No more bathtub seat for Pookster

When I was setting up Kaia’s bath this evening, I realized that given her size and length now, she really doesn’t even need her seat anymore. First, we started her as a tiny newborn in the newborn sling; then we detached it and had her sit up in the bathtub seat at around 4 months. And now, at almost 18 months, she’s graduated and no longer needs the seat. We probably could have nixed the seat earlier, but I just got used to the habit of having it, really. So we bid farewell to the seat today and I detached it from her baby bathtub. Soon, she will no longer even need the baby bath tub and will be able to bathe comfortably and slip free in the regular bath tub. Recently, she’s also gotten frustrated with having water dunked over her head, so lots of interesting developments as she gets older.

The worst teething case now thus far

Kaia has not been happy. She has some side front teeth coming out, and surprise surprise: the pain seems to be the worst, even worse than her molars. With her molars, I was actually quite surprised that four popped out in her mouth with very little fussing or noticeable pain from her. With these two side front teeth, she’s so upset that she’s barely eaten anything over the last day, even her usual favorites. Even bread hurts her; she took a few bites and screamed.

Chris didn’t think it would be fun or productive to go out and about with her today, so we decided to stay home and let her rest. We walked around the building and in the common areas. I made some apple sauce, banana, and chia seed (ABC) cookies for her, which she ate four of in one go, so at least that was a hit. But we ended up not really leaving the building at all today, which is strange for us on a Saturday. Hopefully, she will be better tomorrow to go out.

Baby comes home in a diaper two sizes too small

Earlier this week when we brought Kaia home from daycare, she was wearing a diaper we did not recognize — with an Elmo design on it. I didn’t think much of it; I figured the teachers got the diapers mixed up once, and I let it go. But then today, she came home with a Target brand diaper (which we buy), but it was a size 3; that’s two sizes smaller than the diaper she typically wears. Plus, it was super tight on her. After changing, I realized she had a bit of a rash on her butt, and I started applying some diaper rash cream. All rashes are inevitably going to be uncomfortable, but a diaper rash is worse because given the fact that this area is always covered with a diaper other than during diaper changes and baths, it has no time or “air” to breathe and be free, which makes it even more susceptible to getting worse over time.

I was willing to let it go with the first diaper, but with the second diaper, I was definitely annoyed… not just because it was someone else’s diaper, but because the diaper was just too small. And who knows – maybe that small diaper is what ultimately caused Kaia’s rash? It would be hard to prove, but she has never before had any type of diaper rash, not even a small one. Also, this would mean that Kaia’s diapers are likely being used on someone else! So I sent a note to the teachers to address the problem. Whatever their response will be, I know for sure it will not just simply be a scowl or death stare that assumes zero accountability the way I used to get for even the most benign feedback from our ex-nanny.

Eating dinner out: how it’s different with a baby/toddler

My friend suggested going out to eat next Friday night, but I told her that I wouldn’t be able to go out (or, at least, not that far) because Chris already had tentative plans to go out to eat with his friends, and so I’d need to be with Pookster. She responded that she could still come over, and suggested we could still eat out and just take Kaia with us.

While that sounds like an easy solution… it’s not as easy as a non-parent would think. Kaia really shouldn’t stay out too late given her age, and to keep her on schedule (and away from crankiness), we need to keep her bedtime at around 7-7:30. So that means we would need to eat early, closer to 5-5:30pm when she typically eats, and ease her into her sleepy time before then. A lot of people think parents are just being inflexible with schedules, but schedules are what babies and toddlers need to thrive. They need a schedule and a level of predictability in a world of chaos. It keeps them grounded, and it prevents things like tantrums, hunger, and over-tiredness, which then results in baby mood swings.

What’s likely going to happen is that we’ll probably get takeout somewhere. I’ll pick Kaia up a bit early from daycare, and we’ll eat at home and hang out until she has to go to bed. It’s much easier to hang out with friends with baby in tow during the day as opposed to dinner time for this reason. It’s a temporary adjustment given the stage of life we’re currently in now. But as with all stages, it has its time and is temporary, so I’m happy with it because I know it will pass.

Kaia’s development: connecting words to objects, and saying her own name

Out of nowhere this week, Kaia has started yelling out her own name. She will just say “Kaia! Kaia!” over and over again, and so it’s clear she’s fully recognizing that this is her name. She would always look up for the most part if I called out her proper name, Kaia, or even Pookie or Pookster. I wonder if we are confusing her by calling her so many endless nicknames…?

The other cute thing she’s doing is that she’s recognizing animals and sounds, and words to objects. In different books we read, she recognizes the dog named Pal; when I ask her what this is when pointing at the dog, she responds, “woof woof!” and when I point at the cat, she responds, “Meow!” She also knows who Arthur is (one of her favorite books), Bluey, and she even has started pointing at pictures where there’s the beach and shouting out “watty! (her word for “water”). Sometimes, she will speed ahead to her favorite parts of books. It’s been really sweet and endearing to see this level of development.

During play, she’s also started stacking multiple blocks on top of each other, and she seems to understand more nuances of other toys I’ve been picking up for her through our Buy Nothing group. It really is like what Chris said: literally since our nanny quit, her development has truly exploded. I wonder if that’s a sign of something?

Sun exposure and sun protection – what you learn over time

It doesn’t seem to matter whether I put thick layers of SPF 50 or a wide brimmed hat onto my baby: she always seems to tan so easily. Chris insists that she has inherited his melanin (even though she’s nowhere as dark as he is), and so she doesn’t need as much sunblock application as I like to put on. The thing is: even when you put on SPF 50, you are never 100% protected from the sun. An SPF that high protects you from about 97% of UV rays on average, so the sun is still penetrating the other 3%. Plus, the only real way to be protected from the sun is to be covered up with clothes, sunglasses, a hat, or to stay out of the sun completely. Just because you aren’t getting sunburnt does not mean that you are not getting any sun damage.

I want to make sure Pookster understands and practices safe sun exposure as early as possible. I don’t want her to to think that tanning is a healthy practice, and I especially do not want her to think that she’s invincible from getting sunburned just because of her skin color. Clouds are not a protection from the sun! People still get tanned and burned on cloudy days! Covering up and applying sunscreen liberally are your best bets to keep sun burns and premature wrinkles (and eventually, sun spots and freckles) away! No one ever educated me on this when I was little. I learned all of this on my own — oddly, through magazines like Teen and Seventeen when I was 11.

I was lazy about wearing a wide-brimmed hat up until very, very recently. I’ve always hated wearing a hat in the summer because my head sweats, and I feel even more gross as a result. But then it suddenly hit me last December: why are there are these new freckles and sun spots on my face? Wearing sunscreen and big sunglasses just is not enough as I ignorantly used to think, and these stupid spots are only going to get worse as I approach middle age! So even though I’ve been borderline obsessive about applying and reapplying sunscreen, I’ve finally admitted to myself that this just isn’t enough. As I have gotten older, I have also changed my stances on certain practices… like wearing hats. But I guess this also means I can just start buying more hats to add to my wardrobe. I just hope I don’t lose them like I have lost two before (one in South Africa, and one in India. I mean, I just wasn’t used to looking after a hat!).

Walking progress one month later

It really is amazing to watch a tiny baby develop into an opinionated, assertive little toddler. In just the last month, Kaia has started walking. While she was initially quite robotic and would leave her arms in front of her like a little robot, she’s been getting the hang of balance and has been walking more with her arms at her side now. It’s especially gotten more conspicuous that she’s more at ease walking now during this trip: wandering around the hotel grounds and pool, you can tell that she’s more confident as a tiny human walking around. She’s even proactively tried to walk up the pool stairs several times. Initially, she seemed quite resistant and refused, insisting to crawl and climb up instead. But after some initial coaxing, she finally started walking up, one step at a time, as long as I held her hand. By the end of the trip, while she still needed to hold my hand going up, she was more than willing to do it.

My sweet baby is growing into a cheeky, assertive toddler. It’s still hard to believe that just one year ago, she was just starting to roll over and had these super chubby cheeks and just a little bit of hair on top. Every day, I look at her and think, even though she can be stubborn and difficult and not listen to what I say, she’s still my little miracle baby.

Swim diapers and their purpose

When you have a baby and you’d like to get her in the pool and ocean, you likely are debating what kind of swim diaper to have for her. There are two main types of swim diapers: single use, disposable, and reusable cloth ones that you just wash after each use. Contrary to what some may assume, swim diapers do NOT soak up or hold urine; if a baby pees while in a pool, the urine basically just gets into the water. A swim diaper’s main purpose is to hold poop. But, if you do recognize that your baby has pooped while in a swim diaper in the pool, it would be best practice for you to take your baby out IMMEDIATELY and get her cleaned up and changed. No one wants to know they are swimming in a pool with baby poop somewhere. Be nice to your fellow swimmers/pool attendees.

We’ve been getting Kaia acquainted with the pool and ocean water for about the last year. She’s mainly been in our building’s pool, but we’ve also had her go to the beach with us and pools at hotels where we’ve stayed during our trips. We thought we had been clear this whole time, never experiencing her pooping in a pool before… until I got her ready for her bath tonight after some pool time at the resort pool, and when I pulled down her diaper to put her into the bath, a big ball of brown poop plopped out.

Welp, I guess our streak of no poop in the pool has officially ended!

Isla Mujeres and riding on a golf buggy

Today, we took a day trip to Isla Mujeres, which is about 13 kilometers from Cancun. It’s a popular destination for locals for day trips, as well as Mexican and international tourists as a place to stay overnight or on vacation given the tranquil, clear waters and the fun island vibe. The island is small, but too big to walk all around it, so we rented a golf buggy to tour the island for the day. I wasn’t totally sure how we would get around when we got there. Chris left us at the ferry station to go find the best deal on a golf buggy, and when he returned, he pulled up in one.

The last time I was on a golf buggy was in 2017, when we were in Hamilton Island for Chris’s cousin’s wedding. Then, I didn’t have to worry about a baby or a stroller, as it was just the two of us. With Kaia, being on a golf buggy would definitely be a bit different. We had left the baby carrier to strap on me in the car back at the ferry station parking lot, so I knew I’d have to hold her tightly while on the golf buggy. In the beginning, she whined a bit being held down, but when she realized we were moving and going up and down bumps, she calmed down and started to enjoy the ride. All I have to say is: it’s a good thing she’s 1.5 years old and more sturdy now. I’m not totally sure how I would have felt if we had done a trip like this a year ago without the baby carrier to strap her into!

A generous and friendly samaritan on the road from Chichen Itza

Today, we crossed the state border from Quintana Roo and entered Yucatan, the state of Mexico famous for the Yucatecan Mayan archeological site Chichen Itza. Once upon a time when Chichen Itza was fully open to the public, you could climb the very steep stairs up the main Temple of Kulkulcan. Unfortunately, we learned from our guide that since 2006, the temple steps have permanently closed, and no one is allowed to go up. A sad event led to this closure: an 80-year old woman climbed up the steep steps, only to fall all the way down during her descent. There’s definitely a sense of vertigo on steps that steep, and given how high it was, and the vibrations and echoes you hear in the complex…. her fall would have been quite brutal, not just for her, but for literally everyone else there who could hear the fall.

Initially, I was a little disappointed to hear that we couldn’t climb up. The first time I visited Mexico City, I went to visit the famous Teotihuacan Aztec site, and I remember climbing up the steep steps of the temples there. I had a lot of vertigo climbing down the steps and remember thinking how much more challenging it would be if I had to carry something (or someone!) down with me. But it was really enjoyable to have that experience of being at the top and envisioning what it would have been like to be a part of this ancient civilization from so long ago. Given we had Kaia with us, plus our stroller, I didn’t really care much about this after I thought about it. It just would have been a lot more nerve racking and scary in our case with a baby, or we’d just have to go up and down one at a time while the other stayed on the ground with her.

On our way there, Chris missed the sign that would have expedited our drive to Chichen Itza, so while we added some time to our trip there, we reduced the cost of the trip, as there are road tolls, and they are quite steep (and apply both to and from). On our way back, though, we miscalculated how much cash in pesos we had in my wallet. When we got to the toll booth, I was a little bit worried because when I counted the cash, we had approximately 20 pesos (just over $1 USD) less than what the toll sign said (the toll was 385 pesos; we had about 365). When Chris told the toll booth worker that this was all we had in cash, she told us to move the car to the side of the road; she was not going to let us through. I tried to ask if we could use credit card, but they didn’t accept them, nor did they accept U.S. dollars. After about five minutes of waiting, another worker came up to us to ask if we had U.S. dollars. We didn’t realize this at the time, but they weren’t going to accept them. They were going to ask if ANOTHER car had change for the U.S. dollars in pesos. We didn’t realize what was happening until another car gestured towards us, paid a toll, and sped away, and the worker explained that we could go through and didn’t have to give them any cash at all. So…. THAT RANDOM CAR was so kind and generous to pay our entire toll (that’s about $21.94 USD), not just the tiny $1 amount we didn’t have! They must have taken pity on us because they saw our baby in the backseat. We didn’t even get a chance to thank them for their generosity and altruism given they had already driven off.

It’s easy to forget with all the horrible news, the Reddit rants, the parent group complaints about spouses, parents, in-laws, friends, and nannies, but friendly, generous, kind people are all over the world. These are people who do a lot for others, even complete strangers, and expect absolutely nothing in return… not even a thanks. It’s in moments like these when I am reminded of that, and it’s a reminder to me to pay it forward to others.