Tuesday, August 23, 2011

... and she's gone

Well, Kathy has now left us. And I've gotta say... sisters are special.
I wish she would just come live with us.

Her time here with us flew by, and all 4 of us miss her dreadfully (Sookie loved her).

We didn't do a whole lot, since it was raining -- that coupled with the fact of having a tiny (but very cantankerous) baby kind of limits the possibilities.

Kathy went on lots of hikes in the hills behind us, which Sookie loved. We also went to the beach one day (not for long... Mr. Grumpy Pants demanded to be brought home).
We did go out for lunch with my friend Theresa, which was so great. We even went and got coffees after! I felt guilty...like I was playing hooky.

Kathy was so good with Elijah too!
Every morning, she'd come in and get him after he woke up, and let me sleep for a bit longer!

Having her here to help with the baby, and to pamper me, was just so wonderful.She washed dishes and gave me back rubs, not to mention the endless games of peek-a-boo and patty-cake for Elijah, and proper conversation for Gary (my train of thought doesn't stray far from 'BABY').

*sigh* I miss my sister terribly.

But we have more visitors coming!

Gary's parents are coming from Spain next month, and my brother and his beautiful wife are coming in November! It's going to be great.

I love family! Living so far from them all makes me appreciate time spent with them so much more.

If you're in the mood for a super cute baby playing peek-a-boo (and actually saying "Boo!") with his Auntie:

not so E.A.S.Y.

One big change around here is that we're started Elijah on a schedule. I feel like I'm eating my words in a way -- because we're trying to get him on a routine that we have dictated, rather than follow him. He's 16 weeks now, and his sleep/eat routine is just too erratic. He keeps taking cat naps of 45min rather than 1.5 - 2 hour naps, and he is a terrible snacker (much like his mummy). I've been halfheartedly
following the routine part of E.A.S.Y., which stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (time for me!). I can do that part, but we decided to add in some time constraints, since we can never plan to do anything because of E's arbitrary naps.

Last Monday we (well, me really, since Gary is back at work now - summer's over) started the schedule. Starts at 8am, with naps at 10 and 2, and a cat-nap at 6 -- and following the eat, activity, sleep routine. Bedtime is at 8pm.
Doesn't seem hard, does it.

Oh, but it is.

It's very hard.

Like trying to navigate a crowded subway with multiple line changes while lugging 2 huge suitcases, a carry on bag, and your purse. And the subway stations don't have elevators - just stairs. Flights and flights of stairs, and long hallways.

[I have actually done that - Quite possibly it's worse than water torture.]

Anyway, since we have a mighty sleep fighter, trying to get him to nap has always been a task of Herculean proportions. We have been able to coerce him to sleep by bouncing with him on an exercise ball, but that has created a monstrous problem... he can only fall asleep this way. I see pictures of infants asleep in all kinds of poses and places. Not this lad. He can be exhausted, yawning, droopy eyes... but he will not sleep unless he's swaddled and being bounced.

Part of the E.A.S.Y. method is the "pick-up/put-down" method, in which you put the baby down, but pick him up when he cries -- soothe him, then put him back down. Repeat until asleep.

The problem is, he screams bloody murder when we put him down. The neighbors probably think we pinch the baby just to make him cry, or worse, since we are weird foreigners.
Anyway, Elijah gets so worked up that it takes forever to console him. Poor wee lad. Then when he DOES fall asleep, he only stays asleep for 30-45 minutes. Whereby I am supposed to do the pick-up/put-down thing with him until he falls asleep again, or nap time is over, whichever comes first.

The whole week has been awful. He does his short nap, then I spend the next 50-60 minutes trying to get him back to sleep. It is like running a marathon. Not like I know what that's like, but I feel like that's an appropriate comparison. I'm beyond exhausted, and probably being quite catty to Gary.

It seems like this method just isn't working for us. In the book "The Baby Whisperer", this sleep training is only supposed to take 3 days. This is day 6. On Thursday, I gave up following the time line so strictly, instead giving a leeway of 30 minutes on either side of the hour. I've read that this is NOT how to do it, but you know what? It appears to work for us.
Yesterday was not bad though, so maybe we're getting somewhere? He even went to sleep after I put him down awake! Granted, it was only once, and he was pretty drowsy, but it happened! I can't even tell you how proud I felt watching his little eyes close.

However, we've got so far to go. I would love to hear your experiences and your advice on napping and sleeping.

So, to all parents out there.... HELP!!

(random pictures of week 16 for your viewing pleasure)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sister time and the advent of cloth diapers

I am LOVING this.

My sister is visiting from Boston, and it's amazing. She is so good with Elijah, and he seems smitten by her too.

Kathy has been getting me out of the house too.
Her first day here, we went to HomePlus - only the 2nd time I've been grocery shopping since Elijah was born 3 months ago.

Yeah, yeah... I know. I'm a bit house-bound.

Elijah is pretty touchy and he gets grumpy quickly. I can't really take him out without fear of meltdowns.

Kathy and I went out for a LONG and very intense hike up the hills behind our apartments. We went all the way to the top where there's a pagoda, and you can see all the way to the sea.
It's really lovely up there - cool breezes and the wonderful smell of woods and wet pine needles.
We also did yoga yesterday morning. There's nothing like a sister to spur you on!
She is so caring and loving...back rubs, head massages, facials, encouragement, and reassurance. I don't want her to go!

Kathy also brought me an Ergo baby carrier, which is much cooler than the
heavy Sleepy Wrap I've been using. Elijah seemed to like it as well, and we went for a nice walk to the corner store. He managed to make it almost all the way home before breaking down.
She also brought so many new clothes and books (and cute cloth diapers)! Elijah is already in 6-9 month onesies (babygro), so he needed some new outfits!
[side note]
The cloth diapers are a big
step, but we're trying to switch over.
At the moment, he is in disposables
overnight and in the morning, until he poos. In the afternoon, he gets to wear the cute, modern cloth diapers. No plastic/rubber pants and complicated folding/pinning for us! These have snaps or Velcro, and are in nice colors or prints.
At the moment, we're mostly using bumGenius and Flip cloth diapers. I've staying away from the traditional flat diapers. I just don't think I'm ready for that!
[end side note]

I'm hoping that Kathy won't get too bored here!
We don't go out much. There isn't a lot to do in our small town, besides hike in the hills.
We could go to Daecheon Beach, but since it's summer, it's not only super hot, but the beach is full of university students and crazy stuff (it's not a typical western beach). . .crazy stuff like mad women on ATVs plowing down the boardwalk and almost running over our dog, tiny airplanes that fly 10 feet above your head on the shoreline, big groups of military guys having team-building
exercises, masses of students playing and drinking, horses running at full gallop down the crowded beach... it's all a bit mad! Entertaining, indeed. But with a tiny baby, not the best place to be.

We'll have to feed her some Korean food though, like bibimbap and mandu. She's already tried kimbap, and liked it. Kimchi is also on the list, of course.

Thanks for being here, sis! We love you!

Monday, August 8, 2011

100 days

Today is Elijah's 100th day celebration!

Here in Korea (as well as in China), 100 days is an important milestone for babies. Traditionally, there was a high infant mortality rate, and surviving 100 days was a big deal. During the first 100 days, mother and baby stayed indoors and no visitors were allowed. The babies were often unnamed until this day. For Baby's 100 Day Celebration, rice cakes were given out, and spirits thanked.

(Rice cake: 'Congratulations 100 Days')

There aren't any 'rules' for this celebration, but parents still give out rice cakes - 100 of them for the best luck.

From what I gather, it's a popular time for a photo shoot, and the time to shave baby's sweet, soft locks. Which is kind of sad, really... who would want to nuzzle a stubbly-headed infant? Razor burn!

Another reason why the 100th day is important is because it marks the 365th day of life!
From actual conception to birth is about 265 days, plus the first 100 = 1 year!

So happy 365th day of being alive, my son, and thank you for being in our arms for 100 days!

*info on Korean culture from Hyon Ju Park Lee's Korean culture blog and ddok picture from Gyopo Wife's blog.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Latest obsessions

What am I obsessed with?


Well, sleep for starters. Both for Elijah and for me. But I am also obsessed with how often Elijah eats. And poops.

My life has come to subsist on the excretions, imbibations (that's a word now), and plain old sleep patterns of my little son.
I track all those things on a website, noting down each time he pees or dozes off.

One of my favorite features on the site is the sleep patterns chart. They compile the data, and it reveals the probability of Elijah being asleep. Check it out:

The gray scale shows the probability (dark-most, light-least) of him being asleep. I like how the possibility of Elijah being asleep from around 9-7 is pretty solid.
Another feature I like is the one showing his average sleep/awake hours. Right now, he is averaging 7hours and 44mins awake and 16hours and 15mins asleep.

So anyway, today has been hard. Elijah didn't sleep well last night, and was up early. He napped poorly, and he just now passed out after a marathon screaming fit.So fun.
I tried everything to calm him, from bouncing, skin-to-skin, swaddling, shushing (from Happiest Baby on the Block). It still took 45min for him to finally succumb to sleep. But he will be up again. He hasn't eaten enough.

Well, this is an exciting post!

(Elijah at 2 weeks in the Sleepy Wrap)

I have been talking walks with Elijah these days. I strap him on in my Sleepy Wrap and we stroll around the apartment complex.

He seems to enjoy it most days, although it is so hot that it soon gets uncomfortable for us both.

(Elijah at 13 weeks)

We don't do a whole lot more. The day consists of him waking up, feeding, diaper, playing, then bouncing back to sleep. I then get an hour, tops, to myself.

He does get a bath before bed, and a walk in the afternoon. Otherwise, our lives are pretty simple.

I do wish we had a community here in town for moms and babies. It gets pretty lonely.

Well, in other news, Gary has signed his contract for another year at the high school. This marks the start of our 5th year in Korea. Wow. Time really flies. And how embarrassing that we still don't know Korean!
We've gotten our visas and Alien Residency cards updated (love how I'm an 'alien'), and re-signed the lease on our apartment.

God knows whether we'll stay longer than another year, or where we'll go next. We'd love to buy our own house.... where? No idea. If you have suggestions, please let me know!