Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Astrid & U. are back from Germany

"Mommy....mommy...mommy!" shouted Astrid as she threw her arms around me and peppered me with questions.


So good to have them both home safe and sound. U. did a great job of taking care of her, and in her own way she took care of Papa (brightening his days which would have been very sad with the illness and impending death of this mother). U. said she (Astrid) was the best part of the whole trip.

On a funny note - it was dinner time when they arrived and Astrid said, "Mom, I want to eat rice." Too much German food - my little girl missed her Asian food. =)


On the bright side:
U. getting to spend 2 weeks alone with Astrid was a blessing.


Spending almost 2 weeks in Germany greatly improved Astrid's understanding of German, and she now tries to say things in German (rather than refusing to). U., Astrid and I would speak to each other via Skype using a web cam and I was thrilled when Astrid said, "Ich liebe dich" (I love you in German) to me.


Astrid got to swim just about everyday in indoor hotel swimming pools. And got to visit forests where she fed goats. When I asked her if she saw any wild boars in Germany she said, "No mom. They all sleeping."


Her vocabulary has greatly improved. Being away from her, I noticed this immediately upon her return. Not just a chatterbox, but really well formed sentences using a larger arsenal of vocabulary.


Astrid rediscovered her doll in the car and the following conversation ensued:


Astrid: "Mom? Was my baby here in the car for 2 weeks waiting for me?"

Me: "Yes, I guess she was."

Astrid: "Oh poor baby. She probably misses me."

Me: "Don't worry. I took good care of her."

Astrid: "But we can't leave her in the car anymore mom. I have to take her to school with me."


I mentioned to U. that even though she spoke in sentences before, (an employee of mine at work said my kid talks a lot for her age), but you still had to fill in the blanks to figure out what she was saying or talking about. Now, it's clear as a bell.


When I ask Astrid if she missed me - she'll say "yes" or "No, I talk to you on the phone. I see you. But I don't know what you doing." That pretty much sums it up in my kid's world.


As soon as she was back home she was mama's girl again, following me around, not wanting to be in different room than I, wanting me to help her with a puzzle. (She LOVES puzzles now!) When U. noticed that she was all over me and ignoring him he said, "Oh now Papa isn't important anymore huh? I was for 2 weeks but now that Mama's back I'm out of the picture huh?" At one point she even told him to go downstairs - and I had to step in and remind her to be nice to Papa and give him a hug and kiss. Just wait till she's a teenager - when the mother hating starts percolating and dad will be the next best thing since sliced bread. (Then he can return the favor by reminding her to be nice to me.)


On the not so bright side:
She's been used to sleeping with U. every night - so now it's been a challenge to get her to sleep in her own bed. You should have seen the crocodile tears Thursday night when I tried to put her to sleep in her bed - "I...gulping for air...want...gulping for more air...to sleep with...gulping for air....you, mommy. Please!" We compromised by letting her sleep in our bed - but she went to sleep by herself early - so U. and I could catch up. On Friday when the babysitter came - they went swimming as usual and had dinner - and then she read to her - and when we got home she was sleeping in her bedroom. As soon as she woke up though, she came into my room - and then went downstairs "to see what Papa is doing". U. is a bit jet lagged as well.


(We just went through the whole "getting her to sleep in her own bed" routine when we returned from Fiji. We allowed her to sleep with us during our vacation to be close to her. But as soon as we returned she wanted to continue doing that, and we did not. It took awhile, but we got her back into her own bed. Now this is like "back to bed" routine de ja vu.)


I cracked down on the TV before she left - not allowing her to watch any TV in the evenings before bed. (Only allowing her to watch PBS cartoons in the morning so I could get ready for work - out of necessity.) I noticed that allowing her to watch TV before going to bed only delayed the whole bedtime process and as it seemed to stimulate her instead of making her more tired. I was adamant about no TV. But flying, and sleeping in different hotels and the whole traveling all by yourself with a 3 year old in Europe - U. understandably needed some time to himself each evening so he allowed her to watch TV. So now it's back to cracking the whip and putting my foot down. She turns on her charm and tries her best to persuade me with a big smile and "Later can I watch TV mom? Please? Just a little bit okay?" My response is either "No tv" or "We'll see" - but meaning the same thing "No TV" but getting much different responses.

It took days for Astrid to finally understand that Oma doesn't have a swimming pool. "Yes, Grandma has a swimming pool" she'd say (meaning my mom in California).

Her new juice addiction. Before she left for the trip she drank water daily, an no juice. But with the carbonated water in Germany (which Astrid HATED) U. was forced to allow her to drink juice. Hence the new addiction, and she no longer wants to drink water with her meals. Back to the drawing board - starting to reverse that bad habit.


Visiting her terminally ill German Grandmother was very traumatic for the little one. As perceptive as she is, she described the whole situation as "scary" and "ghost". This being her first time around an illness and death. After the first evening she woke up with night terrors screaming, and it took 20 minutes of U. holding her and trying to console her and comfort her, for her to stop crying. But I'm still glad she was able to visit with her Oma and see her one last time.

I'm just so glad to have them back home with me again. It always felt like something was missing with them gone - and now that void has been replaced with my family again.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fiji family vacation in pics

This post will be moved to 7/10/08 soon.

Here are some photos from our family vacation to Fiji. It was our 2nd trip to Fiji, and Astrid's first outside the womb. (1st time was when I was 6 months pregnant and U. and I had our babymoon there.)

This is the 11th country Astrid has visited
1) USA
2) United Kingdom
3) France
4) Austria
5) Germany
6) Netherlands
7) Italy
8) The Vatican (yes, it is it's own country in Italy)
9) Spain - Ibiza
10) US Virgin Islands
11) Fiji