Sunday, December 27, 2009


Some of my fondest memories of childhood are spending Saturdays at my grandma's in Bukit Ho Swee. My aunts and cousins all gathered for the lunch my grandma would make and while the adults caught up with each other on their week, my cousins and I indulged in the kind of carefree whimsy and mischief I can only hope Sophie will be able to enjoy with her cousins one day. The image of my grandma looms large in these memories- she of that kind face and doting disposition. I remember her constant laughter, perfectly coiffed hair, and gentle affection for all her grandchildren. These days, as she ages into her eighties, she doesn't always remember us all anymore. Over the past six years, seeing her only once or twice a year constantly reminds me how old she now is- her body becoming thinner and more frail, her posture and gait weakening. But the light and laughter are not gone from her eyes. Nor is the desire to painstakingly maintain her beautiful perm every week. I visited her with Sophie yesterday and while she probably doesn't remember me very well, and I had to tell her several times that Sophie's a girl and not a boy, she responded to Sophie the same way I remember her looking at me when I was a child- always with a smile. She could even say that Sophie looks just like Jude, no mean feat for someone who sometimes can't recognize her children's faces...

I'm glad Sophie got to meet her great-grandmother. It was a beautiful visit, seeing the youngest member of the family meet the oldest. It was also a little sad, looking at how much my grandma has aged while Sophie's little life has only just begun. I know how trite and hackneyed it is to evoke the whole circle of life thing but it was hard not to think that as I watched my 20-week old daughter and 87 year old grandmother in the same room.

When Sophie's older, I'll remind her of her great-grandma. And how much she loved me. I will tell her how special a grandmother's love is and impart to her one of life's greatest wisdoms I learned from her- a woman should always take care of her hair...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My first Christmas...

was so very exciting indeed! I was told that there would be presents and I could barely contain my anticipation! See me here getting ready for the big reveal :)

My first Christmas present was a cool new toy from Daddy and Mama to help me practice my skills with shapes.

I had to chew it first to make sure it was tasty, i.e. quality control.

Many people I had never met before were really happy to see me. Daddy and Mama tells me that they're family. I really like them coz I got plenty of hugs and kisses all round :)

See how much love I'm getting?

I must be a really lucky little girl. I didn't just get many presents this Christmas but also got showered tons of good loving from everyone around me. It made the 27-hour flight to this very hot country and the eczema that was exploding all over my body so worth it!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Breakfast Club

[In another time, this post would have been accompanied by relevant photos. But I seem to have stopped taking pictures of food altogether and almost exclusively take photos of Sophie, so tough...]

Back in Ann Arbor, my typical breakfasts (yes, plural- a combination of Sophie's early wake-up time and breastfeeding makes me ravenous in the morning and I usually have two breakfasts before noon...) involve some combination of bagel/cream cheese, cereal, toast/jam/peanut butter, or oatmeal. That fills me up pretty well and one breakfast takes me from 7.30 to about 10.00, and the other from 10.00 till whenever lunch is. Breakfast in Singapore, on the other hand, is a whole other ball game altogether. There are few other countries in the world where grease is an almost requisite ingredients in the nation's favorite breakfast foods. Since we've been home, my first meal of the day has consisted of:
Tuesday: Fried beehoon (rice vermicelli) and chai tow kway (fried carrot cake, a.k.a. Greasebomb Central)
Wednesday: Nasi Lemak (coconut rice with fried fish and otak)
Thursday: 2 pieces of savory bread richly and generously studded with dried pork jerky (bah-kwa)
Friday: Wonton mee (with what I'm sure was a bucketful of lard)
Saturday: Prawn mee soup, rice porridge, boiled chicken, and wonton soup

I'm telling myself that as a nursing mother, the exponential increase in my caloric intake is forgivable and perhaps necessary (heh...) and that I've lost all my pregnancy weight plus two pounds. Although I suspect by the end of this trip, I may not be able to say that anymore... ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One of the three of us does not have jetlag

And it's neither Jude nor I. Believe it or not, Sophie's internal clock pretty much re-calibrated itself and she's already back to her regular schedule since Day 2. Her Daddy & Mama on the other hand are still groggy by 7pm and up and about at 4 in the morning checking mail and uploading photos. She's clearly made of sterner stuff than us both...

Which is also why I think the flight home went better than we expected. Oh, there were the shrieks at take-off and landing despite my dutiful attempts to nurse her, and that one time during the Detroit-Tokyo leg when she decided to time a fuss moment with meal time and Jude and I had to maneuver a Cirque du Soleil while trying to finish our very dismal teriyaki chicken with fried rice while not squirting cocktail sauce all over each other and Sophie. Yes, we did have the bassinet for both legs of the journey, but No, our daughter did not take to them very well. She slept for about an hour in the first, and barely at all in the second. Basically, for the entire time between Tokyo and Singapore, Sophie slept in "Mama's Arm" Class and there was barely any feeling left between by left shoulder and elbow by the time we landed. But honestly, Sophie did good and only cried probably about 30 mins spread across the entire 21-hour journey, which I guess is more than can be expected for a child who has the lungs of Kiri Te Kanawa and isn't afraid to let you know.

I have to say though that landing in Changi Airport this time has got to be the most exhilarating of the many times I've done so in the past 6 years. Not only was the family jumping for joy at first sight of Sophie, our brother-in-law, Piao, was armed with his fancy camera, documenting each emotion, from anticipation to delight. It's been wonderful being home and just watching everyone from Jude's and my parents, to my grandparents fall in love with Sophie. Our little girl has everyone wrapped around her teeny little finger and with just one smile and gurgle from her, in my dad's words, "...the heart just melts" :)

1. The grandparents wait in anticipation, 2. Sophie has been spotted!, 3. Through the looking glass, 4. IMG_7055, 5. Smothered with love, 6. IMG_7080, 7. It was 2.30 in the morning and the whole house was up, 8. Sam's first diapering experience, 9. Auntie Sam LOVES Sophie!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Looking at the way our daughter is going to town with that burp cloth, you'd think we were depriving her of real food.

And please note that the little yelp she lets out in the beginning of the video is just a modest 1% of what she's really capable of- passengers on NW0341 and NW0321, you've been duly forewarned. Brace yourselves...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Counting down to home #2

Things to do before we leave:
1) Return library books
2) Clean house (don't ask- I just feel like we can't leave behind a dirty house.)
3) Do laundry. Just so we have clean clothes to bring home and not have soiled clothes festering for a month.
4) Empty Diaper Genie (what's worse than festering soiled clothes? Festering soiled diapers.)
5) Hold mail
6) Suspend NYT Sunday Edition
7) Clear kitchen of anything perishable (note to self: must finish the container of fresh peanut butter, two heads of romaine lettuce, and packet of Havarti cheese. Not necessarily together.)
8) Download NVivo off our home server so I can do some data coding and analysis for my dissertation at home.
9) Unplug all electrical appliances (who knows what kind of craziness might happen from power outages during winter storms)
10) Find time to pack...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Counting down to home #1

We're counting down 4 days to our flight home, and 5-half days to actually being home. I think we're going to have to start packing *tomorrow* if we want to be ready in time- it's not like we can set aside an hour randomly to pack anymore, plus there's so much of Sophie's things to pack that I'm sure I'm going to forget something if we do this on Saturday. We're really looking forward to the month-long stay at home; the flight though, we're not so sure. On the one hand, I have visions of Sophie terrorizing everyone on NW0341 for hours with her screams so much that we'll need to disembark under protection or risk having used air-sickness bags thrown at us; on the other, I'm praying she'll surprise us and sleep like a dream through most of the two flights (13 hours + 7 hours). Maybe the vibrations on the plane will feel like her bouncer- *sigh* one can only hope... We've decided we're going to dress her up in her cutest outfit possible and pray that the people in the seats next to and behind us, and the flight attendants will fall in love with her before she goes all Tasmanian Devil on us.

Essentials to pack for the flight (or so I've been told- thanks Dot!):
1) Some kind of infant carrier. Because we're going to have to put Sophie's brace on at some point during the flight, it's going to have to be the Bjorn (although we're bring both the Ergo and Moby home too- we like them better)
2) Surprise toy(s). Apparently, the element of surprise will grab Sophie's attention enough to distract her for at least a while)
3) Comfort toy(s). For when the novelty of the surprise toy wears off and she wants something familiar.
4) 2 changes of clothes. For those poop-tastic moments she's having much of lately.
5) As many diapers as our Timbuk2 bag can hold (see #4)
6) My Bebe au Lait nursing cover. I suspect I'm going to have to feed her often just to keep her sucking and relieve the pressure on her ears.
7) Several pacifiers. See #6.
6) Nothing for ourselves because we're going to be a) too busy tending to her to read/ do puzzles/ work/ play with the Nintendo DS; and b) gratefullly sleeping when we're not doing a).
7) A zen attitude and as calm a disposition as possible. We don't want any crankiness to rub off on Sophie!

Wish us luck!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Rockabye baby

So- we've been trying out a new sleep program (or programs actually) with Sophie starting last week. And it's been a little trying. For the past 2 months or so, Sophie's only ever slept in her bouncer, even at nights. Something about the enclosed space and micro-vibrations really calmed and soothed her through her naps and night-sleep. She was actually sleeping well in her crib from birth but sometime in Month 2, she just refused to take to it and would cry for hours between 10.00 and midnight. We tried the Moby Wrap which worked really well until she moved to wearing the brace after her casts and then we were stumped again. We didn't really think about putting her in the bouncer at first because she didn't like it much when she was younger, but one nap, out of desperation, I put her in it, tucked a blanket around her, turned on the vibration, and voila!, she fell right asleep! It was like magic, and we were so proud of ourselves. While other parents were complaining about sleepless nights, not being able to get anything done, and their child waking up every hour, as long as she was in her bouncer, Sophie slept like an angel, from 8.30 to 7.30, waking up only once or twice to feed. Sometimes, I even had to check in on her just to make sure she was OK because she was sleeping so very soundly. Jude and I had time at night to do work, catch up with each other on our day, watch recorded episodes of Glee and Flashforward. All was good...

But as with all feelings of smugness, karma's a b*tch and payback was harsh... :( Sophie's finally outgrown the bouncer- she's getting to big for it, and her brace has started to tear a whole in the fabric from all the thrashing she does. Now what? Plus the impending trip home also means that Sophie needs to learn how to sleep motionlessly. So we figured this is about as good a time as any to transition her to the crib. We're not doing any kind of strict sleep training- Sophie's too young for that. But we are trying to get her to learn to self-soothe to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of nap or night-sleep, and also to get used to the crib. The past 3 or 4 days has had it's ups and downs- Sophie takes a really nice, long morning nap in the crib without fussing very much, but things just get progressing harder through the day, with the afternoon naps being really tricky. And don't even get me started on the nights... One thing's for sure: our daughter loves to cry. As in has a deep, elemental, and profound love for the very act of crying. And she's gotten good at it too. We're talking a loud, piercing, for-all-that-is-good-and-holy-woe-is-me-the-earth-is-ending mother of all cries. I'm surprised the neighbors haven't called child protective services on us yet because if I were them, I'd be convinced someone was torturing the poor babe from the sounds of her wails. And for a barely 4 month old, boy does out daughter have stamina. She can go on for hours if you let her. At least we know her lungs and vocal chords are getting a good workout...

Tonight, we're trying something new (again...)- having me put her to sleep in my arms and sleeping with her for a while in our bed first. She's sound asleep right now and we'll move her to her crib later in the night. Hopefully, being surrounded by our scent in the bed will comfort her until she's deep in sleep. Despite what it seems, sleeping does not come easy to babies- the need to does, but the act of falling and staying asleep is a harder thing to do for them. It's a work in progress, and for now, we're all learning...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Happy feet!

After 2 and a half months of wearing the brace for 23 hours a day, we got the OK from Dr. Caird yesterday for Sophie to move to nighttime-only wear!! Jude and I were hopeful before the appointment but didn't want to bring it up- the possibility of a relapse was too terrifying so we agreed to defer to whatever Dr. Caird's professional opinion would be. And so when she suggested that we move to nighttime-only without our prodding, we were only too happy for words :) All that obsessive shoe-tying and re-tying was worth it, as was all that massaging during that one hour a day when Sophie had her foot free. Dr. Caird looked for suppleness and dorsiflexion (which is the movement which decreases the angle between the foot and the leg, so that the toes are brought closer to the shin) and on both counts, Sophie's doing superbly!

We don't want to stop being vigilant about her foot though so we decided that while we'll have her foot free for most of the day (so her left foot can catch up to her right, and to encourage her gross motor development), there will be days when we'll leave it on longer than others just in case. I've read too many stories of non-compliant parents whose children had to then start the whole process again from casting, and that would just be too devastating for us to even imagine... So while we're really ecstatic at Sophie's progress, we don't want to be complacent either.

As for the little trooper- see how happy she was to do tummy-time today without her brace :)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My first Thanksgiving...

1. Ursus curious about Sophie, 2. Showing Sophie the outside world, 3. Serene's Whole Wheat Stuffing with Pancetta, Chestnuts, and Parmesan, 4. A deep fried turkey is a beautiful thing, 5. Family Portrait Thanksgiving 09, 6. Jude grilling the scallops, 7. Rick & Emilee, 8. Serene's plate doth overfloweth ..., 9. Can I have some turkey too ... please?

...was fun! I didn't really know what Daddy, Mama, and their friends were celebrating though. There was just a lot of eating and many dogs in a house I had never been to. So I guess Thanksgiving is about dogs and food? I liked the dogs (Kumo, Ursus, Emmet, & Asher)- it was the first time I had seen them and they seemed to like me- sniffing me like I was the most interesting thing in the world (which I am, I know...). And the smells of all the cooking that was going on made me a little sad- all I got was Mama's milk, which is delicious, but from the smell of things, not as delicious as deep-fried turkey and all the other yummy stuff I saw on Mama and Daddy's plate. I really wanted some to try-- see bottom right photo-- but everyone ignored my plaintive expressions of need :(

I also saw Auntie Emilee and Uncle Rick again. They were the first of Daddy and Mama's friends to see me when they visited at the hospital. I like Uncle Rick. He's got nice hair. I shamelessly flirted with him all through Thanksgiving dinner by giving him lots of smiles. And then there was Auntie Beth, Auntie Emilee's sister. They both have such nice smiles- and they think I'm cute. So I really like them too :)

I think I did good on my first full-day social soiree- Mama and Daddy were clever enough to time the hour-long drive up to Haslett (20 minutes from East Lansing) with my morning nap; they brought my bouncer along so I could take naps in the guest bedroom; and they brought my PJs so that they could get me ready for bedtime there and then put me to sleep before driving home. My parents are so smart. I love them so much... :)

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a good Thanksgiving! Did you do much eating and have many dogs over at your house too?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Guess what-- or who-- we're thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Counting down to the fried bird

Last year, I made the mistake of going to Trader Joe's the day before Thanksgiving to buy some last minute things. Big mistake. Not only was there a line to get into the parking lot, just paying for brown sugar and chicken stock took me 20 minutes. In the 15 Items or Less line. This year, we thought to avoid the same mistake by doing our Thanksgiving grocery shopping early. But clearly not early enough because on Sunday, Trader Joe's was already out of fresh green beans and pumpkin pies (that we wanted to buy for ourselves). Which means we're still going to have to run to the store tomorrow for green beans and scallops (we didn't want to get the frozen ones at TJ). Let's hope we don't get marauded...

Ingredients which we did manage to get:
For Whole Wheat Stuffing with Pancetta, Chestnuts,and Parmesan:
Artisanal whole wheat boule
Chicken stock
Extra Parmesan (just in case...)
(I still have to snip rosemary and thyme from our backyard...)

For Green Bean Casserole:
Baby portabella mushrooms
Fried onions

Shopping list for tomorrow:
Fresh green beans
Fresh scallops
Lime (I think I'll briefly marinate the scallops in lemongrass, lime peel and olive oil before grilling)

Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday and we look forward to it every year; actually, more specifically, my tummy looks forward to Rick's deep-fried turkey and Emilee's sweet potato mash!! That and passing out after the meal in front of some completely mindless, inanely enjoyable movie like Roxanne or Better Off Dead :) Let's see how much of it Sophie will be able to deal with on her first Thanksgiving- it'll be good training for the even bigger Christmas bash coming her way in Singapore!

Friday, November 20, 2009


These days, three things make me happiest:
1) Seeing Jude coming home in the evenings.
2) Looking at Sophie wake up in the mornings.
3) Watching Glee on Wednesdays.

I'm all about empowerment. I empower my Cherrios to live in a constant state of fear by creating an environment of irrational random terror.
-Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of scallops, noodles, and apples

Yup, there's no doubt that Sophie has our genes...

No child has ever been this happy over the talk of food she can't ingest yet... :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flip out (or in this case, over)...

Ok everyone, pay attention- this is Sophie. And I'm on way to becoming very dangerous... Fear me for I am trying to flip over!

1. #1: From the top, 2. #2: Here we go, 3. #3: Some help from her mini pillow, 4. #4: D'oh..., 5. #5: Trying again, 6. #6: Almost there

It's hard work, this flipping over- sometimes I'd rather just hold my head up and look around the room. And the thing holding my legs together isn't helping much coz it's so heavy :( But Mama and Daddy help me along by propping me with my little pillow and egging me on with my favorite crazy star toy. I love it to bits even though my parents think it's the most psychotic thing created. What do these adults know?...

I finally get half way there though and Daddy helped me the rest of the way with a little nudge- the first of many I'm expecting him to give me for the rest of my life. That's how much I know he loves me :) And can you hear my Mama squealing in the background? Sometimes, she gets too excited...

Oh don't you worry, you know I'll flip over completely on my own one day. Because I'm Sophie Yew, and I'm awesome!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Separation anxiety

Infant room on the Railroad side
Come January, after we come back from Singapore, Jude and I will be putting Sophie in daycare. It breaks our heart to do it but if both of us want to finish our dissertations in any decent amount of time, we really don't have a choice. Now that she's increasingly responsive and social, it's taking me a lot to manage my time between work and playing with her. I can only squeeze in pockets of time when she's napping (which are getting shorter and fewer in the day) or at night after we've put her to bed to get anything done. And so yesterday, we visited Gretchen's House at Dhu Varren to have a look. It's the closest Gretchen's House to our place (distance is a huge factor for us) and comes highly recommended both from parents who've sent their kids there as well as friends who've taught there before.

It's a lovely, lovely place- bright and warm, with cheery rooms and even cheerier teachers. The infants we saw looked so happy playing in their sensory areas and are clearly well taken care of. One of the biggest things for us is that Sophie will be actively cared for at daycare and not just left in a crib to entertain herself (or as Jude fears, abandoned to wallow in her own dirty diaper...). We want to know that she's being appropriately engaged and stimulated, given lots of affection and hugs and it looks like that's what they do at Gretchen's House. All the teachers have at least a 4-year B.A. degree in a child development field which assures us that Sophie will be getting the most developmentally appropriate care possible.

As we were walking around, I was thinking how funny it was that my work and personal life have collided in this way- in my research job, I work quite a bit on child care quality and in one of the papers I produced for Columbia University, I presented research which suggests that for infants, family day care is more appropriate because of the more intimate environment that simulates the home. I always thought I'd put Sophie in family day care because of that but high quality ones are so hard to find, especially high quality ones near us. And in a situation like this, I'd rather put her in a high quality center than a low quality family day care. Besides, at Gretchen's House, even though they're licensed for a teacher to child ratio of 1:4, they keep it at 1:3 so that the babies get as much personal attention as possible. The whole place is also designed to replicate a home environment, with pods of classrooms that are self-contained units with access to a central living space and the outdoor area.

The tuition for Gretchen's House will be expensive (it costs more than our monthly rent!) but with a student subsidy, we're hoping to make it work. Besides, nothing's more important to us that making sure that Sophie is well taken care of so if it means cutting back on our expenses (thanks to Hulu, we're thinking of dropping our cable anyway...) and being very mindful about how we spend our money, it'll be well worth it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The moment that made my day

Sophie laughed out loud today.

I can't imagine a more beautiful sound in the world! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Working girl

1. Hi Serena!, 2. How Sophie occupied herself while Mama worked, 3. Sprawled out across the office table, 4. Morning nap at Mama's research office

Hi everyone,
So today was a big day for me- Mama brought me to her research office with her and I had a great time! I took a nice morning nap in my stroller, letting Mama get some work done. But I wasn't comfortable in there for too long and so she had to take me out and put me in the Baby Bjorn. That was nice- I like being able to look around me. Lights are SO COOL!! But they're tiring to look at so I fell asleep again. I think this allowed Mama to get more work done with her co-workers. They're nice- they said I look cute in my pajamas and let me play with them :) One of them asked Mama if the pound she's convinced I put on during my growth spurt all went to my cheeks- I don't know what that meant but I smiled anyway, puffing out my cheeks, and that made everyone laugh. Who knows why... adults... I woke up in time for Mama's lunch and she brought me to get a salad from Za's with Aunt Serena while I was still in the Bjorn. That was super-duper awesome coz I got to go outside and soak in the gorgeous Fall weather that Mama loves to much. I saw people, and cars, a big blue bus, more people, felt the sun shine on my face, burped while Mama was in line at the cafe which made Aunt Serena laugh out loud. These big people are so easily amused.

Mama was worried that I would be bored so she brought along my favorite toys- Sophie the Giraffe and my rattle as well as a quilt and fleece blanket so I'll be comfortable. And I was! Mama put me on a large office table so she could keep an eye on me and I just chilled there and watched her shuffle papers about. I guess that's what Work is. It looked hard. And tiring. Just looking at her so busy tired *me* out so I fell asleep again. Mama didn't have to Bjorn me this time- I was so pooped from all the smiling and light-staring that I slept soundly in the car seat.

I hope Mama brings me to the office more often- I really had a good time :) Although someone needs to remind her to change my diaper more often. She was so busy at one point that she missed one of my catastro-poops and I did not smell nice. *Adults*!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The only constant is change

As Sophie turns 3 months old today-- happy 3-month old birthday punkin'!-- I have to say that neither one of us can fathom not having her around anymore, and it's almost like I can't remember how things were like without her. In just 13 short weeks, she has irrevocably turned our lives upside down, and inside-out:

1. Crossing the road is no longer just crossing the road- I literally practice the "look right, then left, and then right again" rule at least 3 times before crossing when she's with me.

2. No sacrifice is too big for her- like giving up caffeine. No questions asked.

3. My heart can now be broken by just hearing her cry.

4. I'm taking better care of myself-- like what I eat-- because it determines what she eats.

5. If she sleeps well, it doesn't matter if I don't.

6. When I carry her and look in the mirror, I look at her instead of myself.

7. I've become a morning person.

8. I'd rather buy her a chew toy than a new winter hat for myself.

9.I've almost completely stopped wearing a watch. Time is defined by the hours in between her feeds.

10. I want to make the world a better place because I want it to be a better place for her.

Kisses to the 3-month old!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

All shot up

We finally did it. After missing several H1N1 flu clinics both at the University and in Ann Arbor, we packed breakfast, bundled Sophie up, and hauled ourselves out of the house before 9am yesterday to Ypsi to get in line for the mass H1N1 clinic for high priority groups. Jude and I fall into this category because we're caring for a child under 6 months old and we also really wanted to get it in anticipation of flying home and not wanting to self-quarantine ourselves for 2 weeks in Singapore.

After hearing horror stories of 5-hour long waits and complete chaos at the Ann Arbor clinics, we were prepared for the worse. It didn't help that it was chilly out and I didn't bring a hat nor gloves (Sophie, on the other hand, was warm and toasty in her Bundle-Me). Fortunately, I think the county learned from its mistakes and the experience was actually rather civilized. We were indoors within 20 minutes and the wristband system definitely helped-- depending on what time you arrived, you got a colored wristband that corresponds to the approximate time you might receive your shot. We got there early enough to make the first group-- and so did the many staff members at hand to handle questions and dispense information. In the end, it still took us 3 hours from start to finish, but it was a chill 3 hours- we were in line with our friend Jina and her daughter, Willow, who was most entertaining, Sophie-- who's thankfully coming out of her growth spurt-- slept through most of it, waking up just to cuddle and flirt with the lady standing behind us, and we stuffed our faces with the English muffins and cinnamon rolls we had packed so we weren't squirming in hunger from 9am to noon.

So Jude and I are now H1N1-vaccinated, with paperwork to show for it. Coupled with having gotten the seasonal flu shots last month, let's hope this household will be illness-free through the Winter!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Growing up is hard to do

I appreciate baby growth spurts in theory, but abhor them in actuality. I get that babies have these periods where they eat A LOT and fuss more because their bodies are going through profound growth. I get it. I really do. And if I weren't so intimately acquainted with it right now, I might even go so far as to say that I'm rather fascinated by this whole process. It's like witnessing Growth right before your eyes. Pretty cool stuff.

But Growth Spurt Genie, if you're reading this, listen up. I hate you.

I hate that you've replaced our sweet baby with a fussing, crying, ravenous Tasmanian Devil incarnate. I hate that I've had to give up my play time with Sophie in exchange for long periods of shushing and soothing her while she cries like she's having an existential meltdown. And so if you'd like to get back into my good graces before manifesting again for Sophie's 6-month growth spurt, you'd better return our daughter back to her normal self. I am a woman surviving on little sleep and exhausted from frequent feeds. I am constantly thirsty and hungry and feel like a pig (or a cow, depending on the situation). I am not happy. And you don't want to mess with Serene Koh when she's not happy. So yes, Growth Spurt Genie, be afraid, be very afraid...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How do you say No to a face like this?

You don't.

Unless you're trying to wean her off her beloved bouncer, in which case you sit helplessly and listen to her whimper in her crib via the baby monitor and resolutely resist any temptation to put her where she really wants to be.

Tough love sucks.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy day after Halloween!

Dear everyone,
Apparently, it's the day after Halloween. I don't know what this Halloween thing is but my Mama's been putting me in strange clothes these past two days so I'm assuming it's some kind of fashion festival. On Friday, she wrapped me up in a ladybug blankie and pulled a hat over my head. I hate hats. But I was in a good mood so I let her have her way. I think it made her happy :) Besides, I entertained myself with my hand- I never knew it tasted so good till last week. *nom*...

Then yesterday, when Daddy was home, they put me in another outfit, this time a DJ onesie and a pirate beanie hat. Auntie Jenn in Boston got me the outfit and I think I rocked it, if I should say so myself :) DJ Sophie in da house- hijacking the airwaves, and rockin' yours (and my) booties off! I still didn't like the hat so much but it was tiring being so adorable so I slept most of the day and just let my parents do what they wanted. Letting them have their way once in while keeps them on their toes, I think- I make their life interesting that way...

Here's me with Daddy- I think we both look very good, don't you agree? Oh, and I love my Rainbow Brite leg warmers- they make my legs look a little chubby, but oh so cute!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Girl power

I don't often think of myself as a feminist- I have my opinions about gender (in)equality, the role of women in society, and stereotypes and glass ceilings that have to be shattered, but I don't necessary feel the need to have to advocate vociferously about them. But maybe it has to do with living too long in a country where women are more likely to be raised to be independent and strong-willed, or it comes with being mother to a daughter, but lately, the issue of gender roles is being thrown into sharper relief for me. Particularly with regards to fairy tales (I know- stay with me, here...)

As many of you know, we've been reading to Sophie since she was a couple of weeks old- she doesn't always look at us or listen to us intently when we read but it's all about exposure and not so much comprehension at this point. Which is why I really shouldn't be bothered by this, but I am. After weeks of Make Way for Ducklings, Fish Is Fish, I Love You Through and Through, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I decided to move on to a book of fairy-tales that we got at one of our showers, namely Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Frog Prince, and The Ugly Duckling. So there I was, reading Sleeping Beauty merrily along to Sophie, changing the princess' name to Sophie to make it fun for her, until I got to the end of the story:

"The king was so grateful to the prince for waking them all, that when the prince asked to marry Aurora, the king agreed happily. Aurora and the prince lived happily ever after."

OK- am I the only one who thinks there's something not quite right with this? It was instinctual almost, that when I started reading this line, I actually felt kind of offended. Is this what I want my daughter to be internalizing? That she can be presented as a reward to the most worthy contender? That she is pliant, willing, and submissive, subject to the decisions of the men around her? Snow White and The Frog Prince aren't any better- Snow White is rescued from certain death by a prince, and the princess in The Frog Prince only marries him after she kisses him and turns him back into a prince. So much for valuing inner beauty- ribbit... I know what you're thinking- these are just fairy tales, Mom, take a chill pill. But no, they're not just fairy tales. Stories send messages and I'm not sure if this is a message I want Sophie to take away with her. I don't want her growing up haunted by the Princess Syndrome (see here for tongue-in-cheek, though not wholly inaccurate deconstruction of the Disney princesses), waiting eternally for her Prince Charming to come save her from her dull and dreary life, sweep her off her feet, and believe that they will live happily ever after. We want her to have a mind of her own (she already does actually), be strong in spirit, and have faith in her own sense of self that she doesn't need another person to validate.

I read these stories when I was growing up and you can say that I'm none the worse for wear because of them. But that's also because I had enlightened parents who didn't necessary indulge these fantasies. And Sophie will be the same- she'll read her fairy tales and watch her Disney movies-- we're not going to deprive her-- but she'll also be taught to know them and know that they're just stories, not a manual for how to live her life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"It's so so obvious that there's so much love going on here."

And that was the nicest thing anyone said to me today. I love that Jude was the first to wish me happy birthday last night; I so appreciate the phone calls I got this morning and evening from home, the countless Facebook Wall posts, the many emails, the e-cards from my cousin and Jude's mom, and one trans-Atlantic text message from my best friend- thank you, everyone!! But this simple sentiment from a complete stranger probably moved me most. So Jude, Sophie, I were sitting in a booth at Northside Grill this morning for my free birthday breakfast. I don't think we were doing anything particularly special- just talking to each other like we always do and watching Sophie, making sure she was warm enough and sleeping OK amidst the morning radio playing. Then halfway through our meal, a woman walks up to us and says, "You don't know me, but I just wanted to come over and say how wonderful it is to look at you two with your baby. It's so so obvious that there's so much love going on here!" She was so sweet and genuine, and so generous with that comment that we were both truly and deeply touched.

And that's what defined my first birthday as a Mom- schmaltzy, cheesy, gooey love- the intense and profound love we have for Sophie and the exponentially-multiplied love I have for the man who is her father. People asked if I was doing anything special today, and honestly, I didn't. And I didn't have to. I have the two things that make me the happiest birthday girl in the world and I didn't need anything else :)

1. Birthday snuggle from Mama, 2. Dancing to "The Thong Song" while watching Glee, 3. Serene's birthday "cake", 4. Birthday snuggle from Mama

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pretty in pink

These days, I live for moments like this :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Hi everyone,
This is me hanging out with my new buddy, Moosey. We're so tight right now... :) Moosey's from Canada- apparently that's somewhere even colder than Ann Arbor. Mama gave him his name and I don't think she thought about it too hard- I would have called him something else but no one consults the 10-week old in the house (except when I cry- ha!). Daddy's professor, Steve, bought him for me and I think he's fascinating (Moosey, I mean...). I can see colours now and I love looking at him because he's all big and blue.

Every girl needs a stuffed animal bigger than them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sophie wears her first dress

People warned us before Sophie was born that with a girl, we'd break the bank buying her clothes just because there's so much more adorable stuff out there for girls. Couple that with parents (ok, a mother...) who love to shop and we've got a serious problem... Like the time before she was born when we spent what was to us a small fortune at the Oliebollen sale, or how instead of a proper birthday present for myself, I ask my sister to get Sophie this reversible pinafore instead... Dresses are the hardest to resist although Sophie hasn't actually worn one since she was born. She was too tiny in summer to wear anything that wouldn't end up looking like a nightgown, but now that's she's a little bigger, the weather's turned chilly. She only wore her first dress this weekend to our friends' Christine and Jason's wedding, and we think she looked exceptionally F-I-N-E :)
The night before, we realized that while Sophie does have several dresses in her wardrobe, none of them were appropriate for both the occasion and the weather. And so we had to make a mad dash to the mall to get her something nice to wear. After whizzing through Baby Gap, Macy's, Gymboree, and The Children's Place, we settled on this chocolate corduroy dress from Baby Gap. It was the fantastic medallion print that sold us on it and we figured we could layer it with a million different coloured-tees because of how bright it is. Which we did- to make the outfit a little more fun, we layered a striped tee underneath and put Sophie in a pair of Babylegs leg-warmers and she was all ready to style the wedding, 39F (4C) or not... :)

I love shopping dresses for Sophie and several things I avoid:
1) whatever makes her look like a poodle (lace, fluff, stiff petticoats underneath);
2) anything too prim and fussy (heavy velvet, sashes, bows and ribbons everywhere, starched collars)- I think children should have fun in their clothes; and
3) anything too pink

Things I look out for:
1) Thoughtful details like a pretty lining and snaps at the shoulders for easy wearing (the clean mod design doesn't hurt either...):

2) Interesting designs (no matter how simple):

3) Vibrant prints (I would buy all of Sophie's clothes off if I could):

4) Whimsical fabrics (who says children shouldn't wear black and white?)

I'll be so screwed if Sophie grows up and wants only to wear jeans...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pure happiness :)

It's all in that first ten seconds...

Yup, our daughter, our love :)

Where the Wild Things Are II

One of the many things we've had to sacrifice since Sophie arrived is watching first-run movies. The last movie we saw-- and loved-- was (500) Days of Summer. I was totally planning on Julie & Julia being our last baby-less movie but clearly did not figure that Sophie would be early. Since then, I've really not minded not being able to go to the movies as often as we did- nothing's playing that I can't wait for the video. Until this week. Two words: Spike Jonze. Five words: Where the Wild Things Are. Another two words: Arcade Fire. And what do you have? A sad Serene Koh.

Since the trailer was released in March, I've watched it at least 20 times. And my breath catches in my throat every time. I can't bear the thought that I won't be able to see it in the theaters now that the movie has officially opened. I even bought the 25th Anniversary special edition of the book last night just so I can have a copy of it here (I think I might have lost my tattered 20 year-old copy in the midst of moving), and downloaded the soundtrack barely 10 minutes ago. I think I'm going to snoop around and see if any of the theatres in Ann Arbor will allow me to bring a sleeping-- I promise!-- baby to a matinée showing of the movie. Sophie takes good afternoon naps if I put her in the Baby Bjorn so it might not be too hard.

Now if we can only find a babysitter for when The Lovely Bones opens in December...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sophie says "hi"

Dear everyone,
This is Sophie blogging for the first time! My Mama set up an email account for me so I can officially be a part of this whole blogging business that Mama and Daddy apparently do a lot of. Next thing you know, I'll have my own Facebook account- watch out :) I'm 2 months and a week old today and I thought to check in with the world to let you know how I'm doing. My life has been simple since birth- lots of sleeping, pooping, and eating. Growing up is hard work. But it's paid of! I'll prove it: this is me an hour after I was born (I'm told I took Mama and Daddy by surprise- I can be a tricky one...):

I weighed 5lbs 12oz (2.6kg) and was 18inches (45.7cm) long. This put me in the 4th percentile of all newborn babies, which means that I was smaller and lighter than 96% of all newborns. It seems this is why all the nurses and my parents dubbed me Peanut. Indeed, I was teeny...

This is me a month later:

Grandpa and Grandma were visiting and I was good for them, making eye contact and letting them hold me without fussing. At my one-month appointment with Dr. Youssef, she told Mama and Daddy that I was 8lbs 5oz (3.8kg) and 19.2 inches (48cm). I was slowly filling into my onesie (I miss that polka-dot cupcake onesie...)- making slow and steady progress. I loved milk, you know... I still do.

Today, I saw Dr. Youssef again. I like this Dr. Youssef. She calls me Precious :) But she has cold hands. She also said I look like "a million bucks". I don't know what she means- which part of me looks like money?

I am apparently very healthy although I had to get two shots which I was not happy about. They were vaccines and supposed to protect me from diseases. I don't care what they were- I didn't like them. Two nurses came in and poked me in both my hips at the same time. Mama and Daddy tired to trick me by putting my pacifier in my mouth before that and holding my hand. How is that supposed to make the pain go away? It did not and I cried bloody murder... :( But only for a while. Really.

Did I say how big I've grown? I've doubled my birth weight and am now 11lbs 9oz (5.2kg)! And I'm 23 inches (58cm) long! Told you I love milk... My Mama's good at this nursing business.

I'll pop in once and a while to check in with you, oh big bad world, but I can't promise you much. There is much to do as a 2-month old: learning how to hold my head steady (I like tummy-time but can someone tell my parents that the play mat they got me scares me a little?), smiling (this must be something really special because it makes my parents very happy whenever I do it. I should try doing it more often...), listening to Mama and Daddy read to me (my favorite book right now is Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Maybe I'll be a bus-driver when I grow up...), watching my mobile (I can finally make out those blurry things dangling above my crib!), crying (oh, I like crying-- not as much as I used to-- but I still find time for it once in a while to keep things interesting for my parents. I feel it clears my lungs and throat and it's a form of self-expression. I don't think my parents share my sentiments) and of course, the holy trinity of eating, pooping, and sleeping. It's hard work being a 2-month old!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My name is Sophie and I am not co-dependent

Despair to a 2-month old is losing your pacifier in the middle of your nap...

Happiness is realizing you can sleep without it just fine :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wake up call

We now have our own breathing, eating, pooping, sleeping alarm clock.

When I was teaching, waking at 5.45am everyday was the norm and no matter how late I stayed up grading into the night, waking up that early was never a problem. But since coming to grad school and having a more forgiving and flexible schedule, my mornings have stretched out and waking up early was no longer as easy. In fact, until Sophie was born, I was never quite the morning person, preferring to work late into the night and waking up around 9-ish, sometimes even 10 if I indulge myself enough.

But as with most things in our life, that's been thrown out the window with Sophie's arrival. The good thing is, I think the little one has got her days and nights all calibrated now and there aren't anymore long day naps and troubled night sleep. The bad thing is, according to Sophie's internal clock, mornings start at 6.30am. She's wide awake and ready to eat and play. And so Mama has to feed and play too, even if it means groggily swinging her mobile or singing an out-of-tune "You Are My Sunshine" as I change her diaper. Or like today when I was counting out loud the number of snaps along her romper- I think I miscounted 3 and 6... In the past 6 years, unless we were catching a flight, recovering from jetlag, prepping for my sister's wedding, or warming up for my half-marathon, I've *never* woken up before 7.00. Sophie, now that is what you call sacrifice... ;)

I suppose I don't mind this schedule too much- she's waking up on her own and so is always in the best of moods. I don't like waking up her when she's not ready because she always gets a little grouchy when roused unwillingly. Besides, she's down for her first nap of the day by 9.00 and that's when I can start clocking in some work. It actually forces me to have to be productive earlier. Jude and I can also have some quality "us" time over breakfast while we watch her nap which is so nice :)

1. Asleep in Daddy's arms, 2. Close-up, 3. Rousing, 4. Fully awake!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Take a chill pill, Mom

I think I need to take a chill pill.

I always thought I wouldn't be a stressed-out mom; I was determined not to be one of those mothers who would constantly worry and fret about every single minutiae related to their offspring, and that I would be calm, collected, and all Earth Mother-like about parenting. Clearly I hadn't had Sophie when I thought that way. As she's slowly maturing and growing more alert by the day, I've started worrying-- albeit unnecessarily I've been told-- about her sleep schedule (she's sleeping about 18 hours a day), whether she's sleeping in the right position (we try to rotate the direction she faces when she sleeps to prevent flattening on one side), whether she's eating enough (judging from the number of poopy diapers, yes), whether I'm giving her enough stimulation when she's awake (I should probably do less and let her play on her own a little more- she got bored with Fish Is Fish after about 7 seconds...), whether I'm dressing her warm enough for the weather (definitely yes), and when I should start signing to her to jumpstart her communication skills (6 months apparently, so I really need to C-H-I-L-L).

The thing is, it's almost like I need to trust Sophie's inner baby wisdom- she knows when she's hungry and when she's had enough; she will sleep and wake up as her body needs to (at this stage anyway); and she sometimes seems perfectly content to lie in her bouncer and stare into blank space rather than listen to me read to her. Babies are smarter creatures than we give them credit for and there's something to be said about not getting in the way of their natural instincts and intuitions. Like last week when I was worried that Sophie was sleeping too much in the day and not sleeping well at night; then she turned 8 weeks old and it was like she had a personal epiphany and her entire routine stabilized almost overnight.

I'm not ever going to stop worrying about her-- that's what Mamas do-- but since this parenting thing is going to take us the rest of our lives, I really need to ease up on fretting over the small things like diapers now and store up my anxiety for the big things like a bad haircut at 13 or boyfriends at 18... :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Just us

I often wonder how different things would have been had we had Sophie back home in Singapore. We would no doubt have had tons of help from our families and friends and there would be no lack of love and attention showered on Sophie from everyone we know :) In that first two weeks after Sophie was born, there were moments when things did feel a little overwhelming with just Jude and I, and I did think about how good it would be if someone from home would miraculously appear on our doorstep and offer us their loving and unfailing assistance.

There is also, however, something kind of special about what we have now too, just the three of us here by ourselves (although we're not really by ourselves per se, what with being surrounded by awesome and generous friends here in AA...)- it's a little world we've created, a time in our lives carved out and magical like no other will ever be. It hit me in a profoundly elemental way this evening while we were playing with Sophie during one of her two most active times of the day (the other being in the morning after she's taken an hour or so to wake up completely...). There she was, staring at us all smiling and googly-eyed. We're her world right now, and she is ours. Just the three of us. This is us- we're an us. A family. For the duration of our time here, Sophie will wake up, play, poop, bathe, and sleep only to her Daddy and Mama's voices, and that is kind of precious in its own way, like a little blissful cocoon of us-ness before we go home to the riotous torrent of love, hugs, and kisses from everyone else :)

Oh, and Sophie, happy 2-month old birthday! Daddy and Mama love you to bits, punkin'!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

It's playtime, baby!

Sophie loves her Baby Einstein play gym! from serene koh on Vimeo.

Now that Sophie's maintaining eye contact with us, and slowly getting used to the mobile we've hung over her crib, we thought it might be time to start exposing her to other developmentally appropriate toys. We grabbed this Baby Einstein Activity Gym at a neighborhood yard sale last month and were initially a little hesitant to take it out since we were afraid it might be too much stimulation too soon for the peanut. She didn't seem to like it last week when we put her under it and we suspect it's because the colors might be a little bright and there's just too much going on...

But this morning, seeing how she was in a particularly chill mood, I thought to try again and voila!, it was gurgles and smiles at first sight! She even responded to the crazy, psychedelic star that scares us. I still don't think she can engage with it too long before it overwhelms her. We don't want to be those parents that bombard their kids with too many toys- the best stimulation is still us talking with her and interacting with her with our voices and facial expressions (see this excellent NYT article that basically vindicates all we've been doing with Sophie so far...). Nothing beats constantly exposing her to language and responding to her, even if it's something as simple as acknowledging her coos, telling her we're walking up the stairs to change her diaper, or counting to three as we pull her onesie over her head, even at this age. That's something no toy-- no matter how well-designed or exciting-- can replace.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What will become of my heart...

OK, so considering the research project I'm on, I really should be using this video to promote the importance of reading and give a whole spiel about how early literacy development is of profound importance to children's futures. But instead, the Mommy in me is envisioning the day when Sophie gets passed a love letter in school and has some boy bemoaning the "unbearable distance" between them... ;) I told Jude it'll be adorable if that happens and that I'll happily give the boy milk and cookies if he comes over for a play-date.

And what does Jude say? "I want to see the boy."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

In gratitude: The Ponseti method

We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the important role that Dr. Ignacio Ponseti and the treatment he pioneered has on Sophie's ability to walk/run normally in the future. It's startling that this treatment for clubfeet is not practiced as widely as we would have thought even though it's been around for almost 50 years. It heartens us to know that we've been able to benefit from this non-surgical and highly effective method to correct what might otherwise be a permanent and painful disability. Dr. Ponseti-- at 95 years old-- is still alive and actively practicing and his mandate now is to spread the use of the Ponseti method to as wide a community as possible.

Sophie has done remarkably well throughout the process- being such a brave peanut through the serial casts and the tenotomy (an outpatient mini-surgery to release her Achilles heel); but now comes the toughest part of the treatment- the wearing of the Dennis-Brown shoes to keep the correction in place. Sophie has to wear them 23-hours a day for the next few months, and then only when she sleeps till she's about 2. The three of us are going to have to be very disciplined to stick to the routine-- no matter how uncomfortable it may initially be for Sophie, or how our hearts break at her cries when we put it on-- or the chances of relapse are very high. We've been reading the forum boards and found out that many parents-- for one reason or another-- give up wearing the shoes and then find themselves having to begin the procedure from scratch, beginning with the serial casts again. There is no way we're going to put Sophie through that again.

If you watch the above video - you'll understand why we are so grateful to Dr. Ponseti and all the Drs. and nurses at UM involved with Sophie's treatment. We couldn't have asked for a better or nicer pediatric ortho specialist than Dr. Michelle Caird. And this is why we are so moved to donate to the Ponseti foundation, to help them spread the method, so that children all over the world can benefit from the treatment just like Sophie.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guess how much we love you?

Yes, she really is this perfect.

And no, we still can't believe we made her... :)
"I love you right up to the moon- and back."
-Big Nutbrown Hare, Guess How Much I Love You?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All wrapped up

Loving the Moby!
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
We're not sure if it's a developmental thing or if it's just general fussiness but for the past 10 days or so, Sophie's been having difficulty sleeping at nights. Specifically between the hours of 10pm- 2am, she's either really fussy and cries uncontrollably, or just wants to be awake and play. She's also taken to wanting only to fall asleep in our arms and doesn't like it when we put her down. It's odd because she's so very sweet in the day- playing, feeding, and sleeping without much fuss. We spoke to Dr. Youssef, her pediatrician, who says that this will pass by 8-10 weeks-- the night-crying especially-- and that for now, we should just do what we can to soothe her when she fusses and pick her up whenever she cries. Despite popular belief, in the first 3 months, there really is no such thing as spoiling a baby. Besides, it's hard for me not to pick her up when she cries so badly- it's like a small part of me dies a little every time I hear her plaintive wail...

So to get round her not sleeping, we've started using the Moby Wrap to soothe her into a deep sleep first early in the night and then transferring her to her crib later. The wrap keeps my hands free so I can still do some work when she's inside. She already loves it as it is- she sleeps extremely well and long in it, and it comforts her because she's so close to our bodies. Actually I think it comforts me, knowing that she's warm and secure, listening to my heartbeat lulling her to sleep. Invariably, she's also always clutching on to my blouse with her tiny hands whenever she's inside and that always makes my heart sing a little... :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Waking up is hard to do...

In video- 3:49pm, Saturday, Sep 26, 2009: Miss Sophie Yew seemingly content waking up from her afternoon nap.

Not in video- 3:50pm, Saturday, Sep 26, 2009: Miss Sophie Yew VERY UNHAPPY to have woken up from her afternoon nap...

A start of autumn song - "East" by the weather station

As the mercury starts to dip, the leaves turn color and when a definite autumnal mood is in the air, I thought that I would share this gorgeous track by the Canadian band, the weather station. Much meaning in the lyrics as we begin to ponder our next steps after the PhD.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Passport photo- FAIL!

This is what happens when you try to take a passport photo for a 6-week old with a white bed-sheet and her bouncer...

[click for full effect]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Working mom

So my maternity leave ended this week and I'm technically "back at work", although that doesn't have quite the same meaning for a grad student as a full-time working mom. It basically means I'm back to working 20 hours a week as a research assistant and can no longer spend my days sitting in front of the TV with Sophie sleeping next to me on the couch, or spend my nights Internet-ing from our bed. The professor I'm working for is really understanding though and apart from the weekly meetings I'm obligated to attend, she's allowing me-- for the most part-- to work from home doing data analysis and writing so I don't have to worry about childcare for Sophie, at least till the end of this calendar year. It's going to be a challenge to juggle taking care of her, my research assistantship responsibilities as well as finishing writing my dissertation, but people have done it before and I'm confident Jude and I will manage.

Here's how today-- officially my first "back to work" day-- unfolded:

8:00- Woke up wondering why Sophie hadn't woken up for her morning feed yet and debated whether or not to go back to sleep. Decided to wake up and freshen up before she did rouse and demand breakfast.

8:30- Nursed Sophie for about 20 minutes while Jude made coffee and breakfast.

9:00- 10:30- Had some active awake time with Sophie, playing with Chickie, reading a couple more pages of Make Way For Ducklings [it was riveting stuff- where will the Mallards make their home?? Sophie can't wait to find out what happens next... ;)], and cooing and talking with her as she sat in her bouncer (for those of you who follow our photos, yes, she's finally taken to the bouncer- yay!).

10:30- Just as Jude went off to school, Sophie nursed and promptly fell asleep. I had planned to just put her to bed in her crib upstairs and turn the baby monitor on as I worked on my desk downstairs but decided to just let her sleep in her bouncer next to me just so I could keep an eye on her. She didn't seem to mind and fell into a deep slumber after fussing just for a little bit.

10:30- 5:00- This was basically my most productive stretch of the day. Sophie stirred to feed twice but went right back to sleep (we did have a brief 20-minute mother-daughter bonding moment but our little girl decided that sleep was more important than whatever crazy antics her mother wanted to engage her in...). I forced myself to be as efficient as possible in finishing whatever it was my professor wanted me to do (on the list today: work with some data in Excel, critique a couple of journal articles, and prepare a manuscript for publication) because I knew once Sophie woke up in the evening, I wasn't going to be able to get much done till she went to bed at night. I even had lunch in front of the computer.

5:00- Sophie woke up to feed and basically stayed up till bedtime. When she was done nursing, we-- well, she-- spent some time on her crib under the mobile watching it for a little. Now that her head's a little steadier, I think she's more able to engage with the mobile better. That didn't last long though and it was back downstairs for more Make Way For Ducklings (yes! The Mallards found a place to nest on the Charles River! And they get peanuts from Policeman Michael! Sophie was at the edge of her (bouncer) seat!!...) and incongruous babbling on my part to try to make her smile for the camera. Jude came home about an hour later and we went for a walk outside. The weather was really nice-- albeit a little humid-- and Sophie seemed to enjoy the fresh air after being cooped up inside the whole day. We came home for some tummy time- yay, Sophie!- and then she fed again.

7:00- Dinner involved basically reheating a fraction of the buffet my mom cooked up that is now stored in various containers in our fridge and freezer. We ate while Sophie watched on, sitting quietly in her bouncer. I wonder sometimes when she's in that quiet alert state if she's actually thinking, entertaining actual thoughts in that little growing brain of hers. What goes through her mind? How she can weasel more milk out of the lady in front of her? Or get the guy sitting next to the lady to change her diaper more often? Oh, and burping. Burping's good...

7:45- It's time to bathe her and put her to bed. It's become a nightly ritual ever since she was a couple of days old that bathtime signals bedtime, and surprisingly, Sophie loves it. In fact, it's the one time of the day that we're almost guaranteed a happy, chill baby. She really seems to enjoy being changed and wiped, having a warm towel wiped all over her face and lavender baby lotion slowly massaged into her little nooks and crannies. Like Cleopatra, Jude always says, with both Mama and Daddy synchronously bathing, drying, moisturizing, and dressing her :)

8:00- now- As Sophie sleeps, Jude works in the study while I continue with my work downstairs. The baby monitor's on which is a little disconcerting because it amplifies sound which makes her every whimper sound that much louder. I'm trying my darndest not to run upstairs at the slightest rustle.

I think I did good considering I'm still feeling a little wistful that my parents have left. I tell myself that we managed that first 4 weeks without them and that we'll see them again soon- we just have to ease back into our schedule and we'll be back into the swing of things.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Till Christmas, Mom & Dad...

I miss them already. *sniff* I can't remember the last time I cried saying bye to my parents. Even when Jude and I made our first big move here in 2003, it didn't really hit me this hard. But something about the past 3 weeks was different. And it didn't have to do with all the stuff they bought us (they practically restocked our bathroom and kitchen supplies) or cooked for us (my mom made enough food to last us at least 2 weeks). I'm not sure what it is but I was genuinely sad to see my parents walk through the gate this afternoon :( Coming home from the airport, there was an unmistakable stillness- no smells of ginger and sesame oil wafting from the kitchen, soups simmering away, my dad pottering about the house trying to keep things tidy, or the TV perpetually tuned to the Food Channel because my mom's a little besotted with Barefoot Contessa.

I think part of it has to do with how I feel my relationship with my parents have evolved somewhat. My friend Tanya says that having children sort of redefines your relationship with your parents. Because not only do you see how much they love your child, you realize that everything you're doing and feeling for your child, your parents have done and felt (and still feel) for you. Like finding out how my mom had to painstakingly deal with me crying through the nights, or that my dad was the one who changed me and got me ready for the day when I was a baby because my mom had to leave for work early. These gestures are universal and elemental, and they transcend time and age. My mom spent the last 3 weeks practically planted in the kitchen cooking up soups and tonics just so I could reap the health benefits; she would also sometimes be the last to have dinner and watch Sophie for us just so we could eat in peace and not worry. And my dad- constantly worrying about whether or not we have enough paper towels or teaspoons, and so eager to help with re-arranging our room just so the two of us and Sophie would be most comfortable.

I'm profoundly embarrassed to say this but I don't think I've appreciated my parents as much as I have these past 3 weeks.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.