Archive for August, 2009

Productivity

It turns out that when you cut sleeping out of your daily routine you can get a lot more done during the day. Mark and I just had one of our most productive weekends in a long time, knocking a couple of big things off of our To Do list, and it happened to come after two brainmelting sleepless nights. Coincidence? Perhaps…perhaps…

Big Thing #1 — We hired a new helper.
Clarita left us at the end of July to get married back in the Philippines. Her replacement, Diane, has been with us since the beginning of July so there would be time for Clarita to train her and for her to get used to us.  Unfortunately things just aren’t working out with her. Primarily because she’s…well, she’s just not very smart. Mark and I have a long list of grievances against her but here are just some of the highlights:

  • Very bad listening skills.  As in, we’ll ask her to do something, she’ll say ok and then turn around and totally not do it.
  • Leaving the bucket with all of our cleaning supplies lying around the house even after I’ve asked her to always put it away so that Noah won’t accidentally ingest something poisonous.  (See also: bad listening skills)
  • She’s always blaming Noah when things go wrong.  Like when I asked to make sure she always locks the balcony door, she told me they were unlocked because Noah did it (never mind that I had been with Noah all afternoon and there was no way he could’ve done it unless he has an evil twin).  I’m so tired of hearing how everything is Noah’s fault even if I’m just asking a simple question like, “What time is dinner going to be ready?”
  • Poor common sense.  She gave Noah a cup of spoiled milk and when I asked her about it, she said she didn’t know if she should throw it out because she didn’t want to waste it.  I mean, really — it was completely curdled.  When I poured it out, it fell out of the cup in big chunks.  Milk should not make plopping sounds coming out of a cup, it should runneth over.  My poor boy.  I still feel bad that he drank that.
  • She can’t make mac & cheese.  This might seem like a pretty silly grievance but is there anything easier to make than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?  I mean, this should be part of some sort of universal common sense litmus test.  But she looked completely perplexed when I handed her the box and asked her to make it for Noah.  I even pointed at the directions (which had illustrations!) before I ended up walking her through the steps and eventually doing it myself.  Unfortunately it turns out that I forgot to show her how to do the really hard part — cooking the pasta — because she kept trying to put the lid on the boiling pot of water causing the entire pot to boil over and flames to shoot out from the stove.  Repeatedly.  (See also: poor common sense)

She’s a sweet girl so I do feel guilty having to replace her but it really comes down to the fact that I don’t really trust her and have little faith in her abilities. She’s been doing well this week but a lot of that is because I’m taking on more responsibilities around the house because I don’t trust her to do it right.  Mark and I decided to go through an agency this time around to find a new helper.  The agency we’re using prescreens each one of their applicants so they know each one personally, they have each applicant complete a training course and then they score them on specific skill sets (like baby care, hygiene, emotional maturity, etc.).  The owner met with us for an hour to get to know us and get a sense of what we need and then recommended people based on that.  We found someone we like so we’re going through the whole immigration thing again so hopefully in 6 to 8 weeks we’ll have our new helper.  Of course it’s all still hit-and-miss and this new girl may turn out to be a bust too, but she can’t be much worse than having Diane around, right?

Big Thing #2 — We booked Noah’s birthday party venue.
Yes, his birthday is still a month away so laugh if you must, but this birthday party thing has been seriously stressing me out.  First of all, it’s my first time planning a party for him all by myself — my mom threw him his 1-year birthday party (because she wanted to, not because I was lazy) and since then we’ve been able to get by with just taking him to Disneyland. Secondly, this is the first birthday where Noah knows what that means. And he’s been to a bajillion parties in the last few months so he knows what parties are (balloons, cake and presents). Throw in the fact that Noah’s best friend moved to Singapore and Noah just started a new school so I have no idea who his friends are now…it’s a lot of pressure! One of the women in my knitting group mentioned a while back that Babycakes — a local cupcakery — throws birthday parties and after a lot of back and forth on my part, I finally decided to go with a cupcake party. Girly? Maybe. But Noah loves Babycakes — cupcakes and a playroom…what’s not to love? — and he’s getting a Ben 10 cupcake cake so I’m pretty sure he’ll enjoy it. On top of the playroom, they’ll also give the kids a tour of the bakery and let them make some cupcakes and decorate them afterward, so that’s one less activity that I need to worry about. And now that the venue is booked, I’m actually pretty excited about the party. Now if only I can get over that fear of “What if I throw a party and no one comes?”…

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August 31, 2009 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

Excuses, Excuses…

So I’ve been a little bit not here lately, but I have a good reason.  It turns out that by writing the following sentence in my last blog:

“But Julian, for the most part, has proven to be a relatively chilled out baby too.”

I ended up totally screwing myself. Yep, you guessed it. Adios chilled out baby and hello crazy freaking out baby. I know, I know, you’re probably asking yourself how such a sweet looking baby

can possibly cause so much trouble, but this little guy can definitely scream.

Mark and I have had our hands (and ears!) full (of crying) lately trying to maintain some semblance of peace and quiet in our little house but poor Julian has his days when he’s just inconsolable. Poor little guy. It’s so heartbreaking to hear him crying so much and for so long, but in a weird, twisted way, a part of me is glad for this. Not because I like torturing babies but because it’s helped me really come to terms with one of my pre-baby #2 fears. A part of me has always been concerned with how I would feel about baby #2 because Noah was pretty much the perfect baby for us. There was an underlying fear that Noah would always be the favorite child — especially if it turned out that baby #2 was a difficult baby (hello Julian’s crying jags) — and that we would unintentionally shortchange #2 because of it. But if I’ve realized anything these past couple of weeks, it’s that it doesn’t matter. Even with my sore, aching neck, back and shoulders and as sleep-deprived as I am some days, I can still hold Julian (after he’s been crying for the last 10 minutes straight) and feel nothing but a huge surge of love for him. Chilled out or not, colicky or not, I’m finding it doesn’t matter at all.

Of course it helps that I think Julian is a total cutie pie. Even if he has turned out to be the Amazing Exploding Baby. My little Fatty McFatty has managed to almost double his birthweight in just six weeks and weighs in at 13.5 lbs. So much for having a nice, normal-sized baby this time around. But if my back has to suffer from carrying him around all the time, I get some consolation from the fact that I can make fun of all of his chins. Just check out that neck roll:

So that’s part of the reason why I just haven’t been around lately.  Another reason is that Noah started at his new school last week and I’ve been busy with that.  One of the reasons I’ve always loved Noah’s school is because of its emphasis on community and parental involvement and I got a firsthand taste of that last week.  Noah’s first day was last Wednesday and I’ve already been at the school four times — orientation, hanging out with other moms in the school library waiting for our kids to get out of a short school day, a training class for the school’s intranet system, and today’s new parent coffee morning.  Even before school started I had gotten a call and email from Pam, my buddy family (this year the school paired up a new HKA family with an existing HKA family to help us get comfortable and to answer any question we newbies might have).  I don’t know about Noah, but I’m definitely feeling the love from HK Academy.  And as hectic as this past week has been for me, I’ve really enjoyed the chance to meet and get to know the other families.  Yep, introverted, antisocial me actually likes talking to people now.  Either hell is freezing over or I’m really desperate for non-baby human interaction.

From what I can tell Noah is also doing well at school. Of course, trying to get information out of him is like pulling teeth (“What did you do at school today?” Lots of stuff. “Did you have art time? What did you draw?” Pictures and things. Thank you, Captain Obvious) but luckily his teacher, Miss Joanne, emailed me to tell me that Noah has been wonderful:

“He has such lovely manners and is interacting well with the other children. He’s been drawing lots of pictures…usually about Ben 10 and the other characters Ben transforms into and best of all, he is just enthusiastic about everything.”

Oh, if only I knew who this lovely mannered child is Miss Joanne’s talking about. He sounds like a dream.

August 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm 10 comments

Time Flies

Last Friday, Mark and I took Julian to the doctor for his one month checkup. I can’t believe that over a month has gone by now since I had the boy, but you know what they say: time flies when you’re completely sleep-deprived having fun. Julian, I’m happy to report, is thriving. When I was still pregnant, one of the reasons Dr. Doo wanted to induce my labor was because Julian’s growth had slowed and eventually stopped during my eighth and ninth months. Once outside the womb however, he’s gone from 7 lbs, 3 oz and 19.5 inches at birth to 12 lbs and 22 inches in just four weeks. Yes, my child likes to eat.

Before he was born, Mark and I were preparing ourselves for a difficult baby. The reason being that Noah was an incredibly easy baby — he only cried when he needed something and he very laid back and easily soothed — and we figured we couldn’t possibly luck out twice. But Julian, for the most part, has proven to be a relatively chilled out baby too. He’s had a few random, inexplicable crying episodes, but nowhere near the insanity-inducing colic that I was preparing myself for. Even Dr. Wong remarked on what a mellow baby he was. If I were to complain about anything, it would be the frequency that he eats. The boy was on a two-hour schedule for two weeks and just recently settled on a more reasonable three hour eating schedule, although for some reason — quite possibly just to torture us — he still insists on eating every two hours between midnight and 8 am.

Aside from my occasional crying jags at only getting to sleep for two hours at a time, everything else is going great and we’re all adjusting pretty well. Maybe it’s leftover pregnancy hormones, but I have a hard time believing how fast this last month has gone by and a lot of the time I get really sentimental just looking at Julian. If everything goes according to plan, Julian is our going to be our last baby (at least, the last one that I’m popping out myself) and I get sad thinking that this is the last time I’m going to hold a baby this small. It’s so exciting to see him growing and changing every day, and besides that, he’s just so darn cute but still, it’s a teensy bit sad at the same time.

But anyway, in other news…

More Changes At Home
Because having a new baby isn’t a big enough change for us, we also got a new helper this last month. Clarita, who had been with us for the last two years (which also qualified her as the person we’ve known the longest in Hong Kong), moved back to the Philippines last week to get married. Enter Diane. Diane actually started working and living with us at the beginning of July so we’ve had some time to sort of get used to each other before Clarita left for good. As happy as we are with her, Noah still misses his Ate Clarita from time to time. Noah went along when Mark dropped Clarita off at the airport and as he said goodbye to her, Noah gave Clarita his new Wildmutt action figure — a toy that he’d wanted for weeks that I had bought him just the day before — told her that she could have it and that when he saw her again in the Philippines then she could give it back to him. Noah and his Ben 10 toys are not easily parted so it made the gesture that much sweeter.

Conversations With the Boy

Speaking of Noah, here are a couple of conversations that I’ve had with him in the last week…
Me: Hey Noah, I have a new game for you. Do you want to play?
Noah: Ok!
Me: It’s called Twenty Questions and the way you play is I’ll think of something and you ask me questions about it and try to guess what I’m thinking of. Ok?
Noah: Uh, Mommy? I have a new game instead. It’s called Keep Quiet and when I point at you, you stop talking ok?

(I’m reading out loud to Noah a card that we received in the mail addressed to the Munoz family.)
Noah: But Mommy! What about me? I thought the card was for me!
Me: It is! It says for the Munoz family and you’re part of the family, right?
Noah: Oh yeah. You and me and Daddy and Julian are in my family.
Me: That’s right.
Noah: And shoes. The shoes are part of the family too.
(That’s my boy.)

Diaper News
Yes, I’m putting in an update about diapers. Mostly this is for my mom because she totally laughed at me when I told her that Mark and I were going to use cloth diapers for Julian. When we first brought Julian home, the hospital had sent us home with two packs of newborn diapers on top of the pack we used up during our three-day stay. When we started running low, Clarita picked up two more packs of newborn diapers and when we started running out of those, we still didn’t feel prepared to make the switch so we picked up a pack of small diapers. And when we started running low on those, I did some quick math and figured out that in the span of just three weeks, we had burned through over 200 diapers already (35 diapers/newborn pack plus 60 diapers/small pack).  200 diapers!  In three weeks!!  Insane.  So we finally switched over to cloth diapers. I love these things. Seriously. They aren’t that much more work than disposables (of course, it helps that we have a helper who does the laundry), Julian’s diaper rash — which he’d had for two weeks straight — cleared up immediately, we’ve had fewer leaks with these than with disposables (sorry Earth’s Best — you may be earth friendly but you leak like crazy), and they’re so much cuter than regular diapers. I’ve even been known to try to coordinate Julian’s outfits with his diapers:

We still use disposables at nighttime but still, 2-3 diapers a day sure beats the 10-12 we were burning through (and leaving to sit in landfills) before.

And You Thought Your Passport Picture Was Bad…
When we were filling out all the paperwork and going through the process of registering Julian’s birth with the Hong Kong government and the U.S. Consulate, we figured we might as well go ahead and apply for a passport for him. After all, you never know when you’ll need to leave the country at the spur of the moment. We got Julian’s passport last week and I had to share his picture because it cracks me up:

He took that picture when he was two weeks old. It makes me laugh that his passport is valid until he’s five years old but that’s the picture that’s going to be on it until then. Hehe.

A Sweet Surprise
I’m sort of notorious for being really bad at checking our mail. Partly it’s because I’m hardly in the lobby where our mailbox is but mostly it’s because we rarely get anything interesting — mostly just bills (yawn!). So imagine my surprise when I checked our box to find we had gotten a package. My kickass sister-in-law, Lien, who coincidentally also runs a kickass (one might even say crazy) cake company, had made and sent us a box of cookies to welcome Julian:

Noah, who can’t read yet but knows how to spell his name, immediately spotted the “Noah’s Lil Bro” cookie and claimed it as his own. Later that afternoon, he caught me online checking out some cakes that Lien had entered in a cake competition. That, on top of the yummy cookies, was too much for Noah and he immediately went to his art desk so he could “draw a cake just like Tita Lien”. So here is Noah’s drawing:

which was (obviously) inspired by this cake. Obviously.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough and now you’re probably longing for the old too-tired-to-blog Cathy, but here are some more pictures anyway:

August 10, 2009 at 12:05 am 5 comments


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