Body After Baby (Part 1)

With Hollywood's recent baby boom, I can't help but notice the topics on most magazine covers: "How Kourtney Kardashian lost the baby weight" or "Gisele Bundchen's body after baby."  All I see is how flat Jessica Alba's abs are one month after having a baby or Victoria Beckham getting back to size zero eight weeks after giving birth. Even more outrageous: several Victoria's Secret Angels were famously known for getting back on the runway only weeks after having a baby! It's as if there is some kind of competition to see who can lose the most weight in the most freakishly speedy manner. Don't get me wrong though, this is not a debate on whether celebrities should or should not lose so much weight in so little time. I just purely want to point out that this topic of "losing weight postpartum" must be a big enough of a concern to most women to have the celebrity moms grazing the covers of popular magazines with with their svelte postpartum bodies. I'm sure with all the casting directors, critics, and paparazzi breathing down their necks constantly is more motivation than any of us "normal folks" will ever get to lose the baby weight. They just don't have the time to take it slow according to the one pound a week recommendation by doctors. Yeah sure they have the personal chefs and trainers and nannies to look after their babies while they work out but Personal chefs and trainers can't lose the weight for them. They still have to do the work just like the rest of us. In a way, they deserve to look great after the hard work they've put in. I mean Jessica Alba hit the gym two weeks after giving birth, Beyonce's fitness regimen starts at 5AM, Kate Hudson works out daily for 3 hours, Jennifer Lopez works out for 45 minutes to 2 hours 4 to 6 days a week, etc... Not to mention most celebrity moms are fit prior to getting pregnant and worked out for the duration of their pregnancy. Now how many of us can even match half the effort they put in after having a baby? I know I couldn't. I had tons of excuses for not exercising after having a baby.

Excuses, Excuses
  • I just had a baby. I need the rest
  • I'll lose weight from breastfeeding
  • It's too hot to exercise in the summer
  • Breastfeeding is too time consuming to have time to exercise
  • The baby kept waking up at night, so too sleep deprived to exercise
  • Ha! This is my favorite: my husband will love me no matter what I look like. 


Horse Meat: To eat or not to eat?

Horses have played an important role throughout history. During the turbulent periods, many wars and battles were fought on horse back. During peaceful times, horses were used for transportation and leisure. Horses were hunted by the indigenous people of Argentina and Chile after they were introduced by the conquistadors during the age of exploration. Mongolians have a long history of utilizing mare's milk as a beverage as well as making alcoholic beverages and cheeses out of it. Even Napoleon's army was said to have eaten the meat of horses that died in battle. But times have changed. We now see horses as friends, as pets, as an animal with a soul; we humanized them. Horses now live in ranches and are better groomed and maintained than most household pets. Their status have been elevated to healers as "Equine Therapy" became increasingly popular in helping individuals with emotional and psychological issues.

Sitting at a fairly touristy restaurant in Ljubljana, Slovenia, clutching on to the above precedents, my husband and I stared at the menu listing "horse steak" for a long time. The menu lists the size of the meal and the price, so you know how much money you've wasted if you don't like eating it, but It doesn't tell you what it will taste like or how it will affect your conscious after consuming it. Another 10 minutes of small talk went by between the two of us, the whole while avoiding the subject of horse meat, I guess we were both waiting for the other to give in and make a decision. Finally, my husband can take no more of my beating around the bushes.


New Year's Resolution 2012: Buy Less to Have More

My new year's resolution for this year is to spend less money on materialistic items and use that money saved for creating interesting life experiences instead. Definition of interesting life experiences includes but not restricted to: Tango lessons for me and the hubby, kung fu lessons for Tato, music lessons for Allie and eventually more family trips. This will mean spending less on Clothing, shoes, toys, gadgets, and other nick knacks that are good to have but I don't need. This is going to be more difficult than I thought when my favorite online shops (Shopbop, Revolveclothing, Endless) offer free worldwide shipping. I know this "living on less" or "Less is more" topic have been heavily discussed in magazines, on the internet and on blogs but adapting my life to it is harder than you think. But I'm going to try my best to stick to it. I will!

Why I'm doing this
Ever since I started traveling frequently, I noticed how light I've packed no matter where in the world I went. I never pack more than 3 outfits whether I'm going on a weekend trip or 3 month long trip. Not once during these trips did I need something that I didn't pack. That's when an idea hit me: I can live with A LOT less!

With a goal of living less in mind, I started doing some research online. This is what I found....


First Impressions of Budapest

As the train pulled into Keleti Station in Budapest, I felt a surge of adrenaline rush. The station is no ordinary Eastern European train station; it is an enormous architectural masterpiece. I stepped onto the platform and it felt like I was transported back to a time where train travel was ideally romantic. We were herded by the crowd towards the exit of the station. We tried our best to blend in with the crowd and pretend like we knew where were going. It was difficult because we couldn't stop marveling at the surrounding architecture. Walking through the city to our hotel feels like walking through a giant open air museum. Every building looked so grand. It is exactly like what Frommers said about Budapest: "It is a feast for the eyes". 

From Zagreb to Budapest by Train

Glavni Kolodvor Train Station Zagreb
The early morning walk to the Glavni Kolodvor train station in Zagreb was pleasant despite the fact that it was 4AM in February. We were a little hesitant concerning the safety of walking at such an ungodly hour, but the owner of the hostel we stayed in assured us it would be absolutely safe. He was right. Our walk was pretty uneventful. There were a few people walking on the streets who seemed to pass us by without even a second glance. We took the 4:56AM train from Zagreb to Budapest. It was a 6 hour train ride. We almost didn't make it on to the train because we got on the wrong train! Luckily, we realized it just in time and ran towards the right train before the doors were closing.


The Nomad Within

What is so appealing about being a nomad? Where do I began?! Just the mention of “No Mortgage” should get you interested. But here is a short list of reasons to travel.

  • Freedom: Go where the road takes you.
  • Explore the wonders of the world: There are definitely more than 7.
  • The knowledge you accumulate during your travels. 
  • The culture you immerse yourself in
  • The people you would not have otherwise meet
  • The beauty you would not otherwise see
  • The events you would not otherwise witness
  • The paradises you would not otherwise discover
  • The food...the food...yummmmmm! 

1 Day in Zagreb, Croatia

We arrived at 10:30AM in Zagreb by train from Ljubljana. When my hubby and I walked out of the train station, our jaws dropped. How can so much change in just 2 hours by train? Zagreb is like a fusion of a Western European and Turkish city. It has the grandeur of cities that boasts of its spot in the list of UNESCO World Heritage City but also the friendly and welcoming people you would find in small villages.

Breastfeeding on the Road

Contrary to what most people think, breastfeeding on the road is actually a lot more convenient than bottle feeding. New moms often feel chained to the rocking chair at home because they're nursing. But it doesn't have to be that way. Once mommy's milk supply is established and the baby is overall comfortable with nursing, it is very possible to travel domestically and internationally with your baby. Here is why:

Barcelona with Kids

While doing some research on Barcelona, I came upon a section on Traveling with Children in Spain on Wikitravel 

Toddler happiness is considered a public responsibility in Spain: in any public place people around you put every effort into making your toddler happy: whenever he or she looks bored or is crying, everyone does their best to entertain or to calm them.

Sounds like the perfect place for a family vacation. But for some reason, when my husband and I announced to our friends and relatives that we were going to Spain with 2 kids (2 years and 11 months toddler and 5 month old baby), some of them laughed in our faces and said that we will not be there for the sights but actually to stay at the hotels. Despite the negative outlooks, we still ventured out and had a blast! Wikitravel can not be more right about Spain. The city is so kid friendly that I might even compare it to Disneyland. The people of Barcelona deserves a special mention because I just couldn't believe how friendly they are to kids. When we carried strollers and babies up and down stairs of metro stations, people passing by always offered help carrying baby equipments for us. Not only am I in love with the city but with the people as well. Here are some things that made our trip memorable.


2005: The Year I Caught the Travel Bug

My junior year in college was nearing an end. I had just came out of an European history class and my mind still clouded with characters like Machiavelli, Pope Alexander VI, Lorenzo De Medici... I passed by a STA (Student Travel Agency) office on campus and was suddenly sucked in by posters of towering cathedrals and fairy-tale like castles. “I'll just grab a catalog to flip through when I'm bored”, I thought. As soon as I walked into my apartment, dumped my backpack and studied every page on that catalog. From London to Istanbul, from Beijing to Bangkok, European highlights, Experience Peru, Tastes of Morocco, plus page after page of promise for the greatest adventure of a life time. I was in a trance. What happened next was a blur. The next thing I remember was sitting at the STA office booking flights from San Francisco to London leaving on June 22nd. But I wasn't satisfied with just one purchase so I added in another plane ticket from London to Bangkok. And just before buyer's remorse kicked in, the travel agent mentioned that for an extra $100 I can catch a flight from Bangkok to Beijing. Sure, why not? Not until I walked out of the office with ticket in hand did this just dawned on me: I will be traveling around the world solo in two months time. Yikes! I haven't even crossed state borders on my own, let alone international borders. Worse yet, I haven't even told my parents! But I'm sure they will find out through their next credit card statement.
I argued with myself over this impulsive, if not reckless behavior for a month. After much time spent defending and justifying this particular plan of mine, I came up with the following conclusions: