Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Champion Sleeper?

Some will say that we are extremely lucky. s sleeps very well. During the day, all she would really need is a decent feeding and she is out like a light. So deep is her sleep that a herd of tap-dancing elephants couldn't wake her. Yes, lucky if we were lions or some other nocturnal hunters who have a preference for sleeping during the day.

Our dear little s sleeps so well during the day that she prefers to party during the wee morning hours. Not early evening even. She loves to be awake between the hours of 2-6 am. We do manage to get her to sleep during those hours but her sleep would be so light that she would wake if I had a loud thought.

Initially I had thought that she just needed to eat every 3 hours. I did an experiment yesterday and realized that during the day she could go almost 5 hours without eating if left to her own schedule. Now that my return to work date is fast approaching, some extreme measures need to be taken.

It is going to be painful for a few days but the plan will be to wake her in 2 hour increments for the next few days for a feeding and for "forced" play. Sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it? But something's got to give.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Parenting perspective

G here.

Boy the most under appreciated job in the world has to be that of a parent. I consider myself usually a very calm, rational and low maintenance person. But everything in our household conspired together to push me over the tipping point the other night. Both F and I have been very sleep deprived since s arrived. She's an odd little baby. She sleeps better than g ever did but her sleep patterns are irregular. Some nights she goes to sleep right after a bottle for almost four hours in a row. While other nights she's up pretty much the whole night. The other night when I commented on how "Parenting sucks" I had been able to sleep from only 1 am to 2:30 am. After that 90 minutes of rest, s remained awake until 5:30 in the morning. F finally came in at about 5 to relieve me. I felt bad since F is also recovering from the same flu I had just recovered from the same illness. On top of that, g had not been eating for about two days and was having trouble sleeping.

Does Parenting suck? Yeah it does. It's a thankless job but I do it anyway. I guess I had just forgotten how hard it was. Now I have my second daughter to remind me. I send my praise off to parents that have multiple babies and no live in nanny.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meltdown #4788

So it was around 5:00 AM when I finally got out of bed. Last night to this morning was an example of how much of a character-building exercise parenthood is. G very gallantly offered to take s for evening. g was under the weather. She has been persistently losing what little lunch she has had. Thankfully she has been really thirsty so no dehydration. The doctor said that her throat is really inflamed. Her sleep has also been equally disturbed. She can't seem to sleep longer than a few minutes to an hour. Gmom was with us and she was such a lifesaver. I don't think I would have been able to rise above the fog I was under yesterday to take both kids to the doctor. The doctor had no better new but no bad news either. He said that whatever g had would just have to pass on its own (ie we would have to ride out the wave of unhappiness).

Gmom offered to bunk with g. G was going to take s. I was going to "luxuriate" on the couch. My attempt at sleep started around midnight. s had awakened and G had fed her and was putting her to sleep. g had finally fallen asleep after hours of tossing and turning. Things seems to be going well. I must have been sleeping lightly when I heard G come outside to fix another bottle. Then in what seemed like a few minutes later, I heard cry out again. I then heard the swing come on. I heard the swinging and shushing proceed in earnest for awhile. I finally decided to get up at 5:00 am to help out. G informed me that he has been trying to get s to sleep for the last 2 and a half hours and that"parenting sucks!" He was obviously starting to go out of his mind. So I decided to take over. After another hour, she finally fell asleep. By then, it was 6 am and g was going to be up in 2 hours. Yeah...sweet dreams!

Parenting can be really painful.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Superhuman powers

I had to chuckle when I read this quote from Gwen Stefani -

"I'm still nursing," she says, "and I think it gives you superhuman powers.",,20004425,00.html

I might actually take xray vision or arms of steel (maybe buns of steel). I have nursed g and am nursing s. Although I am not sure if nursing has given superhuman powers, but it has changed me as a human being. I have never had to do a more rewarding, grueling, at times painful, at times thankless but ultimately powerful experience in my life.

Consider the preparation. Breastfeeding is the most complicated natural thing that a woman will ever have to do. Most natural things are fairly self-explanatory. Even childbirth, the pain and contractions brings a woman very close to her instinctive self. I can speak from experience now that even with a horrid lack of preparation, a woman's body "knows" how to bring a child into the world. Breastfeeding seems to go against all reason initially. We are told in classes to put the baby to the breast within minutes of birth. Check. Seems simple, right? There are many considerations apparently. The latch must be checked to ensure proper milk removal and to prevent pain, etc. Feedings should also be done every 2 hours. Now this is every 2 hours taking into account feeding time. Thus if the baby takes 45 minutes to feed and it takes another 10 minutes to change diapers, another 10 minute of burp attempts, the mom would have less than an hour before the process begins again. It is also counter intuitive, but during the first week of life, the baby should be awakened to eat. So the rule of "never awaken a sleeping baby" doesn't apply here. I have done extreme measures to awaken my babies (wipe them down with a cool washcloth, strip them down to their diaper, tickle their toes, play loud music, etc). A mom will do what she has to do.

So you'd think that once you get into the swing of things, it should become fairly routine, right? WRONG! There is always a possibility of thrush, infections, mastitis, plugged ducts, etc. There are such a thing as nursing strikes when the baby refuses to nurse. Super counter-productive. I have endured one and it was no fun. There are also incidents of biting, pulling, preference for one side over the other. This list can go on and on and on. Whole message boards and user groups have been created around breastfeeding support. This "natural" act is an endless amount of highs and lows.

So why? Each person will have a different reason why they chose to do so. Personally it is the best thing I could do for my baby. The benefits are well-documented. It makes me proud that I am able to provide for her in a way unique only to me. However with both of my kids, it is work. It has taught me though to trust in my ability to do this. In the early days of this journey, I have heard VERY OFTEN, "are you sure you have enough?" In those early days, I didn't know for sure. A nursing mom never knows for sure unless you have a scale handy. In this second phase, I have learned to trust in my ability to give enough, to trust that s knows what she needs and will let me know if she needs more.

This is a journey. It's one fraught with hurt and happiness. It's a journey that I still take day by day. There are days when I feel like quitting. There are days when s seems like she want to quit. I have given myself permission to quit anytime. This permission has allowed to soldier on. So superhuman, no. Definitely more human, more myself, a better self.

Friday, December 15, 2006

S at 5 weeks

S at 5 weeks featuring my favorite chin (the second one from the back). Yes, she is all cheeks and chin. She has finally grown but still very much a pipsqueak. At her one-month appointment, she has weighed in at 8 lbs 7 oz, 21 inches and 33 cm head circumference. She is no longer 25th across the board in percentiles. She is now at the 50 percentile in weight, 75th percentile in head circumference and her height remains at 25th. She has started to hold her head up more steadily. Her new thing this week has been to stay awake all night. During the day, she can sleep through jackhammers and g jumping around her car seat. At night, she would awake when I shift position in bed. At least she has something in common with her big sister.

Poor s has all this baby acne. It's made her face look so red and it is really rough to the tough. The acne is combined with seborrheic dermatitis, a form of eczema. Great...another thing in common with g and G. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pile on the mommy guilt

I have mentioned in past entries about how I have felt I have to be the disciplinarian because Nny is a push over and G has been working nights. I am beginning to see now that g is beginning to see me in such a negative way. She is beginning to expect that when I come into her crying fit that I will be the one to discipline her. In a day, I must say no to her at least 10 times. I feel horrible that I can't just enjoy her, that I have to constantly be the police officer.

Today g got into the cleanser cabinet and though Nny was right beside her, I thought that it is best that she should get used to not being allowed into that cabinet. Nny was trying to gently reason her out of the closet. I looked over and did the full name thing. She looked at me with that mournful look that she has developed in recent weeks and proceeded to bury her face in Nny's leg.

Same thing today when g reached for a pot of soup on the stove. Nny was just blocking g's persistent efforts. I did the same stern talking-to. Again, she ran into Nny's legs and hid from me. That just killed me.

I hate the fact that I have to constantly be yelling her. g is such a sweetheart. She is a bundle of raw emotions though. Today I had to tell her not to eat lint. I didn't even raise my voice but telling her another no just made her dissolve into tears. I feel even worst hen. My daughter now is so intimidated by me that I can't even "gently" tell her anything. I know that is probably not so, but it doesn't help the way I feel.

Friday, December 08, 2006

High Expectations

Maybe I just have impossibly high standards. I am silently seething as I am blogging. I am at the computer so I can remove myself from a potentially explosive situation. The new nanny (nny) has been working for us for the last month. For the most part, it has been going ok. She is the polar opposite of our old nanny (aka she-devil). She is extremely loving to g. Well...loving to the point of being g's slave. g must think that the nny is hers because when I had once asked the nny to change s' diaper. g had a massive cow, a whole herd actually. Nny has been extremely indulgent and on the surface that is really good, right? Except I am of the school of structure. I do believe in loving my kids to death, but I do provide them with a structure, a list of do's and don'ts to abide by. With Nny, a lot of these rules have been flying out the window. I don't think it helps g It just makes her more demanding and less able to deal with a no.

Thus far, I have been the "heavy". It seems like for the last few weeks, I am always saying no to her. "No, you can't play with the medicine shelf. No, you can't stand on the chair. No, you can't jump on nny. " and so on and so forth. Nny used to let her play with water as she is washing her hands. I usually intervene, but once I just let it play out to see how Nny would deal with it. It went on for about 15 minutes with the water running full blast. It only lasted 15 minutes because I decided to step in before we drain enough water to fill a pool.

Don't get me wrong. Nny is receptive to our comments and tries her best. Communication has been the worst for us since she only speaks Mandarin. Gmom speaks bad Mandarin. I know the equivalent of 20 words and G knows about 50. It is almost like the UN without the aid of interpreters. So it has been really hard to share ideas with her or really explain our philosophy on child-rearing.

I am getting frustrated though this is a much better situation than a few weeks ago. meals are becoming a battleground now. Tonight, g refused to eat her fish and rice, opting instead to "learn" to use chopsticks. After a full 30 minutes of that, g asked for a clear soup with wintermelon. How much food is that really? So she had a bowl of soup and winter melon for dinner. This is g's last meal till the morning (a full 13 hours from now). Healthwise, I think despite the good stuff that is in the soup, it is hardly enough to provide her with everything she needs to grow. She has been having the soup with melon meal for almost a week now although most of the time it is not exclusively as is the case tonight.

I guess I should stop making soup or really start brushng up on my mandarin.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Meltdown #4385

Ok...I have not honestly been keeping track although that number may be close to accurate. Last night was a particularly bad night. Sleep deprivation aside, it was that time of the night when everything is coming together (or falling apart). s must be having some sort of growth spurt. She was nursing non-stop and didn't want to fall asleep. It was also bedtime for g. So I needed to get her showered and start the sleep sequence.

the shower went ok but things began to unravel from there. s (who finally fell asleep a few minutes before) woke up again and started crying just as I was trying to get g to sleep. Just as g was settling down, the nanny came in to get a diaper for s. So g bolted up to see what was going on. s was hungry so she was crying throughout this whole time. I tried to leave g but she started to get upset also. She reached freak-out levels within a minute. Now I have 2 babies crying at the top of her lungs as the nanny was bidding me goodnight.

So I decided to nurse s in g's bedroom, hoping that we would all just fall asleep. I actually thought that we all did except s started to fuss and g bolted up again. I swear that kid can ignore the karaoke night at the bar next door but can hear a pin drop in that bedroom. So s started to cry and I thought I should take her to living room so as not to wake g up even more. Too late, g was up and rose again to freak out levels in record time.

I yelled. I hate doing that, but I did. g fell silent and gave me her sad look complete with tears rimming her eyes. I hated myself even more. I quietly told g that I really need to give s something to eat and I had to leave. I will see her tomorrow.

The rest of the night was more of a nursing extravaganza. I finally had dinner at 11:00 and graduated to another nursing extravaganza till 2:00 AM. I think I will take a pass on that third kid.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The sadness

I am happy to report that s is back on the "juice" (breastfeeding). Her bili levels are lower. We would just have to deal with her being a little yellow for now. During our many loooooong feeding sessions, I catch myself looking at this little shrimp. My last little shrimp. G and I have had the conversation about this one being our last child. We both felt that 2 was enough and that we were both done with having anymore. While I was heavy with pregnancy, I totally agreed. It was difficult being tired and ill with morning sickness AND have a toddler to deal with. There was no way I could deal with another pregnancy and 2 toddlers.

But I smell my little baby's hair, I wonder. I am weighed down a little by sadness. Though not necessarily an overwhelming desire to have another child, but the loss of that possibility. That part of my life is now over.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


This is one of the first shots of the sisters. It's always been hard to get g to pose in one position long enough for a good picture. It's gotten even more difficult to get both of them in the same shot. g has been very good to little s. If anything, we worry really about her persistent desire to pick her up, give her a huge hug or straddling her for a big kiss. It must be hard for her to understand why she couldn't just throw herself on top of her little sister as she does with me or G.
 Posted by Picasa

Little s

This is a picture of s, finally with her eyes open. She is growing slowly but surely. It has been a wild ride for us so far. You would think that since she is the second that there would be no surprises. Life has other plans.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006

she ain't heavy....

well, at least, she is getting heavier. We took little s to her follow-up visit. Sad to report that she is still a little yellow (asian baby jokes aside.) So off we went to another blood test to check for bili levels. The doctor suspects breast milk jaundice. That means that there is something in my milk that s is reacting to that causes her to be so yella. There is no cure for it. If we persist with breastfeeding, she is going to be yella for that length of time. I am a bit on the fence about how to proceed. Admittedly, I am slightly depressed about this. This time around, I felt that I was so prepared to have breastfeeding go well. I was feeding religiously the first 2 days to make sure that my supply came in. Woke up my sleepy baby every 2 hours for feedings that took an hour. Now it comes to this. That my milk might be causing this problem. So we are taking her off the juice for a week to see if the jaundice disappears. Despite pumping with g for a year, all of a sudden I hate pumping. s is so much more effective at removing milk and pumping does hurt sometimes. It also becomes too much of a numbers game. How much did I get today? It used to drive me nuts. Then there is the constant threat to the supply. I can't eat too little, stress too much, forget to pump, etc, etc. Ok...whining over.

Good news though...s has regained her birthweight and then some. She is now a little heavier than a small bucket of rocks. She started life at 6 lbs 3 oz. At her hospitalization, she shrank to 5 lb 10 oz. Now she is at a "whopping" 7 lb 1 oz (naked).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Poor s in phototherapy

I would have commented on the jackie o shades except that s was actually in phototherapy and was so uncomfortable in that thing. Posted by Picasa

Baby s

 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Aftermath

Today is day 11. 11 days since s arrived and as a family, things have changed a lot.

g has been really good to s. She has been very affectionate, at times, too affectionate. She, being only 2, does not know her own strength or her own weight. I am saddened to report that g has been acting up a lot lately. I don't really blame her. In the last 2 weeks, she has been through an upheaval.

She had to deal with the evil nanny. G started working 2 jobs, one in the morning and another at night. Her whole daytime and nighttime routine has changed. Then I went into the hospital for a couple of days. s came home and has not made any attempt to leave. In the span fo 2 weeks, her whole life changed and she doesn't understand why. She doesn't understand why her daddy doesn't give her baths anymore, why he doesn't read her bedtime stories and put her to sleep.

That's why she is really acting up on areas that she can control. Not wanting to eat. Not wanting to sleep. She would freak out over the smallest things, about how she had wanted the blue crayon and was handed the red, about how she wanted the pink shirt and not the white one. I feel bad because I have been the heavy for these last 2 weeks. I have been the one to keep her in check, to tell her that she is not allowed to hit, not allowed to do this and that.

I hope that she will come to grips with everything soon. She is becoming such a wonderful little girl. I can't help but stare at her constantly now. In comparison to s, she is such a big girl in every way. It's hard to imagine that she was once this small.

s is doing better now. I had thought that since I have experience with this already, the second should be a little easier to deal with. We came home from the hospital and I have noticed that s seemed so sleepy. That is normal. So we proceeded with life for the first few days. On Monday (we returned home on Saturday), I just noticed that s seemed to be getting even sleepier instead of the opposite. When we brought g home, she was sleepy for all of a day. Then she proceeded to not sleep at all, but that's a separate story. Feedings were getting more difficult because she would just doze off. I thought that maybe she didn't like the taste of my milk. So I tried to give her formula. That didn't help much. I called to make an appointment to see the doctor on Tuesday morning just to get her weighed and examined. We went that morning. The doctor said that she looked jaundiced but it didn't seem too bad. He sent us to the lab to get the blood test asap. She got tested and found that her bilirubin level was 15, which was good news in the sense that though it was elevated, it was not enough to be dangerous or require any phototherapy.

We went home and proceeded with the rest of the afternoon. Then I noticed that s never really woke up since we had returned from the doctor and the lab. In fact, she endured a heel prick and the squeezing of blood from her tiny heel without waking up at all. She responded to touch, to the cold, to diaper changes, but she never really opened her eyes. So I called the doctor again and told him that she has not been awake since we returned from his office at 10:30 AM. The doctor told us to meet him at the hospital. G was at work. Gmom was going to have to take care of g and I had to bid her a screaming farewell. I took s to the hospital and waited. They took another battery of blood test. They hooked her up to an IV and since she was already there, the doctor decided to hook her up for phototherapy. The blood test results were not good. Her bili levels went up to 18. Again, not critical but the fact that it was a upward trend is not good.

That was one of the longest night of my life. They gave us a foam eyepatches to safeguard her eyes during the phototherapy. We stripped her down and placed these things on her. They were so obviously uncomfortable and worst, they would not stay on. So I had to constantly adjust.

They had told me that the phototherapy machine had a heating unit to keep the baby warm despite being naked. I believed them. s wouldn't stop crying though. She would only stop when I held her. Her extremeties were getting cold. I was feeling so torn. s would only stop when I picked her up but if I carried her the whole night, we might as well discontinue the therapy. After 5 hours of this, one of nurses finally realized that the type of phototherapy machine that they gave us did NOT have a heater. There was scramble to find one that had a heater. The best they could do was to give us a heater unit. So the arrangement was the heater unit was positioned above the phototherapy unit. There was a sensor on the heater unit that sometimes detect that something is obstructing the patient, so it will issue a LOUD beep. That was my whole night and day, hitting the reset button to stop the beep alternating with rearranging the foam eyepatch on s's eyes.

The next day, s's bili levels kept a steady decline. We were finally discharged around 9:00 PM. I hope that is the end of that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Birth Story.... a first person account

It began on the wednesday, 11/8/06. I was at work and been feeling irregular contractions. Not a big surprise since I have been having Braxton Hicks ("practice contractions") for weeks now. The contractions did seem more consistent then. I was at work and busy. There was still so much to do and so much to follow up on. I ignored it. That night, it seemed more difficult to ignore. The contractions were coming on about 10 to 15 minutes apart, only sort of consistent. The contractions also were pretty mild. I called the hospital service just to be sure. The doctor on call told me that unless I am sure that my bag of waters broke that with mild contractions that far apart, they'll probably just send me home.

The next morning started off like any other morning. Gmom was with us because of the whole nanny situation. I was preparing for work and G (who just started his night job) was prepping for a day of play with g. The contractions started coming in when I woke up. I thought it would be a repeat of last night. I started noticing that they were coming in at 15 minute intervals more or less. So I had an internal debate about whether or not I should go to work or stay at home. There are still a pile of paperwork and follow-up items that need to be done, but it seems that the contractions were coming. I decided to work from home and see where these contractions go.

I logged on and started my emails. Made a few phone calls. Contractions were coming at 13 minutes but they seem to be a lot stronger. More emails. I had to update my status sheet just in case this is the real thing. Gmom and G took g to the park, to the swings. Peace and quiet as I try to send my developer his to-do list for the week. Closed out a couple of bugs that needed to be tested. Contractions started to come in at 9 minutes, mild and still very tolerable. Finally finished my status report. I saw that my friend, S, was online. She worked in the same office, so I asked her to make sure that our boss would check the email that I sent him. I also told her that I was in labor. It was odd when I finally articulated that, it became real. It clicked in my head that this baby was going to be born whether I finish my emails. Contractions were coming in still at about 9 minutes but they were getting stronger and more painful. I have to send my boss the status update and my own labor update. I typed a detailed email and attached the report. Hit Send. Got some odd error message. RATS!!! Contractions were much stronger now. I didn't need to see how far apart because I knew that this was it. I took a deep breath and called G. I told him to head on home. I re-typed my emai to my boss, hit Send and prayed that it gets there. No error message this time. Cool.

G arrived. We headed into the city for the hospital. Who knew that there would be traffic into the tunnel at that time of the day (~10:30 AM on a Thursday)? As we approached the tunnel, the contractions were truly coming in and they were painful enough to require the lamaze breathing. We finally made it through and got to the hospital around11:45 AM. We parked the car and checked in. We went to Labor/Delivery and the desk was staffed with Filipinos. Although I don't do this often, I decided to speak to them in Tagalog. I thought they would at least try their best to get me my own labor room. The triage room was occupied so they did my triage in a labor room. When they finally laid me down for an initial check, the doctor on call told me that I was already 8-9 cm dilated, 100% effaced and in +1 position. She mentioned briefly that there might not be time for an epidural. In my mind, I discounted that. They told me that the last time but they were able to sneak it in. So I was fairly confident still that I would be able to get my pain medication.

My doctor arrived around noon. She checked me and said that I was ready to push. G asked about the epidural and the doctor said that the baby was RIGHT THERE. Apparently there was a blood test that needed to be done and completed before the epidural could be administered. The blood test would take 30 minutes at least. I haven't been there 30 minutes yet. So they splayed me and told me to push. I think for the first few minutes, I still didn't believe that they wouldn't give me the epidural. I had no idea all of a sudden how to push. I couldn't comprehend it. So I tried to push through the pain. The doctor said that pushing through the contraction would help me deal with the pain better. Ah....NO!!!

I am still at a loss for the words to describe the pain that I felt. I tried to push but really it didn't feel like anything was happening except that the pain intensified. I started to shake violently. I don't remember much of what happened. I only remember snippets. I remembered one of the nurses say that I wasn't pushing effectively. I recalled thinking that it was because I was in so much pain. I also remembered I said at one point, "TAKE IT OUT". Yes, I said IT. Horrible, I know.

Then at 12:20 pm, after one final heaving push, it was over for me but the beginning of little s. She was truly little, weighing in only at 6 lbs 3 oz and measuring 18 inches. Everyone who has seen my stomach has been speculating that she was going to be at least 8 lbs. I was much larger than I was with g. Yet somehow she was exactly the right size for my inadvertent natural childbirth.

Again, her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. So her cord was cut quickly and she was taken for examination by the nurses. Her Apgar was a 9 which is excellent.

Afterwards I told G to just go to work that night. Arrangements were made for pick-ups, drop-offs, g and Gmom for the next few days. Who puts whom to sleep? Who sleeps where? What was needed when? After G left for work and I was left to watch the rest of Dr. Phil, I thought that it seemed weird that my mind was occupied with everything mundane at that moment when something quite monumental had occured only a few hours ago.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What's in a name

This will definitely be one of the oft asked why s?

well, we should start first at the very beginning. So why g became g?

g - I chose the name because of an early fascination with Oscar Wilde. In college, I had begun to become interested in acting and met a few actors in school. I was really impressed with one of the actresses not only for her talent, but for her wit, intelligence, funny, funky and "i-am-my-own-person" attitude. So impressed that I always remembered her performance in the role of the Lady g in "The Importance of Being Earnest."

h (g's middle name) - G chose this one for the song not really for the comet. It was featured in a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, "H comes to Jackson". For those who are really interested, you can hear a sneak preview here -

s - No, she is not named for the tv character nor for the city that auntie K lives in. This came about when one night we were watching "America's Got Talent" G took a liking to a pint-sized,8 year old stand-up comedian, "s the kid". She was an ok comedian and didn't make it past the 2nd round. Kids should stay in school anyway.

e - Absolutely no idea where I got this from. Anyone who has any clue, email me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The big birth from G's perspective

So our new family has finally settled down. I picked up little S and mom yesteday morning from the hospital. Life has been pretty hectic the last few days with me beginning a new night job and the anticipation of the new baby. But the timing of everything was perfect.

Thursday, November 9th started off like most days. g woke me up at 8 am that morning. I would have prefered to sleep in a bit more but I should get my body reaccustomed to sleep deprivation. My mom was with us that morning so after breakfast we decided to take g out to the park. She's such a fan of the swings and slides. F stayed behind to do some office work. It was about 10:30 am when I got a call on my cellphone from F. She told me she thought it was time. My mom, g and I rushed back from the park. We threw everything into our little Honda Civic and headed out. Ordinarily the drive out to NYC should only be about 10 minutes. But that morning there was so much traffic in the Holland Tunnel. F's contractions were growing so much stronger in the car. I really was afraid I was going to have to do the delivery. After a bit of swerving and maneuvering, we finally made it out to the hospital by 11:30 am. We rushed up to the maternity ward where the nurses were just casually standing around. The Filipino nurses thought F was chinese and started speaking bad Cantonese to her. When they realized she spoke perfect english and also Tagalog their eyes brightened up. She was given the VIP treatment. When the doctor came in to check on the situation we found out F was already 9 cm dilated. Unfortuately for her it was too late to get the epidural. That bit of info did not register in her mind. As she pushed and pushed she pleaded with the nurse and the doctor to give her an epidural. But it seems they can't just give you one. There are some blood tests that need to be run to see if you qualify. The test was being expedited but it would take about 30 minutes and the doctor feared that by the time the results came in the baby would be out. So F was encouraged to just push. She was such a trooper. I have never seen that side of my wife before. Her eyes became bloodshot and her face turned dark red. She looked possessed as she was holding her push for the 10 count. I did not recognize the mother of my children. At the same time I was scared of her I was also scared for her. I did not know if she would be able to do it. But instinct prevailed and by 12:20 pm little S was born.

The whole family is doing great. Pictures to follow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This is it....I think

I have been experiencing mild contractions all last night and got myself all worked up. Then they faded. What a buzz kill. This morning, the contractions started coming back. I debated on whether or not I should go to work. I decided to just work from home for about an hour to see how things progress. Well, they have progressed. They are coming on strong and consistent now. Right now, I would say they are about 5 minutes apart and about a minute long each. BOY, do they hurt? I have to remembered that I actually signed up for this gig.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The resolution

We had decided to fire the nanny that same night (Monday) when I saw the video. We called G's mom for a consult a to how best to handle the situation. There is a slightly delicate situation of this lady being a friend of G's aunt. So it was decided that Gmom would come in and take care of g until we can find someone else or when I go on maternity leave.

An addendum:

By sheer coincidence, the day that Gmom came in to fire the nanny, she took g to the playground. There she saw a chinese woman. She casually asked if she knew anyone who would be interested in caring for a child. The woman said that indeed she did. The phonelines started burning. I was on my way to work then. I was already running a little late because I didn't want to leave g with the nanny for another minute, so I stayed behind to wait for Gmom to arrive. I got the call from G that we were meeting the prospective nanny by the train station. So off I went to train station. Admittedly my guard was up and I was going to be a little hard to impress. She seemed like a nice enough person. The big hitch is that she only spoke Mandarin. G only spoke Cantonese. Gmom only spoke marginal Mandarin. So it is definitely going to be interesting to say the least. I was also slightly impressed with the new nanny that in that first meeting, she tried more than a few times to get g to look at her. She even gave g a kiss on the cheek and tried to carry her. That is more than the other nanny did in the 2 months that she was here. We'll have to see.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nanny Saga - the conclusion (hopefully)

Hopefully this will be my last entry about our "nanny" - term used loosely to describe individual that was retained by us to keep watch over g. Yesterday was a fairly average day. I came home from work. G got the job that he has been applying for, so we had planned a little post-birthday/new job celebration. He had called ahead to the nanny telling her that she would need to make any dinner preparations for us. The evening was proceeding as usual with a festive undertow. I was thinking of going to one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan for dinner and maybe pick up some groceries in Chinatown. It was g's bedtime. We started the sleep sequence and as G took g in for her stories and Barney sons, I went to turn off recording for the day.

Since I figured that I had at least a few minutes before G was done and g was asleep, I decided to review the nanny cam video. The day was pretty uneventful. So I decided to look through Friday's video.

Again the first few clips didn't seem any different from the general indifference that g gets daily until I got to IT. The lady was sitting on the floor. g was clutching onto her puppy, trying to get her attention. g tried to snuggle up to her, but the lady seems to be more engrossed with her singing than bothering with a kid. g continued trying to get close to her. She eventually fell over with a little "nudging". The lady then patted her on the butt. It was a pat but not a very affectionate one. g was annoyed and tried to hit her back. The lady did it again. g tried to hit her again but the lady deflected the swats. The lady then started "flicking" g in the face. She kept doing it even when g started to cry. It upset g so much that aside from crying, she went to the door and started calling for her daddy and then her mommy. The lady did NOTHING to soothe g. She continued singing,laughed then went to the kitchen to get a drink. This went on for more than 20 minutes until g just got tired of crying. I guess she must have realized that no one cared at that point.

I can't really put into words what I felt as I was watching all this unfold. I still can't. I have gone through cycles of emotion. I went from extreme anger to extreme sadness. I calmed down enough to go and get G. He saw the video. I needed a moment to think. I also needed a moment to suppress the desire to come at her with a baseball bat. So we decided to go to dinner, somewhere local. I lost my appetite. I really couldn't focus. I felt bad that as G was excitedly recounting his new internship and the prospect of his new job, all that I could do was replay the scene again and again in my head.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The elusiveness of sleep

Even at this age (2 years), I am still wondering why sleep is still an issue with g. It is not as hard as the first few months (or year) when I was practically begging g on bended knee to shut her eyes so that I could shut mine. We have gotten into a rhythm and for the most part, she has been able to sleep on her own. We have had the same sleep routine for years now. It consists of a nice warm bath, a few storybooks and some songs. At one point, there was a nighttime bottle which she finally was weaned from at around 18 months. At the earlier points, there was also extensive rocking, shushing and soothing which thankfully stopped after the first few months.

Now although the routine has stayed the same for a while, sometimes she would cry out after the fifth repeat of the Barney/twinkle, twinkle song. Sometimes she would fall asleep immediately after the routine. Then there are other times like tonight that after 2 hours, she is still awake inside our room, keeping herself quite entertained, talking to herself. Last night, she slept pretty easily for the first few hours and awakened at 10:00 pm, stayed awake till 1:00 AM.

What drives me nuts though is that there is no way for us to tell what kind of night this is going to be. Will this be the easy night when she will fall asleep when we put her down? Will this be one of those night when she will cry for 2 minutes and then fall asleep? Or, will it be like tonight when she has been up with no sleep in sight?

I try to tell myself that sleep is one of the states that just could not be forced upon anyone even (or specially) a child. She will sleep when she wants and will remain asleep as long as she wants.

Her being awake though is still jarring to me although I don't really have to do anything with her anymore. It's almost like not being sure if I left the light on inside a parked car. It's quite unsettling. I feel like I should be doing something to facilitate sleep though I am not sure what that should be.

So now I sit here, trying to settle into the night and unwind, while hearing her constant chatter in the room is causing my shoulder to tense up. What can I do? Do shoulder rolls while I patiently wait for the day when I can have a good chardonnay.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A day alone with g

It's mostly alone though. G had to work today. A recap...G quit his job because he found another one. His boss asked him to come in on a Saturday when he finally found someone to replace G. So I spent most of the day caring for g by myself. Not that this has never happened before but because of the nature of G's new job (or jobs depending on how many he actually gets. He will be freelancing.) It's a little difficult for me nowadays because of the weight of the baby. There are also times when g prefers to be carried.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What to do?

g was happily waving goodbye to us this morning as her grandmom started reading her a story about spiders. It was almost a distraction to have to bid farewell when she seems to want to get started on her book. This is a stark contrast to how it is when we leave her with her nanny. Despite the nanny being a presence in our lives for almost 2 months, g still cries 75% of the time when we are about to leave. The other 25% of the time, the nanny bribes her with some food. She would still be whining a little though. I feel guilty everyday that I have to go to work. I felt guilty then with only the suspicion that g is being neglected by our nanny. Now I feel so burdened with guilt.

We showed G's mom that footage yesterday and yes she was very annoyed. She is still hesitant about hiring a non-relative or a stranger to come into our home which is understandable. However I feel that in our current situation I don't think I should tolerate a bad situation indefinitely. I know that some people will say that it may not be quite so bad. I don't quite see it that way. Neglect is not as bad as abuse but that doesn't make it more acceptable.

I guess I am back to the drawing board again in this regard. The other twinge of guilt is having to put the baby into a daycare situation when she would only be about 2 months old.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So I now know (part 2)

So where did I leave off....

Another oddity I saw was that the nanny ate ALL.THE.TIME. Before you think I am some evil overlord who would refuse her nanny nourishment, what I mean is that there were only small pockets of the day when she is not putting something in her mouth. After breakfast, she started munching on 2 slices of bread. When she was done with that, she started snacking on what looked like dried pumpkin seeds. She was chomping on that for over an hour. Then she prepared lunch and ate lunch with g. After g's nap, she gave g a glass of milk and then started snacking herself for another hour. After her snack, she strapped g onto the her high chair and started making g's dinner. All this snacking and eating doesn't bother per se, what bothers me is that while she is doing this, she never once looked at g or paid any attention.

She is truly more a maid than she is a nanny. G had told her to stop doing the other extra work (cleaning, straightening up, etc) and just take care of g. I didn't think it would make a difference. And it hadn't. She had all but stopped cleaning except for sweeping here and there every so often. Yet the level of care has not improved.

Her impression of engaging a child is throwing the flash cards on the floor while she is snacking beside it. g picks it up and tells her what some cards are when she is around the vicinity.

BAD NEWS The nanny found the camera yesterday. G saw that she was probably moving something and touched the camera. She was staring at it for a while. G doesn't seem to think that she knows what she looking at. I think she does. She might be a little ignorant on some things, but she really LIKES nice things like cell phones, beauty products, etc. She has the new motorola while up until recently G was still using his circa 1990s startac. So I think she knows what a camera looks like and although we had a black tape on the lights, she probably has an inkling that it was on because the tape was partially drawn back.

The good that might come from her discovery is that she might be on her best behavior now that she knows she is being recorded. The bad is that she could potentially just bring g into the bedrooms where we would not be able to see what she is doing.

The true test is tonight's footage. If nothing has changed, then I could say that she doesn't know about the camera.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

So now I know

G finally got around to installing the "nanny cam" (of course, with the help of L.) It's all setup and ready to go. I think the inagural viewer was K, G's sister. She provided swift report for the hour that she saw on the cam (thanks, K). Yesterday we recorded a whole day's worth of "activities". Frankly I was not surprised at what we found. In fact it was exactly what I had expected. I have told many and I am sure you have heard this issuing forth from my mouth, that I don't think that there is any abuse going on with my nanny. That was never the purpose of the nanny cam. However I had felt that there was a lot of benign neglect going on. The video confirms it.

I watched about 10 hours of video last night (albeit without the sound) Yeah...we are still experiencing technical difficulties. I am also annoyed that I can't login from work because they block that specific port, but that's another topic altogether. Outside of about 25-30 minutes of flash cards and maybe half a book, g played by herself with the nanny in proximity.

I can count (actually even g can count that high) the times that the nanny engage g in actual eye contact. The nanny also has the annoying habit of parking g in her high chair for really long periods of time. We would usualy strap g up when her lunch/dinner/breakfast is cooked, cooled and ready to serve. I have noticed that she straps her up there even before she started started cooking. For lunch yesterday, g was in her high chair for about an hour and a half including eating time. For dinner, it was mercifully shorter only about an hour. By the way, it usually only takes g about 20-30 minutes to eat a meal in its entirety before she gets really bored.

Oh darn....gotta work now. will be back to post more.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A funny thing happened during breakfast

Just thought this was so funny and cute but I am sure that g would disagree with me. We were feeding her breakfast. I have cut up some sponge cake aka mamon for the Filipinos following along (i are rolling your eyes, but I assure you that the rest of her meals during the day were filled with fresh veggies and fruit). Anyway, there she was sitting calmly in her booster, eating slivers of sponge coke and drinking her milk while I was getting ready to leave for work. She was smiling and happy this whole time as we were having a "conversation" as we were getting ready. G and the nany were also around the dining table. When all of a sudden, g launched into a blood-curling scream and started crying. I whirled around and saw that she was still sitting in her booster. No, she hadn't fallen off the chair. I checked for bleeding. Nope. I finally figured out that in the act of feeding herself a big piece of cake, she had mistakenly taken a bite out of her finger.

It was such a tragedy for g, but I had to try really hard to not bust out laughing.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bad news for NJ Abbott Program- Info for NJ moms & dads

Taken from NYT today.

October 30, 2006

In New Jersey, System to Help Poorest Schools Faces Criticism

GARFIELD, N.J. — The residents of this tumbledown city of 30,000
routinely voted down school budgets over the years, leaving their
schools so hard up by the early 1990s that broken windows were patched
with cardboard and principals did their own typing because they could
not afford secretaries.

Though school taxes remain relatively low, the 5,000 students in this
city of former woolen mills and soda factories in Bergen County now
enjoy many of the privileges of much wealthier suburban districts:
year-round preschool, modern computer labs and a new $40 million middle
school — all of it paid for by the state of New Jersey.

Garfield is a so-called Abbott school district, one of 31 poor
districts that have received a total of $35 billion in state aid since
1997 as part of an ambitious court-ordered social experiment to narrow
the achievement gap between rich and poor students, whites and
minorities. In a decision that set a precedent for school equality
cases nationwide, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the poorest
urban school districts should be given the resources to spend as much
on their students as the wealthiest suburban districts do.

Now a growing number of New Jersey elected officials, educators and
parents are calling for sweeping changes to this school financing
system, saying that it has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars in the
Abbott districts. For every success story like Garfield, where
fourth-grade test scores have risen to the state average, there are
chronic problems, like those in Newark, Camden and Asbury Park.

Today, the Abbott districts serve 286,500 children in kindergarten
through 12th grade — about 21 percent of the state’s students — but get
$4.2 billion a year in state aid, slightly more than half of all the
state money given to New Jersey’s 616 school districts. The Abbotts are
among the highest-spending school districts in the state, averaging
$14,038 per student compared with $10,509 statewide. The vast majority
of districts that fall between richest and poorest say they are
increasingly bearing the burden of the Abbotts’ getting so much of the

Gov. Jon S. Corzine has made school financing a priority in his
efforts to reduce property taxes, and next month the State Legislature
is expected to propose a new school aid formula that will seek to
distribute aid to all school districts based on their numbers of poor
students, rather than focusing on just 31 districts in what has been
called an all-or-nothing approach. The Abbott districts and their
advocates have vowed to fight any reduction in state aid, signaling
another round of court battles.

In the meantime, state education officials plan to audit all 31 Abbotts
in the next year after finding that the highest-spending districts were
making the fewest gains. Asbury Park spent the most, $18,661 per
student, in the 2004-5 school year. Still, slightly fewer than half the
district’s fourth-grade students were proficient in state language arts
and math tests in 2005. “What we know is lots of money has been spent,
and in some places, there is very little to show,” said Lucille E.
Davy, the education commissioner.

For their part, the Abbott districts have criticized what they see as a
bureaucratic system that undermines local authority and forces them to
adopt programs that they do not need. For instance, Patrick Gagliardi,
the Hoboken superintendent, said that he is required to provide
full-day preschool to every 3- and 4-year-old child in his district,
regardless of income, a mandate that now benefits many affluent
families. “The court intended to help poor people, not the wealthy,” he
said. “Now it’s costing the state more money, and it’s inefficient and

The debate over the Abbott districts has spread outside urban centers
to affluent suburban communities from Ridgewood to Cherry Hill, where
local officials have repeatedly raised taxes and slashed school budgets
to offset their own dwindling share of state aid. Many of them say the
huge amounts of money given to Abbott schools versus non-Abbott schools
has polarized parents and teachers between school districts

“We resent a system that has not provided adequately for our children,”
said Elisabeth Ginsburg, the Board of Education president in Glen
Ridge, where less than 5 percent of the $23.5 million school district
budget is covered by state aid.

Critics often single out Hoboken as an example of an Abbott district
that should no longer be one, since rapid development has drawn
affluent newcomers. Hoboken actually gets far less state aid than other
urban areas because it already spent more on its students than other
Abbotts. Hoboken gets about $12.2 million a year, but as an Abbott, its
plans for a new $25 million high school would be fully subsidized by
the state.

In this year’s budget, state education officials withheld a total of
$23 million from eight Abbott districts, including Garfield, where
property values have risen but local taxes remain relatively low,
forcing them to raise local taxes and shoulder more of their school
costs. Republican lawmakers have also introduced a bill that would
phase out 13 Abbott districts that have thrived economically in recent

“Why should we continue to support them?” asked Assemblyman Joseph R.
Malone III, a former school administrator who has sponsored the bill.
“It’s like saying to somebody who’s on welfare: ‘Stay on welfare and
receive the benefits even if you’re a millionaire now.’ ”

The Abbott districts grew out of a 1981 lawsuit, Abbott v. Burke, which
claimed that the state had failed to remedy disparities between rich
and poor school districts. In a series of decisions spanning two
decades, the state’s highest court relied on an 1875 amendment to the
New Jersey Constitution requiring the Legislature to establish a system
of “thorough and efficient” education for every child. It struck down
the school financing system as unconstitutional in 1990, saying that it
deprived poor urban districts of resources, and ordered lawmakers to
address the problem.

After years of delays, the state court ruled in 1997 that the poorest
urban districts should spend as much on their students as the
wealthiest suburban districts. That exceeded the standard in other
states to simply match the average state spending per student. The
court designated 28 Abbott districts based on a state list of poor
urban communities, and the Legislature added two more districts a year
later. A third, Salem City, was included by lawmakers in 2004 after it
sued to become an Abbott district.

Paul Tractenberg, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark who has
advocated on behalf of the Abbotts, said the court ordered the current
school financing system for lack of a better alternative, and largely
left the future designation of Abbott districts to state legislators
and education officials. He supports efforts to come up with a new
school aid formula, saying, “We’re spending the right amount in the
Abbott districts; the problem is we’re not spending enough in the other
poor districts.”

Assemblyman Bill Baroni, a Republican who does not represent an Abbott
district, says that changing the Abbott system is such a politically
divided issue that the Legislature has been generally reluctant to act.
“Every time there is talk of removing a school district,” he said,
“instantly massive political opposition forms in that district.”

But as New Jersey has struggled with fiscal problems, the Abbotts have
come under increasing pressure to justify their high cost. The results
are mixed across districts, but over all, the Abbotts have improved
their test scores, particularly in the lower grades. For instance, 66
percent of Abbott students were proficient in the fourth-grade language
arts test in 2005, compared with 29.5 percent in 1999, but that still
falls below the 85.5 percent of proficient students in non-Abbott
districts. The gap is larger on the math test and among students in
higher grades.

Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education
Research, said that larger gains would come as Abbott districts built
on their strong preschool programs. In a 2005 report based on testing
in the 15 largest Abbotts, her group found that students were better
prepared for kindergarten. “The overwhelming data is this is a good use
of state taxpayer money,” she said.

But critics of the Abbotts say they have grown impatient with the
problems in some districts. This month, a state fiscal monitor was
appointed to oversee the scandal-ridden Camden district, where the
superintendent, Annette Knox, resigned in June amid investigations into
bonuses that she received. The district spent $15,420 per student in
the 2004-5 school year, though its test scores lag behind the other
Abbott districts.

Bart Leff, a spokesman for the Camden schools, said the district’s
15,500 students are mostly poor minorities who have “significantly more
need for the money” than those in better-off communities. “We are an
urban school district in a poverty-stricken city,” he said.

In contrast, the Abbott money has ushered in major changes in Garfield,
reinvigorating the schools after decades of neglect and decline. In
2005, 79.9 percent of the district’s fourth-grade students were
proficient in the language arts test, just below the statewide average
of 81.2 percent. Garfield students performed even better in math, with
81.8 percent proficient compared with 80.2 percent statewide.

Nearly two-thirds of the district’s $66 million annual budget, or $41.7
million, is covered by state aid; the district has received a total of
$370.7 million since 1997. The rest is raised largely through local
taxes. Though property values have climbed in recent years, school
officials said that many residents are senior citizens and recent
immigrants who can ill afford any increases.

In the past three years, residents have twice rejected the school
budget, including the one for the current school year. Under state law,
Garfield city officials then propose cuts to the budget, but as an
Abbott district, the total budget cannot fall below the previous year’s
spending level. The budget rose by $915,000 this year after state
education officials forced the city to raise taxes.

Nicholas L. Perrapato, the superintendent, said the district has come
to rely on the Abbott money. He said it has allowed them to hire more
teachers, reduce class sizes, and update textbooks and curriculums.
(Second graders now learn PowerPoint.) It has meant that two new
schools could be built — the first in nearly 50 years — and that
students could get a taste of unheard-of luxuries such as teams for
swimming, tennis and volleyball.

“Without the money, we’d be in dire straits,” Mr. Perrapato said. “If
they de-Abbotize us, you’re looking at rolling up the carpets because
the people here would never be able to afford to keep the programs we
have in place.”

Queens County Farm - a fall review

The family C went to Queens County Farm for their annual Childrens' Fall Festival. The website - touted petting zoos, hayrides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, etc. So we thought it would be interesting to check out. Now there is a reason why I chose the title "Fall review" because there is a little bit of a wind gust factor. The wind gusts yesterday in the New York area were reported to be around 35 mph, but we pushed onward.

Haunted House - It looked rather lame so we decided to pass since it was going to be extra 2 dollars a person.

Petting zoo - This, g absolutely loved. Thankfully she is fairly shy about actually touching the animals but she loved running up to the cage and pointing them out. Of course, if the animal moved in her direction, she would run the opposite way back into G's arms. They had a good retinue of farm animals (chickens, cows, calfs, mules, ducks, pigs, piglet, etc) and there were lots of feed for a small price (usually around .25 cents for a handful. They also provided hand sanitizers at almost every animal corral which was a nice and considerate thing for them to have around.

pumpkin picking OK...I am going to say that this was really horrible and pathetic, but I will let them slide a little on this. It is the end of the season .... but still. Pumpkin picking is comprised of an open field where random pumpkins are strewn about in no particular order, getting trampled and picked on by stray animals. There is no patch or plant anywhere in the field. There were a couple of large pumpkins that have been set up in such a way to enable parents (like myself) to get some choice fall shots of their kids. Pumpkins can be "picked" from a bin and paid for based on their sizes.

Corn Maze Didn't do this either because the wind gust had picked up at just that time and we thought that g wouldn't enjoy it much anyway.

BONUS Features Since it was meant to be a childrens' festival, they brought in the life-sized characters like Elmo, Dora, Barney and SpongeBob. The other kids loved running up to them and taking pictures. Poor g (who would insist on listening to the Barney opening theme a million times while we are driving anywhere) freaked out when G was trying to get her out of the backpack. She wouldn't go near him at all. Same thing with Dora. From afar, she would point Dora out, say hello and blow kisses. Again, when G attempted to bring her closer, she buried her face in his neck. Oh well... Another cool "bonus" is that g and I had our first taste of a gyro and it was pretty good. g couldn't get her mouth around the chicken that was in it, but enjoyed the pita, yogurt sauce and lettuce.

All in all, I thought the experience was a good one. We might come back in the summer, but I think there might be better places in NJ for stuff like this. It's a great find for New Yorkers or Queens folks because it was a relatively short drive (~45 minutes from JC WITH traffic). It's a taste of farm life right in the middle of city.

Monday, October 23, 2006

g's second birthday

This is a belated post on little g's birthday. We had a small party at our house complete with cake.

It turned out to be a great day. g enjoyed herself. She had her first slice of cake ever and I think she is definitely hooked. She probably had 3 slices that day. I did try to scrape off as much of the icing as possible. Thankfully, the chinatown cakes are considerably lighter than anything that could be bought elsewhere. Even the icing didn't feel too rich at all.

g actually attempted to blow out her Elmo birthday candle. In the end, she needed some assistance from her dad.

It's hard to believe that it has been 2 years.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An afternoon of play after a trauma


Here's g, not looking too worst for the wear after her first visit to the dentist. It was as bad as I thought it would go. I found a pediatric dentist specifically because I thought it be better because they would have the most experience with kids. Our dentist came highly recommended.

They took g in while G went looking for food. The 2 dental hygienist placed g in a too-big exam. It was basically an adult-sized chair. Not a big deal. The first DH (dental hygienist) asked g to open her mouth. I knew that wouldn't work for g. So when asking nicely didn't work, she put g in a headlock while the other DH held g's body down. I was tasked with holding her legs steady. With all 3 of us working together, g still managed to squirm loose many, many times.

Mercifully they only buffed her teeth and brushed it. It probably took less than 5 minutes with the dentist watching behind them. It of course felt more like 30 minutes.

After the cleaning, the dentist stepped in and did a quick exam, counting her teeth and writing a prescription for a vitamin with fluoride. We were then given directions to brush g's teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow that up with a gauze rub.

G arrived just as the dentist was giving directions. Seeing her "protector", g leapt out of my arms into her daddy's. He missed it all.

As you can see, she doesn't seem to be too traumatized by her experience. Posted by Picasa

A click must have occurred

We have been trying to teach g numbers, colors and alphabet in the last few weeks. Actually we have been trying to teach her colors for a WHILE now but it doesn't seem to be something she grasped. Often she would call things a certain color and it is usually right but when pressed with the same object, she will change her mind and assign another color. That sounded more like guesswork to me. Oh well... I figured she is probably going to be a late bloomer.

Today while she was reading her brown bear book, she recited all the different colored animals by the correct names. Now that could be repetition but who knows...right? OK, so I won't be dialing Mensa anytime soon, but I think she has turned a corner in her language and cognitive skills. It is really gratifying to see that all that reading to her is finally clicking.

She is definitely getting better with her Cantonese. She is actually speaking more in Cantonese although she still sounds like me trying to speak Cantonese (which is pretty horrendous actually). Well, at least she is usually understood now when she speaks in Cantonese.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New York Downtown Hospitals - a review

I know it seems pretty odd to be reviewing a hospital but I need to vent.

A little history

I delivered g at New York Presbyterian and had a great experience. My OB was excellent albeit he quit at my 7th month of pregnancy. My OB after that was the head of the department. He was thorough and competent but our personalities just didn't click. The hospital was massive and clean. They had a team of lactation consultants on site that ran classes on breastfeeding and childcare 2 or 3 times a day during the weekday. They also have a continuing education center for anyone with breastfeeding problems later on. The labor and delivery rooms were clean and big. The postpartum rooms were nice and had a shower in each room.

CONS - Since it is pretty popular practice, it is really hard to get an appt. When I did get an appointment, I am usually waiting for at least 20 minutes before I am even seen by the doctor. The location was also at the other end of the universe for me. At the time, I worked in midtown west. The hospital is located at eastern most end of Manhattan uptown. It took me about 20 minute to get there, calculating the office wait time of 20 minutes, the actual visit, etc. Every doctor visit entailed me taking half the day off.

So this time around, I thought practicality should rule the day. I now work downtown and would have to travel close to an hour if I were to go to the Upper East side. It didn't make much sense especially in the latter part of the pregnancy when I would have to visit the doctor weekly. I chose New York Downtown Hospital.

here goes...
The doctor - Not that I ever thought that my old doctor would be awake all night thinking about me, but my current doctor seem to really only care about getting me out of there asap. She does the bare minimum of care and gets me out of there. To this day, she has not decided when my actual due date will be. (I have decided it'll be 11/25 which is one of the dates that are in contention)

I have had a grand total of 2 ultrasounds since I got pregnant. With old doctor, I had one everytime I showed up.

The hospital - can I just say UGHHH!!! or YUCKS!!! That probably sums it up. I had a "hospital tour" and it lasted about 10 minutes. L&D rooms were ok until the nurse told me that sometimes when they are busy, they would "double-up". HUH?!!! Yes, they would wheel in another bed to have another woman labor beside me. I know non-moms would wonder...what's the big deal? Think of the worst (and most painful) constipation you will ever have in your life and having a share the bathroom with another person who is having the worst constipation of her life.

The rooms are dark and dingy. The whole wing looked dingy. It was a throwback to the 70s which is probably the last time anyone put a fresh layer of paint on this place. The rooms were also really small and there is one communal shower to be shared by all. GREAT!

(deep breath) I know this event is only a small part of my baby's life and will quickly be forgotten. For those who are considering a hospital in NYC, keep this post in mind.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nanny rant (part deux)

It's been 3 weeks since our nanny arrived. It hasn't been smooth sailing. I guess the quick update would be that there isn't much change. Last week, G's mom arrived for a "surprise" visit. When she arrived, of course, g gravitated towards her immediately but something was off according to her. G told me that his mom felt that g had no connection with her. She said that usually when g felt like dancing, she would round up all the people in the house at the time and do a round of "ring around the rosie". g did her little dance, dragging G's mom with her but didn't bother bringing the nanny in. When G's mom arrived, the nanny just started to busy herself with things to do around the house, cleaning, gardening, etc.

Routinely we have just found that the nanny really prefers housework over dealing with g which is sad since that is what she is really there for primarily. However I am trying a new approach this week. Since I have had such a negative perception of her approach to childcare, maybe she has felt this. Maybe g feels this. I have noticed that g is more whiney when she is around. I understand how annoying it could be to care for a child who whines all the time, so maybe it could be it. It's hard to figure out which came first (the attitude or the behavior.)

So for the week, I am going to try to suspend my negativity and try to find constructive ways for her to become more engage with g. We have worked out one thing already last night with regards to her feeding g when G & I are around. Hopefully, a little positivity is all that is needed.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What would you do?

ThefamilyC did a mall trip last Sunday to pick up some shoes for the winter. Of course, being the dolt that I am, I forgot to check out the fact that the mall does not open till 11:00 AM on a Sunday. Thankfully there was a small play area in the mall for kids that was nice and cushioned. It was also fairly abandoned since it was only 10:00 AM (no wonder there were no cars...hmm...that should have been a hint.)

g was playing around. First on the slide. She was really intimidated by all the bigger boys playing the area. Thankfully the 2 brothers on the slide made it a point to avoid where she was. And after some prodding, g was climbing up and sliding down by herself. After a bit of this, she decided to head for the turtle. It's a cushioned turtle status. It looks like something that the kids could ride on which is exactly what g did. Before that though, she called G over with her signature "C'm 'ere" (ie Come Here). So G sat beside her as she straddled the turtle's neck. Meanwhile more kids started to appear. It wasn't overrun yet, but there were probably around 10 kids now. Suddenly this Chinese kid (~4-5 years old) ran up to the turtle and pushed g down. I saw everything happen and was so shocked. I didn't expect him to push her off. I thought that maybe he was just going to climb up behind her. Both G and g were shocked. Thankfully G was there to catch her because she would have fallen to the ground (padded) if he hadn't.

To their credit, the parents of the boy immediately ran up to the boy and gave him a talking-to. But I was still stunned. What should I have done? g was hysterical. So we just decided to leave the play area since g obviously didn't want to be there anymore. Was there something that I should have done differently?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More random pictures from Vermont

g trying out the bed with G


g amidst wildflowers


g swatting flowers


How is this supposed to work?

Testing out her sea legs or in this case lake legs....our cruise on Lake Champlain

the first "sisters" portrait


The familyC visit Vermont last weekend for some much needed r&r. We stayed at the Basin Harbor club with the H family. g had fun playing with Y. I think though she still does not know what to make of him. g is definitely improving in her ability to deal with other kids. She shared her toy once or twice during the weekend although that progress could be nullified by the fact that she did also at one point pushed him away. Oh well, there will be no choice soon but to adjust to a new sibling, like it or not.

It was a very relaxed weekend. We went hiking and ended up in someone's backyard. That was kind of strange for residences to be setup so close to a state park trail. It was literally less than a few paces away from the trail that we were on. The owner was very gracious about it though. She very kindly asked us to get ourselves off her property. She even took the time to give us good directions. To top it off, she went to the resort management and told them that the map they provided their guest is horrible. So horrible that we were not the only ones that wandered onto her property that day.

We had dinner at a town called Middlebury and saw this....

Take heart though... the Real estate office is actually beside the Holy Cow store although from afar, it does look like the Holy Cow Real Estate doesn't it.

All in all, it was good fun. Relaxing but a long drive.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

She's no Mary Poppins

So she is no Mary Poppins but our nanny finally reported to work this Monday. We have tried to make her feel at home. Although I do understand how it feels to start work at a new place. there have already been a couple of odd things that we had started to notice and I am not sure what to make of it. It is too early to make a judgment yet, but I can't help it.

- She doesn't like to eat with us. I guess I should not find this surprising. Our maids back home never ate at the same table with us. She said that she finds this odd and would prefer to eat elsewhere. But where? Our "spacious" apartment does not really afford another location to eat. Last night (her 2nd night), she finally sat with us as we were finishing dinner.

- She doesn't seem to have a "way" with kids. Considering that she had taken care of kids in previous jobs and she has a daughter of her own, she doesn't seem to be very warm with g. I arrived home a little earlier than expected yesterday and she was busy with cleaning up my under-sink cabinet. Not that it's a bad thing that she is cleaning but g was just sitting beside her playing with recyclable paper. I just found it odd that she would prefer to be cleaning the inner-lining of my garbage can than playing with g. When the nanny saw me come in, she picked g up immediately. What's that about? I know that thus far g's caretakers have been her grandmom, G's aunt, G's aunt's sister, my mom, my aunt, daycare workers, etc. All of these women have some sort of personal connection to g, but most people at least react to g. G's mom was grooming g for mayor and have been having her say hello to just about everyone they see on the street during their walks.

Usually as part of g's sleep routine, we take her around to everyone at home (whoever happens to be there) and have her say good night to all of them. We did this when my aunt was here, when my niece was here, etc. Everyone would at least turn around to say goodnight. Most would even ask for a kiss or give her a peck on the cheek. The nanny was in the middle of prepping for dinner but she barely even turned her head. This was so obvious that even G noticed.

Monday, September 11, 2006


g trying to going against the tide.

We went to the Children's Museum of Manhattan a few weeks ago. The place was small but decent. They had a great Dora mezzanine exhibit, but not that much outside of that though. g liked the big Clifford slide but was distracted at best. We were about to be disappointed when we discovered as we were checking our stroller out of the coat check that there is a small area outdoors. g had a wonderful time here, doing water painting, riding against the tide and just getting wet in general. By the end of the half-hour, her pants were sufficiently drenched. Thankfully, a large plastic smock was provided that saved her shirt. However since it was made to fit all sizes, the smock would have been too large to fit. Fortunately I found a rubber band that cinched the smock to fit her.

g on the water wall

g getting her hands wet

g painting her own hand

After CMOM, we proceeded to Central Park for an impromptu picnic and just let g roam around.

This was a picture of g after the long day.

g in hat

Here's little g modelling a hat that Auntie K gave G after one of her travels.


Originally uploaded by tychuaco.
Here's a picture of g & G going round and round in Victorian Gardens. Victorian Gardens is a seasonal mini-amusement park in the middle of Central Park (in the Wollman Rink) for mini-manhattanites.

We had passed by the rink and saw the setup a while back when we were just walking through Central Park with some friends. We didn't think much of it because from our vantage point, it looked like a small block party carnival. But we got good information (thanks, K) that it was really fun and that we should try it out. The other turn-off was the price. It's not cheap ($7.50 admission for the weekend, $2 per ride or $14 for unlimited rides). We would have opted for an unlimited but the mood of a toddler (especially this toddler) has become very hard to predict. So we decided to go per ride.

We met up with K and her family. It turned out to be a lot of fun. g loved the rides. She was squealing at every ride and never turned away from any of them. Her favorite is the rockintub, which is a boat shaped ride that spins. I think she latched on to this ride because it was in front of where we were sitting during snack time. If left up to her, we would have spent $50 on rides. But we kept that down to a minimum and just let her roam around.

This past weekend was the last weekend for the season, but I am sure they will be back next year. I would definitely recommend for toddlers and preschoolers especially on a weekend when the exhausted parents would prefer not to do a long drive to Six Flags or Sesame place. I think we will go next year and get g the unlimited wristband and just collect her at the end of the afternoon. However by that time, she would also have to pay for admission.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Vitamin D supplements should be given to Asian kids for 2 years from birth

Saw this item in the news today and thought of sharing


Vitamin D supplements should be given to Asian children from birth up to the age of two years, to curb the re-emergence of vitamin D deficiency in the UK , say researchers.

This press release issued by Eurekalert says that they base their claims on an analysis of cases of vitamin D deficiency between 1994 and 2005, which is published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood .

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, poor tooth formation, convulsions, general ill health, and stunted growth. And it has been linked to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental health problems in later life.

Increased skin pigmentation makes it more difficult to synthesise the vitamin.

The analysis covers patients at one health trust in north west England , which used to provide vitamin D supplements.

During the period under study, they identified 14 cases of vitamin D deficiency, 12 of which were diagnosed between 2000 and 2005. Virtually all those affected were of Asian ethnicity, and none had received vitamin D supplements.

The figures showed that rates of vitamin D deficiency were around eight times as high among Asian children, with one in 117 affected, compared with one in 923 children, overall.

But in recent years, health authorities have deemed the cost of primary prevention a needless expense, given that the overall levels of vitamin D deficiency in the population are low, say the authors.

Vitamin D supplementation has declined nationwide, with only 4% of babies given the supplement in 2000, compared with 12% so treated in 1995.

This is despite recommendations from the government Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutritional Policy (COMA), which suggest that infants and young children should be given vitamin D supplements for at least the first two years of their lives, and more recent advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

But it costs more to treat the consequences of the deficiency than it does to prevent its occurrence, say the authors.

"We therefore suggest that supplementation with vitamin D of all babies of Asian origin for the first 2 years of life might be the economic answer to a growing problem," the authors conclude.

While people of Asian ethnicity are predominantly affected, there are cases of the deficiency among white populations, particularly among recent arrivals to the UK from Eastern Europe, they add.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nanny rant

Ok...she hasn't really started yet and already I am starting a rant. I was hoping that this would be the start of an easier time, but I think I am going to be mistaken. Some back story...

G's aunt has a friend (or someone who came from the same village in China) who has been babysitting for a couple in Jersey. We have always been told that getting a Chinese sitter to come out to "far away" jersey is difficult, but this was a rare one who didn't seem to mind the long commute. She is taking care of 4 kids and 2 adults. What???, you ask. 2 adults?!!! Yes, her duties extend to making meals for the adults whenever they came home. So if the adults came home at midnight, she would have to rise out of her bed and make them a meal. She also worked 6 days a week and worst than that, she doesn't really have a set quitting time at the end of those 6 days. One time she didn't get home till after midnight because the parents were delayed in returning home. We had heard about her more than 6 months ago and felt bad that she was in such a horrible situation. We had told G's aunt that if she had wanted to work for us, we would gladly welcome her. Since G's aunt and the woman came from the same village, that's practically family, right???

Fast forward to a month ago, G's aunt called G's mom and told her that her friend has had enough and wanted to quit. G's mom scheduled an interview over that weekend. We were going to drive into Brooklyn to see her also. At the last minute (actually midnight), she canceled via G's aunt saying that she had gotten home really late and had to get back that same day. Can we try to meet up next week? Again, we felt bad for her, having little more than 6 hours away from work before having to go back. So she rescheduled. G and I couldn't make it because we had already made plans for that weekend, so G's mom went to do an assessment. G's mom reported that she felt that the woman was competent and that she had already given notice to her employer last week. I found that kind of odd. She seemed fairly sure that she will get the job. No biggie. Nothing wrong with having confidence, right?

However some other little things started surfacing that have been giving me a really bad feeling. She insisted on weekly pricing though she is being paid monthly now. Again, she might have felt that she has been taken advantage of and is now trying to be more assertive. Not a big deal. G's mom negotiated rates for 1 kid for now and 2 kids in the future but she wanted to have the 2-kid rate starting immediately. (2nd kid is not scheduled to arrive till the end of November) Ok, so she wants to get a little signing bonus. Hmmmm....

2 weeks ago, intuitively I asked G what if her employer said that they couldn't get another slave .... I mean, nanny by the time she is supposed to start with us. G's mom talked to her about it and she assured us that since she has given her employer ample notice (~ one month) that they should be able to find someone else.

Fast forward to this morning...G's mom told us that the lady's employer has not bee able to get a replacement and she would have to start a week later. G's mom is going to take g for an extra week since we have already given notice at daycare. I am so ticked off by this.

If I were a new employee, I would make every effort not to annoy my new employer. If I were in her old employer's shoes, I would milk this for as long as I can. To be truly evil, I would even sabotage her chances with her new employer by keeping this up for another couple of weeks. There is no incentive for the old employer to find someone new. They have someone who almost works for pennies and seems really loyal to them.

G's mom said that the woman suggested that we could put g back into daycare for the meantime. What gives her the right to make recommendations like that? How does she know what our situation in daycare is like? We could have told off her daycare and can't take her back again. Daycare could be real sticklers and charge us a registration fee of $50 since we have technically given notice already. Who's paying that?

Side note: I was feeling really good about hiring a nanny this weekend especially when we brought g into daycare on Friday, happy and healthy. She came home that afternoon with the sniffles which progressed to sneezes which moved on to a runny nose that graduated onto coughing. Great, just GREAT!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sesame Place

The Family C took a trip to Sesame Place last weekend.

Here is father-and-daughter tubing...
g was slightly freaked out at first about the whole tubing experience.

But after a few minutes, she wanted to get into the water.

My personal review of Sesame Place:
One word: WEEKDAY!!! I thought that Sesame Place was a cool place to go, but the lines were crazy. For the more popular rides (Elmo's World and the Tube experience), the wait time was averaging about 45 minutes on line which is a long time for adults but unbearable for young kids.

A sample of the crazy line to go tubing.

Here's g, G and K finally getting to the end of the line.

The lines were getting me agitated. The food lines were even worst. Looking at the lines for food, you'd think they were giving the stuff away.

So my advice to all the mommies and daddies headed for Sesame:
Pack lunch for everybody. I packed food for g, but not for the adults.
Bring enough drinks. There are lines for that too.
I got g a wetsuit. I think this helps since there is a lot of soaking rides in Sesame. It prevented her from getting the chills from being wet and half-naked.
Need I say this again...WEEKDAY!!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

g & G

Originally uploaded by tychuaco.
g's the one eating the peach (this was her second one) and G looking on. g is making sure that her dad keeps away from her peach. We had a great day peach picking which was originally scheduled to be a group thing, but we were having so much fun at the playdate that we had decided to just stay and let the babies play.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The making of Daddy's little girl

g woke up this morning quite late. Possibly due to her early morning waking, she spent almost an hour chatting to herself while intermittently asking to get up. So by the time she woke, G had gone to work. I had a client meeting locally so I was dilly-dallying. g woke up calmly at 8:30 AM. I had gone to her while she was still doing her morning stretches, still mentally trying to prepare for a roaring day of running around, eating and napping. g stretched for a minute more and then she looked me square in the eye and said, "Daddy?" I responded that Daddy was not home anymore. She then said, "Daddy, home?" Well, no, "Daddy went to work already. Daddy will be home later." Then she looked at me again as she laid back and scratched her head, "Daddy, work." She repeated this a few times almost reassuring herself that she has figured out where her daddy was. After this, she was ready to face the day.

Now, I don't often leave before G but I have never recalled anyone telling me that she asked for me after I had left. When I pick g up from daycare or when I come home, she would smile, give me a hug. After a few minutes had passed and she hears the main door opened, she would inevitably ask if that was Daddy.


Side note: Funnier story without the "awwww" factor. g has taken to imitating G. It really would have been a video that would have made America's Funniest. G had just gotten home and had begun to animately tell me something that happenned during the day. Right beside him was g babbling while imitating his gesticulation. It was so funny. That was the first time I saw her do it.