or the adorable bear in a baby chick costume?  Or Boo with bunny ears?  Or the super cute and small itty bitty bunny? Or a bigger super soft, cuddly and light Burrow bunny?

 

CLOTHES

Honestly, my daughter doesn’t think clothes make good gifts for her because they’re no fun.  I wonder if she will change her opinion when she gets a little older. Perhaps when she is a teenager? But as a mom, I think clothes are great practical gifts and she will look oh so pretty in pink:

And this silly tee should get a giggle or two out of her, or any boy on your list!

ACCESSORIES

My daughter may not think clothes make good gifts, but accessories are another story.  She loves umbrellas and has been asking for a pair of rainbow rain boots for as long as I could remember.  With April showers around the corner, maybe rain boots, a rain coat, and an umbrella would make the perfect Easter gifts?

BOOKS

Books make great gifts for any occasion.  A good book could spark curiosity and stimulate discussion.  There are so many good books to choose from.  I ended up picking this funny one about P.J. funnybunny with a message of self love and acceptance and this cute classic (1943) about the baby rabbit Marshmallow.


Would you pick an Easter book or was It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny and Marshmallow
okay choices?

I also saw this Easter sticker book at the local grocery store and it was so pretty inside that I had to get it too.  Besides, I haven’t met a toddler who doesn’t love stickers!

KEEPSAKES

We’ve been trying to teach my daughter about saving and spending concepts and having a jar or bank for her money really helps.  She got some cash for the Lunar New Year last month and has a knack for finding coins.  She has already filled up her little plastic dog bank so a new lamb money bank could make a useful Easter gift.

Lamb Money Bank
These darling yarn Easter Eggs hand-crocheted by Melissa would make a wonderful momento as well.  They are so beautiful!
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What other non-candy gift ideas do you think would be a nice treat for Easter?
 with love from ALL OF US AT SINKSFULLOFDISHES.COM

Bee-bim Bop!

Growing up, I held mixed emotions for cultural events and holidays, like the Lunar New Year, because while I enjoyed the festivities and celebrations, these cultural events weren’t mainstream and celebrating them both highlighted and reinforced our family’s minority status in my eyes.

Lunar New Year Decorations

I am ashamed to admit that later, in my teenage angst, I was often quick to dismiss my parents traditions and rituals as out-dated superstitions. I performed them loyally despite my tsk-tsk smart-mouth out of respect and love for my parents, but I never truly felt pride or a sense of legacy or claimed them for myself.

Now that I have a child of my own, I suddenly have a strong desire to share and to show her how everyone is different and to impart our family’s perspective. When I tried to share, however, I quickly learned that I had only assumed I was cultured because I grew up a minority but in reality, not only did I know little about other cultures, I knew little of my heritage outside of what my parents told me or what was portrayed on tv or in books.

As February 8th, the date of the lunar new year this year, loomed after the “real” new year passed, I found myself Googling various Lunar New Year traditions and on amped up late-night Amazon shopping sprees, trying to fill my cart with cultural items for the celebration.

Chinese calligraphy

I didn’t end up purchasing much other than some ink and red rice paper for calligraphy but I picked up several books on the Lunar New Year and some Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture books to share with my daughter.

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It was fun reading books featuring different Asian cultures and I regretted not doing this sooner. I must look into other cultures in additional to the ones we got since she showed interest.  Of all the books we got, she loved Linda Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop the most!

Bee bim bop

Bee-bim Bop is a fun rhyming story about a young girl helping her mom prepare dinner (Bee-bim Bop) for the family.  Bee-bim Bop, or more commonly Bibimbap (비빔밥), is translated literally as “mixed rice”.  It is a delicious traditional Korean dish that was historically eaten on Lunar New Year’s Eve.  There is a recipe for it at the back of the book.

Bibimbap

She asked me to read it repeatedly the first day and by the second day she was reciting it on her own.

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A week or so later she wasn’t asking for it anymore so I lent the book to her little cousins, one who is also 3 years old and one who is almost 2, thinking they might enjoy it as much as she did.  True to Murphy’s law, she asked for it again that exact night.

She cried and while I don’t condone the behavior, we reached a compromise since I did lend it out without telling her.  I found a video of it on YouTube and let her watch it instead:

I don’t know how they animated the illustrations but it’s so cute!! I loved it but my daughter preferred reading the book so I quickly re-ordered it on Amazon (affiliated link).

I’m so glad I got the replacement ASAP because the cheerful rhymes are now a staple in her daily speech and she will make up her own verses randomly.  For example, when she needed to go potty: “Hurry Mama, hurry. Gotta pee pee pee.  Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go. Mommy carry ME!!”

 

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A Single Dish Celebration Dinner: Pun Choy 盆菜

Pun Choy (or Poon Choi)

Pun Choy (or Poon Choi)

This was my first attempt at making Pun Choy (or poon choi), translated literally as ‘basin vegetables’, and now it might become a family tradition.

Poon Choy was something on my cooking bucket list that I was leaving for when I had the luxury of more time, maybe even weeks, to plan, research recipes and shop. Instead, this was thrown together a la reality tv show challenge style.

Premise: you got limited ingredients and only 3 hours to plan and put together a celebration dinner. What will you present before the hard to impress judges aka picky toddlers? Cue dramatic music.

Pun Choy (Poon Choi)

Sure, sure, the key layers were purchased ready-to-eat, but this Pun Choy turned out surprisingly easy to make and tasty for an unplanned last-minute feast!

Layers:
1. Garlicky Romain Lettuce Stir Fry
2. Fried Gluten Balls (that’s right, you read it correctly, GLUTEN, not gluten-free balls!)
3. Oyster Sauce Shiitake Mushroom
4. Pork meatballs
5. Fuzhou style fish balls
6. Soy sauce chicken*
7. BBQ pork (char-siu)*
8. Roast duck*
9. Broccoli
10. Ketchup Shrimp
* purchased from a Chinese BBQ restaurant

Soy Sauce Chicken

Soy Sauce Chicken

Roast Duck

Roast Duck

BBQ Pork "Char-siu"

BBQ Pork “Char-siu”

There are probably as many ways to make one as there are families, with simple easy to make and inexpensive layers like mine, to exotic and complicated layers I incorrectly thought it would require.

The potential ease to make, combined with the large variety of foods to accommodate many, makes this a wonderful potluck dish.

Holiday celebrations in this household are usually ad hoc affairs because of the Mister’s stance on non-commitment with going to my in-laws. It is just like pulling love me daisy leaves, except it’s ‘we might be going / we aren’t going’ instead. This year we landed on we’re going, but at 4 PM, the Mister texted from work that we aren’t leaving anymore until the following day. I texted my sister the news and she asked us to join them for dinner at 8 PM. What could I bring?

At 5 PM, my daughter woke from her nap so we went to the kitchen and I took stock of the nearly empty fridge; except for eggs and a bag of Romaine lettuce heads, I had successfully cleared it out in preparation of being out-of-town for 4 days.

I peeked in the freezer- frozen waffles, broccoli, fish sticks, fish and meat balls and eggplant parmesan. The pantry held dried beans, dehydrated Shiitake mushrooms, fried gluten balls and chicken stock. I can scrap together a quick dinner but what is Lunar New Year if dinner is not a feast?

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I started ruminating on the feasts my mom would put together for us each year. It was disappointing that I wasn’t doing the same for my daughter so I thought I should at least attempt just one of the more festive dishes. Just one dish, just one dish, just one dish…

And poof, just like that, the one dish train of thought lead to an ambitious attempt at making Pun Choy for dinner in 3 hours.

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I started on the shiitake mushrooms first because of the amount of time required to get them really soft the way I like them. Normally I soak them for hours or even over night so with just hours until dinner, I washed them and soaked for just an hour and stuck them in the pressure cooker for another hour with some water and cane sugar. Then I drained and cooked them with some garlic and savory Oyster Sauce.

While the mushrooms were in the pressure cooker I made a pot of soup to cook the meat and fish balls. Then I used the same soup to cook the gluten balls next. Finally, I used the same soup to steam and season the frozen broccoli.

Broccoli & Fried Gluten Balls

Broccoli & Fried Gluten Balls

While the meatballs were cooking, I stir fried the Romaine lettuce with some garlic.

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The time was now 7 PM and I was pretty much done but I was disappointed- the dish was hardly festive. If only I had some seafood or meats to give the dish more substance. Just then the Mister texted to say he was on his way home. So I asked him to pick up some BBQ pork (“Char-siu”), soy sauce chicken and roast duck and a pound of shrimp.

I gave my daughter a bath and got ready for dinner while I waited for the key ingredients. The Mister arrived at 7:30 PM, we should be leaving for my sisters but I still have to cook the shrimp so the next half hour was a whirlwind. This is where some people start cracking on reality shows, and the cameras pan frequently on the clock.

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We made it to my sister’s on time and had a wonderful night after all.

The judges? I have no idea if they were impressed or not but they ate and in my book, that’s a win 🙂image

Happy Lunar New Year everyone!!