Sunday, June 29, 2014

Parenting month 44: 2 adults and 2 kids

Two parents and two carriers
There are four of us

This month was notable for a slightly uncoordinated grandparent shift change, so there was a two week period where no grandparents were around, and we became the classic two parents, two kids nuclear family.  And we were in the midst of a traditional one-month confinement, so we had to figure out how to do things and keep the three year old from tearing up the house (as active three year olds who stay indoors will do naturally).  One week of full time day care helped, and T joined daddy on a few father-son outings.  One of those outings was participating in a Red Cross shelter operations training exercise, where he got lots of praise for being a very well behaved three year old; including following daddy from station to station, listening to instructions, role playing a three year old shelter resident, generally entertaining himself during most of the practicums, and taking an active role in the shelter setup station.

T is generally a well behaved three year old. Preschool reports he follows instructions, and now he plays and talks with the other kids and the staff.  His name also is showing up as part of the estimation game (the teachers show the kids in the jar, and some of the kids call out their guesses as to how many things there are which the teachers record, I think between 1/3~1/2 of the kids make guesses).  And of course, he likes going on outings with parents, but he tends to freeze when interacting with others in public. We think that it is a feeling of security issue, if he is secure with us, he will interact, but in different or more exposed environments he gets scared and closes up/freezes.

AY is in her second month. Given that we only have one other child to compare her to, we think that she is quite active.  Her eyes seem to track, arms and legs are being experimented with, and arms seem to go in the same general direction as the eyes. And she has a range of facial expressions. T likes to announce when AY smiles at him.  She has also figured out that when she is in a rocker/bounce seat, kicking makes the whole thing rock. She has the same expression on her face when taking a bath, if she kicks hard enough, the water splashes out of the tub (and usually onto whoever is giving her the bath). Her first experiences of being able to manipulate her environment :-)

Recent research says you should read to newborns.
Recently published research says we should read to newborns.
The other thing with reaching a second month is that there is now a difference between the normal discomfort of being out in the world and specific discomfort.  So AY now has a proper infant cry when she is hungry (which is different than a dirty diaper or sleepy), and she has a very good pair of lungs, just like her brother (proper as a progeny of parents who have run marathons).  And like her older brother, we have noticed the coming of rashes. But this time we know it is diet so the next phase is to see if we can do better than the first one in limiting the suffering (all around).

Next months big thing, the whole family is here!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

First try at gardening: seedlings

Planting parsley and oregano
Adding soil for seeds

This was my first time trying to garden.  The real motivation for doing this was to give my son something to watch grow over the summer. Which means we start in winter/spring. Since I did not care too much about how successful this was, we started from seeds.

First sprout of a marigold
First seedlings
Lesson 1: Using egg shells really does not gives seeds much room to start.

I started seeds in egg shells.  First mistake was not filling them to the top with soil.  In hindsight, the soil in the egg shells gives the seeds room for roots and also protects the seeds from shock.  About 2-3 weeks into it, just as the first seeds started germinating, they got moved outside to be shocked in preparation for transplant, which pretty much killed my entire first batch of seeds :-(

When I finally got some ready for transplant, the problem was that the roots did not have much room to grow in the shell, so I was essentially transplanting a bare plant and roots.  So I probably lost a pretty large portion of these.  One thing that worked better was transplant into a small container that had a few inches of depth, then plant them.  One other thing I would do next time is to put 2-3 seeds per shell, under the understanding that 1 will survive the transplant process.  More than that gets crowded.

Lesson 2: if using egg cartons (or anything else that gets transplanted into the new container, punch holes in the bottom and sides to give water and roots room to a way to get out of the container.

When things got transplanted to small containers (mason jars or something else) they started to grow fast. In particular, the mason jars that I transplanted into (usually 3 egg shells each) quickly got overcrowded, and I ended up pulling out about half of them to transplant outside.

The main destination for these various herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary and marigolds for variety) was to go in a container garden in the backyard. My containers were built around a tomato, some pepper, and a strawberry plant. Each got an assortment of seedlings that were grown from eggshells.  So at this point, they are all established.  The ones with the tomato are suffering because the tomato is growing very well (and sucking up water and light).  I probably have the pepper container a little crowded (I've been pulling oregano out to make more room.)  And there are a few things that I've been planting in our unused front, just to see how they survive.  And there are a few herbs that we are growing inside, just so they are easier to look at (and we are starting to harvest from these)

Tomato and peppers in containers.  Peppers are newly staked using bamboo.
Tomato and pepper containers

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Parenting month 43: And now there are two

Are you my brother?
Are you my brother? Are you my sister?
The big new development of the month was the arrival of a sibling. As the ge-ge (big brother), T has been a very good helper. Enthusiastically getting diaper and breastfeeding supplies and disposing of the results as needed. Reading books to mei-mei (little sister), taking pictures, even playing the violin.

Of course there are other developments over the past month. T has gotten much more verbal and social at pre-school and at home. Part of this is normal development (it was going to happen eventually as he got more comfortable), and part of this is having to compete for attention at home. You can hear and feel it when T is in the house. Being more verbal has lead to a marked improvement in his assessment at preschool. It may not be as much as he is more capable (well, he is somewhat), but he know can let the staff know that he knows things like his numbers, letters, and can express them. In addition, he interacts more with the other preschoolers. When I go pick him up he is playing dolls or dress up or building things with the others. And, of course, there are still things to build and measure around the house.

Measuring the finished folding workbench
Measuring the work table

AY is settling into her new home.  She is doing the traditional newborn responsibilities of eat, poop, sleep, and cry ably.  She also has her time of quiet wakefulness, noted by continuous motion of arms and legs when she is awake and content.  Other than the standard newborn issues of thrush and reflux, all is well.

Grandma meets granddaughter
Grandma meets granddaughter

Next thing up is a grandparent shift change.  Mom is taking the traditional one month of confinement, but lau-lau and yeh-yeh have returned to China for a brief period.  Khun Bu and Khun Yaa are on their way, but it will be a couple of weeks without them, so we will be the two parent - two child household for a while.  Good thing that both academics are on a lighter schedule for the summer.