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.

Sunday’s celebration of Doug’s life

One of my best friends from childhood is William. His dad is Doug. Doug is a well known activist in Seal Beach who has been a strong voice especially this last decade, fighting against development of sacred native American lands and especially against big oil. I was never close to Doug and not being anything of an activist myself, I never interacted with Doug outside the context of him being William’s highly opinionated, irascible dad. It wasn’t until last August when I had my cycling accident that I called him to pick me up, since the accident happened really close to his house. I hadn’t seen him for a decade, and I noticed he lost a lot of weight. A month later William told me that he was just diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma.

After buying a house I was finally able to get an EV, and I hadn’t planned on getting one. Given Doug’s situation, William quickly negotiated the sale of NoGaso (Doug’s RAV4EV) to me. This is a huge symbolic move on his part and means a lot. He has a huge connection and a lot of history with that vehicle. What a tremendous honor it is for me.

Last Sunday we held a big get-together at my house. We invited over 30 of Doug’s closest friends, some of whom appear in the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? It was a huge success. Everything went perfectly. Actress Alexandra Paul attended, and I found out that she is similar to me : an environmentalist, an endurance athlete and a vegan. The organizers even got a sweet, conciliatory letter from ex-GM chairman Bob Lutz, whom Doug was bitterly engaged against for years. I don’t know how Doug felt about the event, but I couldn’t not imagine a better way for me to have a farewell party if I was ever dying. It will be a sad day when he’s no longer with us.

Doug’s activism is well known, and the party attracted a reporter from OC Register. Article is here. It’s very strange to see my house in the newspaper.

Gallery is here.

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.

BAA, almost 11 months, parenting…

Earlier this week I found out that thea Boston Athletic Association change the qualifying standards to get into the Boston marathon. So whereas before, I felt pretty confident that I could qualify for 2013, it looks like the time I’d have to invest in training now is too much. I’ve decided to shelve my plans to qualify for Boston. In the meantime I get to enjoy my running and not spend too much time away from home.

Tomorrow, Ruby will be 11 months old. She is now walking while pushing onto something, like a cart or a musical table. It seems to me that her balance and ability to stand and walk on her own is improving without actually practicing. She appears to be a bit risk averse so she isn’t daring to stand and walk on her own that much – often times I see her standing on her own without realizing it. Illie reported that she took two steps without holding onto anything last week, but we’re not sure whether those really count as her first steps.

She’s learned several signs that are mostly cute but impractical: clapping, raising her arms, a begging sign, “milk”, “baby”, and repeatedly sticking out her tongue. Her eating has improved, but she is still horribly messy and still hasn’t kicked the habit of pushing food out with her tongue. Her top two teeth are already budding, so hopefully when they come in, that will improve her eating.
I’ve figured out how to get Ruby to enjoy bathing a lot more. I put her in the soapy water and let her play on her own for awhile before I actually start washing her, and now this sets a really good tone for the rest of the night. Unfortunately for the last couple nights Ruby has developed a habit of crying out in the middle of the night, and she now demands two sessions of breastfeeding before she wakes up for good in the morning. Hopefully this isn’t going to be happening every night now.

We’re starting to discover that having a baby creates a gap between us and our childless friends, while making us closer to the friends and family who also have babies. There’s a lot of implicit understanding and unspoken sympathy with friends who also have kids. At the same time, some who don’t have kids and haven’t gone through the same struggles have a difficult time understanding what we parents go through. Case in point, a childless friend visiting for the weekend initially invited me to go clubbing, and when I said no, he asked me whether I was interested in karaoke. It was already inappropriate for him to suggest these baby-unfriendly activities, but then to aggressively counsel me on how I should conduct my family affairs, how I should be a father, and then not back off became very offensive. But this was only part of the irritation: in the past, without a child, it was already somewhat annoying to always have to give an hour or two to waiting this particular friend to be late (habitually), but I always tried to be flexible. Now with a child, we no longer have that hour or two to give. We’ve decided this weekend that we can no longer tolerate this anymore.

Ruby @ 10 months

Ruby is more than half way through her 10th month. We are now thinking about her first birthday.

Her latest developments: she imitates actions like clapping, hand gestures to twinkle twinkle little star, wan sui (raises her hands up), and repeatedly sticking her tongue out. She doesn’t yet wave hi or bye yet. She’s become better at self feeding, and she’s losing her tongue-pushing reflex. Unfortunately she’s regressed with the pooing in the toilet, so now we can only get her to poo in the toilet when we notice the signs and rush her to the toilet.

One of the things that amuse people most is that Ruby bear crawls. She sticks her butt up high. It’s not that she can’t crawl normally on her knees, it’s that she just prefers to bear crawl. When we put shoes on her, she crawls normally.

She’s recently started stooping from standing position, and she can stand on her own, especially when she’s not paying attention to the fact that she’s not holding onto anything. She seems to be more capable of standing and starting to walk on her own, but she doesn’t appear to be interested in learning how to do it.

Ruby has become more difficult with bathtime and diaper changes. She hates being restrained, and protests quite a bit in the bathtub, especially when I’m rinsing her hair. Sometimes she is just in a bad mood at night because of our routine. The good news is that, for over a month now, she sleeps all the way through the night, and for several weeks now, for bedtime, we have laid her in the crib awake, leave her room, and she either protests for a couple seconds or goes straight to sleep on her own.

Every weekend has been eventful, in a good way. Since the last blog post, we visited Illie’s cousin in Orange twice, and then drove to San Diego for a 1st birthday party, to see Illie’s residency friend and her baby who was born two weeks after Ruby, and then last weekend we visited Judy and her twins, and the then attended a family get-together with an uncle visiting from the UK. Next weekend will be a piano recital with my middle/high school friend and then dinner with family.

Ruby continually gets to see a lot of family every weekend. I love the fact that we can constantly expose her to family. She sees both sets of grandparents and extended family every week. We haven’t seen a quiet eventless weekend for a long time.

Ruby has chosen her favorite stuffed animal. It is a handmade hedgehog that one of Illie’s attendings gave Ruby for a baby shower. I’ve actually tested whether the hedgehog is her favorite multiple times by placing the it among a lot of other stuffed animals, and Ruby will crawl over to the group and deliberately get the hedgehog.

Also, one of my favorite pics, taken during my family get-together with my British uncle. This one is of my dad and Ruby:

December/January with Ruby

Whew. The last several weekends have been very eventful. Starting on Dec 17th, it was Willie’s wedding, then there was Christmas weekend at Upland and then Rossmoor, then the Yen’s baby shower in San Diego + my father-in-law’s birthday, then Ama’s Funeral / memorial with a Wu get-together. Last weekend we visited Upland to see Illie’s med school friend from Fontana, and this weekend we have a piano recital for Illie’s cousin’s two kids. Next weekend will be a birthday party in San Diego. Before we moved back to the LA area, things were a lot more quiet. But being this busy is a good thing, and I’m glad we get to see both sides of the family a lot more now.

Lugging around all this Ruby stuff everywhere we go is a huge pain. We’ve come to accept the fact that we’ll be losing things all the time. Hopefully we only lose the inexpensive things.

Ruby turned 10 months today. I think she’s probably about 18.5-18.8 lbs. Some of her developments from December and more recently has been drinking from a straw, climbing stairs, imitating adult hand motions, swaying to music, and incorporating more consonants into her babbling. About a month or two ago, she learned how to open doors and drawers, and one of her favorite hobbies is to find any kind of container with things inside of it, and to throw everything out. She’s become less apt to automatically put everything she sees in her mouth, and in general she’s very well-behaved, and only complains when she’s restrained during diaper and clothing changes.

We’re starting to see the baby disappear and a toddler appearing. There is no particular instant where it happens, so watching her right now is a bit confusing because we’re not sure what she is. My cousin just gave birth to twins last week and I reminisce, look back on pictures of newborn Ruby, and there are lots of things that she no longer does. It’s a constant reminder for me to treasure the moments we have now, and as before, I love it. I didn’t know I would enjoy being a dad so much.

I finally got a running stroller. It’s great. I finally get to run on weekdays guilt-free, Illie gets to relax without having to take care of a baby, and the greatest thing is that Ruby loves it. As her normal curious self, she’s always very observative and then she often falls asleep while I’m running with it. Because I’m concentrating more on controlling the stroller, I do a very easy pace, usually in the low 9 min/mile range, which I can keep up for a very long time. I feel like when I start my long runs again, I can put Ruby in the stroller and easily go out for a 2-3 hour run.

Pregnancy / updates

Well, we’re officially term. As in, if the baby was delivered today, she would not be considered premature. Illie’s progression has been normal so far. We haven’t had any surprises, and the baby appears to be normal. Our 35 week picture will be our last one, since illie’s belly has stopped growing visibly. All weight gain at this point will probably be baby and nothing else. The baby has clearly run out of room now, and is sticking out her butt and limbs in all sorts of places while squirming around. I really like to poke and prod. If she gets delivered with a dent in her butt, we can all blame dad.

As of now, we’re pretty well prepared for her arrival. We pretty much have everything we need, thanks to family and friends. I’ve packed my daddy suitcase, all ready to go.

In other news, we walked away from the deal for the house. The results from the inspection were more disappointing than we would have liked. As time passes from last month when we walked away, the more confident and happier I’ve gotten with that decision. The house is still on the market, and no houses around that price range are moving. We weren’t bidding against any other buyer, and so the price we settled at (for now) was not market price. Meanwhile, there have been another house or two come onto the market that we might be interested in. Though, because we’re in San Diego and do not have the convenience to drive up to Rossmoor to do more house touring, we plan to rent in either Los Alamitos or Rossmoor after Illie’s residency ends, and then buy a house later.

Offer accepted + Surprise Baby Shower!

what a memorable day/week! Our offer was accepted on Wednesday, and as a first-time homebuyer, and especially since this deals with a lot of money, I was scrambling the whole week to understand what needs to be done and getting everything lined up.

The offer was verbally accepted on Wednesday and signed on Thursday. We didn’t get escrow information until late Thursday night. Since I’m in San Diego, I decided to have my mom drive the deposit check to escrow in Long Beach, since it gave me better peace of mind. This idea was cleared by my agent and my lender. My mom dropped off the check first thing Friday morning. And while doing some due diligence and comparing lenders, I found out at about 10:20am that the lender will not like it if the deposit was written by someone else other than the buyer. I suddenly needed to drive home, get the checkbook, and write a check and send it overnight/certified. I wrote an email to my group saying that I needed to attend to a personal matter immediately and that I would be back online at home to telecommute.

I had already gotten to my apartment, grabbed the checkbook, and was driving into Postal Annex, when two things happened : I saw that Postal Annex had closed, and I received a phone call from my analyst saying that there was a late scheduled, high priority meeting at noon, and that I was to be there in person and that I couldn’t conference in. It was highly unusual because we’re always allowed the flexibility to conference into meetings, especially in circumstances like this. This sudden development added more stress onto an already-crazy morning.

Rewind two weeks. There were two things I observed that were kind of suspicious:
1. a coworker at lunch mentioned some party on “Thursday” and I was unaware of it. He thought it was kind of strange that I didn’t know about it, but then that topic got dropped.
2. another coworker, later that day, asked me for Illie’s number. After giving her Illie’s number, I asked her why she wanted it, and she wouldn’t tell me, and then weaseled out some excuse to talk about “girl stuff”.

I mentally correlated those two things and two nights later interrogated Illie about it for fun. Since Illie and I don’t lie each other, she simply wouldn’t release any details about her conversation with my coworker. As my usual silly self, I started making wild conclusions in a teasing manner and then received more silence. It was then that I basically confirmed some kind of baby shower planning, but I didn’t know the details.

Fast forward to last Sunday. We submitted an offer for the house and my mind was completely preoccupied with negotiations. On Wednesday, my agent was completely unreachable for the whole day, and I was left hanging for the whole day, wondering what the seller’s response to my last counter-offer from noon the previous day. I got word from her on Wednesday night that it was accepted. First thing I needed to do was to get the earnest money deposit in within the three day time period. We didn’t get the escrow information until late Thursday, so I had already lost time to get a personally signed check from San Diego to Long Beach. That’s why I asked my mom to write a check from her account on my behalf. And besides that, I’ve been scrambling, shopping between lenders, finding out about homeowner’s insurance, double checking my agent’s data for errors, and going back and forth with an inspector to schedule an inspection date. This whole week I was completely preoccupied with these tasks, and I was called back into office on what seemed to be an emergency high priority meeting.

As I was driving into the lot, I saw my analyst and her boyfriend walking into the building carrying boxes of soda. Odd?? I was still a bit hyped on adrenaline, frantic about having to attend a high priority meeting in person, but when I saw that, I did more mental correlation.. I checked Outlook and saw four attendees to the meeting invite : my boss, me, my analyst, and the lead. Unusual? The IBP folks weren’t included in the invite, and that’s what the meeting was supposedly about. And lastly, big 4th floor conference room? Rare?? That’s when I started feeling a sense of relief.

It was the very first surprise party I’ve had thrown for me. The sleuthing made it even more fun, and it was a welcome distraction from both work and homebuying. It was a very special and memorable day.