I am a wife, mother of two beautiful children and continually on the quest to better myself. I will share my experiences, tips and adventures through motherhood in hopes that it helps other moms better the quality of their lives. I will share my stories, favorite products, review books and just share my random thoughts on how to be a great mother, wife and better person in the community.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photography & Kids

I've always had an interest in photography.  Even when I was younger, I was always snapping shots of my siblings.  In fact, most of the family pictures we have of when we were kids were taken by me.  In high school - I was one of the yearbook photographers.  But for some reason, I never pursued that side of my life.  Probably because as a profession, it didn't involve being a doctor, lawyer or some math/science related field, and my father only allowed us to pursue a "professional" field. 

When my daughter Ava was born in 2008, it was the perfect excuse to get serious and really interested in photography again.  Mind you, my skills are not even remotely close to the professional photographers you see, but I can always dream and strive towards that goal right?  So, before my daughter was born, I invested in a good DSLR camera, a 50mm lens for portrait photography and just started snapping away.  My first goal was to stop taking pictures in "automatic" mode and to venture into the different manual modes and understanding terminology such as f-stop, aperture, ISO,white balance, and spot meter.  I've also invested in Photoshop to see what my other possibilities were.

For those unfamiliar with a 50mm lens - it is a relatively reasonable lens that is great for portrait photography.  It has really stepped up the quality of shots I've been able to capture of my kids.  In order to get a jump start on the whole process, I actually took a half day seminar from the person that took my family pictures.  It got me even more interested in learning and practicing - but also looking at some pricier, more expensive lenses.  Dangerous!

Where all this practicing will lead me, I'm not sure yet.  I've had visions dancing around in my head of becoming a more "professional" photographer and starting a business.  I personally don't think I'm at that level yet, but the thought does keep coming up.  I have had numerous friends that had kids recently, and they all have asked me what baby products I would recommend.  My advice is to invest in a camera - because there is something about capturing these moments that just appeals to me.  These kids grow up quickly and having these pictures not only remind me of what I've experienced through the years, but also leaves me with great pictures to share with (or blackmail) them in the future.  :)

Here are some of my favorites from the last few years.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Finer Things in Life

Have you stretched lately?  And I mean one of those full body stretches, where you lay down flat and just extend your arms and legs as far as possible.  I was watching my son last night as he was performing one of these stretches and it got me thinking that I should try that sometime too.  Well, it was amazing and did not disappoint!  No wonder he does it all the time!  You need to try it, for real!

Then it really got me thinking about how my perspective of what the finer things in life are has changed.  It used to be great wine and foods, traveling to cool and new places and looking for the next adventure.  And now?  Well at the top of my list, it would have to be an uninterrupted hot shower, being able to finish my hot cup of coffee, and the sound of complete silence.  I will wake up very early in the morning in order to enjoy these few things, this morning being one of those mornings.

Along those lines, I recently got a new single serve coffee dripper for my birthday and I absolutely LOVE IT!  That, paired with Caffe Vita's Caffe Luna coffee beans make the best cup of coffee I have enjoyed in a very long time, and I prefer it over any drink you can get at Starbucks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Working Out Again

A couple of weeks ago, my weight loss came to a standstill - just 8 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight.  I haven't been working out and I just assumed that i would drop the pounds easily and naturally with breastfeeding as I had the first time around.  I came to the realization that with my second child, my body just wasn't going to snap back to normal on its own.  So, with the blessing of my doctor, I started to work out.  

I stepped into the gym for the first time in a year, wearing guilt on my back and a self-conscious look on my face.  Just 5 minutes on the elliptical machine (Level 1 mind you) and I was already out of breath.  MAN I AM OUT OF SHAPE!!!  Ok, so the key is to keep going because it gets easier right?  On day 2, I pushed myself out of the house and to the gym again and sure enough, it took me 10 minutes to get out of breath.  Day 3 - even easier!  But there is just one problem.  I HATE WORKING OUT.  By the third day, I was already bored and I definitely needed something to keep me motivated. I considered getting a personal trainer, but with the ridiculously expensive cost involved, I've decided to do as much as I can on my own and maybe consider a trainer once I hit a plateau in my weight loss.  So what do I do to keep on going?  I just need to vary the activities that I do.  I go for a brisk walk (at least 2 miles) on sunny days, do squats while holding the baby, and sit ups and pilates while watching watching tv.  I also have a great workout music playlist on my ipod which makes it bearable while on the exercising machines.  

Well - my hard work has paid off.  In 2 weeks, I've lost 5 pounds and started my weight loss again.  Hopefully I can keep this up until I hit my goal, and maybe even surpass it.  For those that are interested, here is a list of a few of the songs on my workout playlist:

1.  Apple Bottom Jeans - T Pain
2.  Good Vibrations - Marky Mark
3.  Sexy Back - Justin Timberlake
4.  Hey Baby - DJ Otzi
5.  Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
6.  La Camisa Negra - Juanes
7.  Living on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
8.  La Duena del Swing - Los Hermanos Rosario
9.  The Way I Are - Timbaland

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Early Learning - Just another competition

Back in high school, during a passing conversation I was having with one of my friends I remember her suddenly asking me "why do you have to make everything into a competition?".  Although I don't remember the subject we were talking about, I really do remember that question throwing me.  My first thought was "WHAT?  I don't make everything into a competition!".  Because up until that point, I had not realized that I was a competitive person.  Up until that point, I thought I was just trying to do my best at every activity I pursued - especially since that was what my parents expected of us.

Ever since then, I had an awareness of every time I had to be the best at something, whether it was getting the best grade on a test,or even ensuring that I had the most amount of french fries compared to my siblings.   So it is no surprise that once my daughter was born, I had to ensure that she would be the best at everything she did too - whether it be language skills, knowing her letters and numbers, or even walking before other kids her age.

It's probably this same need to be competitive that also made me hesitant and annoyed in being part of other mommy groups.  There were other competitive moms that were doing the same thing - and to make it worse, they were bragging about it.  The one thing about being competitive about your kids though, is that you can only do so much.  The rest is up to your child, and it is this lack of control that makes it hard on the competitive parent.  But what can we do as parents to encourage and create an environment where our children can thrive?  Well, I have been reading several books on the topic of early childhood learning - and in fact, I just can't get enough of it.

So for all the competitive moms and dads out there that are also interested in early childhood learning, here's a very good book to read:  "Nurtureshock: New Thinking About Children" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  This was a very interesting book about how some of the things we've been told about kids and their development are totally wrong.  It covers many topics from the importance of sleep in kids, the effects of TV on young kids, why kids lie, to a learning program called "Tools of the Mind" that has had great success in teaching toddlers both emotional control and advanced learning in reading and math.  It made me want to really start implementing some of the "Tools" traits at home, since there are hardly any schools that have implemented it here in the Seattle area.

The good points of this book include:  great insight into how kids are wired, reference to tons of studies done on kids, coverage of great topics.  The bad:  a lot of statistics are thrown out, with very little commentary in specific actions parents can take; sometimes the topics just end, when a little more elaboration would have been great.

Overall it was a great and insightful book and definitely worth my time to read.  Now that I have my Kindle, I was able to highlight the points that I thought were important, and I can just skim through it the next time around.  :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Elimination Communication

My son Kai just turned one month old over the weekend.  Ever since he was about 2 weeks old, we have been trying out techniques in infant potty training called "Elimination Communication".  Ok, before you start rolling your eyes and commenting about how ridiculous this sounds, just read on for a little bit.

I first learned about "Elimination Communication" or "EC" a few weeks before my son was born - purely by accident, while searching on the web for better techniques on how to potty train my 26 month old.  The more I read about EC, the more I was amazed at all the stories about babies (starting from birth) who are trained to sit on little potties and actually go when cued.  There are even YouTube videos posted on the web by parents showing off how their little infants go to the potty.  It also supposedly leads to some babies being fully potty trained by 6 months old, and kids that signal you whenever they need to go - even before they can talk.  This technique sounded very interesting to me, but I was still VERY skeptical about the whole thing, because really, how much does a little baby know and understand, especially newborn babies.  But at the same time, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to actually try it out, if anything, to save a few diapers from the landfill.  So, I bought a little potty for baby Kai, read the book, and jumped into it.

The idea is that all infants are aware of their bodily function of elimination and they do their best to communicate this to you either by making noises, fussing, or just regular timing.  Part of this program is actually training the parent to hone in on these signs.  Basically to start off, you place your little baby over the toilet or a little potty several times a day while making cueing sounds such as "pssss" or "shhhh" or whatever cue you choose.  At first, it's either the timing or maybe just exposure to open air that probably makes your baby actually eliminate into the potty.  But, the key is to eventually start associating the cue noise with the act of sitting over the potty and actually doing the deed.  The first few catches are definitely exciting and in fact it encourages you to continue on.  My husband actually had much better luck in the beginning, and it got him excited to do it even more!

So here we are now with Kai at one month old, and what kind of progress have we made?  Well, I am amazed that now whenever I hold him over the potty, he definitely goes - and I mean every time he sits.  He has been consistent for about a week now.  Plus now when he's done, he'll straighten out his body to show us that he's done. It really is amazing!

There are hard core EC people, who don't put diapers on their babies, and just rely purely on EC to meet their babies' pottying needs.  These people also carry little potties in their cars and take their kids to public bathrooms at this young age.  There are also others that incorporate using sign language in the training.  I have taken a much more laid back approach to this, and would be considered a "part-time" EC'er, where we just practice this when we're at home.  I also still do put diapers on him - I'm just not comfortable with him being diaperless around the house.  But between practicing EC and using cloth diapers when we're at home, I am proud to say that we have been doing our part in trying to be more "green" and reducing the amount of diapers going into landfills.

For those that are interested in EC, following are some resources to start learning more about it:


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keeping My Sanity

Today marks 4 weeks since my 2nd child was born.  I feel like I'm doing well considering the lack of sleep, trying to balance the needs of my 2 year old, and performing other household duties.  I'm definitely doing better than the first time around.  Why?  It could be that my son is much less maintenance than my daughter was at this age.  But more likely, it's my attitude toward motherhood that's turned a complete 180.  I'm embracing being a mother.  I'm enjoying it more, instead of seeing it as a situation I have to "deal" with.  

It sounds bad, but I was never one that could be a stay at home mom.  I've always felt the need to accomplish things, organize and get things done and have always needed a challenge in my life in order to keep my sanity - typical Type A personality traits.  My problem was that staying at home with a new baby that didn't respond to me did not feel like a challenge, and not being able to get things done really irked me.  I did not feel like I was achieving anything.

So what am I doing now that's different?  I've made a conscious effort to be more of a Type B personality.  Of course, I will never truly have a true type B personality, but I definitely see the importance of being more laid back and relaxed.  I see that in order for me to be physically and mentally healthy, I need to focus on the positive aspects of things, be more flexible, patient and be at peace with myself.  By being in the middle, I realize that picking up a challenge adds the spice I need in my life, yet I need to tame my aggressive and competitive side in order to relax and enjoy my current journey.

The following are a few "must-have's" and "must-do's" that has helped me incorporate "type B" personality traits and keep my sanity through this new period in my life.  Plus, I got to do some online shopping.
  1. Kindle - I got a new Kindle a few weeks ago and I LOVE IT!  It helps me feel like I'm learning new things when reading up on parenting related topics.  I feel challenged in trying to raise kids that are respectful, intelligent and emotionally mature -  and by reading, I'm feeding into my need to accomplish things on my to-do list.
  2. A Fashionable diaper bag - my current choice is the Oioi Chocolate studded leatherette tote.  It doesn't look like a diaper bag, yet it's big enough to carry and organize everything I need for 2 kids.
  3. iPhone - such an improvement over my Blackberry.  I love being able to check the internet and my facebook account when I'm out and about running errands.  It fills my need to be on top of things with the many apps available to organize my crazy life.  My one complaint is that my chubby cheeks tend to hit the screen while on the phone and I've hung up on people or pressed buttons several times now.  :)
  4. Movie mom Thursdays at my local theatre - Lincoln Square Cinemas puts on special movies just for parents who want to bring their kids/infants.  The theatre is full of moms and dads and their babies.  Kids are able to cry, fuss and whine without any judgment from other movie-goers.
  5. A challenge - my two current favorite activities that I'm learning about are photography and piano.  I feel like I'm learning and challenging my brain in picking up these two activities.  Plus - I get the benefit of accumulating great pictures of my family, and hopefully imparting a love of music to my kids. 
  6. A great haircut, eyebrow wax and new lip gloss - it always helps your overall state of mind when you feel like you look good.  It's been said that the outer self is a reflection of what you are feeling inside.  I'm always looking for easy ways not to look like a frazzled new mom.
A link to some of the products I've mentioned are listed below for your convenience:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog!  My main goal for this blog is to present an outlet where I can share my thoughts regarding how to embrace motherhood. My business/entrepreneurial brain considers motherhood as yet another venture in life.  My engineering brain wants to believe that there is a "right" way to balance my family, social, and professional lives.  Hopefully this will be an educational and insightful blog that discusses things that have helped me to be a better mom, wife and better person overall.  I'm sure I will learn a few things along the way and hopefully help others too.  

I will share:
1)  Stories, tips and insights into keeping my sanity
2)  Product reviews
3)  Book reviews related to parenting, motherhood

Happy reading - and please feel free to comment.  I would love to get to know you and for this to be the beginning of a forum for discussing successful living!