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Easter Leftovers: Pasta with Goat Cheese, Ham, and Spring Veggies

Every year I have a dilemma at Easter. My husband and I both enjoy ham, especially Honey Baked Ham, but the smallest ham is actually quite large for just two people. We have Petit Macaron now, but he’s still rather picky at 15 months old, so he’s not helping out with ham consumption.

That means we got lots of leftovers! Ham sandwiches are awesome, but there are only so many sandwiches you can eat. I froze some of the ham, but needed to come up with some other ham dishes. I also had some asparagus and peas hanging out in the refrigerator, so I decided a pasta would be perfect.

Oh man, I’m so glad I made this pasta. I worried that the sweetest of the ham might be weird, but it all came together so nicely. We loved it so much that I just had to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Gender Preferences

It seems to be a bit taboo to admit that you were hoping for a particular gender, or sad about discovering that your baby was not what you were expecting. I don’t think dealing with very real human emotions are ever wrong. It is normal to have a vision in your head and it is normal to be thrown off when that vision gets altered. At one gender reveal that I attended, the mother to be burst into sad tears at discovering that she was having another boy. The following is my particular gender revealing journey. And a very real glimpse into how much my particular personality lends itself to unnecessary panic and worry at every opportunity.

When my husband and I were dating, way way way long ago in high school(!) we would talk about where we saw ourselves in 5, 10 years. The conversations always led to kids and talk on what we would have. I come from a family that through second marriages, led me to being the oldest of 7 children. My husband is the youngest of 2. I have sisters and brothers and a ton of cousins, my husband has one brother and only a few cousins, the closest ones being all male. As you may have guessed, there were some gender preferences involved in our discussions of future children. My husband having grown up with virtually no girls, was terrified of a houseful of girls, despite the fact that he is so good with emotional women (like me). Because of “the fear” we became convinced that we would end up with a houseful of girls.

I was terrified of having a girl, especially of having a girl first. I am a bossy, know-it-all, first born that has over mothered each and every one of my siblings. I have struggled with finding my identity and value in a world that has told me that I could be anything, but what I heard was that I should be everything. The idea of teaching a daughter how to be wholly herself, while still struggling with being wholly myself is incomprehensible. How to tell my daughter that she is beautiful while still expressing that she is worth so much more than that?

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11 month and 10 month update

Oh my, I don’t understand where the time goes. The days are flying by with the girls and they are now 11 months and 10 months old. Here in Chicago, the weather has been improving and it is definitely feeling like spring and it is lifting everyone’s moods, including Lilly and Audrey’s!

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Physical

Both girls are crawling a great deal. Within the past couple of weeks, Lilly finally got the hang of traditional crawling and has upgraded from her army crawl. But I still would say that she’s 50/50 traditionally crawling/army crawling. She is more likely to crawl traditionally on carpeted surfaces or outside on the grass and my hunch is that she doesn’t like to hurt her knees by crawling on our wood floors.

Both girls are on the move
Both girls are on the move

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Did you change your name when you got married?

The decision to marry Mr. Ice Cream was an easy one. The idea of getting old together was a natural and comforting thought. So I was a little surprised at how anxious I felt when the conversation came up to change my name. I’ve always loved my independence, but I also love the idea of a name unifying a family. After doing a little googling I found that the practice of women keeping their last names was first introduced in the US by suffragette Lucy Stone in the 1850s. That trend toward women keeping their maiden names after marriage peaked in the 1990s, when about 23% of women did so. Nowadays, although the decision continues to spark some debate, research shows more women are taking their new husbands’ names. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality, by the 2000s only 18 percent of women were keeping their names[1]. Among the many factors that guide the decision, one study reported that women who married when they were 35-39 years old were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who married between the ages of 20-24.

I was 30 when I got married and in the end I decided to change my name. I moved my last name to my middle name and took Mr. Ice Cream’s last name. Since the email address I was using at the time contained my last name, the name change required an email change as well. Even though it has been almost 3 years since I made the change it still causes confusion for a couple of reasons. The first being, you have no idea how many things you have linked to your name/email address! At the time I thought I was thorough in making a list and diligently going through each service/account and changing my name, but I still come across accounts where I still have my maiden name. The other challenging thing for me was that I’m a research scientist and have publications under my maiden name. For that reason, professionally I decided to keep my maiden name. This was more complicated than I thought because I still had to formally change my name at my job. This means I regularly get asked about what my name is and how I should be called. It’s not the worst thing, but it comes up very frequently.

Another reason it was a tough decision to change my name is because I’m Asian, meaning I was born with an Asian last name. However, I married a non-Asian guy, which means that now I’m an Asian woman with a non-Asian last name. I know it’s silly but it always makes me think of that Seinfeld episode, “The Chinese Woman,” where Jerry meets a Caucasian woman named Donna Chang. It’s not to say I’ll never get used to my new name but it has taken a while to really feel like it is my name. Did anyone else feel weird when they changed their names?

Managing Expectations Halfway Through our Road Trip

We’re halfway through our slow road trip across the west coast of Canada’s big island and it’s time for a little expectation adjustment. Everyone I’ve talked to over the last few weeks tells me it’s unseasonably cold in British Columbia this spring. The Gumdrops wanted to get a little insight into what the off-season might be like just so we’d have a realistic picture of life in the region if we moved here, but we might be scaring ourselves off in the process!

If we’re airing our judgments honestly, we remember spring weather in Minnesota being nicer than most of our time here has been so far. Aside from weather, the few weeks have been difficult, between managing illness between baby and me as well as tempering expectations. This was the portion of the trip I was most looking forward to as a picture into daily life potential. We knew this before we left but you really can’t scout out a place from the other side of the planet. We did our best researching and booked a few places to try out that seemed to fit for us. We also left holes in our itinerary so we could follow leads that came up along our journey, and I’m glad we did. We are ending our two week slot on a farm south of Nanaimo tomorrow and I think I’ll breathe a sign of relief because it felt like we were doing a lot of waiting… waiting for Jujube to weather a rough flu and fever, waiting for the sun to come out, waiting for some place or activity or person that would make it feel more like a potential home.

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Expectations vs Reality in Nanaimo, BC

Things are not always what you picture them to be. We had a poor sense of scale and pictured the city of Nanaimo to be quite a bit smaller than it is in reality! More research could have been done here ahead of time, but we imagined that our farm just outside of town would still be within biking distance of a lot of amenities and it’s just not.

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Making the Transition to SAHM: A New Plan

You may remember a while ago I posted about a potential strategy that Mr. Cotton Candy and I were considering to allow me to take some time off when baby #2 is born. To recap, because I’m a freelancer, I don’t have a built-in maternity leave, so we had to get a bit creative in order to get us to a point where I could afford to take off for at least six months, and we were considering taking out a home equity line of credit in order to fund my leave. Well, I’m happy to report that we have figured out a solution that doesn’t involve going into more debt; in fact, if everything goes according to plan, we may be able to pay off our current debt in its entirety (except a mortgage). So what did we decide?

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The Cotton Candies just after we moved in to our house, about two years ago

We’re selling our house! At first I thought we were crazy. We moved into this home just two years ago. We love almost everything about it. Our location is conveniently located centrally—close enough for Mr. Cotton Candy to drive home from work and eat lunch most days. We love Little Cotton Candy’s preschool, and after almost two years there, he is well integrated and we all feel like a part of the close-knit community. We also love our neighbors, and Little Cotton Candy has made some wonderful friends in the neighborhood.

…But then we did the math. Our neighborhood is on the rise, and property taxes are going up at a super-intense rate. Just that fact alone was making it a little uncomfortable for us to stay put, especially knowing they will continue to rise for the foreseeable future until they catch up to our home’s appraised value. When you add in the fact that I was hoping to take off six months of work (or more), the numbers just weren’t adding up for us to stay here.

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Parenting tricks to get my toddler to listen while also promoting language development

I’m not exactly sure how we started using these tactics on Baby Pizza (who is no longer a baby), but we use these four methods daily and often to get her to listen to us. And while I’m not exactly sure what to think of it, Lil’ Pizza has caught on to some of our parenting tricks as well and has used it a few times to get her baby sister to comply to her.

“The stuffed animal talk”

The typical scenario:

Baby Pizza needs a diaper change but when I tell her to come, she says no and runs off. Instead of chasing her and wrestling her down to stay still for a diaper change, I get a stuffed animal and start talking like I’m the stuffed animal. It’s the strangest thing but she will almost always immediately listen. She’ll be on the opposite side of the room and once I start talking in a slightly different voice with a stuffed animal in my hand saying, “Baby Pizza, can you show me how you do a good job changing your diaper?, she will run over and lay down in front of me. Often, I’ll keep talking as the stuffed animal and ask her questions and she will respond back to the stuffed animal.

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Lil’ Pizza likes to get in on my parenting tricks for Baby Pizza.

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