Six months into my pregnancy, I flew home to Texas to visit family and friends. We first flew to Austin for a friend’s wedding and then drove back to my hometown of Sugar Land to see my family. I’m so glad I did because I got to see people that I love, and they got to see my big belly.
My Kay and I
Maybe we went to 6th street. Okay, yeah we did!
The beautiful Driskill Hotel
A bit of only us for a little longer!
When I was home, my parents and sister threw me a mini baby shower with my aunts and cousins. That was a nice surprise to have a brunch shower. Lots of food including a crepe cake, fruit tart, french toast, croissant casserole, Torchy’s queso, and bacon deviled eggs.
We also played a fun little game, similar to pin the tail on the donkey, but a much more adult version. It’s funny playing a game like this with your cousins, aunts, and dad!
Pin the sperm on the egg!
Ming-Gih and little MG
These photos totally remind me to count my blessings. I’m fortunate to have the people around me to love and support me through my entire pregnancy.
^^^ My sister and mom ^^^
I love my mama
No love like the one between a mother and daughter!
Did anyone else fly during the end of their second trimester? What did you do? What about third trimester? How was that experience?
I am so lucky to have caring and loving friends and family all around me. During my pregnancy, I had, not one, but THREE baby showers; one in the Bay Area, one back in my hometown, and another at work. I can hardly believe it myself.
I was showered with love and support time and time again, and my mini is extremely lucky to have people with such big hearts all around her.
Incase you couldn’t tell from my blog, I’m a planner. I love lists. I love invites. I love precision. BUT I don’t love surprises and bothering people with assignments. I’m learning that doing everything yourself also comes with pressure and over-responsibility.
I had embarked on executing my own baby shower. I had set the date, the invite list, and booked a spot in a park, but then my sweetest and best girlfriends (plus my sister) decided to take over from there. I let them because whoa, being pregnant is tiring! You’re constantly wanting to sleep. And I’m so glad I gave it up, because they planned the sweetest and most beautiful shower a girl could ask for.
The weather wasn’t the best; it had been raining all week prior, but thankfully the rain let up just for the few hours we were outdoors. It was a chilly day but a very memorable one.
On Our Way
Lemonade, Tea, & Cucumber Water
Take Home Gifts
Did you know, you can hire people to grill for you at events? That’s what we did! We decided to do this because it would give the hosts a chance to hang out with people and chat. Have you ever thrown a party where you felt like there was no chance to just relax and enjoy? Hiring someone to grill was exactly the answer to that!
The grill master
Candied Bacon and a Bacon bundt cake
All the gifts!
Isn’t that crazy? Look at all those gifts! I think that amount beat my own wedding! Oh yeah, and we also celebrated Ming-Gih’s birthday! He wasn’t forgotten, I promise!
Mg’s birthday present
Thank you so much to Holly, Jessica, and Katie for this amazing day. I could relive that day and over and over again! One day, I’ll show my mini these pictures so she can see how much she was loved before even entering into this world.
Revealing the gender of your baby is such a HUGE ordeal now, and I don’t blame anyone. It is a big moment during a pregnancy.
MG and I didn’t want to be surprised, but we wanted to surprise others. I’m actually not good with surprises anyway, but I enjoy it so much to give other people that satisfaction. We found out the gender around 13 weeks (typically it’s confirmed around 20 weeks), and from there, we were already starting to plan on how we would tell our parents.
After doing some research on where I could purchase items, I decided to make my own because it’s wayyy cheaper, and you can pick out your own fun designs. We picked out some fun wrapper covers (gender neutral of course), and the inside was filled with the gender color (blue for boy or pink for girl).
Since my parents live in Texas, we mailed the poppers to them. My soon-to-be brother in law helped us ensure there was no peeking, and also initiated Facetime so that MG and I could watch. It was epic (see last post for the video).
This is one of those milestone moments during your pregnancy – the gender reveal. It’s really the talk of the town! Do you want to know or wait for a surprise? Will you tell others? Do you want to be surprised by friends? So much around this now!
Gender is confirmed between 18-20 weeks if parents choose to know. I didn’t know this prior to being pregnant, because my first response when I found out people were expecting is, “do you know the gender?” You’re welcome, for that fact!
Can you guess the gender based on this picture? Look at that little booty!
I wanted the reveal to be for my family, not necessarily for us. We were ecstatic on becoming parents so a party to reveal wasn’t needed. However, this is the first grandchild for both sets of families so I wanted to surprise them. Additionally, my parents live in Texas so I wanted it to be a fun reveal. Hence, I made poppers! I’ll have a DIY tutorial in a future post, coming soon.
Surprisingly our ultrasound technician told us the gender around 13 weeks. Though it wasn’t confirmed, because it was so early, she was pretty sure. I’ll be honest here; I was expecting a boy. My pregnancy symptoms were telling me it was a boy (even though it’s not scientifically proven). MG even had a dream that we had a little boy. And in my head, boys take care of their siblings, which was a very idealistic view.
However, the more I sat on the idea of a girl, the more excited I became. She would be my mini, and we’d dress the same (oh yes, definitely be expecting those mommy and me shots because they will be coming your way!). We get to take a picture of 4 generations of women since my Grandma is still lively and amazing. She’ll be my caretaker (because in reality, do boys even take care of their siblings?). Plus, if I only had girls, I’d actually be okay with that. If I only had boys, I’d always want a girl.
And now that I have her to snuggle with, I wouldn’t change her for the world!
Here’s a video of my parents as they open their poppers. Thank you to Baldwin for Facetime-ing us in and organizing the reveal.
I took some time off cause, if you read my last post, I was expecting a little human. Now 9 months later, I’m back to blogging. And yes, I gave birth to a sweet little girl named Nora Rae. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m rewinding back to when I was pregnant (wow, how did time go by so quickly?!?). We’ll get to the baby in future posts but if you wanted to jump ahead to see pictures (I wouldn’t blame you), check out my Instagram and follow me.
I was looking for someone to help shoot a maternity session, but we were on a tight budget. Prepping for a baby is $$$! Instead, Ming-Gih and I decided to do shoot a session ourselves. We purchased some lighting and a clicker, and we were set. These pictures aren’t professional, but at least it does capture my big ‘ol belly!
Okay, I’m one of “those.” I admit it; I enjoyed being pregnant. The worst symptoms I had were sore boobies and indigestion. Otherwise, everything was smooth and great, never had an episode of morning sickness, just mild nausea, and I would burp it out. The perks were great too – I got seats on public transportation, people opened doors for me and gave me space in crowds. Maternity clothes are also so comfy and very stylish nowadays. Plus, you never have to suck in your stomach after a large meal (wink). After you have a baby, forget it. So expecting mamas, enjoy it while it lasts!
Would you ever do a maternity session? And if you’ve done one, do you have any tips?
Missing those big belly days,
And just so you know, this blog is going to have a lot of life event posts and baby pictures so it’s headed in the direction of a mama blog. It’s going to be my place to put my family here as a keepsake. You’re welcomed to follow along!
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where I reflect upon this past year and count my blessings. This year has had it’s ups and downs, but I’m thankful for each moment that taught me to be stronger than I was a year before.
I’m thankful for:
My family that provides constant love and support, even from all the way back in Texas
I’m thankful for my friends that stand by me and the family-like love we give each other
My job and everyone there, because I actually enjoy it and the people make the craziness just a bit more manageable
My faith because that’s what gets me through each day
The family that Ming-Gih and I are building together, with Chubs and Ella, and now the newest edition, Baby Lam
Funny story is that we had just gotten a puppy the week before (oops!). I was already late that month but typically that’s normal since a lot of environmental factors can impact my schedule, like stress. But MG knew that something must be up so he kept asking me to take a pregnancy test. I was so annoyed that he kept asking that I finally did to quiet him. I went to go brush my teeth to wait for the results, and walked back into the restroom. Upon looking, I screamed, “OH MY GOD!” and MG replied, “What? What is it!” And I said, “Oh nothing. It’s negative,” as I’m beginning to stream tears down my face. Finally he got my response and said, “Aw baby, congratulations!” He knows me. I’d always dreamed of surprising him with an announcement gift, which is what I wanted to do, but this one cannot lie.
We’re beyond excited! I’ve had 3 ultrasounds now and hearing the little heartbeat makes the body changes totally worth it. At our last ultrasound, we watched our little one swallow, kick, and stretch. That all brought me to tears and made it a reality. We’re going to be parents!
Our parents are ecstatic. We actually filmed our announcements to them so you’ll have to come back to watch their reactions. I’m now 15 weeks in and am starting to show a bumpy.
We got a puppy! Meet little Miss Ella (short for Eleanor Harriet because human names for pets are the best).
I had to deploy my best advertising/marketing skills in order to get one, hence why I’m in the ad world! She’s a little Havanese pure breed, born on July 13. I’m in love!
I’ve been asking begging for a dog as long as I can remember. I grew up with all kinds of pets – dogs, cats, birds, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits. You name it, my sister and I probably had it. On the opposite end, MG never had any animals growing up. In his mind, they are dependent and dirty (which isn’t all wrong technically). MG finally gave in to my request for our cat, Chubs, a few years ago. But in my heart, I knew, and he knew, that I would always still want a dog. That companionship cannot be compared to others!
One random day, I decided to go on Craigslist to check out available dogs. Lo and Behold! Pure bred puppies for sale! I never heard of the Havanese breed before so I did some researching and found out that 1) it’s a mild tempered dog, 2) perfect for apartments/townhouses since they don’t need much exercise, 3) medium sized and grow to be around 15 pounds, and 4) most importantly, hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed. This was the PERFECT storm. Now I know that Craigslist isn’t always the best place to purchase a dog, so I was weary of this fantastic opportunity. I brought a girl friend with me to go see the dog incase there were any red lights on the owners. I didn’t want to purchase from a puppy mill, and I needed to make sure that this owner raised her pets in a good environment. So before we went, we put together a checklist with a potential no in mind. But to my surprise, the owners owned both mom and dad, had all the papers required to show for the breed, and printed contracts to even provide financial security incase the adopted little one had health issues. And that was the night, we took our little baby home.
She’s been a handful. Puppies are definitely life changing, and it’s not overly stated at all. We have to get up every 2-3 hours to take her out to potty, we’ve been training her to learn commands, and LOTS of carpet mishaps, which we knew would be part of training. More importantly, a watchful eye as she plays outside of her pen so that she doesn’t make mistakes. It’s even more difficult right now since she’s not allowed outside yet without her third round of shots. Dreaming of the day that she’s allowed outside and potty trained. Almost there.
MG and I recently went on a trip to Oahu Hawaii. It was our first trip together as a couple since our honeymoon (almost 3 years ago!) so a trip to ourselves was overdue.
I was lucky enough to have my parents take me when I was in high school but it had been a while. MG has always lived in the Bay Area and had never been to Hawaii. First let me start out by saying that he’s not a “beach” guy. I KNOW… How is that so?!? His dream vacation has to do with snow and skiing in the Swiss Alps, and I’m definitely a sand and ocean type of girl. My explanation is that he’s only grown up around beaches in the Bay Area, and it’s always so cold here that you can’t get into the water. I accepted this challenge to make him love beaches, especially after a trip to Hawaii, where ocean waters are warm and sand is soft.
I’m happy to say that he’s slowly converting. There’s a small part in his heart to love beaches now. One day, I’ll let him have his snow vacay. One day…
We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, right across from the beach. It’s so convenient to get around because you’re in the heart of downtown Waikiki. Additionally, the hotel is extremely accommodating to their guests. They have lunch box where you can pack breakfast to go for the beach, and they also rent out beach towels, chairs, and mats. I highly recommend staying here!
Look at our amazing view
Instead of walking through day by day, I’m going to simply list out our favorite sight seeing places and favorite places to eat. Hopefully this list will come in handy if you ever plan a trip to Oahu!
Favorite Things To Do:
5. Beach Hopping
All day, every day. Just go from beach to beach and explore the various beaches. The water and sea life is different. Also the sand varies from place to place. If you’re not the strongest swimming, I would suggest Waikiki because there walls to break the waves. For those that are stronger swimmers, definitely go to North Beach because it’s less packed with people and currents are strong.
4. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau
We obviously had to check out some dinner/show since it was MG’s first time. We came across one that was recommended by friends at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s kinda like a theme park, where you can visit villages that make up Hawaii. In the evening, there’s a buffet and then a show. We got lucky and booked tickets on the night of the World Champion Fire Knife Competition, which happens only once a year. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
3. Pearl Harbor Museum, along with Bowfin, Missouri, and Aviation Museum
Wow. There’s a solemn feel to this place, but in a good way. The exhibits were informative, and there are many first hand videos on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. You learn to appreciate America’s involvement in the war, and truly respect those that were courageous enough to fight for our country.
The Arizona is a sight to see. This specific exhibit is free, but you can’t also pay a fee to go to the other museums – Bowfin submarine, USS Missouri, and the aviation museum. I must say, all exhibits were well worth the money! We spent most of our day here.
Go pick up snorkeling gear before you come here or else you have to rent it for $20. And YES, you definitely need gear. Because there is an abundance of sea life in these waters. Hanauma Bay is a state park with small entrance fee, but it’s totally worth it because you’ll see many little marine creatures, all kinds, sizes, and colors! Stick your face into the water, and I guarantee that you’ll immediately see marine life.
This was our absolute favorite part of the trip. Turtles like to rest on this beach, and there’s always a volunteer that ropes off the area where turtles lay on the sand. It’s a law that you cannot touch the turtles, hence why there’s someone to keep watch.
But there’s an opportunity to get closer. Grab your snorkel gear and get into the water. We were so lucky that during our time here, we saw at least 8 turtles just swimming near us. They weren’t afraid of anyone swimming and some swam less than a foot away. It’s almost scary to be so close because these creatures are huge (some older turtles can grow to be 6ft in length). Most of the time you’ll be swimming, assuming there’s a boulder, but you realize it’s getting closer and closer. Yup, just a sea turtle! It’s an experience of a lifetime.
Oh how I really wish I had a Go-Pro…
Now for you foodies! Here’s a list of our must-eats (in no particular order)!
Rainbow Drive-In – It’s a triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) hot spot. Think greasy comfort Hawaiian food. Loco moco heaven!
Hi Steak– Don’t laugh, but this place is located in a cafeteria and the steak is amazing… Get the garlic butter!
Ramen Nakamura – two words, oxtail ramen. It’s a small shop with very few tables but worth the wait. This place seems quite authentic in taste and environment. I’m not Japanese but there’s a lot of them in here enjoying the food, so you can’t go wrong with that!
Musubi Cafe Iyasume– Get yummy snacks here. Lots of different kinds of musubi (bacon, avocado, eggs, and combinations galore!). It’s fun to look at all the different spam gadgets here.
Ono Seafood– OMG poke! The fish is so tender and soft; no stringy pieces in the meat. It’s more of a take-out restaurant, with a few patio seats outside.
Sushi Izakaya Gaku– The seafood is extremely fresh and so sweet. Sit at the sushi bar and ask the chef what’s fresh for the day. He’ll give recommendations. Definitely get the Negihama (yellowtail) tartar! But look at that amazing sashimi!
Marukame Udon– This was our all time favorite meal. I had my doubts because udon is just noodles. But WOW! These are hand pulled udon noodles with a bar of all you can choose sides. Go down the aisle and add in your ingredients, like a tempura soft serve egg. Whaa?!? Yup.
Just some other things worth mentioning:
Pali Lookout – It’s a windward cliff off the mountain with a scenic view, known for it’s strong winds.
Dole Plantation because dole whips and pineapple gummy bears.
^^^ Look at the cute little pineapple!
I wish I could go back to sunny skies, clean beaches and clear waters, large sea turtles, and delicious local foods. I just love the feeling of laying out on the sand without a care in the world. MG is already asking if we can go back! Does this mean Hawaii has won his heart over?
Have you ever been to Oahu? What are some of your musts?
I’ve been taking a little break from blogging. Between work and personal life, I haven’t had much time to update. But I’m back!
Lately I’ve been really counting my blessings. I’m so grateful for the things I have in life – my family, my job, and instances where I can take an overseas vacation. My mom came up with the idea of going to Dubai, and I couldn’t say no. We packed our bags, and went to Dubai for 5 full days, with 2 days of traveling.
To simply describe Dubai – extravagance (at least in the modern areas of Dubai). Everything is grand, large, and beautiful. This city is continually being built as construction was everywhere. In 5 years, this city will be a different kind of beast.
If you’re thinking about going – definitely check it out. You don’t need more than a week in Dubai for tourist attractions. To be totally honest, I don’t necessarily think that Dubai should be a trip on it’s own, but it would be a fun pitstop if you’re on your way to Europe or Asia.
Here are some of the things we did on our trip. Feel free to use this list for your own vacation!
Shopping! The Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall are some of the world’s largest shopping malls
Ski Dubai (this was my favorite activity)
Burj Khalifa – Tallest building in the world
Visited the public beach near the Burj al Arab
Walked the Souks (this is the marketplace) for gold, spices, and tourist goods
Private boat tour
Cruised in the sand dunes
Visited the Jumeirah Mosque
Went to the Palm Islands to walk around the Atlantis hotel
Hired a private driver to take us to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Incase I didn’t sell it enough, here are pictures to prove that this trip was amazing!
First off, this was the view from our apartment on the 43rd floor. Every morning we would wake up to the Burj Khalifa. Isn’t that awesome? We stayed in Downtown Dubai, right across from the Dubai mall. Is it recommended to stay here? Absolutely. It’s the center of town.
Inside the Dubai mall, you’ll find an ice rink, an indoor theme park (it’s an arcade and there are also rides!), and an aquarium. Right outside, there is a fountain show that occurs daily, every 30 minutes in the evening.
In the Mall of Emirates, you’ll find Ski Dubai! I’m not a snow activity type of person; I don’t know how to ski/snowboard. But I know basics for skiing, and Ski Dubai was perfect for me! It’s basically 1 slope which bends in the middle, and it has 2 levels of steepness. For about $50 USD, you can ski/board for 2 hours and the cost includes equipment and gear. We knew about this indoor ski arena but never thought to go, until we found out the cost. We can’t even ski in Tahoe for that amount! The snow is beautiful and perfectly groomed. It’s cold but consistent. And really fun to look up to see ceiling and lights. What a great experience!
My second favorite activity was the Burj Khalifa. The elevators will take you up to the 124 floor in 90 seconds. MG, my dad, and I all decided to go to the very top (because when are we ever going to do this again?); the very top is 148 and employees provide refreshments and snacks. We went in the evening, saw the day-view, saw the sunset, and then was able to capture the night-view as well.
MG and I also took an afternoon to enjoy the beach. The waters are crystal clear, and the sand is made with a million seashells scattered across the sand. One word, gorgeous.
One of the mornings, we visited the local mosque to experience the culture. We also walked the marketplace to do some local shopping too. Spices, fabrics, and gold oh my! Lots and lots of gold…
After walking around all day, we were tired and found a private boat to take us around for an hour so we could relax. For about $6 a person, this was totally worth it. However, you can easily get across the water on water taxis for $0.36 a person!
Some of the desert things that we did – camel riding. This was a lot of fun! I can now say I’ve been on an elephant in Bali, and now a camel in Dubai! We also rode a Land Cruiser and went off-roading in the desert. What’s amazing is the background. The view is miles and miles of desert. My parents really enjoyed this part of the trip.
On the very last full day of our trip, we were able to hire a private driver to take us to Abu Dhabi for a day trip (only $45 per person). It’s about a 1.5 hour long drive between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The most awe-inspiring part of the trip was the Mosque. It’s so grand and every detail is beautiful.
^^^ And yes, we had to wear hijabs into the Mosque and dress appropriately to enter (women had to cover up their shoulders and dress to cover up to their ankles/men must wear shorts below the knee).
^^^ This is the world’s second largest chandelier, made with Swarovski crystals.
^^^ See how there’s a man’s forehead next to my mom? The security was coming over to let us know to stand further apart. Displays of affection are frowned upon in a religious environment. Whoops!
And then the city line near the water in Abu Dhabi is breathtaking! I love water, and can’t ever get my toes quick enough into the sand.
Just some funny tidbits:
You know how in the US, you take a road trip and you see cows alongside the road? Here you see camels! Haha! Can you spot them?
This was also my first time smoking with my dad. Everyone does shisha there!
If you have to ask me about a downside of Dubai, I would say the food. There is no local food there. Dubai is a city of mixed nationalities. They flourish on having a bit of culture from everywhere. In that aspect, we were only able to eat Indian, Lebanese, and Syrian food. All very delicious, but I was hoping for something more “local.”
But my all time favorite thing about this trip – experiencing the difference in culture. Most of the city is of Muslim culture; prayer calls happen 5 times a day, and you can hear the reminder to pray throughout the city. Women are conservative, while men are more prominent. Men can have up to 4 wives, and for every wife you receive an apartment and 50,000 Dirhams. With government supporting their locals, we didn’t come across any crime or homelessness. It was a major culture shock! These kinds of things always prove to me that other countries in fact do live differently, and it’s always nice to be placed into a new environment and learn.
How is December flying by so quickly? It’s already mid-December. I can’t believe Christmas is next week! Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet?
I’ve been a bit MIA on the blog recently, due to lack of time because I’m working now and because the holiday season is always packed with adventures (what I actually mean is feasts). Activities lined up every single weekend until my parents come to town (yay, this weekend!). I’m especially excited about this year because we’re renting a cabin in Tahoe in between Christmas and New Years for my family and my in-laws. Don’t know if we’ll be skiing yet but there’ a high possibility!
Since my last post, I’ve had 3 holiday parties. One that consists of all you can eat Brazilian BBQ. And two other parties where I was one of the main head chefs (think pounds and pounds of prime rib). Here are some fun recaps from pics on my iPhone.
Here at Espetus in sequins and fur – my favorite combo!
And now for the church Christmas parties – here are the goods. The Costco employees even commented on how much food we had in our carts!
And look at these awesome veggie trees – you simply buy a styrofoam cone, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from crumbling, and skewer veggies onto the cone with toothpicks. I carved stars from pineapple as toppers (remember to soak your pineapple in salt water so it doesn’t brown).
Crab cakes galore! I definitely made over 100 crab cakes.
And here’s my little sweetheart guarding the presents. “You shall not open the presentz!”
I’m also taking my parents to The Christmas Story musical on Christmas Eve. Each year, Neighborhood church in Castro Valley hosts a broadway-like musical for only $5 per ticket. It’s such a great form of entertainment and good price too! Tickets are going fast so order ahead, and constantly check their site to see if there are new musicals on the horizon – totally worth the cost.
What are you most excited for during this Christmas season?