Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Signs of maturity

Not a little kid any more...

-prefers to sit in a chair at the table for snacks rather than a high chair
-is more aware of being a guest at others' houses, understanding that the toys he plays with are to be  asked for, amd returned on request
-can take "no" for an answer!
-initiates age-appropriate games with younger guests, like peekaboo
-will page through one of his books on his own
-regulates his energy at times, lying down for a brief rest
-has a calmer temperament overall
-when making a joke, looks for a positive response before repeating it
-identifying similar-sounding words, "racoon & cocoon," "parrot & pirate."
-tries to soothe fussy sister by giving her a hug, making verbal reassurances, alerting mommy if sister is crying
-can assess and report that little sis is tired, and tries to be quiet himself and admonishes others to be quiet if she is sleeping

Monday, November 5, 2012

2.5 year old son & 7 month old daughter

Sharing: I tell Tyler if he's going to take his toy from his sister that he should find something for her to play with. He considers, and brings something she liked the day before. It seems like we are reasoning together, this toddler and I.

"Older baby": Ashley is now in that sturdy baby stage where she has good head & neck control, makes sudden lunges & grabs for desirable objects, smiles/coos/laughs, and rolls back & forth well. This is the pre-crawling stage in which she is still light on one arm but newly independent to seek out her own distractions when awake and alert. I held her sleeping in one arm while I ate dinner, and when she suddenly awoke, she kept her cheek pressed into me, calm and unblinking.

We see the signs of readiness and we are encouraging Tyler to be independent of diapers, via a pull-ups stage. He really is growing up, growing into his own person with opinions, stated preferences, fears, jokes. He is a "big kid" among our set of friends' kids, taking on an "older brother" role. In the car, to his little sis, he says, "don't cry, mui mui [little sis], Tien-Yun [his Chinese name] here." A pause, and he pats the portable bathtub next to him: "boat here too!"

Consolation for daylight savings time & colder weather: Christmas is coming!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sibling rivalry

Here's what it looks like: appreciating the company of each other, but having to share mommy. 2 year old interacts with his little sis, but also gives suggestions for me to put her down on a playmat, or te change table pad, or the swing chair. He alerts me to the fact that she is crying and tells me to pick her up, but by evening he is upset that she gets a bath first and that's she is occupying my lap yet again. I try and shift her to the side and have him sit on the other side. I am sometimes very conscious of being watched by him, and at those times I'll reach for him first to reassure him before settling in with her. I endeavor to talk to him while physically in contact with her. Still, it's an encroachment: he was here first.

For her, she is becoming nearly as accustomed to his presence as to mine. She looks for him, grabs for his shirt, his hair, watches him and tracks his movements. Sometimes, though,
he's unexpectedly loud when she wants to drift off to sleep, or her feeding is abruptly interrupted, or she's put down somewhere and left, and attention is diverted from her when she most craves it. Sometimes he's right in front of her and then another object jumps into view: a bath duck, a block, a receiving blanket. She isn't an afterthought, but she doesn't always have the undivided thought.

For me, I still tend to want to "divide and conquer," putting one down for a nap to play with the other, or if there are two adults in the house for each to have one kid. I am reminded though that sometimes having two together is easier than each of them apart, as I can sing a song that calms one and energizes the other, or they benefit from the stimulation of having the other.

Finally, I am thankful every day that we can use the outdoors as a change of environment, a place to let off some steam, have fresh air & sun, and have privacy in the backyard while still having blue sky beyond the tree canopy. Outdoor time feels productive & virtuous, whereas television time still feels like a shortcoming a half hour segment at a time.

Language is coming on strong, the better to assert their place in the world and talk to its occupants, big and small.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Three month old daughter

14 weeks old: 5.72 kg, 61 cm. There was a time when I wondered if I loved her as much as her older brother, because the same level of intensity wasn't there. Eventually I realized that this was the ease of having a second child. With the firstborn, it's exhilarating & terrifying, and you are both love-struck & shell-shocked. You love your baby so much and are full of anxiety that they will stop breathing. I am able to enjoy this infant time now that I know what comes next...rolling, crawling, separation anxiety, walking, talking, must be said too that objectively, she's an easy baby. She set her own schedule within a few weeks without my having to establish it or reinforce it. She feeds well and sleeps well. Like her brother, she has a certain amount of maturity, even as a newborn. These are my 'old soul,' 'wise' children.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I noticed two months ago a new level of sophistication in Tyler: he knows how to 'play the system.' Grandma asked him to tell her when the 'Toopy & Binoo segment ended.' The half hour show has subtle transitions and music changes between mini-episodes. When the time came, he looked askance at me to see if I would give him away. I didn't, and he shifted and settled into watching another. A month ago his new thing was lining up similar toys in orderly rows. This weekend we went to a friend's house with an inflatable pool, and he found a bucket, filled it, and carries it to a dirt patch to water it. He did this until he empties half the pool. He wasn't interested in sitting in the pool, but kept circling it. Today he's doing the same thing, playing with all the toy ducks from outside the pool. I think he likes to experiment and engage in an activity without getting right into the middle of it. I've heard he does the same at circle time, circling the group and looking on. Perhaps he'll be a film director or product tester coordinator...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parenting 2.0

With a second child, you can be a better parent because you not only have more experience, you know to carve out time for yourself as an individual, to nourish and sustain who you are apart from being a parent.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two months old

This time around, some things have so easily become familiar, such as knowing when to pick her up before she becomes upset, anticipating when she wil spit up, making mental notes of how she likes to be carried, recognizing when she's feeding and when she's pacifying herself. At the same time, I forget that incrementally, she's developing and hitting milestones. The movement of her limbs has become more coordinated. She's learned how to self-soothe by sucking on her fist or arm. She coos in turn and looks at me inquiringly. She's filling out 3 month clothes and while we thought she only had a right cheek dimple, it turns out she may have a matching one on the other cheek. I'm going to let her hair grow out in the back to see how long it can grow. A second-born child doesn't get to do everything first, but by the time they arrive on the scene, everything has been prepared for them...all the conditions for success are already in place. The experimental trials are over and they benefit from parents who have greater knowledge and experience. They also have an older sibling to look out for them, who is just a little ahead in the work of being a kid. Two months, and I feel as well as I did, if not better, as when Tyler was six months old. I may have ten months then, to enjoy the time away from work. The thing to do is make the most of the nice, warm weather. Once winter sets in, I'll be back at work before it gets really warm again at he very beginning of Spring. We will have to store up the outdoor time before we are stuck indoors on dark winter days. Two months old already!

Friday, April 20, 2012

If I don't write it down...

I feel like I'll lose it. It's why I keep documenting, though not everything ends up here. Today was a busy day in the household, but I am quiet with the three week old on the still small centre of things. She's a little satellite in orbit around me. Left to ourselves in the house this evening, she curled up and fell asleep in my lap like a cat. She looks different day to day and demonstrates more awareness day to day as well, craving contact, settling when talked to, experimenting with moving her head about, more control over her arms and hands. Having a second means you know what to cherish and what to look forward to, as you see thisbomh target of development that is your toddler. I am still wholly charmed by my toddler, who picked dandelions today, and clutched them in a bunch on one hand while being carried back inside. Adults put things down and pick them up again. Toddlers hold into things or give them to a someone to hold for safekeeping, or dramatically throw them aside.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Love the way...

23mo's eyes light up when he spots an object of desire: a melon ice bar I'm eating that he's confident I'll share with him (I do, we practice taking turns), his baby sis when he comes in to say goodnight to her, anything in a box, a puppy seen from indoors, the back door opening and his first steps outside to play.

2 week old's eyes are surveying the scene while she's awake, head turtling from side to side. Even at this age, I sense she is settling in: able to be more easily calmed by familiar voices, touch, and smells; starting to recognize what happens right before she's fed; when being changed is ending and she will be comfortable again; that bath time isn't so scary; that she is being cared for.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Figured out why Tyler once in a while lies on his stomach and puts his arms behind his back, palms up...he's taking on the posture of Ashley, who likes to be swaddled. It's also why when he sees her lying down on one side he snuggles up alongside, facing her, feigning sleep. He makes cursory attempts to soothe her when she cries, with a conciliatory pat, but backs off when her crying escalates...'you take her,' he seems to say.

Meanwhile, baby girl's face is filling out, her hair is getting longer, and her fingernails will need to be cut soon again. She likes to be swaddled and to co-sleep...I think she'll be cuddly for a long time.

Big bro / little sis

Sunday, April 8, 2012

First week

30 March, thinking, "This is a blessing, to kiss my sleeping toddler befor heading to the hospital to have his sibling."

Tyler relates to Ashley as adults do, tentatively examining her feet, instinctively placing one hand higher to support her neck when holding her on the couch, and even selectively ignoring her (while watching Treehouse with her sleeping next to him, remembering only to check on her / kiss her between shows!). It helps him not to be jealous when he sees he gets attention while she just lies there and sleeps on and on.

I am unquestionably Ashley's mama, since we plan to exclusively breastfeed the first six months, but at times for Tyler I am like a favorite aunt. I forget he shouldn't play with the window shades and play peekaboo with him 'hiding' behind them, until of course he pulls one down. I let him have tastes of the yummier snacks I'm having...I have less one on one time with him so when I do, I pay full attention to him.

Tyler is adjusting well by being flexible in who he can be with. When we have friends over, he brings book after book to our friend who willingly reads aloud to him. He plays in the backyard with my brother or my husband's brother keeping a watchful eye. He'll ask his grandfather for snacks. He'll dance with anyone...

One week old and it's being noted that Ashley is much more aware and looking around more, though she still has that newborn alien look to her ;) She's light enough to seemingly not weigh anything, but after putting her down or handing her off, you realize she might just be growing and getting bigger.

Having two also automatically means that you seek photos when they are together, but meanwhile they both change every day in different ways. I can see I might lose track of one or the other and then suddenly be surprised by their unstoppable progress...

Thursday, April 5, 2012


We had converted Tyler's crib to a bed, but he treats it as a day bed/couch, so we got him a thick Sealy twin and are starting the process of having him nap and sleep there. (He had taken to sleeping on a queen bed in the guest room!)

Out of necessity he's being encouraged to make way and be more independent. He hasn't been too jealous of my attentions to his baby sis. I've realized that with my mother-in-law looking after him for the past ten months when I returned to work, it's her focus that he looks for, and for the regulating and maintaining of his schedule. The rest of us are a diversion. He seems to accept that I/baby are often one unit, as I feed or carry or hold her.

I do cherish the one-on-one time we still have together. I notice his cognitive leaps. We have a motion-activated hall light, and when it turned off, he went and stood under it, looking up. He started reaching up and jumping, and I thought, 'doesn't he realize he is too far away to touch it?' but then the light turned on. He figured out that those walking by can turn it on, and his height as is couldn't do it. I've also seem him point at the library light fixture to turn the light on in the room, and he had started manipulating the dimmer switches in the basement a few months ago. Still, it's a more complex cause/effect with a motion light, and recognizing and overcoming your own limitations to turn it on was impressive to me.

I catch myself looking at my newborn, not even a week old, and asking her to be more clear in what she wants ;)

She learns and adapts also. She feeds at times like her brother did, tiny fists clenched under her chin, intent. When I poke a pinky to a fist, she pauses, and then unfurls her own pinky and another finger to grasp on. Tyler in his first moments clutched my finger in his hand with surprising strength, and her grip may exceed his. Tyler still will take an offered hand - we will all be in the hand-holding stage for a while.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brother and sister

Big bro today saw little sis fussing in the swing chair and asked if he could carry/pick her up. I said yes, and said we'd go to the couch. He runs over, scales the couch, and sits with his arms out like a forklift. I place her in his arms and his eyes widen, he considers the weight of her, and bends his head down in a 'kiss.' He touches her foot in the sleeper. All is well until she fusses a bit and he pushes her off and backs away...

3 days old

Remembering what breast feeding (motherhood) is like: a hungry mouth clamps down on a sensitive part of your body. Instead of pulling away, you move closer.

Signs of awareness: somehow knowing the difference between being held and being put down, preferring of course, to be held.

Settling/attending to the sound of mom or dad's voice.

When feeding, stops and opens her eyes when someone enters the room, resumes when they leave.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baby girl!

Need a new name for this site...we welcomed a baby girl, Ashley, 31 March at 1150am, 6lb, 14oz! So far, all evidence suggests that she's perfect :)

We were mindful of how to introduce her to her big brother Tyler. When we came home, everyone cleared out except Tyler and his grandmother, and we came in with her. He studied the situation and then when we put the bassinet on the ground with her in it, he crouched down to check her out. We had been having his godmother and their 6 month old over at the house frequently so he called her by that name. He gave his version of a kiss (forehead bump) a few times. He was startled when she cried and backed away, but came back when he settled. In all, she was a novelty, and he seemed pleased.

He quickly leaned to call her 'little sister' in Cantonese. There were enough family members in the house that he has lots of attention, and I spent some one on one time playing with him as we always do. He fussed a little to be caried when his grandmother carried her instead of him.

But then, he was able to climb into the chair with me while I was holding her, and suddenly having a child on each arm felt both surreal and natural. Perhaps it's been the short time apart, or I'm newly aware, but his language seems to have made a leap. I'm not sure how much he understands, but I changes him, and then changed his sister, and after, he looked at the change table supplies and pulled a few of her smaller diapers out to look at. We bathed her and them him, and he watched while she fussed, added a couple of his toys to her bath, and waited/loitered at the bathtub waiting for his turn.

In the good night ritual he kissed me and then Ashley as well.

These are investments we are making in both their lives, to not take a close relationship between them for granted, but to shape it to one where they will always look out for each other, and be the best allies/companions that can exist, from the playground, to shared joy and troubles.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My sensitive boy

It's been pointed out to me that Tyler is "relational," "sociable," "empathetic," and "self-regulates his emotions well." As parents we did note that he seemed to be a calm, reasonable, and adaptable baby. I think what he is going to be is a kid highly attuned to the emotions and well-being of others. He reflects emotions well, knows when he is in disgrace, and shares surprisingly well for a 22-month old. During a play date today he noted which of his toys his peers liked and sought to offer them accordingly. He is gentle with his 7-month old guest and inclines his head to let her grab and pull on his hair. He's engaging in more interactive play with his peers rather than parallel play.

I know children observe more than we realize, but it still surprises me:
He saw me wiping the floor so he remembers where he saw another wipe container (belonging to his play date buddy) and went to some effort to dig it out, open it, take out a wipe, and then join in on helping. As he is learning language we are caught off guard when he repeats a phrase, using the same intonation.

I notice I'm talking to him more with the assumption that he understands at least the intent of what I'm saying, if not all of the content...that is, he may understand I am easing him towards transition of activity, if not exactly the timing why. He might understand we need to wait for some reason, if not exactly why. He knows I am trying to soothe him, and help him calm down, even though he's not happy at the moment.

All of this to say that I anticipate he will have his feelings hurt in future, being both perceptive and vulnerable to group dynamics/adult authority. However, he may be a good listener and a good and generous friend. I hope he is his own person and naturally leads and looks out for others.

I've continued to be reassured by others, mostly parents of kids he interacts with, that he'll be a great big brother. I've been consciously developing that nurturing side in the past weeks, as we look at books in which a baby is cared for by a mom and in the context of family, when we pretend he has twin 'bear babies' to pat, seat in a baby chair, and hug/stroke gently, and when we have play dates with infants. Since we opted not to be told the baby's gender, I've been wondering whether he really would get in better with a little brother who would look up to him, or a little sister who he would look after.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nesting second time around

The first time, we received an outpouring of support in the form of new gifts, gently used furniture and toys and accessories, advice, and encouragement. We bought a car seat / stroller travel system, chose a convertible crib, bought a dresser, and set up the second largest bedroom as a baby room. We washed all the baby clothes and cleaned house.

The second time, pregnancy nearly at full-term, the new baby's still an office. We are no less excited, but we know this one will initially stay in our bedroom, either co-sleeping or in a portable crib. We did our research and bought a sit-and-stand stroller months ago, and we are looking into a vehicle that will accommodate 2 car seats and up to 4 adults comfortably. Beyond that, it was reassuring to already have the basics, and to not have needed much more beyond some smaller sized diapers.

Instead of cleaning house, I am nesting by adding to the growing library of children's books...with added justification that two kids will benefit instead of just one...I remember as a child that books were how my parents indulged me, and that I would leave the library with armfuls of books each visit. The love of reading is a legacy that I've already started passing on to my toddler, and will be the gift the newborn receives also.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Milestone: independent play!

This past Saturday, mid-afternoon, we put up the gate to his bedroom and left him with the television on (Treehouse) and with him having access only to his regular toys (nothing new). When there was no immediate protest, we flipped on the camera and started timing....the ten-minute mark came and went, and it was a bit of a revelation - he can play by himself! I think in part it was because Sesame Street was on, and he knows the characters well.

So, today, Sunday, I removed the gate, and did some sorting of clothes and other housework in the master bedroom while he had his toys and television in his room on the same floor. He was able to run back and forth, managing his attention to check in on me and engage me at times, and otherwise to play in his room and amuse himself. We kept this up for over two hours, with me in earshot and occupied, and him content to have me close by but not in the immediate vicinity.

There have been other times, of course, when we left him in a room for him to finish watching a YouTube clip (1-3 minutes), after which he will come find us, or we will return. However, it seems a big leap to what we did today, for him to sustain 'different activities' for the better part of the afternoon waking time. It's feels like a measure of freedom for me, and should feel like that for him too.

He's becoming more confident and self-sufficient, and this is a good sign, as he has a few short weeks before he has to contend with a sibling, and his parents' divided attention!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

32 weeks!

Even though I'm 32 weeks along, I think I still think of the pregnancy and my toddler as being separate. Either I'm focused on the state of being pregnant by responding to movement or while at an OB appointment, or I'm interacting with Tyler. The past few days, I find I'm referring to 'kids' and 'children' and it's no longer hypothetical or a manner of speaking. Soon we will be parents of two...

I carried my toddler a bit more than usual tonight and I saw how much it calmed him to be at that vantage point, secure. I miss it too, how he settles right into me and we become one unit. But then, it becomes too much, or I'm aware of the added strain, so I set him down. I'm excited to see those new interactions between him and the newborn. It will be the beginning of him not being an only child, of having someone look up to him, of being the bigger, more able, and more independent one.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How cute are you?

21 months old:
We play a game - as you run by while I'm sitting on the floor, I say "hug!" and fling my arms out. You run into my arms, then run just out of sight before turning around...we repeat a dozen times...

You yell extra loud to our friend's sons: "older brother" in Chinese to get their attention.

When I lie down with you in bed and see if you'll have an afternoon nap by pretending to sleep myself, you laugh at me and lick my face.

Sitting in your car seat, drowsy, you suddenly lean forward to check that I'm still next to you before closing your eyes.

You join a group of older kids running around to bop about and flap your arms in their midst, picking up on their energy.

You don't mind when other kids play with your toys!

After you flip through the pages of a book, at the last page you say "bye-bye."

You like to examine and name the contents of the fridge, and sit on the ledge, even though it must be cold.

You've learned to turn the television off before leaving the room.

You imitate words said in conversation.

You say the same word over and ove again if you think it's fun to say.

With the Talking Tom 2 app, you say "Ty," "mama," "dan tat (egg tart)."

You can count to ten in Chinese, sing parts of the teletubbies song, and say "go go go" on cue in the thingamajig (cat in the hat) song.

You snuggle up close to watch TV.

Sometime you laugh and laugh and laugh at the repetition of something funny.

You name the family members you see in photographs.

Every weekday as I come home, you greet me, and then alert me to the mail that came in that day.

If we have company and you are distracted, you still look for me and do a visual/physical check in before heading off again.

You make a Valentine craft (with help!).

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Ways 20month old helps:
When I announce I'm going to the bathroom, he follows me, rips off a square of toilet paper, hands it to me, and runs out.
After he is dressed to go out, he looks for and hands me my shoes.
When someone arrives with groceries, he picks up the bags and drags/carries them into the kitchen.
If you are looking for something and tell him what it is, he also tries to find it, and brings it to you.
If you start wiping the floor, he does the same.
Before his bath, he'll help take off his clothes and put them in the laundry basket.
Once in a while he will lie still as you change his diaper.
He closes drawers and doors left ajar.
If you drop something, he'll pick it up and hand it to you.
When you arrive home, he'll point at the mail that came in earlier that day.

Ways he asks us to help him:
If he's holding something and wants to do something new/examine something else, he'll indicate he wants us to hold what he has, and then ask for it back later.
Says 'help' if he needs help after a few attempts of his own.
Pointing, eye contact, and grunting, especially of he's confined in a high chair.
Physically takes your hand in his and moves it to the problem (e.g. pressing eject on the CD player).
If walking out in public and becomes overwhelmed or has near collisions with adults, turns back and asks to be carried (out of foot traffic).
Kicks, points, and says 'shoes' and 'socks' so we remove them during car rides. (He is agreeable to wearing them while out and getting in and out of the car, but doesn't want them on while sitting).

Monday, January 9, 2012


There are many things that are easier to do without a toddler, such as having a meal in a restaurant, getting a good night's sleep, reading a book uninterrupted, making last-minute plans to spend time with friends.

But then, when would I take inventory of all the fallen branches and sticks in the backyard, have opportunity to sit and stare at the goldfish, be available to be napped on at dusk as the light fades outside, be echoed as I count aloud to ten?

Who would offer to share their food from the little that they can clutch in one hand, play catch with me, and run to greet and hug me wholeheartedly when I return home?

And when my (adult) world becomes smaller again with a newborn in the house, I'll be reminded that infancy and toddlerhood is the most wide-eyed and open time of life, and I am the cente of THEIR world, for a time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Milestone: imaginative play!

In the car today, I put out my hand to my toddler, who by now is one and a half years old (vs 19 months old). He turns it over, pretends to pick up food from my palm, brings it to his mouth, and mimes chewing. He does this several times in a row and I realize that this is imaginative play!

It seems particularly striking to me, even though for months he's played peekaboo, talked into phones and phone-like shapes, laughed at Mr Potato Head losing his body parts, and other things, but this instance mimicked a similar interaction we had, when I fed him on a long car ride, also at night and in the dark.

It's true about kids, that they pick up more than you realize. It also means it's the right time to impose boundaries and positively reinforce good behaviour. He's becoming fast enough that we can't keep up just by watching-we have to slow him down and have him regulate himself by teaching him what we expect. He's also getting to be big to just scoop him up and distract him with something else or redirect.

He has various methods: testing to see if the rule is consistent, smiling winningly when he thinks he might be in a gray area, stealth and speed (to do something forbidden so quickly that he can enjoy the effect before stopped: e.g. throwing things down the stairs).

At the same time, there is a judgement call on whether he's doing something from the drive to explore and experiment...and he still doesn't quite realize when he might hurt himself by scaling the great heights of the sofa arm or a wobbly restaurant chair.

He's still affectionate and craves physical closeness, snuggles up when he's tired or overstimulated, and accommodates my increasing physical limitations-he doesn't whine to be carried up and down stairs and waits patiently as I change position.

We spent some time with a 4 month old girl and he was gentle and giving her hugs and forehead touches (kisses), so I have some hope that he may adjust well to a newborn in the house.

He's growing so quickly and learning so much that as I write about one thing he's doing another.

He's a very cute toddler who gets attention wherever we go. Sometimes to amuse himself (I think), he waves and says hi to strangers while he's with us, on the plane, in the food court, at the mall...then he turns on the charm...his path will be easier in life if he retains and develops this, but I also hope we can raise a moral and ethical person, not just an influential (manipulative) one...

Maybe I'm looking too far ahead on this one, but cute and clever means he will get away with some bad behaviour...