3 months mark


My little boy is now 3 months.  He's onto the next milestone of his life which is to master rolling over.  When he's on his play mat, his bum just automatically go onto one side and with one or two hard kick and he's on his tummy.  Quite amazing to see how he's growing and developing.  Like how do they know how to do that ?  I obviously didn't show him.  His brain and body just do it.  So cool!

Nolan's eye sight are getting more clearer.  I don't think he sees details yet but in his blurry-ness he recognizes us.  When he looks around the room and caught my eyes his mouth will open to a huge grin, showing his bare gums.  And I get really happy too seeing how happy he is to see me. 

Sleep has been good for all of us.  He wakes up once around 3 or 4am for a feed.  He sleeps around 9pm so that's a solid straight 6 or 7 hours of sleep for him.  If I sleep at same time as him I would get that many too :) but I usually sleep at 10:30.  I get a totally of 7 or 8 hours a night so can't complain.

It feels so long since I have to burp him to avoid spit up.  Now I just feed him and off he goes onto his play mat for playing or into his crib for sleeping.  Talk about sleeping, he's great at putting himself to sleep.  I don't have to rock him like Bee or snuggle with him like Love.  It's a catch 20 because I love those quiet times together.  With Peanut, when he rubs his eyes and head, a sign of "I'm sleepy", I would lay him in his crib and he would have this short nudging kind of cries then less than 5 min. he's out.  If he's tired, he's out the moment I put him in the crib.  Sometime he would sleep on the play mat.  All in all a very easy going baby.  

As for me, postpartum is taking its usual course.  I am loosing lots of hair, which is always sad and I hope they do grow back.  The dark line on my tummy is still very vivid.  I remember it went away quite quickly with the girls but this one is a stubborn one.  I gained a lot of weight with this pregnancy.  I am down 30lbs already, thanks to breastfeeding.  I have another 10 more to loose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight but these looks like they will stay -) Not many of my clothes fit right now, at least the way it supposed to fit.  It was discouraging getting dressed when we go out but I fixed that by buying some new clothes, in bigger size.  I am kind to me because I did pop out 3 kids after all.  They oughta take a toll on my body and that's good that they left marks !!!  Once things are settled I will will try to get back into shape, just because I don't want to waste all the old clothes I got :)  Right now I love joggers and loose t-shirt !  I am an owner of a few sets :) they are so comfortable !

As for my abdominal muscles, they haven't  gotten back together yet.  How do I know ?  By laying flat on floor, with a finger poking down in my belly and holding it there, I would try to do a sit up.  I can feel my muscles pulling in and gripping slightly on my finger but there's still a little gap.  I can't do any ab workout just yet.  I might take up running !  I need more energy to keep up with all these kids.  

Day to day, I am quite busy with taking Love to Strong Start half day in the morning, then picking up Bee after lunch and let them burn their energy at the playground for an hour. Then prepping dinner and eating dinner and our evening ends with C entertaining the kids indoor or outdoor while I clear up and clean up.  C would get the girls ready for bath time and book time while I get Peanut ready for bed, and that pretty much concluded our day.  

My day activities repeat itself every morning.  Might sound boring but I like schedule, I like predictable, make it easy to plan for other things.  The fun elements are there each day, watching the kids play and fight and laugh and cry !  Watching Peanut smiles, goo goo gah gah, and rolling over then getting frustrated like a fish on dry land.  It's eventful in a way.  Never a dull moment.  

At lunch, everyday, C would call home and we'll chat about things he saw and read and encountered.  I will tell him about the kids so he's not missing out.  When I feel down, because sometime mommies do, when I feel like I didn't accomplish anything worthy, he would affirm me and tell me how great I am and how important I am to our family.  Talking with him always lift up my spirit because sometime it's hard to see things clearly when you're in the gutter.  Everything is taking their due courses and soon summer will come knocking.  By then both girls will be home everyday and I will have 3 kids to hug and hold and to complain about !  

Forever my baby

We almost made it !  It was so close.  6:30 ish, I was woken up by the feeling of wetness in my waist area.  I thought Peanut's diaper leaked so I reached over to check on him.  He's sleeping away on his waterproof sheet, all warm and dry.  I puzzled then turned to the other side of me.  My eyes rested on set of sorry sad eyes piercing into mine.  She's on the brink of tears.  Lovebug wet the bed.  I look down on the bed and the darkened area was huge, all around her, 1/4 of our queen bed.  I must have forgotten to ask her to go to the washroom before bed.  Another half an hour and we might have avoided this.  I think.  Maybe.  Lovebug's usually wake up at 7am and rush off to the washroom.  Not today.  She haven't wet the bed for a few months now.

Accident happened.  I moved Peanut over to dry land !  He nor his sheet are wet.  He happily sleeps away.  Lovebug whispered to me, "Pee go in toilet mommy.  I didn't mean to!".  I patted her arm reassuringly, "I know honey, I know.  It happened sometime.  Let's get you and me cleaned up" I said then bent down to pick her up and headed to the bathroom.  "Sorry mommy.  I didn't mean to!" she repeated.  She feels bad, that I know but also I feel uneasy that she's so apologetic.  I don't want her to be too hard on herself.  She's only 3.  I assured her it's completely ok and sometime I have accident too (not same like this :)  It's good to acknowledge our mistakes but we must also be kind to ourselves.

She asked me to change her after.  She usually likes to dress herself so I asked her "Are you sure ?  You like to pick your clothes".  "I like you to change me sometime mommy.  Can you pick for me please", she said with a happy grin.  I picked out another Pj for her and as we shuffle back into bed she asked, "can you hold me to sleep mommy?".  I was so sleepy, and holding here means rocking her back to sleep.  Lovebug has always been very independent.  She prefers to do everything on her own, or in her words "by self".  Whenever she asked me to dress her or feed her or hold her to sleep, I jumped at the chance.  Mind you, I try to force my motherly way on her sometime, like rocking her to sleep and she would tell me to please put her down so she can sleep.  At least I try :) some times she'll let me, some day she would ask me, and I am eager to complied.

I love to baby her.  I feel she grew up so fast and became so independent from me so young.  I still remember her refusing my breast at 10 months. She was ready to live off solid food.  I didn't have to wean her.  It's great but I also feel a loss.  A catch 20 for me.

This morning I get to change and rock this baby to sleep.  I feel great.  I like holding her in the quietness of morning.  Feeling her tiny hand in my hand.  I am tired and wanted to sleep some more but that can wait.  I get to hold this girl !  No matter how independent she is, how grown she is, how she's capable of many things, she is still my baby and forever my baby she will be.

Refreshing limeade lemonade citrus drink recipe



Growing up in Vietnam, we don't have the yellow lemon like here in the west.  Our lemon is the green lime and we got plenty of them.  There's at least one house on every street that has a lime tree.  When summer comes knocking, limeade is our drink of choice.  Cheap and easy to make.  There's also no packaged juice avail. then !!!  You either make your own drink or you have to go to a restaurant or food stall for them.

I love limeade !  the smell of cut limes brings back so many memories for me.  Our 264 Le Loi house, my grandma waiting for me coming home from school, and my mom with a pitcher of limeade.  My grandma would hug me and I can feel her cool soft skin on my cheeks when her face touches mine.  I miss her so much.  I know she's up there in heaven with the Lord and one day we will get to see each other again.  It's comforting knowing our relationship doesn't end with her passing, we're just apart from each other for a while !

Anyways, this drink is very easy to make.  You'll need lime or lemon, or a mix of both, cane sugar or honey (or white sugar) and water.  I used a mix of both lime and lemon because the lime we get here doesn't yield too much juice :-(  3 limes and I barely get half of a cup.

Ingredients
Serving size:  8 cups

4 medium size limes (if using key lime, you'll need about 6-8 of them)
2 lemons
(all should yield about 1 to a cup of juice)
1 cup of cane sugar (more or less according to your taste, you can use white sugar if you like)
2 table spoon of honey (can be omitted, just add more sugar)
1 cup of boiling water
7 cup of water

Juice the limes and lemons into a bowl.  Strain out seeds and pulps and put juice into a pitcher.  Boil water, pour 1 cup of it into a bowl and add in the sugar and honey and stir until completely dissolved.  Add the sugar water into the pitcher and mix.  Add the 7 cups of water, stir around then taste.  Add more sugar if you want it sweeter.  Chill in the fridge.

If you don't have time to chill the drink in the fridge, make the drink a bit more sweet then add 2 or 3 cups of ice.

Garnish with thinly sliced up left over rinds or slices of lime and lemon.

To make the limeade lemonade pink, I add 2 table spoons of crushed frozen raspberries !

I added the juice of 1 orange to make the drink orange in color (kid requested)

We drink our limeade in tea cup !  just how we roll :-)



Easy peasy stove top one pot mac pasta and cheese



Ingredients:
Serves 2 

- 2 cups of dry macroni or small shell pasta
- 1 1/2 cup of milk (2% or homo)
- 2 table spoon of flour
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (I used marble cheese and it's just as good)
- 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard (can be omitted)

- In a pot of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, add the pasta and cook until done (tender but still firm, not mushy)
- Pour cooked pasta into a colander to drain
- Pour milk into pot and add the flour, whisk until well blended, no clump left
- Cook on medium heat, stir constantly (while stiring it's good to break up any lump that formed, to ensure for smooth sauce.  I stir with a small whisk and it helps with smooth consistency)
- When sauce is creamy, add the shredded cheese and stir
- When the cheeses melted, taste and season with a bit of salt or pepper
- Add the drained pasta back into the pot
- Stir pasta and sauce until they are mixed well
- Serve immediately

You can top pasta with more shredded cheese if you like !  Enjoy

little miss selective eater


Here we are, almost 5 months since I wrote the post below:

http://www.tracycollin.com/2015/11/little-miss-picky-eater-kindergartens.html

I am happy to report lunch has been regularly eaten.  I also bought a cold thermos so Bee can take milk with her to school.  Her lunch is now narrowed down to only 1 main item, 1 snack and 1 fruit or veggie.  She has pancakes or waffles a few times a week, and in between them are sticky rice and meatballs.  It does take a little more time to make her lunch as we have to make them !  I wish she likes sandwiches, where I can just assemble them together and save time.  But in a way I am glad she isn't eating processed food.




For breakfast, I still make her pancakes !  2 eggs, a couple spoons of flour, milk and a bit of cane sugar.  Her sister and her would gobbled them up.  They each have a cup of milk to finish off the meal and breakfast is done !  Some day she would change it up and have cereals but for now, pancakes are her favorite.

For dinner, for a while, Bee only wants rice and cucumber and broccoli.  I was worried and asked my friends for their thoughts as they once struggled with food with their daughter.  My friends was telling me that Bee isn't getting enough nutrients it might hinder her development.  They suggest I keep a journal of what she's eating.  I decided to track Bee's food, of what she's consuming each day.  Turns out she drinks a lot of milk (lunch and after school) = lots of fat (just like my friends' kid), meaning she's filling herself up with milk.  She also eats a big snack after school.  Sometimes she would have a small bowl of chicken with udon (more like a meal than snack), sweet potatoes crackers, or 2-3 banana muffin after school.  She really likes banana muffin and I don't mind her eating it because it's made with healthy ingredients like oatmeal, banana and egg (recipe here).  But I need to limit it down to one muffin so it doesn't ruin dinner.

I want to encourage Bee to eat more at dinner time so I've been giving her a smaller snack and try to avoid milk before dinner.  She really likes steamed chicken so we now have it about 4 times a week.  Free range chicken steamed with skin on ! Bee would have the whole back side with thigh and the wings.  We also have 1 night with fish, one with shrimp or pork, and one where we either we go out or order in.  If we go out with the 3 kids, we usually have Nandos chicken :-)  as it doesn't take too long to wait for food and it's pretty tasty !  Order in is usually either Japanese or Greek and sometime we have Pizza !!!  When I was pregnant with Nolan, I crave pizza and pop all the time.  Even now at 3 months postpartum, I still crave them.  I try not to eat them often, like once every 2 months.

Sweet potatoes crackers (with chia and flax seeds), pandan sticky rice, cucumber and strawberry slices for lunch

Currently Bee eats meat and egg pretty much everyday, along with rice, fruits and veggies.  She has milk for breakfast, lunch, and after dinner.  I am still working on getting her to eat yogurt and pasta with sauce.  I also try to get her to eat peanut butter but she's just not in to it.  She likes cashew, pistachio and macadamia nuts so she'll have a handful of them here and there.  Bee doesn't gain a lot of weight but she did grew a little bit.  That counts for something right ?  She just turned 6 and about 35 lbs.  She is very slim but she's eating, drinking and sleeping well.  I figure her active life contributes to her slim-ness !  This girl doesn't like to sit much.  She skips and runs instead of walking.  She even play with lego standing up !  After school each day, her sister and her would get between 30 min. of play time where they pretty much like to run up and down a hill.  On sunny day they also play in our backyard for at least an hour after dinner.  On the weekend, we take them out to the park or indoor playground.  Our kids play so much so any fat they gained doesn't stick around because they burn them off !  Even as I type this, Bee is skipping from one end of the house to the other singing !

If you have a picky or selective eater, try to track what they eat for a week.  This way it helps you to have a clear picture of what and how much your kids are eating.  It will help you see what they are consuming too much of or not eating enough of.  You can then adjust accordingly so they eat a variety of food each day.  At the end of the day, if your kids are active and generally healthy, don't fuss or stress over it.  When you fuss too much it will become a power struggle between you and your kid and no longer just about food.  I read it somewhere that there are a few things in a kid's life that they have control over, and food is one.  If we focus too much on getting them to eat this and that, meal time will become a power struggle and the kid might just refuse to eat to exercise their power !!!  I now try to relax when it comes to dinner time.  I would offer Bee food, usually she gets 2 options, and I let her exercises her rights and power by selecting what she wants to eat from what I offered.  It's been less of a struggle for us because cutting back less snack and milk = a hungry kid :-)  Sometime she would scream "can I please eat first I'm so hungry" !!!

urban rustic living room decor ideas

I've been browsing for coffee table and sofa sets !  We're not buying anytime soon as we're waiting for Peanut to hit at least 2 or 3 year old.  Our white leather dining chairs have been decorated with pen marks and paint here and there so we know better not to buy anything right now.  Our furniture is practical and meant to be destroyed at the moment.  I can't help but dream of the day where my tables doesn't have plastic corner covers.  I like to do online-browsing just to get ideas of what I want.

Currently I don't really have a theme or a look I'm after.  If I have to come up with words to describe my taste I would say urban rustic.  Modern design with lots of wood furniture, clean lines, no curves or fancy work, just plain straight.

When buying I like to buy for longevity.  Furniture are expensive so you want something that last and doesn't scream a certain era.  The big ticketed items like sofa and table and accent tables, I like to stick to neutral solid color.  This allowed the piece to easily match up with anything.  To add colors and set the tone with the room, I like to spice it up with cushions and accessories.  These are usually not very expensive and with careful planning, you can change the look of the room according to season without spending too much.

Here are some ideas of living room set up that  I like.  I wish I have large living room with tall ceiling, exposed beams and lots of windows.  Instead I have a long narrow living room so I find it quite challenging to lay out the furniture.  So far it looks ok but I still need to play around with the set up.








First love


A friend and I was messaging each other about our babies.  She loves staring at her baby girl and seeing her expressions.  While I love looking at Nolan and seeing my effect on him.

When Nolan is up from sleep, he would lay next to me kicking, staring into the ceiling and turning his head to me once in a while to see if I am up.  Usually his constant kicking would wake me up and I usually lay there for a good 10 min. with eyes closed.  It's an internal battle of waking up and kiss him or trying to sleep some more.  And kissing the boy always win.  I would turn to Nolan and whisper "hi Nolan" and he would responded with a huge smile that turns into a chuckle, and his two legs go into super ninja kick and arms flapping.  He's so happy to see me.  And it's not because I am his food or because he needs changing !  If he's hungry or has wet diaper, this boy would wail until he gets what he wants.  He is simply happy to see and hear me !  Happy that someone who loves him so much is gazing on him and he loves her just the same !  My kids first love is me, yup, their mother :)  I am the first body they lay on after they came out of me, the first face they see and the first set of arms encircling them, making them feel warm and safe.  This makes me think of my mom and reminded me that she was my first love and not to take her for granted.  I love her dearly.   

What's on SALE for kids clothes ? H&M, Children's Place

Friends often ask me, "what's on sale for kids clothes", knowing I'm always hunting for deals !  So for this month, since I have some gift cards to spend, I did some digging around and here are a few good sales happening.

Children's Place is having 50% off everything ONLINE.  Free Shipping on all orders !  Perfect time to pick up swimsuit or rashguard !  I once waited until closer to summer to buy kids swim wear and it was sold out everywhere.  Great time for summer dresses, hats and sunglasses too !!!

We picked up some fun colorful dresses and sunglasses !  The girls are into anything happy and rainbow :-)




Sunglasses are $3.25 (after the 50% off)


H&M is having 20% off their kids clothes.  I like their basic clothes line (under shirts, leggings, camis) because the quality is good and some are organic.  They also have super cute t-shirts and dresses this season.  H&M doesn't have too many of these 20% off sales so stock up on some basics if anything.  H&M is one store I don't wait for items to go on sales because they rarely do (for the kids clothes) and when they do, only few are left and most are babies sizes.

The link to their coupon is below.  If you don't have data on phone like me, save a picture of it on your phone and present to cashier.   There's no special code so just snap a picture of the offer in the link and show it to them.  It's only 1 coupon for customer but I've used mine twice already !  I don't know how they limit 1 per customer when coupon is on the phone :-/




Some items I picked up:

Cute spring/summer tees for $9.99 each

2 camis for $12.99

2 tank tops for $12.99


JELLY SANDALS from OLD NAVY and GYMBOREE

Our girls are into jelly sandals at the moment !  If you have girls that like sparkly stuff, Old Navy has some pretty cute ones on sale.  We paid $7.50 for each pair.  Gymboree has some cute ones too but they are $21 (or $15 if they have their usual 30% new items sale).  I bought the kids clear ones from Gymboree first only to discover cheaper ones from Old Navy, a week later, and just as cute.  


Old Navy basket style on the left and Gymboree stars style on the right.


The girls have been wearing them around our yard digging, climbing and playing hopscotch in them.  So far no blister or cuts.  We had a pair a while back and they last through all the stomping and all the rain.  I like that they can get really dirty from all the dirt in our yard and when sprayed off with water, they look as good as new again. 

Gap has 40% off everything last week, watch their online page for this kind of sale again, as they should have a repeat soon.  I picked up 2 dresses for the girls as I really like deep shade of the blue !  it's a nice break from all the pink and purple don't you think ?




 I'm quite happy with all the kids purchases last week.  We are set for summer and I didn't spend very much.  Thanks to all the sales and gift cards :D


Little sh*theads


Us earlier on in the day, playing at the playground, petting dog, enjoying lemonade and hunting for eggs.


Maureen's voice sped through my brain, cut through over 10 years of stored memories, "the little sh*thead thinks he can get away with it!"

Mo, as we dearly call her, was telling me how her son was trying to get out of trouble, to which I don't remember the exact details.  I don't know why I remember that exact phrase, perhaps it perfectly described how she felt then and I stored it away for day like today.  My two kids were exactly, I'm afraid to say, that.

If you know me I rarely curse since 15.  But sometime, just sometime, when you feel so crazy frustrated, angry, annoyed and amused all at the same time, a curse word seems to be the only word that can express how you feel, to take the edge of it, to release some steam.  That's me today ! I looked at my two kids rubbing their shirts on the wall in the changing room at the pool.  I told them not to touch the damp wet walls and they decided to rub their shirt and the arms of the shirt on them, to see how wet those walls are !!!!  I moved them away only to find their newly washed feet stomping on a muddy pool of water on the floor.  "Muddy puddle mommy" they chanted !  More like gross murky water left behind from the people before us. Then they refused to put on their pants because I forgot to pack their undies.  I told them I am sorry and that we can put it on when we are home.  We need to put on pants to go out.  They reluctantly let me put on their pants then the little one unexpected yelled "haha daddy will like to see my bum bum".

After I changed them and moved on to me, before I can slip my t-shirt pass my head, the eldest one goes, "can we go out now ?  Daddy is outside".  I told her they need to wait for me.  In that 2 minutes, they bent down to look outside the changing room, jiggled the door handle, pushed each other, and rubbed their body on the door up and down.  Whatever the hell happened ?  I didn't give them any sugar.  Sure we had lemonade made with honey at 3:30pm but it is now 9pm, surely it must have gone through their system already.  If not the 1 hour in the pool must have worked it off.  Where do they get all these energy ?

When we were out of the changing room, I told them to wash their hand since they touched everything in the room, including the floor !  While washing their hands they asked why there are so many hairs in the sink and then attempted  to touch them !!!  WHY ????  WHY ???????????????

My patience at that moment is running on negative.  Screw cleanliness and let them be dirty.  Seriously if they want to touch slimy foamy gross hair balls in the sink and want to jump in brown questionable puddle then go ahead.  I don't care any more!  

After they "washed" their hands, I asked them to dry their hair under the dryer.  They started to fight over who should use what while I put my head under a dryer to dry mine own hair.  When I turn to the side to talk to them, all I see was them inching away from me, walking out of the changing room.  They really know how to pissed me off.  I rushed out after them, asking what they think they're doing, they chirped "WE don't know English !  We only understand viet-tamese !!".  What little shi*theads!  No more swimming for you for a month.

Then the little one pulled down her pants, in front of a room full of people, and turned her bum towards C, saying "look daddy, no underwear !  mommy forgot!"    

All these happened in a span of 15 minutes.  15 super long minutes.

I jotted down this post on a notepad that night.  As I complete this post today (the next day), we are whispering "I love you" to each other over a sleeping baby.  Yeah, there are crazy moments with these kids for sure and surely it doesn't stop here.  However they are pieces that make up our beautiful complicated relationship.