ITALY – DAY 2: PALATINE HILL, ROMAN FORUM, AND VENICE

3/5/2019 – The Palatine Hill

On our first night, Dash woke up a few times at night demanding to be fed. Other than that, he was a good boy.

His jet lag while we were in Italy was not bad. (It was a whole different story post-Italy, back at home . . . .) His sleep and feeding patterns adjusted within a few days in Italy, probably because we were out and about all day every day during the day.

Our friends had a pack-and-play in our room for Dash to sleep in. We tried putting him in it for sleep. But he kept yelling whenever we put him in it. So, of course, Dash got his way and happily slept with us on our bed, between Care Bear and I, the entire week we were in Italy. Dash wins.

On our second day in Italy, we had train tickets to go to Venice for an overnight trip. Before we left for Venice, we squeezed in some sight-seeings, at the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Both were accessible with the same ticket we used to get into the Colosseum, which was good for two days.

First, we had breakfast from La Licata, a local cafe a few blocks from our friends’ place. Care Bear went there every morning to have breakfast with Adam, and every day he brought me back a pastry and a cappuccino. The pastries I had were decadent, like pistachio nutella croissant or chocolate twist.

3/5/2019 – Three generations of men and the Colosseum

Then we walked to Palatine Hill, or Palatino, which means palace in Italian. It is a five minute walk from the Colosseum.

3/5/2019 – Great backdrop for cool pics
3/5/2019 – Dash spending LOTS of time in one of his all-time favorite spots, abba’s arms
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The Palatine Hill is one of the oldest parts of Rome. It is considered where the Roman Empire started. It is believed to be where the cave of Romulus and Remus was before they were found by the wolf.

The Palatine Hill was very large and we had limited time, so we had to skip large parts of it. There were so much ruins and very little signs or posts explaining much of anything. I was shocked that there were marbles from floors that survived since around 500 B.C., but because there was so much of the marble that survived, some marbles were not roped off and you could step all over them. The same was true for a lot of the ruins. No signs, no explanation posters, and you could sit on them or walk on them.

3/5/2019 – Colosseum in the background
3/5/2019 – Dash napping in his fav nap spot, in umma’s arms
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The Palatine Hill was connected to the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is a large plaza surrounded by important civic buildings. It is where public activities took place. Julius Caesar walked on those same stones that we walked on.

3/5/2019 – Rome train station
3/5/2019 – The excitement of waiting for our train
3/5/2019 – Lucky Dash spending his whole day (and almost the whole trip in Italy) in someone’s arms

We took a cab back to the apartment to pick up our luggage, then went to the Rome train station. We had some spare time at the train station, so we picked up some sandwiches for lunch to eat on the train. We got on the train and enjoyed the view of rural Italy for four hours. The train was clean and modern. Dash slept on sabba’s shoulders for the entire four hours. Jet lag.

3/5/2019 – At the Venice main port
3/5/2019 – Waiting for our ferry boat
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3/5/2019 – Adrenaline makes breastfeeding standing up on a rocking boat possible

Once we arrived in Venice, we took a ferry shuttle to our hotel. It was a 25 minute ride and it was lovely. Dash demanded to be fed when we got on the ferry, so I fed him standing up, on a rocking ferry trying to balance, squeezed among many people. Gotta be efficient with precious time and feed him on the go whenever we have down time.

3/5/2019 – At our ferry stop
3/5/2019 – King Leo in his Venetian castle
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Our hotel was a short walk from the ferry station. It was a lovely hotel! We had the suite room, with two King size beds and a ginormous bathroom.

3/5/2019 – Venice was still very much winter, unlike Rome

We rested in our hotel room for a little bit. Then we left to go sightsee. We walked to the San Marco Square. There were many people in extravagant costumes for Mardi Gras Tuesday.

I was so excited we made it to this beautiful, famous square, a second time around for me, with my husband and my baby! It was an unbelievable, surreal feeling being there, with my new family, reminiscing back to the last time I was there when I was a teenager.

We went into a cafe around the square, but it was so expensive, so we left. It was worth having gone inside though, because we got to see people in extravagant costumes, waiters in tuxedo, and awesome Parisian-style decorations.

Then we walked around the square. We stopped by a bakery to have a puff pastry. We went into shops and bought some souvenirs.

3/5/2019 – Dash barely keeping his eyelids open before falling asleep
3/5/2019 – Dash cooperating by being a easy (napping) baby throughout dinner

Then we went to get what would become my favorite meal in Italy, dinner at Osteria da Carla. It was a small place–it could seat about 20 people. We had an olive oil tasting, where they gave us three different types of olive oil from different local places, one of which had a spicy taste. We also had a cheese plate, which came with a sweet onion jam, which I never had before. I liked it. It had a spicy kick. Then I had black squid ink pasta, which is one of my favorite dishes in my life, which was served with salty roe. Amazing.

After dinner, we slowly made our way back to the hotel, looking at different sights and stores. We rested a bit in our hotel room. Then we went to check out the nightlife in Venice.

3/5/2019 – Dash’s first EDM party was in Venice, Italy
3/5/2019 – Great back-packing party spot

We walked to a University area. And, what do you know, there was an EDM party in the open air going on in a plaza. There was a big crowd at the party and at the bars and restaurants in the streets surrounding the plaza. It was a fun sight to see. The DJ’s name was DJ Peter Pan.

It was such a fun night walking through the beautiful, narrow streets, laced with big and small canals, navigating the foggy labyrinth with loud, fun-seeking Venetian (or back-packing or tourist) party-goers. Day 1 in Venice a success.

ITALY – DAY 1: COLOSSEUM AND THE UNITED NATIONS

3/4/2019 – Our first destination in Rome –> Colosseo

Before the end of my 18 week maternity leave, we wanted to do a big trip. We had always planned to visit our good friends Adam and Stacey in Rome, Italy. (Check out their neat website about living in Italy: https://yupstersinrome.wordpress.com/) So we went to Italy for a week! We went with Dash and his grandparents.

We had a smooth experience flying with a baby. It was Dash’s first international trip. It was my second trip to Italy and Care Bear’s first. I was in Italy for about 10 days when I lived in Hungary when I was about 15 years old.

We stayed with Adam and Stacey in their gorgeous, awesome apartment in central Rome.

3/3/2019 – Flying over the snowy, beautiful Alps, between Switzerland and Italy

We flew British Airways, 10 hours from San Francisco to London, then 2.5 hours from London to Rome.

3/3/2019 – Dash flying in comfort

For international flights, airlines have baby bassinets. They pull out like a table from in front of the bulkhead seats. We had reserved beforehand the bulkhead seats and had requested the bassinet. Dash’s flight ticket was 10% of an adult ticket price.

Dash slept in the bassinet for six hours, without waking up, in the ten hour flight. It was a physical relief for both Care Bear and I to have Dash lie down in the bassinet, instead of us holding him in our laps.

I had been bidding my time since I was little when I saw those bassinets in international flights until I get to use them. And I finally did! It was awesome.

3/4/2019 – Battle of the baby carriers, Korean v. Nordic

On our first day, we went to the Colosseum. The line was about 1.5 hours.

Traveler tip: We were choosing between two ticket lines, one at the Colosseum and one at Palatino, another tourist sight. The same exact ticket from either lets you enter both. The Palatino line is much shorter, so get in line there instead of at the Colosseum.

Inside the Colosseum, there was so much to see, in museum-style display and exhibits. They used to do Hunger Games-style survival-of-the-fittest group death matches inside the stadium, with animals. Oh have we come a long way to more civility. Or have we not?! Widening inequality gap? Worsening pollution of Earth?

I digress.

3/4/2019 – On the rooftop of UN FAO, overlooking ancient Roman ruins
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3/4/2019 – Stacey the baby whisperer and baby caregiver sent from Heaven
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3/4/2019 – The India Room
3/4/2019 – Recreating the scene from Lion King at the UN building

In the afternoon, we walked to where Adam and Stacey both work, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN)! They live and work within walking distance to the Colosseum. So cool.

3/4/2019 – How many Stacey’s and Lori’s do you see?
3/4/2019 – Romantic cobblestone stroll (and Adam’s photobombing)

For dinner, we walked to a steakhouse in the Ghetto, where we had delicious Roman fare. It was a lovely stroll at night to and from the restaurant, through Rome’s ubiquitous and beautiful ancient ruins.

DASH AT FOUR MONTHS OLD

Read Dash’s:

Growth:

  • Height: 0.641 m (2′ 1.25″) (56th percentile)
  • Weight: 7.158 kg (15 lb 12.5 oz) (51th percentile)
  • Head circumference: 41.3 cm (16.26″) (34th percentile)

Started wearing Pampers Swaddlers size 3 diapers (16-28 lbs) shortly after the three month mark, even though he is in the very low range for that diaper size. I think he has a booty, like both his mom and dad.

Wearing size 12 months at 3.5 months old… Baby clothes sizes are a lie.

Started wearing 12 months clothes from Carter’s baby clothe brand, even though Dash is an average-sized baby (around 50th percentile). He still wears some 3-6 months clothes, depending on the brand.

Still sleeping with his hands up by his head.

Sleeps: Consistently sleeps 10-12 hours at night, without waking up.

Exception: For one week after our one-week trip to Italy, which is eight hours ahead, Dash had a difficult time adjusting. He woke up once or twice every night that week and demanded to be fed. That was tiring for both Care Bear and I. It was as if Dash had reverted back to his two-week old days. Thankfully, on his seventh day back home, he slept 7-8 hours without waking up, and on his eighth day, he slept 12 hours (-0-) without waking up.

After Italy, Dash started going down for the night around 8-9 pm (sometimes 7 pm) and waking up around 7-8 am. He “sleep trained” himself and found his sleep schedule on his own. : )

Breastfeeding in nature

Feeding: Still exclusively breastfed. To my relief, he started eating much faster, finally. For about the first three months, he used to eat for 40 minutes at a time, sometimes even an hour. Now, all he needs is 15-30 minutes. So I’m relieved from the sometimes awkward, sometimes uncomfortable, still-as-stone nursing position earlier. Sometimes, he only eats for like 10 minutes and he is done. Win.

Breastfeeding while in line at St. Mark’s Tower in Venice, Italy
Breastfeeding in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

I think breastfeeding became close to pain free and much more effortless after the three month mark. Now, my breast is sore only about once every other week. I feed him in any position convenient or required at the time: standing up (like waiting in line in Italy at tourist spots), walking, lying down on my bed, floor, or couch, in a reclined position, squatting over a rock or a low step, etc.

New developments:

  • He smiles at himself in the mirror. It is so cute.
Happy in the safe and comfortable arms of auntie Stacey
  • He sticks his tongue out for extended periods of time, and smiles while doing so. He does that to strangers sometimes and people love it.
Started using his hands . . . . Starting to become an intelligent being.
  • He can pick up his toy ball by himself. The first time it happened, I was so surprised.
Right after my hair cut. Didn’t have the heart to do a major “mom chop”. Still kept some length, but is short enough to be out of reach when he nurses.
  • He can grab and pull on my hair. So I got a hair cut.
  • He sticks his whole hand in his mouth and enjoys doing so.
  • He started drooling, so we started using bibs on him. Sometimes, his bib gets soaked within an hour of putting it on him.
Happy man
  • Still smiles a lot, and sometimes has laughing fits, which are very cute to hear. Still pouts.
  • The top of his head, which had close to no hair his first month, grew lots of hair.
  • We cut his toenails for the first time since his birth! Just once. His finger nails still need to be cut every 5-6 days.

Travels: Lake Tahoe and Italy for one week with the grandparents.

Elimination: Dash poops or pees in the toilet at least once a day, and up to three or four times a day on a good “EC” (elimination communication) day. Dash has been EC’ed, or infant potty trained, since he was 2.5 months old. Read how I EC’ed him here.

His first poop of the day is usually after 2-3 breasts (so, after 1-3 feeding sessions), anywhere from 10 am to 2 pm, depending on how busy we were that morning. His last poop of the day is usually in the early evening.

Visiting mommy’s work: I’m on a 4.5 month maternity leave, but I stopped by the office four or five times to get a few things done, like dropping off a doctor’s note for the leave, doing fingerprinting for the California bar, attending women’s forum events, and attending an intellectual property practice group breakfast meeting. I took Dash with me, and several colleagues rushed over to see him and gushed over him, while I was humorously relegated to the sideline.

For the practice group meeting, I was intending to stop by and say hi to people who flew in from out of state and leave the office, but Dash was being so good and quiet that I ended up attending the whole 45-minute meeting. Dash slept through most of the meeting and made very little noise.

Fancy, customized reservation sign, courtesy of Care Bear’s employer
Great minds conceive a like?!
Happy Dash on aba’s cloud

Visiting daddy’s work: Went to daddy’s work to have lunch with his colleagues and their babies who were born within two months of each other. They called it Baby-pocalypse. LOL It was funny and endearing to see four strollers with tiny babies in them lined up in the cafeteria!

PRESIDENT’S DAY WEEKEND TAHOE TRIP / DASH’S 100TH DAY BIRTHDAY

We stayed at a three-bedroom Airbnb in Carnelian Bay for two nights. Care Bear skied with his friends, at Homewood, while I (happily) stayed back at the Airbnb with Dash.

It snowed a lot. The drive to Tahoe took eight hours, when it normally takes four hours. We left at 8:30 pm on Friday night and arrived at 4:30 am on Saturday morning.

We put on snow chains when we got close to Tahoe. That’s what a lot of the cars were doing on the shoulder of the highway (near exit 146 on the 80). We paid a vendor on the shoulder $80 for cable chains and $30 for installing. Installing took about five minutes.

What sucked was, after the first snow chain check point, which we passed with our cable chains on, there was another snow chain check point later on the highway, but this time, the check point required link chains, which are apparently sturdier. So we were turned back (along with a few other cars that we saw), and had to take a detour, to get to the Airbnb.

2/16/2019 – 100th Day Birthday Boy!

On the day we were leaving, we went to walk around Squaw Valley.

On our way back, we went to a great vegan restaurant in Sacramento for dinner, where we had drum sticks, spicy noodles, and sizzling plate.

It snowed even harder on our way back. Our drive back was about seven hours. We (and a slew of other people) took our snow chains off too early. We almost hit a car when we slid on the highway for a few minutes. So we had to put our chains back on (then take them off again). This time, we did not use a vendor for installing or removing the chains. I did it myself. It took me about 40 minutes to get them on, and about 5 minutes to get them off.

I thought our trip was adventurous and fun! Plus we got to celebrate Dash’s 100th Day Birthday in Tahoe, in winter wonderland. We kept him alive for 100 days!!! We are blessed.

VALENTINE’S DAY 2019

Care Bear surprised me again with a secret dinner location for Valentine’s Day. It’s our tradition to not disclose the venue until we get there. Every time, I LOVE dying to know where he’s taking me, days leading up to it, and interrogating him in subtle ways to find out!

This year’s V-Day was sweeter and more heart-filling because a little guy, a third wheel, joined us at the table. He slept the whole meal.

2/14/2019 – Lovely annual tradition of date night on Valentine’s Day.
Freshly made, personalized cookies made by Care Bear! His employer brought in a baker to teach a baking class in the middle of the day at work for Valentine’s Day. How amazing is that?!

DASH AT THREE MONTHS OLD

Read Dash’s:

1/10/2019 – Dash growing up so fast. . .

Growth: Started wearing size 2 diapers and 3-6 months clothes. We don’t have a scale so we don’t know his exact weight, but I think he weighs about 13-14 lbs.

Sleeps: 8-9 hours at night in one stretch, without waking up. He usually goes to bed anywhere from 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm and wakes up anywhere from 7 am to 8:30 am. After he wakes up, he eats, then usually goes back to sleep for another hour or so, then repeats that once or twice more. So, he usually naps until 10-11:30 am.

Two people who can sleep anywhere, any time

He no longer needs to be swaddled, have the (loud) air filter on for white noise, or be fully fed (i.e., both breasts) to sleep. He is a naturally good sleeper. He got my sleep genes. He sleeps more and better than aba.

Feeding: Still exclusively breastfed.

We were feeding him a bottle of expressed breast milk almost every day since he was six days old, per the doctor’s recommendation. But we stopped doing that around two and a half months old because it was always a war trying to feed him the bottle.

He much prefers the breast nipple over the bottle nipple. He cries during bottle feeding and once held off on eating anything for as long as for five hours (during the day) when we tried to feed him the bottle . . . . He normally wants to eat every 2-3 hours. That’s how much he hates the bottle. And I hate wasting breast milk and force feeding him the bottle.

So I stopped with the bottles. I know I may be shooting myself in the foot when I go back to work. But, since we stopped bottle feeding, our lives have become much more peaceful and less tear-filled.

Milestones:

Happy factory
Baby laugh

He laughs now, not just smiles.

1/19/2019 – Rebelling against tummy time

He rolled over from his belly to his back for the first time at ten weeks old. When he did it, he proceeded to do it several times back to back, so our tummy time was cut short. He can’t roll over all the time, but he is doing it more frequently.

Change in temperament: At the three month mark, he, for some reason, became a bit needy. He started fussing to be held, which he rarely did before (excluding his first two to three weeks of life), and started fussing when he is sleepy during the day for a nap. It’s as if he became a two week old newborn again.

Travels: Miami vacation for six days

Sickness: He became sick for the first time in his life, so we had to take him to the doctor. I think he caught something on the flight to Miami, because he started having runny nose the next day. He had stuffed up nose for nine days.

Funny: When I place him in front of toy owl, elephant, fox, giraffe, or lion on his play gym or his bouncer, at first he smiles at the animal, but after about five min, he starts arguing with the toy animal. He starts yelling at it. I think it’s because the toy animals have eyes but they don’t smile back at him, unlike mirrors or humans. So we have to rescue Dash from his “bad” friends and pick him up. It is kind of funny.