Loving Lately | Post-Partum Edition

She's Charmed

My Loving Lately series is back! I haven’t been wearing much these last few weeks during my maternity leave. Not only is time limited but I am trying to soak up all the baby snuggles I can get! These few products have been keeping this new momma refreshed.

  • IT Cosmetics Confidence In An Eye Cream. Eye creams are a hard product to love. There isn’t much out there that are effective for depuffing the delicate skin around the eyes. This eye cream has been one I have actually liked in a very long time. It claims to have “drop of light technology” and ingredients like ceramides, chrysin, licorice root, avocado, squalane that work to hydrate, smooth wrinkles and dark circles. I do notice it has made my under eyes brighter and moisturized. I can’t speak on the long term anti aging properties or decreasing puffiness.
  • Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray. I wish I had brought this with me to the hospital. The aloe and rosewater helps keep me feeling refreshed and clean. Best believe that’s an amazing feeling after diaper changes and baby spit up. I spray my body as well as my face.
  • L’Oréal Lash Paradise Mascara. I am taking a break from lash extensions and ran into this new mascara. I am usually loyal to my L’Oreal Voluminous but gave into the hype. This one gives a lot volume and length and I love the wand. A little concealer and this makes me feel a little bit more awake.
  • La Roche-Posay Sunscreen. My favorite light weight sunscreen for the face. Just a layer of this before my walks with my little one. Seriously lightweight and the formula is not sticky. Good news is you can find this any drug store.
  • Tarte Rainforest of the Sea 4 in 1 Setting Mist. This setting spray is suppose to be a primer, setting spray, hydrating, and skin refresher. I think it does the hydrating and refreshing well and not so much the priming.

Newborn Essentials (0 to 3 Months) For the Practical Mom

Hi all! My favorite thing when preparing for baby was reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos on baby essentials. It can also get way too overwhelming especially when you want to give the best of everything to your little one. Really overwhelming when there are a million baby products out there. I’m finding out that babies don’t need much. But the best products are the ones that make life easier and serve multiple purposes.

As a disclaimer, every baby is different. What works for us may not work for your baby. Nonetheless, I hope this helps other moms, especially new mothers. I will continue to update this list until Leon’s 3rd month.

FTC: This post contains affiliate links in which I earn a small commission. All profits go toward maintaining my little blog :).

Baby Carrier

A baby carrier is a MUST. It holds baby close and leaves you hands free to do things around the house and even go on walks. For these reasons wraps are usually best for newborns. There are a million options out there. I tried the Boba wrap which is similar to the Solly wrap and Moby wrap. A LOT of moms swear by these but I hated them. It was too much fabric and got too hot for baby. It was also took too much to assemble and put on, not good for fussy babies. I love the Baby K’tan because it’s easy to put on. You put it on like a scarf and adjust the 2 rings appropriately. It’s lightweight and doesn’t make baby sweat like the other heavier fabric wraps. Baby K’tan has 3 options – Original, Breeze, and Active; I chose the active because it has UV protection. The only con is that you have to chose a size that fits you. This may not be an option if you also want dad to wear it as well. Also, the sizes run small so size down. Be sure to look up the sizing chart online for reference!

Sleep

Our sleeping situation for the first few months is to have baby in our room in a Pack ‘n Play (PnP). We chose this instead of those fancy bassinets so it can grow with baby. There are other options that have a better aesthetic as well but this one was very affordable. This one also has a reversible changer and napper. The changer has been a life saver for diaper changes in the middle of the night.

We love the Rock ‘n Play for naps. I keep this downstairs in the living room where we spend majority of our time. This is also a great to have for babies who have reflux because it allows them to lay at an incline. Also it has the option to rock and play music (including white noise).

We have fallen in love with the Dock A Tot and completely worth the price tag. When baby is restless we allow him to nap in here. There are a lot of safety concerns for overnight sleep and for that reason we do not use for overnight sleeping, only supervised naps. TIP: DockATot + Love to Dream Swaddle (see below) is our magic formula for sleep!

A noise machine is another essential. I can’t speak on the popular DOHM machine but this Skip Hop one does multiple things! It has multiple options for lullabies and white noise. It’s also a night light and projects stars on the ceiling. It’s perfect for our little one’s nursery.

Favorite Swaddle

There are SO many options and so many people swear by specific ones. I bought so many to try with no luck. Leon hated the ones that kept his arms at his side even as a newborn. The Love to Dream swaddles are the only ones I found with hands up. TIP: This swaddle + DockATot = perfect combo!

Nursing

Breastfeeding Pillow. No one told me breastfeeding would be a workout. My upper back and arms were so sore the first few weeks! I have both of these pillows. I keep one upstairs and one downstairs for convenience. There are pros and cons for them both. The Boppy is easy to grab and wrap around me when I’m holding baby with the other arm. It can also be used to sit baby up and I even use them for myself when I nap!  It doesn’t, however, have good back support like the Brestfriend pillow. I keep this one upstairs and it helps with late night feeds.

  • Nursing Tanks & Bras. These are the best when nursing. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on them either. This is currently all I wear and when going out I just throw a T-shirt over them.

Clothes

 

  • Zipper Onsies. Any brand will do! With a fussy baby and a dirty diaper you do not want to go through snaps and buttons.
  • Burp Cloths. You’ll need a lot of them. You can actually use anything as a burp cloths. We got a lot of flannel blankets and muslin blanket that we use.
  • Banana Bibs. Dressing boys can be just as fun as girls. Banana bibs are both useful and serve as an accessory to style baby!

 

Favorite Stores

 

  • Primary.com. I love this online store. Their clothes are so soft and I wanted more neutral colors (I got tired of baby blue real fast!).
  • Other stores that I’ve found to be affordable: Old Navy, Gap, H&M, Babies R’ Us. Nursing Tanks.

 

Luxury Items

 

  • Google home or any smart home device. We received this as a gift and a few months back before baby and surprisingly it has been very helpful especially when you’ve got your hands full. As a new mom you can imagine the billions things I google per day.

 

Fun Stuff

 

  • Camera. For obvious reasons! A good camera for cute photos and capturing memories is a plus.
  • Portable HD. To store all those baby photos and videos. My goal is to backup photos after each month.
  • Polkadot Print Shop Baby Book. Fell in love with this baby book and can’t wait to update each milestone. It’s customizable as well and you can put baby’s name on the front cover!
  • Milestone Cards. I love these! So cute to take photos documenting each week and baby’s firsts.

 

Labor & Delivery Story // Baby Leon Is Here!

She's Charmed

Photo By: Omo Photography

As most know, my pregnancy went pretty smoothly. I was so grateful that I could enjoy my first pregnancy. I loved feeling baby kick. I was so amazed that my body was growing a life and I was excited to be starting a family.

There’s this note on my phone that I wrote that I want to share. Little did we know Leon would be arriving in just 48 hours.

Dear Leon, 

I’m sitting in your nursery and folding some of your baby clothes. I’m just so excited to meet you, see you, and show you our world. God has given me another sign that everything is going to be okay. I just got an overwhelming feeling of joy and calm thinking about you and it has brought me to tears. I can hear your dad cleaning in the kitchen. He is SO excited, I can see it in his eyes. I think he’s in nesting mode too.  I know it will be a little chaotic in less than a month with your arrival. But we can’t wait to start this journey with you. 
Written July 11
Started having contractions this exact night. You were born 2 days later. 

Here’s my Labor & Delivery Story:

Beginning of my 37th week of pregnancy, I think my belly dropped. I started to have more discomfort and pressure on my pelvic bone. Other than wobbling a bit more, I felt completely fine. On the evening of July 11, 2017, I started having cramping pain and had trouble sleeping. I remember tossing and turning in bed and wondering if these were actual contractions or Braxton-Hicks. I had my weekly OB appointment the following morning, so I waited. By morning, I knew I was having contractions. It felt different. I had more pain in my lower abdomen and it radiated straight toward my back. The pain was still tolerable and contractions were not regular. I knew at the least I was in early, early labor. My OB checked me and to my surprise I was already 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. I asked if I could still go to work later that day and the doc told me yes as it may help distract me from the pain. She told me that many women are in this phase for several days and if things progressed to call.

So I went home and tried to take another nap. I was too uncomfortable. I still went into work that afternoon. The pain continued to gradually get a little worse and contraction were happening anywhere from 45 minutes to 30 minutes apart in no pattern. I knew this wasn’t a reason to panic just yet. I saw my patients and by the end of the day the pain became more and more intense to the point where I had to stop talking and breathe through them. Timing starting to be around 15 minutes to 20 minutes apart. I drove home (I know bad idea!) and had contractions in the car. I called Roger and told him I think we need to pack the hospital bag and charge the camera. I don’t think he was ready either as he was too worried about making dinner for us. I think a part of me thought I still had some time and this couldn’t happen so quickly. This being my first baby a lot of mothers don’t go this early. So our hospital bags were not packed, camera wasn’t ready, nursery was not done. The house wasn’t prepped for baby to come yet. Thank goodness we set up the car seat a few days prior. So, when I got home I started throwing things in the hospital bag and spitting out directions to Roger. At this point the pain this pain was unbearable. Contractions were happening 5-7 minutes apart. I called the OB who told me to go ahead and go to triage.

I remember getting to the hospital and asking Roger to get a wheel chair, the pain was so bad I couldn’t walk. He had some trouble with the valet guy and I thought this baby is going to come out right in front of the hospital. We walked into triage and the front desk had trouble with our long last name and getting us checked it (I wasn’t surprised). By the time I got to triage and was checked by the doctor I was already 5cm dilated. Roger and I were watching the monitor as each contraction came and I breathed through it. I don’t know how women do this naturally! I said YES to the epidural. I never passed a mucous plug and my water didn’t break. This was happening, Leon was coming. 

They finally got me into my labor and delivery room. The anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural. Thank the Lord for modern medicine! After the epidural I was more relaxed and finally was able to take a nap. I could still feel some of the strong contractions but was able to tolerate it. 2 hours later, I was 8.5cm dilated. The OB came in to break my water and speed up labor. This was around 3am. My parents finally arrived to be with us. 1.5 hours later I was fully dilated and ready to go. My nurse came in to coach me through pushing. We did some practice pushes and Leon was already coming out! The first thing the nurses saw was a full head of hair! The OB rushed in and 15 minutes of pushing later he was out!

Everyone always talks about it, but to experience that moment you get to see and hold your baby that you’ve been carrying for 9 months is hands down the most incredible feeling in the world. There was a sense of familiar; by just holding him and the sound of my voice he already knew I was his mother. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy and love. This little human was a part of me and will always will be. My life flashed forward and I could imagine all the adventures we we were going to have. I looked over at Roger and he was smiling so big. I look at him differently now and love him more than I possibly thought I could. He has come into his role as a father so endearingly that it inspires me everyday.

Leon’s Stats:
Born July 13, 2017
7 lbs and 2 oz
20 inches
So Leon now that you’re here. I am overjoyed you wanted to hang out with mom and dad sooner than later.
I can’t wait to show you our world.

Baby Bump Update: 36 weeks

I’m at the point of counting down weeks till our little one arrives! It’s hard to believe that in 4 short weeks we could be taking him home. I am in full nesting mode cleaning the house and preparing his nursery. Not too nervous yet about labor and delivery (though I’m sure that will come) but more so the challenges of breast feeding and adjusting to this new addition to our family. I cannot wait to start this journey of motherhood!

Pregnancy Symptoms

  • Swollen feet. I am hanging in there and working as long as I until my due date. Unfortunelty, this means I’m on my feet 24/7 and can’t avoid the swelling in my feet. It is worse on my right too!
  • Fatigue. Some days I have full energy and others I can lay down all day. I’m still listening to my body and resting when needed.
  • Stretch marks! I got my first one in the last 2 weeks on my lower abdomen. I’m using vitamin E, shea butter, and coconut oil everyday.
  • HOT. They weren’t joking about being pregnant in the summer, let alone in Florida! I am usually cold but being pregnant has me sweating even in the AC.
  • Migraines. They are back! I did so well in the 2nd trimester and now I am getting them every other day. It’s torture that I am so limited in what I can take to treat them.

I’ll be working hard to get his nursery prepared and start packing for the hospital in the next few weeks! So many emotions all at once. Excited to meet our little boy soon <3

 

Good Eats for a Weekend Babymoon in Washington D.C.

My husband took handle of this trip and planned our babymoon to Washington D.C. Due to recent outbreak of Zika virus, we had to skip out on the more glamourous sounding tropical vacations. When I think babymoon, I thought of lounging by the pool with belly out! It goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you go, but who your travel companions are. We also made the conscious effort to put our phones down and enjoy exploring a new city. Limited Snapping and Instagramming! It was a nice reminder before baby comes to stopping worrying about baby details and enjoy each other! This babymoon was everything I needed.

I also hit 31 weeks today! Walking around the city was doable but taking the Metro saved my feet. We visited the Smithsonian and National Air & Space Museum. We walked around the National Mall and visited the national monuments.  Little one doesn’t seem to mind all the waking either (hope he loves to travel). Oh, and apparently baby has developed taste buds by this time. Hope he enjoyed all the good food we found here in the city! Here are our recommendations:

Beef N Bread

750 6th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

This small deli in D.C’s Chinatown was at the top of our list of places to try. Our hotel was very close to Chinatown and we were able to walk a short distance after arriving into town. We got the Cali Roast Beef sandwich and split it. We regret not ordering our own!

Beef N Bread

Chaplin’s

1501 96th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

We’re always in search of good Japanese ramen. Chef Myo Htun’s ramen, “The Chaplin”,  did not disappoint! The pork/chicken shumai was amazing as well as the chicken katsu curry. Roger was also just in time for happy hour and enjoyed a nice diner beer. Baby Chan is craving a lot more sweets than I am used to. My matcha ice cream got a lot of stares from other guests, haha!

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

A Baked Joint

440 K Street NW Washington, DC 20001

Our favorite brunch spot and also in walking distance from our hotel. Roger always gets the cold brew coffee wherever we go and he loved the biscuit sammie. I enjoyed smoked salmon with fried capers! If we are ever back in the area we are most definitely going back!

A Baked Joint

Bon Chon

1015 Half Street SE Washington, DC 20003

Crispy, sweet, AND spicy Korean style chicken wings… all of my favorite things in one. Bon Chon has several locations around the nation but none close to home. We stopped by for lunch and killed 20 wings between both of us! We went during a Nationals baseball game, so not much of a crowd too.

The Dabney

112 Blagden Aly NW Washington, DC 20001 

This little gem was our fancy dinning splurge. We were walking back from Chaplin’s when we noticed the restaurant lights. This was one restaurant we didn’t plan on going to but found it to be a really special experience. The restaurant is tucked away in Blagden Alley. We loved the ambiance and enjoyed watching the chef at work in their open kitchen and wood fire oven. Every small plate we got was packed with flavor and we were in heaven trying new dishes. I think it reminded Roger and me of our spontaneity and adventurous spirit that we love about each other. Who knew food could do that right?!

The Danny

You know dinner is going to be good when the Ciabatta bread and their own whipped butter is tastes amazing!

Seared Scallops is always my jam. Indulging in seafood is always a treat. The Dabney

Loved the flavors of their Autumn Olive Pork with roasted strawberries.The Dabney

Soft Shell Crab is always a hit or miss for me but they prepared this dish so nicely!The Dabney

Of coarse we had to get dessert!! Delicious bourbon ice-cream :P.The Dabney

Busboys & Poets

2021 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009

Before heading home on Memorial Day we stopped by one more brunch spot. I had the sweet potato, kale, and poached egg with rice and a small latte (less than 250mg of caffeine don’t worry!).

Overall a relaxing mini-vacation with filled bellies (for me x2!). Hoping for a smooth 2 month prep before our little one arrives!

 

Pregnancy Journaling & Maternity Pants


I knew I wanted to write down my thoughts and keep track of how I was feeling throughout my pregnancy. I found this beautiful journal and have fallen in love with it: Expecting You – A Keepsake Pregnancy Journal. It has prompts every month of your pregnancy as well as a lot of space for free writing. Writing down how I’m feeling, what I’m feeling, and keeping track of baby’s progress has kept be grounded!

Buying maternity pants is like a rite of passage into motherhood. I finally gave in. I gave in and bought maternity pants and it feels amazing! At the start of my pregnancy, I thought I could get away with wearing the belly band and dresses. And the thought of buying maternity pants and wearing them for only a short period of time annoyed me.  But as baby grows and as my belly grows, my regular pants were simply not comfortable!

My second trimester has been smooth and I am embracing pregnancy as much as I can. I am grateful that baby is growing and healthy. No food aversions, no morning sickness, and I am definitely eating for two! I am allowing myself to be present in this pregnancy and enjoying all the changes and challenges.

Pregnancy has taught me:

  • To listen to my body. When I’m tired I rest or nap. Sounds like common sense, but I’m on constant productivity mode that it makes it hard for me to relax.
  • To spend QT with my husband. There’s going to be a big change in the house soon and we are soon going to be a family of three! Quiet nights alone with my husband will soon be no more!
  • Be present & enjoy my pregnancy. Those baby kicks, I just can’t get enough! I love knowing that he is growing in my belly. I love knowing that he’s so close to me. I can’t wait to meet him but I want to soak in the pregnancy experience as much as I can (including the back pain and heartburn!).
  • That being a mother is going to be the ultimate life change. This feels different than past life events like starting my career, getting married, buying a house. I have never wanted anything so bad than to start a family and at the same time I am a nervous wreck on the inside!

Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto Travel Guide Part II

Kyoto Travel Guide | She's Charmed Blog

Osaka was our home base for the first week of our Japan trip. For the next 2 days we took day trips to Kyoto. If you missed the first post about Kyoto, click here. Again, the best way to get around Kyoto is to buy the local bus pass at Kyoto Station.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

The second day of Kyoto we spent almost the entire day at the Fushimi Inari (Inari = Shinto God of Rice) Shrine. I say this is a must when in Kyoto, Japan and probably our favorite landmark we visited! The Shrine is known for it’s thousand vermillion tori gates. We did the entire hike which took about 3 hours, but so worth it! As you get closer to the top of the mountain there less people, beautiful views overlooking Kyoto, local shops and restaurants, and multiple smaller shrines.

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

Foxes are known to be messengers to Inari, God of Rice

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

View overlooking Kyoto. There are food vendors and Roger enjoyed a refreshing Japanese beer!

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

We reached the top!

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

Highly recommend walking the entire hike. The top of the mountain had the best views.

Fushimi Inari Shrine | She's Charmed Blog

At the exit of the shrine, there are street food vendors as well. Perfect after the long hike for a snack or meal!

This is a little fried cake with red bean paste.

Taiyaki | She's Charmed Blog

Kinkaku-ji – The Golden Pavilion

We just made it to The Golden Pavilion before the sun setting. The lighting was perfect against the gold leaf!

The Golden Pavilion | She's Charmed Blog

 

The Golden Pavilion | She's Charmed Blog

Our Favorite Meal in Kyoto!

On our way back home to Osaka, we got dinner at Katsukura in Kyoto station. Bookmark this NOW … on the 11th floor of Kyoto station you will find our favorite meal we ate in KyotoTonkatsu is deep fried pork cutlet usually served with sauce and thinly sliced cabbage. Perfectly cooked and quality meat, we still think about this meal.

Tonkatsu | She's Charmed Blog

Next stop is Nara, Japan!

Previous Japan Travel Guides:

  1. Osaka Part I
  2. Osaka Part II
  3. Kyoto Part I

Pregnancy Skin Care Routine + Favorites 

I hit 24 weeks this week and so grateful my pregnancy has been pretty smooth! The nausea has gone away and I am certainly eating for two! Nonetheless, I am enjoying the changes my body is going through. It brings me so much joy to feel baby boy move. It’s a constant reminder to me that my life is going to change. That we’re about to start this new life chapter. When I am having a bad day his little kicks and movements comfort me that everything will be okay.

My body is changing and so is my skin. My skin type is normally oily/combination, but pregnancy has made my skin more on the dry side. I’ve had to find new products to keep my skin more hydrated. Here are some of the products I have been reaching for and a few pregnancy favorites!

  • Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser. I am enjoying this cleanser as it uses French and Moroccan clay to remove makeup and oil. It’s gentle on my skin and the calming oils and vitamin C make my skin brighter.
  • Derma-e Overnight Peel. I had to ditch my retinol cream (a no no during pregnancy) and be consistent with something that would keep my skin smooth and clear. This overnight peel with alpha-hydroxy acids helps exfoliate my skin overnight and remove dead skin cells.
  • Caudalie Micellar Cleanser Water. Love using this to remove makeup. It’s oil free so I am able to use around my lash extensions. It’s effective, gentle, and does not dry out my skin.
  • Embryolisse Lait-Creme Moisturizer. This is my holy grail moisturizer and I continue to use it because it really is that good. It the perfect consistency and keep me moisturized without being oily.
  • Shea Moisture Mommy Stretch Mark Body Butter. My favorite belly butter! No matter what the product claims… you cannot prevent stretch marks by using topical lotions. But I love the natural ingredients in this product to keep my growing belly moisturized. The scent does not seem to bother me either.
  • Belly Band by Ingrid & Isabel. This belly band has been a life saver! I have been able to wear most of my regular pants open with the belly band holding it place. You can wear it throughout your pregnancy.

Hope you all enjoy my recent favorites. I really love doing these! Share below your must have products!

Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto Highlights Part I

Kyoto quickly became our favorite parts about our trip to Japan. We loved exploring the temples and hiking its scenic routes. We spent a total of 2 days in Kyoto. It was an easy day trip from Osaka. Once we arrived at Kyoto Station, we did have to purchase day passes for bus routes to get around the city.

Kiyomizudera Temple

We first stopped at Kiyomizudera Temple, a Buddhist Temple at the foot of the Otowa Waterfall. To get to the temple you walk through steep hills of the Higashiyama District where you can shop local venders and snacks. It is quite a hike and Roger and I did not hesitate to get another green tea ice cream!
Kiyomizudera Temple

I loved the scenic forest in the background!

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

At the foot of the falls are three streams that are said to bring good luck.

Nishiki Market

The Nishiki Market is close to the Kiyomizudera Temple. They have japanese delicacies… sweets, pickled vegetables, spices, seafood, and more sushi! We seriously loved sampling all the picked vegetables.

This is mackerel sushi, or Sabazushi. It is special to Kyoto’s culture as back in the day they had a hard time getting fresh fish to the city. The fish is lightly pickled, salted, lightly filleted, then wrapped.

Sabazushi

Poor us, sushi just isn’t going to be the same. Otoro, or tuna belly, is our FAVORITE.

Otoro sushi

Gion

Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district and in between Kiyomizudera Temple and Nikishi market. It is a whole different world with the traditional wooden houses. We didn’t get to see a real life geisha but enjoy walking through this area of Kyoto.  Gion

Gion in Kyoto, Japan

Gion in Kyoto, Japan

Gender Reveal Recap

Gender Reveal

As soon to be new parents, we knew we had to have a fun gender reveal party to share our excitement with family and friends. I know back in the day they did not know the gender of the baby until he/she was born. Now these parties are all the rave. I believe it is important to celebrate life as much as you can!

It’s A Boy!

My sister thought of the creative idea to do something that would also be a keepsake. Roger and I did two separate canvases of our handprints in pink and blue. My sister was the only one who knew the gender of the baby. While we head up a sheet and counted down, my sister changed the canvas to Baby Chan’s gender! We hope to add his little hand-print or foot-print at his arrival. Roger was especially excited as he thought baby was a girl the entire time!