Sunday, August 30, 2015

Linna's 4th birthday party at the play and learn cafe.

I still can't believe our baby is 4 years old! Since all three of us were home in Minnesota from Singapore for Linna's birthday this year, we decided to host a really fun party at one of her favorite places... The Play and Learn Cafe in Minnetonka. We invited her cousins, friends from her Minnetonka ECFE class, and friends that we haven't seen in Minnesota for 2+ years. The party was a fantastic reunion of so many friends from the past 4 years.

4-year-old Linna, full of sass in her new Lilly Pulitzer for Target dress from Auntie Lisa and Uncle John.

If you haven't been to the Play and Learn Cafe yet, you're missing out. It's located in Minnetonka, and is a gourmet "foodie" cafe and indoor play-area for parents/caregivers with children under the age of 6. We love it because the play-area is safe and fun for younger kids, and conveniently located just outside the cafe where parents can enjoy a snack or coffee while their kiddos play. The Play and Learn Cafe has a separate and completely enclosed infant area for babies under the age of 2 as well.

So much color in Linna's art-party room!

Art Party at the Play and Learn Cafe.

Art tables all set up for the little artists.

Painting elephants!

The birthday girl painting her elephant.

Beautiful painted elephants by little artists.

I love throwing parties, and for the last 3 years, I have gone ALL out for Linna's birthday. Her first birthday party was hosted at our home in Minnetonka with 80 of our closest friends and family. Her second birthday was a "fire-fighter princess" themed party at the Hopkins Fire Department, complete with fire truck rides, pinata, and an appearance by Sparky the Fire Dog. Linna's third birthday party was a pool party at our home in Singapore, with some fun pool entertainment provided by Kids Pool Party Singapore, and balloon entertainment provided by THAT Balloons. This year, since I am very pregnant with our second baby, I decided to let the Play and Learn Cafe take care of ALL the details.

A Play and Learn Cafe staff member reading to some party guests.

Linna with her girlfriends Noa and Maddie. These girls' mamas were also Hopkins Raspberry Festival Queens, just like Mama Saigh. We call these gorgeous girls our Raspbabies!

Easiest birthday party ever! We even remembered to take a family photo.
Party guests starting to arrive.

Linna's pal Viv, building at the workbench.

I can honesty say that after I sent out the invitations, I didn't stress or lift a finger for this birthday party. Sarah Bakkum (owner) and her staff at the Play and Learn Cafe took care of EVERYTHING! Linna chose an "art" themed birthday party (they have lots of party themes to choose from), and all 20 kids got to paint their own ceramic elephant during the party. The room was incredibly vibrant and colorful, decorated in art supplies, candies, and other party favors. I helped select the food, but didn't have to prep anything! Papa Saigh and I got to sit back, talk to guests, and simply enjoy our daughter turning 4 years old.

(A very serious birthday girl.)

The cupcakes were SO good! The Play and Learn Cafe also sells made-to-order, from scratch cupcakes, for $20-26/dozen (depending on how "fancy" you'd like them), and they can be picked up at your convenience. Call 612-599-7282 to place your order.

Linna's pal Maddie on the play equipment.

Mama Anderson with her boys Calvin and Tucker at the art tables.

Linna's pal Sophia setting up her tea party.

As each party guest arrived, the Play and Learn Cafe staff made the parents feel comfortable about letting their kids just run in and start having fun. The kids could climb on the play equipment, ride around the play-area on trikes and bikes, dig in the sand pit, and parents with little ones could put their kids in the enclosed infant play-area. Since the party was from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., we decided to go lighter on the food, and let everyone graze and snack as they wanted to. We served coffee, water, and juice for the kids, a gorgeous rainbow fruit platter, organic cheese sticks and Annie's crackers for the kids, a charcuterie plate, and some amazing goat cheese, blueberry compote, and fresh mint filo crust appetizers. It's always difficult to get little ones to sit still for a full meal, especially when trying to pull them away from all the fun, so this food spread worked perfectly. The birthday cupcakes, made by Sarah Bakkum, were absolutely outstanding! Her cupcakes are made from scratch, colorful, and were set up on artist easels and used as decoration during the party as well. The were so so yummy.

So warm and yummy!

Birthday food all set up and ready to eat!

Happiest birthday girl with her purple chocolate cupcake.

Linna's cousin Ellie loved the cupcakes too!

We decided to have Linna open her birthday gifts during the party. Mary, one of the Play and Learn Cafe staff members did a fantastic job wrangling all the kids into a separate gift-opening room, and organized a gift-opening game for everyone. Those who were too "busy" to participate were able to continue playing. At the end of the party, Mary and other staff members helped carry all of the extra food and gifts out to our car, which was SO helpful!

Cute little party guests, Elliot and Gratia.

Gift opening!

Linna was very excited about her new soccer gear from Uncle Scotty, Auntie Holly and Cousin Zoe!

Linna with the best party helper Mary.
Both papa Saigh and I were completely blown away by the professionalism and organization of the staff at the Play and Learn Cafe. I remember every moment from this party, and didn't have to lift a finger. Linna had so much fun and still talks about her birthday this year. She received so many wonderful gifts from family and friends, and is such a lucky little girl. Thank you to everyone who came out to make Linna's birthday so special. And a HUGE thank you to the Play and Learn Cafe for making this party to fun, memorable, and easy for this pregnant mama!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

My big, fat, pregnancy meltdown.

At least Kim Kardashian has a make-up artist to make her ugly-cry
seem less ugly. My pregnant a*s, does not.
I'm not even going to try and sugar-coat this week. It's been a roller-coaster of emotions, and the week isn't even over yet. While these may be first-world problems, they're situations that have been building, resulting in a full-blown, Kim Kardashian ugly cry, hormonal melt-down via Skype with Papa Saigh this morning.

I am currently living in my parents' basement with our 4-year-old and my gigantic pregnant belly, while Papa Saigh wraps things up for us in Singapore (thank you, Papa Saigh). We are currently searching for a home in the west metro of the Twin Cities, in a complete sellers market.


While I'm very thankful to my parents for letting us stay with them rent-free, I'm sure you can understand my desire to have my own space. I have looked at dozens of home from Chaska and Mound, up to the top of Plymouth. At one point, Papa Saigh wanted me to consider Delano. Gah! Because of the amazing Chinese immersion program and school district in Minnetonka, we decided to send our kids there. We found a fantastic home in Minnetonka a couple weeks ago that had been on the market for months and recently dropped in price, so we decided to put an offer in on it (well below asking price, but within our budget). Of course, we were outbid by another party, and moving on from that house was rough for this pregnant and hormonal mama. Papa Saigh had to fly back to Singapore the day we found out that we didn't get the house.


This week, we found another fantastic house in south Plymouth that I fell in love with... Enough to bring our 4-year-old to and ask for her thoughts. It has a huge, fenced-in backyard with a playhouse that Linna loved. Papa Saigh fell in love with it as well, even though he never actually stepped foot inside it. The house had been on the market for months, and the price had dropped significantly in recent weeks/days, but it was still over our budget. We decided to put in an offer (lower than asking price), as the seller seemed extremely motivated to sell), only to be countered at FULL asking price.

SO frustrating.

Since we loved the house so much, we decided to stretch our budget and offer a bit more, and the seller decided to work with us. Yay! Yesterday, we came to a reasonable agreement and we were ready to proceed with the purchase agreement. I was thrilled to finally see a light at the end of this long, exhausting, house-hunting tunnel, and started making plans to move us into the house as quickly as possible (the seller agreed to close on the house within the next month). At 10 p.m. last night, we received an email from our realtor saying the the seller was having "second thoughts" and he rescinded his offer.

Are you f-ing KIDDING me?!

I know the situation was beyond our control, and the house was never really ours, but I think I experienced every emotion possible last night. I wanted to call the seller and give him a piece of my emotionally unstable and hormonally-unbalanced mind. I bawled my eyes out to Papa Saigh via Skype, while our 4-year-old watched me in confusion. I felt like the universe seriously wanted me to be a pregnant, "single mom", living in her parents' basement for the rest of my life.

Today was NOT a good day.

I am trying really hard to suck it up and pull it together for the sake of our 4-year-old, but this house-hunting experience f-ing sucks. I'm doing my best to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and have faith that the right house IS actually out there. It's just tough being 27 weeks pregnant, and imagining having to birth my baby in my parents' basement (I know that's being a bit dramatic, but this is where my head is at). I'm a very particular and "picky" person, so you can imagine how difficult it is for me to look beyond certain "cosmetic" defects during our home search. I am doing my best to compromise so we can actually find a home in our price range, but there's only so much cat-piss smelling, hoarder-looking, beaten-up house searching one person can do.


Now, back to searching...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Learning swim strokes at foss swim school in chanhassen.

When we decided to come home to Minnesota from Singapore for the summer, one of the first things I did was sign Linna up for swimming lessons at Foss Swim School in Chanhassen. Linna took her first swimming lesson at Foss Chanhassen with Teacher Lorrie when she was just 7 months old. Since then, she did another session when she was 2 years old, and now at 3 years old. Linna completed the the Littles Level 4 Summer Camp with Coach Marie this time around, and I am so impressed with all that she learned in just eight, 30-minute lessons.

Linna has always been confident in the water. She loved bath-time as an infant, grew up with a swimming pool in her backyard when we lived in Singapore from 2012-2015, and started swimming without floaties at just 21 months old. I honestly credit Foss for Linna's love of the water. From day 1, they taught both of us swimming skills and safety, and they make being in the water very fun!

During this summer's 2-week camp, Coach Marie introduced Linna and the two other girls in her class (a 5 1/2 and a 6-year-old) to the front and back crawl. Day 1 was a little rough for Linna, as we've never really worked on these strokes before. It was really hard for Linna (she's only 3 years old) to get the feet-kicking and arm strokes coordinated, along with trying to figure out the front to back body-flip/float. This is video of Linna on her first day of camp...

This is video of Linna's 2nd day at camp, where you'll see that Coach Marie still had to help Linna coordinate the kicking and arm movements...

But by day 7 of camp, Linna was doing the front crawl all on her own...

She still has more to improve on, but I am so impressed with her progression at just 3 years old. During Linna's evaluation on day 7, her coaches decided to keep her in the Littles Level 4 class, so she'll repeat it either this fall or winter. 

Other than the front crawl, Linna also learned the back crawl, and the class worked on back-kicking, back-floating, diving, etc. Coach Marie really emphasized swimming safety, including teaching the kids not to fuss with their wet hair in their face when rolling from the front to the back float. This way, if the kids ever fall off a dock, into a lake/pool, etc., their first instinct is to float on their back, and not struggle to swim while pushing their hair off their face. She also had the kids start the class without goggles on, since they probably wouldn't have goggles on in a potential drowning situation. Coach Marie made sure the kids were always on the bench in the water when one of the other kids took turns working on a swim skill with her. I really appreciated her focus on safety during each class. She's been with Foss for almost two decades, so she knows what she's doing!

Linna at 7 months old and age 2 with Coach Lorrie, and age 3 at Foss Chanhassen.

At the end of each class, if the kids were good listeners, they got to pick a game or fun thing to do for the last few minutes of class. Every day, a different class "leader" got to choose the game, and most of the time the girls chose "chop chop timber" or the "magic carpet". These things made the kids look forward to coming to class every day. 

(Linna, age 3, working on her back stroke with Coach Marie.)

I also really like the idea of the camps at Foss. While it's nice to spread out once-a-week classes over a few months, I think our 3-year-old learned more quickly during the Monday - Thursday, 2-week camp this time around. I guess it all depends on your personal schedule, but I think we'll stick with a camp next session. We are looking forward to our next session with Foss in Chanhassen, as Linna asks when we're going back every day!

Linna, age 3, with Coach Marie at Foss Swim School in Chanhassen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Baby saigh #2 pregnancy: Weeks 24 & 25.

24 Weeks Pregnant

24 weeks pregnant in a navy and white stripped maternity top from Target ($13)!

I keep forgetting how many weeks pregnant I am. The baby has been moving around a LOT, and this week Papa Saigh's mom got to feel the baby kick. Linna has been asking to feel the baby kick, but she doesn't quite understand that she needs to be patient, and that the baby sleeps a lot too. One day, she randomly whispered to me, "Mama, I think it's a girl". I'm still convinced it's a boy. I've also been super uncomfortable lately. I feel like I'm in my third trimester, rather than my second. If I sit in the car for too long, I have to lay my body out straight in order to try and get comfortable again. My back hurts, my acid reflux is out of control, and I just feel swollen. I'm taking Ranitidine (150mg) twice a day, and I'm still having issues at night (like vomiting in my mouth when I sleep issues - so gross and scary). I don't remember feeling THIS uncomfortable this early when I was pregnant with Linna, but this pregnancy is seriously wiping me out. The baby is not only kicking and punching, but I think he or she has completely flipped. At my last doctor appointment, my doctor told me that the baby was laying sideways, but I now think that he or she is head down because I swear I felt him/her flip. I am loving all the movement, but it makes me feel like I'm floating on some rough waters lately.

25 Weeks Pregnant

25 weeks and 6 days pregnant on a chilly and rainy day in Minnesota. Loving my new comfy black maternity pants from Stitch Fix, and my necklace and sweater-wrap from the Fly Boutique. Getting big-er!

A couple weeks ago, we had decided on a boy and a girl name for this baby. Well, this might have changed. When you're pregnant, it might be the worst idea EVER to tell people your baby-name ideas/choices. Everyone AND their brother's uncle has an opinion about every name, and most of the time they're not positive opinions. We decided to tell a few close family members and friends our baby name choices, and with every name, at least one person had a negative association with our name choices. "I used to babysit for a ______ and he was a little shit", or "Don't name her _______ because her nickname will be 'Fat _______'". Woof.

But hey... we DID ask for opinions. Now, we're back to the drawing board to find some great baby names. Do you have any good ones?!

This month, I've also found myself extremely emotional, tired, sore, and uncomfortable. I cry about the oddest things. Sleeping has become rough, as I'm either trying to get comfortable or getting up to pee a million times per night. The baby moves a LOT, which I love, but sometimes I become a little nauseous with all the flips and punches.

We also found out that Papa Saigh is being transferred back to Minnesota from Singapore for work. While this is incredibly exciting news for our entire family, and a huge relief that I didn't have to fly 20 hours again back to Singapore while 25 weeks pregnant, the news comes with a lot of big decisions. On Wednesday, Papa Saigh got on a plane to fly back to Singapore, which leaves me with the 4-year-old, living at my parents' house, searching for a new house and a preschool for Linna, etc. We knew this would be the case if he was transferred, and it's basically the life we signed up for when we decided to move half-way around the world three years ago. We put an offer in on a house in Minnetonka this week (a house that I absolutely love), and the seller decided to counter with another offer. This basically means there's only a super slight chance of us getting the house, so we're back to house hunting again... without Papa Saigh. We have so much going on right now, and would appreciate all the positive vibes we can get! What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... so they say;)

Friday, August 14, 2015

The singapore saighs are moving back to minnesota.

The Saigh family has some news! During this recent visit back home to Minnesota for the summer, Papa Saigh found out that he'll be transferring back to the US for work earlier than initially planned. This means that Linna and I won't be flying back to Singapore on August 19th, and instead will be staying in Minnesota permanently. While I am incredibly relieved to not have to get back on a plane and fly 20 hours with a 4-year-old while I'm 25 weeks pregnant, and so excited to be staying in Minnesota where much of our family and friends live, I'm sad to not have a proper goodbye with my Singapore family. This news has come pretty suddenly, and details are still being worked out, but the Saighs are officially moving back to Minnesota!

Minnesota has always been our home, but our 4-year-old has spent a majority of her life in Singapore. So, this news is bittersweet and we're now having to explain to Linna that we won't be returning to Singapore. I know that kids are very resilient, and we'll make this transition extremely positive for Linna, but we're currently making a lot of big changes and decisions. We have to get Linna registered for a new preschool, find a new house, etc... All while preparing for the arrival of Baby Saigh #2. Nothing like cramming some major life decisions into a few short weeks, huh?!

Some people will be hearing this news for the first time, while others have known that this was a possibility for a little while now. We'll have a lot more to tell you all in the coming weeks, but we just wanted to share this news as we start our move back home to Minnesota. Our family has been incredibly lucky to have had the experiences that we've had during our three years in Singapore. We've made lifelong friends from around the world, traveled to countries that we never imagined possible, and have experienced a life that most will only dream about. Our daughter has also experienced three years that I hope she'll always remember. We are SO incredibly lucky.

But the time has come for us to move back home. The life of an expat family can be filled with unexpected moves, job changes, and difficult decisions. It hasn't been easy living 10,000+ miles away from our loved ones, so we are excited to get back to our "simple" Minnesota life.

Stay tuned for more to come...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Linna's last words as a 3-year-old.

Tomorrow, our baby turns 4. I say this every year, but I can't believe she's going to be 4 years old... AND a big sister this year! Linna is so smart, makes us laugh every day with her wit, is incredibly curious about everything, always asks the question "why?", and is a "shy" kid, but so funny when she warms up to people. Plus, she is a pretty cute kiddo! She has had a pretty amazing life for a 3-year-old, living in Singapore and traveling to more countries than Papa Saigh and I combined by the time we were 25. Linna is a really wonderful kid, with a diva-like personality (just like her Mama). Her Papa is her best friend, along with her blanket named "snuggles". We love you, Linna Jane, with all of our hearts, and wish you the happiest 4th birthday. But for one more night, we'll snuggle you as our little 3-year-old. I may or may not be pregnant and emotional...

(Linna's last words as a 2-year-old: August 7th, 2014)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Baby saigh #2 pregnancy: Weeks 22 & 23

22 Weeks Pregnant

22 weeks pregnant in a top and leggings from Stitch Fix.

Holy moly does this baby like to move and shake it! I've been feeling so many punches and kicks on the inside and outside, and they are pretty strong. It's not even sugar or caffeine that sets this baby off anymore. He or she just likes to kick all day, every day. It's gotten so regular that I get nervous when I don't feel anything for a few hours. I can see these little punches and jabs on the outside too. My appetite is still abnormally large, and I'm sure my weight gain is growing. When I get hungry... LOOK OUT! I'm loving ALL types of food, especially my Minnesota comfort staples (Chipotle, hotdish, everything bagels with scallion cream cheese, etc.). I haven't given up coffee either. I have about two cups every day. And judge if you will, but I'm also enjoying an occasional glass of wine here and there. It's incredible how different I'm treating this pregnancy from my first. When I was pregnant with Linna, I didn't touch wine, raw fish, and was so cautious with pretty much everything. I joke about Baby Saigh #2 having "no chance", because I eat sushi, enjoy an occasional glass of vino, and often even forget that I'm pregnant. I even sprayed my entire body with DEET bug repellent at the cabin, and only AFTER the fact did I remember that I was pregnant. Oops! Hopefully this baby won't have a leg growing out of it's head, or an extra set of toes:)

23 Weeks Pregnant

It's a miracle! Papa Saigh and I may have agreed on a boy and a girl name for Baby Saigh #2! For the last month, Papa Saigh has been working in Singapore while the 3-year-old and I enjoy summer vacation in Minnesota. So, I've been texting baby name ideas to Papa Saigh... A majority of which have been FIRMLY rejected. Papa Saigh isn't shy about telling me his opinion on my name suggestions, but two names that I love, he actually likes too! I've gone through all sides of our family trees, and I think we've decided on the baby's name. We still don't know whether Baby Saigh #2 is a boy or a girl, but we have names for both. We've been pretty "set" on our boy name, but our girl name has been much more of a challenge. I've found a few names that I like, but I've been waiting for that "THAT'S IT" name. When I was like 20 weeks pregnant with Linna, we had just found out that she was a girl, and Papa Saigh's Grandma Pollard told us that her mom's name was "Linna". I remember turning to Papa Saigh saying, "Oh my gosh, do you love that name?!". He did, and from that moment on, our baby girl's name was Linna Jane (my mom's name is Jane, and my middle name is Jane). I love both of our baby names for Baby Saigh #2 so much that I now want to have a boy AND a girl. Guess we'll just have to have a third child!

Looking forward to drinking this in 4 weeks (insert sarcasm). I despise the glucose test drink!

In other news, my "nether-regions" hurt like a mo-fo! My lady bits seriously feel bruised. What gives?! I'm also super emotional. We picked Papa Saigh up at the airport on Saturday, as he flew in from Singapore, and I cried at everything (the sight of the airport, seeing families hugging, watching Linna excitedly wait for her Papa to walk off the plane, etc.). EVERYTHING makes me cry these days! Yesterday, Papa Saigh got to feel the baby kick for the first time on the outside of my belly. That was super special. I had a check-up with my doctor this week where I got to hear the baby's heartbeat (love that sound). His or her heart-rate is 147, and my doctor says the baby is laying sideways currently. I'll have an ultrasound in four more weeks, along with the glucose screening, as well as some type of vaccination (I can't remember what my doctor said it was for). My belly is measuring right on track, even though I feel like I'm gigantic. We were at a National Night Out party this week, and I met a woman who was 26 weeks pregnant with her first baby. While she was barely showing, I look like I'm 8 months pregnant at just 23 weeks! Overall, I'm feeling ok, but I don't seem to have the energy women normally have in their second trimester. I get tired very easily, which is tough when you have an active almost 4-year-old. At 23 weeks, Baby Saigh #2 is over a pound and the size of a large mango! Oh, and if you ask Linna what we're having, she says "a boy-girl". Interesting.