Travelling across the world alone with a toddler!

HI!! It’s been a while, I know, I know. As usual, my intentions were good, but time got away from me and I haven’t blogged in weeks. Anyway, for Christmas last year, my fabulous husband bought Anna and I tickets to visit Kenai, Alaska, the area where I lived for five years before moving to Taiwan, and where my best friends live. I hadn’t seen them since our wedding nearly three years ago. So I was both highly excited and exceedingly nervous at the thought of over 30 hours (door to door) of travel time ALONE with my 17 MONTH OLD!! I spent hours reading online how others handled their toddlers on planes, and started packing a month in advance. I had lists upon lists! Augh. So stressful. But we had such a beautiful time with friends, it was totally worth it!

We just returned a few days ago, and woke up at 4:30 this morning (hello jet-lag..).. now that we’ve survived, I feel like I can add my experience and advice to the many others out there who may be feeling just as nervous as I to fly (alone or not!) with a young toddler.

Aaron and I took Anna last summer to Cape Cod, a trip of nearly 24 hours, when she was 8 months old. But flying alone with her at 17 months was much different in so many ways. Here’s how it went, and advice I will offer you! Warning: this post is pretty long!

First off, here are some things to consider when you are in the planning stages of your trip (like before you book tickets):

  1. IF you will be flying with a toddler between 1 and 2 years old, PLEASE PLEASE consider buying them their OWN SEAT!!! I cannot stress enough how helpful this will be to you! I would not have even considered going if Anna had been a lap “infant”. Technically, babies under 2 can fly on your lap. However, if you can afford it, please consider buying them a seat, especially if you’re flying alone! Anna at 17 months is so tall and active, that if she’d been on my lap she would have kicked our neighbors the whole way. I would have had no space to really feed her (she’s still breastfed), her feet would have been on the person next to us when she slept, it would have been a nightmare! Also, US based airlines like Delta (we flew Delta most of the way) or United, have modified their planes to fit more seats and the spaces are TINY! I believe we paid 75% of a full priced ticket for Anna’s seat. Please consider it!! 20160407_173856Anna in her own seat! I made sure to call ahead and book windows. Not only could she play with the window, but it made it so she couldn’t wiggle out into the aisle, and she wouldn’t accidentally kick our aisle side neighbor.
  2. After you have booked your tickets, you’ll probably want to consider if you will bring a car seat on board or not (if your toddler has their own seat). I thought about this from all angles, and decided in the end to not bring it. We have a Sit n Stroll (a fabulous contraption that converts from car seat to stroller), but after some research, I found it would be hard to fit on most of our flights, and we actually didn’t need it on the other end (our friends had a car seat). I decided it would just be one more thing to handle. Also, Anna isn’t used to it and I don’t think she would have slept well in it. However, if your baby sleeps well in their car seat, you may want to consider bringing it on board. I noticed other families that did, and their babies did very well.
  3. After I booked our tickets, I also called the airline to request baby/children meals. Our first leg of the trip (Taipei to Seoul) was on Korean Airlines. They were very friendly to us! This was the baby meal:      20160407_142354Anna’s a little old for purees, but she ate them anyway. Korean Air also gave us a Tayo toy! All our other flights were on Delta, and though I didn’t snap photos, I wasn’t impressed with their kid’s meals and Anna didn’t eat them. However, thinking it would be healthier, I ordered vegetarian meals for me (when I called ahead), and they were SO MUCH better than the yucky processed meat meals everyone else ate! We also got our food about 1/2 hour before everyone else by having “special requests”. So you may want to keep that in mind too!

 

Ok! So you’ve got your trip all booked! Now you need to pack! Whoo boy. I gave A LOT of thought to what bags to bring (carry on), since I would be travelling by myself. I considered all the options and angles: stroller and backpack? Ergo and rolling bag? But a rolling bag wouldn’t fit under the seat and I’d need things, so rolling bag and diaper bag? All my stuff won’t fit in a backpack, AAH!? Yes, I stressed out. In the end, I chose to NOT bring a stroller (extra thing to fiddle with), and carry Anna in the Ergo in the airport. I also chose to bring a rolling carryon, and my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. This way, I could keep the most necessary items in the diaper bag under the seat, stow the carry on overhead, and reload the diaper bag as needed during layovers. This worked pretty well, except I kept trying to stuff more things in the diaper bag so it eventually became overloaded at some point in the trip. DSC_0147Here’s what the whole setup looked like.

Packing for 30 hours of travel for a toddler is daunting. You need to consider diapering, clothes, sleep items, entertainment items, snacks, and toiletry items. Here is a breakdown of how I did it:

DIAPERING: I packed 12 diapers. 3 of them were overnight pull-ups (in case one of the planes didn’t have a changing table- I could change her standing on the toilet. Never had to, though). I also packed 30 wipes in a travel case in the diaper bag, and a backup pack in the carryon. Didn’t have to reload at all. I did NOT bring a changing pad. I did order a small plastic bag dispenser for dirty diapers from iherb.com. This came in handy for all kinds of trash, and it clipped on to the diaper bag.

CLOTHES: I packed one extra outfit (top/pants/socks) in the outside pocket of the carryon. I packed a pair of footed,zip jammies in the carryon as well. I changed her into jammies on our nighttime flight. I also packed an extra t shirt for me in the carry on. I also packed an extra complete set of clothes in the outside pocket of my checked suitcase. This way if I had an emergency need for more clothes, when I picked up my suitcase in customs I could quickly grab it. Also had extra diapers in the outside pocket of checked bag. I didn’t need to use them at all, though. I chose to dress Anna in a long sleeved tee (NOT a onesie with snaps) and light cotton pants for the plane. The reason I did NOT put her in a onesie, is if she had a blowout or a leak, I would only have to change her pants, not her top. Also easier to check for dirty diapers.

SLEEP ITEMS: In addition to the jammies, I had a light flannel blanket, which I also used to cover up a bit while nursing. Anna’s lovey (an Angel Dear blankie), and a small teddy also helped her sleep. I brought two inflatable pillows: one was a large pillow intended to fill the space between the back seat and front seat of a car. It worked alright on the plane (similar to a Fly Tot), but Anna wasn’t quite big enough for it yet. So I checked it in the suitcase on the return flight and didn’t miss it. The other pillow was a small flat inflatable camping pillow from Decathlon. This was a tremendous help to just fill those awkward spaces that make getting comfortable on a plane so difficult. I packed all the sleep items in the carryon, and got them out on the overnight flight.

SNACKS: Anna didn’t actually eat most of the snacks I brought. She nursed so much she wasn’t hungry. However, I packed:  goldfish crackers, teddy grahams, Gerber puffs, rice crackers, vitamin C lollipops, Cheerios, and fruit pouches. Of these, she really only ate the fruit pouches. 13012630_10154187038708982_6500032101310973834_nI also bought some yogurt and banana bread in the airport, which she also ate. So on my return flight, I packed a lot lighter on the snacks and didn’t have a need for more. *note: the fruit pouches were 4oz, ordered from iherb.com. I had them in a separate Ziploc which I pulled out for security. Only when I hit Stateside in Seattle, I had a problem, and had to be patted down because they were .5 oz over the limit. If you bring these, maybe choose the 3.5oz size, or be prepared for a patdown.*

TOILETRY/MEDICINE ITEMS: In my “liquids” bag, I had: saline/contact case; Hyland’s Calm Baby tablets (which I didn’t actually use); Tylenol (for me); moisturizing oil (for me, and Anna both); small toothpaste and brush; No Jet Lag homeopathic tablets, supposedly to help with jet lag, they may have helped? I don’t know. That was pretty much it! I didn’t bring hand sanitizer, instead I packed these in the outside pocket of the diaper bag: DSC_0167I didn’t use them obsessively, but they were much handier than a bottle of sanitizing spray. Especially when you let your kid roam the family bathroom because you don’t want to chase them in the airport:20160407_123806Gross. But it kept her contained for a while. Sigh.

ENTERTAINMENT: This is easily the longest list. Anna went through just about every one of these items. I will list these with photos.

 

-The most popular item I brought was, of course, the iPad! Anna doesn’t get much iPad time, if any, at home, so she was tickled pink to have full reign of it on the plane. She has a pretty good attention span for a toddler. I bought these Hello Kitty toddler headphones on Ebay, and she kept them on for about five minutes at a time. Here are the apps that worked well for her: ‘Little Baby Bum’ nursery rhyme videos; ‘Peekaboo’ series: Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Fridge, Peekaboo Forest, and Peekaboo Presents (you can buy the pack. This is a HUGE hit for toddlers and is highly rated, kept Anna busy for a while! She’s playing Peekaboo Barn in the second photo above); also a lot of the Fisher Price apps kept her busy as well, and are free. All airplanes now come with a USB plug next to the screen in the seatback in front of you, so remember to pack your USB charger cable for your device and you’ll be good to go for the entire flight.

DSC_0154Books. Anna loves to read and be read to. The large book is a ‘lift the flap’ that I bought at Costco. My criteria for books was: 2-3 new ones, 2-3 old favorites, had to be either small or light, and had to be time-consuming to read, the more words and pictures to talk about, the better. These all fit the bill.

Next: STICKY THINGS! These were also a huge hit. Stickers of all kinds, Post Its, Window clings, thick glitter Washi tape, sticker books. Of these, the Post Its and the window clings got the most mileage. Plus: they’re small and light!

Next: Pom Poms. Anna loved these. I used a small plastic container (from Play Dough) and cut a hole in the top. Anna LOVED poking the Pom Poms through the hole. This also got a lot of use.

Next: Felt pieces and Velcro board. I cut various shapes out of colored felt, and then used the ‘hook’ side of Velcro sticker strips to cover a piece of thin cardboard. I attached an elastic band around the back of the Velcro board so I could quickly slide it onto a large book, iPad, tray table or whatever flat heavy surface was around so it wouldn’t slide. Then Anna loved pulling out felt pieces to stick and pull off of the Velcro board. This was also light and small to pack.

Next: small, light ‘Magna Doodle’ style toy, bought from Daiso Japan store. I did have to tape the pen to the back. This was also a big hit.

Next: Pipe cleaners and large buttons to poke them through. Also, colored popsicle sticks with Velcro stickies on both ends to create shapes. Anna enjoyed both of these, but I didn’t take photos of her playing with them.

Next: A few pieces of paper, small notebook, and five double sided crayons (more colors, less space!). Anna is just starting to enjoy coloring, with my help. I also brought a few Ikea finger puppets, but she wasn’t that into those yet.

DSC_0165I made this “wallet” with old cards to put in and out for her to play with too, but I forgot it at home so I can’t say how well she liked it. But I thought it was a good idea. 🙂

DSC_0168I packed most of the activities in a large Ziploc bag in the rolling carryon, and then some of the smaller ones along with a few books, in the outside pocket of the diaper bag. I rotated them out on layovers, and on our long flight, I simply pulled out the Ziploc activity bag before putting the carryon overhead, and it fit into the seatback pocket. That stretchy keychain was also fun for Anna to play with in a pinch. This system worked very well, and she went through EVERY SINGLE activity at least a few times on our flights. Whew!

And if you’re lucky, your child’s favorite activity will be this:

13051672_10154187038848982_2383705786975174141_n

This was not Anna’s favorite activity on the plane, though she did take a few catnaps due to total exhaustion, she had trouble staying asleep longer than an hour and usually her catnaps were about 30 minutes. Sigh. So I was glad I had adopted the motto “Prepare for Anna to stay awake the ENTIRE 30 hour trip” and packed all those things for her to do!

I would also add, this should be logical, but if you have time during layovers, let your toddler blow off some energy running around in the airport.

20160407_114215(0)This was easy enough here in the Taipei airport, but in Seoul and Seattle, there were SO many people that I actually just let Anna stretch her legs in the family bathrooms because I couldn’t really keep track of her well while pulling our carryons. I did practice a bit with a “toddler leash” thing at home, and she wasn’t very happy with it.

Preparation goes a long way, a good attitude goes even longer, and the flights will not last forever! I suggest that although you may be nervous, try to see your travel time as a grand adventure, adopt a good attitude, and your child will pick up on that. It WILL be exhausting, no matter how prepared you are. But it will not last forever. 🙂

Please comment if you have any other questions about our trip or want to know where I bought any of the above items! Thanks for reading and good luck to you in your travels, wherever you may be!

Advertisements

Adventures in Christmas

Happy 2016, all!

Well, we finished out our 2015 well, I believe, and though I always say I’d like to keep up on the blog,  I realize I’m averaging one post every three months or so, my goal has always been once a week (hahahahahahaha), so we’ll see how it goes this year!

I’m starting off my Year of Blogging Regularly (again..hahahahaha) with some thoughts on Christmas.

I have very strong and fond memories of Christmas with my family in Suriname during my childhood. At the end of November, I recall the excitement rising, as the trees and lights went up around the city, Christmas music wafted through every store, and events were planned. Our home was always one of the first to have up the decorations, as my father was a superb decorator and loved Christmas. We always had a huge pile of gifts under the tree, and a big delicious Christmas dinner, and it just always felt so happy and peaceful. The Christmas service at our church was warm and joyful, as we celebrated Christ’s birth together. And of course, following Christmas was New Year’s, which in Suriname was also a holiday that was highly celebrated.

So, since leaving home and striking it out on my own, Christmas has always been the one time of year that I strive to recreate those memories wherever I am, sometimes with better results than others. I recall a couple of Christmases in college where I was able to go home and it was amazing, one Christmas in college where I visited a friend’s family in Alaska and made some strong friendships, but spent Christmas day shivering and sick with a cold, Christmases in Taiwan figuring out how to celebrate a holiday that made me so homesick when I had to work on Christmas Day and was figuring out life in general in a foreign country.

And now I have a family of my own, with a tiny daughter, who while she won’t remember these early Christmases of her life, has made me really think about the memories I want her to have and traditions I’d like to start with her. Last year, I spent Christmas day at home with my tiny newborn, as Aaron had to work, and it didn’t feel very special, warm, or joyful at all. I struggled with homesickness and isolation, as I tried to remember that Christmas isn’t about gifts, a beautiful home, parties, or food. I tried to have joy in celebrating Jesus’ birth, but I was wallowing too deep in feelings of self-pity to turn my focus on anything else.

I also remember last year, deciding that now that I had my own home, I wanted to host an annual dinner party, and invite some friends who also were far away from their families at this time of year, to bless them and share with them the joyful Christmas feeling that I so desperately was trying to hold on to.  Other friends helped bring food too, we exchanged some gifts, and though it was a beautiful party, I still struggled with feeling sorry for myself because my family was so far away and I felt so alone.

This year, I did the typical Christmas planning and purchasing of gifts for Aaron, Anna, family and friends afar, and friends in Taiwan. I went to Ikea and bought some new decorations. I strategically placed our tiny Christmas tree on a table out of Anna’s (now 14 months) reach, and reach she did, but she could not touch the tree (mommy win!). I put up lights, I bought some essential oils to make my house smell Christmassy, and I thought long and hard about what I wanted my daughter to remember about our Christmases as a family.

Of course it’s fun to receive gifts, eat good food, and spend time with family and friends. But I know those aren’t the things that should make Christmas so joyful. Of course my highest hope for Anna is that she grows to understand God’s love for her, His gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, her need for a savior, and that she places her faith in Jesus and trusts Him with her whole heart. I hope that I can make future Christmases more about Jesus and less about our beautiful home, gifts, and food. I’d like to teach her that because we’ve been given the greatest gift of all in Jesus, that’s why we like to bless others with gifts to show them love. I’d like to find opportunities for service to place the focus on loving others the way Jesus loved us. I don’t want Christmas to turn into a “what am going to get this year?” kind of thing for her.

Though she did receive way too many gifts (mostly stuff I’d picked up for her throughout the year, then I rotated her old toys out on Christmas day), I’m already thinking about how I can make next year different, when she’ll be able to understand things just a little bit more. I want Christmas to be about celebrating Jesus and loving others.

I did have another Christmas dinner party this year, and was reminded the day before (when I was doing my typical stress out over the food and perfection of my home), why I was hosting this dinner party. Was it to show off my home? Was it to let everyone know how well I can cook? Was it to get gifts? No, none of those things. I wanted to bless our friends with a warm, inviting, comfortable environment, to enjoy food and fun and togetherness when we’re all so far from our families, and just show them love, because God has so loved and blessed our family.

So I sighed a little sigh when some of my dishes didn’t turn out just right, shrugged, and put them on the table anyway, remembering that it wasn’t about the food. I reminded myself not to worry about what people thought, or the dirty dishes, the crumbs on the floor, and just relax and enjoy this time with friends. And it was great! I had so much fun!

In summary, I’m learning what I want to focus on during these holidays, how I can teach Anna and raise her to make Jesus her focus, not only on Christmas but every day of the year. It’s kind of hard because she’s only 1 and barely understands “come here!”, but I do see her learning new things every day, even if it’s just how a door opens and closes or how to spear a french fry on a fork. She watches Aaron and I. Are we making Jesus our focus? Because what we do is what she will learn. Yikes!!

Christmas this year (oh wait — last year!! Happy New Year!) was beautiful. We did go a little overboard on gifts as I’m prone to do, but I didn’t feel depressed or lonely or homesick. And I think the more I learn to place the focus of the holidays on sharing the love of Jesus with others, as I try to teach Anna to be kind and generous and loving as well, Christmas in our home will grow to be a beautiful time of sharing and blessing, as we celebrate the greatest gift of all. I hope.

On a side note, a couple of weeks before Christmas, is my birthday. And this year (again -LAST YEAR! Happy New Year!!) Aaron planned a tiny surprise party for me, the first surprise party I think I’ve ever had! Good job, Aaron. I jumped out of my skin. I learned later that it took him THREE WEEKS of planning, cutting out letters for the happy birthday banner, making designer party hats for all the guests, doing all this after I went to bed at night. I got a good one!

Well, I hope you all had a joyful Christmas as well, and I will do my best to keep posting throughout the year. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Adventures in Surviving the First Year of Motherhood

Well, hello there. It’s been, oh…. What, 7 months since I last wrote a blog post? Oh bad, silly me. I had visions of being one of those Pinterest perfect, put together, blog about all my perfect momness kind of stay at home mom. My house stays mostly clean, but otherwise, hahahahahahaha….. Perfect momness! Pinterest! You know, I actually Googled “snacks for baby playdate” once, and got these Pinterest links for like, homemade fruit roll ups in perfect tiny mason Jars with ribbons tied around them, what?!?!? I pulled out some of our crumbly leftover baby mum mums and called it good.

Anyway,Anna’s first birthday is in two weeks, so congratulations to her but mostly congratulations to ME!  She’s healthy, happy, toddling around (she figured out how to walk a couple of weeks ago), playing with anything and everything, a very normal one year old in every way. But I feel like this year was a major accomplishment for me! I survived on 4-6 hours of sleep a night for a whole year! I survived approximately 361,223 rounds of Jesus Loves Me sung before every nap and bedtime! I survived baby mealtimes that sometimes involved pureed peas or other similar goopyness being launched through the air and into my hair. Or mouth. I survived cloth diapering and  breastfeeding (still going on both!).  I kept my precious bundle safe from launching herself down the stairs (baby gate win!), launching herself off the bed, launching herself off anything, really, also from getting fingers caught in drawers, hitting her head on just about anything there is, grabbing dangerous items off countertops I thought she couldn’t reach, etc. I basically saved her life like 578 times this year. Give or take.

So, in honor of my first year of motherhood, here are a few things I’ve learned this year. Here goes:

  1. Coffee is precious. So much more precious than I ever thought before having a baby. Guard the coffee. Make time for the coffee. All The Things will be better with coffee.
  2. Diapers are gross. I thought diapering my sweet little treasure’s precious bum bum in the cutest cloth diaper prints would be so much sweeter (and healthier, eco-friendly, cost effective, yada yada etc etc), than those Nasty Disgusting Evil Disposables. It turns out all diapers are gross, because poop is gross. We have used mostly cloth with some disposables for travel and the occasional bad diaper rash. I did not anticipate scraping the world’s worst Spinach Poo (worse than all the Poos) into the toilet when I lovingly folded her clean fluffy cute cloth diapers in the nursery at 7months pregnant. Cloth diapers are great. Disposables also work. Poop is gross.
  3.  Babies do not just fall asleep when they need to sleep. Well, they do, mostly, until like one or two months old. Then it’s like, nope! Hey mom! Guess what?! You have to HELP me learn to sleep! What? You thought I’d just fall asleep on my own like magic? Hahahahahahaha… (that in Anna’s voice, of course). We finally have a great sleep routine. But it was a lot of work, trial and error, sleepless nights, crying (both me and Anna!).
  4. Once a sleep routine is established, Guard The Sleep!!!! Guard it with all your might!!!! Fun friends want to party with you on Saturday night? Sorry, nope! I’m Guarding the Baby’s Sleep. Coffee meet up at 10am? Sorry, nope! I Must Guard The Baby’s Sleep. Maybe some babies are good on the go nappers. Mine is not. She is The Worst when her sleep times are disrupted too much. So we Guard the Sleep.
  5. Pureed meat is disgusting.
  6. Baby’s first steps are without a doubt the most precious thing you’ll ever see.
  7. Baby’s first time to say “mommy” and “daddy” may sound more like “Maaaaaa. Nanana ” and “didi”. That’s OK.
  8. Babies love toys. They also love spoons, bowls, sponges, purses, diapers, pants, stroller wheels, shoes (Oh goodness do they love shoes), foam floor mats, vacuum cleaner hoses, potted plants, boxes, buttons, PlayStations, cell phones, potatoes, wipes, and many other non toy items. Don’t go overboard buying toys.
  9. The support of other mommies is essential. Don’t be a Lone Ranger Mommy. Bad idea. If you don’t have other mommy friends, do whatever you can to make some.
  10. If the baby skips a “solid” meal because suddenly she hates oatmeal when she loved it yesterday, or if the baby refuses to nurse because her tooth hurts, or if the baby just chews on her sippy cup and won’t drink water, or if the baby just picks up the Puffs and drops them on the floor because she doesn’t know how to finger feed herself at 10 months, IT’S OK!! Baby will not starve to death. Baby will not be a 21 year old who can’t drink from a cup. Baby will survive.

THese are just ten of the things I learned this year. There are sooo many more. But overall, it’s been a fantastic year. And I’m so grateful and overwhelmed at how blessed we are with little Anna. I love being her mom. Ups and downs, all worth it.

Happy birthday, Anna! And happy first momiversary, me!

Adventures in sleep training, rice cereal, and visits from Grandparents!

Ok. Well, the title of this blog post is a little cheesy, I’ll admit it. But since I’ve committed to titling everything “adventures in…” I had to think of something. And in my defense, I’m currently suffering a huge and awful allergy attack that has stole my brain and is why I’m typing this post instead of cleaning something. Anyway!

Again, and again, I apologize for Not Having Blogged in a Very Long Time. I have started a YouTube channel for our family, and have uploaded some random and not at all in any order, vlogs. Yay me. And then I kind of forgot I had a blog. Oops. But now, I Have Remembered. And I ought to catch up a little, I guess!

Anna is now five months old. What what?!?!?! I’ve successfully kept a tiny human alive and happy for five whole months??!?! 😀 She is SUCH an EASY baby! I say this, as I’ve been reading forum after forum, mommy blog after mommy blog, in my Quest to Not Feel So Isolated as a Stay at Home Mom, and I’ve concluded that my baby is the Best.

Let’s start with sleep. This precious baby, my wondermous daughter, spoilt her father and I by starting to sleep through the night (and by through the night, I mean 10-12 hours!!!) at about 2 months old! Prior to that, she’d wake up to eat and then go straight back to sleep. She’d fall asleep for naps throughout the day as she was tired. So it never occurred to me to put her down for naps. She slept in my arms, her bassinet, the bouncer, the sofa, the car seat, the swing, wherever. It. Was. Awesome! Then when she started sleeping so long at night, I freaked out, spent an afternoon Googling “is it ok for my two month old to sleep 12 hours straight?” and concluded I was very lucky. She did this for a month.

THEN, she suddenly didn’t want to fall asleep just anywhere anymore. So around three months, I thought, hunh. Maybe I ought to establish a naptime. So I Established A Naptime. And she slept fine at the Established Naptime, in her bassinet, with the Established Naptime Routine. Great! I felt like SuperMommy.

Well, then at about three and a half months, so only like two weeks later, Anna decided she didn’t like Established Naptime. She also decided to wake up and cry during the night three or four times. This was right around the time my parents came to visit! They flew halfway across the world to visit their first and only grandchild, and then said grandchild was horribly grumpy and overtired the whole week. GRrr… Anyway, side note here, that was a wonderful week! Mom and Dad LOVED seeing Anna and even though she was a grumpy gus, she still had enough moments of Charm to get some good photos. 🙂 I’ll put in some photos at the end of the post.

Anyway, long story short, after reading five books on baby sleep (Yes! Five!) and countless articles online, I decided that I must sleep train. This involved choosing a consistent wake-up time, establishing three set naptimes, a naptime routine that didn’t involve nursing (sadness and sorrow, but Anna just wasn’t nursing to sleep anymore and would get all mad when I’d have to put her down in her crib, then when she’d finally fall asleep after all that, she’d wake up 20 minutes later all mad that I wasn’t still nursing her. Boo…), and weaning her off the swaddle.

I tried a few gentle methods of training her to fall asleep on her own, but my presence in the room with her didn’t really seem to calm her down. What I found actually worked, was just letting her cry and fuss by herself. It sounds awful, but she actually never screamed herself into a tizzy (well, once, yes. That nap never actually got taken), but I think she just needed to let off steam for a bit before falling asleep. She would fuss and babble for up to half an hour, then drop off to sleep, usually for about 45 minutes.

Now, she takes three naps a day, nap routine takes about 10 minutes, she babbles to herself for about 10 minutes, and sleeps beautifully. 45 minutes in the morning, 2 hours in the early afternoon, and 45 minutes in late afternoon, bedtime at 7 pm. I couldn’t be happier! However, I’m not holding my breath that this Will Last Forever. Her next naptime could be the worst ever. For now, I’m just thankful for every successful nap. She wakes up happy and cheerful, and we’re all much more relaxed. Sigh..

She started teething a couple of weeks ago, too! She has two bottom teeth poking through, though not all the way out yet. Last week, she figured out how to roll over. And a little over a week ago, we started her on rice cereal!

I decided to start her on it because when I’d eat dinner, I’ve been putting her in her highchair to get her used to it, and she’d play with her stuffie. But two nights in a row, when I was eating dinner, she watched me greedily. She watched EVERY BITE! and she screamed. She screamed, she made chewing motions with her mouth, she reached for my food, she shoved her stuffie in her mouth then flung it away, apparently in disgust that it wasn’t Real Food. So I thought, hmm… maybe she’s ready to try eating from a spoon…

So when I fed her for the first time in her highchair, I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting a large sticky mess and I definitely wasn’t expecting much cereal to actually get inside of her. But she actually ate about half of the cereal, and the other half didn’t get finished. But her bib was fairly clean, and she figured out how to open her mouth to take the spoon. And now, a week later, we give her cereal at dinnertime once a day, and she eats it all (we put a pinch of cinnamon in it and she loves that!), and most of the time, her bib and highchair are still clean afterwards! I guess she was ready. 😀

So lots of big Anna Adventures lately! I feel so blessed to have such an easy baby. I’ve been thinking a lot though about my role as a ‘Stay at home mom’. Right now, I teach two nights a week, so I’m practically a full time stay at home mom. Next year, I won’t be teaching at all. I had a friend come over one evening after I put Anna down at 7pm, and Aaron was at work until 9pm. She asked me “So what do you do all evening after Anna goes to bed without Aaron?” I know it was a harmless question, but it still threw me off. I think I said something about watching Netflix, which is retrospect was dumb because I almost NEVER watch Netflix!! What I usually do in that window of time is eat my dinner (because I didn’t have time earlier to do it), and take a shower!

So I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a stay at home mom, and considering this is now my job. Aaron considers it my job too. And it IS a job! Even though I only have one relatively easy baby, there are so many other things to consider in running a household, especially if you want to do it well.

My responsibilities include not only taking care of Anna (feeding, playing, changing, putting to sleep, watching, comforting, etc.), but also managing the home so Aaron only needs to go to work and not worry about stuff here (except bringing up the water jug. That thing is HEAVY!). Things like cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. I want our family to eat healthy yummy meals, so that means I cook 6/7 days of the week. This involves finding recipes, menu planning, shopping accordingly, budgeting accordingly, hauling the groceries home, meal prep, actually cooking, getting the dinner to Aaron at school, and cleaning up. I also have a cleaning schedule where I do a different area of the house each day. But that’s the big cleaning things. Stuff like dishes, counters, sweeping, general straightening, those things get done every night after Anna goes to bed.

I also do all the laundry, at least one load a day, which involves not only starting the wash, but hauling it up four flights of stairs, hanging it up, taking down and folding dry clothes (I hate piles so I always do this immediately) and since we’re cloth diapering, it also involves stuffing the pocket diapers (also done immediately depending on Anna’s mood).

I do have at least one naptime where I’m caught up or have a pocket of “free” time, and this usually I spend reading stuff online, eating my lunch, lesson planning (if it’s a Monday or Thursday) for that evening’s class, or in the case of today, blogging. 😀 Occasionally I’ll take a nap with Anna, but usually that makes me feel more groggy because it’s too short for me. Heh.

Anyway, this post is becoming way too long, but sometimes I feel guilty for being a stay at home mom, like I should be doing something “real”, etc. But I think a stay at home mom is a real job! At least, it is for me! So I’m currently working on getting over the guilt I feel sometimes. And I will learn how to appropriately answer questions like “What do you do all day?” from those who perhaps don’t understand how taking care of a baby and running a house is actual work.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings! Here are some pictures! 😀

Play time! She likes this floor gym, but gets mad that she can't pull the toys off and eat them.

Play time! She likes this floor gym, but gets mad that she can’t pull the toys off and eat them.

DSC_0454

She’s gotten very good at tummy time, especially now that she can get over on her tummy by herself. But she still can’t move or scoot around. She’s pretty much just stuck wherever she is.

DSC_0582

This was taken at the local park down the road from our house. Old people play golf there. Anyway. Aren’t we cute?

DSC_0631

With proud Grandma and Grandpa from Suriname!

DSC_0656

Anna is delighted about something! What? Who knows!

DSC_0771

They were sad to leave and we were sad to see them go..

IMG_2582

This is one of Aaron’s favorite photos of our family! Go figure. We took it on our Polaroid.

IMG_2580

Anna isn’t too sure about this rubber duckie…

IMG_2581

One of my favorite former students and her brother, who is Aaron’s student. Anna was a little weirded out by all the attention.

IMG_2579

We bought her this walker, although she’s too small to “walk” in it, she can sit in it for short periods of time. She usually just gets mad after a while that she can’t eat the toys on it.

IMG_2578

She’s leaning forward here because she was trying to eat the toys. It’s a recurring theme in Anna’s short life to get mad because she can’t eat stuff.

IMG_2577

Daddy is good at feeding Anna her cereal. She generally has this look on her face while she’s eating. Not sure what it means…

IMG_2537

Playing with stuffies in her highchair!

IMG_2333

Sporting a new tropical outfit that Grandma and Grandpa brought all the way from Suriname!

IMG_2559

Playing on the floor! She had just had one of her immunizations, thus the big bandage. She only cries at the moment of injection, and she has had no side effects from any shots so far. Yeah! Praise God!

IMG_2575

She rolls over so nicely!

IMG_2481

Say what you will about letting a five month old watch Tv, but when it’s been a few days between poopies, without fail, I just pop her in the bouncer in front of Baby Einstein, and voila! A giant blowout. I think it relaxes her. She’s been kinda constipated, so guess what? Today is Baby Einstein day! 😀

Adventures in cloth diapering in Taiwan

Tags

,

We’ve made it! We’re approaching the end of the first week of December, and Anna is five weeks old today. Which means we’ve made it successfully through our first month together! One month of successful cloth diapering and breastfeeding, the two things I was most worried about doing! I knew I could take care of a baby, but before Anna was born I didn’t know how those two things would go, but they were the two things I really, really wanted to do with her. So yay!
Cloth diapering has definitely got its pros and cons, especially here with our set up in Taiwan. As I’ve mentioned before, our washing machine is on the first floor and we don’t have a dryer, so I have to haul the laundry back up to the fourth floor to line dry it on the balcony. That’s not so bad, actually. I put Anna in the baby wrap or leave her with Aaron to run down and start or pick up a load.
Our washer is a nice energy efficient thing, but all the buttons are in Chinese. I know how to start a load, and I have some buttons translated in the manual, but I’ve just been running the cloth diapers on a regular wash the way I do with our normal clothes. I use the Kirkland version of ‘_Tide Free&Clear’ liquid detergent with a scoop of baking soda for odors. It seems to work just fine.
I had stocked up a nice stash of mixed brands of cloth pocket diapers, not knowing what would work, but it turns out that from her first week home, the only brand that really fit her on the smallest setting were the Sunbaby cloth pocket diapers. I had only 12 of those, so I was doing laundry every day and had to supplement with disposables, so I ordered 12 more (free shipping!). I also acquired 10 second hand prefolds, and bought two covers and some Snappis. So between those and the Sunbabys, I have 34 diapers that we’re currently using. I guess I’ll either sell the other ones or keep them in hopes they’ll fit when she’s bigger.
So I run a load of diapers every other day. If there’s a poo, I rinse it off in the bathroom sink first (being exclusively breastfed, it’s not stinky and it’s easily water soluble right now). Otherwise, it goes straight in the bin. I’ve had almost no problems with staining, because I line dry them in the sun.
It’s kinda humid here, and lately it’s been cold and rainy, so the inserts, which are a bamboo/microfiber blend, take kind of a long time to dry. But I have extras so it’s ok. Stuffing the pocket diapers is annoying too, but I manage to get it done on the in between laundry days.
They’re bulky but so cute on her! And I’ve had no leaks of any kind in the pocket diapers, even with massive poos, and only one leak in a prefold (which was also a massive poo). So I had no need to be worried about cloth diapering here in Taiwan. It works just fine! We also use cloth wipes ( really which are just baby washcloths), which I spray with a water/Castile soap/coconut oil solution that I make up, when we use them. It’s saving us a lot of money for a bit of more efforts but worth it to us!
I was also worried about breastfeeding, but that’s going great. I feed her on demand, and she’s able to go 3-4, sometimes 5 hours at night between feedings, in fact last night, I only got up once to feed her! She went down at 11:30, I fed her at 3:30, then she slept straight through til about 8! I’m able to pump a bottle for Aaron on the nights I go to work, (twice a week), and she takes a bottle fine. She’s gaining weight appropriately.
So I’m really very pleased with how we’ve been successful at the two things I was most worried about! Whew. Getting housework done is also getting easier. I have a list in my head of order of priority for house chores: laundry (which includes folding clothes and stuffing diapers), then dishes, then trash. After that, as I have pockets of time, I do stuff like general pick up, sweeping, making the bed, etc. bigger things like vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, get done less often in fact they’ve only been done once since we’ve brought Anna home. Anyway, it’s working alright, my house is not up to my standards of cleanliness yet, but it’s fairly presentable.
I’ve been able to cook a little bit, maybe once or twice a week, with Anna in the baby wrap.
So I feel like we’ve fallen into a kind of routine of sorts, and I’m happy with that! Yay for routines.
We celebrated thanksgiving at our house a couple days after Real Thanksgiving, since everyone but me had to work that Thursday, so we had a few friends over the following Saturday. Everyone brought something, and it was fun, and Anna slept the entire time! She seems to sleep through loud noisy places and events. Every time we take her out, she sleeps. Groups of people come over, she sleeps. But home alone with me, she wiggles around and grunts. Hmph.
Ok, enough typing for today. Here’s some pictures! Because I’m posting this from the iPad, I can’t see the photos to comment, so, there are a few of our cloth diapers hanging in the sun, our diaper setup in her nursery, and Anna in a bulky sunbaby (basket print, one of our less cute ones..), also her bassinet next to the head of the bed where I sleep, she sleeps so well in this little basket! Then, thanksgiving with our friends, and finally Anna in a hat. She hates hats. She takes after me this way. 😀

IMG_1553.JPG

IMG_1609.JPG

IMG_1607.JPG

IMG_1608.JPG

IMG_1568.JPGa

IMG_1601.JPGtime

IMG_1606.JPG

Adventures in having a baby in Taiwan

Whew! Well, it’s been a while! But anyone who’s had a baby will easily excuse my absence from blogging, because, well… a BABY! Having a baby doesn’t leave you a lot of time for things like blogs! But I figured today is The Day that I Must Update The Blog because otherwise it will get longer and longer and we’ll have more and more pictures and it will never get done. 🙂

So, Anna is finally here! Contractions started the morning of Wednesday, October 29th and she was born on Friday the 31st at 3:30 ish in the afternoon (not sure of the exact time..). So it was a long process for me! I progressed very slowly, and verrry painfully, so I’ll spare you the details, but we’re very happy to finally have Anna here!

Being a mom is the most exhausting but most enjoyable thing in the world! As Anna is our first, everything is a challenge because it’s new to us! Figuring out feeding, diapering (we’re cloth diapering which is an extra bit of a challenge!), sleeping, how to get from here to there (we don’t have a car! So we put her car seat in a taxi for places we can’t walk and take her stroller or the Ergo if we need to walk somewhere), etc., etc. We are slowly figuring out what her likes and dislikes are, how to comfort her, etc. etc. Lots of learning going on here! But we’re so in love with her! So I’ll finish up here by sharing some photos of her first couple of weeks.

DSC_1004 Here’s our brand new baby minutes after her birth! All wrinkly and squished!

DSC_1010 Our little family! DSC_1019 Hanging out with mommy!

DSC_1025 After getting cleaned up a little bit!

DSC_1031 Daddy’s first time holding Anna!

DSC_1056 Visitors in the hospital! Students of mine and Aaron’s.

DSC_1065 Ready to take her home! DSC_1096 Anna’s first bath – she wasn’t so excited. But her second bath was much better!

DSC_1113 Sitting cute in the swing! DSC_1123 Burrito baby ready for bed!

Note – she stopped liking the swaddle after about two days. Hrmph.

DSC_1126 Sleeping on mommy – grumpy face.

DSC_1129Sleeping on Daddy – cute face. Hrmph.

SDSC_1169  Sleeping on the sofa! DSC_1178 Anna’s second bath – she liked it a lot more this time around!

DSC_1184 It looks like I’m choking her! But she actually quite likes floating in the water this way. I’m supporting under her arm too.

DSC_1186 Cute post-bath Anna! DSC_1192 She always tries to eat the towel.

DSC_1196  Clean and dressed after the bath!

DSC_1198 Hanging out on the bed in clothes that are way too big because mommy needed to do laundry 🙂

DSC_1200DSC_1201

DSC_1233  Beautiful Anna doing what she does best!

There you go! I’m immensely proud that I managed to upload all these and it only took a few hours in between feedings and fussy baby comforting! 😀

More adventures in being pregnant in Taiwan

Well, I’m trying to be good about bloggering every week, even if I can’t think of a particularly good subject to write about, at least I’ll make it a habit!
As I type this on my iPad ( thus no pictures on this post, iPad wordpress app uploads them weirdly ) , while lying in bed on my left side like the good pregnant person I am ( left side is supposed to be best for baby’s oxygen flow), boy, today was one of those barely functional sort of pregnant days.
I’m 35 weeks today, and just exhausted and so achy and sore in my hips, pelvis and thighs. I think everything’s loosening up for delivery, but it is painful! Last week I had a scare, where Tuesday evening I began feeling a constant achy crampiness just like menstrual crampiness. I barely slept, then the next day I’d arranged to meet my long time friend in Khaosiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, in the south. I couldn’t just not go, I hadn’t seen her in 12 years! She works aboard the missions ship Logos Hope, which was docked there for the week.
So still feeling constant cramps and frequent braxton hicks ( painless contractions), I took a train down and spent the day with her. While walking and moving around doing stuff, I easily put the discomfort out of my mind, though the “menstrual cramp” feeling never went away. On the train home I decided to time my Braxton Hicks contractions, and for two hours, they were 5-6 minutes apart consistently, and with some pain, so when I got home, I drank a lot of water and laid down. But after a couple hours I still had em, so, feeling dumb for perhaps overworrying, I asked Aaron to drive me to labor and delivery for monitoring. This was at about 11pm.
Well, on the monitor, they could indeed see the contractions were regular, and rather strong, regular not being characteristic of Braxton Hicks, so they popped me some tocolytic ( medication to stop contractions) , and sure enough the contractions eased up and they discharged me after a couple of hours with another milder tocolytic to take at home.
I’ve had only normal irregular Braxton Hicks since then, everything looking ok at my doctors appt on Saturday. Though I never had a cervix check to see if the contractions did anything, but I hope that all that fiasco doesn’t mean I’m gearing up for early delivery. The nurses at the L&D at my hospital were very friendly and spoke good English, so I feel nicer about delivering there. I have since packed a bag in case I do go early! But I hope Anna waits a few more weeks. I still have some stuff I want to get done around the house first.
Just tired, achy, and sore now, teaching is more difficult as I waddle up the stairs and bend over to correct books! I need to stop for frequent water breaks. But I plan to keep teaching my evening class ( only twice a week) until I go into labor, as I don’t need bed rest and can’t see any real reason to leave earlier, besides normal discomfort.
I had my baby shower on Saturday, it was lovely and very special after throwing so many for friends over the last ten years, to finally have one for me! It was so nice to be surrounded by my girl friends I’ve met here in Taiwan, having seen them grow and go through a lot of change, and them now celebrating this very new upcoming change for me.
That was about it for my week! This week, my plan is to start working on stocking some freezer meals for after the baby comes. I’m going to rely heavily on the crockpot that first month!
Oh, also last week on Wednesday, the day I had all the contractions, one of Aaron’s students named Anne, her mother passed away. Anne is 8, and has an older brother. Mother’s had cancer for a while, so it’s not a shock, but still sad. However, Aaron’s class has rallied around Anne, forming a prayer group and praying for her every day. That class of little third graders is so spiritually sensitive, and so ready to grow in their relationships with The Lord even at such a young age. Aaron’s done his best over the last two years to teach them about God’s love, Jesus, salvation, and how to follow Him, and he’s seeing some real fruit come of it. It’s a very special time for his class. He’d appreciate your prayers, not only for Anne’s family, but for the continued spiritual growth of his third grade class, and that he can also cultivate that spiritual sensitivity to The Lord with his newer class of first graders. It’s not easy with such a language barrier, but God is definitely at work at our school.
That’s about it, I’m fed up with iPad’s autocorrect now, so I’ll leave you til next time. 🙂 thanks for reading!

Adventures in humility..

Well, today I’m feeling super humbled. And by a 6- piece duvet set, of all things.

20140916-144908-53348307.jpg
This one, to be exact.
This weekend, I was cleaning up and feeling this drive to be all organized and stuff (again, nesting? Who knows?) and it occurred to me it was time to wash our bedding. Then it also occurred to me that I don’t have an extra set of sheets for our bed. Then, it also occurred to me that our bedding didn’t even match and looked kind of messily mismatched, and that got me thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice matching set of bedding like The Real Grown Ups that we are, and not a mishmash of sheets leftover from college days.
Therefore, following up on those thoughts, I made a trip over to the Costco yesterday morning, a short walk down our street, thinking ” I know they have pretty sheet sets and this way I don’t have to drive all over town looking for sheets”. Yay Costco, right? My other option was Ikea, but I just didn’t have the energy (Ikea shopping requires Energy, with a capital E).
Now, Costco in Taichung, or probably all over Taiwan, while a convenient place for us to get things that aren’t available anywhere else, is also a place of much frustration, because the local shoppers there are usually very inconsiderate, parking giant carts wherever they feel like even if it’s smack in front of you, they walk at a snail’s pace, bump into you with their carts, and at 8-months pregnant now, I don’t have the patience for that, but I really wanted new sheets.
So I went. I found the sheets. And I spent about 20 minutes choosing the ones I liked. Happily holding my sheets and the butter I’d also come to pick up, I stood in a long line for about another 15 minutes, giving withering looks to the lady behind me who kept bumping me with her giant cart, and feeling less patient by the second. I was ready to leave when it was my turn to check out.
And then. Then my sheets wouldn’t scan. So they called some help to go check the price, which was clearly labelled. Turns out, I think, that the item wasn’t even in the computer so they couldn’t ring it up at all. So they gestured me to stand aside while they tried to figure it out so I wouldn’t hold up the line. I was feeling super hot and grumpy by this time. Then a supervisor came over and said ” we are having a problem with this item now, you can leave your phone number and we will call you when you can come buy it” , which in my grumpy brain translated to ” you may not buy this item” .
I was angry, like pregnant lady angry. I shook my head, slightly pushed the supervisor and the sheets aside, took my butter, and stormed (rather, waddled) out of Costco, holding back my irrational pregnant lady angry tears.
Well, then I took it further when I got home, to get out my irrational anger over these poor unsuspecting sheets, by writing a not very nice email to Costco Taichung customer service, not really expecting an answer. I also posted a frustrated comment on Facebook, but later deleted it because I felt bad about being so angry.
Well, here’s what happened today. I got a phone call from a girl named Yvonne at Costco. Apparently they’d read that email, and apparently, took it seriously, and she wanted to apologize. Oh, I told her, thank you for calling, but really I should apologize because I shouldn’t have been so angry.
Yvonne says, it’s ok. The supervisor I pushed away yesterday could tell I was angry and felt bad because she really wanted to help me. So the manager ok’d them to give the sheets to me for free. Could they mail them to me?
Gosh, now I felt REALLY bad about my angry grumpiness. I told her, really, it’s ok, I’m pregnant and small things make me feel angry, I shouldn’t have reacted like that.
But anyway. I went in, thinking, I’ll buy the sheets. Really regretting sending that email, because I know it was irrational and I was just venting. But when I got there, Yvonne insisted that they give them to me for free. So out I walked holding this duvet set, now trying to hold back Pregnant Feeling Guilty Tears as opposed to yesterday’s Angry Tears.
And feeling super humbled. I have been so up and down in this pregnancy, one day so happy and productive, the next sad and depressed, the next angry and frustrated at EVERYTHING, and on it goes. And really, the Costco employees were trying to help me and they didn’t do anything to deserve that angry email I wrote.
I had a chance to show some kindness, patience, and understanding yesterday to those employees, and instead I pushed them away with what I only can imagine was a look of pure frustration/anger on my face and walked out. I missed my chance because I didn’t control my emotions. And I don’t feel like I really should blame pregnancy for it.
So now, when I see these sheets on my bed, I hope they remind me to be kind. And to be understanding, and patient, and forgiving. And to control my emotions, even when I’m having a Grumpy Pregnant Day, or soon, a Grumpy and Exhausted New Mom day, and to not take it out on anyone, whether it’s Aaron (who generally gets the brunt of it..), my students, the other customers in a store, employees, coworkers, my daughter, or anyone. I hope these sheets make me think twice about the words I say (or write) in anger when I want to vent.
So that’s my story for today. I’m feeling very humbled. And I’m going to make my bed look pretty and hopefully remember to control myself, especially on those days when nothing feels like it’s going my way. I do have a choice, pregnant or not. And with God’s help, I hope I can learn to treat everyone with kindness, even those people who bump into my 8 month pregnant backside with their giant Costco carts. 🙂

Adventure in preparing for a baby in Taiwan

Tags

, ,

This will be a random and Not Very Organized post. I don’t feel very organized yet, though I feel an almost constant need for organization these days (nesting? or the regular semi-annual ‘Sharon Needs Organization Right Now’ bug?  probably a bit of both…)

I’ve had some more energy than usual today and yesterday, wherein I have done laundry, vacuumed and mopped floors, finished as much as possible Anna’s room, cooked a dinner, kept up with dishes, actually made the bed two mornings in a row, and now I am blogging, and I feel Very Productive. *pats self on back*

We are 32 weeks in this week, I am growing larger by the day it seems, though my weight has been about the same for a few weeks. According to The Internets, I have gained too much weight already though I can’t imagine where it’s going except my stomach, since that’s the only thing getting bigger that I can tell. Besides all the getting biggerness, I have been experiencing some of the more fun effects of being pregnant over the past couple of weeks (and by ‘fun’ I mean ‘not fun at all’). These include: not being able to fall asleep due to hip pain, restlessness, itchiness, baby movement, and general discomfort. Wheee. Also, I’ve developed what The Internet tells me is carpal tunnel, wherein especially at night, my hands and sometimes my arms up to my elbow, will ‘fall asleep’. My hands, especially the left one, feels so swollen I can hardly make a fist when I wake up and it’s just generally very uncomfortable though not painful. I have to try to sleep with my arms straight which is hard since I usually curl one up under a pillow.

But enough of me complaining, because in less than 8 weeks (I hope) it will all be worth it as we welcome our fidgety little girl into our world!

Here is her Wall! Signs are made from scrapbook paper, cardboard, and Modge Podge.

Here is her Wall! Signs are made from scrapbook paper, cardboard, and Modge Podge.

So, I can put up with all the aches and pains for a few more weeks. Well, in other news, this past weekend we had an extra day off (I kind of always have days off, but getting a Monday off means I got an Actual Day Off because Monday is one of my usual teaching evenings), because of Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a huge holiday in China and Taiwan, and though I don’t really know the meaning behind it, it involves a day off, barbecues (not like 4th of July barbecues, mind you… like Taiwanese-style-grill-little-tiny-pieces-of-meat-on-a-tiny-grill-in-front-of-your-house kind of barbecue), moon cakes (which I mostly don’t like, though I do love the green bean ones because they are sweet and flaky and kind of cakey and don’t have an egg yolk in them like the other ones), and fruit. I guess fruit, because we get given fruit every year. This year we got Asian Pears again, they are delicious. I’ve been eating them for breakfast.

Our church had a barbecue, and I took one picture.

We couldn't light our charcoal because we are too White. I just made that up. Really, we'd just never done it. This Taiwanese neighbor with a serious flame thrower thing came and lit for us. It took him a while too, though. Taiwanese charcoal is no joke!

We couldn’t light our charcoal because we are too White. I just made that up. Really, we’d just never done it. This Taiwanese neighbor with a serious flame thrower thing came and lit for us. It took him a while too, though. Taiwanese charcoal is no joke!

And yes, that is a giant watermelon on the ground. It was delicious. The barbecue was in the courtyard of my old apartment building.

Let’s see, what else? Well, as I said, I’ve super organized Anna’s room to the point where I feel ok about her arriving to it now, though she won’t sleep in there for a while.

In true Sharon style, and in honor of my Love For Labels, I have dutifully labelled all her clothes baskets. Our cloth diapers have been washed, sorted, and stuffed neatly into those four flower bins. We'll see how long they stay neatly sorted after Anna arrives...

In true Sharon style, and in honor of my Love For Labels, I have dutifully labelled all her clothes baskets. Our cloth diapers have been washed, sorted, and stuffed neatly into those four flower bins. We’ll see how long they stay neatly sorted after Anna arrives…

I will now insert some random photos from the cell phone, for your viewing pleasure. They are not in order and have nothing to do with each other. Have fun. 😀

This family on a scooter is very typical for Taiwan. I commend them for at least putting helmets on their kids. A lot of parents don't. I've seen parents holding babies in Ergos on the back of the scooter, and sometimes just in their arms. No helmets. Babies. They also don't generally use car seats here, though we will, when we need to take a taxi. We aren't buying a car. But no way is Anna going on a scooter! At least not for a looooong tiiimmmme....

This family on a scooter is very typical for Taiwan. I commend them for at least putting helmets on their kids. A lot of parents don’t. I’ve seen parents holding babies in Ergos on the back of the scooter, and sometimes just in their arms. No helmets. Babies. They also don’t generally use car seats here, though we will, when we need to take a taxi. We aren’t buying a car. But no way is Anna going on a scooter! At least not for a looooong tiiimmmme….

They were out of the dill pickle Pringles, but you can see a picture of it there on the cardboard. For the record, if you ever meet Dill Pickle Pringles, don't buy them. Worst chip EVER! Blech.

They were out of the dill pickle Pringles, but you can see a picture of it there on the cardboard. For the record, if you ever meet Dill Pickle Pringles, don’t buy them. Worst chip EVER! Blech.

I really wanted to take this photo last night when all the neighbors were standing out here with their trash, but I was too chicken to snap a photo of my neighbors. Here is where everyone parks scooters, and outside the gate is where neighbors gather to wait for the trash and recycling trucks to come by at 7:30 pm. It's the strangest way of taking out trash I've ever experienced. After the long holiday weekend where no trash was picked up, last night when the trucks ran again, all the neighbors were out here with GIANT piles of trash and recycling for pickup. I had a little box and one bag. They were amazed at how little trash we made in three days. Heh.

I really wanted to take this photo last night when all the neighbors were standing out here with their trash, but I was too chicken to snap a photo of my neighbors. Here is where everyone parks scooters, and outside the gate is where neighbors gather to wait for the trash and recycling trucks to come by at 7:30 pm. It’s the strangest way of taking out trash I’ve ever experienced. After the long holiday weekend where no trash was picked up, last night when the trucks ran again, all the neighbors were out here with GIANT piles of trash and recycling for pickup. I had a little box and one bag. They were amazed at how little trash we made in three days. Heh.

And last but not least, I will leave you with this loverly image of the baby Anna bump at 32 weeks.

And last but not least, I will leave you with this loverly image of the baby Anna bump at 32 weeks.

There! I’ve done it! Another long blog post for YOU! I know we have a lot of people praying for us and Anna’s arrival, and thank you! In addition, if you think of us, Aaron’s new class of grade 1 students, the Rainbows, is very trying for him this year. He has some frustrating students he’s learning how to handle, and he doesn’t feel very confident with them yet. He is at the school long hours every day investing in his students, and could use your prayers for energy, wisdom, and encouragement. 

Also my ARC (Alien Resident Card/work visa) is kind of still going through some trouble, and we’re trying hard to get all the paperworks filed in time so there’s no lapse in time between work visas so I will still be eligible for the Permanent Resident Card this year. It’s complicated. But please help us pray all the papers are processed timely and it works out perfectly for us. 

Thank you everyone for reading, and happy September! 🙂 God is good, all the time, and we are very thankful!! 

Our apartment in Taiwan

Tags

, ,

Well, I never actually left. I’ve just taken a bit of a break from bloggering, for several reasons: 1.) I generally forget I have a blog…2.) I’m exhausted half the time, 3.) I hate typing on the iPad (death to autocorrect!!) and 3.) every time I think about blogging I want to wait until I can show off my neat orderly house, and hahahahahahah, the house is never as neat and orderly as I’m waiting for it to be!!! So there you go. 🙂
I’m any case, I’ve decided with baby Anna on the way (62 days to go according to my baby app!), I really should start keeping up with this blog thing. And get over my wanting the house to be perfectly neat and orderly (again. Hahahahahahah).
I don’t even remember what I wrote about last time I posted. Anyway, we’re pretty settled into our “new” place, and the school year is definitely underway. Aaron’s working full time, so he’s gone all day, while I stay home most of the time. I’m still teaching one evening class (two hours twice a week), which will continue even after Anna is born (with a bit of a maternity leave in there somewhere). Aaron and my schedules are such that he can stay home with Anna on my teaching nights.
So, I’ve been spending most of my time doing these things : hoping the house will magically become neat and orderly; searching the internet for ways to make my house neat and orderly, while never actually doing anything about it; cooking a lot! (I cook almost every night of the week, including making Aaron lunches most of the time. I hope to write more about my menu planning and stuff in another blog post sometime. Hah. We’ll see, we’ll see…); what else do I do? Oh yes, bit by bit organizing Anna’s room, which is looking pretty good now! Also, doing the bare minimum of cleaning possible to maintain a Not Too Disgusting House, squishing lots of little cockroaches that somehow appear out of nowhere all over, napping a lot, watching some Tv, and doing laundry when it Must Be Done. And grocery shopping. And browsing Pinterest, which I must say, is probably responsible for my dissatisfaction in the neatness and orderliness of my house. Have you seen the Pinterest houses! Sigh…..
So that’s what I’ve been doing every day. Some days are definitely more productive than others. That’s how pregnancy goes, I suppose. Third trimester now (31 weeks today), Anna moves allll the time and it’s getting more and more uncomfortable and rather painful (oh! The jabs to my organs and bladder! ) And I’m much more exhausted for no reason. Worse than the first trimester! But she’s healthy and growing, and that’s what really matters!
Ok, so I did take some picture of our “new” apartment, which I will now show you. When the house is up to my neat, orderly standards, I will do a video walk through, (it will happen! Someday!), but for now, these low quality iPad photos will have to do. Here goes!

20140901-123900-45540879.jpg

20140901-123902-45542690.jpg

20140901-123903-45543768.jpg

20140901-123901-45541476.jpg

20140901-123902-45542047.jpg

20140901-123900-45540278.jpg

20140901-123903-45543216.jpg

20140901-123859-45539673.jpg

20140901-123905-45545520.jpg

20140901-123904-45544376.jpg

20140901-123904-45544962.jpg

Um, ok since I am doing this on iPad, and apparently I can’t figure out how to type next to or caption each photo, I will describe them here in one large lump of a paragraph. Sorry.
The first few pictures are of my kitchen. This room wasn’t really designed to be a kitchen, since we’re only living on the top two floors of a four floor house (bottom two are classrooms of JacksonFive), and the actual house kitchen is on the first floor. But I can’t use that one. So when we moved in, Jackson had a stove and sink installed on the balcony of this room. I put in shelving along the wall and corner for counter/storage space, and we’re using Costco fold-a-tables left from previous tenants as our dining table. I have baby stuff in all the corners, waiting to be sorted. I’m pleased with all the kitchen space, though it’s hard to clean under those shelves. I wave the vacuum hose around under there once a week hoping to catch the crumbs.
I cook out on the balcony, and I think the neighbors are slowly getting used to that…. Nobody else has their kitchen on a balcony! But I like it. I can close the door on all my mess if I want. 🙂
Then I have a couple of pictures of our living room, which is much smaller than the kitchen. I mostly refer to it secretly as Aaron’s room. He spends most of his free time (which isn’t a lot) in here because it houses all his Man Toys. He bought this 50 inch Heran 3D 4K Tv a couple of months ago after looking at all the Tvs in Taichung, and he’s very pleased with it. It is a nice Tv. We bought our furniture for this room at Ikea, and Aaron also got to pick them all out. He chose the entertainment center, and the sofa. I chose the carpet. We both chose the coffee table. He loves this sofa, because he can cross his legs on it. It also reclines into a very comfortable bed. So that’s all I have to say about Aaron’s room/living room.
Next is Anna’s room! We painted it yellow, and I stuck some wall decals I found at the Taipei zoo on there. I got that crib second hand, and the chair we brought over from our previous apartment. I’ve been working on sorting her clothes into sizes, in those pink baskets there. Also sorting and stuffing her cloth diapers, you can see a small pile I’ve left to do there on the floor. The cloth diapers are stored in those flower bins under the changing table. I made her name on the wall. I’ll do a video sometime and show more cute things in here!
Then lastly, our bedroom. Anna will sleep next to me for the first few months, in a little bassinet. I did get that pack n play you see, but it doesn’t have a bassinet insert, so I don’t know if we’ll use it much. I got that cheaply second hand. Our old Tv is in this room, but we don’t really use it. My sewing table and craft corner is not used much these days either, but I’m hopeful! The laundry hangs on that balcony. I haul it up from the first floor where the washing machine is. I want Aaron to get it moved up to the fourth floor, but then he says I would never get any exercise and he’s probably right. Sigh….

So there’s a brief overview of our place. I did tidy up for the pictures (e.g. Made the bed!), but I still feel very disorganized. Maybe that’s the nesting instinct kicking in.
As far as our trash reducing/attempt at no plastic project, it’s relaxed a little. I’ve come to terms with just having to buy some things packaged, like meats, rice, flours, but I try to avoid it when possible. I still shop at the market for loose vegetables. We generate a lot of paper recycling, but not much plastic, metal, or glass. I’d say we’ve cut down our use of plastic about 75% compared to last year. So, not perfect, but with a baby on the way and my feeling generally uncomfortable and unwell, that’s not too bad! We still care an awful lot about not making too much garbage, but we’ve realized we can’t completely avoid it altogether so we will do our best without stressing about it. We still completely refuse plastic bags, bottles, and straws, which are in my opinion quite unnecessary and so easy to avoid and replace.
This post is quite long now, good job for reading the whole thing! I suppose if I blog more often, I’ll have less ground to cover and therefore can be more interesting and to the point. Oh well.
Til next time, which hopefully isn’t too long away! 🙂
Oh no. I just realized wordpress uploaded my pictures in the wrong order and the rooms are all mixed up. But with the iPad WordPress app, I can’t figure out how to change it! So, you’ll just have to figure out which room is which all by yourself. Sorry! Next time I blog, I will write from Aaron’s laptop. Grrrrr……