Boys turned 23 months old on June 2nd, I know I have been a slacker on updating the blog. I must have also missed quite a few details about the boys’ learning and development. They are growing taller and stronger, and their personalities really evolved over the past few months.
First things first, diet. Food is one of the core values in our family, watching “Got the facts on milk?” was the last straw we needed to give up dairy and it’s been great ever since. We tried giving up eggs for about a month and we decided to go back to eating eggs yesterday again. Once we started looking for veg*ns in the area, it was not hard to socialize with them. Michael and I really enjoyed the potluck this past Saturday organized by the veg*n group in Palmerston North, food was so fabulous and I can’t wait to go next time already. The majority of the vegetarians/vegans I met converted because of ethical reasons, I don’t really think there are a lot of people out there dislike meat but the killing, pain and suffering we humans put animals through seems to be the main reason people give up eating meat. With milk, it’s a similar story, to keep cows producing milk, the farmers make sure the cows are always pregnant, it’s not natural. Michael and I decided to go back to eating eggs, since there’s a lot of good nutrients in them and with the organic eggs, it doesn’t really cause the chickens pain, although some fellow vegans probably strongly disagree claiming that the organic egg industry does the same thing. Maybe I should take the advice of raising some chickens at home so we know they are for sure pain-free! Although some may argue that’s slavery as well. Boys continue to eat food that most kids won’t eat. They love vegetarian patties and sausages, they love avocado and steam broccoli, they love sushi, roti and rice porridge. I really can’t think of anything they refuse to eat other than raw salads. They eat fruits and bread in the morning, avo, veggies, beans and some sort of soup (lentil, porridge, etc.) for lunch, eggs, noddles, veggies for dinner. And snacks throughout the day, rice cake, dumplings, sesame paste, cashew butter. They love Little Bird raw macaroons (we love them as well) the most, and we use them as rewards for potty training, well they cost about $2 each quite expensive. They go number 2 at least three times a day, which I learned recently is very good.
Health wise, I am really happy, Lin and and Li did better than we did. They had a minor cold during our two week trip around the North Island, it got worse with some coughing but they recovered without any medication, it was not easy because we were on the road and it was really cold at a few places. What’s really crazy in New Zealand is that the weather can be very unpredictable, but wait, that’s not the crazy part, we can’t understand why people don’t insulate the houses here properly and central cooling/heating is a very rare thing. Considering how drastic the temperature changes, it should have been sense to either insulate the house with double glazing or having a good heating system. Yet for most family it’s neither. Not until 2010, the government required new home be constructed with double glazing (double window panes). We are lucky (at the time we were looking for a rental we didn’t know how lucky we were, all we knew was the house was only a few years old) to rent a house with Daikin central heating, and we like to keep the house at a comfortable temperature at all time, but as a result we have a $400~500 electricity bill plus $200 gas bill for gas (for hot water) per month. It’s still better than having the kids exposed to asthma or colds though. In New Zealand, 1 out of 4 children have asthma, in a society where medical care is completely free for children (that’s everything, doc’s visit, medication, consoling, etc.) it must be a big burden. It also doesn’t make sense to push for nearly 80% renewable energy national wide and allow people to waste energy through poor insulation. In Palmerston North, especially in the nicer neighborhoods, the majority of the houses were built in 1920s. Kiwi kids like to go barefoot sometimes, it’s not uncommon to see them on the streets without shoes in winter, they all wear shorts and T-shirt, they are mutants!
Boys now weigh 13.7 and 13.8kg (around 30.2lbs), they are taller and gradually losing their baby fat. I still breastfeed them at least 3 times a day (dropping from 5 times at 22 months). With my aunt’s help they now go to sleep without asking for milk if I am not around. I think this is mainly because they can understand what we say. I am really happy about the progress because it’s more difficult for me to put them to sleep they tend to stay on the breast for a long time, which is not good for any of us. Since we got back from the trip on May 28th, they’ve slept through the night, it’s wonderful. Now their bed time is around 7:30pm, and they wake up between 6:30~7am. During the trip, we were able to keep them active the whole morning so their nap schedule got better as well, now from 12:30 to 3pm, this makes my life 10 times better at the playcentre since I can tidy up with other parents rather than taking 2 sleepy fussy toddlers home. I kept waking up last night and wondered why I am not sleeping through the night??? Boys are so much easier once they have their routine, and I am going to train them brush their teeth before bed now. They’ve got beautiful teeth and we want to keep it that way.
Their favourite word in the whole world is “NO”, and unfortunately that’s often the only answer we get. Although it’s the cutest thing when I asked them, did you have fun? are you happy? they always nod their heads. My aunt and I found it helpful to take them out everyday and let them play somewhere for at least 2 or 3 hours, Lollipop Playland, McDonald’s, Library, Te Manawa (museum), or a new playground. That seems to be the trick for a good night sleep. Playcentre is a wonderful place for them, they love going there and play really hard, I don’t mind them getting dirty and pushing limits. Most kids there are older than they are so they observe and learn things that are really not suitable for their age, for example, I never thought they would do the challenge course but they mastered it in just 2 visits. It’s amazing what kids are capable of if you give them the challenges. Playcentre is such a wonderful idea, I wonder if any other country has adopted this model that’s originated in New Zealand. We attended the business meeting last week and realized how much work parents all put in running a playcentre. All the decisions are made and approved by everyone, we all have a voice we are a family in a way. They also pay for some costs say watching a kids show, getting extra help, education program, workshop and even babysitting services sometimes. Of course the New Zealand government funding is the majority of the income for running a playcentre, it’s recognized just as daycare or in-come care here. We are very fortunate to be able to raise our kids here since the only costs we have to pay is clothing and food (plus we get $138 financial assistance each week), this is apparently common in the European system, but unheard of in the US.
Lin and Li also have shown increasing independence in the past few months, they do not like me holding their hands, and often they push me away when they are on the slide or challenge course, they want to do everything on their own. They are eating with forks and spoon, in a bowl or on a plate, they can take off and put on (some) shoes, and they sure know what I am talking about in both Mandarin and English.
They continue to be fascinated by wheels, cars and they are almost able to say Qi Che (cars) in Chinese, they talk a lot in their own words and it’s quite entertaining. They do sometimes fight over things, and get overly excited when they get hold of things they are not supposed to touch such as my SLR camera. They pretend they’re having a serious conversation over their toy mobile phone but then they throw away my real but broken mobile and beg for my new one – they definitely know the difference! Other favorite things include helmets, bottles (and sometimes they hold empty shampoo bottle in bed), cars, shoes, rocks…really typical boy stuff!
We’ve noticed they have quite a temper now and when they cry and scream, they are so loud (I know every parent thinks their child is loud but ours are LOUD). Thankfully they are well behaved most of the time and I have very thick skin now. Just take them for a walk and they calm down in a few minutes. It’s good that toddlers are easily distracted, they seem to forget quickly what made them so upset. Other than the Wishbone trike they each got a scooter, a wagon so I think they’ve got plenty of wheels in the house! Palmerston North is a really great place to take them out – I am currently on the quest of exploring every single playground in the city, and I’ve done about 5 (10% only) and boys seem to do much better at home if they get to spend their energy outdoors. Lin in general, and has always been less observant, on the other hand, Li seems to be more sensitive to what’s going on around him. For example, when Michael and I go out, Lin would go about his routine without a problem, Li would go and check the house at times to see if we are there then go back to what he was doing without crying or whining. Li also seems to be more in tune with sound, I think he’s got a lot of talent for a musical instrument when he’s a bit older. Lin also seems to be more timid and easily gets scared, Li is not afraid of trying new things and usually doesn’t easily get intimidated. They have different personalities, and I have noticed that particular difference from when they were in the womb, pretty crazy!
The only thing that we couldn’t succeed is the potty training, I think we just missed the boat while they were young, they definitely know where they should go but just refuse to do it, we tried everything we can, reward, discipline, but they would hold it for an hour and go on the floor as soon as they leave the potty! Maybe it’s time to sit back and just wait till they are ready.
This past long weekend (Queen’s birthday) was wonderful, Michael and I really enjoyed spending time with the boys, we also got 8~10 hours of sleep at night. I organized the pictures from the trip and started working on boy’s profile books at the playcentre. And all of a sudden, I realized while looking through their old pictures, they are not babies any more, they are toddlers with their own thoughts and mind, temperament and personalities. They are growing so fast and I have mixed feelings about it. Parenting is such a challenging job and the challenges don’t stop, it’s a job for life but worthwhile every moment. And after the trip, Michael and I made a lot of efforts spending more time with each other, we actually played board game last few nights at the Cafe or in our room (quietly) while my aunt put them to sleep, I’m really happy since it’s about time to end the co-sleeping even though I think it benefited all of us for a long time, and were really glad that we had the opportunity to remind each other how much we care about each other…of course, my aunt is a godsend.
Here are some pictures over the weekend. We took the boys to Cafe Sosky’s, one of the best in town for breakfast, then the boys had a lot of fun at Memorial Park. Michael and I did quite a bit shopping but also spent a lot of time just hanging out.