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Now that Benji is sleeping through the night again (Praise the Lord!!), I have more time and energy to do stuff for me!! The blog was left quite unattended for a few months, and now it’s time to do a quick round-up of what we’ve been up to the last few months. I’ve decided to write more down whenever possible, to keep the memories alive and eventually publish a journal for Benj for his 18th or 21st birthday.

November

We celebrated Benji’s first birthday! The Koreans do a big celebration for their kids’ 1st birthdays, a tradition called Dol. Typically, the kid and parents wear the traditional Korean outfit, a Hanbok. Other rituals include prayers, giving of Korean cakes to friends and relatives, song and dance, as well as a fortune telling ritual of predicting a child’s future career by getting him/her to pick an object from a few placed in their reach. But because Benji is only half-Korean (technically, half Korean-American), and his dad (the Korean) does not really care for traditions, we only incorporated the hanbok and fortune telling ritual for fun. 🙂 We laid out a pair of sunglasses, a spatula, a stethoscope, a pen, and a book.

You must be dying to know what he picked: a pair of sunglasses! Which was meant to be a symbol for superstar. The next Psy, perhaps? The weather was quite warm that day, but we still had a great time celebrating it with a lovely barbecue at a nearby park.

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Oh, I also made my first cake. The cake recipe was taken from here (allergy-free recipe) (I’ve also made cupcakes from it for my coworkers, who have since demanded I share the recipe with them and made them a few times for their family/friends!!). And the actual cake idea was taken from this website. Overall, the exercise was a bit stressful since it was my first attempt at a cake, but thankfully everything went okay and the cake turned out yummy and almost like how it was supposed to look!

Two days later, Benji started walking on his own…and since then, it’s been mayhem!!

December

We were extremely busy with Christmas and hanging out at various parks with friends. We even made it to the beach once!

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January

Singapore!! Benji’s dad had to attend a conference in the States, and because peak season travel tickets to the US was ridiculously exorbitant, I decided to go to Singapore instead so the fam and friends could hang out with Benji (and me). It was a fantastic trip. I had a bit more freedom this trip than last because I’m no longer breastfeeding and my kind parents were more than happy to babysit him in the day and night while I went off shopping and meeting friends for coffees/late dinners. (Thank you, mom n dad!!!)

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After we returned from overseas, Benji, Bry, and I went for a short overnight trip to the Mornington Peninsula. We also went to the aquarium with some friends!

We’re really having fun with Benji these days, especially at the parks and playgrounds (and the beach!).20130131-134612.jpg

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This has been our best Melbourne summer yet.

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Benji getting “babysat” by his grandparents from Los Angeles

This morning, a good friend who lives in Vancouver posted a link on Facebook to this magazine article on the NYTimes titled “Skype Projections and Family Reunions.” In a nutshell, the article was about using Skype to help unite and photograph families spread around the globe in a single family portrait. This idea/project was cleverly devised by a Singaporean photographer based in New York who first experimented it with his own family who still lives in Singapore. Since both Bry and I live overseas from our home countries (USA and Singapore respectively), I was able to completely relate to this article and how virtual media has helped create this bridge for us with our families. What a great idea, isn’t it???

Thanks to Skype and Google chat, our families are able to have face-to-face time on video chat with Benji and “interact” with him. In fact, there have been a couple times when Benji’s grandparents were able to successfully “babysit” him for us by entertaining him on Skype, while we cleaned up the house! For us, there is no escape from social media. Facebook, Flickr, Skype, Youtube, and even this blog serve as a tool to connect with our families and friends. Yes, I do worry about privacy sometimes and have to be very careful about not leaving too much personal information online. We have also left our Flickr and Youtube accounts strictly for family and personal friends to visit. But overall, it is too difficult to put too much red tape around as some of our families aren’t very internet savvy.

Do you use social media and the internet to connect with your loved ones?

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The Butchart Gardens is gorgeous. Having the sunny weather today created an even prettier atmosphere for this walk. I liked that the gardens had different styles of landscapes within and that they had their unique story. Take the sunken garden for example: it used to be a limestone quarry n Mrs Butchart decided to make a garden out of it. The result? A gorgeous layered garden with lovely aerial views of it.

Bry took Benji to hang out with his friend who lives on the island so it was just me, my dad, mom, and aunt at the gardens. Although the garden tour took just a couple hours, it was rather refreshing to spend time being the daughter/niece/baby with my folks. 🙂

That wrapped up our short but sweet trip to Victoria Island. On our way back to Vancouver!

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Today’s weather in Vancouver was AMAZING. It really felt like spring (or just another ordinary day in SoCal…oh yeah, I miss that place quite a bit!).

With Benji’s eczema being so unpredictable and the sides of his face starting to act up again (much to my distress) I had to cancel plans to go on an Arts Stroller walk around town with a mother’s group. Instead, I took a short walk with him around the neighborhood with him in the stroller…but that really exacerbated his eczema on the face. The sides that took so long to heal are now weeping again. Today Benji’s skin on his body flared up as well. Is the sleeping bag another cause of his flare-ups? Was it because I had zucchini – a supposedly safe vegetable but one that I rarely eat – for lunch and dinner yesterday? Is he allergic to the fish oil or probiotics? I don’t know. I don’t understand. And I know I’m not alone on this but I hate not knowing. Sigh.  Regression, just after a small celebratory post just a couple days ago. Argh.

This is life with a child who needs extra attention. I have to learn to accept that…before all this, I had plans to take him to baby swim classes after he passes his 4 month mark, attend post-natal pilates classes that I can take Benji to as well, and go for coffees and walks with moms I had met here. But all of that is now put on hold. Indefinitely. Adjustments.

Anyway, after daddy got home from work, we took a walk with Benji in the Bjorn. The Bjorn has worked for us really well in terms of transporting Benji around in such a way that he does not have any opportunity to scratch his face or head since his arms are strapped to the sides.

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Just a few more days till our Ped Dermatologist’s appointment. Fingers crossed his skin won’t get even worse anymore.

Till then, I need to really REALLY learn to take a deep breath, trust God, and relax.

We woke up to some light snow on the city that was enough to accumulate on the ground (unlike the one we had a few days ago that was awesome but too warm for snow to collect). To most people, this is nothing, but to someone who grew up in a tropical country and went to overseas colleges and grad school in warmer climates like Australia and Southern California, this is pretty special!!

I quickly nursed Benji and immediately after that, the three of us took a short walk up the down the block to soak in the winter atmosphere in our neighborhood before it disappeared (and it did, about 2 hours later).

Wonder what other surprises February 29th will bring…

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Benji just turned 2 months! Gosh, I feel like he’s a lot older than that because so much has happened in that time. We’ve had my parents visit and leave, celebrated Christmas and the New Year, packed up our apartment in Melbourne to make space for family subleasing the place, visited my in-laws in Southern California, and moved to Vancouver, Canada. All that is plenty of action for an adult let alone a brand new baby! But little Benji is taking it all in pretty well. Like his mom and dad, he’s been going with the flow and taking in all the new sights and sounds like a champ.

Aside from the couple days of jetlag cum growth spurt days, Benji has now settled into a routine where he’ll feed once every 3-4 hours in the day, have his last feed at about 7 or 8 in the evening, and then sleep for about 6-7 hours until the next feed early in the morning at around 3. I like this timing because that gives Bry and me some time to ourselves to unwind, have dinner together, and spend time with each other. Some people have suggested to us to wake Benji up at around 11pm for a feed in the hope that he will then sleep through the next till about 5am (which will in turn give us that nice stretch of sleep) but I’m afraid that might mess up his “natural” schedule. Having said that, it is very tempting to try…

At 2 months, Benji is also cooing a lot more and treating us with much more smiles and laughters, both spontaneous and responsive ones. He’s now able to hold his head up for at least half a minute, and can turn his head from side to side effortlessly. His palms are also a lot more open and he’s sucking his fingers more, which is a sign that he’s exploring his hands. I’m also thankful that we only needed to use the dummy/pacifier with him once as he is for the most part not all that fussy a baby. His cries are mostly because of the following:

  • hunger
  • wet/soiled diaper
  • weariness
  • gassy tummy

and most recently though very rarely…

  • in need of attention

I’m excited to spot more developments for example, today, I noticed that he was actually trying to hit Mr. Giraffe in his play gym, something that he was doing by accident just a few days ago. Good movements, Benji!