Better late than never

Christmas has once again come and gone. I had completed all my Christmas shopping (wrapped up and all) back in October and felt so accomplished. Here I am almost 2 months later, sitting next to a dried up Christmas tree and watching as the babe tosses around all her brand new toys she received as gifts as if she's had them forever. Over the past two weeks our mailbox had been flooded with Christmas cards from beloved friends and family, as a constant reminder for us to do the same. As we geared up to travel down to SoCal to spend the holiday with family, my to-do list consisted of one thing: send Christmas cards. We had planned on using some professional photos we had taken in September during one of our Hawaiian vacations. We figured it was a bit dated, but we knew there wasn't much time. When we touched down to my hometown, we busted out our laptops to draft up our card. Realizing that a dear friend down south happens to be a very talented photographer, with fingers crossed we sent her a text hoping she'd be available. To our surprise, she was! Without hesitation I Venmo'd her straight away and we were booked for December 23rd for a quick photo shoot at the Anaheim Packing District

She was extremely professional, fast, and so much fun to work with! It was such a joy to see her in her element. After knowing her for so many years, and hearing of her growth in both her profession (speech pathology) and side hustle (photography), I felt so proud to see her in her creative environment. Not only was she able to capture memories of my family in a pinch, but they were even better than we had imagined. Not to mention a same-day edit! So, shoutout to Nikki! Can't wait to see you continue to advance in all that you do. You da best!

Here's a few from the shoot:

And thanks to Postable, we were able to send out our Christmas cards later that night. Thank God for technology! Here's what they looked like. 

I hope that you all had a wonderful (and successful) Christmas holiday! 

Our Family Emergency Kit

We will store our kit under this bench. The small first aid kit will be in the car. I have a duplicate first aid kit in the luggage.

We will store our kit under this bench. The small first aid kit will be in the car. I have a duplicate first aid kit in the luggage.

In response to the recent natural disasters and wild fires here in California, my family has decided to take action and become prepared for any type of emergency. Many people have asked me what we packed, so I am sharing my comprehensive list here. Please feel free to add or subtract to your own list according to your own family's needs. We live under a large, dry hill with homes at the top in the San Francisco/Daly City border of the Bay Area (scroll down to see photo). You can blame my medical background for being slightly over-prepared, but I'm okay with that!

We will be keeping our large kit under this bench at our front door for easy access on the 1st floor of our house in the event that we need to evacuate. I encourage families to have at least 1 member who is CPR certified. You do not need to be a medical professional and there are plenty of places you can get this certification. At the very least, you can read up on emergency procedures online, thanks to the Internet. The CDC has a ton of information on getting prepared.

I hope you find this list helpful. I'm disappointed that I didn't do this sooner, but it's becoming more and more apparent how real this all can be. You might also find that it starts to get a little pricey once you start to add things up, but for less than $400, being able to provide for your whole family after a natural disaster will be worth it. Please continue to pray and support those who have been affected by the recent fires. GoFundMe has a list of verified accounts to donate to fire victims if you are able to help out.

Thanks and be safe, friends!


Family Emergency Kit (2 Adults, 1 child & 1 large dog)

For 2 Adults:

  • 1 Four-person, Three-day Deluxe emergency kit containing all survival supplies. We bought ours from Leejay's work, but you can find one on Amazon. Among all the awesome supplies in included, there are N95 masks in there too! When the air quality gets bad, this can help save you from having serious respiratory issues. I recommend getting one from your local hardware store now if you are experiencing breathing problems if your area was affected by the fires.
  • 1 Complete first aid kit (complete with all supplies for injuries). This one also contains a sewing kit.
  • Medications: Calamine lotion, Anti-diarrheal (Imodium), Laxative (Dulcolax), Antacids (Pepcid), Antihistamines (Benadryl), Pain relievers (Tylenol), Hydrocortisone cream, Cold & Flu meds (like Nyquil/Dayquil), and Decongestant (Sudafed).
  • 1 Emergency Lantern
  • 1 Crank Flashlights with radio and charging station (the deluxe kit also came with one)
  • 1 Life Straw
  • 6-pack Emergency drinking water. These have a 20-year shelf life, people!
  • Snacks: protein bars, granola bars, trail mix. We chose Lara Bars because Zac is able to eat these.
  • MRE’s (Instant food). This is the stuff they use in the military and it's on Amazon!
  • 1-2 Towels (Can be cut up in case of emergency for injuries, as dog bed, cut into hand towels, etc. There are many use cases. We packed old beach towels we've had for years)
  • 2 Hoodies (We packed old, oversized ones we don't really use)
  • 2 Leggings/Sweats (For all clothing, we just packed old items from home, 1 of each thing for each of us)
  • 2 Shirts
  • 2 Thick socks
  • 1 Sports Bra (For me, not Leejay! Haha)
  • 2 Packs of underwear (5 per pack)
  • Travel size toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, tampons, etc.
  • No rinse bathing wipes
  • Fire lock box: Containing important documents, blank checks/cash. Keep 1 key with your emergency backpack. We have 2- this small one and this large one. Make digital copies of all your documents and put it in a cloud/ email it to yourself/etc. We store the fireboxes in our bedroom closet.
  • Keep at least one pair of shoes or sandals/slides near your main exit (we always have 1 pair each near our front door).

For 1 Child:

  • 1-2 Outfits (pants/sweater/shirt) and size up. it's better to be bigger than smaller
  • 1 pair long socks
  • 1 set of PJs
  • 1 Baby blanket (one of her old swaddle blankets)
  • 2 stuffed toys/ puzzle (comforting for the babe)
  • 1 Can of Nutramigen formula
  • 5-10 Baby food pouches
  • 1 Sippy cup
  • 1 Bottle
  • Snacks
  • 2 Pack Diapers (Size up! You can always make a big diaper small, but you can’t make a small diaper big)
  • 1 Large pack of wipes
  • Bulb Syringe
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby meds: Infant Tylenol Melts, Kids Benadryl Melts (generic), 2 Epipen (daughter with severe allergies)

For 1 dog:

  • 1 Collapsible Bowl
  • 1 Bag dog food
  • Leash/Collar
  • 1-2 dog toys (comfort for your furry kid)

For Car:

For Everyone:

  • Prayer - Pray for protection and safety over your loved ones and community. Pray for wisdom when getting through it. Pray for continued faithfulness and strength when things get scary, intense or difficult. 
  • Awareness- Be aware of your surroundings, the risks, and the possibilities. 
  • Common Sense- Use your best judgment when making decisions in any emergency. 
  • Love- Speak love. Give love. Show love. Just love. (This world could use a lot more of it)

Note: Check expiration on all items annually.

This photo is the view from our kitchen window (second floor). You can see that thin the event of an earthquake or fire, our location might be at high risk.

This photo is the view from our kitchen window (second floor). You can see that thin the event of an earthquake or fire, our location might be at high risk.

Memoirs of a SAHM: Growth Spurts

I haven’t posted in awhile but I’m taking this opportunity now while Zac is literally in my arms, finally napping, as I’m rocking her in our glider. I felt an urge to vent about how growth spurts are a real struggle. They’re  a lot like tangled yarn. It’s like no matter how patient you are, trying to remove all the little knots, it somehow gets worse and much harder to unravel. Every time you think you’ve got it and it’s almost done, it appears as though you never even started. As one knot loosens, another one begins. This is my life right now. 

Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Here's an example of what this growth spurt looks like. One moment Zac will be cheerful and singing, and seconds later she’ll be in tears. Then she’ll rub her eyes and act sleepy, and as soon as she lays down to nap she becomes a chatterbox. As a result of a lost nap, she’ll be grumpy and fall down to the ground at random times, upset that she’s sleepy. When it’s time to eat she’ll take a bite, smile and show us the sign language for “eat more.” As the spoon enters her mouth, she’ll hit it out of your hand and furrow her eyebrows. Then when you try for a second attempt, she’ll gladly take it. Like I said, tangled yarn. 

To be fair, I’m more sensitive because I definitely have more on my plate these days. The feelings I share come from a place in which all things are magnified. For the past few months I’ve been involved in a little side hustle (let’s face it, I got bills to pay), but it’s becoming more and more apparent that being a full-time SAHM and also part-time working parent is a freakin’ challenge. I’m being tested every single day. 

Growth spurts mean a hungrier, more curious, clingy (to me), extremely active, running, singing, tantrum throwing, super sweet, yet mischievous, teething toddler who would rather play than sleep. What keeps me sane is the app Wonder Weeks.  I highly recommend this app! It has helped Leejay and I feel like we are not alone and that Zachary’s behavior is completely normal for her age. Her little brain is getting filled with so many new things and she's really trying to process everything. I can't even imagine how hard that can be for a baby. But, DUDE. Sleep deprivation is slowly making its way back into our lives.  Just a week ago, she was going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at 7:40am (like she has been doing for months and months). This week she suddenly hates her crib and even if we are able to put her to sleep in it, she wakes up crying and screaming for one of us around 3:00am. It takes a over an hour to get her back to sleep unless we give in, of course, and allow her to be in her Dock-a-Tot (Grand) in our bed just so that we can a get a couple more hours of sleep. We’ve been spoiled by her 12 hours nights for so long and are really trying to adjust to all of these changes.

And, hey, maybe all of this is a result of our recent trip to Hawaii and the time change is to blame for some of it. I don’t really know and I can point fingers all day at pretty much anything just to find a valid reason. But I know that this is temporary, and it feels good to be able to jot it all down and get these current frustrations out of my head. I know that there are a TON of other serious and devasting things happening in this world today, and I am humbled and blessed to be where I am, to have a roof over my head, to not be negatively swayed by the media or physically affected by the natural disasters and hate crimes happening in our country. 

So I write this for the mommas (and poppas) who feel like me. The burn, the exhaustion and the frustration, because it’s okay to feel it. But this is also written to encourage and remind us that we are extremely, without a doubt, blessed for the ability to be with our littles everyday, to protect them and teach them as much as we can as we watch them grow in a world like the one we live in today. We get to be an example of strength to them when days are hard and when things get scary. To show them that no matter the circumstance, faith and love is of utmost importance. The burn, exhaustion, and frustration of parenting is nothing compared to the gift of parenthood itself.

Cheers to all the 1-year-olds being 1-year-olds around the globe. I can’t wait to see what you all grow up to be. 

11-12 Months of Motherhood

We survived the first year! This is the last of my "monthly" lessons in motherhood.

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I feel that this first year has taught me more about life than the last 30 years I've been on this earth. It's funny how your perspective can change when you become a parent. It's so easy to become overprotective, anxious, and scared. ALL. THE. TIME. I hate to break it to you, but this becomes the norm. Not to mention the teething. Ughhhhh. The teething. But there is good news! Although those not-so-fun feelings surface in the first year of parenthood, the happy feelings overpower it. Here's a few that I've learned:

1. Hilarious, nonstop entertainment!

Because the first year is full of well, firsts, every attempt to do anything is so funny! The first time Zac said "Banana", I literally lol'd! She saw a banana and screamed "Na-nana!" In the past month, she's been learning her different body parts. The first time I asked her where her nose is, she pointed to her nose correctly. But then when I asked her where her eyes are, she pointed in between her nose and her eye. I figured, hey, it was a great guess! Now that she's entering the toddler years, some things are funny, but not necessarily good. When Zac was younger, she would do things like copy me if I stuck my tongue out. She still copies me now, but it's not as cute as it used to be. One time I saw that she was trying to pull on something I didn't want her to pull on. She turned around, as if looking for permission, and then pulled it anyway. Because I'm teaching her baby sign language, I firmly said the word "no", while signing it with my hands. She then looks me right in the eyes, smiles, and signs "no" back at me! I'll definitely be working on this more.

2. Daily exercise comes easy.

What better way to get in my steps than chasing Zac around the house, or having to carry all 23 pounds of her up and down 2 flights of stairs throughout the day? Last week Zac finally took 3 steps! She isn't full on walking yet, and I am cherishing this special time. I'm hoping that despite her increasing mobility, she doesn't lose all her chubbiness. 

3. Every moment is a Kodak moment.

I'm pretty sure the majority of the population uses their smartphone to take photos of their kids (sorry, Kodak!), but when you have the ability to take great, quality photos at any given moment, why not? I'm not sure if all kids like their photos being taken, but Zac seems to enjoy it. I've learned that you can't take too many. There are moments when she is doing something wild, like rolling around, blowing raspberries out of control, or dancing up a storm and I end up using the burst feature on my phone, only to end up saving ALL of them. It's a problem. 

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9-10 Months of Motherhood

Motherhood took a scary turn in month 9. The lessons I learned revolved around child safety. Zac became a very fast crawler and cruising the furniture. Child proofing had begun! We started to cover up our electrical plugs, blocked off the stairs with a baby gate, and placed bumpers around tables and shelving with sharp corners. Her pediatrician recommended we crawl on the floor every so often to see what she sees to avoid any potential injuries and remove any inedible objects from the ground. Who doesn't love a good crawl?!

One of the other measures we took with child safety was lowering Zac's crib mattress. She is now pretty tall for her age (standing at about 29inches) and is no stranger to pulling up to stand. I didn't feel overwhelmed taking any of these safety measures. We knew child-proofing was important, and although we were dreading it, we were prepared. But there was one thing we weren't fully prepared for. That thing is peanuts.

We found out the hard way that Zachary has a peanut allergy. In a nutshell (no pun intended), we were at her pediatricians office for a non-urgent office visit. I made an appointment because Zac's eczema was getting out of control. Her face was super dry, red, flaky, and bleeding from scratching. It started to weep clear fluid and chasing the cause was making my life really hard. Some days she's flawless, and other days she's extremely flared up. I tried eliminating things from my diet (because I'm breastfeeding) and eliminating things from hers. I kept going back and forth with certain food and it was becoming exhausting playing this guessing game. She had been on antihistamines night and day since she was 5 months old, so I was hoping for an answer. 

Her doctor decided to do an allergy panel and asked me if I had tried peanuts yet. He had asked me to do this at her 6-month appointment for early introduction since she was already higher risk because of this ongoing eczema. I told him that I didn't feel comfortable doing it at home, but that I brought a single pack of peanut butter to try close to the office. He laughed and said, "that's fine."  Lunchtime rolled around and we decided to eat first and try the peanut butter while we were still close to the office before heading out to the other lab. After lunch I put a tiny bit of the PB on my pinky finger and introduced it to Zac. I put it on her bottom lip and she licked it up. She smiled when she tasted it, but seconds later she began to scratch her chin. I decided that we should start heading back to the office as quickly as possible just in case she got more itchy. When I put her in the car seat her face was turning red and swollen and she was scratching harder and harder. The drive was less than 5 minutes (literally in the same shopping center) and when we got to the parking structure her face had looked like it was stung by a swarm of bees. I decided to just run her inside. Once I was in the office they could see through the window what was happening and started prepping medication. At this point her face was so swollen her eyes were shut. Her doctor jumped out of another visit to assess her but she was already projectile vomiting. He laid her down and injected her with an Epipen. Although I'm sure this happens all the time, and yes I'm a nurse, but it didn't make it any easier to watch. It was hella scary! They gave her Benadryl and Claritin and waited until she was stable. About 30 minutes later she was looking so much better. They told us to have her rest, so we headed home. Her swelling in her face had gone down a bit. As we were approaching our house I noticed weird looking hives around her armpits and thighs. She didn't have this at the office. I lifted her shirt and her body was covered in hives and was very warm to the touch. I got anxious so as I tried calling the office back but the line was busy so we just drove back. As soon as we got there, they realized that her reaction was really strong and the Epipen wasn't enough as that bit of peanut butter was too much for her system. They ended up giving her more Benadryl and started her on Prednisone (a steroid). She was to take this medication for the next 6 days. We made sure to stay at the doctors office until we were certain she wasn't still trying to fight off the allergy.

When we got home, she was exhausted but happy again. What a relief! This whole experience took up a lot of the next several weeks. They ended up doing a blood test and found that she was also allergic to eggs, almonds, soy, wheat, milk, and dog (dander/saliva/urine or all of the above). After doing some research I saw that blood tests aren't always accurate, especially since she had not even been exposed yet to all of those things, so we were referred to an allergist. A prick test confirmed the peanut, soy, wheat, and almond allergy, but it looks like there's hope for the eggs! Currently we are just waiting on results to see if we can challenge a baked food item with egg and hopefully begin immunotherapy for the other stuff. She'll continue to take oral antihistamines for now and I've pretty much learned her allergic reaction cues. I found that it's the way she scratches that let's me know something is going on. I look for that gesture anytime she begins a new food. Although she won't be able to indulge in a piece of cake, a fluffy donut, a pint of ice cream, an almond croissant, or the occasional thai fried tofu, I feel a sense of relief knowing that at the very least, she doesn't know what she's missing! I will spend my life finding her the yummiest alternatives and eat all that weird hippie stuff until these allergies all get figured out. For now, I'll embrace my little Paleo/Vegan-like baby girl <3

Besides baby proofing, allergies, and doctors appointment, the past couple months have been ridiculously busy. Between swim class, birthdays, holidays, her first modeling gig, and laundry, the 10th month has been a blast. Sure it was full of teething, a fussy, grumpy girl, sleepless nights and so on, but it was also filled with laughter, trying all kinds of solid food, learning the gestures to Itsy Bitsy Spider, and saying words like "banana" and "uh-oh!", and waving hi and bye at everything. We've been having so much fun! As the countdown to 1 begins, we are enjoying every moment of this life in the hood. #parenthood.

Aaaaand here's what we've been up to:

  • Dress | Zara
  • Bow | Wunderkin Co