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.

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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,

Mom

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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.

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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,

Love,

Mom

 

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,

Mom

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.

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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.

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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.

Strawberry Cake

The past month was a crazy one.

K and I moved to Vancouver and his parents came for a visit. A really really really long visit.

Okay. By really really really long, I mean 1 month + 2 days + 11 hours +40 minutes.

It’s not like I was counting or anything…

Anyways, they had a great visit.  It was nice to be able to spend some quality time with K’s parents and learn a little bit more about them.

So what’s the reason for this cake photo? Well, it just so happens that my future mother in law’s birthday is in January. She’s always been asking about my cakes, so I figured that I should just bake her a birthday cake.  Maybe if I feed her enough butter… she will like me more?

After doing some digging around, I finally decided on the cake that I was going to bake. It was a recipe that I bookmarked in early 2010, but had completely forgotten about. Strawberries are one of K’s mom’s favorite fruits so I thought it would be fitting that her first homemade birthday cake is a strawberry one.

The original recipe is from The Pioneer Woman.  I changed it up slightly just to adjust the sweetness level.

For the Cake:

1-1/2 Cup Flour
3 TBsp Cornstarch
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
½ Cup & 1 TBsp Unsalted Butter, Softened
1-1/4 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
1 Tsp Vanilla

For the Icing:

1/2 pound Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 – 1 pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound Strawberries

  1. Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches high. I used a 8′ spring-form
  2. Preheat oven to 350F or 325F if your oven runs hot like mine
  3. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch. Mix well
  4. Cream  1/2 cup + 1 tablespoons of butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the 3 eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  5. Add sour cream and vanilla into the mixture and stir until combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined
  6. Pour into cake batter in greased pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes  until cake is golden brown and is no longer jiggly
  7. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out from the oven (this is where a spring-form pan comes in handy), and place on a cooling rack.  The cake needs to cool completely before it is iced
  8. While the cake is baking, hull the strawberries and slice them into halves (or quarters if they are giant mutant strawberries). Place them into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let it sit for about 1 hour
  9. Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over the bottom of the cake half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for ~5 minutes to make icing easier
  10. While the cake is chilling, make the icing. Combine cream cheese, butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy
  11. Remove cake from freezer. Use ~ 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer, then place the second layer on top. Use the remaining icing to ice the entire cake (top and sides)
  12. If desired, garnish the cake with more strawberries

Big Year. Big Changes.

Hio! Happy New Year friends!

Phew… what a year 2011 has been! It was a year filled with a lot of learning, laughter and…butter. It was a year spent in Calgary with the people I love the most. It was a year of hard work and great results.

As awesome as 2011 has been, we can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us.

It will be an exciting year as K and I will be packing our bags (again…) and moving back to Vancouver.

We’ll be keeping you updated on all of our new adventures out on the West Coast!

Anyways, this post wouldn’t be complete without some food photos! Here are some photos of our New Year’s Eve Dinner.  Recipe to come!

Homemade Salami Spinach Mushroom Pizza

Brown Butter Upside Down Cake