Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our toddler loves toy-size vehicles

Tristan may not always look like a boy but he plays like one. Okay to be fair, girls can act like this too. Tristan loves to play with cars and trains. He signs train, car, bus, airplane, and bike. He can say bus but only signs and makes motor noises with the rest. Well, he calls a bike "dooy." Not sure why but he just does :) I know Tristan played with dolls a bit at daycare, which I thought was cool but he definitely has a preference for vehicles and things that involve interaction and music.

Tristan's favorite toy size vehicles are found at the playground and at the mall. He loves being in them so much that it is always a challenge to peel him off when it's time to go. He becomes territorial too and if he sees others approaching it, he gets upset. Toddlers! :)

What is better than playing with miniature toy cars, trains, buses, and airplanes? Actually, riding in a toy size car, train, bus, and airplane! I say toy size because when Tristan is in the real thing, he is not really aware he is in the real thing and because it isn't as colorful as the toy version, he isn't as amused. As an observer, he is always excited to look at and hear the real thing though.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello Strangers. Our toddler is a BOY.

Those who already know Tristan may be as shocked as I am to discover that most strangers think Tristan looks like a girl. This is of course all because he has longer hair than most toddler boys. In fact, even when we dressed him in blue from tip to toe, people still referred to him as a "she." It has gotten to the point where we don't even bother correcting people when they mistaken him for a girl. We figure it would just embarrass them. It's not such a big deal but it is getting pretty annoying.

Men with long hair are generally accepted in society. I can see how guys may be poked fun of if they have long hair while they are teenagers but at least they are not mistaken for girls. When it comes to babies, it is common to get the gender confused. As infants, sometimes it is almost impossible to tell whether the baby is a girl or a boy. In these cases, the polite thing would be to ask the parents what gender the baby is. Sometimes, I feel like there is too much stereotyping out there. We often dress boys in blue and girls in pink. As the babies age, boys get haircuts to look more like boys and girls get their ears pierced. Something like that anyway.

Tristan with his girly-hair:

Tristan hasn't had a haircut yet. I agree his hair is getting a bit long but I kind of like it :) It's different and I just love that it is so soft. Initially, I wanted to grow it out a bit to see if he would have curly hair since Jean-Louis had curls when he was a baby. It's beginning to look like he just has straight hair. Now, I just want to see how it grows and what he looks like. It took as 20 months to grow it this far! I think shoulder length shaggy hair is adorable on little boys. It would be nice if society would let us do that without assuming that he is a girl :(

Jean-Louis doesn't agree with me completely. Then again, he has the same shaved haircut for the past 9 years or so. He was in his twenties when he settled on his permanent haircut. Boring! Anyway, I keep showing him pictures of other celebrity boys around Tristan's age who have somewhat long hair and they are all so cute! He is still skeptical but hey, it's basically my decision since I will be the one giving Tristan a haircut when it is time :)

Mathew McConaughey's boy, Levi: (photos taken from People.com)

Naomi Watts' boys, Samuel Kai and Sasha: (photos taken from People.com)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are we happier or more miserable as a parent?

This post was motivated by a recent article that one of my twitter friends posted asking the community for their input. It's a question that really got me thinking today.

First of all, here is a bit of background on us before I talk about what we think. We were married for 7 years before we had Tristan. We traveled, worked, went to school and had lots of fun just being married. In fact, we enjoyed our lives so much that there was one point where we even considered doing this forever and not even having children. Then we had one.

When I first heard the question "does having kids make you happier -- or more miserable," I instantly thought about Jean-Louis. His simple answer would be miserable. In fact, I asked him tonight and he said that he is more miserable as a parent compared to the time we had together, just the two of us. But of course, he also admitted that there are happy times in parenting too but in his eyes they are few compared to all the tough, miserable times. I knew it!

For myself, I think I'm happier. No, I know I'm happier. However, I admit I do sometimes question why I even had a child. But if we are talking about misery, I'm probably not anymore miserable now than I was before I had Tristan. Wow, that sounds bad, eh? It's probably a hard thing for parents to admit but in the beginning few months when it was super hard, I didn't enjoy it much. I guess you can go as far as saying that I was more miserable than happy then. This was partly because we were so sleep deprived and there was barely any time to eat or take a shower and we were all alone. What made it worst was knowing that Jean-Louis was far from the happiest father out there. I mean, he is a great father and he loves Tristan dearly but even now when parenting becomes tough, he sort of turns to the "dark side" and I can't help but think he some times regrets becoming a parent. Let's face it, parenting is hard most of the time and if we are miserable when things get hard and we can't fix it, then we are miserable a lot! How can anyone be happy or like parenting during those times, right? My advice to Jean-Louis most of the time is to not dwell on the negative stuff and be grateful for the good stuff. He is a pessimist so he can't help it :)

I am happier as a mom. Every time Tristan calls for me because he wants to show me something or when he comes and gives me a hug and kiss or when he grabs for my hand, I feel like nothing else matters. When I watch him dance to music or when Jean-Louis chases him around the dinner table and he laughs hysterically, nothing else matters. In my opinion, we may feel miserable a lot but when we experience those moments that makes us happy as parents, those moments and those feelings are much greater than all the terrible feelings we have when things go wrong. To love your child and to have them return your love is priceless. It's during those special moments when I could hold him tight and never let him go. Really nothing else matters.

Let's ask a different question. For all those who think they may be more miserable as a parent, if you could erase those years and go back to being childless, would you jump at the chance? Not a chance! If we were to remove Tristan and all memories of him, I would be devastated. Actually, if you put it in these terms, I'm sure Jean-Louis would be devastated too. Actually we wouldn't be devastated because we would have no memory of it ever happening. Now, I must say the thought of this makes me miserable :(

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dinner at Munch in North Vancouver

After reading many great things and hearing recommendations about Munch, we finally made it out to North Vancouver to try it Saturday evening.

From their website, I had high expectations. When we walked in, I was instantly impressed. The restaurant was very clean and looked a bit like a showroom at IKEA. They had an electric powered gate when you entered. You had to press the button on the top counter so you could open the gate. How brilliant! Their play room was just like how they advertised it online. It was big, tidy, clean, and there were so many cool toys!

Their menu was good but not great. We ordered hummus and olive tapenade to start and that was good but they didn't give us enough bread or crackers. Man, I was so thirsty all night! Jean-Louis ordered the herb goat cheese salad and absolutely loved it. Tristan had the Turkey Quinoa Meatballs with tomato macaroni pasta and only ate some of it. I'm guessing because it wasn't as tasty as my homemade sauces. I chose the roasted chicken supreme since the strawberry clove cream cheese sounded interesting to me but in the end, I regretted my choice :( Actually, our dishes came late and our waitress mentioned there was a spill in the kitchen. I couldn't help but think this had something to do with why my dish was not up to the quality that it should have been. The chicken was overcooked and the very little cream cheese I did get on my plate was smeared across in a very messy way. I mean the dish wasn't terrible but at $17, I thought it could have been better.

The service was excellent. Our waitress was attentive and very friendly. A nanny was on duty at the time but we didn't know until we read their message board and saw the lady in the play area. Maybe she should have worn a name tag. I kept wondering which family she belonged too :) Having a nanny there is a great idea. Obviously, the nanny cannot watch all the children since are too many but having one there is better than none. Even knowing there was a nanny on duty, we still wouldn't leave Tristan alone in the play area with the other kids. He's at that toddler stage where he has trouble sharing toys. He tried grabbing a toy away from a baby and then tried to stroke her. Another time, he saw someone hop on a rocking seat that he liked and started to run toward him. We had to grab him and then he had a little fit. I guess he thinks it's his and either he gets to go on it or nobody does. Yes, good thing we were there with him every minute!

Overall, Munch was a good experience. The food was good, although a bit pricey. We didn't order any drinks or desserts and our bill came to over $50, not including tips. I liked how the restaurant chooses organic ingredients where possible and how they have a good selection of healthy foods. The service was excellent, which I guess we paid for in the food bill :) The restaurant was clean and nicely laid out. Their bathrooms were large and had both a big toilet for adults and little toilet for toddlers. There was also a safety seat where you could strap your wandering toddler to while you peed. They really thought of everything! :) I also loved that the restaurant was eco-friendly. A lot of their toys were made out of wood and even their take-out containers were paper and made from recycled paper.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The development stage we have been waiting for

For myself and I think I can speak for Jean-Louis as well, life became more enjoyable with our toddler when he started to recognize and call us mama and dada. This didn't really start to happen until about a month ago. I remember people used to tell us how wonderful it was to have their child call them mama or dada when their child first sees them. Not only does Tristan call us by mama and dada, he also runs to greet us with a hug and some times a kiss. This was one of the moments I have been waiting for.

In the past month or so, it seemed like Tristan's vocabulary and understanding had exploded. As a result, he is such a joy to be around. He tries to repeat what we say, even though he can't pronounce it perfectly. At the same time, we are still learning more new signs and he is picking them up quickly. He would sign and try to say the word at the same time.

Playing with him is more fun. He would draw on his etch-and-sketch and then he would sign squirrel. He shows it to me, then if daddy is around, he would run to show it to daddy and tell him that he just drew a squirrel. Then he would do the same thing again, with fish :) After that, he would go back to squirrel and so forth. Yes, he loves to brag and show off!

Here is his drawing of a squirrel (or squirrels? - you decide!) :)

Tristan has enough language to tell us what he wants most of the time. For instance, if he wants to eat bread because he heard one of us say it, he would sign bread and then say pain (French for bread). If he is hungry, he would sign it. When he had a stomach flu, I didn't feed him much and all day long he would sign hungry to me. It was sad to see really :( This next one I really like. When he is stuck or can't do something, he will sign help and say elp or up because he can't pronounce it properly. He can also understand what we are telling him. For instance, when I am about to take his picture, I point and tell him to go over there so I can take his picture. Some times he will do exactly what I say and turn towards me. Then I tell him to say cheese and he says tease. These are just a few examples.

I imagine it could be very frustrating for the baby and parent if there wasn't any communication. The baby wants to tell the parent something but the parent can't understand and can only make guesses. We were like that until Tristan started to sign back at us at 9 months. That's not to say we still don't wonder what he is trying to tell us some times. He is 19 months now and we are so thankful we learned baby sign. It's fun to do and we even sing and sign to the song, "The Wheels on the Bus." We started singing this song about 2 weeks ago and now Tristan even knows the song. Well, he can't sing it but he knows what the next verse is and kind of prompts us with the sign before it comes on. As a parent, I find it so remarkable!

It's not all red roses though. Is that the saying? Well, he is a toddler and he does throw tantrums and some times he'll do it for no apparent reason. He can also create a huge menace if you let him and he often won't listen to your "no's" anymore. However, I like to think that most of the time he is a sweet and fun toddler :) Throughout the day, we give each other kisses and hugs. Some times when I would put my face near his face, he would lean over and kiss me. Just like that. I think when your child starts to show this sort of affection towards you, it is the most wonderful feeling. It makes parenting all the worth while. It is as though he is finally able to return our love. If it hasn't happened to you yet, wait for it. It's just amazing :)

Another week, another accident at daycare

Today, I had to sign two reports about Tristan's accident at daycare. It stated that he was running with another child, the child lost balance and ended up pushing Tristan to the floor. He landed face first, with his hands down. His forehead is scratched, his palms are bruised, and he bit his lip (or tongue). I see a blood spot on his lip so I think it was just the lip. He was bleeding from the mouth, which is why I had to sign a second report. I think. Normally, I just sign the one. The staff that asked me to sign the second report wasn't totally sure. They cleaned him up, iced him a bit, and gave him lots of hugs.

When I asked if all these accidents are normal, the staff there mentioned yeah, especially if he just came from the infant room. Yup, first month in the toddler room is proving to be a nasty one. Considering he only goes to daycare three days a week, it is as though he gets injured every other day. An injury a week and all in his face too :( Good thing we have no plans for any picture taking in the near future. My poor baby :(

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yup, another bruise from daycare!

This one is from running and falling onto the concrete outside in their playground. Unfortunately, on the same side of the face as the injury from last week. Darn, that last bruise was just about healed too :( At least this time I had to sign the injury report.

If that wasn't enough, tonight he hit the same area of the face again when he ran into the side of the highchair. Yikes! Owie!! No more please! At least not in the same area of the face three times :(

Wordless Wednesday: Calling dada

Calling dada from CocoaGeek on Vimeo.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First day in the toddler room

The report was that Tristan had a good first day in the toddler room. He didn't even cry when I left him there this morning. The staff are different, the kids are different but he went through gradual entry the last week and a half and was very comfortable being over in the new room. Also in the report was that he ate lots of plain pasta for the afternoon snack, which daycare provided. I requested only plain pasta because I didn't want him to eat canned tomato sauce. Finally, the staff mentioned that Tristan loves one of the little girls. When I first heard that, I thought maybe he was trying to kiss and hug her all day. Nope. It turns out he was caught walking up to her and pushing her over. Just like that. Wow, that was embarrassing to hear. My sweet boy? It's so unlike him and it is definitely the first time I have heard this. My guess is that he saw someone else do it and is now copying them. He has been copying a lot lately. We definitely have to watch what we do and say around him.

Not only did he bully a little girl at daycare today, this evening he was a complete rebel. He knows his boundaries at home and tonight, he chose to ignore all that. Maybe he is receiving too much freedom at daycare? I don't know what that was about but we have to start disciplining him more. Luckily, I can avoid yelling "no" all the time by speaking Chinese to him. At least I have that.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Potty training in full swing

Tristan was probably ready to be potty trained back when he was just 15 months old. Many times, he would point to his diaper after he pooed. When he turned one, we brought the potty out so that he would get used to seeing it in the bathroom. At around 15 months, we started to put him on the potty every now and then to sit so that he would get used to it. Some times we would put him on it with his pants on. When I would pee, I would put him on to sit across from me. We weren't very serious about training him then but we wanted him to feel comfortable about going to the potty. We knew we were going to France and we didn't want to have to potty train him there so we decided to just delay everything.

It's been two weeks since we have been back from vacation. The first week back was just about getting readjusted. The second week, he peed in the potty for the first time. Today, he pooed twice in the potty. Each time, he told us beforehand and we would sit for around 5 to 10 minutes before he would do it. We read to him each time and we would talk or sign to him. Some times we sang to him. We did this so that he would remain seated. Lately, we also tried to teach him how to push. He now makes the pushing noise when we sign potty :)

At 19 months and starting the toddler room at daycare, this is good timing for all of us. In the toddler room, they put all the kids on the potty whether they are ready or not. For those who are not, they will get used to sitting on the potty. We weren't sure if the staff in the infant room would have put him on the potty and sit with him, if we had trained Tristan earlier. There definitely needs to be consistency in the routine if we want to teach him.

Some babies are ready to be potty trained earlier than others. Tristan looked like he would be ready early and right now we are off to a great start! He actually seems anxious to be potty trained :) I hear it isn't that easy so I'm interested to see what happens this week. I'm actually really glad that Tristan spends two weekdays with me at home. If daycare doesn't take care of his potty needs, I can try to make up for some of that while he is at home with me.
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