October 2008

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Top on our priority list when we arrived in CA was to find a daycare center for Ethan as soon as possible.  We had a few shortlisted and as soon as we found time, we started our daycare hunt.  We wanted to get a daycare that was near to where we were staying and let’s be honest, there weren’t many to begin with.

I made an appointment for a short tour at a nearby daycare center, but for the price they were charging (close to USD1600 per month), it wasn’t that all impressive.  Ethan did seem to enjoy himself while we were there though.

Our relocation consultant also managed to locate a few nearby daycare centers, and we visited some 3-4 of them.  Some looked okay, but others were either too far away or we just didn’t have a good feeling about it.  But it certainly became clear that Ethan was VERY ready for daycare. :)

Then Pete googled for a daycare center near where we were staying, and miraculously found one.  We visited the place one fine morning and well, both Pete and I loved it at once.  It’s a home-based daycare, with only a maximum of 6 kids.  Currently the daycare owner is looking after 2 toddlers (around Ethan’s age), and a one-year old baby.  One of the toddlers is her own daughter.  Although this daycare is in a very homely apartment with rather limited space, the daycare owner, Van, has a cute little buggy (it looks like a little train with mini carriages for each kid) that she uses to pull the kids in to the park just across the road.  Best of all, the daycare is only about 10 minutes’ drive away from our apartment and all meals (breakfast, lunch & 2 snacks) will be provided.

The daycare was a rather new one, and it was only gonna be licensed in a few days’ time.  We decided to wait till the daycare was properly licensed before we signed up.  In the US, it is illegal to run a daycare without a license.

So last Monday, as soon as we found out that this daycare was licensed, our relocation consultant drove Ethan and me to the center to settle the billing details.  I decided to leave Ethan there for about an hour while I left to apply for my social security card.  And guess what?  He was all right!  Didn’t make a fuss at all and was all smiles when I came back to pick him up. :)

The next day, Pete dropped Ethan and I at his new daycare in the morning.  The plan was for me to stick around till Ethan was all right with the new surroundings.  And he certainly seemed okay.  He loves all alphabets on the alphabet floor mat, he loves reading the books and playing with all the toys, and he really looks at home there.

 

Pete and I left for lunch that first day, and when we came back from lunch, Ethan was still busy running around.  I stayed at the daycare the rest of the day, busying myself with my laptop (thank goodness there was wi-fi there!)  Ethan hardly bothered me, and he played around with the kids and the toys.

The second day, I was with Ethan in the morning at daycare and left the daycare at lunch time, so Ethan was alone at daycare till we fetched him back in the evening.  So far so good. 

 

On the third day, when Pete picked me up for lunch, and when we told Ethan Mommy and Daddy would pick him up after work, he suddenly bawled!  He cried so loudly, and screamed, “Daddy!  Daddy!”, while hugging Pete ever so tightly.  And then he started to cry for me too.  I simply couldn’t control my tears from falling, but I hardened my heart, gave Ethan a nice big hug and reassured him that we would take him back afterwards.  In between sobs, we left the daycare center.

During lunch that day, Pete and I decided that I would take the car after lunch, so that I would be able to fetch Ethan back earlier.  And that’s exactly what I did.  Boy, was he ever overjoyed to see me!

Actually, I was afraid that he would continue crying the next day when he was dropped off at the daycare, but Pete said Ethan was all excited as soon as Van opened the door and Ethan ran to play with his toys immediately.  Whew!

At daycare now, Ethan is off the bottle.  I’m trying to wean him from the bottle, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.  I only provide a bottle of Pediasure and he drinks it from the cup.  Here in the US, the Pediasure comes in 8oz bottles, and the milk is refrigerated.  So far so good, he has been finishing one bottle at daycare every day.  At home he still takes milk from the bottle though….I’m weaning him a step at a time :)

 

We will also be starting his toilet training soon.  Currently Ethan is able to tell me when he wants to poo, so we need to work on his peepee.

I’m also hoping that Ethan will be adventurous enough to try a variety of foods now that he is in daycare.  I’ve heard that many kids start eating different foods once they see other kids doing the same.

We get reports on what happened at daycare, i.e. what Ethan did, what he ate, what were his activities, etc.  I think it’s a nice touch and at least it helps me know what my Mr Bulat has been up to in my absence.  And last Friday, we even got an Ouch Report, cos there was a teeny accident where Ethan was chasing another toddler around and bumped his little toe on the wall corner.  There was some bleeding and Van applied some antiseptic cream and a BandAid, but unfortunately, Ethan tore the plaster off. :P

As for his afternoon naps, that seems to have been forgotten by Ethan.  Since he started daycare, he has not napped at all in the afternoon.  But actually, he has not napped much in the afternoon since we came to the US.

Yesterday evening, after I fetched him back from daycare, we came back to the apartment and when Ethan saw these on the table, he could hardly resist eating one.  Freshly baked blueberry muffins, just for him!

 

After that he had some strawberry yogurt, and I put his Barney DVD for him to watch while I prepared dinner.  A while later though, I was met by such an adorable sight:

 

Looks like he fell asleep on the couch! :D

Well, he needs all the rest he can get after running around and playing the whole day!  Ethan certainly looks forward to daycare now, he’s say, “Friend!” when we tell him we are taking him to daycare, and sometimes he says, “Bay-bee!”, referring to the one-year old baby.  He even knows how to call “Antee Van!”

Crazy about cars

Ethan received many presents from many people before we left for the States.  Some we were able to ship together with our shipment, but some, unfortunately, we had really no space left in our bags since our shipment had already gone when we received them.

One of the bigger presents that made it in time for the shipment was this rather huge box containing a Matchbox toy ensemble.  It was a present from Ethan’s Kor-Kor, Aunty Pauline, who thought it was time our little boy was exposed to *macho* toys.  Well!

Anyway, when our shipment arrived in the States about a week and half after we did, Ethan was very excited when he saw the Matchbox box, and asked me to open it up for him.  In it was a castle, a dragon, a boulder and a brown truck, among others.

 

Ethan was EXHILARATED!  He was especially enthralled by the car/truck, and he kept saying, “Car! Car!” excitedly.  In fact, he was even willing to forgo his milk just to play with the car.

So when we saw a set of five other Matchbox vehicles on sale for less than USD5, we knew we just had to get it for him.  And got it we did.  The original truck/car that came with the toy set is the one at the far left.  And here’s Ethan’s very cool car collection now, including a helicopter which he loves to make it land on the castle tower.

 

Daddy even taught Ethan how to *play* with cars, complete with sound effects, and not surprisingly, Ethan followed suit.  In fact, Ethan is also asking us to “open” the doors of the cars, but unfortunately the ones he has do not have doors that can be opened.  We’ll put that on the list of things to buy though. 

But you know, I bet once we fix batteries on that castle ensemble, his grin will be even cheekier than this one!

 

Even now when we are more or less settled in the States, I still sometimes think about how Pete and I managed to travel that long-haul journey with Ethan, all the way from Malaysia.  Some planning came into play way before we boarded the aircraft, and although some of our plans worked out, some did not, and we had to be flexible enough to change and adapt accordingly.

Here are some of the things we took into consideration:

  • Travel as light as possible.  Each of us checked in one piece of luggage, and we brought only ONE carry-on luggage.  Pete and I also had our laptops with us, but thankfully, those could be slung over our backs.  The idea here was to have as many hands free as possible, so we could take care of Ethan.

 

  • We packed a few entertainment stuff for Ethan too, among others a brand new doodle pad.   It’s just a tiny one, something he could do to amuse himself.  I also had a sticker book in the bag, and that was a lifesaver.  He played with the stickers right before we boarded the flight to Hong Kong, and the book followed us all the way to the States!

The greatest challenge we faced in the aircraft was when it was time to buckle up.  Sometimes Ethan would cooperate, but most of the time, he preferred to be unbuckled.  So especially during takeoffs and landings, when we absolutely needed to put on the seat belt, Pete pulled out the most “imaginative weapon” ever.  Knowing how much Ethan loves to play with cards, Pete brought out his wallet, and Ethan had fun taking out and putting the cards back in.  That kept him safe and secure all through takeoffs and landings.

We wanted to rely on the toys given by SIA to toddlers for entertaining Ethan, but unfortunately, they weren’t much to shout about.  Well, he did get himself a toy watch, placemat and stickers, deck of cards and a lanyard, but that was about it.

Let’s hope the return journey in a few months’ time would be an improvement, what with us travelling with a baby too!

Ethan at 32 months


Scrap Credits
Beautifall add-on kit from
Scrapmuss Designs
Sweet Dreams alphas from A work in progress
Alpha matching RAIC from Amy Sumrall
Doodle Me Big doodles from Mikkel Paige Original
HoldEmUps from Tara Dunstan
Elegant word art (illegal cute) from Bethany

Weight

About 12 kilos.

Height

88cm.  According to Dr Jessica, he is rather tall for his age.

Teeth

18.

Developmental Milestones

  • Can finally JUMP.  It happened one day during one of his Learning Garden sessions.  He climbed on the trampoline and, while holding Pete’s hands, jumped up and down.  And now he is slowly but surely jumping around more confidently.  In fact, he can hop, skip and jump all over our apartment now!
  • Becoming more and more sociable and less shy when meeting strangers.  Less time is needed for him to “warm up” now. 
  • He has also developed many different new facial expressions, one of my favorites being his cheeky giggle, where he giggles when he is tickled by something funny and he purposely moves his jaw up and down.  Another priceless expression is when he scrunches up his face in a cheeky grin when we ask him to SMILE!
  • He can finally address Daddy and Mommy CONSISTENTLY.  His “Daddy” is very very clear, but his “Mommy” is well…..slightly off-key.  Will reveal what he says later.
  • Our boy is one tough little man.  At his recent 3rd and final jab for his JE vaccination, he didn’t cry one bit when Dr Jessica gave the injection.  He sat quietly and protested at first, but when we told him it would only be a little while, and asked him to be a good boy, he cooperated.

Food and Feeding

Ethan is eating more now, but he still prefers his favorite rice and gravy.  He has kinda lost interest in eating spaghetti and noodles though.  I hope that he will start to eat more meat and vegetables soon.

N.B. Due to my tardiness, I might have left out a few milestones, but I will add them into the upcoming 33 months’ update soon.

One of our primary concerns when we relocated to the States was how Ethan would adapt to the change.  For one thing, Ethan is a very fussy eater, and we were worried if he would be able to accept the food here.  So we tried our best to make the transition as smooth sailing as possible.

With the safe arrival of our FedEx food shipment, we were definitely relieved, because I could now cook dishes Ethan would enjoy, like tau-ewe-bak, chicken serai and claypot chicken rice.  However, my objective is still to have Ethan try out and love a variety of many other different foods.

To make him more comfy in his new environment also, we brought along a little present for him from Malaysia.  And the morning after we arrived, I took it out and asked him to unwrap it.  Knowing how much he adores alphabets and numbers, we got him a set of colorful wooden blocks.  I tell you, just seeing his face light up with excitement was enough to make my day.

 

Well unfortunately, a few days later, he started throwing these blocks around the apartment.  I gave him a warning that I would take them away from him, but when he kept on throwing them, I stored the blocks away one day while he was asleep.  Looks like he doesn’t even miss them though. SIGH.

In the span of the past few weeks that we have been here, we have seen Ethan grow in leaps and bounds.  Not only has he become more sociable and vocal (and stubborn), he seems to have become more independent too.  For one thing, he loves to take his bath, and I attribute this to the bath tubs.  Oh, we got him some colorful foam alphabets and numbers to while his time away in the tub. Hehe.

 

And the first weekend we were here, we had a barbecue gathering by a nearby apartment poolside.  Ethan would only eat raisins and chips though, but he sure made a lot of new friends.

 

It definitely looks like our fears of Ethan having trouble adapting to life in the States are unfounded, because not only has he proven he’s a tough guy, he’s very resilient too.  In fact, when the weather’s chilly, Pete and I are feeling really cold, I feel Ethan’s hands and feet and he’s warm and cosy.

That’s my little man right there…  these pictures were taken a few days ago when we were out having a snack at In-N-Out.  The first picture was taken before the food came:

 

See our grouchy he looks?

And this second one is taken after the meal.  Ethan only had (a lot of) fries, but here’s his look of satisfaction as he enjoys his pink lemonade drink:

 

When Pete and I found out that we were gonna relocate to the States for several months, we were excited about the opportunity presented to us as a family, and most of all, we were ecstatic about the grand experience Ethan was gonna get.

One thing that *kinda* worried us was how Ethan was gonna handle the long 16-17 hours’ flight.  If he decides not to sleep, we are really done for.  So we prayed for the best :)

The flight to Changi was okay, and as expected Ethan was all smiles (and energy) as soon as we landed in Changi airport.  We had a transit time of about 5 hours there, so we took our time exploring the airport, making a few pit stops for Ethan to play in the various play areas strewn across the airport.

 

I must say that I am extremely proud of my little boy for he was able to let me know when he wanted to poo, and I would then bring him to the toilet :)

…although it WAS a challenge to pull him away from the play areas…

 

There were plenty of other attractions at Changi airport too, and Ethan really enjoyed himself looking at the koi ponds…

 

…and a Butterfly Garden too! 

 

Our flight was from Singapore to San Francisco, but we had a short stopover for refueling in Hong Kong.  And right before we boarded our flight from Singapore, our little boy fell asleep, all the way till we boarded and took off, and he only woke up in time for his meal.

In Hong Kong, while having our one-hour stopover, we had to coax Ethan to drink his milk, but all our energizer bunny wanted to do was to run on travellators.  Of course, in the course of coaxing, he threw his tantrums, but thankfully, right before we reboarded the aircraft, he decided to finish his milk.

 

Well, the HK-SFO connection was the really long one which we were worried about.  But our prayers were answered, as Ethan fell asleep a little after we boarded and slept through for about 9 hours straight.  For Ethan, the economy class seat was like business class, but for us, it was CRAMPED.  We tried to request for the front-most seats with more leg room, but we only managed to get the one in the second row.  It didn’t help that the person in front of Pete and me lowered their seats slightly, and throughout the night, it was either Ethan’s head on my lap and his feet on Pete’s lap, or the other way round.  We learnt new forms of contortionism, I tell ya.

Ethan woke up just in time for his meal right before we landed, but unfortunately he would not take much of it…only the fruit yogurt appealed to him.

But we landed, made it through immigration, collected our luggage and headed for our apartment.  We had takeout *dinner* at midnight-ish, and then Ethan went totally excited with the new apartment, complete with TWO bathtubs!  He played around, and only fell asleep at about 3:30a.m.  In fact, we were rather worried we would get complaints from our neighbors downstairs, what with the jumping and hopping around.

And so our adventure has begun….. :)

We made a short trip to KL recently to attend our US Visa interview at the US Embassy, and also to meet up with our siblings.  We’ve explained to Ethan now and again that soon we will all be flying off on a plane to the States (I put in some sound effects for “plane”, which he likes), but we are not sure if he understands where exactly we are going, or even how long “a few months” really is.

Anyway, the Visa interview went well.  Ethan was allowed into the embassy with us, and he entertained himself by counting aloud the numbers as they were called, amusing all the Visa applicants there.

After getting our Visas approved, we headed for lunch:

Saisaki is located right behind Crowne Plaza Mutiara KL, the hotel where we were staying, so it was very convenient for us to get there.  Ethan was very hungry, as were we, and he walloped more than one bowl of rice and chawan mushi all on his own.

While Daddy and Mommy enjoyed the sashimi, steamed cod fish head and even MORE sashimi, Ethan continued with ice cream and (later) blackcurrant juice.

Look how red his lips became after the dose of blackcurrant juice…

…and how hyper he became after all that sugar intake:

Our hotel was very strategically located, as it was only a stone’s throw away from Pavilion KL, so we hung our there too.  Here’s Ethan enjoying himself playing with toys at ELC:

It was a very fruitful trip indeed and I am very proud of Ethan boy for being so well-behaved throughout the trip.

 

Our next long-haul flight journey awaits… :)

Ethan simply loves being in a hotel.  Whenever we bring him on hotel stays, we can tell he really has the time of his life!

In the recent weeks, we have had the chance of staying in a few different hotels.  When we checked into the E&O recently, Ethan immediately made himself at home in the room.

He loved playing with the oranges they provided, and asking us to turn on the TV for him, switching channels here and there, but most of all, he adored the bath tub.

He would keep saying “Tub! tub!”, and it wasn’t long before he figured out how to climb into the tub on his own.  There was no trouble at all getting him to take his bath.  At home, we sometimes need to chase him around the house to get him to take a shower, but here in the hotel (with a bathtub), he will willingly undress and climb in.

After his bath, and his nightcap, he still would not sleep, but instead chose to climb onto a chair and “see” outside the window.  It was raining cats and dogs that night, and Ethan was truly intrigued.  He especially like the “fan”-shaped tree, which could be clearly visible from our window.

 

So when we were in KL a few days ago, and we stayed in Crowne Plaza Mutiara KL, where the room had a tub, we knew our boy would be really excited! 

And he was :)

Bubbles everywhere!!!  He even tricked Pete by calling “Daddy! Daddy!” and when Daddy came to see him in the tub, he splashed bubbles and foam all over his Daddy.  Cheeky lil fella.  I wonder if he remembers his very first trip in this same hotel about a year back…

He is becoming quite the pro at using the bathtub now and he really makes full use of the tub by lying down and enjoying the bubbles, and then flipping over and kicking the water with his feet, as if he was swimming.  Then he would make waves with his arms and stomp around the tub while screaming in delight.

We think Ethan will really love it in the States, where our apartment comes with TWO bathtubs.  Well…we’ll see then, won’t we? :)

 

October 2008
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