Monday, September 18, 2017

Dear Daughter - Letter to first born prior to sibling being born - by Jenny Studenroth (littleknotheads)

Hi all,
Happy Monday.

Wanted to share a blog post by littleknotheads I read recently that brought tears to my eyes. So many words reverberated with me, especially when I think back to being pregnant with my second child. This is a letter from the mama to her first born daughter before her second daughter was born.

Here are a few excepts:

"As you climb up into my lap these days, barely able to fit on the disappointing amount of thigh space the baby bump leaves you, I am achingly aware that our time is running out. Your dad and I are so excited to be growing a family and giving you the sibling you so need and deserve, but the transition won’t be easy. Especially for you. . . . It’s hard to believe in mere weeks, you’ll be the big sister."

I remember the last few months of pregnancy and thinking, we are now going to have to split our time and our precious daughter will not have our full 100% attention anymore. I felt so sad about this and definitely tried to make the most of our time together - mommy and daughter ice cream dates and art projects and going on whatever weekend adventures we could. We even did Disneyland again a few days before Emerson was born. :)

"I want you to know how special this time has been with just us two. We’ve taken adventures together that I will remember all my life. I doubt much of these couple years will surface in your own memories as you grow, but that’s why I take so many pictures. And I will remind you over the years."

I am guilty of taking too many pictures, but I can't say enough about taking more videos. Your little ones change so much, particularly their little voices. I want to always remember what my 1.5 year old melody sounded like, vs 2, vs. 2.5 years. I enjoy going back to these videos so much and it brings me so much joy to be able to relive these adorable moments. I also love looking back to Melody at Emerson's age currently to hear what she sounded like and oftentimes, they said things almost exactly the same. Makes your heart melt for sure. 

"Your sibling(s) will look up to you for your strength and fearlessness, and I will always look back on our first two-plus years as such an intensely joyful learning experience."

For us, it is your sibling, not siblings ;), but I know that Emerson will always look up to his big sister for her strength, character and guidance. She is such an amazing, awesome and caring big sister. 

Please go and read Jenny's whole letter here. It's a good one. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

How to select a pediatrician for your new baby

As a first time parent, 4 years ago, we did extensive research on selecting a pediatrician for our baby.

We were provided a list of pediatricians from my ob/gyn. From there, I called each office and asked some basic questions.

1) Is there someone who can answer your medical questions 24/7 via phone or email? And is this service free of charge? And is there a limit on how many times you can call? Our pediatrician office fields calls after hours and if it's urgent and you need a call back immediately, they will get back to you within 1 hour. If it is less urgent, they will call you back within a few hours. At any time of day. For no additional charge. I can't tell you how helpful this was in the first year for both my babies. We had questions about fevers, coughs, rashes, hives, uti's, etc.

2) Is there a separate sick baby entrance from the well baby entrance? This is important because kids you don't want to take your child to the pediatricians office only to have them fall ill from another child in the waiting room.

3) Do they accept your insurance? Are they accepting new patients?

4) Is there parking? Do you validate?

5) Do they offer same day appointments if your child is ill? Do they offer weekend appointments? If not, is there an urgent care nearby they would recommend? We have found that seeing our own pediatrician or a pediatrician in the same practice/office has been more valuable than going to urgent care. The last few times at urgent care, we saw a medical assistant, which I felt wasn't as helpful or as insightful as our own pediatrician's office.

6) Where did the pediatrician go to school and where did they do their training? Is the pediatrician a parent? How long has the pediatrician been practicing? How many pediatricians are in the office?

7) How far is the office from where you live?

8) Are they affiliated with the hospital you are delivering at? If not, you can alway still see this pediatrician and see the attending pediatrician at the hospital when you deliver. What hospital are they affiliated with?

9) If the phone call is to your satisfaction and all of your criteria is checked off, then schedule an in person interview and see how you feel when you meet the pediatrician in person. Do you prefer someone that is more warm and fuzzy, or someone that is to the point?

10) Are the office staff nice and helpful?

Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Ultimate Baby Items Guide: Nursing essentials for the new mama

Hi there! Thank you for stopping by.
Here are my tips for some mama/nursing essentials including bottle feeding.
Take a breastfeeding class - if you only take one class, take this one. We took our class at the Pump Station. I also recommend infant CPR, we took this class at the local hospital.
Pump: call insurance to get your pump prior to delivering. I have seen that they are delivering them much earlier now, maybe even 2-3 months prior to the baby arriving. I used the Medela advanced pump in style, backpack and had good experiences with that. I was able to use my pump from 4 years ago as a second pump to leave at work. it was a life saver to not have to carry it back and forth everyday.
At the hospital - ask for a belly binder before you leave. this will help you tummy stay tucked and helps your belly shrink back. I wore mine 24/7 for the first 4 weeks after delivery. I did have a c-section though.
Take some silhouette photos a few days or weeks prior to delivery/due date. They are easy to do with your iphone. I used this tutorial from white house black shutters blog.
tummy butter for mommy while preggo (to reduce stretch marks) i like the smell of this one and it felt nice to rub it on my preggo belly.
Pump Parts: A few tips regarding pump parts: 
1) (Pre-baby) When you have your baby, while at the hospital - ask to pump (you will get all of the pumping parts for "free" and trust me, if you are pumping, you will want all of the extra parts you can get.
2) When pumping at work or at home, refrigerate the parts in a clean ziploc bag between pumpings at during the day. Wash at the end of the day (sometimes I didn't wash until after the 2nd day).
3) have a big bucket with dishwasher liquid water and soak your pump parts prior to washing. this will make it easier to wash. we use seventh general free and clear dishwasher liquid. i like it because it has no smell and feels clean.
For after baby arrives:
Nursing pillow – bring this to the hospital. I used the luna lullaby - it feels soft and comfy, but might be a little too soft for some and might get too hot for some, but i liked mine. I liked the luna lullaby better than my brest friend (i found this a bit a bulky and hard to maneuver) and the the boppy. this is personal preference, maybe stop by a store to try them out.
Freemie for pumping has been a lifesaver at work – use this with my medela pump and go advanced pump. it's nice to be able to slip the cups into certain shirts and pump without the flanges sticking out. sometimes i wasn't sure if i pumped less using the freemie though, but overall i was happy with this purchase. I used it for a year and 4 months.
Lansinoh nursing pads you will likely leak a lot during the first few months if you are breastfeeding. therefore nursing pads are a must. carry extras with you just in case.
Motherlove nipple cream – bring this to the hospital. apply to nipples if you feel chapped or if it hurts. this is ok for the baby to eat, you do not need to clean it off before feeding.
pumping hands free bra if you aren't using the freemie and you are pumping, you must get a hands free pumping bra. some people are able to cut slits into old sports bras and makeshift their own. i used this and it was rather easy to use.
Mother’s milk tea to help breastmilk production. this has a strong herbal taste. if you want you can add cream to it and some honey and that makes it taste a bit better.
Nursing bra – I lived in those.
Nursing tank tops - my favorite one was from muji that i got in japan. however, second favorite would be from h&m. these from amazon look comfortable but i haven't tried them. target also has a selection as well.
Cloth nursing pads – good for later on (6+ months) when you aren’t leaking so much.
Haakka  - collects milk on one breast while you nurse on the other side. I haven’t used this but I heard it works great. I didn’t know about it when I was nursing early on, otherwise I would have tried it.

dr brown bottles - lavender - we had good luck with the dr brown bottles. no gas issues for both my babies. we bought lavender bottles because i love lavender but found it was easy for the daycare to identify their bottles because they were different from everyone else's clear bottles. so, i highly recommend buying a different color bottle to easily differentiate your child's bottles for the teachers.
bottle brush

bottle drying rack - we have this one and it lasted us through two kids so far. will be handing it down to a friend.

Lawn drying rack - this is the bigger one. the grass is the smaller one. we used both the bottle drying rack above and the lawn drying rack. sometimes both would be completely full of pump parts and bottles to dry.
on the go drying rack this was perfect for weekend trips or longer trips. bottle drying rack with a brush. tip: fill a medela 2.5 ounce storage container with dishwashing liquid to take with you on the go.
medela hand pump was great for on the go or for long car rides or for extended periods of time when you couldn't nurse or get to your electric pump.

hot water dispenser - highly recommend this. we use this to warm the bottles as well as to make coffee, tea, instant noodles, etc.

bottle warmer - none needed. we used the hot water dispenser to fill a cup full of hot water to warm the bottle

bottle transporter - we use the tokidoki fuel cell - i bought mine off ebay because the tokidoki site didn't have the exact print i wanted. they are super cute and they will hold three 8 ounce dr brown bottles or maybe 4? and also they hold 4 regular water bottles. we use this for disneyland or for day trips in addition to everyday at daycare.

Thanks for reading. Please leave any comments or questions. (please note: affiliate links are on certain links).


Sunday, September 10, 2017

the ultimate baby items guide from a mama of 2: Part 1 - Strollers and Car seats

Hi everyone!
It's been almost 5 years since I've posted on my blog. Since then I've been busy learning to be a mama of two, one 4 year old girl and one 1.5 year old boy. I've decided to refocus my blogging efforts on my new realm of expertise - being a mama. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting my ultimate baby items guide, now that I am a mama of 2.

I am often asked to provide recommendations on my favorite baby products. Since I am the type to do extensive research and exhaust all options, I have listed here, my ultimate list of my favorite baby items. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
This is an extremely long list so i will be doing this in parts. Part 1 is stroller and car seats

Some general notes.
Baby bargains is a great resource – good safety ratings and reviews.

 Reference for safety of baby toiletries/sunscreen etc.

 Register at Amazon, Target, PB kids. They give you a completion discount
so if you do want to purchase something you didn’t get, at least you get a

Albee baby is tax free for those of us in California (located in NY). This is where we bought our stroller, car seats and other bigger items.

Uppababy cruz stroller: for everyday stroller (disneyland too)
Melody is 4 and still loves to sit in it. Things we love about it besides how pretty it looks for a stroller - it's easy to fold up, has a huge basket, offers a smooth ride, has an adapter for a chicco carseat.

Uppababy vista - this is a larger stroller and offers a double stroller option. Those who want to have kids close in age often choose this one over the cruz.

Stroller accessories:
Stroller caddy for drinks – this fits great on the uppababy cruz. it's less expensive than the uppababy one. the caddy can hold two drinks although you might want to stuff some towels at the bottom because the drink pockets are very deep. it's very hard to steer stroller while holding drinks with no cupholder.

adapter for a chicco carseat - we used our uppababy cruz with the adapter for the carseat from the beginning. that way we saved money and didn't have to invest in another stroller.

piggyback skateboard - If you have a second baby, our toddler daughter loves to stand on the piggyback skateboard.

mommy hook - to hang your purse, milk bag, shopping bags, anything really. a good strong hook.

Lightweight Stroller:
Uppababy Gluxe Umbrella Stroller (lighter weight) –  – this is perfect for travelling and
side trips. It lays down pretty flat so when we took Melody to Taiwan (she was under 2), she napped very well in the stroller. It’s also lightweight and has a decent size basket for a lightweight

Babyzen yoyo stroller - another lightweight option - haven't tried it but have heard great things.

Double strollers:
We currently don't own one yet but since we will be travelling abroad soon, we will likely invest in one soon. We are currently looking into the Zoe stroller that is 16 pounds and looks rather easy to travel with and comfortable.

We have also looked at the uppababy glink but we haven't tested it out. Will need to report back on this one.

Uppababy vista also offers a double stroller option for an infant and a toddler.

~Car seat~
chicco keyfit 30 not convertible. You will get a convertible later. this is rated high for safety (baby bargains book) and it’s adaptable for the cruz stroller.
Go to local firestation and have them check your installation. Middle seat in the back is safest.

Convertible car seat – Chicco nextfit we like. Straps are a bit easier to adjust. We also have maxi cosi 85 but we like the nextfit more. We also have the peg perego viaggio – (straps are also not as easy to adjust as the nextfit).

Alright, going to sleep while my babies sleep.

Let me know if there is any topics you would like me to post about first.

Will post more soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012


From beautiful Maui. A photo of our little oasis for the next few days: our private beach and veranda.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

love this adorable comfy french chemise by aliceaparis. now that i have a lil niece, avery (and nephew!) i have an excuse to shop for these tres mignon items.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

'til next time istanbul

It's been a lovely few days. Lots of delicious food and exploring old streets and sites. Could have used a few more days of relaxing at a cafe by the Bosporus.

Not looking forward to the 24 hour travel day tmrw. Had a wonderful trip but looking forward to getting home and seeing my family and Wolfie. :)

A few more pics . . .

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ayasofya wow! And some good eats

I understand them now. Those of you whom, when asked about Istanbul, gush about how much you love the city.

It is a beautiful city, full of charm and character. The Turkish people are friendly. The kids especially. The business men (carpet and ceramic sellers) are very smart, using a befriending tactic. All very nice, despite their motives.

The mezzes are delicious, including many eggplant and tomato dishes, rice wrapped in grape leaves, cold seabass amd onions, cold octopus, grilled octopus. The seafood is so fresh and wonderful, straight from the Bosporus.

The ayasofya I am not sure how to describe. It is quite unassuming from the outside but once you stepped inside you are transported to another place and time. I was speechless and could stop staring. Just exquisite.

For some reason the grade school kids here have been coming up to me and asking to take photos with me. It's very cute so I have taken many photos with Turkish kids. They all seem a bit shy to ask and then once one person asks, they all want a photo. Mostly girls, fewer boys. Very fun.

Last night we went to the 360 club for some beers and trancing! Rich dancing! Only took 2 glasses of wine and 2 beers ;) What fun it was on a rooftop bar with a 360 view of the city. Fireworks lit up the sky too!

Ok off to dinner and another enchanting evening in Istanbul.

Görüşmek üzere (see you later)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Güle güle Cappadocia

More trekking through underground cities with trap holes and stone one-way doors, 4000 year old cave playhouse/jungle gyms, hiking in the beautiful valleys and mountainside, exploring little Greek villages (yes in turkey) and ending the day with a massage and relaxation at the Hamam. What a perfect way to end our stay in cappadocia. :)

Looking forward to Istanbul tmrw!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


We are in a mystical dreamy land of fairy chimneys, cave churches and homes and over 200 underground cities.

Yesterday we explored huge rock church caves with frescoes and paintings inside.

Rich climbed up 3 story rock houses where people used to live (I only made it up 2). See photo of rich in orange shirt.

This morning we woke up at 4am to go on a hot air balloon ride. It was quite windy, so we were lucky as we were one of the 2 of the 5 balloons in our group that flew. We flew over many pretty valleys and saw many other balloons too.

We then visited a large, intricate underground city where they used to hide for over a month. They had 8 levels underground with stables, wineries, churches, kitchens, etc. They has tiny small tunnels and one way stone doors to prevent intruders. It was quite claustrophobic.

We also stopped by a pottery shop where they make beautiful pottery. Lucky for rich, I only took a photo. ;)

Ps ghostrider2 was filmed here. Guess we will rent it when we get back.

Afrodosias and Pamukkale

Two more beautiful sites in Turkey. We drive over 7 hours in one day, but it was worth it.

After Afrodosias (2 hrs from selcuk) we were feeling ambitious and adventurous and decided to trek on 1.5 hrs to pamukkale.

We arrived around 7 pm and asked if it was open. "open 24 hrs" said the guy.

We hiked 1.5 miles and finally arrived at the beautiful white tide pools. As we were wading through the warm water, it started to sprinkle and soon thereafter it started to rain and then it began to pour cats and dogs.

Of course it would rain on rich (Charlie brown) :) we hiked all the way back in the dark and pouring rain.

Thank goodness for the iPhone flashlight, singing in the rain and the dog who lived in pamukkale. The dog sort of led us back to the entrance (because there were no lights to guide us back) and then tried to go home with us.

Efes (Ephesus)

Wanted to share a few pics from a few days in efes. Natureland efes (a retreat) sort of reminds me of carmel valley, Turkish sunset and the library of celsus at efes. A tremendous amount of history in this region.

Avery building at Columbia

I may be partial since my niece to be may be named Avery, but this building at Columbia is a great work of architecture. They just don't make them like this anymore.