Emma’s Faves (2 Years, 2 Months)

Sorry this is a little late! Here’s what Emma was loving this past month:

Ravensburger My First Puzzle (Adorable Animals) – I’m really trying to get Emma into puzzles as a I heard it’s good for brain development. She seems to struggle with jigsaw puzzles though so I thought this beginner set would be good practice. Luckily she instantly loved this and is able to do it pretty easily!! She still sometimes struggles with fitting the pieces together but it’s great practice for her fine motor skills. I highly recommend this if you are looking to introduce jigsaw puzzles to your little ones!

H&M Strawberry Jersey Dress – Can you believe these dresses are only $5? Emma loves the strawberry one so much that we bought her 2 more in different prints. These are so comfortable and easy to wear…wish they had them in my size!

Elmo Goodnight Stories Musical Lullaby – this book was a hand me down from my sister’s kids but Emma loves it! She makes me read it to her every night. Its comprised of a bunch of short stories that each include a lullaby. It also has a button you can press that plays Brahms Lullaby song that Emma loves to press while I sing.

Green Toys Tea Set – We got this set from a friend and both Emma and I love it because you can use real drinks and food with it! It also lets Emma practice pouring. So fun!

Tea party!

Little Bunny Series Seek and Finds – These seek and find coloring sheets are a big hit with Emma. She loves finding the objects and gets so excited when she finds them. The best part? It’s free!


Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – We’ve been trying to keep Emma from watching too much Caillou and this has quickly become her new favorite. I also love this show and the lessons Emma learns from it…ranging anywhere from trying new foods, going to the DR, and having a babysitter. The songs always get stuck in my head though!

Watermelon – summer means tasty and fresh watermelon! One of Emma’s favorite fruits. We also love drinking watermelon juice

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Things To Do This Summer: Concerts In The Park (Huntington Beach)

Hopefully I’ll be posting more to this series as summer goes on and partaking in some of these events after I finish my 1 month rest after the baby (it’s a traditional asian thing enforced by my mom :P).

I am always looking for fun things to do outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful weather we have here in socal. One thing kids love (at least mine) is MUSIC! So what better way to enjoy the summer than to take the kids to an outdoor concert in the park. It turns out the Huntington Beach Central Library puts on a summer concert series. It is located behind the library at 7111 Talbert Avenue – Corner of Goldenwest and Talbert. It’s every Sunday at 5pm. Here is the remaining schedule:

July 13 Golden State British Brass & Emerald Society Bagpipes ♫ Brass and Bagpipes create a Celtic Sunday

July 20 Moonlight Express ♫ 1940’s style Big Band

July 27 Wise Guys ♫ Blend of swing, jazz and big band music for all

August 3 Huntington Beach Concert Band ♫ Side-by-Side Concert with outstanding local high school musicians joining in a program of popular marches and melodies

August 10 Henebry’s 1920’s Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra ♫ Original musical sounds of the Golden Age of Radio with Flapper Vocalist Ginger Pauley

August 17 Covina Concert Band ♫ Popular show tunes, marches and more

August 24 Bob DeSena ♫ Exciting Latin jazz and fiery rhythms in the legendary tradition of Tito Puente and Cal Tjader

August 31 Mike Henebry Orchestra ♫ Internationally acclaimed orchestra authentically recreating music of the famous Big Bands of the Swing Era

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Camping With Kids

I have been daydreaming about the day that I can take the kiddos camping. The funny thing is I am not even that big of a camper or a roughin’ it type girl…but for some reason I just can’t wait to introduce the kids to the outdoors, sleeping in tents, hiking, and eating campfire food. The husband and I used to go on an annual camping trip with our friends…but we stopped after everybody started having kids…but I know once the kids are a little older we are going to start them back up again but this time with kids! I love that our kids have all of these other kids to play with and create special camping memories with too!

Anyways, I thought I would share some of the useful things I have bookmarked about camping with kids which I am sure is a whole other ballgame and probably more work than I am imagining. 😛

First off the tent. I just recently found out you can buy tents with dividers! This is great if you have more than 1 kid and they need privacy for naps or at bedtime. I was scouring Amazon and found this one that seems decently priced and highly rated:

I will also probably invest in an air mattress or some type of padding to sleep on for the kids. People also recommend sleeping in the tent in your backyard first to get your kids familiar with sleeping somewhere than their own bed.

Places to camp:
I’ve been hearing a lot about KOA campsites. They are catered towards families and are located all around the US. They have campsites but also cabins and space for RVs. They usually have a playground, laundry and bathroom facilities, a little store, and even wifi! It might be a good way to ease your kids into camping. Also, check out these unique camping options that some of the KOA sites offer…like yurts, teepees, airstreams, and treehouses!

Most likely we will probably try our first camping experience someplace nearby, but ideally I would love to visit some of the national parks in the future!

Camp food:
This is probably the part I am most nervous about since kids can be picky eaters and I just know it will be hard to get the kids to eat a balanced meal while camping. But then again, camping is probably going to be just a 1-2 night adventure so it’s ok to have a pass on eating healthy for a few days right? 😛 Anyways, here are some campfire recipes I have bookmarked that I can’t wait to try!

Canned biscuit campfire donuts
Homemade instant oatmeal packets – if you use instant rolled oats, you can just add boiling water and you have oatmeal ready!
campurritos – breakfast burritos!
sweet potato apple hash – this also has other recipes and meal ideas for eating paleo while you camp!

Grilled pasta packets – love this!
9 delicious and easy foil packet dinners
Pig in a blanket
chicks on sticks (chicken kebabs)
potato boat dinner
perfect picnic sandwich

Campfire spinach dip
Good salad suggestions for camping
bocce pasta salad
Campfire popcorn

5 around the campfire desserts
Strawberry smores

Aside from hiking, some other fun games or things you can do with the kids
Camping charades
Camping activity bags
best camping activities for kids

Tips for camping with young kids:
Hellobee’s tips
8 tips for camping with kids
25 camping hacks for kids

So did I get you excited about camping with kids yet??? 🙂

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Sneaky Veggie Recipes For Toddlers

Sigh…it’s been one of those days where I don’t think Emma had a single serving of vegetables and I feel so guilty as a parent! The past 2 weeks I gave myself a pass on cooking which included cooking for Emma. We’ve been depending on grandma a lot but most days she has been spending with us and unless I make an effort to make one of my sneaky veggie recipes…Emma doesn’t eat any. Unlike fruits which all I have to do is cut up and she will devour…she refuses to eat raw veggies and hates dips of all kinds. So I thought I would make a roundup of veggie recipes that Emma likes and also a list of recipes I’ve been meaning to try with her to get me inspired to cook for her again! BTW, you’ll notice a lot of noodle/pasta recipes because she loves those. And also anything hidden in a bread/cake/muffin.

Tried and true veggie recipes (according to Emma)
Oven baked sweet potatoes (we usually use paprika)
spinach or kale pesto with pasta
hidden veggie pizza/pasta sauce
peanut butter noodles with broccoli
spring rolls
chicken, spinach, and bow tie pasta salad
fruit and veggie muffins
cold soba noodle salad

Recipes I want to try
Carrot Snack Sticks
ham and split pea soup
spinach avocado pasta
veggie pancakes
fruit and veggie pops
fried vermicelli noodles
spinach cheddar chive scones
20 minute miso noodle bowls
kiwi spinach fruit leather
cabbage and noodles with bacon
bright green smoothie – we haven’t had much luck with green smoothies but this one seems very fruity so it might pass the Emma Test
zucchini, carrot, oatmeal cookies
korean vegetable pancakes
veggie cream cheese spread – emma loves bagels with cream cheese…wonder if she’ll notice if I sneak some veggies in there?
bacon lettuce and tomato spring rolls

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Recovery and Adjusting To Life With Two

This labor, delivery, and recovery has been so great compared to last time. It’s only been about a week since I gave birth to Max and I almost feel 100%! Last time it took me weeks to feel somewhat back to normal. Overall, everything has been easier. Last time we were so worried about everything: jaundice, breastfeeding, getting Emma back to her birth weight, learning how to soothe a baby, how to swaddle and change a diaper, etc. This time Max has NO jaundice! His weight has been on track (even though I personally feel like he still needs to gain more weight!!), breastfeeding has been a breeze and actually hasn’t even been painful at all! Max has a great latch. He is also, in general, a much easier baby than Emma was. All he does is sleep, and when he’s awake he’s content to just lay there and observe the world. Emma never just laid there…if she was awake, she always wanted to be picked up! If Max cries, it’s because of one thing…he’s hungry! And feeding him is all it takes to make him happy again. It might be still too early to say, but Max is pretty easy!!

The only problems we’ve had with him have been diaper leaks. For a few days I was going through his whole wardrobe in one day because I had to change his outfit so often! We tried different brand diapers and finally settled on some Huggies in preemie size. This has cut down on his leaks a lot….now he only leaks once or twice a day. We are still getting used to changing a boy’s diaper. Honestly, changing a girl’s diaper is infinitely easier!!

A few things I am doing differently this time is not feeling guilty about supplementing with formula and using a bottle with Emma. We had such a hard time getting Emma to use a bottle that we are all traumatized. So far Max has had no nipple confusion and has been eating like a champ. We couldn’t ask for more.

I think so far, the hardest part of adjusting to life with two has honestly been Emma. She is going through her terrible twos and fighting her naps which makes for a tired, cranky kid sometimes. Also, since she is used to sleeping with me at night sometimes she wakes up now looking for me and gets upset if I am not there. She has also been waking up a lot earlier because she is looking for me in the morning too! We used to have a great sleeper and it all went downhill in the past few weeks. But luckily since Max has been so easy, we are able to tend to her a little more.

And now for some pics of Max!


First car ride – he slept like a baby of course

For awhile, the last thing I was was calm when changing him!!!

Love how chill this baby is

And a few pics of Emma whose new favorite hobby is blowing bubbles. Love her cheeks!


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Emma Meets Max

The days leading up to Max’s birth I was super nervous about how Emma was going to react to Max. She is a total momma’s girl and I wasn’t sure how she would like having to share my attention! Luckily, I had nothing to worry about…Emma loves Max! It’s actually really sweet and heartwarming to witness. I credit her willingness to be a big sister because of all of her cousins and how much fun she has with them. I have always said she is the most social, shy kid ever! She loves other kids, it just takes her awhile to warm up. But once she gets used to you, she has no problem actually even leaving us and going off on her own. She has even asked if she can spend the night at her cousins’s house before! She definitely prefers to be around a lot of kids…so I’m glad we were able to give her a sibling at least.

Emma first met Max in the hospital. It was kind of a rocky first start but turns out the hospital setting just scared her a lot. She was even scared to get near me! I think because I was laying in the big hospital bed with a hospital gown on. It took her awhile to even sit on the bed and even when we got her on there she was itching to get off.

You can see some of her curiosity shining through in these pics.




After all of our hashing back and forth on what to get Emma as her present from Max…we settled on a Lightning McQueen tshirt and flashlight. Even though she’s never even seen Cars…she loves Lightning McQueen (her best friend and cousin’s influence). It was a hit!



I had to stay at the hospital another day after that, so when we finally came home we went to grandma’s house to pick up Emma. When we got there she was super excited to see “baby Max”. She started singing Happy Birthday to Max out of nowhere! This girl just kills me.

Emma loves Max!  Her reaction to him has been so sweet and loving. She surprises us every day!

She also wanted to help feed him and kept trying to make him laugh by jumping around.

When it was time to go home, I asked Emma if she wanted to stay at Grandma’s or go home with us. She said she wanted to stay (because all of her cousins were there). She immediately said “Bye Daddy, Bye Mommy”. As we got up to leave, taking Max with us, she starts throwing a tantrum and yelling “MAX STAY MAX STAY”….whaaaaat? It was so hilarious. So we ended up all staying over there for awhile so she could bond with Max a little more.

Since we’ve been home, she has shown so much concern and care for her little brother. The first thing she says some mornings are “Where is Max?”. And when she wants something and I can’t do it because I’m holding or bfing Max, she patiently waits her turn. The only bit of jealousy she has shown has been if one of us is carrying Max or sitting with him, she wants us to use our other arm to carry her sometimes…but she never makes us put Max down.

Excuse Daddy and daughter’s messy hair. 🙂
I think 2 kids has been a lot harder on Minh than me lol. #superdad #messyhairdontcare

Overall, I’m extremely happy with how this has gone down and I can’t wait for Max to grow up so he can actually play with Emma! She will love having a live-in playmate since mommy and daddy can be boring sometimes 😛

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Max’s Birth Story

This is a pretty boring, typical birth story. But I thought I would post about it in case Max wanted to read about it one day? hehe. BTW, boring and typical makes this a perfect birth story to me!

With both of my births, I have always gotten a lot of Braxton Hicks (fake contractions) early on in my pregnancy. On the Friday before Max’s birth, I had my weekly appointment with my DR who told me I was already 2-3 cm dilated. My DR told me it could be soon, or it could be several weeks since some people are stuck at that stage for awhile. I figured it would be sooner than later though since Emma also came so early and honestly I was SO huge at that point that people would stop me in the store predicting that I was going to give birth any day now! The next day early in the morning I started having more constant contractions. Enough so that I started timing them. Turned out they were about 8 minutes apart for about 2 hours. (You are supposed to head into the hospital when they are 5 mins apart!). They weren’t painful yet but actually felt just like Braxton Hicks to me still….but at that point I couldn’t remember what the difference was. I woke up wondering if today was going to be THE DAY!

But, after I got up and started moving around…the contractions stopped. Or they returned to how they had been for a few weeks. Random. So I figured they were all Braxton Hicks again. Throughout the day I did start to notice they got a little stronger but again I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination. I told Minh I thought it would be soon though. We decided to watch our last movie for awhile and went and saw X-Men! Throughout the movie I got some more contractions which usually happened more often when I was sitting still (again, another indication they were Braxton Hicks and not real contractions). I kept imagining my water breaking somewhere in public and what I would do! But alas, nothing happened.

That night, I went to bed wondering if I was going to make it til morning. I knew once I laid down there was a strong possibility that my contractions might start up again. I was really hoping they wouldn’t since I had a birthday party to go to on Sunday! Unfortunately, sometime in the middle of the night my contractions started up again. They were definitely stronger and I started to vaguely remember what real contractions felt like and thought these were real. I decided to get up and walk around to see if they would stop. They sort of eased up but were still somewhat constant so I continued to time them. Once they started getting in the 4-5 minute range and a little more painful, I woke up Minh. “I think it’s time!!!”. I think this was around 4 in the morning? I can’t really remember. We decided to call Minh’s mom to come over and stay with Emma since she was still asleep of course.

Oh I forgot to mention that earlier that night our plumbing went kaputz. The bathtub was backed up and it was SO GROSS!!!! We tried to get a 24 hr plumber to come out but they kept delaying and finally canceled on us and told us to wait for the next morning. Unfortunately that was when I went into labor so I couldn’t even take a shower before going to the hospital! Bad luck!!!

After Minh’s mom came over, we headed to the hospital. I contemplated eating something before going in since I knew they wouldn’t let me eat once I got there. At first we were going to eat McD’s since it’s one of the few places open at the time (also what I ate before having Emma!) but when we were about to go through the drive-thru I had a painful contraction and suddenly McD’s was the last thing I wanted to eat so I told Minh to skip it. But of course as we drove away my contraction stopped and then we saw Del Taco so we went there instead. I ended up eating 2 crunchy tacos. Wish I had eaten more!!!

We pulled into the hospital and was able to get a pretty good parking spot. We walked in and they immediately asked me if I was going into labor. “I think so?”. So they checked me in and wheeled me into a room. The whole time I was paranoid about not being far enough along and getting turned back which I hear happens to a lot of my friends. This was a completely different experience for me since with Emma my water had broken first. Let me tell you, it is so much nicer when your water doesn’t break first!

They got me in a room and immediately hooked me up to an IV since I tested positive for Strep B and needed to get antibiotics. I didn’t really like where they placed my IV (in my wrist) and it sort of bothered me the whole time I was there. Oh well. I immediately asked for an epidural when I got there since I felt like I was nearing that hump where the contractions get super painful and definitely wanted it before I got to that point. I had no illusions about not getting one this time! 🙂 Epidurals just make the labor experience much more enjoyable for me…I can’t imagine not getting one. For the next 10 hours I was texting people, playing candy crush, and watching soccer. If I did not get the epidural I think I would have been pretty miserable and cranky. ha!

Rocking the double chin. I had a few photos where more of my body showed…OMG I was so huge!

When they checked to see how dilated I was, I was only 3-4 cm but 100% effaced. I remembered from last time I was very slow to progress even when I was pumped with pitocin so I wondered how long this one was going to be. Several hours went by and when they checked me again I was only 4-5cm. At this point, they asked me if I wanted pitocin but since we hadn’t been there that long…less than 6 hours? I didn’t really see a point yet. Especially since my water hadn’t broken yet. This is when I kind of got annoyed with my nurse and DR who were both pressuring me to take pitocin. I stood my ground though and said I wanted to wait a little longer. A few hours later, my DR came in and asked if I was ok with breaking my water. I said yes and she said we’ll see how that goes before discussing pitocin again. After she broke my water, she measured me again and said I was a 5-6 but that they would give me an hour before giving me Pitocin. Luckily, when the hour was up, I jumped to a 10! She said the baby was also in a really good position and I might not even need to push. I was like “You can do that??” The pushing part was my most dreaded part of labor since last time it took me 2 hours to push Emma out. When it was finally time to push, I pushed 3-4 times and baby Max came out!!!!! It was soooo easy compared to Emma. I couldn’t believe it!

Hello world!

6 lbs 9 oz…pretty hefty for such an early baby!

Family photo….really missing Emma here 🙁

I’ll write more about Emma meeting Max and how we are adjusting in another post!

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Toys That Promote Imaginary Play

Here are two toys that I bought from Amazon because I heard a lot of good things about and they were very highly rated. I remember when I first got them I was like why in world do these have such good reviews? They seem SO BORING! Boy was I wrong. These toys are some of Emma’s favorites and I’m always amazed to see what new ways she comes up with for playing with these.

50 Counting Bears With 5 Cups – I first got these because we were trying to teach Emma how to count and also her colors. I really believe these helped with both her numbers and colors. The bears make a satisfying *plunk* sound when you drop them into the cup. Emma loves sorting and these are great for that. She also uses these as pretend food and “serves” us different colored foods in cups and plates. It’s so cute! She is almost always playing with these bears in some way every day.

Skip Hop Dunks Stacking Bath Toy – I remember when I bought these they were the highest rated bath toy. These are so versatile because you can use them as a rinse cup for bath time but they also make great bath toys. It’s great that the set comes with more than 1 so I can use one and Emma can play with the other ones. She loves to scoop the water and pour it into the other cup. She loves to stack. She also loves to tell me what color each bird is and which color she wants and which one I should use. I also love to take these when we travel because I need a water scooper for bath time and it’s also the only bath toy we take when we travel and is able to keep her satisfied.

So those are two toys that I didn’t really “get” but turns out Emma loves them!

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Enjoying Maternity Leave

For people who know me, I didn’t really get to enjoy my maternity leave last time when I was pregnant with Emma. I got a total of 1 day off before she arrived! This time I’ve already enjoyed a whole week off….and it has been SO NICE!!! I’ve gotten so much done and have really enjoyed this one on one time I have gotten with Emma before baby #2 comes.

I took a few days to really reorganize my house and throw out a lot of trash. I cleaned out my freezer and cupboards of everything that was expired. I sorted through my craft/office room so now I can actually find things when I work on my crafts! I even started reorganizing Emma’s toys and am attempting to do a toy rotation for her so we don’t have toys out everywhere. I cooked a little bit and have attempted at eating a salad a day while I’m on maternity leave and also made beef broth from scratch!

I just hope I last through the weekend because we have 2 big bday parties to attend this weekend and I really want to go! I love bday parties! If I make it to next week, there are some arts and craft stuff that I wanted to work on including making Emma’s felt play mat (will be great for her to play independently when baby #2 comes!), finishing Emma Project Life book and start Max’s Project Life, and also work on my anniversary present for the hubby. We’re celebrating 5 years in a few months…I can’t believe we’ve been married for that long. So happy to have him in my life and by my side as we turn the next chapter in our family. 🙂

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A Few Simple Father’s Day Ideas

Father’s Day is soon…if you’re still looking for some last minute gifts…check these easy diys that you can get the kids involved in!

Love these Father’s Day Cards that kids can color or paint for their dads! Print them for free here.


12 free printable father’s day gift ideas – Love the coupons and the all about dad books


Father’s Day handprint tree


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