ITALY – DAY 4: SPERLONGA

3/7/2019 – Sperlonga

On our fourth day in Italy, we wanted a slow, relaxing day. We wanted to take a day trip outside of Rome. Our friends Adam and Stacey recommended that we check out Sperlonga.

I actually had in mind that we would go to the famous town of Positano while we are in Italy. Positano is where colorful houses sit atop a coastal hill and is a hot (insta) “gram” spot. But it was a 3+ hour drive from Rome, at best, so it was not meant to be. Sperlonga it is! We drove.

Sperlonga is a relatively unknown beach town, an hour drive south of Rome. It looks like Positano, except that the hilltop houses are white instead of colorful and it is a smaller town. It is apparently one of the best kept secrets of Italy.

3/7/2019 – Dorado on the top left, the big silver fish, was our choice du jour

We had heard that food outside of Rome could be even more amazing than inside Rome. And that was right! We went to a Michelin star restaurant called Gli Archi and we had such good food. And not that expensive. We had two types of pasta, a plate of grilled vegetables, a whole fish with white wine sauce, and wine. The waiter rolled out a cart with a plate of real, whole fresh fish before he took our order. I think we chose dorado, which served 2-3 portions. The waiter was wearing a tux and had great service, making jokes with us. Amazing food at a coastal Italian town, CHECK.

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After leisurely lunch, we took a leisurely stroll around town and had some gelato. We had strawberry, pistachio, and coffee flavors. Breezy, slow-paced, charming Italian coastal town with whitewashed houses atop a hill overlooking blue sea, white curvy stair cases, white walkways, CHECK CHECK CHECK.

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We drove about 10 minutes to go see a famous cave, or grotto, at Villa of Tiberius. It is an ancient ruin of a fishing settlement. It was part of a museum. The museum was hard to find. There was no sign to speak of. We went into three different streets or parking areas before we decided we found it. We had to ask the person at the museum to learn that it was in fact the museum, because there was no clear English sign. It was a nice walk around the cave and the grounds.

3/7/2019 – Look at those happy two ❤

We drove back to Rome before dinner time and had dinner with Adam and Stacey at Le Tavernelle, near their apartment. It was a home-style trattoria. We had cacio e pepe, which was a dish Care Bear and I were obsessed over in Italy and had ordered several times in Italy at different restaurants. It literally means “cheese and pepper” and it’s a simple white spaghetti dish with just black pepper and peccorino cheese. I don’t like cheese and I don’t like black pepper, but I like this dish. We even had it after we came back from Italy to the bay area, at an Italian restaurant in SF.

We also had a dish of cooked greens I never had before, salmon ravioli, pesto pasta, grilled shrimp, baked artichokes, and others. I ate my heart out. I ate like there was no tomorrow. I was so happy to be in Italy. I took pieces of bread and soaked up the sauce from the bottom of the dishes. I did not want to leave any bit of Italian goodness behind.

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3/7/2019 – Piazza Colonna

After dinner, we went to the Trevi fountain, just the most famous tourist spot in Rome. I was so happy to be back here, 20 years after I was here the first time. My life had changed since that time. I became an adult, I got married, I had a baby, and I was a full-blown lawyer. I am thankful for my parents who showed me the world and took me around famous places in Europe while I was still only a teenager. And I am thankful that I was able to be back here as a happier person. I found happiness in those 20 years, hooray!

Trevi fountain was built around the same time the American White House was built, in the late 1700s. It gets its water from, or at least it used to, an aqueduct nearby. And, as far as I can tell, it is famous because it was in the movies a lot. It was nice to visit it during night because there was less people and the lights were pretty.

A note about Dash’s stroller: Dash’s car seat stroller and car seat had not made it to Rome when we arrived in Rome from California. I think they got lost in the Heathrow airport, where we had a layover, because the Heathrow airport has a weird rule that does not allow gate-checking. (Our stroller and car seat were gate-checked in California.) Thankfully, out of luck, British Airways somehow found them, when they had initially said they were lost, and the stroller and the car seat arrived to our friends’ place on our third day.

But it turns out we did not, or could not, really use the stroller much in Rome or Venice because of the hills and the cobblestones. We got good use out of the hipseat baby carrier every day instead.

The only times we used the stroller was to walk to the Trevi fountain from our friends’ place, which was a 10 minute walk, to go to lunch in Sperlonga, and on our fifth day, when we spent the whole day in Vatican City. Thank you Care Bear for carrying Dash around in the baby carrier for so long almost every day. ❤

ITALY – DAY 3: VENICE

3/6/2019 – On top of the iconic Rialto Bridge, built in 1588, over Grand Canal.

Our second and last day in Venice was one of my favorite days during our Italy trip because we did a lot of sight seeing, it was a gloriously sunny day, we bought great souvenirs, we had good local food, and Venice is simply beautiful with its canals, colorful and quaint buildings, and narrow, bustling streets filled with life. I got to have so many pictures taken of me and our family in the fantastical backdrop. What more can a girl ask for?!

We were there on off-season, so we thankfully did not experience the mad crowd that Venice is internationally famous for. There are no cars in Venice, so that makes walking around so much fun, like in Disney World (sorry Venice for the awfully frightening analogy, but accept it).

Another reason it was my favorite day is that I got to buy Dash some clothes for the first time ever, the moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. More than you want to know about that below . . . .

We had amazing breakfast at our hotel Friendly Venice Suites. It was a big European-style spread with croissants and other pastries, cured meat, cheese, olives, tomatoes, nuts, dried fruits, cereal, waffles, juices, and hot food items. I had scrambled eggs, sausages, a waffle, cereal, and tasted almost everything in the spread, including blood orange juice and orange juice. I loaded up. = D I also had two cups of cappuccino, to continue my one-cappuccino-a-day in the mornings in Italy.

Then we made our way slowly towards St. Mark’s Plaza, which was about a 10 minute direct walk from our hotel. We went passed a designer shopping street and many, many canals.

3/6/2019 – Taking an infinite amount of family photos, which makes me so happy. Thank you mom and dad for being great and patient photographers!
3/6/2019 – Another cute bridge and canal, another picture.
3/6/2019 – Thankfully, I had no urge to be on a gondola.
3/6/2019 – Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in the back

A Long Anecdote About Poo and French Baby Clothes (*Warning: TMI*)

Dash had his first “poop explosion”, “diaper blowout”, “poopy accident”–whatever you want to call it–in no other place than Venice. I did not know what that phrase meant and was wondering whether if we were going to experience it. And we did. Multiple times in a row, for the last four days in Italy.

I instantly knew what that phrase meant when I (finally) experienced it. It means there is so much poo in the diaper that the content erupts out of the confines of the diaper onto the back, belly, and thighs and through multiple layers of clothing.

Dash’s jet lag in Italy threw off his biological rhythm. He had not pooped for over 30 hours. That got us increasingly worried. And rightfully so, because when he finally went, it was as if he pooped three or four times worth all at once in one go, and his diaper could not contain it all, or anywhere close to all.

The poo party happened on a bench by Grand Canal, near St Mark’s ferry terminal. Care Bear frantically wiped him down with whatever cloth was available to us, carefully removed his soiled layers of clothes, and wrapped him in a blanket. We had run out of his spare clothes. I ran out of spare plastic bags to put soiled things in, so . . . I did what I could–use my purse as a bin. : ( After having Dash, my precious purse often turns into a receptacle for wet bibs/clothes/burp clothes and dirty diapers.

We found ourselves suddenly on an urgent mission to find baby clothing for Dash. In the middle of touristy Venice. Google Map was not showing any still-open baby clothing store. So I parted from our group and ran down the aisles of Venice on a mad dash to find clothes for our baby. I found a short sleeve onesie from Hard Rock Cafe, but I wanted something better.

3/6/2019 – My well-dressed two men

As luck would have it, after about 20 minutes on the sweaty mission, I found a high-end Parisian children clothing store called Jacadi Paris. And there I found the cutest (and warm) pair of navy “slacks”, a navy cardigan-blazer, and a pair of navy, white “business stripes” socks.

The price tag hurt me inside a little, but I was happy to dress Dash like a miniature adult, which is how I always envisioned dressing my kids in. Dash looked like a Goldman Sachs associate, or like that baby from Baby Boss, the movie with Alec Baldwin. He looked so cute. I was ecstatic that my first clothing gift to Dash was in Italy, from a French luxury brand, in a style that I wanted. I was glad to have saved up this “first” until now. I will cherish these clothes and the memories from them forever.

— END OF ESSAY ABOUT POO —

After the diaper incident, we were back on our sight-seeing schedule and we made our way to St. Mark’s Plaza.

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3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Plaza
3/6/2019 – Breastfeeding while in line at St. Mark’s Tower
3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Tower
3/6/2019 – View of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, from the top of St. Mark’s Tower

We got in line at the St. Mark’s Tower, which was about 20 minutes long. I fed Leo, first sitting down, then standing and moving with the line until when it was our turn to get on the elevator. We enjoyed great views at the top.

Next we went to see the inside of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Cathedral

It was built in the 800s. It was built to house the corpse of St. Mark, which the Venetians had smuggled out of Egypt, hiding it in a pork fat barrel to evade Muslim inspection.

I had seen that corpse inside the Cathedral when I was a teenager. It was exciting and fulfilling for me to be back in Italy, re-tracing my steps, learning things I had not known before or forgotten, and viewing things with a more mature, knowledgeable perspective.

This time around, our group had gotten in line to see the corpse, and it was only a few minute line, but I was not interested in seeing it again and so the whole group decided not to see it.

On to our next destination, Rialto Bridge.

3/6/2019 – By Grand Canal
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3/6/2019 – Cichetti and Aperol

For pre-lunch snack, we went to get some cichetti, which are small snacks. We went to a small, local bar called Bar All’Arco. We had toast topped with various kinds of seasoned fish and vegetables. The wine was about $2 a glass. We also had Spritz Veneziano, which is a cocktail made with soda water, prosecco, and Aperol, a mandarin orange flavored Italian spritz.

We went to see the bridge. For late lunch, we ate on the street some delicious thin-crusted pizza. Then we went back to our hotel to gather our luggage, got on the ferry for a 25-min ride back to the train station.

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There was a Guggenheim art museum I wanted to see but we did not have time. I think I want to do a art-only Europe trip at one point in my life, where I can hop from museum to museum, eat at where artists ate or worked at, and indulge and satisfy my desire to do all things art and painting.

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3/6/2019 – Step it up or face FOMO

We had about 20 minutes to spare before our train time, so we went exploring the streets near the train station and got some last minute shopping done. Look at the amount of stuff I was carrying around in the above picture! The baby, the baby’s baby carrier, my purse which was also the baby’s diaper bag, a backpack, and a blanket. Motherhood adrenaline is POWERFUL.

Our train ride back was peaceful. It was four hours. Dash slept for most of the ride. We were on the last car, car number 9, and the only bathroom with a changing table was in car number 1. So Care Bear, Dash, and I traveled through the whole length of the train there and back in a bumpy ride. So fun having a kid, and I mean it. =D

Once we got back to the Rome train station, we took a cab back to Adam and Stacey’s and ordered take-out ravioli, vegetarian meatballs, and tiramisu. They were amazing. Thank goodness for breastfeeding, which keeps the weight off and allows me to pig out without consequence.

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.

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.

DAY TRIP TO LITTLE YOSEMITE

1/27/2018 – A reservoir in the background

California is so full of beautiful hikes that just driving 40 min from our place lands us in a place that looks like a miniature Yosemite.

Dash was 11 weeks old.

Little Yosemite in the left in the background, at Sunol Regional Wilderness Parkk
Hiking with Care Bear’s grad school friends, who also happen to be his colleagues
Breastfeeding in nature

PRIMER ON ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION (I.E., INFANT POTTYING)

2/20/2018 (14 weeks) – Potty time on top of the changing station

The Lowdown

We started elimination communication (EC) with Dash when he was 2.5 months (11 weeks) old. He pees or poops in a regular adult toilet (with a toilet seat reducer) 2-4 times a day almost every day. After he poops in the toilet, I just blot his butt with two squares of toilet paper, flush the toilet, diaper him, and I’m done! He is diapered 24/7.

What is EC?

EC refers to potty training an infant, including from birth. It involves making a pssst sound and holding the baby in a potty/toilet position whenever the baby pees or poops, thereby helping the baby associate that sound and that posture with bodily elimination. That way, when you hold the baby over the potty/toilet and make that sound, the baby will eliminate.

How Do I EC?

I seat Dash on a miniature infant potty or a toilet seat reducer and make the pssst sound a few times. I also make the sound when he actually starts peeing or pooping into the potty/toilet. After about 4-5 minutes on the potty/toilet, regardless of whether he went or not, I give him the ASL sign for “all done” and take him off the potty/toilet and diaper him.

What Got Me Into EC?

I first learned about EC when I read online that Gisele Bündchen potty trained her kids to be diaper-free by the time they were each six months old. At that time, I was skeptical and had assumed that EC would take much money and time to practice.

But I was wrong. I was able to EC with success, at least part time, using half-hearted effort and no nannies or money being poured into EC.

Thank you Gisele. I like that you worry about landfills. I do too.

How Did I Start EC’ing?

I read an EC book, then I ordered online a miniature infant potty (TinyUndies infant potty), which is somewhat difficult to find in this country. Then I just started seating him on the potty at the times that are known to be “easy catch” EC times, such as during diaper changes, during or after feeding, and before and after placing him in a car seat or a baby carrier.

I caught three pees and poops on his first day of EC’ing. On his fourth day of EC’ing, I caught 12! That was the most I’ve caught so far. EC was a smooth sailing success right from the beginning.

After a few days of doing EC and realizing that EC is completely doable, I ordered online a toilet seat reducer (Prince Lionheart weePOD), and that is what Care Bear and I primarily use for EC’ing. Much easier than cleaning up the potty.

I skipped the “observation” stage of EC, where you keep the baby diaper-free and half-naked for a few hours to learn what bodily and facial expressions the baby makes when the baby pees or poops. I didn’t want to deal with the clean up. It turns out the observation stage was not needed for Dash. He started peeing/pooping multiple times on the potty on his first day of EC’ing anyways.

How Do I Clean the Potty?

We dump the contents into the toilet, spray water into the potty over the toilet to get the remaining content out, spray the inside of the potty with a disinfectant, slush the disinfectant around with some water and discard, run the potty under hot water for a few seconds, and shake the water off the potty.

Suffice to say that we rarely use the infant potty any more, because flushing the toilet is less work than washing out the potty.

How Do I Know When to Take Him to the Potty?

The known “easy catch” times include: 1) During feeding or about 10 min after feeding. 2) During diaper changes. You take the diaper off, wipe him with a wet wipe if needed, then seat him on the toilet. 3) Before and after bath time. 4) Before and after Dash is in the car seat or the baby carrier, because babies don’t like to eliminate in that bucket seat or carrier position. 5) After waking in the morning and before bed time.

I usually don’t bother looking for whether Dash signals for potty. I focus on making “easy catches”, whenever I have time and energy, regardless of whether he signals. Signal reading is difficult because you are often not looking at him, for example, when you cook or do laundry. EC’ing using the “easy catch” times is simpler and more stress-free.

An exception is, during feeding, he sometimes signals for toilet. He pops off the nipple and looks at me with an “I need you” alarmed look. An easy and tell tale sign that he needs to poop, and I’m right much of the time (i.e., he poops when I potty him). Another potty signal I learned that Dash makes is going from quiet and not moving to loud and flailing around, or vice versa.

Poop Schedule

After starting EC for a few days, I’ve come to learn his poop pattern. His first or second poop in the morning is usually the largest (“poop storm”). It happens anywhere from 10 am to noon, though he once did not make his first big poop until 2:30 pm. The first big poop happens usually after eating two or three feedings.

By three months old, he was pooping only 3-5 times a day. The last one can be anywhere from 4:40 pm to 10 pm. But usually, his last poop is in the early evening.

I think doing EC helped me figure out his poop pattern pretty quickly. If I catch that first big poop in the morning, then I’m off to a good EC day start and feel happy and accomplished.

How Do I Know When Dash Is Done at the Potty?

When he is about to pee or poop on the potty/toilet, he is usually looking down and concentrating on eliminating. He has a concerned face and avoids my eye contact. When he is done with his pee or poop, he usually becomes talkative or starts making noises, looks around the bathroom, makes eye contact with me, becomes interested in the toilet paper, or smiles at me. A lot of times, we can’t tell if he is done. We usually wait about 4-5 minutes then take him off the potty/toilet.

What About Cloth Diapers or Compostable Diapers?

When Dash was born, we had signed up for a compostable diaper service, where they drop off diapers and pick up dirty diapers weekly. The service takes the dirty diapers to a special facility for composting, and not to landfills. But to my and Care Bear’s great disappointment, the compostable diapers leaked EVERY TIME, even in two different sizes.

As far as cloth diapers, I gave it a try, sort of, once. And got scared (of the clean up) and quit.

EC’ing Part-Time

I made it a goal to make at least one catch every day. But, even when I don’t try hard, I automatically and easily end up catching one or two if I follow at least some of the “easy catch” times, e.g., during a diaper change or before bath time.

Times when we do not EC are when we have visitors, when we are out and about or traveling (although I caught a pee at an Airbnb in Tahoe yay), and when I am sick or Dash is sick.

What Happens When Dash Goes to Day Care?

We will probably EC him only in the morning and at night at home. That is less than ideal, but EC’ing part time will still help Dash keep in touch with his elimination sensation and help him know that his momma and pappa are there for him at home to tend to his elimination needs.

Once Dash starts crawling and walking, we will probably encourage him to use the infant potty again by himself and, when he is bigger, use toilet steps to use the toilet seat reducer by himself.

Cons of EC

More physical exertion for the parents than exclusively diapering. EC involves lifting the baby up and down to seat him on the toilet and waiting for him to eliminate. EC is #notforlazyparents.

When Care Bear and I are so engrossed on our laptops and are feeling lazy, even when we hear Dash fussing to be pottied, I just tell Dash “go in your diaper” and let him be. My goal is to just catch one catch a day anyways.

Pros of EC

Dash’s smile after pottying

1 – EC is yet another way to meet Dash’s needs.

Pottying Dash is one of the several ways to stop Dash from fussing when he fusses. In other words, sometimes Dash fusses because he wants to pee or poop and need our help in order to do so. Care Bear or I swoop in to meet his elimination needs and take him to the toilet. Dash is happy because he relieved himself, and without smearing dirty poop all over his butt, and parents are happy because we can see that the baby is satisfied with our effort.

We know Dash does not like the feeling of sitting on his poop, because he usually gets cranky 5-10 min after pooping in his diaper. If EC is going well that day and we catch the poops before they happen in his diaper, then the fuss and crankiness are altogether avoided.

2 – EC helps Dash be aware of, and control, his elimination sensation.

I believe Dash knows what is happening because sometimes he holds his pee or poop until we potty him. He has pretty much never peed or pooped during a diaper change since we started EC’ing him. And sometimes, he wakes up in the morning with a completely dry–no poop OR pee!–diaper. When we potty him first thing in the morning after he opens his eyes, he lets out a big, yellow pee into the potty. Again, Dash feels satisfied, and parents feel accomplished.

3 – Dash gets playful during potty time.

Dash smiles and coos a lot when I seat him on the toilet. It is part of our bonding time.

4 – EC just makes sense to us and maintains Dash’s dignity.

Once we started EC’ing, we could not go back. Care Bear was skeptical and did not EC with me the first few days of EC’ing. But he eventually started taking Dash to the potty voluntarily. Blotting Dash’s butt with just a bit of toiler paper is much easier than cleaning the nasty poop out of his reproductive and excretory organs and all the crevices on his thighs. How could we let Dash carry around his toilet in his diaper, when we could help him eliminate in the real toilet?

So, in a way, when we started EC’ing, we sometimes used more diapers than if we had not EC’ed, because we felt so bad about making him sit on his poop. We could not help but change his diaper as soon as he pooped. That still happens these days, when we “miss” (EC term for accidents) those big poops. But, for the most part, I think we use at least one or two less diapers a day on average, as a result of EC’ing part-time effectively.

Changing a blowout poopy diaper sometimes makes me make disgusted facial expressions and sounds even when Dash is looking at me. I don’t want him to think that I think he is disgusting. When I potty him, for the most part, Dash is a happy fella and we are all smiles, especially after a big poop into the toilet. More positive interaction and less negative interaction.