Unsolicited advice: You’re doing it all wrong

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ages. As Lana approaches her first birthday, I’ll be releasing a few posts about motherhood. At first I thought to do a monthly recap, but I decided let’s wait because I have other posts too. I want to showcase my hobbies and other things on my mind. Then this post quickly grew more into this very stream-of-consciousness post with various topics around motherhood. But now after reviewing, I broke them down and made several smaller posts around motherhood. This post is more focused on receiving unsolicited advice.

Continue reading Unsolicited advice: You’re doing it all wrong

I tell myself “It’s only temporary”

I wonder if dads get some sort of postpartum depression? Well the dad may not have gone through the biological process of having a baby, but life changes for them too. Some days I describe matrescence as a death of a former life and welcoming a new one. Matrescence is the best word to describe this feeling because it sounds like adolescence but for moms. (Which also reminds me…high school never seems to end when it comes to adulthood. But that will be saved for another post.) The pandemic has compounded some of the “low” moments of new parenthood like cancelling leisure travel plans.

Continue reading I tell myself “It’s only temporary”

Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Happy Friday everyone! This week flew by — thank goodness! A lot has developed over the past week especially at work. Visitors seeing patients staying at the in-patient floors must have COVID vaccine or COVID negative test in the last 72 hours. The lines to the information desk are getting long. I think maybe while we are at it, we should have a vaccine clinic at all our lobby areas so if they get turned away, they can get vaccinated and not leave feeling empty-handed.

Also at work, all employees (including volunteers and contractors) at my work must have the COVID vaccine by September 30th. If they don’t get vaccinated, they can’t go to work. I’m not sure what the ultimate decision will be for those who won’t vaccinate. Is this an experiment to get more employees vaccinated? In the meantime, unions are negotiating for those who continue to not vaccinate to do weekly COVID tests in order for them to continue working but my employer will remain rigid with their decision. There is an exemption but that applies if the person is reported to get an anaphylactic shock from the vaccine. Honestly I don’t mind that my work won’t budge. As someone working for a public employer, is it financially responsible for tax payer dollars to continue to pay for employee COVID tests? Have my coworkers seen how much COVID tests cost? Also, I’m tired of holding the secondary title of contact tracer at work — it eats up a lot of time from my regular duties.

Continue reading Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Exhausted and disillusioned

I finally made it to the end of the week and why did its arrival feel so freaking slow?! It’s been quite a week and I could not wait for it end! Well as of last Friday, my husband was off for two weeks for military training. Over that past weekend, I was working on Lana’s room — decluttering and reorganizing. Then…well let’s break this week past week down:

Continue reading Exhausted and disillusioned

A Heavy declutter weekend

It’s great day to have a coconut sundae! Yup, I am still writing about ice cream for my July “Eat Around the World” challenge. Don’t be intimidated by how indulgent it looks. It’s less of a sugar bomb compared to the ice cream sandwich I had the other day.

I can’t wait to share the other ice creams I’ve had this past month! I even made a couple of ice cream popsicles.

Continue reading A Heavy declutter weekend

Just a grain of salt…

Happy weekend coffee share! Let’s have a light brunch at Huckleberry in Santa Monica. I’ve been hearing great things about this place for years. I even borrowed their cookbook from the library to try out some recipes even though I’ve never been at the time. The jam-filled brioche loaf on the cover page caught my eye and that’s why I borrowed it. I was ambitious to venture into brioche-making. When I was about to return the library book, my miniature Schnauzer, Teddy, ruined the cover. Maybe he thought eating the cover page was a delicious idea. The library did not want want the book back in that condition (obviously). I had to pay for a replacement and got to keep the wrecked version.

To be honest, the damage is not as bad you think. Thank god for hardcover. Plus the pages are in great condition.

I guess I never bothered going because there are many other great brunches between there and where I lived. This morning I decided to finally go because it’s hot where I live. I wanted to escape the heat of the Valley for a little bit and hang out at Santa Monica. I am happy to say I am glad I made the small trek. This quiche gruyere and mushroom quiche is amazing! I also had their fruit crisp. This place definitely lives up to the hype. I’ll definitely go back to re-read this cookbook and replicate these dishes.

Anyways, if we were having coffee, I want to share a thing that bothered me. Background: my daughter’s daycare is at my work in the hospital so I get to see her during my lunch breaks. The other day, I decided to have lunch at the daycare to watch Lana do waterplay because it was first time doing waterplay. I like to see her have fun and engage with the other kids. I asked the daycare supervisor if I could eat lunch at the daycare and he said it was ok but as long as I’m not eating chips or other junk food in front of the other kids. He was explaining the importance of modeling good eating habits for the kids at the daycare. Also, he did not want to have some kid say “hey I don’t want to eat this watermelon, I want to chips because she’s eating chips!” I understood where he was coming from and I am not against this policy. Funny thing was that I had a bag of chip with me. All I had to do was walk a few feet to the staff cafeteria and eat them away from the kid’s sight. No big deal.

But that is not the part that frustrated me. After work, I met up with my husband for dinner and his friend tagged along. I shared with my husband about their lunch policy because we don’t want Lana become a picky eater as she gets older. But his friend exploded saying “Oh my gosh…ugh…they’re social engineering your kid. This is why you should not put your kids through public school, blah blah blah. This is why homeschool is far superior blah blah” Side note: this friend does not have any kids. And if you think public health and teaching kids and anybody about healthy eating (and washing your hands, brushing your teeth, etc.) is social engineering, then sure… Then hope you have one or all the things as a result of not doing any of these healthy habits. Also daycare is not the same as public school because I pay for daycare. It’s completely ridiculous. As much as I am ok with hearing other perspectives, I prefer to keep them at arm’s length. I commend my husband for taking these comments with a tiny grain of salt, while I am a little bit more sensitive.

Five things Friday: Self-care activities that make me feel like myself (Parenthood edition)

The other day my supervisor was talking about how she was looking forward to her first vacation with her family in 15 years. She tells me it’s better now that her kids are older — her youngest is a teenager and the other two are of college age. She laments about her time of early motherhood how she felt like she never had time to care for herself — maybe go out for a massage or get her nails done. It made me think about what are things I can do (or have done) to make me feel like myself. As a someone who has previously worked in senior care, it is just as important for the caregiver to take care of themselves. I’ll challenge myself to name five, so here it goes:

1. Going to an in-person exercise class – I know this is lame. A lot of people I know would prefer a massage or a facial, but I enjoy going to an in-person exercise class. I like to sweat it out. Nowadays I spend Monday to Friday exercising to videos at home. Going to an in-person exercise class was a frequent thing I enjoyed going to pre-pandemic and pre-motherhood because it is a place where I meet my friends and meet new ones and we bond over how much that exercise kicked our butts. But now with a kid, going to an in-person exercise class is nice weekend treat.

2. Shopping and window shopping too – I love walking through markets, farmer’s markets, malls, clothing stores, boutiques, etc. I don’t really shop until I drop, I just shop with my eyes. When it comes to having stuff, I try to be intentional as possible.

3. Walking around the neighborhood or a park – You see my self-care involves a lot of wandering. I like to pass by bakeries and restaurants and make lists in my head that I need to go try them out.

4. Working on creative projects – I have plenty of creative projects on the backburner. It’s ranging from re-arranging furniture in the house, doing a photo display around the house, writing on my journal and blog, working on a puzzle, trying a new recipe, etc. Pre-motherhood I would spend a good part of my weekends doing a bunch of small craft projects or trying a new cooking technique. Nowadays I would like to take on bigger (more like rather expensive) projects like working on my kid’s room so she can move out of our room…or making our patio a place to relax. You can never have too many places to lounge and read.

5. Hiring someone to assist with small tasks at home -I know this is more of a treat. I would hire the neighborhood gardener to help maintain and tidy my yard especially when there would be weeks where I can’t keep up.

Mothers, fathers, and other caregivers — what self-care activities do you do to make you feel more like yourself?

Reading her face

Two month old Lana may not be able to speak to us expressing what she wants and does not want, but her face can tell us all.

The face of a satisfied baby.
What do you want? More milk? A fresh clean diaper? To be carried?

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131-Emotions

Five things Friday: What I will miss from maternity leave

This is my last Friday before I head back into work so I decided to write about things I will miss about maternity leave.

To be honest, I did not really enjoy maternity leave. I thought I would, and was ready to give myself four months or even six months where I would live off the remaining three months from my savings. Instead I decided to return to work after three months of being on maternity leave. After three months, I feel I am mentally ready to step back into the grind. I think one factor is that I have on-site daycare at work making the transition from maternity leave a lot easier. First of all, I don’t have to look for childcare elsewhere and pay exorbitant fees. Not to mention, spots for daycare can be competitive. Secondly, I don’t have to compromise my schedule where I would wake up early to take Lana to my parent’s house who live 20 minutes north from me and pick her up after work. Also, to entertain another option, my husband and I do not have to move closer to my parents. Lastly, I did not have quit my job. It could have been a combination of all these things listed above and it is wild that we never had to think about any of it.

Maybe I did not enjoy maternity leave like I thought I would because of the lockdown. Everyday felt the same to me. I could not take Lana to the malls and sit in bistros to people watch with her. My restaurant hopping was more like Postmates orders coming to my door — and I got tired of it fast. I spent my days reading, showed her high contrast images, made toys, taught her how to use said toys, conducted sensory activities, sang, taught her how to sit and stand, tummy time, played music, etc. I felt I could have done more for Lana (and my dogs) by taking her out more if I could. I even fantasized about traveling somewhere during maternity leave if I could. Many of my friends were talking me into staying on leave for as long as I can. As much as I enjoy watching Lana grow, I want to move on.

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in paid maternity leave and in taking all the time needed to bond with your baby. I felt I took all the time needed to bond with her and I am ready to return to the real world. It is criminal that here in the United States paid parental leave is not a guarantee. What is even more criminal and disorienting is how each state and each employer does it differently.

Anyways, I am done ranting. Here are the five things I will miss about maternity leave:

  1. Walking my dogs (and of course Lana) everyday. I am not sure I could continue to walk with my kids everyday. It is usually a walk around the neighborhood — I can make them shorter where I walk about 20 minutes a day instead of an hour each day. Or maybe I can stick with weekends and holidays or maybe make every other day.
  2. Afternoon naps. I am not a daily napper. If I nap, it is no more than 20 minutes. I am sure I will miss afternoon naps when I return to work. I can’t really nap during my lunch break since I asked my supervisor for more breaks through the day — but it was at the cost of having a shorter lunch. I went from having a one-hour lunch break to a half-hour lunch break. But this time I have two 15-minute breaks that will allow me to visit Lana at daycare more instead of just lunch hour. No napping for me until the weekends.
  3. Making meals that take a lot of time during a weekday. I enjoyed experimenting with recipes everyday because I can. Usually this hobby is saved on some weekends if we are not going out of town.
  4. Going to my neighborhood library. The libraries are closed, but they have library-to-go service where you reserve a book and you go to pick up your book. The thing is this service is only open from Monday to Friday 10 AM-4 PM. I enjoyed my walks to the library to get books but now I had to sign up for another library that offers library-to-go service on Saturdays. This new library is not walking distance and is a fifteen minute drive from my house. I do want to continue the experience of reading to Lana.
  5. Milestones. I spend my days observing what new skill she picked up, what new object she engaged in, what new sound she made, etc. I’ll miss observing those simple things. Well…I hope the daycare staff can call me if she is starting to crawl, walk, or use the toilet. All I have to do is walk upstairs.

Parenthood at month 0-2

Here is a collection of my candid thoughts on parenthood up to this point. Warning: long post.

It’s a transformative experience…?

For me it is not a transformative experience. To be honest, I did not come in expecting to come out a changed, more improved person. I feel the same except with a baby. I do question when people tell me how wonderful having kids are as their kid cries non-stop no matter what the parent does to console. Nobody ever elaborates why it is a wonderful experience — I almost believe they are lying to themselves. Also nobody ever elaborates why and how they became a better person after having a kid. How were you like before? How does one define a better person? Did you become more charitable? Did you become more well-versed with the world around you? How do you define a better person?

Unsolicited advice and the snobs

Ugh…I think listening to people’s unsolicited advice is the hardest part of parenting. It’s more of the mental hits and blows I have to take. I am happy to say, I came fighting back. I have a blog post in the works and I’ve got a pretty snarky take on the advice I received.

Devoted to getting my baby on a schedule

Why am I spending most of my maternity leave practicing schedule runs as though I am returning to work? Well…I know I am going back to work. I knew this since before she was born. I’ve been experimenting with a 4:30 am or 5 am wake-up time during the week. I still want to exercise in the morning. If I return to work, being up from 4:30 AM to 7 AM is the only time of day I can do selfcare with a feeding in between and feeding the dogs. Not only do I have prepare for my day, I have have to prepare her stuff for the day too. I am incredibly thankful I have on-site daycare at my job so she and I can both go to the same place.

I feel because I got myself into a schedule mentality early on, the transition to returnito work made it easier.

I am grateful for having a background with working with older adults

I’ve worked with older adults for many years ranging from independent to those late in dementia. I use to be a program manager where I would support a variety older adult programs in the activities and recreation department. The activities I’ve done with dementia residents have come in handy when interacting with my baby such as singing, music therapy, sensory, and chatting. Yes, socializing and chatting is an activity.

Going minimalist

There is all this pressure to buy this and buy that. There are people pushing their old (barely functioning, questionable quality) baby stuff. I absolutely hate being a reservoir for people’s baby junk from fancy baby bouncers, walkers, ball pits, etc. I am proud of our wide open living area. Babies do not really need a lot of stuff. For toys we only bought one stuffed animal, one rattle, and an empty baby gym to add our own stuff.

Because we don’t have a lot of stuff, it allows us to interact with her more. It allows me to be more creative. I had this lone sock without a partner, so with a permanent marker, I drew a face and it’s now a sock puppet. My husband calls the sock puppet Jacques Le Sock. I got these mini Christmas lights for our mini Christmas tree. Now they are repurposed for some sensory activities. We also spend our days walking around the neighborhood — the world is our playground.

Ironically since having a baby, I have a strong desire to declutter.

Looking forward to returning to work

I am currently on maternity leave and to be honest, I cannot wait to return to work. I am lucky my work has on-site daycare serving people in all kinds of occupations from janitors, nurses, clerks, doctors, and executives — it’s equitable. I am lucky I can visit her during my lunch breaks and she’s able to socialize during the day and oddly I get some sort of respite. Since working at my current job, I wonder why on-site daycare or at least a partnership with a daycare not the norm. I understand not everyone wants to return to their jobs after maternity leave even if such a perk is offered. Not to get on a soap box, but maybe we do need a basic universal income to support a parent who wants to care for their child (or other dependents) full-time.

And the best for last…it’s wonderful to watch her smile and grow

I wanted to end this long post on a high note. Here are some milestones for the past two months:

  • Smiling and recognizing me and my husband
  • Making gutteral sounds and coos
  • Seeing high contrast images. Her favorite is the globe.
  • Holding up her head for tummy time. Her record is 86 seconds.
  • Enjoying her daily walks with me and the dogs.
  • Hearing me read to her almost daily.
  • Enjoys bath time. Can tell and respond to the differences between hot and cold.
  • Recognizes the difference between day and night
  • Sleeps for most of the night
Week 0
Week 8

It’s only temporary

A couple of months ago, I just had my baby. I’ll admit, there have been many difficult moments where she would wake up several times in a night for a feeding or a diaper change or just wanted to be carried in the earlier weeks. Some people would tell me these moments are “beautiful” and I say they are lying to me because it was tough and frustrating. Plus it must be nice to hire a postpartum doula and recruit other help. Then there’s other people who tell me it gets better, but they never quite elaborate it.

I agree, it does get better. It’s not because I got better at waking up frequently through the night. In fact, nowadays, she wakes up only once in middle of the night on most nights. It gets better because the frustrations I had in the infancy of parenthood were were gone; I realized these feelings were only temporary. I wish I told myself before she was born that my frustration and sleepless nights will pass — it’s not going to be forever. Of course interacting with her when she’s awake in the daytime and helping her relax towards the later hours (or when she indicates she’s tired) did not happen on its own — we worked to make it happen.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

Julie does Parenthood

I know it has been a while since I wrote on here. I’ve been pregnant during the pandemic. I work at a hospital and it is safe to say these last few months of work has been the busiest I’ve been in my career. There were days where I was so tired that after work I would nap in my car before starting my car to drive home.

I am currently on maternity leave. One of things I wanted to do while on maternity leave is to go back to writing on my blog. My blog has long been a creative outlet for past travel experiences, food and drink (dining, eating, and making), and finding the beauty in the everyday. But as of lately, I want to use the blog to sort my head out and adjust to parenthood and how to deal with the people (namely other parents) around me. The unsolicited advice and the undermining of my parental authority has been driving me crazy. I told my husband that the best thing about this pandemic is the lockdown and I want to take advantage of not paying a visit to people I don’t want to see. Cabin fever has been hard on my husband, but for the sake my mental health it has been beneficial — my mind feels clearer. When I was pregnant, I told people the best thing about being pregnant during the pandemic was the quarantine — I could focus on staying healthy at home and not have someone second guess my choices (“you should be eating for two!”) — as a result, I had a healthy pregnancy — I only gained 25 pounds and I recovered well after delivery. I stayed there for two days and the OB-GYN cleared me for light exercise upon discharge.

Lastly, I want to avoid making this “another mommy” blog but I’ll be posting a few things here and there on my past few weeks exploring motherhood. I may get somewhat snarky…