Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Favorite Essentials for a New Baby

When I was pregnant I was as chill as a cucumber when it came to preparing for the baby. I didn't want to buy unnecessary baby things only for them to go unused. This is why I prepared a comprehensive list of things that I really needed, the essentials which little will go unused as much as possible. I went online, researched and asked around family (my sister) and friends. I joined mother and baby forums and listened in on discussions between mothers on what a new mother will really need once the baby comes. By the middle of my pregnancy I had already put together a list of things that I feel were important so that I when I start going baby shopping I won't be overwhelmed by how much baby things that are out there.

My list was structured in such a way that I put together the major things that I needed and were non-negotiable to splurge on (stroller, carseat, breast pump and co-sleeper). These were some things that I knew I wouldn't mind spending more on because they are great investments. The other things I can do without necessarily being expensive or branded. That way I get to be practical. By the end of my second trimester I bled, was rushed to the hospital in fear of meeting a preterm birth, got hospitalized for two nights and three days (close mommy and baby monitoring to avoid preterm birth) and was cleared of all threats. For some reason the bleeding was unexplainable. While I was in my hospital bed I thought about how anything could happen by that point and if I gave birth I didn't have anything for the baby yet save for two or three packs of newborn diapers, some sleep suits and onesies and that was just about it! When I was discharged I knew I had to go on a massive baby shopping mission because I was also put on limited movements order by my doctor. That weekend we trudged to the Dubai Mall with my trusty comprehensive list on hand and went baby shopping on a wheel chair.

Now that my baby Rae is here, I can proudly say I did pretty good with that list because I didn't purchase anything that was put to waste. Everything on that list was indeed an essential and I can't think of anything that was left unused or unopened. I didn't miss out on anything either, I got all that she needs!

While my list is very extensive and I will probably share the entire list to anyone who will want it, here are my favorite new baby essentials that in my opinion are the must-haves for any new mom:

1. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow Deluxe
My early days of breastfeeding was made easy by this lifesaver. I can't stress enough how essential this is to a brand new mother. I even brought this to the hospital with me when I gave birth and I'm glad I did. It is ergonomically designed for mommy to feel comfortable while nursing without straining herself and gives optimum comfort to your little one too. The deluxe one has a nice soft velvety cover, is very sturdy and adjusts easily using the velcro lock. I find the pocket to be very uself because I usually put my mobile phone in there. Trust me, when you have a baby you'll keep uttering the words, "Has anyone seen my cel phone?" very often.

2. Medela Freestyle Breastpump
Prior to given birth I had already made up my mind that I would like to breastfeed for as long as I can. I am a fulltime mother who prioritizes direct latching of my baby but I also wanted to invest in a really good pump so that I can build a stash for her for rainy days. I settled on getting a Medela Freestyle and I can't stress enough how efficient it is. It makes my life a lot easier because it does all the hard work for me. Breastfeeding and building a stash are tasks already hard enough that add to the stresses of a new mom. A reliable breast pump will help your life a lot easier.

3. My Brest Friend Travel Nursing Pillow

I loved the Deluxe version of this so much I had to get a travel version of it so I can take it anywhere! Before going home for Christmas during the holidays, I made a list of essential things to bring. It was my first time to fly out with my baby and we were going to be away from home for more than a month. I bought this travel pillow so I won't have to lug around my trusty breastfeeding pillow, Deluxe version. This one is fully inflatable and folds small that can fit into a big tote/bag. It's so easy to use and my baby loves it as much as she loves the Deluxe one. It also has the nice useful pocket that I love putting my cel phone in or water bottle.

4. Sudocrem

I find this cream very useful and a medium sized tub can last you for months and months! It smells great too because upon reading the label it has lavender in it too. It's also a great all-around cream for typical boo boos like minor scrapes, eczema, rash, acne and the list goes on. I can't go without a tub of this at home. It comes in a mini tub too that can nicely fit into your diaper bag.

5. Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

I carefully researched which diaper bag I was going to get. I wanted something that was functional and not too bulky like I was going to bring the entire house with me. This Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag is the perfect fit. It looks small from the outside but inside it can fit a lot of things! I was actually surprised by how much it could carry and I love it because it has a lot of pockets and even a pocket for my big water bottle (Mama needs to stay hydrated too!). I am partial to Skip Hop brand but this diaper bag definitely takes the cake. It is easy to carry too because of its padded rubberized strap.

6.  Pigeon Wide Neck Peristaltic Plus Plastic Feeding Bottle

For bottles, I made the mistake of stocking up on a particular brand thinking that bottles follow the "one size fits all" principle. Little did I know not all babies like the same brand, especially newborn! I had a trial and error bout with bottles. Must have purchased from three different brands trying to gauge which one my baby likes best. Some nipples were just too fast for her when she was young. After much researching, I tried Pigeon Wide Neck Persitaltic Plus. It has lesser chances of confusing your baby with bottle and boob, especially if your baby mostly feeds directly from the boob like mine.

7. Babyzen Yoyo+

I can never stress enough how I love the Yoyo. I have a petite frame and therefore, not much muscles to work with when it comes to lugging around a big stroller. I wanted a Bugaboo Bee for a while but then realized how I needed something that was compact yet sturdy, functional but comfortable for my little one. Enter the Babyzen Yoyo+! Rae loves it and us parents do too because it's so light and easy to store. It fits the overhead storage of airplanes too and during the first time I took it on a flight, the flight attendant at the Dubai airport asked me, "Is that a Yoyo?" because it's one of the most popular and few travel strollers that are allowed to be brought onboard the aircraft. My baby likes sleeping in it too. We got the infant bassinet that can be used until 6 months and the 6+ body which is on a seating position. It is also a travel stroller that can be semi-reclined so that baby can sleep comfortably. One of our best buys, if not the bestest of the best buys for our baby. I also love how I can easily bring this when I'm out with just the baby and me because it can be folded and assembled easily with just one hand.

8. Ikea Raskog Cart
Before giving birth I scoured Pinterest for nesting ideas and stumbled upon the Raskog cart diaper changing station. It's amazing! I can lug around a changing station easily from one room to another. I put the diapers, lotion, hand sanitizer, changing pad, muslin cloths, bath essentials and my tumbler in here. I'll save my Raskog cart organization preview for another post because it can be quite extensive.

9. Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover

I breastfeed my little one so wherever I go she goes and wherever I go I should always be ready to feed. Enter a very functional breastfeeding cover with bone on the collar! I love it and my baby loves it because we can maintain eye contact while she feeds and there's proper air circulation in there. There are also a lot of less pricey ones with the same design now. As long as there's a bone (plastic bendy collar) your baby won't fuss around so much in there because you both can see each other.

10. Hakaa Breast Pump

The Hakaa breast pump was gifted to me by my best friend. I LOVE IT SO MUCH and I rant about it a lot! Just suction on your breast, leave it and let gravity do the work! I get a good 3-4 oz catch every morning and it's amazing when I'm too lazy to bust out the electric pump or if my pump parts are still air drying. It's also a good option to have when traveling because it's tiny you can bring it anywhere and easy to clean too. Don't forget to get the lid that comes with it.

11. Boba Wrap in Gray

My baby and I had a rough start with the Boba wrap because she didn't like it at first. Little did I know that I was wrapping it and wearing her wrong! So I gave it ago again and this time she loved it once it was worn right. Whew! It's a lifesaver for me when I need both my hands free when she starts getting clingy at home. It instantly also makes her fall asleep. I have yet to try wearing her outside, though. I'll save our experiment for another post.

12. Klean Kanteen

I have always wanted one but couldn't find a store in Dubai that carries it. My brother in law and my sister gifted me with a big one the last time we were home. So glad they did because it's amazing! Like my S'well bottle, it can store cold beverage for 48 hours and hot liquid too. All nursing mommas must have their own huge tumblers to always stay hydrated because it's important for our well-being and for lactation. The Klean Kanteen is perfect for Dubai's hot weather too. At least now I can always stay hydrated and drink like a fish without worrying about my water heating up.

I'll add to this list as I go about motherhood. I'm sure there will be a lot more nifty things to discover and enjoy.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Motherhood so far

I haven't been writing here in a long while. During my entire pregnancy it seemed as if I had all the time in the world yet I didn't have the energy to even lift a finger. I was so tired all the time and all I wanted to do was sleep. My excuse was that when I give birth I will no longer be able to sleep anymore and I'm glad I did!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Life After Three

Whenever I fill up medical forms or records for antenatal care during my latest and most successful pregnancy, I always get a punch in the gut when I see "Gravida= 4, Para, 0" written on the medical history section. In layman's term, I have been pregnant four times including current one with zero living children. "Gravida" means the number of pregnancies with living and non-living children including current pregnancy, while "Para" means number of living children. It gets me every time, like a silent reminder that my body has cradled three previous lives before. I always take a big gulp knowing what would come next. It's either the nurse or doctor will just let it pass or they'll comment with "I see, this baby must be really special but I'm so sorry for your losses."

It's true when they say that a miscarriage is a terrifying, devastating and isolating experience that a woman or a couple can go through. I chose to be quiet about it at first but realized that I was only hurting myself more by sweeping my pain under the rug. Slowly I let people around me know what I was going through and I received the support I needed eventually especially when two out of three miscarriages I was at work when the nurse at my doctor's office called me to break the news that my progesterone levels were going down. "Expect to bleed any day now", was all my doctor said over the phone like she was just telling some patient about a mundane medical advice she usually gives. I was in a bathroom cubicle after I hung up the phone, knees wobbling and tears streaming down my face. I didn't know how to go back to work after that and carry on with my day pretending nothing happened. I failed, of course. At one point I needed my superiors to let me off work early so I could go home and wallow in a dark cold room and ask a number of how's and why's while I cried myself to sleep.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Eid Staycation at Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel

M and I had a spontaneous staycation at one of our favorite hotels to stay in Dubai-- Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel. We initially didn't plan anything for the Eid long weekend but a day before the weekend I found M making reservations for us online. Before we knew it we were already packing for a relaxing weekend ahead. 

I love staycations, they're the best especially when you just need to break away from routine and just relax all day even if the hotel is just nearby your home. We spent most of the weekend just eating and sleeping. Yes, SLEEPING! When you're expecting and you have an entire king sized hotel bed to relax in, you don't get up unless you get hungry! Just kidding. Luckily, my husband felt the same and we mostly dozed in and out of sleep, watched our favorite tv series and then walked to the adjacent Ibn Battuta Mall for our meals. On our second night we went to an evening brunch downstairs. It was Surf n' Turf Evening brunch with a nice live band serenading diners as we enjoyed our food. It was a fantastic evening and we went back to our room with smiles on our faces and happy bellies, especially mine!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hanoi, Authentic Vietnamese Food in Abu Dhabi

Last weekend M and I were supposed to go just a quick trip to Abu Dhabi for a good friend's wedding. We ended up staying the night after so much fun at the wedding with company of good old friends, one drink too many, and a tipsy head. It was so much fun that day, especially because a trip to Abu Dhabi meant going to my favorite Vietnamese place nearby, Hanoi!

I always order the usual, which is the Hanoi Special pho. M always gets the chicken curry with white steamed rice. So delicious!

It was hot and sticky outside but the pho still did not disappoint. The broth is always so tasty and it comes in a big giant bowl that people can share if they like. I'm greedy with my pho so I had it all to myself.

What: Hanoi 
Where: Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi (in front of National Bank of Abu Dhabi Main Branch) 
Top Tips: Order the Hanoi Special Pho or Special Beef Ball Pho and the Vietnamese Chicken Curry

Friday, September 4, 2015

Din Tai Fung in Singapore

When I think about xiao long bao, I always think of din tai fung. On my last trip to Singapore I made sure to drop by. Despite warnings from my resident friends that it usually gets busy on peak hours and the line might be long to wait for a seat, I made sure to squeeze in a late lunch. Luckily from where we stayed at Carlton Hotel, Bras Basah, everything is practically walkable! Just right past the Singapore Art Museum, there is a Din Tai Fung branch where we walked to. At around 3PM the place is busy but not quite filled. Naturally, we got seats right away. 

Upon the suggestion of my friends, we ordered a bowl of Spicy Braised Beef Noodles, Peppered Pork, Salted Egg Rice and of course... Xiao Long Bao! Everything was so good! The noodle soup was just what I was craving for, the fried pork was very tasty and juicy, the salted egg rice too. As for the main attraction, the xiao long bao was so perfect! The wrapper didn't come off as I picked one piece up with my chopsticks. When it hit my mouth it was still warm and when I bet into the soft handmade wrapper, it popper with so much flavor and warmth filling my mouth with soup that was warm. It was like a party in there! The xiao long bao has also bits of ground meat inside, which was made with spices that made it even more tasty. 

Until now I always crave for Din Tai Fung. Can't wait to experience another meal there soon! This time I'm going all out with the xiao long bao!

Now onto the photos.

Din Tai Fung is available in a lot of outlets in Singapore. This branch that we went to is located in Bras Basah. 


Manulife Centre
51 Bras Basah Road #01-02 Singapore 189554
+65 6837 3933

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quick Meal in Less than 30 Minutes

As much as I love cooking, I've been putting off trying new things these days. This evening I came home from work determined to whip up something tasty and quick because after last night's KFC takeaway, I just wanted to eat something homemade.

After a quick rummage through my mini pantry/shelf, I found some pasta ingredients and quickly took out the crushed tomatoes, canned tuna, strained tomatoes, fresh bell peppers, spinach and parmesan cheese. The result? A quick tuna pasta in red sauce with spinach, peppers and parmesan cheese!

This is my own recipe after experimenting with the things I have on hand. I'm sharing it here in case you want to give it a try!

What's your favorite 30 minute meal recipe?

What you'll need:
Canned tuna
Penne pasta or any kind you want
Crushed tomatoes
Strained tomatoes
Bell Pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried basil
Chili flakes (I like my pasta sauce with a kick)

1. Saute garlic in olive oil.
2. Add the tuna (I used two cans for this).
3. Add the bell peppers.
4. Add crushed tomatoes.
5. Add the strained tomatoes.
6. Add a little water if the sauce is too thick just to loosen it up a bit.
7. Salt and pepper to taste, adjust according to your liking.
8. Add your boiled pasta (yes, boil pasta beforehand). I wanted to make this a skillet pasta but I didn't feel like risking it because I was already hungry.
9. After the penne has been coated, add your chopped spinach.
10. Serve hot, top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Eid Al Fitr at Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah

Living in the Emirates automatically means sunshine for days. Although I've always hated summer, I don't mind summer as long as I get to spend it by the beach. Lucky for us in Dubai, the beach is only about five minutes away. In our case, Jumeirah is just a bridge away crossing Sheikh Zayed Road. This Eid Al Fitr holiday, I spent it with family. We stayed at Al Qasr Madinat Jumeirah for three days. It was a long weekend of sun, sand and sea. The hotel also has the biggest pool I've ever seen. All in all, it was a great staycation.

Our first day was mostly about roaming around the hotel grounds and exploring. When you stay at one of the Madinat Jumeirah hotels, you get to cross over the other hotels in the vicinity and get complimentary passes for Wild Wadi. In the afternoon because of the heat, we went to the beach and decided to take dip. In the evening we had dinner at Souk Madinat Jumeirah and then roamed the area for drinks. We ended up just ordering in from the hotel room. On the second day we took a boat ride to tour the rest of Madinat Jumeirah. The lovely boat man was very enthusiastic and pointed out which villas famous people stayed at. We then headed for the beach and rented out kayaks. I've never been on a kayak before and it wasn't as scary as I thought at all! I ended up enjoying it so much I didn't want to go back to shore. The view was also breathtaking as we paddled away from the beach. The boys then headed to the pool to take a dip while the girls just lounged under the shade. Spent the rest of day 2 taking a siesta and then the rest of the evening chasing the sunset at the beach, swimming before the sun completely went away and then headed to the pool again for night swimming.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Soho Bar Grill at Century Village, Dubai

A few weeks ago M and I were at the Emirates Aviation College for a seminar. We were really famished afterwards so we crossed the street to the Century Village and walked into Soho Bar and Grill. The weather was still cool and we were lucky enough to still enjoy al fresco dining. I was craving for man food-- think ribs, burgers, steaks... The works!

This lovely atmosphere greeted us-- a haven at the end of the walk from the entrance and nestled under the rustling of leaves of trees that surrounded the bar and grill. Our waiters were very helpful when it came to ordering. I settled for the bacon burger, my sister-in-law ordered the steak and M ordered the platter. All in all, it was a fulfilling meal! Loved the iced tea and fries too.