Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011; And, ambivalence.

Jeongmin smiled at me for the first time (real smile, not just gas or contentment) on X-mas eve.  I captured it on camera Christmas morning.
This year for Christmas, we had an especially lovely family celebration. My dad's brother, Rob, and his wife and son joined us for the festivities. Plus, of course, I suppose Jeongmin's first Christmas is a big deal (even if he won't remember it, being only three weeks old).  I'm not a sentimental "Oh my god--it's baby's First Christmas!!!" type, but Min Gi is and so is my mother, so I'm glad it was pretty special.  And maybe my son will turn out to be the holiday lover in the family, so it's good I got some pictures of him with the whole tree/present thing.

 Baby J's big gift from Santa--a new jungle playmat.  He loves the mirror and he's starting to be more aware of his environment, so it's the perfect time for him to start playing like this.  Yes, that is a "My First Christmas" baby outfit... a present from a friend who couldn't use it for her baby last year.

At the risk of alienating people and becoming a grossly unpopular Scrooge-like figure, I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.  Partly, it's that I'm not Christian, so a lot of the religious spirit of the holiday is not a part of my scripting, but we all know that Christmas is as much a cultural holiday in the U.S. as it is a religious one, and it's that part of the celebration that I find myself feeling such ambivalence about.

Giant Monkey attack--nearly eats the baby.

I love the family togetherness, the good feelings, the yummy cookies and other meals, the stories and folklore, the warm wishes from everyone, and even the decorations (especially the ones that come out year after year and have special meaning--Grandma's old ornaments, the ones my siblings and I made in daycare centers when we were little, the woven ones my parents brought back from their years in Ecuador). I missed all that while I was in Korea from 2007-2010 and being "home" for Christmas these last two years has been amazing.

There is only one present in this picture I need or want.

What I don't love is how something so nice can turn so blatantly commercial and become a pressure cooker for gift giving and receiving in which your obligations as both the giver and recipient are immense. I actually heard people I love saying things like "I spent $80 on them--she better wear them!" and wondering aloud if they had spent "enough" money even though the gift they had already picked out was lovely, thoughtful, and appropriate.

I don't get it.  I love giving presents (and who doesn't love getting some thoughtful gifts?), but I often do so throughout the year, as things occur to me.  I don't get the whole holiday=stuff thing and kind of never have.  My first Christmas where I could talk, my parents got me a really nice Fisher Price house and a bunch of other stuff.  I opened the one toy and played with it for like an hour or so.  Mom then asked me to open my other gifts, and I said "No, this is enough for today."  (Of course my parents, who had worked hard in shopping for and arranging gifts for me made me open the rest of them, but this has become family legend.)  My first Christmas where I purchased my own gifts with my own money (in high school), I made donations in each of my family's names to a charity that suited their own personal interests (like the WWF for my sister and a comic book free speech group for my brother).  I usually try to make presents if I can.

But this year, I didn't have time (or in all honesty, the free cash) to shop this year and the cookies I had planned to bake didn't happen because Jeongmin got sick with a minor cold in the days leading up to the holiday, so I did not get presents for people this year. I feel bad about it.  I feel overwhelmed by my too-generous relatives.  I wonder if somehow my dislike of commercialism and failure to wrap something up and put it under the tree disappointed them (even though I got everyone presents when I went on vacation this summer and other events of that nature).

I may be the only person in the whole of America who didn't find the stories of people anonymously paying off Walmart and K-mart layaways heartwarming. Maybe it's because I work all year for an organization that has to tell people (often good, hardworking people) that the rent money relief they so desperately need in order to not become homeless is currently out of funds, but I don't find "donations" so that kids whose parents can't really afford it can have a bunch of cheap, plastic junk to be very charitable. I'd rather make sure we have the cash so they don't become homeless. Or so we can fund a program to help them find a job when they're out of work or quality, affordable daycare so they can keep their jobs.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  My mother is the opposite of me and always expresses her love through giving and loves nothing better than holidays.  She decorates up a storm and is wonderful at picking out Christmas gifts that make everyone feel special and loved.  It overwhelms me, but I truly appreciate her generosity.  I just think spending time with people is more important than getting them stuff.  Even when it's stuff they want.  And that what you do throughout the year is a bigger deal than one specific day.
Will I feel differently about making him happy through purchases and toy gifts when he is older?  I don't know.  For now, I just love him and want to spend time with him (and the rest of my family).  That's all I really care about.

Christmas 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mommy Brain, cloth diapers... and, of course, pictures!

Jeongmin's "windmill" arms--working it!

My brain is slowly adjusting to mommy life and the inevitable "Mommy Brain" that results from the sleeping in spurts, the never fully stopping with the baby care (even when I'm sleeping or when putting him down for a moment), the obsessing and mooning over my new little man like some love-struck preteen.  I'm starting to feel more relaxed and comfortable with caring for Jeongmin.  It helps that babies get a little easier each week.  He's sleeping longer and having more regular patterns.  He's also started getting more fun and alert at playtime.

Sporting the cloth diapers, and waving hello to his fans.

This week, I finally completed my cloth diapering stash to my satisfaction.  Gwen, my old boss from Oedae and good friend, shipped me her nearly-two-year-old son's old BumGenius one size pocket diapers and inserts, so now I have a total of 11 of that style (Gwen's are version 3.0 and I have 3 version 4.0--honestly, I don't really see much of a difference at this point).  I also have 11 Softbum Omni shells (obtained from and many inserts that work with them (bumgenius OS terrycloth inserts have a snap that work well with the Omni shells, some infant pre-folds, and softbums staydry super pods), including some Kissaluvs size 0 fitted diapers.  Newborns need a lot more diapers than older ones, so hopefully when he outgrows the Kissaluvs, I won't need to replace them with more inserts.  I have 3 all-in-one BumGenius size small, too, but they don't seem to be absorbing much at this time (my only real leaks so far have come from these), so I'm trying to wash them a few more times before I give up.

Look at the worry lines as he strains to push up!

Cloth is a lot easier than people make it out to be, especially with all the new all-in-two designs and pocket styles.  If you buy used or clearance/discounted, they aren't even that much more expensive than a prefold/cover deal (the old-fashioned nappy pinning and plastic pants, but even that has been updated with plastic snaps and much trimmer covers).  I have enough where even with my frequently soaking 3 week old, I only have to do the diaper laundry every 3 or so days.  And they are easy enough to use that my parents have said they will try to use the cloth when they babysit, so score!

And now, more cute:

No, Daddy!  Don't eat my hand! 

Blue eyed Korean.

 For more overdose on cuteness, look at the full album:

Baby: Week Three

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baby J: Week Two

On Friday, Baby J had his two week check up.  He'd gained nearly a pound since birth and grown 1.5 inches in that time.  Considering how tiny he is, that's quite a feat.  He was declared healthy by the pediatrician, which is of course the important thing.

Min Gi relaxing with the baby.

The baby with his care package from Min Gi's sister-in-law, In Shil, from Korea (you may remember her as the photographer from this excursion)

And here we are, wearing the scarves she knit Min Gi and I as well as Jeongmin's new, handmade green vest.  Notice he's trying to hold up his fingers for the camera like a good Korean lad.

Auntie Sarah time.

Sporting a Christmas outfit from Sarah's good friend, Camille.  Straight Christmas thuggin' in his hoodie.  Oh yeah.  Baby life.

This is what I'm greeted with every morning.  I really am the luckiest person in the world.

Can't get enough?  There are more pictures in the album:

Baby: Week Two

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baby J's first stroller adventure.

This morning, the umbilical stump fell off, so now he looks like a "normal" baby that you see in magazines and stuff.  Also, we went on baby's first adventure to tour the Christmas lights in the neighborhood.

He's stylin' in his little bumblebee hat knit by my good friend, Elinor.

Daddy's ready to go.  Baby may have his doubts...

I think I'm going to crash into something because he's just too cute not to stare at.

Daddy and the baby.

With the Christmas lights in the neighborhood.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baby J: Week One

Baby J's been growing now for seven days--a whole week!  He's beginning to be a lot more alert and active.  I'm recovering, too.  Here are some photo updates of our adventures so far:
I don't know if you can quite tell he has blue eyes here, but he does have a very expressive face.

Bonding with Min Gi (taken at night with no lights with his iPod Touch, so sorry for the quality).

Mommy is proud of the little man!

He really loves a good, tight swaddle for sleeping.

Getting ready for breakfast!

I discover the joys of the Moby wrap.  Baby on, no hands!

Sleeping burrito.

He is learning to self-soothe.  Besides... you can never have enough sleeping baby photos.

We're all trying to figure out a routine that works for us.  Since he seems to want to eat every two hours or so, mostly this routine involves me tethered to the kid for all but a few hours here and there of grandpa or grandma or auntie time (all life-savers for a new mom).  I'm learning how to rest/bathe/eat/etc. while he rests, but it's kind of a juggling act since the baby is the little booby dictator.  (As in, when he wants the booby, he loudly demands it and so he receives).

I've managed to disappear 19 lbs in the last seven days.  But that's not really an accomplishment when you consider that I had packed on 50ish in the last nine months... whoops.  Having a waist again is pretty cool.  Not as cool as having a baby, but I do like it.

I've started him on cloth diapers.  It's nowhere near as hard as everyone acts like it is.  However, they are massive on a tiny newborn (more bulky layers to absorb baby excretions), so that's kind of funny.  More updates when I can.  The little Booby Dictator has just woken up.

Monday, December 5, 2011

J.P. Sung

Right now, my four day old son, J, is napping.  Thanks to my mother (super-grandma), I am caught up on enough rest to actually post some info here about what has been the most incredible event of my life.  Unfortunately, my brain is too addled to reflect properly on the events that have occurred and recount them faithfully and entertainingly for you here at this time.  I will try to do so soon.  For now, basic stats:
Born 12/2/2011 at 4:47am. I had a very short first labor, dilating from 4cm to ready to push in just 1.5 hours. The nurse and doctor actually made me wait another 45 min because they hadn't set anything up. Even with the epidural, it was a lot of pain to hold back. 20 min of pushing, and then he was out!

He weighed 7lbs, 10oz (3.465 kg), had an immediate Apgar score of 9. He has curly dark blond hair (surprising!) and deep blue eyes that are rapidly turning brown. First hints of a smile here.

One proud daddy!  Min Gi has been amazing.  He was totally supportive during labor and has turned into an expert diaperer overnight.  Plus, he remains super-organized with all our stuff and caring for the kitties and basic needs while I recover.  I love him all over again.
Ready to eat!  This is my favorite picture, since it's what I see every 2-3 hours when I'm feeding the little dude.  He's so much fun!
Baby's first mohawk. Post-bath.
Yes, I just delivered a baby. Of course I look like crap and need to stuff my face. This is the only one of me Min Gi took in the hospital that doesn't have a boob hanging out. Sorry.

Grandpa! So happy.
We're home now.  At my follow up appointment today, the baby is already gaining weight and is perfectly healthy and happy.  We had a small bumpy start to breast-feeding, but with the help of the lactation consultant at the hospital, that has been resolved and all is well.

Having a baby is totally exhausting, but it's also a LOT more fun than I thought.  I hope you enjoy the update!  I will try to keep up a bit here in between all the lovin'.


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