Friday, October 31, 2008

Alex playing with Sophie

Like I said, I am not so much worried about sibling rivalry as I am about Alex being "over-loved" (i.e squished) by Sophie.

Sophie constantly wants to hug, hold and play with Alex, and LOVES being "the Big Sister". She's usually very gentle, but still I need to watch them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One month old and all is well

There are currently very few photos of Alex which are blog-worthy because (apart from the fact that she is the "poor neglected 2nd child!"), most photos are of her nursing, and I am not altogether enthusiastic about baring myself completely on the internet. My soul maybe, but my other body parts is just Too Much Information.

This is one of the few shots without my accompanying boob. Sadly as we are not in sunlight, you cannot see her eye color too well - but it is still a very deep blue.

I'm a bit fixated with getting a photo of her with blue eyes because, like her sister, it will change to dark brown really quickly. Either I catch it in photographic form or else the moment will pass. With my sleep-deprived baby brain, I can just about recall my 2 kid's names so I can forget about any long standing nostalgic memories.

We had a one month check on Tuesday, and she's 58 cm and 4.8kg. This is well into the 90th percentile, so you can see she's making the most of this breastfeeding on demand thing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Note to Sophie

Dear Sophie

This is your first class photo at Ivy Academy. There are 12 children and 4 teachers.

The smiling lass in the cap is Rebecca (Teacher Becky)who ranks up there with mom and dad for people on Sophie's list of most influential people.

Coming a close second is your best friend - Louise (the little blond angel in the bottom right hand corner in the pink top). She's a little older than you, and you want to do everything that she does. When I say everything I mean that if Louise wears alot of pink, then this has suddenly replaced green as your favourite color. Louise also speaks beautiful French which you are picking up on everyday (including the grammar errors).

Right now, in 3 languages, you can sing really well (you love the Alphabet song!), and you can count aloud till 20. Your English and French is still not at the same level as Chinese (which you always use in unfamiliar situations or when you get really excited). You love playdough and cutting up paper with scissors. Your love of painting is getting a bit out of hand, and Mom feels sorry for the environment by the amount of paper you use up (even if it is recycled paper). In fact you are such a perfectionist that, even if you've painted something halfway and made a mistake, you throw it away and start all over again.

You have such a good time in school that I am thinking of increasing your attendance from 3 times a week to everyday next year.

Little by little we are cutting those apron strings and letting go, and it's a mix of emotions on my part as we begin your scholastic journey which will be long (hopefully) and eventful (probably!).

Still, you'll always be my first baby.

Love... your mommy

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Fast Moving Fish
Originally uploaded by vacheorange
My mom packed some fish for me all the way from Singapore - thanks Mom! It's supposed to be good for lactating women,

This is Sophie at about 1 year old looking at fish at Seoul aquarium.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday in a full circle

When I worked in Singapore, I used to hate Mondays. You know that there is something seriously wrong with your job when you start mentally picturing "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the entrance to your office. (**for those of you too lazy to google, this is the slogan inscribed above Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps and it means "work makes one free") The gallows humor was what kept me going for a while I think, but finally I am glad that came to China.

Here, I actually look forward to work. I have the resources from the firm to cultivate and look after my own clients, do my own work. It's a prosaic relationship that I have with the firm - I do my own thing and bill the hours, and they give me a salary and leave my alone and everyone is happy like this. Of course, a congenial working environment and an excellent mentor are bonuses, but even without it, I would still be reasonably content - I don't ask for much.

Now on maternity leave, I am enjoying the time as a stay home mom. I am enjoying the silence at home. My husband is having a meeting in Paris (he left on Sunday night), Sophie is in school, the ayi is doing the laundry, and above the soft hum of the washing machine, I am cuddling Alex while we listen to "Hey Jude" in the Beatles for Babies version.

My job now is just Dairy Cow and diaper changer. I also moonlight as sandbox companion and climbing frame spotter. My dare-devil daughter and her climbing frames. This is a kid sometimes too shy to talk to strangers, but will be up on those "spider web" type climbing frames all the way to the top in a flash (if you let her). I usually am torn between wanting to keep her safe and letting her explore. My luke-warm compromise is to let her go up half way (up to where I think I can catch her if she falls).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Veggie Tales

Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your children.

Over the weekend I went to the supermarket with Sophie. (** I tell myself that the supermarket comes within the rules of the Chinese post-natal confinement practice, because it is inside my housing compound.) I left Sophie tailing behind me when I went to the deli counter to buy cheese, but some parental 6th sense made me turn around and check on her behind me, about 30 seconds too late !

Sophie was happily tucking into a lolly when I saw her. I've never figured out why supermarkets have candy counters just at the height of very small children, but I would like to kick the person who designed this. Somewhere in the middle of wresting the lolly and paying for it and immediately binning it, I am sure I was launching into this long-winded explanation of how you cannot just take things from supermarket counters without asking mummy first.

I came home and surfed online for a while, apparently this is pretty normal behavior, but I am fairly determined to nip it in the bud before it gets worse! While surfing I came upon this site: - veggie tales. They are a collection of story books where the main characters are a bunch of talking vegetables, and through them transmit values such as taking responsibility and telling the truth.

If you are figuring out a gift to get - Veggie Tales would be well appreciated !!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A sunny and quiet spell

Fab's parents left yesterday, Sophie and her dad dropped them at the airport and then went horse-riding at the stables near the airport. I really need to upload the photos which we took when they were here, we got some great (extended) family ones.

Have decided against the double stroller - far too bulky for our needs. What works best is to have Sophie in the Quinny and sling the baby. But very rarely will I have to bring 2 children out by myself, so we are fine for now.

It was wonderful having Papy and Mamy here, Sophie spoke a great deal of French, we had more adult company in the house, and they taught the ayis how to make all of my husband's favorite foods (enough to keep us going in winter anyway). Sophie currently loves to yell "Bon Appetit!" to every single person at the table before commencing every single meal.

There is something I appreciate deeply about not going back to work on Mondays, the quiet lull following a weekend when all the cogs in the machinery are humming again, and you have the deep satisfaction of not being just another wage-slave. One of the deepest benefits about not working is being able to appreciate the NOW very much.

Another one is being able to appreciate my 2 lovely daughters. This is the older one at school last week (pictures courtesy of Ivy) :

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Alexandra Yi Ru Thibault

This is the complimentary photo from the hospital.

Alex has amazing neck muscles for a 2 day old infant, and she managed to hold her head upright for that photo.

Her head shape is still slightly molded from the journey out of the birth canal but luckily she's not cone-headed.

Unfortunately her hair had started shedding already, so there is less of it than when she appeared. But you can see from the photo that it is not actually black but a dark brown.

She has her dad's blue eyes for the moment, although she definitely won't keep them (no recessive blue eye gene on my side of the equation I'm afraid).

We took her to the hospital to get her birth certificate today - she is currently 55 cm and 4 kg.


I had been complaining about the selection of dolls in Beijing. It seems really difficult to buy a doll that is NOT blond and blue eyed and some variant of Barbie, or some random Disney princess. I had been looking for a doll with Eurasian features without much success, and at this point was happy to settle on just an "Asian" doll without it being sterotyped in cheong sam or kimino.

Sophie finally has 2 dolls. One from her French grandparents with dark hair and eyes which she baptized as "Baby" (what else?) and a Haba one from my German friend Miriam whom she calls "Lukas". It's wonderful that Lukas has light brown hair and light brown eyes.

We have pretty amusing conversations regarding Baby and Lukas. Since she started school, Sophie started speaking increasing amounts of English voluntarily, although Chinese is still her language of choice. Her English contains some grammar errors still, but we're working on getting out of 2nd language level.

"wah wah wah"
"Sophie, why is Baby crying?"
"Baby hungry"
"here, why don't you give Baby some food?" (I hand her the fake milk bottle)
(several minutes later)
"Wah Wah Wah"
"what's wrong Sophie? Didn't you feed Baby?"
"Just Joking Mama ... Baby no drink milk"

(** for a split second I wonder whether she is going to tell me she is worried about melamine !)

"Why doesn't Baby drink milk, Sophie?"

"No milk from bottle. "

And my 2 year proceeds to lift her t-shirt up and put the doll to her breast!!

Yep - apparently, Baby is exclusively breast-fed too. Just like Baby Alex....

Monday, October 06, 2008

back to typing with one hand

i forgot what this was like!

I (belatedly) recall doing a lot of one-handed typing when Sophie was a nursing infant. Alex has just reminded me of this... basically I balance her on a boppy pillow and cradle her head with one hand and type or check email with the other.

When I was still able to read (of late my brain has gone mushy ... wonder why?!!) I read this great piece by Jared Diamond about the evolution of this concept of Monogamy. Anyway, apparently, in a very hackneyed interpretation of his excellent work, my decision to have a second child by Fabien is supposed to be a evidence of my belief in him as a good provider for our offspring and of our long term prospects together.

Well, truth be told, Fabien is an excellent dad. I couldn't ask for a better spouse, and he takes great care of our firstborn so well, giving her loads of extra attention so that she does not feel displaced by baby 2. I am relishing my time as a stay home mommy. I sometimes feel sad that my first baby (Sophie) doesn't need me anymore - but that's the whole point of parenting really - to enable an autonomous individual eventually NOT to need you!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Singing in the park

Skimmerinky dinky dink
Skimerinky doo

I (eye) LOVE YOU...

This is part of the series of photos Fabien took of us when he first got his new camera

A word from Lou Reed

Oh it's such a perfect day,
I'm glad I spent it with you.
Oh such a perfect day,
You just keep me hanging on...

Sophie loves to hug and kiss her little sister. And also play "this little piggy"

The day that Alex was born, Beijing sky was actually surprisingly clear and the air was so crisp and clean - it was beautiful.