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Besides packing up n getting ready to leave town, we were busy hosting a bunch of visitors this past week. One of the visiting families stayed with us and while it was pretty chaotic n hectic, it was also super fun. Thanks for the visit, guys. Missing all the action and cuteness already! But yes I’m now ready to crash and enjoy the peace and quiet. 🙂

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This was where we spent last Saturday: at the Kits Beach. The Kits pool also opened for the summer session that day and my gosh is that pool huge.

We have been extremely busy wrapping up our stay here. On the weekend we also had friends over for dinner, and this week is full of hosting friends from the US. We have about 10 days left in this town. Have I already mentioned how sad I am to leave??

Anyway…so the topic at last week’s mother’s group was about taking care of ourselves. And the questions posed to us to share were: what is one big challenge you’ve faced since becoming a mom and what is one thing you do to take care of you. I was floored by how many women found breastfeeding challenging. Sure they were of varying degrees of challenges some has full on thrush and mastitis and some cracked nipples…some shared their disappointment with being unable to breastfeed. I feel like we have become so obsessed with this issue and more and more so in recent years.

I also shared other challenges I think for me aside from breastfeeding, my biggest one was watching benji go through the weepy stage of eczema and feeling helpless when I couldn’t do anything to alleviate his itch.

Other challenges will also be rebuilding my relationship with Bry (and yes sex included. I won’t lie but shan’ elaborate further too but it’s been challenging. Am I the only one?) finding time to read and be intellectually stimulated, spending time to read my Bible and pray for friends and family, phoning up and catching up with friends, plus the usual sleep deprivation.

Speaking of which, right at this moment my biggest challenge is dealing with HIS GROWTH SPURT. It has got to be the biggest one to date. He is feeding like he has never before. Even during the early days he didn’t feed like that: once ever 2.5 hours in the night. On the one and I’m glad because we are working on his weight gain having dropped to the 10th percentile…on the other hand I miss the months where he treated us by sleeping through the night! 🙂

It will pass soon. I hope. Especially since we are gonna have a full house for the next 6 days with two extra adults and two toddlers in a tiny house.

And how do I look after myself?? Go out to meet other moms or friends…and shop. Whether it’s shopping for others or me, I find it cathartic. Oh that and indulging in some dark chocolate coconut ice cream I just discovered to be amazing (brand: Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss) from Whole Foods.

To moms reading: what has Ben your greatest or one of the bigger challenges since becoming a mom? And what do you do to look after yourselves?

PS my Internet connection is still iffy so the next post might not be for awhile!

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Spring has really kicked in here in Vancouver! I went out shopping a couple days ago and got this pretty scarf from H&M (only CAD15!) and decided to brighten up my all black outfit today with it. The sparkly blue swarovski earrings I got from my sister’s just opened Etsy shop ButterGems were quite a good match to the yellow, IMHO!

I wrote in a previous post about how motherhood has opened up conversations with strangers I would otherwise never have, and almost everyday of this week that we’ve been out, I felt like the whole world wanted to talk to me…first about my baby, then about their lives (everyone wants to talk about themselves ultimately, right?). In the last few days, I had a guy – a student – from the Middle East tell me at length about his family that comprised of 10 brothers and 4 sisters and how much he loves children. I was alone at a food court and was in the midst of nursing Benji when this guy who was also alone plonked himself on the seat diagonally across from me. Totally awkward because there were SO many other seats he could’ve picked. Why across from me??! Of course he probably didn’t realize I was nursing until after he sat down. And maybe he started talking to me to vaporize any awkwardness. Anyhow, so I learned about his 10 brothers, 4 sisters, and uncountable numbers of nephews and nieces, and how one of his sisters has an intellectual disability. Which spoke straight to my Speech-Language Pathologist’s heart since I work a lot with that population.

Today, a older guy, probably in his 60s, came up and told me how much he loves children and then another lady, in her 80s tell me the same thing. And the ultimate conversation was with a 72 year old man (he told me his age) on the bus who said he was born in 1933, has 8 children, and carried everyone of them because they didn’t have strollers back then. He also proceeded to say our generation is producing weaklings with all these accessories such as strollers (really?!), and continued to brag about his fitness level and how he at 60 became a fitness instructor and at 70 took karate lessons and holds a level 2 black belt (or something like that). Fascinating. He was a sweet old man tho. I love hearing old people’s stories. There were so many others before these I need to start cataloging them.

It’s really amazing how a little baby in a stroller can open up so many hearts. Loving it! Mommies our there: what are some of the craziest stories you’ve heard from random strangers??

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Yesterday I added yet another item to my “safe foods” list. I have been on the Dr Sear’s total elimination diet for almost 3 weeks now since Benji was diagnosed with eczema last month and had flare ups so bad the sides of his face started weeping for at least 3 weeks.

Doctors we visited (at least 5) said a diet change wasn’t going to work because they claimed his eczema was not triggered by food allergies but that it was simply hereditary (I had asthmatic bronchitis as a kid n my brother had eczema when he was young; his rashes were triggered by consumptions of cheese n beef).

Desperate, I still did this diet anyway because of so many success stories I had read on forums and from friends. The first two weeks I had only rice milk, turkey, chicken, rice, quinoa, pears n apples. And the only seasoning allowed were olive oil, salt n pepper.

Then we went to Seattle and this diet became unrealistic to follow. We couldn’t really eat anywhere! I ended up adding salmon, edamame (soy), coconut, cilantro, and scallions which all turned out to be safe foods for him. WHEW. I have since added sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, and last night, organic tomato based pasta sauce which all seemed okay for him. The one time I had miso soup, which I now learned contains wheat and possibly MSG, we saw bumps around Benji’s eyes almost immediately. I’m  not sure if it’s the wheat or the MSG or just pure coincidence but that put me off trying wheat or miso soup again anytime soon.

Today I bought some tofu and tomatoes…and am planning on trying out more soy products to test the waters soon.

Meanwhile Benji’s skin has been really good (with the exception of the flare up after the miso soup which was very minor compared to what it was before). People who saw him a month ago and saw him again this week when I started taking him out to activities again all commented what a vast improvement he has made. We are so grateful.

But I won’t lie: I MISS BEING ABLE TO EAT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. Most of all, I miss my sweets: chocolates, cakes, desserts, and bread. Ugh, it kills me somedays when I walk past bakeries and can’t get anything. OH, well, sacrifices have to be made…this is part of the job description right?

Since we’ve moved here, I’ve been able to get into a pretty good routine with Benji, where we try to do something everyday outside. It’s not always easy because some mornings I’m exhausted as well, I take it upon myself to do most of the household chores and cooking (Even though Bry contributes lots, too!). Also, Benji is not at that stage where he’s really able to play independently so that means whenever he’s awake (which is A LOT of the time), I am pretty much busy entertaining him. How then, do I get other things done? I think the key is being organized.

When Benji takes his morning nap, or settling himself to sleep, I try to get chores done around the house. For example, this morning, I put the laundry in, and started making part of my lunch because I know Benji is usually awake during my lunchtime, so I have less time to prepare it then. (And being a nursing mom, I want to make especially sure I’m still eating well). When he’s asleep, I also try to catch up on blogging, reading the bible, news, putting away toys, making the bed, and also getting myself dressed for the day. Because he only takes a short 30min-45min nap now, I don’t get any chance to nap which is fine since I’m most energetic in the mornings.

Later in the afternoon is when it gets a bit tricky. Today, because Benji’s skin is still looking a bit rough, we are going to stay at home. After his lunchtime feed, I try to spend about an hour reading him a couple books, and talking to him. I might also do some tummy time and bumbo time with him. Then, I hope he’ll get another 15-20 min nap in during the afternoon and leave him alone for about 1 hour…for me to catch up on reading or prepping dinner. When he naps, I might squeeze in a short 15 min nap as well. Then it’s feeding time.

Then dad comes home, and I’m able to prepare dinner while he plays with Benji. This day is almost over…after our dinner, I feed Benji and we put him to bed. WHEW. And another day is OVERRRR.

When we have activities outside the home, I find it less strenuous actually, because Benji is able to nap more when in the stroller of Baby Bjorn.

I know things will get a lot easier when he starts to be less dependent on me for “entertainment” and is able to play with his toys by himself. But until then, I find it difficult to catch up on other things I enjoyed such as reading. I am going to try to include exercise into my day because at week 14, I’m ready to start getting back into shape!

How do you moms of little newborns schedule your day??? Especially if you’re not going out??

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Got to fold and keep away Benji’s clothes

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We really enjoy reading Sara’s books together

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And…I can only have time to write this post because this guy is sleeping like an angel!!

We woke up to some light snow on the city that was enough to accumulate on the ground (unlike the one we had a few days ago that was awesome but too warm for snow to collect). To most people, this is nothing, but to someone who grew up in a tropical country and went to overseas colleges and grad school in warmer climates like Australia and Southern California, this is pretty special!!

I quickly nursed Benji and immediately after that, the three of us took a short walk up the down the block to soak in the winter atmosphere in our neighborhood before it disappeared (and it did, about 2 hours later).

Wonder what other surprises February 29th will bring…

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Part I: Welcome to the club. My new (additional) identity – Mom.

Motherhood is definitely a completely different world to the regular one. It’s highly exclusive and can really suck you in and wrap you up so tightly, you could very easily lose track of what’s going on in the normal people’s reality. This club also seems to get a lot of approval from other people: strangers who offer their congratulatory messages and compliments about our babies, or the people who chat to us about simply how awesome our babies are, and other women – mostly older ones – who give us nice, genial smiles as they pass us by, as if we moms were some local heroine.  Of course, we are somewhat of a champ when you think about what we had to go through to have our babies, but it’s funny that all of a sudden, the world becomes much friendlier to you when you have a little one in tow. Other moms who pass you by look at your little one in the stroller, and give you the smile and nod of approval, as if to say, “well done, sister, you’re one of us now.”

AND, I love it! I love being part of this club and getting those approval looks, and chatting with random people about motherhood.

However, I remember being out a couple times sans little Benji, and suddenly the affable people were nowhere to be found. Nobody smiled at me on the bus; even the driver did not seem particularly interested in me. It felt weird, for I have been treated first class ever since we moved here to Canada. I felt somewhat uneasy, and almost insecure that Benji – my pride and joy – wasn’t there to “boost” my ego. Before becoming a mom, I would hear stories of the overbearing mom who constantly fussed over their kids, or the overly anxious mom who had trouble leaving their children for a day, and think: that would never be me. These moms need to learn to get their own lives. And here I am, only 2.5 months into this business, feeling quite lost just a few hours without my little guy!

Mommyhood can wrap you up so tightly, you forget your other identities, and have trouble simply being YOU. I have certainly gotten lost in this wave a few times. I hope God will always remind me that I am first and foremost His child, and that being a mom is just one of the many ways God wants me to serve Him. Apart from being a mom, I’m also a wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, work colleague, neighbor, etc. I need to still be the best of the other “people” I can be. And instead of being overwhelmed with pride about our baby (which I am and should be), I need to convert that all to humility and gratefulness that we have an adorable son. Instead of simply thinking “yes, he is the cutest!” I should add that “and yes, I am so blessed. God has been amazing to us.”

Having said that, though, it really is hard to detach yourself from the giddiness of being a mom where everyone is constantly paying you/your baby compliments and when you look at your newborn and think the world of him/her. Maybe it gets easier as the years go by, especially when they turn into unbearable adolescent monsters and nobody (me included) will be telling you how awesome your child is anymore.