11 July 2019

Current Obsessions (Toddler Edition)

I once saw posted online the conversation question: "If your child's future career was determined by their current obsession, what would it be?"

This hypothetical amused me greatly, and Cyrus's potential careers popped into mind immediately, as he is certainly a toddler with passions.

Potential Career #1: Janitor/Housecleaner/Sanitation Worker

Cyrus's love for cleaning supplies is still going strong. Brooms, mops, buckets, dustpans, and the vacuum. The one legit temper tantrum he's thrown yet was because Angel took the vacuum away.

The brooms and dustpan we normally let him play with--he'll make a beeline for the kitchen when he wakes up in the morning, grab both brooms and sometimes will rope me into helping him carry two brooms and the dustpan out into the larger area of the apartment. 

He's learned that loose hair tends to collect in one certain corner of my bedroom, and now daily leads me to that corner so that I can assist him with sweeping up the hair. He does try to do it by himself, but he's learned that he's not quite as efficient as actually getting dust into the dustpan as Mommy is, so has very clearly delegated that particular sweeping task to me, and then he carries the dustpan back to the kitchen trashcan and dumps it in (a 'trick' Angel taught him). 

Maybe before too long we'll be appreciating his dedication to cleaning supplies, though in the meantime, every time he smiles at cleaning staff in various public areas we visit, the cleaning staff feel happy and tell me he's so cute...meanwhile, I'm just restraining him, nervous he's going to make a lunge for their broom or mop. So far we've avoided any theft of cleaning supplies or high-speed chases through the mall, but I see the look of sheer joy in his eyes when he sees the staff members cleaning floors and I know he's just longing to get elbow-deep in that bucket of soapy water.

I also wouldn't generally say he's obsessed with neatness...he loves dumping his container of blocks on the floor and happily digs himself into the sand at the beach and loves running through grass and dirt...but sweeping is a passion all of its own, I've learned, as he's begun to lead me through the house more often, pointing at small things on the ground and asking me to sweep them up so that he can dump them into the trash can.

The vacuums we use here are very small and light, nearly the size of what might be sold as a toy vacuum in the USA, so he can handle them easily. If he finds the vacuum at school, he'll push it around the classrooms for an hour before tiring of the game. One day, my sisters hid the vacuum before Cyrus arrived, but without much effect, because he found it after a five minute search. My Dad, on the other hand, came into the classroom later in the day and spent a great deal of time searching for the vacuum before deciding that someone must have taken it away. This is the difference that passion makes.

Potential Career #2: Bird Watcher/Bird Finder/What is the name of a career that has something to do with bird observation?

"Bee" or "Bees" or "Baby" is, we've learned, his term for birds. He often wakes up from nap, immediately points in the direction of the balcony door, and says "Bee! Baby!"...meaning that he wants to go look for birds. He notices bird calls/noises very easily, and even I've begun to notice how often you can hear bird calls from our house, now that I've realized that they are the reason Cyrus will take off running for the balcony door. While riding in his carseat, he will notice and point out birds lounging on electric lines or flying past the road. He's attempted to chase small birds at the beach and the park but they always stay out of his reach. "Bees" are a great love. We still only allow very occasional screen time, but he's even tuned into birds on screen. My family was watching Voyage of the Dawn Treader when suddenly I noticed Cyrus getting very excited, pointing at the screen, saying, "Bee!" There was a bird on the screen.

Potential Career #3: Shoe Salesman

"Shoes" is probably his first, clearest word that is actually used to communicate meaning and sounds like proper English. He loves shoes. He loves them because when he puts his shoes on he gets to go outside, but he also loves the very idea of them. He will put on anyone's shoes, he will watch people put on their shoes, and he will put shoes on other people's feet. He has located all of the shoes in our house, including Angel's prized leather dress shoes that are kept in a wardrobe and not used often.

Some of our neighbors store their shoes in the apartment hallway and it's been quite a lesson in teaching self-control to consistently make sure he knows that he CANNOT try on his neighbors' shoes.

Bonus Job: Luchador?

Cyrus likes storytime in general, but he LOVES this book, "NiƱo Wrestles the World." Angel even put an audio track of the story being read aloud in our "Cyrus Soundtrack" for our car.


I've always said I want him to grow up to be an accountant. For the sheer practical reason that there's no accountants in my immediate family and I feel like that would be a convenient set of skills to have in the family. But thus far I'm not seeing a whole lot of excitement for numbers. What might your child's future career be if it were determined by their current passions?
28 June 2019

A Day in the Life (Summer Break)

I most recently did a "day in the life" post when Cyrus was 6 months old. Previously, I did one back in 2016.

6:30 a.m. I wake up--Cyrus and Angel remain sleeping. A bit unusual, as Cyrus tends to wake up right around 6:30 every day, but I pour myself some cornflakes with chia seeds and milk and have my breakfast and my medicine (first rule of nausea prevention: eat as soon as I wake up!)

After I eat, the boys are still sleeping, so I hop in the shower, get dressed, and then take time to read for a bit until I first hear Cyrus.

7:15 a.m. Cyrus is awake and Angel gets him out of bed, and I get his breakfast plate ready. Boy is usually very ready to eat by the time he wakes up, and as soon as he sees his plate, he climbs into his high chair.

Breakfast this morning was peanut butter and jam mixed on toast, with some kiwi and a cut-up grape tomato. He liked the tomato better than the kiwi. I found a jam with no added sugar or sweeteners, just the fruit, so score!! Pomegranate is probably his favorite fruit but we're all out--it's the end of the week and the fridge is rather bare.

While the guys eat, I get a couple morning chores done, though I'm moving pretty slowly and sucking ice cubes because nausea is not leaving me alone this morning. The gummy vitamins I have now taste much better than the last bottle I had, so, that's nice! I get the laundry taken down from the drying rack, folded, and put away (we only really have enough space for one load of laundry to hang dry at a time, and it takes about a day for thicker items to dry, so I have a pretty solid routine of alternating days for doing laundry one day and taking it down to fold it and put it away the next day). I pack the diaper bag with snacks that Cyrus and I will need for the morning: 2 green apples for me and a cup of milk for Cyrus.

7:45 a.m. Angel gives Cyrus a shower. We don't have a bathtub, so while we did have a little plastic tub that we gave Cyrus baths in when he was an infant, he's been getting showers since he was around 8-9 months old. And we tend to shower him frequently...that's probably a cultural/climate influence, kids tend to shower about twice a day here. A lot of times it's just a quick rinse to cool down and freshen up, and the more thorough scrubbing happens every other shower or so.

Angel dresses Cyrus and then I sit down to read a few books while Angel gets ready.

8:30 a.m. Cyrus and Angel head out to the parking lot to get the car while I walk the other way, to the front of the apartment building. I'm trying to take it a little easier, per doctor's orders, and walking to the front of the building saves me walking down a long flight of steps and going over six speedbumps in the car.

Plus, the guys are taking out the trash, and I wouldn't want to walk with the smelly trash anyway. Angel has Cyrus bring the bag of trash down the hallway. He usually makes Cyrus do his share of the carrying when leaving or going home. 

I always make it to the front of the building before they make it there in the car, and wait for them. I've probably been wearing my flip-flops a little too often lately...somehow the idea of bending down to actually put on real sandals hasn't been appealing.

8:40 a.m. We make it to class! Angel and I are helping out/volunteering at a small class weekday mornings during his summer break, and we officially start at 9. It's technically within walking distance of where we live, but I'm not walking that far currently, and not with carrying Cyrus and bags.

The stairway is not all that inviting...but I make my way slowly upstairs and we get ready to start.

Look who's already here! Sarah can tell you that a little-known advantage of being homeschooled is working hard, being constantly ahead in your school schedule...and STILL getting to do schoolwork all year round. Who needs breaks?

Hardworking kid had already finished Algebra and was working on History when we arrived.

The morning flies by. For penmanship, one student is prompted to write about a Valentine's Day party, but hasn't ever been to one and isn't too sure exactly what Valentine's Day is, anyways. So, I told her about one of my fondest Valentine's Day memories, of a V-Day party I went to in college, and she decided to write about my party in her own words, mentioning the aspects that amused her the most.

Angel called me out of class at one point because he had to show me something.

I'm not at all sure this is the sort of thing he ought to have shown me. Perhaps we need to schedule a reading of "Humpty Dumpty" into our next class. No more sitting on walls!

The morning passes in a flurry of math worksheets, spelling tests, games, and explaining that you need to write "In October" rather than "At October" or "On October" when referring to the entire month. I read "I Can Read with My Eyes Shut" aloud to the younger students. Cyrus tried to eat Play-doh. If he learns by the end of summer that he can play with Play-doh but not eat it, that will be some solid progress. 

12 noon. Angel heads down to the little food shop to grab chicken rice for lunch for my family. Not for me, as I've had a lifelong aversion to chicken rice. Not very convenient, as it's a rather ever-present food combo in these parts. At 5 RM a box, $1.25 US, it's one of the most affordable local fast-food options. Normally, my sister MaryGrace brings a homemade meal along for everyone to eat for lunch, but didn't have time today. 

Angel and Cyrus split a chicken rice meal, and then everyone pitches in to do a little bit end of the week clean-up around the classrooms before we head home. We're out by 12:30.

1 p.m. We're home, and Cyrus is down for his afternoon nap. I make myself some mac'n'cheese and iced tea for lunch and sit down to read a book. 

This book arrived in the mail yesterday, a gift from one of my sisters in America, a sequel to a book we both loved and I'm excited to read it. After I eat, I lay down for a little while to rest (because you're supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps, right?), and then wake up to update some accounts (I'm the keeper of the budget in this family).  I forgot to take my mid-day medicine, so I take that.

2:30 p.m. Cyrus wakes up, and Angel takes him out to visit his coworker's house. Angel is supposed to take care of her cats for the next few weeks while she's traveling and needs to get the house keys. I sit down to write this blog and work a bit on some homeschooling articles that are due to be turned in in a few days.

The next few hours fly by as I catch up on a few chores around the house, and feed Cyrus a snack.

5 p.m. We head over to my parents' apartment. No parents are actually home, but my sister has made way too much spinach sauce with pasta for the amount of people around to eat dinner (old habits die hard when most of your siblings have moved out of the home).

She invites us to stay for dinner, which is a good plan, because I had yet to come up with a serviceable dinner plan (end of the week, mostly empty fridge). We still only manage to make a small dent in the spinach sauce, though, because Angel opts to eat leftovers instead, and Cyrus only eats a few bites. He's not a big fan of anything spicy (Angel has attempted feeding him kimchi and wasabi, with less-than-stellar results), and the spinach sauce is pretty spicy. 

5:30 p.m. Angel and Cyrus head out to the pool for a swim

Pools are pretty common in apartment complexes, here, which makes sense with the climate. Angel's working on building pre-swimming skills for Cyrus, I'm hoping that he will be able to learn to swim early...with living so close to a pool I'd rather him develop the skills sooner rather than later.

6:15 p.m. The guys come home and shower, and Cyrus plays with his megablocks while Angel and I try to squeeze in a quick few rounds of Quiddler and Boggle.

This is more like next-level word game playing, though, as Cyrus is a little bit too interested in Mom and Dad's thrilling activities (way more exciting than megablocks!) and tries to climb up to join us at the table. I won Quiddler, but Angel actually tied with me in one round of Boggle, a feat I attribute to the fact that Cyrus was trying to sit on my lap while I was scribbling words down at a slower-than-usual pace.

7:00 p.m. Angel takes Cyrus out for a walk to the front of the apartment building to hang out on the balcony and see the view as the sun starts to go down. Cyrus loves to be on that balcony and simply stare at the world below him, and this has become a bit of an evening tradition. When he comes home, I have his cup of milk ready, and we sit on the couch and he drinks his milk while I read a storybook: "Dios te Bendiga y Buenas Noches."

7:30 p.m. Cyrus in bed. He's come a long way with bedtimes. At the beginning of the year, he was still nursing to sleep, and that changed to being rocked to sleep, and then, once I was no longer allowed to carry him, he's gone to sleep lying in his crib, but for a while I or Angel would always lay down on the twin bed in his room while he was falling asleep. Now, more often than not, he goes to sleep alone in his room, but this night, he's a little extra fussy and cries when left alone. So I go in and lie down and instantly he's quiet and ready to fall asleep. I stay about 10 minutes and then leave to get myself ready for bed.

8:00 p.m. Angel has prepared himself a goodnight snack of mango topped with lemon juice and salt, and peanut butter with toast. We watch an episode of Shark Tank and The Crown  together before lights out and falling asleep. At the last minute I remember to take my evening medicine and get a cup of water--pregnancy makes me ridiculously thirsty in the night. 


So there's one normal day right now--taking life at an extra-slow pace given this pregnancy, and enjoying having Angel around all day for summer break!
21 June 2019

Baby Update: 18 Weeks

Apparently I still haven't really figured out how to stand for such photos without looking awkward

Weight: +5 lbs.

Symptoms: I feel like this pregnancy has been overall a bit rougher as far as symptoms....nausea is still sticking around, though frequency of vomiting has lessened immensely. I'm not a headache person but have been having headaches pretty frequently. 

Eating: My old favorites from last time: green apples, grapefruit, cucumbers, cornflakes. Rice + meat + veggies is about my most abhorred meal at this time (super convenient when you live in Southeast Asia and that is a pretty solid default meal). Sucking (not chewing!) on ice cubes helps a lot with nausea. 

Gender: We don't know. We found out at 17+ weeks with Cyrus, but this time, Angel kinda thought one way, the doctor kinda thought another, but basically she said the baby wasn't gonna let us find out this time around. Maybe next time, maybe not. Now I'm wondering if we'll be surprised on the day baby is born! And now we do have to seriously start thinking about names. So far most name conversations have just devolved into giggles as we start attaching our last name to the names of various favorite characters from movies or television. 

Preparations: Perks of already having a one year old? You already have all the baby stuff. Boom.

Emotions: Some news that we got at the doctor's this week has me concerned. We were told that a small part of the placenta has detached, which makes the need for an early delivery a possibility if the condition worsens and starts causing the baby's or mom's life to be at risk--not something you want to hear at only 18 weeks along. Of course...we come home and google it to find out more and I don't exactly recommend googling placental abruption while pregnant if you don't want to be worried.

It also leaves me feeling confused--this is supposedly a relatively rare phenomenon, and risk factors include drug use, alcohol, and being an older mom. So there's a certain level of frustration that wants to point at the article and say, "See, this couldn't possibly be a problem because I don't fit this profile at all! And besides, this condition only occurs in 1% of pregnancies, so it's not something to worry about at all!" And yet logic tells me that's not how risk factors and statistics work.

So the doctor's advice for now is to not lift anything heavy (including Cyrus--no lifting him at all), and take it easy, don't do anything with risks of being bumped around. So, to live in this modern world where everyone swears up and down "Oh yeah, you should definitely exercise while pregnant, it's so healthy for you and baby, and makes recovery so much easier!" and people safely run and bike and lift weights while pregnant...and you're told that picking up your one year old to put him in his crib can put your own life and the life of your other baby at frustrating.

Yesterday I was reading a Bible story to the kids...about David and the Psalms and it quoted Psalm 23. And that line comes to me "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."

That's what I'm holding to right now. I feel like lately I have seen many people I care about walking through some sort of valley of the shadow of death...and my prayer is consistently that they will not feel abandoned and alone as they face the toughest parts of living in this world. 
31 May 2019

Reading with a Toddler


For me, books have been a lifelong love, so, it's no surprise that I've been having daily storytime with Cyrus since back in the days when he wasn't yet able to roll over and escape. Pretty normal for any book lover.

Now that he's older, we've adapted and established more routines and he's developed his own fondness for certain books in our collection.

Book Storage: I store his books on a shelf in the spare bedroom that Angel and I use as office space. Cyrus has two shelves on an Ikea bookshelf that are devoted to his books. Most of the time, I keep the office door closed, but when we go in, I let him choose books off of his shelf to read. I keep the board books in the front of the shelf and the paper books in the back, because he can't reach that far back and I want to keep the paper books out of his reach for now. He has learned that these two shelves are for him, and does a good job of staying away from all the rest of the shelves that hold grown-up books.

Language: We have a mix of English, Spanish, and bilingual books. Some of our Spanish books are translations of classic English kids' books, but we also have a few original Spanish storybooks. This has been my major request if any relatives have asked if they can send Cyrus anything--we can't buy Spanish language books in any bookstore here, and online ordering isn't worth the complications that ensue, so the entirety of our Spanish book stash is from America. This is really great, especially for me, with working on his language exposure. Angel speaks more in Spanish with Cyrus, but it doesn't come naturally to me to do narration or random chatting in Spanish (those darn verbs requiring conjugation!), but I can read well in Spanish, so I read aloud. Most of our book collection is courtesy of Cyrus's two sets of grandparents, his aunts, and my aunts. Thanks, family!

Morning Storytime: This is an example of the books we read for morning storytime one day this week. Usually he wants to read books nearly as soon as he wakes up, and then later in the morning we'll read the afternoon, more, and in the evening before bed. So, the books better be good and keep Mom interested! This particular morning we read:
There's a Wocket in My Pocket! three times. Only in the past month or so has Cyrus been more interested in books that are a little longer than simple board books, and I've been introducing more Dr. Seuss books and slightly longer stories. 
First Bible Basics three times. This is one of a series of books, I only have two out of the series, though. Cyrus really enjoys both, and sits through them well.
Eres mi Mama? one time. Don't worry, we definitely read this at least four more times throughout the day. He loves this book, and since he's been better able to sit and listen to longer stories, I've also gotten out the full-length bilingual version that I also have in our collection.
Goodnight Moon one time. This is another one we read often. All of our bilingual books, I read in Spanish, just because Spanish is definitely the language we have less exposure to, so I need to maximize his opportunities to hear it. So this one is always Buenas Noches, Luna for us.

Behavior for Storytime: For actual storytime, I do require Cyrus to sit next to me while he listens, and I've been impressed with how his ability to sit and focus on the story has grown with time. For times when I just want to read something aloud in the background, and I know it's not really a story that he can follow yet, I let him play and I just sit on the couch and read. I have the Storybook Bible in both English and Spanish and it's above his level for now, but I'll read it aloud to us as a family some evenings. I do allow Cyrus to look at board books by himself and we work on learning to turn the pages gently and treat books carefully. He is not yet allowed to page through the paper books on his own--when you have to source your books from the USA, can't take too many risks with baby fingers. ;)

Learning Developments: As far as how Cyrus's experience with books is impacting his language development...I'd say at this point, who even knows? He doesn't talk. However, some of the biggest and clearest milestones he has has with his speaking or showing comprehension of words have come while reading books. He waves goodbye at characters who are saying goodbye. I once found him looking at a book all alone, doing a fake whimpering sort of cry, and then noticed that the characters on the page were crying. I think I laughed so hard that he now "fake cries" every time we get to that page. He tries to say "Moo" when reading books that have cows, tries to say "blue" on the blue page in our books about colors (it sounds like "blulululululu" and cracks me up). So it's very early days yet to see language progress with him, but I look forward to the future!

What are your favorite books for babies and toddlers? I have really enjoyed the "Cozy Classics" series of board books and will buy a few more if I can ever find their "Pride and Prejudice" or "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" or "Les Miserables" and the "Baby Believer" series is a new favorite. Of course, Dr. Seuss is pretty high up there as well. 
26 May 2019

Puppy Encounter at the Beach

I'm not a dog person.

There are plenty of people in this world who love dogs, so I feel no guilt about my lack of a preference for dogs. My view of dogs might better be described as a mild fear--particularly of large, loud dogs. Small dogs, not so much, but I'd still just as soon they keep to their own space and I'll keep to mine.

Cyrus, on the other hand, is at a stage where he is intrigued by any and all animals, and the sight of someone else's dog usually means we have to restrain Cyrus as he has not yet learned that not everything that moves and breathes is a friend (he has also tried vainly to befriend birds at the park).

We took Cyrus to the beach this weekend, which ended up being a bit of an unexpected adventure, in which a puppy decided to befriend me--even though I did absolutely nothing to encourage it.

A couple showed up shortly after we arrived with two puppies that weren't on leashes--at least I think they were puppies, not grown dogs, both because they were both really small, and because they didn't seem to have learned much about listening to their owners yet. That's okay, my human "puppy" is a whole year old and also doesn't quite understand the full meaning of "Come!" The black puppy, in particular, decided to become my little beach buddy, and sat next to me on my blanket for much of the evening, in spite of repeated attempts by its owners to lure it away to play in the water and sand.

Here I'm telling it, "Go to your family!"

I'm laughing in all these pictures...largely because Angel was laughing at me because of the sheer coincidence of this puppy picking out the one person on the beach who is probably least in love with its adorable self to befriend. Or not a coincidence? I've heard that dogs can sense when people are scared of them.

Cyrus was more active in trying to pet the dogs and play with them and they were quite friendly. I was a little nervous because he hasn't fully learned how to be gentle with animals, only pet on their backs, etc, and puppies can be unpredictable, but all three were very happy together.

The puppies' owners kept taking photos of Cyrus with their dogs, haha, and at some point, pretty much gave up on playing with their dogs at the beach because these two were not at all keen on leaving Cyrus or me.

Even by the end of our evening, when Cyrus finally got interested in a new activity, namely, attempting to single-handedly demolish a sandbank, there's still a puppy wandering in the background.

A fun and unexpected evening at the beach!

P.S. Cyrus has had a variety of adventures with strangers over the past few days! A group celebrating a birthday next to us at a restaurant gave him birthday cake and a birthday balloon. Angel took Cyrus out for a walk and the apartment complex's security guard wanted to hold him and asked why he had a bloody lip (The real question is when does Cyrus NOT have a bloody lip. They seem to be an occupational hazard for toddlers living in an environment build out of tile). Babies make friends so easily, don't they?