Tag Archives: babies

…holidays 2013

Unlike many of our fellow FS famillies, we made it through the holidays with little to no incidents of sickness. Just one little overindulgence  in fizzy New Year’s juice on Neko’s part. 

This year was especially fun for Christmas, as Neko was old enough to play “Santa.” I tried to label the packages I wrapped with a big capital letter, rather than a whole name, to help her with that. She wasn’t quite 100% accurate on identifying the right recipient, but she did get it right a few times. The morning Skype calls with family were fun, though they made it hard to kid-wrangle, and so Neko had a little bit of present-meltdown. We took a break for breakfast and came back to it fully focused on making it go smoothly and she loved helping unwrap and watching to see what was in everything, even those things that weren’t for her. Of course, Christmas is followed close behind by her birthday, so she had another great day of opening packages just a few days later. Her top gifts (as far as what she’s loved?): a Bikle (aka bicycle), a rather odd-looking monster doll, and Duplo blocks. She also has really enjoyed all the new books and clothes. Panda, on the other hand, has been thrilled with the (hunting dog) bell. 

The clothes were particularly useful, as at her 2 year checkup this week, she moved from the 15th percentile in height and weight to the 75-90th percentiles.That’s a huge jump! 

Panda’s still a tank, and crawling around like a mad woman now. You can tell she has nearly as little patience for it as Neko did, as she’s trying to crawl on three limbs and carry stuff around with the other one. I bet she’ll be cruising soon. In the meantime, she’s also got her sister’s love of jumping and has begun to cackle wildly when she’s in her doorway jumper. It’s terribly cute.

Neko’s birthday party is this weekend, and we’re celebrating it with her favorite activity: jumping. Expect pics soon.

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…writing

Usually, when your kid writes in her books, you’re sorta annoyed because she’s ruined them. This is generally my reaction to Neko’s efforts to augment her literature. However, last night, while reading an alphabet book, I noticed that, in this book at least, she’d actually traced the letters with a pencil, rather than just scribbling randomly. I was pretty amazed.

Recently, Neko’s been in love with writing (or, as she calls it: “Daw!” short for draw!). She demands that I write things for her, mostly “Baby” or “Panda.” Occasionally, she gets meta and wants me to write “Write.”

She also draws lines on paper, and points out how very line-like they are. “Lines!”

However, her writing is not always so tidy. She also likes to write on the walls, on herself, and on her toys. Sometimes she finds a squirreled away permanent marker to do this, but generally it’s crayon. Magic erasers are a crayon-loving mama’s friend. Unfortunately, the tattoos in permanent marker on her baby-doll’s face are permanent, as are the marks on our slipcovers (thank goodness I slipcovered those WHITE couches).

Neko tries to write on Panda, but we’re usually a bit quicker to notice that kind of mayhem. The drawing on walls is quick and stealthy, and we’re not very good at noticing it.

To combat this drawing-on-walls penchant, I’ve been hiding the crayons. But, after seeing those lovely traced letters in the book last night, that seems a bit mean. Should I pseudo wallpaper the house at toddler level? She’s not as interested in working on blank paper or coloring books, though will occasionally use them. This needs some creative thinking.

Panda, of course, can barely hold something like a crayon, but she wants to do anything her sister does, even though she’s only 7 months. Her funny preference is that she will (more or less) only eat food that she feeds herself. Unless she’s desperately hungry, she will snap her mouth shut if you approach it with a spoon. No, no! Panda’s a big girl and will hold her own spoon, thank you very much. She’ll eat with abandon if you give her her own spoon, of course, most of that food ends up outside her mouth. Silly Panda.

…September

Autumn in Seoul is lovely. It’s the crispness of a New England fall with the clearness of an Arizona sky and the wonderful things to do of any big, developed world city. Supposedly it will only last a few weeks and then winter will be upon us again, but I am enjoying it while I can.

Neko’s been talking up a storm recently. We’ve added some verbs and adjectives to her vocabulary of mostly nouns. Recently popular words include: Crying (to describe Panda), Hot, Cold, Happy, Heavy (these two get confused sometimes, so she’ll carry a “happy box”), Go, School Bus, Tree, and the ever popular Baby and Car. I think she’s at around 2-300 words now, it’s a pretty extensive vocabulary. She is even mixing them into odd sentences, mostly lacking verbs. She also still walks around randomly saying words as if for practice, yesterday I heard: sidewalk, shirt and all done repeated several times. She has also found her singing voice, and walks round the house singing randomly. She thinks she knows the Itsy, Bitsy Spider and Row, Row, Row Your Boat songs, as she’ll sing out a few words from each, strung together with random noises in between.

Panda’s little neurological connections are frantically being made. Overnight, a few days ago, she went from being non-ticklish to being ticklish. I give her a little belly tickle at all of her diaper changes, and suddenly she was reacting with a little flinch and a big giggle. She also has started to really like playing airplane, and I use it as a panacea for crying. She is a much calmer baby than Neko was, and also really loves to sleep. She likes to be walked around to look at different things, especially outside, but isn’t much into cuddling otherwise.

Tomorrow, Neko and I are headed to a farm to meet some animals and taste the fresh autumn fruit, hopefully there will be pics!

…birthday party lessons

We have been to our first kid birthday parties this month (all the cool people are born in September, don’tcha know?), and I’ve learned a few lessons regarding hosting and attending them.

1. Don’t take two kids if you are a solo parent and one of them really needs a nap. No matter how optimistic you are, that’s not going to go well.

2. Even if they are both reasonably well rested, or one is willing to sleep on the fly, chasing the second kid will consume your entire attention at the party, don’t hope to eat or talk to anyone over the age of 3. If you do decide to talk to someone else, know that your kid will choose that moment to become the food thief, drink thief (particularly alcohol or soda), and general mayhem causer. Neko opted for the lick the frosting off everyone else’s cake or cookie approach, with a few incidents of juice theft and covert tea smuggling.

3. If you hold a kid party in your home, every room you have open to the party will be littered with food and greasy fingerprints. Your toilet may or may not have napkins in it.

4. Cake brings out the mean in all kids. Neko got pushed and yelled at more than she ever has before at these parties, for fear of cake theft. She’s not innocent, but most of those occasions occurred without provocation, and all children were getting hit or yelled at by the guardians of the precious treat.

5. Even at a party for babies, breastfeeding in public is not cool. Or it is. Depends on the crowd. Hard to gauge.

6. If you think you should invite a huge crowd because you expect few of them to show, they will all show.

7. Pinterest is a crazy seducer, but all your hard work will be destroyed in seconds by the toddlers, so opt for the pre made stuff instead, your heart won’t get broken when the flannel banner or the elegant lace cupcake display does.

P.s. don’t tell Neko, but I let Panda play with her baby doll while she was napping. I am surprised by how much Panda is enjoying it.

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…yogurt

Neko prefers to feed herself, though she occasionally sees the virtue of someone helping load the fork with more precious items, so that she doesn’t drop them on the floor. This is her morning look:

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Mister and I are planning to go for a Labor Day hike today, I’ve had about 5 hours of sleep between the babies’ various wake ups last night, and for the past 4 nights, so this may be a challenge for me. Hope I don’t fall off the mountain. We saved the trip for a Monday because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of the tricked out Koreans. We don’t have proper hiking gear which includes: trekking poles, neon trail shoes, matching windbreaker walking suits, a giant sun hat, a bandanna tied on your arm for emergencies, etc. I think we both have sneakers, I might have some dollar store sunglasses? We will try to remember a water bottle, but there is no way I’m carrying a stove up there to make ramen at the top with.

…August

The weather is starting to get nicer, and we’ve had some enjoyable outdoor time recently, including a big back-to-school barbeque over the weekend. While neither Neko nor Panda is old enough to be going to school, Neko enjoyed chasing all the bigger kids around and petting the two puppies that made an appearance at the fete.

In other “neighborhood” news, the embassy has gradually been repainting the exteriors of all the embassy homes. Our corner of the neighborhood is still dominated by the standard issue white-on-white or white-with-grey, but more and more houses are getting a colonial makeover. The colors chosen look like they’d do well on a Cape Cod or New England colonial rowhouse, and they are making the otherwise bland facades of these mid-century attached ranch homes pretty cute. I’d love it if they painted ours in the Colonial Blue, muted Brick or Light Fir green colors, but it would be just our luck that they’d paint us in the rather gross hospital mint green or the khaki. I doubt we’ll come up for repainting before we reach the end of the tour, but it’s nice to get directions to friend’s houses with that extra helpful element of “it’s the red one.”

We hired a new nanny because I’ve gone back to work part time, she’s new to working for Americans and from the Philippines, so we’re getting treated to all the quirks of breaking in a new employee and the strong cultural differences that haven’t mellowed out yet. One of the more amusing ones is her tendency to tell Neko that she looks “sexy” in any particular outfit. I’ve heard this from other Americans before, but was still weirded out by that particular Philippino-ism. Apparently it is a light form of ‘cute’ there, unlike how it is used in American English. Less amusing is her tendency to call me “Madam,” which makes me feel ancient and imposing, like Lady Crawley, the Dowager Duchess of Grantham, or Cruella DeVille or something. Blech.
Neko’s gotten to do a few distinctly Korean things in the past few months, even though Panda’s arrival put a crimp in our ability to get out and about easily. She hung out with the Pororo characters at Pororo Park and eats Galbi like a maniac, when she can get it. Panda mostly hides from the paparazzi by snuggling up in the Ergo or napping at home, but as she approaches her 4 month birthday, she’s getting more interested in the world around her, so she’ll probably be vying for the attentions of the masses soon.

We’ll be having a few visitors in the next two weeks, so I anticipate a lot of time seeing sites and eating tasty Korean food. In October we’ve planned a mini-break to the East Coast (where we can watch the sun rise over the Pacific, if we wake up early enough), so we’ll get to experience some regional cooking, and enjoy the outdoors at one of the more popular national parks in the country. This is the kind of thing I was really looking forward to in coming to Korea, as Bangladesh had little opportunity for weekend outings, so I’m excited about this one.

Otherwise, things are pretty quiet here, we live in Little America, so there’s not much to report on.

…Baby Shower Hosting

A few weeks ago, we hosted a baby shower for our neighbors, who are having their first child. When the invitations went out, they had been told the child was a girl, but the day before, the news changed, so it was good that we’d made at least a few of the decorations gender neutral!

Welcome Baby!

It was hard to find anything baby themed here in Dhaka, because it’s not part of the culture to celebrate a baby before it actually arrives. It was hard to even find party supplies that were for adults, however, rather than kids birthdays. If you want a Ben-10 themed party, or Doremon, or Dora, you’re set. DIT 1 has everything you could ever want and more. At Lavender market, they even have balloons in odd animal shapes, but no normal ones. So, I had to make some, and use things that aren’t typically party supplies.

I made a banner from the only 3 colors of tag board/poster paper I found in all of the markets I searched. Luckily, those colors were pastel green, blue and pink. I used some of my weaving warp as the banner’s string. The banner flags also came together to make a Welcome Baby sign.

Sari window covering, banners and Neko’s toy pile (which was removed for the actual event, of course!)

A friend loaned me some old pink saris, and they made a great window covering, to block the view of our neighbor’s laundry lines, and hide the embassy’s bland beige curtains, but still let some light in.

Purple bed cover + metallic pink wrapping paper = colorful tablecloth

The flowers came from a wedding flower vendor, and are as glitzy as possible. They also had a weird gasoline smell, so I burned a candle in the dining room the day before to cover/eliminate it. I covered the table with a queen sized bed spread that I’d found at the handicrafts store (table cloths are almost all white here, and often embroidered, but not in a fun way, only in a formal holiday dinner way. There are also block printed cloths, but not in the diplomatic zone, you have to go to New Market for those). I cut out circles from metallic wrapping paper to drop on the tablecloth and match the sparkley flowers. If you really want to glam things up, the wedding shops on Elephant Road have everything crazy-glittery that you could ever want. A friend decorated the cupcakes for the party, and made them blue at the 11th hour when we’d heard of the gender change.

Blueberry-raspberry lemonade and the Ice Cream Sundae bar

Luckily, our commissary-purchased dishes and cups were blue, rather than the typical Solo-red, since we were trying to choose something that would look nice with the other colors. (Thanks Mr. A!). The punch just happened to be blue already as well, as was the punch-stand and the scarf that I used as a buffet cover.

Pin the face on the baby

We had two baby shower games, neither of which were particularly embarrassing or gross:

1. Pin the face on the baby, in which blindfolded party-goers stuck cut outs of the to-be-parents’ facial features onto a drawing of a baby. The result was somewhat Frankenstein-esque, but the game was fun.

2. Mad-libs, in which everyone filled out a card that had a mad-lib word description on it (i.e. “famous person’ name”). I read the completed story aloud, filling in the blanks with the words people had written down. I wrote the story myself, since I couldn’t find an appropriate one online.

All in all, the event went really well. I was surprised how grateful the to-be-parents were, and how smoothly it all came together. Our main room isn’t really meant for 30+ people, but we managed to squeeze in comfortably.

…Singapore, part 2

Singapore is known for one thing in this part of the Foreign Service world… it’s the place where you go for a med-evac. (aka medical evacuation). We’re not sure if it’s because of that, but few of the Dhaka-types seem to go there for weekend holidays. The flights are direct and convenient, so it’s a bit surprising that so few go. (Perhaps it’s because the hotels are so expensive?).

Among the 20- and 30- something couples, it’s also a bit of a code. If you’re going to Singapore, you’re probably going for one particular reason. And, yes, we went for that reason too. We’re pregnant!

That’s a big reason for the fall off in postings recently; I’ve just not been feeling ship-shape, and since I started the new job at the same time, it was a tough period of trying to sleep as much as possible whenever I was not working. I’m feeling better now, as we enter the second trimester, and the doctor in Singapore says everything looks good (all the right fingers and toes, organs, brain size, etc.). I’ll be delivering back in the states this winter, so expect some cute baby pictures then.

We passed out sweets at work (a Bangladeshi tradition whenever there’s good news to be shared), but I can’t send any out to you all, so go scavenge up some chocolate and celebrate in absentia.