Friday, July 31, 2009

Eva, Month 5 or I Found My Toes in Cambodia

Picture of Eva on top of her zodiac statue at the National Folk Museum of Korea:

Eva turned 4 months old on July 5, the day that we moved in with my 2nd cousin who we met for the first time the day before. How's that for instant family bonding? We spent July touring around Seoul, going to the Mud Festival, hanging out at the pool, moving in and traveling to Cambodia. Eva spent most of that time riding in the Beco or Ergo, sleeping, nursing and smiling.
She is playing in the bouncer now and enjoying toys as well. She still prefers people to toys, but is starting to get interested. I'm glad she's a smiler because everyone in Korea seems to love to try to get babies to smile. Ian is not a smiler. He really has to be amused to smile. Eva will smile just because she was smiled at. When Ian was her age, he would just raise his eyebrows and glare when people tried to get him to smile. She's babbling a lot as well. She has always made noises, but she is awake more now so she seems to make more deliberate sounds.

While in Cambodia, she hung out with Buddhist nuns, the President of the Cambodian Senate, and climbed many temple steps with me. I over-dressed her because I was worried about mosquitos biting her, but she did fine. Eva is a delicate flower in her movements and appearance, but she sweats like man, so she was not amused with my choice of clothing for her. I brought one onesie and a pair of Baby Legs so she had to wear that a lot because she got too hot.

She became obsessed with her toes in Cambodia and rolled from back to stomach for the first time at the hotel there. (She did roll from back to stomach two times before but that was at 3 days old and two weeks old or something like that and I don't think she realized what she did). She rolled over again at home, but she often gets distracted by her toes and just hangs out on her side, trying to chew her toes. She really isn't left alone lying down, unless she is sleeping. She does not like tummy time. She is very strong and being in the carrier counts as tummy time, but doesn't present her with opportunities to roll over.

When Ian was 4 months old, we went on a Nile Cruise. The President of Egypt was meeting with Condoleeza Rice at the hotel where our boat was docked. He actually came on our boat and we got a picture with him. It was pure, dumb luck. We were staying at a nice hotel, but not the nicest and we did not know they would be holding a meeting there. It was cool. Not to be outdone, Eva got her picture taken with the President of the Senate of Cambodia, who just happened to be staying at our hotel. Again, the hotel was nice, but not the nicest in town. The tour guide said he stays there because he knows the owner and the owner is Cambodian. Very cool and lucky! Just wish our tour guide had arrived a few minutes earlier so he could have gotten his picture taken with him as well. Now, I do have to say, in order to protect Eva's potential future political career, that we do not know anything about this guy's politics. He is a member of the current ruling party and Cambodia is at Peace now, internally, but a lot of stuff has gone down in Cambodia in that guy's lifetime. We just got the picture taken with him because it was weird to have him there. Plus, his picture is hanging in every restaurant and all over the place in Cambodia.


The onesie in the last picture was a gift from Sarah. She ordered it for Grace but it was too small for her. She was able to get a few pictures of Grace in it during her self-photo session (a very good, affordable option if you are here in Korea), but it really didn't fit so she passed it onto Eva. It has a sort of retro Bambi print with burgundy piping. Very cute and unique and looks cool on Eva. I was able to return the favor today when I met Sarah in Insadong and gave her a dress that my mom sent for Eva. It is a summer dress in size 9 months. It is much too big for Eva and by the time it fits, the weather will have changed. It will be much better on Grace for the next few months. It is great to have mom friends to be able to make these kinds of trades with. It saves everyone money and lets things be used more efficiently.

Next week, I am going to let Jessica borrow my Mamma's Milk Pouch to try out. I received the pouch as a gift and used it all the time for the first few months when she was too small for my old-style Beco (without the built-in infant insert that the Butterfly II has) and Ergo. It was much easier than using the Beco and Ergo with the separate Ergo infant insert. I used the pouch instead. However, once she became big enough to use my Beco and Ergo, I prefer to use that style. I may experiment with the pouch doing hip carries later on, but I am not using it a lot right now. I am going to lend it to Jessica so she can try it out before buying her own or making her own (she is very crafty and talented that way). Also, she may decide that she just wants to use it for a few months, like I did, in which case she can just borrow it for that long. Different products work for different people. It is nice to be able to try things out before investing or just simply borrow a product for a few months instead of buying.

I may be buying a BOB jogging stroller from Mommy Cha on Sunday. It is just collecting dust at her house because her son (the Kimchi Kid) doesn't like the stroller. He is a Moby Wrap guy (so much so that Mommy Cha and Papa Cha have become Moby Wrap distributors here in Korea). Curt would like to start doing the 5K runs on Yongsan with Ian. He tried to do one with him in our Inglesina Zippy, but it really is not a jogging stroller so it didn't work well. The tires are flat, hopefully they will inflate and are in good shape. It would be nice to pick this up from them. I'm not sure how often Curt will really run with it so I don't want to invest in a new one, but at the same time, I want a good stroller. So, if it works out, it will be a good deal for both of us.

Also, Yongsan Playgroups is going to have a clothing swap in August. The Expat Parents Club has a very successful one in June, but I wasn't able to go. There is talk on the Expat Parent Club forum of doing another clothing swap as well. Especially when you have kids, swaps are great. Babies grow at such unpredictable rates and baby clothes are very inconsistent in sizing. Especially with clothing for the first year that you get as gifts, there is a lot that just doesn't fit at the right time or maybe it just isn't your taste. It could be perfect for someone else's kid instead of taking up space in your home.

I have started to gather some clothing for swaps and some items to sell as well. I hate selling things, but like Mommy Cha and the BOB stroller, sometimes it is good to admit that you don't use something and probably never will, and recoup at least some of your investment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The ER, My New Home

So, yesterday started off great with Ian waking up in his own room. We met some friends at the Hannam pool and were back home in time for lunch. Ian fell asleep in his highchair after eating his lunch and took a nice nap, on-time. When he woke up, I decided to reward him with a trip to the playground instead of the much-needed trip to the Commissary for groceries. He put on his helmet and we took his bike outside. He rode around for awhile and then wanted to play at the playground. Some of the bigger kids saw his bike and wanted to see how it worked. He was so excited that he jumped and his bike and started gilding before he was really on the bike. He fell and split his chin open. So, back to the ER for the 3rd time in just over 30 days.

It was a gusher! One of the ladies at the playground gave me a paper towel, but it kept bleeding. A kind woman named Elizabeth helped me get Eva and the bike back to my building while I took care of Ian. I couldn't find my door card to get into the building (story of my life), but a halmoni let us in. By the time we got to the apartment he had stopped bleeding, but since the wound was gaping, I decided to take him to the ER.

There wasn't much activity there so we were seen quickly. They put a numbing gel on his chin and we sat for 20 minutes while it took effect. Well, I sat. Ian climbed and jumped and tried to find electric sockets to stick his fingers in (well, not the last one, but you get the idea). Then, they brought us back to the room for the stitches. Curt arrived about this time. Ian was very calmed and listened well as they wrapped him in a sheet to restrain him. They asked me if I thought he'd lay still and I said maybe if he is numb, but I doubted it. With his head injury, he was hysterical until I nursed him and then he went totally limp and relaxed, but I couldn't nurse him during chin stitches so we went with restraint. He looked like he was in a zen state as they wrapped him and irrigated the wound. Then, they injected the lyodocaine and hot tears and primal screams followed. His eyes were searching wildly for me and he screamed,"Mommy-ah, come get me! Don't stay away!"

I got as close as I could, but a medic was holding his head and the doctor was injecting and stitching his face. I had an urge to cry but stopped myself because that would just make it worse for him. Finally, Ian said,"Mommy hold my hand!"

I grabbed his hand through the sheet and said,"I've got it. I've got your hand." He calmed instantly.

Then, it was over.

Surprisingly, this trauma had little effect on night #2 in his own room. We did his routine. He smiled and said,"I think you should sleep with me in this bed."
I said,"I have to sleep in my own bed. this is your special bed. It is just for you."

And then he went to sleep.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Transitioning from Co-sleeping: His Own Room

Last year, I wrote about transitioning Ian out of our bed and into a crib in our room. Today, I am happy to report that Ian has moved into his own room.

For us, an AP/Montessori combo seems to work*. The heart of the message of AP is to trust your instincts and work from the premise that your baby has real needs and by meeting his needs, you will create a bond. How you put that into practice varies from person-to-person. Montessori teaches self-reliance and respect for the child. My friend just asked me (on the forum) if I used Dr. Sears' tips to make this transition. I did, but not specifically, meaning, I read the book a long time ago and it clicked with me. I didn't re-read it before making this transition, I just followed my instincts and respected my child.

Here are the keys to my strategy on this issue:

1. Consistency
2. Readiness
3. Preparation
4. Timing
5. Choices

The first key is consistency. Going back and forth is confusing, frightening and will make your transition longer in the end whether you are talking about transitioning from co-sleeping or potty training. (Ian wore underwear in Cambodia despite his regression on pooping on the potty. The result: he held it in, had an accident and then pooped on the potty at a restaurant in Cambodia. The message: he is in underwear now and we don't use diapers for convenience. Since we've been home, he is doing much better about pooping on the potty than he would be if we had put him in diapers for our convenience).

In December, we went back to the US to get ready to have the baby. Ian and I stayed in the same room where he slept in a crib by my bed. We came back to Korea at the end of April and had to move out of our apartment at the end of June. We were in a hotel (in the same room) followed by my cousin's apartment (in the same room) and finally into our new apartment where the bed was being occupied by my sister during her visit. Then, we went to Cambodia where we were all in the same room. I knew that we could not consistently keep him in his own room during this period, so I didn't even try.

Next, is readiness. This involves both parental readiness and child readiness. In many cases, parents are ready to end co-sleeping before the child is and they try to do it too abruptly. It causes trauma/drama and they end up back sliding and letting the kid back into their bed for at least part of the night every night. If you are ready before your child is, you need to work to get your child ready. Slow, consistent, non-dramatic progress is much better (for everyone) than forcing an abrupt change and having to back slide.

If your child is ready, like Ian was, it is much easier. The biggest sign from Ian was awareness of possessions. He could understand and appreciate the concept of "having his own room". Still, we did not surprise him with this change, we prepared him.

Preparation: We always referred to our bedroom as our bedroom and the room where his clothes were kept as "Ian's room". We talked about how after we moved and Kate left, he was going to be able to move into his own room. He picked out his new bedding. We talked about what we were going to put in his room. We established a bedtime routine in our bedroom that could be replicated in his bedroom. We made the transition in phases so it was gentle for all of us. Phase 1: stop nursing to sleep. Phase 2: transition to crib in our room. Phase 3: transition to his own room.

Timing: We waited until we could be consistent. My sister left yesterday morning and the package with Ian's new bedding arrived yesterday afternoon. So that evening, we moved the bed into his room and the exercise equipment out. Ian helped with this process. We made the bed and then, we asked him when he would like to move in.

Choices: We gave him a choice on the bedding. I showed him two sets: Transportation and Animals. I actually liked the Transportation set better, but he chose the animals. Even after I showed him the Transportation set by itself a few weeks later, he said,"That's not my bed. My bed is the animals." So I ordered the Animal set.

We gave him a choice about when to move in. I asked him,"Do you want to move in tonight or tomorrow?"

He said,"Tonight."

And he did. We went through our routine of brushing teeth, stories and nursing** (he nurses before bed and nap). I asked him if he wanted me to cuddle him for a bit and he said,"No." I turned out the light, left the room and he slept until morning! My mentor mom, Connie (formerly of Cairo), would be proud!

I'm feeling really good about how this went last night, especially since this past month has been really stressful and I've been losing my temper far too often.

*I think that if you accept the basic premises of this philosophy you can create your own version which works with your personality and lifestyle. There is lots of room for variation. It is also not the only way to do things, just the way that works for me.

**I believe in making one big change at a time. Ian loves to nurse. It doesn't bother me. He only nurses, at most, twice a day: before nap and before bed. He will wean eventually. I think my goal is to wean him by his 4th birthday. I think he may self-wean before that, but I want him to get through potty training, transitioning to his own room and entering preschool before I push weaning.

Recycling: T-Shirt to Newborn Gown

On the Expat Parents Club Forum, Bethany pointed us to a site called, Rookie Moms, which linked to a site called, This Mama Makes Stuff which had a great idea for recycling t-shirts into newborn gowns.

This is right up my alley as I am tying to reduce the amount of clothing I have that I never wear. I think both sites merit further reading and linking. I haven't made the pattern, but if I get around to it, I will post pictures...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This past month has been unbelievable. When I say that, I mean unbelievably stressful, unbelievably eventful, unbelievably great and unbelievably horrible all at the same time. I have so much to do/buy/sell/trade/get rid of/frame/hang to get the house organized. From there, once I have my head above water, I need to make some improvements on top of that to make life run smoother.

We need a couch, a tv stand/entertainment center and a dresser immediately. We bought two cheap bookshelves to start to get the office area under control. Tomorrow, we are going to a used furniture place to get a couch (hopefully). I want to check the Chosun Gift Shop, that furniture store and the AAFES furniture store and then just pick something. We will probably go the cheap route because moving is so damaging on furniture, but we might see something interesting. I just want to decide so we can move on.

Things are on the floor everywhere and Ian is making it worse. I do not have time to look around a lot for the furniture. I just need to do it.

Here's hoping by September, things are in order!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Birth Works x 2

Great news from two of the moms in my moms' group who were on the brink of cesareans:

1. Mom #1 had two conditions that lead to cesarean: advanced maternal age (over 35) and placenta previa. Advanced maternal age is not a legitimate reason for cesarean, but doctors are more likely to push for one when the mother is over 35. However, placenta previa requires a cesarean. Luckily, most instances of placenta previa resolve before the end of pregnancy. Hers did and she delivered her daughter in Germany in an unmedicated hospital birth attended by a midwife.

2. Mom #2 was pregnant with baby #2 and all was well until he decided to turn beech after 30 weeks. She had a midwife attempt to massage the baby around, but he wouldn't budge. Fortunately, an External Cephalic Version (the difference is you can use more pressure to turn the baby and it is with monitoring) performed by a midwife in her doctor's clinic was successful. She delivered her son at home, attended by her OB here in Korea in a very short labor (less than 3 hours).

Just a little birthing inspiration for those of you diagnosed with placenta previa or breech baby. While you can't do anything about placenta previa but wait, you can try to turn your breech baby. Midwives in Korea do vaginal breech deliveries as well. Just know, that you are not out of options.

It also shows the power of sharing information. Several moms in our group had their midwives massage their breech babies back to vertex and I had an ECV in the hospital. My first birth was a scheduled cesarean due to breech because, although I knew ECV was an option, I was told it was terribly painful and didn't work and was discouraged from trying it. Not fully understanding the consequences of a primary c-section (like increased chance of placental issues in subsequent pregnancies and restrictions on labor, etc), I chose not to attempt an ECV with my first pregnancy. I ran into several people who had ECVs and they said they hurt and didn't work. If I had met just one person who said it worked, I would have tried it. I am so glad I did it with my second pregnancy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And, We're In!

We spent the night at our new place last night. It is a wreck. I almost cried when we went to see it Friday after they finished the work. There is crap everywhere. There is no storage. And the hilarious thing is that we don;t even have everything we need. We turned in our government furniture so we have to but a couch, tv stand and book shelves for sure.

The place is about 10 pyeoung smaller than our previous place and because of the layout and lack of storage, we are losing a lot more than that in useable space. Why, for example, did they put three sets of double doors that open outward on to the living room balcony? We are either going to have to look two sets of doors so they are blocked with stuff, or put less out there.

Why, oh why, did they feel the need to put a big hallway in the master suite? Completely wasted, but I guess I can hang some pictures in there.

Our washer and dryer barely fit in the laundry room. There is no cabinet for the detergent, etc. We have to demo the smaller cabinet, extra burner and Korean washer out to make room for the American washer. The Korean washer is too small and takes too long, so I guess that is the trade-off.

The kitchen is small and I don't think all of our appliances, pots, pans, and food will fit. There is no pantry. We may have to have the American fridge taken out and put shelving in its place. I am not making any big decisions, yet, but just trying to puzzle it out.

The shelves in the foyer and bathrooms are very shallow.

There are 4 bedrooms but one of them has no closet. They all have the storage balconies, but they are shallower than the ones at our old place.

So, this is the space we've got which means we have too much stuff.

I've moved through the crying, swearing and avoidance phases (mostly) of this most dreaded and most necessary of tasks. Now, I am onto the action plan.

Most organization experts say you should only touch something once. That does not work for me. Either, I get too overwhelmed to start or I get stuck obsessing about each item. I am a big picture person and work best going from big to small. Large complete vision to narrowing in on the details. The major problem that we had was determining purposes for each bedroom.

When we moved in, we put the master as the master, one room dedicated to the office, one as the guest bedroom and one as the exercise room with Ian and Eva's clothes (like we had in the old place).

The problem with that set up is that this place has a lot less storage than our old place and I want to start working on moving Ian to his own room. I was thinking of getting him a twin bed, but there is no room for an extra bed. The queen sized guest bed used to be for our bedroom (before we knew we would co-sleep and need to up-size to a king). It is a big bed frame and there is no place to store it, so it must remain set up. We are going to out bedrails on it and use it as Ian's bed. It only has a mattress, not a box spring and adding a box spring would make it really high, so I am going to have to figure out a way to get the bedrails on without destroying the bed.

The master bedroom, will, of course be the master. The room without the closet will be the office and craft storage room. The small bedroom with the small closet that has Ian and Eva's clothes in it will be Ian's room (and guest room when we have guests). The larger bedroom with the large closet will be the exercise equipment room and general storage. I do not want Ian alone in a bedroom with lots of extra storage things. The capacity for getting hurt or breaking things is too great. I don't know if my sister and I will attempt to switch those two rooms now or just wait a week until C returns.

Right now, my general strategy--Plan B, since I determined that Plan A, jumping out the window was not a viable option:

1. Do a general sort. Group like with like. This will help see what kind of furniture we need or what we need to get rid of. This will also help clear a space so that we have beds and can perform basic functions during this process.

2. Take out the trash. We moved quite a bit of stuff that should have been thrown out, but we ran out of time.

3. Reduce the amount of stuff we have. We have a lot of stuff that we don't use or need. We have saved the original boxes for almost everything and while I do believe that is a good practice, we just don't have the space to keep that many boxes. Some things, like Ian's bike or basketball hoop really don't need the original boxes to be moved back to the States.

This is going to be a lot of work. A big pain. But, living in total chaos is much worse.

I'll update with pictures later.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gro Baby Cloth Diapering System

"One Diaper. Big Change."

That is the motto for Gro Baby Cloth Diapering System, the one-size, certified organic cotton snap-in inner with re-useable outer shell.

I have the Bum Genius One-Size Pocket Diapering system. I was worried that one-size diapers would be too bulky on a newborn, but after using them on my second child, I am sold! The only issue I have with the Bum Genius is the side tabs pilled very quickly and the velcro tabs started to look a little shabby. Still, they are going strong after more than 2 years of continuous use.

Another system that I've tried is the GDiaper system. It is hybrid diaper system with a reusable cloth outer, plastic snap-in and flushable, disposable inner. Since I started with cloth, I did not find this system easier, but I think it is less intimidating than cloth. The advantages of this system are that with the snap-in liners, you can re-use the outer covers and therefore, you need fewer covers. Also, there is less to wash.

Gro Baby combines the advantages of both of these systems:

*one-size, they will fit from 8-35 lbs
*easy to put on and off
*claims that the hook tabs won't pill
*snap-in inner means fewer out shells to buy and less laundry, also takes up less room in the diaper bag
*certified, organic cotton inner is better for the environment and better for baby's skin

I would love to try the Gro Baby system. My baby girl would look great in the Blackberry Gro Baby diaper.

1) Must be a new blog/pic, etc.
2) You may blog about your likes/dislikes for Gro Baby™ OR post a new pic of your babe in Gro Baby™ OR blog that you'd like to try Gro Baby™ .
3) ALL, must be accompanied with this link,
4) Email your link/address to WITH BLOG
GIVEAWAY in the subject line.
5) We'll send each participant ONE FREE Pre Production Shell Set in
Blackberry (sorry no other colors available)
6) One per family please.