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I always promised myself that if I ever have a little bean I would not get overloaded with too much baby/kid stuff, like toys & playthings. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of wanting to get your little bean all the cute things you find. I truly envy those Europeans whose homes don’t look like children live there at all. Also those Euro-parents that can fit everything their baby needs into a super slim backpack. After taking my little bean on multiple trips, I tend to look at what other parents pack so I can take notes & pair down all of my essential items.

I’ve seen moms who bring out backpacks the size of suitcases, filled to the brim with everything (probably the kitchen sink too), & I have always made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be that mom with the ginormous diaper bag (or one that remotely looked like a traditional diaper bag). The bag I use to carry my little bean’s diapering tools is still quite large-&-in-charge, but I think I’ve been able to slim it down as much as possible. Here is my ultimate list of top 3 absolute must-have essential items that I keep in my diaper bag at all times.

01.

A spare change of clothes. I have a small Ziplock bag with a spare long-sleeve onesie, leggings & a pair of socks packed in my bag at all times. It is inevitable that any little bean will “spill their beans” (no pun intended) while out & about. A spare change of clothes is absolutely necessary to have on-hand. Even if you’re only at the grocery store or shopping mall, you don’t want to keep your kid in their poopy clothes until you get home. It’s better to swap out their clothes wherever you can (I’ve done it in the trunk of my car), & it minimizes the chance of a little bean public freak out because they’re stinky, sticky & wet. (I also pack a spare Ziplock bag to throw the dirty/wet clothes in.)


02.

A first aid kit. I keep a small pouch in my bag for first-aid items like: bandages, a Tide stain remover pen, a pair of folding scissors, & a mini pill case filled with emergency adult items (i.e. Tylenol, acid reducers, etc.). I also keep a small tube of gum soothing gel for my little bean since she is currently going through her difficult teething phase. And you know, for mom specifically, I keep a little stash of sanitary napkins for those special times-of-the-month, if you know what I mean. Having a first-aid kit in the bag is super useful & can be customized to suit any family’s needs. It has come in handy many times while we’ve been on the road with no convenience store or pharmacy nearby.


03.

A fidget toy. My little bean is kind of weird & likes to play with things she can easily chew on like: straws, plastic spoons, or coffee drink stoppers. Pretty much anything she can gnaw on is her new favorite “toy”du jour, & no, she’s not into traditional teething toys or those silicone rings you pop in the freezer. However, I have found those pop-it fidget toys made popular by the mini-millennials of TikTok are an easy & affordable toy you can throw into any bag/purse to entertain your little bean while on the go. These toys are great because not only are they fidgets, some of them are made of BPA-free silicones/plastics, which is safe for the little bean to chomp on. I got my little bean the flower press toy by mushie (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Q55NT9Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1), & I’m so glad I thought of keeping it in her diaper bag. We’ve already used it at restaurants when she’s starting to get a little restless, & it’s kept her entertained for at least until we’re ready to pay our tab. I also love these toys because it’s inevitable for the little bean to drop everything on the floor after they get bored, & these toys are super easy to wipe down & throw back into your bag.


Those three items are the absolute top items I must bring with me at all times when I take my little bean out. Even if I don’t pack a traditional diaper bag when I take my bean on a little outing, I will definitely pack these three things in a mini bag. There are a couple of other optional things that I like to keep in my bag when we go out such as:

  • Anti-bacterial wipes: These are for wiping down all those fallen toys that my little bean will shove right back into her mouth to teeth on. Also, because of the you-know-what virus, it’s never a bad idea to have anti-bacterial wipes on hand to clean up sticky hands, or quickly wipe down anything the little bean might touch when you’re at a restaurant or public place. It’s also convenient for the parents to use as well.
  • One (or two) extra bibs in a Ziplock bag: My little bean is drooling a lot during her teething phase, so she often wears bibs to catch all the drool. An extra bib comes in handy when she soaks through the first one. Also, it’s a great barrier for those one-off, rare times the little bean might barf on the road, which my little bean did twice on our last road trip to Los Angeles two weeks ago.
  • An extra pacifier. Ok, so not all beans use pacifiers (& not all parents believe in those little suckers), but for those of us who do, it’s pretty handy to have an extra pacifier stowed away in the bag. I am a little more bougie & always keep at least two on hand. At home we have the mainstay pacifier that our little bean specifically uses for naps & bedtime (or when she gets ultra fussy). Then, on the road, the little bean has a travel pacifier that we don’t mind if it gets lost or dirtied.

Thank goodness my little bean is somewhat smoothly transitioning from the infant stage to toddlerhood. Then I can easily swap out items in her diaper bag that she no longer needs. It is also incredibly lucky for us that a few of our close friends just had little beans of their own. Then we are fortunate to pass down a lot of our bean’s gently loved items to her new friends. I almost can’t wait until my little bean outgrows her need for a diaper bag so I won’t have to lug around even more stuff when we go out together. I say almost ’cause I don’t want my little bean to grow up too fast. I still want to savor these precious younger times when she still has a need for diapers…& a need for me, her mama. Until the next diaper change, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

This year I am going to make a New Year’s resolution, & I am going to try extra hard to stick to it. I only have one thing on my resolution & that is to loosen up my grip & my tight control over the caregiving of my little bean. This mostly means that I must worry less about my external family members meddling offering help in my role as a parent (i.e. pushing unsolicited advice, comparisons to other babies within our family, or any minor criticism). Since having a baby, I have had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the matriarch of my family is trying to push me out of my little bean’s life & take over as the primary caregiver. I really, really, really need to stop hyper focusing on this matriarch & just be the best parent to the little bean as I can be, in my own way.

I am a controlling person in my personal life, but I am actively working on loosening the reins in my life. I put this quote as my smartphone background wallpaper that says, “Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.” I think about this quote often, & sometimes I will abide by this quote, but I have been known to slip up very often & revert back to my OCD behaviors of micromanaging everything, especially in my little bean’s life. I have taken small strides these past couple of months in small ways. I talk to myself, inside my head, but also sometimes under my breath in a mumbled voice. I send myself verbal reminders. Often times I have resorted to immediately turning around & walk out of the room so I as not give myself reason(s) to nit-pick on trivial things. Other times, I will try to just go with the flow & deal with the aftermath later. Or I will force myself to mentally brush off any immediate jerk reactions/feelings. Jian also often pulls me aside to remind me that I am reverting back to my old habits, help me calm my internal discomfort, & help get some logic back into my senses.


Last year (I can’t believe I can say that now), our little trio took a second road trip to Las Vegas again to visit my oldest brother & sister-in-law right after Christmas…like, immediately…on Boxing Day. Our annual family tradition, per my late father’s request, is that no matter what our family would be together at our home (which is still the childhood home where most of us were born & raised) for the Christmas holiday. It didn’t matter what it took, we must all be together, & that was something that my dad adamantly stood by.

This past year was the very first time my brother & his family couldn’t come back to home base, but we were able to turn our holiday event into two separate events, & that ended up being more meaningful to us. Spending exclusive time with my big brother & sister-in-law has always been fun & meaningful, & this past Christmas break was just so memorable. Unfortunately, my little bean wasn’t able to spend the holidays with both of her older cousins (my brother’s two daughters) due to scheduling conflicts, but she did get to spend time with one of her cousins & also her two favorite dogs.

Visiting my brother & his family at their new place in Las Vegas doesn’t really feel like we are “in Vegas”. Even though we can spot random gambling places all over town, we still feel very far removed from the glitzy, touristy Vegas Strip. It’s so much fun discovering new places to eat & explore whenever we head over to my brother’s new place. We can’t wait until the next chance to visit his family again.


Oh my God, I am extremely excited that 2 sets of my closest friends are expecting babies of their own. Well, by the time you are reading this post, one set of my friends have already delivered their baby & are safely nestled at home with their menagerie of furry pets. The other set of friends are still waiting on their labor & delivery due date, so the circle of our friends are all collectively cheering them on from the sidelines. I, myself, am the happiest of them all. Not only does my little bean get to have new friends to play & grow up with, but I won’t feel so isolated in my immediate friend group by being the only mother to a young child.

I do have other friends who are already parents of much older children than my own, but in terms of my immediate circle of friends, Jian & I have been the only parents so far with a child under toddler age. Now Jian’s best friend & his wife (both of whom are extremely close friends of ours) have just welcomed their own little bean, a girl in fact. We just video chatted with our friends last night, & so far they have perfectly settled right in to being new parents.

We both could not be more happy for all of our friends, both of whom supposedly have similar delivery due dates (& are both expecting girls). Our little tight-knit friend group is now expanding into the next generation. It will be so exciting to see how all of our children will grow up together & interact with each other. I am curious to see how my little bean will take the lead as the oldest child in her group. She is bossy, so showing the other kids how to do things will be her specialty.


Since we are on the topic of children, my little bean attended her very first official children’s birthday party two weekends ago. This marked the first actual time she’s been around a large group of children near her age. My little bean has spent time with her first cousins, but none of them are close enough in age that they can interact easily with each other.

One of my friends & his wife hosted a birthday party for their 2-year old daughter at a public park, & there sure were a lot of kids at the party. My little bean was incredibly nervous & shy in the beginning, but then again, so were the other kids. Most of the kids at the party were born during the full-blown pandemic lockdown days (as was my little bean), so this was the most public interaction any of the kids have gotten so far.

A lot of the other kids were happily running around & playing games, but my little bean just wanted to stay close to mama & papa. It was a fun & festive party & a great way for our little bean to experience an event with kids her own age. It also gave Jian & myself a taste of what lies in our foreseeable future… a lot of tired parents huddled around the adult drinks station, while all the kids run around in controlled chaos, hyped up from eating too many sugary snacks. That is one thing I am not looking forward to.


This coming weekend, Jian is taking me & the little bean on a little 2-day road trip to Monterey Bay. We are all really excited to have this little family getaway after my mom’s extravagant birthday week, this past week, where so many people came to visit & celebrate my mom’s 76th birthday. My mom’s sister came to visit for the week. My brother came up for a few days, sans his newly-introduced girlfriend. Then, my sister & her whole brood popped by for a quick weekend jetset, which was great for the rest of us because we can only take being around my sister & her new husband in small doses. My mom had the time of her life being surrounded by the people closest to her & celebrating with her.

This quick weekend road trip will be a great break away from the grand matriarch, & it will also be a good time to get some fresh air & spend some quality family time out of the house with our little bean. Plus, it’ll be a good break for Jian before he starts his new job working for a subsidiary company under the Amazon corporate umbrella. I have been looking forward to this mini vacation all week. Our packing is all done & we are ready to go! Until next time, cheers everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

Whose idea was it to travel in the hottest time of the year? Yes, it was our joint decision to travel during the hottest heat wave California has ever experienced in 150 years, but to be fair, we did’t know any of that until we were well on our way through the desert & far, far away from home. Ever since my big brother & his wife officially moved to Las Vegas, Nevada 5 months ago, Jian & I were making plans to bring our little bean to visit them. Of course other things kept pushing back our plans, like: going to Los Angeles for my aunt’s 60th birthday party & attending our friends’ wedding celebration party. So, last month, we packed up our bags & baby gear & high-tailed it through the unbearably hot California desert, all the way to the equally unbearably hot Nevada desert.


lunch time!

Along the way, we stopped to eat delicious meat at the restaurant of the local cattle ranch. Jian didn’t want to make too many pit stops because the further away from the Bay Area that we got, the hotter the weather got, & we didn’t want our little bean to overheat & get dehydrated. However, she had other plans in mind & decided to make an explosive poop diaper on the way to our first layover in Bakersfield, California. Luckily I always keep an emergency spare change of clothes in her diaper bag, so I was able to quickly clean her up & go on our merry way. The drive to Bakersfield was the start of the weather getting super hot, but it wasn’t until we actually reached Bakersfield when we finally hit the 10-inch thick cement wall of heat. From that point on, nothing would dip below 100 degrees fahrenheit, not even at night.


We made an overnight layover in Bakersfield, California before arriving at my brother’s new place. Finding his new house was proving to be a bit of a challenge. Jian & my brother kept going back & forth over which GPS app was the most accurate at finding his address since my brother now lives in a brand new neighborhood development that apparently isn’t updated on Google Maps yet. One contractor working on the upgrades to my brother’s house said he could easily find the address on the WAZE app, but none of the others. Meanwhile, Jian couldn’t locate my brother’s newly developed neighborhood on WAZE (or even Google Maps) at all, but he was able to find it on Apple Maps.

After all of the ruckus regarding which GPS app could find my brother’s new house, we reached our destination. Oppressive heat aside, we were super excited to spend time with the side of my family that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with. I am always vacationing with, spending time with, or visiting my mom’s side of my family including my 2nd older half-brother & older half-sister, but I hardly ever get to spend time with my oldest half-brother from my dad’s side of the family…or even my dad’s side of the family that is still based in Japan. This week was one of the most special, meaningful, & memorable week’s that I will always remember & cherish. Our little bean really got to spend quality time with her aunt & uncle as well as her oldest cousin, who was in town at the same time as us, looking at potential wedding venues. Jian & I were so happy that our little bean got to develop a good relationship & bond with that side of my family that I don’t often talk about.

Spending an entire week at my brother’s house really helped our little bean become comfortable in her new environment. She really took to the new house well, & got settled in almost completely on the first day. I was just happy to be able to spend quality time with my oldest brother with whom I’ve always had a close bond with (not just because we share the same now deceased father). It must have been a little weird for my brother to see his baby sister become a mother herself, but it was great to see him take on the uncle role to my little bean, & she just adores her uncle. My sister-in-law was just as equally awesome at being a new aunt. Every time she walked into the room, my bean would ask my sister-in-law to carry her & play with her. Jian & I also had fun just relaxing & hanging out with my brother (who is one of the best brother’s you’ll ever come across, ever).

hanging out with her toys

Towards the end of our trip Jian & I decided to do the cheesy, clichéd touristy thing & bring our little bean to see the infamous Las Vegas Strip. There was not much for us to do in this melt-your-face-off hot weather but to stay inside the shopping malls & get lost in the maze of hotel casinos. So, we only ended up taking our little bean to a few selected places on the Las Vegas strip. Our little bean got to experience her first tour to an aquarium when we visited the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay hotel. She was relatively okay when we were looking at all of the lizards & snakes at the beginning of the tour, but once we descended lower where all of the exotic fishes & sea animals swam around, our little one wasn’t too happy to be in such a dark place. It wasn’t long before she started fussing, which was our cue to high tail it out of there & head to our next spot. It was too hot to do anything outside (even walking between hotels was not a good idea). So we browsed around the Caesar’s Palace Forums shopping mall before heading home to change our little bean’s giant 💩 diaper.


On the next day we ventured back out to the Strip again, to see the famous seasonal flower display at the lobby of the Bellagio hotel. Every season or major holiday, the lobby garden at the Bellagio hotel changes into something dramatic & spectacular. This time the theme was a tropical paradise along with a giant replica of a treehouse (with furniture inside), & a massive feature display depicting Mother Nature as a huge flowering tree. I wish I had photos to show you, but there were just way, way, way too many tourists crowding the whole area, & since we were trying to be very vigilant about possible COVID-19 super-spreader events, we decided to take a quick walkthrough then go to our next spot. Jian had the brilliant idea of taking the 3 of us back to our old stomping grounds for good eats & eat at our favorite Japanese-themed restaurant for some delicious (yet Vegas overpriced) ramen. This was when our little bean decided to showcase her best behavior & let the parents have a leisurely lunch with a few delicious cocktails sprinkled in between.


Overall, we had an extremely memorable & meaningful trip to spend time with my big brother & sister-in-law. We are truly grateful & appreciate the time we spent with our family. I am super happy that my brother & sister-in-law not only got to properly meet my little bean, but they got to build a bond together, & that means more than anything in the world. I cannot stress this enough, but I really do have one of the best brothers in the whole world. It was a little sad to be leaving Las Vegas, & knowing that it’s not going to be so easy to be able to see my brother so easily anymore after he moved out of California. This was a super fun trip, & a real test to see how Jian & I as parents could handle a baby in the middle of the desert during one of the hottest times of the century. We really do have one of the best baby’s in the world. She is a real trooper, even when she soils herself on the road with no nearby rest stops or gas stations. It seemed like our little bean could handle this long road trip better than us parents ever could…& on that note, I shall end this post with one final photo of us at our last layover in Bakersfield before finally heading back home.

Why does our little bean love hotels so much???

Today’s song of the day:

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