Wednesday, October 30, 2019

happy halloween!

Celebrating Halloween with a two-year-old is a lot of fun.

I collect holiday books and stash them away most of the year; we pulled out our Halloween books a week or so ago. Mabel asks to read a "Haddoween book!" every day, usually more than one. One of her favourites is If You're Spooky and You Know It, probably because she loves to sing and dance.

We don't have many Halloween decorations, but she loves the ones we do have and points to them, "Haddoween!"

Mabel was a hamburger (like last year) and Clarke was a hot dog.

We practiced saying "trick or treat" and "thank you" all last week, but when we went trick or treating in our apartment building on the weekend, Mabel was pretty shy and wouldn't say either at first. Half the time, she'd put her bucket in front of the person and then hide behind me. About halfway through, she started whispering, "Thank you." The only person she said "trick or treat" to was Auntie Jo. Mabel also gave her a spontaneous hug, which was so sweet.

Clarke only made it through two floors before Tony had to take him home.

I talked to Mabel before we went trick or treating about the fact that she might not be able to eat all of the candy because some might hurt her (I meant choking, but didn't say that). She understood because we've talked about it before. At the apartments that had multiple candy choices, Mabel would give me a look that seemed to say, "Mama, what can I have?" and I'd help her choose a safe treat. At the apartments that only had "unsafe" treats, sometimes we would skip it or she would take one and say, "Mama, Baba eat!"

As we walked through the hallways, several times Mabel held up her pumpkin and asked, "Go home, eat, right?" I'd confirm, "Right!" and she would give me a big smile. She also held the pumpkin up a few times and said, "Mabel, Mama, Baba eat. No Dìdì." (She wasn't being mean; we've drilled into her that he only eats Mama's milk, lest she try to give him food.)

When we got home, Mabel pulled all of the treats out of her bucket one by one, separating them into two piles, "Mama, Baba eat; Mabel eat." The ones she wasn't sure about, she'd ask me, "Mabel's?" She never got upset when I said she couldn't eat something. A couple of times, she pulled a treat out and said, "Wow!"

I let her eat as much as she wanted then (which ended up being a couple small chocolate bars and some popping candy) and she's eaten one candy a day since then when she gets home from school.

I already can't wait until next year. (And Christmas! I can't wait for Christmas!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

i'm forgetting.

Clarke was 12 days old here and Mabel was freshly 2 years old.

I said I would blog and I haven't but I want to, I do, I promise, but I've been busy. Busy holding my baby and reading books with my toddler and cuddling her whenever she will let me. Also, it feels so overwhelming. I am overwhelmed by the task of How to Document My Children's Lives—these fleeting moments that are so hard and so special. I don't want to forget any of it, but I am.

I'm forgetting what it's like to have a newborn flailing in my arms, their arms and legs all jerky and spastic.

I'm forgetting what a newborn sounds like—SO LOUD! Much louder than you'd think. Farts and burps that sound like a grown man's. Heavy breathing that stops and starts and is so nerve-wracking for a first-time mom (and sometimes a second-time mom, too).

I'm forgetting what "nip-lash" feels like, when the baby is so full and content and goes from happily, sleepily, hungrily sucking to pulling away from the nipple while still having it firmly in their mouth. With a twist of their neck and a resounding smack! when the nipple is released—"nip lash."

There's more I'm forgetting, I know there is, but as I sit here, I, well, I forget what I'm forgetting.

I'll remember it though, when the baby does something, like babbles up to me and blows spit bubbles, I'll think, I remember this! Your sister did this! It will all come back to me and I'll feel sad that I forgot what that early baby talk sounds like and I will promise myself that I will remember, I won't forget this time. And I'll think, I should write this down, take a video, burn it into my memory so I won't forget.

But inevitably, I will.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

happy saturday!

Mabel goes back to school next week (half days until 1PM) and I'm having mixed feelings about it. (She started a Montessori nursery program at the school I teach at when she was 18 months.) On one hand I'm excited because I know she'll be happy to be back with her teachers and classmates, and it will let me get Clarke on a better morning routine. On the other hand, I'll miss hanging out with my little girl.

I've told Tony numerous times this week, She is just so fun to hang out with! 

That's probably what made me happiest this week—hanging out with Mabel. We went on an impromptu Starbucks date because she asked for a "mudfin" (muffin), played at an indoor playground, went on another coffee date where she stole my almond croissant (she also stole the words right out of my mouth when she told me, "Mabel's; I share with you" after taking said croissant), and a shopping date. 

Other things that made me happy this week: 

+ Auntie Jo (Melissa) came back! I don't know who's happier about that, me or Mabel. 

+ Mabel finding Toy Story pyjamas at GAP while we were shopping. She came running over holding them, "Toy Dory! Toy Dory!" I knew that no matter how much they cost, I'd buy them for her; luckily they were on sale. (She somehow became obsessed with Toy Story this summer and we've watched the first three movies many, many times—usually in parts, but she sat through all three numerous times one weekend when she was so sick and couldn't do anything else.)

+ Going out last night with Melissa. It was so fun and relaxing to drink beer and chat with my best friend on a patio.

+ IKEA trip this morning with Mabel and Melissa. So fun to shop with my girls.

+ Our sister-in-law sending us photos she took of the kids while she was visiting. It's so cool to see your kids through someone else's eyes.

What made you happy this week?

Friday, August 09, 2019

happy friday!

It's actually more like bittersweet Friday because T's sister-in-law and niece left today. They stayed almost three weeks and we'll miss them, but it will also be kind of nice to settle back into our (ever-changing) routine as a family of four. (Wow! That still feels surreal to say/type!)

It was so nice to have them here because Mabel loves Xiaoxuan (her namesake) and it meant two extra sets of hands to help. T's sister-in-law usually cooked one meal a day and she basically held Clarkie whenever it was daytime and I wasn't feeding him. (We told her not to, because, Babe, when your sister leaves, he is not going to be happy that he's not being held 24/7, but honestly, I'm not too worried because Clarkie is my second baby and I'm happy to report that I'm much more relaxed about stuff like this, and really, it's nice that someone was cuddling him because I still feel a little guilty that I haven't been able to cuddle him as often as I did Mabel because... we have Mabel *insert shrugging emoji here*.)

We tried to make it fun for them, too, at least as fun as it could be with a toddler and an infant in tow. We went to the aquarium (if I blogged about it, you would know that Mabel was scared of half of the exhibits, we spent a silly amount of money on a drink with a duck on it and a place for Mabel to play and me to sit and feed Clarkie, and I sprayed milk everywhere), took them out for burgers and Mexican food, I took Xiaoxuan for her first pedicure, and Tony took her to see The Lion King (I'm only a little jealous because we realized neither of us had seen a movie in theatre since before Mabel was born). We also just stayed inside a lot because Beijing is HOT in the summer, much too hot for a baby to be outside in the daytime and even sometimes the evening.

Some things that made me happy this week:

+ The messages I received after sharing this post.

+ T and I going out for a lunch date to celebrate Chinese Valentine's Day.

+ The margarita I drank on that lunch date.

+ The iced latte I brought home and drank while reading Recursion and holding a sleeping Clarkie.

+ T, Mabel, and I going out for ice cream, just the three of us.

+ Two new pairs of earrings (from this shop).

What made you happy this week?

Thursday, August 08, 2019

just the three of us.

This is Mabel's smile when someone tells her, "Smile!" Love it.

Yesterday Tony and I took Mabel out for ice cream. "Just the three of us, like the old days" is what I said to Tony. It was such a simple thing, but it felt so special. 

Right before we left, we were waiting for Tony to get home from work and I was sitting on the couch feeding Clarkie (who we left with T's sister-in-law who is here visiting). Mabel was sitting at her little table playing with playdough and I said, "Mabel, when baba gets home, guess what we're going to do."

She thought for a moment, got a little gleam in her eye, and whispered, "Ice cream"—something between a question and a statement, maybe a wish. 

When Tony came home, we put her in her stroller (which is now sometimes hers and sometimes Clarkie's, and also the cause of the first jealousy-induced tantrum Mabel threw after Clarkie came home because how dare I put him in "MABEL'S!!!" stroller?!) and set off.

We arrived at Solana and asked Mabel if she wanted to eat ice cream with a spoon or in a cone. She nodded her head, "Done." (Pronounced like "dome" but with an N because she can't pronounce C's yet, so Clarkie is "Darkie" and it's really cute.)

Tony got in line to order and Mabel and I scoped out a bench because it was waaaaay too hot to sit outside and DQ got rid of their seating with their last renovation (Why, DQ? Why?). Immediately Mabel was concerned, and started craning her neck, looking for Baba. I assured her that Baba was bringing her ice cream soon and she threw her arms around my neck and hugged me so tightly and I want that memory seared into my brain because, this is what being a mom feels like.

Then Tony arrived with the ice cream and I removed the little paper that is always wrapped around the cone because Mabel refuses to eat her ice cream with "garbage." It's just been the last few ice cream outings that Mabel's been able to eat a whole ice cream by herself and she was not happy with Tony when he took the cone from her and licked a few drips. 

I took out my phone and said, "Smile!" and the above photo is the result and even though I'm the only one without a fake smile, I love it because our happiness is real—all three of us.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

thoughts on blogging... or not.

I blame these two for my year long sabbatical from blogging ;)

I guess I've inadvertently joined the ranks of women who stop blogging after having children. It's been over a year since the last time I blogged and that was a recap of 2017, four months into 2018.

I've been missing writing—in my journal or here—so I'm toying with the idea of starting this blog back up again but I'm not sure for a number of reasons:

Time / I can't say I don't have the time because I firmly believe that we make time for what's important to us. So, in all honesty, I'm just not sure I have enough motivation or desire to blog. There are so many other things I could be doing. (But really, I should spend less time on my phone.)

Will anyone even read it? / I know I still read blogs, but who else does? (I guess you, if you're reading this). We all know that according to the internet, blogging has died. People are hanging out on Instagram and even if you click over to a blog post, there's not (as) much engagement happening there. Of course, I also am of the mind that I'm not necessarily blogging for you (the general "you"), but for myself—to have a record of my life, my thoughts, and to just practice writing. But then I ask myself... should I just be writing in my journal?

Creating vs. Consuming / I think I've written about this somewhere before, probably on Instagram, but I think a lot about creating vs. consuming. I think I'm in a season of life where I'm consuming a lot of things (social media, television, books, podcasts) but am not creating because I'm just not sure I have the desire, bandwidth, space, etc. There is so much quality content out there and I wonder if I have anything of value to contribute.

Community / Part of what I love about social media is the community it creates (when it is used mindfully and with kindness). This is connected to time, because I wonder if my time would be better spent "hanging out" on Instagram, commenting on people's posts, replying to stories. I've always loved Instagram, but I seem to love it even more in the time right after I've had a baby. Life with a newborn means spending a lot of time on the couch and in bed—cuddling and feeding that baby—and I love connecting with other moms who are experiencing similar events and feelings.

Phew! This is a lot of rambling but it feels good to get it out here. I think I'll be back in this space soon. Maybe regularly, maybe not. For now, would you mind answering a few questions for me?

Do you still read blogs (other than this one)? Which blogs do you love to read? What would you like to see me blog about? 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

a look back at 2017.

Sharing this in May isn't too bad when you consider the fact that I didn't share my look back at 2016 until August. (It's really important to me to have this record, even if it's shared a few months late.)

Also, can I point out that although Mabel wasn't born until the end of May 2017, this recap could alternatively be called "The Mabel Show" or "The Year of Mabel."

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
Ate pomelo. Flew over the Alps. Subscribed to Spotify. Gave birth. Breastfed. And a whole bunch of other stuff related to being a first-time mom.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for this year?
I didn't make a new year's resolution for 2017. I kind of made resolutions for 2018: 1) Drink more water. 2) No more unnecessary "haha" and "lol" in messages.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Me! And so did a bunch of friends and acquaintances.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
Malta! (I should write a proper recap post.)

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Sleep, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen any time soon.

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
May 25 because it's Mabel's birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I almost said: Having a natural birth with no meds. But then I realized, this isn't the biggest achievement. I'm proud that I followed my intuition and stayed strong for myself while I was in the hospital. Doctors and midwives and nurses told me that it wasn't my water that broke when it was, one of them pressured me to get an epidural even though I had made it clear I wanted to try not to get one, and more... I was my biggest advocate during labour and birth and since, and THAT is my biggest achievement. (I'm also proud that Mabel is thriving and happy, and that I've exclusively breastfed her.)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Same as the last four years: Getting caught up in the little things. Gossip, small arguments turned into small fights, overthinking everything. When will I learn? 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm on a two-year pretty healthy streak! Knock on wood! I am never this healthy! I'm guessing not being with 25 germ-carrying kiddos every day is helpful ;)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Anything that has made our lives easier. We have someone come and clean for us once a week and someone who cooks for us twice a week. And coffee.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Probably food and drinks, and from that, probably eating out and ordering in, and coffees. I go for walks to get coffee often.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Mabel! (I think this was probably obvious.)

14. What song will always remind you of 2017?
"I Choose You" by Sara Bareilles because for a long period of time, it was the only thing that was guaranteed to calm Mabel down when she got inexplicably fussy. (Fun fact: It was also the song I walked down the aisle to.)

15. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Happier in some ways, sadder in others. Thinner because I'm not pregnant. Hmm I think probably neither; we haven't saved much, but we haven't spent much.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Same as last year and the year before: Enjoying the moment.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Same as last year and the year before: Worrying, always. (Guys, I'm sensing a pattern.)

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Malta with Tony and Mabel and Alanna! We watched all the Jaws movies and ate delicious vegan food.

19. What was your favourite TV program?
I don't think I got into any new TV shows, but kept up with old faves: The Crown, This Is Us, and Grey's Anatomy.

Edit: Stranger Things! How could I forget Stranger Things?!

20. What were your favourite books of the year?
From looking at Goodreads, I know that I read 52 books in 2017 and my faves were The Book Thief, Great with Child, Dreamland Burning, A Piece of the World, and Beartown.

21. What were your favourite films of the year?
I'm sure I watched movies in 2017 and I'm sure some of them were great, but I don't remember them. Is there a website to keep track of this like I keep track of books on Goodreads?

22. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 28 and my birthday was so simple and so perfect: I spent the day with Mabel, we went out for lunch with Tony, Melissa came over for dinner and we ordered food and played Super Nintendo. The weekend after my birthday I went out for brunch with friends and had many desserts!

23. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less worrying and more sleep.

24. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
2017 was for maternity clothes and anything nursing-friendly.

25. What kept you sane?
Sometimes Tony, sometimes friends, fellow moms, and time alone.

26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
You know more than you think you do. Also, sleep can make a lot of things better.

P.S. A look back at 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.
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