Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stella is 4 Months!

Sweet Stella turned 4 months on February 11, 2014. She happened to get her 4 month shots that day and was such a big girl! She barely cried and was back to her normal happy and smiley self when we left. She weighed in at 15 lbs. 13.5 oz and was 25 inches long.

Her new favorite things to do are pet Jaek and Chloe, jump, splash in the bath, talk to Mommy and Daddy, and of course smile :)

Now that Stella is on a regular schedule and quite alert, we have more flexibility to go and do things with her. The end of January we decided to head up to Lake Louise. The weather in Calgary was around 50 degrees (warmer than even Houston at the time) and another gorgeous day. The weekend happened to be a winter festival and ice sculpture contest. We enjoyed spending the day at Lake Louise walking around enjoying another gorgeous winter day.

Stella celebrated her first Valentines Day with all of her friends from our baby group. Genevieve's Mom, Carmen, hosted the party and it was a huge success. All of the babies had a great time exchanging gifts for a secret Valentine exchange, playing, and giving lots of hugs and kisses XOXO

Happy girl!

All the sweet Mommies and Babies in our baby group!

Stella and her Valentine Hayden...he was pooped out from all the excitement :)

Stella and Chloe during story time reading one of Stella's new books she got for Valentines Day :)

February 17 is Family Day here in Calgary and a public holiday. We spent Sunday going to Bragg Creek to see Elbow Falls. The falls are no longer large water falls due to the change in the course of the river from the bad flood that came through Calgary in June of 2013 right before we moved. It was however, still beautiful landscape and a nice place to hike around for the day. Stella also enjoyed her new hiking backpack :)

Stella and I at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls

We are heading on our first vacation (aside from meeting family and friends at Christmas) to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico to escape the negative temperatures here in Calgary. Stella can't wait to get to warmer weather and splash around at the beach, while working on her tan of course!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stella is 2 Months Old!!!

Stella Grace de Jong was born on October 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm.  She was 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches long.

Her Favorite Things: Eating, Smiling, Jumping, and looking at all the fun pictures throughout the house

It's truly amazing how much happiness one little baby girl creates. Kim is with Stella during the day and is faced with the normal challenges of raising a baby but they're all forgotten when she looks up and gives you that big open-mouthed smile. Everything else in the world seems trivial at that point in time.

We're heading to Houston for Christmas to introduce Stella to our family and friends and celebrate Stella's first Christmas. Holidays will be so much more exciting now to share the joy and meaning of Christmas with a child. Kim and I are so happy and excited to show her off to everyone.

We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

{Patiently} Waiting...38 Weeks and Counting

Well we are making our way slowly but surely to Stella making her debut. Today I am 38 weeks and not a whole lot of action going on. She has dropped quite a bit, so it is easier for me to breathe, but no real progress on dilation after my check-up yesterday. The doctor said things could change quickly, but I am just sitting back and waiting. Don't want to rush the whole process even though I {may} be over being pregnant. I figured I have waited this long...what is another few weeks, right!?!?!

Kaes and I are just so anxious to meet our little angel and hold her in our arms. It truly has been a wonderful experience and even with a cross continent move, dealing with a very sick puppy, moving to another new country and getting settled in, I can't really complain too much. I have the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, but am very thankful that I have been healthy, feeling well, and able to keep up my normal daily routine and schedule. I know it could have been quite a bit worse!

I finally finished up Stella's nursery a few weeks ago. My and her hospital bags are both packed and ready, car seat installed, and even a sack of rehydrators and snacks are ready to go. Now we just wait...

Here are a few pictures of her nursery and of me as I have been progressing over these past few weeks.

Not too much longer now!!! Stay tuned for pictures of our little girl!

35 & 37 Weeks

Monday, August 12, 2013

Road Trip!!! Our Arrival and First Week in Calgary

Our first week in Calgary was quite adventurous. You may have read in my last post that my Mom and I, along with Jaek and Chloe, drove from Houston all the way up to Calgary over 4 days stopping in Oklahoma City, Denver, Billings, and then into Calgary. It was a long drive of 9-10 hours each day with stops, but I am very thankful it was uneventful (no car problems, sickness, accidents, or issues at the border)

Zoo Crew all ready to go!
We left on Tuesday after the movers packed up our shipment from Houston of Stella's furniture and gifts and made it to Calgary on Friday around 5 pm. The movers had delivered everything on Thursday, so Kaes had been busy with a house full of boxes and where to put everything! The house is nice, but definitely doesn't have the amount of space we would like or need. I keep telling myself it is not forever and we can deal with it...also very thankful for a huge basement since that is where the majority of the boxes will be stored until our next move.
A very important pit stop ;)
After a busy first week, we decided we wanted to take a break and have some fun. Banff and Lake Louise are some of the most beautiful attractions in Alberta and are only 1.5 hours away from Calgary, so we took a short day trip there leaving early Saturday morning.

Lake Louise

Mom and I in front of Lake Louise - it is just breathtaking!

The Bow River that runs through Banff all the way to Calgary
I am still waiting for the next shipment to arrive and be delivered. The moving company says this Thursday and hopefully so. Mom will be here with me until Friday, so we will not have a whole lot of time to set up Stella's nursery.

I have my initial doctors appointment (32 weeks) here in Calgary on Friday and then Mom leaves that afternoon :( She has been such a huge help from the packing, moving, road trip with the zoo crew, all of the work getting the Calgary house in order and helping me prepare dinners to freeze for when Stella arrives. It has been a busy week, but I feel great about all the progress that has been made!

Thank you for all that you do! Love you Mom!!! XOXO

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sugar and Spice...and Everything Nice!!!

In case you don't know, we have decided on a name. No more Baby D - we have decided to name our sweet angel Stella Grace de Jong.

I had my first baby shower in Longview thrown by my sweet cousin Jessica. I am so grateful for all her hard work in getting it together. It couldn't have been more perfect! I had family from both sides come and share the special day with us.

A very close friend of mine that I have known since middle school did maternity pictures for me at the end of July. Day-Z Photography with Amanda Adams is a natural light photographer specializing in newborns, children, and maternity photography. We did a session on a very warm evening and somehow she still made all of the pictures look beautiful! I am so happy she did them and was able to capture a special moment in our lives.

My second baby shower was thrown by Jane, Jesica and Tara. It was at Jane's house and was so beautiful! I couldn't have dreamed of it being any prettier. Stella is one lucky lady to have so many wonderful people in her life to come and share our special day :)

Mom and I, along with the 2 pups, will be driving up to Calgary over 4 days going through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Montana, and into Canada where we will meet Kaes before he has to go back to Malaysia for the last few weeks. I am very fortunate that Mom will be with me for 2 weeks in Calgary to help unpack, organize the house, and help get Stella's nursery all set up :)

Please pray for us a safe journey up to Calgary! More updates to come once we get all settled in :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Sweet Boy Jaek

As some of you may or may not know, our sweet boy Jaek had been dealing with what we found out was a ruptured disk in his neck/back for about 6 months. It upsets me so much to know how much pain he was in for so long. The steroids, pain meds, and acupuncture were barely enough to keep him well enough until we were able to fly him back to Houston on June 12th to meet with a specialist about how bad his injury was and if we could do surgery.

After a very intense surgery to scrape and clean out all the ruptured debris from his spinal column, blood transfusion, serious seizures, ICU and 2.5 weeks at the vet, I finally got to bring Jaek back to my parents where we watched him closely and were up hours on end to help manage pain and work on rehabilitation to help him walk again.

Now it is July 21st and he is able to get up, walk on his own, and only has a bit of a wobble mainly on his left side from what we think was a minor stroke during one of his seizures. He appears to have lost vision in his left eye, but we hope some of it may come back as the nerves heal. We are so thankful for the huge recovery he has made thanks to the outstanding vets at North Houston Veterinary Specialist. Without their great work, unconditional patience and kindness, and a lot of prayer, we know he wouldn't be where he is today.

In just 9 short days Me, Mom, Jaek, and Chloe will start our journey up to Calgary. 4 days, 6 states, 2 countries, and 2,200 miles later, we should be reunited (for a short time as Kaes still has to go back to Malaysia) as a family after a long exhausting 6 weeks.

Please pray for us that we have a safe trip with no major hurdles or incidences! Posts from Calgary will come soon :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's A....Girl!!! - 21 Week Check-Up

Current Cravings: Still green apples, but mostly any flavor of ice cream :)

We are so excited to announce that we are expecting our first bundle of joy due to arrive October 14, 2013!

I am currently 21 weeks and Baby d and I are doing wonderful! We even climbed up the Great Wall of China just last week. I major feat I must say! I am very thankful that I have had a pretty easy pregnancy so far. I was sick in the beginning each morning, but it seemed to pass quickly and I know it could have been MUCH worse.

At our appointment today, I had a test for protein and sugar in my urine and it came back negative (signs for diabetes) which is great news. I am right on track for weight gain, just need to make sure I keep a steady gain to not have issues as I get closer to delivering.

Sweet Baby Girl has really long legs and big feet!!! It is not totally surprising since Kaes and I are both pretty tall. She is going to be a big baby.

The doctor says all other signs are normal and growth is going well. She has 10 fingers and toes, solid spinal growth, good blood flow from main artery from me to her heart, all organs growing normally, and heart and brain look good. She likes to cover her face with her arm and definitely stays active and likes to kick me quite often :) I don't mind as I know she is doing okay.

Sweet girl covering her face with her hand

The doctor says she has really long legs and big feet!!!

Profile pic of our sweet baby girl
My next appointment will be in Houston before moving up to Calgary. The doctor says that I am fit to fly, which is good since we have quite a bit of it coming up!

We couldn't be more thrilled to know our little angel is healthy and growing normally. She is already so special to us and we can't wait to meet her in just about 4 months!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Forbidden City, Great Wall, and Terracotta Warriors - Ancient Wonders Through China

China boasts some of the most ancient history in the world dating back more than 3,500 years ago and has the 3rd highest number of World Heritage Sites with 43 total. Exploring the beautiful countryside along with learning the rich culture that has shaped the world was a great experience and we were so glad to take advantage of our time left in Asia with one last trip to China.

Tips Before You Travel: Bring a roll of toilet paper (you can thank me later) China has about 98% squatting toilets that you can smell before you see. At what point does a modern city not dispose of bodily waste in a hole in the ground!?!?!?

The subway system has been upgraded and has all signs written in pinyin (English form of Chinese characters) so it is easy to understand and follow. Most trips anywhere you go are CNY 2 ($0.75) person around the city, so quite economical. Signs around the city are not written in English and people don’t speak English, so have a map and plan of where you want to go.

Oddities in China: Parents dress their babies in pants that have a hole in the seat instead of wearing diapers. If they have to go to the restroom, they simple squat in the middle of the street and go…interesting way of potty training I suppose???? Kaes and I both saw it happen several times and still couldn't believe it. I didn't want to take a picture as it felt violating, so use your imagination....

We flew out after work on Thursday, May 23rd and took the Malaysia Airlines flight at 6 pm from Kuala Lumpur 6 hours to Beijing and arrived a little after midnight. After dealing with taxi drivers, we finally got to the hotel around 3 am. During our stay in Beijing, we stayed at the Novotel Xin Qiao which was a great location to walk out to the Chongwenmen subway station (Lines 2 and 5) right outside the hotel. It is an easy walk to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (if you start off in the right direction)

Since we got in so late, we slept in a bit and then decided to venture out towards the Forbidden City. It turns out my poor sense of direction (due only to baby brain) led us walking in the wrong direction for 1.5 hours.

A beautiful garden we past walking in the wrong direction ;)

I was also a bit over ambitious at my ability to hike through the streets of Beijing, and therefore, was pretty tired and ready to head back to the room for a nap to recharge. We were both very tired from jet lag so came back to the room and took it easy. After a brief nap, we went out in search of dinner on the famous Wangfujing street and night market.  Not exactly what I had in mind for can get any insect/small animal deep fried from worms, scorpions, seahorses, and starfish to baby ducks... 

Saturday we finally made it to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, or what used to be called the Imperial Palace. It was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty, located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. The Forbidden City is one of Beijing’s largest landmarks and in 1987 was declared a UNESCO Heritage site. It earned its common name from the fact that ordinary citizens were not allowed to approach the complex during the 500 years of its use. Entrance fee of CNY 60 per person ($10 USD)

Tiananman Square spring flowers

Sunday was another busy day to first the Temple of Heaven. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. Next we headed to the north part of the city to the Bell & Drum Tower and to Olympic Park. The Bird’s Nest (National Stadium) & Water Cube were home to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Ground was broken on the Bird's Nest on December 24, 2003. At its height, 17,000 construction workers worked on the stadium and the project overall costs US$423 million to build.

Drum Tower performance

National Stadium - "Bird's Nest" and home to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

Water Cube built for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics
Monday we got up early to catch the 877 express bus (you can also take the 919 public bus, they are all lime green; either one costs CNY 12/pp or $2 USD) on an hour ride from Dongshenmen Tower to the The Great Wall at Badaling  It was a clean bus and fairly comfortable for such a bargain price. We started our climb at the entrance to Bear Park at Tower 10 CNY 45 ($7.50 USD with an optional Gondola ride back down for CNY 60/$10 USD) We opted for the Gondola ride down at Tower 8 as it was a feat for me to climb straight up steep stairs and inclines at exactly 5 months pregnant!!!

20 Weeks pregnant climbing the Great Wall
Our morning was quite strenuous and tiresome, but we didn't let that stop us! Our next destination to hit was the Summer Palace on the way back in the afternoon from The Great Wall. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres, three quarters of which is water. Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 feet) high and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometres was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In the Summer Palace, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures. In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List

Longevity Hill

Tuesday was an easy day as all of the running around and climbing got the best of us. We had a nice lunch and then went to the Yonghegong Lama & Confucious Temple in the afternoon. 

Wednesday morning we took an 8 am flight 1.5 hours south to Xi’an. We stayed at the Grand Noble Hotel which was very nice for ~$88 USD/night for a 5 star quality hotel. Since we got in late in the afternoon, we checked in and opted for an early dinner at Papa John’s with {REAL} pork and shopping at Wal-Mart to top of our first day. Not exactly like home, but interesting none the less.

Tip: If you are staying near to the center of the city (close to the Bell Tower) take the bus one-way for CNY 26 /pp ($4.25) for a clean and economical ride. Taxis will not use the meter and try to charge you CNY 200 (~$35 USD) 

Thursday we opted to hire a private car and a guide for CNY 450 for the full day ($75 USD) to take us to the Banpo Museum, artifacts from first signs of family life, and the main ancient attraction of Xi'an, The Terracotta Warriors -  $25 USD/pp entry fee. The Terracotta Warriors were sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first and most ruthless Emperor of China. The army was buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC with the purpose to protect the emperor in his afterlife. There are over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses that took over 700,000 people to construct.


Xi'an is well known for its Chinese dumplings, so that night we went to the Tang Dynasty Opera  for a Dumpling Dinner & Cultural Show and Dance. The show had 10 different cultural performances with majestic dancers and beautiful costumes. Definitely a must see if you make it to Xi'an.

Unfortunately, I started feeling bad and very tired so we took the day easy by walking to the Bell & Drum Tower in the middle of the city not too far from our hotel. Dinner at Papa John's was so good the night before, we had to go again, then headed in for an early night.

Bell Tower in Xi'an at night

Saturday we left around noon to get our flight back to Beijing. We had a long layover of about 7 hours, so decided to take the Airport Express train CNY 25 ($4 USD) into the city for dinner. It is said that if you come to Beijing and don't try the famous Peking Duck, then you haven't truly experienced China. After much research, we decided on a restaurant in the financial district well known for Peking Duck called Da Dong Roast Duck. We ordered a whole duck with all the condiments along with a caesar salad and it was absolutely delicious! A chef came to the table and spent 10 minutes precisely carving the duck so that each bite was a perfect proportion of skin, fat and meat. The savoury crispy skin paired with white sugar melted in your mouth. It was truly a wonderful dining experience we were glad we didn't miss!

Beijing and Xi’an were both completely full of loud people, polluted streets and air, and people that spoke very little to no English, but despite some of the small setbacks, we had a great time learning some of the world’s most ancient history. It was definitely a memorable trip and one we were glad to experience as our last trip in Asia before moving back to North America!