Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Part Two: Egg Hunts

Last year we attended the temple on Easter weekend and the result was that Lo didn't participate in any cute egg hunt (he didn't know the difference anyway). But this year we made up for whatever last year lacked by attending three egg hunts in the weeks preceding Easter. At our church egg hunt, we began with a spiritual message, and it was precious-- the speaker knelt in front of all the kids and talked about how we search for the eggs, and then get rewarded with something sweet, just like how we can search for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and find the sweet reward of Eternal Life. The event organizers had requested all the kids sit down on the curb in the parking lot, but Jerry and I were sort of slow bringing Lo Lo over that direction. So by the time we got there, all the other kids were seated. I wasn't too concerned about getting Lo to sit down and listen to the message, and figured I would just let him stand by Jerry and me since the curb was about full of kids already anyway. But Lo had other plans! I could see his brain working as he stared at all the other children, and then he toddled over to the curb, picked out a section, and sat right down where he listened quietly. I felt proud of how he wanted to join the group and did so all on his own. He's really growing up before my eyes!

And he is making friends with the other kids in church. This little girl is just a few months older than Lo, and they tend to gravitate toward each other at nursery...Her mom takes the most beautiful photos, so many thanks to Priya for the huggy shot above and also the next two photos below:

Lo Lo's Easter basket is a "basket"ball. He LOVES it. While egg hunting, he wore the strap of the basket over his shoulder like a lady would don a purse.

This candy business is serious stuff. Lo Lo learned to say "candy" over Easter weekend. He pronounces it "nan-ee" though usually just uses the ASL sign for it, which is a pointer finger twisting on one cheek. It's pretty cute, except when he asks for candy All. Day. Long.
Yay, he opened another egg to find...yet more CANDY! He really understood what egg hunts were about from the first moment, I think because lately we have checked out a lot of books about Easter from the local library.
And here he is at egg hunt #2. It was our apartment complex hunt, and held indoors because of rain. Again, I was pleased to note how Lo Lo observed all the other children, and just joined them. I didn't even have to hold him back before the hunt started--he saw that the other kids were waiting to pick up eggs, so he just followed their examples. He was the littlest one there. Pretty cute. He found some eggs hidden inside a kleenex box. I think indoor hunts are more fun because there are more hiding places...outdoor hunts just tend to have eggs strewn all over the grass in plain sight, as seen below:

This egg hunt was put on by our local YMCA, and we met one of the other kids in Lo's gym swim class while we were there, so that was fun to see a familiar face.

While we waited in line to see the Easter Bunny, Lo Lo got so excited I could hardly hang onto him. Again, I think because of the library books we've been reading, he recognized the bunny as something great. He made his "bunny noise," which is sticking his front teeth out and nuffling or whatever you'd call that noise. :) And then finally it was his turn to sit on the bunny's lap...! He ran excitedly over to the rabbit, only to be picked up and held for a minute by the bunnie's assistant. Lo was a bit thrown off guard by that strange lady picking him up, so I didn't get a good smile of him on the bunny's lap. But really, he was happy to be there. Awesome.

At this egg hunt, I felt self-conscious about helping Lo Lo put eggs in his basket, so I just took some photos of him picking up the eggs. But at the end, I noticed all the other little toddlers must have had parents helping them, because their baskets were overflowing, while Lo had a more modest collection. haha.

We had a really fun Easter and look forward to years to come as Lo grows up and figures out even more the joys of holiday celebration. Life is good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Part One

I do love a good holiday. Jerry got Good Friday off work even, so the long weekend was especially good with him around more. What is it about Easter Eggs that just gladden the heart? Plastic and hard boiled alike!

That Lo got to decorate eggs for the first time. I put him in his craft-project tee shirt, and Jerry had slapped protective vinyl over the carpet, so the mess stayed mostly contained...

On the ground there is a crushed hard-boiled egg. That Lo Lo kept getting so tempted to squeeze them in his fist while he was putting decorations on them. We also ate a fair amount of eggs during the project.

And even though I love the secular fun parts of Easter, our family is trying to make the holiday more Christ-centered overall. So we took this idea from a friend: in the week/days leading up to Easter Day, discuss the final week in Christ's mortal life. We did this with the Gospel Art picture kit we have at home. One of the pictures shows Christ riding the donkey into Jerusalem, and Lo Lo listened so intently as we told him the story. Then, all of a sudden he jumped up and ran to get his little deer that he rides on. After talking about the gospel pictures, we put them up sort of haphazardly on our dining room wall and that was pretty much the extent of our Easter decorations.

It actually really did help me to keep my thoughts on the Savior to see all those depictions of His life. We also used the picture wall for an activity with friends on Easter Day. We hosted an Easter dinner at our house yesterday, and after people had finished eating, we played a little game trying to put the pictures in chronological order. The meal was yummy, and we cooked our first ham. Sometimes it feels difficult to live far away from family when the holidays roll around, but getting together with a group of friends really brightens the mood, and we had a great Easter!

ps. also note in that photo above, I hung Easter Eggs from the chandelier. I know it isn't that creative or original of a decoration, but I was proud of it because Lo Lo cheered and commented on it quite a bit. Holidays are so much more fun now that we have a kid. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

What I want in a pediatrician

With the chaos of switching insurance and doctors for 2011, and somehow several mishaps getting his records faxed over, we ended up doing Lo's 15 month "well-baby visit" late. Then we did his 18 month checkup early (he hits 18 months next month), so I'll just report on both visits in this one post.

For his 15 month visit, we noticed our new doctor's office did things differently than the former one we'd been using. It made me realize how much I liked the old office, so we ended up going back there for the 18 month visit and we will stay there now even though only one doctor in the practice takes our insurance. Here is my list of pros and cons and why we are happy with our current pediatrician:

Original doctor office (the one we used for pretty much all Lo's visits over the first year of his life and who we decided to keep after temporarily leaving):

  • Treats Lo like a little celebrity. Since the office is a family practice office, they don't get a ton of babies in there and hence really appreciate it when an adorable kid comes in for a checkup. The nurses, front desk ladies, other patients in the waiting area, doctor, etc. all make cute smiles and chatting with our Lo. Which puts him (Jerry and me too) in a good mood.

  • Weigh him standing up on "the big boy scale." They have done it ever since his 9 month appointment I believe? Since he was old enough to stand anyway.

  • Weigh him in his diaper rather than nude. They have done it ever since he got big enough that a few ounces of diaper weight would obviously not affect the overall numbers (maybe since he hit 20 lbs or so?) .

  • Measure height and head while he is standing, again having done this ever since he appeared to be happier standing than laying down.

  • Have nurses who are happy to accommodate my wish to do vaccine shots while I hold and/or breastfeed my child.

  • While they are often running late in this office, the staff take time to listen and accommodate our questions, concerns, and requests which makes the wait worth it.

  • The doctor seemed intent on keeping our child happy, even encouraging a nervous Lo Lo to be playful through the procedures--for example, asking Lo Lo to hold the stethoscope on Mommy's chest, then let Lo Lo hold it on his own chest, etc.

  • Calm and respectful about Lo's slightly "off" vaccination schedule--have normal dialogue with me about my thoughts on the matter.

  • Lo ends up being happy/relaxed about 90% of the visit, and stressed about 10% of the visit (pretty much unhappy only during procedures like shots but recovers quickly).

Now then. The doctor's office we attempted to switch to (the one we ended up only using for Lo's 15 month visit):

  • Insisted Lo get weighed and head circumference checked all while he was laying down on the infant scale (He is a toddler, not an infant, thank you very much). He was NOT happy about being forced to lay down. Nor was I, because I had told them he could be weighed standing up and they responded, "No, we don't do it that way."

  • Insisted Lo get weighed completely nude (again, I asked if he could keep his diaper on because he was showing obvious signs of anxiety about getting undressed, but was told "we don't do weighing in diapers here.") Afterward, allowed Lo to put a diaper back on, but as I had left my diaper bag in the car, the nurse handed me a diaper which was two sizes too small because it was all they had available.

  • When the nurse found out Lo was one set behind on his vacs ( I had declined them in the first 2 months of Lo's life because I wasn't finished reading on the subject but then decided to pretty much just follow the recommended routine), she acted uptight about it, telling me I would need to bring him in for a special appointment just to get the additional make-up shots.

  • When she saw me holding Lo (nursing him) when it was time for his vaccination, she said firmly, "I won't do it that way." I told her all of his vaccinations had been given in the past while I was holding him, but she said they would need him to lay down on the table because "that's how we do it here"and she seemed really concerned he might move around. She even had a specific spot on the table where she wanted him to lay. To me it seems more likely he would thrash around being forced to lay on a table rather than while being held in his mother's arms, but apparently I don't know much. I asked the nurse to please get someone else who would do the vaccinations the way I prefer and she left the room, obviously annoyed. I stayed calm, but my heart was pounding. Most unpleasant. :(

  • The doctor came in a few minutes later (he asked, "Is there a problem?") and I explained how I had seen the research that shows both sucking and sugar (two elements of breastfeeding) can be significant for pain management/calming a child during procedures. The doctor said "Yeah, but..." and in our conversation I got the idea he only thought those studies were relevant pertaining to newborns in the NICU who were given binkies dipped in sugar water. When I told him "OK, I'll just go back to the office who does vacs our way," he responded that he was required to have me sign a waiver. The waiver was horrible--I felt like it was agreeing that I didn't care about my child, because the waiver said things like, "I agree that I am endangering my child's life." And in retrospect, I don't think I was required to sign any type of waiver anyway since I have refused vaccinations for Lo at four other occasions with four other pediatricians in the past, including the ones at the hospitals where he was birthed, in the NICU, and then the pedi we saw in Massachusetts and our first Ohio doc. and I don't recall them having me sign anything. I think because I wasn't outright refusing vaccinations at the time...just saying I needed some time about it? Anyway I think having me sign the waiver was meant to guilt me into accepting the vaccinations because it gives the doctor's office better percentages. But I guess that makes me sound a little conspiracy-theorist to say such a thing. Anyway...

  • The doctor did not attempt to make the visit enjoyable for Lo, instead forcing the baby through the procedures rather quickly and telling me, "at this age they just hate the doctor's office and there is nothing you can do about it."

  • On the plus side, this office had virtually no waiting time, and seemed awfully efficient and professional. A little TOO business-like for my taste, apparently.

  • Lo Lo was unhappy 90% of the time in this doctor's office, and content only about 10% of the time (most of the latter time period being in the waiting office before all the unpleasantness began).

So there it is. To sum it up, here's what I want in a pediatrician: treat us as the quirky individuals we are, and be humane whenever possible.

Oh, and in case anybody cares, that Lo's statistics are still off the charts (above 99%) for height and weight, and head circumference is above 90%. Nice to see his head catching up with the rest of him...Must be all that smartness he's been gaining lately. :) And his iron levels, which had been borderline low at his 12 month checkup, are now back up where we want to see them. I wondered since I still can't get him to eat iron-fortified cereal and breastmilk is the majority of his diet still. But apparently whatever we are doing is working fine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

100 Words

Here is a video of Lo Lo signing "shoe" and doing his trademark scream of frustration. =) I have gotten to where I recognize that distinctive cry and even if I hear it from clear across the house, I know that Lo is trying to attempt something and feeling frustrated with the task. It makes me laugh, if mainly because I know he will stop using it when he is more able to use words to express himself. We're working on it!

I had sort of lost track of that Lo's words for a few months, and ended up having several scraps of paper, a post-it note, and a computer file all containing lists of the words he had learned. I wrote them down as I noticed him using them, and didn't include words he merely mimicked--instead I counted a word "learned" when Lo reproduced it in the appropriate context and I was sure he was aware of what he was saying.

A few days ago I added up all the different small lists we'd compiled, and felt pretty amazed! That Lo has learned to say a lot in the past couple months! And really, it only was a few months since he started to be a talker. It is common for kids raised bilingual to be a little slower to talk, but once they do start talking, to leap into a bigger vocabulary than monolinguists. Also, I'd resisted doing much ASL (baby signs) with him since I wanted to focus on Chinese. But once we checked out our first Baby Signing Time DVD from the library, all my resistance melted away. Because I saw how much that Lo LOVED doing baby signs, I just embraced it. And it has been good for his English speaking skills to have the signs reinforcing the words. I wish there was a Chinese equivalent. We really have limited Chinese language learning materials.

Anyway, here are the words he knows so far! Oh, and one more note on the Chinese words, he has started putting "ah" at the end of some words, so I consider that a Chinese-language thing. Anybody familiar with Chinese would understand. =) Oh, and also I should note that a few of his signs are pretty different from the ASL version--he made up his own and that's ok for now!

LoLo’s English Words:
1. Daddy
2. Mommy
3. Boob Boob (it is what it sounds like—haha; this is his first real word aside from Mommy/Daddy)
4. Water (wawa)
5. Doggy
6. Hot (hah-hah)
7. Ball
8. Hi
9. More
10. Ohm ( food )
11. Clock (tat)
12. Done
13. Bird
14. Peekaboo (boo)
15. Eye
16. On (He wants lights to turn on)
17. Pooping
18. Stop
19. Go
20. Tyson (“Dai Dai”- Ty Ty)
21. Claire (Dare)
22. No
23. Amen
24. Moon
25. Night Night
26. Beam (sunbeam, as in the song "Jesus Wants Me For a SunBEAM)
27. Egg
28. Uh-Oh
29. Ice
30. Knock knock
31. Book
32. Swish (ball in hoop)
33. Bee (bugs in general)
34. Deer (dee)
35. MuMu (bubble – sometimes pronounces it more correct, but usually MuMu)
36. Bib
37. Ball
38. Binky (bee)
39. DVD (D-D)
40. Spider
41. Glasses (Dai)
42. Please (peese)
43. Down
44. Bike
45. Bite
46. Peas
47. Dance
48. Boat (boh)
49. Bellybutton (bee bee)
50. Dip dip (“doot doot” dip food in a cup of water)
51. Jump (du with guttural stop)
52. Dinosaur (daradadaaahaha….)
53. Ow
54. Me
55. Juice (doo)
56. Banana (nana)
57. Yeah
58. Bum
59. Battery (ba-ee) (he loves to play with batteries...great)

LoLo’s Signs
1. Please
2. More
3. Food
4. All Done
5. Hi
6. Bye
7. I’m Afraid
8. Bib
9. Apple
10. Stop
11. Go
12. Spider
13. Shoe
14. Ball
15. Doll
16. Wash my hands
17. Coat
18. Baby
19. Be Nice
20. Down
21. Rain
22. Pray
23. Me
24. Signing (as in, the Baby Signing Time theme)
25. Time (same as above)
26. Cold
27. Balloon
28. Banana
29. Wind
30. Outside
31. Dirty

Lo’s Chinese
1. Bei Bei (Nose-Cantonese)
2. Pao Bu (Run)
3. Nai Nai (milk)
4. Deng Deng (light – Cantonese)
5. Mao (cat)
6. Mao Yi (ant-Cantonese)
7. Bao Bao (hug)
8. Mian (noodle)
9. Daddy-ah
10. Mommy-ah
11. Da Bo (play ball – Cantonese)

In addition to speaking these words, Lo Lo seems to understand most of what we say to him in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin. He can point to objects in a book or parts of the body in English and Chinese. It is so exciting. I really feel hope that he can be multilingual--it seems to be working so far, even though he is obviously really English-dominant.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April Fool Fun

Ok, so it was a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to share what we did for April Fool's Day this year. I don't like pranks that are cruel in the slightest, but do try to set up at least one or two good-natured tricks to celebrate the fun of this holiday. I found a gummy worm that looked exactly like a real worm. After slitting a hole in the banana with a knife, I slid the worm inside and shuddered--even knowing the worm was fake, I don't know if I could have eaten the banana. I gave it to the ladies I visit-teach. Haha.
I made this tricky breakfast to greet Jerry on the morning of April 1st. I set up our grill and then put down on it these candy eggs and bacon. Yep--candy. The "eggs" are melted white chocolate with a yellow M&M in the middle, and the "bacon" is a fun-sized Snickers candy bar sliced length-wise. When I was making the M&M eggs, that Lo kept pointing at them saying "egg!" so I knew the trick was working already.

I have a few more ideas that I'd like to do for next year but if anybody else has ideas to share, please do--I will need to keep adding to my repertoire of tricks or they will start to get old!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Missing friends

Lo Lo recently had his little friend Tyson move away. Which means Jerry and I had friends move away too (Tyson's parents). Tried to get a group shot at the last playgroup before the move--sorry for a few cut off heads). Here are the two little boys, Lo and Tyson, squishing together on a lap. (The Lap belongs to Chelsea who got her degree in early childhood education which apparently all little kids instinctively sense and love her for it). Chelsea and her husband and baby have been out of town so we are missing them too.
We babysat Tyson while his mom finished packing, and Jerry did a little filming. The video got longish, so don't feel like you need to watch it all unless you happen to be a doting grandparent, in which case knock yerself out. But my favorite is the part right in the middle when the two boys run into each other, bounce off each others' heads and crash on the ground. I laugh every time. (nobody was's ok to laugh)...oops, I guess I uploaded a different video. Well, this one is the goodbye hug. That Lo is really huggy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gym & Swim

Oh what do you do in the wintertime, when Ohio has no Spring? 
Do you find a warm pool, and floaty noodle...
Is that what you do?  So do I! 
The local YMCA has a fun gym/swim group for parents and toddlers, and we enrolled with our friends Kristen and Claire.  That Lo enjoyed himself more than the pictures show--a lot of times he wasn't very smiley at class because he was extremely focused or observant, but I could tell he was enthralled by all his peers and the activities. 
Note he is still hanging onto that huge ball even while teeter-tottering. 
And I wondered why he gets sick so often.  Balls aren't just for bouncing--they make great teether toys.  BTW, that Lo has a couple more new teeth on top that sprouted up over the past couple weeks.  =D
I liked learning all the cute little rhymes and songs from our instructors.  Hopefully I can keep doing them at home even when our course comes to an end. 
After a few classes, that Lo got better at accepting the routine and structure of the activity. 
He actually really does love the parachute type of activities (we do it in nursery at church as well)...I'm not sure why the somber face in this photo, unless maybe it was because we were trying to fold up the parachute to put it away and he felt sad about it. 

Our two babies just held hands on their own as we walked through the parking lot.
Tee hee.  Such cuteness I cannot even stand it!  And yes, that is our children bundled so heavily just last week.  But I think springtime might actually be here as of current posting time. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Problem with Praise

Sorry for the gap in posting...not sure why I lost my bloggy momentum there for a week or so, but hopefully I can get back into it--the grandparents have been clamoring for more photos of Lo!

First, a mention of General Conference. It took about a week to finish my first-time viewing of the speakers since I napped, took care of Lo Lo, etc. during some of the sessions and had to catch up. Every time we listen to conference, I come with a specific concern/question in mind. And EVERY time it gets answered. =)

I had been wondering about praise, and how to implement it in parenting. First, I'd read a few books that cautioned against the potential dangers of praise (Deci's Why We Do What We Do, and Kohn's Unconditional Parenting), and their arguments made sense when I considered my own experiences and education. Then, I read in my nursery manual that we should praise the children--but it didn't give much explanation of how/when.  So I still wondered how to implement that counsel.  I won't go into all the points here on this blog entry, but just say Jerry and I are trying to raise our Lo to do things for the right reasons, and hope he grows into an adult who feels joy in following his heart and freedom from worrying what others think of him. We want him to avoid doing things just to please others but still nurture in him a desire to please God of course. I felt unsure of how to guide our toddler's actions, because it can seem so effective in the short term to use rewards and punishments but the research indicates people generally perform less effectively over time when praised for a particular action. Furthermore, rewards can train children to act primarily for external and/or selfish motivations--forming a "what's in it for me" mentality. Ugh, I feel like I'm not explaining very well. I am really out of practice at academic writing.

Anyway, the talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins turned out to be "the one" for me this conference. I liked how he pointed out parents should praise "being" more than "doing," like saying, "You really showed diligence when you worked on that homework assignment." Instead of saying, "Good job getting your homework done." And also he indicated it works best to complement character traits, i.e. "I'm happy you have such a willing heart to serve around the house," rather than "I'm happy you are cleaning up your toys." And of course, parents should teach and talk about Christlike attributes like patience, kindness, and charity in helping their children become like our Savior. In so doing, parents themselves learn to follow and become more like the Savior as well. A beautiful example of how the teacher often learns more than the student. I feel really grateful for the blessings I receive in parenting our sweet little Lo. I have the concrete help I'd been seeking--at least for the next little while. I love General Conference!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March, the Month of Misfortune and now happy to be Moving ON

Welp, it's that time of the month where I reflect yet again on how the New Year Resolutions are going... And I have to just sum it up: March was not my favorite. We almost doubled our monthly spending on irregular expenses, like car repairs and doctor/dentist bills, had persistent winter weather and more sickness than I care to admit (seriously, why do I feel ashamed about getting sick? like I should have more life skills than to allow something like illness to strike me/my family?) I don't want to dwell on negatives or sound whiny, but feel compelled to give some sort of explanation to myself about why I fell off the bandwagon in a few key areas of my goals. Indexing: tried to happen but computer died followed by brand new laptop getting water dumped on it. Daily routine: fell apart as sickness after sickness graced our home (at one point, that Lo was so fed up with his stomach flu, he just reverted to subsisting on wholly breastmilk for about a week straight and I didn't realize when his diarrhea subsided because when he got over his sickness, his poops had already turned into that liquid newborn type poop) (tmi?); we did institute more social time by signing up for library story time and YMCA gym/swim but because of aforementioned sickness even getting out for that socializing was sporadic. Scripture study: was just ok...missed a few days and again blaming the persistent illnesses. No refined sugar at, actually I cannot recall messing up too much on this one, though I did bring home a pack of Hershey bars when they were on sale (50 cents for 6 regular sized Hershey Bars?!) and Husby and me made chocolate covered strawberries with them. And shared with the neighbors so we didn't eat excessive amounts. Strength Training twice weekly: um, see above notes on sickness. Exercise didn't happen much. Attend Temple Quarterly: we made it!! YEAH!! It was a huge ordeal as usual, involving that poor Lo screaming in his carseat on the drive home for about a half hour straight. But it was a revelatory experience to spend time worshipping in the House of the Lord. Totally worth putting our baby through a day of compromised sleep routine. Daily talk from GC: did ok. Missed a few days, but still, this one is my favorite goal and it feels like a TREAT most times I pick up that conference Ensign. So maybe March wasn't so bad. But I'm still looking forward to getting on to a new month. Hooray for April. And hooray for General Conference which is TODAY and TOMORROW! Hope you all tune in.