First (Professional) Haircut

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mars is 11 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days old.

Today, we took him to get his first professional haircut. I cut his hair the first two times and was not so happy with the outcome so this time, we decided to go to a professional.

Here is the before:

His haircutter was super nice and really quick. She definitely knew how to get the job done without upsetting him.

He did pretty well until the end when I stepped away to take this picture. He is in mid-shriek.

The whole thing lasted about 8.5 minutes and here is the after picture: 

Super cute and ready for his first birthday party coming up!

Some notes on Mars talking:

 1. He has been saying, "mama" a lot more. Usually when I'm not around and he's looking for me, he'll say, "mama". 
2. This week, he's been saying, "diko, diko, diko" when we tickle him and say, "tickle, tickle, tickle".
3. He's also been saying different variations of that word with, "dika", or "taka". 
4. Today, he was pointing at Porkchop and saying, "woo woo!", a Chinese baby word for dog.

...and I gotta go now because he just spit up on my neck! 

11 months, 1 week, and 2 days old

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mars is 11 months, 1 week, and 2 days old.

His hair is getting out of control, but I don't have it in me to get it cut again. I trimmed the front the other day, but for now, that's as far as I'll go!

These past couple of days have been rough for Mars because he's teething. His bottom two teeth surprised us when they came in because they didn't affect him at all. This time, however, is a different story. He's been a lot more clingy and gets upset easily. The other day, he pushed his toy off the table and that made him really sad. He even made that super cute pouty face. Last night, he woke up every 30 minutes to an hour and just scream-cried. During a play-date today, he got freaked out by a Kermit the Frog puppet that bit his finger. I feel so bad for him and just want him to get better soon. Poor baby. 

Taiwan Days 3 & 4

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 3
I don't have many interesting pictures from this day, but I do have a funny story. The morning started out with some leg cramps because I fell asleep in a sitting position while nursing the night before. We went out anyway because we had lunch reservations at 欣葉 (Shin Yeh Japanese Buffet) with my dad and his brothers. My leg felt  ok, but gradually got worse after lunch while we were heading over to 士林 (ShiLin night market area) to search for these bags we've been seeing around the city.

After shopping around, we decided to stop by 肥前屋 for dinner (Hizen-Ya, best unagi rice in the city), and by this time I was limping and could only walk very slowly. After dinner, I could barely walk. My leg felt all nerve-y every time I tried to move it, so to make our commute easier, we took a taxi to the MRT line that our house was on to avoid transfers. However, even at the MRT station, I could not walk.

Then, J spotted a wheelchair and we asked the service desk if we could use it. Turns out, they are SUPER accommodating to people with needs over in Taipei (more on this and breastfeeding in a later post). A guy wheeled me to the MRT train where a lady was waiting for me. She made room for me on the very crowded train and when it was time to get off, another man was waiting at my destination to push me to the exit closest to our house. Everyone was so helpful, and it was the biggest relief ever! My crazy leg! Then, J helped me limp home slowly while my sister carried Mars, and we stayed home for the rest of the night.

The End!

Day 4
New Year's Eve started out with lunch at 永康街 (YongKang Street) where they have famous beef noodle soup restaurants. I'm used to going to this one called 永康牛肉麵 (Beef Noodle Master), so that's where I took my family.

By the way, Mars HATES the MRT. I dunno why!? I love it!

Side dishes at lunch:

Half-tendon, half-beef noodle soup:

After lunch, we headed over to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. I love going here because when I was little, we took family portraits here, so it's super nostalgic to me. I was extra excited to take some photos of our family now, and some photos of Arden with Mars.

It was a really beautiful day and the kids had a lot of fun crawling around. Mars especially enjoyed it because he was starting to get sick of being carried around in the Ergo all day, everyday.

I love this picture of them on the grass! Good thing we snapped it, because right after, a guard came up to us and told us to stay off the grass...

Arden had a lot of fun feeding the fish. It was super cute when she said, "Let's come back here again, I like it here".

Afterwards, we went to 師大 (ShiDa night market area) to get me some glasses and contacts ($40US for new prescription glasses, no exam needed!). Then, we headed over to 科技大樓 (Technology Building area), which is the closest MRT station to where I used to live! We picked up some 肉圓 (BaWan) and stinky tofu soup togo and headed home.

It was New Year's Eve, but we were way too tired to even stay up for the amazing Taipei 101 fireworks on TV. I think we were all in bed by 10pm. It's ok though, we got to see them multiple times on other people's cell phones.

Taiwan Day 2: Hualien

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 2
On our second day back, we took an entire day trip down to 花蓮 (Hualien), the town my parents are from, and the town where we used to visit our grandparents in when we were younger. I spent a lot of my childhood here and I haven't been back since visiting my late grandfather in 2009. 

The train ride was around 3 hours and Mars slept most of the way:

The first thing we did when we got there was eat a home-cooked lunch at my great aunt's house. This meal pretty much sums up my childhood meals perfectly. The fried fish is the same fish my paternal grandfather used to buy and it was cooked in the same way as well. The garlic sprouts sauce is also a specialty that we'd always have when eating with my dad's side of the family. And of course, putting newspaper down on the table is something that we'd always do as well. This wasn't the entire meal, I dunno why I didn't snap a photo after all the dishes were on the table:

After lunch, the adults (aka my mom, sister, and grandaunt) chatted while the kids (J, Arden, Mars, and I) took a walk outside.

Later, we all went for a walk into to town, but not before stopping by my grandparents' old neighborhood.

And here I am in front of the gates of my old pre-school! It looks like a castle (you can see it in the background)!

Then, we decided to stop by my grandparents' house, which was recently sold to the neighboring egg processing company. It was really sad to see them doing renovations to it, and pretty much tearing everything out to build an office. From the front, we could see empty shells of where we used to sit in the living room to watch tv, or the dining room where my grandma kept her sewing machine.

After this, we walked toward the "downtown" area, stopping by at the houses of different relatives to say hi (this town is really tiny). While downtown, we ate some fried pork noodles and shopped around. Then it was time to head back to Taipei on the train and we didn't get home until around 11pm. 

Taiwan Day 1

Monday, January 19, 2015

We arrived in Taipei on Saturday, December 27th in the late afternoon. By the time we got to my Aunt's house, it was already dinner time. For dinner we got 薑母鴨 to go and ate it at home. It's a ginger duck soup base that you can use for hotpot and is only available during the winter months. The broth is made of duck pieces seared with hot oil and ginger, and then boiled in rice wine saturated with Chinese herbs, roots, and berries:

Day 1
Our first morning, and every morning afterwards, we'd get Taiwanese breakfast at different breakfast places around my aunt's neighborhood. 

This is a popular chain, 永和豆漿 where we went most of the time. The first day, we went crazy and got enough food for a dozen people but it was helpful for us to try everything and to figure out what we wanted to eat in the following days:

This is a vegetable garden across from where we were staying:

Later that day, we had lunch with my two uncles and aunt from my dad's side of the family. We ate at a traditional Taiwanese food restaurant and sat around and chatted at their house afterwards. Later that night, we had dinner at Addiction Aquatic Development (which is a giant fresh fish and seafood market) with my maternal uncle's family and had an enormous Hokkaido snow crab that was super delicious. So delicious that I can never eat crab again in my life and be satisfied. You know that feeling you get when you spend all this time cracking crab legs and all you get is a small amount of meat out that leaves you pretty unsatisfied? Well, not this crab. This crab leg was the length of my entire arm and the meat came out so easily that I actually got full off of one leg. To say that it was amazing is probably not enough but it truly was amazing. 

(All photos shot on Fuji Superia 200 film)

11 months and 2 days old

Friday, January 16, 2015

Film: Fujicolor Natura 1600 

Mars is 11 months and 2 days old.

It's been a while since I posted one of these weekly updates. Mars has grown so much already since the last one. Lately, he has been making a lot of new sounds like, "deeka deeka dika" and just now, he was saying, "maaaaa maaaaa maaaa maaa" really slowly to make bubbles on his lips. He got a kick out of the latter and cracked himself up :)

He's also been able to clap and shake his head for a while, but in the past few weeks, he's also been doing the, "more please" sign. Only on occasion will he do his signs on command, but when he does, he knows, "clap" in Chinese and English!

I started shooting with 35mm film again! I've always loved shooting with film, and yesterday, when I got my first three rolls processed, I got all giddy and excited to pop the CD into my computer to see what I've captured. Just like old times!

The pictures above were taken in December with an expensive film that I've tried to experiment with numerous times, but have never quite been able to master. I still have a few rolls of this stuff left but I've given up and don't think I'll be using it anymore. It's supposed to be best for night shots, but even with a fast camera, those photos don't come out very well either :( Please excuse the grain!

Travel: Plane Rides with a Baby

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A picture of Mars mid-change on the plane, taken on my phone.

So far, Mars has been on ten plane rides. Four of which were very short, 1 hour rides to Southern California, four were to Costa Rica (one roundtrip journey, broken into four 3 hour rides), and these past two 11-14 hour long rides to Taiwan.

I always dread the plane ride right before we get on and feel extremely nervous about how Mars is going to do. Our trip back from Costa Rica was not that long, but I remember being very close to losing it because Mars wouldn't sleep and was getting overstimulated by all the passengers sitting around us, trying to play with him. With that being the trip right before our long 14-hour flight, I was terrified and was expecting the worst. 

However, things turned out great! I would even say that it was a very pleasant experience. Mars did very well and didn't cry or scream or anything like that! I'd give him all the credit because he generally is a very happy baby, but I can't say that my preparations didn't contribute either :) A mom recommended I bring some Benedryl "just in case", but in the end we didn't even need it, and I'm glad we decided against drugging our baby for convenience.

Here are my top 5 tips for flying with a baby:

1. Make sure to get bulkhead seats!
I called a month ahead of time to get a bassinet, but it seems like none of that got communicated to the airline, however it was good to say, "I called a month earlier to request it and...". We asked at check-in for seats, and we asked again at the gate for seats. At first they said that the flight was full and there was nothing that they could do, but in the end, they were able to switch some things around and get us the front row seats. These seats played a major role in making us feel so comfortable on our flight! 
On our flight there, we sat at the bulkhead seats on the left window side. On the way back, we had aisle seats in the middle row. I'd recommend the side window seats if possible. There were times during the flight when I put down a blanket and let Mars sit on the ground and crawl around. It was also nice to sit down there to switch things up after getting tired of sitting in one position. Being by the window also offered more privacy for easy nursing. 

2. Pack more baby snacks and toys than you think you'll need!
I brought two mesh bags full of toys and one big bag of snacks. When packing the toys, I made sure to pack many different textures, rattles, and uses. I even got this new vibrating teether and introduced it to him on the plane. That kept him busy for a while. A few times, Mars would throw toys behind our seats so I was glad to have extra. Same goes for the snacks. Having extra snacks came in handy when he would drop his cracker on the floor because the five second rule does not apply on an airplane. Those seats and floors are filthy!

3. Anything can be a new toy to keep baby busy!
When Mars needed a new distraction, the headphones in the seat pocket came in handy as something new to explore. When the flight attendants were serving drinks, we asked for extra cups (hot and cold!) for Mars to play with (as pictured above). The blanket they provide was great for peek a boo, and the pillow kept him busy for a short while as well!

4. An inflatable nursing pillow adds a lot more comfort!
On our Costa Rica flights, I remember my arm losing circulation and getting really sore from holding the baby. This time around, we got an inflatable My Breast Friend and it made a huge difference! It takes up a lot of space when inflated so the trick is to not blow it up all the way so that it fits in you seat. 

5. A nursing cover can help block distractions for a good nap.
I used my nursing cover to help battle distractions on the plane when it was time for a nap. Mars was really interested in everything that was going on since being on a plane is still new for him so covering him up for nap time was a must. Sometimes, he'd still pop his head out and it was funny and cute so we didn't mind :) 

Those are my top 5 suggestions for traveling with a lap infant. 5 because I can really go on and on with this one (For example, babywearing, packing, preboarding, getting through security, etc!) If anyone has any other good ideas, please don't be shy and comment below! Happy travels!

An Update! Christmas!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Has it almost been a month already?! My apologies for the lack of posts... Christmas came and went so quickly and right after, we were off to Taiwan! Upon our return, we've been battling some extreme jet lag and I just haven't found the time to post. But I'm here now! And here's a quick Christmas update before it's really too late! 

On Christmas Eve, the in laws came over and we had a big dinner along with some present opening. I made some roasted butternut squash, parmesan and rosemary sweet potato stacks, and some other sides. My flourless chocolate cake fell apart so I put the pieces in crystal glasses with graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows and turned it into s'mores cups! After dinner we crowded around the TV for a screening of The Interview, and about half-way through, Mars and I went to bed.

On Christmas morning, we let Mars open up his remaining presents, and boy was this baby lucky on his first Christmas! After typing all this out, it seems that we didn't really do much on baby's first Christmas, but I feel like we were busy this whole season with activities so it's not so bad. 

The day after Christmas, we left for Taiwan, and after we got back, we put away the ornaments, the tree, and the decorations. It's always sad when the holiday season ends. September through December are always my favorite months, and a friend and I were joking the other day that now, it's just the normal time of the year again. Booring! Until next time, Christmas! I can't wait to see you again!
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