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.

End of June checkpoint

Livi is halfway through her 4th trimester. She’s still a pretty mellow kid, oftentimes we’re distracted with Ruby and we don’t even remember that Livi is around. We tried bottlefeeding her at one month so she can be fed when Illie goes back to work, but unfortunately Livi is just as difficult with the bottle as Ruby was, if not more. She is no longer nocturnal, and sleeps at night with the exception of her feedings. She does not consume as much milk and is not gaining weight as fast as Ruby did.

Ruby’s language skills are picking up – in fact she already knows words in Mandarin that I don’t know. About a month ago we realized that she is now truly bilingual – not only does she reply in the language she is spoken to, but she can also translate words from one language to another. She knows words that we had no idea she knew – especially in English, since her Mandarin is better than her English. Now we are very purposeful in reinforcing the bilingualism by teaching her words in the different languages and telling her which word is in which language. There are no signs of her confusing a western language with an eastern language. At home she mixes a lot of Taiwanese and Mandarin.

Ruby is now officially potty trained. No more diapers.

Work has been pretty stressful these days, especially at the beginning of this year. After an huge re-org last December, I got moved into the lead developer position with a team that was gutted and replaced with green offshore developers that had to be trained from scratch. When the other onshore developer besides me took about a month of disability, with me really only one with any knowledge of our applications supporting 6 simultaneous projects, including writing a new web app from scratch. It was unreasonably insane and by late April I was close to moving on. When a spectacularly awesome onshore lead finally moved onto our team in April and the offshore developers were more properly trained, while work is still stressful, it has become manageable.

Ruby and Livi!

We named her Livi. This was a name that I liked, and Illie couldn’t think of another name. It comes from the name “Olivia”, but we are not using that name at all. I liked the name because to me, her birth is a celebration of life and health and “Livi” sounds like “life” or “living”. At one point we were a bit depressed thinking that she would have a major heart defect. She had her post-birth echo to confirm that she is healthy, and after that December/January experience, her health is something we can’t take for granted.

Today Livi is 6 days old. She’s starting to get a bit of neck control, and has been crying at the same time (~midnight) every night. Colic already? I thought it would be way too early for this. I gave her some gripe water last night and it calmed her down. We’ll see about tomorrow night. Otherwise Livi is super easy and mellow. It doesn’t take much to calm her down when she’s crying, and her ability to breastfeed at about 4-5 days of age matched Ruby’s ability at about 1.5 months. Feedings take about 10-15 minutes, as opposed to 40 minutes with Ruby (including latching time). At yesterday’s 5 day checkup, she weighed in at a couple ounces less than birthweight, so she lost a lot less than Ruby did.

Livi seems to have a very mellow demeanor. So far she’s tons easier than Ruby at the same age. Besides the midnight crying, she doesn’t really cry much otherwise. And when she does, it doesn’t take as much to calm her down. We haven’t used any white noise at all, and to get her to fall asleep, all it really takes is a walk around the kitchen, maybe two laps at the most. And she’s so much easier to breastfeed, she’s at around the level Ruby was when she was 1.5 months old.

Ruby has not shown any signs of jealousy at all. In fact, she’s very curious and interested in her little sister. She’s continually repeated about how the baby is either crying (“baby 哭”) or sleeping. After being with Livi for the first couple days suddenly Ruby seems like a really old, mature kid, as opposed to the impression I get of Ruby as the youngest and shortest one in the sandbox. And she’s always silly and mischievous.

Ruby’s singing has started to carry a semblance of a tune. She’s also started to actually count, instead of just reciting numbers to 10. She’s also started to translate words from language to language, and I think she understands the separation between the different languages, though she may be confusing Taiwanese and Mandarin sometimes. I had to take down one wall of her crib because she began taking the books from the table and using them as a step to get out of her crib. So now we’re trying to get her to sleep in an open bed like a big girl.

Games these days: Ruby likes me to crouch face down so she can climb on my back, and then I get on my knees so she can jump off. She also likes upside-down.

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.

ngyuk ngyuk

I always get up before illie.

yesterday morning she was sitting on the bed and I came back to the room and I heard her say “ngyuk ngyuk”… took me about 10 seconds to process what she said. it was actually “you woke me up”

was she mumbling or is my hearing getting worse?