Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baby Survival Swimming

My sister-in-law told me about this survival swimming class week while we were in Mexico, and I couldn't believe that a 1 year old could learn to float.  But here is the evidence.  Babies Henry's age can be taught how to float in an emergency situation.  I don't think I'll be signing him up for a class like this, as I find it a little like Chinese water torture for infants.  But it is pretty amazing!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Too Much Vacation

A week long vacation has taken its toll on Henry, and he had his first really horrible temper tantrum today. You probably think he’s upset because he’s not wearing pants.
You’re wrong. He’s upset because I didn’t allow him to eat pretzels for breakfast.
This morning, Henry awoke in his crib for the first time in a week. He was happy as usual. As I put together his waffle and milk breakfast, he discovered a bag of pretzels in my airplane carry on bag. I took the bag away (what toddler eats pretzels for breakfast), and he proceeded to scream, wail and flail for the next 20 minutes.  I tried giving him his waffles, which worked for a second until he remembered why he was upset.  Then I tried sitting at the table with him and looking away. Didn’t work.   Then I tried giving him oranges.   Didn’t work. Next I took him out of his high chair and attempted distracting him with toys.  No dice.  Finally, I put him back in his chair, turned my back to him and read a magazine.  Worked like a charm.   He stopped crying and ate his breakfast.

Scoreboard: Momma 1. Henry 0.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oooh Mexico.

Oh Mexico.  It sounds so simple I just got to go.
Moon's so bright like to light up the night.
Make everything all right.
- James Taylor

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Watch Out For Giardiasis This Spring!

Image from


This beautiful spring weather has everyone in a great mood.  Yesterday, I was so excited to take Henry to the park.  I brought a blanket and a bunch of toys.  I planned to put him in the swing, let him play on the slides and then play by the dog run.

My plans were thwarted when Henry refused to sit in the swing.  All he wanted to do was crawl around in the grass.  Normally I'd be thrilled to let him romp around in the dirt, but there is dog poo everywhere.  Chicago dogs rule the parks, and it is painfully evident when the snow melts and months of frozen poo resurface and defrost.  I would be less paranoid if Henry was walking.  Plus he's a thumb sucker.  I found myself wiping his hands every 5 seconds.  I was so frustrated that I couldn't let him play with sticks, etc.  I am very much looking forward to having my own dog-poo-free yard.  

If you think I'm a freak, check out the articles below on how people get sick from feces.  I'm not saying parks are bad, I love parks.  But for a crawling toddler who puts everything in his mouth, it makes me very uncomfortable.  Our park does have a recycled tire floor under the playset and swings, however, it's terrible for crawlers as it burns their knees and wears down their clothes.  So obviously, next time we take a trip to the park, Henry will wear crappy clothes with knee pads.  Yay for fun!

I'm really not an alarmist.  Really.

Here is some info from the CDC website:

What is giardiasis?

Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by a microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis). Once a person or animal has been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time (i.e., months).
During the past 2 decades, Giardia infection has become recognized as a common cause of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. Giardia can be found worldwide and within every region of the United States.

How do you get giardiasis and how is it spread?
The Giardia parasite lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals (e.g., cats, dogs, cattle, deer, and beavers). Millions of germs can be released in a bowel movement of an infected human or animal. Giardia is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals. You can become infected after accidentally swallowing the parasite; you cannot become infected through contact with blood. Giardia can be spread by:
  • Accidentally swallowing Giardia picked up from surfaces (such as bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails, or toys) contaminated with feces from an infected person or animal.
  • Drinking water or using ice made from contaminated sources (e.g., lakes, streams, shallow [less than 50 feet] or poorly monitored or maintained wells).
  • Swallowing recreational water contaminated with Giardia. Recreational water includes water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs or spas, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams that can be contaminated with feces or sewage from humans or animals.
  • Eating uncooked food contaminated with Giardia.
  • Having contact with someone who is ill with giardiasis.
  • Traveling to countries where giardiasis is common and being exposed to the parasite as described in the bullets above.
What are the symptoms of giardiasis?

Giardia infection can cause a variety of intestinal signs or symptoms, which include
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Greasy stools that tend to float
  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • Upset stomach or nausea
These symptoms may lead to weight loss and dehydration. Some people with Giardia infection have no symptoms at all.

Giardiasis is highly contagious.

See also:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Census/Go see Formosa Betrayed!

We filled out our first census form last night!  And yes, I wrote in Taiwanese for Henry and for me.  Chris has declared that the government now considers him a racial minority in our household.  He never ceases to crack me up.

Speaking of being Taiwanese, we're going to see the film Formosa Betrayed this weekend.  FB is a political thriller based on true events.  For the first time, Taiwan's history of oppression is being depicted on an international stage.  The film has received multiple awards including Best Feature Film and Best Actor at the 2009 San Diego Film Festival and Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Philadelphia Asian American Festival.  It is showing in Chicago this weekend only at AMC Piper's Alley in Old Town, AMC Old Orchard in the north suburbs, AMC Schaumburg, and Cinemark in Woodridge.  It's a pretty controversial film, despite James Van Der Beek's starring role.  The film is making its rounds in different cities on a limited basis, so if it's playing in your city, you should see it!  My mom did - see below.  As requested by our friend who won't be able to see it, I'll let you know if Joey ends up with Pacey or Dawson.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Favorite Game

One of Henry’s new favorite games is to play in his crib.  Some people, including me up until now, think that playing in the crib will lead him to confuse a sleep place with a play place.  But he hasn’t had any trouble sleeping since he started playing in his crib.  Considering we have a two bedroom apartment, we have to be creative about how we play and where.   

Henry throws Raton out of his crib, says “Uh Oh” and then waits for me to throw it back at him.  Raton is a Capybara (a giant rat) stuffy that we bought in Japan before Henry was born.  He sleeps with Raton, Babo (Ugly Doll), Snuggly Gund bear from my childhood and a blanket bear from his Aunt E.  He loves all of his stuffies, and hugs them each everyday.  But the essential sleep item he demands is his sleep sack.  You’ll notice at the end of the video he is sucking his thumb and holding his sleep sack.  That is how he falls asleep every day and every night. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dropping the Morning Nap

Our pediatrician told me that children are generally ready to drop the morning nap around 15 months, but the age varies from child to child – as with most things.  My nephew went to 1 nap at 11 months, and I’ve heard of 2 year olds still taking 2 naps.  Henry is 14 1/2 months and in transition between 2 naps and 1 nap.  

Around Christmas last year I mentioned on BITW that 12-month-old Henry was transitioning to 1 nap without much drama.  I jinxed it.  For a week leading up to Christmas, his naps were inconsistent and he fought his afternoon naps.  Due to my school-nerd ways, I remembered reading that protesting the afternoon nap is a telltale sign that baby is ready to transition to 1 nap.  The first transition day we tried one nap, he awoke at 7:30, took 1 nap from 11-1:30, was generally pleasant all day and went to bed at 7:30.  Unfortunately, our easy-going happy baby disappeared after that.  For the next 2 months, Henry was cranky, whiny, clingy, had little appetite and was generally difficult.  I spent many hours on the toilet, lying awake in bed, driving the car, and staring blankly out the window thinking about why this was happening.   

After 2 months of inconsistent napping, I re-evaluated my decision to transition Henry to 1 nap.  I re-read the Weisbluth and Ferber books.  My reading comprehension is poor and I knew there was a good chance I was wrong about the “telltale signs.”  Upon re-reading the books I decided that Henry wasn’t ready to transition to 1 nap.  It was no coincidence that his chipper personality disappeared around the same time we changed his schedule.  I put him back on his old 2-nap schedule, and he magically returned to our happy go-lucky son.  I think that Henry’s inconsistent napping the week before Christmas was a result of having family in town, which meant he was off schedule and sleeping in places other than his own crib.  After the New Year he had a terrible cold for 2 weeks, which he passed to me – likely through one of his boogery slobbery kisses. 

The books talk about parent-led parenting and baby-led parenting, and I think most of us fall in the realm between these two extremes.  Before I sleep trained Henry, I charted his sleep patterns and then stuck firmly to the patterns he exhibited.  I generally don’t push him to do things before he is ready.  If we try something a few times and he’s clearly not interested or upset, I let it pass and return to it a few days or weeks later.  This philosophy may stem from the fact that we started solid foods on the early side (4 months), and I discovered his dairy allergy around 5 months (with the OK from the pediatrician).  I always wonder if he would’ve exhibited an allergy had I held off on dairy until 8 months (the book-recommended time).   

Everyone told me that the 1 nap transition is hard, and he would eventually get the hang of it.  They were right.  Henry’s schedule now entails taking 2 naps for 3 days and 1 nap the 4th day.  This schedule depends on what time he wakes in the mornings.  If he wakes before 7:30, he has 2 naps, but if he wakes after 7:30, he takes 1 nap.  We will probably stick to this schedule for another month or two before he’s truly ready to quit the morning nap. 

During the failed transition, per Dr. Weisbluth’s advice, I attempted to gradually push Henry’s morning nap later and later.  Through experimenting, I learned that Henry likes to take his one nap earlier than most kids (generally parents split the day evenly with a nap from around 12-2).

When Henry was a newborn I avoided experimentation and change with sleep schedules, feedings, etc.  But after a few experiments with varied schedules, foods, etc., I’ve learned that he’s going to be OK.  And a little short-term experimenting can have long-term benefits.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vacuum Walker

Despite the fact that he has a Firetruck to walk with, Henry prefers the vacuum cleaner. Hit the play to see him in action.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Muffin Tin Mondays"

My friend sent me a link to Muffin Tin Mom and I immediately had to implement Muffin Tin Mondays - after all it was Monday.  The meal was neither creative nor aesthetically pleasing, as all the other Muffin Tin Monday posts seem to be - but Henry loved the muffin holes.  He happily picked from each compartment: penne with homemade pasta sauce, salmon and cutie wedges.  As an aside, I love feeding him pasta with red sauce, because the red sauce I make is packed full of carrots, celery, onions and crushed tomatoes, which are GREAT for his poo.    

Monday, March 8, 2010

What to Order for Toddler at a Japanese Restaurant

Image from Mari's East West Kitchen, which has great recipes.

Part 2 of my posts on what toddlers can eat when you go out to ethnic restaurants.  

Henry loves Japanese food.  In my opinion it's perfect baby food:  light, subtle, and includes lots of great proteins and veggies.  Although many of the below items are things I can make at home for a much more affordable price, there are other items on the menu I like to order that I can't make at home.

Salmon (sake) Kama or Yellowtail (Hamachi) Kama are great dishes for toddlers.  Kama is the fish collar, and is very tender.  It's not a ton of meat, but plenty to fill up a little belly.  Although it's on the salty side, it's packed with healthy fats.  We pair Henry's salmon kama with white rice and broccoli.  If you want to make this at home, you can call your fishmonger and ask him/her to save the collar for you. Many places throw out the collar, so you might even get it for free!  Salt and broil for 10 minutes.

Miso soup:  Henry loves the tofu floating in the soup, and the broth is saltier than what he usually gets at home.  My sister mixes rice into the soup for added substance.

Teriyaki (chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon) is also a safe bet.  Henry loves the sweet sauce.  

Ramen Noodle Soup:  I cut up the noodles and he slurps them up.  He loves the fish cake that usually accompanies the soup.  And the soft braised pork is easy for him to chew.  I would pass on udon, it's a lot chewier than ramen.

Onigiri is also a great snack or meal.  It's a rice ball with something delicious in the middle:  salmon, seaweed, plum or other oishi (delicious) things.  Although it's not as nutritious as some other options, this is probably his favorite.  He loves rice like his Dadda.  

Gyoza:  preferably steamed or in a soup - so the skin isn't tough and you can avoid unnecessary oil.  Dumplings are easy to chew (ground meat) and include veggies and a noodle wrap.  

Shrimp Shiumai (cantonese influence, but often served at Japanese restaurants) are very soft and easy to chew.  Plus they are delicious!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Write in "Taiwanese" in the 2010 Census

You're probably not Taiwanese, so why should you read this post?  Watch the video.  It is awesome.  I don't know if I'm biased, because I'm Taiwanese, but my husband (who is of Irish, Scottish, German, and Norwegian descent) loved it too.  My favorite parts are the Taiwanese guy imitating Obama's voice, and the people speaking in Taiwanese about Ba Zang (sticky rice in banana leaf).  It's so true that we, Taiwanese people, are overlooked regularly as Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai (hence the Thai food joke in the video).  And now that our children are growing up experiencing similar oversight, it's about time we step up and demand to be counted!

Pass the video along to your Taiwanese friends and family - even if you're not Taiwanese.  :)  Do it for Henry!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Getting older ... But Still Not Walking ... Or is he?!!!??!!

I forgot that people actually read my blog and received dozens of emails and messages asking me where we are going.  The truth is we don't know where we are going!  We are going to try to sell our place first and continue casually looking at houses in the north suburbs.  No, I'm not pregnant, so you can stop wondering.  I  also retract my whining about 30 being old.  I got a lot of flack from other moms.  Tee hee.

You'll be happy to hear that this post is about Henry getting older.  He is 14 months now, and starting to look like a little boy.  Although he is a champion cruiser, and will stand for a second unassisted, he still won't walk unassisted.  I guess he'll just be a late walker.  I've read that kids who walk later pick it up quicker, so hopefully that will translate into fewer bumps and bruises.

Henry is, however, communicating with gusto and confidence.  He points at everything he wants and grunts.  He has a few words.  He hands me books he wants me to read to him.  He points at the balloon in "Good Night Moon" when asked "Where is the balloon?"  He lies on his back in the tub and kicks - I support him with my arm.  He smiles and poses for the camera.  Henry can also use a fork - sort of - and tries to put his own shoes on.  He's very interested in putting things into other things - stacking cups are his current favorite toy.  He also stacks blocks instead of just knocking them over.  Although our little boy is behind in walking, he seems to be A-OK in other departments.

I can't believe how much he changed over the 2 days I was in Austin.  His poops have even grown in size.

An of course, after writing this entry, Henry took his first 2 steps + 2 more steps unassisted.  My eyes welled up with tears of pride and joy.  :)  tee hee.  It's the little things that make my days special and meaningful.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My apologies for the radio silence yesterday.  As you can see from the above photo, I’ve been packing up all the garbage in our apartment – plus Chris, Henry and I spent the weekend apart in Austin, the Wisconsin Dells, and Evanston respectively. 

We’re braving the market and putting our condo up for sale.  We met with a listing agent last week, and he gave us the “pitch.”  We knew we would have to take a loss, but we were hoping for a better listing price recommendation.  At one point during the meeting I thought Chris was going to cry.  After a few days of consideration, and looking at our options to buy, we decided to go ahead with the sale.

Packing with a toddler crawling around is not exactly easy.  I would put something in a box, and Henry would take it out.  But generally speaking he was a doll.  He played quietly on the floor while I packed.  I kept reminding myself that if I was working, the entire process would be even more difficult.  At least I don’t have to take off of work to meet the movers today, etc.  I really respect mothers who can manage working and the responsibilities of keeping a home.  It is no small feat. 

The movers are coming today to put all of our crap in storage, and the photographer is coming on Friday to take pictures of our apartment and take measurements for a floor plan.  If all goes well, our condo will be on the market in a week or 2.  Things have progressed quickly considering we met with the listing agent last week.  I’m not sure we’re emotionally prepared to move, but we are big saps.

Wish us luck!