Ruby @ 14 months, running

Ruby turned 14 months a week ago. Since about a month ago, we counted about 15 words of vocabulary that consist mostly of signs, one word “flower” (as in my previous blog) and the word “more” which she doesn’t seem to say anymore. While I’ve been very strict about restricting any kind of TV watching, we’ve allowed her to watch Baby Signing Time only during feedings, which has actually taught her to sign. Now that she vastly prefers walking to crawling, we’ve been taking her outside for walks and when she encounters a dog or a baby, she’ll spontaneously sign “dog” and “baby”. Baby Signing Time has also distracted her during feeding, which helps because she naturally dislikes being fed. We also discovered a feeding tactic that takes advantage of what seems to be a reflex, and we’ve been able to put a lot more food in Ruby’s stomach than before. As of last week she was about 21.5 pounds, but she’s had days where she was over 22 pounds. She is now completely walking and almost running, while stumbling a lot less than she used to.

It seems that after about a year, the amount of change has increased, but the types of changes has decreased.

Illie’s mom has come back from a vacation and has graciously helped out in taking care of Ruby. I’ve been able to increase my running mileage as a result, my long run is up to 11 miles and I’ve finally surpassed a 30 mile week again. I’ve been continuing speedwork on my own, but it’s no substitute with during speedwork with a group. I’m back close to marathoning weight, but I don’t believe I’m close to racing fitness as I was in ’07-’09.

Illie started a full time job at Altamed about a month ago. We’ve been ready to buy a house but it is practically impossible to find a suitable house in the area that we want to live. I have no idea how much longer we will be renting, it could be for years.

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.

Ama and Ruby

Christmas week is done, now for New Year’s.

These past several weeks have been pretty busy. Two weekends ago was Willie’s wedding, and that greatly disrupted Ruby’s schedule. Last weekend was Christmas, which always means spending time with Illie’s family and then spending time with my family. Next weekend will be a baby shower in San Diego, and the weekend after that is a funeral. Having a baby complicates all this travelling, because of all the preparation and things we have to move around from place to place.

Illie’s 100 year old grandmother (Ama) passed away on Thursday, two days before Christmas. She was 100 years and 3 months. Near the end was pretty tough – she got dementia and her short term memory was null. The day Ama passed, Illie drove up to the nursing home with Ruby. Ruby ate the leftovers of what was to be Ama’s pureed breakfast : perfect for both a 100 year old and a baby.

Everyone expected Ama to go, but having it actually happen doesn’t make it easier. Ruby’s a pretty happy baby, and her happiness around Upland really brightens what would otherwise be a very somber Christmas.

Having a baby near Illie’s dying grandmother is probably one of the proudest things I could have imagined as a reason for moving back to this area. Illie would visit Upland probably about twice a week, frequently leaving Ruby to roam around near Ama. There was a lot of interaction. For the last three months, Ama witnessed Ruby learn how to turn, to doing planks, and then crawling, standing up, and cruising. Ruby not only eventually became comfortable with Ama, but really enjoyed being with Ama. Of everyone Ama was with for the last several months of her life, I’m truly convinced that Ruby smiled at her the most (and vice versa).

pre-Christmas December festivities

I took my holiday vacation this week, two weeks early. There were lots of family festivities on Illie’s side, including Willie’s wedding and a banquet for Illie’s cousin. Ruby got a lot of attention, and she seemed mostly comfortable with a lot of strangers holding her, but it was tough because of she had three straight nights of interrupted routine and lack of sleeping/napping. But I think it was great for Ruby to see a lot of her second cousins. I think a lot of the older generation fell in love with Ruby, especially Illie’s youngest aunt, because she was very easy going with older strangers. She still has stranger anxiety for strangers my age, though.

I’m sad that Ruby’s 100 year old great-grandmother is being moved to a nursing home. It’s the right decision for my in-laws to make, but I don’t know if Ruby will ever see her again now. At least Ruby was totally comfortable with that great-grandmother for several months before she went to the nursing home. Great-grandmother was suffering some dementia since early fall, and every time she saw Ruby, she was practically meeting a new baby. It was clear that Ruby loved great-grandmother’s company, though she’s too young to remember that great-grandmother. Fortunately we have many pictures of them together.

Seeing an old person age and watching a baby grow is very fascinating and depressing at the same time. Their abilities have been moving in reverse of each other. Great-grandmother has gone back into diapers, she’s eating pureed foods, has trouble walking on her own, wakes up at night, and has lost her short-term memory. Ruby, on the other hand, is in diapers and learning how to use the toilet, has started eating more solids, up to the amount great-grandmother eats, has learned how to cruise (walking while holding onto something), has been sleeping through the night for two months now, and is gaining memory to the point where she recognizes Illie’s aunt after not seeing her for one month (a good 1/8th of her life!).

We visited my sister last weekend and she took a picture of Ruby standing on her own. It seems that now that Ruby is cruising, she’s been testing out her ability to let go and stand on her own. So far the record is 5 seconds last Friday, with average being about 2 seconds. When Ruby gets it for a long time, she starts laughing. It is so cute.

(and yes, her clothes are pathetically uncoordinated in the above pic, thanks to dad. She had matching pants until she got them dirty, and dad had to find clean pants for her before she left to her aunt’s, and all he could find was “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” orange)

Leaving San Diego

Dear Ruby,

I have no doubt in my mind that this blog will be around by the time you’re able to read this.

Today was your last day in San Diego. You cried as you left the apartment. It was almost as though you knew that you were permanently leaving this place as a baby. You’ve gone to Upland with mami, and as I pack your belongings, I already miss you a lot.

Last weekend was great grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration. You’re not used to seeing so many people, and you had just developed stranger aversion a couple weeks ago. During the celebration, you were extremely unhappy and crying a lot because there were so many people around, even as great grandmother held you. Great-grandmother does not have many days in this world left, and you will not remember her by the time you read this, but be assured, while her body is failing, her mind is astute and as capable as ever. Even though you are the youngest and great-grandmother has only known you for less than five months, she still asks to see you quite frequently, and you are always on her daily well-wishing prayer list amongst her other 15 great-grandchildren.

Love,

Baba

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.