almost 3 years ago

Josephine is officially a toddler!

And she is quickly learning. In many, many ways.

I had written the first draft of this post in October, when she was 14 months. Just even looking at what I had written as the draft, I can see how fast she has grown.

My draft at 14 months showed that she was walking but falling over very often. Now she doesn't unless she trips. She was just beginning to imitate doing things I do, like mopping the floor (with the wrong end of the broom), putting things in and out of shopping bags, wiping the floor and throwing things into the trash can. I wrote down, at 14 months, that she was just beginning to be able to make basic communications, but were limited to waving her hands for "no", "agua", and a very confused usage of "mama" and "dah?".

Just in the last week, she has accumulated a much larger vocabulary. She now completely understands the meaning of "mama" and "papa/baba". In my absence, she will say "mama" when she expects me. She can correctly identify "agua" to be more than just water in cups, but extends to any body of water, including ponds and fountains. She learned that cows "moo" and kids "giggle" and the wheels on the "bus" goes around, from suddenly taking a very strong and focused interest in YouTube videos of "wheels on the bus". Before, I had iPad apps for babies that teach them about animals and objects and she never cared about them, but now she suddenly will focus on particular ones and attempt to imitate the sounds.

All this is especially exciting not just as a parent but as someone who is devoted to helping scientific research. As it happens, we are at the end of our 6-day trip in San Diego for the Plant and Animal Genomes Conference. This is my third year here and Josie's second year here. On one of the plenary lectures, Erich Jarvis gave an amazing speech on his research on vocal learning (he has a lot of YouTube videos, this is part 1 on his bit about vocal learning through studying song birds). I never knew much about vocal learning, much less the science behind it. Not only did I learn so much cool science from his talk, I also was again happily confirming that I chose the right job to work at a company that helps make this kind of scientific study possible and better. As I sat there and listen to his talk, I couldn't help think: "Wow, I guess this gene must be highly expressed in Josie right now!" And I'm not gonna lie --- I became an instant fan girl (of the science kind) --- and then this happened:

Praise be to social media! What's even more exicting was later I personally met him at my company's dinner party and was able to chat with him a bit! girl moment aside, I had an excellent time at the conference. And during these 6 days, Ian was the sole baby sitter during the day. I think he now thinks our nanny is superhuman for being able to watch Josie so consistently since she was 5 weeks.

I joke that there are many similarly-aged babies at work, but Josie is the only one who keeps showing up at company events. She's been to our user group meeting, our company halloween party, BBQ lunch, Christmas potluck, appreciation event....yeah, she's like the baby that just won't go away! Luckily, my company is generally pretty relaxed about this (I'm sure if all the babies showed up everytime they'd go crazy, but I'm the only one with thick skin, hahaha).

ON sleep and breastfeeding

Over time, I have found that there seems to be two camps of baby bed time. What appears to be the dominant camp is sending your baby to bed some time between 6 - 8PM. Parents usually have their own dinner and relax time after the baby is asleep and go to bed around midnight. Then the kids usually wake up between 6 - 7AM and the day begins. With this first camp, the benefit is that the adults get their own precious alone time at night. The drawback is if the adults want to go out, a babysitter must be called in.

We belong to the second --- and I think the minority --- camp. I typically nurse Josehpine to sleep around 9 - 10PM. Most of the time I fall asleep at the same time; every now and then I will stay up for another hour doing some light stretching. Then I wake up whenever Josehpine wakes me, which is anytime between 7 - 9AM. With our approach, we have the benefit that Josehpine can go out at night with us for dinner, walks, and visiting friends. The drawback is we don't have a lot of "alone" adult time. Though frankly, whenever I have alone adult time, I either workout, read, or work, so it's not like it's any different. Since I don't drink or dance, I never had a nightlife to begin with anyways.

I still breastfeed and at 16 months, Josehpine does not show any signs of weaning. She loves nursing! I realized not all babies are that attached the boobs, but she is. It remains the single cure to any malady: hunger, teething pain, sickness, crankiness, sleepiness, sadness, ...I have yet to encounter a situation in which giving her boobs did not calm her down. Though I claim Josehpine to be a difficult baby and indeed she is quite a handful, I must credit where credit is due. For instance, she gets very mad if she wants boobs and is denied access. But if you give her boobs, she is willing to even nap in the most awkward places possible, like my lap.

In fact, I typed the 14-mo draft for an hour at home with her wedged between me and the dining table:

I don't know how it was possible that she felt comfortable sleeping like this. But she was.

ON cooking and eating

Cooking and preparing meals remains challenging. If possible, I would really like to eat home-cooked meals as often as possible. Though I eat everything, I can get pretty picky about my meals. Cooking means I have full control over the quality of the ingredients and the level of spices used. Alas, I haven't quite got it all down. I cook once or twice a week and that covers 3 - 5 meals. The rest are covered by using services like Munchery, Postmates, and eating out. It's not ideal, but it will do for now. Like everything else, I think it can only get better as Josie gets older.

Though my nanny always said it, I didn't think Josie was a good eater --- until we got a partial nanny share. We have a boy who is two months younger than Josie who comes to our house for nanny share once or twice a week. It's not many days, but I think just the right amount of interaction for Josie. The boy is a lot quieter, has a mild temper, and boy does Josie bully him even though he is taller! Seeing how the boy is much pickier at mealtime made me realize with all the trouble Josie makes, not eating is not one of them. Heck, she even ate natto when I offered it to her last week!

ON health and illness

So far, Josie has not had big health problems. She did have roseola which caused very high fever (101-103F!) for several days, but eventually recovered. Last November she had a bad month where she had very itchy rashes around her neck and body. Only until the pediatrician prescribed very strong steroid cream did they start to get better. Her rashes still come back every now and then, but if it gets worse I just quickly nip it in the bud with the cream. She does appear to have a propensity for mild skin allergies. Hopefully as she ages it will get better.

That's about it for 16 months!

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