Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A much different spring

In the past, spring was the time to jump on a bus to wherever-I-haven't-been Korea to have some sort of adventure. I will only live in Seoul, but I love traveling to smaller towns on the weekends to get a taste of the real Korea. I always return refreshed, with some sort of crazy story. The people outside Seoul really are different.

Obviously this spring I will not be taking any out of town trips. I'm struggling just to get my laundry done! Hopefully next spring we can take a short family trip to somewhere we haven't been.

Some pictures of Korea:

Friday, March 27, 2009

A good outing

Well, it was good to have a successful outing today to counteract the not-so-good Homeplus outing earlier in the week. I met my friend out for lunch at an Indian restaurant in Dongmyo and then headed on down to Migliore Dongdaemun. The kids clothes in the basement are so cute! I picked up a few sales, but didn't go too crazy. Grace was good the entire time, I think because this outing was earlier in the day. She didn't sleep in the stroller in the store, but slept in the carrier on the way home.

One thing I'm getting used to is how much longer everything takes with a baby. It took longer to get ready to go out, longer to get to the store and get around the aisles, longer to get out of the store and longer to get home. We were both beat when we got home. But it was somewhat exhilarating to have had a good time together out and about today. I think it was also good in that it may help reset her internal clock, which has been thrown off for a bit. She went down pretty easily, probably from the air and sunshine, and also from being so tired. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I originally picked out the fabric for the crib sheets and bumpers because I thought it was cute; it was basically to please me, not Grace! But this cute, colourful fabric combined with her new heightened awareness and abilities equals overstimulation! She just stares at her bumpers and smiles and coos, especially the parts with patterns, like stripes and polka dots. And since she is now reaching and grabbing, she's reaching out and touching them. It's great entertainment for her...frustrating for me because she won't go down for a nap. The Pantley book actually mentioned this situation -- that things you wouldn't think would be cause for stimulation actually are. She recommends taking down crib bumpers if they're keeping the baby awake.

She's just full of energy today; very vocal and constantly reaching and grabbing at the air. The Weissbluth book says that often when a baby learns to do something new, he/she will lose sleep because they want to practice it. Oh, how I wish it were Sejin's day off! He's with her now trying to get her to take a nap, but by the sounds of it, it's not working. He leaves for work soon... Oh, no!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Every day...

...we both learn something new.

What I learned:

I learned to take Marc Weissbluth's advice and "respect your child's need to sleep." I usually do this, but yesterday a friend came over. We had planned to go to Homeplus. I knew it wasn't the best idea since Grace hadn't had her afternoon nap yet (another friend was over before that), but I went anyway. She was too tired and found the bright lights and noises of Homeplus a little too stimulating. Luckily there is a nice nursing room there, so I was able to take some time out and calm her down before we left. Because she didn't get nearly enough sleep yesterday, she didn't sleep well last night (had me up every two hours!) and I've spent today trying to catch her up on her sleep. One of her wakings last night was painful -- up at 4:40 am, back to sleep at 7:00am. That was a first for her; usually she wakes me up, has a bite to eat and is back to sleep within minutes, no problems. So it's settled: no more outings after 3:00, especially if she doesn't have her afternoon nap. Live and learn!

What Grace learned:

Over the past two or three days, Grace has learned to grab things! I've noticed her eyeing her hands a lot lately and yesterday I saw her taking pretty smooth swipes, sometimes at things I dangled in front of her, and sometimes at the air. Today for the first time, with some intense concentration, she opened up her hand and swiped at my little finger and grabbed it. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I put her on her rain forest gym and dangled some toys in front of her -- she did the same thing. She grabbed the giraffe's head! So cute. I must try to get this on video!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"The New Normal"

A friend sent me a facebook message today, asking how my life has changed since Grace arrived. I really enjoy the little things now, like taking a shower, or having a coffee uninterrupted. I love being Grace's mom, of course, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss extended shopping trips followed by dinner out and a late night movie at home. Nonetheless, I'm getting used to this "new normal" and enjoying it. Soon enough, Grace will be able to accompany me on the odd shopping trip, or even out-of-town trip. I like traveling and sightseeing in Korea, and I'd love to take her with me some day.

Grace went to sleep at 9:00 last night! She slept from 9 'til 2am, then 3:30am to 10:00am. I just let her sleep in because it was obvious she needed the sleep. 9:00 is such an improvement from the previous bedtimes of 1 and 2 am.

How did I do it? I was desperate and stressed as evening approached and decided I needed to try a different method. I thought, "What would make Grace happier than anything in the world?" The answer is simple... for me to be her boob servant! So I got us all comfy in bed, propped her on her side with a pillow, put on some relaxing music with nature sounds, and nursed her 'til she fell asleep, which wasn't very long at all. She was soon in a deep sleep, so I removed the pillows and let her sleep. After she woke at 2am, I fed her again, changed her, and moved her to her crib. No problems. I'm hoping this works again tonight. I'm a little later getting her to bed, but I think this new method of starting her in our bed before moving her to the crib is going to work for the time being. It has to because I was getting a little too worked up about bedtime. Plus, it forces me to lay down and relax a little bit. I sometimes have trouble doing that.

Progress, one step at a time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Healthy Sleep Habits

If anyone is having sleep issues with their baby, I really recommend reading "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child," by Marc Weissbluth. I haven't even finished reading it yet, but I've learned so much from it. He talks a lot about the science behind sleep and the importance of catching those times with baby is tired.

Last night I was having a bit of a freak-out because Grace was up so late and I was frustrated from not having a lot of success with her day time naps. After Sejin got home I gave her to him, and sat down with this book and it put my mind at ease somewhat. I didn't know that naps at certain times of day "develop" at certain ages. For example, the morning nap develops first, which is probably why Grace wants to sleep all morning. I was worried about this, but now I know it's OK to let her sleep. Also, the afternoon nap doesn't develop 'til 3 or 4 months old, which may be why this nap is harder for her to get in. Generally day time sleep doesn't regulate 'til 3 or 4 months old. I also learned about sleep inertia and other stuff. I'm not even 1/5 through the book, but I can see it's going to be very useful.

The best thing about it is that he doesn't believe crying is a good way for a child to fall asleep. He says that "sleep begets sleep" and no crying is needed if you carefully observe your baby and put her to sleep before she becomes overtired. Some books I have read push the crying to sleep idea. "Babywise," for example, was a good read, and I picked up some good ideas from it, such as the "eat, wake time, nap time" pattern, but they do support crying to sleep.

I'm also reading "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley, which is good, but it's written from a more emotional point of view. But I like the honest advice she gives, like to lower your expectations and try to treasure the time you spend feeding your baby during night wakings. I like that she doesn't claim to solve sleep problems overnight. She admits that it takes time to change sleep patterns and associations, sometimes weeks or months. There is no overnight solution.

Anyway, I'm dealing with sleep problems now (she gets overtired easily and goes to bed too late), but Weissbluth's book is making me understand where these problems are coming from -- much of it is simply biological...and like many people keep telling me --> it will pass! Sometimes it's hard to accept that though.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I've surrendered...

... to the fact that Grace is a little too young to impose a strict bedtime on. She'll get the hang of it. She's still really hungry at night though. I've been giving her a bottle of expressed milk at night and she gobbles it up and then goes to sleep fairly easily. She sleeps for longer too, sometimes 6 hours stretches. I've decided that Sejin giving her a bottle at night is worth it if it gets us some much needed sleep. It doesn't seem to put her off nursing, so why not? Problem is, my freezer stash is running very low and it will run out. I'd love to keep her on breast milk exclusively, but it doesn't look likely. I have a can of formula in the cupboard and it looks like I may incorporate a formula bottle a day. Many people who mean well have been telling me that I don't need to, but it's very obvious to me she's pretty hungry in the evenings...drooling, sucking her fists, crying, and so on.

Here's Grace late one night when she should have been sleeping. Little rascal...
It was a few emails from my lovely aunt in Alberta, Canada that made me think about this problem more logically. Being a good mom is so much more than breastfeeding and down the road this problem will seem so small. I'm going to keep on breastfeeding for as long as possible anyway, but I have a new, positive attitude about it.
In other news, some mom friends came over today. One mom brought me a Moby Wrap and showed me how to use it. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first because I've been on the Moby Wrap site and watched the instructional video and thought, no, that's not for me. However, once she showed me how to use it and helped me try it out, I'm very impressed. Grace sits in there so secure and warm. It has far more support than I thought it would have. I like how it keeps her so snug to my body... I think it's ideal for winter when it's cold out. I think I'm going to go shopping this week with her and try it out! Also, it's nothing more than 5 or 6 meters of cotton jersey fabric (no seams at all), which means I can head to the textiles market in Dongdaemun and pick out some fun fabric for different seasons. Fun, fun!
That's it for now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Funny that I wrote yesterday about the noises in my apartment. Today there has been terrible noise from the apartment directly downstairs, #502.

It started this morning at 8:30am. Piano. LOUD piano. It must be electric, because it's not usually that loud. It woke me up. Now, I have a soft spot for kids practicing their instruments since I grew up playing the piano, but come on... This was loud enough to wake me and cause Grace to stir. And since it's electric, there's no excuse!

So I threw on a housecoat, went downstairs and rang the doorbell. No one answered. Then I saw the window start sliding open (there's a window that opens to the hallway), and a little girl peeks out. I can only imagine what she thought upon seeing me, a dishevelled foreign woman standing in the hallway in my pajamas. The piano stopped -- for a half an hour! She's lucky I was so tired and Grace was sleeping so deeply. I chose not to get up again.

1:00 pm. I finally got Grace to go for a nap. It took 20 minutes of effort, so I was very happy when she finally dozed off and I sat down to read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. Suddenly there is the sound of scuffling, yelling, crying (I mean screaming crying!), slamming of doors, etc. It's 502 again! It sounds like there are a bunch of kids down there rough-housing. This goes on for about 10 minutes.

The only thing that kept me from going downstairs to ring the doorbell again (this time until they answered) was that Grace was still sleeping. Had she woken up, there would have been a scene.

I hope I don't sound like some parent who's all -- I-have-a-baby-so-everyone-should-be-quiet. Far from it. I've endured lots of noise before this with no complaining. And before I had Grace I tried to keep the noise down. I have an electric piano. I don't play it very often, but when I do I keep the volume down or I use headphones. I always keep the volume on the TV at a reasonable level. To me these are just things people should do when living in an apartment building.

Rant over!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Apartment life

I don't like living in an apartment building. In the city. I'm still not used to it after nearly 7 years. I don't like being able to hear other people. It's weird. I'm not going to miss this aspect of life in Korea when I move to Canada some day.

Here's a sampling of the sounds I hear in my apartment.

4:30 am daily, a man upstairs (I think), hacks, coughs, and spits for at least 15 minutes. It's really disgusting. He must set his alarm every day to do this. I think he should be in the hospital by the sound of his cough.

6:30 am (random days), there's a guy who sells tofu outside, alerting everyone to his presence with a megaphone. I don't know who needs to buy tofu at 6:30 in the morning, but I guess someone must.

8:30 am (maybe every other day), there's a guy who sells vegetables outside from his truck. He also uses a megaphone.

From 4:00 pm into the evening, the neighbors' kids go to hakwons (private schools), so they're in and out, slamming the door and talking in the hallway.

Then there's just random things, like one night last week when the neighbors were having a fight at 2am.

What prompted me to write this? Well, just another random thing. Someone is moving something upstairs and making loud noises. One of the rare nights I get Grace in bed early, she's woken up by this noise! She was also woken up yesterday afternoon from her nap by the neighbors' kids going to hakwon. They slammed the door pretty hard, hard enough for me to get a jolt, and of course Grace is fussing a few seconds later. Lucky for those kids, I was just in my tank top, so I didn't have time to put on my robe and catch them before they got in the elevator. If this happens again, I'm going to knock on their door. I'm sure a visit from a sleep deprived foreign woman in her bath robe speaking broken Korean would give them something to talk about for a while!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I give up...

...for now.

She's too young for a strict schedule. I'm just going to try to take pleasure in all the moments, at whatever time of day they are, get sleep when I can, and worry about a real routine later. For now, we have our morning routine, our bathtime routine... bedtime will follow later.

Last night as Sejin was heading to bed at 3am, I said, OK, you're sleeping with us tonight. This morning I think he truly understood what my nights are like!

This is what keeps me going:

Friday, March 6, 2009

I spoke/typed too soon

Not much of an improvement since last time I wrote. I thought I had made it through a growth spurt, but I don't know anymore. I'm still dealing with supply issues. Grace hasn't gone to bed before 2:00 am in about 3 weeks. She's on this really bad schedule and I'm not having much luck getting her out of it. I've been trying to be consistent with the bedtime routine (bath, feed in quiet bedroom with dim lights, etc). But a good bedtime routine doesn't work if she's still hungry! Apparently I have some supply issues because I've been pretty diligent about feeding and my supply isn't increasing much, if at all. I'm starting to wonder what's going on. I'm going to the hospital to talk to the pediatrician. I may have to do a supplement formula feeding at bedtime in order to get her on a live-able schedule. This is really frustrating after all the effort I've been putting in! For the last three days I've fed her every hour during the day and every three hours at night. Still not satisfied... What can I do?
Good news is, she's getting even cuter.