2 Months

Dear sweet Norah,

It has been just over 8 weeks since your arrival and yet I am still struggling to find the proper words to describe how wonderful it feels to have you in my arms.

We just made it through a pretty rough week. You came down with viral infection and have shared it with me, so we’re both sniffling and coughing our way into your 3rd month of life. This was your first ever illness and let’s be honest here – I did not handle it very well. I am certain that over the last 7 days, I’ve shed more tears than you (even though you’re the sicker one, and had to get a bunch of needles poked into you at Children’s Emergency) and have experienced anxiety like never before. Seeing you suffer has brought me to my lowest point and yet, you, the 8 week old, stayed strong and content the entire time. Looks like I have some learning to do from you, my dear.


The question that I get asked the most these days is “how is motherhood?” How can I explain the most incredible, yet most challenging thing that I have ever experienced in a few simple words? Perhaps the right answer will come with time but the truth is, right now, motherhood feels different every day.  Somedays, I feel like I have it (you) under control, and others, I crumble to the sound of your cries. The one thing I learned quickly about myself through the last 8 weeks is that I am terrible at dealing with failure, or even a slight glimpse of it. I guess what I had before your arrival were unrealistic expectations of how things were going to go, how I could protect you from everything, and how the instincts and skills of a mother would just come naturally to me. Oh boy, was I wrong.

Don’t worry though, sweet girl. I am learning and you’re a great teacher. I’m realizing that motherhood is a bit of a mess, but it is a beautiful one. It is filled with ups, downs, and yes, plenty of failures. I am learning to embrace its unpredictability and basically, chill the F— out. Through this little illness of ours, I’m coming to terms with the fact that even though I will try my hardest, I cannot and will not be able to fend off all of the hurt and pain that you will experience in your lifetime. There will be heartbreaks, disappointments, and stupid viruses that I cannot prevent. In fact, I sometimes may even be the cause of these pains despite my best intentions (I predict this will happen the most during your teenage years). But Norah, my girl, my hope is that I will be able to show you how to live courageously though it all, and still see all of the goodness in these complex yet beautiful lives we lead.

Norah, your arrival into this world made me a mother, and us a family. In case I forget to say this to you when you are older – thank you, a million times over.

Let’s hope for a sick-free 3rd month and a messy, but wonderful 2017.

Love you,


37 Weeks

Dear little one,

We are officially at full-term! We are now just a little over 2 weeks away from your due date and we cannot wait for you to arrive.

You dad and I are so excited to meet you,but also a little nervous. How will we tackle the new challenges of parenthood amidst our already busy lives? Will we know what’s best for you? Will the 3 of us be okay? Deep down inside, I already know the answer to these questions, it’s a resounding ‘yes’, but I still can’t help but feel slightly anxious. After all, this is going to be a new chapter for all of us.

There is so much unknown in our future, but the one thing we are certain of is the love that we will have for you and for each other, and I think that’s going to more than enough to get us through whatever lies ahead. We may be first-time parents, but we’ve had great role models to learn from. Your grandparents have taught the both of us that attention and care are far more important than toys, and our unconditional support will be what picks you back up after every fall.


The other day, a colleague of mine asked what I was most excited about as I wrapped up my final day of work before maternity leave. I thought about it for a second and said to her that I am of course, most excited to meet our baby, but what I was equally excited by was the fact that I’ll get to see my husband become a dad. I really can’t wait, little one. It’s going to be so special watching you and your dad interact and bond with each other. It will be incredible and I’m the lucky mama who will get to witness it all.

A few more days and you’ll be snuggled up in our arms.

See you soon,




19 Weeks

Dear little one,

We’re almost half way there! Anther 20 or so weeks, and we’ll finally get to meet you. Words cannot describe how excited we are to welcome you into the family. Earlier this week, you dad placed his hand on my growing belly and you kicked right into his palm. Nice aim.

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Speaking of your dad, he is currently away on a 4-day trip and I kind of really miss him. I cannot wait for you to meet him, little one. Nothing in this world is for certain, but you can be sure that you’ve landed yourself the best dad anyone could ever ask for. I know this because right now, he is the most incredible husband and he always has been. We are both so lucky.

He is already so in love with you, calling out to you everyday and rubbing my belly to see if you’ll kick. I cannot wait to watch him teach you about life, tell you stories, and go on adventures with you. He will teach you to speak Mandarin, he will show you how to ride a bike and he will make you the most delicious food (once you’re done with milk). He is patient, supportive, and he has already mastered the ‘Dad Jokes’ part of his job. He is protective and kind, and he will always put you first above anything and everything else. He will show you what courage, respect and love looks like. He is such a great man, there is no one else in this world I could imagine having a child with. He is the best thing that has ever happened to the both of us, and I know you’ll agree with me once you meet him in person.

Another 4.5 months to go, baby! We can do this.

Love you,


14 Weeks

Dear little one,

This week, your dad and I got the chance to listen to your heartbeat and it was one of the moments I’m sure I’ll remember forever for the rest of my life. Your heartbeat was so strong, beating fast and steady. I snuck a look over at your dad while the sound of your heartbeat filled the midwife’s office, he looked so happy and proud, it filled my heart with love.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I would be remiss if I didn’t take this time to introduce you to two of the greatest woman I know, who will soon become your grandmothers in six short months.


This is your grandma Deng Hua (邓华) and she is head to toe covered in grace and beauty. She is strong and is never afraid to ask for what she wants, and I admire that so much. My wish for you is that you will grow up to have her confidence, her strength and to always know that you are enough. I hope that you’ll exhibit her curious nature and her positive outlook, because it will be these things that will pull you through the rough patches of life. She will be the one who will tell you to ‘go for it’, and she will be there to pick you up whenever you fall. From her, you will learn what determination and grit looks like. You will come to understand why your father is the amazing man that he is, as he was raised by a phenomenal women who gave him her everything.


This your grandma Jenny. She is my best friend and has a heart bigger than all of us combined. Her kindness is infectious and all of my life, I have never met anyone with more friends than her. I hope that her compassion for the world, her love for people and her humility will be passed on to you. I pray that I will be as good of a mother as she was to me, and that I will be able to teach you all of the things that she instilled in me during my childhood. From her, you will learn what quiet strength looks like. You will learn that forgiveness is sometimes the strongest thing you can do, and that a life filled with love is more important than any fancy car, home or jewels.  She will be the first person to celebrate your successes, and unfortunately, probably also the first person to cave when you want something you’re not supposed to have, so try not to take advantage of that too often, deal?

There you have it, little one. These incredible women will become your grandmothers. You are so lucky, it’s not common to come from a line of not just one, but two amazing females. They will be your teachers, your protectors and your biggest fans. I hope that you will get to spend a lot of time with both of them as you grow up and that your heart will beat to the same rhythm as theirs.



11 Weeks

Dear little one,

Here we are, at 11 weeks, and I am finally allowing myself to write you the 1st letter.

You dad and I are so excited to have you join/change/grow/strengthen our little family. As I wrote that last sentence, Canon in D came on over the stereo. It’s the same song that played as I walked towards your dad on the day of our wedding, so I take it as a good sign for amazing things to come 🙂

The last few weeks have been a little challenging. The morning all-day nausea has taken a toll on my body (and sometimes, my mind too). I’m not eating as healthily as I would like. In fact, I am barely eating much at all and the guilt of this is weighing on my mind. I want to give you my very best but my body is resisting.

I pray that you are healthy, that you are growing, and that you have everything you need in this belly of mine. I pray that you will develop a full and generous heart. One big enough to fall in love with the world, curious enough to never stop learning, and courageous enough to always fight for what you believe in.

With the first trimester thankfully winding down, we have started to share the news of your existence with our family and friends (your future grandparents, aunts and uncles). Oh little one, I may not be certain of the future, but the one thing I know for sure if that you will be so very loved. You will be loved by us, by your grandparents, and by our friends who are like family to us. You will be surrounded by good people. They will meet you and give you a piece of their heart to hold on to. You will never be lacking in love, this I promise you. My hope is that when you grow up, when you can no longer stand on your dad and my shoulders as we grow weaker, you will find your people. People who will love you for exactly who you are, and help you reach for the stars just like our friends do for us today.

Little one, happy 11 weeks. You’ve already come so far. Our love for you grows every single day.

Take your time in there, and grow.

p.s. be nice to your dad when you come out, please. It’s hard work taking care of a pregnant wife who needs to eat every 2 hours and then throws up every 4 hours. He is very excited but he is also kind of tired.

Smitten Mom’s Apple Cake

At the end of last October, one of my all-time favourite food bloggers – Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen, released her first ever cookbook.

For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I am an avid reader have a slight intense obsession with the Smitten Kitchen blog. Deb’s writing has inspired me to roll up my sleeves and cook from scratch again and again. Plus her recipes have never failed me. Whenever I need a new, reliable thanksgiving entree or a delicious, foolproof birthday cake, I turn to Smitten Kitchen.

As soon as I picked up Deb’s cookbook from my local bookstore (literally hours after it was released in Canada), I read the entire thing cover to cover in one sitting. This humble apple cake was the 1st dessert that I tried out of her cookbook and just like all of Deb’s recipes – it turned out beautifully.

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Deb said in her book that this apple cake by her mom is a showstopper. She promised that if I bake this cake once, I will bake it again. Sure enough, she was right. Even though her cookbook features 8 more cake recipes that all sound much more ‘higher-end’ with names such as Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with grape coulis and red wine velvet cake, I find myself not able to go past this apple cake. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

a dollop of soft butter or oil spray
6 MacIntosh Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 TBsp ground cinnamon
2 cups + 5 TBsp granulated sugar
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBsp baking powder
1 Tsp table salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice, not from concentrate
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, free range & organic
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease bundt pan, or two 9-inch round cake pans with the dollop of butter or oil spray
  2. Toss the apple chucks with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside
  3. Stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla
  5. Pour the wed ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and begin adding the eggs one at a time. Scraping down the bowl occasionally to make sure that everything is incorporated.
  6. Pour half of the cake mixture into the greased bundt pan. If using the round pans, divide half of the cake mixture in half again and pour into the 2 pans. Each round pan should have 1/4 of the batter.
  7. Top batter with half of the apples.
  8. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top
  9. Bake cake for 1.25-1.5 hours. If you are using the round cake pans, then check the cake at around the 50 min mark. I found that the cake took about 1.5 hours regardless of what pan I used, but every oven is different so I don’t want to mislead you and have you end up with burnt cake. That would be tragic. Once cake is cooked through, transfer cake pan to a wired cooling rack
  10. Cool cake completely before flipping the cake out of the pan, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving


Homemade Kimchi

I consider myself to be more of a socially awkward person. I dislike networking and I am surprisingly shy when I am in a group setting with people who I’m unfamiliar with. In these situations, instead of turning on my charm, I think I actually become what some would call…borderline creepy.

Despite that, I love it when I can make a new friend. I love the process of when a stranger come into your life, and somehow the two of you stumble upon something that you share in common – you both get really excited, and scream, and talk about it non-stop for 15 minutes, and then you laugh together. Sometimes,  you end up keeping in touch with the stranger and the two of you become friends. I love that. For me, the process is always slightly awkward, but the result is always worth it.

This is what happened between our wedding photographer, Melia and I. Actually, it didn’t happen exactly like what I described above. Melia is very calm and graceful, so screaming is not really her thing. But I screamed, loud enough for the both of us, so it’s all good.

Aside from being an incredible photographer and a mom to 2 adorable boys, Melia is also a kimchi connoisseur. After confessing to her my love for kimchi and mentioning that I’ve always wanted to try and make kimchi from scratch, Melia shared with me her favourite recipe.


This recipe is originally from Dr. Ben Kim, and folks…it’s a definite winner. I will never be buying kimchi from a grocery store, ever again. The kimchi keeps well in your fridge for at least 1 month and you can make some many things with it, the possibilities are endless – kimchi fried rice, korean pancake, kimchi stew, I could go on for hours.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 head of Napa Cabbage
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup Korean red chili powder (ko choo kah rhoo//고추 가루)
3 stalks of green onions
2 TBsp fish sauce*
3-4 garlic cloves
A chunk of fresh ginger, skin removed, maybe 5-10 grams
1/2 ripe apple
1/2 ripe pear
1/2 medium yellow onion

  1. Roughly chop the napa cabbage into large bite-size pieces. No need to wash the cabbage leaves just yet, that will come later. Throw the cabbage into a big non-plastic bowl.
  2. Completely dissolve the sea salt into a mug of warm water, add it to the cabbage and toss the leaves around to evenly distribute everything.
  3. Let the salted cabbage sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, undisturbed. The cabbage leaves will shrink while the salt draws water out of them.
  4. Strain off all the liquid and throughly rinse the cabbage leaves to get rid of the salty brine. Return the cleaned cabbage leaves to a large bowl
  5. Mix the Korean red chili powder with 1/4 cup of warm water until a red paste forms. Add the paste to the bowl with the cabbage
  6. Roughly chop up the green onions into large bite size pieces, add them into the bowl, along with the fish sauce
  7. In a blender, blend together garlic, ginger, the half apple, half pear, and half onion with a cup of water until everything turns into a smooth puree. Pour it into the bowl with the cabbage.
  8. Put on a pair of plastic disposable gloves. Use your hands to throughly toss all of the ingredients in the bowl so that everything is mixed evenly and that every cabbage leaf is coated with the red peppery marinade. (According to Dr. Kim, gloves are necessary as the pepper will burn the skin on your hands…I took his word for it and I recommend that you do too).
  9. Firmly pack your kimchi into a large, clean glass jar. Really use those muscles and pack the cabbage in nice and tight, this helps with the fermentation process. Then pour in some of the red pepper liquid that’s now in the bottom on your bowl. I like to cover all of my cabbage leaves with 1/2 inch of the liquid
  10. Do not fill your glass jars up to the brim. The kimchi inside will expand slightly as it ferments. Also, do not cap the glass jar too tightly, give it a bit of wiggle room so that air can escape
  11. Leave the jar of kimchi on your kitchen counter, at room temperature for 24 hours. Then tighten the cap and transfer the jar into the fridge and it will keep for at least 1 month
  12. You can eat the kimchi as soon as the first 24 hour mark has passed, and it will be delicious. The cabbage will get more and more sour as it continues to slowly ferment in the fridge. We like it best after it has been in the fridge for 2-3 days, and then it just keeps getting more and more delicious by each passing day.

*Omit the fish sauce if you are making a vegetarian version. If you are feeling adventurous, I heard red miso paste or kale powder (dissolved in water) make can make good substitutes for the fish sauce.

Recipe from Dr. Ben Kim.