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Beanie: Abstracted

2 Days old.
Loving all the juicy bits of this little lady.


Big Brother. (哥哥)

1 Day Old.
Meet big brother.

Zozie can't keep his paws off of her.
It's a double edge sword sometimes.
The fine balance in wanting them to get along and keeping the baby safe from her own sibling!  Alotta lovin' and kissin' going on, true love at first sight.
Guess there are worst things in life than this...

Creeping up on her.
Guchie, Guchie, Guch!
Whoa...Watch the head!
Got her...
Here's your birthday present!

No, she's ALL MINE!

Knuckle Sandwich??

Good Job Mama..thank you for my baby sister...


"Girl" @ 0536

Today, our girl arrived @ 0536.
A ripe gestation of 40weeks, to the day.
Chances of being born on your DUE DATE?
< 5%.  Unlike the other 95, we apparently hit the jackpot.

Physically & mentally, it's been a long journey.
One full of twists and turns that tore down my solid wall of presumptions and comparisons.  A fine lesson in NOT expecting anything while expecting.

Zozie's birth story has been told many times throughout the years to myself and to others.  No cravings, no morning sickness, no real fatigue.  Pregnant?  Most people couldn't tell from behind.  My little basketball in the gut went with me everywhere.  Eventually, I gave a perfect Hypnobabies birth with a midwife, un-medicated.  
Caught him myself, standing.  
My natural birth story was a badge of honor which I wore proudly.

Having no other experience, I found myself unknowingly expecting this pregnancy and birth to be nearly exactly the same as my last.

THAT...was my mistake.

She made me wait...
With each passing day over 38wks, I was disappointed.
Again, and again, and again.
(This is when Zozie came, right?)
"Today is the day!" I kept telling myself.
Nope.  Nothing.  Nada.
I eventually realized much of the let downs were self imposed.
My comparative mind consumed me.
Eventually, time just broke me.

2 days before birth, I finally gave up, and gave in.
I gave in to the reality that this was a separate life.
One with it's own time.  One with it's own path.  One with it's own mind.
Even if I created it, it did not belong to me.

Then the "waves" came...
My body waited for my surrender and sent in the troops to deliver the final blow.  My water did not break, but my labor kicked in, full force.  I lulled at 4cm for days, trying to cope with the relentless waves that came every 5- 7mins for over 30hrs.  Once admitted, I walked the hospital halls breathing, focusing, and trying to find strength to continue the journey.  I finally realized that I was plain out of gas.

Maybe I'm older now, maybe I have an older child... for whatever reason, I was just really tired.  Unwilling but surrendering, I asked Dalee if he would be terribly disappointed if I accept the epidural this time.  He looked back at me with sincere kindness and shook his head.  Deep inside, I knew I was actually asking myself that question, and more so, desperately trying to answer it with as much kindness to myself.

I was not the type to give up...no, not me.
I can take the pain, I can do this...again!  Go natural or go home!  I searched for my self-Hypnosis, nothing.  I looked for my inner calm, blank.  I found none of the strength I possessed with Zozie's birth.  Who am I?  Where did I go?
Another wave.  Just waves.
Seriously questioning my own self definition, I finally let go.
She is NOT Zozie.  

"We'll give you the shot in 20mins, dear..."  said the nurse.
All I heard was "7 more contractions".
That was a sign.

With IV's & tubes hooked up everywhere, my hopes for another "natural childbirth" faded as I drift off to a 3 hour nap.  The pain melted away as the numbness progressed from my waist down.  On the monitor, my waves were now overlapping and crashing into one another.  I registered none of it.
Then...my unexpected miracle happened.

Her water broke @0135.
On it's own.
This triggered active labor, on it's own.
I progressed from 5 to 9cm in less than 3 hours, while napping.  (Whaaa?)
The numbness started to fade and a strong pressure pushed down below.
The ongoing waves returned, but I'm now ready.  Following my body, I just went with the waves.

Relax...don't resist.
Folding and bending into the pressure, I saw dark circles eclipsing each other in my mind before my eyes flashed open.  It was as though the universe was expanding down below me.
I knew she is here.

Repeatedly, I told the nurse of the baby's arrival, but perhaps since I was now too calm, my warnings were ignored.  Finally, she looked down and with a loud gasp, rushed out of the room yelling for the midwife.
"I need you in here STAT!!!"
Apparently, the baby's head was already half way out, up to her eyes.  With one obligatory push, she came slipping out like a bar of soap, less than 10 seconds flat.  They barely got their gloves on to catch her, and I could barely contain myself from laughing at it all...

She actually birthed herself.  
My most natural childbirth to date.
Expect nothing, and you will get everything.

@0546, 10 mins later.

Hello Beanie.
We are proud to introduce our newest addition to our LAB.


Fabulous at 40!

40 Weeks, that is.
Come out baby, come out!
(Don't think that green shirt can stretch much more.)



A side of Saturn in our kitchen?
Mad Scientists Dalee & Zozie experimented with colors and eggs this afternoon.  Single colors were combined into a primordial soup of chroma.  You can get some pretty funky results with this fun activity!

Back to "Old School" egg coloring for Easter.
No plastic shells, no candy.  Just a coloring kit and a dozen eggs.  It's such a versatile medium, the egg never stops to amaze me...or Zozie.  We've done several fun OVO Presentations, and are always ready to discover more.  Dalee not only created the beautiful eggs, he also created the beautiful photos below...

Chinese + Egg Hunts?
Growing up, it always grossed out my Chinese immigrant parents when I would insist on coloring real eggs and hiding them for a hunt in the back yard.
You may ask...What's wrong with that?
Well, it just didn't make any sense to them that you would boil perfectly good eggs, dunk them in really artificial coloring, throw them into the dirt, then pick them up again, just to peel and eat them.  All the while, the eggs were not refrigerated and could be out all day.  It just wasn't appetizing to them.

But, C'mon...
all this coming from people who enjoy "Century Egg" or Pídàn (皮蛋).  
Also known as perserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, and millennium egg.
Ok, just by the name, you get that the eggs are probably left out for a REALLY LONG TIME.  This is a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls for several weeks to months.  Result?  A dark green grey yolk smelling of sulphur and ammonia, while the egg white becomes a dark translucent brown jelly....yum...wait...yum???

As for us, at the end of the day, it was great to see Zozie so excited just to peel and eat an egg that he colored.  We skipped the "tossing it in the dirt part".  Guess the Chinese thing did rub off on me alittle.  And I guess I do also enjoy the flavors of the Bizillion-Year-Egg, jelly yolk and all.  Either way, eating the egg WAS the prize, for me and Zozie.  Now that's a sweet reward inside a shell...with alittle extra protein.


artist at work.
my prize!


Ad Hoc.

"for temporary relief from hunger..."
That's the motto at Ad Hoc.
Here piggie, here.
That's how I felt here at Ad Hoc.

As part deux of my mama-shower, my design girls treated me to a fabulous Sunday Brunch at this yummy bistro in Napa, one of the more "casual" joints by Thomas Keller of French Laundry & Bouchon's.  I'm only calling it a bistro since linens were absent from the table tops.  But unlike FL, you don't need to spend 4 hours AND half of your life's savings to dine at Ad Hoc.  With waiters in jeans and brown Dickies putton-ups, jammin' Johnny Cash-ish Pandora swooning us, and a farm-to-table organic local menu, it was the perfect spot for a lazy Sunday with your yappiest of girlfriends.

The girls started with a few Strawberry Lemonade Sangrias while Beanie & I chugged glasses of fresh squeezed OJ....ahhhh.  
Then the magic started to happen.
We opened with some Bouchon Bakery Pecan Sticky Buns, accompanied with some sort of fruit confection laced with lemon curd glaze.  

The feast continued with simply eggs & ham over toast...they had MUCH better wording of this, but that's the gist.  They paired the entree with a generous bowl of the creamiest grits EVER, tossed in some perfectly sauteed shrimp and sprinkles of asparagus and called it done.  Served to me in it's own cooking pan, I had some robustly seasoned escarole and leeks instead of the ham, my gosh it was good!  What pixie dust did they sprinkle over these veggies??? Oink.

We finished off the Prix Fixe brunch with homemade coffee ice cream, oven fresh golden brownies, and warm cookies for dessert...that's right, c-o-f-f-e-e i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m, my personal favorite.  Needless to say, we were too busy scarfing this course down to have time to take a picture for you.  
Oink.  Oink.

We almost couldn't stand for the photos with such a big belly...oh wait, that just me at near 37weeks now.  Ok, fine.  And a big food belly on top.

The day was so Napa-beautiful, we decided to swing by Robert Sinskey's Winnery for a taste of their "fine wines from organic vines."  Kid you not, that's their catch phrase.  I'm feeling quite high brow and hoity-toity at this point.  Anyways, RS is known to offer tastings with fantastic food & snack pairings.  
Yes, we need more food right now.

This looks oh-so-WRONG with that 9month bump...

No worries, I focused mostly on the snack plate and the truffle salted popcorn treat they served.  I stumbled out of the vineyard drunk with life...these last few weeks before the baby comes will be one to remember as this may be my last time around.  For as uncomfortable as it has been at times during this whole transition, it really is beautiful to see the ripple a tiny new being is causing in my own still pond of a life.

The temporary relief of hunger actually lasted ALL DAY.
Thanks so much M & A, for your generous hospitality today.
Looking forward to our next pig-out together, post baby.


LAB Work: Mimi

Work Budget:  As needed
Time:  Some shopping time + 1 Friday afternoon
Location:  Oakland, CA

Want to take a seat?
Boy, I do.
At 9 months pregnant, waddling, formerly known as walking, is a chore.
But taking on a new design project?
It's like a craving, I just can't resist when it comes to a LAB transformation.
This is my last one, I promise to cut back.
(For now.)

It's a small & cozy one...68 SF to be exact.
Mimi is one of Zozo's classmates at their bilingual Montessori school. Recently, her parents noticed that M's toys have somehow slowly migrated to take nest in every nook & cranny of their beautiful Oakland home.
Sound familiar?
"We've GOT to do something about this...".
Mimi's mom has always wished for a useful Montessori inspired home space.  Any skills picked up at school is always best when reinforced at home.
Practice means routine.
Routine means freedom.
Freedom to learn, to do, to create, to expand.
So here we are, the LAB is on hand for some much needed help to bring this migration to a screeching halt.

Welcome to "Mimi's Office"...
Mom & Dad each have home offices, so why not Mimi?
The breakfast nook is currently the "random toy storage", which actually serves as a walk way to the kitchen.  So we say "Bye-bye random junk room...Hello new office!"

Here's a quick LAB sketch to plot out the various functions we want:  A reading nook, Arts & Crafts, Self Care Station, Work Area, Snack Prep, Cleaning Station, and Chalkboard.  The LAB came up with an open circulation plan using a toddler table set as the island anchor.  A short "wall partition" shelving unit creates a walkway to the kitchen while providing some privacy to the nook.  Come, let's take a tour around the office!

The Color Inspiration?
The black & white french toile fabric on the existing built-in bench and roman shades.  This is our take off point in setting the pallet in this room:  black, white, and a sprinkle of sage tea green!

The Reading Nook
This beautiful bay window is the highlight of this book nook (See 1st photo above).  The natural sunlight, the view, the bench - all elements that would lure you into this corner to read, think, chat.
But, it was blocked.
A dollhouse was pushed up against the bench wall, making it inaccessible, and worst...invisible.  This focal point needed to be uncovered.  We removed the dollhouse immediately, added a bold stripe blanket, tossed in a tea green pillow, and set a floor lamp with a whimsical floral embroidery for added lighting.  A bookshelf was placed adjacent to the reading lamp for easy access to a rotating book collection.  The set up is now warm & inviting for reflection and reading, alone or with company.

Arts & Crafts Station
If there's one thing kids do, it's art.  And lots of it.  This is one of Mimi's favorite home activities.  We wanted everything accessible for her to retrieve on her own, and of course, PUT BACK on her own.  Let's not forget, this is a Hapa LAB transformation, work is part of the fun!

Top Shelf:  Paper stash & a wood caddy for holding glue, tape, rulers, stapler....etc.
2nd Shelf:  Galvanized metal buckets hold crayons, markers, pencils, brushes, and scissors.
Bottom Shelf:  soft bins to store stationary, stickers, craft ingredients; we used sage green to bring in the color from the toss pillow.

Self Care (Vanity/Grooming)
The original plan had the Reading & Art shelves butting up next to one another.  But there was a glitch.  A 13" wide air vent in the middle of the wall required a back up plan.  In a Montessori space, it's always good to have a Self Grooming Area.  We placed a vanity mirror and a rod with hanging buckets below to hold sunscreen, hair brushes, hair ties and other sundries.  This will help Mimi get herself ready for the day each morning.

Work Area  
Ever try to work at home but you don't have a dedicated seat or desk?  Very inconvenient to say the least.  We threw in 4 chairs and a generous work surface as we expect playmates and large craft projects.  A fun black & white rug anchors this area visually by highlighting it from the wood floor.  This creates a nice circulation to the room, allowing access to the table from 3 sides, getting any supplies needed, and approaching the reading nook.  We hung a roll of art paper and hooks on the back of the dividing shelf, doubling up the function in this small space.

Partition Wall Storage
Our favorite Ikea shelf is back, the Expedite!  In a jiffy, it created a private partition for the office while housing practical life items and providing supply storage below via woven baskets, a soothing natural touch against the white finish.  We added lockable casters so this piece can easily roll to the counter wall when they need to open up during a party.

In the distance (above photo), we mounted a chalk tray underneath the bar counter.  For $12, you can get a can of brush on latex chalkboard paint and turn a boring drywall into a writable surface!  A good use for a vertical wall surface that would otherwise be wasted.  What kid wouldn't want to draw on walls if they could, right?

Snack Prep
Mom plans on serving some yummy snacks in this office.  They have a wonderful little "snack clock" that shows Mimi when her next snack time is, and better yet, WHAT she will be having!  I got her a note clipper so Mom can better display what's coming on the snack menu.
In the cubbies below, we placed a H2O dispenser, glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, utensils, and left a shelf for placemats and napkins.  Clear placement of snack supplies will help her set the table as well as guide her in putting away clean dishes.

Cleaning Station
What LAB transformation is complete without a Cleaning Station?  We used a narrow 3tier shelf to hold the trash can, hand broom, wipe clothes, spray bottle, and other supplies.

The Nature Tray
Montessori welcomes natural elements.
We finished up this M-inspired space with a Nature Tray so that Mimi can get creative with the Earth.  It's so lovely to have cut flowers, stones, leaves, twigs, or anything a child may find on a morning walk around the neighborhood.  We used a wooden tray and a small glass vase as the base.  Zozie designed this display on his own using some cuttings from the garden as a surprise for Mimi.  This is a nice topping on the partition wall, welcoming guests into this space.

So this is it!
Our last LAB transformation before our new arrival comes.
Who's crazy enough to do a new design project at 9 months pregnant?
The same one who opened a new Lobby Lounge for a LA hotel 5 days before birthing Zozie.
Seems like a trend for me.
Install a project, birth a child.
Easy enough, right?
I give Beanie 14 days...