Becoming a Big Sister

When I was still pregnant, I wasn’t terribly concerned with how Aliya would adjust to being a big sister. I knew she loved babies — sometimes she would go up to the random baby at the park and try to give them hugs and kisses (this was before we had a discussion with her about boundaries). Everyone would look at me and say, “She needs a sibling!”

And so when we brought baby home, I was more concerned with her trying to smother her brother. And true to form, she would bring him stuffed animals, cover him with a blanket, sing him songs, tell him stories, cover him with stickers, and pat him when he started crying. It is heartwarming to watch, but more often than not, we have to remind her to give her brother space.

We did a couple of things to prepare her for becoming a big sister:

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We Go to Church

Disclaimer: I’m talking about religion. These are my beliefs, and though I hold them dear, I also respect your beliefs, non-beliefs and personal decisions. 

I grew up in church. We attended every Sunday, there was youth group midweek, and more often than not, I was volunteering as well. Mr O and I met at church, we were married in the same church, and (since Mr O is a pastor), our faith is a very important part of our lives. It was vital to my state of mind during our infertility journey, and I believe wholeheartedly that Little Oats is a gift from God.

When we had Little Oats, we knew that we wanted her to grow up knowing the God that we know. We wanted her to have a church home that she would feel safe in. We knew the importance of having other adults in her life who would guide her (especially when she won’t listen to Mom and Dad). And since we both believe that God comes first in our lives, we knew He would be a big part of Little Oats’ story. To incorporate our faith into our lives, there are a few steps we take:

1. We go to church: As a toddler, Little Oats learns three crucial things at church: that God made her, that he loves her, and that he wants to be her friend forever. Though the ins and outs of Christianity are much more nuanced than that, doesn’t it all boil down to those truths? Little Oats has the same three group leaders each week; they constantly are excited to see her, they go out of their way to make her feel welcome, and they love what they do.

2. We pray together: Whether for small things like a good night’s sleep, or the bigger issues in our lives, Mr O and I pray with and for Little Oats before bed each night. We also say grace at dinner ( and if Little Oats is particularly hungry, she cuts it short by yelling ‘Amen!’)

3. We lead by example: I could tell Little Oats all day long the importance of reading her Bible or praying…but if she doesn’t see me making time for those things in my day, I’m just a hypocrite. By making sure that our own faith is in check, we provide an example for Little Oats to learn from.

Is faith part of your lives? How do you teach your little ones what you believe?

When you’re sick…

…and you’re a mom, don’t expect to get that “rest” they tell you is so important! After having a tickle in my throat at the beginning of a long travel day of airports and planes and foolishly not having my preventative remedies (including essential oils) with me, my body gave into a nasty cold. But, upon arriving home I had to jump right back into life and work despite feeling yucky and didn’t really give my body a chance to improve. So, I present you with my list of items more likely to occur to a sick mom rather than getting much needed rest and sleep!

Instead of resting you will likely…

- spend the first night you’re sick awake with your toddler for 3 hours in the middle of the night because he woke up crying and just wouldn’t fall back asleep (which has probably only happened two other times ever); and despite trying to explain it to him, for some reason he just didn’t understand that mommy needed her sleep.
- still have to cook meals for yourself and your family – canned soups will only go so far!
- spend a great portion of your day boiling water to gargle, or drink with honey and lemon to soothe that sore throat.
- try to rest with your toddler and watch his favorite movie, only to have him get bored of it after 30 minutes and want to run around the house again.
- end up with a sick toddler as well and spend a good portion of your time cleaning out HIS nose with the Nose-Frida, filling up his humidifier and spacing out vitamins and cough syrup appropriately throughout the day.
- THEN have to sanitize the Nose-Frida after part of it landed in the toilet after said toddler thought it was hilarious to swing around his head. Yuck!
- do several loads of laundry just to keep everyone in clean underwear at the very least.
- try to take a nap while the toddler naps, but then be unable to fall asleep because you keep thinking of everything that’s NOT getting done while this attempt to rest is happening.

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D’s Journey, Part 6 – Intestinal Rehab

We last left off with D recovering from the reconnection surgery. He had lost a lot of intestines, and the surgeons told us he had 65cm left (the average for babies is 300cm). This put him at risk for “short gut syndrome” but the NICU doctors told me that the number didn’t matter as much as the function, so they moved forward assuming he would be fine. After giving him a few days to recover from the surgery, they slowly starting ramping his food (which was breastmilk through his G tube) up to the appropriate level. They said he was tolerating it fine, and he reached the full volume he needed (and was off of IV nutrition) on a Wednesday. They told me to bring in his car seat since he’d be going home on the weekend! But alas… the floor fell out from under us again.

I noticed that D’s eyes were quite yellow. I brought it up to the NICU doctors (who hadn’t noticed – this is why you have to advocate for your LO!) and they asked for a GI consult. D started getting sick again, and not acting like himself. He was pooping a LOT, had dark colored urine, and even started to run a fever. The GI docs were concerned since he wasn’t gaining weight as he should, and then they ran some tests and found out he was severely dehydrated. This indicated to his care team that he was not absorbing nutrients and fluids as he should be (ie, he had short gut syndrome), and needed some serious help. They stopped giving him breastmilk and put him back on IV nutrition, and the GI doctors requested that he be transferred out of the NICU and to their floor.

D with his yellow eyes…

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20 Best Lunchboxes for Kids

I’ve been packing lunches pretty much daily for the past 4 years, and I’ve tried a lot of lunchboxes over the years as the kids have gotten older and their needs have changed. There are so many options out there nowadays, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly what fits your needs until you’ve been packing lunches for a little while. The most important factors to consider are: 1) how much does your child eat, 2) what type of lunches do you pack (bento vs. sandwiches for example), 3) what type of container do you want? (stainless steel, plastic, weight, ease of use, etc.), and 4) how many different pieces do you want to deal with.

Because Mr. Bee and I are Japanese and Korean and bentos are part of our culture, it’s something that our kids have grown up with. Since Charlie and Olive can be particular about what they eat, bento-style lunches have really encouraged them to not only eat more, but eat more variety.

Below I’ve rounded up 20 of my favorite lunch boxes starting from $7 and up!

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Eczema, allergies, and what’s worked for our family

I don’t know exactly how or why this happened, but in the past few years our entire family has unfortunately been forced to become experts on dealing with eczema and allergies.

Our oldest daughter HJ has definitely had it the worst, suffering from constant eczema since she was an infant, seasonal allergies, and food allergies to peanut, soy, and beans. My husband has always had eczema as well, and contact allergies to fragrances and certain types of detergent and soap. My younger daughter also has eczema, but thankfully, no food allergies or other skin sensitivities so far. And at one point in my late twenties/early thirties, I discovered that I was also allergic to most fragrances and metals (such as nickel, silver, and copper – meaning that I can’t wear most jewelry).

If you come over to our house, you’ll see that we only use Tide Free detergent, fragrance-free soap and shampoo, and no fabric softener. Fortunately, HJ has grown out of a lot of the eczema she had when she was younger, and we’ve finally seemed to find a way to manage it from getting any worse. She has also miraculously grown out of her food allergies – I have never been more relieved than when the allergist told me after a comprehensive food challenge test that we didn’t need to carry that epi-pen with us everywhere.

But getting back to the eczema, these are a few of the things that we’ve found that have worked for our family. Obviously, every individual will be unique, but if you or your child are desperate for relief from all the itching and discomfort that comes with eczema, I hope some of these basic suggestions will offer some help!

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Gift for the new Big Sister

As Little Deer grows closer and closer towards becoming a big sister, I’ve been thinking more about getting her a big sister present from the new baby. She’ll be just shy of 22 months old when her little sister is born, so she’s still pretty young and oblivious to it all. I posed a question on the boards a week or so ago and got some good ideas. There was already a little backpack that I had been wanting to get for her, so I thought this could be a fun excuse to buy it. Rather than a box or a gift bag to open, I’m going to fill the backpack up with some goodies. My plan is to bring it with us to the hospital, and after she’s met baby sister and had a few snuggles, we’ll give it to her. I think the gift will be  a good mix of special items, treats, as well as fun activities to keep her busy at Grandma’s house.

Skip Hop Bee Backpack - Little Deer’s been toting around a little purse for a while now and I thought it could be fun to get her a little backpack. Her purse really only holds a few small toys, but with a backpack we’ll be able to actually bring snacks and books with us on outings rather than just stuffing everything in my diaper bag. I think this will come in handy with trips over to Grandma’s house as well as for preschool when she turns two. And she loves pointing out bumble bees in stories and yelling, “beeeeee!” so I imagine this one will be a hit.

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