Sienna Kai: 7 Month Update

This little nugget is 7 months old today!

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What a fun month – other than a terrible week with a cold and some days where teething has being giving us a hard time, it’s been so great. Her personality is really starting to present itself and she’s so enjoyable to me. She is very interested in everything – just really paying attention to details ie. my earrings (ouch!).

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There’s been a lot of eating going on. Sienna seems to want to try any food at sight and so far she has enjoyed experimenting with different flavors and textures. I’m doing a mix of purees and baby led weaning and it seems to be working great for us. She loves cinnamon sweet potato fries, hummus, blueberries and yogurt with chia seeds. She’s also been chewing on some foods to help her with her teething – she chomps on apple rings and cucumber slices and they seem to do the trick. I am only giving her two “formal” meals per day and some snacks throughout. I have noticed however that now that she’s realized that food exists, her interest in milk has definitely declined. She used to down her bottles and now she takes her time and doesn’t even finish them half of the time. She does the cutest “excitement leg bounce” when she sees that I am getting her meal ready :).

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We tried the bucket swings this month and she loves them! She was cracking up the first time I put her in one and we’ve been back to the park a couple of times since then. She is also getting much more comfortable with spending more time on her belly but still won’t roll over. She is in no rush! Lately she gets a little frustrated since she really wants to sit up but isn’t quite there yet – we’ve been practicing and she’s slowly getting better. It’s great seeing her get stronger and just develop these new skills – so neat to witness. She loves taking Charlie to the dog park and being out and about, just like John and I, she doesn’t seem to be showing signs of being a homebody.

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Her sleep has remained consistent (knock on wood) and we seem to have a really predictable/set schedule. She is still sleeping in the merlin suit, I’ve tried to put her in the crib without it a couple of times but it hasn’t worked. She still can’t seem to settle herself and put herself to sleep without it. I would like to get her sleeping suit-free by summer time as the suit is warm and it’s going to be hot around here. So I guess that’s my next challenge.

We are currently in escrow for our first home and if everything goes well, we will be moving later this month. I am excited for Sienna’s new room which is bigger than her current one. Also, the house is bigger so I won’t have to worry about tiptoeing my way around while she’s asleep.

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This upcoming Monday we will start out with a nanny. I am going back to work for three days a week so we hired someone to watch her. Sienna and I loved her from our interview and I am really hoping that they are a good match as I can’t help but to feel worried about leaving her. I feel very thankful and lucky that I got to spend her first 7 months of life exclusively taking care of her – moving forward, my goal is being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance so that I can be the best mom I can to her while still moving forward with my career as well.

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NEDA Week: Celebrate People

February 22nd marked the first day of the National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Each year that passes, the meaning that this week has for me grows. It marks another year when I can say that “I made it”. Although there are still times when I struggle, I know that I am “on the other side” of my eating disorder. Sometimes, I still hear that disordered voice in my head – however, I am now able to listen to it, acknowledge that it’s there and then let it go. It’s not my -TRUTH- anymore. I’ve learned to detach from it and come back to myself.

About a month ago I met Jessica Raymond. She is the face behind Recovery Warriors, a site with tools that help girls during their recovery from eating disorders. She also lives in San Diego and it was great to connect with someone else who fought her eating disorder and is now giving back to society and the community. I heard her say that recovery is like surfing. You can have periods of time where you are just patiently sitting on your board, waiting for the waves in peace. A period of time where everything feels steady. Then there’s times when the waves hit you and you just have to ride them, not knowing the outcome, unaware if you’re going to make it out “alive”. She said she’s learned to treat emotions like waves. You have to acknowledge that they are there, you have to ride them to realize that they are fleeting. That they are not permanent. That they will pass. If you think about it we all pretty much go through a sort of “surf recovery”.. our lives are filled with steady moments that sometimes change into a set of crazy waves.

I know that sometimes it’s hard for people to talk or think about eating disorders. I also know that more people than you think you know, struggle with them. So I don’t think that talking about them is in vain. Now that I have a daughter my priority is to raise her with a high self esteem and self love. I want to celebrate her for who she is. I know that a big part of this is the example that I set for her, in how I treat myself and how I treat others.

This year for NEDA week my goal is to celebrate people and I want to invite you all to do the same.

I come from a family where friendly “banter” is part of the dynamic. Mexicans love speaking their minds and although the intentions are never hurtful I’ve noticed it’s easier to laugh at people than to compliment them. We love instant gratification and it takes way less time to find something on the outside of people that you can talk about than actually taking time in getting to know people, asking the right questions and finding something lovable/admirable inside of them. It takes work. It takes dealing with feeling vulnerable.

We reap what we sow. This is what I want to teach my daughter.

Find time. Learn to love people for who they are. Don’t be quick to judge strangers. Know that how you treat other people is only a reflection of what is inside of you. Love yourself. Ride the wave. And to all my fellow recovery warriors: I love you all! We are doing this – we are living life freely!

Sienna Kai’s 5 Month Update

I can’t believe our little girl is 5 months old! I could kiss those chunky cheeks all day!

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I’ve noticed that since she was born, months have been flying but days actually go by slower. Having a baby definitely helps staying present and in the moment – and then when you look back, it’s strangely a big blur. Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has a toddler and she mentioned how you definitely forget a lot of the newborn stage things as your kid grows up. She says you end up being so focused on the present stage that your child is on, that on the moment that they’re on the the next one, the last one becomes distant as it looses all of your focus. I guess it’s like going on to the next level on a video game :).

This is why I want to start writing monthly updates for Sienna. I actually wish I had done this from the beginning! Oh well.

Time with Sienna is getting to be so much fun these days. She is so interested in everything that is going on around her. Our walks are awesome. I’ll catch her staring at trees and flowers. She reaches out to grab stuff too which is pretty neat. We’ve been walking to the dog park as well and she loves watching all of the dogs running around. Most of our walks are still in the carrier as the stroller is still hit or miss for her. We are making progress with the car seat but occasional meltdowns in there are still part of our routine (worse part of my day). She also loves being in the carrier when I am cooking – I like talking to her and telling her what we are making for dinner as I prep all the ingredients.

She used to nap when I made dinner but she has more alert time now so she’s my little sous chef. She’s been going to bed pretty early these days as she doesn’t always take a third nap anymore. We’ll start her bath (which she loves) at around 5pm and she’s usually in bed by 6ish. If we’re lucky she makes it all the way until 6am the next morning. That or she wakes up at around 4:30am as she lost her pacifier. I rarely feed her at night anymore, only when she can’t seem to go back to sleep after waking up or when I notice she’s going through some sort of growth spurt. One of my favorite parts of the day is early in the morning when I go into her room to unswaddle her and say: Buenos Dias! Seeing her smile back at me is the best way to start the day. She still sleeps swaddled but I am pretty sure I will have to stop soon as she started rolling over from tummy to back. We’ll see how our nights go once the swaddle is gone. Eek! We tried the Merlin Sleepsuit like a month ago but she still seemed too small for it, I may give it another whirl.

She’s been eating like a champ lately – already at 8 ounces per feeding. She loves eating laying down and actually prefers to not be held for this. My mom bought her this Boppy Lounger when she was born, she used to fall asleep in it all the time but now it’s her favorite place to eat. We use it pretty much all the time unless we’re not home. This past week she’s gotten stronger though and is starting to lift her upper body while laying on it – like boat pose in yoga. She cracks me up.

I was almost certain that I wanted to wait until she was 6 months old to feed her solids but we started a little early. She had been doing this chewing motion with her mouth and showing interest in food when she saw us eat. I read this could also be a sign of teething but she seems pretty happy (not in teething pain) so I didn’t think it was that. I’ve been doing some reading on baby led weaning and yesterday we decided to give it a go with a banana. SHE LOVED IT! She just got frustrated when the banana started getting slippery as she would loose grip of it when she still wanted more. She kept opening her mouth and moving her chin down as if she could magically call the banana back in her mouth. This photo was right at the beginning of our attempt, we had to change her clothes after as it was pretty messy. I am excited for future adventures as we experiment with food!

Our play time includes tummy time (which she is finally enjoying more), dancing, reading, petting and observing Charlie, time on her play mat and baby airplane. She’s discovered her feet too so sometimes she doesn’t even need a toy to entertain herself. She’ll just stare at them and try to grab them. She loves her sock monkey snuggle buddy and this lamaze peacock. We started playing peek-a-boo the other day but it doesn’t work all of the time yet. One day she was laughing so hard when I was playing with her and the next day she was like… ummm what are you doing mom?

Her laugh is in my opinion, the best sound the world. I’m pretty sure I look like a goof all day with my multiple attempts at making her laugh. Her cooing and babbling hasn’t gotten old either. Her least attractive sound these days is a grunt that she keeps doing whenever she gets bored or wants to change her position but she can’t. I feel like she’s at a stage where she can’t do much although she really wants to so she gets frustrated sometimes.

She is definitely in love with her dad this month. Her face lights up every time he walks into the room and they have such a cute bond when they are together. John and I take turns; he’ll surf a day and then I’ll go out on a run the next day. So we both get some exercise and bonding time with Sienna in the mornings (which is normally when she’s in her best mood). When she was younger I was definitely overprotective of her when she was around John… #firsttimemommyproblem, nowadays I feel comfortable just letting them do their own thing. This past Saturday I had my first solo day trip while Sienna and dad stayed behind. I went on a taco + beer + mezcal tour in Tijuana so it was kind of great to not have cell phone reception or else I’m pretty sure I would have been texting John the whole time. I came home to a sleeping baby. Success!

In a couple of weeks, Sienna and I are flying down to Guadalajara by ourselves, John will catch up with us later. I’m hoping we make it down there without any airport/airplane meltdowns. It’s nice having an extra set of hands to help with the carry on, other than that I feel pretty confident so wish us luck!

I feel so thankful that I get to spend these early months with her. I actually still don’t know if or when I am going back to work full time as I am currently just working remote on different projects. I’m still and always will be a dreamer when it comes to my professional life – the vision of owning a small restaurant run by me is one that has been in my mind for years now. There will be a time and place for that. Or at least I like to believe so. Motherhood is so amazing and so hard some days. Life goes by so fast. I am certain that I won’t regret setting this time aside to raise our daughter and I am thankful that I have such a hard working husband that allows me to do so :).

Crushing On:

1. NPR’s Invisibilia Podcast. One word: OBSESSED. “Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” Totally up my alley. I’ve been loving streaming it while Sienna sleeps and I’m attempting to cook, work or clean. That or I’m just streaming it while I’m laying on our bed snuggling with Charlie.

2. Suja Juices. I know, I know… the whole juicing “thing”. A trend that I definitely have been partaking in. At least it’s a healthy trend no? Sprouts has been having these sales where they are 5.99 instead of the usual 9.99 so every time I go grocery shopping I’m like… Well, I should get at least two right?  This one is delicious if you like beets and celery (which I know half of the populations probably doesn’t):

3. The Body Shop’s Coconut Lip Butter. I’ve never been a lipstick kind of girl. I actually do love red lipstick but it never goes that well. People end up telling me it’s on my teeth – half an hour after I put it on. Thanks. Not to mention chapped lips after using lipstick. I realized I couldn’t be buying Lip Smackers forever as I am trying to achieve a more grown up look (John and I joke about how I only own cartoon or beer t-shirts) – so I am totally into this balm right now.

4. Ergo 360 Front Facing Carry. We got the Ergo 360 a couple of months ago after using the regular Ergo. We wanted to be able to carry her front facing and she’s been loving it. It’s makes trips to the dog park so much easier and Sienna loves exploring and looking around when we go out walking. The back support is also pretty legit.

5. Amanda Pete in Togetherness. I started watching this show a couple of weeks ago and her character is awesome. As if I didn’t already have a girl crush on her. She plays this girl named Tina who is a total go getter. I’ve always been a planner so I’m secretly jealous of people who can be spontaneous all the time. The show is pretty funny too. And real. It deals with relatable issues. My type of series.

6. Father John Misty’s new single Chateau Lobby #4. John and I are so excited for his new album coming out in February. I was a big fan of his last album so I am looking forward to listening to his new songs. He’s such a sick romantic. I love it. Also we are going to his show in April at the North Park Theatre. Boo-yah!

7. This article on The Motherhood Days We Don’t Talk About That Much That We Should. If you’re a mom just read it. That’s all.

9. My friend Kristin recommended I check out the Minimalist Baker blog and it’s so neat! It’s written by a couple living in Portland that create recipes with a minimal number of ingredients. YES! Also, beautiful photography.

10. Pretty much everything on the OEUFNYC website for baby girls. More specifically these crowns. Are you kidding me? As if I was not already super into Sienna’s headband game. Adorbs.

Happy Weekend Friends!

Eating That Ice Cream Cone

Perfectionism and the need for control are things that I have struggled with for years. I’m learning to live in that “grey” area of life as I’m more used to the “all or nothing” type of living which is, frankly, quite unrealistic.

Two years ago when I checked into an outpatient program at an eating disorder treatment facility; I told myself that I would be the perfect patient. I would learn the tools that I needed to learn to get rid of this monster and finally get better. Easy peasy. .

It took me a while to even accept that I needed help. In my mind, I was never sick enough. I wasn’t skinny enough to where people were worried, I was a functional person with a life that wasn’t falling to pieces (clearly on the way though). I always thought there were sicker people, that I didn’t even deserve to go to a place like a recovery center as it wasn’t that bad for me. I was so sick and out of love with myself that I didn’t even think that I deserved to get help.

So, like at school, I quickly became the perfect student during therapy. I did all of the exercises, I read all of the material. Easy peasy.

When I finished treatment it was definitely an adjustment. I left this place where everyone understood what I was talking about, a place where my meals were portioned (they promised me I wouldn’t gain weight if I just learned to eat my portions), a place where I didn’t feel alone in my madness. And although I had all the support in the world from my loved ones, deep down I still felt so ashamed. I always thought that I had an amazing life, so why did I even get sick? Why couldn’t I just be grateful for what I had and stopped doing all these stupid things to myself? Shame is the worst feeling.

Because I felt so bad about this still, I wanted to have a perfect recovery. I can’t afford to need help again – I would think. I can’t afford to hurt my family again. So I of course pretended like I was 100% cured and was doing perfectly fine again.

Recovery is not a straight line. It’s hard and it sucks. The eating disorder beast is hard to tame and if I’ve learned something this entire time is to just keep moving forward. Recovery from an eating disorder has a lot of definitions – it’s not like recovering from alcoholism where you completely go sober. You need food to live so you can’t “sober” yourself from it. So for some people recovery means simply eating, for others it means not eating compulsively, not weighing themselves… but it never means that you will automatically abstain from all disordered food behaviors because that is impossible. This was very hard for me to accept as any time I had a behavior (ie. overeating, restricting or using food to numb feelings) after being at the treatment center I felt SO guilty. I’ve always been hard with myself so I got so angry every time I had a “slip”… why can’t you just be RECOVERED? You know what to do, why don’t you just do it.?

I think that after all of the life changes that I’ve had recently with having a baby and such, I finally arrived at my own definition of recovery and I am at peace with it.

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Recovery to me means working each day on listening to my body. It means recognizing those patterns in my behavior when I am more prone to engage in an eating disorder conduct and why I react in a certain way. There is always a feeling behind that eating disorder impulse – and my goal is to identify it so that I learn how to deal with it instead of numbing it. Recovery means forgiving yourself after having a bad day in which you overate due to anxiety… it means knowing that although it happened, you are still walking in the right direction. Recovery means listening to the voice inside my head that tells me to -restrict  because I am not good enough- and telling it to shut up instead of making it my “truth”.  Recovery means living in that grey area, being patient, eating that ice cream cone. Recovery means telling myself out loud that I love myself so that my baby daughter can hear it.

Recovery to me means Eating Intuitively, this takes times and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! I’ve been trying to abide to these principles (sharing them with you below as I think they’re a good reminder to everyone) as much as possible and although I am not 100% there yet, I know I’m on the way. After all, slow and steady wins the race 🙂

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating via intuitiveeating.com  

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police (crazy voice in your mind telling you food is “bad”)
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise (not obsessively but just being active vs sedentary)
  10. Honor Your Health

PS:  Since this post is about food and fueling our bodies, I wanted to end this post by sharing this with you guys: The Definite Guide To Healthy Eating. I love Sarah’s blog and this made me laugh.

Shopping Spree

Moving to San Diego has expanded my palate immensely. Before living here, I always thought that I had already tasted a lot of different flavors of the world…. I was clearly in the wrong.

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John and I spend a good amount of our paychecks (mostly his paycheck nowadays) on food and restaurants. I remember when I first moved in with him. We looked at our bank statement and realized that we needed to adjust our budget. We had spent a ridiculous amount of money on going out to eat. I’m pretty sure that this had to do with the fact that I had an ongoing list of restaurants that I wanted to try. So it was kind of my doing… Restaurants are my weakness though, how can you not love just trying new food and sharing experiences with good company? Going out to a new restaurant is my equivalent of a shopping spree.

I also fell more in love with John through this “expense” – he was dying to take me to Convoy street to try Korean BBQ. I remember him ordering like a pro, even asking the server for some lettuce leaves which aren’t even offered on then menu. It was an adventure and I tried flavors that I had never been exposed to before. We tried Ethiopian, French, Indian, Vietnamese…

Thai food has become one of our favorites. We probably eat it once a week. One of our dear friends (Hi Kira!) is a girl from Thailand who is the best at cooking traditional Thai meals so she’s given us a lesson or two. I made Pad Thai for the first time with her and she filled me in on all the ingredients that we probably needed to get at an Asian market (99 cent ranch market for the win).

Now that we’ve gone out to restaurants a lot and I’ve been exposed to all of these spices and combinations, I am at a place where I’m attempting to recreate some dishes we’ve had and learn how to cook dishes from other cultures. Going out is still something that I very much enjoy, I’m always on the lookout for new places. However, I’ve been equally enjoying cooking at home for my loved ones and friends. It’s cheaper, healthier and definitely a little more intimate as you welcome people into your home.

Som tum has a special place in my heart, John and I probably had it every day during our honeymoon in Thailand. So good!

I made som tum and red curry this past weekend. I think the curry could use some changes so I won’t hurry and share that recipe with you just yet. The som tum was delicious, super fresh, crisp and with the right amount of spice and sweetness.

Som Tum – Yields 6 cups – Gluten Free – Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of shredded green papaya
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans cut into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 tablespoons of thai palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Tamara
  • 2 thai chilies
  • Juice of 3 large limes

Directions:

In a large bowl, pound the garlic clove and the chilies until you form a smooth paste.

Add the palm sugar and pound it into the paste as well.

Add 1/4 cup of peanuts and pound into small pieces, don’t allow them to form a thick paste though.

Add the green beans and pound them until they are slightly bruised and opened.

Add the tomatoes and pound then lightly, just enough to get the juices out of them and into the mix.

Add the papaya, carrots and remaining 1/4 cup of peanuts. Mix well.

Add the juice of the limes and the soy sauce. Use two large wooden spoons to mix until the ingredients are all coated with juices.

Serve in bowls or small side dishes.

Note: I like papaya salad chilled so I had our bowl sit in the fridge for about an hour before serving.