Mote Image called and told me they uploaded 3 of Lin and Li’s pictures to their webpage as sample images.
Mote Image called and told me they uploaded 3 of Lin and Li’s pictures to their webpage as sample images.
Happy birthday boys, we made it! The first year has been so much fun and work with you but we don’t regret a bit. Yesterday you guys had such a blast at Mote Image and you fell asleep at 6pm! This morning you both woke up at 6am without waking up all night. Even though Mommy and Daddy decided that you can skip a birthday party or the cake, you have the most precious gift of memory to play back when you become older. Both of you are walking, talking and laughing, I really wish we could keep all these memory fresh but that’s not how things work, we just all have to enjoy the moments now. It’s amazing what you are capable of doing already, and how many teeth you’ve got (Lin, you have 8 molars coming through the gum already and Li, you have 4!) Everywhere we take you to, people stop and stare at you with smiles, you are really adorable and it’s not because Mommy thinks you are! I am glad that you will have each other as best friends for life, at least that’s mommy and daddy’s goal and we want you to continue to grow up healthy and happy.
The past year has been such a busy year, we flew with you to Shanghai when you were just under 2 months old (in late August), and we visited Lin’an in September, Xiamen during Christmas, then Phuket during Chinese New Year, unfortunately we had to go back to the US in a rush after the tsunami in March but you were all happy seeing Sharon, Gary, Matt, Colleen and your cousins Maddie and Anna, you also got to meet your great grandparents Rose and Steve, the list goes on, Ellen came from Florida to see you, the Reohrs came from Auburn, and many other friends in North Carolina, Aunt Nora came and helped many times with Uncle Joe, David and Johanna came often to spend time and give you classes, Welkin always stopped by and made us food, the list went on and on…you guys were so lucky to have so many people who love you!
Daddy will start working remotely tomorrow, after we deal with the road blocks, we will start our new life in New Zealand, we look forward to the new adventure with you, not sure what’s waiting for us but life is exciting with you anyway! May the next year filled with peace and love.
You are the best thing in our lives…
With all of our love,
Mommy and Daddy
P.S. Laurie, Me-me, Michele and Grandma & Grandpa sent their love and birthday wishes as well.
June 28~29, Trip to Nanjing, and a lot of pictures:
The older the boys get, the harder it seems to be taking them on a road trip. We thought it would be a good idea to take them to Nanjing, visiting Lijuan (Michael’s Chinese teacher at Confucius Institute). The high speed rail between Shanghai and Nanjing now shortens the 3 hour trip to just over 1 hour (not surprising that in less than 5 hours to go to Beijing from Shanghai now, only 3 years ago the first generation high speed train shocked everyone by making it 8 hours, makes you wonder how much faster can China go on the high speed trains). This time I took the picture of the speed 330km/hr (just over 200 MPH), pretty amazing, the train was comfortable even though we were surprised with a RMB 146(USD 25) ticket, and that’s the second class seating, the train to Nanjing was really crowded, plenty people had to stand in the hallway!
Lijuan picked us up from the train station with her brand new Volkswagen, it was a really big and beautiful SUV, and perfect to haul a family like ours, my aunt came along and she’s always a big help. Looking back, I don’t know if we would ever leave the hotel without a car and her driving (yes in China neither of us dares to drive). We stayed at the Holiday Inn Aqua City, it was very convenient for us to walk to Confucius Temple, and there’s endless shopping nearby, actually in the Aqua City. We spent only two days there, but went to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, visited Lijuan’s home (played some games) and walked around Lake Mochou, had a lot of snacks at Confucius Temple night market, met Dr. Xu for dinner, took the boys to a children’s store and played some games, it was great fun. I am so glad we made the trip, that completes the travel journey for the boys’ first year. They were so active in the hotel, so much that they broke the hotel crib (it looked nice but wasn’t well-built). Lijuan took us to lunch, dinner and even snacks, we felt really spoiled! We also love her apartment, its right by the famous Lake Mochou, and a really lovely community. Her mom also came and met us on the second day, she loved the boys and even fed them at lunch.
My aunt said at the end of this video, Lin’s leg was shaking, they are so curious about everything but then so afraid sometimes…
Our computer at home ran out of space since I took so many video clips and sometimes it’s hard to decide which one to upload. Here are some pictures and videos from the day we went for our medical exam at Parkway Health in Shanghai Center. Since we had to wait for the report, which we haven’t got yet, we went to our club house for a few hours in the afternoon. Boys love going there and now we make it a routine to take them swimming, playing and napping there every Saturday morning. They are so funny when they walk, I know soon we won’t be able to capture these precious moments of our little drunken sailors.
For lunch, we went to Din Tai Fung, a chain restaurant that’s really famous for Shanghainese dim sum, everything was so good – a must visit for visitors.
The teeth just keep popping out! I first noticed that both of their gums started to get swollen but not red. They about a week ago, these tiny little white parts started to come out, I think the boys have really big teeth, not sure if it is an indicator of anything but the molars look huge. Lin had two on top on his right, and one on the bottom to his left. Li had one on each side on the bottom. It’s amazing the boys advance almost everything within days, this time with the molars they came in on the same day!
Personally, I think the biggest challenge for parents with infants is to get them to sleep. We, from the very beginning, believed that co-sleeping is what we feel comfortable with. However, due to our travel with no permanence (still not yet), the co-sleeping arrangement can be really challenging.
Before the babies could sit up, putting them in the same bed was not a problem at all, my dad made these awesome wooden guards around the bed to prevent them from falling off the bed and it worked great. Lin and Li could sleep in the same room without waking up each other much, as a matter of fact, one could sleep no problem while the other one screamed, for a few minutes anyway. Then in March we went to the States, living in and out of the hotels and friend’s house was hard because they didn’t quite like the cribs. In Cary, the apartment complex provided us two pack-n-plays, which worked well. They didn’t mind sleeping in it, only when they were soothed to sleep for at least 10 minutes. We usually take them out and put them in bed if they cry at night.
So we purchased the GoCrib and a Graco pack-n-play when we returned to Shanghai, knowing that at 10 months, they wouldn’t do well sharing one room, and they could crawl out of the big bed and fall. It worked okay, but if they wake up at night, they didn’t want to stay in there. So Michael had this brilliant idea of putting the GoCrib in the big bed, send one boy in and when he wakes up, he wouldn’t cry. I got a tatami mattress for the living room play area, so the other guy can sleep on the floor with plenty of space. The problem I think for them now is that they like to roll around and the crib or even a child’s bed is to small for them. They would roll and sit up and cry. So the current setup is pretty good, they seem to be sleeping much better now, keep in mind that their molars are coming in as well, Lin had two on the top right, one on the bottom left coming through the gum, and Li had two on the top, about 4 days ago. Today I can feel more molars coming in, they look really big underneath the gum. So I am not complaining their sleep schedule, which is about an hour in the morning, another hour to hour and half in the afternoon, then between 7~7:30pm to 5~5:30am. For Lin, he can sleep through the night most of the time, but Li does wake up more often at night.
The very interesting thing is, they now don’t really want us to rock them to sleep any more. After we returned from the States, the boys somehow go to sleep at 7pm, and we just need to lay down with them but not leaving them alone and they roll and roll and fall asleep. So I guess that’s why we sleep train our kids, just watching them, this is so much easier than before!
Since they started playing with the old mat and digging holes and trying to eat the little pieces, we had to get some new flooring, I shopped on taobao.com and found some really neat puzzle mats. They are about 2.5cm think and come in plain four colors. We expanded the play area to about 100 square feet, which is much bigger for them to crawl and walk around. Just imagine two drunken sailors on these things, they are so cute! For the night, I bought some tatami mat for extra cushion but the boys, especially Lin, seems to like roll off the mat and settle on the floor. It was funny that I would wake up at night, and looking for him, he’s always somewhere else. Often I found him in the corner and it would take me a while to find him.
Our plan to emigrate to New Zealand is going pretty well. Michael got his offer from Landcare Research this week and he’s really happy, it’s just we will be leaving Shanghai end of this summer, a bit sooner than we expected. I have to say I will miss Shanghai for so many things. We won’t have as much help or possibly none at all after we move, now my aunt comes over Wed to Sat, our Ayi comes over Monday to Saturday (one more day than before) for two hours, making dinner, feeding one baby and cleaning up, once Michael starts working remotely, our Ayi’s friend will also be here Sun to Wed for 4 hours in the morning. I don’t know how we will be able to do it without these help but I guess we will have to figure it out one way or another. However, it is for the best of the babies to live in a very clean place and we will be able to have a more self-sufficient lifestyle there for sure.
Michael’s new job will be focusing on sustainability, and the project is funded by New Zealand government, he’s taking a big pay cut but the average household income in New Zealand is only about 30K USD a year. If you look at whole picture, we will probably be better off, because there are perks such as universal free healthcare coverage. It is ranked #2 for moms to raise children, and the government pays each family with kids every fortnight. Tax rate seems high at 38%, but no local state taxes, etc. so overall it’s no worse than the tax we pay in the US. There are only 4 million kiwis (for the whole country of New Zealand), and I am sure we will have a hard time making the adjustment from living with 25 million fellow Shanghainese to 81,000 in Palmerston North. Well, it is another adventure but I am really hoping this move will give us some permanence. At least it is far from radiation, so maybe we will get back to eating seafood again, and if we get really bored, we will just have to fly out somewhere. However, the most important thing that attracts us, is that it is one of the last places where people have a very strong sense of connection with nature and environment. Culturally it is less about money but real resources, and I am glad that Michael will be working for a company that does just that to ensure the place is kept clean and sustainable. I was very impressed when I visited in 2008, it was such a beautiful country. We really think it if ideal for what we desire.
I have to say the immigration process seems to be very very easy (or maybe no one really wants to go there to live???), it takes only about 3 months with a job offer. Compared with the 7.5 years with USCIS, it is really a breeze. That’s why it hit us big time when I got the call on Thursday that Michael’s blood test result came back with a problem. My aunt went with us in the early morning (on June 23) to Parkway Health at Shanghai Center, they checked the boys without any testing, Michael and I had to take urine test, blood test and Chest X-Ray. Boys weighed 10.9Kg each (24 pounds) – still 90 percentile – and their height was 75cm (I think they might be a bit short, I need to look into this more since I never really measure their length, when they were born they were long 20.5 and 21 inches). They were already walking a bit so the doctors and the nurses spent more time playing with them than checking them. We went to Din Tai Fung for lunch downstairs and then went to the City Castle Club House for the boys to play for a while. I got the call when we were getting ready to get back to Shanghai Center to pick up the reports. The doctor said Michael’s white blood cell count was low, only 2500 (normal range is 4000~10000). We were really surprised, they said he had to go in and take another blood test since this one won’t pass for sure.
Michael has been feeling tired lately and we wondered if his problem two weeks ago could have affected his blood test result. So I took him to Shuguang Hospital where we could see a doctor practicing Chinese medicine. We were lucky that we didn’t have to wait for long to see a specialist, she ordered another blood test and his WBC count went up to 3500 already, and there were minor deviation of other indicators showed that he had a viral infection recently, but it was not critical. The doctor said we didn’t need to worry about anything, she then asked if Michael uses computer a lot. We were also given some Chinese medicine to take home. On the way back, we thought the reason that his low WBC count was probably due to all the gadgets he has, he always had his Nintendo 3DS with him, and he always had the wifi turned on, so it was constantly broadcasting to search for other Miis, he also had his cell on all the time with the radio on. So these radiation might have caused the low WBC. Anyway I am giving him multi now, and asking him to eat more (he loves the food in Shanghai) and rest more too. One other thing that we were happy about was the bill was only 23USD (160 RMB) for everything, there’s really no reason paying for healthcare in China.
Recently Michael had a panic attack (at least that’s the closest thing I can think of), so stressed out about the baby crying. Once he starts working remotely, he will be better. It was very difficult for both of us, even though it only lasted a few hours, I did feel hurt. But we understand that is a normal thing parents, especially with twins, have to go through and I am happy that we were able to avoid confrontation against each other and were able to address the problem and find solutions for it. Michael is going back to his exercise routine, going to the gym couple of times a week. We hired another ayi so he can focus his time during work hours in the other room, and we are taking the boys to the kids pool and play room at the club house every Saturday. We also got back on our Wed/Sat yoga routine, what a great way to exercise, it’s hard work but relaxing in the same time. It also helps release the stress, as a matter of fact, I fell asleep today in the last 5 minutes of the class.
It’s been raining a lot lately, and I am talking about a lot of heavy rain. Today FINALLY we had sun and it feels good, since I am usually not in a great mood when it rains, I’ve been lazy writing the blogs, but within a week or so, the boys are not only standing, but WALKING!!!
The past week was also a week filled with concerns and questions. After Lin had a serious allergic reaction to the scrambled eggs, we’ve been really careful with the food we gave them. I thought it was the egg white but Lin continues to have bad diaper rashes, then Li had it too, they also had running poop, so Michael and I finally figured out that it was the bread that we gave them, they love bread and we usually shop at City Shop, they make this particular bread we like without egg or dairy products. However, at other bread shops, we found out even though they look identical, there was milk in there. I’ve been cutting back the amount of food and type of food I gave them, since originally I thought it could be the Muer Greens (a type of green vegetable that tastes like spinach but with richer texture) that caused the diaper rash since the “scrambled egg” reaction just didn’t seem to go away. So in the past three days, only porridge in the morning and watermelon juice with cereal for lunch then only carrots and eggplant for dinner. Until we figured out it might be the bread, their condition started to improve, Michael skipped bread one night on Lin and he had noticeable improvement. Now we think it was probably the butter in the scrambled egg that they were allergic to, not the egg. After we stopped giving them the bread, they got much better, this morning both of them had solid poop and their bottom looked fine again.
We also had an accident, one morning we went to the Chinese breakfast chain called New Asia Big Buns (新亚大包), they have a good variety of traditional Chinese breakfast items, noodles, shengjian (fried buns), wontons. We sat Lin in the high chair since they only had one, and Li was in the stroller, the waitress brought over the tray with two bowls of wonton, boiling hot. Before I realize, she put the tray right in front of Lin, and I screamed “no” even before the tray touched the table, but it was too late, Lin reached out this hand to one bowl and grabbed it, the waitress tried to take it away but then the bowl tipped and the more soup got on Lin’s right hand, he screamed right away, and I took him out and rushed him to the kitchen and ran cold water on his hand, then they gave us some ice. He cried basically the next hour, until we got home and put the calendular cream on his hand. People sometimes don’t really think, but in this case, the waitress was absolutely absent-minded and had no common sense, I guess we are not going back here any more since we were so upset. I just don’t think she would do the same thing if it were her own child.
Lin eventually had two blisters between his ring finger and middle finger, when the blisters popped, he cried a lot again, I also used the tea tree oil on the would to prevent infection, he’s recovering well but I am not sure if he learns from this lesson, he’s probably still too young to understand.
There are still very exciting moments! Only about a week ago, we noticed the boys could stand for a few seconds without support, then a few days later, they could take a step or two, yesterday, both of them were walking! Lin made a circle in about 6 or 7 steps, and he was really excited about his progress and clapped his hands and laughed, it was so cute. We got new flooring on taobao and we expanded their play area to 9 square meters, about 100 square feet now. They love crawling, and walking along the couch, and we are more comfortable with the setting as well. Lin was even crawling onto the couch by stepping on one of the cushions last night!