Bye 2012!

At year’s end, things are pretty busy. Besides work being pretty consuming, the kids keep up pretty busy.

This late-fall/early winter flu season has hit us pretty hard. I was dealing with the flu for practically a whole month and only missed one and a half days of work, and the kids have pretty much been sick for the last two months.

Livi’s feeding has been taking a toll on us. Lately, each of her feedings have been taking about 1.5 hours, 4 times a day just to meet her minimum daily nutritional needs. Sometimes we take two hours for a feed, with a lot of burping in between every half ounce. Oftentimes it’s not just one person feeding her, but two. So her feedings could cumulatively consume 8 hours of adult time over the course of a day. There were two weekends in December where the feedings were especially time-consuming and frustrating, because she would throw up about an hour’s investment in feeding multiple times a day, and we would have to make it up. She gets bored sitting in the bouncer for so long during the feedings and we have to continually come up with new ways to entertain her during the feedings. Illie just recently gave up breast-feeding Livi during the night because she just doesn’t suck enough to make it worthwhile.

We wanted to plan a movie date for The Hobbit when it came out, but despite having help from the grandmothers and after hours of planning and trying to figure out logistics, we just gave up. Illie doesn’t have that chunk of time to take off between breast milk pumping sessions.

Livi is showing signs of starting to crawl. She just recently started crawling backwards. I think she’d be crawling normally by now if she ate normally and spent more time on the floor, but right now, almost all of her waking time is spend in a feeding position or being held upright so that she won’t throw up. There are some days where she doesn’t spend any time on the floor.

Ruby has taken to some kdrama OST songs that Illie likes to play. She asks for some of them to be played repeatedly and then tries to sing some of them, complete with the Korean lyrics. It’s pretty adorable. She’s starting to sing songs in the right pitch, so now we know she’s not tone deaf.

Her sleeping schedule is tough to figure out. If she were a D&D character, I’d definitely not categorize her has Lawful – perhaps True Neutral or Neutral Good. Can’t get her to nap when she needs to. When she doesn’t nap enough she definitely turns either Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral. And when she takes a daytime nap, she may be out for 4 hours. When we try to control her napping, she doesn’t get enough sleep during the day and gets cranky. Seems her circadian rhythm would operate more normally on a 27 hour day.

Ruby’s toilet training has progressed on its own. While she’s been truly toilet trained for her pooing, her peeing has been pretty behind and before we’d have to regularly take her to the toilet otherwise she will constantly slightly moisten her underwear. Now it seems she is holding her pee in a lot longer, and she won’t have any accidents throughout the day, though we don’t experience her coming to us telling us that she has to pee.

The winter holiday season brought about 50 visitors through our door over a span of a week. We love to host get-togethers – there were many we haven’t seen for years, but in many of these situations it’s really impossible to spend quality time and catch up in a substantial way with many of our visitors.

Beginning of November

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. That marks exactly one year since we moved into this house. Has it been that long already?

Came back from a wedding in the bay area and I’ve been dealing with a back-to-back flu. It doesn’t help that I’ve been putting off sick days from work and not resting. By the end of last week I was just unable to talk.

Ruby’s been hit with the the same flu twice as well, and Livi and Illie have been hit with it not as badly. Illie’s immune system is a lot better than mine and I think she only had fever for one day.

Livi turned 6 months last week. I still think of her as a 3 or 4 month old because of her size, so I’m constantly being surprised when she hits her expected milestones. Her weight is probably a bit under 5 percentile, and her height is about 10 percentile. The one upside is that we can make use of the swing until a later age.

Livi’s dropper feeding has been improving recently. She’s learned to deal with the milk in her mouth to the point where she no longer chokes. Her vomiting has reduced recently, and I’m not sure whether it’s because of the prevacid or whether her stomach has matured. It would still be a hell of a lot easier if she just took the bottle. Now that she’s 6 months, we’re slowly transitioning her to solids. She’s definitely ready but she doesn’t show that much interest, which is consistent with her overall attitude about eating.

Running with Mike

Every morning when I drive to work, I leave at the same time. For about two years, I drive by an elderly runner in around the same area in most mornings. I started waving hi to him and he would wave back. He goes a maintainable easy pace, with a quick cadence. Yesterday it rained for the first time in a long time, and I saw him running with an umbrella. What dedication!

I had a training class for today so I was able to leave to work later than I usually do. I decided to take off and run his path and meet up with him. I caught up to him near his turnaround point. I found out that he does two-a-days, to about 10 miles a day. He’s retired from the aerospace industry for four years, and has a son in his twenties who’s a urologist. He loves to run and stay fit. He gave me advice on not spoiling my kids. He knows a lot of residents in the neighborhood. And when we ran by my parents’ house, he thought my mom drove a red corvette. No, that’s my silly aunt who’s always visiting.

Mike is living my dream retirement life.

Beginning of October

Ruby just turned 2.5 years and Livi, 5 months.

Ruby started preschool at Montessori in about mid-August. At first I considered it daycare, but after parents’ night, I got a really good impression of it. I think she’s learning a lot of things there that we can’t teach her here.

One of the things that Ruby really loves are animals. I have a feeling she’s going to make us get a dog when she gets older. Or maybe a cat. I think she’s a cat person. If she could have a choice, I’d be she’d want us to get an elephant. She loves them the best.

Ruby isn’t completely 100% toilet trained. For pooing, she’s completely toilet trained. She doesn’t tell us when she needs to pee until she’s peed a couple drops into her underwear, but now she can wait longer before that happens. If we take her to the toilet every one and a half hours, we never get an accident. At least now, she never has accidents that are bad enough to reach the floor.

We have the sense that Ruby is dropping her daytime nap because sometimes she goes through a whole day without napping, but then she crashes the next day. We try to put her to bed earlier so she can get the sleep she needs for the day, but it’s hard to put her to bed early enough. Right now we’re kind of in an awkward stage where she naps on day and perhaps doesn’t get a nap the next.

Livi is gaining weight extremely slowly. Feeding her has been a huge challenge. She rarely finishes a breast, and she entirely rejects bottle feeding. So we’ve had to feed her with a dropper, with each ounce taking about 10-20 minutes. And we have to be very careful because she can vomit it up. Just two hours ago I was just about finishing a milestone ounce and about to burp her when she vomited two ounces. Frustrating as hell.

Livi’s thrush has gotten better but she still doesn’t have good feeding habits. She gets up twice a night now. I don’t know how Illie can maintain this with the little amount of sleep she gets, but she does. We moved Livi out of our room into her own shortly before Illie resumed work.

At least Livi’s personality remains very easy. She was turning a bit after she turned 4 months, and now after turning 5 months she’s rotating along the floor clockwise. It doesn’t take much effort to get her to laugh. If it weren’t for the difficulty feeding, she’d be the perfect baby.

In September Rosa and I went to our British cousin’s wedding. She didn’t get a professional wedding photographer so I volunteered. It was the first wedding that I shot seriously, after getting professional equipment and post-processing software. I took a week to post-process the pictures, and in the end I think my cousin is happy with the pictures. I have a lot of improving to do, but I’m really not serious or ambitious enough to put effort into getting better. In any case, I loved the place. It was so beautiful. It reminded me of Williamstown, and after getting back here I had pleasant nighttime dreams about being back in that environment. I miss being in such a green place with real seasons.

Between the two kids, we have almost no free time. After the kids are up, it’s go and go until they go to sleep. We’ve been trying to get Ruby to be interested in books so we try to borrow about 5-10 books from the library every so often. I probably read to her about 5-10 stories a day – and it’s working, because Ruby is constantly asking me to read her books. I really have no idea how parents with more than two kids do it. Even one kid is really busy.

My effort to get back into shape is really difficult. On weekends, I get up at 4:30am to do a 8-9 mile run and get back before 7am before the kids get up. In the middle of the week I try to alternate between cycling and running, but when Illie’s mom is out on vacation I cull the cycling part. I’m in better shape than I was during the summer, but not close to where I was back before Ruby was born.

End of July

Pretty much ever since my bike accident last August or so, I’ve lost a good amount of fitness and haven’t been able to make it up. Running-wise, I’m about 40 seconds per mile slower than I was pre-accident.My long run has not exceeded 10 miles for a very long time. I’ve gained about 5-10 pounds and this has essentially become my new norm for weight. It’s all a bit frustrating but I think I’m starting to psychologically adjust to my new paces and train accordingly. Especially these days, having two kids makes it practically impossible to train the way I’d like.

These days, Ruby’s development has been almost completely verbal. She’ll oftentimes repeat what we say several times. Her Chinese and Taiwanese has gotten to the point where she can communicate to us about practically everything she wants. Her English is mostly composed of single vocabulary words, though we’ve taught her to count in English, since she’ll be doing math in English in the future. Two funny things have transpired from her improving verbal skills:

  • One time at the park she heard my mom call my dad by his name. She repeated it, “Rosano”, and they thought it was hilarious, and then said “Bye Rosano” as he was leaving the park. Since then he’s continuously encouraged her to call him “Rosano.” Today as my mom was leaving our house, Ruby asked to see “Rosano.” My dad
    would get a kick out of it.
  • Ruby has completely taken a liking to William’s mom, ever since she visited several months ago. She visited again last week just to see us, and Ruby started interacting with her. Knowing that William’s/Ed’s mom doesn’t speak Chinese/Taiwanese, Ruby started pretending to speak English and made up words. It had English inflections and sounds, but it was just gibberish. She started reading to William’s mom in this gibberish language, and then started dancing and speaking. Nobody knew what she was talking about. It went on for about half an hour. It was hilarious.

Livi has been an exceptionally easy baby except for the feeding. She has thrush just like Ruby at the same age, except the thrush has made feeding painful for her. Livi hasn’t gained as much weight as Ruby did at the same age. We started Illie and Livi on the medication and it’s become a bit better, but the feeding is still very difficult. And Livi is still much harder than Ruby with the bottle. Beyond that, Livi almost never cries. She’ll cry out, but doesn’t sustain a cry. She started sleeping through the night a bit after she turned two months. At this point her night-time sleep practically always lasts over 6 hours. Also, for awhile now she’s started responding to and following faces. It’s very easy to get her to smile now.

Baby Wu, born 5/5 11:45am

On Friday I stayed at work especially late to finish laying down a big piece of the foundation for a ~half million dollar project – if I had not finished this it would have probably taken someone else probably ten times longer. It was done “just in case”. Happened to be the right thing to do.

Illie woke up on Saturday morning at 4am with regular contractions. She woke me up at 5am, and we were both relatively well rested. I spent about half an hour firing off emails to prepare my coworkers for my absence. We called my mom to come over to take care or Ruby, and we checked into the hospital at about 6:30am, literally without any birth plan. In the first examination Illie was 5 cm dilated, and progression looked great. Once she got the IV attached, the contractions slowed down, so we started the lowest dose of pitosin. We both refused to watch TV or surf the internet, and labor didn’t seem to progress and we were getting really bored.

After about an hour the contractions shortened to about 2.5 – 3 minutes and it quickly got to the point where Illie decided to get an epidural. The nurse said she needed two bags of IV fluid before the epidural could start. During one particularly painful contraction Illie said that she needed to push the baby out. Since she was about halfway into the second IV bag, we knew that the baby would be delivered without any anesthesia. We were unprepared for this – we didn’t seriously consider this to be a possible scenario.

The rest was somewhat like what would come out of a movie or a TV show. It was a bit scary and amazing at the same time. During the contractions and the pushing, Illie squeezed my hand, hugged me really hard, and had a huge urge to bite me. She went from 5cm to 10cm within minutes. The doctor literally arrived a minute before the baby popped out. Illie was a warrior.

NICU was called in because the monitor showed that the baby’s heart rate was at about 60bpm. I think it was a monitor problem though. The baby got apgars of 9 and 9. Weight at 6 pounds even, 19 inches height.

There are no post-partem complications and everything looks normal so far. Hopefully we can get a discharge tomorrow.

At first glance she looked a lot like Ruby. This morning, a bit less so. She seems more mellow than Ruby. And fortunately, she latches a lot more easily. This morning she’s able to latch within a minute without my or nurse help, whereas at this point with Ruby it took about 15-20 mins to latch with the help of post-partem nurses and lactation consultants. We’re very happy about this.

We still don’t officially have a name yet. I have a name that I like and Illie doesn’t have any names. I want Illie to choose and she wants me to choose. We’re at an impasse and we’re still procrastinating.

happy 2nd birthday ruby!

Today is Ruby’s 2nd birthday. Actually, in about 40 minutes. Has it been that quick? We had a small family gathering consisting of the four grandparents and Rosa. I think Ruby felt a bit intimidated with all the attention focused on her.

At this age her verbal abilities are starting to noticeably improve. She can recite numbers 1-10 in English and Taiwanese, and 1-20 in Mandarin. With almost every object in the books we read to her, we can call out the name in any of the three languages and she can point it out. Just recently she started being able to make two word sentences in Taiwanese, which is the main language she speaks. She’s recently started saying two word sentences in Taiwanese translating to, “Ruby will do it”, “hold me mom”, “do it dad”, “Ruby get it”, “Mama get it”, “Mama’s blanket”, “bye bye ” and “I want”. She’s also improved a lot at repeating words that adults say.

She can also recite the words of at least five Chinese songs in their entirety – though she can’t carry a tune yet. Yesterday she randomly started “singing” a children’s song about glorious it is to be soldier and Taiwan taking over the mainland by force. We hate that song, but Ruby likes it. Silly KMT.

I barely have any time to blog any more. Besides work being very consuming since this beginning of this year, I come home and Ruby demands a lot of attention since she doesn’t have TV to distract her. I don’t have much time for anything else. Oftentimes I’m cooking dinner and Ruby will ask me to hold her. “Bao bao!!” Brings back vivid memories of when I was Ruby’s age and I’d go up to my mom cooking in the kitchen and say “poh-a-poh!” so she’d carry me. So, just like my mom about 32 years ago, I’m carrying Ruby with one arm while cooking with the other arm. I remember my mom putting me down because her arm got tired. Unless I’m using both, my arms gets tired too. But it’s kind of a precious feeling, I remember the comfort that I felt from my mom carrying me, so those memories come back when I’m holding Ruby. Except that I wasn’t as fidgety as Ruby is. As my mom says, one day Ruby will no longer want me to carry her, so I have to treasure this time I have now. I try my best.

Vacation to the Pacific Northwest

First week of June was a vacation to the Pacific Northwest to visit my brother in law in Portland. We then stayed three nights at Paradise Inn in Mt Rainier, and then the weekend in Seattle where we stayed with Maz and saw Illie’s high school best friends Erin and Chris. Illie and I are really in love with the Pacific Northwest, and if it weren’t for family in Southern California there would be no doubt that we would move up there. It is so green, alive, and beautiful, and the cloudy/misty/cool climate is perfect for us. I went running in the suburbs of Hillsboro, and due to the perfect running temperature (cloudy, low 50s), a brisk low 7 min/mile pace felt strangely easy. That’s compared to the same effort at high 7 min/mile pace in Southern California. I ran with Illie’s cousin, then with a Malaysian intern from Mt Rainier I met, and then with Erin and Chris. Before the vacation, I had felt burnt out at work, and I came back from the vacation refreshed, well rested and happier.

I felt like Ruby’s development was noticeable during the trip, especially since I was spending more time with her and not away at work. She’s becoming more verbal and blabbing more – some of her favorite sounds are “daht”, “baht”, and “bahf”. She’s starting to associate “ma” with Illie and starting to say “ba” but she doesn’t use them to directly address us. Her understanding of our Taiwanese has improved and we’re starting to speak to her more as a child than as a baby. She’s also a lot more stable walking now, and has started to run.

Staying with Maz and Hwayoung was great because they have a 6 and 3 year old that Ruby is especially curious about. Ruby was very curious about their toys, and especially liked following the 6 year old around. With those kids, we as parents felt like it was okay to not keep an eye on Ruby all the time, and it was relaxing. Also, staying with parents made it a lot easier to care for Ruby because everything we needed was there, the house was already child proof, and any kind of mess we made was the norm. That was probably the highlight of the trip, along with recounting college memories from a decade ago.

Spoonfeeding her has become almost impossible, especially when she doesn’t nap enough. She’s figured out our tricks and is adamant about doing things herself instead of having things done for her. But her ability to self feed has improved, though not as much as we’d like. Illie has constantly been trying to fatten her up, and we’ve tried to give her lots of puree with high fat/caloric content, but to our dismay she doesn’t like carbs and protein very much. Yesterday night Illie and I observed that lately her food preferences, in adult terms really makes her a "health nut". She loves fruit, especially steamed apples, oranges, and strawberries. She also loves vegetables such as chickpeas, onions, peppers, and black olives. She absolutely loves drinking plain water and dislikes milk and juice. She’ll eat rice and tofu. The only meat that she’ll eat is fish, and she doesn’t like beef, potatoes, cookies, cake, or any kind of junk food. Is this common for kids this age? I hope she carries these tastes through adulthood.