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March 31, 2007

A Brief Respite from Everyday Blahness

When I got home this evening after a long, difficult week at work, I said to Luke, “Let’s go OUT for dinner tonight!” It’s been a long while since we’ve done that. We often cook or order in and lately, being so busy, the cooking has been uninspired: pasta with sauce from a jar, simple soups, Indian food from foil packs and cans! Eating this way makes me feel like I’m back in college, or just starting out instead of a 30-something (I can’t believe that’s a description I’m going to have to give up in a short while!) with a husband and kid!

Dinner out was just the right thing. We walked across Union Square to Zen Palate. Chiara got to choose her own shoes before we left the apt. and as she has been doing lately, she chose her bright green froggy rainboots. Never mind that it was a gorgeous, clear, crisp evening. She had on her emerald green plastic boots with a cute pink and lavendar ensemble and her cute little lavendar knit hoodie sweater to beat the chill.

Unfortunately, there was a wait for a table in the casual downstairs dining room so rather than risk overestimating Chiara’s patience, we opted for fine dining upstairs. Chiara and Luke took the stairs together — three staircases in all. Our food came quickly and we ate uneventfully. Sounds boring, but with an 18-month-old, having an uneventful restaurant dinner, especially on tablecloths with cloth napkins, was triumphant. I was a little concerned that Chiara wouldn’t be able to handle the restaurant since she had eaten before we left so she wasn’t that hungry. But she kept her interest level up, played with the chopsticks and the bamboo napkin ring; she drank from the teacup of water the waiter gave her, spilling a lot on her lap, but otherwise handling drinking from a cup wtih consummate skill. At one point, when I had placed chopped up pieces of orange-glazed seitan on her plate, she looked at me and said, Thank you!

Luke and I faced each other during dinner — for the first time in a really long time I realized. At home we sit at a counter on barstools and at best are on two sides of a corner. I really felt lucky and relaxed. We are privileged to have the comfort to dine out in New York City whenever we want to, without having to plan ahead. And we are especially privileged to have a daughter who will go anywhere and do anything with us.

During dinner I would look at her little face and feel my heart breaking a tiny bit with every glance. She’s a beautiful, wondrous baby. So full of intelligence, love, curiosity, and her own unique and very engaging personality.

We walked back home, all of us, which is slow-going with a toddler. There was a gorgeous three-quarter moon tonight so we pointed at the sky and waited for Chiara to notice. Moon, moon, moon, she gestured, pointing up. The she did a little dance hopping from one leg to the other because she was so excited to see the moon!

Inevitably, she finally lost her composure on the long walk home. Nothing big or dramatic, but she was just having none of this hold-our-hands-when-you-cross-the-street business. She just let her knees give out and sat on the street for a moment before we cajoled her up and to the curb and offered her the stroller. No, no!, she said. And then she shrugged us off and continued walking. She stopped at the first brownstone stoop we came to and insisted on walking up and down the tall stoop all by herself. Finally, after that triumph she graciously accepted her Apa’s offer to ride in her stroller the rest of the way home.

The moon was behind us so Luke turned her toward it and pulled the stroller in reverse. The rest of the block Chiara kept waving at the sky and saying, “Bye bye, Moon! Bye bye, Moon!”

Luke turned to me and said he never could have imagined how quickly Chiara would develop.

It’s true. In one short year and a half, she has gone from being a milk-sucking, sleeping cuddle of flesh to a walking, capable and even independent toddler with preferences for what she eats, how she eats it, what she wears, how she wears it, where she goes and how she gets there, what she says and how she says it. Amazing!

The best part of the whole evening was that she was in bed by 8:45 — just 15 minutes later than our goal. Of course, she wasn’t exactly asleep yet, but that’s another story altogether.

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jeanhee @ 12:24 am

March 10, 2007

A Year and a Half of Wonder

I took Chiara to her 18-month check-up today. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a parent for that long! It’s the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s a permanent part of my life now, there’s no turning back once you’ve had a kid. You are a parent forever, and it changes who you are fundamentally.

Every check-up, I am asked a few developmental questions. Today Yasmin asked whether Chiara was into books and whether she pointed at things. “Do you want to see?” I asked.

I pulled a book that was on the bookshelf under the examining table. That’s Not My Kitten is a book that Chiara also owns, but her book has slightly different colors and illustrations. I opened to the first pages and spoke to Chiara, who loooovvvveeesss this particular book. “Hey, do you see a mouse?” Chiara pointed her tiny little index finger at the mouse and looked up. “Mouse,” she said.

Then I asked, “Do you see flowers?” And Chiara pointed at the stem of the flowers and said, “Flower.”

Finally I asked, “Do you see a bee?” Chiara looked at the page and I could see her eyes looking right at the bee. But she didn’t move her finger. She just stared at the page for a few moments. I thought to myself that there are no bees in her version of this book, but there are other books she reads that have bees in them, however, the style of the illustration is different and the colors are different (her Hugs book has pink and yellow bumblebees. Go figure.) I tried again. “Chiara, I think I see a bee, do you see a bee?”

She stabbed her finger on the bee and practically shouted, “Bee!”

I can hardly stand it, how amazing human development is. She’s learning at such a rapid pace, and half the time we don’t even realize that we’re teaching her anything.

My mom was here today while I was at work and she vouched for the fact that Chiara is speaking in full sentences, albeit in Korean. Luke thinks it’s funny because her Korean sentences are only about four syllables apiece, but anyway they are complete and grammatically correct. She says, “Give me more food;” “Food is all gone (there are no articles in Korean);” and “There is food.”

Given how central food obviously is in Chiara’s life, it was shocking to learn that despite how much Chiara eats, she gained just one pound in the last 3 months. Ahjuma, Chiara’s nanny, thinks the nurse didn’t weigh Chiara properly. i agree that Chiara seems noticeably heavier to me, but the doctor wasn’t concerned so I didn’t care. The bare facts are, Chiara is 34 inches tall (95th percentile) and weighs just 24 pounds (47th percentile).

The only unpleasant part of the visit was the innoculation. Chiara got two shots today. The doctor asked me to hold her hands and next thing I knew the deed was done. Chiara made a small sound, but didn’t cry. She seemed startled. Then, she turned to look at me and had this expression on her face of complete betrayal. She was so unhappy that I helped the doctor inflict pain on her. She knit her brow, pursed her lips, and stared me down while mewling in a whiny, indignant way. Luke and I call this her fake cry. No tears, and it sounds like a half-strength cry. She kept this up for about 5 minutes as I put her clothes back on. I’m sure she would have kept it up longer if Ahjuma hadn’t shown up to take her back home right then.

We have no recent photos! Hard to believe we’ve slowed down so much!

jeanhee @ 12:20 am

March 2, 2007

Bye Bye Booby

I had another one of those unforgettable experiences trying to put chiara to sleep last night. i turned out the lights and, exhausted as i was, stretched out on her bed as she performed her usual routine of walking around the bedroom, opening books and turning pages as though she could read them in the dark, walking to the bed and crawling in, then immediately turning over and climbing down and repeating this over and over again.

Finally, she climbed into bed and decided to stay for a while. In the faint light coming over the transom, I could make out her face as she leaned close and kissed me. Mwah! she said. Then she kissed me over and over again. What a sweet, affectionate baby. At one point, she pressed her forehead against mine, and looked into my eyes, and then shook her head back and forth making Mmm Mmm sounds. This reminded me so much of my own mother, I’m sure Chiara picked it up from her.

Chiara kept repositioning herself on the bed, at one point her feet were on her pillow and he head was on the turned down sheet and comforter. from this position she could gaze at me from about arm’s length. She touched my head and said, in Korean, “mori (head).” Then she pointed her little index finger gently at my eyelid and said, “neun (eye).” Next she pointed at my mouth, “ipe (mouth),” she said. Then she pointed at my chest, “Booby (booby).”

Next thing I know, she looked right at me and said, “Bye bye booby.”

“Bye bye booby.” Wow. What an insight. Yes, the booby is going bye bye as Chiara is turning 18 months in two more days and she doesn’t really need to nurse anymore. She eats really well, and seems to like the foods that are good for her, too, so I’m not so worried that she can’t get what she needs from the foods we fix for her.

But it’s taking a long time to wean. At this point it’s not much of a burden on me as I only nurse her once a day, early in the morning before I’m even fully awake. So I’m not pushing too hard, but I’m also not letting her backslide. The momentum is toward shortening the amount of time she spends nursing, until she’s completely over it. I think Chiara is telling me that she knows what’s going on and that was reassuring. The end is near!
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Here’s a recent photo of Chiara giving me a kiss while taking a bath. Luke played with her hair

jeanhee @ 1:54 am