Life

Memoirs of a SAHM: Patience is a Virtue

2017 came and went. While I'm still getting used to the fact that it's already the start of a new year, I am perplexed with how much has already happened in the past 2 months. As much as we wanted to ease our way into the new year, we've been busy working, attending various baby events, traveling, hosting visitors, celebrating birthdays and participating in a couple of photoshoots (for our little amateur baby model). Amidst it all, however, we've been challenged with the much anticipated toddler tantrums. That's right, everybody. IT HAS BEGUN.

Do you remember grade school emergency fire drills? The toddler tantrums in our household are much like that. Stop, drop, and roll! I'll give you a real life example: Zachary wanted to open something that simply does not open (a bluetooth speaker that was already playing music). She asked me to "open" it for her as if it were a box, with something inside. I tried to explain and show her that it doesn't work like that and it cannot be "opened." Zac literally tosses the speaker, drops to the ground, and rolls around fake crying. I have to admit that sometimes the cry has tears, but more often than not, she forces them out. It is quite the performance, actually. 

Although that example was ultra-specific to something a toddler her age cannot understand, these tantrums can be triggered by things she does understand. Like wanting to chew on straws, spitting out her drinks, or opening drawers and cabinets after already being told not to do those things. Because these are all things she knows she shouldn't do, she looks me right in the eyes, mischievously right before she does them, probably thinking to herself,  "I'm not supposed to do this, huh? Bwahaha! Watch me!" 

Some days are rough when you are a stay-at-home parent. Especially when the tantrum consists of the unacceptable, occasional hitting. The frustration can be extremely draining when you are with your kid all day and night. On one hand I feel so tired of being upset with her, having to repeat myself over, and over again. On the other hand I feel bad for being mad at her because I know that she's a young and doesn't always know any better.

Because this has been going on for awhile, I've finally started to find things that work for us. I wanted to write this out in case anyone else finds these tips helpful.

1. Don't say "Don't"

This is something I learned from my teacher, Michelle when I took a kids yoga teacher training at It's Kids Yoga. When you say "Don't touch that!" or "Don't jump!", kids often don't hear the "don't", so they do the exact opposite of what it is you want. What kids need are reasons and instruction. So rather than saying "Don't touch that." you could say, "You might get hurt if you touch that." Instead of screaming “Don’t run!” Saying “Please walk so that you won’t fall down.” In our household, because she’s so young, I’ve settled with what I know she understands. Zac knows exactly what it means to get an “owie”, so one of the phrases I usually default to is, “You might get an owie if you touch that.” There’s nothing she hates more than an owie. 

2. Child proof the house

I noticed that most of the times I’m frustrated with Zac is when it involves her safety and getting her hands on things she’s not supposed to, like climbing up stairs or opening cabinets. It occurred to me later that if I could prevent the frequent “No’s” (eg. no running, no touching, etc.) then I’d be a much happier parent and she, a much happier toddler. I eliminated the constant “no’s” by simply childproofing with things like baby gates on the stairs and kitchen, using electrical outlet sockets, and adding silicone pads to sharp corners. Of course, it’s not the only solution for dealing with busy toddlers, but it was a great first step.

3. Be patient

This one is an ongoing project of mine. It requires a lot of deep breaths, prayer, attention and understanding. Some people may or may not know that I work part-time from home in addition to being a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Patience can wear thin when you are trying to meet deadlines and feeling completely distracted when your kid is in need of attention. I constantly have to remind myself that my child doesn’t even realize I’m working, so she’s not purposely trying to interrupt me. In fact, I’m probably disrupting her routine when I have to catch a team meeting or put in several hours at a time. So learning to just get through the hard days with empathy has been a process and a wonderful learning experience.

Eczema, eczema, read all about it!

Lately I've been getting a ton of direct messages, emails, and comments about how I keep Zachary's eczema under control. I love getting messages like this, because it makes me feel even more united with other mommas, knowing we are going through so many of the same things. With that said, keep the questions coming because I really don't mind. Since so many of you have asked, I will explain how I keep Zac's flare-ups to a minimum. You can see what triggers her allergies in a previous post I've written here.

Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by:  Greer Rivera

Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by: Greer Rivera

Tackling Zac's Eczema:

1. Bath every other day

Although water is great for moisturizing skin, it can also really dry it out. Skin produces natural oils throughout the day and if you are constantly washing it off, the result can be drier skin. We give Zac baths only every other day to make sure her skin is well-balanced.

2. Use whatever soap/shampoo that works

I used to buy "specialty" and/or organic soap, hoping it would help Zac's skin. I tried Aveeno Shampoo and Wash, Aquaphor Shampoo and Wash, Cetaphil for babies, Honest, Burts Bees, Babyganics, and other miscellaneous, random hippie stuff. The last thing I tried when all those products did not make much of a difference was, dun, dun, DUN... Johnson's & Johnson's Baby Head-To-Toe Baby Wash. It's super affordable and works so well for Zac. No wonder it's been around for so long! It smells great too!

3. Always pat dry

As soon as Zac is out of the bath, I don't dry her off with a towel. I take her out of the tub, wrap a towel around her, take her over to our bed, pat dry just a bit and start applying moisturizer on her semi-wet skin. Applying the moisturizer on damp skin helps to keep the skin extra dewy.

4. Favorite eczema moisturizer ever: AVEENO BABY ECZEMA THERAPY NIGHTTIME BALM

You guys! This moisturizer has changed our life! It helped Zac's rough, dry and itchy skin even when it was at it's worst. This is what I apply when her skin is still damp from the bath. I am super liberal with it and apply it everywhere.

5. Occasional hydrocortisone

I mix either 1% hydrocortisone (you can find this over-the-counter at any Target or drugstore) or her prescription 2.5% hydrocortisone. I mix it with a bit of the nighttime balm and apply to those problem spots during flareups. 

6. Oatmeal baths

I only do this on occasion for extra irritated full body flareups. For example, if she ate something she is allergic to and is scratching everywhere on her body, I use the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Oatmeal Bath. This helps to calm it down to help her sleep a little better. Luckily, I haven't had to do this in months.

7. Trim & file nails

Pretty much a given. We use FridaBaby NailFrida. Long nails cut skin and harbor bacteria. Keeping baby nails short helps to minimize raw, bleeding flareups. 

These tips were not a prescription from her pediatrician. They are things I did on my own that has worked for Zac. I have heard great results from those who I have given this advice to, and I hope it's helpful for anyone who has been looking for a new regimen. Of course, it is important to talk with your own healthcare provider in regards to your own child if you have doubts or questions.

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! 

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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Hawaii with a baby. It can be done!

This post is super late but since returning from Maui, we've moved (still in the Bay Area) and took another mini vacay down to LA with a pitstop to Santa Barbara as we headed back up along the coast. Thanks for being patient! 

Hope you have some time because this is a long one! Taking a baby on any trip is a daunting task. I know I sometimes get anxious taking Zachary to Target on a rainy day, let alone an overnight trip! Prior to Maui we've been on several weekend trips to see family in the Sacramento area as well as LA, each trip lasting no longer than a 2-night stay. When planning to bring our 5-month-old baby on a 7-day vacation to an unfamiliar place with tropical climate and unpredictable weather, I had to spend a lot more time preparing. I would say that our smaller trips prepped me for it. 

What made our trip to Maui most challenging was the amount of luggage (see Packing) we had to bring. We lugged our stuff from home to our Uber to the airport, from the check-in gate to the security checkpoint, the airport at our destination to the rental car place, from the rental car place to our hotel, and then did the entire thing again in reverse going back home. Shoutout to the hubby, Leejay for carrying all the cargo while I focused my energy on the baby!

Considerations

Weather is a big one to consider when traveling anywhere. In San Francisco I look up the weather everyday before I even step outside. In preparation for this trip I looked up the 10-day forecast in Kapalua and read reviews about the weather in Kapalua in January on TripAdvisor and other various blogs to get a sense of what I needed.

It doesn't hurt to check in with your pediatrician prior to travel either. Zac had a mild cold in between her regular 4-month well-child visit and our vacation. We decided to make an appointment to ensure that we were good to go and get educated on what to do if her cold progressed into an ear infection, who to call, and what to bring. Her pediatrician said to make sure to use a nasal saline rinse, stay hydrated, have a thermometer and tylenol handy, and get info on the closest urgent care and hospital from the hotel when we arrive. He also honed in on the importance of sunblock. I learned that you could use plain zinc oxide (like in diaper cream) as sunblock and it didn't really matter what SPF you use, as long as it was at least SPF 20 and was applied frequently every few hours and/or if she got wet/submerged in water. 

Packing

I began packing for Maui 2 weeks in advance. I know that sounds crazy, but I knew that it would be important in case I missed something. One thing I had to keep in mind was that babies grow super fast and 2 weeks can make a big difference. I made sure not to pack anything that already fit too snug. On top of the regular baby items I pack for overnight trips, I had to also keep in mind that we were going somewhere with pools, beaches, and harsh sunlight. So here's what I packed:

  • Stroller/stroller bag - Strollers are considered a free check-in bag! We brought our Uppababy G-Lite umbrella stroller because it's much lighter than our regular Uppababy Cruz. We definitely missed the cargo space below, but it was nice not having to lug such a big stroller around.
  • Car seat/car seat bag- We used our UppaBaby Mesa carseat without the actual mesa platform. It's lightweight and easy to install. These are free to check-in too!
  • Lulyboo lounger- We used this poolside for Zac to lounge and nap. We also ended up using it to co-sleep with her in the bed on the days she was very congested so I could help her clear her sinuses more frequently.
  • Pop-up chair- We got so much use out of this chair! We initially just wanted to get her a little beach chair but ended up using this at every restaurant instead of having to use the high chairs provided. It's basically a collapsible Bumbo seat. This was important to us because we didn't want her cold to get any worse while we were on vacation. (Yes, I'm a bit of a germaphobe.) It folds up small and fits into a drawstring bag that didn't take up much space in our luggage.
  • Diaper bag - We brought a different one than the one we use daily because we knew it would get sand in it or wet.
  • 2 blankets
  • 6 burp cloths
  • 6 bibs
  • 5 pajamas
  • 2 bathing suits- Target has a great selection!
  • 1 coverup
  • 3 pants
  • 3 shorts
  • 6 onesie shirts/tanks/summer dress
  • 1 rain jacket- Ours looks different than the one linked here, because they are likely out of stock.
  • 2 sandals
  • 6 pairs socks
  • Woolino- I posted about this wearable blanket awhile ago. She still sleeps with this every night. It's the best!
  • Teething necklace
  • 2 nursing covers - You can see how I use my covers. They are the same ones I used when taking Zac to Disneyland.
  • Secure-a-toy strap- These things are great! It keeps toys and teethers from falling on the ground.
  • Teething toys- She was chewing on this thing the WHOLE TIME. Almost every photo of her on this trip was with this teether in her mouth.
  • 2 stroller toys
  • 1 highchair toy
  • 1-2 pack of wipes- Wipes are hella expensive in Hawaii. You especially don't want to run out of wipes while at the airport. This happened to us because I thought 1 large pack of wipes (75 count) would be enough and we had to purchase wipes at the Kahului Airport. A travel pack of wipes cost $8.99!
  • 1 box diapers (or 40 diapers)- Again, expensive in Hawaii. I brought 60 but I could have brought less. I ended up using less than 40 diapers. I overestimated because when you are on the road and/or swimming and beach hopping, you end up using less diapers than you would use being home all day.
  • Aquaphor- Zachary is prone to diaper rash and has eczema. Fortunately the humidity in Hawaii was great for her skin. No eczema flare-ups the whole week!
  • Toy wipes- Because her teethers can get really gross and there isn't always a place to wash them
  • Sanitizing wipes- Families with young children get to board the airplane first!  I took a tip from a mommy friend of mine and wiped down our entire seat area, armrests, food trays, TV screens and remotes as soon as we boarded. Those things are extremely filthy.
  • Baby Tylenol- Brought this in case her cold progressed into an ear infection (per her pediatrician). 
  • Thermometer- Same as above.
  • Saline drops- To moisten her nostrils and ease her congestion
  • Windi - She did get gassy at one point during the trip and this helped get it out.
  • Nose frida- Had to suck that snot out!
  • Nail clippers and file- Zac's nails grow so fast. I clip them almost every 2 days because she's a scratcher!
  • Baby sunblock- ThinkBaby is our fave. Leejay, Zac and I all used the same sunblock throughout the vacation. This sunblock doesn't smell bad like a lot of others and it doesn't leave you feeling chalky or sticky.
  • 2 bucket hats- Sun protection is so important. Bucket hats protect baby's face, neck, and scalp.
  • 2 swim diapers- We used the ones by Honest Company. They fit nice and snug (so snug that I would recommend sizing up). We used regular diapers if we were just lounging by the pool and/or beach and then I would change her into swim diapers right before taking a dip in the water. Babies poop and pee whenever they feel like it, so I think it's best to just have them in regular diapers for the majority of the time. When the sun is blaring and you are out in the pool, it's unlikely that the baby would even be in the pool for very long.
  • Baby sunglasses
  • Shampoo/body wash Cetaphil pack- I use Cetaphil for Zachary because of her eczema. She is sensitive to a lot of products that have chemicals or fragrances. Cetaphil is mild and hypoallergenic.
  • Travel bath tub- This little bath sling worked great and folds flat to fit well in your luggage. We have been using this since Zac was 1-month-old on her first overnight trip and every trip thereafter.
  • Pool floater- We got a ton of compliments on this floater at our hotel pool. Even the adults were hoping it came in their size! This floater is easy to inflate, comes with some pool toys, and most importantly has a sun shield for skin protection.
  • Hair ties/clips
  • Changing pad
  • Sound spa travel - Part of Zachary's bedtime ritual is to have the sound of water as white noise. We bring it on all our travels but ended up not using it in Maui, and for good reason. Our partial ocean view room allowed us to hear the ocean waves from our room! 
  • Sollybaby- This was the golden ticket to having a comfy, sleeping baby on the airplane. I wore her in my Solly and she fell asleep right before boarding. Once we were ready for take off, I loosened my Solly a bit and got her to latch onto my breast while she was sleeping. The pediatrician advised me to feed her during take-off and landing to avoid ear pressure and it was a success! Zac did amazing and didn't cry at all on both the flight there and back. I am one proud momma! Let's hope she does the same when she's older.
  • Ergo Baby- We used this carrier for longer baby wearing sessions on the island.
  • Bug repellent stickers- I'm not a huge fan of bug repellant sprays. They tend to feel oily and gross, especially on top of sunblock. These stickers did a great job! The only person who got mosquito bites this trip was the hub. He probably should have worn these stickers on his legs.
  • Umbrella - The pediatrician advised us to take an umbrella to block the sun. This umbrella was clutch while we were on the beach. There weren't a lot of trees on the sand, and when you visit beaches near other resorts, you can't use their beach umbrellas. This one clamps on to just about anything. We clamped ours onto Zac's little pop-up chair. We stored it away in her stroller bag and checked it in during travel.
  • Go pro
  • Travel breast pump- I sometimes need to pump in the middle of the night when she sleeps longer than 8 hours. I didn't end up using this (or any of the baby bottle items below) on this trip at all because the time change messed up her sleep schedule. She slept less than 8 hours at night, and napped more in the day. I ended up nursing more frequently throughout the vacation.
  • Travel bottle brush kit
  • Breastmilk bags
  • 1 Baby bottle
  • Baby food- I had this on the list but ended up leaving it behind. She was still  just starting to be introduced to new foods and I didn't want to deal with having any allergic reactions while on vacation so I left the food behind.  

This list is just what we packed for Zachary. Leejay and I packed as lightly as we could for ourselves. We ended up with 2 paid check-in items (1 large luggage and 1  large duffel), 2 free check-in items (1 stroller and 1 carseat), 2 carry-ons (2 duffels), and 2 personal bags (1 backpack and 1 diaper bag).

Getting there

Parking at SFO can get pricey so we decided to take an Uber XL to the airport. Our flight left early in the morning so we made sure to call our driver once it was assigned to us to give him a heads up that we had a lot of luggage, a carseat, and a baby. He was extremely nice and very helpful when he arrived. Uber XL drivers are used to having to give rides in these situations and are very patient with passengers with multiple needs. 

We flew with Hawaiian Airlines and checked in using their kiosk (because they told us to). I have a love/hate relationship with check-in kiosks because they are great when you have nothing to check-in or if your check-in items are just straightforward. When you have what they call "special items" it can be a little more complicated if you haven't done it before. Make sure that when you choose your luggage types, to enter your stroller and carseat as special items. Then when it prints out the luggage tags, be sure to read the tags and put them on the appropriate bag. We didn't realize that the luggage tags had the type of item printed onto them. Luckily one of the workers pointed it out right as we were about to stick it on. Additionally, make sure to check your seat assignments. When we booked out flights, we paid extra to upgrade our seats for more room. We didn't check our seats on the kiosk because we had already received confirmation via email ahead of time. Apparently the planes had been upgraded recently and the seats we originally chose no longer existed so by default they just assigned us regular economy seats. We didn't realize this until we were already on the plane. We had to wait until almost everyone was seated to get our seats reassigned. Fortunately Zac was sound asleep in the Solly during all the seat chaos on the plane. All was well when they found available seats for us.

We thought it would be a good idea to do a "gate check" with our stroller so that we could use the stroller throughout the airport. This turned out being a bad idea and inconvenient in the end. We didn't know that you needed to pick up a gate-checked item at the gate again as you are walking off the plane. Our seats were very close to the front so we were one of the first people off the plane. When we didn't see our stroller we thought that maybe it would just be a baggage claim. We were wrong and some lady had to go and retrieve our stroller for us. Interestingly enough we weren't the only ones who did this. Some other first-time parents didn't wait for theirs either. Go figure! As it turned out, we didn't even really need the stroller throughout the airport since we just sat and waited to board.

We rented a car in Maui and retrieving your rental in Hawaii is never a fun process. You almost always need to take a shuttle to the rental car place and this can be difficult when you are coming with a lot of luggage. It's great to have a strong partner along to help with this (aka ALL THE BAGS). Again, shoutout to Poppa Leej!!

Being there

Vacation finally began when we got to our hotel. It was finally time to relax! We requested a crib to be delivered to our room. Hotel cribs are never the best but they do the job. If you have the space and strength to bring your own portable crib, Lulyboo or Dock-a-Tot, I'd recommend it. 

Like I said earlier, getting to Hawaii is more challenging than actually being there. We had so much fun eating food, visiting beaches and being poolside. Zac hated the beach and the san touching her skin. When we dipped her in the ocean she cried really hard. I don't think she liked the crashing of waves. She did love swimming in the pool, though! Every day stocked up our insulated picnic basket with stuff from the local markets and ventured throughout the island. Our days started early and ended early. We did our best to make the most out of our days and still attempt to keep Zachary on her regular sleep schedule. This was important to use because we knew that the time change might bite us in the butt when we returned home. Every Hawaii trip that we had been on prior to parenthood usually lasted only 3 to 4 days max but we made the most of it. When your days start at 7am and end at 7pm, being there for 7 days makes up for the evenings lost. At the end of it, I think 7 days was perfect for us. 

Getting home

Make sure to leave enough space in your luggage if you plan on bringing anything new home (like clothes, chocolate, yummy Hawaiian snacks). I thought I was going to have more space to bring stuff home because of the diapers I packed. It made sense to bring diapers to avoid paying the high price of diapers in Hawaii, but I ended up using less diapers than I thought and had to return with unused diapers taking up space in my luggage. 

The airport in Maui was extremely busy the day we left. Luckily we got to the airport 2 hours before boarding time so we didn't feel rushed. It's good to keep in mind that although you don't need to go through agriculture inspection from California to Hawaii, you will need to on the way home. This is in addition to the security line. We had forgotten that the agriculture inspection requires you to put your bag through x-ray multiple times and takes more time. Next time we'll be prepared! We had the same issue with our seats on the way home but we were able to get it changed at the gate prior to boarding. This made the trip home feel much less stressful.

When we got back to San Francisco, we took an Uber XL just like we did when on the way to Hawaii. There is something so nice about not having to get in your car and drive back home after a relaxing vacation. It makes it feel like the vacation is still going.

Jetlag

When we got home, we feared that Zac's sleep schedule would change drastically. Rightly so. When we first returned she wouldn't be asleep until 9 or 9:30 pm. It took about 5 days to get her to sleep closer to 7pm again. She did end up going through another growth spurt and started to sleep a little bit more. Currently she is sleeping at 7pm again and sleeping anywhere from 6-8 hours straight. 

This is the first of many big vacations with our daughter and I'm already excited for the next one. I don't know when and I don't know where, but I CAN'T WAIT!

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