March 2011

This month, Miles added 10,000 miles to his frequent flyer account and just about that many to his shoes.  He is on the go and into EVERYTHING!  Tiring, but so much fun.

  • Motor Skills.  Miles is walking, fast.  Its almost a run and I need to run to catch him.  He moves with relentless energy, its enviable.  He also learned to climb, and my heart jumped into my throat the first time I found him sitting on the kitchen table after leaving the room for just a minute.
  • Communication.  Still no consistent words coming out of his mouth, but the signing is going strong, with a 20+ word vocab.  He can pick up a new sign quickly and remember it days later.  He made up a sign for dog, which looks a lot like a snorting and snuffing rhinoceros, but I know what he means.  At certain points during the day, he will look around the house, then give me the sign for “daddy” and “where did it go?”  A hand swept down his face slowly tells me he’s tired, and he knows he can get anything with please (hand rubbing chest).  He’s getting the point across.  He also comprehends and can follow some simple instructions like, give the book to daddy.
  • Eating.  Miles is a bit too busy these days to sit down for a proper meal, so he makes do with grazing.  A bowl of oatmeal might take 3 hours to polish off.  Food is much more interesting to him if he is in control of the spoon and fork, and there were some funny moments where he speared something only to pick it off with his fingers and feed it to himself.  Almost anything will go down if it is blended into a shake or mixed into an omelet.
  • Sleep.  Aside from the recent hiccup caused by taking 24 hours to travel back in time 13 hours, things are going very well.  He’s back to 2 naps a day, bringing back the mad sprint between 10:30 and 2 when all things outside the house must get done, but he’s happier for it.
  • Fun.  Time with Miles is starting to get super fun.  He loves hiding.  He cracks us up constantly, like when he stumbles around the yard with a bucket over his head.  He is overjoyed at playgrounds and does this audible inhale that thoroughly conveys his maddening excitement.  He brings books to us to read and mimics our hand movements to the Itsy Bitsy Spider.  He points out any animal, all of which are categorized into either bird, elephant or dog/rhino, the only animal signs he knows.

I could blame the supermoon, but really the reason we haven’t slept well the last 4 nights has more to do with transplanting our almost 14-mo old13 timezones to the other side of the planet.  The flight over was painful enough: 24 hours where Tim and I slept not a wink and Miles head and toes touched both ends of the bassinet where he slept fitfully in 40 minute increments, flights bookeneded by screaming fits from 5 minutes to 2 hours (!).  Compounded with my anxiety-induced insomnia that had me working on 4-5 hour nights the week before the trip, and a cold/allergies which greeted me upon Austin touchdown, we were not quite up for it: baby jetlag.

I spent most of my online time these last few days researching baby jetlag .  Basically, Tim and I just took turns and dealt with it, and were thankful when he slept until the later hours of the morning.  However, I did find these tips helpful:

  • Keep baby’s schedule on the flight – offer food at mealtimes (real food, not just an endless supply of goldfish and animal crackers), sleep at nap/bed-time and play at playtimes.
  • Make sure baby stays hydrated.  I did this by spiking water with apple juice; Miles will keep slurping it down if its sweet.
  • Try not to arrive at night.  I think this was our downfall.  A day in the sun would have worked wonders for our state.  Instead, we arrived at the house at 8pm and struggled all night to find sleep.
  • Once on the ground, get into the routine, even if it will be interrupted.  At bedtime, go through bath, stories, walk, songs.  As on the plane, offer food/play/sleep at the appropriate times, based on the schedule for the new timezone.
  • During the day, get out into the sun and start working  on those upside-down circadian rhythms.  Mid-day and dusk exposure are the most important.
  • Along the same lines, keep it light during the day and dark at night.  Avoid TV and computer exposure at night, even when it seems most convenient when the whole family is up at 3am.
  • Little bellies take the longest to adjust.  The first 2 nights, if baby wakes up hungry, feed him a light snack in the dark (cheese & crackers for us).  After that, offer milk at night wake-ups for a few nights until the belly is on track.
  • Don’t get caught up with completely recreating your home routine – if it suits the family to have baby stay up later so family visits and dinners are possible, this is a golden opportunity to shift a little.  For instance, Miles goes to bed at 7pm in Penang, but we are shooting for 8:30 while on this home leave.
  • Be patient.  Babies can’t drink coffee and wine to induce wake and sleep, you can.

Last night, on the fourth night, Miles slept 10 hours through, just as he would have at home.  I am so thankful for that.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

We were in Hong Kong Friday night when we got a call from my sister which prompted us to turn on the TV.  Awestruck, horrified, we watched as Japan went through two and a half minutes of stunned terror before the knowledge of what was to come put people in action.  There were tsunami warnings in Malaysia, but no threat to Penang.  Being in the region, though, we can feel the affects more acutely.  Many of my friends in our apartment are Japanese, and we had friends visiting Tokyo at the time.  Luckily, no one was hurt.

I remember learning about tsunamis from a collection of international short stories on audio tape we listened to as children.  The story was of a little boy who saw the water recess and he fled into the hills with his family.  I cannot imagine going through a natural disaster like that, especially now that I have more than just myself to try to save.

We continue to pray for the rescue efforts and survivors, and count our blessings.

Before our big home leave, we made a quick weekend of a trip to Hong Kong.  Although this 48 hour stay will make it four times in one month we will make the flight between Penang and Hong Kong, and leave only 3 days before we turn around and do it again, our timing was intentional.  We met up with our friends from Shanghai via Austin and California who now live in Singapore.  She is a Hong Kong native and was meeting up with her parents, and invited us along.  Four years ago almost to the day, Tim and I had joined them on what turned out to be a culinary tour of her youth, with mere minutes between meals of all their remembered favorites.  This trip was a little different as we each had a toddler in tow, but we still managed to stuff ourselves while enjoying the cool, dry Hong Kong spring as we wandered between eating establishments.

Some of our trip highlights: Cafe de Coral for glutenous rice, noodles and congee…H&M!!!…Man Mo Temple, Tim’s favorite for the incense coils…Dim Sum…a wander around Wan Chai…bakeries…Victoria Peak…take away in the room after Miles went to bed…run up the Peak (Tim)…HK French toast (should I post this gut bomb recipe?)…Times Square electronics and clothing shopping…more congee, red bean soup and a rice noodle wrapped you tiao doughnut with soy sauce (actually really good)…a beer at a street side table…A LONG trip home, probably Miles’ worst flight yet, but then he slept until 7 the next morning, so I guess I’ll forgive him. 🙂

We love coconuts, and it seems now that America is waking up to their wondrous properties as well.  This article tells all.  It got us out on our new bikes down to the organic shop to get some to make popcorn last night, which required no added butter and still  had a rich taste.  The oil was partially solid when we bought it, became a brick when we put it in the fridge, and is totally liquid at Penang room temperature (about 85 degrees).  Opening the bottle makes me want to slather it all over my skin and go lay in the sun.  So delicious.

One recipe from the article caught Tim’s eye and he requested it.  These roasted sweet potatoes are extremely basic, but sometimes its the simple things in life that are the most enjoyable.  As I’ve mentioned before, fresh nutmeg makes all the difference.  Miles and I enjoyed these as a snack, but they would make a great side dish with chicken or pork.

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes (adapted from NYT)

  • 1.5 lbs sweet potato, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1.5 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid state
  • Salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and get out a 9×13 pan.
  2. Toss all ingredients together and spread out in your pan.
  3. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender and browning.

I had the feeling this morning that I might be in a honeymoon phase of my life right now.  Let me set the scene: 8am, walking down a quiet lane pushing Miles in a stroller loaded down with all the Monday morning market spoils: locally caught mackerel, a freshly slaughtered chicken, fresh herbs and tropical fruits.  The sun is up, but is still low in the sky.  We pass by a corner breakfast stand, with motorbikes idling and old dudes drinking teh tarik eating nasi lemak.

I thought of this scene and looked at it though my eyes 20 years from now.  Young. Asia. Tropical island. Loving, involved husband. One little baby. Someone to clean my toilets. Apartment on the sea. Abundant travel.  In 20 years the little annoyances of day to day life will have sifted from the memory leaving just the good stuff behind, albeit a little faded.

I want to enjoy this time now as I will in my memories later, shaken free of the little things that I allow to interrupt.  Like teething, or even the proverbial spilled milk.  Enjoy this moment, and ignore the nagging feeling that it will inevitably have to end.  So far, my experience with life is that it just keeps getting better.  Enjoy the moment.

Every second Wednesday we rent out a breezy covered soccer field, unleash 2 dozen kids, 4 dozen cones and a bag full of soccer balls with a coach whose job it is to organize the mayhem into activities.  The kids run themselves exhausted, and I am pretty sure we will be responsible for that man not creating an heir to carry on his family name.


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