Saturday, July 26, 2008


I've been accused of a little perfectionism here and there throughout my life. Some might classify me as a typical over-achieving, straight-As-in-high-school, slightly obsessive-compulsive type. As I've gotten older, I think these traits have mellowed a bit - well really who am I kidding? I've just maybe refocused them from school/career to other aspects of my life. I'm not the type to line up soup cans in my cabinets a la Sleeping with the Enemy. However I HAVE been known to: arrange my socks by color, use plastic hangers in colors that match the shirt hanging on it and obsessively record every expenditure in Quicken right down to cash paid for lunches at McDonalds. My parents tell me that when I was a baby I used to crawl around on the floor, pick up lint, dirt whatever and hand it to the nearest adult. Yup, not a lot of worrying about me eating foreign objects - I just wanted to keep the place clean.

And now we have Lily. And in so so many ways she is Gordon's daughter. She's social, vocal, loves motion, has tons of energy and likes taking risks. But lately, she's been adding to the general prefectionist wackiness around here. Maybe she's going through one of those "normal development stages". But knowing my own leanings, and that we share a fair amount of genetic material - I doubt it. Her newest, most-frequently used word now is "uh-oh". One day I would love to do a mental count and see how many times it's used. My guess is definitely in the hundreds. So what does Lily classify as an "uh oh"?

- yogurt has dripped from her spoon onto the plate, table, her hand, lap, whatever. "uh-oh!" She will repeat it until someone appears with a cloth to remedy the situation. Gordon has started giving her a cloth during yogurt sessions so she can take care of it on her own.

- baby/quack-quack/bear/puppy/monkey has fallen out of their swaddle. Now keep in mind that we have no blankets that are really appropriate for swaddling these creatures. The blankets are baby-sized and the swaddlees are stuffy-sized. So they are ALWAYS falling out of the blankets. A typical session goes like this:

Lily: Mah-ee (Mommy) quack-quack (her duck stuffy) blan-ee (blanket)
Me: Oh you want quack-quack wrapped in the blanket?
Lily: Yeah
[I swaddle quack quack, hand her to Lily. She looks delighted and runs off clutching him]
[2 minutes later]
Lily: Uh-Oh Quack-Quack! Uh-oh! Ma-ee! Uh-oh! Quack-Quack

- there is a stick/leaf/rock/trash/ANYTHING lying on the sidewalk outside. Yes, our walks now take even longer than they did before (how is that possible?) because every 2 feet we have to stop because "Uh-oh!" there is SOMETHING on the sidewalk. She then bends down and hands it to me. I need to remember to bring a bucket or something to collect these items in. Hey at least she's working to keep our street and the bike path free of debris.

- something is just in the wrong place. She definitely has an internal dialogue going on about how things should be in our house. And if something is not where it should be - she'll let me know - "Uh-oh Mah-ee!"

- Gordon or I or anyone in her vicinity has dropped something.

- something is in her way. My favorite example of this one is the time that she was on her rocking horse in the living room and I was behind the kitchen counter getting lunch together or whatever. She's happily rocking away and then "Uh-oh". I had NO idea what the issue was so I said "oh you're fine". Then: "Car!". I looked around and couldn't figure out where she saw a car. So I said "yeah, honey car" and went back to what I was doing. But she wouldn't be deterred "uh-oh car! uh-oh car!". I finally went over there. Her ride-on car (previously hidden from my view) was positioned so that the end of the rocking horse was hitting it when she rocked.

So here we are - like I didn't have enough of an INTERNAL dialogue going on telling me when things are "wrong" or "out of place". Now I have Lily to point out all the ones I may have missed. "uh-oh Mah-ee! uh-oh!".

Uh-oh indeed!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mystic and Fried Clams

[disclaimer: Clearly I fell behind on these vacation posts despite all efforts to the contrary. So I'm posting back in time here a bit - bear with me!]

Thursday afternoon the Holzes decided to go catch a showing of Wall-E while Lily was taking her afternoon nap. So Gordon and I lazed around the house doing a lot of nothing while Lily dozed. [Gordon sezs: Lazed around? I went for an awesome run, where I jogged to the next town, explored a wetland, rescued a lost theater critic, jogged a beach, climbed some rocks, forded an estuary, jogged another beach, swam out to the dock and basked in the sun!] Once she woke up we drove to Mystic to meet up with the rest of the gang for dinner. We walked around Mystic a little first and Tammy and I bought hats. Yay - turns out wearing a hat makes being out in the hot sun suck less. Wish we had figured that out a little earlier in the week! We ate fried clams for the second time that week at the Sea Swirl - a very yummy fried seafood and ice cream joint just down the street from downtown Mystic. If you get there give the fish 'n chips a try too - it's WICKED yummy.

This pic captures the bulk of Nate and Lily's interactions throughout the week. Nate was annoyed that she kept was touching his stroller, so Lily, of course, kept touching it. They could seriously pass for siblings.

Tammy trying on her cool new hat. The pics of me trying on my hat do not do my bad hat-wearing self justice, sorry.

The cuteness that is Mystic. The Holzes are strolling in the lower left corner.

Finally, we eat clams!

OK - photo caption contest - what is she thinking?


Lily learned a few new words this week. I attribute a lot of that to hanging out with the "older kids" and experiencing some new stuff. One of my favorite new words is "Surprise!". She added this one to her repertoire during some backyard playtime. Gordon and Andrew built a "fort" from the beach towels that were hanging on the clothesline to dry. They have one of those clothesline "structures" there - looks kind of like a giant antenna, you know the kind? Anyway - turns out if you hang towels on all sides you get a nice fort. So Nate, Julia and Lily would all go hide inside and then jump out at us yelling Surprise! I was so delighted (and surprised!) when Lily came charging out yelling it after watching Nate and Julia.

Lily also liked just hanging out inside the fort. Gordon joined her in there for a while to catch some photographic evidence. I think I need to build forts in our living room. She seems to enjoy just hanging out in there... hmmmmm that could be nice!

After all the playing, we had a nice picnic lunch of yummy yummy leftovers in the backyard.

Early Morning Stroll

I haven't written TOO much (I don't think) about Lily's awesome sleep habits because 1) I'm superstitious and have been convinced that when the pacifier went away our entire world would collapse and 2) I'm worried that my parent-friends will hate us. We have been pacifier-free for nearly two weeks now, so I'm less worried about the "jinxing us" bit. I will continue to refrain from gloating however since I do want to keep my friends. I will say though that she surprised even us by continuing her champion sleeping on our vacation. Bedtime was later (due to all the fun we were having) and a little rockier (because who wants to sleep when there's all that fun to be had?), but we pretty much got to sleep until 8 or 8:30 AM every morning.

Except for Thursday - because I heard a thud somewhere in the house (well two) around 7AM and became convinced that something had befallen Lily. I'm not sure WHAT I though had happened (I had already removed the painting from the wall behind the pack and play that I was sure would crush her in her sleep one night). But I just had to peak in and see if she was still breathing. Of course that woke her up and she was not going to be talked into going back to sleep. So we got up.

I'm lucky that Gordon didn't just roll over and tell me to deal with the consequences of my behavior on my own (you know, you wake it, you take it!) Instead we threw on some acceptable strolling about clothes, put Lily in the Ergo and set out for a stroll along the beach. Gordon got to take some nice photos with the morning light and Lily was delighted when a beach ball just rolled up to us out of nowhere.

Water Fun

I think I've already mentioned that one of the best features of our temporary home is an outdoor shower. It's been SO key for getting the kids rinsed off after beach time. In a stroke of pure mommy genius Tammy purchased a kid-sized pool and brought it along (she did a MUCH better job packing than I did, ask me about the 48 scones I made for this trip and then left in our freezer in Somerville). The pool has been awesome in providing a tub to go along with the shower. In fact we generally can't get Lily to shower/bathe anywhere else. It's also been useful for just providing an hour or so of fun without having to do a full on beach excursion. Here are some pics of Julia, Lily and Gordon having a ball in our outdoor "spa". Julia and Lily enjoyed giving Daddy the ever-so-popular "bucket of water over the head" treatment.

Mystic Aquarium

One reason we chose New London is its proximity to other destinations, such as Mystic CT and it's well-known aquarium (well-known to those of us who grew up in New England at least). So on Tuesday we loaded up the cars and drove out for a visit. Julia has aspirations of being a marine biologist and Lily loves fish and whales, so it was a good destination for our little group.

Sadly it was hot, really really hot. So we spent an hour or so trooping around outside, but found ourselves fading really quickly. We did get to touch some sting rays, watch sea lions being fed, catch some glimpses of a beluga whale and learn about penguins who like warm temperatures (who knew?). We had our lunch at the "Penguin Cafe" (or something like that) and then caught some indoor (read: air conditioned!) exhibits.

Touching Sting Rays

Sea Lions

Julia Seeking Out Some Shade

Gordon and I noticed that Lily was pretty much the only 18-month old running around like a complete maniac from exhibit to exhibit once we got indoors. There was a big round tank in the middle of the room with viewing areas on all sides. Lily ran from "window" to window shouting "No" at anyone else who happened to be trying to see the first as well. Now, keep in mind - there was SO MUCH ROOM for EVERYONE TO VIEW FISH. No real need for resource competition here. What is UP with her? I really really hope this phase passes soon because she's outgrowing the "oh, but look how cute she is " thing. Instead people look at me like "why did your kid just shout NO at me?" So, all you parents of toddlers older than mine who read this blog - all three of you - please tell me we'll be through this phase soon!

Fish! Fish!

We quickly tired of chasing Lily all over tarnation while she yelled "fish fish" or "no no" - and we were coning up on her naptime anyway. So we left the Holzes to continue enjoying the aquarium and made our way to the exit. We did stop in at the gift shop (which was, as Gordon noted, the most heavily air conditioned spot in the whole place, hmmmmmm). Lily found a new beluga whale friend to take home with her and a fun little fish book. She's really digging her whale and won't sleep without him.

Nate Passed Out After a Fun Day

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


So really, this post is overdue - about a week and a bit now. And it's one of those posts I should have written while we were experiencing it. But oh well, here we are - a week and a bit later. I cannot just forget it and not write it - for this is a momentous time for Lily Wong - she is no longer a baby - she has given up her pacifier.

Let me begin by saying that I have been a big fan of the book Baby 411. In this book Dr. Brown suggests using a pacifier, but stopping it when your baby reaches 4 months. Because at that point she can learn to soothe herself. At the time that I read it, it sounded like good, sensible advice. Our problem: we were flying to Hawaii with Lily when she was 7 months old. And we really really didn't want to attempt a 12+ hour travel experience without the pacifier in our back pocket. So really it was more about our comfort than Lily's.

Our Hawaii trip came and went and around that time we transitioned Lily to only using the pacifier to sleep - just for nap times and bedtime. And honestly, it was pretty great. Lily has always been a good sleeper, but I think that the pacifier was a big help here as well. So the weeks and months ticked by and it never seemed like a good time to say goodbye to our friend. Honestly, I was terrified to do it. We have this spectacular magical sleeping baby - why mess with THAT? We had a kid who clamored to get INTO her crib at night, who put herself to bed when with a baby-sitter. Can you blame us?

Finally, right around the 16-month mark, Mimi decided to stop using the pacifier for naps at daycare. It took all of two days. The first day she let her take a bottle of milk with her and that was pretty much that. I swear day care is magic somehow. Upon hearing this news we decided to try at home too that weekend. It did not go well. She cried so hard she was hyper-ventilating and I just couldn't take it. I was weak and not yet ready for this. So we went on as usual at home, even though the pacifier was still a thing of the past at day care.

Then things started changing at home a little bit. Tantrums started happening - more often and for pretty much any little thing. One day we had a tantrum at the end of a day care day because I wouldn't carry her from the car to the elevator (it's literally a distance of like 20 feet) when we got home. She was so distraught when we finally got into the apartment that she asked to go into her crib. That's when I realized that she was relying on the pacifier to calm herself and it seemed like a step backwards. So Gordon and I talked about it, set our resolve and decided we had reached the "right time".

On Wednesday of that week (about two weeks ago), we started talking to Lily about this plan of ours. We told her that she is a big girl now and that pacifiers are for babies. We told her that on Friday she would be saying good bye to hers. At first she seemed cool with this, she'd even give it over to us right then. But if we tried to leave the room with it - well not so much. We repeated this song and dance on Thursday. Friday morning came and we woke her up and told her to put the pacifier in a bag and say "bye bye" to it. She did. Then went about her day like normal.

Nap time came at 1PM and went surprisingly "OK". She cried steadily for about 15 minutes, but then slowed down and was asleep by 1:25. She then slept until 4PM. I was encouraged by this result and thought night time would be similar. Sadly, it was a bit more traumatic. The night started out OK. She took a little while settling down, but it wasn't too bad. We gave her Baby Tad (remind me to write my "ode to Baby Tad" post one of these days), her favorite blanket, some extra stuffed animals and a sippy up to fill the void. One thing that totally took us by surprise was the sophisticated nature of her debate. As we're getting ready to leave her room for the night she looks at us and very clearly says "Lily baby", while gesturing for her pacifier. OK kid, just rip out my heart and step on it, please. There's nothing like telling your 18-month old that she's a "big girl" and having her insist, "no Mom, I'm still a baby now GIMME THAT PACIFIER!" Gordon and I were hovering between "uh, if you came up with that on your own you're definitely NOT a baby, nice try" and "YES YOU ARE OUR BABY AND ALWAYS WILL BE - HERE ARE TEN PACIFIERS!!" We looked at each other for support and left her to fall asleep for the night without her pacifier for the first time.

Surprisingly she did pretty well - it was much like the earlier nap. It got difficult however, about 2.5 hours later when she woke up for the first time and dind't have her trusty pacifier to help her get back to sleep. We went in to her a couple of times, but ultimately had to leave her to work it out on her own. It was arguably one of the hardest things we've had to do so far. My memory is fading, but I think she was up for a good 1/2 hour this time and it was a HARD 1/2 hour. The cries of "baby, baby, Lily baby" coming from the monitor were just heart-breaking.

But it did get better, as we were assured it would. Friday night she had a couple of additional wake-ups, but each time only took a little comforting to get back to sleep. Remember, up to this point we've been VERY SPOILED on the sleep front, so the smallest disturbance feels traumatic to us. Saturday night she went to sleep with no problem at all, had another tough wake-up at midnight, and then was fine the rest of the night. Sunday was a little dicey going to bed, but then all was quiet the rest of the evening. And now, nearly two weeks later, it's like there was never a pacifier to begin with - amazing.

She still likes to tease us about how she's a baby and NOT a big girl, but she does it with a smile on her face and then insists on drinking from a regular cup and NOT a sippy. So I think it's her way of being cheeky. She's even modified it a bit to saying "baby-yo" instead of just baby. We're not really sure why, it might have to do with Gordon teaching her to say "yo yo" and cross her arms all rapper-like. Bedtime takes a little more effort now and some nights she's got her entire collection of stuffed animals in there with her. But all and all it's been a nice smooth transition. We're so proud of our big/little girl!

More Lily Boardwalk Photos

OK these are still from last night's boardwalk fun... but I didn't manage to fit them into the last post and couldn't bear to not post them. They're just too good. Kudos to Gordon for capturing some great light in the one of Lily on the bench. The cookie one is here to prove to the world that we're not TOTALLY depriving our child of all things yummy. I had to post the one of me and Lily on the carousel so I can come back here and remind myself how awesome it was to ride with her. Is there really anything better than seeing a look of pure joy and excitement on your child's face? Some of that sushi from O-Ya may have come close - but it was too expensive to actually enjoy :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ocean Park Beach and Carousels

We spent our first full day here exploring the area around our house. Right down the street is Ocean Park Beach - complete with a beach, boardwalk, park, water park, mini golf and attractions for people lucky enough to be between 36 and 54 inches tall.

Gordon, Julia, Lily and I went and checked it out earlier in the day. It was before things were really hopping there, but we strolled along the boardwalk, played a little in the park and on the beach and ate some hamburgers and french fries. Then we tried out the carousel. These were Lily's first carousel rides and she thought it was a very good time. In fact, she cried when the ride stopped after her first one.

Swinging in the BIG Swing

Julia's Carousel Ride

Riding with Daddy

The afternoon found Andrew, Lily, Julia, Nate and I at the beach while Gordon and Tammy made us all a yummy dinner. I had to explain to a woman there that only ONE of these kids was actually mine - ha ha. Lily did more excavating in the sand while Nate and Julia swam out to the dock with Andrew. Thankfully Lily was happy playing in the sand, because playing in the ocean is more Daddy's job in our little family. Mommy's a "sit on the beach and read" type.

LOVE the outdoor shower

After dinner we all went back to the boardwalk together. There was some sort of 50's carnival going on complete with bouncy house, a hot dog eating contest and carnival games like "throw pie in that guys face for a laughs". We got in more rides for the kids and everyone had fried dough. Lily is having a blast discovering all the food we've endeavored to keep her from so far. Her face registered pure joy as she ate these mini chocolate cookies I procured from a bake sale table. Julia and Nate were excited when they played a little game and won coupons for free Mini-Melts which were promptly redeemed for yet another yummy snack.

Nate ready to blast off in a bee

I want to be TALLER!

mmmmm fried dough!

On a side note the trip has already left Lily with some new skills. She's got two new words: "Nate" and "ride". In classic Lily style she is uninterested in saying "Julia" but had Nate down the minute she got here. Last night as we put her to bed she was protesting and calling "Nate Nate Nate" in hopes that he would come rescue her. She has decided that sippy cups (including the brand new straw one that she loved for all of five days) are no fun and only wants to drink from big kid cups. She's even getting accustomed to sitting in big girl chairs instead of her fisher price booster.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Today's post is coming at you live from our borrowed (okay rented) vacation home in New London, CT. This year we decided to take a week-long shore vacation with our friends the Holzes. I've been REALLY REALLY bad about blogging about them because we often see them in New Jersey around the holidays and then I'm away from my computer too long and am overwhelmed with all the fun stuff we did when I get home so I never get around to writing about it. We also take so many pictures that I can't pick out my favorites. So that is NOT going to happen this time. I've got my laptop here and I'm going to blog as we go. Let's see if I can actually make that happen.

First, a brief background on the Holzes. Gordon and Andrew have been friends for a long time. Ummm at least high school, maybe longer - I wasn't there so I'm not sure. Oh - I just got clarification! Apparently they met in 7th grade, but Gordon's reputation preceded him. Andrew and Gordon went to different elementary schools, West End and East End (Pet Shop Boys anyone?). And in 3rd or 4th grade Gordon was easily the biggest kid on his little league team. So Andrew knew of Gordon as that "big Chinese kid" from West End. Ha! Tammy met them in college, she and Andrew were married a while back and now they have two children, Julia (6) and Nate (nearly 3). We spend as much time as we can with them - both in New Jersey and Boston. When I met them Tammy was pregnant with Julia. Gordon and I were enamored with Julia immediately and thought "wow kids are so great, lets have a bunch too!" ha ha - no seriously - she was one of my first "kid experiences" and definitely got me looking forward to starting our own family some day. Nate came along in 2005 - Tammy was pretty pregnant with him at our wedding actually.

Julia, Andrew and Nate

This year we decided to try a traditional "family vacation". You know - when you go somewhere other than the house of one of the families involved and wreck that place instead? We converged on New London, CT when looking for a place that was accessible to both of us, near a beach, yet also near other attractions. We ended up in a house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and an outdoor shower. The house itself is a bit dated and cooking in the kitchen is a little of a challenge, but the space and location are really great. Everyone has their own bedroom and there are even two family rooms - so people can get some time off when they need it.

We are within walking distance of a little private beach that is just perfect for us in terms of size. It's close enough that we can haul sand chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards and little ones by foot without wanting to shoot ourselves before we get there. There's a little dock thing for jumping off that is easy to swim too and a bunch of rocks for exploring. Julia is big into that and was excited to find starfish around the beach on their first day here. She was less psyched on Sunday because it was seaweed-y and the beach "smelled yucky".

Julia watching the ocean

Gordon and I had a wedding to attend in Newport, RI on Saturday night so the Holzes arrived a day before we did. We drove down on Sunday morning and spent the afternoon exploring our little beach. Lily had a GREAT time. She loved the sand, she loved the water. Gordon took her out on one of the boogie boards and she loved that too. Nate and Andrew had dug a huge hole and Lily decided to move the ocean from its current place into that hole. She found a plastic Dora cup that someone had discarded - much more manageable for her than the big plastic buckets - and proceeded to troop back and forth between the ocean and the hole, bringing back cupfuls of water to dump in each time. She was SO determined. Man, she's definitely my kid. It sort of reminded me of how, when working for my Dad at his engineering firm in the summer, I would spend ALL day going through files and removing ONE piece of paper from each one just because they told me too. The futility of the task did not deter me, I was all dogged persistence. Well, that's Lily. I'm so sorry kiddo!

Surfer Girl

Nate hamming it up

Little girl, big bucket

Determination at its cutest