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My First Step Towards Meal Planning

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Meal planning. Am I doin’ it right?

I’ve been throwing around the idea of meal planning for a while now. When it was just a little family of three – me, Tiny Boss and my husband – putting a meal together was easy (although I didn’t know it back then). In the Cerritos/Artesia area where I live, there is no shortage of inexpensive and tasty Chinese, Korean and Filipino food. Give the kids some rice, the husband some meat and dinner is served.

But now with two kids, getting out of the house was a challenge itself. You have to get their shoes on (which takes about two days, if you’re lucky) and everyone seated in their appropriate car seats. Then when you finally get to the restaurant you get to choose your poison. You can either:

1) dine in even though the kid-to-parent ratio is not in your favor, which is basically the cosmic equivalent of giving the universe two middle fingers, or

eff2) drive home clutching your hard-earned food while its deliciousness circulates through the car, taunting all hangry kids within a half-mile radius.

Either way, there will be consequences.

screwedAhem. So back to meal planning. There’s plenty of sites that have good menus, tips, and ideas (see here, here and here). But the first step is this:

Write it down. Be clear on what you want to cook on what day. Buy a good dry erase board, which you can get at Amazon here. It’s officially known as the “frameless Quartet Magnetic Dry-Erase Weekly Organizer, 6 x 10 Inches, Daily Planner.”

I like this one because it’s organized by days of the week and has enough room for one or two meals a day. Plus it comes with magnets on the back so it can stick right onto your fridge.

This is NOT a sponsored post. I don't get any money for this. I'm actually trying to be helpful. For once.

This is NOT a sponsored post so no, I don’t get any money for promoting this dry erase board. I’m actually trying to be helpful. For once.

This magical board has already helped me:

1) remember what I need to cook,

2) keep me focused on what I’m prepping without getting sidetracked,

3) help me pencil in leftovers for meals so they aren’t forgotten and

4) reduce food waste at our house.

IMG_9863I love it.

How do you guys do meal planning?

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Fears With Having a Second Child

first child second child

I was talking with my OB the other day (who is so far my favorite doctor I’ve ever had, but ask me again after she delivers my kid) about how different carrying the second child is from carrying the first. I told her I felt a little guilty because this time around, I don’t even know what week of pregnancy I’m on unless I go online to find a due date calculator. She laughed and said that was normal.

“I was talking to a friend who said he noticed that his parents had tons of pictures of his older sister and barely any of him,” I further confided. “I’m really terrified that I’ll neglect the second one and she’ll grow up with some sort of complex.”

My doctor laughed. “My husband was the second child in the family and was adamant we be extra careful. We try to take pictures of number two, but the first one always manages to sneak into the picture.” I wondered if I should tell my friend that.

* * *

I grew up as an only child, so I had no idea what it was like to have a brother/sister that you loved/hated. I could only look at my friends and draw my own conclusions, such as:

For families with only two kids: if the girl is born first and then the boy is born second, they’ll both turn out really awesome. But if the boy is born first and the girl is second, then the boy will be a total weirdo but the girl will be awesome. (This one is based in part on my ex-boyfriend, who was totally lame but had an awesome younger sister, as well as my close girlfriends who had totally weird older brothers. Too bad I’m about to prove this theory wrong with my first born son and soon-to-be-born daughter!)

get along

There are also the things my friends have told me: The more kids the mom has, the dumber they get. All the smart genes get passed to the first couple of kids. (My friend who said this is the youngest of three).

And per my mom: No matter how many kids there are, the third kid is always the smartest kid. (What if there’s only two kids, mom?”)

Another friend shared this bit of wisdom, which I thought was interesting: The first child is a gift for your husband. The second child is a gift for your first child. The third child is a gift for yourself. (She summed this up by saying, “I have three kids and it’s the perfect number. One is cooking breakfast right now, the other is doing the dishes, and the youngest is folding clothes!” But two might be the perfect number for us – although I’ve learned through parenting to never say never.)

I'm almost as afraid as this kid. Almost.

I’m almost as afraid as this kid. Almost.

Then there are the many fears that have suddenly come up as I’m getting closer to my due date. Some of these anxieties are legit; others are simply because I’m batsh*t crazy. I’ll let you be the judge; here they are:

Fear #47: “what if I love one child more than another?” 

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Fear #212: “what if the second one wants to sleep in bed with us too?”

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But with TWO kids. One for mom, one for dad?

Fear #6: “what if they REALLY don’t get along?”

Fear #2,098: “what if she’s even harder to raise than Tiny Boss?”

Fear #874: “what if she ends up hating me?”

And the list goes on and on. I guess in the end, like all things parenting, you just do the best that you can and hope that they don’t turn out to be psychopaths. Or Miley Cyrus.

MCfunny

I’m not into slut shaming. I really am not. But I also don’t want my kid’s photos to permanently be in the spank bank of a bazillion dudes. Not that this particular picture necessarily would make it there.

Things Change After Having Kid(s)

This came up in Google images when I searched for "husband after having kids." Check out the blog I found it at - I found it pretty funny: http://evidencebasedtitsandteeth.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/wife-after-baby-a-husbands-guide/

This came up in Google images when I searched for “husband after having kids.” Check out the blog I found it at – I found it pretty funny – and on point. Source: http://evidencebasedtitsandteeth.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/wife-after-baby-a-husbands-guide/

When I got pregnant with my first, I knew my relationship with my husband would change.

It will get (even?) better, I thought. We’ll grow closer.

That was true, but I wasn’t prepared for all the other ways our relationship would change:

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Maybe it’s time to donwload this on my Kindle

1) Sex, or the lack thereof

A friend recently told me she knew her boyfriend was going to break up with her because they went from “having sex four times a week to twice a week.” I wanted to spit out my coffee at this. You could replace “week” with “month” and she’d still be getting more than me.

I blame cosleeping in part. Also fatigue, mombod, and a lack of time for waxing.

Not in our house. You gotta strike while the iron's hot. Otherwise, the opportunity may not come again for another few decades.

Not in our house. You gotta strike while the iron’s hot. Otherwise, the opportunity may not come again for another few decades.

On the bright side, we are much more cooperative now. We’ve reached a mutual, unspoken agreement that neither person turns the other down when the rare request is made. If you’re in a desert and you come across water, whether it’s a lush oasis or a sad, tired puddle on its way to evaporating, you don’t think twice. You drink the goddamn water.

2) That feeling you get when you realize your husband is a dad

This is a good feeling. When my husband actually puts down the iPad and really engages with Tiny Boss, and the two of them are happily playing with cars or wrestling on the floor, I think of what a good dad he’s being. There’s just that special feeling that passes over you when you see your child looking at your husband with pure adoration and joy. At times like that, I know we’re doing something right.

3) It’s easier to appreciate the little things

Like eating a meal together without a third wheel. Pre-baby, if we went on a dinner date, it was a special occasion. We would get dressed up and pick a restaurant we loved or wanted to try. Neither of us thought twice about driving to LA to get the best ramen in Little Tokyo or waiting 30 minutes in line for the newest trendy food truck. The places, the company, the food all made it a special occasion.

Now? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

On Sunday, we had a breakfast “date.” It consisted of the two of us dropping our cars off for detail and wash, and then walking next door to Chik-fil-A. And you know what? It was awesome. We talked to each other, and it was for conversational purposes, not for assistance wiping down a stray hand that had found its way into ketchup or to go grab more napkins. My husband noticed this too. “It’s nice eating without someone screaming at you,” he observed. Whether the screaming person he was referencing was me or my son, I’ll leave that unanswered.

Beat Strong, Little Heart

I saw #2 on ultrasound today. To my pleasant surprise, it was just as exciting as it was first time around. Heart rate detected, 160 beats per minute. Measurements look good and we have a due date of 12/17/2013. At my new doctor’s office, recommended to me by my yoga mamas, I marveled at how such a little kidney bean, which was moving quite a bit on the screen, could some day turn into another Tiny Boss.

Which is just what I need. Another Tiny Boss.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful and excited and I wouldn’t trade Tiny Boss #2 for anything, even before I’ve seen his or her sweet little face. But I’m a bit “once bitten, twice shy.” Reality is finally sinking in of how much work will be involved.

The first time around when I was pregnant, I was all excitement. Just like I am when I start a new job, I plunged full steam ahead. I enrolled my husband and myself into Bradley method classes, practiced copious amounts of prenatal and Iyengar yoga, and I took long walks around the neighborhood daily. My dogs loved me.

Dear husband, on the other hand, seemed to be somewhere near denial. Until I was really popping out, I endured daily “are you sure you’re still pregnant” inquiries.

Neither of us knew what hit us after Tiny Boss arrived. Gone were the late night video game sessions that were prevalent during and before pregnancy. So were the random nights out, sleeping in on the weekends, dinners with friends and long showers. Taking the dogs on a walk is now an uncommon luxury rather than a daily habit. My dogs look at me like I’ve completely failed them.

I can’t count the number of times I’d fallen asleep feeding Tiny Boss in the early days. I swear he has someone watching over him, because there were times when out of sheer exhaustion, I would pass out cold while feeding him in my arms.

Those days were the toughest. Adjusting to parenthood, with a spouse who didn’t take much family leave and was working 12 hours a day, four times a week until Tiny Boss was over three months old. Getting used to the new lonesome that can be motherhood. Trying to figure out, according to the Dunstan method, if Tiny Boss was gassy or actually hungry.

And no matter how prepared I thought I was (okay, so I never had the nursery set up before giving birth, but other than that), when the time came, to say I was caught off guard would be a serious understatement. The Greeks had more of a heads up with that Trojan horse than I did with Tiny Boss. But somehow, we got through it all. I got through it all. To date, this has been the hardest challenge of my life.

Yes, harder than level two krav maga testing, which at the ripe old age of 25 I thought was the hardest thing I had ever done. Harder than passing the California bar exam, than growing up an only child, than growing up an only Asian child in a nearly all-white community, than surviving years of adolescent depression.

By the grace of God, and I don’t say that lightly, with the support of family and friends, Facebook, an amazing cleft team, blood, sweat and tears, we made it to today.

So this time around, I’m preparing by formally acknowledging that I really have no idea what I’m doing. I know somehow, I’ll get through it all. I can’t stop myself from doing things like reading about birth order psychology and time management for moms (as if there is such a thing), but I’m wiser enough now to know that this knowledge may be useless when the time comes.

My motto this time around:

keep-calm-and-parent-on

Random day

Two interesting things happened to me today.

First, I almost got a cell phone ticket. I was literally at the light 30 seconds from my house. I had finished my court appearances for the morning and was still wearing my suit, sitting in the drivers seat with one foot on the seat and intently texting my sisters in law (we have a long running group text going on).

All of a sudden I heard a loud honk and I looked up to see a stereotypical, beefy-looking, mustached LASD scowling at me from behind his sunglasses. He shook his head at me. I waved apologetically and meekly put my phone underneath my butt and pretended to concentrate on the car in front of me.

I hadn’t felt that simultaneously embarrassed and chastised since I was in second grade and I got kicked out of class for talking too much and I told the older kids who found me outside the classroom that I was just hanging out when my lupine crone of a teacher came out and blew my cover. She was the worst teacher ever. I would have rather had Professor Snape teach me for the rest of my public school education than go through second grade with Mrs. Sheldahl again.

Anyways, the second strange and unexpected thing that happened today was I got my eyebrows threaded and a pedicure. I know, ain’t nobody got time for that! Except I did!

What happened was our speech therapist is located near the mall, and after an hour long speech evaluation (which is a lot of activity – mostly playing, questioning and observing by the therapist), Tiny Boss crashed out on me. I tried to get him into the car seat but gave up after he would wake up and cry. So I stuck him in a stroller (funny how I can stick him in a stroller without waking him up, but the car seat is an entirely different matter).

So what do you do when you have a sleeping toddler and you’re stuck at the mall? You get your eyebrows done, and you hope he doesn’t wake up. You eat a light lunch, and you hope he doesn’t wake up. You hold him (because he did wake up, but went back to sleep) while you get your toenails done, and try to enjoy the massage chair as much as you can with twenty-plus pounds of deadweight on one shoulder.

And that was my strange day. I had been dreaming of getting threaded, waxed, a pedicure, and haircut for a while and half of it happened today. It wasn’t nearly as fantastic as I thought it would be. It’s hard to relax when you’re constantly wondering when the boss will be back.

Learning from Boston

Learning from Boston

News of tragedies seem to strike me harder now that I have a child. The thought always comes to my mind, this is the world my child will grow up in.

It makes me question for a minute if I want to bring more children onto this planet, one that is not only on its deathbed but inhabited by those capable of senseless violence, destruction, and cruelty.

It makes me imagine that the explosions happened not 2500 miles away, but nearby in my community. And then I remember such violence happens regularly on a daily basis in other parts of the world.

I think the best thing I can do right now is to take Tiny Boss, whenever he awakes from his sweet toddler nap, outside to enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. To watch his innocence as he marvels at the grass and the dirt and the neighborhood cat. To cheer him on as he walks across the lawn by himself, more steadily than the day before. To savor these moments that cannot be replaced and must not be forgotten.

He is my reason for not giving up hope. For loving humanity. For fighting the good fight where I can. And maybe, somehow, out of all this madness, generations down, our children will actually grow up in a better world than us.

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When my son smiles, in that moment, everything is all right again.

This video is one of the most amazing and terrifying videos I’ve watched as a parent.

It’s self-rescue and survival training skills that apparently allows a toddler (maybe one year old?) to fall into a pool but manage to kick himself up to the surface and turn over and float on his back.

Fantastic stuff and I hope I can enroll my kid in this program. But it was so scary to watch.

Before I was a parent, I didn’t know what fear was. Sure, I avoided large spiders. And I’ll admit that I have an irrational fear of electric shocks – from those buzzing things for a handshake prank to the shock knife we used in practicing knife defense in Krav Maga. I won’t even consider doing the Tough Mudder race because there’s a couple of obstacles that require mild electrocution.

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Only $5.99 at thinkgeek.com to scare the crap out of me!

But I never really knew fear until after my son was born. You see, I love him more than anything in the world. So of course, the thought of any harm falling upon him scares me more than anything. As a parent, you see the world in a whole new way. Things that were once benign n my pre-parent days  are no longer.

Sleep – SIDS

Bath – drowning possibility

Solid foods – choking hazard

Kitchen floor – source of exotic dried food scraps, dirt, and other germ-infested particles for toddler ingestion

Grocery shopping carts – salmonella covered handles

The good thing is that the older Tiny Boss gets, the less scary it becomes. When they’re infants, they’re so helpless and delicate. As a toddler, I swear his head and limbs are made of rubber, judging from the numerous falls, topples and bumps they’ve endured from the time he started crawling to now, where he has learned how to manuever himself  at a frightening rate upright like a drunk mini-me.

Someone told me once we are all born with just two emotions: fear and love. Tiny Boss has definitely taught me the meaning of both.