Lily 2.5 Update

Miss Lily is just a little over 2.5 years old now. She is perhaps the smartest, most awesome little creature who I’ve ever met. It is truly a great pleasure to be in her life, let alone be her mother. I think she has been “here” before. Her eyes are full of wisdom, her thoughts are full of knowledge. She is continuing to read a lot of books, and she is enthused to do it herself.

This morning, we noticed she was reading the dedications page of one of her children’s book. We never read those pages to her, of course, so it couldn’t have been memorization. She sounded it out, word for word, and pointed to each word from left to right, up to down. She mispronounced a few words but she tried to sound them out. We were both so stunned we just stood there silently and watched her go till she was finished. I didn’t have time to get the video camera out! When she was done, she looked up at us and beamed her most proud smile. And then she said, “Daddy and Mommy, you are both so proud of me!”

Darn straight we are!

Miss Lily is all about princesses right now. She loves her fairy tales, and particularly all her Disney movies. She knows them inside and out, and sometimes she dresses up and plays “princess.” There was a brief period a few weeks ago when she demanded to be called “Princess.” Not Princess Lily, not Lily, “Juuuusstt Princess.” Daddy was her “prince” and I was the “queen.” For a little while there, I missed being “Mommy” and no matter how much we talked to her about it, we stayed “Queen” and “Prince.”

I am glad to be Mommy again. It’s the hat I wear with most pride.

Miss Lily just finished her first full dance class. She loved being in dance class, and better yet, she was one of the only two girls out of the whole class who could follow directions so well and listened to what the teacher wanted all the toddlers to do. She was twirling and tip-toeing and dancing and leaping. She is going to be a little dancer, methinks. In the beginning of April, she and I will be starting our first mommy-and-tot yoga class, and she will be in her first dedicated ballet class as well.

Miss Lily has been day time potty trained since that weekend when we trained her with her little bare bum running around the house for two days. Since then, she’s been working on being night time potty trained as well. She has insisted on not wearing her pull ups at night. Sometimes she would go for a whole week waking up dry, by waking herself up at night to go potty and then holding the rest till morning. However, there are those certain times here and there when she sleeps through and has accidents. They are getting fewer and farther in between. For about a week last week, I woke her up at about 1am or 2am so she can go potty. It promptly lasts about 2 minutes because she gets up, she goes, then proclaims drowsily, “There. Now I can go back to bed…” and trots clumsily back to her bed. For the past couple of nights, she’s requested that I don’t wake her up so she can wake herself up. I’ve agreed to do that because she is the sweetest, most self sufficient little angel ever. I told her she should try to wake up to go potty, but if she has accidents, it’s okay and we can just start again the next night.

Miss Lily talks nonstop from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed at night. She is affectionate and although she likes her independence and is a free spirit, she also loves her cuddles and she listens very well. I’ve taught her the 1-2-3 count a few months ago, and it only took two tries for her to understand that she does not want me to get to 3. I always tell her what happens at 3 (“If I get to 3, I’m going to come over and carry you myself.” etc.), so she always knows what to expect.

She also gets her feelings hurt very easily when she feels we’re upset with her. She bursts out into tears and says sobbily, “Sowwwyyy…” Sometimes, she’ll even add, “You will always love me even when you’re mad at me. *sniff*” Of course, it’s extremely hard to stay mad when your little girl’s heart is breaking because you’re mad. :P

On with the photos…

18 Months Old

Our Lily is 18 months old. Everyday is a new day, everyday she learns something new, everyday is becoming harder and harder to catch up with her. Soon, at this rate, she will be smarter than us by the time she’s five!! Not only has she been reading since she was 10 months old, now she also knows all of her colors, her shapes (even “half circle” and “crescent”), her phonics, she can count from 1 to 20, and she is now a singer too!

Here’s another video of her reading a bit more clearly:

From the get-go, we’ve been singing to her a lot. I think somehow, this has ingrained in her the love for music and harmony. We’ve also noticed in the past couple of months that songs are connected to emotions for her. We were stunned when one day, Daddy decided to sing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” to her after not singing it to her since she was about 6 months old, and she started tearing up at a high note. We thought something was wrong, but she looked at her Daddy and asked for a hug and kiss, and asked him to sing the song again. So he did, and sure enough, at the certain high note, she teared up again and suddenly started full blown sobbing, asking him to finish the song. She clung onto him, giving him a huge hug, and gave him teary kisses. What a sweet girl. We were stunned that a song can bring such emotion out of her, and equally stunned that she remembered this song from her very early babyhood months.

We’ve recently found that certain songs will evoke out of her strong, emotional responses as well. For example, the way Sarah McLachlan sings “Silent Night” makes her teary-eyed, and she demands cuddles with Mommy while she listens to the song. When I sing “You are my sunshine” to her when it’s not bedtime (it is our routine bedtime song before I put her down to sleep), she tears up and sings along. She is quite the sensitive child. Such beautiful, emotional responses. We are stunned, and so proud.

Then, out of nowhere, she decides that she can sing the songs we’ve been singing with her. Word for word, in her own baby accent. It started with just the end words of the verses, and suddenly she just went for it and sang whole songs while we were singing them.

Here she is singing the “ABC” song in its entirety:

Here she is singing the Railroad song with her daddy:

We also went through a whirlwind of a Christmas holiday. Our house sold right before Christmas, and we spent the majority of December house hunting for a new home! In the midst of all of that, we almost forgot about Christmas! But, we were right on time to putting up our Christmas tree (about a week before Christmas):

The haul we got for Christmas was absolutely ridiculous. Most of this stuff belonged to Lily, of course. We couldn’t stop ourselves from getting her more and more and more and so much more. And apparently, neither could all her aunts and uncles and grandparents!

One of the coolest things Lily got this year for Christmas was her rocking horse!

This year, like last, my sister Sophie, who is Lily’s Auntie “Bopee,” visited for Christmas for two weeks. Lily had the pleasure (much to my sister’s grunting dismay) of waking her Auntie Bopee up every morning with a kiss and a lot of loud toddler talking:

For Christmas, we all went to Nana’s (my mother-in-law) house for Christmas Eve dinner and opening presents from the aunts and uncles. On Christmas Day, this was our first year hosting Christmas dinner!! It went so well, and we even cooked and prepared food. We may have a repeat of this next Christmas as well! I was nervous about it, but it went without a hitch! Lily loved having people over, and she was ecstatic to be a hostess. Unfortunately, amongst all the craziness, I forgot to take pictures for our Christmas day dinner, but here are some from Christmas Eve:

Lily with her great-granny, Lilias (who she was named after, and who she affectionately calls “Ganny”):

One of the things we did while Auntie Bopee was here (one involving ME going SKIING.. I know, crazy, right?) was go to Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s one of our favorite places to visit because of its familiarity to our roots. Lily loved the Chinese and Japanese zen garden!

The holidays have come and gone, and now we are just wrapping up the first month of 2010, hopefully with some positive news about a new house to be moved into at the end of February! We have something in mind, but nothing is finalized yet, so we are hoping for the best. Lily has gone to every house hunting escapade with us, and has given her own version of a seal of approval (does it have STAIRS that she can climb up and down on?!) on several homes. Here’s us keeping our fingers crossed!!

In the meantime, our Lily continues to grow… and grow… and grow. She is sleeping 11-12 hours a night. She still has her regular naps every afternoon around 1pm. She eats voraciously and she gives hugs and kisses openly. One day I tried counting how many words she can say, and I lost count at about 9am after about 80 words. So who knows how many she can say. It seems like her growth is exponential. She follows directions really well. She sometimes has tantrums. She definitely has a mind of her own and can be very, very stubborn. She’s a little firecracker and a little bulldozer. She is ALWAYS, always on the move. However, our Lily shows us constantly that she is kind and compassionate to others’ needs. She shares wonderfully and she likes to include other people in what she does. She has opinions about what she wants to read and what she wants to play. She greets people openly when we’re out and about. She knows several words in Vietnamese and affectionately calls my parents “Ngoai” without an accent (except her baby accent, of course). She says her “please” when she wants something, and is learning to say “thank you” every time after she gets something. She is our little sweetheart. She is loving, and we’re amazed at what a warm spirit she is. However, she also definitely has a mind of her own. We’re amazed how much stubborn she can be when she wants something, and she seems to have a very clear sense of what is “right” and “wrong.” We have so many speculations about what she would be like as she gets older, but most of all, we are just so excited and ecstatic to be able to be part of her world and see her grow.

Sleep Problems Solved

As some of our last posts suggested, we’ve been having sleep issues with Miss Lily Bean here. Since she was 5 weeks old, she started sleeping through the night, but as luck would have it, that didn’t always last. Until she became mobile, she was doing awesome, sleeping on her own, falling asleep on her own, and sleeping through the night. So, we had to rethink our strategy completely, and I think we now found what has worked for us.

Dave and I differed quite a bit regarding how we “sleep train” her. Being the loving, protective father that he is, he didn’t want to try any method that would mean she would cry. Me, being a little more firm, didn’t mind it so much, as I didn’t mind seeing her a little frustrated. I think it would teach her to be a little more secure and independent. So, after many, many, maaannyyy hours of long discussions with Dave, he finally agreed to a plan that included some crying, just to break her out of that “cuddle to sleep” mode that she was in with us. Sometimes, it would take me as much as two hours to get her to sleep, and other times, she’d wake up in the middle of the night and wouldn’t go back to sleep for about another two hours… all of which I would have to cuddle her and keep her company and convince her that indeed, it is not play time, it is sleep time. I was getting tired of this cycle.

First night we tried the plan where we would keep her in the crib “no matter what,” periodically coming in to comfort her and let her know we’re still around and not abandoning her. She did not do so well. She immediately started whining when we left the room, and when we didn’t come back right away (as we often did before), she upped the ante and started screaming blue murder. We came in after waiting it out a bit, comforted her, and then walked out again. She freaked out again, wondering why we weren’t picking her up immediately and rocking her to sleep. 45 minutes later of this, she was crying so hard and so intensely that she actually made herself throw up.

Dave was really angry with me. He didn’t want to do this plan anymore. I insisted that this is part of her learning, and that she’s just seeing how far she needs to go in order to get us to come to her rescue. I told him this wouldn’t happen again, and I made that promise. He said he wouldn’t do the plan with me, but that if I wanted to do it again, I would have to do it alone without his support.

So I mustered my courage up, and did it again two nights later. I did her whole bedtime routine — bath, reading, feeding, lights out — and then I cuddled her for a little bit in her rocking chair in her room, in the dark. I told her:

“My Lily, I love you… you’re going to go to bed now. Mommy’s going to lay you down in your bed so you can go to sleep. I will see you in the morning. You can do it. It’s bed time…”

I said this over and over again, about 3 or 4 times. By that time, she was relaxed and tired, but still awake. Then I got up, gave her the bunny/lovey, and popped a binky in her mouth, and laid her down, said goodnight, and walked out. She didn’t cry at first. Waited about 5 minutes, and then started crying. I waited about a minute, and then walked in to comfort her verbally, still leaving her in her crib. I put the binky back in her mouth, laid her down, said the same things I said to her while we were cuddling, and then walked out. She cried and cried and cried. However, she only did it for 20 minutes this second night. I stood outside her door, my heart completely ripped out of my chest and I was near tears. But just as I was ready to come back in again, suddenly the crying stopped. Completely. I went in to our bedroom to check out the video monitor, to see what she was doing. She had laid herself back down, and playing with her binky (not in her mouth). She started waving her leg back and forth, and within a minute or two, she was sound asleep.

She had put herself to sleep!! All on her own!!

There was no throwing up, no hysterical crying (didn’t get to that stage, fortunately). And it only took 20 minutes.

Next day, Dave put her down for both naps since I had to work. He said he put her down awake yet drowsy, and she didn’t cry for him. She was used to him doing that though. The bedtime routines were the issue, not the naps. So that night, I did the same thing again, and she cried for 10 minutes. Though out of those 10 minutes, only maybe 2 minutes were really hard crying. The rest were sort of whimper cries. I came in about 3 times, comforted her verbally and then walked out. I stood outside her door. The crying suddenly stopped, and she put herself to sleep.

Third night, there was no crying. She put herself to sleep within 10 minutes.

This was a week ago, exactly. Throughout the whole week, all her naps and her bedtimes looked like this. They went so smoothly. Sometimes, it’d take her a little over 10 minutes to fall asleep, but she never cries anymore. Sometimes she loses her binky and cries out for us to get it for her, but once we do, she’d lay back down and wouldn’t fuss when we walked out again.

She has been waking up less in the middle of the night. She is still regularly waking up at least once, but very sleepily so — never that wide-awake event anymore. And I would just put the binky back in her mouth, give her a kiss, lay her back down, without a word, and walk out the door. Within seconds, she’s back asleep. Sometimes even before I reach the door.

Over the week, I noticed that even when she does wake up in the middle of the night, very rarely does she even open her eyes. I would hear some whimpering and near-cries, and when I go check on her, her eyes are still closed, she’s still lying down, but she looks like she’s going to wake up. I would just pop the binky back in her mouth and walk out. She hardly even noticed I was even in the room.

The first few nights, since she was getting so much sleep at night, and sleeping through the night again, she was waking up earlier. She’d go down by 7:45p, and wake up at 6a or 6:30a. This was not cool. So when she did this, I would come in, and see her wide awake and laughing and giggling and having a ball, as if saying, “GOOD MORNING, MAMA!!!” I’d lay her down, tell her, “It’s not time to wake up yet, honey… go back to sleep.” And then I’d walk out. At first, she was very confused, but she did not cry out. She’d try to put herself back to sleep, and when she couldn’t, she’d just play in her crib, wait around until 7a for me to come get her. What a trooper!

Now, she’s sleeping until 7a again, sometimes even to 7:30a. So she’s getting near 12 hours of sleep per night, which is perfect. She has her two naps per day back, both adding up to about 3 hours altogether. She’s happy, well-rested, and cheery all day long, and she eats so well too.

It’s also cute that I see a change in the relationship between her and her bed. In the mornings, she’d crawl happily around her bed, and wouldn’t let me pick her up. It was like she was showing off how happy she is to be able to fall asleep on her own, and telling me, “Look, Mama, this is my bed! I have so much fun in here! I love it!” It’s a great feeling to see how proud she is of herself.

Throughout all this, I’ve been getting a LOT of encouragement and consultation and words of wisdom and kindness from Kendra, my new friend (and our photographer), as well as my sister-in-law, who does the same method with her kids. Now that we’re all getting enough sleep again, and we’re all happy again, and Dave isn’t mad and he’s proud of both of us again, and we’re all doing the same things again, it’s such a relief. I’m glad I stuck it through, and I knew our Lily Bean could do it. She wakes up to gives me hugs and kisses, and sometimes wouldn’t let me go. I know there is absolutely no resentment from her towards me, and I know she appreciates that I am teaching her confidence. Plus, this gives me and Dave some extra couple time with each other, after I put her down for bedtime. We’re so much more relaxed. I love it.

So, if you have any doubts that this works, just take my word for it. After confusing the heck out of our little girl with different methods and plans month after month, it only took less than 3 days for her to learn this. If she can do it, your baby can, too. And as an appreciation, she gives me MORE cuddles during her waking times than she used to before!

That first morning after she learned how to fall asleep on her own. Look how happy she is!

I love our baby girl. :)

Standing, Walking, Etc.

Lily is growing so fast, I don’t even know where to begin to announce all the changes going on with her. But I shall try anyway.

  • She can now clap. She learned about a month or so ago, and now she doesn’t do anything BUT clap. She also knows that if you ask her to clap, she’ll do it for you. And if she hears the song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…” she also go ahead and clap along to the song. It’s very cute. It’s also her way of cheering herself on during mealtimes.
  • Lily can also shake her head. Although technically, she’s learned this around 7 months or so, now it’s much more pronounced and at will. When you ask her a question, even if the answer is “yes,” she’ll still shake her head “no” as a response. Such as… “Are you a happy girl?” She’ll shake her head “no” with a giant smile on her face.
  • Lily has now perfected the one-hand walk/run. She only requires holding onto one of our hands in order to walk and run. She practically bolts. She loves playing chase and tag with us. She also loves chasing Tink around the house. Sometimes she thinks she can trick us and run faster than us, but then she realizes that we’re actually RIGHT behind her and she can’t outrun us since she’s holding onto our finger!
  • Lily has, overnight, at about 10.25 months old, learned to eat finger foods and feed herself throughout every meal. All of a sudden, she just started picking food off her tray and putting them directly into her mouth. Before that, SOMETIMES we’d get lucky and she’d put something into her mouth during mealtimes, but most of the time she just played with her food. Recently, something “clicked” and now she’s a nonstop eating machine. I’m so relieved! She’s also a trooper and tries to eat everything I put on her tray, even if it’s new. She’s tried smoked gouda (she likes it, but in smaller doses), miso soup tofu, mango, toast (not a huge fan of this), almond butter (turned out to be mildly allergic), peas (her favorites), oranges (looooves this), grapes, cheerios, puffs, etc. etc. etc. I’ve been trying to mix and match up with veggies more. She loves pears and apples in chunks too.

  • We’re trying to teach her “all done” in sign language, since she’s darn loud!

  • While nap times during the day are easier (she’s now back to her usual 2 naps a day, thanks to Daddy), night time sleep continues to be a mystery. Sometimes she goes down easy, other times she doesn’t. Sometimes she wants to be cuddled, other times she doesn’t. We’re going to have to decide on ONE routine among the two of us (me and Daddy) and stick with it, because the inconsistency is really confusing. She can put herself to sleep now, but we’re not consistent about it, so sometimes it takes her longer and sometimes it only takes 5 minutes for her. She has regular night wakings too, and sometimes they are just binky emergencies and other times they are longer cuddle sessions. Sometimes she is okay with me leaving the room after sticking the binky back into her mouth, and other times she cries for me to stay. Last night, she woke up at 2:30a and decided to stay up until 6:20a. ABSOLUTELY exhausted the whole time, but for some reason couldn’t go back to sleep. I think she’s teething (again? we’re still waiting for the first tooth!), and she was just so irritated and uncomfortable. Sleep continues to be a mystery.
  • The most exciting news is that two days ago, Lily decided to take her first independent step! Three times in one day! They were very itty bitty steps, but she did it on her own and we’re so proud of her! I missed the first two since I was at work, but she performed to me when I got home afterwards. So proud of our little girl.
  • And, as mentioned in an earlier post, here’s a video of Lily giving kisses.

    I’ve been up since 2:30a, thanks to Miss Lily Bean. I’m exhausted. Time to get ready for work. Oi.

    10 Months and Stuff

    Well, our Lily Bean is 10 months old now. Time goes so fast, and I can’t believe that it seemed only like yesterday when I gave birth to her, when we brought her home from the hospital, when she had her days and nights mixed up. Oh, Lily girl, you’re growing too fast for us sometimes.

    Some updates on how our baby girl is doing, before I forget and before the time catches up with me and she’s already 5 years old. Heh.

    • Our Lily Bean can stand on her own now, more and more. She really surprises herself when she does it. She’ll let go of our hands, or of the object she was leaning on, and suddenly she’s standing up by herself. Then she’d look down, and see the ground, and her little legs start shaking nervously, and she lets out a little alarmed yelp, and looks for our hands again, to steady her again. TOTALLY cute.
    • As mentioned before, she knows how to give kisses, and now hugs. She gives Mommy mostly kisses, and Daddy mostly hugs. She also knows what “soft” means. I’ve been teaching her by letting her feel “soft” things next to her face, so now whenever I ask her, “Is this soft, Lily?” she’ll take the object I’m asking about and put it close to her face and nuzzle against it, as if to test out if it’s soft.
    • Over the last week or so, she’s been perfecting different positions to get in and out of. Most notably, recently, she’s learned how to go from sitting to crawling and back to sitting. That last part was a big one for her. She also knows how to play while kneeled down on her knees.
    • No teeth yet. Wow, it’s taking a while! But my mom said I didn’t have teeth till I was about 10 months, and Sylvia said the same about Dave, so I guess it’s normal for her to get it late too?
    • Big issue #1: sleep. We’ve been doing Dave’s plan for about two weeks now, and the first week or so was difficult. First, Dave was able to get her down faster and sooner and less painful, but Lily wasn’t associating that with me. We also had to get her to the living room to calm her down before she was able to relax enough to fall asleep in our arms. Then we’d transfer her to her crib. First week and a half or so, she was waking up several times a night due to this new bedtime routine. I have to admit, bedtime gave me a bit of anxiety because I never knew how long it would take, or how grumpy she would be, or how fidgety, or how much she’d fight it. Then, as if magically, over the last 3 or 4 days, she started going down for me easier. Granted, still in my arms, while I rocked her, but I stopped bringing her out to the living room, and she’s again associated her bedroom with the lights off as “sleep” instead of “AH I wanna fight it!”Big thing now, though, is trying to get her down wide awake so she can fall asleep on her own. We’re debating whether or not to try my plan out this upcoming long weekend, since Dave’s plan is gradually working. We’re putting her down more awake each other, and she’s less fussy and she’s fighting it less, so there may not be a need to go to my plan. She’s starting to sleep through the night again, with minimal wakings, and her wakings are generally very mild and she just needs a binky (as she did before). First week or so of Dave’s plan was a bit hellish, since she was waking up several times a night and sometimes wouldn’t fall asleep for an hour or more. However, it’s hard to say if this was due to Dave’s plan or due to something entirely different, since she’s such a sensitive little baby when it comes to sleep, anyway.

      So, we shall see, I suppose.

      This is how Lily was sleeping when I came in at 7a this morning.

      We also got a video monitor finally, and we love watching her while she’s in the crib. So cute.

    • Big issue #2: eating. We’re doing Baby-Led Weaning for her meal times. Meaning, we offer her all sorts of wonderful, colorful, healthy foods, and she can decide during each meal what she wants to eat, how much of it, and learn on her own time how to get them into her mouth. She’s got the pincher grasp down pretty well (though not perfect yet), but she’s still just playing with her food for the most part. Sometimes some of the food makes it into her mouth, and today we had a bit of a breakthrough when her cousin Chelsea was over. Chelsea ate some of the cheerios on her tray, and Lily decided that she, also, wanted to eat some of the cheerios, so she fed herself. Woohoo! There was practically no feeding from us. It was all led by her.

      I’m really trying to keep my anxiety about meal times at bay. I don’t want her to associate meal times or food as a control issue to be had, so I want to just relax and let it go and let her do her thing. She’ll eat when she needs to, right? But sometimes, I just wish she’d eat MORE. Then I start thinking, “Wait a minute. I don’t eat a whole lot, and she’s a smaller baby too, so why am I expecting or wanting or hoping that she’d eat the same amount as other babies might? I certainly don’t eat the same amount as other adults do!” Not fair to our individual little firecracker to be compared to other babies.

      Having said that, I took her to her doc’s appointment for a check-up about two weeks ago. As of that time, she weighed 16 lbs 12 oz. Still in the 25th percentile. I described to our doc that sometimes Lily would get so upset that she’d vomit, and the doc is concerned that she may have acid reflux, which would explain why meal times have become so difficult, and why it has been giving her so much anxiety. More so than before. So we’re looking into that and seeing what we need to do if she indeed does have acid reflux.

    • Our Lily loooves her books. We read to her constantly throughout the day, and of course she gets her scheduled, routine storytime reading before bed. She has “favorite” books that she likes us to read to her, and she knows how to “turn the page” when asked and knows how to “close the book” when we say “The End” at the end. It’s the cutest thing.

    • Lily’s day is full of play, play, and more play. Recently, we found a long tube-like box that used to hold her play pen, and I emptied it all out and made it into a play-tube for her. She loooooves crawling through it. It’s the funnest thing in the world right now. Even Tink can’t help but join in from time to time!

    In general, our little girl is a beautiful, healthy, happy (VERY HAPPY) little girl. We can’t be more pleased. We signed her up for a play-and-grow class at Gymboree. We go for about an hour or so every Saturday, where she gets to tumble around and climb and learn to walk and crawl and bounce in this giant baby-friendly room with her babies who are also learning to do the same things. She’s very interested in other babies. Reaches out to them, tries to talk to them, tries to follow them around (until she gets bored or gets distracted and does her own thing, of course).

    And, of course, our Lily continues to love her bath every night before bed. I couldn’t help but take photos of the gratuitous rock star baby look too.

    Mother’s Day was awesome. Dave took us out to one of our favorite (Thai) restaurants near home, and it was my first awesome possum Mother’s Day with the Lily Bean. She’s very loud in restaurants, but she loves it because she gets so much attention from everyone who turns to look at her and makes goo-goo ga-ga faces and sounds at her.