Sunday, May 30, 2010

This year has been a good, good year. A LOT of change happened. I think that is probably the thing that marked my life the most: change. I experienced a lot of new things and got to do a lot of new things so it was pretty exciting. Of course, difficult at times, but I'm a sucker for suffering.

This year I was a working mom for the first time. Work has been very kind to me. I didn't go back to full time work, cutting back my week to four days instead of five, and working half in the office, and half at home. While working at home sounds nice, it actually brings MAJOR challenges, like, learning to design something while a one-year old is standing behind you in your chair with her arms wringing your neck. Proof reading is even tougher this way. My best days were when I would wake at 5:30 am to get some hours in before she woke up at 9, don't work at all while she was awake, and get the rest of the hours in when she was napping in the afternoon. However, 5:30 is really not natural for a Lim to be awake at, so this didn't happen too often although the intention is always there...

I went to my first work conference. We traveled to Chicago for the Willow Creek Arts Conference. That was mind-blowing. It really showed all the possibilities that can be accomplished "even though" we're a church. Sometimes I think that kind of thinking holds my creativity back; the thought that things have to be a certain way because that is what church is like, although perhaps I have never put it in so many words.

This year we bought a house. We know NOTHING about buying a house, or owning a house. Both my parents and my husband's parents are renters so we have absolutely no background knowledge. Thank the Lord for the internet and for knowledgeable, kind and generous friends who DO know about home ownership. Otherwise, we'd be up Crap Creek. I learned about mortgages, MLS, bidding, home inspections, lawyers, house closings, mortgage insurance, title insurance, home insurance, all that stinkin' paperwork, property taxes, utilities, moving in way too little time, renovations...and other stuff, I'm sure. Now, we own a house without having to move out of the city and in a great neighbourhood. I still often sit back and think about the fact that I am now a home owner and shake my head in disbelief.

My little sister got married. I got my first brother-in-law. It was the first time I was ever a maid/matron-of-honour. I threw my first wedding shower. That was one nice wedding!

This year I went to Chile for the first time. It was also the first time I had met any of my husband's family outside of his immediate. That was an incredibly memorable experience. It was awesome traveling with Ana and Joseph (my husband's sister and brother-in-law) and getting to know them better too. I was seven months pregnant then with no summer maternity clothes and somehow Ana would hook me up although she is tiny and has never been pregnant herself. She had clothes for every situation! I only wish that the trip were longer so that we could experience more of the city, but the most important thing was that I got to know Gonzalo's family there. Now, we have Facebook and they leave all these comments in Spanish which I have to get translated all the time. Can't wait to go back.

We bought our first new car in preparation needing a more reliable car for the new baby coming (at the time). Now we have a shiny black Matrix. Even with all the Toyota bad press, we love it.

And on March 25, being a mother for the second time. God blessed us with another baby. A baby boy this time. Honestly, I hoped that I would have another girl. Gonzalo only honestly told me yesterday that he also had hoped for a girl also. I know that my reason for wanting another girl is because I know NOTHING about raising a boy. I am girl and have two sisters and have a daughter... My PARENTS can't even give me advice about raising a boy! Nothing about peeing-in-the-face prevention. About whether to circumcise, or not to circumcise. Why boys are stinkier than girls. I guess it's that I know what it is to have a girl and I love Sofia so I wanted to have that all over again. BUT NOW, I AM (well, WE are) SO HAPPY THAT WE HAVE A BOY. It's weird...like, gender would even make a difference. I know that if I had a girl, I'd be so happy. I have boy, and I AM so happy. It's really got nothing to do about gender, but the fact that I have a healthy, (mostly) happy baby in my arms. What more could I ask for?

It has been a full, full year overflowing with God's blessings. Looking forward to this year, I can only be sure that it might actually be crazier (children have a habit of turning your life upside down). A thank you to everyone who surrounds me and my family with such love and friendship -- I am grateful for what you bring to my life. Can't wait to see what 31 brings.

Brown to black?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

With all of this being outside-ness, Sofia is really getting a mighty fine tan. Yes, I am jealous. Today, I exclaim to her, rhetorically...

[ME] Sofia, you are so dark! What colour are you going to be at the end of the summer?!

...well, I guess...

Life with Two Children

Since this early heat wave hit, I have pulled out the kiddie pool that I bought for Sofia about a month ago. I'd like to think that this will get her ready for big pool time. I fill it up in the morning with the hose from the garden and so that by after lunch, it's not super freezing. This, however, also builds ridiculous anticipation for a two year old. Yesterday, Sofia had finished her lunch and got ready to play in the pool before her afternoon nap. My mother had to leave for work, so here I am with Joaquín in the sling and Sofia headed for the pool. I was hoping that Joaquín would fall asleep BEFORE I put Sofia in the pool, but no such luck. But, I didn't want Sofia to have to wait any longer because I wanted her to have as much time in the pool as possible before she had to nap. I had to stand away from the pool, closer to the house, to stay in the shade so that Joaquín wasn't in the sun -- and this caused a major problem. See, Sofia HATES bugs. She is PETRIFIED of bugs. I hate bugs also, but this is just insane. Of course, in the pool, there WILL be bugs that will fall in. But the bugs that fell in yesterday, I could hardly even see them. I think all she had were fruit flies. I agreed to scoop them out a few times, but it was getting stupid. She was so fixated on the bugs that COULD land in her pool that she wasn't even enjoying the pool anymore. So I told her, either cope with the bugs or get out and take a nap. No go with the bugs, but she refused to get out. This resulted in a screaming Sofia. Out in the open air. Crying and screaming at the top of her lungs (and she comes from a long line of strong, large lungs). I was positive that CAS was going to show up at my door. This went back and forth for a little bit: me telling Sofia to get inside NOW, and Sofia yelling NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Joaquín finally fell asleep so I quickly go inside and I put him down (Sofia is still standing in the pool CRYING and SCREAMING). As I come back outside, Sofia stops crying and starts GAGGING, and THROWS UP IN THE POOL. Which, then, results in EVEN LOUDER CRYING. This is quickly spiralling out of control. I run outside and pick Sofia up, demanding that she stop crying lest she throw up more, but she's kicking and screaming and sobbing and heaving. I run upstairs and put her down in the tub, where she throws up two more times. I tell her calmly, slow down. She actually listens to me and follows me as I demonstrate how to take deep breaths (which sounds completely stupid that I am doing this but she was really crying out of control now). I change her out of her bathing suit and clean her up. I sit her down and explain to her that she can't cry like that and that bugs are really not going to hurt her (although I hardly believe that). I lay her down in bed and tell her I am going to go clean out her pool and she can go "swimming" when she wakes up.

I go back downstairs (Joaquín is miraculously still sleeping even after all that), and first try and just only scoop out the barf but this is impossible. I throw out all the water -- using a plastic container and flinging it all over the garden (I might as well try to water the garden instead of making a muddy puddle) and turn the hose on to fill the pool back up again. I go back inside and Joaquín is now crying hard so I pick him and finally settle him down and get him to sleep too. I go upstairs to his room, and put him down in the crib, and thankfully he stays asleep. I go and check on Sofia and she is sleeping too.

I go downstairs, plop myself on the couch and think of all the chocolate bars I could eat.

That was an INSANE half hour. But then it was all over. And I was proud of myself that I didn't totally lose my cool. I was definitely frustrated, but I didn't totally flip and freak out. Maybe I am growing as a parent! Hopefully...

Joaquín: Two Months

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

51a - 2010 05 14 tummy time

Joaquín turned two months old today. I find myself comparing Joaquín at this stage to where Sofia was at unintentionally. I keep trying to think if Sofia was this heavy, or if Sofia was awake yet, etc. But really, I don't really remember. I just can't help it.

It has been a challenging couple of weeks with Joaquín. He has been more awake during the day, and I just figured that it was a developmental thing: they can't sleep for the rest of their lives. But he wasn't happy. He was quite cranky. He'd fall asleep and only to wake up ten minutes later. He would be pretty okay if you carried him, but if you put him down, he'd cry. I guessed that he was just a big suck. On his way to being a Mama's boy.

Night times have been bad too. I started noticing that every night at around 9, no matter if he was awake or sleeping, he'd start crying and be hard to console. I'd be able to get to sleep after some serious work, and be finally relieved that he was sleeping, but just like the daytime: I'd put him down only for him to wake again. He settle down if I had him in the babysling, but he would never really sleep until it was well past 10 o'clock. And at this point, I had been carrying him for two hours. This was particularly frustrating because 1, he is so heavy. He must be well past 12 pounds now, and 2, Sofia really wants to be with me at night. She doesn't settle down well if I don't tuck her in and do the nighttime routine with her, which I do want to do... It's just hard when two kids need me simultaneously.

I accepted the fact that I had a mildly colicky baby on my hands. I say, "mildly" because I personally know mothers who have had to deal with "real" colicky babies that cry every night for four to six hours, for four to six months. They admit they have feelings of wanting to throw the baby out of the window. It is extremely trying. I can't even imagine the stress and sadness that would bring...my "mildly" colicky baby is stressful enough. But the end of the evening, I was beat and knew that I had to wake again in a few hours to feed him.

However, I don't give up easily, so I kept in the back of my mind, perhaps there is something that I am eating that is really bothering him. Although most sites say that mothers can eat whatever and whenever they want and that there is no real evidence that anything transfers through to the breast milk, and that if a mother notices that there is a food that causes fussiness then just avoid it. I couldn't think of anything... I was staying away from broccoli, spicy foods (BOO), eggs, and even celery. I couldn't think of anything else. That is, until I was searching the internet to see if any sites had mentioned that celery is a common culprit. I found on kellymom.com that a small amount of babies are actually very sensitive to what is in their mother's diet and the most common culprit is cow's milk. MILK?! I was convinced that this was it. I did notice that early on, when Joaquín was about two weeks old that whenever I didn't have milk that he'd be a lot better in the evenings. But that phase passed and he was great for a few weeks. But since the difficult days and nights have started, I am positive that I have been having ice cream for dessert every night, and who knows how many different foods I have been eating during the day with milk in it.

So on Sunday I watched EVERYTHING I ate and made sure that there was no milk in it. On Monday, Joaquín was the dream-child that Sofia was. Back to sleeping all day and at night, fell asleep and STAYED asleep. Poor thing. I felt so bad that what I was eating was bugging him, but then again, it's not like I knew what was going on. Today was pretty okay - I ate some pasta salad that I think maybe had some parmesan on it, and he was not happy in the afternoon. But I was successful in avoiding milk for the rest of the day, and although he was tough in the early evening, I gave him a dose of gripe water and he fell asleep tonight at around 8:30 and has stayed sleep since. Funny, kellymom.com says that I may not notice improvement immediately. Thankfully this is not the case.

I am so relieved that it is now figured out. I will have to avoid it for the next few weeks and try again then to see if his sensitivity is still there. I am obviously happy for myself, that I have my evenings back – but I am especially happy that my baby is no longer in any pain.

Aside from that, what Joaquín is up to:
  • He is doing awesome at tummytime. I'm sure you've seen a baby's head flopping around because they have absolutely no control. The purpose of tummy time is help develop and strengthen a baby's neck muscles. Sofia couldn't lift her head up even an inch when I started working with her at around this same time. Joaquín has had no problem. The photo above is the second time I have ever put him on his tummy.

  • Joaquín is following my face when I move side to side.
  • He is so ticklish. But the laughing isn't there yet.

  • He is SO stinky! Is this a boy thing? After a bath, the wonderful baby smell only lasts until the end of the day.

  • He can sleep anywhere between 5 hours to 7 hours straight a night. The stretch is slowly growing.

Over these past few weeks, it has been brought into sharp focus how fortunate I am that I have so much help and support around me. I have my husband obviously, but I also have my father and my mother since we live altogether. My father regularly takes care of dinner. My mother helps me in anyway she can -- particularly with entertaining Sofia so I can concentrate on Joaquín when he needs me. I really don't know how every other mother does it since I know that I don't have the typical arrangement. I am REALLY grateful for them.

Oh, let me sleep tonight!

Monday, May 17, 2010

48 - 2010 05 11 napping by window

We moved Joaquín into the nursery!
It's funny, doing this the second time around. I vividly remember the guilty feeling I had moving Sofia into the nursery. I really didn't want to, but I had read that babies start forming sleeping habits at six weeks, and I KNEW that I didn't want a 12 year old still sharing my bed. Especially if I want to have at least three kids. So, off to the nursery Sofia went. With Joaquín, I was basically begging Gonzalo to re-set up the crib. Honey! PLEASE GET THIS KID OUT OF HERE.

But seriously, I need this kid to sleep through the night more than I needed Sofia to. A crappy night sleep really makes dealing with two kids really difficult emotionally. (And all my friends with four children are laughing at me right now...) I really want to be a kind mother, but it's funny how a poor rest the night before really makes that nearly impossible. Today I was playing with PlayDoh with Sofia, and I put my head down on the diningroom table and Sofia asked, "What happened?" I said, "Mommy has a headache." Sofia, "Sorry Mommy...it's my fault." I hope she doesn't actually know what she is saying 'cause I really hope that I don't make her feel like that.

So, last night was the first night we put Joaquín in the nursery and I anticipated a terrible night ahead. While in the bassinet that we keep right beside me, it's easy when he wakes to pop the pacifier back in and back to sleep he goes. The nursery is a whole 'nother room. I have to GET UP and WALK there and fumble in the dark to figure out what the heck I am doing. 4 am came and he kept waking. As soon as the pacifier falls out, he wakes up again. Then, I remembered what Gabbie said about her baby - SWADDLE HIM. I swaddled Sofia all the time because the apartment we were living in at the time was quite cold and she was a December baby. So, I swaddled her for temperature's sake. But swaddling is also for helping them feel stable. If you ever lay a newborn down on a flat surface watch their arms and legs flail out as if they're looking for their balance. They lose their equilibrium quite easily. I forgot about that. After getting up about six times, I finally swaddle him and he sleeps until 8 am. AWE. SOME.

We'll see how he does tonight. I fed him at 8:30 and put him to sleep right after...SWADDLED. And it's 12:11 am and he's still sleeping. I can't tell you how nice it is to get my night back. I have had to keep him in a babysling until 11 every night for the last three or so weeks to keep him from crying and somewhat sleeping. For some reason when it's 11 or so, he is able to settle down and just sleep, but not before that. Also, he normally has a three-hour feeding pattern - that is, until one feed that is around 8:30 that needs to happen regardless of when he was fed before that. After this feed is when he feeds whenever. I am still not sure what time that middle-of-the-night feed is. But it's somewhere around 5 hours he goes down for night-time sleep.

Babies are a big fat puzzle. They're fun. That is, if you have had a good night's sleep.

Time for a routine

Monday, May 10, 2010

Joaquín is now a month and a half exactly. It has been a good month and a half. He is sleeping a little bit longer at night - five hour stretches regularly. He is gaining waaaaay too fast. He is outpacing the strengthening of my arms. Sofia gained at a good rate where my arms would get stronger at the same pace. But with Joaquín, after five minutes, I've gotta either pass him off, or put him down. He really is just that heavy. What a beast.

I am now less tired since I am getting to sleep a little bit longer at night, and the big thing: Joaquín is passed that gassy phase. For parents, we all know that our babies go through this period that you just dread - night time gassiness. Imagine, in the middle of the night, after a feeding, your baby cannot stop crying because they are so bloated. Their little tummies huge with air. You have to pat, pat, pat their backs, and massage their tummies, work their legs...all in hope that you can get them to pass that gas so your baby can sleep, and therefore SO CAN YOU. This is the single thing that determines whether or not I am completely exhausted the next day. He still has a little bit of evening fussiness, but it's easily solved by carrying him in a sling - although for the ENTIRE evening!

And so...now that I am now not falling asleep every time I sit down, I am looking to be productive. I would hate for my maternity leave to just disappear without accomplishing something. For me, what I hope for the most would be to either 1) acquire a new positive habit, or 2) learn something new.

A great new habit would be simply to exercise. Even at least 20 minutes a day. All through my pregnancy with Joaquín I said that if I would hope to have a third kid, I'd better do some strength training. Because I didn't do any after I gave birth to Sofia, I really feel that is why I felt so achy with Joaquín so much earlier in my pregnancy. With Sofia, I never reached that I-am-so-done-being-pregnant feeling due to the fact that I was at the gym four times a week, running at least 20 minutes and then lots of ab work. And now, that was a long, long time ago. Sure, it would be nice to look great, but I care more about feeling strong and healthy while my children are growing up. I anticipate that it would really help my patience level go up if I'm not grumpy from feeling like total crap all of the time.

The new thing that I am learning is making bread. The thing that made me think of this is that my family grows through A LOT of bread. I bought a house with my parents last year and so there are four adults and a pre-schooler that consumes bread daily. My mother, I swear, is a addicted to bread. She may eat four to six slices a day. (And no, she is no where near overweight.) So, my mother alone probably eats a third of a loaf on her own. What scares me about the bread that is readily available to us is all of the added ingredients that is in it to keep it pretty on the shelf. Have you ever left Wonderbread on your counter for weeks? The only thing that happens to it is that it gets a little dry, otherwise, it appears unchanged. I used to buy bread with no preservatives - it is moldy in three days. WHAT THE HECK IS IN WONDERBREAD (and other commercially prepared bread)?! With these two reasons, I decided it may be worthwhile to get a bread machine, since it would be completely unrealistic to hope that we could hand make our bread on a regular basis. If you have ever made bread you will know how impossibly long it takes. Gonzalo made bread once, and it took four hours of on and off supervision. It's ridiculous. I mean, it's nice once and a while, but again, not realistic for daily consumption.

I did some research into some bread machines and got some prices, but had no idea what was a good brand, what features would I want in one, etc., and it seemed that a middle of the road one would cost around $100. (There's a fancy Japanese one that costs over $300!) I posted my intentions of acquiring said machine on Facebook and asked for a suggestion for a brandname. My high school friend, Dahila, replied with an offer to purchase hers for $20! Wicked. (And we scored an awesome mini-reunion at the same time). So far I have made bread once since I picked it up last week and it's really easy despite all the warnings in the 20-page instruction manual that says if you don't follow the recipes to an exact "T" your bread will be a flop. I substituted the heck out of the recipe that was in the manual since I was so excited to use it and didn't check to see if I had everything. Typical Kathy move. I even screwed it up to the point where I followed the one-pound bread recipe that they had in the manual, only to find out that there was only a 1.5-pound and 2-pound setting on the machine. Show me the logic in that! Instead of throwing out all of the ingredients I just decided, WHAT THE HECK, and just trying it anyway. And three and half hours later...VOILA! BREAD! And it was delicious. Annnd gone in two hours.

One other project I am going to work on next is propagating my hydrangea plants that we have in our backyard. I hope to plant a bush in my front yard. We'll see how this goes.

Oh! Joaquín is awake and is hungry. Gotta go! Hope to be posting a little more regularly in the future.