Mom Life Sleep Thankful


We never sleep trained our 3yo but finally started to teach her to sleep on her own using the method taught in The Happy Sleeper book. Now we no longer lay next to her until she falls asleep (yay!); we check in on her in 1,2,3,5,10 minute increments at her door. My husband is usually in charge of her sleep but tonight I decided to try it for the first time. He warned me, “she will ask you to lay with her, don’t do it” and I was like yeah sure of course. After the 5 min check in my daughter goes “mommy? You need to come closer to me…because I love you.” 🥺🥺🥺 how do you say no to that? Lol. I said, “ok baby I’m going to brush my teeth.” She goes, “okay, go quickly mommy!”

I brushed and by the time I was out, she was asleep. Not sure if I was happy she fell asleep on her own, or disappointed I didn’t get to cuddle. 🤔

Mom Life Thankful

Olivia, Age 3

Sometimes I forget that Olivia is only three years old. I am really grateful to have Olivia as our first child because I can tell she’s going to be a really good big sister and set great examples for her siblings. Daniel and I are trying very hard to make sure we raise thoughtful, kind, and resourceful humans who care and make use of their brains. Here are two examples from this weekend-

  • We gave a monetary gift to Olivia’s teacher for Christmas. At drop-off the other day, the teacher gave us a present for Olivia, because she said she really appreciated our gift. It was totally not necessary for her to do that, but we appreciate it. I tried to teach Olivia gratitude by letting her know she should thank her teacher on Monday and why. I started listing the effort that her teacher put in to getting this gift into Olivia’s hands- she spent the time to ponder what Olivia would like, she took time to shop for the gift, she spent the money to buy the actual present, she brought the gift with her to school so she could give it to us. Olivia added, “and she took the time to wrap it!” which made me smile since I didn’t even think of that myself, and it showed that Olivia understood what I was trying to teach her. Gratitude and manners are important, but I also want Olivia to understand that products do not just magically appear out of nowhere. I am not a fan of too much stuff, so I want to make sure my children understand the cost of materialism. While Olivia’s too young for me to go on a tirade about environmental impact, I like to think I’m building a strong foundation for her to think deeper and to care about the world around her.
  • This morning Chloe coughed. Olivia stepped away from what she was working on (her beloved marble run), went over to Chloe, asked “Chloe, are you okay?” and then patted her on the back to help ease the cough. I loved how this sequence of events unfolded so naturally in front of me. Kudos to Daniel as he taught Olivia to ask “are you okay?” if someone is hurt. I don’t know who taught Olivia to pat someone on the back if they’re coughing- maybe she picked that up as that’s what we do for her. It is so heartwarming to see my little baby grow into a strong girl who definitely uses her brain to think for herself.

Since Chloe’s arrival, while Daniel and I try to give both babies as much of our time as possible, naturally we’ve split parenting duties so that I’m the primary caregiver (and food source) for Chloe while he looks after Olivia. He texted me last night-

I assume he means she’s independent because Olivia is able to hang out by herself and give him some alone time. She’s a fan of making arts and crafts by herself, coloring worksheets, and cutting up worksheets. Tonight while I went to put Chloe to sleep, Daniel made his dinner, and Olivia did her own thing. When I went to clean up her table as Daniel put her to bed, I was pleasantly surprised to see what she had been working on, all by herself-

While Olivia might not have understood the character she was writing, I appreciate her practicing her tracing and taking the initiative to work on something like this herself without asking for our help. Daniel was looking at photos of Olivia when she was two and it’s just crazy how much she’s grown in the last year and a half. I am excited to be part of Olivia’s journey and for the privilege of watching her grow up. Knowing what we know now about Olivia’s development, it’s also exciting to think of what’s coming for Chloe. So many fun things to look forward to!

Mom Life

You Know You’re a Modern Asian Mom

…when you thoroughly enjoy discussing elementary school options with another mom, though both your daughters are only 3 and aren’t even eligible to apply for kindergarten yet 😂 .

In seriousness, it’s so refreshing to have a buddy who’s on the same wavelength as you when it comes to education for our children. It’s another mom from Olivia’s Montessori school, whose daughter is one of Olivia’s favorite friends in her class. I’m kind of nervous for next year, when we will start applying for kindergarten, since there are so many options and I don’t want to “screw” anything up for Olivia. Thus, it’s so nice to have someone to ping who will be going through the same thing and share similar values with me on education.

The funny thing is that our lives are also very similar – she and her husband met in high school, did long distance, and they also have two kids with the same age gap as Olivia and Chloe (3 years, 2 months). Who says you can’t make friends in your 30s?

Mom Life Thankful

Going Back to Work after a 4 Month Maternity Leave

Today is the day I officially return to work. It’s cold and rainy out, so I’m extra grateful that returning back to work consists of me turning on my work laptop in my office as opposed to the personal laptop I’ve been working off the last 4 months.

Sometimes I think I manifested this type of work environment because in my 20s I never saw myself working the traditional corporate life after I had kids. In fact, when I was pregnant with our first child, Daniel and I both left the workforce because we both wanted to spend more time with our baby, not stuck in hour-long commutes each way or being forced to make small talk with colleagues. Back in 2019, neither of us were in tech and remote work was not an option (though perhaps we should’ve/could’ve looked harder to make it happen), so in our minds, our only option was to quit and figure it out later.

Even though we absolutely relished the break we got to take, and the ultimate gift of time and freedom we had in the first year and half (me) to two and a half years (Daniel) of Olivia’s life, it wouldn’t be practical to do it every time we have a baby since it would derail our plans to provide a secure financial future for the entire family. I feel very fortunate that with Chloe, I’ve had four months of paid leave plus two additional PTO weeks. Even though I still believe maternity leave should be a year long like in Canada, I know what I have is considered very good for the States. While I definitely would not have been ready to start commuting to an office again, I don’t mind the few steps I have to take to reach my office and sign into a computer.

Chloe just turned 4 months, so we are still working on getting her on a nap schedule. She has a slight cold from her sister’s daycare germs, so that’s a bummer but it is very manageable with the combination of my mom being here to help and both Daniel and I working from home. So before I get back to work I just want to take a moment to mentally relive the last four months and truly appreciate the time to focus on baby Chloe. It’s been tiring but so much fun. I love my girls so much!!

Mom Life

A New Chapter

We finally closed on our Forest Hills apartment today, yay!

Many lessons learned, and we are lucky to be able to afford the tuition. It’s inspired us to be more proactive with our personal finances, and not make the mistake of being stuck in comfort.

As they say, the comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Next week I’ll be going back to work, and I am so thankful that my mom is here to help with Chloe. Olivia also enjoys playing with my mom, so it’s definitely nice for her to have grandma around. Childcare is such a big stressor for parents- really cannot express enough how grateful I am that my mom agreed to try to help us.

Finally, I’m currently engrossed by The Premonition by Michael Lewis. It’s such an incredible (true) story about the efforts of some seriously smart people in the medical field who understood pandemics and tried to prevent uncontrollable spread of the virus in our country. Sadly, their efforts were hampered by the CDC and politics. The book is like a beacon of hope for me, as it’ reminds me’s a reminder that there are great, brilliant people out there who genuinely care, but it’s also a little depressing to know that these people are too far and few between. Too many people, especially young kids, spend way too much time and energy on social media and TikTok nowadays. There’s nothing worst than wasting a person’s mind, potential, and time. In 2023, I hope to lead a “do better” life and keep growing in all aspects of life. Can’t wait!

Mom Life Sleep

Worry if they do, worry if they don’t

Me: Dear baby when will you be able to go to sleep on your own? Why are you fighting sleep so much when you’re tired? Are you hot? Are you cold? Pleaaaase go to sleep!

Also Me: Omg this morning she did not fight or cry when I put her down in bed, she fell asleep on her own, and now she’s been asleep for 1.5+ hours. Is she ok?? Should I wake her?!

Mom Life Sleep

No Swaddle, No Pacifier (!)

The one thing Daniel and I “screwed up” on with Olivia was her sleep. We were never able to nail down a routine with her when she was a baby, so as a toddler she still needed one of us to sleep with her. Sometimes it took up to an hour for her to sleep and back when I was doing it, I often ended up falling asleep with her instead of working on one of my many business ideas. I don’t necessarily regret this, as it was actually quite sweet to fall asleep with her after a nice end of day chat. Instead of being upset, I just figured we’ll make money later; there’s no rush. Nonetheless, we need some time at the end of the night to work on various tasks, so we knew we would need to work on Chloe’s sleep.

The last four months with Chloe have been such a great learning experience. She was a great sleeper early on in the newborn phase, which I recall Olivia was as well. It was a whole different experience though, because now we knew not to wake Chloe up, whereas with Olivia we were frazzled first time parents who worried she was sleeping too much and always woke her up to eat at the 3 hour mark. Around the 8 week mark, when sleep didn’t come as easily to Chloe, I took the Taking Cara Babies sleep course and learned so much. I bought the Ollie swaddle and it made such a difference because with Olivia, if she protested a nap, we assumed she didn’t want to sleep and gave up trying. Now that I learned to swaddle Chloe and read her sleepy cues, I realized her protest was just her fighting falling asleep, but not sleeping itself. It’s fascinating to learn that all babies know how to fall asleep, but need to feel safe enough to do so because back in our hunter-gatherer days, babies got eaten if they were left alone to sleep. The swaddle, pacifier, and Cara’s advice were super helpful for the next month and a half, but since last week Chloe’s been going through a sleep regression (from eating once a night to twice to three times last night!). She’s been showing interest in rolling as well, so I figured it was time to ditch the swaddle.

Since Olivia was not a swaddle baby, I didn’t really know how to transition out of the swaddle, but I had occasionally practiced putting Chloe down for naps without it, so I knew she was capable. I officially transitioned her to her sleep sack two nights ago and she has been fine with it. She had been very squirmy in her swaddle in the last days so I’m sure she’s happy to be out of it too. What surprised me tonight was that Chloe didn’t even need her pacifier tonight to go to sleep.

Last week I ready a book called The Happy Sleeper and it taught me the sleep wave method. I was planning to do that with Chloe when she turns 5 months, but if she’s able to keep up her current sleeping skills, I might not have to! For tonight, we just did our typical bedtime routine of eat, change diapers, change into PJs, warm towel wipe down, a song, and then put on the sleep sack. I put Chloe down in her crib and tried to give her the pacifier, but she didn’t want it. I left the room after saying good night and hung out in my office next door. Usually I have to go in once, twice, or a couple of times before she falls asleep to replace the pacifier. Tonight I just listened for an actual cry (she was whining a bit) but it never came. I learned from the book to trust my baby can self soothe and to give her time and space to learn to do it, and I’m really glad it worked, at least for tonight.

Being a second time mom is really interesting because I have perspective from my experience with Olivia. I’ve learned to discern my baby’s cries instead of being anti- any type of crying at all. I feel terrible for messing up Olivia’s sleep, but she has been doing so much better this week too, after I told my husband about the reverse sleep wave method the book suggested to help mitigate sleep issues with a toddler. As of this week Olivia no longer needs him to lay next to her to sleep (!) and it takes her about 20 minutes of alone time to fall asleep. I am so proud of her, so grateful for The Happy Sleeper book, so grateful for the newsletter that recommended that book to me, and thankful for Chloe as well, because we never would have been pushed to improve our sleep game if not for the necessity as a family of four.

Mom Life

The Sweetest Morning

Chloe has started to consistently wake up by 7AM. Olivia usually wakes up between 7:30-8AM. This morning I was in the bathroom getting a towel ready for Chloe when Olivia came out of her bedroom, came in to hug me, flashed a big smile, said good morning, then proceeded to turn around and run down the hallway to greet her baby sister who was sitting in her bouncer. Olivia plopped down next to the bouncer and started chatting away to the baby. Chloe looked at her sister and kept smiling. I melted.

Mom Life

The Three-Year Age Gap

When Olivia was a baby, I remember well-intentioned family members asking us when we were going to have another one. There’s no way they could’ve known, but I was actually pretty surprised that we were lucky enough to conceive Olivia in just one cycle on Clomid. Growing up, all the Chinese fortune tellers told my mom and I that I would have trouble conceiving because my uterus was too cold. I never truly believed them, but I did harbor uneasy thoughts about my fertility in the back of my mind.

“Not anytime soon,” I’d respond. “I want to wait until Olivia is at least 3 years old so she can help take care of the baby!” Although I absolutely meant the part about wanting Olivia to help out with her sibling, we started trying for #2 when Olivia was about a year and a half. Good thing we did, because we ended up taking a year and many rounds of Letrozole to conceive Chloe.

Initially, I was worried about the age gap between Olivia and Chloe. However, now that Chloe is actually here and I’ve been able to see the two interact, I have to say that this 3 year gap is pretty perfect for our family. As Daniel and I like to (and have to) handle most of the childcare ourselves, we are not built to be a 2 under 2 family. Olivia has always been a big helper- we joke that her motto is “我幫你, 我幫你 (I help you, I help you)” because she always want to help, whether it’s cooking, helping her daddy make coffee, or helping pack orders for bobagreen. I am so happy and relieved that she is the same, if not more so due to her being a protective big sister, with Chloe.

At three years old, Olivia loves to do what she can on her own (getting dressed, eating, even brushing her teeth), she can express her feelings with words and be reasoned with through tantrums, and has her own life going on at Montessori school. She has not expressed any jealousy towards Chloe, something I was once quite worried about because Olivia had our undivided attention for three full years, and I think that has a lot to do with Chloe not really changing Olivia’s routines, along with us telling Olivia she was going to get a sibling when I was very early in my pregnancy. She had been expecting Chloe, and it truly warms my heart to see Olivia be so welcoming to the new addition to our family. Olivia loves to help with Chloe’s diaper changes by setting up the wee wee pad and grabbing the diapers and wipes. She loves to help us watch her baby sister. She loves to just sit near Chloe and talk to her. It’s really adorable to see her have full (one-sided) conversations with Chloe. She loves to tell her sister all the things she’ll share with her in the future- clothes, snacks, games, toys, etc. Olivia as a big sister is everything I could’ve asked for and more.

Had we had Chloe earlier, Olivia most likely would still be as awesome of a big sis as she is today, but it might have been a bumpier transition. I feel like Olivia has matured a lot in the last 6 months, starting just shortly before Chloe arrived. I love how we have been able to add Chloe to our family without upending Olivia’s schedule and routine. She still goes to Montessori five days a week, so she really only sees Chloe for a short while when she comes home during the week, and then we hang out on the weekends and usually go out to do activities as a family. To her credit, Chloe has also been doing her part in being an awesome addition to our clan- so far she’s been a really good sleeper. After hanging out with me and Daniel during the day, I am able to put Chloe down at 7PM and then go downstairs to chill with Olivia and catch up on her day. Now that Chloe’s almost exiting the fourth trimester, she’s more alert and into her surroundings. She lights up when she sees me, Daniel, and especially Olivia. I think she can sense how much her big sister loves her so she reciprocates. It will definitely be interesting to see these two grow up together, bond, and share countless memories together. I feel so lucky to have been able to gift my daughters each a best friend in each other. I know a lot of people wanted us to have a boy after having Olivia so we could have the “perfect” nuclear family, but I honestly would not change a thing. Chloe makes our family feel more full, and she has made our family better in so many ways, particularly in the sleep department. I can’t thank her enough for being here and being our daughter and Olivia’s sister. ❤️

Mom Life

A Random Awesome Saturday

TL;DR – Daniel and I didn’t have a plan for today until around 10AM, but everything turned out really well and I’m all for fun happenstances.

This week went by really fast, and it certainly feels like the final stretch of my maternity leave as my to do list keeps growing and Daniel and I have to finalize a “plan” for child care once I am back at work. “Plan” is in quotation marks because we’re going to try to have my mom help, but she’s a bit rusty and unsure of herself, which makes me a little nervous for my 4-month old- though it certainly helps that both Daniel and I will not be too far away.

We’ve settled on somewhat of a routine as a family of four (which I fully expect to change as Chloe keeps growing and we adjust to her developments)- Monday to Friday, Olivia goes to school, I’m with Chloe, and Daniel helps out with the baby when he can. Unlike our experience with Olivia at this age, where we couldn’t stick to a routine and every day felt different because we didn’t really know what we were doing, I do feel like we’re in a good groove with Chloe. I follow EASY – eat, activity, sleep, and your time – for each 3 hour cycle during the day. Per The Happy Sleeper, I try to put Chloe down to sleep at the 75-minute mark so she could be asleep at the end of her 90-minute wake window. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and if she wakes up early from a nap we usually have to wear her, but I feel a lot more confident about being able to recognize sleepy cues, how to put baby to sleep, and how to work through her protests. Chloe and I stay in a lot because I like being able to put her down in bed for her naps as opposed to having her fall asleep in the stroller. The one time we went out this week was to the library, which was nice because it was 55 degrees out that day, but generally it’s too chilly in New York in December. So on weekdays, my day is usually to wake up at 7AM, go through four 3hr cycles with Chloe, and in between I try to get some work done, read, and check in on Olivia through the photos and videos her school sends. My husband and I check in with each other whenever he’s not in a meeting, talk about Olivia’s school pictures, and he plays with Chloe, mostly by making her laugh. Towards the end of the day, my husband picks up Olivia from school, and Olivia gets about an hour of overlap time with her sister before I have to put Chloe to bed. During that hour, Daniel cooks. Then I do my bedtime routine with Chloe, put her to down in her crib, and join Daniel and Olivia to eat dinner, though they’re usually finished by then. We have a little bit of family time and then Daniel takes Olivia upstairs to sleep while I do dishes and have some alone time (like right now, where I get to type out this blog post). Finally, I try to sleep by 10PM and then the next day we do it all again.

Weekends are much more unstructured in terms of activities we do with Olivia, but it’s truly so nice to have full family time on the weekends since Olivia spends a lot of time at school. I love how mature Olivia has become- even though I initially wanted a smaller age gap between Olivia and Chloe, what we have now is absolutely perfect because there’s no jealousy, Olivia kind of has her own life with her school friends and teachers, Olivia understands and follows instructions really well, and she loves to help out with her baby sister. On weekends we like to go out because we love sharing experiences with Olivia and making new memories together that way. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or fancy, and it’s even better when it’s free. Last week, we went to a tree lighting at a local plant nursery and then had the most amazing home-cooked dinner at my mother-in-law’s house. This weekend, one of Olivia’s classmates’ mom invited us to join them at a children’s museum that just reopened, but the tickets were free and sold out before I got to it. So as of Friday night we did not have a clear idea of what we would be doing, but I ended up finding a Winter Festival happening nearby and I sent it to Daniel before I went to bed.

This morning, we decided we would take advantage of a Seamless promotion to order takeout for lunch, then head to the Winter Festival. Unfortunately, we were unable to find parking at the event, so we decided to skip it as Olivia said she wanted to go to the library, and I found a library nearby. I stayed with Olivia at the library while Daniel took a sleeping Chloe on a stroll. Olivia and I found a puzzle at the library so we started working on it when I heard a very familiar voice. Lois, who ran the daycare center where Daniel and I met, just happened to be looking for books at her local library, and I was able to catch up with her. Olivia’s first school experience was actually at Lois’s school when she was 2 years old, but Olivia was so shy and totally seems to have forgotten her time there already (so crazy! That was just last year!). It was really nice to chat with Lois, then Daniel came back with Chloe and she was able to meet the baby. We had an interesting conversation with Lois about school options for Olivia, because we are looking to get Olivia into a dual language program, and she warned us about needing to be able to help her out with homework. We hadn’t consider that before, and it doesn’t change our minds about the program, but it’s very good to know that we will also need to work on English with her so she doesn’t fall behind.

After the library, we stopped by Bibble & Sip, which just opened an outpost in the area last month. Bibble & Sip is a bakery that makes delicious cream puffs and other goodies with Asian inspired flavors. I used to work around the block from the one in the city, and I once met my friend Cindy there as she was telling me how great it’d be for me to work at her company, Juniper Square. Random fun fact- my sister-in-law was going to purchase the house that Bibble & Sip’s owners lived in (she surmised it was their house from the company products she saw in the basement). I bought a matcha chocolate chip scone, matcha white chocolate cream puff, and earl grey cream puff, and we took a quick drive to my mother-in-law’s house to snack, and also for me to feed Chloe. No one was home so we just chilled for a bit. Chloe started getting restless an hour after she woke up, so I held her to sleep in the family room and Daniel hung out with Olivia in the living room. They found a Netflix show based on one of Olivia’s favorite books lately- Go, Dog. Go! which was a fun coincidence. I felt really good about being able to put Chloe to sleep rather quickly and without too much drama. Even though I was holding her to sleep (since it was her last nap of the day and I knew it wouldn’t be long, plus we were not home), I felt like we did the sleep dance really well as Chloe only had to “tell” me she was tired (by crying) once, I knew what she wanted, and when I held her with the pacifier she closed her eyes very quickly and fell asleep. Definitely patting myself on the back here for being in sync on communication with my baby.

Before we left, my mother-in-law actually came home, so it was nice to say hi and let her know we were coming back the next day. At the library I learned there was a (free) craft event happening 2 minutes away from my MIL’s house tomorrow, so we are going to do that, and we wanted to discuss our upcoming cooking channel with her as well.

We got home at a good time as I like to have Chloe in bed by 7PM. I fed her, we did our bedtime routine, and I put her down in her crib. I know they say babies love routines, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy it too. Just so nice not to have to think much and still have the outcome happen as expected. Tonight was actually really interesting because typically I put Chloe down and then have to go back into her room to replace the pacifier a couple of times before she falls asleep, but tonight, she actually put herself to sleep without the pacifier (!!). I paid attention to the type of noises she was making, as I’ve learned not to help unless she was actually crying, and even though the pacifier had fallen out, Chloe was only whining and talking, so I left her alone and viola – she ended up sleeping without my intervention. I am so happy about this as it’s very in line with what I was reading in The Happy Sleeper. It’s almost like Chloe read my mind about what I was reading and then decided to show me she could do it. I have no idea if it’s second time mom experience, Chloe just being a good sleeper, or both, but absolutely no complaints from me!

When I came back downstairs, I let Daniel know that Chloe was very good, and he said that Olivia was very good too with her dinner. Olivia is definitely going through something where her taste buds are opening up again. We introduced solids to her by following baby led weaning, and she used to be a great eater, but as she got older she ended up only wanting rice, noodles, and chicken. She typically doesn’t eat what we eat and Daniel has to make special meals for her every night for dinner, but lately Olivia has been so receptive to different foods. After she helped me make my salad for dinner tonight, I offered her some and she actually had spinach(!). It was served with cherry tomatoes and croutons, which she likes, but I was so surprised she liked the spinach too. Again, no complaints and I hope she keeps it up!

While Olivia has been very close to being a dream child (she is thoughtful, funny, kind, smart, helpful, and listens to us for the most part; we can reason with her through her tantrums), the two things Daniel and I wish she could improve upon are her eating and sleeping habits. Sure, Daniel and I screwed up her sleep by co-sleeping and laying with her to sleep, but we thought we could talk her through better sleep habits as she got older. Last year she did have a week or so where she slept on her own, but then she got sick from school and we didn’t go back to trying to improve her sleep habits as I got pregnant and Daniel started sharing Olivia’s room because it was quite comfortable for me to get the bed to myself. Daniel’s starting to try to teach her better sleep habits now, so here’s to hoping Olivia can be influenced by Chloe’s good sleep patterns and learn to sleep on her own. My goodness, how much time we’d back!