Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For Auld Lang Syne, My Friends

For ["long long ago," "days gone by," "old times" or "the sake of old times"] (Wikipedia)

This time last year, my husband and I were living in Scotland, listening to bagpipes, wearing tartan scarves and dunking shortbread in hot cocoa. I'm feeling pretty nostalgic of the wonderful experiences and the friends we made there. Sometimes, I wish we could go back, build our lives there and have our family and friends with us too. But alas, we relish on good memories and strive to make new ones where we are, wherever we are. For "Auld Lang Syne." 

Scotland sparked an interest in me to find the significance of "Auld Lang Syne." "For old time's sake." That's what it means. The Scots sing it at the close of the year as they reminisce the year with loved ones, and look forward to memories they'll build together in the coming year.




Over the years, I've traveled to a few different places and made great friends along the way. I've tried to keep in contact with those I met, but it's not always the easiest thing to do for anyone, really. Life happens: job, school, events, marriage, internships, child birth, child raising, etc. But when I have some free time, I often think of those good times shared with friends and family, and I long for their return. The sweetness I felt in those little individual moments is forever imprinted on my heart, and the wonderful memories live on. 

For me, good friends are one of the most valuable assets in my life - most of them are like family to me. Good friends are so valuable. Nothing can replace those moments of laughter, tears, encouragement, celebration, honesty, working through rifts, and growing together. They are little angels to help us on our way. So let's hold on to those good friends and remember that we can always be a better friend. I was so blessed to be able to talk to some of them this season and hopefully even more throughout this coming year. 

We feel so fortunate that Baby Boston has so many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all over the world that love him. 

May peace, love and laughter fill your lives, for auld lang syne especially during this season. As you reflect upon this year, I hope you'll find lots of good tidings, joy, and blessings and look forward to more in the coming year. In this new year, may we improve relationships with loved ones and new friends, and remember the good times. Look for the positives in life and thrive on them. Make it a new year's resolution to BE HAPPY!


Happy New Year, dear friends!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Family Christmas Traditions

Since we were married, something my husband and I looked forward to was holiday traditions -- customs our kids could get excited for each year. Hopefully it would provide them with wonderful memories in years to come. We went over the Christmas traditions that our families already have, wrote down others that came to us, and we'll continue to add to them each year. This year was extra special with the addition of our little Boston and here is what we have so far:

Listening to and singing lots of Christmas music together to get into the Christmas spirit, putting up the tree a day or two after Black Friday (and all of our shopping), putting up Christmas decorations and stockings, and writing to Santa Claus.

Christmas Movies: We selected 12 Christmas movies to watch with our family in the month of December
  1. Polar Express
  2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  4. Frosty the Snowman
  5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. Elf
  7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  8. The Little Drummer Boy
  9. It’s a Wonderful Life
  10. White Christmas
  11. A Christmas Story
  12. The Nativity
Ornaments: We each picked out a new ornament for our tree. It seems we've been going with a Disney theme so far. It would be super nice if this continued. This year, I chose Merida from Brave in honor of our time in Scotland. AJ picked out Crash the sea turtle and his son from "Finding Nemo" to represent him and little Boston. We chose an original Winnie the Pooh on a rocking horse for little Boston. Holly chose the special bell from the movie, "Polar Express." She was so excited!

Christmas Market: When we lived in Europe Christmas markets were so popular and we just loved them. We were super excited to take Boston to Provo City's first ever Christmas market this year with lots of fun artisan booths and even entertainment such as jazz music and llamas! It was super chilly but we bundled up super well. Boston was a little trooper. We even found a very cute hand made newsie hat for Boston. We hope we'll be able to find a Christmas market wherever we decide to call our home.




Temple Square Lights: Our family took the front runner train up to Salt Lake City to see the LDS Temple lights. It was a very beautiful sight. There were nativity sets from different cultures, including my favorite one of Japanese characters. There were lanterns with silhouettes from different scenes from the Bible. My favorite is the reflection pond in front of the temple with the statue of the Nativity in the middle of it, surrounded by beautiful candle balls. It was just perfect.



Family Christmas Party: There is usually a Christmas party with the Huntingtons that centers around the children's talent show. This year, Holly played, "When Joseph went to Bethlehem" on her violin. It was great considering she began lessons in August. I couldn't think of any talent besides my little Boston. jk It was wonderful and so adorable. We have some very cute little cousins!

Cookies and notes: We baked a lot of goodies such as shortbread and snicker doodle cookies to give to dear friends as gifts along with hand written notes. This one we count as serving others and thinking beyond ourselves, hopefully lifting up their spirits for the season.


Pajamas on Christmas Eve: AJ's parents usually give each of us a set of pajamas to open up on Christmas Eve so we're all dressed in them for Christmas morning.



Pictures: We took our annual family photo in front of the Christmas tree and just pictures period.


 Foods: My favorite part is the FOOD! We're coming up with a few Christmas staples. Rabanada (Brazilian style French toast) for breakfast. Christmas coxinhas (Brazilian savory treat with chicken inside). Pastel de Nata (a sweet treat from Portugal, my fav was pastel de Belém in Lisboa). Scones (or scuns in Scotland). YUM! As our main course this year, Dad made Beef Wellington, which was mighty delicious! I'll have some recipes up later.


Homemade gift: Every year, Grandpapa and Lola should expect a cute little craft from their grand baby  made especially for them.


Reconnection: Christmas always brings a bout of reflection and reconnection. This year, we were able to talk with people we love but aren't able to talk to. Some being my host family in Brazil and my little brother, Anthony who is serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Cambodia. It was so, so good to talk them and made it a little easier to be so far away from them. Thank goodness for technology!


Santa Claus; Santa is real. We tracked his venture on Norad. He visited and gave the only unwrapped gift as well as filled our stockings. This year, Holly received her very own American doll, Rebecca and she is a beauty. We've already welcomed her to the family as Boston's cousin :) We added books as well because of the value of reading is beyond measure. Boston received lots of books so we'll be reading quite a bit this coming year [and many, many years to come]. And Boston, as expected, didn't know what was going on, but was just living life, enjoying some fun times staring at his feet and eating his hands.



The reason for the season: We attended our neighborhood Christmas party (our LDS ward party), had some great soup options, visited with new friends and old friends, sang Christmas carols, listened to the story of the birth of Christ and his life, saw the Nativity scene depicted, and reflected on the sacrifice the Savior made for each one of us.

I am so grateful for this time to celebrate Him and to be reminded of all the great blessings He has provided me -- mainly my family and friends. This priceless knowledge of Him alone brings joy to my life each and everyday. Whether or not you believe in Christ, I hope that you will find lots of good cheer and love from this season. May you spend lots of time with those you love and enjoy many moments of laughter. If you have any other traditions, please share them below. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cheers to 25!

This month, I celebrated a milestone of my life -- my 25th birthday. I can't believe the time has come for me to turn a quarter of a century old. I'm thankful for the challenges and experiences I've had over these last 25 years. They really have made me who I am today.

This is the sixth birthday I’ve celebrated with my husband now. It’s been such an amazing few years because he has striven to make each one special. I'll never forget how he made me a huge ice cream cake for my first birthday with him, which stayed in my friend's fridge for months after. He never forgets and I hope he never will. I love and appreciate him so much. 

This year, we celebrated at Mimi’s Café, which is the place I celebrated my birthday with AJ for the first time. I love the ambiance of this place especially because of the Southern cooking and decorations. Everything is yum here.

I enjoyed a very delicious Poulet à l’Orange Crêpes:





We had such a special evening filled with laughter and conversation. AJ gave me the new Jack Johnson CD, “From here to now to you,” berry fruit snacks, and Oreo cheesecake cupcake from Sweet Tooth Fairy (all my favorites), and a very hilarious card about a husband who loves his wife through all of her emotions, that I'll put on my night stand to laugh whenever I look at it. Mom, Dad and Holly gave me a nice starter knife set which I'm so, so excited to start using as I practice my way to being a chef. I'm that much closer to becoming a better cook, or so my husband hopes :)








On Saturday, we returned to Mimi's with Mom for breakfast. Such a great selection here: huge hot chocolate with whipped cream and delicious hardy omelet! I was in love. Thanks for bearing with me during these celebrations, family!

This celebration was simple, sweet, and filled with love--just the way I like it. I'm so grateful for a wonderful family and in-laws. They're the greatest joys of my life. Cheers to being 25!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Violin Lessons

My little sister, Holly began her long awaited violin lessons on Saturday and was super excited about it. We all know how difficult instruments can be at the beginning, but practice makes perfect. That's what Holly does. Practice. A lot. She continues to play her violin at home after coming back from practice and Boston... well he continues to cry along with her playing. And Holly then frequently responds with "Sorry Boston, I know I'm bad at this but I'll get better. I promise. You don't have to cry!"

Sorry Boston, we'll just have to wait til that day comes. It's tough being a baby esp. having to listen to violin practice every single day. But for his Aunt Holly, he will endure but pout every time she begins playing :)



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gordon Ramsay's Sticky Lemon Chicken

My dad is a culinary arts teacher at a technical college, and he loves the famous chef on Food Network, Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay is a talented chef with great knowledge on food and technique, and his funny to watch with his snide remarks and Bad A attitude. One of Dad's students actually got to work with Ramsay in the kitchen during his externship at the Sundance Ski Resort. Bringing in highly skilled chefs may be a reason why Sundance has a great culinary reputation.

Today, I tried making Ramsay's Sticky Lemon Chicken recipe for our family dinner. It's one of Dad's favorite recipes. Chicken and Sherry, who could resist? This recipe turned out great. The chicken was moist with a hint of lemon, Sherry and soy sauce. It's a delicious balance and you can even make the outside a little extra crispy. It's delicious served with a side of jasmine rice, steamed vegetables, or Ramsey's Champs. Check out the recipe is listed below. There's also a link to his easy video.


Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins


Ingredients:


Sticky Lemon Chicken

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 lemon sliced thickly, plus juice from another half of lemon
1/3 cup water. Add in more a little by little if needed.
Bunch of fresh thyme, minced with scissors
2 tablespoons honey
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Instructions:

1. Cut chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan at about medium high heat, add the chicken, and brown thoroughly on both sides with garlic for 5 minutes.

2. When the chicken is a nice golden-brown, add the soy sauce and Sherry vinegar. Top with the lemon slices and squeeze the juice from half of that other lemon over everything. Add cup of water and, over medium-low heat, simmer, turning the pieces from time to time for about 6-7 minutes (or until most of the water has cooked away, whichever comes first).

3. Season with the fresh thyme and drizzle with honey and some more soy sauce (if needed). Add a good grind of pepper and cook for another five minutes or so. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with champ--that's Irish for mashed potatoes with green onions.

It was a quick and easy recipe and most importantly, my family enjoyed it. Yes, even little Holly ate it. It's a perfect mixture of sweet and sour, something to shake up the flavor of our chicken.We served it with white rice. A little more vegetables would have been a great addition, so we'll try that out next time. This is definitely a recipe I'll be turning to again and again. Check out the link above to see how he does it. Here is the recipe for his Champ.

Champ
1/2 lb floury potatoes (e.g. King Edward), peeled
pinch of Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Bunch of spring onions (about 6–8), trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 cup whole milk, plus extra if needed (Europeans love their whole milk, but can be substituted)

1. Cut the potatoes into similar-sized chunks and boil in salted water for about 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a small sharp knife. Drain well.
2. Mash the potatoes while still hot, using a potato ricer if you have one, then stir through the butter and spring onions.
3. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Take off the heat and gradually pour on to the potatoes, mixing well. If the mash is too thick, add a little extra milk. Season generously and serve.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Boston's First Halloween

Children give so much meaning to life. Our boy in particular, has brought us more joy than we ever thought possible, even as such a little dependent infant. AJ and I usually don’t dress up for Halloween (except for Halloween parties which we haven't thrown for years), but this year, we actually had reason to dress Boston up. I love family Halloween costume themes so Daddy was Batman and Boston was Daddy’s little sidekick, Robin – the Dynamic Duo – because he will always be Daddy’s little buddy. Holly dressed up as Super Girl and me as Wonder Woman. We were a family of super heroes for the evening and had so much fun! Holly was especially intrigued that she matched her nephew, which made them extra cool.
Batman and Happy Robin
Our family and the pumpkins this year
For Boston’s first Halloween, we opted out of taking him trick or treating and we went to our annual family party instead and he partied it up…in dreamland. There is a fun a tradition of serving soup at our family party. This year, we had broccoli and cheese, chili, creamy potatoes, and lime chicken with beans. We served them in bread bowls and it was delish! It was fun to sit and listen while parents told funny stories of their childhood and the nuances of parenthood to grandparenthood.

As his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents took turns holding Boston throughout the night, we saw how much he was loved and it brought us joy and comfort to know that besides us, there will always be family for our little boy to lean on. **I guarantee that baby holding brings automatic lovin’ and joy to the holder, by the way.**


Grandpapa and Baby
Cousin Tiff and Boston
One of Boston's biggest fans, Supergirl
Chaperoned by an aunt and uncle, Holly and all of the cousins piled into a Suburban and drove around different neighborhoods to trick or treat. It’s a tradition, which even AJ and I have participated in (because it’s weird to trick or treat beyond teenage years and even weirder to do so in a costume beyond age 12, we were just proud chaperones). But the kids have kicked it up a notch. They know exactly which homes give out the large treats and that’s where they aim for. This year, there was an anomaly as they each came home with a toothbrush as well. We suspect we have a dentist on the trail. What a smart man! I rest assured that even with the large haul the kids came back with this year, their rotting teeth will be delayed by brushing, occasionally. J/k.
Cousins
Family is where it’s at. They sometimes are the cause of headaches and heartbreaks, but they also bring their fair share of joy. What a wonderful night. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why We Named Him, Boston

We've had the name, "Boston" on our list of names for a son since we were engaged because it's associated with so many wonderful experiences for us. Boston has becomes such a special name to us, and here are some of the reasons why:

1. First of all, what an amazing game this past Wednesday when the Red Sox played against the Cardinals and took the World Series title at Fenway Park (the first win at Fenway since 1918)! There was so much energy vibrating through the screen from Fenway. It brought back memories of when we were at Fenway for the first time, singing "Sweet Caroline" during the 8th inning.


2. Although a huge tragedy, so much strength and solidarity grew from the Boston Marathon bombings this year. I hope that both strength and solidarity will grow with my little Boston as well. Boston will learn that we are all humans with great power and potential to do good when we are connected. We are forever Boston Strong.


3. His daddy loved his mission for the LDS church in Boston, MA. This name will forever serve as a reminder of those precious few years he spent serving the Lord and His people.

4. His mommy and daddy LOVE the city of Boston. There is such great history and culture in this city, things that just resonated with us such as the North End, great Italian food and cannoli's, Paul Revere's story, the famous Old North Church, Boston Tea Party, and so much more. We hope to live here some day.

5. Legend has it that the name, "Boston" derives from the old Catholic saint, Botolph, who is over travelers, and that's what we live for--ADVENTURE


But really, if we didn't have any of these reasons, Boston is just a great name :) We're so grateful for our little Boston.

P.S. I really, really wish we were in Boston right now, partying it up like it's 1918.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Thai Pineapple Curry

For dinner with our family, AJ and I tag teamed to make a rendition of Thai Pineapple Curry. The original recipe can be found on Allrecipes.com. We made a few modifications and it turned out almost like at Thai restaurants. It was delicious and spicy, just the way we like it. I also loved all the vegetables we put in which made it more substantial and flavorful. Check out the recipe below.



Original recipe makes 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste (this is spicy, so put in less if you are not too fond of spice)
  • 2 (13.15 ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained
  • 3 carrots, cut bite sized
  • 2-3 potatoes, cut bite sized
  1. In a wok, sautee the curry paste in vegetable oil, then add the meat. At this point, you're only cooking the paste and the chicken in oil.
  2. In a separate pan, boil potatoes half way (approx. 15 mins).
  3. After meat is half way cooked, add cans of coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, carrots, and bamboo shoots. Bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear.
  4. Mix the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, potatoes, and onion into the wok. Continue cooking 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in pineapple. Serve over cooked jasmine rice.
**Stir continuously so that the milk doesn't get overly thick.
**Add coconut milk and fish sauce if it is too spicy to adjust to your taste.

 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Totoro Baby Shower

I didn't get the chance to write about the shower for Baby Boston that happened at the end of August so I'm doing so now. This was a surprise shower. Apparently it was something that had been months in the planning and everyone knew about it all along including my husband. How they managed to keep it a secret from me for so many months, I do not know. But what I know for sure is that both Boston and I are very loved by many people in our lives.

The shower was held at Posterity Park right behind our house. It was themed after our favorite Japanese children's film by Hiyao Miyosaki called, "My Neighbor Totoro." This is the theme we had chosen for Baby Boston's nursery and I'm very excited about it (pictures of completed nursery to come.

AJ took me for a short walk and dropped me off at the shower (36 weeks pregnant).

The gift table decorated with a Totoro banner.
Card stock Totoro banner that will line the walls of his nursery.

Boston's name on card stock and canvas which we'll hang on his nursery door.

ABC blocks with card stock that Boston will play with when he gets older.
Liz, the person behind all of the decorations and shower games.
For this game, people held a paper plate up behind their heads and drew a picture of a baby on it. I chose the best drawing and the winner received a prize.
I'm so grateful for everyone involved in the planning of the shower, especially my husband, in-laws, and baby sister who knew about it all along and had to keep it a secret. I imagine it must have been difficult to not to slip while hanging out with me everyday. The baby shower was everything I could have hoped for and more. I had a wonderful time visiting with old friends, playing games, and getting ready for Baby Boston as people shared their experiences with me. I am also so thankful for all of the gifts we received for Boston.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Introducing Baby Boston

I can hardly believe that Boston is a whole month (5 weeks to be exact) old now! It seems just like yesterday that he came to us. Back when we were as brand new of parents as he was as brand new of a baby. He's such a darling baby, ours to love forever and ever. We can't help but give him beijos (kisses) and abraços (hugs) all the time, even when he's not a happy camper. We love to talk with him, play with him, sleep with him, go on walks and car rides with him, watch movies with him -- we just love spending time with him. We're learning so much about this little man and how to take care of him every single day. Here are some things we've learned:

His likes to:
  • stretch out his legs and pretend he's walking
  • pucker up his lips
  • give us the smile that warms our hearts
  • make sweet little coos
  • bob his head back and forth and side to side (he has a strong neck)
  • play with his Aunt Holly and Daddy
  • get kisses and strokes on his cheeks
  • cross his eyes right before he dozes off to sleep
  • snore and smile in his sleep
  • grunt and stretch - he's such a fidgety baby
  • fall asleep after drinking mum mum
  • use his binky on and off
  • lay quietly on his blanket and absorb life around him
Mommy loves to hold his little body against hers, give him kisses, rub her cheek against his thick black hair, and look down at his angel face and think "I'm such a lucky mommy."

Daddy loves to give him beijos, watch Japanese anime with him, make up rhyme songs for him, video "Quiet time with Boston," and dance with him.

His dislikes:
  • being cold
  • diaper changes
  • not being held
Nicknames:
  • Baby goat because of his goat-like cries
  • The hulk when he turns red from being upset
  • Little caterpillar because he climbs up our chest
  • Sweet boy because he cozies up to us like an angel
In the first month he...
  • has grown about 1.25 inches and gained 1.3 lbs (by 3rd week)
  • tried crawling
  • has had a hard time sleeping through the night
  • began learning to roll over
  • doubled his food intake
  • has a lot of hair
  • has long little toes and legs
 We both feel very blessed to be Baby Boston's parents. We can't wait for him to gain more personality as he grows, but we're also enjoying the time while he is still teeny tiny. We are thankful for the little moments that he shares with us, doing cute and silly things. We love him so much :)


Friday, October 4, 2013

Boston's Birth Story: Giving Birth with Paralysis

August was a busy month; baby preparation, my sister was in town, my baby shower, my other sister's birthday party, and my brother's mission farewell. The end of the frantic series would be September 19th, our baby's due date, although it would likely to be a little sooner as my doctor planned on induction to prevent me from going into labor without knowing. On September 4th, a week before I was to pick a day to be induced, my brother entered the Missionary Training Center to prepare for his two-year LDS mission in Cambodia. That evening, my husband drove me to our primary hospital to check on my fever of 101.9F, thinking we would be in and out in 2 hours tops. Little did we know, we were going to be there for the long haul as we found out I was in labor as I progressed from 2 cm to 3cm within the hour I was there. At 9pm, we checked in for the night. Throughout my pregnancy, we were unsure how this day would be for someone like me who has paralysis, but we stayed positive and hoped and prepared for a natural delivery, leaving the option of a C-Section as the last resort. At that moment the day had finally come and we were both overjoyed and nervous. I want to share a little bit of my experience in labor for someone with a spinal cord injury.

Labor was surprisingly smoother than expected and we were both calm. The pain I felt was mainly nerve pain, a normal occurrence from my spinal cord injury. However, these pains were more frequent and more excruciating. I think they were pain messages from my contractions sent in a form my body has learned to read as shocks and shooting pains. I felt pressure in my upper abdomen which faded into lower areas. Pressure in lower areas were only felt when I put my hand over them. There was slight uneasiness in my back, which was better than expected because my back is hypersensitive. It was an uncomfortable night, but I was so glad AJ was there to soothe me to sleep.

Stress arose when at 2am my body stopped progressing at 4 cm, and nurses told me to prepare for a C-Section. I dreaded two things about a C-Section: 1. The uncertainty of the effects of a big needle going into my damaged spinal cord and 2. A slow healing and possibly infected incision from multiple seat transfers throughout the day and being unaware of it. 3. The fear was amplified because my doctor, had never dealt with a patient with complete spinal cord injury before. I said a little prayer in my heart to avoid this option if possible (and I learned later that my husband did, too), and I was able to progress to 6 cm dilation within the hour. That brought on a short lived feeling of relief as I again stopped progressing for several hours, which is abnormal as most women progress relatively quickly to 10 cm from there. The situation was worsened as the baby's heart rate was dipping into lower levels during each contraction, without a determined cause. This time, the nurse came in with a strong conviction that a C-Section was the only option. At 6am, I began to worry for my baby and myself.

I'm unsure how many hours of labor I "endured" but by 7am, my doctor came in with a C-Section in the back of his mind, checked my level of progression, and announced I was ready to deliver. It was really happening. I wasn't sure how it all worked, but the process was as natural as possible. Pushes were easy as I curled into a ball, took a deep breath, felt the tightness of the contractions descending from my upper ab, and pushed. There was not much, if any pain (I guess that was a perk of being paralyzed from the waist down). No screams or shaking, just worry of whether or not I was pushing correctly. My husband provided reassurance as our boy's head came into view -- 45 minutes and a pair of forceps later, I felt the release of pressure from my body as a little being entered the world. At 7:47 am, weighing in at 7 lbs 1 oz, 20.5 in. long, little Boston was born, healthy and happy. I remember after they had cleaned him up and put him on my chest, just crying tears of joy. Finally, my sweet little baby was here in my arms. That was the greatest moment of my life. It's a bit poetic as 747 is the number of a fast commercial airliner, and his parents love to travel! Way to come, my son...


Lola, Baby, and Aunt Holly


Grandpapa and Baby
Our complete family :)
I'm so grateful for this wonderful day and will remember it for the rest of my life. Thanks to our loving family and friends. We are so fortunate to have you all. We made it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thoughts of an Expectant Mommy in a Wheelchair

For Boston


As time draws nearer to the arrival of our son, Boston, I’ve had many thoughts of motherhood in a wheelchair and am overwhelmed with tons of emotions including those of joy, excitement, fear, and uncertainty. I feel this is a normal feeling among expectant mothers preparing to enter this new chapter in life. I'm not sure what difficulties lie ahead, but I am most anxious about whether or not I will be able to be a "normal" mother despite being in a wheelchair, and can I provide my baby with what he needs?

I remember regaining consciousness in the ICU and asking one of the PA’s a few questions, one being whether or not I would be able to bear children. His response was a simple and shocking, “No.” That was one of the saddest news for me to process all by myself as I lay there speechless and tried to fight back the tears to no avail. It was only later in my recovery that my nurses learned what happened and encouraged me to try when the time came. Their confidence in me gave me hope. 

Fast forward four years later, here I am, 38 weeks pregnant and loving (hating) it! Now that I am so close to bearing my child, the worrisome thoughts have become more real and sometimes disheartening for me. I think of the things I would need my legs to comfortably do such as:
  • helping him take his first baby steps
  • sweeping him off of the floor when he wants to be held 
  • bathing him in an already slippery bath tub
  • teaching him how to ride a bike, swim, or snowboard 
Honestly, it's extra scary to think about, considering my limitations like little core strength and a tendency to fall. It’s been quite a challenge to figure how to care for him in a chair because of the lack of adapted equipment out there like an accessible crib that would keep a baby in safely and allow me to pull him out when I need to. I am still uncertain I’ve got a plan down for the many different situations. There are many things I can't see ahead, but I'm grateful for my team of cheerleaders who have helped me out so much already!

36 weeks and counting...
I feel great joy in knowing that I have been entrusted with the responsibility to care for a little being; that this broken body of mine could bear such a miracle from beginning to end and hopefully produce a healthy and happy baby. Like many mothers, I’m excited to see what he looks like, learn and nurture his unique spirit, find out what sparks his interests, teach him everything I know about helping the world, and love him with all my heart. Most of all, who will he be and how can we as parents help him get there.

I think forward to my child’s life experiences and am hopeful that being raised by a mother with disabilities will provide him with an opportunity to learn more things that I didn't understand as I was growing up. I would teach him to be kind to those who need a friend. I would instill in him faith in God, love of service, a positive attitude in facing trials, understanding and compassion for those who are different from him, strong moral character to do what is right, a keen sense of duty to fight for the weak, respect for others--all of which I hope will ultimately mold him into a great man someday.

In contemplating all of this and everything I have learned so far, I know I need to take it one day at a time and learn as much as I can. It's scary and exciting as well. I know to not take for granted the fleeting moments and keep moving forward at the same time. 

I know I need to be kind to myself. No mother is perfect and no one knows all the right things for their child. It's a lifetime of practice. And literally, it takes a village. So ask for help.

Everyone has their own challenges. It won't be a piece of cake to be a mommy in a wheelchair, but I know it's possible. We will figure it out as we go along. I just need to focus on what I CAN do. God will help me overcome any obstacle as He has done throughout this whole journey. I CAN do this and I am EXCITED to meet my little son!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Community Team Work

I love that Goldman promotes volunteerism among its employees so they can make a difference in the community. Groups of employees chose days to be involved with "Community Team Work." Today, instead of going into the office, I went to Globus Relief to help sort and package medical supplies to be sent to places that needed them both within and out of the United States. For example, they have sent supplies to Hurricane Sandy as well as Oklahoma and Haiti. They have been making a difference for decades and have now reached over 100 different countries. Read more about them here.

Starting off the day was a little challenging as there were only stairs in front of the entrance, so I recruited 2 young men to help carry me up into the building. Then, when I needed to use the restroom, the receptionist led me to one that was not wheelchair accessible and told me there were no other options. Luckily, I had my carpool friends, Angela and Shayla helped fireman carry me into the stall. Imagine fitting three grown ladies in a teeny restroom stall. That was tricky and hilarious. But I dreaded the thought of going through the ordeal every two hours (due to my pregnancy). Luckily, we came across a wheelchair accessible restroom near the work room. What a relief!

Service with a smile!

I wouldn't say we had the most thrilling time of our lives but we knew we were doing something good that will go to help many others. The work we did was repetitive; sorting unexpired supplies from expired ones, boxing and packing, and labeling. But we had a great time talking and hanging out with each other in the process. Overall, it was a rewarding experience to be involved in the community in another way, as well as learn another part of what the Goldman culture entails. I hope to volunteer more often and that you will, too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Drunken Noodles at J-Wong's Bistro

For lunch, my friend, Mia and I went out for a stroll to J-Wong's Bistro, an Asian fusion restaurant that brings in flavors from China, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. It was just a 10-minute walk from our building (which may play a role in this place being all the rage among Goldman folks) and was well worth the walk. To cleanse our palates, we had a delicious hot and sour soup with mushrooms and carrots. For the main dish, I had Drunken Noodles and it was superb! This dish is flat rice noodles with onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, baby corn, broccoli, and beef. It had a nice balance of sour and savory flavors. I loved the crispiness from fresh vegetables. They were the best drunken noodles I've ever had! I think little Boston was happy too because he was making all sorts of ruckus during lunch :)

Not only was the dish commendable, but so were the chill ambiance and friendly and quick service. Plus, the price and portions are decent. We had a really nice time and would definitely recommend a visit here. Check out this website for their menu and prices.