Friday, May 29, 2009

Baby gifts

I was looking at these teddy bears the other day and thought I'd snap a picture to see if anyone else thinks they're really weird. I call them the demonic teddy bears. No eyes, nose, clothing, except for a ribbon around the neck. The metalic plasticky one is particularly disturbing. I received them in the mail a few days after Grace was born from a former colleague of Sejin's. I was thinking I may try to embroider some eyes and nose and maybe even knit some clothes for them. They look so scary now.
The demonic bears got me thinking about all the baby gifts I received (and am still receiving) since Grace was born. I was surprised to get so many. The doorbell rang steady for a week. Mostly clothes. Some really nice ones too. The problem is, quite a bit of the clothing will fit her in the wrong season! She'll probably never wear some stuff. Some of the really small stuff she got she only wore a few times. Among the best gifts we received was a huge box of Pampers from my friends Ed and Joo. Also, my friend A got Grace a really nice bottle of luxury baby oil. We also got a nice warm baby blanket we used a lot. Oh yes, and the Aprica baby sling was good for the first couple of months. My sister sent some nice books. My mom made a bunch of stuff -- some really nice blankets that can't be grown out of!

But I don't blame people at all for buying ill-fitting and impractical baby clothes. It really is the thought that counts and I, myself, was a poor baby gift buyer. Thinking back, I was guilty of buying less than useful gifts. I would typically buy clothing, the cuter then better (not always the best choice), and I would buy it for the baby's current size. For example, for a baby's 1st birthday, I would go to Dongdaemun and ask for clothing that would fit a one-year-old. Now I know that is the worst thing to do! Always buy at least a size up and keep the season in mind. I've even bought silly things myself, things you buy because "it's just so cute!!" I'm cutting back on those purchases though. A baby can only wear so many headbands and ruffly socks. I don't know why I'm writing about this. I was just thinking about all the baby stuff I have.
In other news, Sejin and I posted Grace's pics on a couple of baby modeling websites and one of the sites contacted him requesting more pictures. But they want studio pictures. Too bad I don't have the 400 bucks to shell out for those! Perhaps we'll go to Igloo and do the 'self' photos. We've been meaning to for a while...

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Grace went down last night for the last time around 8:30 and only woke up at 1:00 am to eat. Then 6:40 awake. Not too bad! I hope it's not a fluke!

I made Sejin read the key chapters in the Baby Whisperer last night to make sure we're on the same page. He assured me he's on board, so today we're doing EASY. I'm not going to worry too much about the timing...just the general Eat Activity, Sleep, You Time pattern.

Fingers crossed. It's a beautiful day out there, so I also hope to get out for a walk!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Sejin did it. After 30 minutes of trying, Grace went for an afternoon nap. Yeah Papa Jo! Then, suddenly, a door slammed in the wind only 30 minutes later and she woke up! Doh!

I know in a recent post I said I was going to follow my instinct and not books, but books are still good and can give you good ideas. I just finished reading the Baby Whisperer and I wish that I had read that book first. It was last on my list because it sounded so cheesy. To my surprise, it is full of good ideas and is pro-routine, yet not minute-by-minute a la Gina Ford. I like the idea of Gina Ford's book, but after some thought, I realized it really isn't realistic, especially for breast feeders. I certainly don't have 6-8 ounces left in me at 6:00 pm! And, it costs over $100 to join Gina Fords online community! I couldn't believe it. But the Baby Whisperer forums are free.

The Baby Whisperer recommends the EASY routine, which is Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time. This is similar to what is recommended in Babywise, which I intended to try, but we fell into the habit of nursing to sleep. It will be hard to break this association, but I'm confident that we can do it. We have to do it, especially if I return to work! This is a great perk to the EASY routine -- you can leave your baby with someone and give them a routine to follow, one that baby is comfortable with.

But EASY is not easy and we will have to work on it. Yesterday didn't go so well, but I think we have made some small progress today with Sejin's success in putting Grace for a nap. Also, when Grace woke up tonight 45 minutes after I put her down, I was able to get her settled without feeding her. About 20 minutes in, she was up to a scream cry in my arms (where's my boob?!?), and I was questioning my competency as a mother. Suddenly I put her down again and she turned her head and closed her eyes. It's as if she said, Okay, I give up. Wimpering 20 minutes later, so I did the Shh/pat as outlined in BW and surprisingly she went back to sleep. I think the key to this method is showing baby that you're not going to waver -- that they're going to be put back in their crib to go to sleep. I like it because it's gentler than CIO; you're with your baby while they're having the emotion. You talk them through it, pat them, and stay with them until they fall asleep or are calm.

I'm really excited about all this because I was kind of worried about our trip to Canada in August. I have spent up to 3 or 4 hours some nights trying to get Grace to sleep and I was dreading spending most of my time in Canada doing the same. But if the BW techniques work, things will be different and I can start getting excited about the trip.

Here's hoping!

Back to work?

Don't wanna do it. But sometimes life sucks. It seems I don't have a choice in this matter.

There's prep to be done though... a lot of prep. Sejin is in trying to put Grace to sleep (she was asleep for 45 minutes and then woke up). I want him to try things and find his own way of dealing with her (esp regarding sleep and feeding) so that when I leave the house I am confident that he'll do okay. As of right now, he's not doing okay. But I guess he'll need time to figure it out.

It's really hard not to interfere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exhausting day...

Day 1 of trying to break the eat-sleep association. Grace resisted hard and hardly slept today. I stuck to my guns and spaced out her feedings to what is appropriate for a 5 month old and she didn't do too bad, although as I said, she didn't sleep. Seems she is very dependent on nursing to sleep, as I thought...

Oops, the dragon stirs...

Monday, May 25, 2009

It's coming together

I've been a mom for nearly 5 months now. It feels like much longer, but it's only been 5 short months. In that time, I've been constantly looking for "the" answer to my parenting questions, sometimes in books, online, or from friends.

I finally understand now that there is no "one" answer to any problem or issue and no "right" way to do things. I'm the mom. I carried this baby, I bore her, and now she is in my care. It seems only natural that I should know how to raise her. And this is where my problem is -- I've been reluctant to trust my own instincts. I am constantly questioning myself rather than going with my own instincts and intuition. Sure, both experts and friends can give you great advice based on their own experiences, but if it doesn't sit right with you or especially if it doesn't work for you, why follow it? This all seems very simple, but for me it has been really hard to realize this.

So, I have spent the last couple of weeks analyzing how things have been going with Grace -- what I like and what I don't like, and how we could both be even happier. I have been trying not to use catch phrases or labels and I've just been simply trying to step back and take a look at my typical day. What I found (after some sleepless nights -- insomnia!) is that in general, things are really good with us. She is happy and healthy, and I'm doing okay. But there are some things I'm not comfortable with and I would like to change them now while Grace is still young. For example, I've never been truly comfortable with demand feeding and I really want Grace to learn how to fall asleep independently -- not being nursed to sleep for every nap and bedtime like she is now.

So I met with my hypnobirthing instructor today for a coffee. I felt that she had a similar parenting style to mine and I wanted to pick her brain. It turned out to be a very good thing to do. It was good to talk to someone who shared some of my concerns about childcare. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an oddball among other parents because I want to put Grace on a feeding and sleeping schedule. But talking with someone else for whom that worked really made me feel better about it and realize that it's not a bad thing to do -- different things work for different people. She gave me some tips and reassured me that I'm doing a great job so far and that since Grace is only 20 weeks, it should only take about a week to implement a schedule and be on our way to self-soothing to sleep.

I'm on a bit of a high now and feeling very confident about my ability to be a good mom in my own style. If only I would have listened to my instincts from the start...but no worries. Tomorrow is a new day. :-) I'm going to spend the next week close to home, working on breaking some of Grace's bad habits (in a gentle way, of course -- can't do cry-it-out). I know there will be some hard moments, but I'm very confident in both of us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh, Grace...

A Korean friend of mine came over today to finally meet Grace. It's always funny to see Korean friends' reactions to our little (um...big) mixed baby. "Oh, she's so beautiful!" "Oh, look at her white skin!" "Beautiful eyes!" Recently Sejin threw Grace on his shoulder to go grab some garbage bags and a woman came running saying, "Oh, a foreign baby!" Sejin was like, "Uh, no she's Korean actually." She was born here after all. She doesn't even look that 'foreign' to me. She just looks like a baby...maybe 'cause I'm her mom.

Anyway, we ordered a pizza and got up-to-date with each other. I put Grace for a nap (all swaddled up as she likes! Using this new technique which uses two blankets for larger's awesome!) and Juyeon and I decided to slip out to Myeong-dong for a couple of hours. Sejin was supportive of this.

Unfortunately, when Grace woke up and realized I wasn't there, she was none too happy. She has been refusing a bottle for a couple of months now (containing breast milk or formula, with any type of nipple), although she has taken a few ounces a couple of times when I wasn't around. Today she would have none of it and instead screamed for poor Sejin.

I checked my cell phone when Juyeon and I stopped for a coffee and realized I had missed three calls: Sejin. So I call him and it sounds like the calm after the storm. "Could you please come home now? Yes, she's okay, for now. How long will you take?"

I cut coffee short and headed home, having been gone less than three hours. Oh, Grace, you're going to keep me close to home for a while, aren't you?

So for the last hour I've been reading online about getting babies to accept bottles. After all that reading I have resolved not to stress about it too much. I don't go out alone too often and it's not like I'm returning to work full time or something. However it would be nice to know she would eat something if I had to leave for an entire day (a commercial shoot or something). On, he mentions that if baby has been started on solids and enjoys them, this can substitute for milk while mom is away once in a while.

Coincidentally, I started giving Grace a bit of rice cereal a few days ago. I did so after thinking about it for a while. She never seems satisfied after feeding anymore and she's getting huge (18 lbs at 5 months). Then I was reading in Babysense and The Baby Whisperer that if a heavy baby over 4 months can't go longer than 4 hours between feeding, doesn't seem satisfied, and watches you eat often, then they might need a bit extra fuel, and you can probably try solids. I'm also taking Gina Ford's advice and only giving the cereal after she's finished a milk feed, since milk is still most important.

Anyway, I ordered some stage one Gerber rice cereal and experimented three days ago. That feed was very bewildering to her, but she did okay. She tried eating it, although a lot ended up on the bib. Yesterday she did a little better. Then tonight before bed we had a bit more and she finished the whole bowl (maybe two tablespoons) without wasting much! She couldn't wait for the next spoonful. A lot of fun.

After the first cereal:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You go, Papa Jo

Very often I (and I think a lot of moms) get obsessed with trying to do everything themselves -- I'll do that! No, I do it like this. No, you can't do that. She doesn't like that. I know everything!

I admit that I have become a little bit like that with Grace and I don't like that. I need to give Sejin some time to find his own ways of doing things with her, especially in the event that I have to return to work. So two nights ago I was having huge trouble putting her to sleep. Three hours later I said, "You give it a try." And he did.

He came back and she was sleeping. What did you do, Sejin? He turned down all the lights to pitch dark (I usually leave a dim light on), covered her bumper pads with a towel, swaddled her, put on some lavender aroma oil, put one of my worn T-shirts in the corner of her crib, and left the room. She slept.

Where have you been for the last almost 5 months??!! Oh yeah...I've been pushing you away! Silly, silly, silly...

From here on in I'm ready to accept any help or suggestions from Sejin. I really have to start giving him more credit.

Last night I used his techniques, and although she didn't go down right away, she did sleep from 10pm through 'til 5am, the longest stretch in a while. Who knew?

Do we have a stay-at-home-dad in the making here? Stay tuned to find out...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fashion is War

That's Doota's new slogan. I visited the newly renovated Doota in Dongdaemun today and was very impressed with the new luxurious feel...not so impressed with some of the new luxurious prices, but it's still an awesome mall. There's a new Coffee Bean on the second floor with an outdoor terrace. Lots of nice stuff. Lots and lots of people, but what did I expect from Dongdaemun on a rainy Saturday?

Today was also a major wakeup call for me -- I don't fit into any of this stuff anymore! Ahhh, the days when I could wear Korean "free size"! I was fawning over some of the cute little dresses and outfits which I used to fit in a little over a year ago. There is no better motivation to lose weight than to walk around Doota and look at the beautiful clothes...not to mention the beautiful people. Of course I can't go on a hardcore diet since I'm breastfeeding, but I can do such things as cut out the daily ice cream I've been eating.

I had gone out today with the intention of getting myself few cheap new T-shirts to wear this summer while I shed the pounds... instead, I got nothing for myself and Grace got a new dress, a skirt, T-shirt, cardigan, and sun hat (all in basement Migliore). My budget is shot, I've got nothing to wear, but I've got one well-dressed baby!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I want to run around my little apartment and do the dance of joy -- but I won't because Grace is sleeping!!!!!

The most exciting part of this is that she fell asleep by herself tonight for the first time! I had been nursing her for quite a while tonight, as usual, and finally I put her down awake because I was tired out -- break needed. I walked out and went online (as usual) and I don't hear anything... A quick check...and she's sleeping! I don't care if she sleeps 10 minutes or 10 hours -- she did it herself. I don't expect her to do this every night of course, but baby steps, baby steps... progress is being made.

She's been quite wild these days. She has realized that she has complete control over her legs. She reminds me of a little monkey. She rubs her feet together non-stop all day (baby socks don't stay on!) and tenses up her legs when I pick her up. Before she falls asleep in her crib she lifts her legs and slams them down repeatedly. It's been a crazy week, but I'm proud of myself for making it through with very little sleep (she's up every 2 hours at night) and yet sanity intact. Amazing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

It's number four. It was on this day back in 2005 that Sejin and I tied the knot in Children's Grand Park here in Seoul. 700 guests showed up (yes, we have the guest books to prove it), most of whom I do not know and none of whom I remember meeting. My parents were there and a few friends from my side.

Some memorable events from the wedding:

- The wedding officiator decided last minute that he did not want to say the ceremony in both English and Korean (it had been fully translated into English). After much freaking out by me, the show went on in both languages.

- Sejin's friend, the MC, made a joke that the groom would now sing a song to the bride. Sejin decided, Sure, why not? and proceeded to sing a Korean love song unaccompanied by any instruments -- the whole song. During the song, his father, who was seated behind and to the right of us, kept shouting, Stop! Stop! You're embarrassing me!
- My parents bowed.

- Sejin did a low bow to both his parents and mine (which is tradition). He warned my father beforehand not to laugh when this happened.
- The wedding planner people misplaced our Precious Moments cake toppers of a Caucasian bride and Asian groom my mom had brought over from Canada. We eventually got them to locate the toppers after many confusing phone calls.

- I rode a roller coaster with my friends before heading to a nearby establishment where close guests met us for drinks, food, and eventually, noraebanging (karaoke).
What did we do to celebrate this special day? We took Grace for a vaccination, ate lunch next door at Homeplus, and Sejin went off to work until 12:00 a.m. There's always next year...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back on the Doilies!

I took a break from doilies for a while...I think it was around the time I found out I was expecting Grace. I started knitting baby clothes instead. Maybe because the weather's getting hot, I haven't felt like knitting clothes, and am heading back to doilies. I put the booties on hold for a while too, because no one's gonna put booties on their kid in the heat of a Korean summer.

My first knitted doily, Flacon. This went well. I shied away from knitted doilies because they're hard to start, but I'm going to give them another chance. Another problem with them is that if you make a mistake, you might want to kill yourself since it's so hard to go back and correct something. With crocheted doilies going back to correct something is just a minor inconvenience. My goal is to someday knit this doily, but I'm going to work up to it.
A very easy crocheted doily, Cutie Pie Doily:
I also made a couple of toys for gifts. I gave the little bunny to Eva.
Grace was wild tonight. Not cranky, just wild. She didn't go to sleep until 10:30, even though I did the bathtime routine at 5:30 when she was tired. At 10:00 p.m. she was wanting to practice rolling over (today she went from her stomach to her back by herself) and was laughing and clawing at my face. Things could be worse. I'm so proud of myself for not freaking and just going with it...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's not easy

Sometimes being a mom can make you feel like a moron. There are moments when I get so frustrated from not being able to figure things out. I'm more of a logical, left-brain person, and I enjoy finding the answer. On top of this, I'm a perfectionist. These aren't the best qualities to have when it comes to motherhood because sometimes you just have to accept things and ride the wave rather than fix them.

For the last few days Grace and I have had some trouble with nursing and her sleep is getting worse. This comes as a blow because we were making some progress. But this time, I'm really trying hard not to get upset about it. I'm accepting that there are going to be ups and downs and there may be things going on with her that I can't see, which means I won't be able to "figure it out."

This article at Ask Moxie really helped me accept that I can't understand everything. There could be any number of reasons Grace isn't eating or sleeping well these last few days. I've noticed she has been trying pretty hard to roll over in her crib. Her hand control is getting really great in the last week. Or, it could be a cognitive development I can't see. Or, she could just not be feeling the greatest. Who knows?

I will not freak out. I will not freak out. I will not freak out. I will not freak out...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy 4 months, Grace

Grace is four months old today and I am very happy to say that I have a much better attitude about everything (including sleep!) than I did only one month ago. When she turned three months, I was waiting for this magical moment where I would suddenly feel everything fall into place in my life -- Grace would start sleeping through the night, I would get to do the dishes every day, stuff like that.

Well, it's when I stopped expecting things like that to happen that things actually improved! I tried to stop expecting Grace to fall asleep at 7 every night after her bath time routine, and she's actually doing a lot better. I'd say it's taking roughly half the time as before to sooth her to sleep. When she will not go for a nap after two or three attempts (this is usually the case in the mid to late afternoon), I don't worry about it and just put her to bed earlier. Looking back, I cannot believe how worked up and stressed I was getting about everything. I'm still a worrying mom, but I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff.

Because of all these lowered expectations, my attitude has really gotten better. I'm much happier and able to enjoy Grace more.

Grace herself is an amazing baby. She's starting to laugh these days, which is a lot of fun. Now I wonder when she's going to surprise me by rolling over...she's making me wait for this one! No rush, Grace!

Grace's Dr. Evil impression:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Torticollis update

So we finally saw the physiotherapist today, who was a very nice woman. She was pleased to tell us that Grace's case is not very severe. The muscles are the same size and she felt them and said that both sides are still soft and therefore flexible.

Her advice was that since the case is not that bad, we should work on her neck at home rather than start regular physiotherapy sessions. She said the sessions would be very stressful for a young baby and with only around 20 minutes of exercise at home per day, we should be able to correct the problem ourselves. She did say it might take a little longer though. She told us that we merely have to encourage her to look and lean the other way (right) by getting at eye level with her and making eye contact, getting her to follow us by turning her head. We should also gently turn her head whenever possible.

What I'm going to do is work on this daily with Grace, and if I feel that it's not going well, or if I feel uncomfortable or confused about something, I'll take her to another hospital to get another opinion. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Children's Day!

Avoid the hot spots in's gonna be busy!

Sejin volunteered us for a radio quiz show this morning. I wasn't that happy about it. Turns out my questions had to be answered in Korean. Luckily Sejin was allowed to help. I still did crappy.

Last time I helped out this radio show host friend of ours I got 50,000 won in gift certificates.

Today I got some organic juice.


And I can't resist posting these pictures:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What would you do?

I recently received a baby gift from a person I don't even know. It's a cute little pink summer outfit by a Korean designer name that is apparently well-known here. Anyway, the receipt was included and it turns out the outfit was 86,000 won! For one outfit. I mean, it's cute, but not that cute! Actually, it might be very annoying because it's a cotton shirt material that will need to be ironed.

I'm thinking that 86,000 won could buy Grace 4 or 5 more practical little summer outfits off gmarket. I was thinking of ordering her some 6-9 month size summer stuff soonish before all the good designs are picked over (this happens!). Or, I was also thinking of ordering the Ergo baby carrier, which is around 100,000 won. Seems so silly to have this expensive little photo opp outfit in the drawer when she needs other stuff.

Would you take it back and get the cash?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grace's first cold

We're getting through it. Surprisingly it hasn't been that bad. She's still happy, smiling between sneezing. She had trouble napping in her crib due to her congestion, so she napped in her infant chair today and seemed OK with that. We took her to the pediatrician, who was very busy with tonnes of other kids with colds. He has this really cool machine that gives quick saline sprays and suction. Bam, bam, see you in three days! Grace is sleeping now, poor thing. So tired. But I'm happy to say I think I suffered more through this cold than she did!

I was thinking the other day, how boring my blog is. All about me and Grace with random spatterings of Korea-related stuff. But people actually read weird. I'm glad some people find it interesting. That's good. For me, it's become a bit of a journal. I think I'm going to print out all the posts about Grace after one year and put them in her baby book so she can laugh one day about what a worry wart of a mom I was!