Wednesday, June 29, 2011

9 Months Out!

Juliana's so silly sometimes!  She likes to play with her pacifier and put it in sideways and upside-down.

Now that the packing and moving and leaving China craziness is over and I am hanging out in America lounging in a ridiculously soft recliner and drinking extremely cold water, I thought I should give another Juliana update for those of you that haven't (or haven't yet) gotten to see her this summer.  People keep saying that 9 months is a significant age because she has now been "outside" longer than she was "inside."

While Juliana has certainly grown and has some adorably chubby legs, she is still a petite little kid. She can still fit into some of her 3-6 month clothes! Her long fingers and toes (along with her exceptionally tall Felt relatives) indicate height in her future, however.
Peering at the doggy

Some kids are on the go and getting all around the house by now, but Juliana is moving at her own pace. She still isn't crawling, although she has become adept at scooting around backwards and spinning in circles to get to what she needs. Just today she pulled herself up to standing for the first time. She is definitely more focused and detail oriented. She is content to sit and look at books for half an hour or will spent five minutes examining the tag on a toy. She also has an exceptional talent for finding cords.

Juliana is quite talkative despite her lack of words. Her favorite sounds are “bababababa” and high-pitched “eeeeeee!” She can say “dada” and “baba” (the Chinese version of dada). I try to get her to say “mama,” but she just responds with, “Baba. Dada. Dadadabababa.” Oh well. She loves me anyway.  She also loves to wave bye-bye and clap her hands.
Discovering watermelon

Juliana has been eating solid food for about three months now, and she usually eats with a relish. We often add garlic seasoning. She loves it, and I think it's fun having a baby with garlic breath. I have tried to introduce finger foods, but she's still doesn't quite get it. She still only has 2 teeth, though, so she doesn't have a lot to chew with. She will put everything into her mouth except finger foods. She just looks at cheerios like, “what is this?” and has a good time throwing them on the floor. She does enjoy sucking on a nice piece of watermelon, though. She still nurses throughout the day (and once or twice at night), and I plan to continue nursing her for a while longer.

A very exciting recent development is that she has finally started to sleep decently!! Our last week in China she started sleeping a 5-6 hours stretch at night. Then we had to go and mess everything up with jetlag. The last week was not so fun, with Juliana waking up every half hour more often than not and didn't want to sleep at all until 3-4am. I was afraid she would never go back. But then these past few night she has started sleeping better again. Last night – get this – she slept from 8:30pm-3am, woke up briefly, slept from 3-4am, was changed and nursed, and then slept from 4:30-7:30am. Amazing! We are filled with hope. One day she may even learn how to nap well.
Loud squeal in process
One of the things I love most about Juliana is that she is really happy almost all the time. She smiles frequently and laughs easily. So long as someone is around to talk to her every so often, she will play contentedly with her toys for an increasingly long time. Any form of peek-a-boo is sure to make her squeal with joy. The Felt's dog makes her super excited, as do books, bathtime, other children, measuring cups, tickling, mirrors...well, she gets a kick out of most things in life. And she just loves her mama and daddy, except when we are putting her to sleep or ganging up on her with the bugger-sucker.
Riding around in her new Ergo carrier ($20 on Chinese

She is adjusting well to America, although she is a bit leery of all the 'foreign' faces. When she met new Chinese people she almost always treated them like her best friends. She does warm up to Americans...after she takes some time to figure out why they look so funny. She loves all the new fun toys at Gramps and Nana's. She is getting to experience carpet and grass and non-toxic bathwater. She is not a fan of the car-seat, however, and usually loudly protests this unfair confinement.

She doesn't look like a little baby anymore; I believe she has officially graduated to Big Baby status. She is cuter than ever, if that is possible. Her hair is slightly longer and still blond with a tiny red tint. Her eyes are still bright blue, much to the delight of every Chinese person. And we get to see her little dimples whenever she smiles, which is about every 10 seconds.

So to sum it all up, she's pretty much the greatest baby ever. Hope you get to see her soon!
Posing with her new Chinese friend and waving bye-bye

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Honorary Father's Day

Sunday, aka. REAL Father's Day, was the longest day ever. Literally – our day was 39 hours long, and unfortunately about 24 of it was spent in travel. Not such a fun way for Kevin to spend his first father's day, though he did get to eat Burger King and El Pollo Loco, watch almost all of a movie on the plane, and sleep for at least an hour. Or was it half an hour? Anyway, we decided it would be best to have an honorary Father's Day on a day that involved a little less travel and a little more sleep.

In honor of Kevin's first honorary Father's Day, I thought I would share a few of the ways I think he is already a great father. In no particular order...

*He changes a lot of diapers. I know there is that whole stereotype of men never changing diapers, but from day one Kevin has changed tons of diapers. I think he has officially gained expert status.

*I really, really appreciate our similar parenting philosophies. I know some guys hate to have a baby sharing their bed, but Kevin has been totally cool with co-sleeping. He hasn't wanted to do 'cry it out,' even though it would probably be the easiest solution. When I threw out the idea of doing a little Elimination Communication (infant potty training), Kevin was like, “Ok, let's start today.” When we go on walks, he's more likely to go for the baby carrier than the stroller. When I talk about the weird/non-traditional parenting ideas I read about, he doesn't just say, “That's crazy!” Except maybe when I was explaining placenta encapsulation...

*It's obvious that Juliana loves her daddy! Even if she is in the middle of nursing, she gets totally distracted when Kevin comes into the room. She twists all around to follow him with her eyes and tries to catch his attention so she can beam at him.

*Kevin plays fun games like 'toss the baby in the air' and 'blow rasberries on the baby's tummy' that can make Juliana's fuss turn into giggles mid-cry.

*He doesn't shirk from 'nighttime parenting.' After I get Juliana ready for bed, Kevin sits with her, pats her back, sings to her, and helps her go to sleep, even when it takes an hour. When she wakes up during the first part of the night, Kevin gets her back to sleep, even if she wakes up 5 times in 3 hours. If I have been up with her for two hours and am about to lose it, he takes over. Sleep has definitely been the most challenging aspect of parenting this child, and I don't think I could have stayed sane without Kevin's nighttime help.

*Like every new father, Kevin felt very hesitant about his parenting abilities at first. It took him (and me!) a little while to figure out how to handle the baby. I don't know if he still feels completely confident, but I think he acts like a natural. He can do pretty much everything except nurse her, and can do most things with ease. When I have been bedridden with a stomach bug (which has happened several times), Kevin has taken care of Juliana all day long and gotten up with her all night long.

*I know it is often more difficult for guys than girls, but Kevin is learning how to multitask! He has learned how to heat up baby food one handed while holding the baby. He can work on the computer while Juliana plays, pausing to interact with her every few minutes so she doesn't feel neglected. He can hang up laundry while entertaining the her (once he let her play in the washing machine, haha!).

*He is usually patient with me when I am complaining about the difficulty of being a parent, even though I complain a lot more than he does.

*He rarely gets frustrated with Juliana, even though she can be quite frustrating at times (say, wide awake at 2:30am).

*He has taken at least 242353425345 pictures of Juliana over the past nine months. No doubt that she is well documented. I'm glad that we have captured so many of her funny actions and adorable expressions.

*He is a great example for our students. Most of them are very surprised that Kevin is so involved in taking care of Juliana. They are used to men who have no idea what to do with a baby, and many of them have very distant relationships with their fathers. I think it's awesome that they can see how much Kevin loves Juliana (especially “even though” she is a girl).

Thank you for all your work and help Kevin.  I'm so glad that Juliana gets to have a father like you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's Wrong with this Picture?

This evening we saw a shocking sight:  A mother outside with her one month old baby.  The baby was not wrapped in a blanket.  The mother was alone.  And it was evening.  My first thought was, "That woman is going to get some serious scolding!!"  It was such an unusual sight it felt like a "What's wrong with this picture" scenario.

1. Babies are not allowed to go outside until they are three months old.  Mothers are not even supposed to go outside (or really even get out of bed - or, if you're really following tradition - even shower!) for the first month after giving birth.  Maybe this mama's month was just up and she making a quick escape.  Goodness knows I don't blame her.  But anyone knows that if you take a baby less than three months old outside (except to go baby-swimming) they will surely die.

2.  The baby was NOT wearing enough layers.  One small, sleeper outfit with only minimal padding.  A towel hanging underneath but not even wrapped around.  Not only could I see the baby's head - I could see the BODY.  That is just wrong.  Sure it's June (though surprisingly cool today).  But that woman better get some more clothes on that baby or it will surely die.

(Incidentally, the woman reprimanded ME for not having socks on Juliana!  What??  Go cover your own baby in blankets and then you can talk.)

3. A mother alone with her baby?  This woman needs some relatives around.  Ideally a doting/scolding grandmother or two.  At least, a clueless but helpful husband.  You might see a grandmother alone with a baby, but not a mother.  Everyone knows mothers don't know what they are doing.

4.  This less than three month old baby who was not wearing enough clothes was outside in the evening.  The sun had already started to set.  Babies can't be out in the evening!  They will surely die.

This poor baby.  It doesn't stand a chance.  And the poor mother.  I pity the scolding she will get when the grannies discover her negligence.  She looked so nice.  And the baby looked so cute and little (and seemed to have no intention of keeling over anytime soon).  It's back to banishment for you guys!  See you in a few months.