Travel: first time traveling as family of 4

We went for a first family trip to Boston for 3 days and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!! Everything was perfect! I couldn’t have asked for more.

We were invited to spend Thanksgiving at Carmen’s in October and were excited since then. But since it was going to be our first time traveling with both girls, Lizzy being still young, flying with Lizzy, and most challenging return road trip, I had my doubts on whether we would enjoy it as much. However, I was determined to embrace the challenge and go with the flow.

Our flight was early at 6:30am. So I woke both girls around 4:15am after I finished pumping. We took a cab with all our luggage (2 carseats, 1 stroller, 2 suitcases and 3 bags) at 4:45am and arrived airport at 6:20am. Lizzy was very curious about what was going on but didn’t complain at all that we woke her up early.

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I was worried about naps for Lizzy because she has never napped outside her crib or swing. Even when we go out for a walk with her, she’d never nap, not even in the car seat. But by 7:45am, she was ready. Tony hold her until she was almost asleep, and I put her down on the seat besides me. She napped for a good 40 min, woke up just before landing.

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Sofia was super excited too. We’ve been talking about the Boston trip for weeks. She was even willing to stay all night up to not miss the departure. By the time we got to the cab, she was ready to take a cat nap.

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then we arrived the castle. It’s an old house built on 1876, renovated at 1905 and after Carmen bought it.

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we settled in our rooms (one for Sofia called princess room, one for Lizzy with her pack n play and one for me and Tony). Then we spent the day catching up with Carmen and Vincent. It was really nice to be chatting with one of the smartest couple in the world! 🙂

Vincent was in charge of the turkey (i forgot to take a pic) and Carmen had prepared the sides dishes the day before. By 5pm, we were ready for the feast. We had mash potatoes, sweet potato casserole, glazed carrots, stuffing and the most delicious mushroom cooked in sherry. We also had homemade buns and flan for dessert. Everything was scrumptious!!!

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After dinner, we put Lizzy into bed and got ready for a movie at home theater.

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Then I took a long quiet bath before sleep. We all slept very soundly that night.

Next morning, Lizzy woke up around 7:30am and came to our bed.

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she was soon happy.

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after breakfast (homemade waffles), we went to explore the city. We had plan to go first to Harvard then to downtown. But it was raining and cold, so after the tour at harvard, we decided to cut our tour short.

Lizzy followed her usual schedule of napping 2-3 hours so Tony and I got to play pool when Sofia went to nap too.

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it was fun to beat Tony for 2 matches 😉

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that evening, Vincent prepared another great meal for us. Meat in sour broth, marinated for 4 days. He served it with pasta and turnip. As dessert, we had a messy cake. Once again, everything delicious. I went for seconds.

Saturday morning started with a gorgeous breakfast spread. Vincent made fresh baked scones, served with assorted jams and butter.

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we all loved the food and last chats with Carmen and Vincent.

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then Tony went to get the rental car. We departed at 10:45am. After fueling gas, we were ready for our road trip adventure. We stopped 4-5 times for toilet stops and feed Lizzy. She behaved extremely well. Basically she ate and slept. Except once she refused to be sitting in the carseat and cried for 20 min before I had to jump to the backseat, fed her, hold her and played with her. Sofia behaved even better. She didn’t complain about the long ride. She was happily eating chocolate cookies and donuts (sigh… you do whatever you have to do to keep everybody happy). Excited when we stopped and felt asleep for naps.  Tony was the main driver. I drove few times, the longest one for 1.5 hours. It was actually not too bad when both of us could drive. We both wanted to drive more so the other could rest. That’s love without saying the word.

Although I enjoyed a lot seeing Carmen and Vincent this time, the most enjoyable part of the trip is I feel closer to my family. We took care of each other. Tony was the man of the family, carrying things, setting up everything ready for us, and took care of the girls more than I could ask for. It made me love him even more because his figure as the man of the family consolidated even more with this trip. I know I can rely on him. I know we will be taken care of. I know how much he loves us, all of us. 🙂

After this trip, I’m more confident to travel again with the girls. It’s really not that hard as long as one takes it easy, be prepared and not stress about small things. I remember taking all many more stuffs when I traveled with Sofia first time with my mom going to Hawaii when Sofia was 10 months old. We even took bathtub. But this time, we only packed essentials: clothes, diaper, wipes, bibs, baby spoon, packaged food and oatmeal. Feeding was easy, just mixed packet fruit/veggie puree with oatmeal and food was ready. Tony would hold her while I feed her, quick and easy.

can’t wait for our next trip! 🙂

November life happening

In a matter of blink, November is gone. I feel like I’m just catching up with life here at home.

Work is still busy but very interesting! I’m really happy with work now. New countries to work on, new challenges to face, new colleagues, and new exciting projects! 🙂

Running is going well too. Still running 4-5 times a week, averaging 20-25 miles. Last week I had issue with high HR during most of the runs, but after taking a break during thanksgiving, HR came back to normal. Oh… I run a PR 10k too.

Lizzy is funnier than ever! I love love seeing her smiling faces. Even the face she makes when she’s annoyed/bored/wanting to be entertained is so cute.

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sisterhood is going stronger everyday. Sofia loves playing with Lizzy, making her laugh.

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for our date night last month, we went to watch Arrival. I was very skeptical of a science fiction movie, but it turned out to be one of the greatest movie I’ve seen for a long long time! It made me appreciate even more my girls.

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I run Pacers veterans 10k race and had a blast. It was a really cold day. I couldn’t feel my feet and hands for 3-4 miles. But it turned out to be a perfect weather for a PR.

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because I run a negative split race, finishing at below 8 min/mile pace.

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My official time was 50 min 8 secs.

love the finisher medal

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obviously my cheer group is the best. I really appreciate that Tony and Sofia cheers me up in all the races. It was really a cold day and they had to walk 1 mile each way from the parking lot to the race. There’s nothing more gratifying to see them at the finishing line.

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we were treated with massages. It felt so good.

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despite the coldness, it was a gorgeous day and the course had spectacular view.

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I think that concludes my 2016 race season. 🙂

 

Thoughts: random thoughts

Work got busy lately but exciting too so I didn’t have time to blog over the weekend. But feel the urge to do some random updates:

  • Lizzy is really cute these days but I don’t get to spend much time with her. Only in the morning to nurse her, then she goes back to sleep so we don’t get to see her before leaving the house. Then in the evening, we get to see her during dinner, followed by a short bath, and nurse time again. I am afraid that she’s growing too fast for me to catch it.
  • However, I try to spend one-to-one time with Lizzy during weekends or on Fridays when I stay at home. She’s so lovely, always smiling at me, wanting me to play with her.
  • I have to admit that it was not love at first sight with Lizzy, but 6 months later, she has really grown in me. She makes my heart so happy. And LOVE LOVE her chubby thighs.
  • Sofia is growing so fast developmentally, not physically. She’s still petite among her friends, but mentally she’s so advanced. Although sometimes I get inpatient when she asks whys nonstop, she really learns from it a lot. She connects the dots between things. Make sense of what’s happening. And loves me so much despite how often I yell at her, and how strict I am with her. Often times I feel like a terrible mom. But her love to me is as unconditional as my love toward her.
  • I miss couple time with Tony. With both of us working and he studying at night, it’s hard to get time alone when both of our minds are dedicated to each other. But we are trying. And I get less anxious about it. If we don’t get to have one-to-one time in a day, no big deal. I still know he loves me and I love him.
  • Even when we disagree on things or have bad feelings toward each other, those moments pass by quickly. I guess we’ve transitioning to a married-couple status.
  • With busy work and busy life overall, I feel like less connected with my friends. Friendship needs investment, needs to be nourished, and that requires time. I know it’s excuse, I just need to prioritize it more.
  • Running has and still is my therapy. Every morning I step out for my run, I’m happy. After I finish it, I’m happy. I feel great the day following a run. My run is my addition and I happily have it everyday.
  • Well… not everyday. I do give my body two days of rest per week. But to be honest, except on the day after the long run, it’s hard to not run. Last week I didn’t run one day and felt terrible (dizzy, sleepy) the whole day.
  • There are three upcoming races: 10k, 15k and 5k. Exciting!
  • I watched the NYC marathon and when Molly crossed the finish time, I almost cried.
  • I’m bored with food, my mom’s cooking specifically. I know I should be grateful that she cooks for us every day, but I crave new food, new culinary adventures.
  • Still loving my breakfasts: Tj’s multigrain sourdough toasts with eggs, goat cheese and LC.
  • My appetite level has been unpredictable lately. One day I’m starving all day long, other days I don’t want food. Still loving kabocha and corns. Those are my saviors.
  • Wanting to go on vacation with the family… just don’t know where. oh… we’re going to Boston for the Thanksgiving. Just four of us. super excited!

Enough rambling for now.

Travel: Salvador, Brazil

I travelled to Salvador, the state of Bahia in Brazil last week for work. It was my second trip to Brazil but first time in Bahia.

I was super excited for this trip because I haven’t traveled for work since July last year. So it was nice to travel and have sometime alone. I think all moms feel the same way no matter how much we love our kids.

One mini incident was that my checked luggage didn’t arrive with me. I was supposed to take the luggage out at Sao Paolo, but the united agent told me that it was checked all the way to Bahia. So I didn’t have my luggage for a day. Fortunately I was prepared for it and had all the pumping equipment with me. Lesson learned, have all the necessities in carry-on.

We stayed at Mercure Rio Vermello hotel, with a small beach. This is the view from the gym when I logged my runs.

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the hotel was just okay. The room was small and basic. The food was average but the view was amazing.

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I always have egg omelets, fruits and toasts with butter for breakfast.

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but tried local food as well: this is a coconut tapioca porridge

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a tapioca flour pancake. I had ham and cheese as filling.

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then cheese bread.

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It was a privilege to work by the infinity pool. Such a relaxing view.

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Local food is mainly seafood. So I had plenty of them. this one is a seafood stew cooked with bread.

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on the last day of work, I went to explore the city with colleagues and we had some snacks by the beach

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we had coquettes, one with meat and one with salted bacalao.

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then we had street food for dinner

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this is acaraje, a dish made from peeled beans formed into a ball and then deep-fried in palm oil. Super rich dish.

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and a tapioca pancake

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I had one with cheese, sun dried tomato  and basil. Super super tasty! I loved it, will definitely try to make it soon.

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My flight was scheduled for 4:30pm, so I went to explore the old town called pelourinho. It was the city’s center during the Portuguese colonial period and was named for the whipping post in its central plaza where African slaves received punishment for various infractions, as well as for disciplinary purposes.

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then it was time to go back home. I missed the girls so much.

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Lizzy had fever for 3 days. Tony was super worried because I was not there to tell him what to do. And seeing Lizzy down was heart breaking to him. But fortunately she didn’t seem too bothered as she continued to eat and sleep well, and the fever went away by itself.

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Tony was in charge of giving Lizzy bottle in the early morning (6am) and take Sofia to school.

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but he did so well. I’m so proud of him.

Once I was back Saturday morning, I spent the day unpacking, catching up with the family and in the evening, we took Sofia to a Halloween party at a community center.

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Sofia had fun and came back with a lot of candies.

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on Sunday it was Pumpkin caving time! As usual Tony was in charge.

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Sofia helped to take out the seeds

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and Lizzy was in charge of being CUTE 😀

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we had the idea of putting her in a pumpkin for a long time! We couldn’t find a big enough one to fit her in, so we did some carving and voila!

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and the final product

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final product, thanks to Tony

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it was a busy week. Traveling is always tiring but it was a good getaway for me. It made me realize even more how lucky I am to have the family I have, to have a supportive husband, a helping mom and two lovely girls.

I love my life!

Lizzy: 6 months

Lizzy turned 6 months this week! Look how much she’s growing.

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We love this new person in our lives so much that we probably takes too many pics and videos everyday. But well… they grow too fast to catch. Need to preserve as long as we can.

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Eating: now that I’m back to work, she takes bottles during the day. Usually I nurse her between 6-6:30am. Then she’d sleep until 8am. She takes 3-4 bottles while I’m away. At 8:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 5pm sometimes. She’s taking 5-6 oz. each. Right after I come back from work, if her last milk was before 4pm, I’d nurse her few minutes before we have dinner. If not, I’d nurse her before bed around 7pm.

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We started solid with her just few days ago and she’s doing great, she turned from eating anything to just wanting sweet fruit pouches.

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she started to take them in from the start. The first day she had two meals, now she’s taking 2-3 solid a day about 30 min after milk. So far she had kabocha, carrot, sweet potato, peas, potato, lentil, zucchini, pear and avocado. She seems to like thicker consistency such as lentils, kabocha. Somedays she’d open her mouth wide open to take the food, other days she doesn’t want to open. We insist few times, if she doesn’t seem to be interested, we stop. At this stage, it’s more practice than relying food for nutrition.

So after the initial success, she’s now refusing to eat solids unless they’re fruit. She loves peaches and would open mouth wide asking for more. But vegetables? not interested. We started to give her baby oatmeal. The first time she took it well when I mixed it with breast milk, but not sure if she really like it. Need to try more.

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she liked kabocha at first, but not anymore. 😦

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Sleeping: she was a good sleeper since the beginning, sleeping through the night from 2 months and half. But then we regressed a bit and she’d wake up few times a night that I rushed to nurse her. At 5 months mark, I decided to let her cry a bit before running into her room because I know she doesn’t really need to eat and she was probably ready to go back to sleep by herself. And I was right. The first few nights she’d wake up few times but she’d go back to sleep within 15 min. Now at 6 months, she consistently sleep from 7-7:30pm to 6-6:30am, nurse and go back to sleep until 8am again. 

She took naps in the swing until she was 6 months old. We tried 1-2 times to put her in crib for nap, but she had problem falling asleep. We tried again at 6 months and the transition went very smooth. She still naps 2-3 hrs in the morning, then another 2 hours in the afternoon, and maybe a catnap of 45 min in late afternoon.
One curious thing is that Lizzy doesn’t know to sleep when we’re on the road. Even in the stroller, she’d always be awake looking around. Sofia used to nap in the stroller when we go out for a walk, but Lizzy doesn’t.

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Likes:

  • to observe the world in her tummy supported by her hands

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  • she likes us to hold her and make faces to her. She’d laugh so badly.

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  • she likes putting everything in her mouth.

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  • she smiles a lot. Unless she’s in bad mood one day, otherwise she’d be happy all day long.

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  • she loves jamperoo. She can easily stay there jumping for half an hour.

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  • She loves going out too. Starting at 5 months, we’ve been taking her out more often and she has always been so cooperative and quiet. Really easy going.

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  • now that the weather is cooler. Grandma tries to take her out once a day. And over weekend, I try to take her for a walk too. She loves it. She’d sing and move her leg on the ride.

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Dislikes: really not much. She doesn’t fuzz much. If she does it’s usually because she wants to eat or sleep. Otherwise she’s really peaceful. Sometimes she’ll get bored, and if we change the scenario or walk around with her, she’d calm down right away.

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I’m still her favorite person I think. She always try to smile to me when I talk to her, even when it’s not her best day.

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It’s heart warming to see how Tony transitioned to be a father. His love toward Lizzy is devotional. He takes good care of her and is learning to be a father to Sofia. I think that’s because now he really understands what’s to be a father and it’s beautiful to see his transformation.

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Stats at 6 months appointment:

Height: 26 in (52nd)

Weight: 15 lbs 10 oz. (40th)

HC: 16.75 in (59th)

Life lately October – first anniversary

Someone started solids (just few days before Lizzy turned 6 months)

!!! YEY! Let’s the fun begin. First I prepared her rainbow carrots

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then made cooked lentils

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she was curious to explore

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but milk still tasted better

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Grandma has been taking her for walk once a day and she loves it

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And I love taking the girls to the playground on weekends, even nicer when Tony comes along too

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Sunday is my long run day and I love it. First because I get to run with Tony for 2-3 miles, then I’ll have solo run for 5-6 more. When I come back home, Tony already gone with Sofia for her swimming class, which means I get to enjoy peaceful breakfast by myself. Still loving the toast + eggs + cheese + avocado combo

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More birthday parties to attend (2 that weekend)

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Sofia still loves her ballet class

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Last Saturday 10/22 Tony and I went on a date to celebrate our first anniversary. The actual date of anniversary is 10/27, but I’ll be in Brazil that day for work, so we celebrate it the day before I left. It was a gorgeous day

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we went to the French restaurant Chez Francois.. one of my favorite place in VA

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we had the fix menu that started with a fennel soup with a very intense white wine flavor which I really liked

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for appetizer, Tony had mussels

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and I had mushroom crepe (I always have this when I come here)

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for main dish, Tony had the lamb

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and I had the seafood stew, love it

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we both enjoyed a lot the food and each others company. Now with two kids is harder to have time alone as couple, but I’m glad that we both think it’s something important for us to keep our intimacy so we make an extra effort for it to happen.

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sometimes I still find myself amazed by this new life. I could never imagined we would be together, so in love, and with two lovely girls.

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cheers for more years in love to come!!!

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