WHAT I THINK YOU SHOULD (MUST) GET WHEN YOU HAVE A BABY.

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When I was pregnant with my first, I went overboard and got so (too) much stuff and way in advance too. We got this one book (I can’t remember what it was for the life of me, its probably something like The best of… or The most essential items that you will ever need… but I do remember that book being THE book/guide that everyone had) and had reviews and ratings on all essentials. I regret buying some big items in advance since some did not suited me (like the Baby Bjorn) and some did not fit in the lifestyle of our family. We were also the first among our friends to have kids so we did not get much tips.

With Matilda, we were somewhat pro and plus there were so many more recommendations and new items on the market and out on blogs that I read about in which I did not with Milo. Now, with Owen I have to say I got this whole baby essential thing down pretty good and I want to share it with you since I rely so much on tips from other moms/families and I want to do the same for others.

One thing I have learned having 3 kids in 7 years is that there are constantly so much cool gadgets coming out and to be honest, I constantly want to try them all.

Let’s start with strollers:

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1. We have the Bugaboo Cameleon since Milo and is still going strong. We purchased the kickboard (now they have it with a little seat)when we had Matilda. If I have to do it again and knowing I will have 3 kids, I will still get the Bugaboo but of course I would go with the newest Bugaboo donkey series. I really was tempted to switch it up when it came out, but I could not rationalize spending the money when I already have one.

2. We got a Maclaren XT Techno stroller when Milo was 4.5 months while we were traveling in Asia and it works great except that we rarely used it since we always chose the Bugaboo over the Maclaren due to the kickboard feature so that Milo can ride on it. But if the Bugaboo is too big and bulky, I would recommend the Maclaren for sure.

3. We got a BOB double stroller after Matilda and it works great for both kids (even now) when we go for an outing to the zoo, parks and camp grounds. For the size of it, it’s pretty easy to fold up.

In the past few years, there have been an increase amount of new brand and models coming out for strollers and it makes it even harder to decide what is best for your family. I would invest in a good one especially if you plan to have more than one child. Then, think about the size of your stroller and if your car or whatever means of transportation you have can accommodate that. When we were traveling in Asia, the Maclaren was convenient but at times it was a pain because there were stairs everywhere and we have to take Milo out and fold up the darn thing all the time. If I have a do over starting with Milo, I would just get the Bugaboo and then invest in baby carrier.

 

Baby carriers:

 

1. Ergo. That is all. It is the best thing. I love it. We had a baby bjorn and that thing hurt my back so much (I have a back problem) that I could not use it for more than 20minutes. I discovered Ergo and my first thought was, why did you not come into my life sooner. I used it with both Milo and Matilda until they were 2.5 years old. It is perfect for traveling. Some people prefer carrier where the baby faces forward  but I prefer the face to face with my baby because I like to communicate with them (and it’s not like they can’t see what I see). With Milo it was great because of his visual impairment, I can talk with him and tell him everything I see. With Matilda’s hearing impairment, I can sign and she can read my lips if needed and I could talk into her good ear. You can throw the Ergo in the wash and it maintains its shape. I got the infant insert, the teething pads, the winter weather cover, and recently we got the rain cover (for our recent Disneyland trip and it kept Owen completely dried).

2. Solly wrap. I discovered this with Owen and so wish I had it with the other two. I have seen bunch of wraps since Milo days but was never really a believer or gave it much thought. But Solly wrap attracted me and so I got it and I love it. It took me some time to get the hang of it and I have used it more than the Ergo since it’s super easy to stuff it in my bag and it’s nice and soft against my clothes so I don’t have to worry about rubbing against my clothes and causing pilling action (Ergo does that, depending what kind of clothing I am wearing). When traveling or shopping, I use the Ergo since it has pockets and I can stuff my wallet in the pockets. The only thing that gets me about the Solly wrap is that it’s super long and when I am putting it on (outside my home) I have to make sure I am in a somewhat clean place since it touches the ground when I am wrapping, but still, I love it. And the owner, Elle is pretty awsum.

Bath time:

Primo EuroBath. We got this for all three kids and we love it. The only down side is that it’s pretty large but if you have the room (we put it in our shower), it is worth it. We use it from when they are 1 month until they are 3 years old. It’s great.

High chair:

With Milo and Matilda we did the Fisher Price rainforest high chair. It worked and the kids sat in it but I was never too fond of the bulkiness and the size. With Owen we got the Stokke Tripp Trapp in green and we have liked it so far. It took a little time to put it together but we like the size of the chair and it fits around our dining table well. And this is a great chair to invest in since it grows with the kid.

Other supplies:

1. You should invest in a nice bath towel since you will be bathing your child daily (I hope). We were gifted a DwellStudio hooded bath towel when Milo was born and we are still loving it and using it. The size is prefect and it washes very well in the washing machine.

2. Good size swaddling blankets. We use nothing but aden+anais (I think everyone is) for bibs, burp cloths, and blankets.

 

 

 

3. Boppy. I love it. I want one in every room and I highly suggest taking it with you when traveling especially for the plane ride. It can save your back and your baby can sleep on it on the plane.

4. Diaper bags. We had Skip Hop diaper bag for the first two and we mostly used it to hang off the stroller but with my third, my husband got me PacaPod (I got the Hastings-driftwood backpack) and I LOVE it!!! It’s amazing and that little thing can hold a lot of stuff and it’s super light. I would switch up my bags sometimes and for the exact same amount of items, my other bags would be super heavy but for the PacaPod, its so light. It can be easily attach to any stroller. It’s definitely worth the investment. Go get one.

I think this is a good start. I can write more later about clothing for both babies and nursing moms or any other good finds. Please feel to comment and tell me what is or was your favorite/must have items.

 

Dear Mr. Westin Verasa Napa: No thank you.

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For our wedding anniversary, we decided to do a quick getaway trip with the family. Our criteria were – nice fancy hotel, pool access, good foods and of course kid friendly. After research we came down to Ritz Carlton in HMB or The Westin Verasa in Napa. We went with the latter. They are both similar in pricing but the room size at The Westin was more than double the size of Ritz.

Day One: We were able to check into our 2 bedroom suite early that day so it was a bonus. The room was pretty impressive in terms of size (2 bedroom king suites + 2 bathrooms + full size kitchen + dining room + family room + balcony / porch) and it was up to my level of cleanliness. I am huge on a place that’s clean especially when I have little ones that likes to run and crawl around everywhere. We poked around town that day and went swimming at the pool and then grabbed dinner at Oxbow Market (5 min walk).

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Day Two: We woke up the next morning and our coffee maker did not work and was able to get it replaced after talking to the front desk several times (I think she needed coffee too since she was not very focus on what I was saying). We headed out to town to get some early lunch and I called the front desk asking if they could do housekeeping since we will be out for a few hours and would like to have the room all clean so I can come back and get the kids settle and put the baby down for a nap. I was told it was not a problem. We went to Grace’s Table for lunch and it was super yummy. I highly recommend the pork belly and the corn bread. We then stopped in at Target to get some supplies. We returned to the hotel and was surprised that our room has not been cleaned as promised. We had originally planned to put the baby down for a nap and the older ones can go play in the pool. As we were rethinking our plans for the day, our hotel room opened and 2 maintenance guy came in and said they need to fix our fridge and it would only take 5 minutes. They came out of nowhere and they seem to be used to just walking into hotel room unannounced. Then one of the guy asked what is wrong because we had these confused and frustrated expression on our face. I told them about the housekeeping that I’ve specifically asked for this morning and was told that it would be taken care of and how they just came into our room out of no where. He then proceeded to tell us that housekeeping has their own schedule and the front desk does not know what they are talking about so when I was told yes, it really does not mean anything. As we were talking, the housekeeping cart rolled up and she asked me if she can come in. We let her in so she can do her thing. We did not want to go out and sit somewhere for 40 minutes since it was crazy hot out that day (100 plus degrees) and the baby was very tired. We just moved from room to room so she can clean. I asked the housekeeper to please vacuumed since I got kids and baby rolling all over the floor and somehow she thought I said I will help her vacuum so she gave me the vacuum. It’s weird but at that moment, I did not care since I wanted the place to be clean and I knew she was in a rush and probably would not do it if we were not there watching her. To top it off, while we are waiting around, we’ve noticed the courtyard outside our room was setting up a bunch of tables for what seem to be a party. As the set up progress, we’ve noticed that they were setting up the bar right up against our balcony/porch area which is also an access for us to go in/out. My husband went and asked them what is going on and he was told that there will be a private party starting at 7pm and yes, they will be right up against our balcony/porch. I was pretty annoyed and upset because all these things happened back to back. I talked with a staff walking down the hall about all of this and he said we should have been told of the party when we checked in since parties are booked in advance. I told them that it’s more annoying the fact that it’s literally outside our balcony where we would like to sit and hang out after the kids go to bed. But with the party, we are not going to be able to enjoy our own space since the party is all around us. The staff called the front desk and explained to the manager about our frustration and I was put on the phone and I told him it’s pretty upsetting since we are paying a pretty good price for our room but we pretty much got a suckie day and can’t use our balcony at night. Long story short, he gave me a late check out of 1pm instead of 12pm and a $100 off. The party was somewhat quiet and it ended around 9:30pm and what was loud was when the staff came and cleaned up all the furniture.

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Day Three:  Our plan was to hang out in the pool all morning to make up for our lost afternoon the day before and then take our time to get ready to check out. But in the morning we saw a note along with our check out bill that the pool will be closed for routine maintenance until 11:30am. What the what!? We were pretty pissed since I would think I would be told of this when I spoke with the manager the day before that I would like a late check out because we wanted to enjoy the pool in the morning with the kids when its open at 8am.  Again, we had to change our plan.

In summary – the kids had fun because they love the space in the hotel room and the fact that they shared a room with a king size bed. Aside from all the mishaps, we had a nice little time but we would not come back to this place especially for the price we paid for the room. We could stay at the Solage Calistoga for almost the same price.

Pro – the size of the 2 bedroom suites is great | the crib is nice and clean | I got a high chair for my whole stay AND they have hand held shower which is something I always asked for because it is great when you have little ones when it comes to bath time.

Con – service is not great | unhelpful staff | it takes a long time for someone to answer calls | unknowledgeable staff |

We want to do more little trip around the area before the summer ends with the kids. Some of the places we are thinking about are:

Solage Calistoga | Ritz Carlton HMB | Dream Inn | Cavallo Point |

I welcome any suggestions please, even rentals with a pool and/or right by the beach. A place like Kid & Coe is on our choices too.

Happy Summer.

WE’VE ADJUSTED OUR FAMILY MATH.

family equationNew math: 4+1=5. We are now a family of 5. We welcomed baby Owen in this December and we are truly over the moon over this little guy. He is a super happy baby and knowing that he is our last, it makes me want to hold on to him a little more or if I could slow-mo his growth. He has already been on many adventures since he is always tagging along with his brother and sister. He goes where I go because he is a strictly boobie baby and just like the other two, he only takes milk directly from the source and no pumping is required.

Owen does not any of the medical condition that Milo and Matilda have but we are keeping an eye on his eyes since he could get what Milo has. But otherwise, he is a baby with no special needs and as a family joke, he is the weirdo in our family.

I will write another post about being a mother of three and what has changed and what new products have come in handy for our Owen.

 

 

 

 

 

THAT MOUSE SURELY LIVES IN THE HAPPIEST PLACE.

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We took the kids to Disneyland in mid January for 3 nights and 4 days and it was a blast. Our feet were horribly painful everyday but it was so worth it. We specifically picked this time to go we wanted to avoid a crowd. 
For those of you with kids that has special needs/disabilities, I highly recommended you going to the guest service (Disneyland City Hall) before you start your day to ask for special pass depending on the needs of your child. We went and talked with them and got a pass for Milo to have front row seats due to his vision impairment. The only ride we used for that was Star Tours. And they also gave us a wheelchair access pass since lots of the lines are contained in a dark and narrow line and that was super helpful since Milo wanted to wait in line and do everything himself and having the wheelchair access, he was able to do all that without any obstacles. *of course, in some cases, we didn’t have to wait as long on certain rides.* 
We rented strollers for both our kids and that was very helpful but it’s not so great when you cannot take it out to the on site hotel we stayed at (we were at the Disneyland Hotel). It’s a pretty long walk especially when you have to go back to the stroller rental to return them and then walked all the way back to the hotel when on occasion we could have taken the monorail back to our hotel. You would think they would have something where if you stay on site, you can take the stroller with you as an extra benefit. (We did not bring our double stroller because it would take up all our trunk space.)
Here are some tips we found on taking your kids to Disneyland:
1. Hotels. If you stay on site, stay at the Disneyland Grand California Hotel because that is the closet one to the main entry and also there’s a direct access into California Adventures. If you go during a busy season, it’s worth asking to stay on the first floor so you don’t have to wait for the elevators. When we were at the Disneyland Hotel, the elevators were insanely slow and we had to wait for a long time. And if you need accessible rooms, make sure you make that request.
2. Eating. All the food within the park is pretty much the same. Our kids are pretty picky so as long as we find french fries and grilled cheese they are fine. We packed lots and lots of snacks for the kids so they can snack all day long. We went to Goofy’s Kitchen twice and even though it is a bit on the priceier side, we thought that was a great choice compare to the places in the park. The kids like having the characters walking around. You get to sit down in a nice air condition place and the kids picked their food from the buffet. We wanted to try the Chip n’ Dale breakfast at the Disneyland Grand California Hotel, but did not get a chance but we heard the food is way better. *The food at Goofy’s Kitchen was not great, sorry Goofy! But we knew we were not there to eat yummy-let’s make a great impression-on-us food (since we were really paying to have the characters walking around us), but we thought for the price we were paying, it would be better.* Again, I have heard that Disneyland Grand California Hotel’s restaurants are super yummy. 
3. Strollers. If you can bring your own strollers, I would highly recommend it. We couldn’t fit ours because we have the double jogging stroller and since we are driving our trunk space is limited. But if you have have more than one child and you are driving, I suggest taking one stroller at least and renting another one at the park. We will be taking our Bugaboo stroller with a skateboard attachment so at least we can stroller both kids back to the hotel after dropping off the rental stroller at the park.
4. Sunblock. It was super warm in the last 2 days we were there and my advice, pack a sunblock in your day bag so you can apply it on your child throughout the day. 
5. Addictive. We did not even consider the annual pass because we did not think we would be back for at least another year or so. But after you see how happy your kids are, the chances of you going back within the year is high, so, an annual pass is a much better deal. We wished we did that because we are heading back this May for Milo’s birthday. We gave him a choice of having a birthday party with his school friends (which he has been asking us for for a long time) or going to Disneyland. He picked Disneyland. Oh! How I wish we got the annual pass. 
I think that is all for now. I hope this helps for those who are planning a trip to the happiest place on planet Earth.

MY KIDS HEART EVERY REASON TO DRESS UP. THANK YOU HALLOWEEN FOR BEING YOU.

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1)  Raincoat: Hatley  
2) Matilda: Top: MiniBoden | Pants: Hanna Anderson | Shoes: Milo’s || Milo: Top: JCrew | Shorts: Target | Shoes:NewBalance
3) Top: MUJI | Pants: Hanna Anderson
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4) Milo as Robot 
5) Matilda wearing her last year’s bee costume. Milo wearing Matilda’s this year’s Foofa costume.        
6) This all happened after trick-or-treating when they were giving out candies to the trick-or-treaters. Milo as Chewbacca and Matilda just gave up on wearing pants.
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7) Milo as Captain America and Matilda as a garden gnome for a Halloween parade in town.
8) On the actual Halloween night, Milo decided to be Batman Wolverine and Matilda decided to be Foofa. 9) We were on the way from our house to trick-or-treat.
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10) Milo as Batman when I took him to walk around on the day of Halloween.
11) Milo with his Halloween crafty hat the week before Halloween.
12) Matilda sporting her mustache.

Halloween stayed and finally went bye-bye. We pretty much got excited about Halloween a month or so before the actual day and we made the mistake of asking Milo what he wanted to be for Halloween. It switched in a daily basis and when we took him shopping 3 weeks before the actual day, he decided he wanted to be Plex from YoGabbaGabba. Unfortunately the largest size they had was 3-4 years old. So, Milo picked Batman. For the next week or so, he bounced from Batman to Antman to Hawkeye and all the other superheroes. We told him that he needed to make up his mind and Captain America was his final decision. (We kept the Batman costume since Milo dresses up pretty often.) Matilda didn’t really care who she was going to be and being only 20months old, we got to decide for her. We chose Foofa from YoGabbaGabba. We would put Matilda in her costume several times a week to get her used to it but she really didnt care for it that much, so, I got her a garden gnome costume since its just a dress and she would be better about wearing it.

Both kids’s school had a Halloween party and we took the kids to town for the annual Halloween parade follow by trick-or-treating. We went to a pumpkin patch and did all the bouncy houses, haunted houses, pony riding and the train ride.

A week before Halloween, we practiced walking around our neighborhood with the kids when it was light out and when it was dark out. We wanted Milo to know what to expect, from getting used to walking in the dark and having decorations lighting around people’s houses. I highly suggest doing this with kids, especially with VI kids because it really helps to minimize his/her’s anxiety and the unknown especially the blinking/flashing decoration lights.

We ended up trick-or-treating at 7 houses! We are SO very proud of Milo and he was great about it. We were only going to go to 1 house but we did 7 instead. And he picked the house with very minimal decorations and no flashing lights of any kinds. Matilda did all of those and was very good! We came back to our place and Milo loved passing out candies to everyone and seeing all their costume.

We had a great Halloween and I am so proud of my superheroes. Milo decided to be BatmanWolverine and Matilda insisted on being Foofa on the night of Halloween. But for their school party, Milo was Captain America and Matilda was a garden gnome. Then again, it’s like Halloween at our home everyday because they love to dress up.

YOU.

“YOU” in braille is what the word bubble said.

I do a special post on this very day to someone close to our heart. It has been two years and I still think of her each day, sometimes through my husband, sometimes through my children and the other time is just because I think of her. She was a strong woman and an amazing mother and everyday I want/wish I can tell her that. Whether or not I am a believer in ghost,after-life or guardian angel, I believe she is always with my husband and my children because I see her in all of them.

Milo has a love for cats and so did she. (I know she would be so darn proud.) I truly believe it is her doing and it’s a nice thing to believe in because I want Milo to have a little part of her. I am waiting to see what part of her will Matilda have.

We miss you dearly and you are never forgotten, not even a day.

XOXO
me

HELLO TO YOU AND TO YOUR TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE.

Happy New Year guys. I am hoping everyone of you had a wonderful holiday in your own little way. We went on a vacation and we had an awsum time, but I must tell you guys that it started pretty bloody wild. Literally bloody wild.

On our 15 hours outbound flight, Milo’s good eye started bleeding. Yes, BLEEDING. We still had over 8 hours to go until our destination at that point. We thought about what exactly constitute as an emergency landing and if we were to land, I think the closest place at that point would be Japan. And of course to top it off, Milo started throwing up soon after the bloody discovery. And eventually his nose started bleeding intermittently as well. So, for the rest of the flight, his good eye and nose were bleeding and he was throwing up pretty regularly. It was the worst flight of all time. I kept thinking and panicking to myself that oh crap, is he going to loose his vision right now, right before our vacation starts, right before I get to show him all these cool stuff on our vacation and right before we meet up with his grandparents that he has been so eagerly looking forward to visit with.

I called my parents when we landed. I kept thinking of ways to break it to them without freaking them out, but there wasn’t really a good way if I had to use blood and Milo’s good eye in one sentence. We got really lucky and was able to see my dad’s ophthalmologist. The wait time before we saw him was scary. Milo kept saying I can’t see. I would gasped each time but I realized it was because of the giant puddle of blood collected in his eye. The ophthalmologist concluded that Milo must have rubbed his eye hard and made a small incision. He said it’s not uncommon at all and it does happen all the time. A giant sense of relieve was released in the air between myself, my hubby, my parents and possibly the kids.

Milo’s eye bled for couple more days. Matilda caught a cold on the plane and then we all caught it as well. SO, after a week of blood, vomit, and cold, we were so ready to play and we sure did. We had an awsum time and the kids loved seeing all the excitements and holiday decorations throughout the city. We ate all kinds of good food, with the exception that we ate at only two facilities since we wanted to be super safe due to Milo’s peanut allergy. We shopped at all different kinds of toy stores and I keep going back to my favorite store, MUJI. We took Milo and Matilda to Disneyland too.

Time went by super quick and it was so sad to go but I am so happy that we went and that it all worked out and no other crazee medical issues happened.

I want to write a little thing about traveling with special needs children, so, if you have no interest, then Happy New Year and I wish you guys the best of 2012 and I promise that I will try to post more this year and illustrate more. But if you are interested, here it goes. Being away from your home and really, from your own stuff is pretty hard especially when you have kids or special needs kids. During our trip, Milo didn’t like to walk much and it was not easy to carry a 3.5 year old around. Milo did not want to walk because there were so many people and they were all moving at a very fast pace and for being visually impaired, that makes it pretty darn scary and intimidating. It took Matilda awhile to get used to all kinds of loud noises. She turned her head a lot and was looking at me often for possible explanation as to what and where the noises were coming from. Being hearing impaired, it was challenging to be in such a place but at the same time I thought it was a good experience for her to learn to locate sounds. Milo was more challenging during our vacation since he is older and he is not as easy to carry compare to Matilda. (I used to ergo him in our past trip and he felt very secured with me holding him and we would talk about all the things we were seeing.) We wanted to take Milo to many places but we had to keep in mind of what he might like and not like due to his limited vision and whether or not he would be able to see them. I kept wishing there were some sort of ergo like thing for older kids with special needs. I wanted to ergo Milo but my hubby thought I was crazee because my back would have been dead if I were to walk around with Milo. Matilda was in the ergo everyday and she loved it. I guess a stroller would have been perfect but being in such a tight city, it was hard to get around. My hubby and I each had a pretty decent size backpack filled with Milo’s emergency medical supplies, extra clothing, diapers, wipes, Matilda’s baby food and snacks. It was okay when we didn’t make any purchases since we still have our hands to hold or carry Milo and Matilda, but when we did have shopping bags, it was a pretty good workout. I just wonder what your thoughts are and if anyone have any tips on traveling with special needs children. I really want to travel more with my two kids and especially with Milo because I want him to see as much as he can before his vision completely goes, but at the same time, I am reluctant to take him far because it is kind of a pain and also I am afraid to be far from his team of doctors after our bloody plane ride experience. Maybe I can win some kind of awsum ultimate vacation where when I travel with my kids, I would get car service following me around and have access to anything I want so that I know I can always reach doctors for my kids and that I don’t have to worry about Milo not walking. I want stress/medical free trip for my special needs children. All advices and tips are much appreciated.

Anyway, I think I win with this crazee bloody hell plane ride. Happy New Year guys and 2012 better rock your world.

xoxo
me