Life: race is on & weekend happening

After 24 hrs of deep thought! I signed up for the September 12, 2016 Park half marathon, the same one that I did 6 years ago!!! 😀 What pushed me to make the decision was great memory I have from that training, the sense of accomplishment I had after each of the long runs, support from Tony and knowing that 4 of my friends are running it too, 2 of them run with me last time. I’m super excited about it.

On Sunday I did 6 miles. My plan was to run it slow so I could increase mileage. When I finished.. I felt great, so great that I could run probably 1-2 miles more. And it turned out, I wasn’t too slow.

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There’s 9 weeks to go until the race day and I’ve written down my plan. Both for the half marathon and continuing with MUTU. Glad that I’m on maternity leave so I can spend 2 hrs per day training.

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Lizzy started to play in the playmat and she seems to like it. She could lie down there by herself for half an hour. Sofia loves to join her.

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Saturday morning we stayed at home and had BBQ for lunch

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because Sofia and I had a girls night planned. We went to see Cirque Italia

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it was our first time going to cirques and it was quite fun

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Sofia was definitely excited to watch the show

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Sunday morning was swimming class for Sofia. Then we went to have lunch at Iron Chef

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We ordered 3 appetizers: a spicy seafood soup (I had it almost all of it!)

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shrimp dumpling (mostly consumed by Sofia)

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grilled squid

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Sushi deluxe

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Sashimi deluxe

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It was a great meal, so refreshing for a warm day. Lizzy behaved real well. The trick is to time it well with her sleeping schedule. She woke up, I nursed her and left the house. When returned home 2 hrs later and she was ready to go for a nap.

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Sofia enjoys eating out and trying new food nowadays. Although she’s not very adventurous but she’s willing to try at least one, like squid, and asked for more.

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Sunday evening we went to a soccer play. Tony loves soccer but haven’t found anywhere to play. So meetup.com did the magic. We signed up on a Saturday morning and he was playing the next day. Definitely going back for more!

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while he played, Sofia played in the playground, I fed her dinner and I did some reading. Perfect way to end the weekend.

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Now that Tony started working, weekends are even more precious. Loving it!

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Life: happening, eating and more

Playing catch up again. I really hope I can blog more from now on… maybe 3 times a week just as I did when I was on maternity leave last time. I really enjoy reading those. Good memories. Now.. we are living another special time.. and I want to record it too.

Happening

First let’s see how we celebrated grandma’s birthday this year. It was a surprise celebration. I didn’t tell her when was her birthday this year but secretly planned it with Sofia and Tony. Sofia came back with a cake and my mom was happily surprised! 🙂

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following tradition, we had noodle for dinner.

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Sofia helped blowing the candle while Lizzy continued staring at her sister

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Everyone enjoyed the cake and the ocassion

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including Lizzy… she had a “taste” of the cake

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I love my mom so much. She’s the wisest woman I know. She is also caring, generous and always there when I need her. I notice that she’s getting older, not as energetic as few years ago. Her time with us here in the US will be limited. She will probably go back to  China next year. We will all miss her so much.

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As present for grandma, I took her and Sofia to see Riverdance. I saw the show 7 or 8 years ago and at that time I knew she would love it. So when I was thinking about what to give for her birthday, Riverdance happened to be in town that weekend.

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Three generations of women went on a date… it was a lovely day

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it was Sofia’s first show experience and she behaved really well

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It was the perfect present for grandma. She really liked it. Now that she’s getting older, I think she enjoys experience over material goods. I will definitely share more memorable experiences with her. These are invaluable.

We’ve been exploring farmer’s market on Saturdays. The last time I went with Miss Sofia alone and treated her with a popsicle. She was so happy.

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Sofia started her swimming lessons. Now she’s in Peddle II.

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We went to a pool party at Brian’s, one of Sofia’s classmate

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she had such a blast! I wish we had a pool at home too. She could spend the whole afternoon in the water.

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Lizzy started to smile and “talk” to us. She’s such a happy baby, so easy to be content! 🙂

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On July 4th weekend, Sofia and I prepared a icebox cake to take to a friend’s BBQ party

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she had so much fun putting those fillings.

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We will definitely make it again next year.

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We took Lizzy to the mall one day… one of few outings with her other than to restaurants. As long as I keep moving around with the stroller, she’s content.

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I love seeing Tony interacting with Sofia. I know I say it repeatedly, but I still feel moved when I see them together.

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Four days weekend at home drives me crazy… Sofia has so much energy to release. I was out of ideas… so I took her to ride bike for a while, teaching her how to turn without falling

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I encourage Tony to exercise, Sofia likes to join.

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We invited friends over to play with Sofia, so we make egg tarts

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Sofia loves cooking with me and I love having her as company. I wish she enjoys cooking as much as I do in the future.

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They played for few hours and they got tired too. Some downtime with the iPhone.

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by the end of the long weekend, I was so exhausted. I didn’t want to move out of the couch.

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This Monday the teacher called me. I was in panic. Fortunately it was nothing major but we  still took Sofia to get checked. Apparently little girls can have yeast infection too. Who knew? But it’s nothing to worry about. Just keep her private area clean and dry, apply the cream twice a day for two weeks.

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Eating

I’ve been eating really clean lately because I can prepare meals myself. I love it! I enjoy cooking and I feel the greatest when I eat clean with tons of veggies, lean meat, limited fat and fruit, and almost no grains.

For breakfasts I’m addicted to is this protein cake. Made with 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, 3 egg whites, 2 TB corn flour, 1 TB cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt and stevia. Mix, microwave for 3’50”, top with PB2 sauce. It’s like eating dessert for breakfast. So so good. I think I had it for 3 weeks straight and each day still looking forward to it.

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for savory option, I’d have a grilled wrap filled with 1 egg, 1/2 C egg white, 1 oz. mozzarella cheese and 1 slice of smoked ham.

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or this savory pancake made with 1/4 C of chickpea flour and the same feelings as the wrap.

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For my mom and Tony, I prepared egg muffins

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bread with ham, bacon and hash browns

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waffles with PB2 sauce and homemade berries jam

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I don’t often have morning snacks, if I do, it has been mainly pistachios, my fav nuts!

I usually eat lunch pretty late… around 1:30pm. Some random combos:

a soupy mixture of shrimp head, tofu, napa cabbage and shiitake noodles.

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taco bowl made with grounded turkey, sautéed kale, chipotle salsa and cauliflower rice. Such a filling and tasty meal.

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when it’s hot, I’d have a salad. This one has lettuce, tomato, cucumber, asian blend veggies and grilled shrimp. I made an asian dressing with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey.

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similar salad with grilled tofu

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Quick stir fry with whatever I had: kale, palm heart, red onion and tempeh.

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Asian blend sautéed with onion, kale and homemade turkey meatballs, with tons of spicy korean sauce.

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asian blend sautéed with shrimp, paired with cauliflower rice

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asian blend sauteed with onion and turkey meatball, paired with cauliflower rice

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sauteed purple cabbage with kale, grounded turkey and shiitake noodles.

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Tony’s (he gained 10 lbs recently, so I’m trying to get him to eat cleaner too).

seaweed tofu soup, homemade chickpea and bean burger, and sweet potato fries

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pasta with carrot and turkey meatball. I added carrots so he doesn’t feel it was too small a portion of pasta.

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milanese with tomato and roasted sweet potato

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We eat a veggie loaded chinese dinner. We typically have 1 or 2 veggie dishes, 1 protein (mainly fish or chicken, occasionally beef or pork or tofu)

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We’ve been doing a lot of BBQ too. As simple as salad with sausage

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and grilled vegetables

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Misc:

I finished Grit. I was very excited when I first hear about it. However, the message is simple and I don’t think it needs such a long book to deliver it.

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I’m running again! I started at 6 weeks postpartum. Now I’m addicted to it. I’m following Nike’s 5k coaching program so I don’t have to decide how long I should run everyday. I just follow the plan and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

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Well… that’s a long recap. Hopefully I’ll start posting more from now on. Good news coming up.

Life: lately

Life has ups and downs. We all know that but still find it hard when you are in downs. We’ve been experiencing rollercoaster lately. It’s hard but we are trying to be positive and hopeful.

I know this moment (newborn stage) is precious, no matter how hard life hits us, we still need to enjoy it as much as possible. I remind myself of that everyday.

I try to have quality time with Sofia every weekend as she’s in a stage between liking to be accompanied when she does things. As simple as taking her to playground makes her so happy.

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I am amazed by how happy she can be be playing the toys that she’d played hundreds of time as every time is her first time! I need to learn this skill, it could make me so much happier.

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Summer is here means festivals!!!

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The last time we were at Vienna festival, Sofia was one year and half and she couldn’t play. But this time she wants to do all of them!

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She’s truly fearless and adventurous.

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As I watch her going in and out by herself, I am a bit sad, my little baby has turned into a kid, soon she will walk out of my life. Well… I’m being dramatic, but if you are a mom too, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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I can see in her face that she has mixed feeling about going into new things… a mix between excitement and fear. But that’s great! Because she’ll have so many more new things to her, and I’d encourage her to try them. Life is about experience, good or bad, we need to experience them by ourselves to truly understand the feeling and treasure them, they are all valuable to form who we are.

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Some people says at age of 3 personality has formed. If that is the case, Sofia is adventurous but cautious, caring, compassionate, sweet, flexible, thinker (quick in making connection between events or things), and has facility with languages. She’s fluent in english, spanish and shanghainese. She’s still learning mandarin although she understands it. She even sings french sometimes. These languages will be assets for her in the future and they came so natural to her, effortless almost.

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She loves dancing. Often time she’d ask me or grandma to play music so she can dance for us.

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More recently, she’s developed the girl nature… wanting to be pretty! she’d sit still if it means she’ll get her hair done. So funny!

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We went to Herdon festival the following week. She didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time.

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she still prefers mommy than anyone else. Although I’m very strict with her and often time yell at her (during meal time), she still feel safe with me, and wants my approval or acknowledge more than anyone else’s.

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We could be “fighting” one minute, and 5 min later, laughing silly to each other. I think it’s important to be able to have fun with her despite having to enforce rules.

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She does powertot at school. Once every semester parents are invited to see their progress. It was my first time going and she was extremely happy.

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so proud of her.

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she has been such a great sister to Lizzy. So caring and protective of her.

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I think she has my look and smile. 🙂

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We’ve been having visitors to meet Lizzy. Since Lizzy is sleeping so much and not interactive yet, Sofia got to play with them.

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Lizzy, the angel baby, is getting cuter and cuter.

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We’ve had our first harvest of the season.

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the most tender, fresh and delicious lettuce ever!!!

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I’ve had lettuce salad for lunch in a row until I finished all we had for the moment. Because the lettuce is so fresh, simple ingredients as tomato, heart of palm, red onion and tofu, dressed in olive oil and lemon, makes a delicious meal.

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or with a chickpea quinoa burger

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with tahini lemon sauce

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I’ve also had several kale salad. Massaged kale with a spicy tahini dressing (tahini, lemon, S+P, cayenne and nutritional yeast), tomato and seared tofu.

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I’ve been making waffles for the family. Sofia likes it with PB for breakfast.

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Myself, I’m in a pumpkin protein cake kick lately, topped with PB sauce. It’s so satisfying and delicious, it holds me for good 4 hours.

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I’ve been working out every morning, like very early. It’s great to breath fresh air, clear mind, awake my body and hear interesting podcasts. I head out around 6:30am when the sun is still not too strong. I started jogging almost two weeks ago and it feels great! I started with 15 min jog, and now I can do 40 min. To have some structure, I’m following nike 5k training plan. I don’t have a race signed up, but jogging 3 miles everyday could get boring. So far I’m enjoying the plan.

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Eating out is not easy with two kids but we try to do sometimes. When we eat out, we like to try new cuisines, things that I don’t know how to cook. The most recent one was another middle-east cuisine. We started with a mix of greek yogurt, hummus, baba ganoush and olives.

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a spinach tart

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for our entree, it came a bean/vegetable soup with a side of salad

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we shared two dishes: one mixed kebab that has chicken, lamb and grounded beef

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and the other only chicken

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while we enjoyed our food, Lizzy looked around, that’s enough entertainment to her.

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grandma takes so good care of her

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we eat very simple for lunch and often time at different times (mom likes to eat around noon, I like to eat when I’m hungry, usually around 1:30pm, and Tony somewhere in between). But we all sit together for dinner so we prepare a good dinner to enjoy as family. I think family dinners are important part of the family tradition, a moment when we share our days and thoughts. Although we don’t do the talk part yet because otherwise Sofia talks instead of eating, but at least we make sure everyone is around the table at dinner time. As she gets older, we will introduce the talking part. Now it’s mainly just me talking to Tony and mom, and trying to get Sofia to eat meanwhile.

In term of food, we eat heavy in vegetables as you can see, and 1 or 2 dishes or either fish, shrimp, chicken or meat (only 1-2 times a week of red meat).

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6/5 was chinese festival when family get to eat 粽子. A packet filled with glutinous rice and aduki bean wrapped in a big leaf. None of us have ever made it before so it was new to us. It was quite fun to figure out how to wrap it so the rice would not escape while cooking.

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Tony tried and failed. My mom tried and failed.

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but I did well…. not pretty, not equal sized, but it worked.

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Sofia loves it!!!! This girl loves all things made with glutinous rice. It was delicious!!!

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Lizzy has became such an easy-to-laugh baby. When she’s fed, she laughs when we talk to her.

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Last weekend we celebrated Tony’s first father’s day with a surprise gift from three women.

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Sofia even sing a song for him.

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and had a simple BBQ at the backyard.

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Summer has just started. It’s humid and hot, but it’s summery, relaxing and sunny. It puts us in a positive mode by default, we just need to follow. 🙂

Life lately

Since Lizzy is still so little, we can’t do much activities outside the house. We did take her out a couple of times, but I notice that she doesn’t get good rest while on the road. So we try to minimize that. When we go out, either my mom stays with Lizzy, or Tony stays with her.

Sofia has been an incredible sister. Although we’ve given a lot of attention to Lizzy, she never showed jealousy. She’s always been very understandable. Every time that I tell her that mommy can’t play with her at that moment because I had to feed Lizzy, she never complained. She’s also very eager to help. She’d bring the nursing pillow whenever I nurse Lizzy. If we’re downstairs and Lizzy cries while sleeping, Sofia wants to check on her for all of us. She also loves giving a lot of kisses and hugs to Lizzy, and insists every night that Lizzy watches her eat dinner.

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I am aware that I might be diverted some attention away from Sofia, so I’m making extra effort to make quality time with her whenever I can.

I took her to a ballet class with her best friend one day and she enjoyed so much.

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She’s so cute in the tutu. I signed up classes for her already starting in July, I’m sure she will enjoy it. This girl loves dancing. Whenever we put music, she wants to dance.

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We also went to Teri’s birthday party.

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it was in a playground so Sofia had fun climbing up

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and face painting

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the first thing she did when arriving home was to show her face to Lizzy

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We had her friend Laura over for dinner one day. These two girls know how to entertain themselves alone.

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Almost every weekend, my mom will take Sofia to the mall for some window shopping

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I’m so grateful to have my mom here who can devote 100% of her attention to Sofia.

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Sofia started to really like dolls. She’d grab my nursing pillow and her doll and pretend that she’s feeding her baby.

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She loves to imitate everything that mommy does. 🙂

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She started to really like posing for pictures. She has almost a daily photo session with grandma at the backyard.

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We had a dentist appointment. It was the third time and she almost didn’t cry! YAY!!! I love that the place is set up for kids, all kind of distractions for them to cooperate.

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she loves going to playgrounds. She’s tiny but fearless. She’d try any equipment, even not age appropriate.

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Summer is her and we’ve been having weekly BBQs, the quickest and easiest meal ever.

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Sofia love it too.

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To celebrate Lizzy’s one month, we went to Yayla bistro, a mediterranean turkish restaurant.

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I feel blessed to have such beautiful family. Two lovely girls, one loving husband and the best mom in the world, all with me everyday!!!

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The food was delicious! It started with a turkish bread with olive spread.

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we ordered an assorted appetizers. My favorite was dolma.

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as main dish, we also ordered an assorted meat (beef, chicken, lamb and grounded beef). It came with rice and grilled vegetables. The best was the beef but the chicken was really tender and juicy too.

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and the flatbread as side.

We got a free dessert to share: a turkish rice pudding. Really sweet but tasty. Sofia had almost half of it.

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So… that’s what we’ve been doing other than admiring this face

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later …

Easter fun & ready to receive Lizzy

Life has been hectic lately… between late pregnancy discomfort, getting ready to receive Lizzy, paranoia with every symptom wondering if I’m going to labor, and preparing for a job interview… I’ve been tired, anxious and not in my peace mind lately. But… everything will be just fine… i know it will. 🙂

For Easter this year.. we took Sofia to two egg hunting events. The first one was hosted by Falls Church and there were hundreds of kids ready to “attack”

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right after it started… Sofia run.. but this little girl was picky… she only wanted pink or purple eggs…

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so.. less than a minute or so… the fun ended

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but we got to take pics with Bunny

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weather is getting better these days… although still unpredictable… we just had snow this weekend. So we’ve been going to playgrounds more often

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on Sunday we went to another egg hunt organized by the neighbor church

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there were crafting stations before the hunting

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and this time.. Sofia proudly got a basket of eggs… 🙂

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we went to a indian restaurant last Friday, called Zaika

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we got a sampler appetizer

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a lamb curry, tandori chicken and nan. We all enjoyed the meal… I really liked the chicken and the basmati rice. I’m gonna make them at home soon. 🙂

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because I’m so close to my due date, I’ve been seeing friends/colleagues last minutes at work and at home. Laura paid us a visit last Sunday, she’s Sofia’s favorite little sister so far.

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Sofia is so ready to receive Lizzy. She’d “predict” when she’ll come.. but so far no luck.

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her monkey is her favorite friend nowadays.. she takes her to sleep.. to play, to eat… everywhere.

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enjoying her Saturday treat “ice cream”.

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We are so ready!!! I stopped going to work last Thursday because I thought she’d be here by now (today’s my due date), but so far nothing happened. We’d keep waiting for her grand arrival 🙂

Life lately

As we are approaching the end of one-child family… life gets busier. Between me trying to move to another job, preparing the house for the newborn, and me being comfortable most of the days… I don’t get accomplish much. But we’ve been having fun nonetheless

Sofia is getting more and more excited about the baby sister. She’s so ready to “take care” of her.

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my friend Natalia from Buenos Aires came to visit us for few days.

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she bounded immediately with Sofia.

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although the weather was quite chilly, we managed to do some tourist outing

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Sofia started to go to swimming class again, this time alone. I was afraid that she wouldn’t go to the pool alone with the instructor as the previous time she went with Tony. But nope, the girl surprised us by being totally fine going alone

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and had a total blast

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she truly enjoys herself in the water.. and going to swimming class every sunday morning excites her

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we also went to her classmate’s birthday party, where she had fun with her favorite girlfriends Gaby and Sofia S. These girls fight and play everyday together.

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she used to be a shy and serious girl when she was a baby, but now, she’s outgoing and easy to make new friends. So proud of her.

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this pic melts my heart. Tony cleans her ears once a week, and she loves it!!!

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I’ve been cooking but forgot to take pics. Here’s a carrot cake I made

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and our new sunday tradition: homemade pizza. For this one I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough, topped with roasted chicken, pepper and mozzarella cheese. So easy and so yummy~~~

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Grandma is coming next Tuesday. So excited to have her back! She went away for 6 months… although it was great to be a family of 3, now that a new baby is coming, my mom’s help and presence will be so important to hold us all together and sane. 🙂

Playing catch up

I don’t know where my time went these last couple of weeks. Although work is not busy and we don’t do much during weekends, I still can’t find time to sit and write. Probably because I’m tired most of the time and all I want to do is to nap or just lie on the couch and read.

Two weeks ago we went to Laura’s birthday party. Sofia and Laura have became a close friend recently… they play so well together that adults can comfortably chat and “forget” about them for hours.

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Sofia enjoyed her cupcake frosting. She hates the actual cake though.

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They would sit together on the bed and watch cartoons together.

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the funniest thing is that they speak in shanghainese to each other. So cute!

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meanwhile… the pregnant mom sit and watch them play, and snack (obviously! )

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Then we celebrated Valentine’s day together. Roses + Chocolate, a classic.

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We wanted to go out for brunch but everywhere was booked so we stayed at home and a simple meal

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stopped by the mall for some shopping

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on Sunday we made tofu curd… it came out perfect and it was so easy to make! Definitely making more.

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these two melt my heart when they are together 🙂

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another meal at home: baked salmon, scrambled eggs, sautéed chicken with cauliflower and black fungus, and bok choy. As I get bigger, I only cook proper meals during weekends these days… during the week, we eat very simple, 1-2 dishes top, or even just sweet potato baked with some frozen soup.

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we had another snow storm last week… Sofia demanded for some play time

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and then, on Monday she got pink eyes. She woke up with swollen eyes but I didn’t pay much attention. After her nap, her eyes were really pink and swollen and excessive discharges. Tony suggests to take her to the ER right away. Glad we did that. She definitely had pink eyes. They gave us antibiotics and asked her to stay home for at least 24 hrs to avoid spreading to other kids.

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so on Tuesday we stayed home.

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Unfortunately I got pink eyes too, on Thursday, when Sofia was already cleared up. It is quite annoying but not painful. I’m still on antibiotic. 😦

Last Friday we went to a Chinese new year celebration organized at work

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enjoyed some Chinese food and performances

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This weekend I prepared another traditional breakfast dish… a gigantic savory pancake filled with churros. YUM YUM~~~

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on Sunday we went to the zoo. The weather was nice at first but ended up raining

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but we did have a lot of fun

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because we saw BeiBei!!! She is soooo cute, although a bit dumb because she was stuck on the tree the whole time… and even managed to take a nap there

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Sofia kept asking me where was Beibei’s mom, why she wasn’t coming to help her

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to her, babies are supposed to be with their moms… and moms take care of their child. 🙂

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we also saw Beibei’s sister

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who was having a feast

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all done and going home! 🙂 WE should revisit sometime soon because we didn’t get a chance to see the monkeys, Sofia’s favorite animal at the moment.

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I enjoy a lot outings with Sofia and Tony… I really want to do more now that the weather is getting warmer. But at the same time, I’m getting more and more uncomfortable these days… so I’m exhausted by the end of the week…. a tricky balance.