It's all about family and home right here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Post Pregnancy Weightloss

I will be updating this entry over time. 

Weight before giving birth: 180.4 lbs  
I had cravings for sweets and slowly stopped exercising toward the end because I had so many aches and pains. 

1 week after giving birth: 168.8 lbs

Week 2: 160.0 lbs 
And I have been maintaining 160 lbs since. 

I started taking walks with Jellybean during the days when my husband is at work. Sometimes I push her stroller, sometimes I carry her in the Ergo Baby carrier.  Let's see if adding light walking helps!  

1/1/2014. Happy New Year!  My weight starting this year has dropped to 155.4 lbs. This is a result of walking around my neighborhood with my daughter. 

Map My Run is the app I'm using. 

Settling into a Routine

It's been a few weeks since we brought our daughter home and the uncertainties of being new parents have subsided a bit. Our daughter is hitting small and large milestones, which is really reassuring to my husband and me. 

She's outgrown 2 sizes of infant clothing and gained 2 pounds over her birth weight. She was weaned off of formula and the bottle and is now exclusively breast fed. 

Her sleep schedule used to be erratic but we're settling into a routine. She sleeps more at night now (thank goodness!) and is up more during the day. I do my best to take her for walks in the morning or afternoon to help get her circadian clock set. 

She loves to play with her daddy. She can track him with her eyes and will often turn her head to wherever he is. 

She has learned how to suck on her fist to comfort herself. She hasn't found her thumb yet. 

She has also started spending more time awake looking around an processing things without crying. 

She's smart!  She has a small window of patience where she will let us know what she needs. If we don't read her cues right, she will lose her patience and start crying. 

Most heartwarming, she is starting to smile with intention at us!  

Merry Christmas and have a Wonderful New Year!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Introducing our Daughter + The Birth Story

The holidays are here and a whole lot of good cheer!  I've been absent for a while but all for a very good reason!  Our daughter was born!

It's definitely different having a newborn in the house.  In a lot of ways, our lives have been turned upside down and our schedules now revolve around our little Jellybean.  At first, there was some resistance on our part to our daughter's schedule, and not being able to do whatever we wanted anymore.  But we quickly learned that our sanity depended on our adapting to her schedule and needs.  Sometimes it's difficult to figure out what our daughter wants when her basic needs have already been met and those are times I think every new parent feels helpless.  But we keep trying to figure out what she needs and eventually she'll settle herself.

I was telling a friend of mine that it sometimes doesn't feel like I'm now a mother.  I sometimes feel like a milk cow being hooked up to a breast pump, a dirty diaper changer, and a shusher.  But there are times when its just my daughter and me and I get so overwhelmed that my husband and I created this little person that I cover her face and hands with kisses until her next wet fart.  I don't think I have an "Aha!" moment where I realized I became a mom, it's been a gradual realization through action.

My husband has been wonderfully supportive this entire time, assuming all the house work and letting me have time to bond and care for our daughter and rest.  I knew he was a keeper a long time ago, but there's something so endearing about a husband who will go to the store and buy maxi pads, nipple shields, breast pumps, and diapers for you.  I feel so lucky to have married him! 

There are 2 parts of the day I love most, besides having the opportunity to sleep or shower, and those are the times when my daughter is awake, alert, and processing her surroundings (not crying), and when my husband gets time to bond with her after work by holding her to his chest or feeding her.  

Jellybean's Birth Story

At 38 weeks pregnant, I was already dilated 1.5 cm and 80% effaced.  I felt some menstrual cramping sometimes with the Braxton Hicks contractions.  I was undecided up to a few days before our scheduled C-section if I would give birth surgically or the old-fashioned way.  When I finally decided to cancel the C-section and go naturally, I regretted that I had cancelled the lamaze classes.  So I read up on how to manage pain naturally and was undecided if I wanted an epidural or not.  This of course, was 38 weeks going on 39 and going on 40 weeks pregnant and not knowing what labor pains felt like.  My husband told be I'd better get the epidural.  (Note: if you look up what labor pains feel like, you will find every bit of information unhelpful, such as what I found here.)

One Sunday night, at around 10pm, my strong Braxton Hicks contractions with menstrual pains started to go from mildly ignorable to not ignorable.  I was able to sleep through most of it but around 4 am, the pain woke me up.  Sometime through the night, the Braxton Hicks contractions with menstrual pain morphed into pain that felt as if my entire intestinal tract was being petrified and carved out of me with a blunt razor blade.  My contractions were regular at 5 minutes apart for an hour, then became irregular again.  I thought for sure I'd get admitted to the hospital because I had never felt pain this intense, where I needed to focus on either holding my breath or breathing through these contractions.


We got to the hospital and got to triage, where the midwife and nurses asked me what level of pain this felt like on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the absolute worst pain ever.

"Nine," I said, trying not to moan or grunt through one of the still irregular contractions.

The midwife examined me and said I was only 2 cm dilated and discharged me, telling me that I was supposed to wait until the contractions became stronger and closer together.  I think my eyes must have bugged out of my head because what came out of my mouth was, "It's supposed to hurt more?!"  The nurse discharged me with 2 pills for pain.

My husband drove us back home where I spent the next 12 hours on the couch, sleeping between contractions, and noting during contractions that the 2 pills must have been sugar pills because they weren't working.  During those 12 hours passing out between contractions, the pain morphed again and became more intense.  

So, what did the worst of my labor contractions feel like?  Like the above, intestinal tracts seizing up and being carved out with a blunted razor blade, then simultaneously feeling like my insides were going to drop out of me and that I was being pulled apart and was going to tear at the lower abdomen.

Holding on to my husband, yelling, moaning, grunting, holding my breath, breathing through the contractions, and counting numbers helped get me through it.  At around 4 pm, I couldn't take it anymore.  I told my husband we needed to go back to the hospital and they simply HAD to give me something for pain regardless if I was 4 cm dilated or not.  I wasn't going to leave without something for the pain.

We got back to triage and the midwife examined me again and said the blessed words, "You are 4 cm dilated!"  My words were, "Thank God!  Please give me the epidural now!"  It actually took more than 2 hours for them to hook me up to the epidural because I needed to be formally admitted to a delivery room and had to answer a questionnaire.  But once the epidural was administered, my labor pains subsided and I did not feel a thing.  My legs became numb and at one point my left leg flopped off the delivery bed and I wasn't able to get it back onto the bed without some help.

One of the nurses had given me Stadoll through an IV drip in triage.  It didn't do anything for the pain, I feel, but it did make me so sleepy.  So, with the Stadoll and the epidural, I slept from 8 pm to 12 am the next morning.  And that's when the midwife came in to tell me my contractions were 2 minutes apart and we needed to get ready to push.  

"Whaaa...?" I slurred.  I didn't think my contractions were that close or that the birth of my daughter was going to happen right then an there.  I hadn't felt a thing!

It took the nurse and midwife some time to prepare for the pushing, which gave my mom just enough time to get to the hospital.  All in all, I pushed for 15 minutes and got to feel my daughter's head as she crowned, when her head came out, and I got to hold her to my chest the moment she was out.  I saw my husband cut her umbilical cord, and I laughed and cried as my daughter took her first breaths and let out her cute little wails.  

I've said during my pregnancy how much I wanted to see my husband hold his daughter for the first time.  I think he felt bewildered and deliriously happy and also terrified all at the same time.  I can't say I felt much different than him those first days.  But I'm pleased to report that after so many days of getting to know our daughter, we both have a new kind of confidence and faith in our little family.  

My hat's off to the women who do this more than once and for the parents who go at this alone.  It takes a lot of strength, patience and love to do this.    

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Empties

I love the feeling of finishing multiple products each month!  For October, I am pleased to present the following:


Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiance Exfoliating Wash
The Hubs got this for me last year from a breast cancer awareness event his work hosted.  I have been using it ever since with my Clarisonic Mia2.  You can use it without the Clarisonic because it has micro crystals in the product that help exfoliate and polish your skin.  But I really enjoyed it with the Clarisonic to clean out stubborn blackheads in my pores.  What I loved about this product individually and together with the Clarisonic was how soft and smooth my skin was after each cleansing.

Kate Lorraine Placenta Serum
My thoughts here.   Have you ever had an opinion about a certain product strengthen or weaken depending on the products you use after finishing it?  I just wanted to bring it up because my opinion about Kate Lorraine Placenta Serum strengthened.  The Placenta Serum really did something to bring out an inner glow around the center of my face that I'm not seeing with my current serum.

Merle Norman Luxiva Moisture Rich Facial Treatment
This is a face mask that my BFF sent me a while ago.  I liked using it only during specific seasons like autumn and winter, when the weather cools down and my skin gets less oily and more dry.  It's an okay moisture mask.  It seemed to work more effectively after exfoliation, so I kept it in the shower with me to use after cleansing my face.  How I used it was in the shower, at the beginning of the shower and rinsed it off at the end of the shower.  

Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil
My thoughts here.  I credited this before with helping me not get any stretch marks.  Since finishing the last maracuja oil vial, I've had to switch to a different oil and noticed that I suddenly have stretch marks and itchy patches.  I have 1 stretch mark by my belly button, and 4 on my left hip/love handle area.  They are all shaped like Harry Potter's scar.  Now, I'm not completely sure if Tarte's maracuja oil is solely responsible for keeping my skin in great condition or if the stretch marks and itchy patches was going to happen regardless because the baby and I are just getting that much bigger.  

Cotton Rounds
Necessary tools.  ^_^


Body Shop Vineyard Peach Shower Gel
A gift from my BFF, I love love love the scent of this shower gel!  I didn't use it as a shower gel, I used it as a hand soap after putting on tinted moisturizer.  If I could, I would live in the scent.

Dove Winter Care (body wash)
I bought this last year to use for the winter.  It's taken me a while to finish this 3-pack of body wash because... well... I just don't like the way this body wash doesn't lather as much as regular soap without me dumping a bunch onto my wash rag.  

Earth Mama, Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil
This is the oil I used after the Tarte maracuja oil.  It had a nice citrus scent to it.  I felt that it helped keep my skin moisturized but I also developed stretch marks and itchy spots under this oil's watch.  Again, I'm not sure if it's because the oil wasn't effective enough or if the stretch marks and itchy spots were going to happen no matter what I used on my skin.  Either way, I'd recommend this oil to expecting moms because the scent would really help with morning sickness.

That's it for my October Empties.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 25, 2013

... And the baby is...

A GIRL!!!!

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law really outdid themselves with this baby shower.  I have never had a shower of any sort, so they vowed to rectify that as soon as they heard that.  I am so incredibly blessed to have them for my in-laws.  They did everything from planning to cooking, to setting up and cleaning up.  They hosted everyone and totally blew me out of the water with the gifts they got for the baby.  My SIL is going to be a great Auntie!!

Look at the gifts that we got!  My husband and I were expecting... I don't know, maybe 5 gifts or so...  We were not expecting this much.  When I brought all the gifts home, my husband was so overcome with gratitude for the family.  :-)

One of the gifts was a onesie that had a cute design on the front.  Behold!

I got to meet new cousins-in-law from my husband's side of the family.  It was great to see how excited they were for us, too!

This is a happy time for us but I have to point it out... look at how plump I have become!

Pregnancy Update

I'm coming up to the end of my pregnancy and I'll be honest with ya.... I CANNOT WAIT TO HAVE THIS BABY!!!!  While the physical discomforts are ever-present and I am waddling more like a duck than ever, the excitement to finally meet our daughter is eclipsing everything else.  I can't wait to see my husband hold his daughter for the first time, to see his face as he looks at her for the first time, and to watch him interact with her.  The most exciting and special moments for me are being able to witness my husband's excitement to become a father.  

We've taken a couple of classes on baby care and breastfeeding and have come away feeling less prepared than we thought.  One of the handouts said to expect going through 100 diapers a week.  What?!  A hundred diapers a week?!  I'm sure we don't even have 50 diapers in the changer right now.  I remain optimistic, though.  We can do this!  This is the time for real teamwork from now until forever.

Final thoughts:  A normal pregnancy seems to run closer to 10 months than 9.  I've already hit the 9 month mark and it seems that I have to be pregnant through the 9th month.  Where the heck did the 9 month thing come from then?  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Figure Robics by Jung Dayeon: Figure Dance UPDATE

For those who are interested in viewing the Jung Dayeon Figure Dance workout, here is the link to viewing the workout!

So, yeah, my little post on the workouts may differ a tiny bit from the real workout because I was typing out the instructions from memory.  Sorry for the confusion.  However, please do enjoy the workout.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

ZWOW 59: Core and Abs

Zuzka's Workout Of the Week 59 caught my interest because it's pretty low impact for a Zuzka Light workout.  I've been following her for a little over 3 years and I think she's so inspirational.  She maintains a positive attitude and invites her viewers to do the workout with her.  All of her workouts require good form.

I want to add this to my post-baby workout routine around week 5 or 6, or when my doctor says it will be okay to do more intense workouts.

Ready...  Set...  Let's Start!

RDL Pushups consists of 4 moves:
  • Basic pushup
  • Step one foot by your hand
  • Touch elbow to the floor
  • The stretch toward the ceiling and return to starting position.

Do 10 reps alternating each leg and arm

Cross A Round the Worlds (top row) consists of 1 move:
  • Holding a weight in your hands, draw a big circle around your torso.

Do 20 reps, alternating directions.

Weighted Reverse Lunge Twists (bottom row) consists of 3 moves:
  • Holding the same weight in your hands, take a step back
  • Lower your body in a reverse lunge
  • Twist your body so the weight is by the hip with the leg in front of your, then return to standing position

Do 20 reps, alternating feet

Cross Body Mountain Climbers has 2 moves:
  • In a plank position, raise one knee to your chest
  • Cross it across your body, then return to the starting position

Do 20 reps, alternating each leg

Side Skips has 2 basic moves:
  • Skip to the right
  • Touch left hand to the right foot, then skip to the left

Do 30 reps, skipping from side to side.  That half-ball thing Zuzka's skipping on helps intensify the workout but I think you can do this workout without it. 

Do a total of 3 rounds of the routine for the complete workout.  It might take between 20 and 30 minutes.

This workout would be good for intermediate beginners, people who have already established a regular workout routine and who are looking to add strength and stamina training to their routines.  I was saying this is one of Zuzka's lower-impact workouts, so it's good for people who don't want to impact their joints too much.

I'm posting her website and YouTube links below in case anyone is interested in adding ZWOW's and other workouts to their exercise routines.

Zuzka Light website here

Zuzka Light YouTube channel here

Let me know how you like this workout routine and if you have any other fitness inspirations.  I can't wait to do these!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Figure Robics by Jung Dayeon: Figure Dance

I am really looking forward to working out after our baby is born.  It's been difficult maintaining a healthy diet regimen when all I crave is cookies and ice cream (shameful, I know!).  It's also been difficult maintaining a fitness regimen the bigger I get.  So many aches and pains creep in and limit mobility.  I have a new appreciation and admiration for women who bear more than 1 child.

Anyways, my brother's girlfriend introduced me to this South Korean diet and fitness guru called Jung Dayeon.


Can you believe this woman is 46 years old?!  Can you believe that she's a mother of two?!?!  What I consider super inspiring is that she developed these workout routines to meet the needs of an Asian market, namely women who want to slim and trim down without building up too much muscle mass.  
The workout I want to do after having our baby is one of her Figure Robics routines called Figure Dance.  

Ready...  Set...  Let's Start!


1.  Open the lungs (top left) - 8 reps
2.  Tilt head side-to-side (top right) - 16 reps
3.  Look left and right (bottom left) - 16 reps
4.  Roll head (bottom middle) - 4 reps each direction
5.  Roll shoulders (bottom right) - 4 reps each direction

6.  Hip stretch (left) - 16 reps.  When you add a little groove to it, this move will become the Bridge.
7.  Standing crunch and release - 16 reps


1.  Biceps (top left) - 16 reps
2.  Triceps and hips (top right) - 16 reps

Bridge - 16 reps

3.  Triceps (bottom left) - 16 reps each arm, then 16 reps both arms
4.  Triceps and shoulders (bottom right) - 16 full reps, then half-way pulses 16 reps

5.  Shoulders and lats (top left) - 16 full reps, then half-way pulses 16 reps
6.  Shoulders (middle left) - 16 full reps, then half-way pulses 16 reps
7.  Shoulders and pecs (bottom left) - 16 reps each arm
8.  Shoulders and pecs (top right) - 16 reps both arms
9.  Shoulders, pecs, and hips (bottom right) - 16 reps

Bridge - 16 reps


1.  Oblique stretches (bottom left) - 16 full reps then half-way pulses 16 reps, switch arms
2.  After last rep with both arms up, bend body at hips (bottom right) - 8 reps, 4 counts going down, 4 counts going up

3.  From last move (top left), swing right (top right) - hold position for 16 counts
4.  Swing left (middle left) - hold position for 16 counts
5.  Return to center (middle right) - Hold position for 16 counts, then quarter-way pulses 16 reps
6.  Keeping hips still, swing body and arms in a large circle (bottom left) - 8 reps
7.  Switch direction (bottom right) - 8 reps

Bridge - 16 reps


1.  Ballet-style squats (top left) - 16 reps
2.  On final ballet-style squat (middle left) crunch and release - 16 reps
3.  Widen stance with body lowered (bottom left) hip stretches - 16 reps

Bridge - 16 reps

4.  Squats (top right) pulse up and down 3 counts then stand (bottom right) on 4th count - 8 reps

5.  Squat, stand, lunge (left top, middle, bottom) - 4 reps each leg
6.  Moving bridge (right top, bottom) - 32 reps total.  Alternate 4 reps moving hips lower, 4 reps moving hips higher until 32 reps are completed.

Bridge - 16 reps

7.  Top row - 16 reps each side
8. Middle row - 16 reps each direction
9.  Bottom left - 16 reps each side

Bridge - 16 reps

10.  Combo Bridge and Opening Lungs - 8 reps

Jung Dayeon repeats the exercises after each Bridge.  This routine can easily hit the 30 minute mark.  The only thing I would do differently is redo the warm up at the end for a more comprehensive cool down.

I think this could be a great workout for beginners and people who need to start with a low-impact exercise routine.  Once you've gained stamina and strength, you can increase the intensity by adding light weights to the exercises.

I can't wait to do the full routine!  For those who are just as inspired by Jung Dayeon, let me know what you think of her workouts and if you have any other fitness inspirations to share.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Empties & Pregnancy Update

Not a lot finished in September.  What you see here is literally all that got emptied.

Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil
I'm in the middle of my 8th month of pregnancy and still no stretch marks!  Let's keep up the good work!

St. Ives Naturally Clear Apricot Scrub Blemish & Blackhead Control
St. Ives has always been my go-to exfoliator.  I alternate between it and the Clarisonic Mia2.

Wen Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner
Love this stuff.  I seriously don't think I can go a day without it anymore.  

Pregnancy Update

I'm now in the 8th month of pregnancy.  I love feeling our baby move around every day.  It gives me peace of mind knowing that everything is ok on the inside.  Sometimes it feels like the baby got hiccups, everything on the inside bumps around rhythmically.  Sometimes it feels like a rolling sensation from one side to the other side.  And sometimes the baby stretches which feels like something inside is pushing outwards.  It doesn't hurt at all but sometimes it feels a little sharp.  I actually can't go to sleep unless the baby is moving around.

I love imagining our future as a family, especially with the holidays right around the corner, too!  Our baby will have a first Thanksgiving and a first Christmas this year!  

Now, all the stuff I don't particularly enjoy about being pregnant.

Weight gain
I'm at my heaviest at 174 pounds, nearing 80kg.  I know some of that is my own doing (cravings for sweet things), but a lot of it is baby, belly, boobs, and water retention.  The extra weight that I'm carrying makes movements very slow and a little difficult.  

Lower back pain
I have had a lot of lower back aches and pains from the strain of the weight I'm carrying in front.  The dull achiness sometimes gets punctuated by pinched nerves, which makes movement of any kind difficult and slow.  Washing dishes strains my back because my belly protrudes enough that it pushes the core of my body away from the kitchen sink, meaning I have to lean forward to do the dishes.  Luckily, I haven't had a lot of issues with losing my balance though.

Round ligament pain
This is the pain most pregnant woman feel in their pubic and groin area.  It's basically when the pelvic area begins to widen and open up to get ready for labor and birth.  Some days, this pain is manageable.  Some days, this pain dictates that I just slow things down even more, sometimes to the point where I have to take really small steps or just pause for a few seconds after I stand up.

Water retention
My feet and hands show the most obvious signs of retaining some water.  Luckily, it's not a lot, but it's enough to see the puffiness under the skin.  I gave up on shoes several weeks ago.  They were too tight, so I've only been wearing flip flops, even to work.   

Belly button pain
My belly button hasn't turned into an outie yet, and I actually don't think it will.  But there is some pain around my belly button.  At first, I thought it was the surface skin getting stretched to the breaking point.  But then it also felt bruised underneath the skin.  My doctor told me abdominal muscles are thinnest under the belly button and some women experience abdominal muscle separation from the growing uterus underneath.  She thinks that's what I'm feeling.... which she says is totally normal.

Exhaustion and fatigue
There are days when I get engulfed with my work and I forget to feel tired.  Then there are days (increasingly frequent) when I can't concentrate on doing what I have to do.  I just feel like closing my office door and going to sleep for xx hours.  The only other times I've felt this way were in the first trimester and whenever I was jet lagged.

Only a few weeks left.  Nothing to do but to wait!  I can't wait to see our baby!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sephora Haul

I've been trying to cut back on buying things as I'm starting to feel the fine strains of a tighter budget.  But I really needed to stock up on some Wen Cleansing Conditioner and Clarisonic brush heads.  I figured that I'd throw in a couple of items for friends and use some points to get my husband a new type of shaving cream.  

He liked the Jack Black Shave Lather, but he's happier with the Gillette shaving gels he gets from Sam's Club.  I suppose we can leave the Jack Black Shave Lather for when he travels or something.

I picked up a hand soap and lotion set.  It adds a cute little pop of color to our bathroom.  That's about as far as my home decorating talents go for right now.  

These brush heads were sorely needed.  I hope I remember when I put them 3 months from now!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nightly Skincare Routine + Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil Review


My nightly skincare routine from left to right:

1 product for the face: Kate Lorraine Placenta Serum
Read my mini review here.  

1 product for the eyes: Dr. Brandt Dark Circles Away Collagen Eye Serum

1 product for the body: reclaimed Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil
Read my husband's thoughts about it here.  Read my thoughts about it below.

When I was thinking about what moisturizer to use for my body I knew I didn't want a product with a lot of ingredients in it.  I'm not sure what the medical validity is but I was thinking if I rubbed it on my belly, it might get very easily absorbed by the baby.  And then it hit me....

... Ancient Greeks used olive oil to cleanse and moisturize their skin after sporting events.  

I could definitely do the same.  My husband let me reclaim his Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil and I have found a lot of benefits while using this product.  

Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil Review

Product Claims:
Restore skin balance to aid in skin recovery and rejuvenation
Maracuja oil gives the appearance of brighter skin thanks to a high dose of pure vitamin C

The condition of my skin prior to using Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil was dry, itchy, and rough where I scratched too much, and I'm worried about developing stretch marks.  I didn't and still don't (and hopefully won't) have any pregnancy stretch marks.  There are several weeks to go and the baby still needs to pack on 3-5 more pounds, so I'll have to do an update on if I end up getting stretch marks later.

Restore skin balance to aid in skin recovery and rejuventation
The way this product works reminds me of Chinese medicine.  It's effective but it will take time.  It delivered steady doses of moisture to my dry, itchy, rough patches of skin over time, so nothing got resolved within 1 application.  Improvements started showing about 1-2 weeks after beginning to use the oil.  I can say 100% that my skin right now is so much more improved than before I started using the oil. 

Maracuja oil gives the appearance of brighter skin thanks to a high dose of pure vitamin C
The skin on my belly does look very smooth and clear.  It's taken on this plastic look...  I'm not sure if anyone else has seen those old TLC A Baby Story promos from back in the day?  I think after a certain point, a pregnant belly starts to take on a smooth, shiny, in other words plastic, look.  I've always attributed that to good moisturization.  Could I extend that to the vitamin C?  Maybe.

So far, I really like what this oil is doing for me.  I would definitely recommend this product to any one who suffers from seasonal or pregnancy dry skin as a preventative measure.  It would probably go a long way to maintaining skin balance before the skin got dry and irritated.

I'll be happy to answer any questions about this product.  Just leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Pressure to Lose Baby Weight and what it Really Means!

It's not a secret, I'm a huge fan of the British monarchy, especially of William of Catherine.  So it's not a surprise when I click on the article whenever I see their names or their pictures.

Today's article talked about the speed of baby weight loss.  Click here for the full article.  

I'm interested in articles like these not because I'm eager to lose all the weight I've gain (it is a factor), but because it brings up a lot of concerns that need to be thought through.  Truthfully, I have NO IDEA how my husband's and my life will change after we welcome our baby into the world.  I think we currently believe we can manage a baby, our marriage, our careers, our workouts, and our hobbies all together.  But with all the parenting and "what to expect" books we're reading, it's getting pretty scary thinking about the one thing they all have in common: "YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE!"

How these articles affect me is that they make me realize that maybe I won't be able to do everything I think I can do.  I don't care about the pressures to get back to my pre-pregnancy body as soon as possible, but maybe I will care if I can't fit in time to be active, or time to spend my with husband, or time for myself to unwind.  I'm worried about what I'm going to do for the first few months with an infant and how much I will or won't feel the pressures to get back to my work.  These articles usually focus on the rich and famous, or the royalty, but it just makes me feel really disconnected from people I do admire.  I DO have to go back to work, I probably CAN'T afford to take an extended leave of absence to be with our baby, my husband and I DO have to worry about our budget, and we probably CAN'T take time off whenever we want.  Things like that are what articles like these make me think about.  

Let me be clear, even though there is a very healthy dose of worry right here, we are super excited to be starting our family.  With every one of our baby's powerful jabs into my ribs, my bladder, or the side of my tummy we get more and more excited to be able to hold this little miracle in our arms in a few months!  It's the next chapter in our lives, after all.  And you know what?  People have babies all the time and they make it work, so I'm confident we'll find our way, too.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Empties + Mini Product Reviews


I always feel so accomplished whenever I finish anything related to skincare because it's so easy to get bored with whatever I'm using and buy something else.  The result is an accumulation of an excess of bottles and jars of creams and serums that take up real estate in my cabinets, which I can't afford right now.  So, for the month of August, I present to you TWO finished skincare items.  

Kate Lorraine Placenta Serum

Claim: This product uses bovine placenta to help generate younger, firmer, and newer skin to help prevent the signs of aging.

How I use it: At night only.  I used this and only this after getting out of the shower.

My results: I thought my skin gained a decent amount of luminosity.  If it weren't for my age/sun spots on my upper cheek bones, I'd say my skin looked like it was in its mid-20's.  I also really loved the fact that it absorbed so well into my skin that there was 0% tackiness left behind.  This is only the second product I've used that has done that.  If it was more accessible I'd strongly consider buying this again.

Botanics Complexion Refining Toning Lotion

Claim: This product has rosemary extract to help tone pores and Amazonian clay to help absorb oil throughout the day.

How I use it: In the mornings only with a cotton pad.

My results: This product was very affordable at Target and it was very refreshing to use.  But I didn't feel that the Amazonian clay did anything to absorb oil throughout the day.  I don't think I'd repurchase this toner again.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Birthday Gifts from my Husband

I like to keep my birthdays pretty low key.  Just a "Happy Birthday" and maybe a kiss from the hubs would have been fine.  But he decided to get me two skincare items to try out.  


I've only tried the Dr. Brandt Dark Circles Away so far and I like it!  It's moisturizing but doesn't leave any tackiness behind.  It has a slight tint to it that blends perfectly with my skintone.  I think it might self-adjust because when I use it on my husband, he at first comes away looking like I put concealer under his eyes, but then it just blends in seamlessly with his skin in a few minutes.  We both love rolling that cooling silver ball around our eye sockets.  It makes my scalp tingle delightfully!  LOL!

I put the Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector in the fridge for safe keeping.  I probably won't get around to using it until after I get through my current after-shower serum and several other sample serums.  I'm really excited to see if the Clinique Dark Spot Corrector will work like they say!  These are great presents my husband got me and just at the perfect time too!  I'll post up reviews later.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Ready for Baby: Cleaning up my Makeup and Skincare Stash

I'm definitely doing what I can to prepare for the birth of our baby.  Sometimes I get demotivated thinking about the amount of stuff I need to sift through and the space our baby will need for diapers, creams, powders, and clothes.  But then I remind myself that I will thank myself for doing this now.

So, I started out with sorting through my skincare and makeup collection, figuring that if I consolidate, I can make a space in the bathroom linen closet for the baby's things.  So far, the goal is half complete.  There is still no dedicated baby shelf, but at least I have all my things where I need them to be.

The top left shows the entire collection of stuff that I currently have, stopped using, forgot to use, or didn't throw away.  I got it all sorted so that large body-related items, random hair and nail items, and lotions fit into an ice cream bucket.  All my brushes can fit into the rolls they came in and a container for everyday use.

Face lotions, moisturizers, serums, eye creams, masks, and samples, as well as BB creams, foundations and tinted moisturizers got put into containers in the fridge in order to preserve them for as long as possible.  It may take me years to get through them but I will try!

Finally, I do have items that I tossed out.  Most of them are already empty, but some just needed to go because I couldn't remember how many years ago I got them and didn't want to risk putting something that old on my skin.

Not pictured here are actual makeup items.  Powders and compacts can last a while, so I'm not too worried about them.  They all have a space in a drawer.  

So, this weekend will be phase 2 of the big clean up.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Home Improvement Project: Central Air and Review of Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.

My husband and I knew that when we bought our house we were not getting A/C, central or otherwise, or even a moderately updated kitchen.  We considered the inconvenience for a moment, but what mattered most was location, location, location.  Our neighborhood makes us happy! 

However, being pregnant in summer and in a house that gets hotter than the outside temperature just would not do.  My husband and I agreed that this is our house and we should be comfortable in it.  Also, we needed to be able to provide our future baby with a comfortable place to live, too!

And so, at 25 weeks preggers, we called 3 local companies to come quote the job.  We had them quote for the removal of the forced air furnace in the basement, the removal of the ducts beneath the home, and the installation of a brand new dual speed, hybrid Carrier system that would provide centralized cold air and heat and be controlled from 1 thermostat.  Our stipulation was that it needed to have a bit more juice because we planned to add another room or two to the house at a future date.

We decided to go with Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning Inc because of 3 major factors.  

1.  They had a lot of good reviews of Yelp, and most of the reviews centered around customer service.  Also important is that the reviews span multiple years.

2.  They were the first ones to call me back to set up an appointment for the quote and they were the only ones who provided a same-day quote (very considerate and convenient for quick decision making).  

3.  And the owner/president Matt McConaughy (not related to the actor, I asked!) personally came out to do the walk through.  He was very thorough, sat with us and explained what our options were, and gave us his recommendations without being pushy about it.  He even encouraged us to get other quotes for comparison.  He did add that Bryant didn't do under-the-table stuff and that his company pulls permits for the work they did.  

Matt quoted us a price that was higher than expected but fell within a reasonable range of the other quotes we got.  He also said it would take 4 business days to complete the work.  After some consideration, we decided to have them start work as soon as possible, which was Wednesday morning.

His crew of 3 men came when they said they would, between 8:30am and 9:00 am, and got to work right away.  They answered any questions I had very courteously and professionally.  They took really quick lunches then got right back to work.  They cleaned up after themselves at the end of each day, even bringing a vacuum to pick up the bits of debris that fell from the attic or got dragged up from the basement.  They didn't half-ass anything from what I observed.

When the lead was asking me where I wanted the thermostat placed, he told me it was their "goal" to finish the job on Friday, and they delivered!  It took 3 days for us to get our central A/C and it was great!

After the work was completed, we needed to get the HERS inspection before the city inspection for the permits.  Margie coordinated the whole thing, got documents to the appropriate parties, and even loaned us a ladder for the inspection.  She basically took all the guess work out of it for us, even if it meant she was stuck on the phone with the city.

Matt came by again to personally deliver the warranty information and tell us how the warranties worked and how our review would be considered by the execs at Carrier.

All in all, my husband and I are very satisfied with the work Bryant did.  Our HERS inspection found that there is less than a 1% leakage of air in the work that was done and we passed the city inspection!  I would recommend Bryant to family, friends and strangers in So Cal.  They might not be the cheapest company around but the quality of their work, workers, and customer service is off the charts.  If you want a company you can trust, choose Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

24 Weeks!

I won't lie.  I'm really concerned about my weight gain.  I'm supposed to gain 25-35 pounds during my pregnancy, and my doctor says I've gained 20 by now.  I have 15 more pounds to go and definitely more weeks to go in this journey.  Our next appointment will also include a glucose test for gestational diabetes.  I may need to go easy on my cravings for cold and/or sweet stuff.....

                                                           ......But it's so hard to say no to OREOs and ice cream!!!!

My husband took this picture of me holding our baby when I asked him if he saw any growth in the baby/tummy.  It's hard for me to see the growth sometimes because I study my body in the mirror every day.  What do you think?  Definite growth since 17 Weeks?  

Second Trimester Complaints

Hot flashes and sweat - I have always preferred being cold over being hot, but it's just unbearably hot.  I'm hot all the time and almost always breaking a sweat.  It could also be from my weight gain where body parts that rarely rubbed each other are now rubbing each other all the time, such as inner thighs, under arms and arm pits, and boobs resting on my ribs. 

Swollen feet - Luckily, my feet aren't swollen enough to be considered fat and puffy, but they are swollen enough to make wearing shoes a painful thing.  I don't know about other mothers-to-be, but it feels like the fleshy padding under my feet bones are thinned out so it just hurts to stand, even for short periods of time.

Can't bend over anymore - I lose my breath now when I'm in a sitting position and try to bend over to try to take care of my feet.  It feels like I have a small beach ball on my lap when I do.  I had to finally go in for a pedicure so they could cut my toenails for me.

My back is starting to feel the strain - I feel it most when I have to get in and out of the car.  It feels like a small pressure on the tail bone.

Walking is more like waddling - I feel part of it is due to our baby growing so much and part of it is due to my weight gain.  I definitely sway more from side to side.

The Blessing

There is a distinction now between the baby moving and gas.  My husband, for the first time, felt the baby kick his palm and it was such a special moment!!!

I know I put a lot of my physical complaints online, but nothing takes away from the fact that I wouldn't change a thing.  I've been worried this entire pregnancy about the health and development of the baby.  I sometimes don't voice them out loud, even to my husband because I don't want him to worry.  But, for the first time in the last 6 months, I've started to be more optimistic and hopeful about our little treasure soon making an appearance.

I know parenthood is an endless march of worries and precautions, but I don't think my husband and I are going to let that get us down.  We're looking forward to meeting this new life we created and our next chapter as a family of 3 humans and 4 cats.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taiwan Haul: Watson, Cosmed, and Sasa

I've completely been slacking on the blogging front, but here are some items I hauled while in Taiwan.  I wanted to go crazy with it, especially at the Sasa and Tony Moly stores in Taipei, but I just can't justify spending so much on "want" purchases when I know we'll have to spend money to prepare for the baby.  So, I settled on a few items.

Purchased at Sasa: Eyebrow razors, stiff smudge brush, and a roll of eyelid tape (I can't get the eyelid tape right!).

Purchased at Watson's: Majolica Majorca blush and eyeshadow quads.  Two free bags for the purchase.

Purchased at another Watson's: Majolica Majorca Lash Expander something Meister.  Could not find the tried and true Lash Expander Frame Plus mascaras at Watson's or Cosmed or anywhere else!  Is it discontinued??

Purchased at Cosmed: Sofina Primavista Ange foundation, by recommendation of my brother's GF.  She works as a flight attendant for Eva Airlines so I must trust her when she says this is light weight and long lasting!  The little book/diary came free with the purchase.

I'm giving most of these items away as gifts so they won't be staying at my home for long.

How hard do you have to fight your urges to splurge?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gifts from Taiwan

What I really love about going to Taiwan is catching up with family about what's going on their lives.  It's so interesting to see my cousins all grown up and reminisce about how we used to do things or play games when we were younger.  It's so different to see them all grown up now when I always remember everyone as kids.

Anyways, while we were in Taiwan, I got a couple of gifts from my brother's girlfriend and her sister.

These are some handmade soaps that my brother's girlfriend's sister made.  The soap on the bottom is a hair soap.  I want to use them but I want to save them for as long as possible too. 

This is a Lunasol starter set my brother's girlfriend gave me for our Engagement Ceremony last year.  I love that the eyeshadow palette is so neutral and can create effortless looks.  The only shade that makes me a little uncomfortable is the lightest shade in the top left corner.  I personally think it's a glitter bomb and I'm not sure how to wear it.

The lip gloss is super moisturizing and not very sticky.  It looks really pink in the tube but it actually wears a little bit more sheer.

The cream cheeks is a little intimidating for me to use but it's only because I haven't had enough experience using it.  I think the color comes off more like a bronzed peachy pink.  

 I'm really thankful to have received these gifts from my brother's girlfriend.  I'm so happy!!


Monday, July 15, 2013

22 Weeks!

Ahh!  There's some light reflection on the picture, but you can still make it out.  I'm so in love with our baby and I can't wait for Delivery Day!  I can't wait to see my husband become a father.  He thinks he's not going to know what to do, but I think he's going to be a great father.

I'm at this stage where I should be feeling the baby move.  For the past few weeks, about a month now, I've been having an extreme case of gas.  I can feel gas bubbles in my abdominal area.  Sometimes I can't contain it and have to let some go, sometimes nothing comes out at all.  I think those are the times it's actually the baby and not gas.  Pregnancy websites say that I'll know when it's the baby, but do I really?

Pregnancy is both a joy and chore, for me.  I think every woman views it differently and when it's all said and done, nothing will ever outshine the miracle of nurturing a baby inside you for 9 months then giving birth.

Every day, I'm grateful for:
  • The little gas bubbles I confuse for my baby.  In the off-chance it's the baby, then I know it's healthy and kicking around.
  • My loving and supportive husband, who can't be pregnant with me, but wants to know as much as possible what I'm going through and what I've learned.
  • My extended family who are excited to see their first grand child and who offer their love and support in different ways.
  • Frozen yogurt and fruit from Yogurtland, or Taiwanese shaved ice.  

Every day, I'm hoping for:
  • That moment when I'll definitively know the baby just kicked or punched out and I can have my husband feel them, too!
  • Another ultrasound so we can see and hear the baby in real-time.

Every day, I gripe about:
  • Not being able to sleep comfortably on my tummy because of the baby bump and not being able to sleep on my back for health reasons.  Sleeping on my side makes me feel stiff and old.
  • My achy feet that are swelling and taking my calves with them.

I'm feeling really happy right now.  I really can't wait for D-Day so we can finally meet our little baby!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Planning Ahead Part 1

I got a call about 30 minutes after my husband dropped me off at work this morning.  "Odd," I thought.  He usually never calls me to let me know he's made it to work.  I picked up the phone and the first words I hear are, "I've been in an accident."

A lot of things happened between that sentence and these next thoughts, but I'd really just like a moment to say I'm so glad and thankful that my husband is all right - he's bruised up but he's alive!

I was thinking that in any one instant our inevitable future could come and get us, either sooner or later.  We need to be prepared for that future especially with a baby on the way.  I don't really know where to start, except that the general direction involves estate and financial planning, knowing our assets, liabilities, and debt, and making sure that in the event something happens to one of us, the other and our child(ren) are covered.

We're going on a trip to Taiwan in 2 days, so I don't think there's much we can do in the next 48-72 hours with regards to estate and financial planning.  We'll probably be busy talking with the claims adjustor and our insurance agent about the accident in addition to packing and making sure our cats are taken care of while we're out.  God willing we come back safely, and if we do I fully expect to get the ball rolling on this!

I've never been so scared for my husband's life and safety as I was today and I fully intend to face this fear straight in the face if something should ever happen to him prematurely!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's in my travel bag to Chicago?

When I say that I like to travel, it really means that I like being somewhere else more than I like the act of travelling.  However, in order to get from here to there, I have to deal with travelling and going through airports and all the TSA regulations and what not.  Therefore, I've mentally classified travel into two categories:  long-term travels and short-term travels.  

Long-term travels are basically anything over 1 week of being away from home.  They usually require large luggage that need to be checked in.

Short-term travels are basically anything shorter than 4 days.  If I can cram everything into a carry-on bag, all the better!

I recently went on a business trip to Chicago (it was strictly business so O'Hare Airport is about as much of Chicago you will see in this post), and thought I'd document what I brought on my trip as a result of my travelling experiences.  I'm going to skip the makeup portion because it's just brushes and a small makeup palette for the face.

For everything else that are in the pictures, I packed 1 extra pair or "serving" of skincare products for Just-in-Case events, which I'll get to at the end of my post.

Eye care: I don't even bother with lenses and contact solution.  I had an instance in Taiwan where they threw away my brand new in box travel sized contact solution bottle because it was over their liquid limit.  So, I just use one-day usage lenses on short trips.

Skin care: I packed a couple of makeup remover wipes into a zip top bag and packed cleansers, toners, moisturizers and SPF into contact lens cases.  I brought extra cleanser, moisturizer, and threw in the Koh Gen Do Gommage Spa Gel just in case I ran out, which I didn't.  

My skin is itchy from being stretched out by the baby.  The drugstore itch relief cream is essential because moisturizers don't do enough these days.

There were a few things I didn't pack because I knew I could get them from the hotel.  Major hotels usually have some sort of agreement with cosmetics companies, so I knew I'd be able to try out something different. The Bath & Body Works White Citrus shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion were really nice to try out.  I may buy a full size version of the shampoo later on.  The last thing I got from the hotel was toothpaste.  :-)

O'Hare Airport.  Storm clouds rolling in in the distance.

So, about that Just-in-Case thing I mentioned at the top of my post?  Well, on the day that I was coming back to Los Angeles, Chicago - the Mid West, essentially - had a massive storm system roll in.  Our flight got delayed for several hours, got cancelled, then reinstated, then delayed again.  I was really worried they would cancel our flight for good, but luckily and thankfully, our captain found a break in the storm and got us up in the air and on our way back home!

What do you pack in your travel bags?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

17 Weeks!

Well!  I finally caved and bought maternity clothing.  They look nice and feel more comfortable than trying to squeeze into regular clothes, or wear tents of large sized regular clothing.  But I feel that they're making too much money off of me so I told my husband that I'm going to look into making my own maternity clothes.  I'll probably stick with dresses since that seems much easier than making pants.  Hah!  We'll see how that turns out!!

Start of 2nd Trimester Shenanigans!

The baby bump is definitely getting bigger and harder to hide.  When I lie down, I like to feel where I think the baby is and it feels like there's a water balloon under my skin.  I can't wait to feel the baby move!  The skin around my tummy is starting to feel tighter.  It's not all the baby's doing.  I've gained a couple of pounds in fat that I'll have to deal with after the baby is born.

I have certain cravings, but I think it's more of a whim.  Major cravings are for dairy products.  I don't feel like I have to have them when I think I do, but if I go too long without having something dairy my body feels it and I know I have to stop for some cheese, yogurt, or milk.  

The good news is that I don't have a lot of problems with queasiness anymore.  I still don't prefer rice and beef but I'll eat them on occasion, which was really important for a special dinner with some special people!

My husband and I had dinner with my brother and his girlfriend at M Grill the other night.  It's definitely a carnivore's delight!  They have gauchos come up and serve you slices of beef, lamb, chicken, and sausages that have been skewered onto swords.  One of the best cuts of beef is the Garlic Picanha.  Both my husband and my brother dreamed about it that night!  

You do need to make a reservation before hand in order to be seated.  It's definitely an upscale venue and at nearly $50 per person, you'd better be loaded (with cash, I mean!) and hungry when you get there!