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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:

I went on a quick road trip to Monterey Bay this past weekend with Jian & our little bean. We had a really fun time taking a scenic drive & enjoying the good weather. Our main purpose on this trip was to not only introduce our little bean to a new place, but to take her to a proper aquarium (the Shark Reef attraction at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel in Las Vegas does not count). All in all, we had a great time eating lots of seafood, hanging out at the Cannery row & the wharf areas, as well as exploring spots that were new to us, like the Lighthouse district & the hipster spots in the downtown area.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One thing I reluctantly decided to do while we were in Monterey was to book a spa massage at our hotel. Jian always encourages me to take advantage of the extra amenities (anything other than ordering room service) at the hotels we stay at on our vacations, but I am always stopping myself & making excuses not to do anything extra. I find it to be too extravagant & expensive. Doing things like getting a spa massage makes me feel selfish (in a non self-care kind of way), & I’d rather spend the money on my little bean instead.

This time Jian convinced me to book a spa appointment & treat myself to a massage. I guess he was feeling extra generous that weekend, specially since he got a new job working at a mega brand name tech company. He said he could handle our little bean by himself for an hour or two, having some quality father-daughter time. So, I bit the bullet, pushed aside all of my inner overreactions & excuses & booked an appointment. Well, I’ll just say it outright. I was simultaneously looking forward to getting a tension-relieving massage & looking forward to getting it over with.

I have had a couple of spa massages in my life. This wasn’t my first experience. Most of those past experiences were a waste of time & money, & a few of them stood out as being exceptionally memorable. Well, only one massage experience stands out in my memory as being the best massage I ever had & it was at a family-style ranch resort. My sister had plans for her kids to go swimming in the pool, learn how to feed chickens & ride horses all while my mom & I made plans to get shiatsu massages. That masseuse worked out every kink & knot in my body to the point of hurts-so-good pain. I nearly cried “ouch” out loud. I could feel every single nerve ending & muscle in my body being electrified in the best way imaginable. I was basically having a massage-gasm. It was incredible.

On this trip, however, I did not have the same experience, not even close. Don’t get me wrong. The masseuse I had in this experience was an absolutely delightful woman. She could not have made me feel more comfortable & relaxed. It was through my own stupidity, though, that I did not properly communicate or express my preferences.

Throughout most of the massage, I was feeling so ticklish all over my body. The masseuse noticed me wincing once in reaction to being tickled, & had asked me to tell her if I was feeling ticklish, but I was feeling too embarrassed to say anything after that. The appointment went very well. We had a fun time talking to each other & telling stories about our families. The massage itself was satisfying. It wasn’t a rock-my-world experience like the one I had before, but it was still adequate. I didn’t exactly feel like all my knots & kinks were relieved, but I did feel more relaxed & calm. Over all, it was a soothing massage.

Most often, almost always, when I think about getting a professional massage I stop myself with my own self-insecurities & weird quirks. First off, I’m very insecure about my own body image & shy away from professional massage therapists from seeing my exposed body rolls. Oh, & never mind my apprehension in changing my clothes in the shared dressing room. Next, I am not sure if I am supposed to keep making polite small talk, or if it’s ok to be quiet, like, am I being rude if I don’t engage in a friendly conversation? Also, I am never sure how much I am supposed to give in gratuity, & who am I supposed to give it to (i.e. charge the gratuity to my bill, or directly tip the professional in person?). Then, there are more news stories popping up about spas being fined for having pervy, handsy employees. Lastly, it’s the massage oils that deters me from getting massages; well, it’s more like the smells of massage oils that deter me. I just can’t stand the smell of any massage oil/lotion/product.

This is a big issue for me. Never mind the fact that I feel like an absolute grease ball afterwards, but I just can’t get rid of that unpleasant plastic-y coconut-y smell. I understand that not all massage oils smell bad, but the ones that I have encountered have all evoked an unpleasant feeling for me personally. Immediately after the massage, before I put my clothes back on, I vigorously wiped myself down with a towel. It was useless. In my mind, I still felt greasy & sticky afterwards. The smell, oh the smell!

The massage oil smelled like a cross between plastic & old cooking oil from a sketchy Chinese restaurant. I could not wait to get back to my hotel room for a thorough scrub down in the shower. I even made sure to scrub myself twice with extra body wash & my loofa towel, but the scent still lingered everywhere. Not even dousing myself in cologne could mask the odor smell of the massage oil. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but feel paranoid that all I could smell was the scent of the massage oil all over me. Maybe it was some sort of psychological reaction I was having, & I was so fixated on the smell that I was imagining that I could smell it everywhere. That was the perfect time for my quirky OCD behavior to pop up & drive me crazy.

Just the aroma of any massage oil is enough to turn me away from getting massages in the future, but I believe that with more careful planning, & communication on my part, I would probably get more massages in the future. Oh man, I wish I could go back to that ranch resort again just to book another epic shiatsu massage. Hopefully that resort has survived through the pandemic. Right now though, I don’t think I will be interested in going to a spa for quite a long while. Until the next time, I gotta work on being less ticklish. Cheers, all!

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:

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