Happy Blogiversary in Beijing

你好!Ni hao (hello)! I made it to one year! I celebrated my blog’s anniversary just as I touched down in Beijing, China. Enjoy the photos for now…I’m still waking from my Beijing dream 北京梦想. When I’m not ridden with jet lag, I hope to write some reflections down.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Advertisement

Turon Saba Recipe for Tuesday

Filipino food

Filipino food, except for chicken adobo, has been absent from my family dinner table for far too long. A few weeks ago I made chicken adobo, lumpia Shanghai, and turon saba! Turon saba is essentially a plantain rolled into a spring roll wrapper and fried in sugar. I had only tried making turon saba once before without a recipe, so this time I googled a recipe and the result was fantastic! (The turon pictured here is without jackfruit). I’m so excited to make them again this weekend for friends. If you’re in Chapel Hill, come on over!

Top Ten Things to do in (or around) Chapel Hill

I can’t believe June is almost over! Here is my top ten list of things to do in or around Chapel Hill with your family:

  1. Rent a boat and go boating on University Lake
  2. Eat ice cream at Maple View Farm Country Store
  3. Visit Carrboro’s Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning
  4. Find a family-friendly eatery on Franklin Street: Al’s Burger Shack, Buns, Mellow Mushroom, Jasmin, Mediterranean Deli
  5. Visit the Chapel Hill Public Library for movies and reading hours
  6. Mark your calendar for the Paperhand Puppet Intervention puppet shows
  7. Check out Kidzu, an indoor kid’s play museum with a new outdoor learning garden that just opened!
  8. Sign up for swimming lessons through UNC Chapel Hill
  9. Visit the Morehead Planetarium
  10. Visit the rose garden near the Chapel Hill Community Center and walk on a short trail or play on the playground.

Tips for Preparing your Tot for a Move

pool“It’s messy!” my son exclaimed when he saw the tiniest piece of tissue on his car seat this morning. Last night, when I was talking with another set of parents, the father mentioned that when the child wants something done a certain way, it’s because the child’s world is so small, a child tries to control it and have it exactly his/her ‘way’.

We recently moved to a new apartment in our town, and I have to admit it was a huge undertaking. The rental truck company told us the day before our move that they did not have a truck for us. In the end, we rented from a different company. And thankfully, several friends and family came to help us pack up, load, and unload…for four days! I can’t imagine what it’s like to move a multi-room household!

While we couldn’t prepare for last-minute changes, we did our best to try and prepare our son for the move for his own emotional well-being. Here are some suggestions that we found worked:

  • Have your child pack a box and allow him to open it at the new place (thanks to my co-worker’s suggestion)
  • Continue to repeat that you’re moving to a new home in a few days
  • Allow your child to say ‘goodbye’ to the old home (good suggestion, Daddy!)

What surprised us the most is that a few days after our move, our son used his wooden blocks to build a ‘new home’ for his stuffed penguin. We also pointed out the benefits to the new home: a turtle pond, a balcony, and the swimming pool! When we arrived to our new apartment one afternoon after work/daycare, Lucas said ‘I don’t want this one, I want the other one.’ He probably meant ‘I don’t want this ‘home,’ I want the other ‘home.’ I spoke to him, reassuring him that we no longer lived at the old home, but at this new one. Then I told him we could either go play on the balcony inside or see the turtles outside. He replied that he wanted to go play inside.

That tiny piece of tissue on my son’s car seat represents something that’s out-of-order to him; it’s something that’s not supposed to be there. Whether it’s getting into a car seat or changing apartments, transitions are tough on little ones. Sometimes the little things matter when you are going through a big change, and it helps to practice patience when dealing with them. Believe me, I know! I could have totally told him to just sit in his car seat and not worry about the tissue (I would have done this 9 out 10 times), but this morning I had a little more patience and made sure his car seat was cleaned just the way he wanted, which helped us get on our merry way!!!

Balance, Strength, and Resilience

Coker photo.jpg

I can still remember waking up really early during grade school so that my mom could give my brother and me to our nanny in order to catch a bus to the city (NYC). Or, I can still see my father standing on the foyer in his winter coat and cap, me in the kitchen preparing a sandwich, running down the stairs to hand off to him before he left for a night shift. Or, as we got older, how my mom and dad struggled every day to make it home after an hour plus commute to watch one of my track races, drive me to dance class, or watch one of my plays.

After commuting to-and-from work for a mere 30-45 minutes a day with a 2-year-old in my backseat, I ask myself this question nearly every day: “How did my parents do it?” Sometimes when I get home it takes me over an hour (yes, you read that right) to decompress before I return to my normal self. Some days I power through and have dinner on the table before 7 p.m. Other nights I curl my car around the fast food lane on the way home, thinking “This is it, I just don’t have the energy to cook, and there’s nothing wrong with fast food.”

It’s not just about how I am handling it. It’s about how are we handling it. My husband is a PhD student and I work full time. Fortunately my husband and I both partake in household responsibilities, but at times it can feel imbalanced. This past January, in the middle of my post-Christmas wintry blues, I found myself struggling, not just physically but mentally. And usually I’m good mentally. I mean, there isn’t anything a little shopping therapy can’t fix, right? Wrong. I needed help and set out to find it.

My husband and I changed a few things. First off, my husband started doing more pick-up and drop-off. Since my son’s daycare is close to my work, I just assumed that I would be doing it every day. I think one of the valuable lessons I learned is that with anything involving our son, my husband and I should talk it through. When I brought it up to my husband, we agreed that he would start taking Lucas to school up to two times a week (if Bill Gates can do it, so can you!). Even though it’s been only a few weeks, it’s made a big difference.

And I should stress my point about talking things through and being direct about it—things that I’m not very good at. I am slowly learning to open conversations, trying not to let my emotions overtake a conversation, and also trying to listen, really listen (I know that one is easy to say but hard to do).

I don’t know how my parents juggled everything, but I do know this—they did so much for my brother and me out of love, a love that is generous and faithful, a love that stands by in the midst of difficulty, a love that teaches strength and resilience.

I find myself trying to be there for my husband and son as my parents were for me. As we are working on balancing responsibilities, we are facing these questions: How can I love generously and faithfully? How can I love in the midst of difficulty? How can I love in order to build strength and resilience?

What are some of the questions you find yourself asking as a parent trying to balance responsibilities or childcare?

Brunching in Cary

Bread, runny eggs, pastries. Whether you want salty or savory for brunch, La Farm Bakery has them both. This past weekend my husband and I drove to Cary to try this NC Blogger Network recommendation. La Farm is so successful that the line was out the door for most of the morning. My husband ordered the special, crab cake Benedict, and I ordered a croissant and eggs Florentine. The photos will do the talking…our selections were terrific, mine just needed a dash or two more of salt. While our carb-lover son missed out and napped the entire time, my husband and I were able eat at a normal pace and sip our cappuccino and latte like the good ole’ days. I’m not sure this is the best place to take your little one (we were lucky he was asleep in his stroller, which we squeezed between two tables). It’s the perfect place for a date with a friend or partner, and perhaps one or two more friends. Coming here makes me wonder what sitting in a bakery in France feels like…I can still dream, right?