Reading a chinese book to Ruby, I blanked on the word “禮貌” in the sentence “吃東西的禮貌” and Ruby finished it for me. Can she read Chinese before she can read English??

Maybe she just knew it having been read that book many times in the past, and knowing it in context, but as a crazy dad I’m interpreting this my own way.

Also Livi is now pulling herself up to a stand now. Not yet cruising.

End of February 2013

It’s been a bit more than halfway through a week vacation/paternity leave and I finally get to write an update here.

Livi started crawling at about 8.5 months of age. I think she would have been earlier if she wasn’t spending so much awake time being fed. Today, at close to 10 months, she is just crawling around and exploring the house.

She is turning 10 months next week. That means we’ve been dropper feeding her for about 7 months. We’re up to an equivalent 27 oz’s a day – that’s five feeds a day, 22 ozs of breastmilk, and 5 ozs of formula. We cheat by putting formula in breastmilk so we get more bang for the buck. 22 oz’s a day is about 650 mL, which is the number of times we put a dropper in her mouth. That’s times we put a dropper in her mouth over a cumulative 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. So a quick back of the envelope calculation, I can estimate that since she was about 3 months in age and Illie resumed working, we’ve put a dropper in her mouth about 115,000 times. This number can actually be calculated to a much better precision because we keep detailed records of her feeding every day. Despite all this work, she’s still medically considered “failure to thrive” weightwise, but heightwise I think she might be a bit more than 10 percentile. I am really looking forward to the day that this kind of feeding can be easier, and I think that day is coming soon.

Ruby is still growing to be a pretty silly and happy toddler. She’s started asking “so what happens then?” questions, and repeatedly following the answer with another “so what happens then?” question. The line of answering often results in bleeding or crying which ultimately ends up with some person being in the hospital or the psychiatric ward. In the playground it’s pretty obvious that Ruby loves to follow smaller kids around and hug them or help them learn how to walk. I think she’s learning how to socialize with other kids in school.

Illie’s mom is in Taiwan for this month. Our project for this month is to have Ruby eat on her own without being spoonfed. We’re calling it “Eating Boot Camp” – where she goes hungry unless the spoons goes from bowl to mouth by her own effort. So far she had a really good night last night. I really hope she can improve.

At this age, Ruby and Livi seem to really like each other a lot. Ruby loves to be with her little sister, and of anyone in the world, Ruby makes Livi laugh most easily.

january 2013 ruby and livi

the day I wrote my last blog entry, livi’s eating actually improved remarkably. She finally recovered from a flu and started eating a lot faster without vomiting. Feeding her is still arduous but is now taking about 30-40 minutes. This week we increased each of her feedings from 4 fluid ounces to 4.5 fluid ounces. Illie has completely given up on breastfeeding at night so now it’s just pumping and squirting.

Livi is showing clear signs of wanting to crawl. She doesn’t have it yet though. She can go backwards. I don’t think she’s going to bear crawl the way Ruby did.

Ruby’s entered the phase of asking lots of questions. She repeats questions a lot too. Before she could speak she would just love to grab our fingers and point to something in a book for us as a non-verbal way of asking “what is this?” Now, it’ just a verbal “what is this” all the time. Or, “What is dad doing? What is mom doing? What is little sister doing?” I love the curiosity she’s displaying and I hope she continues to be curious about the world for the rest of her life.

It’s already gotten to the point where our Taiwanese and Chinese is insufficient to answer Ruby’s questions.

“What is this?” pointing to a tag of a stuffed animal. Well, I really don’t know how to say “tag” in Chinese or Taiwanese, I can somewhat describe to her what it is but I feel really inadequate here. I suppose I’ll describe to her what it is in Taiwanese and give her the English word?? I feel like I can’t do her curiosity justice unless I truly speak English. Right now that would just be weird.

At about 2.75 years of age, Ruby’s Chinese has become better than mine and Illie’s. Just an hour ago she pointed at a puzzle and asked me what it was. I gave her the wrong word in Chinese and she corrected me. Now, she’s already effectively switching between Taiwanese and Chinese depending on who she’s talking with. I suppose a lot of parents love it when they can provide something to their children that they didn’t have – for me and Illie, we’re glad that she can comfortable with the most commonly spoken language in the world.

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.

another timeout story

yesterday both Illie and I were busy dropper feeding Livi – one to feed, the other to distract her so she’s not moving too much.

Ruby wanted attention and started throwing a small fit and bumping into us making the feeding even more difficult. After awhile I threatened her, “keep on doing this and you’ll get a timeout. do you want a timeout?” I didn’t actually tell her that she was getting one. She stopped throwing a fit and there was silence, and Illie and I continued the feeding.

A minute later I hear some crying from the laundry room… “I don’t want timeout!!” I walk there and realized she gave herself a timeout. I told her that the timeout was finished and she could leave.

Timeout or bath?

So recently we’ve been using timeouts as a disciplinary tool for Ruby. We put her in the laundry room and let her calm down or become more agreeable.

Yesterday’s exchange (rough translation to English):

Dad: Ok Ruby!  Time for a bath!
Ruby: Don't want to!
Dad: Have to bath!
Ruby: Don't want to!
Dad: Have to bath!
Ruby: Don't want to!
Dad: Ok, timeout or bath?
Ruby: Timeout!  <runs to laundry room, sits there and starts singing happily>

… a couple minutes later she ran to the bathroom for her bath.

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.

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.